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The End of All Stories

Less Than Three Press LLC

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 58,000
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AVAILABLE: Wednesday, June 27th

On a quest for truths that his books can't provide, Vael leaves the golden spires of his safe home to travel north, to the territories of the tribes there. But he gets far more than he bargains for when he is bound to Kayan, a chieftan's son, in a mating ritual performed by a mysterious priestess.

According to her, it is their destiny to save all of Badal'Shari from a terrible cataclysm. And though Vael has serious doubts about fate, and even more doubts about Kayan, he agrees to embark on a so-called journey to save their world...

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At the beginning of time, Shariha, the Mother of Heavens, was flying over the world covered by water. Ruler of all oceans was Mukar, Father of the Seas. He loved Shariha, but she did not notice him, and continued to watch over her realm of stars. One day, Shariha lost a pearl from her necklace. Mukar collected the pearl, and when the Mother of Heavens asked him to give it back, he replied, "I will return it to you if you love me."

Hearing this, Shariha became angry and returned to the stars.

Mukar kept the pearl safe in the water, and after some time, life began to grow on it. Palms sprouted from the sand, and mogi beasts grazed on the plains. Soon after, the first people came to the island and settled there. They called it Badal'Shari, the Treasure of Shariha.

As Shariha realized what had become of her lost jewel, she went to Mukar and said, "You took good care of my pearl. But now that life is growing on it, I do not want it back. Badal'Shari shall continue to prosper."

When he heard this, Mukar became angry, and the sweet water around the island became cold and salty. Storms raged, and big, dangerous beasts crawled onto the beaches.

But Shariha let the soft light of her stars fall upon Badal'Shari, and glowing sparks rained down. The people raised their hopes once again, knowing that Shariha had not left them. They prayed to her and did not fear Mukar's wrath.

Finally, the Father of the Seas admitted defeat. He said to Shariha, "I will continue to keep your pearl safe, and I will stop torturing its people. I will give them sweet spring water to drink and plenty of fish to eat. You might still not love me, but I will submit to your decision."

And Shariha smiled softly and said, "You have finally proven yourself worthy, Mukar. May the people of Badal'Shari be our beloved children from now on." And the people of the island henceforth called themselves 'mehan'shari', the children of Shariha.

And so it came to pass that the Mother of Heavens and the Father of the Seas celebrated their wedding, and since that day, starlight reflects on water to show their union.

After some time, Shariha gave birth to precious twin sons who were called Adir and Adan. Adir inherited all the power and the effervescent character of his father, but not his loving side. Adan inherited all of the gentleness and beauty of his mother, but not her strength. Only upon acting together were they complete.

When the brothers discovered the pearl island, they decided to pass it by every day, riding on glowing orbs of light and flame. Since that day, the island was lit by its twin suns.

"I will send the inhabitants heat and drought, fire and death," Adir decided. "So they will show true strength and courage upon looking at my merciless, red face in the sky."

"And I will send them warmth and fertility, light and life," Adan answered. "So they will show true kindness and love upon looking at my gentle, golden face in the sky."

Shariha blessed her son's decisions and allowed them to watch over Badal'Shari in their own ways. And whenever the end came for one of the mehan'shari people, the Mother of the Heavens would take their soul and make it a star to adorn her black dress.

This was the story of how the Mother of the Heavens, the Father of the Seas, and the Brothers of the Suns came to be the creators and guardians of the island of Badal'Shari. And it shall be like this until the end of time…

Vael stopped his pen on the parchment and sighed in relief. Finally, he would get to start his real work. As he put the pen back into the little bottle of black ink, he once again pondered the habit of beginning each and every written work with the legend of the creation of Badal'Shari. Every mehan'shari child knew the legend by heart, and it was unnecessary to waste a full page of precious parchment each time.

But Vael wasn't in the position to protest. Starting with the legend was the second law of the Old Academy of Shir'Edrim. The first law was to obey one's seniors. And the third law… Vael sighed again, this time in annoyance. The third law commanded every student, scribe, or scholar at the Old Academy to write the truth and nothing but the truth.

Yet how should that be even possible? The legend of the creation was considered the truth, even though it was called a legend. And other things were clearly left unwritten, although they had happened for sure.

Vael had never truly understood this. He had asked his mentor about this basic dilemma of a scholar studying history, but senior scholar Tarek had smiled and answered, "Young Vael, one day you will understand that there really is no history. There are only stories. And there is no difference between a legend found on crumbling old parchment and the gossip told in the streets every morning by old women. Both are true, but both may also be inaccurate."

Those words might have held some incredible wisdom, but with Vael, young and impatient as he was, they fell on deaf ears. He had become a scholar to study and record the things that had really happened, and for him, there was a big difference between an ancient document and the everyday blubber of uneducated people.

And now, he was damned to copy those same old manuscripts for the younger students to read and leave stains on. Just because he had dared to tell his seniors that the five books of Galan's journeys were utter fantasy and dreamed up from first to last page—and therefore had no place in the history section of the library. How could they truly believe that the ancient hero Galan had slain a green seskra, a sand dragon as big as a house which had wings and could fly? Seskra were as big as a man, but no more, and as their name implied, colored like the sand. And they had no wings. There were some specimens of those fearsome beasts standing stuffed and long dead in the natural history section of the Academy for anyone to see.