“Legend”

Drawn by ~Pineapple-Snail

“Legend”

You broke my heart,

You crushed my trust,

You took what was mine,

And threw it into a fire,

Stamping on it,

Putting it out,

Like it didn’t matter.

I believed you when you said,

You are our saviour.

I believed you when you said,

You’ll help us.

I believed you when you said,

I’ll save you.

Trust,

I gave it, to you,

Love,

I gave it, without thinking,

Pain,

You gave it,

In volumes,

Waves at a time,

Torrents of blood,

And a stampede,

Greater than the destruction

Caused by the world shaking.

I hate you,

To the bone,

I hate you,

So much, I turn,

To hate you with a knife,

To cut.

But I won’t cut you,

Not you.

I will cut,

Not my heart

Though it is crushed,

Not my wrist,

From which my people’s life-

Blood flows.

I will turn,

And take my hair,

Long,

Beautiful,

The people’s symbol,

The symbol of my womanity.

I will grab it tight,

I will pull it to the side,

I will cut it,

Cut it,

With that knife used for meat,

Vegetables,

Carving wood.

I will cut my hair,

To save those

I love dearly,

And for my own sake.

I am a phoenix,

Burnt,

Destroyed,

Reborn again.

I will not be bound

I will not be “just a woman”

I will become “legend”

In place of you.

The picture above was drawn by my friend, as one of my beloved besties, I got to see the original sketch.  And I got inspired.  Result: the above poem.  She’s an awesome artist, and like me (when I draw) she was planning to add fire to the background, but changed her mind at the last moment because she was scared of destroying it.   In my head though, I see this image with blazing fire.

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The Hero in the Valley.

 

There is a warrior in the valley that’s the greatest that ever existed.  This person is strong and wise, handsome and the ultimate leader.  He lifts his arm into the air and the crowd cheers loudly.  The bards will sing his adventures till his death.  But every night, he sees the blood tainting his hands.

 

Like a Memory. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Six.

Fel and her father followed the Queen as she was hurried back to the palace.  Not once did she let go of her daughter’s hand.  Not once did she show her pain.  She just kept smiling.

Fel remembered that.  She remembered how she cried while her mother had not shed a tear and just kept smiling even though she was racked in pain.  But Fel didn’t realise this until later on, during her time with Dallas.  Before that she only knew guilt.  After she realised strength.  Fel loved her mother, but never had she hated her mother more than in that moment.

This was the moment her father began to change.  Watching, her father from ten years ago approached his wife.  His face was pale and white as he looked at the twisted angles of her body.  He collapsed next to her as young Felicity was gently pried away by her governess.  When she left the room, the King took the Queen’s hand and burst into tears.

‘Lavina…’

‘My love…’ she whispered then she fainted.  The palace healers rushed in at that moment while the King’s secretary pulled him away.  The King didn’t regain his composure, instead he just cried, gushingly on the male secretary’s shoulder saying over and over again, ‘they’ll fix her.  They’ll fix her.’

Fel and her father could only watch this scene from afar.

After some time Fel left her father there, not worried that he would disrupt time and space, and went out into the garden.

In time, this garden had remained the same, blooming with only the most exotic and rare flowers that the Queen could find.  Within the sand ridden kingdom this garden was the only one of its kind to have soil like the forest-like oasis that surrounded Kyrinia.  A high white bricked wall enclosed this space with smaller and lower matching walls cutting through the garden itself.  Orange, reds, yellows and green, purples, pinks and blues littered the white walls and the green lawn creating a little hideaway wonderland.

Fel was not surprised to find her younger self there sitting in the centre, hugging a doll to her chest.  For Fel, her memories were bittersweet and painful.  She preferred not to dwell in them unless necessary.  But though she considered this moment necessary, painful and distant, it still hurt to see her own failing as a daughter.

There she was crying alone but not doing anything to save her mother.  Her father had stayed by her side, but she, Fel, had been carted out.  It was the sensible thing yet, no one saw her guilt.  No one told her, it’s not your fault.  It was always, she’s was a beautiful woman.  Your mother, she was amazing.  Your father is a good man underneath, her mother once said.  He takes care of his kingdom.  So why, mother, Fel asks herself the year she joined Dallas, why is the kingdom dying?

But her mother couldn’t tell her.  Not even the image that Fel had conjured with her magic could tell her why.  It was just as it was.  Fel was on her own.  Fel had to find her own way.

She stopped by the towering sandstone pillar and watched her younger self.  Her mother didn’t die straightway.   It had taken two years for the injuries of this particular day to kill her.  And Fel…

‘What are you doing?’  Fel turned to see a boy walking into the garden.  She didn’t remember this.  Had there been a boy present that many years ago?  Judging from the cut of the boy’s clothes he was noble.  Judging by the gold and silver running through the heavily embroidered silk, Fel saw that he was a rich noble.

Young Felicity lifted her eyes to the boy.  Drenched in tears, she could only squint.  To her this boy must have been insignificant since the next moment she dropped her head and cried once more.  Fel winced at the sight of her younger self so blatantly ignoring the boy, who was probably the son of someone importantly connected to her father.  But she could understand why.

‘Crying is for children Princess, why are you crying?’  He asked.  An unexpected reaction on both Felicity’s part.

‘Mama’s hurt,’ she said at last.

Fel pressed closer to the pillar, but not enough that she was exposed to the sun.  Who was this boy?

‘But she’s just hurt right?  The palace healers will heal her.’

He knelt down not caring that he was sullying his robes.  He was at least thirteen, or maybe fourteen years old.  ‘I wouldn’t waste my time crying.’

‘But-bu-but…’

‘It doesn’t happen to help anyone.  You’re a princess right?’   His daring turn jerked the little girl’s head up.  She stared through her blurry vision at the defiant gaze.  Fel judged by the squinty expression on the young girl’s face that she didn’t who it was, but the expression he wore startled her.

But it wasn’t startling.  If Fel wasn’t wrong, little Felicity couldn’t help but admire him.  She was in awe of this boy.  This boy who couldn’t keep his opinions to himself.

Fel turned away.  It couldn’t be, right?  This boy couldn’t be…

She’d seen that look many times.  Though on the boy it looked cute.  On the face she’d seen it on, it looked arrogant and contemptuous.  But still it was the same.

Did that mean…?

She held her breath, looking away, as the conversation continued.  The boy was trying to cheer her up.  And the girl, young as she was, allowed herself to be cheered up.  Fel heard her sadness and fear fade away even though the boy never even cracked a laugh or smiled.  It seemed, he was eternally frowning.

‘What’s your name?’  The girl asked.

‘I am…Gevrid, ma’am.’

‘Gevrid.’

‘Yes.’

Fel looked again, feeling pale.  She had forgotten this moment.  How had she forgotten?  As she watched them she felt the diamond burn on her chest and realised she had to find her father again.  All the while there was a dull ache at the back of her head and heart.

For this memory, a forgotten paragraph of her past, she would come back for it, not because she was curious but because it was like a friend and those should never be forgotten.

 

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Like a Light. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Five.

When Fel woke, it took her a moment to realise where she was.  It took a little longer for her to remember what she had done let alone open her eyes.  Her chest ached and her nose was itchy with foreign matter.

She turned over.  Stupid fool!  She scolded herself.  The earth beneath her arms felt cold and unfriendly.  The twigs poked into her bare arms and tangled in her hair.  And she was pretty sure her skirt was ruined now.

But she didn’t care, as she stood and surveyed her surroundings, she felt the warmth and love of the sun and its light shining down on her beloved Kyrinia.

Down below where she and her father had landed, she saw the walled city bustling in the midday bustle.  The streets seemed to glitter with gold as the townspeople rushed from left to right over the golden sandstone roads.

This was Kyrinia ten years ago.  Twinkling in the daylight, set in the desert wasteland of Arlord, it was a sand land oasis.  This was the only place where trees from the other worlds grew, flourishing by some unknown power.  They served the kingdom and fed the people.  This was a sacred land.

On her chest the diamond burned and she clutched at it, for a moment, waiting, breathing, letting this past consume her, before letting it go once again.

‘How many years Felicity?’

She turned to face her father.  ‘Ten father.  Two years before mother passed away.’

He stood next to her, his silken robes equally tattered as hers.  ‘I do not want to see this Felicity.’

‘But I do.’

She began walking down the hill.  Her purple silk threads gathered in her hand while she rewrapped the top half.  Her hair which she had never bothered to do, curtained the nape of her neck with natural short curls.  She sighed.

After some time walking her father joined her, a little puffed, but not too shabby.  In the city they exchanged their tattered robes for a cleaner, plainer and more common set of clothes.  Her father winced as he dressed, but Fel just shrugged.  During her short time with her little adopted groups of orphan brother and sisters, she had worn such garments in all kinds of conditions.  But her father didn’t know that, and she was sure when deciding not to tell him.

As they changed though there were gasps in the crowds.  There were whispers passing down the line like a game of secret wish.  Curious she asked the first guy she saw, ‘what’s going on?’

‘It’s the queen.’  He pointed to a slender figure in the centre of the crowd.  Four scarlet figures surrounded her to protect her, but it seemed she refused to let herself be smothered.

‘Queen mother,’ she breathed taking in the strikingly beautiful woman.  She was frail but her smile lit up the world with its sincerity and kindness.  Fel moved closer unwittingly towards the mother she’d lost.  But then she stopped, behind her rose the imposing steps that lead to the palace up the top and beside her was the eight year old Felicity wearing a diamond on her chest.

Fel was captured by this strangely alluring sight.  The Queen was fearless daringly coming out to see her people taking her young daughter too.  Fel remembered this.  She remembered her mother putting the diamond around her neck.

‘Because you are the heir, and what is mine will be yours anyway, wear it for me today,’ Fel whispered.  They were the words her mother had told her once.

A hand touched her shoulder and Fel jumped only to see that it was her father, also captured by the beautiful sight in front of him.

‘Lavinia…’

She touched his hand.  She had been determined to prove to him his wrong, but she had forgotten something as well.  It didn’t matter how truthful she was, down there in the bottom of her heart was the same guilt that she shared with her father.  Together they both were afraid that day.  And somehow Fel had let the magic of the diamond bring her here.

Together they watched as the events unfolded.  Young Felicity never let go of her mother’s hand as they walked through the market.  The guards followed wary.  And the Queen always smiled.  None of them ever expected the horse to come stampeding through the crowd.  In fact, not one of them suspected it to have been a planned event.

The Queen fell first dragging her daughter with her.  Felicity cried out and the guards, though their job was to protect, they couldn’t even do anything as the horse trampled over the Queen and heir presumptive.

Fel looked away, her mother never even screamed once.

The guards attacked the horse, but it grew wilder, continually rearing up and slamming down.  The Queen who was in agony, never let Felicity know how much she was hurting, even though there was blood dripping from her mouth.  And Felicity believed her, staring deeply into her mother’s eyes.  She never looked away once, even though she was so scared.

‘Look at me,’ said the Queen, ‘Look only at me.’

Felicity just looked.  In her head she knew what was happening and knew what the blood was.  But her mother was telling her with a smile that everything was okay.  Her mother was telling her this.  This was her mother.  So everything should be fine.  And Felicity looked at her mother as the guards dragged the horse away, executing it on the spot.  Felicity never looked away once when the women and children screamed and gasped at the execution.  She just kept looking at the smiling face of her mother.

The mother who she loved with all her heart.  The mother who was the light of the dark, shining as brightly as the sun.  But she was a memory.

 

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Black Taffeta.

She walked down the empty street, her head swinging from side to side, her legs wobbling left and right.  She teetered on her eight inch heels, the bottle of whiskey swinging in her hands.  She was walking her walk of fame, just like the one she walked down the catwalk.  Deranged laughter escaped her lips, as the darkness seemed to slowly suck her humanity away.

She was icy pale.  Her skirt, black taffeta, fluttered above mid-thigh and her corset shifted from side to side.  Only her coat, edged in fur, hung askew on her neatly dressed person.  Her left shoulder was exposed beneath that black slowly unplaiting hair.  The effort that she had put in pinning her hair up came undone so easily.

She laughed, her laugh slipped so easily from her lips, like liquid gas, combining with the damp cold air around her.

She threw the bottle to the slick wet ground and slumped against the pole.  What had she done to deserve this?  Where was this darkness coming from?

It covered her, suffocated her, took over every inch of her bare skin.

She had been drunk on the catwalk.  Her selfishness too much for her.  She had to succumb, to drown her sorrows in that bottle of vodka.  So much ecstasy, so much alcohol, so much want.  And it all disappeared, everything, all her emotions, all her fears, all sense of thought.  It was all gone.

But that stupid voice remained in her head.  That voice that nagged her now, telling her to think again.  But she’d still walked down that catwalk because she had everything to lose.  Without that walk, that look, that particular charisma, she would be nothing, nothing but what she’d been made to be.

Her arms shook as she pushed off the pole.  Her eyes, unfocussed, blurry as she twisted her head left and right.  She was on some street.  She was some place alone.  It was dark, very dark, and despite her heritage she felt afraid.

Was it possible for the darkness to become even darker?  She stumbled against the pole, the fear so very clear as the chills crept up her arm.  No! Her mind rage as the alcohol faded from her eyes, and her head cleared in the icy coldness.  Her hair stood on end, not just on her arms but up the back of her neck as well.  Her skin felt cold, colder than ice, and her legs, bare and stork-like, though elegant, wouldn’t move beneath that black taffeta.

Reap what you sow!”  The shadows screeched in her ear.

The shadows came, a darkness of her past, from every corner of the dilapidated street.  They crept from the cracks in the asphalt and slithered over the buildings passing over windows, blocking off the moonlight, and ruffled her taffeta skirt.  She shivered and wrapped her shaking hands in her skirt.  From habit the words slipped from her mouth.

Esthmet, esthmet…” Go away, Go away, “Tavisham, Tavisham.” Find home, find home.  “Esthmet, esthmet, tavisham, tavisham.

Since she was a child, the elders had trained her to be the shadow returner.  She had many names, among which some of her more famously known, the grim reaper and the angel of death belonged.  But in all essence, she had the power over the shadows, one part of her job, the lost souls must be returned to that space in between so that the mortal world can continue living.  She has trained all her life for this, and yet, she had thrown it away for a mortal life.

The shadows screeched under her mantra, they writhed and shivered until they retreated.  But as they shrunk back they hissed their warning to her.  She was near mortal now, having stayed so long acting as a mortal.  Her power had weakened, but she was still strong.

“Black taffeta?  Charming.”

She spun at the sound of his voice.  Michael stood there leaning against the wall, inseparable from the darkness in his high collared black coat and black slacks.  Wrapped around his wrists were strips of taffeta.

Infuriated, her hands unwillingly clenching into fists, she spun away from him and once again walked down that street.  She should have known.  For someone like her, she couldn’t be lost.  And for that, the elders would do anything to ensure she continued down her rightful path.

“Don’t walk away from me,” he demanded taking her arm and jerking her back.  She stumbled against him, a move that worsened her fate, and made it easier for him.  He held tightly to her arms.  “You belong with us, always, not here with mortals.”

He looked down at her skirt once again.  “You even still wear our mark.”

“It was a part of the costume.”

“Do you really expect me to believe that?”  His finger pushed her chin up.  The icy wind returned, stronger than before, it gusted passed them, ruffling her taffeta and his coat.  “Yet you still respond with the knowledge of the elders, something given to you only for the purpose of using your powers as they should.”

She pulled back with all her might.  Control, that was what they all wanted.  She wanted freedom, but she never said she would disappear forever.  She knew exactly how long she could remain in this mortal world before she began completely mortal.  “I’ll come back, I always will, but I’m still only a girl, only seventeen.  I’m not immortal yet.”

And she walked away.  For a long time, the bonds of her future had bound her where someone like Michael could not.  They held and cut and sliced her into an incomprehensible mess.  But she had continued training, training until her voice was hoarse and the backs of her hands were scarred from the cane used against her when she failed.  But still they remained with her, everything she learnt and she knew, they remained because she was the soul returner, even Michael knew the significance of the black taffeta.  Always, no matter how hard she ran.

Like a Breeze. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Four

“Look at me daughter,” he said.  Gravel and rough, it grated on Fel’s sense of humanity.  At least she could say she was human.

She stood up immediately and glared at her father.  “Don’t think that a pretty dress, a carriage and a pardon to me will make me forgive you.”

Gevrid stiffened beside her.  The King’s frown was magnanimously like a malevolent storm.  His seven councillors chose then to step back from the throne.

The King’s loyal subjects watched from below.  Their presence unwarranted, but still welcomed as witnesses.  It was to them that Fel would reveal the secret of the royal family.

“You took the diamond.  What else am I supposed to do?”

“Not put me in your goddamn statue garden like I’m one of them!  Because you know I’m not.  I’m not like them at all.”

“No?”  The ice on his tongue never ceased to escape Fel’s notice.  She didn’t shiver, but her hand shook.  It shook enough that she tucked it into her skirt.

Angered, Fel dared to take a step closer, closing the distance between the both of them.  Her hand shimmered in the folds of her skirt, the heat came, burning her hand and skirt, as the air stirred a breeze.

The breeze whistled around her and her father, gathering into a minute whirl of wind.  The diamond on her neck burned with truth.  Kyrinia would forgive her for her impudence.  The sky goddess held those of truth in honour, and those dishonest in disfavour.  If Fel was not honest, the diamond would not burn for her.

Her father would think he was honest.  Being the King and the mightiest power of the land, he would assume that he was the one in the right, always.  But he was not.  His land, Kyrinia, and the sky goddess for whom the land had been named after recognised the rot he represented.  Kyrinia was decaying under his rule.

Once Queen Mother had told her that the land was only as alive as its King.  That was when she had been alive and still caring for the young Felicity.  And when the King was good and kind.  That was when he didn’t have his shrine of ice statues.

She died from an unlucky fate.  It seems that she was always meant to die.  Not even the sky goddess could save her.

When she did, the King was no longer the kind of King Fel remembered.  His heart, though at first not evident to the young Fel, grew colder and harder with every passing year.  At first Fel tried to talk to her father, but he always turned her aside.  And she never understood.

So when she turned ten and met Dallas, she submerged herself in a subculture of female warriors and learned a mode of leadership that was so unlike her father’s kind of leadership.

It was brisk and kind and good and strict.  There was discipline and justice.  Fairness and presumption.  Fel fell in love with that kind of leadership and as the King’s only daughter, she was the heiress presumptive.   The only dispute was whether she was capable for such a role.

In the eyes of many, her desertion of her duties, due to her escape with Dallas and her girls, was seen as a betrayal and for a long time there was talk of appointing another heir to the throne.  But that was long before anyone realised just what kind of power the heiress presumptive held.

The King was always powerful, having been blessed by Kyrinia.  But the Queen had also been powerful too, having been a special present from another country.  She had not been blessed by Kyrinia, but she had the power of Kyrinia.  And so Felicity was supposed to be powerful as well.  And in the beginning, she was not.

Fel had been weak to begin with and thus mocked by her peers secretly.  It was mockery that could not be punished though for until Fel could find her magic, she was weaker than them, no matter how regal she pretended to be.  That was why Dallas and her girls were much admired by Fel.

But when her magic came to her, through brute measures that her father inflicted on her, to prove that she was worthy, Fel changed.  Dallas who had come the be a close friend recognised the change, but could not save her.  It was Fel who recognised in time, the twisted nature of her father.  She recognised what he’d become, and what she had become.  And if anything were proof, it would the powerful diamond that hung around her neck.  There was the evidence there in that diamond, that held so much power, there the truth blazed.

Fire, light, blazed forwards from the diamond, encasing father and her in an impenetrable bubble.  Gevrid fell back in astonishment unable to pass through the light.  Dallas and her girls surged forward, but like Gevrid were pushed back by the light.  And the King’s men.  The King’s men were separate and desperate to stand by their King.

As they fell away, the King stood, towering over his petite daughter.  And all that watched, would watch as he stepped close to the Princess, his hand outstretched.  But the moment they would remember would be the next.  They would remember the way her eyes turned back, full of determination, full of hope, and yet sad.  So very sad because she was going to right the future in which she lived, to save her father, and in the end, herself.

“I’m sorry,” she said, though those outside the circle of light could not hear, they saw.  And Gevrid, so full of anxiety, would be seen pushing towards the light, trying once again, and again, to get to the Princess.

But by then, the Princess and the King were gone.

She was like the light, bringing brightness to the world, then dimming for the darkness before returning like day and night, she would always return.

 

 

Skip Beat! By Yoshiki Nakamura.

There are times when you come across a novel or manga that you just can’t believe you’re reading.  It might begin great, or even have a very plausible plotline to begin with.  But something draws you back.  And for this, Yoshiki Nakamura’s Skip Beat!, it is the protagonist that drew me in.  I love complicated characters, just as I love characters that are well-rounded and have a sense of justice or character.  I love characters like Shirley Marr’s Eliza Boans from her book Fury and Richelle Mead’s Rose  from Vampire Academy or her Sydney from BloodlinesCharacters like these make me want to know more about them.

It really is something when a character is formed so well that it is the character that drives the story on.  As for Skip Beat!It has the kind of storyline that draws you in.  What I love about Nakamura’s work is that she puts a lot of effort into researching the specific ‘area’ of her manga.  Like with her previous manga – Tokyo Crazy Paradise – which was focused on Yakuza, Skip Beat has a sense of authenticity to it.

Kyoko Mogami is the main character.  Her story begins with her discovering her childhood friend and love, Shotaru Fuwa betrayed her.  Not wanting to take over the family business and wanting to pursue a career in music, he persuaded her to go with him.  In Tokyo while ‘Sho’ is living it up as one of the most popular male celebrities in showbiz, Kyoko worked multiple jobs to support him.  But when she discovers, because she overheard him complaining about her to flirt with his manager, that he used her and is still using her, Kyoko’s Pandora’s box bursts open.  In that moment, she lets her anger and rage at Sho’s mocking (he tells her that she can only get revenge if she becomes a bigger star than him) fuel her desire for revenge.

Just one moment when Kyoko is trying desperately to keep her identity hidden from Sho (since her transformation, Sho can’t tell it’s her) and her little devils come out to play! (Source: Mangareader)

As the series progresses, Kyoko, even if I disagree with her initial reason for joining showbiz, Kyoko grows on me.  She has a determination and honesty, a type of character that can be admired, that grows on the reader.  When she gets into acting, and her relationship with Ren Tsuruga (Or Tsuruga Ren in the Japanese style), you realise that she really does love acting, and that she’s not just doing it for revenge.  While she does begin her journey in showbiz under a specially created division by the President called ‘Love me’ – a division for those that have potential but need to learn how to be loved by the audience, something Kyoko lacks because of her past experience with Shotaru Fuwa – she eventually gains a foothold in showbiz as an up and coming actress.

This manga, originally beginning with revenge develops into something more.  Having read quite a large amount of shojo manga, this is one of my favourites.  Like Ouran High School Host Club comedy is a large factor.  Romance surfaces every so often, but like the kinds of stories I enjoy, it’s slow, and not the main attraction.  The main attraction to this series is Kyoko’s journey, her growth as a person, as a ‘Love me’ member and as an actress is fascinating.

Don’t you just love Kyoko’s reaction? She’s seriously the best character ever! (Source: Mangareader)

I truly love Nakamura’s work.  I love the story telling, and the artwork grows on me over time.  I guess, some of my more favourite panels are those that depict Kyoko’s feeling the most.  My favourite arcs are when Kyoko is given the task of discovering a new acting role.  Her roles, ‘Mio’, ‘Natsu’, ‘Kuon’, and ‘Setsu’ are all amazing.  I love how she transforms as much as I love how she struggles to find her character.  Really, it’s so hard these days to find a novel or a manga where the character works real hard to succeed.  While I loved Nononono by Lynn Okamoto – where the protagonist is already very good, and is cocky because of it, but she learns to overcome different aspects that are a weakness, like fear, something she’d forgotten – in Skip Beat, Kyoko begins at the bottom.  She has to work hard to move forward because, even though she is talented, even she needs to smooth out those rough edges.  And thus why her story is so engaging.

Recently I reread the series again, in my head, I’m screaming, “I want more!”  I just can’t enough, and yet, I can’t help it since I’m reading scanlations, therefore, I have to wait until more are uploaded.  I want more, but I can only read what’s there.  And believe me, I totally get why this series is popular, it attracts in every way – a bit of romance, a bit of drama, quite a bit of humour and definitely some growth (by this, I mean character growth).  For sure, I cannot wait until the end, I feel it will be dramatic!