The Dark Night Of The Soul: Book 1: Chapter 1:
There’s a kingdom similar to the Garden of Eden before and after the temptation. The first half of the kingdom was a pure vision with tons of saturated food, everyday life, glens, mountains, and trails that could lead you anywhere if you weren’t careful.
After hours of etiquette lessons, Genevieve Violet Reins replaced a waist empathizing vivid color ball gown with a blouse and pants. She dashed to the door that hid the book to all her answers. There was one thing in her way: the guardian that halted her every time she wanted to pass.
“Genevieve Violet Reins, how many times do I have to cover for you?” Josalyn, her best friend, the princess of their kingdom, asked. She was stern-looking with everyone else but Genevieve. She’s pale-skinned, skinny, with sun-like locks and emerald eyes. She wore a Cinderella silver gown and a tiara and amulet that matched.
“I apologize, but I was better off this time,” Genevieve said.
“Do we have to go back?” Genevieve sighed.
“Yes, we do, your mother wants a word with you,” Josalyn replied.
A surplus of frogs paid rent in Genevieve’s throat as they walked back.
The queen, Elizabeth, and Genevieve’s Mom, Arianna, were talking like the best friends they had always been.
“Sometimes I wish Genevieve was more like Josalyn; it would give me less of a headache,” Arianna, Genevieve’s Mom, said as she sipped her tea.
“Sure, she’s not a traditional woman, but she’s not supposed to be,” Elizabeth, Josalyn’s Mom, and the queen said.
“Elizabeth, no man will come near her, and she’s not getting younger and neither am I,” Arianna pointed out.
“I know,” Elizabeth said.
There was a knock, and the girls walked in when their parents permitted them.
Genevieve couldn’t keep her eyes on her mother’s scolding expression, so she focused on squeezing her best friend’s arm and the mirror in the corner. I am not beautiful. My pigmentation is too dark. My height is too short and I look out of shape. My hair is too erratic. I have lazy eyes with no light in them. And these clothes make me feel like a fraud. Josalyn is so beautiful. Tall, elegant, poised, someone’s wife. She is everyone’s choice.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Genevieve’s mother waited.
“I’m not that and will never be,” Genevieve spoke.
“A disgraceful, fat pig!” her mother said.
Genevieve looked at the queen and saw her jaw drop and her soul diminish. She faltered. “You’re right,” she spoke and ran off.
“You think you’re so elevated; however, if it wasn’t for my Mom, you wouldn’t have a title,” Josalyn chased after her.
“You will not return to this castle until you learn to respect and I strip you of your title,” Arianna ordered.
“Fine,” Arianna walked out.
Genevieve went to the never-ending river and sat on the edge of the bank. Her feet dangled in the rippling river. The sun was counting sheep. Ambers and rubies were on the trees surrounding her.
“Lady Genevieve, your princess wants a word with you,” Josalyn approached her and sat next to her.
“I’m no lady,” Genevieve said.
“I could give two shits what your wretch of a mother says; you are a lady in my book,” Josalyn pulled her friend close.
“Thanks, but-,” Genevieve sniffed.
“You have natural bravery and empathy; you can’t teach that,” Josalyn said.
“What are you saying?” Genevieve asked.
“I want you to give yourself a chance like everyone you meet,” Josalyn smiled. “Shall we go to eat like pigs?” she asked.
“I love you so much,” Genevieve eased.
Elias was waiting for them after a mile of riding horseback from his home. “Evening Princess Josalyn and Lady Genevieve,”
“Good evening,” Josalyn curtsied.
“Can you guys just get together already; you are torturing the universe with your sexual tension,” Genevieve pulled his horse, Percy, to the stables.
“It’s not up to us and you know it,” Elias was ghastly in energy and expression.
“I know, but it could be,” Genevieve answered.
“How are the etiquette lessons going?” he asked.
“The same it’s always been, and my mother will get my wrath if she’s not careful,” Genevieve explained.
“When has anyone known your mother to be cautious?” he asked.
“That’s a fair point,” Genevieve thought.
“Regardless, do not disrespect her, she is family, and that is beneath you,” Josalyn advised.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Genevieve sighed.
“How are the fence lessons going?” he asked.
“That is my home,” Genevieve beamed.
“Then you should train with me,” he suggested.
“What are you talking about?” Josalyn wondered.
“I’m saying that if I recommend you they have to train you,” he said.
“Bless you, Elias,” Genevieve hugged him tightly.
Genevieve skipped happily to her bedroom. Her bedroom was her escape from reality. It was smaller than any other room in the castle. There was also a mirror and a chest with her name carved into it. A bed was under the window. Some wouldn’t be able to stand sleeping there, but she was a simple 24-year-old. She grabbed a clean and roomy nightgown and went to take a bath. If you can hear me, can you do me this favor?
The door that hid the secrets to an ancient prophecy heard Genevieve’s request.
Elizabeth pulled Genevieve aside the following morning. “Dear, I hope your mother has not made you think poorly of status,”
“Honestly, I feel so sorry for my mother,” Genevieve replied.
“Why?” Elizabeth asked.
“A status and power was her dream come true, but she is too far gone, I guess,” Genevieve revealed.
“That’s no excuse to say such lies,” Elizabeth said.
“I know, would you mind if I leave the castle for a bit, I will have an escort with me and I will be back before lunch,” Genevieve asked.
“I’ll allow it; but please be careful and I have a favor to ask,” Elizabeth said.
“What would that be?” Genevieve asked.
“Josalyn and Elias are going on a date; can you be a chaperone?” Elizabeth said.
“Sure,” Genevieve said.
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said.
Josalyn walked in, and she was so giddy. “Good morning,”
“So, Elias finally asked to court you?” Genevieve smiled.
“Yes, finally,” Josalyn sat, and they ate.
Genevieve and Josalyn got ready together after breakfast and after they bathed.
“Do you have any guesses about your date?” Genevieve wondered.
“No, but I know this, we have to get to that battlefield,” Josalyn smiled.
“Do you mind that I’m your chaperone?” Genevieve asked.
“I wouldn’t pick anyone else,” Josalyn looked in the mirror.
Elias was waiting impatiently and nervously in the throne room. “Where are they?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “Girls need more time to get ready, are you nervous?”
“Is it that obvious?” he asked.
“Well….” Elizabeth pondered.
“Great, maybe-,” he sighed.
“Nonsense, my daughter has chosen after a lot of thinking, and to me she chose right,” Elizabeth dismissed his doubt.
“Thank you,” it relieved him.
“Hurry, we will be late,” Genevieve hasted and pulled them along all the way there.
The training of future white warriors and temptations was about to begin. The battleground was still dewy from the rainstorm a few days ago. A surplus of men stretched and while some got water or gathered their weaponry.
Genevieve arrived. And took off her dress quickly and revealed her tank and shorts.
The guys looked her way and smiled.
“Hey, love, are you here to patch us up?” one asked.
“Not in a million years,” Genevieve said. “I’m here to train,”
“Huh?” they wondered.
“I recommended her and the general give me permission to bring her,” Elias explained. There was silence and intensity when the general arrived. They all lined up.
“This will not be easy, so if you think you can’t handle it, don’t waste my time,” the general stated.
Genevieve felt the shots being targeted at her. You couldn’t have made it any more obvious, pretty eyes?
“Going once, twice,…” the general waited.
They remained where they stood.
“Very well, let’s get going,” the general led them along.
“Do you swear to be obedient and work as a team?” the general asked.
“I will,” everyone replied, except Genevieve.
“Kneel,” the general ordered, and everyone obeyed except Genevieve.
“The lass has balls, I see,” the general pulled her by the hair.
Genevieve took her punishment and humiliation. Oh Jesus, what have I gotten myself into?
“You kneel or I will make you,” he waited.
“When you kneel to me, I’ll do the same,” she spoke.
“Go home,” he ordered.
Genevieve walked off.
Josalyn found Genevieve by the river.
“You are badass with or without them,” Josalyn said.
“You think so?” Genevieve asked.
“I do, but I need you to know it too,” Josalyn sat.
“How was your first date?” Genevieve asked.
“Raincheck, my bestie comes first,” Josalyn said.
“I can’t believe you would-,” Genevieve said.
“You should, and besides, I invited him to my birthday party, so I figured a romantic setting will be a great test of chemistry,” Josalyn said. “He pulled out a chunk of your hair; are you sure this is safe?” Josalyn asked.
“It may not be safe, but it’s what I want to see through,” Genevieve stated.
There is another part of the realm that is where no one would come to or return from. Hades needed more expansion than what was there. The environment was a ghost town and stank of corruption and burning flesh and souls. The Lord gave no mercy here.
Here is where the general had lived his whole life.
He entered a skyscraper of a tower. Inside of the tower was a combination of black and gold in furniture and very few decorations. As he walked down a long hallway, torches led the way. He found some food and got comfortable. He entered his study. Embers warmed the small space and danced around. The biggest book with an embellished cover and back cover with smooth parchment flew off a bookshelf and into the general’s lap.
“What do we have here?” he wondered.
It was like the book heard him speak because it opened and on a page. There was a sentence scribbled neatly. Are you Emerson?
“I am, who are you, and how do you know me?” he asked.
My name is Steven. I am the keeper of the Origin Of The Realms.
“I have not heard of this,” he answered. I can’t believe I’m answering a book, but I’m too curious to care.
There was another sentence scribbled. I am not surprised. They banned it.
“Why is that?” he asked.
It caused too much chaos than what it was worth.
“I see, but what does this have to do with me?” he asked.
It involves one of your trainees.
“I understand, but who is it?” he asked.
I’m not sure.
“Well, I’ve always liked a challenge,” he said.
The book closed and landed on the shelf, leaving Emerson with more questions than answers.
“I think I should start researching, but it is getting late, the library is closed for the day, and I am too lazy to get redressed,” he thought.
There was a late arrival after dinner. The staff swung into action to make Josalyn’s uncle, Mark John Miller, comfortable.
Josalyn ran into his arms, and they embraced. “What are you doing here?”
Her uncle smiled. “You are more like your father every time I see you,”
“I know you know something, you’re not one for home visits,” she responded.
“Nothing gets by you, my dear,” he sighed.
“You need not protect me,” she said.
“I do it out of love,” he answered.
“How is my father?” she asked.
“He’s well, I’ve been keeping tabs on him,” he spoke.
“Seriously, I need to know,” she said.
“You will know what you need to in due time,” he answered.
“OK,” she squeezed him.
Elizabeth walked toward them. “Come here, brother,” she smiled.
“It’s good to see you,” he smiled.
“I trust that you had safe travels?” she asked.
“Yes, but with some delays,” he answered.
“We have lots to discuss,” she said.
“Yes, but not tonight, at the next meeting,” he prompted.
“Very well,” she sighed.
Everyone went to their rooms and retired for the night.
Genevieve scribbled in her journal.
I got my wish, but can I do this?
A wind danced through her hair and caressed her head and nuzzled her neck and her ears. The wind squeezed her in a bear hug.
“I am so happy that someone or something is listening to me,” she squeezed her pillow.
Elizabeth got a letter and smiled. She answered swiftly.
I am so happy to hear from you. There’s always room for you on my court.
Fairies, dragons, and the deities rejoiced and celebrated like it was Samhain, although that wasn’t happening for another month. It created a shift in the energies.
Genevieve played in the piles of leaves outside after a brisk walk the following morning. I miss simple pleasures like these. It’s more of a necessity now because I don’t know how in this world I’ll survive this training.
A raven-colored steed carried a woman, and Genevieve saw them.
The woman looked like she had been riding for days. It wrinkled her clothes, her hair was in a messy bun, and she has bags under her eyes.
“Miss, what are you off to this early?” Genevieve asked.
“The castle, I am a friend of the queen,” Mary answered.
“Can I ask what you request of the queen?” Genevieve waited.
“I am reinstating my place in the court, but I’m afraid I’m lost,” Mary admitted.
“Well, I can make sure you get there safely,” Genevieve suggested.
“That is very kind,” Mary smiled.
Genevieve had the reins of her steed and led the way.
“You haven’t told me your name; I wasn’t aware Elizabeth had another daughter,” Mary said.
“I am not Elizabeth’s daughter, I am Arianna’s,” Genevieve corrected her with such a hollow heart.
“You are nothing like her,” Mary asked.
“I’m aware,” Genevieve sighed. That’s another assumption I hate.
In a few minutes, they were on the grounds.
Mary spotted Elizabeth. “Thank you for allowing me to reinstate my position,”
“You’re my best friend,” Elizabeth smiled.
“You will be late if you don’t hurry; ride in on my steed and enter,” Elizabeth insisted.
“Thank you,” Genevieve hopped on and rode fast.
Emerson walked down the streets. I don’t know if I’m being too loyal or idiotic for listening to a book, but this is something I must see-through. He looked around him and saw the same story constantly. A bleak and melancholic background that was now mundane. “I’d never thought I would like to see the day where my home doesn’t feel like my home anymore,”
The sky howled with down-pouring rain when Emerson arrived. “Everyone’s here except-,” Emerson looked around.
“Easy,” Genevieve halted the steed.
“Is that the girl?” they wondered.
“My name is Genevieve,” she corrected them.
“Would anyone like a ride after training?” Genevieve asked.
“I would,” Elias smiled.
Genevieve smiled back.
“Are you guys ready?” Emerson waited.
Genevieve looked around and everyone was looking at her and it stung like a bee attack or the burn of a wildfire. You can prove that you belong here, your sanity depends on it.
“Laps,” Emerson instructed.
“Duty calls,” Elias sighed.
This lasted a few hours, and they were all exhausted after.
Josalyn was in bed when she heard a knock. “You may enter,”
Elias walked in with Mary. “I heard someone is unwell,” he smiled.
“Are those sunflowers?” she smiled.
“They are, I thought it would brighten up your room,” he handed her a bouquet.
“Thank you, they’re lovely,” Josalyn sat up. She squirmed and then took a deep breath.
“Elias, can you wait for us downstairs?” Mary asked.
“Sure,” Elias kissed Josalyn’s forehead.
Mary grabbed a black towel, clothes, and led Josalyn to the bathroom to clean herself. Then she changed her sheets and made her breakfast.
Josalyn came back to her room and ate.
“Is it always this bad?” Mary asked.
“Always and I don’t tolerate pain too well,” Josalyn answered.
“I didn’t either, but it’ll pass and it’s only a week,” Mary understood.
“Did I make a mess?” Josalyn asked.
“It’s not your fault, it’s a part of being a female,” Mary assured her.
“Thank you, Mary, but why are you back here?” Josalyn asked.
“Your mother requested me to come back,” Mary said.
“Did you request to come back as well?” Josalyn asked.
“It was both,” Mary confessed.
“My dream came true after all these years,” Josalyn said.
“I am so happy for you guys,” Mary said.
“Maybe yours can come true,” Josalyn said.
“I haven’t seen Oliver or your mother in years,” Mary sighed. “Emerson’s birth and his disappearance changed everything,” “My love for them is so different, but yet so important to me,”
“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” Josalyn embraced her. “Whatever you choose, you will have my support,”
“I wouldn’t even wish that on my worst enemy,” Mary squeezed back.
Josalyn walked downstairs and saw that Elias was waiting for her. “Sorry,” she smiled.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
“I am now, what are you doing here?” she asked.
“I came to see you,” he answered.
“Can we go to the gardens, I need some fresh air?” she asked.
“Lead the way,” he said.
The atmosphere was a sailor’s dream: serene.
The couple sat in a gazebo surrounded by lush greenery.
“How is your family?” she asked.
“They are good, how about yours?” he asked.
“They are great,” she answered.
“You look worried; what’s on your mind?” he asked.
“I’m worried about Genevieve,” she admitted.
“She’s your best friend, but you have to let her live through her mistakes too,” he advised.
“I know,” she sighed.
“Your birthday’s tomorrow, are you excited?” he asked.
“I’m tired of these parties that aren’t me, but it’s a tradition,” she responded.
“I know, but I have a surprise, but to get it you have to show up,” he said.
“OK,” she said.
A dripping blood moon glistened in the morning sky.
“Do you see that?” he asked.
“I do, but what does it mean?” she wondered.
Genevieve was relaxing in a bath after her training was over. The aches are worth it because I am fighting for something I want for once.
A melody cradled her. It was the swinging of skirts and twirls, hums, giggles, and the rising of the sun. It transfixed her on how her soul felt at home with this tune.
The morning continued with chatting throughout the kingdom about the spectacle in the sky.
Elizabeth scheduled an emergency meeting after hearing the news. She scurried to change from her nightgown to an elegant ball gown that was airy and roomy. She grabbed her riding boots and her crimson cloak with golden trim. She ran a comb through her hair quickly and her amulet with a topaz stone over her heart.
At the county down, there is an enormous oak tree that was barren.
Elizabeth saw her friends arrive one by one.
Mary arrived first. She looked rejuvenated after getting into the swing of things and plenty of sleep and nutritious food. The cloak she wore was crimson red with some golden embellishment. Under her cloak was a black blouse, with matching pants and riding boots. Her hair was lengthy, wavy, and rested on her shoulders.
Elizabeth nodded and sighed. “Thanks for coming so quickly,”
“You’re welcome,” Mary spoke.
“Where are Oliver, Philip, and Xavier?” Elizabeth looked around.
“You know they are always late,” Mary answered.
“Of all times to be late, they choose this one?” Elizabeth replied.
“Follow me, I felt a shift, and they’re at the portal,” Mary said.
“Why would they be there?” Elizabeth asked.
“They are apprentices again,” Mary answered.
The portal was the longest river in the realm. It was never-ending, and the elements were its friends or foe. No rocks or trees were surrounding and there were no tantrums today but ripples when the men arrived.
Xavier arrived first. He was a vampire swordsman and as tall as his double-edged swords. He treated his swords like his unborn children he hoped to have. He had a gentle face, coal eyes. He wore a white loose shirt and dark pants and water-filled shoes. Graced over his broad and strong shoulders was a black cloak with silver trim. “Where are they?” he wondered.
Falling out of the sky was Philip. He was a scholar who wanted to be a mage. He wanted to be more than he was born into. He wagged the water off him and his damp clothes.
“Are you OK?” Xavier asked.
“I could be worse off,” Philip answered.
Oliver arrived. He was the simplest of the three as he was a shepherd. “Hurry, we’re going to be late,”
Genevieve embraced Josalyn. “Happy birthday!”
“Thank you,” Josalyn said. “What time is it?” she yawned.
“Dawn,” Genevieve handed her a cupcake with a candle. “Make a wish,”
“I love you,” she blew out the candle.
“I love you too, babe,” Genevieve smiled.
“What are you still doing here?” Josalyn asked.
“It’s your birthday and usually there are a bunch of festivities, so we have a day off,” Genevieve reminded her.
“Oh, right,” she sat up and yawned.
“Come on, it won’t be so bad,” Genevieve pulled her out of bed.
“I’m grateful to have you,” Josalyn said.
“I love you too,” Genevieve scrambled through her chests. “How about this one?”
“I want to match you, so pick something similar,” Josalyn suggested.
“As you wish, birthday girl,” Genevieve said.
Tired expressions greeted the girls.
“There you are, happy birthday,” her mother embraced her.
“Thank you,” Josalyn yawned.
The girls were alone, eating breakfast. The staff was too busy to chat like usual. After they finished eating, they went to the gardens to get some air.
Josalyn’s uncle was meditating. He opened his eyes when he heard their footsteps get closer to him. “Good morning,”
“Good morning, Uncle Mark, may I introduce my best friend, Genevieve Violet Reins,” Josalyn said.
“Everyone calls me Genevieve,” Genevieve replied.
“Nice to meet you,” her uncle smiled. She does not understand how powerful she is. He found himself transfixed on her, searching for any clue on what exactly she has.
“Are you OK?” Josalyn asked.
He cleared his throat. Her throat chakra is so blocked. What is she holding back? “I think so,”
“Are you sure?” Genevieve asked.
“I will be,” her uncle said.
“Will you please stop looking at me like that,” Genevieve said.
“Like what, Genevieve? What does it look like?” her uncle asked.
“It’s like you’re looking through me or searching for something; what are you looking for so intensely?” Genvieve asked.
“You’re just so pretty and I can’t just stop looking at you,” her uncle confessed.
“I appreciate that, but I’m not the one you seek,” Genevieve flushed.
“Let me decide that you aren’t on my own,” her uncle said.
Josalyn stood there, very observant.
“Happy birthday,” her uncle said. “Are you still 12?” he asked.
“You wish that I was still 12,” Josalyn laughed.
“That is true,” her uncle confessed. He returned his attention to Genevieve. Her guard’s still up. Does my presence overwhelm her? The poor dear, she’s shaking on the inside. I have to get her focused. “When is your birthday, Genevieve?”
“October 31st,” Genevieve asked. “When is yours?”
“March 14th,” he said. There we go. You don’t have to be afraid. “Have you been to the Samhain festival?” her uncle asked.
“I haven’t,” Genevieve asked.
“Well, then we must go, everyone goes at least once,” her uncle insisted.
“I-,” Genevieve stammered.
“Please,” he waited.
Genevieve sighed. Damn, his eyes are still looking at me. It’s like he’s not giving up. Do I like having his attention?
Josalyn stepped in. “She’ll go,”
“Great, I’ll see you then,” her uncle walked away.
Genevieve stood there, fuming from confusion. She made sure he wasn’t in earshot and then spoke. “Are you out of your damn mind?”
“I understand how confused and scared you are, but I don’t appreciate being talked to that way,” Josalyn said.
“Why did you do that?” Genevieve asked.
“Come on, you need to get out,” Josalyn answered.
“He’s old enough to be my father, and he’s your family,” Genevieve panicked.
“I will not watch you punish yourself,” Josalyn said.
“What if I want to be alone?” Genevieve said.
Josalyn walked away and Genevieve went to go train to release the tension.
Genevieve repeated the conversation with Josalyn. “Damn it! Why am I so distant and projective with people and life?” She spotted the general. “Did you hear everything?”
“Yep,” the general confessed.
“Sorry you had to see that-,” she sighed.
“Emerson,” he said.
“Emerson, that’s a powerful name,” she noticed.
Emerson laid on the grass.
“Can I join you?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said.
“So what’s going on?” he asked.
“I fought with my best friend. She tried to play matchmaker,” she rolled her eyes.
“Ouch,” he said. “Maybe it’ll do you some good, I appreciate your work ethic, but you seem too uptight,” he added.
“Oh no, not you too,” she sighed.
“Genevieve, you are young, this is the perfect time for you to make stupid decisions,” he advised. “Trust me, I’ve made plenty that I regret, but they strengthened me,”
“And one of those decisions was?” the answer intrigued her.
“It’s how and why I became a general,” he said.
“Well, you’re great at leading,” she said.
“Thanks and you’re great at getting what you want on your own, but I can see that you crave people and loyalty,” he said.
“Is that why you made me kneel?” she wondered.
“Yep, your badass too, I yanked your hair hard,” he said.
“It’ll grow back,” she said.
“It still wasn’t right, so I’m sorry,” he apologized.
“I feel overly judged if I’m not a certain way,” she rolled her eyes.
“What do you mean?” he wondered.
“Proper, submissive, and all that,” she said.
“By who?” he asked.
“My family drilled it in me,” she confessed.
“So, you’re a people pleaser in extremes?” he asked.
“It’s so frustrating,” she said.
“I bet,” he said.
“Follow me,” he helped her up.
“I came here to train,” she explained.
“We will,” he said.
They walked to the river. He pushed her in. Then he jumped in.
“Hey!” she spat.
“You needed to cool off,” he explained. “How do you feel now?” he asked.
“You couldn’t have given me a warning? I can’t swim,” she said.
“Do you think I’d ever leave you in danger purposely?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered.
He grabbed her wrists, pulled her close, and looked at her in the eyes with no animosity. “Listen to me, I would never put you in danger purposely unless it’s for your greater good,”
“I’m sorry that I judged you so quickly,” it embarrassed her.
“I judged you too, so we’re even,” he smiled.
“Can you take me home? I’m freezing,” she said.
“Sure,” he got out and helped her out. He placed his jacket over her shoulders.
“Thanks,” she shivered.
“It’s no trouble,” he answered.
“Are you going to Josalyn’s party?” she asked.
“I have to go to the library before it closes, but you should; and please for the love of God try to have some fun,” he said.
“No promises,” she chuckled.
“I mean it,” he said.
“I do too,” she said.
“So, what are you planning to wear?” he asked.
“Modern royal protocol is the theme,” she said.
“I see,” he said.
Elizabeth, Mary, Xavier, Philip, and Oliver walked through the forest. They came to the barren tree. Elizabeth touched the trunk. Others followed her direction as it revealed a pathway. They walked down a path. They were now underground. Around them, the path was dark and old and the surroundings.
A ghost appeared. “Kneel,”
The friends knelt.
“Do you swear to use your position and power to protect the realm, its people, and to sustain harmony and balance?” the ghost asked.
“I swear,” the friends answered.
The ghost disappeared.
The friends stood up, and they walked into a room.
A ghost appeared. “Kneel,”
“Do you swear to use your position and power to protect the realm, its people, and to sustain harmony?” the ghost asked.
“I swear,” the friends answered.
The ghost disappeared.
The friends stood up and walked inside when the doors opened.
The room was sparse. There were a few candles, books, parchment, dried-out ink, a candelabra, and a vast round table.
They sat at the table with an empty seat.
“Where is your brother?” Xavier asked.
“I purposely let him miss the meeting; he needs to rest and I’m sure he already knows what we discuss before we do,” Elizabeth explained.
“Before we discuss something so serious, I need to know what you’ve been up to; it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other,” Elizabeth said.
“I met someone, and I turned her,” Xavier beamed.
“Are you in love?” Mary teased.
“I am happy with her,” Xavier said.
“We can see that,” Elizabeth smiled.
“How did you meet her?” Mary asked.
“We met at a Chinese lantern festival,” Xavier continued to smile.
“What’s her name?” Oliver said.
“Zoelle,” Xavier said. “But she likes the name, Zoey,” he explained.
“How is she holding up?” Oliver asked.
“She hasn’t woken up yet,” Xavier sighed.
“Are you worried about her?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes, but I know that everyone’s transition is different,” Xavier explained.
“She’ll wake up,” Mary insisted.
Philip gave updates next. “Elias made me so proud by following his logic and his heart by courting Josalyn,” “His Mom is probably smiling in heaven,”
They seem so happy together, ” Mary chimed in.
“They do,” Elizabeth agreed.
“How about you, Mary?” Oliver asked.
“I am back on Elizabeth’s court and I’m thinking of being a teacher,” she answered.
“That’s wonderful! How is that going?” Oliver asked.
“It would be great if I had someone to teach me; unfortunately, I can’t learn what I want to because of my gender,” Mary sighed.
“Is that why you are so in tune with Josalyn and Genevieve making their own decisions?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes,” Mary replied.
“We can teach you,” Elizabeth smiled.
“You would do that for me?” Mary wondered.
The rest of the friends nodded and smiled.
“I love you guys,” Mary was so grateful. “Emerson’s birthday is soon,” Mary’s eyelids dropped and her stomach dropped. “I wonder what he could’ve been like,” “Which of our personalities could he have had?” “Does he have my eyes or Oliver’s?” Mary’s voice cracked.
Oliver stood up and helped her up and squeezed her.
Mary screamed into his chest and soon she wept.
Oliver had to be strong for her, but that was their only child.
Someone stole from them after Emerson was born. Oliver and Mary did not understand who did this or why. To them, this was more painful than the event.
“I am so happy that it was you to give me my son, regardless of what happens now or whatever has,” Oliver said.
Mary stepped back and flushed. “Always the charmer, but I know you’re sincere,”
“I see how she got pregnant,” Elizabeth teased.
“Hello?” Philip asked.
“My apologies, what have you been up Philip?” Elizabeth asked.
“I am relearning my magic,” Philip beamed with pride and accomplishment.”
“What about you, Elizabeth?” Xavier asked.
“Just being a proud Mom, and a queen in a bit of stress because of what’s happening in the realm,” Elizabeth said.
“Do you think this is the case of the origin(s)?” Oliver asked.
“I think so, but I do not understand what to do about it, hence why I called an emergency meeting,” Elizabeth confessed.
“Well, that’s why we’re a team,” Mary smiled.
“I think we should have a curfew with restrictions and tell the people what is going on,” Oliver said.
“What have you been up to, Oliver?” Mary asked.
“I am a simple man, so I have no exciting news except seeing you all,” Oliver replied.
“All in favor of a curfew?” Elizabeth asked.
“All in favor of a mandatory escort by a skilled mage or swordsman?” Elizabeth asked.
They nodded again.
It was busy for everyone. The hours were like seconds.
Josalyn and Genevieve had a deep talk discussing their fears of the unknown and that they were sorry that they were so angry at each other. Eventually, they made up, and they started pampering for the party. After that, they dressed but promised they wouldn’t see each other until they entered the party in 120 minutes.
Josalyn was alone and looked at the mirror. “This is it, your 24th birthday with courtship and a future that I am unsure of,” She slipped on her moon ring and breathed in.
Genevieve sat on her bed. She opened her window and felt the wind hugging her. She took a deep breath and slipped on her moon ring.
Elias arrived with his father as many others arrived.
Rich rainbow colors kissed the ballgown.
Genevieve walked inside. Her long-length dress was sparkly and black and sexy, but not overly showy. Her jewelry was silver, including her hairpins, her bracelets, and her crescent moon she has for years, which she swore was lucky. Her shoes were flat and matched her dress. She wasn’t one for makeup, so she had none on.
Elizabeth smiled. “Genevieve Violet Reins, you look beautiful,”
“Thank you,” Genevieve curtsied. “You look great too, but you look troubled,” she noticed.
“It’s a party, dear,” Elizabeth sighed.
“You’re right,” Genevieve smiled.
Josalyn walked in. She was wearing a short yellow dress, with matching jewelry and shoes. She tied her hair back and her makeup was simple. She smiled and greeted everyone. After that, she found Genevieve.
“I never say I’d see the day when you’d be in a sparkly dress,” Josalyn smiled.
“Thanks,” Genevieve smiled. “And I never have seen you in a short dress,”
“Thank you,” Josalyn smiled back.
Elias looked at the girls and walked toward them. “Evening ladies,”
“I’m going to let you guys talk,” Genevieve walked away.
Genevieve looked at the entire kingdom as she was alone on the balcony.
“So, you’re not a party person either?” a voice said.
Genevieve turned around. She saw Josalyn’s uncle. They had met before, but for the first time, she paid attention to him. From how he spoke to how tall, photogenic, and confident he seemed. There was something that drew her in and she couldn’t figure it out. “I’m not, but what are you doing here?” she wondered.
“I saw you run out so quickly, I just wanted to make sure you are OK,” he explained.
“Thanks, but I’m OK,” she said.
He stood near her and paid attention to the view in front of him. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“You can see everything, and right now I need the quiet,” she said.
“Too many people?” he asked.
“A bit,” she said. “How did you know?” she asked.
“I see it in your eyes,” he said.
“So, what are you doing back at the castle?” she wondered.
“I guess you’ve talked to Josalyn?” he asked.
“I have but can you please answer my question,” she said.
“I wish I could give you the truth, but I can’t,” he sighed.
“Why can’t you tell me?” she wondered.
“It comes with the responsibility, but I must admit it can be quite a burden,” he confessed.
“I’m sorry, Mark, but if you ever need to vent….” she said.
“I know and thank you,” he said.
“So, what do you think of Elias?” she asked.
“I like him, but I’m keeping a close eye on him,” he said.
“I am too if Elias hurts her I won’t hesitate to do something that will put me in confinement,” she said.
“You’re feisty and full of surprises,” he chuckled.
“It’s true,” she responded.
“So, have you considered my offer to let me take you to the festival?” he asked.
“I have and I’ll go,” she smiled.
“What changed your mind?” he asked.
“I have to say yes sometimes,” she answered.
“Well, I am so glad you did and I hope we have a good time,” he said.
“I’m excited,” she beamed.
“I can tell,” he smiled.
“I think we should go back inside; plus I would like to have a dance with you,” he said.
“I think that’s a good idea and I would love to,” she held out her arm.
The party was still in motion when they returned.
The orchestra playing something like twinkling stars in an enchanted forest.
“Can I have this dance?” Mark asked Genevieve.
“I’m not much of a dancer, so if I step on your toes I’m sorry,” she said.
“No worries,” he said.
“I’m so short compared to you,” she realized.
“I can fix that,” he smirked. He lifted her, and she hugged his waist. “Better?” he asked.
“Mmm,” she said.
“You look so good,” he said.
“Thank you, so do you for an uncle,” she confessed.
“For an uncle?” he laughed.
“You are Josalyn’s uncle, so I have to tread lightly,” she said.
“I understand, but you have to live at the same time; isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?” he asked.
“I don’t know what I want anymore,” she answered.
“Well, I can help you find out,” he said.
“How?” she wondered.
“That’s why I want you to come with me to the festival,” he said. “So, are you still going?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Stop asking or I might change my mind,” she said.
“You’re a feisty little thing,” he noticed.
“You just noticed,” she said.
“No,” he said.
“You have pretty eyes,” she said.
“You’re blushing,” he noticed.
“Oh,” she said.
“You’re more pretty when you blush,” he said.
“You’re a charmer, dude,” she said.
“But I do like you,” he said.
“Um…” she said.
“I like you, Genevieve Violet Reins,” he said.
“What are you asking of me?” she asked.
“I’m asking you to give me a fair chance,” he said
Emerson had spent the last few hours in his thoughts as he left his home and walked to the library in the middle of the kingdom. He stopped at a pothole and lifted the lid. He took a deep breath and jumped in.
“I have been expecting you,” the owl landed on Emerson’s shoulder.
“OK, why?” he asked.
“It concerns what you seek,” the owl replied.
“I seek many things,” he said.
“You are smart and have plenty of heart despite your past; you and the savior have that in common,” the owl explained.
“It would help if I knew who this person was,” he sighed.
“I know, but to be fair this person is not aware they are the savior either,” the owl said.
“I guess that counts for something,” he shrugged. “What past are you talking about?” he asked.
“Your past, but let’s focus on one thing at a time, shall we?” the owl asked.
“OK,” he obeyed.
“Now, the entire kingdom is celebrating. Go join them,” the owl suggested.
“What?” he asked.
“Learn your advice,” the owl replied and flew off.
A stone transported him to the middle of the dance floor.
Genevieve was dancing with Josalyn and smiled.
“Genevieve, may I cut in?” Emerson smiled.
“Um… sure,” she said.
“I thought you wouldn’t come,” she said.
“I thought I wouldn’t either,” he said.
“So, what changed your mind?” she asked.
“An owl,” he laughed.
“An owl?” she asked.
“Long story,” he said.
“It’s a party, so can we just enjoy ourselves?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “You look great, it’s no wonder everyone is looking at you,” he said.
“No one is looking at me,” she said.
“Well, I am right now and Josalyn’s uncle has been looking sad since I asked to dance with you,” he answered.
“Ok, let me clarify then, I don’t care if people look at me,” she said. Her eyes bounced around. Is that really how I feel?
“My eyes are up here, why can’t you look me in the eye now?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, that’s the effects of my reality,” she sighed.
“I can see that,” he agreed. “Are you having fun?” he asked.
“I’m trying,” she admitted.
“How does it feel?” he asked.
“Strange,” she answered.
“I bet,” he said.
“I know this is going to sound weird, but you smell like a damp brick,” she laughed.
“Oh, I would’ve showered or changed, but I didn’t get the chance,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
“Long story?” he asked.
“The owl?” she asked.
“Yep,” he said.
“You look worried, why?” she asked.
“It’s a party, you will have fun, that’s an order,” he said.
“Technically, we’re off the clock so you can’t order me around,” she said.
“I can and I will,” he smirked.
“You’re an ass sometimes,” she craved.
“You like it tho,” he answered.
“Whatever,” she said.
There were clinking glasses. Everyone turned their attention to Josalyn and her mother.
“Good evening, everyone! Josalyn and I are so grateful for all of you showing up as we celebrate a birthday and new beginnings,” her mother started.
“I’m at the age where I can begin courting and to prepare to be queen. I’m not so sure where that will lead me, but I will do my best,” Josalyn said.
“You can,” Genevieve said.
“Thank you, love,” Josalyn said.
“I love you,” Genevieve said.
“I love you too,” Josalyn smiled. “I am so happy to announce that I am in a courtship with my best friend, Elias,”
Elias smiled and walked up toward her. He looked at her and held her hand. “I am so thankful,” he said.
“May I raise a glass to happiness, hope, and a better future,” Genevieve smiled.
“Cheers,” everyone smiled.
“No, let’s go party,” Josalyn smiled.
“Can I speak with you for a second,” Emerson whispered.
“Sure,” Genevieve said.
“In private,” he said.
“Sure,” she excused herself and followed Emerson to the gardens.
“I’ll do anything to protect you because I see you myself in you,” he said.
“Is that all?” she asked.
“I want to protect you because I wasn’t,” he added.
“Are you saying that I’m in danger?” she panicked.
“When I get more info, I will let you know,” he promised.
“I’m scared,” her voice cracked.
“I know sweetheart, but I am too,” he hugged and squeezed her. “You’re freezing, here take my jacket and focus on my voice,”
“Thanks,” she said.
“Can we go back inside, I don’t want to miss the cake throw,” she said.
“Sure,” he said.
The party was still going on when they returned. A cake came out and Josalyn handed out pieces, and then Genevieve pulled out a chunk and dumped it on Emerson and Mark John.
“It’s war now,” Mark smiled.
“Bring it on,” Genevieve smiled.
Behind the door, the past was waking up and this time it was ready to conquer everything and everyone.
Emerson found a note when he returned home. Traitors will die remember? “Son of a bitch, you will not touch them, especially her!” he felt the sting of the mark that changed everything was under his rib.
The temptations were recruiting again. Their major base was a tower with a barrier, a moat, and guards. There were several young men and very few women. There was the echo of screams, aches, and pleading.
“03000018,” a recruiter looked around.
A door opened. “You lied to me, but I’m over it. However, these are children… innocent children that want a home and a family,” Emerson stated. “It’s disgusting that you could take advantage of that so easily,”
“They aren’t so innocent and neither are you,” the reciter said.
“I did my punishment and more than you could even think,” “Hell would have to freeze over before I let you touch me, them or her without me fighting back,” Emerson threatened.
“You seem to forget that we raised you,” the recruiter stated.
“I’m not you,” he said.
“0300018,” the recruiter said.
“I’m staying,” he sighed.
“Consider, please,” Emerson’s soul tore.
“Trust me,” he said.
“As you wish,” Emerson was suspicious. What are you planning? What do you know?
The siren of the moon was calling and ready to be a leading actor. Its call was the cry of a puppy, but Genevieve heard it keenly.
She gripped the table where she sat with Mark.
“Genevieve, what’s wrong?” he noticed.
“I feel itchy and like I’m out of my body,” she responded.
“Hold my hands and focus on me,” he instructed. “I want you to breathe slow and deep,”
“I need to get up,” she said.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he suggested.
“I need to lie down,” she pouted.
“Then I’ll carry you,” he lifted her.
“This is Josalyn’s night,” she said.
“For the love of God, listen to the man,” Elizabeth sighed.
“Honey, it’s fine,” Josalyn smiled.
“OK,” Genevieve said before she went limp.
“Get her upstairs,” Elizabeth instructed. “I’ll be there shortly,
“Thank you for coming, but right now my best friend needs me,” Josalyn escorted them out and headed to her bedroom.
“Josalyn, you don’t want to see her like this,” Philip said.
“She’s my best friend,” Josalyn rejected his pleas.
“Listen to my father and me, you don’t want to see her like this,” Elias said.
Mark found her room and laid her down.
Elizabeth came in a few minutes. “Go get her bath ready with salt and lavender,”
“I’m on it,” he obeyed.
“Genevieve, I am so sorry this happened to you,” she said. She stripped her and dressed her in her robe.
“I need your strength, Mark,” she yelled.
He walked in and swept her up into his arms. “Honey, it’s OK,”
Genevieve dreamt, and she never dreams.
The young man wore the number 0300018, stared at his arms as they began to heal. He was in a cell 24 hours a day, but something pulled him and kept him in the air. He smiled. How is she today? Can she feel it too?