Author Topic: Alphard and Demeria  (Read 12112 times)

ZeaLitY

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Alphard and Demeria
« on: August 31, 2007, 02:41:21 am »
Scene One

On a matchless day of clear, azure skies, an Enhasian dreamer lazily awoke in weary satisfaction and stretched ere leaving his soft bed. He walked quietly to the nearest window, seemingly at peace with the infinite horizon after a nebulous dream concerning winged flight. As the fresh bounty of the atmosphere filled his expanding lungs, he abruptly grabbed the panes and shut them with a crisp snap. After covering his silk-laden form, he abruptly sank back into repose, happy at last that the infernal noise leagues above him had been silenced. The others had noticed it too, if not consciously. The air was filled with the sound of fiery streaks and icy cracks, signifying a ferocious, spirited encounter somewhere below Zeal Palace.

A wayward bird observed: the struggle's heart lay several meters below the posterior of the palace, where sheer cliffs marked a sharp descent down a terraced set of gardens. Appearing to hang with no supports midway down the highest, rocky outcropping was a semi-circle stone platform, constructed with peach-gray marble and sealed with the very magic which held the dusty atoms of the archipelago's land masses together. The diameter of the structure opened up to built-in rest and observation halls, sporting tonics and charms reserved for the highest practitioners of the arts. Two such persons now occupied the flat disc, dressed in an array of purple and blue clothing; each were tensely strung in defense stances. Without pause, the male among them made his move, quickly flashing memorized signs to precipitate a blast of water. The slender female opposite his position effortlessly lunged forward, breaking his hand motions and landing a hard punch to his left shoulder. His reeling form slid a short way across the platform, kicking up a thin layer of dust. With sapphire, ebony hair blowing in the breeze, he sat up with half a grin on his face.

"Wha!? What was that for? C'mon, quit that!"

The female smirked, shaking her head while staring through his lighthearted visage. Her longer mane fluttered.

"Complaining again? Just a minute ago, you told me not to hold back!"

"We-heh...well, eheh...You know..."

She walked over, standing triumphantly above him. Instantenously her hand was on his head, ruffling his hair like a child's. Her voice echoed in his ears with a patronizing tone.

"Aww, are you through already? Maybe we should go inside! You're all roughy-wuffy beat up and it's so hot out here. I can't my wittle Alphy-walphy suffer wike this..."

"Gimme a break, sis! Q-quit that, jeez...oh c'mon! I..."

Fighting off laughter, he stood up and hardened his expression. His booming, heroic voice was flawless, save for a tinge of forced delivery.

"I...will not hold back this time."

"You saying you've still got some fight left in 'ya?"

"I was reluctant to use my power against such a poor, defenseless woman, but you leave me no choice..."

Alphard had committed the cardinal sin. In academics, battles, and the arts, mountains of men and women lay in the wake of Demeria's ascendancy to the highest rank of leadership in the Zeal guard. Her figure and height were but the foundation of the terrible wrath she imposed upon her detractors. Peerless talent and drive crowned her profound capability, and the latter seemed to boil in her eyes with sparkles of red. To belittle her as needing rescue was casting one's life into fate's abyss.

"Y-you wanted Darkness, m'lady..." Alphard stammered, struggling to maintain his acting. "Then...taste this! You're a thousand years too early to face the likes of my genius!"

His hands clapped together, slowly undertaking an arcane set of combinations which, even if known among lesser users of the arts, would naught produce the intended effect without undeniable magical prowess. In front of Demeria, her fists clenched, grew a shadowy ball of energy. Black arcs of electricity reached to the stone platform and dazzled the eyes of onlookers from within the enclave. The sunlight upon the man's face seemed to retreat as a shroud of ominous aura covered his body. As his mouth opened to let loose a primal scream, Demeria extended her leg with terrifying speed, kicking the Dark Bomb in midair and sending waves of Darkness energy flying east before harmlessly dissipating.

"Hey, hey!! I was about to release it! Why'd you have to go and do that--"

"Shhh..." she whispered, leaning in close. "There are people watching. I can't let you embarrass yourself with an eency-weency failure of a spell like that, eh?"

Alphard sighed with his trademark grin and looked upward in exasperation.

"Yeh, well...all right," he sighed.

"Sure you're all right? I don't need to carry you, do I?" she giggled.

"Hey, what!? Lay off already!"

"Oh get over yourself, Alphy! You're so tense and off-kilter today. I know tonight is pretty important, but loosen up, will ya?"

Beneath the tiled roof, the two onlookers donned their white Guard masks and resumed their conversation. Each knew that telling Alphard, second child of the royal-branch Simaelsus family and younger brother of Demeria, to relax was essentially telling the sun to rise. Alphard perfectly foiled Demeria's bright ambition, preferring to hide his innate potential with sunlit naps in viridian gardens or in the cheery company of friends, supplemented by tasty concoctions and bounties of exotic fruit. Blind misfortune selected him as one of the joint heirs of his family, but his parents notwithstanding rested well knowing Demeria would push the sky on her own. She would also push around her little brother, struggling to provoke and unlock the tremendous power gifted by his bloodline. Alphard saw few reasons to train in the absence of a kingdom to war on, and slouched on crimson cushions placed around an elegant table. Demeria took her seat, resting her left hand on a glossy crystal orb.

"Oooh, lookin' good..."

She observed as a crude hologram of their sparring appeared, animated by reflective cyan light.

"Well gee, why don't you admire yourself some more? Tch...it's not like you broke a sweat pounding me or anything," Alphard lazily spoke.

"You? Hah, don't worry, no one cares about that. But I've got to be in top form, right?"

"Oh yeah...you Seneschal-ranks have a hard time in life. Oops, did I say hard? I can't remember the last time you actually rode into battle or something. You should try it sometime. Might be more interesting than standing outside the royal hall looking tough."

Alphard laughed at his jest. Demeria declined to dignify his supposition with a response, as Alphard knew very well that only the lowest of those in the Guard were honored with such a thing as sentry shift. The position of Seneschal, or royal executor, held an important duty -- the concurrent practice and refining of the magic arts. Fairy tales and mythic beasts only minimally kept the interest in combat alive, as the Enlightened Ones had long prior begun challenging and bettering themselves in whatever unexplored frontiers of human achievement lay before them. Alphard regarded these concepts with little importance, intending to explore the wonders of existence through personal experience. One such opportunity awaited him that night.

"Speaking of 'royal', how's little miss Princess Samele Creojeanne? You ready for tonight?" she inquired.

Alphard shifted in his seat, his trepidation rising. He had forgotten that he and Demeria were one of the few allowed to attempt usage of a true, living royal's actual name, as rulers were given the "Zeal" surname in all official matters after coronation..

"Yeah, yeah...I'm ready. Got my...attire picked out and everything. I'm gonna be a serious 'presence', if you know what I mean..."

"Oh yeah?"

"I had Bejarl whip up the outfit. It's got gold-trimmed sleeves, a mosaic pattern on one of the robes...but best of all, he's throwing in a mask for my entrance."

Alphard withdrew the golden eye mask, polished expertly enough to inadvertently function as a mirror. The clothes-maker Bejarl designed its curves to precisely fit and accent the contours of his face. Demeria noted her approval.

"And I finally finished that gift..." he trailed off as Demeria's purple eyes flashed with interest.

"You have it? Like, right here? Can I read it?"

"It's no good...she's probably gonna toss it or something."

"Oh, don't be so hard on yourself. Like it matters if it's good or not to me. C'mon, let me see it!"

Alphard exhaled, releasing a worried breath without relief.

"All right, all right. Here..."

He reached into his sarong-like clothing, and withdrew a crumpled sheet of paper adorned with cursive ink. Demeria drew forward, resting her face upon her hands as her elbows found placement upon the table separating them. Alphard stared at his own writing, then half-smiled and began.

A rose unfolds in ardent, crimson shade,
With passion glowing round its verdant peers --
So too, thy blushful cheek doth cloud my eye,
The flow'ry goddess of an arbor'al glade --
The glory chief of nature's pinions dear,
With ease possessing depth and dashing life;
Adorned with loving mind, and temp'rance wise.
But when I met thy iridescent gaze,
My heart forever stood surrendered here --
As dreamers breathless pause ere light sublime,
I knelt before perfection's handsome might;
Familiar felt the boundless skies above,
And rapture came to me from sapphire sight --
My spirit sweetly flew in truest love.

Alphard's eyes drifted to the clouds beyond the columns upholding the shaded sanctuary. Demeria's hand covered a slight blush, and the growing cheer on her face was borne of sincerity. It did little to raise Alphard's dejected outlook; he quickly returned the writing to a pocket within his blue cloth.

"...It sucks, right? I mean, I tried to do this weird nature analogy, comparing her to a rose. As if that hasn't been done before...then I have to skimp on two syllables in the fourth line, and plus "arboral" just sounds weird. It's clunky and awkward. Then I move to her eyes...but do you know how hard it is to describe a person's...mind? Personality, whatever?"

"Yeah?" she encouraged him to continue.

"With physical beauty, it's so easy to talk about skin smoothness, appealing figure, eye color, and just about anything else. But how do you talk about someone's...well, the fact that you're in love with her for who she is? It comes off all corny, as if she's some kind of wise sage, or learned pillar of the community...it's all just cheese."

"You really think so?"

"Well, doesn't it look that way? "Sapphire sight", stuff like that works, but the rest is too vague and weird. She's gonna hate it. I might as well just tell her I like her or something."

"You're hopeless, Alphy."

Demeria scooted next to him as the masked men adjourned for the palace. The silence of nature allowed full attention to her words.

"You have to realize that Semele's going to like this no matter what you say with it, or how bad you think it is. Who in all of Zeal can say right now that she knows someone so taken with and admiring of her that he's willing to idolize her in poetry? It's not like you threw some pretty words on messy paper and called it gold! Get a grip. The effect is totally different when you're the person reading it. Do you think she's gonna care about a hiccuped syllable at the same time she's being compared to the sweetest flower in the world? Or when you talk about her as if her presence is the most illuminating thing you've ever felt in your life?"

A distant glance filled Alphard's face as Demeria grabbed his shoulder.

"You're just worried about it. Don't take it out on yourself! And don't think for one second that Samele won't be the happiest lover in the world once you spring this on her. If only she knew about all the things you've said to me, even! You guys have been great together, and tonight's the best time to really let loose."

"Well...yeah, I guess..."

"Quit acting like a sad sack! It's just not you. I'll tell you a secret. Don't ever, ever let anxiety, regret, guilt, or any other emotions like that distort your self composure or identity. Lesser people have destroyed themselves over anguish of their own device. So tell me: no matter what happens, you're going to the ball tonight, right?"

"Yeah..."

"So that means the few hours between now and then are pretty much useless. No matter what you do, you're still going to show up and woo her pretty heart. Why beat yourself up? Go have fun or brag or something. Maybe a hundred years from now, some critic's gonna rail your poem. But I'm not saying it's that bad! For now, stop being anxious just live through it! The only thing that matters to her is its sincerity. If it's really from the heart..." Demeria felt it was by watching his eyes.

"I get it, I get it," he uttered. "Jeez, can't you let a guy be dramatic sometimes?"

He laughed at his insecurity, and stood up with the weight of the crumpled poem pressing on his heart. He sauntered over to a nearby counter stocked with grapes and tasty citrus juice, downing a glass with haste before wiping his stained lips with the back of his hand. Demeria smirked at the prospect of a future king with such casual manners, inwardly hoping for it to come true. She knew, but did not dwell on the fact that if Alphard married Princess Samele, they would become the illustrious dual rulers of the kingdom, and she would directly answer to their authority as Seneschal. The thought of that confrontation amused her, as her open personality might run the risk of offending Samele's stringent sensibilities. Alphard seemed not to care, or perhaps Semele merely tolerated him. Alphard's eccentricities were of a warm and friendly nature, unlike the habits of the young man who stepped out of the adjunct atrium.

He was their age, dressed in orange and navy and blue. He kept his long, brown hair in a simple ponytail, but Alphard wished he'd wear it forward to obscure the begrudging look he constantly maintained. The man made brief eye contact and continued walking. Demeria stopped him.

"Well, if it isn't mister Dalton. Out here to practice?"

Her superior status overrode Dalton's bitter mood and distaste for smalltalk. He affirmed, and Demeria suggested to Alphard's horror that the two spar. Dalton was a talented Fire innate, and had risen to captain class in the Zeal Guard with little difficulty. Each addition of power and responsibility seemed to alleviate his grumpiness, but never completely dispelled the man's unsettling disposition. Demeria -- and reluctantly, Alphard -- understood that the Simaelsus family might always have the edge over such a fighter, if only by virtue of Dark arts proficiency -- and that Dalton would have much to prove by defeating one of them. In other cases, Demeria would have to order Dalton to action, but the disheveled grouch easily agreed to her request.

The encounter lasted only a few minutes. Alphard did his best to dodge and roll from Dalton's fireballs, unwilling to exert much offensive effort. His aversion ended as he grew tired, leading to the incantation for the Dark Bomb he attempted on his sister earlier. His relaxed stance was his undoing, as Dalton saw the opening and unleashed a reserve of magical energy he had stored up throughout the skirmish. The force of impact knocked Alphard to his back with a searing pain in his pectorals. The blast was one of Dalton's recent inventions, a novelty which sacrificed outward damage for personal, purely elemental destruction. Demeria leaped to Alphard in a split-second.

"That was excessive, Dalton...control yourself," she warned while checking Alphard's health.

Dalton turned to leave, muttering, "what good is practice unless it emulates the real thing? It isn't a dance...Hmph."

"I'll remember that during my next training regimen," she threatened.

Dalton nearly broke a sweat, but did not miss a step in his morose march beneath the cliffs towards the Skyway returning to the palace.

"Not cool," Alphard muttered.

Alphard rose, and dusted his shoulders. The pain did not linger, though Dalton could have easily crossed the line into real combat if he chose. Demeria walked in front of him, and the two Simaelsuses entered the internal Skyway and rode the light into Zeal Palace's ornate docking station. Alphard consulted the public baths for recuperation and purification. The warm, bubbly water seemed to permeate his skin, soothing his rare nervousness and enticing him to nap. He declined his body's invitation, instead spreading his arms on the cusp of the pool and staring upward, watching the sky through a rectangular opening in the column-held roof. The next few hours passed as a dream; he relished the secret pleasure of dressing up in exquisite clothing, and wore the golden mask with an air of clever mystique. The palace reception began with mirthful fanfare; Samele appeared in gold and blue, her pale, gray eyes colored with unusual life.

Demeria waited in the wings with a crowd of Kajar scientists, eschewing the company of her Guard inferiors for a pleasant vantage of the occasion. Forty-five minutes in and three Cherry Delights later, she spied Alphard and Samele's retreat to a side room. Proud of her little brother's resolve, she wondered if Alph's taste for exuberant, passionate living would increase. At last, he had gained someone to fight for, and experience existence with. If the feeling were anything like her own three years ago, Alphard would live in dreams not unlike the wildest vagaries of Enhasa's somnolence.

...12016 B.C.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 03:36:28 am by ZeaLitY »

ZeaLitY

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2007, 05:09:21 pm »
What? Does it suck or something?

Lord J Esq

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2007, 10:47:00 pm »
Honestly, I think people were expecting more beastiality. But that doesn't mean yer fanfic is bad, per se...

ew0054

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2007, 10:52:52 pm »
Good evening, I am a long-time reader of the site, first time poster in the forum.  I have read what you have so far and all I can say is Wow!  Where did you learn to write like that!?  This story is filled with much emotion and great attention to detail and I could not put it down until I read it through.  Your use of vocabulary is quite inspiring, especially the poem.  The only thing that detracted my attention for a bit was the use of the terms "corny" and "cheese," as it didn't seem fitting.  Everything is building up to a fluttery, romantic anticipation.  I look forward to find out what happens next!

TheMage

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2007, 11:18:36 pm »
I love it! I can't wait for you to write more. I really like the dialogue and I think it's wonderful. write more soon please?

Kyronea

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2007, 11:38:09 pm »
Frankly, I'm really liking this Zeality. Sorry I didn't read it sooner...I've not been paying too much attention to the Dream Splash contributions lately. Anyway, I want to see more.

What's really fascinating is how your style breaks tradition and is flighty and full of detail without going overboard. Usually when someone attempts this kind of thing, it either

A. Sounds too technical

or

B. They pull a Tolkien and go far, far overboard.

You have managed to avoid both, and that makes it superb.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2007, 12:25:36 am »
Well, thanks. Sorry, I was frustrated about something earlier, and seeing this with 0 replies unsettled me further.

So, sincerely, thanks. I worry to death about this, because it's my first prose piece for anything in ages, and I don't want to be flowery and misguided like I was with Gaspar Chronicle.

I'll try to write part two and three soon. Part three will be punctuated with another sonnet, this one decisively better.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2007, 04:35:39 am »
Scene Two

A wave of iridescent, shining light enveloped two figures upon a detailed platform, dissipating their shadowy impressions through millions of crystal sparkles. A column of holiness descended to the earth, uniting the land and the sky as the forms of man and woman filtered to a waiting Land Bridge with angelic flair. The beam lasted for five seconds ere evanescing in atmospheric shimmer; within the jeweled walls of the snow-covered edifice, the travelers stepped from a magical pad and affirmed their preparedness. Each wore dark purple and blue uniforms charged with a melancholy aesthetic. Beneath each crease of fabric and crevice of silk lay powerful trinkets -- spell orbs, fire-bringers, concentration rings, and skill capsules -- and opulent silver daggers stood fastened to their hips. Each accessory served to magnify elemental intensity, increasing the vigor of magic with a vastly lethal edge.

But the male felt little need for what he considered overkill. He regretted the extra weight as he moved beyond the ruby archway and stepped out into the frigid reality of earth. A freezing wind blasted the faces of the duo immediately, managing to blow snowflakes into the structure before its shield returned -- as if to slight those who dwelled beyond the reach of icy clouds. A snappy bite chastened the female's eyes, barely visible above a flared collar designed to shield the mouth. Upon each head were navy blue, argent hats, blending at a distance into the color of the horizon's beryl nebulosity. Alphard recalled the words teachers told their pupils in childhood -- to visit the cold hell below, and feel grateful for residency in the heavens. How diametric to the idea of Zeal, he thought, which conquered the frozen lands centuries ago. If there were a price to be paid for ascending to temperate climes, it had already been suffered by millions of ancestors who lived pathetically in dank caves before daring to rise in defiance of the blizzard. His only 'respect' for the howling chill was equal resentment, and he cursed having to tread in its blast this day. Zeal's winter festival was reminder enough.

He slipped behind the female, who trudged forward until reaching the edge of a jagged canyon. Looking back, their footsteps had disappeared in mere seconds. Unfolding her collar, she allowed her raven, blue hair to catch the harsh breeze and a pale expression to face the abyss.

"...I feel them. This is it, all right," she spoke.

"Bah," Alphard began. "They picked a hell of a place to hide out."

The King of Zeal strode forward, surveying the land's surrendering slope below for a path into the gorge. Demeria had taken ropes and picks if needed.

"I'm surprised they're moving again...it's not every day a pack of beasts attacks Enlightened Ones and slaughters a Nu," she reflected.

"Well, I believe it... The Demons are obsessed with magic. It's hard enough keeping them out of the Earthbound caves, but if they're going to harass us too...well, we need some kind of solution."

"Like what? Eradicate them?" she joked.

"...No...well, short of going two hundred years back in time and stopping the Starren incursion, I guess we'll just have to keep slapping them on the wrist. What a bother..."

"Well jeez, Alph," she began, recognizing his mood. "Don't let it keep you up at night."

The cold seeped through his felt gloves as he started to scale the cliff with his sister leading. Obsidian-colored outcroppings threatened to impale anyone unfortunate to slip, but the siblings' elemental attachments were decent insurance against the pitfall. Alphard did not despise the Demons as much as he hated simply having to accompany his sister on an annual, traditional combat mission. Each year, the King and Queen were required by doctrine established in the founding of Zeal to fight alongside the Seneschal on a deadly mission to affirm royal skill in a visual display. Since the sky bore no strife, many spectators declined to journey to earth, and this time, even the brave stayed away for fear of the sinewy beasts which roamed the plains. Their Demon overlords, capable of magic and hateful of humans, did little to encourage participation.

Demeria spied two garden-variety creatures gnawing at one of the rare ice-root veins which held the permafrost together beneath the sheer walls of rock. Upon closer inspection, she discovered another, tinged cyan and camouflaged amidst icicles. She cracked her knuckles.

"Yeah, we're here," she confirmed. "Rock paper scissors? If I win, I get to take on the elemental one!"

"Take it, take it. Roast it or something; I don't care," Alphard shrugged.

With a concerned look, Demeria turned from him and unleashed a wave of fire following a speedy incantation. The balls of flame burned brighter as they neared their targets; within seconds, two had been completely incinerated, including the Water-innate. The third turned and ran at breakneck pace towards Alphard, who began the hand motions for a simple spell. Neglecting his guard, he fell back in mild shock as the beast suddenly lunged in his direction. The savage animal cleared his prostrate form like a hurdle; he felt its horrible breath upon his pale cheek. Angry, he unleashed a raging yell as he exploded a Dark Bomb upon the recovering creature, negating and scattering its atoms. The weather's wispy hum became a chorus as many more heard the cry of their fallen comrades and prepared to meet the two assailants.

"Here they come," Demeria warned. "That was some Dark Bomb back there. You all right? I know this isn't the most fun part of being King..." she trailed off, listening for the inevitable stampede.

"Yeah, I guess...just a bad day."

The first leaped from a rocky ledge, its claws bared and ready to slash. Demeria withdrew her Lasher Dagger and met it in air, plunging the etherically-charged blade in a single killing blow before standing up and brushing a few ice crystals off her shoulder.

"It's that little altercation, isn't it? You still dwelling on it?"

Alphard squinted in time to see a Fire-innate beast emerge from a small cave with sparks flying down its raised back. Minimizing his effort, he simply flicked a Ice marble orb and commanded it to break with a motion of his left hand.

"'Still'? It was just yesterday, you know. Samele's still ticked off; she wouldn't even talk to me this morning," he grumbled.

Two beasts attempted a flanking maneuver, and were met by Demeria's rapid counterattacks.

"What was it you guys were arguing about, again?" she asked, knowing that Alphard's melancholy had begun long before his row with Queen Zeal.

"Just...politics," he admitted, feebly trying to dodge the conversation.

"Ah, the Earthbound again?"

"Y--"

A pack of Demonic monsters cut off his reply with furious shouts and snorts. Annoyed, Alphard threw his dagger with deadly precision at the throat of the first, preparing a Sky spell to intercept the second. Demeria recited her own display of magic, but hesitated upon seeing the aft creature, covered in brilliant, white fur. Alphard heard her command to use his spell on that particular beast; as expected, the offensive power was totally lost; the creature apparently gained energy. A subsequent Darkness blast destroyed it with ease.

"So, the Demons have figured out how to make Sky and Darkness innates...this is a little serious," Demeria muttered.

"Yeah...what a bother. I guess we have to take them over or something if they've gone this far."

The final beast rushed suicidally at Alphard, who again failed to exercise his strength in time. He casually dodged the hulking mass of flesh, escaping with only a slight bruise on his side. This time, Demeria finished the creature off.

"What's with you? This isn't a game! Stop risking yourself like that. You're really perturbed by that fight with Sam, aren't you?"

He felt shamed to admit it. Yesterday rang clearly in his mind; the darkness of the bedroom, and the forceful timber of Samele's jagged voice plagued his consciousness. The argument had been straightforward, with pauses only to draw the heated breath demanded by frayed tempers. Demeria knew the story; Alphard had likely pressed his wife to exercise her sway among her familial relatives and sphere of influence on some progressive issue, and she had probably reprimanded him for seeking to fragment the unity of Zeal's upper innates and use her as a political tool. Of course, he would never do such a thing; power and responsibility to him were frequently obstacles in achieving his own enlightenment. Unfortunately, Samele was monitored by the elders of the Creojeanne family and several other nobles who could exercise elemental skill without need of the Sun Stone. Inside those ranks, some of the older, more conceited ideas lurked in the minds of honored retainers -- precisely the people Alphard shunned with his long trips to Enhasa and vacations among the private fountains and gardens of Zeal.

"Well, looks like I hit the nail on the head," she jeered, hoping to evoke a response.

"...It's worse than that..."

Two more approached, commanded by a Mud-Tamer Imp who withdrew upon seeing the tell-tale signs of royal rank. Demeria dispatched his creations in a single motion.

"It's...like I'm stonewalled every time I try to do something. Samele can only confide to me in secret, and any time I try to take action on something she has to waffle so she doesn't cause a stir. And it's been like this for months..."

"Well then, what exactly is your agenda?" she asked, knowing the answer.

"Oh, come on. Don't give me the lectures I've heard about exploring Earthbound empowerment, or expanding Darkness power capacities among the populace. It's all for a better cause."

"Still, you're trying to make big changes," she cautioned.

"But they shouldn't be this difficult. For months, I've felt powerless. I want to move Zeal forward, or at least make some kind of purpose out of my position other than a decoration at galas."

Alphard saw Demeria begin to speak, and cut her off.

"Oh yeah, combat and ability. Well, enough of that drudgery. It's boring to refine my arts all day, and besides, Schala and my newborn son are going to continue the line anyway. At least in my youth, I could sit around and feel at peace. Now I'm chained to some throne. The only people who want to try new ideas are the Gurus, or maybe Belthasar's flock at Kajar...and everyone at Enhasa is sleeping anyway."

"What?" she asked poignantly. "Do you think you're totally alone or something?"

"Don't give me that. What have you done as Seneschal? Those little Lashers and Bashers just boss around the Earthbound who come to watch our arrivals and departures."

"Are you serious!? I doubt you've ever even noticed them; how do you know how they act? And being best buds with that Belthasar isn't exactly somethin to brag about--"

"Well, what have you done, then? Where's your voice in the royal audiences?" he snapped, desiring nothing short of total volunteering.

"You know damn well I've been to every one. Just quiet down, Alphard. You're still angry with Samele, so don't take it out on everyone. Go cool down somewhere. You don't even know about the codes--"

Steeped in self-pity, he could not tolerate such a facile dismissal of his cares.

"It's utter monotony, and no one's helping me with it. Do you know what it's like to stare down those guys? Those smug Creojeannes...they've got all their esoteric art, like the Skygate, and Hallation, and Sycle..."

"Quit fuming. You're preaching to the choir, and more people than you think are aware of this stuff. Do you love Samele?" she knew the unchanging, sincere answer, but even then, Alphard wanted to hate her today on principle alone, even if for only a second.

He would not be given the time. The Mud-Tamer Imp returned with five shadowy beasts, their type never before witnessed by human eyes. Alphard felt deprived of fighting spirit, allowing a latent fear of the Demons into his psyche. Knowing the danger better than he, Demeria sprung to her feet with Alphard stumbling behind. Despite her concentrated efforts, a dreaded Crescent Synergy erupted as her Darkness-innate aura tangled with the raw emanations of the raven, snarling creatures. Alphard tried to break it with Luminaire, but neglect and unfamiliarity with Sky power resulted in only two creatures succumbing. With quickened pulse, he slashed the neck of a third, feeling stinging pain as the creature's overcharged elemental force shocked his arm. That the Demons could breed artificial Shadow innate beasts was unthinkable. Such creatures could never recite spells, but this was not important: the Demons sought only to make juggernauts. Nearly trampled, Demeria rolled away and overpowered the fourth. But the fifth grew berserk by the death of its comrades, and exploded at her with unstoppable ferocity. A paralyzing metallic slice broke the wind's howl.

Demeria watched upon a blanket of snow as a crimson shade covered her right eye. She felt her essence seep down her nose, and partly down her left cheek. The pain did not sink very deeply into her contorted visage, and she remained conscious. She wiped her eyes to find Alphard standing tensely over her, his right arm holding a dagger and supporting the dead beast in mid-air; his left, bloodied from the dying swipe of razor claws. His thrust complete, he threw the beast to the side and turned to Demeria. Gasping, he wiped her face with a purple sleeve and began curative magic.

"The codes...I order them to...treat the Earthbound with utmost respect..." she whispered.

"Yeah, I...don't doubt it, not for a second. I'm sorry. It looks like a bad scratch. I'm really sorry...this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't..."

"Ah, who cares," she said, sitting up. "It's only skin deep. Just don't let it happen again, heh..."

*               *                *                *                   *

On a drift near the Land Bridge, Alphard paused with the thought-to-be-dead Nu behind him. Demeria stopped and noticed his glance, which seemed to extend beyond the far horizon. She knew a half-soliloquy would follow, and let the words move from his worrying mind to his tongue.

"It's my fault. I guess I'm sort of depressed about all this...it's not that big a problem, maybe. It's just hard to deal with Samele, when I know she has such a tragic past...and to confine my own experiences..."

"Alphard," she responded, "don't belittle your wishes and fears. These aren't trifles if they've managed to make you this unhappy. Sure, the Queen might be touchy and under a lot of pressure, but let her grow and wrestle her own issues. I doubt you're being mean to her."

"But what about the rest? The unending, boring struggle..."

"You're just not used to opposition, Alphard. Mom and dad let you do what you wanted, and when you did decide to put your passion into something, it was as good as done. Do you expect that personal success rate to translate into changing a centuries-old kingdom at will? It's not like we have any ancestors or past civilizations to learn from, either...we're the first. We've got a lot riding on that. So of course there's going to be hesitation on all sides. But you know in your heart that it's not as bad as it seems. You're barely a few years into this."

"Seven..."

"And you're doubting yourself this much already? You've already given Belthasar carte blanche to build that airship; you've allowed a special guild to pioneer elemental endurance...but best of all, you've commissioned amazing works of art which you'll someday match with that poetic skill of yours."

"Well...I guess, but--"

"Alphy, this is no way to go through life. You've got to care for yourself. I don't mean being selfish...but you've got to be the emperor of your life, and hold yourself to the highest standard. It's hard to see the big picture...but I'm sure you remember those days of lying around. Remember when we first saw the Shikar instrumentalists? Or walked on the cloud-platforms of Kajar? Stuff like that opens your mind to experiences and enjoyment you couldn't fathom beforehand. I'm telling you that life has a lot more to offer, and it's right around the corner. The best times are always ahead; if you make that the governing truth of your life, then your ascent will never end. Things may seem stale now, but don't ever restrict your happiness. If you suffer...make it tragic, like the part of an opera preceding the glorious resolution. And when you achieve victory...savor and celebrate that feeling like it's going out of style. Let every day be magical, no matter how awful or amazing. In every step you take, and every breath you draw...live."

The Nu blinked with the end of her speech, and Alphard reined in his thousand-mile gaze. With other friends, he may have spoken an obligatory word of feigned resistance, or perhaps make an acknowledgment in jest. Years past had taught him that Demeria had a decisive voice in his world, and their closeness meant her thoughts felt like his own, making beautiful sense upon first hearing them. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, his spirits rose with replenished youth. He stood, expectant of the pleasant return to the sky. Demeria was pleased, though mindful of Samele's intermittent coldness towards her.

"Speechless, eh? Did it all go over your head?"

She gave him an exit from the awkward reminder of her seniority. He laughed as she began to speak.

"Heh, I've got some years on you, you know. Don't sweat it. Tomorrow's wind blows tomorrow, and with it, our aspirations can gain further ground."

"Oh, now you're just trying to be profound!" Alphard exclaimed.

"Aw, this, from mister poet extraordinaire?"

They laughed, and entered the structure with the Nu, now smiling thanks to their lighthearted cheer. The scar on Demeria's visage had already closed; perhaps she would keep it as a conversation-starter. Alphard certainly would; the eagerness to regale his old friends with stories of conquering the frigid wasteland and 'rescuing Demeria' rose within his throat. The depression lifted as the Sky Gate carried his form to the heavens; the eternal blanket of clouds seemed to sparkle from his vantage above. Zeal had sailed through them the previous day, covering its meadows, lakes, and stately palaces in a thin layer of shimmering frost and snow.

The Solstice had come, and though he would spend the next hour explaining with the Seneschal that Demons had created Sky and Darkness innates, he promised to tour the glacial festival by night. He hoped to find Samele there, and apologize. The life-or-death adventure that afternoon had reminded him of the hundreds of nights of starry bliss spent in her charmed company, and knew that as a lover of winter, she would wear a captivating outfit for the final evening of celebration. He would not let his own dissatisfaction at a world she transcended but desperately clung to her to stand between them again, nor sour the childhoods of Schala and their newborn son. From the northern winds, passionate wishes would be rekindled, and triumphantly bloom with spring. And brighter, more ideal springs always awaited realization, ever unlocked by higher aspiration and more zealous dreams.

...12007 B.C.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2007, 11:56:02 pm by ZeaLitY »

rushingwind

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2007, 04:54:46 am »
Wow.  Incredible!  This is very interesting, and your writing style makes it an enjoyable read, as well.  :)

Flynn

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2007, 05:10:01 am »
This is beyond amazing. Your writing is beautiful. Your word choice is dazzling poetic and yet completely understandable to the point where the image forms perfectly in the mind. Reading it was like floating in the clouds . . . the words flowed amazingly well. It wasn't technical, and your word choice allowed the story to speak more to the heart than to the mind.


"Alphy, this is no way to go through life. You've got to care for yourself. I don't mean being selfish...but you've got to be the emperor of your life, and hold yourself to the highest standard. It's hard to see the big picture...but I'm sure you remember those days of lying around. Remember when we first saw the Shikar instrumentalists? Or walked on the cloud-platforms of Kajar? Stuff like that opens your mind to experiences and enjoyment you couldn't fathom beforehand. I'm telling you that life has a lot more to offer, and it's right around the corner. The best times are always ahead; if you make that the governing truth of your life, then your ascent will never end. Things may seem stale now, but don't ever restrict your happiness. If you suffer...make it tragic, like the part of an opera preceding the glorious resolution. And when you achieve victory...savor and celebrate that feeling like it's going out of style. Let every day be magical, no matter how awful or amazing. In every step you take, and every breath you draw...live."

That above says it all. Those words are beautiful and true. The best times always do lay ahead in the future no matter what ever happened in the past. And the part about being emperor of your life and holding yourself to the highest standard . . . extremely true. Your story was not only interesting, but spoke to the heart and that's something a lot of writers will never succeed at.

FaustWolf

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2007, 10:24:54 am »
Zeality, this IS good stuff. The prose description is very artistic - I find the portrayal of the snowbound lands below Zeal especially vivid. Keep up the good work.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2007, 05:40:25 pm »
Thanks. I just really...didn't walk away satisfied for that second part. For a span of 9 years, the characters seem sort of similar to their 12016 counterparts, especially Demeria, who doesn't get much development here (that gets rectified in the final scene). And I could have gone on and made it 4000 word, since I wanted to show them actually finding that Nu, and expand upon why the Mystics are breeding magic beasts.

And I worried that the subtlety of King Zeal's self-pity and depression would be lost, and that he'd just look like an emo bastard. And then came the problem of trying to add in my usual imagery after I've basically used every snow / cold synonym there is in the first two paragraphs...

So I hope it turned out better than I thought it did. Scene three will be sadder, but hopefully better composed.

Flynn

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2007, 05:49:22 pm »
Don't be so hard on yourself. I admit Demeria's development was a bit slow, but that final scene makes up for that. As for the characters seeming similar to their counterparts, no matter how much time passes there's always a hint of ourselves that won't fade away with time.

It sure turned out great. No worries there.

TheMage

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2007, 10:34:17 pm »
This is really fantastic! I love how your writing just flows and don't worry I saw more to King Zeal than emoness. You did a great job!

Farkas

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Re: Alphard and Demeria
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2007, 05:43:30 pm »
Meant to reply to this sooner, but when SHF dies on the ship then the internet stops working.(Two weeks without the net, alas cruel fate!)  As it is, I got back today to see you added more to your story.

I really like the way you write/describe things.  Your mastery of un-often used words is quiet impressive, and your descriptions are exotic and not at all too flowery.  I like it!

That said, I have to wonder if this is going to lead up to King Zeal's death perhaps?  Or maybe I'm just a pessismist lol.  I can sympathize with the King to see changes that can improve things only to have them blocked by years of tradition or because "it's just the way it's done." All good things take work though, hopefully he endures.

At first when I thought the first posting was the entire story, I was somewhat confused but I see it continues further so it's all cool.  I am somewhat confused on where the demons come from though.  In any case,  hope to see more!