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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) - Literature (43) - Nairaland

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by kelsmic: 11:08pm On May 06
Awesome One ObehiD. Three steaming Updates. Gratitude! Saturday is just around the corner. Cant wait to know the tales of Arexon. Did Nebud really get the sore side of the battle? Guess you really dont know the gravity/ magnitude of war until experienced!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 1:01am On May 08
ayshow6102:

Lolzz so we should side with our kind even though they are wrong in trying to steal wat is not rightfully theirs

Technically speaking it is not the fault of the imps that they found themselves in that existence. They were enslaved and treated badly even though they seem to be wiser and seemingly stronger. Just look at this recent battle, no single imp died.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:02am On May 08
eROCK247:


Technically speaking it is not the fault of the imps that they found themselves in that existence. They were enslaved and treated badly even though they seem to be wiser and seemingly stronger. Just look at this recent battle, no single imp died.

I support your point of view, the uspecs have enslaved and abused umanis for too long. Despite being stronger and more in population than the uspecs, the umanis have maintained submission and devotion. If they are to revolt, they are not to be blamed. After all a saying goes that push a goat to a wall it will be forced to bite.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:15am On May 09
Sooo many interesting questions and we're about to get the answers wink

Thanks so much for the support Fazemood and Dathypebruv I've been lucky enough to get a good number of people to read the first round of the editing but please let me know if you're interested in reading the second round and I'll put you on the email list when that's ready. Thanks again grin

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:24am On May 09
Part 13
---------

Darlin led me out of the paradise and back into the sludge ground of the Isle.

I followed.

I had no weapons. All I had were my fists, but I could kill with my fists. I’d done it before, and I looked forward to doing it again. If an uspec wasn’t holding my offspring with a dagger to its neck, I would have created lit okun to drown them all in. But the slightest movement of that dagger could kill my offspring, so creating lit okun wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. I just needed an opportunity, one chance.

As soon as we stepped out of the paradise with the canopy trees and the hatch-like ambiance I stopped dead in my tracks.

I could not believe it.

At first, I’d thought it was just the two of them, just Darlin and the other uspec from my honoraria. Only two betraying me. But there were not only two. I felt as if someone was lancing my heart with a spear. My dazed gaze met the faces of not two, but fourteen uspecs in my honoraria.

FOURTEEN.

No, I shook my head. This could not be happening. After all that we’d been through together. After the month we’d spent on the inter-port trail sparring and laughing. I had placed absolute trust in Darlin. So much so that I’d given it command of one of my teams. Now I found myself rethinking it all. Was Darlin working for the plenum? Had it fought against me in the battle where I’d lost so many uspecs in my honoraria? Had it killed those uspecs so that the guard around me would be reduced? I wanted to kill them all. I wanted to wrap my hands around their necks and squeeze the life out of their traitorous necks. They had been as family to me. They were my honoraria. No betrayal could have cut me deeper. If only they did not have my offspring so close to that dagger. But they did, and I could not risk any harm coming to Nebula.

“Move, Nebud.” I heard Darlin’s voice behind me. It pushed me forward with the hilt of its sword and I obeyed. They had my offspring. I followed where they led me.

“Did you find the ropes?” Darlin barked the question and an uspec I could not see replied in the affirmative.

It did not make any sense. Why would Darlin do this? If it worked for the plenum then it could have killed me a long time ago. We were together on the inter-port trail and I had trusted it enough to sleep in my dwelling. It could have ended my life in my sleep. Or it could have disclosed our location to the plenum. No, it didn’t make any sense for Darlin to work for the plenum. We’d just killed over two hundred of their troops. If Darlin was their creature it would have informed them of our plans. So, what was the meaning of this?

They led me to one of the hail trees we’d walked by on our way to the paradise. When we got there, they forced me to my knees and then tied me securely to the unusually warm stem of the white hail tree. The knot they tied held, no matter how much I tried to yank at my arms. They’d tied my legs together behind the tree and my arms to each other. There were also ropes binding my torso to my bound arms and the stem of the tree. Through it all I said nothing. I just kept my gaze on my offspring.

The uspec holding it had a forearm pressed tightly against Nebula’s belly, which forced the infant against the body behind it. The other hand held a dagger which was placed precariously close to my offspring’s neck. My eyes rose to its mouth. They’d wrapped a cloth over its mouth to gag it. I feared that it would start convulsing and that its convulsions would force its neck into the dagger being held so close to its neck. I felt more fear in that moment than I had ever felt before. I knew that I would do anything to keep my offspring safe. Anything.

“Why?” I asked Darlin. It was the first thing I’d said since it woke me into this nightmare. My own honoraria. Was there any place I could go where I would not find betrayal skulking behind me? Ahh, I had trusted these uspecs. I had let my guard down around them. More fool I.

“Why?” Darlin repeated my question. There was none of the ‘sirga’, none of the bowing it had done in the weeks passed. There was no subservience in its stance, or in any of the uspecs who stood with it. These uspecs who’d called me ‘imperial one’ and made me feel an honor beyond recounting by their service. Maybe it had all been too good to be true from the very start. But I had been so eager to believe it, so ready to accept their allegiance.

“You are nothing more than a de trop, raised in the slums of Hakute, yet you expected us, noble Lahooni uspecs, to serve you? To bow to you? To call you Kaiser?” Darlin laughed and the other uspecs joined in. Each guffaw scraped at my heart. I felt broken.

“Then why did you follow me?” I asked in a small voice.

“For the wealth.”

I frowned. “What wealth?”

Darlin bent close to my face and then snarled, “You know what wealth” at me. Drops of spittle fell on my face from the uspec’s mouth.

I shook my head. “I do not.”

“The fabled wealth of Lahooni. The wealth that belongs to our port. We know that it is here, in the Isle of Brio and we have every intention of taking it and returning it to the uspec who is equipped to rule Lahooni in your stead. The mighty Jukien.”

Jukien. The betrayals would not stop coming. I thought of the duke Jukien, the one I’d left in command of my troops. I had trusted the uspec to guard my port. And its offspring. I saw Juke’s face in my mind and questioned every moment that I had spent with the young one. Had it betrayed me too? It was not amongst the uspecs in the group that night, but that did not mean that it was innocent. Had it poisoned my food, put something in it to make me sleep so deeply that I didn’t hear Darlin coming?

“You will be a duke, and you will be my advisor. That much I can guarantee you.”

The words I’d said to the little uspec came back to my mind. How it must have been laughing at me in its head. It must have laughed to know what it had planned with Darlin. Laughed to know that its progenitor was plotting against me. I was offering it duke when it already had every intention of being an imperial one.

“Does the founder’s plight mean nothing to you?” I asked. These uspecs did not deny my claim to Lahooni. In fact, the fact that they’d followed me in the hopes of stealing my line’s wealth proved otherwise. They must believe that I am truly Calami’s offspring, if not they would not think that I had access to the wealth they sought. I wondered how they’d known that it was in the Isle of Brio. That was a secret that no one else who’d been searching for my line’s wealth had guessed at. I thought of my ancestors, of the bond they were said to have with the nobles of their port, and I imagined that it was from my own ancestors lips that Jukien and its line had heard of the location of our wealth.

“We spent years under the plenum’s yoke waiting and praying for the founder’s mercy, for the founder’s salvation.” Darlin spat on the sludge ground. “The founder abandoned us, it left us to fend for ourselves, and that is what we intend to do. Let the founder fend for itself while we do the same. With the wealth of our port, we will have the means to buy the plenum’s favor. And when we turn you over to them…well, that will just strengthen the bond between the Lahooni nobles and the plenum Kaisers.”

The Lahooni nobles. Not just Jukien then. There were others in league with it. Other nobles in my port who were part of this plot. I thought of the nobles I’d met. Of Fabian who had acclaimed me and then renounced me when it was expedient to do so.

“How many nobles?” I asked. I didn’t really expect an answer. Why would Darlin tell me?

“There were eighty of us who joined your honoraria for the explicit purpose of getting the wealth. We have lost several uspecs of our lines to this war with the plenum. We do not intend to lose anymore. The mighty Jukien will bring Lahooni back to its former glory.”

Eighty. Darlin had misunderstood my question, but I was shaken by the revelation it had made. Eighty out of the hundred who’d joined me had done so only to come to this end, to reach the Isle of Brio and then take my line’s wealth. Eighty. I thought of the uspecs I’d sparred with, lived with, shared meals with, and all the while they’d been plotting to take my port from me. I had grieved for the uspecs I’d lost against the plenum, now I wasn’t even sure which of those uspecs had been trustworthy. Not even Binna. I would trust Fabiana with my life, but its sibling…what if Fabian was one of these nobles who wanted my port? It was the first duke, it made sense that it would connive with Jukien, the second. Had Fabinna only come along at its progenitor’s urging. Would I ever be able to trust another Lahooni noble? I was pained.

“No more questions.” Darlin said. “It’s time for answers.”

I was kneeling so I had to look up into its face. It was not a nightmare. This thing that was happening to me was real, not a figment of my imagination. It was either very late night or very early morning. I could not tell from the shade of the red cloud lighting. The red light cast Darlin’s face in an evil shade. I wondered why I hadn’t seen it sooner. I should have known that the face the nobles presented to me was fake. Eighty of them had planned this, to steal my wealth and then take me back to the plenum. I looked away from Darlin.

“Where is the wealth?” It demanded.

I was silent.

I was not looking and so I did not see the fist until it slammed against the side of my face. I was dazed. Darlin was a brawler. It had always been that. Its bulk was one of the things I had most liked about it. Now it was an instrument it used against me.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:25am On May 09
“Where is the wealth?” It repeated the question and I remained silent.

What followed was an endless barrage of blows. My face, my scarred stomach, my bound arms, my neck. Darlin punched everywhere it could. I was in pain, but the pain did not compare to the pain of betrayal that I felt within me. My honoraria had made me feel noble. Before them I had been unable to reconcile Cala with Nebud, unable to see myself as the heir to Lahooni. But these uspecs, the ones who now turned out to be traitors, they had forced me to accept myself as an imperial. And I’d become what they’d made me out to be. I’d become an imperial. I’d made the transition from a common de trop, to Cala, Calami’s offspring, Calam’s heir. No blow these uspecs dealt me could hurt more than the sinking feeling of betrayal inside.

I bled. My nose had been broken, my lip cut, and there were gashes by my eyes. The blood seeped into my eyes and I saw red everywhere. Red from my wounds. Red from the clouds’ lighting. Red in everything. How could they have done this to me? I did not understand this. I just did not. I was battered and bruised as much on the inside as I was on the out.

The blows stopped.

“Bring the offspring.” I heard Darlin say.

I’d fallen to pieces. The pain of their betrayal had shattered me. It had taken the one thing I’d wanted most in this world, a thing I had not even known I’d craved, and it had dashed all hopes of it away. Without the hope of reclaiming my port, I did not know what else I had. Then I heard Darlin ask for my offspring and I forced the pieces back together. I was all Nebula had. I was its only protection from a hard and faithless world. I could not allow myself to be so broken that my offspring was left on its own. I could not give my offspring the life that I’d had. It could not be the last brio. It could not be the last uspec of my line. It just could not.

“Wait.” I groaned. It hurt to speak. There was so much bruising on my face that it hurt to push my lips open. But I managed. “I will tell you what you want to know.” Once I said the words, I knew what I had to do. If I had not been busy feeling sorry for myself, I would have come to the conclusion sooner, when I had less bruises and more strength. But for my offspring, I would fight. Even at death’s door I would fight. I would scourge the entire existence for my child.

Like fools they cut my ropes off and pulled me to my feet.

I had to wipe the blood away from my eyes. It was abrasive, dragging my weathered skin against fresh cuts, but it cleaned my gaze. I saw clearly through and saw my offspring, twitching in an uspec’s arm. The dagger was still too close for me to try anything foolish. But my offspring was in tears. It had tears running down its nose from its single center eye. It was afraid and it was in tears.

I smiled at it. “Have no fear.” I said to it in the umani tongue I knew none of the uspecs could hear. “They will pay with their lives for this. That much I swear.” My offspring must have sensed something in my tone because it sniffed and stopped crying. I nodded at it. It was still twitching, but it was just its limbs flailing, not its entire body.

I took a step forward and almost fell. I had to stop and then give myself time to stabilize. There was pain everywhere, from the blows they’d dealt me. But not as much pain as I’d felt in the hatch from Checha. This was nothing compared to the beating Checha had given me. I’d found the strength to fight then and I would do the same again.

I walked. Ten of them followed me, the rest remained with my offspring, by the hail tree. I’m sure they believed that ten uspecs would be enough to subdue me if I tried anything. They were wrong. I walked past the green room, where the wealth actually was, and led them to another hidden place only my identity could open. The green room would have killed them if they’d tried to enter, but only a few of them would have died. The others would have seen the first few to enter die, and then they would have withdrawn to attack my offspring. I could not let that happen. So, we walked past the green room and I breathed, ‘salve’ into an empty space between two hail trees. Red fog appeared and I walked through.

They followed me in.

“What is this?” Darlin asked.

This was no paradise. It was barren land with nothing but sludge. It looked like a slum.

“Your funeral.” Was the response I gave Darlin. Then I reached into myself and pulled out lit okun. The lit okun filled the floor. It killed nine. Darlin I left for myself.

Darlin’s eyes narrowed. It pulled its sword out of its sheath and said, “you’re dead.”

I laughed at that. My laugh was hysterical. Like Marcinus’ after a lust binge. Like my offspring’s had been when I took it out of that lust den. I didn’t even reach for a weapon from one of the dead uspecs. I’d harvested spectral energy from them. That energy pulsed in my vein. I could kill Darlin easily with magic. But I wanted its death to be slow.

It swung its sword at me and I dodged. It swung it again and I dodged it again. It lanced and jabbed and fought like the proper noble that it was. I dodged a swipe and then I dodged a swipe and then slammed my fist into its nose. It took the pain without stopping its attacks. The uspec kept swinging. Its blade cut me once on my upper arm, and once on my thigh. I was too crazed to care. I just kept getting into its space and punching it, often, and merrily. One blow I struck dazed the uspec so much that it momentarily lowered its sword. I rained down blows on its face. One punch after the other till I heard its jaw break. It was in so much pain that it dropped its sword. I smirked at it. It could not take pain. It was a brawler, but it did not know what it meant to be at death’s door and still fight because you had to survive. It did not know what it meant to fight when every muscle in your body was drawn and tired and every patch of skin ached. I knew. I had learnt that lesson time and again in the pits of Hakute, with every uspec I’d challenged, everyone I’d killed. I’d learnt it again in the hatch when I’d died from the wounds Checha had inflicted. They did not teach nobles this. They did not teach them how to survive.

Darlin fell.

I knelt over it and wrapped my hands around its neck.

“They do not know,” it struggled to speak as I choked the life out of it, “that you are truly Calami’s offspring.” Those were the last words Darlin said before I broke every bone in its neck and ended its life.

Darlin was dead, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted to go back out and kill every one of the uspecs standing by my offspring. Then I wanted to return to Lahooni and shove my hand down Jukien’s throat, far enough to pull out its heart. I wanted to turn that entire port red with the blood of the traitors who’d dared to do this to me! Everything I had that did not already belong to my offspring I had planned to give to Lahooni. The wealth of my line. My strength, my skills, everything!

I bent, picked up Darlin’s sword and its dagger, then I spat on the ground by its body. Those nobles, the ones who’d planned this, they would live to rue this day.

I felt fresh wounds on my body. There must have been more cuts inflicted, more than just the swipe to my arm and my thigh. I felt a lot more cuts. And I was wet, as if I’d been in an okun. But I knew it was blood.

It did not matter how much I bled, I was still ready to lop off the heads of the four uspecs that remained.

Much to my chagrin, the uspecs were already dead when I got back.

There was only one uspec left standing, and this uspec had my offspring in one arm and a bloodied sword in the other.

For some reason, the image of Cantonia holding a bloody sword seemed wrong.

“Ma-mat-ter!” My offspring screamed once it saw me. It pushed to be let down and Cantonia lowered it to the floor. Then the little one ran into my arms. I picked it up and held it tightly to my side. There were many cuts that hurt worse with my offspring in my arms, but I did not care. How could I, when it was safe?

“Imperial one,” Cantonia bowed.

I frowned at it. “Explain yourself.” I was not in the mood for more nobles. Especially ones I disliked as much as Cantonia. How was the uspec here in the first place? We’d left it dazed on the inter-port trail.

Cantonia cleared its throat. “I don’t know why I expected some sort of gratitude for saving your offspring’s life,” it whined.

“I’m not in the mood for this Cantonia. Speak quickly or you might find yourself a head shorter.” I warned.

The uspec glared at me. “How did you come from Calami?”

I rose my sword up and Cantonia rose its. I almost laughed at that. Did the uspec think that it could challenge me?

“Normally no, but as we are both holding swords that are made of pansophic metal…” it led the words hang.

I withdrew my sword with disgust. Suddenly, the dead corpses made sense. Of course, Cantonia had used pansophy to kill them. And it had shamelessly used its pansophy to siphon my thoughts when our blades touched.

“I save your offspring and you scorn me because you do not approve of how I did it? You are a funny one, Nebud.” Cantonia tsk-ed.

“You did not save my offspring. I was more than capable of killing these uspecs.”

Cantonia shrugged. “Perhaps. Or perhaps they would have seen you coming by yourself and either killed your offspring or used poor Nebula as a shackle to chain you again. In fact, when I think about it that way, I think I didn’t just save your offspring, but yourself as well.”

I sighed. How did uspecs as aggravating as Cantonia exist? And why did I have to run into it at a time like this? “You did this because…” I prompted.

It frowned. “To save your life of course.”

“Why? You are no friend of mine.” I stated.

“No, but I was as an offspring to Calami, so I could not just let the nobles get away with what they had planned, no matter how much I dislike your arrogance and condescension. For every uspec that attacks you and seeks to claim what is by right yours, there will be others who serve you in Calam’s or Calami’s name. If you are smart, you will learn to make yourself appear worthy of your ancestry. There is only so much that a person will give to you out of loyalty before they start to despise you for the same reason.”

Something about Cantonia’s words brought Musa to mind. It was as if our entire tempestuous relationship was running through my mind. From the day that it had told me the story of my line and its service to them with shameless tears running down its face, to the day that it had sworn to serve me even knowing that I was angry at it for lying to me about Permafrost, and then to the day only a little more than a week ago, where the imp had stared at me with hatred.

For every uspec that attacks you and seeks to claim what is by right yours, there will be others who serve you in Calam’s or Calami’s name. If you are smart, you will learn to make yourself appear worthy of your ancestry. There is only so much that a person will give to you out of loyalty before they start to despise you for the same reason.

There was a part of me that hated Cantonia because the words it had said resonated too deeply in me. I thought of those words and I saw Musa. I saw its love and I saw its hatred and I saw mine too, for the imp. And Sensu. I found my mind returning to an uspec I had not thought of in a long time. That uspec had snuck me out of Lahooni. It had consigned itself to a pit in Chiboga so that no one else could learn of my whereabouts. It had done all of this out of love for my progenitor and sire. I could not imagine the kind of uspecs that inspired this much loyalty.

“As an offspring to Calami?” I asked, once the lump in my throat passed.

Cantonia nodded. “Your progenitor was the first I saw when I opened my eyes in the hatch.”

I frowned. That did not make sense.

“The story is long and founded on blood feuds. Suffice it to say that my progenitor, the one that lived, meant to kill me as soon as I was formed, because of a feud with the offer, the one that died in the hatch. Your progenitor threw its dagger and killed it before it could kill me. I rose in the hatch and cast my eyes on your progenitor’s back. It did not look on me so that it would not form the bond. Calami was too noble to form a bond with an offspring that was not its. But I bonded with it anyway. When it came to visit me as often as it could. When it sparred with me. When it saw me settled and protected. Then it died before I was old enough to give it a proper sparring.”

“You are a kun?” I could not believe it. “A kun of one?”

It nodded. “Such things are possible.”

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:25am On May 09
I had never thought of it before, but it did make sense for such things to be possible. An irirakun was formed when two died in the hatch. If the two were of the same spectrum, then the irirakun would have to be of that same spectrum. A kun of one spectrum. An irira that did not need to hide because no one would suspect what it was. No wonder I disliked it so much.

“And how did you get here?”

“I woke from the daze, you so kindly ordered me put in, and instead of running in the opposite direction, I found myself chasing you and the nobles’ plot.”

“A plot you could have told me about but didn’t.” I spat the words out through clenched teeth.

Cantonia rolled its eyes. “Would you have believed me? I tried to tell you that the duffel bag of scrolls was not mine, but you did not listen. If I had accused your beloved Darlin, would you truly have listened to me over an uspec who was skilled in both sword and fists?”

I sighed. Cantonia was right. I would not have believed it. I was tired and the blood loss was starting to get to me. I turned my back on Cantonia and began walking back in the direction of my paradise and the few uspecs who remained. Fourteen. I’d only had nineteen left in my honoraria.

“The duffel bag?” I asked, when I heard Cantonia following in my wake.

“Darlin was afraid that Fabiana would uncover its plot and send word to you. It kept the scrolls from you to prevent that from happening.”

I eyed Cantonia suspiciously. How did it know so much? Then I laughed drily when the answer came to me. “You were part of the plot.”

“Of course. How else could I discover the details? Somehow Darlin learnt of the bond I’d shared with Calami and it confronted me. It suspected me and so it planted the duffel bag on me, and predictably, you cast me out.”

I ignored the last part. “And Fabiana?”

“It did not find out about the plot from the conspirators that you sent with it. If it had found out, it would have told you. You do not doubt that do you?”

I shook my head. If there was one Lahooni noble I trusted, it was Fabiana. The second name was harder to call out. I had to force it out through what felt like a stone in my throat. “Is Juke a part of it?”

Cantonia shook its head.

I released my breath.

“Remember when I came into your office and insulted you? That was done for Juke’s benefit. The young uspec came to me later that day and begged me not to push you any further. It wants you to be Kaiser. I think it worships you as I did Calami. Although I do not know how such a thing is even possible, especially when Juke is so smart.”

The ghost of a smile flashed on my face. Cantonia’s dry wit was not unamusing. “So, I’m just supposed to believe that it’s a coincidence that Jukien’s offspring joined my honoraria when Jukien has already named itself Kaiser?”

“You are stubborn Nebud, you will believe what you want to. But I know Jukien. It would never risk the life of its own offspring on an endeavor such as this. It sent disposable uspecs. It does not consider an uspec of its line disposable. Juke snuck out of its progenitor’s dwelling to follow you. Juke is a mystery to me Nebud, I do not understand what it finds worthy of devotion in you. You should not push it away. It will work in your favor to have an uspec of that line in your camp when you return to take your port. Just as it works to have Fabiana with you.”

I clenched my jaw. “Is Fabian part of it? Was Binna?”

“Binna, no. Binna followed you because of Fabiana. Do not doubt it. Fabian…I don’t know. It is very wily that one. If you succeed it will pucker up to you and serve you till its dying breath. But will it fight for you, risk its life to see you as Kaiser? In all honesty, I do not think so.”

I was suddenly exhausted and grateful that we’d reached the entrance to paradise. There was a nice ‘canopy room’ as Juke had coined it, waiting for me on the other side of the empty space between the hail trees. I thought of Juke and sadness mixed with joy. I doubted it. I could not help myself. Its progenitor was calling itself Kaiser of my port. It had sent noble uspecs to follow me just so I could lead them to the wealth of Lahooni in the Isle of Brio.

I turned to Cantonia. “How did you get here?” There were not that many people that knew the way to the Isle of Brio.

“Calami told me all about this place. It told me that there was a place I could hide if the world went to hell.” Cantonia smiled sadly. “It really wanted you. I was jealous of you before you were even born. As much as I saw Calami as my progenitor, it wasn’t, and it never let me call it pater. But you are its offspring and I bet you would give anything to enjoy the moments that I had with it.”

I clenched my jaw. I really did not like this uspec. It had done me a great service. It had saved my offspring. It had followed me here to save me from a plot after I’d had it dazed and kicked it out. I was suddenly very grateful that I had not killed it.

“You are skilled in espionage.” I said. “Who saw this first in you?”

“Calami. It sponsored my education in pansophy.” It chuckled. “Truth be told, it sponsored my life and left me with a very healthy revenue stream in its will.”

I nodded. “You will go back to Lahooni.” I said.

Cantonia frowned at me. “I heard the uspecs talking about paradise. Can I not see it?”

I shook my head. “You will go back to Lahooni. Use the wealth my progenitor left you and uncover all the nobles that are a part of Jukien’s plot. I will repay you three times over what you spend in this quest when I return.”

Cantonia studied me with narrowed eyes. “You do not trust me.”

It was not completely true. I did not mistrust it. If Cantonia proved useful and had a list of my enemies waiting for me on my return, then it would be beneficial. But I would not hold my breath, and I would not leave it in a place with my offspring while I was gone. I was not yet sure if I could trust Juke. But from this moment on, my trust would no longer be given freely. My offspring’s life had been endangered this night. It slept peacefully in my arm now, but it had been terrified. This would not happen again.

“You are a hard one. Harder than any of your ancestors. Perhaps you’ve had reason to be. Raised in a slum and boarded in the pits of Hakute…perhaps you’ve had reason to be.” Cantonia sheathed its sword and dropped to one knee in front of me. “I pledge my loyalty to you imperial one. I will return to Lahooni and fish out your enemies.” Then it rose, its green knee stained with sludge, bowed, and then turned around and flew away.

I dropped Darlin’s sword. I hadn’t dared to drop it while Cantonia was still armed and beside me.

Then I breathed ‘salve’ into the empty space and walked back into my paradise.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by lukfame(m): 8:17am On May 09
Nebud Wins again.
Thanks for the update Obehid. You are doing wonderfully well. More ink go your pen
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 8:27am On May 09
I knew Chuscecip somehow had a hand in that incident of Cantonia using his pansophy on Darlin.
A kun of one? I wonder why he never used the skill to take away Nebud's anger.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Dathypebruv(m): 9:08am On May 09
obehiD:
Sooo many interesting questions and we're about to get the answers wink

Thanks so much for the support Fazemood and Dathypebruv I've been lucky enough to get a good number of people to read the first round of the editing but please let me know if you're interested in reading the second round and I'll put you on the email list when that's ready. Thanks again grin
Superb piece... It gets intriguing...
I'll still be interested HMU with the second part of the review
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 12:52pm On May 09
obehiD:


“They do not know,” it struggled to speak as I choked the life out of it, “that you are truly Calami’s offspring.”

I don't understand...don't they know that only Uspecs of the Kaiser's line can have access to the Isle of Brio? What other proof do they need to "know" that he's truly Calami's offspring?
And how come nobody ever mentioned Cantonia's link to Calami?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by IntellectLord(m): 1:35pm On May 09
tunjilomo:
I knew Chuscecip somehow had a hand in that incident of Cantonia using his pansophy on Darlin.
A kun of one? I wonder why he never used the skill to take away Nebud's anger.

Hmmm,, cantonia has been anything but stupid,, and if u have been observing well, u would have seen the level at which Nebud is operating now,,
He commands both Spectra and life forces with ease now , thanks to the that chuspecip is mentoring him now,,
So seriously,,, after witnessing chechins case at lahooni contonia is observant to note the he doesn't matches The Imperial , Sirga Nebud of International Terminator,, ��


Kudos obehid!!!
A ghost Reader has finally decided to go viral!!!

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 1:45pm On May 09
IntellectLord:


The Imperial , Sirga Nebud of International Terminator


That quoted above got me. International terminator indeeed.
I agree with you on your point. It would have been stupid of Cantonia to use that power on him. I see that now in hindsight, thank you for the insight.
Bless you.

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 2:30pm On May 09
obehiD:
Sooo many interesting questions and we're about to get the answers wink

Thanks so much for the support Fazemood and Dathypebruv I've been lucky enough to get a good number of people to read the first round of the editing but please let me know if you're interested in reading the second round and I'll put you on the email list when that's ready. Thanks again grin
I definitely am interested
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 6:12pm On May 09
obehiD:


I bled. My nose had been broken, my lip cut, and there were gashes by my eyes. The blood seeped into my eyes and I saw red everywhere. Red from my wounds. Red from the clouds’ lighting. Red in everything. How could they have done this to me? I did not understand this. I just did not. I was battered and bruised as much on the inside as I was on the out.


Obehid I think you should review this part, earlier in the story I think I remember you describing uspecs blood as green not red or Crimson. Please check it to avoid any mistakes.

Cantonia, honestly I did not expect it's return in this manner, to the extent of being calami's loyal uspec. This is really unexpected and nice. I never disliked the uspec as I only thought of it as a careless spoilt offspring of a noble. It was a nice turn of event.


This is good. Thanks for the update.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by DaLaw22(m): 12:00am On May 10
obehiD:
Sooo many interesting questions and we're about to get the answers wink

Thanks so much for the support Fazemood and Dathypebruv I've been lucky enough to get a good number of people to read the first round of the editing but please let me know if you're interested in reading the second round and I'll put you on the email list when that's ready. Thanks again grin

I am interested too. First part was all on point for me.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by kelsmic: 7:40am On May 10
Wow, awesome update ObehiD, thanks!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by doctorexcel(m): 4:11pm On May 10
Wow. Words cannot describe the joy of reading each updates. You are highly gifted. Weldone obehiD
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by doctorexcel(m): 4:16pm On May 10
obehiD:
Sooo many interesting questions and we're about to get the answers wink

Thanks so much for the support Fazemood and Dathypebruv I've been lucky enough to get a good number of people to read the first round of the editing but please let me know if you're interested in reading the second round and I'll put you on the email list when that's ready. Thanks again grin
I was part of those who volunteered to read the first round of the editing but i did not receive any mail. I am still available at samueloyedele2018@gmail.com
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:12am On May 13
@lukfame thank you and my pen thanks you for the extra ink wink

@tunjilomo Cantonia is smart, Nebud already doesn't trust it so if it had tried to exhaust its anger, Nebud would have felt it because Nebud is also an anger kun. I just have to say that it's amazing that you know the link between Lahooni and anger off the top of your head.

@Dathypebruv It's just getting interesting now...I'm doing something wrong, lol, jk. I will check back with you when it's time for the next round. Thank you

@eROCK247 So, I went back to talk to Darlin's ghost and what it meant wasn't that they literally don't know, they know that Nebud is Calami's offspring, but they don't know, like Calami was a true talented fighter, and so what they were saying was that they didn't know that Nebus is just like Calami, it's offspring, made of the same stuff. About Cantonia's link to Calami and why they didn't know...maybe this update will answer this

@IntellectLord welcome from the ghost side! Glade to have you

@Fazemood Oooh, that honestly sounds like the kind of mistake I could definitely have made. Hmm, I'll have to go through that when I'm editing. I'll go back over it. Yeah, I never disliked Cantonia too grin

@DaLaw22 thanks, definitely making a note of that

@kelsmic thank you! I appreciate it

@doctorexcel thank you! About the first round I had an issue with trying to send emails to multiple people through Nairaland and so I just asked everyone to email me directly instead if they were still interested, and that's why you didn't hear back from me. I have your email now so I can reach out to you when it's time for that next round. Thank you, I really appreciate it!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:23am On May 13
Part 14
----------

“Master!” Musa exclaimed. It was standing in front of the entrance to my paradise. I could tell that it had been worried about me from the relief that filled its face once it saw me there.

“Sirga!” Fabiana rushed to me. What was left of my honoraria walked in the uspec’s wake. It was a ragtag group. Three of the uspecs left where young ones without much skill in fighting. The only older one that remained was a quiet one-band noble named Matiu. One of the young uspecs was its younger Matina. And the last young uspec was a one-band noble Gamble who was descended of a banneret who’d claimed to be sworn to my line. That banneret was too old and feeble to accompany me and so it had sent its offspring, Gamble, in its place. Now I looked at all five of these uspecs and knew that there was only one I could implicitly trust.

“Sirga,” Juke ran forward. It gasped. It’s eyes opened wide and ran over me, taking in my injured state. Then, it reached up to take my offspring from me, but I did not let it. I could not look at Juke’s face without remembering Jukien’s plot and the uspecs who’d taken me out of my paradise that night.

The faint streams of orange light told me that night had long passed. We were in the early hours of the morning.

“What is wrong, sirga? What happened?” Juke questioned me. It frowned.

There were several imps milling about. They had been worried about me. These people. They had woken to find me gone and they’d been worried about me. My gaze locked on Halima, Musa’s imp, and I frowned. The imp withdrew behind a canopy tree. Other imps were there. Now the imps outnumbered the uspecs four to one. They could not die, so none of them had been lost in the battle that killed so many of my honoraria. But even that thought made my insides churn. Perhaps I should see that battle as a blessing now. It had left me with only fourteen traitors to contend with, as opposed to the original eighty Darlin claimed had followed me. The worst of it was that my faith in my honoraria was completely broken. That broken faith seemed to extend to Lahooni as a whole. I thought of how it had felt to be there, to step into the port and know that it was mine, written into me as surely as my identity. And then to have so many question it and then plot to steal it from me.

“Sirga?” Juke prodded.

I glared at the young uspec, held my offspring tighter to my body and then made the walk back to my canopy tree. They all followed silently in my wake while I contemplated the very essence of trust.

Come to me.

I heard Chuspecip’s weak prodding in my head. It was time for me to leave, time to go in search of it. But how could I leave knowing that my offspring was surrounded by people I could not fully trust? Last night I had been more than happy to leave Nebula here with Darlin, not knowing the full extent of Darlin’s treachery. I could not do the same again. I could not abandon my offspring now without first ensuring its safety.

You are mine.

Chuspecip needed me. I pushed the fronds of the canopy tree aside and walked in. Then I placed my sleeping offspring on the foam ground. I was badly bruised, but I felt exhausted and I knew I needed a jolt to my system to give me the strength I needed. So I took a dunk in the okun pond that surrounded the stem of the canopy tree. It was a quick one. And I found that I needed Fabiana’s support to help pull me out.

Juke stood on the foam ground. Musa had entered too. And Chike. The rest stood outside, watching me through slightly lifted fronds.

“Leave me!” I bellowed.

The ones peeping from the outside startled and left.

“Your wounds need to be seen to.” Fabiana stated.

“You stay. Leave Juke.”

The young uspec looked startled. It took a step forward. “Why, sirga? I can look after Ula while the imperial Fabiana sees to your wounds. Shall I take it to my room for a bit?”

I shook my head. “I said leave.” I snapped.

The uspec appeared hurt. “But…”

“Just go Juke,” Fabiana stated softly.

Juke’s mouth hung open. I saw the pain in its eyes and read it in its emotions, but I did not reach out to it. How could I, after the events of the last night? For all I knew, it wanted to get my offspring alone now that it could see that Darlin’s part of the plot had failed. Perhaps there was another aspect to the plot against me that Juke was integral in. I wanted to trust it. I wanted to trust it more than I could remember ever wanting to trust another person. My little Juke. It had somehow managed to mean more to me than almost everyone else in my honoraria. If I was honest with myself, I would rank it as number two in my affections, second only to Fabiana. But I could not allow myself to trust so easily again. Not when my innocent offspring’s life hung in the balance.

I watched Juke go and waited a long time after before I lay down on the foam ground and allowed Musa and Fabiana to use their pansophy to put growth into the parts of my skin that were cut. I had no infections and so an excess of growth was all that would be necessary to heal me. While they worked, I told them of what had happened. I told them everything. From Darlin’s kidnapping, to the torture, and then the revelation that it was my own nobles, headed by the ‘mighty’ Jukien, who had orchestrated the entire thing. I ended by telling them about Cantonia, the discourse we’d had and the mission I’d given it.

“It had been so long since I’d seen the uspec that I did not remember it. When master Calami died, Toni was still just an infant, barely five.” Chike spoke after I was done.

I turned to face the imp. “Then you know Cantonia.”

“Master Calami called it Toni. I was there the day it was born and I accompanied master Calami to visit its dwelling a number of times.”

I scoffed. “Then there was indeed a Cantonia, but I am not convinced that this uspec who claims to be Cantonia is the same one that my progenitor saved. And even if it is, I am not convinced that it now wants to serve me, after its hostility towards me on the inter-port trail.”

“It seemed to have an excuse for that, sirga.” Fabiana sounded drawn. I’d forgotten that this was just the day after Binna’s death. Fabiana still grieved and I was filling its mind with suspicions and plots. I did not tell it that I suspected its progenitor was one of the nobles plotting against me.

Cantonia had many excuses and many tales and many suspicious timings. But it had saved Nebula. It’d had a chance to attack me with its pansophy when I had no non-pansophic blade to fight it with. If it wanted me dead, I was honest enough to admit that I would be. The fact that I was still alive gave some credence to Cantonia’s tales. It’d had me at its mercy, and it had made no aggression towards me. But until it proved itself further, I would not trust it completely.

“Forgive me majestic,” I said to Fabiana, “I did not mean to drag you out of your bed.”

Fabiana laughed drily. “I would have been inconsolable if I had lost two siblings in the span of a single day.”

Two siblings? At first, Fabiana’s words made no sense to me. It took me a while to realize that the uspec was referring to me as its sibling. I felt humbled and unworthy. Fabiana’s trust and allegiance to me from the very start…it always humbled me to think on it. It was so dedicated to me that it had lost its own sibling in my quest and even while it mourned, it put its grief aside to come to my aid.

“I am so sorry Fabiana. Binna…” I couldn’t quite find the words to say. ‘Sorry’ it was an imp twist on the uspec ‘apologies’, but it seemed more profound somehow, more personal. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Binna was…”

Fabiana cut me off. “There is no need Nebud. I know.” It placed a hand on my thigh and squeezed. I bet it had not expected this when it had met me in Damejo and immediately decided to become my companion. Even in the midst of the betrayals, I knew that I was beyond lucky in the few true friends I’d made. Why did my gaze drift to Musa in that moment?

“So, what will you do about this plot?” Fabiana asked.

I cleared my throat and broke my gaze with Musa. Its empty eye sockets had met and held my eyes. There was no hatred in its face, but there was also no love. No sorrow, but also no joy. I did not know what exactly it was I saw etched there, but whatever it was seemed to resemble resignation. We were bound to each other even when we did not want to be. And finally, as Chuspecip prodded and urged me to come for it, I understood why. Well, soon enough it would be at an end.

“I will leave it to Cantonia, until I am ready to return.” I stated simply.

Fabiana frowned. “I am not sure that I trust Cantonia in a matter like this. Cantonia is very…” Fabiana paused, “wily.” It finished and I chuckled at that. That was the same word that Cantonia had used to describe Fabiana’s progenitor. “Cantonia slithers and…it’s just not very trustworthy.”

I shrugged. “I do not have too much invested in Cantonia’s success. If it fails me, I will find some other way to uncover the traitors after I take my port.”

“How about my progenitor? Or my younger, Fabin. Both are in a position to do the job you assigned to Cantonia and both are a good deal more trustworthy.”

I could have said no, but I did not have the heart to tell Fabiana that I suspected its progenitor of treason. So, I let it. “If you want to reach out to them, do. But do not tell them anything about Cantonia. Just say that Darlin was caught and I revealed its plot.”

Fabiana seemed troubled but it did not deny my request. It nodded. “You should eat something.”

I shook my head. “I just want to sleep.”

“Then I will leave you.” Fabiana said the words but it hovered around me.

I sighed. “What is it, majestic?”

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:23am On May 13
“You should not let a few poison your feelings on the rest, sirga. There are still uspecs that you can trust. Like my line. I will swear for every uspec of my line. And Juke. Jukien maybe guilty, but Juke is not. Please do not push that young uspec away.”

I swallowed. There was not much I could say to that. I was exhausted and so I placated it again. “I will think on it.”

Fabiana nodded. Then it left. The imps did not follow. I could see that they both intended to keep guard over me while I slept. I was too tired to overthink it. I lay next to my offspring and drifted into sleep.

Come Nebud. You are mine.

I could not tell if it was Chuspecip’s voice or Nebula’s fingers that woke me.

“Ma-mat-ter.” It said.

I smiled at it. “Salutations precious one.” I greeted it.

Its head spasmed for a bit as it tried to respond. “Sa-sa-sa. Sa-sa-sa.” Then it grew silent and its limbs thrashed against my body. I did not mind it at all.

“Salutations is too big of a word, master.” Chike teased. It was polishing my blades. Musa set a platter of food on the hard-fog top of my coffer.

I cleared my throat. “You don’t need to watch over me.”

Chike laughed but Musa didn’t so much as smile. Its gaze just moved to me and then moved away. It bowed and left. Chike did the same. I sighed. So much grieved me. I thought of the betrayal which still stung and I was grieved. I thought of Binna’s corpse and I was pained. I thought of the bodies, those three hundred bodies. All dead. I knew enough now to know that they had mostly been my enemies, even the nobles in my honoraria who’d fallen. But the bodies burdened me. Not as much as before but still. So many dead uspecs. Then I thought of Musa and my chest tightened. I was not yet courageous enough to face the truth that Musa had already left me. It was still with me, but it had already left me.

I shook the thoughts off and rose to my feet, carrying my child with me. It was easy to be content when I had Nebula like this. Healthy, happy, and making gurgling sounds. We ate together. I drank some of the nama’s milk it liked and made a face. It liked that. It laughed and clapped and spasmed. It always spasmed.

It was in a playful mood. It crawled all over the coffer and then the ground around me. Then it managed to collapse, face first, into the shallow okun around the edge of the tree. I had to go and retrieve it before it drowned on the liquid. It pulled out of my arms and ran around the empty space. I watched it with a smile on my face. While it ran its spasming wasn’t so obvious. Until the one time that the spasm was in its leg and it fell down. It just got back up. It picked up one if its toys and threw it at me. Right at me. Its arm amazed me. I caught the toy and threw it back, laughing.

We played and ate and just enjoyed each other’s company. My offspring and I. There was so much that I looked forward to with Nebula. I could not wait to teach it to spar. I did not know what that would look like with its spasms, but I was going to try. I was going to fight hard to give my offspring all the tools it would need to strive in the world long after I was gone.

“Ju-ju-ke!”

My gaze snapped to the left. Juke had lifted a frond and was standing outside the tree. Its nervous gaze snapped to my face. “Sirga?” It asked.

I shook my head. “Go away Juke.”

It frowned. “What have I done to displease you?”

“Go away!” I snapped.

“Tell me. I must know. Whatever it is, I must know.”

I glared at it. “Why don’t you go and ask your progenitor?” I heard myself yelling at it. “Why are you here Juke? You know the plan has failed. You have to know that I killed Darlin, so what are you still doing here?”

Juke stared at me as if bemused. “I do not understand, sirga.”

“Get out!” I roared at it.

It retreated.

“Ju-ju-ke?” Nebula called out as Juke went away.

“Come here, precious one.” I softened my voice and Nebula ran into my arms.

Come Nebud. Come! What are you waiting for?

Chuspecip’s prodding ate at me. But I couldn’t leave. Not yet. I held Nebula in my arms for a long time. My little offspring was the light in my world. It was innocence, strength and joy all mixed into one small package. I looked at it and I wanted to be able to achieve the impossible for it. I held it and I wanted to shield it, to never release it. But I knew that I had to. If my life had taught me anything it was that an uspec had to be strong enough to fight for itself. There were hard lessons in little Nebula’s future, but I couldn’t let the lessons begin right at this moment, with it so young and so vulnerable.

I was ashamed to admit that I would pick my offspring over Chuspecip. Over the founder. Over a god I had somehow come to believe in. Chuspecip must have felt this in me because it stopped prodding. It became silent and it pulled away from me. Just a little. Not everything, but enough.

I sighed and held my offspring close to my chest.

It liked being here. Sitting on my lap and leaning in on me. It spasmed every so often but it did not try to pull away. It just kept its ailerons pressed against my body and stared at its toys. It stammered ‘mater’ a few times and I beamed at it.

Then I heard rustling and Nebula jumped on my lap. I thought it was convulsing. Then I saw it was only excited. “Ju-ju-ke!” It threw its wooden bear toy at Juke and the young uspec caught it.

Its head was bent low as it shuffled into the tree. Then it stopped in front of me and dropped to its knees.

“The imperial Fabiana told me what happened.” It said in a low voice. “I understand why you don’t trust me. I will leave. Your mission is too grave to let my presence here hinder it. I will leave. I just wanted to express my gratitude for…” It took a deep breath and its voice shook, “for taking a chance on me. For training me. You will always have a loyal subject in me, sirga. Always.” It stood up and my gaze followed it. “Farewell Ula.” It placed a hand on Nebula’s knee and squeezed. Then it turned around and walked away.

I watched it go. I let it go. A piece of my heart broke.

“Ju-ju-ke! Ju-ju-ke!” My offspring called after it.

I clenched my jaw. Where was it going to go? Juke couldn’t return to Lahooni on its own. The young thing could barely swing a sword. The plenum would arrest it. In the best-case scenario, they held it and tortured it for information about my whereabouts or about Lahooni secrets. If they weren’t feeling that charitable, they would just kill it.

I took a deep breath and then went after the uspec. I walked through sludge and quicksand underneath falling hail and drifting fogs, all the while ignoring the glances that were cast my way. It was evening again. I had slept and played with my offspring throughout the day. Now the orange streams of the daylight dots were gone. I found Juke in its room putting its things together.

“Stop.” I ordered.

It turned to face me. “You spoke with the imperial Fabiana.” It stated.

I frowned at that. “Why would I have spoken with Fabiana? I am stopping you because you will die before you reach Lahooni. You cannot travel into a warzone on your own.”

It looked like the uspec was about to smile, then it saw the seriousness on my face and the smile went away.

“You did not know about your progenitor?” I asked.

It shook its head. “I did not. I am its youngest offspring; it does not take me often into its confidence. But I am its favorite. So, I do understand why you cannot trust me.”

I had not known this, that Juke was Jukien’s favorite. It was obvious the uspec expected me to know. “Do you support your progenitor’s plot?”

Juke’s gaze snapped to my eyes. “I do not! Of course, I do not. You are the rightful heir to Lahooni.”

“Ju-ju-ke!” My offspring had been turned around. Now it had shifted to face Juke and it was excited. I hushed it.

Then I took my focus back to Juke. “Your progenitor seeks to usurp my port. You understand that I cannot let it live. It is either I die and it succeeds or it dies and I rule.”

Juke’s bottom lip quivered. It looked away. “You could succeed and spare its life.” It said in a small voice. “It loves me…I love it, it is my pater. It is misguided and arrogant, but it will serve you when you are Kaiser. I will make sure of it. Please.”

“I do not want to lie to you Juke, or make any promises I have no intention of keeping.”

The young uspec persevered. “Will you think on it? Don’t make up your mind yet. What if I can get my progenitor to surrender to you? I can do that. I will write it a letter and tell it of all your deeds and your kindness to me. It will apologize. It will beg for your forgiveness. I swear it.”

Juke was naïve. It did not understand what a person who craved power would do to gain and keep it. Its progenitor may love it, but I had a feeling it loved power almost as much. It would not surrender to me. After I returned with Chuspecip, after we defeated the plenum, it would contrive to kill me. I had to kill it before it could succeed. I had my offspring to think about. The look of hope and pleading on Juke’s face was so intense that I did what I hadn’t wanted to. I lied to it. “I will think on it.” I said. “If your progenitor surrenders, I will relent.”

Juke smiled as if I had solved all of its problems. I did not know what it meant to be so young and so sure of ones relationship with ones progenitor. I thought of Nebula, grown up and asking me for favors. I did not think that there was much I would be able to deny my offspring. Perhaps Juke was right. Maybe the progenitor’s bond would be enough to force Jukien’s submission.

“Gratitude sirga. You are the kindest, most noble, most laudable of Kaisers. And I will make sure the entire existence knows it. Gratitude.” It bowed deeply, a waist bow. It had spoken with so much exuberance that it had called me a Kaiser, a term that every one of my nobles, with the exemption of Fabiana, had been clear not to use.

“Will you let Nebula sleep with you while I’m gone?” I asked. “It will only be a few days, a week at most.” Now that Chuspecip could sense my coming it gave me more details. It would not be the search I had thought. The portal, the last remaining portal, was one linked to the founder. It would take me exactly where the founder was. I would not be surprised if I was back by the start of the next day. Even if it was just one night, I wanted Nebula to be with an uspec it loved and one who loved it. And Juke already knew of my offspring’s convulsions. It would watch for them.

“Of course, sirga. It would be my honor!”

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:24am On May 13
There was a tiny voice in my head still telling me not to trust it. The voice told me I was a fool to leave Nebula with Juke and other nobles I could not fully trust. It was harder to trust, to shut that voice down, but I did. I placed Nebula on the foam ground under Juke’s tree and told the uspec to play. It ran over to Juke and the look of happiness on both of their faces was so young and innocent I wondered how I could ever have doubted Juke.

I nodded, turned and left. Fabiana’s tree was my next stop. Fabiana’s tree was like mine, with the okuns. It was kneeling over a coffer when I walked in.

“Sirga!” It jumped.

“Were you praying?” I asked. Once I would have scoffed, but I understood now when it nodded. “I did not mean to interrupt.”

“Chuspecip lives in you sirga, and so I see talking to you as almost equivalent to praying to it.”

I laughed. Then I sat on the foam ground beside it and stretched out my legs. “I will leave soon.” I stated.

Fabiana nodded.

“I do not know if I can trust the nobles that remain. Not Juke, I clarified. The others.”

“They’ve all subjected themselves to an inquest. Juke begged me to use pansophy to siphon through its thoughts and memories. It wanted to prove its innocence to me. When the other uspecs heard of the treachery, they did the same. Neither Musa nor I found any treachery in their thoughts. They had no knowledge of the plot and no desire to join it after they’d learnt of it.”

I was relieved. I had made the choice to trust Juke before hearing Fabiana’s words, but this last betrayal stung so much that I did not even trust myself to make the right decisions when it came to trusting others. I was happy that their innocence had been proven without a shred of doubt. The other uspecs did not have pansophy, they could not have hidden their thoughts or memories from Fabiana if they’d wanted to. In fact, none of the fourteen that had kidnapped me had pansophy so those ones could not have taken the memories away from the others. But others could have. Jukien could have placed a trigger in Juke’s brain to only reveal a specific memory at a particular time, as Gerangi had done to me.

“Am I making a mistake Fabiana, leaving my offspring here alone with these uspecs?”

Fabiana looked affronted. “I am here Nebud. Or do I no longer have your trust?”

I frowned at it. That was not what I meant. “Of course, you do.”

“Then have no fear. I will watch over your offspring as if it were my own. No harm will come to it. And though you do not like the imps, most of them like you, all of them worship the memory of your line. They will watch over Nebula too. Leave with a clear mind, my friend.”

Why did people keep saying that I did not like the imps? I did not like Halima, but that imp had insulted my offspring and then tried to convince Musa to join Permafrost. Was I supposed to like it? “I do not trust Halima.” I said.

Fabiana chuckled. “I know. It told me.”

I glared at the uspec. Its affection for imps was disgusting and I told it that. It just laughed and I found myself laughing to. Who was I to judge? I had risked my life for Musa and would no doubt do it again. And even now, that wretched imp Chike, was crawling into my affections. Caring for imps was an affliction we both shared. But if they took care of my offspring, then I would reward them. I would give them all their freedoms. That way I wouldn’t need to have them staring after me all the time hoping to see Calami or Calam in me. It was exhausting having ancestors with such a reputation. I smiled to myself. I was proud of them. In some respects, I wished to take after them.

“What is Matiu’s story? Why is it here?” Matiu and Fabiana were the only uspecs in my honoraria who remained and had the skill to fight. Matiu was not as bulky as Darlin, but it could hold its own in a sparring match. It had fought and survived the battle with the plenum so that raised it in my estimation. But it was quiet. It had never dined with us in the entertaining room in my dwelling and it had never sought to spar with me.

“It comes from good stock. Sensu’s line. I believe Sensu is familiar to you, a companion of Calami’s?”

I nodded. Sensu was the uspec who Calam had entrusted with my safety. Sensu, its imp, and Chike. Now Sensu was probably dead, or still buried deep in Chiboga. “That reminds me.” I said. “Please, send a missive to Arexon. Sensu is hiding underground in what used to be the serf’s camp in Chiboga. Please have Arexon bring it out and care for it. It has grown old and infirmed.” Fabiana nodded. “Is Matiu Sensu’s offspring?” That didn’t make sense though. Matina was Matiu’s younger, and it was too young to be Sensu’s.

“No, they are offspring of Sensu’s cognate. Their presence here, I believe, is a duty to their line. They are trying to reinforce the bond that their line once held with yours.”

I nodded. “You trust them?” I asked.

Fabiana nodded. “I scanned their minds and found no treachery. Plus, they are from good old loyal stock. Loyal to your line as well as to the founder. Staunch Uspecipytes, though they were forced to declare otherwise during Salin’s inquisition. I see no reason not to.”

“Then I will leave and leave everything, and everyone, in your care.”

Fabiana bowed.

I stood up. After that, making the preparations to leave was easy. I was as confident of the uspecs I left behind as I was ever going to be. I’d expected to have to fight to tear Musa from its imp Halima, but it had already been expecting to accompany me. They had a relationship, Musa and Chuspecip. I did not know what it was, but I knew that it existed.

We packed enough grains, dried meats, and caked for a month, much more food than we needed. We also had leather bags of okun. My travails in Nefastu had taught me to travel with liquid.

It was done quickly and Musa and I were standing in front of the exit to our paradise not too late into the night, with Mara and another smoke bear beside us. The road to the portal could not be flown. Chuspecip did not share that until we were about to leave. It would take a whole day to ride there.

We bid farewell. I asked for Nebula to be kept away. I’d said my farewell to my offspring in private, without it knowing that it was farewell, for a little while at least. I did not want it asking to follow me. Chike was with Nebula. Everyone else stood in front of us. They bid us farewell.

“We await the founder’s return.” Fabiana stated solemnly.

“The founder’s grace be with you, sirga.” I think it was the first time I had ever heard Matiu speak.

I nodded to the uspec.

I was about to leave when I felt little hands wrap around my belly. I smiled. “Please be safe,” Juke begged.

I patted the uspec’s head. There was nothing to fear, I would be back.

Juke released me and Musa and I left.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 7:46am On May 13
Ghostly reading.... Meanwhile I think u made a lil mistake its Marc instead of "Mara and another smoke bear"...
Now we await Chuspecip's return....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:51am On May 13
Sensu , yes that uspec it's been a while, will it still be alive before Arexon gets to it? I hope so, Nebula needs more loyal heads under it. I know jukien will pay for its treachery. It deserves punishment but not death. Nebud I believe will how mercy.
Thank you for the update obehid
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Rynne: 12:14pm On May 13
....Hmmm why do I have this uncanny feeling that Fabiana will be the traitor this time around...what was he bent over the coffer doing, I have my misgivings about this uspec.....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by NoChill: 4:10pm On May 13
obehiD:
There was a tiny voice in my head still telling me not to trust it. The voice told me I was a fool to leave Nebula with Juke and other nobles I could not fully trust. It was harder to trust, to shut that voice down, but I did. I placed Nebula on the foam ground under Juke’s tree and told the uspec to play. It ran over to Juke and the look of happiness on both of their faces was so young and innocent I wondered how I could ever have doubted Juke.

I nodded, turned and left. Fabiana’s tree was my next stop. Fabiana’s tree was like mine, with the okuns. It was kneeling over a coffer when I walked in.

“Sirga!” It jumped.

“Were you praying?” I asked. Once I would have scoffed, but I understood now when it nodded. “I did not mean to interrupt.”

“Chuspecip lives in you sirga, and so I see talking to you as almost equivalent to praying to it.”

I laughed. Then I sat on the foam ground beside it and stretched out my legs. “I will leave soon.” I stated.

Fabiana nodded.

“I do not know if I can trust the nobles that remain. Not Juke, I clarified. The others.”

“They’ve all subjected themselves to an inquest. Juke begged me to use pansophy to siphon through its thoughts and memories. It wanted to prove its innocence to me. When the other uspecs heard of the treachery, they did the same. Neither Musa nor I found any treachery in their thoughts. They had no knowledge of the plot and no desire to join it after they’d learnt of it.”

I was relieved. I had made the choice to trust Juke before hearing Fabiana’s words, but this last betrayal stung so much that I did not even trust myself to make the right decisions when it came to trusting others. I was happy that their innocence had been proven without a shred of doubt. The other uspecs did not have pansophy, they could not have hidden their thoughts or memories from Fabiana if they’d wanted to. In fact, none of the fourteen that had kidnapped me had pansophy so those ones could not have taken the memories away from the others. But others could have. Jukien could have placed a trigger in Juke’s brain to only reveal a specific memory at a particular time, as Gerangi had done to me.

“Am I making a mistake Fabiana, leaving my offspring here alone with these uspecs?”

Fabiana looked affronted. “I am here Nebud. Or do I no longer have your trust?”

I frowned at it. That was not what I meant. “Of course, you do.”

“Then have no fear. I will watch over your offspring as if it were my own. No harm will come to it. And though you do not like the imps, most of them like you, all of them worship the memory of your line. They will watch over Nebula too. Leave with a clear mind, my friend.”

Why did people keep saying that I did not like the imps? I did not like Halima, but that imp had insulted my offspring and then tried to convince Musa to join Permafrost. Was I supposed to like it? “I do not trust Halima.” I said.

Fabiana chuckled. “I know. It told me.”

I glared at the uspec. Its affection for imps was disgusting and I told it that. It just laughed and I found myself laughing to. Who was I to judge? I had risked my life for Musa and would no doubt do it again. And even now, that wretched imp Chike, was crawling into my affections. Caring for imps was an affliction we both shared. But if they took care of my offspring, then I would reward them. I would give them all their freedoms. That way I wouldn’t need to have them staring after me all the time hoping to see Calami or Calam in me. It was exhausting having ancestors with such a reputation. I smiled to myself. I was proud of them. In some respects, I wished to take after them.

“What is Matiu’s story? Why is it here?” Matiu and Fabiana were the only uspecs in my honoraria who remained and had the skill to fight. Matiu was not as bulky as Darlin, but it could hold its own in a sparring match. It had fought and survived the battle with the plenum so that raised it in my estimation. But it was quiet. It had never dined with us in the entertaining room in my dwelling and it had never sought to spar with me.

“It comes from good stock. Sensu’s line. I believe Sensu is familiar to you, a companion of Calami’s?”

I nodded. Sensu was the uspec who Calam had entrusted with my safety. Sensu, its imp, and Chike. Now Sensu was probably dead, or still buried deep in Chiboga. “That reminds me.” I said. “Please, send a missive to Arexon. Sensu is hiding underground in what used to be the serf’s camp in Chiboga. Please have Arexon bring it out and care for it. It has grown old and infirmed.” Fabiana nodded. “Is Matiu Sensu’s offspring?” That didn’t make sense though. Matina was Matiu’s younger, and it was too young to be Sensu’s.

“No, they are offspring of Sensu’s cognate. Their presence here, I believe, is a duty to their line. They are trying to reinforce the bond that their line once held with yours.”

I nodded. “You trust them?” I asked.

Fabiana nodded. “I scanned their minds and found no treachery. Plus, they are from good old loyal stock. Loyal to your line as well as to the founder. Staunch Uspecipytes, though they were forced to declare otherwise during Salin’s inquisition. I see no reason not to.”

“Then I will leave and leave everything, and everyone, in your care.”

Fabiana bowed.

I stood up. After that, making the preparations to leave was easy. I was as confident of the uspecs I left behind as I was ever going to be. I’d expected to have to fight to tear Musa from its imp Halima, but it had already been expecting to accompany me. They had a relationship, Musa and Chuspecip. I did not know what it was, but I knew that it existed.

We packed enough grains, dried meats, and caked for a month, much more food than we needed. We also had leather bags of okun. My travails in Nefastu had taught me to travel with liquid.

It was done quickly and Musa and I were standing in front of the exit to our paradise not too late into the night, with Mara and another smoke bear beside us. The road to the portal could not be flown. Chuspecip did not share that until we were about to leave. It would take a whole day to ride there.

We bid farewell. I asked for Nebula to be kept away. I’d said my farewell to my offspring in private, without it knowing that it was farewell, for a little while at least. I did not want it asking to follow me. Chike was with Nebula. Everyone else stood in front of us. They bid us farewell.

“We await the founder’s return.” Fabiana stated solemnly.

“The founder’s grace be with you, sirga.” I think it was the first time I had ever heard Matiu speak.

I nodded to the uspec.

I was about to leave when I felt little hands wrap around my belly. I smiled. “Please be safe,” Juke begged.

I patted the uspec’s head. There was nothing to fear, I would be back.

Juke released me and Musa and I left.

Please where can I find The marked: white sight
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 7:12pm On May 13
Rynne:
....Hmmm why do I have this uncanny feeling that Fabiana will be the traitor this time around...what was he bent over the coffer doing, I have my misgivings about this uspec.....
Enough of the betrayals, only a foolish person will betray Nebud at this time. Also we don't want a monster nebud who kills for all reasons due to constant betrayals. Fabiana is trustworthy also the uspec and imps won't let the mistake happen twice.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Rynne: 8:10pm On May 13
Fazemood:

Enough of the betrayals, only a foolish person will betray Nebud at this time. Also we don't want a monster nebud who kills for all reasons due to constant betrayals. Fabiana is trustworthy also the uspec and imps won't let the mistake happen twice.

I don't see much foolishness in that, Nebuds progenitor was betrayed by the nobles of lahooni,so notin new if Nebud is betrayed again,intact I sense betrayal not too far off. If I cud remember Nebud's intro was Nebud the Undead..... So wat made him an undead? I know a lot will happen that would shock Nebud to his bone marrow...
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 11:11pm On May 13
Rynne:


I don't see much foolishness in that, Nebuds progenitor was betrayed by the nobles of lahooni,so notin new if Nebud is betrayed again,intact I sense betrayal not too far off. If I cud remember Nebud's intro was Nebud the Undead..... So wat made him an undead? I know a lot will happen that would shock Nebud to his bone marrow...
I believe the term 'UNDEAD' here is a title, most tribe refer to their sovereign as 'the undead' due to so much power he/she controls. Undead Nebud is like saying Chief monarch or an Emperor. After conquering all and destroying all his opposition in a grand style, Nebud maybe attained the title of the Undead meaning it surpassed it's progenitors.

Infact in the ancient times, in Asia, major barbarian tribes call their leader the Undead because they believe that he has the power to take but can't be taken from. That is total power and authority.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by kelsmic: 6:41am On May 14
Its getting much more captivating. Cant wait! Nice one ObehiD!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by HotB: 6:49am On May 14
I thought the Undead means that Nebud has birthed children. It has Nebula, hence it is undead already.

I can understand ur sentiment Fabia... Sorry Fazemood... grin

I also smelt the betrayal till I heard that Musa was involved in the pansophy scan.

NB: Permafrost has not betrayed Nebud, yet.

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