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Burden of the blessed, p.1

Burden of the Blessed, page 1

 part  #1 of  Vigil Voronto Series


Burden of the Blessed

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Burden of the Blessed

































  ~PART 1~





  Follow us on Twitter: R. Joseph & J. Marie

  Editing by:

  Cover image by: geraldas @

  forplayday @



  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons, whether living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2017 by

  R. Joseph & J. Marie LeBlanc

  Published by

  R. Joseph & J. Marie LeBlanc

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, R. Joseph & J. Marie LeBlanc.


  Should you trust me? Probably not. But the devastation has progressed far beyond what one forsaken shepherd can stop on his own, and I desperately need your help before there’s nothing left in the universe worth saving.

  Now, in order for this to work, you’ll need to know the truth about me and how this all began…

  Once every 497 years, five abandoned planets within the realm of Ein synchronize equidistantly around my home planet of Telshakra for one full day. This rare conjunction was known as the Chiliad Alignment, and it was also the night I was born.

  The Church claimed this alignment left tremendous fortune in its wake. According to scripture, any couple married during such a celestial event would know true love and faithfulness for the rest of their lives, any prayers offered to Ein or His children with the strongest conviction would be answered in plenty, and any Telshakran child born on this day would grow to become a great and inspirational leader to his or her people.


  What the leaders of my world don’t tell you about these sacred writings is they are all completely fabricated. They were the master fantasies of religious tyrants who wanted to delude every single Telshakran man, woman, and child into believing they can become something better than the slavish sheep they already are. There is no equality on Telshakra. The people are only meant to serve the king and the Church without question.

  I foolishly wanted to believe there might be some truth to the Church’s teachings and that my faith and hope meant something. But for me, being born during a Chiliad Alignment has only brought me bad luck, unhappy unions, and dire circumstances.

  While the actual alignment only occurred twice in a millennium, the representation of its occurrence is observed annually among my people on the first day of autumn, marking a new year had begun on Telshakra. This was known as the Festival of Ein. There were joyful and sacred traditions that involved all kinds of foods, decorations, and old songs of legend and lore. The highlight of the festival came just after sunset, when a spectacular display of fireworks marked the finale of the day’s celebrations.

  It was the night of my birth, and our hometown of Quelstren was blessed with a crisp sunset that lingered just long enough to make the evening cool and pleasant for everyone. My parents were taking my sister Linna to the fireworks to celebrate the Festival of Ein. The walk to the viewing fields was only a mile or so, but everybody seemed to enjoy it as much as they would the fireworks show itself.

  The people of Telshakra were dressed in their best that evening; fine suits and dresses that normally sat in lonely closets just waiting for a special moment to be seen. Even though my parents couldn’t afford the same luxurious clothes as everybody else, my mother still looked wonderful in her simple light green dress and matching coat. My father wore his old dark brown suit and his favorite pair of shoes, which he’d spent all morning polishing to a mirror-like finish.

  A few of the children were dressed in costumes that represented the ten gods and goddesses—the Children of Ein. My sister pointed with envy when she saw a little girl wearing a sparkling pink dress trimmed with silver lace and a matching silver tiara dance by.

  “Next year, can I get a dress like that, Momma?” Linna asked hopefully.

  My mother knew the elegant dress and tiara weren’t the kinds of things that she and my father could afford. “Linna, you don’t need to wear a fancy dress like that. Your soul and your spirit sparkle so brightly. That is what’s truly important to Ein,” my mother answered kindly.

  As young as she was, my sister didn’t understand the true meaning of my mother’s words, but accepted them nonetheless.

  As the procession through the streets brought my family closer and closer to the viewing fields, the air was filled with the delicious smells of the festival foods; delicacies from all around the world. There were fried banana plant cookies covered in red sugar that filled the air with a sweet, comforting scent irresistible to the children of Telshakra. There were also batter dipped Siranum wolf steaks sizzling on fiery grills with a tantalizing thick and spicy aroma that teased every nose in the surrounding crowds. Although my mother was particularly fond of wolf steaks, her pregnancy with me had made her stomach a bit more sensitive than normal and she gagged slightly at the smell of them cooking. The steaks would have to wait until next year.

  As they walked along, the peaceful fragrance of appleheart incense drifted through the crowd. A group of street performers wearing elaborate headdresses in the shapes of some of the rarest species of animals that roamed Telshakra danced and paraded by my family. As they leaped and twirled, the dancers whipped red, orange, and gold streamers around themselves while music played and guided their graceful movements.

  A dancer wearing a headdress in the shape of a Springwell tiger frightened my sister as she approached. Linna was wide-eyed with terror and quickly hid her face in my father’s side as the dancers passed by.

  “It’s all right, honey. It’s just a man in a costume,” my father explained calmly.

  “Are you sure?” Linna trembled.

  “Yes, I’m sure, Linna. No one’s going to hurt you tonight.”

  “Okay, Daddy,” she replied uneasily as my parents kept their pace with the crowd.

  It wasn’t long before they arrived at the entrance to the viewing fields and began the traditional passing through the Ceremonial Gate of Telshakra, which was only open during the Festival of Ein. Along both sides of the road leading up to the gate were statues of the past kings of Telshakra. They stood on high stone pillars that towered above even my tall father’s shoulders. Each statue was elaborately decorated for the day’s festivities with garlands, flowers, and ornaments from all around the world.

  Even though the festival was a celebration to honor Ein and His children, t
he current monarch, King Lexani, had his statue purposefully displayed on the very top of the Ceremonial Gate to remind the people of Telshakra who ruled over them.

  “Look, Daddy!” my sister said excitedly as she touched the thin, glistening strips of red and orange garland paper draped around the base of one of the statues.

  “Isn’t it beautiful, Linna?” my father asked sweetly as he knelt and held her close.

  “Yeah,” she replied.

  My mother watched the two of them smiling and pointing at the decorations.

  “Momma, isn’t it pretty?” Linna asked, turning toward my mother and held out her free hand, begging for her to join in their happiness.

  At that moment, the Festival of Ein became the very definition of joy and excitement in my mother’s world, and she felt safe and content; happy and carefree all at once. But after that night, my mother would never again know such wonderful peace and serenity for the rest of her years.

  “Linna, stay close to your mother and me,” my father instructed. “Ein has blessed us with a beautiful night, and I wouldn’t want to lose track of you.”

  “Yes, Daddy.”

  The sheer density of the crowd was amazing, and yet nobody pushed or shoved or caused any kind of trouble. That wasn’t the nature of Telshakrans. Our society was that of peace, patience, and faith, and everybody there, including my family, was in the best of spirits for the evening’s festivities.

  “What’s up there, Daddy?” Linna pointed to a building that was just barely visible through a cloud of thick silvery mist near the peak of the Divine Mountain.

  “That’s called the Rectory. It’s where King Lexani and Queen Minkara live. They’re probably sitting on their balcony right now, waiting to watch the fireworks, too.”

  “Oooh! It’s their castle!” Her little face was alive with the notion of fairytales and princesses.

  My mother laughed slightly. “It’s like a castle, but it’s a little bit different. It’s sort of a cross between a castle and a cathedral. Do you understand?” she asked as she looked up at the Divine Mountain.

  “No,” my sister replied honestly.

  “It’s all right, Linna. Someday you will,” my father said reassuringly. He swiftly picked her up and hugged her close, laughing as he made a funny face to distract her. Linna, having the attention span of a normal three-year-old Telshakran girl, giggled and forgot all about her questions. “Now, let’s go and get ourselves some warm plumberry cakes and haymilk before the fireworks begin!” he offered happily.

  “Yay!” my sister cheered.

  My parents were grateful that she’d lost interest in asking about the Divine Mountain. On Telshakra, it was best to teach the young not to question the authority the Church held over them.

  By the time my family had found a spot in the viewing fields to watch the show, Linna had finished her cake and milk and began using the edge of my mother’s jacket to wipe her mouth.

  “Honey, don’t do that,” my father said while trying to hide his laughter.

  My sister let go of the coat and briefly slapped her little hands against the fabric of her own clothes before grabbing a piece of her bright auburn hair and twirling it around her fingers. Within a minute, she jumped up and down in quick, impatient little bursts—the excitement of a child who had just filled herself with sugar was hard to contain.

  “Is it time yet, Momma?” Linna asked as she tugged on the hem of my mother’s coat.

  “Just a few more minutes, okay? It’s almost time.” My mother smiled as the crowd thickened around them.

  “But I can’t see anything!” Linna grumbled. “There are too many people here!”

  My father laughed and took the final swig of his haymilk before tossing the container into a nearby garbage can. “Come on up, then!” he said, scooping Linna up from the ground and placing her atop his broad shoulders.

  Linna and my father shared the same amber eyes and auburn hair. Their resemblance was uncanny, or so my mother often thought. I believe my mother felt plain by comparison at times with her cerulean eyes and long black hair, features that I’d inherit from her. As my father and sister laughed and pointed toward the sky, eagerly awaiting the show to begin, my mother rubbed her pregnant belly, asking me how I was doing.


  When the sun had finally set behind the grassy hills in the east, trumpets sounded from somewhere in the misty drifts near the top of the Divine Mountain. The king’s musicians played the Anthem of Telshakra, announcing the evening’s fireworks display. Thousands of voices sang along strong and loud, joyful and proud of their King, their Church, and their faith in Ein.

  That evening, the heavens were clear and beautiful as the sky ignited with a loud boom and a fizzing blaze of ruby reds, vivid oranges, and golden yellows. The crowd around my family oooohed and aaaahed, cheering with each new explosion and crackle.

  Looking skyward, my mother could just distinguish the outlines of two of the five abandoned planets in the Chiliad Alignment. She gazed out beyond them, out into the vast universe, and wondered if any other planets ever held similar celebrations, or if there were any other pregnant creatures out beyond the stars looking back at her at that very moment.

  Another boom broke my mother’s concentration. She jumped and laughed at the same time, but then an unexpected sensation passed through her body—a feeling more sudden and intense than what she’d gone through with Linna.

  “Vim!” she shouted to my father through the noisy crowd. There was a pain in her lower body that hadn’t been there earlier. It started off as pressure in her hips and abdomen, and then began to build and build, culminating in one steady stream of continuous agony. “Vim, help me!” my mother cried as the intense pain tore through her and forced her to her knees.

  My father turned toward her, the smile still glowing upon his face from the wonderment of the fireworks display, but it instantly fell flat when he saw my mother’s tortured expression. “Irenea!” my father shouted. He helped my sister down from his shoulders and tended to my mother, placing his arms around her elbows. “It can’t be time already, is it?”

  “I think it is!” my mother replied, beginning to breathe quicker and heavier. She’d spent weeks at the chapel in Quelstren, attending the mandatory pregnancy education classes that taught her to manage the pain and stay conscious, but in that moment, she didn’t feel very at ease with what the Church had taught her. “Vim! I need a priest! Get me a priest! Please!”

  Telshakran society didn’t have doctors. We had priests. The Church mandated that any services for the people—medical, legal, or any occupation that required a higher education—be performed solely by the priests assigned to each city, and this included my mother’s pregnancy care. The only problem was that all members of the Church were sequestered to the Divine Mountain during the Festival of Ein. It was supposed to be a time of prayer and reflection for them, so there were no priests on Telshakran soil at that moment.

  “Momma! Momma, don’t die!” Linna screamed, bursting into a fit of tears.

  “She’s not dying, Linna,” my father reassured her. “But I need you to stay as close to Momma as you can. Hold on to the edge of her coat so I know where you are, okay?”

  My sister nodded and obediently stood beside my mother, clinging to the hem of her coat, but continued to cry as any child would to see her mother in terrible distress.

  All my father could hear was my mother’s moans and my sister’s crying amid the continuous snaps and explosions of the fireworks up above. He didn’t want me to be born there in that place, because he wasn’t sure my mother or I would survive the ordeal without assistance. My father knew the King and Queen of Telshakra didn’t care for disorder among their people, and a disturbance during a major world event would not go unnoticed. His only option was to create a disturbance in the crowd that could be seen from atop the Divine Mountain.

  “I need your help!” my father pleaded with the surroundin
g crowd. It was the stress of the situation and the fear for my mother’s safety that suddenly forced my father’s voice to become so loud that everyone within twenty feet of where he stood could hear him. “Help me call to the Divine Mountain! All of you! Please! My wife needs a priest! Please help us!”

  There was a growing murmur among the spectators as they whispered to each other, unsure of what to do about my family.

  “Vim, help me!” my mother cried in agony and collapsed to the ground, rolling onto her back to try to alleviate some of the pain.

  My father quickly kneeled by her side, taking my mother’s hand and kissing it gently as she squeezed his fingers as hard as she could. “That’s it, my angel. Send the pain to me,” he whispered, wiping the sweat-soaked strands of her hair away from her face. “Send it to me.”

  Gradually, the crowd around my family realized what was happening and gathered around us as they shouted with all their might toward the Divine Mountain. My father looked up, astonished to see everyone around him waving and yelling as wildly as they could. The shouting grew louder and louder as more people joined in, spreading like waves across the viewing fields.

  Within a few minutes, hundreds upon hundreds of Telshakran voices cried out on behalf of my parents for help from the Divine Mountain. The noise became louder than anything occurring in the sky and it drowned out the fireworks, shaking the ground beneath their feet with a powerful rumble like an earthquake.

  Through the misty drifts that enveloped the top of the mountain, a bright white light appeared, followed by the bellow of the Rectory’s blackwhale horn. The crowd cheered and hugged, as these were the signs that the Church had answered their call.

  “They’re coming, my love!” My father was overjoyed “They’re coming to help us!” He kissed my mother’s head and patted her neck, relieved that help was on its way.

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