I write on a site called Literotica, it’s where I started the Thalia series and it’s where I met my editor and my amazing author friends. When I took down the Thalia series to publish on Amazon I knew I wanted to start a new story and this one had been rattling around in my head for a few months. It’s called “The Wild Ones” and this is the prologue that explains the world the two main characters exist in (not shown in this excerpt) and how they got to where they are. There’s no sexy bits in this one (sorry!) but there is in the full chapter if you’d like to check it out.
The link to the full story is here if you’d like to read it! Please leave a comment on Lit if you do, and rate the story as well! More chapters will come out over time.
Now without further ado, here you go!
Willem rapped on the office door and creaked it open, “Sir? May I come in?”
The Chancellor sat slumped in his chair in front of the fire. The flames were the only source of light, which cast the tone of the room even darker than the news Willem had been burdened to bring. The Chancellor’s voice rumbled from his seat, “Of course, Willem. Of course you may.”
Willem walked slowly towards the man noting that an amber colored liquid filled his glass, and it was tilted dangerously towards the floor. Clearly, it was not the Chancellor’s first glass of the evening. “If this is not a good time, sir, I could return in the morning. I know it’s late.”
“Nonsense. You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important and the morning won’t make the news any brighter, tell me what you came to tell me.” The Chancellor pulled himself up in the seat, his back straightening, but his dark brown eyes were watery as he gestured to the other chair in front of the fire.
“Yes, sir. I’m afraid the news… isn’t good.” Willem sat on the edge of the seat, fighting the urge to pace as the nervous energy made him want to move. He didn’t want to give this report. He wanted to be back home, with his family – watching his children.
“What’s the count, Willem?”
“Over 2800, sir. All children. The oldest reported so far was fourteen.” Willem felt his stomach tighten, but he made himself press forward. “None of the doctors have been able to do anything, as soon as they begin to show signs -“
“- it’s a matter of days.” The Chancellor finished. Willem was surprised for a moment, and then felt relieved that perhaps someone else had already broken the news, and Willem would not be its sole bearer. Then the man continued, a bitter laugh rumbling in his chest, “Abigail has it.”
“Sir…” Willem winced. The Chancellor’s only grandchild, Abigail, would soon be added to the count. There had been no survivors. What words of comfort could he provide the man? None. There were no words.
Guiltily, Willem could only think of his own children, still healthy, sleeping at home. He fought the urge to cross his fingers, to buy rose oil to pour over the feet of the statue of the goddess Mirel on the way home. Anything to ward off this curse from his house.
As if suddenly reanimated the Chancellor spoke again, his eyes finding Willem’s, “Two days ago she was in the garden. She tripped and fell, and she told her mother that her feet felt funny. Her toes were already blue, her fingernails too. In hours it was her lips. Then came the confusion, the muscle weakness. The doctor tells us it will be less than a week.”
“I am sorry, sir.” Willem cleared his throat, and the Chancellor pushed out of the chair to refill his glass and pour a second, which Willem gladly accepted. With the fire of the liquid in his chest, he made himself continue the report he’d been tasked to give. “Our Central Health Office has scientists working around the clock, sir, but the CHO have been unable to find a cure.”
“The doctor told us this as well.” The Chancellor drooped in the chair, the illusory weight on his shoulders seeming to compress his frame. “Do they even know how they’re contracting it?”
Willem took another gulp of the fiery drink, “They’re not contracting it, sir.” The Chancellor’s eyes found his again, rimmed in despair and confusion at the senseless death of so many innocents. Willem had spent the last several hours trying to understand in what cruel twist of fate their world could have survived the plague centuries before, how they could have rebuilt a civilization out of the wreckage, only to lose everything in the most terrible manner possible.
“Then what is it?!” The Chancellor hissed, his anger surfacing in his grief.
“The head of the CHO says that it’s not a disease, sir, it’s genetic. As far as they can tell, there is no way to repair it. No technology to correct it, no medical way to intervene and stop it. They have been reviewing medical records as fast as possible, and the current number may climb even higher if what they believe is true.”
“That this isn’t as new as it seems. There have been unexplained deaths like this over the last fifty years, but on a much smaller scale. Children, usually very young, dying inexplicably from a sudden weakness.” Willem finished off his glass, understanding the Chancellor’s urge to burn away the pain; he wished he could drink away the rest of the news he came to deliver. “They’ve identified it as a gene that’s passed on. At this point, the head of the CHO says that eighty-five, maybe even ninety percent, of the population are carriers. What he explained to us earlier today is that we have reached a critical point as a people, that unless we can introduce new genetic material into the gene pool – we will die out. There will be no future generations. Anyone of the youngest generation to survive this will only have a statistically higher likelihood of having children with the same results. They’re still trying to identify it, but they’re calling it EX-00, or the extinction gene.”
The Chancellor shook his head, turning to stare into the fire, “So, after the centuries we have spent dragging ourselves out of the darkness, after all the effort it took us to build these great cities, to protect ourselves from the plague that almost destroyed our ancestors – we are to die anyway?” He took a drink before rubbing a hand across his face. “We held back the darkness with a candle flame. So few of us survived the plague, and even then it was the miracle of Kant Royel’s discovery of the cure that saved us, the survivors. That gave us a fire to huddle around, to rebuild around, and we did! We did, dammit!”
He slammed his palm down on the arm of the chair and Willem nodded. The Great Discovery, they called it. The cure that came just before the people of the world would have been snuffed out. The vaccine had become a saving grace, the cities they had claimed and rebuilt with tall white walls had kept them safe from wildlife, and they had grown. Flourished. The cure had been passed using old radios to other fledgling communities – it had been the light in the darkness that saved them all from the abyss.
And yet, here they were, facing oblivion again.
“We have built a society of grace and elegance atop the dust of the bones of millions, I guess it is only fitting that in the end we join them. The ones whose lives paved the way for us to see a few more centuries of life.” The Chancellor leaned back in his seat, and Willem swallowed the bile in his throat.
“That’s not all that was discussed at the meeting, sir.” Willem watched the Chancellor’s head lift. “There was a suggestion, an idea, and the head of the CHO felt it was the only recourse if we want to survive. The only thing that -“
“Out with it, Willem.”
“The wild ones, sir. They’re the answer.” Willem mumbled it, and the Chancellor laughed low under his breath.
“That old story? Really? A fairy tale is what will save us from annihilation?” He shook his head, “Don’t be ridiculous, Willem. The wild ones are a myth. No one survived outside of the cities, there was no natural immunity to the plague -“
“General Atunius says they think they have found them, sir.”
“The wild ones.”
“The wild ones. As in, the people who survived without the cure, who never joined any of the cities?” The Chancellor shifted forward, the intensity in his gaze was the first inkling of the strong man who led their people that Willem had seen all night.
“Ridiculous. Where have they been living? How have none of our scouts encountered them? How have none of the scouting missions from any of the great cities found them before now? How have they survived?”
“The Southern forests. They’re large on an impossible scale, sir. General Atunius says that even with the years of scouting missions, that they’d barely touched the outer fringes of the Southern forests. It was a complete accident that a scout saw smoke from one of their fires and followed it. General Atunius knows where they are.” Willem took a deep breath, “We have to go in, and – and get them, sir.”
“And get them?” The Chancellor’s brows pulled together, his thumb tracing the lip of his glass, “And do what, Willem?”
Willem didn’t want to say it out loud. Of all the horrific news of the day that they had tasked him with delivering this to the leader of their great city, the largest of the great cities, Mirelia, this was the worst of it. They were the white city. Named after the goddess of healing and medicine.
And what would they be known for after this?
“We need to – we need to add their genetic material to our own. To – to breed with them. To produce children who won’t have two parents carrying the gene.” Willem dropped his eyes to the floor, staring at the dark shoes of the Chancellor. “It’s either this or die out.”
“So the plan from my greatest advisers, from the head of the Central Health Office, the head of my military, and from you, my own personal adviser, is to send out an army to capture a free group of people who have survived against all odds, and, what, – subjugate them?” The Chancellor stood up and walked away from the fire, slamming the glass down on his desk hard enough to slosh some of the liquor out onto the wood. “You really think they would just acquiesce? That they would come to our great city and happily forsake everything they know so that we can force them to give us children? To save us while we rip them from their lives and force them into our beds?”
“No one expects them to come willingly, sir.” Willem spoke quietly. He was staring at the Chancellor, and the man wasn’t wavering. He was strong, commanding, a decisive leader. He was why Willem had signed up to work for the government. It was why when he had been given the opportunity to be an assistant to the Chancellor six years before… it had been the greatest moment of his life. To be invited into the confidence of such a great man, to be trusted to sit in his office and speak to him – it had once been an impossible dream.
Tonight, it was more like a nightmare.
Willem felt as if all of the beauty of their society, of all of their great cities, was being slowly covered by a dark shadow. The seeping darkness spreading across the lands of Dorasia, and the fount of it, the source, was this very office. At this very moment in time – and their hands would never be clean of it.
“And the head of the CHO says this is the only solution?”
“And General Atunius says he knows where they are? That he can bring them to the city?” The Chancellor was staring at the wall, not even glancing at Willem as he spoke.
“Yes, sir. He’s been sending scouting parties and they are quite primitive. What we thought were legends must have been true – they survived. They have no real weapons, they seem to live in the trees and in small villages amongst them.”
“You know that no one will ever forgive us for this, don’t you, Willem?” The Chancellor had picked up a small frame from his desk, and Willem knew without looking that it held a picture of Abigail.
“I know, sir.”
“I think for this conversation you should call me, Arthur. Don’t you, Willem?” Arthur Perlen, the Chancellor of Mirelia, leader of the great white city of Dorasia, wouldn’t even lift his head as he stared down at the small picture. If Willem had thought the man looked burdened before, it was nothing to now.
“Of course, Arthur. You have our advice, what do you decide?” Willem clutched the glass in his hand, and watched as the firelight lit up the Chancellor’s profile.
“Go get the wild ones. Bring them back.” Arthur Perlen slammed the last of his drink, “And may the gods forgive us.”
Yeeessshhh, I loved this scene in my head. I do hope you’ll check out the rest of the chapter, and maybe more of my work! The rest of the amazing bloghoppers are below, so I hope you check them out as well.