A story about Lamia's past. This explores deeper into how Carnardine was destroyed- by Lamia's own pride. Also, how she squandered away all her magic to become a decrepit crone by the time of 'Stardust'. Please, review! This will be a short series of about five parts.

Chapter One:

Lamia sat upon her throne in Carnardine. Immortal life was good in many ways, but the boredom was too much to bear. Her power was beyond comprehension, and she could do anything she wished with the lazy flick of a finger. She could destroy her entire universe and stitch it together again with her breath, or turn the white moon into cheese.

Then, one day, a stranger arrived at the queen's court. She wore a dark cowl, and equally black robes of raven feathers and the shadows of ginger cats; her face was shrouded beneath a dark cloud, and her skin was as pale as starlight.

"Welcome, sister," said Lamia with little enthusiasm. The little slut probably wanted to learn power, or cantrips from her; they all did. "What can I help you with? Turning lead into gold? Stealing the shadow from a winter flower?"

The dark woman did not look up as she spoke. "No, Lady. I have come to challenge you to a contest."

Lamia's interest was aroused. The wench thought that she could beat her in a game of magic? She would greatly enjoy teaching her a lesson of humility, and perhaps would have some fun in the lesson.

"You challenge me?" she laughed, not unkindly. She would humor the chit, she decided then, and rose from her gilded throne. "And what do they call you?"

"You may call me Khynar," she said quietly. "Do you accept or no?" She said the words like an ultimatum; the hall became oddly still, and the air crackled with the sound of distant autumn leaves. Lamia's subjects all fell silent- no one had ever crossed the queen and lived.

"Of course, sister," replied she, cordially. "What is your game?"

"A test of skill," said the other woman. "I have prepared a set of three puzzles for your Majesty. You only need solve each of them, in turn; then I shall grant you this."

Then she reached into her dark dress, and pulled out a silk pouch. The cloth glowed with liquid moonlight, and around its neck was a string of threaded bone; the witch-woman pointed her finger, and the thread unfurled. The pouch opened gently, and starlight flowed from its mouth.

"The heart of a star," she said simply.

Lamia was in utter shock. Never had a star fallen into her realm, for they were wary of her and her kin. Their golden hearts were proof against all age and time- only one bite would ensure her youth for all the Ages of the world.

She wanted to take it from her, then and there. She would turn her into a goat, and slice her neck with blood running; then spill her guts for shaming her like this. But she could not harm the witch; she had agreed to her terms, and would follow or lose her magic.

"I agree," Lamia spat. "Let it begin!"

Khynar merely nodded, and motioned for Lamia to follow. They left the court – the giant doors swung out by the force of the latter's mind and anger – and entered the glorious, sunlit courtyard. Every flower and herb in the universe grew in the gardens of the Lilim, those queens of paradise; they would use the pretty, delicate things for their ointments and beauties, and the black and venomous for their poisons and venoms.

The dark one pointed her finger at one of the pebbles on the ground. A moment later, a giant boulder stood in the center of the grass, dominating the surroundings with its size. A hole was upon its left side, and another upon its right.

"You must take this thread," said Khynar, holding a long silk in her hands that had not been in existence just a moment before. "And pass it from one side to another. That is all."

Lamia wanted to laugh at her impudence. Such a simple task, for a prize so great. The witch-queen took the silk, and walked towards the stone.

She fed the cloth into the left-hole, already wary for some sting or poisonous bite. But there was no trickery; she lowered the silk into the opening, and carefully pushed in the rest of it. The passage was completely clear; she could even see the garden light through the opposite side.

Satisfied, Lamia stuffed in the remaining silk and moved to the other side.

But the red cloth was completely absent from the stone. It had seemingly evaporated into thin air; Lamia turned angrily to Khynar, who only smiled.

"What trickery is this?" she demanded, voice rising. Fire flickered through the grass like butterflies, personifying her anger with belching smoke and glowing embers.

"Nothing but your own failure and pride," Khynar replied. She reached out into Lamia's hair, where a ribbon of red silk had tied itself into the black.

The witch-queen's face flushed with anger. "Give me that! I shall try it again, and succeed."

Again and again, Lamia tried; and again and again, she failed. The thread would not allow itself to weave the stone; it would dart out of her hands at the last moment, and bind her hands. Once, it slithered up her arms and into her mouth, tying her tongue. When the sun began to sink beneath the ocean, Lamia was utterly exhausted, and still in failure. All the time, Khynar only watched and waited.

Finally, she could take no more. The witch-queen threw the ribbon upon the grass, where it burst into emerald flames and was reduced to cinders. "No more of this!" she declared. "You are a lying and cheating slattern. There is no way through this stone."

Khynar walked forward – another silk had appeared in her palms – and picked up an ant from the grass. She was very gentle, as she tied the ribbon to one of its legs, and whispered quiet encouragement into its tiny ears.

Then she let it into the hole. The ant, a living creature with eyes and ears, could easily avoid the twists and turns in the passage. The ribbon could not move, bound as it was, one end tied firmly onto the creature and the other reeled into the stone by the witch.

Finally, after only a minute, the ant emerged from the other hole. Khynar carefully untied it, whispered her thanks, and let it free into the grass. The creature had masterfully woven the silk through the stone.

"What is the meaning of this?" Lamia asked, more curious than angry now. The woman had a mystifying air about her, that was growing more pronounced as the evening drew on.

"I want you to learn, Lamia," she replied. "About the power of others. That is all.

"We are done here," she said. As the shadow of night wrapped the garden, the stone disappeared, and the silks melted into perfume and air. "I shall see you tomorrow morning."

And then she was gone. The witch-queen stood dazedly in the garden, before finally retreating back into her palace. Khynar intrigued her, and she would allow her game to continue for a time.

For a time. And then she would have her heart, and that of the star.