SCARS OF THE SEA / book two /// chapter 84 / a war just begun (THE LAST CHAPTER OF BOOK 2)
Posted May 3rd, 2018 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
A/N: THE FINAL CHAPTER WOOOOO
im so happy that i'm finally here, finally presenting to you the last chapter of Scars of the Sea. This book was a real turning point in the series, when our characters go from being children thrust into a war into adults who are trying to rule. It's a fascinating transition and I am so happy to have finally made it this far.
as per tradition, the dedications
snow, for always commenting and theorizing and being the most dedicated reader ive ever seen on kidpub.
arianna, for always telling what factual things i get wrong (i really do apprecaite it)
and max, for being my friend and talking about our books and s j maas together.
| 84 |
A War Just Begun
Finn gasped awake, blinking at a room that was startlingly dull. He expected to wake up in the middle of a street surrounded by ash with his clothes soaked through. Instead, he had been bathed and shaved, his hair cleaner than it had been in months. His legs were trapped beneath tightly made, plain sheets, and a single candle glowed on his nightstand.
“Where am I?” he groaned, but the answer came to himself. His old bedroom in Berea’s castle. The overlarge bed was comfortingly familiar. Everything else about the castle had always irked him except for his own bedroom. And the library. The library—when was the last time he’d even picked up a book? When he’d read the genealogy book in his father’s office?
“Finally you’re awake,” Ren said, sitting in a chair beside his bed. Her hair spiraled around her head in little baby curls, and cascaded over her shoulders. Something in the way she carried herself, with her sharp jawline and dark eyes, made her seem older than she had before.
“Not the first time I’ve woken up seeing you after a battle,” Finn said, rubbing at his eyes.
“You passed out in the street.”
“Yeah,” Finn said.
She was wearing a shirt that exposed her collarbones. And pants. Gone were the days where Ren Roku dressed in frilly gowns—gone were the days of being a princess.
“Devdan and Jack carried you back. Lawrence and Safia were with them.” Ren looked away, her eyes glimmering, her voice choked. “My father was not.”
Finn opened his mouth to speak but his tongue felt heavy and useless. What could he say.
“I’m sorry,” was all he managed.
“Did you see it happen?” She asked.
Finn shook his head. He had no idea…had he died in the blast, like everyone else?
Ren tightened her jaw and met his gaze with hardened eyes. So much to go through at such a young age. All of them went through too much. Too much.
Finn’s chest sank and his shoulders sagged and his entire mood deflated when he remembered what his future held for him.
And Ren would be the Queen of Kaede, he assumed. Unless Lianna resumed her title as Queen Regent until Ren was older and more capable of holding the position. It was too much for Finn to think about at the moment, when his mind was halfway clouded with his dream. He needed to speak to Eileen.
“Where’s Eileen?” Finn asked.
Ren tilted her head to the window. “They went out into the city to find someone.”
“Are untouched. Saoirse focused all her power on the armies.”
“Ren, I am so, so sorry.”
She lost a mother and a father and a brother all within a span of months.
Eileen watched Castor reunite with his father with tears in her eyes and throat.
They embraced first, wrapping each other in their lithe arms, so similar yet so different from each other. Castor was tall, lanky, and now heavy with muscle he’d built from training in Acantha. His father was shorter, with a slightly hunched back and darker skin. Still, they shared the long limbs and large hands.
Afterward, the three of them walked back through Berea’s streets, the people of the city out enjoying the post-storm haze of fog and rain.
While they enjoyed that, Castor enjoyed being around his father.
Eileen enjoyed watching the joyous glint in his eyes as his father recounted an old tale from his youth, or made a witty remark at Eileen, or spoke of how talented a toymaker Castor used to be, but how he was sure that Castor made a fine soldier now.
“I’m not a soldier,” Castor said.
Eileen wound her fingers in his. “He’s the bravest soldier I know.”
That made Josef Naldwine’s eyes crinkle and smile.
She noticed that he smiled with his eyes more than his mouth.
Just from that first encounter with Castor’s father, Eileen decided that she loved him.
Hours later, he heard Castor and Eileen’s voices drifting down the corridor outside. He wanted to call out for them, to ensure that they entered his room, even though he knew that was their only reason for venturing down that hall.
They both entered, Castor with his bushel of curls atop his head and a wide goofy smile on his lips, and Eileen with…Eileen…that wasn’t Eileen…
“Who are you?” He asked.
Her laugh was the same. Her voice was the same…but her eyes. “It’s me…Eileen.”
“But…your eyes?” Finn couldn’t help but turn the statement into a question.
“They’re red,” Eileen said, firm and blatant. She looked down, and then at Castor. “Something happened. During the battle.”
“Wait,” Finn cut her off. “Before I forget. I need to tell you something.”
Eileen leaned forward intently and nodded him on, though she had a puzzled expression, as if she wasn’t sure what could be so important for him to tell her after waking up from a coma. Was it a coma? How long had he been out for?
Finn brushed the thought aside and told her exactly what the man with no face, no hair, and no clothes had told him. Every single word.
Eileen sat back in her chair when he was finished.
“What does that mean?” Finn asked.
Eileen tilted her head. “Serilda was possessed by Saoirse. Somehow she got into that situation because the gods promised her immortal life. It’s sounds like Saren is the one who made the promise. And Saoirse was the one who took over his little game and made it something…more.”
“But Saoirse is not dead?” Finn asked. “And that…that was Saren? That I talked to?”
“Yeah,” Eileen said. “It had to be.”
Finn bit his tongue, holding back the fact that Saren referred to Serilda as Saoirse’s shell. And that fact specifically struck a nerve deep in Finn.
Ciara hadn’t visited Finn since he woke up.
But she’d been to see him every single day he’d been unconscious. He was in his old room at the castle, the one she used to sneak into as a servant—where she would go through his belongings and take naps in his bathtub. That had been a strange time in Ciara’s life, she realized. An adolescent time.
Something about seeing him back in that bed, the way he had been before everything changed, made her see the world through his forest-green eyes. Brana’s death—the guilt and sorrow and remorse that he must’ve felt from that. The way he’d acted around her since they reunited in Acantha. How her behavior might have confused him.
And suddenly, involuntarily, she forgave him.
But still…she was scared to say it to his face. Scared that he would reject her or rebuke her after she spent weeks furious with him over something he had no control over. No, Ciara had other people to be furious with. The Savages. Herself.
She should have been there with Brana. Or Brana should have not gone at all.
That would have been better.
But if Brana hadn’t gone, there would have been no army of empowered women.
And that army was the only thing that remained from the battle save for Lord Heru’s fleet, in which he had been sleeping in his cabin throughout the entire battle. Ciara’s army retreated to the tunnel when they saw the fire closing in on them. Hundreds didn’t make it, but thousands survived. Ciara led them into the shed and down the stairs quickly and orderly, blood splattered on her face as she did so.
She looked at herself in the mirror now. Scarlet hair sheared close to her scalp, little baby coils frizzing over her ears and atop her head. She’d done it the day after the battle, when ash fell from her head no matter how much she washed it. Everywhere she went remains of those who had fought trickled out of her thick, bushy curls.
So she cut them.
Now, though she probably looked like a boy, she was more comfortable than she’d ever been.
She wore a thin shirt that had little straps over her shoulders and tight pants with little slippers. She was ready. Ready to talk to him. To tell him.
It took Ciara seconds to reach Finn’s bed chambers. Even months after she’d worked there, she knew the entire castle by heart, each corridor permanently etched into her memory. She rapped lightly on the door and turned the knob.
Finn was in bed, his eyes open, squinting at something in his hands.
She almost laughed. Instead, Ciara just smiled and sat down by his bed.
Finn looked at her over his page. His eyes flickered over her hair but he didn’t mention the change. “You’re grinning.”
“Am not,” she said.
“You are, too.”
Ciara was unable to keep her smile from widening. “You’re reading.”
“Yes,” Finn said. “I am. And I’m very much enjoying it.”
“Taking your time off?” She asked.
“Off of what?” Finn sat the book down.
“The war. It’s not over. Eileen filled me in on what you said.”
Finn sighed. “My war is over.”
“What do you mean?”
“My war is over. I’m beginning a new war now. A different kind.”
“I still…I don’t understand.”
“I’m going to be King of Euanthe.”
Ciara’s eyes widened, even though she knew it would happen. She knew from the first time she’d met him as the prince that one day he would be king. It’s just…now that day was upon them.
King Finn Hadar.
“Well, your majesty, I’ll leave you to your book.” She stood up and started toward the door.
Just say it. Say it, you coward.
I am not a coward.
“Finn,” Ciara said, turning around.
He raised his eyebrows.
“I…I forgive you.”
“And I hope you can forgive me.”
Finn nodded, his lips stretching into a truly happy smile as he said, “I do.”
Abygale anxiously awaited the nurse’s results.
She’d warned her that they might not be entirely accurate.
Just because the test came out as positive didn’t mean she was pregnant, and just because it was negative didn’t mean she wasn’t.
As soon as Eileen told her about the nurse at the Berean castle, one of the few employees the Witches had actually found a use for and not murdered, Abygale had rushed to see her. To take her infamous pregnancy test.
Please, for the love of the gods.
By the grace of the Mother, please, please, please.
Abygale sat on the side of one of the patient’s beds while she waited, while the nurse stirred in her back room waiting on the test to work.
She wasn’t sure the science behind what the nurse did. Maybe it wasn’t science at all. Maybe it was magic of some sort, some leftover ability from when Warlocks ruled Euanthe.
All she knew was that she was that her cycle was one week late and the feeling of not knowing what the test said had to be worse than any other—like a dagger slid into her guts and twisted around and around—churning her insides. She was going to throw up. She was definitely going to throw up, the nerves were just too overwhelming, too—
“Are you ready to know?” The nurse said, poking her sweet little face behind the white cotton divider.
Abygale nodded furiously.
Eileen walked through the strip of land that once upon a time had been Euanthe’s only forest. Now, Euanthe had no forest. The land was a field of tree stumps and ash, reflected by an overcast of gray skies.
The wonderful wreckage left behind by Saoirse.
Eileen sighed as she wandered around the land, sometimes holding Castor’s hand as she walked and sometimes moving freely.
They hiked up the incline of the burned down forest and reached the infamous cliff Finn had sketched, one of the few drawings Eileen ever saw of his before he stopped delving into his creative abilities.
She looked at the scenery around her, appreciating the cascade of water bubbling into the Afon river that snaked in and out of Berea’s walls. But the water…the way it flowed and whirled and moved like a living creature…it just saddened her. Reminded her of what she had and didn’t have. Reminded her of the ever-changing lives they lived, but how everything seemed to follow the same repetitive pattern in the end.
Eileen self consciously rubbed at the twin pale scars running up her forearms.
She hoped the gods were happy.
She hoped Saren truly was thankful for her sacrifice, for her giving up that little bit of herself she’d been clinging onto for her entire life. That little bit of her connection to not only her father, but an entire forgotten nation of Warlocks. If it weren’t for that, she would not have been Eileen. Back in Mohana, she would have blended in with every other Witch and been just another soldier in Serilda’s army. Saoirse’s army.
Eileen leaned her head against Castor’s and stared at the breathtaking view of the waterfall and the cliff and the city beyond, red clay tiles glinting in the warm sun that shone through the clouds. People roamed the streets freely, trying to rebuild their lives and their city.
The lives that Saoirse, Saren, and all the other gods stole from them.
Eileen’s heart roiled with anger, fire overwhelmed her veins, and her power sang with the guttural twists and turns of her emotions.
Kill them, they said. Kill the gods.
But all she could hear was the instructions Finn had given her from Saren himself.
Two straightforward words. Kill Saoirse.
Eileen brushed her hair behind her ear, kissed Castor on his stubby cheek, and smiled at the view, knowing that soon they would embark on a new chapter of their lives.
But who was she to do what the gods demanded?
***DUN DUN DUN. to be continued, but not on kidpub. I think I'm done posting this book on here, so the next book will not be on here anymore. If you want to continue reading, email me at email@example.com and i will see if i can send you the chapters as I write them :))
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