Chapter 6/1 – I, Lucian
As the winter storms howled around our house, and as the hot waves of Chay's and Dory's driving passions resonated through every body and mind, I finally began the task of getting to know myself.
I informed only Marani that I was to begin an important undertaking that might prove to be possibly dangerous, and that I would have to rely on her to keep a pattern of food and rest periods so I would not get lost along the way.
To safeguard the children, the other occupants of the house and to generally procure privacy from any roaming minds, I created a circle of singing stones all around the inside walls of my room, and I charged the small stones with protection and with gentle support as and when required.
As we went about our business of preparation, the others in the house were wary, wide eyed and worried, yet no-one but Reyna dared to intervene or ask a question.
I told Reyna clearly and precisely that what I was doing was none of her business, for her not to try and listen in and not to interfere in what was about to happen. She didn’t like it but had no option as to obey me.
One the night before the midwinter festival, I closed the door firmly behind me, took a deep breath, lay on my bed with my singing stone between my breasts and let myself drift into the dark layers of Lucian Tremain’s memories.
Show me who you are.
Show me who I am.
Show me what I need to know to understand.
Below, the dark waves rose higher and began to thunder and to spray, crashing against my awareness, eager and joyful, as though they had waited a long time for my call to set them free.
I spread my arms wide and let myself fall into the dark ocean who reached up to embrace me, cold and violent, vibrant with life and power, and drew me into its depth.
Overwhelming flashes, scenes, scents, tastes, sensations, spiralling wildly out of control, all and nothing, now and then, all this time, all these sunrises and sunsets, one after the other …
I hear my father’s voice, dark and overly loud, causing me to tremble. He is so big. He can do everything. He *is* everything. His words don’t make sense to me but I am just there, in his voice, small and hopelessly nothing beneath his eyes and towering shape.
“Weakness, weakness is the worst form of evil. Weakness of character, and yes, weakness of body too for that betrays the weakness and the flaws in a man’s character just as truly as their face betrays their feelings. Remember that, Lucian. You will one day rule this land, and you will have to be strong. And you will be strong, my son?”
I am so scared of him and his intensity, I can feel tears in my eyes and I know I must not cry them.
“Yes, father,” I whisper and he strikes me so hard that the whole world explodes in red and black and my neck cracks like a whip.
“Speak up, damn you. Let me hear you speak out, loud and strong,” he roars at me and I shout at him, “Yes father!” and at the same time, my bladder empties hot spreading fast across my crotch and down my legs.
It feels good. It feels good for a moment before my father’s fist rises up in front of me and the world goes black.
That is the only memory I have of my father.
No, wait. There’s another.
My father’s head, a funny colour of grey, eyes wide open, stuck at a crazy angle onto a leaning lance, just by the fallen west wall defenses. His mouth is open also and his tongue hangs out. It is thick and brown cracked blue. Flies walk on his eyes.
My hands bound behind me so tight that I cannot feel them anymore, someone shoves me hard from the back and I stumble forward, knock the lance off its precarious balance, and it falls on top of me, my father’s head spongy wet and cold, touching my bound hands and bare arms. I open my mouth wide and bite into the earth and grass and scream into it, filling my mouth with dust and dirt and ashes.
The sound I make is not enough to drown the laughter of the soldiers.
They pick up the lance and prod the head into my face. “Here, give daddy a kiss,” they’re shouting. “Be a good boy now, and show your respect.” I try to roll away and get on my feet, and they form a circle and their laughter gets more vicious. One grabs me by the hair, forcing my face up and pushes the head right up to me. ”Kiss your father,” he shouts into my ear, “Kiss him or I will break your fucking neck you damn good for nothing whelp.” He bends my neck backwards until I can’t stand the pain and I purse my lips amongst gales of laughter and whooping applause. I kiss the head and they let me be, slap me on the back, laughing, tossing the lance with its contents aside.
Then they drag me to my feet to take me to the High Commander.
When they fling me down in front of him in his white command tent with the bright banners flying above, I throw up in a far cascade all over his polished riding boots and the terrifying shame of my own weakness and cowardliness is blackening out the blows and kicks from the soldiers of the guard.
With a bright yellow cloth, bright as the rising sun, the commander wipes my puke of his boots. He motions the guards to raise me up and they do so, by the hair and wrenching my arms behind me, lifting me off my feet high so my eyes are level with the wrinkled, gaunt face of the man who had bested my father.
“You and I are going to get to know each other very well indeed before the day is out,” he says with a smile that frightens me in a whole new way.
I am fear.
I am weakness.
I am a disgrace to my family’s name.
I am covered in my own excrement, blood and bile.
I am a filthy stinking nothing.
I am fear and I am weakness and I am pain.
There is a moment where they rip and cut my filthy clothes off my body with yells and jokes about my stench and tie a rope around my neck and they throw me into the sheep well. I graze along the slimy, sharp stones and plunge awkwardly into the cold water, skin tearing off my shoulder, the side of my face and off my scalp.
It is incredibly cold, shocking into my helpless skin and shrivelling my testicles and I sink immediately, kicking furiously, my hands tied and the black water closing in on me, and high above the small golden circle and the laughing soldier’s heads are dark and their voices echoing.
I die in that well a dozen times or more until they finally pull me up again, the rope choking me into blackness and I am grateful for it, hope that it will last but it does not and against my will and desperate prayer, I have to take coughing, struggling breaths again as one of them holds me by one leg like a puppy and then drops me on the trampled grass.
They laugh at me and poke and kick at my genitals until one puts an end to it and drags me across the field and into the castle itself, across the fallen wall where the big portcullis had been that always seemed so invincible to me and made me feel so safe inside when we returned from hunting.
Everything is strewn with corpses that flash by beneath me as he carried me easily, his arm shield with the deep brass studs boring through my skin into my hip and side.
Some walls are still standing, and so is the big stone staircase that leads to nowhere now. He carries me down into the dungeons where my sister and the servant’s children used to play our forbidden little children’s games of pretend fear and pretend torture.
The soldier sets me down on my feet and I cannot stand and sag to my knees. He wrenches my arms again and carries me forward, through and into one of the large central areas with cells and iron rusty cob wedded gates all around.
He pushes me into the centre.
The commander is there, and so is my mother and my youngest sister. They are both chained to the walls.
I cannot remember anything after that.
Of course you remember.
No. I don’t remember.
You were there. You remember alright. You’re just too afraid to look at it, you gutless coward.
I CANT REMEMBER!
I CAN NOT REMEMBER
I can not remember, for if I did, I would have to remember what happened there in the place that was my playground once. I would have to remember that he wouldn’t do anything at all to my mother and my sister until I told him to do so, begged him to do it.
I would have to remember that if I could have held out against the pain he gave me, they would have been saved.
I would have to remember that piece by piece, blow by blow, stab by cut, rape by burn, my own agony became more important than their terrible screams and pleadings, and my own pain became more important than their blood and their defenseless skin, and my own pain became more important than their dying, and then, their deaths.
I would have to admit a depth of hatred and disgust for myself that would cause me to tear at my own filthy flesh with my nails and stuff my filthy mouth with my own excrement and that would not be good enough to take one thousands of the hatred, it would never be punishment enough. Nothing in the world, nothing in hell itself, nothing in the entire universe could ever be.
I don’t remember.
I don’t remember.
The waves from my stone were pulsing deepest purple all across me as I slowly opened my eyes and orientated myself into my own body lying on the comfortable soft bed with the guarding stones in this warm, light house, snug within its walls, magically sealed from the storm.
I physically heard the sound of laughter from below.
My heart was beating steadily and I knew who I was and where I was, but what I wasn’t sure of was how I felt about who I had been.
Without me doing it, my lips whispered, “What’s done, is done,” and then I started to cry about my own little brother and how I had abandoned him. How he had died in that cold, dirty bed of straw and sacking we used to share together, huddled up for warmth and his bony little body pressed against mine, listening through the cracked wooden planks to my mother screaming because she was being beaten or fucked, it sounded much the same.
No soldiers had forced me, no torturer stood behind me with a red hot brand when I had walked away from him without a seconds thought and left him there to die, alone, and thinking that I did not love him and I didn’t care, and worst of all, perhaps he had been right.
“What’s done, is done,” I said again, pleadingly and wishing there was some form of penance that would be worthy of our crimes, mine and his and then it came to me that the punishment was life.
To live and never allow yourself one moment’s worth of pleasure, to never allow yourself one moment’s respite and to never forget for one moment that this was your punishment, that it was still too mild and death should not come to you easily or ever.
So be it.
Let your memories become a part of my punishment. I accept them now in their totality and will no longer cower behind such words as justice, love or honour for they are meaningless, paper thin defenses to cover a raging fire that will burn them up without a trace at the lightest touch.
I lay back and closed my eyes again.