Legacy is a story set in the Tyme Universe
Artwork by Sam Pray
This is where it began.
A chair; it was nothing but an overly ornate chair but it had been the center of her life since the day she had been old enough to understand who she was. Carved out of black stone, threaded through with veins of silver, it sat on a stone dais that raised it four feet above the rest of the room. The stone glistened, the veins sparkling at the touch of any light source. Chandeliers of silver grey loops and ropes hung from the ceiling, four of them spaced out but no candles or artificial light spilled from their ornate arms. For now, small lights had been set into the wall behind the dais, lights that had once been burning torches and now offered soft illumination that took the edge off the otherwise cold appearance of the room as a whole. But no amount of lights, or change in them, could remove the impact of the chair itself.
Her jaw tightened at the thought. Fair enough, it was a throne and had been since the planet had unified under one ruling family. Before that it had been the chair of the chieftain of a clan and the actual age of the chair was… unimportant.
It was her birthright, her duty and her curse and the cost of reclaiming it had been high. Too high some might say – she among them during her darkest days. Yet it had been the right thing to do. Leaving her people, her home, under the control of so brutal an enemy wasn’t something she could do.
Every moment that the Raiders held my home, was a moment too long.
There had been no choice but to fight back, to find a way to free her world and the other worlds in System One. Years of planning, building forces, working with the resistance on the ground of each of the five worlds, and then a combined attack from within and without before she’d finally been able to walk into this room for the first time since her seventh birthday.
Blood. The throne room had been decorated with the combined blood of her people and their enemies both. Bodies strewn, whole and in pieces, by the walls, the doors, and one in full, formal Ontourian dress, had sat in the throne – the body of a woman sprawled at his feet. He’d died during the attack but she couldn’t remember his face, only the woman with her throat cut. A final act of defiance by the man who had ruled Chronos and System One in the name of Ontour.
Blonde and black hair, stained with blood, lifeless blue eyes staring at the ceiling, her clothes…
She blinked, clearing the shadow images from her mind – at least for the moment. The dead were gone, buried and the throne room had been cleansed, blessed and rededicated before the coronation ceremony had taken place. Yet, the stain of those deaths remained, ingrained into the stone, the very soul of the room, and no amount of cleansing could change that. Their ghosts, their memories, would remain, lingering in the shadows, to be caught out of the corner of her eye at odd moments.
The rest of the room remained stark, simple in many ways, though large enough to hold at least a thousand people if the need arose. Chairs, simple but elegant, were set along the walls, ready to be pulled out should the need arise, but at other times they remained in place by the walls. Four heavy wood tables, long, dark and well used, sat on the floor in front of the throne, but set a dozen paces away from the first step of the dais. Their matching chairs sat on the far side from the throne, facing the dais, ready to be used for formal meetings, petitions, or other events that might require a first table set up.
It was all as she remembered of the time before the invasion – save for one thing.
Her family. Father, Mother, Uncles, and the babe held in her mother’s arms – lifted up to receive the blessing of the Gods on the very day the attack had taken place. A son, a prince for the family – but one that would not be the heir despite the protests of a few within the council. Even as a child she’d heard the arguments. Traditions had grown, changed over the millenniums. Women had the right to rule, the first born child given the ability to claim the throne as long as they passed the tests, and were accepted by the clergy. But some, a rare and vocal few, still clung to the divine right of man when it came to the right to rule.
Her father, Liam, King of Chronos, had refused to bow to their demands – and had died, along with his wife, and newborn son, in the attack.
Pain banded around her heart, locking in place, until she forced herself to take a deep breath, breaking the constraints. They were gone. There was nothing she could do to change history. Even if she hadn’t been dragged out, taken to safety on the night of the attack, she would have been unable to save them. She’d been too young, seven, a child with only a handful of combat lessons under her belt.
Her wrist ached. The memory of the grip that had tightened on her arm even as she’d kicked and screamed at him. Frostfire. Younger then but his hair white tipped with silver, his gaze firm, determination in every line as he’d dragged her to safety. How many years had it taken her before she’d forgiven him for saving her?
She’d been young, too young to understand at first, and then the stubborn streak that had come with teenage years had hit, and she’d still held onto her anger until it had finally crumbled under the pressure of reality. Bloodline, Frostfire, Spirit-Dancer, and the crew had watched, helped, provided the mask of protection on board a ship many still named pirate, all in the name of an oath given to a dead man.
Yet she’d been too wrapped up in her own anger and grief to understand – no, not understand, to accept it.
“It wasn’t my choice,” she murmured, her gaze moving back to the throne. “I would have stayed and fought with you.”
Fought and died, one more dead child to be discovered in the piles of corpses. Frostfire did the right thing, and I made his life hell for it for far too many years.
What good would that have done, if she’d died with the rest of them? Frostfire had forgiven her, as had the others she’d taken her childish anger out on. She’d learned, grown, tempered her fury, and harnessed her blood gifts. But that night here in the throne room - no, the numbers hadn’t been in their favor. The attack had come with the aid of a small group of traitors, which had allowed the Raiders past the outer and inner defenses both.
Traitors – men and women who had turned their backs on their home, their oaths, in order to fill their pockets. Power and wealth promised, yet many had died during the attack and others had died since.
Yes, that she was certain of, she felt their work even now, through the council, through trade agreements, and spy rings. Steps taken by those still in the service of Ontour and his Raiders continued to cause problems for Chronos and her people at every turn. Traitors and whilst they remained her home, her people, would never be truly safe.
“I’ll find them,” the promise a low whisper spoken to an otherwise empty room. She let out a slow breath, watching the light play off the silver that ran through the black stone of the throne. “They hide, they plot in the darkness, but I won’t give up.”
Time. She needed time to root them out, drag them into the daylight and expose them for the traitors they were. Without proof the accusations meant nothing and she’d been seen as nothing more than a pirate Captain thrown into the position of Queen. Unsuited for rule and in desperate need of a firm, guiding hand. An older, male hand if the council was to be believed. The same arguments they’d presented her father with when he’d refused to set her aside in the line of succession in favor of the new prince – when they’d attempted to pressure him into arranging a marriage for her before she’d been old enough to have a voice in such things.
Those voices had returned, perhaps even from the same men who had spoken up when she was a child. How had they survived? Had they gone underground, or had they been collaborators all along? Oh, she knew the official stories, but getting to the truth was another matter entirely. They’d been quiet at first, then a whisper, a soft word of advice, growing insistent when she continued to seek out other sources of information, or didn’t lean on their words, taking them in as if they were spun of pure gold.
She needed a husband. A hand. A guide. A man…
“I don’t need a husband picked out for me.” She growled, her knuckles tightened, hands curled into fists at her side until she took a deep breath and forced her rebellious hands to uncurl. Anger had no place, not when she might be seen. Another flaw they could use to call into doubt her ability to lead.
So now she was a male hater – nothing could be further from the truth. The idea of having a mate, a husband, and a partner, appealed to her. One that she chose, not one that was forced upon her by the council.
“Your Majesty?” An older male voice broke through her thoughts.
Kayala of Chronos straightened her shoulders and turned. “Yes, Janner?” She pasted on a cool smile. How long had he been there? Not that it mattered, Janner had proven himself trustworthy so far. The man stood just shy of six feet, with white and red hair that had been pulled back into a single braid. The simple blue tunic and pants that marked him as a member of the senior staff in the palace remained undecorated save for silver piping across the shoulders and around his wrists.
“The council, your Majesty. You were expected some time ago.” His voice was calm, but small lines tightened around his eyes.
“I know, and I informed the council that I would be unable to attend.” Unable, unwilling, and with no desire to be a puppet to the council. “As I’m sure you’re aware.”
Janner didn’t smile, though a glimmer of something flashed across his pale blue eyes. “Yes, your Majesty. I informed Councilman Vega of that fact but he was quite insistent that I find you and bring you to the meeting.”
Vega. One of the thorns in her side. “I’m sure he was, but Councilman Vega will remain disappointed. I have other matters I need to attend to.” She let her gaze move to the throne, lingering there for a moment before she turned her attention back to Janner. “I’m sorry, my friend. You’re in an awkward position. Vega is under the assumption that I, as a mere child in his eyes, and unsuited to rule, should jump to his every command, attend each and every minor council meeting, and be led by his wishes, or the wishes of the other members of the council.” She took a deep breath and fought the urge to run her fingers through her hair. Child. At twenty-five she was hardly a child. If her age hadn’t been proof enough, then her time in combat, fighting for the freedom of the system, should have been enough. “He’s using you to try and get my attention, and you lack the authority to tell him no.”
A faint smile flickered across the older man’s lips. “Indeed.”
A game, the entire council wasted time by playing petty power games. A meeting to discuss the impending visit of lord whoever’s son. A meeting to debate the exchange of technology with Thanatos – despite the fact that there was already an agreement in place. An important, time sensitive meeting to arrange the diplomatic – blah, blah, blah. “He’s not going to let this drop.”
“You could put a representative in place, your Majesty.” Janner met her gaze. “One who could help deflect them. It would not be an easy task, and they will try to persuade whomever you choose to then follow their path, but it’s something that even your father used from time to time.”
Kayala blinked, taking a half step back. “I – I wasn’t aware of that.” It made sense. A King wouldn’t have had the time to spare for every small meeting, every tiny detail. Much like a captain he’d have had he’d turn to that he could rely on.
“No, your Majesty, I imagine it’s something that they’ve kept from you.”
And I was too young to know that was going on at the time. She let her gaze linger on Janner’s face, watching for micro expressions that might hint at what was going on in the older man’s mind. “You served under my father, didn’t you?”
“Yes, your Majesty.”
A smile claimed her lips. Janner, one of the first to step forward when she’d reclaimed the throne. His advice had been fair, brutal at times, but fair. “If they have a problem with a young woman, then we’ll see how they take to having a male representative in my place for the minor council issues.”
Panic flashed across Janner’s eyes, his jaw tightening as he took a step back. “Your Majesty, no -there are better choices. I can name a…”
“But you won’t because I’ve made my choice.” She glanced at the throne, letting some of the tension ease from her shoulders. Light played across the stone, catching on the silver flecks and whirls. Memories flared into life, her father, her mother, the long nights, the discussions and the small circle of friends – no, not friends, advisers.
“Yes, your Majesty.” Janner’s head ducked for a moment before he lifted it once more, a firm set to his jaw. “I understand.”
For a moment she saw it, a flicker of movement at the side of the throne. Tall, strong, the smile one that had chased away the darkness in the days before the attack. A single nod. Approval. Then it – he – was gone, leaving only a memory in its place.
“My father left me a legacy, and I intend to honor it.”