Chapter 11 - Memory
Finally, Alena returned to break the uncomfortable silence Marcus intentionally allowed to grow. It spoke of too many unsaid things and grew pregnant with unvoiced emotions which broiled beneath the surface and added to their tension.
The cold, damp cave and its too quiet, hollow feeling, did not help. One could not resist acknowledging the passage of the ages in this place or the awareness that so many took shelter here, but time buried the memory, and their lives, in the dust. Someday others would sit here, and the memory of the three of them would be gone too.
“The prophecy said:
From the night of blood
the one will come,
summoned by naught but one,
and by the way of will be done,
escape death where it had come.
Enemies at common mercy lay,
to stand as one,
to fulfill that which must be done,
follow the rules of creation,
to slay the dragon,
and you will have won,” Alena quoted without Marcus having to say a word.
“It didn’t make much sense until last night. The blood moon rose, and our men perished. You came and should have died. Marcus summoned you on his own, and we are enemies against a common foe that have to stand together. The rest we don’t understand yet,” Alena admitted. She wanted Marcus to speak, to explain, and make it all sound more credible, but spitefully, he would not, and he let her suffer. He wanted her to bridge this divide with her sister, and she could not fault him for that, she resisted him at every turn, but she could not deny him altogether.
“But?” Rowan asked with the acute perception of their father, and Alena nodded.
“But, there are a lot of broken pieces of text bound with clues,” Marcus revealed and then neglected to continue. Alena didn’t have to look at him to know he expected her to speak.
“The next clue read one and two,” Alena supplied cryptically, and Rowan frowned at her sister’s obvious reluctance to share her conclusions. She couldn’t decide if Alena felt uneasy or if she didn’t want to divulge their knowledge.
“Which would make sense in many ways, until we found the next piece:
One to rule
and one to sway,
and one may live another day,” Alena allowed Rowan to draw her own conclusions.
“That makes little sense,” Rowan countered, she didn’t want to be difficult; It was just her opinion. She intended to play their game until sunset, she convinced herself, but something in her was unappeased by what it called her cowardice.
“And if I add:
one to rule and two to sway.
These are the rules you must obey,” Alena added, curious to see what conclusions Rowan would draw from this scant information.
“The last part implies that those are the rules of creation, but it still makes little sense, you don’t need two to sway,” Rowan murmured. Marcus and Alena glanced briefly at each other.
It didn’t make much sense to them either, but at least her mind made the same connections as theirs, and she came to the same conclusions.
“What if all of this means nothing, what if it’s a deception?” Rowan finally asked, and it wasn’t something which hadn’t occurred to them before.
“I would rather die trying; than just wait to die,” Alena confessed, and Rowan could see from the fury in his eyes that Marcus agreed.
“How do you know it’s this creature, this vampire?” Rowan demanded.
“How do you know that it is this prophecy and that you’re not just making massive leaps in deduction?” Rowan asked, and it surprised Alena how articulate Rowan was. She sounded even more educated now that she was less uneasy, yet how could she have attained such instruction? Alena wondered for the second time, but she had no time to think of such things. Alena looked askance at Marcus before she withdrew something from her bodice.
Rowan took it, unfolded the piece of aged leather and on it saw the same symbol she spotted on a medallion in the mud, churned beneath the hooves of many horses in one village the raiders destroyed. She had picked it up out of the mud, both drawn to it and repulsed by it, an emotion she could not understand but she kept the small piece of gold for no reason she could fathom.
It wasn’t worth much, and she wasn’t the sentimental type, but somehow she could not make herself discard it. It must have had meaning to someone, she reasoned, and she felt that if she kept it, the memory of that person would not vanish. They destroyed the village where she found it, along with every man woman and child in it.
It was the first time she encountered such complete and heartless destruction. The violence of what happened seemed to linger in the atmosphere, and she knew that even after a thousand years that place would retain the memory of what occurred. The blood of so many dead people didn’t just run into the ground and disappear.
She once stood on the battlefields of Old Har; the place where the king’s army fought the most significant, bloodiest battle of all time, and even though it had become fields where cattle grazed, you could still feel it. The echo of blood spilled, lives and dreams lost to the throes of violent and horrible death, remained, as if the earth preserved their memory. Even if she hadn’t known of the battle, she would have recognized the feeling.