The two skeletons that were supposed to resemble girls could not be more than twelve. They bore rags as if it was silk and thick metal collars around their fragile necks. With petite thin bodies, that had not yet matured, they moved seamlessly. Their hands removed Morgana’s black dress in seconds. Every clunk and clink erupting from the metal shackling them made her ears hurt. She saw the rising fear in their eyes when they heard her gnash her teeth.
She had been in a bad mood the whole morning and only a bath could calm her down. She stood naked in her chamber for a while, with closed eyes, just trying to calm herself down, before walking down the steps to her private latrine.
First entered her dark-red polished toenails and then her almost ghastly white calves and thin waist. Layers of hazy mist coiled and writhed for every ounce of fair flesh dipping into the scalding water. A moan escaped her full lips.
What a bath could not rid, nothing could, she thought and allowed her raven black hair drift out in all directions. Lillies and petals floated around aimlessly in the pool, the first complementing her green, viper-like eyes, and the latter her quite notable nail polish. She closed her eyes and submerged fully. The world around her disappeared, and she merged with the dark water and relished the feeling of nothingness.
Above, the dim room crawled with ghastly candles stretching up like dead men’s fingers. After more than an hour of ceaselessly burning, they were on the verge of snuffing out.
The two girls stood dutifully at the end of the pool, holding the finest set of clothes a woman could bear. A black as night dress of rich velvet, stockings made from the silk of the immortal larvae and to top it off, a necklace consisting of a singular, red and pulsating ruby.
This would cost a fortune in the mortal world, and more so, barely be found even if the whole island was scoured. Only Lady Morgana possessed this extreme privilege.
Suddenly, a willowy-shaped figure broke the still and time-stopped surface. Morgana chipped for air as soon as came up, her ample chest weaving in motions with the almost thrusting swaying of her upper body.
She got up from the bath and held up her arms, allowing the girls to dry her with silk towels. After that came the dress. Morgana had her eyes darkened at the sight of the two’s hands that seemed to tremble even more than before.
”No need to be nervous.” she said. ”calm down.”
The two girls bowed without making a sound. As trained to do.
Filthy pigs. Morgana felt a deep rage unsurp from the bottom of her stomach. She swore that if the opportunity presented itself one day, she’d have those the worthless slave traders exterminated just like the vermin they were. Just like all those men she’d have to please today. She truly longed for the day of her coming to power. That day was when she would crush them, disregard the so-called ”face” they always seemed to think so highly off. She would have them plead like rats under her feet. Oh the day, she mused, oh the day.
Morgana left the bath and headed over to her bed chamber with the servant girls following right behind her. She quietly sat down on a chair beside a mirror and waited for the girls to finish combing her hair. This had always been a special moment for her until her mother passed away.
They had been sitting in the sun, laughing and chatting about random things as they were taking turns combing each other’s hair. Until her father came home each day. That is when everything changed.
She remembered how her mother’s smile always seemed to melt away in the sunlight. At his command, she entered the bedroom and always came out with bruises her fair skin and sculpted face.
Morgana had been too small to understand why at the time. It was only when she one day happened to stand outside the room, hearing her mother’s screams and father’s grunts. She opened the door in curiosity and saw the cruelest sight she had ever seen.
Her naked mother was bound to the bed and whipped, and her father held the reins, his fat wobbling every time he swung down his arm. He wore a nasty expression on his face, one that she had never seen nor expected to do. She had been chased out by her mother that day, and only later understood it was for her own sake. Her mother had come out that night, shaking, trembling in pain, taking her daughter to escape.
She died a couple of days later, leaving Morgana alone in the world. There was only one man she respected in this world, and that was the one who saved her and took her to the sect. She was eternally grateful for him, but all other men, no matter the age or background, were just filthy pigs.
The servant girls excused themselves from the chambers, taking their leave as the door closed with a soft thud. She got to her feet and walked out to the balcony. The night was a quiet one and the gleaming stars shone dutifully in the sky. The moon was full and of argent silver. She wondered how many others looked up to this guardian tonight just like her.
On her finger, there was an inconspicuous silver ring. She swiped across its surface with her other hand, an elegant sword appearing under her feet, taking her away from the balcony, across the starry sky and into the night.
She retrieved the elegant flying sword once she landed at the entrance of the Hall of Festives. Many others from the sect were walking in but almost none dared to meet her eye. She heard a voice behind her. ”Big sis!” it said.
Morgana turned around, a smile dancing on her red lips.
”How fortunate, I thought you’d stay home today.” Jenise wore a red dress with a long sash today and landed beside her with a swish.
Morgana replied. ”As an elder that not be very appropriate, unfortunately.”
”Well, you’re not the type to mind that, are you.”
Morgana scoffed at Jenice’s comment. Then she suddenly felt a perverted aura from over her shoulder. Turning around, she saw Vice Sect Head Jackson and his son, the damnable Keiron, arriving, followed by a choir of servants ranging from young girls to women of mature standards. Fucking Daegons, she muttered, as she watched them enter the building.
”What?” Jenise said and flicked a finger at her lip innocently.
Morgana shook her head at the sight of her action. ”Nothing,” she replied.
Her busty friend laughed and clapped her back. ”Well then Big sis, let us walk inside and get ourselves dead drunk tonight.”
”Right.” Morgana jested in return. Drunk? She never had been and never would. Drinking was just a tool for men to easier get into the pants of women, to cloud their judgment and whatnot, she would refuse. She pulled down her dress and walked inside. Jenise followed her in from behind and had started to giggle for a reason she’d rather not care to know.
The hall of festivity was crowded as normal. A path opened up for Morgana and Jenise as they made their way to the table in the middle of the hall. Of the thirteen chairs, ten figures were already there, seated, but had started to partake in the festivities. At the far end of the table sat Sect Head Augustus. His flowing gray beard was patched with gemstones and gold, matching the blue of his eyes. He wore a ceremonial golden robe engraved with the figurehead of the sect; the dragon. Beside him sat Vice Sect Head Robert, the usual arrogant grin on his face evident as he sucked up to Augustus.
Augustus seemed to take notice of her and Jenise as they came into view and sat down on the two empty chairs.
”Lady Morgana, Jenise,” he said. ”Welcome.”
Jenise bowed while Morgana simply gave him a faint nod. Augustus did not seem to take it to heart. He cleared his throat and said in a deep voice. ”Elders, thank you for coming tonight. I know a great challenge is in front of us, and that time is precious. For you to take this time for my trivial matters, It’s an honor.”
Robert of Dageon flattered Augustus as usual. ”How could we possibly refuse, my lord. The sect is yours to command however you see fit.”
”I’m glad you think this way, Robert.” Augustus grabbed a jar of summer vine from the table and poured up a cup. ”Esteemed elders, I said this was not for official matters, and yet there is a matter I must inform you about,” he said. ”An ear of mine happened to receive news of a group of mortals having passing our border this morning. They have likely heard rumors about the secret to immortality, someone must have led them here.”
Michael said, ”Perhaps your brother.” He then wirled his golden hair, and mused. ”Where is he by the way? Haven’t seen him in years.”
Augustus looked over at the vacant seat next to Morgana, his eyes displaying coldness. ”Probably getting drunk somewhere. What else.” he replied.
Michael looked over at Morgana. He was a tall and slender man, and as he glanced at Morgana, she could not help but feel a shiver racing through her spine. As the oldest Elder alive at the moment, in fact, the oldest immortal in the sect, his words carried a a certain power, far more domminering than others, even though they were of no malice. On his smile lay a gentle smile, but beneath, the grin of a devil.
Any ideas?” he asked.
She shuddered again but replied flatly. ”Even I cannot forsee that man’s actions.”
”Indeed. His path in the starry sky is intraceable, even I cannot see it.”
”Enough of my brother.” Augustus said with a descicive seldom seen in his voice. His words put an end to the discussion.”What of the mortals. Shall we give them a chance?”
”I think not.” third elder, Rowan, said, his brows knitted in anger. ”Rather, they should be punished for entering the sacred valley. For years mortals have not set foot here. Today that violation has been broken. How absurd, have they forgotten the rules?”
At least they are better than you.
The third elder was short and pudgy where Michael was long and slender, brown and curly where he was golden and straight, and full of blemishes where he was fair. Donning a pointy nose and round, oak-brown glasses, this blob was even more unsightly than most men Morgana had seen. He had a reputation for raping his slave girls every night for the whole sect to hear, not to mention his attitude toward her being an elder.
”I think we should give them a chance.” Morgana spoke up. A coldness flashed in her eyes as she glanced at Rowan. ”Even we were once mortals.”
”Perhaps you were. Not I.” Rowan said between his teeth.
Augustus bellowed. ”Watch your tongue, Elder Rowan.”
”My lord, forgive me for being blunt.” the pudgy man apologised with a bow. Then he straightened himself and said. ”But I really do believe a punishment is in order.”
Augustus seemed to think over Rowan’s suggestion. After a while, he turned his gaze to the two grand elders, silently asking for their advice.
Robert jumped straight into the silence the sect head left. ”I agree with Elder Rowan.” he explained. Keiran really was him up in the day. A delicate face rivaling that of a woman and eyes as blue as the sea. Windy too, a glance caused women to faint, but not Morgana. She knew that withunder that beautiful guise lay an ugly beast. One that would do anything for its own selfish reasons.
”There I must dissagree with you, young Robbie.” Michael returned. He loosened his garment, stretched his shoulders and stroked his goate. ”I really do. In fact, I think all of you has gotten it wrong, except for Morgana that is.” His words caused a pause.
Augustus shortly filled the paus, and said. ”Grand Elder, please enlighten us.”
”Heh, why else would someone of my generation still be alive if not for that.” the grand elder slapped the table, his smile thundering into laughter. Then he went quiet. He took a hard long glance at everyone in the room, and pointed up. ”All of what you see, is but an illusion of heart. Immortals, we are not immortals. We are merely humans who have advanced further on the road than others. We cannot live forever nor are we in any way trascendant. Never forget this, the foundation of our sect comes from our ability to change. Our ability to transform into something better, stronger and more open-minded. Traditions and rules are meant to be tested, broken and created anew.”
”Grand Elder.” the sixth elder adressed. ”I do not understand.”
”That is alright, my child.” Michael put his slender hand on the stout man next to him, Zakarias, and said. ”I did not in you age. Wisdom comes through what we experience and percieve. In time you will also understand this, just as your ancestors and I before you. Anyway, I vote for letting the mortals into our city. Then we shall do as we have always done. Test their will to walk the path of cultivation.” he said with a smile.
The still undecided raised their hands together with the grand elder. It was a complete victory. Augustus looked at everyone and sighed. ”Then so it shall be.” he then filled up his wine glass again, swung it in circles and donned a grin. ”Let us begin the feast.”
The elders raised their cups of red wine and was just about to cheer when Morgana stood up, causing the chair to bang into the floor. She looked around and bowed slightly. Then she turned her back and walked out of the hall, followed by a Jenise in dismay and the silent insults from most of the remaining elders.
First had Kieran of Daegon, the young master of the Daegon house, come to see her at her room of cultivation. She had told her servants to refuse his request; and yet he had the balls to insist, furthermore, once inside, told her of his feelings, how his heart yearned only for her and no one else.
What a load of bull
The whole sect clearly knew of her view of men, that she would rather die than to marry.
Had the sect forgotten of her prowess?
For her claws had certainly not turned dull, she knew this. Had he not been one of the two great elders’ son, she would have forced him to leave an arm for his sheer insolence.
And secondly, which also caused her dismay, she had received a summon from the Sect head to visit the Halls of Festivity tonight. The dark fog would soon be upon them, and that man had the urge to throw a banquet? She shook her head with a sigh.