I stormed out of the house with Ignis right behind me “wait! I thought you said we were leaving?” she questioned perplexed.
“We are,” I said firmly my feet pounding the earth without a sound.
She finally caught up with me trying to block my path, “no, we aren’t if we get hauled off to the Elders. You do realize us getting caught would equal no escape right?”
I scoffed at the idea “I’m hoping they’ll try and stop me.”
“So you do wanna get caught...look we don’t have to make a scene we can just leave, quietly” she suggested.
I stopped for a moment frustrated because she kept blocking all my advances. “I need them to know that I know what they did and that I hate them for it and that, they deserve what’s coming to them.”
“Ok,” she said coming to a stop also but seeming as if she was prepared to tackle me at any moment “I get that part but I don’t see what Del and Kelu have to do with any of this...”
“You won’t understand,” I said dismissing her curiosity.
“Then make me understand” she insisted firmly looking me in the eyes “If you’re going to pick a fight then I would like to know what I’m fighting for. I’m on your side Olivia” she assured.
I looked at her letting out a heavy breath. “They mislead me, right from the start, well Del did but he promised he wouldn’t, he looked me in the eyes even after I knew about Erdos and said nothing. And Kelu, she was always honest, or so I thought and I confronted her about it and she lied to my face. Why would she lie if she wanted to stop her uncle...!”
I pressed down on my temples feeling as though my head was going to explode, my hands had also begun to shake in anger and I took a deep breath to try and calm myself. “You know I didn’t even know that I would be up against a murderer, why the hell wouldn’t you think that was important to mention?” I said, my voice quivering with emotion. I didn’t want to feel sad, it would make me weak, I wanted to be angry.
Ignis’s let her arms fall to her side as I continued to rant “I just thought that they were different...that he was different and that even though the Elders, my grandparents had let me down, that at least I could count on them to not try to use me, like the Elders had, and be honest with me, even if it meant me not helping them. Which of course I still would have done, because they can’t choose who their families are just like I can’t choose mine.”
Ignis sighed understanding “You’re right and who am I to protect them after what they did to--” I held up my fingers cutting Ignis off suddenly.
“Shh.” I noticed how eerily quiet the area was even though the curfew had not been lifted as yet.
Ignis knitted her brows, taken aback.“Ok, I’m not hurt at all” she muttered folding her arms.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that but, listen,” she cocked her head to the side “shouldn’t the curfew patrol have spotted us by now?” I questioned as I nervously looked around at how abandoned the area looked and felt.
It was like everything was frozen in time except for us.She seemed to catch on then her face darkening as alarm flashed in her eyes “Oh crap,” she breathed nervously reaching into her pocket. She then shook her head slightly, the look in her eyes telling me to keep quiet.
I swallowed, my body tense as I watched her pull out something similar to the handle of a whip which seemed to be made of flint and was engraved elegantly. I looked up at her with questions and then noticed that her eyes had flushed amber.
“Stay behind me” she mouthed now and in the next moment, she spun around with the handle raised over her head, and from it, a flaming thong of fire poured out steadily.
Her body pivoted along with the flames and then her hand shot out like a snake the flaming ends connecting with a figure that I hadn’t seen there before.
The area around us suddenly evaporated like smoke and what I saw was something out of a nightmare. “It’s the Nese of illusion, someone was trying to blind us until--”
She didn’t even get to finish her explanation as my body ran cold from the scene of horror before our eyes. We both gasped as we gazed out into the further at what looked like a sea of blackthorns devouring the path as it came. “The dark paradise..” Ignis chocked out sounding genuinely terrified “...it’s spreading.”
The patrol took action now since the veil had been lifted from their eyes alerting Aelfe in their homes and shouting out orders. The sky rumbled with thunder as if becoming a part of the ghastly scene before us.
“Olivia!” Someone called out to me. It was Del joined by the others now drenched in the sudden downpour that doused the fire burning whip in Ignis’s hand. “I’m glad your ok” he breathed relieved, making his way towards us.
He then paused seeing the incapacitated body of the woman before us. “Rea!“, he exclaimed and rushed to quickly kneel by her side “she’s hurt, we need to get her some help.”
“You know the woman who tried to kill us, I’m not surprised,” I said roughly hoping he picked up on the insinuating tone of my voice.
“If she had something to do with this then we can worry about her later” Alen jumped in. “Right now we need to focus on preventing dark paradise from spreading and get everyone as far away from here so it can stop feeding.”
Del stood up a questioning look on his face “What’s your problem? Is everything ok?” he asked.
“Obviously not the realm is about to be purged” I snapped unable to hold back my anger, the jade green aura filled my vision and with it came the wind. He narrowed his eyes riddled with confusion and maybe hurt as if trying to see where my anger stemmed from.
“Now is not a good time Del” Ignis warned stepping in between us. “And it’s a good thing your upset,” she said now turning to me “we need you to focus your anger on that or none of us will be leaving anytime soon.”
I huffed tearing my eyes away from Del’s confused ones and headed towards the dark mass that was making a beeline towards the village. He had no right to be hurt I thought as a tinge of regret pushed at my conscience.
“Let’s get everyone as far away from here then we’ll come back and do whatever we can” Alen urged the others quickly. I shook my head reminding myself of what lay ahead.
“I’m coming with you” Ignis declared catching up to walk by my side.
I nodded gratefully. As we got closer to the darkness a sharp chill charged the air making us both stumble in our stride. “Ok, now what I asked?” unsure of how one would tackle the scene before us.
“You’re the Seilie, remember” Ignis stated pointing out the obvious. I took a closer look at the Siths and the darkness and how it burrowed itself firmly into the ground coming closer and closer making the hairs on my arms raise, tense in anticipation.
An idea immediately popped into my head and I focused on the ground trying to lift as much of the top layer as I could. The surface began to crack with spider veins splitting the lush grass and earth all the way to our feet.
“What are you doing?” Ignis asked her voice panicked.
“Trying to stop the dark paradise from spreading, these spirits need living things to latch on to, to survive and grow right... so let’s just take that away from them and you just make sure that no one else is trying to attack us.”
I willed the surface to unearth itself but it only felt as though I was trying to pry a tree out of its roots with my bare hands, I just wasn’t strong enough. “I could really use a hand here!” Ignis growled straining to keep the fire from her whip alight. And with such heavy rain was like trying to light a match in the wind.
“Don’t worry we here” Alen greeted us panting as they spread out like a barrier against the oncoming darkness.
“I can’t get the ground to move, I’m not strong enough,” I said turning to Alen for help. The others went on the offensive, dishing out a series of attacks against the oncoming darkness which would only delay it by a few seconds at most.
“Have you tried using your hands?” Voy asked. I wondered for a moment what he meant then remembered Sonny’s words about fata. I turned back to the advancing dark paradise which would swallow us any moment now.
Instead of just focusing my aura with my eyes, I compelled the earth with my hands as if pushing against a wall. The earth broke away slowly at first and then rolled up like a carpet crushing and uprooting the Siths in its wake forming a crater.
It was as though I could feel it’s weight in my arms straining against the resisting roots that now broke free from the earth toppling one another. I panted trying to catch my breath feeling victorious and hoping that the threat had seized for now at least. I was so wrong.
“Olivia! Look out !” was all I heard before Del and Alen rushed to my aid. Alen tackled me to the ground from the side and I only caught a glimpse of Del’s outstretched hand trying to shield us from the onslaught of sharp-edged missiles that flew towards us.
Luckily Del’s expert use of his Nese aided him in striking down each attack aimed at us perfectly and the rest that escaped fell short of puncturing our bodies. We didn’t have time to breath before another series of attacks flew towards us.
“You idiots!” Ignis cried out angrily. Del and Alen moving from their positions had put more strain on the others having to cover a larger area of defense.
Instinctively I raised my arms like a shield, as one of the black thorn-shaped missiles shooting across the open space was aiming straight for my head, and I waited bracing myself for the unimaginable pain that would soon pierce my flesh.
That pain didn’t come, instead heavy breathes of relief were heard all around and I peeked between my crossed hands to see that a wall of earth had been raised between us and the dark paradise. A series of shallow thumps ensued from the other side. I looked down the row to my right and saw that Kelu and Ignis now stooped taking deep breaths while shivering uncontrollably from the cold rain.
Alen’s body also relaxed now as he rolled over onto his back as if realizing that he too had come close to death.
“We won’t last much longer if this keeps up” Voy mentioned his voice grim”the realm won’t make it at this rate.” I suddenly felt bothered by this comment fully aware that indirectly he meant that because of my inexperience they were all as good as dead.
This was a role I had to play objectively whether I liked it or not and if I were being honest with myself I did not want to die here, the truths I had learned had not sullied my heart enough so that I could just watch Elvaraz be washed in blood. I stood up and walked towards the wall of earth that was now crumbling rapidly under the violent attacks that came from the Siths.
My body had almost gone numb with cold from the rain as I focused quietly haling aura from the earth as Voy had taught me.My body quivered with energy from each dose.
I watched the wall collapse fully before us and I froze not prepared for what I now saw. There were dark shadows emerging from beneath the toppled trees and beyond the darkness that had now seized its progression.
The shadows that came towards us now were so dark that you could not see through them, but only the flecks of gold that burned within their creased like structures, like the dying flames upon coal. They were legion.
“What’s happening?” I asked trying to regain my composure. I watched as they trekked down into the crater I had made.
“The Siths.” Ignis breathed coming to stand beside me, “so many dead” she continued her voice cracking. They moved as one now making their way toward us like billows of smoke.
I made my way towards the oncoming swarm and Ignis called out trying to stop me. “What are you doing?”
“They look weak,” I noticed unable to pull my eyes away from the scene before me. There were almost a hundred or more of them, Aelfe murdered and for what? I tried to imagine.
“That’s because that’s their true form, unconsumed emotions...they’ll eventually burn out this way just stay back.” She warned, but I was unable to. A sadness filled me as I watched the horde struggle forward, filled with nothing but anger, a shadow of their former selves. Was this what my mother had become? I wondered suddenly.
I suddenly felt someone’s hand grasp my own gently. “The forest they came from is destroyed, there is nothing here for them to take control of, nothing close enough anyway. They’ll just burn out.” Del reassured me as he pulled me gently away.
It was so unfair I thought, I could sense their pain and suffering and I wasn’t sure how at the moment but I wanted to take that away so they could move on. “I have to go to them,” I said suddenly, “I think they’re in pain...”
“They don’t have a soul, they feel no pain” he began to explain, I pulled away from him not knowing sure of how to make him understand.
“Don’t stop me on this...trust me, whatever is left of them is still suffering... they’re in pain,” I said realizing now that the golden flecks must be what kept them mobile, it was what was left of their soul.
I took off towards the dark mass, sliding down into the crater. And when I was close enough they came to a halt. Reaching out carefully I touched what seemed to be the face of the first shadow and the flecks of gold melted from its structure into my hand then dissolved completely.
As this happened the shadow disintegrated completely like dust and all at once the others reached out eagerly, trying to touch any part of me they could and soon, I was swallowed in darkness. It came as a dull ache at first in my chest and then it grew and burned flooding my veins, the pain.
I cried out feeling each touch like the passing wind, it was overwhelming, it was too much. I heard the others voices rise in alarm but I could not make out what they were saying as I fell to my knees in the darkness and when I thought I could not take it anymore it ended.
The darkness began to fall away like dust settling and though the pain had begun to subside it lingered there burning away under my skin. A low sobbing reached my ear while my body spasmed every few seconds beyond my control.
“Damn it, Olivia! Answer me, whats wrong!“Ignis voice rang as she knelt down to where I was clutching at my shoulders. The spasms soon stopped and so did the sobbing and my eyes refocused on her face etched with worry.
“Are you crazy! Are you ok?” she scolded now. I nodded slowly coming back to my senses. Her tense body relaxed a bit as she looked me over. I looked beyond her but the others were nowhere to be seen.
“What happened to the others?” I asked.
“They took off after seeing that you were ok, and not being ripped apart by the Siths and all. They saw Erdos leave with a few Aelfe after the darkness cleared.” She explained, “I think we should stay here, they got this. What were you thinking anyway?”
“Erdos...we can’t let him get away with what he did” I began to argue trying to stand. Ignis stood up suddenly, helping me to my feet. I felt weak and my skin burned dully with her touch as I hissed pulling away.
“Ok, I think chasing after Erdos won’t be such a good idea” she looked past my shoulder a look of relief on her face “plus they’re back already...without Erdos.”
I spun around to meet them. “You didn’t catch him!” I spat looking directly at Ignis and Del.
“He--” Del began, but I cut him off.
“Is it because he’s your Uncle, you can’t feel sorry for him after this can you?” the siblings looked at each other stunned then back at me.
“When were you going to tell me? Or better question why did you want to hide that from me? Don’t answer that, I know, so you could use me until you got what you wanted which was Erdos and you lost him, I’m confused honestly.”
“We didn’t let him go, he got away. Voy and Alen were there” Kelu spoke up defensively. “Olivia, we...I didn’t mean to lie to you and trust me Del had nothing to do with this, he was going to tell you but--”
“I told her not to” Shines voice came from a distance. They advanced from behind Sonny by her side and the patrol not far behind them. “I gave her an order that she followed and with good reason. You were so emotionally involved with them, I was afraid that the news would distract you from your duties.
“I wouldn’t have cared!” I shouted at her.
“Oh really, look at you now. What if I told you that it was Erdos who killed your mother would you have so willingly worked with them? Any sane Aelfe would have” my blood boiled instantly at the mention of my mother.
“Youuuu, you did it! You were the ones who killed my mother!” I accused both Shine and Sonny unable to control the disgust that filled my voice and once I had said the words there was no stopping the rest about to follow.
“You didn’t even give her a choice, you destroyed her then forced her to leave!” My body trembled with rage as I spat every word, Sonny’s face held no guilt which made me even angrier.
“How dare you try to tell me who I am? Any sane person would have left you for dead. You’re welcome by the way, problem solved. Ignis and I are leaving and we are never coming back” I finished giving Ignis a look.
“Wait! Olivia, you can’t be serious” Del protested in disbelief.
A look of confusion was etched on the face of each Aelfe that stood amongst us now.
The patrol tensed as if preparing to stop us. Shine held up her hand then, signaling them to back down, then she stepped forward an unreadable expression on her face,“you should listen to the boy Olivia. I admit that those were challenging times but we must put those feelings aside and realize whats at stake here” she began “Erdos has escaped and who knows--”
A wild short laugh escaped my lips, momentary mania I believed, they were unbelievable. “Are you serious? Close your portals after we’re gone, I did my duty what more do you want from me?” I questioned in disbelief.
“Olivia! If you would just let us sit down and have a serious conversation...we could talk about this in a more civil manner” Shine insisted her voice holding a sharp tone I had never experienced from her.
“Well, I’m sorry I can’t, you lost that chance grandma, when you banished us nineteen years ago, remember.”