Across the Barrier, fantasy, On-going Stories, World Weavers

Across the Barrier Chapter Three

‘I don’t like you.’ Luna’s Father’s voice was deep and gravelly.

He was also tiny. Considering moments ago, he had an eye the size of a whole roundabout.

‘Nice to meet you too, sir?’

Metior frowns at me and turns away to the old lady mermaid elf and the large dark skinned man.

For his tiny frame, he had a lot of white hair puffing around his head like fried wire. Thin frame under a baggy dress like garment covered with dozens of pockets in different sizes.

We were inside what looked like a church, but instead of pews, there was large scientific looking equipment.

He walks towards the front of the building beckoning the misfit group we were to follow him.

At the front where an altar could have been was a round door on the floor. The door opens upwards but there is no ladder or secret passageway but a misty portal sparkling.

He jumps in without a word and the others follow. I stand there pondering what I have gotten myself. If being dead was really that bad for this hallucination was getting out of hand.

A knobbly hand pops out of the portal, making it transparent, and I could see the other side of it. There was an ordinary home with a table, chairs, carpets, a fridge and a regular looking kitchen stove, not a fire pit or run by water or glowing electricity.

The hand grabs my leg and pulls before I could hop into the portal.

In seconds I’m in a familiar world. I was in the dining room beside an open kitchen. The side of a staircase rose in front of the dining area, its side wall covered in paintings and photographs.

The large man was tinkering in the kitchen with the old lady helping out.

I found myself sitting on the floor under the dining table on top of a worn carpet looking at the wobbly knees of Luna’s father sitting on a dining chair.

‘If you would like to remain there and be fed scraps, I would be glad to do so.’

I crawl out from under the table, he points at the seat beside him.

‘Your name, boy?’ He picks up a tablet and begins scrolling through it.

‘I’m Ben Hart, Sir.’

‘Yes, I see that, a college graduate with a degree in business. No pursuit in life, I see.’

He was not exactly wrong; I had never really gotten to choose my life’s purpose. Simply followed my parent’s orders.

‘Dabbled in being a pilot. The irony. How long have you known Luna?’ his voice drops into a whisper at the point he mentions her name.

‘For nearly five years, we had been friends at work.’

‘Luna would never have worked in a corporate company, it would have bored her.’ He admonishes.

Which was right, she found it utterly dull and had begun a little trade on the side of her own creating jewellery from scraps. Hoping to quit from a large company that she thought only cared about profits.

‘She was, eventually creating an online Jewellery shop.’ I say, he nods his head but as he opens his mouth a girl’s voice interrupts him.

‘Well hello Metior, Darya, Kai and stranger; Good morning!’

The girl was Luna’s age, but she had a wild look to her while Luna looked docile and sweet.

I stand to introduce myself, ‘Hi, I’m Ben Hart.’ I stick my hand out, and she laughs. She pats my hand and walks past me to the kitchen.

Hello Ben, I’m Kera. You don’t look like from another world. What could Metior want with you?’

She plugs in the water kettle and begins heating up water. Takes out a cup from a cabinet and wiggles a mug my way. I nod my head.

‘Thank you, I never thought I would get to drink coffee again.’

Kera shuts the cabinet and gives me a shocked face, ‘Coffee? What’s coffee?’

I look at Metior, and he shakes his head, ignoring the situation and continues to read from his tablet more about my life or me with Luna, I’m unsure.

Kera laughs, ‘Just kidding, I’ve been to three or four worlds now. I am always glad to come home for some coffee. They don’t seem to have it anywhere there. Which is crazy, I know.’

‘Worlds?’

She squints at me then at Metior.

‘He is from across the Barrier, nowhere else.’ he mumbles.

Her eyes go round, ‘I see why he needs the coffee. If I died, I would need ten cups.’

She quickly mixes the instant coffee for both of us and sits beside me, passing me a cup.

‘Well, what was being dead like?’ She gets comfortable with her elbow on the table with her chin cupped in her hand.

‘Nothing. Just emptiness.’ She nods her head, ‘Sounds deep.’

‘Sort of, cause I could see deep see fishes on the other side of this glass barrier. That’s where I saw Darya as a mermaid elf.’

She laughs out loud, ‘Darya! How come he got to see you in your original form? So jealous, right now!’

Darya slams a wooden spoon on the pan, ‘you will see it one day little Kera, do not worry.’ Darya seemed to be making scrambled eggs while Kai was tossing some sausages in the air. For a mermaid elf and a giant, they were quite comfortable in the kitchen.

Kera shrugs admittedly, ‘I’m sure we will, I just can’t wait to go to Metior though.’ She sips her cup, missing the glance Darya sends to Kai and Metior whose eyes stopped for a second scanning the tablet.

Kera gets up and heads to the kitchen to grab something lost in thought.

Kera looks ordinary, long curly dark brown hair with almond sharp light brown eyes on an oval, round face with a button-like nose and small plump lips. She returns from the kitchen with a slice of brownie.

‘Would you like some? Got to live in the moment, you never know when they’ll suck you through a portal and into a world with nothing but cold raw rabbit meat from a hunt.’

That was a little specific.

Kera chuckles, enjoying my awkward discomfort.

‘Just kidding, but it could happen. It happened to Misty.’

A groan comes from the staircase. Large male feet appear slowly going down the steps. He was lanky, dressed in a crumpled white t-shirt and black pants.

‘Hello, Misty, how was your sleep?’ Kera asks sweetly.

The boy enters the dining room space with messy black hair streaked with silver. He had bright ocean green eyes that now stared daggers at Kera.

‘When will you stop calling me that?’ He growls.

He looked exhausted, he had stubble that could be days old and dark shadows under his eyes. His clothes looked slept in and dirty like he hasn’t changed in days.

‘Ben Hart, Mr Grouchy over there is Lucian also known to me as Misty. He’s a partner in crime of a sort.’

‘More experienced than you, but you act like a know it all.’ Lucian passes by without a glance my way to the kitchen and makes himself a cup of coffee.

‘I like being better.’ Kera says smugly sipping her own.

‘Still can’t transform though.’ Lucian smirks.

Kera rolls her eyes, ‘I’ve been to more places than you.’

‘Enough.’ Interrupts Metior, just as Darya and Kia place breakfast on the table.

Lucian slips into the seat opposite me next to Metior while Darya and Kia take up the remaining two places.

I realise that in this world Darya and Kai seem unable to read my mind. I smile for the first time feeling comforted.

We can all hear your thoughts. That was Kera in my head.

We’re just being polite and try to ignore it.

Try imagining a barrier of a sort covering your thoughts.

Like a bubble around you.

In my head, she sounds kinder and gentler, less loud, a little like Luna.

I create an impenetrable wall surrounding my mind, like the barrier I had fallen through.

Can you hear me now? 

There’s no answer.

‘Let us eat,’ began Metior.

Kera smiles at me, making Lucian frown a little.

‘We shall reunite Luna with Ben today. Once together, I shall finally bring you to Metior City. It is time you learn your prophecy’s.’

Kera glances at Lucian, I could sense something between them. An understanding.

Luna, we’re coming.

Standard
Short Story, fantasy, 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.’

 

Standard
fantasy, Novel, On-going Stories, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen XI

Aurora struggles against the black mass tightening around her waist. She begins to chant under her breathe but the old man sends a thin slithering mass of the mist over her lips.

It was not Aurora he was looking for. It was Kera. I quickly unwind the strands of my ring and release the Leukos strands into the air. They were of light perhaps against this darkness they too could be used. The Leukos are automatically drawn towards the black mass.

As their light meets the mist’s darkness, it begins to sizzle and burn at the edges like paper. The old man roars and nearly drops Aurora.

The Leukos strands begin to multiply creating holes through the dark cloud and bodies begin to drop through it to the floor.

Dark tendril begins to wrap around my waist, but at contact with my skin, it begins to burn away too.

The old man becomes furious, his body shaking you could hear his bones rattle. He drops Aurora without care, but she falls slowly like a feather.

The old man begins to collect what is left of his black mist sucking it into himself. His eyes fill up with blackness.

He glares at Aurora at the same time he begins to create a doorway in the middle of the air.

“I will be back Weaver.” He walks immediately through his portal and is gone.

My Leukos return slowly back to be reforming back into my ring.

I move towards Aurora but she waves me off.  “I am fine. The Leukos is a nice touch by the way.” She smiles at me weakly, but she was proud.

“I had to try something.” A hint of a blush creep up my neck, I hide it as I move to Kera and the girl.

Both are fine and had slept through it all. I touch Kera’s forehead gently and slowly I feel her face slipping off mine, I follow it’s energy enter me and through the cord that we weaved last night. Her face fades back to its proper place.

Aurora comes to my side. “He’s after her you know. She is the weaver.”

“Who was he and what is a weaver?” I ask as Kera’s eyes begin to flicker open.

“He lives in-between spaces, said to have been exiled there by the Gods. Somehow, he’s found a way to enter our world-”

“Woah, what happened in here?”Kera sits up and looks around the room. I follow and see multiple bodies lying in puddles of black water. Just as my room door opens and a crowd of people walk in.

Joaquin amongst them goes straight to Aurora who pats his comfortingly on the chest. “I’m fine Joaquin. Alessa saved me.” His face crumples with guilt, “I’m sorry,” he begins but she simply covers his mouth with her hand.

“No apologies boy, she did it for Kera not me. I know you would have done the same for me.” At these words, Kera looks at me confused.

“What happened exactly? I just remember blacking out.” She slides off the bed and stands next to me.

I grab her hand and squeeze it gently. “I’m glad you are back.”

I turn back to the crowd as a little girl groggily rises on up on her short legs.

“Father?” Then I see King Ubel push against the crowd. He rushes towards the little girl and lifts his daughter into his arms. A sight I never thought I would see.

There had been no news of his daughter’s existence.

Aurora smiles at the sight, “His daughter has been missing before you were born. Hopefully with her around change will come to Uvelin.”

Similar scenes occur throughout the room as some families are reunited.

It gets even more crowded as the Evergreen emissaries enter with their Head Priest who looks straight at me and Kera.

“I apologise to all, the enemy had broken through the islands barrier but I see we have new guests coming home. Please follow your emissaries and they will provide anything you need. We shall commence our meeting in due time.”

The crowd dwindles away as the Head priest walks our way.

He bows as he greets me, “Your Highness, we apologise to have your sanctuary be punctured by so much negative energies. I will have it cleansed. Perhaps if you all could follow me?”

He turns and walks away without waiting for our replies. Young acolytes enter with bowed heads as we leave.

He pauses as I catch up to walk at his side while Aurora, Joaquin and Kera follow behind.

“The girl who still sleeps, will she still be needed?” He begins to walk again.

“No, she may return to her family.”

“I’m afraid that would not be possible. She has been touched by the dark, and we will need to examine her.” I turn to him, “she has been infected?”

He nods his head. “Her soul has been replaced with a minion. We will see what we can do. Kera would have been infected too but your little light friends the Leukos seemed extra protective of her.”

“How do you know?”

“I was not there, but I can see it for it has past. As I entered that room, I have seen the past echoes of the energies movements like memories.”

“So you’re like a psychic.” Kera comments.

The head priest laughs, “In a way, yes like the psychics in your world I suppose is as close as it gets.”

Kera’s eyes widen, but before she could say anything, he waves it off. “People from other worlds vibrate at a different level.”

He brings us into a small chamber.

He turns and beckons us to sit on the available chairs.

“I’ve told you that I can see the past, people’s energies echo through time. Most don’t see it but there are some like I who are given this gift. Then there are those who can see the paths that come in the future.

Many lines are moving towards the future, and one remains constant in the battle we will soon enough face and it is Kera.”

All eyes turn to her.

“Kera your story is unfolding.”

 

 

The Faceless Queen will be on hold, future adventures to come but for now, we move towards other characters to widen the world a little bit more. 

Standard
fantasy, Novel, On-going Stories, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen X

I had not killed her, but the pull was stronger. Whatever had happened had sucked us into a vortex of each other’s minds and memories. I could feel and hear her like she was right next to me even though she was in the separate room. She admitted to feeling the same connection. Constantly asking questions of the faces she sees. Hardest of all was Flora.

I walk into the main room as two of my men enter. They held a young girl who is obviously frightened. Kera looks at me with a confused look.

“I thought you have accepted you?” She said it like it was so easy.

“I can’t meet the other rulers as I am. They will judge me incompetent, and I don’t need Eydollon to hear about it.”

Strangely, as I looked at the girl, I felt no pull at all. I craved Kera’s energy.

“Kera you need to leave,” I say this as I fight the pull that grows stronger.

“No, I won’t let you do this to yourself anymore. I know you hate it and every time you do it you despise yourself even more. Your father should have loved you as you are!” She blocks my way as I head to the girl.

“Kera please, you don’t understand. Whatever happened to us last night has made my powers erratic and extremely bonded with you. I may kill you.” I brush past her but it was all I had to do with the touch of our skin, she falls to the ground faceless.

The girl begins to scream and fight against the guards hold.

My stepmother bursts into the room with Joaquin as I go on my knees to help Kera, but her face stares up at me empty.

My stepmother mumbles a few words under her breath and the girl stops screaming and faints. She points at the bed, and the guards lay her there.

“We come to pick you up only to find magic blasting through the air.”

Kera lay on the ground as if she were sleeping. Her chest rose and fell. She is alive, and no girl before have lived after.

“Go to the meeting, I will stay with her to find out how this is happening.”

Joaquin takes my arm into his, “She will solve this little mystery. For now, it’s time you met the other leaders of Eludemare.”

As I step out of the room, I want to go back to Kera, something didn’t feel right.

Halfway down the hall, I stop.

“Don’t you feel it?” I turn to Joaquin who tilts his head like he is listening to something.

“Something is disturbing the Evergreen.”

“We have to go back.”

Joaquin pulls me back to him away from my room.

“She’s just a girl, are you risking your kingdom’s place for her?”

It felt like a slap to my face. “My Kingdom is my priority, I’m sure the other rulers can wait for a few more minutes.”

I push past him and quickly head back to my room. As I enter, I catch sight of a massive black tar-like liquid floating in the air, and an old wrinkly crooked man stood over my stepmother controlling it.

While Kera lay asleep next to the other girl, who was still out cold, both oblivious to the nightmare that floated nearby.

Screams came from the dark mass, wretched faces stretched against it trying to claw their way out. Joaquin quickly steps in front of me, but the old man did not notice us at all.

“Hello again Aurora, it has been many years since my eyes fell upon such beauty.”

“Leave, you are not welcome here.”Aurora stands up stiffly moving away from the bed.

“Oh but aren’t all the little powerful rulers here to discuss what I created?” The dark cloud slowly moves around the old man and Aurora like it was alive. Tendrils stretching out towards Kera, and the girl like it was curious.

“Leave her alone old man.”  I push past Joaquin and face the old man.

“Ah, the faceless queen what a pleasure to meet you! I see you’ve just donned a new face. Quite pretty indeed.”

“What do you want?” I demand.

“Aurora! Your little apprentice is quite rude and boring.” He says looking offended as he wraps the mist around Aurora’s waist lifting her up in the air.

Aurora looks down at Joaquin, “Get out of here. Warn the others.” Joaquin hesitates but obeys, leaving immediately.

The old man only cackles. “Dumpling boy won’t make it! Come now Aurora, as much time as I have, I rather be gone from this place. Gives me quite the itch. Tell me, where did you learn the weaver’s magic? I sensed it here.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Standard
fantasy, On-going Stories, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen IX

A room away I could hear her crying. The sky must have felt her heart aching and had broken open, shedding gallons of tears into the Evergreen. The droplets slid down the crystals like they were tears streaming down her cheeks.

I groan rising off the bed, I go to the hot spring farther away from Kera.

I’ve sent out my men to find a willing sacrifice for a face, a high price in return would be given. A part of me hopes they find no one while the other fears if they don’t I would see my fathers ghost haunt me in the meeting with the other leaders.

Another voice whispers with Kera’s face in my mirror’s reflection. I shudder at the thought; Flora was a friend that once haunted my reflection. Months with her face looking back at me. The whispers in the hallways of the castle echoed with judgment, fear and worst of all, pity.

The doors of the hot spring open. It’s Kera with puffy eyes lost in her head.

I rise from the hot springs to go making her notice me. She stumbles backwards tripping over her nightgown.

“I’m sorry, I’ll go I thought you were asleep.”

“It’s fine, I am done.” I climb down the Hot spring steps fully naked. She turns her back to me.

“I’m sorry.” She mumbles.

“Sorry?” A little of the fury that wiped my face away earlier in the day unfurls inside me.

“As you say I am like the king of Uvelin, I’m sure I should steal your face this moment as punishment.”

I see her wince.

“You’re not like him. I’m just…” Kera begins to sob fighting it.

“I am a monster, there is nothing to be sorry for.” I move towards her slowly.

“I never hid it from you.”

She turns and hugs me. “I’m really sorry.”

She gazes up at me, and I could feel my power hungry to wipe her face away. To make it mine.

I struggle to free myself from her, but she holds me tighter.

“Let me go, I don’t want to hurt you.” But she won’t let go.

“I know you won’t do it.” She pleads.

A blaze spreads through my body enveloping both of us.

Something in my core begins to thread with hers like a gentle pulling and intertwining. Our souls were interweaving into something I have never done before.

I try to fight it afraid I’m killing her. I struggle fighting harder, but the more I pushed, the heavier the hold.

The fire burns out of our body making the whole hot spring room even more humid. The fire reflects upon the crystals in the trees making it look like it too was on fire.

Flashes of our memories intermingle in my mind.  Kera could see my childhood memories with Flora, my mother and father and my stepmother. While I could see her own, sitting on the floor crying in a corner with wires coming out of her ears.

A final tug and we both sink to the floor crying.

“Am I dead?” she looks around blinking plenty.

Relief spreads through me, I hadn’t killed her but what had happened?

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fantasy, On-going Stories, Short Story, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen VIII

I was raised to be oblivious of the world around me. It was easier to bend me to the will of my father and his court. I had spent my youth playing dress up with beautiful gowns and hiding in my room in self-pity.

Now I sit in the Evergreen Library and I feel foolish.

Eydollon has a massive library bigger than the whole of the Evergreen compound but I had never thought to explore it further than Eydollon’s history and laws. I was conforming myself to past beliefs.

Here the books about the other parts of Eludemare are beyond that I could believe. Kera beside me is as astounded.

“Holy Moly there’s such thing as shapeshifters here. There’s this Cateline that’s rumoured to have turned a fox into a shapeshifter. How cool is that?!”

I roll my eyes. Ever since she had begun reading the books along with me she had lowered her guard down and exposed she was not from Eydollon for I had been to every part of my kingdom and her accent and way of speaking was not from any part. However, the way she read about the rest of Eludemare she seemed unaware of its existence as much as I.

Oddest of all, she had the ability to read the texts of all the different languages although never being to the places.

“Kera, where are you from?” she freezes and looks up to me uncertain what to say.

She sighs, “Here.”

“I’ve read about dragons, shapeshifters, Jinn’s, floating cities, reincarnated Gods what can’t you possibly say that could shock me further than that. I already know you are not from Eydollon.” I slam the book I’m reading shut on the table in frustration.

“I don’t know if I can tell you. One thing I will say though is, I’m here to help you somehow.”

“I’ve seen in your mind you are from another world.”

“Since we’re being honest and prying into each other’s faces, I hope I wasn’t sent here to be sacrificed to be your next face. It’s not that pretty anyway.” Kera rises to walk away but I pull her towards me.

She tries to fight, eyes growing round and frightened. I was growing tired of her rebelliousness and fear.

I grab her shoulders tightly and look deep into her eyes like the other girls she’s seen me take their faces. I could feel her shaking but she defies herself from uttering a sound.

“I made you my servant because I could not take something you are unwilling to give. Have I not proven I would not hurt you. Why must you make it so hard to become a friend?”

“You want to be friends? Would you be friends with the King of Ubel after finding out he turned his court into the Skotos?” I let her go like I was burnt. She saw me equal to that of King Ubel.

She immediately begins to apologize but I throw her out of the library with a brush of my hand slamming the library doors shut at her face.

I could feel my inner fire burning out of my skin and the face of the latest girl burning off at the edges.

I was a monster but not like the King of Uvelin that I knew.

My old true senses returning slowly, my ordinary human senses burning away.

How could I have been so blind to think someone could be my friend.

A hand grabs my arm and I try to shake it off but it holds firm tightly.

If i did not stop the fire I would be faceless to the rulers tomorrow. I could not find a willing sacrifice in time.

“Don’t fight it.” It was the voice of the man her stepmother had brought to introduce me.

“Let go of me. You don’t understand!”

“I do, I was abandoned in the streets of Uvelin to become an odd faceless boy child serving a provincial lord. He used my powers to feed him an endless supply of dumplings.”

“Dumplings?” The fire inside me snuffs out, wisps of it flicker out the tips of my fingers and hair.

The man chuckles letting my arm go. “Long story short, I had been caught on the street creating a dumpling out of thin air. I was hungry.”

I couldn’t help imagine a scrawny little boy with dumplings before him only to be disturbed by men to take him to the provincial lord.

“I wasn’t that scrawny, I was only caught because I had gotten greedy and hadn’t been careful. I usually eat in the safety of an abandoned church cellar.” As he says this I could see it in my mind from his perspective. He was sharing his memories with me.

“We can do that? Share memories?” I ask creating a barrier in my mind.

“Yes, only in our true form. No need to build a wall against me, I would not pry if not invited.”

“But I could see into Kera’s dreams without her permission.”

“She is not like us. We mustn’t share our gifts with others. They may take advantage of it.”

“Kera is different.”

“I know.”

The man sits down in Kera’s seat and beckons me to sit down.

I look around and the world around me feels different, I could not help feeling relieved to have my senses undiluted but I could not stop seeing my father’s judging and disapproving eyes.

I look back at the man and I notice he looks different. He was naked but for bright orange flames flickering around the edges with darker swirls across his body covering the important sections.

I could feel a flush rise up to my face if I had one.

“What you see is my true form as I see you since we have met. although right now you seem to be a little pinkish like you were blushing.”

“What are we?” ignoring his comment.

“You know the answer to that, your stepmother has shared our people to you. Well, half of our true people. We were born in human form, encased. While they are in their true form entirely.”

“You’ve met them?” I sit in disbelief.

“I have travelled around Eludemare, looking for others like us. There are many, taking many different forms of work to use their unique abilities. You are the only other person with a similar ability to create from our energies.  Most of our kind have simple abilities and are kind and humble while there are those who are angry and hunger for more power. We are no different from human folk in terms of greed.”

“I meant the true versions of the Shinkami, you have met them?”

He nods, “I met one in my travels, he was quite arrogant but he says no human or half Shinkami can enter their domain. I have yet to try.”

The library grows quiet. I look at the clock and see that time had moved on quickly. It was time to go back to my quarters.

“I think I better get back to check on Kera.”

The man stands and holds his arm out. “I’ll walk you.”

“I’m Joaquin by the way.” He says as I hook my arm with his.

The library doors open.

“People call me the Faceless one back home.” Joaquin chuckles, “Your real name?”

“I’m Alessa.”

Kera stands at the door looking forlorn as she looks up her face turns to amazement.

I look through her eyes and I too am speechless.

We look formidable.

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fantasy, On-going Stories, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen VII

We reach Seers Island in a few days; It was a large island with a magnificent port which was filled with many different kinds of ships. The other dignitaries from the farther reaches of Eludemare had already arrived.

We travelled through pristine villages until we reached a forest unlike I have ever seen. The trees were not made of leaves and wood but were of glass and crystals. The leaves of every tree were different in shape and size. Some had orbs dangling from its silver branches clouded with smoke. Some were green gems shaped like leaves.

In a large clearing in the centre of the forest was a massive flat structure with only two levels made of glass. The top level was a large circular room that could fit a hundred men and the bottom level seemed to stretch across the whole of the clearing, which was likely to be the rooms. We could see figures roaming inside but were like smudged forms shifting into different shapes as a figure walked by.

The entrance had a large arch that was covered in carvings of figures in robes.

As we went down the carriages, seers dressed in silver white robes welcomed us and led us to our rooms.

I was brought to a large round room with a circular bed at the centre. Books on shelves lined the window ledge.

There were two doors to the left of the entrance of the room. One was to a passageway to a single hot spring where a ledge was littered with soaps and ointments, there was no ceiling, and it opened up to the glass treetops and the sky.

The other door was to a smaller room but similarly designed. A round bed at the centre with the walls of the room covered with shelves full of books and items. There was no window but the ceiling was a glass dome facing the crystal forest treetops.

“Wow, if I had a room like this back home I would never leave.” Kera reacts to her quarters.

“The Seers do seem to have a certain elegance. Their art is also interesting.” I say pointing to a painting hanging in my chamber.

It was a painting of an enormous white dragon, its wings stretched out wide, hovering over a village while below the village was like a mirror reflection of the white dragon except it was black.

“I have never seen this painting before, or an illustration of this in my books. There has never been a dragon sighting in decades.” I say.

Kera laughs, “So there are dragons here to huh?”

“Yes, there are stories that a kingdom long ago was ruled by a dragon who transformed itself into a man,” I say as I remove my cloak, longing for the hot spring water waiting for me in another room. It is said to have magical properties.

Before I could say another word or have a thought, a knock comes from the door. I nod to Kera to take it.

It was Matheus with a letter from Eydollon, which I ask Kera to read.

“It’s from Grand Duke Florent. He is just letting us know everything is alright and hoped that you had a safe journey.”

“Write to him, let him know we have arrived safely and thank him too. I’ll be in the hot spring; you can go after I am done. The springs here are known to have magical properties of healing.”

She nods as she unpacks our trunks to find the letter paper.

Tomorrow was the day I would face the leaders across Eludemare for the first time.

I must be ready for them and learn more about them. That would be my priority for this evening. First, the blanket of a warm healing spring to soothe my aching body. Maybe even heal my inability to keep or have a face.

I enter the hot spring slowly. It is deliciously warm and I could feel a tingling feeling spread throughout my body.

I hear a knock on the front door. I hear Kera open it and start arguing with whoever entered.

The springs own doors bursts open and at the doorway stood my step-mother.

“I see you still wear a face. ” Behind her, a man dressed elegantly in a dark ash grey suit stood his back facing towards me.

“I’m sorry to hear about your father, although he was not the kindest towards you. With that aside, I have someone you must meet.” she turns to introduce the man but he keeps his back facing towards me.

“I think it’s best we wait for the Queen to finish with her bath don’t you think?”

My stepmother laughs.

“Don’t be modest, I think you’ve seen her already in all her glory the moment she entered the Evergreen with your senses so enhanced by the crystals

The man turns around and I see he is faceless. At the edges of his face flames dance, tinged with a pinkish hue like a blush.

He’s like me. I could feel my hands clench with fear and embarrassment.

“Leave,” I command.

My stepmother hesitates but the man tugs her out as Kera apologises and closes the door.

I sink into the spring water as far down as I could go to cover my face.

There is a change in the air and I could not help feeling I am far from being in control of it.

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