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Content Warning: Miscarriage   For Geminites, life can seem a never-ending masquerade. Immediately recognizable by their startlingly beautiful features, Geminites bear the burden of expectation and prejudice in equal measure. Their complexion is perfect, their skin is soft, and their hair is lush and never seems to frizz. Their proportions are as if sculpted, and even those with more than a few extra pounds always seem to carry it in just the right places. And their eyes - always two different colors - are mysterious and captivating. There's just something about them that invites attention, jealousy, and even unexpected or uncomfortable questions about the beholder's own sexuality.   Throughout history they have always been low in number, and often found themselves living side by side with other cultures like the Chainlanders and Detrithans. But for them there's never any such thing as just "fitting in". Rarely do people have a neutral opinion about Geminites. Depending on the era's prevailing sentiments, they are either pureblooded nobles to be admired and elevated, or devilish degenerates whose otherworldly seductive wiles ought to be feared and avoided. Never starved for controversy, some Geminites find it easier to hide or even deliberately blemish their own physical appearance so as to avoid standing out.   All of this conflict centers around the claim that they are a divinely chosen (or cursed) people, a claim that may just as likely come from outside the race as from within it. It is not without merit because there is far more to it than just mere looks. Without a doubt, something is going on with the Geminites. Who could dispute it, when they boast a power as magnificent as the Blood Ward?  

The Blood Ward

Geminites are innately gifted with the seemingly supernatural ability to resist all disease. Of course, they bleed, freeze, fall, and starve just like everyone else. They can be poisoned through alchemical synthetics, or become violently allergic to rare and specific ingredients. But thanks to the Blood Ward, Geminites never get "sick" per se. No colds, no flus, no fevers, venereal diseases, unsightly growths, inflammations, or infections. It is a miraculous boon to be sure, even if it makes Geminites an easy scapegoat during times of pestilence.   In folklore, stories about Geminities disproportionately feature themes of patriarchy, sorcery, forbidden love, and genetic supremacy. Tradition within Geminite families stresses the importance of strategic marriages that cultivate the bloodline, for the outside world can be fickle and untrustworthy. To be fair this does not always come from a position of arrogant superiority. A more progressive position argues that the Blood Ward must be preserved in the event that one day, when medicine is sufficiently advanced, Geminites might be able to share their gift with the entire human race. What fleeting romantic notions could be more important than the expulsion of disease itself?   The hardship falls especially hard on Geminite women, because the Blood Ward is only passed down matrilineally. That is, regardless of the father's heritage, only a child born from the womb of a Geminite shall receive the gift, and only such a female child may pass it on. The chain must remain unbroken, and so there is great pressure for women to bear multiple daughters. On the other hand those assigned male at birth may enjoy its benefits, but play little role in its propagation.  

A Dark Passenger

There is also the small matter they prefer not to mention in polite company: The Otherling. Nearly every child born with the Blood Ward is, in fact, a twin sibling to a disfigured stillborn, expelled from the womb on the same day the healthy baby is born. Though no one knows why this dark exchange occurs, it is thought that the Otherling acts as a sacrificial vessel by "absorbing" the original sin of the surviving newborn.   Superstitions abound regarding the order of birth, or about triplets, birthmarks, the father's genetics, and unfortunate deaths during childbirth caused by physical trauma. It is not unheard of for miscarriages to be attributed to the wicked nature of an Otherling who strangles their sibling out of jealousy. Some even say that the spirit of the Otherling lives on within the survivor, and that every Geminite is "twin-souled". Thus it is an oft-cited bit of folk wisdom that they are unnaturally skilled at perceiving both sides of an argument, and are prone to indecision and playing devil's advocate. Other times, they are accused of hearing voices in their heads, acting in emotionally erratic ways, or conjuring up illusionary doppelgangers that are only visible in mirrors and dreams.   Sometimes though, when the stars align just right, and the omens call for the unusual, multiple children arrive healthy to term and there is no visibly recognizable Otherling. That is when things become very interesting, and potentially very dangerous for at least one person in the family.

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Grandmaster CoffeeQuills
CoffeeQuills the Coffee Quaffer
5 Jul, 2020 13:28

That ending is perfect and honestly seems to be a story in and of itself!

Sage gfishbone
Greg R. Fishbone
5 Jul, 2020 13:29

Creepy and cool!

Greg R. Fishbone, Author in Residence at Mythoversal, is releasing his young adult mythic fantasy, BECOMING HERCULES, as a weekly serial on Kindle Vella. This diverse coming-of-age drama shares its ancient roots with the Percy Jackson series, Song of Achilles, and Lore Olympus.