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|A Tale of Two Kingdoms (standard:fantasy, 6591 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Oct 10 2007||Views/Reads: 1977/1068||Story 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 subject. 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (657 more lines)
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