13. The innards of man
Without a moment’s hesitation, Del and I hurried back to the community -his community or was it not? I wasn’t sure if he was bound by loyalty to the Elders or to the outcasts of the of the Pit... or maybe it was both. He moved at a steady pace deep in thought and I was glad since it was hard enough making our way back through the darkness.
I mentally thanked Tim for the brew, he was right it still hadn’t worn off so I was unable to feel much of the usual biting cold and the sharpness of stray branches that brushed roughly against my skin. I was also deep in thought.
Shades words rang in my memory ‘it bears your face’ I couldn’t even begin to fathom what that meant, I didn’t want to. The more I knew of my parents the worst my hate towards the Elders grew. There were far more people living in the Pit than where the Elders resided, and I couldn’t begin to comprehend the why or how behind where their groundless beliefs had all started.
The only questions I had left could be answered by one person only, Erdos. I couldn’t imagine what could possess a man to be so full of hate. A man I haven’t even met yet but was already terrified of.
" ... your step” Del’s voice droned in scattering my thoughts.
“What?” I asked him wondering what he wanted to blame me for now.
“I said watch your step, we’re passing through the dark paradise” he repeated and then silence.
I wished there was someone I could ask what to do about this but then realized that everyone would be looking to me for answers. I was to be the solution to this realm of chaos and now I wondered what the Seilies before me were like.
I then remembered what my aunt Mae had told me “what do you know about the cycle?” I asked Del.
“The cycle of what?” He asked sounding not too interested.
“I don’t know I was hoping you could tell me,” I answered feeling frustrated.
“Well, you’re out of luck” he answered simply. I wish I hadn’t spoken because he only made me feel worse than I already did.
He sighed then said, “Why don’t you ask the Elders, they’re supposed to know everything.”
“I don’t think they’d talk to me after the way I left things. Also, I don’t think they’d tell me” I answered honestly.
“Well we talked to you, and the only thing you can do is try. Would you rather not ask them and sit wondering what you could do?” he replied.
My mind lingered on how he had unmindfully included himself with talking to me. “Maybe, I can’t face them after what they did--”
“Even more reason for you to face them” he interrupted. “Look around you Olivia, the Elders have wronged us all some way or the other and yet here we are. The only difference is that you have a choice to leave freely and we don’t.”
I had never thought of things that way. Yes, I had thought of leaving but I had never imagined it being a privilege for others to envy. This was their home and their people, how could they want to leave. But then I remembered that I too wanted to leave my life behind and get away from all the pains of reality.
Here I was now in a new one, just as painful as the last and exactly what I wanted. “I never said I wanted to leave” I lied knowingly. He scoffed in disbelief.
“Sure, you want to be a part of this mess, carry this burden you learned is your destiny what about a week ago” he mocked. “Hell knows I wouldn’t” he added.
I hadn’t expected this from him and looked over trying to find his face in the barely visible moonlight. All I saw was the chiseled silhouette of his face and the robust stride of his body. “You’re right, I don’t want this. I wished I hadn’t wished for something new at all.”
“Well you’ll know for next time,” he said not too harshly. As unkind as he was I appreciated the honesty and that I could also be honest.
“So Ignis is your cousin huh?” he began after a brief moment of silence.
“How did you--?”
“Once I heard who your parents were... it all came together” he explained quickly. “My father knew your father and of course he had mentioned your mother maybe once and her sister.”
I nodded even though he wouldn’t be able to see me. I wanted to ask what he knew of my parents also but didn’t want to push breaking our sudden unspoken truce.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how they knew each other?” he spoke reading my mind.
“They were friends and comrades” he started without my answer. “Even though Nyx was the son of the Elders he didn’t believe in what they were doing and many times tried to unite the two groups, Nematons and lesser Aelfe alike. He tried talking to his parents at first of course. but then they figured they had to do things the hard way. At least that’s what he told me” he finished.
“So he decided to stay and fight” I whispered proudly more to myself than him.
“Yup. I still don’t get why your mom and aunt ran away. They were a part of everything your father and mine believed in.” For once his words didn’t make me feel angry.
“They didn’t run away” I answered him calmly. “They were forced to leave. Well, my mom was, her my aunt just wanted to protect her.” I knew he would have wanted to know how and I told him the details of that story, just like my aunt had told me.
“I never thought I would be saying this but... I kinda get Ignis” he admitted honestly.
“Yea me too. She hates her mother I think.” I revealed. I tried not to notice how easy it was to talk to him when he wasn’t being a complete ass but couldn’t stop myself.
“I find that hard to believe” he commented.
And for a moment I thought about why he would say this and agreed “you’re probably right” I then remember how Ignis was that day when she defended aunt Mae, not knowing why her mother hadn’t come back for her after all those years.
We emerged from the dark paradise and a part of me longed for its dark quiet quality. Hiding all of its imperfections behind beautiful but poisonous elements.
“So what now?” he asked returning to his former curt tone. “The only way out of here is to speak to the Elders or you can open the checkpoint portals yourself.”
I shook my head determinedly. “I’ll talk to the Elders. I need to try and do what my parents couldn’t at least. What kind of daughter would I be.”
I stood at the base of the stairs leading to the Elders home hoping I would be able to keep my cool long enough to have a normal conversation with them. By the time I had gotten halfway there I wished I had gone back with Del to tell the others of what we had learned in the Pit, but of course, that wasn’t necessary.
This was something that I needed to do. Something only I alone could do. I stood facing the nonreflective surface of their home. I ran my hand over the mirror surface as I once did before but nothing happened. It stayed in place, cold and unmoving. I pushed harder at its surface confused by what the issue may be.
“What do you want?” Shine grunted coldly from the other side.
I swallowed nervously forcing myself to be brave. “I need to talk to you” I answered calmly.
“There is nothing more to talk about really, we will be slaughtered and you will have failed our kind. Is there anything else?” she replied her tone brusque.
I took a deep breath hoping my words wouldn’t come out as annoyed as I was beginning to feel “It’s important and I’m sure as an Elder it’s your duty to hear what I have to say.” Still, she remained quiet so I continued. “If I wanted everyone dead I wouldn’t be here” I added.
“You could just be here to watch... but come in” she agreed finally.
I tried once again pushing against the mirror-like surface and this time it melted away easily and I welcomed its warmth stepping through fully.
As I entered their familiar abode it was as like the first day I met them, but with less wonder and lots of bitterness floating in the atmosphere. On the bench sat Sonny his gaze always filled with animosity once it graced me and beside him Shine, her face no longer pleasant.
Instead, she watched me with indifferent eyes and I could feel how unwelcomed I was her distaste radiating from her rigid posture. These people were my family, I lamented.
“What could you possibly have to say that you need be here at this hour?” she asked bluntly.
I took a seat, my legs tired from my earlier walk. “I visited the Pit,” I said bracing for their displeased reactions.
They regarded me blandly before responding “And?” Shine asked unconcerned and for a moment I was thrown off by their response, but then remembered that I had already seen the truth behind her concern for me and that was to control me with lies.
“And why have you divided your kind?” I asked genuinely wanting a response “why care whether some Aelfe can use Nese or not? it’s not like their a threat anyway. How can you be so cruel to your own people? Especially while they are being slaughtered by your common enemy.”
At my words Shines face twisted into one of outrage, and if Sonny’s glare could have gotten any darker I was sure that he would end up bursting into flames. “Stupid, useless girl!” Sonny spat vehemently starling me as he stood up abruptly.
His voice was the deepest I had ever heard it and for a moment I thought he would reach out to slap me across the face. I leaned away from them tensed by his shocking reaction. “You know nothing and yet you speak so carelessly!”
“Those insects got what they deserved, do you think Elvaraz is run on chaos. If they cannot abide by our laws all that is left is for them to do is to leave, yet they stay here and sully everything we’ve worked tirelessly to build, with their useless potions and barbaric traditions. If they had wanted unity they could have had it instead they decide to stray from the principles they have forced on each other like the inferior beings they are.”
I watched him warily as his shoulders heaved, his breathing unsteady and for a moment I imagined him foaming at the mouth. “Dear, please we promised not to speak of this” Shine cautioned standing to take his hand in a soothing gesture.
At her touch, his trembling fists steadied and soon enough he regressed into his normal state, bitter and seething in silence while he glowered at me with contempt.
Regardless of Sonny’s outrage I still wanted to know and though it seemed unwise to press the matter I asked anyway, I couldn’t help myself.
“If you could just make me understand, maybe I could see things from your view, but you tell me nothing. Even if the Aelfe of the Pit may have deserved being exiled for years the fact is they stayed which means they must still care about this realm. Look at the situation we’re facing. Wouldn’t it be better to stand together ?” I pleaded with determination.
“We?” Shine chortled mockingly. “You would never understand, no one will ever understand and that is why there is no point in sharing such knowledge. The duty of saving us is yours and yours alone, neither we or the Aelfe of the Pit have nothing to do with it and whether or not we perish in this oncoming madness their sentence will remain the same” She voiced frankly.
I sighed in frustrating not knowing how to break through their hardened exteriors. “Then what about the cycle?” I tried. This bit of information seemed to catch them both off guard and even Sonny’s face seemed to twitch with surprise.
“Where did you hear that?” she asked her voice on edge.
“My aunt” I began simply “it is something that has affected your... our kind since the beginning of Aelfe history. A series of events that will end up affecting more than just Aelfe kind. They had been documented but they were all destroyed.” The look on their faces told me they knew exactly what I spoke of.
Shine narrowed her eyes stubbornly at me. “The cycle is nothing but a myth, and if there was such a thing we would have already handled it.”
I pursed my lips giving her my most withering look “Enough with the lies already! I know you know what it means, what it is and possibly why it happens. I just can’t understand why you would be against letting it be known or try to stop it.”
“There is no such thing as the cycle!” Shine shouted, “And even if there was there would be no point in trying to stop it seeing that would mean it’s desired outcome would be predestined for success and there is no use saving us all” she explained.
For a moment I blinked dumbstruck, they could be right and even though I found it hard to believe that my aunt may have been wrong, they could be right.
The origin of Shine and Sonny...
The Innards of Man
Why doesn’t the darkness of demons not dwell inside an angels soul?
and light of angels not exist, in that of a demon?
It is because they are already true to who they are and
they cannot exhibit what is not rooted within.
For if an angel displays devilish ways it was already a demon and
If a demon knew kindness it had never been evil at all... and so,
mortals were created, hiding their true selves behind masks,
which would only shed with their imminent fall.
“I cannot understand your fascination with those stupid books when we have more important matters to worry about,” she said coming to pout on the bench next to him. The air was as fresh as usual, the sun shining warmly on their round faces but in contrast, Shine was in a sour mood.
“It would be stupid of us to worry. The date has already been set and neither of us wishes to live out the rest of our days abandoned by our family. I suggest you indulge in the beautiful artistry of wonted folk as I have, their words are so dark yet captivating. You’ll forget about our marriage in no time” he replied nonchalantly turning the page.
Shine stood up frustrated having not been appeased by his words. “Well my coupling to be I cannot simply waste time with words and get over it” she huffed trying to get his attention.
When he didn’t respond she continued “Fine Sonny! Consume your stupid book I will not be attending the ceremony” she turned beginning to storm off and moments later he had held on to her knowing exactly how she felt but pretended otherwise.
“Shine this isn’t something we can change even though we both want to. We have both agreed that seeing this through is the only way to end this unprincipled communion of our bloodline. And I am sure, if this was as immoral as you believe, it wouldn’t have gone on for so long. Our whole family has been through it and not once have I seen another Aelfe give us the evil eye” he said trying to placate her.
Their family had indulged in what they had learned through other realms was a deplorable act and even before then something existed within them convincing them that this was wrong. He then spotted several of Shine’s companions and unconsciously unwound their hands.
“Thanks for the elixir Mitzen is all better now” one called out to her waving as they came over.
Shine waved back smiling while leaning over to converse quickly before they arrived. “What do you think they are up to? Wasting our time like this accommodating others at every turn?” she then gasped looking at him. “Do you think they wish to make our marriage public ?” she asked mortified.
“I’m sure it’s something else, why don’t you ask them if your that curious” Sonny suggested. “It is actually quite nice being generous to other Aelfe every now and then. Look where it’s gotten us. Next in line to become Elders.”
Shine rolled her eyes at this. “Oh, how eager I am to spend the rest of my days spying on Aelfe through a tree” she criticized.
Her friends had now caught up to where we stood. “Sonny,” she said acknowledging him before pulling Shine a little way off to gossip he assumed.
“I heard that you have a coupling” the girl whispered excitedly as her companions also looked at her in envy. Shine blanched as a sudden panic began to bubble in her chest.
“Maybe... it’s not certain yet” Shine stuttered not knowing how to lie. She feared that whoever they might have heard the news from would be a reliable source.
“So it is true!” the Aelfen marveled. “Who is he? Please don’t say Ruben” she said rolling her eyes distastefully.
“I... I’m not supposed to say” Shine stuttered unable to think clearly.
“Oh please but fine. Has your cousin already found a coupling too?” she asked her heart on her sleeve while she eyed Sonny shyly.
“I’m not sure I’ll ask him” she coughed out, not sure how much more of this she could take. She ambled over to where her cousin stood wanting nothing more than to run away but knew she couldn’t.
“Apparently they have heard I’ve found my coupling and been wondering if you’d found yours too” she informed him enforcing a calmness she didn’t feel.