A week passes and no one has any answers to Kaelyn’s whereabouts. All we knew was that she disappeared the second day they had been secured in the laboratory and neither Gems nor scientists could figure out where she had vanished too.
However even though Kaelyn was a mystery for the moment, the Seraphine Rebellion Squadron was thriving despite her absence.
It was just after dinner, and I was viewing our camp from a wooden deck adorned in flowers – curtesy of Celeste. I was high up in the tree tops, sitting with my legs dangling over the edges of the deck.
Down below the ruins of our old hide out were alight with torches of fire. The whole place was reinvigorated with life. Small huts on the ground, houses in the trees, a fire pit in the middle with girls celebrating with food, dancing and making traditional weapons.
Dark Gems could control inanimate objects with their mind, so we made weapons from Celeste’s magic – which in turn could not be controlled. In other words, if a spear was made from a natural tree it would be useless in a fight but if we made it through Celeste’s magic we could use it against the Dark Gems.
Except, perhaps Traegr who was so totally in tune with her magic that he could harness the magical objects for himself. He was the last man on our mind for the moment, however.
Everyone had their memories back and we had been rejoicing all week that we were all finally reunited.
For years on Kiyr we had attempted to free all the girls from the Golden Palace and now was the first time we had succeeded. After 1000 years of our absence, Seraphine’s miraculous return was the reason we out-witted the Dark Gems and got what we asked for. Not to mention, we used their own weapon against them; Light Restraints.
The irony to the way we finally won some freedom, was not lost on the girls and we often joked about it.
The Dark Gems were alone once more, and we were un-interrupted due to the Diamond presence around us. If we stepped foot outside this hideout we’d be vulnerable. However, none of us had left the perimeters except Seraphine to occasionally check on what the Dark Gems were up to.
For the moment it seemed they were content with waiting back and Seraphine was confident they were going to wait for us to come to them.
“Would you like some desert?” I hear Celeste’s call as she walks her way up to the deck, smiling as she slides under the wooden railing of the viewing platform. She sits next to me and offers me a handful of purple glowing berries.
“You are always looking out for me, thanks,” I take the berries from her, glad she finally looked happy. Strands of her hair were held back with flowers and leaves running through little plaits, her skirt was made of vines like the vines covering her chest. She seemed completely in her element – literally glowing with confidence.
“That’s what friends are for,” Celeste slithers back behind me and starts plaiting my own hair without even asking, “I need to ask you a favour, Sapphire – but I need you to hear me out first before you respond.”
“Of course, anything.”
When I told my best friend what I wanted her to do, she wasn’t happy. But she gives into helping me anyway because she understood.
I was a respected user of the Earth here in this camp; the girls called me the best and the most powerful Earth user. They all came to me for weapons, food, herbal potions for healing wounds or illnesses, housing materials and sometimes just their favourite flowers.
I loved helping the girls but I could never get much time to myself.
Now I wanted to go for a walk – outside the diamond fields.
I needed Sapphire to distract the girls from my absence, especially Seraphine. I knew she would forbid me to leave.
However, I was being called forth to do my healing of the forest. No one would really understand except Earth users. I had an intuition and a pull towards the deepest parts of the forest, especially on nights of the full moon. I would go to trees that needed healing and to plants that were struggling with their growth while being shrouded in amongst the larger flora.
Instinctively my magic would pull me towards the plants that were most in need. Even as a child I had wondered out late at night through the forest surrounding my home village, just to make sure the forest was okay.
Earth magic was nothing like fire, or water or air. Instead of feeling a need to expel large quantities of building power in my cells – I had a desire to heal. In turn my senses were heightened. I could smell every different perfume of the forest, I could see details of tiny almost microscopic bugs, fruit tasted sweeter and the air even had a sweet taste of its own.
I loved my magic. Magic like Seraphine’s fire scared me a bit, but she harnessed it respectfully which is why I respected her.
“Thank you,” I mouth the words to Sapphire, who sees me off past the last patch of diamond soil.
She nods and slowly backs away, her job was to distract Seraphine and the girls from my absence.
I would only be gone a couple of hours.
As soon as I’m alone, I smile to myself as I let out a long exhale before I start my journey through the trees. I lay my hands on the flora that needs healing, my stomach clenching when I pass a plant in pain. In return my body would feel relaxed and more at ease each time I had finished sharing my magic with the flora.
As I go along, I start to hear the creeping of tiny bugs happily wandering along the forest floor and the tree branches, or fluttering between flowers. I witness the leaves of the different flora shining in the moon light and glinting with drops of rain from earlier in the afternoon.
I was completely at home here and I felt extremely safe.
I was not fearful of Dark Gems – although I really should be. I was so at ease that I felt like nothing could bring down my mood.
I eventually spend an hour or more of safe wonderings, when I come to an abrupt halt as I see a naturally crooked tree in the distance. I instantly grin, I knew exactly where I was! It was one of my favourite, hidden springs. It wasn’t too far from the river, and it had warm clear water surrounded by boulders.
I’m so excited that I’ve stumbled across one of my most cherished places. I slowly walk forward and pray it is still here. When I round a bend of overgrown shrubs, I push through and find the spring exactly as I remembered.
Soft mud, warm stones and glittering clear water.
“This is a dream,” I whisper, I couldn’t believe it was still the same. Tears come to my eyes as I walk forward and lean down, wading a hand through the warm water.
I slide straight into the pool, while wearing my vines, knowing I’ll dry off quickly on the long walk back anyway. I wade through the spring, completely in my element; Sapphire’s element.
I smile as I think I should show her this place. I had always told her about it but had never shown her.
I want to stay longer but I know it is dangerous to stay in one spot for too long, so I decide to finally pull myself out of the spring.
But it is at that moment that I see a shadowy figure residing in the edges of the nearby forest.
It is not a girl – it is clearly a Dark Gem. I quickly find my feet and wait for the shadowy figure to move. Instead I hear a voice.
“I knew you’d come here eventually,” it was Traegr.
I let out a shaky breath, wanting to run but finding myself frozen to the spot. He starts coming forward until the moonlight confirms it is the King of the Dark Gems.
“How?” I ask, it might be a stupid question but I was nervous. I didn’t want to fight him – but I might have to.
“You always came here on a full moon, always, Celeste,” Traegr seems unthreatening as he appears alone and stops his approach once he is in the vicinity of the spring, but keeps a few metres between us. I nervously glance up and down his torso and his face, the scars haunting me as much as they haunted him.
I pretended to hate him in front of Seraphine and told Sapphire how I despised him sometimes. But it was just a façade to how I really felt for the sadistic King.
Despite everything and all the messed up stories, I loved him; King of the Dark Gems.
“Are you alone?” I ask, quietly, dropping my arms by my side after nervously grabbing my elbow with my other hand. I didn’t want to appear too nervous.
Traegr takes a while to reply and looks me up and down slowly, assessing my actions. Eventually his eyes soften and he takes a step forward onto a nearby rock, moving slowly all the while, his hands raised to show no weapons.
I watch him curiously as he slowly sits down to watch over the water in the spring, his arms over his knees, one hand clasping his other wrist.
“I am not accompanied tonight, Celeste,” Traegr finally answers my question, “I simply checked to see if you’d come here and I was right.”
I do not answer, transfixed by his presence. He was so close and we were alone.
“Are you okay?” I ask eventually, also slowly lowering myself down onto my knees, in the mud, keeping my distance, “I sense sadness from you.”
“It’s not sadness you sense,” he growls but I don’t know if he is lying or not.
I furrow my eyebrows while I think.
“Do you... do you feel betrayed, my King?” I instantly cringe at the term I give him without thinking that I am free of him. Argh, how embarrassing, already forgetting the circumstances.
He does not answer but I see a flash of humour in his eyes and a small, almost non-existent tilt to the corner of his mouth. He loved it when I was nervous, or if I stuttered –he had always told me it was adorable.
The memories make me blush and as he watches over the spring without approaching me, I make a decision that I am safe.
I slowly rise to my feet and walk over to his side. I’m impressed he doesn’t move an inch as he lets me move closer on my own accord. I slowly reach for the scars on his left side of his face and neck, as I get down onto my knees once more, running my fingers over the marks.
I want to heal them.
“No use trying, Celeste, like a limb being amputated, scars cannot be healed... they are permanent,” he says this quietly while I continue to feel the damage done by my hand when it had moved on that spaceships’ throttle.
“When we left I didn’t know if you – I mean ...I didn’t know you’d come running. I had no idea. When I wanted to leave with the other girls it was because I had no idea if... you loved me... or just wanted to keep me around... as a toy for your desire and entertainment. You were so cruel those last few months, to me and to your Princess...” I mention Sapphire not with jealousy but with concern. She was my best friend and if he hurt her, it impacted on me, he knew how much I cared for her.
“I will not force you back with me tonight, Celeste,” Traegr answers, “You can go.”
I’m annoyed he will not answer me but Traegr hated to admit weakness and to him love was just that.
I want to yell at him and tell him to admit to me the truth; how he felt about me. But I didn’t believe yelling would help.
Kindness can go a long way.
And I could still feel his immense anger about the betrayal.
“You will be okay... my King, I promise,” it’s the only words I can think of to say. As I lean in to kiss his cheek, he suddenly turns into me and cups my face in his hands instead, locking his lips with mine.
I instantly feel blissfully full of warmth and I lean into him further, biting his bottom lip and wanting to kiss him more deeply – but he is the first to pull back.
I’m left almost panting with want as he keeps a hand still on my cheek, his thumb running across my cheek bone.
“Until next time, my little sweetling,” he mutters and smiles before he takes his hand away from my cheek, rising to his feet while I remain on my knees, full of mixed emotions, “Although next time I might not be so gentle...” as he turns to walk away I feel flushed with hot blood and an aching chest.
I hated what love did to me but I... I found it hard to watch him leave. I wanted him.
Eventually the cold air of the forest cools me off as it breezes past my wet body. I shake my head, trying to shake out my feelings as I get to my feet.
This is what he wanted. To confuse me.
I turn around and tell myself that, over and over again, as I walk back. It’s just a game, don’t buy into it, don’t listen to him, don’t trust him.
But deep down I could not fool myself, no matter how much I tried.
As much as he was messed up, I hoped one day I could be back with him. Hopefully at a peaceful resolution – which was unlikely. But I just wanted him – no...!
I continue my mantra all the way back to the hideout, desperate to believe it.
...don’t trust him, he doesn’t truly love you, he only cares about power, don’t believe him, don’t trust him, don’t trust him, he doesn’t love you...