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A Tale of Two Kingdoms (standard:fantasy, 6591 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Oct 10 2007Views/Reads: 2338/1282Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Once upon a time there were two kingdoms, and each had two castles... A long story, but in four easily digestible parts. See if you can guess the twist in the tale.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms 

©2007 Ian Hobson 

Part One - A Question of History 

I was there on the day when this story began, and on the day that it
finished too; that's if a story ever truly finishes.  Though my part in 
the story was only a small one.  I was just a pawn, you see; a nobody, 
subject to the whim of my betters, and of fate.  But anyway, here is 
the story: 


Once upon a time there were two kingdoms, and each had two castles.  And
each pair of castles faced the other across a very long and very wide 
valley, the borders of the kingdoms meeting somewhere in the centre, 
and there was piece and harmony between the two.  At least, that's the 
way it was until the young queen of the White Kingdom began to covet 
the lands of the Black Kingdom. 

Her name was Queen Beatrice, and as she stood beside her husband, King
Ivor the White, on the battlements that joined their two castles, she 
remarked upon the way the shadow of the castles, and the hillside on 
which they stood, stretched far across their lands, while the Black 
Kingdom remained bathed in sunlight. 

'But it is only so in the winter months, my queen,' the king answered. 
'Come spring, the sun will be higher in the sky.' 

'That is so, my king,' the queen responded.  'But to the east the land
is mountainous, and to the west there is the sea, and to both the north 
and the south the lands are barren and unsuitable for the growing of 
crops and the rearing of animals.' 

'Which is why my ancestors built here on the slopes of this beautiful
and bounteous valley,' the king replied.  He placed the queen's hand on 
his and led her down from the battlements.  'Shall we dine in 
Eastcastle or Westcastle this evening?' he asked, trying to change the 

But the queen was persistent.  'But why did your ancestors not build on
the south-facing slopes where the sun would shine on them at any time 
of year, and where crops can be planted earlier in the year, and where 
the fodder for the cattle grows more readily, and where the royal 
gardens would benefit from much more sunshine?' 

'I really can't say for sure,' said the king, beginning to get a little
irritated.  'Though I believe in the early days of our kingdom - many 
centuries past - there was a war or a battle of some kind and, to save 
further bloodshed, the two sides agreed to share the valley and each 
build their castles on opposite slopes.' 

'Well if that is the case,' said the queen as they reached the
courtyard, 'then I think the White Kingdom got the worst of the 
transaction, and by now it is surely our turn to live across the other 
side of the valley.' 

The king was a little taken aback by this last remark; he was older and
wiser than his beautiful young queen, and though he loved her dearly, 
he thought her just a little headstrong and foolish at times.  But, 
deciding to humour her, he raised a hand and beckoned the nearest 
servant, saying, 'Run and fetch Bishop Whiteleaf from his chapel in 
Eastcastle.' (That servant was me, by the way.  I was just fourteen, 
and as I said: just a pawn in this tale of woe.) 

'Is there something amiss, your highness?'  Bishop Whiteleaf asked, as
he hurried diagonally across the courtyard. 

'No, no,' the king replied, 'just a question of history.' 

'History!' exclaimed Bishop Whiteleaf with great enthusiasm.  He was
well versed in the history of the White Kingdom, and knew well the 
story of King Paleforth II who quarrelled with his queen so often that 
he ordered the building of a second castle  a mirror image of his own 

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