Iniquities (Alysium, #1)

Alysium, a city punished by the Gods. The Curse states that darkness will invade the city, driving the city to the brink of recklessness, a city divided between those that seek the darkness and its powers, the Iniquities; those that seek the light and the goodness of humanity, the Purities; and those that seek a balance between light and darkness, the Impartials. In a world so ravaged by its own society, where trust is rare and everything you know is stripped, one must know themselves. Choose wisely.

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          It’s been exactly three days since the Gods decided to release the Curse on Alysium, leaving in its wake pandemonium and a blanket of impending darkness. For three days I’ve watched the tendrils of darkness sliver on the streets, sometimes curling itself onto the citizens of Alysium eliciting a change. Word has it that these victims, or so the people call, the Affected, are haunted and possessed by voices that encourage acts of evil, wreaking death and destruction; it is rumoured that these souls are those that the Gods frown upon and decide to punish. It’s also rumoured that some possess a gift by the Gods that allows them to resist the Curse, these are the souls that the Gods believe are worthy of a second chance. Either way, it appears that the Gods are attempting to cleanse us.

          For three days, I’ve watched people I know and love embrace the darkness that consumes them, welcoming it with their own until their minds and heart know nothing of love and compassion. I know this by the gleam in their eyes and the satisfied smile plastered on their face as they drive a knife through their supposed enemies. These people are known as the Iniquities.

          I’ve also seen some of the Affected revolt. They simply refuse to believe that the city of Alysium knows nothing of good. They align themselves with others that seek to destroy the fingers of darkness that curl around the citizens, and we know them as the Purities.There are also those that seek a balance between light and darkness. The Impartials are predominantly members of society who embrace both sides. The Impartials acknowledge that with the light comes darkness, and with darkness comes light and that both countermand the other to produce a balance essential for rebuilding Alysium to its previous prestige.

          For three days, I’ve cowered behind the curtains and huddled under the sheets of my bed, attempting to shut out the tortured screams of the Affected that never seem to end. I’ve witnessed the dark tendrils of the Curse tighten around my parents as they protect the door to our home and essentially Phelix and I; their whispered “don’t come out, we love you” being the last thing we heard. I’ve watched them convulse, watched the life in their eyes trickle away as their bodies are carried off by the Affected, while I stood by the window, motionless. For three days, my parents’ faces haunt my dreams when I do manage to sleep, causing anger to simmer in my blood, calling me to avenge them, eliciting thoughts of hatred towards the Gods.

          Today, I fill my bag with bottles of water, dry snacks, extra clothes and under garments, soap, a first aid kit and tampons, all my savings, two pistols that I found hidden under my parents’ mattress, and two sharpened kitchen knives. I call for Phelix and watch as he walks out of his room with a bag slung around his shoulders, carrying his own necessities. His dark hair lies limp against his forehead, the dark circles under his eyes mirror my own, the cold fury that flashes occasionally in his eyes, is displayed openly today. For someone two years younger than me, he looks older now, thanks to the Gods and their Curse. I give him a brief nod as I swing my backpack over my shoulders.

          We both make our way down the hallway, passing a long mirror on the left wall and some family photos. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror before staring at the photo that depicts the Hesper family just a month ago, all laughing at the camera lens. Phelix’s grip on my shoulder tightens, his lips pull back to form a grim line as he follows my eyes to the photo. In a month, we've changed drastically. I make a quick mental note of the photo before opening the front door of our house for the very last time, with the photos of our family being the only evidence of our mark. My backpack suddenly feels heavier, reminding me that these are the only possessions I now bear from my 17 years of existence. But I brush aside the little girl within me that mourns for the loss of her life, greeting the coldness that courses through my veins instead, because in a world where the Gods strip you of everything you know, you must at least know yourself.

          I’m Andrea Hesper, and my hatred towards the Gods is stronger than any weapon I bear. 

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