I looked down at the ring sitting on the ground, all unassuming innocence. It was large and chunky silver with a slash of deep blue, lapis lazuli maybe, going across the face of it and speckles of diamonds that made it look like the night sky. I picked it up hesitantly. I was unsure of what to do. It was obviously old and valuable and I surely didn’t know to whom it belonged to, but it seemed important. Special even. I grasped it in my calloused hand and debated.
I could use the money if I pawned it. It could pay this month’s rent and I had just lost my job. I stared at it longingly but I knew what I had to do. I walked to the nearest police station and entered the grimy, angry, crowded place nervously. I stopped at the front desk where a harried woman in uniform barked curse words over an off white, abused looking telephone. She hung up violently and gave me a suspicious glare.
“I found it in the gutter. It looked valuable so I figured someone must have dropped it or lost it and was really looking for it”, I said to her and dropped the piece on the counter. She was surprised. Shocked at something I had said? I shrugged and turned to leave.
“Wait”, she cried after I’d only gotten two steps away, “this was reported missing. You need to fill out a report on where you found it.” She smiled at me. Her entire demeanor had changed. It was a rusty smile, but a genuine one. I smiled back and accepted the paperwork. I pulled a pen from my worn jacket pocket and set down my dusty backpack. I tried to find a comfortable spot on the unforgiving, puke orange chair I sat down in. I filled out the paperwork with a sigh and handed it back to her. Another smile exchange and I was out of there.
I hated crowds and angry ones were much worse. I got home soon after and sprawled on my bed listlessly. It had truly been a long, tiring day. I pulled my lyre from my backpack and began finger picking across the strings softly, coaxing a sweet sound from its worn, battered body. My fingers were sore from practice, but I continued. It was the only beauty in this grey existence.
I awoke with a start what must have been sometime later. I’d fallen asleep with all of my clothes on, my instrument clutched in one sweaty hand. Someone was pounding on my door demandingly. I leapt up, lyre in one hand and went to answer it. It was a well-dressed man with a sharp suit that probably cost more than the entire building. You could see the money signs rolling off of it. I recognized him immediately. It was impossible not to. Lord Vladimir, the Duke of Symbalia.
The King’s little brother; a man cloaked in fame, fortune, mystery, and rumor. He was standing at my doorway with an amused look on his face as I gaped at him. No one expects this man to be at their doorstep, at least not someone like me. I invited him quickly inside to my humble, messy apartment. “Are you Traver Dulliae? I’m looking for him”, he said, though we both knew that he was aware that I was Traver. But I nodded dumbly as he gave me an intense stare.
“You found a ring yesterday, yes?” he asked, and I nodded again, “it was mine, I thank you for returning it. It is quite valuable. More valuable than you probably realize. What you do not realize, however, is the fact that my ring cannot be lost or stolen. It can only be called. And then that caller is tested. If they fail, life goes on as normal. But if they triumph, things change. Things change greatly. And you, Traver, you have passed. So now things will be very different.” My brow crinkled in confusion.
“What would you want with a guy like me?” I asked him, “I dropped out of University and I can’t hold a job. I have no friends of importance. I have nothing valuable, no skills or feats.”
“But you do. You have a skill you do not even realize. Tell me about your family”, he said with an amused look on his face again. Or maybe it had never left, I wasn’t sure. “My mother was a journalist for the Starvashia Times. I don’t know who my father is. My mother never told me, but I know they were married for only a week. It’s always been one of the great mysteries in my life”, I explained.
“Your father was Apollo, god of the Sun, of music, and of Prophesy. My mother is Aphrodite, goddess of Love. The gods do not have many children worthy of being a hero anymore. You have proven yourself pure of heart and so you shall join us and receive your inheritance”, said the duke.
I wanted to laugh at him, but he seemed so serious and so sure of what he was saying. He barely even gave me an explanation, and here he seemed sure that I would believe him. But it was crazy; I was not some son of a god, though my mother had been obsessed with Greek mythology, so I knew all the stories. Apollo, the twin of Artemis the hunter, could not be my father. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The ease in which I picked up music.
My tall frame and my gold colored hair. How I knew things before they would happen. How I loved to lie out in the sun when it shone. It made a strange sort of crazy sense, but it was still impossible. Gods and goddesses didn’t exist. I rolled my eyes at him and told him what I thought, which is what always got me into trouble.
“I’m sorry Mr. Duke, sir. I’m not sure what to call you, but you’re crazy. Gods don’t exist and I’m certainly not the son of one”, I said with my air of disbelief. He chuckled after I had spoken and I glared at him, forgetting his station for a moment. Then it dawned on me that this man could make my life even worse than it is right now. I wanted to smack my head upon the nearest surface.
“Just come with me to meet your father and that will be proof enough”, he said with that annoying amused smirk. If I went and he was proved wrong it would all be solved. But what if he was a serial killer or something? I resolved to go with him; I was really curious as to what constituted proof to the existence of gods. He ushered me into a large, black limousine. The driver gave me an amused look I couldn’t decipher. We rode through the poor parts of town quickly and emerged into middle class and finally into the uber rich part of town.
I’d lived in this city my entire life and I’d never been to this section, ever. We approached one of the intimidating structures these people called houses and got out. I gulped. I hadn’t expected him to bring me here. It was definitely not a good place for a guy dressed like me. I was just short of a beggar, and here I was, at the threshold of a magnificent mansion. We went in and I was assaulted by reds and pinks of every hue. “Sorry, my mom’s colors. They take some getting used to”, he said, his dark hair shaking with laughter, “He said he would meet us in the study soon.”
He grabbed my arm and pulled me away. I’d find out what was going on soon enough if he didn’t pull my arm off. I just wanted to know what was going on, that wasn’t too much to ask, was it? We entered a masculine study. Dark red leather walls, books, and the faint scent of cigar smoke. He sat me down in an armchair and plopped himself in the recliner behind a desk. A flash of light startled me and I jumped. All I achieved was falling out of the chair landing on the floor.
“Are you ok, my son? That looked like a nasty fall. I didn’t mean to startle you”, said a voice from where the flash had come from. A man came into my view. He looked too much like me. He offered me a hand up and I took it numbly. “It’s good to finally meet you. I’m glad that I finally can. So many rules and regulations”, said the blond man, bouncing excitedly. This was my father? He acted more like a hyperactive puppy on crack. But he was glowing faintly as he chattered on. “I have gifts for you. As my son you are entitled to certain privileges, plus special gifts I give only to you. As my son you gain a title and lands, but I also give you these three things”, he explained overly joyfully, still bouncing.
He pulled from nowhere a silver lyre. It was, by far, the most beautiful instrument I’d ever seen. I cupped it in my hands and set it to playing position involuntarily. It was perfectly balanced; everything an instrument was supposed to be.
“When played it will make everyone who hears it utter the truth”, explained Apollo, for I was convinced he was a god. This lyre could only have come with a supernatural source. Then he handed me a cell phone. “Divine Cell Phone of Knowledge and Prophesy. With internet and texting capabilities”, said the golden-headed man-puppy. I expected ears and a tail at any moment.
“Let me guess, he’ll prank call the gods”, said Vladimir jokingly, but with an edge of malice.
“And finally, the circlet of healing”, he intoned, setting a silver, metal circle onto my curls, “It will heal you of all ill short of death, and quickly, as long as you wear it. Wear it well. I must go now, though. I have only so much time to be with you.” He grabbed me into a bear hug and then blinded me again as he disappeared with another flash of light.
“Well, that was…………….different”, I said, lyre in one hand, divine cell phone in the other. The duke looked angry and sullen as he wordlessly led me back to the car and now to another mansion. He led me inside this one, which was all of blue and silver. “Welcome to your new home, Lord Travers. I have better things to be doing”, he spat out and turned to leave.
“Wait! Why the mood swings and sudden hate? I didn’t do anything”, I said, grabbing his arm, forgetting my place again.
“My mother gave me one gift, one useless gift. And your father seems genuinely happy to see you and gave you three gifts. My mother could barely be bothered to recognize my very existence”, he said bitterly, green eyes filled with fury and pain.
“What did she give you”, I asked, curious despite myself. He drew forth a long, white scarf. One of those Chanel affairs that men wear with tuxedos in old movies.
“It’s the scarf of adoration. While I’m wearing it any woman who sees me falls in love with me”, he said and threw it to the ground with disgust, “It’s useless and tasteless.”
“That sounds pretty useful to me”, I said, “Or for any guy in general.”
“I’m gay. My mother, who is the goddess of love, doesn’t pay enough attention to even realize her son is gay. She doesn’t even care about me. My own mother”, he said with venom. So I did the only thing I could do. I put down my things and I hugged him. I pulled him close and let him sob into my shoulder. “You are not the only one who had bad parents. I raised myself. My mother was a journalist, always gone, and I didn’t even know who my father was”, I said once his sobs had subsided, “You are not alone. I’ll be your friend.”
He drew back and looked at me as if for the first time.
“You would be my friend? You don’t even know me”, he said with his own air of disbelief.
“We’d best fix that then”, I said, “Now, you have to help me figure out this whole lord thing. It’s not something I’ve ever done before.” He nodded and we walked into what was my new home.
Everything in the manor was scrupulously clean, as though someone had polished it only minutes before. It was not dark like the duke’s had been, but was painfully bright with the light streaming out of unseen windows and sunroofs. It made the silver flash and blinded us for a moment until we got use to it. I seemed to be blinded a lot lately, and not just physically. “When you were born you were registered in the hall of lords. But your father, who is known as an eccentric, if not a god, chose to have you raised as a commoner until your twenty first birthday”, said the Duke, “There was a huge uproar, but he did it anyway.”
“My birthday was three months ago”, I said, confused. “Better late than never, I suppose”, he said with a smile, still rubbing tear streaked eyes. I shrugged; I knew this would only get weirder. “They’ve been planning for you to come back soon. Your new housekeeper, who’s the most OCD person I’ve ever met, is in charge of getting you ready for society. Good luck with her, she’s a beast”, he said with a sigh, “You’ll need a new wardrobe and everything that goes with that. Don’t let them bully you too much; everyone who works here has a fixed view on what the son of Apollo should be. Just feel lucky your parent isn’t Zeus of Athena or Ares, and then you’re expected to go kill monsters in your spare time.”
“What do you do then”, I asked. “Matchmaker. I try to make life easier by bringing love to all”, he said, voice filled with sticky, sweet sarcasm. “What’s my job”, I asked, eyebrow raised. “Well, your father is god of The Sun, prophesy, healing, knowledge, archery, cattle, music, medicine, and the muses. Sp you are in charge of inspiring artists, scientists, doctors, and musicians, as well as contributing things of your own to these fields. You have a broader job title than me. You go around and work on all these things. Sounds like a more interesting job than mine, anyways”, he said with rolled eyes.
We entered into a main entry way, silver steps going up to a landing. The floors some sort of shiny, blue stone set in dizzying patterns. A middle aged woman, who was severely thin, stood at the top and smiled at me brightly.
“Lord Travers, you are the spitting image of your father”, she said gladly, “I have looked forward to you coming for three months now.” She glared at the Duke, as though the delay were his entire fault. “Now, we’d best clean you up and get you ready for what life’s about to throw at you”, she said, leading me towards another door, “Your friend can come visit later.” She glared at the duke again. She really didn’t seem to like him at all. I waved goodbye to Vladimir helplessly as she dragged me away. He rolled his eyes and told me he’d be back in the evening. “I’m Cynthia, your housekeeper. I’ll get you cleaned up and see if you’re knowledgeable in all the things a lord and a son of Apollo should know”, she said with exasperation, “If only he’d have brought you home younger.”
“You know my father? And I’m smart; I just don’t do so well in school. I get bored”, I explained sheepishly. “I expected as much. That’s your father’s influence. Smartest god in the pantheon, but not enough patience to help; I swear the man had ADHD”, she said with a shake of her head, “But he’s good and he tries to help. Hopefully your mother’s the calmer type. Is she joining us soon?” “She died three years ago, right before I went to college”, I said sadly, “so she won’t be joining me.”
“Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know”, she said, patting my arm awkwardly, “Well, off to the shower with you, a nice, warm shower always cheers me up.” She shoved me into a bathroom and closed the door with a harsh click. The blue and silver motif extended here as well. It was large enough to be a house all its own. One side was a shower, and set close to it was a set of clothes, sweats and such, and the largest towel I had ever seen. I still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced this was all real, but I was still in yesterday’s clothes and I was dusty and sticky and just gross in general. I still had my gifts to deal with as well. I set them on the lavish sink top and hopped into the shower.
Pulling on sweats and grabbing my gifts, I opened the door meekly. “Good. You need a haircut and measuring for a new wardrobe”, she said, pulling a lock of my shaggy hair. “Just a trim. I like my curls”, I said, trying to pull my hair from her iron grasp. “Very well. Just a trim”, she said, rolling her eyes. “And no ties. Comfortable clothes. Jeans and t shirts”, I said quickly; I was not prepared for the three piece power suit I’d seen the Duke in.
“You will need suits for when you meet the other lords”, she said pleadingly. “I get to veto any suit I don’t like”, I said, relenting despite my resolve to keep free of the things. She sighed but agreed and pulled me towards a new room. A small, raised platform surrounded by mirrors; a fancy man’s dressing room. Great. This was going to be worse than shopping. The fitting became a blur of colors in a matter of minutes. Measuring and comparing.
At least my so called personal designer liked how I looked in jeans; though he seemed to think that button down shirts were the best thing ever. I grumbled, but he at least seemed to think ties looked silly on me, so I put up with it. The suits were still torture, but I managed to find a couple that were comfortable while still looking stylish and expensive. I hated to think about how much all of this cost and how they were being paid for. The worry on my face must have shown, because in a lull of energy, Cynthia told me that money would never be a problem for me again. I was unconvinced, but realized I had more important things to be worried about.
I finally escaped to what was supposed to be my room. I actually liked it. It was in blue and black, a nice change from the constant blue and silver. It was primarily blue and simple in design. I relaxed for the first time since this whole crazy affair had started. My closet had already been filled with new clothes and my gifts had mysteriously appeared on individual stands.
A knock sounded on the door and Cynthia appeared. “Lord Vladimir to see you, sir”, she said with a sniff of disdain. “Please let him in”, I said, glad to have a friend nearby. A few moments later he came in, fortunately in jeans and a t shirt. Wherever we were going was casual. “I’m going to introduce you to my brother”, he said.
That was the understatement of the year. His brother was the King. The king of the country. “I’m going to meet your brother”, I asked, shocked and surprised at the thought of meeting the king. The duke was flipping through my new wardrobe. He threw a pair of dark jeans at me and a red button up. “Get dressed so we can go”, he said and then left the room.
I emerged a few minutes later, feeling weird in my new clothes. The Duke grabbed me and pulled me away again. He really seemed to like dragging me around everywhere. Into the car with the amused driver again and off towards the very center of the city. The palace. We were already very close and it took little time to get through the imposing gates and into the actual palace. If you were not someone of means or fame, you didn’t get into this castle.
You looked at it from afar wishing you could get in as I had done my whole life. I felt jittery and nervous as the Duke once again dragged me somewhere new. The rooms here were even more luxurious than the ones in the mansions, which I had not thought possible. Than we entered a small (small compared to the other rooms in this castle anyways) dining room where a man I’d seen on national television sat as servers brought elegant food to the table.
“This is my brother, King Johann. He’s wanted to meet you. When he heard you were finally here he asked me to introduce you guys”, said Vladimir. We both sat at the table and began to eat, talking of various things. Fortunately, he was knowledgeable of music and sciences. We were able to hold a passably intelligent conversation. But something was off.
At first it just bugged at the back of my brain. But he seemed so eager to please me and get on my good side. I knew it should be the opposite. I’m not saying he should be mean, but he should not treat me as a trusted friend. And he was. No one is like that if they are smart, and he was the king, raised in what must have been a hot bed of political intrigue. Something wasn’t right, I knew that much at least.
“So, tell me about the gifts your father gave you”, the king asked me suddenly and I was taken aback, “Yes, I know you’re a demi-god, just like my brother. Don’t worry; it’s just useful for kings to have this sort of information.” I absent-mindedly told him of the lyre, the cell phone and the circlet, and he listened with rapt fascination. But it was getting late and I was starting to grow weary and yawned. “Perhaps you should both spend the night, it’s gotten later than I had anticipated”, he said with his own yawn.
I agreed quickly, I really was tired and it had been the strangest day of my life. We were led away by the servers and shown to what must have been the guest wing of the castle and shown rooms. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I woke up feeling like my bladder would explode. There was no adjoining bathroom, so I rushed into the hallway, searching frantically for a bathroom. When I finally thought all was lost I stumbled upon one. Thank the gods. I walked out of the bathroom several minutes later and realized I had no idea of where I was. I obviously wasn’t familiar with the castle, and this was a foreign looking place compared to the guest wing. I wandered around looking for a helpful servant who might show me towards where my room might be when I heard laughter. I went towards it, thinking it must be someone who could help me, but when I grew near I grew fearful. It was the king’s voice.
“My idiot brother and the new lord have gifts that I want. My father couldn’t have had me be a demi-god, but I will be all powerful if I take these things from them. But the only way to get gifts from a demi-god is to kill them and claim them as war prize. They’re stronger and faster than me, so I’ll need a clever plan to do it. It can’t be in the castle, that’s asking for civil war, but it can’t be at their houses, they’re too protected. I came to you for advice, old friend”, he said, addressing someone I couldn’t see.
“You must lure them on a trip and get them alone. Your brother will be easy, he trusts you. But I don’t know much about this lord Travers. You’ll need to befriend him and gain his trust, when his guard is down you can strike”, said the mystery man. They exchanged goodbyes and left separate ways. This explained the weirdness at dinner, and made me wish I was back in my old apartment. The king wanted me dead. And he wanted to kill his own brother.
Also, it needs an actual name, so think on that as well......
The Washer Lair
of Nano Knight and The Ninja
- Story idea/rough draft thing. Read it and tell me how bad it is and what i should change please?