A Story In Time, New Year’s Wishes. PART FIVE>

The Lord of the Earth came when Aeon called him.  He was sombre in comparison to his usually bright and lively self.  It was startling for Aeon to see it.

“Lady Time,” he’d said sombrely.

“Lord Earth,” she responded.  She reached forward to clasp his hands.  He gently squeezed hers in return.  “Will you do it?”

He studied her carefully.  No matter how many times he had told her to find out for herself what being human meant.  No matter how many times he and Lady Death had said that she shouldn’t be so pessimistic about human deaths, she had never done it.  And yet this time, she had gone on her own accord.

“Lady Time, you surprise me.”  He nodded and pulled his hands away from hers.  Walking to the two children in the open, and touched Lily.

Aeon turned to John who was watching intently, and with her hands, she covered his eyes, and whispered in his ear, “You cannot look.”

And then, when she felt the change in time, she too called on the golden sands and let herself and John be transported back through time.

The first thing that John did when he opened his eyes and found himself back in his time, he ran.  He’d been dragged through time and had to run what felt like a mile.  But, he’d agreed if only it would help Lily.

Lily.  That was the only thing he cared about in the world.

Lily.  He ran, through people-filled streets and across heavy traffic covered roads.  He ran until he arrived at her address.

As he was about to ring her doorbell, the door opened.

It was her.  Lily, his girl.  And as he expected, she was glowing with life.  The girl who had been dying just yesterday, was now standing before him full of life.

“Lily!” He gasped, startling her.

For a moment they stare at each other.  And then it’s over, and John realises the answer before she says anything.

Aeon watches the fireworks in that city from the roof of one of the tallest towers.  It had been three days since she had taken John through time. It had been three days since she had seen John.  He’d been ecstatic but, he’d also been sorely disappointed.  She’d watched his disappointment when she returned to her realm temporarily to turn the first country into the New Year.

For the twenty-three years after, the Hourglass would turn itself accordingly until all the time zones had been aligned.  There may be one giant Hourglass, but surrounding it, there were Hourglasses that had to be turned in accordance.  And as long as the big one was turned, the smaller ones would turn as well.

The New Year.  A time of resolution and vows to change, even if they don’t come true, Aeon knew most of the people, most of the humans would feel different a year later.  They always do.

Even Aeon had felt it.

Many years ago, thousands probably, when she had been first conceptualised, she had been something akin to human.  She had a feeling that at that time, she fallen in love and had lost her lover, perhaps to something less fatal than what would have taken Lily’s life. She also reckoned that, at that time, she had watched the New Year come passed by his side as well.  That had always been her wish.

And then, when he’d gone, she had become obsessed with time.  The lack of time, too much time.  She had been obsessed.

Over time, thousands of years later, she had forgotten the meaning of humanity, life and living.  Instead she turned into the immortal that she was.  She became bored, aware that at one point in her life, she must have cared once before.  But because she had forgotten, she had become dullin her senses.

Seeing John care so much about Lily, a woman – no girl – who Aeon had felt, intuitively, may not have loved John as much as he had. Then again, Aeon was just the Lady of Time.  Matters of the heart, matters of love, that was up to the actual gods, not a legendary like Aeon.

But what she had feared, that John would be rejected; that he would be forgotten; that Lily had left her childhood friend behind years ago, had come true.  She’d seen it.  And he had known it.

That moment that she had watched in the Hourglass, had opened her heart just a little, reminding her of that past that she had forgotten.

“Hey!  Lady of Time!”  She saw him before she heard him.  He was climbing up, the ladder squeaking as he went.

She watched him up to the moment when he sat down next to her.

“Happy New Year John,” she said softly.  She didn’t dare say, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

“Do you have a name?”  He asked after a moment of silence.

She looked at him.  “Aeon.  I’m sometimes known as Aeon.”

“What a strange name,” he said a tad bit too dully.  “I like ‘the Lady of Time’ better.  ‘Lady’ has a better ring to it.”

Aeon frowned.  “I don’t know where it came from, it’s just a name I’ve been called.”

He laughs a little.  “Sorry.  I didn’t mean to be critical.”

“I know.”

And then for some time they continued to watch the fireworks until they ended.  And then, they sat there, waiting, watching, and listening to the voices and cheers of the New Year down below.

“Do you regret it?”  Aeon asked suddenly.

“No.  This is something I’ll never regret,” he said after a moment.

“Even though this has happened?”

“Yes.”  He looked at her.  “You did warn me…Lady Time.”

“I did.”  She paused.  “What will you do?”

Then he gave his wicked smile.  “Why, I’ll make her fall in love with me all over again.”

The End>

A Story In Time, New Year’s Wishes. PART FOUR>

The nature of Aeon’s job had always been difficult.  But yet also very simple.  She just had to pass the souls from Lady Death to the Hourglass returning them to life, so that they can be reborn.  And then, she must keep time.   She must turn the Hourglass day after day, hour after hour.

Aeon over time, grew emotionless, grew bored.  She had forgotten.  She had one more power.  But she cannot execute it alone.  And she cannot execute it without full honesty from the requester.

“You want a miracle.  A miracle on a day that is not Christmas,” she said quietly.  “What makes you think I can grant such a miracle?”

“You’re the Lady of Time,” he said sarcastically.  He didn’t believe.  Aeon knew he truly didn’t believe in her.  “What else but turn back time?”

“Time…is fragile.”  She leaned forward.  “You love your Lily and yet wish to save her.  It is very simple.  But turning back time, do you know what can happen?”

He stayed silent.  Aeon figured, he was thinking hard about the consequences.  So she said, “I may be removed from humans and their sentiments, but I have some understanding. I see it all through time, how people suffer as I watch them in the Hourglass.  I know how it seems.  If I change time, even if I can, what will change?”

She takes his hands. They’re cold.  Just as hers were warm.  “I and Lord Earth can make it happen.  But do you believe this life will not change?”

“Are you asking whether I believe enough that Lily will not leave me?”

“Yes.”

He looks hard to the right not really looking at anything in particular.  “I believe it.”

“You will be the only person to remember that you have saved her life.  No one else will have any memories.”

He shook his head slightly.  “I don’t care.”

Aeon closes her eyes and sighs.  Then, she cast gold dust around him and her.

She whispered in his ear to close his eyes and to keep them closed.  He did.  And then, Aeon watched the golden sand around her shifting and changing her surroundings. She went from the outside of her hospital to sometime ten years before, to when John was fourteen, to when he was ten and a tiny little shrimp, til at last she the sands dropped her in the centre of a field some fifteen years before that moment where Aeon and John had been standing outside the hospital.

“Open your eyes,” she said.  The golden sand swirled once more around them, kicking up a wind, sending a breeze through her hair and ruffling his, plucking at his clothes.

He blinked three times, his eyes barely adjusted to the sun of the summer.  “Where are we?”

“You don’t remember this place?” She asked him, turning away and looking around the grassy field.  For miles it looked relatively empty.  But on closer inspection, in which she was required to squint to look further, Aeon saw what she was hoping to find.

“It doesn’t…look tha…quite familiar.”  He looked around too.  But he couldn’t see what she could.  He couldn’t because he had no idea when in time he was, and he had no idea what he was looking for.  How can one look for what one can’t see?

“Come,” she said, walking away from him and towards what she had been looking at.  “I know exactly where I’m going.”

“Wait!” He said, calling after her.  She heard him trip, swear and then stand up to run after her again.  “How the hell are you walking this fast?”

Aeon stopped.  And John ran into her.  But that didn’t stop her thinking process.  She turned to him with a thoughtful look on her face, “I think that’s because I am back in my spirit form, not just an illusion.  I’m also in the past and not the present.  Overall, I feel lighter.  So that must be why I can walk fast.”

That’s a reason?”  He said sarcastically.  “Clearly, it’s very understandable.”

“Shut up,” she snapped.  Aeon knew it hadn’t made sense, but to her it did.  Past and present, present nad future changed how she revealed herself.  Yet at the same time, all time was simultaneous for her because she was the turner of time and the Lady of Time, therefore she was all-knowing when it came to all matters concerning time.

“It’s more like, for time that has passed, I am a mere shadow of myself.  For time that exists in the presence, I am myself, even in my spirit form where I am more physical than spiritual, unable to be seen by others.  And in the time to come, I am like I am in the time that has passed.  I myself can’t make any changes.”  She paused, stopped talking and then turned back to continue walking.  “Yep, that sounds about right!”

“Hey wait!  What does that mean?  I thought you were giving me a miracle?”  John yelled at the fast disappearing Aeon.

“A miracle?  Oh yes, I did say something like that didn’t I?”

“Hey! LADY FREAKING TIME STOP WALKING.”

“What?”  Aeon yelled back, stopping abruptly.

“What are you doing?”  He asked her.  “Where am I? What have you done?  What about my miracle?”

“I’m talking you to look at something.  You’re about fifteen years in the past.  I’m doing what I said.  Your miracle?  Well, it’s coming!” Aeon said in a rush, her head turning back to her target location, she was a tad fidgety.  “Now, come on, we have to hurry.”

“What are you saying?”  He demanded.  “Why hurry?”

“Why don’t you look?”  She said, pointing forward to the silhouette of a boy and girl sitting just beyond their reach in the field.

She watched as he paled slightly. “Do you remember now?”  She said quietly.

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you still want your miracle?”

He looks at her.  Scenes like this can change a person’s determination.  But in John, Aeon saw no change.  He was not afraid.  Even if the present changed out of favour for him, he was not afraid.

“Yes.”

A Story In Time, New Year’s Wishes. PART THREE>

Everyone in their life falls in love.  Whether it’s once, twice, three times, early in life, late in life, at the very last moment.  For John, John had been in love with Lily since they were little brats.  And even though Lily had acted tough all throughout their childhood, she had become weak very quickly by the time it came down to it.

They’d started dating before she’d gotten worse, so it wasn’t until later that he’d learnt about it. And there’d been so much pain in so little time.  But in the end, John couldn’t give Lily up.

Now he sat next to her in the hospital room.  She was quietly dozing.  Not long ago, not many hours ago before, she had been angry with him.  It was probably his fault that she was here.  No, not probably, definitely.

Aeon watched this scene impartially.  She realised early on that she should have felt sad.  But somehow, seeing spirits every hour handed to her by the Lady of Death, it was hard to be sensitive.  Death was natural.  Sickness was natural.  But still, seeing the process was a surprise for Aeon.

Aeon couldn’t remember the last time she had experienced this feeling.  Sympathy was it?  Indeed it was the Lord of the Earth who always visited her, when he was not looking after his realm, and who told her, most often crying, about the stories of many of the people whose souls he had passed to the Lady of Death to take away.

And then the Lady of Death would come and complain to her sometimes complaining about how the Waverers (souls that were not ready to move on and hung about life until a medium or an exorcist finally got rid of them) were the worst.  It was the Lady of Death who haunted those that haunted others and gave them just one other reason to move on.

But Aeon had always stayed in her throne room in her realm not really going anywhere, not really coming into contact with any humans.  Just souls.  If she was only in contact with souls, souls that by the time they had come to her were like unborn foetuses, then, how would she know the pain that humans felt in parting?

This had been Lord Earth’s reasoning.  Even Lady Death’s.  But for Aeon, she hadn’t come here on their suggestion.  Their reasons had been well placed, but she hadn’t come here for them.  She had come for her own selfish reasons leaving behind the throne, knowing that Hour Glass would be fine for the short time she was on Earth.  Both Earth and Death had been charged temporarily to turn the time.

John stayed beside his precious Lily.  Aeon watched by his side day and night for three nights.  Aeon learnt that Lily, despite looking well, had actually still been very sick.  The day Aeon had met John, she had been having one of her better days, who would have thought it would only last briefly?

Although John was primarily watching over Lily, he also had shifts with her parents and siblings.  But mostly, even though he was just a “boyfriend”, he stayed by her side most of the time.

It was during one of his breathers that Aeon spoke to him again for the first time in a long time.

“What is it that you love about that girl?”  She asked him.  He had taken out a cigarette and started smoking.  “Why are you smoking?”

“Lily is brave.”  He puffed out smoke. “Because…I want to smoke.” He coughed.

Curiosity getting the better of her, she reached forward and plucked the cigarette out of his hand.  He looked at her in surprise but he didn’t have to words to speak.

Ignoring him, Aeon put the cigarette to her lips and inhaled.  It was though her body had done this before.   Many, many years ago she had inhaled tobacco and she revelled in what her body now could not handle.

She coughed and coughed until all the smoke was expelled from her lungs.  “This is foul.  I cannot understand how you handle it.  You do not seem like a person who smokes.”

“I don’t usually.  Usually, I prefer not to,” he said slowly.  His eyes were wide as he watched Aeon.

Aeon passed the cigarette back to John.  He took it, still he was stunned. “But you still smoke.”  She paused, thinking, then looked at him.  “Only when Lily is in the hospital.”

“What are you implying?”  He asked.

“It stresses you out that much?”

He shrugged.  “What would you know?  You’re just a ‘Time Lady’.  Non-human.”

“SO you acknowledge my status, do you?” Even though Aeon had been out of touch with reality for so long, she still had an understanding.  “Isn’t she the one you love the most?”

“She is,” he admitted.  Then he looked at Aeon carefully.  “Time Lady huh.  You really must be.”

Aeon said nothing.  It was indeed a little insulting to be mistaken for a soul or a Waverer.  But she could hardly expect him to believe she was a god-like figure, such as though ancient Greek gods.

“Like I said before, what else can I be?”

He pursed his lips.  “What can you do?”

“Huh?”

“I asked…what can you do?”

“This is the first time you’ve asked.”

“It’s the first time I’m willing to believe.”

Aeon stepped close to him, as she did, she began to glow.  Her gold glow fell on him.  “I read time, turn time, count time, endlessly.  I take the souls to be reborn and I give them to the sands of time.  This is my job.”

He didn’t look at her when he asked.  But Aeon was not a fool.  She knew what he wanted to ask before he asked her.  But yet she still waited for him to ask.  She couldn’t refuse if there was nothing to refuse.  No matter how much it would hurt.

Finally he looked at her, and said, “Can you save my Lily?”

A Story In Time, New Year’s Wishes. PART TWO>

His name was John.  And John liked a girl. The reason why he had caught the Lady of Time being suspicious and poking her nose in places where her slender nose did not belong, was because the girl he liked had ditched him.  He was incredibly frustrated that she’d done that so he thought if he could get someone into trouble he just might be able to make himself feel a bit better about himself.

Aeon though, was completely not what he had expected.  Ghosts he understood.  The so-called “Time Lady”, he did not get.  What the hell did “The Lady of Time” mean anyway?

John looked to his side where the evidently invisible to anyone but him girl was walking.  She dodged passerbys even though ­­­they would eventually walk through her.

As though the girl, “Aeon” knew what he was thinking, she said, “I’m dodging them for my own sake.  Even if they can’t feel a damn thing, I can.”

To demonstrate, she dropped the gown that she had been holding up.  He only watched half-heartedly as the weight of the gown seemed to pull her who posture downward a little.  With a heavy sigh, she picked up the front of her gown.

“Why do you wear such a troublesome gown if it’s that heavy?”  He asked her.

“Because in the Time Realm, nothing feels like it does on Earth.”  She picked up her pace a little to stride with him.  Even though she was slender and reasonably average heighted – though if she hadn’t been standing next to him, she would have looked much taller – her footsteps were small.  She was obviously not used to walking quickly. If anything, she was used to taking her time.

Aeon was beginning to feel irritated.  For someone who had stayed in the Realm of Time for so long, she hadn’t thought that she would ever feel irritated.  But at that moment, she did.  She felt extremely irritated.

At her dress firstly, but then at her human guide.

John was walking and going his own way.  He only stopped every so often to ask if she was fine.  That or he snorted at her.  But mostly, he treated her like a ghost.  No, he treated her exactly like a ghost.

No matter where he walked, no matter what he did, from that first moment Aeon had met John, John did the things he usually did.  She watched him go have lunch with other people. She watched him be jolly and lively.  She watched him go to work.  She watched him go home.

Not once did John tell her to go away.  Not once did she speak, so at one point – the classic bathroom moment where Aeon had followed him in – it took John another moment to realise that Aeon was there.  He freaked of course and kicked her out.

She had waited outside like a good girl, and when he came out, it had been with a clear mind.  And a mind that had remembered that he was not alone.

“Why are you following me?”  He said.

“Why not?  I have nothing else to do.” Again she tipped her head to the side.  “Does this bother you?”

He sighed then turned to face her fully.  “Yes.  No.  Normally I just ignore ghosts.  If I don’t give them attention, they’ll just go and bother some other person.”

“And yet you stopped me from snooping through some other person’s things.”

“Because it was obviously wrong.  And I thought you were real.  I thought you were going to steal her stuff.”

Strangely this man, who was very much a man, perhaps in his twenties, was childishly naïve.  Even Aeon was sure that no one at this stage of life could make such a mistake.

“What about me didn’t give it away?”  Aeon gestured to her clothes with a sarcastic flourish.

John blinked.  He hadn’t noticed.  It was probably because he had already presumed she was a ghost.  He paused.  No, in thinking, this logic made no sense.  Initially he thought she was a ghost, snooping through someone else’s property.  So after, he’d also mostly ignored her because ghosts are ghosts.  Most of them couldn’t affect the human world unless they had a tonne of anger or varying emotion in them.

But Aeon.  This girl didn’t have any anger or emotion in her, except well, curiosity and boredom.  And her face, despite the gold makeup around her eyes and over her lips, said it all. It was really hard for John to deny the fact that she could possibly be the “Time Lady”, probably most likely because he had no idea what Time Ladies were like.

She was also pretty for a woman who was possibly over a thousand years old.  So he had avoided looking at her as much as possible.  And in all the time that he had used to avoid and forget that she was following him, he realised, if she was not an ordinary ghost.  Then what did she want?  If she was a ghost, then what did she want?

Was she or wasn’t she a ghost?  Ghost was the most logical definition for John, because in truth John could see ghosts.  But she claimed to be the Lady of Time.   So what did that mean?

Just as John was about to confront all the questions he had about the Time Lady and what her job was, his phone rang.

He picked it up.  Yeah, there was one other reason why he had forgotten a girl – or was that woman? –  as pretty as the Time Lady so quickly.  He did have a life and people important to him before her after all.

“Hello,” he said, his heart suddenly beating with anticipation.  “What happened?”

“John, Lily’s in the hospital again.”

 

A Story In Time, New Year’s Wishes. PART ONE>

Aeon looked around her.  It had been a long time since she had stepped into the world of humans and walked among them.

There were still lights on the trees decorating the main walk.  Signs of Christmas was fading, and the noise of boxing day a roar gaining momentum.

“How pretty,” she said lifting her hand up to the sky.  She raised her face to the sky and let the snow land one drop at a time.

It was cold.

Aeon had never felt real snow.  If she had, it must have been a long time ago.  So long, she could hardly remember what it had felt like.  In her realm there was never a change in temperature.  If it snowed, it never felt like anything.  If it rained, it never felt wet.  If it was hot, she never sweated.  The temperature never changed.

And she had watched it all from her golden throne.  She’d sat there, either properly or recklessly, but always, always, dressed in the same draping golden dress that she had always worn, the dress that she was wearing now.  And that which, in her realm, had felt almost weightless, now felt extremely heavy.  The pieces and strands of gold that had been entwined in her hair had also gained weight since she had arrived here.

She figured, she should probably grab a jacket to wear.  Then again it wasn’t as though anyone could see her.  And she did like her dress even though she’d worn it for many years, it was the first of a thousand gold dresses that she loved the best.

When Aeon had arrived she hadn’t really made any plans.  She just wanted to be away from her throne.  For as long as she could remember she had only ever watched Christmas and New Years in her realm.  She had watched through the sand and watched as the time slipped away from her.

It had always seemed fun. Even though she had never hated her own job.  Even though she never aged.  Aeon had wanted to experience what these humans experienced at least once.

And for that reason, she had planned to desert her station for exactly seven days.  Well, just under seven days.  At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, she would go back and she will bring the world from the old year to the new.

Aeon walked shopping boulevard – in her head it was called shopping boulevard because there were so many shops from high to low class and then high again, or vice versa.  Since she had no money, she could only window shop.  Then again, she was also invisible to everyone, so it didn’t matter if she wanted to buy something to wear or just indulge herself, she couldn’t do it.  Aeon was the Lady of Time.  Unless all three of the legendaries stood within each other’s presence, no one would she was there.  Well…there was one other possibility, but on further thought, Aeon dismissed it, because it was really too impossible.

As she walked along the boulevard her eyes eying everything in sight, she found herself excessively fatigued.  For once she was beginning to understand the extremities that humans went to for just a little bit of luxury – or maybe that was a lot, she thought considering the girl next to her.  The girl was clearly laden down with bags after bags.

Most of the bags were of A-class materials, and every single one was a branded item.  Curious, Aeon figured she might as well have a peek to see what kind of clothes had caught this little fashionista’s  eye.

As she pulled apart bag after bag with her slender easy to slip in anywhere fingers, a voice behind her startled her.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

The girl whose things Aeon was looking through looked startled and without hesitation sent a glare through Aeon to the man who had spoken. She indignantly spoke back to him and dared him to accuse her of evidently doing nothing once more.  The man had a mind to hold his tongue, because it dawned on him shortly after the girl spoke that that girl could not see Aeon at all.

While he attempted to cool over the situation, Aeon starred at him.  It was her brazen, bored stare, the kind of stare that she had always used when new souls passed through her realm to move on to the next stage.

He was tall, well in comparison to the tall and slender figure of her legendariness, he was surprisingly tall.  Then again, he was a man.  Too bad Aeon couldn’t make him shrink.  He seemed to like his height too much.  And she wondered if he ever saw the world from beneath everyone else.  How dare he’d caught her out.  Much less even saw her!

When he finally got rid of the girl, he turned to Aeon and said, “Who are you?”

Smiling faintly, Aeon looked at the young, embarrassed and yet hardly frightened man and said, “Why, love, I am the Lady of Time.”

“The Lady of Time?”  He enunciated slowly, and sharply he said, “You don’t expect me to believe that do you?”

“Do you have another explanation for why you can see me?”  She said, one hand unconsciously reaching down to lift a little of the weight of her dress.

“A ghost.  You are the ghost of Christmas past come to haunt me in reflection of the Christmas spirit, right?”

He smirked.  Aeon though, had no idea what he was referring to particularly since she did not think like a human.  Much less know anything related to human analogies.

She blinked.  “Is that supposed to be funny?  Because I can assure you I am not a ghost.”

He just stared at her. Had he really assumed she was a ghost?  Was that normal?  “You’re not a ghost.  You’re what?”

The Lady of Time,” she said, tipping her head to the side innocently enough.

 

Hope.

There is hope it seems….

He looks up, the tear that had once slid down his cheek now slid up, slowly and disbelievingly.  His blue eyes looked up to the heavens, as clear as the water that pooled around him.  The sky was parting above him.  Opening its pillow soft folds like the ribbons of icing on top of a cake being pushed against its grain.

All around him the world was crying backwards.  Raining upside down.  Returning life’s drink to its giver, creator, maker.  All the while, the girl who lay where he knelt remained as still as a carving.

His hand lay on her chest, the other supporting him as he leant back in undisguised awe.

Not so long ago he had her in his arms, alive, breathing.   They’d been drenched from swimming in the lake.  He’d had his arms around her waist, her small waist, and his forehead against his.  She was his love, his one and only.  Not beautiful, not ugly, but her heart as pure as gold.  The way she looked up at him with those brown eyes, set in a face not remarkable at all.  But there she was, looking at him, sharing his breath, breathing with him, all while they were in the water.

It was sin for him to be this way.  He was her guardian.  Her protector, and yet, through sheer coincidence and much protection, he had fallen in love with her.  His sweet angel.  His hands held her cheeks, and brushed away her tears.

He had whispered, “You’re mine.”  Possession had never been the intention, he hadn’t known that love could be possessive.  It was raw to him.  New to him, but he liked it.  He liked her, he liked everything that said her.  Did they, they who were his masters say that he should not, cannot fall in love?  Was he not an angel of goodness?  Did he not do everything when asked?

He held her close and said, “I love you.”

They sat what felt like hours in the day.  The sun beat down on their fair skins but neither of them had cared.  Just like she didn’t care that her dress was soaked, or that he was shirtless.  She hadn’t cared.  What she’d cared about were his wings.

Great arches of whiteness that extended from his shoulders.  They had wrapped around them in the water.

The water didn’t ripple.  It wasn’t cold either.

His hand was always much bigger than hers and he always enjoyed catching her small hands.

She’d known always that they weren’t destined to be happy.  They love she’d said was destined to be a tragedy, if they didn’t stop.  But in the water, she’d looked up at him with those eyes and she knows, just as he knows that they could never be a part.  They loved each other.  He knew it was better to stop this now.

“We’ll always be together,” she said, even though the knowledge was in her eyes.  He knew that she couldn’t be selfish.  She was always altruistic, it was why she was given a guardian angel in the first place.

“But you are my guardian angel.  I cannot compromise your duty, as you cannot compromise mine.”

Even as she said it, he could feel his blessing-given heart breaking.  Did his master not want his warrior guardians to be happy too? Was he selfish for thinking so?  He held her small shoulders.  And ran circles with his thumbs.

There was never a moment more where he felt so selfish.  He was an angel, an angel of the deity, but also, he was a guardian angel.  His duty was to protect.  His path was not love.  But here she was.

Was true love selfish?

“I’m thinking of communing with him to change my guardian angel.”

The world from below his feet then.  He didn’t want to lose his duty.  But the Master would give her what she asked, then call him into question.

But he was always watching.

The Master had always asked for hope from his guardian angels.  He had always said that hope is what they should give, if there was anything ever to be given.

But he could not give hope to her.  He knew as she knew that they needed the master’s blessing.  But the Master would not give his guardian angel a blessing if his guardian angel was the one to blame.  She was the golden girl.  Pure and simple.

She had needed a guardian not a lover. And he had failed her.  Why was that wrong?

[I wrote this story a long time ago, and reading over it, I find it questions something others might find either offensive or disagreeable, sooooo I’m sorry if  I do offend someone because it might infer religion and religious views. Please don’t take it personally, I just wanted write an innocent story about a girl and her protector who promises to protect eternally, yet in the end, cannot.  I wanted to write a story about reality, the ups and downs.  I hope you enjoyed it. ]

Like a Friend. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Seven.

First of all, it’s unbelievable of me that I forgot about this series.  And when I looked back through all my blog material, I was like, omg~!  So I am going to finish it.  It is completely unacceptable that I stopped this abruptly.  SO here are the six other parts:

Like a Diamond.  Part One.

Like a Fire.  Part Two.

Like a Storm.  Part Three.

Like a Breeze.  Part Four.

Like a Light.  Part Five.

Like a Memory.  Part Six.

 

And in continuation here is Part Seven, at long last, hopefully you enjoy!  If there are any inconsistencies (let me know!!!) although I made sure there weren’t.  But I might have missed something.

 

Like a Friend.

What was her father doing?  Her head was aching now.  But Fel had to find him.  They couldn’t stay here anymore.  She turned back pulling the thin shawl around her body, up and around her head.  It had been a long time since she’d felt like this.  When had it been?  Was it before meeting Dallas?  It must have been.  There was not a moment after she’d met Dallas that she remembered anything pleasant between her and Gevrid beside the odd moment or two where he helped her.  But those were rare, not with his position as Captain, he couldn’t do anything more.

She stopped in an alcove for a breather.  Her head ached.  Her hands felt clammy against the cold concrete wall.  And she took that moment to take a seat.  She hugged herself, pulling her knees to herself.  There, she breathed.  In and out, the air seeped into her soul reinvigorating her heart.  And she stood again.

As she strode out of the alcove, she felt a shift, a ripple through the air, and the diamond burned against her chest.  She jerked the shawl away and looked at the glowing diamond.  Feelling eyes on her, she looked to the left and found the younger Felicity staring at her.  On her chest, her own diamond reacted.  And Fel moved to moved, jerked forward by surprise.  But time shifted and Fel was no longer looking at Felicity but at someone else.  Someone across time and space, who could see her, but if he tried to touch her, he would only grab air, doomed to wonder if she was dead or not.

“Felicity,” He said in shock.

“Gevrid,” she replied, the faint touch of water in her eyes.

They stared at each other.  The air shimmered between them, but it didn’t feel muggy and suffocating like most hot air.  Instead it felt cool, gentle, and beautiful.

“I forgot,” she said.

“Forgot what?”  He said confused.  “When did you get back?” Fel walked up to him, reaching out to touch him.  Through time, he felt so alive, so warm.  And he was startled.  As startled as Fel.  But he wouldn’t show it.  He wouldn’t tell Fel that he was as startled as Fel.  Fel just knew.  Because she always knew.

“I forgot us.”  A stray tear, crystal blue, slipped down her cheek.  She wasn’t clutching her head anymore.  There was no more pain, no more ache.  Just clear white snow blanketing her heart and mind.

“Fel?”  He was suddenly awake, and not under a daze.  Had he always been under a daze with her?  He reached up to touch her, but like the effects of time, she was in the past, a ghost of her former self, and therefore, transient to him.  “Fel?  Fel, where are you?  This isn’t your ghost is it?”  He started to panic.

“Gevrid,” she’d said it with an unintentional smile.  She stroked his cheek, relieved.  “Gevrid.  Don’t worry I’ll be back soon.”

“Fel!”  He screamed, but he was already fading.  The diamond on her chest, cooled, and slowly, slowly, the headache returned.

As he faded, Fel wondered why she wanted him to hold her, caress her, touch her hair and her skin the why no one else was allowed to.  Memories came back to her, little things she forgot suddenly seemed as bright as the sun.  She remembered where she lost the hanky Gevrid gave her to wipe her eyes.  Looking forward, she saw herself.  The younger Felicity was staring with the kind of eyes that would forget later on.

The young Felicity looked at Fel with big wide eyes.  She was so full of awe, Fel wondered if Felicity had even noticed the diamond on her chest.  If she had, it was lost under the sea of grief, fear and awe.

“Who are you?” Said Felicity.

“Just a dream,” said Fel.  Fel took a shaky step forward, touched the little girl on the head and walked away.  As she passed the little girl, she whispered, “Grow and love, live as you want, don’t hold back.”  And just as quietly as she came, she left, leaving nothing but a whisper of an impression in the young girl’s mind.  Fel knew, as living proof, that Felicity wouldn’t remember the face of the woman who said those words that had drawn her away to Dallas in the first place.  Felicity would only remember the words.

She couldn’t find her heart as she ran looking for her father.  There was nowhere for that elusive beating centre to hide in her body, but it wasn’t just a “thing”, it was a raging river of abstract notions such as “love” and “hate”.  It was calm for contentment and violent when upset.  It was unrestrained, abundant, almost overflowing on occasions.  Fel was hurt.  It ached where it had been passionate, in the times she’d needed to feel passion the most, it had been unrestrained and rebellious.   Now, now the pain was overreaching, rushing down the river without any bounds, there didn’t seem like a moment it would let up.

Her father was talking to her mother.  Fel doubted her mother knew it was him from the future.  But her father had aged harshly and his lines were deeper.  He slouched now, when he walked, but he was still proud.  And Fel thought, that must what her mother was seeing.  Because her mother didn’t even shrink away.  And her father was being so gentle to her.  He must have reverted to his younger self.

“Father.” He turned slightly at the faint sound of her voice.  This man she was seeing, was the man who should be running the kingdom.  Not the king at the moment, not the one who’d pushed her to the edge, and taught her the meaning of passion.

But her father still had a long way to go, for he was not the friend she had before, for Gevrid was a friend she had lost, and for the fact that she cared.  Her father was more like what a king should be.

Impending doom, or no?

 

You have been sitting on the train to Sydney for some time already.  Your backside is feeling a little sore and you can’t help shifting every so often to get comfortable in your chair.  You cross your legs one way, then what feels like only a second later, though it really has been at least five minutes, you uncross your legs and cross them again, this time right leg on top, left leg on the bottom.

Some time passes and you’re really bored.  You’re nervous and when you left Melbourne, you’d been alone.  You have no interest in the countryside speeding passed and yet you are staring at it as though it is the most interesting thing in the world.  You don’t want to listen to music in case someone talks to you, so you take out a book instead.  You’ve been reading this book for a while, though it’s small, you are so close to finishing it. So you open the book.

‘Little Snow had reached the end of her journey, the burden of the book of tomorrow that she carried in front of her could at last be given to its rightful owner.  She gets off her horse, wipes the sweat from her forehead and walks to the little out-of-the-way church.  The book hummed in Little Snow’s hand.

‘Little Snow walked a little faster, grinning, her journey had come to an end.  Praising herself for obeying instructions and refraining from reading the contents of the book, she tapped her armour, immensely pleased.  She was relieved, but as she reached the door, her hand leaning forward for the knocker, she tripped.  The book flew out of her arms and slammed against the door, slipping out of the pouch.  The pages fluttered in the cool evening breeze, and Little Snow glimpse what was written.

‘Horrified she covered her eyes, but it was too late.  The owner stood above her, dark and frightening in the sunlight afternoon.  He said, ‘I’ve come for you.’  Shivering, she knew the devil had come. ’

You close the book.  For only a few pages it had taken the rest of the journey to read.  Now your train is sitting in Sydney.  The story unnerved you, alerting the suspicions in your mind of the end of your own journey.  Was that really the end? You think as you grab your bag from the top storage, there is a sudden tremor.  Would something befall you at this moment?

This was a story not meant for the light hearted, named ‘The Book of Tomorrow’, with its lightweight pages and elegant mass produced leather cover.  Or leather like material anyway.  You can’t help but be deceived by its elegance wondering exactly what the discussion around made it so significant.  It was such slim volume and its contents were so particularly mundane, you began to question the authenticity of the reviews that you had read.

But there was a feel of truth in its words that make you anxious.  You’re so close to the end of your journey that you wonder if maybe, just maybe your fears will come true.  You can’t help going round and round in circles, thinking about this possibility, then thinking about the story, before going back to the possibility once more.  It unnerved you.  And yet…

Stepping out of the train, You find that your fears are unfound.   The story, you think, was just a story.  Because waiting on the platform is your family, smiling and laughing, calling your name.  They have been waiting forever for you.  You smile, because it’s the happiest moment of your journey.

Now, you say, if you want the happy ending stop reading here.  Any further and you’ll regret it.  This is a story called ‘Impending doom’, and no story like this would end on such a happy note.  For you say to your family, let’s go home, and you go home without a care or worry in the world.  You smile happily, laugh happily, share jokes happily, smiling with your widest smile.  You are happy.  Nothing can touch your happiness, spoil your moment, take away your joy.  Nothing.  So you think.

But no, even as you walked away the first time, you felt the slightest twitch in the corner of your eye, like something dark and shadowy had been there.  You turn, nothing.  It was only imagination.  What shadow could possibly follow you but your own?

And still you go to sleep without a care or fear.  You dress in your pyjamas or your boxers or your t-shirt, whatever’s comfortable and you lie down next to your love of your life.  You might talk for a bit before you sleep, or you might touch their cheek, kiss their lips, just anticipating the next moment, and not thinking about the past.

You sleep slowly, the faint traces of the days smile on your lips.  But at the last minute, as your eyes drift close, you remember something faint.  The story had a strange narrative.  It was the journey of Little Snow, a character you had never heard of before today.  It was a moral story, and ended the way it did, but there was something unusual about it. While you think about this you don’t see the shadow crawling across the dark.  You don’t see it slipping up the bedside shading your lamplight.  So when you go to switch it on, you think the lamp is broken.

Honey, you say, but your honey is already sleeping.  You sigh and fumble about in the dark until you find the light switch.  When you switch it on, you think for a moment there’s something wrong because it’s still so dark.  So you flick the switch again, but the light goes and you realise the light must have been on all along, so you switch it on again.  This time you see a book dangling in front of your face.  Your arms and legs can’t move because their covered in darkness.  On your neck, there’s a chill, and it whispers in your ear, ‘I’ve come for you!’

Like a Memory. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Six.

Fel and her father followed the Queen as she was hurried back to the palace.  Not once did she let go of her daughter’s hand.  Not once did she show her pain.  She just kept smiling.

Fel remembered that.  She remembered how she cried while her mother had not shed a tear and just kept smiling even though she was racked in pain.  But Fel didn’t realise this until later on, during her time with Dallas.  Before that she only knew guilt.  After she realised strength.  Fel loved her mother, but never had she hated her mother more than in that moment.

This was the moment her father began to change.  Watching, her father from ten years ago approached his wife.  His face was pale and white as he looked at the twisted angles of her body.  He collapsed next to her as young Felicity was gently pried away by her governess.  When she left the room, the King took the Queen’s hand and burst into tears.

‘Lavina…’

‘My love…’ she whispered then she fainted.  The palace healers rushed in at that moment while the King’s secretary pulled him away.  The King didn’t regain his composure, instead he just cried, gushingly on the male secretary’s shoulder saying over and over again, ‘they’ll fix her.  They’ll fix her.’

Fel and her father could only watch this scene from afar.

After some time Fel left her father there, not worried that he would disrupt time and space, and went out into the garden.

In time, this garden had remained the same, blooming with only the most exotic and rare flowers that the Queen could find.  Within the sand ridden kingdom this garden was the only one of its kind to have soil like the forest-like oasis that surrounded Kyrinia.  A high white bricked wall enclosed this space with smaller and lower matching walls cutting through the garden itself.  Orange, reds, yellows and green, purples, pinks and blues littered the white walls and the green lawn creating a little hideaway wonderland.

Fel was not surprised to find her younger self there sitting in the centre, hugging a doll to her chest.  For Fel, her memories were bittersweet and painful.  She preferred not to dwell in them unless necessary.  But though she considered this moment necessary, painful and distant, it still hurt to see her own failing as a daughter.

There she was crying alone but not doing anything to save her mother.  Her father had stayed by her side, but she, Fel, had been carted out.  It was the sensible thing yet, no one saw her guilt.  No one told her, it’s not your fault.  It was always, she’s was a beautiful woman.  Your mother, she was amazing.  Your father is a good man underneath, her mother once said.  He takes care of his kingdom.  So why, mother, Fel asks herself the year she joined Dallas, why is the kingdom dying?

But her mother couldn’t tell her.  Not even the image that Fel had conjured with her magic could tell her why.  It was just as it was.  Fel was on her own.  Fel had to find her own way.

She stopped by the towering sandstone pillar and watched her younger self.  Her mother didn’t die straightway.   It had taken two years for the injuries of this particular day to kill her.  And Fel…

‘What are you doing?’  Fel turned to see a boy walking into the garden.  She didn’t remember this.  Had there been a boy present that many years ago?  Judging from the cut of the boy’s clothes he was noble.  Judging by the gold and silver running through the heavily embroidered silk, Fel saw that he was a rich noble.

Young Felicity lifted her eyes to the boy.  Drenched in tears, she could only squint.  To her this boy must have been insignificant since the next moment she dropped her head and cried once more.  Fel winced at the sight of her younger self so blatantly ignoring the boy, who was probably the son of someone importantly connected to her father.  But she could understand why.

‘Crying is for children Princess, why are you crying?’  He asked.  An unexpected reaction on both Felicity’s part.

‘Mama’s hurt,’ she said at last.

Fel pressed closer to the pillar, but not enough that she was exposed to the sun.  Who was this boy?

‘But she’s just hurt right?  The palace healers will heal her.’

He knelt down not caring that he was sullying his robes.  He was at least thirteen, or maybe fourteen years old.  ‘I wouldn’t waste my time crying.’

‘But-bu-but…’

‘It doesn’t happen to help anyone.  You’re a princess right?’   His daring turn jerked the little girl’s head up.  She stared through her blurry vision at the defiant gaze.  Fel judged by the squinty expression on the young girl’s face that she didn’t who it was, but the expression he wore startled her.

But it wasn’t startling.  If Fel wasn’t wrong, little Felicity couldn’t help but admire him.  She was in awe of this boy.  This boy who couldn’t keep his opinions to himself.

Fel turned away.  It couldn’t be, right?  This boy couldn’t be…

She’d seen that look many times.  Though on the boy it looked cute.  On the face she’d seen it on, it looked arrogant and contemptuous.  But still it was the same.

Did that mean…?

She held her breath, looking away, as the conversation continued.  The boy was trying to cheer her up.  And the girl, young as she was, allowed herself to be cheered up.  Fel heard her sadness and fear fade away even though the boy never even cracked a laugh or smiled.  It seemed, he was eternally frowning.

‘What’s your name?’  The girl asked.

‘I am…Gevrid, ma’am.’

‘Gevrid.’

‘Yes.’

Fel looked again, feeling pale.  She had forgotten this moment.  How had she forgotten?  As she watched them she felt the diamond burn on her chest and realised she had to find her father again.  All the while there was a dull ache at the back of her head and heart.

For this memory, a forgotten paragraph of her past, she would come back for it, not because she was curious but because it was like a friend and those should never be forgotten.

 

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Like a Light. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Five.

When Fel woke, it took her a moment to realise where she was.  It took a little longer for her to remember what she had done let alone open her eyes.  Her chest ached and her nose was itchy with foreign matter.

She turned over.  Stupid fool!  She scolded herself.  The earth beneath her arms felt cold and unfriendly.  The twigs poked into her bare arms and tangled in her hair.  And she was pretty sure her skirt was ruined now.

But she didn’t care, as she stood and surveyed her surroundings, she felt the warmth and love of the sun and its light shining down on her beloved Kyrinia.

Down below where she and her father had landed, she saw the walled city bustling in the midday bustle.  The streets seemed to glitter with gold as the townspeople rushed from left to right over the golden sandstone roads.

This was Kyrinia ten years ago.  Twinkling in the daylight, set in the desert wasteland of Arlord, it was a sand land oasis.  This was the only place where trees from the other worlds grew, flourishing by some unknown power.  They served the kingdom and fed the people.  This was a sacred land.

On her chest the diamond burned and she clutched at it, for a moment, waiting, breathing, letting this past consume her, before letting it go once again.

‘How many years Felicity?’

She turned to face her father.  ‘Ten father.  Two years before mother passed away.’

He stood next to her, his silken robes equally tattered as hers.  ‘I do not want to see this Felicity.’

‘But I do.’

She began walking down the hill.  Her purple silk threads gathered in her hand while she rewrapped the top half.  Her hair which she had never bothered to do, curtained the nape of her neck with natural short curls.  She sighed.

After some time walking her father joined her, a little puffed, but not too shabby.  In the city they exchanged their tattered robes for a cleaner, plainer and more common set of clothes.  Her father winced as he dressed, but Fel just shrugged.  During her short time with her little adopted groups of orphan brother and sisters, she had worn such garments in all kinds of conditions.  But her father didn’t know that, and she was sure when deciding not to tell him.

As they changed though there were gasps in the crowds.  There were whispers passing down the line like a game of secret wish.  Curious she asked the first guy she saw, ‘what’s going on?’

‘It’s the queen.’  He pointed to a slender figure in the centre of the crowd.  Four scarlet figures surrounded her to protect her, but it seemed she refused to let herself be smothered.

‘Queen mother,’ she breathed taking in the strikingly beautiful woman.  She was frail but her smile lit up the world with its sincerity and kindness.  Fel moved closer unwittingly towards the mother she’d lost.  But then she stopped, behind her rose the imposing steps that lead to the palace up the top and beside her was the eight year old Felicity wearing a diamond on her chest.

Fel was captured by this strangely alluring sight.  The Queen was fearless daringly coming out to see her people taking her young daughter too.  Fel remembered this.  She remembered her mother putting the diamond around her neck.

‘Because you are the heir, and what is mine will be yours anyway, wear it for me today,’ Fel whispered.  They were the words her mother had told her once.

A hand touched her shoulder and Fel jumped only to see that it was her father, also captured by the beautiful sight in front of him.

‘Lavinia…’

She touched his hand.  She had been determined to prove to him his wrong, but she had forgotten something as well.  It didn’t matter how truthful she was, down there in the bottom of her heart was the same guilt that she shared with her father.  Together they both were afraid that day.  And somehow Fel had let the magic of the diamond bring her here.

Together they watched as the events unfolded.  Young Felicity never let go of her mother’s hand as they walked through the market.  The guards followed wary.  And the Queen always smiled.  None of them ever expected the horse to come stampeding through the crowd.  In fact, not one of them suspected it to have been a planned event.

The Queen fell first dragging her daughter with her.  Felicity cried out and the guards, though their job was to protect, they couldn’t even do anything as the horse trampled over the Queen and heir presumptive.

Fel looked away, her mother never even screamed once.

The guards attacked the horse, but it grew wilder, continually rearing up and slamming down.  The Queen who was in agony, never let Felicity know how much she was hurting, even though there was blood dripping from her mouth.  And Felicity believed her, staring deeply into her mother’s eyes.  She never looked away once, even though she was so scared.

‘Look at me,’ said the Queen, ‘Look only at me.’

Felicity just looked.  In her head she knew what was happening and knew what the blood was.  But her mother was telling her with a smile that everything was okay.  Her mother was telling her this.  This was her mother.  So everything should be fine.  And Felicity looked at her mother as the guards dragged the horse away, executing it on the spot.  Felicity never looked away once when the women and children screamed and gasped at the execution.  She just kept looking at the smiling face of her mother.

The mother who she loved with all her heart.  The mother who was the light of the dark, shining as brightly as the sun.  But she was a memory.

 

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The Book of Tomorrow or Temptation.

Little Snow walked along the dusty road, holding in her hand the Book of Tomorrow.  There was sweat forming beneath the heavy armour she wore, and she was afraid that it would rust before she reached the end of the well worn cart road.  But there was no helping it.  She must hand over the book to the Chaplain so that he may care for it.

It was heavy.  Though leather bound with an intricate design on its cover of triquetras and ellipses, it had thousands of fine filmy sheets of paper.  It was the size of her torso, and perhaps weighed as much, as it sat in the oilskin pouch that hung on one shoulder.  But then she also carried a heavy broadsword and the cape she insisted on wearing.

The further she walked though, the more tired she became.  And the stronger the hum of the Book of Tomorrow called to her.  She had already succumb to the temptation, and what she had already read seemed harmless enough.  It was just a story, nothing more.

So she stopped, and like she had done before pulled out the book and flipped to the last chapter.

‘The princess walked along the final corridor, at last the burden in her heart would be relieved.  But she staggered.  The weight of some unknown force forced her down.  That death to be imminent…she should have foreseen it.  She was the carrier of the Book of Tomorrow was she not?  And yet, it came, bitterly sweet, crushing her future, taking her past.  All that was left was that moment of the present.

‘But still she trudged onwards, taking her burden to the priest.  The priest would take it, he had said, it was his honour and consensus.  If he could not take that burden then he would have no right to call himself a priest.

‘Yet as the weight turned to stone, squashing her hope just a little more, she pushed the door of the church open, and a shadow loomed above her.  This shadow wore a robe of a priest, but its face was that of a demon.  Startled she drew her sword, but found herself crushed by the burden she had been holding.

‘The demon laughed and asked leeringly, ‘Do you know why it’s called the Book of Tomorrow?’

‘She moaned, but could not stand.  ‘It’s because it’s a book of the future, and no one should ever read it for fear of knowing their death.  Now do you know how it ends?’’

Little Snow looked up from the pages.  There were no more words.  Just blank pages as though the story had ended.  As she wrapped the book up once again, she went to continue her journey.  She had disobeyed the order given to her and had read the sacred pages of the Book of Tomorrow.  But it had called to her, begging her, making her fingers itch.  And she had read every page.  Until the last.  Now, walking, the fear resided in her, building and festering as she reached the end of the road.

No one had seen her read, but that did not mean that it wouldn’t be known.  If the ending of the book was anything to say about it, then she had everything in the world to fear.

She waited at the gate to the holy ground at the end of the road, near the sacred building with its towering spires and gothic architecture.  The gargoyles seemed to laugh at her from their watchdog positions at each corner of the building’s roof.  She waited for the chaplain, with the foreboding sense of the princess’s fear hovering about her.

The evening came and she set up camp, still waiting at the gate.  Though there was a church here and a sacred ground, she did not know when the chaplain would come.  When the Bishop had given her this mission it had been with the command, ‘Take this to the chaplain on the land known as the Holy Land.  Bring it straight to him.  Do not lose it, or read it, just go directly to him and wait for him.’

And she did as she was told, taking the book with her.  She had heard of its sacredness, but she hadn’t ever seen it.  Honoured, she carried her journey on dutifully, acting her part as the warrior Little Snow.  No one had ever given a female such an honourable job before.  In fact it had been unheard of.  And yet, here she was at the end of the journey, without a failure in sight, well, except for the reading of the forbidden book.  But where was the harm in that?  She thought as she chewed on her meat.

Though, she had wondered what had happened to the others before her.  It seemed that many had undertaken the journey to take the book, many male warriors, but yet they all had failed.  And the book had returned to the bishop.  Why, Little Snow didn’t know.

At last, the night turned his head and faded into dawn and Little Snow saw a figure of a man waiting by the doors of the sacred building.  Jumping up, she grabbed the bag with the book and headed to the gate where he ushered her in.  As she stepped past the gate though, she felt a fiery sensation creeping up her legs, like a hot flush of the cheeks that slowly creeps up when embarrassed.

Elsewhere, the bishop sighed, the Book of Tomorrow had reappeared on the podium.

He said, ‘Of course a woman couldn’t face temptation.  I suppose I must give her credit for at least finishing the journey, too bad she’d done so after she finished the book.’

He waddled off in search of another warrior, muttering, ‘What about a child this time?  An obedient one maybe…’

Black Taffeta.

She walked down the empty street, her head swinging from side to side, her legs wobbling left and right.  She teetered on her eight inch heels, the bottle of whiskey swinging in her hands.  She was walking her walk of fame, just like the one she walked down the catwalk.  Deranged laughter escaped her lips, as the darkness seemed to slowly suck her humanity away.

She was icy pale.  Her skirt, black taffeta, fluttered above mid-thigh and her corset shifted from side to side.  Only her coat, edged in fur, hung askew on her neatly dressed person.  Her left shoulder was exposed beneath that black slowly unplaiting hair.  The effort that she had put in pinning her hair up came undone so easily.

She laughed, her laugh slipped so easily from her lips, like liquid gas, combining with the damp cold air around her.

She threw the bottle to the slick wet ground and slumped against the pole.  What had she done to deserve this?  Where was this darkness coming from?

It covered her, suffocated her, took over every inch of her bare skin.

She had been drunk on the catwalk.  Her selfishness too much for her.  She had to succumb, to drown her sorrows in that bottle of vodka.  So much ecstasy, so much alcohol, so much want.  And it all disappeared, everything, all her emotions, all her fears, all sense of thought.  It was all gone.

But that stupid voice remained in her head.  That voice that nagged her now, telling her to think again.  But she’d still walked down that catwalk because she had everything to lose.  Without that walk, that look, that particular charisma, she would be nothing, nothing but what she’d been made to be.

Her arms shook as she pushed off the pole.  Her eyes, unfocussed, blurry as she twisted her head left and right.  She was on some street.  She was some place alone.  It was dark, very dark, and despite her heritage she felt afraid.

Was it possible for the darkness to become even darker?  She stumbled against the pole, the fear so very clear as the chills crept up her arm.  No! Her mind rage as the alcohol faded from her eyes, and her head cleared in the icy coldness.  Her hair stood on end, not just on her arms but up the back of her neck as well.  Her skin felt cold, colder than ice, and her legs, bare and stork-like, though elegant, wouldn’t move beneath that black taffeta.

Reap what you sow!”  The shadows screeched in her ear.

The shadows came, a darkness of her past, from every corner of the dilapidated street.  They crept from the cracks in the asphalt and slithered over the buildings passing over windows, blocking off the moonlight, and ruffled her taffeta skirt.  She shivered and wrapped her shaking hands in her skirt.  From habit the words slipped from her mouth.

Esthmet, esthmet…” Go away, Go away, “Tavisham, Tavisham.” Find home, find home.  “Esthmet, esthmet, tavisham, tavisham.

Since she was a child, the elders had trained her to be the shadow returner.  She had many names, among which some of her more famously known, the grim reaper and the angel of death belonged.  But in all essence, she had the power over the shadows, one part of her job, the lost souls must be returned to that space in between so that the mortal world can continue living.  She has trained all her life for this, and yet, she had thrown it away for a mortal life.

The shadows screeched under her mantra, they writhed and shivered until they retreated.  But as they shrunk back they hissed their warning to her.  She was near mortal now, having stayed so long acting as a mortal.  Her power had weakened, but she was still strong.

“Black taffeta?  Charming.”

She spun at the sound of his voice.  Michael stood there leaning against the wall, inseparable from the darkness in his high collared black coat and black slacks.  Wrapped around his wrists were strips of taffeta.

Infuriated, her hands unwillingly clenching into fists, she spun away from him and once again walked down that street.  She should have known.  For someone like her, she couldn’t be lost.  And for that, the elders would do anything to ensure she continued down her rightful path.

“Don’t walk away from me,” he demanded taking her arm and jerking her back.  She stumbled against him, a move that worsened her fate, and made it easier for him.  He held tightly to her arms.  “You belong with us, always, not here with mortals.”

He looked down at her skirt once again.  “You even still wear our mark.”

“It was a part of the costume.”

“Do you really expect me to believe that?”  His finger pushed her chin up.  The icy wind returned, stronger than before, it gusted passed them, ruffling her taffeta and his coat.  “Yet you still respond with the knowledge of the elders, something given to you only for the purpose of using your powers as they should.”

She pulled back with all her might.  Control, that was what they all wanted.  She wanted freedom, but she never said she would disappear forever.  She knew exactly how long she could remain in this mortal world before she began completely mortal.  “I’ll come back, I always will, but I’m still only a girl, only seventeen.  I’m not immortal yet.”

And she walked away.  For a long time, the bonds of her future had bound her where someone like Michael could not.  They held and cut and sliced her into an incomprehensible mess.  But she had continued training, training until her voice was hoarse and the backs of her hands were scarred from the cane used against her when she failed.  But still they remained with her, everything she learnt and she knew, they remained because she was the soul returner, even Michael knew the significance of the black taffeta.  Always, no matter how hard she ran.

Like a Breeze. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Four

“Look at me daughter,” he said.  Gravel and rough, it grated on Fel’s sense of humanity.  At least she could say she was human.

She stood up immediately and glared at her father.  “Don’t think that a pretty dress, a carriage and a pardon to me will make me forgive you.”

Gevrid stiffened beside her.  The King’s frown was magnanimously like a malevolent storm.  His seven councillors chose then to step back from the throne.

The King’s loyal subjects watched from below.  Their presence unwarranted, but still welcomed as witnesses.  It was to them that Fel would reveal the secret of the royal family.

“You took the diamond.  What else am I supposed to do?”

“Not put me in your goddamn statue garden like I’m one of them!  Because you know I’m not.  I’m not like them at all.”

“No?”  The ice on his tongue never ceased to escape Fel’s notice.  She didn’t shiver, but her hand shook.  It shook enough that she tucked it into her skirt.

Angered, Fel dared to take a step closer, closing the distance between the both of them.  Her hand shimmered in the folds of her skirt, the heat came, burning her hand and skirt, as the air stirred a breeze.

The breeze whistled around her and her father, gathering into a minute whirl of wind.  The diamond on her neck burned with truth.  Kyrinia would forgive her for her impudence.  The sky goddess held those of truth in honour, and those dishonest in disfavour.  If Fel was not honest, the diamond would not burn for her.

Her father would think he was honest.  Being the King and the mightiest power of the land, he would assume that he was the one in the right, always.  But he was not.  His land, Kyrinia, and the sky goddess for whom the land had been named after recognised the rot he represented.  Kyrinia was decaying under his rule.

Once Queen Mother had told her that the land was only as alive as its King.  That was when she had been alive and still caring for the young Felicity.  And when the King was good and kind.  That was when he didn’t have his shrine of ice statues.

She died from an unlucky fate.  It seems that she was always meant to die.  Not even the sky goddess could save her.

When she did, the King was no longer the kind of King Fel remembered.  His heart, though at first not evident to the young Fel, grew colder and harder with every passing year.  At first Fel tried to talk to her father, but he always turned her aside.  And she never understood.

So when she turned ten and met Dallas, she submerged herself in a subculture of female warriors and learned a mode of leadership that was so unlike her father’s kind of leadership.

It was brisk and kind and good and strict.  There was discipline and justice.  Fairness and presumption.  Fel fell in love with that kind of leadership and as the King’s only daughter, she was the heiress presumptive.   The only dispute was whether she was capable for such a role.

In the eyes of many, her desertion of her duties, due to her escape with Dallas and her girls, was seen as a betrayal and for a long time there was talk of appointing another heir to the throne.  But that was long before anyone realised just what kind of power the heiress presumptive held.

The King was always powerful, having been blessed by Kyrinia.  But the Queen had also been powerful too, having been a special present from another country.  She had not been blessed by Kyrinia, but she had the power of Kyrinia.  And so Felicity was supposed to be powerful as well.  And in the beginning, she was not.

Fel had been weak to begin with and thus mocked by her peers secretly.  It was mockery that could not be punished though for until Fel could find her magic, she was weaker than them, no matter how regal she pretended to be.  That was why Dallas and her girls were much admired by Fel.

But when her magic came to her, through brute measures that her father inflicted on her, to prove that she was worthy, Fel changed.  Dallas who had come the be a close friend recognised the change, but could not save her.  It was Fel who recognised in time, the twisted nature of her father.  She recognised what he’d become, and what she had become.  And if anything were proof, it would the powerful diamond that hung around her neck.  There was the evidence there in that diamond, that held so much power, there the truth blazed.

Fire, light, blazed forwards from the diamond, encasing father and her in an impenetrable bubble.  Gevrid fell back in astonishment unable to pass through the light.  Dallas and her girls surged forward, but like Gevrid were pushed back by the light.  And the King’s men.  The King’s men were separate and desperate to stand by their King.

As they fell away, the King stood, towering over his petite daughter.  And all that watched, would watch as he stepped close to the Princess, his hand outstretched.  But the moment they would remember would be the next.  They would remember the way her eyes turned back, full of determination, full of hope, and yet sad.  So very sad because she was going to right the future in which she lived, to save her father, and in the end, herself.

“I’m sorry,” she said, though those outside the circle of light could not hear, they saw.  And Gevrid, so full of anxiety, would be seen pushing towards the light, trying once again, and again, to get to the Princess.

But by then, the Princess and the King were gone.

She was like the light, bringing brightness to the world, then dimming for the darkness before returning like day and night, she would always return.

 

 

Like a Storm. ‘The Diamond of Truth’ Part Three.

The diamond hung from a chain on her neck.  She could feel the fire burning around it.  The storm raged around the safe house.  Dallas was sending out messages while Fel let the magic curl around her hands and arms.

Her father was looking for her.  It wasn’t public knowledge, but it was in the rumours.  Everyone knew the Princess had disappeared.  Only recently they’d heard the ridiculous rumour that the King had turned his own daughter into one of his famed ice statues.  But how was that a surprise when she had taken the King’s most precious diamond.  Anyone who dared to his diamond, let alone steal, faced the possibility of being called a traitor.

She brought her hands together and took a deep breath.  The spark of the storm flared intensely in her consciousness.  She stiffened then pulled away.

“Well?”  Dallas looked at the young Princess.  Dallas was a rebel, but she was also the Princess’s most trusted ally.   She knew the Princess was planning to show the Kingdom what her father kept a secret.

The storm battered their walls, but Fel ignored it.  Like she ignored everything else.  She twitched her nose in case, but nothing restrained it.  She was free to pursue her magical ways.  Dallas girls waited for them under the shelter of the extravagant litter, specially prepared for Fel, to her disgust, by her father for her return, for all of them to return to the palace with the diamond.

“Let’s go,” she said pushing the heavy yet rotting wood door.

The rain dissipated as she stepped on the cobble road.  It formed a shield around her, drenching her companions where it did not touch her.

On her chest the diamond glowed.  It felt hot against her skin.  She laughed as the thought of her father’s gift to her burning up as her punishment.  But alas, the heat of the diamond didn’t affect the physical world.  It only affected the metaphysical.  She turned apologetically to look at Dallas and her pretty warrior girls.  They turned heads in their garish and unprecedented clothing both military-like yet fashioned to fit their curves.

Unlike her they wore pants and knee high boots with short, highly tailored jackets.  Some were in red, some in blue, some in green, but all decorated in purple twist frogs.  Their lips were red and their hair tumbled over their shoulders.  And Dallas was their captain.   Fel smirked.  Dallas was a rebel.  But she had once been trained to be a royal guard.

“Let’s get this shit moving!”  She said with as much vigour as she could muster.

Dallas snorted and tossed her thick blonde hair over her shoulder.

“Your enthusiasm Dallas, never ceases to amuse me.  Really, please reconsider my offer to you to guard me personally.  At least then the King won’t look quite too harshly on you as my friend.”

Dallas snorted again, shaking her head.  While Dallas and her small band of warriors were rebels, they were perceived as harmless to the crown.

She hated the carriage.  She hated the super comfy padding within the carriage.  She hated the beautiful gown he sent.

The King, was feared by his people.  Fel was not afraid of him though.  Not because she was his daughter.  But because she was the only person in the Kingdom who could face him down, well, she thought so anyway.  Her last little run in with the ice statue certainly wasn’t going to deter her.  Though it had shaken her to the core.  Even if she wouldn’t admit it.

Felicity reached up to touch the diamond.  It was hot.  It was always hot.  Looking into its centre, she saw something the purest of diamonds shouldn’t show.  She saw the storm.  It whirled about the diamond, spinning faster and faster, its energy pulsing in her hand taking away time.

The carriage slowed when it approached the never ending steps that lead to the palace above.  Dallas opened the door but Fel stepped out without assistance, her skirt bunched up, but when she stepped out, it bellowed around her, spreading its royal blue colours, vibrant in the overcast daylight.

Her father, the King sat on his pedestal at the entrance to the palace.  Behind her the carriage was drawn away, her father lifted his right arm.  Fel scowled.  She didn’t have to be up close to hear the words he spoke.  Because it was the same to what she was about to say.  She didn’t quite want peace, but if she wanted to show the people the truth, she had to.

She thrust her hand to the sky and said the words of Kyrinian prayer to the sky lord.  “Oh lord above us who casts his wrath where those who walk beneath him, release us.  Give us our peace for just one day.”  Showers and spurts of silver sparks burst forth from her arm; above her the same occurred with her father.

And slowly, oh ever so slowly, the diamond burned on her chest and the rain around them stopped pouring down.

There was no magic stronger than those of the royal family.  When the rain at last faded away, Dallas and her girls took formation behind her, though they intended to climb the steps with her, Fel considered telling them no.

But even as she considered the thought, each girl put their hand on her shoulders and in the silence that pursued, pledged their allegiance to her.

Her father’s scowl could be seen from a mile away.  She smirked.   She’d made her father pissed mad once again without even lifting a finger.   Serves him right, she thought.  He should never have frozen her like a common traitor.

To her surprise, Gevrid appeared at her side, offering one hand to her.  “Gevrid,” she said surprised, but nonetheless taking his arm.

“My lady.”  He was unflinchingly calm.

“Did my father free you?”

“No.  I awoke on my own, it seems.”

Fel looked at him.  It wasn’t possible, was it, that her dream had seeped into life and that life had become a part of her dream?

At the top of the stairs, she curtsied low to her father.

But he was like the breeze, sometimes he brought a gale, and sometimes he bought the calmness, but most importantly he brought change.

Like a Fire. ‘The diamond of truth’ Part Two

Felicity lay resting.  Dallas, or Nurse Dallas as Fel liked to tease the female warrior, refused her request to walk.  Fel was stuck.  She could not move from the bed without fear of facing the fierce warrior.  And despite her magic, Fel would not/ could not win a match.  After making a diamond out of Gevrid, Fel had slept for three days.  Magic of that level, especially magic that to so fully transformed a human so that he would still live despite his incarceration would have exceeded Felicity’s ability if it were not for the diamond.

The diamond.  Fel rolled to the bedside table where the diamond sat in a velvet pouch.  She sighed as it rolled onto her palm.  It burned, though no mark remained.  It burned like any tool where its purpose was to enhance the flow of magic.  It had felt like a fire, the magic coursed through her body searing every vein and artery.  The minute her hand with the diamond in its centre had pressed against Gevrid’s forehead, the fire had started.  It had been unlike the magical fire that had melted the ice that had once covered her for several days until her nose became free.  Once her nose was free, Fel had been free to slowly massage her magical muscles.  Slowly the frozen muscles began working again, and by the time Gevrid had the brains enough to tell her to stop, it was already too late.

Gevrid.  Fel sighed as she stared at the glistening forever that was the all powerful diamond in her hand.  As she stared into the heart of the diamond, she saw something she didn’t want to see.

Four weeks ago in the deserted alleyway behind the dinky dunk pub where Fel wandered every so often with her munchkins, little orphans she sponsored in secret, she stumbled across a man in a ripped uniform, half unconscious.  She’d recognised the uniform, and on her command commandeered several scarves from her already clothing-less adoptive family.  With care she’d wrapped them around her face so that he shouldn’t have recognised her.

And he didn’t at first.  With the combined energy of her mini force and herself, she hauled the Captain to their secret hideout.  And despite her common sense, she made absolute sure that the wounds healed cleanly on his chest.

She saw within the diamond the past-her holding her hand above his wounds, the flow of essence shifting between them as she took his pain into her and in return gave him the life boost he needed to live.  The change had been startling.  Fel knew, even then that she had poured more of her life into him than she had meant to.  But life was only healing if it was the life essence that was being exchanged.  If she had given him some of her essence, then she would have killed him instead.

But as it was, he had taken some of her life and unexpectedly draining her more than she should have let such a healing do so.  She collapsed in bed beside the healing Captain and passed out.

When she woke up, it was to a wide awake and fully healed Gevrid.

“Princess.”  Fel’s heart froze then.  The gurgling painful laughter that erupted from him though seemed to speak amusement, which was clearly not what the situation should entail.  Fel was the King’s treasured daughter.  She should be in the palace surrounded by pretty dresses and loyal servants, showered in roses and orchids and all kinds of pretty flowers, not here in the middle of the city’s smelliest suburbs.  But she was, here, that is, where no princess before her would ever think of standing let alone deciding to scour during the daylight.

It was then that she realised she was curled up next to him.  Her scarves had fallen down in her sleep, and she cursed soundly in her head for being so stupid.  But she stayed still anyway.  It wasn’t as though Captain Gevrid, Lord Evernight wasn’t known to her.  He was just, for the moment not the King’s favourite noble.  Not only was he the second son given a title by his uncle, but he was also uncooperative most of the time of the King and his preposterous notions.

Gevrid was known to criticise the King’s attitude towards his only daughter and heir.  It wasn’t unknown that Fel refused to obey her father as she should.  Sure she did well when it came to running her kingdom, but when it came to her father’s restraints she refused to listen.  She was impulsive.  Incredibly impulsive.   And like her father, her magic was just as strong.

Fel pulled out of the memory.  What happened next wasn’t hard to imagine.  Fel let herself trust a man like Gevrid.  She trusted him because he vowed that he would keep her secret.

Even so, for sake of impressions, her little munchkins had brought her more scarves and she once again draped them over her head.

She sighed and put the diamond back on the bedside table.  It would go back home, but not until she proved to her father that the diamond should not be hidden away in the vaults.

She shivered as the sound of raindrops falling on the dilapidated roof sung her to sleep again.  A storm was coming again.  He had betrayed her in the end.  He hadn’t been careful enough.

In her dream she stood in the statue room looking at a decrystallising Gevrid at her feet.  When the crystals fell off him, he stood, stretching his height until he towered over her.

“Oh Fel, you could trust me.”  His hand strayed to her cheek caressing it the way he shouldn’t.  Rain pelted them like the angry god of the sky taking out his revenge.

“I didn’t…know,” she whispered, afraid.  Angry.  Hurt, but mostly, afraid. She reached up to catch his hand, only for him to pull away.  She reached out to grab him again, but he faded faster than she could see.  The storm raged around them, the fire in her soul dimmed, as she realised what she was losing.

As he disappeared beyond the ice, he radiated the fire that matched what disappeared from her.  He burned the aqua from the air.  The vapour engulfed him and she cried out.  He was a part of the storm now, gone with the rain.  She should wonder what would happen to him.

But he was fire and the storm, tempestuous and unpredictable, and not at all like ice and crystal.

 

Like a diamond. ‘The diamond of truth’ Part One.

Felicity couldn’t move.  Her whole body was frozen like ice.  She felt like she was ice.  The king’s pretty little ice statue.  A statue that wasn’t even a statue.  She tried to wriggle her fingers.  Nothing.  She tried to wriggle her toes.  Nothing again.  Frustrated with her immobility, she tried one last time, and wriggled her nose.

It moved, she could move!  Her nose moved, with the freedom the rest of her body lacked.  She was ecstatic.  Her body tingled with pleasure as she wriggled her nose more.  She didn’t care if she looked like she was going crossed-eyed, not when the focal of her sight was the simple pleasure of watching her little nose wriggled.  Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle.  She could totally rap to this. Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle.  Wriggle.  Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, wrrrigggle.  Haha!  No beastly king could best her if her nose wriggled!

“Stop that infernal wriggling!”  Fel squealed within her frozen form.  The sound muffled, reflected the height of the octave in which it sounded.

It was Gevird.  She scowled, again the sound was muffled by her annoying armour.  Stupid armour.  So she resorted to glaring at the menacing captain of the guard.  If it weren’t for her, he wouldn’t be the captain!

There was not a day in which she regretted her rash action.  She should have left him to die on the streets where the horses pooped and the carts trundled without any concern for their surroundings.   She didn’t have to help him off the cobbled ground into her safe house.  But she did.  She didn’t have to give him some food.  But she did.  She didn’t have to do anything because she had her own brothers and sisters to look after.  But she fricking did!

“What do you want?”  She said.  Though the question was muffled.

He cocked his head.  They were in the King’s statue room where he put his punished subjects.  All around Fel were the people she had grown up with, known or admired from afar, maybe even despised from afar.  Each and every one of them had been put here because they had done the King a wrong.  It was a blasted room.  There was no music; you’d think the King would at least treat his prisoners to some privileges.  But no.  The King was no kindly warden when it came to his frozen subjects.  No, the King was cruel and unforgiving.  Anyway, he didn’t think his prisoners would live.  But their eyes, and noses (as she learned), were not covered by the magical prison, so she could still live.  The others could not.  Some were pardoned, but most were frozen for eternity.   It wasn’t that she was immune to the magical ice, but because of who she was.  If Gevird hadn’t betrayed her, then she wouldn’t be here.  But he had.  And she was.

Too bad her presence would be missed soon enough.  She was exceedingly patient for a person where patience was generally considered wanting.  But when the moment was worth it, Fel had all the patience in the world.  And right now.  She wanted Gevrid to know just how patient she could be.

Now that her nose was capable of free movement she knew the rest of her body would slow respond within its shell.

All the while Gevrid stood there.  Why couldn’t he just go away?

As he watched her he slowly lost his sharp demeanour.  All the hard edges which had been there a moment ago and bled together to leave behind a softer solider.  What Fel meant, was a softer, liar of a solider.  But whatever right?  She was stuck and he was not.

Fel could feel the diamond in her boot.  It was too big to unmissed but her little spell certainly drew her captives, and the King’s most trusted me to assume there was nothing in her boot.  It was a shame really, since it was so big, it was obvious.  But Fel had always been more capable than the King and his men put together.

They laughed as the King’s magic washed over her.  But she was the one having the last laugh.  She had stood exactly still.  She didn’t need to run.  She wanted the King’s ice on her.  So far she was his biggest traitor, but so what?  That was all part of the plan.  He’d put her here to die and therefore, forgotten.  But Fel wasn’t going to die, nor was she going to be forgotten.

She could already hear the voices in the diamond.  Dallas and her girls were coming.  As she watched Gevrid watching her she smirked.  Her skin already heating like the fire in a dragon’s breast.  Gevrid was wrong.  He couldn’t stop her.  Not even his last words to her when he took out would save him now.

The water filled her shoes, drenched her skirt and sizzled in the small space between the ice and her.  Like the ice, this fire was no ordinary fire.  It burned with a heart of magic.  Fel had always been more powerful than her father.  Too bad his ego was bigger than his brain.

“Sorry Gevrid,” she said as the ice turned to water pooling around her feet leaving her skin dry.  “But the King is not going to keep me now.”

The shock was evident.  And Fel knew better than to miss the opportunity to run.  But as much as she despised Gevrid for tricking her, she would not let him suffer for something that was not his fault.  Because well, Fel knew, he was just the King’s man.

She called the diamond to her hand, the magic that swirled within familiarly warm.  She cupped the diamond, big for its kind, but small in her fist and pressed it to his forehead, pushing him down.  The energy ripped from her soul, ripping her close to pieces as she called on the magic of the world to transform the stoic guard.

Dallas burst from above her head just as she finished up.  Dallas caught her and drew her away to the litter they’d brought for the getaway.

Neither of the two women looked back at the kneeling soldier, his face expressionless, but handsomely carved.  Amongst the ice statues, he was nearly indistinguishable.

But he was diamond, not ice.

On the Ocean Floor.

The stories of mermaids tell always the same thing.  They dwell in the water, beneath the rippling waves in the deepest part of the ocean, where the temperature is warm, and life unknown can be seen.

They dwell there.

I am half-mermaid.  I grew into my legacy when I was sixteen and I’ve been hiding it for two years.  But how much longer can I hide such a secret?

The beach has always been my home.  The ocean, mere steps away.  My boyfriend always wondered why I swam at night.  And why I swam alone.

But it was my secret.  Not his.  He knew that.  And respected it.  Otherwise we were perfect.

Too perfect a couple some said.

But I didn’t care.   I loved him, and he loved me back.

So why did I stand on the beach with the water caressing my ankles?

I imagined the scaly, slimy feel of my tail sweeping me off my feet throwing me into the water.

I imagined the rippling, scraping, emerging sensation of the scales as they seeped out of my skin, bursting with the shimmering, mother of pearl sheen the scales possessed.

My legacy would come when I called it.  I was the one in control.

“Arianna come back inside.”

I turned to find my mother standing where our house met the beach.  There was fear and cause of fear all over her perfect face.

My mother was a mermaid turned human.  She knew what I was.  She knew I had to swim every night to feel alive.  She used to do it too until I was born.  When I was born, she lost her ability to be a mermaid.

I turned back up the beach, casting the swelling curves of the sea once last look.  She was still my mother; I had to dine with her.

Dinner was quiet.  As usual father was away on business.  Whenever he was gone mother was sombre and quiet.  I knew the story between them.  It was the sweetest romantic kind, which I would envy if I knew where in the world I belonged.

Mother was a mermaid princess.  Father was a wealthy business man.  She saved him from a shipwreck in her mermaid form and brought him back to shore staying with him while he remained unconscious.  She sang to him.  He heard.  She ran away before he could ask her name.  He never saw her either.

Back in her kingdom she begged a witch to give her the means to find her love.  In exchange she lost her voice.  On land mother had legs and yes she caught father’s attention.  Things went swimmingly until the witch showed up, beautiful and undeniably entrancing.  The minute she opened her mouth, father went to her entranced.

Mother was broken hearted and aimed to return to the sea having lost him.  It took the coaxing persuasion and convincing of her closest friends for her to return to land to retrieve her love and voice.

The story ends happily.

But mine?

I don’t know.

Mother says I’m human.  I believe her.  But I think I am also the sea.  I feel the sea in my bones, my blood, my heart.  It is in my ear calling to me, calling to the inner sea in me.  Sometimes I give in and I swim where my human friends cannot.  Sometimes I hold back because I love the life I have.

Does Poseidon, God of the Sea know what he meant when he created his creatures of the sea?  Did he know that someday the creature would wish to be human?  Is that why he created the witch?

I stand on the beach again.  I’ve been doing this so much more lately, ever since the passing of my eighteenth birthday, everyone knows where to find me.

My boyfriend comes and wraps his arms around my waist.  What would he say if he ever knew about my darkest secret?

I rest my hands on his and brush my thumb over the familiarity of his touch.

I would miss him if I went.

“What are you thinking of?”  He asks me as we watch the sea push up, holding for a moment, before sinking down and swelling up again.  It sighed in between and once again the ocean song filled my ears.

“I’m thinking of the ocean.”  His hands tighten in their clasp around my waist as though he is trying to hold on to me.  As though I am already deep beneath the ocean, skimming along the ocean floor.

But I’m not.  I’m still here.

He says nothing.  For once I wonder if my mother mentioned anything.  In all our arguments about my legacy, she made it very clear that for me to go beneath the sea would inevitably be the end of me.

I was only half-mermaid.  I cannot live below the water surface forever.  Just like mother should not live on land forever.  She might have lost her ability to transform, but she will always be a mermaid.  I see the hunger in her eyes when she watches me swim in the ocean in my mermaid form.  I cannot blame her.  I am what she is not anymore.

Shortly after, my boyfriend leaves me promising to see me tomorrow.  His parting touch relunctant.  I knew he wanted to stay, but I wanted him to go for once.  He couldn’t be here.  I needed him to go because what I would do next would break his heart.

I watched his disappearing figure.

When he was gone I walked to the sea once again.  My head turning to the house I was leaving behind.

“Goodbye,” I whisper.  It was a whisper that would haunt my mother’s dreams when she figured out what I’d done.  But this was my legacy.  I had to go.

The familiar sensation rippled over me, gills sprouted below my ears and the scales shimmered down my waist.  I walked further into the water, until my tail was submerged and there was nothing human about my bottom half anymore.  Then I dived.

Faerie.

Faeries existed all around us.  I knew that.  Mum made sure I did.

She said, “stay away from the ring of toadstools that stand alone on the hillside. ”

“Don’t step inside it and count to three, spinning so that your skirts fly.”

“Don’t make a wish.”

“Don’t believe in it.”

“Don’t ever go by yourself.”

That’s what she said.  Those were the rules.  They were always the rules.  Maybe I thought they were bull.  Maybe I believed in them just a tiny bit.  But overall, I wanted to see the ring for myself.

“Oh come on Emma, this is what you wanted.”  I looked to my pretty but senseless friend.  Robyn Puca Lokianna was her name.  Or at least so she said.  I wondered if it was true.  Who had a name like that these days?

“Oh come on Emma,” she said, drawing me to her with her hand.  Her wide pretty grey eyes focussed only on me.  Just beyond the next meadow was the hill that mum warned me about.

“I don’t know Ro.”  My voice quivered unexpectedly.  Hardening myself, shaking away whatever fear it was that was holding me I looked at her.  “Mum said…”

“Pooh!  Screw your mum!  This is the twenty-first century Emma, not the fifteenth.  Like there are such things as faeries!”

Robyn was so convincing. Her argument made some sense, or at least that what my brain was agreeing with as it forced me to nod my head, however jerkily it may have seemed.

“Okay…I guess you’re right.”

“Yay!” She said gleefully jumping up and down clapping her hands.  “You won’t regret it!”

Somehow I doubted that.  The thing with Robyn is that well, she’s perfect.  I mean she’s not the hottest or the most beautiful girl at school, but she is pretty.  I always called it her ‘charm’, her ability to get people to listen to what she had to say.  Because believe me, they always listened.

One time she didn’t do the essay we had three weeks to do.  Later after she spoke to the teacher, she told me that she got an extension.  I believed her.  Even though I never saw her hand it in.

When we were small, a little boy fell of the monkey bars, Robyn was right beside him when he fell.  The teachers asked if anyone saw what happened, but no one did, even though we were right there.  All we knew was that the kid had been sitting cosily on the monkey bars talking to Robyn.  He also happened to be the guy I liked.  So I was jealous enough to imply that I might have seen Robyn do something.

But later when the teachers took Robyn away, she came back flouncing, her skirts flying like she was the happiest person in the world.

She stopped in front of my desk and just looked at me.  I didn’t like the look of sadness and defiance on her face.

“I thought we were friends Emma.”

“We are.”

“Then why?”

“Because you know why!”  I remember whispering harshly.  God I was only eight then.  Even so, I didn’t forget the blossoming amusement on her face.  She laughed then she asked if I could keep a secret as though we hadn’t argued at all.  Since I regretted telling on her I nodded, and she said, “People like listening to what I tell them.  Besides he wasn’t worth it!”

Maybe I looked horrified, maybe I looked like I didn’t know what I was hearing, but I knew something was not quite right.  I knew because the teachers never mentioned the little incident again.  Just like the guy in year nine English three years ago had a scared look on his face every time he saw either Robyn or I.

He’d tried to kiss me when I hadn’t wanted to be kissed.

Robyn had saved me.

It was a shame, I’d liked him too.  But turns out he didn’t like me as much as I thought he did.  He just wanted some action more than anything.  So he forced himself on me.

It was Robyn barrelling through the bedroom door like it wasn’t locked, crying, “touch her again and you’ll wish you never did.”

The thing is, to me, Robyn looked like Robyn when she was angry.  And I was so bloody grateful she’d come barrelling in.  But when I looked at him.  He looked terrified.  I was so sure he pissed his pants because I could smell urine in the room.

He never spoke to me after that.

Robyn pulled me through the meadow, not caring about any earthy potholes or my ankles for a matter.

“Robyn!  Slow down!  What’s your rush?”

“We have to hurry Em!  Being by the faerie ring when it’s not exactly noon will make this a pointless venture.”

“What’s so special about noon?”

“Noon is the faerie midnight.  The toadstools become a portal then.  They sparkle!”  Her eyes gleamed.  I didn’t like that gleam.  It frightened me.

Robyn was frightening sometimes when she was determined.

“There it is!”  I followed her pointing arm.  Yes, there is was, a solitary ring of toadstools.  It circled the hill top.  This ring of tiny red toadstools.

“Let’s stand inside.”

“Robyn!  No!”  I pulled my hand out of her grip at last.  “What about what mum said?  What about noon?”

“Oh come on.”

Robyn was reckless.  Mum was cautious.  And I, well, I was timid.  “But what happens if I forget one of mum’s rules?”

“I’ll make sure you don’t.”  She was already standing in the centre of the circle.  Her skirt billowed about her.

I shivered.  The sun had disappeared for a moment.  If we only stood in it for a moment, it should be okay, right?

“Your mum said never to go by yourself, right?”  She asked.  I nodded.  “Well you’re not alone.  I’m here.  I’ll keep you safe.”

Her smile was dazzling.  There was something about her words that made me believe everything she said.

“Okay then.”  I took her offered hand and stepped into the circle.

“Oh wow.”  Everything about the hilltop changed the moment I stepped in.  The light was brighter, the air was warmer, and the toadstools, the toadstools sparkled.

Horrified I tried to get out, my head was empty but for the fear.

“Robyn!”

But when I turned around, Robyn wasn’t there anymore.  Instead, a shining, inhuman figure stood outside the ring.  “I’m sorry Em.  But you should have listened to your mother.  Even if most of her rules were fiction.  You should have at least listen to the first rule.”

Fate.

In my mind I see things, hear things, think things; things that aren’t real, great or spectacularly life inspiring.  But they’re there.  Telling me, whispering to me, sneaking into my mind.

I stumble to the stairs, cold and metallic, they clang beneath my heavy boots.  My head throbs.  Ba-dum.  Ba-dum.  BA-dum!

I climb with my hands and knees, feeling for the next step to haul myself up.  I’m blinded by the sight that I cannot see.  I’m blinded by what my brain tells me.

The vision has always followed me.  It has always preceded me.  I wondered  had all those who’d died had known whether they were going to do it?

Death follows me.  He shadows me as I walk, as I crawl, as I climb.  He knows my fate. Perhaps he has known it for years.

Destiny finds me too.  But unlike Death, Destiny does not stay.  Destiny comes and goes, straying to my right shoulder while Death waits by my left.  They are patient and unassuming but they wait, reminding me all the time exactly how much of my fate they already know.

I shove the heavy rooftop door open.  It weighs more than the world and the burden on my shoulders.

The night is cold against my skin.  The sound of silence but howls in my ears.  What have I left but than to edge my way slowly over to the top of the summit?

Death hovers by my side as I find my way up the roof.  I look for handholds and footholds.  The tiles were gritty against my calloused hands.

Halfway up I stopped and turned.  Breathing, my breath fogging up the night, the cityscape stretched all around me.  My eyes looked down.  Only a hill as high as the one my house sat on could show me this unbelievable sight.

“Why do you want me to climb the roof?”  I ask to no one in particular.  Death never spoke, but Death could hear.

And like always Death was quiet.  Death and Destiny never interfered.  Death and Destiny stood aside to watch.

I looked at the short bit of roof I still had to climb.  It wasn’t far.  But it wasn’t like I climbed roofs for a living.  I breathed again.  My breath surrounding me like a cloud.

“It is my destiny isn’t it?”  I asked.

The silence from Death was all that surrounded me.

Fate had led me here.  Fate had always been leading me.  Fate took me to school to watch my peers.

The visions didn’t show me my future.  Even though at first, I always thought it was mine.

But I see her now, standing on top of my roof.  My younger sister, thirteen.  It was her in the visions.  Not me.

And now Death walked beside me, Death and Destiny.  Fate followed behind me.  He watched broodingly, because he was Fate and he knew what my sister didn’t.  He knew, as did Death and Destiny what I will find.

I hauled myself over the apex and sat down uncomfortably.

“Rela, don’t.”  I breathed hoarsely looking at the slender girl in front of me.

When I’m ready I stand.  I almost feel Death offer a hand of kindness or was it Fate?  But it was a wisp of darkness that brushed faintly over my elbow, that barely supported me at all.

My house is stranger than most.  It has three stories; the fourth sitting at the very top.  It is an attic with an old-fashioned roof.  The rest is metal and highly resembles a maximum security vault.

It was supposed to be safe.  But like everything else in this world, it wasn’t.  I should have known.

I bet others didn’t have this problem, this supernatural calling of the horrid, horrid angels of Destiny, Death and Fate.

They didn’t have the visions I did or the freak headaches I had within my own house.  It was the house, this house.  Why did I live in this house?  Was it the house?

“Rela please.”

“Do you know, it’s like fate put us here.  That this house, the only house in the suburb should be the one with the faulty security.  How does it feel?”  She sounded manic.  I had to stop her.  Rela was my only flesh and blood left.  Mum was gone.  Dad was gone.  But Rela was here.

I cursed this world of fear and oppression.  I cursed their want of power.  Their ability to make us think the way they wanted us to.

“Rela please!”  I lurched forward grabbing her.  She screamed and jerked back throwing me off balance.

“Rela!”  I screeched, feeling my foot slip off the roof.  Her eyes widened as she recaptured her balance.

“Faith!”  Her eyes were wide with absolute horror as she lurched forward to catch me.

But I was already falling away.  Her hand brushed my arm.  But she was too far to grab it.

I fell for the time it took to live a lifetime.

Ba-dum.  Ba-dum.  BA-dum!

I gasped as the ground embraced me, my arms and legs sprawled out in all angles.  There was no pain.  There never would be.

“FAITH!!”  Rela’s strangled cry would fill the air with sorrow.  She was only thirteen.  And now she had a whole lifetime to live.

Fate touched his lips to mine, Death watched with Destiny as Fate pulled my spirit from my body.  Then he pulled away, his hand never straying from my arm.

Fate had never been happy with the outcome because he had known.  The difference being, of the three angels, their wings surrounding them, encasing them, that Fate spoke to me.

It was but a voice in my mind, but I heard it like a whisper even as I looked up at my distraught sister.  The neighbours were already coming.  In my heart Fate whispered to me.

This was your fate…as it was hers, she will be safe…

He was right as I could see.  Our next door neighbour was already taking Rela safely in her arms and taking her away.

The Reaper.

The gun fell loose in his hand.  It dangled there beside him as he contemplated the city spread before him.  What part of the human brain, or was it the heart, that recognised the true value of the life that swarmed in those cluttered streets; those perfect apartment buildings; the gritty grotto slums?  Which part understood that for one to survive, the other must exist?  Was it the heart or was it the brain?  Which part?   The voice in his head taunted.  Oh that voice.  That voice that had haunted him since his first blooding.  It would never leave him.  Not in this god-forsaken city with its swarms of leeches.  They were the voices in his head.  They who had watched his every act, who had condemned the choices he made.  Didn’t they understand that with every death he dealt, there was a reason for it?

No.  They didn’t.  But it wasn’t them who had driven him to the rooftop with his prized weapon of death in his hand.  It was everything else.

“One, two, three…” he murmured stepping onto the ledge.  The bitter breeze of the deepening night blew his short dark hair in puffs around his head.  His girlfriend would have admired that.  That single image of him on the ledge, with that bitterly black gun dangling from his hand.  She would have liked his legs parted, standing strong, his back ramrod straight.  She would have draped herself off him and dared him to drop her.  And he would stare back with those iridescently cold blue eyes of his and she would pull back.  She wouldn’t show it, but she would be afraid, afraid of him and those cold emotionless eyes… but she would also hunger for him; for the white shirt that billowed about him leaving his chest bare to weather the cold.  For the way his dark denim sat neatly on his hips.  She would hunger for him.  If only it was him she hungered for.

He cocked his head to the side and stared at the atoms that paced the walkways.  He watched the tinier than tiny citizens going about their nightly leisure pursuits.  Each and every one of them knew who made it safe for them.  They knew he watched their every move.  Watched them until they made the wrong move.  And then they would meet the reaper.

They would know what it meant to meet their maker, to meet the reaper, not a person, not breathing or even rotting.  The reaper that sat in his hand.  They would know what it meant then.  When the dark barrel was pointed into their face and they were force to look into the darkness of their death.

He would clean the body up afterwards.  That sacred duty that he reserved only for himself.  He would let no one else touch the bodies he killed.   Not after the reaper had seen to them.  It would deface the work he had done.

The inhumane actions he took it seemed enraged those he protected.  The people believed he did more harm to them than good.  But no, he treated the bodies with the respect any human being deserved.  Because every being, when they’re dead, had no soul, no life anymore, in death, he surmised, they were all the same.  All equal, all bad, all good, all the same.  And thus he cleaned the bodies and prepared them for burial, wrapping white gauze around the body so they may be returned to their families.  Some say he is the kindest of all those who sat around the table.  Some say that he was least monstrous of them all.

But he was no kinder than the others.  He just had the one piece of humanity that the others had cut out of themselves after their first blooding.  They couldn’t handle the voices.

You can’t handle the voices!

“I can!”  He murmured to himself.  The lights dancing in the street below.  Some festival was happening.  He wondered if it was the summer or the winter one.

“One, two, three…” He edged closer to the edge of the ledge and gripped the butt of the gun tighter.

“One, two, three…”

The voices came after his first blooding, but he couldn’t tell it to go away.  He had wanted it to go away.  Every fibre of his body, of his heart, of his mind, of his soul cried out, “Go away!”  But the voices stayed.

The others said, “There is always a ritual.  Give your conscience away, give to a new born child.”

He remember looking at the little girl.  He’d been eighteen at his blooding.  And the girl, the girl had been twelve.  Innocent, with wide eyes, he had known she was the type of child to spend her time studying.  The type of child who was afraid of something, something that she would inevitably hold secret until the day she died.  She was the kind of child such conscience should be given.  But he couldn’t.  Not with those eyes watching him.  Not when they stared at him so widely innocent.

So he sent her away and acquired his girlfriend.  A girl whose heart was as cold as the innocent girl had been innocent.  She had thrived for the attention and he had given it to her.  Bit by bit her nasty presence took away his conscience, reminding him of his place, his chosen future, of the reaper.

Then her body lay on the table him and the voices, those horrible voices, they came back.  With every wipe he smeared on the dead girl, the conscience returned.  She had saved him, and he had not saved her.

The reaper looked so homely now.  Firmly gripped in his hand.  Could he do it?

Of course you can, the voices whispered deviously.

Just pull the trigger.

Pull it!

Pull it!

Pull it!

 

Oblivion was so pleasant.  He thought the reaper was gone, that his hand was empty, but when he opened his eyes, he knew what his hand stroked.  It seemed to whisper to him, One, two three…