Copyright © 2012 Madeline Johnson

Chronicles of Kromolia, Book 1:

Invasion of the Witch-Queen

By M.J. Johnson

My first attempt at publishing this story. It's been sitting in the dark for three years, being worked on and edited off and on for a long time. This document has been published mainly for entertainment and critiquing purposes. I own all rights to all the characters in this story, as they are all my creations. Any semblance to any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental except where noted by the author in the approved Author's Note. Thank you for your time, and may any plagiarisers be

PROLOGUE: Invasion of the Witch-Queen

It was early morning when it happened, the sun just barely peeking over the sharp crags of Rähar-Melrook. Dawn stretched its rosy fingers over the trees, painting them the colors of a newborn baby's skin. Birds cautiously began to chirp the morning chorus, and squirrels leapt from one autumn-bared tree to the next. It was something one would imagine in a silly children's book.

A figure, seemingly made from the gray light of dawn itself appeared. She simply popped out of the air as if she had been there invisibly the entire time. She wore no cloak, but only a sleeveless, ash-colored dress as plain as the leafless trees themselves. Her gloves stretched all the way to the middle of her upper arm and were the color of a storm cloud at night. She had long, long gray hair, so long that it brushed the ground like a silvery cloak. She was a youthful woman, who would have been quite lovely if not for the skeletal, gray cast to her skin. A tall, iron crown encircled her brow. Her features were sharp and striking, like a feline. There was a feral glint to her black eyes. Her eyes were the most curious part of her person. The entire eye was as black as a dead, winter night with not a single star to light it. The entire forest seemed to scream and wail as she drifted forward like an undead specter. Circina! Circina! They seemed to cry in fear. Birds stopped chirping, squirrels hid, and even the trees seemed to cower in stark terror.

She blinked those soulless eyes and the entire forest changed. The chirping birds froze upon their perches and shivered. Then, almost instantly, their ordinary blue and red feathers fell out, and instantly grew back just as black as the eyes of Circina herself. A gale-force wind suddenly blew, and the bare trees shriveled and disintegrated into ash as though they had been burned by a terrible fire. The squirrels simply rolled over and died, to be consumed by the flesh-eating, pale white worms that once were mere caterpillars. The forest itself gave a heart-shattering shriek of pain, as it became slave to the inhuman lady. The change spread from her feet like an explosion of colorlessness going off in slow motion, or like the spread of an awful plague. Not even the great, boundless sky dared remain blue as Circina, Empress of the Gray, staked her claim to her new empire.

Circina proceeded through Iestmar Forest, and wherever her glare met, life and color drained away like blood from a corpse. Werewolves, giant spiders, snake women, and all variety of evil creatures appeared as ordinary wolves, spiders, and grass snakes vanished. Creatures writhed and squirmed as they fought in vain to stop the transformation.

Circina paused to observe a large wolf. Under her gaze, the poor creature thrashed about as if in death throes. His paws, each easily the size of her head bubbled and grew. His shiny black coat lost its luster and turned the color of a cinder. He grew larger and larger. His tail jerked and twisted like a beheaded serpent. Whimpers of agony grew to monstrous howls of torment. In moments, he stood on his hind legs. Thick, thick gray fur covered his entire body, and his shaggy mane stood tall and erect, and tapered down his back to come to a point between his powerful shoulders. Raw, man-crushing muscle rippled under his man-like torso and in his arms. The werewolf's spiteful glare was almost as piercing and icy as his mistress's was. His face was human, but covered in fur, and his teeth were as sharp and savage as any animal. Insane, feral intellect glittered behind his deep black eyes.

"Whom do you serve, werewolf?" Circina voice hissed and like the snake women she created.

"The Empress of the Gray, Queen of Death, the Majestic High Sorceress Circina, your Highness." He bowed low, his tail sweeping the ground. She held out her hand for him to kiss. Which he did with a slight whimper of utter devotion.

Circina laid her palm against his forehead, and he growled. "I name you Karmyrk, High General to the Mighty Empress." The werewolf wolf rose and gave a long, loud howl. In moments, scores of wolves, snake women, giant spiders, and large crows appeared, kneeling before the Empress.

"Any humans who remain in this land; bring them to me. All those who resist or are too weak to build my empire must be executed…" She paused. "BY ORDER OF THE EMPRESS!" Her hissing voice filled the air, cutting through the minds of the twisted creatures before her. There arose a cacophony of evil crows, howls, clacking, and shrieks. They presently vanished, slipping through the shadows like wind-blown leaves on that dark autumn night.

Circina vanished again, and appeared in another part of the forest. Birds ceased to chirp and began to caw, and squirrels rolled over and died to be consumed by mutated worms. Wolves became werewolves, snakes to snake women, and ordinary and spiders grew to monstrous size. Bats in a nearby cave slithered into the night air as pallid men and women, cloaked in deep black garments. Vampires emerged to serve her as they ceased to be bats of no consequence or malevolence. Destruction and evil lurked in her wake, and it seemed as if no thing done by men could make her stop.

She turned her head north towards Kromolia. Those fools thought that after 200 years of a wretched imitation of peace and justice they could escape her? No one would escape the gaze of Empress Circina. She had many plans. Plans within plans. And like the hydra, if they destroyed one plot, two more would rise to take its place. Mankind would not halt her this time, nor would their bickering royalty. They were weak, divided, and now was the time to take them, and she was so much stronger than 200 years ago when she was an ordinary mortal. She was a force to be reckoned with, and after the conquest of Kromolia, she would be revered as a goddess. Why oppose the logic of it? It did not matter. No man can fight death, nor the plague. She would make the world see reason in that. All people in her beautiful, ashen world.

Time was on her side, and in good time, Kromolia would see her terrible wrath.