It was a late Thursday night, and the hospital was almost eerily quiet. There were only a handful of nurses moving about, and even fewer doctors. In the minimally lit corridors, a bright light could be seen, seeping into the hallway through a cracked door at the end. A woman’s yell broke through the silence as a nurse hastily walked down the hall.
When she entered the room, she was greeted with another yell. A man standing close to the woman held her hand in his own, she was gripping it hard enough to turn her knuckles white and her fingers red. The nurse stepped up next to the doctor who was urging the woman to push.
Not before long, the yells in the room were replaced by a baby’s cry. “It’s a girl,” the doctor announced to the couple as he gently handed the squirming creature to the nurse, who already was waiting with a towel in her hand.
The nurse carried the baby away to clean it, gently wiping all the gunk off of its face and body. She gave a glance behind her, to make sure the other nurse and the doctor were still busy with the woman, before turning back towards the baby. Very carefully, she pulled open the child’s eyelids, It was difficult to see properly, with the child’s cries and constant wiggling, but the small flash of color she did see was unmistakable.
She froze, the child let out a slightly louder cry, but the nurse wasn’t moving, She didn’t even notice the other nurse coming up to her, to take the baby to its parents. “Are you okay Claire?” she was asking her.
Claire was all too glad to hand the child over. “I… I don’t feel too well…” She excused herself, trying to keep all emotion out of her voice. She headed out of the room, away from the baby. She didn’t know where she was going, but she kept walking down the hallway, away from the room. As she walked, she collected her thoughts, calming herself down as she descended via a staircase, and walked out away from the hospital.
After she stopped to catch her breath, she pulled out her phone and dialed a number that she knew by heart, but would never dare to save on her phone. There was a ring. Then another one. After the third ring the call was answered and a single tone signaled her to speak. She gave her name, both of them, her location, and name of the hospital. “A baby has been born here, a female with purple eyes,” she said in the calmest tone she could manage. Not expecting an answer, she hung up and sat down on a nearby bench.
Eventually she came back inside to clock herself out, she had been working overtime anyways. As she picked up her coat and headed out the door, her path was blocked by four hooded figures in floor length robes. They all bared the symbol of a six pointed star on their right sleeve, with two of them having an additional circle connecting all of the points. It would’ve been a strange sight for any normal person, but only one of the other nurses on duty seemed to notice their arrival, he showed very faint surprise, but didn’t stick around to see what was going on.
One of the figures with the star that lacked a ring walked forward and lowered their hood, it was a man who appeared to be only in his mid to late 30s, but Claire knew he was probably much older than that. “Klariss?” He said it as a question, but she knew it was only formalities as they must already know it was her.
She nodded to the man just as another nurse walked by, they gave her a glance as if she was crazy, which Claire ignored. She knew they couldn’t see the four figures in front of her.
“Are you sure the child is as you say?” The man asked, without as much as acknowledging the existence of the other nurse as they walked past them without any contact, not even brushing a shoulder of one of the hooded figures.
She nodded once more, and despite no words being exchanged, they knew exactly where to go as they silently continued into the hospital. Claire had the curious urge to follow them, but knowing what had to happen next, she wanted to have no further part in it. She left with a heavy heart, but she knew it was for the greater good.
After the doctor and nurses left Marie looked down at the little bundle in her arms with great sadness. She was still acting a bit fussy, but seemed to calm a bit in her mother’s embrace, at least she was no longer crying. “I want to name her Arsyss,” she said to her spouse.
She looked up at him, he was holding a second bundle of blankets, rocking the tiny boy right and left. Despite his gentle manner, his arms were tense. “Marie…” Zachary spoke in a soft tone, “You know we will have to turn them over, do you really think you should be naming them?”
“What do you think we should name him? He looks so sweet sleeping.” She continued, pretending he hadn’t said anything.
“Symoria.” He said warningly to her, still keeping his tone as gentle as he could.
“Didn’t you say before if we had a boy you’d like the name Vycore?” She paused for a second as she thought over the name, then nodded, “I like that name. Vycore and Arsyss, what a pair they would be.” She let out a small laugh, but it was not joyous; her eyes were beginning to fill with tears.
Zach let out a sigh and sat down on the edge of the small hospital bed. He reached out to place a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged him away as tears began to roll down her cheeks.
“It’s not fair,” she mumbled just loud enough for him to hear her, “I don’t want to let them go.”
He opened his mouth to say something but at that moment one of the nurses came back into the room. “Alright,” she said cheerfully, “I’ll take them and get them set up in the nursery and let you get some rest.”
Marie nodded to her, hiding her tears. Zach didn’t take his eyes off of her as the nurse gently took Vycore from him, ”I’ll be back in one second,” she said happily and then left the room. It was silent after she was gone, except for the sounds of Arsyss fussing in her blanket.
It had only been a few seconds since the nurse left but the sound of the door closing alerted them to the fact that they were no longer alone. Marie didn’t look up, she was too busy trying to memorize all the tiny features of her daughter’s face. Zachary on the other hand, immediately stood when he looked at the four cloaked figures that had entered the room.
As if on command, all four reached up and drew back their hoods, the younger of the two were both males, neither much older than Zach himself, among the two elders there was a woman with long silver hair and a man who’s hair was just beginning to grey.
“Zyndar,” The older man said, addressing Zach.
“Father . . .” Zachary said, not taking his eyes off of him. The two stared at each other for a long time, the two younger males didn’t seem too keen on interrupting them, but it didn’t take long for the woman to step in.
“Zyndar, I know this is difficult for you and your mate, but you know it is what must be done. Hand over the child and it will all be over soon.” Her tone was strict, but not unkind.
Zach looked towards the woman for a moment, then glanced back at Marie. She was hugging the child close to her chest, tears rolling down her face. It broke his heart to see her like this and it almost made him want to tell them off, but he looked back at his father and knew it was what needed to be done.
He bent down over Marie, gently placing his hand over one of hers. She tightened her grip on the child, causing Arsyss to let out out a small whine. As Zach slipped his arm around the baby, she loosened her hold, allowing her arms to go limp as she watched her loved one take her daughter away.
Arsyss began to cry once again, one of the other men stepped forwards and placed his hand lightly on her head and she immediately fell asleep, as easily as if he had flipped a switch. He then held out his arms to take her from Zach and he was slightly surprised to find he didn’t want to hand her over. He could feel her tiny faint heart beat through the blanket, he could feel her small lungs breathing as she slept so peacefully, how could she-
“Zyndar.” his father said urgingly to him.
It was almost painful as he pried his eyes off of her and gently handed her over to the man, who seemed to shudder at having to hold the child.
It was just then that the nurse came back into the room. “What on earth-” she began when she saw a robed figure carrying the newborn, but almost immediately her eyes seemed to glaze over and she swayed for a moment, as if dizzy. Once she straightened back up she seemed to have forgotten where she was and stumbled back out the door.
“You’ve done the right thing, son,” Zach’s father said with a firm tone, unmoved by the interruption. Then, all four disappeared in a blink of an eye, leaving no trace they had even been there at all.
He turned back to Marie, she was no longer crying, in fact she had no emotions at all, she was simply staring at the place where they had been standing a moment before. After a long moment she finally looked up at him, the blankness of her expression was even more painful than seeing her cry. Without a word, she turned away from him and laid down in the bed, a hand resting on her stomach.
He walked over to her and softly placed a kiss on her head, she didn’t react. “I’ll be back in a little bit,” he said. He didn’t want to tell her where he was going, he didn’t want to get her hopes up, but he wasn’t ready to give up everything right now.
“The Council is in session, only Council Members can enter.” The woman said to Zach as she stood firmly in front of the door. Her eyes flashed red for a moment almost as if she was challenging him to try to get past her.
The Spire, as The Council building was known, was seated on a vast, empty, hill, overlooking the ocean. There was powerful magic shielding it from the eyes of the mundane. Large glass windows allowed natural light from the sun to pour in, illuminating everything, not to mention providing a wonderful view. During the night the moonlight wasn’t enough to light up the building in its entirety, and so majority of the light came from hundreds of tiny crystals floating freely, like stars lighting up the high sky that was the roof.
“Please, I just need to speak with my father,” Zachary said, trying to keep his tone calm and level, “it will only take a moment, if you could fetch him-”
“Only Council Members are allowed in the chamber during session,” She repeated, gesturing to the star on the sleeve of her jacket, it lacked a ring, the symbol of The Council. “I am not a member, therefore I cannot enter. You will have to speak to him afterwards.”
“Is everyone present?” A third voice said and Zach turned to see a tall man with dark hair standing just behind him.
The guard straighten up immediately, “Yes, they are awaiting you.” she told him.
“Good,” He said to her, she stepped aside to let him pass.
“Darthiak, wait.” Zach said, although he wasn’t too much of a fan of the other man, but he had to do something.
The other man stopped and looked at Zach with brief surprise as if he had just noticed him there then his expression turned to the very mildest of interests. “Zyndar, I heard it was your Chaotic offspring we were performing the Cessation Ceremony for. What do you want from me? I have things to do, so please make it fast.”
“I was hoping to speak to my father,” Zach sighed as he knew the possibility was probably pretty slim, “or, could I at least speak to you for just a second before you go in there?”
Darthiak considered the proposition for what seemed like an eternity before responding, “I suppose it couldn’t hurt, I’m already late, so the quicker this is over the better.” He said as he stepped away from the door and motioned for him to walk more towards the center of the room so the guard wasn’t able to completely eavesdrop on their conversation.
“Thank you,” Zach said as he walked, although he knew he was probably only agreeing to it out of curiosity.
“So speak,” Darthiak said as soon as they were far enough away.
Zachary took a second to gather his thoughts, what he wanted to ask was illegal, so strictly illegal, but so was killing innocent whelps, right? “They’re just babies, perhaps if we raised them to be good, things wouldn’t have to be this way.” The words just tumbled out of his mouth as soon as he began talking, “I understand the fear we have for them, but they’re just innocent babies, Arsyss and Vy-”
Darthiak held up his hand to silence him, his expression suddenly bored. “You know as well as anyone that the council has tried to do that before, but our ignorance led to the death of hundreds of our people. These babies may be innocent now, but after a few years they become dangerous weapons, this is what must be done. Now if you’ll excuse me,” He walked towards the council chamber doors but then paused and looked behind him. “Arsyss? You really shouldn’t have named it, it just makes it more painful for yourself.”
He went into the council chambers without another word. Zachary stared after him, feeling hopeless. He had the urge to burst into the room and snatch his children back, but he knew that would be horrible in so many ways.
The guard gave him a very brief sympathetic look, but it was quickly replaced by her normal impassive gaze. The sun was just beginning to rise as he left, headed back to the hospital, certain that Marie needed him right now just as much as he needed her.
As expected, all eleven other members of the council were already seated at the long, semicircular table that faced the entrance of the council chambers. Darius was the newest member of the council and still had to get used to the feeling of entering the chambers and having all the other elders staring at him; it was almost intimidating, almost. “You must forgive my lateness,” he announced as he entered, “it was a long flight.”
He glanced over at Maliark, seated near the center of the table. It was his grandchild after all that they were taking care of today, but he didn’t seem near as concerned as his son that had just wasted 30 seconds of Darius’s time. “Your delay is forgiven, now we can begin,” said Dalia, the oldest of the elders who was situated the center of the table. Darius walked over and sat down in his chair at the very end of the table.
Dalia stood from her seat as soon as he sat down, “As you are all well aware, we have gathered to perform a Cession Ceremony, it has been 50 years since the last ceremony was performed. Although it seems the birth of a chaotic child is becoming much more rare, it appears the aura protecting them when they are born is growing stronger.”
She walked to the back of the room after having finished speaking and then walked to a pedestal placed inside the center of the semicircle and placed a small baby upon it. Although Darius knew it was only sleeping, the stillness of it made it appear as though it was already dead.
“Maliark, if you could, please turn the child to the true form.” said another elder by the name of Saarthil.
Maliark gave a single nod and stood, he walked around the table and joined Dalia next to the child. He looked down at it and his eyes turned from a pale green to a dark golden amber color. Normally for someone as powerful as Maliark the transition should have been almost instantaneous, but it seemed the tiny sleeping infant was extremely resilient, as it took him at least half a minute before any change started to occur.
Usually transitions happen as a simple, quick, morph, but this was more like a curtain was slowly pulled back to reveal the truth behind it. All the elder’s watched the child’s gradual shift silently. The arms and legs lengthened, the skin became harder and changed colors, the mouth and nose lengthened and the eyes became larger and wings and a tail sprouted from it.
After the change was finished Maliark’s eyes returned to their pale green color and he returned to his seat. There was no longer a human child on the pedestal, instead a small dragon with dark indigo violet scales laid before them. It moved slightly in it’s sleep and the intake of breath could be heard from a few of the council members.
Darius looked around and noticed that despite their placid appearance a few of the other elders had fear in their eyes. He understood it, but did not share it. In fact, he found the sight of small chaos dragon intriguing more than anything.
“The child’s magic is very resistant,” Maliark said as he watched the baby dragon shift in it’s sleep, “Although we may be able to perform our own, there’s no telling how long it will last. It is already starting to wake up.”
Dalia nodded in agreement, “Yes, we will need to do this quickly. Darthiak could you assist Elkia? Try to suppress the aura a bit?”
Although he had hoped not to have to do anything, Darius had no choice in the matter. He stepped forward along with Elkia, the third oldest member of the council, she had gone blind long ago, but it seems to have only strengthened her abilities – after all you didn’t need eyes to have power over the mind.
Just let me know when, a voice said in his mind.
From his seat he couldn’t really sense the aura coming from the child, but now that he stood next to it, the feeling coming from it was as very obvious and very strong. He began working immediately, attempting to use his natural resistance to magic to remove the magical protections the child had placed around itself.
He took longer than he’d like, and he had to focus to keep the child’s power down, but eventually he got it to a more reasonable level, at least one where Elkia could work. He didn’t say anything, but that wasn’t necessary for her to feel when he felt comfortable enough, and she began right away, her pale white eyes turning black as she began her magic.
Although Darius had been told how the Cession Ceremony would go, this was the first one he’d ever been apart of. Elkia should be using her abilities to shut down the child’s mind, like making it fall into an eternal sleep.
Suddenly though, the dragon’s eyes flew open and Darius was hit with a strong wave that actually pushed him back. He tried to keep control of the aura around it, but he was struggling and it appeared Elkia was also struggling. It only took a second, but soon they were joined by their counterparts, Revenis and Kiinsa. With Revenis helping Elkia and Kiinsa helping Darius they got it under control quickly.
The child’s eyes closed once again and it’s head dropped down. Soon it wasn’t moving at all and the aura faded all together. “It is done,” Elkia announced, and everyone shared a look of relief.
With the ceremony complete a few of the elders left immediately after dismissal, a few stayed a little longer to give condolences to Maliark. Soon only five of the twelve elders remained, including Maliark, Dalia, and Darius.
As the council was no longer in session the council chambers were no longer forbidden from the others and a few of the more curious apprentices came into the room to see the body of the chaotic dragon, but most didn’t stay long.
“We still need to take care of the remains,” Dalia said, before turning to Maliark. “As it is your grandchild, would you like to . . ?”
“I… I don’t have the heart to bring to my son what should’ve been a normal daughter,” he looked up at Dalia, who nodded in understanding. “Nor would I want him to see her in such state, it’s best if she remains in his mind as a forever young bundle of innocence.”
Dalia was understanding and wouldn’t pry, however it didn’t solve the need for someone to take care of the whelps body. Before discussion could start, Darius took the stand. “I can take care of her discreetly if you’d so like, Maliark. As a remedy for my late arrival.”
“Dalia already excused your lateness,” Maliark spoke dismissively. “The council was brought up at a very short notice, it would be unjust to require instant appearance. However, if you so desire, I allow you to handle it.” As the issue was settled, the room emptied, leaving Darius alone.
He observed the child carefully. It held immense power for a newborn, it’s almost a shame they had to rid the world of it before it got a chance of developing further. He covered the whelp in the blankets it was brought in, and headed out. The sun was already up and humans were starting to head off to work, so flight was out of question. He headed for the nearest train station, wondering about what Zyndar has said.
It was foolish to think you could simply ‘raise them to be good’. But what if instead of opposing their nature one would go along with it? They’re children, they could be taught to obey if they didn’t realize they’re feared by others. Perhaps a strict hand, whilst not able to stop them, could be able to control one, at least to an extent.
His stream of thought was broken as the bundle in his arms twitched slightly. He stopped dead in his tracks, staring down at the pile of blankets, which was as still and silent as it should be. Darius was about to brush it off as his imagination, when a gentle, rhythmic sway could be felt through the sheets. The sway caused by shy breathing of the creature inside. With a mix of shock and terror, Darius was about to turn back to the Spire, but he found himself unable to do so. A thought creeped into his mind, at first his duty as a Council Member made him reject it, but he began to realize, as he let the thought develop, it could work.
He could keep her, in secret. Everyone already believes her to be dead and, in a few months time, he could pretend he has adopted a girl and nobody would suspect a thing. He could raise her properly, and show the council just how wrong they have been.
He smirked to himself as he decided, “You’ll need a human name, Arsyss… How about Alissa?” He said quietly and then he continued down the road.
When he arrived at the hospital Zach half expected Marie to be gone, in fact, a small part of him hoped she was. It would have been easier than having to face her after he failed to save their children. As he neared the room he could feel his heart sinking lower and lower in his chest, he could see her before he even entered the room, still lying there motionless with tear stained cheeks. He took a deep breath before he pushed open the door.
To his surprise though, he was greeted with a completely opposite sight. The soft golden morning light poured in through the window, illuminating the room with an almost cheerful brilliance, “There’s daddy,” said the human nurse with a smile, it was the same one as the night before, “I’m just finishing up my shift, you guys take care now.” She said happily before leaving the room.
Marie looked at Zachary and smiled at him, it wasn’t as joyous as the nurse’s smile, there was still a hint of sadness in her expression, but it wasn’t a fake smile, she was truly happy and it didn’t take him long to see why. Resting gently in her arms was a baby, for a moment he thought it might have been someone else’s child, but after walking forward to get a better look, he became certain it was their child, their little Vycore. He was awake now and was looking around with his vibrant purple eyes.
“How-… I thought…” Zach was speechless as he stared into his son’s eyes and his son looked back at him, a little sleepily, but looking as if he was happy to see him.
“They must not have realized it was twins.” Marie said, clearly having already figured out what Zach was trying to understand. “They only knew that one had been born, not two.” A million thoughts were flying through Zach’s mind but he didn’t know what to say, Marie continued. “Of course I don’t think there’s ever been twins before so the thought wouldn’t have even crossed their mind . . . We have a chance darling.” As she spoke her voice got gradually lower, the last part was spoken almost as a whisper.
“A chance for what?” He asked her although he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.
“We’re all taught to fear them from the second they are born, we’re taught to fear them not because they’re dangerous, but because they’re more powerful than us. Power is only dangerous when it’s in the wrong hands. We could raise him to be good, we could-”
“The council has tried that before,” Zachary said, remembering what Darius had said. “It still ended badly.”
Marie sighed and shook her head slightly, “The Council raised that child, it was kept under lock and key and always had someone watching it, it was treated no better than a prisoner, of course it would have grown up to feel a hatred towards the ones who raised it, there was no love in it’s life. If it would have been treated with the love and kindness as any normal child then maybe things would have been different.”
“Maybe things would have been different.” He restated, “There’s no guarantee that anything would have changed, do you really want to take that chance?”
Marie looked at him with complete and utter determination, “Yes. I’d be willing to take any chances.” Then she looked down at her son in her arms, he giggled slightly at her. “We owe it to him to at least try.”
After a moment of silence Zach opened his mouth to speak again and Marie reached over to him and gently grasped his hand in hers, silencing him before he even got anything out. “I know it would be difficult for you, especially since your father is on The Council. I could raise him on my own, you can go back to your life and you won’t have to tell any lies, just tell them I left you.” She said to him and then she released his hand and Zach realized she had placed a ring in his hand.
To a human it was just a simple golden band that symbolizes marriage, to them though it was so much more. Zach’s eyes widened, “No, I can’t lose you.” He said in a panic thrusting the ring back towards her.
She gave him a soft look, the gentleness of her eyes always managed to calm him down, “You won’t be losing me, but you can’t leave and I can’t stay. He needs to be raised away from our kind so there would be no one prying into our lives. This is the only way.” She said as she reached back up and curled his fingers around the ring.
“What if something happens? I can’t-”
She laughed quietly, “You know how to contact me, and I can always contact you, just in case of emergency though. Too much would raise questions, you know that.”
As he looked at her he knew there was no talking her out of it, once she set her mind on something it was not easily changed. He gave her a single nod and looked down at his son one last time, he stared into his eyes and watched as they changed from purple to a soft blue, then he looked back up at his mate. They shared a mutual look of understanding and she said “Thank you,” to him and then he left, not knowing if he’d ever see her or his son ever again.