Rawk is behind a blizzard, trying to walk through and unable to make progress. Every step he takes, he’s pushed back. When he tries to strive ahead further, the wind becomes stronger.
“Rawk?” I ask, as if I’m in an empty room, watching on, my voice is too quiet, “Rawk!”
He pauses and looks up, confused, while a strange light shows tears gracing his cheeks. His black scarred face is cracked apart skin, leaking golden light like Storm’s Broken Fire that consistently flows from his cheek.
“Rawk!” when I try and scream his name, it’s a mere whisper in my dreams.
Rawk looks ahead and keeps walking, still going no where. Nothing. No end. He is walking to nowhere.
I feel myself edging to consciousness, just as I see icy blue eyes flying through the blizzard. Then; golden burnt eyes and violet eyes. Jinx, Storm and Silver pass Rawk as if he isn’t even there.
And then I gasp in a breath.
I wake up on a rock slab with golden burnt eyes staring down at me, inches from me, his nose touching mine. Not Rawk. Zoraul.
“You killed him,” Zoraul whispers, almost like a poetic caress across my cheeks, “...you killed my brother... you killed a mate... he’s a corpse. Soon Rawk will waste away and we’ll both forget what he looks like. We’ll forget everything about him. Because. You. Killed. Him.”
I am breathing in fast, while a little whine sounds from my throat - not me. I see a baby golden head snap up and watch me, Snoot-Snoot is cooeing to me and baring her teeth at Zoraul. Zoraul ignores her existence.
I can’t say a word with my last mate staring at me like that - like I was next. Like I was about to die for my crime of choosing.
"Look,” Zoraul grabs my cheek and stands back, forcing me to turn my head and stare at Rawk’s pale white body, blue lips, dried blood... like a ghost slowly fading away into nothing, “You. Chose. This!”
I am already shaking at his rage and I’m certain I’m about to die. He releases my cheek and as I look to Zoraul, he is still watching me like I’m a monster. I’m waiting for him to snap my neck - it’d kill him too - but would he even care? However, he just glares, his mind racing, his eyes fidgeting - until the intense silence is broken by laughter.
Zoraul’s snarl is wiped off his face, he steps back away from me and I don’t know why he looks so petrified.
Bezzel stays curled up in my neck, not moving.
“Thank you,” I jerk my head to the side to see Bezzel’s mother standing by the wall, in the shadows, “You saved her life and now she’s your own daughter - you deserve her, Minx. She is yours,” the mother lowers her head and starts to walk for the entrance.
“Wait!” I gasp but she doesn’t stop and Bezzel snuggles into my skin closer as if she’s agreeing with her mother.
This wasn’t right.
I turn back to Zoraul and I watch as Storm walks up to the doorway with Silver, kissing her on the cheek.
“...please stop,” Silver half heartedly smiles at Storm and he looks over his shoulder as another female walks forward.
“There’s never any reckless spelling without...” this young lady has the icy blue eyes... Jinx! She is alive and in this world, wearing a tattered grey dress, with a necklace holding a grey scale. She walks in the doorway and first see’s Zoraul’s pale face... and then Rawk’s dead body, “...payment...” Jinx hisses the word.
“Mother?” Zoraul whispers the word but Jinx holds up a hand, refusing to look at him a second time.
“What in the name of the Sky Gods?” Storm peers in, “Why is Rawk...” Storm, so old and legendary - is in complete denial as he stares at one of his sons, dead. Silver goes green in the face and turns to run away and throw up - just like Zoraul had not long before.
“Why is my baby dead?” Jinx asks this innocently, strolling around Rawk’s body casually, she comes to my stone slab, sniffing like a predator working out the source of the problem. She hovers above me and tilts her head, “Guilty?” she is reading my aura.
“I made a bargain,” I answer, “I could only save one. Little Bezzel... or... or...”
I look past Jinx’s flaming eyes to watch Storm, who is watching me with either appreciation or indifference. However, he looks too shaken and doesn’t have any words to speak.
“Do not hurt her,” Silver comes running back in, past Zoraul to Jinx, “It’s my fault...” Bezzel snarls from my neck at Silver and looks ready to attack her own sister, “I killed Bezzel. I didn’t think this would happen. It’s all my fault, not Minxs’!”
“Everyone shut up,” Jinx turns to Silver and literally grabs her chin, closing her jaw, “Enough, sister.”
Jinx turns down to me and reaches up a hand to Bezzel, who stills, as Jinx uses a finger to trail the tip over Bezzel’s snout, as if to pet her.
“You...” Jinx growls at me, leaning in, “...are very lucky. Rawk will be proud of you for choosing the defenceless babe over an adult.... you did well enough, do better next time... or I’ll haunt you...” Jinx grins her sharp teeth over me and I feel entranced - like she might just be playing with me before she rips my throat out.
“Jinx,” Storm growls from the doorway.
“Lover, don’t even try to choose - this is my decision as a mother,” Jinx stands back, runs a hand through Silver’s hair and then steps around her twin sister to press a hand to Zoraul’s cheek, “You be good,” Jinx barely glances at Zoraul, as if she might change her mind if she stares too long. Zoraul gulps and says nothing. Jinx walks up to Storm, then slaps him as hard as she can across the cheek, “Do better, ′legend’,” she scoffs the word while grinning at Storm, then she walks around to Rawk and yanks off her necklace.
Storm stays still while Silver and Zoraul hold onto each other’s elbows.
Jinx stares at Rawk’s icy body and her hard resolve breaks into tears, flowing down her cheeks as she leans down and presses a light kiss to his blue lips and murmurs under her breath, ”...mortem aeternam..." Eternal death, ”...ego enim dabo vobis..." I give for you.
And then Jinx leans up only to stab herself in the chest, right through her heart with the grey scale.
I jerk up from my slab of rock so I’m now sitting, and Bezzel chirps loudly.
No blood leaks because Jinx’s body falls apart in blue and silver mist and that mist explodes into light. It was a ritual - a spell. The light of her sacrifice falls into Rawk’s wounds and starts sealing them up. His body glows.
Jinx is gone again.
The room is dead silent as Rawk continues to heal with the spell and a warm colour returns to his skin.
Storm, Zoraul and I say nothing.
Silver, however, speaks as if she is still the guilty one, “...you killed Jinx all those centuries ago...” she turns to Storm, who shakes his head at her ramblings and goes to grab her to him in a hug, “...now I’m the reason she’s gone...”
“Is she a Sprite again, though?” I ask, my brand warming against my back.
Jinx did suggest she may haunt me.
“Eternal death is exactly what it sounds like,” Storm growls out, “...mortem aeternam... Jinx would have done this 100 times over, anyway, no one could have stopped this choice of hers. As Rawk heals we have one more problem... you made a deal, Minx, didn’t you?”
“A favour for a favour - anything. I promised the mage anything,” I admit.
Zoraul can’t even look me in the eye.
“She may ask you to kill one of us and you will be cursed to do so...” Storm speaks gravely, “...but I suggest you hunt her down and give her a reason to beg for her life, trick her out of the favour by asking it sooner,” Storm raises a brow at me, before glancing at Zoraul, “Don’t disrespect your mate for her decision, she chose correctly,” Storm growls this out through gritted teeth, “A babe who can not choose, with no say - comes first. Always. Besides... I was not aware Silver murdered a babe,” Storm slowly looks down at Silver, “...to try and help me... do not think tears will save a swift and prolonged punishment for your reckless choices.”
Silver keeps her head down, wordless.
They disappear into a different realm without a good bye.
“Space,” Zoraul whispers to me without looking at me, “Go and give me some space with my brother.”
“Go or my rage will be unleashed -”
"Rawk’s alive -”
“And my mother is dead,” Zoraul holds up a hand.
I step off the rock and walk past his form, gulping down my own emotion as I stop in the doorway.
“Will you ever forgive me?” I ask without turning around.
“Never,” Zoraul doesn’t even hesitate, “And even if Rawk does and no doubt will forgive you, I’ve already made my decision. You can do what you like, Minx. But I will not remain near you until I decide I can handle this... this situation that’s arisen between the three of us.”
“I love my brother but he can have you,” Zoraul scoffs, “And he can praise you. But with me you will only find the opposite. Don’t seek to be around me. Leave me be. When Rawk is healed, you can go to him for training. I want nothing to do with you. Nothing.”
Bezzel chirps out a complaint for me, probably because she felt my blood pump in a nervous jolt up my neck - my heart stopping... then erratically beating again after his rejection.
“...little terrors... get out and keep your distance,” Zoraul barely murmurs the warning as I walk away.
I take each step with unclear footing.
I was now indebted to an evil mage for one favour.
My brand had changed from icy cool to blazing hot due to Zoraul’s temper.
Rawk was alive.
Zoraul hated my guts.
And apparently I had a new daughter.
I had no idea what to do now, to fix this disaster.