Bianca stared morosely out of her Ice Tower to the fields of snow that stretched out beneath her.
It wasn’t fair. Blue tinged lips twisted into a frown. On paper it had seemed a fair divide in inheritance, yet as another reign approached she felt the looming dread from her people. Not that she didn’t try, but hard as she might it was always her sister receiving the accolades. Why did Vera get all the glory? Everyone loved her, praised her, and complained when she left. No one ever celebrated Bianca’s presence.
It used to be that Bianca was the stunning blonde with sparkling blue eyes, while Vera had been pretty in her own way, with her earthy curls and eyes of mossy green. Then Vera had received her delicate circlet of flourishing vine and become everyone’s best friend, while Bianca’s crown had sparkled and glittered in the sunlight as though covered in diamonds, and everyone had turned saying the glare hurt their eyes.
“My Queen,” Randolph spoke up, interrupting her memories. His voice was rough and husky – the growl of a bear.
“What?” she demanded. Long silver-painted nails gripped the slick cold edge of her window.
“Your troops, my lady, they’re ready.”
Her hands relaxed and a soft smile played on her frozen face. “Good,” she approved and turned to look at her most faithful servant.
His shaggy white coat and matching beard had been swiftly brushed before entering her presence, but still glistened with fresh frost.
“Will I be leading them?” he asked, broad shoulders straightening in his monarch’s freezing gaze.
“No, Randolph, you’ll stay with me. I don’t want to watch my triumph alone.”
He grunted his acknowledgement and approached the window at her gesture. Together they stared down as the heavy gate to the castle swung open, ice cracking off hinges that hadn’t moved in some time.
A smile as bright as sun on snow blossomed on the Queen’s face. Now she would earn respect. Now her sister would see that although she was the favourite, Bianca was the more powerful.
She gave Randolph the nod of command and he lifted his hand from the window to signal the march.
Trumpets blared and the ranks moved out – rows and rows of frostbears, snowsnakes, wolves, and men built of snow, armed with weapons of ice – taking their war south, withering the lush green scene as they passed.
Success was sweet and sharp on her tongue as the Winter Queen watched the masses leave. It would be a long, cold season, hitting early and staying long. Let Vera do what she wanted next summer; this winter would be talked of for centuries.