A large chamber dwelled within a large castle that dwelled within a land of immense beauty and majesty. The chamber had four pillars protruding out of the corners, half circles and cutting off the sharp square corners. These pillars were made of the finest ivory, spiraled and shining in fresh polish made of the finest ingredients, searched for in the four corners of such a world. They gleamed their pearly white, but an odd golden glow seemed to radiate from them. Going closer, you could tell that the pillars were not just one large mass of the magnificent ivory, but made of tons of slivers of the ivory, all placed together so intricately that it looked as one. Faint engravings covered the spirals, written in a strange language only understood by the one that carved it.

The pillars were not the only strange thing in the shimmering room of beauty and perfect cleanliness. The floors were a polished marble, so spotless you could see a full reflection in the light grey, swirling stone. The ceiling arched up, towering so high it was astonishing. The walls and ceiling of the room seemed to be made of a slightly darker, more violently swirled form of the marble that made up the floors. Golden inscriptions were upon the wall in large, beautiful calligraphy, again in some language unknown.

Directly in the middle against the farthest wall from the grand mahogany doors there was a large golden throne. The arms were amazingly crafted, twisting into galloping horses at the end. The back arched up high, the sides depicted amazing designs and carvings of horses galloping horses, sea-sprayed and intermingling with a wild ocean. A large cushion of blood red with royal blue trimmings lay in the seat, freshly placed and showing no dust. In fact, the entire chamber seemed completely cleaned, showing nothing of dirt or grit. It was as if something important was about to happen.

A long red carpet was spread from the foot of the throne to the closed doors, petals of pink and yellow lying scattered upon it. A sure sign of some important ceremony, or perhaps it was just the ruler's birthday- or death day. Though if death was about, surely everything would not be decked in glorious red, but a saddening, ominous black.

A door was fitted to the left of the magnificent throne, a golden knob fastened chest high for a fairly tall person. It was a plan wood, with a scene showing a single, rearing horse, its windswept appearance making it rather regal and noble looking, though fiercely wild.

The knob rattled slightly and twisted, as if someone was trying to get in. A muffled muttering and the door banged open, sending off an echoing about the marble room. A young woman ran in, her black hair in disarray, and servant's clothes dirty and tattered, though still gave her a look of beauty. Her grey eyes stared around sharply and rested upon the throne. A strangled cry arose from her throat as she clapped her hands briskly, drawing in two more servants that each held a fairly tall, round topped table. Another servant came bustling in with two vases filled with white roses. The two table carrying servants set the tables near the throne, equally distanced from the golden chair of royalty, and the flower-holder place the vases roughly on the table.

The woman, who was the only servant of her gender in the room, stiffened and a low cry tore from her throat. The men cowered before her angry form, though she was no taller than five feet. It gave an amusing air off, as the men were a good foot taller. The woman strode quickly to the tables, scooped up a few fallen petals, and dusted the throne with a clean rag, though it was already sparkling magnificence. Shoving the petals towards the flower-carrier, she motioned silently for them to leave as voices came from another door, on the other side of the throne.

The servants hurried away, as it was mark of a good servant not to be seen by master or public unless called for. These servants were of highest ranking and were in no want to move down to lower-class society. The grey-eyed woman closed the door behind her softly, much different than her entrance, and all was silent but for the voices coming from behind the other door.

Their tongue was heavily accented, and one seemed to keep repeating sounds before finishing the word. The door opened and a regal man stepped forth, flanked by an equally noble-looking stallion.

The man was easily the high lord of the house. He was garbed in a thick robe of blood red, trimmed with a golden thread and tassels. White was seen slightly from the inside; no doubt some foreign silk to make the garment as comfortable as possible. Black pants were worn, as well as tall black boots. His shirt matched the robe, being a thick, collared shirt of blood red, though the robe covered most of it. Upon his head was set a garland of neatly made holly leaves and berries. His skin was a dark brown, his eyes an intense green, his nose fitting his large face neatly. His black hair was pulled back in a small nub at the nape of his neck. He was lean but also seen in an older age, though not aging considerably. A broad smile gleamed in his happy eyes and shone all about his whole visage.

His companion, a tall horse of blood bay, unmarked by white, was watching him with interest. He was about seventeen hands, maybe an inch or two taller. His glossy black mane felt evenly about his nape, braided with crimson for the occasion. His tail almost dragged upon the gleaming floor, black and braided as well. His hooves were shined and oiled, gleaming in radiance. His silken hide of blood brown hue gleamed as he moved, muscles rippling beneath the sleek pelt.

The man was nodding and seemed able to speak with the horse. The horse's eyes showed a brief smile as the man said something. His ears flicked forward in obvious interest as the man continued speaking, though his words were unheard now. The horse nodded his head now and then, tresses floating lightly down each time his head went down. He stood square, all four hooves aligned, and never moved from his regal pose.

Such an intelligent animal was strange, though not in the household of this royal man. The strangeness of such a thing only began where this world ended. Many had found an ideal companion at birth, always a horse, and mainly the same gender, in this land.

Trumpets blared from far away and the man looked over the room briskly. Everything had to be perfect. He smiled lightly at such work his servants had done and nodded once to the horse, and walked straight to the mahogany doors. The horse took his place directly at the man's right shoulder and walked slowly; his neck arched and muzzle pointing down, almost to his own chest. His ears were flicked forward, the forelock dancing over the calm, brown eyes. He had to look powerful, royal, to give his companion good name. What else for the king of Avalon? He smiled lightly with his eyes and stopped with the man before the great doors. The man raised his hand, knocked once, and the doors opened slowly.

A powerful cheering came rushing over the smiling companions, am many hands reached out to touch the man's robes. He nodded his head slowly and walked straight towards a white arch that branched out in patterns over a large, raised terrace scattered with petals and surrounded by blooming rose bushes of white, yellow, and red. His feet made soft imprints in the soft velvet that he walked upon, and the horse's hooves' clipping was muffled dramatically.

Upon the terrace was a beautiful woman, garbed in a flowing silk gown of glowing white. Her red hair was pulled up in a plain yet amazing bun, small tendrils falling around her glowing face. A palomino mare stood beside her, her creamy mane and tail braided with a pale blue that matched her companion's eyes. Her golden pelt was cleaned to perfection and shone with an undying radiance. The woman's eyes were filled with tears of complete bliss and a smile was upon her fair features.

The man stepped up beside her and faced the crowd, who silenced immediately, watching with rapt attention. The man gazed down at the woman and kissed her lightly and gazed up again, his eyes bright and shining with love and happiness. He waved his right hand up slowly and brought it down.

Another man came slowly up, taking long, graceful steps and holding a heavily wrapped bundle. His robes were a clean white with a yellow trim, plain yet showing his position of high class. He came up to the woman, took a step so that he was beside her, and gazed solemnly over the crowds. He held up the bundle to the cheers of the crowd and gave hem a faint smile and turned to the man and woman, who were beaming. His lips moved slowly, his voice deep and compassionate.

"The child was born healthy, M'lord, Milady. Your daughter lives and shall reign. Bless her now that she will find a companion of her own, or take an offspring of your own."

The man and woman, now identified as king and queen of the lands, placed their right hand upon the child's forehead in obvious blessing. The man spoke slowly, his words heard only by the king and queen. When he was through, he bowed once, and strode off slowly, his strides long and graceful as they had been on entrance. The crowd called their love for their king and queen and love for the new child.

The stallion and mare nickered lightly, placing their own blessings in their own tongue. The crowd called for name, and no one noticed a dark shadow moving amongst them. The king lowered his head to his wife and they held a conversation. The crowd was silent, waiting in deep anticipation. Finally, the king raised his head in regal pride, his eyes piercing and intense.

"Hail now your new princess of fiery hair and jade eyes! Hail now, the princess Akilah!"

A loud roar of approval shook the grounds. Horses neighed, humans yelled, happiness held the lands in its blissful grasp. All were captivated by it except one cold, black heart.

A thin woman stood in the shadows of the terrace, behind it so that she was not seen. She wore black robes that matched her hair, and had cold, icy grey eyes, so unlike the warm, caring ones of the woman servant. Her long, spidery hands were clasped in front of her in an almost innocent way, though her mind was far from that.

Scheming thoughts ran through it, showing their horrible ways through her dark stare with her fathomless eyes. Her sharp nails were digging into her pale skin, drawing pinpricks of blood. She seemed not to care, almost pleased with the gruesome affect of paining herself.

She eyed the baby held in the air with utter contempt, her eyes glaring through the shadowy depths. Emotion was rarely seen through those pits, but it was clear, through her shaking body and rigid back, that her body was corrupted by pure, boiling hatred for the child.

How she wished her plan would have worked. The birthing had been easy; the child had been taken for examination to make sure all was alright. If only she had been able to get past that stupid man! She could have poisoned the little wench and been free of rule by such a friendly, peace-loving fool family.

Her eyes blazed at though of having to continue living under this family's rule. But- there had to be another chance. She would have many during the child's life, though she would be well protected. Her parents knew something was about, some dark shadow that killed and left no trace. Maybe she shouldn't have killed that door-guarding man. Oh well, more blood on her record. She really didn't care. She blinked slowly as the cheering died away and people made to leave. Her chance would come tonight. The parents would be tired, the child newborn and sleeping. Only faithful servants would be about, and they would be drunk of the festivity's wine. There would be asleep, and she could strike.

Why did she wish to kill such a child? There had been no prophecy of her destruction; there had been nothing against her at all. It was just the mere thought at living under such love and peace that made her insides writhe in turmoil and disgust. No, she would kill the child and find a suitable child to take its place later on-a child with a heart as black as hers. With that child, under her training of course, the empire would come to a peace-end and begin a new era of darkness, destruction, and death. She smiled with relish.

With a sweep of her cloak, her shadowy form disappeared, a single black scorch mark left where she had been standing only seconds before. The king and queen had no eyes for this, and therefore were left unwarned. They had eyes only for their daughter- their daughter whose death was planned for this very night of rejoicing.

The night carried on with much laughter and festivities. The people were rosy-faced with happiness and wine, their eyes bright and shining. The king was talking loudly with a few other noblemen, his wife gossiping happily with some high ladies, Akilah wrapped in her arms preciously.

A tall, thin, veiled woman stood in a far corner of the grand ballroom, her loathsome eyes upon the baby princess. Her mouth was a thin line, twitching with hatred each time the queen bent down to kiss the babe on the forehead. The ladies around the queen bent forward for a closer look and smiled happily as a tiny arm rose up to grasp her mother's finger.

A cry sounded, high and piercing. The queen gazed down in distress, not wanting to leave her new child, but not wanting to stop the festivities. A servant woman came up and bowed before her lady, making gesture to take the baby so the queen could have a moment of peace. The queen smiled happily and handed her Akilah. The servant woman walked away slowly, to a door hidden in the shadows. The thin woman watched with pleasure and followed swiftly, teeth glinting as her grim smile curled into a sneer.

The servant woman opened the door quietly, holding the baby lovingly and gave no notice to the towering woman striding towards her. As the door closed, long fingers grasped the handle and pulled it open again. The servant woman gazed up in amazement which soon turned to fear.

"You- you are not allowed access here, Milady," she stammered, holding the baby against her breasts. "'Tis for servants only."

The thin woman gazed down at the sleeping baby. "She is no servant, I daresay."

"No, she isn't," the woman replied quietly, body trembling.

"Then she mustn't go in there." The thin lady reached out swiftly and grabbed the baby, which wailed loudly.

The servant woman let out a piercing yell which attracted the attention of many people, who gazed at her with disgust, taking no notice of the thin woman, who had side-stepped into the dark shadows.

"Milady!" the servant called, reaching out for Akilah. "Milady Queen!"

"Silence, fool!" The thin, black-hearted woman struck out, striking the servant over the eyes.

The servant gave a gasp and stumbled back. Now many people had their attention on the two women. None seemed to notice that the tall woman held the princess and the servant was crying for help. They seemed to think it was an act of disobedience on the servant's part, and were enjoying the punishment.

"Help!" she cried faintly, her right eye bruising. "Help, the baby- she has it!"

The tall woman hissed maliciously. "You brought this upon yourself!"

The servant gazed at the woman raptly, her eyes wide and fearful. A few people seemed to understand what was going on and one had run to get the king and queen. Others were coming forward slowly, eyeing the tall lady with dislike. The servant shivered, sweat over her brow.

The thin woman reached behind her back, as if to take a long, harsh swing at the servant. Her hand whipped forward again, no holding a long and wickedly jagged dagger. The servant gulped and fainted, falling spread-eagle upon the cold floor. The tall lady gazed down at her in disgust. "A pitiful way to die." She threw the dagger harshly at the fainted woman and it embedded itself in her chest. All was silent as the tall woman gazed around scornfully.

The king came forward swiftly, his face paling at sight of the dead servant and baby in the woman's grasp. "That's my daughter- give me her!"

"Your daughter?" she lady asked slowly. "No, I believe she is mine now. I hold her, I love her." She placed a kiss on the forehead.

The king gaze a bellow like a wounded animal and strode forward. "How dare you!"

"How? Like so." She placed another kiss upon the child.

The king rushed forward, men coming up behind him. The tall woman glared at him, but with a triumphant look in her eyes. "You shall not have another child- it is against your laws if the first survives- and so she shall!"

A blinding flash of light and a blast like a cannon sounded. All sound seemed to stop, all action as well. A dark smoke circled around the woman and the child and the king stood in shock. Another flash and the woman stood, empty-handed.

"You have proof of a healthy, witnessed birth, but, alas, you have no child. The throne is out of your family sooner or later." She grinned wickedly at him.

"You foul creature," the king whispered. "You shall pay for this- pay dearly!"

Guards rushed towards her, swords drawn. She gave a cackle of laughter and disappeared in a tornado of black smoke. The people watching stood in shock, the king in livid fury. The gentle sound of sobbing broke the silence. The queen stood, tears staining her pale features.