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Behind the Gilded Door

A Short Story by Jordan Barrett

By Jordan BarrettPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read

Behind the Gilded Door

The year is 3042. The world has finally settled and begun to grow with new life after the nuclear war between Elves and Humans. Nuclear waste litters the Earth, and humans are all but extinct. The few that remain are enslaved to the Elves that rule from their glittering city and are unwilling subjects to King Niiri. My name is Fallon. I’m half human, half elf, currently being transported from my home in the hills to the Palace of Amyr, the King’s home. The Kings guard arrested me because of my human blood.

My mother was an Elf, murdered for her relationship with my human father. They killed her, but not before she passed me her most valued possession, a seemingly simple and harmless locket shaped like a heart. The locket was beautiful. Small and dainty, slightly bigger than a bottle cap, the face decorated with delicate filigree that twisted together like vines.

“Run, Fallon.” My mother had whispered to me from our hiding place in the cellar. “Protect this with your life, my darling. It holds more power than you could ever know.”

I nodded and hugged my mother before slipping through a hole in the wall. An opening only big enough for a very small being to fit through. We’d dug the tunnel weeks ago when word got out that the Kingsguard were hunting humans and half breeds. My mother sealed the entrance behind me, and I crawled on my hands and knees, the smell of damp earth filling my nose and darkness compressing around me. I crawled as fast as I could, trying to block out the sounds of my Elven mother taking a stand against the Kingsguard. She screamed and my breath hitched in my throat, and tears welled in my eyes.

I hit the side of the dirt tunnel with as much force as I could muster in the confined space. My knuckles split and bled. They would pay for this. I wiped the tears from my eyes and crawled until my head smacked into a dead end. Bracing my hands against the wall, I pushed as hard as I possibly could, my toes digging into the ground, revealing an opening hidden by a boulder and hanging moss. The tunnel exit. I gave one more heave and the boulder rolled down the hill at the mouth of the tunnel, and unfortunately, so did I. I tumbled down headfirst, rolling and pitching, trying to grasp onto anything that could stop my rapid descent.

I came to a startling halt as I splashed face first into a lake. Panic set in and I searched frantically for the locket, patting my pockets until I felt the relief of cold metal in my breast pocket. The locket was safe. I pulled the tiny thing out and stared at it. It didn’t seem special, just an ordinary locket. I tried to open it, but the clasp wouldn’t budge.

The sound of heavy boots pounded on the grass, and I jumped up, ready to run, but a guard grabbed me by the scruff of my now torn up shirt. I swung around to give him a good kick in the knees and was met with the hilt of a sword to my stomach. He dropped me as I doubled over, heaving from the impact.

He towered over me. This man, this elf, was clearly built for war. Broad shoulders over a broad chest set on muscular legs. I looked up at him pained through gasping breaths. There was fresh blood on his armor. He glared down at me, raised an eyebrow and smirked.


The road to Amyr was bumpy and jolting, the road having grown wild with years of neglect after the Great War. Roads and civilizations barely existed. The Earth had taken itself back, trees growing through ancient high rises, the ground engulfing old machines and flying devices, coving them in moss and dirt. Nature had flourished since the war. Everything was green and untampered with, the trees towering overhead, sunlight glittering though the seemingly iridescent leaves.

I sat up and groaned, my surroundings spinning around me like a kaleidoscope. My head throbbed and I reached up, wincing as I touched a large lump that had formed over my temple. Sharp pain shot through my head and spots blossomed in my vision. Dammit that hurts.

I looked around to get my bearings. I had been tossed into a small wooden cart being hauled towards the Amyr by six large stallions. The cart flanked on either side by six guards, but I wasn’t physically restrained. Interesting. One guard saw me inspecting the cart and smiled.

“I wouldn’t even think about it if I were you, Half-Breed. You touch those bars and you’ll come to regret it quickly.”

I glared at him, wishing I would break his neck. I held my hands up to the bars and they hummed with reinforced magic. He was right. One thought of escaping this flimsy prison and I’d end up unconscious, probably wishing I was dead. I flopped back onto my back, the locket pressing firmly against my leg in my pocket. They hadn’t found it on me. I wish I knew what it did, if it could help me.

“So, where are you boys taking me?” I asked as if I didn’t already know the answer. These men were dressed in knight’s armor embellished with the Kings insignia, a rose beneath a crown of thorns.

“You’ll see.” Responded the burly one that had given me a good knock with his sword hilt. Two hits judging by the lump on my head. He exchanged glances with the man at the head of my entourage, clearly the captain of this group.

“Well, Captain? Any information you could give me would be peachy and greatly appreciated. I’ll even say please.”

The captain glanced back at me, clearly not amused, sighed, and shook his head. He nodded to the elf on his right and the whole company came to a rough halt, causing me to lose what little balance I had regained and plop forward. He dismounted and came to stand in front of my little cart, resting his right hand on the hilt of his sword.

“Well?” I asked.

He smiled. “We’re taking you to Noren.”

Chills ran the length of my spine. Noren, a traitor to the crown and known leader of the rebellion against the Elves. Why would men of the Kingsguard be taking me to him? He murdered elves and humans alike, bringing chaos in the hopes of collapsing the monarchy. Noren and his men rested in the northern mountains, as far as possible away from the golden city.

We trekked through the forest and slowly into the mountains. Each rock and bump jolting into my bones. The air was cold, frigid, and clinging to my skin and tattered clothes like a wet blanket. The minutes passed at an agonizing rate, and snow began to fall. We passed through a large city, or what had once been a large city. All that remained were the steel and stone ruins of a once great civilization. We moved slowly through the ancient streets, avoiding debris, and navigating through fallen overpasses. We crossed beneath one bridge that remained standing, the concrete and stone looming above us. Nature had tried to reclaim this structure; tree roots snaked over the edge and wrapped their limbs tightly against the sides trying to constrict and crush the stone into rubble. Moss blanketed the underside creating a green canopy. Vines and ivy draped and swung gently in the breeze, giving an otherworldly feel, as if magic could really exist here. Birds fluttered in and out of the dangling vines, eager to get to their homes before the coming frost.

Hours passed in agony. The air became bitterly cold and the frost in the air hurt my lungs with every breath until, finally, the wagon came to a halt. A steep cliff towered in front of us, reaching high until it seemed to touch the sky. The guards dismounted their horses and two came to open the door of the cart. They grabbed me gruffly by the upper arms and hauled me out onto the frozen ground.

“We go on foot from here.” The captain remarked. “Try not to fall behind.”

We traipsed up the side of the mountain, the frigid wind whipping our clothes and our hair around our faces in a furious whirlwind of ice. The climb up the mountain was steep and narrow. One misstep and you’d plummet to the base of the cliff below. Handholds hid deep in the ice, difficult to hang onto, but moderately helpful, nonetheless. We came around a bend in the cliff face to find the mouth of a cave lit dimly by torches. We walked slowly into the cave, following the path of light. The shadows seemed to dip and move within themselves, giving more life to the darkness the torchlight could not touch. The movement caught and held my eye and set my nerves on fire; we were being watched. I anxiously pressed my hand into my pocket, my fingers curling around the locket.

The end of the cave held a set of double doors carved out of stone; two giant sentries carved into the cliff wall on either side. The doors towered over us, arching, and engraved with Elven symbols that I didn’t recognize, yet remained familiar. The soldiers lined up in a half circle, facing outward towards the mouth of the cave, standing guard in case of intrusion. The captain left me standing in the center, walking away to inspect the door.

There was something strange about this place, a magnetic pull that I felt deep in my chest. I was drawn to the door. I stepped closer, vaguely aware of the captain eyeing me with suspicion. The doors were beautifully carved, the patterns and symbols set in gold. There were no handles, nothing to pry them open. The captain let out an exasperated sigh and commanded his men to spread out and search for an alternate way through. I barely registered his orders. I was too focused on a symbol at the center of the door. It was indented, almost like a puzzle piece or a keyhole. The shape pulled at something in the back of my mind until recognition struck like a brick to the temple. It was a heart.

The locket burned against the skin of my palm as I pulled it from my pocket. I raised the locket to the matching shape on the door and pressed it in. A large bang like a sliding lock mechanism sounded and the door began to scrape and slide inward, protesting the unused hinges. The soldiers at my back came running, torches in hand, their swords shining in the light. We stepped forward and I became aware of movement through the shadows in front of me. We were not alone here.

Light erupted deep in the room causing me to squint and momentarily lose my vision. I blinked my eyes clear and before me stood an army. Thousands of men and women, elf and human, stood shoulder to shoulder dressed in their armor that held the same symbols as the doors, as my locket. Confusion and realization swept over me as I finally recognized the symbol. It was the symbol of the Lost King who had disappeared right before the war, his family included. The locket being the crest of the true royal family.

“Welcome, Fallon. We’ve been expecting you.”

I turned to face Noren, his piercing blue eyes boring into me.

“What do you mean? Expecting me?”

“That locket is not in your possession by accident, child.” He said calmly, smiling. He turned to face the legion of soldiers at his back and exclaimed, “All hail Queen Fallon, granddaughter of the Lost King, the rightful heir of Amyr!”

Young Adult

About the Creator

Jordan Barrett

My name is Jordan and I am a budding YA Fiction writer and photographer. I am currently working on my first full length book, while also having completed several unpublished short stories. I have a great love for books, bunnies and tea 🥰

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