Alexis Simmerman: 2nd Place Short Story
Alexis Simmerman won second place for her short story, “Wrath of a Father.”
Akito scowled as the soldiers pushed him along the rocky mountain tops in chains, heading towards the temple separated from the grand city. He’d always known that this day would come the moment he had made his choice to forever leave the mountain to live on the ground. He had accepted the possibility of his capture and punishment, but he had never expected it to come so soon. Two people were waiting in the ceremonial grounds of the temple for the ensemble to arrive, Akito’s father who was glaring at his son with an immense fury and Raine, the royal high sorcerer, who seemed tiny compared to their king.
The guards forced Akito to his knees in front of his father, a humiliating action that he would have rather accepted death over.
“So, after all these years, my own son disgraces our kingdom’s great name by mingling with beings lesser than ourselves,” his father said, the edge in his voice all too clear. “Have you no shame?”
“I have more shame for my own father,” Akito said bitterly. “Where is Mother? Knowing her, you wouldn’t be here unless you did something to remove her from interference.”
“I assure you, she won’t be a problem from now on,” his father said, fingering an ornate sword on his hip. “Her pitiful attempts to spare you won’t matter now. You know that no one is allowed to interact with the humans for the safety of the kingdom, and yet you choose to not only interact but reproduce and live as a human. That is treason at the highest level, and you may have been the prince, but the law still dictates that you are to be stripped of your birthright, your memories, and your powers. You wanted to be human, you got your wish.”
“Your majesty,” Raine interjected, a quiver in their voice.
“You realize that without me there will be only one remaining heir to the throne?” Akito asked. “Your actions will cause your only grandson to grow up without his father. Think of the effect this will have on him.”
Akito wasn’t really expecting for these words to have any effect on his father. The man didn’t care about family. All he really thought about was power and control. Yet, Akito wasn’t expecting the sly smirk that spread across his father’s face, shaking Akito to his core. This couldn’t be good.
“I assure you, I have taken your concerns into consideration,” his father said grimly.
Akito was about to ask what that meant when the sound of a baby wailing caught his attention. Akito snapped his head around to see Libby, his beautiful wife, being dragged in by an entourage of guards, chained and clutching their wailing infant son. Akito felt his blood boiling. He could take personal humiliation and exile, but when this monster brought his family into this, yeah, it was war.
“I promise you, this darling little human and your spawn will be granted a merciful end, and by that point, well, I doubt you’ll care enough to witness it,” his father said. “Raine, be a dear, and cleanse this sin of his gift.”
Yet, the high sorcerer didn’t move. The expression on their face couldn’t be seen due to the hood over their head, but the way they were gripping their staff was a clear indication of discomfort.
“I-” Raine started.
“Do you want to join him?” the king asked harshly. “No? Then I suggest you do as I command.”
Raine sighed, knowing there was nothing they could do. They had no power here. With sadness radiating from them, Raine approached their former pupil and prince, taking his hands in theirs and mumbling an incantation under their breath. As soon as his former mentor let go, Akito felt the power slowly seeping out of his body, the sigils that indicated his magic and power periodically flickering. It was a ritual performed as the strictest of sentences, removing the kingdom from the unfortunate victims life. It was only a matter of time before everything in Akito’s life that was related to his homeland was gone, his memories, his name, his powers. Still, the process wasn’t automatic, and Akito planned to make it count. After all, he was an actor. If he was going down, it would be in burning glory.
“Can I say my final words?” Akito asked.
His father seemed to contemplate the sentiment, actually looking to Raine for their opinion, a gesture that almost never happened. After a couple of seconds, the old king sighed.
“Keep it brief,” his father said.
“Thank you,” Akito said. “If you think I’m going to let you harm my wife and son, you’re wrong.”
With those words, Akito tapped into the power that was leaking out of his body, producing a powerful psychic shockwave that pushed back his father, Raine, and the guards.
Surprise registered on their faces. Oh, how stupid and naive they were. Akito had the blood of two powerful houses running through his veins. Just because he didn’t like to use his powers to their full advantage didn’t mean he couldn’t. Even with his current predicament, it would be easy for him to over power the guards as he had more power than all of them combined. The only two that he knew he would have trouble with were the equally powerful Raine and his father, which was why he had made sure that they had received the brunt of his attack, knocking them out before they had a chance to defend themselves.
Akito took a quick moment to snap the chains securing his hands. It was nearly impossible for him not to notice how the sigils on his hands were flickering at this point, growing slightly more rapid by the second. He won’t have very long before all of the power was drained from his body, and he intended to make every second count. He didn’t have time for flashy tricks and showboating, as much as he would have loved that.
It didn’t take very long for the guard to recover from their shock and charge at their former prince, but Akito was all too ready for them. With one quick motion, he bound all the guards in the area in place with his mind and lifted them into the air, suppressing their thoughts, power, and movements as he lifted them into the air, rendering them helpless. He would have loved to turn their own minds against them and kill them right then and there, but that would take far too much power, so instead he concentrated his powers into projecting a web of telepathic tentacles, wrapping them around the soldiers and violently thrashing them back and forth. While the effort was tiring, Akito couldn’t help but smirk as he heard his son laughing and clapping his hands in joy at the sight. Not even a month old, and the boy already knew who the bad guys were.
Akito glanced at his hands, noting in horror the incredibly rapid pace his sigils were flickering.
He dashed to Libby, making quick work of the chains that bound her and removing the gag that had kept her silent. Once she was able to talk again, Libby leapt into her husband’s embrace, crying violently and unable to string words into phrases, let alone sentences. She had known what she was signing up for the moment he had put a ring on her, but given that she was a high strung and very anxious person, Akito couldn’t really blame her for her reaction. Instead, he simply put a hand to her cheek and brushed aside a strand of her long blonde hair, calming Libby’s tears enough to at least be able to see him properly. At that moment, every attempt she had made to speak had just stopped, a tense gravity in the air.
“We don’t have much time,” Akito said. “I’m going to get both of you out of here, but you both need to hide as soon as you can. Father’s not the type to give up, and he won’t stop until he’s sure that both of you aren’t a threat to him. I’m sorry I can’t come with you, but I know you’ll both be fine. I wouldn’t have married you if I didn’t think you could handle yourself. May I?”
Akito held out his arms, motioning for Libby to place their son into his hands, which she did. Akito pulled the baby closer to him, doing his best to soak in his face before it all slipped away. Tragically, though he had lighter hair thanks to his mother, it was evident that his son would become a spitting image of his grandfather as his hair would most likely darken. The only things that would most likely be different were the eyes he got from his mother and perhaps some freckles that would fade in when he got older. Still, the baby was so innocent and confused that Akito couldn’t prevent the tears that flowed down his cheeks as the boy examined his fathers’ hands, worried that the glowing markings were flickering and fading fast.
It was almost too bitter sweet, knowing he would probably never see his son again, and if he did, it would never be the same as he would likely not be the same man he was now. He would never see his son grow up and see just who he would become or hear the laughter he had come to adore ever again. Honestly, he even doubted that his son would even grow to learn Akito’s name. But his son would never have a future if Akito’s father had anything to say about it, and Akito knew first hand what would happen if that was ever allowed. He could never let that monster hurt him, no matter what happened to Akito. But even then he knew that no matter what happened to him, even if these monsters tore his soul from his body, he would never be far away from his precious little starlight.
Akito wanted to say more, a universe–if they had been granted the time. Sadly, Akito knew that the reserves of magic that he had were nearly depleted. With a heavy heart and tears in his eyes, Akito handed his son back to his wife, taking a couple of steps back and away from them. Using the very last of his magic, Akito concentrated on his small family, teleporting them to a remote location somewhere else in the world. The action alone spent all of his magic as the sigils on his hands finally disappeared, his mind becoming blank as his muscles began to give out. It only took mere seconds for the former prince to fall to the floor unconscious, ultimately succumbing to his fate as he lay there, a shell of the man he had once been. Akito was a thing of the past now.