Triple update this weekend. Do not forget to read the previous two chapters, enjoy...
My heart ached when I pushed away the large collection of mulch and leaves below my feet, only to find an even greater stain of the dried blood painting the floor.
It was huge.
...No one could survive this.
My body began to heave and wretch, feeling sickened by the atrocity that took place here.
“AHH!!” I screamed out in anger and pain. My voice echoing in grief through the barren room.
My body ached to fall down and cry, but I couldn’t allow myself. I need to be strong.
I paced the room regaining composure. Surprisingly, I found an old brush tucked in the corner behind one of the inner pillars.
Clutching it I walked to the innermost corner of the building, sweeping from the inner corners right to the outer door.
It was a substantial amount of dirt and trash. Sweeping it out and round the veranda right to the back. Tossing it down at the far side of the building. Then repeated my actions on the other side of the veranda clearing the way.
I needed a proper look at the scene of the crime.
Now I had one.
Returning to the altar, I scanned the area again. This time I could see the clear stain from the blood splatter that was painted across the floor and marble top.
My guess was she was stabbed from behind and fell on the altar when she was killed.
The large puddle was smeared all over the place. She had clearly fought for survival afterwards. It was evident in the clues.
Smeared bloody handprints that I now noticed on the floor and the bottom rock of the alter made me believe she had pulled herself back up.
Following the trail of blood, I walked slowly not wanting to miss any clues to what had happened next. Maybe it would lead me somewhere...
Large drops of brown and blackened blood dashed the whole span of the temple right up until the steps that descended into the arena.
This was hard to deal with though because time weather and lots of rain has washed away any trace of the blood from outside. Even in this dusky evening light I knew it was hopeless to look.
My hand went to the burn of my markings, it was still raging on. I thought it would ease off in the temple, but it has done no such thing.
Still, my heart ached for what the Patria Luna had gone through. The Paramount needs to be held accountable for her actions.
This is all so, so wrong. Seeing the evidence firsthand shook me. To hear of a murder, or a death is one thing. It is a whole other playing field when you witness the evidence personally.
I scanned across the temple turning towards the waterfall. To the zenith of the rock and wonder what the Goddess would do, or how she felt. It was the first time all afternoon that the burning throb of my markings had eased off.
Was it telling me something?
Walking further down the arena I grabbed my stuff and made my way to the embankment before the lake and with each step the heat grew lesser. I kept going my eyes drawn to the water, the waterfall and ultimately the rock that stood behind it.
I could see how the waters had shifted during the day and the higher part was this side but on the far end.
It had been a long day, and my muscles ached from all the exercise. As the evening had gone on the air was still humid and my body was now covered in sweat and dirt.
The lapping water was so tempting, taking off my shoes I rolled up my trousers. Dipping my toes in the inviting water.
The shallow part was warm to the touch and without a care I sank both feet into the depths of the shallow edge.
I was tempted to strip down and swim a few laps but hesitated and just enjoyed the cool soothing tickle of the water lapping around my legs. My toes scrunched and released feeling the sand below me massaging the soles of our overworked feet.
Closing my eyes, I stretched out my neck, moving it in a circular motion. Trying to relieve the tension that had built up over the day.
The burning from the Goddess marks had done a number on my back and shoulders. It wasn’t sore at the beginning but hours and hours of that niggling heat took a toll...
I was relieved that it had gone completely now.
When I opened my eyes, the sun had set. The moon shines in a clear starlit sky. Slowly rising up, it’s magnificent sheen glistening across the lakes top causing the water to sparkle. Everything about this place was a calming tranquility.
Looking down at my reflection I was once again shocked by it this day.
Realistically I shouldn’t be able to see much in the moonlight, yet my reflection shone brightly lit by the Marking that covered my body.
Was this real?
Then when I looked down to the large mate’s mark that overlapped my Goddess markings and the markings of the moon on my arm. I could see it myself. My marked skin was glowing white in the light of the moon.
I felt different. Not in a bad way but different and drawn to the water and the waterfall.
There was something glistening deep in the back of the waterfall. During the day multiple times I have been drawn back to the water covered rock. And on each occasion one spot in particular, drew my attention in further.
...Right now, this same spot was calling to me.
How would I get there though? I could swim but would that even work?
Turning I stepped back out of the water, and the minute I did my markings began that same burn in my skin again.
Incensed, I flipped my body around feeling annoying that the sensation returned and once I did the burning eased off yet again.
Now this was evidence that my markings are definitely, reacting to this place. They clearly want me to go towards the waterfall.
I thought of all the things I have learned and experienced over the years. The one thing these past weeks has shown me is that anything is possible.
So, I stepped back to the water’s edge and kept my eyes on that one spot that caught my eye. I could feel the power of the markings flowing through me my eyes shut and I began to concentrate on what I needed.
A way forward…
An opening in the waterfall…
I visualized it all, the connection to the water. It was a long shot, but I would try anything, you just never know.
The visuals came easy enough... The pathway forwards the opening up ahead and to my surprise when I open my eyes.
Yep you guessed it! Nothing!
Not one thing had changed and I laughed with a little tear shedding both eyes feeling a fool.
I had tried my best and I will return tomorrow, a little more prepared for the water and the waterfall.
Then maybe I will have a little more success.
Getting set to leave, I take one last look to the apex of the rock, send a silent prayer to the Goddess giving her thanks and jump when I hear a change in the waters flow.
...My eyes shoot round only to see a large opening in the waterfall where the one place I have been drawn too all day.
The water was pulled back as if it was a curtain by some unknown power, my eyes jot over and back trying to take in the spectacle before me struggling in awe and disbelief.
Did I do this? Or was it the prayer I sent to the Goddess herself. Has she blessed me with her goodwill?
Excitement nearly got the better of me, I was about to jump in and swim across when I saw a path of steppingstones had appeared, creating a route the whole way there.
Was this real? I had to ask myself again because I am lost for words and struggling with this new reality of mine.
There was no time for contemplation, I needed to get over there and began a swift journey that would take me there in only moments. My body still shining with the moon lit markings.
As I neared the waterfall, I was surrounded by a mist of spray, the steps taking me right up to a large stairwell that was cut into the rock behind the waterfall.
I didn’t wait or guess I just went straight ahead up the steps and into a cavernous room.
Logically it should have been dark and dank, but this place was anything but.
The room was somehow lit by moonlight and felt warm and welcoming. Though it was clearly a cave it didn’t feel like one.
Multiple stairwells lead off into different areas and some windows and balconies could be seen higher up the cavernous walls.
It was a fortress!
Not knowing where to go and looked down at my hands wondering how little old me was given this position. I knew if Atreus was here, he would know what to do and I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by this responsibility.
My eyes trailed up from my hands along the floor when I noticed another dark mark up ahead. Was it more blood?
I jumped into action quickly lowering myself to my knees to find that my guess was right.
Then I could see the trail of blood going deeper into the cave until it disappears through a doorway that a dim light shone through.
I was through that door in the flash of an eye and my breath caught when I came into view of the woman sprawled across the slab of marble that sat in the back of the room. Her long black hair flowing over the sides still.
She was face down. Her eyes now permanently shut, and a candle hovered over her still lit and floating by some magical means.
My breath hitched when I see the dagger still embedded in her back. Her red silk and white embroidered cloak still strewn across her body, some hanging over the sides and her arm that was on this side also hung over the edge.
I did not know what to do!
This was she...
The Seer, the Patria Luna.
I was struggling to contain my emotions; tears were threatening to flood over the edge as I walked closer.
I could hardly believe that there was no decay she appeared to be in the same shape she had been when this happened over one hundred years ago! and the candle above still shone brightly.
If not for the dagger protruding from her back I would have thought her sleeping!
Her skin was pale but not the color of a dead body. Her face was small and beautiful, thick dark eyebrows arched over her large eyes that were shut to time. Her plump lips still seemed pink with life. She felt familiar to me, like I have known her my whole life and yet here she has lain.
I always imagined a dead body different, especially because of the nightmares I have been plagued with over the years.
Then I notice a drip of water coming down from the towering ceiling above my head.
It lands on the knife blade and drips the whole way down. I watch as it travels all the way to the wound, a sizzling sound is made on contact.
The blood and the laceration begin to react to the strange substance and the wound knits itself up only to be forced open again by the foreign object that is the blade, cutting deep into the wound.
On impulse I grabbed the knife hilt and pulled it free of her body. I was awestruck to watch the wound weave together, I looked at the silver blood-soaked blade with shock. The blood was a bright red and dripping down to the floor below.
How could this be?
I dropped the cursed thing, the clattering sound it made as it hit the ground reverberated off the walls. It was like it held the plague, I was disgusted by the cursed item’s deeds, even if it was inanimate it helped create this situation.
My gaze swept over the Seers body now healed back in one peace. Leaning over to look more closely at her face when a cough startled me, and I screamed like the victim of a banshee when she wails calling for their soul.
My whole body began to tremble, when her eyes fluttered open and she looked back at me with eyes that mirrored my own.
I stumbled backwards in fright. “Y-your n-not d-dead!” I stutteringly exclaimed in shock and awe. I couldn’t believe this and yet I knew it to be true.
“Ipek.” She replied with a grainy barely their voice.
She needed water and I pulled out a bottle from my rucksack and brought it to her mouth.
“Ipek you found me.” She looked at me with joy tear soaked eyes. They looked so like my own that I was shocked by them.
I cradled her face in my hand and helped her to take a sip of water.
“H-how are you a-alive?” I questioned, not her, just questioned, because I was struggling to get my head around this.
“I found you Patria Luna, though I am not Ipek. I don’t know who that is.” I told her with care. The hope that she could give me some answers and help rid the Paramount of this world was growing steadier by the minute.
“You must be Paloma then.” She smiled up at me and then began to cough deeply, blood splattered out of her mouth. She was sick very very sick, and I didn’t know what to do.
I was panicking a bit. “It’s ok Paloma, don’t worry you are here now everything is going to be fine.” She smiled up at me. I gulped down and gave her a strained smile.
Then a gasp left my mouth when I realized she called me by my name. How could she do this when we never met before.
“You know who I am?” I asked her with curiosity.
Coughing again she takes a moment and leans upon me as I help her into a sitting position. Though she can barley stabilize herself she somehow manages.
“Yes Paloma, I know who you are because I knew your mother. Ipek…”