Chapter Three: The Deathly Wars

Last chapter for today.

“I’m just going to continue,” He said, wanting to change the mood. I nodded, casting aside my thoughts and focusing. “Not only Aetherians live in the Aether. Other species do as well.” A book shot to his open hand, and he laid it down to face me. The large tome was without a name at the front, surprisingly.

“Flip to creatures.” He mumbled, stroking the spine of the book. The book turned its pages instantly. “Aetherians. That’s us.” He pointed at a drawing of a male and female, standing tall and proud. “There are, in fact, sub-categories. The Great Sages.” The book flipped to the next page to show two old men who looked like Gandalf and wore similar clothes as Dumbledore. Another old woman stood next to them, reading the stars with a hand-held telescope. “They are astrologers, palmists, sense your spiritual aura and practice other prophetical means to see glimpses of the future. It’s always 99% true. Not to mention, they have amazing memories.”

“They’re the most sought out when it comes to dire situations and even finding out the possible marriageable partners.” I nodded, looking at a white-haired child look at a thick tome. “So, everyone has white hair?” I asked, feeling silly. “Yeah. That’s how you tell them apart from everyone else. It’s not hereditary; your hair can just start turning white. It’s a sign.” He pointed out.

“Next, we have the Valkyries.” He smirked, sipping his chowder. “The Valkyries are the best combination of badass and sexy. Anyways, their female sovereign is Queen Reina.” A tall and willowy woman, with a crown of crystals adorning her head, stood poised, flanked by her wolves.

Her knight was behind her, with a winged helmet on her head. Somehow the armor just showed off skin in the right places. “Ah. I see what you mean. But aren’t they vulnerable with all that just exposed?” I raised an eyebrow. “Nah. It’s Aclyx chainmail. It’s invisible armor. They use this to distract enemies. It’s overly effective if they don’t know how to hone their glamor to charm their enemies. Once, one of them accidentally charmed their ally and he tried to kill himself. That’s what my dad told me, apparently.”

“Elves.” The page flipped. “It is common knowledge that elves have their signature pointy ears. Has this ‘idea’ of elves changed at all in the human world? I mean, the last time I took a walk around and properly acquainted myself with this realm was when ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ was released. 1605. Heck, I was only 70 then. I’m a hundred and six this year.”

“That was 36 Aetherian years ago. So, in the span of these 36 years, you aged 412 human years? That’s 11.4444 human years every Aetherian year.” I gave him an incredulous stare. “Nah. It doesn’t work that way. Time warps between dimensions, and time is usually faster in the Aether. Unfortunately, time has slowed to match the human world’s time because of the imbalance of power. The royals are usually able to tamper with large amounts of glamor, and without them, the time will be warped. Don’t ask me; I never studied quantum physics between dimensions.”

“Back to the topic.” I pointed at the book. “Right. Sorry. As I was saying, elves are slightly shorter and thinner than us, and can only control elemental glamor. Most of them form our legion of archers and lightweights, and most of the ladies serve as seamstresses, ladies-in-waiting, and other similar job scopes. For some reason, spider silk doesn’t stick to their fingers.”

I nodded. “Thankfully, our society isn’t as gender biased as the society in the realm we are currently in.” He breathed a sigh of relief. I studied the pictures. Each type of elf was different, from their eye color to their skin color.

Air Elves had nearly transparent skin; Water Elves had a bluish tinge. Fire Elves were a faint red, whereas Earth Elves were brownish or green. “Got it.” I flipped the page. “Nereids. They are shorter than elves, but are just as small boned. Nereids are keepers of water and ice, and mostly serve the Valkyrian Court. Sirens do so as well, but since they have tails, they can’t go about on land. They give blessings, and sing for the Valkyrian Court. They oversee the naval defense of the East coast.”

“Based on what I’ve heard from you so far about the Valkyrian Court sums up to this: Everything, everyone is beautiful.” He snapped his fingers. “Yup. I’m not even kidding. There’s a reason that 99% of beauty pageants come from there.” I sighed. “Okay, moving on.”

“Sylphs.” The pages flipped. “Most of them serve our Court, but the rest of them make up the bulk of the messengers of other Courts. Wealthy ladies may have them as little maidservants. Sylphs are essentially a foot tall, and have glamored wings either gray, white, silver or yellow.”

“Lastly, elementals. Like the name suggests, they control the elements and look like their element. There are two subtypes of elementals for each group. Air elementals include wind elementals and storm elementals; fire elementals include flame and jewel elementals; earth elementals include flora elementals or dryads, and stone elementals. Water elementals are ice and water elementals.”

“And that concludes our session. Any questions? Feel free to shoot away.” He went back to eating his food. By now, it was cool enough to eat without scalding your tongue. Since I usually ate my food scalding hot and fast, I didn’t mind the temperature. It’s not like I was given a choice. I scraped an empty plate. “Well, that can’t be it.” I tapped my chin.

“It isn’t.” The faintest shadow passed over his face. This obviously wasn’t good, since he was trying to hide it. Even a fool would know that. The room was completely silent, the winds laying down a thick blanket. Did his emotions affect the environment?

“Eighteen years ago, we were invaded by the Undead from the mortal world. Somehow there was a tear in dimensions and both the corporeal and incorporeal beings were sucked into the Aether. All of them attacked us, and since we couldn’t fend them off, many of our kind perished. This was coined as the Deathly War.”

“Wait. Are these ‘corporeal beings’ zombies? Unkillable zombies?” I asked, and he sighed. “Pretty much. There are ‘zombies’, which are the easiest to kill and avoid, unlike the rest. Wraiths, ghosts, banshees and skeletons are a pain in the ass. We call this ‘zombie’ corpses.”

“But we managed to defeat them?” I said. I was already starting to call them ‘we’. Technically they were the same race as I was, but it just seemed strange. “Unfortunately not.” The atmosphere was drearier than ever before. “The corpses have mob mentality, unlike the others. Though they operated in large groups of their own kind, they had brought their vengeance-filled minds back with them from the grave. They’ll attack every living thing and try to turn it into their own. Fortunately, there is a genetic mutation in us that does not allow us to turn into one of them.” He spat out the words.

“So, how did you get rid of them?” I drank the last of my soup. “We burned the corpses and skeletons with the fire of Mithrios, Pyrotheum. It’s an extremely rare orange liquid collected from the fountain of a dragon’s mouth in the castle. They would pour in fireflowers and other secret materials into the top of the fountain to produce this liquid. Once the liquid exits the sacred area, it starts to burn and become everlasting fire.” A pair of gloved hands whisked away our empty plates.

“So, during this war, the fountain was scraped dry for this resource? And how do you kill ghosts, wraiths and banshees?” I asked, curious. “Yes. I’m getting there, so hold your horses.”

“Holy shit. Ice-cream!” I gasped, finishing my food quickly. A pair of gloves placed mint and chocolate ice-cream in front of me. “Oh, my god. I love this.” I gushed. He sighed and shook his head in disbelief, concern in his eyes. I shouldn’t have said that, should I? Wrong timing.

“The nectar of Midil Frostflowers can be extracted for reducing the spirits to goop. We would dip our weapons in this acidic nectar, which would last for a week. Unfortunately, once again, the odds were never in our favor. We discovered this secret recipe just after the war. On that weird day that the Undead just stopped attacking.”

“Mm.” I swallowed my ice-cream. “Crystallized Midil is powder made from grinding the flowers. This is used in the same way as well.” He added.

“So, were there any important people killed in the war?” I ate another greedy scoop of ice-cream. “Yes. Many died.” He hid his clenched fist under the table. I gulped nervously.

“Queen Reina lost her husband in the war. A ghost possessed him to stab himself. Then Richard Prodigentia was skewered by Queen Consort Iroquois Attkisson. He was a great man, Marquis of Mithrios. Queen Anastasias of Mithrios died protecting her three-year-old son from a skeleton. Your mother, on the other hand…”

Blood drained from my face. She died, didn’t she? “She passed just after the war… Just collapsed from fatigue and stress, and gone the next moment. The Undead marched into the Aether just weeks after you were born. But by then, you were already out of the Aether along with the other kids.”

“When your father knew of your mother’s death, he just dropped everything and locked himself up in his room. He didn’t eat for weeks, and when my dad got him to open the door, he was on the edge of death. Apparently, that’s what your grandfather did when your grandmother died of old age. He died from grief and starvation soon after, and the throne was passed to your dad at the age of 40. I guess it runs in the family. I’m not jinxing you whatsoever, so don’t take it to heart, okay? And if you even THINK about doing that, I’m going to fucking grab you by the collar and throw you out of the tallest fucking tower in the Aether.”

He fumed. I shrunk back in my chair. His hair was steaming! Lysander got up, the chair nearly tipping over, starting to pace by the entrance of the kitchen. His hair suddenly combusted into flames with a roar, little tufts of fire flying out. One nearly landed on my face, but thankfully it fizzled away, still scaring the living hell out of me. I shrieked, then blinked in shock at the pitch of the screech. “Sorry—,” He turned around, patting his hair to smolder the flames. “Didn’t mean to scare you. To explain this,” He summoned a puff of flames in his hand, then extinguished it. “My grandmother was from Incendia.”

“My face nearly got melted off.” I breathed a sigh of relief. “Ah, sorry about that.” He grinned at me sheepishly, taking a seat. “So, uh,” I changed the topic, “is there anything else that I need to learn?”

“Oh, plenty. You’ll need to learn to fight, control your glamor, and to transform—,” He got up again, “Into this.” With a dark red puff of smoke, he reappeared in velvet burgundy tails, along with a black jagged cape flapping behind him from the gusts of wind that appeared out of nowhere. “Okay! I get it.” I yelled through the wind. I tried to rearrange my hair, which was forced to part from the back due to the absurdly strong wind. The cutlery rattled in response, as if telling him to stop.

“Sorry about that.” He stopped the wind from blowing, placing his hand above my head. An electric current passed through my hair. “Woah.” My hair shot upwards, and landed nicely, like how it was in the first place. “You’re welcome.” He grinned, sitting back down with a puff of smoke.

“Neat trick. When do we start?”

“Hold your horses. We’ll begin tomorrow. The next week’s gonna be hell for you, so you’d be better off going to sleep early tonight.”

And we’re done. For now.
NEXT CHAPTER UP ON FRIDAY/SATURDAY. Check out WordPress or AO3 if you prefer reading it there; link’s on my bio. 

Chapter Two: A Short Lesson

Fear not. Everything will be explained.

“For eons, the humans have co-existed with the Aetheric Plane, most without knowing of its existence. Long ago, humans who have contacted the plane accidentally or intentionally have been blessed, or cursed with power. This perspective will change; it matters which side of the fence you are sitting on.

“You are familiar with the term ‘magic’, right?” He continued even though I didn’t reply. “There was a dark time in history where all those who were suspected of this power were burned at the stake. Humans call this power ‘magic’, and these people ‘magicians’ or ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’. We call it glamor.”

“So, you’re saying that we aren’t human? You keep referring to them as humans and not ‘us’,” I spoke up when he paused for breath. It was weird to refer them as different. If we aren’t what are we then? Aliens?

“Yes, we are not. As compared to our powerless and short-lived kin, we are generally leaner and taller. The powers draw a wide line between the two races. Other than that, we have more stamina, physical endurance, a greater brain capacity but we are more susceptible to various mental disorders. And that’s great.” He winked. Mental disorders were great? I listened on.

“Centuries ago, we were driven out by the humans as they were fearful of us and our capabilities. We escaped to the Aetheric Realm, or the Aether, where we expanded the use of our powers. In this realm, we are only tied down by the lack of air-borne particles of glamor, which limits our strength. After the escape, we’ve only progressed, and when I mean progress, I’m not kidding. We have higher technology than those stuck in this realm.” A black-billed magpie flapped over to sit on his head.

“Oh, meet Maggie.” She blinked at me and tipped her head in semblance of a bow. “Aetherians and humans cannot procreate.” He coughed, reading my mind. I narrowed my eyes, blocking my thoughts. “You should do that more often.” He advised. Fuck. That was so cool. But creepy. “You’re extremely readable.” Lysander laughed.

“Moving on,” He pulled out a blank scroll from thin air, spreading it on the table. I stared at the spot, but couldn’t find anything wrong with it. “There are four Aetheric Courts.” The four palaces were slowly drawn on the paper at the four corners, then painted in. He tapped the northernmost palace, sitting on a mountain in the clouds. “Your place. Court of Steelthorne, in Acierus, the main city of the Aether. Our season is spring. We deal with all affairs of the Aether; the management of how the Aether runs, etcetera. The element is air, and our domain is the skies. We have a great forest in our backyard, full of the best ironwood trees, and we make shield and bows. Of course, the sacred animal is none other than Accipitrimorphae.”

“English, please.” I frowned. “Birds of prey.” He laughed.

“Next,” He tapped on the western palace. “The Court of Mithrios. The city and other smaller towns are near the mines, where machines are automated to collect the ores and refine them. Their mountains are rich with precious metals, gems and stones. They make the Aetherian Syls, as well as securing the Aetheric Vaults. Their season is summer, and their element is fire. They are famous for their blade-smithing skills, and their blades are as sharp and durable as can be. Their sacred animal is the phoenix.” Volcanoes were drawn between the western and the southern kingdom.

“Speaking about the Aetheric currency,” A gloved hand zipped over, carrying a wallet and placing it in front of Lysander. He took out three silver coins, one gold coin and four notes. “These,” He pointed at the three silver coins, “are 10, 20 and 50 leptae. Humans call them cents, pennies and dimes, I think. Anyway, these are the lowest denominations of Aetheric currency.”

I picked up the coins and studied them. Each leptae coin had its number printed neatly, along with a different flower. ‘The Aetherian Mint’ was etched onto the side of the coins, and intricate patterns unachievable by today’s technology was also etched onto the back.

“This is a drachma.” He passed me the golden coin. “It’s something like a dollar in our currency.” Similarly, the drachma had the intricate designs printed on the leptae coins. “These are Sylvan Notes, Syls for short. They come in denominations of fives, tens, fifties, hundreds, thousands, five thousand and ten thousand. Looks like I only have these four variations of notes with me. The thousands are pretty hard to find anyway.”

While I inspected the Syls, Lysander kept the coins. The five Syls note was a pleasant green, with Steelthorne’s ironwood printed at the back. 10 Syls had a blacksmith from Mithrios, and with a fiery red color. An icy mountain range of the Valkyries was printed on the back of the 50 Syls note. A few species of flora and fauna were shown on the back of the orange 100 Syls note. I passed them to Lysander when I was done looking at them.

“The thousand Syls note is yellow, and it has an image of the Great Sages printed on the back, reading the stars. Ten thousand Syls have the various royal crests printed on it.” Lysander recited. “Cool.” I nodded, “Back to the map?”

“Next.” He circled the southern castle with his index finger. “The Court of Prodigentia, the kingdom of nature, and their season is autumn. They have the greatest variety of species of flora and fauna. Arcadius oversees the food supply of the Aether, as they are experts in the field of agriculture and livestock rearing. Their domain is any form of natural land. All animals are their sacred animal, and their element is earth. These Incendian volcanoes erupt and fertilize the plains.” The volcanoes promptly erupted and showered down some black soot onto the fields of crops, which were right next to the volcanoes.

“And finally, The Court of Alysworth. The Winter Court.” He tapped the eastern palace. “The Crystalis, in the majestic town of Elysium, is the most beautiful palace in all of the Aether. Haha, who am I kidding. Everything there is beautiful. The women, the buildings, the scenery, the sirens. Heck, even the guys!” He laughed at my wide eyes. “Hey, I have a girlfriend by the way.” He chuckled. “There’s nothing wrong with being gay.” I blinked. Now I wanted to see this place.

“Yeah,” He continued with a twinkle in his eye, “All descendants of Valkyrian blood are great warriors, which means that those who aren’t accepted into the Royal Valkyrian Guard are accepted into the Royal Guards of the other Courts. They have the best steeds in the land, priced in the hundreds of thousands. Their element is water and ice; their domain is the sea and the Abyss. Their sacred animal is the frostprey and the pegasus. We’ll continue during lunch.” He yawned and continued reading the papers.

“Okay. I’m going to take a walk around the manor, if you don’t mind.” His head shot up. “Manor? Pfft. This place is tiny.” He rolled his eyes. I rolled my eyes, stretching, “If you say so.” I rose to my feet. “Your wounds should have healed by now.” He said. I stopped mid-stretch. “Oh.” I said with realization. “Thanks?”

He laughed, then looked back down at the papers. I set off to explore the first floor. The kitchen took up the back of the level, followed by the dining room, then the living room. A large bookshelf lined the wall behind us, on both sides.

I went up the stairs to the mezzanine. “That’s my room, by the way.” He said without looking up. “Right at the stairs?” I looked down to see him nod. The second door led to my room, so I decided to push open the third door at the end of the corridor. It was another room, like mine, but it had a black wallpaper with silver, Caribbean green and icy blue damask designs. I entered the walk-in cupboard to find dresses of all types, and several dress shirts, vests and pants for ladies. The bottom shelf had a variety of covered shoes.

“Is this your girlfriend’s room?” I shouted. “NO.” He yelled back, “IT’S YOURS.” I sighed, “Seriously? How do you expect me to fit into these?” I pulled out a pair of ladies’ pants, the end not even reaching my ankles. He shouted again, “THAT PERSON IS COMING SOON; YOU’LL SEE FOR YOURSELF.” I exited the room. “Alright. You can stop shouting now.”

“ALRIGHT.” He yelled, “Heh. Just messing with you, pardner.” I rolled my eyes and went into the toilet at the end of the corridor, next to the third door, since there were no other rooms to check out. I closed the door and took off my bandages, turning around to see that most of them have scabbed over already.

Some had fallen out, showing a darker patch of new skin. So, this was the healing power of ambrosia. If it could so this, could it heal old scars?

I buttoned up my shirt and walked out to see a pair of floating gloves waiting for the stained rolls of cloths in my hand. “Oh, thanks.” I murmured. It is my pleasure, your Majesty, the gloves signed. An old friend had taught me sign language as a kid for fun, and I guess it just came in handy. The gloves sped over to the laundry area in the kitchen.

I slid down the mahogany banister of the staircase and landed on the deep red carpet. “Well enough to polish the banister for me, aren’t you?” I stopped mid-slide, halting my progress with my hands. He laughed at me. “Don’t worry. Our little helping hands are extremely immaculate. My, if there was an actual patch of soot on your shirt.” He reassured.

“Sorry,” I said, leaping off the bannister and sitting down at my seat. Maggie hopped onto my shoulder and sat in the gap between my neck and my shirt collar, trying to get warm. Birds liked me, but they never sat on my shoulder or head before. Maggie was surprisingly fluffy for a bird.

“It’s alright. I won’t bite.” He winked. I breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully he wasn’t actually mad. “It’s almost noon. And I’m ravished.” Lysander whined. My stomach answered for me. “The ambrosia takes up loads of energy to heal, so you should be hungry.”

Food was served to us by the gloves again. A plate of piping hot linguine was laid out in front of us, piled with a generous number of clams. “Ah, great. Seafood linguine in seasoned tomato puree.” He pointed out. Another pair of gloves laid down a few squares of Kleenexes and cutlery. The first pair returned with thick clam chowder.

I almost melted in my seat with delight, from the scalded tongue or the taste of the food, I couldn’t decide. “Mm!” I said with my mouth closed. “What?” He asked, eyebrow arching. Since my mouth was full of food, I could only give him a thumb’s up. “Oh dear,” He frowned, suddenly looking concerned. “I should have gotten you earlier, but that would mean that I would turn into a pile of ashes. Unfortunately, the Great Sages set a cumbersome charm on you that could only be broken on your eighteenth birthday. They like cliché stuff, I know.”

I nodded, suddenly remembering something. “Yeah, I read that in a letter I got when I was five. I’m glad you did get me though. If not, I would have been stuck in that hellhole for the rest of my life.” I sighed.

“Yeah, I know.” He continued eating, not meeting my eyes. “It’s not anyone’s fault. I assume you couldn’t do anything about it. How did you find me though?” The rest, though unspoken, was understood perfectly. “Imogen sent a letter stating that she would hand you over to ‘someone trustworthy’,” He spat the words out. “And that person was supposedly one of the Aetherians that she got to know growing up. So, I guess I just tracked him based on his personal information. Somehow, he managed to hack files to state that he was your legal guardian and claimed you when you were seven. He enchanted his manor so that tracking devices and any sources of glamor. You know the rest.”

“It’s a daily re-application of the anti-glamor charm. Yesterday, he forgot to do so, and I snuck in. I told the human police of this world, but they don’t know who was the kid that was being abused. He’s been sentenced to a lifetime of prison. But he has the bragging rights of making the headlines, I guess.”

It was great that he was in prison. But that wasn’t enough. I didn’t care to keep my greed for revenge in check. Because I thought that he deserved to be chained to a rock have his guts eaten out by eagles.

Every. Single. Day.

One more chapter, and we’re done for today.

Chapter One: Rags to Riches

I’ve been writing this original book for nearly a year now. Since it’s pre-written, the readers can’t decide the ending. This was supposed to be up on the first Friday of the year, but nah, school and daily procrastination brings us here today. SINCE IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY (or 2 days ago for you Asians), I’m POSTING THREE CHAPTERS IN ONE DAY.
DISCLAIMER: If you don’t like gore, controversial topics, no religion, messed up main characters, weird universes unlike our own (you may not agree with the way the law works), I recommend you to find another book to read. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 
Also it’s a short chapter. CHAPTERS UP EVERY FRIDAY/SATURDAY. (It depends on which part of this planet you live in.) 
Enjoy. (THIS CAN ALSO BE FOUND ON WATTPAD AND AO3, check them out on my profile!)


“Would you like to know the truth, my child?”

“Yes, please!”

“Only if you’re ready.” She chuckled.

The five-year-old nodded exuberantly. The young lady pulled out a book from behind her back, handing it to the innocent boy. He grabbed the book, eager to read. He recognized the book as the lady’s journal. “This?”

“Yes.” She rose to her feet, grabbing her things that were packed neatly into a bag, “It is time for me to go. Remember this. Anything that happens next is for your sake, and yours alone. My best interests are in you, your Majesty.” With a grim face, she spun on her heel and left the small apartment. The boy sat on the pillow, staring at the door. He clearly didn’t understand, but remembered anyway.

She will come back, right? Oh, how wrong he was.

So, he opened the book.

It was empty. The middle was cut open, the pages stuck together. A small note sat in the neatly cut pages of the book box. The boy took it out and read it.

If you are reading this, I must have left already. Keep this letter with you and read it when you are older. You will understand the true meaning of my departure.

Your mother had entrusted you to me a long time ago, to protect you from the evil and the conflict. Eighteen years later, I was supposed to tell you about this, but that is too far. I must tell you early, so you understand, and will not detest me.

The rest of the words had their letters scrambling here and there. Strangely enough, the words seemed to be buzzing around. He flipped to the next page. The last line was the clear.

Thank you for all that you have done for me. I wish you a blessed life ahead of you. This is the last time you will be hearing of me.

He felt betrayed. He wanted to cry; he wanted to scream, beat his head on the floor until his head split apart, and then… But he didn’t know what to do. So, he just sat there.

The sky crackled ominously outside. The kid dropped the book and climbed to the window, peering outside. The lady could be seen 20 floors below, walking away from the apartment block. He looked up to see swirling black clouds, then a bright flash streaked downwards. He cringed, clapping his hands to his ears. The woman trembled, covered with soot. Another bright flash of light, and she was down on her knees. Another, and another.

When the boy opened his eyes, all he saw was a pile of ash where she stood, the dust flying away in the wind.

“What did I do to deserve this?” The eighteen-year-old yelled, pulling on his chains that were attached to the walls of the basement. The light swung, making screechy noises. The razor tipped cat o’ nine tails sliced deep into his back, splattering blood onto the stained floor. He gritted his teeth.

“You took your first breath.” The voice cackled, going for another whip.

It seemed to go on for hours, until he passed out.

A sharp pain exploded in my back, jolting me awake. “Fuck, ow.” I wheezed, gritting my teeth. My voice was muffled in something soft. It was a soft feather-filled pillow. A pillow…?

I should be sprawled over the basement floor in my own blood. My back was tingling with the recent application of antiseptic. With all the effort I could muster, I pushed myself up and turned on the lamp. Three rolls of bandages sat underneath.

As I tried my best not to scream while bandaging myself, focused on studying my surroundings. The walls were covered with pale and dark blue damask wallpapers, a chandelier hung from the ceiling. The room was furnished with mahogany chairs, beds and tables; padded with velvet.

It was the most expensive room I’d ever seen. I got up, satisfied with my makeshift Egyptian mummy shirt. A door on my left was ajar. The toilet was fantastic. There was a nice bathtub, sink and toilet bowl, all of which shimmery white and clean. After washing up, I entered the walk-in cupboard. To my absolute horror, it was filled with dress shirts of all colors and designs, matching ties and suit jackets, a row of shiny black and brown suede shoes. No shirts, jeans, converses, hoodies. I didn’t feel like dressing up today, but it seemed like I wasn’t given a choice. I frowned and pulled on a plain set, minus the jacket and tie.

I pushed open the door, careful not to tear open my wounds. I leaned over the banister to see a copper brunette in his thirties reading the New York Times. “Morning. Come down and have your breakfast.” He said.

I took my time to go down the stairs and sat down cringing in pain. “Don’t feel like eating. Stomach’s all screwed up. I don’t eat much for breakfast anyway.” A floating glove lifted the metal dish cover in front of me. “You’ll have to get used to seeing that.” He chuckled at my wide eyes of disbelief. I poked the white gloved hand. The hand waved at me, then shook my hand. The glove was smooth and velvety, and strangely warm.

“Oh, my god.” I breathed. He laughed again, putting away the papers. His cheery amber eyes twinkled at me. For some reason, I knew that he was someone to trust. He wasn’t seeding the idea in my mind.

There was a large glass of thick golden liquid sitting on the placemat. I picked up the glass and examined it further. “That’s ambrosia. Drink of the immortals in mythology. Mortals who drink this incinerate their organs. Why don’t you give it a shot? Here’s some encouragement. We aren’t exactly mortals. Don’t believe me?” He raised one eyebrow, taking a sip from his own drink. “Ahhhh! I’m burningggggg!” He shrieked, trembling, then bursting out into laughter. “I actually got you. Come on! Give it a shot.”

I blinked, then sipped the liquid. Surprisingly, it tasted just like warm honey. “Now that you are one step closer to believing me and understanding, let me introduce myself. I’m Lysander Montgomery, advisor and informant of the Court of Steelthorne. Nice to see you again after eighteen years, your Majesty.” He chuckled and flourished his imaginary fedora with a bow. I barely understood what he said, but at least I got his name, right?

“Someone called me that thirteen years ago,” I sighed. “She tried to leave, then was smited to ashes because of that.”

“She was your mother’s last maidservant. All the faithful members in her entourage have died trying to preserve your lives. Okay, maybe not. I’m not dead. Unfortunately, she was the last resort, and since everyone else that knew about how to survive in this realm died, you were entrusted to her and she left you when you were five? I thought she loved you like her son.” He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

“Yeah, she did. Or at least I thought she did.” I sighed, recalling the great flash of light and the pile of ashes that drifted away in the wind. “‘Forgive me, it is for the greater good.'” He falsettoed. I nodded. “Typical Imogen.” He scowled. “It’s your turn. I’ll explain later.”

“I’m Ryan Steele. You know the rest. Since you know more than I do, you should go ahead.”

“Nearly there. You were given a pseudonym. Unfortunately, your life up till now has been a lie.” He smirked. I suppressed the need to gasp like a girl and faint. Instead, I laughed. “It’s a tradition for names of royalty to be a mouthful. Fortunately, I’m a lord’s son, so it’s easy to pronounce. Anyways, your actual name is Rythian Azrael Steelthorne. As you would realize by now, I serve you and your family.”

“I don’t think I should believe you, but I do anyway. The name’s too long; just call me by the first name I already use.” I said, placing the empty glass on the table. Moments later, the gloves picked up the glass and floated back to the kitchen.

“Please explain everything, because I barely understand what you’re saying.” I pleaded.

He chuckled again. “Sure. Ahem,” He cleared his throat.

“Let me tell you of a world closer to this one than you think.”

Get ready for the long ride to hell with our fucked up main characters.