Rethinking

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days but I am rethinking my website. It hasn’t done much to restart my interest in art, I need a new approach. :). Something a little more inspiring.

I do have another short story in the ‘Dark Angel’ series in the final stages!

Dark Angel: The Gatekeeper’s Daughter – Part 2

The Gatekeeper’s Daughter – Part 2

Dark Angel Series

By Kathryn E Wanta

If you haven’t read part 1 – read it here

(Rated T for Teen, some language, mild violence and suggestive undertones.)

It wouldn’t take long for her mother to notice the white creeping its way up toward her scalp. That would be enough to start a conversation with the busy queen, and it likely wouldn’t be long, based on the shocked expression on her mother’s face when she appeared for dinner. Having ignored her most of the day, as usual, this was the first real good look at her child.

Dire had already commented on the change, earlier, and she didn’t like Kee’s retort about not being afraid to stand out among her peers. Her sister had always been one to fall in line and follow existing trends, not stir things up a bit by trying something new. She must have still been stewing over it, as she glared at her younger sister from across the table. It was a feeling Kee was very accustomed to. The men could have cared less. They would likely chalk it up to the rebellious teen phase. In their minds, it would pass.

It was only Hada that knew the truth behind the changes, which made for an uncomfortable evening meal for her. When it was over, Kee excused herself as usual, but this time her mother didn’t stop her from leaving, like she had always done before. That could only mean that she intended to deliver the medicine in person, and talk to her daughter about the need for her to take it nightly. It was going to be an interesting conversation.

Hada didn’t know why her daughter was changing. One could only assume that she had not taken the potion, or it had lost its effectiveness on her after so many years of use. Either way, it didn’t bode well for Hada, as she made her way to Kee’s bed chamber. Some explaining may have been required. When she entered the room, Kee just smiled at her. It had been easy enough to slip the liquid to the unquestioning child, but her now inquisitive teen had concerns, and likely questions, that would need to be answered.

“I brought your medicine,” Hada stated, hoping that would be all there was to it; her hair would turn back to black, and her eyes that fiery red. No one would ever know her secret.

“I am not sick, mother,” Kee boldly stated, letting her eyes glare back at her mother, telling her that the girl somehow knew that she had been lied to all those years, and demanded answers with unspoken words. Hada cleared her throat. The white had crept its way up further, just in the time that they had eaten dinner, not that anyone else would have noticed. It was haunting Hada, that blatant evidence of a long kept secret.

It scared her to think what others would say when they saw the real Keesabella Buer. It scared her only slightly more to think about what lay under the surface of her child’s dark skin. What monster lurked within? There was more to her than met the eye, and more to the potion than even Calypso had guessed. It shaded more than just her outward appearance.

“Please, take it anyway, for my peace of mind,” she begged, still holding out the vile to Kee.

Kee shook her head. She needed a better reason than her mother’s own comfort. They were children of the night and the feeling of others need not concern them. Demons of any kind weren’t accustomed to bending to the needs of others. Hada knew this better than most. She had created, in her long life, a family, but she cared not for a single one of them. They were but useful tools to her, handy to have around at times. Kee was no exception. Hada hung her head and swallowed hard again. She had known that this day would come. She had to answer for her actions, and explain herself to the only person in the world that she was truly afraid of.

“There is nothing wrong with you; you’re prefect,” Hada admitted, eyeing up her beautiful daughter. Her hair was almost completely white now and danced around her in the light breeze from the open window, but the bright blue eyes that stared back at her were unforgiving. “You’ve always been perfect, but opinions tend to vary.”

It was in that moment that Kee saw something that she never thought she would see; thegreat Hada Buer was afraid and unsure. She questioned in her mind what could possibly have shaken the queen, who appeared to fear nothing, let alone her own child. Thinking back on her short life, some things came into focus. This had little to do with her, and more to do with something that Hada was guilty of and trying very hard to cover up.

“Who is my father?” Kee turned very serious and concerned.

“I don’t know,” Hada admitted with tears in her eyes. The answer enraged the girl, and before she would stop herself she had her mother by the throat and up against the wall. The impact hurt and shook the stone structure slightly.

“What kind of monster are you, to lie with things unknown?” Do you not recall those with whom you have had relations?” Kee snapped. She kept a hold of her, but loosened her grip a little, when she realized that Hada could not speak.

“I do know who he is, just not his name. It’s the nature of our kind. Please forgive me. We feed on the love of men. We need it to survive. I can only hope that the love of just one man will be enough to sustain you all of your life, but Pyregon just isn’t enough for me, even though I truly do love him. I am sorry for my indiscretions,” She explained now a few stray tears fell from her eyes. “He said I was not worthy of knowing his name. You can’t blame me for this completely. I had help you know? I caught his eye from a great distance and lured him in. I just wanted to see if it could be done. He was gorgeous beyond compare and so very strong. The strength he gave me during that encounter has lasted me this long, but he also gave me a child in that moment. His gaze shifted from me the day that you were born. He watches you now. You know that, don’t you? You can feel his eyes on you.”

Hada nodded to the open window. It wasn’t by chance that it happened to face the blue moon. It also faced the Achrengate named after the blue moon. The one her father guarded for the last 40 years. It was so that he could always see her. She reminded him of a moment of weakness.   The evil queen wanted to make him suffer her pain. Baring his child was unnatural and very hard on her, not that she would change a thing.

The succubus had seen the cracks through the archangels disguise. She knew a time would come when the archangels could no longer hold back the horrors and the gates would open. She was another immortal being with nothing but time to spare, lying in wait for just the right moment. Hada’s beauty was rare for her kind, an almost innocent look that lured men in, even in the dim glow of the lava lights.

What to do with his attention had been up in the air. She could have ignored him, letting him simply dream of her, but succubae weren’t exactly known to be loyal creatures. While the king could overlook her discretions at times, this would be unforgivable. Perhaps that is what had made her desire for him even greater.

“Does Pyregon know?” Kee asked, letting go of her briefly and staring off out the window.

“He suspects that you are not his, but has no knowledge of your true nature.” It had not been discussed, but she could see it in the king’s eyes. “No one knows that you are half angel. Keesabella, you are still my child and a princess of this land. I have tried to be a good mother, faked compassion for you when you needed it, even though it was unnatural for me,” Hada stated. While she did still love her, she was also trying hard to stay on the child’s good side. Angels were strong and dangerous creatures. It was best to stay in her good graces, at any cost.

“Compassion? How about your honesty. Do I not deserve that?” Kee fired back; another forceful shove got a groan from Hada. There was a choice to be made now. She could continue to drink the potion and go about her life as it was, or she could embrace her true self, maybe even track down her father. If her mother had done it once, then it could be possible to do it again.

A few more loud screams echo through the halls, as Kee continued to yell at her mother. But, when she suddenly found something between them, she completely lost herself to rage, something that had never happened before.

“This doesn’t concern you.” Keesabella warned her sister.

“She is my mother, what gives you the right to hit and yell at her?” Dire asked. It was clear that as usual she had missed most of the conversation, but was getting involved anyway. She was accustomed to getting her way, because most people didn’t want to witness one of her legendary hissy fits. Today however Kee didn’t care about her sister’s foolish pride. This was about her, and the intrusion into her room would no longer be tolerated.

“I know that this is hard for you to understand, but the world does not revolve around you. This is none of your business. Get out!” Kee’s voice came out much louder than it ever had; the usually passive woman never raised her voice. The shock showed on Dire’s face. The world was much bigger than her petty life, but before Kee could have the honor of showing her as much, Hada interjected. Having seen the bright light in her youngest eyes, she knew this would not end well for Dire, if allowed to continue.

“Dire please go and entrust that I will be fine. I need to talk to your sister alone. It’s something that I have done and must answer for.” She begged.

Dire’s eyes darted between the two of them. She hated not knowing, more that she hated seeing her mother cry. But more importantly, she has never seen such fear in her mother’s eyes, and part of her couldn’t accept that anyone other than herself had put it there. For that she swung at the younger sibling.

Kee ducked and grabbed the passing arm. With impressive precision and strength, Kee threw her sister through the open door of her bedroom and into the hallway wall. There was a bright burst of light just before Kee slammed the door shut so hard that the hinges broke, sending Dire scurrying off down the hallway. If Dire would even admit defeat to Pyregon, Hada knew her husband wouldn’t come to save her. He had told her more than once that Keesabella was her daughter, not his. She had created this monster, and now she must deal with it on her own. While he might partake in the advantages the illegitimate child brought, he would not suffer the consequences, or be burdened with its problems.

“I know it’s hard, but you must learn to control yourself.”

“Why? Are you really that scared of me?” Kee asked.

“I am scared for you. You shouldn’t exist. If the angels find out about you, they will kill you. There are rumors…” Hada paused not sure just how much she should burden her child with tonight. “…about what happens when you mix light and dark. Let’s just say that it scares some people, like your friend. It’s unnatural.

“There is nothing wrong with Jinx, or me for that matter. People shouldn’t believe in fairy tales.” Kee insisted, making her way over to the window. Her eyes were fixed on the massive gate. “What was he like?”

“He was very handsome. Most angels are. I set my sights on him. I wanted a brief taste of the good life, and a conquest that most of our kind could only dream of.” The physical love of an Archangel would sustain her life well beyond that of her peers, but it would not come easy and held great risk. “As much as they like to think that they are better than everyone, in truth they are very much the same. He was a sad lonely man, as cruel as any demon male I have yet to encounter.”

The warm touch of his skin told her that the angels aren’t as cold as one might have thought. The blood in his veins had run just as hot with lustful need as hers. What waited for him in the light when his time was up? The love of a cold woman? Hada had tempted him to dive into the fires of a passion that only sinful desires could ignite, and he took the bait.

It was clear that her mother’s thoughts had drifted someplace else, another time perhaps. The angels where getting weak and not thinking clearly. This one had fallen prey to her mother that night so long ago, and in that moment of weakness that will haunt him for a life time, he gave into temptation.

Hada had lovingly named the baby they created, Keesabella. She was the key to the gates that kept them locked away. She was the key to the gatekeeper’s cold heart, for if not, then she wouldn’t be a live right now. And Isabella was a family name worthy of the daughter that would become legend.

“You keep saying our kind. What if I take after him more than you think?” The question snapped Hada back from her inappropriate memories.

“Whether you like it or not there is some of me in you too. You’re a dangerous combination my child.” The confession at least shows why Hada herself was so scared. Two very strong creatures could only produce trouble.

With her mother now at her side forcing her gaze to her, the seriousness of the situation starts to sink in. Kee had seen the way people looked at Jinx. It’s like she is foreign to them. In a lot of ways, Kee guessed that she was. Angels and Demons were considered complete polar opposites, the absolute light and the darkest dark. This made her something in the middle.

“How did you even get up there?” Kee wondered, eyeing the massive stone wall and large iron gate. It had to have been no small feat. Hada just smiled back at her. Maybe it was time for the child to pay her father a little visit. He needed to share some of the burden when it came to raising their child. He needed to answer to her as well, for his part in the matter had been just as important as Hada’s.

______________________________________________________________________

Every inch was painstaking as Kee climbed her way up the wall, using the gaps in the wall from decay between boulders to pull herself along, as she made her way toward the Archangel’s perch. It was clear that the wall had been there far too long and needed repairs. Rumors said that it was protected by magic, to only allow things pure of heart to pass over it. Which apparently meant that no maintenance was needed, at least not on this side of things; not that they would be able to find a living soul on this side willing and able to do the work needed. No one in their right mind would dare to scale the massive structure. But Kee was determined, just as her mother must have been so many years ago, to reach the perch.

Days had come to pass, as she contemplated what to do. She had confided in Jinx, who had most likely already known, since her mother had somehow known. Calypso hadn’t come right out and said it, but she saw the angel in her eyes and understood her plight. It was worse than that of her own child.

Her foot slipped, forcing her against the hard surface. With a groan, she continues, secretly hoping that it would all be worth the time and effort that she has put forth. Surely he could not deny her for all eternity. The wind whipped her white locks around her like fresh snow on a mountain top, constantly getting it in her face. Kee had chosen to embrace her true self. Maybe it would help her father accept her, if he could see some of himself in her eyes.

As she reached for the ledge, a strong arm grasped her arm and caught her off guard. He effortlessly pulled the teen to her feet, but barely gave her any room on the ledge. He had seen her coming. It was his job, after all, to watch the walls for anyone one stupid enough to attempt escape. The archangel had always expected her to come to him some day, seeking answers and guidance. The thought of killing her, even as an infant, had crossed his mind many times, but a father’s pride stilled his hand even now. He both loved and hated the child. She was impressive by anyone’s standard. He had hoped that nature would run its course and the vileness of the Dark Side would eventually consume and destroy the girl for him. The angle had never expected her to survive in the dark.

She surprised him more and more with each passing day. Were she not the daughter of a demon, he would be very proud of her.

They stood there staring at each other for a few minutes. His blue eyes shined bright, twinkling with the light of a thousand stars. He was everything her mother had said he would be. Hada had described him perfectly, the image of perfection. A strong muscular build, right down to the massive pure white wings that sprung out of his back. Favoring the pale colors over darker ones, even there at the edge of darkness, he stood out like a beacon in the abyss.

Unlike her mother a few nights before, he was calm and unafraid. Crossing his arms across his broad chest, he just stood back, watching her. Every night he would bask in the dim light of the Neuvian Blue moon, and tonight was no exception, as it peaked out from behind his wings. He must have been an angel of great honor to have merited such a prestigious position at one of the only gates that actually stood in some sort of light.

“May I help you, young lady?” He finally asked. His voice came out in a sweet melody. He would never admit it out loud, to his own flesh and blood, but she was quite the budding beauty, with all of her mother’s curves and the confidence of a true Archen.

“You know why I am here?”

“Because your mother is a whore,” he stated harshly, smiling as he did so. Kee’s expression hardened. It may have been kind of the truth, to some degree, but it didn’t need to be said. He was just as much to blame for her existence as Hada was.

“What does that make you? Lest you forget that it takes two to tango?” Kee questioned, watching him carefully for signs of weakness. There were cracks in the facade; she could see them now as he backed away from her a little. The manipulative and seductive creature that was her mother must have made easy work of him. He hadn’t stood a chance. It was a sad and cold life that he lived, full of hate and disregard for the lives of others. Angels were inherently selfish things.

It hadn’t been love by any means. He didn’t need her but he had wanted the Succubus Queen. Who would she tell when he ventured down that path so long ago, and who would have believed her even if she had? No godly man would lie with such a sinister thing.

He laughed a little under his breath, unwilling to admit that she had a point, and turned away from her for a brief break from those familiar eyes.

“Do you have a name?” Kee asked hopefully.

“Not one that you are worthy of knowing, foul creature,” he responded calmly, running his finger through his messy hair. His body language suggested that he was somewhat frazzled by her.

“Foul?” Kee questioned. His words were hurtful to the child. She had not thought about him rejecting her so completely. Then again, if he really felt that way he would have never let her get this close to him. There had to be some conflicting feelings inside of him that she couldn’t begin to understand. “I am you daughter, am I not? I am part of you.” She tugged on him hard enough to spin him back about to face her.

“Do not touch me! You have no right,” he shouted, flipping his arms around to remove her gentle hands from where they had come to rest on his arms. “You were a mistake, created by a moment in time that should not have happened. You are Hada’s child, not mine.”

Now he was just being cruel. Something burst inside her chest. She reached out and slapped him as hard as she could, actually catching him off guard and knocking him down. He sat there stunned; hand on his cheek, looking up at the ghastly looking figure above him. He had angered her and it hurt.

“Coming here was a mistake. You are completely worthless. You couldn’t stop me from leaving even if you wanted to. You are sad and weak. You should have killed me when you had the chance,” Kee yelled and stepped forward as it to kick him, but she stopped herself. This wasn’t the kind of person that she was.

She peaked out over the side, toward the city lights of the Nue-Mezzo city of Verda. The thought of jumping over the side and running off there to start anew, away from the lying and uncertainty of her parents, had crossed her mind. But, it was a hell of a drop and she couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t a spell to keep the wicked in. Her place was here for now; it wasn’t worth the risk just yet. As a young princess, she lived a good life; as good as it got on the dark side of things, she supposed.

His eyes got very serious as he rose up from the ground. She had just ticked off the one thing that no one dare trifle with. If it was respect she wanted from him, then it would have to be earned that hard way. She was both a girl and a child, something no real man would dare to strike, but she was also his offspring and his to discipline as he saw fit.

They squared off on the fairly large platform, each secretly hoping that the other would back down at any moment. The Archangels plan was just to shove the troublesome teen over the side and forget about her completely, but when they came together, locked hands and shoved against each other, the girl barely budged. The heels of her boots scraped against the stone as they dug in.

He struggled against her as she pushed right back. Maybe it was him tiring or just the shock of the strength she possessed even as something slightly less than a full grown woman. He started to give, inching his way toward the other side of the wall. His fragile male ego wouldn’t let him admit defeat.

“Stop,” he ordered, but the wild eyed girls just glared back at him and gritted her teeth. She was understandably angry, hurt and a little disappointed with her father. “Please, stop?” He asked again a little more politely. Finally, he sighed heavily and caved to her, letting her push him right up to the ledge but still hanging on to her by intertwining their fingers. If he was going over, then he was taking her with him.

Kee stopped now, applying just enough force to hold him in place and not softening her expression in the slightest. He struggled a few times to push her back, stand up straighter or in some way relax, but she wouldn’t give him an inch. The angel could have tried just a little harder, but that wasn’t the point of all this. Of course he was testing her.

“I guess you are mine after all. Only an angel could be this strong at your age, but that anger of yours is all your mother’s doing,” he admitted. She smiled, it wasn’t a full confession, but she would take it for now. At least he had laid claim to her.

“Your name now, daddy dearest?”

“Meta…, Meta Shi from the house of Donovan.” She suddenly released him, laughing as he stumbled forward, catching himself with a hand to the knee. Her eyes went back to the distant city light, so different from the dim glow of Beira. “You know that I can’t let you leave, right? My offspring or not, this is where you belong and it’s my job to keep things…like you, inside these walls.”

He didn’t want to really fight her, but he would if he had to. Letting even one thing escape on his watch would be considered failure, and Angels could accept nothing less than absolute perfection. It was their greatest flaw. Sure, it happed on rare occasion, but never was it enabled or encouraged.

“Your job sucks and I don’t envy you, but you forget that I live here. I have seen the horrible things that you keep locked away. I have also seen a few mistakes, undeserving occupants,” Kee explained, turning her attention back to him as she casually leaned up against the wall that was his current living space, there on top of the wall.

“That is not my department. They were judged and found guilty of unthinkable things. There is nothing here that I would want to live with,” he said without thinking. She could only assume that included her. She had threatened to shove him off a wall, so maybe he had a point, though she got the feeling that the angel had taken it somewhat easy on her.

“Can I come back to see you from time to time during your tenure? I have questions. I need to know more about this side of me so that I can grow as a person,” she begged. He just nodded, as long as she was willing and able to make the long climb, then he would make a little time for her. His conflicting feelings continued to eat away at him, but maybe he was being too harsh on the kid. It was apparent that he was struggling to control her. Getting to know her better could serve him well in the future.

Dark Angel: The Gatekeeper’s Daughter – Part 1

The Gatekeeper’s Daughter

Dark Angel Series

By Kathryn E Wanta

(Rated T for Teen, some language, mild violence and suggestive undertones.)

The lands of Nuevia were badly weathered and war torn, creating a constant state of chaos. A never ending power struggle between the races of the light and the monsters that lurk in the darkness had long since consumed the planet, turning the middle ground of Nue-Mezzo, the space between the land of internal darkness known simply as the Dark Side, and the constant glow of the land of the light, into a battle field of feuding clans trying to choose sides.

Innocent inhabitants were forced to be on one side or the other, most falling in line with the beautiful and majestic Archangels of the land of the light. They were not the perfection that they appeared to be, more concerned with their own personal happiness than that of the mundane lives of the more common races that lived in the cities and villages that separated them from the darkness. As long as their way of life was grand, nothing else mattered.

They were powerful yet selfish creatures that viewed some monsters unworthy of the grace and warmth the light provided. Angels and Archangels blended together to construct a massive wall around the outer ring of the Dark Side, carefully designed to keep those wreckers of the peace and otherwise unworthy beasts confined to the dark. Opinions varied as to what was considered evil.

The idea was to make the world a better place, but it created fear and ill feelings in those deemed beneath them, which in most cases was everything but the Angels themselves. They held up in the land of the light and cast out everyone else, doing their part to keep anything of a horrible nature locked away and forgotten as far from their holy cities are possible. Anyone that drew too much attention to themselves were hunted down and locked away. The fear of being targeted by the seemingly unstoppable force controlled the majority of its inhabitants. To question them, or demand change, only got you sent where few wanted to go.

The abyss had taken on a life of its own, with cities, rulers and wars. That much bad blood in one place was bound to create problems. They had laws and methods for dealing with these, even when it came to unfit new arrivals. As for the people that were forced to live there who shouldn’t have been, their hearts weren’t evil enough to last in the darkness, with all the monsters that thrived there.

Five gates in the wall that surrounded the Dark Side granted access to the darkened land but rarely let anything out. Each massive iron gate was guarded by an Archangel. Fifty years of service was nothing to these immortal creatures and was considered payment for the good life that awaited them in the land of the light, so far away from the horrors they would witness during their tenure.

The Archangels watched over them from perches high above the gates, feeling invincible and godly. Disgusted by what they saw below, it made them wonder about the soulless creatures and helped them understand why no one wanted them around. They brought with them pain and suffering, which they themselves seemed to enjoy. It made the angels weep, but their tears gave them great strength.

Since shielding themselves they had unknowingly weakened, but remained hard, not unlike cracked glass. Even the Archangels were growing fragile; it was the fear of their name that kept most things at bay these days. But children of the night, accustomed to testing and breaking the rules, saw no harm in applying pressure to those old wounds. All the more reason for the angles each to take their turn. It made them stronger and tested their ability to turn a blind eye.

There was one gatekeeper that seemed to have his sights fixed on just one person. A strangely beautiful creature unlike anything he had ever seen. He’d been watching her since the day that she was born. Something just wasn’t right about the Beirian Queen’s daughter; right from the start she was different somehow. She did not take after her Archfiend father, King Pyregon, but had looks that would someday come to surpass that of her succubus mother, Hada.

Maybe it was a woman’s intuition that warned the sweet princess and made her feel like she was always being watched, but she could not place it to any one person. As a member of the royal family, it wasn’t unheard of to be targeted. If anything it was half expected, yet this felt different to her. Their world was a constant war over power, and the weak were simply devoured. So Kee had to become strong, and would do things she did not enjoy, as a way to prove that she belonged there.

She had a name to live up to. Two siblings that had come before her, one a demonic brother named Bane and the other a sinister sister named Dire. They had been horrible, right from the moment they were born, taking after their father more than even Hada would have liked. Keesabella was not like them. She was nothing like Pyregon, so much so that the king himself had questioned if the child was his. But, as third in line for his throne, it seemed unlikely that she would ever rule his lands. So, what was the harm in letting the pretty little girl exist, to serve a great purpose for him later in life?

As she grew, Kee became more beautiful than anyone could have imagined. She was a clever combination of her mother’s sex appeal, and what could only be assumed was her unknown father’s good looks.   Much to the king’s delight, she caught the eye of every male in the kingdom. He didn’t seem to care that she didn’t fit in, mainly because she wasn’t alone in that respect. Many, as of late, didn’t belong in the dying lands.

While the demon king and his kind thrived in the misery of the Dark Side, so many forced to live there weren’t as comfortable with the horrors and malcontent that the King allowed to take place as a way to weed out the weak and purify the people of his lands. He wanted them strong and wicked should another war break out.

Princess Keesabella could certainly hold her own, and often did, but didn’t seem to enjoy her victories as much as her siblings, who constantly boasted at the dinner table. It wasn’t exactly what Kee would consider appropriate dinner conversation. It often made her lose her appetite all together. She shoved the plate aside and waited for the opportunity to excuse herself from the table. A familiar laugh made her wish she were already gone. She just tossed her head back, letting the long dark locks move slightly against the back of her chair from the sudden motion.

“What’s the matter sweetness, Bane’s story too much for your sensitive stomach?” Dire teased. Kee gave her a sideways glance, it was hardly worth the extra effort to actually turn and face her. The slender and surprisingly shapeless succubus that was her sister seemed to be implying that she was weak. Kee couldn’t have that, but it made her wonder what bothered her sister so much, who seemed to be annoyed by her mere existence.

“It would be unfair for me to be completely perfect. You should take great pride in knowing that you have a much higher tolerance for disgusting things than I do. It should serve you well as you look for a suitor,” Kee coldly stated.

“You know you were adopted, right?” Dire retorted.

“One can only hope,” Kee begged, as she watched Bane and the King devour what was left of a roast hog. They often behaved like wild animals, eating every single gross piece of the dead thing before them. It seemed odd to her, considering that one of them held a position of great honor. A sympathetic glance from her mother gets a smile from the princess. Her mother had always favored Kee and played to her needs a little more than the other two. The favoritism only made the siblings hate her even more.

Dire especially had it out for her sister. Seeing Kee suffer brought her great joy. Their parents had always let her, hoping it would strengthen the younger child. Many days in her childhood Kee’s sobs had filled the empty hallways of the palace. No one knew if it had any effect on her, since the teenager was hard to rile. She was cold and calm, which drove most people mad.

“You have never really been worth my time dear sister. If no one objects, I will take leave now.” Kee stated, looking at her parents to object. When they didn’t, she pushed herself away from the table.

“Wait, here is your medicine,” Hada said placing a small vile in to her hand. It stood out against her charcoal grey skin as she wrapped her fingers around it. She knew what it was. It had been the same thing every night since before she could remember. She had asked what it was many times, but the answer was always the same. It was her medicine. It had to be some rare medical condition that no one had ever heard of, because no one ever called it by a name. Kee didn’t feel sick. She never felt sick. So, either the stuff in the vile worked, or there was nothing really wrong with her. She thanked her mother, and smiled back at her ageless features and stunning looks, before leaving the room.

Kee tossed the vile down on her bed before walking over to the massive window, which she always left open. It was high enough up in the King’s place to allow for a slight breeze to flow in from over the Archen walls. At times she thought she could smell wild flowers in the wind. It beat the sulfuric smell of her solar deprived world.

The Neuvian blue moon was making its way up from the east, letting her know the night was young. Since the sun never shone, the three moons were their guides as to the changing of the days. This one was the biggest and brightest one. It signaled the start of the night time period, in which most creatures slept, to avoid the brightest period of time. Kee would much rather do something now than in the dim light of their day time.

The princess of the night would stand at her window, watching for as long as she could before succumbing to the need for sleep. It would break her heart to retreat from the sweet air into her dark room. She tossed the covers back and crawled into place any way, still facing the window, hoping to entice good dreams.

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The clanging of metal was fairly common, especially during the Princess’s usual mid-week sparing sessions. She had gone through her fair share of partners, but the latest one had hung around by far the longest. Her dear friend, Jinx, was not afraid of her, and trusted her to know when to back down to avoid injury, though the pair hardly took it easy on each other.

In a world at war, even the women were taught to fight and fight well. Even if their role was more to protect the children, the future of any people, the girls would take it. Kee stuck out her tongue as she struggled to catch her breath, while continuing to meet her friend blow for blow.

“So, did you really have words with that retched thing you call a sister, last night?” Jinx asked. It was common for them to make small talk during these little matches. Friendly chatter was usually unheard of among sparing partners, but the young women weren’t vicious rival. They truly wanted to better each other. Kee just nodded in response to the question. It hadn’t really been the worst fight the siblings had, but there had been some insults.

“She suggested that I was not of her bloodline, and I simply didn’t see a down side to that.” Kee went on to explain further. The mere thought of being anything like her sister made her skin crawl. Dire was not a nice person and she didn’t care to be.   The only thing that Dire seemed to hate more than Kee herself was her friendship with Jinx.

Jinx had been her loyal friend since they were little. Her dad was a very powerful Vampire.   They had met through a small private school for the social elite. She was a very pretty girl, with pale skin and dark hair. The issue laid with Jinx’s mother, she was a white witch, a good witch from the city of Anora Lee Moana. That made her a Dhampir, a half breed of both good and evil. While Dhampir’s were more common than one might have thought, they were usually born to normal human mothers of questionable integrity. Her mother’s good nature and higher power witchy way made Jinx the unthinkable mix of both light and dark races. That was what had landed the Amboni family in the Dark Side some years before. Her mother rarely left their house for fear of what might become of her and would have kept her child there too, except she knew that it was no life at all, especially for a young girl.

No one liked the bond between them, but it was, after all, the nature of their kind to not do as they were told. So, the friendship endured. Living there gave them all the reason that they needed to create tension and problems. Breaking the rules was completely normal, and half expected, so they were really just doing their part to ensure more chaos.

Kee thought that anything that drove a wedge between her and her siblings couldn’t be all bad. Some distance would be welcomed. She has seen Jinx at her worst, and the Halfling was a force to be reckoned with. The last person to call her mother a foul name got tossed into a wall and set on fire. The princess knew the monster that the Amboni’s had created in their child. Jinx had all the strength of a Vampire and all the power of a Witch. It was a deadly combination. As far as Kee could tell, the girl had inherited none of her parent’s weaknesses. She was lucky to have her as a friend. So few people were trust worthy around there. Perhaps it was the good in her that had attracted the princess to her in the first place.

“Remind me again why we do this?” Jinx asked, gesturing to the weaponry in their hands and the sweat that was forming on their foreheads.

“In preparation for war of course.”

“What war?” The city in which they lived had been at peace for a spell now; the mighty king had smited his last foe with such voracity that no one dared take him on, at the moment.

“Pick one.” Kee shrugged. The world had no shortage of them. There were all kinds of wars, those between races and some between cities or regions. “Just make sure that you are on the winning side in the end my friend.”

Jinx just smiled and propped herself up on the massive sword, digging the sharp end into the ground. Should the kingdom of Beira go to war, the mighty Bane would be the one to lead them into battle in order to prove himself fit to take his father’s place someday, not the angelic princess, even though just the day before she had knocked the big idiot on his butt.

“I like what you did with your hair by the way. That is a brave color choice don’t you think?” Jinx commented out of nowhere, gesturing to her friend’s shoulder where her hair came to rest before flowing down her back.

Kee was confused by the comment. In her rush to meet up with her friend she hadn’t even bothered to toss her hair back in its usually mess ponytail, but now she looked down at the hair in plain sight. Running her finger over the silky smooth strands and stopping at the ends, the bright white hue got her attention.

White was a color seldom seen in this part of the world. It represented purity and cleanliness, which couldn’t be found there. The strange thing was that Kee hadn’t done anything differently to her hair. This was naturally occurring for some reason. Considering that her good friend was a witch, it wouldn’t have been unheard of for someone to have put a hex on her, but if they thought changing her hair color would in any way affect her, they were dead wrong. She wasn’t that vain. If anything the color intrigued her.

“That’s funny. I hadn’t noticed that before. I didn’t do it. Did you?” Kee asked, honestly. The confession got a slightly concerned look from Jinx, as she shook her head no. She wouldn’t think of putting a spell on a friend without their blessing. Her mother was teaching her the basics of magic, but she was still a beginner. “You don’t suppose someone else is dabbling in the dark arts, do you?”

“Dark arts? My mother wouldn’t teach me such things, but there are others with lower standards, I am sure.” A closer look at her friend reveals a few more subtle changes in her overall appearance. It didn’t appear to be of heinous nature. Her red eyes were tinted a more violet shade and the tips of her hair was turning white.

“Maybe we should go see my mother. She could tell us more,” Jinx offered. The white witch should be able to tell them if it was witchcraft, but she rarely had visitors. “Then again, maybe I should talk to her first.” The lady Amboni did not completely trust the princess, as her daughter did.

“If I were to give you a vile, could your mother tell me its true purpose?” Keesabella asked, suddenly recalling the once forgotten potion that her mother had given her the night before, and she had forgotten to take. In her tired haze, it must have gotten tossed aside. She had only to retrieve it from her bedroom floor and give to the witch’s child. “Can I trust you to keep my secrets?”

Jinx looked puzzled by the question, but not offended. In their worlds, no one could truly be trusted, and it was shameful to think even with their friendship intact, there were questions in both their minds.

“This is for you to decide not me. This does, however, concern me. I would sooner see you on the throne of Beira than any of your kin. Let me help you my friend.” Her allegiance was to her friend, and her alone. The mission was hers to keep.

The white witch was a little confused by the conundrum put before her. Calypso had been very much aware of the bond between the teens, but had never cared to meet the princess until now. She insisted that Jinx bring Keesabella to her. Her mother never had visitors, so this had to be serious in nature to warrant such a meeting.

The quest sent Jinx darting through the busy street, hell bent on tracking down Kee, before her mother changed her mind. She didn’t stop until she ran into Dire at the palace gates.

”What do you want, mutt?” Dire snapped at the younger girl. Her pointed Succubi tail gabbed Jinx in the chest and forced her back. Jinx hated her. If she wasn’t Kee’s sister, she would have shoved her aside and kept going.

“I need to see Kee.” Jinx answered, trying to pass. But Dire blocked her path, causing Jinx to groan loudly and contemplate her options. “I don’t have time for this.” Dire was always giving her a hard time. They didn’t see eye to eye. Her friendship with Kee did little to ease the tension. There was a faster way to bypass this. With a flick of the wrist and puff of smoke, Jinx was gone.

Teleportation was a gift, but it only worked if you could visualize your destination. She was only strong enough to go short distances, which is how she ended up in Kee’s wardrobe. They had been going through it a few days earlier, and it was the first thing that came to mind.

Kee didn’t flitch when Jinx fell out and onto the floor. She was a little concerned that she might have hurt herself in the process. “Magic lessons must be going well,” Kee laughed, going back to what she had been doing before.

“Your pain in the butt sister got in my way again. Remind me why you allow her to think she is better than you?” Jinx questioned, dusting herself off and picking up the items that she had knocked out of the cabinet, before turning back to her friend.

“It’s not worth getting my hands dirty. Dire is needy, and she needs to feel important to survive. What kind of person would I be to tarnish her self-worth?” Even though no one else seemed to take the feelings of others into consideration, she was holding herself to a higher standard.

“Well, her day will come. Someone will put her in her place. But that is not my reason for intrusion. My mother wants to see you regarding your earlier inquiry.” Kee stopped in her tracks and just looked at the young witch. Calypso saw no one, talked to no one. This had to be important to the lady of the light, but to be caught in the home of the enemy would tarnish her already tainted reputation. It was a good thing she didn’t care about that sort of stuff.

She neatly finished the task at hand and walked out with Jinx, rather than risk the fledgling witch transporting them to the wrong location. They walked right past the confused and frustrated Dire. Kee just held her hand out to silence her sister and kept walking. She wasn’t worth a moment more of their time.

The Amboni home was modest. It was nice to see how the other side lived. Kee’s nerves were a little tense as she stood there in the parlor awaiting the white witch, whom she only knew by rumor and word of mouth. She was a sight to see, her grace and beauty was other worldly.

They sized each other up out of habit, while Kee had no intentions of going toe to toe with her, it was second nature to prepare to fight when meeting new people.   One could see the similarities between mother and daughter, but the glaring differences where overwhelming. Her mother was fair skinned, but had flowing blonde locks. She seemed delicate, but the princess could sense something powerful beneath the surface.

“You wanted to see me, my lady?” Kee asked politely, bowing her head as a sign of respect. As a member of the royal family she really only had to bow to the King or the Queen, and she was neither. Calypso held up the vile Jinx had provided to her.

“This peaked my interest.” There was nothing particularly special about the contents. “It’s a shade spell, designed to make people see what they think they should and not what is actually in front of them.”

“And what is in front of you, my lady?” Kee wondered, trying to see herself in the refection of the witch’s eyes, letting the ageless woman gently brush her hair away from her face.

“I see trouble.” Calypso calmly stated. It was the harsh truth of the matter. She wasn’t about to sugar coat it for the girl. “I think you need to have a long talk with your mother. If she gave this to you, then she should be able to tell you why. It’s her secret, not yours. You have nothing to be ashamed of, but you didn’t hear any of this from me.”

Kee wasn’t ashamed. Intrigued maybe. She failed to see what all the fuss was about. The truth was that what the witch had suspected was scandalous even by the standards of the darkened skies.

“I’ll keep your name out of it.” It’s not like the evidence wasn’t written all over her face. “Can you tell me though, if I were to stop taking this, how long would it take to completely wear off?”

It was clear that the teen was curious and not afraid to ruffle a few feathers to satisfy that curiosity. Her mother would have to answer for it, more so if it was blatantly obvious to outsiders. No one would miss the bright white hair.

“A day or two tops, this magic isn’t very strong which is why she had you taking it every day. Just be careful. I would hate for Jinx to lose her only true friend.” She looked at her child as she spoke. Jinx was off to the side, trying to be supportive but not intrusive. It was, however, the first time that her mother had expressed support for the platonic relationship.

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Read Part 2>>>>

Porcupine in a tree

I photographed this porcupine up in a tree 2 years ago.  I didn’t know they could climb like that.  I kept my distance of course.  :)

 

Preying Manta – Muskie Mel Series

preying-print-cropThis is the forth and final in a series of muskie paintings that my father did, so far any way.  This is a beautiful oil on canvas painting.  Manta refers to the bait used in the painting, my dad is an avid muskie fisherman and really knows his stuff.

He actually use a fish that he caught to pose and photography ti for later use in this artwork.

This print is available in our Esty Store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BadKittyCreative?ref=l2-shopheader-name