Chapter Six: In Which Everyone Erupts In Speech
At the end of the scream, everyone starting talking at once. No- not talking, but shouting, screaming, pounding of fists too. And Snow just sat on the grass shaking.
Flake frowned. He still didn’t quite understand was Phoenix had said. “He- he said he wanted a marriage alliance. That- that doesn’t mean you. Right?” Snow buried her face in her hands. “Don’t worry. Dad would never agree to that. You’ll be fine.” Flake wasn’t even sure he believed his own words.
“Gosh. I guess they don’t have any other use for you than to marry you off to your rival kingdom, huh?” Windy said. Flake glared at her.
“Silence! Silence!” shouted Chief Oak. He nodded to Chief Phoenix. “Your time is up. Who wants to follow?”
“I will,” Chief Frost said. He got up to the stage. Flake silently wished him luck. Everyone else seemed a little nervous about Frost’s response.
“I want to let the Flame Kingdom know that we will not accept your request!” Chief Frost boomed.
“So? Since you refused the money request, then I thought I’d offer something more reasonable,” Chief Phoenix said. “Considering she’s going to die anyways.”
Snow sucked in a breath. Flake clenched his fist. The crowd muttered.
“Reasonable? You are looking for offers you know I won’t accept so you have an excuse to fight us! Everyone knows that!” Chief Frost shouted. The crowd started talking, shouting, protesting. It became so chaotic that even Chief Oak was ignored when he called for order.
“This is completely preposterous!” exclaimed Advisor North.
“No, it’s a great offer! Chief Phoenix is offering you a splendid deal! Believe me, it’s better than a war, which is your other option,” said Advisor Blaze, smirking.
“Why are you Flame Kingdom people always looking for a fight? Why can’t we have peace for once?” protested Chief Ripple.
“Exactly! Peace!” Old Maple of the Council of the Tree said. “Peace through a marriage alliance. I don’t get why that’s so bad, we used to have those all the time back in my day. At least it isn’t something worse! Younglings are so spoiled.”
“Spoiled?! We’re going to DIE if Flame Kingdom gets their way!” Advisor Colden screamed.
In the midst of the storm, Flake was dragging Snow away from the raging crowd to the edge of the clearing. “Too dangerous,” he said. “You don’t know when people would start throwing things and one might hit you.” Snow looked fearfully behind her.
“Why? Why would a marriage alliance help the Flame Kingdom? Why do they hate us? Why me?” Snow asked when they got to safe ground in the forest.
“Many reasons. For all questions,” Flake sighed. “If there is a marriage alliance -which there won’t be- Flame Kingdom will have rights to visit the Snake Kingdom at any given time. Also, they’ll have you in their clutches. A valuable bargain. You’re the beloved child of the chief. If they need Dad to do something, they might use you.” Snow bit her lip. “Again, Dad knows this. Of course he won’t give in,” Flake reassured.
“Chief Phoenix knows that Dad won’t give in, and he probably has some comeback ready, Flake! I feel like that we are playing into his hands, no matter what! Doom is inevitable!” Snow exclaimed. Flake could tell she was really angry. “Flame Kingdom is going to use us like puppets! They’re going to take over our territory and kill us all!”
“Snow you’re overreacting-” Flake started to say, but Snow kept on ranting. “Maybe you should give me up. I am going to die, after all,” Snow said. She stomped off. “It’s my duty as a useless daughter of a chief.” Flake ran after her.
Chapter Seven: In Which A Tragic Incident Occurs
Once the Council of the Tree could calm everyone down, the meeting time was already over. Flake managed to bring Snow back to the clearing, where they, Chief Frost, and the advisors went back to the Silver Snake Kingdom. Colden spent the whole ride exclaiming about how horrible Chief Phoenix was, and everyone else sat in silence.
The days afterwards had not been good either. Flake had been having that same dream over and over again, he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Snow was often secluded in her room, not letting even Flake enter. The chief was also holed up in his private quarters, writing letters and dealing with political matters. Even the weather was a bit gloomy.
Dee’s Cember the 21 was that year’s winter solstice, which was the twin’s birthday. Flake figured it was probably not going to be a very festive event, considering all the Conference things happening less than a week before. Nevertheless, he tried to forget about the events of the recent days before he went to sleep the day before his birthday.
There was another dream, as Flake expected. But it wasn’t the same as the one he’d been having over and over. This one was more clear, instead of a jumble of unrelated images. He was in some sort of temple, with grand glowing snow orbs hanging from the top and gold lacquered paintings of people from the ancient times. Flake could see a great glass staircase behind him, as well as giant pillars with interesting carvings of runes on them. What most caught his attention though, was an old man sitting cross-legged on a glass table that looked like it might fall under his weight. The old man was closing his eyes and humming softly to himself.
“Um, hello?” Flake said. The old man’s eyes flew open. Flake was startled to see that they were a milky white, with no pupils.
“What?” the old man said. “Already? I never thought this day would come…” He ran his fingers through his long beard in an agitated way.
“Excuse me?” Flake asked. He had a feeling that the old man knew something important, something he had to know. "Are you going to tell me some-"
“Palantine? Palantine, what have you done? Oh no, it’s too late m’boy, too late,” the man said hoarsely. He stared directly at Flake. “Too late. She’s gone. He’s gone. They’re all gone.”
“Who’s gone?” Flake shouted. “Who?”
“One will try, one will die, one is already dead. That’s how it is. You can’t change it. I can’t change it. Best you wake up now,” the old man said, then threw a bunch of glitter in the air. Flake could feel himself fading away from the dream.
“Wait!” Flake exclaimed. “You didn’t answer my question! Hello?” He could hear the old man’s voice, like an echo: ‘You will know everything in due time.’ “But- but-” he said, but the dream was long gone.
He woke up, breathing heavily. What had just happened? He’d been at a temple, with a weird old man saying random stuff about Palantine and people being missing. Did it mean anything? Flake didn’t know.
Suddenly, he remembered. His birthday. Snow’s birthday. Normally, Snow would have been wide awake an hour ago, shaking Flake awake. But she wasn’t, probably in her room. Flake stared at the door, half expecting someone to knock on it. He sighed and got up.
Flake checked under his bed to see whether the birthday present he had got for Snow was still there. It was, and he picked it up gingerly, then went out of the room. The guards were stationed at his front door, as always.
“Did Snow leave a present?” He asked them they shook their heads. Flake sighed. Snow would always leave his presents right outside the door way before he was awake. Flake was hoping he could do the same thing for her, now that it was her cooped up in her room.
Flake headed to her room and stopped in front of the guards stationed beside the door. “Has Snow left the room?” he asked them. They shook their heads. Flake frowned. It was most uncharacteristic of her to sleep late.
Flake put the present down and knocked on the door. No reply. He knocked on it again. Nothing happened. Flake couldn’t hear a thing as he pressed his ear against the door. Strange. He hoped Snow wasn’t giving him the cold shoulder.
Then, something popped into his mind. What had the old man said? She’s gone. Could that mean…? His breath quickened, and he tried opening the door. It was locked.
“Hey, do you have the keys to the door?” Flake asked the guards.
“Yes, but we are not to interrupt Miss Snow’s sleep,” one of the guards said.
“Please. It’s urgent. More urgent than Snow’s beauty sleep. Maybe life or death situation. Just this once?” Flake pleaded. The guard sighed and turned the key.
Flake ran in the room to the side of Snow’s bed. Snow was sleeping normally, her hair messed up and her breathing soft. Flake sighed in relief. Of course she was still there. He was just getting paranoid. As he turned to leave the room, he heard a slight whoosh sound. Flake turned around. Snow, even though she’d been sleeping on the bed just moments before, wasn’t there.