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The Tales Of The Last Feakara


Shion
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“Beware the weapon you give a mind,” from the Lectures of Feakara Serpetra

“Beings of power deserve two things: to be respected and always watched,” from Quotes of the First Feakara, by Feakara Inia

 

Chapter 1

 

The sun had cleared the horizon and streamed into a small sparsely furnished upstairs bedroom. A young woman with long, black curly hair rolled over, annoyed with daylight. She clung onto the blankets. She was sweaty, and yet shivered. She could never get warm. She wanted to crawl back into the darkness beyond dreams. Yet, she knew too well the impossibility of this.

 

“She’s coming up the stairs,” spoke her friend in her mind.

 

She said nothing, and pulled the blankets over her head. Darkness again. Peace. She sighed, and began to drift back into the darkness, when again her friend spoke, “You know Lord Delthglor is coming today, and that usually makes them both tetchy. Come on, Christine, just get up, and then I can go eat.”

 

She thought, oh, yes, because I love hearing about mauled animals first thing in the morning, Nakti! Her long time companion was one of the Karae, a telepathic race of cats native to Keitara. The Karae exiled Nakti’s mother. Christine did not know the real reason, but Nakti had been with her for as long as she could remember. Nakti yawned, opening his massive jaws wide so one could count every intimidating canine. He stretched and his long razor sharp claws bit into the hardwood floor.

 

He sniffed the air, and determined that today would be an excellent day to hunt. The morning was cold, and the deer would huddle in the swamps. He turned his shaggy orange and black head and looked at Christine. She was going to drift back into sleep again. “I know Lord Delthglor has been late, but wouldn’t it be better to get up before Shemei comes in here. You left the window open again,” he said.

 

She did not respond. So the three hundred pound beast jumped onto the bed in a single bound. He lay next to her and pawed away the covers. She could feel his cool wet nose on her neck. She could also hear the floorboards of the last staircase creaking. She grumbled and rolled over. Her ice blue eyes glowered at Nakti as she set her feet onto the cold floor.

She carefully closed the window paying extra attention to pull the lock across without it squeaking. Better to avoid a fight with her mother on the day Lord Delthglor was to come over. The sound of the key turning in its lock signaled for her to sit back on the bed. The door opened. In came a slender woman with plated black hair she had pinned back with fan shaped gold barrettes. She wore a deep green dress. Caked on her eyebrows were globs of matching sparkling green eyeshadow. The effect was operatic, as if her mother put on a mask every morning. The slight smell of her flowery, cheap perfume nauseated Nakti, but he endured it momentarily.

 

“Good, you are up. Get into the shower, and don’t be too long. I want breakfast on the table soon. Your father and I are going to Kalychya, and I will not travel all those miles hungry,” said Shemei. “Hurry now, you are due for your medicine in less then thirty minutes. So go.”

 

Christine nodded. She opened her closet. All of her clothes were arranged by season, color, and purpose.

 

“Wear this one,” said Shemei barging in behind her. “You will look less skinny in that.”

 

Again she was silent and obedient, but her thoughts were much less so. Yes, so Lord Delthglor does not see the bruises I acquired two days ago, or notice how little I am allowed to eat! She took her clothes to the upstairs bathroom, and turned on the shower. She was glad for the sun. The solar generator would ensure that her water was warm this morning. She was tired of ice cold showers. Nakti followed her into the bathroom and sat by the door.

 

Standing in the steaming water, she felt more awake, but not by much. Her dreams seemed much more vibrant and interesting then reality. Yet at the same time…there had been a battle, and she had been a Keitaran soldier. She was pinned down in the mess hall. The smell of blood and metal were everywhere. There was only one way to ensure the ship did not fall into enemy hands. She crawled across the floor, and drank a vile solution. Her throat burned and then everything went black.

 

“More dreams,” said Nakti.

 

Yes, she thought. She learned long ago how to think what she wanted to say without actually saying it. Sometimes, she believed this was the only reason why she endured her parent’s constant degradation.

 

“We should go into the forest. You should talk to the Elders,” advised Nakti.

 

No, Nakti, Lord Delthglor forbade me to go there. It would violate my contract, and I cannot afford to live anywhere else. Besides these dreams are just side effects, she replied. Thinking about side effects reminded her of the myriad of pills she had to take everyday, every twelve hours. All through her life she had quaffed medications for her insanity. These were supposed to make her life better, but many days she wondered what would happen if she stopped taking them.

 

She turned off the water, and dried her pale skin. Even after a warm shower, she looked as if she was made from moonlight. She hated the reflection cast in the mirror. She was too short, too thin, and too pale to be considered attractive, and who would ever marry a girl with blue eyes? She hardly looked Keitaran. Many times she would read about Haflia, the home world of the Sminet, and long to move there. She dreamed her ‘real’ parents were Sminet lovers running from the oppressive caste system. They were forced by pirates to sell their daughter and…

 

“Christine, are you done yet? You need to take your pills,” shouted Shemei.

 

She yelled, “I’m coming!” She pulled on her clothes. She combed the tangles out of her hair as quickly as she could. Sighing she pulled her hair back into a ponytail, hoping that it would be straighter when it dried. After this she went downstairs, with Nakti right behind her.

Shemei stood by the counter waiting for her daughter. As usual the rainbow of pills sat in a neat row by a glass of water.

 

“Take them,” said Shemei.

 

Obediently, Christine began the process of taking her meds. Half of them she did not know exactly what they were prescribed for. This was her daily ritual.

 

“Really, a ponytail again, you should do something with that hair of yours,” chided her mother.

 

“I hate this,” Christine muttered as she popped the last pill.

 

“If you want to travel and join the Council, you better get used to it,” said Shemei.

 

“The Council? I haven’t even been to Kalychya,” groused Christine. “I should just resign and go work in a library.”

 

“Those outdated things? I doubt even they would hire you. Just do what your told and you will get through this. Now hurry up and fix breakfast. I need to get your father up,” said Shemei. She hurried past the stairs into the bedroom she shared with Heru.

 

Christine pulled out a large pot filled it with water and threw it on the stove. The water splashed and sizzled on the hot burner.

 

“I’m going to get breakfast. Just stay out of trouble, alright?” said Nakti, with a slight switch of his tail.

 

“Fine,” she said out loud. Her mother’s comments still rang in her ears and with every moment she became more flushed. The Council! How ridiculous! The best she could hope for, as Delthglor’s apprentice was an advisory role to the Council, and nothing more. Without medication she was deemed clinically insane. She knew. She had hacked into her medical records. Besides her parents as her life-long guardians would fight tooth and nail for a re-testing. They made too much money off of her.

 

Yet, at sixteen, Lord Delthglor, who had tutored her from time to time through out her childhood, asked to apprentice her. How could she deny the second most powerful man in all the empire? Some would argue that he was the most powerful man in the galaxy, for he had founded the empire six thousand years earlier. The subsequent contract was very strict, but eventually (five years later)

she would have more freedoms then any other of her kind.

 

She stirred the rice and the dried berries into the boiling water. She set the teapot on the stove and began mixing the morning tea. The house was quiet except for the distant rhythmic creaking of the bed. She ignored them, and focused on cutting slices of the morning bread. She was unusually hungry. She swallowed her own saliva to avoid drooling. The porridge was done.

 

She set the table. Still her parents were not ready, and she was not going to wait. She had too much to do. So she finished her bowl of rice porridge, three slices of hearty bread with nut butter, and three cups of tea. This unnatural hunger would have worried more observant parents, but with the handful of pills she took everyday they wrote this off as another side effect.

Now, the dim light of day gleamed over the frosted landscape. She wrapped her blue cloak about her shoulders, and pulled on her black boots taking care to lace them properly. The air was quite cold, but from the look of the sky, promised a much warmer day.

 

An early rain, the previous day, had melted the snow leaving behind a mucky mess. In the early day, it was frozen solid and one could easily twist an ankle passing from the house to the barn. This made Christine’s chores more difficult, but she found them easier then dealing with the people she lodged with. She picked up a large bucket to fill it with water. The solar heater kept the pump from freezing, but the handle was intolerably cold all the same.

 

As she did this she thought how strange her relationship was to her parents. She was supposed to be their daughter, but found little attachment to them. She was little more then a servant, and stayed merely because Delthglor told her to. She had to wait until he made all the appropriate arrangements was what he told her last month. Before it had been for her safety or he simply did not have the time or resources to devote a minor. When she became of age, he merely said no, and that these were the terms of her apprenticeship for the time being.

By the time she was done feeding the horses and the two difi they kept, she was sweaty and cold. The difi were now satisfied, and in a few hours would be let out to wander about the meadowland to the south of the home. The large wooly, spotted herbivores now groomed each other making a hmmm,hmmmm,hmmm sound. Their wool was moss green and spotted brown. She was glad she did not have to brush them today. There was enough to do without worrying about another being’s grooming.

 

Now, Christine went to gather spring greens. She was tired of greens, and looked forward to the Snowdrop berries she gathered in the first month of spring. After clipping a basket full of greens from the south end of the garden, she went to the old potato patch to dig up the remaining ones. She had to be thorough, for the thaw would come on soon, and anything left would rot. This manual labor, although boring and tedious was preferred to her nightmares. So for awhile under the warming sun of late winter she enjoyed it.

She brought in the vegetables, and found the empty bowls and plates of her parents breakfast just left there. She sighed. Threw the vegetables in the sink to rinse and began clearing the table. She stacked the dishes by the sink. They can’t even take care of their own damned dishes! As if I do not have enough to do…bitch with the wit of an amoeba! She grossed.

 

She finished preparing the vegetables, and then went back to her room. She pulled out a large file of papers. This was her work from the passed week that Delthglor had assigned to her. She hoped he was happy. She found this assignment dull and unproductive.

 

The topmost paper was entitled An Analysis of the Current Reign of Regent Velkh Shen. She had spent two days on it, but had made up her mind on the regent in less then a minute. She read through her final thoughts: “The Regent relies too heavily on the opinions of three philosophers whose only experiences in this world have been academic. These ‘philosophers’ were indebted heavily to their families before they became hits on the Net as a result of the popular Regent’s support. He is an inconsistent ruler who indulges in pharmaceuticals instead of governing the Empire, which consequently has led to the military and the Ahara…”

 

“Blah, blah, blah,” she whispered as she read. A devilish smile crept across her face as she read the last line of the twenty paged report, “Keitara would be better ruled by a brain dead infant then suffer this imbecile.” Of course she had her own reasons for disliking the ‘philosophers.’ As one of her aliases on the Net, HeartandFeather, an alias who had raised the suspicions of the Order of Ma’at (a branch of the government dedicated solely to the enforcement of laws), she had spent the better part of a year of sleepless nights arguing with the three of them: Ara, Djavya, and Chiara. The debate had amused her teacher, but she was ordered to stop a month ago when the Regent had asked to meet HeartandFeather in person. For as he said to the press, “She is full of needless discontent. I would be more then happy to prove to her that Keitara is safe and is in good hands.”

 

“I am so proud of you,” began Nakti sarcastically in her mind. “Being a traitor at the young age of sixteen.”

 

She would have thrown a pillow at him, but he was still grooming himself outside in the forest. He apparently had eaten a deer, or most of one, and was too messy to come inside yet. She wrinkled her nose. She wondered why he always had to relay such information to her.

Nakti replied to her disgust, “Just because you cannot stomach it doesn’t mean…”

 

She did not hear the rest of his thought, for her mother had stormed into the room. She began screaming, “Why aren’t those dishes clean? It is your duty as apart of this household…”

 

“Clean them yourself…” she was cut short by a stinging blow against her cheek. Her mother raised her hand again to strike her.

 

“Let her go,” boomed the voice of her father, Heru. “She can get the rest before Delthglor arrives. She should be unmarked while the esteemed lord is here.” The lumbering man watched them carefully. Christine glowered, still belligerent and wanting to confront the oaf and the whore, but could not bring herself to do it. They were her parents, and that title alone stayed her hand. She had to obey them. She had to endure them, and she constantly felt guilty because she could not love them. Children are supposed to love their parents, so why could she not conform and do the same?

By midday, the sound of hooves pounded the drying earth. Lord Delthglor had arrived on his black horse. The old Scuntharian, with his pallor and thin physique, had been her anchor. She trusted him implicitly. He was the only teacher that she would listen to, and she was apprenticed to the powerful lord. Although most of their lessons were political or philosophical, he expected her to learn the ways of the sword. Military strategy and tactics often were interspersed in their conversations. She learned quickly despite the disruptive dreams, which had grown worst in the past three months. She took great care in avoiding the topic with her parents, and said nothing about them to Delthglor.

 

Delthglor dismounted the horse wearily, his black eyes seemed darker than usual and the wisps of his graying hair fell about his thin face. He appeared less substantial than a ghost, which his loose robes could not hide. He still wore the colors of mourning gray and light blue. Once he saw Christine sprinting towards him, his dearest student, Delthglor’s face lit with a small glimmer of hope, and the weariness washed from his expression.

 

“Christine, how are you?” he held her for a moment in a loose embrace.

 

“Bored,” she replied bluntly. She watched Delthglor carefully. He seemed weary, and his clothes were slightly wrinkled. He did not hide his care well.

 

Delthglor asked surprised with a slight laugh, “After the last assignment, you are still bored?”

 

She began her own analytical rant, “The analysis of Regent Shen’s reign I had been working on for the past three months, but you stopped me from…”

 

“From being investigated by the Order,” interrupted Lord Delthglor.

 

“It’s better then doing nothing,” she replied. “He should simply die of an overdose and rid of his stupidity!”

 

He regarded her carefully. The word ‘overdose’ had tangled some nerve, but he replied in his normal even manner, “Although that would be a divine gift, I would never admit wishing for, there are graver issues then one annoying Regent.” Delthglor then paused and changed the subject, “Now, what have you learned of the early Empire?”

 

“They were desperate,” she answered bluntly. She despised the flowery language used by most scholars to describe ancient empires, especially the glorification attributed to the first settlers of Keitara. “Humans were modified to be laborers and breeders for the Scuntharians for the first century of the empire. However, plagues and declining birthrates for the Scuntharians killed most of them off leaving the throne to you, five thousand years ago. A second Code was written, which for the first time in our history as well as Scuntharian history guaranteed basic rights to all sentient beings. ”

 

“Nicely summarized, but from the look on your face I would assume you have a question,” said Delthglor.

 

“When can I go to Kalychya?” she asked. She always asked, even when she was sure he would avoid a direct answer. The question was what she clung onto. It gave her hope that soon Delthglor would reveal his true purpose for her.

 

“Soon,” answered Delthglor quieter then before. “Soon enough.”

 

Shemei approached Lord Delthglor and bowed, “Welcome, my lord, I hope the weather will hold up for you. Christine, dear, take care of my lord’s horse, please.”

 

Christine grudgingly obliged. She wished Nakti had returned. He could spy on them and tell her what was said in her absence.

 

Once Christine was out of sight Delthglor spoke, “So you are leaving today.”

 

“Yes, it will be nice to see civilization again,” admitted Shemei.

 

“Good, good, I am glad I am not inconveniencing you too much with her care,” said Delthglor politely. “She is important to me, but I cannot risk her yet in Kalychya.”

 

“We understand, my lord, thoroughly,” said Shemei politely.

 

Heru came up with two horses. He bowed politely to Lord Delthglor. They said their farewells and Christine let out a long sigh of relief.

 

“I want to see your progress with the obsidian knife, and then we will work on sword technique,” said Delthglor.

 

Christine and Lord Delthglor left the drive and walked to the northern corner of the yard. Here the forests’ tall pine and gnarled ginkgo trees shaded the mossy lawn. Lord Delthglor sat on a mossy rock underneath an ancient pine tree. Tapping his staff on the rock he called Christine to attention.

 

“Show me.”

 

Christine immediately fell into a low crouched stance. She paused waiting, watching Delthglor’s every movement. In a flash she had unsheathed the two obsidian knives. Delthglor raised his staff to fend off the attack. A second later and she would have drawn blood. However, he did not fear her. He had taught her great control, and bore no scars from previous, more deadly encounters.

Delthglor stopped and began his critique, “You are still inefficient. A wide movement looks pretty, but it is far from effective.”

 

“But…” she began, trying to explain.

 

He interjected, not wanting to hear her long and very detailed explanations, “No more buts. We will try again, and this time,” he unsheathed an ancient dagger, which still gleamed brightly in the sun. “This time I will do more then guard.”

 

She nodded, and as if she had hit a switch, Lord Delthglor was no longer her beloved teacher, he was a target. The pair had assumed different stances. Lord Delthglor with his long legs had difficulty dropping as low as his student, not to mention, he was far less flexible. So his stance was one where power could easily be drawn from his legs, however, this did leave his torso exposed. Christine however, was not fooled by this diversion. Setting her left leg back, she fell into a low, and from an observer’s perspective, unstable stance. Like an adder, she sprung into his stance. Her right hand struck to the side of his head, and the other stopped a hair’s breath from his groin. With a slight turn of her hip he was on the ground.

 

“As you can see the simplistic things work,” this was the closest Lord Delthglor came to praise. She waited as he rose back to his feet. “While the higher forms of the Sminet styles are entertaining, they are merely art, and in battle worthless. Keep art in the homes and practicality everywhere else.”

 

“Life isn’t that simple,” she muttered to herself. The exercise continued despite her sullen remark. After she had worked quite a sweat Delthglor seemed to be satisfied with what he saw and stopped her.

 

“Take a break and ready the horses,” spoke Lord Delthglor.

 

“Why,” she asked trying not to sound out of breath.

 

Lord Delthglor sighed, “Get them ready and you will find out.”

 

“But…” She wanted to add, ‘but you seem out of sorts, and could use a rest.’

 

Delthglor interrupted, his voice purely command, “Ready the horses, Christine.”

 

“Yes, my lord,” she said and went to the barn.

 

Delthglor shook his head. This is supposed to be the great leader who will deliver us from Matar? What was I thinking? At this moment Nakti plodded towards the tree from his morning excursion.

 

“Lord Delthglor,” spoke Nakti in his head.

 

“Yes,” whispered Delthglor. Nakti could not read the old Scuntharian’s thoughts so, he needed to whisper or speak to the Karae vocally.

 

“When will this charade end? She is dreaming. It is time for her to know the truth,” spoke Nakti, who now sat by Delthglor’s feet. His golden eyes staring into Delthglor’s, commanding a wild authority, one only finds in nature.

 

Delthglor asked, “How often?”

 

Nakti’s tail began switch slightly upon hearing this question. He then answered, “Every night. The dreams terrify her. ”

 

Delthglor supposed he heard the hooves of horses growing closer, so he asked quickly, “The medication?”

 

Nakti’s eyes were now worried and his body seemed irritated as he replied, “It isn’t working as it should. It merely muddles her perception, but she is still swept away into the currents of thought and memory. Delthglor, she is sixteen, of age by the laws of Keitara, she should know the truth. What you are doing is slowly killing her!” Now his tail switched back and forth along the ground, and his peered into Delthglor’s as if he were obstinate prey.

 

Delthglor inwardly groaned, and he had his reasons. He has suspected all was not as cheery as Christine led him to believe. He said, “I know, but…”

At this moment, Christine had returned with two horses. Delthglor’s black horse and her gray horse were fully geared. She saw Delthglor and Nakti staring at each other intently. Nakti’s tail switched back and forth. On the edge of her mind, she thought she heard arguing. She shook her head. She was just a little winded after two hours of sword practice.

 

“They are ready,” she said addressing Delthglor.

 

“Ready? Oh, the horses, I am sorry, I was lost in thought for a moment. Alright, mount and follow me,” spoke Delthglor.

 

Mounting her horse, she followed Delthglor north on a sandy trail. A brisk breeze caused the trees to sway and stung Christine’s face. She was glad that she had remembered her riding gloves this time.

 

Christine asked, “Where are we going?”

 

“North,” answered Delthglor bluntly.

 

“What is our destination,” she asked, annoyed with Delthglor’s smart remark.

 

“To a large meadow, you’ve been there before,” answered Delthglor.

 

“What! You have got to be joking. Those are grazing grounds! Kesenet’s father will be furious. We really shouldn’t,” she shouted ahead of her. Kesenet was her only human friend, a boy only a year

older then her. Their friendship had lasted throughout her childhood.

 

“It will be fine. His wooly friends could use the exercise and it is the closest open ground I could find,” he replied. “Now what do you remember about mounted combat?”

 

This question lead to a good hour of explanations of flanking techniques, the uses for cavalry and how it was used by some of the outer colonies of the Keitaran empire in modern warfare.

 

“Good, you actually studied this time,” complimented Delthglor with a smile. The smile soon faded to his usual serious look. “However, you failed to explain why it was important for the outer colonies to use cavalry against the Matazians.”

 

“Oh, come on, it is fairly obvious,” she complained.

 

“Details, details, details,” he chided her.

 

She let out a sharp breath and then began, “Alright, the outer colonies of Keitara, particularly Haeth and Bashini-pa have used cavalry in the form of horses or indigenous equines to combat the Matazians over more conventional weapons, because the warriors themselves fear equines. No one knows particularly why the Matazians as a populous avoid equines, water, and bright lights. Also, while taking several worlds from the Matazians, the animals were useful for herding the panicking slave populations into rehabilitation ships. Mechanical transportation was too easy for the Matazians to seek and destroy.”

 

“Good, now that we are here. Demonstrate,” said Delthglor pointing across the large hilly meadow covered with large woolly creatures the size of hippos grazing the first green shoots of spring. The first Keitarans, as a food and clothing resource, domesticated these large herbivores, and they called the animals, difi.

 

“What? I have never…”

 

“Demonstrate the techniques they have used on the outer colonies, go on,” he commanded her.

 

Christine shot him a dirty look and grasped the reigns. She felt ridiculous charging into the lumbering group of herbivores. The large brown creature raised its naked head, and snorted in her direction. There was no panic in its eyes only a bit of annoyance for being disturbed.

 

“Delthglor, what am I supposed to do,” she shouted back at Delthglor who still sat on his mount at the edge of the forest.

 

“Ride,” he replied.

 

She turned about. She was about to ride back up to Delthglor and give him a piece of her mind. Instead she circled back around and grasped the reigns tighter. Suddenly she wasn’t herself. She knew exactly what needed to be done. Every motion, every gesture, every word, the horse galloped forward, she cried out. In the strange fog of her mind, there was a deeper knowledge guiding her. Soon she had broken the herd of difi into several uneasy groups. She reached for her sword. She was no longer in the sunny meadow of Keitara. She was in a barren land surrounded by fierce shrieks of Matazian warriors. She drew the blade and swung.

 

Her arm stung. She shook her head. Delthglor had her at sword point.

 

Her eyes were wide with terror and confusion as she asked, “Delthglor?”

 

“Pick up your sword,” he said.

 

She nodded and dismounted her horse. She found it lying in the grass. She sheathed the blade, and suddenly felt very tired.

 

Christine asked quietly, “What happened?”

 

“You were about to kill one of Kesenet’s father’s difi,” explained Nakti.

 

“I don’t remember,” she paused for a moment taking a deep breath, “and, my head is killing me.”

 

“Let us return home, then,” spoke Delthglor, in a gentler tone.

 

The ride home was excruciating for Christine. Her head was pounding and the sun hurt her eyes. She dutifully took care of the horses when they had returned home, despite Nakti’s insistence that she should rest.

 

Delthglor watched her with concern in his eyes, “Go and lie down. I will bring you some tea, and you will drink all of it, and try and eat something.”

 

Delthglor removed her cloak and boots inside the house. Like a zombie she obeyed his directions and lay on the couch unwilling to move. The room was fuzzy to her from all the pain. Glimpses of that far away battle kept haunting her mind in between the waves of piercing pain.

“Delthglor, that was very dangerous. You should not treat her life so casually,” chided Nakti as Delthglor began to boil the water for the tea.

 

“There is little choice, Nakti,” whispered Delthglor to the giant cat.

 

This time Nakti perched on the kitchen table, his tail thumping against the hard wood, “You should not have medicated her with the suppressant, Delthglor. This is the result. She should be told the truth. If anything she should be living alone by now, or at least near Kalychya. They are not good for her.”

 

“It is not yet time,” he recited. Delthglor was growing tired of this argument.

 

Nakti retorted with great exasperation, “Who decides that Delthglor? The Council of Elders, the Council of the Neter, the Empirical Council, the Circle of Ma’at, who, Delthglor, has the authority or the knowledge to decide? How can they know? She dreams Delthglor. It is tearing her up. She must know the truth!”

 

Delthglor shouted, “No!” This conversation pained him in ways he refused to admit to himself and certainly, he would never admit it to Nakti. He began mixing various herbs, and chided his loud reaction. He continued, “No, I will speak with the Neter and to Physician Senefkh. Then, she will know.”

 

Nakti stared into Delthglor’s dark eyes and said, “Do not wait too long.”

 

Delthglor returned to Christine’s side with a steaming cup of tea. “Now drink all of this, and eat this,” he handed her a few slices of warm bread. “Then you are to rest until tomorrow. I am sorry. I pushed you too hard today.” He left her side and built up the fire. Afterwards he stared out the small window thinking and feeling the burden of his choices; the capital is hardly a place for a sixteen year old, especially her. Too idealistic, too callous, and yet she…

 

“Delthglor,” spoke a soft voice.

 

Startled Delthglor turned from the window to find Christine standing behind him. His first instinct was to chide her and tell her to lay back down. However her sorrowful expression stilled his tongue as she once again inquired, “I am apprenticed to you, but you have yet to take me to the Empirical Council. Why? Why can’t I leave here?”

 

Any normal person would have taken heed of her persistent questions, but Delthglor, not having children or lovers did not notice at all. He gave the same reply only with greater detail, “It is not yet time. Regent Shen is far from a capable leader, and I would not have you tarnish your name by being introduced to the council under his guidance. He may appear a drunkard, but the people he keeps closest to him are dangerous. Many who have spoken against him have disappeared. It is safer and wiser if you remain here a little longer.”

 

His explanation was not enough. She probed deeper trying to find the truth, “More of the work of his advisors then the Regent himself. Even in this state I could take on a three assassins. Can I go with you?”

 

“No,” Delthglor said in a fatherly voice.

 

“Why?” Another question she asked no matter the subject.

 

“Like I said it is dangerous right now. The Regent is one problem, and the Council is another. There are more dangerous things in Kalychya then assassins,” he explained.

 

Christine relented and asked, “What will you do about him?”

 

“Try to persuade him to take proper action against the Matazians, but I doubt he will listen. If not…there are other plans in motion. Lord Fedavya Shen is a good leader and a true patriot. The Ahara trust him. The Generals have long respected him.”

 

She sighed, “Do you think this war will ever end?”

 

“One day, it will,” he assured her, and then added, “When it does happen no one in the empire will know what to do with themselves.”

 

She laughed. But the shrieks and screams of warriors caused her head to splinter with pain. She asked ignoring her pain, “What is the next lesson?” Anything was better then sitting in pain.

“Read the essays of the late Master Thaunry,” said Delthglor.

 

“You’re kidding, right?”

 

“No, it is good for you to learn both sides of history. Justice is a concept born in propaganda. You must free yourself of propaganda, even if it is inconvenient.”

 

She asked, “anything else?”

 

“And this,” he said pulling out a black bound, tattered book.

 

“What is it?”

 

“It was written by a friend of mine, before the collapse of the Scuntharian Empire. Compare the two,” he said.

 

“Alright,” she replied and took the black book from him. She sat for hours reading after sun down, and around mid-night Delthglor sent her upstairs to bed. She did not sleep though. Sitting in bed

she poured over the account of the Athlon war by Master Thaunry and his struggle against Keitarkh Menkar’s aggression and the growing discontentment of his own people. Yet, the words were far from what she expected from a leader of an oppressed, barbaric world. Nakti yawned, stretched and lay back down, “It would be more clear if you would sleep.”

 

“But don’t you find it in the least fascinating, this one man’s struggle against revenge, when his life was taken by his own son for not taking revenge?”

 

“Nothing new,” replied Nakti.

 

She exclaimed, “Nothing new? Keitara has been at war for sixty years now, and no end in sight, but this Matazian did not seek vengeance as Menkar did. Does that not make him a better ruler then Menkar?”

“Feakara Serpetra thought he was,” said Nakti. His mind was still brooding upon Delthglor’s stubbornness and whether he could convince his friend of her true heritage.

 

Her mind fogged by long reading, but far too active to rest she pondered aloud, “I wonder what she thought.”

 

Almost angrily Nakti replied, “Simple, this war was stupid and wasteful. Matar is stubborn, hateful and powerful. Destroy Matar and his support, restore the old religion of Matazia and move on.”

 

“But what would happen to those who have dedicated their whole lives to the worship of Omack, there god, Nakti, would it be right to brainwash them into a different religion simply out of convenience?”

 

“No, it isn’t fair, but there are no fair solutions, even in peaceful times. You think too much and it is almost dawn. Just sleep already,” said Nakti finally in annoyance.

 

The house took on an air of well…homeliness when Lord Delthglor was there and her parents were gone. She woke sometime in midmorning to the smell of breakfast.

 

“Pancakes, from the smell of it,” said Christine after a yawn.

 

“Well, it is the only thing he does know how to cook besides instant soup,” said Nakti looking smug.

 

“Still it is breakfast, which I did not have to cook,” she said.

 

Christine sprung out of bed; careful not to step on the books Delthglor had given her. She had no difficulty picking out clothes this morning. A pale blue dress, silver shoes, but no jewelry, for she owned none. She washed quickly, dressed and flew downstairs, a torrent of energy.

 

Of course, her pills were sitting neatly in front of her plate, and Delthglor stood before the stove his entire mind bent into the preparation of pancakes. “Good morning,” he said, roused from his deep meditation as he places a fresh pancake on her plate. “You seemed well recovered from your migraine.”

 

“I feel much better,” she replied. She spooned several heaping spoons of crimson jam on top of the pancake. “We lost much in Thaunry’s death and whoever wrote that other book,” she commented in between chewing.

 

A wan smile crept across Delthglor’s face. He nodded, “Yes, we did. They were both visionaries who died well before their time.”

 

“Who was Professor Scornthene Rolana? I haven’t heard of him before,” asked Christine. She was quite curious. She knew the names of almost every mathematics professor in the Keitaran Empire, the Sminet Empire, the Matazian Empire, and even on Marnic. She often chatted with them over the Net late at night.

 

“An old friend of mine, from Scuntharia, he is long dead,” said Delthglor. She observed that he was nervously turning the spatula in his left hand. She wondered about his discomfort, but knew she would not receive a truthful answer. Whenever Delthglor became quiet like that, he was unlikely to reveal anything.

 

“So, what did you learn from Scornthene?” asked Delthglor, breaking through the silence.

 

Strange, he used his first name. He must have known him well. Most of his old friends he acts so stoic and formal… Christine replied, “I did not learn much, but I agreed with many of his observations concerning empires and monarchies. However predictable an empire can be, there are several elements, which create variables for which one cannot ignore. Religion is a two edged sword so are universities. They can stagnate or they can instigate radical change depending on the individuals involved. No matter the governing system the individual rights of the leaders have to be ignored for an empire to survive. Unfortunately this creates a dangerous duality. Leaders have no personal rights, but they must abide by the individual rights of their subjects in order to rule well. However, I have always wondered, if the society you govern is corrupt, why bother saving it through good rule?”

 

Delthglor became distant and cold as he said, “By wielding great power one is not entirely mortal. You must bear the responsibilities of a deity, and ignore the primitive rules of ‘fairness.’ Empires cannot afford such niceties. Corrupt rule with a corrupt society would shake the current political web down to its very animalistic beginnings. We are too interdependent for one nation to go under and no one else take notice. ”

 

“But if you expect a ruler, such as the Regent or the Master of Matazia to act beyond the protocols of his subjects without the reward of equal or better rights then their subjects, the system will break! You cannot make something out of nothing. Loroth’s reign clearly illustrates this point,” she said setting down her fork.

 

“You think too much like workers,” he said. “A ruler never thinks like the people he governs.”

 

“But they experience life the same as any other life form. Shouldn’t they be treated the same, regardless of political power?” she argued.

 

“No, because with a whim a ruler can kill billions. One the Regents, even the Commerce Council of Marnic could wipe out an entire planet with one word. We can destroy entire species if we so desired,” replied Delthglor.

 

“But the Neter have both,” she argued.

 

“Who can deny the gods?” replied Delthglor with a laugh.

 

She sipped at her tea. This argument was going nowhere. However, she could not resist adding, “Feakara Serpetra argued that granting such rights to rulers was the only way to stabilize the empire and prevent further silly wars.”

 

“She also died by those words,” he said sternly.

 

“I just do not understand how you can expect Lord Fedavya Shen to take his father’s place, when he is so close to what he truly desires,” she said as she put down her empty teacup.

 

“He is a patriot and he will do his duty,” replied Delthglor.

 

“But he loves Lady Ashanti,” she said, as if that one statement were argument enough.

 

Delthglor sighed and shook his head. “Everyone your age expects that to be the panacea. I really could care less who or what he loves. The empire needs a new Regent, and he is the best we have.”

 

“I still think it is wrong,” she murmured. Her eyes wandered to the window. The world outside glowed with sunlight, but none of it seemed real. The pills must be working, she thought sadly. She said little the rest of the day. She went through the motions, and did not notice the glares Nakti shot up at Delthglor or their frantic whispered conversations. [/font][/font][/font][/size][/size]

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Shion, this is brilliant. I am hooked on the story and want to know more...I hope you finish it. You really need to persevere and keep pushing to get it published somewhere. In fact reading this made me sad for all the years that I stopped reading fantasy books. When I was a xtian I stopped doing so many things I used to love because I thought they were of the devil...uuugh. Youve inspired me to go back to reading the things I enjoyed. You have a talent here in writing. I hope you continue with it..I want to know more of this story and that is the true test of a writer. If someone hungers for more of it.

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I'm so glad you like it. I nearly destroyed this work, on several occasions, because I figured it was crap. I wasn't published so it had to absolute garbage. So thank you so much for reading it.

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