The End of Before
Below is a reading sample excerpt from my first book, The Deity Jewels: Part One, The Prophecy!
The End of the Life Before
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
- C.S. Lewis
In the dead of night, heels clicked along a cold stone floor. Nothing stirred but the dust behind the train of a long sapphire dress. The sound of her footsteps echoed down the halls, clenching the stale air in a tense atmosphere. Despite the chills forming along her skin, her slim figure moved slowly with grace. White lace stretched up along her arms from her fingertips to her shoulders.
The silky blue fabric that wrapped around her body seemed to glow whenever she passed a window with the brilliance of moonlight. Painted on these beautiful windows was a lone wolf with piercing blue eyes. The stained eyes reflected a deep blue onto the woman’s pale face. Twinkling lights reflected off the golden crown on her head.
Queen Ritalia of The Sotan Kingdom ruled over this ancient castle and its surrounding forests. Despite the luminance surrounding her, she remained trapped in the darkness of her mind. From the dark circles around her sapphire eyes to the blank stare they gave, her expression was unsettling.
Her long blonde curls were beginning to fray into split ends. Abruptly a cloaked figure dressed in black darted out from the shadows behind her. She barely caught the sound of feet scuffing across the ground. The woman flicked her wrist and sent the intruder flying without looking back.
The sickening snap of bones splitting echoed, and the broken body crashed to the floor. Ritalia continued walking forward, heading straight for two large doors at the end of the hall. She knew well what was coming for her.
Without warning, glass shattered in front of the queen in a blur. She paused as she braced herself. Crouched threateningly in front of Sotan’s Queen was a slim girl in black leather. Hanging off her hips was a belt filled with weapons. Long black hair woven in a braid draped over the girl’s shoulder.
Shards of glass cracked under her sharp-tipped boots as she crept toward Sotan’s Queen. This girl was a trained Sithmora and was not much older than fourteen. Scars stretched across her young, bruised face. The queen clenched her teeth as she struggled to force off the sympathy tugging at her heart.
“You don’t have to fight for them,” the queen whispered. No matter her words, she already knew what was about to happen. The young Sithmora shook her head as fear glistened in her bright blue eyes. The girl speedily grabbed a dagger from her side. Before she could attack, the queen lifted her hand and smashed the girl into the ceiling. Blood gushed from above as the queen held back tears. She kept her glossy gaze locked ahead. The small body plummeted to the floor with a final splat while the queen continued to walk on.
Screams unleashed outside the tall, sturdy castle walls. The queen froze as she closed her eyes. As familiar scents flooded her nostrils, her face twisted in fear and disgust. Her eyes widened as she gradually crept toward the broken window. Her heart was pounding. Yellow shades of light flicked across the wall. Blood roared in her ears to a rapid pulsing beat. As soon as she reached the opening, heat overwhelmed her.
Ritalia’s skin felt like it was going to burn as she watched the destruction in sheer terror. Her eyes darted back and forth between the burning people and crumbling homes. Blood-curdling shrieks sent chills across her body as a foul odor invaded the air—burning flesh. A large flash below caught her eye.
A tiny child was ablaze, thrashing and crying, begging for help as flames scorched their skin. She snapped her gaze away in a scowl. Ear-splitting screeches were becoming too much to handle, so she covered her ears as rage boiled within her. This war had already stripped the world of many innocents; it’s time the bloodshed stopped.
Despite the weakness in her bones, she rose to her feet. She pressed on to bring this night to an end. Her eyes blurred. She was almost in a trance as she felt herself drifting between her vision and her reality—a lump formed in her throat as she recalled the ending.
“This is meant to be,” she muttered under her breath. Her dull gaze rested on the silver knob. The metal felt cold to the touch. She trembled as she looked down to find herself ghostly pale. Her fingers twitched as she battled feelings twisting her stomach. She tenderly pulled on one of the doors.
The squeaks and creaks of the ancient wood seemed to barrel through the interior’s silence. Shadows coated the room with a gloomy atmosphere. A sudden flash of light whizzing past the window lurched her back. She caught her breath quickly before approaching fate. Long aqua drapes stretched down over her daughter’s bed.
Tears welled in her eyes. She immediately blinked until her sight cleared. She pushed aside the drapes to find her daughter resting peacefully.
“She’s only nine years old,” she thought to herself. The queen turned her head away to fight off the drops falling from her lashes. Her face constantly battled between twisting in pain and hiding how she felt. “She can’t know.” The young mother instantaneously inhaled and swallowed back her fear. Forcing a smile, she softly rocked the little girl.
“Mommy?” The girl rubbed her eyes. She tilted her neck and furrowed her brows. “What’s going on?” The queen remained silent. Her heart seemed to stop beating as she hugged her little girl and smiled.
“Evaleana,” she froze. “I need you to trust me.” The war between her head and her emotions was peaking. She picked her daughter up and carried her to the door. “Put on some shoes,” she gently instructed. While Evaleana struggled to put on shoes, still half-asleep, the queen grabbed her youngest daughter in the other bed nearby.
“Queen Ritalia! Your Highness! Please! Where are you?” called a young woman’s cracked voice. The queen spun towards the door to see a young servant girl rush to their side. The sweat on her forehead glistened with the fear shimmering in her glossy eyes. She hurried over to take the youngest daughter in her arms.
Ritalia circled the maid so she could look into her baby’s eyes. “Sivila,” she whispered. The little girl was seven years old. Her droopy, big blue eyes lethargically met with her mother’s. Ritalia’s heart sank as tears started to burst through her walls. She smiled as she brushed the messy hair out of her daughter’s tiny face. She stepped back as the servant girl turned to face the queen. Ritalia grabbed the girl’s hand in her own. “What’s your name?”
The girl shook. “Angelian.”
“Take her to the capital in Tovin. Give them this message,” she ordered as she placed a message in the girl’s hand.
Angelian’s frantic expression shifted from the piece of parchment to her queen. She looked troubled but soon nodded to Queen Ritalia with a determined demeanor. “I won’t fail you,” she vowed. Ritalia smiled as she dipped her head to the girl.
Before the girl left the room, Ritalia called her name. When she turned around, the queen had tears streaming down her face. “You’re courageous. The Angels of Light will protect you. Thank you.” Sivila reached her little hand out toward her mother with her tired eyes. Her heart broke at the sight of her youngest daughter.
“This is it,” the queen froze. “This will be the last time I ever see my daughters again…”
She waved goodbye to her youngest daughter as Angelian left. The queen turned leisurely to face her eldest daughter, Evaleana. Her daughter’s eyes were wide with fear. Ritalia suppressed tears as she felt the sheer terror tug at her breaking heart.
“Are we going to die?” Eva asked fretfully. “Is this the end?”
Ritalia hastily dropped to her knees. She grabbed her daughter’s shoulders as she stared intensely into her trembling blue eyes. She lifted one hand to touch her daughter’s face. “Listen carefully to me,” she paused. Ritalia froze as her vision replayed in her mind.
Screams echoed within her head as she urged Eva into a small dumbwaiter with a young boy. Loud footsteps echoed from the hall. Ritalia struggled to fight back the tears as she begged her daughter to leave. The young boy right away squeezed in front of Evaleana to keep her inside. A loud man’s voice sounded from behind Ritalia. Her heart stopped. The hair on her body rose as she felt chills surge through her.
“Face me, Enchantress Ritalia,” the man demanded. She spun around to see a tall man with a grim face. Drenched in the blood of others, he held his sword to the side as he challenged Sotan’s Queen. Drops of scarlet fluid dripped from his blade. Ritalia swallowed back the lump that had formed in her throat. She steadily raised her right hand. She felt a strange feeling overcome her. Suddenly darkness took over, leaving her cold. In the distance, a light danced toward her. She squinted as she approached the luminance.
“A prophecy will soon commence. The End of Before has come. This life must be left behind so that she can fulfill her Divine Destiny. It has been written in the stars, so it shall be. Give in to fate and allow her future to unfold. Thine sacrifice will not be in vain, despite what is to come. Everything she will endure will shape her into one of the most powerful Enchantresses to ever live. She and another are the gateways to what we have been fighting for these many long years. Trust in me, as thee have before. The Light Angels will keep her safe, for she is my blood too,” explained a powerful but gentle voice. Ritalia closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply.
The queen faintly whispered, “I will not fail you, Vitality.”
Abruptly a cry snapped Ritalia back to reality. Eva was shaking violently. Her breathing had quickened as her little heart pounded against her chest. Her eyes frantically darted as she tried to understand what her mother was doing. “Mother, please, wake up!” she pleaded desperately.
Overcome with a strange sense of serenity, Ritalia was at ease. Evaleana remained perplexed as her mother smiled. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she pulled Eva in tightly for a hug. “Please, don’t forget me,” she implored. “Never forget who you truly are… you have a great journey ahead of you.”
Eva pulled away, her brows furrowed, and her mouth gaped open. “I don’t understand…”
“One day, you will,” Ritalia declared as she stood tall.
Briskly a series of echoing rushed footsteps erupted from beyond the doorway. “EVA!” cried a young boy’s voice. “EVALEANA! Where are you!?” he screamed. Ritalia darted to the door and saw the boy from her vision. He was Eva’s age, nine years, with messy black hair. He bolted inside past the queen and bowed to Eva.
Ritalia raised an eyebrow as she examined the moment. The boy’s short sword dripped with a familiar fresh, sticky crimson liquid. His black leather boots were drenched in mud and blood, leaving a messy trail behind him. His face was pale, and his amber eyes were wide with utter fright. Ritalia sharply inhaled as she knew what was to come. As she sauntered over to interrupt their conversation, loud explosions rumbled through the castle.
“Zyro,” she called. The young boy turned to face her with intensity. He instantly straightened up. Ritalia smiled as she knelt to whisper in his ear. “I need your bravery. Now, more than ever. You must get her out of here. Take her as far as you can go. I know I ask a lot of you—”
“I will do anything you ask, My Queen,” he curtly cut her off. “You need me to protect her…” He frowned as he lowered his head and his voice. “You’re not coming… are you?” Hesitantly he lifted his glossy amber gaze from the floor to lock onto her eyes.
Ritalia tried to smile as she fought back the tears flooding her eyes. “You’re a clever young boy; I need you to be strong for her. Please,” she begged. “Promise me.”
Zyro nodded. “I will always protect her with my life.”
Ritalia felt a rush of gratitude as she kissed his forehead. “Take the dumbwaiter, get outside the castle through the gardens, and get as far away from here as you can,” she swiftly instructed quietly. Zyro dipped his head as he rapidly directed Eva. He walked her over to the tiny hidden lift in the corner of the large bedroom. He glimpsed back as Eva started to question what the plan was.
“Wait, what?” she demanded. Evaleana stood away from Zyro as she glared at her mother. “What’s going to happen? Are you coming with us?” she demanded.
Ritalia bit her lip as she quickly curbed her overwhelming emotions. Her gut twisted in knots as she met Eva’s rageful, confused, and fearful glower. “This can’t be how we speak for the last time…” Ritalia’s heart sank. “Zyro is going to lead you out of here; he will protect you…” she paused as she braced herself to lie to her daughter. “I will be right behind you.”
“Promise?” Eva pressed.
Queen Ritalia forced a smile. “I will always be with you.” Eva still looked unconvinced. Everything had gone silent. Ritalia felt chills form on her skin. An eerie cold submerged her body into an icy atmosphere full of sheer terror and emptiness.
“Go,” Ritalia beseeched. Evaleana’s eyes scurried between her and Zyro. Ritalia gave Zyro a look and entered his mind. “Get her out of here… now!”
He punctually grabbed Eva’s hand and pulled her toward the dumbwaiter. Eva reluctantly crawled into the small wooden box and huddled inside. Eva started to panic again. “Where’s father?” she quizzed.
Promptly, loud and heavy footsteps echoed and rang into the queen’s strained ears. Her blood ran cold. “The man from my vision… he’s here…” Her body started to quiver as anxiety captivated her.
“I-I don’t know, honey,” Ritalia stammered. She couldn’t hold her composure much longer. “I can’t feel Traven’s presence… h-he can’t be dead…” Ritalia’s heart shattered, and she couldn’t hide it anymore. “I can’t tell her… she won’t leave if she knows she is about to lose both of her parents...” The queen mentally snapped as she hurriedly ushered Zyro to enter the lift too. She lost complete control over herself as she started to cry.
“Mother?” Eva whispered. Ritalia glimpsed at her daughter. Trying to take it all in one last time, she froze. Her long blonde curls, her bright blue eyes, her tiny hands, her button nose, her beautiful face. “I wish I could see her grow.”
“Thee will,” Vitality’s voice whispered. The goddess’s presence right away gave Ritalia a newfound strength. The young queen stood tall as she spun around to stand her ground. Eva tried to stretch for her, but Zyro held her back. The young mother could hear her daughter’s pleas, but she fought not to look over her shoulder. Ritalia scarcely heard Zyro struggling with the lift ropes. The footfalls grew closer and louder. Blood roared in the queen’s ears as she remained steadfast.
“Mother!” Eva screamed. Ritalia couldn’t fight it anymore. She glanced back to see Evaleana’s face soaked with tears as she continued to reach out for her. Ritalia lifted her hand towards her. Tears gushed down her face as she gathered her power. Before her magic could send the dumbwaiter down, the man from her vision stepped into the doorway.
“Face me, Enchantress Ritalia,” the man’s low voice commanded. The world seemed to stop moving as she held Eva’s fretful gaze.
“I love you,” she breathed as she flicked her wrist. An energy field of glistening blue luminance encased the dumbwaiter. Before the children were out of Ritalia’s sight, a sword plunged through her gut. She gasped as she felt the blade rip through her body.
“NO!” Eva wailed as the lift was hurtled down by Ritalia’s magic. Ritalia sluggishly glanced down to see her blood gushing out of her. The man yanked the sword from out of her body, sending spurts of the dark red fluid across the room.
Ritalia tasted the salty iron tang as her blood flooded her mouth. She coughed as her knees buckled out from under her. She grasped the fresh wound with her right hand as she tried to use magic. Her effort left her growing weaker. She felt cold as she kneeled on the floor. She leisurely scanned her daughters’ bedroom.
Thousands of memories flashed before her as tears continued to fall from her eyes. Before her eyelids grew too heavy to stay open, she caught a glimpse of the father of her beloved daughters. King Traven knelt before her. His soft azure eyes glistened as he smiled at her. He held his ghostly hand out for her to take. Her eyes darkened as she reached out for him. As soon as she touched his fingertips, a powerful surge of energy unleashed, and the brilliance engulfed the man who had killed Enchantress Ritalia Syrina Sotan.
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