Chapter One: In Which Babies Are Born (Don’t You Love Those Sort Of Chapters?)
There was a month before the winter solstice, a time where the whole Silver Snake Kingdom was in chaos. Everyone tried to decipher the sock puppet’s mysterious omen. What did it mean when it said one would try? Try what? And how would one be already dead? Everyone had different theories, but everyone agreed on one thing- the prophecy was bad news. Hopefully it wasn’t as bad as the last prophecy, about the Ice and Fire War.
The sock puppet’s prophecy came true. On the winter solstice, Eirlys, the chief’s wife, bore a baby boy. It was cute, with a serious expression that looked adorable on pudgy baby faces. His eyes were wide open, taking in everything. He was immediately placed in a cradle with the finest linen.
“What will you name it?” Chief Frost asked Eirlys.
She smiled. “I want to wait for the next one before deciding,” she answered mysteriously.
The next baby was a baby girl, and it was the most adorable thing everyone had seen. With big blue eyes and the sweetest little smile, everyone doted on her from the first second.
“I know the names now,” Eirlys said. “The girl will be Snow, and the boy will be named Flake.”
The chief furrowed his brow. “Um. Don’t you think Flake is a bit odd of a name?”
“Well, it matches!” said Eirlys. “Snow and Flake! Snowflake! Since they are born on the same day, they should have matching names.”
“But won’t the next baby feel left out?” he asked.
Eirlys looked at loss for words. She hesitated for a moment, a bit confused. “I think,” she said softly, “that there isn’t going to be a next one.”
It was true: the doctor later confirmed it. There weren’t three babies, as the sock puppet predicted, only two. The common belief about this turn of events was that the missing baby was the one described ‘already dead’ in the prophecy. And so it was determined: one of the twins would try ( whatever that meant) and one of them would die.
But they were wrong. That triplet was alive, somewhere. But no one knew that at that time except one person: Flake. He even knew where and why and how, far beyond the concepts a newborn baby could understand. And being just a baby, not being able to speak, and not knowing that his knowledge was important, he didn’t attempt to tell anyone. And just like other newborn baby memories, the secret got forgotten, lost in the place where memories go.
Chapter Two: In Which The Twins And The Fractured Flame Kingdom Are Described
The prophecy loomed over the twin’s life like a dark shadow. People would look at them with sad, sympathetic eyes and offer them free treats. Some people tried to look positively. “Come on! Everyone dies. It is simply telling you something you already know,” said the trader. But everyone knew that death in a prophecy meant a gruesome death under bad circumstances.
One time, when the twins were one and a half, a silver snake had slithered into Snow’s crib, ironically, the kingdom’s patron animal. She started crying, and Flake, who had been on the crib across from her, also started to cry, causing quite a ruckus. The chief and his wife, along with nearly all the local villagers who had heard it, came rushing to the nursery. The snake was just about to strike when one of the villagers snatched it up and laid it on the ground. After that incident, the twins got placed in a high security bedroom, with guards changing at regular intervals and magic alarms placed on the perimeter.
Another incident happened when they were seven. Snow and Flake were walking to school, when suddenly, a snow leopard, rare in those parts, came up in front of them and blocked their path. It advanced toward Snow, making weird gurgling noises in its throat. Snow screamed, and Flake shielded her and flung his backpack at the leopard. It growled, and Flake yelped, then jumped back. One of their classmates was walking on the path too, and saw the leopard. She fainted, but Flake got her backpack and threw it at the leopard. Apparently there was meat in it, since the leopard starting chewing it, long enough for the school faculty to come and subdue it.
Everyone loved the twins, and didn’t want either to die, but with all these incidents, that was unlikely. The favorite of the two was Snow, who, with her pretty look, cheerful smile, and oddly optimistic disposition, was a favorite. Flake was the paranoid one, who assumed that at any moment, someone would jump from the shadows and murder his sister. He followed Snow everywhere, like a personal bodyguard. Flake didn’t say it outright, but he thought that Snow would be the one to die. After all, the snake slithered into her crib and the leopard was targeting her. He would rather it be him, but he couldn’t change fate. Nevertheless, he put his best efforts into making sure that it never happened.
Over time, the twins grew older. The threat of the prophecy lessened, and everyone became less wary -and less protective- of the twins. The chief payed attention to more pressing matters, like the threat of the Fractured Flame Kingdom to the south.
The Fractured Flame Kingdom were long enemies of the Silver Snake Kingdom. They lived in a caldera of a volcano five miles from the Frigid Glacier, but that didn’t stop them from interfering with the Snake Kingdom’s ordeals every time the Kingdom Conference came around. Centuries ago, the sock puppet had predicted a war between the two rival kingdoms. Now, after the battling was long over, both sides had never really gotten over their hatred of each other. It was a pattern of insults traded, promises made, truce reinstated, promises broken, and fighting. None of it was official, technically they were not exactly in a war. But suffice to say, Flame kingdom was constantly causing problems that needed to be attending to.
Around Snow and Flake’s time, when they were twelve, the problem was that the Flame Kingdom wanted money. Lots of money. In order to ‘demonstrate their alliance and strengthen the bond between the kingdoms’ as Chief Phoenix said it. But everyone knew it was to test Chief Frost, and find out how willing he was to give into Flame Kingdom. Last Conference, Frost had declined the request. “Very well,” said Chief Phoenix, with carefully controlled anger. And he was yet to say anything else.
Chief Frost got ready to travel to the Great Sycamore to attend the monthly Conference in Dee’s Cember. He went over all the possible scenarios that could happen with Chief Phoenix. Most of them were bad. Frost readied his replies, but he had a feeling that Flame Kingdom had something up their sleeve, something he wouldn’t be prepared for. After all, it was the fighting part in the pattern now.
He sighed, then sat on his bed to meditate. He was just entering a state of peace when he heard knocking on the door to his room. The chief’s eyes flew open and he walked over to the door and opened it.
“Dad! I have a request for you,” said Snow, grinning. Flake, of course, was by her side, looking at his dad with a state of indifference, like he didn’t have any part in Snow’s request.
“Can we go to the Conference?” Snow asked, with big doe eyes and hands pressed together.
“No,” Chief Frost said on instinct.
“Please? We haven’t gone in ages! Well, in fact, we’ve never gone. So can we?” She looked at the chief pleadingly.
“The Fractured Flame Kingdom leaders will be there! No one is more dangerous to you! You had never been so far from the kingdom, and who knows what sort of incidents might happen!” he said. “You are not going.”
Snow took a deep breath, then looked determinedly at her father, all traces of the pleading doe eyes gone. “We won’t be in any danger. The Flame Kingdom won’t dare to attack us, especially at a place as sacred as the Great Sycamore. Besides, many of our allies in the Kingdoms will be at the Conference too, more than enough to protect us. It’ll be good for us to see at least one Conference at a young age, especially since we’d have to go when we’re older. And Flake is going to be Chief one day, so he should definitely have the experience!” She nudged Flake, but he didn’t reply.
The chief thought about it. Really, no harm could be done to them at the Conference, even though Flame Kingdom was there, as Snow said. And it would be good for the twins to prepare themselves to act presentable around the other chiefs. Then again, Frost knew that they had a hard time acting presentable, and it would be horrible if they caused a ruckus.
“What about Flake? Do you want to come?” he asked Flake. He shrugged indifferently.
“If Snow’s going, I’m going,” he said.
The chief sighed. He knew he couldn’t win this one. Snow was very tenacious when she felt strongly about something, and this was one of her times. He didn't want to think about what would happen if he refused. Would she sneak there somehow?
“Very well, children, but make sure to always follow my instructions. NEVER attempt to do anything that is remotely dangerous, and this includes having anything to do with Flame Clan. If they insult you, don’t insult back. Did I make that clear?”
Snow nodded enthusiastically while Flake gave a partial nod. Silently, Flake wondered whether it would really be good for Snow to go. However, looking at how happy Snow looked about going, he just decided to let her have her day, for once. If he really knew about what was going to happen at the Conference, he probably wouldn’t do that.