Chapter 3: Changes
A day before~
Laywin walked into the library absent-mindedly and started pacing the floor. The large library with a hearth and scores of books was not registered into his mind. His hair was disheveled and a trickle of sweat dropped to the floor. With a sigh, he squatted down near the fire and sighed.
‘You are sad Laywin.’ A voice said. Laywin started and crashed to the floor. The voice seemed to come out of the fire which was crackling merrily. A young woman suddenly appeared by the fire tenderly poking the coals. She had curly orange hair and fine amber eyes.
Laywin recognizing her bowed low cursing under his breath. Why did gods zap into the air like that? Couldn’t they just knock on the doors and politely walk in like the ancient stories?
‘Lady Heartha.’ He said.
‘Sit down Laywin. Sit down.’ She said touching the flames. The flames shrunk rapidly to black. Heartha looked at him shrewdly and said,
’You are sad. Tell me, Laywin, what is the matter?’
Laywin remained silent. It didn’t help that this goddess reminded him of a person he loved. She reminded him of his dead wife, Celia. The way her hair curled. The way her lips slowly parted into a smile. Laywin really needed to visit a doctor. Heartha spoke again,
’I am the goddess of hearth and home. I am always there to give valuable advice. Back in the ancient days, my brother and King, Lord Louronde, the Lord of Immortals granted my wish for remaining a virgin and being the god of Home and Hearth, the two places he loved. You can talk to me.’ She said.
‘It is about Rivola.’ Laywin said hesitatingly.
‘She reminds you too much of your daughter, I see.’ Heartha smiled. ‘But she is your adopted daughter and you are her guardian. You have brought her here for a specific reason. Have you not?’
‘Yes. And I am starting to rethink my idea. She is after so young and delicate. Though I have glimpsed her future and know that this was inevitable, I half wish she had died that rainy day before I reached her.’ He said.
‘You know Laywin; there is a reason that Fate hides its book from all the creatures. If everyone knew what they were going to face, they’d start worrying unnecessarily.’
Heartha stirred the fire and vanished into cinders just as the door opened. Rivola entered. Her hair was a warm shade of his golden flames set in natural curls falling in a high ponytail touching the base of her neck. Her eyes were blue, sharp and shrewd tinted like the sky. She was wearing a casual T-shirt with the printed words, Love to rock! And black denims with knee-length black leather boots.
‘I heard voices in here. Were you talking to someone?’ she asked, her voice edging towards suspicion. He laughed casually and said,
‘No. Trust me Rivola. I was thinking about something.’
’Oh. Um…Uncle Laywin, I saw this new book in the bookstore today. It’s the Epic Tale, Fatelehan. I would love to have it. It is so interesting…’ she said. Laywin interrupted and said,
‘Rivola, pack your bags.’
‘What for Uncle?’
‘You are going to go to the Honeycomb Center. Tomorrow.’ He said expressionlessly walking out of the room leaving her alone and confused.
A day before~
‘I have to be the bearer of bad news kiddo.’ The baker said. The good-natured baker had taken Siva under his care after his mother was imprisoned in the King’s dungeons. Siva learned to work under the baker’s guidance keeping his accounts and had a spotless record.
‘What news sir?’ Siva asked finally looking at the baker.
‘Kiddo, kiddo! I don’t know how you will bear it. I hear that your mother has passed away. She died in the prison pining away for you…’ the baker said as his eyes moistened. Siva’s mind went blank. His brain buzzed like electricity was passing through him. He had a vague feeling that his knees had buckled and the baker had forced him onto a chair. Finally, Siva’s thoughts cleared. He looked grimly at the baker and asked,
‘How did she die?’
‘The sub-jailor who took care of her in the prison said that she died in her sleep. But he thought that she must’ve felt excruciating pain in her limbs. Bessie also heard rumors that she was poisoned by the king personally.’ The baker said thoughtfully.
’Poisoned?’ Siva asked. Something in his voice startled the baker. The baker sat up erectly and said,
‘I really don’t know kiddo. Those were just rumors.’
Siva left the shop. He reached the backyard and sat down hard on the wet grass. The trees around him were fresh green like his own eyes but his eyes took no notice. The birds were gushing forth in beautiful melodies but his ears took no notice. The wonderful smell of the baking bread from the bakery reached his nostrils but his nose took no notice. He had described those dreams in his letters. Inferno’s letter would arrive any moment now.
As he thought so the merchant Finn arrived. He smiled and dropped the letter, ‘Your gift sir.’ He tipped his hat and walked into the bakery. Siva opened the letter and read it thrice,
I am warning you. Do not take any such drastic step. As for the dreams you’ve told me about, I am seriously thinking that your mother has passed away. You better check with the jailors. As for the revenge you’re talking about, you are definitely not stupid. You are too young to do anything. I advise you sincerely that you will stop thinking of such things and will come to the Center. I wish to meet you in person. We can learn a lot at the Center and I promise, when we graduate, I will help you with everything I have to free your country from its king. From its monarchy. I sincerely plead to you not to think about going over to the other side. Please.
He would not cry. He was not a weakling. But Inferno’s advice was not what he had expected. He pulled out his pen and scribbled the words,
I’m sorry. It’s my only choice. I have nothing more to lose. Lana will leave me for the Center and I don’t care much about anything else. Thank you Inferno, this is perhaps my last letter to you. Thank you for being such a good friend. Yours,
He handed the letter to the Merchant and said,
‘This will be your last letter Finn. Send it in as fast as possible.’ The man nodded and hurried away. Siva sat down again thinking.
His mother had been someone he loved and she’d left him to go to Gulshirenis, the Paradise of good souls. Was that dream he had last night just a dream…? He sat there cursing everything around him for being unjust, when long slender fairy-like fingers pressed his shoulder comfortingly.
It was the baker’s fourteen year-old daughter, Lana.
‘Siva,’ she said, ‘I heard about your mother. I am sorry.’ He could see that this girl meant with her whole heart what she said. She sat down beside him. Her dark brown chiton did not suit her but she was still radiant.
Siva sighed. Lana looked up at the sky and turned to him,
‘You know Siva, whatever happens, no matter how many times, if you are faithful to the Creator and His League of gods, your soul will remain at peace.’
‘I don’t want peace.’ Siva said. ‘I want revenge. That king who enjoys his luxuries, does he know anything about hungry nights? Anything about losing a mother?’ His voice was rising but he caught himself and shut his mouth. In this country, Mistar, even trees had ears.
Lana looked at him coldly. Her dark eyes narrowed and she said,
’I’m leaving tomorrow. If you want revenge on our system of monarchy, do something. Nothing will happen if you sit here and sulk. Pray to gods for help and seek some courage. But let me remind you Siva, as I often have, you won’t be able to do anything. This system, no matter how many times you hit at it, it is your shoe that gets torn but you won’t be able to move the rock aside.’ She said, stood up and dusted herself casting him a long challenging gaze before walking in.
‘You’re wrong Lana.’ Siva whispered to himself. ‘So what if my shoe gets torn? I will move the rock aside. I will crush it into pieces. I will get my revenge.’
Back to the present~
Aila was breathing heavily as she grabbed his wrist and pulled him forward. Her short jawline length brown waves were in quite a mess as she got him sit down on a chair.
She had a slim build with square shoulders and shimmering green eyes like her mother’s. She was not wearing those long skirts and dresses like other girls. She was wearing a white T-shirt with the words, I’m so cool! And camouflage pants. She had an ivory complexion with a similar nose like his straight and classic. Nothing else seemed common in them.
‘Why’d you run away?’ she asked.
‘I didn’t run away.’
‘Fine then, why are you avoiding me?’
‘I don’t like you.’ He said coldly. She looked at him in surprise.
‘Why don’t you like me? For heavens’ sake, I am your sister.’ She said.
‘I don’t see it that way.’ Roy protested, ’We did not grow up together.’
‘So what? We’re related by blood and flesh. That wouldn’t make me any less your sister or Mom any less your mother.’
’She is not my mother. She is just my biological parent just like you are my biological sibling. Is that understood?’ Roy said shamelessly. That seemed to strike a nerve. Aila raised her hand in an attempt to slap him. He didn’t flinch. She stopped and lowered her hand slamming the table so hard that it rattled.
‘If that’s the case, fine then.’ She turned around and stormed off.
Roy muttered a curse and pulled out a book from his bag. Why did he have such an egotistical sister? But he still did remember the promise that tied him to his sister and what Haze had said about his name,
You were named Rakhio because it symbolizes the bond and respect you pay for your sister. You Rakhio Inferno Crimsonelve are the only one fit to protect her. I trust you wholeheartedly. Do you promise?
‘I did promise him.’ Roy muttered as his eyes unseeingly searched for his sister among the strangers.
The space behind the ship’s Control room which was the front of the ship was huge and empty. Not a soul was there. Aila slumped against the cabin ad took a long breath of the salty air.
‘Hey…’ a new voice said. She looked up startled as the newcomer walked towards her. He had a charm of grace with him. He seemed to be taller than her by at least one and a half inch and he was drop-dead gorgeous.
His hair was longish and dark brushing his shoulders. His large eyes were Marine. She didn’t have any another word to describe the distracting effect they had changing constantly from blue to green to aquamarine. He wore a full-sleeved buttoned down cotton shirt with jeans and a blue tank top with running shoes. He was holding a glass of orange liquid hopefully orange juice.
‘I was about to sit there.’ He said and then shrugged his shoulders leaning against the cabin wall beside her, ‘but never mind. You look very depressed friend. You want to take a sip?’ he offered her his glass of juice. Aila managed a smile and said,
‘Thanks but I don’t need it. I’m not thirsty.’
‘I can read sadness in your eyes.’ He inched his face closer to hers trying to read her face. She leaned away and said politely,
’I am sad. But I wish the cause to be a secret if you don’t mind.’ Aila said. She smiled as the guy blushed and offered her name, ‘I am Jade Aila Crimsonelve by the way. What’s your name?’
‘I am Kai Laiken.’ The guy said.
‘And I am Roy Crimsonelve. Thank you for keeping an eye on my sister.’ A voice said. Aila spun around to see Roy with a hand leaning against the cabin wall. He smiled as walked over and said,
‘Kai thanks a lot.’
‘Oh, no problem. I guess I should be leaving. Bye.’ Kai said and turned to move away when Roy laid an arm at Kai’s shoulder. A silent exchange seemed to pass between them and Kai smiled,
‘I would gladly be with you if you insist.’
‘I do insist. Come on Aila, we need to have a small discussion.’ Roy said.