Dark Paradise- Book 1

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3. Bridge

I now release you into the world my love ..


I had made it halfway back to my flat by the time my ignorance caught up with me. And now my stubbornness, having been dissolved I mulled over the reasons why the conversation between Del and I could in no way be legit, even though I had been the one wanting answers.

Now here I was adamantly walking away from them.

Del had been right, I was afraid. Afraid of the answers that may be too much for me to handle. The more rational part of my brain urged me to swallow my pride and demur and just go for it. If this was all a hoax then shame on me.

I turned making my way back towards the direction of the bridge first with short strides then breaking into a full on run.

By the time I got there, a satisfied Del nodded his approval of my decision to return. I slowed down, walking past him to catch my breath.

This was a big step for me, mentally and literally. “There are only three things I want to know-“I panted “-how and why my mother was killed, and who or what I am.

His face registered some confusion for a moment, but before I could decide on why that may be he answered, “you will, I promise.”

“Ok. So how do we get there?”

He tilted his head to the side and walked over to where I stood by the baluster. “What, we just stand here?” I asked not following.

“We go through the lake, ” he explained.

“The lake is the portal, of course, ” I said not surprised. “Isn’t there another way?”

“There are, but don’t worry this isn’t as bad as you’re thinking.” His hazel eyes seemed to flush with blue as he turned away from me to climb atop the baluster. “Let’s go,” he said offering me his hand.

Reassuring myself that I had seen him jump off this baluster and survive, I ignored his hand and pulled myself up alongside him, trembling slightly as I looked down on the dark mirror-like surface of the lake.

Moments passed and soon the black water below us sunk, melting away like mercury leaving an opening which I could only assume we would have to jump through in the next couple of seconds.

“You’ll have to take my hand for this part,” he said extending his arm towards me “because you don’t know where you’re going and all.”

This was all too surreal for me to back out now. If I was somehow having a mental breakdown all because I didn’t take my aunts advice, well at least she’d know she was right.

I grabbed on to Del’s arm, grateful, and tried not to show it. “This is just like my dream” I whispered.

“What happened in your dream?” he asked.

“I don’t know, I’ve never decided to jump,” I answered.

“You’ll be fine just try to relax and don’t let go of my arm. If you feel a little light-headed don’t panic that’s normal, it’ll wear off after a couple seconds.”

I nodded stiffly my fingers going numb with cold as I gripped his arm tighter, being light-headed was the least of my worries I thought as my heart raced away in my chest. I closed my eyes without thinking as I felt his body tugging me forward.

The back of my lids flooded with a jade green, which felt as if it would pulse out of my eyes if I had been brave enough to open them. My body fell through the air, both hands now firmly holding Del’s arm to mine.

Even though I had seen the opening in the lake, I’d still expected to feel the water, I didn’t. And before I could think of how long we would be falling my soles touched what I could only assume was the ground.

Gravity then filled my body starting at my ankles and then it brought my knees to the ground. The only thing that saved me from lying face down in the dirt was my quick reflexes as both arms let go of Del’s and I braced on the ground my arms wobbly and my head spinning.

I took in a deep gulp of air, not realizing that I had been holding my breath also. As I opened my eyes the color of green shot out and rocketed past the trees as well as a cold blast of air which made me shiver.

“You ok?” Del asked.

I was too busy trying not to bite my tongue off to answer. The area around us was dark and damp and as I tried to right myself to clear the daze from my head, a series of rustling immediately put me on edge and gave me enough adrenaline to sober up.

I heard the loud thump of my head hitting the ground before I felt it. My body was now being dragged across, then up off the ground. It was then that I felt the pressure of whatever had latched on to my ankle.

I screamed out trying to grab on to anything within my reach. I flailed from side to side in a full-on panic.

“Damn it!” Del said roughly, from somewhere below grabbing onto one of my frantic hands. A sudden violent flow of vibrations jolted through our contact and into my body making me rigid.

The pressure around my ankle was released and I came crashing down into Del’s arms. As he twisted laying me on the ground my muscles tingled the stiffness beginning to leave them. “I need you to be very afraid right now!“, he ordered through the chaos as he took off hurtling bolts of electrified white energy from his hands towards a thicket of trees that seemed to loom closer and closer after each blow.

“Wha..a...at, you think I’m not!” I shouted back at him more terrified than angry. We’re gonna die! I thought over and over as I watched the trees closing in on us.

I now realized that they were the cause of the darkness that shrouded over us as if it were the night. With each blow, a bit of sunlight shone through but then was once again blotted out by another wildly advancing tree trunk.

“More life and death afraid and less shock!” Del suggested with labored breath. I couldn’t comprehend what he was trying to say”trust me... it’s very ok... right now if... ”

His body then flew to the side like a rag doll, “no” I breathed crawling over to where he lay “no, no, no, no...” but before I could get close enough to see if he were alive or not, something wrapped around my waist pulling and squeezing as if wanting to rip me apart.

“No! Stop” I gasped angrily, beating at what felt like a huge vine, uselessly with my hands. I kicked and twisted too panicked to care about the pain, I just wanted out. The jade green I had seen earlier begun hazing my vision.

Suddenly there was a loud crack like thunder above and with it, bolts of lightning began hitting the ground, some slicing straight through the trees around us. The pressure around my waist was released and I fell hard to the ground.

I groaned in pain rolling to my side and Del was there his smile victorious and eyes filled with blue ‘he’s was ok’ was the only thing my mind was able to process. I was drained and my whole body ached.

Sunlight now beamed in the space around us and I squinted against the beautiful rays, “I knew you could do it” he whispered bending to pick me up off the ground.

I wanted to tell him this was a mistake and that I wanted to go back, instead “tired” was the only word that escaped my lips before the I slipped into unconsciousness.

opened my eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling and a dull ache to the side of my head. I waited a few moments expecting more pain, but there was none so I tried and failed in getting up, my body as heavy as lead.

A tiny hand brought a mixture of mint and sage fuming from a smudge wand to my nostrils which startled my body out of its stupor. I immediately sat upright the throbbing in my head growing stronger.

“Strong girl.” I turned to face the female sitting beside me, her familiar hazel eyes looked me over with approval while she held on to the smudge wand. “How’s your head?” she asked.

“Pounding...Who are you?” I asked not seeing Del around.

“Good, I left that to wake you up and this” she continued gesturing to the smudge wand, “is to make sure your brain is working, which it is”.

I stuttered too taken aback to speak. Just then Del and another male walked in through the doorway ending at the foot of the cot I sat upon.” She’ll be fine” the girl assured them climbing down from the stool she had been sitting on during my examination.

“You did great Olivia, I know what you must be thinking but this is what I wanted to explain to you yesterday” he commented positively.

“Yesterday! I’ve been unconscious since-- Look I just want to leave, this is obviously way more than I can handle mentally, hopefully not because of any head trauma I may have sustained.” I flung my legs over the side of the cot only to notice that my legs were bare.

“Your dress was, torn pretty badly. Your shoes survived though,” he quipped. I was wearing only my black tights and a black tank top.

“I barely survived and I want to keep it that way, either you let-”

You saved us out there, you survived because of you”, he began cutting me off mid-sentence. “That lightning out there which tore open the earth like it was nothing, that was spurred by your anger. And that’s not even a fraction of what you can do” he spoke as if praising me would make me feel better about nearly losing my life. It didn’t

“So what Del, I can do magicky stuff like you,” this was not what I had signed up for and seemed too dangerous for me to handle. “What have I learned? Huh? You said that I would understand once I got here, not almost torn to shreds...by trees!”

The throbbing in my head turned into a series of well-aimed sucker punches just below my ear and the first one sent me squatting back down on to the cot as I tried to get up.

He reached out pushing my shoulders back gently,“just try to relax. You getting worked up now is exhausting energy you barely have” I disliked his cool self-assured tone telling me what to do.

I swatted his hands away, not wanting to be here any longer. Del was hiding something and if he wasn’t going to tell me then I had almost died for nothing, that fact alone gave me enough energy to sit back up.

My eyes roamed the small room taking in three other cots like the one I sat on, hoping that I would find some kind of exit sign and be on my way. There was nothing except cabinets, the entrance in which the female who had woken me up had left through and the person that had come in with Del now stood.

“Hey,” I called out to him, wincing in pain as I received another blow from my annoying headache, “please take me back, I don’t want to be here”, the stranger glanced at me once with dispassionate eyes then looked over at Del.

I’d had enough, I finally was able to push myself up off the cot gritting my teeth with one hand still holding on to its edge for support. “I get that you’re...upset and I’m sorry about what happened back there. I didn’t bring you here expecting this to happen.” he started without sounding the least bit apologetic.

“Am I being held captive here?” I asked ignoring his explanation.

“No--”

“Then get out of my way.” I was determined not to pass out, not in this room I hoped. Standing on my own was challenging enough and if the pounding in my head wasn’t sufficient, my vision now began to swim.

“This is nothing, you can do so much more if you just let me help you” Del offered, grabbing my elbow as I swooned to one side trying to put one foot before the other. I was too unbalanced to push him away.

Walking had never been this hard for me. “If you’re going to explain anything please get it over with already, all your doing is wasting my time and you lied” I panted.

“I just wanted to talk to you when you were more stable, you’re barely listening to me now.” he began to argue. I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time I realized, so I paused to confront him and also to catch my breath.

“Did you know my mother?” I faced him now.

His shoulders drooped a little, “no I did not.”

“Do you even know how she died?” some guilt now shone through his poised demeanor. “No, right? You lied, so why the hell would I waste time listening to anything else you have to say?” I no longer had the energy to sound as angry as I felt.

He took a deep breath as if his next words were going to be hard for him to say “I’m sorry. I truly am and it wasn’t a complete lie. I may not have known how your mother died but, I’m sure that anything that happened to her was Aelfe related and whatever is happening here might be the reason your mother died.”

I shook my head, steady enough now to keep putting on foot in front of the other. “That can’t be...”

“I’m telling you, there’s no way one of the Wonted folk could have done something to your mother. Aelfe kind are practically invisible unless they make some kind of effort to socialize with the Wonted.”

“Wonted folk? wait, do you mean people?” I asked trying to thread his unusual terms together.

“Yea, you can call them that”he responded, I rolled my eyes.

“Well, it wasn’t a person. It was a storm and I don’t want to talk about this, you can’t help me anyway” I reminded him.

“It was an Aelfe, someone like us, someone like you and your mother.”

“Ok, am I supposed to know what that means?“I asked.

“Someone that can do...magicky stuff must have created the storm.” I appreciated the effort he made in trying to ‘speak on my level’ and now he held my attention.

“Ok,” I said putting a pause on my awkward limping. “So why would someone do that? Why would they want to scoop her up into the air and have flying missiles beat her body to death? All she did was go to work and come home.”

I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat but it wouldn’t budge and soon my eyes welled up the memories would follow. Unable to bear the weight of the memory I crouched down covering my face. I was embarrassed that this was happening here and now.

A few moments later a hand nudged my shoulder gently but I was too embarrassed to look up. “We all know your crying. No one’s judging you, just drink this.”

I slowly looked up into a small heart-shaped face outlined by her neatly cut a-bob and beautiful hazel eyes that were shaped like a cat. It was the girl from earlier. She had crouched down in front of me a cup in one hand and the other resting on her knees.

“This will help you feel more coordinated,” she said handing it to me.

“And you, better tell her everything or I will, we’ve wasted enough time and energy trying to appease the Elders and now we’ve lost another portal,” she said pointedly looking up at Del.

“Can you, take this, ” she insisted, taking one of my hands and shoving the cup into my palm before getting up and walking over to where Del stood not far from me. I wiped my tears looking down into the cup.

“What is this?” I asked.

“Water” she replied before continuing her conversation with Del. “None of this matters if she doesn’t trust us. Not her being Aelfe or using Nese. So just let her choose after telling her everything so we can all move on with our lives.”

“It doesn’t matter about trust she’s a Seilie you know how they’ve always been, once she realizes how powerful she is I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to try her Nese out on the current problem” he reasoned with Kelu as if I wasn’t there.

I sniffled taking a few sips of the water and instantly my head felt clearer so I gulped down the rest forgetting about the conversation behind my back. My throbbing headache was reduced to nothing.

Hoping my eyes hadn’t looked as puffy as they felt, I stood up to face them, waiting for somebody to say something of importance. The girl looked from Del who was massaging his temples, to me, before shrugging and began to speak.

“The real reason you were brought here Olivia, was not because of--”

“Ok, Kelu. I get it, now just be quiet and let me talk” he said cutting her off bluntly.

He took a deep breath before beginning. “Those things that attacked us out there, they’re malevolent spirits that inhabited the trees, Siths, Aelfe turn into them if they’ve been harmed.”

“Sounds like any normal person to me, without becoming spirits... anyway how does this have anything to do with me?” I asked.

“Well they didn’t become hostile on their own and the fact that they swarmed us as soon as we came through the portal means that you needed to be here--”

“Can you just cut to the part where I actually understand what you’re saying?” I said impatiently. Del seemed to be inching towards the conclusion that what had happened somehow had to do with me, but I didn’t remember aggravating them in any way.

“We believe you to be the Seilie Aelfen, one of us but more...sacred”, I stared at him non-plussed, “and Aelfe like you have been protectors for other Aelfe, and with whats happening with the Siths and the portals, it can only be stopped by a Seilie Aelfe...Aelfen in your case.”

I let out a frustrated breath trying not to scream.

“You know you make things way more complicated than they need to be” I heard Kelu say “She is from here but never lived here so I’m sure what you’re saying makes no sense, can you cut out the baby feeding.”

She then fixed her cat-like gaze on me”the English translation of all that is, we need your help. You have abilities that no one else has that can save us. How you came to have these abilities? we don’t know, we’ve never known it was just what Nature did to ensure our survival for so long and now that’s in danger, but only if you don’t help us.”

I didn’t know what to say. Del jumped in right after “the way you can affect different things at once, the rain and wind, the lightning and the thunder. That’s how we knew for certain that you are the Seilie Aelfen. No one else can manipulate several elements at once, just one, my electricity, Kelu with water and so on.”

I tried to pretend as if the conversation that we were having was a logical one “Ok, so...you need my help. But I don’t know how to help you.”

“That’s fine we would teach you, the rest would come naturally,” Del assured, his expression unwavering with surety.

“So why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” I asked.

“Well based on how you reacted earlier, we wouldn’t have gotten this far if I hadn’t convinced you to come with me.” He answered simply.

That was true. “You’re right, I can’t see how I can do this. It just doesn’t make any sense. If I were an...Aelf.”

“Aelfen,” Del corrected.

“Yea whatever, why wasn’t I born here? I’ve never heard of Aelfen and Siths ” I explained mocking his pronunciation “I’ve never heard of a place like this before.”

“Well, that’s the odd part, but we are sure of what you are ” Del maintained.

“If I am what you say I am, I would have known something. If, and this is a big if my mother had known this I’m sure she would have said something and if she did intentionally not say anything then I’m sure it was for a good reason.”

Del began pacing back and forth now as if trying to think of another way to prove his point. “You may be right. We don’t know why you were raised as Wonted but the reason we were able to find you was when your family reached out to us a year ago” he admitted.

And just like that, something clicked.

“You’re right she may be cursed and was banished, an Unseilie Aelfen...” Kelu suggested.

“Wait, you said my family reached out to you a year ago?” I said walking over to him, there was only one family member that could have done that.

“Yes-”

“What was her name?” I probed.

“Maekenzie.” I had suspected this before he said it, the name settling in my brain like the hammer being pulled back on a gun.

“Maekenzie Paige...” we confirmed in unison.

“Yes, she came here and spoke to the Elders, we don’t know what they spoke about and it’s not like they’d tell us, but they’ve been waiting for the Seilie Aelfen to come to them and since the chaos started with the Siths we offered to help in finding you.”

My mind raced trying to fit all the pieces of information I just received together. “My aunt Mae, I need to speak to her. I need to go back.”

“If she didn’t tell you who you are then she might deny everything now. If you just let us show the Elders what you can do then they’ll give us all the answers you need and you can help us” he assured.

“No, take me home and can I please get some clothes?” I asked firmly, the need to confront my aunt grew with each question that sprung to mind.

“Listen, you can get everything you need here, just talk to the Elders” Del insisted trying to convince me to stay.

“No, you listen, if I don’t leave here now I promise there won’t be a chance of me helping you. Plus listening to you is what almost got me killed last time. ”

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