May 03 2019

Daughters of Fate (Chapter 23)

Posted by Mathias in Daughter of Fate, Fantasy, Novels, Projects

Earoni’s eye sees all. Even in the night She watches over the world. 

Wonders 2:3 

Chapter 23 (1st of Earonitan in the year 6199) 

King Turon paced around in the flickering lamplight of his study.  It had been hours since the guests had left from the Yule Celebration and only about another hour until sunrise.  He stopped his strides and stared out tall windows across the sea beyond. 

“What would your father say?” he muttered. 

Sheala sat quietly in a chair behind him, her hair a shamble as she toyed with the hem of her dress.  Just like the last time she had seen him.  At that time, she was being punished for disobeying him and destroying a valuable Fimmirran artifact from during the PreDawn Age while playing tag with her sister through the palace halls.  That was a long time ago, but she had not forgotten. 

She had not felt this uneasy in years, and Sheala thought she had grown stronger.  She was wrong. 

“Tell me,” her uncle continued, “why didn’t you just come back?  You obviously had the means.  I know you and Cass were young at the time, but eventually you could have gotten back here.  Found some way to contact me.  Maybe not right away, but eventually.”  He sighed.  “When word came to me of the massacre, and that there were no signs of either you or your sister, I sent three dispatches of troops to scour the Relmishian countryside.”

“You obviously weren’t too successful in your search,” Sheala snapped halfheartedly. 

“Damn it, Sheala!  Many of those troops never did come back!”  He turned to stare down the young woman.  “For Earoni’s sake, Eliza was my sister.  Your father was one of my closest friends.  I never let myself be forgiven for not finding out what happened to the two of you.” 

“Well,” Sheala stood, proundly displaying herself before him..  “Here I am.  Fourteen years later.  Fourteen years of scraping, begging, fighting and stealing my way back.”  With a flourish of her hands she emphasised again, “Here I am.” 

“Sit down!” King Turon’s voice blasted like a dragon’s roar. 

The tone in his voice caused the young thief to realize who she was talking to.  Frowning, Sheala retook her seat and mumbled something unintelligible. 

Her uncle paced over to where she sat.  “And what are you, Sheala?”  He watched as she turned her gaze to the floor.  “A common thief.  I might not have known you very long, but I always thought that you were better than that.” 

“I did what I had to do to survive,” she defended herself. 

“You didn’t come back.  That would have been the smart thing.  It would have helped you survive to a higher standard than,” his voice was disgusted, “this.  You survived, yes.  But you didn’t live up to the standard that you should have.” 

“Things happened too fast,” once more playing with her bots of her dress.  “And I found myself my own life.  If I came back, what would I have become?  A ward of the court?  That life isn’t for me.” 

“Sheala,” King Turon knelt before her, his tone softening, “no one besides probably you and Cass pained more over the deaths of your father and mother than I did.  I swore that if you ever came back, I’d treat the two of you as my own daughters.” 

“I don’t want your pity.”  She looked up at him with green eyes that displayed nothing by darkness and hurt.  The message in them was clear; that she blamed her uncle as much for what she had become as anyone else.  “What’s done is done, and I can’t change who I am.  Or what I’ve become.” 

“We all have the ability to change,” the King chided her.  “And what about Cass?  What has become of her?  Why isn’t she with you?  The two of you were always so inseparable.” 

“I -” Sheala choked on her words.  “I wish I knew.  She was always the one that told me, ‘Stop crying Sheala, you’ve got to move on and forget the past.’  She was always the stronger one.  I guess one of us had to be.  I woke up one morning and she was gone.”  Consumed by grief, Sheala covered her eyes and tried to hold back the tears from years of repressed hurt. 

King Turon reached for her and encbraced her.  “There, there.  Cass is able to take care of herself.  If you survived this long, so has she.” 

“I just want my life back to the way it was,” Sheala sobbed. 

“Please stay,” he begged her.  “At least consider it.  I owe this much to your father and my sister.  I owe this much to you.  It’s not too late.” 

“No.”  Sheala pushed away.  She stood in a rush and stormed a few steps off.  “I’m off these rocks as soon as Reane gets the Oracle back into shape.  Maybe sooner.”  Sheala then ripped the medallion she had been wearing about her wrist from its place and threw it to the floor.   

“Sheala-” 

“No.  I’m not a little girl any more.  I make my own choices.  Sure, maybe some of them haven’t been the greatest ones.  But they were my decisions.  Mine alone, and I own them.  And that has to count for something.” 

“Sheala, there are problems in the world today.  I’m asking you, please, stay.”  The words fell on deaf ears as Sheala marched towards the door.  “There was a specific reason why your father was appointed to be an ambassador to the elven kingdoms.  I need you to take his place.  It – It’s important -” 

“Yeah, you want me to stay because you need something from me.  Your problems don’t concern me.  I told you.  I’m leaving.”  She opened the door and paused.  “If you’re going to arrest me for being stupid enough for getting caught earlier, that’s about your last chance to stop me.  But, just so you know, I don’t think your dungeon can hold me for long.”  The theif slammed the door as she left. 

King Turon twisted himself into the chair she had vacated and placed his head in his hands. 

With that, Reane stepped out from the shadows from where she had been watching.  “You can’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to.  Sheala’s too independent and stubborn.” 

“Reane,” King Turon shook his head, “why didn’t you tell me?” 

“I gave her my word.  If there’s one thing I’ve never done, it’s broken my word.”  Still dressed in her formal attire, she rested against the corner of a desk covered with books and documents. 

“What else aren’t you telling me?” 

“I think you need to focus on that woman that just left this room,” Reane counseled him, avoiding the topic.  Avoiding what she now knew about the fate of the other child of Stormband. 

“You always were stubborn too, Reane.  Just like your father.”  Bending over, King Turon picked up the medallion Sheala had discarded. 

“Yeah, I know.  You probably wish I was more like my mother.  Look, don’t think that I’m not thankful for everything that you’ve done for me and my father over the years,” Reane said.  “But I’ve paid that back tenfold.  Me and the other smugglers that have run supplies through the various Imperial blockades over the years have helped you through some pretty bleak times.”  She fiddled with her earrings, removing them one at a time. 

The King lamented, “I can’t believe you don’t care, Reane.” 

“I don’t care?” Reane’s laugh was suppressed, but still obvious.  “Why do you think I brought her here?  I know the legends.  And I’ve seen what is to come.  Sheala’s life is very unique.  I’ve never seen such a constantly shifting fortune as I have in her.  Literally, with every choice she makes, no matter how small, it changes.  She could go either way; to the light or the dark.  Like there is some sort of tug-of-war for her very soul going on as we speak.  And while I learned long ago that tinkering with the fates of others was a fool’s errand, still I feel compelled to do so with Sheala.” 

Reane closed her eyes, remembering back to the night she had dreamt of her father being murdered on the docks the following evening by a thief seeking only a few coins.  The vision frightened her still to this day. 

She remembered telling her father about it and the joyous relief she felt when her father agreed not to go to the docks.  The next night she fell asleep so easily with her mind at ease.  But that night the dream changed.  This time in her mind she saw her father turn towards a woman’s scream in a dark alley.  He fought off three assailants trying to force their way onto her, but it was the knife of a fourth that ended his life. 

When she woke in a cold sweat and he wasn’t there, she realized then and there that her father was meant to die. And nothing, not even she, could change it. 

But with Sheala, Reane had seen an ever-changing fate.  Sometimes for the better.  Sometimes for the worse.  Reane wanted to prevent the worse from coming to pass. 

The Captain sighed.  “Sheala’s a good kid.  She’ll do what has to be done, but only if she can be made to see past her own guilt and hurt.” 

“The elven people await the Child of the Storm, Reane,” the King decried his current predicament.  “I thought her father was the one that could stir them into action.  Reignight the alliance.” 

“I told you, make her see what she must do.” 

“She’s not the child I once knew,” dispirited, King Turon spoke. 

“She’s exactly the same,” informed Reane.  “Only older.  And believe it or not, wiser as well.  You’ve got to understand her position.  Everyone she’s ever cared about in this world is dead.  You’re her uncle, and she keeps telling herself that she blames you for her life.  But that is all just a facade.” 

“I know it must have been tough for her.” 

“You don’t know the half of it.” Standing up, Reane walked over to the window.  “Beneath her tough shell, she’s the same little girl you once knew.  Afraid that she’ll be hurt again if she lets anyone get too close.  She was only six when her parents died.” 

“The same thing happened to you.” 

Reane stared up into the silvery swirl of the Eye of Earoni in the night sky. As it shone down upon the rolling hills outside, she corrected him.  “I was two years older when my mother died.  And almost twice that age when it was father’s turn.  By that time?  I’d seen death and it had been more death than I had wanted to see.  Since the day I met her.  Since the day I sought her out.  I’ve tried to prepare her for what she is destined to do.  I’ve seen what must be done.  But I can’t make her do it.  It’s up to you now.” 

“How can I make her do this?” King Turon pleaded for an answer. 

“Go to her.  Tell her the truth,” Reane told him bluntly. “If you do, then all will be as it must.” 

“And if I don’t, oh last of the great Seers of Durang?” 

“If you don’t?”  Reane drew a deep breath and then exhaled.  “Then all is forfeit.” 

King Turon paced around in the flickering lamplight of his study. It had been hours since the guests had left from the Yule Celebration and only about another hour until sunrise. He stopped his strides and stared out tall windows across the sea beyond. 

“What would your father say?” he muttered. 

Sheala sat quietly in a chair behind him, her hair a shamble as she toyed with the hem of her dress. Just like the last time she had seen him. At that time, she was being punished for disobeying him and destroying a valuable Fimmirran artifact from during the Pre Dawn Age while playing tag with her sister through the palace halls. That was a long time ago, but she had not forgotten. 

She had not felt this uneasy in years, and Sheala thought she had grown stronger. She was wrong. 

“Tell me,” her uncle continued, “why didn’t you just come back? You obviously had the means. I know you and Cass were young at the time, but eventually you could have gotten back here. Found some way to contact me. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” He sighed. “When word came to me of the massacre, and that there were no signs of either you or your sister, I sent three dispatches of troops to scour the Relmishian countryside.” 

“You obviously weren’t too successful in your search,” Sheala snapped halfheartedly. 

“Damn it, Sheala! Many of those troops never did come back!” He turned to stare down the young woman. “For Earoni’s sake, Eliza was my sister. Your father was one of my closest friends. I never let myself be forgiven for not finding out what happened to the two of you.” 

“Well,” Sheala stood, proudly displaying herself before him.. “Here I am. Fourteen years later. Fourteen years of scraping, begging, fighting and stealing my way back.” With a flourish of her hands she emphasized again, “Here I am.” 

“Sit down!” King Turon’s voice blasted like a dragon’s roar. 

The tone in his voice caused the young thief to realize who she was talking to. Frowning, Sheala retook her seat and mumbled something unintelligible. 

Her uncle paced over to where she sat. “And what are you, Sheala?” He watched as she turned her gaze to the floor. “A common thief. I might not have known you very long, but I always thought that you were better than that.” 

“I did what I had to do to survive,” she defended herself. 

“You didn’t come back. That would have been the smart thing. It would have helped you survive to a higher standard than,” his voice was disgusted, “this. You survived, yes. But you didn’t live up to the standard that you should have.” 

“Things happened too fast,” once more playing with the hem of her dress. “And I found myself my own life. If I came back, what would I have become? A ward of the court? That life isn’t for me.” 

“Sheala,” King Turon knelt before her, his tone softening, “no one besides probably you and Cass pained more over the deaths of your father and mother than I did. I swore that if you ever came back, I’d treat the two of you as my own daughters.” 

“I don’t want your pity.” She looked up at him with green eyes that displayed nothing by darkness and hurt. The message in them was clear; that she blamed her uncle as much for what she had become as anyone else. “What’s done is done, and I can’t change who I am. Or what I’ve become.” 

“We all have the ability to change,” the King chided her. “And what about Cass? What has become of her? Why isn’t she with you? The two of you were always so inseparable.” 

“I -” Sheala choked on her words. “I wish I knew. She was always the one that told me, ‘Stop crying Sheala, you’ve got to move on and forget the past.’ She was always the stronger one. I guess one of us had to be. I woke up one morning and she was gone.” Consumed by grief, Sheala covered her eyes and tried to hold back the tears from years of repressed hurt. 

King Turon reached for her and embraced her. “There, there. Cass is able to take care of herself. If you survived this long, so has she.” 

“I just want my life back to the way it was,” Sheala sobbed. 

“Please stay,” he begged her. “At least consider it. I owe this much to your father and my sister. I owe this much to you. It’s not too late.” 

“No.” Sheala pushed away. She stood in a rush and stormed a few steps off. “I’m off these rocks as soon as Reane gets the Oracle back into shape. Maybe sooner.” Sheala then ripped the medallion she had been wearing about her wrist from its place and threw it to the floor. 

“Sheala-” 

“No. I’m not a little girl anymore. I make my own choices. Sure, maybe some of them haven’t been the greatest ones. But they were my decisions. Mine alone, and I own them. And that has to count for something.” 

“Sheala, there are problems in the world today. I’m asking you, please, stay.” The words fell on deaf ears as Sheala marched towards the door. “There was a specific reason why your father was appointed to be an ambassador to the elven kingdoms. I need you to take his place. It – It’s important -” 

“Yeah, you want me to stay because you need something from me. Your problems don’t concern me. I told you. I’m leaving.” She opened the door and paused. “If you’re going to arrest me for being stupid enough for getting caught earlier, that’s about your last chance to stop me. But, just so you know, I don’t think your dungeon can hold me for long.” The thief slammed the door as she left. 

King Turon twisted himself into the chair she had vacated and placed his head in his hands. 

With that, Reane stepped out from the shadows from where she had been watching. “You can’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to. Sheala’s too independent and stubborn.” 

“Reane,” King Turon shook his head, “why didn’t you tell me?” 

“I gave her my word. If there’s one thing I’ve never done, it’s broken my word.” Still dressed in her formal attire, she rested against the corner of a desk covered with books and documents. 

“What else aren’t you telling me?” 

“I think you need to focus on that woman that just left this room,” Reane counseled him, avoiding the topic. Avoiding what she now knew about the fate of the other child of Stormband. 

“You always were stubborn too, Reane. Just like your father.” Bending over, King Turon picked up the medallion Sheala had discarded. 

“Yeah, I know. You probably wish I was more like my mother. Look, don’t think that I’m not thankful for everything that you’ve done for me and my father over the years,” Reane said. “But I’ve paid that back tenfold. Me and the other smugglers that have run supplies through the various Imperial blockades over the years have helped you through some pretty bleak times.” She fiddled with her earrings, removing them one at a time. 

The King lamented, “I can’t believe you don’t care, Reane.” 

“I don’t care?” Reane’s laugh was suppressed, but still obvious. “Why do you think I brought her here? I know the legends. And I’ve seen what is to come. Sheala’s life is very unique. I’ve never seen such a constantly shifting fortune as I have in her. Literally, with every choice she makes, no matter how small, it changes. She could go either way; to the light or the dark. Like there is some sort of tug-of-war for her very soul going on as we speak. And while I learned long ago that tinkering with the fates of others was a fool’s errand, still I feel compelled to do so with Sheala.” 

Reane closed her eyes, remembering back to the night she had dreamt of her father being murdered on the docks the following evening by a thief seeking only a few coins. The vision frightened her still to this day. 

She remembered telling her father about it and the joyous relief she felt when her father agreed not to go to the docks. The next night she fell asleep so easily with her mind at ease. But that night the dream changed. This time in her mind she saw her father turn towards a woman’s scream in a dark alley. He fought off three assailants trying to force their way onto her, but it was the knife of a fourth that ended his life. 

When she woke in a cold sweat and he wasn’t there, she realized then and there that her father was meant to die. And nothing, not even she, could change it. 

But with Sheala, Reane had seen an ever-changing fate. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. Reane wanted to prevent the worse from coming to pass. 

The Captain sighed. “Sheala’s a good kid. She’ll do what has to be done, but only if she can be made to see past her own guilt and hurt.” 

“The elven people await the Child of the Storm, Reane,” the King decried his current predicament. “I thought her father was the one that could stir them into action. Reignite the alliance.” 

“I told you, make her see what she must do.” 

“She’s not the child I once knew,” dispirited, King Turon spoke. 

“She’s exactly the same,” informed Reane. “Only older. And believe it or not, wiser as well. You’ve got to understand her position. Everyone she’s ever cared about in this world is dead. You’re her uncle, and she keeps telling herself that she blames you for her life. But that is all just a facade.” 

“I know it must have been tough for her.” 

“You don’t know the half of it.” Standing up, Reane walked over to the window. “Beneath her tough shell, she’s the same little girl you once knew. Afraid that she’ll be hurt again if she lets anyone get too close. She was only six when her parents died.” 

“The same thing happened to you.” 

Reane stared up into the silvery swirl of the Eye of Earoni in the night sky. As it shone down upon the rolling hills outside, she corrected him. “I was two years older when my mother died. And almost twice that age when it was father’s turn. By that time? I’d seen death and it had been more death than I had wanted to see. Since the day I met her. Since the day I sought her out. I’ve tried to prepare her for what she is destined to do. I’ve seen what must be done. But I can’t make her do it. It’s up to you now.” 

“How can I make her do this?” King Turon pleaded for an answer. 

“Go to her. Tell her the truth,” Reane told him bluntly. “If you do, then all will be as it must.” 

“And if I don’t, oh last of the great Seers of Durang?” 

“If you don’t?” Reane drew a deep breath and then exhaled. “Then all is forfeit.” 

<< Back to Chapter 22 | Forward to Chapter 24 >>

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