Chapter 18: The Darkest Link
*SIDE NOTE: I found the artist name for this particular piece! Geneva Benton! Find her here! —-> Gbenton07@gmail.com gdbee.deviantart Isn’t she gorgeous!? 😀
NOW, On with the story ^_^
(Sometimes, my visions would come to me while I slept. At other times I was inconveniently hit with them while conscious. I’ve found that they are easiest to endure when I stopped fighting them. Last night, I remembered falling asleep, but at some point I stopped dreaming. My dream was abandoned and a new vision forced it’s way into my subconscious.
I was standing in the middle of a colorless ocean, the sands were ashen grey. I looked down at myself to see that I was adorned in a sleeveless dress; it was a deep, rich purple, the symbol of royalty. The dress came down just above my ankles, the frills tickled the tops of my bare feet softly.
As I stood there looking around, all I could see was white, blank space; utter nothingness. From the depths of the ocean I stood upon, I could feel vibrations. I slowly looked down past my feet and I saw what appeared to be some sort of pink, crystal coffin rising up. However, it stopped rising just below the surface of the water three feet in front of me.
My eyebrows furrowed as I crouched down reaching into the waters. Suddenly, about thirty feet away, the dark silhouette of a woman emerged from the water. I tried to stand up but my hand was stuck in the water. The panic set in quickly. This dark figure began gliding towards me; but even as she came and crouched down directly in front of me I couldn’t see anything more than a black shadow. My instincts should’ve been telling me to be afraid, but I was strangely calm. She reached down into the water and placed her shadow of a hand over mine. The ocean beneath us became a gigantic, liquid screen.
Nyah and I were frantically running through some sort of stone maze. We stopped and appeared to be listening to something. After a brief moment we started running again. There were so many winding paths, lefts and rights, until we came to large, wooden double doors. There was only one significant thing about this door; the doorknobs had iron Eagle heads on them. I didn’t know how I knew, but I just knew Zola was trapped behind those doors. I felt her there, scared, hungry, and losing hope quickly.
I looked up from the images she’d shown me, and the dark figure began to sink into the ocean; turning the waters black.)
Malaika- Wait! Where is that place!? Why is this important!?
(My questions fell on deaf ears as the shadow woman disappeared into the now blackened sea. Her sliding off of mine. The coffin never returned to the depths from whence it came, but it’s gleaming crystals somehow shined just below the shallow black waters.
That was the moment I heard Nyah’s voice. The vision started to fade…I awakened with a sharp gasp. My heart was racing and I felt Nyah’s healing hands on the sides of my face. I felt her restorative powers seeping out of her palms.)
(I opened my eyes to see her looking extremely concerned.)
Nyah- Are you alright!?
Malaika- I’m fine, it’s alright Nyah.
(I said sitting up slowly in bed. She took her hands away from my face, staring at me. She didn’t seem convinced.)
Nyah- Are you sure you feel okay? You were so hot to the touch, no matter how much I tried to cool you down.
Malaika- Really Nyah, put your worries to rest. I promise I’m ok.
(Norio had offered us our own cabin for the night and had a few of the other Phaloa setup two comfy beds for us. As comfortable as these furs beneath me were, I didn’t feel well rested. Someone knocked on the door then, and we both looked towards it curiously.)
Norio- It’s Norio, I brought our doctor. Can we come in?
(I looked back at my sister, sighing heavily. She looked at me with guilt ridden eyes.)
Nyah- What!? I was worried! My powers weren’t working on you so…?
(She said shrugging her shoulders. I shook my head at her before directing my full attention at the door.)
Malaika- Come in!
(Norio opened the door a little too hard and it flung against the wall, making me and Nyah jump. Just a little. The doctor was the same height as Norio, about five feet eight inches. He was a fairer skinned man with reddish-blonde, short hair. He wore a dark blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up, khaki boot cut pants, and hiking shoes. A medium sized, army green physician’s bag was in his right hand. He looked to be in shock when he looked at Nyah and I. Norio came into the room with the doctor following sheepishly behind him.)
Norio- Princesses, this is Dr. Jesse. Jesse, these are the beloved princesses of Gahdehsein. Malaika and Nyah. Do you understand now why I couldn’t tell you who you were treating?
(The nervous doctor stepped forward and knelt before us, his head bowed.)
Jesse- It’s truly an honor to be in your presences. I’ve been researching your family’s abilities my entire medical career, all of you are absolutely fascinating.
Nyah- You sound like a scientist who’s just found his perfect test subjects.
(She looked at him with her brow raised. I smiled down at him briefly before getting out of the bed.)
Malaika- I’d say he sounds more like an admirer sister. Please rise, Jesse.
(He stood up a little too fast, smiling nervously.)
Malaika- It’s a shame you’ve come here for nothing Jesse. As you can see, I’m in good health.
Norio- What happened exactly? I saw you myself. You were murmuring in your sleep and your forehead felt extremely hot to the touch.
(He obviously wasn’t going to let this go too easily either. My sister must have given him a heart attack panicking this morning.)
Malaika- I swear you guys, I’m okay. Please send the kind doctor back home…
(Norio gave me a nod with a reluctant sigh and said nothing more. I watched him reach into his right pocket and pull out a small money bag. He handed the bag to Jesse, who fumbled it into his physician’s bag.)
Norio- One hundred rends as promised. Sorry to have you come all this way.
Jesse- Don’t be sorry! I got to meet the princesses, a rare opportunity for anyone. Call on me whenever, I’d be happy to be of service.
(He gave us a hurried bow before taking his leave. Norio looked at me again, only this time it felt like he was painting a picture of me with his mind. He was quite bold, standing there appearing to have already bathed…Smelling like rain and the most expensive men’s body oil. Not too much either, just enough to make you want to get closer for a better smell. The scents mingled strangely well. Those big, almond eyes were fixed on me; flashbacks of our conversation yesterday came back to me. Norio’s voice, the warmth of his hand on my chest…
I shoook my head and cleared my throat before sitting back down on the bed. It was becoming too difficult to look him in the eyes anymore.)
Malaika- I couldn’t speak freely with the doctor here. To put your minds at ease in the future, there’s something you both should know. Sometimes I have visions instead of dreaming. It doesn’t happen often, but I will show signs of fever. This particular vision was the strongest I’ve ever had.
Nyah- Any idea why that might’ve been?
Malaika- Not at all. This one took me to some unknown body of water. The water was so clear I could see the sea floor. Does this body of water sound familiar to either of you?
Nyah- I’ve never heard of a place like that. Are you sure absolutely sure it wasn’t just a weird dream? Not a vision?
Malaika- I can physically feel things in my visions as if I were awake, that’s the difference.
(Norio walked over to the foot of my bed and sat down. He looked troubled. We looked at him concerned.)
Norio- …Did there happen to be a crystal coffin in this grey sea?
(I quickly turned to face Norio, my heart skipped a beat when he mentioned the crystal coffin. I never revealed that detail and somehow…)
Malaika- There was. How could you have known that?
Norio- I would be a terrible son if I didn’t remember what my mother’s coffin looked like.
Nyah- I’m sorry, I didn’t know you’d lost your mother as well…
Norio- Technically, she’s still alive. She’s under a sleeping curse. I’ve been searching for a powerful witch to lift the spell, so far no luck.
(He looked over at me very seriously then.)
Norio- What do you think this vision was trying to show you?
(I was afraid to say it out loud, it felt like I’d make it reality if I said it. The vision showed that we were connected by something dark. Something was linking us together for a purpose, whether or not it was a dark purpose or not had yet to be revealed. One thing I was certain of, is that I would never get Zola back without his help.)
Malaika- We can’t be separated, we need each other if I ever want to see Zola again.
Nyah- What are you saying?
Malaika- My connection to him will help us get Zola back.
Norio- Vice Versa, my connection to you will help me find a way to free my mother.
(We looked at each other silently for what felt like minutes. Nyah sighed, making me look back to her. She shook her head at me.)
Nyah- I really, REALLY, don’t like the sound of this. There was nothing about that vision that sounded good.
(She stood up and started putting on her beige walking boots beside her bed.)
Nyah- Little sister, I know very well that your visions are never wrong. Whatever is about to happen, we need to be with Ivor. I’m going back to the bed & breakfast. Ivor is probably fuming right now wondering where we ran off to.
(I stood up from the bed and went to her. I could tell by her expression there would be no persuading her to stay. I suspected that she’d made up her mind long before now.)
Malaika- Nyah, I can’t let you go off alone like this.
(Norio stood up and walked over to us with a deeply worried expression.)
Norio- Neither could I. At least let my men and I escort you two back, we have to head out to meet Dorieus’s men soon anyway.
Nyah- So you really plan on meeting them?
Nyah- What if it’s a trap? Do you intend to endanger us again? At least if we were back with our personal guard-
(There was a sudden,”BOOM” sound that shook the camp. It was strong enough to make the three of us stumble.)
Norio- You two stay inside, I’ll be right back.
Malaika- Be careful.
(He gave me a firm nod before bolting out of the cabin, taking his bow & one arrow off his back. He’d always kept his long bow and arrows on him and a sword with a black blade. It was strange, I’d never noticed the sword until now.
Nyah turned to face me, grabbing my arms with a loose grip.)
Nyah- Don’t stay here in this mess, come back with me right now.
Malaika- What? We don’t even know what’s going on out there!
Nyah- All the more reason to get the hell out of here! We’re wasting time, Zola could be enduring torture for all we know! Listen, I know your heart is torn between Norio and me right now, I’m not blind. You have to think for a moment. Why would a royal have any connection to a Phaloan rogue? There’s something about your vision that’s missing wouldn’t you say?
(I wasn’t sure exactly what was missing, but I couldn’t deny that some elements of the vision seemed to be incomplete. What if the rendezvouz was really a trap? King Dorieus would have all three of us in a nice little package. I couldn’t let that happen. For some reason as Nyah touched me, I couldn’t get past the despairing feeling coming from her.)
Malaika- I understand your concerns, and I agree with you. We should meet up with Ivor and formulate a plan for when we arrive in Karahshai. All I ask is that you try and trust me a little more. I won’t let my personal feelings cloud my judgement.
(She sighed, letting go of my arms.)
Nyah- Malaika, I do trust you. Norio is the one I can’t figure out.
(Another loud, “BOOM” shook the cabin, and then another one…Suddenly we were holding each other’s hands tightly.)
Nyah- That’s enough! I’m done! Malaika, you’re coming back with me NOW.
(Seeing as how she was the eldest, I had to mind her. How could I argue with her at a time like this?
I quickly put my own walking boots on with my hooded cloak before we exited the cabin. The Phaloa were definitely being attacked, there was no doubt about it. They were fighting a very familiar army. King Dorieus had sent his soldiers here. The funny thing was, I wasn’t afraid. I knew he was nowhere near this place. I remembered the distinct armor with the Khrysos family crest embedded on them. An eagle’s head on an orange background. An eagle’s head…!)
Malaika- Nyah! I just realized something about my vision!
Nyah- You’ll have to tell me later! We need to get out of here!
(A thin veil of smoke covered the entire camp. Nyah and I ran around looking for the stables, we needed a horse to make it back. We ran past many sword fights and fist fights, but we didn’t see Norio anywhere among the chaos. The sounds of horse hooves echoed around us, I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. Nyah & I stopped running.)
Nyah- Is that…?
Malaika- Yeah but where is it coming from?
Nyah- Look! There!
(She pointed ahead of us. Sure enough, Norio’s black horse came trotting towards us. It slowed down as it got closer and I reached out my right hand. The stallion stopped and rubbed the side of it’s large head against my hand. His owner was nowhere in sight. Nyah wasted no time mounting the horse, so I did the same.)
Nyah- Hyah! Hyah!
(My sister shouted as she gave the reigns a quick snap. I held onto her waist tightly before the horse started galloping forward. A large fire ball went flying high in the air above us as we rode out of the camp. The bamboo gates were smoldering piles on the ground of the entrance. As were the poor guards who once stood there…
When we made it back to the bed & breakfast, we were greeted by a very angry Ivor. I was surprised he gave us a moment to explain what happened.)
Ivor- A Phaloan boy…A fool who fashions himself a hero…Tch, a fool who doesn’t know his place.
Malaika- Ivor, how could you speak so harshly? He saved our lives. He’s saved mine many times.
Ivor- Know this young princess, I’m not saying anything he doesn’t deserve. You could never understand the likes of a Phaloan man. Forget him, we’re leaving now.
(My eyebrows furrowed. I started to protest but Nyah touched my shoulder to stop me.)
Nyah- He’s known us our entire lives. Ivor is the only one we can trust right now, he’ll save our Zola no matter what. The three of us have to star together Malaika.
Malaika- Don’t you feel bad at all? Their camp is being attacked because of us! We even took Norio’s horse!
Nyah- That horse belongs to my husband, remember?
(I sighed, looking away from her.)
Malaika- That’s not the point! Norio has kept us safe up until now. I don’t care about your prejudices towards the Phaloa. I’m gratfeul to them for their generosity.
Ivor- Those thugs don’t do anything unless there’s something in it for them. Don’t misunderstand the intentions of this Norio. Now, get any money bags or personal things you might need so-
(The sounds of breaking glass came from downstairs and then sounds of running feet came from the hallway. Terra came running into our room with a fearful expression. I went to her and she firmly grabbed my hand. Her whole demeanor had changed.)
Malaika- Terra what’s the matter!?
Terra- King Dorieus and his personal guards are here looking for you two! You have to get into the underground passages right now.
Nyah- How does he know about this place!?
(Ivor gave me a very unfriendly look and I had a good idea why. I could hear his thoughts echoing around me, and all of them were suspicious of Norio.)
Malaika- Hey! You don’t know if he was responsible for this!
Ivor- And neither do you!
(I couldn’t win with him; another arguement for another time. Terra had completely ignored our bickering and started moving the bed nearest the bathroom.)
(She pushed the bed against the bathroom doorway, revealing a door in the floor.)
Terra- All of our rooms have these doors. Why do you think there are so many columns in this building?
Nyah- To disguise the escape hatches…
Terra- Come on now, hurry! Take the ladder down into the passageway. The left tunnel is the one you want, safe travels.
(She said opening the door for us. We ran over to the opening in the floor and looked down at the ladder. The tunnel was lit with soft, white light bulbs handing along the walls. Nyah went down first, then me, and Ivor climbed down last. We looked up to see Terra closing the door again. Ivor reached into his rucksack hanging from his left shoulder and took out a long dagger. The hilt was a standard leather wrapped one.)
Ivor- stay close and stay behind me, we don’t know what could be down here.
Nyah- Ugh, it smells awful down here. Like water from a turtle pond…)
(She said with her nose scrunched. We walked fast behind Ivor. Ahead of us was nothing but a stretch of dimly lit tunnel; there was no way of knowing how far we were from the exit.
Three people sacrificed themselves for our sakes today…My father had taught us to value those who would give up everything for us. To cherish the memories of those who willingly protected us with their lives. I felt so terrible as I thought about Terra & Demetri being left to deal with King Dorieus alone. And Norio…
In that moment, my entire body pulsated with a strong wave of power. A hot, yet gentle breeze that felt like a caress of summer against my brown skin. It seemed Nyah and Ivor didn’t sense it as strongly as I could. They had kept walking until they realized I wasn’t following them.)
Nyah- Malaika? What are you doing!? Hurry up girl!
(I turned around to look behind us, I thought I saw movement in the distance but I wasn’t sure.)
Ivor- Young princess?
(I put my hand up to silence him as I stared intently into the depths of the tunnel. Someone was definitely running towards us, I only could hear one pair of feet. The closer they got, the stonger my powers reacted. This felt so familiar…)
Norio- RUN! RUN!
(My heart jumped in my chest when I heard his voice. Sensations of relief and joy filled me.)
Malaika- You’re okay!?
(He grabbed my hand without giving me an answer as he ran past me, forcing me to run with him. I quickly grabbed the bottom of my dress with my other hand and lifted the hem away from my feet. No time for tripping. Nyah looked shocked as we ran past her and Ivor. I soon heard them running behind us.)
Ivor- Who the hell do you think -!
Norio- Argue with me later! Dorieus’s men aren’t that far behind us.
Nyah- Oh GREAT! Why did you have to bring them with you!?
Norio- It couldn’t be helped! The soldiers were going to kill your friend guarding the door so I had to help her. They came charging into the room after I got down here!
(I couldn’t stop staring at Norio as he went back & forth arguing with them. All I could do was force my legs to keep up with Norio’s pace. I was so happy to see that he had made it out of the camp safely. Something was happening to us everytime we were near each other. If we survived this, I would do anything to repay his kindness…)
TO BE CONTINUED
COPYWRITE ALEXANDRIA REEVES 2018