Chapter 27: The Inevitable
Finally coming back to his sense, he managed to scuttle out of the flaming Hold, jumping from the shattered window the Immortal had made. He couldn't believe what he hand witnessed. Nothing but utter shock. She was taken from him, just like that. She was there for one moment then gone the next. He had nothing but ashes of his home and shards for his heart. Oh woebegone, how was it this one presumable Immortal, Mikhail, infiltrate his beloved Hold and set it ablaze? Why did he kill the damn Immortal when he had the chance? And now, he would pay dearly for his mistakes.
But Aeolyn, dear girl, was she all right? Raelin could only suppose, hoping the Immortal would use his divine magic to revive his beloved. Was it truly all for the better? He could only hope for the happiness of his soothsayer. But still, it just wasn't… fair.
Raelin fell away from the Hold, coughing and wheezing from the smoke as he landed, falling to his knees. From the corner of his eyes, he could see hundreds of slaves fleeing the Hold. Had he possessed an excess of energy, he might have sought to release his anger upon them, but he couldn't. He was weary from the ordeal. But it had yet to be fully accomplished.
The prophecy. It was coming closer and closer now. Raelin shook his head mournfully, whether it was in dejection or to clear his thoughts. He looked up, seeing the coming of morning: a hazy blue in the sky, the moon still alit, and the stars beginning to fade like life. He had to find her promptly. He knew what would be happening soon, only hours away. The foreseeing of Aeolyn's sight, it had occurred near dawn. A desolate place, high up. Like a plateau. But which plateau?
Getting to his feet again, Raelin stretched out his wings and propelled himself into the sky. He did not know where to start. Should he search the lands for her thoughts? no, it would take much too long. Time was something he did not have this instant. But it was worth a hasty shoot. Hovering in the sky, he closed his eyes and opened up his mind, allowing thoughts to flee into oblivion. And there, he found something that startled him. His father's sinister thoughts. Thoughts of death and destruction. He would not allow his death to be brought about by a petty girl.
Flickering his eyes back open, Raelin scowled. She was not petty. She was greater than he would ever be. He shot up higher in to the sky, well above the tree tops and sped into the direction of his father. Surely the Demon knew where Aeolyn was for the resolution in him was too strong to be merely searching. The predator had found his prey. And if it was up to him, he would do everything to prevent this.
Flying south, towards the city of Silveran, then beyond the city full of sin. Then before him, was the scene he could only dread.
Aeolyn could only watch in horror as Hiero landed, his armory fit to be a king's. Chain mail threaded with jewels of rubies and emeralds. It made her sick when he sent his Demons to seize the two Immortals before they had any chance to react. Cruelly her mind was replaying the images repeatedly. Mikhail dead, on the floor, dagger in his heart. Hiero, laughing cruelly yet his voice like oil. Slick and smooth. Aeolyn shook her head to rid her self of the thoughts. Fate was something she alone would change. She could not drag anyone in this whirlwind with her.
Though she kept her eyes upon the Demon, massive in size, she still saw the Demons restraining Mikhail. There were seven of them. Seven Demons holding back one Immortal. In the dream, there had only been three Immortals upon her love. Now there was more than double the numbers. And Obadiah? He was restrained by four Demons. He struggled as hard as Mikhail to no avail. But something was wrong, very wrong. Where was Raelin? He was suppose to be here, by her side. But Hiero must have known this would happen. Would the Demon Ruler take such precautions as to lock away his own son? It was not surly beyond him to do so. But Raelin, did he play a role in this world of a play?
"And so it comes to this," she murmured coldly. How she wished for a knife right now to stab into Hiero's black heart.
Hiero took a step forward, grinning wickedly. He strutted towards her with an air of superciliousness. "Indeed, dear soothsayer. Did you not show me yourself of this very event? Girl, I hope you were not relying on your Immortal to save your life. I do believe it will be quite impossible to overpower seven Demons, be he Immortal."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Mikhail confused, still crying out to be freed. He cried out her name. But now he paused, weary, listening to the Demon's words.
"Aeolyn, what is he talking about?" he asked, his voice suddenly forlorn. He was only ignored for his own sake.
"Ah, so you have not told him. You did not tell him of his own death. I pity you, soothsayer."
Mikhail struggled to free himself to no avail. "What death? Aeolyn, what's going on?" He turned to the Demons, thrashing again. "Let me go!"
Ignoring Mikhail, Aeolyn shook her head vehemently. "You… pity me? For what? I am not the one about to die by the hands chosen by the gods themselves."
Hiero laughed villainously. "Do you truly believe me that daft? No, wench, I have taken my precautions. No dagger can pierce this mail of blue-sliver. And you, will soon know the true wrath of my fury."
Aeolyn shook her head. "Demon Ruler you may be, but you are no more than a dead dog's thrall, slaving yourself for the ambitions of an imprudent Demon. Nothing more, Hiero, nothing more. So you claim to be great, so you claim to be strong, but what is strong when you are nothing? You hid behind your crown, your title. A rat in the guise of lion."
Hiero exclaimed in fury. "You dare to challenge me! Girl, I will ensure your death is as slow and painful as it can be."
"You touch her, and you will pay horribly for it," a voice cried out from over head.
Aeolyn looked up, as did Hiero, to watch the heir to the Demons descend. She nearly cried out in elation. He wasn't dead.
Raelin landed next to Aeolyn, his stance protective. He glared at his father as he placed him defensively in front of Aeolyn, as if she couldn't protect herself. She could feel his thoughts coming to her and her good feelings dropped. He meant to save her from all of this while fulfilling the wishes of his father. Aeolyn closed her eyes for a moment. He would forever be a Demon to the very end.
"Ahh, son, so you finally cared to show. And don't worry your delicate heart, son, and learn what it means to be a Demon for a change." Hiero looked to Aeolyn now. "And as for you, dear soothsayer, first I'll start with your beloved leader." He turned to stride over to Obadiah, who watched with great fear and terror. He shook his head in silent protest.
Her heart stopped. No! Her face twisting in horror, she tried to run towards the Immortals but Raelin held her back. He shook his head apologetically and took hold of her arm to keep her at bay. Pulling her arm fruitlessly from his grasps, she looked up and glared at her Demon. His held no hope for her, causing Aeolyn turn from him. How could you?
I'm sorry, Aeolyn, he whispered softly and tenderly into her thoughts.
I don't need your apologies, Demon. You just don't understand, she could hear bitterness in her own thoughts.
Her eyes turned to Hiero now, along with her attention. The Demon loomed over the beaten Immortal.
"Oh yes, Obadiah," Hiero hissed virulently, throwing back his cloak to draw from his belt a dagger. He placed it to the Angalo's neck. She heard Mikhail cry out in horror. She heard him cry out for her to stop the Demon. At first, she tried to turn to help Obadiah but felt the Raelin's grip on her arm. Aeolyn bit her lower lip and looked away. Tears spilled. Nothing would make Raelin release her. He was a true Demon at heart. And he must have known with the death of the Immortals, she would forever be his. In the end, he and his kind win. She closed her eyes against the coming tears. I'm sorry Obadiah…I'm sorry Mikhail. I let you both down. I betrayed you.
"The craven Immortal," Hiero continued, "Look how he squirms to be freed. Did you know that your beloved friend Lilia cried out that she would become a Demon if I spared her life? That she was willing to bear me heirs if I spared her life…"
Obadiah shook his head fervently, yet careful not to touch his neck to the blade. "No! You lie! You are fucking lying!"
Hiero shook his head, touching the blade closer to the Immortal's neck, drawing a single drop of blood. He wagged his finger in the Immortal's face as if to say, No, no. "Ah, ah. Shouldn't we be watching our language, dear Immortal? The gods and goddesses wouldn't like their little Angalo to be corrupt in language. Oh wait, that's right, there are no gods. There are no goddesses. You can curse all you want because there are no higher beings. You and your kin, even the soothsayer, have blinded this world long enough with your trivial lies and whatnots. The time of the Immortals have come to an end. The last page of the book is finally turned."
Aeolyn opened her eyes again. No, she couldn't sit through this anymore. She could kill him now, couldn't she? Her aura, the power to take life was eminent now. Did she dare to try it? She felt her body quake in fear. If she didn't succeed, it meant the death of Mikhail.
Don't, Aeolyn, she heard Raelin whisper in her mind. For every action is a consequence. Yours would be something even I could not save you from. Don't do it.
Aeolyn ignore him, throwing up a shield around her thoughts.
"Hiero, what could you possibly achieve by killing him?" she cried, gathering her aura. The great strain Hiero had put her through left her with little magic.
The Demon Ruler turned, a vicious smile playing on his lips. "I close the book."
He drew the blade across the Immortal's neck. In a hoarse and dying cry, Obadiah fell to the floor, free of the Demons' clutches now. In a pool of his own blood, Obadiah's life fled. Aeolyn screamed in horror, her fingertips over her lips. The aura she was gathering fell back down to the well of magic. Falling against Raelin, she felt tears trickle. In the background, she could hear Mikhail fighting against his captors, his strength diminishing rapidly from the grief and horror. She knew he was next.
Realizing she was in Raelin's arms, she pulled away and back away from him. He made no move to stop her, his eyes filling with sorrow.
Hiero turned from Obadiah to Aeolyn. "End of story. Oh wait; we still have one more Immortal left in this world. Thought I forgot about your lover, didn't you?"
Aeolyn narrowed her eyes. "Don't you dare touch him," she hissed. "I'll make you regret every life you have taken. I will make sure your life is forsaken."
Hiero laughed. "You are right. I don't want to repent like an Immortal for my sins. Besides, you have suffered enough. It is the Immortal's turn to suffer. To see death take the only love of his life away again!"
She could only watch, frozen in dread as the Demon began to glow supernaturally and rush towards her, a sword drawn from the hilt now poise to strike her. This time, there would be no Mikhail to save her. She would stare death in the eye until the very end.
Shouting in fear and horror, Mikhail couldn't believe his eyes, as he lay in the hands of the Demons, struggling. The Demon Ruler drew his sword and rushed towards Aeolyn, ready to strike her dead. No, he couldn't let this happen. He felt a rush of adrenaline run through his veins. And the Demons who held him, they had released their strong grips on his arms and now merely held him like a child. They believed him weak. Well, he would prove them wrong. He had to act fast. He gathered what aura he had and sent it out of his body like a giant wave of magic. It threw every Demon off his body, stunning them. Then he ran towards Aeolyn, meaning to shove her away from the blade. He meant to save her, even if it took his own life away. What he would never know was that he would give his life for hers.
His own father rushed towards the soothsayer, blade poised and glowing with fatal magic. A touch of death no matter where the blade touched the body. Raelin blinked away tears. He knew that there would be no Mikhail to save his love. No, his father ensured this. But Raelin looked to the Immortal and saw Mikhail free himself of the Demons' hold. Raelin knew what would happen now. The Demon Ruler's blade would pierce Mikhail's heart rather than Aeolyn's innocent beating life. But the soothsayer, she would never forgive herself or Raelin for Mikhail's death. Raelin knew love when he saw it. Pure and true love was what Aeolyn and Mikhail possessed. And if the Immortal died, Aeolyn would die with him. But it was love was what Raelin felt for Aeolyn. A love to see her genuine smile again. To see her happy. A hope that she could live the rest of her life in joy, even it if wasn't with him. Love was what compelled him to move.
Aeolyn braced her self and closed her eyes. There was nothing to do but wait for death to take her. There was no time for her to move, to gather her aura and try to stop the coming Demon. No, it would be over it a matter of milliseconds. No mortal could move quick enough to avoid the Demon.
Her life flashed memories now. Memories she never knew existed. Of a woman and man. Her adoptive mother and father. And a girl her own age. Jasmine, a friend. A place where she once lived. But suddenly, she was consumed with memories of her first days in Terithiea. Of Mikhail's polite and quiet ways as he showed her to the library and the places around Eldyn. Of her first kiss, so sweet and passionate with the Immortal. How she loved him so. And Raelin, how could see forget him? It was he who helped her survive through the harsh life in the Demon Hold. A true friend to the end. Goodbye, Raelin. I'm sorry things never truly worked between us. Goodbye Mikhail. I'll love you still, even after death.
She opened her eyes to take in life before she left this world. But before she could open her eyes fully, she felt a body run into her own, throwing her to the ground. No! she wanted to cry out, but the wind was taken from her. No, wasn't how it was suppose to be! And then she heard a cry of death and a body fall to the floor. She tried to back to her sense, but her body would not respond. She tried to cry out Mikhail's name, certain it was he who gave his life for hers.
But then, a soft voice filled her mind. A voice all too familiar. Goodbye, Aeolyn. I love you. And I'm sorry too that things never truly worked between us. But my heart will always be with you and nothing could ever take my love for you away from me…
Aeolyn cried out. No, don't!
She felt hands pick her up gently to her feet and a melodic voice murmur her name, asking if she was well. But she could not concentrate on the voice. Once her eyes cleared from the tears, she saw on the floor, with a blade protruding from his chest, a Demon. Losing control, she pulled her body from the hands that supported her and fell to the dying Demon's side. Tears spilled down her cheeks, blurring her vision, as she took his cold hands in her own.
"Raelin, don't die, please don't die!" she whispered fiercely.
He looked up into her green eyes, his love for her shinning like stars. "I'm s-sorry… Love you," he whispered, blood trickling from the edge of his lip. He moved his hand towards her face, as if to brush away the tears from her face but his hand fell and his chest ceased to rise. Death made its claim.
It was hard to breath, a constricting cord around her chest. A sob caught in her throat. She closed the Demon's eyes and bowed her head. "Love you too," she whispered, dropping his hand.
Then she turned, facing the murderer. Hiero stood, blood splattered. He stared at his son in bemusement, but looked up when he felt her stony glare. He cried out in madness and drew out the bloodstained dagger from his hilt. The death of his own son drove him to become a deranged maniac. Mikhail exclaimed and moved to place his body protectively in front of hers. But she would not stand for it. She stepped away, feeling a strange sensation gathering within. Something live love and resentment mingled into one. Above, the skies darkened.
Hiero rushed forward to attack Aeolyn, but he suddenly froze, his body glowing with a pearly glimmer. It was her aura that surround him. But it was not death she wished on this Demon. No she wanted only for this story to end. This feud to end. For the end of the Reign of Terror that the Demons enforced and the reign of mortal man to begin. An era in time where mortals ruled their own lives but were still faithful to the gods and goddesses.
And now the aura had swelled to a point where the aura flooded from her body, in a radiant light. But this was not her aura. It was stronger, brighter than any aura. In beams, it surrounded the land. It drained her life to fill those empty shells of dove-winged beings with life again. And when it touched those with wings like a bad, it brought death. She could scarcely see Hiero fall to the floor, dead.
But that was when she felt it. A giddiness that threatened to overcome her. Panicking, she looked for Mikhail, who had backed away from her glowing body. His eyes were full of apprehension and fear for her. He did not dare to touch her body. But before she could scream in terror, the light engulfed her and blinded the world. Then it cleared as quickly as it appeared. Aeolyn rubbed her eyes, as if to clear the spots of light that lingered in her vision. When she opened her eyes, she gasped.
All around her was nothing but a sort of dull light. It was like floating in oblivion. In front of her, stood a man and woman, each glowing in magic. The fair-haired man was dressed in golden armory almost like that of a knight and skin that would be of an amber hue forever. His almond eyes watched her warily as he crossed his arms over his broad chest. The woman watched Aeolyn gracefully with eyes like ice and hair as white as purity. Aeolyn gasped when she recognized that it was the same woman from her dreams. Her mind registered the woman as the goddess of time and fate, and represented as water. Runa. And the man, the god of life, truth, and light, represented as fire. King of the divine. Mithran.
Aeolyn stared, speechless. What was one to say to a god? She swallowed hard.
But the goddess smiled. "Daughter, you have served well. You have brought us with your magic to Terithiea. The sacrifices you have made to come this far will not go unheeded. These are the sacrifices that were needed to strengthen your aura to this point in time."
Aeolyn shook her head, not fully comprehending. "But what will happen now? I don't understand. I mean, I know why I have been brought here, but what is to happen?"
The god answered her this time. "As you wished. For the reign of man to commence. With the annihilation of the Demons, life will continue as it had, a thousand years ago. Before the birth of your ancestor Adelaide."
Aeolyn bit her lower lip. "But what will happen to Mikhail and the other Immortals?"
Runa smiled slightly. "He will reside with us, in the Divine Realms, with the rest of the Immortals. They will become angels."
"And the Demons?"
"They will be nothing more than spirits to dwell forever in Terithiea in the underworlds where they will suffer eternally," Mithran answered.
Aeolyn closed her eyes, her head slightly bowed. "And me?" She looked up again, her eyes tearing.
The goddess wore a remorseful mask. "You are to return to back to you time. Seven hundred and fifty-three years from this point in time."
Aeolyn nodded. It was as she suspected. Months ago, she would have rejoiced with those words. Now she couldn't bear them. Was she to be forever cursed? Aeolyn felt a tear trickle down her cheeks. She didn't want to leave Terithiea. She didn't want to leave Mikhail. She lost him once, she couldn't lose him again. Without him, she would never be complete. But she had to understand that it would be impossible. Could she live her life incomplete?
Aeolyn closed her eyes and felt light head again, knowing it was the work of the god and goddess.
But when she opened her eyes again, she saw Mikhail's worried face hovering above her. His tension eased ever so slightly as he saw her green eyes flicker open. She realized that she was lying on the ground, her head pillowed in his lap. In the distance, there was a quiet and rhythmic gushing of water into a crystal bowl. Water? Aeolyn frowned inwardly but soon forgot about the sounds when she looked into Mikhail's eyes. He smiled down at her, kissed her lips softly, and hugged her close.
"I thought I lost you, Aeolyn," he whispered, a quiet humming of a voice. His hands brush her hair from her face gently, as if he was afraid any touch would shatter her.
Snuggling close, Aeolyn smiled as broadly as she could, looking up into his bright hazel eyes. Like a dreamer's eyes they were. "It will take more than a fated death and gods to keep me from you…" She checked and sat up from his circle of arms, looking to the spot where the body of Raelin had fallen. There was no trace of his body, nor any other body, living or dead. Or of the surroundings they had been in before. Where was the plateau they were once on? And where had this cave come from? A cave with walls that glistened with minerals and dew like jewels. Aeolyn shook her head, wondering why the water was running down in the mouth of the cave. It seemed all too familiar to her, like a déjà vu. And this very scene, this very place, where had she seen it before? It was from a memory far in the past. A memory from the beginning.
Her eyes widened. Waterfall of memories. River in the Sky. River Time. Runa River, which was better, known as the River Run. But did she dare to tell him that they were in the very lands of the gods, the heart of the River Run? That this was too be the last of their moments together?
Feeling forlorn and crestfallen, she looked at Mikhail, her eyes moist. "What happened to them?" There was no need to identify verbally them.
Mikhail shook his head. "Gone. To the high divine realms or to hell, I don't know. A light flashed and suddenly, they're gone. I found myself here and you… you were fallen to the ground, pallid. I thought you were dead and I was alone in this world, the only one left of my kind. And even Asher… Lila… gone."
Aeolyn shook her head. "No, they're well. But not here, in the divine realms with the gods and goddesses."
Mikhail leaned back against the wall, obviously feeling beaten, his eyes closed. His breathing was unsteady as he frowned deeply. "Am I destined to forever be cursed? To lose everyone I have ever loved? What did I do to deserve this?" He looked at Aeolyn, smiling desolately. "But you'll be with me, won't you?"
Only silence answered. She couldn't answer him. To tell Mikhail that she would be there for him would be a lie. But she couldn't break his heart. This was the inevitable, as much as she hated to admit it to herself. Suddenly, Mikhail stood up and left the cave, taking a narrow path to the right. But the look on his contorted face, it shattered her. Did he know from the dejected look in her mournful eyes?
She stood up and followed, her legs weak and her head spinning. It took several seconds for her to steady her vision and leave the cave by the small pathway on the right. The sky was dawning, a faint blood red with a mixing of light and pale blue. In between was a deep shade of purple. Around the lake was a clearing, blades of grass like tiny needles of green. And around the clearing was a forest shadowed in mist, sending eerie chills down her spin. Beside the lake's edge stood Mikhail, his eyes cast into the water. Aeolyn bit her lower lip and stood beside him, her hand on his arm.
"Mikhail," she whispered in the faintest voice, a breeze in the summer sky.
Mikhail shook his head and suddenly gathered her in his arms, holding her close. "I can't lose you, Aeolyn. I don't want to let you go. You're my other half. The beat of my heart. The rhythm in my song. The wind of my wings. I shall fall forever, broken and torn without you…"
Aeolyn felt tears spill quietly. "I don't want to go. I want us to be together, forever. Yet – yet we cannot lie to ourselves either, tantalize what can never be. But you'll always be with me. You will be in my every waking thought. The vision in my dreams. The reflection I see in every mirror and water. With every voice spoken around me, it is your voice I will hear, your voice that will lull me to sleep. It is you who I will forever see, around the corner, yet so far from my reach. It is you and only you that I am meant to be with."
He couldn't except it fully, unable to read the pages of the book of life. His protesting became quiet inveighing "No. There must be a way. There has to be, just has to be. You can't just go poof and go back into your own world! What if I don't let you? What if I hold you back? What if…"
Aeolyn sighed against his chest. "The gods won't have it, dear one. They know I have served my purpose. My life is in my time years from now. This is but an epoch in my life that I will never forget. I wish so much that I could change fate again. I want you more than you can imagine, but I know that we will see each other again. I know it. Remember, I have clairvoyant instincts," she said with a dismal smile.
"But don't you want to stay in Terithiea, in this era?"
Aeolyn gave a watery laugh. "I do, truly. But there are too many memories," she whispered, looking down into the water. An image of a mischievous grin on a face full of life flickered. His eyes alight with the fire of a Demon, his smoky brown hair curling in such a way that framed his face perfectly. Aeolyn looked away. "Too many memories of both good and bad. I wasn't meant to be here."
"But where were you meant to be if not with me?" he asked with the innocence she fell in love with the day she met him.
Turning to face him fully, she smiled up at him. "I was meant to be the one to rescue you and your kind, to meet you in another life time. I love you. Don't forget me," she whispered, throwing her arms around his neck.
He tilted his head, grinning mischievously in a sorrowful way. Did he understand now? "Love, I would never forget you. I would wait a thousand years and beyond just to see you once more."
He smiled broadly and truly and she leaned up to kiss him full on the lips. A fresh wave of passion swept over her, leaving her giddy and high. All around them, she could feel a light engulf her, almost taking her away from him. In one last embrace, she knew fate had taken its last victim. But life goes on, doesn't it?