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Mishaps, Mayhem and Mistresses

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

I’ve been reading faster now of late.

Perhaps it is the book that I’m reading or perhaps it is the thickness of the book. Or perhaps it is the time that I give it that determines my speed. Either way, the act of consuming a book in a rush has always given me much joy and contentment.

My current read is The Rose Society by Marie Lu.

Marie is an accomplished YA author and has written the “Legend trilogy”, the “Skyhunter” and “Warcross” duologies and the one that I can’t tear away from and currently reading is the “Young Elites” trilogy. The series is like a cross between the lives of people in the 13th to 14th century Italy and the X-Men. While there are no mutants during the period in history, nor to this day unless proven otherwise, it does involve people with special abilities.

At the heart of this story is a girl named Adelina Amouteru.

She hails from a distant and fictitious land called Estenzia which is part of a bigger land mass named Kenettra. In her world, people have at one time in their history been afflicted with a sickness called Blood Fever. More often than not, those who have survived the fever come out changed physically by way of eye or hair color or other physical aberrations that would mar their original feature. But the most important result of that fever would be the powers that one would soon get from being healed by the fever.

Some children would be able to control the weather while others find themselves with the ability to summon fire, move at a speed seemingly inhuman and even copy the ability of others. There is no way to tell what abilities would manifest. That in itself is the danger and the surprise.

For Adelina, her power is that of illusion.

She can conjure up images that would look and feel real and it is how she harnesses and manages that power that dictates the events from one book to another.

* * * Spoiler * * *

The events of the first book, “The Young Elites” find Adelina being inducted into the group of Elites called “The Dagger Society” who use her powers to foil the plans of the Axis Inquisition, the military arm of the King of Kenettra, who through his lead Inquisitor, Teren Santoro, vow to rid the kingdom of these so-called ‘blights” to their society.

The book ends with Adelina miscalculating a staged duel between Enzo, the leader of the Elites who can summon fire at will and with whom Adelina has fallen in love, and Teren, who himself has the ability to physically heal from whatever wound inflicted on him. Yes, I know you’re thinking Wolverine and so have I when I was reading. The duel ends with Teren killing Enzo and thus thwarts the Elite’s plan to overthrow the government and forces Alina and her sister, Violetta who is also an Elite and has the power to nullify other Elite powers to depart for Merroutas where she hopes she could hide and plan her next move.

The second book finds Adelina taking her destiny into her own hands by forming her own group, “The Rose Society” recruiting new members and devising her own plan to bring down the Kenettran government as well as getting back at members of “The Dagger Society” who in the course of events have revealed that they did not like Adelina and that if her powers could not be made to benefit or serve their cause, then she would have to be killed.

Talk about revelations and secrets.

One secret that soon became apparent was the past relationship of a female Elite named Lucent and her past with Maeve, now the Queen of Beldain, whose nation is in favor of Elites and has plans of ruling Kenettra. In one of her talks by the cliff, they recount their love before Lucent was banished by Maeve’s mother to Kenettra. Maeve claims that her own mother married twice until she found true love with another knight. She believes that her relationship with Lucent can still go on. But Lucent says that Maeve is Queen now and not merely a Princess. She will need to marry and provide an heir to the throne. To quote Lucent, “I will not be your mistress. I cannot be so close to you and know that a man will have you every night. Don’t make me bear that.”

I must admit that the passage alone has stopped me dead in my tracks, for not only did it speak of a character’s truth, but it also harkened me to a time in my past when it was my own truth.

Coming from a conservative Chinese family, there was indeed an expectation for me to marry and continue the business. And it was a role that I on one hand did not question and on the other awaited in fear and trepidation for I was struggling with who I was, with what I and who I really wanted.

I was in a relationship with an older man at the time and that relationship quickly taught me to be more mature about love, relationships, and the work that was needed to make a partnership successful and worthy of time and pursuit. And yet we both entertained the thought that perhaps I or both of us can have it both ways for we were in love and would strive to meet the requirements of both the relationship and what the world demanded of us.

He admitted that he knew that a day would come when I would be asked to choose and that my mere admitting of what my family required of me then spelled our doom from day one. But because he loved me that much, he decided to give our relationship a chance and fight for us if need be.

But the world proved to be bigger and more relentless than we thought and our relationship had to change and adapt to what was expected of us.

Reading what Queen Maeve had envisioned for her and for Lucent made me remember my own sense of hope, or perhaps naiveté that both I and my first love could actually carry on with what we wanted, regardless and in spite of what the world wanted from us as well. Was my youth responsible for fostering that star-crossed lover's archetype that we see in literature? Or was my inexperience at having no previous relationship of any sort provided too blank a template, only to be told that I could not populate that very same template with elements of my choosing but that of the choice of others?

Mostly when I put down a book in the midst of my reading, it was because the passage held such wisdom and accuracy that I had to take out my phone and type the words into my notes so that I may quote it in the future, or a scene so violently abhorrent that the images it leaves in my mind’s eye prove to be too graphic for me to continue at the moment. In this case, it was neither of those things.

The scene brought me back to a time in my life when innocence shielded me to some degree and deluded me to think that a love that was not sought after and developed in time could be genuine and true and even strong enough to hold the tide. Lucky for me, I’ve moved on and grown from that experience into the not-so-naive person that I am today. I see things that I may not call out. I experience things that I may choose not to share and keep to myself. But I’ve also learned from experiences to know that learning is indeed a lifelong process and one that we don’t have a standard rule book for. It is a process that must be undergone, must be respected, and must shape us into better people. For what is an experience if it does not teach us what we were meant to learn? Should that happen then perhaps we ourselves would become guilty of manifesting a vicious cycle for ourselves, without knowing that we caused it all along.

For that, I say, that if you happen to be at a crossroads in your life, know that whatever decision you make, not only will it change your current trajectory but the choice itself must be made with eyes open and with a true and hopeful heart. A heart that knows that the decision was made because of the grip that it had on our own heartstrings, a pull that continues to tug and pluck those very same strings until the decision was reached. And only once made, will we feel content, accomplished, and at peace.

At peace with the knowledge that you’ve decided with all your heart and that you have made it in accordance with your truth.

I pray that every one of us gets to live our truth. Or if not the closest facsimile of it should venturing forth on your own in search of that is not an option.

But whatever the case, live your life with love. Live your life with truth and you will be all the more better for it.

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