11 years earlier...
“No please!” she screamed as Solomon pulled her away from the peephole of the door.
“Kween stop it!” Solomon pleaded. She screamed anyway, it was a soul-wrenching scream, but it wouldn’t help her, not now.
“I hate you!” she bawled, her voice growing hoarse. “Why won’t you help me?” she accused helplessly. He knew she didn’t mean it, but it still stung.
“Kween...” he mumbled not knowing what to say, this was how it went, it was how it always was and will forever be, it was who she was meant to be. A short whimper sounded from the other side of the door and then a heavy thud as the lady in the other room hit the floor. “Return to your room now” was all I should and could say.
Kween shrugged hard, pulling her nightgown closer to her body, she was shaking. “Kween...” I began, but she cut me off her hand raised.
“Shut up” She spun, pushing past me, her head bowed. I could see that her cheeks were wet with tears as she took off, without looking at me.
I didn’t make an attempt to go after her knowing that she was in no mood to speak, also that it wasn’t my place. Her door slammed shut hard and I sighed in relief, grateful that she hadn’t caused any further disruptions.
She was my best friend in the whole world and I wouldn’t lose her to anything, not something like this. The door clicked open and Benjie emerged along with several other men who all held knives stained in blood. ′Her′ blood, I didn’t know her name, but she was very important to Kween, therefore, important to me, but now her importance died with her in that dark bedroom.
“Solomon!” she squealed from the balcony. “Come quick!” I rushed into her room and onto the balcony to see what she wanted to show. These were the moments I cherished the most with Kween, the ones where there was just the both of us and the shadows of the world we lived in would fade away.
“Look,” she said pointing excitedly down at the ferries that were adrift in the distance. It was late evening and the scene from her balcony was quite lovely, but I was afraid that I was once again bringing the shadow of bad news with me.
“It’s beautiful Kween” I said looking at her now from sideways, her jet black curls had grown out of control again, flopping over her forehead and sticking out oddly in every direction, it suited her well, framing her oval face majestically and highlighted her long dark lashes and equally dark gem-like eyes perfectly.
She sighed heavily “What’s wrong?” she asked sensing the heaviness I brought with me, she didn’t look at me. The smile faded from her face as she leaned forward on the railings, her hair bouncing with the movement.
“We have to move again...soon actually” I began, she read me so well and I, her.
“Solomon” she sighed turning to me now, “Why do you treat me like how they do, you’re my friend, the only one I can really talk to...” she tilted her head to one side reaching out to touch my shoulder “...you can tell me, I can handle it now,” She assured me softly.
I couldn’t keep her gaze for long, it made my heart beat too fast so I looked away at the ferry which was now fading into the sunset. “The next stop is Paris I think” I began, trying to get away from her piercing gaze by focusing on the ferry that drifted so slowly I had to squint to see if it was actually moving.
I looked back at her briefly, her eyes squinting suspiciously and her arms folded making me want to smile, but I didn’t. “Well I’m not leaving Venice, I don’t have a reason to...” she decided as she looked away from me now expecting me to give in.
I remained silent knowing that she would break soon and so would I. ′Three... Two... One...′ I counted down in my mind. “Oh come on...Sol” she groaned now chucking me in the shoulder,” you’re such a stiff” she teased rolling her eyes. I was happy that she wasn’t upset.
I took a deep breath, preparing to give her what she wanted, I had already planned our conversation in my head -it was going much better in reality. ”Reptiel" I began in a low tone using our native Thophilan tongue. “They have left behind more bodies than I’ve ever seen this year.”
I paused to gauge her reaction, she seemed calm, but I could tell by the way her eyes fluttered that she was troubled by the news. ′Reptiel′, as the name suggested, were enemies of the Juweel colony, which was one of many who either resided or branched out from Marsa Alam, Egypt.
The queen of one’s colony had a special gift, which made them very valuable to the colony they were a part of and despised by those that associated themselves as being individuals, though they shared a similar purpose, carrying out the will of the Gods.
They were like pests, the ′Reptiel’s′ and I would never fully understand the concept they had of themselves, but their intentions were clear.
“Let me talk to them, maybe they will listen...or let me use--” she began in a tired voice.
“No,” I said cutting her off a bit sharply. She walked past me into her room and I followed after her, waiting until she sat on the bed. “The ‘Reptiel’s’ cannot be compelled by your touch only your blood and that is what we need to avoid” I warned her.
“Ugh, compel is just a nice way of saying force because that’s the ugly truth,” she said throwing her hands up suddenly. “I can’t help that people die around me constantly. I can’t wait for them to put me out of my misery, just eight more years if I live that long.” She complained sadly.
The blood of the queen within our colony was of great value if acquired and then consumed would then lead to the death of that Queen’s colony, giving great powers of compulsion to ′Reptiel’s′ or any other enemies that would want to replicate the potency of God like magic, also known as Heka, found in a Queens blood.
“It’s not your fault, of course,” I said trying to console her, she didn’t look at me, as the opposite ran through her mind. “If you die, we all die and even worse the ′Reptiel’s′ will gain the ability to go beyond our colony destroying them and replicating their abilities...who knows what would become of the world.”
“It doesn’t feel that way” she pouted; I could see her spiraling into misery. “If I could die without harming anyone I would, I’m going to anyway...” she muttered.
I had made up my mind to find a way for her to escape the burden she carried since the age of six when her mother was removed from the colony.
The ability emerged passed down in a kiss from the previous Queen. Once transferred there was no need for a useless Queen and so once the gift laced its Heka into the new Queens blood it compels those of the messenger bloodline and those touched by her, will be enlightened to Ra’s grace and from it, stems the overwhelming need to protect her at any cost like bees protecting its Queen.
Once the previous queen reached the age of twenty-five they were removed so that the new queen would take her place, harsh but it was the way we had always lived and I despised it even more so now that Kween’s life would be at stake soon. The older she got the smaller her chances became of somehow escaping her inevitable fate.
She was already a year and a couple months away from having the A’ged suggesting that she considered conceiving a child.
“You have to remain strong Kween” was all I could say. I couldn’t give away my intentions fearing that if I voiced them they would somehow be thwarted by the dark karma that followed our colonies harsh nature.
“Ugh, Sol you’re impossible to talk to” She complained toying with the gold bracelet which was in the form of a snake on her wrist. I had laughed inwardly when she had returned from the shop last week with it, but it wasn’t meant to be a joke for she loved reptilian creatures. I had soon presented her with a similar gift the year before.
This was a terrible irony, considering the fact that the people who sought to destroy colonies were described as reptilian in nature cold-blooded and heartless. They were our enemies for as long as we knew ourselves. A loud bang sounded outside her bedroom door. It was Benji, I was sure and I would be in trouble.
I walked briskly to the door, opening it so wide that I was trapped behind it, hiding, hoping I wouldn’t be scrutinized as closely by Benji or the other A’ged who followed him. The ′A’ged′ were the wisest and sometimes oldest in any colony, they carried on the culture and knowledge of those before them until they passed on. I had never trusted them or maybe it was because they discouraged my casual talks such as these with Kween.
“Benjie!” Kween squealed jumping up from her bed and throwing her arms around his neck in a tight loving embrace. “Why do you spend so much more time with the A’ged than you do me, am I that boring?” she asked pouting.
He chuckled, his voice deep and looked at her just as fondly as she did him “You know that I would never give up a chance to spend time with you. But your life is in danger and until then I will not rest or give myself the pleasure of being by your side.” He said in a flattering tone.
I could never understand how fond she was of him and I was tempted to ask her if she knew that he was the one who had killed her mother. It was true though that he had been like a father to her, caring and kind and I did believe that he loved her. But still, I could not trust him.
Benjie was set in his ways and was one of the reasons why he tried his best not to grow close with the Queen, though meeting her it could not be helped.
“Solomon, you must wait for me in the hallway,” he said in a less fond tone without even looking in my direction. The other A’ged looked at me with disapproving eyes.
Kween then released Benji and turned to me “He doesn’t have to go, Solomon knows me more than I know myself and is welcome in my presence at any time.” I almost fainted knowing that Benjie would be even angrier than he already was with me. The A’ged studied me in wide-eyed disbelief.
I was surprised that Benjie managed to keep calmly composed, “Kween, we talked about this, Solomon is your steward and should only remain as your steward, it is not becoming and it sets a bad example for our colony, you know his...situation.” I could hear the discrimination in his voice and it irked me so.
I decided to try and leave before Kween protested any further, I knew she would, I was grateful that she had no fear in calling me her friend, but this would only make the situation worse for me.
“No don’t go” she instructed and I clenched my teeth, my back to the others as I faced outside, wishing something would reach in and pull me across the doorway. “His nature is of no fault as he proves to you every day, he is different ...and he is my friend, my friend. I can take care of myself otherwise.”
“Kween please we have important matters to discuss and I need Solomon to run an important...errand, he can’t do that if he’s here idling now can he?” She would believe him.
“Solomon you can go ahead, Vincent will give you further instructions outside.” He ordered and I moved without thinking twice, making my way to the farthest end of the hallway.
I stopped turning to face Vincent and was met harshly by the back of his hand which tore its way across my cheek. It burned, but I made no move to touch it. “Who do you think you are?” He asked in a ridiculing tone.
“Friends with the Queen...“, he said sarcastically “...ridiculous.” I kept quite trying to quell the anger that had begun to feast on my spirit. I took in the ugly brown carpet of the ridiculously expensive suite that we had chosen to station ourselves while blocking out Vincent’s harsh words.
I wanted to ask where we were off to next, but that would only make him angrier if he noticed that I didn’t care for what he had said. I stared at the carpet so hard that when the door to Kween’s room opened, all I could see was the ugly brown as my eyes came into contact with Benjie’s.
Vincent had finally stopped talking and I braced myself for Benjie’s anger. I could see his fists clenched at his sides as he made his way towards me with cold eyes. “If you ever speak to the Queen in such a casual manner again I will have you killed then posthumously executed, I promise” he threatened.
Kween suddenly walked outside with a big smile on her face. “Benjie...” she sang and I knew by her smile that Benjie would not readily approve of what she was about to say. “...if we have to move, I get to choose the place along with two conditions ...”
Benjie’s shoulder tensed and he narrowed his eyes at me before turning to Kween his voice dripping with honey. “What might those be?”
We all waited patiently as she made her way to where we stood. I looked at her the anger I had felt earlier disappearing like vapor. “...I get to go to a real school...and so does Solomon.”
I tensed knowing Benjie would have me killed for sure at her request though it would almost be worth it as I watched Kween wink conspiringly at me before returning her attention to Benjie.
This would be our last weekend in Venice and Kween insisted that we should make it memorable. Out of all the places we had lived, Venice was her favorite. “Somehow I just don’t believe you tripped and fell on your way back from that unnecessary errand Sol, you may not be a fighter but you aren’t clumsy.”
Kween pinched my nose and I slapped her hand away. She giggled her eyes closing as she leaned her body to the side breaking into a fit of laughter. She may be oblivious to Benjie’s dislike of others, but she was no fool when it came to people lying to her.
“Just leave it at that....please, it was stupid, I’m embarrassed enough telling you about it,” I said trying to sound uncomfortable and hoping that she would drop the matter. She remained silent.
It was a late night and Benjie would definitely have a fit if he knew that I had the Queen out late at night as we sat wordlessly side by side enjoying the quiet of St. Mark’s square. It was empty surprisingly and it was breath-taking.
The saddest part of all this was that the situation as always was never what it seemed, I had tried and tried to persuade Kween to stay inside, she was the one who held me captive in the lonely square of St. Mark. I chuckled involuntarily as I remembered the look on her face as she threatened to go alone, I knew she wouldn’t, but I would do anything for Kween, she was my favorite person in the whole world.
“Imagine the fit Benjie would have if he found out we were gone...” she took hold of my hand. “...he probably wouldn’t notice anyway, I barely see him anymore” she continued sadly.
Unlike the others in our colony, I was not affected by the compulsive touch of the Queen. Once one had come into contact with Kween’s skin if even briefly, would instantly become spellbound with the overwhelming need to keep her safe or even worship her in some instances.
Upon contact also, her skin allowed the transfer of enlightenment and knowledge of one’s life to show that being connected always and forever to something bigger than themselves was inevitable in almost all creatures.
There were exceptions, of course, the Reptiel’s, and they were our sworn enemies. They believed having individualism was key and it was the only way to live. We did not and so we fought against them for years and now it was Kween’s turn to fight.
“Take me away Sol, right now” she ordered and we both stared at each other for a while. I shook my head trying to hold in the laughter that started to build at the back of my throat.
She groaned, then pouted at me letting go of my hand. “The one person I want it to work on and it doesn’t.” I patted her back.
“That’s because I already would do anything for you....except taking you any further into these darkened streets”. I reassured her. That was somewhat a lie. I had every intention of taking her away as soon as I figured out how and where.
“Let’s go back now, we have a lot of packing to do and you need to save your energy for that impossible shopping list you compiled earlier.” She smiled wickedly standing up.
“Yes we both have to save our energy, school awaits us,” she said in an overly dramatic tone. “Plus from what I’ve heard of schools in the Netherlands they are pretty modern, so there’s no space for cloaks and tunics, I’m so excited.” She squealed.
Even though I wouldn’t admit it, I was rather excited myself. A whole new world this time chosen by Kween, I was sure it would be memorable.
The sound of a glass bottle smashing against a nearby wall made us both jump and on alert. “We should get going,” I ordered firmly to Kween rather than suggested. She nodded following behind me silently.
“Don’t...move” a voice sounded from within the alley’s shadows. I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. I controlled my breathing, I was worthless in a fight, the one job I had to do I couldn’t and of all the times to corner us, this was the worst.
Kween had never been in a situation like this before and it was my fault she was being threatened here now. I pulled her closer to me as I heard footsteps shuffling towards us. I tried to pull us forward, but a metal object shot forth out of nowhere grazing my forehead and piercing the wall next to us.
“I said, don’t move” the voice warned again much harsher this time. It sounded young and male and I could tell the intruder was Reptiel. I knew this because I was one myself...in a sense.
I was only partly so because the heka that made Reptiel’s so menacing only flowed in my blood and not on my flesh, there were two components that made up a Reptiel, impenetrable skin and unyielding blood. I had to admit, I felt somewhat incomplete and I was, this was my only defense and one that I was never hesitant to use.
I pulled my head back and clenched my teeth. “No, please don’t...!” Kween begged, knowing what I was about to do.
I bowed forward hard, my head colliding with the rough brick wall and for a moment all I could hear was the ringing in my ears and the awful pinpricks of pain in my neck, behind my eyes and the biggest one stabbing at my forehead.
The warm rush of blood flowed full and steady as it ran over my face and past my eye’s dripping off my chin. I had torn open the bruise on my forehead so that my unyielding blood would flow, coating my skin with its protecting qualities, making my skin almost as hard and impenetrable as the Reptiel’s and then I would use my body to protect Kween.
“I’m ok,” I reassured Kween. My head spun for a moment. “Hold onto my clothes, we’ll be ok,” I said bravely. If my blood came in contact with Kween’s skin, she would be burned in the worst way, this would also happen if any of the Reptiel’s came into contact with her, like electricity flowing through water.
Even though they too would be burned, I would never let Kween suffer such unnecessary pain. The young boy laughed out loudly, “smart, but it still won’t help you...how could you reject us, your blood and put your life on the line for slave hoarders like that slut!” he spat vehemently.
I was angered by the way he spoke of Kween, but I couldn’t act rashly not when we might be outnumbered. “Get him, don’t touch the girl!” another voice ordered from behind us. I was frozen for a moment, they were here for me it seemed.
“Aaaaarrghhhh” the young boy screamed coming at us from the side revealing the metal object that had flew from the shadows earlier now visible along with his face in the moon’s light as he charged towards us anger burning in his eyes.
I placed my body in front of Kween’s as he got closer. He had dark skin and the biggest afro I had ever seen since we left Marsa Alam. I glimpsed his tailored pants and a purple shirt which was no longer tucked in his slightly crushed pants rise, exposing a weapon tucked in the waist.
As he reached us I glimpsed briefly the knife he pulled from his back pocket as he stabbed at Kween, she squealed but I put my hand up in time blocking the blow and static filled the air as the knife and my hand connected pushing his arm back with a bit of force.
He then backhanded me across the face and reached behind my head with his knife hand stabbing once again at her. I pulled myself up quickly using my head to block the blow. The boy flew back with such force that he fell on his ass. I pulled Kween quickly and ran, taking the chance to try and escape.
The boy got up and was after us in an instant. “Are you sure we can’t kill him?” he asked the other person hidden in the shadows, his breaths labored and angry.
“Do you need some help?” the voice asked tauntingly. This voice must also be that of a Reptiel much older and also male.
“Shut up!” the boy hissed at the man. He was gaining on us. “Kween go! run as fast as you can, I’ll try and hold him off!” I said pushing her ahead.
“Wait, I can’t just leave you...” she began to protest.
“You can’t just die either, the life of everyone rests on you staying alive, now go!” I shouted at her “I’ll be fine!” I shoved her once again and turned just in time to receive an angry punch in the nose from the young boy.
My head flew back and my teeth clashed together hard with the force. This was the full strength of a true Reptiel, now that he had put away the knife my unyielding blood was only a half-matched defense to his impenetrable flesh.
He stood over me with a smug smile on his face “On second thought, I’ll get the girl” the man said cheerfully coming up behind the young boy. “Good job Rick,” he said touching him briefly on his shoulder before charging off to where Kween had gone.
I struggled to get up, even if it killed me I would not, could not let Kween die. “Where do you think you’re going?” Rick asked as he stooped over my body slapping me tauntingly in the face.
“Stop struggling while were being nice, or you watch her die” he teased, placing his thumb at one side of his throat and pulling it across to the other side. His satisfied smile made me sick to my stomach.
“Not if you die first!” Kween’s voice came, as she hoisted a plastic pipe above her head. How could she be so stupid? I thought angrily. I used the distraction to push him off of me the same time that Kween brought the pipe down hard on the back of his head.
As expected the Pipe had no effect on Rick, it only bounced off leaving a crack in the pipe’s exterior. Rick stumbled to the side but quickly righted himself by grabbing onto Kween’s arms with his bare hands.
Static filled the air as they both cried out in agony, with Rick pulling away as quickly as possible and stunned by the contact. The static lingered still thick in the air. No other Reptiel had ever been this close to Kween before and now she was burned by one. I grabbed the pipe from Kween, hitting Rick over and over again.
He slinked to the ground covering his face. Like most reptiles, the stomach was their weak point. I jammed the pipe into his stomach, although it was not hard enough to pierce him, it was enough to make his eyes bulge in pain as he curled into a ball on the ground.
“Let’s go!” Kween begged. Her voice cleared the angry haze that filled my mind. I wanted to kill him. I reluctantly dropped the pipe taking Kween’s hand the familiar warmth flooding my body, calming me down as we hurried to get home.
Welcome to a new adventure peeps! I hope you like it so far