The morning was slowly transitioning into afternoon. Yet there were still a few more hours of morning to be relished before midday had its turn across the planet. The hustle and bustle of the castle had been in full swing for a while now, but it had been a lazy morning for those who had been chosen as caretaker of an entire species. There was a reason for some to celebrate, and for others to plan a revolt.
The chamber staff had been awake for hours to prepare the Royal Staff for their coming day. Salvene was the first to rise from her sleep. The dreams she had been having lately disappear in little wisps of smoke the moment she opened her eyes. This morning had been different. She remembered every detail of her dream, right down to the birth of her son. Her dream was more of a re-enactment of the day she had given birth to Dice. Of course, she didn’t know his name at the time. Nicandro had insisted that the child be named “Amun” which, in their tongue, meant “hidden”. He was the illegitimate child of Salvene and Nicandro, Nicandro being King Thadio’s twin brother. Little word had ever been mentioned of the second child that found its way through Salvene’s birthing canal only one minute and forty two seconds after Dice had first filled his lungs with Gijarian air.
Everyone in the shrine where Dice had been born were too engaged into the bastard that lay on the cold, bloody stone floor before them all to even notice that Salvene had a second child. It wasn’t surprising, really. The Royal Family had twins all the time. Birthing twins was interlaced in their genes. The second child, a girl, had thought to be stillborn. Salvene meticulously covered the baby with her bloodied gown as she sat on the stone floor with her legs spread widely underneath the material. Nicandro and Thadio were absorbed in their testosterone-filled conversation about what was to be done with the first child that they weren’t paying attention to Salvene and the second child.
Once Thadio and Nicandro had left the Shrine with Dice, Salvene was alone with the Ma’at Priests in the Temple, in her Shrine to The Stones. The priests quietly attended to Salvene as she remained sitting on the floor in a pool of her own blood. They cleaned her up and took the still born to Anapa to properly discard.
Salvene has never laid eyes on that second child – the girl – until last night when she had dreamed of her. In fact, the birthing of Dice had been so traumatic that Salvene had almost but blurred out all memory of the event completely. She stared at her reflection on the golden doors leading out into the castle halls across the room from where she sat on her bed, and she whispered, “What happened to my daughter?”
It was true that all involved thought the girl had been dead upon birth. There was no obligatory crying as the baby takes its first breath. It would have been better had the girl been dead, for her fate as an infant would have been Gamgijar; the dark planet where all females are to live out their lives, even the Royal females. Yet she had never been properly shown a deceased body. There had been no funeral. It was almost as if the female twin to Dice had not been born at all – alive or dead. Only Anapa would know the truth. Salvene didn’t have anything on her agenda for the day just ten minutes ago. Now she had an item pop up on her list of things to do. She would be visiting the Ma’at Temple today.
A faint knock on her chamber doors had burst thoughts about the day of her daughter’s birth into tiny fragments that escaped into a sigh of relief in the back of her consciousness. The cause of the knock did not wait for acknowledgement, but rather knocked more as a warning that they were about to desecrate her space whether she liked it or not. This time she liked it. It was her son, Malachi.
“You are stirring so very late this morning, My Darling. What brings you to me?” she asked her son.
Malachi walked the massive expanse between the doors to the chamber and his mother’s bed. His talons clicked on her marble flooring the entire way, until he reached the rug of fur that her bed sat upon. Mentally, he had taken note how much he liked that fur underneath his talons and would like to get the same in his chambers at some point.
“I’ve been up since my brother had decided to shine the Gijarian sky with his radiance. My entire living quarters was if it was day instead of the night,” he replied to his mother as he sat on the bench at the end of her bed.
“I had not noticed that Rubone was still here on Gijar. Didn’t he go back to The Twin?” asked Salvene.
“The other brother, Queen Mother,” he corrected her quickly.
“Dice is here on Gijar?” asked Salvene. She pretended not to notice when, in fact, she had noticed the very moment he had arrived. It was sort of hard not to notice his entry last night.
“He is. He’s been flying around the skies. I suppose he’s just getting used to the mechanics of his wings. I remember those days, myself. His joy will be short-lived, however. The Waryn aren’t fond of his freedom in the skies.” Malachi said.
“Has he settled into his place at the Temple?”
“That is unknown, Queen Mother. He hasn’t occupied the Temple long enough to settle,” said Malachi as he turned his head in his mother’s lap to view the skies from her window.
Anapa witnessed the party of Royalty and Waryn as they flew toward the West towers. Those were the towers reserved for his Worship until suitable housing for a prophet could be found. The trouble was, there was no other suitable housing for someone in Dice’s position other than the towers that stood above the one Temple reserved to revere the Stones – the Gemin Gods. This was not the Temple that should be housing a Prophet, even though he is a direct descendant of the very Gods the entire population on the twin planets worshipped.
The dilemma, as it seemed to Anapa, was that the Stones have a different agenda for Dice than where the Head Priest of the Gemin would like to steer the young one. The Stones are all well aware of the virus that seethes within their craggy rib cages, yet their solution to their dilemma is what, according to Anapa’s way of thinking, hinders the Gods the most. Their anger toward the source of the original virus has been misplaced; mismanaged. Clasping his hands together, Anapa moved closer to the only portal in his chambers to watch Dice express himself in the Gijarian skies. “Ahhh, to be so young and powerful again,” whispered Anapa, “this time we’ll get it right.”
Nicandro was just a few feet behind Dice in the air as feathers, both gold and white, were frantically beating against the cross currents. “I must insist, for your own safety, that we head back into the Temple,” yelled Nicandro. He would’ve just thought this sentiment to his son, but Dice was currently singing “The Star Spangled Banner” in his head to quell the white noise of everyone talking to him at once. That ‘everyone’ also included Nicandro.
“I’m not going back in there yet, I have to find Marcus!” yelled Dice. He didn’t turn his head so his father, who was behind him, could hear him. Dice figured it was his tough luck if he couldn’t hear what he was saying. Dice was the one who was new to this flying thing. Nicandro has many more years experience at it, he should be better equipped, physically and mentally, to keep up –and catch up – to Dice. Dice figured the best he could do was make his announcements. It wasn’t his fault if his Father couldn’t hear him.
“You must head back, I beg you.” Ok, so Nicandro could hear Dice from the short distance. Dice made a mental note of that. He wasn’t sure why he was making a mental note of it, he just figured he would need this little bit of information in the future. Nicandro has great hearing. Noted.
Dice stopped in mid-flight to turn and face Nicandro. The entire trailing party slowly came to a stop around the Prophet. Nicandro was in front facing him as the Waryn dutifully filled in the open expanses around the white-feathered creature. They all hovered in the air as the two, Father and Son, stared at one another. Nostrils were flaring as they tried to grasp not only their breath, but their composure as well. Dice understood fully well that the ground levels and the floating rocks were witnessing this exchange between the old power force, and the new one.
“You must understand the implications of your actions. You are no longer a Human out for a joy ride. There is protocol to adhere to,” started Nicandro, but Dice stopped him in mid-sentence.
“I understand that. I DO!” darted back Dice, “What you don’t understand is that I have been flat on my back for more days than I care to even remember. My back was beginning to become one with the mattress. I thought my life, my dreams, my aspirations…all of it, I thought all of that was over. Then you give me wings and tell me that I can fly. No one I know can fly. This is like telling me I can take my helmet off on the surface of Mars and tell me that I’m the only one that can breathe. Do you know what this does to a person?” asked Dice, but he didn’t wait for an answer, “You can’t give me wings and tell me I can’t fly. You aren’t allowed to give me a super power and then revoke my privileges. You gave me a gift, and I thank you so much for this, but you can’t ask for it back while I cling desperately to the bow.
I’ve dreamt of this, Nic. I used to lay in chronic pain wishing for sweet relief from the burns and the anguish of a life that had slipped through my bony fingers. I dreamed of a better world, a better way, a better me. This is what I dreamed of. This moment right here,” Dice pointed down to the very spot he was hovering in high above the Rayelm Plain. He paused to look at the faces of the Waryn that had surrounded him while he was delivering his dialogue. They were all expressionless. The pain Dice had gone through in his Earth life was nothing compared to the pain they had all experienced to become a Waryn. Of course, Dice knew nothing of the Waryn history. He never thought to ask how the guys in the red feathers actually got their red feathers. He just figured that’s how they were naturally hatched.
Dice turned to look at his Father at the exact moment Nicandro began to speak, “That’s all well and good, Dice. The fact remains that your safety remains in jeopardy the longer we are in full view of the entire population of Gijar. We must head back to the Temple to brief you on how we must continue to conduct ourselves, and how you must conduct yourself with..”
Nicandro didn’t get to finish his sentence before Dice bellowed, “Fucking pleasantries! I’m not ready to learn pleasantries right now. I just want to fucking fly! And I want to find my brother who I love like no other. Why is that a problem!?” When he asked that last question, Dice placed his hands out to sides with his palms up, his face had turned to the heavens, and his wings spread to their fullest extent. This fluid motion caused electricity to consume the sky. Nicandro could smell the voltage streaming through the wind. The Waryn could feel the electrons sizzle at the base of their feathers. Dice’s aura had brightened, even brighter than it had before. The thin Stratus clouds began to beat and thrash around the group high in the sky. The moment that Dice placed his hands palms up, and began to raise his voice as he questioned his current predicament, flashes of light emanated from deep within his being. The light sizzled and crackled and spit as his anger freely welled up inside of him. Within mere seconds, Dice had been enlarged to the most brilliant ball of energy that anyone on Gijar had ever laid eyes on, and then reduced to hundreds of flashes of light.
The flashes of light stretch far and wide. Dice’s entire being had been consumed by the force of nature that was being played out in front of the Waryn and Nicandro. The Waryn had covered their heads and faces for safety’s sake while Nicandro just looked up in awe and amazement – laced with disappointment. He was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, his son as a Prophet was a cruel joke being played on him by the Stones to test his patience.
Dice had burst into an electric ball of energy, stretching his kinetic tendrils from one cloud to the next in speeds that cannot be measured by Gijarian scientists. Nicandro had been correct, the entire area below, where the gathering had been taking place to watch the action in the skies above, were witnessing this marvel. Anapa in his humble chambers, Salvene and Malachi in Castle Castora, and all of Rayelm below watched as Dice disappeared into bolts of lightning. The clouds had all banged and merged to create a sonic boom so loud that the noise alone shook the very foundation hundreds of feet below the planet’s surface.
And then the rain fell. The town folk on Firma felt compelled to dance in the gift from their Prophet. Lightning flashed far and wide while thunder announced the arrival of the rainstorm. Nicandro hovered transfixed. He never would have imagined the offspring of his loins would be capable of such a retreat, yet here he was…being soaked in all that had now become Dice. Nicandro had followed Dice from birth until this point. He had known his son was a hot-head at times, but never in this extreme. He lowered his gaze from the clouds and the rain to look silently upon the Waryn awaiting their orders while their red plumage was being battered by the weather. “Let’s go make sure Marcus got back home to Earth,” he commanded as he led the troops to Castle Castora through the raindrops.