Author's Note: All song lyrics are by Rasputina, unless otherwise noted. The only things I own in this story are my original characters(who should be obvious) and my own plot contrivances. I will try to maintain the integrity of the world and characters Mr. Barker was so kind to share with us, but this is a fanfiction, and as such, will most likely go places he never intended it to.I also intend eventually to poke as much fun at Finnegan Hob as I possibly can.This first chapter will be mainly exposition as I lay the groundwork for my story, and contains spoilers for the second book. Hopefully it will get more interesting after this chapter.Looking forward to reading reviews, a word of caution; this is my first fanfiction, please be gentle.
I think of a lot of things when I'm walking,
I think of a lot of things walking home.
I say them aloud to myself, I am talking,
I talk to myself when we are alone.
I remember the first time I saw the Lord of Midnight. I was sitting with my sisters on the shores of Idjit, a lesser sibling of Gorgossium, when he came sailing by in his great red warship, Wormwood, purple sails flying. My uncle had a boat, when he was alive, with purple sails. Carrion's sails were meant to inspire fear and awe, signifying his royal status as Prince of Darkness, but they looked like home to me. Like spending long, lazy hours aboard the Boudicca while my daredevil uncle experimented with new maneuvers. The thrill of those days, his handsome face alight with joy and excitement while his little nieces squealed in glee as the lightning crackled overhead, remain my fondest memories of him. How unlike our enigmatic Prince my uncle was.
The Dark Prince must have sensed me watching him, because he turned and stared at me with those piercing eyes. His ravaged lips curved upwards in the most horrific smile I had ever seen. Every demon, ghoul, or monster that had ever chased me in my nightmares was personified in the skeletal visage of Christopher Carrion. I was dimly aware of my younger sisters shrieking and scrambling for the door of our modest house, built from the wreckage of the Boudicca. I, however, could not follow them, had I wanted to. An invisible force had pinned me to the rocky shore I sat upon, and I could not tear my gaze away from that twisted face. The garish light from nearby Commexo City illuminated his features harshly, as did the light emanating from the creatures swimming around the lower half of his head. A crack of thunder from Idjit's constant electrical storm brought me out of my trance, and I shook my head. When I looked up again, the Lord of Midnight was no longer visible on the deck of the massive ship.
It didn't matter. His image was permanently seared into my memory.
When I was a young girl,
A young girl, a young girl,
When I was a young girl,
Then, oh, then.
It was a ha-ha this-a-way,
Then, oh, then.
When I was a young girl,
My sisters and I had lived with our uncle for as long as we could remember. It wasn't that something terrible had happened to our parents, exactly. Our mother was alive and well on the island of Jibarish, or so we were told, and it was for that precise reason that we were sent to live with Father's brother, Xaver. We loved our uncle very much, my sisters and I, and he adored us to distraction. That he was something of a daredevil, well, in hindsight I can see why Mother tried to kill Father, instead settling for driving him completely mad and setting him loose on her island, where its very metamorphic nature soon brought him to his end. I loved going on one of Xaver's adventures, though. Like everyone in the Abarat, Xaver had a connection to the sea. Unlike most, my uncle's almost mystical attachment to Mama Izabella kept us at sea for months at a time. Occasionally we would dock in Hobarookas, where he was well known and well liked, to pick up supplies in exchange for my uncle's brief service as a chef. An excellent cook, my uncle had tried to teach me the culinary arts. I remember him looking up at me from across the stove.
"Now, you have to remember how to do this, so that when you meet someone you like, you can bring him home and prepare this amazing meal for him. Then, when he leaves, he'll think; Oh, that was very good." he leaned in and winked at me. "I hope she likes me!"
Hobarookus quickly became my favorite destination, despite the brightness of daylight.The throng of colorful people and the sound of sea shanties in the air lent it a festival-like atmosphere. Though I doubt my father had planned for us to have such familiarity with pirates and thieves, the rough-and-tumble lifestyle which eventually robbed us of our beloved guardian also provided us with the connections and the skills to look after ourselves, when the time came.
After his death, I would have been content to sail on as we had been, exploring and experiencing as much as possible. My younger sisters were not so eager, and as I had a responsibility to them, I agreed to settle on the shore of Idjit, our uncle's favorite island, where the storms never cease and the thrill-seekers flock to chase the lightening. The beautiful Boudicca made a nice small home for the three of us, and when I hung the newly refashioned purple sails(pirated, of course) in the doorway and the windows, I began to think I could live in one place, without the sway of the sea to help me sleep. Living on Idjit was, for the most part, a simple matter. It was one of the Unfettered islands, though most of its regular inhabitants, such as us, remained loyal to the Royal House of Carrion. I personally despised what was happening with the Abaratian government attempting to create a single alliance of the whole chain of islands. There was a reason A'zo and Cha created the Abarat in two halves, Night and Day, I believed. Thankfully it seemed Mater Motley and Prince Carrion were of a like mind, and had so far refused all offers to join the alliance. The Commexo Corporation was also trying to unite the islands, and Rojo Pixler was quickly finding that he had little support from those outside of his disgustingly bright city, especially on the Night islands. My sisters were not overly concerned with the politics of the islands, but I made sure as I waitressed in the bars on Idjit, or occasionally returned to Hobarookas, that I remained abreast of new developments. If there was one thing an uncertain lifestyle teaches you, its how important watching the current is. If things changed suddenly, I needed to be sure my sisters and I would be all right.
Lately on Idjit there had been much gossip about a thief who had angered the Prince, and his supposed accomplice, a young girl, who was an angel, some said, and a downright destroyer, said others. The actual events were open to speculation, but what was certain was that she had something the Prince wanted very much, and he had been sending his agents after her across the Abarat for some weeks now. I wondered about this girl. If she had spent any time talking to the inhabitants of the islands she was reportedly frequenting, she should know that if the Lord of Midnight wants something, and you have it, you'd better give it up quickly. By all accounts, she caused massive amounts of trouble wherever she went, which was hardly surprising. Most of the islands, even those still under Lord Carrion's control, preferred to keep their contact with him to a minimum. If this girl was being actively pursued, it put those who came in contact with her in a very difficult position, and she couldn't expect people to endanger themselves to aid and abet her. An old sailor who had served on a spice freighter, and was a regular in one of the establishments I worked in, told me something he had heard about this girl that I dismissed at the time. I had always assumed that the Hereafter was a bedtime story for children, a method of behavior modification employed by the preachers. If it was true, I wondered, how many of the other outlandish stories about her were true?
I put her in the back of my mind as I worked. Waitressing on Idjit had its own unique peculiarities, particularly being able to watch the effect being repeatedly struck by lightening had on a person. Oftentimes a group of people would arrive on the island, but only half their number returned at the end of their adventure. Visiting Idjit made one feel alive, they said. Living on Idjit made one increasingly aware of their own mortality. I had no sympathy for those struck down, no pun intended, by their own folly. I was used to putting up with drunken revelers who thought a tipping a few zems bought them the right to pinch or prod. Idjit promotes excess and indulgence, as the Almenak says, and there were comfort women a plenty for those with the desire. After several drinks, it seemed, all women looked like comfort women to them. I wouldn't allow my younger, and far prettier, sisters to work in the towns. Xandra helped by doing most of the housework. Fina was rather good at making clothes, and between her and I, we had a nice, albeit small, garment business on the side. I was thinking of hiring some men to help us move the house farther up the hill, our current location left us vulnerable to the rising tide. We had become very adept at hauling valuable possessions up the hill during high tide.
It was during one of these nights, when the drinks had been flowing and I knew already I would have several bruises along my hips, that a guard wearing the royal livery of House Carrion entered the bar. I was amused at how quickly the roomful of drunk thrill-seekers quieted, everyone avoiding catching the guard's attention. He was holding a large sheet of paper, which he affixed to the wall beside the door. Without so much as a word, he left. The uneasy murmur of the crowd steadily grew in volume as people pressed close to read the poster. I made my way to the door and slipped into the crowd. Ignoring the people jostling me from behind, I scanned the words.
Her Majesty, Thant Yeyla Carrion, Queen Mother,
announces the death of
her grandson, Christopher Carrion,
who is henceforth stripped of all titles and honorifics.
Any persons resisting the transference of rule to the Queen Mother, or displaying continued loyalty to the former ruler, are to be arrested and executed, without trial.
The press of the crowd from behind me prevented me from reading further. I quickly ducked away to avoid being crushed. The Lord of Midnight was dead. Such a thing seemed almost impossible. I had seen him before, once, and it was hard to believe that the dreadfully imposing figure in my memory had succumbed to mortality. Immediately my mind turned to my sisters. Where would this shift of power leave us? I wasn't sure of Mater Motley's plans for her empire, and though Idjit's status as an Unfettered Isle granted us immunity from her decrees in theory, we all of us knew that in actuality Idjit was still as much a part of her empire as Gorgossium itself. I stopped planning to relocate the house, and decided to save those zems in case we needed passage to an island further from her influence,Speckle Frewperhaps, or Efreet, if things got really bad. I preferred to keep us on a Night isle, not merely for sentimental reasons, but because we had livedprimarily inthe Night, and I wasn't sure howlong-term exposure todaylight might affect us. I was accustomed to the political unrest that had plagued the Abarat since time immemorial, even so I offered up a prayer to A'zo, Cha, and Mama Izabella to keep us safe and far from the turbulent currents of Mater Motley's ambitions. I, like many, were not swayed in the nights that followed by talk of how sorrowful Mater Motley was about the loss of her "beloved grandson,"claiming this grief was the reason that the Fortress of Inquisit, save the Thirteenth Tower, was being demolished. No, this was the beginning of something black and terrible, and far larger than anyone was willing to admit. Madness was descending over Gorgossium, and it was only a matter of time before it spread, like a cancer, foul and penetrating and permanent.
Well, there it is. I apologize for how short it is, I hope you didn't find it excessively boring. It does get more interesting from here on in, as would any situation once a certain person became involved. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!