I DO NOT HAVE AN EDITOR–There will be errors
jardee- a curved sword, similar to a scimitar
Nysurria- King, Warlord
strilla- a girlish dress with frills and bows
The swift majesty of the jardee blade reminded me of a fine tune–like the one Roggae would sing to me on the way back from the training yards. Sometimes he hummed songs form the country he was born in.
Sometimes he refused to talk about that same country that also forsaked him.
Across the Besert Desert, lie the prosperous country of Mycea.
A country of wealth and greed, of deceit and intolerance, the immense desert was the only bridge between the countries but it was not the only element that kept the two powerhouse countries from warring. Prejudice and arrogance kept the Myceans from attacking their borders–again. In the past, the Four Kingdoms have warred with one another but it had always been the Rhageons that prevailed. The Myceans labeled us savages but they fear us. They fear our “backward ways”, our culture, our language, and the desert-born strength that propels us to victory. We are sand. We are fire. If we can survive the ruthlessness of the deserts, we can survive anything.
Roggae was not the best of singers but he was an exert swordsman–even to Rhageon standards. Muwwe said it did not take long for the former Mycean lord to master the jardee. There had been pride in her eyes when she told me this–and love–as she looked upon her husband practicing with another soldier. Unlike a typical sword, the jardee is curved like a hook. When I had asked my Roggae why it was shaped that it way, he had looked down at me with old eyes in his young face. Placing his hand on the top of my head and ruffling the hair the refuses to stay down it its braids, the exiled Mycean lord said calmly, “It makes it easier to cut off a man’s head, son.”
He was right. But he never told me how the rush of battle and the chaos, was almost beautiful in its dreadfulness. The crescendo was the electrifying moment as the blade meets flesh; the denouement the spray of blood that decorated my face like war paint. Was it not like art? It may be grotesque to some but to another, it may be a masterpiece.
(Ghyria, The Outskirts)
Before me, the sun cracked through the horizon like a runny egg when I heard the raven’s first call.
Landing on one of the branches of the sole Palo Verdo tree, the raven ruffled its feathers as it waited. I could feel its ancient eyes weighing heavy on me.
“Not today,” I said to the yellow leaves. Lying on my back, the sand cool from the tree’s shadow, I almost found absolute peace before the messenger’s arrival.
I watched as the yellow sun leaked through the morning sky. The bruised dove gray, nothing more than a fading reminder of the night before, was soon to be swallowed up entirely by the mighty sun.
The sun in Rhageon burned like no other, I mused as I reached upwards.
Moments like this, it was like I was the only person alive. The beginning of the day–dawn–was like no other to me. Maybe in another life, I would be a painter. I would have woken in the middle of the night to prepare my paint and canvas in anticipation of my muse. And in this exact location, shaded by the yellow leaves of the Palo Verde tree, I would have been the sole audience of the morning sun as I painted.
But this was not another life and I could never live the life of a painter. Such luxuries could not be attained for those who must put duty before oneself.
Rising, reluctantly, I shook the sand out of my bone white hair and looked down at my knuckles. There should have been scars on my hands. Long ones. Deep to the bone. Ugly little nicks from when I was small and still learning how to properly hold a broadsword. But, there were none. And there will never be any scars on my body. I was unsure if I can even be killed with a mortal blade.
The sand brushed away the noise as I stood up. For a moment, there had been the sound of my leather sandals creaking, the long braids in my hair grazing my bare chest, but the sand took it away. And now, it was quiet again.
The hush in the air is what I desired the most. Before the city of Ghyria, my city, awakens, it was my time to be my true self before I must be Nysurria–Warlord, King and Chosen, and before my power overwhelms to the point of madness.
The dawn truly was pretty but is not the sole reason why I trekked out in the middle of the Outskirts to marvel at. I could easily do so from my balcony, which oversaw the entire city. I am not even an early-riser, which even I must find those people odd and ridiculous. Those types of wicked people must be more goddess-blessed then me to be able to ride before the cock’s call with a healthy spring in their step.
The earth never sleeps but the people who make it their home, do. Miles away from the borders of the yawning city, the groaning creaks and scratchy moans of its waking occupants, this is where I can find momentary reprieve.
It was not my duties that spur me away from my home, no, I would never abandon my crown or my people, but I would go absolutely mad if I do not get away from every rustling sheet, slumbering sigh, every shuffle, laugh, cough, the cracking of bones; I am witness to it all.
I was alone in my role as spectator of all of humanity’s daily strife’s. Many call me blessed. Powerful. Special. More than human. I am indeed all of these things and more. But I am still me. Torien.
Looking anywhere other than at the raven, I regard the desert before me as it clings to its last traces of green. The mountains with rippling formations echo a moment in time before the first fall of mortal kind. The gods had created the world and had built it for their enjoyment. Their curiosity. Their hunger to create instead of destroy. This lonely planet had been their canvas and the mountains, the trees, the blue sky, was their paint.
The desert before me has seen many ancient cities fall. Burying the dead in its embrace, the desert knows and has witnessed all. Gritty sand sifts as a kick of gust whips through. Spying a stubborn string of shrubbery littered, there is nothing that stands out other than him and the Palo Verde tree, which has become his recently favorite brooding spot. But under this tree, I was able to center my focus as I drowned out the unrelenting waves of senses.
It was bad enough that I must block out the noise of humanity but it was also the earth itself and its elements that plague me. Nature does not buzz in my ear: it bellows. The ocean is kind; it licks at my feet and brushes my cheeks with brine from over a hundred miles away. The slumbering volcanoes in Weskesa Volcano Valley itches the back of his throat, the soot staining his teeth and tongue as the dormant volcanoes in Frysessa croon to him.
Is one man capable of possessing all of this power?
The next gust of wind ruffled the raven’s feathers.
I can feel the heat licking up the back of my legs. Anticipation buzzed through me as if I were drunk. A new day was here. A new challenge. A new moon.
Finally addressing the raven, I turned my back towards my city. “I am ready for your message, Kagura, goddess and mother of fauna.”
Bowing, I could only see a burst of white light from my peripheral as the goddess takes her humanoid form.
My head remained bowed until I feel slight fingers lifting up my chin. Even thought I was goddess-blessed and used to be being around the gods, it did not mean I would ever become comfortable in the presence of a god.
To my knowledge, Rhageon was the only country in the four kingdoms that continued to follow the old faiths. We prayed to many gods here but our patron goddess, who we all pray fealty to, was Lyceria.
A moon goddess, she was the creator of the human race and possess powers over Life, Time, and various other magics. But because her true form is the moon, her powers are tied to the moon’s phases. When the moon is full, she was at her most powerful but when there is a new moon, she was at her weakest. And when our goddess suffers, we all suffer. And the other gods take advantage of Lyceria’s weakened state.
The goddess before me is not one of those gods.
Ancient eyes in a prepubescent face, Kagura met my eyes but does not speak. Not that I could understand it. Despite being goddess-blessed, I lacked the ability to speak the language of the gods. Dressed in a simple white strilla–a girlish dress with frills and bows, the goddess and mother of fauna continued to stare at me, almost as if curious. Her touch was cold as she traced my jaw. A raven peaked its heads from the nest of dark curls atop her head. Its red beady eyes watched me as well.
It was unsettling that the goddess chose to appear as a young girl. Every instinct within me wanted me to protect her but common sense smothers those foolish thoughts away. She may appear to be helpless but the goddess was anything but.
However, the goddess was an ally of Lyceria so I patiently waited as she takes her time scrutinizing me.
Yes, Kagura was an ally and has remained true to her alliance, especially in the times of the New Moon. When the terrors of the New Moon inflict the people, the animals have been miraculously untouched.
Even when receiving the news of the city-state Rhoh, the New Moon’s instrument had been plagues and drought yet the survivors had tolled to Ghryia’s gates with animals in tow. I will never forget the faces of the migrants who fled their ruined home. Grief-stricken, hopeless, the parade of defeated men, barren mothers clinging onto dying or already dead children, no, I will never forget the horror the New Moon brings.
There had been a few protesters who had voiced their concern and displeasure of opening our gates to the migrants but they were swiftly silenced. I did not hesitate to open the gates for them. Though Ghyria is where I reside, all of Rhageon is my home and the people within its borders, are my family. As the Nysurria of Rhageon, I am to be both their sword and crown and I will serve them tirelessly. I am their protector, their King, but I am also their Chosen.
I was unsure whether the goddess Lyceria chose me to be her Chosen before or after I was born; it is still a debate I have with my Muwwe. Whenever I do spark up the debate with her, she gives me a withering glare. If I were not her son, she would take it as insult for someone to doubt the Head Priestess of the Lyceria’s Temple.
The story of his birth always remains the same. I remember when she had first told me, her ebony skin gleaming like a gem in the dimmed light as she leaned over to settle me into bed. Her black locs, spun with silver painted strands, had tickled my cheeks as she leaned down to brush my silvery-white hair from my brow.
The Head Priestess was one of the most beautiful women in Rhageon. So beautiful, that a Mycean Lord abandoned his home, his lands, and his title, to be with her. That is what the gossip says but they are right about my Muwwe’s beauty.
“You were bathed in a beam of moonlight, Tor. It engulfed you entirely until I could barely see you betwixt my thighs. The midwife had just taken you into her hands when the light touched you. The poor woman was terrified that she had hurt you and pushed you into my arms. Laying you on my breast, you were so small and I could barely see you through the silver light. And even then, the light only touched you.
The temple was painted in silver,” she whispered in awe. Looking out the window, it is as if she is picturing the moment.
“When the light eventually faded, it is as if the light never left you. Your hair was as bone white as it is now and your eyes, your eyes were the mark of her blessing.”
I had blinked my said silver eyes then and said, “But Muwwe, was I born this way or did the goddess change me?”
As if already weary of the barrage of questions she knew I would have for her, the Head Priestess sighed, “Tor, I am unsure. We shall never know but what we do know is that she chose you.”
I blushed and looked down. Fidgeting with the bed sheets, I said, “I know, Muwwe. Everyone says I am special.” As the son of the Head Priestess and the Chosen of Lyceria, people stopped him daily and stared at him in awe. Some have wept at the sight of him and begged for his blessings. It was embarrassing. Looking back up again, I said, “I am special. I can feel it.”
“Yes, Tor. You are different.” There was no sympathy in my Muwwe’s voice. There would be none because as a priestess to Lyceria, she would not see these gifts as a curse or a hindrance, only a blessing.
“You must embrace these gifts and you must learn how to wield them. You will become greater than any of us could ever foresee. And you will become Warlord, I am sure of it.”
And she was right. I did learn how to embrace my gifts and I now know how to wield them. And because of that, I have become the Warlord of Rhageon and am the most powerful human in not only the Four Kingdoms, but also the world.
I was the bridge between Lyceria and her creations. There must be balance. Though the goddess does love her children, the mortals, she is helpless to protecting us from outside forces during the time of the new moon.
And because of the goddess before me, my people did not suffer as greatly.
Finished with her scrutiny, the goddess takes a step back and to the East. Following her gaze, I looked out into the desert and with my heightened sight, I could see past the Sycillus River, the city of Zubrel, the Besert Desert, and finally, Mycea.
Spinning around, I could feel dread licking up his body as I ran through the possibilities of the goddess pointing towards Mycea.
My voice was shaky when I finally mustered the ability to speak. “What does she want me to do? Fight them? Trade with them?” My lips are dry as I wait for the goddess to answer.
But she does not speak and only points.
“Go there? Do you want me to go there?”
The goddess did not answer but this time, a bright light engulfed her body and then, a raven was once again before me.
My heart beating so loudly I pushed down the urge to see if it had come outside of my chest. The raven took flight once more, leaving me only with more questions than answers.
When the raven was nothing but a black blip in the sky, I took one last look at the Palo Verdo tree before heading back to my city.