The Brass Queen


Here is the penultimate chapter at 790 words:

* * *

Ceridwen’s spontaneous laughter broke Snow from her memory trip.

“See, you won over me many times, Snow. You destroyed my pride, my power. I hid because I couldn’t stand seeing you still so beautiful and myself so ugly. Then Jarvis found me again and offered me one last chance to kill you. What I didn’t know was that it would cost me my body and replace it with this one. It is repulsive but unstoppable.”

Ceridwen leaned forward in a puff of steam her hands ready to grab.

“We shall see about that,” Snow said and swung her sword.

The tip of the sword scraped Ceridwen’s chest, but her hand gave Snow a powerful push, and she fell against the wall, dropping the sword. Dizzy, she reached for her weapon, but Ceridwen had grabbed her ankles and dragged her across the room.

Snow jumped to her feet sprightly and lurched at Ceridwen with a battle cry. The Automaton Queen swung her fists at Snow’s face, but she dodged them and swiftly grabbed the raised hand plucking out pipes which released clouds of steam, and the hand dropped detached, swinging without purpose.

Ceridwen cried out and clawed at Snow’s face with her only hand, but the White Queen was fast. Seizing the moment Snow grabbed the other hand and did the same to it, leaving it to loll beside the Automaton’s body.

She pushed past the Brass Woman, sliding towards her sword. Once in her hand, Snow turned back to the advancing monster.

“Jarvis, do something!” Ceridwen screamed, and the cowering warlock was hiding behind his throne and observing the battle. He stood tall, pointing his staff towards Snow. He cast spells, murmuring incoherent words through clasped lips. The staff belched fireballs which Snow escaped narrowly. Spotting the glass fragments which Jarvis held in his other hand, Snow devised an immediate plan. Ceridwen was slowed, and she fought the steam clouds still streaming from her limp limbs.

Snow turned her attention towards Jarvis. Her eyes, aflame with anger and pain frightened him; she was determined to end them both. As he prepared another chant, Snow stepped quickly as her huntsman husband had taught her and sliced the staff in its midst. An ordinary piece of wood remained in Jarvis’s hand.

“Your days of dominance are over traitor.”

Her sword pierced his chest. Thrusting the body forward, Snow drove him into the portal, unsheathing her sword from the body as it dropped freely. The Mirror’s shards fell from his flying hands and floated in the in-between space. Attracted by the forces of Time, the weak Magick drove itself into the body of the warlock who had created it, sucking into his remaining power. Jarvis gasped one last time as the sharp shards pierced his body and his face.

Snow watched them shatter as the body did the same, dispersing into Time to never exist again. The portal collapsed on itself, time looping around, till the gateway was closed. Snow stared at the rubble, her only escape.

“You bitch! You trapped us both here!” Ceridwen screamed.

Snow turned around to face her.

“Then none of us would leave and the land will finally find peace.”

Ceridwen charged at Snow, jumping high, propelled by her brass legs.

Snow readied her sword, awaiting the drop.

The Brass Queen landed mere inches from Snow, the impact taking her off balance off. A brass leg shot through the raised dust and kicked Snow in the stomach. She bent in two and Ceridwen caught her in the chin with her knee. Stumbling backward, Snow missed seeing the dislocated hands swing at her with their loose force. The impact threw her head back, and she spat blood as it did.  Ceridwen repeated the swing and stuck Snow in the face again.

“You are not the fairest of them all. I am! I am! I AM!”

Raising her body to smash against Snow, Ceridwen laughed, a choking cry of metal. Snow blinked through the running blood from her forehead and saw enough chance to swing with full force.

The blade caught with Ceridwen’s neck and continued to slice carried by the motion. Ceridwen’s yellow eyes shot wide open as she stared at Snow’s face. The sword made a clean cut removing the Queen’s head from her body which slumped down in an eruption of steam.

The brass head rolled on the floor salvaging Ceridwen’s final expression of disbelief.

Snow remained with a raised sword above the beheaded Automaton. It was just a soulless skeleton of brass now, unable to hurt anyone anymore.

Whether the corrupted Magick had been destroyed throughout Time, Snow didn’t know. She limped towards the heavy door and urged it open with the help of her sword.

Next: Conclusion

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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