Akata, Whispers of the Past


Prince Izrekiel and Ryukou Kitsura are more than just brothers. They are the best of friends. War rages on with the neighboring country of Demali, and turmoil spreads within the nation's borders. In this time of great conflict, the two brothers struggle to find happiness. As time drags on, and the country suffers from loss after loss in the war effort, the two princes find themselves drifting apart. There is no escape from their parents' political demands. Meanwhile, there is a religious movement arising in Akata, whose followers believe that their younger prince, Izrekiel, is an unnatural monster. Breaking the vows of tradition and societal norms, this group of religious extremists is not afraid to draw blood and commit treason. Izrekiel and Ryukou must find a way to fight a war without losing sight of what makes them human. But how much will they lose when they are forced to succumb to the poisons of politics?

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Length: Long
Show Comments (0)

Total Variation: 1

Current Node:


Chapter One (Pt 1)

Royals never live long. They either die early or their soul becomes weary and it is like they are dead. At least, that’s what my father told me.

My father became King when he was very young. Younger than me. Honored King Jihoron Kitsura was only thirty-nine years old when he was poisoned in his sleep. No one knew who murdered him, but the whisperings in the palace pointed out the First Queen as a suspect. She was exiled, died of some unknown disease less than a year later, and was buried in a common, shared grave. And so, at the tender age of fourteen, my own father, Tammamori, was forced to take the throne, after just losing both his father and mother. He was the eldest and only son, and there were no other living relatives who could take the throne. Responsibility is not very often offered willingly; it is thrown at the recipient suddenly, like an unwanted gift.

Of course, my father ended up being a wise, kind king, and he lived to be married and see two sons grown up, but I can see why he came to believe in our impermanence.

But I refused to believe in such a wretched fate.

They were calling for me, but their words were lost over the howl of the spring wind and the thump of the horse’s hooves underneath me. There was no point in paying attention to their panicked shouts. They worried over nothing.

I turned around the corner of the field, strands of hair whipping about my face, obscuring my vision slightly. Up ahead, I spotted an engraved boulder, the honorary grave of Priest Oghirii, who had died serving the First King, if I remembered my history correctly. I stared at it, deducing the probability of my brown gelding being able to jump over it. The statue was probably more than two thirds of my own height, about four feet high, by my estimation. I smiled and squeezed Kiro’s sides, shouting for the horse to gallop. He surged forward with nary a hesitation.

“Prince Izrekiel! Your Highness, please!” the servants shouted, but I’d already made my move.

The animal leapt over the boulder, and I applauded our success in clearing it, but when we hit the ground, I felt, as well as heard, a jarring thwack underneath me. Kiro whinnied, and suddenly… I was on the ground, with a dull pain at the back of my head.

“Your Highness!”

From my position with my head in the grass, I could see my gelding get to his feet and trot away toward the edge of the field. I shut my eyes and put a hand to my face, my heart beating rapidly in my chest.

“Your Highness, are you okay?” I heard my old tutor, Bandal, ask above my head. Fabric rustled beside me, and I knew he had crouched in the grass.

For a moment, I said nothing, considering his question. Was I okay? I wondered. True, my head throbbed slightly, and my hip ached from the impact of hitting the ground, but in all honesty, I felt fine, exhilarated even, my heart pounding in my chest and adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Normally, when someone falls from the back of a horse, they cry out in pain… but my somewhat ridiculous reaction was to laugh. I laughed so strongly that my abdominals began to hurt, and I was forced to roll onto my side and hug my stomach.

“Your Highness…” Bandal frowned. But the rest of the servants released an audible sigh, relieved that their prince appeared to be uninjured.

“My prince,” Bandal said, “can you stand on your own?”

I looked up at him and nodded, wiping tears from my eyes and trying to stop my inexplicable laughter. I began to get up, holding my side, which I had fallen on, and Bandal grunted in disapproval.

“Your highness, you should not go riding so carefree like that. And to actually jump the gravestone of Oghirii… What if you’d been injured? Or worse--what if you’d damaged the stone itself! That stone has existed for much longer than you’ve been alive. Such behavior is unmannerly for a prince.” He gave me the whole disgracing-my-family speech, and I didn’t care to hear most of it.

“Yes, yes, I am a disgrace and all that,” I said, ignoring him. In all honesty, I was watching Kiro wander off toward a patch of weeds.

Bandal said something else, but I didn’t hear it. He let out a sigh. “Come with me,” he tried again. “Let’s get you inside.”

“But what about my horse?” I demanded.

Bandal sighed again. He ordered two of the servants to go catch the animal, then beckoned for me to follow him. I glanced over my shoulder at the servants leading Kiro away toward the stables before I obeyed.

Total Variation: 1

Current Node:


Sayari Palace was the center of the capital, Gō Ataru. Both literally and figuratively. It physically rested in the center of the city, and it was the infrastructure that held up the Aka culture in a tangible way. Most common people who lived in the city passed by the Palace everyday, so it quite understandably became a sort of symbol for the city.

The Palace boasted of three floors in the main building, several gardens, and a concave shingled roof. It was a complicated piece of architecture, made up of a series of adjacent buildings arranged in a half-circle. Niu Miro, the main building, and also the largest, where my family lived, was located in the center of the palace buildings, atop a lifted platform. A large gated pathway led up to the steps to the entrance.

As we neared the main building, it was apparent that someone was waiting for us. A tall young man in an ornate silk robe stood before us at the bottom of the stone steps, his black hair pinned up and fastened under a silver headpiece. He watched us approach with an unwavering blue gaze.

My older brother, the Crown Prince Ryukou.

“Your Royal Highness,” Bandal said, bowing low.

“Brother.” I smiled.

Ryukou stared at me, silent for a moment. He looked me up and down thoughtfully, taking in my sorry state: trousers covered in grass stains, shoes caked in mud, shirt wrinkled, with buttons undone at the neck, and of course, my bright copper hair falling messily from its bun.

He let out a sigh. “So, Izka, I see you’ve somehow managed to make yourself appear as undignified as possible--again.”

I looked down at my feet in embarrassment. “Speak for yourself,” I muttered under my breath. I started smiling despite myself, remembering an amusing image: Ryukou asleep at his desk that morning, and the dishonorable appearance, as Bandal might say, he exhibited, with his face sticking to the paper of some important document. I snickered at the memory.

“What’s so funny?” Ryukou asked with an eyebrow raised.

“Ah, nothing.” I started for the stairs, but Ryukou looped his arm over my shoulders as I tried to pass, trapping me in his death-hold.

“You thought of something rude, didn’t you?” And then he poked my side.

“No! H-hey! Stop it! That hurts!”

But Ryukou was laughing while he tormented me. I could easily imagine Bandal shaking his graying head at the antics before him, the two princes under his charge acting like complete fools. Once we were inside, Ryukou released me and regarded me seriously for a second.

“You didn’t have to be so rough…” I mumbled, rubbing my neck.

“Izrekiel,” he began, “once you’ve changed clothing, come with me to Father’s study. He wants to speak with you about something.” He paused, as if something just occurred to him. “Ah yes, and it would be best to not take too long.”

“I see,” I mumbled.

I gave my older brother a quick bow—out of habit, I suppose—and nodded toward Bandal once before walking toward my room. Beautiful ink and paint murals illustrating historical scenes and mythical tales travelled across the walls of the hallways, and I glanced at them, already knowing the stories they told. I slipped inside the room through the papered doors. My room was on the western side of Niu Miro, overlooking the central courtyard. Looking out the slatted windows, I could see the stone pathways leading up to the steps of the separate buildings, and statues of past religious leaders and kings. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful scene, not like the cherry blossom trees and far off mountains outside of Ryukou’s study, but I didn’t spend a lot of time in my room to begin with.

I quickly changed out of my riding attire and into a clean kimono before I returned to Ryukou in the main hall. When I arrived, he appraised my appearance.

After a moment, he said, “Couldn’t you do anything with your hair?”

I made a face. “I tried. But it kept falling down.” I blew a few strands out of my eyes, and as if to prove my point, they fell precariously over my face again.

Ryukou sighed and shook his head. “I suppose it will have to do. Come, Father’s waiting.”

Total Variation: 1

Current Node:


King Tammamori was staring thoughtfully out the window when we entered. He turned around and Ryukou and I bowed low in the doorway. Father let out a breath of air, as if relieved and worried about something

“Your Majesty,” I greeted him.

The King shook his head. “Stand up, both of you.” Ryukou rose, standing in the doorway, and I passed him a glance. “Izrekiel, come here please.”
I obeyed, taking measured steps toward my father. It wasn’t that I feared him, not really. But I often didn’t know what to say or do in his presence. I had been taught what I couldn’t say in his presence, but never what I could. When your father is the leader of a great many people, you find that it’s difficult to drop formalities. This time was no different.

The King regarded me curiously with his chin resting on his fist, taking in my appearance, no doubt. I was quite used to people staring at me by this point; I was a freak. I ducked my head under my father’s piercing blue gaze.

Since I was born, I looked different. While all those around me were dark-haired and dark-eyed, I was fair, with bright reddish hair, and light blue eyes. My eyes could be explained by my royal blood. Both my father and brother had eyes like mine, deep blue and fierce, and we were all relatively tall and lighter complexioned than the common people. But nothing could explain the absurdity of my hair. As if that was not strange enough, I also had been born with deformed ears, pointed at the tips. In fact, when I was born, many of the castle occupants were afraid that I would go deaf. I was not deaf, and I was perfectly healthy as far as I could see, but that did not change the fact that I looked… confusing, in simple terms.

After a moment, the King let his hand fall from his chin and smiled at me.
“I’ve watched you from the day you were born until now. I never thought I’d see you stand before me as a man.”

I was taken aback. For some reason, I had never expected my father to say this to me.

At my shocked expression, the King continued. “It’s true, I am a proud father, to have two--not just one, but two--wise heirs that I can entrust this country to after I am long gone. That’s more than most fathers can ask for.” As he spoke, I noticed Ryukou in the corner, watching unblinking from where he stood.

Father closed the gap between us and laid his hands gently on the my shoulders. I flinched at the touch, not sure why.

“Izrekiel, the reason why I’ve brought you here today is because I think it is time. You have come to the age where you should learn more about the world and take your place at your father’s side.” He paused and looked me in the eye. I refused to look away. “Just like I did for Ryukou when he was young, I am going to take you with me into battle. You’ve learned your blade well, haven’t you?”

I nodded. “Yes sir, quite well.” It was true. I had practiced nearly every day with the blademaster, and had even sparred against Ryukou, who was a far more accomplished swordsman than I was.

The King smiled. “Good. Then tomorrow, you will depart with your brother and I. We will join with the troops outside the palace. I have faith that you’ll do well. It is your divine fate.”

My divine fate. That was another anomaly of my birth. When I was born, as an explanation for my bizarre appearance, the Royal Priest declared that I was the reincarnation of a deity, Orato, and that made me special somehow. I hardly knew what he meant, but everyone else seemed to have bought the idea. And so, I had been labeled “divine.”

I bowed to my father. “Yes, Your Majesty. I will do my best.” And I left without another word, mulling over the task I had been charged with.