This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The eyes never lie even when the mouth will oblige.
Xenia was unsure of her mistrust in the boy. She watched as the little bastard’s pale eyes darkened, resting on her son’s face. Clenching her fists, she inhaled sharply. Her husband stood next to her, instinct, no doubt, telling him to calm her. His hand brushed her arm, slowly making its way to hers. Her nails dug into her skin, nearly drawing blood. Leifius was the only one who could have soothed her in that moment. His steady hand clasped hers just soon enough to stop her from tearing the king of Creet’s face to shreds.
As soon as Leifius’ hand touched hers, Xenia remembered where she was. She took in the brightly colored tapestries that hung from ceiling to floor as if they were attempting to hide the ancient stone masonry—tapestries which used to mute the cold, desolate feeling but now simply seemed saturated by it. She had never liked the haunted aura of Castle Doriell. The Order had taught her to read the magic that had coursed through a structure, understand its past... Xenia did not like what she read within these walls.
Glancing about her, beyond the tapestries, she was suddenly aware of the hundreds of other bodies languishing about the feasting hall, which was lined with oaken tables and an assortment of silver and pewter place settings. The servants were waiting patiently at the kitchen doors to serve the food, but no one in the hall seemed to notice their presence. None of the guests of the regent and king seemed overtly dangerous, but the castle itself and the one who dwelt there presented a greater threat.
Xenia’s eyes darted from face to face until she found her son. Brudais stood beside his father, his posture erect and half his straggly hair pulled back into a loose bun. His eyes were intent on the regent and king, the former speaking jovially to Leifius.
“We are delighted that your family was able to attend, commander,” Regent Cavison said to Leifius, a hand placed on her husband’s shoulder. “I might ask that they come to court more often.”
“I would be more than happy to oblige,” he replied, glancing over as Xenia tightened her grip on his hand, “but the villa you’ve granted us should not go to waste.”
The boy-king at his side was tapping his foot impatiently. The finely sewn coat of purple silk and the satin surcoat that he wore gave him the appearance of royalty, but his demeanor did nothing to complement it. Cavison whispered something in his ear and he walked away with a curt bow and an, “Excuse me.”
When he was out of earshot, Cavison sighed. “I apologize for Tarison’s behavior; he is a restless boy. But your young Brudais here seems a fitting match. I wonder how they would get along. My nephew could benefit from having such esteemed friends.”
Xenia gazed down at her son, whose stance stiffened at the suggestion. Friends with the king—an honor, no doubt. Except that this boy-king wished her son ill, she was sure of it, but there was only one way to know if her intuition spoke the truth.
Xenia picked up the wooden rod and stirred the pot furiously. As she did, little flecks of the light green liquid within splashed onto the stone floor, bubbling up and then sizzling into wisps of steam.
She sat at the center of the room of the quiet villa, the windows of the solar shut so that no light might disturb her. All manner of odd shaped bottles surrounded her, while a pot sat in a bed of hot coals before her. The solar was her sanctuary when she needed a moment from her family, her workplace when it became necessary. She had not called this kind of magic to her in some years, so she read carefully from a worn piece of parchment at her feet.
Her gaze shifted from the parchment to the pot, waiting impatiently for the liquid to cool as the instructions dictated.
The eyes never lie. It was a phrase that kept rolling through Xenia’s mind. All her thoughts came back to Tarison’s cold, dark gaze. It only made her more impatient for her potion to cool to the proper degree, but magic was not something that a human trifled with idly. If one toyed with it, it would pay them back tenfold.
She dipped the ladle into the pot, a messy trickle of green liquid streaming down its length as she brought it back up, and touched the potion to her lips. She knew it was too early to drink it, but... Xenia tipped it back and gulped down the entire ladle of potion.
Nothing happened. She cursed her impatience. Perhaps it had only needed a few more—Her vision swerved and spun, and she felt a painful heat filling her skull. For several moments, Xenia was completely at the mercy of the magic within her, and she fought against the madness it threatened to unleash before she was consumed by it.
Then, the spinning came to an abrupt halt, and Xenia was trapped within her own mind. She stopped trying to get out--this was exactly where she needed to be.
She felt the heat dissipate from her head as a gentle warmth glided gracefully up from her toes, enveloping her extremities before it rose to the base of her skull. There it sat, the magic she had called, poised and waiting to bring her on the journey to another time. Catching her intention, Xenia’s mind began to spin again, but this time it wasn’t fast or painful. It simply was.
Xenia could pick up little things here and there: a boy falling off a fountain, a horse refusing to budge, laughter echoing against stone. None of it meant anything. She wanted to know why; she wanted to know when.
The magic was indignant to her pique. It led her slowly through the lands of the imminent without any explanation. She was about to release it out of pure frustration when a little light bobbed in front of her. She knew that this must be what she sought. She grabbed for it, and the vision revealed itself like a waterfall of images.
Brudais knelt before Regent Cavison, accepting the post of Commander of the Royal Military. Tarison sat the throne, his expression neutral but his eyes filled with abhorrence.
Brudais knelt before the corpse of Cavison in the regent’s quarters, blood pooled around him. Tarison was in the background, his expression grim while his eyes were alight with mirth.
Brudais in full military dress, not trying to hide his hatred, knelt before Tarison, and the king’s eyes were the most jovial Xenia had ever seen them.
Brudais knelt before Tarison in a shroud of mist, sword in hand and blood pouring from a wound in his neck, gasping for life. Tarison’s eyes swam in ecstasy.
Xenia cried out. She Saw her son standing over her, but not her son of fifteen years—but rather her son of thirty-five. His sand-colored hair hung to his shoulders. His sharp blue eyes were fierce, and his muscles were slick with sweat. He was bare to the waist, so she could see the tattoo that wound its way down his entire left arm, beginning at the shoulder and ending at each knuckle. With every movement, the mark seemed to slither like a creeping vine. In each hand he held a bastard sword, but his ferocious expression did nothing to sway the natural instinct his mother had to grab at the gaping neck wound that was gushing blood. Xenia had seen her son’s future, and she would not have it be so.
Xenia blinked and Brudais stood before her, thin and gangly, the boy she knew, but just below his practice jerkin there was a bleeding gash on the side of his thigh. It had already saturated part of his trousers.
He seemed to realize that Xenia’s magic had left her, because he put up a hand and said, “Mother, I know this looks bad—”
“LEIFIUS!” Xenia shrieked, placing a hand on the wound and grabbing for a cloth next to the pot.
“—it doesn’t even sting all that much—”
“How long have you been standing there?” Xenia asked, her voice a few octaves lower now that she had the bleeding under control.
“Not very long,” Brudais said, looking anywhere but at his mother.
“Why didn’t you rouse me?”
“You were Seeing. It looked important.”
It was, she thought, but only if her son lived long enough for it to come true. She sent up a prayer that her Sight would not pass into being.
As she wrapped Brudais’ leg in the spare cloth, the door to the solar opened and Leifius entered, looking stricken.
“What have you done to my son?” Xenia demanded.
“I was teaching him the importance of scars,” said Leifius, placing a hand on his son’s shoulder. “A warrior should always have scars. Reminds him why he’s fighting. Make sure you leave him one, my love.”
Xenia’s eyes narrowed in her husband’s direction. “I’ll leave you one if you ever do this again. Now let me heal him!”
Leifius held up his hands in surrender. Xenia, calming herself, mumbled spellverse under her breath. The magic filled her body, warming her to her very core. She touched Brudais’ wound, and willed the bleeding to stop, willed the skin to seal itself, and willed—gods be good—a scar to form.
When she removed the cloth, Brudais grasped both sides of the long cut in his trousers, gazing at his new scar in awe. With a grin, he turned around to show his father. Xenia rolled her eyes at the pair of them: the legend and his legacy.
As they took their leave of Xenia, she kept remembering her son at thirty-five, the blood gushing from his neck... but mostly, it was Tarison’s eyes. That look of triumph and delight over the gruesome death of her son. Those eyes that never lie.
Jessie: I wrote a review on fanfiction but I thought it would be fitting to write on on here too :) This story was honestly stunning. I am a budding writer myself and to read this- to FEEL this- reminded me of why I am honoured to have this passion and drive for a craft that is just so raw and beautiful.
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?
MegaRogueLegend666: I love this story so much. It's impossible to describe my excitement with each new chapter in words. The author has such a good writing style, very good descriptions of the fighting and character descriptions/emotions. the plot is also amazing! This fanfic could be a side anime show or novel ......
Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
RubyScars: I absolutely love your story! It killed me when I finished, I read it all at once and then it stopped at the epic cliffhanger! Uggggggh. But, that said, it just means that you have done such a lovely job. I am so in love with your complicated characters, and even the ones I didn't like you slowl...
PurpleInkling: Hippocrite is spelt hypocrite.Also it is an awesome story! A good one after so long. I was hoping someone would write a good fanficiton playing off what Ron said at the station. You are doing a remarkable job. It would have been interesting if Albus had also ended up in Ravenclaw though that mig...
Toria Danielle: I must congratulate Erin Swan on completing such a beautiful work. The Rising Sun is well rounded and leaves nothing to be wanted. ALL of the characters and their development are beautifully written. The plot is extremely well thought out. Creating a whole different type of universe is difficult ...
Carolyn Hahn-Re: I really liked this story! The writing was well done, and the plot was suspenseful. I couldn't stop reading chapter after chapter, on the edge of my seat! The characters were well developed, and true to form. Thank you so much for this wonderful read.
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."