We Three QueensJon Jacks / Fantasy
We Three Queens
Other New Adult and Children’s books by Jon Jacks
The Caught – The Rules – Chapter One – The Changes – Sleeping Ugly
The Barking Detective Agency – The Healing – The Lost Fairy Tale
A Horse for a Kingdom – Charity – The Most Beautiful Things (Now includes The Last Train)
The Dream Swallowers – Nyx; Granddaughter of the Night – Jonah and the Alligator
Glastonbury Sirens – Dr Jekyll’s Maid – The 500-Year Circus – The Desire: Class of 666
P – The Endless Game – DoriaN A – Wyrd Girl – The Wicker Slippers
Heartache High (Vol I) – Heartache High: The Primer (Vol II) – Heartache High: The Wakening (Vol III)
Miss Terry Charm, Merry Kris Mouse & The Silver Egg – The Last Angel – Eve of the Serpent
Seecrets – The Cull – Dragonsapien – The Boy in White Linen – Porcelain Princess – Freaking Freak
Died Blondes – Queen of all the Knowing World – The Truth About Fairies – Lowlife
Elm of False Dreams – God of the 4th Sun – A Guide for Young Wytches – Lady of the Wasteland
The Wendygo House – Americarnie Trash – An Incomparable Pearl – Gorgesque
Text copyright© 2016 Jon Jacks
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The empress was no longer used to the snow.
She had been raised here and, as a child, had played happily in similar snowfalls.
Now, however, she was old, and felt the cold seeping deep into her bones. She had lived too long away from her home, she realised with a pang of regret; too long in warmer climates that had softened her.
She anxiously glanced back inside the tent, towards her great-grandson, wrapped up warm in his crib.
Unlike us, she thought, the Holy Parents had fled with the infant Jesus to the heat of Egypt, not the cold of Essylwg. But Egypt wasn’t safe for the young Magnus, whereas this was the very edges of the empire, not really fully under its control anymore.
Besides, it was here she had to come, she believed, to complete her task.
She stepped outside of the tent’s awning, this time looking over towards the carriage that had been safely parked up for the night. It was guarded by just a handful of legionaries, but so few had been prepared to risk remaining loyal to her.
She smiled, wondering if they ever sensed the presence of the other guardians that remained invisible to them, yet she could plainly see: the angels, sent here to help her achieve her goal.
When Helen awoke, she immediately noticed that the old empress’s bed was empty.
The empress seemed to sleep so little on a night, as if she either had unimaginable reserves of energy, or she remained too anxious to have a peaceful night.
Of course, no such concerns worried the child, who was still fast asleep.
Helen slipped out from beneath her warm bedsheets, grateful for the lushly carpeted floor as her bare feet sank into its thick woollen pile. She silently made her way across to the lantern light by the tent’s doorway, coming behind the old empress as she stared out into the night.
The snow was now falling in much heavier, more ferocious swirls than it had earlier. It would slow down their journey all the more.
‘You should be asleep,’ the empress declared sternly without bothering to make even the most fleeting of glances over her shoulder.
‘How did you hear me?’ Helen asked curiously as, standing beside the empress, she took a wrinkled old hand in hers. ‘I was being perfectly quiet!’
‘Yes, you were,’ the empress agreed, smiling down at the perplexedly frowning Helen. ‘But as well as learning to move silently, you also need to develop your other senses: such as how to feel – on the back of your neck, down your spine – that someone is approaching you from behind.’
Within the swirls of snow, the ferocious swarming of angry white flakes against the darkness of the sky, it was possible to see other images, other creatures, much as our imaginations allow us to see ships and dragons in the clouds, or bears and lions in the stars. Around the guarding soldiers, draped in thick robes to keep out the cold, the white whirls became vast, fluttering wings, as if they were a host of guarding angels rather than men.
No one but the empress was allowed to know what she had brought with her in the elaborate, sturdily constructed carriage. It was long, slim, low: useless for comfortably carrying people. But the legionnaires had been told that it had to be protected at all times, no matter the weather.
‘Is that what you think they are?’ the empress asked, now also staring out towards the carriage as if she had read Helen’s mind, or at least the expressions upon her face. ‘Mere imaginings?’
There was so much, Helen realised, to learn from this old empress.
She had survived to be over eighty years old when most would be lucky to reach thirty. Her highly elevated position made an early death almost as likely as that of the poor, those vying for positions within court resorting to poisons, slander, or treachery to make their way up the ladder of leadership.
Helen thought carefully about the empress’s question.
‘I used to think…when I was younger…that the things I saw within the snow might be real.’
The old empress chuckled.
‘When you were younger?’ she said with great amusement, smiling down once more upon the young Helen.
‘They say I’m wise beyond my years,’ Helen replied with the beginnings of a scowl, well aware that people who said this rarely meant it purely as a complement.
‘That will hold you in good stead, my dear,’ the empress kindly replied. ‘But…as for presuming everything we see within the squalls is all down to our imaginings: well, there you might be well advised to recall that a child still bears the connections with the realm she has just sprung from – just as an old crone like me prepares to embrace that everlasting realm once more. It grants us insights denied others; but only if we are prepared to recognise them as such.’
‘So…you’re saying there really are angels out there?’
The old empress nodded, yet not without accompanying her agreement with an anxious narrowing of her eyes.
‘Yes, they’re out there, thankfully: but even they aren’t prepared to fight every battle for us.’