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The Kingdom of Dark (Book 1)

by mithrim96

I've thought quite a bit about this 'series' and I've come to really like it - I hope anyone reading can too. It's meant to be an intriguing story of self-discovery, friendships, hardships and magic. I'm thinking it will be aimed at young teenagers (those coming into adolescence and unsure of where they belong in the world). Please enjoy! Any pointers welcome.

Blood: the symbol of power, energy, fierceness, humanity and passion. Blood: the symbol of life… and of death. Blood: the story of one of the four kingdoms in Candantera of which I was born. The Kingdom of Blood.

The elders and blood-readers passed the chalice and knife through the ranks. All the upperclassmen of our kingdom were gathered to mourn the passing of our greatest blood-reader – Durn-rah. As Durn-rah’s favourite, but not overly successful apprentice, I was allowed to join in the ceremony. I was the lowest class there, at the end of the line, after the other apprentices and my Father, Jin-lad. I watched as the ornate cup was passed around in a circle from the Great Elders, to the Master blood-readers, to Durn-rah’s three children (eldest to youngest, male to female), to the citadel leaders and the common blood-readers, then to the crowd of ordinary townsfolk who had a sound reason to join this event (nobles and upperclassmen, then labourers and slaves of nobles, then the select children still learning the Way of Candantera but with expectations of greatness). And I, Sash-lad, was the last one in the whole procession. My Father had especially removed himself from his specific place in rank to stand with me. After all, this was the first ‘escape’ I’d ever been to.

Our kingdom has many rituals involving blood. Seeing as, to us, it is a life source, and an element so present it becomes living and tangible, blood plays an important role in everything we do. I watched as the chalice and ceremonial dagger were passed on to my Father. He quickly gave me the slightest of smiles, then pressed the sharp blade against the edge of his right hand, drawing red liquid from the veins. He held his hand over the chalice and let a few good drops fall into it. Lastly he dipped two fingers in the chalice and smeared the blood of the congregation on his right cheek (another reason higher classed people went first – they couldn’t have the blood of commoners tainting them but the commoners should have the blood of all those greater to fill their essence) and he wiped the knife on his pants and passed the objects on to me, covering and healing his hand as he did so.

I looked at the chalice and knife fearfully, and at Jin-lad who smiled his encouragement. Some of the nearby children and labourers were looking at me, the last in the line, practically considered scum, and waiting for me to finish the ritual. The Elders and Master blood-readers were looking at Durn-rah’s body, they would know when the ritual was complete. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand being such a lower class in our Kingdom. The son of a commoner and his simple wife. I loved my parents – Jin-lad and Min-fey-lad – but it meant that in our Kingdom I could never be great. I could never be like Durn-rah, even if I could learn blood-reading to the same level, the highest rank I could ever achieve would be a common blood-reader. I would spend my days guarding the outer gates or commanding crime within the citadel. If I couldn’t do that even, I would be forced to work as a lesser blood-reader in an alchemist shop or armoury. It would still be better work and a better status than that of my parents, but I wanted to be more in life, and I realised, staring into the dark chalice holding the blood of the closest people in Durn-rah’s life, that I didn’t belong in the Kingdom of Blood.

I looked around the spiral of people; some of the citizens were shifting uncomfortably now as the ritual continued to be delayed and the Great Elders were now looking at me with distaste.

“I can’t do it.” I muttered, a little surprised at my own words.

Jin-lad gave me a look telling me it was okay, but in his eyes I could hear what he was really saying, Don’t disgrace me. “Son, you must do this. I’ll heal the wound, it’ll be fine.” He gave me a tense smile and squeezed my shoulder.

“It’s not that...” I said with my eyes still glued on the thick red liquid, “I don’t belong in the Kingdom of Blood. I don’t belong in this ritual.”

Silence fell over the hall. The High Elder’s advisor tutted his disapproval.

“Sash-lad , don’t say such things!” My Father hissed, and then composed himself. “Do this for Durn-rah, please son. He taught you well and he ought to die with the spirit and love of his favourite pupil.”

Of course, I thought, the only reason I was here was for Durn-rah. I’m just being bitter because, now he’s gone, there’ll probably be no-one as kind-hearted and accepting to teach me. I have to do this for him. But after this ritual, I will never perform another.

I nodded to my father and held the chalice in my right hand and the knife in my left, as I’d been taught. It was customary to give the blood from the arm which acts most, in my case my right arm. Like the others gathered, I ran the blade across the edge of my palm, transferred the chalice to my left and let the blood drip into it. I then dipped in my fingers, stirred the syrupy mixture once, and streaked it across my right cheek. Then, like my Father had done, I wiped the blade on the leg of my pants and passed the chalice to the High Elder’s advisor who took it back to the High Elder, the leader of the Great Elders and, as such, ruler of this Kingdom, to continue the ceremony.

As I was wiping my fingers clean my Father whispered, “We’ll discuss this when we get home.” I felt terrible for what I had done. Word would spread and my father would most likely be punished for raising such an ‘inconsiderate nuisance.’ However, all I could do was stand there, and try to watch as my best friend and greatest mentor’s soul escaped from the Kingdom of Blood, the land of Candantera and the entire feasible plain, to a land of No Earth, Light, Dark or Blood. I watched as the chalice and the blood of the gathering was blessed and the strongest of the Master blood-readers pulled the red life force out of Durn-rah’s body to mix with that of the congregation. The chalice, now brimming with blood was poured over his body, and the immense spiritual pressure of the combined blood caused a miracle – one I had heard of but never seen.

His body shook, and then Durn-rah’s pale and wrinkled face took a great heaving breath. He looked around the congregation with the kind grey eyes I knew so well, confusion slowly becoming realisation – he obviously understood what was happening, whereas my heart was still pounding from the shock. When Durn-rah’s eyes found mine, his expression softened, and the familiar little smile – as if to say, “It’s fine you got it wrong, we’ll keep trying” – appeared on his face. Then he spoke. Durn-rah’s voice was weaker and a little more raspy than it had been when he was alive, but he could be heard throughout the room all the same.

“Sash-lad... You will do great things. Never forget who you are, and who you want to be. This, and only this, will lead you to your destiny.” I was stunned, the whole congregation was staring.

Durn-rah looked at me a moment longer, then turned to the High Elder and bowed his head. Slowly, the greatest of the Master blood-readers lay back down onto the wooden podium. All assembled could hear his last breath sigh throughout the old hall and fade, even as his body turned to ash under the weight of the gathering’s magic in blood.

“Thank-you, Master Durn-rah.” I whispered, as a slight breeze danced around, carrying Durn-rah’s ashes away.


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23 Reviews

Points: 352
Reviews: 23

Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:49 am
Lee0z wrote a review...

Hey Mith,

So your first paragraph and line and how the first paragraph starts and ends with blood, I have to say, was really cool.

Okay so you could add some more description here, of the people and the place, which has two advantages, it makes the piece longer which is great, and it makes the story easier to follow and more interesting.

I have to say, the name styles are just wicked. I mean, it is something I have never thought of so this is new to me and wicked.

So I just finished reading it, and this is a type of plot I have not yet read, it’s really
interesting and I love it. It’s great.

Though, there are some things you could improve on, including smell, sight, sound, taste
and feel. Also you could do more showing, which is like when you show the emotions and such instead of telling.

Telling ‘he was angry’ showing: ‘he clenched his fists and jaw, breathing heavily through his teeth,’ and so on.

Another thing, you need more description and detail, I found it a little difficult to follow towards the end, that’s okay though, and detail will fix that.

You have a great plot developing here, and a wicked writing style, don’t let anyone tell you you’re writing is boring, I found it fun and interesting all the way through to the end.

Sorry this review is so short, but there isn’t much to say as this piece is amazing.

Anyway, from ~ Lee

mithrim96 says...

Thank-you greatly. I will take all of this advice to heart and start editing right now!

User avatar
68 Reviews

Points: 505
Reviews: 68

Fri May 10, 2013 9:30 pm
cgirl1118 wrote a review...

I just found this and its great! I can't wait to read more later. I love the idea of blood-readers but what exactly are they? And the names are really cool. I mean its pretty hard to think of the name Sash-rah. Again I love this and and cant wait to read more

mithrim96 says...

Thanks! I know I should probably explain a little more about what all the different powers and ranks are, but part of the story is finding out these things as you go along (I think? - maybe that isn't the best idea on my part). I'm glad you liked it though :)

User avatar
68 Reviews

Points: 505
Reviews: 68

Fri May 10, 2013 9:28 pm
cgirl1118 says...

I just found this and its great! I can't wait to read more later.

User avatar

Points: 531
Reviews: 1

Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:46 am
KittyLover97 says...

This is really good. I really want to read more of this. Keep on going c:

mithrim96 says...

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this!

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289 Reviews

Points: 30323
Reviews: 289

Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:24 pm
Caesar wrote a review...

Hi mithrim! Cool username.

You really need to show us more in this chapter. You tell us the apprentice is incapable, you tell us he can't cut himself, you tell us too many things, and don't show them to us. This piece is bland and very boring. There's no emotion, no feeling that shines through it. It's just... meh. We want to know how your character feels. Show us this, and we may care for him. Otherwise, it's really not worth it. How does he feel about the prophecy, why is he incapable? Is he afraid, frightened, what?

I'd have also liked to see more description: of the people, but especially the place. Is the air cold, or stuffy with magic and sweat, or what? Is the character standing on gravel, or marble? Are they indoors or outdoors? Can he smell the acrid, metallic taste of blood? His own fear, perhaps? Can he taste the anticipation and feeling of solemn loss in the air, or is it something else entirely?

And what the hell is this about? Crux question. Okay, a relatively weak but good-hearted apprentice is handed a prophecy. And then what? Why should we care? The plot -- little there is of it -- is boring, the character is boring, the setting is boring. You can make it less boring by describing and showing, but until then, it's really not worth your reader's time.

Hope this helped

mithrim96 says...

Thank-you, I'll look over it again and fix what I can :)

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
— Oscar Wilde