The Solitude of Duty
This saga was started by Mark Gardner over at Article 94. He explains the origins of this Snow White / Terminator mashup as a preface to Part I, “The Brass Automaton.” I would recommend starting there of course. You’ll also find just below links to the rest of the stories to date for your convenience before our current tale begins.
|| Sky walked along the edge of Rennoc Woods, taking grim solace in Cloud Dancer’s ease. The roan gelding wasn’t even so much as wicking, despite the unnatural quiet. On the outskirts of the Wilds, this area was too far from anything to have been more than lightly touched by Ceridwen’s Evil. She was following the long, undulating treeline with her eyes when she felt Cloud Dancer pull back on his lead. She casually continued on for a few steps before dropping his lead, spinning and drawing her brass scimitars.
“Good morning, Mistress Sky,” King Odc said, holding out a hand of oats to Cloud Dancer. She gave Cloud Dancer only the briefest of glares with a near silent mutter of, “Traitor,” before sheathing her scimitars and regarding Odc.
“And a good morning to you too, your Highness. I have been dispatched by-”
“The Queen, yes, we know,” snapped Prymgu, emerging from the underbrush with the rest of the Dwarves, “It’s why we’re here, surrounded by trees and grass instead of decent rock.”
“I am impressed. I’ve never let anyone sneak up on me, let alone seven,” Sky said with a grudging nod towards the Dwarven King.
“Cause they weren’t Dwarfs,” sneered Prymgu, just as Poedy tripped in the underbrush with a loud crash, tumbling and rolling down the slight embankment to a stop at Sky’s feet.
“You were saying Master Prymgu?” Sky said as Poedy looked up at her with a resigned grin.
Instead of answering Prymgu merely stalked off beyond the placid Cloud Dancer to hostilely stare at the distance in silence with Lubfash.
With a small shake of her head for Prymgu, Sky knelt before Odc, pulling a leather pouch from inside her cloak. He undid its bindings pulling out the shard and stoppered bottle. He undid the stopper and gently wafted its essence towards his prodigious nose before dropping to his knees next to Sky. “Is this…” he paused, restoppering it as the other six encircled the kneeling pair. “Are these Queen Snow’s tears?”
“Yes. She wept over her fallen Sisters, though in truth I believe her heart grieves for every loss that Ceridwen has caused, be it a Tenyks, horse, or tree.”
They murmured variations of, “Powerful Magick,” amongst themselves as Sky looked up in wonderment. “I don’t understand, King Odc. Even when Snow tried to explain it to me, it still made little sense.”
“Some spend a lifetime studying Magick and it still makes naught sense for them either. Time keeps everything from jumbling together all at once, but Magick isn’t so persnickety. A clouded shard and this vial of tears can only mean your Queen is after the Enchanted Mirror itself.”
“But the shards came from the Mirror when it was destroyed?”
“Aye. Meaning she wants to destroy it thoroughly this time.”
“She wants to destroy a mirror that was already destroyed?” Sky asked sarcastically.
“Essentially yes!” Zeysne excitedly said, punctuated by a sneeze.
“Zeysne knows more Magick Lore than the rest of us combined,” vouched King Odc with a solemn nod.
“You see,” started Zeysne, stifling another sneeze, “The unbroken Mirror and shard exist outside of Time’s domain through Magick.”
“How does that not lead to chaos?” asked Sky, “How is that not chaos?”
“We think, think, that since both Time and Magick ultimately lead to Chaos, they cannot be wholly unalike. The only real difference is that Time’s rules are simple and strict, while Magick’s are arcane and malleable. What your Queen has given us is the means to use Magick’s rule that ‘like’ things interact with greater strength to find the Enchanted Mirror.
“This shard was sundered from the Mirror when it, ‘died.’ These tears, already potent Magick themselves, also came from deep loss.” Zeysne paused to sneeze before continuing, “So we can use the tears to reanimate the shard, loss for loss. The connection will be so strong, it’ll create a line to the Mirror visible enough for us to follow, if only for a short time.”
“You can actually see the Magick?”
“Me? No, unfortunately, though it would immensely help my studies. No, the only one of us who can actually see the ripples of Magick is Pelyse.”
“Yeah,” interjected Prymgu, “cause he’s always half in that world anyway!”
King Odc took Sky’s hand seeing her frustration. “The world of Dream’s is the veil between our world of Time and the world of Magick. Zeysne will use the Queen’s tears of sorrow to renew the shard, creating a connection to the Mirror itself that Pelyse can see, and thus letting us track it to where Ceridwen hid it.”
“Then we have a chance to not just end the Evil Queen herself, but her very curse!”
Sky stood up with Odc, but her triumphant smile suddenly chilled at Odc’s countenance.
“You, Sky, are going to have to help us though, and it will be harder than anything you’ve ever done,” he said gravely.
“Name it,” she said, hearkening back to her talk with Snow.
“You must understand, it is the only way we will be able to undo the spell in its entirety.”
“She told me you would ask something of me King Odc. I gave her my word. So name your task. I am ready.”
“I know you believe you are, but this will require more commitment and discipline than you can imagine.”
Sky inhaled deeply, remembering her promise, “I have prepared myself, King Odc-”
Prymgu interrupted her with a loud snort, “Bah! Enough! He just doesn’t want to tell you you’re going to have to kill your Queen.”