The Rest of Forever: Chapter 3
Catch up if you wanna start the series
Silver; poisonous to the touch
A God trapped by a royal family
Immortals crafting a magical conspiracy
Dark days dominate the Stemin Kingdom
A plague rages across the capitol, and as life mysteriously drains from the land, a girl called Ambrose is tasked with following an unexpected path far from the poorer quarters she’s called home. Together with her dear friend Axel, she must journey forth across a perilous land to learn of wild magic, and confront the secret enemy spurring the end of days.
The powers that hide within silver move in unspoken ways, often trapped in the coins exchanged between hands, waiting to be unlocked by those who hold it. Today was not an ordinary day for Ambrose and Axel. In fact, what began as just another day on the job turned for the worst. The days of ease ended. While two friends would set out on a path of destiny, chaos, and despair, there was a third person in the tale whose unlikely background would change the course of Stemin. The question was if he would be a hero or an enemy.
Further into Stemin, in the Obsidian castle, a young prince paced in his quarters. Theo was the second-in-line for the throne and had been for 145 years. Perhaps “young” was a term used liberally. However to the people of Stemin, he was just as youthful as he appeared. His dark hair neatly framed his face and was tamed by a ponytail wrapped in an emerald green ribbon. The overly ornate style was a trait he gained from growing up under the influence of his dramatic and demanding royal family. Theo gazed at his reflection, contemplating making a change to his appearance, just to mix things up for the current decade. Theo was the type of man that many considered beautiful but aloof. There was a jadedness to his demeanor, a quality that turned his presence from youthful beauty to bored old man. One hundred-forty five years remaining the same perceived age tends to do that.
It came as no surprise then that Prince Theo was done with the mundane life of the castle, since he always was in a state of boredom. His mood rarely changed, day in and day out things were the same. Theo didn't mind his youthful looks, but his experience as a prince still living in this bleak and black castle was exhausting. The palace life was filled with his mother’s schemes, his father’s bloodlust, and another person dead each day. A loop of blood and silver. He didn't have room to do as he pleased and any moment he thought about exploring, he was threatened with the "Silver Stasis," a comatose state for royals to ease the burden of power they shared. He didn't want sleep decades away like his sisters. He wanted to live. He just wasn't sure what living was or what it was meant to be for him.
He turned away from his mirror and sat by the window looking down at the silver city. Someone knocked on the door, startling him from his listless thoughts.
"Prince Theo, I have brought the royal tonic," a maid said as she entered.
She briefly looked him over, blushing when she was caught, and sat the tray down. After her quick curtsy, she left, closing the door quietly behind her. He stood up and grabbed the overly adorned goblet. Looking down at the silver liquid, he brought the goblet to his lips and drank it. A foul taste that he had long gotten used to rushed through his mouth and fell down his throat. He looked into the mirror and sighed in pleasure as the silver elixir filled his veins. His black eyes glowed silver briefly and the white streak in his hair shined for just a moment as the power of the silver tonic settled in. At this moment, Theo felt the momentary thrill of silver power. Everything about his body felt powerful, like he could destroy anything and everything. He likened this to how his mother or father felt so long ago when they first had the silver tonic. The first time they...
A black raven swooped into his room and landed on the chair across from him, interrupting his thoughts. This was not an unusual sight since the raven and Theo were bonded by magic. The raven had an unnatural life and had remained Theo’s companion and conspirator since he hatched.
"Theo, I see you drank your share finally," the raven spoke, his glassy eyes sparkling with mirth.
"I had no choice Rezul," Theo responded.
He looked in the mirror gazing at his reflection.
"I hate this Rezul. I look in the mirror, each year I look the same. Is this what silver does to the royal bloodline, make us immortally boring?" Theo asked.
He set the goblet down and looked at the raven, who scolded him.
"You know better than to use that word Theo especially after 145 years. Don’t ask me to answer it if you refuse to accept the truth," Rezul responded.
The raven flew up and perched on the nook near the window, settling into the grandiose nest Theo had made for him. Theo looked at his dear friend, recalling the first time he had met the raven.
Young Theo, newly awakened out of the Silver Stasis, was playing in his mother’s garden when he came across a nest that had fallen. All of the blue speckled eggs had been crushed except one. He ran to his favorite mentor taking the egg with him. As he held the egg toward his mentor, a high enchantress, he asked her to fix it.
“Why don’t you try Theo? The Queen has been waiting to see when your magic would manifest,” she answered.
Theo frowned as he held the egg in his hands. He didn’t know what to do and he was afraid to disappoint his mother and father. He watched over the little-chipped egg for many nights. His youngest sister tried to steal it to cook it but Theo protected the little egg. It reminded him of a stone he had found in his father's wing. His mentor said it was topaz, the stone of courage and wisdom. He smiled at that.
One evening while watching his egg, he picked up a silver dagger his father had given him and suddenly, his heart clenched as power flooded his small body. His eyes hurt and his outstretched hand directed a light towards the egg. It shook and shined and Theo, scared, called for help. The high enchantress appeared before him as the egg cracked and a tiny black bird shattered its shell. It squawked and tried to fly towards the young prince. The enchantress raised her hands in an attempt to stop it when suddenly the little raven spoke.
Surprised and delighted Theo stopped the enchantress from killing the bird and instead took it on as his companion and later, his familiar. Rezul was the first familiar and bespelled animal in the history of Stemin. Theo unknowingly completed the last accomplishment that his parents would acknowledge for many years to come.
As Theo reached for the goblet, thinking on old memories, he finished the last of his elixir. He set his goblet back down and looked towards his old friend.
"Then who do I ask? Father will not even speak to me anymore; he only speaks to Thaddeus, his heir!" Theo said angrily.
He walked over to the window and looked out. His fist clenched as he contemplated what he should do. With the power coursing in his veins, his senses were sharper and his vision was far beyond normal human capabilities. He watched knights march into District D. In the distance, he watched a huddled figure leave the district and head towards the mountains. The overall shape of the figure revealed that a woman was leaving Stemin. Theo was curious, she looked back, and he could sense distress in her features. Why did she hold such sorrow in her face?
"If only I could escape this wretched place like her," Theo said to himself.
"How can you know they are a girl this far away? Are you going to alert the knights?" Rezul asked nuzzling his feathers.
"I just felt like she is. Her shape is delicate. I'm 145, I know what a woman looks like. Plus I saw her face. Magic eyes do have their benefit; the silver tonic is still absorbing into my body.”
Rezul scoffed, another sound not common to ravens but certainly common to this one.
"I think you're full of 145 years of nonsense. Anyway are you going to tell the knights? I saw some heading down to District D, they could detain her."
"No, someone should have freedom at least. What could this one girl do? Father’s knights send too many to the dungeons; he doesn’t need one more,” Theo reasoned.
He looked away from the girl.
"Rezul, shall we fly together? I am curious about this girl," Theo asked.
He closed his eyes and summoned the magic from the silver in his veins. He shifted into a peculiar form. Rezul squawked as he acknowledged the white raven that had replaced Theo’s place on the window sill. The birds took flight into the bleak grey skies and headed towards the woman escaping Stemin.
Rezul, when’s the last time I’ve left the city? Theo sent his thoughts to the raven that flew with him.
“Your father’s hunting party for your sister Trinity and her engagement about 13 years ago,” Rezul responded. Theo remembered the spectacle his father had made over the alliance of the royal bloodline and the Jewelweed family.
Ah, that’s probably why I don’t remember. I drank too much that night avoiding all the nobles shoving their marriage ready daughters in my face, Theo thought.
Rezul chuckled; the bird’s body shook with his mirth.
“If you just let your mother have her way you would never have to worry about it,” he replied.
Theo chuckled in his mind, letting Rezul’s retort win for the moment. He still followed the woman, keeping his distance as she made her way on the King’s Road.
The first night Theo and Rezul watched over her meager camp as she slept. They rested on the branches as the fire crackled in the night. The haze of smoke and jumping sparks keeping the girl warm as Theo used magic to keep him and Rezul comfortable. He thought about what might drive a woman, well a girl, like her to abandon the city. He realized that this was an unusual circumstance because Stemin was under a spell, compelling the citizens to stay. Calypso's magic alone kept people without magic in the city. How did this young woman leave? What prompted it? Theo considered letting his mother know about her, only to maintain the flimsy relationship he had with his parents, but something stopped him. Her face reminded him of his old mentor.
“You don’t think it’s strange to watch a girl at night Theo?” Rezul asked in his mind.
Theo glared at the bird.
Rezul, there are all sorts of dangerous blokes this time of night, plus who knows what soldiers wander around, Theo justified himself.
Although, Theo looked at the girl with her unusual black hair and felt an odd amount of curiosity. Rarely did he see hair so pure like hers.
“With all that chivalry you should be a prince in fairy tales Theo.”
Rezul plucked at something in his feathers. Theo looked away from his moody friend and back at the girl.
Why does she travel alone? And where is she going? Theo asked.
“I have the strangest feeling that this trip is going to be a lot longer than it should be.”
Rezul sighed and shook his head. Theo smiled internally.
Hush old friend, for once you don’t have to watch my boredom. Plus, you were the one who said I needed a new purpose.
“I meant a hobby, learn from the master enchanter or practice your silver chanting or join your damned mother and run one of those businesses in the shopping plazas. Anything but sitting in this humid forest watching some human girl sleep. We aren’t guardians.”
Guardians? I like the sound of that. Let us be that for a little while, Theo agreed.
Rezul looked at his foolish friend and thought to himself that this could only end badly.
The next morning, before she awakened, Theo and Rezul flew high into the sky looking for anything that might upset her journey on the King’s Road. Theo surprised himself, this concern for a stranger. A part of him felt that her journey was important. His eyes, still powered by silver, could see far off into the land. The barren road looked untouched by travelers, but not many ventured past the mountains on foot. When the girl awoke, she gathered her belongings and continued to follow the river.
“Smart girl, avoiding the road and any travelers. The river will lead her to Silver Lake in no time,” Rezul commented.
Is that admiration I detect Rezul? Theo asked. Rezul’s beady eyes glinted in annoyance.
“She’s smart, there is no denying that. She’d be better company then you I reckon,” Rezul said, flying a little faster to keep track of the girl. Theo chuckled and flew faster to catch up with his friend.
They followed the girl and watched over her. A week of travel and she made it to Silver Lake, a body of water bordering the land of the nobles. Theo and Rezul settled on a rock, making their presence known to the girl. Her silver eyes warmed in mirth as she stopped to rest. Theo realized it was the first time he had seen genuine joy in a long time.
By the time Ambrose reached Silver Lake she was exhausted. Her last night in Stemin and all the walking truly exhausted her. Her feet felt like bags of silver were attached and dragging behind her. Why was she doing this? Her heart clenched at the thought of her mother and Axel, both of whom she had left behind in Stemin. A truth she wished was a lie. She knelt down by the lake and scooped water into her hands. She closed her eyes as she splashed the cool liquid over her face. The water refreshed her briefly and she stopped letting her thoughts wander into negativity. She looked up and saw two ravens, both the largest and calmest birds she had seen of their kind, sitting on a rock. Their peculiar but peaceful presence made her smile. It seemed like a blessing her mother would have acknowledged. She broke a piece of bread and gave it to the peculiar birds.
"So long ravens, may your journey be better than mine," she said softly. As she walked away she did not see the white raven give an almost humor-like expression.
TO BE CONTINUED
Note from the Author:
Whew, what an interesting turn of events. What do we think of our bored prince? Theo has a world of change coming his way…are you ready to read more? Thank you for sticking with me during this journey! All comments, thoughts, and angry emails telling me to write more are greatly appreciated. I love that you’re here and enjoying my world. Big shout out to my editor and cover artist for constantly working with me and my messy stream of chaos writing. You Rock my worlds! See you all next month!