~~It began in the land of Askabar, deep in the gray-stone castle
of the young King Garrid Diedrich The Sixth. Past the hallway
lined with thirty rooms, and to the great iron door. Past the
iron door and down the hostile stone steps that went down
underground four hundred meters or more, and ended at another
iron door. Through the last iron door into
Askabar's most famous dungeon, The King's Punishment. Past a pair of guards and past the torture chamber. Through the hallways filled with dozens of doors that held the most dangerous thieves, traitors, murderers, war prisoners, and falsely accused innocents. To the biggest and very last cell at the very end of the dungeon, guarded by double the guards than the other cells. To the cell occupied by a noble family charged with high treason. In the cell of snakes.
A woman of twenty four years old laid gasping and sweating on the stone floor, her husband and seven year old son outside the cell, waiting for the women's work to be done. A wet-nurse was holding the woman's hand, telling her to breath, push, and to try not to scream. The woman did her best, but failed and let out a cry. At that same moment she heard a baby crying. The Raven-Black haired, pale skinned, black eyed woman smiled when she realized it was all over, and the wet-nurse picked up the baby.
"It is a she!" The wet nurse cried out. The mother smiled even more with delight, and heard her son groan outside the cell in dismay. The wet-nurse wrapped the girl in blankets and held her out to her mother.
At that moment, a black cobra jumped from the darkness of a corner of the cell and landed on the baby girl. She screamed at the same time the wet-nurse and mother did and the wet-nurse beat the snake with a stick that the family was given to beat off the many hiding snakes in the cell. The cobra died and fell off the baby, but the mother saw the bite on her daughter's back that the cobra left.
The husband and son ran into the room when they heard the commotion just as the mother burst into wails. The wet-nurse immediately wrapped the girl in blankets and tended to her wound, though she was sure it was too late. The red bump swelled and the baby girl cried louder and louder. The nurse prayed.
An hour later the baby lapsed into a deep sleep, and the family
knew she was going to die. Or so they thought.
A few minutes later the baby coughed and fire came out of her mouth. They all stared in shock as she started screaming like she was in agony. Her father hurried to pick her up and pat her back, foolishly thinking she had a cramp. He caught a glimpse of her back and nearly dropped her. Down the babies back was a very-noticeable fresh scar. And they formed a long picture down the poor girls back, the picture of a snake. The snake image had its mouth open with its teeth showing and its forked tongue sticking out. The tongue ended at the back of her right shoulder, where the bite should have been. It wasn't, it disappeared as if it had never been there.
"What are you staring at?" The mother asked.
He gave her the baby and pointed to his daughter's back. The woman gasped, not with shock, but with delight.
There were legends that a powerful wizard once dwelled in that very cell, a wizard imprisoned for treason. He had the power to turn into a dragon and breathe out fire. When he was imprisoned, he tried to turn into a dragon to escape. But something went terribly wrong. Instead, he turned into a venomous snake and was never able to change back into human form. The current king scorned the wizard and filled the cell with other snakes, venomous and non-venomous to keep the wizard "uncivilized company." It later became a cell for some of the most dangerous criminals, mainly magic-makers who have committed high treason. Such as the noble family in the cell presently. But the wizard once wrote a message in snake form, to the king. It went,
Hello Garrid the Fourth,
It is within my honor to tell you that you have gotten rid of me, but not my magic. For it still lives within me, snake form or not. My venom carries my magic, and whoever I decide to bite will be a mighty sorceress.
Yes, sorceress, not sorcerer. The person I will bite, I have decided, will be a woman.
For I have realized, though frail-looking, woman can be ten times as cunning and as a man ever could. The woman I choose might be evil, as evil as you could ever dream possible. Or she could choose the right crossroads as I have never done and use her powers for the good, and, perhaps, save the empire. It will be her choice.
I will bite her on the back her right shoulder, and a scar with the image of a snake about to strike. She will be born in a traitorous noble family. She will have similar powers as I, maybe even stronger. The only powers I regret she will not have, is the power to change into a mighty dragon. The ability I was famous for. One new ability she will have, however, is the ability to control all four elements. Earth, water, air, and her most powerful element, fire. As you can see, if she chooses the wrong, which she most likely will, she will be highly lethal.
You get out of this luckily, King Garrid. As does King Garrid the fifth, he will die before he could fully take care of this problem. It will be his son, The young King Garrid the Sixth that will deal with the threat, or welcome its help.
Farewell King, I promise you that you shall never see me again, even if you come to look for me to ask about this letter. Though, even then, in my snake form, I will not be able to answer any questions.
I have already told you too much, and, being evil as I am, I did not want to you know all of this. But it is already done, and my tail is too tired to write more. Sincerely,
And if the duchess was correct, her daughter was her key to
controlling the empire. Sarpe chose her to carry his
"Do you know what this means?" She asked her husband.
"We will never be able to marry her." The duke of the Adalmund houses said.
The Duchess slapped her forehead.
Her husband chuckled, "Of course I know what it means, my dear."
"What are you planning to name her, dear?"
"Yilana." She said.
"A wonderful name." He replied.
The duke turned to the wet nurse, who was in the shadows of the cell, listening intently. "We will no longer be needing your services." He informed her, assuming she was ignorant about what happened to his daughter. "You may keep your payment, and report to the king and the other noble family's that the birth went perfectly." Not that they would care, he thought. "My wife needs rest." This final sentence dismissed the nurse; she nodded and swiftly walked out of the cell.
The wet-nurse was not as ignorant as duke Adalmund thought. The first thing she did was report the happenings to king Garrid. At the time, Garrid was young and foolish. He was only nineteen years old. He shrugged off the mad nurse. But his advisers made sure the government would keep an eye on the Adalmund's.
Six years later…
The weather was beautiful that morning. There were no clouds in
the blue sky, and the weather was warm. The Adalmund's, who where
recently released from prison three years ago, spent the day
outside to enjoy the weather.
Six year old Yilana ran through the flower garden, past the red and violet rosebushes. Her brother, Landon, who was now twelve years old, was hiding behind a rosebush. Yilana ran past him, and he jumped out of his hiding place. She squealed and ran faster as Landon chased her. Out of the garden Yilana went to the iron chairs where her mother and father where sitting and she threw herself onto her father's lap. "Save me!" She yelped, giggling gleefully.
The Duke and Duchess of the Adalmund houses, Jacob and Izadel Adalmund, where involved in an important discussion when they were interrupted. Izadel scowled at her son when he appeared, "Landon Adalmund, you are here playing and wasting your time. Have you practiced your archery and sword today?"
"Yes mother." Landon told her. He brushed his black hair out of his face. Both he and Yilana had inherited their mothers jet black hair, but his features where more like his black haired, brown eyed father. Yilana had her mother's angular features, and both children had their father's big brown eyes. The whole family had vampire-like paleness. That is how you identified an Adalmund those days, by noticing how pale they were.
"Master Dolson has written a letter to me and I understood that you are below your level?
"Mother, I defeat all his other students. He just holds special malice for me. You know he hates us!"
"Nevertheless," Jacob Adalmund cut in, "this means you must practice twice as hard as you usually do. There has never been an Adalmund who couldn't defeat their instructor in a clash or archery competition by the time they where thirteen years old."
Landon looked at the floor as he said, "Yes father."
"And dear, how are your… studies progressing? Are you enjoying the new magic?"
Landon sensed the double meaning, he smiled and whispered to his mother and father, "I am enjoying it very much. There are so many more possibilities with this magic than customary magic."
"That's my boy." Jacob said proudly.
Duchess Adalmund suddenly stood up, her black dress rustling in the breeze. "Come Yilana; let us look at how lunch is progressing."
Yilana trotted off with her mother. As they left, Duke Adalmund motioned for his only son to sit in his mother's vacated seat. Landon obeyed automatically. "Son, we have received word from Arson that the empire is going to send soldiers here tomorrow to take Yilana away."
Landon's eyes widened with rage. "Why? How? She hasn't performed any magic in front of anyone but us and the…"
"Yes, son, us and the servants. Your mother and I believe that one of them was working as a double agent. We have fired that maid already… The rest, we know, are quite trustworthy." He added quickly, seeing the dangerous look of rage and aggression on Landon's face.
"I assume she was punished, father?" Landon said through clenched teeth.
"Well, of course she was. Punished brutally."
That seemed to calm Landon down. He took deep, even breaths and asked, "What are we going to do?"
"We are going to do our best to convince them that their spy was mental. If that fails, we are going to do our best to hide Yilana."
Landon nodded slowly, and then stopped, "Would it be possible to hide Yilana for so many years?"
"We believe they are planning to send Yilana into the non-magical human world."
Landon looked horrified, "Don't they eat our brains?"
"Of course not!" The duke said crossly, scowling at his son for his foolish superstitions. "They are just modern, non-magic making humans who have a more… unique look on the world. They don't even know we exist, and you know that."
"I do. It was only a joke, father, sir."
"Son, she is going to come back, if she is caught, when she is eighteen. Your mother and I are planning to take over the empire then."
Landon smiled and nodded, "That's good, though twelve years is a long time to wait."
"Time will dash by swiftly. Till then, we wait."
The day after that was the complete opposite of sunny. The
Adalmund's; who woke up extra early to pack and send Yilana to a
nearby island to stay while they sorted things out with the
empire; woke up to sinister, dark storm clouds blocking the sun
and once-blue sky.
It was raining by the time the family where outside, watching the servants load the carriage. The rain showered upon them heavily so they could barely see in front of them. It was dark as if it was night instead of dawn, but then lightning cracked and thunder boomed and the whole courtyard of the Adalmund's castle would light.
Soon it was dark. The Adalmunds waited beside the carriage so they could see their daughter off to the island, but she did not appear. The duke seemed to be deep in thought, and then he turned to one of his maids, "Where is my daughter?"
"I saw her, she said she was going to say goodbye to a garden snake she befriended. She should be in the garden now." The maid said.
"No one is accompanying her?" Jacob asked calmly, much too calmly for his usual explosive temper.
The maid sensed that she was in dangerous water, "I'm sorry, my lord, it seemed safe enough for her to go alone…"
"HAVE I NOT EXPLAINED THE PREDICAMENT OF HER SAFETY TO YOU AND ALL THE SERVANTS HERE, WOMAN!" He said, raising his hand and striking her hard in the face. As she cowered on the floor, he continued, "I will repeat, 'SHE IS NOT SAFE ANYWHERE UNACCOMPONIED TODAY!' ARE YOU TOO DIMWITTED TO GRASP THAT?!"
"No my lord, I'm sorry." She whimpered.
"Maybe I will consider reducing the pain of your punishment when I see that my daughter is safe."
Meanwhile, Yilana was in the garden searching for her little
friend. "Sarpe?" She called, "I'm leaving for a while, Sarpe.
Come and say goodbye to me."
Why did Yilana name the snake Sarpe? She didn't know how she even knew the name; it has been in her mind since she could remember. Duke and Duchess Adalmund did not consider her of age to know about anything that happened to her until she was ten years old. Her nurse told her the story of Sarpe, however, (It was an old child's story) and somehow she knew the name she has always known and the Sarpe in the story was the same person.
When she said this, the green garden snake slithered from under the rock it called home. Yilana went on her knees and petted him on the head affectionately. Sarpe's intelligent eyes looked up at her questioningly. She shrugged and said, "I have no idea why I have to leave. They won't tell me anything."
Sarpe hissed and looked around the garden swiftly, hissing menacingly once more.
Yilana looked around, trying to see through the rain. She heard a branch snap from behind her and an unrecognizable voice hiss, "Bloody hell."
She whipped her head around and saw three tall figures clad in dark cloaks coming toward her. She screamed, grabbed Sarpe and ran for it. Hiding Sarpe in a cloth bag she was carrying.
Yilana darted to and through the Adalmund's prized rosebush maze. The empire's men followed. She knew they would not find her here. The rain was almost blinding, and unless you knew the exactly where the exit of the maze was, it would take hours to navigate.
She heard the three men planning to split up and corner her. She smiled to herself as she ran the exit that was located on the other side of the maze.
She ran as fast as she could. She stared at the ground for short periods of time. The gravel was a blur beneath her feat. The hood of her black cloak flipped back, allowing her hair to be soaked in seconds. Then she saw the exit. She held back her terrified glee as she departed the maze.
Yilana was so drenched and it was raining so hard that she didn't see what she presently ran into. She fell and hit her head hard on the gravel. Clutching her head, she looked up and saw one of the figures of the three men looking down at her. She screamed and jumped to her feet.
The man yelled to his fellow men, "I found her!"
The young girl turned to run, but the man lunged at her and grabbed her by the hair. She screamed again, louder. Hoping one of the servants, her parents, or her brother would hear her. Landon would show these kidnappers a thing or two…
"Let me go!" She yelled.
"Sorry princess; can't do that." Another leering voice said. The other two men of the trio arrived.
"So this is the powerful little Adalmund girl." The third man said. They all laughed harshly.
"Let me go. If you hurt me, my brother and father, they'll kill you!"
"Little filth, just like her whole family." The first one sneered, "Already thinking about murder."
Yilana was terrified. She tugged on the hold the first man had on her hair. He responded with a heave that made her eyes water with tears. She bit her lip as he got a more firm hold on her arm, then screamed so loud that it stung her throat, leaving it throbbing. The third man grunted, "Cover the chit's mouth."
The man who was holding her placed his huge, scarred hands over her mouth. She thrashed her hands and kept trying to scream.
Then voices could be heard inside the castle.
The trio froze. So did Yilana. She could hear her father bellowing at servants in rage. She could here Landon calling out, "Yilana! Yilana! Where are you?"
"They'll kill us if they see us here." The second man murmured.
"Dolson tells me the boy already has the mind of a killer." The man who held Yilana stated.
"Do not be ludicrous. They were just released from prison two years ago; I doubt they want to go back just yet."
"Nevertheless, we should leave with the girl now."
The second man tied a cloth over Yilana's mouth. Her eyes widened as her captor picked her up as though she was five pounds instead of fifty.
The group of men began their descent to depart the castle grounds, taking Yilana with them. The little girl lost all hope when she spotted enormous castle gates. She made one last attempt to escape, that resulted in failure.
Just when she gave up, she heard a guard call, "Halt! Who goes there?"
Her captors panicked and ran. The cloth holding Yilana's mouth shut dislodged from her mouth. "Jareed!" She screamed, using the guard's name so he would know it was her, "Help!"
The head guard of the castle, Jareed, knew at once who had just called out to him.
"Wha'… ALERT, ALERT! TRESSPASSORS! THEY HAVE LADY YILANA! DAMN IT, SOUND THE BELLS, MAN!" He roared.
The bells ringing sounded throughout the castle grounds. Maids screamed and the guards who were making out with them just then shoved the women away, took out their swords, and contacted the captain to find out what had gone amiss.
All three of Yilana's captor's where soon separated. She heard the man's loud footfalls and the water splash whenever he took as step. He was also breathing heavily. She realized he wasn't a good runner. He would be captured soon, and her parents would punish them. The thought made her smile.
Her captor was holding her under his cloak, so Yilana couldn't see anything that was happening outside. However, she could hear everything. And from what she was hearing, she knew that her prediction would soon prove to be correct. She heard men shouting for her subjugator to halt. When he didn't, she heard arrows fly, and then her captor stopped. He dropped her and cowered to the floor, groaning. She immediately crawled away from him and stood. Falling to the wet ground soaked her cloak, and soon her dress was sopping to the bone.
She looked down at the man who just tried to kidnap her. He was whimpering and clutching his left shoulder. To her horror, half of the end of an arrow was sticking out of it, and dark liquid poured onto the man's hand.
She felt someone seize her shoulders. She shrieked and thrashed against the firm grip. It released her, whoever it was. She looked behind her and saw the familiar figure of Captain Jareed Hasky. "M'lady, are you alright?"
"Yes." She replied, her voice low and squeaky.
Yilana allowed her favorite guard to carry her into the castle. She was too tired to walk. She closed her eyes until she felt Jareed lay her on her soft bed. She opened her eyes in surprise. "Isn't father going to speak to the men who tried to kidnap me?"
"Why… yes m'lady."
"Well, I want to see it."
"I'm sure you parents want you to rest, lady Yilana."
"My parent would want me to see how men who try to kidnap their children are punished."
"Jareed, I command you to take me to my parents."
Jareed took a deep breath. "Yes m'lady."
He led Yilana to the throne room. It was where her parents usually received visitors. It was a large room with stone floors and a long, red carpet in the middle so guests of high class could be received with grace. In the end of the room, on a circular, thick rug was four large, throne-like chairs. The chairs where made of cherry wood, pure gold and black velvet. In the front of the head of the chair was the Adalmund's emblem, a striking snake. The legs of the chairs also depicted snakes slithering up. The two biggest thrones were for duke and duchess Adalmund. The slightly smaller one beside the duke's throne was for Landon, and the smallest chair beside the duchess's throne was for Yilana. There was a guard on the opposite sides on the thrones. Yilana was disappointed, she thought her father would be thinking up a punishment in the torture chamber.
Her family was sitting in those thrones now. Her father, looking angry and superior. Her mother, with her usual calm and arrogant air, trying to calm her husband down. Landon, winking at his sister when he saw her.
Landon got up and dismissed Jareed, but not before complimenting on how the captain of the guards handled the situation of the empire's henchmen.
Yilana looked at her brother curiously, "What's a henchman?"
"A man, who is a loyal supporter or follower, especially of somebody who holds a high office or position. They are usually used to do that person's dirty work."
Yilana looked at him blankly.
He just laughed and ruffled her hair. "The guards will bring those men in soon so we can decide their punishment. Sit down."
Yilana obeyed. Her mother smiled at her when she sat down. Her father made no notion that he realized she was there, probably intent on coming up with a cruel enough punishment.
It was minutes before the trio of henchmen where brought into the throne room. They were struggling against the guards furiously. One of the guards lost patience and struck the man who had Yilana when Jareed saved her on the head. The henchman made a strange warbling noise that sounded something like, "Mother." Before blacking out. Landon snorted harshly.
The men were dragged forward until they where only feet away from the Adalmund's. The guards dumped them on the floor. The seeming leader of the trio tried to run. Jacob Adalmund muttered, "Jast. Stop." The torches on the wall seemed to flicker as the leader, looking horrified, froze.
"Back to you original position, if you please."
He moved backwards until he was back in his original position, lying on the floor. He stared at Jacob with poorly hidden shock and rage. "How dare you practice dark magic? You will be back in the dungeon for this."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk." Jacob rolled his eyes as he said this, "I have been practicing the dark arts since I was twelve years old, without being caught. And I am not going to be caught now. Nevertheless, we must discuss why you are even here in the first place."
"That is not a business of yours."
"Oh, it most certainly is. Because if you refuse to tell me, that gives me every right to chastise you to my heart's content. Do you think you can get away with kidnapping my daughter without punishment? Do you think you can merely walk away here without feeling pain first?"
When Jacob Adalmund said he would torture the truth out of you, he meant it. The head of the trio, looking at the duke's cruel face, knew that he would have no trouble killing him if he had to.
The boss pulled out a piece of rolled parchment and opened it. Inside Yilana faintly saw the green royal seal. He read it aloud; seeming to know it by memory, while giving it to Jacob.
"By the order of the Empire, King Garrid the sixth, and each and every one the noble houses of Askabar and Beathag, except the Bashkim houses. The Noble Adalmunds are to hand over Duchess Yilana Adalmund for reportedly showing a dangerous use of dark magic. She is ruled to be dangerous to the good people of Askabar and nearby countries and will be confiscated across the barrier to the world of non-magical people, to the land of United States. The exact location must remain clandestine. Lady Yilana is to remain there until her eighteenth birthday, and then she is allowed to come back to her homeland. Any opposition to this decree can lead to criminal penalties and severe time in The King's Punishment prison."
Jacob read it for himself with a grim face.
"If we don't return, the empire will know what happened."
Jacob smiled, "And if they forget all about you?"
"Oh, they won't. Getting that little bitch out of Askabar is the law's number one pri…"
He abruptly stopped talking and screamed out in suffering. He writhed and continued to shriek, and cold drips of sweat ran down his face. Yilana and the conscious man of the trio looked like they were the only ones who didn't know what was happening. Landon and Izadel watched calmly, with a sneer on Landon's face. Jacob's brow was furrowed in concentration, and the guard's just watched calmly and indifferently. They have seen Jacob do things like this and worse to their prisoners before. One of them even yawned.
The boss of the trio's pain only ended when he begged. Jacob gave a harsh laugh; then the boss gave another strangled yell, and then stopped. Jacob stood up from his throne and walked to be face with face with the man he just tortured. He said, "Look at me." The terrified man floated above the ground until his face was in front of Jacob's, making eye contact.
"No one," Jacob whispered, "No one insults any members of my family without suffering the consequences. That decree," he pointed to the parchment, "is the only thing that kept me from killing you right then and there."
"So you are planning to obey it?"
"…To a limited extent."
"If you don't obey it to the full extent I will have the pleasure of reporting to the king that you are still practicing the dark arts!"
"I'm not so sure about that." Jacob said in a low, dangerous voice. When he spoke again, his voice seemed to echo, and the torches on the wall flickered, causing dark shadows to dance on the walls that did not belong to anyone or anything in the room. "You will become tongue tied at this very moment. You will say you had no problems confiscating her, that we handed her over willingly enough when you showed us the decree, and that is all. You will never speak of the dark magic I have tortured you with, or how your comrade became injured. You will also find out where they are taking her and report it to me. Impluso."
The man fell to the floor and puked out blood. "It seems you damaged his organs a bit, father." Landon said as if he was commenting about the weather.
"And I could have done a lot worse." Jacob replied. Then he said to his captive, to Yilana and Landon's horror, "We will allow you to take Yilana only because we do not feel we need more months in prison. Your comrades are also tongue tied, so don't even try to report us."
And Yilana was taken away, from the life she knew so well. And she wouldn't see her family again for another twelve years…