Chapter 3 pt. A
As time moved on from the attack on the castle, people were tense. Many people left the fortress in search of a safer home. My father became present less and less. Ene and Sor Idris became even more present. They watched over their daughter’s every move. After the events that took place in the Under, I decided that it was time to find out if I really did have a Dev hidden in my head. The first and only person I told this theory to was Ronin. I didn’t want anyone else to find out. That could be very toxic for my budding political career. Ronin insisted that it was sleep-related and made me sleep. When that didn’t work, we made plans to ride to Cadia under the facade of getting to know the Shire over there. Brinley wanted to come but she couldn’t. It was just Ronin and me on this trip.
Ronin and I spent nearly two days in the carriage. We were at the ends of our patience with one another when we finally arrived at their castle. Cadia was interesting in comparison to Fyn. Their castle was a lot more decorative than ours. They didn’t have a wall or a moat surrounding it. It seemed to be a lot more open to the public. You could see village men in the castle gardens admiring the flowers.
While it appeared to be a more friendly place on the surface, that’s all it was, a front. You can tell by the Savs walking along the streets in pairs. They appear at ease on the surface, but they won’t hesitate to pull their weapons out. Brinley warned me about that. They attack first and ask questions later. That puts me in danger here because I don’t know the customs. That’s why I have been assigned my own two Savs to guard my every move. I’ve been getting wary glances from everyone. I know they don’t recognize me, but they know I’m important from my followers.
We walked through the village and waited for something to make sense. Here’s another thing I noticed about Cadia. Magic is everywhere. I’ve seen it all. Signs for Fortune Tellers. Signs for cleansings. Signs for the occult. It’s so strange to me because I haven’t seen magic being openly practiced for over a decade.
“Chi Lucian, do you know where we are going?” Cons Ronin was giving some people wary glances.
“Um, I guess we just find the closest, nicest looking shop and go from there.”
“Right.” The cons were looking at the Savs guarding a door.
That’s when they came up to us.
“Halt.” They commanded.
I stopped and caused the three people walking behind me to stop as well.
“State your name and business here,” They commanded.
Cons Ronin swallowed his anxiety and walked up toward me, and feigned an authoritative voice.
“Don’t you know who this is?” He scolded.
There was a slight tremor in his voice, but it was barely noticeable.
The Sav got more defensive, “No, that is why we are asking.”
Ronin turned to the Savs guarding us, laughing, “He doesn’t know who this is.”
“Listen to me, you little peasant, I could have you killed right here, and no one would bat an eye.” One of them growled.
To stop him from trembling Ronin laughed.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Ronin shot back.
“And why is that?”
“Because my name is Ronin Silas, I am Cons to Chi Lucian Kreed of Fyn, you know Aus Brinley Idris’ fiance. Chi Lucian, meet the Savs of Cadia,” Ronin was just starting to enjoy this as the Sav’s eyes got big.
“Chi Lucian-” They began to stammer.
“Pleasure,” I dismissed them quickly.
“So we do not need to announce our business to the likes of you.” Ronin got this stuck up attitude in his voice and I loved it. In another life, Ronin could have been an Actor. That’s how good his performances were.
“Right, along you go Chi.” The Savs stammered as I passed. When I was past them they snarled, “Cons.”
As soon as we were out of their sight I grinned at Ronin.
“How was that Chi Lucian?” Ronin asked.
“Performance of a lifetime.” I applauded him.
Ronin took a bow and smiled once again. I wrapped an arm around him and we continued on our journey to find a practicing witch.
“Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted, we need to find a witch. They would be able to tell if I had” I whispered the next part, “contracted a dev.”
Ronin sighed and turned back to me, “Seriously Chi Lucian, forgive my words but this is ludicrous. There is no way you contracted a Dev. We don’t have any dark objects and you aren’t a practicing witch. That’s the only two ways to get a Dev. I still think it’s stress-related, you just need to sleep more.”
“Don’t you think I’ve tried? I’ve done everything. I’ve tried to relax but it’s always there. No matter what I’m doing, the voice is there. This isn’t just me.”
Ronin didn’t protest again but you could tell he didn’t accept it, “When was the last time you heard the voice?”
“In the carriage on day two,” I responded.
“What was it saying?”
I flashed back to the carriage and the voice was haunting.
It whispered continuously in my head. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand who it was talking about and what they were lying about but it persisted.
“Chi Lucian?” Ronin brought me back.
“I’m sorry Cons Ronin, what?”
“What was the voice saying?”
“I don’t remember,” I responded.
Ronin pursed his lips and looked down. He didn’t believe me. Why should he, I lie didn’t I? Why did I lie? Ronin is just trying to help me but I didn’t want him to know the last words it whispered to me. This doesn’t make sense. I want this voice to be gone but when Ronin tries to help me I just can’t.
I gasped and Ronin looked over at me warily. He was really starting to catch on to how troubled I really was by this. I put on a normal face until Ronin turned away and I started up my inner monologue again.
It was probably talking about me. I have been lying to everyone I know. This is the issue. The voice was talking about me. I’m the issue. Not anyone around me. I picked up my pace and Ronin half ran to catch up with me.
“Chi Lucian! Why are we walking so fast?”
I didn’t respond to him. I just walked faster and I had three people trailing behind me as I walked. I walked down the street with a purpose in mind. I had to find a healer. When I found a healer they would take this voice out of my head. I would be cured and therefore okay. I pushed through groups of people and Ronin trailed behind me. I could feel his judging little eyes staring at me as I plowed through people.
Ronin didn’t understand how big a deal this was to me. If anyone finds out about this then I could lose my shot at being Ene. It would probably go to one of my cousins, Ene Arlen’s children. I couldn’t let that happen. If it did then my father would probably execute me. Especially if I did have a Dev in my head.
I knew immediately when we were there. It was the biggest, cleanest shop on the street. Purple flowers were blooming in the windows, out of season might I add. That’s how I knew this lady was real. No person has enough time on their hands to create proper false surroundings well enough to allow the flowers to grow. It must be magic. Ronin caught up to me and he was looking a little angry.
Ronin has a hard time keeping up with me. While I wasn’t exactly reaching the top shelves, Ronin’s growth had been stunted from malnutrition as a child and so he was shorter than I was. He had almost always had a hard time keeping up with me.
“We are here,” I breathed.
“This is the one you want to go?” Ronin asked as he eyed the building. “Doesn’t it look a little, um, commercial?”
I eyed Ronin to tell him I was not looking for input on this matter. I pulled out a small packet of Lapillas, a small stone that is very rare. It should get me anything I want, including a cleansing.
“What’s in that?” Ronin asked quickly.
“Lapillas,” I responded nonchalantly.
I feigned calm but in reality, I’ve been overly nervous since I took it from the treasury. Now that Ronin knew he could turn me in and I could get hanged. I don’t think he will though. Ronin has let these things slide before
“Chi Lucian! If you get caught with those they could execute you.”
“And they won’t catch me. Do you want to know why?” I asked him.
Ronin was freaking out. He looked how I felt. He was red in the face, hyperventilating slightly, and fidgeting with his fingers. He needed to calm down if we weren’t to get caught. If he didn’t calm down, I would be dead.
“Why?” he exhaled as he tried to calm his breathing.
“You won’t tell anyone, will you, Ronin?” I asked but made sure it was a command.
“Right,” he swallowed hard, “I won’t tell anyone.”
I knocked on the door and we waited. Within a few seconds, a small girl opened the door. She looked very timid and we weren’t helping with our fancy clothing and two Savs standing behind me.
“Hello,” I greeted her softly.
Her eyes got wide as she opened the door a little more.
“We are here to see your master, Where are they?” I asked her.
“She’s in the back,” She responded quickly.
“Thank you, love!” I told her as the four of us walked into the shop.
“W-wait! She’s with a customer! You have to have an appointment!!” The little servant girl called after us.
Before turning around I quickly rolled my eyes to get it out of my system. I put on a shiny, welcoming smile and turned around to her.
“What’s your name, love?” I asked gently.
“Farrah,” She responded quietly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Farrah, would you like to know my name?” I asked her, I let a little condescension slip into my words.
She looked a little confused as she responded, “Sure.”
“Well Farrah, my name is Chi Lucian Kreed of Fyn. I need to speak to your master immediately. Can you make that happen for me, love?” I brushed a piece of hair out of her face.
Her doe eyes got even wider than before. She made a quiet squeaking sound and ran to the back of the shop.
“Chi Lucian, you don’t need to use your name to get everything you want. We could have waited like everyone else,” Ronin mumbled.
“Oh Ronin, there’s so much to do and so little time to do it. Of course, I need to use my authority to get the things I want quicker. What’s the point in having power if I don’t use it?” I laughed.
“Right, sorry Chi.”
“I mean, doesn’t that make sense?” I asked the Savs.
“Of course Chi Lucian,” They both responded in sync.
I smiled at them and turned back to Ronin, “You see, they understand.”
“They have to say that. They don’t have a personal connection with you and so they are the most at risk of getting executed,” Ronin shook his head sadly.
“What do you mean we don’t have a personal connection?” I gasped and looked back at the Savs, “We have a personal connection, don’t we?”
“Yes, Chi Lucian,” They both responded.
“You see Ronnie,” I integrated his nickname from Andromeda, “we are best friends, isn’t that right Savs?”
“Of course, Chi Lucian,” They echoed one another.
“Sorry,” I laughed, “Do you guys have to speak in pairs, or is this just a personal choice?”
“Chi Lucian, do you even know their names?” Ronin asked, almost exasperated.
“Of course! That’s Kieryn,” I pointed to the one on the left, “and that’s Mercer.
“Actually-” Mercer began.
“You are exactly correct, Chi Lucian,” Kieryn elbowed Mercer and smiled.
“You see Ronin, I was right.”
Farrah returned into the room with her Master and we all looked up. I caught the eye of Farrah’s master and she gasped.
“Chi Lucian?” She asked.
“How do you know who I am?”
It immediately hit me that I was royalty and that I had to be known and recognized at some point here.
“I knew Sor Elaine Marlowe-Kreed,” she responded slowly.
Ronin looked up and stared at her.
“How do you know the late Sor Elaine Marlowe-Kreed?” He asked.
“Come, come, Chi Lucian. We need to talk.” She assured me.
I looked back to Ronin with a worried expression and Ronin tried to follow us.
“No, this is for the two of us only.” She stopped him.
“I’ll scream if I need help,” I promised him.
Ronin sighed but let us go into the back room. As we were walking towards the curtained back room I really began to notice the other features in the room. There was a bookshelf on the sidewall. While it was a bookshelf only the bottom shelf had books on it. The other three shelves were littered with varying glass bottles containing different liquids. There were many windows in the room but they were all blocked by heavy curtains that hung so small rays of sun escaped into the room. There was a musty scent in the room but it was clean and very orderly. Everything was in place except for a desk in the corner of the room. It was littered with papers and quills.
The woman who was leading me into the back room seemed to be a physical embodiment of this room. All her features seemed dark, with thin papery pale but creamy skin, midnight hair, and dark ocean blue eyes except for a little gleam that seemed to be mischievous. She was dressed very orderly but it was an odd sort of fashion. She was wearing a dark cloak over a blue dress that trailed behind her and the whole look was tied together with a silvery rope she used as a belt. The outfit was odd but it looked regal on her. It was the sort of outfit that was made for her and her features. If anyone else was to wear this ensemble they would look like a child playing dress-up with their mother’s clothing. Ridiculous. It was the same with her, if she wasn’t wearing her fashion I could only imagine how awful she’d look.
There was an air of mystery surrounding this woman. It was like there was so much to her story that you couldn’t fit it into a book. She was aged, the perhaps mid-40s, but she held the glint in her eyes of a young child.
She pushed the dark grey curtains aside and allowed me to step in. The room was very small. There were only a small table and a pitcher of a steaming liquid I had yet to identify. When she pulled the curtains back to their original positions, shielding us from Ronin and the two
Savs, I began feeling anxious again. I didn’t know this woman but she appeared to know me very well.
“Who are you?” I asked in a small voice.
I seemed to be like a trembling child. I didn’t understand why. I was the Chi after all. I had more power at the young age of 19 than many would glimpse in a lifetime still I trembled as I looked at her.
“My name is Genevieve Sarai,” She announced.
Her voice was as powerful as her appearance.
“Genevieve? I don’t know you.” I stammered through my confusion.
“Why of course you don’t know me. We’ve never met,” She told me this as if she was talking to a child.
I suppose to her I am a child.
“How do you know me if we’ve never met?”
“Sit down,” she told me, completely disregarding my question.
I sat down across from her and waited patiently. I was having a war with my brain. One part of me wanted to sit quietly and wait for her to talk to me. That part of me was entranced by her authority. The other half was enraged by her ordering me around. That wasn’t her place. I didn’t know what to do so I sat there waiting.
“How do you know me?” I repeated, slightly louder this time.
“Your eyes, Chi Lucian.”
“You know my eyes?”
“Of course, child, I saw them nearly every week for a better half of a year” She laughed.
I looked at the curtain, trying to see Ronin but the view was blocked. Maybe Ronin was right and this was a bad idea. I could go home and just get some sleep and be better. This woman was obviously crazy.
“Well, not literally. Has anyone ever told you you have your mother’s eyes? Because it’s true. You and your mother have the same eyes, that’s how I knew it was you when you walked through my door.” Genevieve sighed.
“So you really did know my mom?” I pressed.
“Of course! She was my best customer,” Genevieve smiled but it quickly slipped off her face, “that is until she died.”
“My mother was a practicing witch?”
“No, she was obsessed with cleansing though. She would buy out my whole stock of cleansing oils and herbs and flowers, anything that would promise purity.” Genevieve explained.
“Wait, this was before she died so the magic stuff was in Fyn as well. Why did she travel so far for this?”
“You know your father better than me Chi Lucian. He doesn’t like magic. Besides I’ve got the best supply for miles,” Genevieve sent me a slick smile.
I nodded and looked down. This wasn’t really what I expected.
“You aren’t here to talk about Elaine, are you?” she asked.
I shook my head and continued to look down at my lap. I could feel Genevieve’s eyes on me as she stared at me until I heard a gasp. I looked up and Genevieve looked almost sad. Something was bothering her.
“Wha-” I began to ask her what was wrong before I got interrupted.
“I know why you are here.” Now it was her turn to look down at her hands.
I laughed shortly, “I haven’t even told you anything yet.”
“You are hearing the voices aren’t you?”
My eyes widened as I stared at her in shock, “H-how, how did you, who told you?” I settled on that phrase.
“No one told me, Lucian, it’s history, it’s repeating itself.” She responded gravely.
My mouth formed an “oh” and I was just shellshocked. How did she know? It didn’t make sense. The only other person who knows is Ronin and there’s no way he told her. He didn’t even believe it himself.
“What do you mean ‘it’s repeating itself’?” I was honestly horrified now.
This was getting way too intense for me. I was waiting for her to just feel around my head or something for a Dev and then prescribe some witch hazel to me or something or another. I didn’t know what to do with this.
Genevieve exhaled and calmed herself before looking at me again. All this was just freaking me out more.
“Lucian, let me tell you a story,” Genevieve talked in a calmer, soothing voice, “A long time ago I was doing my ritual to open my shop at 4 in the morning. When I opened the door there was a young woman, just a few years younger than I was, shivering in the rain. I quickly assured her inside. She was shaking and looked terrified. Now I could tell that this wasn’t just your run of the mill street beggar sitting in my shop. While her dress was muddy and torn, it was also the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I let her sleep in my shop until I got my first customer, in this time I thought of what I needed to do. I knew she was a noblewoman but I didn’t recognize her which meant she was probably from a neighboring shire. Little did I know I was looking at a Sor sleeping in my chair. When she woke I pulled her into this little back room and asked her what she was doing here. She knew the gig was up so she told me everything. Who she was, where she was from, and why she was at my shop. Apparently, she had begun to hear voices whispering in the night. She told me if her husband found out he would worry about her and she didn’t want that. She told me that she just wanted to be cleansed and go back to her life ruling and her little son. And so I cleansed her. It wasn’t enough, it worked for a little bit but it wore off. Before long she was coming back every week. It was great for business, the beautiful Sor of a different land buying things from my shop. I was able to build it to what it is now. That is until the beautiful Sor stopped coming. I was worried about her. The Dev in her head was a powerful one and if she didn’t get cleansed every week she would lose herself to it. I took my horse and rode to Fyn where the whole Shire was in mourning. The lovely Sor Elaine Marlowe-Kreed had passed away in her sleep. The doctors had ruled it a heart problem but I knew it for what it was, the Dev had gotten to her in the time she didn’t get cleansed.”
I don’t know what she expected this to do but I was worried. What if I had the same Dev in my head as my mom.
“Listen, before you ask, I don’t know if it’s the same one. Sor Elaine had told me that the Dev she had contracted was connected to your family but you are a little young for it. How about I cleanse you some time and we’ll see what happens after that,” Genevieve spoke in a soft tone.
“I have questions, many many questions.” I winced.
“And I’ll explain it all to you.” She promised.
I took a moment to collect all my thoughts. Everything was happening too fast. I focused on one idea at a time. Genevieve knew my mother. Genevieve was friends with my mother. Genevieve was there when she died. I can’t do this. It was great and all when it was only a possibility. Everything was way too real for me right now.
Genevieve pushed a steaming glass of some sort of drink over to me. I barely glanced up at her but she looked sympathetic to my situation.
“Drink this. It will calm you, Lucian.” She spoke in such a soothing tone.
Her voice was quiet but powerful, it seemed like if she talked a lot it would relax you but not enough to make you fall asleep. She had a way of making you hang on her words like they were your lifeline.
I took the steaming mug and sipped it little by little. The drink warmed me up, I hadn’t realized how cold I had gotten. You may call her as you wish but that drink did calm me down. It placated me and I sat still. I could remember my worries but they didn’t bug me as much anymore. I waited for Genevieve to continue.
“Now Lucian, what are your questions?” Genevieve took a sip from her own cup.
“What is this drink?” I lulled.
It made me feel tired. Not like I wanted to fall asleep but it made me less agitated. It was a good feeling I decided.
“That is for me to know and for you to come back to buy more of it. Now, Lucian, please keep your questions relevant to your issue.”
I nodded and sipped the drink again. It made me feel all bubbly inside. It was like it was sending straight happiness into my system.
“Okay,” I smiled, “Did my mother die from the Dev?”
Genevieve pursed her lips and looked down in her lap. That kind of killed my buzz. It looked like Genevieve was uncertain and I thought she would answer all my questions. It didn’t make sense. Besides, if she was expelling a Dev from my mother, wouldn’t she know if she was on the brink of death?
“I don’t know.”
“How do you not know? You spent all that time with her when I was 8.” I protested in a half present state.
“I thought she was doing fine Lucian. She had the Dev under control. I was shocked when I heard she had died. It was really unexpected. Maybe it was the Dev. Maybe it wasn’t. I really don’t know.” Genevieve looked like she had some long undealt with issues with this occurrence.
“Am I going to die?” I asked this question with a straight face. I was swayed by whatever I was drinking. I felt detached like I couldn’t care less if I was going to die or not. If I am, maybe this drink will help me get through the hard parts.
“I’ll tell you what I tell all my patients. I’ll do all I can.”
“Am I going to die?” I repeated my question.
“How about before I answer that question you tell me what it’s like with this Dev sitting in your head. How does it feel and how do you know it’s there?” Genevieve pulled out a sheet of paper from underneath the table.
“Right,” I mouthed. “I started noticing it around two weeks ago.”
Genevieve started inscribing the paper and I just kind of stared at her. What was she writing? Was it about me? Does she think I’m crazy? Who am I kidding, I haven’t started talking about the voices yet. She doesn’t think I’m crazy.
“Describe the voices,” She pushed me to go on.
“Well, I don’t really hear the voices really. Or at least I don’t think I do. I can’t describe the voice but the words are so clear it’s like I’m hearing it out loud.”
“Has the Dev ever hurt you?” Genevieve continued to scribble on the sheet of paper.
“Yes,” I recalled back in the Under.
“Describe that experience to me.”
I went back into the darkroom with Brinley. I remember laying next to her and hearing the words ‘Ene Edmond’ pound through my head over and over again until I wanted to scream so I would hear anything but that.
“It was calling my father’s name. I was sitting in the lower levels of the Fortress as we were getting attacked by rebels. It started very quietly but gradually the sounds kept resonating and getting louder. It was the loudest sound I had ever heard. It was like I had two people screaming in my ear at the top of their lungs. When it finally stopped I could have sworn that my ears were bleeding. I reached up and I felt blood. I could have sworn on my life that I had blood in my ear. I got my Fiancee to look but it wasn’t there. When she told me it wasn’t there I couldn’t feel it anymore.”
Genevieve was frowning at her piece of parchment paper.
“You say that all this started two weeks ago?” She double-checked.
“I’m going to cleanse you and we will see where to go from there.”
“Is it certain that I have a Dev?” I made sure.
Genevieve pursed her lips once again and nodded.
I don’t know why but I guess I sort of felt relieved. I finally have an explanation for all of this. An explanation that makes sense and has a solution. I can get healed. I guess I was smiling because Genevieve looked confused.
“Why are you smiling, child?” She questioned.
“You can fix me. That’s something to smile about.”
“I said I can try. There’s no guarantee but I’ll try like Malcens to heal you.”
“Well thank you.” I smiled at her.
At least there was hope. I could hope for something.
“Either way, I’m grateful to you.” I stood up from the small chair I was sitting in.
“Lucian, when you get back to Fyn, can you snoop around and see what happened to your mother. I would like to understand how she left this earth.”
“Of course. When should I come back?”
“Give it about four weeks. I think you should tell your wife about it as well,” Genevieve advised.
“And why is that?”
“It’s easier to go through things with your significant other. It eases stress on your relationship.”
I knew I wasn’t going to tell Brinley. I’d either get healed or I’d die. I don’t want to face the shame of having to tell Brinley about my troubles.
I turned to go to the front room when she caught my shoulder.
“As much as I enjoyed your company, I’m afraid you have to pay me now.” Genevieve laughed.
“Oh right,” I reached into my pocket and grabbed the small bag of jewels. I handed them to her and she smiled at me.
“Perfect payment, you and your band of noblemen can leave now.”