Death Raven

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Betrayal of the Father

Blood pounds in my ears like a beating drum. It blocks out the sound of my bare feet slapping against the red velvet carpet that decorates the floor to the throne room. I feel more than hear myself screaming; a singular name drops off a tongue, taking a piece of heart with it each time—my vision tunnels toward my destination. The smooth dark gray walls seem to stretch on for eternity, making it feel like no matter how hard I run, I never make any progress.

I have had this nightmare a thousand times before; still, it doesn’t make the panic and fear welling up in my chest feel any less real. It clogs my throat and startles my heart. Each step feels impossible, like the weight of the world rests on my shoulders when, in reality, it’s just a damn crown. A crown that has poisoned my father’s mind to the point where he treasures it more than his own children. It’s just a damned piece of cursed metal that’s about to cost me more then I’ll be willing to pay.

Just because I know how this dream ends doesn’t stop me from trying to change the outcome. It doesn’t stop me from fighting like I was there once more, living in the moment. My feet stumble over themselves in my panic. My long hair whips my face as I fall. My knees and palms burn as they collide with the thin carpet and the stone that lies beneath.

I glance down at my hands as I shove my body off the ground, throwing myself back into my run. Once as pale as moonlight, the skin on my arms is corrupted with living shadows that writhe against my control. More proof of how much I’ve already had to sacrifice. My mind shoves the thoughts away, focusing on one goal. I had to get to the throne room; I couldn’t let it happen again. So much has been taken from me already, I couldn’t lose her too. I don’t know if I could survive it.

I round a final corner and my heart feels like someone just cut the cord as it plummets into my stomach. At the end of the hall, I could see the black marble and gold veined doors that lead into the king’s throne room. The problem was the winged men Father used to guards that filled the space between the doors and me.

My hands grew cold as I looked at every face. Still, I don’t find the one I’m searching for. my older brother, Nixon, had been head of the kingsguard at the time. There was no way he didn’t know they were here. And that meant he knew their orders just like I did. Yet he wasn’t among them, he neither wanted to help or fight against. This was my battle against our father, after all. It’s always my battle to fight, my siblings be damned. I was the crowned prince, everyone believed I was strong enough to face every problem alone.

Upon seeing me, the angels pulled weapons from the cloaks that bellowed around their sturdy forms. Their orders were simple; do whatever it takes to stop me from getting into that room, even if you have to kill me. Father knew that stationing them there would be a death sentence. their deaths would be meaningless, just to keep me busy long enough for the king to finish what he was doing behind those doors. The thing is, I am willing to die if that is what it takes, but more importantly, I’m willing to kill for her.

The first of the angles run at me, meeting me halfway down the hall—their tanned shaking fingers clutching their curled blades. I feel the power surge through my arms, and the shadows jump from my skin as the familiar weight of my dual khopesh settle in my hands.

Our blades crash together with a ringing sound. A snarl pulls on my lips, and our blades lock together. I glare over at the angle, but instead of finding anger or revolves in his eyes. Under his helm is a frightened look, eyes were blown wide and thin lips bitten until they bleed. The first drop of blood to be spilled today. The tiny red orbs soaking into the ground, a dark patch of red among the carpet’s rose-colored strands. The droplets disappear under a rain of blood as my magic leaps from my body.

The shadows slither like a living snake, snapping hungrily on the man’s throat. I feel how thrilled they are to have the chance to feed, drain the man’s life as his blood soaks the front of their shirt, and chokes out of his mouth in pink bubbles. Shoving my blades against theirs, causing the shadows to rip the winged one’s throat. It hisses in pleasure, wrapping around my shoulders. The angel falls to its knees, weakly clawing at their throat. I watch the light leave the angels eyes; I feel nothing but pity for the pitiful creature.

I give it little space in my mind, letting my thoughts turn blank. I fight like I have been trained too. Placing precise cuts into their armored bodies, spilling their organs and blood flow like rivers upon the smooth floor, staining the carpet. More come in from the adjoined pathways, only to join their fallen comrades.

I move in sync with my magic, using it just as much as I did my blades. It was a snake one moment, snapping and slithering across my body. Leaving a trail of decay everywhere it touches the enemy. The next moment it was smoke, filling the lungs of two winged ones trying to attack me with my back turned. Another moment, it was a set of five tendrils around my feet, forcing everyone a few feet back, giving me room to breathe.

An arrow bolt tears through the air and scar the grand passageway walls leading to my destination. Father’s guards test my body and my resolve, but all it takes is to think of her. My little chosen, kneeling scared before Father, and my vision turns red.

Taking a hit to my left forearm and another to my right thigh, I roar in pain and rage. Darkness oozes from the wounds, hissing, and bubbling like acid as it falls into a puddle of angle blood. Fighting through the searing agony, a dozen more of Father’s pathetic army lay mutilated by my blades.

He had created me to be a weapon, trained me to be the ultimate killer, the crown jewel of his half-god army he made. I am second only to my half-dragon brother. His fatal mistake was to not put me down himself when he had the chance.

Limping and growling, I continue to cut down by one who stands in my way. Each strike felling, and dismembering, hungrily gnawing into their soft tissues and shattering bone. My bare feet making the familiar sick slapping and sucking as I tread through blood, organs, and other bodily fluids. The last guard falls to the floor with a dull wet thud from my blade, his tattered hood revealing his paling face. Breath hisses from his lungs, and the weakened soul leaves his black eyes.

I drop my khopeshes, my magic turns into a snake. It craves for life satisfied for the moment. Its pleasure fills my mind and briefly dulls the pain, before sinking back into my body where it curls up like a sleeping lion.

My left arm feels like lead, and my right leg screams with every step I take. None of that was going to stop me, though; I have to get to her. I’m so close to saving her. My shoulder pushes into the heavy stone door, forcing it open. Heat blasts against my bare face and chest created by A ring of Laval surrounds the circular rooms outside. Four columns line the path to the throne, each holding up the high vaulted ceiling and a blue flaming torch. Father stands by his throne made of bone and hard stone. The gruesome seat elevated on a five-step platform. Father himself looked like his usual terrifying self. His full-length cloak’s black and gold hood pulled low to cover his hard black eye that can see into anyone’s soul. His fingerless gloved hands grip the long pole of his reaper’s scythe. The curved edge curling around the bowed neck of my chosen. She kneels on the step before Father, her thin wrists tied behind her back.

Her slender body seems so small compared to the god that stands above her; it’s almost like its a sick joke—one of those jokes that no one laughs at but the person who told it. I remember how still she was as if she had given up all hope that I would reach her in time. Her hair, the same long flowing locks that I had spent hours braiding just because she liked how my hands felt, now was pulled over one shoulder. The scythe’s edge pressed against her exposed skin. A bright light shines from where to two touches, the blade thirsting over her very soul. The image was burned into my mind forever.

Father looks up at me, and I watch his bloody lips pull back into a victorious smile, revealing his sharpened teeth. He knows I’ve lost, and there’s nothing I could do to stop him. I was so close, but it wasn’t enough. He watches me as he lifts the blade a few inches then lets it drop on my loved one.

The world freezes as the sun explodes, filling the room with one last burst of her light. I feel it wrap around my body like a warm blanket, cradling me one last time. A sob chokes my throat as she whispers my name, gifting me with her sweet voice one more time. How we meet, our life together, when we could’ve been, flashes through my mind. I cling onto the future that was stolen from me. Then it’s gone, leaving frozen to the bone as her warmth goes beyond my reach.

My heart shatters in my chest as I feel the exact moment Father destroys her soul. I feel the bond we had been nurturing between us snap like a rubber band and rips at my heart. My knees cave under my weight, crashing into the unforgiving floor. I feel my soul get ripped apart. A piece of it dying with the one I loved. I scream, as all the strength leaves my body. My head cradles in my hands as I sob her name.

“Rhyne,” a silky voice calls my name, the voice of a snake, of a liar. A hand touches my head, and I slap it away. my magic lashing out and plunging the room into pitch blackness. “Come on, my son, my soldato della morte. it is not befitting of a prince to cry like this over a mere mortal soul.”

I feel a tug in my gut as my magic is pulled from me, the edges of the room coming back into view until all of the shadows have been absorbed by the king.

“she wasn’t just a mere mortal,” I growl weakly, feeling my magic completely drained from my body for the moment. “She was my chosen, given to me by the fates. ”

“the creature was holding you back,” the king snapped. “Love makes you weak; you’re stronger without her.” His tone changes as he kneels in front of me, placing his hand under my chin. “My son, look at how powerful you’ve become. yYou my pride, are so much stronger than your sibling. Imagine what we could achieve together. We could finally make that goddess of life, Caphire, pay for forcing us down here. She plans to head over her throne to her youngest son when he finds his chosen. That child will be nothing more than a boy king. You, my soldato della morte, have proven today what you are capable of. with you, by my side, it will be simple to get our revenge.”

“You’re revenge, Father.” I bit out, trying to pull my head from his hands, but he tightened his grip on my jaw. “I want nothing to do with your plans, the crown, or my powers.”

“Your powers are a gift!”

“My powers lead to nothing but death!”

“Death is a gift, my son.” He grits out. “death leads to strength, for each death means those who live are stronger. If there was no death, then there would be no strength in the world. The girl made you weak; she caused you to lose who you were in a fantasy she was creating. I saved you from that lie.”

“No!” I shout, stopping him from saying whatever lie he had made up to make him look like he was just being a good father. “You were scared that I would turn against you. That I would figure out that I don’t have to be what you created me to be. It is too late for that. If death is what you want, then death, you shall be.” I feel my magic spark back to life, adding a promise that at the time and still to this day, I never truly understood. The words were given to me by the fates and sealed me to my path. “I revoke your right to a name, for Death is all I shall call you. You are no longer my father, for it is a mere title to you. You are a mockery of the name Father and so shall it mock you in return. and I, Son of Death king of the underworld, shall never let your plans come to volition.”

I have the strength to stand, knocking his hand to the side, “I, the crowned prince of the damned throne and cursed crown, shall dethrone you and cast you in the darkness you so crave. For as long as I live, your time on the throne shall come to a bloody end.” I feel a smile pull at my lips as my hair, the only part of my body that hasn’t been corrupted yet, glows with moonlight. “I am Queen Selene, goddess of the moons, son. and She is my only parent.”

the shadows shake in fear around the room, as my father’s piercing burns into me. Growl rumbling from him as he grits his teeth. “you dare speak to a god like that? You, my pride, are just as replaceable as an impure jewel .you are nothing more than an ungrateful mongrel! that moon goddess was no queen, you saw how easily I destroyed her boy. it appears as if you need to lesson in discipline.”

After that, we fought, it was less of a fight and more of me getting beaten. Death didn’t stop when I was on the ground, nor did he listen when I begged him for mercy. Death wanted to break any resistance I had against him that night. He didn’t stop until the consciousness had long since left my body. I was bedridden for a week afterward.

I’m ashamed to say for a long time he had, I had been broken. Instead of thinking of revenge or dethroning him, I let myself get lost in the pain of losing my chosen, my Meka. I was down and beaten for a long time. However, it might have been the pain, or maybe the fact I took one too many blows to the head, but I could swear there was a speck of fear that sparked to life deep in his eyes.

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