The Ice Storm
What The Moon Saw
She had shone before all things and would shine until all was ended. Sometimes, the years and centuries of the world below flashed before Her, gone as quickly as shadows fleeing the sunrise. Other times, be they only the span of one mortal life or less, Her long existence slowed enough for Her to taste of reality, to walk the forest pathways barefooted and peer through rippled glass windows.
This was one of those times.
Her silver form rose as it always had, for one cannot stop the passage of the heavens, not even Goddesses. Over the southernmost Kingdom she hung low, the one called the First, where the old Queen lay her head at last upon her pillow for the final time. She had ruled long, and well, this one. The world had changed beyond anything she had ever forseen from her place at the hearth so long ago. All around the royal bed stood Queen Cinderella's family and beloved servants, and amongst them her sisters. On this night, or perhaps the next, they would take her by the hand, to bring together their circle once more and to dance upon the shores of the faraway lake.
She gave the Circle Her blessing and moved north over the land.
Crossing the great river, she shone over the fields and orchards. Peace and prosperity had returned tenfold since the Winter five years ago. Chastened by the cold, people these days walked with appreciation of what the natural world provided, and with awareness of their role in protecting it. The Disenchanted Forest was as dense and unforgiving as it had always been. There were places in that great expanse where Her light had never touched the earth. Dark places that harboured unknown dangers yet to be revealed. Lucine did not trouble Herself with spying them out. With luck, She would never need to.
Further north, past a village where an Idiot waved up at her, the great Castle White was quiet. Ah, of course. The King Wendell, a bonafide Hero and Battle Veteran to his people, would be in his new Castle tonight, a stunningly beautiful palace newly built right on the border between his own Kingdom and that of his Queen's. It had been something of a scandal when it had been suggested. No one had lived in two Kingdoms at once before. Maybe, the other side wasn't so bad after all, they whispered. If a King and Queen could make little of the borders, surely it wouldn't hurt for the common folk to do so?
The roads were definitely busier with folk moving between the Kingdoms than they had ever been before.
Lucine took a moment to gaze into the Red and White Castle. It was full of people from both lands, as well as the usual retinues of visiting royalty from other Kingdoms. It had a wilder, less manicured look to it, this Castle. Forest had been spared rather than leveled in it's construction. Upstairs in the Royal Chambers, Wendell and Scarlett were preparing for sleep, having finally settled their toddler son and infant daughter. They were quite hands-on rulers, these two, very much loved by their people and more so by their children. Their son, Lucian, was a fair haired copy of his father who many were already placing bets upon being the Prince who would finally break the sleeping spell of the Sixth Kingdom by awakening the fair Aurora. Their daughter was named Rose, in memory of Scarlett's lost sister, who had disappeared shortly after the wedding, never to be seen again. Scarlett had grieved her sister as dead, but Lucine knew otherwise.
The Goddess watched as her daughter Scarlett paused at the window for a moment, her eyes brimming and luminous as she gazed out into the night. Wendell wrapped his arms around her from behind, luring her away with kisses and whispers.
Travelling as light as thought, Lucine followed the river westwards for a time, coming finally to the Lake where Her sister Coventina dwelt. But Lucine had not come to speak with the water Goddess, but to gaze with wonder herself at the rocky cliffsides of the Lake, where none but a dragon might find purchase enough to live. And live they did, these two oldest of beings, in a small cave scratched out and lined with debris. The female, Zaphira, wound her long tail protectively around a modest clutch of eggs, her mate Zorn watching protectively. They had yet to make a great impact upon the Kingdoms, these dragons, and in fact many had already forgotten they existed once more. Lucine hoped that their eventual return would be to a far calmer reaction than those evil days of long ago when their blood had flowed over the lands.
Crossing the barrier of mountains as easily as a cub jumping over a buttercup, Lucine moved to the east again. It was here, in this land that most of the changes had occurred. Fields that had once been barren now burst with life and sustenance for the Kingdom. Things that had once been only a scoffed at luxury for 'the southerners' were now commonplace. But they had lost none of their wild edge, these people of Hers. The moon's tides still ruled them. The law of pack still governed them. Those few who had dissented, who had urged once more for war and destruction had gradually been silenced, both by the acceptance of their own people, and the newfound friendship that flowed over the borders from Kingdoms far and wide. The court of the House Of Wolves was a friendly, open place and boasted the most bountiful of dinner tables ever seen in the Nine Kingdoms.
The Eighth Kingdom, however, was unique in one other way. It had no King, nor even a Queen. Rather, they called them the Warden and The Shepardess. Together they had opened up the Kingdom, bringing prosperity and friendship to people who had always known themselves feared and forgotten. Their obvious humility had won the hearts of the people in their own right. That they had brought the moonshadow child into the world seemed only a bonus in many peoples eyes.
Lucine descended to the earth, her bare feet sinking lightly into the cool ground. Standing as still as an oak, she waited by the small pool of water. She did not have to wait long. The child skipped through the trees. At first glance, one might have taken her but for a girl of five years or so, unless of course one paid close attention to the dappled moonlight. Lucine smiled as the girl jumped deftly from shadow to shadow, pausing now and then in the full light of the moon. Then, there was only the wolf. Still a cub, for the wolf must keep pace with the growth of the girl, but a wolf nonetheless. She was silver gray from nose to tail tip, sleek and strong. A hunter already, and a silent prowler in the tangled woods surrounding the Palace where she lived with her family.
The moonshadow child sat easily on the mossy bank of the pool, fingers swirling the dark water. She did not look up at the Goddess, although Lucine knew that She was acknowledged all the same. They had an understanding, She and Her Daughter. Child like, the cub was easily distracted. Swift as a fawn, she disappeared into the undergrowth. Lucine did not follow, but allowed her sight to fall upon another visitor to the clearing. It was as faint as a sketch in the air, but the woman's form was easily discerned. Lucine frowned heavily upon the intruder, even though She knew it to be a sending only. The source of the sending was far away, powerless except for this one thing, this one promise made to her many years ago, by another woman who had never guessed at how it might be fulfilled.
The two stared at each other until the night lengthened and dawn grew in the sky. The Moon was placid in her timeless cycle, but the wraith was all too patient.
And so it would be, if only for that little time known to us all as 'ever after'.
Author's Notes: Firstly, thanks to all who have been following the story over the years. It was not a small undertaking to write these pieces, and after more than 300 000 words, I can honestly say that this IS THE END! And I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but leave just a tiny loose end, lol.
I would like to acknowledge the creative genius of Simon Moore and all associated with The 10th Kingdom. This is but a contribution from a dedicated fan. No infringement or disrespect is intended.
I am not one of those fanfiction writers who begs for reviews. It's never been why I write, but if you enjoyed the journey, feel free to simply say so :)
Kingdom wishes to you all, MoonLover. All Hallows Eve, 2006.