5. I see fire
I had made it back to Kelu’s home which was just as unusually decorated as the Elders home. “Did you get the answers you were looking for?” she asked gesturing for me to go inside, it was an actual door this time.
“I’m not sure, I got a lot of answers though. I’m glad I spoke to the Elders I guess the rest I can find out from my Aunt.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“Like, why my mother never lived here and if she knew about me becoming a Seilie Aelfen.”
She cocked her head to the side as if wondering if she misheard something I had said. “Olivia, no one can know who becomes the Seilie Aelfe or that would just make them that more vulnerable. They are chosen at a certain age, an age when they most likely know themselves and how to use their abilities.”
“Really? Well Shine said--”
“Elder Shine” Kelu corrected.
“Elder shine,” I began clearing my throat, “said that the reason my mother left was that she may have somehow known that I would become the Seilie Aelfen.”
Kelu laughed a bit at this before explaining, “well that would be stupid, no offense, to leave your kind with something as valuable as the chosen Seilie. Would an alpha wolf leave his pack to go live with humans? It just doesn’t make sense. Maybe you heard wrong.”
“Hmmm.” I know what I heard but I decided to leave that question until when I got the chance to speak to the Elders again.
“How do you destroy a portal?” I asked suddenly curious.
“By poisoning the water.”
“So how do you prevent that?”
“Why”, she asked suddenly suspicious, “are you planning to do something stupid?”
“It’s my only way out of here why would I?” She studied me for a moment before answering, “by freezing the portal entry and then burying it. It would take more than one Nematon to unearth it and if they just unfreeze the portal then it’ll be hard for them to portal with all the debris, so it has to be done the hard way.”
“So your just narrowing down the amount of Aelfen that are killing off Aelfen kind” I surmised.
“Aelfe, not Aelfen, Aelfen is female, Aelfe is more than one. And yes hopefully they’ll try to reopen the portal.”
“What if it’s many of them and they do?”
“Then we’re screwed.”
“I’m home, did we learn anything?” Del barged in suddenly.
“Wait what are you doing here?” I asked, “Isn’t the curfew in effect?”
“Exactly I live here” I was a bit baffled by his response.
“He’s my brother” Kelu answered clearing up my misunderstanding.
“Oh...ok.” The guy I had seen earlier in the infirmary and another entered the room after him.
Kelu rolled her eyes taking in my expression”If you’re wondering why we’re all living together, it’s because we’ve become a family...”
“And friends, some more than others...” one said smiling while making his way to embrace Kelu. She looked away embarrassed but welcomed his embrace.
“You must be Olivia the chosen Seilie, I’m Alen,” he said saluting me, “that quiet fellow over there is Voy” he then pointed to the boy I had seen earlier, who remained comfortably by the door. “And you already know Kelu and Del. I’ll be the one responsible for helping you to control your Nese. It’s an honor being able to meet you.” He smiled kindly still holding Kelu around the waist.
I was pleased with his introduction and approachable manner. Unlike the others who always seemed so tense. “It’s nice to meet you Alen, I think you’re the first normal introduction I’ve had.”
“Pleasure is mine” he replied beaming. “Do you mind if I ask you about what you’ve experienced so far?”
“Not at all go ahead.” The others took their seats as if preparing for a show, even Voy found a place to sit.
*** *** ***
I had fallen sleep like nobody’s business and I had to admit I was feeling more refreshed than I had in months. There was gladly no harm done to anyone last night and the spirits that visited made no fuss leaving only a few houses with vases and memorabilia.
Alen and I stood in a breathtaking meadow close to the forest I came through to discover Elvaraz. The others watching from a distance for my protection and theirs, this was unknown territory to all of us. There had never been an Aelfe with Nese who didn’t know how to use them.
“Ok so why don’t we start by trying to see your aura”, Alen suggested.
The green stuff I told myself mentally while nodding to Alen. I didn’t know what to expect so I started off by staring really hard at nothing. I could feel their eyes boring into me, waiting expectantly.
“I’m sorry,” I said giving up after a few awkward moments, ” I just don’t get it. Can we just do this the other way?”
“Your aura is connected to your emotions but it’s no good if they are controlled by it. Imagine causing an earthquake every time your pissed” Alen reminded me.
“I know but how do you try to see your aura? Is it like trying to hold your breath or something?” I had thought this would have been easier. Alen suddenly looked at me impressed.
“Yes, that’s exactly it. Think of it like breathing” I smiled proud of myself even though that was not what I had meant. “Like the air flowing in and out think of your energy...”
I closed my eyes at first to focus on my breathing and trying not imagine how stupid I might have looked. Soon enough my vision swirled with green and I opened my eyes slowly trying to hold the color there so I could ask what to do next.
“Perfect” Alen breathed as he noticed the flush of green in my eyes “this is good now just listen this part before you try it.”
“Ok,” I answered a bit shaky.
“There’s a stream to your left, I want you to try to focus on the water and bring it to the center, just let your aura be an extension of you, like a hand.” Before he was finished speaking my eyes had already shifted to the stream and before I knew what I was doing the aura covered the whole stream lifting the water and the earth beneath it from the ground.
My eyes grew wide in surprise and not knowing what to do I turned my attention to Alen, the water and earth now turned to dripping mud came flying towards him. I spun around hoping that the majority of the stream would follow.
Instead, mud flew everywhere like a shower and the only thing left for me to do was to close my eyes. There was a loud spatter, then moments later Kelu’s laughter and gasping for breath. I opened my eyes to see Voy and Del covered in mud and Kelu crouched behind a large rock unharmed and wheezing.
“Olivia that was amazing!” Alen gushed from behind. “It would have taken at least five Nematons to lift such large mounds of earth.” I appreciated his compliment.
“Great what next?” I asked motivated by my teacher.
By the time we were finished I was exhausted and had only been able to control the damage and not only create it and according to Alen that was a big step. The others didn’t seem to feel the same.
I rested by what was left of the stream with my feet dangling pleasantly in its warm water. “Still mad at me?” Del asked joining me.
“If you’re asking me if I still feel let down because you keep deciding what I need to know while wanting my help then, yes I’m still mad at you.”
“Olivia, I--” he began.
“You’re sorry, I know. I just can’t help how I feel” he let out a defeated sigh “but...until then the only thing you can do is try to gain my trust, which might not be necessary once your problems are solved you won’t need me anymore...”
He scoffed, “you’re not some tool we’ll just throw out once you’ve been used...you’re more like fine China that we want to pass down to our future generation of offspring.”
His tone was so serious that it made me burst into giggles “I’ll take that as a good thing, I guess.”
“You’re worth keeping around it seems” I wasn’t sure if his comment was serious or not.
“Whats that supposed to mean?” I asked looking up at him, the smile still resting on my lips. As I looked beyond the glaze of his charming features and the determined set of his jawline, I saw something more in his eyes as he gazed down at his clenched fists.
It was muffled anger and I wondered what memory he was lost in while weighing my worth.“It just means you’re different than what we’re used to. Seilies are usually a lot easier to deal with and they don’t ask too many questions, but we’ll see if it lasts.” He sounded genuinely hopeful.
“For what it’s worth Olivia I’m glad you’re here. You’ll either leave or be changed but, I’ll promise not to make things harder for you while you’re still here.”
“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing and was too tired to waste the energy to consider his words more carefully.
“You seem much more relaxed after having spoken to the Elders, learn anything about your aunt?” he asked.
“No, not much,” I said, not wanting to bring up the accusation by my aunt that Shine had informed me of.
“Huh... what about your parents?” he probed.
“Yes,” I said smiling to myself remembering my fathers’ name “my parents were happy here so it must have been a good place. Speaking of parents, where are yours?”
“Not here” his voice became heavy drawing my attention to him, “my parents were the first Aelfe to be killed, well my father was killed first and became a Sith and then it killed my mother.”
“That’s awful, I’m sorry I asked.” I hadn’t expected him to expose such a huge incident so bluntly.
“Yea. What’s worse was I had to be the one to destroy them, they were in too much pain to return to the earth, my father couldn’t get over killing my mother. It’s the worst thing for an Aelfe, to die in such a horrible way and become a Sith. It’s like, a part of you knows what you’re doing but you just can’t help it because your just a memory of your former self, watching helplessly as everything you love is destroyed.”
A pang of sorrow swept over me and before I knew what I was doing, I reached out to touch his hand knowing that nothing could comfort the pain of losing your parents.
I now saw where he drew his strength from. This was the first whole truth I had gotten since meeting him. I could tell there was only heart behind his words and no expectations, just pure guileless candor.
I wanted to let him know I understood how he felt and suddenly felt no discomfort in exposing my own pain. “You know when my mother died I saw it happen. It was the night before Christmas and she had decided to keep our little celebration outside, we planned on having a bonfire in our backyard and out of nowhere this tornado just starts sucking up everything in its path heading straight for us.”
He listened while his hand remained comfortably under my own. “We dropped everything and ran to the storm shelter. When we got there she pushed me in and locked me in from the outside then she looked at me and said ‘don’t be afraid, none of this is your fault’ and then she was just pulled away like nothing into the air. Moments later she fell right back on the spot she was taken from and I couldn’t look away. Her eyes, her face forever frozen in terror.”
I shuddered at the memory, I had never spoken about that night to anyone before, not even my aunt.
Remembering those last words now made me wonder if my mother had somehow known I would have ended up here and to not be afraid, but I couldn’t understand why I would believe her death to be my fault. It was also something I never wanted to know the answer to.
Del gently squeezed my hand a look of understanding in his gaze.
“I’m going to help you stop Erdos or anyone else who may be hurting Aelfe kind, you can count on that” I reassured him. “And maybe I can get some answers from him that will help me find out who killed my mother.”
“About that, there’s something I have to tell you. Erdos, he--” before Del could finish his confession a loud crack sounded followed by black smoke filled the air some distance away.
“What’s that?” I asked not prepared for another confrontation with Siths. He followed my puzzled gaze behind him, then stood up quickly his body going tense.
“Go back and let the Elders know that we’ll be going beyond the meadow” he instructed taking off behind the others who soon noticed the commotion.
“Wait! What’s beyond the meadow?Is it the Siths?” I asked thrown off by his sudden reaction.
“Dark Paradise. Siths can’t start a fire but someone is out there starting one to defend themselves. We can handle this.”
“No, I’m coming with you. I thought this was what I was here for I’m the chosen Seilie remember. How can I handle a murderer if I can’t help chop down a couple of trees” I pointed out.
“This is different you have to be our last line of defense against any threat. We can’t let you get hurt before that,” he argued.
I threw up my hands in frustration “Seriously! I thought that we’ve already been through this. I’m going, someone out there needs our help.”
Before he could protest further I hurried to catch up the others.
The area of the forest called Dark Paradise was void of the suns light and it took a lot of shuffling before my vision got used to the low light. Colors of luminous purple and blue were scattered across the ground and trees.
Trodding carefully through the darkness at my feet I came close enough to realized that it was the mushrooms and ferns that glowed in the dark. “Why are the plants glowing?” I asked Del curiously.
We had slowed to a walk now that fumes from the smoke began burning our eyes, making it even harder to see.
“Poison. A lot of Aelfe blood was spilled here, only Siths inhabit this part of the forest, no Aelfe would be in their right mind to willingly walk into this mess.
A primal scream ripped through the heavy silence surrounding us followed by a large blaze blinding us momentarily.
Fits of coughing sounded all around. Voy, Kelu, and Alen were pushed back by the blaze bumping into us in their retreat. Kelu regaining her composure knelt to the ground her eyes closed when suddenly the earth became soft and mucky beneath our feet.
“The fire won’t spread to us but if we don’t figure something out quickly the smoke will kill us. We needed rain I thought, Alen had explained that whatever element they manipulated had to come from somewhere. I couldn’t see anything in our midst that would help us, and seeing that dampening the earth with whatever water it held was all Kelu could do for now made me worry.
I then remembered Del’s words when we’d first met. I had to make it rain, I began taking deep breathes like Alen instructed me to, then turning my face upward I looked up to the plumes of smoke silhouetted against the darkness that filled the sky. The jade green haze floated into my vision and then was absorbed into the darkness.
“What are you doing?“Del asked turning to me, so did the others. I waited, willing firmly in my mind for it to rain.
The first drop hit me solidly between the eyes and shortly after multiple droplets followed cold and heavy.
“You made it rain” Alen pointed out in awe “I wouldn’t have expected less.”
“Good thinking” Kelu congratulated me trudging forward to where the rustling came from.
I let out an exhausted breath looking over at Del who raised his palm up for a high five. I raised my right arm stepping forward to return the gesture when my knees buckled and my vision began to blur with black dots.
*** *** ***
An hour after I woke, clothes intact the voices of serious discussion urged me to find out what had happened after I passed out. I walked out into the meeting room of Kelu’s home to find the others including Sonny, who stood in the middle of the conversation. Our eyes met briefly, his held no welcome for me.
I looked around for Shine and instead saw a new face that was familiar in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. Her eyes flitted over to me as if feeling my gaze, then away as she stood up furious denying an accusation it seemed Sonny had made.
I walked over to see what was going on. “--how dare you! As if sending me away to die wasn’t enough? I’ll leave with my head held high like my mother did and if you try to stop me I swear Erdos will be the least of your worries old man.”
A smile tugged at my lips hearing her call Sonny old and it gave me pleasure to imagine him seething with contempt on the inside while portraying a calm and collected demeanor.
“Nematons like you sully the good name of Aelfe possessing Nese, you must obey the decision made to give up the use of your fata as we cannot risk an unchecked hot head running about with the means of opening our realm to outside threats” Sonny dictated the vein in his neck bulging.
“Wait, you’re banishing her?” I interjected.
“As you can clearly see Olivia she is the one who wants to leave,” Sonny said matter of factly.
“Then let her leave why destroy her fata?” I asked my annoyance with him growing.
“I understand that you have decided to step up to your duties as the chosen Seilie, but being that you do not understand or know anything of our history or culture I would like it if you kindly refrain from interrupting the conversation.”
The room fell silent instantly and the subject of our discussion looked disbelievingly between the two of us.
“No,” I said challenging Sonny’s warning gaze seriously.
Kelu spoke up then “Olivia” she whispered warily.
I ignored her continuing to speak “No I won’t kindly refrain from anything. And I’m the only one here who can destroy fata so I won’t do it.”
“Well then, you have certainly achieved your goal of disgracing me in my realm and shown your true colors” his expression held such loathing for me it was as if I could feel his anger curling around my neck.
“Looks like I got here just in time” Shine’s voice floated in suddenly breaking the tension in the room. Kelu marched over to my side hauling me away to a corner of the room as I watched Shine do the same with Sonny.
“Are you crazy? Who do you think you are?” Kelu scolded. I looked at her questioningly. “I mean sure he deserved it, but you can’t just do that” she continued letting out a shaky breath.
“It’s so infuriating, watching him decide what to do with peoples lives as he pleases” I argued quietly.
“I know but the Elders are the law, it has been that way for centuries and one stray Seilie can’t just come and change that. Besides, what he said does make sense. If Ignis were to turn on us once she leaves the realm it would cause more harm than good for every Aelfe in Elvaraz” she explained gravely.
I huffed watching as the Aelfen named Ignis made her way over to where we stood. “I knew you weren’t from around here,” she remarked looking me over, “Aelfe kind has no sense of fashion.”
“I’m Ignis and you are...?”
“Olivia.” A look of consideration dampened her smile as she studied me. “Why were you in the forest earlier?“I asked wanting to understand why Sonny would think of taking such rash measures against this Aelfen.
“Didn’t you hear? I was banished there after my mother left. It wasn’t that bad until Erdos started slaughtering Aelfe kind by the dozens and then it became a damn dark paradise and I had to leave my home and ended up here.”
“And?” Kelu encouraged her firmly.
“And” Ignis began rolling her eyes “I brought a message from Erdos, it was either that or become a permanent part of the dark paradise, you can imagine which offer I chose.”
“Ok, so what was the message?”
She folded her arms defensively “that all Nematons open fata be destroyed by the Seilie Aelfen or else.”
I waited for her to finish her sentence but apparently, that was where the message ended. “Or else what?” I asked.
“Or else he keeps on murdering Aelfe kind, are you not following the conversation here?” she asked.
“That’s it?” I wondered. I had figured the negotiations to be a bit more, heavy. “He justifies murdering his own kind all because he can’t use Nese, seems a bit petty compared to what other people live without every day.”
“That old man was right about one thing. You know nothing about Aelfe culture because if you did, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge his reasons.”
“So you agree with him murdering Aelfe?” Kelu asked Ignis accusingly.
“No of course not, he’s murdering Aelfe without Nese for crying out loud. I’m just saying it’s our kinds damn prejudice that started all of this between Aelfe kind” she finished making her point.
“I don’t understand how bad is it for Aelfe without Nese that it’s come to this?” I asked trying to get back in on the conversation.
“Terrible” Ignis answered instantly. “Nematons are treated like royalty while ‘lesser Aelfe’ as they call it are treated like peasants and what’s worse is that if lesser Aelfe mingle with Nematons they’ll threaten to banish them if they don’t comply.”
I was so taken aback by Ignis’s revelation that I couldn’t comment on what she had just told me. “That’s not true” Kelu countered sternly.
Ignis scoffed giving her a challenging look, “really this coming from--”
“That’s enough!” Kelu adjured steering Ignis away from where I stood as they argued furiously.
“Olivia a word dear” Shine called signaling that I follow her. I looked back trying to read Ignis and Kelu’s lips as they bickered away, Del now joining them.