CHAPTER 6 - WE MEET SCREAMING WOMEN
As if on cue, the banshee who told me I was supposed to be dead, opened her mouth at an unnatural angle and let out the loudest, bloodcurdling scream I had ever heard. Troy and I stuck our fingers deep into our ears, hoping our eardrums wouldn’t burst.
There are no words to describe how horrific the scream of a banshee truly is. I wanted to lie down, curl up and die. The screaming was so intense, there was nothing we could do. The only good thing that came of this? The banshees took my mind off the cold. My head began to swim and my eyes blurred.
“When will they ever stop and take a breath?” I thought, all the while the banshees constantly screaming while floating around us.
“How do we defeat them?”
“Do they have a weakness?”
If he said ’what’ one more time, I was going to slap him. But since we had our fingers stuck in our ears, plus the constant (and irritating) screaming, I understood Troy couldn’t even focus on lipreading. Eventually, my fear turned into anger. I saw a rock the size of a fist near our supplies. Taking a deep breath, I ran and picked it up, wincing at the same time when I uncovered my ear and felt my ear canal vibrate. Turning, I threw the rock towards the one who wanted me dead (obviously) and although the rock bounced effortlessly off her face, it was enough to make them all stop screaming. I sank to my knees. I had never been more grateful for silence than I felt at that moment.
“How dare you throw a rock at me!” The banshee’s voice sounded like glass breaking.
“Yeah? Well, you wanted me dead!”
“Luring you to your death was part of my mission. You were supposed to die!”
“I heard you the first time. Besides, you can’t kill me,” I countered. All three banshees now turned their blood-red eyes on me, waiting in expectation for me to reveal my amazing secret. Even Troy was interested in what I had to say.
I stood up - rather shaky - and placed my hands on my hips. “Because two years ago, when a dog bit me, I got my rabies vaccination!”
Troy buried his head in his hands. “We’re doomed,” he muttered. But banshee number one (who wanted me dead) looked perplexed.
“Rabies? What is that? Is that some sort of foreign spell we do not know of?”
Still standing proud, I looked as confused as the banshees. “Come again?”
“Spells! It is our only weakness.”
My heart lifted, so did Troy’s head.
“Spell? Ah… yes, of course, it’s a spell! You said I was supposed to be dead. But the rabies vac… I mean the rabies spell grants me immunity against creatures like you.” I was hoping my poker face wouldn’t slip. So far so good. All three remained silent.
“Now, who is the person who wants me dead. Explain yourself.”
I wasn’t expecting any of them to comply, but then the one in the middle said, “We serve a great mistress, who knows all spells. She wants both of you out of her way!”
“She felt your presence the moment you stepped foot into our world! If you know what is good for you, you will run back from whence you came. She will find you; she always finds her enemies!”
“Does this mistress have a name?”
“You will know soon enough! Attack!”
Note to self. When a banshee shouts ’attack’, they actually mean ’scream’. The shrieks began again and vertigo washed over me. Troy was on his knees, clutching the sides of his head and his eyes were shut.
My gaze turned from Troy to the river. I never noticed it before, but the waters began to bubble as if they were boiling. The screams of the banshees stopped. Everyone’s eyes were now on the River Trent.
A tall, beautiful woman rose from the foam of the waters. She wore a strapless, sapphire dress and had a golden diadem on her blue-black hair. On closer inspection, her dress was actually water, peacefully flowing into the river. Her sapphire eyes were striking. The banshees saw her and (you guessed it) screamed. However, the woman raised her hand and said in a tone that was not too commanding, but not gentle either.
At this, all three banshees fled into the forest, but not before one of them gave me the stink eye. I helped Troy to his feet and we both stared at our rescuer. Her serene features somehow made me feel at ease and that we were no longer in danger.
“Thank you,” I must’ve sounded desperate because I valiantly burst into tears. Troy held me by my shoulder. I began to tremble, then hysteria kicked in. Troy yelped when I fell to the ground. I had never seen creatures like these before. In my mind, these were things made up to scare children into being good. I was trying to comprehend everything I had just gone through in my wavering mind.
“They’re not supposed to exist! They’re only legends!” I was crying and giggling at the same time. I then pointed at the lady, who still stood on the spot where she rose. “She’s not supposed to be real too! How can she stand on water? How can she ’wear’ water? She’s not real! Neither are the banshees real!” I didn’t realise that through my hysteria, my voice rose to an almost perfect banshee pitch.
Troy violently shook me. “Get it together, Tristan!”
“How could you possibly be calm after what we just went through?!” I demanded.
“Do I look calm?!” He stretched out his arm and I saw his hand was shaking vigorously.
I kept shaking my head. The banshees couldn’t be real, no more than my grandfather was when I saw his face underwater. I looked at the woman, who remained in the river when she vanquished the banshees.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “Are you the mistress they spoke of?!”
“If I were,” countered the woman, “would they have fled in fear of me?”
Troy looked at her. “Lady, we’re new here and we’re trying to adapt. Who are you?”
Smiling, the lady replied, “I go by many names, but you may call me Vivien.” I didn’t mean to snort, but I tend to do those sorts of things at inappropriate moments.
“It’s okay, we all get given embarrassing family names to preserve our family tree--”
“Tristan!” Troy hissed.
“That’s Vivien!” Troy was looking at her with absolute awe. He hardly blinked.
“I know, she just said that--”
“No, I mean, she’s the Lady of the Lake!”