Redemption

Leer versión en español

For thousands and thousands of years our world has been ruled by the most heartless and shameless of kings.  A god so mighty and vengeful no mortal or immortal has been able to dethrone such merciless beast.  No one dared to disobey or challenge the king, for they knew their fate was on his hands and their future would be bloodshed and destruction. No one, except for one, a beautiful and powerful goddess who ruled the land of the forgotten, the neglected creatures that were punished by the king and banished from his realm because they were powerless and useless to him.  She roamed the hidden sea of oblivion to try to free those ill-fated souls that were destined to rot in such Wasteland.  She was born out of the tears and sweat of the residents of that doomed land.  Her heart was so pure, it couldn’t be corrupted by dreadful temptations or lustful greed. 

 It didn’t take long for the news of an alluring young deity helping the misfortunate to travel to the tyrannous fiend’s ears.  As soon as he heard the rumor, he demanded she’d be brought to him.  As he laid eyes on her for the very first time, he became enthralled with her mesmerizing beauty.  He had fallen for her with just one encounter.  The vile king proposed to her to stay with him for eternity in exchange for her life, but she refused.  Still blinded by her beauty and elegance, he commanded one last time for her to become his.  However, the young deity was a prideful lady, she despised the King and wished to set the world free from such oppressive brute. The King seeing as she wouldn’t obey his orders and wished to rebel against him, cursed her to spend eternity as a bronze figure.   He stripped her off her power and turned her into a piece of art for him to admire perpetually.  He placed her on top of his “Victory Fountain”, a fountain made to inflate his ego depicting all the wars he’d won and all the men and women he had defeated, inside a garden only he had access to.   

 Day and night, he would sit at the feet of the human statue contemplating her splendor, but that wasn’t enough to satiate his thirst, so he searched land and sea for a formidable replacement that would never defy him.  A thousand years later he met a young mysterious woman, orphaned and nameless, that resembled the goddess in a tremendous way, her similarity was uncanny.  He enslaved the young woman, and she was to become his till he wished to dispose of her.  The woman later became impregnated with the king’s offspring, after realizing she was with child, she tried to run away but the king found out and imprisoned her until she gave birth to his progeny, ending her life afterwards, and ceasing all memory of her existence to all that knew her.       

“And a handsome and cartive prince was born”

“CARITATIVE…and yes, the prince would become the hope of humanity and the universe.  The astral force that would defeat all evil…but only if he can break what is meant to be unbroken”

“Eh…if It’s meant to be undrunken how can he succeed?”

“UNBROKEN…and only if his heart remains pure will he succeed”

“And who is this mysterious prince, mama?”

“You’ll find out in time, Kaivan”

17 YEARS LATER

The cosmic palace was in uproar, for it was finally the day the prince came of age and, as the king had promised his underlings, he’d finally reveal his son’s identity.  Since the son was “half mortal”, and the spawn of a mere human slave, the king’s initial plan was to dispose of him, erasing his existence.  He could’ve killed him while still in his mother’s womb, but he gained pleasure in watching the fear in the other’s eyes.   However, one look at the boy’s emerald eyes made him stammer. He felt a prodigious sense of protection towards that child.  It could’ve been an immense sense of guilt or perhaps, he was infatuated by the boy, either way, he agreed to keep him in one of the servant’s care.   As the boy grew older, so did the king’s obsession, he wanted to boast his splendid creation to the Million Empires that ruled the universe.  He needed everyone to know that his golden blood flowed through the veins of the kingdom’s prince, therefore he came up with the plan to reveal the prince’s name on his 21st birthday.  The king wasn’t a man of oracles or psychic banalities, so he impulsively made decisions based on his disposition or interest.  Never once he predicted that such judgement would falter his power and authority.

Arcana walked pass the corridors with a tray of tea in hand, with an elongated frown she sighed and stopped in front of one of the palace’s giant ebony doors. She grabbed the diamond doorknob and slowly opened the door, exposing the inside of the royal chamber.   There was a fair lad in the room, his back was bare, and his wavy chestnut hair danced over his shoulders as he struggled to put on a fancy ensemble, as two handmaidens tried to aid him. He turned around startled at the sound of the door opening, as soon as he spotted Arcana, his wide smile filled the entire place and his eyes glisten like the stars.  He ran to her and embraced her with such tender sorrow.

“Mother! I have missed you, how is it so that I’ve become a prince?” the prince desperately asked

“Fret not my son, it is true this is who you truly are and who you were meant to become, but remember child, I’ll always be your mother”

“So, the prince from the tales was no other than me was it not?

“Yes, but you mustn’t be discouraged, for the future of our ether belongs to you”

“How can that be so, when I remember you saying, the king from the tales is such a wicked man?  How could a weakling as myself, rule the Million Empires?”

“Kaivan, my child, it’s all written, and the answer to that question lays within the slumbering damsel secluded inside the forbidden garth.  Find the key to her freedom and you shall find your answer.”

“Damsel? Surely you don’t mean…” Kaivan was interrupted by a bothersome sound coming from the plaza.

The people were cheering with fervor in expectancy of the prince’s reveal. Kaivan was nervous, a bit excited, but upset for the most.  “How could this be?” he thought, “I who was no one, is now meant to participate in such grotesque display”.  Things such as hidden princes, bronze goddesses and forbidden gardens were all things he believed to be made up tales. Things he wished that weren’t true.  Bewildered, by the noise and foolishness, he ran out of the room.  Ran and ran till he got disoriented and ended up in the entrance of the palace’s golden maze.  A maze that swallowed its victims and never returned them again.  Only those of royal blood could wander and find the exit.  Stunned and out of breath, he stared straight through the maze, focusing on a burning light that glistened inside the labyrinth.  As if bewitched by it, he earnestly followed it towards a dead end.  The obstructing wall began to expand, as the gold leaves that surrounded the maze spread creating a gateway to the forbidden garden.

From the garden, a heavenly voice drew Kaivan towards the Victory Fountain. With a sweet melodic whisper, the woman’s voice stroked his ears: “Upon the broken and neglected, a spear of sovereignty was erected, one pierce on tender flesh, and a drop of the golden linage will revoke the spell for justice to prevail” Kaivan immediately woke up from his trance and rubbed his eyes to adjust his vision.  He was standing in front of the fountain and was fascinated by the majestic beauty of the petrified goddess. At that moment he knew the voice that spoke to him belonged to the woman, he didn’t quite understand what the words meant, but he was certain his existence was far more valuable than he ever had imagined.  Kaivan, caressed the bronce figure and wondered if he really was worthy of such task.

“Upon the broken and neglected” he repeated to himself, could she be referring to the people of the wasteland, the “half-mortals”, she so wished to protect? He ran out of the garden and prepared himself for his journey.  Arcana waited for him by the door with a saddened smile.

“Mother!” Kaivan called surprised

“It’s time, my child, take care” they hugged with a solemn expression, then Kaivan made his way out.

All the men and women were gathered waiting for the prince to make his appearance. However, no one really knew what he looked like, so he took this opportunity to his advantage and blended in the crowd.  He subtly walked towards the gate to embark to his predestined quest.

The quest: 

Kaivan had abandoned everything to pursue the “spear” the goddess had mentioned.  He was traveling the sea of oblivion to acquire the powerful treasure. He offered 80 golden coins to a man with an old ship to travel to the cursed land.

“Aye, what brings a fine lad such of ‘yeself to these murky waters?” asked the captain of the ship.

“Fate” was the young man’s answer

“Then that must be some misfortunate fate waiting for ye.”

Kaivan ignored the man’s words and stood with both eyes fixed in the water.  It was the first time he had seen such mystifying view; he had never felt freer than at that moment.   The Wasteland, as everyone called it, was a land located between the mortal and the immortal realm, where neither mortals or immortals lived.  All of them being “useless half-bloods”.  The only way to get there was through the sea of oblivion, a sea so dark and deep, no man dared to cross.  It was said that those who went there by will would be sucked by the marine, lose all their senses and never be able to return.  Only immortals from the “High Ether” were able to withstand such power, come and go as they pleased.  Before reaching the boarder, the captain anchored the ship in a near island.

“Well lad, this as far as I go, I wish ye’ good fortune”

“Best to you as well captain”

Kaivan got on a rowboat and rowed till the ship disappeared and the entire place got dark.  After some time, he felt the sea opening and the wind got stronger. An enormous whirlpool formed in the water underneath him and with a menacing strength sucked the boat.  Kaivan began feeling nauseous and his breath ran out.  Before losing consciousness, he felt an embrace and a comfortable familiar fondle, a sensation he’d feel when his mother rocked him to bed every night.  He opened his eyes as wide as the sea and he found himself in land.   He was laying on a black sand covered in algae, around him were three haggard women that helped him up.

“Oh my, seems like this fellow lost his way.  Hey young man, are you alright?” said one of the old women with a thick accent.

“Have you gotten lost; these are no grounds for a fella such as ‘yeself?” said the second one.

“Poor boy stranded in such a place” said the last one.

Shaking off the sand and his concussion, Kaivan searched around as if looking for something important.  “Excuse me kind women, but is this the place they call the Wasteland?”

The women were surprised with his words and his manner of speaking.  They thought how such a fine young man could address such meager hags as “kind women”.  It was the first time, since the goddess’ disappearance, that someone spoke to the habitants of the land in such gentle fashion. Moreover, he seemed to have come voluntarily, which left the women rather baffled.

“Ya’, ma’ boy, this is the place” said the first

“But are ye’ lost or did you come on your own accord?” asked the second

“Are ye’ the promised one?” asked the last as the other two gasped in disbelief

“Are ye’ really the promised one?” asked the second

“The one with great power?” asked the first

The women mumbled to themselves for quite some time.  Kaivan wondered what they were talking about.  Was there a prophesy that spoke of his arrival?

“Pardon my interruption but perhaps you ladies can help me with something” Kaivan said with an anxious yet tender tone. “Do any of you know where I can find the ‘spear of sovereignty’?”

 “Aye, lad, you are indeed the promised one.  The high priestess Sanda, announced ye’ arrival long ago.  She said a man with golden and crimson blood would come.”  Said the first

“Sanda? Is she the goddess?” questioned Kaivan

“Aye, the high priestess, protector of the unfortunate, defender of mankind.  Boy the blade you seek hides beneath the Temple of Caelan, where the damned are put to rest.” Continued the second

“Only the pure and mighty can enter the temple, if ye are worthy, the temple shall appear” Finished the last

“And how do I get to the temple?”

“Once you’ve arrived at the waterfall say your name out loud, and the temple shall appear” said the three

Kaivan made his way towards the waterfall and as soon as he arrived, he felt a warm breeze and a comforting sensation.  It was a enchanting sight a grandeur only the gods were able to create, nature beyond its bounds. An immense contrast from the rotten environment of the rest of the land.  He took a deep breath and inhaled a light air that filled his lungs with amity.  He stood by the waterfall and said his name aloud, the ground began to shake, and the water began to split.  Surprised, Kaivan moved away from the opening waterfall and tripped, falling flat in the water.  The liquid doors spread sideways revealing a striking massive tower.  It was covered with golden walls, crystal windows and marble floors.  The Temple of Caelan, the place where the habitants of this land were cleansed from their “misfortune” during their last days of existence and buried after their demise.

As Kaivan walked inside the ground began to expand revealing golden stairs that lead to an underground chamber: “the blade you seek hides beneath the Temple of Caelan, where the damned are put to rest”. This was probably what the old lady was referring to, he thought.  He went down the stairs and while descending he noticed a shine that almost blinded him.  It was the spear, placed in the middle of the hall.   Kaivan walked towards it and grabbed it, simultaneously, he heard Sanda’s voice again, “Shed the blood of the earnest and the contemptible, only then can the world be freed”. As if hypnotized, his eyes were drawn to the blade and with a blank mind he pierced his arm and slashed his skin.  His blood dripped down the blade and the symbols on the hilt started to glow, Kaivan hastily woke from his daze as the symbols revealed a message.

The end of tyranny is now, thy blood shall rule through thy eternal immortality, fruit of both, the mighty god of destruction and the defender of mankind”

 “Fruit of the defender of mankind? Me?” As Kaivan questioned the meaning of those words, he heard the panicked screams of the people from the distance.  He ran out to find out what was happening, only to encounter his father’s royal ship alongside his men. The beast was enraged by his son’s disobedience and mutiny, he bowed to destroy each and one of all the living things that surrounded the Wasteland.  Kaivan drew out the sword, to what the mighty beast chuckled at its measly display.  On its own, Kaivan’s body reacted to the swords command, he stabbed it on the ground creating a colossal wave that wiped all the king’s men.  At the sight, the king discharged his wrath and pounced the prince.  His enormous hand embraced Kaivan’s fragile neck, tightening his grip with all his strength.

“I should’ve killed you my boy.  You have her eyes, her challenging demeanor and her stimulating look.  I shouldn’t have let you live” whispered the mad king in the young man’s ear.

“You’re right, you should have killed me back when you had the chance” answered the boy while stabbing the king with the spear.

The king trembled in agony as his body turned to stone, cracking like hardened sand.  The king’s body disintegrated along with the gloom of the land and the giant water swirl.  The land regained its vibrance and color and so did the habitants.  All the people of the Wasteland thanked him and bowed to him as he walked towards the ship to make his exit and return to the “High Ether”.

Upon his return he became the rightful king, the gofers and the fountain the old king had created, vanished along with him, and no sign of the old tyrant was seen again.  Arcana had disappeared as well, her being had been erased as if she never existed in the first place, like when his birth mother had departed.  Only Kaivan remembered his dear mother, he searched for her, but his multiple attempts ended in failure.  Kaivan would lock himself inside the now empty garden wondering why it all happened.  After grieving and mourning his mother’s death he heard Arcana’s voice in the garden. He looked around, had she finally come back?

“Mother!?” he yelled

“Kaivan my child, you’ve been brave, and you had proved your righteousness.  I’ve always looked over you, you have now become the king and defender of the Million Empires.  I must return now to my rightful place in the Temple of Caelan but remember that I’m forever by your side.”

“Mother?…Sanda?…He hesitated for a while, and with an affectionate voice and relieved sigh, he replied “Thank you”

The great goddess Sanda made her way to the temple where she would guide the lost souls and safeguard the immortal king, guardian of humanity.

*Inspired by a picture of  “Raíces” fountain (shown above) located in “Paseo de la Princesa”, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Photo taken by photographer Johnny Otero.  Follow him on Instagram: @otero.johnny

By Jess

Categories Fiction, Short Stories

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