"My name is Alexander Ackerman and I am your brother"
I bursted out into a very hilarious laughter right away - the kind that hurts the stomach and makes your eyes teary whilst staring at this beautiful stranger infront of me, saying he was my brother.
Was this some kind of lame joke or a prank?
This was unbelievable, I swear. Maybe he was delusional because if he wasn't, he would have figuered out by now that i was an only child without any siblings.
The more I laughed, the more his amusement grew till I decided it was time to stop. Calming myself and wiping off the tears that were coated on face, I wore back a serious expression.
"I'm sorry.... but that was the dumbest joke of the century. I believe you've got a mistaken identity. I don't have any siblings" I stated emphatically.
"Yes you do Harissa. You had two siblings....two" he spoke with a grim expression as his facial muscles stiffened.
It was at that moment, I decided to take back my seat as the atmosphere tensed up all over again. It was time for some serious talks.
"What do you mean I had two siblings?" I questioned as curiosity engulfed me, eargerness grew on me. I couldn't wait to discover what this stranger knew about me.
He smirked at me with a quirky look that spelt out he may have tons of things to say. So I urged him on.
"Ten years ago, you just clocked twelve or should I say about to when it all happened"
Okay, this grew my curiosity the more. Why did he pause? He knew me from ten years ago... ?
"When what happened?" I narrowed my eyes at him, hoping for his sincerity.
"When our family was murdered"
Family... what family was he talking about?
"I'm sorry. I still do not follow" I frowned my face whilst shaking my head. "If I may ask, Where are you from Alex?"
I just had to ask for easy comprehending.
"Eathros" He said and I flinched, scrunching up my face, bewildered, all the while studying his face.
"Eathros" I murmured in repetition and he nodded, staring right back at me.
That name sounded familiar. I had to cast my mind back, gathering the pieces, fixing the puzzle and voila I remembered. It all began to make sense now and the picture became clearer.
The Eathros massacre was real.
This meant that such a village actually existed. I huffed. I knew I wasn't running mental when I began researching on it, but it always led me to dead ends, hence I gave up on it.
So, If this stranger right here is from an extinct village, it therefore means, I could get all of my answers and moreso to my nightmares.
Surely, I have always felt there were some deep connections between myself and those nightmares.
"Does the name sound familiar?" He asked me bringing me out of my thoughts and keenly observing my disposition but I ignored the question.
"Tell me more about your village." I demanded curiously and he chuckled lightly.
I guess I appeeared pathetic infront of him but He surely had alot of work to do in trying to convince me.
"Actually, your majesty" he began in a soft tone. "Eathros was a very small village. Its quite a distant from here and it was headed by head chief Antoine Ackerman and his wife, Julia. She was the most beautiful and strongest woman ever in the village with long black hair......." he paused, becoming emotional as his face grew sad.
I knew it was only a matter of time before tears came streaming down his eyes.
"Here" I handed him a box of tissue to dry his eyes.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up past memories" I apologised but didn't wish for him to stop and he smiled.
"Its okay. If I have to convince you, then I have to remember them"
Convince me? What? He was serious when he said he was my brother. Somewhere in my head, I still had this doubt stuck away that this was some form of shenanigan.
But at that moment, hearing his words, anxiety began to grip me all over. What if it was really my reality?
That means I was never from Doxa. No! It cant be. I had to shun off such thoughts because there was no way this was happening to me.
The urge to stop him and end this nonsense right away was so intense but the other part of me was desiring knowledge. She wanted to know even though she doesn't believe them.
"Please continue" I urged him and he cleared his throat before speaking.
"The village was very peaceful and everyone lived as a family. Julia was a great warrior and fighter that she even thought younger children how to become one.... Apparently, it was the week of your twelfth birthday and as usual, there were festivities to mark the event.... and on the very day you clocked twelve, before the break of dawn, our entire village was under siege by unknown men... before we could do anything, they had started slaughtering men, women, children. He exhaled deeply, shutting his eyes briefly to suck in the pains he was feeling.
I found myself doing same since my head was starting to spin in circles. Then he opened them, apologized and continue.
"Some were burnt alive others killed in cold blood, houses were burnt....." I noticed he was shuddering and trying to control it.
Oblivious of what was happening to him within, I saw myself feeling pains too, my chest muscles tightened, reducing my intake of oxygen. My whole body trembled like a strong wind was blowing against me.
What was happening to me? I couldn't fathom. It felt memory was unlocked and flashes of the scene appeared before my eyes. I was there, right in the midst of the burning village.
At that point, there was no need for further explanations or clarifications.....because I saw him.
Yes, I saw him.......Alexander was right there on his knees beside a man whom I assumed should be my father.
All this while of having these nightmares, I hadn't taken notice of the young boy there, only this time, my eyes darted to his side and just after him was a little girl too.
What was happening to me. Felt like I was in a trance, only that it was my memory, my dream, my nightmare. They were real life occurrences.
Tears began to flow incessantly out of my eyes and without knowing I muttered the name "Larissa" when I heard the little girl crying and screaming as she was being defiled to death.
No! No! I screamed out loudly, shutting my eyes to every ugly image whilst hitting my hands continously on the table to suppress the pain and anger.
Nevertheless, I was incapable of doing anything.... making the pains worse.
"Hey... hey Harrisa" I heard Alexander's voice but I shut it out of my head, whimpering uncontrollably.
The doors opened and some of the guards rushed in to my side.
"Your majesty.. Is everything alright?" They asked, their voices laced with concern. At first I ignored their pestering but they were adamant and remained by my side.
I had to waive them off whispering "I was okay" otherwise they were bent on informing Theon instantly, whom will eventually put an end to this meeting.
Though before they left, they ensured the prisoner wasn't harassing me in any way.
"Harrissa. Its okay" I heard the whisper of his voice once the guards left and then I raised up my head wiping my face with my hands.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to trigger any - " He apologised.
"I- I remember" I said stammering and his eyes shone brightly and a smile curled up on his lips.
"You do?" he gasped, smiling and almost tearing up as I nodded. "You don't know how long I've wished for this..... I knew all wasn't right?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like you couldn't remember anything from your past. How did that even happen?"
"Well, I dont know" I shrugged, staring at him more clearly.
Now I could see some similarities between us - the colour of our eyes and the shape of our nose were same amongst other features.
"The duke and duchess didn't tell you?" He raised a questioning brow.
"No they didn't " I shook my head softly and thought about it. "Why didnt they tell me all these years how they found me?" I murmured.
"Maybe because you didn't ask. You should ask them their reasons" He told me and I agreed to do that.
But was I mad at them for keeping my past a secret from me? No, I wasnt, probably they were also ignorant of it all. I made excuses for them in my head when in the real sense, I was scared of finding out their reasons.
Either ways, I still needed to know the whole story surrounding my existence in Doxa.
However, one thing was sure, I had completely believed this stranger infront of me.
He was really my brother. I had no further doubts, hence I shared my nightmares with him and he confirmed them as the calamity that befell our village.
He made me understand that those were painful memories, probably the reason why I couldn't remember them.
In order to satisfy my inquisitiveness, I had to ask him further questions like how he escaped and how he got to know where I was.
After providing the answers I needed, then came the big question.
"Why did you come back after all these years and what do you want now?"
"Harrissa, believe me, I did come earlier but I was too young to take you with me because I couldn't take care of you. I was still very much in shock and when I saw that you were in good hands, I left to heal and return" He explained quite saddened.
"When you say return, do you mean for me....like to take me with you?"
"Then what?" He shut his eyes briefly and took a deep breath before opening them to look at me with a very cold expression.
"I'm back for revenge" My eyes grew wider in surprise as I flinched backwards on my chair.
"What?......revenge on?" He forced a smile but I saw through him.
"On the Vernadoz family" he voiced emphatically.
"What! That's insane" I raised my voice. "Do you realize that's the royal family......my family"
"Come on Harissa, you are an Ackerman"
"Was an Ackerman, not anymore. Right now I'm a Vernadoz" I snapped and he let out an annoying chuckle.
"By marriage not by blood Harrissa.... besides how did you even do it?" He cocked his head with a smirk.
Okay.....it seemed I was beginning to get more and more comfortable with this stranger because all of a sudden, It felt like I had known him all my life with the way we were communicating.
"Do what exactly?" I blurted out with a frown on my face.
"How did you end up marrying the king and becoming queen?"
"Thought you were following up on my life. How did you miss out on that. Stalker?" I scoffed at him and he smiled licking his lips.
"Anyways I meant it. You're a Vernadoz by marriage and an Ackerman by blood and you know the saying, blood is thicker than water"
"What are you even insinuating? Either way I can't let you do that...." I protested but a question popped up in my head which I voiced out immediately.
"By the way, why are you against the Vernadoz family?"
He paused with a frown and total silenece grew within us for a few minutes. He wasn't saying anything neither was I but my heart beat was racing like a car on a speed.
Suddenly the words spewed bluntly out of his mouth and without emeotions, "Because they slaughtered our family"
Instantly, my head felt heavy and achy for my neck to contain. I couldn't complete my statement, the words feeling heavy in my mouth.
My emotions were gradually becoming messed up, spewing all over my head and beyond my control.
This was definitely a daydream.
I clenched my fist harder onto the table, venting my budding anger on the piece of furniture whilst vibrating. "Repeat yourself. Would you" I mouthed through gritted teeth.
"The former king, Constatine Vernadoz was the one who ordered the massacre"
"And exactly how sure are you of these allegations?"
"They are not allegations. They are facts. What?" He scoffed with a raised brow when he noticed my leery gaze. "You think all these years, all I did was eat, drink and be merry. Hell no Harrissa!" he yelled with a raised voice.
"Every fucking day and night, all I did was Investigate and constant investigating into the death of our family. There was no way I was going to sit back without avenging the deaths of hundreds of innocent people...... I fought and kept fighting to be strong for them" He exhaled, vibrating as his face turned red with anger.
"And your investigations led you to the Vernadoz family?"
"Exactly. That's the point. Isnt it? The reason I'm here?" He gave a half side annoying smirk.
"Wait a minute" I raised a hand and halted him. "Are you really behind all the fire outbreaks?"
"What do you think?" He scoffed again. "That fires just happen.....ofcourse not. I did it because I wanted the attention. It was the only way to get to the palace.....to get to you" he glared hard at me as tears were beginning to well up in my eyes.
This was unbelievable but he was so damn serious. How could he be this wicked and heartless?
"Why didn't you just come to me without causing such ruckus? Do you know it claimed lives and caused us a huge loss economically?
"Would you have seen me? Besides that was the plan. I wanted to do something hurtful and painful to the people....to see their reaction" he grinned wickedly.
"That's crazy " I scowled at him with burning anger within but his expression remained impassive.
I exhaled deeply and connected my eyes with his again "Can you tell me what exactly you found out....I need evidences"
"Why?" He huffed. "You don't believe me...? Well give me two days and I will give you all the evidences you need. Maybe then you would believe me..... but just so you know, I've lived the past ten years of my life for this very moment and no one, not even you can stop me" He growled out quietly.
Was that a threat? Before he realized, it was a complete outburst of rage steaming from me as I screamed out my lungs at him, letting all the anger consume me.
"Stop! Stop it Alexander! You're crazy. You're wicked and heartless and blinded. How could you kill innocent people just so you could get attention? How. Just tell me?" I slammed my fist hard on the table, pressing onto it tight for support.
Still vibrating in anger, I moved infront of him, lowering myself and staring deep into his eyes.
"Those people were innocent. They didn't deserve to die. Men with wives and children, mothers even children..... they didnt deserve it" I shook my head, pointing my fingers right at his face, sadly as I broke down.
"You're right about that. They were innocent" He spoke. "But am I sorry about it? No I'm not...... Oh how I wished I did more?" He let out an annoying chuckle.
"My people were fucking innocent too" He raised his voice loudly "Harrissa I want the people of Doxa to feel what I felt when my people were slaughtered by their king. The pains, agony and years of nightmares.....yes I want to watch them cry, weep and even die" he pursed his lips in a thin line breathing heavily.
I was so shocked at him. Standing there all I could do was gasp in disbelief as tears streamed down my face. How can someone really derive joy in people's pains? It was absurd and abnormal.
"You know you can die right?" I said, wiping my face and narrowing my eyes at him with some level of authority, reminding him of the possible ordeals, he could face.
"I don't care about death right now"
"But you can" I stressed emphatically. "The only reason I'm talking with you is because they need to know if your guilty or not. And once you're found guilty, I bet you..... you'd be executed straight away"
"But I won't" he grinned and I squinted my eyes at him piqued and puzzled at his sudden remark and confidence.
"You know the reason why that won't happen. The same reason, I demanded to see you. That's why I showed up once you were crowned queen because you're very much a big part of my plan"
"What are you referring to"
"The fact that you won't let me be executed"
"Why do you think so?" He licked his lips studying my face.
"Because you hate violence, that's one and also you need answers and only I can give the answers you deserve" he half shrugged. "So the ball is in your court"
I let out a deep breath of irritation as my head spun several times in utter confusion.
What was happening right now was worse than my nightmares.... My fears were rapidly becoming my reality.
In as much as I hated everything Alexander represented right now, he was correct. He was the only family member I have from my past life and there was no way I would let him get killed....No.
He surely had played his cards quite well. He was smart.
But then how about his crazy agenda of revenge? Right now, a part of me wants to believe him but what reason could the former king have to wipe out an entire village in a flash.
That was the most scary part I dreaded with my life, hoping Alexander was wrong.
But on the contrary, every article and information on Eathros village was no where to be found in the whole kingdom of Doxa apart from the royal library situated here in the palace.
That could mean only one thing. Someone was trying very hard to bury every information portraying that such village never existed.
With the knowledge and understanding of all of these, doubt gradually started giving way for complete belief in my head.
By the time I was done talking with Alexander, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I had displayed every type of emotion known to man in the last seven hours I spent with him.
From anger to disgust, to fear, to surprise, happiness and sadness.
Now I was faced with another big question. What do I report back to those who were also waiting for answers from this meeting?
Apparently, Alexander had everything planned out even to this very point where I was. So the ball was actually in my court, either to go with his plan or against it?