19. A Painful Truth
I paced the hallways in frustration. What had happened to Mila to be acting so angry with me?
I knew that last night she felt uncomfortable with the people at the party. All the whispering and hateful glares were making her uncomfortable, even worried. But if I had to say, I’m used to all of that. After all, it was me whom they hated, not her.
With a groan, I scratch my neck and stop right in front of the window. I got closer and leaned my body on it. My eyes dart to the garden where a few servants were working. Seeing the dirt reminds me of the state Mila came back in today. Her dress was ripped, her hair and arms covered in mud, and her eyes. Did she cry? What happened to her to look so sad and in pain?
“Zion,” Noah called. I rolled my eyes as I faced him.
Crossing my arms, I leaned on the window and watched him. Noah told me last night that he and Mila talked and that she had asked him about me. So why does everyone gossip about me?
“Rosa told me Mila is running a fever,” Noah muttered.
“What exactly did Mila ask you last night?” I asked sternly.
“I already told you,” Noah grumbled. “She asked me what you did for the people to act the way they did. She wants to know what happened those years ago.”
I clench, feeling angry.
“You should tell her brother. Mila deserves to know.”
“What if she….”
I sighed dejectedly. I had a slight hunch that Mila was unaware of what I had done. However, I felt she wasn’t afraid from the moment she approached me because she knew nothing about me.
But how couldn’t she know? Her mother seemed to hate me like everyone else. She must have told her what I had done, so how come?
“Go, Rosa will bring her some medicine. Then, go check on her and talk with her,” Noah suggested.
“I can’t,” I mutter, turning my back to him. I balanced my weight on my arms as the afternoon breeze grazed my face.
“Listen, Zion. If you love Mila, you should be honest. There’s nothing better than being honest with her. At least for once, accept your fate and tell her what you did. Who you are. How dangerous you are, and you will see if she fears you,” Noah explains. “I know she won’t hate you because she is a beautiful girl with an amazing heart full of love and compassion.”
I grimaced but still looked at my brother. His hand squeezed reassuringly on my shoulder.
I gave him a wide smile.
“Give yourself a chance. You have suffered enough and remember what happened was because of a mistake. Have confidence you can be happy with someone,” Noah smiled. I looked away, thinking.
“I thought you liked Mila,” I whispered, hearing Noah chuckle.
“I like her as a sister. She is funny, cute, and total beauty. But nothing else, jealous boy,” Noah laughed. “Also, she makes me curious. It’s like she’s more and not just a simple saintess as we think.”
I frowned and faced Noah.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s something I’ve been wondering. Don’t you find something familiar in Mila?” Noah points out. I furrowed, but nothing came into mind. “Ignore me. Now go on.”
I nodded and started heading to the opposite hall.
Standing before the double doors, I stop and hesitate. My hand moved but didn’t dare grasp the door handle.
“Move it, child,” Rosa says from behind. I jump, surprised. “Are you going in, or are you going to stay there?”
I lowered my head without a word. Rosa sighed behind me.
“At least opened the door for me,” Rosa grumbled.
Doing as she asks, I follow Rosa into Mila’s room. My eyes moved to the empty bed.
“God, doesn’t this girl understand?” Rosa grumbled angrily. I walked further into the room until I spotted Mila on the balcony.
My body moved towards her. I wanted to touch her, hug her, but as I got closer, I stopped. What was I going to say?
“Child, you should be inside, not outside. Why are you stubborn?” Rosa snarled.
“I’m all right, Rosa,” Mila said as she turned. Her eyes fall on my own. I smiled shyly as she stood. “Zion.”
“Hey,” I whispered as we stared at each other. Then, hearing Rosa sigh, she excuses herself and heads back in.
“Can we talk?”
Mila looked away, troubled by my question. Balling my hands, I get closer until I’m standing behind her.
“Mila, let’s talk, please,” I begged. She wrapped her arms around her body as if to protect herself. Was she afraid of me?
“Did you…” Mila started. Her voice was barely audible. “Did you kill all those people?”
I remained silent, as the only thing I could do was that. All my fear from that time was crawling back into my heart.
“Did you kill those gypsies, those people?” Mila asked. “The kids, did you cut them into pieces and even peeled their skin?”
My head snaps up. How did she know that?
“Answer me, Zion!” Mila commands. Her eyes were tearing up.
Who told her about that? Was it Noah?
“Tell me who told you that, Mila,” I said, getting closer. But, of course, no one out from the castle should know.
That day, only a few saw that, and I remember the faces of everyone. So who told her?
“Did Noah tell you all that?” I asked, getting angry. “Did he tell you?”
Mila frowned. Wasn’t it him?
I stopped approaching her and groaned. Then, rubbing my face, I look away. I needed to calm down first so I could sort this out.
“A sinner everyone hates. Is a man full of greed that did all that for what reason? Did you feel pleasure killing all those innocent ones?” Mila spats.
“It wasn’t like that!” I retorted. Mila stood her ground, her jaw clenching. “That, you don’t know.”
“So are those lies as well?” Mila asked. “Tell me, Zion. Why did you kill those people, your best friend’s family? Why?”
My eyes widened at how much she knew.
“Mila, wait,” I said, rubbing my forehead. “No one but the people presents that day should know about this.”
Who the hell told her?
Mila blinked as if realizing something.
“Doesn’t everyone here know?” Mila asked, confused.
“Yes, but not of those exact details. The people know I killed those other innocent ones. That I experimented on them, and I even murdered the entire gypsy village.” I gulped as the words left my mouth. “I did that when I lost my mind for a moment.”
I gulped all the nauseous feeling as memories replayed from that time. I killed all those people. My mind was blinded, hazed by that damn thing.
“Why?” Mila whispers as I open my eyes and look at her. “Why? They were innocent people Zion!”
I flinched as she screamed.
“What did they do to you for them to deserve that?” Mila cries. My heart broke as she looked away.
Her face was covered in tears. “What else did you do?”
“I… I did that and more,” I finally say as my voice trembles. “Killing them is what I needed to do. Those fucking gypsies, they needed to die, so I had no choice!”
“Choice…” Mila mumbled.
“I’m not perfect. I’m not a saint, nor someone with their hands cleaned. I’m covered in blood, in innocent blood. But I can’t lose you just for these mistakes of mine,” I confessed in sadness. Then, mustering courage, I take a deep breath. “I killed my parents when I was using black magic. I killed them most horribly.”
Mila took a step back until she bumped against the rail.
“I massacred the entire gypsy village, but because of revenge,” I said through gritted teeth. “That bastard deserved it.”
Mila covered her mouth as she closed her eyes.
“I experimented with my people, the ones I cared for. I grabbed each of them and tortured them until they died. I did that, and my punishment for being a sinner is this,” I said, removing my glove desperately.
Mila’s eyes opened. I raised my stiff arm made of stone.
“The punishment for my sins is to turn into stone and live like that for eternity. This damn curse spreads on my body slowly, eating me away. But this is the prize I have to pay for what I did,” I say in pain. “I deserve this and more. Not even the devil would be happy with a simple death. So now you see? I ain’t no saint, but a sinner destines to pay for every little soul that dies under my hand. And which I never felt remorse for, not until I met you.”
My nails dug into my skin as I looked at Mila’s teary face. She was surprised by what I had just said, but this was my true feeling. I know what I did had no forgiveness, but I didn’t feel remorse, not until I met her on that market. All the time I’ve been locked away in that tower, all I thought about was the darkness that crawls into my mind. That fucking magic that remains encrusted in my body like a fucking shadow.
“I am telling you this because I want you to know the real me. I’m not the best for you, I know it, but I love you, Mila, like you, don’t have an idea. I know I can change if I have you,” I said with a plea. “All these past years, I didn’t know what my life would become of it—just staying in the tower where no one could come because of the poisonous forest. I had nothing I wanted but to die. Nothing in life made me value my own, but then you came, the Saint, the one who slowly made me fall. No, it was the first time we bumped into each other. When you held me and worriedly looked into my face with those gray, almost white eyes and asked me to wait. You didn’t fear me, Mila, so please don’t fear me now.”
I raised my hand to touch her, but Mila cringed away. My chest ached as sadness filled my mind and heart.
I didn’t want her to hate me. I don’t want to lose her.
“Mila,” I whispered as my voice trembled. “Please don’t do this.”
Mila shook her head as she dashed back in, leaving me all alone. Fisting my hands, I dejectedly lower my head. This was not happening.
As I stood there, I felt that same darkness from before creeping, wrapping its bloody hands around my neck and taking over my thoughts. Invading everything I had tried to keep safe.
With a hit on my head, I grumble. Then, deciding to leave, I head in the opposite direction and straight to the garden. I needed to clear my mind before anything happened again.