by SJ Longtaile
The war between the witch and the queen is an old one, dredged from the depths of the sea.
Ice cricked and cracked around Titania, threatening to impale her as it had her soldiers and even the Witch Keepers. For the second time in her life, the queen of Brydain experienced true fear of the terrifying and crippling sort, the kind that was crystalline and all too familiar to her. She recognized not the face of the witch standing before her bearing the fangs of a beast, no, she recognized his eyes and the raw power within their hellfire, for she had seen their evil glow once before.
As she stared into those demonic eyes, she was swept back three years in the past, to violent waves and malicious dark skies not unlike the ones that currently hung over her city.
Nordan was a country of ancient and omniscient magics, and it had been a thorn in Brydain’s side for generations. It was one of few that had escaped the clutches of the empire. The people were roguish, seafaring raiders who took immense joy in pillaging the coasts of Brydain. Nord ships were small and faster than any of Titania’s ships, all efforts to thwart the Nordfolk had failed miserably, they were a warrior society who were clever and crafty, easily outwitting her own soldiers. Titania had had enough, she decided to lead a raid of her own. She sailed her prized fleet of warships to Nordan, intent on defeating them at long last. However, Nordan had a secret weapon.
As her fleet came within sight of Nordan’s coastline, they found a small fleet of their ships waiting. Titania hadn’t been concerned, while Nord ships were fast they were not equipped with cannons and their warriors were not armed with high end artillery. She had been even less concerned when the smallest ship of them all broke from the rest and began approaching, in fact, she had believed the Nords had come to their senses and were sending a messenger bearing their surrender. Oh how wrong she had been. Despite its size, that Nord ship had carried Brydain’s greatest defeat and loss of the entire northern region of Euron. That ship had carried a witch, not just any typical Nord witch who’s power was prophetic in nature, no, this was a witch of unsurmountable power capable of commanding the winds and tides themselves.
It had rained that day too, Titania mused as she came to the revelation the witch who had laid effortless waste to her prized fleet of ships was the very same one that now stood before her, threatening her life as he had all those years ago. She was almost lost in the terror those memories conjured, but unlike then, she had a formidable power of her own, evident in the shadows that curled around her, hissing in her ears. What, exactly they said, she didn’t always know, the language of the shadows was one not of this world. Even with the shadows, it seemed she would not be rid of this witch as easily as she would have liked.
They stared each other down, the witch and the queen. The witch’s burning gaze in opposition of the cold power hers possessed.
The shadows caught in the witch’s ice writhed and hissed, calling to their brethren and mistress, their movement drawing the witch’s attention.
For a moment, the fierce snarl of his faltered, replaced by a deep set frown as the witch scrutinized the shadows, before he looked back up to the queen he dared attack, the snarl back in place but accompanied by something even worse. He spoke, voice barely above a whisper in a language she’d never heard before, though his eyes betrayed the meaning of his words; pity.
That look only served to enrage the queen. He would not leave with his wretched life, of that she was certain. She would defeat this witch, this monster, this heathen that dared desecrate her country and make an audacious attempt on her life. She would damn him back to the depths of hell from whence he came.