I did not expect to be posting this, but here we are. If you recall, a while back I posted up the prologue to my main fantasy series (Fateslayer), and also provided a bit of a synopsis for the first book, ‘The Light Within Tears’.
Well, this is the prologue to a story which I intended to be the prequel to my main series. What’s interesting, is that this piece (and the following piece I will post) were both written back in July 2015, so I had recently turned 18 at the time.
I was reading it recently, and I thought: “You know what, this ain’t half bad. And I haven’t posted on my website in almost a year. I’ll throw this up on there. Why not?”
So, here it is.
Just for clarity’s sake, this story was to be told from the perspective of the first antagonist of my main series, so it’s probably worth mentioning there will be some level of spoilers most likely. Whilst I will not write this story for a little while from now, and it may well be in a different form to what I’m sharing here, I haven’t diverged much from my original idea of it all since 2015 till now. So, I have a feeling some of the content in here will carry over to the final version… whenever that comes out.
I’ve mostly left it in its original condition, save for some typos and glaring grammar issues which I have tried to sort out. Other than that’s it’s pretty much untouched from back in 2015.
I suppose if for some reason you want to compare this to my current writing, you should compare this to Lairé or any future piece I put up, as this was one of my strongest pieces back when I wrote it.
I won’t say much more about it. Bear in mind it’s the opening to a prequel, so it’s written with a specific audience in mind for the most part. Also, I was just practicing writing something familiar to what I was writing at the time, yet different. It was intended to be an adult novel, whereas my main series is YA.
Honestly, These pieces were the result of me trying to imitate a well-known author’s style and voice. I’ll leave you to guess who.
Hope you enjoy it.
The sky roared.
The derelict room lit with each passing thunder, illuminating the stony surroundings. The spoiled stone was teeming with overgrown moss, green vines running through the gaps between each block of rock and seeping out onto the cold floor, their tips just about touching the thick pool of gory crimson.
Trailing from the pool was a single line that traced back to a single, gowned figure. Her long, black strands of hair covering her face. Her right hand pressed against her chest, feeling each and every tender throb of her gloomy heart.
A heart as black as the gown she was garbed in. A heart as black as the wild night sky. A heart as black as darkness.
She slouched against the wall, the thick moss prickling her neck. Her gleaming red eyes beheld her left hand. Nothing was in it, but yet everything was in it. The first symbol of success.
She leaned forward, eying her reflection in the crimson pond. She’d hoped to find a body in healthier form. This one was not the most suitable choice. Besides the obvious loss of blood, the fractured bones and inability to move were other, perhaps more mundane issues. It was too tall, too slender, and too… beautiful.
It was not her. And despite how inappropriate and unfitting of her it was, it was a sign that called for joy. A sign of triumph.
She giggled, hearing her new laughter. She spoke, testing words and phrases once accustomed to her old tongue, with this new one. Her voice was too high and too feminine. She sounded more like some courtesan than what she truly was.
What she truly was… what would become of that person? She was someone else now, someone far more astute. For the first time in her deplorable existence, she was the victor.
She struggled to her feet. A soring agony was lined through her upper leg, fading into her stomach. The bleeding had apparently ceased moments before she entered the body. She limped across the cold stone, grains of filth sticking onto her bare feet.
She was different now. She was a new woman with an era-old vengeance. But she was forever the shadow that curled in the mist of night.
She was Inah.
The twittering of birds sounded outside the closed windows of the inn. Inah lay in a bed she’d ‘borrowed’ for the night. She’d had no coins, no items to trade. None but one. The innkeeper was bold enough to notice and foolish enough to ask.
Of course, she’d accepted, promising herself to him for the night. In exchange for a warm bed, he could make it warmer. But the only warmth bestowed upon the bed that night was of his blood.
He still lay there, throat slit, milky white eyes wide open. It almost looked as though he was frozen in perpetual, horrified shock. A still image of terror. He’d been helpful at least, he’d helped Inah test out her new body.
Her new face and body granted her attention, and information, her elegant eyes tempting him into submission as he spewed stories about his daughter he’d sent away to live in Graydus, to protect her from the Empire. And many other stories, some of which should have been saved for the grave. The longer arms had been useful also, easing the effort needed to reach for her previously placed knife beneath the pillow.
As she inspected the small room, she began appreciating details, details her old self would not appreciate. The small portrait that hung on the wooden wall, or the condensed window panes, or even the precisely carved wooden door knob. Her mind was not completely her own, that much was apparent now. She’d fix that, that and her dreadful new voice.
But whatever this strange part of her mind was, it was fond of the place. It liked wooden walls, the architecture, and the smell of wetted grass that was swept in with the wind. It liked it all, for all its minor attractions and flaws. So for its sake, she’d keep it.
It had been roughly a year now since she’d usurped ownership of the inn. She’d walked in there twelve months ago, pleading for shelter over the counter with nothing but the blood-soaked robes on her back. Now she stood at, and ran, the counter, adorned in a fine, red velvet gown. Apparently, red was the colour to wear these days. The invading Emperor seemed adamant about that.
Roughly four months ago, a blindfolded figure draped almost entirely in red, wearing an excessively long hooded dress, had appeared in her room at the foot of her bed. She had known the figure, it was her old friend, Xiaa.
Xiaa was there now, just finishing showing out the last of the customers. It had been a busy night. Inah could still hear the deafening jeers of the drunkards. She was certain most of them had attempted to ask her for some ‘company’, but she gracefully declined.
The truth was, she’d kept the sheets clean for the past year, and bloodstains were awfully difficult to wash out by hand and cloth. There had already been enough prying inquiries regarding the change in management.
Inah had spun some tale – one of lies, of course – about how she’d been the innkeeper’s daughter, but he’d sent her away to live in Graydus. But after it was captured by the Empire, she fled with her husband to return here but lost him whilst on the unforgiving road. She always dissolved into tears at that point, weeping for the sympathy she all too well knew a gorgeous woman received. They’d become too concerned with pandering to her to continue when she gently asked if she could just ‘forget about it’.
Xiaa approached the counter, pulling out a stove and pouring herself a cup of wine.
“Careful,” Inah warned, “There’s not much left.”
Xiaa smirked at her. “Nope. You still sound like a nobleman’s daughter.”
“I can’t help it.” Inah attempted to sound colder, but her voice simply broke. “This maddening voice simply wants to remain this way.”
“It’s fitting of your new look.” Xiaa drank her wine, seemingly examining Inah’s chest. “Perfect, even. There’s no need to change it.”
Inah fastened her gown, folding her arms. “That’s easy for you to say.” She leaned forward, her face a hair’s breadth from Xiaa’s. “But I’m the one who has to live with it.”
Xiaa chuckled, careful not to spittle wine. “So, when are we going to begin?”
Inah pulled back from Xiaa, frowning at the specks of dust that spoilt the floor behind the counter. “Tomorrow.” She walked to the stairs, grabbing the broom that leaned against its wooden railing. “I’ve only waited this long to see if there were any significant drawbacks. Anything that would lead back to this body, or anything that could give us away. But apparently not. We’ve probably got another era before we begin to see any truly threatening signs.”
“And what of Morrigan and Lily?”
“They’ll likely work on fulfilling Celia’s dying wish: creating that damned Order of hers.” Inah began sweeping out the dirt from behind the counter.
“Is that jealousy I hear?” Xiaa teased, her ruby lips curving into a distinct grin on her dark-skinned face.
Inah stopped sweeping, glaring at Xiaa. “Jealousy?” she scoffed. “Jealousy for ultimately winning? I defied Fate itself. I disobeyed my own myth. There is no greater victory. If I was envious of anything, it’d be myself.” Inah continued sweeping the dirt towards the front door.
“Of course,” Xiaa agreed. “Though, I wonder what deceptions they’ll feed the children about you at the dinner table.”
A gust entered as Inah opened the door, brushing the specks of dust out. “They’ll say the worst of me, that’s certain. But I’m not so sure I dislike that. It will make my re-emergence that more terrifying.” She stood in the doorway, the gentle breeze swaying her long shadowy strands. “Although, I can’t help but feel as though I should be telling my own side.”
Xiaa turned back on the stool, confusion pressed into her regal face. “Own side? You mean as in telling your side of the story?”
“Yes,” Inah nodded. “Why? Is that such a bad idea?”
“Well… for what reason?”
“Well, it’s not for the same reason that stories of heroes and heroines are told. Or for the same reason why Celia Ambrosia will be seen in a blinding array of brilliance. Not for the reason it will inspire senseless children to be like me. But because it’s different. Because in my story, there is no hope for the protagonist. Because in my story, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Because in my story, I win.”
Xiaa stood from the stool, raising her cup. “Very well, Lady Inah. So long as this part-time writing does not detract from our goals.” She downed the wine before placing it on the counter.
“It won’t.” And with that, Inah pulled the door shut.
Inah sat at one of the circular tables in the tavern, gazing at the passing clouds outside the window. She held a pen in hand, a stack of paper and a jar of ink placed on the table. She would truly write out her own side of the story.
And why not? She would have two hundred years – an era – to do it. She couldn’t be out doing her all to fight against fate the entire time. No, she would write her side of the story.
Though what she planned to do with it she hadn’t fully thought out. She could always attempt to publish it, though she guessed the process would be long and tedious, and beyond her tolerance. Perhaps she’d simply leave it in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen by the light of day… until one day when it was uncovered by an ambitious scribe, swearing to discover the truth.
That aside, where would she begin? From when she was a child? From when she first met Celia, or perhaps Morrigan, or Lily? Maybe she should start just before the battle with Celia, keep the story short.
No, this was a tale of darkness. A tale of how things that begin in darkness always end in darkness.
And so that was where she would start, at the same place her darkness did.
Anime List: https://www.kitsu.io/users/NGN (where I get a fair amount of my inspiration)