Author: Ibteahal Jneidi
As the last of the invited guests entered the palace, the guards at the gate prepared to close them. I placed my sword back in its sheath, took my cloak and fully covered myself. I then jumped off the 55-foot-long gates and smoothly landed in front of the gate. One of the guards noticed me and alerted the rest.
“Who is there?” one of them asked. He seemed to be the one in charge. He carried himself with pride, but with caution. Still…
“If you’re one of those filthy villagers again, I suggest you walk away and save yourself the trouble.”
If I remember correctly, at the time there were two guards on his left that looked at him with disgust when he said that. Regardless, fast forward a couple of years, I convinced the king to give those two a higher rank and a raise.
Back to the moment, I had the sudden urge to strangle him, but the Empress grabbed hold of my hand. Her cold touch helped me calm down. It took every nerve and cell within my body not to insult him or throw a right hook at him.
I looked up at the arrogant scumbag. The minute he saw my blue eyes he took a step back in fear.
His reaction was a nice compensation.
The rest of the soldiers stood up straight, put their right hands over their chests, with the left behind their backs and slightly bowed their heads in respect. The scumbag soldier followed their actions.
In a very firm tone I said, “In the name of the Almighty, let me through.”
Immediately, they made way for me to go through with the Empress still holding my hand. I felt bad for the women. She is always having to deal with my temperamental outbursts.
As I was making my way to the entrance of the castle, I noticed flashes of white and black.
“It seems Captain Grace is giving them quite a run for their money.” Said the empress.
I chuckled then made my way through to the ball. All the guards greeted me on the way. Before I entered the ballroom, I tried to dust myself and look more presentable. When I looked to the empress for any opinions, all she did was disappear. Thanks for nothing! I thought to myself.
When I first walked into the ball, the smell of different perfumes and food were the first thing I noticed. The food smelled delightful; the perfume, some of it was okay, while others…
It was a big room that was adorned with crystal decorations that looked like raindrops and dew that were all over the ceiling. In the center, there was a gorgeous crystal chandelier that had a hint of gold mixed with the glass. It was soothing for the eye to see. On my left, the tables were filled with food all over like roasted mashed potatoes and gravy, fancy salads I never knew existed, soup, steamed vegetables and a lot of side dishes like pickles, olives and the like. On another table there was juice, water, sweets like cake and pudding, and many delicious delectables. Everyone in the hall was dancing while the musicians were trying to keep up with the demand of the people.
As I walked forward, everyone became wary. Considering the way I was dressed, I wasn’t surprised at their being appalled by my appearance. I was still in my somewhat tattered, long black cloak, the one that the empress told me to change out of. However, being the hot head that I was, I decided to stay in it to make a statement.
In front of me was the king of Valor sitting on his throne. He seemed to be deep in thought, but when the music stopped, he looked at the musicians wondering what happened and followed their gaze. When he saw me, he stood up immediately and slightly bowed his head out of respect. The rest followed his example. He had bright green eyes, light chocolate skin, shoulder length hair, dark brown dreadlocks that were tied back and a messy beard. Heavens! It does not look like he has shaved for days.
Looking back, I realize how much I schemed against those that did things I did not like. I was planning to give grief to everyone at the ball, crash a party, and see some disappointed facial expressions, but King Malaki looked exhausted. Dear me, that was the first time I had ever seen such an occurrence. He was only twenty-seven years old, and yet he looked to be forty. I realized how heavy the burden of those that wear the crown is.
He looked at one of his guards and gave a signal to go do something.
“Madam Hyacinth,” His tone was deep and loud and it echoed throughout the room. Although he was tired, he was still able to speak in a humorous tone. I admire that.
I looked at his eyes and signaled him that it is an urgent matter. He nodded in understanding.
“I am so glad you could make it,” he said as he walked towards me.
“If I knew you had arrived, I would have given you a most befitting welcome. However, I had to handle some important matters.” He winked at a group of girls on my right. They giggled.
[Ugh! You take over.]
[Hello! I am another narrator that is here to take Madam Hyacinth’s place. She never liked flirty moments like this, mainly because the king is her son and seeing his grown side makes her feel… conflicted as a parent.]
[Shut up! You just gave away spoilers.]
[I thought you wanted me to explain how you felt.]
[Yes, but without giving spoilers.]
[Well, too bad. The readers already know. Can I finish explaining this part or not?]
[Fine. (*Walks away angry.*)]
[Dear readers, I apologize for the madam’s temperament. As you can see it has not changed, even though she is ninety (*dodges a flying object*) five years old now, she still behaves like a child. Anyway, back to the story. 😊]
There was a faint sound of glass shattering somewhere in the castle. The king wanted to ease his way out quickly without alerting the others, so he flashed his smile.
“I am sorry, but I cannot enjoy this evening with you all. I have some military matters to attend to. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.”
The crowd swayed with disapproval, but he ignored it. He quickly urged Madam Hyacinth out of the ballroom and down the hall to the right.
“What was that sound?” asked the madam. He looked worried.
“I think something is wrong with Eva. She hasn’t been feeling well for the past 2 months. Sometimes, she would wake up in the middle of the night with fear in her eyes.”
“I am not sure. I finally convinced her to see a doctor though. The party is a decoy to avoid rumors from spreading.” He was worried and had a twinge of fear in his voice.
“Are the ministers putting you in a corner again?”
“Not only that, but the king of our neighboring kingdom is trying to expose me and is trying to find ways to dethrone me. It’s been hard avoiding him.”
They reached the top of the stairs.
The madam chuckled.
“Being a leader is not easy, but you can pull through.” King Malaki smiled.
“Thanks. What worries me the most is…” The sound of glass breaking again, broke the conversation short.
They rushed and quickly entered the 2nd room on the right. The first thing madam noticed was the smell of medicine and scented candles everywhere in the room. She looked at queen Eva who sat in a corner with a look of horror on her face.
[I think you should explain this part madam. I still get nightmares from this horrible memory.]
When I followed her gaze, I understood why she was afraid. I did not alert the others and signaled for one of my ghost generals to take care of it.
King Malaki went to comfort her. “Darling what’s wrong?” He was deeply concerned.
She turned her face. One would think she is looking at his face, but she was not all there. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my head say schizophrenia.
Her voice again. I was confused, I still do not know how to communicate with this girl, so I tried to talk back telepathically.
What do you mean? What is that? There was silence. I waited a bit more then…
Schizophrenia is a mental health problem she said. People that have this issue cannot tell fantasy from reality.
It made sense! No one else in the room could see this devious shadow but her. The only reason I can see it is because of my powers. I looked at Eva. She was frightened. When she looked back at the corner, she still had the look of horror on her. I followed her gaze again, but I did not see a shadow. What I saw was my ghost general being pinned down.
Those shadow creatures are getting stronger, said the girl. They will become more difficult to detect because of the growing strength of their leader.
I was confused, but the storm I was fearing had begun.
What do I do to see it again?
Use your eyesight. They don’t just have the ability to change color based on your emotions, but they can also detect creatures and demons that try to stay invisible. Perspective is important.
Queen Eva began to thrash around violently. She picked up anything within reach and threw it in the corner. The king, his two servants, and the doctor were trying to help her calm down but to no avail.
Focus your attention! You need to see that monster if you want to defeat it, said the woman urgently.
How do I focus on a creature I know nothing about?
Ignore that! DOn’t focus on what you don’t know. Use what you do know. Find the menacing energy in the room. Don’t let your frustrations control you. That is what it feeds on. I don’t know much about these abilities of yours, but I know that you were able to gain them because you have a strong will to live, to protect, to uphold justice where it needs to be upheld. That is why you were gifted with these abilities. It is because of your strong mindset. Use it.
I understood my abilities a little bit more now. What she said made sense. My abilities were not handed on a silver platter, they were earned. The difficult part is that there is a lot I didn’t know about my abilities yet.
I tried to focus my energy to find that shadow, but I felt lightheaded. I realized my wound had opened up again. Damn it! I thought to myself. I was running out of time.
Suddenly captain Grace and Lady Heath crashed through the window. Everyone was startled. Except for King Malaki and me, no one else could see the ghosts in the room
“Madam, I can’t kill these creatures. They will not die, and they keep regrouping in front of the window to this room,” said captain Grace looking exhausted.
I froze in that moment because so many things were happening all at once, and I felt so overwhelmed that I did not know what to do. How should I fight what I could not see and still manage to keep everyone safe?
Madam Hyacinth I know this is crazy, but you need to take a deep breath and analyze your surroundings. There is only one shadow in that room, and he is using illusions to fool you. Find him! Said the girl.
Although I felt overwhelmed, and was getting slightly annoyed at being bossed around, I took a deep breath. I tried to focus. As I did, time stopped.
Everyone’s motions were frozen. The shatters of glass falling from the window were stagnant in the air.
Good! Now scan your surroundings in the room.
I looked around the room. I did not see any shadows.
There, in the corner, said the girl.
I looked in the corner and only saw my ghost general. He was still pinned to the ground, but I did not see the shadow that was there before.
Look harder madam. He is there relishing in the chaos.
Stop bossing me around, said I.
I focused my powers more and then, I saw it. I saw the shadow. He was about 8 feet tall and had a grey hood on. It was covering his eyes but not his mouth.
“You! I see you!” I said as I took out my sword. I pointed it in his direction.
What happened next made the hair on my arms stand. I wish this experience upon no one. It sent a shiver of fear down my spine.
The shadow looked up at me. Ominously, he smiled.