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Mirror, Mirror

The Kingdoms of Lux and Aquilus were at war and had been for generations. The people of these kingdoms no longer remembered what the war had been started over and most didn't care. All they knew was that the other kingdom was their hated enemy, and that many a relation or friend had been lost on the battlefield. There were two Valorous warriors who stood out on each side. Their skills were legendary and their very names instilled fear through the opposing army's ranks. But neither of these warriors engaged in the braggadocio and bravado the other nobles of thier lands espoused, strutting around with their chests puffed out, ticking off how many people they had killed, how many scars they bore, or how many times they had escaped death. No, these warriors simply went about their business focused on their tasks. They were both beloved by the people of their kingdoms, and vilified by the other kingdom. They had never met on the field of battle; they were always on different fronts. Currently, the kingdoms had a truce. The last round of battles had been particularly gruesome and devastating, causing great losses on both sides. The people knew the truce would be temporary until each side had once again built up their forces to continue their blood feud once more.

Celeste, the warrior from Lux, sat in the courtyard of the Castle Solas, tracing her fingers through the reflection pond, staring up at the ivory towers of the castle with the standards billowing from tops. She was enjoying the break from the constant warfare.  Secretly, she was tired of it and wished for an end to the ceaseless fighting.

An old woman approached, pushing a small cart.

A vendor from the city, they were all over the courtyard today.  With the recent break in hostilities, traders were doing their best to pry the pay from the soldiery. Grinning sweetly, the peddler approached Celeste, who wondered what song and dance she would be sold.  What frivolous baubles the old woman had to unload.

       “Hello my dear,” the old lady said in sing song voice.

               “Hello.” Celeste replied graciously.

        “Aren't you the Lady Celeste, the fearsome warrior who strikes fear into the vile hearts of Aquilians?”

               “Yes, that is I.”

        “How fortuitous!  I have something for you; something I think you'll appreciate… something that will help you put an end to conflict with Aquilus.”

Celeste sighed.  Here came the pitch, and a good one, too, playing on her secret desires.  She looked over the old crone marking her.   Cautiously, she ventured,

              “Is it some form of weapon?”

        “Not exactly,” came the reply.  “It is more powerful than any weapon. It is information,” the old one’s voice was barely above a whisper.

               “Aaah, I see,” Celeste nodded.  “You’re a spy.  Tell me, then, what information do you have for me?''

        “Not a spy, my dear… a concerned citizen.”

The old lady reached into the cart and brought out an antique wooden box inlaid with precious gems.

        “In this box, lies the key to ending the conflict and gathering all the information you will need to defeat the true enemies of our people.”

She handed the box to Celeste.

               “Is it magical?”

        “Yes, it contains very powerful magic.”

               “How much will this cost me?”

“Why, nothing, my pet!  For you have saved one of my sons in battle and giving you this item is the least I can do to repay you.”

The old woman started pushing her cart away.  Celeste looked over the box and noticed a keyhole.

               “Madame, wait!” she called after the cart.  “You didn’t give me a key for the box!”  Celeste looked to where the woman should have been but she was gone, and on the ground there was a key.  Celeste cautiously picked up the key, and with it and the box, made her way back to her room in the castle.


-------

In Aquilus, Damien walked within the labyrinth that made up the royal garden in the castle of Graumach.  Unlike the white walled castle of Solas, the walls of Graumach Keep were black, and the city of Aquilus which it overlooked was bustling like Lux, but it was not a beautiful city, it was a working city, full of metallurgist and carpentry shops.  One of is streets was lined with smithing shops making armor and weapons.  There were no artisan districts boasting rich tailored garments and fine tapestries like in Lux.  But the labyrinthine gardens of the castle offered one of the few places of beauty in Aquilus, and it was here where Damien trod now, taking in the beauty around him, glad of the reprieve in battling.  The other nobles would not understand this meandering in the gardens.  He made his way to the center of the gardens, where unlike in the rest of Aquilus, there were beautiful shops and stalls, boasting exquisite fineries – only for the nobles of this land, of course – which is why it was hidden in a labyrinth.  At the center of the shopping section was a fountain, and it was here that Damien was headed to look at the fish that cavorted in the pool at its base.  He sat there musing what it would be like to have actual peace instead of a minor truce to rebuild armies.

An old woman approached, pushing a small cart.

        “Hail, noble Lord! Might you be the famed warrior Damien, the bane of Lux?” she asked him.

               “Aye, that I be.  What is it you wish of me, Madame?” Damien never looked up from the pool.

        “It is said that in the last battle before the truce you’d slain a hundred men by yourself.”

               “An exaggeration, I assure.  Not that I keep count, mind.”

        “You do not boast in the halls with the other warriors?”

               “My actions speak for me.”

        “So… you would not be interested in a way of permanently ending this war, then?”

Damien then looked up at the old woman.  She was not much to look at.  She wore rags which might have been fine years ago, but now they were in tatters.  Her face was pretty, once, but spoke of years she had not yet seen.  Her hands, while petite, suggested the burden of labor, though the cart she pushed removed all doubt.  Filled with baubles and trinkets to capture the attention of the common commoner, the real magic was borne in the magic she bore.

               “What is it you wish to sell me, Madam?” Damien gave the woman his full attention.

        “I have nothing to sell you, good sir, only a gift to offer you.  Something to aid you against our enemies and to help bring peace to this land.”

              “A bit of magic then?”

        “Yes, but more than a bit.”

She handed him a bejeweled box fished from amongst her wares.

               “And what shall I find inside?”

        “The key to victory over our enemies.  I give to you for saving one of my sons on the battlefield, and with it, I show my gratitude to you for his safe return to me.”

               “I need no such thanks for keeping our soldiers safe, but I will humbly accept this gift.”

He took the box and looked it over.  The sparkling jewels and fine craftsmanship reminded him of something from Lux.

               “Where did you come by this?” He asked, turning toward her again, but the old lady was already gone, and in her place a key, presumably to the box he now held.  He carefully picked up the key and started making his way back through the labyrinth towards his room in the castle.


-------

In her room at Castle Solas, Celeste looked over the box and the key to it.  Unlike the box itself, the key looked plain and ordinary.  She used it to open the box and inside was crystal ball.  She chuckled to herself. Of course.  A mere bauble.  At least she hadn't paid anything for it.  She picked it up, and upon doing so, a radiant light came from the sphere, and inside the sphere, dark clouds parted, revealing the interior of castle Graumach.  She could not believe her eyes.  Not only was the castle unveiled, but there before her, a handsome dark warrior, the stern and solemn, yet somehow soft countenance upon which she had never seen the like.  Obviously, he was of high rank, given the furnishings of his room.  Suddenly, a voice came to her, seemingly from out of thin air.  Momentarily startled, she quickly realized the voice had originated from within the sphere.

         “Done musing around the gardens for the day Damien?” the gruff male voice spoke.  Damien… the most feared warrior of Aquilus.  Celeste was floored.  The old woman had given her an item to spy on the most dangerous of all Lux enemies!

                 “Leave me Gorlon,” came the dreaded warrior’s response, in a deep, brooding tone.  “I have things to attend to.”

Just then, a knock came at her door and she carefully placed the orb back in the box and closed it.

                “Who is it?” Celeste called, standing between the door and her bed, where the box laid.

         “It's Chloe, Celeste.  Are you alone in there?” came the voice from the other side.

                “I am.”  She opened the door to let Chloe in.  “What is it you want?”



-------

At Graumach Castle, Damien had just rid himself of Gorlon, and had opened the box he was given by the old lady.  In it was a crystal ball.  Damien sighed, grabbing at the crystal ball, happy to have not been relieved of any gold for it.  As soon as he picked it up, though, the orb shone out radiantly and the white clouds within it separated, revealing two beautiful females, and a well adorned room.  Surely he knew he was looking at the interior of Castle Lux, for there no ivory walls in Graumach!  He heard a voice then from the orb.

          “It's Chloe, are you alone in there Celeste?”  Celeste!  Could this be the Queen of Carnage, who’d spread such a plague of doom among the Aquilus troops?  It must be!  The old woman had given him a means to spy on the best warrior the enemy had to offer!  What a gift, indeed!



-------

Celeste could not believe she held the power to watch over Damien, perchance to learn his weaknesses, mayhap to overhear the battle plans of the enemy.  Here then might finally be a way to end these wars and finish Aquilus once and for all.


-------

Over the coming months, both Damien and Celeste spent hours peering into the glowing spheres and listening, though, as it happened, neither were ever tuned into the magic orbs at the same time.


-------

In only a matter of weeks of watching, Damien had become fond of Celeste.  No longer did he scrutinize every action for some exploitable weakness, but instead, studied every detail with an ache to be closer.


-------

Celeste sat in her room, drumming her fingers on the box which contained the crystal.  She longed to gaze into it, wondering what he would be doing today, hoping he would be walking through the labyrinth again, as he so often did.  How could such a gentle soul be such a vicious warrior who dispatched so many with so little regard?  Her adoration for this man that was her enemy grew with every passing moment that she lingered, and soon lingering turned into longing, as she gazed into the crystal ball.


-------

Storm clouds had gathered over both kingdoms, drenching them in torrents of rain.  There would be no traversing outside of either castle’s walls this day.

Celeste sat in her room and picked up the box that contained her secret treasure.  Slowly, lovingly, she opened it, her plans for today involving nothing more than to watch Damien.  It was a perfect day for it.  There would be no battles today.

Damien sat in his room and peered into the crystal, wondering what Celeste would do to entertain herself on such a dreary day.  He drew in his breath with a gasp when he unveiled it, though, for there, from the unclouded mists within, she was staring back at him.  He barely avoided dropping the crystal.

Celeste had to stifle a screech when she peered into her crystal and realized Damien was looking back at her.


                 “How can this be?” they each whispered in unison, each hearing the other echo their own thoughts.

                 “Can you hear me?” they both said at the same time.

                “Hello?” again they spoke in a chorus with one another.

Celeste laughed.  Damien smiled.

          “Celeste, isn't it?”

                           “Yes.  And you’re Damien?”

          “I am.”

There was a moment of silence, in which only their eyes were speaking to one another, but the stillness was broken, as two rival horns blared with a thunderous summons to each of their respective war rooms.  They shot a parting glance at one another through the orbs, their faces twin mirrors of horror and distress, as they realized that once again, their lands would be at war.


LJI WEEK 3:
IN ANOTHER CASTLE

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
sweeny_todd
Apr. 1st, 2014 04:18 am (UTC)
ahhh....

I hope that their love can overcome the war...
mamas_minion
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:23 pm (UTC)
I might come back to this story, to fill in that detail
karmasoup
Apr. 1st, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC)
This wasn't quite the Spy vs. Spy that I was expecting, but I think it came together pretty well. And, who knew, you're actually a closet romantic - Sweet! :-D
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I was going for a romantic twist
tatdatcm
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
Loved this!
mamas_minion
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you
i_will_not_say
Apr. 2nd, 2014 03:01 pm (UTC)
This was surprisingly romantic. I enjoyed your story. :)

Also, this has nothing to do with Idol, but I love your icon!

Edited at 2014-04-02 03:02 pm (UTC)
mamas_minion
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you on both counts!
i_17bingo
Apr. 2nd, 2014 04:09 pm (UTC)
The uncertainty at the end of this is bittersweet. It put a smile on my face.
mamas_minion
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:26 pm (UTC)
I ran out of time, but i may come back to this to finish it., Thank you for reading it.
basric
Apr. 3rd, 2014 12:48 am (UTC)
You definitely need to finish this one.
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:28 pm (UTC)
I will try and finish it hopefully I can do it in anothe topic.
kagomeshuko
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:58 am (UTC)
Ack! Trying to keep up with all of your characters!
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
I was kind of rushed on this one, didn't get a chance to clean up as would have liked to.
eternal_ot
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:29 am (UTC)
Ah! so this too has a crystal ball...loved the story you told..and surely waiting for more!..:)
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I am happy with these character and hope to return to them later.
eternal_ot
Apr. 4th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC)
Cool..:)
mamas_minion
Apr. 4th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
thank you
halfshellvenus
Apr. 3rd, 2014 06:12 am (UTC)
Oh, and here I was hoping that they'd find a way to end the war, now that the old woman's magic had accomplished their love of one another!
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
that could be the direction the story is going!
rayaso
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC)
I was surprised by the romance. I was expecting standard sword & sorcery fare. Nice twist.
mamas_minion
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I do like to spin things a little.
mamas_minion
Apr. 4th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
With any luck their love will overcome it.
jem0000000
Apr. 3rd, 2014 07:22 pm (UTC)
Awww. Hopefully together they can find a way to stop it.
mamas_minion
Apr. 4th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
With any luck their love will overcome it.
locknkey
Apr. 3rd, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this! :)
mamas_minion
Apr. 4th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you
redqueenofevil
Apr. 4th, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
This was a very neat piece. Hopefully, they can stop the war.
mamas_minion
Apr. 4th, 2014 02:05 am (UTC)
It could happen I am planning on coming back to this story.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )