Laws of Gods and Men

Michel Salvatore is a boy saved by a benevolent Queen. A rags-to-riches narrative at first glance, Michel soon realises he had entered a court of gods at Her Majesty's behest, a feat of great honour to a mere mortal.

He did not care for glory or all the others.

For his hatred burns for them.

*An entry for the "Strange the Dreamer: A Writing Competition" with the theme of GODS AND MORTALS.*

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6. New Wind

Many seasons pass, and it is now winter once again. The balcony is filled with the clink of crystal glasses, for we have acquired Tiraxes in the Southlands.

Through peaceful means. That, we celebrate.

We have decided I would not become a god, until I choose to. Queen Valencia wants me to, of course, but that is for me to decide. I haven't as of now. Even so, it’s not that hard to imagine. I’d be immortal just as they, and we’d be together, forever. That’s not quite a bad idea, given I have nothing left outside this walls.

I never heard of my sister again, nor have I heard anything from the court I used to train in.

To my world, I am forever lost.

Yes, I can imagine my future with her, and the Roses.

‘For Amare.’ Hest clings to Aimeric. Aimeric says nothing, but he laughs at the festivity of our toast. A bit too festive, for a camaraderie of eight. Yeva tackles Irri and shouts, ‘For us, the rulers of the world!’ Irri shoves her aside, and Lethe breaches her way in between the two. It’s not impossible, given her miniscule size.

‘Maybe it would help if I remove that notion for you, Yeva,’ Lethe said. Yeva immediately pulls her sceptre against her. ‘No, thank you, memory-worker. I’m perfectly fine.’ She backs up, clearly horrified at the notion.

A smoke started to coalesce from Lethe’s eyes. ‘Trust me, Yeva. It will do your pilfered tongue some good,’ she remarks.

‘What was that?’ Yeva’s voice turns to a higher pitch.

Irri gulps. ‘Ladies, do try to calm down.’ He comes between the two goddesses. ‘It will do no good if any one of us ends up falling to our deaths.’

Yeva snorts. ‘Nonsense, Irri. It’s not that high.’

‘For you, that is,’ Aimeric finally speaks. ‘Oh, shut up! Just go back and eat our dear Hest up!’ Yeva shouts to him. ‘That’s what I intend to-’ Aimeric doesn’t even manage to finish his words before Hest elbows him in the gut. I see his cheeks are flushed with a tint of gold. Gold as the mischievous glint of gold in Aimeric’s eyes. My mind quickly flashes back to the golden glint of Queen Valencia's skin.

Do gods bleed gold?

‘Yes, we do, Michel.’ Lethe turns her attention to me. Only now do I notice her smoke as covered my head. I immediately step aside from them, a yelp escaping my lips.

Peadar clears his throat. ‘Lethe, you will do no such thing to Yeva, or to anyone. Yeva, do try to restrain yourself.’ Yeva grunts and sits on her chair. ‘You’re no fun, mortal,’ she whines. Peadar raises an eyebrow. ‘At least I do not possess the mind of a child, immortal.’

Irri laughs - his laugh silvery and bright, and the cold strikes us again.

‘Irri!’ We all yell. ‘Sorry,’ he answered. This, I learned later, was what won us Aerith. Without him, we would all have frozen to death before we even reached the capital. He closes his eyes, his body shimmers gold for a moment, and the warmth returns to our bodies.

‘Irri, do have mercy on this old man,’ Peadar pleads. ‘This old, mortal body can only take so much.’

‘Liar,’ Hest chimes in. ‘You opened that baton weeks ago.’ Aimeric nods vigorously. ‘I saw it too.’ Peadar laughs as his deception is exposed. I noticed the flush on his face; once red, now gold, a proof of his change. No one knew what sort of god he’d become, but Queen Valencia told us it was nothing to worry about. After all, he was the first to use the metal. It's still too soon to tell.

‘For real?’ Yeva shouts. ‘No one told me!’ Lethe nudges her. ‘That’s because you always make a humongous affair out of everything, hence our silence.’

'I do not!' Yeva yells again, her voice indignant.

'Yes, you do,' Aimeric quips. It is safe to say what followed next was atrocity at its finest.

Queen Valencia chuckles. She cocks her head towards my side. ‘You’ve been a silent one, Michel.’

‘Hm?’ I murmur. She retreats to the ballroom, and beckons me to follow her. Their conversations flitted past, falling back to a certain rhythm.

‘What is it, Your Majesty?’

‘What’s bothering you?’ She said softly. ‘You haven’t been yourself.’

I laugh bitterly. ‘I don’t even know “myself” anymore.’

‘Is it them? Do they still make you uncomfortable?’ She cocks her head to the direction of the balcony. Her court. I shake my head. ‘No, Your Majesty. It’s not that-’

‘Heavens above, Michel. Seasons have past already.’ Lethe’s lithe arms envelope my body in hers. I gasp and nearly drop my goblet. Queen Valencia clears her throat. ‘Lethe, it is ill-advised to sneak up on people, moreso your Queen.’ Lethe sticks out her tongue and retorts, ‘Alas, he is not. So no harm is done.’

I shake my head. Irri runs inside. He slings her miniscule body to his shoulders, much to her constant protest.

‘You’re bothering me, Irri,’ she grunts. ‘I’d rather be doing that than risk our Queen’s wrath,’ he replies.  ‘Rest assured, Irri,’ Queen Valencia interjects. ‘You’re in no trouble.’ Irri and Lethe go back outside.

‘So…’ She turns her attention back to me. ‘She does have a point, Michel. Seasons have passed. Why does their presence still bring you distress?’ I gulp. I stammer as I try to find the right words to say. ‘It’s not….Well, who am I deceiving anyways?’

‘No one,’ she remarks. I sigh.

‘Yes, seasons have passed. But time doesn’t heal every wound.’

‘Wait, I thought you’d let go of-’

‘I do not speak for myself, Your Majesty.’ I pause for a moment. ‘I speak of them.’ I slightly turn my head to their direction. ‘I was not my best self.’

Her shoulders slump. She closes our distance. ‘And neither were we. We all rarely are. Don’t punish yourself for that, Michel. It was no fault of your own, and nor was it a fault of theirs.’

My eyes water, but the tears don’t fall.

‘We all have faults, Michel. I wasn’t good enough a god for you mortals, and they paid the price for it.’ She clasps my hands to hers. ‘Peadar paid the price. You paid the price. I know you mortals have your own shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean we gods are free of them. What’s past is done, Michel. So are our mistakes. We just have to learn to live with them.’

‘Your Majesty-’

She pushes a finger to my lips.

‘Worry no more, sweetheart, and drink. It is a happy day, and so we should celebrate. I’m sure they don’t hold anything against you.’ She returns to the joyous laughter of the court. She turns to me one last time. 

‘Best to enjoy every heartbeat, Michel. Let yourself be happy, just this once.’

I stare at the clear liquid in my goblet, and take a sip. I feel it moistening my throat, relieving it of my thirst. I return to the merry group, and we all eat, talk, laugh, and drink.

It is a happy day, she said.

I suppose it is.

 

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