Chapter 26 - A Life for a Life
(continuation of previous chapter)
Ilyia, The Land of the Gods
The Time of the Golden Dynasty
We arrived at Azrael’s castle. Like the rest of him, it was dark and evil emanated from its very walls. The rays of the sun never touched this place for my father withheld its warmth from Azrael. But now... I could feel the warmth inside it for Aiken was there.
“How do we get inside?” I asked Argyll. He seemed to be deep in thought as he gazed at the formidable structure in front of us. The wind blew and I felt more energies in it. I felt the energies of the different Gods and Goddesses that were trapped and forced to do Azrael’s bidding.
I have heard news that he used these Gods and Goddesses as fuel to further his own energy. He kept them locked away and channelled their powers to do his bidding. And that was how he was able to create his own army. An army that rivalled even the King’s Golden Army. It was said that he drained these Gods and Goddesses dry of their magic until they shrivelled and then faded back into the Cosmos.
“How about we pretend that I captured you and brought you as tribute for Azrael? That could be our easiest way in.” Argyll replied. “Fine.” I replied. I just wanted to see Aiken. And I also have my own power. I am stronger that most of the Gods and Goddesses. I just have to free Aiken and then we could go. We won’t even have to kill Azrael today... I just want my husband back.
“Let’s go.” I told Argyll.
“I’d have to bind your hands, your majesty... Just to err... Make it look believable.” Argyll said. I huffed with impatience and held out my hands. “Do it quickly.” I commanded. He tied my hands and then led me towards the gates. When we got nearer, he started to handle me a bit more roughly. He shot me an apologetic look and I thought that maybe he was doing this so that we would look more believable.
Argyll is Aiken’s second-in-command. He is a great warrior and is valuable on the battlefield. He has the ability to evoke and heighten emotions. In a battlefield where fear, anger and hate is rampant, Argyll’s ability gives Aiken a great deal of help. Warriors who have no control of their emotions lose control of their minds too. Too much anger and hate can make someone restless and their movements uncoordinated. Too much pride could make a warrior not heed commands which could cause his downfall. Too much fear can make a warrior sloppy.
“Another prisoner for Azrael.” Argyll told the guards. They looked at me and noticed the crown on top of my head. They sneered. “Azrael will be so happy to have the pair.” One of the guards remarked as he opened the gates.
Argyll led me towards Azrael’s castle and suspicion crept its way through me as I wondered how he knew the structure so well. I kept my mouth shut but prepared myself to use my powers at any sign of threat from Argyll. I really have a bad feeling for all of this.
“Well what do we have here?” Azrael said with surprise as we rounded a corner and emerged into a hall. Azrael lounged on a throne that looked very much like my father’s throne.
“The queen is yours too.” Argyll said. And he gave me a big push. I almost fell down on my knees. I stood up and glared at him. “Ahh. The queen. I shall have fun draining her too.” Azrael replied.
Azrael has the ability to siphon energy off any living source and convert it to his own. He can gather energy from plants, trees, the river and anything from nature and add it to his own power. Right now, he’s siphoning off energy from the gods he captured. Rumors say that when he has enough power, he’ll ground himself in the land and get energy off Ilyia thereby destroying it in the process.
“Loosen the bonds now.” I whispered. Argyll smiled sadly and shook his head. He pushed me roughly again and I fell to the ground. He took a step back and smiled. “You’re the traitor!” I hissed.
“Well done, princess.” Argyll laughed. I tried to kick him and even tried to send a blast of energy his way but he was quick to put up a protection shield.
“Argyll, why don’t you get our little warrior so he could see what I’m going to do to his queen?” Azrael said with a sneer.
“I’ll get someone to do it. I don’t want Aiken to know my secret just yet.” Argyll replied with a wink before he strode out the room.
Azrael walked towards me. “Don’t you dare touch me!” I shouted and sent a blast of energy his way. It caught him unaware and knocked him a few feet backwards and he slammed into a wall. The wall was dented but he just shrugged off the debris, stood up and straightened his clothes.
“Not exactly how a princess should act.” Argyll said menacingly. He straightened himself and then walked towards me. I aimed another blast towards him but this time he was prepared. He just absorbed the blast I sent his way and then sent it back to me. I threw a shield around me to deflect his blow. The effect lessened the force and the blast just wounded my cheek.
“Ahh... Sorry about that princess... In my defense, you started it.” He chuckled. I just glared at him.
“Can I ask you one thing?” Azrael said.
I ignored him and stared out the window.
Azrael approached me, cupped my jaw and forced me to look at him. “You are still the most beautiful in all of Ilyia, Selene.” Azrael whispered. Again, I ignored him.
“Why am I not good enough for you, Selene?” Azrael hissed. “I loved you all those years ago and you ignored me! I gave you everything but you threw it back to my face!”
I was stunned by his words. That happened a long time ago and I was so young by then... I considered Azrael more of a friend... A brother... And it was before he shunned all the goodness in him and decided that he wanted to be king of llyia...
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” Argyll shouted and forced me to look at him again. “You told me you’d remain a maiden forever. But here you are, bonded with Aiken! You hypocrite! What does he have that I don’t?” Azrael shouted and then backhanded me across the face.
I fell to the ground but he hauled me up once more. “Now you are going to be mine. I will kill your King and you shall be mine like how it’s supposed to be. You shall be my queen and I shall possess the Key to Ilyia always.” Azrael said.
“You’re crazy! I won’t bond with you! Not before and certainly not now!” I shouted. I expected Azrael to hit me again but he just stared mockingly at me and inclined his head to the side. “We’ll see.”
Two guards came in dragging a man. He was slumped and the guards held him by his armpits as his legs were dragged on the floor. A flash of pain crossed my entire body. Without thinking, I got up and ran towards him as the guards dropped him on the floor. “Aiken.” I whispered and pressed my cheek to his.
I wanted to touch him but my hands were bound. I wanted to wipe away all that blood and grime from his body and soothe away all his pains... Being close to him now and without Azrael’s wards dividing us, I could feel an echo of his pain and I could hear his thoughts once more.
Aiken slowly raised his head and there was fear in his eyes. This was the first time I saw that emotion in those golden depths. “Selene... No...” he whispered brokenly. I heard his thoughts and all of them were fear for my safety.
I looked at Aiken and his glow was dim. Maybe Azrael has already siphoned most of his powers. He looked weak and in pain. I felt a throb in my side and I guessed that some of his ribs were broken. Blood flowed from the side of his face and there may be a large wound somewhere in his head.
“Don’t worry about me, Selene. We must get you out of here.” Aiken spoke to my mind through the threads of our bond.
“I can’t go without you.” I replied stubbornly. I pressed myself closer to him and let the tears flow.
“How very touching.” Azrael sneered. He then sent a blast of magic towards Aiken which sent him sprawling down on the ground. “Selene!” Aiken shouted. I tried to move towards him but it was as if an invisible wall was erected between the two of us. I tried to use my power to remove the barrier but nothing happened.
Azrael walked towards me and hauled me upright. He dragged me away from Aiken and forced me to sit on one of the chairs. “Now, princess... You sit there while I kill your bonded and take the crown for myself.” Azrael said and took out a silver dagger.
“You know what this is, don’t you?” Azrael taunted as he flashed the dagger before my eyes.
Of course, I knew what it is. It belonged to the Ten Gods of Justice. They were a group which acted as a sort of check and balance system for Ilyia. They possessed this silver dagger which was forged deep in the pits of Cosmos. It was used to kill a God who didn’t obey the laws of Ilyia. It was the most feared weapon in all of the land and the Ten Gods of Justice kept it safe. Numerous times they tried to use it on Azrael but they failed. Aiken knows the Gods of Justice for they went with him and the Golden Army when they hunted for Azrael. But the Gods went missing years ago and I guess they were Azrael’s first victims.
Fear lodged itself in my heart and I can’t almost breathe from it. No... Heavens... No! I can’t let Aiken die!
“No!” I shouted and sent another blast of energy towards Azrael. He flung out his hand and deflected the blow. It went towards the wall and made a portion of it crumble to dust. Cold air flooded the room and I shivered.
I closed my eyes and summoned every ounce of magic I could. I drew on the sun and the moon at the same time. When I opened my eyes, the room was flooded with a soft golden glow. I concentrated hard and poured in all my anger and fear and mixed it with my power.
“You can’t harm Aiken!” I shouted and then hurled the blast towards Azrael. The blast caught him unaware but he braced himself for the attack and stood firm. Instead of flying backwards, he withstood the attack and his body absorbed all the power. Still, it was too much and left him with many wounds and bruises. A deep gash was formed on his right side and blood was flowing freely.
Triumph flooded me for a bit and I tried to run towards Aiken once more. “Not nice. Not nice at all.” Azrael said and gritted his teeth together. He removed his bloody tunic and then threw it on the floor. His action revealed the deep wound on his side. He closed his eyes and I could feel Lai’s magic in the air. After a few moments, the blood stopped flowing and the wound began to close. The small bruises and cuts slowly faded away.
My jaw dropped as Azrael stood up once more and looked at me. “Try harder, princess.” He spat and then picked up the silver dagger and headed towards Aiken. “No! Please no!” I shouted.
“Too late for that.” Azrael replied.
“No! Please! I’ll do anything!” I shouted and went down on my knees.
“Selene, don’t!” Aiken ordered. I shook my head.
“Azrael... Please... Don’t kill Aiken... I’ll do anything you want.” I pleaded. Aiken can’t die. Ilyia needed him. If he died then Azrael would gain control over the realm and no one could stop him. Aiken is the only one who could stop him and without him all of us will perish and so will the land.
“Anything?” Azrael said and smiled cruelly. He pointed towards Aiken and more bonds of magic encased his body.
“Selene, whatever you’re thinking of, please don’t... Don’t do it... Save yourself.” Aiken begged through the bond between us.
“I can’t... Life without you would be like living my father’s life after he lost my mother... It would be empty... Meaningless...” I responded.
“Yes. Anything.” I replied to Azrael. Tears of humiliation fell down my cheeks. Aiken eyes flashed and he struggled with his bonds. Azrael looked at him and shook his head. “Pointless.” He told Aiken.
Azrael walked towards me and helped me stand up once more. He released the ties on my wrists and rubbed the raw spot. He kissed it tenderly and I felt Lai’s magic in the air once more. The magic settled on my skin and I felt warmth and then the pain was gone. The skin looked as if it was never chafed. I touched my cheek and the wound there was also gone.
“Don’t touch her!” Aiken bellowed.
“I don’t think you’re in any position to command me.” Azrael replied and then flung his hand and his power slammed into Aiken once more. I grabbed hold of his sleeve. “Please! No more!” I shouted.
“Sorry about that.” Azrael said and then he lifted his fingers and caressed my cheek. I tried not to flinch from his touch. Aiken’s pain tore through me and I almost crumbled on the ground.
“Be strong li’eras. We’ll find a way. We will escape him.” I whispered to him through our bond.
“He’ll want you to bond with him! I can’t take that, Selene! You can’t release me from our bond and expect me to live with it!” Aiken replied and another surge of pain wracked my body.
“Are you alright?” Azrael inquired. “Yes. Just shaky.” I replied.
I looked at Aiken and his golden eyes were pleading me. I shook my head and turned back to Azrael once more. “Set him free and I’ll bond with you.” I offered.
Azrael threw back his head and laughed. “Now that is an offer I can’t resist.” He said and then raised his hand and stroked his chin. “But... I think I’ll have to bargain with you. How about I bond with you and then I strip him of his powers and his title and then I banish him to the mortal world and he can never again set foot on Ilyia.” Azrael said with a cruel sneer.
“Noooooooooooooooooo!” Aiken roared and I flinched as if he struck me. I vowed to obey him and it was difficult for me to go against his word as his bonded. “I’m sorry. If this were you, I know you’d do the same for me.” I replied and then faced Azrael again.
“Swear it on every magic you possess and on the freedom of every one you hold hostage!” I demanded.
Azrael laughed. “What? You don’t trust my word? Didn’t I say that I’ll love you and only you and look where I am now? Still waiting for you.”
“Please. Just swear it.” I said and tried to soften my tone a little bit.
“Fine. I swear that if Selene bonds with me, I shall not kill Aiken but will only drain his power and claim the title of King of Ilyia and then send him to the mortal realm. This I swear on every ounce of power I possess and on the lives of my hostages. Should I break my word, my magic is stripped and the prisoners go free.” Azrael said in a bored tone.
He raised his hand and and took mine. A golden ribbon appeared over our arms signifying Azrael’s oath to me.
He smiled at me and pulled me closer. “Now then, shall we get on with it?” Azrael said. “Can’t you please give me a moment to compose myself?” I asked him.
“And plot your escape? Not a chance.” Azrael grinned. “I like you just the way you are, you know? Even if you’re hair is messy and your gown is torn, you’re still the most beautiful in all of Ilyia.” He said sweetly.
All my self control went to trying not to gag.
Azrael tugged on my hand again and I my body ended up molded to his. His blue eyes darkened with lust and he looked at me with desire. “Let’s definitely get this over with. I can’t wait to bed you.” He said crudely.
Bile rose in my throat at the thought but I clamped it back down. Azrael’s hands roamed over my shoulders, skimmed my breasts lightly and then settled on my waist. Appreciation and desire burned in his gaze.
I closed my eyes and concentrated hard in blocking our bond to blot out Aiken’s cries. Tears pooled in my eyes and rushed down my cheeks at Azrael’s touch. “Oh, don’t cry... I’m sure you’ll love it.”
His hands roamed over my breasts again and then skimmed down my belly. I saw surprise in his eyes and then he flinched. His hands settled over my belly again and I could see him concentrating hard.
He flinched again and pushed me away. “You’re with child!” Azrael shouted. This time it was I who flinched. I closed my eyes and avoided looking at Aiken. This was not how I envisioned telling it to him. I planned on showing him one of the clothes I sew to tell him the news of our incoming child.
But not like this... No... Not like this...
“Selene...?” he whispered through our bond.
I opened my eyes and saw that Aiken was looking directly at me. Fear and awe were etched in his handsome features.
“I’m pregnant, Aiken... I’m carrying our son...”I forced the words through the threads of our bond even if this was not how I envisioned telling him...
“Heavens... A son!” Aiken replied with a hint of happiness in his voice. For a moment there it seemed as if the entire room vanished and there was only two of us. For a moment there, it seemed as if everything was normal... Our family was to be complete... Of course we’re overjoyed.
But reality crashed into us soon enough.
"You should not have come here... Now, you have risked our child too...” Aiken said.
“I’m sorry, Aiken... But I can’t do this on my own. I need you. I don’t want our child to grow up with only one parent just like me...” I replied.
“We have to get out of here.” Aiken said and I felt every ounce of determination in him through our bond.
Azrael snapped me out of my thoughts with his roar. “I’ll not raise his bastard!” Azrael shouted and his skin thrummed with magic. He grabbed me once more and hauled me towards him.
“You knew yet you hid it from me. Were you going to pass it off as mine so that it could live?!” Azrael bellowed and his anger shook the walls surrounding us.
“Let go... You’re hurting me.” I hissed and then tried to pry his fingers off me.
“I’ll not bond with you with his bastard inside of you.” Azrael declared. His power gathered around him and his intent was clear.
“NO!!!” Aiken and I shouted at the same time.
Black magic swirled around Azrael and I knew right away that he was channelling Zoran, the keeper of Death.
I tried to twist away from Azrael’s grip and even tried to put up a shield of my own. I felt Aiken’s faint attempt to protect me with a shield. I also saw him struggling against his bonds to rush to my aid.
“Better kill it now when it’s still vulnerable inside you than for it to be born a God and be killed only with the Silver Dagger!” Azrael shouted and then channelled more of Zoran’s power. He slapped his palm on my abdomen and released Death’s power.
There was a sharp twinge in my belly and I jerked and my hand rose to cover it. Another twinge came and Azrael released me. I fell to the ground, twisting in pain. I felt the spark of magic inside me trickle away before it was snuffed out completely.
“No! My baby.... Nooo!” I shouted.
Sharp, stabbing pain shot up my spine and my back arched. I felt warmth between my legs and when I lifted the hem of my gown, I came upon the sight of blood...
My baby’s blood...
“Noooooo!” I shouted as another wave of pain wracked my body.
“Damn you, Azrael! You’ll pay for this!” Aiken shouted. His voice was hoarse and his face was pale from the effort of trying to free himself from the magic that held him in place. He roared in frustration and even Azrael flinched from the sound.
I sobbed as I felt the blood pool between my thighs... My child... A part of Aiken and me... He was innocent in all of this! He had nothing to do with everything!
And now he was gone...
Aiken and I shall never get the chance to hold him in our arms...
We’ll never see him smile...
We’ll never hear him cry or laugh...
He’ll never see Ilyia or his grandfather’s Golden Palace...
An anguished scream was ripped out of my throat. Azrael stopped advancing and stared at me. I cried for the life taken away from me. I cried for my unborn child. I cried because he never even had a chance to be born into this world...
Azrael came to me and laid his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t touch me! You are the vilest creature in all of the land!” I snapped.
Azrael flinched and backed away from me. I felt his healing touch and the pain inside me vanished. The blood stopped flowing and there was nothing but this empty feeling...
The pain that reminded me of the death of my child... It’s gone...
“I’ll give you my child if you want it so badly.” Azrael said with a shrug.
“Never!!! I’d rather die!” I screamed. Azrael flinched once more and his blue eyes hardened. “So be it then.” Azrael replied.
I felt the energy of death once more. Azrael raised his hands and closed his eyes. Shadows danced across the room as he moved his fingers in the air.
“For trying to trick me, I curse you to never bear a child again.” Azrael whispered and one of the shadows from his fingers danced over me and slid into my skin. I felt his curse lodge itself deep inside me.
“I also curse all the women you protect! A sickness that shall consume them until they either die or if they survive, never again shall their wombs be fruitful! This shall be the end of the mortal realm! And they would die slowly. Men’s hearts would break as they watch their wives slowly die and they are useless to prevent it from happening... Just like how my heart broke when you rejected me, Selene!” Azrael shouted and the shadows burst from him and went out the windows to spread across the land.
My anger rose at his curse. All the hatred deep inside me sprung forth. I lunged for the Silver Dagger but Azrael was faster. He kicked the knife away and it skidded away from us. Aiken’s eyes blazed with a warning for me not to try anything more. Again, I did not heed him and tried to lunge for the dagger again but Azrael stopped me.
“Father... How did my mother die?”
“She chose to fade away... Sometimes our kind do that...” Father replied, his voice stilted.
“She wasn’t killed by the Ten Gods of Justice?” I asked innocently.
“No... She did nothing wrong...” my father enlightened me.
“It’s good to know she didn’t die by the silver dagger.” I replied while I picked a flower from the ground and offered it to my father.
“How else can one like us die, father?”
“Sacrifice... A life for a life.” My father replied.
“What does that mean?”
“No one can take away life easily. It can only be done by the Ten Judges. But if life was to be taken away and not by the Ten Gods of Justice then a sacrifice must be made. A life for a life. The killer’s essence for that of whomever he wants killed.” My father explained.
“How is it done?”
“You invoke Cosmos and offer the sacrifice. It’s another system of check and balance so that none of us could go around killing others...” My father said and shrugged. “Well, Selene... I don’t think you really should be interested in these things.“And with that, the topic was closed.
The memory faded away and the empty feeling inside of me was replaced with one of purpose...
A life for a life...
Aiken glanced at me and it seemed as if he read my thoughts.
“Selene no!!!” he roared through our bond. I looked at him and his eyes were filled with tears and he was pleading with his gaze...
I looked at Azrael again. This is the only way. This is how I could save Ilyia. This is how I could save Aiken...
"Li’eras... If you do this then you’re condemning me to a life like your father’s!” I heard Aiken’s voice in my head once more...
“You know I love you, right? You know that my heart shall always be yours... Things may fade and eternity may run its course but my love for you shall never change. Remember me always... Forgive me, Aiken... Forgive me...” I replied and then blocked out Aiken’s replies.
“Selene, no!” he shouted. Azrael turned to look at him. “What are you talking about?” Azrael hissed. “This is not how it’s meant to be!” Aiken pleaded.
“There’s no other way... Maybe the Cosmos will give us another chance...” I replied. Azrael looked bewildered. I drew a protective circle using the last of my remaining energy. Azrael’s eyes widened and he steadily advanced towards me.
My circle held and Azrael wasn’t able to come any closer. He tried to throw different spells and blast after blast of energy but the circle deflected it. I closed my eyes and raised my hands. I could hear Aiken’s shouts but I blocked him off again. I actually do not know what to do but I am hoping that the Cosmos will guide me.
“Cosmos... The great abyss... From you where all things come from... I bid you listen to my plea.” I whispered. I felt a wind breeze through my protective circle and deemed it as a sign from Cosmos.
“I offer you this great sacrifice... My life for Azrael’s. A life for a life... I do so willingly for my land... May Ilyia prosper once more without him in it.” I ended my prayer and opened my eyes.
It was as if I could feel all my essence condensed in this form. It was as if a lock has been released from me and I felt very light.
Azrael’s eyes widened with surprise as he realized what I’ve done.
He threw protective runes around him and channelled all the powers of his captives. But they were no match for Cosmos, the creator of the universe, the beginning and the end of everything else.
The wind blew more fiercely and I saw golden dust floating everywhere. I smiled one last time at Aiken and waved him goodbye. He threw back his head and roared and my heart clenched at his anguish. All the love he had for me and the pain because he’s losing me was all poured out in that strangled sound.
I wanted to undo everything and just run to him and feel the safety of his arms around me once more. But I can’t...
This is sacrifice...
And this is what’s meant to be...
This is my purpose...
A bright light filled the room. Azrael tried to run away but it was as if an invisible barrier trapped him in this room. Suddenly, I heard the roar of thunder outside and felt the crackle of electricity around the room.
Then there was a fleeting moment of pain as one of the thunderbolts pierced me. White-hot pain scalded my entire body and sent every nerve ending on fire. I felt as if my very essence became unravelled... It was like when someone pulls a thread from a knitted vest.
One moment of pain and then there was nothing...
The bright light faded and I realized that I was not sitting on the rock by the river anymore. I was kneeling down by the waters as my entire body shook and tears streamed down my cheeks.
Selene was sitting beside me with her hand wrapped around my shoulders as she too cried. “I can’t take anymore...” I told her. Something inside of me struggled to recall or reach out... Hell, I don’t know what it is!
But it was as if something inside me reacted to all of this...
“You have to be strong... This is our destiny.” Selene told me.
“I can’t... The pain... It’s too much...” I replied. It was as if I’ve felt these things before. And my body rejected the idea of going through those pains again.
“There’s just one last thing you have to see... One last thing to understand all of this. I loved Aiken and even if I was gone from Ilyia, I watched over him from my hereafter in the Cosmos... This is the last memory. This is also Aiken’s last day in Ilyia.” Selene said. Her voice caught with a sob.
“Please... No more. I don’t want to understand!” I begged.
“You have to...” Selene replied and waved her hand over my face once more.
It was as if I was looking through a vision which was underwater. It was not clear and my sight seemed to be blurry. I squinted and then everything became clearer.
And then the greatest sorrow overwhelmed me. “Aiken...” I whispered. He was in Argyll’s castle and was staring with pain and sorrow in his face as the lightning bolt pierced my body and I fell to the ground.
I wanted to rush to him and comfort him but I was trapped in this place. This vast, empty place of nothing with only visions to keep me entertained. I thought death was supposed to be peaceful? The end to everything? The time when you get to see your loved ones again?
No... They got it wrong...
It was torture. Forced to spend an eternity with nothing else while you watch your loved ones live their life...
Azrael’s body fell the moment I fell and I saw that his eyes were lifeless... The moment his body hit the ground, all his magic became undone. Aiken was released from his bonds. He did not immediately rush towards my broken body but he just sat there. It was as if everything that happened has rendered him immobile.
After a few moments, he slowly got up and walked towards me. “Selene...” he whispered. The glassiness in his eyes vanished and I saw their golden color once more. He gently picked me up and cradle me to his chest. “No... no... no...” he murmured. Then he roared my name to the heavens and cried. Tears streamed down his face and fell on my lifeless cheeks.
I wanted to rush towards him. To soothe him. To comfort him. But I could not... There’s nothing I can do now...
“Why did you do that?” he whispered brokenly...
“Aiken... I did it for you... For all of Ilyia!” I shouted even if I knew that my words would never reach him again.
“I will avenge you, Selene. I will avenge you and our child. I will set everything right.” Aiken said. He stared at me for a long, long time as his tears fell down.
After a long while, he kissed my forehead one last time and then he stood up and lifted my limp body in his arms.
Argyll entered the room and surprise lit up his features as he gazed at Azrael’s broken body. I saw him hide the silver dagger in his belt and then he rushed towards Aiken. I wanted to send a warning to Aiken about the traitor but I could do nothing!
“What happened!” Argyll shouted, his voice filled with concern. “Azrael is dead and so is Selene.” Aiken hissed. “I... I don’t know what to say, Aiken.” Argyll replied. Aiken nodded. “Is the Golden Army with you?” Aiken asked. Argyll shook his head.
“I came alone for I followed her. She was really fast though... But I’ve already sent word to the army and they are already headed here.” Argyll replied.
Aiken slipped past him and headed towards the door. Then he stopped. I saw my body glow and then shimmer. “Goodbye, Selene... Wherever you are now, you have my heart with you. It will always be yours and no one else’s... Go with my love...” Aiken whispered and then kissed my lips and my forehead in a gesture of farewell...
My heart wrenched at his pain... His words were so beautiful that they brought tears to my eyes. I watched Aiken’s face as my body continued to glow and then slowly fade away... When I was gone, Aiken bowed his head and leaned against the wall as huge wracking sobs consumed his body...
“Aiken...” Argyll whispered.
“Leave!” Aiken shouted.
Argyll’s features became one of determination. Again, I wanted to do something to warn Aiken but I couldn’t! Argyll retrieved the Silver Dagger from his belt and walked over to Aiken... Aiken was oblivious to everything as his pain over my loss consumed him.
Argyll placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and then he lifted his other hand and swiftly plunged the dagger on Aiken’s back.
I heard Aiken’s grunt of surprise and then his bellow of pain before he fell towards the ground. His breathing was shallow as the dagger slowly worked its magic and his essence slowly eased out of him.
“You’re looking for the traitor, Aiken? Well here he is!” Argyll shouted with his arms extended to his sides.
“Why?” Aiken bit out
“Who doesn’t want to be king?” Argyll shrugged. “Well... I guess I have to thank you and Selene for making life easier for me. Thanks for killing Azrael... He really was one bloody fool.” Argyll said and then laughed.
It was the most evil and hollow sound I’ve ever heard.
“You think you’ve won?” Aiken grunted.
“I do not think I’ve won. I know it.” Argyll said with a smirk.
“Well... You’re... wrong... You are King but you are King over nothing... How many gods and goddesses have already went back to the Cosmos? The Golden Army was never entrusted to you so you cannot control them... Ilyia is dying because of Azrael’s destruction... Ilyia is closed off because Selene is gone...” Aiken slowly said the words.
Argyll’s face turned to one of doubt and then incredulity and then disbelief. “You are lying!” he accused. “All of this isn’t true!” Argyll shouted.
“Enjoy... your time of being King... This isn’t the end... Mark my words, I... I will come back. I will avenge Selene and my child and all the others who faded away. I will come back and everything will be set to right. I will... take my rightful throne and my fury shall sweep its way across the land... You... mark my words Argyll... The next time we meet again... It shall be you who’s dying... This is my vow to Ilyia.” Aiken wheezed.
I felt him put all his remaining energy into his words. He drew power from the sun and his words were coated with its magic. Hope rose inside me amidst my tears... But is it really possible? Could we have another chance?
No... It isn’t how things were done... I’d just hurt myself more for hoping again...
“Since when has anyone returned to the Cosmos and returned?” Argyll laughed and aimed a swift kick towards Aiken. Aiken grunted in pain but his eyes never lost their resolve. He continued infusing the last of his power in his vow.
A flash of fear crossed Argyll’s face which then turned to one of satisfaction as he saw Aiken’s body glow and then flicker as he slowly faded away...
This time I was the one who screamed. I screamed my fury at the unjustness of it all. I screamed at the sight of my beloved dying in the hands of a man he trusted. Again, I cried for my unborn child. This time I cried for Aiken too... I cried for all my friends who faded: Lira, the blacksmith, Zoran, the keeper of Death, the ten Gods of Justice, Feria, the nurturer of nature, Griss, the best builder in Ilyia, and everyone else who died meaningless deaths.
When all my tears subsided, I kept on looking behind me. I expected to find Aiken there and then we’d share our hereafter together. But he wasn’t there. I waited and waited and waited but he never came...
He never came...
“Do you understand it now?” Selene’s voice pierced through the fog of pain that enveloped me. I nodded.
“Seth and I... We’re you... This is Aiken’s vow that he’ll return and set things right...” I answered. My lips spoke the words but somehow I still didn’t understand them.
“Yes... We are one and the same... You are not a human, Adrienne. You are me. Your name is Selene. You are a goddess and you belong in Ilyia. Selene explained.
“No!” I shouted and covered my ears. “I don’t want to hear anymore!”
“Stop it! You must hear this!” Selene shouted and tugged on my hands. “You have to hear all of this to remember!”
“Stop, please!” I pleaded.
“You were born from your parents yet they weren’t your real parents! They only gave birth to the new body that’s been given by the Cosmos to Aiken and me... Do you even wonder why you don’t look like any of them? This is it! We have been given a second chance! A chance to save Ilyia from crumbling! A chance to set everything right!” Selene shouted.
I stood up and ran away from her.
“You must remember, Adrienne! You must open your heart and accept everything! Only then will you truly remember and only then will the past and the present fully merge into one...” Selene’s voice trailed off as my feet carried me farther and farther away from her...
From all the pain I’ve witnessed from the visions... Do I really want to remember?
Do I really want to find out who and what I am?
Can I handle my destiny? What I’m supposed to do?
The truth is revealed! Hope you liked it guys. And happy new year to everyone. :)
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