The Only City Left: Part 49

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)

At the end of Part 48, Allin is remembering a fairy tale his mother told him once. In it, a princess was forced to marry a monster, who locked her up when she tried to steal his magic.

The Only City Left: Part 49

Locked in darkness, the princess would surely have gone mad if not for secret and risky visits from the monster king’s younger brother. Each day, he snuck in to spend some time with her and share the light from the orb that had transformed him into a monster. Knowing that the monster king had dispatched his other brother without a second thought, the princess asked the younger brother why he risked seeing her. He lowered his head and did not answer, but it was clear that he was in love with her.

In the times when he was gone and she was alone in the dark, the princess thought of him often. He was a monster and had not stopped his brother from committing countless evil acts. But where the monster king reveled in his crimes, his brother seemed ashamed of what he had become. Despite her misgivings, she slowly found herself coming to love the younger brother in return, for he was the only light in her dark world. Because of this growing love, the princess entrusted the younger brother with the secret she had kept hidden all these months: she planned to have her revenge on the monster king for his many misdeeds.

At first, the younger brother tried to talk her out of her plan, not out of any love for the monster king, but out of fear for the princess. The monster king was too powerful to fight. All who had tried to knock him from his throne had perished in the attempt. The princess would have none of this, though. She would not spend the rest of her life in servitude to the monster king, not when there was any chance of escape.

She asked the younger brother why the king’s magic orb had not worked for her and he explained that the orb alone did nothing. It only worked on those who had been cursed with a monster’s bite. Even then, the orbs would only work for those who know the magic words to unlock their light. The princess asked the younger brother if he knew where extra orbs were kept. As she suspected, there was a trove of them, and the younger brother reluctantly admitted that he could get her one.

“But it will be useless to you, unless…”

“Unless I, too, am cursed,” she said, and bared her neck for him.

When the month was over, the princess emerged from her dark prison as the perfect picture of submissiveness. The monster king was well pleased at the effect his punishment had produced. He would brook no misbehavior from his subjects, much less his wife. She obeyed all his commands and made sure he stayed in a good mood, for she feared him becoming suspicious and punishing her again before she could put her plan into action.

A few nights later, when his younger brother came to visit, the monster king was in such a boisterous state, he invited him in despite the late hour. He ordered his wife to serve them drinks while they regaled each other with stories of conquest. The princess could see how nervous the younger brother was, so she made sure to stay nearby and offer the monster king sweets and heady drinks whenever there was a lull in the conversation. The longer the younger brother could keep him talking and drinking, the better their chances of success would be. Soon, the king began to yawn and stretch his great arms above his head. The princess knew he would next demand that his brother leave so that he could sleep. The time was ripe to enact her plan. She could only trust that nerves would not prevent the younger brother from performing his part in this dark play.

The princess offered the monster king one last drink, and at the same time begged him to tell a story of when he and his brother were young, for she (truly) could not imagine them at such an age. Well into his cups and feeling benevolent, the monster king readily agreed to this nostalgic request, curiously glossing over any reference to their other brother as he told his tale.

While the monster king was thus engaged, the princess took a step back and produced the magic orb that the younger brother had given to her while she was in prison, which she had kept hidden until this moment. Speaking the magic words, she transformed into a foul monster and felt the great power of which the monster king oft boasted.

So shocked was he at his wife’s transformation that he lost the power of speech. Instead he roared in anger and stood up, ready to punish her severely for her crimes. He was in such a rage that he did not notice his younger brother move in behind him until he looked down and saw a great blade piercing his chest. When the blade was pulled back out, he turned around and asked, “What treachery is this that my own brother would wrong me so?”

Any doubts the younger brother had were erased upon hearing those words from the mouth of a fratricide. Both the princess and the younger brother took their revenge upon the monster king. They fatally wounded him, but before he succumbed to his many wounds he managed to call out for his guards. The princess and the younger brother were forced to flee before they could watch the monster king die, but as the princess was now a monster, too, they blended in with the other monsters and were able to escape the Garden unmolested. The End.

Mom didn’t like interruptions during the telling of tales, but once the story was over, I was allowed to ask all the questions I wanted.

“You didn’t say they lived happily ever after.”

“No.”

“Well, did they?”

“More or less.”

I was old enough to know that meant “not really.”

“Did the princess stay with the younger brother after they escaped?”

“Yes, I believe she did.”

“Why? I mean, he wanted to lock her up in a dungeon at first, too, didn’t he?”

“He did, and that wasn’t the only terrible thing he had done or would do, but the princess fell in love with him anyways.”

“I don’t think she really loved him.”

“No?”

“Sounds to me like she needed his help. Which is cool. But if it were me, I would have split after they escaped. All the brothers were messed up.”

Mom smiled and looked at the door. Still no Dad. She looked back at me and said, “Maybe that would have been the smarter choice, but things aren’t always that simple, Allin.”

She grabbed her backpack, stood up, and said, “Now let’s go find your father. I’m tired of waiting for him.”

* * *

Continue to Part 50.

1/20/13 Notes:

I printed out the first complete draft of The Only City Left recently and am in the midst of doing a red-pen edit and then making those changes in the master file. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time to be in this phase of the project. I’ve also started throwing out ideas for Books 2 and 3. Fun times.

For a quick way to show support (one click; you don’t need to sign in), please vote for The Only City Left at topwebfiction.com.

If you have a little more time and don’t mind registering first, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. 

You can also share The Only City Left by clicking on any of those handy social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

All these methods help to bring in new readers, which is great for moral support. Thank you for reading!

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Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 48

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)

At the end of Part 47, Allin is lost in memory again. This time it is of a fairy tale his mother told him once. But is there some truth hidden in this story?

The Only City Left: Part 48

The princess could not believe her eyes. Gone. Everything she had known was gone. Her husband could only stand by and watch as she kneeled in the ashes of the Garden and wept. When she had cried herself out, her husband suggested that they return to his home and inquire of his brothers if they knew aught of the Garden’s fate. Numb, she let herself be led away.

Upon returning to his home, however, he was astonished to find that it too had been transformed. Unlike the princess’ home, it had not been destroyed, though. Instead it had been turned into a mighty fortress that was patrolled by monstrous guards. In fact, everyone seemed to have become a monster. Seeing this, the princess and her husband sought to flee, but before they could do so, they were captured and brought before the fortress’ ruler. This turned out to be none other than her husband’s older brother, who had become the most powerful monster of them all.

“Welcome home, Princess,” said the older brother.

“I have no home,” she said.

“And yet I have named my kingdom the Garden, in honor of your town, which I destroyed.”

This only confirmed the princess’ suspicions, for who would destroy a peaceful town except for a monster?

“What has become of you, brother? What madness has seized you?” said her husband.

“No madness, only power. The power of the Fifth House,” the monster king replied. “I offer this power to you as well, brother, but in exchange, you must give me your princess.”

“Never,” said her husband, which was an act of defiance at once valiant and unwise, for the monster king lashed out at him and in the next instant he lay bleeding on the floor.

“Dispose of him,” the monster king said to his nearest guard.

As he knelt down to drag her husband away, the guard caught the princess’ eye and she saw in that monstrous face a hint of familiarity. This was the younger of the three brothers, she was sure of it. Once the two brothers, one living and one now dead, were gone, the monster king made the princess an offer: “You made the wrong choice when last we met, your highness, so let me make my intentions plain this time. You can become my bride now or you can share the same fate as your husband, your parents, and everyone else in your town.”

The princess considered his offer carefully, for the monster king was obviously a cruel man and life with him might be worse than death. In the end, she accepted his offer, vowing to him to ever be faithful while on the inside promising to have her revenge on him. The monster king cackled in glee and pulled the princess to him. She found him repulsive but hid her true feelings behind a mask, and the monster king was pleased.

Days passed and turned into months, and all the while the princess pretended to be a dutiful wife and servant to the monster king, who was either blind to the revenge that burned in her heart or did not feel threatened by it. She spent every minute of every day searching for clues as to how the older brother had become the monster king, but even though she was a princess and his bride, she was treated as the lowliest of servants and no one would speak to her of matters of import. She would have gone mad during this time if not for acts of kindness from an unexpected source: the king’s surviving brother. He had vowed to protect her if she chose him as her husband, and even though she had not, he was not angry with her.

The younger brother found moments throughout each day when the monster king was away or distracted, and he used these to talk to the princess. Each of these moments became a light in her otherwise dark existence. Eventually, she convinced him to reveal to her the secrets of how he and everyone else in this new Garden had become monsters. He spoke to her of powerful beings that had visited his older brother and made a bargain. The beings, who belonged to a distant kingdom called the Fifth House, gave the older brother a magical orb that allowed him to change into a monster, and more orbs to change others as well. In return, he and everyone he transformed would owe the Fifth House a favor, to be collected at a later time. The older brother accepted this bargain and, with his new monstrous powers, forced everyone he knew to accept it as well. The younger brother explained that without the orbs, the monsters would appear human again, but that the monster king had forbid them to change back unless under his direct orders. Not everyone agreed with the monster king’s rule, but he struck such fear in everyone’s hearts that no one defied him.

There was no room for fear in the princess’ heart, however, as it was already full to the brim with her plans for revenge. Armed with the knowledge shared by the younger brother, she set out to procure one of the orbs for herself, for what chance did she have to fight back against monsters unless she was as powerful as them? The orbs proved to be difficult to obtain, however. Each person who had one guarded it closely, and though the princess suspected there must be a trove of them somewhere, she was not allowed to explore the Garden on her own.

One night, while the monster king slept, she risked taking his orb, which he wore on a necklace. She slipped it off his neck and he became human once more, but when she put it on, she did not change.

The monster king awoke to find her wearing his treasure, and he might have killed her there and then were it not for her quick tongue. She convinced him that she was only fascinated by the beautiful light the magic orb gave off and had wanted to wear it to look more beautiful for him. He accepted this, and in his benevolence he chose not to kill her. Instead her punishment for stealing his light would be thirty days spent locked in a lightless cell. Her screams and tears as his guards carried her away pleased the monster king greatly.

* * *

1/13/13 Notes:

Continue to Part 49.

For a quick way to show support (one click; you don’t need to sign in), please vote for The Only City Left at topwebfiction.com.

If you have a little more time and don’t mind registering first, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. 

You can also share The Only City Left by clicking on any of those handy social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

All these methods help to bring in new readers, which is great for moral support. Thank you for reading!

#

Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.