1 Preface: Cassadrei's Trial

Cassadrei's POV:

"Cassadrei Iphigenia Mefhaelore, don't you feel the slightest bit of remorse for your unthinkable actions? What do have to say for yourself?" my mother roared and she was livid. 

I felt all the eyes in this small enclosed makeshift trial room upon me. No one dared to speak even a word. Everyone here is accustomed to the full extent of my mother's wrath. And now the wrath has befallen me.

But no one can blame her, can they? I have brought this upon myself. 

Recalling what I have done, the complete lunacy that had overtaken me... I shudder. Outside, there is a blazing city, the ruins of Mefhaelore, a city that had once thrived in the greatest prosperity. The greatest Goblin Kingdom is now reduced to a ramble of ashes!

All of this is due to my stupidity due to which I feel ashamed to even look at my mother's eyes. What do I have to say for myself, she asks. I don't even think I have a voice left. My heart feels so cold. It feels like everything has been sucked away from me, my soul, my entire being, my existence everything has evaporated and what remains is just a caricature of the former princess.

"Cassadrei, ANSWER! Are you deaf? WHAT have you done!? Look, look outside… our beautiful City, my beautiful Kingdom, my Mafhaelore.. everything. Gone. Gone with the puff of smoke! Oh I wish I had died while I was giving birth to you! It would have been so much better than to face this magnanimous betrayal from one's own offspring!" Mother bellowed. She was shaking with fury, her otherwise calm and composed face was glistening red. 

My mother, who had never shouted at me in my entire life, was wishing now that I was never born. I wish that as well; I wish to disappear. I just want to jump into the blazing crescendo outside since these confined walls of the palace is suffocating me. Or, is it just me not being able to breathe as I process my betrayal?

The Goblin Kingdom of Mafhaelore is a thousand centuries old. It was established by fierce female Goblins, trained in warfare, swordsmanship and battle arts. The Goblins possess many skills, some unique to one and others found in everyone. We were trained for battle right from our birth. What other options did we have? Our Kingdom is constantly threatened of extinction from the Rival land of Arphoelus, the Goblin Kingdom that stands for everything we oppose. This fight between Mafhaelore and Arphoelus dates back to their origin and it has never stopped. And now they have won. I have let them win. It's all on me.

Queen Iphigenia, my mother, moved across the room, driving her attention to her cousel-general Cresylee. "How many survived?" She asked.

Cresylee had kept her head down, as if it was her fault that the Arphoelians had known the secret passageways to the city and crept in, catching everyone by surprise and wrecking havoc in their wake. 

"Two hundred good soldiers. A hundred wounded"- there was a quiver in her voice-" thousands dea-d...My-y lady!" A large drop of tear rolled down her cheek like a crystal pearl.

"We couldn't do anything, My Lady...we had not expected this. We were unprepared. They were so many, before we knew what was happening...th-hey were upon us like a swarm of flies!"

Cresylee could contain herself no longer. She dropped to the ground, as if her legs have paralyzed and sobbed. I have never seen her like this. Cresylee was the brave capable general who always knew what to do. She is the one who taught me sword fighting. She made me my first sword, crimson red hilt with green ruby pearls, light as a feather yet sharp enough to cut through metal.

"Swords are unyielding, Cassadrei."She used to say "They are fierce and ruthless, they know no impulse, they have no urges, so they commit no follies. They yield only to the will of their master. That is what you need in a battle. No impulses, no urges, nothing to focus on except your victory over your enemy! That is what you need to be, Cassadrei, to be a true Warrior and an Empress of this Kingdom someday!"

I always wanted to be like her. I wanted to be fierce and brave. Now look what I have reduced her to.

I realised my mother has been speaking for a long time whilst I was immersed at my thoughts. I could hear my father's pleading voice...my mother's unyielding ones too.

"Don't.. don't be too harsh.. I'm sure she..she didn't know... she's a child after all. It was all a terrible mistake, I'm sure. "

"She is not a child anymore Rahthaerys! She's sixteen. I wore the crown at her age! How could she be so foolish when she knew that there would be such dreadful consequences?! No! She must be banished. That's my judgement.

My father recoiled the slightest bit. I couldn't read the expression of my mother's face. I never could though. However, her eyes were shining like they do when she has decided something. The lines on her face became prominent. Even though she did her best to contain her emotions, suddenly she appears very tired.

I looked around at the court. Most of the castle wings have ramshackled. Only the eastern wing remained and the survivors, who were scanty to begin with, were grouped in here. The mighty city has been reduced to dust now. The victors have gone back to bring their King and present him with the spoils of war. They aren't aware of the fact that some of us are yet alive. Our magi, Sofosys, had cast a strong spell to confound them into believing that they have succeeded in killing every single one of us. We don't have long and we will have to flee with the survivors soon. But where?

This small room is serving as a makeshift court room for my trial. The punishment to be received for my treachery against my own kinsmen has been pronounced now. Yet, I don't feel any fear of my impending doom, but only a piercing sense of guilt and remorse which is consuming me from my very core, working it's way down my veins to my whole body, leaving me incapable to feel anything else. I can't even cry. Oh! I wish I could...it would be so much better! I remember I used to cry when those sting beetle bit me and left a large bleeding spot on my arms. Even though I knew it will heal in seconds, I still cried at the pain. How naive I used to be! That pain, now seems nothing in comparison. I would have that pain to this feeling a thousand times over.

"May I interject My Lady?" Sofosys, the magi said. 

"Yes. Speak. But don't ask me to take back my judgement because I won't." My mother replied.

"No, my lady, I understand your decision perfectly. I just want to emphasize on the fact that Princess Cassadrei is still very young. Well, I know you had ruled an Empire at her age, but you were always known to be a bit precocious, weren't you? However, I'm afraid that Cassanderi isn't so. She's a soft child...she has no knowledge of the evils of mind yet. This situation itself is evident of that. I know her and I agree that she is indeed capable, very capable if I must, but she still needs guidance. I should have seen this coming. Alas! I didn't."

"You know what she has done Sofosys! This is no small folly, it isn't a child's game! She has destroyed our Empire.."

"Now now Queen Iphigenia" Sofosys interrupted "we all know of your boundless anger. Let us calm down for a while. Don't forget that I taught you control your anger in the first place. Younger minds are more volatile, more prone to emotions and you must know that. As her mother, you know her  quite well. Is she a child who can voluntarily commit such a treachery? No.

 She needs assistance. Remember, she's your only offspring and Mafhaelore would be extinguished if something were to happen to her. We aren't extinguished yet, we will rise and we will fight back. But Cassadrei needs to train for when the day comes. Which is why I want to volunteer for this important task. I will accompany Cassadrei while she spends her years in banishment. I will educate her."

My mother was silent for a long time. Slowly I looked at Sofosys, the wisest man I ever knew. He put his faith on me, he believed in me despite what I have done. I never deserved that faith and neither did I want it. I just wanted to be thrust into the deepest abyss and never return. I don't think I can trust myself any longer.

"So be it. Sofosys will accompany Cassadrei while she spent her years in banishment on Earth!" The sentence has been pronounced by the queen. 

I looked at my mother and felt a tiny desire to be held by her as I failed to control my shivering. At this very moment, more than anything, I needed my mother's warmth. I know I couldn't have it, that I am not worth it since I am the one betrayed her.

 Little does she know that I have been betrayed myself.

Next chapter