The Sun rose early on the Gijarian horizon. Its rays of spectacular light crept across the hills and valleys of Firma only to reach the rocks floating high above Rayelm last. The Stones remained in their eternal slumber not quite noticing that a new dawn had begun. The bats that had been circling the floating rock in their nocturnal hunt for nourishment began to rush to and fro in a panic to shield themselves from the golden rays.
Dust motes tittered through the air to dance in the sunlight shining through the window of Salvene’s chamber windows. The chamber maids had long since opened the drapery to allow the morning sun to stretch across the regal marble flooring. The sounds of life were making themselves known in the expansive chambers high in the Southeast Wing of Castle Castora. Water was being poured into the bath in anticipation of Queen Salvene’s morning grooming. Waryn were marching through the halls guarding well those that slept behind the heavy golden doors. The kitchen on the ground level was preparing the morning meals for hundreds of the residents. The smells of morning cuisine was wafting through brick and mortar and bone to seek out the nostrils and appetites of those that were about to devour their fare.
Salvene laid on the bedding with her head on the feather pillows for a moment longer than she had anticipated to look out of her windows at Mount Idres. It was always so beautiful in the mornings. The sun was rising on the opposite side of the grand spectacle of Gijar making the west side so dark and foreboding. The four oblique walls were as mysterious as the secrets they concealed. Those ominous walls were now the new home of encouragement. She smiled to herself as she tried to remember a day that anything encouraging ever went on in that Mountain of gold in her lifetime as Queen of the Gemin.
She had held the title of Consort and Princess followed by Queen and Regent then Queen Mother and Queen Regent. Today she would add another title to her long list of monikers. She was now Mother of a God. This pleased her as she threw the heavy blankets of fur from her warm space in her capacious bed. The chamber maids attended to her every need as she prepared for the day ahead of her and the reunion with her first born. The day was bound to be a special day. She intended to enjoy it in little pieces so as to create visual snapshots in order to construct lasting memories. This was a day she did not want to ever forget.
Malachi woke to the sounds of the Waryn marching up and down the halls just outside of his chambers. They were conducting a shift change. Those that had guarded his family’s wellbeing during the night were now being relieved by their brothers of the new shift. The pigeons on the ledge of his windows were greeting the sun with their coo’ing songs and the deep, steady breathing of his chosen groomsman for the night’s tryst laying beside him all were playing the same melody of peace and tranquility in the castle. Not only did he hear the morning sounds throughout his chambers and beyond, he could smell the breakfast cooking in the stoves in the kitchen below, he could smell the pigeon droppings on his window’s ledge and he could smell the muskiness between the legs of the groomsman lying next to him. It had occurred to him at that moment that he didn’t even know the name of the groomsman. It was a given that the groomsman would know Malachi’s name, but not the other way around. He could hear the strong heartbeat of the sleeping hunk next to him. Malachi stared at the veins on the groomsman’s neck as they pumped fresh blood through the boy’s body. He laid there in the early morning glow wondering why he wanted to sex this young Gemin so bad last night and this morning he severely wanted to devour him. The urge to taste his flesh in a maniacal sort of fashion was overwhelming. A drop of sweat on the groomsman’s chest trailed its way across his nipple to find a spot to dry on his rib cage. Malachi leaned over to smell the sweat. He felt the heat emanating from the boy’s sleeping torso, his breath heaving his chest up and down in a slow rhythm. Malachi closed his eyes to enjoy the sensations of the gift lying next to him when the desire to eat seized all morality and common sense. He opened his eyes to confront the rage causing a storm in his soul only to see his groomsman looking upon his Prince with sleepy eyes.
“Good morning, My Prince,” he smiled as he stretched, unintentionally stoking the fire within Malachi.
“Yes, it is,” answered Malachi. His questionable hunger for flesh had hit a barrier. He quickly quelled it with guilt as the groomsman turned the tables on Malachi and began to eat his Prince in the manner of fellatio. Malachi laid back to let the boy eat, placing his hands on the groomsman’s head. Malachi’s lavender eyes slowly receded to their normal shade of blue as he met the morning with moans of pleasure.
His life was in a dismal uncertainty. At one point along the course to his adulthood Rubone was a contender for King of the Gemin. This would have suited him just fine. Although, he had thought back to how many other kings had black wings and a lack of feathers. He couldn’t think of one. He would have become the first Royal to occupy the throne of the entire species that had resided on Gamgijar. As the moons turned he became less hopeful and more skeptical of his right to reign supreme. He had actually come to terms with the distinct possibility that he would be kneeling in his brother’s presence and not vice versa.
Now, with the coming of the Prophet, it was certain his destiny was to remain on Gamgijar for the rest of his immortality. However long that would be. His thoughts scattered as he hung from the chambers rafters; thoughts of his brother and the newest addition to the family. The chambermaids were busy doing their morning chores below him with very apparent attempts not to look up. The sight of Rubone scared some of the fresh chamber staff who hadn’t come across the likes of him yet. His appearance was the placard of evil in their opinion. With his large black wings and lack of feathers adorning all those Gemin of Noble blood.
They’d truly think me evil if they knew my dirty little secret, he thought as he spied two chambermaids approaching directly below him, crossing the marble flooring in their daily ritual of pleasing their Prince.
His dirty little secret – the virus passed down through the Royal family from the days the idea of Mount Idres was conceived – flowed through Rubone’s veins with no opposition. He felt the virus creep in and take over his consciousness since he was a teenager. The virus permeated his soul by the time he reached adulthood. But, there was no one to share the experience with him. There was no one he could confide. The dirty little secret terminated lives of those that surrounded him. He had heard stories of the first Queen, Sokara, who had been banished for her carnage and butchery. He had actually assumed his Royal Parents had known of his massacres and that’s why they had sent him to the dead planet of Gamgijar. That simply wasn’t the case. Rubone believed his father knew the virus had become a part of Rubone, that much is true. It was becoming a difficult task to mask the hungry Shroud that accompanies the virus. Rubone had little control over his Shroud. He was certain that his father had witnessed the dark mist’s presence more than once. Rubone’s bitterness at becoming Lord of Gamgijar had fallen to the acknowledgement and surrender of his condition. Instead of fighting the virus, Rubone celebrated it. Although, he did have questions. The answers to those questions couldn’t just come from anyone for fear of his secret being uncovered. He had to ask the Ma’at. Anapa, the head Ma’at Priest in particular, would be an ideal candidate for the knowledge Rubone craved. He decided, at that very moment, that he would go pay a visit to the old man in the temple right after the morning’s necessities. With that thought, he stretched his black wings to shake the sleep out of them and then twirled from his inverted location to land swiftly onto his chamber floor below frightening no less than four of his chambermaids into squeals of intimidation.
Their reactions pleased Rubone as he headed to his washroom to freshen up for the day ahead of him.
Day had turned into night and then into day again as the Gijarian Sun resurrected over the horizon. Nicandro stood at the foot of the voluminous steps that lead to the entrance of the Ma’at Temple. The Ma’at Priests and all Gemin who wished to praise the Stones bypassed the one Gemin who would be king had he not been born second. He stood in quiet repose reminiscing of the past few days and nights. He has brought destiny to their front door. Hell…he brought destiny to their world. Up these expansive stairs lies the future of the Gemin and a new chapter to the entire Gijarian way of life.
But first he had to get his son, Dice, acclimated. There were lessons to be taught and learned before his son would even be able to be out on his own. Dice is part human after all and not from this world. Every aspect of Gijar would be foreign to him and would most certainly spark his curiosity. That, in turn, would slow down the process of what Nicandro was trying to accomplish by bringing Dice home in the first place. Years of planning this homecoming has come down to this precise moment. It was Nicandro’s intention to speed the “growing up process” along a little bit. Dice didn’t have time to be a normal Earth teenager. He wouldn’t be able to frequent night clubs or test out which pharmaceutical would best suit his mood at any given moment. There would be no binge drinking and no casual sex with strangers. Dice would have to concentrate on polishing his manner as the God that he is and then get to work using his newfound skills to eradicate the virus that plagues the twin planets. The sooner he could accomplish this giant feat that lay before him, the better. Spending time these past few months with Dice left Nicandro with a touch of worry and skepticism that this transition from human teenager to full-time Savior might not go as easily and smoothly as Nicandro had planned. His son has compassion to do the right thing, it was Nicandro’s duty to lead this horse to the proverbial water and then hope it drank without taking a piss in the entire river.
The signal from Mount Idres had come. He stared at the brilliant beam of light as it announced its presence in a brilliant blue hue. This was the moment he had been waiting for. Everyone in his general vicinity had also noticed the light streaming from the top of the mountain. All eyes had stopped going about their daily routine to turn to this magnificent display. Ooohs and ahhhhs were abound from the lips of the Gemin on the floating rock and Firma down below.
Nicandro turned to face the Ma’at Temple, spread his enormous wings and bypassed the rows of stairs altogether by lifting himself up to the top window of the Temple that was the quarters of the new King. “Let the games begin,” whispered Nicandro as he landed on the massive window sill of the Temple. He entered the room and then knelt with his head hung low as his son turned to acknowledge his father.
His chambers were barren. There wasn’t any grandeur to speak of in Anapa’s quaint – yet extensive – rooms. The sparse furniture that adorned his home for thousands of moons were made out of Gijarian stone and Firma wood. No art hung on the walls except for the monuments to the Stones. Anapa’s entire existence had been dedicated to those men forever dynamic within the mountain of Idres. His every thought, his every dream, his every breath had been dedicated to the twelve (now thirteen) Kings that he had been forever loyal to on their own accord.
He knelt in his room in front of his shrine to those very Stones he had served all these moons. It was customary for Anapa to concede free reign to his thoughts while worshipping the Stones. Allowing his thoughts to run freely while in silent repose to the Stones was his penance for unleashing a beast unto this world and to those worlds outside of his realm. He felt obligated to his entire race to eradicate the horror he had unwittingly unleashed, even if it meant his eventual demise in the end. If a sacrifice was what it took to rid the planets of the evil lurking in the shadows, then he would gladly offer himself on a silver platter with a side of plantains.
But it would not come to the end of his life. The truth was – there was no way to end his life. He had become immortal the night he healed Sokara and she rewarded him for his service with her kiss of hunger. He unclasped his hands not even realizing until this very moment that he had been clenching them very tightly until the bones in his fingers were aching and pools of sweat were trailing down his wrists. The pain he endured as he was being transformed that night should’ve been enough punishment for his mistake. He shook his head silently as he thought, “But it wasn’t. The virus wanted more. The virus always wants more.” He had tried to end his wretched, yet privileged, life many times to no avail. He would slash at the veins in his arms only to be astonished as he watched the very wounds he had just inflicted frantically sew themselves closed and then disappear in mere moments. He tried hanging himself. He only hung at the end of the rope, his feet inches from the ground, still breathing the night air until morning came around finding him in the same live condition he had begun the process in. He attempted drowning in the enormous bath only to realize he could breathe under water. Eventually he had given up on the idea of a quiet death to concentrate on how to live with his condition. And now, thirteen Kings later, he has come to face what should be the last and final king. The King of Kings. And that new king happened to be waiting in the chambers directly above where Anapa currently knelt begging the former kings for their guidance and wisdom.
The army of FEER was getting restless far below where the Stones eternally stood. King Thadio could faintly feel their hunger just as his own hunger was calling to him. The Shroud, also, was restless. The whispers of flesh filled the caverns inside Mount Idres. The Yerad standing as ward of the torches began to get nervous. He wasn’t privy to the thoughts and machinations of the Gemin, but his sense of alarm was creeping up his spine to ruffle the hairs on the back of his neck. The Yerad’s eyes had come accustomed to seeing in the dark. The welcoming rays of the Sun as it crept through the opening at the top of the mountain would force the creatures of the dark to find solace in deeper crevices to blanket themselves from that very Sun’s brilliant weapon against them. The Khepra lining the walls of Mount Idres scattered about to avoid the sunlight. The Shroud would be pushed deeper into the abyss where the tendrils of the sun’s rays could not reach. The Stones retreated further back into their skin of crag and crust of stone to better armor themselves from the glimmer of life seething through the opening so very high above them.
The lone Yerad within the chamber sat on the marble flooring with his back against the cold wall of gold where he eternally awaits the coming of visitors to the Stone’s Chamber. His sole appointment is to light the torches within the chamber so those that are not accustomed to the blanket of darkness are able to see. Today would be a lonely day for there were no plans for anyone to visit this sanctuary. There would be no fires alit by the hairy hands he was unconsciously wringing in front of him.
A single ray of the Sun’s light had crept across the great marble flooring adorning many hieroglyphs telling thousands of stories about the Gemin who had visited this chamber and revealing just as many secrets. The ray of sun had touched the large toe on the Yerad’s right foot. He allowed the ray to find its way across the top of his foot, across his ankle and then up his leg. He stopped wringing his hands long enough to introduce his left palm to the ray of light that had sought him out. The ray had tickled his fingertips. The Yerad grunted in pleasure. It wasn’t often that he could play with the sun that was forbidden in this Royal Sanctuary. And it certainly was a rare occasion when the sun would seek him out like it was doing today. He stretched his fingers even further into the light where the ray of the sun could meet his palm. The effect was warm and soothing. He had seen very little of the sun’s rays, but this time it was different. There was usually a yellow glow to the ray – golden, even – and it was almost usually warm. This time it was more of a clinical blue and ice cold. The Yerad allowed the ray to dance on the palm of his open hand for a time while he pondered the color and temperature of this strange light that had sought him out in the void of the mountain. It was at that moment he realized that this was not the sun at all who wanted his attention, it was something entirely different this time.
Just as he was watching the ray of light cavort on his bare palm, the very light that had crept in the dark to find him had bounced from his palm to careen off the wall to his right burning twenty to thirty Khepra in the process. The scarabs lining the wall of the chamber were now skittering to and fro to find refuge from this light the Yerad was apparently commanding. The light shone brighter, the beam’s radius broadened. In a panic the Yerad turned his palm away from the Khepra who were now screaming their emergency on the wall. As he did so, the light sliced through thick cavernous slag to cut through boulders that were to either side of the platform the Stones stood on. The boulder exploded under the tremendous pressure of the beam and fell to the abyss far below. It was a few moments before the Yerad heard the contact of broken boulder meeting the ground. He turned his palm toward the opening at the top of the mountain where the beam of light seemed to sing. He could hear it. The sound was like a chorus of virgins that he had heard once when he was a cub. The sound was magnificent. It filled his soul. He wanted more. He placed his right palm upward next to his left so that there were now two rays of light bursting through the top of the mountain. He had become a connection – a vessel. He sat for hundreds of moons waiting for his purpose. Today…this very moment…was his purpose. He wanted the chorus to sing forever.
The Tuning had begun.