Teacup story – a story short enough to fit into a teacup.
Future – Veli carried her kingdom’s last hope in her satchel, the small piece of paper which had doomed them all. – (Universe – Tales of the Dragon, Rating: PG, Genre – General, Genre – Fantasy)
What was the future?
After all it didn’t exist apart from in the minds of those who chose to contemplate it. It was seen as an endless void of possibility, a chance to start anew and to spin out all of your hopes and dreams.
But that view of the future? That was for people who had no responsibilities, no challenges, no successes. That future, those endless chances to change again and again were for the people who would not change in the present.
No the future was not as empty as people always thought. There were always promises, chances, snapshots of the times that need to come about to ensure that you could keep breathing and living your way of life. The future was not certain, but there were some things which had to come about. There were the things that needed to come about otherwise kingdoms would fall, there were last chances, last hopes, the last shot as success.
Veli knew she carried her kingdom’s last hope in her satchel. It might only be a small piece of paper, with a simple wax seal that had a few lines pressed into it by a signet ring of royalty.
It was the letter that doomed them all.
It was a stupid chance, Veli knew that. She wasn’t exactly the ideal marriage suitor, but she would do what her country required her to do. Even when the bastard Bequid had told her to make the journey herself to prove that she was serious about the agreement. Even when she had been told not to bring any advisors or even her beloved Neira. Even when she had been thrown to the floor and made to beg like a child to their unruly parent.
The letter was the final line drawn under her kingdom. If they didn’t get Bequid’s alliance, he would go to war with them. It was known that he was jealous of Veli’s kingdom’s supply chain which ruled most of the Northern Mountains, and apparently even prostrating herself on his oak floor would not make the moron reduce his demands.
He wanted it all. He wanted Veli dead. He wanted her kingdom for his own domain.
He wanted power.
Veli picked up one of the pebbles next to her. She still had a day’s walk ahead of her to get back to her home again, and then the endless discussions and talks which would ensure form it. They would question and quiz her, they would suggest that she should have allowed Bequid to storm her lands and take what was his in return for her people’s survival.
But Veli knew Bequid. What he called ‘ruling’ was nothing more than destruction. He did not rule with grace or honour, but with anger and malice. It had made bile rise in Veli’s throat at the thought of marrying such a man, but if he was allied to her then he would not attack her. That was the plan. That had been all of their plans.
Veli threw the pebble ahead of her, watching it jump across the dry forest grass. Neira would still be hunting now, carefully not coming too close to Veli in case Bequid’s spies were still watching her. The Dragon was smart enough to know about how humans acted, Neira would stay away until Veli climbed into the top most keep and set a Firestone alight to signal she was home safe.
Dammit, Veli thought. She needed Neira’s council now more than ever. Dragons were the wisest creatures in the land, and Veli was lucky enough for Neira’s support and guidance.
And sometimes, if Veli was lucky, Neira gave her an occasional flight. Technically it was a gross dishonour to ride a dragon, but Neira allowed Veli to view her kingdom from the sky to impress upon her how small the kingdom was, when at times Veli felt like she couldn’t control it.
I could use a flight right now, Veli thought at the sky. She knew Neira could hear her, Dragons were mysterious creatures after all with powers far beyond human comprehension.
Veli paused for a moment, watching the small patch of cloud drift above her head, covering the stars as it went. It would be a beautiful night, if it were not for the feeling that her entire kingdom was doomed.
Just as Veli was about to turn her gaze from the sky, she saw a shadow cross the clouds above. A roar, which sounded more like a challenge than anything, echoed down from the heavens, making the forest around Veli quiver in response.
Neira had come to offer her council. Veli couldn’t help but smile.