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prophesy of old
It was the same in every prison I’d ever set foot in. The lighting was dim in the small stone cells. The rancid smell of human waists always lingered in the air, and cold, hard cots sat in the corners with a thin blanket atop them if you were lucky. Personally, I’ve seen many prisons, jails, and dungeons in my seventeen years, but strangely, this one did not follow the usual guidelines.
Minutes after being thrown into my jail cell I notices a strange silence in the air. The familiar moist and raspy breath of fellow prisoners could not be heard coming from those jail cells surrounding mine, and neither had I seen any other prisoners on my way in. It was evident, that rather intending to do so or not, I had been isolated, and was alone.
I once believed that the breathing of other prisoners would be the repetitive noise to one day drive me mad, and if not that, the sometimes present dripping of a leaky ceiling. However, the silence soon proved to be more maddening than either noise. There was a ringing in my ears that did not go away for many hours, as there remained no noise to block it out. I tries pacing in the small place that I was given to pass time, and soon found myself thinking of things I’d learned as a child.
I was taught three languages here in the third kingdom, but only knew how to read and write with one of these. The teachings of history and mathematic problems also proved interesting, and I learned many other things too. However school had never been a crowd I fit in with well. The other students feared me, and I didn’t understand why I had to be separated from them. They often mocked me for my differences, and I felt ugly and outcast.
I closed my eyes, as thoughts of this unpleasant moment burned in my memory. The teacher had explained that with light green curls, translucent skin, and jagged teeth, I was set apart from the other students, but not necessarily in a bad way. However, even as she said these words, I remember the fear I’d seen in her eyes, and the I knew the truth. She feared me as all other people did, and in that moment I decided that I hated her.
She was one of the many things tainting the memories of my school days. Another was those despicable lessons on destiny. Children in the third kingdom are still forced to accept at a young age, that their life was set out for them eons before their very existence by the gods. As a child I envisioned some of the gods Aler, Osice, and Serthia selecting my particular fate from a closet of many. In my imagination they set it on my bedside while I slept, as if they were garments I must bare the rest of my life.
Growing up, I never questioned their control, for they had power over of all I did, knowing it would happen before I even thought it. Sometimes I did not want my destiny. I wanted one with darker hair and flat teeth. I wanted a destiny where the other children would not run from me or call me dreadful curses, but my mother had always assured me that I was special, even while I doubted my place in the world.
Thinking of my mother brought a sharp pain to my chest. She was gone now for many years now, and I gave her no more of my tears. After her death, I convinced myself that I could beat the gods at their game of destiny, I began misbehaving, doing rash, unpredictable things and hoping my actions were somehow earning me control over my own destiny. Now I question whether the gods even exist. I often pray to them, but get no answer in return.
If there were gods, I thought to myself, surely they would not allow this to be the end of one of their followers.
Restless, I was still sitting in my jail cell, awaiting a death I’d been promised by one of the many guards. Since a certain point of my childhood though, I’ve not believed one thing told to me by authority, so I did not know whether his threat was true or not.
It was partly my distrust of people in general that got me put in this place to begin with. I often lashed out towards those who ordered me about, and so became a fugitive of the empire at a young age.
I most recently made enemies with a knight in a small village called Ramégo on the outskirts of the kingdom. I’d been brought to the king bound in chains. He wanted answers from me, but all that I gave him was an icy glare. For refusing to talk, they threw me in here, where chains still bound me. They’re cold against my bare arms, and I shiver, and waiting to be let out. I dare not fall asleep for fear of them killing me, and I do not want to die in my sleep.
Days passed and I still sat on my jail cell floor, eyelids heavy, my body swayed, begging for sleep. I was weak also. They hadn’t once come to give me food. For a moment, I wondered if they’d forgotten me, but just then a heavyset man walked by my cell, keys jangling at his belt. He looked at me with mocking eyes. He hated me. There was a cruelness about his eyes that proved this so. Before I noticed more in them, he looked away.
“The king has decided that for your treachery, you shall die this afternoon.” The man said. He wanted to scare me. You foolish overweight brute!, I answered in my thoughts. He could not hear me there and I smiled at my secret insult. “Do you not hear me stupid wrench?”, he asked with even more discontent in his voice than before. “your death is to be on this day, and yet you smile?”
Smile growing, my lips part to reveal teeth chiseled to sharp points. I see his eyes wander there and linger for a moment. There is a hint of fear in his eyes before he once again turns away. I laugh through my pointed teeth and say with amusement, “I know of your plans.” before bursting out in laughter. The thick chains around me rattle as I gasp for breath and finally let out a sigh, still smiling. “ That’s all they’ll ever be. Plans.” I chuckled again.
The guard gave me one more lingering look before walking away. As he left I heard him mutter, “She’s mad, raving mad!”, to himself. I didn’t feel for his thoughts as he left. He’d made clear what he thought of me without me having to. It was my plan that would soon play out, I though. Not theirs.
After his footsteps receded, I inched towards the bars of my enclosed cell, looking either way, checking that no guards lingered in the seemingly endless hallway. There was no one. I took a deep breath, and careful not to let sleep overtake me, closed my eyes.
Soon I left my body behind in the jail cell, exploring the castle for the treasure I’ve searched for now, for years. I floated through hallways, up staircases, passing dining areas, ballrooms, places for political gathering, and finally reached the private chambers of the royals. I knew the king would keep my treasure near him, so I planned to search his sleeping quarters, yet somehow I was drawn in the opposite direction.
To my right was a great room. Sunlight seeping into the hall beckoned me to it. Upon entering, I saw lavender curtains hanging from a tall ceiling. They were drawn, but sunlight still seeped through, across the room and into the hallway. An exquisite bed was set in the center of the room, next to a dresser, open and revealing many beautiful gowns.
I saw movement in the bed and noticed someone sleeping there I hadn’t seen before. She had dark beautiful curls and an angel’s face. Without looking at the door panel, I knew the child was Remnia, the king’s daughter. In time, she would grow to be a great and strikingly beautiful queen, but the sleeping form I saw now couldn’t have been but a few years older than five.
She stirred again and I wondered if she felt my presence. Some could, but they were few. At the risk of waking her, I turned to leave, heading towards the king’s room when she sat strait up in her bed. She stared in my direction and for a moment I wondered if she could see me, though I wandered outside my body. Soon though, her gaze left me and she scanned the room for anything unusual.
“Who’s there?”, she asked nervously. As she did, her lips parted revealing two rows of perfectly flat teeth. I brought a hand up to my own jagged teeth and silently cursed the Gods, if they did exist, for making me this way. I left the scared princes alone in her room, hating her for her beauty. It was obvious why she resigned in a castle , while I often slept on the street, or in some musty dungeon.
I was slipping through the king’s slightly ajar bedroom door when I felt my body being shaken. I’d not found any hint of what I was looking for but there was no time . I snaked my way back down staircases, and through hallways, back to the cell.
Opening my eyes, I saw a distraught prison guard sitting over me. Thankfully, it was not the same one as before. This one, besides being much smaller in size, was also much younger. I could tell by his grip on my shoulders however, that despite his small size, he was very strong.
He looked worried, but I soon realized by searching his thoughts that this worry was for his own job and not for my well-being. I saw the worry melt from his face as I sat up.
Good, she’s not dead, he thought. He let out a long breath he’d been holding in and I rolled my eyes at his foolishness. Any other guard would have known what my unconscious state meant, what I’d been doing. His ignorance however, proved to be the only reason I’d not been killed while using my skill. I gulped and reached up to touch my neck, thankful to find no dagger there.
The boy mistook my gesture and was brought out of his trance. I felt my face redden as I realized he’d been staring at me.
“Are you thirsty?” he asked. “I’ve come to give you your last meal.”, he motioned to a cart of food in the corner of my cell. “You were asleep, so I thought I’d wake you up and give you a chance to eat before…” he paused, searching for the right words to describe what he thought would be my fate. “…before this afternoon.” he finished. “But you were out cold. I shook you for nearly a minute before you awoke.”
For a second he looked worried again, but this time when I tried to see why, his mind was closed to me. The look resigned on his face as he looked me over.
This kid obviously has no idea who I am, I thought. He looked at me as if I were any maiden walking the public streets. Could he not see the jail cell around me? That has to give him a clue.
“What is your name?”, I asked, after getting bored of watching him. Suddenly his posture became more erect and he announced in a serious tone of voice,
“I am Lithshem, son of Derious, apprentice of Accad, the greatest swordsmen in all the four kingdoms.” He stuck his chin out with pride, but I remained unimpressed.
Accad waists his time teaching this child, I thought. Suddenly, the boy gained a sense of authority that he’d not had before. “You think I do not know who you are.” he said with the same diminishing tone I’d grown accustomed to throughout my days of treasury. He smiled.
You are the thief, and the trickster that the Empire discusses in hushed tones, his thoughts rang in my head.
Bound by no rules, neither manmade nor those set before time existed by the gods, even doubting the gods’ existence. You write your own destiny, in which you are neither a leader nor a follower. You are hated by many of the Empire and hold a cruel beauty possessed by no other mortal. At this particular comment, I felt my face heat up again, but did not let my gaze waver from his.
You are a mystery of the night, Melloris. He finished. I could not speak. I tried to see into his thoughts, but he blocked me. Moments later he said, “I will report that you’ve used both your powers in my presence if you do not allow me to accompany you on your quest, whatever that may be.”
Was he serious? He wanted to join me? Forgetting to shield my thoughts from them, he easily absorbed them. His frown as he answered with a hint of anger and annoyance,
Yes, he is.
But why? You said yourself that I am no leader! You would surely die joining me on my self benefiting journey. Then I smiled. Wanting to scare him away I added, I would offer your neck to the empire before getting captured again!
None of these are worries of mine, he replied. It was rather amusing having this silent conversation with him. I’d never met another with my talent before, and he intrigued me.
For his own sake, I hoped he was trustworthy. If not there was ways of dealing with him that were of the most unpleasant sort. “I’ll tell you my plan.” I said cautiously, skeptical of his reasons for wanting to join me. “But once you know, you must join me, or die.”
Later that day I was led by half a dozen guards, into the king’s presence. I was being dragged by two men, with the other four standing nearby, ready to reach for their weapons if I tried to escape.
The king sighed from his high throne. “I give you on last chance, Melloris,” he pleaded me. “give up this game you play. Neither side benefits, neither you nor I.” He paused for a moment. “If you agree, you will be set free with none but a tainted record.” His voice was hopeful. He expected me to accept, I realized.
Foolishness, I though. A twitch of a smile made it’s way to my face, as I hid the sorrow that came to me when ever I saw this man. “I’ll agree to nothing!” I half screamed, then spat towards him.
“Be reasonable.” the king tried to say with a tome of authority, but it was still clear what he was doing.
Begging. I thought. The king of the third kingdom, was like a beggar at my feet. Hearing my thoughts, Lithshem smiles slightly, but not so much that any of the others noticed.
“You can fool all these people,” I gestured to everyone in the throne room. The king, squires, guards, scribes, subjects, and some others I could not identify. I then stared this mighty king strait in the eyes. “but you can never fool me.” I finished.
I saw fear in him. His thoughts came to me in a rush.
How much does she… she couldn’t possibly… but, Zala…
Suddenly it was if he remembered something important, and his thoughts went blank to me. Had he felt me in his head?
“Do you remember a time when you knew the nymph Zala?”
I asked. The fear in his thoughts then became evident on his face as he realized what I was saying. What I’d just confirmed that I knew.
“Kill he now!” the king yelled. The guards all moves towards me, but with his training, Lithshem had speed and power on all of them. He drew his sword, which shone a brilliant blue, and fought his way between me and the other guards. Two of the guards soon lay bleeding and unconscious on the floor, and already the other two are weakening. Everyone else in the room was screaming and running for cover. All but one scribe, who continued writing in all the madness.
In the chaos, I began making my way towards the door, but in one swift movement the king jumped from his throne, and came running, sword in hand, right towards me. Without much time to think, I used a power of mine I’d not quite perfected yet. Yelling, “dëjara!”, a burst of wind so strong it could be seen flowed from my fingertips. It knocked the king on his back. I looked at my own hands in amazement.
The king jumped to his feet, but in less than a moment, Lithshem had his strangely colored blue sword, at the kings throat. All was still, and with lighter’s protection, I felt free to speak again. “The nymph Zala had a child, did she not?” I asked the king. He now gave me the same glare I’d given him when I was brought to his castle against my will. “You sure you don’t remember her?” I asked in a tone I dare only spoke because Lithshem held him at bay. “Can you not speak?” I asked him, mocking him.
For a moment Lithshem looked at me, and the king, seeing he was not being guarded, in that one moment, pushed Lithshem to the ground. He did not move. I looked at his unmoving figure for a moment, then up at the king. He was less than an arms length from me, but I did not run. I felt the cold metal of his knife press against my throte, but was not afraid. “I loved Zala,” He said with such passion in his voice that his claim could not be denied. “And I’ll kill you if you say otherwise!” The room was quiet. I smiled despite hopelessness. Perhaps fate did exist, and mine was to die here in the castle, so close to achieving my goal. But then, a thought struck me.
“You would kill your own daughter?”, I asked, not caring whether I died or not. The room remained silent. The only noise that could be heard was the king’s heavy breathing, and the scribbling of scribal feathers.
For a moment I thought I would die right there, but then the king threw his knife to the ground and said, “No Melloris. No I can not.” He would not look me in the eye. “If I give you what you came for, will you leave this place and never return?”
“Yes.” I answered simply, not feeling in the mood to tell him my word was not something that could not be trusted. He sighed.
“As you wish.” Holding out a closed fist, he set the small treasure in my hand. I looked down to see my mothers necklace, made from ancient stone and all things magic.
The moment the smooth stone was in my hand, I felt power pulse through my veins, and felt my mother with me. Suddenly, a great light surrounded me, and I looked down at my white skin as it faded to green. When the light subsided, I was already running from the throne room, where the scribes were still recording the happenings of the day.
I ran out of the palace. My eye sight was changing. More colors came into view as I ran away from the four kingdoms. I ran with my mothers necklace, back to the forest where she had lived. I was one of her kind now, and I finally belonged somewhere…