Her Fated Haunting

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Chapter 9

“Elyse.”

Someone was softly whispering her name. Quiet, so very quiet that she would think she was merely imagining it only to hear it again, spoken in the same tender, hushed manner, as if one would utter a prayer beseeching for a miracle.

Her name had never sounded so sweet. Or perhaps it was the voice which made it so. It was familiar, that she could tell. And it was a he. Some hidden instinct assured her of this.

“Elyse.”

There it was again. Something intangible, as if the source were underwater. Yet, whoever he was, he was far away. A distance her mortal mind could not comprehend. It seemed like eons of time or realms of space separated them, keeping them from each other. Someone had told her it was so for her protection, her mind provided.

“No, let me in,” he said.

Would it be so wrong to do just what the mystery person had suggested? It was hard to find a reason to deny him, especially when she was not awake. Only in dreamland could her right leg finally stop hurting.

“Elyse, set me free. Let me help you.”

More warmth spread to her being, the elusive voice now sounding closer. It seemed the longer she allowed him contact, the more powerful he became. A warning bell set off in her head. That was wrong. Someone had warned her about this.

“No, Elyse.”

She remembered now. This had happened before. The connection needed to be severed. As the nights before, she willed her mind to awaken, to escape this deceiving sense of peace. Concentrating hard, imagining her real self sleeping in the chilly dormitory, her legs tangled underneath her warm blanket, the feet always stuck outside the bed, she focused on her toes. She just needed to move one and she would free. Her strategy had never failed so far.

“No.”

She had previously done this, but for some reason it was becoming harder and harder to escape him. And he was always there, lurking and getting closer. She tried severing the connection between her and the mystery person, but he would not let go. Elyse gave it another try, giving her all. This time, she could feel his hand grasping her own before she –

Elyse jerked up, wide awake. Hands still shaking, her fingers automatically found the cloth she had prepared the evening before on her nightstand. It was used to wipe the sweat on her forehead, as she had learnt from past experience.

“That was low even for you. Entering my dreams where I am at my most vulnerable,” she murmured to the demon. His ghost was always present for a few moments just after her awakening. His intrusive presence slowly vanished from her thoughts and she breathed a sigh of relief.

According to Sister Ann, Azrael should not have been there at all, the banishment supposed to tide her over for at least a few days, hopefully even a fortnight. She had lied to herself that his image in the mirror that day had been just some inertia of the HeadMistress’ spell, some small gap of time until it started working.

Deep was her surprise and horror, when that very first night after the banishment, the demon was present in her thoughts. He had been silent in her dream at first, just a looming shadow, not being able to or perhaps not wanting to speak to her. She feared it was the former. Her still standing theory was that the demon was gradually gaining more strength or that the Sister’s spell was losing its. Neither option was calming.

As suspected, he found his voice soon enough. The following nights he had recited her name like a lullaby and just the day before yesterday, he began conversing. Now, what alarmed the most regarding the most recent nightmare was that he finally touched her.

Her hand still tingled from the contact. He had not done that before. With Sister Ann still working on her pendant, Elyse feared she was running out time.

Although, perhaps there was another who could lend her a helping hand.


Clutching her blue shawl closer around her shoulders, she spied another glance to the door. Samuel should be there anytime soon. Her friend was meant to be a distraction, so she could slip off undetected while Madame Tildi, the orphanage’s chef dealt with him.

Those two never got along.

Samuel’s merry whistling announced his arrival outside. Already she could hear Madame Tildi noisily stomping outside of the kitchens, a chipped frying pan in her hands. Elyse took a step back in the corner when the fuming chef passed her. Fortunately, the woman had not noticed the blonde hiding behind an enormous cabinet in the hall.

“Oii, what have I told you about coming here?” Madame Tildi yelled. Elyse peeked and saw the woman’s back, right hand on voluptuous hips while the left held the pan.

“Fair lady, I had only brought you flowers with the hopes of appeasing you. Last time had been a mistake,” came her friend’s reply. She giggled at the obvious mature drawl he tried to feign.

“You think I cannot see that those roses were unrooted from our gardens mere moments ago!” Madame Tildi shook her scarf covered head. “Last month, you tried again to break into the orphanage. I know your kind, boy! I am telling you again right now that my girls are off limits to your misplaced sense of chivalry.” The frying pan was waved furiously in the air for further emphasis.

From the entrance, Samuel caught her amused gaze and subtly gestured for her to go. That was her cue.

Taking her crutch, she silently pulled herself from behind the cabinet and tiptoed to the now vacant entrance. After one wrong remark, Madame Tildi had already started running after Samuel, a storm of flowing skirts and colourful language.

Just when closing the gate behind her, Elyse noticed Daisy watching her from the orphanage’s little garden. The child was picking vegetables in a small basket. With relief, she noticed that despite the lingering haunted look in the girl’s demeanour, she otherwise looked alright, unlike Marcella with her poorly chopped hair. At least it seemed the demon had kept his promise in that regard.

Hoping Daisy would not tell the chef of her sneaking out of the orphanage unaccompanied, Elyse closed the gate behind her and headed towards her destination.


On her way to Samuel’s aunt’s home, she noticed a small crowd gathering around the nobles’ tavern where only the rich of the capital could afford a glass of wine. It was long past midday, hence seeing so many people there piqued Elyse’s curiosity.

Slightly derailing off her track, the girl inched closer. In the centre of the mass of people, holding everyone’s rapt attention was the chancellor. An intellectual, the chancellor was well versed into the affairs of the kingdom and into the skill of commanding crowd. Everyone was listening his words like a god, yet Elyse had her eyes trained on the man standing to his right. His son.

Mathias, the boy for whom she had had the greatest fixation as a child, now a full-grown man. Clean-shaven and blonde hair sparkling in the sun, Mathias stood proudly next to his father. Unusually robust for a member of nobility, the chancellor’s son was quite a sight, her younger self having spent hours admiring him from afar.

She gulped, waiting for her heart to start galloping in excitement as in the past. It did not. While she still held the tiniest awareness of him in her heart, Mathias no longer inspired the same feelings. Especially as of late.

Elyse chose not to ponder on that revelation and the reasons behind it.

It was all for the best anyway seeing as the man was to be married to Yuria, the daughter of an affluent noble man. Said fiancee was possessively holding his arm. In that moment, Yuria caught her gaze on Mathias and defiantly stared her down. Elyse did not miss the appalled glance the noble lady threw her crutch and orphanage uniform while intimately whispering in Mathias’s ear.

The couple silently shared a laugh– Elyse had a feeling she was the cause of their amusement. Mathias sent her a surprised look when he finally recognised her, having the decency to look slightly ashamed. Damn him. It was so easy for him to judge others from his high pedestal.

Fuming slightly, the girl turned on her heels. She would not be the laughing stock of anyone. Suddenly, a wet sound filled the air, stopping the chancellor’s speech.

An odour that made Elyse eyes nose burn immediately followed. The bad smell was coming from the twin red splashes covering both Mathias and his fiancee’s finely tailored clothes. Yuria screamed hysterically, complaining of her newly crafted dress. Rotten tomatoes, those stains will be heard to clean, Elyse smirked.

Looking around trying to identify her hero, she spotted a grinning Samuel across the street. As usual, he paid no mind to the carriages as he walked towards her. Elyse would let the boy pass for now.

“Perfect shot, Sam,” the blonde softly complimented her friend while while herding him away from the furious chancellor and his son.

“I know, it got those two air heads directly in the chest! My respect for the precision,” Sam agreed excitedly, making her frown.

“Were you not the one behind this?”

Samuel gave her a shocked look. “Thank for the support, but not even I have the guts for this! That was the chancellor’s son, Elyse.” Faking a dreamy look in his eyes and exaggeratedly twirling with a lock of his hair, Samuel cooed: “Or should I say, fair Mathias.”

A sense of unease prickled Elyse, hearing that her friend was not responsible for the act. The attack had come out of nowhere. Throwing her surrounding a quick glance, she tried to subtly inhale. No trace of cinnamon, but then again the smell of putrid rotten tomatoes stung her nostrils and overwhelmed anything else.

“Samuel, shut up.”


Alora’s home consisted of a big tent, reminiscent of the old days when her family had travelled with a circus. Made of purple thick material, the tent rose a few meters above the ground, dominating the narrow alley it was shoved in.

Although she resided in the poorest part of the capital and outwardly shunned by those of weak sensibilities, Samuel’s aunt ran quite a lucrative, if not questionable business in that rundown forgotten tent of hers. Visited in secret by many of the noble class, the fortune-teller would predict their destinies and earn her and her nephew’s fair share of living off their backs.

Pushing the curtain of beads at the entrance and stepping foot inside, Elyse was instantly hit by the overwhelming aroma of jasmine. She blinked a few times, her eyes adjusting to the dark atmosphere in the tent. Elyse held in her coughs, trying not to disturb the session in front of her.

Appearing deep in thought, Alora was kneeling next to a velvet covered low table, while keeping her eyes on the glass ball of swirling colour in front of her. In her late thirties, the caramel skinned woman was a beauty, a trait common in their family apparently. Hair pinned in various plaits, necklaces and charms gracing a slender neck and eyes that spoke volumes without uttering a single word, it was easy to understand why her clients believed the captivating woman’s predictions without doubt.

The fortune-teller murmured softly then, making the well dressed lady across her widen her eyes in amazement.

“What do you see?”

“A man shrouded in the shadows,” Alora intoned mysteriously. “A man from your past, who wishes to reconnect again with you.”

The client sighed exasperatedly. “That must be Charles, my estranged husband. I already told him I am not taking him back, no matter how much he begs.”

Still focused on the shifting globe, Alora picked a deck of cards from nearby, shuffled them expertly before finally raising one random card in front of her. “Is this the card from the beginning of the session?” Alora asked.

The woman jumped in excitement. “Yes, yes!”

The fortune-teller hummed, as if having expected the result from the very start. “Yes, I see it now. A nine of hearts. This mystery man is not your husband. He is someone you hold very close to your soul. A past lover I reckon.” Alora raised her fingers rubbing her temples. The elegant woman’s breath hitched. “Please, what are his intentions now? I need to know!”

Then, the globe darkened suddenly, the swirling colours dying into opaque blackness. “I am sorry, m’dear. The stars would not listen to us mortal souls anymore,” Samuel’s aunt shook her head in regret, braids moving as well.

A small pouch of coins was laid on the table as the noble woman raised to her feet. “Thank you for your aid, Alora. I shall call on you again, in a fortnight, same time,” the woman bid her farewell while pulling on a flowing cape and exiting the tent.

Slow clapping filled the tent as Samuel came out of the shadows with Elyse trailing behind him. “You are growing greater by each passing passing day, auntie,” the boy grinned widely.

“I was born great, boy. If you only stopped being so lazy,” Alora proclaimed, with a bite in her tone, but gaze serene and loving. Upon noticing Elyse, the fortune-teller smiled warmly. Samuel’s aunt raised her jewelry heavy arms as if to embrace her, but then they froze before making contact.

Dark eyes pinned Elyse in place, making the blonde girl swallow uncomfortably. Could Alora possibly feel Azrael on her?

“Elyse, your scent... ,” the fortune teller’s brows were furrowed. Unaware of the tension, Samuel jumped in. “Yes, I have observed the new perfume as well. Cinnamon. I think it suits her,” he winked trying to make his friend smile.

But, Elyse was too nervous to respond. “Samuel, could you leave us alone for a bit, my dear?” Alora asked enigmatically after seating herself back into the oriental pillows at her low table.

Jaw slacked, Samuel gaped at her. Elyse nodded as well. Still shocked, Samuel walked out of the tent, whispering about confusing women.

They were alone now.

Resigned, Elyse took the spot the noble woman had previously occupied. Keeping quiet, she hid a smile when Alora pushed the globe of crystal carelessly to the ground. So much for the magic of that. However, the amusement faded completely at the look the fortune teller gave her.

“Elyse. That scent that is covering you from head to toes, I think you already what it is, so I will not insist in the details,” Alora said, lighting a matching stick for her smoking pipe. Elyse took that as bad sign. The fortune teller took on smoking only in dire circumstances.

Taking a huge puff, Alora exhaled slowly, a bitter smile pulling at the corners of the mouth. “I am certain Sister Ann had already scared you enough on the subject.” Bewilderment filled the girl at the cryptic words. Never would she have associated the strict Headmistress of her orphanage with the woman before her. How did the two know each other?

“H-how?” she stammered out.

“That is a chapter of my life I wish not to revisit again, my dear Elyse. It is not important for the purpose of this conversation either,” the fortune-teller took one of her pale hands over the table. “I know you are scared. You have always had such tragic eyes, but now more than ever I feel your torment.” The woman’s features were softened by the gentle light of the aromatic candle nearby.

“Demons are like us, both good and bad. And trust me on this one, but with all the power and protection charms I see emanating from you, that demon does not desire to harm you.” She wished that were true with an intensity that scared her.

“He had just marked his territory.” Her jaw ticked remembering Sister Ann’s words.

“Do you trust me, Elyse?” the fortune-teller asked abruptly.

“Of course, Alora.”

Hardly had the words left her mouth, when the woman grasped her fingers tightly and laid them on the open flame of the burning candle between them. Shocked, Elyse tried to jerk away. Self preservation dictated that. No human being enjoyed being burnt, but as she watched the fire envelop her fingers, merely proving warmth instead of hurt, the girl raised her blue eyes to the fortune-teller.

“No, I do not entirely believe that, my dear.”

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