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As it Were

So I promised myself not to forget. I beat it into my head the image of a darkened figure ripping my heart and the child from my chest. As it were, this morbid mural was all that kept me from spiraling back into the madness that is love, with a beast, no less.

“Rest should find you soon, I hope,” Orynicus murmured, turning over on the bed.

I shivered as I felt his arm wrap around my center. He rested a hand atop the bump that ailed me so. I could not bring myself to push him away.

“Why must you worry about me?” I asked sincerely.

His hand slipped away, shifting his weight to look over my side. The air became suffocatingly heavy.

Then, with a massive sigh, he collapsed onto his back once again. “I care for you, that is why.”

I gave into silence. It was hard to argue against such forwardness. I did not doubt him this time, though I could not accept his feelings any longer. A list of cons seemed to grow each day I remained with him. It would never work, yet, I was so weak. I had to be strong, forget my feelings.

Replacing his absent touch, I held myself, arms barely reaching either side of my waist. I tried not to squirm as I felt movement from inside me. It terrified me to think a living creature was within.

What would it look like?

Might it bite me, hex me, kill me?

How was I meant to deal with it?

Oh gods, oh no no. Nothing was worse than such thoughts. It wouldn’t be much longer, one moon or so. I was told of the pain. There was no such thing that compared.

Shaking. I was shaking and shivering. Panic got the best of me, and it’s firm talons would not release their grip on me, not without a fight.

As if he knew, Orynicus was with me in mere seconds, arms gently wrapped around my shaking body.

“I am here,” he consoled me, careful with his words.

I shook a little less with each passing moment. In my delirium I could not help but ask the wrong question, rather unprompted—“Why did you not tell me about Helene?”

Orynicus stiffened at the mention of her name, though it was quickly covered by him readjusting his posture. “There was nothing to tell,” he answered, blunt.

I shoved his unmoving body until he faced me. “Then I will hear of this nothing or I will sever my tongue,” I threatened, opening my mouth to show my teeth grazing the tongue slightly before closing it.

With wide eyes, he bulleted towards me and pinned my hands over my head, and with his other arm, held my chin as I clenched it.

I bit my tongue harder from the shock of his sudden advance. Metallic liquid filled my mouth. Blood. I would surely become ill. It tasted worse than it appeared.

The hand that clutched my chin Orynicus shifted, pushing a finger to my lips. He managed to pry my mouth open and stuck the finger between my teeth, holding my bleeding tongue down. His eyes were wild with fear. It made my rage build.

He would rather lie and cheat than play a fair game. All I asked him to do was be truthful. I gave him a chance to be honest with me. There would be no more chances.

“Cadia it is complicated,” he said.

“It always is,” I managed, voice gargled.

Orynicus sighed deeply. “I must get my affairs in order before I am able to speak freely.”

I laughed through the finger-shaped blockade. “Affairs, fitting choice of words.”

He pressed his lips into a thin line.

“Is your taste for death spent, yet?” Asked Orynicus, looking rather annoyed at my insult to his character.

“Only if you have exhausted all your lies,” I shot back, launching some red-stained saliva with my angry words.

He let go of my arms, still keeping my mouth agape with a steady finger. His eyes were glued to the watery red that escaped my tongue.

“I do not understand why you would cause yourself such pain,” he whispered, retracting his hand and moving away from me.

Without faltering, I met his gaze with fire in my eyes. “It is the only way you may see how I suffer, as my words are not enough in your case,” I replied.

A flash of hurt crossed his face. “You speak as if I deny your suffering.”

“You do,” I argued vehemently, “I am carrying a child of adultery and have no man promised to me. Your lies have forsaken me, and still, you lie. I am your prisoner, not your lover, but you treat me as such and trap me in a web of deception.”

Orynicus was stunned, pinned to the spot. I saw so many emotions flooding him at once that I could not pinpoint them all. He shook his head continuously. It was clear he did not know what to say. I expected as much.

Suddenly, he rose from the bed, standing tall. He looked over his shoulder, expression flat. “I am chained just as well as you,” he said, sauntering right out an adjoining door.

I blinked until my eyes watered. Feelings of guilt poured into me. A sinking suspicion set in. It was much deeper than lies, much more complex than an arranged union, that was my suspicion.

Upon this foreboding my body erupted in shakes. I gasped as blackness enveloped my vision. Terror. It was all my mind could grasp onto in my last moments of lucidity.

I watched quietly as the man who I knew to be Orynicus’ father spoke with him. They were arguing, but I couldn’t quite tell what it was about. Stretched like a pretzel, I viewed from within a wardrobe what played out next.

The voices neared and I quieted my breathing, in fear of being found listening in, though it was not my intention. “Break this oath, and I will make sure Helene suffers for it,” spat his father, his words slurred to a point that I could smell bourbon on his tongue.

“I refuse to be attached to the court for your debts, father. Should I leave my rites will pass down to Helene, if she falls, the crown will too die. Is that what you wish to happen?”

Hollow laughter bounced throughout the room. It was oddly familiar. “You forget, son,” snarled the man, a scuffle heard about the space, “the Oracle’s chains are buried here…” a pause was filled with the coughing of a sickly drunkard, followed by the knocking of a fist against bone, “we can never truly leave.”

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