fantasy, Short Story, World Weavers

A Changeling King

I dream of the world outside, of trees.

People say they are green, some say they are brown.

I think they are both.

Like I, both human and a monster.

I live below the dungeons, below the royal kitchen and way below the throne. That is where my family sits. Ruling over a whole kingdom hiding a secret.

I am their secret.

A maze created explicitly for a beast like I. A monstrosity concocted by my own mother and father. An accident. From birth, I was raised to be better, to be faster to be the best. A son worthy of a King, a God but I was neither.

So here I sit on a wooden stool throne, a disfigured prince in the centre of a maze, alone.

A murderer.

Every first day of a new month. A new group of young men and women shall enter my maze and get lost in my lovely home, lighted by nothing but torches that never die.

They would all be sliced open, turned inside out ripped into pieces to be put back together, a whole different creature. Only to feel suffering and pain, an experiment, like I.

If they fail in my parent’s eyes, they get tossed inside the maze with me, then die by my hands. The look of emptiness in their eyes, clouded with fury and disbelief.

The shock of the truth that they have become something they cannot comprehend.

Something they would spit on and kick around.

Disgusted with what they have become.

Today is the first day of a new month.

Steam and light escape my chest as I sigh, preparing myself. I feel tired.

I rise from my worn stool as a beautiful young woman walks into my room; the first to have ever reached the centre.

‘Oh, you are…’ she begins.

‘A monster.’ I finish.

‘Yes, but handsome.’ She walks in further unafraid and begins circling me.

I’m startled; no one has ever been so blatant.

‘I may be a monster, but I was like you once.’

‘A woman?’

‘No, that is not what I meant.’ I sit back on my stool.

She smiles, ‘A slave?’

‘No. I meant a person.’ I slam my hand on my table strewn with books. Golden mist puffing out.

‘Well, you would be the first person I met to say so.’

I look up at her curiously. ‘But aren’t women persons?’

She looks at me oddly and bursts into laughter. She has a beautiful laugh; you could feel it infect you. Making you smile, although you don’t understand why.

‘You are right, we are. But like the King, he sees us as decoration. Ornaments to be presented to the world. As objects to be used for pleasure and performers to ease their shortcomings.’ She drifts off, looking sad.

‘Well, I must be a woman then. Am I not being used as an object to make other kingdoms afraid of this kingdom?’

She walks up to me unafraid and touches the machinery that was half of my face.

‘I suppose we are neither man or woman but simply human.’

‘Monsters.’

‘Not all of us.’ She kisses my forehead then my lips. It sends a jolt through my body, sending me backwards onto the floor.

She peeks down at me biting her lips with guilt, but I see her eyes are glistening with humour.

‘Never been kissed?’

‘I do not look like something a person would.’

‘I did.’ She says shrugging.

‘You are different.’ The realisation sinks slowly in my chest.

I could not possibly kill her.

‘You must leave, escape.’ I say as I walk to her and pick her up carrying her over my shoulder.

She fights my hold but I only tighten it.

‘We will! Let me walk, I know the way, thank you!’

‘How could you possibly know?’ I walk through the maze, turning left, right, right, left straight and onwards and repeat.

‘Do you know where you are going?’ she asks, giving up on struggling and just going with the ride.

‘No, but I will find a way.’

‘I know the way.’ She whispers, frustrated.

I halt in my steps, unsure to believe her.

‘I have an invincible twine wrapped around my wrist…’ she begins.

I grunt in disbelief and keep walking.

‘I do! The king’s secret.’ she pauses hesitantly.

Did she know the king? My father?

‘You know the king?’

‘Yes.’ This was said barely in a whisper, shamefully.

‘He is my father.’ I say, shrugging nearly dropping her but I quickly catch her in my arms.

She looks up at me in my arms, studying my face.

‘I can see that, but you are not like him.’

‘I know.’ I growl, my father was a king while I was a monster.

‘No! I can feel you misunderstand what I meant. You are not like him, you are kind, brave and good.’ She then taps my nose like I was a child.

‘I am not any of those things. I am a monster. I have killed, murdered people. I can show you their bones, or you have already seen them on your brief stay here in my home.’

She remains silent; smiling up at me as if she knows something about myself I didn’t know.

I look up at the next turn to ignore her, but we encounter a group of men with swords drawn, and at the sight of me they charge.

‘Release the lady changeling!’ One shouts but I throw the said lady over my shoulder and with one swift brush of my metal; they all go tumbling to the ground unconscious. There was something odd about them. Their swords seemed melded to their hand, but that couldn’t be possible.

I could swiftly end their lives now. A single stomp and the blood would splatter the walls and ooze out their body. Innards barely enclosed in their chest.

‘Go left.’ Says her voice from behind. No gratitude at all from her. Who was this woman?

No wonder my father had thrown her here. She must have infuriated him.

No point arguing, she did seem to know the maze, I continue onwards following her every direction.

Oddly, I soon begin to smell a wet earthy scent in the air. I have never gotten this far since my rebellious teenage years. There had always been soldiers with lightning rods waiting for me.

Light falls through an open door. It was no light I have ever seen. It was not flickering like the torches that hung throughout my maze. It was like a white transparent veil shimmering down.

I walk swiftly through it feeling nothing but energy as I take my first step out of my home. My maze. My prison.

The world outside is shimmering under the light of a round object floating in the sky. It must be the moon I have read in my books. The light falls upon a valley. There was nothing but sticks poking out from the ground, covered with hundreds of leaves. Trees. I was looking at hundreds or thousands of trees.

‘You can put me down now, and you are welcome.’

I put her down, and she smiles at me smugly.

‘You are free.’

I am not. Though a thrill spreads through my body at the idea.

‘I cannot, I must return.’ ignoring the feeling.

‘Why?’ she takes my hand.

‘I cannot let them make any more monsters like me.’ I plead.

She comes close and hugs me.

She pulls away slightly.

‘You are not a monster; you are a better person than anyone I have ever met before. You could have eaten me, killed me, raped me, cut me into a million pieces, but you did not. Plus, I have read all the journals.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘They tried so hard to make you a mindless beast. A monster that you think you are but they failed, and they knew it.’ She presses her hand on the human side of my face.

‘You are free.’

‘They will make more of me of all the people inside. I have to kill them.’ I emphasise.

Tears slip down the corner of her eyes.

‘No, they will not.’

‘Yes, they will!’ I push her away. ‘I have seen all their experiments. I killed them all. The pain in their eyes was unbearable to see until death took them then I was free.’

‘You won’t have to do that anymore. Your mother and father, the king and the queen are dead.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I read all the details of what they did to you since you were a boy. Locked up and hidden from the world.

Unknown to the people, that they had a worthy king, a protector to their kingdom.

Their rightful king.

They were greedy, selfish and mad! They experimented on you so they could find a way to eternal life.

All it took was their own poison to destroy them.’

‘You poisoned my parents?’ I could not let her go now. She murdered my parents, as horrible as they were, they were family and King and Queen.

She shakes her head.

‘No, they killed each other, both wanted the throne for their own, and they both thought they had found a way to live eternally.

They never shared their secret with anyone, even each other. The night before I had been summoned to your father’s room. I found both the King and Queen on the floor dead.

Your people accused me and sentenced me to the Changeling’s Maze.

I believe they each sent a concoction of their creations to each other that night. To their own downfall.’

‘How can I believe you?’

She shrugs, ‘I’m just a girl, but I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe I am here to save a Future King.’

She comes close and taps my nose again.

‘That’s you by the way. Your people need you, time for a change! End the suffering, you know how that feels, and so do they.’

‘Who are you?’ I ask, confused, my whole life completely unravelling the moment she entered it.

‘Why would they follow me?’

‘You will understand once you get up there. Let’s go!’

We climb up the side of the castle through the jutting steps on the side like a secret pathway for spies.

We soon enter the castle hallways and see my greatest fear come true. All of the people were part machines like I am. However, theirs were mismatched and horribly done.

‘They had to sell their bodies for money. If they could not afford the high taxes your father set, they had to donate pieces of themselves.’

I was not alone. We were not monsters but survivors.

As if she could read my mind, she pats my arm gently like she was proud of me.

We walk to an entrance to a large courtyard. People have assembled there waiting for me, hearing of my presence.

There were even dogs with mechanical legs, horses with metal mouths and maids with shifting arms that turn from one kind of brush to another.

High lords with arms that shift into large metal shields. There were hundreds of them. I move towards them, drawn by mutual understanding. We were all the same.

They are all waiting for me to step out into the courtyard.

‘Go be a king.’

‘Who are you?’ I turn to her astounded by everything.

She smiles kindly, ‘I’m Kera, and we’ll see each other again, don’t worry.’

A shimmering portal appears behind her; through it, I see a bedroom with clothes strewn all over the floor. Odd objects I have never seen before, but I have not seen many things.

She scratches her head, ‘This was supposed to be a mysterious and epic goodbye exit but now that you’ve seen my room that’s a fail. Kind of messy, I know.’

I laugh for the first time, ‘You are a strange lady, Kera.’

She shrugs, smiling, ‘I know.’

She walks backwards and disappears.

I turn back to my people and walk out towards a new beginning.

‘It’s time for a change.’

 

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Across the Barrier, On-going Stories, Short Story

Across the Barrier Chapter Two

I burst out of the surface of the water. At my first gulp of air, I swallow a little water as a wave crashes on top of me. I propel myself back to the surface, but a hand grabs my ankle.

Dragging me through the murky water, the bubbles blurring my vision.

When it finally let’s go, I’m left floating in bubble residue.

Relax little one, or you’ll put yourself back to eternal sleep.  

I try to speak, but all I do is gargle salty water. I hear the mermaid elf’s chimes. She is laughing, but as the bubbles clear I see a naked old woman in her place.

I cover my eyes immediately and immediately hear the chimes, the naked old lady is the one laughing.

It is I, the one you call mermaid elf. I’ve transformed myself into my human form. Ack, I can still feel all my aching bones and muscles in the water.

I peek through my fingers, and the old lady wiggles her fingers my way. I notice she has the same catfish whiskers as the mermaid elf.

Comforts me to feel them. I do not like being in my human form. Bad history.  

How is she talking to me?

 In your head, of course, come on, let’s go up to the surface here. Earlier you would have been smashed against the rocks.

I look around, but I see no way we were anywhere near land. It was endless water on all sides. Returning back to the older lady whiskers to find she’s gone.

A hand grabs my shoulder from above and lifts me up through the water.

I break through the surface and get lifted through the air by a large dark skinned man. He holds me above his head, inspecting me.

‘I don’t see what is so special of this human boy. He is thin and fragile and looks like a seahorse. I could crush him into dust right now.’ The man squeezes my shoulder tightly, sure to leave a bruise or worse dislocate my shoulder, rendering me unable to swim. Bravo.

“Whoa, I only look small because you are enormous! Not fair to judge, don’t you think?’ I try to wiggle out of his grip, although looking down below me there is nothing but water.

Then I notice the man is standing on a transparent step that leads to a large round door the size of a cruise ship. It’s camouflaged against the sunset sky. We were surrounded by endless ocean at all corners except for a little island towards the east, not far away.

‘No point looking in that direction little Kampos, we are not going there, we are going in here.’ He carries me as he enters through the invincible doorway water lapping against his large log-like legs.

I am enormous and don’t you forget. If you hurt my mate, you are crushed into sand.

‘My love, stop scaring the boy. We need his help, try to be nice.’ The older lady had disappeared but is back, and this time she was dressed. Thankfully.

She is wrapped in a loose sheer white gown dusted with crystals that look like salt.

‘It’s not salt, it’s Stardust.’ The older lady pats her dress pleased with it.

‘It’s quite lovely; the Metiri women like to create them when the Astercentrum bursts. It leaves behind Stardust.’

I must be losing my mind. What the old lady was saying made no sense, and the fact I am dangling under the hold of a giant man as he walks through a crowded street in the middle of the ocean inside some kind of floating invincible city.

I think I died the second time, and I’m floating through the glass barrier lost forever.

All this had to be inspired by Luna, she did have an otherworldly look. Especially her glowing white hair and grey eyes that sometimes look silver. That makes sense. She always did inspire me. This city, not so realistic.

‘You are not dead little Kampos, you are in Metior, city of the fallen stars.’ The big man grins at me proudly like I should know what he was talking about.

The older woman pats my foot that is dangling dangerously close to her face.

Does that count as a danger to his mate?

They were somehow able to read my mind, the older lady moves a step away, and the man lifts me higher.

There was an advantage of being carried. Not like a baby mind you, more like a rat caught by the exterminator.

Metior City looks like the Egyptian and the Atlantean’s made babies and left them abandoned in the middle of the Ocean.

Everyone here was long but nimble and robust. Some had elongated ears like elf’s, just like the older woman. There were dark and light skinned folks with a few who had a mix of green and gold. Or maybe that was all makeup?

All the people look busy but happy. All protected under the invincible dome. Wouldn’t it be nice if Luna and I lived here? Get a little house on the edge far from other folks just enjoying the view of the ocean and sunset.

The man holding me starts chuckling.

I quickly erase it all and focus on my surroundings. Until I figure out what is happening. I’m supposed to be dead, but now I’m here. If this is a second chance to be with Luna. I will figure out a way to fly if I have too. I mean if this place exists. Surely I can fly.

The streets are clean; you could see the water streaming under the glass floors like jets of electricity.  There is another stream that intermingles with the water in its own current. It has a golden glow, like an endless stream of light. It’s intercrossing, a double network of energy. That must be what made the city work.

Some vehicles float inches from the ground, the golden light zigzagging across the top of the vehicles glass window, forming symbols like a code.

It’s all crazy, and it gets crazier.

We enter a large garden, and in the centre, I could see a large well where all the streams of light are flowing from.

Hooded figures surround the well chanting in a deep, haunting tune. Past the garden, we walk by buildings made of large crystal shards floating upwards in a cone-like formation.

The base looks like a massive fire was burning below the transparent floor. The entire base could fit four to five cars side by side.

As we move closer, I peek down and I see under the glass floor is a giant eye looking straight up at me. The pupil looking like a black hole. Symbols flash across its pupils and disappear. It follows us as we walk by it.

‘What is that?’ I point backwards, trying to look back over my shoulders.

‘That is Metior, Luna’s father.’

What?!

Second chances come with a price.

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fantasy, On-going Stories, Short Story

Across the Barrier Chapter One

It was too early. There is barely any light going through the parting in the curtain. The clock reads seven in the morning, and my girl still had time in that dream of hers.

Above her head, floating like a marshmallow cloud is a dream. She is dreaming of me. The house where we would live, close to some trees near the bottom of a mountain. My office full of paperwork right beside hers which is full of colours made up of drawings of the characters she dreams of. It was all a future waiting to happen.

Except it wasn’t.

Her silver-white hair splayed around her head like the moons glow on her pillow. Her nose is as cute as a button and lips meant for me to kiss for a lifetime.

But it isn’t.

Luna Gold was my girl. To the world, she was simply another girl in the crowd, but to me, she was everything. She was my future home, the mother of my children, the beautiful angel to walk down the aisle into my supposed life.

Forever.

But here I am, looking through what seems like a thick ocean wall of dark glass. I don’t know what this barrier is, but there were creatures on the other side.

There were long ones and short ones, ugly and beautiful beings swimming and floating around. My favourite I would say would be the silver finned fairy-like fish. It had a tiny body like a little elf, with long elongated ears; eyes like a cat but it changed colour sometimes like a mood ring.

It had a flat nose like a catfish with the whiskers too. It had a bottom body of a fish. It was pretty much like a mermaid elf with a flat face. It likes to smile at me through the glass, and it would watch Luna with me.  I want to think she understands how I feel; Luna was a whole world away, and I couldn’t touch her or say a word.

A farewell.

I lean against the glass barrier, an ocean between Luna and I. We were meant to have a life together. Our first child would be named Juan and if it was a girl, Uno. She hated those names. I thought it was clever.

I slam my fist against the glass.

Being dead sucked.

She is waking up, as her everyday routine, she groans and moans, tosses and turns. Her body and mind were waking up before the alarm would ring.

She wants to stay in the dream longer. I don’t disagree with her, we were kissing pretty heatedly. I would stay in the dream too if I could.

Even better, be there to actually kiss her.

The alarm rings and she snoozes it. Again, then again, until she has to rush out of bed, hit her toe on the corner of her cabinet and finally wake up due to the pain. Her first few words of the day were curses. She was amazing. Adorable.

I, of course, look away when she gets undressed and slip into the shower. I am no peeping Tom. So stop looking or imagining. Luna’s my girl.

I start to move away from the glass wall to give her space, but I’m stuck. Then I feel my body sinking in through the glass until with a pop I’m fully inside. The world is frozen.

I see the mermaid elf smile at me for a second. I wasn’t sure if it was a menacing smile, considering I may be about to die my second death stuck inside the thick glass barrier.

My vision begins to warp into a kaleidoscope of the mermaid elf’s face with Luna in the shower and the dark world behind me with other drifting souls. The colours begin to warp much faster, sliding into smaller pieces becoming unrecognisable images into a mirage of colours. While my body feels like it’s being dunked in and out of frigid ice water.

My body shivers, goose bumps form all over my body, and I could hear the chattering of my teeth but sound like hammers slamming at the same time to my ears. My vision moving fast but my body feels sluggish.

I could feel myself moving, but I could not see where I am going. Everything is white. There were plenty of scary creatures across the barrier now that I think about it. The eel-like creature with red scales and red eyes, sharp ebony teeth that look poisonous.

What about the creature that looks like an ugly mass of hair with twelve human-like eyes. I had called it ugly to its face, not sure if they could actually hear me through the glass. It could strangle me with its hair-like tentacles, but I feel nothing but cold pour down my back like liquid metal enveloping me.

My vision suddenly sharpens, the white is gone and replaced with murky water. I’m floating in front of the barrier; creatures swim past, ignoring me. No sign of the one I called ugly. Thankfully. I’d just crossed through the glass barrier, other spirits a blur through the thick glass I had been encased in.

I’m floating in water with the odd little fish creatures, am I on the bottom of the ocean floor?

I notice the mermaid elf is now meters away, she is watching me. She points towards the direction where I had seen Luna through the glass. I could no longer see Luna, it was an endless open ocean.

I tried to speak to the mermaid elf, but there were only black bubbles coming out of my mouth. The mermaid elf laughs at me, it sounded like sharp piercing chimes to my ears.

She points again towards where Luna’s life had been projected. She swims towards the direction she had directed, and I follow.

We enter a current; I could not swim against it if I tried. The mermaid elf chimes as she rides the current. Her scales creating a sort of haunting tune.

I try to look behind me, but I no longer see the glass barrier. Looking forward, I see memories of life itself as it unfolds. It was like a lifestream. The current a tunnel.

I could see different people’s lives, little children dressed in rags as they play on dirty streets while a band practises right behind them. An old lady carrying a basket of food on top of her head as she crosses the road.

The stream changes again but it was in the artic. A polar bear so thin it looks like a ghost was walking alone in the vast emptiness of clean white snow. The lifestream shifts to a pretty little girl sitting on a bed. She is dressed all pretty like she was going to a birthday party but a sleazy old man enters the room, and if one were not looking, they would have missed the tear that slides down the girl’s cheek.

The lifestream shifts and then I see my family, they were at home sitting around the table eating. I realise I barely contacted them. A deep pang of regret twinges in my chest.

Flashes of different peoples life flash in the lifestream, but one meant more than anything.

Then I see the light.

The beginning of a second chance in life in the unlikeliest form.

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