the Prequel, the Chronicles of Heaven's Curse
Copyright © 2021 by Kalverya Johansson.
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The author reserves all rights.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used factiously. All statements, activities, stunts, descriptions, information, and material of any other kind contained herein are included for entertainment purposes only and should not be relied on for accuracy or replicated as they may result in injury.
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Gothalia Ignatius-Valdis always had the misfortune of causing fear amongst a crowd. Even, if it weren’t her initial intent. The type of woman, all Peacekeepers and guards alike, watched very closely even from a young age, with caution and uncertainty in their hooded eyes.
Yes, even they were terrified of her.
They heard the stories, they heard the rumours and above all, they’ve read the reports of her bloodline. The documentation, that would forever socially exile her.
However, that was not often always the case.
There was once a time in her life Gothalia recalled the warmth of unconditional love and acceptance. A time in her life when she was not as alone and a time in her life when everything was how it should be—peaceful and safe. Though, those times seemed so long ago. So distant, that not even Anaphora and L’Eiron, could rekindle such dormant memories or forgotten feelings and neither could her cousins.
Even if they were always around, warning her to never go out without them, warning her to be in control of her emotions and above all warning her that her emotions, was what everyone feared. Never mentioning the demon within but the implication was there—it always was.
As such, it was those emotions that protected her and harmed her.
Even now, as she glared at the men who cornered her. She had never felt more anger than she had ever felt then in that moment, as they taunted her with ridiculous questions like they used to when they were children.
Questions, Gothalia thought were far too invasive. “Are you really from the Ignatius clan?” one man asked. His eyes narrowed on her when he stepped closer, catching a whiff of the alcohol on his breath.
Before another queried, from beside him. “Aren’t you supposed to have blond hair?”
“Why’s your hair black?” Another asked. One man with brown hair and hazel eyes gripped the tresses of her thin hair that fell over her shoulder.
“It must be demon hair,” the first one said, and glanced at his blue-eyed friend. “Her eyes are black. Black as they come. There’s no colour in them and her skin’s darker than ours too.”
Gothalia remained silent.
Then yelped when another pulled the opposite end of her hair from the other side. “How dare she wear the insignia of the Ignatius clan and not even look like them? Can you even use fire?” The boy with gold eyes egged, regarding her closely with suspicion. “I bet ya you can’t. You mustn’t really be an Ignatius. You phoney.”
“Maybe she’s supposed to look like the Valdis demons?” Another announced.
“That’s exactly what everyone says.” the golden eyed man declared, staring Gothalia down.
“Aren’t you guys tired of those questions?” Gothalia remarked, gripping the wrist of one man that pulled at her hair. His grip loosened, a little, stunned by her reaction.
A crowd had formed, long ago, and among them, Peacekeepers watched. Some smiled while others ignored the incident entirely. “How old are you lot anyway? My age? Was it? Surely you’ve developed a brain by now.”
“What did you say?” The man in front of her asked.
His hostile golden eyes peered into hers.
“You heard me.” Gothalia remarked, with a smirk, and twisted the man’s wrist as hard as she could until he released her hair.
She smiled triumphantly until a man hit her hard across the face, forcing her further against the wall while they closed the circle. “Don’t you demon scum have any manners? I bet ya weren’t taught any. You filthy monster.”
Gothalia wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth. “Takes one to know one, ass-wipe.”
“You little bitch! Let’s see you talk back when you’re six feet under.” The golden eyed man declared. He was of the Barak clan, she recognised, and it showed when lightning permeated his fingers and he gripped her by the throat. Electricity shot through Gothalia’s entire system and she screamed in pain. Before another man punched her hard in the face then in the stomach, forcing her to knees.
They continued to attack, with an array of hard kicks. Gothalia returned a heated glare, when they paused. She grabbed the ankle of one man, and muttered, “Is that all you got? My grandma can hit harder than you.” A taunting smile pulled across her lips while anger and confusion twisted across every man’s face.
“Are you trying to die?” The golden eyed man asked suddenly, the charge of electricity ceasing at his question.
Then, a fist connected with his jaw. Then another of her attackers was punched in the face. Two men paused protectively before her and, the other men backed away. “Cheap shot,” the lightening utiliser declared, a member of the Barak clan muttered, wiping the blood from his jaw before running his fingers through his equally golden hair. “But I bet ya you can’t get another one in.”
“Anton.” Gothalia gasped in surprise, then smiled when Maximus dropped beside her and helped her to her feet. “He’s not worth it.”
“And yet, they get away with hurting you. I’ll kill them.” Anton replied, his dark eyes assessed the man surrounding them, with such hostility Gothalia pulled her eyes from him. Instead, she peered at the nearby Peacekeepers in the crowd, whom of which, eyed them carefully. With their hands positioned on their swords while some poised their grip on their electric batons. Quickly, Gothalia gripped Anton’s arm.
“We have to go. Remember what Anaphora said.” Her thoughtful gaze on the Peacekeepers and Anton followed her gaze. Then frowned. The Peacekeepers waited for Anton and Maximus to react. Gothalia gripped his arm tighter and urged, “They’re not worth it.” Then, understanding, flashed across his eyes.
Discretely, a man kicked a small bag to Gothalia’s feet. She glanced at it curiously. Recognising, the red and gold lining the expensive lace material, including the coins within. Then he glanced at the Peacekeepers and pointed at her. “She stole our money. We’re just getting it back,” he lied, and the Peacekeepers approached.
Alarmed, Anton and Maximus glanced at each other, then with Gothalia, backed away. Her attackers smiled when the Peacekeepers unsheathed their swords and batons before marching to them.
Anton, Maximus and Gothalia backed up against the wall when the Peacekeepers paused. Fear contorted their features and the men laughed. Though, they didn’t utter a word. “Stealing, are we?” the Peacekeeper asked, pausing before Anton, whose arm stretched out protectively before Gothalia and Maximus. “That’s a big no-no.”
“We didn’t steal anything,” Anton replied, staring the Peacekeeper down. “They can take back what they’ve planted.” He gestured to the bag on the ground.
“Anton.” Maximus declared, with concern.
“Planted?” the blue-eyed man yelled, outraged. “We did nothing of the sort. You liar!”
Anton’s eyes much like Gothalia’s narrowed. “Are you sure about that Garret?” Anton questioned, eyeing the man. His question caused the Peacekeeper to halt and his expression to shift into one of confusion and uncertainty. “Last time I checked, that bag has your family crest on it. As if a member of the Valdis clan would ever take money from one of the poorest aristocratic families. We may be ‘demons’ as you call us, but we do not need to take money from anyone. Let alone you lot.”
“What did you say?” Garret growled.
“You heard me,” Anton uttered, regarding Garret, dangerously. “We are not thieves and we don’t strike women.” The Peacekeepers glanced at Garret who appeared equally alarmed as his friends, and sheathed their swords.
“I don’t see any crime being committed.” The Peacekeepers concluded. “So, I don’t see any reason to be here. Move out.” He ordered his men. Swiftly, they turned their heel and walked away.
“But they—” Maximus declared.
“—Maximus!” Anton growled, in a rough whisper before clearly adding, “We’re leaving.” Without acknowledging the other men. He moved to Gothalia and took her from Maximus then guided her down the road. Anton glanced behind them once they were further down the road and scrutinised the men who watched them leave.
▫ ▫ ▫
“I wonder what’s taking them so long.” Anaphora Reagan-Valdis declared, glancing at L’Eiron Augustin-Valdis as she placed the plates on the table beside the cutlery. “It’s getting late.”
L’Eiron pulled his eyes from the book he read, then out the window in contemplation as he observed the arriving sunset. “It is a little unusual,” L’Eiron acknowledged, before closing the book and leaving the table.
“Where are you going?” Anaphora asked, curious. “Are you not hungry?”
With his back to her, he said, “I am. I’m going to find them. Be back soon.”
Anaphora watched him leave then frowned.
L’Eiron vacated the manor and strode through the barren and silent estate that once bubbled with life, contemplating where the reminder of their small family would be. Until, he noticed three figures entering the main gate, that led to a road and ran back to the city. He scrutinised the figures a little more closely. Anton carried Gothalia on his back and anxiousness washed over him. L’Eiron jogged over to them and they noticed his approach.
“Is she alright? What happened?” L’Eiron asked, concern etching into his features as he took in Gothalia’s bloodied and bruising face. Fury burned within the pit of his stomach. He marched over to Gothalia and ran his hand along the bruised cheek, tenderly. “Who did this?”
“The members of the Barak clan and their friends.” Anton spat. “Gothalia’s been hurt pretty bad. Do we have any medical supplies?”
“Yes, inside. Anaphora!” L’Eiron called, taking Gothalia from Maximus. He rushed up the driveway, the stairs and into the house with her. Anaphora’s thudding footfalls echoed throughout the foyer as she ran down the stairs.
“What’s wrong—!” Then spotted Gothalia’s unexpected condition and ran to her. Worry and fear contorted her graceful features. “What happened?”
“The members of the Barak clan,” Anton answered, his frown deepening.
“I’m fine,” Gothalia managed, the moment everyone began to fuss over her. “It’s just a couple of cuts and bruises. I’ll be fine.” Gothalia climbed to her feet, then regretted it in an instant, when her entire side lit up in a fury of pain and she wasn’t too sure if the pain was because of where they’d kicked her, or how hard they had. Anaphora regarded the injuries. She’d known Gothalia to never bruise easily. Then she understood, the men threw everything they had behind their attacks. “Disgusting,” L’Eiron muttered, regarding Gothalia.
Anaphora did not utter a word. She too found their behaviour—disgusting. She was certain anyone with decent morals did.
Everyone watched Gothalia with concern and regret. Conflicting emotions splashed across everyone’s features before Anaphora’s lips pursed into a grimace as her eyes methodically ran over Gothalia’s injuries. “Who did this?” Anaphora asked.
“The members of the Barak clan.” Maximus replied.
“She means specifically,” L’Eiron added.
Anton and Maximus glanced at each other. “We don’t know, they never said each other’s names.” Anton swiftly replied.
Deep in thought, Anaphora regarded Gothalia. “Could you identify these men if we requested for a Peacekeeper?” Anaphora queried, and Gothalia fell silent before Anaphora recognised the anger marring her features and the frown of her lips.
“They were there. They watched.” Both L’Eiron and Anaphora fell silent.
“Than I guess that answers that.” Anaphora replied grimly, and helped Gothalia to her feet. “Let’s get you to your room. L’Eiron will call for a physician.” L’Eiron quickly moved from the foyer and further into a house before searching for a phone.
“Is there anything we can do?” Anton asked.
“There is,” Anaphora began, and led Gothalia away before adding, “Find out who did this.” At those words, both men nodded then exited the manor.
Once Anton and Maximus exited the house, Maximus began trailing Anton. “Why didn’t you tell Anaphora the truth? You do know who one is. Isn’t that enough for us to go on? And besides, I don’t like that we lied.”
“If Anaphora found out who he was, who knows what she’d do.” Anton declared, deep in thought. “We can’t risk anymore controversy. And that’s only her. We’re not even considering what L’Eiron would do.”
“But it’s for Gothalia’s sake.” Maximus avowed, once they were at the gate. His dark eyes much like Anton’s and Gothalia’s lingered over the city below. “I mean, it’s for us too wouldn’t it be?” Anton fell silent. Contemplating his words. Then marched down the road. “Also, why are we walking?”
“I need to think,” Anton replied.
“You can do that in a car.” Maximus articulated, with a furrow of his brows. Stopping, he glared after his brother.
“No, we can’t. They’ll recognise the car. At least if we walk. We’ll blend in.”
“Fine but you’re buying dinner. I’m starving.” With that, Maximus followed Anton down the road, and into the outer city districts. However, it wasn’t until later that evening after they’d bought food from one of the few shops that’d serve them, Maximus and Anton heard a disturbance, outside a nearby pub. Out of curiosity, they investigated.
“You low-life good for nothing—!” a man shouted, then there was a crack before Maximus and Anton spotted the man as he was thrown across the road. Onlookers from within, observed the interaction with curiosity and concern. Maximus and Anton regarded the brunette man with his sheathed sword in hand on the pub stairs. The light from the venue shadowed him, making it hard for both Anton and Maximus to discern his features, but Anton recognised the stance. The stranger placed his sheathed sword on his waist and relaxed his stance before striding towards the man in the middle of the road.
“What’s going on?” Maximus asked.
“Not sure,” Anton declared, moving closer.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear you. What was that?” the man taunted, as he stood over the other man on the road.
“I said you’re a low-life! All Centurions are! You can’t even rid the world of the Xzandians and the Alastorians and yet you allow men and women to perish for a dying cause. It’s ridiculous! A waste of time and hard-earned taxpayer’s money.” Once Anton and Maximus were close enough, they could see anger the marring the other man’s features as he cracked his knuckles and took in his red, black and silver uniform. The sword at his waist sheathed in black, accompanied by the clipped daggers on his right leg. His family insignia on his shoulder while the Dragon Core emblem branded on his back and his rank on his chest.
“I suggest you watch what you say,” the Centurion declared. “Or I might crush you.” At that, the earth shattered beneath them and the man regarded the ground, alarmed. Fearful, of the earth utiliser.
“Go ahead!” the man managed, with fear. “You aristocratic families are all Regali aren’t you? While the rest of us are expected to be Caligati. Or am I wrong? Having you end me here now would prove that I was right. You Centurions aren’t honourable. You’re pathetic. I’m just surprised no one has abandoned their posts and—”
When the Centurion stopped before the man, he leaned down and pulled him by the front of his shirt. The Centurion’s gaze darkened. “—And what? Say it, I dare you, because you know what. Civilians who don’t know what they’re talking about, should keep their traps shut. Many of my comrades have fallen so you can keep your freedom. If it weren’t for us—the specialised unit mind you. You’d all be corpses or slaves to the Xzandians. I’d watch where you step because the next person you run into may not be as merciful as me.” He threw the man from him and marched to where Anton and Maximus stood. Both men stepped aside and watched him leave.
Maximus and Anton regarded the insignia on his shoulder. “That man . . .” Maximus began. “He’s . . .”
“—I know,” Anton declared. “It’s best we keep out of his way.”
“Run-away why don’t you! You’re all talk and no bite,” the man called after the Centurion who retreated into the shadows of the silent street. “You’re a coward. A good for nothing low-life just like the rest of your—”
Then, the man was cut short by Anton’s fist connecting with his jaw, knocking the man out. The Centurion paused, when the man collided with the ground.
“Will you give it a rest already.” Anton articulated, more annoyed than disgusted, “you’re scaring everyone.” The Centurion turned around and strode over to Anton, passing Maximus who was equally surprised by his brother’s reaction.
“You didn’t need to do that,” the Centurion said, with a kind smile and held out his hand. “But I appreciate the gesture nonetheless.”
“No problem,” Anton declared and took it. Shaking his hand. The Centurion began, “My name’s Danteus Nero-Drausus. Thank you for what you’ve done today, it won’t be forgotten. Unfortunately, he’s been causing me problems all week and I guess I just snapped,” Danteus looked away shamefully. “I know I should be in control at all times but well . . . you heard what he said.”
“I don’t blame you. The mouth on him.” Anton remarked, glaring at the unconscious man. “This is my younger brother Maximus and I’m Anton.”
“And your family?” Danteus asked, respectfully. Both Anton and Maximus shared a worried look. “What? You’re not aristocrats? It’s okay,” he declared, with a gentle laugh. “I won’t judge.” Anton shifted and allowed Danteus to glimpse the family crest on his back. Danteus’s eyes widened, as he observed the Valdis insignia. “Oh.”
Danteus regarded both men thoughtfully. “We know. We get it. We’ll leave you alone.” Anton declared and motioned to leave with Maximus following but Danteus stopped them both.
“Did I say you had to leave me alone?” he asked them. His eyes trailed over both men, deep in thought. “I know the stories that surround your family aren’t good but so far you seem—alright.” Danteus’s bright smile caught them off guard. Then they returned his smile and glanced at each other with equally large grins. “What brings you guys here, anyway? Normally, you lot don’t wander far from your estate.”
Anton’s gaze darkened as did Maximus’s, this surprised Danteus, who regarded both men cautiously. “We’re searching for someone and figured we’d look here, where he’s known to be.”
“And who’s this exactly?”
“Garret Barak.” Maximus chimed in, causing a swift glare from Anton, who cowered beneath his brother’s scathing gaze.
“I know who you’re talking about. I heard he’s a bit of a troublemaker. What did he do this time?” Danteus inquired, then glanced at the man on the ground. “But first, we should probably get out of here before the Peacekeepers find us.”
“Good idea,” Anton declared. Danteus and Maximus ran down the road and rounded a corner. After they rounded the corner, they glanced down the road and noticed the teleported Peacekeepers in the distance who regarded the unconscious man on the ground. “That was fast.”
“Peacekeepers aren’t like the Police on the surface world they don’t waste time.” Danteus remarked. “I’m so going to get in trouble when my superiors hear about this.”
“Hey, it was all for a noble cause,” Anton voiced with a smirk, from where he stood beside Danteus. Turning his heel, Anton ran down another road while the others followed, until they heard a voice call from one of the narrow alleyways in La Volpe Heights.
“Look who it is. Demon scum,” a voice called from the shadows.
Anton paused and squinted, into the darkness, where out stepped five men armed with swords and short daggers. Such hostility, stunned Anton and Maximus both of whom were unarmed. Then finally, out of the shadows strode a Centurion in rank equal to Danteus who he immediately recognised but was not surprised to see.
“Danteus, what are you doing with those low-lives?” he asked, almost playful.
“Rufus, my old friend. I thought you were on a mission. It’s a surprise to see you here.” Danteus casually replied.
“Don’t dodge the question.” Rufus declared. His brown eyes narrowed on Danteus’s green ones. “I would like to know what you’re doing with those outsiders.”
“What does it look like?” Danteus replied, with a causal shrug. “I’m making new friends. Honestly, the fact that you can’t see that is rather—sad.”
Rufus laughed a hearty laugh. “You? A friend of the Valdis? That’s comical. Stop playing around and tell me the real reason.”
“Rufus, is that your name?” Anton declared; and anger coated his voice. “What a ridiculous name. Where’s Garret?”
“How should I know? And what would you want with him?”
Anton cracked his knuckles. “I have a score to settle with that pathetic excuse of a man.”
“Oh, do you now?” Rufus queried. A dark smile contorted his features as he gazed upon Anton. With a snap of his fingers, the other men who stood beside Rufus ran at Anton and Maximus. Anton dodged their attacks and stood to fight but Danteus shoved him out of the way when ice shot up from the ground, almost impaling him.
“Anton!” Maximus called. Then blocked an attack from the enemy before slipping past the man and elbowing him in the throat.
“Thanks for that,” Anton said, as Danteus helped him to his feet.
“No problem,” Danteus declared with a smile. Then turned to face their attackers with Anton and Maximus. Danteus’s smile grew as the armed men approached. “You know, I’ve been itching for a fight.”
“Oh really?” Rufus declared, from where he stood behind his friends. Anton and Maximus fought off the men though not without a few mild cuts.
“Yeah,” Danteus declared, as the remaining men rushed towards him, and the ground became uneven. Within seconds, he took out his attackers. When all the men fell, he glanced at Rufus. “Why don’t you show me what you’ve got?” Small balls of earth hovered in circles over Danteus’s open palm as he watched Rufus with a deadly smile.
Rufus despised the arrogance on Danteus’s face. “You’re dead.”
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