Dark Paradise- Book 1

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8. Mother

The confines of my room felt foreign as I looked around at the books and laundry strewn here and there instead sunlight and lush grass fields and the scent of wood and earth. “So this is where you live huh, thought it would be more... habitable” Ignis criticized as she brushed away laundry, clearing a spot for herself on the bed.

I sat down at my desk ignoring her as I stared blankly at my cell which of course was dead. I felt drained and I bowed my head resting it on my arms that no longer burned at the touch. “I know you might not be in the mood to talk but what happened out there?” Ignis inquired.

I let out a weary breath my mind replaying the events of today. “The Sith’s, I think wanted me to take their pain, I could feel it...what they’d gone through, I think I set them free.” I mused. I dragged my body upward searching now for my charger.

“Well whatever it was, it was fricking scary, you were there one minute then covered in those things the next. One big cloud of darkness and you were screaming jeez I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it. Del he...” she trailed off suddenly.

“Anyway, we’ll have to find my... Maekenzie ” she began again after a moment “I’m sure she’ll be excited to see me.” She said sarcastically. I turned to look at her.

“I’m sure she will be happy to see you” I assured smiling gently “and maybe she can help us with finding Erdos” I added.

“You’ve decided to try and stop him then, I’m sure the Elders would be pleased” she stated sourly.

“I’m not doing this for them” I clarified without hesitation “you heard what Shine said, Erdos was the one who killed my mother and clearly he had been after me, I was right there and he didn’t do anything.”

“Well Erdos is a psycho but I don’t think he would be crazy enough to try and target a Seilie especially with all of us there, he’s not a Nematon” she explained.

“Then he must have had something up his sleeve and I’m going to find out what.” The door burst open suddenly and Leah’s head popped in surprise on her face.

A wave of relief suddenly washed over me as she made her way over to embrace me not noticing Ignis. I hugged her tightly and then she pulled away a mixture of disapproval and relief on her face. “What are phones for?” she scolded “you better have an amazing explanation for where you were for the past few days.”

I pulled her in once more for a hug. “I do and I have so much to tell you. How did you even know I was here?” I asked curiously.

“I saw you rushing across the campus with my replacement I can only guess...” she began, sounding a bit jealous. I pulled her away turning to face Ignis.

“Leah this is my cousin Ignis.”

*** *** ***

After Leah recovered from her embarrassment in front of Ignis she excused us from the room closing the door behind her while she leaned on it trying to wrap her head around what I had just told her. “I’m confused how can you have a cousin?” she whispered all the while glancing over at Ignis.

I nodded looking at her seriously. “My aunt Mae has a daughter” I answered.

“Oh wow, I ....where has she been all this time?” Leah wondered still whispering although I was sure Ignis could hear her but pretended not to.

“They became separated after unavoidable circumstances,” I said not wanting to get into the details at the moment, Leah’s brows knitted suspiciously. “I know my father” I blurted out.

“Oh mygosh Oli, what the hell, where were you, at a family reunion? A cousin, your father what next are you going to have a sister too?” she exaggerated looking flustered. Her voice had returned to its normal volume.

“It’s a very long story, one we really don’t have time for right now, have you heard from my aunt?” I asked knowing that one must have contacted the other in my absence.

She stared at me amazed, “have I heard from your aunt?” she began “you mean your sweet aunt Mae who called me about fifty times freaking out about not hearing from you!”

“That’s great!” I exclaimed relived. “When was the last time you heard from her? What did she say?” I queried eagerly.

Her eyes widened regarding me with a disapproving glare. “No, you don’t get to be the one to ask all the questions here! You left without saying anything and why is your aunt worried?” she questioned sounding more defiant than angry.

“If I told you that my life was in danger would you just tell me already?” I pressed.

“What?” she scoffed incredulously “no your life can’t be in danger, your grades might be though. You’re a college student weeks behind on notes, who would want to get involved with that?”

I gave her a glowering stare before I replied, “as I’ve said there is so much that has happened and I promise I will tell you everything but you must tell me what aunt Mae said.”

“She just asked where you were a bunch of times, she gave me an address and she said that once I saw you I shouldn’t let you out of my sight.” Leah listed.

“An address? To where?” I asked sure that’s where she must be.

“I’m not giving, I’m sorry Oli. I know once you get it you’ll want to leave without telling me what’s going on. I suggest you call your aunt.” She stated firmly. I gave up knowing that once Leah’s mind was set pushing her would only make her less reluctantly to comply.

“She told me not to call” I informed her “but ok I’ll call”. She nodded opening the door and waiting until I got inside.

Ignoring the notifications at the moment I punched in my aunt’s number and listened as it rung time after time and no answer. I gave Leah a look of ‘I told you so’ when my aunt picked up her voice cautious.

“Olivia?” she answered. I was too stunned to answer at first and then she called out my name again, prompting a reply.

“Aunt Mae” I stuttered out.

“Oh thank goodness” she gushed “I have been trying to get through to you on endless occasions, don’t tell me you’ve met with those dreadful people?” she questioned.

“You mean...Aelfe?” I asked uncertainly. I waited nervously for her reply, it felt as though once she had admitted to the existence of Aelfe I could somehow get some closure regarding my experience over the past week.

“Yes,” she replied her voice heavy. “I wanted to be the one to introduce you to all this, but then I spotted those nosy creatures by your mother’s house. I knew I had to take action, get all the preparations together in case anything should happen to me” she explained.

I didn’t know what to say. I had so much to tell her and so much I wanted to hear in return. I wanted to tell her that I knew about my grandparents and my father and who had killed my mother, instead, I said: “Ignis is with me.”

There was a long heavy pause and I took the phone away from my ear momentarily to see if the call had ended. “Aunt Mae?” I prompted her.

“Ignis” she breathed her voice filled with emotion. “Can I at least, hear her voice?” she asked sounding somewhat fearful and I wondered if Ignis would refuse.

I turned to Ignis who sat up watching me openly like a deer caught in the headlights. I assumed she was as nervous as her mother was. “She wants to speak with you,” I told her holding the phone out to her.

She looked at the phone in my hand longingly at first and then her expression became hooded, she swallowed turning away from me. Her voice shook as she spoke, “Tell Maekenzie, that if she wishes to speak to me, she should at least have the decency to do it face to face this time.”

I had not expected her response. “You can’t be serious?” I asked her confused my arm still outstretched.

She looked back at me now as she stood “I am. She waited nineteen years before deciding to speak to me, I think she should take some more time to decide if that’s what she really wants now” her words were final as marched out of the room slamming the door as she went.

I blinked pulling the phone back to my ear “I’m sorry Aunt Mae” I offered sympathetically.

“It’s fine” she started her voice firm “I’ll have plenty of time to mend things with Ignis once this over. Now tell me everything that happened since the day you found out who you are?”

*** *** ***

19 years ago in Elvaraz ...

“Ignis what did I tell you about playing with fire?” Maekenzie asked her daughter fixing her with a reprimanding glare.

Ignis giggled dousing the flame she held in her palm “I can’t help it, it’s so pretty” she argued.

“Well if you don’t listen to mommy we’ll get separated by those miserable Elders and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that now would you?” she questioned Ignis seriously.

“Ok, I won’t I promise” Ignis assured her. An angry cry rang out suddenly and Maekenzie hurried off to the room across from the one she had been in and within moments out again to retrieve the pieces of cloths, she had left behind.

“Mommy is that the baby?” Ignis asked curiously.

“Yes dear” she replied in a hurry closing the door behind her as she disappeared into the room. Ignis waited patiently listening. Another cry rang out soon after, as shrill as the last.

“Gloria calm down, you’re in no position to move right now, please hold your daughter and we’ll take care of the rest” a gentle male voice ordered.

“Nyx please!” Gloria’s voice pleaded as if begging for her own life. Moment’s later Nyx rushed out of the room a bundle in his hands, Maekenzie behind him.

“I should be the one to go “she protested holding unto his shoulder “you need to be here for Gloria, you know how your parents are--”

“This is my daughter Maekenzie and I will not let my parent’s foolish beliefs get in the way of saving her” he stated firmly as he pulled away rushing through the door. Maekenzie turned to her daughter with sad eyes as if she were about to cry.

“Is there another baby? I heard her crying” Ignis asked her mother.

Maekenzie bit her lip sadly and then answered, “no dear, that was just your Aunt Gloria, she’s been through a lot.”

“But if she has a baby shouldn’t she be happy?” Ignis asked innocently waiting for her mothers’ response.

~the day of Gloria’s banishment...

“Listen to me, I’ll need you to be quick Ignis, you must get this to your father” Maekenzie instructed her daughter as she pressed the handmade flint lighter into Ignis’s palm along with a rolled up sheet of parchment.

Ignis nodded in understanding not wanting to disappoint her mother “And please listen to your father until I get back” Maekenzie urged.

She pulled her daughter close not wanting to let her go but knowing she had to. Maekenzie wiped a stray tear quickly before letting go of her daughter and giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.

She watched as Ignis smiled at her and then took off running to where her father lay, she spun heading off towards the abandoned forest. She had volunteered to take part in her sisters’ banishment or so the Elders thought.

Maekenzie then took off knowing that she would have to watch her sister suffer more than she already had. She was halfway there when a figure stepped out of the darkness of the trees the sight of him giving her an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, one that is only felt when surrounded by an aura that was as sinister as Erdos’s.

“What do you want?” Maekenzie asked her guard up.

“Isn’t the great Nyx going with?” Erdos questioned his tone as slippery as a snake. “Oh that’s right I forgot he’s dead... or is he?

“I don’t have time for this, now move or I will move you” Maekenzie threatened. Erdos smiled as if trying to hold back a great secret.

His eyes held hers as he stepped aside to give her passage”Yes, run away Maekenzie, even as a Nematon you are weak against the Elders and yet you fail to listen to what I have to say.” he teased.

“I know it was you who led the Venator Vermin to Elme and has rumored otherwise if I had the time I’d end you here, but I am in a hurry lucky for you. And trust me when I say, Erdos, you will get what’s coming to you tenfold if not more” Maekenzie spat giving him one last poisonous look before continuing on her way.

A piercing scream filled the air, one Erdos knew too well. It was the scream of an Aelfe who was experiencing a fate worse than death.

*** *** ***

Ignis hurried into her fathers’ room shaking him out of his weak slumber. “Dad, I think mommy’s in trouble she told me to give you this,” she said offering the flint and paper in her hands out to him once he came around and was able to pull himself into a sitting position.

Stein covered his daughters outstretched hands with his sadly a knowing look in his eyes. “It’s for you Ignis,” he said simply.

Ignis mouth pouted in certainty before she corrected him calmly “no it isn’t, I know what she said.”

“And you’re right dear,” he sighed heavily looking into her eyes her gaze resolute “could you read it and tell me what It says,” Ignis’s father asked her kindly. She nodded without delay as she hurriedly rolled out the paper.

“Dear Ignis...” she began confidently at first but now her face was filled with confusion as she went on.

My lovely daughter, I promise I will be back for you. You may be too young to understand why, but please believe me when I say, that I have not abandoned you and that I need you to be strong and wait patiently until I return. Please take care of your father and do nothing to disfavor the Elders. I must ask one more thing of you my brave princess, destroy this letter and go to the Elders to let them know of my plans to leave the realm and once they see where your loyalty lies they will care for you and your father in my absence.

I love you,

Mother.

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