“Don’t blame the sinner.”
“Don’t fear for him sister, I promise his death will be as swift and painless as possible.”
“It wasn’t his fault, he was being manipulated. Please, hasn’t there been enough killing already?”
“Another of the Black Queen’s pawns, is that it?”
“No, he’s much more than that.”
“Yes he is, a knight disguised as a bishop, very clever. But I saw through your little trick, didn’t I? I’ve always been three moves ahead of you.”
The White Queen and the Black Queen, Luminous and Caliginous, locked in a battle that had been going on for decades. They were the twin daughters of King Stalemateous, who ruled over a vast empire. Upon his death his expansive kingdom was divided in half and split between his two daughters.
Everything to the west of Lake Isongard; the golden fields of Adelphia, the orchards of Kalipula, the rolling plains of Surmanthia where the horse lords bred steeds for the royal patrol, and where seldom a cloud was seen in the sky, along with all the people who lived among those lands, now fell under the rule of Luminous, the White Queen. The lands to the east of Lake Isongard and the few people who still lived there became the kingdom of the Black Queen, Caliginous; these were the lands filled by the nearly impenetrable Dimwood Forrest where nothing was said to live except for the twisted and gnarly trees that were as old as the world itself, the tar pits of Undoora that were told to have swallowed entire regiments of knights, and the rocky peaks of the Heltermonth Mountains which reached up to snow-covered heights.
After their father’s passing Caliginous implored her sister that they should reunite the kingdom, and rule together. Luminous, however, had other plans.
Being born minutes before her sister the White Queen believed herself to be the rightful heir of all that her father had, and she struck out violently in an attempt to rest control away from her younger sibling. The surprise attack was devastating, and sent Caliginous and the few people loyal to her into hiding in the depths of the Dimwood Forest. The family feud raged on for years, the Black Queen and her armies battled back, and at one point seemed poised to win the war as they toppled one of the White Queen’s castles. But then on that same night, as the fires among the remains of the ruined stronghold were still burning, the Black Queen and her followers fled back to the safety of Dimwood Forrest.
Luminous, blinded by her fury, sent wave after wave of her soldiers into those cursed wood, none of them were ever seen again. Unsuccessful at flushing her sister out, the White Queen withdrew and lived secluded from her kingdom until her sister came out of hiding and asked for a meeting to discuss the fate of the knight that had been captured sneaking into the White Queen’s castle.
“Please sister, you don’t know what you’re doing. He was not sent there to kill you, he came with an offering of peace.”
“This war will end when I reunite father’s kingdom, only I am his rightful heir, and after I rid myself of your assassin I will send my armies across the lake to end this once and for all, even if I have to burn that entire cursed forest to the ground to do it. Until then, this is what I think of your peace.” and with a flick of the White Queen’s wrist the young knight was flung over the castle’s wall, his body snapped to a stop as the rope tied around his neck went taut.
“Nooo!” the Black Queen screamed out to late. “What have you done. He was no killer. He was your son, the secret child you hid away in the castle I destroyed all those years ago. I found him among the rubble and took him back to Dimwood Forrest. I taught him of our father, and of our feud, and I sent him to you to beg for peace.”
Luminous turned and looked into the eyes of the now dead man who hung from her castle’s wall, and as the heavy realization of what she had done sunk in she collapsed to her knees.
Caliginous signaled her army to attack by removing the black veil she was wearing, and as she turned her back on her grieving sister she uttered, “Checkmate.”
written for: The Speakeasy #149