I am broken. You, readers, have seen hitherto my capacity for divulging and testifying to my abilities as a writer. Let me then change the pace and perhaps make due on a portion of my acclimations. Following lies the first two chapters of my book: The Rudimentum Series: Aeon Eternal. On June 12, 2012 I was sitting in an easy chair in my uncles cabin alone for three days; writing the first 6,000 words of my book. I rustled some names and protagonists, I created and conjured some bad people and even more bad demons and stuff (you know, the supernatural) and literally took out one of my many journals, took a lead pencil and drew some lines on the page and created an entire planet (or at least that known planet [foreshadow!]) Aside from this, I just basically sat down and started writing. Obviously this is a fair amount of reading: well, it’s a book; a novel; longer than the first Harry Potter book by 6,000 words. If you don’t like it, tell me why, because everyone who has yet to read it—including a professional critic and interviewer (you can find her interview of me on Youtube: my page is D.B. Keosababian and look for Blog Talk Radio with Carol Francis—either liked it given their none-reading nature of fantasy or novels otherwise, or they said that it was absolutely phenomenal. If you doubt me or think otherwise, tell me, please. If not, if perhaps this sample triggers your interest and you want to read more, for God’s sake, for my sake and the sake of my fiancé of whom I just want to live with in a nice place with the earnings of the thousands—yes, thousands at least—of other books already written in my head, merely awaiting my retrieval of them. Please, consider it, buy it and review it: The Rudimentum Series, Aeon eternal already published and the sequel, Paradisium, I now edit, await the resources that I may write the third installment and the fourth and the fifth, and the sixth and the… now that I think about it, let me see…. I don’t necessarily have enough time to access all the books on the Rudimentum Series in my Athenium and verily read them. But, let me concentrate and see if I can at least guess how many books are in just this series alone. Just a moment…
Oh, considering that this series marks the genesis of what I wish to write, it would seem that my subconscious placed the entire series in a special archive; separate from the main bulk of my library. The archive is about as large as a decent two bedroom hotel room, much like you would find in Las Vegas. There are about four to five shelves per wall (four walls) filled with the tomes of the entire series. It must be in the vicinity of three, four or even five hundred installments. Please, don’t insult my intelligence and claim to say that I jest; that my methods are comical and naïve. I’m not here to mock, jest or entertain flights of fancy: I being perfectly literal: I have a cognitive athenium absolutely filled with more books than the world itself has in existence. I’ll never be able to transpose each one to this world. I will have to finish my work in Heaven. All the same, the amount of work, both fiction and none-fiction (children’s stories as well, fyi) for which I am able to transpose here on earth depends on how eager or perhaps anxious you as the readers wish to read them. The more you help support me, my passion for writing and the cause which will open up the door to great books and stories, the more I will be able to transpose. I shall end with this so you can get to the meat of this expatiated post: they are making a third Bill and Ted’s Excellent Journey…. Read these first two chapters of the absolute beginning for which lies ready to be written in my athenium and tell me if you would rather read or even perhaps watch a movie about the succeeding, or watch a remake of a Keanu Reeves movie (great actor, though! One of my favorites). What if they remake Back to the Future?!
(Note: this version is unedited. The final draft is a document not meant for casual reading because of the editorial marks. The final draft can be read via the purchasing of my book. Thank you).
The rampantly creaking woodwork of lumber aboard the floating prison Arsum was attempting to sleep in yielded as much comfort as a bed of grainy scraping sand and as much silence as a rowdy rambunctious tavern at the climax of a celebratory holiday; its patrons under no other disposition than to drink themselves into a deletion of memory. Heavy rain from the previous day had soaked the wood of the ship which had been improperly stained and was beginning to reek of mold and mildew. The crew and captain were delving deeply and merrily into the ship’s indeed limited stores of ale and mead. The fumes of old alcohol and rank tobacco were seeping into Arsum’s cabin and mercilessly contaminating his unfortunate sense of smell with its hideous odor. The desire was to achieve sleep in the young man’s cabin, but, at the prospect that not only another storm was building, (Arsum had sailed long enough to read the patterns of the clouds and almost always predict a storm) the sailors and even the captain might also be unaware and moreover unable to in any way conquer this upcoming tempest. Their drinking intensely of the black and muggy ale and the smoking of their thick and malodorous weed – almost enough to have put Arsum in a fury of throwing the grog overboard – had inebriated all the men greatly. Some of them, as the juvenis, Arsum, had heard, had actually fallen over themselves in a drunken stupor. Others had difficulty in forming complete sentences (or words). One of them was snoring as a call of a heated bear might sound. Arsum had his sincere doubts about the effort to be had in the overcoming of the soon-to-be storm and also the crew’s and captain’s competence to successfully get through it, much less any hope for sleep. It was two hours before sunrise and the thunder was drawing steadily nearer.
Arsum took the moments before the arrival of the squall to contemplate whether he should inform the ignorant crew that the ship’s journey was about to grow rougher. Even if the captain discovered for himself the ever growing tumultuousness of the sea, his want of sobriety would surely send the ship to the depths of the water’s dark and deep grave; the ship itself could be the mausoleum. Arsum had witnessed firsthand the dire effects of alcohol and its potent narcosis; putting men, grown men, in a blind, idiotic and blubbering daze that inhibits even the most basic and essential of motor functions. Arsum did indeed take to drinking, but with the drinking in the other room, enough to numb a titan in its anesthetic effect or precipitate a drowning apocalypse on the earth, the comparison to how much the juvenis drank as opposed to his epicurean companions was very significant. Arsum prided himself on his temperance and portioning of his drink.
The ship began rocking more fervently, the wood creaked all the more loudly and the thunder was in precarious proximity. Arsum very quickly began to recognize that very familiar percussive patter of raindrops striking a surface in a progressively accelerating tempo. Thus he roused himself, threw on some loose garments and flung open his cabin door. With sunrise as near as it was and the shore of Regonis Mulsi as close as he had hoped, Arsum exhaled a sigh which doubled as a small yet profound prayer and set out to the main deck. All the crew and the captain were passed out; lying stupidly upon the wooden floor of the second deck and completely oblivious to the roaring of the waves and the crashes of white lightening bright enough for even the blind to probably see. Arsum’s only chance for literally surviving the next several hours was in throwing the cabin boys into the fray of the fire and guide the ship under his command. Although most likely under the influence of their small share of grog themselves, Arsum had a sure understanding of their ration and knew that, if these cabin boys wished to partake in grog throughout the whole journey and not run out, they would have to ration it down to the last fluid ounce and not squander their supply: they were certainly sober enough.
Arsum broke through the threshold of the small closet-like space reserved for the lowly cabin boys. Their hammocks were stacked so closely and densely together that the canvases looked more like bags of food swinging to and fro like white sacks of suspended flour in dry storage. The stink of the boys’ quarters was rank, for their room had no portholes and the door hardly ever remained open. Trying very hard not to gag, Arsum aroused the rabble of deck-swabers by banging against the wall, the floor and the door and yelling at the top of his lungs. Arsum took it upon himself to even strike moderately a couple of boys whose narcolepsy was at its apex; needing to do so for being unable to awaken them in any other way.
“A curse upon your heart, you insolent wretch!” cried one in protest.
“Son of the Five Fiends, damn you for breathing, you slack-jawed cur!” cussed another.
“What in the name of…!” and this one actually lunged blindly at Arsum with his bare hands. Having a history of trials by fire, melee combats and his share of duels of steel, Arsum grappled his assailant with ease, given the delirium of his attacker, pinned him to the damp and moldy wooden floor and stated his command to all the members of the odorous cabin whilst holding his opponent in tight submission.
“By the bending of the heavens that now come crashing upon us, fools, our crew and captain are drunk and down. If you wish to die, return to your sleep… you will never awaken. For those who wish to perpetuate their puny lives a little longer, take your miserable hands on the deck and prepare for a challenge to conquer.”
“And who are you, worm, to give such an order?” this cynical question came more as a gurgle from the pinned and partially choking cabin boy held by Arsum to his throat.
“I am Juvenis Arsum, son of Caerucleas: chancellor of Dea Hemis. As I am the son of the ruler of this continent, my word goes beyond contestation. All those in this room who challenge my word with trial shall be shown little leniency for I speak the sacred truth.” Cabin boys and sailing crews, despite their rather brief and seldom occasions to meet either royalty or sons of stewards, can definitely comprehend an authority and command by a voice such as Arsum evoked. Even during the introductory times when welcomed aboard, the juvenis to sail on diplomacy, Arsum displayed his princely demeanor in a basic presentation to the ship’s crew and captain. Even though he was but a passenger on a diplomatic mission, barely the able seaman the captain and crew most assuredly were, his superiority was felt the moment he requested permission to come aboard. Arsum’s very gait emulated that of a king or an emperor: nobility by blood; blood by God.
The several cabin boys now dashed upwards upon the main deck in complete acquiescence. It was very obvious by now, given the loud noise of the vicious weather and the fact that the ship was realizing a new definition of angled sailing, that the sea craft was in danger. No sooner was the drafted crew up on deck when they saw the flashes of lightning, the crash of thunder, the spear-heads of rain stinging their skin like hornets and the ghostly howl of the haunting wind as a lost and irate soul whose spirit was never put to rest: the storm was upon the victimized ship and it was up to seven young men and one juvenis to endure its riotous anger.
The ship was swayed and vacillated by the unbridled vehemence of the violent rainstorm. The squall shot each rain-drop horizontally like a flung arrow from a mighty composite bow; biting into the reddened and inflamed skin of the juvenis and his men from the prior weeks’ sailing under the sun; fighting the storm and battling the maelstrom from a most certainly infuriated God; smashing the ship on the port side by a rogue wave to only smite it on the starboard by a gale of spiteful thrusting wind which sent the nearly buckling vessel railing like a fish out of water. Having all the sails up and tied off, the ship was now at the mercy of a pitiless ocean in the heat of a raging outburst of a surely celestial wrath. Guiding the helm in one direction meant compensating immediately in the other. Before too long, due to such an enraging oceanic battle between water titans, the helmsman had to abandon his station, for the rudder had been totally ripped off the ship’s stern like flesh cleaved from one’s back from a flanged mace. It was up to this young lad to report it to Arsum.
The juvenis was holding on for his life. The ship reached angles beyond forty-five degrees both upwards and downwards from the waves as large as castles. All the stores were thrown overboard to lighten the vessel and all Arsum and his impromptu seamen could do now was wait until the storm passed. Arsum dreaded to think how far off course they now were. Before too long, Arsum received the news that the rudder was gone and that their vessel was no different than a dead fish floating in the waste of a privy. A few of the cabin boys were indeed wrenching their insides upon the deck because of nausea. All that was left now was prayer and supplication: the ship was in the hands of God.
It was a sound Arsum had been dreading yet anticipated ever since the first drop of rain: the crunching sound of wood breaking and lumber splintering like a shattered shield smote with a flail the size of a Clydesdales head. Surely enough, the stress of the storm was causing the hull to buckle. Arsum took note of every instance for he was sure that his life was now at an end. He had no regrets and he had no sorrows. Despite his youth, he was still accomplished. True, even though he was the leading successor for the stewardship of Dea Hemis – the election definitely in his favor – Arsum knew of many other justly candidates who were noble and venerable to rule in his stead. His continent was not to be without a commendable leader so he might as well die with dignity. But, Aurea… am I to just give up on us? These were the last thoughts in the juvenis’s mind before the ship was rended.
The first part of the ship to be ripped and shattered by the vehemence of God’s omnipotent power was the mainmast; toppling over brutally like a tree in the forest by a woodsman and crashing into the ship with a bang and a clash. Arsum saw, without a doubt, two of his cabin boys instantly crushed and killed by the half-ton wooden mast and then fly off the portside of the ship like bugs flipped off a swatting platter. The next act of God mauled the bow of the ship with a gigantic wave that blew the hull apart like a mass of scattering flies off of a fetid corpse. The wood was powdered and the ship lurched forward sending most men on the main deck soaring through the rainy and windy night air like a projectile sent reeling into the air from an enormous trebuchet. Arsum acquired the helm and therefore was pressed up against the wheel as the ship sloped forward and became vertical. The gravity shifted and as Arsum saw his watery tomb grow ever nearer, he saw bodies flying straight down to their deaths: they were the crew and the captain. They were so drunk that they had no awareness whatsoever. They had literally drunk themselves to their doom and would sleep eternally in a grim and ghastly grave of blackness; the same color as their ale. And as the final gale of wind thrust itself against the ship tyrannically, it was only in mere moments that the vessel now became a pattern of planks and barrels floating and bobbing aimlessly through the torrent of the storm. By the fates being kind, Arsum had acquired a floating barrel and used it thankfully to keep himself afloat. But, his arms grew weak, his body was aching and he had already swallowed a lot water. Although hope was kindled that he might actually survive the ordeal, Arsum knew that kindle did not always ignite a permanent flame; leaving a hearth or firepit with no fire and no warmth except a pitiful plume of smoke and smolder. He did not expect to live, but he left the option kindly open. The juvenis did not bother praying, he merely gave his life to God casually: if he was to die, then amen; if he was to live, then amen. For, what else could the son of the chancellor do but wait out the storm upon the article of pathetically broken flotsam from a poorly constructed and inadequately commanded ship? He was truly at the mercy of his merciful God, or whatever deity was out there. In truth, Arsum had never been a regular church going man. He never even entirely knew where the concept of God actually derived from.
As strange as it was, Arsum had a suspicion that he was moving. His barrel and his body had an enigmatic sensation of motion. The water, rain, wind and lighting all at once, his mind could have very well been tricking him. Having zero visibility and thrown all about and trying desperately not to lose his last artifact for survival (yes, the juvenis did not care if he died. But, if there was a chance for living, he will be taking it. His apathy only comes on account that there was absolutely nothing to be done but to hold on and wait for either the hand of God to deliver the juvenis to salvation, or damn him to his death by yanking him off his barrel. Either way, Arsum, albeit still a young and fresh youth of vigor and perhaps impetuousness, was not one to cry in sorry sobs for his life: he was a man in the true sense of the word and thus he will act so) his senses and especially his sense of feel, for his limbs were numb from the freezing water, were devices unsuitable to utilize at this current time. If the juvenis was indeed moving and his senses were not tricking him, then such a circumstance only begs the question of, “how?” However, if he was not moving, then Arsum was either gradually falling into dementia or being driven insane – or both – and his death was verily nigh.
In such an unusual and truly remarkable place as he was in – the tempest and the squall pounding upon him like a hammer from the heavens – Arsum would have had no hesitation in choosing the latter of these two supposedly possible scenarios. It would have been perfectly clear to the juvenis that his mind was leaving him and delusions were now plaguing the young man as his death became ever nearer to him within each passing moment. But, it might have been advantages to stick with the thought of insanity and dementia, for his suspicions, however counteracted by logic and reason, were suddenly proven correct: he was moving. His barrel shot through the water at growing speeds of rapidity and had a strange sense of skilled control; as if the method of movement was induced by one of great aptitude in swimming. The stormy water around Arsum, although rampant and immensely choppy, was rushing through his body like wind upon a barrow-down, for his motion was faster than he had ever known a water object could move. As to how he was moving, the juvenis dared not – nor wanted not – to think.
Likely driven to the pits of dehydration, starvation and hypothermia, one might consider the juvenis lucky to have not passed out sooner. For in his current position and his indeed extreme circumstances of life threatening peril, passing out was inevitable. But, before his wakefulness left him, Arsum had still remembered being driven through the water at a great velocity. It was all the juvenis had dreamt as he passed out and awoke to a most confusing of places.
Arsum had awoken to the smell of the ocean, the shinning of the sun, the sound of distant seagulls (at least land was somewhere nearby) and the lapsing of water against his cheek. The first thing he noted was the wrenching and scathing pain all over his body; as if someone had laid vices over each of his muscles and tightened them fully. Willing himself to move, and grieving every moment of it, Arsum righted himself and propped up against an erect piece of wood from the surface of his floating barge left over by his ship. There he sat for many, many hours; baking in the sun. His lips cracked and broken; his skin reddening and pealing. Just then Arsum heard a bump. It was a strange sound; like something very soft thudding deliberately against the wooden barge. Peering about himself he noticed, just off to his right, a creature. Arsum’s eyes were blurred and his vision was fairly impaired. It looked like a large albeit humanoid fish: it had scales, it had shades of green and gold about it and it was, apparently, female.
“Who is there?” inquired Arsum. There was no answer. At least there was no immediate answer. Or, rather, there was no answer that Arsum had generally expected. For, after his query, Arsum heard a small flop near him, looked down and beheld a fish. Soon there was yet another flop and one more fish thereafter. Squinting, Arsum gaged as sharply as he was able what it possibly could be that was giving him these gifts of food. In a clearer vision than his last perception – the juvenis slowly regaining his temporarily distorted sight – Arsum beheld none other than a Maris Angellus: a sea creature of such immense beauty that sailors had gone their whole lives and acquired naught but rumors in search of these magical beings. It was said that to merely even catch a rumor was good luck. To actually see a Maris Angellus was good fortune for the rest of one’s days. And, there she was: she was hanging off the side of the barge and just half of her head was peeking over it with the tips of her webbed paws on either side; like a little girl playing peek-a-boo. She had a childish way about her yet held perceptions of mature intelligence. But even if Arsum could move, he would have known better than to approach this surely skittish Maris. She looked as if the slightest gesture or an unsuspecting sound that precluded to danger would have sent her flying off into her utopia of endless blue in handbreadths of a second.
“Did you get these for me?” at least Arsum knew she would not flee from him talking. But, still, she did not answer. Arsum beheld a little more of her head. It looked as if she was becoming braver. “Are you a Maris Angellus? It was said that you were only a legend; that your species were spoken of to entertain children. Now I see that you really do exist, unless I am becoming tricked by my own hysteria.” The Maris tilted her head in apparent confusion, but still remained silent. It was at least partially clear that the word “hysteria” was somewhat foreign to her. Arsum reached down and took one of the fish. He became painfully and instantly aware of his acute hunger at the sight of the meat as he tore a fillet with his personal knife that he kept with him. There would be no way to cook the fish so he ate the three raw. The salty meat was satisfying enough, but now Arsum grew parched. But, his thirst would have had to wait, for in order to gain fresh water, he would need a container to store it. But, not only did Arsum look about his barge and see no containers or cups, he also saw no other barrels or supply boxes of any kind. He might very well die of thirst, which was no matter: his resolve to accept his death was still with him. All that had changed was the time his death would arrive and the slight possibility of survival.
“There might be a chance of living,” Arsum thought to himself. “If I could somehow capture rain in some sort of cup or chalice, I might be able to last a little longer for a rescue. Perhaps I could construct one; there is more wood here than needs be to just keep me afloat. But, it needs to rain.” Arsum continued to cogitate how to perpetuate his life in terms of water. And whether by his body language, the fact that he was seen by the Angellus staring up into the sky and assessing the cloud formations or perhaps the little sea creature understood English, Arsum was surprised to notice that the ocean dwelling lass left what looked like a vile of some magical potion just on the edge of the wooden barge where she tottered up and down like a bobbing toy in a child’s bath. Arsum glanced carefully over to her little object. The Angellus’s glimmering head was still peeped from the brink of the wooden mass of flotsam and looked once more like a petite girl showing her daddy her most proudest and most precious of objects; usually pertaining to a doll, a feather or some such mundane object that a girl might iconize. Her eyes were so innocent and pure, as Arsum found; he began to have small amounts of spiritual guilt in the witnessing of his inadequacies before such chastity. Still sore, Arsum inched himself towards the vile of what appeared as a white gold ornament filled with no more than a few fluid ounces of some teal syrupy liquid. The little Maris Angellus gave a little prod with her nose against the water as an apparent gesticulation of what Arsum perceived as, “take it,” by the curious girl. Slowly and calmly (not as if Arsum could have possibly, in any way, been violent or reckless; his body pained with pains he had never known prior) Arsum stretched his arm and kept as much distance as humanly possible from the Angellus (she was his only friend at the moment and he most certainly did not want to lose the indeed pleasant company) and took a hold of the little trinket. Arsum pondered like a boy who finds an insect he had never seen before; holding the spoon-sized object wonderingly in his palms.
“Could this purify water?” he thought.
This was Arsum’s last sense of cogitation before his eyes became egregiously weighted. His muscles were noticeably depleted of all verve, his head was dizzy and woozy from sheer exhaustion and the previous night’s excursion with waves, rain and the crashes of water had taken its grim toll. The young juvenis began to slump in his already weakened posture and found that the sheer act of staying awake was now a feat out of his body’s wearied reach. Arsum fell lightly upon the wooden barge and went to sleep at once. His last thought was the hopeful prospect of it being nighttime when he was to awaken; giving him amiable circumstances for work and the acquisition of shelter. The notion of his friend was now a far distant thought. In his dreamless sleep, it was many hours yet before Arsum awoke once again.
His eyes cracking open as if he was a newborn who sees for the first time, his legs, arms, neck, head and body like a miserable wretch who had been sent down a rocky rapid with no raft and his brain having its own tempo of a pulsating nature, Arsum arose gruelingly. Casting his eyes across the emptiness of the calm and quiet ocean, however, the shining and gleaming moon upon a cloudless starry night sky was like a white pupil of an eye that looked longingly and caringly upon the poor man lost amid nothingness. The nebulae decorated the atmosphere of the heavens like the moderato of a string ensemble founding the amoroso of a pianoforte in a nocturne of a minor key. It was as if God Himself orchestrated, composed and verily painted every inch of the fantastical sky so that the opaque navy blue cloak of the mistress of evening which normally covered the sheet of the stratosphere of the astros was never to be seen again. The symphonic ballet of sight and color was a new birthing of perfect visual poetry in magnificent harmony. The water of the ocean was still enough to reflect as a sheen of a perfect mirror the universes that shone in a way which allowed Arsum to float in a fluency of outer space upon his barge. The air was crisp and cool; the wind briskly cascading its textures throughout the ether; the echoed reflection of the sky to the water gave hues of blue, purple and clusters of white and star-bursts of red.
As Arsum beheld the awe inspiring, soul astounding and heart rending beauty, the juvenis had a shock: glancing to his right, the Maris Angellus had not yet taken her leave; innocently bobbing up and down by way of the extremely mild arbitrary swells of the sea, oddly not causing its perfect mirror image to break; her head peeking over the edge of the barge and tilted like a curious cat who looks upon a potential friend.
“Oh, you are still there.” Silence. Arsum chose his words cautiously. “Can you talk?” Nothing. “I thank you for the fish, Maris… and for your little vile.” At that moment, the Maris propped herself up so that her entire torso was visible. Her skin was like that of a dolphin and was resplendently glistening in the pallid opalescent light of the moon. Her hair was a mixture of aquamarine, black and violet with bits of the tresses stuck adhesively to her neck and face from wetness. Her eyes were as blue as the very sea she lived in with a slight tint of lilac and the surface of her body seemed to hold a kaleidoscope of psychedelic color; hues ranging from orange, red, yellow, green, blue, mauve and a luminescent white. As otherworldly her appearance most assuredly was, the sight of her distinctive beauty also held an indefinable terrestrial sense of humanity. She was nevertheless the most beautiful creature Arsum had ever seen. She remained in her pose for a moment then sang a melody unlike Arsum had ever heard. The tune was eerie and melancholic. In those few moments the Maris Angellus sang her little ditty, Arsum was instantly transported to a remote region of his mind never once explored. It was a moment in Arsum’s life he wanted to never forget. The melody was sad and yet at the same time happy. It held allusions of depression yet mirrored emotions of joy. The intonations of the Maris Angellus’s voice held inflections of both time and space; life and death; creation and destruction: Arsum never wanted the medley to end. Sadly, though, Arsum forget the melody as instantly as it was sung to him and as quickly as it ended. In half a moment the little sea siren was finished, having gazed up towards the nearly full moon in her song, she looked down and then suddenly lurched back into the water with a plunge and a splash and swam away like a frightened and startled fish; the ripples of her disturbance flinging the creature’s memory across the quiet waters of the sea. Arsum had no words, only emotions. The blessings of the night sky of apotheosis began to cast emissions of prismatic colors even more brilliant than previously detailed as the climax of the evening was at its eve. Arsum figured he had been unconscious for the better part of the late afternoon on the previous day. The mellow nature of the late evening which gave an expectancy of dawn began to stir Arsum’s heart most grievously. The night sky was like that of a shadow of a standing stone upon a large hill in the apex of a fool moonlit nightfall. The dark image a metaphor of a black mark upon Arsum’s heart for his failure upon the ship and the men which now lie dead in the depths of their watery graves. Despite the light evoked by an indeed brilliantly shinning moon, such luminosity only exposed the sin Arsum passionately wished to bury for the rest of his days and cursed the illumination to himself. Arsum only wished to see the Maris Angellus once again; to see a personification of epitomized beauty shortly before his suspected and eventual death. It was by some strange God-ordained irony that Arsum found his doom within the so named Sea of Serenity.
Near the very end of his hopes and at the edge of self-inflicted death, Arsum noticed a bit of canvas afloat near his barge. Hardly looking this gift horse in the mouth and with no hesitation (or even a thankfulness to God) Arsum swam out, acquired the soaked fabric and brought it upon his floating mausoleum. Immediately tearing a piece of the flimsy and pliable textile, Arsum formed a very crude cup to store water and applied the ample remainder of the sheet as a cover for the next day’s sunlight.
“If this vile does not purify water, then I will simply accept my death.”
These were Arsum’s final thoughts as he scooped up a mouthful of water from the sea and quickly dropped a single syrupy drop of the teal fluid of his gifted vile into his exquisite demitasse. Strangely enough, as the teal solution touched the water, the suspected seeping that Arsum thought his water to do through the porous fabric simply did not happen. Despite what Arsum knew to be a proven physical reaction to water against a sheet, his little leaky goblet was now a perfect vessel for drinking, and drink he did. The water was like fairy nectar to Arsum’s parched lips. The liquid coursed through his body as the juvenis felt its every progression from his mouth, down his throat and into his belly; acting also as a warming agent akin to alcohol yet without the subsequent nauseating feeling and especially absent of the inebriation. Arsum gave a long sigh of refreshment and his body held the sensation that it was no longer thirsty. Even still, the strange nectar seemed to also feed his hunger. Hope had been kindled. Arsum was literally saved by an angel.
The king of Regonis Mulsi, King Flavus, had been expecting the ambassador from Dea Hemis, Juvenis Arsum, at any hour now. But, the chancellor’s son was tardy and the king’s patience was surely being run through a trying test of endurance. King Flavus was neither unkind nor very impatient. With what impatience he did in fact exhibit, it was only due to notions of delaying matters of fairly great importance; such as relations with Dea Hemis or dealings of their annual deliveries of sea vessels to Forma Temeritas. Both Regonis Mulsi and Dea Hemis were nevertheless on good terms with one another. The friendship between the two continents had been firmly established many generations ago and hardly any scuffle or dispute, though many, had ever faltered their good kindred. Their friendliness had been lived through dozens of generations hard earned by the sweat and especially the blood of the fore-fathers of old.
It was customary for ambassadors to be sent from either continent as a gesture of good faith; keeping matters of amity alive by watering the bond between the two powers. It was Dea Hemis’s turn to send such an ambassador. However, it was at the request of King Flavus that Chancellor Caerucleas send his son, Arsum. The king had never met the chancellor’s son and wished to finally see the prince. But, the king had expected Juvenis Arsum from nearly at the breaking of the morning. The king would have thought that the juvenis wished to arrive timely and impress his neighbor with a punctual arrival. Yet the king waited until the late hours of the day and into the twilight of late dusk: still, the juvenis’s ship was yet to be seen.
It was not until the late morning on the following day that king Flavus’s patience had expired.
“Send our fastest ships on the general course of Arsum’s vessel,” he said after breakfast to his regent. “He would have had to travel straight from the port of Fortiter Multus south by southeast towards our city.”
“My king,” returned the regent. “It could very well take a single ship weeks if not months to locate one vessel.”
“Then, send several.” The king grew unsteady for having his rule be questioned.
“My liege, with all humility, Forma Temeritas is expecting a new line of craft from the very fleet you wish to employ in this search. If we delay the delivery, it might create more tension between us and them.”
The regent was right. Neither was Dea Hemis nor Regonis Mulsi on any good terms with Forma Temeritas. Its king, Rubristas, although having a very distinct reputation for humility and long tempers, nevertheless had begot a son of no simple airs of gentleness and hardly the patience of a priest. From out the depths from any of Forma Temeritas’s albeit true gestures of diplomacy, there would lie King Ater who looks for any possible occasion to enflame war like the billows of a smithy’s forge.
Because Forma Temeritas had poor ships and sea fairing vessels, it was up to their abundance of produce and livestock to supply funding to purchase ship vessels so that they might in fact ship them. Regonis Mulsi had wood mills and foundries which far exceeded the sophistication of Forma Temeritas. And they were the leading and primary supplier of wine. But, their livestock was low and their fields were not nearly as rich as Forma Temeritas. Dea Hemis had practically no agriculture at all, for their continent was cold year round. Regonis Mulsi provided the ships, Forma Temeritas supplied the crops. A disruption between the two could invoke either poverty, famine or both which would only lead to an inevitable war.
King Flavus was beside himself in frustration and stress.
“You know why I need to send a ship through the channel, yes? Arsum’s boat might have been shattered by a storm, pillaged by pirates or God knows what. I need to send a fleet to find him. If Chancellor Caerucleas learns of either the boy’s possible disappearance or, Heaven forbid, his death, it will be he in whom our army fights and not merely just Forma Temeritas.”
“My liege,” the regent became nervous, “we cannot sacrifice more than two vessels. And even that is pushing the boundary precariously. King Rubristas’s son is not one to be mocked. Do you deny it?” There was an awkward silence.
“Very well, regent: send one vessel in search of the juvenis and I will take my own fleet and accompany the search first hand.” Suddenly, the queen entered the council room; having eavesdropped with good reason.
“And what do you expect your family to do and how do you expect your family to feel if their husband and their father went off gallivanting through treacherous waters?” Queen Civila: beauty beyond compare only matched by her fiery demeanor and rash personality. But, she had enough love for two lifetimes worth of devotion and adoration.
Her words were always a matter of fact and spoken with hardly any hesitation, regardless of the possible ramifications of such impetuous speech. The king turned to his wife and wore a look that betrayed him, for his mind was not going to be flayed by the coercions of his wife.
“Wife,” he began, “this is not the time. I know you wish to discover the whereabouts of Juvenis Arsum just as much as me and as much as anyone else in this room and throughout all of Veratum Rus.
“Then send one of your regents. They are not called “delegates” for no reason, husband.” It was difficult to read whether Civila was either cynically sarcastic or playfully sardonic in her charisma. The former being more likely of the two.
“I need to know firsthand our situation, wife,” stated the king with an elevated tone of voice.
“Regent, you may leave us,” said the queen. The regent retired nervously and the spouses were now alone. “You know how I feel, Flavus, about sailing on the open sea. You know what happened to our son. I do not remind you, I merely state to you: I will not become a widow. This is the stormiest time of the year and Arsum’s ship had probably met with the typhoon we saw not three days past. It was, after all, headed north.”
“Another storm is not likely to follow so closely. I will take our finest and sturdiest of ships.” The king continued to keep his poise. He knew his wife had a sound point. But, he felt that he needed to go.
“I know how patient you are, husband. And, I know how determined you are to make more peace and good tidings to Forma Temeritas. But these new ships must be sent now or King Rubristas will certainly want to know why his new fleet was late. You know how weak their ship foundries are: he relies on us and we rely on him. Taking the best ship is taking what we mean to give to King Rubristas and I will not have this house be torn apart by yet another conflict between nations.” King Flavus knew he had been beat. But that did not completely stop him from stating one last notion.
“And if the chancellor blames us for what happened to his son, we might be at odds with Dea Hemis.” Civila lunged.
“If the chancellor wishes to send his son as ambassador through Sic Immortalis and into the channel during a season of near perpetual tempest, I do not see how his death, however unfortunate, falls upon your head!”
“I was the one who requested his son be sent; I wanted to see him.” But, King Flavus knew what was coming. His wife knew him far too well.
“I see, husband: then perhaps you are not as patient as many have been led to believe.” King Flavus had practically demanded the voyage of the chancellor’s son be executed immediately. Knowing of the tempestuous sea, King Flavus merely hoped the voyage would be successful. He was terribly wrong. The queen was not going to let this be lived down. Her husband’s impatience was now bordered on selfishness. “I am going to write four copies of a letter and send it to Fortiter Multus. I am going to explain everything. Perhaps the chancellor will be patient and kind; enough so that we may keep our generational peace hard kept by your ancestors!” Civila left her husband alone to ruminate. The king’s stomach sank: his recklessness could very well incite war.
Queen Civila was as good as her word. She wrote four identical letters to Chancellor Caerucleas. She wanted to make copies so as to omit the possibility of forgery. With four seals and four signatures, the queen set her own personal ship straight through the Channel of Serenity. Traveling up the eastern side of Dea Hemis and into Sic Immortalis was far too perilous. Her envoys would merely have to travel, albeit a fair distance, to Fortiter Multus by foot. The letter transported by Civila’s couriers contained not only a deep apology, but also of her husband’s intention to search for their son on his own initiative. With enough grace on part of the chancellor, the two continents might continue to be at peace.
The king sent his own personal fleet in search of Juvenis and did not accompany them. And during the weeks that all was in motion, the fleet of new ships to be sent to Forma Temeritas was on its way to King Rubristas, and will have arrived on time.
A score and four days elapsed before King Flavus caught word of the juvenis, Arsum. A ship sailed ahead of its fleet, having apparently rescued the chancellor’s son, to arrive early in Veratum Rus – the capital of Regonis Mulsi – to give word to King Flavus that Juvenis Arsum was on his way. The king at that time was busying himself with stately matters; dwelling on both the economics and the overall health of his people. Two of his regional governors had been giving the king difficulty: squandering their money for unsuitable and most unnecessary amusements.
Pouring over legers and banknotes and surrounded by his regents, making decisions that, when made, would raise the tax in one city to only decrease the production of wine in another; amending one law to have yet another made; writing endless letters of both legal demands and humble apologies: the king was whelmed to his ears with work. The envoy from the ship sent ahead to give the king news of Arsum burst through the counsel-room. King Flavus immediately recognized the man and called him forward.
“Come forward, seaman,” he commanded. The seaman approached the king at a moderate gait. The tension of anticipation was palpably strong as the boatman shuffled timidly through the meeting area. The oak tables were set as a horseshoe and as the crewmember came to the king’s proximity, all eyes in the room fell upon the fairly young lad in a stern and rigid focal point. In a single and abrupt gesture, the seaman held out an envelope and presented it to the king. It was sealed by the lead ship’s captain and bound with weathered string. “Clear the room!” barked the king. “Not you!” The naval seaman had practically leaped towards the door. It was clear that he did not want to be near the king. The boy nearly tripped from having been snappishly directed to remain stationary. In moments, the room was empty; various pamphlets, quills, ink-stains and half-empty goblets of wine were all that remained in the musty and warm room. “How long since the ship docked?”
“Two hours, your majesty,” muttered the boy. The king cut the cord of the envelope with a small knife, broke the seal and read gravely.
I am pleased to report that my ship, upon our third week sailing, has successfully located the juvenis, Arsum. He was found on a small barge of flotsam clearly having been from his own vessel; destroyed by the typhoon we witnessed earlier in the month while on the mainland. The barge was nearly twenty nautical miles off their main course from Fortiter Multus. The young man was dehydrated, weak and utterly listless. During the past two days’ voyage, the juvenis had not spoken, has barely moved yet is making gradual but slow and even surprising progress in health. My personal physician is seeing to the young man. I am confident of his recovery. But, he is suffering dementia as well as having some sort of hallucinogenic symptoms.
I have sent a ship one day ahead of us to speed the word to Your Majesty. Upon your receivership of this letter, you can expect the rest of the fleet to arrive in roughly twenty four hours. We should be there by nightfall.”
King Flavus read the letter three times before finally dismissing the seaman. Despite the early hour, the king gave word of his retirement and went straight to his bedchamber. But, he was not so fortunate as to get there unhindered. Although this interruption was a type not necessarily condemned by the monarch, it was this night he wished to pass through the grand halls of his castle seamlessly. It was not so.
“Father?” Princess Aurea, the king’s daughter and only remaining child, had intercepted her father as was her wont. She had an unwittingly talented ability to produce sudden interludes within the king’s day which usually occurred when the king was most distraught. As to how his daughter preternaturally accomplished this feet repeatedly, the king, Flavus dared not to fathom. “Is everything all right?” Her voice caused a feeling of pleasure and comfort within the king’s ear whenever his daughter spoke. It was like hearing the playful and scattered laughing of children or the twitter and chirping of hundreds of birds of countless species all at once. Yet her voice retained a steady stream and flow to it; undisrupted and unbroken, like the continuous medley of a flowing river stream through a rocky culvert within a reverberating grotto; dancing through various twists and turns and emptying into a large pond of sapphirine water beneath a light waterfall amidst a grove of wildflowers.
“Yes, my daughter. I am well.” Not only was Aurea able to skillfully seize her father when his spirits were low, but she also had a God-gifted feat of knowing exactly when he was not telling the truth. To any other person – ever her mother – Aurea had no awareness as to their honesty. But, as for her father, every word spoken from his lips was either a truth or a lie and Princess Aurea could tell the difference, impeccably. In the instance of the princess’s query, the king was most certainly lying. Any bloke could have actually noticed.
“You are lying, father. I can always tell when you are lying; even when you were good at it. Tell me, what troubles you?” The king could not bear to look his daughter in the eyes.
“Are you aware of the troubles with our neighbor’s juvenis?”
“I heard he was missing; lost at sea, I believe. Has he been found?” Aurea’s question held vocal inflections of concern which was suspiciously more than a stranger might actually give to one they did not know. King Flavus did not notice it, however.
“He has,” said the king softly.
“Oh, thank Heaven!” Aurea was immensely relieved. Either she knew Arsum more than had been given to show, or her good will towards all people was just that grand. King Flavus was still unaware of his daughter’s high reprieve on behalf of someone she supposedly did not know.
“He shall arrive on the morrow; late in the evening.” The king shifted his weight in discomfort; as if in anticipation.
“Then what weighs your heart, father?” The princess guided her father’s head and eyes into hers. “I cannot abide to see you so distressed.”
“The juvenis is not well. As we speak, the lead captain’s physician watches tirelessly over the young lad. His body is very nearly broken.”
“Will he recover? Will he be okay?” The princess asked this sympathetically and in the same way that suggested she knew more of Juvenis Arsum than her father had, just now, suspected.
“The captain is confident,” said the king, taking his daughters hands and holding it between his own; ignoring his just now kindled suspicions of Aurea and Arsum and hoped to forget them altogether. Aurea knew her father’s hands well: they were big, muscular and rough. When he was prince before her grandfather died, he was quite the adventurer. He had always spent his mornings and afternoons riding upon his horse, chasing monsters, climbing rocks and trees and defeating creatures from Expello Poena (figuratively). Having wielded a sword for most of his life and had been in many real battles – most involving men from foreign powers – Aurea felt the wear upon the rugged flesh of her father and actually squinted in reaction to how mildly unpleasant his hands were upon her own soft and tender skin. But the firmness held in the king’s commanding and forceful palms at least made the young girl feel safe. “He might need to stay in the castle much longer than what was originally expected of him.”
“How much longer? A week? A month?” Again, Aurea’s tone of voice suggested eagerness, hope and a passionate longing that the presence of Arsum might be more than just a simple good thing. Yet, once more the king dismissed all suspicions for he was too tired to contemplate some scandal at this point and was one to disregard anything as unpleasant as what he regrettably saw in the face of his daughter regarding Arsum.
“I do not know, daughter. But, he will be here for quite some time, if my theories of his condition are as bad as I perceive.” He yawned. “Please, daughter, we will talk more in the morning. Sleep well.” The king kissed Aurea on the forehead and set off into his much desired and anticipated sanctuary of sleep. Aurea stood in her place for just a moment, delved into a brief yet deep contemplation, then scurried off to her chambers excitedly, like a retreating cat to a haven of safety.
Flavus entered his bedchamber and saw that his wife was before her vanity combing her hair. His fatigue notwithstanding, the king could not help but admire the sight of his lovely wife sweeping her silver comb through the locks of her red hair. There was something satisfyingly calm and therapeutic in the way her comb parted the fire-like coat. Her hair was so long that it would have easily been a tangled mess of knots and ties if she was not so careful about its maintenance. And, it was not the first time Flavus stood mesmerized by the sweeping and repetitious motions of his wife’s combing. The comb belonged to her mother; an aristocrat from the Acris Peninsula on the very shore of the Channel of Serenity. Her parents had given her over to be wed by a young nobleman. Civila had no intention of being forced into an arranged marriage and objected to the whole thing, adamantly. Civila’s parents threatened to disown her and put her in the work houses as an old maid. However, were it not for a separate civil matter which called the prince, Flavus, down to Acris Peninsula, he would not have run into her. Prince Flavus’s convoy had important dealings with the fairly large city when he made his journey long ago. Dealings of swindled shipping fees and cheated financial setbacks induced great economic bankruptcies from many traders and shippers in the port town. Civil unrest resulted. Civila was striving to buy some fish in a wharf – bargaining with the outrageous prices – when the prince had heard the most aggressive voice he had ever caught by his ear. Mounted, the prince caught the sight of the bright red hair and a woman who captured his attention in her fearsome bargaining. The prince, Flavus, dismounted and trotted as if he were still atop a horse up to the merchant and did not regard the red haired beauty, as if she did not even exist (the prince had a way of rues in order to trick and ultimately woo a woman by way of reverse endeavors; only making them think that they were unimportant and ultimately capturing their usually unyielding attention.
“Merchant!” he said forcefully. His attire and decorations gleaming despite the foggy and cloudy atmosphere of the early morning port weather. “Name your price for this string of cod.” The item which Flavus named was in fact what the red haired girl wished to buy. This was the prince’s way of keeping his target in his net and not have her scurry off at having been supposedly ignored.
“Two silver pieces, my lord.” In Veratum Rus, two silvers could acquire food for a starving family for several days, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of the inhabitants of the city, in fact, go off of food for nothing more than the copper that barely jingles in each of the peasants’ lint abundant purses. As poor as many of the prince’s people were, this was just ridiculous.
“There are two points I wish to make before I purchase these fish for two coppers.”
“My lord! The price here is-”
“ONE!” Even the red haired girl flinched from the shout as well as the fish monger. “That if you ever call me ‘my lord’ again, I will have you imprisoned for insubordination and willful treason. It is ‘your majesty’, ‘my liege’, or ‘my prince’.
“Prince Flavus?” said the fish monger forgetting everything until:
“Two!” The shout was still loud but not nearly as aggressive as the first. “That, just because some civil dispute is shortly to be dissipated and supposedly threatens your surely lucrative business, it hardly gives you the right to overprice your merchandise to an obscene fortune. Two copper is twice the amount of money usually spent on stock such as you have for sale. In Veratum Rus, two copper for this string of fish would put you out of business because no one would by such an exorbitant thing. This is my offer.” Prince Flavus put two copper pieces down on the stall’s surface and he gathered up the fish. “I believe this concludes our business. Good day, my fellow.” The fish monger was struck petrified as Prince Flavus walked away with his string of fish. The red haired woman, as he wittily anticipated, followed the prince back to his horse and said.
“Your majesty?” The prince acted as if he did not hear her and continued to pack up his fish. “Your majesty!” the red haired girl recoiled for having unexpectedly spoken so loudly to a royal in which was not her actual intent.
“Ah, young lady,” said the prince turning at last. “You know, girl, you were causing quite a scene earlier.”
“I realize that, my liege. I thank you for what you did.” There was a silence. Awkward to the girl yet expected from the prince. “But…”
“Yes, go on.”
“But, I needed those fish. I did not have two slivers for them but they are crucial to me.”
“Well, my dear. They are mine now. I bought them fairly.” Prince Flavus continued to push his sarcasm. He could always command the girl to come back to him if she gave up. However, she did not appear to be one so set off by an inconvenience, even by a prince. This was why he was so satirical: he was testing her.
“Please, my prince, you could sell them back to me. I really do need them.” The prince was not going to make it easy.
“You want to buy from me that of which I just hustled a merchant for? I happen to like fish, my lady. Acris Peninsula is a great place to buy sea food and I intend to grill these and season these cod for my belly. What do you wish to do?” This was the last straw and the reason why Prince Flavus married the future queen of Regonis Mulsi.
“Tyrant! You come here, out of none other than the command of your father, to settle disputes and aggression by which you are now instigating. If you are the future king of this land, I will be moving to Forma Temeritas, for theirs is at least a government of some respect. My family starves, inflation plagues this wharf and you come and oppress the people you supposedly think to rule directly in their face! I might as well steal those fish from you and weigh more congenial demeanors in ration to what debauchery you tyrannically bring forth this grey day! I denounce you!”
“Interesting,” was all the prince said; softly and inquisitively. “Tell me, my lady, do you know that I may set a sentence of beheading by a mere gesture of my hand? Are you aware that I answer to none other than my father and that all of this continent is generally below me? Are you aware that you have just blatantly, deliberately and purposefully denounced and mocked a ruling prince of the royal house of Regonis Mulsi, a land which takes its punishments very seriously?”
“I am aware, yes,” said the girl proudly. “Make me a martyr. You will have a rebellion faster than you could fillet those fish!” Prince Flavus laughed out loud. “You mock me even more?!” The girl was beside herself.
“No, my lady. I do not mock anyone. I do not scorn and I do not disdain a single soul upon my father’s land and especially when they have clearly proven to me that honor and pride are far greater things to die for than living under the edge of a knife to the throat.” The lady was impossibly confused and lost in the realm of silence. “My lady, please take this token to the palace when you best find yourself able to do so. I intend to ask for your hand.” Prince Flavus handed a well gilded coin of sorts crested by his family’s signet to the red haired girl. She took it and stood dazed in disbelief. “What is your name, girl?”
“Civila,” she said. The prince gave her the fish and he rode off to his business with the city.
The prince was soon after married to the entitled princess, Civila, who would be the future queen of Regonis Mulsi. Civila’s mother passed on various items to the princess, including the comb, and now the queen uses the sliver, gem encrusted comb for her morning and nightly beatification. It was in this reminiscing moment that King Flavus’s orientation became noticed in the queen’s mirror. She stopped combing and turned.
“You are here early,” she said neutrally.
“Yes, well, I received word from my lead ship captain… about Juvenis Arsum.” The king drew the opened letter and presented it to his wife. Queen Civila placed her comb on her vanity, arose and strode gracefully – as she always did – over to the king.
“What does it say?” she said anxiously.
“The juvenis will be here in a day. But, he is very ill.”
“I will send our physicians to nurse him whilst he stays at the castle.” A moment passed in silence. “Have you received news of Chancellor Caerucleas?”
“As a matter of fact, I have. The letter is on your end table. You may read it.” The queen returned to her vanity as she spoke these words; combing her hair. The king walked heavily over to his bedside end table. He noticed the seal of the chancellor immediately; having been broken by his wife. Picking it up, he read:
I thank you for your letters… all four of them. I understand the need for assurance. Forgery has become all too regular in Creacia, I am afraid. I accept your apology wholeheartedly and wish to convey my deepest respect in your being sorry for what had happened. I can confidently assure you that not all falls upon your hands. As it was, when my son received the correspondence from you husband, the king, despite the underlining anxiety in the king’s letter which wished that Arsum travel soon to Regonis Mulsi, my son left without my entire blessing. I informed him of the season of tempest that then dwelt over the perilous waters of Sic Immortalis and even the Channel of Serenity. But, he refused to acquiesce to my suggestion to wait. Whether he wanted to leave his home or simply come in contact with King Flavus as soon as possible, I will never know. Yet, something was pulling him ardently to your continent and no power in the heavens or beneath the earth was going to entice any sort of patience in my boy.
I thank you for sacrificing your ships and your time and energy to search for my son. I am almost certain he is alive. I taught him well. Please inform me as soon as you get word. I will do the same. I bid you good tidings. You and your family are always welcome in my court.
The king’s heart was lifted as the words from the chancellor soothed his soul immensely. Placing the letter back upon his end table, the king collapsed into his bed, ignoring the fact that his boots were still on, and fell almost instantly asleep.
“It seems that your impetuousness was not all on you this time, husband,” said the queen unaware that her words fell upon the king’s now sleeping and unconscious ears. “Juvenis Arsum could be a relation, seeing that he seems to be as reckless as you.” Queen Civila quietly continued to comb her hair, still oblivious. “In all technicality, dear husband, with yours and Arsum’s little philandering behavior, an avoidance to war was most likely just made, are you not relieved…? Flavus?” Queen Civila finally turned and found her husband passed out in the midst of a deep sleep. “Oh, you big oaf!” Civila sauntered over to her husband’s slumped state upon their bed. She removed his boots (not for the first time) and covered him with a blanket before shortly accompanying the clearly relieved-to-exhaustion king. The following evening was restful, quiet and serene. All within Veratum Rus slept soundly.