This is another story written by both myself and a dear friend of mine, Ichobana Rose. Enjoy, and, as always, let us know what you think! Thank you!
Long before the time of King Tristan and his star queen, Yvaine, there was a prophecy made. Indeed, it was at the very beginning of the creation of Stormhold. The prophecy was carved in the ancient language, in the stone that came to be used as the foundation of the palace. And so, it disappeared from memory almost as soon as it had been made.
But there was one who remembered it. A monk by the name of Ebenezer recorded it in his journal, which he passed to his apprentice after him. The apprentice carried the prophecy with him always, which of course was not good for the paper that it was written on. He had it memorized but was only able to repeat it verbally to the apprentice that came after him. And so of course there were mistakes.
And so the prophecy passed on its life quietly, passed from master to apprentice and committed to secret memory, out of sight to any who might use the prophecy in the wrong way. Unfortunately, the original wording of the prophecy was lost. But the original idea of it, which was what was important anyways, was always held.
For this prophecy stated that one day the stars would be free to roam the earth, both Stormhold and the universe outside, which is a thing unheard of. The one that would bestow the stars this blessing was to be of a star's blood, a child of a star and a human, which was also unheard of. For who knew of a star that would come to this earth to find love?
Stormhold, Seven Years into King Tristan's Reign (England 1867)
"Bendel, what's that?"
Bendel looked up from the straw dummy he was attacking with a wooden sword, and saw his twin sister Jacqueline pointing into the sky. The twelve-year-old boy looked up, and what he saw caused him to drop the makeshift sword.
"A shooting star, Jacqueline!" he cried excitedly in French, for that was the language of his part of Stormhold, rushing towards her. "She's coming our way!"
The children were delighted, for everyone knew that stars were cherished as the highest of beings, ever since King Tristan had made new orders for their protection, should one ever fall to Stormhold. True, there were those that still hunted them, but Jacqueline and Bendel knew nothing of that. Their parents had spoken nothing but good of stars, especially the goodness of the queen Yvaine, so they believed themselves to be highly blessed that a star should fall so near them.
The twins watched the bright light descend gracefully, landing not fifty feet away from the farmhouse in which they lived. It was then that they saw that it wasn't just one single woman approaching. There were three brightly glowing beings standing in the circle of slightly burnt grass. Excitedly, Jacqueline ran inside to tell her mother and father the news, while her twin brother went to greet the guests.
"Good evening, madams," he said respectfully, in English just in case. "Welcome to our home. Please, come inside."
The three women were stunning, almost too much for the boy to handle. They were still glowing almost bright enough to hurt his eyes. One of them leaned to her sister and whispered something. The three of them laughed, and followed Bendel to the farmhouse where his parents, warned by Jacqueline, were hurriedly preparing refreshments for the stars.
Jacqueline had gone out the back door, to gather flowers. She was unaware of the fact that she had seen her parents alive for the last time.
When the three women stepped into the door, Bendel's mother and father stood respectfully. The man, who had been a great explorer in his day and had the ear of the king himself, opened his mouth to say how honored he was that the three had come to visit.
He never got the chance.
Without warning, the three women each drew a long glimmering knife from her belt and struck at the two adults. Bendel watched, horrified, as his parents fell to the ground, dead instantly. In shock, he knelt in the pool of their blood that had formed as swiftly as blood flows, tears coming to his eyes.
One of the glowing women knelt next to him.
"Why?" he asked, in English.
"One does not ask such questions of superior beings," she said haughtily, in harsh English. "The stars have our reasons. They were pathetic anyways."
When Bendel next looked up, they were gone.
And such fury boiled inside him as cannot be described. He let the torrent of emotion out in a stream of agonized and jumbled French, causing his sister to come running from outside. Her cry matched his as she saw her parents lying there, and her twin brother soaked in their blood.
Stormhold, Fourteen Years into King Tristan's Reign (England 1874)
A great change had overcome the farmhouse in which Bendel, Jacqueline, and their parents had once happily lived. Bendel had, as was proper, inherited the whole house and estate, but a darkness had shrouded the young man, consuming him and engulfing him in the curse of bitterness that the witch left behind when they attacked so long ago, masquerading as stars. She had really come to the farm with one purpose, and that was to enrage Bendel enough for him to seek out the destruction of the stars. The witch had hoped that the lad would find some way to call the stars down to earth so she could continually kill them and grow younger. Her hopes of youth had died when they were killed at the hand of King Tristan and his men. But her wicked desires for Bendel had lived on in her absence, for the man harbored a bitter hatred for the stars and had found, deep within a cave, the way to call them to earth and destroy them. That way had come in the form of precious jewels, powerful enough that, were they thrown into the air, they could pull the stars down to earth.
He spent a whole year, devoted to learning the secret of the jewels and experimenting with them. In this time, he had grown darker in character while he grew stronger and handsomer in body. He would have been terribly handsome to behold had he not been so consumed with wickedness and hatred, all caused by a deep, painful bitterness.
While he had changed over the course of many years, so had Jacqueline. She became more beautiful and kind, turning into a true lady, and drawing light in towards her as her twin drew in darkness. She hated the cruelty of the old farmhouse, despised how it had become so dark and menacing. This place held happy memories for her, and Bendel was fast destroying the good memories and filling them with cruel ones. The young woman barely ever saw her brother, he was so involved in his missions, and when he invited friends to the farm, she avoided them at all costs. They were vulgar men, thoughtless and heartless, and she often went to her chambers and locked herself in, keeping herself minimally safe.
But the day came when she could no longer stay safe. She had been passing by her brother's quarters when he heard him talking about calling down the stars and destroying them, and she could no longer hold back. With complete terror at the cold-blooded murder her brother was planning, Jacqueline ran, uninvited, into Bendel's rooms and pleaded with him for mercy for the stars. They were good creatures, powerful beings, and he couldn't possibly kill them! Didn't he remember the way they used to look at the stars and admire them from a distance? Didn't he know how the good Queen Yvaine herself was a star?
But Bendel refused to listen. He brought her forcefully to her chambers and locked her inside. He then sent for Garris, one of his deepest friends, a truly wretched man who had asked him, on several occasions, for Jacqueline's hand. In rage and mindlessness, Bendel met with the cruel warrior and informed him that his sister was waiting in her chambers for Garris to come and take her away.
Never in her life had Jacqueline been more terrorized than when Garris had walked through that door and took hold of her. He pulled her out of her chambers, and while she cried out and fought the whole way, she was no match for the powerful man. Her screams turned into cries of mercy as she and her captor moved towards Bendel, standing in the hallway, but her cold-hearted brother stepped aside, letting his sister and her consort pass by, informing Garris that he had Bendel's permission to do what he pleased to bring Jacqueline to a breaking point. The only thing he wanted Garris to promise was that the warrior would never let Jacqueline out of his castle, and to this Garris heartily agreed.
Bendel's gentle sister was locked into more chambers in Garris' castle and then spent a week doing whatever it was Garris gave her to do. She accompanied him to great dances, in which he pulled her far too close to his body for comfort, but there was nothing she could do. She served him and his friends meals, late into the night, and bravely endured their crude jokes, their blatant indications, and their evil eyes. Garris himself did little to threaten Jacqueline, but she found him constantly watching her with a look that was anything but kind and pure. No, he seemed to be musing in his mind whether it would be proper or not to harm her physically, and his gaze came to be something she dreaded.
By the end of the week, the master of the castle's intentions were perfectly clear, as he often caught Jacqueline in the most uncomfortable moments, brushing past her in the hallway, catching her eye every time he was near her, and touching her lightly and briskly, not in any inappropriate ways, but in ways that informed her that there was more on his mind.
The girl could barely stand any of that, but she bore it like a saint, until one particular afternoon found her alone in Garris' great dining hall, on her hands and knees on the floor, scrubbing up wine stains and dried juices crusted onto the great stones. She used a coarse brush, and tears rolled down her cheeks as her knuckles constantly scraped against the floor, chaffing them and making them bleed. The water stung her cuts, and she couldn't help but sit back and cry as she gazed at her bleeding knuckles, asking God what she had done to deserve any of this.
She heard Garris sit down next to her, shushing her with his deep voice, and she hadn't struggled when he took her hands in his and began to wipe the blood away with a damp cloth. He seemed so kind, strangely, and flattered her gently, treating her almost as one would a child. The blood was wiped away, and then he took her hands and lifted them to his lips, kissing her torn skin gently. And then he had looked at her with those dark hazel eyes of his, and she had experienced a great sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
She scrambled to her feet only to find that her hands were still locked firmly in Garris', and while she pleaded for him to release her, he didn't, but instead stood up with her. She felt so small, so alone and scared, as he towered above her and told her everything that she had already seen in his eyes. Thoughts of Joseph, the son of Israel, flickered through Jacqueline's mind, and before Garris could do anything more than tell her of his desires, she, like Joseph, had fled, twisting her wrist in the process.
And so Jacqueline had escaped the castle, running in the middle of the night through dark, dense woods. Garris had immediately sent men after her, but only one remained close enough behind her for her to hear him. Alvar was Garris' greatest warrior, and he could ride a horse and track prey like no one in the rest of Stormhold. He very nearly caught her, but the wounded and frightened woman found her way to an old, crumbled wall with a significant hole in the middle, and she sprang through the hole just as he brought his horse to a stop next to her and attempted to get her.
But he was too late. Jacqueline was already through the wall and in an entirely different world.