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Hidden Souls

Summary

A book on spirits, kings, alternate wolds and the unbreakable bond between two siblings.

 

Chapter One: Birth

Chapter One

 

“It’s a boy!!” Screamed the healer, holding me up.

 

“What?” Everyone was aghast as they looked at my small naked form, my round golden eyes looking around at the new world.

 

“How strange. Well, I guess that just means his spirit will be a weak one.”

 

“Hmm I don’t know. Look at those eyes. He has strong, golden eyes. There seems to be quite the powerful spirit behind that gaze.”

 

I gurgle, not knowing what was going on, just happy that everyone was looking at me.

 

“And his hair. It has streaks of white in its golden locks.” The healer holding me touches my head, showing the long streaks of light ivory in my otherwise blond hair.

 

“White? Really? How interesting.”

 

“Please everyone, calm down. He has yet to be named and people are already fussing over him.” Warm hands take me into their embrace and I look up into gentle, loving green eyes. I blinked, not understanding the overpowering affection in my mother’s eyes. It’s safe and warm here. I sigh, my eyes starting to feel heavy.

 

“Look how precious he is. I can feel it, you’re going to be someone special when you grow up. Aren't you, my little one?” My mother coos at me, gently stroking my face. I give a happy squeak, my balled up hands raising up.

 

“Oh look! He can raise his hands.” Another figure comes into my view, their happy face glowing as they look down at me.

 

“What do you think, Aaron? Isn’t he beautiful?”

 

“Yes, he’s very handsome. He takes after his mother’s enchanting beauty.” At that, my mother’s face becomes strange and she laughs.

 

“It’s interesting a boy was born at all. He was supposed to be a girl.” A whispery voice mutters, casting cold brown eyes upon me.

 

“Come now elder. Certainly my newborn son only means good fortune for my family. Boys equal power in this household after all.” My father soothes, a bright smile on his face as he gazes down at me.

 

“Don’t be a fool king. This child means nothing but misfortune for the royal family. You know the rules.”

 

The man laughs, shaking his head. “Please, those haven’t been put into play for years.”

 

“That’s because there was no reason too! Ever since the beginning, kings have listened to those who are closest with the spirits, and I highly doubt you want to stop listening now.” The other huffs, clearly getting upset.

 

“Elder please. You know I respect you, and I won’t hesitate to listen if what you say is true. However,” Here father narrows his eyes, his tone becoming dark “If you push this matter any farther, then I will take this as a threat on my family. My wife just gave birth to a healthy boy. Celebrate, not yell for his murder!”

 

Mother gasps, her eyes going wide and her arms pulling me closer to her chest. “You…want to kill my son? You would kill a newborn child?” Mother whispers, inching away from the man. I blink, not understanding her fear. Mother?

 

“Dear, don’t worry. It’s a rule that hasn’t been used since the beginning of this kingdom. It’s a meaningless threat. Right, elder?” Father glares at the other, his hand on mother’s shoulder.

 

“Humph.” The man responds, looking away.

 

“See? There isn’t anything to be afraid of. Nothing will hurt our son.” Father says, kissing mother’s cheek before kissing mine. But as he pulls away I reach out and grab his golden hair, squeezing lightly.

I let out my first laugh, raising my hands up into the air and waving them around. Father’s face breaks out in a big smile, his hand gently ruffling my hair. I squeal, reaching forward and pulling on his golden hair.

 

“He sure has a lot of strength for a newborn.” Someone mutters, casting me a wary gaze. “Perhaps he really is a…”

 

Suddenly, there is a loud sound followed by cries.

 

“Where is he? Where is my little brother?” A figure comes into view as mother waves it over, the person looking down at me into my golden eyes.

 

“What do you think about your little brother, Scian? Cute right?” Father says, ignoring the others.

 

“He's...beautiful.” The figure called Scian breathes, his hand gently touching my face.

 

“Isn't he?”

 

Mother looks so happy, her whole being is glowing!

 

“What is his name?”

 

“We haven't decided yet. He is only four hours old Scian.” Father responds.

 

“Then how about Orian? Or Ray?”

 

“Ray? Like a beam of light?” Father asks, tilting his head.

 

“Yeah. You know, because of his unique eyes and hair.”

 

“No, I've already chosen a name. Avshai, meaning a gift from the heavens.” With this, mother kisses me on my forehead, whispering my name in my ear.

 

“Very well. Then this child shall be called Avshai, the second prince of Zaphire!” There is more noise then, and the others all give something called congratulations to Father and Mother, before leaving, the one called elder giving father a look that he returns before following the others.

 

“Mom, can I hold him?”

 

“Not yet Scian, he needs to eat first.”

 

“Oh don't be such a stiff Aaron. Here, just be careful with him, ok? Don't drop him.”

Suddenly I’m removed from my warm place and colder arms wrap around me. I let out a small cry of protest as Scian adjusts, nearly dropping me.

 

“Ahh!! Watch him!” Father walks quickly forward, carefully pushing me back into Scian’s arms.

 

“Sorry. I got him now dad, you can let him go.” Father makes an odd noise but removes his hands. I whimper, not liking being away from my mother.

 

“Shh it's ok Avshai. I got you now.” Something touches my face, forcing me to look into Scian’s eyes. I bubble as a warm and fuzzy feeling overwhelms me, Scian’s light blue eyes flecked with green slowly fill with emotion, a small rumbling noise coming from his chest.

 

“There, better isn't it? Don't worry your big brother's got you. I won't let you fall.” Scian whispers, holding me close. “I’ll protect you Avshai, till you're big and strong. Then we can rule this world together, hand in hand. Together forever, ok?”

 

I squeal and pull on Scian's black hair, letting him know in my own way that I completely agreed.

 

Chapter Two: A King's Secret

Aaron’s POV

I smile, looking at the image of my grown family. My firstborn holding our newborn, their mother, my precious and dear queen, gazing over at them with a contented and happy look in her green eyes. This is what I have to protect. This image, this peace and happiness. I can’t let another taint it.

 

Sighing, I kiss my wife’s head before whispering that I would be right back. She nods, her eyes never leaving our two sons. Laughing under my breath I leave the birth room, slipping outside into the hallway where the lead priest is waiting for me.

***

Blinking, I open my eyes, feeling like I was awoken by something. Looking around the birth room I see my mother and newborn brother, both curled tightly around one another and sleeping quite peacefully. Confused I look around again, realizing that my father wasn’t here.

 

“Dad?” I call, my voice slightly echoing around the cold room. A twinge of unease flickers in my gut, making me unable to sit still. Getting up from where I had fallen asleep by my mother’s side, I walk out of the room, looking around before picking whether to go right or left and walking down the hallway. Soon I hear voices, and as I get closer I realize one of them is my father.  My father’s voice stood out, and I could tell from his tone he was upset. Softening my footsteps I warily try to get closer, turning around a corner to run straight into something, landing on my butt.

 

“Sican? What are you doing here? You should be with your mother.”

 

Looking up I see my father’s golden eyes, wide in surprise.

 

“Sorry. But I was just wondering where you were.”

 

“Ah, I was just talking to one of the priests. There’s nothing to be worried about.” Father smiles in a way that I know he is lying, his eyes closed so he doesn’t have to look at me. But I nod and get up, walking with my father back to the nursing room, a crawling feeling making me unnerved as Father pushes me inside the room, but doesn’t go in himself.

 

***

 

“Your Majesty, please consider my proposal. The kingdom to the south of us isn’t to be trusted, they have long since wanted your futile lands.”

 

I sigh, pinching the bridge of my nose as I stare over the man’s shoulder, a spider happily weaving it’s web in the right corner of my advance room. I really have to talk to the maids. They are getting to lazy lately. As my adviser drones on my eyes fall to the wooden floor and how the yellowish light reflects off the polished surface, giving the room a warm and homey feeling. Brushing my hands along the rough stone table, I focus on a particular caving of a dragon, the elaborate detail consuming most of my attention. This whole room is supposed to tell the story of my ancestors journey through Espirca, and how after three rough years they founded and built this kingdom. Frowning, I reach my hand over to the one nearest to the elaborate chair I am in, circling around the carving’s sharp edges. That’s odd. I don’t remember a carving of a phoenix here. When was this-

 

“What do you think Your Majesty?”

 

Jumping slightly in my seat I look up to see all of my advisers looking at me, their eyes full of expectation.

 

“I think that war is a ridiculous idea, at least when it’s on such weak evidence.”I reply smoothly, knowing by the expression on the speaker’s face that he knew I hadn’t been listening. Returning his gaze I smile, trying to keep my hands from clenching.

 

“That is a fair point majesty. What if we were to send a few ambassadors over there to check things out? I am sure that if they went as merchants they would be quite safe.”

 

Nodding I wave my hand, signaling for us to move on.

 

“That’s all we needed to cover, Majesty.”

 

“Good. Then you all can leave.” I respond, gesturing for the southern representative to come forward while the others file out quietly, a few giving the southern man a few curious glances.

 

“What do you think? I noticed how the court wasn’t really listening to your opinion.” I ask, tilting my head so that my black hair hid my eyes from view.

 

“I don’t think my country plans to harm yours, majesty. I believe that they are too focused on the heir’s coronation.” The man responds calmly, staring politely down at my feet.

 

“Is that so? And you don’t think this new king will want to bother us?”

 

“No. The crown prince is quiet the calm fellow, he fully embodies the saying, “Calm as the sea.” Which is quite hilarious seeing as he has a fire spirit as his other half.”

 

Nodding I dismiss him, sighing as soon as he’s gone. Getting fairly up I stretch, feeling the soft flow of my spirit’s energy warm me, my skin slightly glowing as I make my way towards my queen’s bedroom, slipping quietly inside.

 

Tiptoeing over to the bed I see my wife and our newborn son, the year old child peacefully sleeping.

 

Gently taking Avashi from his mother, I hold him close to my heart,  feeling the warmth of his breath on my chest. Suddenly his eyes open sleepily and gaze into mine.

He bubbles, seeming to question me.

 

“Shh it’s alright Avashi. I just want to hold you.” I sooth, trying to get him to fall back asleep. Instead he reaches out and slaps my cheeks, golden eyes peering into mine with such intensity, I thought I could see his very soul.

 

He makes a chirping sound, seeming  to say “Cheer up!”

 

Not able to help it, I burst out laughing, effectively wakening my wife.

 

“Aaron? Why are you laughing?” Rose asks sleepily, blinking. “Did Avashi do something funny?”

 

“No, no. It’s nothing.” I respond, turning away from her and back to the eyes of my youngest son, quietly whispering in his ear “I will never let anything happen to you.” Stealing my words, I tenderly kiss my son’s two eyes and forehead, wishing with all my heart and soul that I would never have to fulfill any of the vows I had made.  

 

Chapter Three: New World

Chapter Three Avashi’s POV

 Soon I am removed from one place to another, except here I am all alone. I constantly cry for my mother, I don’t like the dark.

But only a different person comes, trying to sooth my cries by rocking me. I decide I don’t like this imposter, and refuse to calm down till either my mother or big brother comes. Mother would sing to me and brother would hold me close to his heart and hum to me till I calmed down and fell asleep. Soon the intruder gives up and asks brother to stay with me instead, which he quickly agrees. I think he knew I didn’t like that person, and that I was much happier with him than...that. I was still fed by it, however, and while I was unhappy with this arrangement, I was unable to voice my complaints seeing as no one was able to understand me. But I could understand most of what everyone said, I just chose to not listen.

 

Time passes and I am unable to see mother more and more, to the point where I was lucky if I see her once a day. On one of these rare days, mother was watching me as I play with some blocks. I had just recently discovered this new thing, and was quite excited about them. After all, I was allowed to chew on them as much as I liked, without getting yelled at.

“You really like those blocks, don’t you Ava?”

That was mother’s way of calling me, why I did not know. But then I just smiled and squealed in agreement, making mother laugh.

“You’re so cute Ava. Momma wishes she could be with you every day.”

Looking up from the square things I had been nibbling on, I find mother looking at me with a strange look in her eyes.

I want this too, mama. I think, trying to say this but only able to make spit fly from my mouth.

Laughing, Mother wipes the spit off, a glowing light in her eyes.

“Ma...Maaa. Ma.” I stutter, struggling to say mama. At this mother’s whole face lights up as she runs off, yelling about me saying my first words. After a few minutes I get bored and go back to munching on the blocks. “Mmm..” I hum, mimicking brother. “Maa..” I try again, looking at the open door. Where is momma?

“Mom, have you seen my...” Brother enters the room just as I get up on my legs and wobbly walk towards the door, deciding to look for Mother rather than wait for her.

“OH!! Avshai just took his first steps!” Screams brother, scaring me enough to cause me to lose my balance and fall. I whimper and began to cry, reaching forward for my brother’s comfort. Brother instantly walks over and picks me up, cooing at me.

“Bobo. Boo…” I sob, my young tongue thick in my mouth.

Again, brother’s eyes go wide and I stop crying, laughing at his funny face.

“Boo…boo…Bo!” I giggle, pulling on his shirt.

“Avshai...Are you trying to say “brother”?”

I coo in response, not really getting why this was a big deal. Scian then takes off down the hall with me, yelling as we went: “Mother!! Father!! Avshai just said his first words AND his first steps!”

I squeal as we go down the steps, truly enjoying the ride.

“Prince!! Walk when you're inside!” Someone snaps at us, brother paying them no mind as we burst into another room, nearly running into mother.

“Maa!!” I call, smiling real big. There she is!

“Mom! Avshai just took his first steps then tried to call me “brother”!”

“Really? Just a few minutes ago he said...”

“Maa!” I repeat, getting a little annoyed that no one was paying attention to me.

“That! He tried to say mama!”

“Ok, ok every one. Lets calm down a bit.” Father comes out of the room, looking bad. I gurgle and squirm in Brother’s arms, wanting to be let down.

“Here Avshai. Show Maa and Daa what you did for me a minute ago.” Scian sets me down, mother and brother taking a few steps away then calling to me, making weird moments with their hands. Scared I whimper, deciding brother looks the safest and crawling over to him. But he just moves away, and continues to even as I try to get closer. Letting out a shriek I get up and walk over to him, falling onto his chest on purpose. That earns me a ton of applause and pats on the head, brother even giving me a small kiss. I laugh happily at that, mimicking by grabbing my brother’s face and licking his cheek.

“Eww gross Avshai! What was that for?” Scian rubs the spot where I licked him, and thinking that meant he liked it, I did the same to his hand.

“Stop it! Yeash, is that some kind of show of affection to you? Want me to lick your hand?”

I wave my arms and scream happily, saying “Boo! Boo!” Play! I want to play!

“I think that means yes. Now will you three please leave me alone? I’ve got work to do.” Father then closes the door behind him, leaving mother and brother looking sad.

“Maa? Braa?” I ask, squeezing my brother’s hand. Mama and Brother look sad. Why?

“It’s nothing Avshai. Why don’t you and I go play in your room? I think there might just be a new friend for you to meet.” Scian then squeezes me tight and with a look at mother, walks back to my room. The rest of the day I spend with Scian, playing with a new toy he had gotten me.

 

Chapter Four: Questions

Chapter four Avashi’s POV

 

 “Bro, why iss Maa sso ssad?” I splutter. I struggled with pronouncing my “s” sounds.  Brother had promised to take me for a walk, and that was what we were doing. Well, I was stopping to look at all of the new things.

 

“Because...Well because Dad is having trouble with some things. You’ll understand when you're older Avshai.” He says, watching me with sad eyes.

 

“Ooder?” I ask, struggling with the new word.

 

“Yes, it means when you get bigger.”

 

“Biger? Biger!” I squealed, waving my hands around and running off.

 

“Avshai!” Brother yells, running after me. “Don’t run, you’ll-!”

 

I didn’t hear the last part as I trip over something, falling hard on my knees. I begin to cry, my knee hurting badly as a red substance comes out.

 

“Oww...Bro!!” I cry, rubbing at my teary eyes.

 

“Ah, that’s why I told you not to run! Let me see.” Brother bends down and looks at my knee, sighing when he sees the dirty scrape. “Come on, let's get it clean.” He holds my hand as I get up, whimpering when I put weight on my left leg.

 

“Oww…”

 

“Really...you’re such a baby sometimes, even though you’re already two.” Sighing again as he reaches down and picks me up, grunting. “You’ve gained weight.”

 

“Wiit?” I ask, feeling comforted as soon as Brother picked me up.

 

“W-ei-gh-t. It means how...heavy you are.” Brother explains as we go back inside and into another room, brother gently setting me down in a round thing.

 

“This is going to sting for a bit.” Is all the warning I have before water shoots from the round thing and brother rubs bubbles on my knee. I scream at the pain, hitting brother’s hands.

 

“Stop that, it’s just going to hurt more.” Brother growls at me, stopping my actions immediately.

 

“Better. Just be patient, it will only hurt for a little while longer.”

 

I hum in response, deciding not to do anything that would make brother show that scary face again.

 

“There. Done. Now we just need to bandage it and...” Brother brakes off, staring at my knee. Confused I look down, wondering what the matter was. To my great surprise, where there once was a small cut, there now was only fresh skin.

 

“Maagic!” I breathe, looking at Sican in awe. “Bro maagic!!”

 

“Y--Yeah. I’m magic.” Brother smiles at me, picking me up and walking out of the room and into mine, setting me down on the floor then closing the door behind him.

 

“Avshai, don’t tell anyone about your cut, ok? No one must know.”

 

“Why? Bro isth maagic! It’ss ccool!” I stutter, not understanding the look brother was giving me.

 

“No, not cool! Don’t tell anyone, ok?”

 

I flinch back, a frightening look in brother’s light blue eyes flecked with green. I nod quickly, brother smelling of fear.

 

“Good. Sorry if I scared you.” Brother then gives me a hug, crushing me to his chest and wrapping his warm, comforting arms around me. Yet I could tell they were shaking, and he still strongly smelled of fear.

 

***

 

Scian’s POV

 

I could tell I had scared Avshai, but if fear kept him from saying anything...then that was a good thing. The rest of the day I spent with my little brother, reading to him and playing hide and seek around the castle, making sure he didn’t leave the first floor. By dinner time he was tired from playing all day and fell asleep, making me have to carry him back to our room and tuck him in, giving him a quick goodnight kiss before heading down to dinner. Trying to hold back my anger I forcefully pull back my chair and sit down, trying to ignore how there was only three seats at the dining table.

The next day was one of the rare days I was spared from having to attend lessons, so naturally I would spend it with my adorable little brother. I took him out into the garden so beloved to our grandmother but now suffering from neglect, the once flourishing garden choked with weeds and other undesirable plants.

 

“Brother! What ish thish?”

 

Turning I see Ava holding up a mouse, the little creature quite desperately trying to free itself.

 

“A mouse. You should let it go before it bites you.” I warn, pointing to the ground for emphasis. Nodding Avashi does as I say, gently putting the little mouse down at his feet, the small creature quickly running off into a bush.

 

“Good job Avashi. Now, what was that?” I praise, giving him a pat on the head.

 

“A mowce! It small and go squeak squeak!” He chirps, mimicking the sound the mouse made, making me burst into laughter.

 

“You are too adorable Ava. I am going to have to keep you from those that will steal you for your adorableness.” I laugh, ruffling his golden hair affectionately. He’s three already. How time flies… I can’t help a small sigh from escaping, Ava having long since run off to explore.

 

The rest of the day is spent in the garden, Avashi playing and running around while pointing out every new thing that he saw, smiling the whole time. By the time we had to go in, for it was getting quite dark, the both of us were covered in leaves and dirt, but smiling from ear to ear, Avashi happily holding my hand and singing a song he made himself as we go up to our room. The guards saluted me as we go up, but I don’t miss the whispers that start as soon as they think I am out of earshot.

 

“…Wonder why the crown prince is around the second one so much.”

 

“Yeah. The crown prince will have to start traveling soon. Isn’t it a little cruel for him to be forging such a bond between him and the second prince when he will just be leaving him behind?”

 

“His highness’s duty as the heir should come before anything else, especially the second prince. He’s a bad omen after all, born with markings like that, and a boy to boot!”

 

“Don’t know why they keep him around.”

 

My hand tightening on Avashi’s I pull him subtly closer to me, barely holding back the instinct to kick the soldiers.

 

Closing our bedroom door behind me I pick Avashi up and take him into the washroom, taking off his dirty robes and scrubbing him clean, much to Avashi’s delight. He seemed to really enjoy bath time, happily waving his arms around and splashing in the small puddles on the floor. Grabbing the water pail I rinse him off, and once that was done I wrapped him in warm cloth towels, drying him off best as I could with him squirming around. Once Avashi was dried I bathed quickly, Avashi watching me intently as I scrub the dirt off my chest.

 

“What? Why are you staring at me Ava?” I ask, giving my brother a curious glance as I scrub my lean arms.

 

“Bro big. Much big then I. I small.” Avashi says, gently reaching to touch my chest. “I want to be big like bro.”

 

“Someday I am sure you will be. It will just take time.” I respond, smiling down at my younger sibling.

Finally I wash off and take him back to the room where I dress him in his silk night robe, picking him up and placing him in his bed.

 

“No! I wanna sleep with bro! No!” Ava cries grabbing onto my arms and refusing to let go.

Sighing I agree, secretly only too happy to have him in my bed, snuggled up to me, his soft breathing soothing me into a warm sleep.