Been a while since I wrote a story with another person. It took some convincing but @zakludick finally talked me into it. As he mentioned, most of the nitty-gritty nonsense was discussed between us via Whatsapp. So, here you have Part One of Mortis Custos.
I must say that I love the artwork Zak came up with, afraid my skills revolve around writing for the most part. Although most of my experience is in writing American English (being a ghostwriter and all that), I prefer my fiction to be written in British English.
Just a trigger warning if you guys are planning on being around for the whole story: it is going to get dark. So, strap in, have fun, and don't ask any questions until the end. Enjoy Part One!
It’s funny. As I sit here listening to the screams of a woman struggling through the birth of her first child…children, it makes me think back to my own birth. It had been difficult for her too then, not knowing what was to happen.
The doctors had predicted a boy, but the child pulled from the womb was a girl. Father just about had a fit. He required a male heir and he had been promised one. Mother begged him to spare the girl, she had been marked by the gods to be a warrior, she was sure of it. Father wouldn’t have a daughter for an heir. He needed a son to lead his bloodline. It is likely my sister would have perished in the bedroom’s fireplace had my mother’s continued labour not resulted in a pair of feet. I don’t remember much of my birth, but I remember screaming echoing my arrival into the world.
I could hear Jonathan start his rant. Always about the bloodline and needing a male to drive it. It would seem history was doomed to repeat itself after all. I would have to intervene before things were said that couldn’t be taken back.
“Oh hush, Jonathan.” Muttered a tired man as he pulled back the curtains which separated him from the woman in labour.
The firstborn was indeed a girl and she had a set of bellows for lungs. She would indeed be the warrior Jonathan wanted if she left this room alive that is.
“I was told…!” an angry dark-haired man stopped in a mid shout, “Oh, it’s you Adiran. Come to gloat? It is a girl.”
“And what a fine youngster she is.”
Adiran turned to the sweat-soaked woman. Her red hair was plastered to her pale face which was pinched in pain. He knew the labour had been hard on the first-time mother and he wanted to spare her the brunt of her husband’s backward views.
“How are you, Mary?”
“It was meant to be a boy!”
Guess they had their heart set on a son.
“Adiran leave.” Said Jonathan with a soft growl.
“But dear brother, I was too late to see my niece born, I can’t be late for my nephew.”
Jonathan gaped at him before the blood drained from his face. He spun to his wife and demanded, “Twins?”
Mary looked just as surprised as her husband. Her gaze traveled to Adiran before she whispered, “It can’t be. All the doctors…”
“Who do you believe? The doctors who predicted a son when a daughter was born or me? I can see the flow of life and magic. You carry one more.”
“And it is a boy?” whispered Mary.
“Indeed.” He gently laid a hand on her head, “It is a boy.”
Adiran looked to Jonathan and said softly, “You will have your much-needed son, though you cannot discount your daughter.”
“Like hell, I can’t! A son must be…”
“I will have no children, Brother. The ascension will go to your son. Do you truly believe you can get rid of your daughter without it being known?”
Adiran waved his hand around at those gathered in the Queen’s bed-chamber. They were surrounded by doctors, priests, mages, and a range of other people. Jonathan’s eyes flicked to the people around him, and his face pulled into a sneer. He wasn’t a terrible man, but he was greedy. He wanted to cement his claim to the throne before Adiran could. It wasn’t necessary, Adiran and his parents had had an arrangement. Jonathan would always get the throne once his father passed on, but he was so worried about what the population would think if the secondborn took the throne.
“And besides, she was born with the mark.” Continued Adiran as he gripped the queen’s hand, soon the contractions would start again, and the second twin would be here.
Jonathan paled, “It cannot be! The legends say only the…”
“The heir to the martial bloodline will have the mark.” Quoted Adiran, “Are you so surprised that a female would inherit the mark? Do you think females are so below you that they can’t pick up a sword and shield to protect what they want to defend? Remind us. How did you meet your wife?”
“Battlefield.” Hissed Mary, “Would have killed you if a truce hadn’t been called.”
Jonathan’s face softened. Mary was right. Their countries had been at war for centuries. It all came to a head when they had met on the battlefield for the first time a few years ago. They battled for hours, trying the wear the other down, neither giving up. He had envisioned the warrior before him to be a man, but when the retreat had been sounded, he glanced back to see a fiery-haired woman throwing her helm after him in disgust.
That was the start of the end of the war. Their kingdoms later signed treaties and they had been promised to each other, much to their disgust. It is why it had taken so long to produce heirs. Mary refused to submit to anyone who couldn’t beat her in swordplay.
His thoughts of their final sword fight were interrupted by Mary groaning in pain as her hands gripped the linen. There was indeed a second on the way. He didn’t like the fact that his bloodline would be ruled by a woman, but he did respect his partner for her strength and valour. He sighed and finally took up the daughter who had been born earlier. She was swaddled and screaming, looking like all newborns looked: ugly and red.
“What would you name her?” he said gently as he sat next to Mary.
“The boy would have been called Magnus.” She panted.
“Magna.” Interrupted Adiran.
“Like grandmother?” Jonathan queried as he looked at the infant, “Why not? The old bat taught me to swing a sword.”
Adiran released Mary’s hand and left the couple to struggle through the breached birth of their son. He didn’t want to be here when the priests and mages did the tests and determined that the boy would be a magic-user. He knew that would break Jonathan’s heart more than a first-born daughter.
“I have gained you two a little more time but not much. Use it wisely.” He whispered as he stepped from the room.
Mortis Custos Parts
|by @lex-zaiya||by @zakludick|
|Part 1 - you are here!||Part 2 - upcoming|