My Life isn't a Fairytale prt 22, a short story by J.Morgan. Date added: 2012-02-28. Times viewed: 476.
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Aria fled the room, but it wasn’t over yet. Taranis stood like a volcano about to erupt, Emrys was watching me, every hint of my expression would give him a piece of information that he could use against me. But it was my father that I had to truly contend with.
“You left us,” My father started. Now was the real conversation. It wasn’t just about Beth it was about me.
I dipped my head low. “Yes.”
“You disappeared with your sister’s body. Where is it?”
“I buried her body in the Garden of Milan near her favorite bed of flowers. She and I used to meet there.”
“Father,” Taranis started more gently.
“Yes, we must resolve this issue.” Father agreed turning around and walked over to the window. “You cannot claim a Vessel as a Pet. This is not our way. A Vessel is simply a means to do that which we must.”
I lifted my head. “But as I said she isn’t a normal Vessel.” I took a single step towards him and spread out my arms. “Look at me father, don’t you see it?”
He regarded me with his hands loosely behind his back the length of his hair hadn’t grown that much. The length of hair was a cue of how much manna a Draconian had ingested, which meant that their pickings were growing slim; another reason why Emrys and Taranis were at the hospital all those months ago. “You have ingested manna.”
“Traitor!” Taranis snapped. He rushed at me but I was in no mood for his temper. I quickly grabbed the back of his neck and sidestepped throwing him to the floor. I shot Emrys a warning growl knowing he would come to his twin’s rescue, even if it was he who was being stupid. Taranis recovered bounding to his feet and peeling his lips back to reveal sharp fangs. I bent forward ready for him to shift and attack.
“Honestly,” our father said sounding annoyed, but that didn’t take away from the snap in his voice, like a whip. “This is neither the time nor the place for this! We will have a civil conversation. Understood?!”
I straightened cursing at myself for losing control and looked down at the floor as Taranis pouted walking over to Emrys. I heard her breathing become uneven and glanced to Beth, her wide eyes were staring at me, seeing for the first time what I was. Perhaps that was why she had accepted me so easily before because she didn’t really know what I was. I had become too human for her to understand. Here though, among my family, I wasn’t human and she could finally see it.
“She isn’t a Vessel.” I said stubbornly. “She is a Carana.”
Emrys’s expression was of stunned awe, and my father was watching me trying to judge if I was lying to him. I met his gaze. “She has shared her manna with me. At first I thought I had somehow inadvertently tapped into her, but since then I have learned that she is the one who was giving it freely. I remembered the lesson of our history. She is a Carana. By the time I understood this Emrys had already begun this farce. She ran away from me to be with her human friends and I was following to keep our secret safe.”
“It can’t be true.” Taranis said just as Emrys said, “Can it?”
There were times when they synced like that. One coin, two sides. There was a time when I tried to get close to Emrys, I thought our personalities wouldn’t clash nearly as much as Taranis and mine, but his connection to his twin wouldn’t allow it.
Father walked across the room towards Beth, she backed away as he advanced, terrified, but then stopped as he reached out. I watched my father take her chin in his hand and peer into her eyes then take in a deep breath through his nose. Her body shivered and she gasped as if he’d hurt her. I almost went to her to get him away, but that wouldn’t have been a good idea. My vision doubled a moment and I had to breathe in and out a few times to clear my head. “I will call the brothers, they will examine this girl.” Slowly his hand slipped to the bottom of her shirt and Beth cried out ripping from his grip. He sighed as if this whole thing was tiresome. “Lift your shirt girl I want to see it.”
Beth looked at me fully, confused, afraid, hurt.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t know?” My father asked me, though his attention was still on Beth. “You marked her here, in our territory.”
I walked over swearing under my breath that I should have known better. Dart had been mine since he was young, but even still he had to answer to the chain of command. In his mind my father was the leader of his pantheon of deities. I stood near Beth and placed my hand on her shoulder looking into her eyes. “Show him my mark.” She almost mouthed the words ‘your mark’ with tears glittering in her beautiful eyes. My heart clenched inside of my chest. What I was doing to her, she would never forgive me for. Numbly she lifted her shirt and I helped her peel away the bandage. The skin was already healed of course since I left a bit of Mythra for Dart to rub on her skin instead of the usual ointment used on fresh tattoos. The mark was perfect, my unique design bubbled out a bit on her smooth skin.
“Clever,” Emrys said again sounding as if he were having a relaxed conversation over tea.
My father sniffed, “Perhaps.” He gazed at me. “If she is not what you claim you realize your life is forfeit along with hers and all others who share your mark.”
I didn’t bother to act confident, because I knew what she was. I was living proof. “I understand father. She is a Carana and I marked her to prevent her from being claimed by another family.”
“Or to make sure you can’t be banished for betraying us,” Taranis remarked.
Our father raised his hand to forestall my response to that. “Emrys is correct, if she is a Carana this was a clever tactic. But your status in the family will not be restored because of this.” He eyed me. “We will speak of that another time, you will be taken to your rooms. She will be cleaned and prepared, then returned to you.”
I bowed my head and in no time my father called the Kon, a group of human woman, marked as Beth was marked. I frowned as Emrys and Taranis escorted me in a different direction.
“We’ll get you cleaned up,” the woman said touching my forehead tenderly as a mother would to a child. She was a beautiful woman in her fifties or so. Her hair was long and hung in springy black and silver curls. Her skin was tanned and lined with age, her eyes held those wrinkles in the corners of the eyes that told of kindness. “My name is May.”
I looked around there were three other women in the room all smiles and bustling around as if they were happy to be in a place full of monsters. “I’m Beth.” I managed trying to recover from the toxic amount of adrenaline rushing through me.
“She has shared her manna with me. At first I thought I had somehow inadvertently tapped into her, but since then I have learned that she is the one who was giving it freely.
I still couldn’t process anything. It was stuck on rerun, over and over in my head I heard Drake’s voice. But it couldn’t be true, could it? Was I really doing what he said?
May helped me to a large bathroom, with expensive trappings like a large Jacuzzi set in the corner and a walk in shower with deep grey stone tiles everywhere. Only a single narrow window was set horizontally above the tub. “There is an outfit over there for you, I hope you like it. Please clean yourself thoroughly, I am sure your Master will not want you to be dirty, their sense of smell is more acute than ours.”
I went over and picked up the ‘outfit’. It was a thin silk dress with spaghetti straps and a lace diamond that would conveniently show off my tattoo, not to mention every curve and a fair bit of cleavage.
“She will be cleaned and prepared, then returned to you.”
“I don’t understand,” I said not really knowing what I was feeling. It wasn’t fear or sadness or anger, or anything I recognized. May’s hand touched my shoulder.
“I remember when I first was given to my master.” Her voice was soft as if recounting a moment of hardship that she’d gotten over. “My family wished to give me a good life but couldn’t afford to. I know that you’re scared but trust me, you will learn that they are not as they seem.”
“No,” I mumbled stepping away from her. “They’re worse. Can I be alone, please?”
May nodded as I glanced up to her, expression hardening. “There are guards everywhere, there is nowhere that you can run. As I said they have an acute sense of smell.” Then she smiled softly. “Everything will be alright, once you’ve showered and dressed I will escort you to the room you will be staying in.”
When she was gone I looked around the bathroom. It was set up like a spa, as if they expected me to get all dolled up. Eventually I found a cluster of scented candles, purple pillars that smelled like lavender, four coins of floating blueberry and a pack of matches.
I was playing with an old card, worn and with holes that I could fall through easily if I wasn’t careful. I used to be the favored child, I was the one chosen, the oldest and strongest of my father’s children, the one who would succeed him. That little bit of influence is the only reason I was still alive, and Beth would continue to be.
Tomorrow Beth would undergo tests to make sure she was what I claimed. No matter how sure I was, there was still a bit of doubt in the back of my mind. If I was wrong, I would be dead wrong.
One step at a time, I reassured myself. For now, I was a prisoner in my old home. I could have been walking around the halls or down in the tunnels below the town. In fact I knew that I should have been heading to one of my family’s cattle farms, but I just couldn’t think of eating. The hollow feeling was painful, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t going to leave when Beth would return soon.
In fact I stared at the grandfather clock to check the time. It had been over two hours. Curiosity and a bit of worry overcame the need to stay put, so I left my room and walked down the hall towards the Kon apartments. The building was connected to two others making it one large complex, though there were others in town. Of course there were a few guards around, but of course they wouldn’t bother me unless I tried to leave. Most of them weren’t Draconians but a few were, those from a lesser family who came to serve ours. They claimed it was just a compulsion to protect, and in the past I didn’t believe them, but lately, I wasn’t sure. Not that it mattered, that wasn’t important to me anymore.
I caught the scent of burning fabric and a hint of smoke lingering in the hallway that was near the gym. I lifted my head and followed the smell realizing it was coming from the direction Beth was more than likely in. Heart pounding I began a slow jog turning and following as the smell got thicker, stronger. I saw a group of Kon women huddled around one of my father’s, May.
“What happened?” I asked as the women parted to allow me to see that May was bleeding. The lower part of her arm was wrapped with a white cloth.
When she saw me there was a brief moment where I could tell she couldn’t believe that I was there. Surely she was told, but I suppose after ten years she found it hard to believe I had returned. “She started a fire, I tried to stop her….but..”
Beth. My jaw clenched and I touched May’s shoulder. “Go tend to that. I’ll take care of her.”
“Master Taranis is inside, she attacked him as well,” one of the other women said, I didn’t recognize her but she was wearing blue. Emrys liked blue, though I never pictured him the type to have a Kon.
I pushed past two other Kon, but they were male, meant simply for protecting the female ones and of course to be personal servants of their masters. I entered the bathroom and had to cough from the intense char smell, a layer of smoke still hung against the ceiling as it made its way to an open window above a flooded bath tub. Black scorch marks crawled up the walls near the corner where a sink was. Just beside it was Taranis, I could hear Beth so I rushed further in to see her on the floor at his feet, cradling her face, blood splattered on the floor.
“What is going on?!” I growled and Taranis turned, he had a slash across his cheek. It wasn’t deep but it was bleeding down to his jaw.
I quickly looked at Beth who was huddled now, shaking, then I saw the piece of mirror in her hand, blood dripping from how hard she was gripping it. “She’s insane!” Taranis snapped. “First she tries to burn down our home then she attacks me!”
“Liar!” Beth cried putting her hand down to reveal a swollen cheek and what would soon be a black eye. I noticed water on the floor and the scent of lavender in the air under the smoke as I walked forward slowly. Her lips trembled as I crouched down.
“Teach her respect, or I will!” Taranis stormed off leaving me and Beth alone. Her one blue eye was circled in blackening skin that was swelling while the other was watching me with a blank expression.
“Easy, let me help you up.” I offered now wanting to push her, she seemed volatile. I reached out for the hand with the glass and she lifted it releasing the mirror letting it clash on the floor the tip breaking off. I gently grabbed her wrist and turned her hand so that I could see how badly she had been cut. I winced.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said sounding amazed.
“That’s because you’re in shock. Well you may need a stitch or two, come on I’ll take you to…” I was going to say hospital but Beth pulled away slipping on some water and across to the corner with the sink, glass still laying everywhere on the floor. I didn’t move, I just watched her, she seemed so wild, like an animal that had been caged and mistreated.
“I’m not going anywhere,” her voice was weak but I knew she meant it. I rose up, being sure not to move too quickly
“So you’re just going to sit there, soaking wet and bleed to death?”
I noticed her start to shiver and the confidence in her posture weaken. Her breathing began to quicken and I realized she needed to get warm and the bleeding needed to be stopped, so I rushed over and scooped her up before she could protest. She was freezing cold in my arms and her bloody hand was cradled into her chest. “Let me go,” she murmured fighting unconsciousness.
“I will,” I said walking out into the hallway. To my surprise there were still a few Kon there. “Have someone clean that up, and bring a first aid kit to my room.”
The tallest Kon bowed his head and I began the walk back. Beth was trying not to fall asleep while her shirt was becoming soaked with blood. Perhaps the cuts were deeper than I thought. The shaking increased and she started to fight, forcing me to quicken my pace to the room. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“That would be a change,” she grunted pushing on my chest, but I only tightened my grip, frowning. What could I say?
I fumbled to open the door while trying not to let her go, and get to the bed before she leapt from my arms. Landing hard on the mattress, she cringed away from me tucking her knees to her chest while cradling her hand. I could tell that she was feeling the pain now but her body was still shivering from shock and of course her wet clothes. “Beth, I know you probably hate me but..” She laughed bitterly, glaring.
“You used me.”
Gritting my teeth I continued. “That hand needs to be bandaged, not to mention you’re soaking wet.”
“Well I’m not wearing that slutty number they gave me, so you can forget it.”
I sighed hard and slowly moved myself to sit on the edge of the bed, she watched me warily. “I don’t know what they wanted you to wear Beth, but I don’t care about that.”
There was a knock and I got up forcing a calm expression. The door opened and Amanda was there. She was a Kon that tended my father along with May. “Here are the things you requested. I have been instructed to inform you that your father has been told of the incident and will speak with you about it tomorrow.” She handed me a white box.
“Thank you Amanda, if you would please send some food and clothes for Beth.”
The fare haired woman seemed to be shocked and I realized that I never spoke to her so politely before. “Of course, right away.”
“Thank you.” I added closing the door and turned leaning against it. Having to push my hair back I suddenly wanted to chop it off. “Okay.” I pushed from the door and walked across the room. “Are you going to let me do this?”
“What if I say no?” She lifted her chin, the skin on the side of her face looked angry and dark mixed with red.
I frowned. “Well if you think I’m going to let you bleed all over my bed, then you have another thing coming. If I have to hold you down, I will.”
That got her. She looked at me unsure if I was being serious. One way or another she wasn’t in any position to resist. “I didn’t mean to hurt May. She just got in between me and your brother.”
I sat down on the bed and reached out for her wounded hand. “You should tell me what happened, this way I can make sure no one will hurt you again.”
“As if emotional pain is any less than physical?” she shot at me, then took in an uneven breath.
I focused on opening the kit and took out a needle, some antiseptic and bandages. “I don’t have anything but some topical numbing agent. So this might sting,” I said ignoring the raging in my head.
Beth stayed silent, not even allowing a hiss through her teeth as I slowly and carefully stitched her skin together. The slices in the bend of her fingers were shallow but it would take time for them to heal because of their placement. There was no damage to the tendons that crisscrossed the palm of her hand, which was good. “So are you going to tell me what happened back there?” I asked pulling the last stitch and tying the knot.
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