A/N: This story contains several dark themes, so reader discretion is advised. However, there aren't and won't be any lemons or mentions of any kind of sexual violence, so I left the rating as it is.
My heart numbed as the airship flew away from the burning city. The pilot spoke rapidly into his radio, the engine whirred, the bombs in the distance sent quakes through the air— yet my mind was far away. All I could see was the body in my arms, eyes open, mouth burned closed. I could barely see the resemblance between Amethyst and the body in front of me. Maybe it wasn't her after all. My eyes caught on the dragon necklace still around the body's neck, the metal pendant and chain burned black from tarnished gold, and my heart sunk once more. I gripped the pendant in my hands, feeling its familiar shape press against my palm. I felt the first tears begin to fall as I removed the necklace and put it on myself.
The airship, now far away from the city, crossed the channel to the other side of the bay. I looked away from the body and out the window and spotted the cliff we had stood on only a few short days before. I set her down gently in an empty seat, got up and stomped over to the pilot. I pointed at the cliff. "Land there."
The pilot didn't even spare me a glance. "I'm sorry sir, but we have to keep flying. It is not safe here."
I gripped his shoulders with trembling hands, shaking him roughly. "LAND..." The pilot looked at me fearfully before speaking quickly into his radio. After a moment's silence that lasted an eternity, he gave me a short nod and the airship began to descend toward the cliff.
The anger died as quickly as it came and I looked down at the quivering pilot. I withdrew my trembling hands from his shoulders and stared at them. What had come over me? I whispered an apology to him as the airship landed gently in the grass by the cliff.
I climbed out of the airship. The pilot shoved a piece of wood roughly into my arms. "This is the best marker I got for you. Make it quick," he muttered. I gave him a quick nod before I began to dig with my hands..
Minutes passed, but they felt like eternities. Sweat gathered underneath my brow. I barely made any progress. Resting momentarily, I removed the wet rag from around my face and used it to wipe my forehead. I looked upwards. Smoke billowed in the distance, hiding the world from a glimpse of the autumn sun. A few lonely birds flew overhead, their cries echoing back over the water. The channel, bustling with activity only a few days before, was empty, the waters undisturbed. A saccharine, smoky smell filled the air, all-consuming. I couldn't tell if the smell came from across the bay or—
A smile turned to ash. Mouth shut, never to open again. Eyes wide open, unseeing.
My hole was going nowhere. Looking around, I saw several stones lying by and realized how I would have to bury her.
The world had changed so much in just a few short days. Only yesterday I had stood here with Amethyst, admiring the view of Mysten from across the channel. Now...
A gust of wind blew in from the sea, blowing soot into my face and turning my brown hair black. I turned away and walked back down the cliff and into the airship, towards Amethyst. I picked up her body, feeling the familiar weight settle into my arms as I carried her back to the shallow hole. I slowly lowered her into the dirt.
I stared at her, heart heavy, arms unmoving. I wiped my eyes dry with my rag. Sadness faded as I felt something dark grow inside of me. Harania would pay for they did to her, to my family, to my people, to me. Every last member of Haranian royalty would perish by my sword— only then would justice be achieved. I picked up the first stone and began to cover her with them.
Each individual stone felt like a mountain, but it didn't take many to cover the body. Soon, she was obscured from my sight forever. I let out a deep breath I didn't know I had been holding.
I pulled a small knife from my pocket and began to carve into the wood the pilot had given me. I fumbled slightly, and the knife slipped and imbedded itself in my finger. I stared down at my injury for a moment before yanking the knife out, barely feeling the pain. My blood landed on the soil that covered her body. Slowly, I continued to carve. I soon finished, and only then did I notice the countless stinging cuts on my hands. I winced in pain but looked down to inspect my handiwork. Amethyst Parabellum, A.A.E. 4570 - 4587. The crudely carved words marked the beginning and the end of a life, a civilization, an era. I pushed the carving down into the loose soil at the head of the grave. It would have to do. There was nothing more I could do for her now, other than pursue the path of blood. I would tear apart this world in the name of justice for all those that were unjustly slain. Harania would learn to fear the vengeance of the last Prince of Atlantis.
I felt my knees buckle beneath me under the weight of a thousand restless souls. The shovel, so small looking down on it from above, now towered over me like a demon of war, beckoning for more. My father, and his worried frown. My brother, crying out in terror as the Haranian soldiers advanced on his trapped form. Amethyst, lifeless in my arms, mouth closed, eyes open. My hands trembled as I reached down and grabbed her dragon necklace from around my neck, cool metal digging into my skin. Dragon, a creature of legend, a symbol from the stars. Strength, perseverance, brutality. I needed all three now. I felt my heart close over in ruthless steel as I forcibly pushed myself back to my feet. There was no time to mourn. There was only one path forwards for me. Destruction would be my name, and this world would crumble in my wake. There could be no rest for the weary while the guilty clinked glasses and conquered what was left.
I spun around and hurried down the cliff, past the awaiting pilot and into the airship that would escort me away from my past and into a war-torn future. I strapped myself into the seat and gripped the armrest tightly as the airship's engine whirred to life. The grass blew wildly in the wake of the airship, but the engraved wooden marker stayed firmly implanted in the dirt, like a bastion standing tall against a massive, unrelenting army. The airship turned in the sky, tearing the grave and the smoke-filled sky from my field of view, heading south towards war.
The sun had just begun to sink below the horizon when the airship touched down in Aztlan, the capital of Kalaya. The engine's whirr faded to silence as I stepped outside, giving the pilot a polite nod. He didn't acknowledge my gesture, but I had already moved on, for just a few steps away was Queen Mariana of Kalaya with her armored entourage.
Mariana was a tall, frail woman. A crooked golden crown rested atop her head, her hair significantly more gray than I remembered. She wore a black dress, not a wrinkle in sight. Her eyes glimmered with false sadness as I approached. She ran up to me and pulled me into a hug. "I'm so glad to see you are alive. Don't worry, you're safe here. Your father was a dear friend of mine."
My father definitely was no friend of hers— despite blood ties to both of the states the House of Atlantis ruled over, it was not loved by either. I got along well with some of the younger members of her House, but she had always kept her distance from me. I despised fake niceties. "Thank you for your kind words and refuge."
Mariana pulled out of the hug after a few seconds, looking me up and down. "You're injured." She snapped her fingers. "Guards, escort him to the royal hospital immediately."
I raised my hand. "I'm fine for now. I'd prefer to talk with you first. Only then will I rest." I couldn't give her time to gather more information. The Fall had occurred less than 24 hours ago, and I needed to gain her favor before she obtained all the details.
Mariana looked at me worryingly. "I must insist that we head to the hospital immediately. However, we can speak more in the car ride there. Anyone could be listening to us out here."
I had no room to refuse her. She held all the cards in this situation, even though I was her rightful ruler. I would submit to her will for now, but no dragon would bow to those below it forever. "That sounds agreeable," I smiled politely.
Mariana clapped her hands and matched my smile. "Perfect." A servant opened the door to her black limousine and I went inside. Mariana climbed in after me, and the servant shut the door behind us. The car's engine roared to life and she began to speak once more. "I want to let you know that my first priority is to destroy Harania. Any country that is willing to commit such atrocities to Mystenian innocents deserves destruction."
I lowered my head. "Thank you. What about Karkaris?"
Mariana gave me a pointed look. "The rebel state has cut themselves off completely from the outside world.."
I thought for a moment. "As soon as I'm healed, send me to Karkaris. They will not be able to stay neutral for long, and I don't want Queen Ryla to be tempted by whatever lies Harania puts forth." I paused. "I will sway Karkaris to enter an alliance with Kalaya."
Triumph glittered in Mariana's eyes but she hid it well with a look of surprise. "Does that mean Mysten has chosen a side? The Mystenian code prevents the House of Atlantis from favoring either of its two subject states."
"The Mystenian code went out the window once they ransacked my city and butchered my family." I muttered darkly. "I'm with Kalaya as long as it remains opposed to Harania." And as long as Mariana didn't betray me. I had no friends, no allies. Despite the friendships I had formed with her children as well as her niece, I held no illusions as to what she would do to me the second I began to gain influence. However, if I could go to Karkaris and make friends with their Queen, Ryla…
Mariana knew I had forced her into a corner. She could not refuse my suggestion immediately after I had agreed to an alliance with her. "That sounds like a great idea. After that, though, I need you on the front lines. Alexander, is already there. Your story and background will motivate the soldiers, and your military training could prove crucial in winning this war." Nervousness entered her voice. "Alexander is an intelligent boy, but he hasn't had the military training received. You would be a fantastic advisor to him."
She was limiting my power by moving me as far away from people of influence as possible. She was counting on my youth to show and push potential allies away from me. I smiled. I was fine with her little challenge. Even if I failed, I would still get to slaughter the enemy, as well as be near my friend Alexander. "Happily. Nothing would give me greater joy than killing Haranians. I will do as you suggest as soon as the alliance with Karkaris is secure."
The car arrived at the hospital. The servant opened the door, and I stepped out into the cool evening breeze. Mariana came out after me and offered her hand. "I'll check in on you tomorrow. If you're healed, we can leave then. It was good to see you again, Kendall. You have shown true strength through everything that has happened to you. You have my respect."
True strength. I saw my brother buried underneath burning wreckage, my arms failing me as the metal refused to budge. I saw enemy soldiers round the corner, my brother's cries echoing after me as I abandoned him. That wasn't true strength. "Thank you. It's good to see you too, Mariana. I'm happy to know I have an ally in this broken, chaotic world." I gave her a parting hug, and she climbed back inside her limousine and departed.
Almost instantly, men and women in white robes surrounded me and escorted me into the hospital. After examining the wounds on my hands and my mild burn wounds from the Fall, they determined I was low priority and was left alone in a small room at the top of the hospital building, overlooking the city. An ominous, black smoke from the nearby factories rose in the air, and I looked away from the window.
A loud scream came from the hallway, and I heard the sound of doctors running. "My legs won't move!" he cried, the sound echoing in my ears. "Why won't they move?" I closed my eyes, willing him to be quiet. My brother… Amethyst… Father… all gone. Blood filled my vision, and I fell backwards onto my bed with a strangled cry.
I was in the passenger seat of the royal jet, laughing as my brother spun the plane in circles. The world twisted around me as we shot across the open ocean. "Jason, stop!" I smiled. "You're making me sick!"
Jason gave me an mischievous grin. "Wait until you see what I do next." The plane then steadied momentarily before taking an abrupt nosedive towards the waves. I laughed, hanging on to my seat for dear life. "Father is going to kill us!"
He looked at me slyly. "That's if he finds out." With a quick move, the jet leveled out only a couple hundred feet above the water, shooting back towards the golden capital of Atlantis, Mysten. "That being said, we should be getting back. Father will be out of his meeting soon."
I nodded in agreement. We had told Father we were skipping the meeting to socialize with Brooke and Alexander of Kalaya. If he found out we were flying the jet around instead…
The jet crossed back over onto land, the city of Mysten on the horizon. "We'll be fine," Jason laughed. "Don't worry too much. Look, we're almost— huh?"
A red dot appeared on the pilot's screen, growing closer to us. "What's this?" Jason asked fearfully before something slammed into the back of the jet, sending my vision spiraling. I looked backwards, and the entire back half of the jet was missing. Jason desperately tried to jerk the jet upwards, but the plane slammed into the dirt and my vision went black.
When I woke up, the wreckage was still burning. I looked down at myself, scanning for injuries. Blood trickled down my shins from where they slammed into the dashboard, but I was otherwise unharmed. I turned to Jason. "I guess we were lucky we were so close to the ground," I stopped my sentence short.
Jason was slammed forward against the dash, back bent in a horrible angle. A large tree had crumpled in the ceiling, pinning it on his back. His eyes looked at me weakly, blood trickling out of his mouth. "Help me…"
Terrified, I grabbed the metal pinning him and pushed sideways with all my might. It refused to budge. Tears streaming down my face, I pushed again. Still, it did not budge. I unbuckled myself from my seat and walked around to the other side of the wreckage and pushed again. It was too heavy for me. "I'm going to call for help!" I cried, pulling out my phone. I dialed the royal guard. Holding it up to my ear, I heard it ring seven times and then fade to silence. I looked down at my phone in shock.
Jason moaned. "What did they say…"
"They didn't answer!" I shouted, panicking. "What's going on?!"
"Put your hands where I can see them." A new voice spoke. Petrified, I slowly turned around to see five Haranian soldiers just across the clearing, guns trained on my chest. Screaming, I ducked underneath a piece of wreckage, bullets flying over my head.
"Save me…" Jason cried out. "Get me out of here!"
"I'm sorry…" I whispered. I heard the soldier's footsteps drawing closer, fear spiking in my heart. "There's nothing I can do… I'm sorry…"
"GET ME OUT OF HERE!" Jason yelled, his voice transforming from pain to anger, and my vision spiraled and I was back in the hospital again.
The cool floor pressed against my back. The ceiling fan rotated above me and several doctors looked down on me in concern. "Get him back onto the bed," one doctor instructed and I felt myself being picked up and then set down softly on the covers. I laid there numbly. I saw the doctors' mouths open and close, but no sound came out.
Suddenly, I was back on the cliff. Amethyst's ghost slowly rose out of her grave, arm extended. "Save me…" she whispered. "Save me…"
More ghosts floated across the bay, lining up in row after row behind Amethyst, joining in the solemn chant. "Save me… Save me… Save me…"
I fell to my knees, hands covering my ears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I can't. I'm only a boy!" I screamed at them. "What am I supposed to do?"
The scene shifted. I stood in the streets of Mysten, watching the world burn around me, and I remembered my purpose. What I had promised to Amethyst. The ghosts rose around me, disappearing into the smoke above. "A hefty duty…" I whispered.
I pushed myself to my feet. Chaos reigned around me, but I remained untouched. I took one step forward, then another. "A hefty duty… but a man without anything to lose is the most dangerous of all." I stood on top a pile of corpses— Haranian, Kalayan, Karkarsian. Every government was guilty. I knew it in my heart. I dug my shoe into the face of a fallen Haranian, grinning in satisfaction as I broke several of his teeth. The cold war had been played by all sides, but the innocents had paid the price. I would be the destroyer of all that remained, for in this world, justice would come by no other way.