The After Effects

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The Never-Ending Surprises

I rolled my eyes at the ridiculousness that just left my brothers mouth. There’s no way I’m anything but human...

“Okay, I think its time you take a break. Your imagination is running rampant.” I scoffed at my brother.

His jade green eyes narrowed at me. “Ivy. I’m not lying.”

“Locke... I fought in that arena for my life for six years. If I was anything but human, I would know. Soren told me yesterday that magical beings have advanced healing... I limped out of that arena with broken bones and cuts that bled for days practically after every fight. I know that I’m just a human.” My voice rose with each word.

“And there’s an explanation for that, if you would listen to me.” Locke countered.

Giving up on trying to fight him, I decided to just let him talk.

His jade green eyes must’ve registered the resignation as he went back to talking.

“Our parents aren’t from here... They’re from Conale, but they left years ago,” His emphasis on years had me bristling. “and came here in hiding. Where they then had us.” His emphasis on us told me he meant all three siblings. “Then when the merge happened and mother died, father took control of the North.”

“We’re Fae?” I put his unspoken words together.

“Yes. And the reason you don’t have advanced healing or any powers is because you haven’t come into your Fae self yet.” Locke’s face grew more and more serious and sadder as he went on. “Ivy...” I knew I was going to dread whatever he was going to say. “Ingrid, she was so close to coming into her powers and that’s why she sacrificed herself.”

My whole body stilled as he mentioned our sister’s name. Neither of us had said her name for years. Exactly three years ago, when we had to leave her corpse to be buried by our father.

Ingrid. She was a beautiful soul, the kindest and sweetest big sister that any little girl could ever hope for. She had the craziest red hair of all of us, her huge curls were thick and flowing, always falling into her face. Her sea-green eyes held so much intelligence. She was the best of us three. If anyone deserved to take the throne after our tyrant father, it was her. She had the smarts and compassion to be an amazing ruler.

That was until she threw herself into the arena during my hundredth fight and I wasn’t able to protect her.

Of course, she threw herself into the retched pit for that same reason. To protect me. Father had made sure my last fight was my hardest. I ‘walked’ away with a broken femur, three shattered ribs, crushed hand, dislocated shoulder, so many lacerations, and bruises that covered me from head to toe. Ingrid didn’t walk away at all.

See after I broke my femur, I was struggling. When I dislocated my dominant shoulder, I started excepting my fate. Then when they kicked in my ribs, I closed my eye... waiting for the calm after the storm.

Although it never came as Ingrid jumped down into the arena and proceeded to kick some Viking ass. And although she started off so good, she didn’t watch her back-something that was always my job when we trained-and a male drove his sword through her chest.

The sounds of her screams fueled my pure adrenaline rush and I completely blacked out. Coming too surrounded by dead Vikings and my sister's corpse.

Nobody ever told me what happened when I blacked out, in fact, my last fight was the one that gave me my title. Because whatever happened when I was unconscious was enough to scare the King of The North to let me go.

“What do you mean she was close to coming into her powers?” I asked, pulling myself from my memories.

“She was a month from turning twenty-two. Which is when most Fae come into power. She figured that since she was so close, she could draw her power early but it was too late when she realized that to be untrue.” Locke blinked his eyes, clearing them of the liquid that threatened to fall.

Ingrid was three years older than me and a year younger than Locke, making her the middle child and me the youngest.

Doing some quick mental month, I figured my birthday to be two months off. Two months until I turn twenty-two and come into my powers.

“For being the genius of the family, she was so stupid.” I sighed, allowing a tear to run down my face as both Locke and I chuckled.

We fell into a silence, the talk of magical creatures and our heritage seemingly over.

The chirp of birds and the smell of late spring filled the air. The sun was hidden behind light clouds, making the day so pleasant.

“For a big horse, that stallion can run.” A deep voice rumbled as Locke looked over my shoulder.

“You just can’t stay away from me, can you?” I turned to Soren and saw blue eyes glinting with amusement.

“I’ve got to keep an eye on the Acer. Father’s order.” Soren explained as he walked up to the fence I currently stood on, and tossed his arms over the top wooden rail.

“I hope for you and your father’s sake that you’re kidding,” I said as I looked out to the field. Ragnar turned and trotted to me, apparently he was done being wild for the time being. I thought as he set his head down on my shoulder, practically hugging me.

“And if I say I’m not?” Soren asked, watching as Ragnar walked towards Locke, who had his back leaning against the fence, facing away from Ragnar’s approached self.

“I might just have to take you up on your oh so important Acer fight.” I climbed the fence to the top rail and swung my leg over as I talked. Sitting on the fence, I turned my back to Soren, who wasn’t happy about that and moved in front of me.

Watching as Ragnar pushed Locke’s head, who wasn’t paying attention in the least and freaked out with the sudden touch, I snorted a laugh as Locke turned and glared at Ragnar, muttering a curse and calling him a “Useless money burner.”

“That ‘money burner’,” I quoted with my fingers, “Would sell for more than you to most merchants.” I glared at my brother who glared back.

“Keyword: most." My brother grinned, thinking he won. I rolled my eyes.

My eyes shifted to Soren, who hadn’t taken his eyes off of me. “How many more dragons are out there?” I asked.

Something close to sadness crossed the Prince’s face. “As far as we know, my father and I are the only remaining dragons. And even at that, my father can’t shift anymore.”

Confusion shifted my face. “Why can’t he shift?”

“He’s too old,” Soren said.

I had to hold back my laugh. “That’s ridiculous, he doesn’t look a day over fifty.” I don’t even think he has gray hairs.

Soren chuckled, “As much as he’d appreciate the compliment, he’s older than he appears. About a thousand years older than that.”

I nearly fell off the fence I was straddling as Soren said a thousand. In fact, I had no words for the Prince as he sounded confident about that number.

“His dragon and him can’t make the shift anymore, it would kill both of them as neither of their bodies can handle it,” Soren explained. I looked to Locke, who wore no expression, apparently already knowing all of this.

“That’s why he brought you back, so you could be coronated.” I put two and two together.

“Precisely. I’m to take over his position soon, whenever his mortal body starts to show his true age.” Soren sighed, sadness was again apparent of his face.

“That’s why you really wanted to fight the Acer.” I realized. “So you could make him proud before...” I left the rest of the words unspoken.

Soren’s slight nod was all I needed.

Silence fell over us again and I looked to my horse.

Ragnar trotted up to me and I jumped to his back, deciding to run him a bit before he has to go back to the stable.

My brother and the Prince simply watched as I whistled for Ragnar to pick up the pace and we ran back and forth inside the boundaries of the fence.

As the spring wind filled my lungs, I felt the stress of everything I’ve been told melt away.

The never-ending surprises of this day. I sighed.

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