As Kai of ancient Zyria strikes at the heart of the Alaeyan Royal Family, he is shocked to discover that the Queen has given birth to three Princes at once.
This was intended to be a prologue but I have no idea how to make it work!
16 Years Ago
"Three princes!" Kai overheard the commonfolk gossiping on the muddy road to the main Palace. "Queen Palona has had three sons! Last night! A miracle! Magic!"
Damn. I'm too late. Queen Palona was not due for another month! But three babes from one birthing? How could this be? He frowned as he strolled the muddy road in his long, black leather boots. His long, velvety black cloak was getting dirty as it trailed behind him on the mud, but that was no matter. He could always wash it. It was the first time he'd gone as Kai Zyria out into the open world in a very, very long time. Centuries. There wasn't a chance anyone could recognise him but for his glowing red eyes.
"You're sure?" Kai asked a miserable looking woman in her middling years. He put a well-manicured hand on the handle of her wheelbarrow so she would pause to talk to him. He saw she was pushing logs of wood. A squirrel sat upon her shoulder. Her best friend. Her Familiar. What a cute one it was, too, but not pragmatic. "Three boys?"
"Yes! From her womb, three baby boys," she winced as she stood up struggled to stand up straight to greet him. He was wearing fine clothes and appeared to be of a prestigious family, so humbling herself expected of her. She was but a commoner. Ridiculous. "It's a miracle, is it not?"
"I'll say," Kai mumbled, incredulous.
How can a woman have three children at the same time? No woman had ever birthed more than one babe. There must have been witchcraft involved, surely. No. It was impossible. His family alone practised sorcery. So how did this come to be? What would become of their Familiar? One soul split in three? Or three souls born as one? No doubt the boys would have a Pegasus as their mother had. Maybe they each had one of their own. The woman made eye contact with him and she gasped. Kai was a sweet-looking man who appeared to be of around thirty, but that was a mask. Only today, for the first time in centuries, had he shown the crimson eyes of a Zyrian.
"If you'll excuse me m'lord," the woman gave a polite nod and hurriedly went back to her business, wincing in pain as she began to push her wheelbarrow again. Only one family line in Ytian history had red eyes, and they were long thought extinct. She was afraid of him. No. She needs to know she has no reason to be.
"Does your back cause you concern?" Kai asked her, gently pushing her aside and looking up at her.
The squirrel chattered excitedly and ran back and forth between her shoulders over her neck. It didn't make sense, Kai thought sadly. This woman needs a Familiar who could help ease her burden, yet she has a squirrel. A squirrel could not look after her. In the palace, the royal family had servants, slaves and Pegasi. This peasant woman needed a Pegasus more than anyone who lived in the Palace. He'd been hoping to strike before Queen Palona birthed her heir - in this case, three heirs - but he was too late, it seemed. While he intended to eliminate the Royal Family of Alaeyas, he did not want to harm a child.
"Oh, I'm just old! Pay me no mind," She laughed emptily, but Kai could see the pain in her greying eyes. She deserves better than this. I will be the difference. I will bring life back into this twitching corpse of a country.
"Here," Kai touched her cheek with a smile.
She breathed in sharply, not knowing what he was doing. She might have known who he was or she might not, but she was wary. In these clothes, Kai looked very wealthy, and the rich did not treat the common well in the country of Alaeyas. He knew this all too well. He'd been hiding as one of them for hundreds of years now. Kai murmured a few words in the ancient tongue, words that only he knew.
"This will sting a little, but trust me."
The woman gasped as the red irises of Kai's eyes glowed as though a torch lit them from the inside, and the power flowed through his fingers into her face. She grunted in discomfort as the white-hot energy entered her body and found her pain. The squirrel ran and scurried down her shirt between her breasts. Kai could feel where she hurt. Her knees, her ankles and her back. A crick in her neck, and a slight headache. This woman was living in agony, and what were the wealthy doing about it? Nothing. It's up to me. With one more startled squeak, the woman took a step back as Kai finished healing her. Suspicious, she rotated her legs under her filthy ragged dress and straightened her back properly for perhaps the first time in years. She looked at him.
"You're... you're from the old Zyria family! How is this possible?" She got down on one knee, and Kai grimaced. Nobody should kneel for another person. Superiority and inferiority were nothing but constructs of the Alaeyan Royal Family. Kai did not believe in them. "I'm not worthy, m'lord. Thank you. Thank you so much."
"I prefer Kai if you don't mind," he told her amicably and brought her back up to her feet. "There is no need for thanks. May I ask your name?"
"Willa, m'lord Kai," Willa nodded. She looked years younger already. The squirrel felt it, too. It climbed up and ran along Willa's arm, sniffing at Kai's fingers close by. "She likes you!"
"She's adorable," Kai grinned, scratching the squirrel behind the ear. That made Willa smile. The bond between Human and their Familiar was incredibly strong, even among the smallfolk. If one was happy, so was the other. If one was in pain, so too was the other. "Good luck with your journey, Willa! Seek me out if you should ever need me."
"Hmm? Where will I find you?" Willa asked, confused and scratched at her dirty grey hair.
"The Palace. I'm going to kill the Royal Family," Kai told her matter-of-factly. Willa's eyes bulged in shock, and she clasped her hands together in front of her face. She had no words.
Come on down, Jerod, Kai told his Familiar telepathically. We're running late. She's already had the Princes. "Don't be afraid," he warned the woman with a hand on the shoulder of her muddy dress. "He looks scarier than he is. He would never hurt you."
Willa gave an audible yelp of surprise when a fully grown Wyvern shrieked from the clouds above. It was big enough to cover most of the roadway with a shadow, and many of the other smallfolk cried out in alarm. Kai didn't like to scare them, but now that the babies were born, time was of the essence and he could no longer approach the Palace on foot to take them unawares. He knew the Royal Family would be desperate to evacuate the moment someone sighted Jerod, a Wyvern of Zyria, so they had to rush before the Queen and King got away. Or the heirs to the throne. His mission just got a whole lot messier, and he sighed in frustration.
To Kai, Jerod was his best friend since birth, but he was a frightening thing, he supposed. The Wyverns of the Zyria family were fearsome enough to look at, but it was their reputation that scared the ordinary people the most. It could have been my family on that throne, Kai thought. But my ancestors knelt to the Alae family instead, and what have they done with it? They've failed their people. Sickness, hunger and homelessness ran rife. That ends now. He was stronger than any Zyrian sorcerer had ever been. He had studied and trained in secret for a very long time. By striking quickly, the Palace Guard would have no chance of stopping him. Kai hopped up on Jerod's spiny neck, finding a comfortable seat between two sharp horns, and lovingly ran his fingers between the beast's eyes.
Let's go, he told him, and Jerod wasted no time flapping his wings and taking off in the air, leaving Willa stunned in the middle of the road.
The palace loomed in the distance. A beautiful thing. Towers and turrets, walls and bridges, most of it pale white marble. So many resources went into building this place, and for what? For fat old monarchs to live in luxury at the expense of the people they ruled.
That ends today, Kai told Jerod, and the beast grunted in agreement. I've been training for hundreds of years. We both have. Nobody can stop us. Closing his eyes, feeling the wind rush through his long, black hair, Kai whispered words in the ancient tongue of Zyria and shot a bolt of energy into the sky above the centre tower of the Palace - the tallest one. The red, gleaming void of pure power began to spin a monstrous, spiral-shaped cloud that blotted out the sun. Thunder boomed, and lightning shot out of the shadow to strike one of the open bridges, which seemed to make Jerod laugh. The beast's eyes were far sharper than Kai's were.
You got him, Jerod said, and Kai smirked, but he was not thrilled that he had to kill people. To commit genocide here would make him no better than the people he was liberating Alaeyas from. The red, swirling vortex charged a thunderstorm that would strike anybody who tried to leave the Palace. If they had any sense, they would remain inside. Kai did not have quarrel with anyone except the rulers in there. He would deal with them, but if the rest of them submitted to him, they would be free to leave. Bolts and arrows flew at the two of them from the turrets in the corner. None of the bowmen were stupid enough to leave the shelter of the marble towers after seeing the vicious thunderstorm in action.
Careful, Jerod told him. Hang on.
Kai gasped as Jerod spun and weaved his way through the storm of arrows. I'm going to fall if he keeps this up.
Stop! I'll be okay, he told Jerod. Let me protect us. You just get me inside. There. Through that window is the throne room. Break it.
He remembered it from when he was but a little boy. All that time ago. It was weird how similar the Palace looked after these centuries. Has the rest of the world really stagnated? Are Jerod and I the only ones who grew? Kai whispered some words in ancient Zyrian and any bolts and arrows that might have hit the two of them seemed to curve away from them. Excellent. He braced himself as Jerod broke one of the enormous stained glass windows with a lash of his spiked tail, and Jerod cautiously approached so that Kai could step onto the base of the window, glass crunching underneath his boots.
Great work, Jerod! If any Pegasus tries to get away, tear out its throat. He laughed when Jerod replied to him.
I'm going to eat well tonight!
Such a greedy boy, Kai thought happily.
"Oh, hello," Kai smiled at a shocked Palace guard. While there had been a mass exodus once the window broke, this poor guy looked to be frozen in fear. "I'm looking for Queen Palona and King Jaiden."
"Demon!" The man quivered, his sword drawn. "Leave!"
"I'm not a demon, and I'm not leaving," Kai walked over towards the guard, completely unafraid. He was protected - armored in ancient Zyran magic. If the guard knew who he was from the crimson eyes burning in his youthful looking face, then he should know that. "I seek only the Royal Family. Take me to them, and you'll be handsomely rewarded."
"You'll never get to them!" The guard yelled and swung his blade. It struck Kai on the left clavicle and should have cut the slender man in half, but to the dismay and shock of the poor, traumatised man, the sword shattered in his hands and Kai was completely unaffected. The guard pissed himself. Kai was suspicious, though. There was no sign of the man's Familiar, but if the acrid smell of urine were any indication, his Familiar was just as afraid. Still, Kai wasn't invulnerable - although, nobody else needed to know that.
"Oh, please," Kai snorted, letting the irises in his eyes glow red. "Did you ever hear the tale of the nameless Palace guard who saved the day? Yeah, neither did I. Tell me where they are. You don't have to die."
"No! I serve the Queen until death!" He replied, voice quivering in sheer terror. "I'll never--" he began, but Kai whispered. His eyes glowed red and his fingertips buzzed with Zyrian energy.
"What do you not understand?" Kai had been facetious thus far in his dealings with the man, but he had a job to do and time was ticking. "The Royal Family dies today. You can't stop me. So what do you say? You show me the way, and you go home to your family tonight."
The man's eyes shifted to above him, and Kai arrogantly turned, put up his hand and said a single word. There had been a colossal brown spider approaching from the roof while the guard distracted him, three feet tall with legs six feet long and its huge teeth dripping with venom. As the spider lunged, Kai caught it telepathically and with another word, crushed the monster into a large, brown, gooey pulp, killing it. He turned to the guard. As if the light switched off inside him, the man collapsed onto the floor. Dead. The bond between Human and Familiar was life and death. One could not live without the other. So much time wasted, Kai grumbled, and he began walking down the long, wide passageway. It was decorated with lovely cobalt-blue cloths and carpets. Ominous red light from the clouds above came in from the windows, and Kai would stop to enjoy the view had he not come with a mission to assassinate.
"You!" Kai saw another Palace guard. He was attempting to flee. Everybody was running. They must know who I am, Kai thought. They must know they didn't stand a chance. The man ran to the corridor on the right, but Kai easily caught him by muttering some words and warping the short distance between. "Hey. You don't have to die," he told this new guard, and this guy looked very much like he didn't want to die. The wolf by his side growled menacingly, but Kai gave it a sharp look, and it whimpered.
"Please," this man was tall and broad. His wolf was huge, too. It came up to Kai's chest, but Kai would destroy it in an instant if he had to. "I have a family. I have money! I have--"
"You have the location of the Queen, King and Princes?" Kai asked him, and he nervously nodded. "Oh, good. Can you please show me the way? I promise I won't hurt you unless you try something stupid."
Kai had to remind himself that he was a monster to these people. He was Zyrian. A demonic sorcerer. Well, I'm not demonic. I'm just well studied and prepared. I've been preparing for this in hiding for hundreds of years. The Alae Royal Family obviously had not. Have they always been this weak? Could I have staged this coup a long time ago? How many people have I left in suffering because I took so long?
"Alright. They're in the West Tower, but I don't think Queen Palona intends to flee," the guard feebly told Kai.
"You know what'll happen if you're lying to me, don't you?" Kai asked him with his irises burning red. "I don't want to have to kill anyone that I don't have to. What's your name?"
"Aah... Zed, my lord," the guard was trembling as he began walking, his wolf warily eyeing Kai off by his side. "Please. I'll do whatever you say!"
"Well met, Zed. My name is Kai. So, my good man, you have one job, then you're free to live your life with your family," Kai told him, and Zed seemed to relax just a little. How thrilling, though. Aside from some arrows and crossbows and one giant spider, there had been so little offence from the Palace guard. Maybe the Alaeyan prophecy of the Zyrian demon returning to turn the country to ashes was too frightening for them. Maybe it was Jerod. Whatever it was, everyone was attempting to flee, but Kai knew the thunderstorm he conjured would strike down anyone within Palace walls that attempted to leave. "The Royal Family dies. Everyone else in Alaeyas is going to be fine. You have my word."
"Why are you doing this?" Zed asked, still shaky, attempting to keep up. His wolf kept its teeth bared, but Kai was not worried. If the wolf attacked, he would slay it before it reached him.
"For the common good," Kai replied - but then, he heard Jerod.
The King is trying to escape on his Griffin! Jerod exclaimed. Kai rolled his eyes into the back of his head. Now, he saw for himself through Jerod's much sharper eyes, and it looked like the King was abandoning his wife and children. What a craven! This is who leads the people? Men like this? Typical Iralian scum. Coward! Do I chase? Jerod asked.
No need, Kai replied with a sigh. He doesn't deserve to die a hero. Let the storm finish him. As soon as he said that, the thunderstorm, still raging overhead like the gates of Hell, struck King Jaiden with a single thunderbolt so intense that both Human and Familiar exploded into a red mist - a cloud of viscera that seemed to dissolve into the air around it.
"Sir Kai?" Zed looked poised to attack, his sword at the ready, but Kai returned to his body and assumed a defensive position. The wolf was ready to pounce, its teeth bared.
"Are you doing something stupid?" Kai asked him. It would be a shame if he did. He was almost beginning to like Zed.
"No, I thought you were going to kill me," Zed lowered his sword, and his wolf relaxed. "You went all... weird."
"Oh, that. No. I watched your King die," Kai explained nonchalantly, and Zed's jaw dropped. "Hah! I know, right? Your King? This man that you all so blindly worship? He tried to run away like a coward. He abandoned the Queen and the three Princes. He deserved to die. You lot surprise me, Zed, I have to admit. Where are the defenses? Where are the guards? I was expecting to have to kill hundreds today. Instead, all of them run? Is that what your King commanded? Run?"
"We have no chance against a demon of Zyria," Zed replied. When Kai looked at him quizzically, Zed quickly added to his answer. "That's what the King and Queen said. One day a demon of Zyria will come, riding on a Wyvern. He will kill everyone."
"I'm no demon, Zed," Kai replied with a hint of amusement. "Zyria was a noble family that studied and understood sorcery. Nothing more. Don't believe everything you hear - especially from Alaeyan Royal scum. They would say anything to scrub the blood off their hands. You don't know anything about me."
"Please don't kill them," Zed begged, and Kai felt a tug at his heart. "I beg of you, Sir Kai. Don't kill the Queen and her babes."
"Zed," Kai paused briefly and brushed back his long, black hair over his shoulders. He began walking with the guard again towards the West Tower, the wolf between them. "Have you ever mingled with the commoners before?"
"Well... no," he admitted awkwardly. "I was born and raised here in the Palace. My wife works in the kitchens, and the teacher schools our daughters here every day."
"Then you have no idea what it's like out there," Kai explained, the two beginning to scale a spiral staircase lit by torches hanging on brackets on the wall. "I've been out there for a very, very long time. I grew up alone, hungry and scared. Had I not had Jerod, my wyvern, by my side... I wouldn't have survived. I've seen Kings and Queens come and go, over and over again, and nothing ever changes. People are suffering and dying for no reason. There is medicine for the sick. There is food for the hungry. There is shelter for the homeless. But the rich are greedy, you see? The peasants have nothing, and the Royal Family and their noble houses have everything. I'm doing this for them. Everybody deserves to be healthy, safe and fed. Without the King, Queen and their heirs, we can make Alaeyas the country it has the potential to be. No more hierarchies. No more rich and poor. We are all people."
"I can't let you kill the Princes, Sir Kai," Zed spluttered nervously. He had a handsome face. He was in his mid-twenties, Kai guessed. He had a brown moustache and beard, and his eyebrows were thick over two round, blue eyes. Most of the people in Alaeyas had blue eyes. "I'll have to try and stop you."
"You know you can't stop me," Kai replied coldly, letting his eyes glow. "You'd be stupid to try."
"I know," Zed's lip quivered. "But those three babes are innocent. Infants! I can't let you hurt them. Even if you kill me. I'll never be able to live with myself."
"You're a good man, aren't you, Zed?" Kai couldn't help but smile, and let his eyes dim. The man's dedication to protecting the innocent was inspiring. Kai needed people like Zed. People who cared. People who put the lives of the vulnerable before their own. That is how we will live. That is how we will prosper. Not as rich and poor, but as a single family. "Monarchy, though, has done nothing but poison the country. These people. I can't let it go on."
"Please!" Zed begged once more. Kai, curious to see what evoked such emotion, decided to see for himself.
"Shh," Kai cocked his head and put his fingers to Zed's forehead. He saw what Zed saw. Queen Palona giggling with ecstasy as she fed her three newborn babies. Three babies. That was... a miracle. How did she do that? But they were so beautiful, the Princes. So pure. Kai gasped as he pulled himself out of and looked at his hands. They were beginning to shake. No. I can't stop now.
"What was that?" Zed asked, rubbing his head and his wolf beginning to growl again. I know you want to protect your Human, wolf, but you're starting to annoy me. Unfortunately, hurting Zed's wolf would hurt Zed, and he liked the young palace guard, he decided.
"Nothing," Kai smiled and put his arm warmly on Zed's shoulder. He could see why Zed was willing to die to protect those three young babes. "I won't hurt the boys. You have my word."
"What about the Queen, Sir Kai?" Zed asked him then, and Kai felt impatience beginning to grow. She knew her country was in ruin and she never did anything about it. "Can you find it in your heart to spare her?"
"You should go, Zed. Go home to your family. This will all be over soon," Kai told him firmly before continuing up the stairs.
Zed didn't follow him, but nor did he leave. Please yourself, Zed, but don't get in my way. Tear the Monarchy out by the roots. He climbed each step, the heels of his shoes noisy against the marble. Sure enough, he eventually walked into a room. Queen Palona, dressed in one of her most beautiful blue gowns trim with golden lace, had all three boys in her arms. Her long, auburn hair fell in ornate curls around her shoulders. Her face was wet from tears. Next to them, three baby Pegasi, one black, one grey and one white, huddled together. The scene melted Kai's heart. He approached, and the Queen's Pegasus put itself between them with a look of fury in its silver-white eyes.
"Your Majesty," Kai greeted her coldly, looking at her around her Familiar. "May we talk?"
"What choice do I have?" Queen Palona replied, cuddling her three little sons. She's resigned herself to her fate, it seems. The Alae family must have known that Kai would come for them one day. Or perhaps they were living in denial? Either way, this was too simple. How fitting, he thought bitterly. For the Royal Family to be humiliated and defeated so easily.
"Why didn't you stand and fight?" Kai asked her, his eyes firmly on the Pegasus. At any moment, the animal could attack, and while Kai was well protected by his magical armor, he was far from invincible. "You gave in so quickly."
"You're a demon of Zyria," she looked up at him with her intense blue eyes. "I told the retainers and guards to flee. They didn't have to die as well." Kai sighed. Her ancestors filled her with lies, and thus she filled the Alaeyan Palace and family with lies about him. About his ancestors. But it was her words that angered him. She spoke of sparing the lives of this in the Palace, but she did not care what happened to those outside it!
"You didn't want your servants to die?" Kai asked her coldly, his fingers buzzing with energy. "What about your common people? The peasants? Do they deserve to die? Move, please," Kai ordered the Familiar, and Queen Palona must have ordered it to do so. It was a beautiful thing. A white horse with a silver mane and beautiful silver wings.
"Please don't do this," Queen Palona begged, but Kai was tired of hearing that. "Kill me if you need to, but not my children. Please, not my children." "What are their names?" Kai asked. He couldn't hurt them.
"Ronan, Orion and Soren," she answered, and it seemed even in the gravity of the situation, she couldn't help but smile as she spoke of them. She loves them so much. Kai could see why. They were precious. Maybe I'll have children of my own soon.
"They're lovely, you know?" He approached and gently touched each one on the hand. They cooed and blubbed, and they all had fiercely blue eyes. "I'm sorry your King left you like a coward. He should be here defending his children!"
"Is he...?" Queen Palona asked, and Kai nodded. "What are you going to do with my boys?" She asked him, tears trickling down her face.
"Your Majesty, I don't enjoy killing," Kai told her truthfully, his red eyes meeting her blue ones. "The Royal Family in Alaeyas is finished. I won't accept anything less. Your sons will never be welcome in Alaeyas again, but I won't hurt them. You have my word."
"You'll let them live?" Queen Palona asked, hope present in her pretty blue eyes. She kissed each of her three boys on the head.
"You're lucky I see no reason why they can't live happily elsewhere," Kai nodded. "I'll send your boys elsewhere. They'll be safe."
"Thank you," Queen Palona wept with gratitude. "If you mean to kill me... please just make it quick."
Kai nodded. He looked at her, and he looked at the children. He gazed at Queen Palona's Pegasus, and then to the three baby Pegasi. He sighed sadly. Do it. His eyes began to glow, and he whispered a word.
Thank you to everyone who gave How Familiar a chance ❤️ and an even bigger thank you to anyone who reacts or reviews! ❤️❤️❤️