[This is a standalone story. It’s a bit of a cheat, in that it intentionally gives you none of the backstory; but that’s okay. I’m a Dark Lord. I’m okay with certain kinds of cheating.
By way of background –
One of the original ideas I had for “I Despise Your Prophecy” was to do it as a sort-of Villainous magic school. I read tons of paranormal YA fiction (I was not about to go through 3/4ths of the works of Diana Wynne Jones by age 16, and then abandon it all later in life. That’s, like, fifty books. I am invested) – and it’s surprising how few novels are dedicated to Schools of Flat-Out Evil Magic.
I ended up rejecting that concept for a lot of reasons, the primary one being that I’m a plotter (to those unfamiliar with writing jargon, I am someone who works out a plot in advance, then writes the things needed to tell that story; the opposite of a plotter is a pantser, one who lets the story emerge and evolve in the writing. You might look at it this way: pantsers write a lot of bad plots because they don’t think things through, and plotters write a lot of bad plots with no excuse whatsoever, which is even worse. In short, the lesson my ex-husband and I both learned was: Don’t marry a fellow writer.
….but I digress.)
….I am a plotter, and after a lot of thought, I decided that I had developed a new Dark Lord novel, one which could tell a story I wanted to tell, without changing the meaning of the original book. (For those of you unfamiliar with the etymology of the term “sequel“, it is, “to see that an author has written a second book in something that had a clear and definitive ending, and quell fears that the author will do something horrible, like saying, “Actually, the second half of the last book was just a dream/a hallucination/an alternate reality/something I’m going to ignore altogether”.)
So I dropped the Magic School idea. But I did write a short parody of how I thought such a thing would work.
The parody actually made it into the book, but I promise: there are no spoilers here.
You don’t need to know anything about the book, except that Hymnia, Susane, and Akané are students/apprentices of The Dark Lord, and I kept my promise: no Dark Lord should rule unchallenged.]
One day, the Dark Lord took very ill. Hymnia worried for her, and Akané wore a very strange look. Susane said nothing.
Akané called a big meeting and said, “Our beloved Lord is dying; it is time we agree upon a succession.” Her timing was fortunate; before Susane could belt her, Akané doubled over in a sudden pain. Hymnia slung the girl over her shoulder, and they all went to the ailing Dark Lord’s bedside.
“Akané?” asked the Dark Lord.
“…yes?” croaked the singer, feebly.
“I’ve been poisoning you for two years, slipping you the antidote every time I woke up and wasn’t dead. I’m glad we finally made it here; even the best-wrought poison, quickly cured, could have some longterm effects. Now that we officially know that it’s stupid for you to poison me, shall we trade antidote for antidote?”
Akané smiled through the pain. “Gods, yes. I’d been planning this for almost two years myself. By the time we actually got here, I really didn’t think it would work. I didn’t even want it to work.”
“But you had to check.”
“But I had to check.”
Both were dosed with antidotes, but they still weren’t feeling in top form, and went to bed early. That was fine with Susane and Hymnia, who ate all the dessert at dinner that night, and didn’t leave anything for the other two, and didn’t feel bad, even for a moment.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.