Northland Kingdoms Spring 897 A.D.

Princess Adora awoke with a start. For more than a month, the Princess has been waking in the middle of the night by a disturbing vision. She no longer deluded herself into thinking that this is merely a reoccurring nightmare. Never has she spoken to anyone in regards to her gift of the second sight. Not even her beloved father, the great King Wulfgarr, Ruler of the Northern Kingdoms.

Even though such a gift is thought to be bestowed upon by ancient gods, she was fearful of those who would think it a sign of evil. Her mother, Queen Morganna, also possessed this gift, bush has only confided it to her long time tiring woman Ceyla. Ceyla is known amongst the Vikings as a witch.

Alone in her spacious, candlelit bedchamber, the fire long gone out in the marble hearth. Adora shivered uncontrollably, but not from the cold. The walls in her chamber were lined by tapestries and fur hangings. Yet she still shivered. A great day or reckoning for the palace of Skaggerak, and all its inhabitants will occur soon...she knows not when, but it will come nonetheless.. From what she can sense, her two half sisters; Celestia and Fionna are directly involved somehow. Those two may be fair of face and form, but are devious and greedy as a thief with his gold.

Celestia, two years younger than herself at twenty-four, possesses the gift of charm. Hair a shimmering gold which ripples down to her waist. Eyes the color of the dullest and coldest grey. Celestia is slender of form and statuesque like a willow tree. Though, has no warmth nor kindness whatsoever for all that beauty.

Fionna, at twenty-three, is nearly the replica of her sister; limpid blue eyes, instead of the cold grey of her sibling. though tall like Celestia, Fionna is skinny, awkward, and not very intelligent. Thus enabling Celestia to use her like a minion.

Adora, a constant reminder of her mother, sets her half sisters' teeth on edge. Dark by contrast to both of them. Adora possesses the earthy kind of beauty, which will stand the test of time. Exotic and lush.

Petite of stature at five feet, two inches tall, Adora can be described as voluptuous of form without being plump. Her hair the color of a raven's, tumbles like a dark black silk cloud down her delicate back. Eyes the sparkling cobalt blue, brimming with mischief and warmth. Adora also possesses the keen intelligence and quick wit, which sends even the most seasoned warriors into acting like boys in leading strings. Above anything, Adora has a natural tendency to make people laugh, which is rare in these times of turmoil.

Celestia and Fionna are grudgingly aware of these things, which is why they constantly bereave her on the fact that, although they all share the same father, Adora's mother was a captive from the British Kingdoms in a city called Caledonia. When Celestia and Fionna's royal mother passed away, their father, King Wulfgarr took his captive, Morganna to wife. Deep down, the girls acknowledge the ever abiding love that those two have for one another, which makes them bitter against Adora all the more. "Listen carefully my daughters, for I have something of great importance to disclose to yuo three. The Queen and I will be embarking upon a journey to Caledonia in three days time, for a fortnight, in celebration on the wedding of an important Slavic King. One of you must rule in my stead until my return, for I have no male heir." The King's magnificent midnight blue eyes scan the faces of his daughters with a keen eye. He then continued....

"To decide which of you three I will choose to rule, I have put forth a test for you to execute successfully. The test itself is not difficult to explain, but to ,truly comprehend its meaning, one must truly search deep within herself to complete this properly. Bring forth the object in which I greatly desire and covet more than anything else in this world. The one who grasps this, will in no uncertain terms, be Ruler in my absence. Any questions my dears?" Having said his peace, he left his daughters to ponder this task.

Not long after their Majesties left, the three Princesses began to contemplate in earnest, the riddle they must solve within three days. It did not take Celestia and Fionna long to pounce on Adora once again.

"When I become ruler in place of father, I will order all those who have treated me with disrespect, punished. Especially that old crone Ceyla. That witch really unnerves me with her unseeing eyes and gnarled fingers. The only reason father does not banish her, is her threat of putting a curse of impotency on him" Fionna snickered and giggled.

Dear sister of mine, when will you learn that you are too much of a simpleton to rule. All you care about his how many scones you can have when we break out fast" Her sister sent her a mutinous look of irritation, but Celestia continued...

"....I will rule because I am the one who possesses the cunning, not you milk-sop" Celestia commented with sarcasm.

"I should tell father of your treatment of me...." Fionna stammered sulkily.

Adora rolled her eyes heavenward at the pair of self-absorbed creatures. Those two cannot see past their pointed noses.

"Adora, do not roll your eyes so, 'tis most unseemly" Fionna admonished

"Why don’t you kiss my...." Adora began before being interrupted again..

"When father gazes upon the gift I have will acquire for him, he will surely see how worthy I am to win this test that is clearly made for me to win." Celestia continued her musings with a smug look on her beautiful face. That angel face however, did not match the calculating chameleon that she was inside, Adora thought to herself. Was she the only one who notices her sisters may plaster a charming smile upon their angelic faces, but those who are not easily fooled by this, can easily see the malicious gleam in their eyes.

"What have you purchased for father?" demanded Fionna.

"Tisk tisk, sister mine, all in good time." she laughed " All in good time."

* * * *

That evening, as Adora lay in her well-appointed four poster bed, set high upon a dais, she was deep in thought. Staring up, her mind wanders as she stars at her blue velvet curtains draped with golden ropes holding them open. Yet when closed, the velvet curtains keep the warmth in her huge mahogany bed. she sat up abruptly with a tingling on the back of her neck, knowing that something terribly wrong, was afoot here. Outside her balcony window, she could hear hushed voices. with trepidation, she slowly opens the shutters to peer outside. She notices two small shadows on the balcony beside hers. Celestia and Fionna were arguing in hushed tones. Adora strained to hear snips of their conversation without being seen.

Silently, she crept around the window pane to flatten herself against the freezing charcoal grey stone wall of the castle.

"...if father should happen not to choose me, there will be an "accident", and that will ensure that I will rule".

"what do you mean? You cannot foresee the future Celestia, only Adora can, even though she thinks no one knows"

"Adora is harmless. She is so preoccupied with consorting with the serfs, and anyone else who happens to be in this castle. She does not have the backbone to rule this Kingdom"

"Wont anyone suspect if something should befall father suddenly? Surely that witch Ceyla will catch wind of this". Lamented Fionna.

"Begone Fionna, so that I may finish my preparation". Celestia dismissed her sister then turned a bit to face the moon. Her eyes taking on an evil look of pure greed and malice.

Adora suppresses an involuntary shiver. Perhaps this was the reason she has been experiencing these nightly warnings, vision-nightmares. By all that is Holy, how was she to proceed? If she went to warn her father, he would surely think her up to some trick to waver him in her favor. On the other hand, if she kept silent, her father will fall prey to her sisters' machinations. She knew of one person in which she could confide in and seek council...Ceyla.

An hour later, she was to learn that no one has seen "the old crone" anywhere. Adora spied her conniving sisters huddled together by the roaring hearth at the far end of the candlelit hall, concocting more schemes no doubt. But nonetheless, she hailed them.

"Has my mother supped yet?"

"Aye, she is in her solar with that maidservant of hers, Ceyla" Fionna volunteered distractedly.

"If you will both excuse me, I will seek out my lady mother". Without waiting for a reply, Adora glided out of the hall in a profusion of white muslin.

Later on that evening, while mending one of her father's tunics, Adora was so immersed in her troubled thoughts, she did not noticed how much she frowned, although her mother and Ceyla did.

" You must not fret daughter, the answer to your sire's test lies within you. Unlike you, your sisters are too filled withy their self-worth to be threatened by you, and also to see the simplicity of your father's words, and well he knows it. Be as you are, my beautiful Adora, and you will conquer and succeed over your sisters in this endeavor. Now, enough of this subject, drink this goblet of mead with me, then you must tend to your father."

"Aye, mother, I will" she answered dutifully.

As she left her mother's solar, Adora encounted Ceyla on the landing, holding a candlebra.

"Come with me, my child. For the time comes quickly when you will have to save your father's life. Those two spawns of the devil are at this moment, planning to do away with him, should he choose anyone else other than Celestia to rule the Kingdom while your father is away. I have foreseen the near future, my beauty, as I suspect you have." Ceyla gave Adora a knowing looking, telling her that she is already aware that Adora overheard her two sisters plotting against their father. "For now, your sisters do not suspect you to be any threat to their plans, because of their arrogance or sheer stupidity, whichever comes first with those two twits. But alas, the time draws near. We must hurry!" They both filtered down the stone staircase illuminated by wall sconces.

Everyone, from lowly serf, to the King himself, has gathered into the courtyard to witness the announcement of the new ruler. The flutter of excitement at what was to come, rippled through the throng of people present. The air crackled with electricity at the anticipation, as it mounted to tremendously, even the hounds seated near the King's gold gilded throne, have ceased their barking.

King Wulfgarr of the Northland Kingdoms, raised one of his huge hands, and bade the crowd to silence.

"We are gathered here in this courtyard to bear witness to a great occasion. I have asked my three beautiful daughters to bring forth to me, that for which they believe in their hearts, I would desire. The future Ruler of this great Kingdom shall show her true colors and worth by this test. Step forward, my Royal daughters, and present to me and all that are assembled here before you, what you would like to impart." The King's deep voice boomed then ceased as he and the crowd awaited silently.

Celestia and Fionna moved toward before Adora could take one single step, as was her right as the first born of the Princesses. With a smug look on her face, even Fionna backed away from Celestia somewhat.

"Father, I present onto thee, the sacred bowl once belonging to the Great Merlin himself". Celestia removed the black velvet and silver threaded cover which veiled the golden bowl of Merlin. A smile crossed her icy features as her self pleasure begins to plaster in self satisfaction on her smooth face.

Her smile, however, quickly vanished as her father's booming voice rang out."Celestia, how has this come upon thy possession? It is against all ancient laws to sell or barter for such sacred objects as this one.

Celestia's smug smile slid off her face, to be replaced by a frozen grimace. She backed away from her sire slowly, as if in a trance. "Well I....sent hired soldiers to fetch it for me, 'twas a dangerous task, and it has cost me a ...."

But the King held up his hand to silence her. She slid behind the crowd , her face reddened in embarrassment"....

"Fionna, approach. What have you to offer us?" demanded Wulfgarr, although already none too pleased.

"I have brought forth from the far east, a jewel-encrusted sword, in which was said to be used in the Holy Land. I have paid a handsome price for this treasure, over half my dowry" She boasted proudly, quite unaware of her father's rising anger.

Queen Morganna placed a calming hand on her husband's shoulder, knowing his temper is as fierce as an electric storm. The King, already knowing how his daughter Fionna, normally follows the edict of her older sister, sighs with tried patience. He always knew but never admitted how much his two younger daughters took after their mother Aylayna. Never in his wildest dreams, has he suspected that duplicity and evil would pass on to his daughters from his first wife. Looking briefly at Adora, thinking how the love of her mother has sustained him through these hard times. Remembering the time past, when he found out Morganna was pregnant with Adora while his marriage to Aylayna was new, but already in danger of casting her from his life. Looking at his beautiful daughter Adora, his eyes beseech hers to be far above his two other daughters, in this endeavor so important for this Kingdom's continued safety. Now he must test Adora, looking away briefly to his wife Morganna, she gave him an encouraging smile while tightening her grip on his shoulder slightly before stepping back.

Turning to his daughter Adora, he lifted his chin a notch, looking straight at her and began...

"Adora, my eldest daughter, step forward and present your...." He never had the chance to complete his sentence as Celestia came out of the crowd near her father, brandishing a long silver dirk from the folds of her skirts. She ran like a maddened she-devil, with every intention of slaying her father where he stands. The only reason she missed his heart, was the burden of her heavy skirts, in which she tripped on.

The King fell back with a gasp. The dirk having sliced into his upper chest, just missing his heart, yet deep enough to cut his flesh through bone and muscle tissue. Celestia's eyes snapping silver with the rage of an savage animal gone mad, as her lips curl up evilly.

"Quickly, guards, seize Celestia! she has stabbed the King!" His wife cried out in mixed hurt and anger. Kneeling at his side, Queen Morganna removes the dirk quickly from her husband's upper chest. Her eyes narrowing in anger, a growl emanates from deep within her throat as she gazes at the arrested Celestia. Suddenly a red slash appears on Celestia's flawless face, as Morganna aims her anger towards the little bitch that attacked her beloved Wulfgarr. Morganna watches in satisfaction as Celestria is taken to the dungeons, with her hand holding her bloodied cheek.

The King lay unmoving, but for shallow gasps of air to his starving lungs, the people surrounding him becoming blurred images. Adora, the Queen and Ceyla rushing to his side.

"Adora, places your hands on your sire's chest, close your eyes and heal him with your mind and heart. Call upon all the love and strength you have within you, child."

Adora did as Ceyla bade her, not knowing what good it will do.

all of a sudden, a great white light seemed to be emanating from Adora's fingertips. It grew and grew until it completely surrounded the King's prone body.

Wulfgarr opened his weary eyes to see his eldest daughter and his beloved wife's beautiful face so alike with the love they bestowed upon him. It nearly unmanned him.

What in the name of Valhalla has happened to me?" but as the question was posed, he remembered Celestia running at him like a crazed harpy, and his blood running cold.

"Celestia has tried to assassinate you, your Majesty, but Adora has saved your life with her gift of healing, that no one knew she possessed, but I. Not even Adora was aware of this particular gift."

* * *

As eventide descended, everyone gathered in the great hall to witness the crowning of Princess Adora. Her father has placed in her young hands, the sacred Chalice of Maidens, which only a chosen few may even gaze upon.

"Princess Adora, daughter of the High King of the Northern Kingdoms, I do hereby pronounce you High Queen of Skagerakk! There can be no suitable reward for you, my daughter for the courage you have shown this day. You are more than worthy of this crown than mere words can express. Bards and minstrels will sing you praises for your bravery and devotion for your Kingdom, throughout eternity. I am proud to be your sire, and owe you a debt for saving my life. I love thee, daughter of mine!" King Wulfgarr spoke proudly, yet it took him everything not to take his babygirl into his arms and hold her to him. He loved her so much, the love between Morganna and himself...creating Adora.

Adora stood proudly in her white and gold royal dress, and gazed upon the loving faces of the people she adores; from lowly serfs to her beloved parents...not missing a single visage. Feeling humbled and loved, all at once.

Meanwhile, Ceyla cast her all seeing eyes past the battlements where Celestia and Fionna have made their hasty escape. This may be a day of victory,, but the story has just begun for Adora of Skaggerak. For, another battle is nigh upon them, when Celestia will make a dark pact with the devil, to conquer and attempt to destroy this Noble and Powerful Kingdom....

The End....For now....

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