|The Philosopher Queen
Author: Ann Lepson PM
Veraphilius: a world where women rule; among them the elite Solchice, who have a magic uniquely their own. In the capitol city, Veritah, a young Solchice shapeshifter, learns the intricacies of her world, of her fellow Solchice, and love.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 4,547 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 04-09-11 - Published: 04-03-11 - id: 2904844
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Veritah awoke to the burning pain. Her eyes adjusted as she looked out onto the world she had stumbled into four nights ago, disoriented from the pain from the arrow and her abdomen. Her small shelter that she found was a few broad leaves leaning on a fallen trunk. The sandy expanse was unlike anything on her world. What was this god-forsaken place? It was nothing like the Great River that wrapped around Veraphilius, her beautiful home world. It was nothing like the farmland, the endless, tidy rows of juicy fruit and herbs grown in the plains. The wooded area contained tall, but slender trees that whipped around in the wind; nothing to compare to the Sacred Forest, whose trees grew so large and elderly that their roots intertwined and the ground was not soil, but roots.
The scent of the sacred trees filled Veritah's senses, making her heart ache with so much pain it almost overpowered the pains of her early labor and place where she had hastily pulled the arrow from her thigh. But only almost. The ache in her heart soon faded, and replaced itself with a terrible, vast anger. Why did it have to be like this? Why did her child, her second child, her hope, have to die here? She knew why. It was because of them.
It was they who tore her son, her firstborn, from her. It was they who were treacherous snakes, lying and scheming for years. It was they who caused the rebellion and killed her friends, and tried to kill her. She could only hope that this child was dead so she didn't have to see its pitiful attempts at life in this strange foreign land, full of barren sand. Oh, how wonderful it would be to be back on Veraphilius, talking with Verien; to be in labor back home, where her mother Larama would brew the pain-dulling concoction and greet the baby when it arrived into the world. She fell asleep, exhausted from pain from her body and memories.
Her dreams had always been her escape, and she reveled in them. As soon as she closed her eyes, they would enveloped her in their sweet caresses, and spin stories for her, like her sister Ann and Besta did for her, and she did for her youngest sister Thaya. Veritah did not have her Solchice name, then. She had been just Itah. She was the third daughter, the special one, the one whom her mother and family protected with fierceness due to the first Solchice born in a family. If Thaya had entered the Solchice before the rebellion, before the terrible slaughter, she would have the prefix Ver- added to her name too.
"Verthaya.", Veritah thought. Her dreams took her back to her transformation, to the revelation of her gift and initiation into the Solchice, the only time her mother had left her with Ann and Besta and her mother's suitor.
She couldn't even remember the man's name, just that he was a fisherman and that he lived with them in their house by the docks on the Great River. The house was not the biggest they were to live in; Larama had moved her family from the cold mountains to the River and her skill as a healer and midwife was still unknown in the capitol city. She wasn't home; a baby somewhere near the river had swallowed the fin of a choking trout, a fish used for a specialty dish served to the Reigna, the ruler of Veraphilius. Only the organs of the choking trout could be used, the flesh caused scourging and anything else was toxic. So Larama had hurried off in hopes of rescuing the child. Ann and Besta were then 17 and 15, while Veritah, then Itah, was 11.
Her body had been a strange place to her, and she looked in the glass of the windows with fascination, looking at her small, newly budding breasts, and her slowly widening hips. She was of average height and weight, and had been delighted to see a silver hair on her normally dark blonde reflection. She had squealed so loud at the discovery of that first sign of the Solchice that Ann and Besta had dropped their staves and ran in from the practice yard in the back. But that was the day before, and today Veritah walked with a new haughtiness that annoyed her sisters.
Ann said to her, "Itah, if you hold your head any higher, they might plant you in the Sacred Forest for thinking you a tree!"
Veritah said nothing but sniffed pretentiously. Ann threw the dough that she had been kneading into a clay dish and set it aside to rise.
"Come on, Besta. I need some fresh air."
Besta consented and gathered up Kiko, Marah, and Star, who had been playing on the rug in the middle of the room that entered into the kitchen. Kiko, Marah, and Star were 2 and the children of her mother's current suitor. Veritah's dreams pulled their images from her memories: Kiko's curly brown hair and the way he had frowned if something confused him, his mouth turned down and eyebrows pushed together in almost comical exaggeration. Marah had her brown ringlets, and her bell-like laugh. Star was shy, hiding behind her brown hair that hung straight down over her eyes. They felt so close to Veritah, who had only memories of the triplets and her only brother. They died in the disastrous smallpox epidemic, after a wanderer carrying the disease stumbled through a Window into Veraphilius. The triplets had just celebrated their 5th birthday when they died. Larama mourned for years. That mourning had turned into joy when she bore another girl, another multiple of three, another Solchice. That baby had been Thaya, and was spoiled by the love of a mother who had lost so many children before.
Veritah was left alone in the house. She didn't worry. No one would come to the house that held a Solchice unannounced. The mother of a young Solchice was able to do anything to anyone who put in danger or caused harm to her Solchice daughter. Her mother was very just, but also very protective.
She went into her mother's bedroom to look at her silver hair in her mother's mirror. She was looking so intently for other silver hairs that she never heard her mother's suitor come into the room. He grabbed her shoulder, hard. No one had hurt her before. She expected pain during sparing or when Larama displicined her, but she did not expect it out of the practice yard or while she wasn't bent over her mother's knee. His harsh grasp surprised her, and she was startled as he spun her around and shoved her into the wall. He pressed up against her, his rancid breath stinking up her nostrils. He had been drinking, which explained why he was being violent towards her while no sane man would forcefully touch a woman, let alone a Solchice.
"So…you're becoming a little woman, aren't you Itah? Do you want me to show you what a man is? Do you?" He snarled drunkenly into her face, the butt of a cigarette in his hand.
Then he made is biggest mistake. He shoved her, still startled, onto Larama's bed and threw himself on top of her. She reacted and felt her body grow searing hot with an anger she had never felt before. She felt her flesh move and change without her control, and when she tore out with her hands they were the claws of a tiger, a huge cat that she had heard stories about from her uncle who lived back in the mountains. She lashed against his face with her razor sharp claws, and saw his surprised face through the eyes of the great cat. He still fought, pressing his lit cigarette into her neck, so she reached up with the jaws of the tiger she had become and bit into his throat. She pulled back with all her might, and ripped his throat from his body, his blood spraying out and splattering on her, soaking and staining her new fur. He sputtered and Veritah felt her body cool and turn back into the form it knew before. From then on, Veritah carried a small circular scar on her neck from the cigarette. He died on the floor of her mother's bedroom while Veritah curled up on the bed, shaking. Larama arrived home before Veritah's sisters and wept tears of anger and joy while she bandaged her now mature Solchice daughter's injuries and gently washed the blood from her.
That night Larama showed Veritah, still Itah until she went to the Solchice Temple to be trained and received her Solchice name, how to dress herself in the clothes of a training Solchice. Veritah was so proud of her new clothes, eagerly trading her child's gown and sash for the thick purple leggings and tunic that barely reached mid-thigh and studded gara belt, made from the skin of the deer that lived in the Sacred Forest. The next day Larama cut Veritah's hair to the short, chin length style of the Solchice and took her to the Temple. It was time for her to be initiated. The next morning was sunny as Itah walked up the stairs of the Temple, inhaling the incense and bubbling with excitement for her life as a Solchice to begin.