Issiryth's Curse

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CHAPTER TWENTY

Finding and Losing My Way

As the dark cloud of emotion surrounded us, we could no longer conceal our sobs. There was nothing we could do to save him and the helplessness of it all was overwhelming. Closing his eyes with her fingertips, she laid down over the blood-soaked shirt. Her black wavy hair fell over his chest as tears streamed down her face. My hands wrapped around his still warm arm as I cried. In my mind’s eye, I could see the way his eyes furrowed when I had made sarcastic remarks. The very touch of his skin was etched within the fondness of my memory. I was at a standstill, not certain if I should press on or not. How would I do this without him? I had lost Blane to jealousy and I had lost my Stark to tragedy. Serena’s eyes glimmered with an evil scowl.
“All of this your fault you ugly bitch,” she snapped.
“Serena, I’m sorry. I never meant for this happen. Do you honestly think I ever meant for this to happen?” I asked.
“You could have saved him and you chose to save that asshole over there,” she said pointing toward Blane’s island.
“I’m sorry. I never meant for any of this happen,” I reiterated.
“It doesn’t matter now. You’re here. Now just leave us alone. I will have to take care of this. If I get caught helping either one of you, there will be hell to pay,” she said.
“What do you mean take care of this? What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“I want you to get the fuck out of here. I’ll take care of Stark,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. I leaned toward his body, stooping low enough to press my lips to his ear.
“I love you too,” I whispered.

With my arms, I struggled to pull myself away from the two of them, dragging behind my large, heavy tail. I managed to break the bond that Serena and I shared by getting both far enough away and removed from her energy. As my human legs came back into form, I looked back at the beach where he had laid to rest, but there was nothing, only a shadow of blood left in the sand. I was solitary in my journey now and although this was a frightening realization, I knew it was most advantageous to press on. It was made quite clear I wasn’t supposed to be here, but as hard as I had fought, I’d be damned if it was all done in vain.
Crouching down, I disappeared into the foliage of the beach which was a much more primitive scene than the island I had most recently acquainted myself with. I wasn’t provided with instructions or allies. So, armed only with my intuition and tenacity, I remained steadfast. The jungle presented me with some unfriendly foes within the branches of the trees. I could hear some quite unsettling shrieking. When from out of the greenery, a monkey appeared unexpectedly. Waving my arms in front of me, I slapped and kicked him with my best effort, but his little body lunged forward at me. His razor sharp teeth barred down as he mounted my shoulders. His monkey fingers held strong to me, interlacing themselves into my tangled hair. He shook my head, as I swatted at him like a fly. I knew he, like many of her other creatures, had an obligation to eliminate humans. My will for life would have to outsmart Issiryth’s system, but how? I shook my shoulders around with a force that catapulted him off of my body. Soon, I found myself surrounded by more of them, showing me their razor-sharp teeth and unsympathetic disposition.
One by one, they persisted in their teasing and aggravation. Each pulling my hair or trying to cling to my body. My legs became inspired to movement as my feet hit the ground with ambition. I pumped my legs as fast I could, but they were relentless, becoming more viscous with each step I took. A monkey swinging from the branch swooped down. I could feel it breeze against my head. The pinch of a hair being plucked from my scalp felt as though I was a duck being prepared for dinner. Their low grumbling growl warned me of my imminent defeat as another attacked me from behind. My breath was short and heavy from the physical exertion as I scanned the terrain. A nearby branch at my feet was the perfect solution. I could see them approaching me from all directions as I spun in a circle, swinging the branch from side to side.
“Get away from me you little fuckers!” I screamed.

More still, surrounded me. Their beady eyes presented themselves from the depths of the foliage. Swarming around me like an aggravated hive of bees, they reared their ugly teeth at me. Raising the branch high above my head, I screamed and growled in a similar manner. Their eyes stood open, as they froze.
At a standstill, I knew I had to act fast. I scanned the crowd of monkeys to see if I could find one friendly face amongst the hideousness of their regard. A baby monkey rested upon the furry back of its mother. His little eyes looked at me with the innocent gaze of acceptance. The corners of his lips turned up with a soft expression of smiling naivety. I smiled back, nodding my head at him. What if I couldn’t make it work this time?
“Concentrate Liza,” I told myself. As the sweet softness of his eyes peered into mine, I could feel the warmth of cozy arms, cradling me like a newborn. A mother’s soft cheek pressed against mine as the monkeys in the trees above me cheered on my arrival. On top of mama monkey’s back, I could see my brothers and sisters swinging from the trees.
I could feel my body shrinking down smaller and smaller as coarse, brown hair populated the area of my skin. Suddenly the shrieks I was letting out were in a language only the monkeys could understand. The viciousness of their of appearance faded into the nurturing demeanor of concerned parents. One of the females in the group approached me, stroking my new fur and examining my face. I stood like a statue as her finger poked and prodded me. No sooner did she agree that I was safe, did she scoop me up in her arms, placing me on her back. In this momentary safety, my fingers curled into her fur. My little head tilted down, pressing my cheek into her back as she carried me. The monkeys scattered about, finding their places on the branches of the trees.
My beady eyes bounced up and down at the rhythm of her march as we voyaged through the forest, far beyond the safety of the beach. Colorful birds flew overhead, chirping and squawking at us. The lizards slithered through the branches and up the trees. The animals of the forest all seemed to be headed in the same direction where a large beam of light was illuminating something up ahead. The other monkeys followed us as we continued afoot. The path wound around a large tree with long, winding branches extending out in all directions. The light was becoming more powerful now as we turned the corner. Small rays of sunlight beamed down through the branches of the trees, shining upon it like a beautiful beacon of wonder. A tall pyramid made of symmetrical golden bricks stood before us. Each creature stopped in front of it. Their eyes shone with the awe of magnificence. Mama monkey’s gentle footsteps puttered softly now, uttering its march upon the ground with quiet redemption. The energy of the pyramid pulsated through the forest with a beautiful splendor. Mama monkey fell to her knees as the other creatures bowed toward it. It was at that moment of comfort and bliss that my intuition was shouting at me.
“Issiryth,” I whispered. The wind breezed through the trees as each creature let out a roar.
How would I get in? My eyes scanned the pyramid, but each brick touched one another, holding the structure in perfect stability. Mama monkey held her one-knee position. In wonderment, my small eyes stood wide open as my fingers grasped her fur. I had hoped she would venture around to the other side of it, but in her slowing, she had become mesmerized with its grandiosity. I knew I couldn’t depend on her to continue both concealing my identity and providing me with a passage. So, I tasked her only with providing me momentary security.
As sure as I was that I needed to enter the pyramid, I was certain to do so with minimal suspicion. Mama monkey’s little feet began to move beneath her. Step-by-step, she moved closer to it. Many of the other monkeys were moving into the illuminated structure. With heavy feet, they moved in slow motion. They were cautious, yet drawn-in.
Scanning the large, yellow bricks with my tiny eyes, I spotted a small hole in the brick just large enough for my monkey body to fit through. Eureka. I thought. Gripping mama monkey’s fur in my tiny fingers I screeched as loud as I could, pointing toward the hole. Her feet moved a few steps closer. Tugging at her fur, I shook her back and forth as I let out a few more high-pitched screeches. As I did so, she took a few more steps.
We continued on the path, moving in slow motion. Her monkey- fingers extended out toward the yellow brick, almost touching it. My fingertips in her fur clutched so tightly, I could feel my heartbeat in my knuckles. My eyes never left the small hole in the brick. My feet against her back sprang as I leaped on top her extended arm, using it like a bridge to the hole. My tiny body shimmied through dark space in the brick. Her eyes stood open as wide as frying pan lids as she threw her head back and screamed out for me. It was too late.
As my body slid through the hole, I could feel the transformation beginning again. Mama monkey’s cries could be heard from the outside as I left her. Little did she know that I empathized with her. I too had lost my precious sons to Issiryth. I felt a sudden surge of guilt, knowing I had only used the monkey as means to an end.
As my body grew larger, I could see the room I was in growing smaller. My head hit the concrete ceiling in no time. The room was dimly lit with a small torch hanging from the wall. It extended out into a long walkway. Rubbing the back of my head, I grabbed the nearby torch, illuminating what was in front of me. The walkway extended out even longer than I had anticipated. My head scraped the surface of the ceiling as I walked down a narrow passage that led to a red door with a brass handle. I swallowed hard as my hand grasped and twisted it. Who knows what may be lurking on the other side? Was it my children or a fate worse than death? As I pushed the door open it revealed another very small room. I placed the torch at its rightful place on the wall as I sized up this new room I found myself in. This time the ceiling was a bit higher and I could walk freely without bumping any of my extremities, however, there were only four stone walls surrounding me. There was no other place to go other than out the red door I had just come through.
I began to place my extended palms all over each stone wall, checking it for a crack or crevice. Perhaps I could find a way through. I thought. My hands slid across the walls, but I found nothing I was missing. There was no passage. There was nowhere to go. I was trapped. Slinging my body to the ground, a fit of tears escaped my eyes. My nostrils filled with warm, gooey slime that slid down my face. I wiped away the gobs of salty tears and snot as the despairing feeling of hopelessness spread across me like a wildfire.

Perhaps I would stay locked away, in a prison, left to rot and die. I thought. I would only be remembered as the single mother who lost her children. I curled up in a ball of failure on the cold stone floor, allowing my tears to travel down my cheek and puddle beneath me. I held my knees close to my chest. I screamed and cried. If there was no one to hear me, was I even making a sound? I swept my arm up under my head to form a pillow and closed my eyes for what I thought may have only been a second. After a few moments of this, I drifted off, crying myself to sleep.
From a distance, I could hear the satisfaction in his voice as he spoke with a booming tone. My eyes were dark and murky in this dream world, only seeing and feeling a small semblance of a true projection. I could feel the large, strong hands on my waist, wrapping around me with a polite warmth. His breath on my skin felt like heavenly bliss as he planted soft kisses about the back of my neck and shoulders. My body felt trembling and weak at the sensations he was giving me. Pulling my hand back, I felt the fullness of his blonde hair through my fingertips.
“Stark,” I whispered turning around to feel the wholeness of him again. I gazed up into his green eyes with hopeful bliss.
“Liza keep fighting,” he said. His voice resounded throughout my head like an angelic choir.
“Stark, don’t leave me,” I whispered back, pressing my lips against his.
I could feel his hands pulling me closer and exploring my body. His breath grew heavy with desire for me. I could feel myself growing with the anticipation of his eagerness as I slung my leg up around him. I couldn’t stop myself from the passion I was feeling. I felt his warm lips make a trail of sweetness down my neck and in between my breasts as I threw back my head. Arching my back and shutting my eyes, I could further indulge in the sensuality of the experience. I ran my fingers through his hair, grasping large locks of it and moaning out in a plea to fulfill my desires. As my head returned to its original position, I opened my eyes again to behold my lover who was there to fulfill me. His black eyes moved through my soul like a snake slithering through the grass.
“Blane,” I gasped staring into him.
“Why have you betrayed me, Liza? It’s him you want. Isn’t it?” he accused, holding me by my shoulders and pressing me up against the wall. “Admit it. It’s him you want, not me.”
“Blane...I,” I stammered, turning my head to look away from him. He shook me, pressing me on the wall again.
“Answer me, Liza,” he growled, inhaling my skin as he always had in the past. “I loved you. I gave you the world. How could you do this to me?”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered still looking away from him. “I love you both.”
His hands trembled on my shoulders as he gripped me tighter. His breath was heavy on my neck as he drew close to me. He scrunched up his face, accentuating every wrinkle, as he grimaced in the pain of jealousy and defeat. His eyes cried genuine tears as he held me close, then released me from his grip and turned away. His hair grayed before my eyes at an alarming rate while his tall strong body became hunched over. When he turned back to see me, it was no longer the face of the lovely man I had fallen in love with, but that of a very frail and old man. His hands gnarled and bulged with veins of age as he placed them upon my face once again. In disbelief of the transformation, I pressed my back against the wall hard, trying to be the furthest from him that I could be. I shuddered at his touch, disgusted by his unsightly appearance.
“Well then, it looks like you’ve made your choice,” he said turning from me again.
“Blane, wait. Please, how do I get to Issiryth? How do I get the boys back?” I pleaded. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. The only thing he wanted was forever, but I knew I couldn’t give it to him.
“You know how Liza. You’ve known all along,” he said in a weak voice. His body disappeared into the darkness like a snuffed out candle. “Blane!” I screamed. “Blane! Blane! Please come back. Don’t leave me alone! Please!”
As the room fell dark, I could feel the sensation of small wet beads smashing tirelessly against my skin. My body felt heavy on the stone floor as my head was propped up on my arm. My eyes fluttered open, observing the dripping water from the ceiling. It cascaded downward, hitting me on the forehead. I sprang to my feet, only to see myself surrounded by four stone walls and the red door with a brass handle. I must have been dreaming. I thought. The drops of water were relentless. I moved to a different corner of the room. The sensation of wet beads smashing against my head, persisted, however. So, I moved further yet to another corner of the room. No sooner did I move once again, did the water follow me just the same. I let out a sigh as I rolled my eyes. I grasped the brass handle of the red door, turning the knob and pushing it open if only to escape the annoyance.

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