Unnormal Normalcy

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King of Blades – Chapter 11 “Answers”

Chapters 1 through 10: clickeh

 

It was a tense wait for Shelton to return with the other mage. None of them knew what having Coulta’s powers could possibly mean, and Coulta himself was worried about their unborn child. Could he have passed on his powers to the baby, as well as Anil? Would that harm the child? What if it was born with similar markings on the skin that Coulta had? How could they explain that to the court? Punishments for Second Kings who failed to prevent themselves from impregnating a queen were severe – tradition called for castration.

But Coulta felt that such a punishment could only be dealt when the marriage was strategic, without much emotional attachment. He could feel that Wildas truly loved him. Wildas could never do that to him. After all, they all knew he was infertile – but the court didn’t. If the baby was born with marks like Coulta’s, it would be assumed that Coulta was the father. No one would stand for that, especially not for the first-born child, the young Grand King’s heir.

Maybe, though, Shelton and Wildas would find a way to publicly prove that Coulta was permanently infertile. If it came down to that, Coulta was more than willing to go through with whatever public display was needed of him.

His thoughts were disrupted by Shelton’s return. With him was a middle-aged, dark-skinned woman with graying black hair pulled tightly away from her angular face. She wore a silver gown that matched her glimmering eyes. Wildas, Myri, and Coulta all rose from their seats as the mages entered, while Anil remained seated. Shelton made the formal introductions, and the sorceress, Terezka, bowed to them each in turn, deepest to Wildas.

“I have been told that you have all been involved in an unplanned power share,” she said, her accent completely unfamiliar to Coulta. He still wasn’t used to all the foreign-born people who had made their homes in Phelin.

“That is what we’ve been told, as well,” Wildas answered her.

But Terezka’s silver gaze had turned directly to Coulta. “May I have your hand?” she requested. Coulta held his right hand out to her and she shook her head. “The other. The left hand is more closely related to the heart and the deep source of power within.”

Coulta held out his left hand instead. She held it gently, and within moments Coulta felt a gentle wave of sensation move across his entire body. After another few moments, she nodded and released his hand.

“Everything is as I had expected it to be, from what Shelton confided to me,” she declared. “There is no simple explanation for what has happened, but we can draw the likeliest conclusion from what we know. First, curse-magic is highly unpredictable. One never knows how strong it will be, if it ever stops growing, or when it will transfer. I don’t mean the curse itself,” she added, noticing the pale look on Anil’s face, “I mean the magic that it leaves behind when it is broken. Curses are never destroyed entirely, but if they can be broken, the power that created and continued the curse will be fully transferred to the control of the person who was cursed. Those powers can change, grow, and be transferred over time, but it is difficult to control. The Second King,” she continued, bowing her head briefly to him, “may notice his abilities slowly changing over the years. It may also be difficult to stop the powers from transferring to any sexual partner. That transferred power, I must assure you, is perfectly harmless. In fact, it seems that, as it mysteriously happens with curse-power shares, the powers shared are very helpful for the partner who receives them.”

“Why is it only happening now?” Myri questioned.

Terezka held up a slender hand, then bowed her head slightly to the queen. “I have more to add. Curses, after they are broken, leave magical scars that speak of what the curse was, and how it was broken. I do not mean physical scars,” she added, apparently noticing all three of Coulta’s spouses looking at the black tracery on his skin, “I mean magical ones that can only be sensed by direct magical contact, as I just performed. Those scars told me the story of Coulta’s curse, which began to break when he was very young. The crack began when his mother created a way for the curse to break through the love of another. The crack became a fracture, at which point he began being able to use some magic, when he was placed into the service of his former master and the crown’s enemy. That fracture was caused by the love of the servant girl who raised him.”

Coulta felt Myri put an arm around him from where she stood by his side. Wildas clasped his hand from his other side, and Anil looked up at him with a small smile. They had all known that Teeya was special to him, and somehow it felt like they appreciated her more for helping him break his curse.

“The curse broke further when he met the Grand King,” Terezka went on, bowing her head deeply to Wildas. “Even before they truly knew each other, their souls knew each other. Everyone who has a curse is somehow tied to someone who can break that curse, and their souls will find each other. The cursed soul is always looking for that one other who will free it from its suffering, and when it locates the other, it will link itself to the free soul.”

“Is this like the stories of true love in children’s tales?” Anil questioned.

“Not completely, My Lady,” Terezka answered with another head bow. She was clearly intensely formal. “The linking of two souls doesn’t hinder a person’s ability to love others. Indeed, the Second King’s deepest love may be for the one who truly freed him, but that does not mean that his love for either of his wives is any less real. Nor does it mean that the Grand King, whose soul is tied to his husband’s, loves the Second King any more deeply than either of his queens. Though they do tend to agree with each other, the heart and the soul often function separately. I can only speak of the magic, however, and I don’t want to speculate on emotions. The last thing I wish to do is create complications in this royal marriage.”

Myri laughed lightly, tightening her arm around Coulta. “Anil and I both know they are more inclined toward each other. I am happy, regardless.”

Anil smiled at her. “I do agree. They are good to us, and they don’t neglect us. Clearly,” she added, pointedly running a hand over her abdomen.

From where he had been lingering out of the way, Shelton chuckled.

Coulta cleared his throat in an attempt to dispel the awkwardness that he felt. “Then, if my curse broke after meeting Wildas, why did it take so long for this power share to happen?”

The sorceress bowed her head yet again – which was starting to get old to watch. “It is likely that the curse didn’t break immediately, Your Highness. According to what I saw in your scars, it didn’t fully break until you followed through with a vow that you had made in your husband’s name. Since then, your powers have grown quite steadily. I suggest you continue testing yourself to discover where your current boundaries lie. As for why the power shares have occurred now – or occurred earlier and are only being activated now – I can only suggest that it may have to do with a need to protect your family from the coming war, even if it wasn’t a conscious choice to give them your powers to do so. Sometimes magic – especially curse-magic – works through our primal needs and deepest desires. Curse-magic is especially hard to contain when it chooses to transfer to a sexual partner. Other ways of sharing power would be much more controlled, but there are only two ways to stop sharing with your spouses; either don’t engage in sexual activities, or drain yourself of your magic so thoroughly beforehand that you have very little to spare. That would also leave you physically exhausted and may defeat your purpose.”

She smiled and shook her head, eyes glittering. “I wouldn’t worry, however. As long as everyone you share powers with learns to channel them to meet their needs, there is no harm. And no, there is no way to know how long the abilities will last in those who are shared with. Weak sorcerers may only transfer enough power for one spell, but stronger sorcerers can share enough power to last several weeks and through nearly countless spells. Curse-magic that is shared generally lasts months, or even more than countless uses. It is harder to know with curse-magic because using it requires no pre-thought spells, only an idea of what you want to accomplish. It may be wise for everyone to start learning to use their powers before the war comes to us.”

“What about the baby?” Wildas questioned, his expression still calm, though Coulta felt the grip on his hand tighten.

Terezka shook her head – after the customary little bow, again. “There is no way to know before the child is born, Your Majesty. There will certainly be no harm caused to the child, but whether or not the child has powers, and whether or not those powers will stay within the child throughout life is impossible to determine. I cannot examine a child in the womb because the mother’s own body hides the child in an effort to protect it.”

Coulta took a sharp breath and finally voiced his biggest fear, “And if it looks like me?”

“Then questions will be asked,” Shelton stated, finally stepping forward, “but I will speak in your defense.”

“As will I,” Terezka declared with a full bow.

“However, if appearances require a public test by other sorcerers, it will need to be done,” Shelton added.

Coulta nodded. “I understand.”

Wildas turned to look at Coulta. “There is no tradition saying that a Second King can’t transfer powers to the heir.”

“The usual magic can’t transfer to an unborn child,” Shelton pointed out, then glanced at Terezka. “Correct?”

She nodded. “You are correct. I don’t know anything about curse-magic and children.”

Shelton returned the nod. “I’m not sure many are. Is there anything else that should be known?”

“That is all,” she answered.

“Then let’s return to the mage training.”

Terezka bowed to them all before leaving, and when she had gone, Coulta sighed with relief. It was good to know that he hadn’t brought harm upon his spouses or their child after all.

“I suppose we should go learn to use these new powers,” Myri declared, sounding decidedly eager. She gave each of her husbands a kiss on the cheek, then helped Anil to her feet.

Anil paused to hug Coulta. “We stand beside you,” she stated.

“Thank you,” he replied, returning the hug.

When they had gone, Wildas pulled Coulta into a tight hug. “I’m happy I was the one who was able to finish the work Teeya started.”

Coulta smiled. “I am, too,” he agreed before kissing Wildas strongly, all his thankfulness poured into that kiss. When he pulled away a few long moments later he asked, “So, would you like to learn how to use your new fire magic?”

“It’s not just for tormenting my brother?” Wildas questioned with a smile.

Coulta grinned. “Only on occasion.”

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April 27, 2012 - Posted by | King of Blades, Writing

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