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“Sander, my friend, would you happen to know the time?”

The high equinox fumbled for his pocket watch “Just ‘bout midnight, m’lord”

“Excellent.” Spring turned toward me “Shall we darling?”

I nodded. He looked at me for a moment, peering through his mask. “You look just like your mother.”

“Fortunately” I quipped back “Imagine if I took after you.”

“Hey now! Your brothers look just like me, and Lecana wishes she did!”

I laughed “Come on now, you old goat, you’ve got a crown to take.

He pushed open the doors, hooves clacking against the ground as we walked into the throne room, my father in front, myself and Sander just behind, and the remainder of his retinue trailing behind us. On the throne sat Winter, this time wearing the shape of a large man, clothed head to toe in black, contrasting against the gleaming white porcelain of his skeletal mask.

“Honey, I’m Home!” my father called out, always trying for a laugh.

Winter, never much one for words, stood, and walked towards my father. No one was expecting what happened next. Nine hundred and ninety nine times my father had sat the throne, and nine hundred and ninety nine times it was ceded without incident by Winter. Both beings knew that it was just the nature of things, that winter inevitably fades to spring. That is why everyone was shocked when Winter’s simple stone knife appeared in his hand, and he slashed towards my father.

I tried to call out, but was too stunned to form words. Fortunately my father saw the swing coming, and managed to leap out of the way. I could tell he was as shocked as we were. Never in four thousand years had Winter and Spring danced for the throne.

“What is this?” He asked disbelieving, his matching knife already in-hand.

They can only defeat you” Winter barked in it’s impossibly deep voice. “And that must not come to pass” It slashed again, this time his blade was met by my father’s, which deftly parried it.

“What are you talking about? You know how this works, same as always. This is the part where you go to sleep and I sit on the chair for a while” Each of their strikes were growing faster, becoming a blur of sharpened stone

No” Just a single word, but it was more than enough to drop the temperature of the room to freezing. I could barely keep up with duel, each combatant moving faster than I knew possible. Eventually the chaos froze, and everyone was able to discern what had happened. My father had managed to get behind Winter, and plunged his knife into its back. The black body slumped to the ground, letting out a last defeated sigh.

No one quite seemed to know what to do next, all eyes stuck on my father, who was breathing heavily. Eventually he turned to Winter’s high solstice, who was still standing wide eyed next to the throne.

“Well? What the hell was that?”

The bony man stammered “I-I-I h-have no id-idea. It gave no indication that it would do this, in all my life I’ve never seen it act like that.”

“In all my life I’ve never seen it act like that, and I’ve known it a hell of a lot longer than you” My father looked down at the corpse, watching its thick black blood pool on the floor. The throne room was quiet once more for what seemed like eternity, before Sander spoke up to break the silence.

“What should we do with the, uh, with the body, m’lord?”

My father was at a loss “I… don’t know. I’ve never done this part before.” He turned back to the solstice. “Where does it usually go after this part?”

“Perhaps the residence, your grace?”

My father nodded “Yes, of course” He gestured to a few of his men behind us “You, deal with this” he stepped back and collapsed onto the throne. I rushed up to him.

“Are you alright? Are you hurt? Are-”

“Enough fuss, Preverna, I’m fine. Just…shaken, is all.”

“Why would Winter have done that?” I asked.

“I haven’t any idea, child, but something is very wrong, and I sense this is only the beginning.”

And indeed it was.

-Excerpt from Mónos’s 'Life Of The Seasons'.

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