The Queen of Arachnia spun one last tangled web. Outside her cave, it was twilight. The bright shifting sands would be dark soon and cold. She should retire and rest. Tomorrow she could decipher the messages. She slithered across the newly-spun web, ending the delicate strand with a slight whir.
Her middle back leg brushed across the central strand and a flash of knowing spread through her cautious mind. A strong web. She paused, turning back. Sleep could wait; this was important.
Arachnia brushed her ancient leg across the web. A vision of a pale human creature, a Queen of dark power, rising to rule a fractured land in Kaeleer.
Witch was dead not ten years and a darknesss untouched by Jewel power was rising again in the Shadow Realm, that was what the spider Queen thought. She touched the web again, wondering whether this was a dream or a prophecy. It had been spun by her, so it must be.
No, she thought, studying the web more closely. This web reminded her of the psychic scent of a human she had once known. A proud, blonde Queen who had passed into the Darkness years ago.
Karla, the Glacian Queen. Once a friend of Witch, Karla had given her memories to save the Queen of the Realms. Arachnia had watched her cede Glacia to Witch to allow Witch to become the ultimate Queen of Kaeleer. It had been an unthinkable choice for a Territory Queen but Karla had been the first to do so. Even Arachnia had not dared speak those words until the human Queen had.
It was in her memory that Arachnia delayed sleep to read the intricacies of the tangled web before her. A Queen of Karla's line- that was a perfectly normal occurrence, Glacians were a short-lived race, so a new generation could have been born- young, intelligent, powerful- everything seemed in order.
Arachnia rubbed her front legs together in exhaustion. Perhaps there had been nothing extraordinary about the web. Perhaps it had been a residual passed through her and borne out on a late spun web.
She sent out a tendril to touch the web, searching for anything useful. When she did find it, the Queen of Arachnia was stunned. The Queen destined to rebuild a sector of Glacia…was male.
She must send a message to Witch's human friends, to warn them and to secure the boy's future. If Glacia fell into revolution and warfare again, the boy might be killed before his time. He needed guidance and training from someone who would overlook this…anomaly.
The boy had to be found.
"This is not possible!" Morghann, the former Queen of Scelt, screamed, throwing the ceramic jug against the wall.
It shattered against the green painted wall, the pieces littering the floor of Morghann's mansion.
"The Queen of Glacia had no children. Karla had no children. She never knew a man after her Virgin Night. This isn't possible!"
Kalush, the aging Queen of Nharkhava, sighed, plucking at her gown.
"That is not quite true," Sabrina, Queen of Dharo, whispered.
Morghann's eyebrows rose.
"Really, Morghann, were you blind? Karla never kept an official Consort, it is true, but-"
"Morton was always there," Kalush finished quietly.
Morghann shook her head.
"No. The boy is her grandson, by Morton."
"Karla would have never-"
"She did, Morghann."
Matti stared at the book before him, turning the pages slowly as he finished reading. Sirkka, his governess and nursemaid, played with her music crystals, huffing with boredom.
"I hate you," she said suddenly.
Matti looked up.
"What did I do?" Matti asked, his lip trembling.
"Nothing, everything," Sirkka said, not bothering to look at Matti, "Right now, I could be at court, talking to a handsome Warlord with Purple Dusk Jewels. Instead, I sit here, day after day, watching you."
"I'm sorry," Matti said as tears wet his cheeks.
"Oh, cry," Sirkka said, flicking her fingers idly against her shoulder, "You're such a baby."
The door to the nursery swung open. Eveliina swept into the room, talking loudly to someone behind her. A woman stepped inside, her elegant head turning as she surveyed the room. Her lip curled in disgust at what she saw.
Matti gaped at the woman. Her skin was an incredibly dark shade, exotic beyond belief to the Glacian child. A glittering black dress clung to her shapely form. It swished as she walked towards Sirkka.
"Lady Eveliina," she said, extending a hand to Sirkka, though her focus was still on Eveliina, "You received a summons to appear before the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan in regards to a boy in your care. You failed to make that appointment. The Prince is not pleased. I am here to take the boy into protective custody until he has been evaluated to the satisfaction of the Prince. Where is the boy?"
"Lady, you cannot take him," Eveliina protested, standing in front of Matti, her hands outspread, "He's a freak of nature, an abnormality. He needs to be contained-"
The cold woman pushed Eveliina aside and knelt down before Matti, studying him.
"You, boy, what is your name?" she asked.
"Mattiesko," Eveliina said.
"Well, Mattiesko, my name is Surreal. Gather your things and say your goodbyes, you are coming with me."
"Where are we going?" Matti asked.
Surreal smiled at him, the ice in her gaze seeming to melt somewhat.
"We're going somewhere far far away from here where the witches are real women and not sniveling bitches."
The boy was reading as a full-power Queen according to all the Healers. Surreal had shrugged when a startled Healer relayed the news to her. It made no difference if the boy was a Warlord or a Priestess to her. Surreal had long ago given up surprise at the odd turns the Blood could take. A hundred years before she would have said kindred were a myth and that Black was the darkest Jewel in existence.
Surreal wondered what Jewel he would wear when he made his Offering. Karla had worn the Gray. What would Matti wear?