Chapter 6 pt. B
Genevieve had wasted a lot of my time that afternoon. I had sat there in the room, finding things that I could fiddle with while she wrote out the wishes of Mallae. I didn’t really understand how that happened. According to her, we sacrificed the necklace to Lady Mallae, except the necklace was still sitting in its original position in the bowl. It was sitting in the burning embers of the herbs that she used, except there wasn’t enough heat to do any damage to the necklace.
You could hardly even tell that it was “sacrificed”. The only sign we had done something with it was the ash on the gem. Even that was an easy fix. We could always just rinse it off. I’m sure even if we didn’t rinse off the gem, no one would even know something happened to it. Whatever Genevieve did, she seemed to believe it worked. She continued to scribble down words as she got inspiration. Honestly, I’m not sure if this was a revelation from some higher being or not. It seems as if she, herself, was writing the words of “wisdom”. Call me a non-believer all you wish, but it seemed to be as if she was a charlatan. I really wish she wasn’t. I had already backed her with Ronin. If it was proven she was lying, then he could hang it over me for years, even if he doesn’t say anything.
Finally, after a long while of waiting, Genevieve got up from her chair and walked the sheet of paper over to me. I could see her loopy handwriting before anything.
As the sun pulls away from the earth, the stirring shall begin. All things evil will rise with their taunting whispers. There will be no escape. That is unless you leave into her cold clutches. Madness will descend and destroy all in her path.
3 children shall live a life eventful. Eventful and brief. There is hope until their last breath is spoken. But hope is fleeting and will escape at the smallest gust in the wind. All can be undone before you are condemned. If that cannot happen, I see four graves in your future. 1 for each child and the last one barren. Fore six feet under is a hope that isn’t waiting for you.
The stirring will be the savior or the downfall. A single choice on the shoulders of the hero in this tragedy. A hero no one could predict. Or a villain, as they are the same by the perspectives of the people. Choose correctly, and this tragedy will end in a brief stint of light. Choose the wrong answer, and your choice will haunt. The tragedy will repeat its depressing story. Death will follow for generations if the hero doesn’t choose correctly.
There is no happiness here. The great tree will fall, and you must let it. It is the path with the least pain but the most hardship. For you shall meet again. You shall meet again, and this tale will end the way it’s supposed to.
The cycle must end.
Do this, and the cycle will end.
Do this, and you will feel pain.
Do this to save the tree by burning it down.
Do this as the storm rages.
Do this, and the stirring will quiet.
My head seemed to quiet as I read the words. The last part particularly worried me. Do it. I shivered as I remembered that awful night. I remembered holding the sword above my wife. I remembered the voice whispering horrors deeply into my head. I remember how tempted I was. I would always regret that night, as I cannot speak of the truth. They will never allow me to live if they knew what had happened that night.
You need to do it, Lucian.
I reached forward with my sword. Moonlight glinted off the blade in the darkness. I caught a glimpse of my own reflection. I looked absolutely haunted. I touched the blade to her chest, but it wasn’t hard enough to make an incision.
Do it, Lucian.
I pushed the memory far from my head. I cannot remember it. I refuse to. That night was altogether too painful for me to look back on. I need to be alone. I needed to leave. I need to get out of here before I lose control. Genevieve needs to leave.
“Lucian?” Genevieve begins, “Are you okay?”
“Do you think I’m okay?” I ask quietly.
Genevieve paused for a minute, “I don’t know, Lucian. I know I wouldn’t be okay if I read that.”
“Then there’s your answer,” I responded as I shoved the paper down on my nightstand. I didn’t want to look at it.
Genevieve put down the quill and the paper and went after me. She looked concerned for me, but I didn’t care. She must be lying. She must be lying to me. This can’t be happening. I cannot trust her.
“Lucian, things like that aren’t always clear. Most of the phrases have a double meaning. You can’t always assume the worst when hearing these things. A majority of them aren’t bad. Lucian! Please listen to me. You cannot spiral over this.” Genevieve followed me as I began pacing around the room.
“You know what it said? It said it predicted 4 graves in the future. 3 for children.” My voice broke as I spoke the last phrase.
I knew what I had done to Brinley. I knew, and I couldn’t bear it if it had happened to an innocent child. What happened if the voice told me to kill a child. Would I pull out my sword as quickly as I did with Brinley, or would I hold out for a few moments longer, I thought bitterly. I was a monster.
“The words can be deceiving. Things won’t be as bad as it says.” Genevieve continued to chase after me.
“‘The death of my hope’” I quoted, “That’s what the excerpt said. What am I supposed to do without hope? And it said I’d lose hope after the death of three children. Three children I killed, no doubt. Face it, Genevieve, my life should end right now. It would save a lot of people a lot of pain and suffering.”
“That is not what the lady Mallae said.” Genevieve stood her ground, “She told you, you had a choice. Either way, it would both lead to tragedy and suffering. You cannot die right now, Lucian. That is not what the lady wishes.”
“I wish it. It doesn’t matter to me what an unknown deity wants my life to be. I don’t want to face the future if it means that will happen.”
Genevieve scoffed. “You cannot run from the future. It is set in stone. You will not be able to do anything if Lady Mallae doesn’t wish it.”
I wanted to prove her wrong. It didn’t matter what I’d lose in the process. My rage was high, and I felt untouchable. I would prove her wrong if it were the last thing I’d do. I stormed over to the pedestal, where my sword was presented in all its glory. I pulled the sword off the pedestal and turned it to face me.
The sword was mostly for decoration. It hadn’t seen battle in nearly a hundred years. It was the most beautiful gilded sword I had ever seen, and it was so sharp it could easily puncture the skin. It was perfectly balanced as all swords should be. While it was beautiful, it was old. It had been passed through my family for generations. The sword had been sitting on this pedestal for longer than I had been alive. However, the servants took good care of it. They sharpened it, dusted it, even fixed up the pedestal from time to time.
Now it was going to see blood again.
I put the hilt on the wall. I held it up by the flat part of the blade and aligned it perfectly so it would be a good and clean cut. Then I touched the point to my chest. It could happen. If I so much as sneezed, I could be dead. I turned to look at Genevieve, and she wasn’t impressed. She scoffed and turned away.
“I could do it, you know,” I told her.
“That’s what your mother said,” Genevieve muttered.
I almost dropped the sword. I wasn’t even entirely sure I had heard her properly.
“W-what” I sputtered.
Genevieve looked me dead in the eyes and responded in an accusatory tone, “You heard me, Chi Lucian.”
Using my title was a sign of respect, but from Genevieve, it didn’t seem like one. It seemed like she was alienating herself. She had never used it before. I always assumed it was because of her connection with my mother, but her use of my title made it seem like that wasn’t important to her anymore. Somehow that was even more offensive than her not using my title.
“I will do it!” I got angrier.
I leaned into the sword, and I could feel the sharp edge poking my chest. If I leaned in anymore, it could all be over. I wouldn’t have to deal with my guilt anymore. Or the voice whispering in my head.
“I can do it.”
“Then show me.” Genevieve dared me.
Her eyes glittered with the possibility. She wanted me to prove to her I really could do it.
“Be a man and show me.” Her voice was egging me on.
Her voice was egging me on. I then realized what it reminded me of.
No. I can’t kill her. I can’t. That’s not me.
She is manipulating you.
Still, I can’t. She’s my wife. I love her.
She doesn’t care about you.
She’ll kill you when you are least expecting it.
She won’t need you anymore.
I reached up the wall and pulled my sword off its post. Somehow I thought I could intimidate it into being quiet. I took the sword and pointed it at my own chest.
I will do it.
The sword clattered to the floor, and I winced. I quickly looked back and made sure Brinley hadn’t woken up. She hadn’t, so I picked it up again. I looked back at Brinley.
“Do it.” She taunted me.
I grabbed the hilt of the sword and twisted around to where she was standing so fast it was a blur. I had the edge of the sword at her throat instead of my chest.
“I think I will, but before that, I think I’ll christen the sword with your blood,” I growled.
Genevieve smiled even though she had a sword at her throat, “See, I knew you couldn’t do it.”
Her smug smile was nearly enough to push me over the edge. How dare she. “You don’t know anything about me.” I pulled the sword away from her throat.
I was looking at the design on the blade when Genevieve spoke again, “That’s where you are wrong, Lucian. I know a lot about you.”
“Like what?” I scoffed as I tested the blade on my thumb.
The blade was sharp. It left a trail of blood running down my finger. Satisfied with the results, I replaced the sword on the pedestal.
“I know your mother used to read you bedtime stories.” Genevieve’s voice quieted.
I froze. I guess it bugged me a little that Genevieve knew such an intimate detail about my life. I didn’t know much about her.
“I know that you used to have such a craving for life. I knew you were a bright young kid. I knew you were the center of your mother’s world. That’s how I knew you wouldn’t really do it. You couldn’t. No matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t get away from your mother.”
I blinked tears out of my eyes as I looked down, “She’s dead. She had been gone for over a decade. Get over it.”
My voice sounded inhuman. Those weren’t my real thoughts on the subject matter, but I didn’t want to continue talking about my late mother.
“She’s not gone, Lucian. You are her son. She lives on with you.” Genevieve urged me to believe her, but I didn’t.
My mother and I were far too different, especially nowadays. She was kind and innocent and gentle, and I just had a sword pressed up against a woman’s throat. I couldn’t see my mother anymore. The only part of her I could see was my eyes, but even they were losing their similarities. Her eyes were always so bright and full of life as I remembered her. Mine wasn’t. They were dark and hopeless. My eyes were haunted by whispers and guilt.
I wasn’t her son anymore.
So I turned around and faced her with anger raging in my eyes. “Stop talking about her!” I roared so loudly I took Genevieve by surprise.
She frowned a little, and I could tell she was trying her best to see Elaine. She couldn’t find anything anymore. Elaine’s influence has worn off after 11 years without her by my side. That is just something we have to accept. That woman was gone.
“I can still see her.” She lied. “She is buried deep, but I see her light in you. You just have to embrace it. It will all be okay, Lucian.”
Her voice was soft and soothing. There was a slight tremor in it that confirmed her words were lies. She was scared of me. It may have been a small part of her, but she is scared of what this thing might make me do. If she really saw my mother in me, then she would know not to be afraid. I was done speaking with her.
“Leave,” I spoke softly.
This took Genevieve by surprise. Her eyes got wide as she stared at me. I don’t know what she expected. She came into my room. Played games with my head. She insulted me and dared to bring up my mother. How dare she.
There was some small part of me telling me I was making a mistake. It was the small part of me that still believed she was here to help me through this. I tried to smother that part of me. If it was right in its beliefs, then the page that Genevieve wrote was true as well. I didn’t want to think of that possibility. It was something that I wasn’t mentally ready to face. Of course, I knew I would eventually have to come to terms with it.
“I’m sorry, what?” Genevieve asked as if she genuinely didn’t hear me.
“Leave,” I responded harshly.
I regretted my words as soon as they left my mouth. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. Usually, I wouldn’t raise my voice with anyone this often, but’s happened several times in the past hour.
“But Lucian, I don’t have anywhere to go. I can’t afford a ride until the next fortnight.” Genevieve’s eyes began pleading in a sense.
I took a deep breath in, determined not to snap at her, “You don’t have to leave the castle. Find the administer and tell them that I’ve requested a room for you. You don’t have to leave, but I don’t want you here, in this room with me.”
“Oh, thank you.” Genevieve packed all her things into the bag and scurried out of my room and out through the sitting room.
I sighed miserably. Genevieve was scared of me now. I didn’t really want anyone to fear me. That isn’t how I want to be perceived.
I felt awful because I really felt better. Genevieve’s herbs really did something right. They cleared my head, and I can think without feeling overwhelmed. Throughout the hour, I didn’t hear a single noise from the thing. Her herbs worked, which is a good thing and a horrible thing at the same time. It means that Genevieve isn’t lying to me about her skills as a healer. I guess, in my head, it gives the prediction a better chance of coming to pass. That wasn’t anything I was happy about.
I moved about my room and began putting things back in their original positions. I took the paper, ink, and quill back into the closet, where I usually stored them. The paper Genevieve had written on was still sitting on my nightstand. It looked so normal. The ink was just black. The paper was nothing extraordinary. Genevieve didn’t have overly beautiful handwriting. It just looked like a scrap of paper. Something that didn’t need to pay much mind too. Only I knew how important it was. Genevieve and I were the only ones who knew how this paper would impact the lives of all those around me. That is, of course, if Genevieve wasn’t lying. At this point, I wish I could believe Ronin.
I really want to. If Genevieve was a quack, I could move on with my life. Maybe the voice was just my stress internalizing itself. Nothing to worry about, just something that would go away as the craziness in my life calmed down. Maybe the paper was just Genevieve trying to see things that weren’t really there. If only I could believe those thoughts.
I took the paper and gently placed it in the drawer. I didn’t want anyone to see it. They wouldn’t believe it was something I had been working on because that wasn’t in my handwriting. I looked at the words for a few more seconds.
A hope that isn’t waiting for me? It doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into the words. If Genevieve really is who she says she is, then she was right about the future. And how it is impossible to change your destiny. How once it is told, your future is set in stone. If I try to understand what the words mean, I’ll most likely go mad with the possibilities in my future. From the tone of the excerpt, I can tell that it won’t be a bright one for the people around me and, of course, myself.
I shut the drawer and walked over to the table where we had been sitting. There were brief remnants of ash from the burnt herbs. I brushed it off the table so no one would suspect anything. The only other thing she left was the giant amulet. It was a little ashy, so I cleaned it with my thumb. I still don’t understand what Genevieve meant when she “sacrificed” the item. She put the amulet in burning herbs, but the necklace didn’t burn. The fire wasn’t hot enough. The necklace was fine afterward. In fact, it seemed shinier. The gold on the chain looked purer. Perhaps that was what it was.
I took the amulet back to Brinley’s vanity and placed it in a drawer. I tucked it safely away. No one would even know something happened to it.
The door in the sitting room swung open. It diverted my attention from the remedial task I was performing, and I looked at the door leading from the sitting room into the bedroom with a mix of fear or panic or maybe even anxiety.
“Lucian, you missed lunch. What have you been doing all alone in this dark room.” Brinley pouted as she leaned against the doorway.
I hadn’t been caught. I turned away from the vanity with a false smile on my face. I walked over to my bride and kissed her forehead.
“Oh, same old, same old. I’ve been reading, and I lost track of time.” I lied behind my smile.
Lying. For some, it is a hard task, but recently I’ve found it as natural as breathing. I walked past Brinley and into the sitting room, determined to avoid her.
“What? You don’t even have enough time to give your wife a proper kiss?” Brinley scoffed, obviously very offended by my actions.
I turned around. I didn’t want to have the time because I was still feeling guilty about what happened the night of our wedding, but I did, unfortunately, have the time.
I walked over to Brinley and pulled her in for a lingering kiss. I felt a familiar pull in my stomach as I did, but more, so I felt a deep feeling of guilt expand in my chest. It was a terrible tug-of-war between my emotions. I wanted to be near her. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to be with her. I also remember what happened the last time I was with her. I let my emotions and the thing take over. It drove me into a frenzy so horrible I almost had to lose her. Of course, I want to be with her, but I also want to keep her safe. That means we must stay at a respectful distance from each other.
I pulled away from her, and she beamed up at me. Her smile was so bright it almost made me forget all we are facing. It made me want to forget. If all was forgotten, then we could be dangerously close to each other, and I wouldn’t be responsible for the consequences of our actions because I simply wouldn’t have known.
“What was so interesting it demanded all your attention?” I knew she was teasing me, but I answered anyway.
“One of my father’s old journals,” I responded half honestly.
I had been reading them, and they were interesting. If Genevieve hadn’t had interrupted my day, that’s probably what I would have been doing.
“Well, I have to get ready for a meeting of the royal court. My parents want me to witness compromise and discussion. Basically, they want to bore me out of my mind. You can tag along if you so wish.” Brinley rolled her eyes but laughed anyway.
I always was so confused with Brinley. As the days get colder and darker, her personality gets warmer and more open. It was like they were canceling each other out. Or perhaps it was the world apologizing for getting cold and bland. I was the exact opposite. I generally enjoyed the winter, but I got more and more closed off as the days shortened. I brightened as the days elongated.
“I’m afraid I’ll have to pass, love. I already have a former engagement with the library.” I apologized.
“Well, I suppose that’s allowed.” Brinley sighed.
I grabbed her hand and softly kissed her gloved fingers, “until after your parents are done torturing you.”
Brinley shook her head laughing but pulled herself together enough to respond, “Until then.”
I pulled away from her and walked out of the sitting room. Today was a cold day, and you could tell by the state the castle was in. There were hardly any people in the hallways. If you did pass someone, it was your run of the mill shivering servant rushing something somewhere so they could get back to the Great Room with the giant hearth.
I walked quickly through the freezing corridors because the weather was getting to me as well. I was nearly racing down the hallway because the warm fireplace in the library sounded very inviting at this moment.
When I arrived, I threw open the doors to the library and felt a gust of warm air hit me. It calmed me as I walked into the comforting room. As always, no one was in here. This wasn’t the big library in the center of the fortress. It was only a small portion of the books we have. A majority of them are journals from my ancestors. I don’t know what it was about the journals, but it seemed so interesting to me that past Enes and Sors wrote about their day to day lives. It was interesting to see the challenges and issues they faced in their reigns. It was also interesting to compare and contrast their issues to problems in this modern-day.
I walked through rows and rows of bookshelves until I came across a nearly empty one. This was the most modern bookshelf. The only journals up here were written by my father. We used to have my mother’s journals up here, but my father ordered that we remove them. It was part of his whole erasing my mother from our history ordeal. The only shred of evidence on display that proves she even existed in her painting in the Great Hall. That was the only thing of her’s my father wasn’t allowed to put into storage. When I am Ene, I’m going to find and put her stuff back up. It wasn’t fair that she was hidden from our history. My mother was a good Sor. She deserved to be as remembered as everyone else.
As I was thinking this, I pulled the next journal out of the bookshelf. This next one was a blue leather cover, and it was thicker than the last one. Maybe my father had a lot to say about this timeframe. I opened the front page, and a letter fell out. How strange. I put the book back down on the shelf and picked up the letter.
The envelope wasn’t overly thick or anything. It appeared to be normal. Until I turned it over. Written in big red fancy lettering was my name.
It was addressed to me. I walked away from the bookshelf while examining the letter more closely. Once again, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The envelope was plain white. The only words on it were my name. Other than my name, the only thing on the envelope was a dark blood red royal seal, the same design as the tattoo on my neck.
I tore off the seal and opened the letter. It was addressed to me, wasn’t it?
I hope that this letter finds you one day. Of course, I will never tell you about it. If fate wills it so, you will eventually read this. As I am writing this letter, you are but 10 years old. You still believe the lies you’ve been told, but I know you. In a few years, you will demand answers, as you should. You will begin to notice that things don’t line up as perfectly as others.
When this happens, you will begin searching through texts for answers to the questions you have. Questions that I’m afraid I’ll never have the strength to answer to your face. Still, I hope this letter finds you. You deserve to know the truth about what happened to your mother.
If you have just come across this and you don’t already have questions about her death, we lied to you, son. Elaine did not have a bad heart. For you to understand what happened and why it had to happen, you must read the journal. It will explain the questions you have or now have.
I want you to know I’m deeply sorry, son. Already I can see myself pushing you away. I’m aware of it, but I cannot help myself. I see her in you all the time. I see Elaine’s kindness shine in you. It hurts me more than I’d like to admit, son.
I am a weak man. I want you to know this. I push you out because I don’t want to see her anymore now that she is gone. Still, it haunts me at night, the possibility that I am turning you against me. I love you, son. I really do. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. I do love you. It’s hard for me.
When you have a wife whom you love more than yourself, you will begin to understand the pain of losing her. It will seem difficult to imagine, but I have to go through that every single day. It is hard for me. You are the last living reminder of Elaine, and it hurts me, son.
I hope you do not hold this against me as resentment. I love you, and that is why I’m allowing you to know the truth about your mother and her untimely death. I’m sure in time you will begin to see it as I do.
I read the entire letter. I read the entire letter, and the only thing that really rang in my head was that he signed it “Edmond”. He signed it with his own name as if we were mere acquaintances. He wrote this letter to me when I was 10 years old, and he signed it with his own name. He didn’t say “your father” or “Dad” or anything of the sort. He signed it “Edmond”. All I could think was that if he really loved me as much as he said he did, he would have signed it with something a little more personal than “Edmond”.
I was angry with my father. I wanted to be done with him, but he also promised that there were answers to my mother’s death in his journal. My morbid curiosity on how my mother died outshone my hatred of my father, so I put the opened letter down on the table. I walked back to the nearly empty bookshelf, and I pulled the blue journal off it. The first page was filled with my father’s cursive, and I mentally braced myself.