Power Unhinged Excerpt

Power Unhinged Excerpt

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

Two lovers, Trystan and Natasha, become estranged due to a fight for power under dire circumstances. While Natasha ends up ruling the majestic city of Creton, Trystan bubbles with jealously, slowly plotting his revenge. A tense plot culminates as both gather their armies, readying for war. But there is just one more factor they must consider… eternal life. A race toward death leaves them questioning whether it was all worth it.
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Summary

Two lovers, Trystan and Natasha, become estranged due to a fight for power under dire circumstances. While Natasha ends up ruling the majestic city of Creton, Trystan bubbles with jealously, slowly plotting his revenge. A tense plot culminates as both gather their armies, readying for war. But there is just one more factor they must consider… eternal life. A race toward death leaves them questioning whether it was all worth it.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Trystan

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 21, 2017

Reads: 46

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 21, 2017

A A A

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Trystan

Scorn is not an easy thing to live with, nor is a reputation. All his life, Trystan had strived to prove himself, to show the people he was a leader and not just some whore’s son. Before his father died, he told him that a leader does not create followers. Instead, he raises them up to rule themselves. This was Trystan’s goal. To strengthen a realm, to win their allegiance. Today, he planned to take one step in that direction.

“Victoria!” he shouted at his sister, from atop the balcony.

She glared up at him, her shoulders hunched over a recurve bow. In one hand was a polishing rag, in the other a jar of linseed oil. She was the village’s weapon master, having taken up the trade from their father. Victoria was also one of the few born barren, without any natural abilities.

“What the fuck do you want? I’m busy.”

Her coarse brown hair was braided over one shoulder, a heart-shaped scar at the nape of her neck. Victoria’s mouth twisted into a snarl as she scanned her brother.

“Have you prepared my arrows yet? The tournament is staring in an hour,” Trystan responded, with an air of authority.

“Yes, yes. They are freshly dipped in wark venom. I left them in the front room. Now, go shove them up your ass.” She spit on the ground before continuing to scour the bow.

Trystan shook his head, turning back into the house. It was a modest dwelling in the outer fringes of the city. The Cloud City is what they called it, for it floated in space, surrounded by fluffy, white matter. The clouds were not made of water vapor though, as many once thought. In fact, nobody really knew what they were. Gravity and oxygen were only found on the city’s surface. Step off the ledge and you would explode into a million pieces. Trystan knew… he had seen it happen.

They’d moved to the house shortly after his mother took up prostitution, living off whatever coins she was able to coax from men’s pockets. If it hadn’t been for his sister’s decision to take charge, they would have died from starvation.

 It wasn’t exactly the most peaceful neighborhood. Just last week, a gang of rebels set fire to the house next door, condemning it to a pile of charred ruins. The crystallite divider he created had been the only thing saving them from burning with it.

Trystan began sorting through his armor. It was minimal, considering each citizen was born with a certain gift. His was the ability to stop time. Historical records show that it had been over five hundred years since one had possessed that power.

He clasped a metal throat guard in place, feeling it cinch tightly. Next, came a pair of fingerless gloves made from the skin of selkets, scorpion-like creatures that roamed the edges of the city. Once he became ruler, Trystan vowed to send hunting parties to rid them of these beasts.

After pulling on a titanium-linked vest, he slung the quiver over his back, picked up his bow, and descended the stairs.

Flenka waited for him outside, her great, feathered neck tethered to a post. She was a Locada, half bird, half horse. Her wings were stunted things that hung limply from her sides. Grass and tree roots made up most of her diet. Over a thousand years ago, her breed had been tamed for human use. They were one of the most loyal creatures in existence. When angered however, they could become dangerous.

Flenka’s orange eyes rolled back in her head as she nibbled the palm of Trystan’s hand.

“You’re too good to me,” he murmured, stroking her between the ears. She nickered in response, scraping her taloned claws impatiently along the ground. He slipped a bridle over her head. The creature shuddered, hackle feathers rising. Swinging a leg over her, he mounted.

 Burying his fingers in the mass of charcoal-gray feathers, Trystan kicked the flanks of his animal. Flenka sprang into action, rearing up before charging ahead. Her legs pounded the ground, sending tremors through the cement.

Shadows darted at the corners of his eyes as they passed through Town Square. Only a few citizens remained, the rest having already found seats in the Grand Stadium. Dread shot through him. Over a thousand people would be there watching the outcome, including the love of his life. Trystan felt crushed by the responsibility.

His thighs cramped up as Flenka sailed over a hedge. His watch beeped, signaling a message. He already knew who it was from. The gates of the stadium grew closer, metal pillars reaching to clouds. It was a relieving sight. Flenka skidded to a stop outside the entrance, foam dripping from her mouth. Trystan slid down, heart still pounding from the ride.

He hooked her leash onto an iron peg in the wall. Footfalls echoed behind him. Turning around, he saw Cassius, his girlfriend’s father and only remaining kin. A gray beard dangled to his belt. Two deep hollows in his skull marked his eyes. He had a stern jaw surrounded by lines of age. A man wise beyond his years and not one easily fooled. Trystan had learned that long ago.

 “Damn, boy, I was about to call out a search party. Did you not get my messages?”

Trystan wiped his hands on his breeches, cleared his throat.

“I did, but I ignored them.”

“An honest bastard, I like that. Better get in the ring before they pull your name.” Cassius motioned toward the neon-lit tunnel leading into the stadium. The gates were parted. Trystan nodded and set off toward it.

 A family of lizards scurried about his feet, iridescent scales gleaming in the dim tunnel. Drums thundered ahead, signaling the approach of the first contender.

Beginning at the age of twelve, all male children were required to participate in the arts of combat. Each course was molded around that child’s inherent ability. Trystan had shown the most promise, killing his first during orientation. The instructors had marveled, saying how great he would become. If he won this battle, he would be marked an equal citizen and gain his rights. If he lost—he would die with pride.

His eyes adjusted to the blinding light of the arena, taking in countless faces. In the fourth row of the audience sat his beloved Natasha. She was clad in a lavender tunic, adorned with pearls from the Shadowsea. Her auburn hair parted down the middle, flowing over milk-white shoulders. She radiated a regal kind of beauty, and always sought to enhance it by dressing above her station. Everyone called her the Woman of Wisdom due to her gift of telepathy. They had known each other since childhood and both dreamt of the same thing. Raising the kingdom from its ashes. Creating a better world. She was born a woman though and became citizen through birthright.

His path wasn’t quite so simple.

Tilting her head down, she locked eyes with him. There was no emotion on her face but he knew she was reading his mind all the same. Trystan blew her a kiss before taking his position in the corner of the arena.

A hooded figure emerged from the tunnel, scales of bronze armor clanking. He held a loaded crossbow, its scope poised level with his gaze. Trystan did not recognize him from the village. He must have been a rival from an outer territory. Looking him over, he tried to guess what tricks the man had up his sleeve. To avoid cheating, the instructors refused to reveal what powers they would be faced with. This uncertainly left him with a queasy feeling.

Trystan cracked his knuckles and listened as each issued a satisfying pop. Reaching over his shoulder, he pulled an arrow from his quiver. Flenka’s feathers had been attached to the end for good luck, one red, one blue, and one gold. He notched it, pulling the string taunt. Parting his legs, he assumed his stance. His muscles stiffened, soreness flowing through them.

A sharp whistle echoed through the stadium, signaling the start of the fight. His opponent’s hand twitched, finger teasing the trigger. Trystan countered his movements, preparing to release the arrow. He doubted himself though. Could they have given him a barren opponent as a form of mockery? No. This man had powers, he was just waiting to reveal them.

Gulping, Trystan realized how parched his throat had become. A coldness settled over him, ice forming from the sweat on his skin. When he exhaled, a cloud of sparkling mist coated the air. His enemy smirked, showing a row of missing teeth. He was a Nature Lord, one who had control over temperature. There were many throughout the village, apprentices who could change the atmosphere by a few degrees, but he’d never met one this accomplished.

Trystan shivered. His teeth began to chatter. The muscles in his arms were numb, fingers bleeding from the bowstring. His opponent jutted his chest, eyes rolling back. He released a high-pitched, demonic wail that could have shattered glass. A sheet of ice swept over ground, racing toward Trystan. It collided with his feet. He fell in what seemed like slow motion, weapon slipping from his grasp.

The arrow shot at a haphazard angle, soaring past his opponent only to hit one of the members of the audience. It pierced the man through the neck. Blood sprayed from the wound as he slumped against the bleachers.

Trystan watched with a dazed expression, still recovering from his fall. His head throbbed after smacking the ice. His opponent stood on the other side of the ring, arms crossed, faking a yawn. Trystan ground his teeth in fury. He closed his eyes, summoned the last of his strength. For years, he had labored at this maneuver. Time was thought to be uncontrollable, something you can never get back. Not for him. Its power was endless, all he had to do was create a channel, and it would be there.

Laying his palms flat across the ice, he allowed them to soak up its numbness. He slowed his breathing, listening as the world around him went quiet. Something in the center of his chest clicked, a magnetic pull ushering him to rise. Trystan opened his eyes, greeted by the sight of a frozen world.

A dense fog hung in the air, hovering just above the ground. He looked up, surveying the audience. Expressions of shock and distress were fixed on their faces. One woman’s jaw hung open. The only one who lacked for reaction was Natasha, her face serene as ever. Her eyes were centered in the middle of the area, watching something shrouded in the mist.

Trystan picked up his bow, following her gaze. After wandering through the fog, he came upon a human form. Plate mail glinted from the man’s torso, knees bent as he crouched above the ground. Reaching out, Trystan felt the skin on his opponent’s hand. It was tinted black, as if frostbite had already set in. There was only one thing left to do. Backing away, Trystan selected an arrow.

He had taken the lives of many. It almost came natural. Familiar sensations washed over him. A fluttering in his chest, adrenaline coursing through his veins, and a flicker of guilt as he took aim. His opponent would feel no pain. By the time he set the world in motion, the man would be dead.

 Pushing down any second thoughts, Trystan loosed his arrow. It sliced through time itself, creating a faint whistle. It slipped between a gap in the armor, embedding itself in the man’s chest. Only Flenka’s feathers remained visible.

Trystan gasped, the cold seeping through his bones, weakening him. With great difficulty, he released his hold on time. A cry went out when they sighted the dead body slumped in the middle of the ring. Some began applauding their newfound hero. A bright light gleamed overhead, burning off the fog.

Strong hands wrapped around his shoulders, gently nudging. Trystan felt a swell of pride as Cassius led him toward the podium, its obsidian pillars twisting toward each other in a wide arc. A silken banner unfolded as he mounted the stage. Walking to the edge of the platform, Trystan looked out. Soon, if Hathor allowed, these people would be his. The thought filled him with trepidation and a sense of excitement.

Cassius cleared his throat, clipping a voice amplifier to the collar of his robe.

“People of Cretron,” his voice boomed through the air. “Beside me stands the newest member of society. He has waited a long time for this day and has proven himself beyond a doubt. He will now be entitled to our voting rights and is an eligible candidate for our next leader. Please welcome Trystan Harper as one of you.”

A standing ovation took the stadium, a thousand people chanting his name. As Cassius painted the customary village symbol to his wrist, a tear slipped down Trystan’s cheek. He wiped it away before anyone could see. 


© Copyright 2017 Audra Burwell. All rights reserved.

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