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.’

 

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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.”

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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, The Faceless Queen, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen Part IV

The Enchantress, the queen, disappeared after the King’s death without a word.

As it was foretold, I ruled Eydollon.

The kingdom fell into chaos, it had never had a female ruler but I proved them I was capable.

King Ubel of Uvelin marched his men to my kingdom but before they could enter the outskirts of Eydollon, I raised a mighty wall that rose so high it touched the sky.

King Ubel sent his Skotos, creatures of shadows, but when they touched the walls they exploded into dust and transformed into little people made of glowing dandelion seeds.

King Ubel’s army left.

A war was prevented and most of my people submitted under my rule.

I say most for there are those, like my father, who believed a man best ruled a kingdom.

Even though of the undeniable proof.

Until today.

The next morning Kera comes to my table and greets me cordially as I answer letters from the nobles.

I could sense she found the book interesting but why was her mood so good. When the enchantress had given it to me I too had found it thrilling but it never changed my mood.

It told of myths and legends about the Shinkami. A fiery spirit folk that travelled to all corners of the world.

Beings with the power to harness the particles of energy.

“Thank you for the book, it was as you said an interesting read.”

“It was a book my stepmother gave to me. I like the story of Himiko, she ruled her lands at the age of fourteen and was respected for defeating the Kunoa who was turned into a hog.”

Kera laughs, “Yeah, I remember that one. She is a little like you I guess. You’re pretty young too to be ruling.”

“I am twenty years old. I have watched my father rule since I took my first breath. I am sure I can handle it.”

I nudge the sleeping energy in the the book. It quivers in her hand. I beckon it towards me and catch it.

Her eyes grow round.

“I never meant you couldn’t, I know you’re pretty badass, I mean you can do that, for one thing, as well as the other thing.” She says.

“What badass other thing do you mean?” I ask also wondering what that strange word meant. How did a bad donkey connect to my manipulation of the energy particles.

Kera begins to bite her lower lip and wipe her hands on her dress, she was obviously hiding something. It was likely related to the Misty she calls in her sleep.

I sigh.

I stand and turn from my desk to view my kingdom through a round glass window that touched the ceiling to the floor.

“Tell me Kera, would you follow a blind leader?” I ask.

“If she was as clever as she was powerful.” She replies instantly.

I laugh, “Do you think they would?” pointing towards my people.

She moves around the table and stands beside me looking down.

“You know, honestly, I don’t think you’re a bad guy. I think you’re just afraid to be who you are. If you keep letting yourself rule by fear, soon it will come back at you way worse.”

The room grows uncomfortably silent as I absorb her words, but who was she to say so. She had never ruled and my father had, he knew what his people expected. They needed a queen with a face. I needed to be normal.

I wanted to be normal.

“You may leave, perhaps head down to the metropolis for the day and gather what you need for the trip tomorrow.”

(Catch Part V of the Faceless Queen tomorrow!)

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