When I was born, it was a cold evening. The snow was falling outside of our house. My mother was exhausted by the event, but once it was over, she hugged me to her chest and smiled. Beside her was a man who looked a bit like a monster. He had claws on his hands and seemed rather primal, like an animal. But he showed a smile when he looked at me. I was his first child, his son, the future pride of our family. He was glad to see me healthy and ready to conquer the world. I didn’t stay awake for long, falling asleep to their words.
The language of this world sounds familiar, it is somewhat Nordic, although not exactly like any I’ve heard before. It took me few weeks to get used to it, but the language had plenty similarities to other ones I knew. My memory of my past lives was not there, but I had knowledge of the languages that could be useful now.
My father was delighted to have me, he was glad to have a son he could train and to carry on his legacy. He would talk about how we would train and about how I would be a strong warrior. For months he would try and spend as much time with me as possible.
We were part of the edge tribes or families, the blood in our veins was heavily diluted. Many of the female ancestors had taken outsiders as husbands before, so I received very little from the Val blood. My father also was an adventurer before he became a Val guardian.
Having diluted blood meant that you could be overtaken by the power of the Beasts when you go through with the Rite – the ceremony of taking a blood and turning. In the old times, when you would take blood from the woman, you would turn into a beast, like a werewolf or a werebear. However, as blood became diluted, it was harder for men to control the power of the beast, so their minds would be corrupted and they would become Fiends, bloodthirsty monsters who wanted nothing more but to devour flesh of those around them.
So, those who were from central tribes – people of undiluted blood, they would marry those from the royal families, the direct descendants of six daughter tribes. People like me, we would take spouses from the other edge families. This is the reason why my father only looked slightly like a monster, instead of being a big walking lizard. The power in mother’s blood was weak and he went through partial transformation.
In actuality, all power had faded over time, so now nobody goes through full transformation, and if somebody does, they become a fiend and lash out at others and then killed. This applies even to the central families, as their guardians might change partially, gaining a tail or the ears of man changing shape, but they all still look like men.
This would all be irrelevant to me if not for one issue. The spouses in our tribes are not decided by choice. Love or affection matters little to Val people, to us duty is everything. So, our spouses are always born the same month as us, as a sigh of good fats of divine providence or some other reason.
A boy from Val’Kira tribe would be born at the same time as a girl from Val’Luna. They are fated to be together, so when they grow up, they get married. Usually there are multiple people born at once, like six or eight, if not more. But with me, there were in total seven births that month. What’s more, I was the only male. What’s even worse, all the girls are princesses of the tribes, each one born from the matriarch of that tribe.
Seeing this a sigh from gods or fate, elders have decided my fate. For some reason they thought that I am meant to marry one of them and to become a guardian. This meant that at the age of ten, I would go through the rite of passage, receive blood from my bride, become a fiend and get both of us killed. In theory of course.
To reduce losses, elders had decided that my bride would be Elaya of the Val’Kira tribe, as she had two older sisters and wasn’t really in line of succession. Her death would have little meaning. Now, imagine what kind of stigma it would put on both of us. Elaya was branded a sacrifice to the gods or something akin to that. She would get little royal treatment as a simple girl to be slaughtered by the fiend. However, the biggest impact was on me.
As a Val, my body grew and matures quickly which was improved further by my own strengthening. I was born with little mana, but whatever I had was enough to accelerate my growth as well as my meditation and accumulation of Ki allowed me to get stronger rapidly, I was able to crawl and walk mere months after my birth, which was extraordinary for normal men, but just barely uncommon for Val.
My father was glad to see me grow so quickly, he was surprised, being an outsider, but he prepared training equipment and spent time with me, trying to teach me. This however stopped immediately as soon as he learned about my fate. If I was to become a fiend a die when I was ten, what reason was there to spend time with me? My father dismissed me and ignored me from the on.
Of course I didn’t give up. As soon as I could lift a stick, I would train. When I could run I would push myself to my limits and when I fell from exhausting, I would meditate and strengthen my body and spirit that way.
But my father didn’t care. I was dead weight after all. His plan to have me succeed him and become a strong man like him was ruined, so he treated me with indifference and slight hostility. I didn’t push the issue and let him be.
Truthfully, I knew that nothing bad would happen. Or at least I hoped. What was special about me, I was immune to most direct magics and curses. I was immune to mind control, corruption, soul magic or any other magic which had to be applied to me directly. This was because of my strong soul and why perhaps I didn’t have any memories of my previous lives. So, I was sure I would be fine through the trial. But what could I say to my fathers. Oh, I am an incarnated immortal who lived many lifetimes and now came here to kick ass? Nope, wouldn’t do it.
I also had an idea about the six girls. The marriage of the other five was postponed until much later, preferably after my Rite, but a I already had an idea of what would happen. I mean, if this is a sigh from God, wasn’t it telling me that those girls would become mine? I was sure I would get a harem!
After my father ignored me I trained a lot, hoping to improve my chances in the future. If he was going to forsake his son, I wasn’t going to give up easily, I would improve my body so I could go through with the trial and keep my future bride safe.
All the children in the Val tribes matured quickly, firstly because of the Val blood, which made us strong and smart, but also because the life was dangerous. The constant snowing, the wild animals and the sharp swords, they all made survival of the fittest be the motto of our tribe. You want to live, you adapt and you grow up. The northern winds and colds cleared away all the rust and grime and forged us into the adults that would guard the realm, even if we were mere children. So, I wasn’t the only child who was too smart for his own good, every child had to give up many joys of childhood to grow up quickly. Although, we weren’t without fun at all, we still had some little moments of tomfoolery.
My official meeting with my future bride would happen when I would be four years old, at which point I would go to her tribe and train there with her men. Being a princess, I had to push myself to prove that I was capable for her. I didn’t know much of her or the other five girls, but there were things I gathered before the meeting.
Elaya was shy and she lacked confidence. Being destined to die can do that for you. But is read, she was Loyal. Her servants always thought well of her and said that she couldn’t wait to meet me. I’ve seen her a number of times when I visited the central tribes with mother, but the girl was too shy to approach me. She had grey, captivating eyes and raven black and smooth hair. She looked cute for a kid.
There were also other princesses. For example, Meriden. She was Brave, a tomboy who was more interested in swords and fighting than dresses and beauty. Headstrong and unmoving, can you guess which tribe she came from? People often talked about how the princess of Val’Hoona tribe beat up another kid or how she accomplished yet another feat in her training. I was sure to get along with her well in the future.
Another girl was Aedim of the Val’Morn, the princess of my tribe. She was gifted in magic from young childhood and her parents were proud of her. Her appearance was hard to decipher, her hair and eye color changing often. Going a little forward, she settled for a mix of brown and green by the teens, both in her eyes and hair. The word that described her best was Power, she seemed to have gained the unimaginable strength from her ancestor and her eyes showed wisdom and maturity beyond her years. She was curios and knowledgable, even before our official meeting we spoke a nice,ver of times and I was surprised by how smart she was. We were kindred in spirit by how we both had wisdom and liked to share it.
There were two princesses who always seemed to be nearby one another. The Val’Eris girl, Leah, she was Cunning. She could somehow be the centre of attention and play pranks at the same time. Or she could hide so well, nobody would. Price her standing in the middle of a crowd. She had bright orange hair which turned pink at the ends. Her eyes were sky blue, although people spoke that you could forget yourself you you gazed into them for too long. The fox princess was only a tail and ears short of being a kitsune.
Her friend in crime was a Val’Luna princess, Lilith. I don’t know if it is ok to describe a little girl as such, but very fitting to her name, her word was Sin. She showed a different kind of maturity, often whispering things to her innocent friends and relatives, making them turn red and hide their eyes. People often called her shameless, her always talking about forbidden topics. Her demon heritage really showed, as she had red wavy hair and deep crimson eyes which showed you your own soul. I seen her once before my forth year and boy did I remember it. She had a knack on making people uncomfortable, but since I was resistant to her provocation, she was left disappointed at my lack of reaction. I thought that it was more of a bad thing for the future, as her eyes showed interest in me.
The last princess was Eleanor and she was a royal… Pain in the butt. People who knew her talked about an arrogant kid who though of herself better than everyone. She looked like a true princess, long straight hair that shined like gold, golden eyes that made you want to submit to her and an ego that was enough for the whole family of eight. I tried avoiding her whenever I had a chance, but I wouldn’t get such luxury in the future. I disliked those types, although I didn’t have any hate for the girl, more for her mother who didn’t bother raising her daughter right.
These were all the girls whom I will meet and get accustomed to in the future. At the age of four, I would meet them all and spend time with them, perhaps even become their friend. I was looking forward to that, meeting my fiancée and all, but it also made me nervous. How would they react, how would they treat me? How would I girl, whom I cursed to have such a horrible fate, think of me? Would she hate me?
I didn’t know much about Elaya, so I trained to make sure to be strong enough for her. I was going to be her Guardian and I would need to be as strong as possible. Granted, I will have plenty of time to train until I turn ten, but first impressions are also important. I would need to be strong when I meet her so that I could receive her animosity and dislike towards me… Or to be good enough if she would treat me well. I had to be good enough for the girl, whose fate was to be sacrificed since her birth.