|posted on 23-Apr-2002 9:24:07 AM by Hal|
|Hi, I have problems with this site. It lets me register, then when I log off I can't log back on again. This is the last time I am going to try and post here. If the same thing happens again, I will post the story regularly on the old ezboard board.|
-- This chapter introduces us to Max, and the entire healing scene between he and Liz.
‘... And as soon as I gazed upon her I knew it was love.’
-- The Chronicles, Chapter XI- Zan On Ava
I never knew how much I had in common with my predecessor until I met her. Liz. My soulmate. My-
There are many words I can use to describe her. I could say she was pretty, beautiful, enchanting, wonderful, awe-inspiring, but none of them can adequately capture the feelings inspired as I watch her smile at some mundane joke. A twinkle in her eye, as a delicate ivory hand brushes a lock of midnight hair from her perfect face. I could watch her forever. If it wasn't for my Second, and his annoying sense of duty, I would.
"Max, we have to go!"
Michael. Rath. Second. Whatever his name is, he retains the most annoying habit of refusing to use the proper terms of addressing me. Not that I mind, of course, but I doubt the Council, who monitor our every movement, would concur. They need continuity. To them, manners are the way to achieve it.
They are just as wrong now, as they were in Zan's time.
"One more moment?"
I smile slightly at him, and he grudgingly nods his head. Along with an overdeveloped sense of duty, my Second has also an over-embellished sense of loyalty with regards to me. He would die for my slightest whim. I don't know if that scares or soothes me.
I turn my attention back towards Liz. She is still talking to her friend, Maria I think her name is. They laugh and chatter every morning. Business is slow in the mornings; I've gathered that much during my frequent sojourns into this Cafe. For this I am grateful. Liz's laughter makes the rest of my day just that bit more bearable.
My Second murmurs next to me, whilst picking at his burger. This in itself is unusual since he loves meat- it is in short supply back at camp- and normally he has finished three such burgers by now. I frown at him, meeting his hazel brown gaze with my own. "It isn't meant to be Max"
I nod, and then turn back to Liz. I know that. That is the reason why I have kept my distance. Liz and I are never meant to be, we are too different. Too-
Bile suddenly rises to my throat. I instinctively reach towards my glass of coke and gulp down some of its contents. Isabel's injured again. Whenever she is hurt I feel it, as a massive bout of indigestion.
Letting out a sigh, I turn to Michael-
"Well, you have your wish. Lets go. It seems your betrothed has hurt herself again"
Is it me, or does my Second's face crumple at the mention of his fiancée? I smile. Those too have an interesting relationship, to say the least. Hovering between indifferent to cold and sometimes even icy. It’s a lot like my relationship with my soon to be Queen- Well not entirely. At least Tess and I can talk.
He rises and makes his way outside. I linger a moment longer, hoping to catch a glimpse of Liz's rich mahogany gaze. Unfortunately she has turned. No matter. Her beautifully silken hair shall inspire me unto battle.
I grin as I let myself out of the restaurant. Sometimes the resemblances between Zan and myself run a little too close for comfort.
We are warriors. The reincarnations of the Great ‘Royal Four’, who back in their time, were considered almost godlike. That is probably why the Council refashioned them in their battle against the enemy. Having Gods fight alongside you is a tremendous, and sometimes critical, ego boost to even the most world weary of warriors. Plus, we have some nifty powers too.
“Is she hurt bad?”
Michael asks as we sneak under the barbed wire fence that divides us aliens from the human population. It is a creation of the US authorities, after they began to get complaints from locals about the number of refugees who fleeing the five warring worlds, hope to encounter a more peaceful life here. Aliens are not to move outside the fence. It is law, and anyone found to break it, is shot on sight. Apparently the idea of all men created free and equal, only applies to humans.
“I don’t think so. It’s only indigestion. If it was really bad I would probably get diarrhoea too ” I smile, trying to make a joke out of it. I know what Michael is feeling. I feel the same thing. We should never have left her alone in her chamber.
We scramble over the rocks that encircle my large kingdom and not for the first time I wonder at the beauty and magnificence of the desert. It is at once a mesh of contradictions- dry and barren due west, cold and tundra like up north, wet and springy down south and fertile and lush during its approach to the sea in the east. I suppose that is why I find it so remarkable. And excepting the massive shortages of fresh meat, this is not a bad place to live. No, that is a lie. It would not be a bad place to live, if the Skins hadn’t had followed us here. Now, our fair desert is merely one long battleground. I sigh, and reaching into my back pocket, pull out a packet of cigarettes. I developed the habit last year, during one of my sister’s darker episodes.
“Can I have one?” Michael asks, habitually, as he takes a cigarette. We use our powers to light them, and continue the ten-mile walk to Antariana in silence.
“She’s really bad, but the Council won’t let her out, not even for treatment. They have told everyone that the Skins are using her as some kind of communications device because of Vilondra’s special relationship with Khivar. Is this true?” Tess asks me as I walk down the corridor leading into the Royal Quarters. She was waiting for me just outside the series of caves we call a palace, looking anxious and withdrawn as she played with her veil. She doesn’t like to put it on, I know, and to be honest they don’t really suit her. Tess is a warrior, not a concubine. She looks better and more comfortable in pants and shirts with laser guns strapped to her tiny waist. But the Council disagrees, and I have to, for the sake of appearances, agree to whatever they want, in matters of custom and tradition.
“What do you think?” I ask sarcastically, pulling my communications device off of my shirt collar so the Council cannot hear our conversation. They have no need to. They have no hold of me inside my own home.
“I think they’re a bunch of sanctimonious bastards!” Tess spits out the words disgustedly and I can’t help smiling. From all of us, she is the most like her predecessor. Ava was just as spirited, if not more so, and loved to spar with Zan and wrestle with Rath, frequently, beating them both. I should know, I have every one of Zan’s memories of her. She was the love of his life. Maybe if I hadn’t had seen Liz, she would also have been mine.
“Where is Isabel now?” I ask softly, as three serving girls emerge from one of the adjoining corridors. Sometimes, when her episodes are very bad the Council moves her into the dungeons to prevent others from hearing her ravings. I can sometimes prevent this if I am in the desert at the time. Needless to say, I am usually outside. Scouting for Skins in ‘outlaying lands’ is a large part of my work.
“In her chamber. She has been quiet ever since the Council let me give her, her guitar. Do you want me to go in with you?”
“No. That’s okay” I smile at Tess, and lightly kiss her brow before she turns back into her own chambers. Isabel’s chamber is directly in front of me. It is the largest and most spacious. I made sure of that when I oversaw the plans for the palace. But all that seems so very long ago now, and as I brush aside the curtains that lead into my sister’s room, I realise that Isabel has barely changed during that time. She is still the same intimidating, beautiful princess who craves more than her station could ever provide.
She wants to fight. The Council doesn’t let her, so she fights herself. And I have to heal the repercussions.
“Hi” I mumble, trying to ignore her bloody glass embedded feet, as I make my way towards her window. She has a silver grey guitar in her hands- a gift from our Dad, when Nasedo finally arrived to take us away shortly after her thirteenth birthday. She hasn’t parted from it since.
“Do you remember when Nasedo came to take us away?” She turns to me slightly; golden hair rippling in waves past beautifully sculptured shoulders before tapering into a mass of curls at the base of her spine. She, like Liz, is also perfectly beautiful, but that is where their similarity ends. I indicate her cut feet and run a hand softly through her hair.
She smiles an unearthly smile before strumming a few notes on her guitar. The beginnings of some hauntingly perfect melody they echo to some hidden part of my soul. I pull her closer to me, and without uttering another word, send tendrils of blue white energy into the backs of her hands. For the briefest second she glows. “You persuaded me to go with Nasedo. You reminded me of our duty to all those people who needed us to fight for them” I bury my face into her hair, tears forming in my eyes as I remember our conversation so many years ago. Without her, I would not have joined Nasedo, and Antariana would never have been formed. Without Isabel, I would have crumpled at the first hurdle- her thirst for making a difference, for honour- it drove me. It still does. Even when the Council betrays her then childlike trust, with every decision it makes against her. They still remember Vilondra’s betrayal; as a consequence, they shall never trust Isabel. It makes no sense to me. Isabel is nothing like Vilondra.
She sighs, and without another word, moves towards the bed. Her feet have now healed, and unable to keep myself in here any longer, I leave, my heart beating heavily inside my chest. I shall need to make another visit to Liz later, otherwise I don’t think I’ll be able to make it unbroken to tonight.