Chapter One - Conception
20 Years Earlier
Kyla strode into the throne room, a sly smirk gracing her features as she absorbed the sight of the Pirikan Queen.
The Queen’s beauty was as ethereal and limitless as starlight, yet as forbidding and threatening as a timeless vacuum. Those intense, violent, ruby eyes saw as much as a newborn, fresh in their infancy, yet told a thousand ageless tales. A flame burned within them, reflecting her internal fury and anguish and, at the same time, glinted with a triumphant ferocity, narrowed slightly, and bore down with potency and focus upon her subject; rimmed with black eyeliner, they gave her a reptilian appearance.
There was a deep sadness there, hidden in the black pits of her pupils - a melancholy, bubbling away, disguised just beneath the surface.
The prison world of Kólasi emitted a grimy, burned-orange light of dusk, its dull, bronzed effect highlighting The Queen’s chalk-white skin, making it appear tanned, disguising the vampiric reality of her complexion. Without blemish, she glimmered with vigour and juvenile energy. Her cheekbones, jawline, and nose had been carved in such a sharp, delicate, and symmetrical manner it was like they’d been carved by the gods themselves, as little more than a vanity project.
While in her presence, Kyla was not oblivious to the aura the Queen emanated; one of undiluted power, hatred, and desire. Truth be told, it made beings lesser than Kyla want to run and hide. Of course, she herself did not, and would never betray such a desire.
The Queen’s lips - full, plump, and blood-red - were pursed, the ghost of a satisfied smile played on them. Adorned on her head was a magnificent crown, black as night. At the front, five uniform spikes protruded vertically, so sharp that even to graze one would result in certain laceration. At the base of each spike was a glowing, fine, crimson gem.
In a high, compact ponytail in which not a single stray hair escaped, her effervescent, gleaming, platinum-blond hair shone against the evening light. It swished gently, following each movement of her head. She stood tall and imposing beside her throne of obsidian (a chair both beautiful and disturbing; intricately carved and interspersed with veins of red; the top of its back was bedecked with five barbarous prongs). Her metallic, white dress shimmered and revealed strong, toned limbs. In spite of all the many battles the Queen had partaken in, not a single scar appeared on her body. A curious, ornate dagger sat on the arm of her throne: the blade was black with lines of gold passing through and the hilt was red. In her right hand, she held an anemone, which she fidgeted with, flipping it between her fingers.
Hanging from the ceiling above the throne was a curious emblem - a crucifix carved from black rock entangled by a gleaming snake of red metal with shining emeralds for eyes. The same emblem decorated the various banners around the throne room.
Kyla reached the Queen’s left side. Titus, the Queen’s hulking, decaying brute of a bodyguard who’d been her constant companion since her ascension to the throne 20 years prior, stood to the Queen’s right. His unfocused gaze strayed off into the distance.
‘This plan is fraught with perils, my dear,’ Kyla said, tearing her mind away from the picture of beauty before her and refocusing on the task at hand.
‘Yes, I’m well aware of the risks we must now overcome,’ she responded - without meeting Kyla’s gaze - in a soft, lyrical voice. She sank into her throne; the impact was immediate: her twenty-four Lozzha Nakh warrior bodyguards moved into a tighter circle around them, drawing in close like a noose. ’Playing both sides typically is rather a dangerous game. However, I see no other way that we can accomplish the task of bringing such a creature as the Summoner into being.’ She paused long enough to sprout a smirk of her own. ’Need I remind you how your efforts to achieve the same goal went?’
Kyla’s smile vanished, but she kept her head. ’That brings me to my next question. Why would you want this accomplished? The Summoner could destroy us all.’
The Queen lifted her finger to her chin. ’You’re quite correct. However, you need to remember what we hope to achieve; the Summoner is our ticket to freedom. To domination. This way, not only can we manufacture the process, we can control it. We can guide the… creature its entire upbringing. Brainwash it, if you will, to our ways.’
At this point, the other person in the room, Kyla’s son Vasilios, cleared his throat. He was a tall, stocky man with mahogany hair slicked back and a beard flecked with white as though he’d been out in snow. Having that moment returned from Earth, he was dressed in a sharp black suit and military boots - the latter polished to a gleam.
Kyla’s heart swelled at the mere sight of him. In all the thousands of years she’d spent in this universe, there’d never been a creature who’d meant a thing to her, until the glorious day she birthed her pride and joy.
‘There’s still no guarantee it will work,’ Vasilios said, his voice dull and toneless. ‘It failed when you and Jasper tried this with me, mother - she’s right about that. Who’s to say I shall succeed?’
The Queen’s head snapped towards him, the same way a viper’s would towards a mouse. ‘Trust me,’ she growled. ’It will work. Do not presume to doubt me. I am not your mother - I will not stand your insubordination.’ She grinned. ’You’ll succeed. There’s always a first time for everything, after all.
’In any event, I have spent countless years researching, something your parents neglected to do. Whilst I know it’s far beyond your intelligence to comprehend, the science, and the magic, checks out. You’ll see. Your hesitation merely confirms my theory - you just want a way out.’
The Queen stood again, the icy expression returning to her. She stepped over to Vasilios and began circling him.
Her voice dripped with feigned softness. ’You think the years of mundanity are beneath you. You think you’re meant for greater things. Unfortunately - for you, anyway - you’re not as impressive as you think. You had your chance and, regrettably, the universe saw fit to decide that you were not… sufficient.’ She rested her chin on his shoulder. ’This is your chance. You can be part of something monumental. Do this, and your place by my side when we rid ourselves of Jasper is guaranteed.’ She strode back to her throne. Kyla wore a thunderous expression.
‘Alternatively,’ a cruel smile danced on to The Queen’s lips. She stepped away and faced Vasilios, her gaze fixed on those two dark, soulless pits. ‘You can continue to question me, an act which I will have no choice but to perceive as you opposing me, and die. Here and now.’
Her Lozzha Nakh took a menacing step forward at these words, tightening their circle further. Titus placed his hand on the dagger at his waist.
Fear accelerating her steps, Kyla strode forward and shielded her son from the Queen. ’You will not harm him. You will not leave this room alive if you even attempt to do so.’
The Queen’s smile widened. Her red eyes flamed, drinking in the hatred and the rage manifesting in her ally.
Vasilios was unmoved. No emotion registered on his sharp features as he stepped out from behind Kyla and stood beside her. ‘Relax, mother, she won’t harm me. She cannot achieve her goal without me. Why would she kill her only hope? It’s an empty threat.’
The Queen laughed. Hard, but mirthless. ‘That’s funny, darling. I had no idea you had any comic value to offer this conversation.’ Her features hardened. ’Once again, your inflated sense of self-worth has blinded you to, and far exceeded, your actual value. Don’t get it twisted - you are my easiest option. Not my sole option. Make your choice - live, or die.’
There was a long silence during which the Queen lost interest and stared out of the window, twiddling the anemone, while Kyla fumed. Still, Vasilios showed no emotion.
‘Very well, my Queen. I apologise.’ He bowed low, drawing a twitchy eyebrow from the Queen, who was unable to discern if this action was sincere. ‘I will proceed as planned,’ he said as he straightened himself.
Kyla glared at The Queen. Just give me a reason to tear your throat out, you heartless bitch.
The Queen smiled at Vasilios. ’Good. It will be worth it in the end. Go, and don’t fail me.’
Vasilios turned on his heel and strode from the throne room. As Kyla watched him leave, she realised she couldn’t stand the thought of him being taken from her, whatever form that took. It was difficult enough allowing him to go and live among humans, never mind losing him entirely.
One day, her son would not have to suffer such ignominy. First his father, now this hellspawn? It was more than she could stand. But, she must stand it. For now.
‘This is promising, yes,’ Kyla said, approaching the throne, fighting to keep the shaking from her voice; it would merely serve to feed the Queen, whose eyes indeed glinted with fervour. The Lozzha Nakh inched closer. Titus half unsheathed his dagger. They couldn’t harm her much; all the same, she got the message and stopped her advance.
’But don’t you dare humiliate my flesh and blood in any circumstances, or I swear to you and whatever god you believe in, you will pay.’
The Queen smiled yet again, meeting her gaze. ’Darling, I am the god I believe in. Besides… my faithful,’ she gestured around the room, ‘will have their weapons pinning you to the ground before you can blink. Even if they can’t kill you, they do possess the ability to tear you limb from limb.’ She rose and moved to the window overlooking the Kólasi wasteland behind her fortress, turning her back to Kyla. When she continued speaking, her voice had softened again, though was tinged with hostility.
’Watch yourself, or you’ll go the same way as Jasper. You two are part of the old guard… your time is running out and I am more than happy to watch as you crumble to dust. The way I see it, you have two choices, just as I afforded your son - embrace and thrive with the new… or decay with the old. I don’t particularly care which.’
As Kyla turned to leave, the Queen dropped the anemone to the floor and crushed it beneath her heel.