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Finding Winter

By RachelMG All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue

The air was alight with excitement. The grand ballroom glittered with Summer's gold and Winter's silver as the numerous wings fluttered with iridescent shimmers. The thrill was abundent within every member of the two Courts. Today was finally the day where they achieve peace. No more seasons of Summer extending their prowess into the chill of Fall, or Winter choking budding Spring. No more tense councils or fearing that the fae of the opposite Court would kill them as soon as they turned their backs. A peace that would bring joy for all seasons.

It was the shifting of seasons, settling into Fall from Summer, the beginning reign of Winter. Summer Court was hosting the grand event as they had agreed to Winter's truce, thus the hosting was a symbol of good faith and trust.  A hush settled over the fae, Summer and Winter mixed within the crowd, already beginning to trust each other. The excitement rose another octive as the royalty began to approach the center, where a small circular table resided with four important chalices waited.

From the left were the King and Queen of the Winter Court. Donned in a complimentary set of silvers, whites, and furs, as well as wearing their respecting crowns. King Sebastian was a stern faery with dark auburn hair and hard gold eyes. He was not a faery King to cross. Renown for his iron law and severe punishment coupled with his quietly aggressive demeanor, he was feared and respected. The lady with her arm linked through his as a symbol of unity was Queen Juniper. Her hair was deep black and worn wavy down her back, no extra trinkets woven in her tresses while kind grey eyes surveyed the room. She was the complete opposite of King Sebastian for she was kind and compassionate, displaying for her full interest for the well being of her Court. Trailing behind the pair was a faery with white messy hair and luminous blue eyes, following respectfully with his arms behind his back. Jack Frost himself, herald to Winter and right hand to the Queen.

From the right were the hosts of the monumental event. Their garments of gold, bronze, and emerald glittered in the light. The Summer leaders approached arm in arm as well, although the action appeared a bit frigid. King Midas held his hand up and was waving to his followers in the crowd, golden blonde hair falling into his dark green eyes. Charming and charismatic, Midas was a good, strong King that was well loved by his Court. In fact, he was Summer's EverKing, destined to rule Summer forever. His partner was Queen Fiona who was dressed in yards of the finest material. Freshly bloomed flowers decorated her blonde hair that was twisted into an elaborate style, blue eyes watching the crowd though she did not wave like her King. Flanking the Queen was the Summer's own herald, the infamous Pied Piper, servant to the Queen.

Each group came to a standstill at the center podium. Queen Juniper lifted her chalice first, followed by King Sebastian. With a nod, Midas and Fiona lifted theirs as well.

"For peace between our Courts," decreed Sebastian, low voice traveling without difficulty.

"For peace between our Courts," recited Midas with enthusiasm.

"May it last forevermore," chimed Juniper, smiling.

"May it last...forevermore," echoed Fiona, her pause catching Jack's attention. The Winter bringer bristled at the Queen's hesitation, but did not act. It would be a premature action that could ruin the truce and he could not take that risk.

There was a clink as the goblets met, golden liquid sloshing. Juniper held out her chalice to Midas, glowing with their new truce. Midas grinned as well, giving his drink to Sebastian. Without any outward change in demeanor, Sebastian simply gave his to Fiona and Juniper accepted the Summer Queen's, ending the trade.

"Forever," whispered Fiona. Juniper smiled in return, grey eyes sparkling.

"Forever." With one last clink of the goblets, they began to drink to their newfound peace.

The grand hall was silent as their leaders finished their drinks, setting them down at the same moment. They turned to face their Courts and the cheering broke out again, applause thundering. Finally, after all of the years, after all of the stress and fighting they would have their peace at last. No more blood, no more fighting, no more war.

The beaming smile faded from the Winter Queen's lips as she suddenly staggered, complexion ashy.

"M'lady?" asked Jack quietly, trying not to attract too much attention. "Are you well?" She reached out for him and he was at her side in an instant. Vision fading fast, she could barely whisper his name as she collapsed, suspended by the herald.

"Your majesty!" He gently lowered her to the floor where Sebastian dropped to his knees to tend to his beloved.

"Juniper," he called. "Juniper, answer me!" His hand glowed white with magic but it was to no avail. He was not as talented as the Queen when it came to healing.

"What have you done!" demanded Jack, moving toward the Summer Queen, eyes bright with anger. The Summer guards moved into position, shielding their Queen from the Frost.

"What have you done to her!" he shouted. The other Winter faeries were beginning to rally, distressed by their Queen's sudden swoon. Fiona said nothing but there was the faintest quiver of her lips, the barest hint of a smile. There was a sharp crackle as Jack's ice armor began to appear, jagged dagger materializing in his hand. The Summer guards bristled as well, clay and stone armor forming.

"Stand down!" called Midas, moving between Jack and his Queen. "I said, stand down! This is a celebration of peace! I will not stand for blood shed in my home!"

There was a sudden source of light and everyone's attention became fixated on the fallen Queen once more. King Sebastian was holding her in his arms, her crown clattering onto the ground. Her body was alight, a glow that was coming from within her very core. Next, her entire being shimmered with the light, making her luminous as if she was constructed of diamond dust.

"No..." breathed Midas, just as stunned as the Winter Court. Jack and King Sebastian could only watch in growing horror as their Queen slipped further from their reach.

A flash of light flooded the ballroom, blinding the fey within. When the white managed to subside, the Winter Queen was gone.

"Juniper!" was the cry of anguish of the Winter King as the war between Summer and Winter began once more.

  Fiona simply smiled.


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