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The New Year's Promise [Jan2014]

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posted on Jan, 17 2014 @ 05:54 PM
Pycela sat on the ledge in front of the windows. She loved sitting here because she could see the sea. The waves rolling on the horizon were supposed to be a beautiful shade of green, but from here they looked dull gray. The kingdom of Quarteth lay between the sea and her home. She could see the pinpoints of light from some of the dwellings, but the castle shone brightly even against a radiant sky. Its walls had been made from a type of stone found only in the Loras Mountains that was like glass but filled with red and gold clouds. It was said that the entire structure would glow from a single torch lighted in the great hall.

“Are you paying attention, Pycela?” The voice was stern, but laced with sweetness.

“No. Why should I? It’s not as if I will ever see these places you speak of, so why should I care where they are or what the people there do?” As whiny as she was being, she still left her place at the window and took the chair beside Rue.

“Oh, sweet girl, don’t be like that. These people sent their most prized possessions to you as gifts for your birthday. Every year they embark on the long journey here from across the thirteen kingdoms to celebrate with you. The least you could do is pay attention to what they bring.” She smiled and patted Pycela’s leg as she took the seat beside her.

“Now, from the lands of Damir, you have this beautiful winter wrap of gahrl hide, this doll with odike crystals for eyes, a jug of sweet dalphine juice, kale cakes in four flavors. What do you know of Damir?”

Rolling her eyes, Pycela answered in a sing song voice. “The land of a thousand clouds, Damir is placed on the edge of the sea. Their people mine the caves below the waters and bring us everything that they have to offer.”

Rue sighed and rose from her chair. She retrieved the arnhorn handled brush from the vanity that Pycela had received on her third birthday. She walked to her and started brushing the long silver locks. “I know it is hard for you to understand why your life is this way. You are only ten years old and already so jaded. You cannot leave and explore the world. It is not safe for you. Most people have adored and worshipped you since the day you were born. But, there are some that would see harm come to you. I will make you a promise, though. When you have come of a certain age, let’s say twenty two, if you still desire a trek outside of these walls, I will arrange it. Until then, be content with having every other thing you wish for!” Rue had raised Pycela from the time she was an hour old and hated the feelings of betrayal that hid behind her words, but it must be done. How many times had she repeated that to herself over and over? It must be done.

“Truly? I can go anywhere?” They giggled and talked of adventures twelve years in the future while eating kale cakes…

Pycela sat upon the wooden seat called Ur. Rue had explained to her that it had been created many lifetimes ago strictly for the Promise to receive her gifts. She had sit here once a year for twenty years and still found it uncomfortable. She watched as queerly dressed royalty come before her and laid offerings from their kingdoms at her feet. They were allowed to speak to her and give thanks or ask for favors, but she was only allowed to say “I promise” as a reply. Once when she was a child, she had become very excited for a gift of her favorite color dress. She had shrieked and ran down toward the present. Everyone in the entire great room, musicians, lords and ladies, even her own guardsmen had fallen silent and turned their backs to her until she returned to Ur.

“We bring you spiced meats and the softest blankets this year. We ask for the sickness invading our folk to be gone.” The balding man lay all before her and awaited her response.

“I promise” intoned Pycela. She had asked Rue so many questions. Why was she the Promise? Why did she promise these things, knowing that she could never deliver? Where were her parents? Why could she never play with other children? The answers were bland and always lacked a true response. Rue insisted that she was made Promise by the coincidence of being born on the very day that began the new year. Her parents had loved her so much that they had given her up so she could be worshipped for the rest of her life as the Promise. On and on it went. She knew that Rue loved her, but she no longer believed that the lady would not lie to her.

“My dear Promise, the Kingdom of Quarteth has been annihilated by seastorm after seastorm this year. Our crops do not grow and our herds have died. As is custom, we offer the very best of the kingdom as your gift.” The green skinned woman forced a bound teenage boy forward. She then drew a blade from her wrap.

“What is the meaning of this, Ryle?” Rue was furious as she marched forward. “You cannot sacrifice your own son as a gift! He is the rightful heir to your throne!” The two women bickered back and forth until Pycela found her courage. She stood and cleared her throat. When everyone had quieted and turned away from her, she tried her voice.
“I will have the prince of Quarteth as my gift, but he shall not be sacrificed. I will accept him as a tutor for a period of two years, at which time he will return to his kingdom and I will begin my travels from here. Do this, or I will renounce my title and take my own life. I promise.” With that she left the great room and went to the hall. She heard the clamor behind her with only bits of raised voices that she could understand. They spoke of how she must not take her life. She heard how unacceptable this was and then in turn how they had no choice, that she must be happy. She knew then that she had won and retired to her room.

Rue visited her within the hour. There was the mild scolding for her behavior, but it was over quickly. “My sweet bird, you must understand the concern. Your place as promise is to love the whole world. If you have friends and family surrounding you, then the world will be loved a little less. You must remain pure of heart and body, so the thought of this young man living with you strikes fear into us all. The view from your windows does not show you the crueler side of the world but this young man could tell you of it, and for that you would not love the kingdoms as much as you do now.” Rue was trying to talk her out of her decision. She had made a mistake in her logic, however.

“Rue, I could not love the kingdoms less if I knew of their evils, for I do not love them now. How can I love what I do not know? Should I love them because they bring me pretty things on my birthday? No. I need to know their sorrows and hear of the strengths to love them. I seek only an honest voice in Ryle’s heir, nothing else. I do not need a brother or a husband, I have you!” The tears in her eyes burned like lies on her tongue, but they came when called. It was settled.

edit on 17-1-2014 by Quarles because: (no reason given)

edit on 17-1-2014 by Quarles because: (no reason given)

edit on 17-1-2014 by Quarles because: (no reason given)

edit on 17-1-2014 by Quarles because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2014 @ 05:56 PM
The next two years sped by for Pycela. The young man’s name had been Roark and he was a blessing. He taught her about humor, both righteous and crude. He taught her about thrills as they walked along the tops of the high walls on the towers. He scared her with stories of thieves and murderers, and then sat up with her all night when she was too afraid to sleep. Now, the day before her twenty second birthday, he was being a pain. He did not want to play games or talk of her adventures that she would be setting off for tomorrow. He wouldn’t even look her in the eye. She had once thought that he did not wish to return home, but to travel with her instead and was just too ashamed to admit it. However, when she mentioned the idea to him, he had called her a childish fool and stormed out. She sat alone and ate in her room with tears, real this time, escaping from her eyes.

Suddenly, pain racked her body. She doubled over clutching her stomach just in time to wretch her half eaten dinner on the floor. Rue entered and helped her to the bed and forced a drink in her mouth. “This will help with the pain. Drink it.” As she drank the pain eased and darkness encircled her.

Sometime later she dreamed that Roark had sat beside her on the bed. He was crying and talking nonsense. “It should not be this way. I should steal you away now, but they would only kill me and keep you anyway. I should have put my own child inside you a year ago and we would be free…but for how long? How long could we have been happy together with no food on a dying world?” He leaned over and kissed her forehead and his tears fell on her eyelids as they fluttered closed once again.
Pycela awoke to Rue dressing her in a plain brown robe. The fabric was irritating her skin and as she scratched at it, she felt her stomach swollen and tight against her hand. Startled, she gasped and was rewarded with another forced drink from Rue. This time she did not sleep. Her mind was as sharp as any other day, but her body was not responding to her commands. She wanted to push the hateful drink away, but couldn’t. She wanted to run from the room and whatever Rue was doing to her, but she couldn’t.

“We will see outside of these walls today, my dear. Here, put these sandals on your feet. Remember these…a gift from Ovar’s good people? They are made from woven strands of the Kyla plant. It only blooms once every one hundred years.” She pattered on and on as she finished dressing and grooming Pycela. Soon they were leaving her room. They were met in the hallway by Roark. His eyes were reddened, but dry. Pycela thought/breathed a sigh of relief at his presence. She knew that whatever this was she would be safe with him by her side.

They walked out the huge doors in the front of her keep. For the first time, Pycela saw the blue blades of grass first hand. They were mottled with brown splotches and had a mild odor that was unpleasant. Rue led her down a street lined with folk. None of them appeared to be of royal blood. Instead, they were dressed poorly, if at all. She could see how thin and sickly they all looked. Some cheered as she walked by them. There were huge trees along the road. There bark was to be shiny and black, but was now mottled by a gray fungus that moved as if breathing. They walked past boarded windows of shops and farmland that was nothing but red dust blowing in the wind. They walked over a bridge spanning a raging river. To her dismay, Pycela saw sickening green foam floating on the waters and the body of a child lying by the water’s edge. She was scared and disgusted by the time they stopped.

There was a crowd of people in the clearing that was their destination. Rue and Roark led her to the center where there was a large flat stone. There were carvings all around the side, but Pycela didn’t understand what they were supposed to represent. She lay on the stone when told, even though everything in her mind screamed to run. Rue stepped away and left her alone with Roark. He smoothed her hair away from her face and leaned in close to her to whisper in her ear.
“Don’t be afraid. You know I would never let anything hurt you. This will all be over soon. Just think about all of the good times we have had together, the jokes and stories and games.” When he saw the look of love in her eyes, he pushed the dagger into her heart.

She gasped, but not in pain. Rue’s potion had made sure she would feel nothing. Then she let out her final breath. Roark stepped away, to let everyone witness. Slowly, Pycela’s skin started glowing with different hues. There were greens and golds, pinks and blues, yellows and browns. The colors flowed through each other creating new shades that were beyond description. Where her beautiful hair had been you could see the waves of the sea. In the swirling clouds of colors you could see animals and plants and people, mountains and streams. Suddenly, all of this flew out and away from her. It seemed that there should have been a pop or a hiss or some type of noise accompanying this display, but there wasn’t. The miniscule pieces of what had been Pycela flew out and away from her like glowing embers leaving a fire. Everywhere that she landed you could see that thing starting to repair itself. Dust sand turned into fertile soil, trees shed their rot, and people became healthier and more vital.

This was more apparent in Roark than anyone else. He looked younger and stronger than he did on the day he had been given to Pycela. He walked to where her body had so recently laid and from the gown she left behind, he lifted the small baby girl. As he placed the infant in Roe’s arms and looked around.
“Things have not been renewed very well from the last few Promises. They no longer are falling in love with the world just because it spoils them rotten with gifts. If you keep making them fall in love with me and not the world they live in, then you will all die and I will be immortal.” He hated this woman, and he knew that he would hate her again, but he would do what he must to keep his world alive.

“You are right. There may not even be enough food created this time. I doubt if the disease has been eliminated in Quarteth. We must do something differently with this one.” She cradled the child in her arms, already loving it.

posted on Jan, 17 2014 @ 08:20 PM
reply to post by Quarles

Okay, I'm going to need to read that again. A lot going on in such a short tale.

Good work, seriously. I enjoyed every second. Very dark but so filled with hope.

Man, just excellent.

S&F... twice! If only.

posted on Jan, 17 2014 @ 09:03 PM
reply to post by CagliostroTheGreat


I know this story would have been better in a longer format, but I really didn't have the time.

Thanks for the star and flag!!

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