Perfidy: Two

Serial Story, writing

Dead? Mocha clicked his pen on and off, on and off on his desk. Well, this certainly was an interesting development. 

As the words lingered in the air, the room exploded into gasps. Someone wailed. While Mocha wasn’t all that attached to the king– a head of state who did nothing seemed utterly pointless– he couldn’t deny that the world as he knew it was about to crumble. He yawned and leaned back into his chair. Jael was a few rows in front of him, no longer the epitome of calm and collected. Instead, her phone was blindingly bright on her desk and she scribbled furiously on a notepad, glancing between the paper and her phone. 

Mocha flicked his fingers and a red streak of magic shot forward, knocking Jael’s phone off the table. She took a moment to notice, but soon her eyes flicked back to where the screen didn’t exist. She glanced over her shoulder, shooting Mocha a glare, before snatching her phone from the floor. He smirked. She let too much bother her, as most nors did. For all her abilities, she simply didn’t have the right experience to try to run a mostly-magical country. Her ideas for a more democratic government wouldn’t be taken seriously. 

His smirk slid off his face, though, when she was the first to stand. Mocha’s knuckles turned white as he gripped the table. What did she think she was doing? The suppressed rage manifested into burning telekinesis in his fingers. He struggled to confine it as it sparked around his palms and Jael made her way onstage. 

She reached down and helped Aisa to her feet before returning her focus to the shell-shocked messenger and removing the microphone from his frozen fingers. She smoothed down her skirt with one hand before gazing out at the assembly. “Lords and ladies of the assembly, now is not the time to discuss matters such as norism and immigration. The king instructed us to form a more efficient union after his passing, and it seems that time has come. There will be time to mourn soon, but let us recess as an assembly and reconvene tonight. Then we can begin to make decisions regarding our country’s future. May Rowhux thrive under the lit moon.”

The crowd echoed her final sentence– the parting blessing Rowhuxians had used for years. Mocha’s eyebrows brushed his low-hanging bangs. He thought he’d be six-feet-under before Jael would ever admit that norism wasn’t the most pressing issue. A murmur arose as the assembly stood. Mocha glanced around. So they wouldn’t listen to him about how ridiculous the traditions regarding exits were unless it was an “emergency”? He rolled his eyes and snatched his backpack from the floor, slinging it over his shoulder and earning odd looks from some of the older lords around him. Mocha barely resisted rolling his eyes. Why were backpacks so stigmatized? Briefcases were harder to carry and held less. 

He shoved into the crowd, weaving in and out of the nearly-two-hundred people all trying to exit the room. One of the ladies his backpack knocked let out a loud, dramatic gasp. Mocha sped up and ducked his head. The last thing he needed was trouble from one of the ladies. Jael would know her name. Jael knew everyone’s name. He frowned at the thought. She actually had a fighting chance to implement her plans in the assembly. 

“Oi, Mocha!” A gruff voice sounded from behind him. 

He spun around to see Nadia. Her dark skin glistened with sweat, and the heels that she wore added extra height to her already lanky form. “What do you need?”

“Come ‘ere.” 

She turned a corner and slipped into a small restaurant– one of the three food courts in the building— promptly sitting down at a table. Mocha slid into the seat across from her. Nadia leaned forward, resting her head in her hands. “I was late to the assembly and then when I finally got to the room, everyone was leaving. So what’s up?”

He frowned at her loudness. “The king is dead.” 

“Dead?” Her eyes widened in alarm. “What’s going to happen to the government?”

He leaned back in his chair. The question of the hour. “I’m not sure.” 

“And what will that mean for your estate?”

Hm. He hadn’t thought that far forward. “I have a plan.” 

“Including ridding Rowhux of nors?” She raised an eyebrow, a smirk playing on her lips. 

Mocha suppressed a sigh. It wasn’t like Nadia’s powers advanced society all that much in themselves. Turning into a bloodthirsty polar bear rarely made anyone happy with her. Yet somehow she still considered herself one of the highest magic users around, and somehow had gotten a lot of the assembly to agree with her. “Perhaps.”

The smirk grew into a full-fledged grin. “That will be wonderful. Can you imagine how much stronger we’d be as a country if no one had nor blood?”

He had to admit, the thought had crossed his mind more than once. The one thing he could never quite figure out was how Nadia managed to say this stuff in private, yet profess to be one of Jael’s closest friends. At least he didn’t like the nor among them. “Yes, Nads. I can.” 

“Anyways. See you tonight at the Path’s.” 

Oh, yes. Mocha’s frown deepened. He’d been dreading it all week– having to watch everyone do Jael’s bidding at the get-together for their group of interns. He normally avoided the parties and made excuses regarding working on his estate, but had finally promised Nadia he’d come under the circumstance that vanilla cupcakes were provided. She had sworn it would be so. 

“Anyways, I need to head out if we don’t have anything else to do but argue today. And you probably gotta go talk to Council Rivera, right?”

‘Nish. He’d forgotten about that. Rivera would have a plan for the meeting tonight. “Yeah, thanks. Bye.” 

“See you tonight.” 

“Yup.”

Nadia scooted her chair out, stood, and left the restaurant as quickly as she had entered. Mocha put his head in his hands. What were they going to do now that the king was dead? Some had recommended a democracy, but that would allow the nors to take positions of power too easily. Perhaps a monarchy would work well. Sit a magic user on the throne and their line would have power for the rest of eternity. 

What about him? He would lead well. He could keep the nors in line.

Except people would argue against it, because a monarchy was what the king had said to avoid. 

Mocha glanced up as someone slid into the seat opposite him. He recognized her face from somewhere, but didn’t know her name. Her large blue eyes were wide in desperation, and there was a tiny, strange looking hat balanced on an artful tower of hair. There was a strange symbol on the pin of her lapel. 

“You dislike nors.” It was less of a question and more of a statement directed towards him. 

He wasn’t sure how to respond. Some of the assembly thought that dislike of nors immediately made one untrustworthy. “Why do you ask?”

“I’ve heard you say it. You’re going to take over, right?” 

He shifted in his seat. Could she read his thoughts? 

“I’m not a telepath.”

He was beginning to doubt that. 

“I promise.”

“Okayyyy…” 

“My sister is a nor. Please spare her when you take over.”

He grimaced. To have one nor sibling was almost as bad as being a nor oneself. He should know. “I’m not planning on exterminating them.”

“Oh.” She stared at her folded hands. “Just promise you won’t hurt her.”

Define hurt. “I promise.”

“Thank you.” She stood. Her skirt flowed around her as she strode out of the room.

Perfidy: One

short story, writing

Aisa had to admit, the government could be really confusing and frustrating. She sighed and skimmed over her papers one more time. At first, she had thought it was just Senator Swarhos who would change the subject matter of her speeches, but after being transferred, Senator Brell did the same thing. 

She drummed her fingers on the table and flipped to the next page. While norism– discrimination against nonmagical humans– was technically illegal, it still was very present in Rowhux, and according to Senator Brell, the MOST IMPORTANT THING SHE MUST PREPARE A SPEECH ON. 

That is, after she had already prepared a speech on how taxation affected the Rowhuxian impoverished, and before that, a speech on why large-scale magic ought to be banned. She sighed and glanced at the desk beside hers. Edison had his feet propped up on the desk, papers strewn everywhere. A small blue fish swam–or more precisely, floated–in circles around his blond head, and that fish seemed to be the only object of his attention. 

How he managed to get into the internship program, she didn’t know. It either took brainpower, a parent’s influential power, or, even rarer, incredibly strong magical powers, normally. She had a little bit of all three. Edison, from what she’d gathered, came from Authnoma, a shabby mountain town known for its inbreeding. His speeches were decent but overridden with the accent that made all his words slow and his vowels sound like “ay.” And the only magic power she could detect was the live fish that perpetually swam in circles around his head. 

She sighed again and rolled her eyes, but apparently, this second sigh was enough to deem her worthy of attention. 

Edison tore his eyes away from his fish, which also turned to look at her. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” She nodded towards the pile of papers. “Just tired of working on this.” 

“What’s it on?” He ran a hand through his hair, narrowly avoiding smacking the fish. 

She tugged on a strand of thick, dark hair. “Norism and implementing it into the workplace.” 

“I’ve never seen why it’s such a big deal.” His white collared shirt was wrinkled. Very wrinkled. Didn’t he own an iron? “Like, sure, I have magic, but it’s only that Saph swims around my head all the time. I can’t do anything else, and I still get jobs.” 

Aisa let a tendril of her own magic snake around her fingers. She stared at the sparkly darkness. It wasn’t like her own magic was very useful in getting her jobs, but still, someone with controlled death was less discriminated against than even someone who couldn’t kill people with a wave of her hands. 

After a moment she shrugged. “Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.”

“It’s kinda hard to see why it’s a big deal.” His eyes followed the fish again. “Less than half of the population is without some form of magic.” 

“I don’t know.” Aisa shook her head. “It feels confusing and messed up. Sure, nors ought to have the same rights as us, but sometimes they can’t perform jobs as well.” 

“Jael’s a nor, and she basically runs the whole government.” 

Aisa said a quick prayer for patience. Edison would just keep playing devil’s advocate until she admitted whatever side he happened to be on at that very moment was right. She checked her watch. “Speaking of Jael, I’ll have to avoid her at the party tonight if I don’t get my butt over to the hall.” 

Edison saluted. “We wouldn’t want that. See you tonight, then, I guess.” 

Aisa stood and waved slightly before gathering up the pile of papers and leaving the small office that she, Edison, and Senator Brell practically called home. She kept her head low as people pushed into her in the overcrowded hallway. She had proposed that she write a suggestion to expand the offices, but Brell quickly informed her that there were more pressing matters at stake. At least Jael would be happy that norism was being addressed. 

The room hummed with hushed voices when Aisa entered. She slid into the nearest seat and stacked the papers in front of her. Her eyes darted across the room. She spotted Jael’s light-brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, but she couldn’t see the young woman’s face. It looked like her friend was talking to one of the high council members– a group of three nearly-retired officials who were only employed in times of crisis. 

Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She really needed to present this speech correctly it If she didn’t, she would be sent home to continue as a rich lady whose only purpose was marriage. The general commissioner tapped the microphone in front of his podium. It only took him a moment to address all of the pressing issues within the assembly, before he gestured to her. Nerves churned in her stomach as she stood up. Eyes bored through her black dress and into her soul. She pushed a strand of hair from her face before climbing the narrow steps to the stage. 

Her ankle twisted, the high heels slipping out from under her. She was sprawled on the stairs. The papers in her hand exploded across the room. Someone behind her gasped. ‘Nish. Why did something like this have to happen to her under such circumstances? Heat burned her cheeks as she forced herself to her feet, leaving the high-heels behind her. With each passing step, her ankle ached worse. Tears whetted her eyes, but she tried to blink them away. After a few more limping strides, she reached the podium. She leaned against it, the cool metal chilling her fingers. Resolve balled in her stomach, freezing the butterflies with its weight. She’d practiced this speech a dozen times. She put her mouth to the microphone. 

“Lords and ladies of the assembly, we have a present crisis that plagues many of the lower class–“

A door slammed open. A nervous noise bubbled through the room. Aisa paused her speech to watch a rumpled messanger sprint up the aisle. Terror pounded through her veins as he lept two-by-two up the stairs. He reached the microphone and grabbed it with both hands. She stumbled aside. This could mean only one thing. 

“The king is dead.”

The House That Didn’t End: Aesthetics

Characters

For clarification:

Jackson is the handsome dark-haired boy. I simply couldn’t find any pictures that looked like him and included glasses.

Ly is the light-haired, innocent looking girl.

Hecate (Jackson’s cousin) is the dark-haired girl/woman. (She’s about 25, but her kind is ageless looking and practically immortal.)