The Obsidian throne

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Chapter 1: Lysander
(by Caren, added on 24 June 2016 05:21 AM)

“You know I would not ask this of you Sander if there had been another way.” I heard Galdrion’s voice behind me as he spoke yet refused to turn around and face him. Instead, I focused all my attention on the sparkling fountain that burbled happily in one of the many private yet formal gardens that dotted the royal palace of Varillia, the sunrise kingdom as it was also known throughout Kalumnia. I watched as the water sent refracted sunlight, beautiful in all its colours, dancing across the surface of the marble statue of the lady of Day which dominated the fountain, her long red gold hair shining almost as bright as the afternoon sun, her hands stretched out on either side of her, gesturing toward the water that flowed on either side of her. She was beautiful, every detail having lovingly been etched, cast by the artist that had made her, from the inhumanly perfection of her glorious jade green eyes to her regal bearing which proclaimed louder than words ever could, that she was one of the immortals that had once co-existed with us humans. I focused on her and of the water which continued to flow either side of her outstretched hands, trying and yet failing to ignore Galdrion’s request.
Of course I knew that Galdrion would not have been making this request of me if there had been any other way, if another option was open to him. That he was making it at all, when he knew full well that doing so risked arousing my rage, my anger, told me that there was no other way, no other method for him to solve the problem that had been plagueing our kingdom for the past two generations. Indeed, the very fact that he would be pressing me on the issue told me of his desperation and yet..... And yet, even knowing the urgency of his request, even understanding the risk I ran with the thought of refusing him, I could not help but feel extreme reluctance at both the idea of submitting to his request, and outright refusing him to his face. “Sander, would you have me beg? For if that is what it will take, I am not too proud to get on my knees and beg you,” Galdrion said, standing beside me now, having moved during the last few minutes of my continued silence. His words, mildly spoken though they had been, sent fury coursing down my veins and it was all I could do not to unleash my rage on the beautiful garden we stood in. “There will be no need for that!” I told him, my tone as chilly as the early morning frost. “You will do it then?” he countered, eager to cease the opportunity I had granted him. “Galdrion, I do not think you know what you are asking of me,” I said flatly, still refusing to face my friend, my king as I spoke.

“I haven’t.... Indulged in that way for a long time now and for you to ask me to unleash that power is akin to handing an infant a lit torch and telling him to go play with it. I have no finesse in my talent.”
“And yet you are the only one who can,” he said softly. “You are uniquely gifted in this regard Sander. If I could, I would spare you this but you are the only one I trust and the talent I need....” He didn’t need to say any more, I knew already that what he was asking could not be done by anyone other than a member of my house, either me or my younger sisters and I could never countenance any of them to come to harm because of this. “Even should I agree,” I said, attempting for a mild tone like his, “The others will detect me using my talent and actively imploy counter-measures against it.....” I took in a breath, closing my eyes as I did so, trying and yet failing to hold back the memories that had been buried deep within my mind. “There is no guarantee that I will not lose control Galdrion. You risk much, risk the city beyond, if not the entire kingdom for this.”
Silence greeted my words and even though a tiny flicker of hope flared within me, I knew that he would not give in, not for something this important. And so, I braced myself, readied myself for the order I knew would come from my king. “Sander,” he said so softly, that no one but I could hear him, “it was not your fault. You were but a.....” I swiped a hand through the air savagely, halting him mid sentence, not wanting to hear, not wishing to recall the vivid images his words invoked. Images of a lavishly appointed bedchamber, the carpet, a deep rich blue, a crackling fire lighting up the otherwise dark room, white gossamer curtains drawn up tight against the bitingly cold snow outside and of the four poster bed, its rich ivery coloured sheets turned down neatly ablivious to the pail dark haired girl that lay atop them. ‘Enough!’
I willed the images back, forced them behind the wall I had erected and fortified for so long, no longer wanting to see, no longer wanting to remember. I felt a hand, warm and comforting, come to rest on my shoulder. “I know what I am asking of you Sander,” Galdrion said quietly, regretfully perhaps, but his words nevertheless carried steel behind them. “And believe me, if the matter weren’t so urgent, I would never ask it of you. I know how....” I gave out a low hiss of warning and thankfully, he was astute enough to switch tack. “this problem must be addressed and soon Sander. I fear we are running out of time. The artefacts deep within the vaults are dimming and my own librarian believes that the dimming of the artefacts’ light is connected to the waning powers of the high Seats.” This time, I did turn to face him. “The artefacts are fading?!” I asked, taking note of his wan expression. Galdrion was generally a jovial monarch, his face more accustomed to being wreathed in smiles than the worry lines that now appear perminantly etched into his features. The look did not suit him at all and the fact that he could look so concerned, so afraid and worried would have convinced me more than his please would have done. “Yes. The artefacts are waning in strength. Or as far as we can determine that their waning. You know full well that we have never discovered fully how each of the artefacts actually work.” He swiped a hand through the air to emphasise his point. “Only yesterday, the obsidian blade dimmed and so soon after the light from the burning sword did. I fear that the Oak Leaf crown will be next.”
“The light from the burning sword has waned?!” I could not keep the horror from my words as I stared into Galdrion’s bleu eyes. “How long?.....”
Galdrion grimaced, briefly looking away from me as he did so. “It waned during my father’s reign. We thought to keep it quiet. Only the high seat of house Vilandress knows of it. Well, it would have been difficult to keep it from the high seat of that house in any event as I’m sure you know.” I did know. The artefacts, all seven of them were tied to the powers of the seven houses of Varillia, or perhaps it was more accurate to state that the powers of the seven high seats were tied to the seven artefacts, given to the throne for safekeeping yet never fully belonging to the crown. The seven artefacts, were the most powerfully magical items to have survive the Rendering nearly 5000 years before. Seven powerful objects, created from the very essence of magic that derived directly from the seven high lords and ladies of the Immortal races, handed down to their mortal descendants against the time when they should be needed again. And now their power it seemed, was waning without any noticeable cause for it. “Could it be that they are simply reacting to some danger we have yet to comprehend?” I asked. But even as I voiced my question, I already knew the answer. Or to be more precise, I could feel the answer.
The obsidian blade was directly linked to my house, to me and I could feel the affects of the waning light of its magic. I might not have known precisely what the blade did or how even to wield it but I could still sense the draining of its power like a heavy drag upon my awareness. Indeed, if I were to be honest with myself, I had been sensing the drain of that power, my power, since yesterday, since the blade had apparently dimmed. And it was for this reason that I had come to the palace, where the blade and the other artefacts were kept. To investigate, to seek entry into the vault itself and seek out the blade. “Our records, scant though they are do not hint of such abilities,” Galdrion said, his gaze once more returning to mine. “All we can be certain of is that since the rendering, none of the objects forged by the high lords and ladies of the immortal races, has ever grown dull and lightless. Indeed, since the sword of summer had its light quenched, we did not even know that it would affect House Vilandress’ powers. My father hope that it would be an isolated incident but.....” He trailed off, eyeing me closely. I kept my face impassive as I answered his unspoken question. “I can feel the drain on my own reserves. I.... I do not know how badly effected my own abilities will be. Not until I try at any rate.” And as I spoke, I suddenly realised why my friend Dorion Vilandress, high seat of house Vilandress and duke of Starala, the northern most duchy of the kingdom, had always refused to display any of his magical abilities. Indeed, why his entire household avoided any display of the skills and gifts that were the birthright of all descendants of the High Lord of Summer. It could be that they were unable to perform those skills and magical abilities, or Dorion was simply too afraid to try and fail. In this, I could not blame him. Indeed, even as the thought crossed my mind, the possibility that my own abilities could be similarly affected, filled me with a brief spark of hope, fleeting though it was. Still, I could not help but test out the extent to which my powers had been effected. It was almost a reflexive action, my senses questing out and seasing immediately upon the closest human being to me.

Chapter 2: Lysander
(by Caren, added on 24 June 2016 05:23 AM)

I saw Galdrion stiffen, his eyes meeting mine briefly before they clouded over with pleasure. ‘no!’. I tried to pull back, tried to break our eye contact and mind connection but the inexorable tugging of his fear, of his concern, the heighten state of his emotions all drew me in even deeper. ‘No!’ I fought, tried to fight the inner demon within but it had gone too long, I had gone too long without feeding and its hunger, my hunger was too great to stop. ‘no!” the sstill human part of my mind whimpered as my hands reached out for Galdrion, my unending hunger now eager to feast upon my friend’s mind, on his emotion. I drew his unresisting body to me, and it was perhaps the shock of feeling him physically against me, or perhaps the last vestige of strength he possessed to slam down a thick mind shield between us, along with an open handed slap to my face, that pulled me back to my own senses, back to my awareness. He shoved me gently away from him and I allowed myself to fall at his feet, breathing hard, my eyes closed, trying to regain control. “I thought you had to be physically attracted to your prey for that to happen,” he said conversationally, and from the sound of his voice, I knew that he had sunk to his haunches to be at my level. He also still sounded very dazed, his words tinged with just a hint of longing in them. “Ordinarily yes,” I whispered, refusing to open my eyes. I could not look at him. “but I’ve... It has gone too long without feeding and.....”
I trailed off, allowing the vestiges of my hunger and the accompanying desire to ebb. “And you would have noticed that it... That I did not get a firm grip on you or....”
“Or right now, I would be in the throes of mindless pleasure whilst you fed from me.” I opened my eyes and looked at him, at his dark blue eyes that were still slightly glazed over, at the dark lashes, such a contrast to his pail complexion, at his classically etched features, his aquiline nose, strong jaw and firm mouth; features that I knew so well. And once more, I felt the hunger rising, encourage by the scent of his fear, the excitement and terror he was failing to tamper down. He was prey, my prey and he wanted to be fed upon, wanted that mindless pleasure of being.....
I stood up rapidly and moved away from him, away from the scent of him. “Control yourself Galdrion,” I snapped, turning away from him as I did so. “What?!” He sounded confused. “Conceal your fear! Conceal your scent if you must. just control yourself!” I was breathing hard again, wrestling with my inner demon for control. “I.....” Galdrion truly sounded baffled. “I don’t understand.”
“Exactly!” I hissed at him. “you don’t understand what you are asking of me. Right now, your fear, your anxiety, your heightened emotions are sending me all the wrong messages! Right now, all I want to do is feast on you and I can have you begging for it! This is what you wish to unleash before your people?! Before your subjects?! Perhaps I ought to give you a taste of what you are asking for.” Rage, yes, rage was good, it helped me gain control over my bestial self. “I’m sorry,” Galdrion sounded truly contrite and when I turned around, I found him standing before me. I hadn’t even heard him move nor scented him. He had truly concealed himself from my awareness. “But you will still order me to do it.” It was not a question; I could read the determination in his eyes. “I have full confidence in your ability to control yourself,” he said quietly. “Galdrion, I nearly fed upon you. How can you say.....” He held up a hand to silence me. “But you didn’t.”
“Only because you had the presence of mind to put up a shield! Most people will not half your ability.”
“And I am not asking you to scent out their emotions. Only to quest out their minds.”
“there one and the same thing,” I retorted. “I have confidence that you can distinguish between the two.”
Galdrion met my gaze. “Sander, I cannot allow the high seats to know that we... That the throne is weakening. It is bad enough that every time one of the artefacts dims, the high seat connected to that artefact is instantly aware of it. For them to know all at once will undermine my rule. It’s my responsibility as care-taker of those artefacts, as guardian of the children of the immortal high lords and ladies, I need to know... We need to know what is truly going on and figure out how the artefacts affect the powers of a high seat.” There was more to it of course, more than what he was telling me but I already knew what that thing was. Galdrion was afraid, we were all afraid of the possible repercussions should the remaining artefacts dim all at once. Weakened as the high seats already were, for us to weaken further as a result of the artefacts giving up their power, could possibly have the ability to destroy us completely. We weren’t exactly immortal like our forefathers after all.
I resisted for a minute longer, trying and yet failing to come up with some other way to gather the information Galdrion needed, that we needed. Finally, with resignation and bitterness, I nodded. “Understand that I do this with utmost reluctance Galdrion,” I told him, my tone curt. “If it had been any body else, and if the information you seek weren’t so urgent,.....” I didn’t need to finish my sentence. I knew that he had gotten my meaning loud and clear. “I thank y......”
“Don’t thank me,” I spat out. “You’ll be wishing soon enough that you didn’t ask this of me!” I gave him a perfunctory bow before turning on my heels and leaving him to stare after me.

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