Go To Chapters 2+3
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Amadea and the Divinity Blade
Power gathered around the sorceress until she shone as brightly as a radiant blue sun. Meanwhile, five expert swordsmen, another expert swordsman who was also a powerful sorcerer, and a second sorceress all fought valiantly to protect her, and buy her time until she was ready.
One by one, the invincible warlock killed or severely wounded all until only the radiant blue sorceress was left, but they had given her the time she needed to invoke the Goddess' power that was necessary to defeat the warlock. She focused on him completely, and cast every last bit of the power she possessed at him, destroying him, and sending the source of all evil he had successfully summoned not ten minutes ago back into its eternal prison. She vanished as the light from her power faded into near blackness.
The sorcerer, who would now have more scars to add to the ones that already adorned his body, making him look like a freak – if he lived – noticed that only one of his companions still lived, but just barely. He sent the majority of his remaining power to her in an attempt to heal her, but passed out before he could determine if he had succeeded. He hadn't had a chance to move to stable ground, and fell into a deep hole that had been created by the evil when it was summoned.
Had he been conscious enough to think, his last thoughts would have been acceptance of his death, happy to face it knowing that he had at least helped to prevent the source of all evil from being released into the unknowing and unsuspecting world.
The second sorceress – recipient of the last of his power – had only a glimpse of him wobbling precariously before she blacked out. She awoke several hours later to find five of her companions dead, and two missing. She had no choice but to return home, mourn, and maybe write down what had happened here this day.
Today was the day that the Emperor's heir would be chosen, and all who were eligible were gathering to have their worth tested. The 16-year-old Princess, Amadea (Ah ma day ah), held still while the healer uncomfortably examined her to prove she was still a virgin. The law stated that any female who wanted to be considered a candidate for the throne HAD to be a virgin, but no one would ever answer her when she asked why. After all, the men didn't have to prove their virginity. (Or even be virgins.)
The only other female candidate, Amadea's 17-year-old cousin, Lillian, didn't have to endure the exam as she had never been out of a convent since the day she was born. However, even if she had, she almost surely wouldn't have had unknown whereabouts for the previous year… As Amadea had. This was why the Princess had to submit to the exam when Lillian didn’t.
Finally, the healer pronounced Amadea a virgin, and the Princess was allowed to take her place next to all of the other candidates. She mentally reviewed her previous year's adventures as the ten men, and Lillian, each attempted to be considered worthy. She had known that a meek and sheltered princess would never be considered worthy to be chosen as heir to the Empire, so she had runaway on her 15th birthday in order to accomplish deeds that would reflect well upon her when the time came.
After running away, she joined up with a powerful sorceress and her companions, and traveled across the entire Empire – and then some – following rumors that a mad man was trying to free the source of all evil from the eternal prison the Gods had locked him in. The rumors proved to be true, and they’d arrived just in time to witness the evil's release – which they quickly reversed… but at a high price. Amadea had seen the sorceress vanish once the evil was successfully defeated, but then lost consciousness a moment later. When she finally woke, everyone else was dead, as far as she could tell.
One companion – a heavily scarred sorcerer Swordmaster named Zephyr – had been missing, and last she’d seen him, he had been standing very close to a chasm. She could only assume that he had been knocked into it just before the sorceress won, else why hadn't he taken her someplace to heal when he left?
It had taken her weeks to heal in a nearby temple dedicated to the Goddess of Healing before she’d had the strength to make the journey home, and she’d only stepped foot in the Imperial Palace three days ago. Barely in time to take her place as a candidate to the throne. A tear traced a path down her cheek, and she watched the last candidate ahead of her – Lillian – take her turn to be weighed.
So far, no one had been clearly chosen as the Emperor's heir, and Amadea could sense his frustration. He very much wanted to avoid having a female heir, so he had deliberately seen to it that the only two female candidates had been locked up their entire lives to prevent them from doing any great deeds to make them worthy of his throne. By law, any person between the ages of 16-36 at the time of the choosing with even a drop of royal blood in them was eligible to be named as heir to the throne. The Priestess of Prophecy determined the day of choosing by looking into a new ruler's soul on the first day of their reign to foretell when they would die.
The day of choosing is set exactly one year prior that, to give the heir time to learn all that he or she must from the reining ruler. The only exception to this was when a ruler’s predicted to die of old age, then the day of choosing is set for a year before the ruler's 60th birthday. The day of their 60th birthday is then the day the ruler stands aside for his or her heir to take over and be crowned.
Ironically, today was both, exactly a year before the Emperor's 60th birthday, and his death. He’d been an overly protective ruler, having been raised by his strict, traditional father. He was suppressive of women's equality – believing that they belonged as wives and mothers – but was otherwise a fair and wise ruler, and he’d had a long and prosperous reign.
Lillian sat majestically on the magical scale that had always been used to determine the heir to the Empire – ever since the very first Emperor, 1000 years ago. The scale raised her 3 notches out of ten above the Empire's most worthy citizen. He was a man who was widely regarded by all to be the wisest, smartest, bravest, and most peaceful man in the Empire. The scales had chosen him as such ten years ago when the Emperor needed to appoint a new Imperial Judge to oversee the Imperial Courts.
In order to be chosen as Heir to the Emperor, a candidate must be found to be more worthy than the Imperial Judge. So far, Lillian, a short and slender girl, was the only one to be raised so high against him. One of the men had been raised one notch, and one had been raised about a notch and a half. The rest had been equal to him or at least one notch lower.
One scrawny man had even weighed in at all 10 notches lower than the judge. This caused roars of laughter from the watching crowd of citizens. They had come from all over the vast Empire to witness the choosing of the heir, and had never seen anything as funny as a small beanpole of a man weigh ten notches lower than the judge who had to be at least 300lbs!
Yet, it proved to anyone who didn't believe in the magic of it that the scales did not move because of a person's bodily weight, but by the weight of their worth. Therefore, anyone who was lower than the Imperial Judge was not worthy enough, and whomever was raised the highest against him was the worthiest, and Heir of the Emperor chosen by the Gods via the magical scale.
So far, Lillian was winning, and Amadea could tell that the Emperor was cursing himself for having locked her in a convent, thereby allowing her a lifetime to curry favor with the Gods. The Emperor could not overrule the scales, and even if Amadea was raised higher, a FEMALE was going to be named heir! He growled in frustration, already envisioning the changes a female would create to the laws he had worked his whole life to correct and uphold. He was almost certain her reign would be as disastrous as the last Empress to rule's reign had been, over 100 years ago.
She had started out well enough – even though she had started by granting women equal rights to men – but had fallen in love with an ambitious sorcerer who had ensorcelled her so he could use her to rule the country. The sorcerer had had no idea how to be a successful ruler, and ultimately caused the individual kingdoms to go to war among themselves, nearly destroying the Empire.
Something similar had happened to almost all of the Empresses before her, but only happened to about 10 percent of the men. The current Emperor felt that it was because women were too weak to rule without a man, whereas a man was usually able to rule without a woman. He himself hadn't taken a wife until his forties, when he finally found a woman who was as well bred – and as meek – as he required, but she had only given him a daughter before dying in an accident.
Amadea was that daughter, and she stepped onto the scale confidently. In her heart, she knew that the Gods were going to choose her… unless they blamed her for the death of all of her companions. The new thought made her falter, trip, and collapse into an inelegant pile. The Gods couldn't blame her for their deaths, could they?
Amadea nearly cried out in despair over the prospect – she had nearly died trying to ensure their success! – but was stifled by the movement of the scale. A voice entered her thoughts.
"Do not despair so, little Princess. We do not blame you at all for the deaths of your companions, for we were attentively watching the entire battle. Rest assured we found you to be brave, and willing to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. We find you to be..."
The crowd released a collective gasp that sent a wave of shock through her body.
"Worthy," the voice finished, and receded from her mind. She looked to the middle of the scale where the notches were located; she was even with the seventh notch above the judge! There hadn't been anyone raised so high in an Imperial Heir choosing in over 500 years! The crowd cheered, and began to chant "Long live Amadea!"
Amadea blushed. She hadn't expected to be raised more than half a notch higher than Lillian! She knew that the only person to ever be raised all the way to the tenth notch in an Imperial Heir choosing was the 3rd of the only 12 women who had ever been crowned. (That they had records of, some of the records had mysteriously disappeared sometime after the last Empress' death, and hadn't been discovered as missing until it was too late to have them replaced, so nobody knew anything about the rulers during the time frames of the missing records.)
Also, it was very rare to be raised higher than the fifth notch when it came to anything, and anyone raised beyond it was considered to have done something that impressed the Gods. Amadea was still blushing, as she waved to the crowd, and the scale slowly lowered to its normal – equal – position. How could anybody consider nearly dying, and failing to protect my companions impressive?
Amadea's skin prickled as a light appeared next to her. It grew in intensity until it vanished abruptly, leaving a naked body laying in its wake.
"This is our gift to you," the voice entered her mind once more. "Confide in her, and let her teach you all she can."Amadea shed tears of joy, and gathered the sorceress into her arms. The sorceress groaned. "Did we win?"
Go To Chapters 2+3