In a cavern formed with ice, she paced impatiently. A scowl marked her face, anger flashing in her dark blue eyes. Her pale arms were crossed across the front of her indigo colored gown. "Wart!" she shouted, her shrill voice echoing around the cave. "You abominable imp, where are you? Show yourself!" Her eyes narrowed into a glare as a flash of light filled the room, reflecting from the pillars. She shielded her eyes from the light, hearing a sharp giggle.
As her arms fell an imp appeared in front of her, grinning manically. Why, of all creatures, am I forced with an imp? Why? She asked herself. She had questioned it before, had almost killed the imp once out of frustration- but she knew to kill an imp was to destroy oneself. She wasn't stupid, she knew that. And it was pretty clever, just a bit... off, in the mental facilities.
"Stop giggling! Have you found me a kingdom?" she demanded. Pride flashed in Wart's eyes, so the Snow Queen knew he had succeeded. She was excellent at decoding emotions, after all.
"Yes, your Majesty, I've found a kingdom in a land far to the east." She was right. “A kingdom of snow and ice, just as you requested.” She smiled, for the first time in a while. Maybe this one wouldn’t turn on itself, wouldn’t fall into the depths of which it formed. And hopefully she wouldn’t have to share her throne this time.
She rolled her eyes at the memory of the Mountain King, her “husband” and fellow ruler from the last kingdom Wart had found her. After ruling together for decades she had finally given him his true fate- he was sealed inside a block of ice for eternity. The only downside was that Thornkeep, their village, had succumbed to his final wave of anger... and all that was left was a large crater.
“-It is called Shaenlir,” finished Wart. He focused his ruby eyes on her. “Your Majesty... are you listening to me?”
The Snow Queen straightened her neck and pushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. “Yes, I was. I just got... a bit distracted that is all. Anyway, I will take it as my own.”
“Now that I have helped you, I want the jewels you promised me. May I have them?” She sighed. She had almost forgotten about her silly promise. It was the only way to get him to search after Thornkeep’s downfall, really. She never intended to fulfill it.
“Of course not!” she snapped. “I have other uses for you. Complete them and I may let you live.” Goddess, these things are so thick. And greedy. And...
“I am a poor imp with few powers, what need have you of me?” Quit your whining, will you? I have bigger things to care about than your self-pity.
She almost insulted him, almost warned him to stop. But another fact echoes in her head- imps were vain. They didn’t like to be insulted. And she knows, with a bit of luck, the imp before her could easily drain her life with one blow. Wart didn’t know that, of course- but he could.
“You have the magic of trickery.” Like I don’t. “It’s not enough to rule the world, but I can use it to make one kingdom bow at my feet.” It wasn’t, she knew that. But the imp believed her- at first. Then rage filled his eyes.
“This wasn’t in our bargain! Give me my reward!”
“Patience, Wart. I’ve waited years for this. Not long ahead will you receive your reward,” she said, as if she were talking to a young child. Which Wart was, for an imp.
“No! I’ve helped you more than you can count! I’m sick of this. ” So she cracked.
“Fine, take your silly reward!” she yelled. Gripping the snow flower she had received from the Mountain King- an object that helped channel her magic- she cast a simple anamorphous spell, changing Wart into a human.
Right away he jumped back, and then looked around at everything, most likely surprised at seeing things with his dull human senses. “What have you done to me?” he asked with more venom than she had ever heard him use. “I’m... human!!!” She grinned.
“No, you are not just any human, Wart- you are my new Master of Arms.” She almost laughed at Wart's expression- a mix of confusion and rage. 'You will stay close to me and allow me to use your magic to control the kingdom of Shaenlir." She saw the rage in his eyes; saw the temptation to do something horrible. "Oh, and Wart... if you kill me, you will never regain your true form. Be a good servant and I may, eventually, let you go." How wonderfully her little breakdown went- the imp was now forced to stay with her.
"Nooooo!!!" he shouted, his cries echoing around the room and making an unbearable noise.
And then, ten years later she stood in the same room, waiting as she had before. She had been ruling Shaenlir for ten years. And at first she had been satisfied. But...It wasn't enough, she knew that. One kingdom wasn't enough for her. She wanted them all.
It wouldn't work. The thought had only recently crossed her mind. What chance did an old mage and an imp have of reaching such a feat? None. A great though had come to her one day.
She could steal power from another. How easy it would be, how simple- she had done harder things. All it would take was a flick of her wrist, and willingness, of course.
So she sent Wart out, again, to find a powerful magic wielder who hadn't yet come into their powers. It was an ability he had only recently discovered. It was very reliable, though- Shaenlir children would line up for hours just to see if they had any magic. Wart hated it, but the Snow Queen often laughed at it. How pathetic they could be- making such a big deal out of magical talents.
She was broken from her thoughts by a bright light- Wart was back. "What news have you?" she asked in a calm, even voice. The imp's emotions were much harder to read in this new form, though she couldn't really complain. And she had figured out from the beginning he would find at least one person- there were many magic users in the world- there had to be at least one that was willing to forget their past life.
"I discovered an elf girl of great magical potential," he answered stiffly. There was no emotion is his voice- there never was anymore.
"Has she come into her powers yet?" She knew the answer would be no, as Wart wasn't stupid. He knew the wielder had to still be powerless. But she asked anyway, to make sure he wasn't fooling her.
"No, your Majesty. She does not know she can use magic yet." This would have been the point, years ago, when Wart would have asked for his reward. But he knew now he would never get it, that he was bound to her forever with no escape.
"Good. She will make an excellent sacrifice."
"Now that you have what you want... will you turn me back into an imp? Will you... let me go?" She could hear pain in his voice, she could hear longing. Because creatures never did well in different forms. And he knew that her answer would be no before he even said it- she could tell.
"No Wart, your part in this has just begun."