Lost in Love
War. The frozen plane of Hestaesia was consumed by it. They say there was once a time when faerie and demon were one, but anyone with any recollection of that fact had long since turned to dust. The plane was split in two.
Scholars would say it started with ‘The Great War’: the very first conflict that made it onto parchment.
Tensions had grown to breaking point between the two factions and the faeries’ greed had overwhelmed them. Demon villages had been pillaged, raped and burnt to the ground. Children were orphaned. Bodies hung from trees throughout the kingdom.
Demons were a proud race and they respected the hierarchy of royalty unquestioningly. It had been their downfall. Though they fought valiantly, their physical might had not been enough to best the wily majicks of the faerie people.
The head of the demon king had been sliced clean from his shoulders and the entire populace felt the pain as if it had been their own. When the king fell, his people swiftly followed.
The faerie king, enthralled by his victory, knew nothing of the demon maiden clambering desperately from a dusty cupboard, the dirt on her face streaked with tears.
The demon king had hidden her, sensing his imminent demise.
Though she had pleaded with him not to leave, he had dismissed her with sorrow in his expression, instead choosing to place a long kiss against her mouth before wedging the cabinet shut.
Through the wooden door, the proud king had begged her to remain hidden until she was certain she was safe. He had told her he loved her and then he had gone – heroically facing his fate.
With their king dead, the demons stopped fighting. Their flame had been extinguished and the first of many wars was lost.
All their worldly possessions were stolen from them or burnt to cinder. They shrank back, locked out in the cold by the mighty walls surrounding the proud faerie capital – Awrelwood.
There, the faerie king sat in his bejewelled throne room, sharing his newfound riches with his people. As fine fabric, delicious delicacies and exotic paintings flooded the city, the plight of the demon people was quickly forgotten. Those who had disagreed with the king’s methods had been easily silenced, won over with elaborate bribes.
Whilst the faeries revelled, the demons wallowed. Disease ran rampant through the crowded slums of their new home, Banesteppe.
Like wounded dogs, they hid in the shadows lamenting their fate, unaware of the small spark of hope that was blooming within the womb of the pregnant demon maiden.
* * *
Three decades passed...
“You summoned me, Brother?” Cirro Goldwyrm approached the throne with his head bowed. He swept the heavy, elaborately decorated velvet coat he wore behind him and knelt before the king.
King Lazuli, leader of the faeries, had his back turned, gazing out at the dying sunset. He compulsively ran his hand over his fair, neatly trimmed facial hair, deep in thought.
“The demons grow restless. I fear their rebellion is only growing in momentum.”
“You have guards posted at every corner. There are nightly raids on drinking establishments and innocent dwellings... You’ve made quite a reputation for yourself amongst the demon populace, Lazuli. What outcome were you hoping for?” Cirro shook his head, his brow creased with concern.
They had not seen one another for many months. Cirro was curious to see if the rumours of his brother’s madness held any truth. He got to his feet, quietly appraising his brother.
Lazuli span on his heel. “For submission! They threaten all we have, all we know. Do you wish for an uprising?”
“Of course not.” Cirro glared, holding his brother’s molten gaze. “I wish for a safe and happy life for my daughter. For everyone’s daughters. I believe the demon king–”
“He is not a king!” Lazuli roared, spittle flying from his mouth like venom. His large golden wings fluttered ominously.
“Apologies, Brother. I did not mean–” Cirro dipped his head.
“I know. The nights... They are long and filled with worry in my household at present. My nerves are frayed.” The king sighed, running his palm over his face.
“I understand.” Cirro paused. “But you called me here for my counsel. Please, I believe the demons only want equality.”
“Equality.” Lazuli snorted. “And where, pray tell, would we find the funds for that? We’re barely keeping the economy afloat as it is.”
“War is expensive, Lazuli. More expensive than a potential compromise.”
“Ah, but war is easy. War is simple.”
“The demons will fight, you know this as well as I do. Tennul Dawnoaken is of royal blood; it has been confirmed by our scouts and inside operations. If we go to war with them, they will fight for him.”
“Demons...” The king’s voice dripped with contempt. “Like cockroaches they continue to spawn. We were assured the last of the royal bloodline had been terminated. Our father–”
“Our father clearly missed something,” Cirro interrupted. “Tennul is not mated as far as we can tell, so at least we have that on our side. He may be the very last living link.”
“Then we need to act fast, before the beast gets to rutting on anything.” Lazuli sneered with disgust.
“Tennul does not want war. The demons only want basic rights: medicine, a regular supply of fresh produce and water, the right to practise majicka–”
“Never! Those foul creatures would taint the very core values of majicka. I doubt their dense brains could even master the skill at all,” the king shouted.
“Forgive me, but–”
“How exactly have you become privy to all of this insider information about the demon prerogative, Brother?” Lazuli narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
“Genevieve and I have held counsel of our own with the demon kind. We’ve been to the slums. We’ve spoken with the people... The innocent people.”
“Cirro.” The king paused, pinning his brother with a fiery gaze. “Where does your loyalty lie?”
“With you. Always with you, Lazuli – you know this. Please do not mistake my actions as a lack of loyalty to you. I can promise you, it’s the exact opposite.” He bowed his head, casting his eyes away.
“Explain,” the king barked.
“I simply believe we can address the issue, this uprising, without bloodshed. War is an expense we cannot afford. As you rightly said, the funds are dwindling.”
Lazuli turned his back, but waved a hand in the air, silently allowing his brother to continue.
“The demon king has actively made his presence known.”
“A careless move,” the king grated.
“No – a bold one, Lazuli.” Cirro shook his head. “Don’t you see? The demons have given away their biggest secret. Their king has made himself known to us and they do not fear the outcome. I genuinely believe Tennul wants a peaceful compromise, but believe me... He is clearly confident that he will win if it comes to war.”
“A valid point. Maybe it’s time to take a leaf from the Goldwyrm family history book,” the king muttered thoughtfully. “Cut the head from the snake, as it were.”
“And if two more replace it?” Cirro argued. “Have you learnt nothing from ages past?”
“I’ve learnt from our father’s mistakes. Every last drop of royal demon blood will be spilt. I will burn the whole damn city to the ground to ensure it!” Lazuli shouted and bright flames of majick sparked to life in his palms.
“No Brother, that’s not what I–” Cirro stammered.
“Your counsel is no longer required, Cirro. As always, you have helped me see a clear path of action.” Lazuli turned and smiled with an unnerving glint in his eye.
“Guards? My dear brother is no longer required here. Please ensure he has a safe journey home.”
Two guards strode forward to Cirro’s side. The faerie sighed heavily, not fighting against his brother’s will. He knew the man well enough to know it was a pointless endeavour.
As Lazuli turned his back once more to gaze out at a fiery sky, Cirro allowed his brother’s guards to escort him away.
“Oh, and one last thing, Cirro.”
“You and your dear wife would do well to stay out of demon business. It casts doubt over your loyalties. I don’t like doubting my own brother,” he said, a menacing tone creeping into his voice.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Cirro bowed his head defeatedly.
The heavy golden throne room door creaked as it was heaved open. The king’s brother was unceremoniously thrown out into a cold, dark corridor.