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

The Faceless Queen VI

“The Evergreen is a land of equality and peace. New and old leaders must follow its customs.” begins Matheus explaining the different leaders to be present at the Evergreen.

In the southeast of the whole of Eludemare, there is the new leader of the Narci people. Once they had been a scattered mass of animist warriors but now ruled by a Sultan named Kol.

Then at the south with the longest distance to travel were the Gonds. A Raja is what they called their King. He is known for his pet Jinn. It is said to have immense powers. To gather all his people under his rule he had let it rain liquid gold, turning their rooftops and roads into gold.

The Raja had rebels but they were transformed into senseless beasts called Kapre, creatures that live inside of trees, afraid to be found and caught by the Raja.

In the Northwest was the Ferou of Afru Ikay. Her people believe her a Goddess reincarnated. She and her people lived on islands that float atop the Kuntor mountain range. Their skins are well known for being as dark as ebony and eyes that glitter like precious stones. Their skin is lined with embedded drops of their chosen precious stone; each drop was a challenge overcome and achieved.

While at the north end of the Eludamare, a kingdom was split in half between siblings. On the northwest was Harr Agatha. Harr was their term for ruler. They were a tall and large people with skin white as snow, hair darker than the sky at night. They were known to be fierce ice warriors.

Harr Agatha’s brother on the Northeast was Athoshen Kalfu, the immortal emperor. Their father had split the land in two for he loved both his daughter and son equally. He was a powerful man for it is said that he held parts of the souls of all that had become the Athoshen. Their wisdom locked in the crown.

It was going to be an interesting gathering I think.

We reach the port of Uvelin, all our belongings brought on board the Evergreen ship quickly.

Matheus happily disappears with the other emissaries from Evergreen.

Kera and I join the crowd aboard the ship. It was loud with no help from crewmen shouting at each other trying to shout over the dignitaries’ conversations.

It seemed King Ubel had invited more than himself. Noblemen dressed in flashy high collared black suits surround him.

While in-between them the royal family of Gayala mingles smiling cordially.

“There’s so much blue blood here, I’m drowning,” Kera whispers to herself.

She was nervous.

I place my hand on her shoulders.

“I am as much scared as you. I have never stepped out of Eydellon. Stay by my side and I will do my best to protect you. We can survive through it together.” I say, hoping I had made the right choice in bringing her.

She turns to look at me and tries to read me.

“Anything can happen, am I just another sacrifice if it comes to it?” not daring to hear my answer Kera walks away.

My heart clenches in my chest.

Do I have an answer to that?

 

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fantasy, On-going Stories, World Weavers

The Faceless Queen Part I

The girl who entered my room was smiling, but it was the kind of smile that never reaches the eyes. The kind that twitches in the corner, when all you wanted to do was cry and run from the monster you could not see.

I was the monster in that room.

The girl comes closer and stands in front of me. Her body is shaking, my servant in the corner would not see it from a distance but I could. I stood there with my glistening golden hair flowing down my back in my royal midnight blue robes with a face that was fading at the edges.

The girl’s smile hardens, she was trying so hard to be willing, like all the other girls, always lying in their minds that this was for Eydollon.

“Thank you for your sacrifice,” I say as I cup her face in my hand.

A tear slides down her cheek, and I wipe it all away with a touch.

She falls to the ground, faceless and void of life.

No one could hear it but me, my father’s voice shouting with joy inside my head, beautiful daughter, so whole and bright!

While the voice of the enchantress whispers in reply, if you genuinely do not wish to do it, you would not. Only you can end it.

I tell myself that it was for my people, for Eydollon but deep in the hole inside my heart it was also because I was selfish.

I step away and move to the back of my room, to hide in the shadows of the candlelight.

The doors open and two of my men silently take the girls body away.

I sit at my desk and begin writing a response to a letter that has come from beyond Eydollon.

Eydollon was now my duty; my father moved on to the afterlife, and his wife, my stepmother, an enchantress has disappeared without a word.

The message had come from the Evergreen, a place in Seers Island where rulers from across the world convened.

It was to address a magical dark mist that wiped out a village in a breath. Homes had been charred, but no fire had been created, bodies ripped to shreds and those who survived succumbed to madness until death took them in a sickness that spread like tar through their veins and led them to explode into a black and red cloud, unrecognisable.

Where were its origins? Who had created it? It was a mystery.

I finish writing my response.

“Kera, ask the guards to pass this letter to the Evergreen emissary, ask him to send it by bird,”  I say as I press my father’s ring on the wax to seal the letter.

Kera, a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl takes the letter without glancing up at my new face. How could she?

I recall the moment I had met Kera.

I was tossed inside an elegant room with other young and beautiful women. I had been curious to meet the girls who would die for me.

 As prisoners, the women would have expected to be in the kind of dungeons other kings provided. Smelly dank cells with no food or beds but as the queen, I offered my prisoners with more than just a simple cot or grub, I gave them feasts, luxurious beds, I made them happy the best way I could repay them.

They all had been surprised and had feasted and slept well, but one did not.

It was Kera, and she was different from the other girls.

“Why do you not enjoy the pleasures provided to you?” I asked, she only frowned and played with her food.

“Don’t you want to enjoy it while you can. With your sacrifice, the Kingdom prospers!” As I said this, a girl at the table had overheard and laughed.

“She is not a willing sacrifice; she is an added surprise to please the faceless one.”

Before I could say a word and to my surprise, Kera had spoken up.

“No I am not supposed to be here, that I agree but what disgusts me the most is how you guys can be ok with what’s going to happen to you.”

All the girl’s eyes glaze over.

“I am willing, for the faceless one.” they chant tonelessly.

Pity and guilt swirl in my belly but I ignore it. I look at all the girls, and they were all afraid but hid it behind a face of loyalty. They were worthy of so much more.

I look back at Kera, and she looks at me with pleading eyes as if she knew I was the faceless one.

(Catch Part II of the Faceless Queen tomorrow!)

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