Province of Darkness

by Jesse Dickersin, age 16
Province of Darkness Jesse is a writer living in Brooklyn. He has never been to school. This is the first 10 pages of his most recent novel, "The Province of Darkness."

“In an open space shadowed by the main building, a Venorian maid, wearing her long, brown dress, was sweeping the leaves off the stone floor. The space was a circle, with four entrances and seating on the edge. In the middle of two entrances was a statue. The maid brushed her scaly forehead and looked up at the statue. It was a large, marble sculpture of a Dark Elf woman holding a sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other.”

The Gathering

In the early morning, the large waves were crashing against the thick sand. The beach was shadowed by a small, grass covered cliff, which was shadowed by a large mountain. The top of the mountain was an open crater, and inside the crater was a large fortress. The fortress was made of light brown stone. The walls were made of large, square stones with battlements on the top. Tall, circular towers soared over the wall. In the middle of the fortress was a large, square building with four towers.

This was not an ordinary fortress. It was the Hall of Concord, the official meeting place of the Universal Congress. The hall was located on an island south of Maltopia. Although it was within the boundaries of Maltopia, the island was owned by all the nations of the world.

Today, the Universal Congress would meet in the Hall of Concord. It had been two years since they’ve met. There were many reasons for this meeting, many proposals. But one proposal was heard to be appalling.

In an open space shadowed by the main building, a Venorian maid, wearing her long, brown dress, was sweeping the leaves off the stone floor. The space was a circle, with four entrances and seating on the edge. In the middle of two entrances was a statue. The maid brushed her scaly forehead and looked up at the statue. It was a large, marble sculpture of a Dark Elf woman holding a sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other. The maid looked down at the engraved label that lay on the base of the monument. It read:

This monument is dedicated to Queen Alexandra of Mirewood.

Founder of the Universal Congress and Co-signer of the Great Law of Peace.

The maid let out a great sigh, and shook her head in grief.

From one of the entrances came a human boy. He had white skin. His straight, brown hair grew from the top of his head while the rest was shaved off. The boy stood straight beside the maid.

“Boy!” said the maid, towering over the boy. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be cleaning the garderobes?”

“I did,” said the boy in disgust. “The housekeeper told me to help you.”

“Well, it’s about time,” said the maid. “I can’t sweep these leaves all by myself.”

The boy got himself a broom and began to sweep the leaves.

“So, what’s the commotion this time?” asked the boy.

“What?”

“I mean, why is the Congress meeting after all this time?”

The maid put her broom down and let out a breath. “Well, there are many things being presented, from what I’ve heard. Queen Andrea of Mirewood’s proposal is apparently the most shocking.”

“What is it?” asked the boy with wide eyes.

“I don’t know,” sighed the maid in exhaustion. “But a nobleman fainted when he heard it.”

“My lord,” gasped the boy in excitement. “I want to hear it now!”

“Whatever it is,” stated the maid, “it probably won’t be as good as her mother’s proposals.”

The maid stopped her work and gazed at the statue.

“I remember when I started working here. I remember seeing Queen Alexandra’s face for the first time. It was ten years ago, and she made a proposal to build better roads connecting all the cities of Lavonia and Kanaida. A proposal so basic and genius, even I, a maid with the knowledge of a peasant, could understand its benefits. Like many proposals, it had a great opposition. The rivals were overly wealthy humans who would spend a coin on nothing but themselves. Every word they spoke made me angrier and angrier. No one called them out for their rudeness that day, except Alexandra. She did not give those men respect. After a long while of arguing, the proposition to build better roads was passed.”

The maid turned her head to the boy who stood still, leaning his broom on his shoulder.

“You see, boy, those were the days. Back then, the Universal Congress met every month! But alas,” sobbed the maid, “Queen Alexandra is dead. And now her daughter, Andrea, is Queen.”

“Well, who knows?” said the boy in a high-pitched voice. “Maybe proposition-making runs in the family.”

“Let’s hope so. I haven’t seen a good proposal since Alexandra’s last meeting.”

The next day, the maid, the boy, and the housekeeper, who were the only people living in the Hall of Concord, stood waiting for the members of the Universal Congress. The housekeeper, who was only an inch taller than the small boy, stood nervously, sweeping his balding head and twitching his pointy ears. Usually, the housekeeper was much calmer, but this was different. It was Queen Andrea’s first meeting, and he wanted everything to be perfect. He didn’t know Andrea, and due to her being Alexandra’s daughter, he did not want her to leave the Universal Congress.

Every once in awhile, the housekeeper would turn towards the boy and maid and ask if all the chores were done. Every time, they would answer yes.

As the sun was almost in the middle of the sky, the housekeeper saw the first ship enter the harbor below. He quickly went to the entrance of the fortress, the maid and boy following. When all three were there, they waited anxiously to see the first arrival.

Without surprise, it was King Eremurus of Maltopia. With two guards beside him, the lizard king walked forward. His golden rings reflected the light of the sun, as his dragonskin gauntlets blended with his turquoise scales. The housekeeper looked up at the tall Venorian and saw his bare chest, his abdomen which was guarded by an iron corset, and his pelvis area which was clothed by a thick, blue, linen-wrapped skirt.  

“Derik!” said Eremurus. “It has been so long. How are you?”

“Patricia and Jonathan have kept me company,” said the housekeeper, waving his hand to the maid and the boy, still looking up at the lizard king. “Have you heard of Andrea’s proposition?”

Derik always spoke to royalty in a formal manner, but always talked to Eremurus normally. Eremurus was much friendlier to the housekeeper, unlike the other leaders, which allowed Derik to speak in an informal tone.

“Ah yes, I’ve heard,” said the lizard king in excitement. “I only hope it’s better than one of Dido’s proposals. Ever since Alexandra’s death, she’s manipulated the whole continent of Lavonia to do her bidding.”

“Yes, but not Mirewood,” smiled Derik.

“Oh please,” sighed Eremurus angrily. “Andrea is only sixteen. She’ll probably be kissing Dido’s feet in no time.”

When the sun hit the middle of the sky, another ship entered the harbor. The longboat was more narrow and had wooden swan heads on both points.

Through the entrance came a six-foot tall Orc wearing a seal hide over his ice-blue skin. His thick upper body was clothed by a necklace with two walrus tusks on both sides.

“Greetings, King Ukmar of Ek’da,” said Derik. “Shall I take your coat?”

“No need,” said Ukmar. “The heat is soothing.”

Another ship entered the harbor. This longboat had steel platings on the bottom, used for tearing through ice. Through the entrance came Chief Karnok of Pangona, a black-haired Orc wearing brown bear fur.

Over time, more ships arrived in the harbor. Through the entrance came Chief Toure of the Apocalypse, a dark skinned human wearing a black, hooded shawl and gray clothing. After him came King Lumos IV of Morrisland, a moon-skinned Elf with dark blue eyes and golden hair. He was followed by Lord Demeter of Silver Coast. Her long copper hair was braided on the top of her head as her sparkling green dress glittered the light of the sun. Soon after her was Chief Pocatowa of Indie, a muscular human dressed in a wolf pelt and leather pants.

The leaders were scattered across the entrance area, talking and waiting for the other members. Karnok and Ukmar, who were the only Orcs there, were plotting for tomorrow’s meeting.

“So, when Grognar states his case,” said Karnok quietly, “we’ll come in and demand retribution.”

“Do you think we can convince the whole Congress?” asked Ukmar.

“Trust me, at their state, the Venorians would not want another conflict.”

As the two went on, another ship had entered the harbor. Through the entrance came King Grognar of Red Rock. Grognar was thinner than the other two Orcs, and much taller, rising seven feet. His jet black hair grew all the way to his chest. His rose red skin glimmered in the setting sunlight. He wore a sleeveless leather shirt with a silver neck guard, and a bronze armband on his upper left arm. Unlike other Orcs, his fangs were small, and his nose, the most attractive part of his face, was thin and curved. Its nostrils were almost unnoticeable, and its bridge was dented like an arch.

After being greeted by the housekeeper, Grognar walked up to Karnok and Ukmar, who stood silently.

“Fellow Orcs,” greeted Grognar. “Tomorrow is the day. The day justice is finally served. After many painful years, the scars will be healed.”

“Yes, Grognar,” stated Ukmar sadly, “but unfortunately, nothing can heal the damage the Venorians brought upon our people.”    

“I disagree,” said Grognar in a hopeful voice.

But Grognar’s optimism soon died when another leader came through the entrance. He recognized his brown skin, his hooked nose, his black short hair and shaven face, his pointy shoes, his golden sparkling cape, and his white turban with a diamond in the middle. It was Sultan Ahmad of Gold Coast. Grognar looked at the young Sultan, walking proudly with his small Goblin servant, as rage swarmed the young Orc’s insides.

For twelve years, Red Rock and Gold Coast were at war with each other. During the war, Alexandra (who was not queen at the time) took Red Rock’s ancestral Fire Stone and gave it to Gold Coast. Soon after, the Orcs declared peace and gave a heavy payment to Gold Coast. Grognar and Ahmad were not ruling during the war or the peace treaty, but because of Ahmad’s refusal to give back the Fire Stone, the two were enemies.

“Keep close to me, just in case,” said Ahmad to his Goblin servant as he walked up to Grognar.

When Ahmad stood straight in front of him, Grognar looked down at his purple pointy shoes. He then turned his head and noticed the small Goblin beside him.

“First, you disrespect and persecute our culture, and now you’re enslaving Goblins?!”

“I can assure you,” stated Ahmad, “that this Goblin is paid more than the amount of money stored in your vault.”

Grognar was boiling with rage. He growled, clamping his white teeth, until he heard someone yell.

“Everyone, quiet!” yelled Derik. “She’s here!”

Through the entrance came four servants carrying a gold draped sedan chair. When the servants lay down the chair, two guards on each side stood in front, facing each other. From the chair came a tall Elf woman in a long, white dress with a small crown on the top of her head. Her braided, black hair and gray eyes blended with her white skin. She walked slowly out of the sedan chair as the others stared at her. Derik walked up to the woman and greeted her.

“Empress Dido of the Fifth Vergimin Empire and Chairman of the Vergomon Council. Welcome back to the Hall of Concord.”

Dido looked down at the housekeeper. “Is my room clean?” she asked.

“They are very clean,” said the housekeeper loudly so all the leaders could hear.

Through the entrance, a human dressed in a violet fur cape and a golden crown stomped on the stone floor.

Before Derik could greet him, he yelled, “Hello everyone!”

As the rest of the leaders greeted him back, he gave a big grin, covered by his short orange beard. Finally, Derik was able to greet the fat man.

“King Charles of Galdoria. Welcome back.”

Standing beside Charles was another human dressed in a white and gold robe. His brown hair was balding at the top, forming a halo on his head. The monk walked up to the short housekeeper.

“Hello, Derik.”

“Brother Martin!” said the housekeeper, looking up at the monk. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been well. Are we waiting for anyone else?”

“Well,” said Derik nervously, “Andrea is the only one left.”

“May the divines carry her safely to this island,” prayed Martin. “Come, let us pray for our safety tomorrow.”

Brother Martin was the head of the Universal Congress. His job was to keep the peace amongst the members and break ties during a voting session. Although he was supposed to be in a neutral position, he was secretly sided with King Charles, who was sided with Dido and Lumos.

As the sun finally set, the leaders stood with excitement, waiting for the new member. They were all silent. Jonathan, looking over the wall, saw a caravel, with a black sail with a diamond and an eye in the middle, docking in the harbor. He ran towards the housekeeper, who stood near the entrance.

“She’s here! She’s here!” cried the boy. “The Queen of Mirewood is here!”

The housekeeper and leaders all stood frozen with their eyes fixed on the entrance. Their hearts raced at the same time, creating a quire of heart beats. After a long suspense, the quire of heartbeats turned into applause. Through the door came the new member of the Universal Congress. She walked casually, almost like a commoner. But she received the applause of a divine hero.  

She was a thin, tall girl, rising five feet and ten inches. She had bedraggled, blackish-indigo hair that went to her jaw. Unlike other Dark Elves, her skin was a lighter shade of blue. Besides that, she had pointy ears and yellow hawk eyes. She wore a black, satin shirt, which draped over her black, knee-high leggings. Her sleeveless shirt was choked at the waist by a brown, leather belt. Covering that was a thin, black cloak going to her ankles. Unlike the other leaders, shel did not wear any gold or silver.

Derik walked up to greet her, but everyone else beat him to it. A quire of cheers and hellos filled the entrance area. The girl, in reaction to this madness, gave a surprised but frightened smile. Finally, Brother Martin shushed the leaders and walked up to the girl.

“Queen Andrea of Mirewood. Welcome to the Hall of Concord. We are proud to have you in the Universal Congress. Your mother would’ve been proud.”

Andrea gave a silent “Thank you” as the members of the Universal Congress, except Grognar, clapped their hands.

 

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