I want to first say thank you to anyone reading this. Without you these words fall on empty ears. This story has been copyrighted, and it can only exist in my personal blog, unless permission is granted.
Also, I want to give a special thanks to Stephen Lybeck who helped and guided me through the challenging 1500 word literary test. Sierra Rottman, Anthonio Mangino, and Professor Rutenberg thank you as well for being there for me, and giving me wonderful advise when I had moments of doubt. Lastly, I want to thank you, the reader, once more for being one of the reasons I write. Enjoy!
Information behind the story:
We are all born into things beyond our control. From youth we are often told what our destiny should be, and how the world works. Yet, did we ever have a choice to find it ourselves? This story is about a king who wishes to escape from the man he is becoming. The past echoes in his mind as he tasked with a burdened that may change him forever.
This tale takes place before the great war between humans and sprite in the Caligo Universe.
The Flight of a Starless Garden
By: H.S. Crow
I would rather be weak than face what lies ahead. Escape comforts my restlessness and embraces my chest with warmth. Oh, to be free of this burden and fly away. I would never come back. No more inadequacy or agony. Along, needless pain and struggle seethes from my people as they drown in worry. How pathetic I am to delay. These primal rifts must reveal my burden. Everyone must see the consequences furrow, but no one does. No one ever does. Animals, they are, born in my captivity. I am trapped in their illusory cage choking on the key. This life, I didn’t choose it. Who would?
“Council members, this atrocious verdict may doom us all. As your king, I implore you to reconsider. God will not forgive us and I will not commend such barbarism.”
My words are firm, but no eyes waver. They are resolute with their presumptuous and shrewd expressions. Restless silence soon follows like always. Ensnared in their gaze, my mind flees to mother’s garden.
As a child, I always ran off at dusk and watched the sun settle under patches of chickweed. How pleasant it is to return. The moon flatters the sky and dims tilled paths only unripe eyes can follow. The tranquil prismatic fragrance of jasmines dots the ceiling of ancient tombs that resemble constellations, yet it was the honeyed oils of oak that gathered me home. Void of responsibility and people, it hums a song without dissonant troubles in its soft breeze.
The song whispers beneath stained windows brimming with heraldic achievements, none my own, and cools the anxious sweat below my underarm. Crudely enough, it plucks me back to my intolerable table adorned with pointless splendor of all the kingdoms my father ruined. The stale stench of tobacco promises to burn my nostrils for days.
“Speak before I lose my patience!” I yell with anger I am newly aware of.
A gauntly-set man with hair, thwarting the unequivocal retreat from the crown of his head, clears his throat. “Sire, I understand your position, but those authoritarian sprites must learn their place. They started this war by attacking our brothers in the north. That transgression cannot be overlooked when the kingdom already questions your authority. Dismissing this problem could create a mutiny.”
His words hold truth I refuse to accept. My hands tingle from the lack of blood as each finger strangles the other beneath the weight of my desperation. I slam my fist with futile vigor prompting the room to stir in uproar. “Mutiny is your concern? What about your humanity? This killing will mark us devils. We must find another way.”
A woman with a boastful gown drags her hem frontward. “Humanity?” she says biting her lip and debating her next words, “there will not be any humanity to save if we continue this dovish mentality.”
The room whispers in agreement. “Sire, this crude act will darken our hearts. None of us desire it. It would be absurd to think so, but this is a matter of self-preservation,” a youth interjected with deceitful poise as tendrils of discomfort sway in conflict.
“I need time to think,” I declare.
Doors open and fresh air whisks parchments in to temporary flight. The polished tiles click as guards clad in argent armor file in and escort me out. Before anyone else speaks, I am gone. I walk briskly to avoid spiteful eyes as murmurs of dissatisfaction ring like mosquitoes at dusk.
I will deny them. They will not take my blood. The distant buzz behind me echoes down the great halls as every soul kneels at my presence.
There are times I feel my bones strain under the weight of all lives dreamt. My life is everyone’s fantasy. What silliness they dream. How astray their desires.
I travel to the tower of secrets and order the guards to leave. I watch them carefully as they vanish down the pebbled path—dry and white in the sun. The birds chirp above rustling trees as I breathe.
I trek up the serpentine stairs which is always work. My legs ache as I reach the top floor. There waiting is an uninviting door with rotted wood covered in moss. I press my wrinkled hands against the splintered surface and push. It creaks and complains as dust schools around me. I cover my mouth and enter my room of phantoms.
Old discolored paintings of my late beloved hang proudly. Her curved lips redefined my life ages ago. For a moment, she was my oasis. How I believed no one could take her from me. Everything I ever loved existed here. Merely approaching my darling Clera always shook my heart, even after father took her and mother’s garden.
Love bears limitation, he would say. Happiness carries you nowhere, he would bludgeon.
“Embrace anger Alston! It is the only thing that keeps a king alive aside for his wit,” I recite in fury as I cling to the hoary desk mottled in memories. Those words subjugated me until the day my hand was forced. His frozen eyes should have freed me.
“They should have,” I whisper.
The wavering sunlight dances on the granite windowsill. I touch the brittle remains of the jasmine buds I once cherished and watch them crumble to dust.
I caress the delicate brush strokes of my wife’s paintings until the moon reveals her hesitant face peering out at distant mountains.
“I have done my best to grow this kingdom as a king should, but this will darken minds. The heinous act will solve nothing but feed my people retribution. They need to believe I still side with them and I as well. This could determine whether our people persevere or cannibalize. I know we won’t make it divided.”
Shadows rear behind me and I can no longer see Clera. I whisper a prayer, and for a moment, I feel her in the room. Her distant laughter, her kiss, and with it every tragedy we shared. It drives me mad. My hands reach for anything as unfamiliar screams escape my tongue. I smash and raze every memory until nothing is left except for Clera’s portrait and my inherited resentment of him. Shattered glass sparkles under the moonlight as my lips quiver. I can hear him too.
I retreat to my throne room, a grueling task, as my thin pale skin weighs on my frame. I order the prisoner in and wait on my scarlet seat strung with gold thread. Candles line the walls and ceiling as frankincense snugs the chamber with a sylvan aroma.
The iron doors part and a small figure veiled in raven feathers enters. The guards bleed out with a simple hand gesture as my gaze fixates on the prisoner’s amethyst eyes. The beauty they hold haunts me as I sit in dread. I stand and quietly stare for centuries. I forget the universe and lean forward as a delicate sound pierces my ears.
“Where I’m from they say gods crumbled the stars to create us. Are you a star like me?” she asked while removing her headdress.
My skin crawls in shock as her silken hair rolls down her back in waves of ink. The figure was a sprite, but a child nonetheless – just a child.
“I thought the heir was a boy?” I muttered in anger causing her to frown.
“Boys, girls, trees, does it matter?” She responds and looks away, struggling to restrain her tears. “Are you going to kill me?” she asks with a wavering voice. My soul fractures as she takes a timid step forward. She is like me – born into power beyond control.
I stand up, approach her and kneel to wipe her tears. “I do not want to,” I admit as she weeps.
“I don’t want to die,” she sobs while reaching to hug me. Her face presses into my chest and I embrace her as if she were my own.
“Forgive me.” I cry as my mind abandons all thought. Her whimpering breath beneath my tightening grip bore into me like arrows.
She left me stranded like a shipwrecked mariner, alone, as her arms dangle beneath my shame.
The doors slam open and horrid expressions freeze over the faces on the council.
“Get out!” I howl, trying to conceal the child in my arms.
“The sprites,” a council member trembles, “Their envoy is here, and they revealed to us the true culprits behind the northern attack. It was our own people. It was us. What should we do?”
“Kill them.” I answer as iridescent feathers spill from my arms and with them each hope I bore.
“Kill who, sire?”
My hollowed gaze fixed.