The Forbidden Village

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Chapter 21

Avin was the king’s personal justice system. He was, in a word, an assassin. That explains all of the scars, the new wounds, and his many disappearances. Also, why his sister was so worried about him all of the time. In fact, it explained pretty much everything about him. But killing was a very dangerous job for anyone to be in.

“Yes, I feel much better, thank you,” Avin replied bowing slightly to me before standing back up. I only managed a half curtsy back. Still a little mixed up about him being an assassin. It just didn’t fit, but at the same time, all of the pieces were there staring at me right in the face. Confronting him was the last thing on my mind, but something in the back of my mind was telling me to push him.

“You know, I was kind of expecting something better from the king’s right-hand man,” I commented lightly while staring at my fingernails. I was trying to sound like I was joking, but I’m not too sure that was how it came across.

Avin straightened up; his whole body was as tight as a drum. Uh-oh, I’m in trouble. But then his whole body relaxed and he seemed to be hunched over a bit. Avin turned around to face me again. He looked so defeated and worn out. Then he dropped his eyes to the floor.

“Oh?” was all that he said, as he continued to stare at the floor. He looked so sad.

I wanted to hug Avin. I wanted to hold him close. I wanted to make him smile and laugh. I wanted to take back what I had said, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do any of it. He was engaged to someone else, and no matter what my feelings were for him I couldn’t ever tell him how I felt.

We stood there in the bathroom, not saying a word and not even looking at each other. The only noises were the sound of our breath and the birds that were chirping outside the window.

I hadn’t meant to make him upset. I didn’t even think that he was going to be so touchy about it. Did he even really want to be the king’s right-hand man, to begin with? From what I could tell from his reaction he either hated himself or hated what he did or perhaps even both.

“Well I’m sure that it’s probably just a temporary thing because of the war and all,” I commented quietly trying to sound confident. “I mean like once you’re married then he will probably leave you alone, right? I mean it’s not like you’ve been doing this your whole life.”

Avin looked up from the ground sharply after my last comment. He narrowed his eyes at me. I wasn’t sure if he was just being guarded or if he was angry with me about what I had said.

“You wouldn’t understand,” Avin replied through clenched teeth. Oh yeah, he was pissed.

“Well, can you make an effort to explain to me exactly what I don’t understand?” I asked feeling slightly miffed. But I tried, not very successfully, to sound like I wasn’t. Avin ran his hands through his hair, angrily, as he stared at me like I had just asked him to explain the meaning of life to me.

“My father is just trying to make me fit to rule when it comes time for me to take the throne,” Avin replied with force. It sounded like he was almost trying to convince himself of that too.

“But is that who you want to be?” I asked as I gestured to all of Avin. “Is this what you want your legacy to be, a killer?”

“No!” Avin exclaimed in frustration, and for a moment, I saw him. The real Avin. He was scared, no, terrified of what he was becoming. Just as I blinked his face went slack with weighted defeat. “But this is who I need to be.”

I took a step towards Avin to comfort him, but I was blindsided by images that were moving painfully fast in my mind. Suddenly I wasn’t in the bathroom anymore. I was in a beautiful garden, with statues and a pond at the center of it.

I looked down at my hands and noticed that I couldn’t see them at all. Oh no, not again. I tried to clench my hands to see if I could still feel them. I breathed a sigh of relief when I felt my fingers touch the palm of my hand. Great, this exactly like what happened back at that prisoner’s camp.

I looked up when I heard a noise, and some voices coming from the other side of the garden. I walked towards the sounds to find out what exactly was making all that racket. On the other side of a statue, rolling around in the grass was a young girl and a huge black dog. Which kind of resembled a wolf once I got a closer look.

The girl with the wolf was the same girl that I had seen in my other vision. The only differences were that she was much younger looking, and she only had a tattoo on her chest. The other tattoos were nowhere to be seen.

As the girl was rolling around in the grass with her wolf, I noticed that there was someone else there too. A person was standing at the edge of the forest, hidden by the shadows. The young lady seemed to be oblivious to the figure in the woods that was now walking towards her. But the dog did. I felt fearful for the girl, but she had a huge dog with her, so I’m sure that she would be okay.

The dog stood up on all fours to his full height; ears flattened to his head as he growled at the approaching figure. The young girl stopped and looked up at the approaching figure. She smiled a huge smile and ran up to the figure.

A couple of seconds later, she and a young man came tumbling out of the woods, laughing. The young man looked strangely familiar, but I couldn’t figure out where I knew him from. The young man rolled on top of the young lady and stood up on his hands and knees over top of her.

“Get off of me Zavin,” the young lady protested still laughing, as she pushed up on his chest playfully. Zavin? Oh. The young lady was in love with Avin…the young lady, I suddenly realized, was me.

There was a flash of light and a painful burning sensation in my chest that, if I could see, would’ve made me see spots from the pain. But I couldn’t see anything because of the blinding light. I couldn’t even scream.

Then as suddenly as it had happened it was all over, just like that. I was staring at Avin with my mouth wide open and my hands were clutching at my chest where the pain had been. I felt lightheaded and dizzy.

Well, this was a new feeling. One in which I never wanted to experience ever again. Air rushed into my lungs, and I started coughing and gagging. My legs felt like Jell-O and couldn’t hold me up for more than a second. I fell onto my hands and knees coughing and gagging as I tried to remember how to breathe.

I had felt like I was drowning and was now trying to cough something back up, but nothing was coming back up thank goodness. I managed to calm my breathing down a bit so that I was panting. I felt a gentle hand on my back, rubbing up and down. After a couple of minutes, I was able to speak. I sat up on my legs and turned to look at Avin.

“You’re not a monster,” I told him without thinking about what I was saying. “You don’t need to listen to them.”

I felt like someone else was speaking, but they were speaking my thoughts. For a moment, I saw a flicker of hope in Avin’s eyes, but it was burned up by a fiery anger that I hadn’t expected from him. Avin stood up and glared down at me.

“You don’t understand!” Avin replied seething with rage. He ran his hands through his hair in frustration. He was going to lose his hair faster that way. “I’m a cold-blooded killer! It’s what I’ve always been raised to be!”

Avin turned away from and started for the door.

“But is that who you want to be?” I asked quietly, staring at Avin’s back. I didn’t like him yelling at me, but I wasn’t about to lay down and remain silent.

I prayed that he would turn around so that I could show him exactly what he meant to me. But he didn’t. Avin stopped where he was and sighed.

“It’s what I need to be,” Avin replied, with the same answer he had used earlier. He sounded so defeated and beaten down. I wanted to run up and hug him until all of his pain and sorrow was gone, but I knew that I couldn’t.

I was frozen to the spot. Why couldn’t I tell him how I felt? Why couldn’t he see who I was? Wait…who was I? All of these visions and memories made my brain feel fuzzy and mushy. I couldn’t think straight. I needed some sleep, badly.

“I’ll be out in the other room,” Avin commented into the silence. “You should get to bed soon.”

Then Avin left. I stared at the door after he left for a moment or two before I decided that I needed to get up off the ground. I grabbed the edge of the counter and used it to help hoist myself up and off of the floor. It took a couple of tries but eventually I got up to a standing position.

As I got the feeling back in my legs, I happened to glance at the mirror. I was stunned to see the tattoo from the young lady, who I still didn’t fully believe was me, on my chest. I tentatively reached up and touched the tattoo. It looked similar to the one that I had on my arm but much smaller and much more compact.

There weren’t any scorch marks around the tattoo like I had thought that there might be. It didn’t hurt either; it just felt warm to the touch. I gently rubbed my fingers over it, curiously. It just felt like natural skin, no bumps or flakes just skin.

My vision started to blur. I had to blink a few times to get my vision back into focus. I needed to get some sleep. Tomorrow was a big day and the last day. I was going to challenge the head healer and then be sent off to the medical camp to help with getting people back on their feet.

I sighed and rubbed my face to try to scrub away the stress. Then I walked out of the bathroom and jumped into bed. I didn’t even notice anything in my room; I was so tired. Within a few minutes, I was out cold.

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