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July 22, 2017
This is the fourth chapter offanfiction series. It is titled "Birthmark".
The temperature had dropped drastically. The wind was blowing wildly, a blizzard was on the way. There was no one outside when the two young girls ran down the roads that were covered in a thick layer of snow.
Their footprints left a trail down the path they had followed. Raeka held onto Ami's hand pulling her towards her grandma Beyans's little cottage.
"Slow down, Raeka!" Ami protested. She was exhausted and breathless from all the running. They had run from the Palace all the way here.
"No," Raeka retorted. "I need my answers." Questions had popped into Raeka's head when she saw that painting. And she knew that only one person can give her the answers.
Pounding hard on the door, Raeka ran a hand through her hair, frustrated. It took about a few seconds before Beyan finally opened the door.
"Girls," she greeted warmly. "Come in. The temperature outside is hardly bearable."
Raeka and Ami stepped in and took a seat.
"Would you care for some tea?" Beyan offered.
"No, thanks," Raeka replied.
"Speak for yourself," Ami retorted. She turned to look at Beyan. "Yes, please."
Beyan went to the kitchen and returned a few moments later with a tray that held a kettle and two teacups. She served some for Ami before doing the same for herself.
"Grandma, I need to talk to you," Raeka said, sounding quite somber.
Beyan's eyes filled with worry as she sat next to her. "Is there a problem?"
Raeka sighed. Where was she supposed to start from? It wasn't everyday that she spoke about being adopted and such. She felt like she was in a tiny hole, trapped.
"Look," she started. "I saw a painting of the previous Royal Family and there was a baby in their hands." Beyan shifted in her seat, she knew where this conversation will lead to. "And the baby had a birthmark. Just like this." Raeka pushed her fur coat off her shoulder to reveal the dark crescent shaped mark embedded there.
Beyan took a deep breath. It was time Raeka knew.
Sixteen years back, in the supposed Autumn of the North Pole, there lived a Chief and his beloved, pregnant wife Luan. They were loved by all their people, being generous and non-oppressing leaders.
The Chief had just come out of the Throne Room where he and his brother had, had a heated argument. Being the older one, he was in charge of the Kingdom's activities but his younger brother, Nukka, kept on interfering with his plans. He had insisted on several outrageous tactics which he and his brother could use to dominate their people and have more power, but it was all to no avail. The Chief had vehemently disagreed, not being a fan of oppression and discrimination.
"There is no way I am going to let all of that happen on my watch," the Chief told Nukka. "Don't ever bring this nonsense up again."
Nukka frowned at his brother's words. He always thought of him as a coward and had ever wondered why his brother was the Chief, when he clearly lacked the required qualities--or so Nukka thought.
The Chief on the other hand, thought leadership required an open mind and a pure heart. A true leader has to be a pioneer and he had tried his best to do just that.
"How did it go?" Luan asked her husband upon seeing him return to the room. The Chief sighed, exasperated, making Luan's face fall in sympathy. She walked towards him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Did you guys have a fight again?"
The Chief looked at Luan, brushing the soft, dark curls that cascaded down her heart-shaped face. "He still wants me to go tougher on the people. But I can't do that to my subjects," he confided in her.
A small understanding smile tugged at the edges of Luan's lips. "You're right, Dokka. It is wrong to mistreat innocent people, but Nukka fails to understand that. Talk to him, he's still dwelling in the madness of youth."
The Chief shook his head. "Nukka is relentless. When he wants something he must get it." Silence settled between them. Luan very well understood the trauma that the Chief was going through. She would have done something about it but this was a family matter and she didn't want to interfere.
In an attempt to ease the tension, Luan decided to tell Dokka something that would cheer him up. "I saw the doctor today."
The Chief's face instantly brightened up. "What did she say?"
"That I should get some more rest and keep away from stress. In a week's time, the baby will be due."
Dokka placed his palms on either side of Luan's waist then bent down and kissed her rounded belly. "I can't wait for you to come into the world. I'm sure you'll love it."
Meanwhile, at a different part of the Northern Water Tribe, Nukka was headed back home in his carriage. He was in deep thought about his brother.
Nukka and Dokka were total opposites. While Dokka was the kind elder brother, Nukka was the cruel younger one. Since he was just a little boy, he had dreams of ruling the whole world. The concept made Dokka laugh--he didn't think it was sensible. But Nukka's childhood dreams live up to today. He is still planning to take over their Kingdom from his brother, but he doesn't know how. Nukka first tried to convince his brother by talking him into it, but it was all to no avail. Dokka was really adamant with his choices and let down all of Nukka's compromises and negotiations. It was going to take more than just words if Nukka really wanted to succeed with his plans.
"Here is some jasmine tea, Milady. It will help with the baby."
"Thanks a lot, Beyan."
Luan collected the tea cup from her Lady-in-waiting, Beyan. The two were really close, almost like sisters. They had known each other for about five years and they got along very well.
Luan took a sip of the steaming hot jasmine tea. "It tastes good," she commented.
Beyan smiled at her, "Thanks. It's an old family recipe."
"I've been thinking about baby names."
Beyan's eyes widened up a bit. "Is there anyone you like?"
"Not specifically," Luan answered, blowing the steam of her jasmine tea.
"Take your time, you'll come to settle on one that you actually like."
The Queen gracefully sat back on her chaise lounge and sipped on some of her jasmine tea. "I want it to be special - to be a reminder of uniqueness," she mumbled with a small happy smile on her face.
A week later the Queen had put to bed. The whole city celebrated the arrival of a new member of the royal family. The King and Queen were so excited that they threw a big party for her and everyone was invited to it. The news spread pretty quickly and everyone learned of it.
On the night of the party, practically the whole village was at the Palace. Everyone was eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating while Luan and Nukka wore happy smiles on their faces with their baby girl in their arms. When they felt the time was right, they walked up to the their people and called their attention.
"Excuse me, the King and Queen need your attention," the local spokesman bellowed as he gripped the crowds' attention.
"Thank you," Nukka told him before continuing to the crowd with confidence, pride and joy, "You all heard the great news of our new born child. Today we celebrate her arrival into this world. And we name the future heir to the throne of this Kingdom Akera."
Every soul in the crowd hailed their King and their Princess, Akera. They continued to celebrate until they could no more.
By midnight, the Palace was deserted. Only the normal household were still left there. The Queen played with her baby girl. She had the brightest blue eyes, the chubbiest cheeks and a distinct crescent-shaped birthmark on her left shoulder.
The queen whipped her head around to see Dokka. What was he doing here so late?
"D-Dokka," she stuttered, startled. "I didn't expect to see you here."
he smiled his fake smile that never touched his eyes. "I came here to see my niece. I heard you named her Akera - a beautiful name."
"Thanks," she managed as Dokka lifted the baby up from her hands.
"Oh my she's beautiful - ah! A birthmark."
Luan couldn't help but feel uneasy. Dokka was never a nice man but something seemed strangely off today. "Where's Nukka?" she wondered aloud.
"Probably his room," he said and an evil hint in his voice had Luan running to his room. But by the time she got there it was too late, Nukka's frozen body lay on the ground next to the bed, eyes open and staring into nothing.
"What have you done?" she cried as she knelt beside her husband's body and tried to wake him up. "What have you done?!"
"What needed to be done," he growled and attacked her.
Too rooms away, Beyan had walked in in search of the Queen when she saw baby Akera whining on the bed where her uncle had left her. She rushed to her and picked her up, cradling her in her arms as she attempted to pacify her. Beyan searched for the queen and from a distance, saw her on the floor lying dead next to the king. It took all of her strength to not scream. The King's brother stood next to them. He had his back to her but she could imagine the grin on his face. Hurriedly, and as silently as possible, she left the Palace and ran away. The Queen meant a lot to her and she was going to protect her child. So together, they fled to the South Pole and hid there.
"So you see, I'm not exactly your grandma and Ami's actually your cousin," Beyan explained as she concluded her story. "I'm sorry I had to lie to you."
Raeka had tears in her eyes. She wiped them away with the back of her hand. "Everything feels surreal."
"It does doesn't it?" Ami murmured. "But we can't stay here much longer. Dokka's going to send guards to capture you."
"We?" Raeka asked.
"I'm on your side," Ami smiled at her. "Besides we're family."
The two hugged while Beyan watched happily. Sadly, the moment didn't last. A knock came on the door.
"Who is it?" Raeka asked Beyan who looked through the peep hole.
"Oh no. A guard." She looked at them. "Take the back door out and run as fast as you can. Don't worry about me. And good luck."