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Metamorphosis Ch5: The Eyes by AliceGrimaude

Edgar Albert Young, Twentieth of Sun's Blaze
These gnoll guests of ours have proven a real task to deal with over the past few days.
Their Mother is a surprisingly gentle soul, but I have found myself frequently accosted from all sides no matter how well I perform my given duties.

Local guests can't get their tea soon enough, Ven wants his drinks, the gnolls demand their fire water and meat, and then the Arbiter's crew want to search every place in the castle related to the investigation about last month.

They will ask about Edgar soon enough, the poor fools.
Interestingly enough I've been placed on duty in the bath houses, to make sure our guests there have proper means of drying themselves off.
The smell of the gnolls might be terrible, but Ven….
It's like he takes his alcoholic smell everywhere with him, and his bottle of port accompanied him in his own bath today.

He spoke to me about love and hardship, his hatred for the Queen whom he regularly referred to as the “black cunt” and how he ultimately didn't see a way out of his position in the castle.
He wanted me to kill him, see if I was strong enough to take him out.
I eventually found my way back after enduring his long tirades cursing the queen and myself for letting him live.

The Mother saw me scuttling off towards my quarters, surely quite confused.

Later today I visited the young Prince upon Archibald’s request, accompanying him as we ate some fresh chicken and he let out some genuine feelings.
He said the dragon's words frightened him, and he feared what his mother would do to herself.
“She never truly conveys her feelings to other people, not even her own loved son.
But I can feel the tension in her voice, her heartbeat.”

I nodded and responded to him:
“Fear is a natural thing, especially when considering the high stature of this dragon: imagine a figure of authority like him foretelling my own fall to me.
I would be just as terrified as your mother would be, let alone you.
But remember that fear is a thing that may eventually pass: we all have to move on beyond things like these, no matter where our fates may take us.
Sometimes we have to do what we have to do regardless and damn the fear we feel inside.
I understand perfectly well why you and your mother would be afraid.
And with all these other visitors  -including higher authorities- who would blame anyone for being in the slightest on edge?”

I sighed, having finally been able to let out some of my own stress and fears in the process of attempting to console the fearful young prince.

After a few long moments of silence, he responded to me with more worrying words.

“Brann had to go look for a job elsewhere, mother said.
But in a vain bid to protect me from the truth she tells me lies.
The executioner got him. That is all he ever does.”

And I nodded, and I responded, my voice shaking to a slight degree;
“Yes, young prince, I am afraid he was claimed. And I saw it happen afore my very own eyes, too.
The executioner is the best in his field and I doubt anyone could ever compete with him in brute strength.”
I could feel his strength wavering as his stature waned.

“When we have him around, who needs dreams of terror?
Surely even the ruinous monarch would not hesitate to banish him from the world beyond.”

And he silently embraced me.
I could feel the warmth of his tears upon my shoulder, hear his soft yet distressed sobbing in my ears.
It makes me not grieve, not shout out my repressed anger or sorrow.
I do not grieve anymore, for my losses or anyone else’s.
This place has tarnished those feelings within me.
But it does make me feel rather ill deep inside.
What kind of a mother would allow a brute to rob her child of friendship, even if royalty values none?
No one deserves this kind of misfortune.

Edgar Albert Young, Twenty Second of Sun's Blaze
Some say the body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul’s tyranny.
I suppose this thought is one way of feigning some form of control over themselves, even if it is only one's own body and not the circumstances surrounding it.
But circumstances, lately, have reached far beyond my own control.
I am simply to write more mundane dreck to pretend to the outside world that my well-being remains as of yet uncompromised.

In the evening I was also delivered a letter from Daventry.

Sarah Deborah Young, niece of Edgar Young and fiancee to Edward Exter

To Edgar Albert Young

It has been a while since I last heard from you, I regret to write.
And the letters we received from you seemed so strangely distant, as if guided by someone’s insistence.

We cannot visit you under the risk of a war between Daventry and Esterland breaking out, we cannot see you or speak to you.

We know nothing about you, nephew, nothing aside from these letters escapes from the Royal castle you’ve been imprisoned in.

I pray to all Builders that you will turn out all right and that they did not harm you.

Myself, I am to be shortly wed to a young man named Edward Exter.
He is one of the Captain's nephews, but a fine man who has promised to help our family survive in these trying times.

A bit strange that a marriage with Daventry's prince could not be arranged, but I suppose this works as well.

Matthew, the other servant, has made a name for himself as Silvermane the Royal Sentinel.
He is still learning how to properly make use of the sword and shield gifted to him, but he has already been seen wearing his wolf’s head helmet and silver armour.
But I’ve also seen him wear his other skin out in public. A figure sculpted to perfection, and his calm demeanour shone through even in his more beastly form.
He must have noticed me walking with my fiancee, as he approached and bowed to me; none other even dared to stand within his vicinity, though his intentions are undoubtedly pure.
As he found himself greeted with fearful silence even from me, he decided to withdraw himself and return to his duty.
After my wedding I will sure to make a journey to Esterland so at least some of us might be able to visit you.
I will ask Jon and Edward to arrange something for me.

Your father also misses you greatly.
And it seems the stress has made him quite ill, despite our own improved circumstances.
He suffers at the mere thought of seeing you harmed or worse.
Signed, your loving niece.

Edgar Albert Young, Twenty Fourth of Sun’s Blaze
All the gods be damned!
I cannot possibly hope to deal with the demands of these useless oafs who call themselves the Daughters of Arnac’h, the demands of the Arbiter’s men and Ven being a useless cunt standing in my way as I try to deal with the pressure of all the people currently weighing me down.
Maybe it is simply a bad day, maybe all the bad news is only bringing me additional internal stress.
I nearly snapped a few times, though at least I had the decency to withdraw for a short while as I took the time to calm myself.
Busy days, busy people, busy everything. Just grant me a day of rest, please.

Edgar Albert Young, Twenty Sixth of Sun’s Blaze

There was a dream.

I found myself within a misty wood, silence enveloping my senses.
A white stag sped past me as it approached...a throne of sorts.
Upon the throne sat a black creature with many arms, a solitary eye making up most of its face.
The stag sat by its side, revelling in the majestic splendour of this commanding apparition.
But the throne...a spider’s carcass, likely withered and turned to stone over lengthy cimmerian aeons.
Whatever the case may be, the eye was gazing upon me.

For a while we just stared at one another, and all I could hear was his soft and tranquil breath.
Then the eye focused upon me, my senses dulled to anything else in my vicinity.
“Edgar,” he finally referred to me in a low and chilling voice, “or Terri. Whichever might please you more to hear.
Whysoever would you come to my domain, friend?
It is usually a servant who comes in contact with me through conscious will.
We have met before, though.”
It chuckled before continuing as it slowly rose from its throne, its feet a distorted mess I could not properly distinguish.

“All your pain and fears are within my grasp, but these are not all in a life.
I have seen your struggles with a sense of guilt: you blamed yourself for your uncle’s death, maybe if you had not been there he would still live.
Make no mistake. He was just another pawn of fate not unlike you or Michael or Silvermane.
Do not abandon the past, but also remember to build upon it the foundation of your future.”

And he...touched me with his frightening claw, which was surprisingly not all too cold.
It was almost a relief, calming in a strange way as he put it on my shoulder and approached me more closely.
I felt at peace in a very strange way, almost as if lulled into a great and profound slumber.

“Take care to remember: change has brought you misfortune, plunged you deep into a void of grief.
But change may also be the catalyst to realising your eventual freedom.
Never forget, even in vain, to hope. There may yet be opportunity to right some of the wrongs inflicted upon you.”

Suddenly I was surrounded; a grey fox with brown eyes stood beside me, Tamara on the other side, and the white stag seeming to smile as it affixed its blue eyes unto mine.
“The Eyes will never abandon you, Edgar.”

These were the last words I heard before I woke up, only to briefly shudder as I found Michael’s blue eyes staring back at me.
He had been standing there all along, watching my every move and breath.

Tamara was sitting on the chair at the table, eyes as closed as mine were the moment before.
And Ven was watching the door.

At four in the morning, I had been approached by all three of these individuals in the same room.
Nothing suspicious about this, of course.

Michael smiled as he approached me with his glowing blue eyes, extending a hand to pull me out of my bed.
“The Master has seen fit to choose you,” he said, “no doubt owing to your family name and the great archive that they held shut for centuries.”
And then the smile waned from his face.

“Unfortunately I must leave you to your fate, Edgar. I must convince my long-lost friend to rejoin me as the shades of the world reignite their struggle against those who would deface this world with their lust for endless power.
What the Queen seeks to achieve is domination through unnatural means, artifacts that bestow unspeakable might unto those who wield them.

He speaks of only one person who has ever managed to take hold of only one of these items from the Rift, and the consequences were so dire that the entire universe suffered its effects through the ages.
Caring not for the politics of this world or the next, this must never be allowed to happen again.”

After giving me a warm kiss on the forehead he leapt from my window, disappearing into the night without a sound.
Tamara then calmly approached after standing up from her seat, sitting herself down by my side and putting a hand around my shoulder.
She leaned her head into mine as she wrapped the blanket around us, allowing Ven to peacefully depart from my small chamber.
Though it took a while for my senses to properly register there was a searing pain around the area she put her hand on; something had been burned into my shoulder afore feeling as if it were frozen over.
Then I felt strange. My senses were failing me again, I felt as if something were surging through my body as it flowed from that frozen spot.
Her eyes were the brightest spots I could see in the dark.
Staring into my very mind as we came to share a kiss. What she did to me is impossible to describe in any words other than...I do not feel the same writing this.

The back of my right hand has a small blue eye on it now. I have touched it and shuddered as it sent strange sensations through me.
And I feel as though my eyesight has changed as well as the rest of my senses.
I can see with great clarity details from miles away now, as well as to hear the thoughts of those around me to some extent.

Tamara said to me that “the eyes cannot be seen by others”, which I suppose makes me safe in a strange way.
But as she wrapped her arms around me for one final embrace I could hear, feel her thoughts.
“May the keeper of dreams grant me one final chance in life. Someone to embrace and love, someone to have with me as I seek escape from this dreary realm.
Away from all this pain and deceit, gone from the fallen house of Kohn.
Grant to me and my brother a chance of escape.”

Finally I could see what she really looked like: nothing was truly different about her aside from the bright third eye that stared at me from its nested position in her forehead.

We lay the rest of the night together in bed, with Tamara explaining to me in great detail that she knew from the start who I was and where I was meant to go.
The third eye serves as a way to reveal secrets, but also dispels illusions whilst allowing one to harvest great power from magickal sources.

One must always take great care not to let the eye overpower one’s own will and senses, afore one turns into a mad beast to be hunted by other Night’s Eyes to prevent this world from being overtaken.
I do not know whether I should be referred to as a monster now, but the power that surges through undeniably quite the feeling, and it only feels better around her.

I should be tired, but I am not.
Tamara has left for her quarters and it is currently seven in the morning.
I will assume my role as servant once more and bide my time as I slowly work towards stopping the Queen’s intended plans.

Edgar Albert Young, Twenty Seventh of Sun’s Blaze
The Arbiter’s investigators demanded an audience with me, but could not secure one as, and I quote the Queen on this, “he is terribly ill”.
Instead they were pretty much forced to make do with my insanely mundane letters which I doubt anyone doing a serious investigation would be pleased with.
But the dead soldiers and my absence, according to some thoughts I was able to gather, would speak heavily against the Queen and her staff in a trial.

I could just casually assume she finds a way to pay them off so they would get off her back...for the moment being.

Archibald seems to have locked himself in his study for the moment, presumably busy working on some spell or other application of his power.
Or drinking his honey and cherry concoction, or drinking wine. Or just drinking, does it even matter what substance?

Unfortunately I did have a part in causing a small commotion in the guest hall when a gnoll referred to me in her own language as a “little subservient weakling”.
Before I could grab an iron candlestick and smash her wretched face in, the Mother gently spoke my name and embraced me as the rest of the large women seemed rather offended by this gesture, loudly so.

Thankfully their Mother was there to defuse the situation, not quite defending me for what she knew I was about to do but nevertheless still calling that young woman a fool for insulting a servant’s honour in their own domain.

After that she decided to sit down with me and gave me a glass of wine, asking for some company to tell tales to.

She told me tales of powerful warriors, of failed trade with other nations, of the times she talked with the wolf men of the north in a desperate bid to help the people below her.
She also told me, strangely, of how she remembered talking to Theodore Young when he was still a rather young man.
He and King Anthony were decent friends, and she usually got along with them aside from the occasional disagreement on various matters.

But she never understood the kings, dukes and lords and rules of succession.
The only rule of succession the tribes of the deserts and wastelands of the south had was that of the vote.
Leaders were chosen by a majority of people based on their proven leadership skills and wisdom, discarding the more popular traits related to blood or parentage as an irrelevancy.
As she said it ever so eloquently, “blood and heritage mean nothing when you cannot command respect from even the smallest child”.

So I asked her what would happen if a foreigner, one not of their own were to attempt to become a leader to their tribes.

She cackled loudly in response to this, patting me on the back of my head.
“You never know: maybe some of us would welcome such bold minds; though I think a cat might still be too just a bit too fragile for the desert life.”

Ven watched me from a distance, keeping an eye out for what he probably assumed must have been me struggling to contain my newly acquired power.

But Mother Radi’a correctly noted that she felt I was different from the time she earlier saw me.
“You will turn out well, Terri. But take great care not to have certain...changes turn against you and your friends.
The Queen is already one nightmare too many for our people; I wouldn’t want you to become another one.”

With that the aged elder left me. What she really thought?
“Maybe the boy could truly test her might.”

I suppose I could.

Metamorphosis Ch5: The Eyes


Chapter five of Metamorphosis.