This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form. It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world. All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.)
Throughout the history of the world, countless stories had been shared of wishes made on stars and how those wishes were granted in a miraculous moment, forever changing the life of the wisher. After a time, many started to believe that the stars held the secrets to life’s greatest mysteries. And therein lied the birth of the Church of Stars. Merlin, who had traveled through time to the exact moment when the idea had first been proposed, had thought that it would never last. Yet there in front of him stood the grandest church in the entire religion, right in the center of the Kingdom, almost as mighty as the palace itself.
“This is a bad idea,” said Archimedes as both he and Merlin looked up at the church, preparing to enter the large doors, which were covered in beautiful paintings of stars and galaxies spread across the night sky.
“For once,” said Merlin, “I whole-heartedly agree. Wizards are not looked highly upon by the church.”
“Then we shall hope you don’t set on fire upon entering,” quipped the owl.
“Yes, we shall hope.”
They headed for the door and pushed it open. It was heavier than Merlin had expected, and had he not been stepping into a holy place, he might have used magic on it. Yet, somehow that didn’t seem like a good first impression to be making.
Inside, candles lit the large congregational seating pews which stretched out to the left and right from a long central aisle. The aisle led up to the elevated pulpit, where several more candles lit up a large stained-glass depiction of an upwards shooting star. In front of it, a small stand held a pointed blue hat, which had stars and moons embroidered upon it.
“Ironic,” said Merlin. “A church which hates wizards prays to a wizard’s hat.”
“To be fair, it wasn’t always his,” said Archimedes.
“Fair point,” said Merlin.
All around the front of the church were several Star Maidens, female ducks dressed all in white who were tending to the candles and the large pools of water which sat on either side of the church. Merlin took a heavy step forward and continued up the aisle. One by one, the Star Maidens looked up at him than disappeared into small wooden doorways which led to the back of the church. Before long, they had all disappeared. From the left-most door, a duck wearing finely embroidered red and gold robes and a hood emerged and silently went up the stairs to the pulpit. He went to a large golden staff with a twisting adornment at the top; a sun and moon converging on one another. He pulled a cloth from his pocket and began to clean the staff, wiping off any impurities.
Merlin simply stared at the duck in wonder. “We come to the Church of Stars of our own free will. How do the cosmos welcome us?” He knew the words from years passed, even if he had never practiced the religion itself.
The duck stopped and took a long breath. “The Cosmos are good. The Cosmos are gracious. The Cosmos welcome you with open arms.” He took another breath and then looked up, allowing the hood to fall away. Though he had aged, Merlin recognized the duck which had been at the King’s right hand for years. Donald glowered at them. “But I do not.”
“We seek only information, nothing more,” said Merlin, hoping this would ease the duck’s mood.
“You come into my home uninvited,” said Donald. “You come here with your magic, which leads only to death and pain. You come here unwanted.”
“We come here because we believe the King is alive,” said Merlin. Donald’s expression filled with surprise. “And we think you can help us find him.”
“I watched the King die,” said Donald. “It happened right here, right where you stand.” Donald put a finger to his temple. “I watched the very air open up and gobble him up and then he was just…gone. The King is dead.”
“The forces of the world tell me otherwise. That and a little cricket called Jiminy has seen him.” Merlin watched as Donald’s expression shifted again.
“Where?” asked Donald.
Merlin continued to tell Donald of everything that had happened since they’d arrived and how Jiminy had seen a disguised version of the King taking out thugs that were being controlled by Scrooge, Donald’s Uncle. All of this was greatly troubling to Donald.
“My Uncle is a dangerous man,” said Donald. “If Jiminy went after them, he could very well be dead by now…or worse.” Donald looked away. “My Uncle’s heart is filled with greed. Last I saw him, he wanted far more than money. He spoke gibberish. Weapons of Gods. Hearts of the Earth. He’s stopped collecting coins and set his eyes on something far more dangerous; power.”
Merlin thought this over. “Finding the King could be the only way to stop this torment of the poor. You have no allegiance to me or the cricket, but you are tasked with caring for your people.” Merlin held out a hand of friendship. “Help me stop your Uncle. Help me find the King.”
SHWING! An arrow shot past them and just narrowly missed both Donald and Merlin. They turned in the direction it had shot from, surprise on their faces. From the shadows of the far corner of the room, a hooded figure appeared. He wore a black cloak and was slim. Black smoke seemed to roll off of him. He quickly pulled back another arrow onto his charcoal bow.
“Get down!” shouted Donald. They ducked to opposite sides of the aisle, hiding behind the pews. The arrow slammed into the hard wood.
“Come out little ducky and face your destiny,” came a voice from under the hood. It was raspy, yet familiar. Donald lifted his head slightly.
“That voice,” he said. “Horace? Horace Horsecaller? I thought you were dead!”
The figure pulled back the hood to show a large face like a horse. He had small ears and a big white mouth and nose. His eyes were red and he looked wild and vicious. “Good guess, Duck,” he said, knocking back another arrow. He fired, but Donald ducked down again. The arrow whizzed past and planted itself into the stain glass behind them. With a loud shatter, glass exploded and fell towards the floor.
KRACKOOM! Merlin shot off a bolt of lighting at Horace, but the horse lunged out of the way. Horace rolled and then stood once more, throwing his bow to the side and pulling two long swords from his back. Merlin shot another bolt of lightning as Horace jumped and then ran along the wall, his eyes firmly fixed on Donald. He lunged off the wall, pulling back one of the swords, ready to strike.
Merlin was faster than he looked though. He threw up a magical barrier over Donald just in time for Horace to bounce off of it and ricochet towards the pulpit. Merlin ran to the duck and helped him to his feet.
“Hurry,” said Merlin. “We haven’t much time.”
There was a sharp pain and then Merlin fell backwards as one of the swords, thrown by Horace, landed firmly in his shoulder. “Gah!” cried the wizard. He fell to the ground in the center of the aisle.
“Merlin!” screamed Archimedes fluttering over to the old man.
Donald pulled himself the rest of the way to his feet, but instead of going to Merlin, he turned to Horace and glared at the old horse with hatred. “That’s enough,” said Donald. “Get out of my church!”
“Make me, Duck,” spat Horace, waving his sword around in the air as he approached.
Donald reached out a hand and, as if commanded by his will, the large golden staff flew from the pulpit and into Donald’s hand. “I cast you out!” yelled Donald as he spun the staff in the air and then slammed the bottom of it to the ground. There was a burst of light as rays of the sun seemed to attack Horace from all sides.
“AHHHHH!” screamed Horace.
“BE GONE!” yelled Donald, lifting the staff and slamming it down once more. The room exploded with light. The pews were pushed back and several of the glass windows shattered.
Horace fell to the ground and clawed at the floor, rage filling his eyes. “He’s coming,” growled Horace. “He’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The Kingdom’s days are numbered Duck. You will all fall to his mercy and I’ll be there smiling and saying-” His body began to ooze with smoke as if he was being burnt away. “I told you so….” With an explosion of black smoke, Horace disappeared into thin air.
The light sucked itself back into the staff and all was dark once more. Donald ran to Merlin and knelt down beside him, examining the wound. “It’s going to be okay,” said Donald, waving a hand over the wound. A warm light spilled from his hand into the gash. The bleeding began to slow.
“Donald,” said Merlin weakly. “The hat…”
Donald looked up to see that the starry pointed hat was gone from its place at the head of the church, stolen in the chaos of the attack.
Merlin held his old hand up to point to where the hat once had been for as long as he could, before the world swirled around him. His hand dropped to the floor and everything went dark. Somewhere in the distance he could just make out Donald’s words.