A/N: Welp. I have been reading too much “A Song of Ice and Fire.” And that's where this comes from! Also – HOLY FUCK THIS FIC IS FOURTEEN PAGES LONG. WHOOPS.
A fog was creeping along the green hills, the morning light turning the sky pink and gray, turning her country into a sweet pastel painting. But, she knew, the mummers along the cities walls – the talk of treason, the whispers of magic men in the forests, and this was a soft calmness that only proved her day was going to get much darker. She turned away from the window.
Amelia broke her fast on soft bread and eggs, drinking a cup of hot cider, the autumn chill working its bony fingers through the castle. Her face was smooth, emotions hidden behind a mask of courtsey, the common folk called her “The Red Queen.” Not only because of her unique red hair, but because of how bloody and ruthless her journey was.
It took her fourteen years to earn her crown.
She would not give it up so easily. Amelia pushed her plate away, her hazel eyes returning to the window, a petite sigh escaping her pale lips. Her gown was a deep blue, stark white Celtic knots decorated the hems of her sleeves and around her throat, and upon her red hair was a beautiful sapphire jeweled hairnet. It held her hair up, showing off her long neck, and the necklace she bore. It was a tiny star shaped jewel – her family heirloom. It shone in the darkest of nights and glowed in the faintest of mornings. Sometimes, Amelia would swear she felt heat coming from it.
“Your Grace...” Rory entered her room, bending the knee upon seeing her. His silver armor shifted as he moved, the deep green cloak of her Queens guard brushing the ground as he knelt. Upon the cloak was the golden embroidered coat of arms of her House. It was a simple symbol – a motif of a four pointed star.
“Sir William.” She lifted her hand slightly and he stood.
“We have reports, Your Grace, a rider returned from the river lands speaking of the magic man.”
“The Trickster returns.” Amelia said without humor. “I will not have my people turn mad with fanciful tales of a man who can change his face and disappear from our chase without a horse or even a footprint.” This Trickster was becoming more and more of a nuisance as time went on. People claimed he was going to take the throne. People said he was going to end the winter – so the lands may stay in an eternal summer. So far, the magic man had done neither of these things. He appears and disappears – without a scent for her hounds to follow – but, Amelia knew one thing; he was searching for something.
“They say he comes to save us.”
Amelia actually did spare her queens guard a smile with those words, “Save us? From what?”
Rory had no answer for her. He was a loyal friend and a loyal guard but, he was not the man who would find the Trickster. No. Amelia sipped her hot cider, finding it much cooler than it was earlier, and the taste felt sour on her tongue. The Trickster will take off his mask and reveal himself to me. It is only a matter of time.
“I wish to speak to the rider. He shall tell the court what he saw and if he tells true – then he will be rewarded.”
“And...if not, Your Grace?”
Amelia stood, standing near as tall as Rory in his armor, her eyes flashed dangerously. “Then I'll have his tongue.”
The Queen's gown swished as she walked, Rory trailing behind her, his hand on the hilt of his sword. Amelia kept her thoughts to herself, sharing little with Rory and even less with her ladies and her council. She was raised to believe that a queen must have secrets. “A secret keeps you safe, sweetling.” Her father once said.
That was before the savages put a sword through his belly.
“Your Grace.” Her council stood, greeting her in their own ways. There was Gaston – a healer - with a snow white beard all the way to his knees that he had his servants braid each morning. He simply nodded, his eyes lidded, but crystal blue and always watching. Sometimes, he would look at Amelia and she would feel as naked as her name day. It was as if he could see through lies and cloth and smiles – but his council was wise and true. To her left, Nora, a woman of coin and her once-pretty faced scared with battle. A jagged, broken scar ran across her face, from her temple to her chin. Her hair was an oily black and she kept it short. Amelia looked to her when it came to advice on war and battles, and she was the mistress of coin, who kept the people from starving and the throne going in debt. She bowed respectfully when Amelia entered, her voice as smooth as silk.
Lastly, the man not to be trusted. Amelia had him on her council only to appease his household and he was more of a hostage than an ally. Surely, he had all the comforts of a guest and the privilege to be on her council, but she did not trust him at all. Thornin was a broad shouldered man with a bulbous nose and a wide mouth. His younger brother of House Green wished to marry Amelia – to have the crown, no doubt, but Amelia refused them.
She spoke to their father, two years ago, on the eve of war.“I will take your son unto my council, but I shall not marry him.”
“And what of an heir? Unless you have a cock and a cunt between those silks – how will your lineage go on?”
“Guard your tongue, ser. I am still your Queen.”
“Once the battle is won, m'lady.”
The younger brother died on that battle and Amelia took her crown. She had no heir, no siblings to take the crown, no husband, and when she died – the Ponds would die with her. Fourteen years gone to waste if I do not wed...
“So, what of this Trickster, Your Grace? Shall we continue to hunt him down?” Nora asked, her voice cool.
“No.” Amelia folded her hands neatly along the table, painted and varnished with her lands upon them, “We have the river lands to worry about. The clans are getting too reckless – raping and pillaging my people – they cry out for justice. Winter will be upon us soon, we must prepare.”
“Wise words, Your Grace.” Gaston spoke with a gruff to his voice, years of the dry cough had rendered his voice weaker, but at least he still was able to speak at all.
The rest of the early morning and into the afternoon was spent speaking of plans. The troops they would send to the river lands. The court that would be in attendance once the rider came to the castle. The justice once the outlaws and savages of the clans – there would be no trial. They would spend a few nights in the dungeon, to weaken them, and then the punishment would attach to the crime. A hand for a theft, a head for a killer, a rope for a raper.
Amelia returned to her quarters to bathe and change before she appeared before the court. With the help of her maids, she striped of the deep blue gown and soaked in a bath that smelled as sweet as roses. Her hair was brushed and kept loose, framing her face in soft ringlets. Amelia drew in a small breath as her maids laced up the back of her dress, its color as green as the hills, a gold sash around her waist. The neckline dipping enough to show her collarbone.
And then there was a noise.
The strangest noise she had ever heard in her life.
A blue box appeared right in her chambers.
And her necklace, her star, her symbol – felt like it was on fire. Amelia grasped the jewel, it felt as if it was pulsing in her palm, and her eyes widened at the sight. A man appeared.
“Uh. No. Doctor. The Doctor. Hello!” He was looking at her, like the way Rory would look at her from time to time, and Amelia grabbed the nearest weapon within arm's reach. It happened to be a metal tankard and she chucked it at him.
He ducked, “Whoah, please, hear me out!”
“I know what you are!” She spat, “Trickster! Come to kill me, have you? Well, I won't go down quietly, madman! I will fight – kicking and screaming – and then my guards will appear and you will be gelded for a Queen Slayer!”
“Please, Amelia!” And his hands were on her shoulders – and Amelia felt her entire body tense. “Please, trust me.” It did not cross her mind to ask this man how he knew her name. She figured plenty of men knew her name. But, all she could think of, was his eyes – how could a man with such a young face have such old eyes?
“I have been looking for you. On this day, in about three hours, there is going to be an attempt on your life. I need to make sure that you live.”
“Because it's important. You're important.” He let his hands fall from her shoulders and Amelia took a small step backwards, lifting her nose hauntingly with a small smirk on her face.
“Well, I am the Queen.” She quipped.
His eyes fell onto her necklace, “Where did you...?”
“It's my family's, it's not for sale, no – you cannot touch it.” Amelia gathered up her skirt, “Now, if you'll excuse me, Trickster, I must go. I have a hearing to attend to. If you are going to remain in my castle as you claim to protect my life then I suggest you do it quietly.” Amelia made her way to the door and when the Trickster spoke, he spoke so quietly that she wasn't even sure she heard him at all.
“So, you trust me then?”
Amelia tossed her hair over her shoulder, eying him up and down, taking in his strange clothes, strange hair, his odd posture, and his timid smile. “No. Trust is earned, but...your eyes...a man lies with his eyes and yours speak only of pain, misery and loneliness.” She shut her chamber door and hoped to her old gods that he would not get into trouble while she was away.
If they found him, she would have to throw him in the dungeons.
And the whispers would get louder if people saw a queen going into the dungeons to speak with her prisoner. A male prisoner no less. She did not need idle gossip tainting her court. It was difficult enough being the first sole-ruling queen in centuries.
“My Queen.” Rory was at her side at once, “The rider has yet to arrive, I am having some of my men search the local inns and brothels. Perchance he lost himself to the charms of the city?” He looked at her, a slight nervousness to his eyes, “However, there is a man...he's one of the Wolves.”
Amelia's stomach tightened, panic rushing through her, yet her face was a mask. 'Bad Wolf' was one of the river land clans. Nowhere near as ruthless as the Moons, who murdered and left babies with their heads bashed in. The Bad Wolf clan were a group of savages who thirsted for gold, they robbed villages, and maimed whomever got in their way – but rarely put towns to the torch. Her father was killed by this clan during the great rebellion when Amelia was only seven years old. She was told that the entire world was on fire when she was born and her father and his lords tamed the flames. They united the people and fought back, claiming the green lands for themselves, and united under King Robert – the first of his name. Her lord father was the King's most loyal solider and his friend.
The King was going to wed Amelia to his first son, once she came of age. It was written in ink – but ink did little once the war came.
But, as always, plans fall apart. Amelia turned seven years old and the clans rebelled again, they refused to bend the knee to a heathen and a coward – who hid behind stone walls. Her country was divided by the common folk and the savages. The savages believing the land was theirs by right, because they settled here first. There were three clans – clans that Amelia hoped would just kill each other off.
The Moon Clan (who claimed they had the blood of beasts within them), Bad Wolf (who hungered for gold), and Silence (who never spoke a word until death – and even then – it was only a whisper).
Amelia wanted her land united, but such a thing would never happen so long as the clans continued to fight each other and her people.
For fourteen years, Amelia grew up as a lady, but prepared herself to claim the crown. She trained in archery and swords, met with lords and ladies, made friends with her father's friends. For fourteen years – the land was divided. Farmers trying to defend their land, the capitol in a political turmoil with the king out fighting and not enough troops. The King died on the river when Amelia was fifteen and his first and only son and Queen ruled for a few days.
Until, she was stabbed in the middle of the night by a sell sword. The boy, fragile and sick with grief, took every sell sword and hired thug in the city and murdered them in the name of his mother. He went mad – staying on the throne for only a few months – until he gave himself to the rushing waters.
The next four years were as follows – war, blood, chaos, fire.
And Amelia was a part of it all. At sixteen, she led an army into a town close to the capitol and rooted out the clans, killed men and women of the Bad Wolf Clan, their bodies scant with furs of the creature in which their clan was named. You never forget your first kill...Amelia mused as she walked. They follow you, like ghosts, they are there when you close your eyes and step silently beside you in your waking hours.
After that battle, word spread, and she was known as; 'The Red Woman' or 'Fire-Princess.'
Amelia had enemies, not just the clans, but any noble house she might have slighted or ambitious lords who saw that a woman could take a crown with force. Amelia's thoughts drifted to the Trickster, who was waiting in her chambers, and her heart skipped a beat. I should have left him somewhere less...private. Maybe given him some servants garb...to disguise him...and how did that box get in my room? Magic...cheap tricks...I don't know. How could he know the future? Who is going to try and take my life?
The court was silent as she walked in.
Amelia saw the Trickster in the crowd, but everyone else seemed to be ignoring him, focused – on the man with the wolf furs kneeling in front of her throne.
“Have you come to confess your crimes before the eyes of men and your queen?” Amelia asked, her voice turning cold, as she took her seat on the throne. Her necklace thrummed with life, a tiny heartbeat against the middle of her chest.
“No.” He was a scrawny man, a weak wolf, his bones showing where his skin was visible. The skin hung loose around his jowls, his eyes rabid, feral, and his nails long – more like claws.
“Then, why are you here?” Amelia was not quick to lose her patience. She was the Girl Who Waited for her crown. She tilted her chin and waited for the man to continue. Her Queens guard stood in front of the throne, five of them, her most loyal knights. Her council sat to her right, Nora was the type to watch silently, Gaston had his squire take notes, and Thornin just scowled most of the time. Amelia raised both her eyebrows and the man growled.
“I am here to tell you something, Queen-Woman.” The man straightened his back, “When the full moon rises, the beast come out to play, with their blood boiling hot. It will bring silence – and the end of all things.” The man gave a slight bow that felt like mockery and left with guards at his side. Amelia exhaled through her nose. Riddles. I listen to riddles and prophecies and I will lose myself in them. Life is not a fairytale.
The Trickster was gone when she scanned the crowd for him.
“Your Grace, we give you three outlaws.” A man dressed in a dirt-ridden tunic and breeches, his hands were calloused, and his skin red from days of labor in the sun. But, to be true, he had three outlaws with him – chained by her guards. “I found them in me stable, Your Grace, they slaughtered me ox.”
“We was hungry!” One of the outlaws growled.
“If you are hungry,” Amelia began, “Find yourself work. Rory, bring these men to the yard, I will have one hand from each of them.” Amelia stood, leaving the throne room, to once again change. She would not soil this dress with blood.
The box was gone when she entered her chambers.
Did I dream of you, Trickster? No. I refuse to believe that was a dream. She laced up her boots, her hair braided, her body covered in a white linen tunic and brown breeches. Amelia looked at herself in the mirror and smirked slightly. She looked more like a peasant wife than a queen. She could hear the crowd gathering outside, shouting, and throwing rotten food at the outlaws.
“Nora...” Amelia turned slightly to see that the woman had entered, her dark eyes narrowed slightly, she always looked like a feline creature ready to pounce. “Do you think it's hypocritical of us? I call the clans savage, but I behead and maim in the name of justice.”
“You behead and maim in the name of the Kings and Queens before you. You do it in the name of our ancestors and our laws.” Nora did not smile, but her eyes were alive with amusement. “Do not tell me the Red Queen is going soft.”
“No.” Amelia shook her head and lead the way to the yard. Three men would be cripples at her hand.
She took the blade from Rory, her heart racing at the feel of steel in her palms again. It was her own sword, forged for her, made for her arm and hers alone. The blade shimmered in the light of the sun, now high in the sky, but the air had a chill to it. Amelia stood next to one of the men, as he was brought down to his knees and his arm pressed against the stone.
“In the name of Queen Amelia Pond, Ruler of the Green Lands and Protector of the River Lands, I sentence you to lose your hand for the act of thievery of an honest man. Take note, sir, that if this happens again – I will take more than your limb.”
The man screamed – as all the others did – and those screams would haunt her that evening. The blood coated the stone steps and her sword. Amelia did not flinch. The cuts were clean, the blade too sharp to be hindered by bone or meat. The men were dragged down to her healer, Gaston, and he wrapped the wounds and sent them on their way.
As she was about to leave, to return to the castle, she saw the Trickster again. Their eyes met and something, something told her to meet with him. He waited in that alcove as the crowd dispersed and Amelia made her way to him, with Rory following, but she trusted Rory. To be safe, she asked him to stand guard just a little bit away – out of ear shot but, still able to provide protection of if she required it. Not that she would – she had her sword.
“It has been nearly three hours, Trickster. I am not dead.” Amelia said calmly, crossing her arms.
He smiled at her. “Moon. Beast. Silence.”
“Three keywords that the outlaw said – all the names of the clans along the river. Well, beast translating to wolf – no doubt. Do you have any ideas what this means?” He tucked his hands into his pockets, leaning against the alcove in such a casual way that Amelia wanted to smack him. She could see the slight outline of his magic box, hiding in the hedges, and she wondered how it got it to move about.
“Prophecies and riddles do not interest me, trickster.”
“I had a friend like you...”
“Is that why you wish to save me? Because I remind you of your friend?”
“Yeah.” And in that moment, he was no longer the Trickster. He was the first name he said to her – the Doctor. He was here to help. Amelia felt her face soften and her necklace thrummed a little as the Doctor stepped closer. “You...you are like two entirely different people with the same soul.”
“You say such strange things.” Amelia looked behind her, seeing Rory looking anxious, and she quickly moved close enough to the Doctor to whisper in his ear. “The clans are going to attack the city. That's what I think of his riddle – I do not believe it – believing in prophecies never brings anyone any luck. But, I do not want to lose my crown.”
She stepped back, “It's a full moon tomorrow.”
“So it is, Pond, so it is.”
Amelia made her way back to the keep with Rory and instructed her steward to gather the council. “Rory, I want the city guard at each post, no drinking or whoring – there is a war coming.” Amelia ascended the steps, still holding her sword, for she would have her armor and her troops ready by morning.
But, Amelia did not go to her chambers right away. It would take time to get Gaston, and Nora, and Thornin all together. She made her way to the courtyard and sat among the wild flowers and trees that the castle was built around. Amelia placed her hand on the jewel, the star, and it was less warm than it had been when she was with the Doctor and before she chopped off those men's hand or passed her judgment. Is it strange to feel that a piece of jewelry was tied to her?
“A star on your shields and a star around your neck. Fitting.”
“How do you get to and from, Doctor? You are more silent than a shadow.” She felt his back press against hers as he sat behind her. Her sword laid out in front of her, gleaming, as the blood soaked into the earth and air. She felt him breathing, each inhale and exhale, and Amelia felt strangely at ease. Which – she shouldn't – this was a man who offered his help without asking what he wished in return. A man who had been looking for her. Who traveled throughout her lands and making her people tell such strange tales. He was no savior – at least not yet – he was just a madman with a blue magic box.
“What if I told you that it's more than the clans?”
“And what would you tell me, Doctor?”
“It's you.” She felt him lean the back of his head against hers, “A star cannot remain without the sky for too long, Amelia.” Amelia touched her necklace, its heat seeping into her skin and warming her fingertips. They said nothing for a long time. Let the minutes pass until Rory appeared to tell her the council was waiting. It was time to return as queen.
“Thank you for your counsel.”
“Your Grace, who was that? He looked very out-of-place – he's not - ?”
Amelia placed her hand on the bend of Rory's elbow, unable to feel the warmth of his skin beneath all the armor, sometimes it was like her guards weren't human at all. Just suits of armor protecting her from the shadows. “Rest easy, sir William. I know what I'm doing.” Or I'm just very good at pretending.
“Yes, Your Grace. My apologizes.”
The Red Queen had a glass of wine poured for her at the council. “They are savages, but united, they can take the castle by force. We must prepare.”
“You believe that wolf? He could simply make a fool of you, my queen.” Thornin said, scowling.
“I want my city safe. I want my people safe. If this is my first and only chance to have the clans together – to destroy them once and for all – I will not pass up that chance, ser.” There would be guards at each gate, double the watch, and recruitment would begin. Her people loved her, that enough was true, and if they must raise arms with spikes and shovels – then they would. “Send word, we will house as many women and children within the walls.”
“You cannot hope to shelter them all.” Nora frowned and Amelia could not stand her council's grievous looks. They acted as if the battle was already lost. She was the Queen. They would do as she commanded. Amelia took a slow sip of her wine and let them discuss, pipping in here and there where she saw fit, until the moon shone through the curtains turning the room an odd mixture of candlelight and moonbeams. Soft, pale light and harsh, flickering orange.
Amelia stood, silencing her council with a raised hand, “On the morrow, I want my city prepared for a battle. Call my banner men, warn the small folk, and do what praying or sinning you must do – because when the battle comes, I will need you all by my side.”
“My lady...” Thornin scowled – he was always scowling, “You do not mean to meet them on an open field?” Amelia smirked lightly at his act of concern. Everyone in the court had their parts to play and Thornin played his well. The distrustful council member who acted as if he cared for his queen, when all he wanted was her crown and what was beneath her skirt, since his brother was denied it.
“Aye.” There was a tittering amongst the council, but they soon swallowed the commands she had given them. Nora was the first to rise, Amelia would need her the most out of them all, for she was a woman with a man's soul – bloodthirsty, clever, strong, and even if Amelia heard mocking behind her back for having a woman on her council – Amelia knew Nora to be one of the most clever battle strategist. The queen left her council and retreated to her chambers.
That night, she dreamed that she was holding the Doctor's head in her lap as he bled from his mouth, stomach, chest, and nose – the red, stickily liquid drenching her crisp white gown and seeping into her skin. She cradled his head in her arms, felt him wrap himself around her, Amelia. He whispered in a language she did not understand. Amelia clutched to him, sobbing, and she awoke with a thin layer of sweat clinging to her skin.
The city was alive by dawn.
Amelia found a note by her bedside; 'I've worked it out. I'll see you soon.'
And deathly quiet by evening fall.
The castle was crowded with women and squaling children. The Queen was glad to leave it. Gaston remained there, tending to the sick and injured and the women heavy with child. Nora remained at her side since the morning light. The woman wore a black chain mail, her war hammer strapped to her back, a deadly instrument that seemed far too heavy for her lithe body. To be fair, Nora was fair in every weapon, but her war hammer was as she called it; her husband. It was said that she slept with it by her side, needing no man or lady to warm her bed. The sigil of her house, a snake eating its own tail in white and gray, was on the shoulders of her armor.
Thornin joined her once she was outside. Amelia thought he could almost pass as handsome when he was clad in his armor. It was silver and it glistened in the evening light, his helm covering most of his face, his lips pulled downward. “You'd be safer in the castle, Your Grace.” He had been saying this all day. Amelia responded in the same tone, with the same answer, “I will not hide while my people bleed.” Her Queens guard fell in line with her as they made their way through the cobble stoned streets onto the field. Amelia could see the nervousness on Rory's face. He was never a man for battles. Often, she told him that he should have been a healer, but Rory would always give a shy smile and tell her that he wouldn't be able to protect her if he was miles away healing some other lord or lady. That never failed to make her laugh.
But, on this evening, Amelia did not feel like laughing. Her necklace was throbbing, burning, igniting her veins with a tender warmth – akin to a mother's embrace. Once they passed through the gates, Amelia gave the signal to raise it. She would not let them take her city. Or her crown. “What a fine night for a battle.” Nora remarked, almost wistful. “I see the clans – the fools – charging aimlessly into our traps.”
The Queen could see them too. Groups that tore off from the pack, charging, searching for loot or glory. Some would be taken out by her archers and crossbowmen, others would fall into the trenches that they built, or simply parish by the swords of her men.
Amelia did not see the Doctor again until she was standing on the field. The clans united and standing before her. The moon was a pearl in the sky, washing the hills in its ethereal glow, and her troops shifted restlessly behind her. He joined her side – wordlessly.
“They outnumber us.” Amelia began, her voice carrying, her sword in hand. She was clad in her armor, dark blue and black, to match the night sky. It was hard to find an armor who would design armor for a woman but, once you were queened, every blacksmith wanted to be yours. Her armor was fitted for her, given some weak points along her joints to give her more speed in battle, but more protection along her chest.
“But this is our land! They have raped, pillaged, looted, and taken what was not theirs for too long!” There was a war cry behind her.
“We will, on this night, stop them. Chase them back to their holes, bring Death to their doors, and turn our fields red with their blood.” Another war cry. Amelia was keenly aware of the Doctor's eyes watching her as she rallied her troops.
“If we are to die, let the songs sing of our strength – our honor, our glory, and our love for this place.” There was another cry and then steel rang against steel as the battle exploded with life. Amelia could not tell friend from foe as she entered the fray. All she knew was that her steel sang when it sliced the air and made the most satisfying sound when it pierced flesh. For each savage she killed, she thought only of her father, thinking; perhaps this was the one that killed him. Or this one.
Nora called it 'blood frenzy'. The state of man when he turns into a beast on the field. “Nothing matters – only blade or bow and blood. You have no family, only your weapon and your arm. You have no name, no land, no title – no face. You are a warrior, born in blood...haven't you ever noticed that, my queen? Children come into this world, red-faced and screaming, but covered in blood. And if we are lucky – we will leave this world the same way – covered in blood.”
Amelia saw Nora crush her hammer into a man's skull. It did not matter which man. Whether he was of the Bad Wolf, the Silence, or the Moons. It only mattered that he was an enemy and now he was lying face down in the dirt. Her steel clanged, eyes narrowed, as she parried a man off her and slashed at another. Her red hair was braided down her back to keep out of her way in battle – but it proved to be a hinderence as a clansman grabbed it – yanking her head back and the cool metal pressed against her throat – He means to slit my throat. Am I to die? Here and now? No!
“Amy!” That is not my name. I do not know that name.
And then her hair was released and she spun around to see the Doctor, holding a shield above his head, the clansman bleeding down his face where the Doctor had clearly struck him. He was gasping, eyes wide, and he dropped the shield without delivering the final blow. He met her eyes.
And that – that is when the whole world began to shake.
“Amelia, the star, your star! Use it!” He shouted and Amelia looked down to see that her star was glowing – impossibly bright and red hot. She looked across the field, across the carnage and the bloodshed, to try and pinpoint why the ground was trembling. Amelia backed away as she saw it cut through the clearing – a monstrous thing. A monster.
Friend or foe – they were backing away and running from the thing. The thing – the beast – it was taller than any man or animal Amelia ever saw, with a body of three beasts; a lion, a bull, and a snake. The lion growled, it's claw slashing and slaughtering three men in one swipe. The bull snorted, his eyes fierce and cutting right through her. The snake was the beast's tail and Amelia saw it strike a man – biting his face, paralyzing him, and the other two beasts feasted on his flesh for a short while.
“Amelia. Amelia. Look at me, Amelia.” The Doctor was tugging on her arm, grabbing her shoulders, but Amelia could only stare at the creature. Watching in horror as her men either fled or tried to fight and died. “Amelia, it's looking for you.”
“What?” That snapped her out of it. Amelia searched the Doctor's face for lies and to her dismay, found only truth. She took his appearance in for the first time since meeting him, his clothes were muddy, unruly, his hair sticking up in odd directions – blood and dirt staining his skin.
“It's drawn to the power of your star.”
Amelia grabbed her necklace and tore it straight off her neck, the star burning her skin, and she tossed it onto the ground. “What are you - ?”
The Doctor did not have time to finish because she did not give him time. If the star was the source of the problem, then she would destroy it. Simple as that. But, there was more – Amelia felt like this was what she was meant to do – this whole time. The star had protected her, been with her through it all, and it was time...it was time to let it go. Everything has its end. Everything must die.
There was a deafening blast as her sword hit the star – colors burst, swirling around her blade and into her very being; darker than night, brighter than the sun, deep blues, misty mornings, deep blood red, and forest green. Every color illuminated and the battlefield blazed – men turned away while others screamed in terror. Amelia felt her armor crack and fall to pieces, her skin grew hot and then blistered before healing again, she was dying – she was alive – and when she drew in a breath; she breathed in starlight.
“Amelia! What have you done?”
Amelia turned her head, her eyes fierce – alive – burning like the star that burned inside her necklace. “Saving you. Saving all of us.” Her entire body pulsed, surrounded by a cosmic mist. The creature gave a roar and she was running. Amelia raised her sword and it glowed, meeting the creature's claw, and then she danced – moving past a blow and striking off the snake's head in a clean shot. Amelia jumped away, narrowly missing another blow – this time by the bull's horns.
Her sword cut through the air and met the center of the bull's head, blood gushing and spraying across the linens her body was now covered in. She yanked her sword from the beast's skull and drove the point into the lion's eye. She withdrew her weapon, dancing again, moving away from its attacks – slashing at its paw, parrying its claws, and weakening the already weakened monster. It howled in pain as she delivered the final blow – a harsh downward strike that severed the two heads.
Amelia turned, looking at the remaining troops – enemies and allies – she had never felt so powerful. Her enemies dropped their weapons and sank to their knees. She could see Nora in the distance, pulling her war hammer out of some unlucky man's chest, and the vague outline of Rory blocking a blow with his shield, and Thornin – kneeling with the Doctor at his side as he tried to push his bowels back into his stomach. “Doctor.” It was only a whisper, but the star was fading. The light burning out. The power thrumming through her veins – slowly dying away and taking her with it. I will not die. Amelia told herself, taking a step and then another, another, another, another – her body getting heavier with each step. One more. That's what she kept telling herself. One more step.
Amelia knelt, Thornin's blood soaking her breeches, mingling with the blood of her foes and that creature. “M'lady.”
“You fought most valiantly.”Amelia never liked him. Never trusted him. Yet, he was not Thornin of House Green as he held his insides in his hands and stared at her with glossy eyes. He was just a man. A dying man. A man who was dying because of her battle. You never forget your first kill and you never forget the ones who died for you.
“You are glowing.”Blood was frothing around his lips. “Hah. I'm not courting you, Your Grace. Merely stating what's true.” Thornin swayed slightly, “Tell my father...” He collapsed. Amelia reached over and closed his eyes with her fingers, before looking up at the Doctor. He held her necklace in one hand and extended the other one to her.
“Doctor...” Amelia swallowed – the fire turning to hot coals, a darkness creeping around the edges of her vision. “What's happening?” He did explain. Twice. But, Amelia only caught words, too focused on trying to keep her eyes open and her body upright. Fossilized star. Magnificent. Power.
“Whoah – Amelia – Am--” Her knees gave way and she fell into his arms.
She found darkness when she opened her eyes again.
Darkness and a cold, chilled council room with her Doctor in chains and her people celebrating in the streets.
“The clans have retreated, others bend the knee, they say that Amelia became a goddess on the field – became the moon itself.” Nora informed Gaston – the only one not present at the battle. “Amelia, is the only one who can explain the Doctor – was that his name? Apparently, he was not conspiring for the crown.”
“If not for his warnings and his advice, I fear I would not be here today.” Amelia explained, calm as water, to her council. “He came to me, warned me that someone would make an attempt on my life – for no personal benefit of his own – then the battle came and he was there. He did not have to fight by my side. He holds no loyalties to my crown, no debts to my people, yet he saved me all the same. This man is a hero and I command that you release him at once.” Amelia heard the opening of a door, then the shuffling, gangly walk that she somehow knew to be his.
“If you can believe his strange, mad tales – I suggest you to listen. As long as he is within my walls, he is not to be harmed, now...I will take my leave.” Amelia held out her hand and her lady in waiting took it gracefully, leading her from the room and back to her chambers. She could hear the Doctor talking quickly, explaining the battle in rich detail to her council – Amelia did not think they would believe him. But, rather him tell the story than her. She did not want to go from “The Red Queen.” to “The Mad Queen.”
It was close to an hour before the Doctor entered her chambers. He quietly asked her maids and guards to give them time to speak alone and Amelia was grateful for it. “Rest easy, Doctor – I have no questions for you. What happened was some sort of magic, I have no doubt, but it is now in the past and I have a kingdom to rule.”
“You harnessed the power of a fossilized star.”
“With your help, yes. I would have died on that battle. That creature would have torn me limb from limb and left the bones for the crows.”
“I only told you to use it.” He was being modest.
“And who else, but the strange mad man would know that this was a star and not just some queer necklace? I do not pretend to know what you've seen or what you've done or who you really are – but – I was wrong to mistrust you. I believe we could be friends.” Amelia smiled at the thought. She never had a true friend before. Too many secrets. He did not respond, so Amelia simply continued with her speech, she was raised on words to rally and inspired. Speaking came as natural as swordplay.
“You have saved my people, saved my crown, and I may have lost my sight but, not my life. Good, Doctor - If I could find your lips, I would kiss them.” The tone was teasing but with every jest there was always a spoonful of truth.
She felt him shift closer to her and the softness of his mouth pressed against hers was foreign and terrifying – and a million reasons why a lady, a queen, should not give kisses to strangers went through her mind and the turned to dust. He pulled away and Amelia let her hands fall to her lap, smoothing out the fabric she could not see.
“What will you do now?”
“Find a husband, I suppose. I fought so hard to get this crown, I must fight just as hard to keep it – even if it means marrying. A queen has her duties.” Amelia was not happy about the idea of marriage. She knew she could rule alone but, she could not rule forever. Amelia turned her face away, feeling the warmth of the sun hitting her cheeks and the cool breeze running its fingers through her hair. She could still see the hills – green, bursting with life, just as the spring arrived. The way the trees wilted as autumn turned the season and the blankets of snow that would cover the earth. She could not see – but she could remember.
“And you, Doctor?”
“Oh...” She heard him stand, knocking into her table as he did so, and muttering apologizes as he picked up whatever he had knocked over. Amelia felt a small smile tug at her lips. “I guess I'll be off...”
“Someday, you must show me inside of that magic wardrobe of yours.” Amelia turned her head to where she hoped he was standing. Her hazel eyes searched the room and found only darkness. She felt his hands cup her face and her heart jumped – anticipating another kiss. She looked straight ahead – feeling his breath ghost across her lips, and Amelia wondered how such a daft man was able to slide so easily into her life. A life full of courtesies and laws, bloodshed and honor, peace and prophecies. Yet, he fit – just as her necklace did – it's hollow shell still pressed against her skin beneath her gown. The star had burned, but she could not find it in her heart to throw the remaining parts away.
“Someday.” His words sounded close enough to a promise.
Her eyes fluttered shut at the feeling of his forehead, pressing against her own, his thumbs tracing circles on her cheekbones. Someday.