Version one, new version coming.
|Cal stood watching as she turned her face up to the sky light. After five days of storms, the sun finally showed itself. The light bathed her face making her skin glow and her hair shine. She looked so tired, Cal thought to himself as he watched the woman he loved more than life itself. He had practically raised her, and was now her consort, after many years apart they had come back together to be torn apart again.
For seven days and seven nights the Loyalist army had fought the Rebels for possession of the royal palace. Now on the eighth morning the army stood outside the gates of the palace proper ready to break through. There was one last chance to save not only the People but all of the races of the galaxy. Telaena had to die. Today was her twenty fifth birthday and in ten minutes upon the exact time of her birth Telaena would undergo the ceremony of Ascension. Were the woman or man truly finishes their growing.
This second puberty was dangerous when forced upon the subject. No one under the age of two hundred years old ascended naturally, and no one under the age of ninety six years had ever survived the process. Cal followed a few metres behind as Telaena walked into the Star Chamber where the ancestors of the five families still stood encased in crystal. Telaena walked up to the central crystal and placed her hands upon the silver and purple surface. In Cal's mind there was a humming and he concentrated on it until he heard Telaena speaking.
"… ready to do my duty for our people, just as you once did. I will go through the ceremony of Ascension and become empress. I know I will not survive, no one as young as I has ever survived the transformation. My death will hopefully end this civil war that has plagued our people. Well I am dying anyway so at least this way I will die in the service of my people." There was a pause and Telaena smiled sheepishly. "That was a little over dramatic wasn't it? Sorry."
Cal felt a wave of love and support wash over her. Telaena smiled and took her hand from the crystal. She stood for a moment before T'Jara walked in.
"Telaena it is time." Telaena turned and rolled her eyes at the AI. T'Jara held out her robe and waited.
Telaena walked over and let T'Jara place the robe upon her shoulders. She stood silently as T'Jara tied the wide sash and pulled on the strings to tighten it. For once Telaena wore the purple, silver and gold of the empress. The robe she wore had been altered to include the crests of her husbands and consorts families. There was even the ancient people's symbol for earth sewn onto her right shoulder. If she hadn't been so pale she would have been beautiful with her hair pulled up and then cascading down her back.
Telaena turned and walked from the chamber and down the hall a ways, followed by Cal and T'Jara. As they got to the doors of the chamber of light T'Jara stepped forward and stood before the door.
"I don't want to do this," she whispered.
"Come now your imperialness. I went and got a new body and everything for your day. Everyone else also got dressed up all for you."
"Don't get smart with me you bucket of bolts. I don't care if now have a flesh and blood body. I can still dismantle you." T'Jara bowed and pushed open the two floor to ceiling doors.
The glare from the room was blinding Cal could see Telaena flinch slightly and then take a deep breath. He followed behind her as she made her way down the path between the bodies to the centre of the hall.
The hall was massive, created to hold the majority of the noble houses and their families during ceremonies. Today it was not even half full. The marble and basalt floors, walls and columns dwarfing the brightly coloured people who stood waiting to witness the event. Cal sneered at a few of them when they tried to reach out and touch their saviour. Until recently Cal never believed much in the prophesies, and he still wasn't sure if the woman in front of him was the Tayahar, of one thing he was sure if anyone could survive against these odds, it was his little flower.
Four people similarly dressed stood in the centre of the hall waiting. Two men and two women, silently watched as Telaena walked up to them. One of the women stepped forward slightly and bowed deeply, the others following suit.
"We are your chosen highness. I am Gelrey of Serl and this is my brother Goren," she said pointing to the nearest of the two men, "The other two are Pesarra of Careniiu and Hootan of the Xon wastelands." They all bowed again and waited. Telaena just stood for a moment not saying anything. Gelrey looked at her companions and spoke again.
"My lady we are those who will go through the transformation with you. Five as there was at the beginning five to make a new empress, it has always been this way."
"I do not think I shall survive this, you will be ruined. I cannot ask you to do this."
"We know the risks. Even if you do not survive and we become broken shells we will still be able to assist your chosen heir with her duty until they are ready to themselves take the throne." Telaena looked down for a moment. Cal could feel her uneasiness. She hated people putting their lives on the line for her. She was so positive that she was going to die this day.
Suddenly an alarm sounded through the hall. Telaena turned as Geror and Dannin ran into the hall.
"What is it?"
"The loyalists have broken down the last shield. They are almost to the palace gates." Telaena raised her face slightly to look at the now green sky over head. The sky began to darken as she gathered her power. Dannin took his mother's hand. Cal knew they were linking with all the other children as well as the guard. Cal thought for a moment holding back. Until this moment he had been able to keep his new power hidden. Shaking his head he placed his hand on Telaena's shoulder and opened his power to her. He felt the power of the Elven realms flow through him to her. She gripped his other hand in surprise as she accepted the power. He could feel it as everyone came into the meld and she pushed forward towards the awaiting loyalist army. At the palace gates the Rebel meld rammed into the loyalist meld. The woman in the meld held the power and everyone together while the men tried to break the opposing meld. For a moment it was a stale mate until Telaena actually pushed back. The loyalist meld fell away with a scream. Slowly Telaena let everyone go and she slumped to the floor, being caught by Dannin and Cal.
"She can't go through this anymore," Cal hissed.
"She has to. Regardless of the cost," Dannin hissed back as his mother came to. Cal helped her up and took a step back as she gathered herself again.
"I thank you four for your help in this. Shall we begin?"
"But my lady it is not yet the right time," Pesarra said nervously.
"That is just too bad then isn't it? There is an army at the gates of this palace and we now have no way of keeping them out for more than half an hour. If you are going to do this then do it now or leave." The small woman nodded and stepped into her place among the symbols.
On the floor five circles intertwined. One for each element, red, blue, white and green, the centre circle where the other four finished was at first glance grey but when you looked closely was actually black and white intertwined, representing the keeping of the balance. Telaena stood just outside the centre circle. Cal could just see her shoulders shaking as she tried to gather the courage to do what had to be done. Gently he turned her around and looked down into her green eyes that were slowly turning grey with sadness.
"Go Cal I don't want you here for this."
"Where else would I be little flower? My place is at your side and at your side I shall be." He gently kissed her. They looked into each others eyes as the chanting began. When it reached a crescendo Cal smiled gently and with a last fleeting kiss pushed Telaena into the circle.
There was a scream from all five of them as her foot fell inside the circle. Cal was thrown back by the force of the power now emanating from the circles. Slowly the blinding light that flooded the chamber of stars slowly faded. It took a few moments for Cal's eyes to adjust enough that he could see the shapes of five people. Four of them were still standing in their circles but the fifth was crumpled on the floor.
"Telaena!" Cal yelled as he ran over and gathered her in his arms. She was cold, tears ran down his face as he pressed his fingers to her neck looking for a pulse…