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An Atlantean TaleBroken World
By Daniel Armiss
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Daniel Armiss
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow It Began
They say that humanity has a penchant for moving forward and that no circumstance is too difficult for us to overcome. While this may create an optimal atmosphere for development and progress, it can present very dangerous side effects. For example, it is impossible to know when we have passed the point of no return and when a success will create destruction that will poison the entire world. The people of Atlantis were among the first to learn the dangers of too much progress gained far too quickly.
The great ancient city of Atlantis was scenic, advanced, peaceful and powerful. The city was the only one on the island and the only one of its time that could boast such advancements in science, magic and living conditions. The island had a main pier beneath the front of the great city for fishing boats to dock. When a fisherman docked his boat, there was a path to take that would lead him to the great walls that separated the city of Atlantis from the rest of the island. The city itself glowed with a gentle light that emanated from the many torches and lanterns lining its prosperous streets.
The people lived in well-made huts of stone and Atlantean steel. If someone were to stand in the streets during the day, their nose would be filled with the smell of freshly made pork or chicken and their ears would recognize the gentle sound of people going about their daily work. On a night like this, the streets that wound through the city were generally quiet, touched only by the occasional laughter of children out late and the gentle glow of the street torches lighting the possible paths. The city itself was built upon a great hill that expanded upwards and peaked at the pride of the city, the great palace that overlooked it.
The palace was a beautiful combination of marble and Atlantean steel that would glisten in the sunlight and twinkle in the moonlight. Its many towers rose high, as if they could touch the night sky and pierce its velvet twilight. To connect the palace to the city, a great winding staircase led from the top of the palace down to the great walls that surrounded every inch of Atlantis. Within the king and queen's quarters, the beginning of the trials to come for Atlantis and its people was already underway.
King Dirllian was in his wife's room. The inner quarters quivered with moonlight, alive with the passion of a wife and husband who wished to have a child—a son to take their throne.
However, they say as one laughs another weeps. But what is the weeping? If life has no true purpose, is there much to weep for? Does the life of someone who never existed actually warrant such weeping? What of the husband and wife? While the mother carried the child, never once did she get to hold his hand. Never was she able to give him the gentle hug that any mother would give her child. Queen Mirinda expressed this very pain to her husband six months into her pregnancy as she spoke one of the most difficult phrases she would ever utter: "I lost him."
* * *
"Dasha!" called out a woman to her daughter. "Come here now, we must pay our respects to the king and queen, and this cannot be done if you dilly around like that!"
The young twelve-year-old girl, Dasha, walked up to her mother. She wore a white female's tunic connected at the shoulders. The sleeveless garment went down to her feet, meeting her delicate sandals. She was a pretty girl, young, but pretty all the same, with long dark hair that was pulled into a ponytail that reached the middle of her back.
Word had reached all of Atlantis about Queen Mirinda's miscarriage of her son. Everyone, from noble to lowly peasant, was expected to pay their respects. Dasha understood that this was a painful time for King Dirllian and Queen Mirinda, but she had no interest in going to the palace for any reason. Beyond the fact that it would be incredibly depressing, every time Dasha went to the palace with her mother on any errand, it was painfully boring.
"Mom, why on earth would they care about my respects?"
Her mother looked up. She had short black hair, not long like her daughter's, and her eyes were green, while Dasha's were blue. Her mother wore a white robe with a blue trim, and the waist was studded with gold. Her gold earrings indicated wealth. Dasha's mother stood up, balancing a basket of fruit and vegetables on her head.
"Your father has a high position in the Atlantean council. So your respects are expected," answered her mother. "Now come."
"That's another thing," said Dasha, following after her and pocketing four gold pieces. "You say that my father is important, but never once have you let me meet him."
"Hush, now, and come," her mother barked in response.
One child's words and another person's actions ... are these only moves in the greater scheme of things, as we go from one place to another? When does it end, how do our actions today affect us in the future? All we know is the wheel of destiny does not stop for anyone; nor does it slow down ... Life goes on. The wheel continues to move ...
* * *
"Adume, as my son and my heir, you must continue our legacy. You must take our sacred book, Tome of Aura, and carry on. Our people will now look to you for support." Inotia Anatrian, confined to bed, coughed badly as he spoke, blood sputtering out of his mouth. He looked up at the sky. "We've been through much, but we must continue. More beings come every day to our great city, and now you will write your own pages, Adume, my son." He gasped for air. This man's thread of life was very soon going to come to an end. He was holding his chest and wincing as another man placed his hand on Inotia Anatrian's forehead.
"His disease worsens. Please, Master Inotia. We can heal you. Permit us to do so."
Inotia looked at the man. "My time is complete. It is time for me to pass the banner on to a new generation." He coughed, then looked up and gasped for air. Even so, in his last words, he stuttered, "I ... I wonder what remains for me out there ..." His eyes closed as a peaceful smile came across his face.
A great solemn silence fell upon the chamber, and then the man named Adume went to Inotia's hand and took off a red jewel ring. He kissed the ring and placed it on his own hand. Then he took hold of the sacred book of the Aura humans, the Tome of Aura.
"We begin our next age now. Let Aura Master Inotia be given the burial he deserves. His tomb awaits him."
* * *
King Dirllian and Queen Mirinda were in the throne room, mountains of gifts around them. Adume entered.
"We mourn the loss of two lives today," Mirinda commented.
Adume nodded to the queen. "Sir, Lady Dasha and Lady Iona are here for you."
Dirllian nodded. "Bid them enter."
The doors at the head of the throne room opened. Iona and her daughter Dasha entered.
"Your Majesty," said Iona, bowing. "We all weep with you. I come bearing you an old family recipe." She placed a metallic bowl at the foot of the throne, inside which were the vegetables. Iona took out some powder from her robe, shook it, and then in a swirling motion dropped it in the bowl. A puff of smoke ascended and dispersed into the ceiling. A soup appeared in place of the vegetables, and it did smell wonderful.
"My family eats this when a tragic event happens. I offer it to you."
Dirllian nodded. "Thank you."
Dasha dropped the gold pieces at the queen's feet. "I know it's not much, but I hope it's enough."
Mirinda looked at the gold pieces and sighed. "Thank you," she said, taking ahold of them. "Now if you would all give us privacy."
Iona and Dasha nodded, stood up, took a few steps backward and left.
When the room was clear of everyone Mirinda turned to Dirllian. "These gifts are pointless. Nothing can fix what we have lost!"
"They have no other way to express—"
Mirinda stood up abruptly. "As comforting as they are, their thoughts offer little to allay the pain that torments us! I wish for a way to undo all this pain. No amount of gold pieces can make that happen!" Mirinda tossed Dasha's gold pieces across the throne room and rushed out.
The door to the hallway closed behind her, leaving Dirllian alone in an empty and now hollow room. He closed his eyes and lay back against his throne.
What was next for him?
Chapter TwoTime Marches On
Mirinda went into her room. She lay facedown on her bed and wept into her pillow. Her long brown hair covered her like a blanket, obscuring her long blue dress. The dress was studded with diamonds on the skirt, and a long silk cape hung from her shoulders to her high heels. Her cape now drifted around her as if to guard her from the horrible reality. She looked at her hands; they were trembling. She dropped her head back down and continued to weep for her lost child.
He had a name, he had a future, I held him for six months, and I lost him. I was so powerless to help him. King Dirllian, who was right outside her quarters, knew her silence, and he knew what she was thinking.
He walked down the long hall, dressed in a silver shirt studded with gold around the neck and with gold buttons at the shoulders to hold the sleeves in place. He wore white pants and, like his wife, he had a long silk cape from his neck to his feet.
"Adume," called Dirllian when he saw him in the hall. "Inform the cooks that the queen will be dining in her room tonight."
Adume bowed to his king, then standing straight answered, "What of you, sire?"
The king shook his head. "I am not hungered." He kept walking, and then stopped. "Adume, how do the funeral preparations progress?"
Adume nodded. "Well, the service is scheduled for tomorrow."
The king looked at the floor for a second, then back at Adume. "Hmm, a shame the people of Atlantis must mourn the loss of our son and one of our Aura humans."
Despite the fact that the people of Atlantis were focused on the loss of Dirllian and Mirinda's unborn son, it was still touching for Dirllian to mention the death of Inotia. Inotia was an Aura human, one who had been gifted with the power of aura, which was a human life force. All Aura humans, Adume included, had a stronger aura, which let them use their powers and also guaranteed them much longer lifetimes than anyone else. Aura humans were revered in Atlantis, due the wisdom they acquired from witnessing so much, and they were kept as the king and queen's chief advisors.
Adume walked closer to the king and whispered, "If I may, Your Majesty, you have been through much. I can deal with the day-to-day work. Should you not go be with the queen?"
Dirllian shook his head. "She needs to be alone for the time being. Besides, the rebel hordes still require my attention. The last thing Atlantis needs is a war at this time."
"As always, you are correct." Adume bowed and headed off, when Dirllian called back to him.
"You, however, should go see your wife."
Adume nodded and smiled slightly. "Of course, sire."
The two parted ways. Dirllian went up to the balcony and looked out. If it's the last thing I do, I will have an heir to my throne. I will eliminate this needless death! I swear, I will find a way to make all this right! he thought.
* * *
Dasha walked around looking at the city walls. They were tall and looming. Dasha had always been curious about why such walls were placed on the outskirts of the city. Many people in Atlantis shared her curiosity, but very few acted on it, and even fewer knew the truth about what lay beyond.
What could be hiding out there? she thought. Dasha paused for a moment and then decided that today she would satisfy her curiosity. She climbed up and looked at the outskirts of Atlantis. The truth was, within the main city's walls, she was really isolated from the outside world's events, and Dasha's mother had strictly warned her about crossing over to the other side: "Never ever go beyond the city walls. What lies outside is beneath us. Traversing there is strictly forbidden. Do you understand?"
Dasha had assured her mother that she would never cross the city walls, but she had only said that to satisfy her mother. Dasha was still incredibly curious about what Atlantis felt was necessary to hide behind such a great barrier. Outside of the city walls, she could see the port where the fisherman gathered their catch, cast off, or returned to the city, and she could see their path straight to the inner walls of the city. Once again, however, even on that path, they were isolated. What was being hidden from Dasha? What did her mom not want her to see, and what did the past kings and queens of Atlantis decide was so horrible that it had to be kept away with a wall?
It took some doing, but Dasha climbed down the wall and snuck into the outskirts of Atlantis. The first thing she noticed was the putrid smell, like rotting fish mixed with garbage. The next thing that Dasha saw was the rundown village in front of her. When she walked closer to it, the smell increased tenfold. Within the city walls, Atlantis was pristine: the buildings glowed in the nighttime and glistened in the sun. The streets were relatively clean and people traveled on carriages and carts, or by horse. Some of the rich or those with connections to the rich could get their hands on civilian-made flying machines to get around even more quickly. Vendors and merchants were commonplace, though most were confined to a particular part of the city. Their wares were of high quality, ranging from fine silks to succulent meats.
This village was a glaring opposite of the city. The roads were barely functional, and most were made with dirt or mud. The buildings were huts fashioned out of mud and broken down rock. The worst was the people. Many were sick, some clearly dying, and they traveled by mule or on foot. Before Dasha could explore further, someone grabbed her arm. She turned and looked at who was holding her.
"You're not from around here, are you?" said a man dressed in torn rags.
"What? Why do you ask?" responded Dasha.
The man kept a firm grip and pointed at Dasha's clothes. He ran his hand down her side. "Silk dress, one piece that goes from your shoulders to your skirt." He ran his finger across the golden lining at the bottom of her skirt. "Golden lining indicates wealthy-ness, if that's not enough." He moved his hand up to her shoulder. "Gold buttons that keep them in place, and are those earrings crystal?"
Dasha put her hand to her ear; she was getting quite nervous.
"Everything about you indicates you are from the city." The man took out a knife and pointed it at her face. Dasha's eyes grew wide. "And if you want to return in one piece, you won't make a sound!" He put his hand over her mouth.
* * *
Within the palace, Dirllian was looking at some papers as he sat at the dining table. In front of him was a bowl of grapes and a glass of Atlantean blue wine.
"Are they insane?" he said roughly.
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," said a soldier.
"Sorry is not good enough," Adume cut in. "These demands are ridiculous! Entrance into the city, access to the Aura human book and the royal treasury! These are rebels, not even a full army. Why on earth would we satisfy these demands?"
The soldier held up his hands somewhat worried as he answered. "Our sources indicate that the rebels strength grows each and every day, skirmishes against our men are—" Dirllian stood up quickly, knocking over his wine and grapes, the glass shattering as it crashed onto the marble floor.
"I do not care what they demand; I will not compromise the lives of my people to avoid a war against fools arming themselves with clubs and sharpened sticks!" Dirllian tore the demands up. "Get out!"
The soldier bowed and left.
"Adume, use whatever spell you deem necessary," Dirllian said, "but figure out a way to power our army. I was hoping to avoid this, but perhaps we can terrify those rebels into giving up their foolish desires."
Adume nodded. "Of course, sire. I believe I may know exactly what to use."
"Very well. You are privy to the situation out there, correct?"
Adume nodded. "Yes, sire. If you wish, I will lead the soldiers there myself."
"I do so wish," answered the king. Adume bowed and exited.
The maid came in, dressed in a bright green dress and a green veil with a silver lining. Of course, since she was only a maid, the silver was fake. Her dress, like many of the other females' dresses, was a one-piece that went from her shoulders to her hips, and flared out as a skirt at the bottom. Her dress was long-sleeved, but the fabric was thin so she would not be sweltering hot while at work. Maids were almost constantly moving due to their tasks. As she entered the room, her veil got caught on the table, revealing long blonde hair. She quickly fumbled to pull it back up as it was a crime for a maid to reveal her hair to the king.
"I am very sorry, Your Majesty," she said, quickly placing her veil back over her head, but fumbling with it.
Excerpted from An Atlantean Tale by Daniel Armiss Copyright © 2013 by Daniel Armiss. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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