Chapter 17. // Time to go.
Everyone knew that their time in the ruins were drawing to a close the moment Alice disappeared for a few hours with Alessandro, returning with Swithun and Jade, and the Eastern and Southern Royals in tow.
The Eastern and Southern Generals were exactly as she remembered, and it was only proven when they spent the night catching up after everyone went to sleep.
They were hiding in the Mirror Dimension, near impossible to get to unless you have... Dark connections. It was safe for a time, until an increase in Scavenger hoards tipped them off.
“It was ridiculous, Katty. They were coming in tsunamis; I was certain we would have died in there. If it wasn’t for that guy... that guy... who was it?” Jade snapped his fingers, scratching the uncharacteristic beard on his chin.
“Otheleo?” Alice cut in, amusement in her blue eyes. “Yes! Him. વાહિયાત (Fuck), that man was ripped. Like one of the Gods.” Jade bit his bottom lips seductively, no doubt having lewd thoughts of their rescuer.
“ગુડ દુઃખ (Good grief) Jade, I’ve known the man since I was created.” Alice groaned, rubbing the heel of her palms over her eyes. Grey snickered, and Swithun shook his head. “Jade hasn’t had sex since આ હુમલો (The Attack).” He mumbled, and Grey and surprisingly, Alice sputtered out a laugh.
“જેમાં બધી સીટો વેચાઇ! (Sellout!)” Jade seethed, and Swithun shrugged as he took a sip of his beer. “Neither have I, and કે શરમ નથી (that’s nothing to be ashamed of).”
“હું છું શરમ (I am ashamed), Swith!” Jade exclaimed, pointing to himself. Swithun merely rolled his eyes, then directed his attention to Alice.
“If it weren’t for Otheleo, we would be in the Council’s clutches. So when you see him next time, આપે તેને મારા આભાર (give him my thanks).” Alice nodded, raising her drink.
“If you ask me about Otheleo, Jade, I will p-”
“No, not that.” Jade replied in exasperation. Alice sighed. “Then what?” Jade hesitated, then spoke. “You dyed your hair, didn’t you?”
The bottle paused on its journey to Grey’s mouth. “Uh oh.” Swithun whispered, and Alice rolled her eyes, amused.
“I did, actually.” With a wave of her softly glowing hand, the sapphire locks turned black; a similar shade to Alessandro’s. Jade gasped dramatically, while Swithun silently lowered his drink, shock on his features.
“Anne... what happened?” Swithun whispered, his voice thick with emotion. Grey bit her lip harshly, only knowing a semblance of the truth.
“The Council got to me once.” The two males tensed. “But, they weren’t in control of themselves. Listen,” Alice leaned in closer, “the only person who knows this is Grey.” Their eyes darted to her, and she gave a single nod. “My... my mother,” she spat out the word like it was a curse; like it was acid.
“She’s behind all this. She... stripped my powers. The ones I was born with. All I have is my Guardian-given abilities.” Jade let out another dramatic gasp, and Swithun swore harshly.
“Even from my father’s blood.” She confirmed, and Swithun swore again. “No worries. My Guardian-given abilities should be enough.” Alice was confident, and once she was confident, there was no doubt that what she said was true.
The four Generals sat in a comfortable silence around a crackling fire that warmed their outsides, with the alcoholic drinks warming their insides. Mortal-made drinks didn’t do much for them, and Jade had magicked them up to be more potent. Finally, with a deep, somber sigh, Jade broke the silence.
“What’s our game plan?” All eyes turned to Alice. Grey knew that she wanted to portal the Royals home with the other two Generals, but there was a change in her plan and she could sense it; ever since that day she manipulated the rock that was far out in the ocean.
Licking her lips, Alice stared each General in the eye. “Serilda-”
“She’s alive?!” Grey, Jade and Swithun exclaimed, shock marring their features. Alice let out a breathy chuckle, shaking her head. “Yeah... she is. I was as shocked as you were. She went into hiding after her reincarnation.”
Taking another sip of her drink, Alice continued. “North isn’t safe. It’s crawling with Scavengers, Retrievers, Morphites, Ravagers... any type of demon you could think of. West isn’t safe either. East is closed off, so we know it’s under their control as well. South is the only safe place right now; fortified by the surviving magic users to keep the Council and demons out. That’s where we go. At least, the three of you.”
The remaining Generals began to protest, but she stopped them with a single look. “It’s me they want. The three of you go, and I buy you some time to regain your strength and bump up your numbers. Maybe Raveen might help; the Council was never able to get them under their clutches.” She nodded with finality.
Tears began to trickle from Grey’s eyes, and she was sure that the same was happening to Jade. “I said I wasn’t leaving you, Alice.” Grey whispered harshly, and Alice nodded.
“I know. I know. But, circumstances have changed and the plan needs to as well. I’m sending my Royals with you, along with the kids.”
“And Alessandro?” Swithun inquired, placing his empty bottle down and leaning on his elbows. Alice sighed deeply, running a frustrated hand through her now black locks. “He’s going with you.”
“So you’re just going to throw yourself to the wolves!” Jade yelled angrily, glaring daggers at the Northern General. “That’s your magnificent plan? માત્ર અશ્લીલ ઘા જાતે તેમને?! (Just fucking throwing yourself to them?!)”
“તે જ માર્ગ છે! (IT’S THE ONLY WAY!)” Alice screamed, effectively cutting off Jade’s angry rambling, Grey’s tears and no doubt, Swithun’s over-analyzing.
The crackling of the fire, Jade’s and Alice’s labored breaths, Grey’s muffled cries, and silence.
"It’s the only option where we all don’t perish, and the Council’s chances of winning are lower. If we all go at them, who will protect the survivors? The Southern Kingdom? Who will save Titania and Galactica?”
The remaining Generals considered her words.
“The blood in my veins gives me a better chance. It’s also why they’re after me. Ales is in their ‘good graces’ because he was the kingdom’s Healer. They were too busy fawning over his abilities to question our relations. All they know is that we have the same eyes.”
“When...” Jade sighed deeply, then released a frustrated scream. With another sigh, he looked up at Alice. “When do we leave?”
“As soon as possible. Have your Royals been trained?” The Eastern and Southern Generals nodded. “Great. We leave in two days. Max.”
The remaining Generals nodded grimly, downing the rest of their drinks.
The cold air blowing from the window-sized hole in the wall nipped at Daisy-May’s skin. Her mother’s scent filled her nostrils, and in her half-awake daze, sat up and looked around the room. “Mama?” she whispered into the darkness of the room, at the suspicious figure in the corner.
Grey stepped forward, sitting on the edge of the mattress that had been hers when she still resided in the house Raphael had bought her. “ગુડ મોર્નિંગ, મારા પ્રેમ (Good morning, my love).”
“Something is wrong, isn’t it?” Sometimes, she wished that she didn’t follow in her mother’s footsteps. It was too early to be skeptical.
Grey smiled sadly, brushing the unruly hair away from Daisy-May’s face. “It’s time to go.” Grey whispered, and the sleep was flushed out of her system. “What do you mean it’s time to go?”
“I mean પ્રેમિકા (sweetheart), it’s time to face the Council, time to fight for our home, our people.” Grey replied without a hint of exasperation in her voice. Daisy-May stared at her mother, her hero, fear seeping into her veins. “I don’t think I’m ready, mama...” Daisy whispered uncertainly, glancing away in shame.
She had spent her entire life looking up to two of the strongest, most badass women to walk the planes of existence; spent her entire life being trained by them, and yet, at the mention of the most important battle of her life, possibly the most important battle that the planes of existence has to bare witness to, she is cowering away like a frightened child. Something she had stopped being a long time ago.
Grey felt an ache in her chest, and quickly smothered it, and her daughter. “Daisy-May Enyo Vasilakis-Argyros, daughter of Prince Raphaellie Ardeshir Maoz બીજા (the second) Vasilakis, and General Katherina Grey Artemis Argyros.” Grey pulled away, holding her daughter’s face between her palms.
“You are a Cosmos-blessed, warrior-princess in every sense of the word. I have absolutely no doubt that you are more than capable of tackling any, and everything Fate hands over to you. You, મારા પ્રેમ (my love), are amazing, strong and powerful. I know that you are more than ready. But, it’s okay to be frightened, to fear the unknown. I will be with you every step of the way.”
All Daisy could do was nod as her throat was clogged with a lump. Her mother’s words meant more to her than she would ever realize.
“We’re leaving as soon as we can. So begin to prepare. We’re going to kick some old, evil ass.” As Daisy giggled, Grey planted a kiss to her forehead then exited the room, going in search of her soulmate to deliver the news.
The atmosphere around them was tense, filled with emotions and unspoken words. Alice gave the other Generals the run-down of what was to happen.
“We split into groups of four. Trouble managed to convince the Dragons to allow us passage through their portal, and Alessandro convinced the Monks. Yue is more than willing to assist, and Ares has offered a hand, as long as Aurelia stays with him.”
“Wait... you’re still housing souls?” Jade asked, and both Grey and Alice looked at him guiltily. “Yes.” Grey answered, and the two males groaned.
“We need to deal with this, right now.” Swithun sighed, pushing himself off the wall he had leaned against. “Split. Jade and I will make the souls stable enough to produce a physical form.”
“Is that safe? Shouldn’t we just place them in the body of a dying soul?” Grey questioned, looking between the two Generals. “There’s no time for that now. We should be fine.” Alice cut in, and Grey nodded with hesitancy.
“Katty. I love you.” Sidra whispered, while Cassandra began to sob uncontrollably. “I love you guys too.” Grey whispered to them, wincing slightly as one of the souls burrowed deeper into her subconscious.
Swithun’s magic surrounded her, and she could feel the cold tendrils like fingers trying to pry open a stubborn drawer. Reluctantly, Tabitha left first, giving her gratitude and whispering a blessing on the General. Grey’s heart clenched, and she whispered a blessing of her own upon the young witch.
Sidra, swallowing her cries, left next. Grey whispered her blessing on the Lycan, and bit her lip to stifle her own cries as she felt a hollowness in her body.
Cassandra went last. After years together, they were finally coming apart. She didn’t hold back her cries as the cold tendrils of Swithun’s magic took hold of her and pulled her away from Grey. Quivering with sobs, Grey whispered her blessing on the vampire, and hoped beyond hope that Fate would allow them to meet again, on much better circumstances.
A comforting voice from her subconscious whispered, “Worry not, daughter of Titania. Fate shall look kindly upon you.”
Grey placed her belief on the whispered words, yet they did nothing to sooth the aching hollowness of her body as the three souls left, and now stood before her, a slight silvery glow around them as Swithun and Jade procured a physical form for them.
“This won’t have any repercussions will it?” Grey inquired with a tremble in her voice.
“As it is, there’s more Darkness in the Universe than Light. This is just a slight tip in the scales towards equilibrium.” Alice responded, slightly out of breath. Four figures stood before her, all baring similar resemblance to her. Grey knew only one was actually her sister; her hair was snow-white, and eyes as brilliant as Alice’s and Alessandro’s.
“It’s been a while, Aurelia.” Grey said, a smile blooming on her face. Aurelia nodded in her direction, giving a smile of her own. “That it has, Katherina. It’s good to see you.”
“Alice if you think for one fucking second that we’re leaving you, you’re dumber than I thought.” One of the figures seethed, her hair a deep shade of red. Alice groaned, rolling her eyes. “Alicia, માટે વાહિયાત ખાતર (for fuck’s sake), I’m not putting you in danger as well.”
Alicia stood defiantly. “I. Am. Not. Going. Any-fucking-where.” She enunciated, and Jade snickered along with Aurelia and the other two souls. “You’re already sending your best friends away,” she jerked her head towards the remaining Generals, “I’m not going to leave you to the wolves. Not this time.”
Alice sighed deeply. “You know I’m not going to relent. I’m just as stubborn as your crazy ass.” Alicia quipped, and Alice rolled her eyes again. “Fine. But Lia, you’re staying with Ares. Andi, you as well. Rora,” she turned to the remaining soul with cotton candy-pink hair and sighed, “I know you won’t go anywhere without Alicia.”
“Damn right.” ‘Rora’ said firmly.
“Now that we’re all settled, can we leave?” Alice asked, then her eyes landed on Grey and the three souls she had housed, now without the glow of Swithun’s magic. “What about them?”
Grey shrugged. “I was hopping Ales or Gamaliel could bring them to Zachary and Antonia. Take care of them until they’re ready.” She looked at the three women. “Is that okay?” They nodded, still quivering with tears.
“Okay,” Alice nodded, “I’ll ask.”
About half an hour later, and a tearful goodbye, Tabitha, Sidra and Cassandra were off, gone into the protection of the Rossellini clan.
Raphael held her close, rubbing her shoulder comfortingly and planting a kiss on the crown of her head. “Everything will be alright, mia regina. Andrà tutto bene."
"I hope so." Grey whispered, watching as the portal sewed itself shut.
~One more chapter to go, ladies and gents!
Thank you, each and every one of you, for giving this book a chance and making a small island girl a little happier.
More to come! But, in the mean time... care to check out the rest of my works?
Besos! ~Saph ❤