FANTASY | DARKLAW | WEB SERIES | SERIES EPISODES
Darklord | Episode 2
There was so much he didn’t know about the power inside.
First god. One god. Nameless god. Veris’s finger traveled across the page as he read in silence. The foundation is one. The foundation becomes two. The two become many. He sat back and thought about the meaning of the text. A drawing accompanied the words. It showed a circle divided in six parts with two rings surrounding it. It looked very much like Pah Gol, taught to him by his mother. The six sections probably represented the gods of the Pantheon. He didn’t know what the rings represented. He didn’t know what the “foundation” referred to. And there was no fish. The sacred doctrine always had a fish at its center. The world had poured forth from the sea.
He carefully turned the page. The book was very old. He sneezed.
The next page had no words he recognized. He turned back, comparing the pages. They appeared to be written in different hands. He closed the book. He climbed onto the desk and slid the book back onto the high shelf where he had found it.
Veris had spent most of his fourteen years in this library. Only recently had he found himself examining books he had once ignored. Something important was hidden in the strange symbols. He spent whole afternoons just staring at them, willing them to make sense yet always failing.
This library belonged to the king of Castlebejel, an old man who found value in the obscure and unique. Veris had heard Avestine refer to King Harol Ogedai as a “tired and impotent leader,” but Veris knew the king to be friendly. He wished the old man would wander in; the king was the only person Veris felt safe asking questions. Even his mother was pressing him for explanations in a way he could no longer ignore.
He wasn’t particularly good at lying. He didn’t have the patience for it. He didn’t feel he owed words to anyone, not even his mother. But she worried. And that made him worry. He needed to allay her fears without too much truth.
Not that he knew the truth. He had suspicions. He had strange feelings that might find their reasons in places that frightened him. There was too much he didn’t know, and that frustrated him. He needed to know things, so much so, his mind seldom let him rest.
He climbed down from the desk and sat with his head in his hands. His temples throbbed.
He jerked awake. He was sitting on the floor in the library. His mother was kneeling before him.
“Were you sleeping?” She smiled and touched his face.
The gold wrist cap was cold against his skin. He had never seen her wrists without some covering, but he could imagine the deformed bone and scarred skin. Avestine’s brother had chopped off her hands in the ceremony that he would also experience, if Avestine had her way. She always had her way.
He had no idea how long he had been there. He glanced about but wasn’t near a window. Nevertheless, he knew the sun was low. It was past evensun. “You always want me to nap, right?”
“Somewhere warm and soft. It’s so cold in here. And the dust…it makes it hard for you to breathe.”
“I’m fine, mama.”
She kissed his head and stood up. He tensed when he smelled Avestine on her.
“Scouts tell us a blizzard is traveling darkward from the ice desert,” said Kami. “It will reach us tomorrow. I want you to stay in the suite until it passes.”
He stood up. “I’m not afraid of the snow or cold.”
“I am!” She shook her head. “One of these days I’m going to show you the Demonforest where I was born. So much life. So warm. One day you’ll see it for yourself. This land is so empty, so cold, so…so lifeless.”
His mother often told him stories about the Demonforest and her childhood. She said the sun was so warm there you could walk naked outside and fall asleep without blankets. She described colorful birds and creatures who stayed warm with no fur. The trees and bushes were many colors, and the ground was all green. Insects could fly like birds and they crawled everywhere, even outside. Veris didn’t find joy in his mother’s descriptions, but he saw how much she did.
She put her arm around his shoulders and they walked from the library. “I wish the sun would warm this land like it does demonward. Makes no sense to me why it’s always winter here. Tradeward they have both seasons. Maybe darkward, too. Here, well, I hate this place.”
“I’m getting older. We can leave. Would the Emissary let you?”
She scowled without looking at him. “Not for her to tell me what to do.”
Veris nodded, but he knew his mother. He saw the tether that kept her with Avestine. He didn’t understand it, but he had learned to accept it. When he was younger he thought one day he would kill Avestine and free his mother. Now that he was almost a man, he saw his mother was living the life she chose. She seemed to need Avestine, and sometimes, Avestine could be kind. “Maybe the storm will die before it reaches us. We might get a warm day. Stranger things have happened, right?”
She shrugged. “Yes, I’ve seen much stranger things.”
Veris thought about the blizzard, imagining the terrible wind and icy cold pouring down on the world, on his mother. He hated it. He imagined a warm day, a bright sun, and his mother standing on their balcony looking out over a green field. He wished he could give her that.
They made their way to their suite.
A day’s ride iceward, the raging ice storm moved toward Castlebejel, just one more in a continuous procession that kept the desert a frozen wasteland. But that day, as evensun dipped toward sunfall, the whipping wind grew calm. Snow turned to rain and white to gray. The air was wet and carried a warm breeze. Low places flooded with melt, and within a few days, green found its way into the Ice Desert for the first time in living memory.