02 Theodore King
My best friend, Chris, leads me over to our bungalow, hosting my departing party. I’ve finally resigned from my position with the organization. Everyone was upset when I handed in my resignation papers but it needed to be done. I thought I could last longer here but I was wrong.
Sure my father visits every month but that doesn’t stop me from missing my other home. Every time I ask about it my father just says the same thing: It’s not the same without you. It’s the only thing that I can get from him. Now it’s time for me to see for myself. See what has happened since I left two years ago. Find out how she is.
I felt like a dick for leaving for so long. It was only supposed to be a few weeks but when it was time for me to go back, my father appeared in my room saying that it wasn’t a good idea. He never told me the reason for extending my stay but I figured that he wasn’t ready. Now I’m thinking otherwise.
2 damn years have passed by and I’ve never been visited by Aszurya. Every time I bring her into the conversation, my father quiets down and tries to change the subject. If only I could contact another from that realm. Some of my magical abilities have leaked through but not enough for me to contact Alaric or one of her brothers.
I follow Chris into our home only to be hit with a bunch of confetti and lights. Everyone in the front room yells the same thing all at one: “So Long, Theo!” I paste on a smile and either hug or shake hands with my coworkers. A blonde head makes its way over and hugs me tightly. I look down to see my girlfriend smiling up at me.
“I can’t believe you are really doing this, Theo!”
“Yeah, neither can I.”
I turn around to see my boss standing a few feet away with his arms folded across his chest. He walks closer and pats me on the back lightly before walking away and leaving me to my girlfriend. We grab some drinks and sample some of the food before mingling in with my employees.
Truth be told, Hailey’s only happy because she’s getting me all to herself. Now she doesn’t have to worry about which girl I may be looking at when I work. Not that I actually paid attention to the others. I also promised that I’d take the money I’ve been saving up and travel the world with her. Then, hopefully, she can make it big with her art.
When all seems to be sizzling down, the door flies open, the hinges shuddering along with the door, revealing a tall tan-coloured man wearing a grey leather suit, a purple neck scarf, and black stilettos. Everyone parts and stares at the flamboyant individual as he walks toward me with her casualty of a peacock. Just as he is about two feet away his skin turns green revealing an old face.
“Alaric? What are you doing here?”
“I’m crashing your party. I thought that was obvious.”
“Okay, but how did you find me?”
“Oh please, you’re not that hard to find.”
I frown as Alaric rolls his yellow eyes and hands me a gift bag. I look through the abundance of tissue paper to see a familiar half-used fragrance bottle. My heart plummets as I look into golden eyes and a solemn face. Excusing myself from the now dreary party, I drag the warlock up the stairs and into my bedroom. I run my hand through my hair, messing it up, and sighing as my stress levels rise immensely.
“What the hell?”
“It’s actually ‘in’ hell.”
I glare at the warlock. I don’t understand how he’s so calm about this. This cologne bottle was with Aszurya in a different realm. I doubt she would allow him to use it to track me down. And why would he have to track me down?
“What’s going on, Alaric? Tell me what’s going on with Aszurya. How is she?”
“Well, I suppose better than the way you left her. But I wouldn’t know.”
“What do you mean the way I left her? How did I leave her?” I ask, anxiety burying itself deep in my heart. That one dream that I had in the Obsidian has haunted me for a while. It’s like that dream queen purposely sends it back to me just to tear my psyche apart but that doesn’t account for the countless dreams I’ve had about her since I got back into this realm.
“Well she had an extravagant episode, killing a few dozen hundred citizens but that’s of the least importance. She had cuts all over her body. If she hadn’t slit her throat she probably would have gone from the amount of alcohol in her system…”
My breath cuts off as my mind registers Alaric’s words. Gone… What the hell did I do? She took her life after I left. Oh, fucking hell… That’s why my father always changed the subject. He knew what it would do to me. This is all my fault. I stumble towards my window, throw it open, and lean out of the window gasping for air as my world comes tumbling off its axis. This can’t seriously be true. I feel a hand on my shoulder pulling me away from the window gently.
“Hey, you didn’t let me finish. She’s not dead, okay? I was able to revive her and then her family locked her up in a cell so that nothing else happened to her. Her body was still severely damaged when I last saw her but she was in control and being watched carefully. Okay? Calm down.”
I nod my head and attempt to regain my breath but that’s a lot harder than I thought. So she’s not dead but she came so fucking close to it. And I know it’s because of me. It’s because of what I did to her. Or what I didn’t do for her. I almost lost my baby girl.
“You didn’t know?”
“Does it look like I knew? Do you think I’d still be in this damn realm if I knew that I did that to Aszurya? Do I really fucking look like I’d knowingly do that to Aszurya, Alaric? Be honest with yourself, Alaric. Why would I stay away from her after she tried to fucking take her life BECAUSE OF ME?”
Alaric reels back with wide eyes as my voice rises.
“Well, I suppose it would make sense that you didn’t know. I just thought you stayed away because you thought it was good for her mental health.”
“So why did you come here exactly? To make me feel guilty about my actions? Actions that I didn’t intend to make.”
“ I came to bring you back to the Obsidian. You see, it’s Aszurya’s birthday today and she sent me a sign that she is going to come back with her trainer from the retreat she was at. I have reason to believe that something else is going to happen, though, to solve that problem I need the both of you with me. Plus, I’m sure Aszurya will be happy to see you once more.”
“Aszurya’s birthday is today?”
Alaric nods his head and shows me a picture of Aszurya on her 16th birthday. I take the picture from his green fingers and examine it closely, wishing she was here before me. She’s wearing tight jeans and a white crop top with a hoodie on showing off her bronze abdomen. Her hair is shorter than it was when I met her, styled in a pixie cut with a red stripe going through it. Her hands are covered with fingerless gloves and placed on her hips as she looks at something in the distance. She looks so beautiful and at peace. It’s fucking sexy and guilt-ridden. I find myself wishing I could have been there during her teenage years. I wish I could be standing there with my hands around her waist and securing her body against mine.
“I’ll just say I have to step out and then we can leave.”
Alaric nods his head and leans against the windowsill as I open the door and walk out. As soon as the door is shut in, Hailey appears in front of me with a frown on her face. She glares up at me, her beautiful face wrinkling, with her arms folded across her bosom.
“Where are you going? I thought you said you were done with that Aszurya chick? Are you lying?”
“Look something came up and I need to leave, okay. Will you cover for me? I’ll explain everything later.”
Hailey nods her head and walks away in her black mini dress, which is shorter than I remember it to be. I watch her disappear down the stairs before releasing a long breath I didn’t even know I was holding.
I managed to fix things with Hailey when I came back with my father 2 years ago. She stopped accusing me of cheating, things became better, and I proposed in January. Things are finally going great between us. I’m even thinking of introducing her to my father. I’m sure he would love to meet Hailey; she’s kind of like Mom in a way. I turn around and walk back into my room to find Alaric watching me with wide eyes.
“What?” I ask him. The green man just shakes his head and opens a portal for the two of us.
“Come on, we probably should catch up with each other’s doings before making further plans. Over a drink, I propose?”
I frown and furrow my eyebrows at the words Alaric chooses. It’s almost as if he had accused me of doing something wrong in the time we were apart. But instead of questioning his tone, I shrug my shoulders and walk through the portal. It takes us to a small apartment near a city I remember by the name of Vistosa. The city of art. The most beautiful place in the world. That is when I’m not looking at Aszurya.
My memories of Aszurya and I in this city come flooding back, drowning me in a sea of emotions. We painted and drew for hours on end, nothing necessarily pretty coming out of our bodies. Then there were the stolen pecks and touches. I find myself missing our connection from then. Right before she closed the door on me, completely, that fateful day.
As I stand in front of the window of the living room, I recall the beautiful mural that Alaric painted for Aszurya. He captured everything that is beautiful about her in that one wall. He painted her eyes and the way they reflect her inner battle. He captured the way her stance gives off such a dominant presence scaring almost everyone who was around. He even managed to capture that hidden loneliness, only detectable if you know what you are looking for. I would do anything to see her once more; to hold her once more; to listen to her melancholy voice.
“Here,” Alaric says, handing me a glass of red wine and gesturing for me to have a seat at the table. “So tell me, what have you been up to in the past two years?”
“Oh, nothing much. Just working and making amends with my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend, huh. And how has ‘making amends’ gone?”
“Great, I guess. We’ve been engaged for 6 months now.”
“Oh really,” Alaric says while taking a long sip of his wine. He downs the glass of wine in a matter of seconds before leaning back and tapping a finger on the wood. “Well, I’m sure you two will make wonderful babies.”
I frown and put down my glass. He seemed different from the warlock I know when he said those words. Maybe we weren’t as close as I thought we were. Or he still blames me for what happened to Aszurya. There was a dangerously sarcastic undertone to his voice. He obviously has a problem with me proposing to Hailey. He already knew that I did it. The much is obvious. But for how long?
“Nevermind me. How’ve you been? And what’s the problem that you need me to solve?”
“I’ve been fine, thanks for asking. As for the problem, you remember Nadia right?”
I nod my head in response, vaguely remembering the strange fairy queen and her spritelings in the cloud-like court. Her movements were always graceful like a queen. But the way she interacted with Aszurya was always different. It was obvious that the two had spent countless nights together.
“Aszurya had a fling with her, right?”
“Yes, that’s the one.” Alaric nods his head and looks out of the window. I watch as he stands up and stalks over to the open window, staring out at his beloved home city. The way that everyone looks at this place sends cheers down my spine. It’s so full of love. The worst part is that I’ve never looked at any place I called home the way they do.
“She sent me a message a few days ago in my dreams. I was wandering around in a field of roses, the ones Aszurya’s clan is named after. I had no sense of direction and I felt that danger was lurking around. And then all of a sudden the flowers begin to burn intensely It was a fiery red inferno that seemed to hold everything in its grasp. Including Aszurya. Something’s wrong and we need to talk with Nadia.”
I tense up as my own dream from my time before in this realm comes back to me. The way that Aszurya called for me yet pushed me away. It’s obvious that someone was trying to tell me to make sure Aszurya knew. But that didn’t work out quite well. The fear that gripped my heart when I woke up, dwindling deeply. The shivers that crept down my spine as she called out my name. There was that same sense of danger lurking nearby that field of roses.
“I had a similar dream the last time I was here. It was shortly after I found out about Eddie. In the dream I was about six years old, running around in a large field of roses with black tips. My parents were only a few yards away next to a cottage my father owns. With no preamble, the roses started to burn. Everything was up in flames. I heard Aszurya calling out for help; screaming really. It sounded as if she was hurt yet she was pleading for me to leave her alone. To stay away. I couldn’t move. I was too paralyzed with fear to do anything about it.”
“I understand the feeling. Does she know about this dream of yours?”
“No. I never told anyone. I didn’t think it was meant to be told to anyone. I’m only sharing it with you because you said you had a similar one.”
Alaric nods his head and turns from me once more. “You should get some rest and then we will head over to the dream court.”
“What about seeing Aszurya?”
“That will just have to wait. Plus, she’s probably not even home yet. She’ll have to deal with her entire family welcoming her home.”
I nod my head and follow Alaric over to one of the bedrooms. He gestures for me to take a nap on the bed before leaving and walking into the other room. The bed in my room is large and comfy, decorated in an abundance of pastel blues. There are two nightstands with white lamps atop the wooden furniture on either side of the bed. On the other side of the room stands a large bureau made of the same material as the nightstands. And to top it all off Alaric placed a picture of the Isle of Gureanthum.
It’s all cosy and welcoming but I still can’t help but wishing that Hailey was here to keep me company. Or even Aszurya.