Chapter 55:

END Book 2, Ch. 30: Play Destroy

ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ [Beta version]

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The Buckingham family mansion was by far the largest residential structure in all of Chicago, more so than even all the apartment complexes. Located in a secretive gated community in Chicago’s Far North Side, the mansion appeared enormous to anyone viewing it from the outside…yet most of the home was underground, simply to avoid drawing too much attention from common folk.Bookmark here

However, many never knew of the mansion’s existence at all, for it sat out of sight behind sculpted hills and manually planted trees.Bookmark here

Despite its unmatched size, the mansion was home to only three people year-round: the Buckinghams. The family accommodated their rotating staff of over a hundred servants, some of whom had served in the American president’s White House, the Indian president’s Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Casino Le Lyon Vert in France, and some of the top luxury cruise liners in the world, as well as a few waitresses from maid cafés in Japan to “spice up the world-class ensemble of hard-working servants.”Bookmark here

The northwest wing contained the suite for the family’s only child, Belladonna “Bella” von Buckingham VII, age eighteen, overqualified for Lyonbole Public High School. She sat at a small, circular tea table with cabriole legs, built in Germany in the late 1700s and worth over eight thousand dollars. Her long, bright blonde hair flowed behind her and nearly reached the floor.Bookmark here

“Sounds too good to be true,” Bella said in a monotone voice. “How can I believe you?”Bookmark here

She sipped her tieguanyin tea (the tea worth more than the gold-rimmed cup), and cast a bored gaze out the balcony glass door of her very own common room.Bookmark here

“Just listen to what’s inside you,” her cloak-wearing guest assured with a fabricated voice. “Your potential lies in your desires.”Bookmark here

Bella narrowed her eyes, still gazing out the balcony glass door at the darkening, sculpted landscape surrounding her family’s mansion. Reflections of her blue eyes in the glass returned the flat look to her, and she listened to the crackling fireplace across the room. Every corner of the room was fitted with a speaker from the handed-down 11.2-channel surround sound system, turned down low to “Play Destroy” by American electropop singer Poppy, featuring Canadian musician Grimes.Bookmark here

“You’re wearing a mask and won’t show me your face,” Bella said. “You won’t tell me your name. How are you not suspicious?”Bookmark here

“I have proof that I can give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of,” the guest told her.Bookmark here

With a sharp sigh, Bella placed her cup of tea on the custom-made neoprene coaster and gave the suspicious individual a rude look.Bookmark here

“Oh?” She scoffed, pivoting in her chair and crossing one leg over the other. “What do I dream of, then? Tell me.”Bookmark here

“Ruling the world.”Bookmark here

Bella was somewhat shocked, and she giggled.Bookmark here

“So? Doesn’t everyone want to rule the world?”Bookmark here

“Maybe many, but not all,” the masked guest replied. “That is my guess. But I’m not interested in their desires, only yours. I need somebody with a strong will to follow their heart, and I believe your will is greater than my previous clients’.”Bookmark here

Giving the guest a disapproving look, Bella said, “Meh, you’re creepy.”Bookmark here

“Your father is a very prestigious and wealthy man,” the false voice added. “You are set to inherit much of his influence.”Bookmark here

Bella smiled. She nodded, saying, “Yes, that’s true. Father is a very important person. He’s made hundreds of investments, and has his hand in just about every Fortune 500 company. So yes, maybe I would like to be wealthy and powerful like him, and I think I will be someday.”Bookmark here

“What makes you so confident? What can you do at your age?”Bookmark here

Offended, Bella raised her voice. “I can do a lot, thank you! I’m already the richest girl in Chicago, and I’m only eighteen.” She stood up, admiring herself in one of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the common room, running her hands along her body clad in a tight Bottega Veneta and Armani ensemble. “I’m thinking I’ll start a YouTube channel, showcasing my ‘trendy’ and ‘upper class’ lifestyle, vlogging about it all. Regular people are addicted to that kind of content, like voyeurs for high class living. Just think of all the hits I’ll get!”Bookmark here

A conceited smirk spread across Bella’s face.Bookmark here

“What if I say it can be better than that?” the guest told her.Bookmark here

“Better than that?” Her slanted facial expression showed both skepticism and intrigue. “How so?”Bookmark here

Something seemed to churn inside her, putting certain motives in motion. Whatever this mysterious person had to offer, it was becoming apparent that it could touch her innermost aspirations.Bookmark here

“I can give you something that no other person could ever have,” the guest said. “It will be yours exclusively, and it will give you an advantage to gaining popularity and control.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know about popularity being my number one goal,” Bella said, thinking it over, “but…”Bookmark here

“But to have influence, and make this world yours for the taking.”Bookmark here

The beautiful blonde laughed.Bookmark here

“That sounds so devious!” she said, flipping her conditioned hair behind her shoulder. “I can’t take you seriously.”Bookmark here

“I am serious, and you know that it sounds tantalizing.”Bookmark here

Energy vibrated through the room, but not vibrations Bella could feel. Instead, they spoke to her from the inside.Bookmark here

“It does sound nice.”Bookmark here

Bella’s sense of humor stepped aside for how her guest was being honest…a fact that presented itself through the unfelt vibrations covering her.Bookmark here

Catching a chill, she shook her head. “No, something isn’t right here.” She glared at the masked face. “What are you talking about?” Blinking from a sudden epiphany, she was now confused. “When…did you get here…?”Bookmark here

Rather than answering, the guest reached their gloved hand into their cloak, taking care to remain fully concealed. They held out a ring with a large gem attached. The ostentatious engravings and gem sparkling in the light of the fireplace captured Bella’s attention.Bookmark here

“Take a look at this.” The guest handed the ring to Bella.Bookmark here

“Is this a bribe?” The girl frowned, taking the ring. “I have plenty of jewelry, probably more valuable than this.”Bookmark here

“You are wrong twice there,” the fake voice told her. “First, it is not a bribe, I just want you to examine it. Second, I guarantee that nothing in your family’s possession is more valuable than that artifact.”Bookmark here

“Pssht, whatever.” Holding the ring close, Bella looked it over. Nothing notable stood out, not even in the gem itself, which she could not distinguish, even with her keen eye for gem types. And yet, for some reason, she was captivated by the item, drawn in more by the second. “Well, it’s rather plain, but…uh, I like it…”Bookmark here

“Yes. Very appealing.”Bookmark here

“Hmm…you said it’s an artifact?”Bookmark here

“Indeed. Ancient and notorious.”Bookmark here

Bella stared at the ring, her movements slowing as her eyes became blank and dreamy. The guest quickly snatched it away before the girl could pocket it.Bookmark here

“H-hey!” Bella objected. “I was still looking at that.”Bookmark here

“Of course,” the guest replied, “you’ll get to enjoy it more.”Bookmark here

While the ring was held in the gloved hand, it expanded and changed its shape. Flabbergasted, Bella gasped at the transformation.Bookmark here

“It changed!” she exclaimed. “W-what…how…?” Although scared, she was also fascinated. There was a monumental magnetism holding her attention.Bookmark here

The cloaked individual held the object, now a gold chalice decorated with colorful gems and silver trim.Bookmark here

“I am capable of feats that many think are impossible,” the guest explained, presenting the chalice. “In fact, most people are incapable of doing such things. But, you are worthy of inheriting impossible abilities.”Bookmark here

Bella’s mouth hung open. Such a sight had to be of evilness! Of dark arts! However, when looking at the magnificent chalice, a calmness fell unto her.Bookmark here

“I can do these kinds of things, too?” she asked in awe, staring at the chalice.Bookmark here

“Not this precisely, because this artifact is a shapeshifter, but other seemingly impossible things will be yours. It all depends on what you want to do. Whatever you wish for will manifest as something you control, and it will assist you in achieving your dreams. You will have a great advantage over anyone who rivals your dreams, and anyone who stands in your way.”Bookmark here

The chalice filled itself with a clear elixir poured from nowhere within three-dimensional space. When Bella took the chalice in both hands, she peered over its silver rim at the watery fluid within. There was so much peace inside it, and she could hear it calling to her, reaching to her soul and speaking directly to the very thing she wanted most in that moment.Bookmark here

“I see,” Bella said in a hushed tone, a wide smile spreading on her lips. “I know now. I know what I’ve always aspired to do.”Bookmark here

“It can all be yours, Belladonna.”Bookmark here

The aroma from the elixir did not exist as Bella lifted the Chashman Artifact to her lips, but it was the best thing her heart had ever smelled. Red glints appeared in her pupils when she gulped it down, and the cloaked guest merely watched through black sunglasses.

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***AUTHOR'S NOTE***Bookmark here

I can't thank you enough for reading this far.Bookmark here

At long last, Book 2 is completed (at least enough for me to feel confident sharing it). Writing ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ has been a most challenging endeavor, but I'm dedicated to it. There's still a lot of work ahead of me, and the story will get better from here. Now that the "full" introduction is complete, I can finally begin writing the story I've wanted to write from the beginning...I needed two books of buildup first. xDBookmark here

Book 1 has been published on paperback, and I plan to publish Book 2 the same way. The awesome artist Rusembell has been providing illustrations for the paperback versions. You can check out many of them on Deviant Art with the link below.Bookmark here

Now that I'm this far, I'll admit I need to take a small hiatus from this story. I've worked intensely on it, and I need to get back in touch with the real world. A break is important so I can approach Book 3 with a fresh mind. Also, I have a side project story I want to quickly crank out during this hiatus, and I'm just as excited about it as I am to be done with ANNO DOMINI Book 2!Bookmark here

Read long and prosper.Bookmark here

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