The cloud rumbled under the giant’s bulk. He stumbled along, following the snow trail to the castle of ice. Her castle.
The gates opened up to admit
him and quickly closed behind. A squat
hawk-eyed man declared his coming, “may I present Agorius, Prince of the Giants.”
Agorius boomed, “I must speak
to the Empress.” His frown stretched a
man’s pace across.
A dark-haired man in full
plate walked forward and gave a short bow.
“Her Excellence shall see you in the ballroom on the second floor; may I
“Get on with it,” said
Agorius. He stamped forward looking as
if he were going to crush his guide beneath thick leather boots.
The stairs were of vast,
spiraling marble. Even still, Agorius’
heels didn’t fit on the stairs, forcing a string of grumbles. The second floor landing, adorned with
sparkling frost, opened into a large dancing room. White birch made up the floor, trimmed at the
edges by everlasting snow. A woman
strode in from the far side.
“Prince Agorius,” said the
Empress, dipping her head no more than a hand’s breadth. “I have been awaiting your arrival.” Her dark hair clashed with the white
surroundings, yet complemented her blue tiara of massive snowflakes. Much the same color, her eyes shone despite the
full light of the room’s chandeliers.
“I have a query for you,”
Agorius stated. One fist shook at his side. The undertones of his voice were evident
beneath a deliberate attempt at tact.
The Empress only smiled. “And that is, Prince of Giants?”
Anger found its way to Agorius’
face. He wore a sneer. “What have you done with my fowl?”
“That bird of yours?” the
Empress began. “I know nothing of it
beyond its simplest nature. The gold of
its eggs has filled your coffers as of late.”
“Don’t you lie to me, miss!”
The Empress showed no sign of
stress. “None in my kingdom have entered
yours to do the deed. If they did, it
was not from any decree of mine.”
“Your façade cannot deceive
me, Empress of the Sky. I shall be
back. And with an army.”
The Empress’ smile
broadened. “Lucky me. I’m already here. And I have my own army.”