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              Queen Kraylan Keegan sobbed. Tears streamed across her face and landed on the colorful quilt atop her bed. She held her fist tightly against her chest, as close to her heart as she could keep it. Inside her hand, the queen held the last piece of him she had. It was a gold ring he had given her the day he last visited - the day he promised to return to her. It was the last time she ever felt his touch.

                That day, Queen Kraylan felt heartache. She longed to be with the one she loved more than life itself. That day paled in comparison to the agony she felt at this very moment. The only thing she could do was cry. It kept away the anger, the rage that boiled with in her. That feeling and the power it created had always caused her panic. She was a peaceful elf at heart; however, she knew deep down this monster would someday rear its ugly head. Queen Kraylan hoped that the tears would drowned the beast, or at least wash it out to calmer seas within her soul and allow her the time to mend her broken heart - the time to regain her courage to fight the beast on her own.

She lifted her head and shuddered as she gasped for air. It entered her lungs with such force, reclaiming the space that had been vacated when she learned the news of her love’s demise. Now, she opened her eyes for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. The room was dimly lit and cast in heavy shadows. A few candles burned along the wall beside her. The tears remaining in her green eyes distorted her vision slightly causing the objects around her to appear differently.

Maybe they are different now? She thought. My world has changed forever. Nothing is as it was before.

The queen slowly raised from the bed, which was now saturated with her tears. She still held her hand close to her chest. Now, standing at the window, she watched the world before her. The winds from Michi Mountains seemed even brisker than usual tonight as though they were sent to chill her aching heart. Strands of her thick red hair clung to her wet cheeks. She brushed them aside and swallowed hard in a feeble attempt to regain her composure. Another deep breath and she could feel her heart beat slowing.

“My Queen,” called the concerned voice of her commanding officer, Atom Kaval. He had been the only one at her side when she felt that horrible sensation of her love’s death. Atom patiently awaited her response from the hallway, just outside her door.

She didn’t respond as she opened her hand to reveal the ring. It was so large in her palm.

“My Queen?”

“Gather a party, Atom.” She turned to him, eyes red from weeping.

He was stunned by her appearance but didn’t show it. He was a gifted warrior and had been trained to keep his emotions in balance during battle. This battle, however, was far different than those he had ever fought before. It was devastating to witness his leader, his mentor, his chosen queen, so utterly distraught. Emotions lined up like warriors ready for battle at the frontlines, but he held them at bay.

“A party, but where are we going?” Atom feared where she might send them in her current state.

“Cadieux Castle, Atom,” she replied, wiping away the tears.

Atom glanced at the queen clutching something to her chest. He wasn’t aware of the treasured gift inside her hand. He nodded his compliance but wished to speak. He hesitated. It was not respectful to question the judgement of the queen; however, he was fully aware of the willingness of the Keegan Warriors to act upon her wishes. They didn’t understand the state she was in, and Atom needed to trust that her motives where pure and level-headed.

“My Queen, may I enter?”

Queen Kraylan nodded but stiffened her posture. She knew what was coming.

Atom only took a few steps into the queen’s chambers before stopping, feet together. He stood taller than most elves. His figure was imposing in almost any room. Atom wore the uniform of the Keegan Warriors: A dark brown chest plate and boots, yellow pants and shirt with short sleeves, and dark green wrist bands and shoulder guards. His blade was kept on his left hip in a leather sheath. Atom felt his nerves getting the better of him. He would set to any task that Queen Kraylan gave, but it did not mean he was without reservations.

“I offer my condolences, as I cannot understand what this loss truly means to you.”

The queen turned her head to the side and closed her eyes. The roar of the beast returned.

“I cannot conceive the struggle you must face,” Atom hesitated. He took a moment to choose his words carefully to not offend. The queen continued to avoid eye contact as she struggled to compose herself. “However, I do not believe that warring with our brethren from Cadieux is advisable during this…time.”


The air began to bring in snow through the open window. It fluttered around the queen’s slender frame. Atom stood patiently, awaiting her response.

“I do not wish to go to war with Cadieux, Atom,” she spoke faintly. Her words seemed to barely escape her lips but floated on the winds to Atom’s ears. “War will only cause more pain and death. That is something that I do not wish upon anyone in Mistasia. There has been far too much of that in recent times.”

Queen Kraylan lifted her head and opened her eyes yet still looked away from Atom. He had long been a friend to her, even before the elves of Keegan proclaimed that she would be their queen. Unlike Cadieux, this land chose its leaders from worthy candidates, usually warriors, not familial lineage.  

Atom stood firmly at attention, when the queen turned her gaze upon him, and took two steps forward. The wind rustled her hair giving her an angelic appearance. Tonight, Queen Kraylan did not wear her customary uniform. Instead, she wore a flowing pale yellow gown, which danced about her slight frame as she walked.

“No, my friend, I intend to form an alliance with Cadieux.”

“An alliance?” Atom was stunned by this revelation. The elves of Michi Mountains had remained hidden for so long, self-ostracizing themselves from the Land of Mistasia and their distant cousins to the south. “Why form an alliance after all this time, My Queen?”

Queen Kraylan stepped closer and extended her arm, placing a hand upon his cheek. She half smiled and her eyes welled with emotion as she gently glided her thumb across his smooth skin.

“To turn their eyes blind.”

Atom suddenly felt something he hadn’t before in her touch, a raging flame. It warmed his cheek and caused him to pull away. The monster deep within had awakened and for a split second had overtaken her heart. The queen gasped and turned away, returning to the frosty winter breeze at her window.

“You mean to deceive them?” Atom questioned with more resolve than he had ever mustered in her presence. He approached her cautiously, like she was an uncontrolled flame dancing before him. Reaching for her with an unsure arm, Atom wished to comfort his queen…his friend.

“I…I do not…” Her breathing was erratic and labored. Her lungs felt closed off. Doubled over, not in pain, but in an attempt to maintain the burning inside her, Queen Kraylan Keegan was succumbing to its call. The monster within was winning this battle. No longer was the frigid sting from winter’s cold winds going to temper the beast.

“I do,” Kraylan spoke. Her voice much stronger than before. “I plan to bring Cadieux closer to mask my true wish.”

“And what is it you wish, My Queen?”

Kraylan was unrecognizable when she turned. She was still the same in color and size, yes, but her face was different. Her eyes were dark and intense, no longer full of pain but anger and revenge. Her mouth once supple and inviting was now rigid and curled with a devilish smile.

“I know where the answer hides,” she spoke while she moved, forcing Atom to back away. “Cadieux hides it from us, but we will infiltrate them and cause them to lower their defenses. They will believe that we are their allies, and then I will retrieve it.”

“Retrieve what?” Atom found himself retreating. She had slowly backed him into the corner.

She leaned in and whispered into his ear, “The Gossamer Pen.”

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