14. Two secrets and six vows
The day of the wedding...
She knelt to the ground unable to swallow the air properly that she so desperately needed to calm herself down. As she shifted her cotton dress snagged on the uneven ground of the room as she tumbled awkwardly trying to push down on her buttocks.
She grunted softly as she lay on her side and then knocking at her chest trying to loosen the knot that had somehow tightened there.
‘Thump Thump’ came the resounding sound of wood and she paused in surprise looking down at what should be the soft flesh of her chest sheathed in tulle.
The door opened then as she gasped in short painful breathes not wanting whoever it may be to see her like this. “Shine?” the voice came spotting her on the ground.
It was only Sonny and she began sobbing in relief at the sight of him. “I knew you would be like this” he nipped seeming to blame himself for the sight before him.
He kneeled down beside her and she grabbed desperately onto his arm as if it were the air she needed itself. She was all that mattered to him in the world and so was he for her. Even though their families were known for their overly caring nature, they had but one amoral flaw. Their bloodline.
As pure as they wished it, it felt as dirty as sin to Shine and Sonny and they wanted nothing to do with it, but to do that, they had to first bathe into the mud they had been bred into. Cleansing the start of sin with a last act of sin.
“It’s ok, I’m here” Sonny crooned, taking her head into his lap while rocking her gently. “I’ll always be here for you Shine and I know you’ll always be there for me.”
She nodded drawing a deep shaky breath and pulling herself together as she wiped the stray tear from her cheek now using their clasped hands to right herself.
“Don’t you know its bad luck to see your coupling before getting married?” Shine sniffed jokingly.
Sonny patted down the hairs on her head pleased “so you have been reading tales of the Wonted” he noted.
“A little” she admitted ruefully. She took a slow deep breath feeling more like herself. “Let’s get this over with” she prompted him soberly. She stood up bringing him to stand with her.
“But it’s not time yet” he argued calmly.
“It doesn’t matter, we’ll go early” she maintained purposefully walking to the door.
“They’ll be peeved seeing us go down together” Sonny continued to dissuade her. He never much liked conflict.
“Well, they’ll know exactly how I feel” Shine responded already making her way out the door and down the narrow steps that led to their ceremony of incest. Over the years their family had been the ideal figures of what all Aelfe strived to be.
Perfect, selfless and powerful. They were well known throughout all the realms and the title of Elder had been passed down without a second thought over generations. with it now becoming a birth rite.
Their only flaw was their addiction to that power, always wanting to have control which led them to cut off any outside relations and marrying only within the family so that their legacy would always stand true. Teaching this to their offspring as the only means of protecting Aelfe kind, their destiny had already been chosen for them.
“It’s just a couple more hours, let’s just go back--”
“Shh” Shine hushed him crouching now while she watched their parents argue.
“It’s not working” came Shine’s father’s voice from below.
“Do you think that we’ve done all this for nothing then?” came her mother’s as she looked in disbelief at the others in the room.
“Look I know we promised to see this episode through to the end, but we have come to the conclusion based on very definitive evidence that this is no longer the way to go” he concluded encouraging nods of agreement from Sonny’s parents.
“Are you mad?” Shine’s mother asked disbelievingly eyeing each of them. “You want to stop? Near the end of this primordial stage! “, she queried angrily.
Sonny’s father spoke up then a scroll of sorts in his hand “look” he said coming over to where Shine’s mother stood while unrolling the parchment as he paused at the table laden with food.
“I’ve reassessed the contents of our history against the cycle and this is not the way. I think we have been a part of the reason why this phenomenon grows more violent each time it resurfaces each era” he began to reason while Shine’s mother studied the scroll carefully.
“Think about it, the affliction of the realms, creatures of the night, and what’s this I now hear of Venators... whatever is to occur next will be more devastating than the last. To think wonted folk who carry our unpolluted blood in their veins are now able to pass through our realms, as they please would be the worst of it, but there is more.”
“Something darker will be born” Sonny’s mother aided him now in their theory. “This time” she paused as if finding the courage to finish what she was about to say “our children may be the trigger for the stage of strife and dissension.”
Shine’s mother turned on her ripping the scroll from her companion’s hand with vehemence. “I cannot believe you sat willingly and listened to this nonsense about our child Axel!”
“The cycle is a force beyond our control! Don’t you think that if we’re dealing with something as simple as how we raised our children we wouldn’t be in this mess? All this charity and caring is what? Pointless?” she then let her belittled gaze roam over each one of them, her coupling flinching the most and then to the scroll at her feet.
She bent down snatching it off the floor with detest. “This I will burn after our children’s ceremony has been completed and that will be the end of it. If it weren’t for my initiative we wouldn’t have gotten this far. Now sit down and greet our children with admiration as they seal their union” she ordered crushing the scroll in her hands and then stuffing it into the cupboard above our cake.
The others turned to the stairwell as if remembering that the soon to be couplings would be entering any minute now and at that moment they’re eyes widened. The cousins could see that they wanted to know just how much they had heard.
“Come my darlings” Shine’s mother voice rang out, her composure cool as if she hadn’t been angered just moments ago.
The cousins stood up in silence, their hearts racing from being spotted after what they’d heard and without protest, they went to their parent’s side. She gently held on to their shoulders turning them so they could face each other.
They buried themselves in each other’s eyes, hiding from the transgression they were about to commit.
Moments after the ceremony...
They sat in the midst of family members, they were far less than they had imagined but there were enough of them to sour her mood as she smiled unwillingly, accepting thanks and congratulations about their union.
“You two were meant for each other” one aunt came up to them gushing with love in her eye.
“Your little Aelfe will turn out lovely” another assured them. All of them seemed blind to how wrong all this was.
“Excuse me” Shine said departing from the group as she went through the back of their home to get some much needed fresh air.
Mitzen watched from some distance away jealous of the Aelf who had won Shine’s heart. How could she up and marry another after what they’d just been through and from where he stood she didn’t look like and Aelfen happy with it.
She was supposed to be better than this, he thought angrily. As he made his way over to confront her, Sonny stepped out behind her taking her in his embrace in a comforting gesture and as he got closer he could see the thorned vines entwined on Shines left arm and Sonny’s right symbolizing the union of couplings.
He paused remembering his sisters gossiping and soon comprehension dawned on him stopping him in his tracks. By this time Shine had composed herself and Sonny had lovingly brushed the hair from her eyes.
Shine looked over then spotting him as Mitzen gaped at them with incomprehensible eyes that shifted between them hysterically. He backed up once and Shine who was also in shock stepped forward wanting to tell him it wasn’t what he thought, though it was so.
She had intended to try and explain things to him at some point without figuring out how, but she had intended to.
Mitzen turned quickly now his intention to inform his family and nature knows who else about what he had just seen. Shine began to panic everything was falling apart too soon.
“I have a feeling that this will not be good,” Sonny said foreboding the peril Shine felt.
“Let’s run away... now” Shine suggested grabbing on to Sonny’s arms.
“Now? We can’t, what about our family?” Sonny asked hesitantly.
Shine thought for a moment before replying. “Let’s leave them” Sonny did not appear comfortable with this decision. “You heard my mother” she continued trying to persuade him “she doesn’t intend to stop and you know that the only way this stops is if they die.”
“Still... we can’t just leave them hoping they will die” Sonny protested stubbornly.
“We promised! We promised we would end this, do you really think that we could do that while they’re still breathing? They’ve tainted our bloodline term after term, you heard them Sonny” her voice had risen to a squeak in her panicked rant. She took a breath.
“They do not see that this isn’t right, but we do. The cycle we can stop it if we end this. I’m sure of it. Mother will never see it but the others probably would... but... it’s too late to try and convince them now. Wonted folks have been burned for incest what do you think will happen to us if we stay here?” she finished, beseeching him to run away from all this with her.
She held up their bloodied hands gesturing to the thorned vines winding around their wrists and fixed into their flesh. He looked at their intertwined hands battling with the decision of their fate.
Suddenly a strained groan rang out from their side and a large rock connected with the side of Shine’s face. She let out a short scream of pain shielding her face from further harm.
“You dirty cunt!” Elanora’s voice raved piercing the already dour atmosphere surrounding them. “You said you didn’t know and here you both are couplings” her voice dwindled from anger to hurt as she spoke.
“You broke my brother’s heart! I could have accepted you coupling with anyone else but this!” she spat “How could you, he would have done anything for you!” she accused.
“Elanora you don’t understand” Sonny began trying to explain as she fixed her crazed gaze on him. “This wasn’t something that we had planned.”
“Shut up! fool!” she screamed like a child having a tantrum “you were supposed to be mine!” Soon enough the attention of neighbors and passersby were drawn to the commotion.
“What’s going on here?” an Aelf asked fretfully as they regarded the Aelfe group in question.
Elanora wasted no time in explaining. And Shine looked up to see Mitzen’s face among the growing crowd of Aelfe.
“The cousins have been wed today” Elanora informed them, “you’ve all heard the rumors of what runs in their lewd blood, it turned out to be true” she spat.
They had no idea there were rumors about their family and even worse, that the matter would be despised so. Shine wiped away the blood burning her eye as it ran down the side of her face.
“Leave them alone!” Shine’s mother snarled defensively at the crowd.
“Is this true Eda?” The inquisitive Aelf asked a look of disgust starting to line his face.
Shine’s mother turned to face him now “yes it is true!” she answered his question brazenly “and it is our family that have preserved the lives of ungrateful brats such as this rude Aelfen. How dare you try to disfigure the face of my daughter, I am the Elder of this realm and if it weren’t for her affection towards your ill brother and yourself I would consider banishing you for what you’ve just done.”
Elanora glared at her unaffected by her words “That doesn’t change what they’ve done, what you all did!” she shouted addressing the remainder of our family who was also drawn outside by the commotion.
“You’ve always been jealous of my daughter, I have no idea why she would willingly decide to keep uncultured fools such as yourself as a friend. Leave at once before I change my mind about your sentence” Eda threatened darkly.
Elanora stood her ground never letting her gaze waver from Eda’s. “If this is true” someone spoke sounding horrified,” you must undo this, this is wrong, we aren’t animals.”
“Leave all of you! I’ll have to tend to my daughter’s wounds” Eda commanded. Soon another rock flew out of nowhere bouncing off of Eda’s shoulder.
“How dare you!” Eda scolded them enraged. Another rock flew from her right and then another and soon our family ran for shelter inside their home while the couplings parents stood their ground wanting to execute their authority with Nese.
Those surrounding them with abilities stood unsure of how to proceed while those without used rocks to reject the Elders ways. Sonny shielded Shines body with his own too frightened to try and do anything else.
Shine felt something she held down for a long time bubbling within her. It was not unfamiliar but it was not well-known either. Hate. How could they do this to her she wondered, after everything her family had done for them.
Even though she had somehow sensed, but ignored how they would betray her she still befriended them in the hopes that they would come to understand why they did what they did and accept them. Instead, they didn’t even give them a chance to explain.
Something was burning Shine noticed sniffing the air. “What have you done!” Shine’s mother voice rang out defeatedly and she peeked from under Sonny’s protection to see their house burning, their family burning and she felt fear and relief in that one moment.
“The parchment” Shine gasped remembering the argument their parents had had earlier. Is this it? she wondered, Is this the cycle they had been fearing? Sonny’s knees buckled and with his weight so did hers. She shielded his head with her hands, her fingers burning from bruises.
No this was their fault, they caused this she surmised laying the blame on those who harmed them. Seeing that they were still alive, as strongly as the Nematons disapproved of their morals they didn’t lift a finger in harming them but still they watched, they were all equally to blame.
“Sonny”, Shine spoke grimacing as something connected with her elbow. “The scroll, we must save it.” He nodded weakly and she wasn’t sure if he had just agreed with her because of the pain he was obviously in or if he genuinely believed that it was worth saving.
Either way, they needed to move and quickly. She heaved bringing them both to their feet and headed towards the house it’s whole top half already in flames. She stopped then turning to him as they reached the door. “Sonny run” she instructed.
“But what about you,” he asked sounding disoriented. I glanced briefly over his shoulder watching the chaos ensue between the Aelfe and our parents.
“Please Sonny, I can handle myself, run while they are still held at bay. We have this” she said gesturing to the thorned vines digging into their skin “I’ll find you I promise” she reassured him.
“Now go!” she urged him pushing him away while she ran into the house as most of their family lay cowering in the burning house some passed out from inhaling too much smoke.
She wasted no time finding the cabinet and retrieving the crumpled scroll tucking it safely into the tight curve at her waist beneath her dress. Shine turned heading for the door when she felt a hand clamp down on her ankle.
“What do we do?” one of the aunt’s that had addressed her earlier questioned, seeming delirious. She kicked her hand away bolting through the door.
By the time she had reached outside her eyes burned so much that she couldn’t see where she was going, tripping over what she was sure was either a dead or unconscious body.
She pulled herself away frightened trying to clear the soot from her eyes and as soon as her vision had cleared enough the unmistakable face of her mother was disfigured and covered with blood staring straight at her.
“Oh!” she retched, her stomach felt as if it had been turned inside out from the sight. “How would you like to look just like your mother” Elanora suggested a crazed look in her eye as she made her way toward Shine rocks in hand.
“Stop this! You know this is wrong” Shine pleaded with her, backing away and trying to find her footing.
“Like how you knew deceiving me was wrong and marrying your cousin” she snapped
“We are friends” Shine reminded her earnestly
Elanora paused to grace her with a cynical smile,“No, we were friends. Before you lied” she began as if she were about to list all of shines crimes on one hand, “Oh never mind, just know that I hate you now” she concluded continuing in her advance to where I lay.
Shine then seeing no other way, willed her Nese of flora to save her and it trapped Elanora long enough for her to right herself and take off running towards the abandoned forest, the refuge of exiled Aelfe.
“I will find you, dirty whore!” Elanora’s voice bellowed out behind her, screaming filth after filth since she was unable to attack her at the moment with anything else.
Hours after the mayhem...
“Sonny stay with me” Shine pleaded trying to stop the leakage of blood now flowing from her cousin’s nape. He moaned in response to her demands.
“Please, please” she sobbed not wanting to panic, she had to be strong for both of them now, they had to survive this no matter what.
“Talk to me, talk to me about how we’ll get through this and how we’ll make things right” she suggested. He had always been the one to console her when vulnerable, she was unfamiliar with the reversal of roles now but still, she tried.
“Ok...” she hiccuped “let’s make a vow, ones we’ll never break. We’re already married isn’t that what the wonted do?” she blabbed trying to keep her voice steady as she watched him try to keep his eyes open.
“Sonny? You want me to start?” she continued. “Ok fine, let’s vow to never leave each other’s side because if you did” her voice broke as she imagined being alone without him. She had already lost so much and although they were amoral they had still been her family.
“If you did, they’d be no one to read me those stupid poems you love so much, we are far greater than the wonted I’ll never understand your fascination with them, but I’ll promise to try...I ... I vow to make things right... we can do that.”
“The taboo ends here, no one will never know. I’ll ensure it.” As she spoke something rose within her now seeming to strengthen her.
“We will become the Elders as our parents wanted, in time. We’ll find a way to get rid of any Aelfe who knows our secret and burn them alive or maybe worse...” the weight of Sonny’s head numbed her hands as she spoke as if bewitched by the anger taking over her mind and body.
“We’ll never forgive those retched handicaps, they are nothing, they are less. Not you though” She assured Sonny now rocking with him as she spoke.
“You are far greater, better than they ever were and we will make them feel how inferior they are and make them pay, for as long as we live for what they did to us. Kindness is not the way as our family thought, they only understand cruelty and hate so we will give them what they desire.”
“Two secrets and six vows” Sonny moaned weakly in an effort to show that he was listening. She looked down at him shocked and then overcome with joy.
“Yes,” she breathed happily. “Is there anything you wanted to add?” Shine asked considerately.
“No, it’s perfect” he replied tiredly.
____ 4 more chapters to go guys. How’s it going so far?
Another chapter will be published tomorrow and then the final 3 on Thursday.
This is only the beginning