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The Lake of Shades: A Fantasy, Part Six

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.


Inside the palace of the great city, Dinas Gwyn, a woman stood before a mirror as her lady-in-waiting stroked her long hair the color of black onyx, with a comb of ivory. It had been the gift of a wealthy admirer whom she had visited in a distant land and played with like a toy or a dog while accepting his expensive gifts.

She used him for her own gratifications until she grew tired of his moody ways and had leaked their affair to the idiot’s wife as well as to the bishop and stayed in the city long enough to enjoy the unraveling of her former lover’s entire life.

Iyana had no time for love, and she was bored with wealth except as it gave her leverage and advantage. Her passion was power, and she was ready to expand her land holdings by means of warfare. But for that, she would need a much more powerful army than the mercenary forces she now employed. It was time for her to unveil her secret weapon. But she was unable to do so until the bounty hunter she had hired returned with the stones.


She knew the shades wouldn’t be able to resist their one chance to escape imprisonment. Soon she would have them. She would keep the royal family under the spell and would release the royal guard with one threat. For every deserter among the spirit-warriors, the soul of one member of the royal family would be annihilated rather than allowing them to pass on to the heavenly bliss they all anticipated.

The Queen knew the loyalty the subjects of the Spirit-King felt for their King and the whole royal family. There would be few, if any, who would seek his own eternal reward at the expense of those he had served and loved in life.

Under that threat, they would do her bidding forever. They would be her supreme fighting force that killed but would never die. They would march through enemy lines hacking, piercing, slicing until every enemy combatant was dead. The time would come when her enemies would see them coming from a distance and flee. The genius of it all, she thought, was that she wouldn’t even have to pay the spirit-soldiers. Iyana’s musing was interrupted by a knock on the door.


The Queen’s servant opened the door only the slightest and peeked. “It is the Captain of your guard, My Lady, Captain Fletcher.”

“What is it, Captain? You know how I loathe being disturbed for every menial thing you find difficult to handle on your own.” The Queen threw back the door to reveal a man of considerable height and breadth who cowered before her like a child.

“Forgive me, Your Highness, I thought it would be wrong if I did not tell you in person what is happening on the green outside the city. You see…”

“What are you rambling on about, you fool? Oh, never mind, I’ll look for myself.” Iyana crossed the room and opened a door that led to a balcony overlooking the city with Tillerton in the distance. Separating the city and town was a large green field used for grazing animals as well as gatherings and markets. Permitting the peasants to use this valuable land was one of the Queen’s few acts which the people characterized as kind.


“Captain Fletcher,” she called over her shoulder. He stepped onto the balcony.

“Yes, My Queen?”

“Was there a market or some other public gathering planned for today on the green?”

“No, Your Highness.”

“Then disperse that mob immediately.”

“Yes, Your Worthiness. But I would like to add one more thing if I may.”

“What is it? You should think twice about asking me for more money for your men. I’ll remind you about the lashings you took last time you played such a fool.”

“It is just that the three roads leading into Tillerton are filled with peasants coming from all the towns and villages of Her Majesty’s kingdom.”

“Then send them home.”

“And if they will not go, should we wound or kill a few of the men to scare the rest of them away?”

“What? You would kill rent paying, tax paying men for no reason? You fool, get out of my sight and rid the green of those filthy people.”

“Yes, Your Highness, as you please.”

As the Captain left the balcony, the Queen called after him. “And watch carefully for that peasant bounty hunter I hired to go on a particular mission. If he is here and has not come to see me, I want him bound and dragged into the dungeon. You remember him, don’t you?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. A smallish man he was. I remember him.”



Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on April 29, 2018:


A great way to introduce the 'arch vilian'


Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 10, 2018:

Interrupting the main story to introduce the queen is within the style of fantasy writing right now. I think it is a great addition to the story to know what our hero is dealing with, It will be good to get back to him though. The story is, no pun intended, spellbinding, Chris.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 01, 2018:

Nikki, yes, a bit shorter. I wanted to give you a snapshot of the Queen before we went further. Up to now she has been just a name. Hopefully, the next parts will be more meaningful as the story comes to an end.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 01, 2018:

Most fascinating looking forward to more.

Nikki Khan from London on April 01, 2018:

What a foolish queen she is, interesting dialogues Chris, pictures were great too.

But it ended up so quickly, seemed bit shorter than other chapters.

Left us to want more.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 31, 2018:

Linda, I'm glad you found Iyana to be an interesting character. I wanted you and the other readers to get to know her close up before I proceed.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 31, 2018:

Eric, you've been paying attention. We'll wrap this up in two more parts unless I decide to expand it. But I think it is good as it stands.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 31, 2018:

I enjoyed learning about the Queen. Yes, she's horrible, but she's also interesting! I'm looking forward to seeing how the plot progresses.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 31, 2018:

She is an arrogant fool. I hope they disband and come back later to attack so the plan through the secret entrance can work. Or is our hero already there? I wonder if she can use some kind of spell to get the spirits to turncoat on their new king. His new height and weight will surely trick the guard.

Oops I am getting way to into this.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 31, 2018:

Bill, Bill, Bill, if we had emoticons or gifs on this site, I'd have one showing me slapping you silly right now. Snap out of it, man.

Seriously, thank you for the constant encouragement.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 31, 2018:

Sign me up for a flash fiction course if, and when, you teach it.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 31, 2018:

I interrupted the point of view of Rothfort so I could introduce the Queen adequately. Hopefully, the reader will have more of a reason to dislike her as we move into the conflict.

manatita44 from london on March 31, 2018:

The Queen plays her part well including the seeming arrogance. Perhaps she will be in for a treat.

Seems shorter somehow. This one.

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