Queen of Shadows

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There is a Queen hungry for power and for vengeance. There is a Queen who will stop at nothing to get it. Four years ago Klaus Bauer woke up being born again. His sixteen years worth of memories suddenly vanished, along with everything he used to know. In the last four years Klaus learnt how to live the rough life as a poor peasant in the Land of Brân. With blood on his hands and a knack for stealing valuables, Klaus Bauer soon became the most feared and well respected criminal in the Kingdom. One day he is captured and thrown into the dungeons of Bran’s Castle, where Queen Branwen tests his cruelty and ruthlessness for her own selfish gain. She wants to use Klaus to murder the remaining three queens of the Fourlands so that she can steal their thrones, their power and their magic.

Fantasy / Romance
Glesni Daly
Age Rating:


THERE IS A stained glass window on the spiralling steps that lead up to the Guards Tower, giving them the perfect location to overlook the castle and its surrounding grounds as well as the woods, the sea and the village.

Out of all the places in her castle, this is where Branwen likes to visit the most. It is peaceful, secluded and so high up that the majority of her advisors would never climb the hundreds of steps to try and find her.

Years ago when Branwen was a little girl, the Guards Tower used to be her mothers bedroom. She remembered the old telescope poking out the window as the reason why the Queen of Brân preferred to sleep in the tower, which its walls were decorated with maps of the sky and its brightest stars. Growing up she’d spend various nights in the tower with her mother and sister, making wishes for every shooting star and promises to last a lifetime. Once, Branwen wished that their father would return from the war alive and well. Little did Branwen expect her whole life to change for the worst the moment King Llŷr returned to Brân.

A lump formed in her throat at the nostalgia. Branwen clenched her fists together and refocused her attention on the stained glass window.

Now she wished he never returned at all.

A crack in the sky interrupted her thoughts as the entire stairwell sparked to light for a split second. Outside rain started to brutally pour on the surrounding grounds, where the prisoners where brought back inside the castle for protection from the storm. Thunder clapped in the darkened sky and a tree at the edge of the forest collapsed.

Lightning flashed again. Branwen straightened her posture to get a better view of what was happening on the grass near the fallen trees. One of her prisoners kneeled to the floor—too far away for her to witness any emotional features, but her pleas were loud enough to be heard, carried by the roaring wind to please Branwen’s ears.

A guard dressed in black Brân armour dragged another prisoner along, where he threw the new prisoner into the prisoner kneeling on the ground.

Branwen’s eyes narrowed into slits. She wanted to be able to focus sorely on the new prisoner and his next actions.

From the tower she observed the guard motioning dangerously between the two prisoners. To an innocent eye in the matter, they’d be clueless to the situation at hand. To Branwens eye, she knew exactly what the scuffle is about. After all, it was her idea to challenge the infamous Klaus Bauer and his unnatural ability of cruelty.

The prisoner who kneeled has covered her head with her arms as the guard held Klaus Bauer at swordpoint. Klaus Bauer held the prisoner—who is one of the village whores Branwen had found earlier that morning—by her neck.

Do it, Branwen demanded. Llofruddio’r gast.

By this point Branwen’s forehead pressed up against the glass, eagerly awaiting the snap of the whores neck.

She sat there, on the steps to the tower, eagerly awaiting the snap of the whores neck that would never come. Because Klaus Bauer, the most dangerous and horrifyingly cruel criminal threw the whore to the wet grass, turned with his arms up in surrender and looked directly up at the Guards Tower. He looked directly at the stained glass window. He looked directly at Queen Branwen.

Siomedig.” Like the ghost that she so could easily be, Lady Ffion appeared next to her as if out of thin air. “Ti’n dal credu ma’ fe’n—

She was sharply cut off by the sudden brutal reaction from Klaus Bauer, who somehow snatched the guards sword from his grasp, chucked it out of reached and wound his hands around the guards neck and snapped it. Branwen lurched forward, her palm flat against the cool glass as she and Ffion watched with a sickening delightful surprise as her guards body dropped to the floor like a bag of stones.

A swarm of guards invaded the area, tackled Klaus Bauer to deliver him a beating.

The situation did not go according to her initial plan. He knew she was watching and that’s probably why he murdered one of her guards.

Uffern gwaedlyd!” Ffion cursed, also moving closer to the window.

Despite the death of one of her guards, Branwen was rather pleased with herself and more thrilled at the thought of her plan getting closer and closer to be set into motion.

Closer and closer to getting that crown, she mused silently.

Ie Ffion,” Branwen dragged out both syllables of her name in a long breath. Her head peered up to the ghastly pale girl, whose bones stuck out visibly beneath her thin skin. “Rwyf yn credu mae Klaus Bauer yn barod.”

Another flash of lightning erupted in the darkness of the stairwell, brightening up Ffions face, which only made her look more like a phantom than ever. The Lady in waiting smiled unkindly. “Good. I shall prepare his release immediately.”

Branwen shook her head. Glancing back down to the grass, she watched her guards carry the prisoner by his arms and legs back into the castle. They rendered him unconscious. “Not yet. One more test.”

“But why, Fy Mrenhines?”

As much as Branwen values Lady Ffion for her cunningness and ability to scheme, that does not stop her from getting irritated by her lack of forethought.

“Klaus Bauer is playing with me. On the first test he had to kill a blind man; he turned the sword to himself,” Branwen explained to her Lady with closed eyes as she recalled each given test. “The second test he should’ve killed a mother in front of her children; he surrendered to a whipping. And now, Lady Ffion? He mocks me still. Instead of killing a whore, he breaks my guards neck. To be my champion he must learn to kill the vulnerable. The kindhearted. He must kill without a conscious. The only thing that Klaus Bauer has proven to me, is that he can kill a man.”

Lady Ffion stood silently. Both listening to the harsh thunder that seemed to match Branwen’s aesthetic perfectly. Three rounds of thunder clapped again before Ffion braved the silence. “You need Klaus Bauer to kill a woman.” The Queen of Brân nodded. “Then leave it with me. I will test him once more tomorrow and he will pass.”

The sudden thought of Lady Ffion offering herself as the woman to be killed crossed her mind for a brief moment. But she let it pass, unwanting to reveal her emotions. Even to the person closest to her.

“You will be rewarded grandly, Ffion.” Branwen lifted her hand to tuck a piece of Ffion’s straw red hair behind her ear. A worried smile spread across her face, Branwen’s movements faulted. “Be’ matar te?”

Ffion ducked her head as if wincing. “I have horrible news, Branwen. It is the reason why I climbed these stairs. Forgive me, Fy Mrenhines, but I feared what your reaction might be.”

Of course Branwen should’ve known better than to believe her advisors wouldn’t find another way to get their political messages to Branwen whilst she enjoyed the solitude. It irked her that Ffion hadn’t said anything until now.

Wel? Spit it out, Ffion.”

Inhaling deeply, Ffion pressed down the ruffles of her peach coloured dress, averting her gaze to her Queens as she straightened her spine. “Earlier this afternoon I received a message from Cuan. Informing me that Queen Briella announced her engagement to the scoundrel Finian Murtagh three days ago.” As Lady Ffion predicted, Branwen’s reaction was one to be feared.

A cloak of shadows swallowed up the stairwell, blocking out the murderous lightning to make their surroundings entirely pitch black. Amidst the storm Branwen heard Ffion heavily sigh. “I knew you would react like this.” Clenching her fists even more, the shadows swirled around them, she heard Ffion gasp with fright as Branwen made her electrifyingly blue eyes visible.

It was like the pair were standing in an abyss with no clue which way was up or which ways down. The stained glass window had vanished from sight and all that was visible to an outsider, like Ffion, was Branwen’s eyes. Branwen herself could see Lady Ffion and everything else as if the sun shone directly on them.

Branwen flicked her wrist and watched as the swirls of darkness reduced to the corners, where light from the lightning strikes once again filled their sights.

Ffion gave her Queen a pointed look as if to say, see? Told you so.

In a state of anger Branwen hissed, “if Klaus Bauer fails your test tomorrow, I’ll have to murder them myself.”

“You didn’t let me finish, Branwen.”

Still tensed, she forced her arms to relax and her mind let go of the shadows. Her shoulders were still rigid though, just in case she decided to go all crazy again.

“Queen Briella and her fiancé Finian Murtagh arrive at the castle tomorrow morning. If everything goes according to plan, Queen Briella won’t live long enough to see the next sunrise.”

The shadows disappeared completely, along with the tension in her shoulders and Branwen smirked wickedly back at Ffion. For so long Branwen’s dreamt of this moment. Already one step closer to being Queen of the Fourlands, she couldn’t help but herself on the throne in Fourland Ruin with her sister, Taryn, by her side.

Because once Branwen becomes Queen of the Fourlands, she’ll then be able to begin her hunt for her long lost sister, who was stolen from her nearly five years ago.

The King of Brân and his princess daughter went missing on the same day. For the last few years she has believed that their father stole Taryn away for protection. From her. It hurts Branwen to even think that. But it’s true. Before Llŷr ap Llewelyn disappeared, he’d look at Branwen with such regret and despair in his eyes that it sickened her. It’s burned inside her brain for the rest of eternity.

Taryn, her little sister, was always protected from Branwen’s powers because Branwen would never ever put her sister into any kind of danger. She loved Taryn. More than herself. Their father had been wrong. The only person Branwen would ever think of hurting, would be Llŷr ap Llywelyn.

Watching Lady Ffion descend the steps, Branwen could feel something similar to nausea bubble in the pits of her stomach at the thought of Briella being dead within the next twenty-four hours.

She looked back at the stained glass window. The storm lit up her face every few seconds, revealing for a rare moment the cunning smile that’s resting pleasantly on her lips. “You’re nearly home, Taryn.” She whispered to no one but the winds and the trees. “You’re nearly home.”
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