Tears of Blood - The Edit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Revised version of the original story.

Submitted: June 12, 2017

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Submitted: June 12, 2017

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The Tears of Blood

 

Eira sat poised on her loyal steed; tendrils of black hair flowing in the wind as she studied the slightly crumpled, weather damaged map.

Ever since the great Viniki war she had spent her life running. Her survival counted on her quick wit, ability to find cover and to stay concealed. After being falsely accused of murdering her entire family, Eira and her horse crept like shadows in the night, keeping away from anyone who might recognise her and never staying anywhere for too long.

No one knew the whole story. She was not acting of her own free will, but the blood had stained her own hands. Blóðgeirr was a notorious tyrant who had the ability to possess the minds of others and bend them to his will. He manipulated Eira’s mind and set her against her own brothers and sisters, forcing her to slay all four of them.

The possession also left a curse behind known as Slíta ór Blóð or ‘The Tears of Blood’. According to centuries old tales it caused waves of excruciating pain throughout its victims and tears of blood to spill from their eyes.

Eira sighed. “Just you and me, Fljótr.” He whinnied and shook his mane in response.

She yearned for the day that she could rest and finally settle in one town.

“We can take cover in Valinors Forest, due South of here and about a day’s ride. We shall leave at nightfall and let the stars will guide our way.” She muttered to her only companion. He was happily munching on some hay Eira had managed to steal from a nearby farm.

She ensured that her supplies were sufficient enough for the next few cycles of the moon before settling next to her steed to rest. She managed to sleep with little distraction for a good hour until the sun could no longer be seen over the horizon.

Eira glanced over her shoulder as she rode off, tears of blood falling from her eyes and pain in her heart as glanced at Azera’s grave one last time. Anja was her youngest sister, and they had shared a special bond like no other.

The journey was long and arduous, but Eira finally arrived in Valinors Forest. She slid off her steed and upon hearing low voices; suppressed her horses whinny and flattened her back against a cluster of trees. The female voice was oddly familiar somehow…

“What do you wish for?” Queen Kaija enquired.

“We want you to allow us to end the life of someone you hold a known grudge against, my Queen.”

“Who would that be, Lord Aegeus?”

“Eira.”

The Queen was silent for a moment as she considered what the Lord had said.

“Permission granted. However a condition, if I may.”

“Anything, my Queen.”

“I must ask that you do not kill her on sight. She must be held accountable for her crimes. However, I am also a Queen who governs my people with a fair but firm hand. Everyone has the right to a fair trial, and Eira is no exception. She is dangerous so be careful.”

“You are too fair, my Queen.”

Horses whinnied and galloped away; their hooves against the packed earth echoed, gradually tapering off as they gained distance. The townsfolk stayed behind talking in hushed tones.

“So where do we search, my Lord?”

“To the Queen Ailani’s cemetery. Make haste!” Lord Aegeus bellowed.

“Yes my Lord,” they said in unison. They mounted their horses and galloped away as Eira remained carefully concealed in the great, ancient oak trees. Lord Aegeus shouted more directions to the rest of his riding party before parting from Valinors Forest himself, leaving Eira to ponder over what she had just heard. Taking out a small crust of bread, she broke it in half and handed some to her horse as she hungrily stuffed the rest in her empty gullet. After they had their fill she climbed atop her steed and headed in the direction of Mors’ Land.  Valinors Forest appeared to be crawling with people out for her blood.

Eira arrived in Mors’ Land after a full moons turn. She was tired from the journey and after examining a nearby old, oak tree, decided that it looked easy enough to climb. Deciding to settle somewhere high up in the branches for a few hours’ kip, she started the ascent and got about a quarter of the way up; one careless mistake resulted in a branch snapping under her bodyweight. She plummeted to the ground, hitting several branches on the way down. She blacked out.

She awoke to the calamitous sound of voices and multiple horses whinnying around her as she struggled to regain her vision. Blurry faces gazed down upon her. She panicked and tried to get up, but something pulled her back down hard against the dirt. She frantically rubbed her weary eyes, desperate to get a glimpse of her surroundings. It was then that she remembered the fall and suddenly realized that she was in irons; shackled at the ankles and wrists like some common peasant thief. The pain was excruciating and she could see little pools of blood welling up around the cuffs. Her head throbbed in sympathy with her throbbing hands.

“Don’t try to escape, Eira. Resistance is futile, as you can see by the damage you have already done to your extremities. Those shackles are crafted from the finest iron and steel in all the land…and by the finest blacksmiths too.” Illijah stated, with a look of utter contempt on his dirty, rugged face; deep scars decorated his cheeks and forehead like a battle-hardened road map.

Illijah picked up the chain between the wrist shackles and dragged Eira towards the small iron cage that awaited her. Her resistance was in fact very futile. She cried out in agony and frustration at the pain in her wrists. He tossed her inside the enclosure; she went limp against the cold, hard metal. Blood started forming at the edges of her eyes as the searing pain of her curse took over. Illijah hopped on his steed and started off, Eira’s horse trailing beside his own.

Eira glanced around the damp, cold gaol as Azeri and Vesta half-pulled, half-pushed her towards the awaiting stone cell. It had the stench of age-old rotten flesh and sinew, smeared blood painted the walls in a morbidly abstract pattern. It looked like a cloth and wash bucket hadn’t seen the inside of the place since it was built centuries ago.

“Here you are. Your cell. I do hope you find it accommodating Eira.” Vesta said, her voice dripping with derision; her accent applying even more emphasis on the sarcastic undertones. “Oh and look, you have a friend. Drisana is this little wrenches name. We will leave you to it so you ladies can get better…acquainted.” They shackled her to the irons embedded in the brick wall and once she was well and truly restrained they turned on their heels and stormed out; snickering as they disappeared into the darkness.

Drisana watched without saying a word. After a while her voice suddenly cut through the silence.

“So, you’re Eira are ye?” She asked, inquisitively.

“Yes, and if you are planning to ask why I am in here…I would much rather you didn’t.”

“Of course. No offense intended. I don’t mean te pry, but I am rather fond of talking and ye seem like an interesting lass. My fondness of talking is one of the reasons I am here in this mess, actually.” She chuckled. “Just can’t seem te keep me mouth shut. So ask awey if ye want te knoh my story.”

“Sure. I’ll bite.” Eira said.

Drisana spoke of her past with great eagerness but the sadness in her eyes was obvious. This woman had endured so much and to be locked up for something so silly, was heart-breaking.

“That’s horrible!” said Eira.

“Aye,” said Drisana, “but my protest to the townsfolk was all fe nought. Deaf ears as it were. Maybe they were painted on. They did no’ want to hear it.”

Eira was not intending to offer up her life story but those words resonated with her and she couldn’t help but indulge in the conversation.

“I understand where you are coming from. I am wrongfully imprisoned. I stand accused of killing my own siblings. Can you believe that?! My own brothers and sisters! I would never…could never…” she said, shaking her head as blood started to form in the outer edges of her eyes. Drisana gasped and reeled back in horror.

“Slíta ór Blóð. In all my years….” Drisana trailed off. “So the stories are true. BlóðGeirr, he - he did this to ye, didn’t he?”

Eira nodded; blood now evidently flowing down her cheeks and dripping from the underside of her chin. She tried to stay the crying but could not. Eira gently wept as Drisana sat in silence again, gears metaphorically grinding inside her head as she struggled for words to come to the forefront.

“I had only ever heard of it…I never have actually seen anyone with this curse. I thought it was just the stories told te young’uns’ te scare them straight.”

Drisana suddenly sat upright, the metal shackles clanking against each other as she did so. “Oh Eira! This could work in ye favour! There is buzz around the kingdom that they have caught BlóðGeirr and he is in one of the cells below us. Maybe ye could ask the Queen for a fight to the death between you and BlóðGeirr. Winner goes free?”

She wiped the last bloody tear out of the corner of her eye and smeared it on the dirty wall nearby. “I have nothing left to lose. The whole kingdom believes I am guilty, but they do not know of my plight. The curse that plagued me and the horrible things I was forced to do against my own will...not a day goes by where it doesn’t haunt me, what I did to my family – what that monster made me do.”

“You must try. You can no’ let them hang you for a crime you did no’ commit.”

“Guard!! Guard!!” Eira yelled.

“Silence wench!” said an approaching guard. “Stay your nasty tongue!”

“I wish to speak to Queen Kaija. I have information which she may find interesting.”

“I care not for your plight, wench.” The guard spat. “However, I will have words with the Queen. I do not guarantee that the outcome will be in your favour but if you wind up with your head on a pike, or hanging from a thick rope a little swifter, mores the better.”

Eira watched the guard disappear, eager to have an audience with Queen Kaija even though the guard’s words tasted a little bitter on her dry tongue. Drisana looked at her and said, “Here is your chance me girl. I do hope the outcome is in ye favour, even if I am the only one that seems to think so.”

“I will beg for your freedom, Drisana. That is if I can prove that I deserve my own.”

A few moments later footsteps rang throughout the tunnel. A guard appeared and pulling a ring full of keys from his pocket he unlocked the large iron door to their cell. He swung it open noisily.

“Your audience has been granted by Queen Kaija. Consider yourself lucky. If it were up to me, you would be limply swinging from the tallest Oak tree by now. Mark my words.”

The guard unfastened Eira’s wall irons and after dragging Eira to her feet, he hastily pulled her in the direction of the Queen’s court.

“I am not guilty of those crimes, you know.”

“Save your lies for the Queen’s ears fool. You will get no pity from me.”

He opened the large double doors and pushed her inside before slamming them behind her. The only thing bruised was her dignity; her knees remained remarkably untouched as she landed at a weird angle on the marble floor. She pulled herself to her feet and as graciously a stride as she could muster, walked towards the Throne where Queen Kaija sat waiting; her gaze steadily aimed at Eira, her expression utterly blank.

Before Eira had a chance to speak the Queen said, “You know of the charges you stand here accused of, Eira?”

“I do, your majesty,” Eira responded. “But I am here to declare my innocence and have all charges acquitted.”

Uproar went through the throne room. “SILENCE!!” Queen Kaija stood, commanding her people with a wave of her arms. She looked about ten foot tall and just as elegant as she was elevated in that moment. Elegant, but incredibly fierce. “Let her speak.” The Queen resumed her seat and sat with her hands clasped neatly in her lap.

“My Queen…I know what you must all think of me. Believe me, I feel guilt every day for what I did – but the actions were not my own. From the day I held my younger brothers and sisters, since they were pink, squalling babes, I have loved them. I have loved them as they were my own children. When our mother died whilst bringing my youngest sister, Anja, into the world, I became their mother in more or less every sense of the word. I nurtured them, watched them grow, taught them life lessons and tended to their every need. We shared a bond like no other…”

The townsfolk were standing and mumbling to one another. It was clear they did not believe her words, but she pressed on regardless. Eira took in a breath and proceeded.

“I would never hurt my siblings, your Majesty. They are my kin, my blood, and my heart. They are bound to my very soul and nothing in life - not even death can change that. Yes, my hands were stained by their blood, by my own hands my brothers and sisters took their last breath, but it was not of my own doing. I was not in my right mind. BlóðGeirr…”

“Rubbish!” called out a portly townsman as he gave a wave of his hand. “With all due respect your majesty, do you even believe this tripe?! Surely…”

“Silence, Lord Bacchus.”

Queen Kaija looked towards Eira and glanced down at her hands, she smoothed out her royal skirts and she glanced back up, her eyes directly meeting Eiras. Eira felt the sudden compulsion to cry and subsequently caved into the feeling. Tears welled up in her eyes and ran bright red down the contours of her cheeks. Her body succumbed to racking, violent convulsions and she collapsed into a heap as her bloody tears dripped onto the marble and coagulated into little plasma pools. The pain inside her flared up and she convulsed so hard it ripped her body upright with such force that she almost bent backwards on herself. Shocked expressions appeared throughout the courtroom. A collective gasp sounded throughout the room.

“It’s real!” someone said.

“The curse!” said another.

“Slíta ór Blóð…”

The room fell silent as the Queen moved gracefully toward Eira.

“So it’s true.” said the Queen.

Eira sat quietly; too sad for words. She couldn’t offer anything other than a nod. She slowly looked up at Queen Kaija and saw the sadness written in her eyes and misfortune etched upon her lips.

“Guards!” she suddenly yelled, shocking the entire courtroom with the loudness of her voice.

Two guards came rushing forward and stopped right in front of her.

“Yes, my Queen,” they said in unison.

“Bring me BlóðGeirr at once! Keep him in irons. If he does not come without a struggle, see to it that he appears in front of me, no matter how many pieces he is in when he gets here. Make haste!”

“Yes my Queen,” they responded. Turning on their heels they ran towards the gaol, weapons in hand.

The queen grabbed Eira’s hand gently and said, “Come my dear, sit by me a moment will you?”

She staggered to her feet and allowed the Queen to lead her back to the throne. She took the seat immediately to the Queen’s left and sat in silence, trying to erase the blood stains on her face with the cuff of her sleeve.

“Enree…Do be a dear and fetch our guest a warm wash bowl and a cloth please.”

A greying, portly man quickly turned and hurried out of the room. A moment or two later he returned armed with the bowl and cloth and stood next to Eira while she washed her face free of the blood.

“Better. Much better,” said Queen Kaija. She paused, and then added, “I am truly sorry, that life has been rough for you these past years, Eira. It was presumptuous of me and the townsfolk to consider you guilty before affording you a fair trial, and for that I am truly sorry. I am certain I speak on behalf of the entire Kingdom when I say that.”

Everyone in the chamber nodded silently; their faces awash with sadness and guilt. Suddenly the chamber doors burst open and in came the two guards; behind them were four extra guards dragging and pulling BlóðGeirr into the Throne room. After much struggle and many wounds later - for both the guards and BlóðGeirr - he was brought in front of the Queen; restrained by a circle of guards, their spears perforating his flesh.

“BlóðGeirr, you stand here accused of genocide, as well as placing a curse on Eira and forcing her to kill her own siblings against her will. For this you shall be put to death. Have you any last words?”

BlóðGeirr spat a gob of blood onto the chamber floor, a deep guttural laugh emanated from his throat.

“It was merely a stepping stone. My thirst for blood knows no bounds. I know not how many I have killed, and I have killed many more than even you know about. Your rules do not govern me, and I have no tolerance for you, your laws or your people.”

“Excellent,” said the Queen, remarkably calm. “Then on that note, it is done. Eira, kill him.”

Eira looked at Queen Kaija and a smile spread across her lips as she comprehended the Queen’s words. She grabbed a spear from the guard on her right and ran full speed towards BlóðGeirr. Blood welled in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. Happy tears? Perhaps. She thought of Jaeger, Ichiro, Vyrie and Anja as she launched at BlóðGeirr like an angry projectile.

Using her momentum she leapt several feet off the ground and angled her spear downwards, plunging it deep into his rib cage. A loud CRACK echoed throughout the Court. She skewered him in one fluid movement with such force that the spearhead exited his body through his tailbone. She grinned at him as he took his last breath and relished the anguished look on his face as the light faded in his eyes. A strange, ominous red glow appeared in his pupils for a split second and fizzled out as they rolled back in his head. She rode his lifeless body as it crashed to the floor.

Cheers erupted from the crowd as she took her borrowed spear out of his still-warm carcass and thrust it up toward the ceiling. Eira turned towards the Queen and smiled again. The tears still remained but they were no longer bloody. The pain was gone; the curse was over. The debt had finally been paid.

The Queen returned to Eira’s side. Eira stood tall; covered in her own dried blood, and the fresh blood of her fallen foe. Justice had been served, and even though it would not bring back her brothers and sisters, it brought about a sense of closure and relief. As though Queen Kaija had just read Eira’s mind, she suddenly spoke.

“Eira, I regret that the death of BlóðGeirr cannot somehow bring back your siblings, and I know that what you have endured could never be forgotten or forgiven. My only hope is that you truly do accept my apologies and please, if there is anything I can do for you do not hesitate to ask it of me.”

“As a matter of fact there is your majesty.”

Two moons had occupied the night sky before she left the city. Eira had her loyal steed, a new set of hardened leathers and sharp weapons. The queen had also presented her with bulging knapsacks and saddlebags of foodstuffs, enough to last her several more moons. She inhaled and exhaled deeply, relieved that she could find a home and finally live out the remainder of her life in peace. No more running. No more hiding.

“So…where do you think we should go?”

“Somewhere by the sea if you please, Eira.” Drisana said.

They rode off into the evening; a blanket of tiny stars above them, a future full of possibilities in front of them and the past but a vague memory.

 

 


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