Throne of Ice

 

In the realm of Eliedda lies the peaceful Kingdom of Turia, home to Queen Eleanor and her husband King Eldwin. Before the birth of their first child, Princess Khione, a cruel twist of fate and a demon’s intervention destroys their lives forever. Khione craves for the love, her vain and heartless mother cannot give her. When her beloved father dies, she despairs at ever finding love and happiness again. The only comfort she finds is in her nursemaid Agnes and her friendship with her daughter Gerda. Years later, events orchestrated by her jealous mother, take away Khione’s freedom and almost her life. She is forced to flee into the Forbidden Forest, the home of the Fae. What she finds there is like nothing she could ever have imagined.

~*~

Banished from Turia, Agnes and Gerda try to start a new life in the nearby Kingdom of Agraunia They share a small garret room with Agnes’s widowed mother Matilda. There Gerda befriends her neighbour’s son Kai, an apprentice Blacksmith. Their close friendship eventually blossoms into love. Their happiness is short-lived, Kai suddenly becomes cold and distant. When Kai disappears after being seen with a strange woman in white, rumors persist that he is forever gone; dead. Only Gerda knows he is still alive. The place he touched deep in her heart reassures, but instinct tells her he is in danger. With no one willing to help her, Gerda sets out alone to rescue him, blissfully unaware of the danger before her.

The Gothic Faerie Tale Series, a fusion of faerie tales, folklore, myths & legends with action/adventure and a magical touch of romance.

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Chapter One

It was mid winter in Turia. Large flakes of snow had fallen on the ground, covering the earth with a glistening blanket of white. Queen Eleanor sat looking out from her window. The book in her hand had remained on the same page for the last half hour. A roaring fire crackled in the fireplace. The room felt too hot and she wished for a walk outside to take in some fresh air. Eleanor rose from her seat and requested her lady in waiting bring her cloak.
“Your Majesty, it is freezing outside, would it not be better to sit on the far side of the room away from the fire?” she suggested.
Eleanor did not agree. “The cool air will revive me, and the nausea has now passed.”
 The Queen had a kind and compassionate nature. She treated her servants with respect and they loved and respected her in return. With her husband King Eldwin, she ruled the kingdom of Turia with wisdom and justice.
Her lady in waiting returned with the cloak and both made their way to the garden. Ruhan Castle had beautiful gardens, Eleanor spent many hours there. After instructing her lady in waiting to leave her until she called, she headed towards her beloved rose garden. A hardy bush of red roses still bloomed. She brushed the sprinkling of snow from the petals and inhaled the heady fragrance of the largest of the blooms. In doing so, she pricked her finger on a rose thorn. Three drops of ruby red blood fell from her finger onto the snow below. She gazed at the drops and ran her hands along her swollen stomach. I wish to have a daughter whose skin will be as fair as snow, lips as red as blood and raven black hair like mine, she thought.
This child had been long coming. Eleanors pregnancy had not been an easy one. The King worried about her health and surrounded her with physicians and servants. She loved her husband but felt overwhelmed by so much fuss and attention. She often took refuge in her garden.
Suddenly a gust of wind blew across the rose garden. Eleanor felt a sharp pain in her chest. Fragments of the hobgoblin’s looking glass pierced her heart. From the moment the splinters of glass entered her body she became cold and unfeeling, her heart turned to ice. She tore the rose blooms from the bush and crushed them in her hands. The petals crumbled. To her the roses looked ugly and imperfect. She cast the remains onto the ground. A very different Queen Eleanor returned to the castle that day.
~*~
King Eldwin did not notice the change in his wife until they sat down to dinner. “How are you my dear, did you have a pleasant day?” he asked.
“No, I did not,” she snapped. “You were out hunting all day. I endured an insufferable day of boredom within these castle walls.”
“Are you unwell?”
“As fine as one can be, carrying your child,” she replied.
Eldwin looked at his wife’s face. He saw a hardness in her features he had never encountered before. When the servants brought their dinner, Eleanor criticised all the food placed in front of her. She found the soup too hot, the chicken too cold and greasy. Nothing was to her satisfaction. She eventually excused herself with complaints of a headache. Eldwin went to Eleanor’s bedchamber later in the evening. Although they had separate rooms, they always slept together in the same bed. They had married out of love, not convenience. Theirs was an equal marriage Eleanor had granted Eldwin the Crown Matrimonial, enabling them to co-reign.
Eleanor’s maid prepared her mistress for bed. Asking the maid to leave, Eldwin entered the room. He took his wife in his arms and embraced her; she did not return his embrace. When he tried to kiss her, she turned her head away. He grew angry. “Eleanor, what the blazes is the matter with you?”
“Nothing,” she replied. After clearing her throat she said, “From this night on I want to sleep alone.”
Flabbergasted he grasped her arms. “We have never passed a night apart since we married.”
She glared at him. “Release me, you are hurting me.”
He released his grip and looked into wife’s eyes. “I will not beg, Eleanor. There is a great change in you today. I know not what has happened, but I intend to seek an answer.” He kissed her cheek then slammed the door as he exited the room.
Word spread throughout the castle; the Queen had been enchanted or cursed. Eldwin barely recognised the woman he had married. Many thought she was possessed, they feared her. She now screamed orders to her servants, severely punishing anyone who displeased her. She threatened them with floggings and ordered many thrown into the dungeons on a whim. The King however refused to allow his wife to carry out her threats. Her temper tantrums became so violent he had her imprisoned in her rooms for a month. He sought medical advice from far and wide. Having searched the whole of Eliedda not one person could give the King answers. They thought the pregnancy had some blame and she would return to normal after the birth of the child. Eldwin held onto that hope, but his heart grew weary with worry.
In time, Eleanor gave birth to a healthy baby girl and the kingdom rejoiced. She felt no love for the child, even when holding her in her arms. When she stared into her daughters blue-grey eyes, her heart remained cold and hard. She passed the baby straight away to her maid and ordered a wet nurse, Agnes, to attend to the child. It would not be feeding from her breast. The idea repulsed her. This should have been a moment of tenderness and love between a mother and her child. It did not go unnoticed by the King. His wife remained unchanged, his heart saddened and he mourned for the loss of his tender, loving Eleanor.
Three days after the baby princess’s birth her baptism took place. They gave her the name Khione, after the mythological goddess of snow. Eleanor watched from the window as the procession entered the chapel for the christening service. She did not attend the service, feigning a severe headache. She returned to her embroidery work and ordered her maid to come back later in the day, to dress her for the evening’s christening party. Even though Eldwin was not expecting her to attend, Eleanor did not wish to miss this particular opportunity to be the centre of attention.
That evening, guests dressed in all their finery filled the Great Hall. Many dignitaries, kings, and queens from neighbouring kingdoms attended the party. Eldwin entered the hall proudly carrying Khione, his heart full of love for his daughter. For the first time in many months, the King smiled. Eleanor took her place beside her husband. She looked as beautiful as always, her glossy black hair braided and pinned up with golden hair combs. Her skin looked milky white against the crimson red of her gown. She wore a necklace of gold and glittering rubies, given to her as a wedding gift by Eldwin. Her grey eyes glowed with excitement as she saw all the admiring glances from the guests. She received many compliments, this gave her much pleasure. For all the coldness in her heart, she delighted at compliments on her beauty.
The Princess received gifts from many kingdoms. A dark haired man dressed in black robes stood before Queen Eleanor, he bowed and presented her with a gift. “I am Alor, Your Majesty. This gift is not for the Princess, it is for you. Only a woman as beautiful as you deserves such a gift.”
Pleased with the flattery she accepted the gift from the mysterious stranger. “Thank you, the mirror is exquisite.” Eleanor admired the oval shaped mirror surrounded by an ornate gilt frame.
“I think you will find it most useful Ma’am. You must hang it on the wall of your bedchamber, though no one but yourself should gaze into it.” Alor bowed again, then returned to the crowded party. A wide smile spread across his face. As he left the castle, he began to laugh, a crazed demonic laugh.
On her directions, Eleanor’s servants hung the mirror in her bedchamber that evening. In her eagerness to see her reflection in the mirror, she left the christening party early feigning tiredness. She hated to look at herself in the castle mirrors. Her reflection did not look appealing to her. For some strange reason she felt compelled to look at herself in this mirror. Eleanor entered the room and removed the silk scarf covering the mirror. She had given instructions for it to remain covered and no one should look into it but herself, just as instructed. When she saw her beautiful reflection, she was overjoyed. Her eyes sparkled, her face radiant, her lips full and red. No other mirror made her look so handsome. Extreme vanity filled her stony heart.
She spoke aloud to the mirror. “Who is the fairest in the land?”
The mirror began to glow, and she stood back in shock. A green light shone from within and a hooded figure appeared. It spoke with a deep voice. “You, my Queen are the fairest in the land.”
She stared at the mirror in astonishment. “Are you real?”
 “Oh, yes, I am a magic mirror and know everything. I see all and only speak the truth.”
Eleanor marvelled at this wonderful gift. She had no idea who had given it to her, nor did she care. As long as she remained the fairest in the land, she felt contented. She consulted her magic mirror often, needing constant reassurance of her beauty.
Eldwin watched as his wife became more and more detached from himself and their daughter. He became both father and mother to his little girl and he loved her dearly. She returned his love tenfold. Her love was balm for his wounded heart. He found in Khione all the goodness that once belonged to Eleanor; she had a pure heart and extreme kindness. Eleanor felt no jealousy of the close relationship between father and daughter. She encouraged them to spend as much time together as possible. When Khione embraced and kissed her mother, she knew she did not relish it. However, she loved her mother unconditionally, and hoped that one day she would return her embrace.

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