(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Tikon was written by Rebekkah Shaw.)
Tikon left his office deep in thought. He walked these hallways so often he no longer saw the majestic columns stretching to the distant ceiling. They shimmered bronze and brass in the sunset, but his eyes were toward the ground.
His shoes clicked ominously on the carpet-less floor, but without echo. He made sure of that. Echoes are distracting. He enjoyed the long walk to his throne room . The door would only appear when he was ready to meet with his army’s commanders.
Tikon kept his hands behind his back so he wouldn’t look nervous. He needed to look kingly. Diweso said Kelly might come. Who knows if that crazy scientist knew what he was talking about, but if someone was coming at any moment, he wanted to be ready.
Suddenly someone fell into step with him, startling him, but Kelly smiled at his surprise, which he quickly masked. “Hello, Tikon. I’m Kelly Blanchard. I believe you’re expecting me.”
He stopped, looked her over and feeling confident there was no threat, continued walking. “Yes. Diweso told me you may be arriving. How that madman can see someone entering my private hallway I’ll never understand.” He cleared his throat with a hard swallow. “I am Tikon.” Kelly didn’t shudder as most did, a reaction he hadn’t witnessed in years. His steps began to slow.”
“What do you ask of me?”
“What do I ask of you?” Kelly echoed after him as she walked along side him. “Such a strange way of wording it. However, I wish to know who you are. Yes, I know you are Tikon, but…” She motioned to their surroundings. “Apparently you are much more than just that.” She glanced at him. “So who are you—really?”
He cocked his eyebrow as a door appeared. Standing in front of it he turned to face her. “I am Tikon. Ruler of the Galaxy of Fire. Son of Donovatian the Great. I am The God of the Eye and the Stone. And it is I who shall end this civil war and bring peace when all who seek to destroy are dead.”
He turned to face the doors and they opened after a loud click. With three steps they left the hall and the door closed.
The throne room had great columns of white and black marble. Topping each column was a golden cherub holding the top of a red drape which hung long and folded neatly on the floor. To their right were the columns and straight ahead was a great throne. It looked like the altar of a cathedral was moved and a gold and red cushioned chair took its place.
Tikon motioned to his top commander. “Leave us.” Everyone cleared the room. Tikon sat in his throne and looked at Kelly.
Kelly glimpsed around. Lots of black, white, gold, and red. Only one thing came to mind. “Well, at least you have some color here.” She motioned to the red cushioned chair but then began to meander around. Her footsteps made a distinct sound on the stone floor. “So…what exactly is the Galaxy of Fire?” She shot him a glance.
Tikon blinked. Not the question he was expecting, especially after displaying such grandeur. “The Galaxy of Fire is the name of my kingdom. It is the most efficiently guarded and managed galaxy in the universe. My government is perfectly loyal, obedient and my people know the law. They obey with uprightness.” He gave a quiet snort. “Even Volrolp’s network can’t claim that.”
Kelly tilted her head as she listened to all this while exploring the room. “And Volrolp is…?” She already knew but wanted to see what Tikon would tell her.
Tikon waved his hand. “A mere superstitious rebel. He doesn’t matter.”
But Kelly wasn’t so ready to let it go. “What is he rebelling over?” She turned to him to watch his expression.
Feeling annoyed at himself for mentioning it, Tikon stood, clasped his hands behind his back and walked to Kelly, looking her in the eyes. “Volrolp believes in angels and saviours. He doesn’t know yet, but I’m watching him. Let him find this mythical hero who could supplant me and I will destroy him before he could even become a martyr.” After a pause, he turned and walked back to his throne.
Kelly remained unperturbed by his attempt to intimidate her and lifted a brow. Funny how the antagonist of a story always thought they were unique, but in reality, they all seemed the same to Kelly after interviewing a bunch of them.
However, she never liked to play it safe when chatting with a villain. She tucked her hands behind her as she took a few more steps but then asked, “if your reign is so good, why would he even need a savior? What’s the problem?”
“This war has been going for a long time, Kelly. My brother was it’s first casualty. A suicide bomber killed him. At the peace talks he went to because I asked him to!” Tikon took a breath after his angry crescendo. In a more controlled tone, he continued, “I put my pacifist ways behind me then. My brother was right. The only way to have peace is to win. So the war goes on. I have ended the fighting in the Galaxy of Fire. I have raised shielding satellites. No one can come here without being loyal. That is why my ‘reign is so good’.This capitol is a place of peace but the rest of the universe… well, as the kingdom grows, the peace and security will grow with it. It’s the only way to honor my brother’s memory. I must end the war that killed him. We are all tired of the fighting, but fight we must. It is only natural that myths would follow in their desperation to continue.”
Kelly nodded. This made sense. “So tell me about your brother–not necessarily how he died, but who he was.”
Tikon slouched a little. He had not spoken of his brother to anyone but his father, even then, he had not even said this much to him. Kelly had the same disarming presence as Diweso.
There was a long silence. Tikon walked to the column closest to the throne and moved the curtain. Behind it was a portrait. A proud profile dressed in royal black and blue was now displayed. An alien sword was in his hand. “My brother.” He gave a brief dry laugh. “We used to fight so much. He was always the warrior. I was the talker. When my father sat in this chair he would counsel with us. I am the older brother so my thoughts must weigh more, but all the time he spent training while I read my books made him a brilliant strategist.” He let the curtain fall, covering the portrait. “If he were here this war would have ended long ago, but he’s not here. It’s up to me to be the king he would’ve been.”
Seeing the guilt he still carried, Kelly quietly drew near to look at the painting of the handsome prince before Tikon let the curtain fall. With a quiet voice, she asked, “Even though you two fought as brothers often do, what is your favorite memory of him?”
Tikon stopped with one step on a stair returning to the throne and thought. “When he introduced me to Diweso, I think. That mad scientist created anything we asked him to. Once he made a dragon wraith for us. My brother and I chased that thing up and down the halls with our swords and slew it over and over again until our Father had it destroyed.” With a little laugh, Tikon looked at the portrait briefly before returning to his throne and sitting down.
A smile came to Kelly’s face. “And what was the one thing your brother really taught you?” She raised her brows but then resumed her slow pacing before his throne awaiting his response. She listened closely.
He followed Kelly with his eyes, feeling scrutinized. “The only lesson which matters. ‘Kingdoms cannot be inherited. They must be won.’ “
“Interesting,” Kelly mused though she disagreed with him. “Now, you’ve mentioned your father a few times. What happened to him?” She cast him a look but kept walking.
Tikon became still. “I’m on the throne, am I not? He was sick for a very long time. He stopped using the throne room a few years before the funeral. We held counsel by his bedside. My brother died before he did.”
“And your mother?” Kelly raised her brows as she halted her pacing. All this talk of his family seemed to put Tikon on edge. She wondered if she could push him off the edge and have him discover something new about himself, but she had to be patient though she was sincere with her queries.
“You know little of our ways it seems. There are no queens here. Rulers are not bound to females as they may be in your world. We have Partakers of Glory. What you would call concubines, but that seems harsh. Perhaps she who gave me life still lives. Perhaps not. It does not matter.”
“Oh right…you’re not human.” Kelly had a habit to forget that. “So, you’re ruler, and—as you say—your rule is great and peaceful. However you seem unsatisfied.” She tilted her head to a side as she folded her arms over her chest. “Why is that?”
Tikon felt the frustration of all his military meetings building inside him. “Because this is the only way! Volrolp and his rebellion are a thorn in my side. Do they think I LIKE war? I was a scholar! A philosopher! If they would just realize things are better this way then I wouldn’t be forced to these barbaric ways of keeping the peace. Did you know the people here, in this very Capitol, have hung my picture in their churches? They fear me! They do not need to fear me if they would just stop resisting the law! Law is what keeps them safe! Their anarchy ways force my hand, so we make more laws to help them keep the laws already there! WHY CAN’T THEY SEE THIS!?” Tikon was standing now, his shout echoing back to him, making him shudder. With a sigh he fell back into his chair. “I apologize. That was not very kingly.”
Silence fell upon them for a moment as Kelly regarded the dejected man on the throne, and finally she nodded. “I actually understand what you mean.” When he looked at her doubtful, she met his gaze. “You’ve been forced to act against your nature, and in that way you feel you are betraying yourself. You would much rather go to reading but find yourself forced to fight, forced to enforce the law, but here’s a question…” She paused a moment. “Have you tried not to be so harsh with your rule? I mean, yes, criminals must pay for their crimes, but have you sought to balance that justice with acts of good–rewarding even the lowest of the people for a good deed? Doing something kind and gracious without expecting anything in return but simply to do it?”
Tikon thought a moment. He was certain the question meant a grander scale than being given access to the halls as a child for finishing his studies. His philosophical side remembered reading political theory and the balance between enforcement and justice, but the theory never worked in practice. Or perhaps he was simply an awful king. His voice was quiet and pleading. “Is not peace its own reward?”
Kelly took one step up the dais but maintained respectful distance as she ventured to make her point. She never broke eye contact with him as she watched him with tender eyes. “Is it?” She asked with a soft voice. “To you—is it rewarding? Should you not be at peace as well?”
Tikon sighed. “It is not. And I am not at peace, but I have no choice. I am sorry Kelly, but I am doing the best I can.”
She nodded. “And I can respect that. I merely wish it didn’t burden you so much.” With that, she stepped back. “Alas, my time here has come to an end. Thank you for speaking with me.” She bowed her head and then left.
Once the room was empty Tikon looked around the empty throne room, feeling more alone than before.
Rebekkah Shaw’s story is titled ‘Galaxy of Fire’ and has no releasee date set, but you can follow her online here: