The Red Rider - the tale of the other rider, the first son of Selena. Dark; mirror storyline avec missing pieces. MxN.
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I was told that Selena loved Morzan deeply. That she was able to look past his faults, his evil and anger, that he was one of the Forsworn. Of course, his charisma and handsome features still unmarred by countless battles probably turned the tides in his favor. She left everything behind in her hometown for him—family, promises, any hope of a secure future.
I was also assured that he loved her, at least for a while.
Perhaps her simple background and similar nature soothed him from the exhausting intrigue of the Riders and Forsworn drama and drew him to her. However, her charm and quick wit must have kept him interested for she soon grew to have just as villainous a reputation to the Varden as he.
But while the two were together, nothing seemed too large to conquer—not the Riders, not the Dragons, not even Galbatorix—except me. I was the chink in his armor, the flaw in their plan, the thorn.
She traveled with him for three years, through thick and thin, until the evidences of his affection started to show. He spirited her off to his castle – a hovel compared to where Galbatorix suited himself.
The pregnancy was unknown to everyone, except Galbatorix, of course: nothing could be shielded from him. So from the moment I was conceived, I was illicit. Shunned, hidden due to shame though they called it caution. Truthfully, Morzan disliked me for being his weak link and Selena's tragic flaw. As a Rider and one of the undefeatable Forsworn he considered himself beyond petty weaknesses.
Morzan knew the dangers of children and the changes he saw in Selena angered him. He restricted her access to me because, in his eyes, maternity in a woman weakened her. And as his power waxed, his love waned. She had become indispensable to the Forsworn cause and to him. He used me to control her.
And yet, I never knew my mother, the Black Hand as she was known to her enemies and allies alike. She was simply a figure to me, a face to fill the position, a person at which to direct the emotions. I was taken from her bosom at a young age and passed on to a nurse.
"Murtagh, come here."
He turned to violence and drink, the latter usually after the former. The only heirlooms I received from my father were injury and insult. I took care not to antagonize him. Father though he was, I was no favorite of his.
I stayed where I was, eying him from across the room. I was perceptive for a young age and usually aware of his moods. Selena watched him cautiously, as I played in her arms.
"Do not speak to him when you are this way, Morzan."
He leapt to his feet, weaving only slightly. "Do not instruct me on how to deal with my own brood, Selena!" He sneered at her. "Black Hand? Black Widow is more fitting. You fill his ears with venomous lies of me."
"I do not. Why would I try to estrange a son from his father?"
"Why does he fear me then?" He raged. I cowered in her arms, and he gestured wordlessly at the two of us.
"If only you would not drink that vile substance in front of him."
"Silence, woman!" He snarled. He came toward us and tore me out of her grasp.
She, too, leapt to her feet. "Morzan, let go of him! You are not with your senses."
"I will take a hand in his growth now. I will show him to be a man, like his father. No son of mine will cower in his mother's skirts…"
"He is only three!" She pleaded. Then, she mumbled something and the air around me began to glow. But almost immediately, the glow disappeared.
Morzan laughed brazenly. "Pathetic," he jeered. "Do not test me, Selena. You were never a match for me in magic." He grabbed my arm and knelt down so that our faces were level. "Still afraid of your father, boy?" He asked me, spirit on his breath—in his soul, too, perhaps. (He was easily perverse enough to be a Shade.)
I began to cry, afraid, as I had always been, of him.
"Ha! See, this boy is not mine. No spawn of mine is a coward. Tell me, Selena, did you stray? After you promised me that your love for me was unlike anything you knew. After I slew anyone who merely glanced in your direction lewdly?"
She smiled, indulging his temper. "How can you think that, Morzan? He could only be yours." Whenever Morzan was intoxicated by mead, she plied him for favors—more time with me, a separate room for her, her own steed, eldunarí of her own. "You test him too much. Let him grow. Let me raise him to become you."
"Not mine, this filth staining my floors."
He threw me from him and I landed on the stone floor, my cries renewed. Selena started toward me, but Morzan warned her with a look to stay back. She realized now that this game was dangerous for me.
"I shall end this heresy, this testament to your bad character." He unsheathed his sword and spoke several words aloud, red in the face either due to the mead or rage. "Look at him. Thin as a stick. Starved of a mother's affection and a father's love – of course he is mine." He rushed toward me, his sword aloft, the blade incandescent with heat, and sliced at me.
At the same time, Selena screamed, words that meant nothing to me but had effect all the same. Lights flashed, Morzan fell. The glowing sword fell with a clatter beside him. I shrieked futilely as my mother hovered over me. Eventually, the pain lessened, or perhaps I lost consciousness.
And so, her love turned to hatred.
Perhaps she even rejoiced when Brom cut him in two.
Either way, she vanished without a trace. No one paid any mind to me; none comforted me for my loss. I was the sole reminder to his Black Hand—ineffaceable, living proof. He shunned me to her wing of the castle and I saw little of him from then own, not that I minded.
Morzan grew disconsolate and furious. The fate of the Forsworn seemed tenuous. I had heard several names being dropped: Vrael, Brom, Saphira, eldunarí…Galbatorix and Morzan argued day and night, with the former always winning, predictably.
Then, without prelude, she returned, stealing into the castle by her swain's absence. But she could not have been more different. My once, loving and carefree mother seemed burdened by more than the other child she had borne far away.
Before I could properly accustom myself to her appearance, she was gone. This time, forever. The magicians swore they had tried everything while ironically, her two paramours, battling each other for namely her, had decided fate, too. If she and Morzan were a match realized in the stars, nothing stood between them now.
Upon her return, she had seen to me, but the sight of my face only made her weep and grieve. Clearly, I reminded her of the love she had lost. And that the fate of her second child was left to the gods. Or was it the sad fact that my fate was sealed and she could not save me that devastated her?
As the son of a Forsworn, that too, the violent and twisted Morzan; within arm's swing of Galbatorix; against the backdrop of a revolution and uprising between the Riders and the chaos rendered by their enemies—how could I have avoided my future?
I was a victim of fate, and had been since the day I was born.
This was my inheritance.
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