Writing Challenge: A Brighter Light

by V Rose Dahrke

Hokay.  So.  I realize that last week I broke a whole bunch of the new rules I laid out the previous week, but I kinda had a scratched cornea.  It really, really sucks to type when you’re both a) wearing a poorly fitting eye patch because apparently they don’t sell gnome sizes at Wal-mart and b) sensitive to light, so while I did hand write a draft it never made it onto the actual blog.  Story of my life, kids.  I will try to clean up said post a bit and have it up next week.

Instead, as a blood offering to the insatiable Blog Lords I offer up my entry for Sonia G. Medeiros’ July Writing Challenge.  Not sure that it makes much sense or totally fits the prompt, but here you go.

A Brighter Light

There is a goblet in my hand and a thousand eyes upon me, but I hear the echo of a fear-dark whisper:

“Your regents want you more than dead.”

I turned, incensed. “Twice tonight I’ve warned you not to speak to me with such familiarity, and now you accuse my brothers of such…”

“For godsakes, not so loud!”

“Who are you to swear at me? How dare…”

“Nazarel, listen to me!”

“No!” My mother’s sword, the sword she warred and ruled with, the sword she threw herself upon, had found its way from my hip to my hand. I advanced on him, the point of the blade leveled at his throat. “How dare you come to me like this, ambush me in a darkened courtyard, hiss your treason to me? I liked you; I did. My parents trusted you, my brothers trusted you, I…”

At the word there was a flare of agony in eyes I had never before noticed were green. He dropped to his knees at my feet. “Kill me quickly, then.”

“What?”

With two long, delicate fingers the scribe reached up, grasped the star-licked blade, and pulled it down beneath his chin. I heard the metal hiss, burning skin; its power was fiery agony to those not destined to wield it. “When I stopped you, you were on your way to the Rite of the Void. Tell me, what happens tonight?”

“We celebrate the new moon.”

“How, my queen?”

“We feast. There is a ceremony and a toast. A table prepared for the Void.”

“What else, noble queen?”

My hand shook. “Any traitor abiding in the prisons is executed. A soul offered to the Void tonight will live a hundred thousand lives, each more painful than the last, and will never cease to be, never join the Void, never find the rest of oblivion. A man who dies on a night with no moon is damned.”

“A poet who lies,” he said quietly, “whether about your danger or the color of the sea, is such a traitor. If you for a single instant believe I’ve lied to you, kill me.”

“You would risk eternity to be heard?”

“If that is what it takes to save my queen from the same.”

“If you’re lying, I kill you. If you’re not…”

“They’ll kill me for warning you.”

“So what,” I asked, lowering the blade, “should I do, honest traitor?”

“Call me honest or a traitor, but drink no wine tonight.”

Sword sheathed, I turned to leave. “Veritane,” I called, looking back from the door. He raised his head. “If you were honest, I’ll call you king.”

So here I and the question stand: Do I trust blood or loyalty? What will I risk?  Raising my eyes to the stars, I wish dearly I had brighter light by which to see.

“My queen,” asks a brother gently, “is there something wrong?”

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