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The Queen Is Dead

Penance

Some in this world seek to be kingmakers, but not I.  Being the power behind the throne of a mere mortal empire was an objective far too limited for me, though not because my head was ever turned toward any loftier aspiration.  No, not for my own ambition, but because it was my destiny to be the creator of a god among men, to give rise to the ruler that would unite the kingdoms as one dominion under all the heavens, so did I do all that I have done in her name.

The signs have been foretold since before there was time, and I, my Goddess’ humble servant, Kerian Gillivray, feeble Eidoli of the Penumbral, lowly Keeper of Secrets and Twister of Fates, worthless though I may be, for reasons I cannot hope to fathom, I alone was chosen to bring to fruition her divine plan, to stir into action her hallowed intent.  The whole of my existence has been a mission unto her service.  It is the sole purpose behind every seemingly happenstance, insignificant incidence which brought about the trivial circumstance that led to the instigation of my very life, and it is because of this and nothing more — this consecrated calling, this divine duty — this is the reason I yet draw breath upon this plane.

I was bred for this.  I was born into it.

So how could I have failed her so miserably?


I had thought I would be lost without Vaghdystra, Mother of Darkness, Mistress of Voracity, but I now see it as a test of my commitment that I should be tasked to continue on the path she set forth, to carry out her mission to which she appointed me, though to do so in these dark days without her ever present guidance as I once discerned it.  It’s no great surprise that she pulled away from me, though I will say naught against any action she may take against me for my abysmal failure, my principal regret in life.  It is just for her to have done so, and it should be expected, because of her most deserved disgust with me, for allowing the offspring of her chosen to be felled, and for destroying one of her elite.

I only pray that she may grant me an opportunity to make some small form of reparations — even as pathetic as any attempt may be — however she sees fit.


This is not how it was supposed to happen.  She wasn’t even supposed to be there — no one was!  Why had she taken up guard of the nest?  It is not their way.  Wyvergen do not sit upon their eggs, as if they were birds of the air, or titans of the deep.  There was no call for her to be there.  The enchantment cast upon the royal guard served no purpose if I was to encounter her royal majesty herself.


I did not know, you see, that the Queen Mother — she who was placed upon this worldly throne of power by the Goddess herself — Aryaeth Querangyn, the Golden Glory of the Veridian Isles — who  had once before lost the fruit of her love’s passion to a vengeful infidel — that she had vowed never again, that she would not be moved from her perch of protection.  I did not know, you must understand, that I would find her sleeping there, curled upon those gold and silver eggs, or that her noble talons would be wrapped so tightly around that most reverent of prizes, the Mazarine itself.  I could not have known, believe you me, that she had charmed the lair with an anti-deception incantation that would be impervious to cloaking or illusion, rendering invisibility magic useless, or surely I would have come more prepared.

And the Goddess, in her great wisdom and mystery, had not chosen to show this to me.

I cannot fault Vaghdystra for this I must not, for only she can comprehend her ways. But I can be certain, surely, that my deity, my sovereign, my liege, could not have meant for the mother of her chosen to die, and for mine to be the hand that wielded that final blow, where so many others had failed against the fierce Queen’s great might, for to believe otherwise would simply be unthinkable.  My fate was established before I came into being, and had been handed down to me since before I could speak that I would be ordained to become a companion to the Champion of the Goddess, the future of Endërrim Dunia.  I could never have foreseen that to do so, I would have to first be responsible for her own mother’s death.


I would be punished for my transgression — oh yes, and most severely, never fear that I have escaped justice — though perhaps not nearly as harshly as I deserved... perhaps the worst is still to come.  Know you this, though, that when in the good graces of my Goddess, I was once a supreme master of sorcery, brandishing nearly immeasurable powers of necromancy and kabalism, yet not by my own virtue, no, but through the invocation of Vaghdystra’s glory.  But I forfeit that power, on that gruesome night.  I sacrificed it to the work of my Goddess, to do the terrible deed that had to be done.


When I snuck into Castle Praenago, to steal the child of prophecy, the spawn of the Goddess’ chosen, as Vaghdystra bade me, and found the favored royal there, because of the Queen’s enchantment, I could not conceal myself, nor could I hope to stand against one of the most powerful fighters the realm has seen in generations.  And yet, more importantly, neither could I not disobey the will of my Goddess.  I could not leave without that which I’d come for, and so I had to do that which cannot be undone.

She would not suffer her offspring to be taken from her while she yet drew breath, the Queen, and so, only one of us could leave that room alive.  And we know, you and I, which of us came out...  I am the only one left who can tell this tale now, and I speak of it with humility and in disgrace.


The fact that she had left such a horde of Eidoli in her wake had suggested to her people that in her final battle, Queen Aryaeth had been imbued with the essence of the Goddess Vaghdystra herself.  The Queen’s death had become legendary among the citizens of her kingdom, for the sheer number of bodies it had taken to overtake her.  And perhaps, it was a fitting tribute to one so deserving that it should be so.  The legend only serves to honor a fallen hero’s memory, while exalting the magnificence of the Goddess, as the idea that she would intercede for a beloved subject adds to her power over the masses.

But they could not know how wrong they were.  They can never know what a cosmic blunder this was — what a great wrong to the Goddess, and the natural order of the universe — or how it should never have been thus.  Would that it could be so, that I might feel the full force of their justified wrath, perhaps to put an end to my own suffering, but if I must continue to serve the will of the Divine, then I must bear this shame alone.


The population of Praenago, in their desperation for an explanation — any way to make sense of their kingdom’s great tragedy — had grasped at straws to interpret what they’d found, scribbling in the dust, scratching at the dark of what little they knew to form some semblance of reason out of this horrific loss.

The royal palace guard could only have surmised how it had gone down based on what was left when they had come upon her.  The basis of their assessment, though, was only the aftermath, the remaining evidence, of what had actually occurred.  Their queen slain, surrounded by a swarm of dead Eidoli, their numbers so great as to be almost unimaginable — they could not have guessed that but for the queen herself, the dead they had found there had been already dead.


I tell you this truthfully, so that you may grasp the magnitude of what transpired — I didn’t take a mob of cultists with me from the Penumbral when I set about to carry out my commanded errand.  I went alone, expecting to abscond alone, undetected, with my prize, leaving everything else as I found it there, undisturbed, never the worse for the expropriation to my Goddess.

But she was there — Querangyn, as her people say — resplendent and ruthless, and when she found me, she drew upon me, as one would expect a mother, a warrior, and a Queen to do.  I couldn’t very well simply ask her to hand over the most sacred of her unhatched, the crown jewel of all Wyvergendry, nor did she much care to hear anything I might have had to say.

I required an immediate distraction, and one that only a conjurer could bring about, if I was to fulfill my purpose.  I reached out through the veil between planes, summoning into the Penumbral, and retrieved a soulless form from the Ilunpaen to command it, wordlessly directing it to set upon her.  But it wasn’t enough.  She dispatched it with such a swiftness, it might as well have been made of smoke and mirrors.  So I brought forth again from the netherworld a small host of the undead, charmed to follow my bidding, for the sole purpose of distracting this uncommonly forceful fighter long enough for me to abduct the paragon of her brood from within her clutches.  How could I have known how fruitless an effort it would be?

She was savage and skilled so far beyond the half of what had been told that one could not even see from where she stood how any could have ever imagined her to be any less, so little did this godlike figure resemble the stories that preceded her, that paled in comparison to the conqueror that she was.  She put them down by the dozens, and I struggled to keep a barrier of lifeless bodies in motion between us, I almost couldn’t pull them fast enough.  Wave after wave of exanimate poured through the veil, and just as quickly as they did, the offal of her rampage flew about, scraps and fragments of corpses piling up as she tore through my undead forces with the rage of a rabid animal.  I was certain that she would do no less to me, but I began to fear that I would empty out the whole of the Ilunpaen before battle fatigue had even begun to slow her, and then I would be left with nothing between us to prevent her from doing so.

There was blood in her eyes, the stench of death in the air, and a kind of wanton madness about her; enough that I prepared myself to meet my maker.  Yet, as surely as I was convinced that I was about to die, still, I could not help but to be in awe of her strength, her dexterity, her pulchritude; and there was a bliss to it — an almost peaceful acceptance — so tantalizing I very nearly gave in to it, to have gone to my Goddess having been struck down by the force of her chosen, for here was the embodiment of my Goddess at work!  This exquisite, deadly creature represented the transcendence of Vaghdystra’s plan, the perfection of her artistry in action.  It is truly little wonder that this marvelous specimen was chosen to be the bearer of the Champion, the deliverer of the Dark Majesty’s own progeny.

And I killed her.

Is it any wonder that I now scorn every breath that passes through my lungs?




Even admiring this masterpiece of life as I did, though, I knew I could not abandon that divine plan.  I could not allow my reverence to distract me from the task at hand.  When it became clear to me that the collective body of every entity that had ever died in all of Dunia would not be enough to stay this hell-bent mortal, I knew I had to resort to deeper, stronger, crueler, more pernicious alchemy.


I will not speak of the witchcraft I used, out of shame over its mortifying nature, an evil so debauched and devastating that it should be wielded only against the most heinous of foes, and never those who would be naught but collateral damage.  I will not tell you how I sapped this regal regent of her energy, how I drained her of her very lifeforce, and watched as she battled through its effects, even as she weakened.  I cannot tell you this, for I could not bear for none but me to suffer the burden of full knowledge, the true depth of this horrific woe.  I had hoped I would not have to see her meet her end.  I held on to my faith in the Goddess, that she would not let her chosen fall, that the Queen would but collapse under the pressure, and I could escape with my quarry, as was my mandate.

If she had relaxed at all, if she had ever slowed even but a little, the diabolism would have only temporarily taken her consciousness, lulling her into a catatonic coma, from which she would have awakened in but a matter of hours.  But, Aryaeth was born a fighter, and she could be nothing but.  She would not stop until every enemy had been slain, or until the blood seeped from her veins.  But it was not blood loss that took her from this plane.  It was sortilege, at my behest, so I could take from her that which belonged to her, which was borne from her, and forged by the Goddess we both serve.

In the end, with great sorrow, I pried it from her lifeless claws.

But not without great cost.


The constant stream of augury had weakened my thaumaturgic reserve.  I could barely hold my hands up.  And yet, that was not the end of it, nor the last need there would be for powerful dark magic that night.  Oh, how I desperately long to say that was the worst of it, as surely that was the most terrible sin I’ve ever committed, but there was yet more collateral damage from this unending nightmare in that accursed place.

In the course of the continuous assault, a number of the royal ovules had been broken by the fracas.  But four, miniscule compared to their cyaneous denmate, remained intact.  And that, perhaps, may have been the most damning blow of all.  I had left them without a mother, their father out terrorizing across the countryside, to return Goddess knows when, if at all, and I could not even be certain he would have known about this cluster of his seed.  And I certainly didn’t have the resources back at the temple to raise more than the Wyverken I’d been planning for throughout these many long decades of preparation, pending the signs leading up to the fulfillment of this cherished ancient prophecy.

I took with me a few of the Eidoli Anedad of the Ilunpaen still standing under my control.  Those few that had not fallen by the hand of the stricken would drop back into their naturally dead state once I had retreated from the morbid scene.  I ensorcelled the Anedad to carry the eggs into the nearest surrounding villages — four of them, each in different directions — the undead not resting until they had come to the door stoop of a Wyvergen home — and only that which displayed by its banner its service therein to the Goddess — upon which to leave their precious package.  Once their mission was complete, their purpose served, they would simply return to unanimated corpses.  Thus, four true offspring of Ferrant and Aryaeth, unbeknownst to anyone, would be taken in to be brought up by other Wyvergen houses while I disappear with Nadira, of the Bazylaethne line, to cultivate her development in the ways of Vaghdystra, hoping to take this secret to my grave, the weight of it so heavy upon me.

But I did not escape unscathed.

I have sworn to give my all in the service of my Goddess Vaghdystra, but in bringing about the death of her chosen, I have done so, for by this action I was cursed, my powers smothered, drowned in the blood now on my hands, drained by my abhorrent act, and depleted by the correction of its consequences .  I know that in time, Goddess permitting, I will regenerate my power, and recuperate my losses.  Perhaps it is fitting, then, too, that my power shall only grow as I train her Champion to grow in equal power, as she commanded.


The truth of the matter is, I know the prophecy will be fulfilled whether I am a part of it or not.  A worthless creature such as I could not even be counted significant enough to derail the will of Vaghdystra.  If it doesn’t happen in this manner, it will be done in another.  The Goddess will find a way.  So I would not presume that she would keep me alive simply because she needs me.  Vaghdystra needs no man or beast.

But it is her punishment that I should be forced to live with the pain and shame of this regret, that I should continue in her service, faithfully, dutifully, despite this great sorrow.  I must persevere, through the pain of misery, through the sting of bile in my gut, through the hatred that I feel against my continued presence on this worldly plane.  Because I know, too, that she will not let me die.  I have wounded her so deeply, it is my retribution to be denied a worthy death.

And I must accept my fate.

My sole purpose now is to fulfill Vaghdystra’s wishes, and perhaps to one day prove to her that I might once again be considered worthy of an honorary death... a hero’s death.  My greatest wish is that at some point I will have met her challenge, and she will allow me to die, perhaps painfully, perhaps by her very own hand, or the hand of fate as guided by her, for my sins against her.

And because I know that the Goddess will not reward me for my transgressions with the glory of a warrior’s death in battle, for that reason, I can be fearless when I fight for her Champion, when I defend her temple, when I face insurmountable odds.  My Goddess has pulled her voice from me, and I do not blame her for this.  But I know that to give up on this mission simply for finding myself without her direct influence as a guide would mean certain failure and defeat at my very reason for being, and that is simply not an option.  To give up now, would be sacrilege and blasphemy.  The possibility of abandonment is simply not even thinkable.


In the grand scheme of all things under the heavens, come what may, I will escort Vaghdystra’s Master Plan unto its end.  I will safeguard this holy cerulean bundle, as we journey back together to her new home at her waiting palace in the Penumbral.

She is my charge, my mission, an occasional thorn in my side, and the quintessence of my life’s purpose.  She is the future of all the world, where all be united as the family of the Goddess.

And, lowly as I may be, I her humble servant, will become all things to her until she needs me no longer.


                Keeper, Master, Trainer,

                Guardian, Protector, Confidant,

               Entertainer, Puppet, Companion,

               Worshipper, Follower, Slave.


Long live Nadira, Champion of the Goddess.  Long may she reign.


It has been a fortnight since, and she is among us, coming into this cold and cruel world harshly, as do all offspring without a mother to bring them forth.  She is resting now, bundled in my pack, under the stars, as I stoke the fire to keep her warm.  We would travel in the Penumbral, away from prying eyes, curious questions, and search parties, but the time for her to adjust to its dark nature is not yet upon us.  For now, she needs the light of the sun and the moon to nurture her. 

I watch her as she flutters and whimpers in her sleep.  I wonder what she dreams of.  She is growing so fast, already taking my hand and standing.  She trusts me, implicitly, I suppose only because she does not know I have taken her from the only family she had known.

But, I am bringing her to a greater family, with a deeper, stronger bond.  She is the spawn of the Goddess, and she will be raised in the house of the Goddess.  We are yet a dozen moons away from her new home, but Vaghdystra has blessed our holy pilgrimage, and has been keeping us safe.


She is so large for her age.  Wyvergen should stand a kovat tall at seven sun cycles, but after only three, her crown was already tickling my chin when she hugged me.  Soon, she will be running, and before long, her stride will be so much lengthened than mine that she will be faster than I can catch her.

There is so much to teach her, so much she must learn, and yet so much I must shield her from.  I am certain that the Goddess was right to put her trust in me, as she chose me for this, and I will not second guess her.  I only pray that I will not fail her again.



Slumber now, little hatchling, for soon you will be grown,

and when you have come into your own...

...the world will be yours
.



LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 27 - Topic: OPEN
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Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
i_17bingo
Nov. 12th, 2014 03:31 pm (UTC)
But I can be certain, surely, that my deity, my sovereign, my liege, could not have meant for the mother of her chosen to die, and for mine to be the hand that wielded that final blow...

Whoa.

I knew the battle to Aryaeth's death was awesome. The pile of dead guys was a pretty good clue of this. But dang. I didn't expect it to see it, nor did I expect it to be quite so epic. I mean, wizards and zombies...

And I knew that the surviving child would have a story that would be even more epic, but dang, I did not expect it to start like this.

This is really, really exciting.
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:23 pm (UTC)
Wow... a Whoa, AND a dang... no, TWO dangs... high praise, indeed! XD

(And VERY cool! ;) Thank you very much.

I'd originally wanted to start someplace else with the next segment of the story, so that I wasn't just covering ground that had already been covered, but, after examining 21 pages of notes (which don't even include about 4 segments of the story), I realized that there was no way to tell any of the other parts without getting this portion out of the way. And, yeah, so, now, well... that answers that, I guess!
mamas_minion
Nov. 13th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
Wow what an epic battle. The way the Kerian told this story sounded like an old testament lament, the cadence of it and the sorrow of the narrator, the guilt of wronging his goddess. This is truly masterful.
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I was kind of glad to go ahead and get this portion out of the way, because the rest of them should be able to be told in more "normal" voice - well, normal for a fantasy world, but definitely less "epic." This guy is just a zealot, so of course he's going to talk like that. Happy to know it worked for you... I was worried that it was a bit over the top.
eternal_ot
Nov. 13th, 2014 06:33 am (UTC)
This is shaping up really well..interesting twists..can understand his guilt...Waiting for more.
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying it. There's a lot more to come, but I don't know how often I'll be able to twist the tale to the prompt, or whether I might not want to mix it up from time to time... don't want people to get bored because they haven't been in on the adventure from the beginning.
witches
Nov. 13th, 2014 10:58 am (UTC)
this is so interesting and well written. awesome work :D
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks! So happy to know you liked it.
whipchick
Nov. 13th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)
Wow - such an epic! You do a great job weaving all the threads through such a detailed story.
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It wasn't easy maintaining the "epic" tone, but this character is a zealot, so of course he's going to talk that way... I'm looking forward to portions of the story that are more relaxed in storytelling style.
halfshellvenus
Nov. 13th, 2014 09:07 pm (UTC)
How sad to be caught in the position of being chosen for a great and important task... and forced at the same time to commit an unforgivable wrong.

Theirs is a cruel Goddess, in many respects they perhaps do not even realize.
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
I imagine they do know that she's a cruel Goddess, as that's part of what draws them to her, but I think one can get an understanding of reality twisted around the false notion that if you're very good and loyal to a scorpion, it won't sting you, just everyone else. But Omnipotence is not a weapon, and a megalomaniacal Deity can be unpredictable. These characters, I would imagine, most likely see themselves as good, because no one is ever the villain in his or her own story. But it's hard to be good when what you serve is evil.
reckless_blues
Nov. 13th, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC)
I liked your treatment of dark magic here. It's painful, and terrible, and it was used once and put away and is something the witch buries deep in her heart. The way veterans do. Compared to other stories where some type of magic is said to be bad, but the reader finds out all about it and you know it'll be used anyway, and often the bad parts will be somehow mitigated. Here all you get is the pain. But you feel the pain more because you know you won't get anything else. All the warnings and the internal conflict isn't a song-and-dance routine before they do it anyway.

(I also liked the treatment in Harry Potter, though, where they used the forbidden curses because they were young and angry and impulsive, and because they were useful, and because they were there. But I digress.)
karmasoup
Nov. 13th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's probably not obvious here, because this guy is a zealot, so, the way he speaks about himself, you might mistake him for a good character who did a terrible thing for the sake of the greater good, and it's okay to make that mistake, because he'd want you to... that's truly his perspective. But, in reality, it's all dark magic. He serves a dark god (as do the heroes in this story, they just don't normally use magic).

Though, you're right that he would see his treatment of magic the way you described it. There's many aspects of what's happening here that he doesn't know, obviously, including the actual will of his Goddess. (If he did, it might perhaps shake his faith a bit - but he'd probably adjust okay!) There's just much more to the story than his point of view!

Glad you appreciated this treatment, and thanks! ;)
bleodswean
Nov. 14th, 2014 01:43 am (UTC)
And it continues!!! I just love love love how you took a Warrior's Song and put it in the mouth of a female. How she has regrets and despairs...and yet feels drawn to her cause. I love how conflicted you leave the reader. This is just amazing writing. The complexity of this world, the language you create for it, the filmy dreamy visuals are all just beyond impressive.
karmasoup
Nov. 14th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
I'm really glad you enjoyed this, and I hope I don't burst your bubble, but this character is actually a male, and he's a sorcerer, not a warrior.

BUT, Aryaeth, the Queen he killed, is one of the greatest Wyvergen warriors that ever lived, and could only be felled by him because of his magic. Also, the child he's now traveling with, Nadira, will become the most powerful warrior the known world has ever seen, and so much more. But not without a lot of bumps in the road.

Thanks for coming back to it.
bleodswean
Nov. 17th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
Aw, my bubble is burst. How did I read that SO INCORRECTLY????? Hmmmm...sorry about that. Carry on.

I do love your fierce (but now deceased) Queen.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )