by A.M. Tamburo
Contest Round 2 Entry
Contest Round 2: Antagonist Background Story
Bahar stood next to his brothers at the front of the crowd, as always his sword and shield at the ready. He could feel the excitement in the crown behind him as they waited. Their king had been absent for many years, and all were excited to see him again. Well, most anyway.
As long as it had been since they came into being, there were still those among his brothers and sisters that believed an assassination of the king was possible. Foolhardy though the attempts may be the king put enough store on them to appoint a battalion of his best soldiers to his protection detail.
Truthfully the only time their services were required was when their father called a meeting and all were compelled to attend. However, there were always a few of his elite guard around even when he was in his chambers. Though most of them thought that was more for company than anything else. Then again, Bahar supposed, it must be lonely at the top.
When the white door in the wall at the rear of the dais began to open, a soft whisper of feathery wings accompanied the turning of all present, and a hush fell over the crowd.
“Good evening, my children. It is good to see you all again.” The king said in a benign and genial voice as he reached the front of the stage.
To which those gathered replied as one, “Good evening, Your Majesty!”
“I know all has gone well in my absence, and I am most proud of all of you.” he continued once the echoes of their greeting grew faint enough to be heard over. “In fact, I am so proud that I want to share some exciting news with all of you.”
He broke off here dramatically, a move that all of them recognized as him pausing to let this sink in.
When the excited, curious murmurs and confused looks died down, he continued speaking.
“While I was away, I created a whole new race of beings! That’s right, a whole new little universe in fact!”
When this proclamation was met with nothing but shocked silence, he continued as though he hadn’t paused.
“Needless to say, after the time I have been spending watching them I have become quite fond of them, which is the purpose for this meeting. I have decided that these amazing creatures are to be revered!”
Again another pause, though this one proved to be shorter than the previous as it was met with a growing murmur of horror and disbelief. Mistaking this for heightened excitement, the king continued.
“That’s right, children! I have decided that you, my beloved children, should worship these new beings as you do me.”
This statement was met with a tremendous uproar as the sound of multitudes of raised voices and the angry beating of wings swept through the crowd gathered before the stage.
The king raised his hands sharply and his echoing voice bellowed through the crowd for silence, but no one even seemed to notice, so great was their surprise and anger. Two well placed lightning bolts flew from his raised hands and stuck the floor in the middle of the crowd, sending those standing there scurrying in all directions, their mingled shrieks of fear and surprise adding to the din.
Suddenly another voice rent the crowd, a voice that they all knew well and had sought out for solace and guidance in their king’s long absence.
The sound of this voice brought them all up short, and they turned as one to see their brother now standing in front of the dais directly in front of the king.
Bahar startled to see his general, who had been standing next to him only moments before, now facing him, his sword raised and his shield held before him defensively.
At the immediate silence, the king lowered his hands. He moved to speak, but the general suddenly turned and spoke directly to him.
“Your majesty, I must speak!” When the king merely stared at him, clearly taken aback at the soldier’s boldness, he continued.
“I have followed every order you have ever given me without question; but this I cannot abide in silence. I will worship you all my life, but no other.”
This statement sent a blossom of red across the forehead of the king, and a rumble of agreement through the crowd.
Sensing that there may be trouble, the remaining members of the guard moved forward to take up their places on either side of their general, Bahar taking his usual place at his general’s right hand.
“What did you say?” The king said slowly and dangerously, the rage in his voice palpable in the tense silence.
“I said, father,” He continued, his voice steady and set, much like that of the man before him, “That I cannot and will not worship these new beings, these… these… urchins that you have brought before us.”
The color of his face now resembling a large overripe plum, the king raised his hands and shot lightning bolts upward to violently light up the sky, the accompanying earsplitting crash of thunder echoing for long minutes.
“Do not call me father!” The king stormed, and a rumble of thunder echoed through the dark clouds now forming both over and below the gathered subjects.
“You will address me as Your Majesty; and you will obey me, or you will be banished from my kingdom forever!” he roared.
The soldiers stood in silence in front of the stage, frozen with both fear and horror by their general’s actions and the furious reaction of the king.
In a voice that was low and touched with sarcasm, he once again shook his head and said, “I am sorry father, I cannot.”
“I see.” The king said.
Raising his voice again to address the crowd, he spoke loudly, his tone hard and unmistakably warning.
“Would any of the rest of you like to join your brother in exile?”
There was a loud rustling as thousands of beings moved hastily backward and bowed their heads in supplication to their king. When the crowd settled again, only two of them stood at the front of the crowd.
“Bahar,” the general muttered to his brother, “don’t be a fool, go back!”
“No,” he replied, his voice taking on steel his spine didn’t feel, “I will stand with you, my brother.”
“Bahar” the king broke into their exchange, his voice puzzled and a bit sad. “You have always been one of my favored children, why now do you choose to disobey me?”
“Because Your Majesty, I have to have pledged to serve you and you alone. I cannot change my allegiance.” He paused, working hard to keep the quaver out of his voice,
“ Nor will these creatures share it.”
“Very well,” The king replied, his voice dripping with disappointment and possibly even a bit of regret. “You have both chosen your path.”
With a wave of his hand he motioned forward the remaining members of his guard and ordered them to restrain both of the rebels. Stepping behind them, a guard took ahold of each of their hands while still others took up positions on either side of them. Bahar, feeling minuet shudders in the hands that wrapped firmly around his wrists, clenched his fists briefly, conveying to his comrade that he bore him no ill will. Feeling the hands steady, Bahar gave his attention back to the events playing out before him.
Turning first to the general of his guard patrol, one of his most favored subjects and his much beloved son, the king raised his hand and with a wave brought the soldier to his knees, his captors keeping his arms firmly pulled behind him.
Moving to stand over the kneeling figure he said in a cold voice, “Lucifer, you have chosen to disobey me and show me the respect I demand. Furthermore, you directly refuse to follow my orders. It is also my belief that you have incited your brother to join you in this folly. For this you will be banished from my kingdom for all eternity. Additionally you will be placed in a cage in the far reaches of the earth’s fiery bowels. There you will burn until eternity!”
At this a cage made of iron scrollwork rose before Lucifer. The soldiers restraining him forced Lucifer to his feet and began herding him into the cage. Shrugging their hands from his arms, the soldier broke free from their grasp. Bowing sarcastically to the king, he turned and without looking back he stepped into the cage and stood facing away from the king and the assembled subjects.
Those assembled watched in stunned silence as the cage slowly disappeared through floor, the clouds surrounding the descending object had turned a vivid black and were interlaced with bright flashes of flame before closing over the spot where Lucifer had stood just moments before. .
Next the king turned to him Bahar, his eyes kind and his voice gentle as his said sadly.
“It is not too late to change your mind my son. None here will feel you ill will if you do. We all know of Lucifer’s cunning and quick tongue.”
Gulping, Bahar stood his ground. His loyalty to his general was second only to his loyalty to his father. Feeling the pain of the king’s betrayal of Lucifer as well as his own, he would not waiver.
“Father, I have to have pledged to serve you and you alone. I will not change my allegiance.”
“Very well, my son,” the king said, his face drooping with sadness.
Again in that cold voice he stated, “Bahar, you have chosen to disobey my direct order. For this you will be banished to the Earth to until such time you see the error of your ways and you are ready to return to the fold.”
At that moment, he felt a wave of something that felt like electric heat flow through him, and suddenly he was falling, the dark clouds closing quickly overhead and blocking out his last view of his brother’s and sister’s horrified faces. Then he was falling; tumbling down through the heavens, plummeting toward Earth.
As he fell anger began to worm its way through his being. Anger at his father for being a vain, selfish old fool, anger toward his brothers and sisters for being cowards and not standing with them against the tyrant; but strongest of all, anger toward these new beings, these humans that had started all this trouble.
This anger, white hot and pulsing flowed through his body, tearing into his heart, leaving behind a twisted, thorny vine of hate and changing his skin from smooth beauty to dark, scaly and sharply barbed, darkening his wings to a vivid black to match the swirly sky above. His face stretched into a horned version of a leering grin, changing the beautiful celestial being into a twisted, dark and evil creature.
They would pay… oh yes they would pay!