The White Rose
Atlas woke up in the middle of the night, he tossed and turned but couldn’t get back to sleep. He kept having the same recurring nightmare, Roisin in danger, and him behind a pane of soundproof glass, with the walls closing in.
That fear gnawed at him, he’d been unable to save his son from death, he’d lost his wife, he’d lost his nephew too. Roisin was the only family he had left. Roisin reminded him of his sister, Roisin’s mother, Ruby.
It had been so many years since that day he lost them both. Ruby and Darenth, Roisin’s father...
Fourteen years ago.
It was a sunny day in Ishtall, Atlas was in town to see his sister, Ruby and her new daughter, Roisin. It had been three years since Atlas had last been able to stop over in Ishtall, and back then, Roisin hadn’t been born, and his nephew Syl had just been born.
Atlas arrived at his sister’s apartment building, it was newly built and had views of the coast, last time he visited they had been living in a small flat on the other side of the city, “Darenth’s new job at Crystech must be paying well” Atlas thought to himself as he entered the building.
Atlas made his way up the spiral staircase that sat beside the modern looking reception area. He noticed how well guarded the building was. “Good” Atlas smiled, he liked to know that his sister’s new home was a lot safer than her previous one.
Atlas finally reached the 11th floor, and headed to his sister’s apartment, he knocked on the door but there was no answer. He began to worry and banged his fist against the door.
“Alright! Alright! I’m on my way!” Ruby laughed as she headed over to the door. Atlas breathed a sigh of relief, his sister opened the door. She looked very much like Roisin turned out, only slightly older, and taller. Little Roisin also ran up to the door.
“Is that Uncle Allas?” She asked, Atlas smiled.
“That’s him, wanna say hello?” Ruby patted Roisin’s head. Roisin turned to Atlas then ran at him and hugged his leg. Atlas almost fell backwards in surprise, Ruby burst out laughing.
“She’s been looking forward to seeing you in real life!” Ruby chuckled. “I’m glad you always made time to call in every other night” she smiled as she too hugged her brother, Atlas looked over her shoulder and saw Syl fighting a holographic dragon with a sword, he raised his hand as he let go of Ruby.
“Ah! There’s my apprentice hero in training!” Atlas yelled, Syl looked over at Atlas in surprise and was knocked over by the holographic dragon. The words “Game Over” appeared behind him, Syl ran over and hugged Atlas, being careful not to knock Roisin over, who was still holding onto Atlas tightly.
“Looks like you have a future fanclub here!” Ruby laughed. “Come on in!” She welcomed Atlas into her home, Roisin and Syl followed, with Syl holding Roisin’s hand to make sure she didn’t trip, Atlas noticed Darenth was asleep on his armchair by the balcony window.
“This place is really nice, Ruby!” Atlas smiled as he looked around, the apartment was split into two floors, the upper floor was set backward slightly and had an open-plan hallway and staircase, the windows of the balcony extended all the way to the second floor roof. The first floor was open-plan too, with a large kitchen area and a giant living room.
“Yeah, Darenth was able to get it with the money from Crystech. He apparently works with Rychard Pyre himself!” Ruby explained, Atlas took a seat, he spent the afternoon playing with Roisin and Syl. That evening, Ruby had gotten a babysitter in to look after the kids, so that she, Atlas and Darenth could go out for dinner.
Ruby stepped out of her bedroom, dressed in a long red dress, it had a white rose on the shoulder, where the fabrics connected.
“You look... okay” Atlas shrugged.
“Okay?!” Ruby roared, Altas burst out laughing.
“I think you look amazing” Darenth chuckled.
“Thank you” Ruby beamed. Darenth and Atlas were both wearing their best suits, Darenth’s was traditional black and Atlas wore a navy blue one.
“Ah hope you all have a nice night!” Roisin smiled, she was sat near the TV, with the babysitter sat close by, Syl had fallen asleep watching cartoons about his favourite hero, ‘The Ceruleum Crystalliam Knight’.
“We will, sweetie, now don’t stay up too late and don’t give Gina here any bother!” Darenth smiled.
“We’ll come and kiss you good night when we get home” Ruby smiled.
The three headed out to have dinner.
Later that night, after the three had finished, they were stumbling back to the apartment, half drunk. None of them noticed the black car pulling up nearby.
They didn’t notice the assassins exiting the car.
They did notice when the guns fired, Atlas did notice when his sister and brother-in-law fell to the floor lifelessly, their crimson blood flooding the granite pavement.
The white rose on Ruby’s dress stained red by her own blood.
Atlas did notice how he was spared.
The Assassins didn’t know who Atlas was.
They knew as he effortlessly took them all down within seconds.
Atlas fell to his knees, and cradled the body of his sister, he cried until his eyes stung, until his throat was so tight he could barely breathe.
The police arrived quickly along with paramedics, but there was nothing the paramedics could do, they had been dead from the moment they had been shot.
Hours later, Atlas called the babysitter and asked if she could stay the night, which she agreed too, and she told him he didn’t have to pay her anymore.
Before the police had arrived, Atlas had inspected the car for evidence, he had found a contract. Someone at Crystech had paid to have his sister and brother-in-law murdered. Some lowly employee, an old co-worker of Darenths, named Arthyr Ayr.
Atlas tracked down this man, he broke into Arthyr’s flat, not by picking the lock, but by breaking the door down with his sword, he walked into the living room, the flat was dingy and had a horrible smell, on the coffee table were what looked like various types of drugs, and cans of beer.
Arthyr himself was laid on the couch, asleep still despite the noise from the front door, Atlas walked into the room and quietly closed the living room door. He raised his fist to the door.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Atlas’ fist smashed through the plywood door with every bang, Arthyr shot up from his slumber, and looked at the shadowy figure.
“Why did you do it?” Atlas asked calmly.
“Do what?!” Arthyr quivered on the couch.
“You ordered the death of my sister, Ruby Wyst and her husband Darenth Wyst. WHY” Atlas’ voiced boomed through the apartment, he raised his sword to Arthyr’s chin
“I... I..,” Arthyr shook.
“I! I!” Atlas mimicked.
“The bastard deserved it! He took all my ideas, he took the girl who was meant to be mi...” Arthyr stopped as he saw Atlas face change, and his eyes begin to glow red.
“You killed my sister” Atlas said in a low voice, staring at the floor.
“You killed her... BECAUSE YOU FEEL THE WORLD WAS UNKIND TO YOU?!” Atlas screamed in rage.
“No... I... she gave me the money... told me to use it to ‘take care’ of my rival, said if I did she’d offer me great power in return” Arthyr stuttered.
“She?” Atlas relented, his eyes returning to their normal colour.
“Amanda something or other, looked like she’d come from a land that doesn’t see the sun so often... pale... dark hair on one side, blonde on the other.” Arthyr described the woman, Atlas knew who it was.
The realization sunk in, his childhood friend, Amanda Ferras, the woman who he’d crossed paths with in the last few years, who he’d thwarted time and time again, she did this... Amanda killed his sister. His sister was dead because Amanda wanted to get at him, his sister was dead because of his own actions.
Back in present day, Atlas stood on the balcony of his room, the view here was very different to the one from Ruby’s apartment. The Moon shone down on the distance in the desert, illuminating it as if it was the ocean itself.
Atlas sighed, he looked down at the building Roisin was sleeping in. He wouldn’t let that happen again. He couldn’t let that happen again.