SCARS OF THE SEA / book two /// chapter 72 / fire burns
Posted April 14th, 2018 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: yeet this chapter was fun to write.
| 72 |
“I think I’m ready,” Eileen said, holding out her hands for Lawrence and Abygale to grab onto. They took her hands and theirs and she inhaled deeply.
“Remember, if things go wrong, if we end up separated, go south to where Ejiri is,” Lianna reminded her.
Eileen nodded, even though the statement was made to Abygale and Lawrence. Eileen would be coming back, using every last bit of her energy transporting people in and out of the war room. First were the two guests from The Strip.
Another deep breath.
Imagine a field. Snow-glazed grass and a wide open sky. In the distance, you can see mountains of smoke building above the city, but far enough away that you don’t have to worry about it.
Imagine it…imagine it…
She felt her body separate and move, flying through the air on unnatural winds. Was she fire or water or smoke or vapor?
All Eileen knew was that moments later she appeared on a hilltop with Abygale and Lawrence on either side of her, unscathed. The grass hissed around them. Far in the distance, the could see a city burning, billows of smoke drifting on a chilling breeze.
“Acantha,” Lawrence muttered.
Eileen waited one second to give herself time to breathe, and then she was gone.
Devdan and Mila were next, an easy transport to the exact spot she’d just went. Lawrence and Abygale were all smiles when she arrived with those two. Then she went back, her body twisting and morphing through the air. Lianna and Safia grabbed onto her hands and they were gone.
Those two women were harder to drag as the world changed shape and size and color and texture around her. Eileen wasn’t sure why, maybe it was because of the energy she had used on the first two trips without realizing it. However, she landed on the hill, stumbling a little, along with Lianna and Safia.
“Go,” Lianna said. “Bring Ciara.”
Eileen nodded and disappeared into mist and smoke, leaving those six on the frozen hilltop to watch the burning city from a distance.
When the dark war room materialized around her, Eileen thought that she had gone blind. Seconds later, her eyes started adjusting and she saw the big table, she saw Ciara’s huddled figure near the wall, and the low ceiling. The torches were out, so the only light was a sliver of white shining beneath the closed door. Eileen trailed her hand against the wall until she reached Ciara.
“What happened?” She asked.
Ciara turned to her and motioned down.
Once Eileen was crouched, Ciara whispered, “They’re out there.”
Eileen paused and listened. If she shut her eyes and blocked out her other senses, she thought she could hear footsteps scuffing outside.
“Okay, we’ll do this quick,” Eileen said, holding out her arm.
“I’m scared,” Ciara said, shaking her head.
“You’ll be fine. Trust me.”
“No…I’m scared for…” She put a hand on her stomach.
Eileen’s heart broke. She’d never done this with a pregnant woman before, so she wasn’t sure what would happen. Hesitation ate at her insides, crawling up her throat, spinning her head. What was she going to do? What if something happened? But they had to get out. They had no choice.
“We have to go,” Eileen said.
Ciara looked to the door, her eyes darting to and from it.
The door rattled. Someone banged on it. Then again, harder.
“Okay, okay, okay,” Ciara said, holding out her trembling hand. She exhaled. “Let’s do this.”
Her fingertips were a hair away from brushing Eileen’s when the door imploded in a loud combustion of wood and fire. Splinters showered the war room, the gust of hot air that tumbled in scattering the figurines on the map.
Eileen tried to teleport but stopped when she realized Ciara had backed away, mouth gaping, staring at a figure in the doorway.
Serilda stood, her silhouette slender and ominous, smoke curling around her.
She stepped into the room and every torch sizzled to life, burning with a pure white flame.
“Eileen,” The Witch smiled, licking her teeth as if she were tasting the name for the first time in a while.
“Serilda,” Eileen said, standing to her full height and holding out her hands, stepping in front of Ciara.
The Witch shook her head and began slowly making a circle around the room. Eileen stayed directly across from her, making sure that Ciara was behind her at all times.
“Not Serilda anymore,” she said, her fiery voice dripping with ice.
“Then who are you?”
Eileen didn’t need an answer. Somehow, she knew. Maybe it was the burning red eyes. Or the slight difference in the way she spoke. Or the ominous presence she put off, leaking out of her like swirls of unsettling darkness.
Chills erupted on Eileen’s arms.
“Saoirse,” she said.
The goddess smiled a red-lipped, white-teeth smile.
“How?” Eileen asked, feeling ripples of emotions rack up and down her chest. Tears prickled in the corners of her eyes.
“Serilda is dead. This is her body but she no longer exists.”
Saoirse took a slow step forward.
“You’re lying. Serilda…she was led astray but she was still…she was still Serilda.”
Saoirse tilted her head. “Could Serilda single-handedly burn an entire city down? Did she have an endless well of power to draw from—a universe of stars that provided her their flames, forever winking into nothing but providing an eternal field to choose from?”
Eileen tried to form words, tried to find something to say. Serilda was gone. She had been evil and cruel and a traitor but she had still been alive…now she was gone…
Why did it hurt?
Why were tears slowly trickling down her cheeks? Why did her lip quiver when she opened her mouth to speak.
Why when she put out her hands to shower the goddess with her own powers did something turn off, like her usual spring of magic had run dry? She felt in herself, scouring her mind for that power to will her elements to do what she wanted. They were scared—she was scared…
“I killed Serilda,” Saoirse said with a little, evil smirk. She wasn’t close to finished. She took another step forward, and Eileen took a step back.
The goddess continued, “I killed Kailen. After I stole her powers—after I turned her into a wretched human and watched her suffer.”
Her heart twinged and she pushed and pushed through her veins. Kailen was her only insider, the only Witch she trusted anymore. She had needed to see her again, had wanted to…
Stole her powers. Eileen frantically clawed through her magic, searching for it, begging it to work, to fire, to shoot, to do something. If Saoirse could take Kailen’s powers then she could take Eileen’s. What would Eileen do without her abilities? What would she be?
Someone touched her shoulder and she shuddered.
Eileen closed her hand around Ciara’s and felt every fiery lance of electricity rumble through her body.
“I’ll see you again, Saoirse,” Eileen said.
And then her and Ciara vanished in thin air.
It was different. Eileen could feel it. It wasn’t like soaring through an open sky. It wasn’t like dragging someone through water. It was like every force in the world was working—fire and water both—to rip her and Ciara apart. Throwing them around like rag dolls, flinging them here and there, jumping around as if they were leaves in the wind.
There were awful screams. Burned screams.
But not for herself.
For her baby.
Eileen jerked them back into reality.
They tumbled into a dark alley, rolling in slush and snow and ash, coughing out barrels of smoke that wafted through the streets.
Eileen was unscathed, but crawled on hands and knees, her energy drained, to Ciara. Gravel and grime dug into her palms but she didn’t care. Ciara writhed and trembled, her back pressed against the alley wall. One of her hands was cutting of Eileen’s blood circulation and the other was clutching her stomach.
She slowly steadied her breathing, but her eyes stayed matted shut with tears and smoke.
“Ciara,” Eileen whispered. Screams and roaring fire echoed all around them. “Ciara, are you hurt?”
“No…no…” Ciara said.
Eileen wanted to be relieved but instead her heart twisted even more. Her gut flipped. If she wasn’t hurt, then—
“He’s kicking,” Ciara said. “He’s alive. That’s…that’s not it…he’s alive.”
“What? Why? What happened?” Eileen couldn’t quite managed to find the words she wanted to say. Too much had happened in the last ten minutes for her brain to wrap around fully.
“I saw him…he shuddered. Like a seizure or…or something…” Tears choked her words. “I saw the fire wrap around him…I saw it hurt him…but he is okay…he lived…”
“Ciara, I’m so, so, so sorry. You said you were scared and I—”
“Eileen,” Ciara squeezed her hand even tighter. “It’s okay.”
She inhaled a deep, shaky breath.
“It’s okay,” she repeated.
Eileen shook her head as a wave of tears crashed through her. She wiped at her cheeks, but it was no use.
For a second, both of their walls were down. They were both trembling and crying and vulnerable.
And too much…too much had happened.
“Ciara,” Eileen said, smiling.
“What? What’s wrong?”
Eileen laughed, despite herself. “You said he.”
The corners of Ciara’s eyes crinkled and tears spilled down her freckled cheeks. “I did. I saw him. I saw my baby boy.”
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