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Cassandra stared into hermilky tea and realisedwith aching certainty

that this had to end. It had to stop.


had to be stopped.

‘I mean, look at how much better off we’d be, the


would be!’

She’d always known about her sister’s ideals, her whole life she’d

believed this... wanted this...


with all her heart –

Cassandra realised now, but back then had paid little heed. She’d just

had to keep an eye on her baby sister to ensure it never got out of

hand, that those visions of hers never became a reality. That way,

they’d both be safe. It was no longer simply her safety that she was

concerned about. She took a sip of the tea.

‘We’re going to save everyone! We will be free of all this bloodshed!

Isn’t that what you want?’

There was a part of her that had always feared this day. The

lukewarm liquid trickled down her throat attempting to fill the void

inside her to no avail. Bright explosions lit up the sky like stars,

littering the city below her. From here, the screams of her people

were nothing more than wisps of the wind but that didn’t change

the hollow pain she felt with each cry for help. It was true that

Cassandra wanted nothing more than to see the end of this violence.

She’d spent her life watching her people die, innocent people whose

lives didn’t need to be cut short by this desperate conflict. But this,

what she was proposing, wasn’t a solution. It was barely even humane.

‘I’m building a brighter future, don’t you see Cass?’

Her sister’s words, that smile laced with excitement, those wide

eyes; it all reverberated in her skull, crashing around noisily in the

now silent night. How could she think this was the answer? With

shaking hands she set down her tea. Another explosion bathed the

room in neon green, twisting the shadows into horrific malformed

spirits. They grasped outward at Cassandra, their knife like claws

clinging to her gown and lunging at her golden circlet, as if begging

her to prevent any more from joining their haunted ranks. They

knew she was the only one who could.

Beckoned by their call, she walked over to the symbol of her rule

over this blood-soaked nation as the Sovereign, examining it in the

fading light. It swirled in a perfect smooth arc, a ribbon crystalized

around her vermillion hair, adorned with gems that burst into

bloom with all the radiance of spring, each one a gift in the

unification of their land – the day when nine kingdoms became one.

Once, this beautiful artefact was a symbol of all-encompassing


Charlotte Armstrong