Feb 20 2019

Daughters of Fate (Chapter 4)

Posted by Mathias in Daughter of Fate, Fantasy, Projects

And from beyond the Sea of Storms, from the sheltered land, shall come the Child of the Storm. And with this child, the power to return the Tear of Earoni unto the world and defeat the darkness.
-Book of Earoni 1234:90

Chapter 4 (18th of Alshu 6192)

“It has come to my attention,” Lord Hedric growled, “that you’ve ignored my orders. Noranda, Is this true?”

In the late hour, the great council room was dark. Save for the silver light of the great moon Earoni as it hung high in the night sky. The moonlight fell in elongated streaks across the floor.

A woman in red robes was half in and half out of one of these as she stood before him.

Hedric shifted impatiently. From his twisted, metal throne, he glowered at her from the shadows. Blonde hair draped around his pale face. Equally pale fingers held fast to the warped armrests.

The dark-haired woman was not intimidated. Some would say that she was just as foul and unnatural as he was. Others would say more so.

She responded to his demand in a low, calm voice. “I think you should reconsider that course of action, my Lord. Do you know who this child is?”

“Should I?”

“Stormband.”

Hedric’s eyes widened. An unnatural, dim reddish hue flared behind their natural blue color.

“That’s not possible,” he groaned. “The troops that attacked Minister Stormband’s convoy eight years ago reported there were no survivors.”

“They obviously lied.” Noranda shrugged. “Or at least told you what they thought to be true. They were, after all, impersonating Hitithe Rebels and did not want to stick around to make a formal body count. Especially since the elves arrived moments too late to save the Ambassador, but in plenty of time to exact some revenge. We’re lucky any of them even survived to provide us with a report.”

Hedric clutched his hand into a fist. “Fools. They were to eliminate every last member of the Stormband family.”

“But obviously they did not.”

“All the more reason for this child to be executed.” His nails dug into the throne, caving deep gouges to go with those already present. This was not the first time he had been so frustrated.

“No!”

“No? You are defying my orders again?”

Noranda could sense his anger. It resonated around him, filling his unholy aura. But she wasn’t pure either. And she did not fear him.

“I’m preventing you from making a mistake,” she corrected. “You’re forgetting the prophecies. The Child of the Storm will come and return the Tear of Earoni to this world. End this child’s life, and you end all chance you have of retrieving the artifact. End this child’s life, and you end all chance for my revenge. I cannot allow that to happen. She is the last of the Stormband line.”

“The Child of the Storm,” Hedric snarled, “is also the one foreseen to end my rule.”

Noranda took a step towards him. “She killed the rebel and his wife,” Noranda reminded. “I’ve seen the hatred in her eyes and the torment in her soul. She can be turned into an ally. And if we control the Child of the Storm, we control destiny.”

“Yes.” Hedric mused. His anger eased. “You are certain she is the one?”

“Who else could it be? She fulfills the prophecy in every way. ‘From across the Sea of Storms, from the sheltered lands, the Child of the Storm will come.’ Her father is dead. Who else is left? The Seers of Durang were wise, and their prophecies have all come to pass in their proper time. You believed that her father was the destined one eight years ago.”

“But what of the others? She is not the only one we wait for.”

“Patience. In time they too will come. But if we control one of the chosen children, think of the possibilities. With the Tear of Earoni in our power, you can have your wish granted and your curse lifted. And I can have my revenge.”

Hedrick fell silent as he contemplated the words. “Very well. You’ve won this child a reprieve. But I want a test of her loyalty. Are any of the rebels we caught last month still alive?”

Young Cassandra watched the black-haired woman in red robes. The dark woman turned a small ring of silver over and over in her hand. Cassandra focused on the ring intently. She could almost imagine the symbol of the eagle over the triangle engraved into its otherwise smooth surface.

Noranda held the ring in front of Cassandra’s eyes.

Cassandra reached out to grab the trinket, only for the woman to pull it back out of her reach. Her resentment smoldered.

In the woman’s eyes, Cassandra could see her own hatred and anger being reflected back at her. She shrank from the sight, frightened by what she saw in herself.

“You have a great malevolence for those that bear this symbol,” the dark lady spoke. “Why?”

Cassandra’s attentive gaze dropped to the floor. She remembered her father’s body, pierced by an arrow and laying on the ground. She remembered her mother, bleeding over him. She remembered the small, broken piece of arrow that she kept in her pocket. But she gave no answer to the question.

“You can’t be much older than what? Thirteen?”

“Fourteen,” Cassandra whimpered, twirling a finger in her long, red hair. Her mind thought only of wanting to leave this place where she had been brought. It was too confining. The smell of death lingered and made her sick.

The dark lady smiled. “Fourteen. And yet you killed the woodsman and his wife, did you not? All because of this?” She showed Cassandra the symbol on the ring.

“I – it was on his sword. And he wore a ring just like that one.”

“The sword you killed them both with?”

Cassandra looked up defiantly – tears in her eyes. “They killed my parents!”

“The rebels?” Noranda watched as Cassandra nodded and sniffled. She knew better but was not about to tell. “They’re barbarians, aren’t they? Barbarians that don’t deserve to live. Killing them makes the pain go away.”

Cassandra choked on sickening emotions that ran up from her gut. “Yes,” she answered, barely above a whisper.

“But the pain never truly goes away. It only eases it for a while.” Again, the woman held out the ring.

This time it was not withheld from Cassandra. She grabbed it. The silver was cold in her hand.

The lady in the red robes stepped aside. In doing so, she revealed to Cassandra a man chained to a large block of stone. He was frail and weak from starvation. His body was covered with the bloody but slightly healed marks of torture. He looked at Cassandra with vacant eyes.

“That pain eased when you killed the rebel and his wife. It eased when you took the lives of those who took the lives of the ones closest to you.”

“Yes.”

“This, my child, is the man to whom that ring belongs.”

Anger swelled inside Cassandra to replace her sickness. It made her stomach turn and her hands wring themselves with such force that they hurt. She struggled with the pain and resentment. She wanted to kill the man. She loathed his existence. But something else inside her tried to restrain her.

When the girl visibly hesitated, Noranda prodded her anger. “You can ease the pain again. I give you another.”

“N – no.”

A slim dagger appeared from the folds of the woman’s robes. She took Cassandra’s hand, placing it in her palm. “They killed your father. They killed your mother. And you say no? Take revenge for that injustice. Kill this man who is beholden to the symbol that I know burns your soul at night. Lessen the pain.”

Cassandra still hesitated. The mere thought of killing this man, this frail, helpless man, caused her pause.

He struggled to speak. “So, Hedric has to have a child do his killing?” he mocked.

“Silence!” Noranda ordered.

Her hand lashed out. A crooked bolt of blue energy burst from her finger and engulfed the prisoner. His body tensed at the shock, then relaxed as the assault was cut off before killing the man. His skin smoldered.

The woman called to Cassandra, who had jumped back at the display of her power. “Kill this man! Release the pain in your heart!”

Just the force of the words made the child take a cautious step towards the helpless man. She took another, then another, stopping only once she stood over him.

He seemed nearly oblivious to her presence now. His breathing was harsh, but the anger in Cassandra was beyond control. She raised up the dagger the woman in red had given her, pausing only a moment only as the man turned his head to look at her.

She saw her reflection in his vacant stare. She saw herself and her pain. She clenched her eyes shut to block the unpleasant vision.

With all her might, Cassandra plunged the dagger downward into his chest. Warm blood spilled over her hands. When she killed before there was no hesitation. But now there was reluctance. She felt weak. It was not a feeling she enjoyed.

As she opened her eyes, the reflection was gone. The man’s gaze was hollow and without life. The pain eased.

“Revenge,” Cassandra mumbled. “I will have my revenge.”

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