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.
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.