I asked a very talented young lady to help get this story finished. I still think there’ll be some plot holes and some unresolved story threads that’ll need to be fixed. We’ll need to do some rewrites so the chapters are a uniform length. I don’t have to worry about this chapter, it’s 1094 words already.

* * *

It was quiet in the brightly lit room so much that one could hear the dust shuffle in the stale air. An interrupting sun glided inside through a narrow row of windows and cascaded down a large, round mirror, which didn’t reflect anything back. In truth, the room gazed into the mirror, but the mirror didn’t gaze back – it was matte, an ashy fog draping over its smooth surface. A blue jay flew past the windows and descended toward one, landing on its stone ledge. It pecked its feathers clean bathing in the weak warmth of the sun and then began a low chirp. A sudden gust of wind overpowered the serenity of the rotund room and a tall construction in the middle of it, huffing and puffing, releasing clouds of vapor began rotating its seven circles, clicking them into a positing secured by brass locks. The wind swept the blue jay from its ledge and into the room. It chirped frantically batting its wings against the ominous current existing solemnly inside the transcendental stone area. A purple glow pierced by blood-red thorns began to swirl in the middle of the Portal as it burst open.

As Jarvis, Ceridwen and the Automaton stumbled through, the brass man falling to the ground in a spillage of blood and banged, old parts, the blue jay was sucked into the carnivorous whirlpool.

Ceridwen pulled herself away from Jarvis and stood above the Automaton. Malformed it was, but yet it was also a mirror image of her current visage – older, but the same heavy, brass vessel which she resided inside. She brought an automated hand to caress an automated face without any love or gentleness.

Jarvis sat upon a brass chair, ornamented as would fit a king. He stroked his white stricken beard, gazing into himself more than into the real world and the room.

“What happened there Jarvis, why did we flee? Snow was in my hands!”

“What happened there indeed, Ceridwen and no that is not a rhetorical question. How did Snow know where to look?”

Ceridwen was lost for words.

“Someone must have told her.”

“Someone?” Jarvis cocked his eyebrow.  “Might it be you my Queen of Evil that did speak of our plans?”

“Why would I?”

“Sky would,” Jarvis hissed at her.

“What would I have to do with a silly little girl?” Ceridwen remembered the face of the young blond, a pretty face, though still pretty common, smeared, with the blood of her Tenyks.

Jarvis stood from his self-made throne and walked in front of the mirror, a second beholding himself before calling upon it.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall show me the Sky before them all.”

Quick to its command the mirror gleamed with the requested image. The girl, Sky was standing above a shattered automaton bearing her face. The King of Dwarves, grasping her desperate for support, mouthed the truth and Ceridwen, close enough to the mirror could read it. “Only the Queen could kill herself.”

“These are lies,” she spoke slowly.

The King’s advisor spun and pointed his thin finger at her.

“This is your past, present and future all coalesced into one. I created you a body fit for war, a body that would carry you everywhere through time and help you fight Snow again and again and again until she is defeated so thoroughly that the mirror cannot see her anymore!”

Ceridwen stood toe to toe with Jarvis, her perfect brass nose nearly pressed against his. She was smaller than the wizard, but her brass suit made her more intimidating.

“You promised me a body of armor to please my advances when in dire need, armor to lead an army with. You are just an old trickster, a fraud Jarvis, and I took your lies like hot bread. You turned me into a monster and gave me weak magick spawning mindless farmers and cattle boys armed against Snow White and her Magick, her Sisters, her dwarven friends. You are not to blame anything on me for your misbehaving’s with Time.”

“I gave you everything you needed to defeat Snow’s pathetic forces. You spent the Magick I gave you on your visage and on that poor huntsman. Your poor choices lead you to a miserable decade in the shadows of a kingdom that didn’t love you. I became Time itself, fitting the needed pieces so you would win, always win and for that, I would pay a dear price.”

Ceridwen nodded against the mirror, her yellow eyes squinting at the image.

“What of this girl then?”

The image of Sky standing above the Automaton sat frozen in a moment showing both their faces.

“You cannot remember all of them, dear Ceridwen. There are so many of you out there, scattered, lost, and forgotten by Time. I had hoped,” Jarvis said waving his hand to brush away the repeating image and cloud the mirror in gray again,” that all of you will bend to the dark will of the Magick, but no. I took a leap of faith in your hatred, and it failed me.”

“It seems we failed each other, Jarvis.”

“No Ceridwen, you do not seem to understand. Once we met you spoke of your revenge so passionately I was sure nothing could stop you from destroying Snow once and for all. That is why I took all the risks. But alas, a part of you grew to love her, admire her. One of you wanted Snow to win and cease the dark magick.”

Ceridwen was taken aback. She walked about the room, brass legs clicking harshly upon the stone floor.

“You chance to compare me once more to a filthy peasant, and I will squish you wizard.”

Jarvis laughed. “Believe me or not, there was a prophecy as there are many, but this one given to the dwarves made news of an Evil Queen and her mirror self, reflected throughout the land using all the mirrors, creating that more identical images. This nearly immortal Queen was set to rule before being murdered by one of her own selves. Prophecies are simply time streams, a future unwritten, simply guessed. I tried to prevent much of it, and you near did succeed in taking out all of Snow’s family. Of course one part of the prophecy couldn’t be erased, and that was the Evil Queen herself. I predicted a lot of happenings but never did the mirror show me when and which reflection of you would kill the Brass Man of the future. In this, I did fail you.”

Next: Fragments

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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