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.”
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?”
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.