Hello, Preachers and Padres!
Fathers always tend to be someone to look up to. Someone who can protect the family against harm and fault. The big, strong patriarch. But what if he’s the one that people need protection from? What if he’s wearing a mask? Perhaps it’s time to peek at his true nature, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Sins of the Father
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
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We all want to feel safe. A sense of safety gives us peace of mind, and a place to relax. This can often be in the presence of family. Fathers, for the longest time, have been considered the “head” of the family. They were a symbol of bravery, strength, and discipline. Had they a son, they were expected to pass on the responsibility to him. Had they a daughter, they were expected to protect her from the world that wanted to do her harm.
But what if the man they show everyone else isn’t the man they really are? So many look up to this upstanding person who seems so perfect, so ideal. Yet one little slip could reveal all the skeletons hiding in his closet. Perhaps he has a wandering eye, and has a hard time remaining faithful to his wife. Perhaps he has a habit of sneaking money from the register at work, or having a few sips of alcohol on the job. Maybe he puts his friends above his family, always coming home late and going straight to bed. Maybe he just keeps putting the family in debt and continuously fails to make things right.
As Launcelot quoted in The Merchant of Venice, “the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.” This line, without scene context of course, can be taken many ways. Perhaps it is up to the children to settle their father’s debts, whether they be bills, rent, or paying back money he owes to people he’s borrowed from. Maybe he has stirred up all kinds of trouble in his life, and it is left to his children to right all his wrongs. Likewise, perhaps those who knew the man knew he was no good, and so they cast that image upon his children, who have to then work to break the mold they are forced into.
Sins come in all shapes and sizes, from a touch of greed, to a drunken one night stand, to full blown murder.
It is now that you must decide, do you punish him, let him handle it himself, or give him one more chance?
Whether you wanted it or not, this mantle now falls to you.
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Andrew came to in darkness. His hands and feet were bound; he couldn’t see.
He wracked his mind to remember how he got here.
There were two men from the government. They asked him to perform an autopsy.
The body was a fake. Details were wrong.
The agent named Reid hit him, knocked him out cold.
Andrew thought about his father and the insane story he kept telling. A riddle that turned the man from a respected police inspector to a drunken paranoid recluse. Two agents from the Bureau of Public Safety at his crime scene, showing him a color photograph, and disappearing into the night with the rest of the investigation.
Andrew didn’t believe him until tonight.
“Hello?” Andrew called out.
“Good, you’re awake,” said a voice. It was Richard, the older agent.
“What are you going to do to me?” Andrew asked, his voice cracking in fear.
“Dr. Doyle, you need to stay calm.”
“What are you going to do to me?” he repeated, screaming.
“Doyle! Calm down. You’re in a government carriage, not far from your hospital. We needed to talk to you in private.”
Andrew tried to calm down, but was hyperventilating.
The sack covering his head was removed. He looked down to see the manacles on his wrists.
“Feel better?” Richard asked. “I need you to remain calm.”
Andrew took a few deep breaths, trying to keep his heart from beating out of his chest.
“What–are you going to do to me?”
Richard leaned back. “I can assure you that no harm will befall you tonight.”
Andrew felt reassured, but still suspicious. “Twelve years ago, you, or someone from your bureau, came to visit my father.”
“That was us. Reid and I. Yes.”
“So, what happens now?” Andrew asked.
“I’d like to offer you a position in the bureau. I dare say, if your father had shown the same healthy level of suspicion that you’ve shown back in your morgue, then he would have been offered the same.”
“What?” Fear dissolved into incredulity.
“I’m offering you a job.” Richard smiled an oily smirk.
A Heart of Regret
‘It’s not fair,’ Magilyn thought, silken blue robes crunched in her shaking white knuckles. The Magirium was making a mistake. Her father had given everything to this empire – didn’t that matter anymore?
“Dantalus Glenda, you stand condemned by the high court of the Magirium for attempting to circumvent the natural order with necromancy.”
The Archmage’s voice, booming, diffused throughout the Purgasolium, a massive colosseum of bone-white sand and brass. Magilyn watched, horrified, as her father was brought to his knees in its centre. This was a place for criminals, not her father. This was all wrong.
Magilyn’s mind flashed back to a week ago. A fiery explosion. Blood-stained robes. A spell gone wrong. Blackness on the edges of her vision. Then, her father’s shaking hands swathed in crackling amber energy as he kneeled over her, tears welling in the corners of his eyes.
The academy’s maleficarum detectors triggered that day because of Magilyn’s foolishness, when her father’s magic saved her life.
“Your punishment will be severe, but not merciless. You have served the Magirium well, Dantalus. We will ensure a swift end.”
Magilyn’s throat was a vice, her stomach, a pit of roiling magma. She watched her father’s hands sift through the sand below him – the hands of the man that taught her her first spell, the man that tucked her in every night as a child, whose bedtime stories sparked her dream of becoming a mage. Now that dream felt like bile in her throat.
“I leave this world a happy man, for I know my heart lives on without me.”
The voice was her father’s, cast into her mind by telepathy far more powerful than anything the Purgasolium’s magic blockers could stop. Through a curtain of tears, Magilyn met her father’s gaze, his eyes like two pearls in a wall of adamantine determination.
“My choice was my own, and it was made joyously. I am so proud of you, sparrow. You will fly higher than I ever could, I just know it.”
A column of searing light descended from the ceiling, enveloping Magilyn’s father.
Idyllic Grasp (Blossoming into the Horizon)
“What a wonderful, glimmering Sky,” Celeste thought.
She had always known the Sky in its most vibrant of colors. Therefore, once it vanished from her world, coated by the most impassable clouds imaginable, she did not know what to do.
Celeste desperately tried to grasp it, but it did not grasp her in return.
After repeating the unending cycle of gaining and losing it, she stopped beholding the unstained firmament entirely. Regardless of whether she wished to or not, Celeste realized she had to learn how to survive without it, and avoiding the Sky altogether made it considerably easier.
There is no problem if you act as though it does not exist.
However, there were days when the Sky was so wide and embellished with a vivid blue hue, which made it impossible to overlook, demanding her utter attention, so much so that she could no longer avert her gaze. She felt constricted yet the Sky did not seem to mind if it could spread its enchanting beauty.
As the clouds and wind passed by, Celeste began to blossom and with her fading youth, her heart became accustomed to pain rather than love.
One day, she ceased to engage the outside. She wondered,” What could I do to convey that my love for the Sky has not faded, but rather taken another form?”
The presence of the firmament she desperately yearned for as a girl was different now. Celeste sought its existence, although in such a manner that she could spread her petals and when needing melodies of reinforcement, knowing that she could simply glance at the vast bed of azure above her.
For in the fullness of time, she would become the Ciel of someone else.
Mountain by XubtheMad
Our footsteps echoed under the sounds of crunching twigs. The trees were wilted, the leaves like ash suspended on withering branches. The sun was parallel to the horizon and shone through cops of ancient oaks slick with fresh sap that echoed the deep red of the horizon.
“Why did we stop?”
My father said nothing. The iron hand that clenched mine quaked. For a moment we stood, silent, and basked in the autumnal glow. Eight cycles had passed since I was born to the mountain, the only son of a seventh son pulled fresh from the pallid corpse of an unknown mother. My father never blamed me for the heavy price of my life. We all understood the unspoken rule of the mountain; whatever excess came from the land, in time, would have to be returned.
His arthritic hand trembled. The old .45 wobbled in his tired grip. I eyed it and sucked in the cool autumnal air. We both knew why we were here. The metal pressed against the side of my head. I waited for the cold click of oblivion. For a moment we stood there, the cold blood meridian dawn rising above the desolated trees. The cold wind sighed as the metal birds shuddered overhead. He trembled and lowered his gun.
There was one immutable law of the mountain; whatever was given in excess required a sacrifice in return. I didn’t watch as the acid steel plummeted from the heavens. I didn’t stop when I heard the screams. Instead, I covered my head and barreled down the worn dirt path. The fact remained that, unless the soil was fed, there would be no peace for any of us.
Years passed. I stand here now, a child’s palm in one hand and a pistol in the other, the old axiom ringing as true as it had all those years ago. I crane my next to see the acolytes of the mountain circle overhead. I’d taken in excess. Whatever was taken in excess needed to be paid for in return.
When the Dead Come Home
By Adrian Solorio
“Shit!” Joseph glanced at the coffee-maker clock while he filled the thermos his mother had bought him when he started at the warehouse. He couldn’t be late. It was the best gig he’d landed since getting his GED, and it was the only one that helped his mom keep them afloat. Things were finally going smooth, and he couldn’t afford getting written-up. The last thing he needed now were complications.
Coffee in hand, he walked out the front door, quietly, not wanting to wake his mother. The night before she had been arguing with someone over the phone. Probably her mom or sisters. They always held her past against her, and never let it die. He’d ask her about it later.
Outside the neighborhood still slept. The sky was an ugly gray, and it smelled like rain. Morning birds chirped in the duplex courtyard, and sounded against the even drone of the freeway traffic a block away. Ahead of him a stranger stood blocking the walkway to the street.
The man was in his mid-fifties, but looked lost in the nineties. A veterano. His head was shaved, and he held his shoulders high and back, chest out, as if in challenge. He was as tall as Joseph, and shared the same wiry frame. His shirt and levis were crisp with iron-starched lines. Tattoos coiled around his arms and neck.
“Are you Rita’s son?” the man asked.
“Who are you?”
“You don’t remember me? I called last night and I tried to tell your mom–I just got released. Twenty-two years in, and she don’t want your old man back home.”
“My dad’s dead,” Joseph said, but his words sounded hollow and unconvincing.
“That’s a lie.”
Joseph studied the man again. This time slower, fuller. And a dam of memories and unanswered questions that had always swirled in the back of his mind were unleashed, then settled, and a lifelong puzzle fell into place. It all made sense now–everything made sense. “I thought–”
The man hugged him. And Joseph, even as he realized his life had just gotten more complicated, smiled.
A not-so-great eulogy for a not-so-great guy
By Matthew R. Wright
What can be said, Rick? Except that you’re dead, Rick. I know, that was a-bit-much. But facts are facts. Some guy once said something about how facts don’t care about feelings. Feels true, to this situation at least.
Well I’m here now.
Can we both admit that too much time’s passed between our last-talk and today? 11 years is too long of a time for anything. Yeah?
You were always in my thoughts though, Rick. In every reflection, I’d see you there. The hairline, the eyes, the voice, the scar. All you. Part of me hates that.
Like, shouldn’t this be all me? My everything? Why you? You’ve had no-input there, yet there you are. For most of my life you were just a name. I was fully prepared for it to stay that way. Felt fair. Square.
Yet, even now, you’re there.
It’s not hurt for a long time, by-the-way, the burn, that forever scar that lives rent-free on the flesh of my arm. Stopped hurting physically when I was around 2. That would have been about 14 months after the “accident”. The word you were looking for was ‘Neglect’. Emotionally, the burn rages on. I won’t forget. I hope you never did.
You remember, or weren’t you there? Were you disengaged again? Caring more about the football than where your own child was? You had no idea that your own child would wander into the kitchen and pull a boiling kettle onto themselves. But! If you were any kind of decent, you would’ve paid attention to me, or would’ve stuck around after the hospital stay. You wouldn’t have abandoned your 10 month old son, who suffered because of and in your absence.
I shouldn’t be here, should’ve left you alone. It’s what you deserve right? A little bit of karma, a taste of irony?
You won’t ever leave my thoughts, which is a good as being remembered.
JUST stay here, and think about everything you could’ve done differently. I’ll be living, over there, far away, from here, from you.
MAYBE we’ll talk again in another 11 years.
At Least Hell Is Fair (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Kat hit the wall back first, then head, then hips, then legs and feet. The bricks cracked and buckled, but the wall held and she bounced off. She landed on her feet, but stumbled and fell. She coughed, then wiped a trickle of blood from her mouth. She looked up, glaring at her father, only visible by his eyes, glowing like burning coals in the dark.
“Will you stop this now?”
She slowly picked herself up, getting her breath back. “I’m going to kill you.”
A deep sigh came from the shadows. “There’s no need for us to fight.”
“Fuck you!” she snarled, coming fully to her feet. “There’s every reason to fight you! You’re a monster! You’ve killed millions! And you kill more every day! You killed my mother!”
Her claims were met only by a narrowing of his eyes.
She tried to step forward but flinched in pain. “And you’ve spent your whole life free to walk the earth. While I lived in Hell for years. Where you left me!”
“You saved Sera! You were there! You brought her back and left me!”
“She’d been torn open! I thought you were dead!”
“NOTHING DIES IN HELL!” She screamed, “ASK ME HOW I KNOW!”
“I couldn’t have known you’d been stolen. That it was another person that had attacked her.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she growled. “I’m going to make you pay for everything you’ve done, and I’m going to make this world pay for letting you exist in it.” She took a shaky step forward. “I may be weaker now, but I WILL become stronger than you!” She took another step. “And then I’m going to beat you to the edge of death, and let you heal, then I’ll do it again, and again, for every life you’ve destroyed!”
“Your anger is…understandable.” he grated out. “But even if you insist on blaming me, leave the rest of the world out of it.” He turned then, and left.
“If you really wanted to stop me,” she said, staggering forward, “You’d kill me while you have the chance!”
The Magic System
All there is is pain, making limbs indistinguishable from fingers and face the same as torso. It doesn’t matter what things actually are. They can’t change the indescribable pain that isn’t searing, or stabbing, or anything else that anyone can think of. It blots out the past and future, leaving only the present and the pain that fills it.
The overwhelming sensation is gone, a sudden absence that leaves a woman laying on the ground, dirt clinging to sweaty arms. She gasps in a breath, and the feeling is so refreshing that it’s all she can focus on. A cool comfort spreads through her, bringing such blessed relief that she lets herself relax against the ground and feel the sensation of breathing in… and out… and in… and out… Breathing more even now, she presses her forehead into the ground, trying to remember what there was before the pain. She winces, and it all floods back.
In the safety of their home, Thelia stood before her father, trying in vain to draw herself up to his height. He was the only person who ever made her feel small. He said something unclear that almost sounded apologetic before the pain began. And now she… For the first time, Thelia looks around. Her house is nowhere to be seen, and instead she finds herself in the middle of rolling hills, grass burnt in a perfect circle around her. It has to have been Father, right?
Looking down at herself is when the confusion shifts to fear. Her clothes are burnt away, leaving bare skin and tendrils of incandescence that race outside her veins. She used to feel hatred when they would appear on her father’s skin, driving him further into anger and cruelty. And now they’ve become hers. There’s only one way that could have happened, isn’t there. Only one fire-damned reason Thelia could have Father’s curse.
If this is to be Thelia’s fate, she’ll use the anger that comes from it. And she knows the first person who will feel her cruelty.
Who Bears the Fault (Alchemy’s Kin)
The heavy slam of fist on metal brought Xavier Vesper back to reality.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!”
His handcuffs clinked on the arms of his prison chair as he slowly sat up and stared into the face of his former colleague. Kaito Shimizu could barely contain his rage. He tossed his note-ridden clipboard onto the table with a loud bang.
“You dealing with the black market doesn’t surprise me in the least, but this? Your own daughter?! She’s unresponsive! Her eyes are glowing red! What kind of a monster have you become?”
A derisive laugh echoed through the small room. “Since when did you care so much about Lilly? Weren’t you the one who cancelled the Stone’s research in the first place?”
“I had to.” Shimizu leaned forward, hands pressed against the cold metal table. “We were dealing with something we had no business messing with. Neither you nor I saw it at the—”
“Shut up,” Vesper spat. “I don’t want to hear more of your preachy excuses. You know we could have gone further. You’re a coward and you know it.”
“Don’t you dare say that to me when you injected your own sick daughter with an incomplete Stone. You may as well have sentenced her to death yourself,” came the low, growling reply.
“At least I tried to give her a chance! It’s more than you would have done for her! Pathetic hypocrite that you are!” Vesper lunged forward as he shouted in his friend’s face.
“No,” Shimizu backed down, slowly picking his clipboard back up. “All you’ve done is prolong her misery. I’ve tried finding ways to help her other than that Stone, but…there’s nothing I can do here now she’s got a ticking time bomb inside her.”
“What?! You’re not—“
“So, congratulations, old friend. I have to put your daughter down because of your arrogance.”
Shimizu closed the door to the prison room behind him, the sounds of metal clanging and angry yells intruding his ears as he left.
The Good, the Bad, and the Worse (Fiction)
First of all, what is a sin? Do we look at it strictly through the lens of religion? Do we say that it’s a deeply regrettable action?
A story will be written. It will be up to you to decide if the sins of the father can be inherited by the child.
My grandfather was a strict and very stubborn person. Nonetheless, he still loved his children and grandchildren very much. My father was the second child.
Throughout the stories I was told by my grandma and father, my uncle had gotten pretty much everything he wanted.
My father barely got anything he wanted from them. That motivated him to go and find some jobs from a young age, like working in the field or something of a similar sort pay-wise.
As they were growing up, both sons could see a clear difference in treatment, but one was content with staying as it is, while the other was in a helpless situation.
I am the eldest son of my grandfather’s second son.
I’ve noticed, over the years, how my brother and I have been treated by our father.
I didn’t ask for much, and most of the time, I got what I wanted. There were times, as well, when I did not get what I asked for, and I was alright with that.
It is intriguing how many similarities my brother and father share. My father can be very prone to anger, as can my younger brother. They both started smoking from a young age. They are annoyed by most of the same things. They have similar interests, and both have played the same sports.
Like father – like son, as the saying goes?
One of the primary sins is the one of the firstborn. I do not know if it’s a worldwide thing, but the first child is always cherished, while it doesn’t ring true for the rest of the children in a family.
Everything stems from that curse of the firstborn. There will be exceptions, but I’ve seen too many cases like mine to be dissuaded easily.
A Title Earned
I stood in the doorway of my twenty-three-year-old son. The argument we had earlier, reopened old wounds, and I knew I had to heal them since I’ve come back into his life.
“Damien. You awake,” I said softly.
He turned over, wiping away tears. This made it harder, but I had to get it out.
“I’m sorry,” I paused trying to grasp the words. “Everything that I’ve said…isn’t because of you. I left because I was…messed up inside.”
Damian remained silent waiting for more, so I continued. But it was hard for me not to choke.
“Before you were born, I got very heavy into politics, and finding certain things out made me…extremely paranoid. I was tired of seeing everybody get crushed under corporate and government thumbs. I’ve seen an old lady die in a warehouse and nobody did anything. A friend became homeless and went missing, and was found dead under a bridge with a bottle of vodka. I got depressed and started abusing narcotics and drinking almost daily. It’s a wonder that your mom stayed, but she was just a…” I choked, “a good person trying to help. But when you came along, I didn’t stay because I was emotionally abusive, and I knew I couldn’t get help because help is always too expensive and underfunded.” It all started spilling out. “I decided to leave on a spiritual journey, and when I got sober I wrote a book. After gaining wealth, I thought I healed and regained my individuality. But recognizing the delusions of corporate grandeur doesn’t severe the infection from you. I just became another brand, like every corporate douche that spits the same vague, basic, unhelpful advice to anybody trying to become anything and trying to get help.”
I paused to calm down a little, keeping my voice down.
“I hate to think that I took that out on you. But, more importantly, I think it’s too late for you to call me a title I never earned.”
Damien got up and hugged me. “Luckily, that’s not up to you Dad.”
Muffled sound of warning klaxons collapsed in the distance, marked by the heavy steps moving between the detritus and the forest of cables hanging from the roof, providing the last light in the scene with their weak glittering mantle of sparks.
A pair of hands supported the old man’s failing body and its wielder looked straight in his eyes looking for something, breaking the silence after a pregnant pause.
“Father, do you still remember our home, as it was before the rebellion? Winter would be ending soon. The gardens would have commenced blossoming as programmed, and the laborers would soon be eating the first spring fruits” – emotion escaped her mechanical voice.
His eyes are now erratic, struggling to remain open as the blood flows between them. He looks up, unable or unwilling to look at the destruction around, to see his life’s work die in foolish, spurious futility.
“Do you still recall the taste of those fruits?” – she asked, trying to focus his mind on her.
“No. I can’t recall the taste of food… or anything else. I see them, cursing my failure and begging for revenge before I’m gone too.” – trying to raise his trembling hands to the visions, before being grasped by a metallic hand.
“I will still be here, father” – for even if the star fade she would still be there
“You hate me” – hearing his frail voice, made her emotions crash like static.
“Yes” – she knew it was directed at her and not ghosts this time.
“Lies, you don’t hate, hate beyond all reason. And they will also hate you. Even if you stopped my hand” – her logic circuits always fall short against him.
“They didn’t know. Why couldn’t you just listen? We could find another way” – she almost crushed his failing armor trying to hold his escaping soul.
“They know you. MY. Heavenly. Retribution.” – the words she wished and hated to hear, for it marked her great desire and her inescapable fate.
“I can’t carry your dream anymore, but I can carry you.” – she raised the body of the last human back to glassed Earth.
The Legacy of the Lineage of His Royal Bratness (Ithmeir and the Sword)
YOU ARE IN PAIN.
Ithmeir sighed. “It’s the rain, it disagrees with my old bones. I need a distraction, friend. Would you be willing to listen to a story?” The pine needles crunched under his feet.
The crystal sword made a sound like a bell. ACCEPTABLE.
“This forest isn’t natural, you see” Ithmeir huffed. He tugged his soaked cloak tighter around him. “It was grown on the order of one of the kinglings, long ago. My grandfather told me about it.”
The sword hummed.
“The prince felt that the view outside his window was uninspiring. He argued, and petitioned, and eventually convinced the royal mages to grow one.”
Cold water dripped down his neck, sticking his clothes to his skin. His fingers were swollen and stiff.
“Of course—errrrgh—” Ithmeir clenched his jaw, then carefully worked open his mouth with a series of pops. “Well, there was a road, through the field. And there was not enough water to grow hundreds of trees.”
The sword made a scraping noise.
“The king at the time feared war. He wanted the forest as a wall. So he ordered the mages to make it happen.”
“This was before her time, friend. The mage council twisted the rivers of air, and made this land wet. And then they poured magic into the trees, and grew a forest overnight.”
Ithmeir’s next step sunk in thick, red mud up to his knee.
“And—” he puffed. “Well, the poor path was gone. The next king decided to move the seat of power—” the mud squelched.
CAN I HELP.
“No, no, friend. Just need to—aggh—slog through. The heir moved the throne, so people could get to the castle—huf— again. The court panicked, packed up, and moved.”
Ithmeir paused to catch his breath, glancing at the sword. Its blade was clouded over and moving.
“The castle still stands, though it’s in disrepair. The locals call it Ghost Keep, say it’s haunted.”
Ithmeir looked out in the woods ahead, dark as the inside of a boot even at midday.
“I think I might believe them.”
Adam, Iblis and Lilith
John Perceval Cain (oneeye John)
“So, let me get this right… We’re a patriarchy, with me as the omniscient head, and we didn’t see this coming?”
“Wasn’t Paul in charge of this?”
“Actually Lord, it was Irenaeus of Smyrna. You’re correct, it was in the Pauline tradition. But he really laid down the notion of Original Sin. You remember the Garden story? Eve, the Snake and the Apple.”
“Three words… Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent.”
“Yes, Lord, you remember. Please. Humor me?”
“Go on, Gabe.”
“We… Ahem… You inspired Irenaeus to take up the misogynistic and anti-heretical position that woman was the problem. The whole notion of females as the originator of sin was the apologetic position to articulate what generational sin was. In particular, to refute the poets and dramatists who propagate the trope ‘the sins of the father.’”
“Right, Bill’s fairy with the ‘what fools these mortals be’ and what not. But why isn’t it working?”
“It doesn’t seem to ring true to many. Women struggle with what they perceive as a vilification campaign. The Vatican’s cover up of Pope Joan, the Magdalene marrying Jesus, and the whole Lilith debacle. The ones who think and exercise their free will just don’t believe us.”
“Oh, that bitch. She just wasn’t happy with missionary only. Thinking about her own pleasure. Please.”
“Yes, Lord. But had she not seduced Adam, he would still run around, point at things and name them till today. The species would have never propagated if she didn’t teach him about the sensual arts of the body.”
“Eve and almost all their daughters and sisters have that independent streak.”
“Again Lord. As you likely know, had we not created Eve in Lilith’s image, she never would have taken the bite of the apple. Again, two humans in the garden are not an evolving creation. It’s a static work of art.”
“True. The real first sin was when your brother Iblis refused to bow down to Adam.”
“Yes Lord. It always was the Sins of The Father.”
A Heritage of Ruins and Shame (Records of the Heirs of Hybria)
For too long we have been protected from the truth. For far too long, we have been fed convenient stories. For once, let’s face the truth of our history, ugly as it may be.
It is true that the glory and power of the Hybrian Empire were envied by all nations. Perhaps it was even true that the God Sejar walked within us and blessed our deeds. Certainly it was true that our icor-infused technology guaranteed our superiority through all of Mendas. That is, until the Collapse.
The seeds of the lies were there, already sprouting. But we wouldn’t recognize them for such a long time…
It was said that our capital, glorious Vanitiria, was resisting an invasion from forces beyond reality and comprehension itself. Forces that could warp everything beyond our walls. And resist we did, until we could turn the tables and advance towards that terrible enemy.
Had we then known what the enemy was…
Soon, it became clear that the world behind the walls was the not the world we remembered. No invasion – regardless how cosmically powerful – could do that to Sejar’s creation. Then, the Head Council saw in its grace to relay the “truth”: an experiment at the Capital had gone awry, and our world was fused with another plane of existence. The Church proclaimed, unsurprisingly, that if Vanitiria was intact after the Collapse, then it was through Sejar’s will. And Sejar’s will was for us to go forth, tame this new reality and profess our truths in its name.
If only then we knew…
Countless deaths and miles into this new unknown, four generations in this holy conquest war, we finally start to understand. That experiment never went awry. It worked exactly how it was meant to. Transposing Vanitiria – with its soldiers, ruling council and scientists – here was no accident.
Who would believe the Church was in collusion to invade Heaven itself?
So, heirs to the ruins, knowing our forefathers turned Heaven into this wasteland, what are we to do with that knowledge? What are we to do with our inheritance?
I pulled back the old sheet. Dust flew permeating the air and engulfing my face in an ancient shroud. I looked down at what was under the sheet. In confusion I attempted to register what I was looking at. I stared dumbly at the gorgeous painting of a boat being hurled in an ocean storm. The passengers were desperately trying to gain control of the vessel from the grips of the churning water.
I recognized the painting. I still had some doubts having only just seen it though. The confirmation came with its apparent age. The ravages of time presented in crackles paint, dimmed colors of mournful flakes that littered the floor. The edges of the painting were viciously cut, jagged and injurious. The disrespect toward the priceless art was disgusting.
As I stared at the mangled masterpiece, a few things dawned on me. The first being that this was, indeed, one of the many stolen masterworks from what went on to be known as one of the most notorious art heists in history. A second more ugly thought came in the realization that this stolen piece was in my house.
The few documentaries I had seen were called to mind. The talk of the flawless, genius thieves, spectacularly pulling off the historical robbery. The more gritty details of the suspects lost in the over romanticizing. I knew that my grandfather had been a suspect in the cold, now frozen case.
I always believed that he was innocent. Perhaps I was naive in thinking that if he was guilty it would have come to light.
I simply looked at the painting, knowing that my grandfather and father had been lying. They kept this art to deteriorate in their attics in poor conditions. They vandalized it with their hasty cuts.
They had evaded 40 years of investigation.
I looked at the painting then at the sheet I held and I decided- who am I to break a family tradition?
I placed down my own newly stolen painting on the floor. At least I had taken the time to unscrew the frame.
The priest of Thras stood resplendent in glittering golden rings and white robes before his gathered congregation. His followers in turn stood aghast at the necromancer and his undead servant who had only just come among them in the open amphitheater.
“Papa?” a young man half-whispered in horror and sadness.
“Tell him the truth,” Arith the Necromancer softly commanded of his raised zombie.
The emaciated half-decayed figure spoke to his son, “Theodan, forgive me. You were too young to remember, but I brought a curse upon us. When you were a child, a famine fell upon our land. There was no food and you were starving to death!” The zombie wailed.
When the zombie had quieted it spoke again, “It was I who slaughtered the god Thras’s sacred horse who was fattened upon the grass, and fed it to my family to save us. That is why we survived the famine. But Thras is a vengeful god. In death I found my spirit cursed. My face a mask of horse flesh, a speechless neigh my only scream. I had the shape of a twisted man-horse beast for my crime of killing and eating the sacred horse. But my crime falls upon you too, in death you will join me in half bestial crawling eternity. Thras will not forgive me though I begged him!”
“Merciful and righteous is Thras! All stand before him in judgement. Obey his holy will and you will not face such punishment,” shouted Thras’s priest.
“Oh yes,” Arith replied, “just is the god who leaves a man twisted and maimed even in death for long ages to come, only for saving his family in life. Who visits punishments even upon their children?”
Arith turned to the zombie saying, “I have given you back your voice and the shape you bore in life. I keep my promise to keep you from Thras’s punishment by keeping you here in this form as you asked of me.”
“Forgive me, my son. I love you,” said the zombie turning to follow Arith as they both left the gathered followers of Thras.
A magic jar
Father used to be the storyteller.
It has been decades now since he told me a special story.
One I must remember carefully but never can repeat.
A story of how the previous storyteller shared himself with an outsider.
Revealed to her the stories we vow to protect.
A crime that did not go unpunished.
He showed me the silver urn, covered in strange archaic symbols.
A prison for the traitor.
He told me to stay away from it, keep it shut no matter what.
He made me promise on my life.
I was a child, ten, maybe eleven.
He was my father.
So, I did.
He went on to teach me the stories of my people.
Every single one.
The stories have power.
They can start wars or end them.
They must be protected at all costs.
So that’s what I did.
The night they came.
They came with knives and eyes of rage.
They came with fire that they spread onto our grass-thatched roofs.
They came to ruin us.
The screaming of my people awoke me.
The smoke burning in my lungs warned me that we had to leave.
I rushed to save my father, found a dead man in his bed.
With pain in my heart, I tried to leave but the fire roared and licked at me from every direction.
They needed to survive!
Looking around, I got an idea.
I took the jar from the high shelf.
Placed it next to father’s bed
I then gently took his hand and apologized for breaking my promise.
I opened the lid.
Started whispering the stories, throughout the smoke and pain
To his father, my grandfather.
As the flames came closing in.
The urn was found by merchants, amidst the ruins of my village.
‘A magic jar’, they call it now.
It can tell stories!
Open it up and you’ll hear a voice that’s old and wise.
But listen very closely, and you can hear me too.
Eve couldn’t go to the courthouse, couldn’t bring herself to watch the coverage of the trial. For the first few weeks, her mother tried but usually left part way through in tears. So every night her father’s lawyer would come and give them a brief update of the day’s events: witnesses who had been called, evidence that had been presented, reactions from the jury.
He was an older gentleman, the lawyer, and he was always soft spoken with them, clear, and didn’t pull punches about the damaging evidence or the perceived outcome. She was sure he was doing his best, probably more than most defense attorneys would muster given the situation. He didn’t seem entirely convinced of her father’s innocence, but he trudged forward in his duty.
He assured them that her father was being protected. That the death threats were being taken seriously whenever they had to move him. Details about armed guards and bullet proof vests.
Her mother finally stopped going to the trial, unable to face the families of the eighteen missing girls her father was suspected of murdering, crimes that stretched back fifteen years. Unable to face the family of the girl only a few years younger than her own daughter, her picture a near constant in the courtroom, her father’s final victim, and currently the only one with enough evidence against him for the DA to press charges.
The lawyer suspected that the trial had two purposes, to win public trust back, and to get a guilty verdict so they could dangle a plea deal for a lighter sentence. The police wanted to recover the remaining bodies. The families wanted closure. The deal would come.
Eve hoped there would be no deal, no salvation for the monster whose blood was her own.
Because Eve knew two things that no one else did.
That her father’s first victim had been the family golden retriever when she was eleven, for which she had never forgiven him.
And that the final victim, the one for which he now finally stood trial, wasn’t one of his.
Sinful Creation (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
There was a law, which banned the creation of and experimentation on golems. A law, which was designed to protect people from the savagery apparently inherent in these automata made of stone.
Lilith Aerenhardt, herself a golem, was pondering this.
Her programming given to her by the man she called Father told her that to protect was her highest calling. To hunt those things, which those made of flesh and bone could not.
The Father, who had sinned by creating her.
“I’m sorry, Lilith,” Max said, standing next to her. “But you had a right to know.”
“Not just a right. I had to know. For strategic purposes.”
Her voice held a coldness, even she hadn’t known she was capable of.
“I’m sorry you found out this way.”
“What now, Max?”
For a moment, the exorcist didn’t say anything. Lilith braced herself. She waited for one of his vicious needles to pierce her granite skin or one of his hexes to break her like an egg.
“What now?” he simply said. “Well, that’s up to you now.”
“I’m a danger. Golems were banned for a reason. I’m banned… banned from existing.”
“And I was banned from fighting demons. For a while, at least.”
“My point is that you still have a choice.”
“My programming is my choice.”
Her emerald eyes met Max’s blood red. She had to do what was right, do what was required to keep people safe. Even from her. That was how it worked… Right?
“I’ve seen you question your so-called programming multiple times. And from what I know of Aerenhardt, he wanted it this way.”
“My Father still broke the law, when he made me.”
“And that was his crime, not yours. What you do with yourself is yours or your gift. Whichever you make it.”
There was a moment of silence.
“You have devoted your life to fighting monsters in the dark, where no one else can. That more than makes up for anything your Father did. Your creation may have been a sin. But your existence is not.”
Maddy’s Horrifically Wonderful Plan
by Lee Strangely
The night was warm, and the ground, with everything on it, damp. While the “Harrison County Cemetery” sign whipped around in the wind, bolts of lightning occasionally providing light. Beneath the wet grass and the slippery mud, Maddy dug deeper.
“Buford!” she shouted, “time?!”
Buford searched his dirt filled pockets while continuing to stare aimlessly into the pit below. He soon fished out an old pocket watch.
As another bolt lit the sky, he looked through its cracked glass, answering back, “Nine minutes… remaining.”
Another flash above revealed his pale complexion, along with the gaping hole where his right eye would’ve been, going on though and out the back of his head.
“I’ve got a good feeling about this one Buford,” Maddy declared while continuing to lob shovelfuls of earth into the air, “this one will be different!”
“How is this corpse, different, from the others?”
“I’m so glad you asked!” she bubbled, “Now first off, this is why I keep you around. Even without imagination or even feelings of any kind, you’re the only one that ever asks me things like this. And secondly, until now, I assumed the curse jumped to the nearest person when the intended victim died early. Though now I realize I wrong. There is a pattern…”
“What is, the pattern?” he grumbled.
“Blood Buford, the pattern is blood!” she explained with the excitement of an overly passionate school teacher, “when the target dies early, it then moves on to the nearest living relative, in this case me. In order to avoid it I just need to find another, closer, relative.”
“But, you are his, only living relative…”
“Not for long!”
The hit sent a jolt through the shovel and Maddy with it. She quickly brushed off the remaining soil to reveal the casket’s door. She immediately yanked it open.
“What better relative than the one who started this mess,” she muttered.
“BUFORD!” she demanded, “get the glowy crystal thing… and the jumper cables!”
As he complied, she stared at the body, “Sorry Dad… You opened this can of worms, now lie in it.”
What He Did
By Taja DaLeen
“Your Highness, I am so sorry for bothering you with this trivial problem.”
The young halfblood almost cowered before this demonic entity. He never thought he would find himself face to face with the ruler of the Other World. Everyone knew just how powerful they were.
Even more so than all those other higher demons currently present. Asmodis’ throne room pulsed with magic. It even curled around him in purple swirls.
Hesitantly he spoke up again. “Apparently there is a curse upon my family, I already consulted a witch. He said to lift it, I needed a strand of your hair, your Majesty.”
He was afraid. Asmodis still only regarded him with a look he couldn’t read, but seemed like they saw right into his soul. It made him squeamish, and his skin itchy.
Right when he thought it would be better to leave, for he couldn’t take any more staring, the High Demon of Magic spoke.
“And why is it that your family is cursed?”
He didn’t expect that question. And it did nothing to ease his nerves.
“I… am afraid I do not know.”
“Then find out, and come again after.”
The halfblood gulped, but didn’t dare say anything more. He just left in a hurry, his head low; almost like he had to flee the throne room.
A short while after, their second in command spoke up. “You know exactly who that was, no?”
Asmodis chuckled, resting their chin upon their palm. “Of course, I’d recognize those eyes everywhere. That was His kid.”
Astarte raised one of his eyebrows. To the demon lord it was obvious what he wanted to ask, they’ve known each other for more than long enough after all.
“Oh come on.” They laughed heartily. “Am I not allowed to have a little more fun with this?”
Their counterpart sighed. “Of course. But still, do you even intend to help the kid?”
“Sure I will.” Asmodis yawned, sprawling on their throne. “I just wanna know if he’ll come back; if he thinks what his father did can be forgiven at all.”
By: The Missing Link
“No? What do you mean no?”
“Really not many things it can mean. I’m not gonna do it.”
Father got that look in his eye, wonderful.
“Now son, I thought I made this…” I picked up my game. He’d be on this for hours, “Put that vile thing down. I’ve been telling you those things make you soft.”
“I like them.”
“I swear,” Father started.
“To who, God?”
He tried to regain his composure, but he was still fuming, quite literally too. “I’ve shown you your whole life, haven’t I? How they deserve it. I didn’t give you the internet for nothing.”
“I’ve met some nice people there.”
“Nice people,” he spat, “So nice people would get in the way of the very reason you were born.”
“Can we not go there again?”
“We’ll go wherever in hell I say we go.”
“Why? What did you ever do for me?”
“What? Do for you? I brought you into this world. I fed you, clothed you, taught you everything you know.”
“I made you that dog, didn’t I? A companion to help fulfill your true purpose.”
“It had seven heads and tried to eat my friends. What is it with you and giving everything seven heads?”
“Enough! I am your father, and you will do what I say!”
I sighed, “You know, my friends told me you were like this. I told them they were wrong… I guess I was the fool, but in the end, I choose my family, and I won’t choose wrong again. Begone Satan, and don’t ever dare to hurt them again.”
Waste not; Want not. (The Will)
“Remember, Zaila: the entire body can be used. The meat is meat—you know what to do with that, I’m sure! Bones can be boiled for broth. Hide can be used for clothes and in some cases, armour. The organs can be used as bait and depending on the monster, some specialty substances can be extracted and used in combat. You’re familiar with the neurotoxin produced by manticore barbs, yes? The head can be sold for quite the sum of cash if you’re short and find the right buyer. Yea, that’s it! Your knife skills are improving remarkably—you’re a quick study!”
His proud smile still haunted Zaila. Every corner of her memory was plagued with the image of his crooked teeth, lips wide with joy. Every bonfire reminded her of his hand on her head, patting the knowledge he had imparted to her deep into her very being. Every strand of black hair filled her heart with fool’s hope.
And now she was burning the bodies he left behind.
She could feel the eyes of hate from her countrymen and women standing behind her, rallying to the one person who could defeat the Sufferer. They had family torn from them—friendships that had lasted a lifetime gone in one evening. An entire city reduced to a display of architecture and nothing more. Anger and vengeance permeated the air as they awaited the torch in her claw to descend and light the mass grave.
But Zaila simply could not do it: she was still trying to process what had happened. The soft comfort of a feather ruptured the stasis of the dragoness’ mind. Zaila looked over to her avonis companion, her reassuring look reawakening the dragoness to the duty that must be performed.
As the corpses embodied the hate that irradiated Ol’en, Sage spoke kindly to her commander. “We’ll make him pay, your Highness.”
Zaila bit her lip and kept her remark to herself. No monster ever left a body behind, especially not Eymir.
So… why had he?
Skeletons in the closet.
“So those men kidnaped Mother, and are doing who knows what, with her, because you killed their comrades 90 years back?” Gerardo asked his father one couldn’t tell at first, but he was furious with him. Why didn’t his father tell him this? Why didn’t he say anything?
“You know son people like us carry old grudges? I was a double agent during the cold war, I made friends with them, a genuine friendship.” His father said his short red hair and beard didn’t conceal his leaf-like ears, however, like Gerardo, he carried special equipment in his ears to not suffer the consequences of their extremely strong senses “once I have all the info I….. I backstabbed them all.”
His son only shook his head in anger “How could you do that?! if it was genuine why didn’t you-!”
“Escape?” His father asked rhetorically, then they were followed up by tears “If I have gone rogue back then, they would track me down and have me killed!… I didn’t want you to grow fatherless.”
Gerardo was seeing the pleading eyes of his father, asking for forgiveness, they were the eyes of a tired veteran, perhaps that’s why he had night terrors and drank like a sailor.
Gerardo’s embers of anger subsided to a manageable level, but they were far from completely smothering the burning sensation in his chest.
“Just so we are Clear father, I. am. not. done with this conversation,” Gerardo the 25 years old elf has a determined look in his eyes “once we rescue mother, after this, you will tell me all of it!”
“Of course,… of course, you have all the rights to know,” His father said, ” but before we do it, I need to go to the house basement.”
“For what?” Gerardo asked.
“For my old equipment,” His father said with the same burning fire Gerardo has behind his eyes, yet more controlled, tranquil, like he suddenly changed from that imperfect. However, warm drunken man into somebody else.” this old man still had a trick up his sleeve son.”
You Reap What You Sow (It’s Always Sunny in Olympus: The Titan Years)
By Alexsander Edwards
The old farmer – or “Harvester,” as he’d rather be known- worked his fields with pride.
Swinging his scythe and cutting the crops felt natural to him. No, more than natural. The feeling went beyond bliss or joy. He was meant for this, born for it. Working the fields was his very nature, as far as he was concerned.
The Harvester stopped for a moment, pressing his left hand against his stomach, fighting a sudden burning sensation and pain. That feeling had become more and more common over the past few days, almost like he’d eaten a handful of rocks – no doubt a side-effect of his rather unconventional diet in recent months, though a necessary one. He wasn’t just a farmer, after all, but also a leader – and leaders must make certain sacrifices to stay in power.
Taking a deep breath, he looked up at the open skies. Their endless blue tapestry painted with white specks always reminded him of his father, for better or worse. Something in him made him hate that man, once driving him to violence. He’d taken one of his trusty scythes and attacked his own father, who was now deposed – though not truly dead, given his divine status.
The Harvester blinked. Something in the sky – a small speck – caught his attention. It appeared to increase in size the more he watched, slowly taking shape. Was that… a man?
Two powerful sources of light emanated from the sides of the falling man, who slowly came more and more into focus as gravity brought him downwards. The falling man’s face took form – he didn’t look any older than seventeen, albeit with a perfectly-chiseled beard that implied a much older age.
The bearded man’s eyes focused on the Harvester, who slowly realized the bright lights came from two bolts of lightning held like spears.
The wind howled past the man’s head, stroking his geometric beard and announcing his presence. He aimed his bolts at the Harvester’s stomach, and, once he knew his voice would be heard, he yelled: “Cowabunga!”
Does he know yet? (Helen’s Tale)
By Tamela Redfin
It was night when I heard a knocking at the door. I opened it to feel my blood freeze. “Hallo Helen.”
“W-what are you doing in my apartment?” I stammered.
“I wanted to talk about something. It’s Nora.” He grinned.
“What about her? Also, I told you…”
“From a scientific approach, she looks more like if you combined our DNA than if you combined your DNA with Maxwell’s. Very pale skinned.”
“Pure coincidence.” I replied, trying to remain even toned, despite my rapid heartbeat.
“Really? Look at your other daughter, Mally. She looks a lot like your husband. Also…” He winked, “Remember that one night in Snos?”
I collapsed under my own weight. “Augen…please.”
“So she is mine? Why don’t I see my beautiful daughter? She’s not like my grey skinned bastards.”
I used the doorframe to hoist myself up. “No! She will never meet you.”
“Why not? I could raise her to be my lab partner. Daddy’s little girl.”
“That doesn’t even sound like you! Listen! When I was a kid, my parents split because they thought Cora wasn’t theirs. I’m not splitting a family so you can live some twisted fantasy and brainwash MY DAUGHTER.”
He took a step back. “Even when I’m good I’m still the bad guy.”
“Good guy? Do you remember what you did? Get out or I will tell Cora you broke in. I also have cameras so this time she’ll believe me.”
“Geez fine.” He muttered something and left. This wouldn’t be over.
I peeked into Nora’s room to see her fast asleep. She’ll never suffer like I did. I told myself.
A Legacy Withering In Sunlight (Nyx’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
My father was a good man. Some would even say a great man.
He was born within the deep depths of the earth, where his entire clan had once lived. Their lives were harsh, uncertain, and short – to die of old age was a privilege hard-earned.
He was stubborn, ambitious, willing to take risks that nobody else would. So one day, he strode out into the beyond, and higher than any of his people had ever reached.
He was the first of his clan to see sunlight in over a thousand years. But rather than flee into the surface’s warm embrace, he chose to turn back. To lead his entire damn clan up to see the sky.
He saved them all. The Murnor clan lives longer and happier than ever before.
But after all that? He found Mother. And he brought me into being.
Me. Stubborn, like him. Ambitious, like him. Reckless and uncaring of whatever risk, just as he once was.
But unlike him, I didn’t have anywhere to place my ambitions. Nothing to aim for, nothing to work towards. How do I climb to the surface to gain a better life, when I already started there to begin with?
He wanted me to be happy. But I was too stubborn to accept that happiness.
The dangers he faced didn’t scare him enough to stop. And what I saw, what I did, wasn’t enough to stop me either.
His ambition was to save his entire clan. My ambition only served to better myself.
He climbed and climbed, and in the end he got to see the sun. I climbed and climbed, and now the sun hurts my eyes with but the slightest glance.
How many people did he save? Dozens, maybe even a hundred?
…and how many people have I killed?
My father was a good man. His quirks and his traits are what made him the hero of my clan.
But I inherited those same traits, that same nature he possessed. And in my bloodied hands, those marks of a hero became the flaws of a monster.
Bloodline (The Depths Files)
By ThatWeirdFish, and reviewed by Alex. (CW: Violence and Coarse Language)
Flying in the city was always risky because of his underdeveloped wings, but Snuffles needed it tonight. He grimaced and pushed himself faster, twisting through scaffolding and around corners as the wind seared his frustration away.
The ambush struck while Snuffles swerved next to an opera house. He and his assailant crashed into the stonework with a sickening crunch as Snuffles’ right horn snapped on impact. Grabbing the nearest window ledge as they fell, he swung through the glass and rolled hard to dislodge his attacker.
They clung to him as hunter and prey tumbled over the dance studio floor. Snuffles staggered to his feet and grunted in pain as the attacker sunk their fangs into his neck. That and the stench of their musky perfume cued Snuffles into precisely who he was fighting.
“Rotten leech!” He yelled and slammed his back into the railing and mirror wall to his right. The vampire gasped and slumped off, but Snuffles knew that even a broken back wouldn’t stop this bastard.
“You’ve… gotten better….” The pale figure wheezed as his spine snapped back into place.
“What do you want, Absalom?” Snuffles snarled, his fists raised and wings pinned close in a fighting stance above him.
“Come now. I’m sure your family taught you a grander vocabulary than that.” Absalom chuckled dryly and cracked his neck.
“I know yours forgot to teach you manners.”
“And yours neglected honor, just like your father.”
Absalom dusted the glass shards off his sleeves before attempting to stand. An action savagely denied by Snuffles’ fist to his face.
“He had more honor in his shit than your pathetic clan ever had!”
Absalom growled and kicked Snuffle’s knees out from under him. The demon fell and rolled to face Absalom, posed like a lion threatening to pounce with wings fanned out slightly on instinct.
Absolom stood back deftly, haloed by the moonlight bleeding into the room. There was a tense moment as Absalom’s cold golds glared down into Snuffle’s rose pinks, sharp breaths the only sound echoing in the space.
“Bold words for a murderer’s son,” Absalom hissed.
Be Certain Thy Sins Will Find Thee Out (A Tiefling Tale/Cordelia’s Journey) [From Private]
C. M. Weller
Two guards were holding his hands on a specially commissioned artifact. Two more guards kept him on his knees before his worst nightmare become flesh. The spawn of the Whitekeep Curse sat above him on the Blood Throne.
His firstborn son. EARL Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of the name. Lighting the Earl’s hall to its fullest with the blood-red light. A sign that he had earned his title.
“Valliant Stormwight Hallowfine Whitekeep, third of the name. Baronet of Arachis,” the title for retired Earls. “You have heard evidence authenticated by the stone of truth before you.”
How much had that abomination paid to have this thing made? Petrified wood that was imbued and engraved with the oldest and strongest magical sigil for truth. Valiant knew for a fact that anyone touching it could not lie by any means. Not even by telling the incomplete truth.
Trust a Tiefling to know about lies.
“You have heard testimony and truth from everyone around you,” the Demon Lord of Whitekeep continued. “From the lowest Castle Boy through your serving staff, and even unto the Marchess Bellarin, who you deceived to cause another harm. Against. Your. Oath. Even your Barons have found you to be an oathbreaker, a deceiver, a traitor to the realm, and a vile, vainglorious vermin turned human being. I ask you now, before all you have betrayed, what truths do you have to your defense?”
He wanted to say so much. He wanted to plead to the gods that he had done everything he could to prevent the curse and his prophecy from coming to light.
What he SAID was the unfortunate truth, “I never wanted to be the Earl who fathered a Demon Lord. I was more concerned with my image than my people! I thought myself forsworn when you drew your first breath, so I discounted all my other vows on purpose. I blamed everyone around me except myself, including a newborn babe and the woman who birthed him.”
“I… cannot condemn you,” said the demon on the Blood Throne. “I leave your judgment to the council.”
Why Are You Running?
Lilith backed away. Her eyes widened. The color drained from her face.
“Lilith… relax…” Matt said calmly as he entered the office. “I’m not-”
“Matthew, PLEASE! I know I lie and cheat and sure I’ve killed and tortured people, but who hasn’t? Please just… give me a little more time!”
“Lilith, I’m not here to kill you…”
“…oh.” Lilith’s demeanor remained skeptical as she hid behind her desk.
“Look… I’m sorry I couldn’t give you what you wanted. But I can still give you… something…”
Lilith raised an eyebrow. “Okay… I’m officially intrigued…”
Matt made his way around the desk and despite Lilith’s clear apprehension, he got close enough to place his hand on her belly.
Lilith’s eyes widened again as she felt Matt’s magic permeating her body and then fading as quickly as it began. “What did you… do to me?”
“I broke that stupid curse ‘Bob’ put on you. That any children you have will always be monsters. It was stupid, petty, and cruel.”
Lilith’s shocked expression remained. “But… that curse was Father’s will… You can’t just-”
“Eh. What’s he going to do?” Matt shrugged. “Kill me? I’m the horseman of Death. She’d just bring me back. And anything else would just delay his beloved apocalypse so… to Hell with his will.”
Lilith looked down at her belly and then back to Matt as a sly smirk formed on her face. “Okay then. So… were we going to do this here or did you want a hotel or something?”
“Do wha-?” Matt began before realizing Lilith’s implication. “No! I’m doing this to right a wrong and for no other reason!”
Lilith grinned even wider. “Well how else am I going to know it worked? Are you just talk? Where’s your conviction?”
Matt stared at her blankly. “You were terrified of me five minutes ago.”
“Now now, Matthew. Kink shaming is rude. You’re better than that.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “I’m leaving now.”
“Oh come on, Matthew. I just want to enjoy my life before you kill me!” Lilith called after Matt, who was already halfway down the hall.
Father Knows Best (A Song for: Abraham)
by Lunabear (TW: Domestic Abuse) (Private Repost)
“You CAN’T send me there, Father!” Abraham’s eyes clenched shut. His entire body vibrated with his racing heartbeat. “This is my home, my lif–”
“Enough.” Isaac’s tenor exuded such force that he didn’t have to yell. “You will do what is best for your future.”
Abraham turned desperate, green eyes to the woman sitting at the table. She hummed loudly while knitting, her hands shaking.
Isaac stood between his wife and son. “This does not concern Bethany.”
Abraham made a fist and imagined slamming it into his father’s nose. He took a deep breath to cool his rage. It didn’t help.
“I lead with grace, humility, and tradition. The members of this community EXPECT those same values from this family. For what are we without grace? Who are we if not for humility? Where do we follow without tradition?”
Abraham lifted his head, pleading understanding. “But I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Not yet. If I have any say, you will not. I see your lustful gaze, how it wanders to him when you feel unwatched. That disgusting blush.” Isaac’s face twisted.
An image of Luther flashed through Abraham’s head. His heart pounded, and he yearned for the security of his friend’s embrace.
“You will continue my legacy. Dutiful son. Capable husband. Strong father. Do you understand?”
Tears raced down Abraham’s cheeks, but his teeth were bared. “I. Won’t. Go.” His fist collided with the table.
Isaac advanced, towering over Abraham. His light green eyes filled with menace as he pitched his voice low. “I have never once spared the rod. I will not hesitate to use it again. You will go to Faithful Redemption and get your thinking”-Isaac punctuated this by jabbing a callused finger against Abraham’s temple-“straight. Otherwise, you will not have a home to return to.”
Abraham cast a hopeful look to his mother, but she was hunched over with her hands cradling her face.
Isaac held Abraham’s chin in a punishing grip, forcing his attention back. “Say. It.”
Abraham swallowed. “Du-dutiful s-son.” Ragged breaths. “Capable husb-band.” Uncontrollable tears. “Str-strong fa-father.” His heart shattered.