Dark Paradise- Book 1

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15. We are our parents

“So how did it go?” Kelu hounded me as soon as I stepped into their home. I was beat-- and in no mood for questions, but given the fact that I had no way out of the realm and this was my only shelter I thought it best to oblige her.

“Terrible” I answered simply. She came over blocking my entrance and for a moment I worried that she would refuse my entry.

“Details” she demanded making no effort to move.

I groaned loudly wanting to settle on the ground and cry. The effects of Tims brew seemed to be wearing off and every area on my body awoke to a dull ache.

Alen came up behind her then “Kelu why don’t we give her a seat first, then we grill her” he suggested no better than the Aelfen standing before me.

Kelu huffed then gestured that I enter.

I walked in to see Del and Voy also waiting in the room, Del looking as tired as I felt. “I don’t think you understand how serious this is for us” Kelu argued seriously taking a seat where I was.

“I do, believe me, but Del took me to the Pit and now I am just soooo tired, please let me rest,” I begged my body feeling heavy.

Del’s body perked up at this while Kelu and the others fixed him with a disapproving glare.

“You didn’t mention the Pit” Kelu accused him sharply. Del looked at me then with narrowed eyes, I looked away.

“Are you as dumb as you look” Kelu continued with her scolding “what if something had happened to her?”

Del scoffed now as he sat facing his sisters’ glare “Right” he drawled “You should have seen her she even tried out Tims brew and survived on her first attempt.”

They now looked over at me seeming impressed. It didn’t last though as Kelu’s surprise melted from her face and she returned her attention to me.

“We’ll talk about that later, now tell us about our imminent doom, you dream of what Erdos is planning to use against us” she stated and I sighed heavily wishing that somehow Ignis was somewhere out there wishing for my return.

I gave in seeing no other way to get rid of her. “I see these things sometimes but it’s the same thing over and over and Shade said it’s coming” I tried to explain my memory rolling in slowly.

“What’s coming, Olivia?... What did you see?” Kelu asked eagerly her face directly over my upturned one as I rested my head on the back of the bench.

“Darkness I think. Just a lot of people dying” I answered not wanting to go into further details on the topic.

“Did we die?” she asked then.

This sobered me up a bit and I wondered if it made sense to lie. “Yes,” I replied deciding to go with the truth.

She recoiled as if I had slapped her in the face and I watched her process this information the briefest hint of panic on her face and then her expression resumed its aloof features.

There was silence at last and I nodded off wearily not caring about tomorrow just knowing that I wanted to...

I lay still on the cot listening to the sometimes incoherent and other time’s clear argument between Del and his sister. For no reason, I tried to piece the conversation together even though it didn’t hold much of an interest for me.

Most of what I had caught was about their mother and father and I think they were now debating on which parent’s principle to follow. I thought it strange that this pair found it necessary argue about such things at a time like this and even more strange that the parents themselves had not shared united views on matters concerning their children and now... this.

“Maybe she should leave... better to have both problems out and remain here forever problem solved” Del argued.

“Or what if we tell her to leave and she becomes whatever power he has to kill us all” Kelu threw back.

“Then let her stay problem solved and know it will be your decision that killed us all. Eliminate all possible threats so there are none, see how simple that is?” I assumed that this was something Del learned from his late father.

“Nala would be so disappointed with your foolish thinking” Kelu replied belittling his kill two birds with one stone plan. Whenever she mentioned the name ‘Nala’ it was in a passionate way and this was where I drew my assumption that this person she referred to must be her mother and naturally she followed the perspectives of this parent.

“When we dout our light it will only leave the darkness and that is where our lives end and it will be your fault! I only wished Cian was here to see it” she continued sounding genuinely disappointed in her brother.

“It was mothers gentle thinking that got him killed in the first place,” Del snapped at her angrily confirming the names of their parents “he wanted to be brave and face the Elders head on, instead she suggested he go quietly like a thief into the night rallying Aelfe that had no power or no right, in the sight of the Elders, to come and do what? have a nice quiet conversation with the people who shunned then banished them!”

“Remember what happened sister? He was killed like a thief in the night before he even got that far and I’m sure if he did he would have died by the Elders hands anyway!” I imagined him waving his hands about as I noticed he did when he couldn’t find a deeper way to express his anger.

“What makes you think that they would have listened to him if he had stood up against them with no one to stand behind him?” Kelu asked.

“They didn’t even listen to their own son and as a replacement, I am sure he would have far less effect. This is not important right now, the decision we should be making is either to leave our stay since we cannot agree on what will make our Seilie... Unseilie.” I had heard her mention this word before and I could only assume it meant the opposite of what I was supposed to be, cursed.

I listened keenly now hearing the bits about my father and knowing that they no longer cared whether or not they were being heard. “There is no such thing, it’s just our uncle messing around with someone or something he has no business messing around in,” Del said seeming to lose interest in their argument.

“Really Del, where, in the three realms would any Aelfe have anything to do with Erdos knowing what he’s done and even more so has nothing to offer. He is powerless and now we hear he draws power from something or someone. Our kind may have become selfish but we are not cruel and not enough to do something like this, or is it that you have forgotten what he’s done” they both paused at her comment and I sat up waiting for the rest.

“Nala or Cian?” Kelu asked softly now same as when they had first started arguing. There was another pause and I waited breathlessly to hear his answer even though I knew nothing of what it may mean.

Del let out a defeated sigh as if coming to his decision. There was nothing and I wondered if I had missed it or he simply said things too low for me to hear. After a few more tense beats I was out of the cot and close enough to the door.

“Nala” he replied finally and I slid the door open unashamed of my eavesdropping.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

They both turned to me now as if having expecting my appearance. “What does what mean?” Del asked stupidly and I knew that he was aware of what I meant.

“Nala” I replied plainly.

Kelu looked us over and then walked away.

“It’s... personal, you wouldn’t understand” Del stated.

I scoffed fixing him with a dull gaze “It’s not personal if you decide to shout it from the top of your lungs for the past half hour and now that I ask you really aren’t going to tell me?”

“Well, we weren’t speaking to you regardless of what you heard” he replied defensively.

I shouldn’t have expected less from him I reminded myself then. This was who he was, an Aelf of secrets. “We agreed on Nala” Kelu reminded him calling out from the room she had entered into.

Del’s nostrils flared revealing an inkling of regret towards his earlier decision. He massaged his broad shoulders while looking at me with little enthusiasm. I rolled my eyes not wanting to burden them further.

“It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me.” I could tell that he had not expected this response from me and he straightened knowing he had gone too far.

“Come on, I’m trying you know it’s a habit. Me putting you down” he remarked, his expression almost apologetic. I remained silence taking offense at his words as if that was supposed to make things better.

“Nope, it’s none of my business” I managed cooly shrugging as I walked past him to get some fresh air.

2 years ago Elvaraz...

“So what did they want to talk about?” Nala asked her coupling eagerly securing herself to his side.

“I’m not sure if I should say as yet” Cian pondered honestly a dazed look on his face.

“Don’t worry about it you know you’ll tell me anyway” Nala encouraged him smugly.

He paused to look at her seeming burdened with something she wished to understand. “Tell me Cian” she urged seriously now as she took his hands.

“The Elders... I think...”

“What is it? Does she want to send you hunting for that damn witch again?” Nala badgered him.

“No, it’s nothing like that. Let’s go inside.” Cian suggested as he looked over at the Elder house nervously before hauling his coupling off to their home.

As they stepped inside their children greeted them at, at odds which each other when it came down to making perilous decisions. “Mom, I think something is wrong with your son’s brain. He keeps making stupid decisions and him being related to me means that anything either of us decides we have to do together” their daughter argued eyeing her brother in annoyance.

“Ok, well let’s talk inside,” Nala said ushering them both to the meeting room. “Now what are you two arguing about ?” she asked them once they were seated.

Del rolled his eyes expectantly while Kelu revealed the reason for her displeasure. “I think it’s best we explore the realm of the Wonted folks while we can as you know how helpful it can be in the future. Del wishes to--”

Del spoke up then cutting her off “It’s best that we learn to fight, we can journey to Termész and hone our combat skills, what if a day comes when we can’t use our Nese then what? And besides the Wonted do not need Nese they have tools that are just as dangerous as the strongest of Aelfe” he concluded making his point.

Nala and Cian both regarded them seriously for a moment as their children waited patiently for a response. “Well, I think, learning some new skills are quite valuable for any setting” Cian decided.

Kelu clenched her jaw angrily not pleased with his response, her mother quickly douted the anger welling in her daughter “And I do believe that it makes a lot of sense to explore other realms, it’s good to know how to blend in nothing lasts forever. Look at what happened to Elme” Nala reasoned.

“Thank you!” came Kelu’s clipped response.

It was Del’s turn to react as he threw his hand up in the air to begin his protest. “But...” Nala continued “because you are siblings whatever decision you make will affect the other, you won’t be allowed to go your separate ways so you do need to know how to come to decisions on your own.”

“That’s why we wanted you to decide for us” Kelu urged her mother hoping that she would make her opinion a final decision.

“Kelu, you know better than that. Your decisions affect you both and it would be selfish of us to decide what is right for either of you. You both are right and have very good reasons for going on either expedition but you must choose something that you both can agree on” she addressed them considerately.

Del sighed not willing to budge on his decision and neither was his sister. Nala looked at the two unable to bear the sight of them at odds with each other much longer. “Ok, just this once,” she said giving in.

The siblings perked up suddenly. “Listen before you speak... I would say go to the realm of the Wonted and then journey to Termész for training.” Del’s eyes widened in disbelief but he didn’t say a word. “Think of this clearly, you can travel within Aelfe realms any number of times and since it is uncommon for Aelfe -to get offered twice in exploring the wonted realm- I think it’s best you not push your luck and go now.”

Del’s posture had relaxed as he considered this a look of acceptance on his face as he thought through the decision made carefully. “I guess I can work with that”

Kelu gushed pleased, “Yes!”

“And because you two really need to work on making decisions for your selves in the future why don’t you think about what your father or I would do. We always have different ways of handling things. Basically my ways the long way and his way is the shorter way but in the end, my decision is always better” Nala said smugly giving her husband a confident smile which he returned.

After Del and Kelu had left Nala turned to her coupling a serious look on her face.“You were always good at settling disputes with those two” Cian complimented her sweetly.

“Tell me what you spoke of with the Elders Cian, I am your coupling and have more right than anyone to know your deepest worries” she argued holding out her wrist dotted with tiny scars shaped like an X.

“This” she reminded him holding up her arm “means that we keep no secrets from each other” she pushed. Cian looked down at the scars that symbolized their union.

“They want me to convince you to accept the role of us becoming the next Elders” he confessed his eyes still fixed on the scars on Nala’s wrist.

“No, I won’t. You do see that they want to control us,” she said her voice filled with disapproval.

" If we let them give this honor to us then we will just be as bad as they are, let the Aelfe of the realm choose. You know it will be you, in the end, there’s no need to rush” Nala stated firmly.

“But how can I refuse. They are still the Elders, refusing this would be just as bad as admitting that I have some plan up my sleeve. They know what we are planning and this is the best way for them to stop it” he explained

“No you are my coupling and I would rather chop off this arm than watch you become a pawn for those ruthless Aelfe. Whatever we decide affects all Aelfe in the realm and the Aelfe of the Pit the most, accepting this would mean you would be turning your backs on them and we cant do that.

“Don’t tell me you’re leaving again” Del groaned at my retreating back. Even though I knew he was trying to bug me I still couldn’t shake the overwhelming urge to answer him.

Without turning to face him I spat “It’s what I do best, isn’t it? Maybe you should try to butter me up first and see if I’ll consider staying.”

There was a bit of silence before I grew even more peeved imagining his reaction. I couldn’t understand why it was so easy for him to spout trash at me and when I responded in the same manner, he would always act as if he was the only one who could get hurt.

I turned reluctantly to show him how unapologetic I felt about what I had said and ended up surprised as I gazed down at his form. He bowed with a hand secured to his chest while the other one was stretched backward. The only impression I could get from his posture was that he was mockingly showing respect to what I had uttered.

I couldn’t help myself as a sharp sneer bubbled from my lips, the annoyance I had felt earlier suddenly floating off like a loose balloon.

“Oh great Seilie Aelfen...of the realm of Elvaraz...” he began with feigned passion and I giggled simply because of how ridiculous he looked. He then stole a glance up at me seeming pleased with my response before getting back into character.

“I Del, with the title of most petty but also dashing in all the three realms, implores you to save us, fools, before my evil uncle Erdos does away with our wretched souls.” I just smiled now rolling my eyes at his comical posture.

He then straightened himself smiling at me also “now there’s the Seilie I first met on that bridge” he gushed in a deep throaty tone.

“Shouldn’t it be I Del and your last name?” I amended, trying not to let my gaze roam over his movements as he prowled sensuously towards me closing some of the distance between us.

He gave me a look “last... name?” he repeated sounding bemused,“why would we need that. We are all the same Aelfe no matter the realm.”

“Yea but how do you know who’s family from who’s not? You could end up marrying your cousin” I reasoned.

He nodded getting my point then answered “Family is easily discerned here. Just think of the realm like a tree where each branch carries their own other little branches sprouting leaves and such, and even though you look at it you know its all part of the one tree but the branches and leaves you can see individually. That’s how we recognize family” he continued as if waiting for some indication that I understood.

And I did get his point but that still didn’t answer my question “yea but how do you know? It’s not like we can see some invisible line linking a person to us...”

“You just do. Think of what you felt when you saw Ignis before you knew you were related. A part of you must have trusted her and decided to defend her even when Sonny was being an ass” he answered.

“Hmmm” I mumbled mulling this over. He then whispered faintly and I turned to him “What did you say?” I asked after a moment.

He shook his head without looking at me as he took a seat on the edge of their lanai.

The whispering voice buzzed in my ear once more and I went to where he sat to peer at his unmoving lips.

‘Sum...nis..’ I heard and this time Del was the one studying me as I saw that his lips remained unmoving.

“Do you hear that?” I asked him as I tried to figure out what the voice was trying to say.

“Are you trying to start a conversation with me?” he wondered sounding suspicious while his eyes held mine amused.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at his comment “I’m serious, I hear...whispering”

His face got serious then “whispers. What are they saying?” He asked. “You have to focus on the voice, someone is trying to tell you something” Del clarified.

“Ok” We both fell silent as I listened waiting for the words to sound again, ‘summon Ignis’

“Summon Ignis” I repeated as soon as I’d heard it and at the same time understanding what it meant.

I spun around heading towards the bathroom so I could create a summoning portal.

As I filled the wooden tub with water siphoned through mysterious methods, I filled my head with thoughts of her as I willed her presence to where I now stood.

“What are we doing?” Kelu’s voice sounded suddenly behind me.

“summoning Ignis” Del answered as I focused on what I was doing.

I closed my eyes as I tried to focus solely on my task instead of the bickering behind me. Soon enough they had both stopped talking and I knew the summon worked.

I watched in amazement as the water rose from the tub and it’s construct morphed upwardly like a waterfall in reverse. And as the center of its still black surface melted away, Ignis’s foot emerged followed by the rest of her body gliding past me, then coming to rest securely on the ground.

“Ignis” I breathed still mesmerized from watching her emerge from the portal, the water sunk back to its former construct settling into the tub, its color once again, becoming clear.

“Olivia mom’s in trouble” she blurted out sounding panicked and for a moment I was baffled by her words before coming to my senses. She grabbed on to my upper arms securing my attention with her gaze.

“Maekenzie said Erdos is after her and that she has nowhere else to go” I knew the look in Ignis’s eyes. She was feeling the same emotions that filled me when I realized my mother had locked me in the cellar with no intention of entering herself.

“Then we have to summon her here” I decided a deep panic rising in my chest also. I turned to face the tub preparing to do the same for my aunt.

Ignis’s grip tightened on my arms as she pulled me back to face her. “You can’t. Not here, what if the Elders try to do something to her. The only people that will protect her are you and I. Everyone else knows her as a renegade” she reasoned her voice unsteady.

“Then we’ll protect her” I reassured her firmly. “We know the truth now and so do they.”

“What if they won’t listen. You have no idea how much control the Elders have of the Aelfe. You don’t know what kind of excuse they came up with after you were gone. We can’t trust anyone but ourselves” she urged.

I thought hard about what to do. “You can trust us” Kelu offered.

“We don’t need your phony trust!” Ignis spat at her. Kelu’s face remained calm and unaffected by Ignis’s harsh words.

“Ok, Ignis focus,” I said trying to steer them away from an argument.

“We have to open the checkpoint portal. If things go bad here and trust me, they will go bad. There’s no other way out than the portal” she explained turning to pull me towards the door of the bathroom.

“Wait, but Ignis you know why we can’t open the checkpoint portal” I argued while following her.

“I know Erdos, it’s fine you can take him” she supplied confidently while hurrying through the meeting room and out the door.

“No, he’s not as powerless as everybody thinks, he has some kind of Nese I think... ”

“Liv,” she dubbed testily coming to a halt then facing me. With her snobby attitude gone it was like I was seeing who she really was for the first time. “Your aunt... my mother is in trouble with nowhere to go. Let’s just figure out the rest later” she pleaded.

I nodded in understanding as we hurried off towards the portal I had first traveled through, hoping that we would be able to make in time and by some luck summon her safely to the realm.

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