Kasra Kadri - Sailor Mars
Mars is ruled by three chosen Queens.
In the desert, the sand is awash in blood
Theme: LJ community sm-monthly 01/2008 Day 25 : Image
Era: Silver Millennium
Kasra Kadri remembered her dragon well.
Every Martian Queen had one born under the same star as herself. It was the mark of a Queen. Of all her sisters, she had been the only one born on the day a dragon was born. It was luck, or a curse, that unlike the Martian Queen Aaminah Zohar, she did not have to kill a blood sibling to take the throne. At that time, she had been only known as Kasra, eighth daughter of Queen Zlem Kadri. She had not been a favorite, quiet and reserved and completely uncompromising as she had been. Her only charm had been her face, as her mother often said, and her only thread to the Queen had been their equal measure in pride.
But she had been the one born under the same star as the dragon before her that desert night.
She remembered the cold night she had crossed its path.
Martians worshipped and feared the dragon-kin, no matter the advancements in time. Technology grew from their reluctant interaction with Mercury, magick grew from their trade with the Venusians, and life grew where life could not before, a gift from the Jovians - all this made possible by a treaty at the Lunar Conference. All this growth, but this age old belief still held. A Queen is only a Queen if she were to share birth-light with a dragon-kin. A Queen may only be a Queen should she slay the god-beast, or else be slayed.
They sung songs of it. Of the great Queen, Ayana Zohar, who slayed her dragon with tricks and a poisoned dagger. Of the princess Tania, who watched her dragon eat her heart out for the failure, her blood coloring the planet red with her anguished fault. Of Queen Candide Ebediyet, who laid her head down to die and cried out for her dragon at the last.
That was the name of the dragon for Kasra. While Aaminah sought out brilliance, and the still unknown queen of her sister kingdom sought eternity amongst themselves, Kasra chased her destiny with grim reluctance. Where her mother had stood before her, on this same road with burning eyes of triumph, Kasra did not feel that same glee. The anticipation for power that she had long recognized in her mother was lost on her. Her mother did not name her for that task, after all. Her mother named her to break.
So that no one would ever see her to be strong.
Unlike her sisters, some who had been more brilliant, some who had been more valiant and bold, Kasra preferred to read. She often thought that if fate had not marked her so, she would have liked to have become a priestess or a scholar. Neither was too far from the other, the secluded lifestyle, away from the intrigues of court would have suited her fine. She was sharp, but her sharpness only tired her out. Her insights wearied her to Martian-politics too easily. Her gifts of foresight led her down paths she did not wish to walk.
So, here, she stood on this road, knowing that her Emel would come.
Where past Queens had scoured the desert for their dragons, she had simply waited for hers. Where past Queens had died and bled and fought to over-come their uncertainties of an uncertain future, Kasra could only wearily watch her own unfold before her. It was out of her command, what she saw. But visions, sent by the gods or not, were always placed so that she would choose no other way, have no chance to rethink her decision even if she knew long before-hand.
That road led to thieves and robbers - they would die by her hands should she walk it. That road led to a village - they would have prospered if she did not show to burn their storehouse by accident. That road leads to the desert, where her bones lay in wait as she wondered lost and blinded, where sand should wear her flesh away in the darkness that seemed like night.
No, this path was the only one she could choose without killing Martian born - great or vile they may have been - she did not wish to harm them to play a coward for fate. Her mother had always called her soft for not using her gift more viciously and more precisely, but she did not see choosing murder to be a soft choice to be made. Should she be Queen? If her older sister had not died but weeks after her birth, Kasra might not have had to make the choice. But then, even in her heart of hearts, she knew she would never have chosen death so simply. She found no shame in wanting to live even if it means the life of another. Fate had only been kind enough to wash one sister's blood from her hands of such a decision.
She thought of these things in her contemplation beneath the stars. And still as rocks she sat, till a red film of dust covered her already red hair and her tanned skin. She sat until she was like a rock, and her red eyes barely moved when it was opened and when they closed, it was without sleep to drag them down but thoughts of the not-too-distant future. She waited and watched the stars appear, one by one, knowing in that deep place where a fire always burned to warm her, no matter the environment outside, that Emel would come. Down this road he would come with his eyes as red as her own, his teeth as sharp as her mother's ambitions and his claws would scar Mars as she drove her arrows into his burning body, into his throbbing heart.
Like a mud-gold river, he rippled as he came across the desert sands, a fine purple powder that parted for him in the darkness. His scales gleamed dully under Phobos' and Deimos' waning light, they watched, as she did, his cut across the desert plains. The black skies could not diminish the shine he emitted. In fact, it enhanced that glow that only darkness could give to light. The sulfur of his breath was warmth to her nostrils, and she welcomed the smell of fire burning deep in his belly, a reminder of a home she never knew, long before she saw his advancements towards her. Here, she would meet her heart's kin. From Mars they both were borne, like two Moons hanging in the same sky, holding the threads of destiny that thickened as they grew. He was the source of her fire as she had always been his, and they knew each other without having ever met. His claws tip-tapped against the rocks of Mars till he sat, mane of red rippling like flames against the back-drop of a black night and a sinuous body with eyes too kind and too knowing.
She would always remember him this way, proud and alive, like a fire ignited in her heart. If she had never met him, if she had never walked this path, she would never have lived. She would never have known pain or hunger, never have felt true heat or have tasted true longing, she might as well never have been born at all.
He was life.
He had been her mother's ambition in another life, her own in this one. To live, he had brought it alive inside her the desire, one that had only been embers but moments ago. How could she have ever spoken of desire until that moment?
His eyes were what she never had and would always want.
People spoke of Martian Queens, who never took Kings to throne and only courted lovers, with wonder and disdain. They would not understand that no man could ever equal the dragon that had stood before and beneath a Queen's feet. Never understand that no man could ever measure again, that no man would ever be enough.
Like a rock she remained, as she watched him and he watched her. And then the dragon spoke, his voice like thunder in her head though his jaws did not move to show those teeth she knew lay beneath.
"Kasra Kadri," he said, addressing her as if she was already Queen. "You have waited for me, though you could have turned away. Forwards, backwards you could have gone, left and right you could have chosen, but you still came. How many times have we met this way? How many times must one of us lay dying, blood to keep these red sands red by day and purple with the sorrow of royalty at night? Must we continue this cycle once more? Must even the irony of your name move you to do otherwise?"
She did not speak at first, but watched him. Watched and remembered the gleam of his scales, the mane that she would not be able to touch until his death, one that would not flare like fire when he passes.
"I will remember your warmth," said she. "I will remember your voice and your look and your smell and your soul."
"But you cannot," he answered. "Life cannot be taken back once it's been taken away." And here he paused, as if by some realization he finally arrived at a conclusion he had not sought.
She closed her eyes, for the first and the last time, before someone she must kill. "I will weep for the loss of you," she said with regret and a solemnity so great as she had never felt before and never will again. The words came out as if in prayer and ended in silence all too quickly. She rose, Martian earth falling from her like so much dust, and raised her bow. "I will weep, as you would weep for me should I fall before your claws," she amended. "But one of us shall die, must fall, as the other shall live and rule for three hundred years of prosperity. Then, this cycle will be repeated, and I will long for that time again with aching heart. I will long for the smell of sulfur on your breath and pray to see your mane dance like flames in the night, once more."
"And live," said he in the song that has been sung for as long as Mars bore daughters and dragons from the same fiery womb, "as never have and never will we live again."
No man would ever know such words, she knew. No man would ever quench the fire burning inside her, bursting from her hands and blaze upon her bow. It will be the one last thing she would ever have in common with her mother, the one thing that no one but Queens could understand - the fires of Mars.
His jaws opened and he roared into the night, a battle cry - some would say - or a lover's sigh - the poets will recite. But heart's kin, Emel, would only show his teeth and tongue red with fire to one being and one being only, a princess of Mars who may bare his mark to be a Queen, a girl breaking into womanhood. She would never fight with such sorrow and joy again, Kasra knew. Her arrows would never sing so sweetly into the night, never would they find their mark so true. Never would she dance so again, her limbs moving as if she were fire and flames, and her skin glowing as brightly as his scales, and her eyes ablaze with a feeling that she never knew existed until that moment in time...
Scattering ashes into the night.
For one night, the sands of Mars will burn.
When she fell to her knees beside the place he lay, exhausted and exhilarated, she would never again regret the ending of a night as dearly as this night. She would remember the weight of his head, heavy on her lap. And then, in the silence of endings and goodbyes, she began to sing. She sung about Candide, whose longing brought Phobos and Deimos to bear starry tears into the sky. She sung about Tania who failed in a sea of her own longing and Ayana who had succeeded too well and never realized till too late how no other will ever make her burn or burn so brightly as her dragon had. She sung of Kasra Kadri, who was a girl who hid in shadows and feared the fires of her destiny, who could not accept her own mother's greed or her planet's sad history as her own, until that very moment.
And in that moment, beneath Phobos' and Deimos' distant witness, her red hair turned into the darkness of a grief that held no words. Because no matter how selfish she wished to be, no moment could last forever, and his was coming to an end.
She sung until he closed his eyes as if to sleep, his sulfur breath stilling against her hand. She sung until his blood dried upon her wounds and congealed upon her torn armor, until his body was incased in flames. She sung until his embers turned to ashes, and his ashes blew into the wind. She sung of the tomorrows and the wars as she picked up his bones to make into a bow that she would carry always. Her words bore of prophecy, of the Moon and the Earth and the darkness of night and the fires of hell. She sung of two moons in the sky becoming one moon, and the lonely dark path before her now and the people she would meet.
She sung of the memories of sulfur, of golden scales and a mane of flames...
And after that night, she never sung again.
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Story also at: http // bjfactory . livejournal . com / 12709 . html