Bloodstains: Part 1
The first installment in a multi-part fiction series by CJ Hurtt, Writer/Content Planner for Dawn Of The Tyrant.
“Sitting in all this darkness is bad for the nerves and mind.”
Kishati pulled the curtain and the room went white. Anaïa held her hand up to protect her eyes, her lips pulled back. The sun’s intrusion retreated slightly and the details of the room formed around her.
“Late night?” Kishati asked.
“Yes. No. Not really. I just didn’t sleep well.” Anaïa stretched. Her wings ached from her restless night. She stood at the window and sighed. Her family’s É-Temmen was a respectable five stories tall with many rooms and far more ornate than those surrounding it. Still, Anaïa wished it had just one more floor if only so she could see the horizon.
“If you were any other... child of elevated status, I would suspect you were in the entertainment districts. You, though, youngest of the grand Brightwing family, you are more prone to see the sunrise through the windows of the Library than the doorway of the dance hall.”
“It wasn’t my intention. Besides, I was in last night. Just couldn’t sleep,” Anaïa said.
“Very well.” Kishati set a dish in front of Anaïa. The rest of the family would be arriving soon.
“And if you were any other servant in any other noble family’s É-Temmen, “Anaïa said, “You would be flogged for such familiarity.”
The two grinned as the sound of footfalls echoed in the hall, their smiles fading with every step.
Haësidir crossed the dining room and threw open the window without a sound. The greeting-less mornings were nothing new. There were always duties and Causes to be tended to. The home fires would need to be stoked by others. His life was for the battle. His time was for the People.
“Nobleman Thracïus Ardenum has announced his alignment with Thronós Vicerëon on the issue of public works and natural beautification,” The Poet of Skulls yelled from the streets below.
“Of course. Thracïus the Viper. Apt name. Coward. He’s going to drain Vicerëon of funds and use whatever reflected glory that he can to push himself higher up the ladder.”
“Good morning, Father,” said Anaïa.
“And the euphemisms? Why do they bother? Public works? Beautification? Is there really a cause for that? Defence and the eradication of the Kheïtanni. That is what those are. Why hide that? We do not need these gentle words. They are against who we are. They imply shame. What is this new generation of soft warriors with this…?” Haësidir trailed off. His eyes scanned the rooftops.
“Please close that window, Haësidir. It’s far too early for such ignorant bellowing.” Alashëa had silently entered the room.
“Good morning, Mother”
“I remember when being Poet of Skulls meant something other than being a loutish…town crier. Building stories from events. Archiving. Communicating meaning and preserving history. Now all any of them do is try to gossip louder than their rivals. It’s…beneath the art.” Kishati laid out the breakfast as the room filled with the measured and quiet sound of morning.
“The Mouth of God will be delivering a recitation of the Three Pillars of Progress today, dear. You should go. It is important to remember our Cause and goals,” Alashëa said.
Anaïa tried to hide her smirk. “Mother, the Mouth of God is just a puppet. Rhïarrh is nothing to follow unless you seek madness.”
“Child!” Alashëa held her hand up to silence her daughter.
“We should aim for the heavens, not the Void,” Anaïa said, “That machine with its recorded messages falling out of a dead body’s mouth? No one believes in that anymore except the Rhïan and we made them, just like we made the lie they listen to.”
Kishati lowered her head and ducked out of the kitchen.
“Fantastic. Now we’ll have a sulking Rhïan and a late dinner,” Alashëa said.
“She knows what she means to me. Us. It’ll be fine,” Anaïa replied.
“At any rate, The Mouth of God is an important fixture to our people.”
“We have all sorts of fixtures. Not all of them help us achieve our goals.”
“The Mouth was once a direct line to Rhïarrh. It was the conduit to the Fire of Heaven Himself!”
“And now it’s an echo of time best forgotten,” Anaïa said.
Haësidir chuckled and stared down at his food avoiding his wife’s reproachful look.
“Belief is important. Construct or not, we must remember who we are and why. The fight and Cause are meaningless without that,” she said.
“Your mother is right, even if she does border on superstitious. The Mouth of God is a historically significant artifact. You already know better to take it literally, but it would do no harm to recognise its value.”
Anaïa sighed. The idea of spending the day following the dusty footsteps of too many generations as they wind and turn through the habit of tradition did not fill her with joy. The Lánaraï were a proud people. They achieved great things. She did not wish to witness their stagnation. They were mighty and deserving of victory. The time was coming to push them through their collective inertia and lay waste to their enemies as they leave this wretched planet forever.
“I feel like I’m at the end of history,” she said. If anyone heard it above the clatter of dishes being cleared, they didn’t respond.
Kishati called from the hall. “Mistress Anaïa, you have a visitor.”
Standing in the entryway of the É-Temmen was Tamïan. The feathers of his wings were slightly ruffled.
“What have you been up to?” Anaïa asked, stretching out the words with an accusatory tone. He had that look. There was some sort of mischief afoot.
“How would you like to make your mark?”
“What are you talking about?”
“There’s something in the air and you know it. We all know it. You want to be a part of this. We figured out what we need to do.” He was almost giddy. She knew that whatever he had going on it was more than the usual poorly thought out prank or power play that he usually spearheaded.
“By ‘we’ you mean?” She asked.
“All of us. The Guiding Flame. Come on. You’re needed.” That was interesting. The Guiding Flame was the self-given nickname for her small clique of friends, each a child of a noble or influential merchant. They sought excitement via meaningful acts rather than the empty thrills some of the other bored and rich get up to. They were, however, still bored, rich, and young.
“Let’s go!” she yelled.
The slam of the door echoed through an otherwise nearly silent house. Reciting quietly from a Tome, Alashëa was building a Narrative of the past. The future was starting to reverberate backwards towards her. She felt her chance to build the History all future generations would know.
Haësidir sat silently in his office. He would send word to his allies. There was a shadow on their door.
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