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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 10 - A Game of Distraction)

Updated: Mar 11

Another meeting had also taken place that afternoon. Somewhere deep in the frightful depths of WONDER, near a small abandoned cottage hidden in the deadwood forest, a darker discussion was at hand. The air was cool and breezy, backlit by the eerie-blue moonlight—shining through the lifeless trees above. A black raven perched atop the cottage’s dilapidated chimney cawed out, then flew down, landing on the edge of the well beside the stoic figure of whom it served.

The Shadow Queen was slender and tall, elevated by black, knee-high boots which fit seamlessly with her purple bodysuit—patterned with black thorn roses. She was stunning, yet very intimidating, all at the same time. Her perfectly toned skin contrasted beautifully with her deep-burgundy lips and piercing green eyes—enhanced even more so by artful strokes of mascara. A flowing black cape with high collar framed her facial features perfectly—her long, black hair, streaked with violet hues, flowed rhythmically in the breeze, atop which sat a gold crown made of twisted thorn bushes. Set in its center was a brilliant red-fire jewel, cut in the shape of a rose.

The evil Queen’s powerful presence was projected through the magic well from which she had reached out to each of her loyal Dark Thorns, demanding an update.

“Tell me, my leaders of darkness, what information have you, regarding the location of the hidden map?”

The unsightly faces of the Dark Thorns were cast as reflections upon the swirling, electric-green waters of the large, cobblestone well, as small, distorted figures of ghostly spirits shot outwards every direction from within its walls.

“We were able to access Alfred Jinx’s mind—as was previously planned, your Majesty,” said Senkrad, Dark Thorn leader of Epcot.

“Ah yes, Alfred Jinx,” the Queen replied. “He is the grumpy little fellow. One of the Patron Council heads, I believe?”

“That is correct,” said Senkrad.

“Was it a success?” she said in serious tone. “I ask only because of your Mischief Island failure last year. You remember, I’m sure? When Frank Wellington and the chosen outsider bested you.” The Queen's piercing, green-eyed stare of disappointment shot through the waters in the well and into those who served her.

“Indeed, it was a success, your Excellency,” Elontra replied—bowing in shame, she clearly remembered last years shortcoming when their attempt, backed by the Thorn army, failed miserably to maintain control of the second Kingdom Crystal and bring it back to their supreme leader.

“And how did you carry out the extraction of information?” asked the Queen.

“With black magic and the use of the Patron’s micro dream particles,” Elontra replied, “we were able to penetrate Jinx’s thoughts and retrieve information regarding access to the Library of Dreams and where to find the hidden map.”

“And…was he aware of your thievery?” asked the Queen, smirking devilishly.

“Our execution was seamless, your Majesty,” said Tanion. “To an elderly gentleman such as Jinx, it most likely was remembered as nothing more than a mildly disturbing dream brought on by a late-night snack.”

“Nothing that should raise any suspicion for someone of his age,” added Kunn.

“Yes, it appears your plan was executed seamlessly,” said the Queen. “However, we must never underestimate our enemies abilities. Even more so, now that the Patrons have the help of that rotten little boy and his pesky brother to assist them in their quest for the five Kingdom Crystals.”

“Those two are quite the nuisance, I have to admit,” said Oltar with a scowled expression of distaste.

“Which is why you are to find a way to make them irrelevant—nothing but a side show, in our attempt to steal the map from the Library of Dreams.”

“A brilliant idea, your Majesty,” replied Senkrad.

“Yes, the Patrons will be expecting us to target the boys as they seek the crystal, but never…never will they suspect the map for the Magic Dream Expander to be our first priority.”

“Again, brilliant, your Majesty,” said Senkrad.

“We are going to play a game of distraction,” said the Queen. “A game that will involve the chosen outsider and his little brother. They will be key in drawing the Patron’s attention away from the library, allowing us to practically walk in, undetected, and steal the map. I have arranged for a meeting tonight with a dear friend of ours, Madame Sera. She speaks of someone who…may be able to lend a dreadful hand with the execution of our plan.”

All five Dark Thorns donned a devilish grin—waiting for their Queen to further explain her strategy of diabolical distraction.

“By the time the Patrons realize we have stolen the map, it will be too late.”

“And the Object of Magic? The Lion Crest Ring the chosen outsider has in his possession, your Majesty?” said Elontra. “Won’t we need it to find the third Kingdom Crystal?”

“Gaining control of the map and ring in one swift attack would be delightful,” the Queen replied with a sinister grin, pondering the thought of it. “You make a very good point, Elontra.”

“Thank you, your Excellency,” Elontra replied, bowing again in respect.

“If the opportunity presents itself, by all means, seize the ring.” said the Queen. “But bear in mind, the orange crystal we seek was created using the powers of dark, Halloween magic. It shares a special bond with us, and sometimes, even calls to us—allowing anyone here at this moment to hone in on its location. You just need to listen carefully. If by chance the Patron’s find the third crystal before us, they will have a difficult time suppressing its need to be found by those who are rightfully bonded to its jaded side.”

“This knowledge will prove to be very useful. Thank you, your Majesty,” said Senkrad.

“The dark power of the crystal will make it even easier to track the chosen outsider and his brother if they find it before we do,” added Oltar. “It’s almost unfair. Poor little fools.”

“The map, a crystal, and the Magic Dream Expander, all in one swift taking?” said Tanion with an unsightly grin. “And a magic ring to boot. That does sound promising.”

“And let’s not forget the children, Tanion. Using them as a distraction is key to unlocking this entire masterpiece,” the Queen added.

“Understood, your Excellency,” Kunn replied.

“Which reminds me,” said the Queen, pausing as a sudden gust of wind blew by. “In regards to the crystal and those pesky boys. When we are done here, I want you to arrange and have them followed closely. Keep a watchful eye on their whereabouts. Use your spies, or whomever, it does not matter. With this being their first day back in Disney World to visit, I highly suspect that Frank Wellington and his blithering ban of Patrons will be gearing up to begin their search for the third crystal.”

“Yes, my Queen,” the Dark Thorns replied in unison—all bowing to show respect for their leader.

“As for the distraction,” said the Queen, “once I have met with Madame Sera this evening, I will reach out to discuss our plans in further detail. Be ready to take action. Timing, will be of the utmost importance.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Elontra replied.

“Very well, then,” she replied. With an effortless swipe of her hand, the spiraling waters in the well went still and the images of the Dark Thorns vanished. The supreme ruler turned away from the magic, cobblestone structure, then said, “Come, my friend, I need to rest before the meeting. Much has yet to be done. The beautiful Queen, in gracious fashion, walked into the cottage—her cape, weightlessly flowing from behind, as she faded into shadow. The cawing raven took off from the well’s ledge—shooting up into the eerie, night sky, it circled the moonlit cottage, checking for intruders, before swooping down through the open window, where it would stand guard until the Queen awoke.

© 2024 Charles E. Zitta. Charles E. Zitta and Disney and the Wonder Within blog novels are in no way part of,  endorsed or authorized by, or affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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