Author's Note: Welcome to my new story!
I'll be honest with you, the reason it's taken me so long to post this is because... I'm actually really pretty nervous about this story. This story deals with religion, and I know people get really touchy about this. It's hard to write the search for the Holy Grail (or about the middle ages, in general) without getting into religion, though, at least somewhat. So I did.
It's... kind of a really different religious take on the Holy Grail. I like to think of it as "King Arthur for the Modern, Pan-Religious Age. Oh, and It's Got Vampires!" So... yep! Take it or leave it.
(My advice is... if you start reading the next chapter, and think, "Okay, this is too much," this story is probably not for you.)
All religion and controversy aside, I really love this story. The Kindle version (when it eventually gets posted... which I haven't done, yet) has footnotes that explain my many references and allusions to Arthurian legends/archaeology and explain the historical accuracy/inaccuracy of what I'm discussing. This version won't have those... but then again, it is free...
Introduction — the Nightmare
ONCE UPON a time, there lived a powerful magician who came from a mystical alien race. He had left a home planet filled with civil war and chaos, and had gone out into the universe hoping to find a better way of life. But it hadn't quite happened that way.
The magician had made a mistake.
An innocent man was wronged. Monsters were unleashed. Sacred trusts were broken. And the woman he loved…
He'd made so many mistakes. Terrible… horrible mistakes.
"But falling in love," said the magician, "that was never a mistake. I wouldn't take it back. Not for the whole universe."
He leaned over and took his daughter's left hand in his. Their hands shone, as they touched.
"Your mother," he told her, "was so beautiful. So intelligent." He shared the memory with her, the psychic images threading through their fingers. "Can you see?"
The little girl nodded.
"I loved her with more than just my heart," said the magician. "I loved her with my soul. She was of my right hand — just as you are, now."
The little girl frowned, confused. But she let him take her other hand in his.
"This is the power of the Tevin," said the magician. "The left hand is for sharing. The right is for sacrifice." Their right hands glowed, as well, as the magician accessed his great power. "I share my memories with you — as I do with many others — with the power of my left hand. But my soul is the gift I share for those of my right hand. I give you a part of myself, as a sacrifice. For you are my daughter, and someday, all that is mine will be yours."
The little girl was very young. She had never met another mystical alien, besides her father. She did not understand the power of the right hand. But she still felt his love for her, inside that transfer of power.
When they were done, the magician felt a little weaker, for his sacrifice. But he saw the face of his beloved daughter, and it gave him strength.
"The power of the right hand is sacred," the magician warned her. "It is a bond between you and another person. It is a sacrifice… a part of yourself that you can never take back." He leaned in closer to her. "If you share that power with the wrong person, then your soul will be lost. You will be lost." He tucked some hair behind her ear. "I cannot bear to see you lost like that."
The little girl looked down at her right hand.
"Will people want me to share it?" asked the little girl.
The magician laughed. "Everyone will," he said. "Every single creature in the universe. The power of the Tevin is legendary. Immense. That's why my people don't usually let anyone leave our home." Then, a little more softly, added, "And why they'll haul me back, if they find me."
"Are you going to leave?" the little girl asked, suddenly worried. "I don't want you to leave me."
The magician smiled. He took her tiny right hand in his, and curled it into a fist.
It glowed, a little, as he did so.
"I will always be with you," the magician promised. He looked deep into her eyes. "As long as you hold the power of the Tevin… I will always be inside your soul."
But he was wrong.
That night, after the little girl had been tucked into bed, just as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard things breaking, downstairs. The little girl's eyes popped open.
She heard more breaking.
The splintering of wood. The shattering of glass. The sounds of punches and hits and weapons.
The little girl hid under the covers. She decided this was just a nightmare, and she had to wake up. She heard a blood curling shriek, and squeezed her eyes shut. Knowing her daddy would wake her up, any time, and rub her back and tell her that he'd made the nightmare go away.
By the time the screaming stopped, the girl was sobbing. She still lay tucked under the covers, as far as she could go — waiting for her daddy to come in and tell her everything was all right.
The door to her bedroom opened.
The girl heard a man's footsteps, as he entered her room.
"Daddy?" the girl said, peeking out from her covers.
The man was not her daddy.
He was a tall man, his skin too pale, his eyes cold black orbs, brown hair slicked back and covered in specks of silvery-colored blood… and droplets of the same silver blood dripped from his canines.
"Forget him," said the man. He took out a handkerchief and wiped his mouth. "You'll never see that monster again."
He lunged forwards. Grabbed her by her right wrist.
"From now on," he said, "you're mine."
That was the end of the fairytale, for the little girl. All that was left, after that… was the nightmare.