The Rest of Forever: Chapter 9
Ambrose awoke to the light of fireflies as they danced in the darkness of the King’s Forest. She gazed in wonder as their flickering lights winked on and off in sync. She looked for Aurora, seeing no sign of the goddess of creation. Turning, she saw Axel sleeping stiffly as if prepared for battle or torture. The light from the fireflies flickered, casting a dark shadow over his scarred face. In some ways, his shadowed face revealed the handsome features obscured by his scar. Often Ambrose thought that her friend had a uniquely marked beauty. The fireflies continued to flicker. The small hoard of floating lights intensified the mystery of the King’s Forest. Illuminated shadows and crevasses in the woods appeared like a crawling darkness.
Her stomach twisted with unease. It felt like something in her soul growing into something wild and chaotic. Was this Aurora's doing? This feeling of dread and no control over her life was building with each page of her mothers journal that revealed the truth of the world and magic. Axel seemed fine; he adjusted better than she did when it came to new things. He had a silent strength that never wavered or succumbed to doubt.
Ambrose was different. She missed her comfort. She missed her perception of the world she once knew. While life in District D was not ideal living standards, she and her mom had stuck it out together. Where did all this come from? Why had her life changed so suddenly? What happened to the peace and pace of the life she once led? What was she now? Who would she be next?
All these thoughts fueled her deteriorating spirit. Her sense of self felt like it was diminishing under the threat of knowledge in the Bloodhaven journal. She was insignificant before, unnoticed outside of her strange colored eyes. She was ordinary. That's what she wanted wasn't it? A life without chaos. Peace and justice for all wronged but just an ordinary life.
The blue leather bound book teased her madness. It was this journal’s fault that her life was changing. If she hadn't sought it out she would still be living at the pace she wanted. The Bloodhaven journal was supposed to give her answers. It was not supposed to dictate her life and set a new path while rewriting the world she knew.
What if she got rid of it? The thought whispered up the spine of her consciousness like a snake. Ambrose looked around, seeing no sign of Axel awakening or Aurora. She could lose the journal. She and Axel could return, forget all the things they had learned. It would take effort. Would Axel follow her plan? She looked at her friend. Was it even possible after all he experienced? He was stronger than her. He could manage, right? The murky pool beside her tempted her hand to toss the blue journal into its depths. No one would see the words of this blasphemous book. No one would see what wonders it revealed. The light coming off the pool only made the journal glisten more, as if the journal was preset for its future watery predicament.
Placing the journal on the ground she contemplated what to do. The gospel and last words from her mother should not drown in a lake. It was the last piece of her. The connection to her past and future. She wrapped her arms around herself. Only to think of the one question that would answer her plight.
Would my mother support my choice?
A foolish question or one with great merit and meaning. For one, not following her mother’s plan and returning to Stemin would disappoint her mother’s legacy, but Ambrose felt her mother would want her to live the life that Ambrose wanted. Ambrose had always done that. All her life she was given the best that her mother could acquire peacefully and lived by the choices and opportunities her mother helped her get. She lived twenty years with her mother’s support. In all this time she took it for granted. Twenty years is a lifetime of support but this wasn't a question of having her mother’s support. This was a test for whether Ambrose could gather her wits and support her mother now, in order to support her in a way she couldn't the past two decades. This was her chance to do something meaningful for her mother. What cowardice she felt to even question it. Ambrose shook her head, letting her doubt rescind back into the corners of her mind. Foolish questions indeed. She knew what needed to be done but still grappled with the fantasy of what she wanted out of life. Was her old ordinary life worth it with this new knowledge?
Ambrose gazed at her sleeping friend, lost in her thoughts. She barely noticed when his eyes fluttered slightly.
“You have not starred at me so intensely since we were young,” his voice mused from the darkness.
She smiled. His dark eyes fully opened and, for a moment Ambrose thought they flashed orange. Just the light of fireflies she thought.
“In truth, I’m unsure of this path set before us. I cannot sleep,” she confessed softly. Axel sat up now running his hand over his cropped hair.
“Does it frighten you?” he asked as his eyes bored into hers. She nodded and he scooted closer to her.
“I may not be as strong as my mother was. She was an enchantress. I’m nothing compared to that. She knew royalty and frolicked in political unrest with courage.”
Unwillingly, tears pooled in her eyes. Axel pulled her into a warm embrace, to muffle the sounds of her grief.
He held her for a long while. The tears ended. Whatever wells of tears Ambrose had, she overspent in this moment. She dabbed at the corner of her eyes. Axel loosened his arms, letting her find space away from her grief. She thanked him softly and he nodded. His dark eyes flickered with concern and that spark of red and orange happened again.
“I swear your eyes are changing colors.” Ambrose chuckled, “I must be going mad.”
“Yours are too,” Axel whispered.
Startled by his remark she rushed to gaze into the pool. Her reflection revealed that the color of her eyes was changing. A remarkable sight to behold. Her eyes shifted similarly to Auroras, just slower. Silver to blue. Silver to green. Silver to purple. Silver to black. It frightened her. Her hand reached to touch her face. What else had changed?
“What is happening to us?” she croaked out.
“I think this is magic Ambrose.”
“This is nothing like what we’ve seen before. This is Wild Magic.”
Axel looked at her, he nodded in solemn encouragement and Ambrose opened up the journal sensing that what answers they needed were in the Bloodhaven journal.
From the Bloodhaven Journal:
Ambrose when I was selected to learn magic from my mother I was thrilled. To unlock magic in the blood, the King selected only a few trusted families or royal subjects to drink the vial. As the daughter of the most respected enchantress it was inevitable that I would be tested for magic.
She passed unto me a vial of silver liquid. After drinking it, I collapsed as its essence burned my veins. My mother smiled in glee. Had I not been her daughter my body would have exploded, rejecting the silver elixir. It took me weeks to finally regain control over my body. Weeks of a fever and screaming as my body adjusted to the Silver Magic. It invaded my body, unlocking power inside me. Unlocking magic was not easy. It felt like I had the power inherited from the God of Destruction himself. When my eyes opened, my mother’s stern face greeted me. Her eyes held a sparkle but not for my recovery. Her eyes sparkled with a new-found ambition.
“You passed the ceremony of Apollos daughter. You are the first to awaken from your class.”
At the time I faded back into sleep, her words barely registering. I trained for years to serve the Queen Calypso with my mother. Of the five in my ceremony, only two made it. I once asked her about why many did not survive the ceremony and that’s when she told me the history of wild magic and its place in Stemin.
Our city was built in a day. I didn’t believe my mother at first. I thought for sure she had fallen ill to say such utter nonsense. Her words were paired with a smile but not one of joy. She smiled with eyes of pure desire, desire for power. The Obsidian Castle, that monstrous building that is a city in its own right, was erected out of the ground in one day.
Oleander and his brother, whose name has been erased from history, conquered a god and trapped him into the mountains to take his power for their own. They bound him into the stones to siphon his very essence. When the brothers consumed the god’s spirit, their bodies welcomed his power. They built the city, the true silver city. Before the districts and outer layers, Silver City was a place of power. All the descendants of Forve had access to their ancestral wild magic. The Silver City thrived under the 200 immigrants of Forve for a short while. The Forvian immigrants grew restless. They had power, land and freedom but they wanted more. The Forve warriors conquered the original natives of this land, who did not have the knowledge of magic. They enslaved them, took their resources, and mated with them.
Oleander and his brother led mercilessly and violently. Blood seeped into the earth for many moons. Then a portion of Forvians decided that Oleander and his brother needed to be removed from power. Of the 200 forvians who fought Oleander and his brother, only 33 remained. Oleander commanded them into service and had them swear a bloodline allegiance. Not all of them did. Only five families and one other person followed his orders. The others were slain. The remaining became his noblemen. The horror of battle and its aftermath cost Oleander and his brother almost all of the god’s power they had left.
There was a solution that came from the lips of one beautiful woman. The one who swore into allegiance alongside the noble families was a young but powerful enchantress named Calypso. Her seduction, her charms, and her deadly knowledge aided Oleander in his power over the Silver City, which they named Stemin. A name from the old tongue which loosely translated to “Mind Realm”. The new King and Queen were powerful. He loved her and she loved him. She and Oleander were a fearsome pair, and she was the one who whispered the ultimate darkness into his heart. For the chance to rise in power and have full reign over Stemin, Oleander needed to kill his brother and consume his flesh.
The betrayal of his brother and the consumption of his flesh, that Oleander shared with his bloodthirsty mate, gave them power again. All that power came at a price. The remainder of the stolen power consumed all of their wild magic. However, this wane in their power and the loss of wild magic did not phase them until it was too late. Calypso and her bloodthirsty king had begun to lose their power. The noble families and council gathered together to seek out a way to save the King and Queen. Without them, the god under the mountains would rise up and destroy them all. They debated and put together all their knowledge into finding a way to restore their magic back to its formidable quantity.
It was on the eve of one night that the answer they sought presented itself. The Queen, struck by anger, hit one of the maids, drawing blood. The moment her nails hit her face and drew blood, she sensed it. Wild magic lay dormant in her handmaiden. She was a descendent of one of the Forvian warriors who had conquered her native village. The Queen’s lust for power had her taste the tip of her nails. She smiled as the power in the girls blood rested in her body. It felt like she returned to her old self. Unfortunately, the power of the maid’s blood was short lived.
The Queen brought her discovery to the King, after butchering the maid and spilling her blood to prove her discovery. It was already rumored that the Queen had a taste for blood and the cravings drove her blood lust. With the help of nobles and the knowledge of her mother’s tribe penchant for metal magic, the Queen found a solution that would save their magic from dying out. The god’s power inside of them needed wild magic to live since it was not inside of the god itself. The power they pulled from the mountain needed to be satiated. So the King and Queen created a dark curse. A curse that would help feed the essence of god inside them. The Argentum spell would infect the silver from the mountains by drawing a portion of the god’s power into its ores. Once an abundance of silver was touched or handled by descendants with Forvian blood, their bodies would transform into silver over time until they died. Their hearts would be infused with the power of silver and purest essence of wild magic. Together with the Noble households, they decided to make Stemin’s currency silver, making the demand higher and necessary to live in Stemin. Copper and gold played into the currency, but the silver was most desired. For those who had Forvian blood, handling the silver pieces was addicting.
Calypso and her council created a way to harvest the hearts and create what came to be known as the Silver Elixir. Experiments cost many people their lives. The people of Stemin heard of the experiments in the castle and of the harvest. A faction of them built a rebellion and stormed the castle the same night the elixir was perfected. The first perfected elixir was poured into the King’s chalice, and he drank its contents. He shared the chalice with his queen who eagerly emptied the remains. Rushed with wild magic and feeling the Gods power stir, the King and Queen assumed they had found their solution.
While the residents of Stemin broke into the castle, driven to end the blood harvest, Calypso and Oleander collapsed. They screamed in agony as their bodies began to change. Everything changed inside of them. The curse of Apollos set in. The power destroyed their original bodies and crafted them into near immortal beings. Their dark hair sparkled and shined with silver. When they opened their eyes, Calypso and Oleander woke to silence. Everything was still. They gazed at each other and at their new bodies. They were beautiful. Enhanced beings, they looked around and saw the angered citizens of Stemin ready to kill them.
Together with their immortal powers they wiped the memory of everyone in Stemin, including their Forve Nobles. No one would know what they had done. They reset the city, ensuring that the citizens would never know of the Silver Harvest and making sure the town would continue producing children to continue the bloodlines. They ruled like this for centuries. The five families were never given the gift of immortality, and their lines continued under the curse to serve Oleander. They ruled a prosperous and wealthy kingdom. Eventually, once the system of harvest was in place and the old magic long forgotten, Calypso proposed teaching magic again, to ensure the bloodlines would not wane. It was hard finding candidates worthy of their teachings and with enough Forvian blood to be of any use. Soon magic thrived again among the royals of Stemin and those who passed the test. The wealth and vastness of the land expanded with the mountains’ production of fresh cursed silver never waning. However, the more generations that passed, the thinner the wild magic blood became. It took longer and longer for the curse to settle. The demand for the Silver Elixir was higher, and its diluted version only worked on the enchanters under Calypso’s tutelage. To ease the brunt of the god’s stolen powers and its curse, Calypso and Oleander gave birth to four children who each took a portion of the god’s power inside of them. Later they became immortals like their parents, cursed to desire wild magic to feed the void and power of the god’s essence inside of them for eternity.
When I heard my mother tell this story, I threw up. Disgusted with what was inside my body but she only smiled. I asked how she could know this, if there was no record of this history anywhere in the libraries or castle. She smiled slyly.
“I am the Queen’s High Enchantress, as you will be daughter. Our duty to the Queen, with the length at which our family has served her, has earned this title.”
I looked at her then, wiping my mouth and seeing nothing but evil in my mother’s form. This woman never loved me; she was only a puppet to the Queen, producing another puppet.
“Why not go to Forve and go back to the source of wild magic?” I asked her then. She laughed at my disgusted face.
“Foolish girl, we can’t even find it. The desert is the barrier between their land and ours. They are protected by a Goddess. Whatever power is there is forbidden to us. We are bound to using silver for our magic,” she lectured.
“Well then I shall go to Forve so that we can stop killing our people!” I proclaimed.
My mothers proud smile still haunts me. I learned more about silver bound magic. I eventually became the apprentice to the High Enchantress of Stemin for a time. It was then I began my quest for wild magic.
Wild magic was pure and limitless, depending on how much you practiced and strength of mind. Silver bound magic used in Stemin was weaker in comparison. It costed blood and pieces of your soul to use, and I wanted to lay waste to taint of silver in my body.
TO BE CONTINUED……
Middnite Designs has OUTDID herself, this cover blows me away. The Bloodhaven journal has revealed some crazy things, did you think their world was like this? BIG thank you for the chaos change of two edits a month from my editor Melanie, I’m excited for another chapter of Rest of Forever at the END of JUNE! Small Hiatus so I can seek out a new job!