Small Voices and Grownup Glimpses
The limp body of a girl in early adolescence lay supported against the massive roots of a Terqrix tree in the Okruiks Botanical Garden behind the grand palace of Os’aen, home to West Zecor’s ruling family. Her form-fitting red dress and heavy makeup made her appear older than her true age. The glamorous red pumps that matched her dress had been kicked off as she ran.
The girl’s hair partially covered her distressed face. Spectral hands reached from the ground and gently caressed her shoulders, arms, and legs, subtly repositioning her to make her more comfortable as disembodied voices whispered into the night air.
“Nonzels strets mesa, Ondina. Elphean rihno. Mukves huz’e shomox.”
We love you, Ondina. Don’t give up. Help is coming.
Enchanting Embers and Soft Glowing Moonbeams
Princess Ondina Rvaga was far more mature than her mere dozen Fegan would suggest. She had a gentle, loving spirit like her late mother, Queen Tareth Rvaga of Mdim. Her hazel eyes were like enchanting embers and the people compared her face to the color of soft, glowing moonbeams. She was beloved by the people of West Zecor for her compassion and her empathic and healing abilities. Because she loved the people as they loved her, Ondina had agreed to wed her half-brother Prince Qweh following the blooming of the first flower of womanhood.
Ondina and Qweh’s shared parent was their father, King Giraq Pasaw. Qweh’s mother had been Giraq’s half-sister Nephyr. The tyrannical Giraq found the fair-minded Nephyr a contrary, sharp-tongued nuisance with an annoying habit of sabotaging his plans for conquest. On the midnight following Qweh’s tenth Fegan, Giraq silenced Nephyr once and for all, sacrificing her to Qux’ods and Grul, respectively the gods of triumph and war.
Finding himself without a queen to bear a potential heiress for his son to wed, Giraq stormed the neutral northern territories. Tareth agreed to marry Giraq in return for the safety of Mdim.
Qweh had achieved twelve Fegan when Ondina was born. Initially, he was a caring and protective brother, and he treated his stepmother with respect and even kindness.
Tareth did not care for the long-standing tradition of marriage between siblings in West Zecor’s royal family and hoped that by the time Ondina came of age, she would be able to convince Qweh to insist on taking a bride outside the family.
Tareth argued that it was more sensible to create unions between Os’aen and other monarchies than to continue the insular tradition of consanguinity. She realized that hers was a difficult position. The people of Os’aen were certain that the wedding of Qweh and Ondina was ordained by the deities.
Giraq and Tareth were both members of the Welryv race and, as such, were fair-complexioned. Nephyr’s mother Saeril was a princess from one of the Wxzca clans. When Giraq’s father Bhenkors took her for a wife, the citizens of Os’aen celebrated, for Saeril was benevolent and giving. They praised their new queen’s gentle spirit and celebrated her beauty.
Eetud arkiels Serab huz’e cunger strets’en acral Quukvens Saeril.
Se crax’eox Os’aen ghins bhamut zeslan arni.
Black as a night without stars is our beloved Queen Saeril.
She will lead Os’aen to a new age of enlightenment.
The people of Os’aen saw the birth of the dusky Princess Nephyr as good fortune. They believed that a union between her and her haughty half-brother Giraq would temper his cruel streak. Life had been better in Os’aen since Saeril became queen. The nation had even achieved a precarious peace with its longtime Eastern enemy, Nogri.
“Queens in Os’aen don’t live to see the autumn of their lives,” Ondina murmured.
Turbulent Tensions and Stinging Images
Ondina reflected on the events that had caused her to flee the party celebrating her first flowering of womanhood. The red dress she wore was a gift from her maid Feppla and her advisor, Xegran. It was crafted from rare Thaennex, donated by the royal tailor Efhka. The trio worked together to create the perfect gown for their precious princess.
In the days leading up to the celebration of her Flowering, Princess Ondina told herself that she was blessed. Her monthly cycle began for the first time on the fifth day following her achievement of twelve Fegan. She noticed a bloom of blood on her undergarments as she dressed for bed.
Ondina told herself that Verfeja, the Heavenly Queen who presided over love and motherhood, had blessed her. It was time for her to marry Prince Qweh and become the mother of the next monarch of the West.
Ondina felt only filial love for her brother, but she hoped that she could convince him to rule Os’aen in a fair and just fashion. She suppressed the sick feeling that rose whenever she thought of breeding with Qweh.
Ondina could not have asked for a finer celebration. She was happier than she had been since the death of her mother during the year of her ninth Fegan. Tareth was found by Xegran on the altar of sacrifice to Qux’ods in the Driddor Forest.
Qhekux, the High Priest of the Temple of Qux’ods, was accused of Tareth’s murder as he had been seen having a heated discussion with her six days prior. An Eq’ix, a two-pronged sacrificial knife belonging to Qhekux, had been driven through the Queen’s throat and heart.
Ignoring Xegran’s pleas, Qweh hurried Ondina to the scene, hoping that his sister’s healing abilities would be strong enough to revive his stepmother. Sadly, Tareth’s body was already growing cold. Ondina wailed like a wounded animal and fell into a faint, her mother’s blood staining her night-dress as she tried in vain to return the dead Queen to life.
Qweh scooped Ondina up in his arms and hurried her back to the palace. It was the first and last time the people of Os’aen ever saw the cold-hearted prince weep. The only two people that he cared for were his stepmother and his little sister, and now his stepmother was gone.
Following Tareth’s murder, Ondina and Qweh grew even closer. When Qweh felt that Ondina was strong enough, he began inflicting injuries on animals, commanding Ondina to heal the wounded creatures.
“I am sorry to distress you, Little Sister, but you must hone your skills,” Qweh insisted. “You are an even more powerful healer than your mother was. You are a gift to our people, and I am honored to be your brother and future consort.”
“Promise me that we will always be best friends, Qweh,” Ondina begged.
“I promise you and Tareth that I will always treasure and care for you,” Qweh replied.
Twisted Tales and Surprise Endings
Ondina went to her brother’s bedchamber, feeling that it would be wise to discuss what their father and the people of Os’aen expected of them. When she opened the door, she was greeted by the horrific sight of her brother tearing a newborn infant from the arms of Feppla, the maid who helped sew her dress for her Flowering celebration.
"Now that I am to marry Ondina, we can't have bastards who may attempt one day to excise control of the monarchy from its rightful rulers," Qweh smirked.
Ondina watched in horror as her brother thrust a small trident-shaped weapon called a Yonzt through the infant’s body.
"Your blood runs yellow!" Feppla shrieked, throwing herself towards the vicious prince, tearing at his face with the rage of a bereaved mother confronting her child's killer.
"Then join your whelp in death, Whore!" Qweh snarled.
Ondina stood paralyzed with fear as Qweh took up a machete and beheaded Feppla.
“Iä Nyarlathotep!” Qweh bellowed. “With the blood of this worthless servant and her whelp, I command thee! Show thyself and do my bidding!”
The horrified princess backed out of the room, quietly pulling the door closed.
"I will not be the consort of a killer!" Ondina declared in a quavering whisper. "I must render myself sterile."
Ondina slipped unseen through the kitchen and onto the palace grounds. She kicked aside her uncomfortable high-heeled shoes and raced barefoot across the thick, soft grass and into the botanical garden. She tripped over the protruding root of the Terqrix tree and lay sobbing on the ground beside the mighty giant.
Ondina pressed her hands to her abdomen. A bright yellow light flowed from her fingertips. She gave a low moan as the light turned red, then black. Her uterus felt as if it were being burned from within as she reversed her innate healing energies to destroy rather than repair the tissue.
"No one but I can reverse the damage done here, and I will never agree to do so," Ondina gasped. "One day I will bring justice to Zecor, but I will never run the risk of giving birth to a new ruler as cruel or crueler than Qweh. No successor shall be born to my wicked brother through me. My womb is now as barren as a volcanic crater where nothing can grow. I thank Xyfoy, Goddess of Fate, for revealing the truth.”
Ondina gazed up at the sky.
“I am ever in your debt, Night Mother. Reveal to me the payment you desire. I know you always reward your faithful servants most richly."
Moon Scraped Knuckles and Knocking Knees
“I’ve found the Princess, Master Adviser. She’s over here by the roots of the Terqrix tree.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Oh, Ondina, my girl, you’ll catch your death in this night air!”
“I only wish,” Ondina sighed as the tall, willowy, androgynous advisor knelt beside her, helping her to a seated position. “But here I am with my moon-scraped knuckles and knocking knees.”
“Let’s go to your chambers and discuss things,” the advisor suggested. “You can change into your night attire and I’ll bring you a warm cup of Vilqueons tea.”
“These raucous festivities are a bit much for a young lady with a quiet and studious temperament,” the guard lieutenant suggested as he helped Ondina to her feet. “I only wish that you had asked me to accompany you, your Majesty. It isn’t safe to be out on the grounds alone.”
“I can ignore drunken celebrations well enough, Qeddi Lii,” Ondina countered. “If it were only the boisterousness of this ridiculous party troubling me, I would simply have requested that you or Xegran or one of my other friends join me in the library for a game of Qucceds. Are you aware of the cruelty that my damned brother has inflicted on poor Feppla and upon his own flesh and blood? Do you know that he committed infanticide in my name? Would that I had possessed the strength and sense to run the madman through with a sword! Well, I have had my revenge nonetheless, as he will soon discover.”
The Lieutenant knelt before Ondina. He took her hands and gazed into her eyes.
“My princess, I could be executed for treason for what I am about to say.”
“Then say not the words aloud. I know what is in your heart. There are spies all around.”
“Then I will say only that my fidelity is always to thee. Your goodness will not go unrewarded. There are many who love you and who will put their lives on the line for you.”
“I echo Qeddi Lii’s sentiments, my princess,” Xegran added.
“You were my very first friend, Xegran,” Ondina praised. “Your hands were the first to hold me. I have known the warmth of your heart since first I arrived in this accursed world. I love both of you with all my soul, and I appreciate your support. I will need it in the days to come. Soon my father and brother will learn of the action that I have taken, and they will not be pleased.”
When the trio entered the palace, Prince Qweh and King Giraq were waiting for them.
“My beloved sister, thank Threnkraks that you are safe!” Qweh gushed, reaching his massive hands towards Ondina, who pulled away from him, an expression of disgust on her face.
“Do not lay a hand on me, Qweh,” the princess snarled. “Do not ever touch me again! I know what you did and what you are. I will never be the consort of a monster! In case the idea of forcing me to bear your spawn crosses your evil mind, know that I have rendered myself sterile.”
With that, the Princess stormed up the stairs to her chambers.
Sinking Sands and Rain-Soaked Reeds
“What do you suppose she means by rendered herself sterile?” Giraq demanded.
“She must have reversed the healing energies and scarred her womb,” Qweh replied. “Let’s give her a few days to think things over. She’ll come around for the good of Os’aen.”
“I quite doubt it.”
These words were spoken by a tall, slender, swarthy man with long black hair tied back in a ponytail. He was clad in a striking blue silk suit and shiny black shoes. By his side stood a crone in robes depicting swirling galaxies. The man was dwarfed by the gigantic prince and his even larger father. However, the expressions on the faces of the prince and the king indicated that they were in awe of the stately fellow with the placid expression and piercing black eyes.
“What makes you say so, my Lord Nyarlathotep?” King Giraq inquired.
“Do you know nothing of your own daughter?” the man demanded. “The princess is clearly a sensitive and highly principled young lady. Her actions are no hyperbolic teenage temper tantrum. I would suggest that you carefully consider your next move.”
“Do not forget who summoned you here, Outer God,” Prince Qweh warned, placing a mighty hand on the smaller man’s shoulder.
Nyarlathotep’s eyes flashed as he shoved Qweh’s hand away.
“The pair of you summoned me, Your Majesty, but never forget that my daughter and I came here of our own volition and we are not yours to command. As you surely must know, this is not my true appearance. Do you wish to provoke the Son of Azathoth? Touch me again and I will reveal one of my far less pleasant faces.”
“Stand down, Qweh,” Giraq admonished. “We did not call upon the Cosmic Trickster to have him destroy us. I apologize for my son’s brashness, my Lord. His blood runs hot. Boy, I would strip your title from you, but I have no appropriate heir to give it to. I will never deign to make your defiant stripling of a sister queen, and I have no other offspring. Why did you see fit to murder the chambermaid and her child? Have you no semblance of self-control?”
“I hardly see where you have room to speak, Father Dear,” the prince retorted coldly. “You murdered both my mother and Tareth.”
“My kingdom stands on sinking sands and rain-soaked reeds,” Giraq lamented. “You have been summoned on behalf of Os’aen, my Lord. I ask your pardon for my insolence. My son and I promise to obey you and your daughter in exchange for your assistance in bolstering the crumbling integrity of our realm.”
“Very well, but you need to understand that Yadira and I work for the good of Os’aen and Zecor. We are in no way your servants. You also need to recognize the virtue of patience.”
“My Lord Nyarlathotep, I understand now that you and your daughter are not our servants,” Qweh demurred, giving a low bow. “However, I have a humble request. With your mighty sorcery, could you not spirit us back in time to the moment before I made the fateful decision to slay the servant and her offspring?”
“An amusing request, your Majesty,” Nyarlathotep chuckled. “I will take it under consideration. Certainly, I could create a wormhole and saunter off, meandering until I reached the absolute correct moment to stay your hand from an act that a bright boy like you should have known better than to commit in the first place. I could return moments later having fixed your folly and all would be well, or the Kingdom of Os’aen could rise and fall in the time it took me to return.
“You see, Prince Qweh, time is not linear, and there are an infinite number of elements at play in any given moment. I would need to analyze the situation down to its most infinitesimally minuscule components in order to avoid disrupting the entire space-time continuum. As you might well imagine, this could take a while.
“I have all the time in the Universe, of course, being immortal. Ah, but you, Sir, are not immortal. I might suggest that I could better serve you by allowing you to correct your own mistake. Oh, but a murdered mother and slain infant are not mistakes that are easily corrected, are they? I might suggest atoning for the error of your ways. You and your sister could still work together to make Os’aen a pleasant place to live.
“If you do as I suggest, Ondina might come to trust you again. However, you must resign yourself to the fact that she will never agree to marry you. I hope that you will consider my advice.”
“The people of Os’aen require a show of solidarity,” Qweh barked. “Ondina will obey her father and elder brother, or she will pay the consequences.”
Nyarlathotep is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his 1920 story of the same name.
Putting My Feet in the Dirt
Set your story at a party that has gone horribly wrong.