Concealed in the shadows I've known my whole life, I silently watch as my father runs our Court's appeals concerning conflicts among his subjects.
I tell myself I'm here because I'm next to run the Kingdom, but truth be told it's not really the reason. At least, not for my father.
For him, my attendance is only mandatory because of my skills. Powers he doesn't have. It's my only worth, according to him, my uncle, and grandfather. Deeming me irrelevant otherwise.
I'm not even acknowledged for the fact that, regardless of their enmity, I'll one day take my father's place. It's a birthright- issued by our Divinity, Oblivion, that once his time is over I will ascend to the Umbra Throne.
They've chosen to ignore it, as though it were a nagging pest instead of fate.
It's not all that surprising. I'm the first female Heir born from a long line of patriarchal rulers. And the position of Eternal belongs to the first born; meaning I'll be the first-ever Eternalness.
Although it's a momentous phenomenon, it's not an ordeal they want documented in their history.
In fact, they are going to such extremes to avoid this reality, they do everything in their power to make sure my true identity as the Heir remains a secret. The image they forced upon me has become associated with fear and hate as a plot to make people denounce me once it's my turn to claim my place as ruler in hopes Oblivion will name my cousin, Letham, as the Heir instead, averting us back to our old ways.
Our Kingdom's old government system used to be a hierarchical assigning: people determined who led them.
The moron doesn't even have the necessary aptitude for the position he would've needed just to be considered. Which is; the capability of guaranteeing our people's continuation through survival instincts and predominant powers.
It's more than that, but there's the gist of it.
So. Here I am, forced into the far corner of the throne room, out of sight, where I am forgotten. Having adopted the shadows as my only companions.
At the thought, a tendril of obsidian smoke licks my cheek. The sensation is feather-like and cold. Barely noticeable.
More wisps of the dark vapor dance across my body- approving of the notion that they are my ghostly confidants.
I named them Shades because they are as life-like as any other creature. They aren't exactly powers, yet, with a simple thought, I could control them to do anything.
They speak to me. Show me things. But their favorite activity is clinging to me like a second skin. They might as well be for how long they've been attached to me.
It's something else my relatives hate me for. Or envy me for.
"His son molested my daughter!" A man screeches, gaining my attention.
I look at my father, who sits on the obsidian Umbra Throne atop the onyx marble dais. Our palace's structure possesses dark compositions, epitomizing our representation of the Oblivion Divinity.
His slate-gray eyes remain indifferent, showing no emotion towards the outburst. A non-reaction learned throughout his five matured centuries of living.
His movements are fluid as he slowly rises from his throne. The regal crown of Oblivion remains undisturbed on his raven head of hair by the motion. His sooty royal mantle, however, follows him until it falls stiffly at his side.
The people in the throne room shift and cower, knowing full well what's to come.
My father does not condone shouting.
The man who raised his voice wilts under my father's domineering gaze and profusely splutters his apologies.
"Finish your reason for being here." My father asserts in a low but powerful tone. "Do so without your voice echoing throughout my hall."
The poor man nods frantically as my father once again takes his seat.
I examine my father with an arched brow. He must be in a good mood for not reprimanding him. Normally, he would've unleashed his vertigo power, making the man hallucinate, then nauseous, and sometimes, if he's in a foul mood, induce seizures.
An Eternal's powers are unparalleled, but all Primordials have abilities. We were created by the four Supreme Divinities to combat a cosmic universal threat many eons ago. The threat has long since been destroyed, and balance was restored through the appointment of the four Eternals along with their Courts; Oblivion, Fauna, Ardor, and Core.
Fauna represents the Divinity of elements and creativity. The Court resides in the Eastern part of our small planet; Ganymede.
Ardor denotes the Divinity of emotions and intellect. Their court settles in the North.
Oblivion, of course, reflects the Divinity of ruin and chaos. We dominate the West.
The final Court is our adversary; Core, epitomizing the Divinity of healing and materiality, occupying the South. They believe themselves to be angelic rulers; blessed with ethereal cosmic abilities and curative touches.
I scoff quietly under my breath. Arrogant pricks.
Except not all... My mother is from Core's Court, or the Light Court- as they prefer to call it.
An underserved title since they are far from saintly. Core was the reason for the universal threat that brought us all into existence to begin with.
"Mastusio's son violated my seventeen-year-old daughter, Candice." The man from earlier whimpers in distress, pulling me from my musings. Even though he cries, I can see the underlying rage lurking in his eyes. He's trying to keep it together for the sake of his daughter.
I look to his left and see the young girl in question. Her face is partly hidden behind her light brown hair. It looks dull, lifeless, as does the expression in her large brown eyes, which are staring at... nothing.
"Pain." The Shades whisper. They aren't like any normal life force. No one can hear them. Therefore, they don't speak in hushed tones to avoid being overheard. That's just how they sound when they alter the acoustics in the air to create a voice only I can hear. It's nothing more than wind to anyone else.
I clench my jaw. They've confirmed she suffered. But was it defilement? And was it by him?
My eyes avert to the man in accusation. The first thing I notice is Mastusio and his son are dressed in finer clothing, though not as fine as royalty. I surmise they're probably wealthy merchants or traders, and live further from the Divide- the midpoint where all Courts meet, and where ghoulish demons dwell- garoles. (gar-oles)
I have an unhealthy obsession with the vile creatures. The Umbra Eternal is responsible for overseeing the Divide, so I learn everything I can about them. The most important information I've gathered is that they are the ghastly result of the past imbalance due to Core's mistake. Another reason we despise the Light Court.
Ancient texts I've read said Primordial warriors hunted them after peace was restored, but they're intelligent and hid within the Divide. It's where desolation hit the hardest when the Celestial War took place. Nothing living can survive there. Well, nothing but garoles.
Those who live closest are those in poverty. They can't afford anything else. And they'll do anything they can to escape their situation.
My train of thought brings me back to Mastusio's son. He's going to use Candice's circumstances to support his case. It happens often that females living by the Divide use their bodies to leave their terrible environment. No one would blame her if she did.
"He did it!" The Shades hiss angrily.
I know. Just by looking at his harsh blue eyes, I can tell he is replaying the incident in his head. The sadistic gleam tells me he was likely ruthless about it.
He's tall, but not quite filled out. Probably took his insecurities out on her. The reasons are irrelevant. I'm not playing detective today. My duties in the throne room are less complex.
The rapists' eyes glance at the girl. The glare he gives her makes it known he isn't the forgiving type. I can see his vindictive thoughts displayed on his face as he continues to stare at her.
My upper lip peels back as I seethe. I nearly forget for a moment where I am as my hand drops to the dagger strapped to my hip.
I usually don't like to operate with a metal blade, but this special occasion calls for blood.
My father's monotonal voice halts my movements. "Son of Mastusio, state your name, and tell me if this is true."
Mastusio opens his mouth, "My Eternal, he-"
"I am speaking to your son," My father interrupts. "Talk out of turn again and I will not show any leniency."
I smirk. Wishfully hoping he wouldn't keep his mouth shut.
"Salutations, Umbra Eternal Raydon," The son awkwardly addresses my father in his pitchy voice, and bows at the hip. "I am Henric, the town Prytor's most eligible bachelor." I roll my eyes. "Candice Pruce was looking to raise her status by throwing herself at me. I took her because what male can refuse such a beautiful female? She was desperate and persistent. But I made no promises towards her. Now, her father is accusing me of a crime I did not commit."
Henric's father's lips give a slight twitch before he runs his hand over his mouth to hide his cocky smile. He likely gave Henric the idea to use Candice's predicament as his defense.
"It's not true," Candice whimpers and begins to sob.
A violent urge comes over me, desiring to sever both their heads as the girl shudders with silent sobs. Her father squeezes her hand in comfort. The other people gathering in the throne room start whispering about what my father's ruling will be since this isn't a common case among Primordials. Therefore, it's gained everyone's attention. Because not only is she underage, but forcing intimacy is a crime worthy of death in all four Kingdoms.
Our ancient laws state anything strengthening our survival is to be revered and protected. Females are at the top of that list since we proliferate. Thus, Courting Regulations were standardized.
It became instituted because our species, though esteemed as supreme, is far from perfect. The Divinities intended for Primordials to win their war by designing us to be territorial, protective, ambitious, and violent. They didn't consider how those permanent innate behaviors would dictate us once the war was won.
Males have competitive and possessive natures, so when it comes to mating a female, they are determined, aggressive, and greedy.
Hence, the Courting Regulation; where a male must openly court a consenting female if he wishes to claim her. A claim is made when a male has marked a female with a bite and can only be undone by healers in the Light Court, as the venom in our fangs leaves a lasting effect so it can be traced back to the biter.
A claiming bite can only be initiated after public courting so people can see that both parties are participating in the ritual. That's all that's needed, which doesn't offer females enough protection in my opinion.
Males have found loopholes in this law and have disregarded its purpose. If there's a powerful female a male wishes to possess, he'll be deceptive, strategic, and creative in procuring her. But females also began to manipulate and conspire to obtain a desirable suitor.
It's a rough world out there, and being a female heir means I'll be hunted and pursued meticulously once people learn the truth about my identity. I don't want to get myself stuck with the wrong male for the rest of my life, which is one of the reasons I'm not eagerly forthcoming with who I am.
Sadly, allowing them to think of me as a monster protects me more than my true title would. When I ascend, I'll figure something out. There is no point in dwelling on problems that don't exist yet.
From my peripheral, I see my father's head turn until his eyes are cast in my direction: always behind him, on his left, waiting for when he needs me.
"Kisling." He calls in his monotonal voice.
I smile wickedly as he summons me, and push off the wall where I had been leaning. The Shades move, no longer obscuring me from people's sight as they drape behind me like a smoky cape.
Mastusio's eyes widen when he sees me, and he clutches at his son's arm frantically. "The Wraith." He squalls.
It's the infamous reputation I've earned: the Umbra Eternal's ruthless, white-haired assassin who lives in shadows. Contrary to my reputation, I actually don't enjoy killing. Unless it's warranted, then I have no problem.
Unfortunately, I've become my father's cutthroat since his abilities are not strong enough to kill. Actually, none of my relatives have powers capable of destruction. It's ironic, considering we are the harnessers of Oblivion. And I find it funny how they disapprove of me, yet I'm the only one with the ability to bring immediate death.
"P-please," Mastusio begs my father as he drops to his knees. "The whore is the one-"
His words are cut short as he vomits violently. I glance at my father and notice his eyes are narrowed on him, putting Mastusio in a state of sickening discomfort. He did warn him.
I examine my sharp nails as I wait for my father to finish, feigning boredom.
This is a light punishment considering what my father could do. I've seen him disorient someone to the point they felt vulnerable and endangered for days. They were so mentally scarred they tried to take their own life. I wouldn't know how it feels though, I've never been on the receiving end of my father's power. I also won't give him a reason to use it on me, because right now I'm just as defenseless as anyone else. That's another thing I'm looking forward to when ascending to the throne.
While an Eternal reigns, nothing can harm them. They're invincible. Harnessing the Divinity's essence, becoming God-like. It was the only way to defeat the threat during the Celestial War and restore balance.
The Divinities corroborated that after elevating the chosen Original Primordials as Eternals with their essence, the Eternals wouldn't be able to turn against each other or overthrow one another by locking them in their Kingdoms. Once an Heir becomes an Eternal, they're confined to their realm for the duration of their ruling.
They also ensured that not one Eternal can reign forever. Upon acquiring the throne, Eternals are given a century to produce an Heir, and cannot hold power longer than four hundred years after their Heir is born, providing them five centuries of ruling. If there is no Heir, or if an Eternal abuses their power, another primeval bloodline will take the throne.
Without the tradition of passing the Divinity's essence, there'd be another risk of imbalance.
So, even though my relatives disapprove of me, my reign is inevitable.
A lot can happen in three hundred years. An unwanted thought enters my mind. I squash it. I'm seventy-two, so I have quite some time until my turn to reign comes.
The vomiting stops, prompting my task at hand.
I smirk and take a step forward. The sound of my heeled boots connecting with the marble makes a clicking sound that can be heard by everyone as the throne room becomes deadly silent.
Henric begins to tremble. Mastusio looks at my father, stunned. "Y-your majesty, I am just confused. I had not realized you reached a verdict."
"It does not take an empath to know your son is lying, or a seer to recognize this female has been assaulted." He replies. I detect a hint of sadness in his tone. Which is odd. My father conceals his emotions, never showcasing any weaknesses, and has taught me to do the same. My curiosity sparks, wondering why he felt sorrow. Is it sympathy towards the girl?
I shelve the thought, storing it to ponder over later. Right now I have more important matters to focus on.
My eyes lock on Henric. I'm a few steps away when I notice a dark stain appear on his trousers.
He's urinated himself.
"P-please!" He begs and drops to his knees by his father- who is now sobbing and watching me with a pleading expression. "Spare my life! I'll do anything!"
He wants mercy? He should have thought about that before harassing the girl.
Because, for that, I have none.
From the corner of my eye, I notice Mastusio's face mutates from sniveling to murderous. "NO!"
"Move." The Shades command a second before the man unleashes his powers on me.
I teleport, scarcely evading his acid-like mist, and appear directly behind him. My long white hair whips around me from the sudden movement.
Oh, I forgot. Only Divinity Harnessers are born with more than one ability. Teleportation is my lesser-known power. People aren't supposed to know I have more than one. Oops.
Mastusio gives a shrill scream in alarm of my disappearance. Foregoing the dagger, I command the Shades to condense and take the form of dual short, velvety blades. Then, in one swift motion, I removed his head.
He interfered with the Umbra Eternal's decree. Therefore, I'm justified in ending his life. To be completely honest, I was hoping he would.
Henric cries as his father's blood sprays his face and scurries backward in an effort to escape me.
I stalk him. Agonizingly slow, absorbing every bit of his fear as though it were sweet nectar.
He attempts to use his powers too. Sending unstable bursts of oily substances at me. It misses and creates a mess on the marble dais.
Yuck. I bet my father isn't happy about that.
Sighing. I guess I should get this over with.
I teleport beside him, and before he can finish inhaling, I swing my blade across his neck. He makes a gurgling sound before collapsing to the ground.
My eyes absorb the life draining from his body as it pools into a crimson puddle on the dark marble. My soul numbs at the sight of it. There was little satisfaction following his death. It needed to be done. This was an act of justice.
... This time.
"Remorseless killer." I hear someone whisper. Others chime in, calling me vicious, horrendous, an abomination who should die, and that I belong with the spirits latched onto me.
The brutal insults bring a sour taste to my mouth, and the blood-sizzling adrenaline I felt moments ago reverses to ice in my veins.
I glance up to meet my father's slate-gray eyes. His scowl emphasized his disdain. It gives the room full of people encouragement to continue voicing their repulsion towards me.
This is what he wants: people to detest me. Making sure I'll be rejected once it's my turn to rule. And if Oblivion doesn't agree with their dethroning, then at least they'll disrespect me, swear no loyalty, and probably turn on me.
My punishment. All because I was born female.
To stop the commotion, I burn the bodies with my starlight. Something I should have done to begin with. Maybe I could have spared myself from hearing the cruel comments.
The dark room glows brightly with the incandescent silvery blaze, incinerating the oily substance and vomit as well. It leaves no evidence of the event that just occurred. No ash. No smoke. It devours until there's nothing left. Then, once finished, it flickers out of existence.
Murmurs echo around the throne room again. Nothing I do pleases them. Saying I'm unworthy of such an angelic gift. Asking each other how a murderess like me obtained such an extraordinary ability.
My mother. She doesn't have the power, but she's from the Light Court. It's the only logical explanation. Which is unheard of, because powers don't cross over from one Court to another. Especially not with Heirs.
My father raises his hand, effectively silencing the room.
I turn to face the young girl; the victim of the horrific crime performed by the persecutor I slaughtered on her behalf. She and her father stare at me with looks of pure undiluted terror.
I swallow down the apology I want to give them. To say that this isn't who I am; it's who my father made me. But it would be a lie... I would've felt no remorse killing him again if given the chance. I guess my father did succeed in turning me into a monster.
Unable to bear the expressions on their faces any longer, I turned my head away. "Your molester is gone now. He deserved his ending for what he did to you." I tell her in the most reassuring tone I could muster. Except it doesn't come out that way. My voice has a haunting cadence to it. Like a throaty sigh.
They share a startled gasp.
I try to ignore the uncomfortable ache in my chest. Reminding myself they have good reasons to be fearful of me.
"Kisling." My father warns sternly.
I look at his slightly-aged face, not surprised to find it looking back at me with disapproval.
Oh. That's right. I don't get to offer comfort. That's not why I'm here. I'm only here to be his executioner. My voice was silenced immediately after my birth.
Slipping back on my mask of indifference, I climb the steps of the dais, returning to my spot. Once I reach it, I recloak myself in the Shades before retaking my place against the wall.
My eyes inadvertently went back to where Mastusio and Henric had just been standing.
"They will not be missed." The Shades whisper assuredly.
No. They will not.
About the Creator
I never believed the sky is the limit, therefore my passions are expansive. My interest in writing stemmed from poetry but my heart lead me to Sci-Fi Fantasy. Consequently, my stories are plot-driven with splashes of evocative elements.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Just came across this after reading your latest submission to the Quadru-haiku Challenge. I truly enjoy your writing style, and look forward to reading more of your work!
Great job, Brin! I like this world a lot and you did a great job of setting it up. I felt like I was there in the throne room with them. I'd love to read more of this.
*For those that read this* This is the first chapter of a book I wrote; a spin-off from one I'm trying to publish. If you like this world, the original book will be 10xs better. The male oppression is solely from her family. I promise, it's not a world thing. Her family has expectations placed on her that she obviously can't meet. (Don't we all suffer from disappointing our parents sometimes?) I'm a writer, so of course, I'll exaggerate things to make the story interesting. So, that being said, her family are the only people who hate her because of her birth. Everyone else hates her because they think she's heartless. Oh, and this book is not Y/A friendly. There will be steamy scenes and vulgar words here and there. And I'm pretty sure I can't post those? Anyway, enjoy! If this does well I'll post the next chapter.