PART 1 : SYNAIRN
Synari children are born with the knowledge of speech and a few other scraps of information. My mother, Arellan was her name, cuddled me close as she stood next to the picture windows in her rooms that looked out over the city, only a few hours after my birth. The city-dimension of Synairn.
"My Alexai," she murmured to me. I cuddled closer to her, chewing on the end of her plait. She smiled gently at me, pulling her hair from my grasp. She stepped closer to the window, close enough for me to see the child reflected back at me. A shock of black hair contrasted with a pale face as bright blue eyes stared back at me. A single streak of white mixed with the black hair. I reached out a hand to touch this strange child. My fingers touched cool glass. Slightly disappointed, I looked at the city for the first time. Towers made of pale stone, seamless and elegant, seemed to go on forever before giving away to plains of silvery grass, then mountains that ringed the edge of the city-dimension. The Deas Mountains, I remembered. Beyond these mountains, there was nothing. The dimension ended there.
"Look!" Arellan breathed, pointing to a black speck against the pale violet sky. It grew larger and larger before sweeping past the window, all wings, legs and equine majesty.
"It's called a pegasus," Arellan told me, "the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen."
The door crashed open. A man strode in, his white robes swirling around him. A thin glinted in his hand. He kept the blade pointed towards the floor, present but unthreatening. He held out his other hand to Arellan, his face set in an unforgiving expression.
"Give me the child, Arellan!" He ordered. My mother didn't back down. Holding my close to her chest, she raised her own hand, summoning her magic. The white light flashed in her narrowed eyes, reach to fight. She looked like an avenging angel, ready to face down injustice.
"No." She said firmly. Everything in her tone dared the man to challenge her. He looked set to argue, the sword trembling in his hand, but deflated. He sheathed the sword in the scabbard at his hip, sighing heavily. He rubbed his temples, as if he had a headache.
"I can't fight you, Arellan. You know that. But please, for your own sake, give up the child before it becomes too powerful!"
"We can control her, Armen! The Scriptures prove that! Half bloods are capable of being in control!
"Arellan, please. The Senate is already up in arms about her being allowed to live this long." He sighed heavily. The look on Arellan's face meant that she wasn't going to back down from her decision. "You will be called to stand before the Senate. Be aware of that. Be prepared." He saluted formally to my mother, the three middle fingers of his right hand pressed between his eyebrows before he turned and left the room, his white robes billowing out behind him.
We stood before the Senate two weeks later. I knew that Synari children grew quickly before slowing down around the age of twelve where they would be almost adult in physical form. It had been a survival trait born long ago when the Synari died quickly and easily and since kept by the race. Only those who grew up fast had been able to evade the predators until they learned how to fight and how to stay alive. I was growing too fast, even by their standards. I knew that. I was able to walk after only a few days. I could read the simple version of the Synari runite language not long after that. Only two weeks old, I looked closer to two years. It worried Arellan. I could sense it.
The Synari, as a magical race, needs stability. The most powerful among them wield a form of pure, physical magic that can be manipulated so as to be used as telekinesis, transport or even as a weapon. For this reason, the Synari has the Senate: one hundred Synari and one hundred of the winged humanoid race known as the Careen that cohabited the dimension with us. The Senate was headed by the High Priestess. High Priestess Arias. They enforced the notion of pacifism in the dimension and encouraged the pursuit of knowledge. The closest thing they had to an army was the pegusi-mounted City Guard, who were the basic equivalent of the police. The Senate worked and lived in the extensive and elaborate towers connected by walkways. The Senate Towers. That was where I had been living for the last two weeks and where I now stood, staring up at the great doors that led into the Senate Chambers, the room where they all met, where all the biggest decisions were taken. Arellan was fussing over me, smoothing my unruly hair and straightening my cloak. A foot guard stood in front of the door, waiting for a signal that only he would understand. He turned, opening the doors, gesturing to us to go through. As I passed him, I heard him murmur a few words.
"May Arias have mercy on you."
The doors closed with a final thud. Trapped.
Sat in the stands around us, two hundred and two sets of eyes stared at me. I shrank closer to Arellan, trying to hide from their unkind, unsympathetic gazes, wrapping myself in Arellan's white cloak. She tried to hide her smile as she bent down, untangling me from my hiding place. Only then did she formally salute to an old woman in silver robes who stood out against the sea of white.
"High Priestess," she said respectfully. My mother's voice echoed eerily in the silent, circular chamber.
"Senator Arellan," replied the High Priestess. I glanced up at my mother. SenatorArellan? I desperately wanted to ask her about it, but then remembered that Arellan had warned me not to say a word unless asked a question in the Senate Chambers.
"Senator Arellan, it is not normal for us to be confronted with one of our own number, but nor is this a normal case. We are here to discuss the fate of the creature you brought into this world. A dangerous half blood. What would you have us do, Arellan Roth?"
"I would have you let her live," Arellan replied clearly. A collective gasp ran through the assembled Senators. I gripped her hand tighter, unnerved by the hostility in the room.
"Can you explain this, Arellan?"Asked one Senator.
"We all know that the half bloods died out long ago, enforced by themselves so that none of their children would have to bear the curse. But they were in control. They were lucid. Why is Alexai any different? We need only use the half blood scriptures to educate her."
"Is it not true that some half bloods did lose control?" Asked another Senator.
"The half bloods policed their own," Arellan replied, "those who lost control were rehabilitated or, failing which, executed." Arellan's voice threatened to break on the last word. I reached up a hand to take hers. She smiled slightly in reassurance as she looked down at me. Arias sat back, watching my mother and I carefully.
"If the decision of the Senate was to let her live, what would you do to facilitate her life and keep our city safe?"
"I would ask for access to the Part Demon Scriptures so as to educate myself before being capable of educate Alexai."
"And if the decision of the Senate was to destroy her?"
"I would fight you every step of the way." High Priestess Arias sat back in her chair to contemplate Arellan's words. I could almost hear my mother's heart beating harder, her hand gripping mine tightly.
"We shall cast a vote; all in favour of the destruction of the half blood should show their colours now."
With every spark of magic that touched the air, I felt Arellan's heart sink. I swallowed hard. At that age, everything that had been said had passed over my head. I was too young to understand that it was my life that was at stake. It wouldn't be until a year or so later that I would fully understand everything that had happened. For now, all I could understand that something very big was happening and that it concerned me. Whatever it was, given how angry everyone seemed, it wasn't good.
The vote had been cast. The secretary for the Senate was interpreting the results of the show of magic, turning it into the result that would determine whether I lived or died, even though I didn't know it at the time. I sensed Arellan's dreading anticipation as a piece of paper was handed to Arias. Her grip on my hand tightened, drawing me closer to her.
"The vote lies at 100 to 100. In this event, we must refer to the law, which states that the child may live."
I heard Arellan sigh with relief.
"However, Arellan," Arias continued, "I must insist that you hand the half blood over to the care of the Senate." Arellan opened her mouth to argue back, but the High Priestess simply raised a finger. Arellan lapsed into silence. Arias conintued speaking. "I say this in the child's best interest, Arellan; you know that the streets will never be safe for her to walk."
The foot guard took me away as the Senate had things to discuss with Arellan that were not for me to hear. He escorted me with a rapid stride that I had to run to keep up with, moving swiftly through the corridors of the residential tower. He stopped in front of one door, pushing it open before turning and leaving. Confused by his actions, I let my curiosity take over and began to explore the room. It was a room on the edge of the tower. Two of the walls were in fact a single arc and lined with the same picture windows as were in Arellan's room, allowing the light to infuse the room. Bookshelves stood against another wall, a few books already at home there. The only other pieces of furniture in the room were a bed, a desk and a washstand. I stood in the centre, not knowing what to think about it. I wanted to explore, but my eyelids began to droop. The events of the day were beginning to take their toll on me. With a wide yawn, I crawled under the bed, curled up and went to sleep.
I awoke to see Arellan's face peering under the bed with a slightly concerned expression. She smiled as soon as she realized that I was awake. Yawning again, I crawled back out, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
"Welcome back to the world of the living, little one," She said, warmly, "I brought you somelia."
I took the sweet, chewable stick. It was by far one of my favourites. The closest equivalent I have been able to find on Earth is a very solid stick of caramel. I scrambled up onto the bed to snuggle up to Arellan, happily gnawing on the sugary piece.
"Why did everyone call me a half blood?" I asked. She sighed, reaching under her robes. She pulled out a heavy looking grimoire, bound in ancient dark leather. She opened the book to a place marked by a ribbon. I looked at the picture. I wanted to scream, to run, to rip out the page and tear it up. But I sat quietly. Transfixed. Flames composed the background of the image, taunting the eye to believe that they were real and dancing on the coloured plate. From out of the flames rose a pillar of black stone and, leaping off the pillar, was a creature of midnight nightmares. Four red eyes, one pair set above the other, stared out of the inferno, staring out of the face of a gigantic black wolf. Its claws, glinting in the red light, were more like talons taken from a fearsome bird of prey, silver against the red. It's teeth, bared in a snarl of hatred and rage, showed teeth more akin to a sabre-toothed tiger than a wolf. Just below the picture, a caption had been written in flowing Synari runes. I struggled to decipher the writing, which was also written in the old speech: "Karthragan, thee greate Principe of thee Darkness".
"Arellan," I murmured, still unable to tear my eyes from the picture. "What is that?"
Her fingertips gently touched the picture. "That is your father, Alexai."
In a flash of shock and anger, I flung the book across the room. "No! That isnotmy father!" Arellan said nothing, standing up and retrieving the book, brushing it off and stowing it back in her robes. The evil book. The one that lies.
"I'm sorry, Alexai, but that is your father. I swear it by the goddess." She had to pause to compose herself as she sat down on the bed again. "There was a prophecy, that the Messenger Angel would bear children to the Prince of Darkness. All of the oracles interpreted the prophecy with the Messenger Angel being a part demon and therefore dead along with the rest of her race. The followers of Karthragan, the Demon Hunters, tricked me into the ritual." Her pale blue eyes searched mine, seeking some element of forgiveness or belief. I sat emotionless.
"That's why they called me half blood. That's why I'm dangerous."
Arellan said nothing, reaching her arms around me to hug me close. "I don't care; I will never let you go."