[Chapter Thirty Five]
Snow gently pattered from the greying clouds. Salvesta slithered up to Olivia and coiled around Exiron’s horn, the same one Olivia leaned against. She greeted him with a soft smile and glanced back to Raegel. He seemed to enjoy some space of his own by sitting backward in Olivia’s seat with his feet on his. He leaned against the handlebar with his hands folded behind his head, tapping a rhythm only he knew. Olivia looked ahead again, glad the elf could enjoy himself for once and stroked the dark grey scales on Exiron’s head. The dragon didn’t seem to feel it and yawned loudly, drooping his head slightly.
“How long do you have to fly like this?” Olivia asked, more than concerned for the dragon.
Exiron replied in a gruff voice, ”In another day we will meet the halfway mark,”
Olivia grimaced. “Are you sure we can’t land for a little bit so you can rest?”
"No. If I sleep, I will melt the ice if the sirens do not surprise us first,”
Olivia sighed defeatedly. She wasn’t so sure they would be able to make it across the entire sea without Exiron falling asleep, especially when he was flying. Though the wind helped Exiron stay in the air by letting him both glide and rest his wings for a few moments. He was currently doing it as the wind brushed up behind them and propelled Olivia’s hair over her shoulder. She didn’t mind it and glanced at Salvesta. His yellow eyes were trained ahead, poking out his forked tongue occasionally. Raegel was the same, still in his worship like position.
Sunlight peeked through the snowing clouds and touched the group. Exiron tilted his head up to face the sunshine as did Olivia. It didn’t feel as warm as the sun in Dyunzo, but it certainly made Olivia feel sleepy. She yawned right when Exiron did and his head drooped again. Olivia gasped and quickly grabbed onto his horn. She thought he was doing it for a moment to wake himself up but instead, his body began to follow. His wings didn’t flap or tuck in and the once calm sail turned into a stomach twisting ride as they all began plummeting. The dragon had fallen asleep.
The once flowing wind suddenly became wild and howled in Olivia’s ears. Raegel began screaming and Olivia stomped on Exiron’s head. “Exiron! Wake up! Wake up, Exiron!”
The dragon merely groaned, weakly flapped his wings and they flipped sideways before upside down. Olivia felt light-headed and black circles dotted in the corners of her vision. The icy sea came into view and the girl felt like she was going to puke out the digesting pork.
“Wake up you gigantic lizard! Wake up right now!” Raegel screeched.
The dragon tumbled onto his stomach before going sideways again. Olivia stomped harder on his head, hoping in some way he would feel it and wake up before she lost her grip. Salvesta then spat his venom at Exrion’s head and the purple liquid landed and sunk into the gaps around the scales. Exiron’s eyes snapped open, his body jerked up and he roared angrily. He shook his head, scratching at the gap between his horns and Olivia tried to stay out of the way. She felt her grip slip off his horn and Raegel shouted at her.
The icy sea grew closer and closer and Olivia began hearing the horrible shrieks that echoed from below as Exiron growled in pure exasperation. His body suddenly tilted up and he flew directly up, higher and higher up. Olivia couldn’t hold on any longer — the strong gust of wind pulling her back — and her hands gave way. A short scream ripped her throat, her eyes locked with Raegel’s as his hand was stretched out to her. She didn’t have enough time to reach out when he was carried away on the back of Exiron.
Olivia dropped through a cloud, her cloak wrapping around her body until she couldn’t move her arms freely. She contained the screams bubbling in her throat and breathed short and rapid. Forcing herself to flip over, she met with a hole in the ice, and sirens came jumping out onto the ice. They cracked at the hole, making it larger for more sirens to emerge. She recognized the one she kicked in the face and she couldn’t stop the screams tearing past her lips or the tears blurring her sight. She continued falling, falling closer and dreadfully closer to the death awaiting her.
The one she recognized jumped up, stretched out her slender arms and Olivia braced herself. Exiron suddenly flew beneath her and Raegel grabbed her cloak. Olivia’s body abruptly slammed against Exiron’s back and she groaned loudly, a dull throb making itself present. Exiron roared loudly and soared low to the ground, so low the ice split in his wake, followed by a shrill noise. The dragon only flew faster.
Olivia smiled at a heaving Raegel who tightly wrapped the cloak around his arm. He gave her a breathless smile before it dropped and his eyes widened. Olivia frowned and looked down, her own eyes widening. The siren she recognized was staring straight at her with beady pale eyes. Olivia shot up and the siren’s purple lips twisted into a sinister grin. Her sharp nails dug into the gaps of the dragon’s scales and he gnarled in irritation. He flicked his tail up and swatted the siren off like a bug.
Olivia heard her shrieks drown in the wind and Olivia collapsed with a loud, dragged out groan of relief. Exiron flew up into the loose clouds, slowing to a comfortable speed and tilted his head back. Olivia didn’t answer his call and instead, Raegel gave him his free thumb up.
After the stomach-churning experience, the girl stayed secured in her seat and kept one hand on the handlebar — ignoring the sting her bandages hands gave her. Salvesta had wrapped himself around her for good measure and Raegel. . . the elf was chowing down pork behind her.
“You sure you don’t want any?” Raegel surprisingly offered.
Olivia shook her head, grimacing at a recent memory. “I might puke it up again if I had more,”
“Yeah, I know,” Raegel mumbled. “I just offered because I knew you’d say no,”
Olivia spun her head back and eyed at him skeptically. “Why did you offer then?”
Raegel shrugged. “To make sure I could have more without any fights,” Salvesta hissed at Raegel and the elf gave the snake a smug look. “And I don’t understand snake so I don’t know what you’re saying,”
Before he could react, Salvesta lunged forward and snatched the pork from Raegel’s hand. Raegel screamed in fright and shouted at the snake. Salvesta only swallowed the pork whole and hissed at him once more.
"You best do better than test me, foolish elf,” Exrion answered for Salvesta. ”I was aiming for your neck,”
Olivia tittered at the eye-bulging elf and quipped, “Maybe don’t get on their nerves,”
“Easy for you to say,” he grunted and Olivia laughed at him.
For the rest of the day, until the sun slowly set, Olivia talked to Raegel about her fail cake attempts, he about his fail thief attempts, the funny ones, and Exiron would speak for Salvesta about a snake tying herself into a knot on a tree branch and couldn’t untangle herself. The dragon himself spoke of a time when he pranked his twin brother, Cendric, and blamed his older sister, Tarla, for it.
Olivia didn’t know what brought on the group’s carefree vibe but nevertheless she smiled and laughed alongside Raegel with a chuckling Exiron. They all reminisced about the fun times they each had and to feel a sense of homeyness felt weird to Olivia. She felt a warm sensation bubble in her chest and she didn’t know what it was. She trembled and she didn’t know if it was because she was happy and excited or because of the cold. Either way, she couldn’t stop smiling and Raegel returned a grin.
“I can’t for the elf lords know if you’re shivering from the cold or if you’re just that happy,” Raegel snorted.
Olivia slapped his arm. “I’m cold, you idiot,”
Raegel dropped his jaw and stared at her accusingly. “You were crying and I thought you were sad and you slapped my arm screaming they were happy tears!”
"How can you not tell the difference between a sad and happy expression? I cannot see and yet I hear the happiness you all share,” Exiron quipped and Olivia grinned at the dragon.
Salvesta hissed out a chuckle and Exrion answered, ”No wonder the foolish elf has countless failures. Too blind to be observant,"
“Hiss, hiss, hiss, lizards,” Raegel snapped, crossing his arms like a child.
Olivia laughed. “You remind me of my brother,”
Raegel cocked his brow at her with another smug grin. “As in good looks?”
Olivia scoffed. “Hell, no! My brother, Cly always used to act like a child and you’re doing the same!”
Raegel eyed her with an unimpressed stare and Exiron’s body rumbled with a, by all-mighty, laugh. Olivia smiled at the elf, though part of her ached, thinking about what happened to her brother and whether or not he was alive.
“And where is this, Cly?” Raegel asked with a grunt.
Olivia looked away — her happy demeanor changing — and watched patches of the sea peaking through the clouds. “I don’t know. The last time I saw him was years ago,”
“What happened?” Raegel asked and didn’t hide the curiosity beaming off him.
“I don’t know,” Olivia answered. “I honestly don’t know. One day we were fine, our parents, he and I were okay. We were great. Then one night. . . I don’t know why, but he changed and wasn’t the same. I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. . .”
“He killed someone, didn’t he?” Raegel stated, though more knowingly than ignorantly.
Olivia nodded. “My parents. He thought they were imposters. Believed he and I were demons,”
A humorless choke of laughter escaped Olivia. “Would explain how I survived a year by myself in the forest. I was terrified of him, and his promise,”
"What did he promise, Olivia?” Exiron asked cautiously.
Olivia glanced at Exiron, then at Raegel and shook her head. “A horrible promise. . .”
Young Olivia trembled violently, huddled against a stump of a tree staring at her bloody hands. She desperately scrubbed the blood onto her yellow shirt, her favourite one. Cly’s angry shouts and demands echoed all around her. Young Olivia squeezed herself into the prickly bush beside the tree; tears freely rolling off her cheeks as thorns poked at her arms.
She sniffled, sobs wreaking her throat and young Olivia couldn’t keep it. She cried out loud, jamming her teeth together and gritting them hard, though a forced scream slipped through. She felt so undeniably sad. Was she meant to feel like she wanted to die and follow her parents into heaven? Was she meant to feel angry at her older brother? Was she meant to feel a hot vengeful emotion bubbling within her?
“Olivia! Olivia, come back here. I won’t hurt you!” Cly shouted, he sounded sad too. Why was her older brother sad? Did he miss their parents too? Was he sad because he sent them to heaven? Was he angry at himself as she was?
Men came running past her, some in front of her yet none saw her and she pressed herself further into the bush. Thorns jabbed at her soft skin, one dragging painfully along her cheek. A bloody tear left her cheek and dripped down her face, rolling off her chubby chin.
“Olivia!” Cly roared. It was so close young Olivia screamed in fright.
Her brother came running up to the bush and stopped beside it, looking everywhere and didn’t pay attention to the thorny bush. Young Olivia glanced up at him through the thorns and saw horns sprouting from his head, large black horns. Young Olivia gasped and Cly snapped his head in her direction. His red eyes made another tear dribble down young Olivia’s cheek and it almost seemed he was looking straight at her.
He growled in frustration and sheathed the bloody sword, mother and father’s blood was still on it. Would he use the sword on her? Would he make her join their parents? Cly pulled at his brown hair, the same colour as her hair, and rubbed his face. Young Olivia looked away, she didn’t want to see the blood smeared on his face, or the strange black horns growing from his head, or the red eyes that looked like an animal.
“Olivia!” Cly called. “Olivia, I know you can hear me,”
Young Olivia tensed. She pulled her knees to her chest and buried her face inside.
“When I find you, and I WILL find you, sister, I will make you regret running from me. I will show you that I am the only one you can trust. Do you hear me?! I am the only one you can trust!”
Young Olivia bit on her tongue and quivered, forcing her head to stay down as silent tears soaked her blue trousers.
“I promise you this, Olivia, my dear little sister. . .”
A warm tear slid down Olivia’s cheek and she frowned, wiping it away. Raegel stared at her, Exiron and Salvesta were quiet and Olivia weakly smiled. “It’s funny, I can’t even remember what he said. I think I passed out,”
Raegel frowned at her. “You don’t remember? After all of that, you can’t remember?”
Olivia shrugged her shoulders. “I was only nine when it happened. My childhood is foggy after that. I can’t even remember that year in the forest,”
Raegel looked like he was going to say something but instead kept his words in his mouth, part of Olivia was grateful because she didn’t want him knowing, or Exiron, or Salvesta. She knew the promise her murderous brother said to her that night, it burned in her mind and it had been repeating itself over and over again for the past eleven years. She couldn’t forget or change his words; like the touch of it burned her.
Shades of blue darkened the sky, grey clouds loomed above them and Olivia looked at them. Cly couldn’t be dead. The only fantasy she believed was real in Limrock were demons. And nothing could kill them. Cly was a demon and he undoubtedly was alive. She only hoped he thought she was dead and forgot about her.
The group remained quiet, but Olivia’s mind was screaming at her, howling with rage and misery and nothing could silence it. Nothing could silence the turmoils swirling inside her, the anguish clenching her heart, or the fear pulsing beneath her skin.
“I promise you this, Olivia, my dear little sister. . . when I find you, I will kill you, and you will be reborn as a demon. We will be together forever, Olivia. Do you hear me?! I will turn you into a demon! I will make you my dear little demon sister!”