Gates of Gold and Glass: A Short Story Pt. 2

Hello All!

I’m pleased to share the second, concluding half of “Gates of Gold and Glass.” You can find Part 1 here. I hope you enjoy!

Gates of Gold and Glass (2/2)

Laydra hugged her jacket closer and turned away from the alley holding the gates to cross the street with the rest of the crowd. Didaren had been infecting her dreams lately, tormenting her with visions of her old world. Fire, blood, and beauty. 

Laydra continued walking home, ignoring the doors when they materialized in front of a restaurant to her left. Clearly, if they’d found her, it was time to uproot again. She’d have to start over with another new identity and home. 

Her rickety house lay at the end of the desolate street, and she quickened her pace to reach it. 

She was almost there. Only two more steps to her front door.

The warding chimes hanging from the porch should prevent the gate from following her in there. 

So close.

Suddenly, the Didaren gate solidified in front of her, blocking her path. 

Laydra spun and tried to dodge to the left but almost ran headfirst into the gates as they materialized again. 

In each direction, the doors appeared. They hemmed her in with their gold branches and smoky-grey glass. There was no escape, nowhere she could run. 

Laydra yelled, giving way to her pent up anger and frustration.

She just wanted to survive

Was her own life too much to ask? Wasn’t it enough that her sister had the throne? Why did she need Laydra’s death too?

Furious questions ricocheted in her mind. 

She was tempted to sit on the exposed asphalt between the gates and wait it out. At least she wouldn’t be executed if she died of stubborn dehydration. Amira wouldn’t have the pleasure of cleaving her head from her shoulders. 

A quiet question struck Laydra.

Was that really living?

She spent so much time trying to survive, but did she ever truly live?  Did she ever remember to savor what she wanted to survive for? 

Even now, caged with no escape, she’d rather wait out a slow, excruciating death than take the more dangerous leap, confront what had crippled her life, and die doing something

That’s how she’d ended up here in the first place. She’d fled after refusing to play Amira’s games simply because she loved her own life more than anything else, even what life had to offer.

She’d been the prey, trying only to survive and never daring to rise to more. 

It was time to become the predator for once. It was over anyway— there was nowhere else to escape to. 

Laydra placed a shaking hand on the gates, tracing the uneven texture of metal shaped to imitate wood. 

Heartbeat drumming all the way into her throat, she held her breath, looking at the door with eyes of storm-fury. 

It was time. 

She braced her arms and heaved. 

The doors of gold and glass gave way, and she stepped through. 

Darkness embraced her, and something swirled beneath. The mortal clothes were burnt away and replaced with a Didaren dress as she was reconnected to the River. Agony attacked like embers. Magic was reignited through her veins, flooding Laydra with crackling energy. 

A second later, she burst through into the light. Her eyesight slowly adjusted. 

The dress she’d given herself was a gauzy green, sparkling in the light and offset with metal bracers.

As her mind cleared from traveling through the gateway, she suddenly realized she was standing in the throne room. Amira’s precious, coveted room. 

“You have returned,” a voice came from her left. 

She jolted. General Hevlar, grave and scar-faced stood beside her. His arms were raised above her head, poised to crash down. 

He lowered a metal circlet around her head. 

Laydra stared in shock, still waiting for the blow that never came.

General Hevlar stepped back and placed a fist over his chest.

“Laydra Indarii, Lady of the Blade, Guardian of the Fractured Light. We faithful have killed your sister and summoned your return. All hail the queen!” 

A chorus of “all hail the queen” rose from the others in the chamber. 

General Hevlar gestured toward the throne. 

Too many questions crowded at Laydra’s lips. She could barely think as she climbed the steps to the throne and turned to face the room. 

Her sister was… dead. Laydra was now queen. 

She drank in the colossal columns and the heavenly glow emanating from the ceiling. Windows showed a glimpse of a sky bejeweled with opal stars. Didaren was more beautiful than ever. For the first time, she looked at it without being under the shadow of her sister. 

Laydra seated herself on the throne. 

She’d finally dared to live.


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