Blood of the Lost: A Tale of Two Cousins
I watched my brother die. My eyes were transfixed in shock on the slowly
expanding pool of blood caused by his inexpertly slit wrists. I lifted my head
and locked my gaze on his, watching as the life extinguished in his silver eyes
along with all hope that I might have a semblance of a normal life. I have never
hated anyone so much in my life as I did him at that moment. And I don't believe
I ever will.
I cried for help, calling the attention of the guards posted outside the door.
They frantically rushed to try to salvage the situation, noticeably panicked at
the knowledge that their charge was dying on their watch. Not the sort of thing
a guard wants on his record. Yet for all their anxious attendance and that of
the physicians they conjured up, I knew he was dead. I had felt the burden of
responsibility settle irrevocably on my shoulders and it seemed quite happy to
remain there. I am positive I saw a slight smile on his handsome features.
Though he was not a bastard and nor was I, which is entirely the problem is it
not? Were we bastards we could have lived our lives comfortably in obscurity,
provided for of course but certainly not expected to do anything of any note.
Certainly not expected to restore our entire bloodline to its former glory. Our
blood was precious. We had been told this our entire lives. Apparently my dearly
departed brother wanted to view a good deal of it up close and personal to
analyze its extraordinary qualities. Have I mentioned how I hate him?
You must think me an unfeeling sort to speak so ill of the dead. Especially a
soul troubled enough to take his own life. I suppose I cannot deny it and to be
perfectly honest, I am not remotely contrite about it. Ever since we were
children my dearest brother has been pushing his duties off on me. The chores
our attendants insisted we do to learn humility. The meetings on matters of
state and the rebuilding. Even the initial meetings with his thrice damned wife
who was conscripted to produce the next generation of our accursed lineage,
which she failed to do I might add. And now he had managed the ultimate
shirking by killing himself.
My sychophants, overly attentive due to my recent promotion, attempted to
comfort me by telling me it was not my fault, he had always been weak. I could
not deny it. He was petrified of who he was. Always had been. I think he had
nightmares about the citizenry of the Basin finding out who we are and
descending en masse to filet us. Bit paranoid my brother, though I suppose he
had reason to be. One simply did not announce they were the only living
descendants of the Celestian Imperial family in the marketplace.
Yes, you did read correctly. I am from that family. No, of course you have
never heard anything of us, we have been most assiduously hidden. Though
honestly, what did you think happened to the Imperial Family? Did you assume it
was simply the Lunatic Emperor and his daughter? I assure you there were quite a
few people who had Imperial blood surging through their veins, though it is
quite true that a good portion of us died when Celest fell. It was the noble
thing to do after all, go down with the ship as it were. The Emperor had
siblings as well as Aunts, Uncles, and a variety of cousins. My father was his
nephew actually, and some argue our line of the family had a more valid claim
to the throne due to it being a reuniting of two Imperial branches, but that is
neither here nor there.
My father was thirteen when the Taint wars began. Many of the Family were
trapped in Magnagora and succumbed to the Taint. The majority of the rest were
in Celest. My father, however, was learning to be a man by crewing on one of
the royal fishing vessels. As soon as the city fell, he was whisked away by his
retainers and his identity hidden. Curiously enough, there was not a lot of
affection for our family at that moment in time, though cousin Marilynth's
sacrifice did help a bit to offset it. Honestly, when an Emperor goes mad and
almost brings about the destruction of the entire world, that is simply not
good public relations.
He was married off to a suitably highborne wife late in life who dutifully bore
him a son and then died while bearing him his daughter, me. I understand they
were not particularly close though he never married again. I must assume he
could not bear the thought of tearing his attention away from his wine glass.
The burden always weighed heavily on him. He knew it was his responsibility to
take on the mantle of leadership since technically he was now the Emperor yet
he was hampered by the minor detail that the Empire no longer existed. Yet his
attendants and members of his clandestine court did not seem to mind this.
They met in secret on a regular basis, reliving the glory days and bemoaning
the leadership of the "new blood". They despised the restrictions placed upon
them, the hard work expected of them in the rebuilding, and most of all they
resented their newfound insignificance. These were women and men who had
commanded an empire and now, now they could command nothing. Peasants rose to
prominence based on their commitment and hard work and apparently this
meritocracy was offensive to the high blood's refined sensibilities.
As a child I heard their words and attempted to match them with what I
experienced when I was allowed out into the new city. They did not mesh. What I
found was a vibrant society pulling together to attempt to build something out
of the ashes of utter defeat. It was something I yearned to be a part of and I
watched restlessly as great feats were performed around me on a daily basis. I
was never allowed to join a Guild, though I desperately wanted to. It would not
be proper I was told. No, the proper thing to do was to sit on an estate,
utterly impotent, and watch others take care of the duties you had a blood
When my father died I did not weep. He had drunk himself to death and had quite
honestly lasted far longer than I feel he had any right to. Besides, we had
never been particularly close. I was not the heir. I was simply an extra. Just
in case. I presume the in case was in case my brother died doing something bold
and daring to restore the throne and bring back the Imperial days. Well, the
best laid plans and all that.
So now, here I am. Sixteen years old and Empress of an Empire that does not
exist, bearer of a debt that I incurred simply by being born. The sole
surviving member of a once great family. One cannot count cousin Marilynth's
spirit and I certainly do not count that rotting corpse in the Sea of Despair.
Though, I suppose it is possible there are others out there, either unaware of
their heritage or shielded like I am. Sometimes it gives me comfort to think
there are more such as me, sharing my burden. But I will not find them here,
anymore than I will find a way to redeem myself for a crime I did not commit.
Which is why I am leaving. My father and brother may have tolerated the
constant whispering of their so-called "advisors" but I have better things to
do with my life. I will not sit in this idyllic prison while there are battles
that need fighting outside these walls. I will not be used as a brood mare for
the next generation of lost children.
The time for Empires has passed. This is a new age and I wish to be a part of
it, despite my cursed blood. It is time for my family to help rebuild this
world we destroyed. And it is far past time for the blood of the Celestian
royal family to simply become lost. In another time and in another place I
would be an Empress. Here in this time and in this place, I am simply a Merian
struggling to find her place, struggling to overcome who she was born to be. I
am blood of the lost and it is my time to be found.
I was beaten again today. Or was it yesterday? Time blurs in this place though
I recall no time outside of this prison. I watch indifferently as the blood
trickles down my palm, gathers its courages, and then makes the plunge to the
stone floor below, joining its comrades who have gone before. Traitors. It was
their fault I was in this situation and they simply jump ship at the slightest
wounding. Perhaps if all the blood was gone from me, my captors would release
me. Without my blood, perhaps the hatred in their eyes would cool. Perhaps. I
silently encourage my blood to leap faster. If I had the strength I would
scream at it in impotent rage.
Today's beating was particularly vicious. My first recollections of this place
of course featured vicious beatings prominently but they were an attempt to
gain information on others of my kind. Now however, they were just revenge.
Revenge for yet another hideous mutation in a once beloved family member.
Revenge for a once promising future turned into a living nightmare from which
there was no escape. Revenge for a world that had never gotten to taste
justice. I could understand the need for revenge. Though the revenge I sought
was for being born.
The rough stone of my cell floor presses painfully into my open wounds. There
is little I can do about it. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the twitching
whiskers of a large rat. Drawn by the scent of my blood, he and his brethren
have come to contribute to my agony. Betrayed once more by my blood.
I was once a Prince. I lived a life of gaiety and frivolity and when the dream
that was Celest came crashing down in a miasma of death and horror, I was
quietly seized and taken to this place. Or so I am told. As I said, I have no
memory outside of these walls. They tell me I am the last of my family. I hope
that is true. My family deserves to be wiped from existence.
As my strength ebbs, I think that this time will perhaps be the last. I have no
more reserves and no more will. My only wish is to die. I briefly think of my
host's annoyance when he finds I have expired on him. He dearly loves to bring
me out at parties and let his guests play with me, all the while calling me
"Your Imperial Majesty".
The blood drip slows but judging from the amount I can see around, there is not
much left in me. It seems reluctant to leave me now. It is unwanted blood housed
in an unworthy vessel yet I am the only vessel it has. It is too late for that
now. Too late for second thoughts. My sight leaves me and I smile as the
Once it was the blood that forged an Empire. Now it is simply the blood of the