Stacia walked through the woods, enjoying the shade of the trees on this sweltering day. Her staff helped her balance over gnarly tree roots and large rocks while she wondered if she would become queen one day. Her father was the king, but her cousin Solomon, was the only boy with royal blood. Queens had ruled Nineb before, but the tradition was for men to rule even if Stacia was the eldest. 

She would be ready to challenge him to a duel when the time came. Her father was preparing them both for the throne and even admired the idea that they rule together. But Solomon wanted the throne for himself. He respected Stacia, but he would only allow his wife to be called queen.

She paused on a large rock, rubbing her thumb over the end of the staff where the royal crest was craved. Stacia was only 14, but she was determined. Her father still had several years to rule so there was plenty of time for a duel. Stacia would humbly accept an advisory role if she wasn’t queen, but she wouldn’t relinquish her right to the throne without a fight. 

Stacia stepped off the rock to continue her walk. She had decided she would go to the lake when she saw a flicker of light out the corner of her eye. She slowly turned her head. She didn’t see any light on the ground. She was starting to wonder if she had seen a shadow from a bird flying above the trees when she saw the flicker of light again. It was a greenish-yellow hue. It flickered similar to a firefly, but slower. It looked like a rock at first, but the closer she got to it, it looked like a metal shard. The ends weren’t completely smooth, but they weren’t sharp. It kind of looked like it was broken off from something. Stacia glanced around again. Nothing metal was nearby, but it was possible an animal could have carried it from its original location. 

Stacia picked it up and everything went dark. Stacia gripped her staff tighter, but didn’t move. Something told her not to move. And then she heard an actual voice in her head. 

Ahhh. You will be queen, but of a divided land. 

Stacia could see herself looking over Nineb from the castle. The sky was overcast and several guards stood in front of the castle which was unusual. Stacia could see smoke from a nearby village. And was she hearing screams? The image changed and she could see villages ransacked and burned to the ground.

You will be queen of all of Nineb at first, but war will come. Solomon will be an advisor, but he will disagree with how you’re handling things. He will defect from the advisors and start his own uprising. As royal blood runs through his veins, he will take his place as king. Solomon is smart, but he’s power hungry. While he desires to keep his people safe, he also sees the war as an opportunity to take the throne. 

Stacia gasps and she sees Solomon and his men break into the castle and make his way to the throne room. 

“Step down Stacia. Let me win the war and save Nineb.”

“We can still work together. What is a queen without advisors?”

“You didn’t listen before.”

“No, I just didn’t do things your way.”

“My way is the right way.”

“And what do your advisors say to that?”

“They agree with me.”

“And if they disagree?”

Solomon grinned. “They don’t disagree.”

Stacia sighed. “Fear is not the best way to rule.”

“We all live in fear now because of this war. I bring hope.”

“Dear cousin, I will not step down. You may challenge me to a duel.”

“No time for duels, dear cousin. Either you step down or I take the throne.” 

Stacia stood ready with her staff. “It’s a fight either way.” 

Everything goes dark again and then Stacia is back to staring at the shard in her hand. It flickers its greenish-yellow hue and Stacia drops it. She stands up quickly and backs away from it. Was that really the future? Would there be a way to stop it? Or was she doomed to be a queen of a divided land? 

Stacia glanced around and stepped back toward the shard. She picked it up, hoping for an alternate future. 

But nothing happened. She let it flicker a few times and gave it some squeezes. Still nothing. Just before she set it back on the ground, she heard a voice say, “Nothing unwritten is permanent, Stacia.”

A chill ran through her body. She turned and headed back to the castle, leaving the shard on the ground. 

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