Chapter Twenty-Four: Weak Souls
Back and forth, Stavros had been pacing outside of the medical wing door for the past ten minutes, repeating words in his head and hoping they’d string themselves together.
He didn’t know why, out of all days he chose then and there to confront his emotions head-on, but he wasn’t going to to test it while he had the nerve, he just hoped he wouldn’t regret it later on.
Salvatoris, dressed in freshly pressed white robes, came around the corner showing brief surprise and growing frustration when Stavros came into her view, they both knew she’d be late for her shift, one of her biggest pet peeves.
“I need to speak with you” he said trying to hold up his calm front.
“Must it be now, Stavros? Could you not have chosen a better time?”
“When am I supposed to talk to you? I never see you and when I do you are mad with me? It’s hardly fair”
He noticed the slow fall of her chest, a sigh, she was annoyed he thought, how was it going so wrong already?
“What is it you want to speak to me about?” she asked, perfecting her uniform and arranging the papers on her clipboard.
“My heart has chosen another”
Not looking hurt or even angry she replied “is it a true connection” although he knew she was feeling something, she wasn’t entirely made of stone.
“I think so, but Salvatoris I am deeply sorry-”
“Do not apologise, our relationship was dwindling. I am glad you could find another to make you happy where I could not.”
“I really do love you,” he said, knowing it wouldn’t make it any better but simply wanting her to know.
“I know and it is reciprocated, but it is not love built to last, the fondness will remain”
“Can we continue on as friends, like we used to?” he asked naively, reminding her of how he was as a child, so innocent and hopeful.
“We have been for years, it definitely will not be ending now”
“Is that a bet?”
“I have work to be doing,” she said ignoring his comment as she pushed open the doors.
“I will be holding you to that bet”
Waving him off she let the door close, it didn’t disturb the smile on his face or his uplifted spirits.
Sauntering from the medical wing and through the main hall, a cry came from outside drawing his attention to the main doors.
He had no time to draw a weapon from the wall display of short swords when the doors blew wide open and collided with the mountain walls.
There was no one in sight in the door entrance that could have caused that force, never in his life within Evangelis had he seen winds do that, even in major storms they’d held firmly and the winds were definitely nowhere near that as of then.
Guards charged in behind him, weapons drawn and at the ready as they positioned themselves before Stavros.
Their stances changed as more cries and hollers echoed through the mountain peaks from outside causing Stavros to take a step back, the weapons were on the pushed back wall beside the doors, he wouldn’t have time to run there and back.
An Evangelian guard, named Trius, who he knew from training reached the door's threshold from outside, his body almost entirely dripping with blood, but with not even a scratch in sight, the blood wasn’t his.
The guards began to step towards him but they were too slow, Trius screamed and collapsed to his knees, his cries strangled and gargling as he spilt blood from the gash across his throat.
His body dropped forward, the blood beginning to pool and trickle down the front steps.
Feeling his breath catch in his throat as if he were drowning, Stavros took a few steps backwards again as the guards fiercely made their way to Trius’ body.
Whispers and murmurs passed between the group but were quick to turn into gasps and calls of fear as one by one they dropped dead.
They kept falling, their throats slit by what looked like jagged claws, and Stavros did nothing but back away defencelessly, even as a guard ran for him shouting for help only to drop at his feet dead.
With a split decision, Stavros collected up the guards sword and horn which was only ever used for emergencies, the noise would each through the halls reaching the ears of the citizens.
Taking off at a run, the last guard dropping behind him, he took in a deep breath of air as he pressed his lips to the end of the horn, from there he blew.
One name went through his head over and over in desperation, Salvatoris.
The deep call of the horn reverberated off of the walls, he could feel the vibrations in the air around him as he kept running.
Doors slamming closed and locks being done up could be heard down the hallway as breath after breath he pushed on, his lungs straining themselves to continue on for the sake of his people, he was in charge in Dalamis’ absence, he had to do right by him.
Bursting through the medical room doors, he slammed them closed behind him.
“What is going on? We heard the horn” Salvatoris said worried but still holding onto her calm composure, something she and the other healers had in common when in a rush or dealing with a difficult decision.
The other healers had gathered behind her in the recovery room, all appearing concerned, in his mind he told himself that they should be more scared than they were, if they had seen what he had they would be fleeing for their lives.
Banging came from the door behind him, the door creaked and groaned in protest as the wood began to splinter and crack.
“Get in that room now!” he called, pushing Salvatoris through the door, he himself going in last as the door gave out.
Placing his hands on the door he pushed it closed but it stopped just short of the door frame, claw marks scratched the woods surface but with nobody to show for it, Stavros panicked, how could he hit something he couldn’t see?
His mind was racing but he silently thanked the skies that there were no patients in the rooms or things could have been much more complicated.
Putting all his weight forward to try and push the door closed, his feet pushing on the floor behind him, he peered through the narrow window on the door.
Everette looked back at him from the other side, how could it be? There was no one there a second ago, and Everette wasn’t back with the King yet, was she?
Confused and lost for what he should do, he was caught off guard, giving the claws a chance to leave their mark on his forearm bringing him out of his daydream.
Using the pain to fuel his energy, he pulled harder on the door as Salvatoris came from behind him with a broom and began jabbing the end in the gap of the door.
The broom was clearly hitting something that wasn’t thin air, a thudding noise resonating before pressure on the door relieved sending him falling forwards, the door closing with a deafening clack as he fell against it.
Under instructions from Salvatoris, the healers began barricading the door as she attended to Stavros and his wounds, helping him from the ground and towards a bed.
“What is going on?” she asked him, concern more discernable in her voice than before.
“I don’t know, but we need help”
“How do we do that when we cannot see what it is that is attacking us?”
“There has to be a way” he said, his face showing discomfort and pain as the weeping wound bled.
Her hands were incredulously gentle, the same sweet nature he remembered her always having and even as she stitched his arm and wrapped it, he felt no pain.
His eyes were lost to hers, she still held his heart and probably always would, but so did Everette.
“Most of the guards are dead if not all of them by now. They just kept dying, one after another they fell. There was blood everywhere” he recounted hazily, he felt sick, his skin hot and an uneasy feeling building in his stomach.
She handed him a bin to which he hugged to himself, his head hanging over the opening allowing the stench of cleaning products to filter into his nose.
Stavros felt his stomach convulse as he threw up, coughing ensuing although it didn’t make him feel any better.
“You did right by running. If you had stayed to fight many more would have perished, it was you that warned us Stavros” she reinforced to him.
“I might have” he muttered, more bile threatening to rise and burn his throat.
A knock came from the door, muffled voices accompanying it although what was being said was not clear.
Collecting a scalpel and taking it from its packaging, Salvatoris neared the door nodding to her fellow healers to move the barricade.
“Speak your names” she demanded, keeping her foot sturdily behind the door.
“Kayla and Kai Thorne. What’s going on?” came through the wood.
Another nod to her colleagues and the door opened, her hand clasped onto Kayla and Kai’s arms dragging them inside as the healers reinforced the barricade.
“We have been attacked although it is unsure by what as of now” Salvatoris explained.
“How do we not know what it is?” Kai asked doubtingly.
With a strained voice, one that muttered more as his stomach twisted, Stavros answered “They’re invisible. Or at least I thought they were”
“You saw one?” Salvatoris questioned with creased brows.
“I saw Everette” he uttered queasily, his hands clutching the bin tighter as his eyes stared widely at the distant wall as if seeing everything again.
“Well, that’s impossible because she’s with Solon” Kayla informed them with obvious information.
“I saw her” he whispered before bowing his head to the bin again.
Kayla, wincing at his state, noted “He doesn’t seem well” aloud.
“What’s our next move,” Kai asked, his critical thinking showing through.
Salvatoris hadn’t thought of a solution to their problem as of yet having been too preoccupied with Stavros and their safety, but they were undoubtedly in need of one.
“We must get a message to someone outside of Evangelis. The king cannot reach here, we cannot have him in danger”
“My bother and I can do it” Kayla suggested
“Don’t drag me into this” her brother replied.
“It would be too dangerous, we must find another way”
“Well let’s get brainstorming then,” Kayla said with a hint of excitement.
* * *
Kaydence reached his and Mayfel’s temporary room, his mother with him.
They entered the room to find Ida pacing impatiently on the far side, everyone else seemed to be eager and waiting in anticipation rather than impatient which somewhat relieved him.
“We don’t have long, Vasilios or Vallen could find out my mother isn’t in the annexe at any second,” he said.
“I do not understand why she must be here, Elena could be working alongside them afterall he did raise her from the dead and most likely has much control over her” Ida judged cruelly already putting Kaydence on edge.
“Keep quiet” he snarled only for Erabos to get involved.
The green-haired man stepped forward with angered heat in his eyes “Do not use such attitude when speaking to my mother”
“I am done listening to her comments all of the time, she never has anything useful to say but she feels as though she needs to run her mouth”
“How would you feel if I said something such as that so your mother?” he said snidely, sparking Kaydences temper, his hands now fists at his sides.
Mayfel being the braver one, stepped between the three of them “Kaydence did not call us here to argue, right now we need a way out of here. Beside Kaydence has some information we need to know, so if everyone is done talking then we can continue”
“Do not think you can tell me what to do” Ida started off again “Your lover may be a descendent of mine and of the King’s bloodline, but it gives you nor him any authority over me or anyone else for that matter. I am sure I am not the only one that fees that way” she said looking to the others.
“Kaydence doesn’t care about his blood and I can positively say that neither of us feels as though we have any right to authority. We are simply fed up with wasting time, so if you don’t want to get along with us and possibly find an escape from this place, then you are free to leave and stay here with your ex and Kaydences father”
Kaydence hadn’t seen Mayfel so defiant or stern about something, it wasn’t entirely a bad thing.
He knew he was an independent soul, he’d shown him that much the entire time they’d known each other, but he hadn’t known him to argue back so much.
There was still such a vast side to the man that he hadn’t encountered yet, but it excited him to know that he’d have years ti discover it all or so he hoped at least.
His dreams and Vasilios’ words troubled him deeply, perhaps he didn’t have years.
“Lady Ida” Elan began, her words reaching all their minds as she softly spoke “I do not know much of you except what my son has told me, however, it is clear to me that I owe you my gratitude for saving him. Speaking as a mother, I wish the best for my children, as I’m sure you do for your son. We have limited options and so we need to remain civil, if not for ourselves then for our children”
Seemingly hearing her words and absorbing them instead of deflecting them as she would with Kaydence, Ida replied a little calmer.
“Tell us everything you know,” she said although still demanding it.
Kaydence took his time to explain, he didn’t want to miss a single detail, even the ones Vasilios had n him to excuse for their safety as he put it.
He spent time answering their questions, trying his best to do so clearly and with as much information as he could, although some were a little difficult such as when he tried to explain how magic sources work and how Vasilios had tapped into them, leaving Ida to do it for him.
When the book and talisman were mentioned, Ida became intrigued to put it lightly, her questions were more like demands and Kaydence wasn’t sure if he should stop talking, in no way at all would it help them if she went off on her own mission to steal the objects.
It wasn’t like he could avoid the topics since everything he had to say, stemmed from it, so bracing himself for the worst, he continued on.
As predicted, Ida asked where the book was being help and admittedly, Kaydence was surprised it took her that long.
“I did not tell you about it so you can go after it, I told you because it proves what you said about another race existing before ours.” he stated wanting to make it crystal clear so there was no misunderstanding.
“So how do we get out?” Evan asked
“There is more he is not telling us” Erabos divulged.
“No there isn’t, but even if there was, there’d be a reason for keeping it hidden wouldn’t there?”
“How do we trust you if you lie and keep secrets?” Ida stressed.
“You’re one to talk, you lied to us for months about you and the Mati, not to mention my relations. So I could ask how we could trust you too”
“Both of you need to calm down” Mayfel warned. “Clearly he doesn’t think what he knows is worth sharing, if he did then he wouldn’t keep it a secret”
“No offence Mayfel, but aren’t you a little biassed?” Fraya mentioned.
“He knows Kaydence best so he knows what he’s on about” Evan joined in.
“We’ve been following Kaydence for a while now and look where that’s got us” she complained.
Becoming combatant, Mayfel fought back “None of that has to do with Kaydence.”
“You’re right, it’s because of both of you. If Kaydence would have just let you die as fate wanted, then you wouldn’t have had that bond that needed magic to break it. We would never have gone to Mater Arbor and ruined an entire civilisation. You chose Mayfel’s life over the hundreds and now possibly even more” she ranted to them, her deep purple eyes savage and sharp.
“And if I had to make the choice again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” Kaydence hissed.
“Stop, just stop!” Mayfel yelled “That’s enough! This arguing is getting us nowhere, all the while Vasilios and Vallen plan their next attack”
“What is it you have in mind in terms of escaping,” Elena asked in their minds.
Defeatedly, Kaydence answered her feeling tired and beaten down to the bones “I don’t know, I don’t have any knowledge of the land and it would be too far to run to the portal opening, we’d be caught too easily. Especially with the marshes in our way, as well, Xenia can’t create a portal here either. Vasilios’ magic is too strong and corrupt”
“You must get further away from Vasilios,” she said.
“That may work, but Vasilios’ magic is intense and has poisoned everywhere. My portals might not work anywhere in the realm no matter how far we go” Xenia spoke up.
Ida who had, for a sweet two minutes, remained silent chose to join the conversation adding her own thoughts.
“There is one place, but I cannot guarantee that it will work”
“Where?” Mayfel asked.
“In the far mountains, there is a cave I was told of by some of the inhabitants that lived here. When Vasilios began to change for the worse, he forbid me to leave, he posted guards at the entrance of the portal to prevent me from leaving. I was pregnant with Erabos at the time and so, with no other choice left, I fled to the mountains. I walked for a day and night until I reached the cave they spoke of. As you now know, Arravan was once all connected and when our realms were created after the lands split, we put up borders to separate our worlds. This cave sits on the edge of the border, a neutral ground some would say. And so if the magic from Nix’s realm, which neighbours this one, is strong enough then it may allow us to create a portal. But cannot say for certain it will work and we may fall to the wrath of Vasilios for attempting to reach it” she explained.
“When should we try to escape,” Evan said, asking the question a lot of them were thinking.
“When Vasilios and Vallen fall asleep tomorrow night” Ida answered.
“Why tomorrow, why not tonight?” Mayfel questioned.
Kaydence, caught onto her plans “Because she wants to go for the book and talisman. I’m not helping you”
“I was not going to as for your help, Fae. You should all pack, seek out any food and water you can, but be sure to not get caught. If you do, then our chances will fall to nothing”
“And what about my mother, I won’t leave her here with them”
“It is not you mother, there is nothing we can do for her, she would want you to escape and live” Ida noted.
“It’s my mother, I couldn’t her once, I won’t make it a second time”
“What do you intend to do? You told us before that she cannot stray far from Vasilios”
“I know but there has to be a way around it,” he said assuredly, he felt as though he was saying it to assure himself and not to persuade Ida.
“It is her r the entirety of Arravan and the other realms. You said it yourself, that you would save one life over millions for the man you love, but are you willing to do the same for her as well? I do not have time to play around with dangerous magic, we must alert everyone before it is too late”
“Don’t make me choose, it isn’t fair” he said pained.
“Your mother is dead, there is no choice. You simply must wake up and see it for yourself, life is not fair but we must live on” she remarked walking past him and out the door with Erabos and Xenia trailing behind.
“We’ll go look for food” Evan noted, leading Fraya involuntarily from the room feeling the atmosphere change.
Kaydence stood looking at his mother and Mayfel with sorrow, he felt useless and lost and yet her eyes held no sadness in return.
He felt a hand take his own and on looking down realised it was Mayfel’s.
“I will leave you to talk to your mother,” he said quietly.
“Will you not stay? M mother has been asking about you, I want you to meet her before I have to leave”
Mayfel obliged gladly, he extended his hand to Elena “My name s Mayfel Kierser” he said politely with a hint of a smile to which she reciprocated.
Accepting the welcoming gesture, she took his hand and to his surprise yanked him towards her bringing her arms around him in a tight embrace.
He now knew where Kaydence got his slightly shorter height from which was noticeable when he stood next to Dalamis who clearly took after their father.
“I know how much of his heart has been given to you, I don’t want it to be broken, he may act tough at times and he is strong, but his heart is fragile and has been damaged too many times. Please look after him” she said to him and him alone.
“I wouldn’t want to hurt him and I have no intentions of doing so”
smiling, she caught a glimpse of the necklace around his neck, she scooped it carefully into her palm and flipped it onto its front to read the words inscribed on the back.
“It is fitting that you wear this”
“How come?” he asked, watching the way she handled it.
“I gave it to Vallen as a wedding gift, perhaps now it will truly represent the love it was supposed to stand for all along”
“Kaydence was adamant about me having it”
A sweet chuckle emulated in his mind, a beautiful summer blossom, blooming and lightening his mood.
“It is in the right hands now,” she said placing it back to his chest. “I will now take my leave before I am found. There is much you both must talk about” her eyes fell to Kaydence holding the same brightness as a mother might have when first laying eyes on their newborn child, pride and love illuminating her blue irises.
“I will be there to say farewell before you leave tomorrow night,” her voice told them both before focusing on Kaydence's mind. “Such a determined man you have become,” she said leaving a kiss on his forehead, something he’d grown accustomed to her doing in the few days he’d met her.
He watched her go, wishing he could reach out and stop her but he knew she had to leave, part of him wished it was all a dream and that she was never brought back, that way she wouldn’t have to be taken from him again.
“What time is it?” he asked still looking at the closed door she left through.
“I don’t know”
“It always looks dark here, I feel so tired and drained all of the time”
“Do you want to try and sleep?” Mayfel suggested.
“I can’t, I need to find a way to save her”
“We have all day tomorrow to figure something out”
“All day won’t be enough” he retorted, regretting his harsh reaction seconds after.
Not taking it to heart, Mayfel stepped closer to him letting Kaydence rest his head on his shoulder in a silent apology.
Mayfel ran his fingers through the golden curls, it relaxed Kaydences mind as did Mayfel’s words which he whispered to him softly.
“I know you’re under a lot of stress and in a way you’re still mourning, I know how you feel. We will figure something out, together, but for the time being, you need to rest. It won’t do you any good if you can’t stay awake”
“Why does everything have to be so complicated?” Kaydence mumbled.
“It’s just the way the world works I suppose. But we have to keep fighting”
“I’m losing the will to fight, it’s too much to do every second of every day”
“I know, but it’s not just you fighting, I’m right here beside you, so if your brother and your mother”
Kaydence wrapped his arms around Mayfel’s waist letting his fingers unconsciously draw swirling patterns along his back.
Slowly but surely they began to sway, Mayfel leading them from side to side gently, Kaydence could feel the subtle muscle movements beneath the soft fabric of his shirt.
As they swayed more, Mayfel moving them in a slow-dance fashion, Kaydence couldn’t help but let his lips curve into a smile excusing the fact it was small, it was a flicker of happiness nonetheless.
The brunette took up one of Kaydences hands, his other resting on his waist as they swayed around the room, their steps slowly increasing in pace and Mayfel adding in a twirl here and there as the room filled with harmonious laughter.
For half an hour they went on, Mayfel leaving kisses over Kaydences knuckles as he looked up at him through thick lashes, his indigo eyes intense with a million emotions.
Kaydence tipped his head back with his index finger, it was enough for him to see his face in its heavenly entirety and as he leaned towards him so his lips hovered over Mayfel’s, each breath they took colliding, he looked for any sign of hesitation in his eyes.
His gaze searched the rest of Mayfel’s porcelain face, the way his cheeks were slightly blushed, how his lips were slightly parted as he breathed and how they were slightly rough from the hot weather and the way Mayfel observed him and he did the same.
Tilting his head slightly to the side, Kaydence placed a gently, flutter of a kiss to the corner of his lips, Mayfel’s eyelids fluttered, even more so as Kaydences lips brushed along his cheek stopping by his ear where he whispered “Mayfel, I-” although not able to finish because of Mayfel who interrupted him in an equally faint voice.
He spoke Kaydences name only as if calling him back to him, Kaydence brought his face back in line with Mayfel’s again and looked into his eyes.
“Is something wrong?” he asked, fear rising in his chest as he endlessly searched for a reason in Mayfel’s eyes.
Holding an unbreakable connection, Mayfel replied “I love you” in a brief second before their lips locked.
Kaydence repeatedly whispered I love you between their parted lips to which Mayfel would respond with I know seemingly appeasing Kaydences addiction to the word.
“We should get some sleep” Mayfel suggested when their lips finally parted and foreheads resting against one another’s.
“I don’t feel tired, there’s not a chance I will sleep now”
“You should at least try” he urged leading him to the four-poster bed where he pulled him to the mattress rolling on top of him so he couldn’t leave.
With his head resting on Kaydence's firm chest, listening to the thundering beat of his heart a melodic drum lulling him into a sleep-like daze like a metronome he revelled in the sensation of Kaydences fingers slipping onto his hair where they wound the brunette locks around.
Mayfel’s own hand, collected Kaydences free one ad began to trace patterns, with no meaning or reason, over his palm.
It was enough to relax Kaydences tense muscles and relieve some of the anxiety just enough for him to fall asleep.
His mind sent him to the dark depths that haunted him.
Seeing himself in his dreams again, not in the same place as before although it did seem similar.
The ground was barren and cracked, the skies green-tinted and in the distance, the ruined city of New Montem.
He hadn’t even killed Mayfel and yet there he was, slumped in his arms, Acuere’s blade plunged into his stomach.
In front of him were the frozen faces of Zack, Aveline, Stavros, Dalamis, Halda, Everette, Ida, Xenia, Fraya, Evan and Erabos stood before him, some partly covering their faces or the faces of others closest to them.
Examining the rest of the world around him, he could see the green hue hanging in the air, latched onto the dust particles and seemingly the very air he breathed.
Not again he thought, all he wanted was one peaceful night without green skies, death and blood.
His arms tightened around Mayfel’s body as his eyes fell back to him, purple eyes wide open and looking back at him was what he was faced with.
He never wanted to see him look at him that way in reality, he never wanted to see him lifeless and grieved, not after the first time when he nearly lost him.
Four colours that stood out amongst the ashen ground caught his eyes, with one outstretched hand he began to wipe away the ash revealing the four stones.
As gently as he could, he rested Mayfel on the ground even if it was a dream he couldn’t bring himself to just abandon him.
His hand clasped around the Aurem Orb, his muscles tensing as he expected paint to riddle his body but as the seconds droned by, none came.
“What happened here?” Kaydence asked having heard footsteps, he didn’t need to look up to know who it was.
“What does it look like?” Vasilios asked standing over him and Mayfel’s corpse.
“Please, make them stop, make the dreams stop. I can’t take it anymore” he begged on the verge of tears, his voice choking up and shaking with built-up stress.
“You need to listen with your head. Your dreams are a map, but you’re not looking at the entire journey. Listen to the dreams and what they’re showing you, then you will understand. Although you may not like the outcome”
Holding up the stone to him, Kaydence could think of nothing else but to beg and plead for him to help.
Vasilios, the man that lacked empathy, looked down on Kaydence with a hardened glare “You are a weak soul” he hissed just as the stone cracked and turned to ask in Kaydences hand, drifting and dispersing over Mayfel.
The floor began to shake and shift, the ashy ground around him rose and split jaggedly.
“You will be the destruction of the fae. Fate is set, it is your destiny. Your birthright”