Chapter 33 - Awakening Aiken
June 1,1645 (1 Week Later)
The Seas Near Virlinn
DragonFlame (The King’s Ship)
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
The wind was cold on my face and the view was breathtaking. I am soaring across the skies of Ilyia and because of the comfortable feeling, I know I’ve done this thousands of times before. I know my route by heart and I’ve memorized the vast, beautiful landscape.
I’m flying over the land to check that everything is in order. I make it a point to patrol the lands to keep it safe. Right now, everything looked fine except for the dark clouds and thunder at one part of the land. I instantly changed course and headed there.
As soon as I was near, strong winds almost blew me off the sky. I braced my entire body and directed it towards the center of the storm.
“I am more powerful!” a childish voice screamed.
“No I am.” Another childish voice, this time a boy, retorted.
Lightning crackled overhead and the winds howled. A hurricane stood in the middle of a field and on the middle of it was a little girl who wore silver robes. Her hair was neatly braided in her back and the harsh winds did not even mess it up.
Opposite her, beneath the lightning and the dark clouds was a little boy. He was of the same age as the girl and he wore blue robes. Both he and the girl had silver hair. Unlike the girl’s hair, the boy’s was messy and it stood on end because of the static electricity in the air.
“Give up, Kaori!” the boy shouted.
“Eat my winds, Raijin!” the girl replied. Then she proceeded to hurl the hurricane towards the boy who efficiently dodged it. But the girl was faster, like her winds. In the blink of an eye, she was beside the boy and they fell towards the ground, grappling with each other.
I swooped down and grabbed the boy by his collar. I reached down once more and held the girl by her collar too. I spread my arms wide so they would not touch one another. They glared at me and continued to reach for one another, hurling insults all the while.
“Stop it both of you!” I growled.
They both turned to look at me. The winds died down and the lightning and thunder ceased. Clouds started to scatter and the bright shine of the sun illuminated the clearing once more.
“You both have been at this for centuries now. And you both know that both of you are powerful. Equally powerful. Fighting about who is more powerful is a useless waste of energy. You are twins. You should be working together and not fighting with each other!” I reprimanded.
The boy and the girl bowed their heads. “Sorry, Aiken.”
“Look what you’ve done to the beautiful meadow and the trees. Queen Elune would not be pleased with both of you. It’s a good thing you are in Ilyia and not one of the other realms or King Rashad would have your heads,” I replied.
Kaori lifted her beautiful eyes to me and they were filled with tears. “We are sorry. We shall help with the replanting.” She promised.
“Yes. Please don’t punish us, Aiken.” The boy added.
I sighed. “If I ever catch you fighting each other once more, I shall tell Queen Elune what you did to her favourite place. And then King Rashad shall punish you severely.”
Their eyes widened and filled with tears. They both bowed their heads in shame once more. I placed them back on the ground and they stood rigidly.
“I hope the King does not punish us too severely. The word has spread that his daughter has been born yesterday. He must be so joyful that he wouldn’t punish us that much.” Raijin said.
“The princess has been born?” I asked.
“Yes. It is said that she looks so much like her mother but she was born with the King’s Fire.” Kaori remarked.
“It is good news then.” I said with a smile. The children still had their heads bowed and refused to meet my eyes. My heart went out to them.
“We’ll be going there later. The King will present his daughter to everyone. Are you going, Aiken?” Kaori asked.
I shook my head. “There’s a battle raging in Ivaris. Warriors from a distant land have travelled to invade the kingdom. They’ve burned villages and raped hundreds of women. The citizens of Ivaris are trapped within their walls and they are slowly dying of hunger. I do not like it when people do not fight fair. I will go there and fight for them.”
“Alright.” Raijin said, his head still bowed in shame. He then reached out and held his twin’s hand to wait for me to deliver their punishment.
I sighed. “How about we make a deal? You go with me when I go to the mortal realm and you help me. A severe storm with great winds will keep the invaders away. Perhaps if their entire fleet is destroyed, we can even visit town and grab some pastries?” I said with a smile.
The twins both looked up and there was hope shining in their eyes. “You would take us? And pastries?” Kaori asked hesitantly.
“Yes. It is your punishment. Do it well and perhaps there will be a reward. But be warned that you will have to follow my orders. Disobey me and I’ll tell the King.” I warned.
“We shall behave!” Raijin said, jumping up and down. Kaori flew into the air and swooped down in little circles. “We will give them the fiercest storm they have ever seen!” Kaori shouted.
I laughed. “No more fighting okay?”
“Promise!” the twins said at the same time.
“Let’s go then.” I said and held both their hands.
I was jolted awake when the ship suddenly lurched. I threw the blankets off me and then sat up and placed my head on my hands.
Another dream. Another dream where I am called Aiken. Another dream where I saw everything through his eyes. Another dream which felt like it was not a dream but a long-forgotten memory...
For the past few weeks, all my dreams were about this Aiken and about a land called Ilyia. Before, I used to have dreams like this only once in a blue moon. When I met Adrienne, they became more frequent. And now, it happened every single night... The dreams also came with some sort of warmth and tingling inside me. As if something inside me wanted to be released...
What did it mean?
I sighed and rubbed my face. Now I know who Kaori is. And she is a goddess. I must really be going crazy for thinking this but I swear that her winds really helped our ship. Am I really going insane or is there some truth underneath all this that is waiting to be uncovered?
If so, what is it?
And what is it that the goddess Lai is asking me to remember?
What should I remember?
All my life, I’ve felt that there was this huge gaping hole inside of me. Some days, it felt as if I forgot something very important. Other days, it felt something akin to loneliness...
This feeling was somewhat eased when I was in battle. The thrill of having my blood pump through my veins with anticipation of the exhilaration of battle. The feeling of having my sword, Conqueror, in my hand and using it like an extension of my limbs to slay my enemies.
But that feeling was obliterated when I’m with Adrienne... The loneliness was gone... But every time I look at her I feel as if I’ve known her for a really long time. Every time I look at her hazel eyes, I feel as if there’s something I’m supposed to do...
I lifted my head and threw the covers away from my sweat-drenched body. I grabbed my breeches and pulled them on. I also donned a clean tunic. I put on my boots and placed a dagger on the strap. I also put on my belt which held my sword and its scabbard and also an array of throwing daggers.
I glanced out of the small window and saw that the dawn has just broken. The sky was painted with colors of dark blue and streaks of orange. I always liked seeing when the sun rose in the sky. It gave me a sense of fulfilment.
I quickly went to the deck and saw that most of the sailors were still asleep on their hammocks. It was cold and the scent of the salty sea welcomed me. I walked over to the edge of the deck, near the ship’s mast.
And then I looked up.
I looked up and waited for the sun to rise.
The dark blue color was slowly chased away by the orange streaks. And then the orange was replaced by yellow. The yellow streaks took over the sky and soon enough, I saw the sun on the horizon.
It slowly rose from the vast ocean and scattered light all around us. I closed my eyes and savoured the wonder of watching the sun rise. I felt the first trace of warmth on my skin and it seemed to invigorate me. It chased away the sleep from my body and I felt as if I was being recharged.
A few moments more and ever cell inside of me seemed to be humming. This is a really strange sensation but it was a pleasurable one. I didn’t want it to stop. I almost didn’t want to open my eyes and just bask in the warmth of the sun forever.
Then, I felt some sort of relase inside me. It was as if a dam has been suddenly crushed. A flood or more warmth was released inside me. It consumed every inch of me and I could feel my whole body respond to it. The faint hum now turned into a buzz...
A buzz of power?
What is this? Why do I feel as if I’ve just suddenly tapped into an ocean of power? I heard whispers behind me but I did not heed it. I did not want the sensations to stop. I leaned forward and the sensations heightened. It was as if I could feel the power of the sun and that it pulsed inside my veins.
I breathed in deep and it was as if a swirl of memories suddenly flooded my brain. But the images came so fast that everything was almost a blur. I cannot grasp one single image to clearly see what it is.
My head started to throb slowly at the images that bombarded my mind. I lifted my hands and placed them near my temple. More images came and went and no matter how hard I tried to shut them out, I can’t. I doubled over in pain, still clutching my head.
It went on for a few minutes. And then voices were added to the mix. I did not recognize any of them and they flew by so fast that I could barely recognize the words. The voices added to my confusion and the insistent throbbing inside my head. No matter how hard I try to grasp a single image or a voice to catch a word, I could not...
I stopped myself from crying out from the pain, the confusion and the helplessness by pursing my lips. I tried to drown out the voices by covering my ears but nothing happened. They still came at me relentlessly
And then everything stopped. I was surprised by the quiet respite from the voices. The throbbing in my head stopped. The images were gone.
I was afraid to open my eyes for I did not know what I would see. What did all these mean? I feel as if a vast amount of knowledge has just been given to me... But I do not know what to do with it...
And then a single image floated to my mind...
It was Adrienne but not her... Some things were different. She smiled up at me just like how Adrienne smiled, the corner of her beautiful lips tilted up. But it was her eyes that were different. They were hazel but flecked with gold. Her skin also glowed in an ethereal way. Her brown hair was also flecked with gold and it drifted with the wind.
Somehow, I knew that this was not Adrienne but Selene...
A part of me was joyful at seeing her. It was as if my heart suddenly got lighter and all my troubles were blown away by the wind. She was so beautiful that I could gaze at her forever.
She lifted her hands as if reaching out towards me. Without thinking, I lifted my hand and reached for her. She smiled and the moment our fingers touched, a multitude of golden sparks were released. More and more of it were scattered until it was all I could see.
The view of Selene was drowned out by the golden sparks...
And then everything faded away and it was replaced by darkness.
I couldn’t see anything and it was as if the darkness has closed over my heart too. Suddenly, gut-wrenching pain filled me. I felt as if a part of me was torn away. Unbearable despair and longing filled me...
I stifled the sob that rose from my throat.
The darkness began to fade away and it felt as if a memory was resurfacing.
I could already tell that it was an unbearable memory because of the sudden heavy feeling inside of me. My hands felt warm and so did my cheeks. I realized that I was crying and my hands were coated with blood. But it wasn’t my blood...
My body felt very heavy. It was as if I’ve been bound for a long time. Parts of me also ached as though I’ve recently took a beating.
Right now, I was standing up and my hands felt heavy. I looked down and saw that I was cradling Selene’s broken body in my arms. More tears streamed down my face as I saw my beloved dead in my arms. This is the cause of the despair and the longing inside of me.
I tightened my grip on her as the tears flowed freely. Even in death, nothing looked more serene or more beautiful than her. I looked at every inch of her face and tried to memorize everything.
Suddenly, I am condemned to an eternity without her... I would take all memories of her with me. Even this last one...
“I will avenge you, Selene. I will avenge you and our child. I will set everything right.” I found my lips moving. The words came from me but they were not mine...
And then it hit me.
It was as if I was being forced to relive this certain vision. A vision which felt like a distant memory. Again, I was Aiken here and I was feeling everything he felt and doing everything he did.
I looked down once more and bent my head. I kissed her forehead one last time...
I felt someone enter the room but I did not mind. My entire focus was at gazing at Selene.
“What happened!” Argyll shouted, his voice filled with concern.
“Azrael is dead and so is Selene.” My lips moved again to say these words...
“I... I don’t know what to say, Aiken.” Argyll replied. I nodded. “Is the Golden Army with you?” I asked. Argyll shook his head.
“I came alone for I followed her. She was really fast though... But I’ve already sent word to the army and they are already headed here.” Argyll replied.
I felt myself move. I slipped past him and headed towards the door. Then I stopped for I saw Selene’s body start to glow and shimmer.
It was time.
The time I dreaded the most...
It was time for me to let her go for she will be going back to the Cosmos.
It was as if I was inflicted with a brutal wound during Selene’s death. And I was given a respite as I gazed at her. She looked so peaceful in death and I was still able to hold her on my arms for a time.
Now, seeing her body glowing to return her to the Cosmos, it was as if my wound was ripped open once more. All the agony at her death came back. It was so painful that I stopped breathing. The sound of my broken sobs filled the room.
Why? Why did it have to be like this? Why must we suffer? Why must she die? Why must it be her who sacrifices? Haven’t we both sacrificed enough? Is not our son enough?
I pulled her closer and it crossed my mind that I want to follow her. I could just fade away and all of this would stop. The pain would be gone and I will follow her to the Cosmos...
But, no... I have to be strong for her... I will avenge her death and I will restore Ilyia. I am a King and this is what I must do. And when everything is right, I shall follow her to the Cosmos...
“Goodbye, Selene... Wherever you are now, you have my heart with you. It will always be yours and no one else’s... Go with my love...” I whispered and then kissed her lips and her forehead in a gesture of farewell...
The last kiss I could ever give her...
I kept my eyes on her the whole time. Her body continued to glow and it got brighter and brighter. It reached a point where a blinding white light filled the room. I closed my eyes for I could not tolerate the brightness.
And when I opened my eyes again, Selene was gone. My hands were empty of her weight and my heart was nothing but pain.
“Aiken...” Argyll whispered.
“Leave!” I shouted. I cannot handle anything right now.
My queen, my wife, my whole world has been taken away from me.
Argyll placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. I welcomed the gesture of comfort for I was so deep in pain. Argyll’s hand was on my shoulder as I continued to cry and lament for my lost queen.
And then there was pain in my back...
I gasped in surprise and then shouted in pain as I felt the Silver Dagger of the Ten Gods of Justice embedded on my back. I crumpled to the ground as fire spread through my veins.
“You’re looking for the traitor, Aiken? Well here he is!” Argyll shouted with his arms extended to his sides.
“Why?” I croaked.
“Who doesn’t want to be king?” Argyll shrugged. “Well... I guess I have to thank you and Selene for making life easier for me. Thanks for killing Azrael... He really was one bloody fool.” Argyll said and then laughed.
“You think you’ve won?” I grunted.
“I do not think I’ve won. I know it.” Argyll said with a smirk.
“Well... You’re... wrong... You are King but you are King over nothing... How many gods and goddesses have already went back to the Cosmos? The Golden Army was never entrusted to you so you cannot control them... Ilyia is dying because of Azrael’s destruction... Ilyia is closed off because Selene is gone...” I slowly said the words.
The fire was quickly spreading from my back to every inch of me. I felt my powers weakening and I felt my essence scattering.
Argyll’s face turned to one of doubt and then incredulity and then disbelief. “You are lying!” he accused. “All of this isn’t true!” Argyll shouted.
“Enjoy... your time of being King... This isn’t the end... Mark my words, I... I will come back. I will avenge Selene and my child and all the others who faded away. I will come back and everything will be set to right. I will... take my rightful throne and my fury shall sweep its way across the land... You... mark my words Argyll... The next time we meet again... It shall be you who’s dying... This is my vow to Ilyia.” I wheezed.
It became harder and harder to talk but determination filled me. I am the King of Ilyia! My queen sacrificed herself for this land! I shall not allow it to be taken that easily by a traitor!
As determination filled me, it also seemed to revitalize my power. I reached deep within me and placed every drop of my power into my words. I gathered everything I’ve got and drew more from the sun. I channelled its heat and warmth into me and converted it into the energy I needed.
“Since when has anyone returned to the Cosmos and returned?” Argyll laughed and aimed a swift coward’s kick towards me. He wanted to rub it in that I am helpless. If this was a fair fight, he wouldn’t even have the opportunity to do that.
I grunted in pain but forced myself to continue. A lot of gods and mortals counted on me. I will not let them down...
I continued infusing the last of my power in my vow and hoped that it would be an acceptable sacrifice for the Cosmos...
A flash of fear crossed Argyll’s face. He might’ve felt my power and it made him doubtful. The fear was suddenly replaced by triumph when my power was drained completely. I was not able to hold my essence any longer and I felt my physical form flicker...
Selene... We shall be together again... Do not lose hope, my queen. We will find each other again...
It was my last thought before everything in me was drained and I wasn’t able to hold my physical form any longer. The sounds slowly drifted away and my vision was replaced with darkness...
And then there was nothing.
No more pain... No more sound... No more visions...
The darkness faded away and so did the heavy feeling inside me. The despair and the agony slowly faded away only to be replaced by the familiar warmth of the sun.
My eyes were still closed and I felt both the heat of the sun and the salty spray of the sea on my face. I inhaled and exhaled slowly to regain my thoughts.
Did this vision mean what I think it meant?
Is this the answer to all my questions?
Am I here because of Aiken’s vow that he will return?
Am I him? Is he me? Are we the same?
“Yes... You and me, we’re one and the same... You are Aiken, The God of the Sun. The God of Warriors. The King of Ilyia. And at the same time you are Seth, the King of Ivaris and Amaranth.” Aiken’s voice said inside my head.
It was as if his words unlocked more things inside me. The images and the voices were back but this time my head didn’t throb. There was no pain. This time, I was able to grasp all the images. And this time, I know that those images were centuries’ worth of memories.
It was as if things were playing out before my eyes as all my memories rushed through my mind. A set of memories stood out among the rest. It was as if all the rest were in shades of black and white but a set of vivid memories were in vibrant shades of color.
It was my memories of Selene.
The way we first met. Her smile. The way she laughed. How her hand felt in mine. Her stubborn antics. The way we flew over Ilyia. The way her body felt pressed against mine. The way her hands soothed away all my problems. The way her lips tasted. The day of our binding. Our wedding night where I took her under the stars...
Her sacrifice... Her death...
And my vow to find a way...
A rush of power surged through me again. And this time it was filled with more determination.
Now, I know who I am:
I am Aiken. The King of Ilyia. The King of the Gods. The God of Warriors. The God of the Sun. I am reborn as Seth Liam Ivaris XV, the King of Ivaris and Amaranth.
Now, I know my purpose:
To restore Ilyia. To banish evil. To restore the balance in the land. To avenge all the wrongs that has been done. To have another chance at life and love with my queen.
A huge surge of power went through me. Now, there is nothing holding me back. All my memories are here and I know who I am and what I must do. The locks inside me are all gone. My power is unleashed.
Slowly, I released my hold on the wooden railing of the deck.
Slowly, I turned around.
Slowly, I opened my eyes.
All the sailors were now fully awake and so were the soldiers, the crew. And all of them were on deck. All of them were staring at me, including my friend, Malcolm. Their jaws were open and they were staring at me with a mixture of shock, awe and reverence.
“Seth, y-you’re glowing!” Malcolm shouted.
I looked down at my body. No longer was I wearing my black tunic and my black breeches. I was wearing a robe made of gold. The golden robe of the King of Ilyia. My breeches were white blinding white this time. A belt was tied around my waist and daggers were tied around it. A scabbard made of pure gold also rested in my belt.
I know that it is not Conqueror that rested in the scabbard but the weapon of the God of Warriors: Destroyer.
I felt a searing pain in my arm. It felt as if a brand was etched into my skin. I lifted the sleeve of my robe and looked at my right arm. A tattoo was seared onto my skin.
It was the image of the sun with ten rays scattered around it. It was the tattoo I received when the former King Rashad handed over to me the command of his Golden Army. It symbolizes my command and control of the army. Now that it is back, it means I can summon them at will again...
But not yet... The army is still trapped within Ilyia. I would need Selene and her power to unlock everything. But like me, her powers would only come back if she remembers and accepts who she truly is...
I lowered my sleeve again and looked at my body.
Yes, my entire body was glowing. It glowed bright and fiery with power like the sun.
I lifted my head and stretched out my hands. A pulse of power went from me and circled the deck, revealing who I truly am...
Everyone in Ivaris knows of the Old Gods and everyone knows of Aiken, the God of Warriors for I am the patron of Ivaris.
Those with fear on their faces were now replaced with awe and recognition. I stood there and looked at them. And then one by one, they fell to their knees, starting with Malcolm.
They fell to their knees and bowed their heads in my honor.
“Rise, warriors.” I replied. They rose and kept on staring with reverence.
It was Malcolm who spoke first, “My King, we are near Virlinn.” I nodded to him. “Prepare everything.” I ordered.
My queen, I am here. We are both here. This is truly happening. Just a little more and we shall be together again. I have lost you once and I will never lose you again.
Somehow, the Cosmos granted us this second chance. We will fix everything. We will restore Ilyia’s splendour. And then we shall rise above our thrones once more and continue to have the life that was snatched away from us.
I remember everything now.
© All rights reserved for The King’s Slave. Ilyian mythology, the gods and goddesses, concepts and the language used here are all ORIGINAL and all MY OWN WORK. These are the products of my imagination and countless hours spent writing. Please do not copy/ reproduce in any way.