In the beginning...
We think the Big Bang was the beginning of life; in some ways, it was, in other ways, it was the end.
We assume that there was nothing before the Big Bang, when in fact there was. This is a story about before there was us. Back even before the Big Bang. Before life, as we know it was even contemplated.
Before life began-Trillions of years ago, there were only two things, Light and Darkness.
Light was kind and generous, but Darkness was mean, cruel and unforgiving, he hated everything about Light, he hated her so much that he had tried to kill her multiple times, but without Light, there cannot be shadows and without shadows, darkness has no place.
So Darkness kept his rage and hate to himself. Soon enough though it became rather dull. Light started to wish she could have a “body”, something solid to make herself feel alive, so she conjured up a spell that transformed her into a beautiful “woman”, Darkness, of course, became jealous of Light's beauty and so turned himself into a devilishly handsome “man”.
Light for the first time in her life felt free and fresh and new. Darkness surprised himself with how amazing it felt to be whole, but as soon as he saw Light he cursed himself at how gorgeous she looked, for in his dark, cold heart he felt something he hadn’t before… he felt love.
It took thousands of years of embarrassment, on Darkness's part, before Light loved him too. When Light finally told Darkness how she truly felt, he was overjoyed.
A few years later Light and Darkness had a beautiful daughter, which they named Universe. So Darkness and Light gave birth to the Universe. When Universe was born Light wanted to give her a place to rule over, so Light created stars to make it bright and with those stars, she created galaxies, in those galaxies she put Planets and on those Planets she put life.
She named this place after her daughter, she named it ‘The Universe’.
As Universe grew older, life on those planets evolved. Universe felt like a queen over her kingdom and strived to protect the life on those planets. Thousands of years passed before the Universe saw any intelligent life. On Universes 1,000,000th birthday, basically 19yrs, she disguised herself to look like one of the beings on one of the planets and traveled to it. When she arrived she nearly cried. This planet was the most beautiful place she had ever seen in her life.
It was so beautiful she named it Vakker, which means beautiful in Larkian (The language of the immortals)
Whilst she was visiting Vakker she came across a Prince, his name was Nackah. She was curious to learn more about these people, and their cultures and pretend she was a traveler called Xia, she asked Nackah if it’d be okay if he showed her around and teach her their ways. Although the Prince was a little creeped out by her sudden appearance, he was more than happy to show her around, he took her to the main town called Ferzion. The wooden stalls of the marketplace had been positioned in the middle of the town, and houses and shops lined the outskirts of the bazaar, in between the houses and shops were dark alleyways, the walls were covered in amazing paintings, the smells that emanated from the marketplace made Universes-Xia's mouth water.
“I know it doesn’t look like much, but everyone here is kind and honest, and the food is just AMAZING!” His voice was enchanting, she thought, full of wonder and excitement. It was truly charming.
“It’s beautiful! So vibrant and colourful, so much nicer than the run-down old place where I come from!”
“Oh, and where is that?” his voice was so lovely she barely heard what he had asked. SHIT! She thought to herself, where was she from? “Um...I come from a tiny town called Selal, it’s um… across the water on an island called Rosediac Key...Do you know it?” He looked at her with his dark blue eyes, a lock of silver hair falling across his chiseled face. The sun reflecting off his silvery hair gave him an almost angelic look, after what seemed like eons he said “No, no, I've never heard of Selal or um...Rosdaiak Key? Was it?”
“Rosediac Key. But it’s okay, I didn’t expect you to. No one except those who live there knows about us!” she smiled at him and he blushed. “Hey um… Do you maybe want to get a bite to eat with me?” His eyes wouldn’t look at her but she could still see the glimmer of anticipation in them. “Sure! It’d be hard to refuse… I mean you are the prince” Suddenly she regretted saying it as the glimmer disappeared from his eyes and his smile turned into a line, “Oh… I mean you don’t have to… I thought you just might like to but I don’t want you to think that you have to just because I’m the prince”,
“No! I’d never… Ugh… I mean… um… I’d… I’d… I’d love to… to… to go with you. Please forgive me for my rudeness!” Her eyes fell to his feet and her palms became sweaty. What the fuck was I thinking ‘I mean you are the prince!’... CRAP! What have I done? I’ve ruined everything! Then she felt his hand on her shoulder and two fingers on her chin tilting her head up so her eyes met his, a single warm tear streaked down her face; he wiped it away with his thumb. Her heart was running a marathon inside her chest, bu-bum, bu-bum, bu-bum…
His eyes searched hers and she could see the glimmer again, she smiled inside when she saw it and she was pretty sure Nackah saw it in her eyes. She nearly laughed out loud, he wasn’t mad at her This is Amazing she thought “Okay!” he said taking her by surprise “Let’s go!” he smiled making her relax. She smiled back and said, “Yes, lets”. As they walked through the marketplace, where people were selling a wide variety of things from silks and satins to spices that tickled the noses of every passing person, Universe gathered in all the sights and smells around her, a warm feeling spread across her and she felt as if she was finally home.
Nackah stopped at a stall selling bread, wine, and olives. He bought 24Ls worth of bread and 48Ls worth of wine after Nackah had paid the man he went to a stall that sold cheese, ham, and beef.
When they had finished in the marketplace Nackah took Universe to a garden in an out-of-the-way spot that overlooked the town of Ferzion. They sat down on a log that lay in the shadow of an elegant old Oak tree, it’s leaves covering the footpath that ran in a circle around the edge of the gardens. The log they’d sat on was covered in moss and fungi, the Prince lay a cloth over a section of the log and motioned for her to sit, when she did he took up a spot next to her, he then handed her two slices of the bread they had bought from the Bazaar earlier that day and opened the packet of meats that they had acquired from the second stall and offered it to her, Universe smiled at him and took a couple of pieces of ham and sandwiched them between the two pieces of soft bread. The taste of the salty meat between the crunchy bread was unlike anything she had ever experienced before it was truly exquisite.
By the time that they had finished their picnic, the sun was starting to set below the horizon, turning the sky a salmon pink colour “It’s beautiful” said Universe breathily “I have never seen anything quite like this” as she said this she turned to her side and saw his eyes fixed on her and immediately she felt herself blush as she turned away to look back up at the darkening sky. 20 minutes passed in complete silence… A very awkward 20-minute silence. All that was going through Universe’s mind was Why?... Why am I blushing so much? I’ve only just met Nackah! I can’t feel anything for him, it's too cruel! I’m an immortal and he isn’t… keep yourself together Universe, don’t lose you cool. “So when do you go back?” Nackahs question made Universe jump “I’m not sure… I was going to stay at least 6 Winters. But I still don’t know where I’m going to stay…” she paused, breathed deeply, and turned towards Nackah, she looked into his ocean eyes and said, “You wouldn’t know of any good places?’
“Yes, I know of many. How much would you be willing to pay?” his question, although a simple one, stopped Universe dead in her tracks “I...I um… I don’t have any money, I gave it all to the boatman who took me across The sea between here and Rosediac key, I…” before she could finish, Nackah cut her off, he had a look of suspicion on his face “The… The B...b...Bot....temless Waters! How could I have been so foolish? I let my feelings get to me! You should leave here, I cannot help you!” Universe was so confused
What? What is he talking about? What's so bad about ‘The Bottomless Waters?’ “What do you mean you can’t help me!” she asked “What’s so bad about The Bottomless Waters?” she hoped he would give her a straight answer “Surely if you traveled across it you’d know?”
If only I could tell him that I know nothing about this place! “No, the bargeman never mentioned anything to me about them… even still the town that I come from isn’t very well educated…” she stopped for a minute and inhaled deeply “And that's why I’m here, to learn” he looked at her, his dark eyes penetrating her soul, searching. Searching for, what she thought, a sign she wasn’t who she said she was. The sky seemed to darken around them as they lay, motionless, on the now rather damp ground, the only thing that she was aware of. The only thing she could sense. Was him
Once Nackah had finished his ‘soul staring’, he sighed and sat up, the grass was sticking to his back making him look like a hedgehog with spines on his back. “Fine I’ll tell you, but after you know you must promise me you will never. NEVER! Cross that sea again” he didn’t look at her he just stared out into the night “Um…”
“PROMISE ME XIA! please” she sat up and looked at him, he turned to her tears welling in his eyes “Please…” he sobbed “No one who leaves here and travels across The Bottomless Waters has ever reached the other side” he wiped away a stray tear from his cheek and continued “I lost both my parents to that dark abyss… I never want to be put through that kind of pain again, so please don’t go” Universe was completely stunned “I...uh…I promise I won’t leave. At least I won’t travel across The Bottomless Waters again… Now tell me, what is so bad about them?” he breathed and his tears seceded, the wind whistled gently through the trees, orange leaves floated silently down and landed softly on the dew, dropping to the ground.
“The story, that is said to be true, isn’t a nice one, to say the least. When I was a boy before my parents died, I knew a man, his name was Alik. When I was small Alik was banished, but when I went to my father about it he told me that Alik was a bad man who had betrayed the crown, so he sent him to an island called Bredengus Island. It’s a place where people who’ve committed crimes go. Away from, what my father calls, ‘civilized’ people. Whilst he was traveling over the sea he sent me a message telling me he was sorry for everything, that was the last time I ever heard from him… His body washed up three weeks later, he had red scratches on his face and dark green circles on his middle and lower body. The doctors didn’t know what happened, they’d never seen anything like it before. A few summers later my father and mother were summoned to the far Isles of Baywatch, for a trade agreement or something, the reports say they hit coral and sunk but when the wreckage washed up on Dog’s Eye beach it was covered in dark purple circles and the bodies had been ripped.” Nackah paused for breath, then continued, “After the funeral, we cut off all trade to the islands south of The Bottomless Waters, instead we began trading with the Suranha in the south-east, on the continent Tesail, home to the warrior council of Zannar… Do you know much of the council?”
“No… I cannot say that I do know much about them?” replied Universe in a quiet, thinking voice, she was still looking out towards the horizon, the moon was a huge white disk in the sky, it’s light glistened off the rippling sea below them. The rest of the sky looked as if it had been dusted with glitter.
“Well then that is a story for another time, you must be famished. We've been here for the best part of 3 hours. “Please,” he said standing up and extending his hand towards her, “Come, Xia, please come with me to my castle, you can have some food and get some sleep, it would save what little money you have left” she turned towards him and smiled up at him, she took his hand and he pulled her to her feet “I’d be happy to, but…” she indicated to her attire, she was wearing a blue and grey dress, done up with black, circular buttons and a yellow ribbon tied in a bow at the back, on her feet were two black, strapless shoes with white souls, “I’m not sure that my outfit is fit for a royal hall, I’m going to need a different dress… if that’s not too much to ask?”
“No of course not! I’m sure we could find one of my mum's old dresses or something” and with that, he led her back through the park and towards the castle.
The castle itself was a magnificent, tall building topped with pointed spires whose golden roofs glistened and shone in the moonlight. They walked over the dark wooden drawbridge and under the sharp portcullis. The air was cold and it made Universe shiver, goosebumps pricked her bare skin and she huddled closer to Nakah for warmth “Is it always this chilly here?” she asked with a partial chuckle
“Ha! Yes, unfortunately, c'mon we’re almost there” they walked a little longer through the large courtyard, that was dotted with clay houses with thatched roofs until they got to the grand double doors where a man dressed in a long grey robe and square hat stood, he had coffee skin and black eyes “Master Nakah how was your day? Who is the young lady?” his voice was smart and he looked at Universe with suspicious eyes
“Oh! Vinor meet Xia, Xia meet Vinor, my butler”
“Evening sir” and she bowed “it is pleasure to make your acquaintance” she smiled at him and he bowed back, gracefully, “And you miss Xia, please follow me, the table is being set and, with respect sir, you need to clean yourself up. And I’m sure that your young friend here would like a change of clothes”
“Yes, that would be amazing, thank you,” said Universe
Vinor lead them through a grand hallway, large white and gold drapes hung from rafters above them and a long maroon carpet ran from the door to a pair of huge double doors at the end of the hallway, along the edge of the carpet were, well-polished suits of armor some were holding large swords with diamonds and rubies on the hilt, others were holding battle axes and spears. Universe looked around in awe. “It’s quite a sight isn't it?” Nakah asked, smirkingly
“Yes, it is” replied Universe breathlessly “It’s beautiful! So elegant and grand… amazing!”
After about 10 minutes they reached a tall mahogany staircase at the end of the hallway, the staircase had the same maroon carpet, that ran along the length of the corridor, on it. The stairs creaked in protest as they walked up to them.
When they reached the top of the stairs, they walked along another long passageway, on either side were large wooden doors which, Universe suspected, led off to bed chambers.
At last, they stopped in front of a huge white door, which Vinor indicated to be Universes room. Universe started in awe at the beautifully carved wooden door, she marveled at the intricate shapes and symbols, the knots and patterns all sparkled with a golden shine. Universe reached out for the doorknob, it turned smoothly, and the door opened, Universe gasped when she saw inside: The room inside had been painted pale blue, a large bed adorned the left wall, on the right was a Yellow and red stained glass window with the outline of what looked like a sunset on it, the light from the moon was shining through and it gave the room an orange tinge.
Universe walked over towards the bed. Next to the bed was a large wooden chest, inside the chest was a beautiful navy blue and gold dress. Universe picked it up and caressed it in her hand and its soft material fell through her fingers. As she pulled it out of the chest a folded piece of paper fell onto the floor, with curious eyes and a cocked head, Universe picked up the piece of paper and unfolded it, it was a picture of two people, a man and a woman in elegant clothing, the woman was holding a baby between them, Universe smiled at the photo then folded it back up again, placing it back into the chest, she then proceeded to change into the dress. The dress flowed down to the floor in ocean-like ripples, and it fitted her like a glove.
Once she had changed she made her way to the main hall, as soon as she opened the door everyone stopped. The butlers who were placing crockery and cutlery on the table turned and stared in amazement, the maid that was lighting the fire stood up and gave her an ice-cold stare, now feeling very self-conscious she began to cover herself up when she was jumped from behind by Nakah, “Ahh!” she screamed and the maid who was lighting the fire snickered, only to pail and look down when Nakah glared at her before whispering to Universe, “Hey, it’s only me, calm down”
“Don’t do it again, please?” she said in a quiet voice, then she felt Nackah’s hand in hers, turning her around and a hand on her chin, tilting her head up, forcing her to look at him, he smiled at her- it was a warm smile and his eyes were twinkling in the candlelight. Nakah opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by the loud ringing sound of a bell- indicating that food was about to be served. Turning, Universe saw row upon row of cold meats, fruits, cheeses, slices of bread, wines; even the body of what looked like a large hairy boar with two huge grey-green teeth protruding from its mouth, its fur was a mustard yellow colour and it was flecked with brown spots. Everything smelled amazing, a small lady with ebony black hair, tied in a messy knot on top of her head, cobalt-blue eyes and dressed in a white dress lead Universe and Nakah towards the table where a man in a tuxedo pulled out two chairs and motioned for them to sit down. Cautiously Universe, being led by Nakah by the hand, walked over to one of the chairs and sat down. There was a loud creak as she sat down, causing Nakah to laugh and Universe to blush momentarily, Nakah noticed it but said nothing; he only smiled.
They ate mostly in silence, every now and then the silence would be broken by a cough or the sound of the bell signifying the end of one course and the start of the next, Nakah felt awkward, it was the first time since his mother and father died, that he’d had someone else in the palace. It was even worse because she was a girl.
Universe jumped as the bell for the fourth course rang, she sighed she was already so full who mortal food could be so... satisfying? The next course though was different because instead of the chefs bringing out more savory they started bringing out cakes! There were ones with pink and white icing and there were others with bright blue icing and small white hearts. Even though Universe was almost completely full, her mouth was watering at the sight. “Xia, are you okay?” asked Nakah, Universe hadn’t noticed but she was drooling, wiping her mouth, she replied
“Oh, yeah I’m fine. It all looks so amazing”
“Yeah, they do”
After the final course was served and the table was cleared, Nakah stood up and held his hand out to Universe expectantly “So, would you like to dance?” his deep blue eyes searching hers hopefully.
“I’d love to but I don’t know how” she looked down, sad. She felt his hand touch her shoulder
“I’ll teach you, it’s easy,” he said, soothingly. She looked up at him, his smiling face looked back at her, she smiled back and stood up and smoothed down her dress, she took his outstretched hand and let him lead her toward the empty ballroom floor.
They danced for hours in each other's arms, every now and then Universe would stand on Nakah’s feet and he’d wince, but he kept going, smiling the entire time they danced.
When Universe reached her room she nearly collapsed in the doorway. She and Nakah had danced and danced, sometimes with her head on his chest other times, she was looking up at him. She smiled at the thought as she removed her dress and put on a pale yellow nightdress that, she suspected, a maid had laid out for her at some point during the evening. It was comfortable and the material was soft.
As she began to close her eyes she thought about her mother and father and smiled. Mentally she thanked them for bringing her into this place.