Reverent Sacrifice

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Christine finally learns the dark secret behind the curse and her own life. She has a choice to make, but she doesn't know if she has the strength do to so. Jefferson ponders their situation and may be coming to terms with his own emotions.

Chapter 14 (v.1) - Chapter 14

Submitted: March 12, 2017

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Submitted: March 12, 2017



The next couple of days were spent back in the spells tower. Christine had gone through her own notes from her studies at home regarding Catarr. She reviewed what prayers to it she did know while Jefferson set out searching for more spells they could try to cast; he was still focusing on barriers and breaking them. They spent hours together, but not a lot was said until Christine dropped a massive book with a carved wooden cover on the table they studied on.

"I found it!" she said triumphantly,"I can't believe this is here. This book, or the other one of it, is in the temple of my homeland. I've only gotten a glimpse of the other one, but I think this is what we need. My uncle probably used the other one to cast the original spell."

Jefferson looked up, then was quickly at her side. "Is that so?" He ran his fingers over the elaborate wood carving. He couldn't make out the words around the sign that represented what he guessed was a spirit of some kind. How can we use this?"

Christine opened the book and scanned over the symbols covering the page. "This is the oldest language of my people. Only we Kartians know how to read it," she waved her hand dismissively,"I'll see what information I can gather from it."

Jefferson squinted at the page. "None of those are words.." He leaned in and looked closer, shaking his head. "That's all nonsense writing."

Christine raised an eyebrow. "Did you hear what I said? Only my people can read it. And even then, not that many can read it well. It's normally easier to learn the modern vernacular, not the ancient tongue." She began to carefully leaf through the weathered pages. "You don't have to watch me, this is going to take a while."

He walked to the small window. "It's getting late. Do you want to eat supper before you set in on trying to decipher all of that?" He turned to look back at her and saw that she was already leaning on the table, eyes scanning back and forth on the pages in front of her. "Or I'll just leave you some for later?"

She nodded once and didn't look up when he left.

As she read, Christine took mental note of what she already knew. Kartians were nearly as old as the world they lived in. They were said to be the descendants of the first sentient beings to inhabit the Enchanted Forest realm. When one of the beings, a man named Cain, broke the laws of their gods, Aslemai and Catarr, they were punished with damnation from the other beings. Their land was cut off from the main ones. Fear would follow them everywhere they went regardless of who they were, so long as they were Kartian, or in the words of the Mainlanders who despised them, Cainanite, it didn't matter to anyone. They would be completely isolated and alone in their world.

However, her people and their gods believed in balance of light and dark, of good and evil. Both were dependent on the other and both were needed. Kartonoch and its natives were dammed, yes, but they were also made more powerful to make up for it. Others feared them, and they were shunned in their early days, but as time passed, they learned to harness power that no other beings could. They grew strong and used the fear of those around them to shape their nation as they saw fit. Some were benevolent and created great things, discovered spells that saved lives, or allied with each other to create lines that welcomed humans who had nowhere else to go. Others wrought pain, death, and destruction, and as was the way of their curse as a collective, only the stories of the malevolent survived the unforgiving passage of time. Catarr was the Kartian God known by all. Only the shadow. Only the bringer of darkness was paid any mind. And even then, what the god truly signified, what it truly stood for, was ignored in favor of causing more fear.

Christine pored over the spells she found. One caught her eye and as she read it, her blood ran cold. It was a spell of creation. Creation of life. On the pages regarding it she found dates, times, and even a chart of stars all pointing her to one conclusion; she was born of the gods themselves. Her power drew from the heavens, and she would bear the privilege of divinity as she grew into her abilities. In time she would become legendary, a being of prophecy, strength, and superiority.

This was not news to her; she had known all her life that she was special. She had always know that she had a purpose that was far higher than herself or her family. It was why she was gifted with her magic, why her parents moved her all over her home country to see every region, why her entire childhood had been consumed in studies and lessons.
What sent chills down her spine was the price for her power, her ability, her very life.

All of the good she received must inevitably be countered by something. There must be an evil to every good, such is the way of the universe. The price for her life to exist was that of another be sacrificed to to Catarr. Any individual condition could be put on the sacrifice, but whomever the victim was, they must go to Catarr lest the creator of the life, and the life given be punished.

Her uncle as she thought of him, the creator of the curse, was one of the highest and oldest of the guild dedicated to Catarr. His life had spanned millennia beside that of her father and she knew that he had been alongside many in her family to create her in the first place. Her parents, her father, must have bestowed upon her great power while her uncle had chosen the sacrifice. It didn't say anywhere who the sacrifice be, only that it be made before the life coming out of it reached its full power. This date was individual and 
in her case, was the night of the seventeenth year of the curse. The day could have been anytime. It didn't have to be preceded by such extended suffering by the victim. The length of the curse, the castle, the barriers, it was all excessive on purpose. That could not have been her father's doing, none of her fathers could be so cruel; nor were her mothers so vicious.

Regardless of who was responsible, the fact remained; Jefferson was the sacrifice.

Her reading became more frantic then, and she read page after page searching for a way out. There had to be a way that she could offer someone else, bargain with the God, or use something in her power to break the curse before its completion. She found over and over again that the most powerful magic of the realm could be strong enough, but no details were given. As she read on and on she felt worse and worse, growing sick with her panic. She had promised to save him and his daughter, she had to, she could never forgive herself for destroying her friend's life in the name of power she could barely wield.

Hours passed and exhaustion began to weigh on her when her sickness vanished all at once, the curse, the sacrifice could be averted but only at a price greater than what was initially intended. If magic powerful enough managed to break the spell, the creators of the curse and being as well as the beneficiary, would pay. Two with their lives, and the other with an aspect of their self. She knew what this meant for her and her family, but a promise was a promise.

Sleep took her just as she began to ponder her next step and her eyes shut, her head resting on the open book.

Jefferson stuck a needle into his pincushion. After dinner he'd gone to his workroom and made more clothes for himself and Christine. He knew it was pointless, but it kept him busy and out of his own head, so he went on for hours. Shirts, vests, pants, and dresses began to collect on the floor around him. As the room got darker, he lit several candles and continued working. His mind wandered away when his muscle memory kicked in and his hands worked all on their own.

What would he do if he did get out? He had to make his home with Grace again and help her if she'd gone just as sideways as he had. Where was she? His hands stopped unconsciously and he felt his stomach sinking. The mirror in the West Wing could show him anything he wanted to see, but whenever he asked for Grace the image was too foggy to tell where she was. He had searched every inch of the castle for her more times than he could ever have counted by then. A nagging voice in his head reminded him that e wasn't even really sure that she was alive, but he refused to dwell on the possibility. His mind shifted gears and he found himself pondering another question: If he was going to get out and make a new home with her, what would that mean for Christine?

Whenever he was near her he still felt that strong pull urging him to get closer. Sitting by her side wasn't enough to stop the feeling, talking to her didn't stop it, casting spells with her did nothing. At night, however, when the castle was still and silent as death, he felt most at peace because she was there. Most nights she ended up wrapped around him, her presence putting him to sleep even when he wasn't tired.

In every world he had been in thus far, there was always someone that he felt a connection with. He somehow knew that they would affect his life in some significant way whether it was good for him or bad. The feeling was always there, but he had never felt this kind of intense pull to someone before. It bothered him that he couldn't stop or control it because he knew exactly what it meant. There was no way someone like her, a brilliant scholar and powerful sorceress so full of light and benevolence, could ever feel love for him. He was proud, cunning, smart, and resourceful, but his past was so dark. Deep down he knew he wasn't trustworthy, or gracious, or worthy of her goodwill.

She wanted to be his friend, but she didn't know anything about him. She felt that he was deserving of a second chance even though he had tried to steal from her people. Every time he watched her drain herself of energy studying and casting spells to save his life he felt worse about what he was putting her through. He wanted her to stop, to leave him behind and do something worthwhile. He wanted to yell and scream because it was hopeless, because no matter how hard they both tried, nothing worked. He needed to press her as close as he could and wake up every day to her lovely smile. He wanted her so badly even though he knew he could and should never have her.

His thoughts were interrupted by a crash shattering the quiet of the night. He rose to his feet. He ran to the kitchen and found the Brown Rabbit tripping over pots and pans scattered all over the floor. He sighed and pulled the laughing, shaking creature to his feet.

"What the hell are you doing up at this time?" he demanded.

The laughing didn't stop. "They were calling me, you see. They called me and they fell and now they've fallen and they won't call me anymore." He allowed himself to be dragged to the nearest sitting room and when Jefferson let go he fell to the ground in a heap of giggles. "They called you too!"

Jefferson watched the laughing rabbit for a moment before leaving and closing the door. He returned to the kitchen and cleaned up the mess of pots and pans. Was I ever that far gone..?...I don't want to know.. He spotted the cake that he'd made the day before with a glass cover on it. He cut himself a slice then cut a second one and put it on a plate. He took it to the room he and Christine shared and put it on the night table, eating his own as he went. Licking his fingers, he walked to the spells tower to check on her and found her asleep with her face resting on the open book. She was nearly falling off at that point and he ran over. He picked her up, leaning her head on his shoulder, and carried her down the steps. On his way back to their room, he looked down and felt an almost painful swelling in his chest.

She was so precious, so pure. It killed him to think that she was risking so much in his name. He wanted to tell her it wasn't worth it. That he wasn't worth it, but he knew she wouldn't listen.

He lied her down on the bed and covered her, taking a moment to brush her dark hair out of her face and stood. He left and closed the door behind him, returning to his workroom.

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