Vrin Ten Mortal Gods(4)By: John Michael Hileman
“Leave him alone!” Kitaya screamed.
“If you do not interfere, little one, I’ll stop the games for a bit,” he stated smoothly, never taking his eyes off mine. I reached up to pry his hand free from my neck-- but his strength was enormous. “You’re not going to give me any trouble, are you, newbie?” He smirked, re-emphasizing his hold on my neck. “I am the ultimate ruler of this world. If you resist me, you will die. That is rule number one.” He released his grip and moved away.
I caught my breath and arose cautiously, eying him in case of further attack. I tried to take a non-threatening stance, so as not to invoke any further hostility to my neck. Or any other part of my body for that matter.
He paced back and forth with hands on his hips, an ominous figure of a man, yet unnaturally charismatic. He wore a strange suit of black and red rubber armor. His curly blond hair rested against his padded shoulders. And a scar ran diagonally across his right cheek. His eyes, like mine, were blue metal spheres. Cold and lifeless.
“Conspiracy!” he said, glaring at me and pushing his finger toward the sky. “You, with us no more than an hour and you’re already conspiring against me!
“Y-You must be mistaken.”
“Silence!” He drew up his shoulders. “I will not be made a fool! I know conspiracy when I see it!”
“You see conspiracy in everything, Rath!” Kitaya yelled. “All we want is to be left alone!”
He snapped around to face the girl. “Then why is it your troops stand on my border this very minute prepared for invasion?”
She stared at him in disbelief. “They are not there to invade! It is a defensive line. And it would not be there if you would stop your silly games!” Her lovely almond shaped eyes glared at him.
“Oh,” he said unexpectedly, his expression taking on an air of sudden understanding. “My apologies young lady, my mistake,” he said insincerely.
A horse materialized beside him and in one motion he spun and lifted himself onto its back. His cold eyes met mine as he leaned forward in the saddle. “I’ll be watching this one,” he stated with finality. The horse bolted off leaving a flurry of needles in its wake.
We watched until he was out of sight. “Wow,” I said, beating at my clothing to get the needles off. “That’s the second time I’ve been accosted since I arrived.”
Kitaya shook her head. “It is always something new with him.”
“So what do I do now?” I asked, feeling a renewed concern for my safety.
Kitaya looked up at me with a sullenness unbecoming of her beautiful face, and said, “Practice.”
THE CHILD KING
Since I wasn't quite ready to be on my own I decided to take Kitaya up on her offer to stay the night in her palace. She informed me that we didn't require sleep, so I figured this would be a good time to push for answers. I gathered she knew the condition of my memory and I hoped we’d be able to spend several hours discussing the questions plaguing me, questions like: who am I, who are you, and why don't we need sleep?
She left me in what she called her “living chambers” while she attended to her nightly routine, so I looked about and took in my surroundings. In the center of the large room was a huge stone fireplace, magnificent, though apparently unused. I circled the enormous structure. All four sides opened like insidious mouths complete with teeth running across the tops and bottoms. An immense chimney reached to the ceiling high above.
The rest of the room reflected the artistry and earthy motif of the village. The walls were alive with vines and vibrant flowers. A small stream gurgled along the base of one wall, emptying into a fountain in the corner. At the far end of the room thick glass doors stood slightly opened, revealing a balcony. The doors merged perfectly with the surrounding walls as though finished glass were a natural part of an outdoor scene. It was nature with structure, a work of art, and I wished to compliment the artist.
A servant brought a platter of delicacies for me to sample. I thanked him, he departed, and once again I stood waiting. I was anxious to find out what Kitaya knew about this world. I thought back to what Sajin had asked of me. He wanted to meet with Gaza because he thought Gaza could stop the war between Rath and Armadon. I wondered if Kitaya would agree. I also wanted to find out more about Rath. He was obviously unstable and apparently had a particular interest in me. This did not settle well in my stomach.
Kitaya entered and my thoughts evaporated. Again I tried desperately not to stare. She had changed into a thin silk evening gown with iridescent fabric clinging gently to her small curves. She gestured and I turned to see two comfortable chairs next to a crackling fire.
We settled in and I gazed at her radiance, desperately trying to bring my mind back to the questions at hand. She raised her arm slightly and began making a circular motion with her finger. Presently a cup and saucer materialized in her gentle grasp. The smell of sweet tea reached my nostrils, so I decided to make a cup of my own. First I visualized a cup and saucer, the threads formed the frames. I then added material, black porcelain with gold trimming. And finally the tea, Earl Grey, hot.
Kitaya spoke. “Are you feeling any more relaxed?”
“As relaxed as possible under the circumstances.” I took a deep breath. “I’ve been tense since I awoke-- but somehow in your company...” I gave a warm smile. “ I feel much more at ease.”
“That is good to hear.” Her eyes lit up. “You must have questions.”
“Indeed. Unfortunately they all fall into the same category of urgency, I hardly know where to begin. I guess, first and foremost, I’d like to know who I am.”
She frowned slightly. “I am afraid I cannot help you there but I do know what the people of this world call you.”
“And that is?”
“Sam’ Dejal, the god of reason.”
That's odd, I thought, the butler at the mansion called me Tardin.
“What’s your title?” I asked.
“I am Ki’ Janu, the goddess of the wood, or more accurately, the goddess of nature.”
“That is fitting. You do seem to love trees.”
“You mean because of the village? I created this village more for the people’s sake than for my own. Trees are wonderful and I like nature and all, but I would not consider myself connected to it in any way.” She shrugged and took a sip of her tea.
I studied her a moment. Then spoke again. “Do you remember anything from before this place?”
She shook her head. “I do not.”
“Then you must have been as confused as I was when you first awakened.”
“Hmm. Probably not. I did not have time to be. Rath was on me from the beginning.” She tilted her head. “But that is a long story, you probably would not want to hear it.”
“On the contrary, if you wouldn’t mind telling it.”
“Very well...” She sat up straighter and furrowed her brow. “Well, when I first became aware, I was in a large, lavishly furnished tree house.” She paused and her eyes took on a distant look. “I was reaching into a kitchen cabinet to get something but I could not remember what. I felt strange and everything looked so funny.” She paused a moment, then gave her head a little shake. “Anyway I heard someone knocking so I found my way to the front door and looked out. Just outside standing on a large branch was this magnificent looking man in dark glasses. When I opened the door he greeted me with a bow. I was instantly taken in by him, he seemed harmless enough, so I invited him in.” She looked at me and smiled. “After all I had a lot of questions.
“But listen to this. He convinced me he was a genie and that I had called to him in my dreams. At first I thought he was nuts, but then he took off his glasses, and, well I think you can understand why I believed him. He wove this elaborate tale about how he was genie to the throne and how his search for a bride had led him to me. He said he did not want to be too forward but he wished to court me. It would be a long courtship and in the end, if I was not completely taken with him, he would return me to my planet with whatever riches I desired.” She raised her eyebrows. “That sounded like a good deal to me.”
“So,” I interjected, “you didn’t doubt him at all?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I did not. He was very convincing and very handsome.” Her gaze drifted away again. “--No, I did not doubt him. So we traveled to the castle to meet the 'royal family' to whom, he said he owed his service and loyalty. And of course our means of transportation was a flying carpet. This made me believe him even more. He brought me into a room full of lavish gowns and expensive jewelry so I would be 'presentable' when he announced my arrival. I put together the most exquisite outfit: an elegant silk dress, white gloves, diamonds... When I was ready he escorted me to two enormous doors but before they were opened he gave me a blindfold. He said it was customary for the royal family to look upon the bride-to-be before she was allowed to look upon them.
“Finally when he opened the doors I could hear the voices of what I thought was the assembled nobility. He led me forward several paces into the room but then stepped away. As I turned to reach for him someone shoved me hard and I landed on my chest with my face pushing deep into something foul! I slid downward until finally I stopped and tore the blindfold from my head. Thousands of eyes were looking down at me from row upon row of a huge amphitheater. I was mortified!