SCARS OF THE SEA / book two /// chapter 43 - Shambles
Posted May 15th, 2017 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: get ready for a spam...
| 43 |
The darkness enveloped Kailen. She eased the trap door shut above her head and slid into the uneasy shadows of whatever cellar sat below. Her feet met the groaning planks of wood that proved to be a staircase when she tested to see if it descended. Kailen inched her way down the rail-less stairs, dragging her hand along the wall to her right, the ancient stones chilling her fingertips. The walls seemed to hiss at her under her touch, as if the Warlock-built castle could sense the Witchen fire that roiled in her blood. Finally, after a minute or two of the slow submersion into the utter dark, Kailen’s left foot hit something harder than the wood, something solid. Stone.
She stepped off of the staircase and wandered forward a few feet, blinded by the shadows encasing her. The shapes lingering in alcoves and corners and weaving through the air itself made her hair stand.
Almost against her will, fire sprung from her fingertips, tingling down her hand and spreading its warmth up her arm. She could barely muster more than a sliver of a flame for each finger in the dank, chilling atmosphere.
Orange light shattered over the room, illuminating its entirety.
Barely more than a closet.
Shelves full of books and strange colored bottles lined the far wall, a desk set in the center of them. There was no chair, parchment was strewn over the surface. A used candlestick stood erect beside an open book. Kailen lit it and the flames on her hand guttered. She opened an ink bottle and swished it around. Not dry. Used recently. The candlelight gilded the ink’s swirling surface. The bottle thudded as she replaced it beside a stack of tattered books. They resembled the tomes Kailen had shuffled through in Serilda’s office. But when she cracked these open, a foreign language stared back at her, taunting her…its harshly cut lines and symbols brutal in some way.
She flipped a few pages. An image met her, greeted her, welcomed her.
It showed a woman. Her arms were at her sides and her legs standing tall. The image to the right showed the same woman, it appeared, but years younger. At most, twenty years old. And to the right again, the woman as a child. The transitions ended on a tiny drawing of something smaller than even an infant.
Odd. It was a reversed time line of sorts. Counting backward instead of forward.
Kailen glanced through the remaining books, only to find similar things. Foreign languages with illustrations of people either dead or thriving. Plants growing or crumbling to dust. And occasionally, a dry, red smear marred the edge of a page. She stacked the books and turned to the right wall.
The first thing she saw were two massive red voids—eyes, dotted with midnight pupils. Swirling and spitting like lava. A corona of pure fire wreathed around the pupil of each, the whites nonexistent, overthrown by red.
Then, with what Kailen thought to be a shriek, the eyes vanished, a large mirror left in its wake. The surface was smooth and clean—Kailen stared at her face as if she were not looking from her own body. She turned away at the repulsive sight of what she’d become. A thin, sallow, dying Witch. Succumbing to Serilda for months on end had beaten her down, each your grace like a punch to the face.
The sight of those red eyes had her blood boiling again, fire begging to be released. Kailen exhaled and smoke curled in the air, her tongue bearing the flames. So much pent up anger and hate, the emotions directly attached to fire.
Kailen didn’t look at the right wall again. Instead, she turned to the left and prayed to Saoirse there wouldn’t be another mirror.
Instead, hundreds of pages and sketches and notes had been pinned to the wall. Streaks of red connected each like a ruby spider web. Thousands of lines interweaving to form one bigger picture.
Those red eyes.
Those Witchen eyes.
They stared down at her from the entire height of the wall. Her veins shook with the eternal strength of those eyes. The eyes of Saoirse herself.
Even thinking the name in the presence of the goddess, what looked to be some kind of shrine to the Witch goddess, frenzied the fire in Kailen’s body. She needed to explode, could feel the desire—the primal need—ignite deep in her bones.
Her mind clouded with smoke, with the boring stare of Saoirse’s eyes. Kailen didn’t dare turn back to the mirror as she flew up the stairs. With half a thought, the candle on the desk guttered and the entire room flooded with darkness.
Kailen reached the trapdoor and eased it open, so slowly; she flinched as the stone door scraped against its neighbor. Serilda’s legs were gone—she was gone.
Kailen could not waste any time.
She scrambled from under the desk and darted across the office. She was barely a wraith as she flashed out of the room and down the hall, through corridors and down winding staircases. Light met her as she broke through the front doors and strode across the inner bailey, grass searing under her feet.
The buildup inside her was too great—too heavy. Too hot. If she didn’t let it out she thought she might explode from within. Kailen imagined her burning flesh and blood and gore scattered about the grass; she shuddered. Searing pain jumped through her veins. This was new, she’d never felt this before. This burning need to release her power, to burn.
But she wasn’t going to make it to the desert—she wasn’t even going to make it to the forest. Kailen ran and ran, her feet burning with each flashing step. Saoirse’s eyes burned on her closed eyelids—she hoped they were not forever branded there.
Maybe what she felt, the flaming hot sensation, was Saoirse’s presence. Or maybe it was a curse for fighting against the Witchen Empress.
Kailen knew she wouldn’t make it past the iron-wrought portcullis. In her mind’s eye, she saw Berea’s royal forest as she’d last seen it. Evergreen trees blowing in a gentle, warm breeze. Pine needles carpeting the forest floor. A stream emptying out into the Afon far below. She saw herself burning there, releasing cascades of fire with every ounce of her power, her being.
And then—there was a darkness that swept her up—a whoosh that roared in her ears.
Kailen’s eyes were open, but the darkness continued.
The forest swirled to life around her, mixed with streaks of smoke. Her boots crunched on the ground. A blur of smaragdine trees and a brown coated floor.
That was all she registered before she pulverized her surroundings. Flame exploded from her in all directions, scorching fire that licked over the needles and swam around the trees. Kailen couldn’t think of anything else but those fiery eyes and the power that poured out of her, lapping out of her hands, her arms, her heart.
Her veins sighed as the searing fire released.
Wings of flame sprouted from her back and then dissipated into a growing cloud of smoke behind her. A cloud of smoke that towered high above the treetops and into the Berean sky.
After what could have been hours of roaring as the flames rolled off her body, Kailen was empty. She dropped to her bare knees, her clothes ash around her, and watched the shambles she’d created. Trees groaned and snapped, falling into the flaming pool of pine needles below. Embers burst into the air, gliding like winged demons and pulsing with Saoirse’s light.
At the sight, ice cold ensconced her blood. She trembled amid the burning forest, watching the wind carry away her charred clothes and singed hair, watching the wind spread her fire. Past the creaking, burning wood, a stream trickled.
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