A short King’s Quest Fan Fiction by Akril
Edward was sitting quietly, thinking loudly. Many things were on his mind, nibbling at it like mice on a grain sack. He could feel his hand resting on his thigh, and the slight puff of air that blew his hair against his face. He breathed slowly, sometimes taking a respite from even that primitive routine for several seconds at a time. He was aware of all of these things, but the one thing that stood out was that it had been nearly two decades since he died.
He was no longer King Edward of Daventry, and never would be again. He had slipped from his home world peacefully, and now lived in that same manner. But it was as if life and death’s characteristics had exchanged places. His life had been inactive and uneventful. He was the one who watched the birds take flight, never wondering what it would be like to be one of them, beating his wings and dodging the wild beasts to survive. He had done little to affect the lives of others, and no one had told him that he would be happier if he did.
Now Edward didn’t want a peaceful rest. His stay on Earth, now so fleeting, he realized, had been free enough of eddies and rapids. True, he wasn’t an adventurer, someone who plunged into peril without a long period of thought beforehand, but he no longer wished to be the Observer. He wanted to be the true Intervener that a king never could be. Not a God, of course. A mortal could never become truly equal with his creator; he could only reach a status he deemed equal. And Edward wanted to help the people he had left.
And not just any people. The man that he had entrusted his throne to, Sir, now King Graham. The man had proven himself worthy, and Edward had not stayed alive long enough to give him all the thanks he deserved. But now, Edward had discovered, there were ways of doing this, even if he could only speak to Graham in times when the king was in dire need of advice.
These times were extremely rare, and Edward felt that a potential moment would be coming soon in his time and Graham’s time. So now he was seated silently in a dark void, facing three women (also seated) that were not facing him, but casting him an occasional glance. One was drawing fine wisps from out of the thick waters of the blackness and spinning them into thread. The woman beside her was examining the ethereal threads by holding them between her sinewy hands and diagnosing their makeup from different angles. The third was holding a pair of shears, with which she delicately cut the threads that the first and second old crones delivered to her. Between the three pulsed an orb of light, bound by an elaborate geometric object, an ordered tangle of triangles and cubes, caging the light yet letting it through.
Edward watched them for a time that didn’t matter to him, for the region of space he was in was devoid of time. The three women, Clotho, Lachetis and Atropos, could see all of time, eternity in an instant. It was laid out before them as finitely as a quilt, and to speak of time in their presence was to speak of dryness at the bottom of the sea. There were few places in any world that were like this. The only other that Edward could recall was the fabled Edge of the World: a dark, bleak plain, that once entered, can never be walked out of, since one cannot step out of a place without time. So whoever is unfortunate to wander there, if indeed that is possible, is doomed to spend eternity in that bleakness, surely a fate worse than death (or, at least death as so many people perceive it).
But Edward was dead, and he felt happier than he ever had before. He had the power of manifestation and instantaneous gratification; two desires that humanity has always been deprived of in the flesh. Edward was able to choose whatever form he wished to take, whether it was to remain a casual gust of wind, or the shade of an actual creature. But even though he was rarely permitted to visit the world he was born into, he was always able to observe it, if only from a distance.
The form he had chosen to visit the three Fates in was one he felt he had spent his best years in. It was his body as it had been when he was a young man, a prince of twenty years. His fine, dark hair was cropped close to his head, decades before it began to gray and thin out, and his pale blue eyes still bore the veil of innocence that had not yet been stripped away by hard times. He would have chosen a more regal outfit, but he felt he would be making a fool of himself to visit the three spinners of destiny in such attire, so he wore a simple green tunic and dark brown trousers, with soft leather boots on his feet.
He was not alone in his visit. The first, most beautiful realization of his entry into the Realm of the Dead was that he would finally get to be with his beloved wife again. Maia had died of the Plague years before Edward’s life ended, and when his soul finally left his body, his happiness upon meeting his wife again was impossible for a mortal to describe. Since then, they had always been together, their two spirits radiating a light that the ones around them felt and were warmed by.
And with the coming of the next turning point in Graham’s life, Edward had asked Maia to speak to the Fates with him, and she naturally consented. It was no great feat to reach the three for one who dwelled in the world of the spirits. Edward and his soul mate only needed to envision themselves beside the great women, and they were there in an instant.
Maia had also taken on the guise that she had worn as a young maiden, with a simple white gown that hovered like a flower on a lake in the dark nothingness. Her long, brown hair was tied in a braid that fell almost to her hips. Her eyes were deep green, the color of the fields of Daventry, the one thing that didn’t change as she grew older with her husband.
The one flaw in Maia that Edward had noticed while she was alive was that she bore him no children. She was as infertile as an unplowed field, and despite all the castle’s physicians’ advice and efforts, she remained that way until the day she died. Her barrenness nearly led to the collapse of the kingdom’s monarchy, but Edward was lucky to find a new ruler before it was too late. As it was with many spirits, Maia’s infertility stayed with her in death, and Edward knew it all too well. If they had wanted a child to call their own, they could have wished for it long ago, but both were firmly opposed, especially Edward. His wife’s incapability to bear young was something that he had come to accept, even though his kingdom’s very stability was at stake. She had always been this way, and Edward did not want her to change, even if she could bear children in this strange world.
Edward and Maia were kneeling before the Fates, kneeling on nothing that could be seen, since they were simply sitting in the air, if there was any air to sit in. Edward cleared his throat and addressed Clotho, the woman sitting closest to him.
“My Lady. It is I, Edward. I wished to speak with the three of you.”
Clotho turned her head and looked at him with small, insect-like eyes that belied the fact that she and her two sisters could see everything happening in the world, as well as the past and the future. She regarded him out of her wrinkled, yet somewhat youthful face and nodded, then returned to her menial task, spinning the threads of life.
“It concerns the King of Daventry. King Graham.”
“You will have to tell us what has happened from your perspective, young seedling,” said Lachetis, the second of the Fates, in a sharp, piercing voice. “So that we can advise you more fully.”
Edward shrugged and glanced at Maia, who gave him a reassuring nod. Edward turned back to the three women.
“King Graham has been married to Valanice for almost eighteen years. They have borne two children, a boy and a girl.”
“You figure something is about to happen, yes?” said Lachetis in an irritated tone, as if she had been visited by Edward dozens of times before.
“Yes,” said Edward.
“And you wish to ‘intervene’ in some way,” asked Lachetis, holding a thread up to the glowing light that floated before her. “Like last time?”
Edward grew ponderous for a moment. Seventeen years previous, he had advised Graham to seek the maiden Valanice in the realm of Kolyma, speaking to him through the mirror in the king’s possession that foretold the future. This was Edward’s choice chiefly, not something that Destiny required, but Edward still had strong emotional attachments to his homeland, and consequently, to its new ruler. He did not want the king to repeat his own error, and be left without a queen in his old age, without a child to inherit the throne. He also wished that Graham should have a soul mate as he had possessed but for a short while. Indeed, Valanice reminded Edward of Maia in many ways, not only in appearance, but also in intelligence and her fleetness of mind.
Graham had succeeded in his quest, and his wife had become a mother within only a few years of their marriage. But many tragedies had befallen the monarch’s new family in that same time.
Edward was still thinking over these facts when Maia, sensing the opportunity, spoke up in her light yet mature voice.
“Great Weavers, we know that shortly after Princess Rosella and her twin brother, Alexander, were born, he was stolen by a dark wizard and put to work as a slave in a land across the sea.”
“A typical event in many families of this time,” said the Severer, Atropos. “I suppose it is quite traumatic among those to which it happens.”
“Yes, it is,” said Edward, torn between tolerating the woman’s loftiness in relation to humanity and his own attachments to his people, “And for us, the boy is nearly eighteen, and he has not only broken free from his captor’s bonds, but he has transformed him into…”
Before Edward could complete his sentence, Clotho playfully jerked a wisp out of the air and formed it into the undeniable shape of a cat’s head, complete with eyes, nose and whiskers. The image hovered for a moment before fading away like something made of smoke. Clotho then resumed her work as if nothing had happened.
“Into a cat, yes, we know, Edward,” she said calmly, much less tartly than her sisters. “And he returned to his homeland of Daventry, just in time to rescue his sister from certain death. Quite an accomplishment for one of his rank.”
“And they are now approaching the castle to meet their father,” said Edward, “Rosella, from out of the jaws of death, Alexander, from a life of slavery. I know Graham. When something like this happens, I know that he will do far more than celebrate. He will make some major decision that will either change everyone around him or himself. Do you know what he will do? I must know, Great Ones.”
Lachetis put down the thread she was working on. “The King will pass on his Adventurer’s Cap to one of his children. Only one will inherit it, and once that happens, Graham will no longer leave his castle in pursuit of adventure. He will become like you were in your life: inactive, firmly-rooted and all-seeing but not-doing…or we might decide something different for his future.”
Maia suddenly straightened up and slammed her hands down on what she wished was a solid surface.
“No! I watched my love instruct Sir Graham on his quest to recover the three lost treasures for which I was mostly responsible for the loss of. Yes, I, Maia the childless, without whom the kingdom might have been spared so much pain.”
Edward ran his work-roughened hand partway down Maia’s back in sympathy. Her straightforwardness and her lack of denial had always amazed him. She was always exposing terrible truths about her yet never did the same to others. For example, Edward had remarried shortly after Maia’s death to a princess named Dahlia. He found out too late that she was a witch in disguise. She made off with the last of the three treasures and left Edward in even more sorrow than before.
Even though Maia was indirectly responsible for Edward’s folly, she refused to bring up anything that would give her loved one a bad name in society, regardless of whether it was a society among the living or the dead. Maia continued her speech:
“I also watched that knight as he conquered the treasure’s guardians and successfully regained them. Ladies, Graham is an adventurer. He was born one and he will die one. He can’t give up the essence of his life now, not when he is still so…new!”
“I’m afraid that’s what he is going to do, child,” said Lachetis.
“And that is a dreadful pity,” added Clotho.
“Why?” snapped Edward, “What is to dreadful?”
“The wizard transformed into a cat by Alexander,” said Clotho. “He has a brother.”
Edward blinked and Maia shuddered, sucking the corner of her lip with anxiety.
“He will be seeking revenge on the family in the near future,” continued Clotho. “The mother and the children will be taken away. There will be no adventurer there to rescue them.”
“Also,” added Lachetis, always the one with the most words, “There is a young girl…fair with dark hair…who will be imprisoned by the same mage. She is the only daughter of a far-off land’s ruling couple. One who makes his way to the wizard’s fortress would probably be able to free her…if such a person existed, that is. Without her to carry on her parents’ legacy, corruption is inevitable.”
“Though that is not nearly as terrible as the fate of that land of Etheria,” piped Atropos, not noticing the looks of consternation on the faces of the two people listening to her. “The sister of the Queen of the Fairies is planning a rebellion against the Throne. Her own nephew is the connection, and he alone can stop her, though not directly. The trouble is, her nephew is presently in a different body being held by an evil ruler in a land his parents have never seen. If only there were someone to free him…”
“…And then move on to helping him save Etheria,” said Lachetis.
Edward’s voice had grown slightly high-pitched with the unrest and panic that the Fates’ words were driving him into.
“And all this because Graham isn’t going to be an adventurer anymore?” he cried. “This is the straw that breaks the horse’s back! I must somehow convince Graham not to pass on that cap of his!”
“Why don’t you speak to him through the Magic Mirror?” suggested Maia. “You did that to advise him to find a wife, didn’t you?”
“A fine idea,” said Lachetis, “But you forget: the Mirror is clouded over, as it has been for the past seventeen years, ever since that child was stolen.”
“Oh…by the stars, I forgot!” groaned Edward. “Whispering in his ear probably won’t do good either. He will be far too excited to hear me, even if I do talk loudly…”
Suddenly, the glowing, caged ball floating between the Fates ignited, and Edward and Maia could clearly see the throne room of Castle Daventry, the throne room that had once been their own. Tall, stone columns lined the walls, and a long, red carpet led to the twin thrones. Graham was standing in front of the left throne, wearing a red tunic, blue pants, black boots and a golden crown atop his head, the hair of which was just starting to gray. His wife, Queen Valanice, stood beside him, clad in a long, purple dress, her auburn hair curled into buns on the sides of her head. She wore a crown similar to Graham’s, and both wore identical looks of pure happiness, for coming down the hall, towards them, was a somewhat flustered, golden-haired girl – their daughter – and a dirty, bewildered, dark-haired boy – their son.
“You have about thirty seconds,” remarked Lachetis indifferently.
“What? I can’t think of what to do in that amount of time!” Edward yelped. “How can I…”
“All right, I’ll increase the ratio,” grumbled Lachetis, casting a hand towards the image. Alexander and Rosella were walking at a fairly quick gait a moment ago, but now they had slowed so that they covered a pace’s length every five seconds. What Lachetis did was something that the Fates and other minor gods were able to do: increasing the speed of movement in one area only, giving the impression that the rest of the world was moving much more slowly. At this rate, the two siblings would reach their parents within five minutes, which suddenly seemed like plenty of time to Edward and his wife.
“It has to be something convincing,” said Maia, after watching Rosella and Alexander in silence for a moment. “Something that doesn’t tell him more than he wants to know. We can’t tell him what impact his decision will have on those kingdoms.”
“Oh no,” said Atropos, almost sarcastically, “Can’t tell the mortals how their life is going to go. What a disaster that would be…or will be…or would have been.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t say anything to him directly,” said Edward. “Maybe we should say something to someone else…his wife, or his children…”
“It would probably be simpler if you were one of those primal spirits capable of possessing bodies,” suggested Lachetis, acting as if joking about the fates of humans was something everyone did. “You would be able to say it right to his face then.”
“I would never do such a thing!” said Edward, repulsed at the notion. “There has to be a right way to do this…if only I had been born an adventurer, then I wouldn’t have so much trouble with things like this!”
He buried his head in his hands. Maia placed her hand on his shoulders.
“Don’t worry, Edward. We can stop Graham from turning away from his destiny. It can be done. Anything is possible in this realm.”
She looked up at the image of the throne room. Alexander was now hugging his mother, and the golden-haired girl was laying her head on the shoulder of her father. Even from where she sat, Maia could see the tears slowly traversing down the girl’s face.
“That girl…Princess Rosella…Tell me, Fates, what do you have planned for her?”
“A fairly boring life as a simple princess, from the way we see it,” said Clotho. “Of course, that is only the main branch of her destiny.”
“She has her father’s eyes,” remarked Maia. “If I had a daughter, she would have your eyes, Edward.”
Edward looked up at Rosella’s image. He observed the strength with which she held her father’s hands, and the firm set of her delicate jaw as she faced him with a smile not only of happiness, but also of the ecstasy of a great accomplishment.
“I think she has more than just his eyes,” he said. “Look at the way she stands. I think she is an adventurer as well.”
“You wouldn’t think it if you saw her history,” muttered Atropos. “Comparing her ‘adventures’ to her father’s would be like comparing us to the Creators.”
“She hasn’t been on her first great adventure yet,” said Lachetis, shaking her head. “And at this rate, she never will be. I suppose a fertile seed left dormant is distressful for many.”
“Does Graham’s future have anything to do with hers?” asked Edward.
“Hmm…” said Lachetis, looking suddenly pensive and putting down the threads she was holding. “You know, they could, Edward. They could be connected somehow.”
“What?” Edward asked, growing slightly suspicious. “What do you mean, ‘connected?’”
“Be careful what you say, Edward,” whispered Maia, holding his hand tightly.
“Rosella has had a good deal of what humans call ‘everything’ in her life. Joys, disappointments, sadness, glees…but what of tragedy? Has this child ever felt what it is like to feel total loss, to wish that she were here, like you two are?”
Edward shifted his legs beneath him and swallowed. Graham was speaking to his offspring, obviously about what the Fates had spoken of: passing his Adventurer’s Cap on to one of them. The children’s eyes were wide with excitement.
“It is these hard times that make adventurers what they are. Alexander had plenty of those in his captivity, and look where he is now! I’d say it’s high time that his sister had her turn.”
“But…what about Graham? He’s going to pass his hat on to one of them, and I can’t see what we can do to prevent it now!” cried Maia.
“Hmm…” said Lachetis again. She looked into the glowing ball for the first time, and saw Graham take his battered, sea green hat with a red feather in the brim and fling it into the air. It somersaulted upwards, then slowly began coming down. Rosella and Alexander reached upwards in an attempt to catch it.
“Atropos?” Lachetis asked. “What do you think?”
Atropos hesitated for a moment, then picked up a long thread from her lap and her long, pointed shears. Edward realized what was about to happen in an instant, and so did Maia, and just as she leapt forward, screaming “No,” Atropos had placed the right blade of the shears against the thread and ripped it upwards, partially severing the thin strand.
In the same instant, Graham suddenly winced in pain, staggered forward and collapsed on the blood-red carpet, his hands clutching his chest. His crown fell from his head with a resounding, metallic clang, rolling a few feet before stopping.
Edward was wild-eyed with rage, resembling a werewolf just prior to its transformation.
“You…you killed him!” he rasped, pointing at the image with a quivering digit.
“His thread is still complete, young man,” said Atropos, holding up the mangled object before placing it in her lap again. “He has just suffered a severe trauma.”
“He is…going to recover from this, isn’t he?” asked Maia, almost in tears at the sight of the poor man sprawled on the floor of the room.
“Not easily, he’s not,” said Lachetis. “He will die within a day. Unless…”
Here she paused and fingered with the threads in her lap.
“Unless someone saves him.”
Edward looked at the throne room of Daventry. Valanice was stooped over her husband’s body, trying to revive him. Alexander was running to his father’s side, his eyes wide with terror, but Rosella was still standing where she was, too stunned to move.
“Rosella?” asked Edward. “Rosella is going to save him?”
“It seems she is the one,” said Clotho, her voice quiet but her words mighty in their meaning.
“But…how?” asked Maia.
“I just remembered,” said Atropos, “In the same land that the future ‘indirect’ savior of Etheria is being held, there is a well-wishing fairy whose life-giving talisman has been stolen – by none other than the boy’s malevolent stepmother herself! She is in dire need of help. She also has only a day to live, and the land she lives in houses a tree that bears a fruit that bestows health and long life to the person who eats it. She can tell Rosella all this through the Magic Mirror, which, as you can see, is finally clear. I think Rosella would agree to go there, don’t you?”
Maia and Edward looked at each other in silent amazement.
“And concerning about whose hands the Adventurer’s Cap is in now…look for yourselves,” said Lachetis.
The couple looked at the throne room. Behind Rosella, lying on the floor, was the cap that Graham had worn during his quest for the three lost treasures of Daventry and his journey to find his bride. It lay unnoticed as a grain of sand on the red carpet.
“Your idea was a fine one, former ruler of Daventry,” said Clotho.
“My idea?” asked Edward. “I didn’t say anything. You three were the ones answering my questions, and sometimes posing them even before I came up with them!”
“It was your presence that changed the path,” said Clotho. “If you didn’t choose to come here, Graham would probably be admiring the child that received his cap…and at the same time, regretting his decision.”
“But Graham is near death now! You said so yourself!” said Maia to Lachetis.
“I do not deny that,” said Lachetis. “But his hat has not been passed on. Even though his daughter is going to have her own adventure and save his life, she and the rest of the family will realize that he was born to be an adventurer, and something that is part of your very soul is not something that you pass on. Only physical objects can be passed on, but metaphysical ones? Never.”
Edward was silent. Though he was watching Graham’s still form being carried away by his servants, he could see Rosella speaking with the desperate fairy through the magic mirror, see her standing in the land that the Fates were speaking of, finding the magic fruit, saving the fairy’s life and returning victorious. He could see Graham getting better and going on to more adventures, his children as well.
“So…Graham’s family will be now rescued by him when they are taken away by the sorcerer in the future?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Clotho. “A few minutes ago, that was not to be, but now it undoubtedly is.”
“What about the dark-haired girl that you spoke of, imprisoned by a sorcerer in the future? What will happen to her now?” queried Maia.
“She will undoubtedly be rescued, but not without catching the eye of a certain young man,” said Lachetis, with a slight smirk.
“Does this have something to do with Alexander?” asked Edward.
Lachetis merely chuckled in response.
“I have a feeling that something might even happen between the this kidnapped ‘savior of Etheria’ and the princess,” whispered Maia to her husband. A cackling guffaw from Lachetis, something that came very rarely from her or any of the Fates, indicated that Maia was probably right.
“Young Maia,” said Lachetis, “You may be interested to know that Graham’s wife is also going to have her turn at adventure.”
“Truly?” asked Maia in surprise.
“If all goes well, yes. Queen Valanice will indeed be forced to endure one of those life-risking odysseys.”
“And those other kingdoms that you said were in danger?” asked Edward.
“All seems to be quite in order now,” said Atropos, “And your young friend and his family will live to see it happen.”
“And Maia and I…we’ll just see it happen, is that it?”
“Yes, that’s the way they’re woven.”