Chapter 83 - Current
“We’re caught in a current drawing us ever closer, and we’re still to realize we’re drowning,” Rowan remarked. Marcus held his hands out to them both.
“Too many coincidences led us to where we are,” Marcus allowed gruffly.
“Fate?” Alena suggested, and he considered her words for a while.
“Maybe, but I sense more at work than just fate or the machinations of just one person,” Marcus said with the memory of his dreams still close. His words caused unease in them all.
Rowan caught sight of the coast bathed in cold silver moonlight, and no words were needed. Barren of plants, and boulder-strewn, it resembled a moon landscape. The northern wind had a bite to it this close to land, although it wasn’t even autumn yet.
Rowan suppressed a shudder, a natural reaction to the forbidding landscape, as Alena came to stand beside her.
“I reacted the same way when I first saw it. I barely turned seven or eight and my fa... Victor brought me with him to meet with his allies to discuss the war. We came back the week before I turned sixteen to start my real training.” The cadence of Alena’s words spoke of horrible things and even more eloquently the way she shielded those memories, but Rowan sensed it.
“You don’t have to do that,” Rowan allowed as she took a deep breath to ease the dread Alena’s still suffered from those memories.
“What?” Alena asked, still guarded.
“You don’t have to stop calling him Father for my sake. He was that to you. It’s your right,” Rowan granted before she turned to walk away, and Alena stood transfixed.
“What about your rights?” Alena called after her, and Rowan halted.
“Victor fathered me, but he was no father to me. He caused me suffering to test my mettle. He interfered in my life but never bothered to become a part of it. He saw me as a pet. Something that belonged to him only in his mind,” Rowan shrugged it off, but her voice betrayed a gruffness that spoke of hurt, not hatred.
Alena turned back to the rail. She thought with shame about the jealousy she once felt of Rowan. In her mind, Victor loved Rowan enough to defy the elders, turn a human, and save Rowan, even at the cost of the woman he loved.
To Rowan, he had been the unseen puppet master that yanked her strings and burnt her soul. Alena understood how deeply Victor damaged Rowan. No one could construe anything he did to Rowan as love, and Alena frowned as she realized that she hated him for making Rowan suffer.
Alena understood Victor better than she wanted to, and he probably thought that sending Martin to Rowan to educate her and help her, would make up for his absence. Victor chose the wrong man for the job.
Rowan was born for Marcus and he for her. If Martin hadn’t been such a prick, the two would probably never have met; Alena admitted to herself as she stared into the night. There was that thing again, fate, she reflected as she leaned on the railing.
What was her fate, where would it all end for her? She wondered, and she knew it wasn’t just the small stirrings of life inside of her that wrought the change in her perceptions. It was Rowan and Marcus, even Byron and those below deck.
Marcus emerged from the shadows, and he sensed her preoccupation but said nothing as he too leaned on the rail. He stared briefly at her before looking to the coast.
“Does loving people always hurt?” Alena asked. Marcus had sensed a turmoil brewing in her for a while now, and he wondered if she would speak to him of what ailed her.
“I loved my mother, but her fear of my father’s displeasure created a distance between us. He made her believe her love for me was a weakness that she should hide from him until she did so even when we were alone,” Alena briefly closed her eyes with her thoughts both near and far.
“Loving Victor hurt like a bitch. You had to earn his love every day, and I only gained his respect once,” she admitted.
“Even when he conceded to praise me, I sensed disdain in him. I wasn’t his son or strong enough. When Rowan wasn’t a boy either, he lost interest in her. Abandoned her the way no animal would reject their young,” Alena shook her head, and anger showed in the set of her mouth.
“Does loving Rowan hurt?” Marcus asked, and Alena lowered her eyes to the sea.
“Yes,” she admitted, and he didn’t have to ask why.
“Everything I am, everything I represent, and every word I say is a painful reminder to us both that Victor was everything a father shouldn’t be, because he never shied from what he was,” Alena revealed.
“He could never drum these human notions from my mind, and he couldn’t prevent me from feeling them. He saw it as a flaw that he didn’t allow others to witness in me,” Alena said with a bitterness Marcus never heard in her voice before.
“I don’t,” Marcus disagreed, and she turned to look him in the face to gauge his sincerity. She knew what he meant, and she nodded her acceptance as she absorbed the magnitude of his simple statement.
“Victor doesn’t define you, as he doesn’t define Rowan. You’re too sensitive about this. Victor hurt both of you, but you wouldn’t be the same people if you were raised differently,” Marcus explained as he touched her nose with affection.
“The two of you, more than anyone I know, understand just how sacred love and trust is, how rare a gift,” Marcus turned to leave and neither of them saw Rowan disappear into the shadows.