Baiyne (Chapter 6)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Safra was abandoned as a baby, but something about the reasons have never really rung true with her, and when she is adopted, she finally begins to unravel the mystery of her mother, a mystery that will take her to places she had only ever imagined. (I am doing this book's chapters as short stories as I have not finished it yet, but look out for the other chapters)

Submitted: June 26, 2017

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Submitted: June 26, 2017

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Chapter 6 - 'Hell Hath no Fury'/'Doubt Thou the Stars are Fire'

 

 As if by fate, the very next day, Lord Reddel called once more and proposed to Emilia Bencamore. She accepted, and it was agreed that they would be married within the month. The hubbub that came in that period nearly made Safra completely forget about her close encounter with the hellish apparition in the forest. Between lessons with her tutors and being whisked here, there and everywhere to dress shops and cake shops and being asked advice on things she had no idea about, there was barely a moment alone to talk with Aetha, let alone go to the training ground!

  Despite all the preparation, the wedding was a small, quick affair with only a few family members from either side. There was a two week honey moon that followed, which was bliss for both the new couple, and their children, providing a much needed break from frantic planning. They were left alone in the mansion with most of the servants, and a lively house keeper that liked to keep things ship-shape.

  Reddel had also been careful to arrange a decent amount of tuition for the girls during their ‘break’, and for apparently, the time afterwards as well. Far different from Safra’s relaxed separate tutors for each subject (a novel idea that her mother had taken to), they were now placed under the strict glare of a governess who never felt it necessary to share her name nor let them have breaks from their studies longer than ten minutes other than for meals, Sundays and preparation for bed.

  During those two weeks, Safra tried to be as agreeable with Harriet’s sour sisters as possible, but from Elizabeth, she was always repaid with either haughtily superior answers, or the irritated look of an adult fed up with occupying a child’s time. Whilst Safra respected that Elizabeth was older than her, she still thought that it was little excuse for the hostility that was shown to her, and for no reason that she could fathom.

Charlotte, as on the first night they had met, was a little better than her elder sister, but more out of a begrudging sense of duty that her sister did not seem to share, rather than of a desire to actually be acquainted with Safra. Both she and her sister constantly belittled the youngest and Safra, although she was rather good with her retorts, whereas Harriet merely sat in silence, sometimes seeming as though she would cry.

  It was not until the day that their parents were due to arrive back that Safra finally discovered the reason that Harriet did not seem to be ‘in the club’ with her sisters. Safra understood, though she was never really happy about it, why Elizabeth and Charlotte chose to pick on her; she was the outsider, not only because she was not blood family to them, but also in her ‘reckless’ actions. The two sisters were, apparently, quite contented to live their lives in the most bland, silent way possible, and did not take kindly to Safra’s unladylike habits of creeping off during the evening, riding and going out to the village by herself, and most ghastly of all, she consorted with the servants on a personal level, even learning any skills she could from them!

  That line of thought, Safra had always expected, from pretty much anyone apart from her mother that walked into her life. But Harriet, she could see nothing that the poor girl had done to deserve constant criticism, and not a single nice word from her sisters.

  They had been given the day off by their governess, in order to prepare for Emilia and Reddel’s arrival, and were lounging by the huge bay window facing the front of the estate, waiting impatiently for their return. Safra was weaving a terrible tale (with Aetha’s help) for an enthralled Harriet, and Charlotte was sitting very straight on a stool reading ‘Sewing Needles and the Best ways in Which to use Them’. It was only dreary Elizabeth who was unoccupied, glaring out of the window as though she could frighten the rain away.

  All of a sudden, she piped up (she’d clearly been listening to Safra’s story). “Love is a fickle thing, if it even exists, and rarely, if ever lasts.” Safra had been looking for a happy ending for her gruesome epic, decided that love was the best way to go, and had just begun to tell of the two lovers,  so when this comment came, it was rather irritating, because it put all of her hard work at trying not to make the story an unhappy one to shame. She didn’t burst out angrily, after all, it would be stupid over something so petty, but instead, turned to Elizabeth to see if she could still work this to her narrative advantage.

  “I don’t think so.” She began, “I think that love would be wonderful to have, if it’s the right kind; the problem usually comes when people rush into it. I think…”

“Oh, what would you know about it all!” The older girl burst out in a very un-Elizabeth way. “The only ‘love’ you’ve ever seen is one that was happy! But that is the exception, trust me, I know; love is a ridiculous notion made to justify those who are unworthy of money getting it! Our father for example, I remember hearing the words ‘I love you’ pass from his lips every time he found a richer woman than the one he possessed at the time! But if he said it to mine and Charlotte’s mother, and to Harriet’s mother, and to the wife before her, and to all his many mistresses – yes, he thinks we and our mothers never knew about them – and now to your mother, which one did he really ‘love’. The only conclusion I’ve been able to draw is that he hasn’t loved any of them! Your mother and Harriet’s should’ve learned from mine and Charlottle’s; he doesn’t love, and those women, all fell for the lie that he does!”

There was a few moment’s pause whilst Safra took in this sudden outburst of passion. She’d clearly been feeling this way for quite some time, only ever being able to show it via her hatred of Harriet; the outcome of an unhappy union. The reason for her bullying was now apparent. Harriet wasn’t her own flesh and blood, yes, but to them, she was also she result of a lust for money by her father.

  Safra reflected that, just as she had only seen the happiness of love, Elizabeth and Charlotte’s experiences had been limited to one sided, if any love. She pitied them, but remembered something she had read recently about it, when one of the characters said ‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.’ Maybe the truth about love was somewhere in between. She glanced at Aetha, who had a pained expression on her face that she had last seen the night of her father’s death. ‘Somewhere between heaven and hell.’ She thought sullenly, and returned to weaving a different ending for her story.

 

When Safra’s mother and Lord Reddel arrived that night, they were not alone. It appeared as though a considerable amount of the gentry from London were eager to congratulate them on their wedding, and had come along to join in a celebration at the estate. Emilia explained to the girls that the party would of course, have to be held in a few days time because there had been no preparation. Although she had to be wary of Lord Reddel (not that she hadn’t been before, but now she could make it an official state of being without sarcastic complaints from Aetha or her conscience), Safra was actually quite looking forward to a party. She had only been allowed to go to a few before, and mostly, they were held among hostile, haughty people. But here, she would be glad to be able to look at, at least two friendly faces.

 “But what to wear!” The younger, and more excitable Harriet exclaimed to Safra that night. “I don’t think I have anything either fine enough, or stylish!”

Safra knew that this was not true at all, but humoured her all the same, saying that if she wanted a new dress, she could have the ‘shimmery red dress’ – the flame dress-  that was hanging in her wardrobe. As for herself, she already had a plan that she hoped would knock the lords and ladies staying, out of their dainty shoes.

 Despite this, when she approached Aetha with it, she merely nodded, mumbled something about it being good idea and swept off with the melancholy face that had appeared before, pinned on.

 

  For a while, Safra was befuddled as to why Aetha was not her usual, chirpy self. That didn’t last long. In fact, it didn’t even last the night.

  At about one o’clock in the morning, Safra opened her eyes on instinct and jumped at Aetha’s face, inches from her own. “Come on, I need your help.” The demoness whispered, clinking off in her usual black scale mail and cloak, looking for all the world like the grim reaper (apart from the ever blazing locks). Safra didn’t even bother to get dressed, she just slipped her boots on, along with a light dressing gown, and yanked her mother’s sword out from under her bed as quickly and quietly as she could. There was a certain emergency, even a desperation in her friend’s voice that she hadn’t heard many times before.

  As it turned out, she was still too slow for Aetha’s liking, and when Safra managed to catch up with the sweeping black cloak, Aetha grunted at her to hurry up. Kaison was waiting outside a side door on the side of the forested hill. She mounted without a word and Aetha clambered up behind her. “Ferthui Kaison, Ferthui!” Aetha called, nudging his flanks in a meaningful way. Too late Safra remembered the real reason she hadn’t been to the forest for weeks.

“Aetha!” She shouted back to her over the wind. “We can’t go in there, there’s something terrible! I think it wants to kill me! In fact, I’m fairly certain it wants to kill me! Aetha! Are you even listening to a darn word I’m saying?”

Her companion remained silent. She can’t be taking me to my death, can she? Why protect me for sixteen years if she just wants to feed me to some demonic apparition? Safra desperately wanted to believe that Aetha was incapable of such a thing, but there was still that niggling feeling that something was deeply amiss with the world around her. Either way, there was nothing to do but hold tight to Kaison’s mane and hope for the best. She closed her eyes and hugged his warm neck, but the ominous thumping of his hooves, and the snorts of steamy breath that reached her ears almost deafened her, and just heightened the silence from the being behind her.

  When Kaison stopped and Aetha slid off, she still didn’t open her eyes, and gripped Kaison’s neck even harder. Whatever it was, she could sense it already, and she defiantly did not want to see it again. This time, the sensation was not a tingle, it was as though someone had sliced through her spine. She bit her lip to stop herself from crying out as the feeling inched deeper. It’s coming for me. She thought. It’s going to suck my soul out and Aetha’s just going stand there. She could imagine Aetha saying ‘Here, look, she’s right here, just look at that tasty soul that I’ve readied for you, with spices and everything! All you need to do is reach in and…’

“Be assured girl, I would never do such a thing!” The real voice of Aetha cut through her thoughts, and at the same time, dispelling the awful sensation that had awakened in Safra the moment she had arrived, along with the inexplicable doubt in the demon that had risen with it.

 Safra opened one eye, then the other.

Aetha was standing, tapping her foot, arms folded, glaring at her. “Get down from there Safra.” She promptly did as she was commanded. “Quite frankly, I’m hurt that you think I would willingly let any harm come to you.”

Safra hung her head, ashamed herself, desperately that the ground could swallow her up. Aetha didn’t very often use her talents to listen to Safra’s thoughts, but when she did, she always had good reason; the same went for most things that the demoness did, she should have remembered that.

“For one thing, I’ve put far too much work into teaching you, just let you be eaten, and for another, naïve as it sounds coming from someone of my age,” – no one was quite sure how old she was, even Aetha, but it’s fair to say it was old – “I thought that we were friends; close, at the very least, and I thought you would know that.”

“I’m sorry.” Safra mumbled, “I guess I was over reacting.”

Aetha snorted, “You think?” And just like that, she was back to her old, talkative self, all sentiment out of the window.

“Now then,” She began, “I think some of this may have been caused by the lack of explanation as to what we are doing here on my part, so allow me to make it clear. There is someone we need to help. He has been trapped in the Ether realm for some time, and there’s been nothing I could do. But a few weeks ago, I sensed the barrier between our realms thinning. Not enough for him to fully break free of it, but enough that he could make his presence felt in this world. I believe you have met him before tonight?”

“Erm... if you mean the crazy demonic figure that gives me the hibegibies before it appears, then, yes, I’ve met him.”

“Hmm... I do indeed. Considering your reaction to him, I think it may be better for you to know who he is and a little of his history before we start, so that you don’t freak out and run off or anything stupid like that when he gets out of the Ether realm.”

Safra now waited for the explanation of why on earth they were helping a deadly apparition that, as far as she was aware, had tried to consume her only a few weeks ago. For this reason, she kept her hand firmly on her sword, despite Aetha’s disapproving glare.

“The person that you saw is indeed a demon, although he was human once; a roman centurion as it happens, but anyway, he left that life behind the day his soul was claimed by the demon realm.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Usually, it is against the natural laws for it to claim anything other than corrupted or undeveloped souls – as I was when I was claimed – and any pure souls that are accidently caught are immediately cast out and… sent elsewhere. However, occasionally, incredibly evil and devious demons can bypass this by making the soul forget what it was, and moulding it into something very different. The result is something similar to a shaman horse, but more… ethereal and subservient to, normally, one specific demon.” She stopped again, glancing at Safra, ensuring that she understood what was clearly a basic concept. She was trying to make the story short so they could get on with whatever it was they were going to do, but was probably going to have to leave out some information that Safra decided she defiantly needed to ask about later. Aetha didn’t often talk about her previous home, except in passing about cocktail parties and to warn Safra of a few dangers that may creep out of it and cause trouble for her, so this was a gem of a story for her.

  When the girl nodded, Aetha continued, still rushed and edgy. “That is exactly what happened to Kerlith - the demon you saw – and he was given to me. It was wonderful, he obeyed my every command, and I rode him into battles and goodness knows where else. Everything as fantastic (I was very powerful, and the demon that had given me Kerlith, I was sure was going to ask for my hand; he was very handsome), until the day Kerlith began to remember his old life. There had been snippets before, but the spells woven around him were powerful, and he had shaken them off. The result of this was that although he was subservient, he was also very bland and mindless. But after he started to remember his old life, he began to become more, well himself... and a pretty likeable self he was as well.

  “To cut a long story short, I started to feel sorry for him and to cut an even longer story even shorter, I... fell in love. By this point of course, he spent nearly no time as a horse; it didn’t really sit right with me to ride someone that I’d fallen in love with...” Here she paused and turned away from Safra a little. Mmm, so I was wrong about her love being a prince. Was that a blush she saw? Safra nearly laughed out loud. In all the time that she had known Aetha, she had never seen her embarrassed!  “Anyway,” she said, straightening up and shaking herself slightly, “Moving swiftly on to fact. The demon that gave me Kerlith in the first place asked for my hand; my father said yes, I said no. He was... angry, to say the least, because he was so sure that I would say yes – which a few months before, I probably would have done – and resolved to make my life a misery.”

  “This started with Kerlith. He couldn’t destroy him, or control him, so he trapped his essence inside a jewel and flung it into the human realm. I was stupid, and in love, so my father agreed that if I could find the jewel, that he would restore Kerlith to his previous form (but he could not go looking for it himself; there are very few demons that can spend any length of time in your realm, as I have told you many times). Needless to say I set out immediately and although many other things occurred in my journeys, the only one you need concern yourself with is that I found the jewel; one day, I’ll tell you how. When I returned, I discovered my folly. In my absence, Tratol (that was the name of the demon who had cast Kerlith out) had taken the throne, and locked the king in the dungeons. I have no idea how it happened, although I understand that it had something to do with my absence, and the king being taken by surprise (again, I’ve no clue how that could have happened), however, I was determined to remedy the situation.”

 “For the millionth time in this account, I must cut a rather lengthy story short so as to continue with tonight’s work. I broke the king out, and gathered the demon legions (most of whom were actually still loyal but too lazy to do anything), a tedious and gory battle ensued. It was practically won, and Tratol was about to be flung into the depths of an incredibly deep and fiery pit of his own making. Unfortunately his last act was to trap me in a lamp – he was a tricky one, always had one more thing up his sleeve to catch you unawares – and to once more, fling Kerlith’s ‘essence gem’ into the mortal realms.”

“How could you be trapped in a lamp? I thought that was, well, sort of a genie’s thing?” Safra butted in, feeling that this question couldn’t wait until they were done, after all, if her demon protector could be clamped in a lamp, what could happen to her!

  “I’m a half genie; honestly, don’t you ever pay attention to me – normal demons forged from human souls can’t just click their fingers and make things happen without leave from the king you know!” She paused to glare at Safra disapprovingly, whilst Safra smirked back; years of ‘the look’ had just caused it to lose its effect so that Safra no longer felt ashamed, angry or even regretful, it was almost a joke between the pair now.

  “As I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted... I was trapped in a lamp, which of course, I escaped from. But I now had another fifty years of hunting for the jewel! Or so I thought. Fortunately, the jewel was very close to me. Unfortunately, it was in the hands of someone who wanted to use a demon to take over a kingdom (which is very far away and I can’t remember the name of). Right, so,” Here, she fixed Safra with a steady gaze, “Are you listening?” – Safra nodded, her hand now gripped tight on the pommel of her sword, she sensed that the end of the story was nearing – “Good, because everything up to this point has been history, background so that you don’t run away screaming when I tell you what I’m about to. This now, is the reason we are here tonight.”

  “The man captured me using the same gem that Kerlith was in. For a moment, we were together, and then... I was released. By this point, I had been torn from my demon body, and was only a half-life. This meant that I had to attach myself very quickly to the nearest thing, which was your mother.”

  Safra nodded.

  “Yes, you know I was a symbiont to your mother before you, but this is what you don’t know; it should have killed her.”

  Safra didn’t gasp; too ladylike. But she did hold her breath and blink. “Then why didn’t it?” She breathed.

“Because of me. And Kerlith, but mostly because of me. As I mentioned before, I am not, and was never an ordinary demon. Because of this, I could muster powers beyond others, who would have had to possess the poor girl entirely in order to survive. As it was, I was able to twist the way it worked, and thus form the relationship that you and I now share.”

  “Irritating tutor that you can’t get rid of and girl that is torn between getting rid of tutor and hugging her?”

Aetha winked. “Don’t be so harsh; you’re nearly a woman. Anyhow, focusing once more on the matter at hand. This relationship came with a price. One of the main reasons that I had been able to not possess your mother was that Kerlith had – more than likely unbeknownst to the man who had captured me – been released alongside me. He was Bound to me, so I was drawing energy from him. But it could not be permanent, I knew that much. For him to stay alive, he had to Bind himself to another being; that was Kaison’s father.” Aetha started trudging up to the hut.

“But, if that’s true, why doesn’t Kaison have a demon, and, wait a minute” – Safra followed after, Kaison clopping by her side – “How would that even work? Kaison’s a horse, and presumably, so was his father, right?”

 “Ah, that’s where you’re wrong; both Kaison and his father were Shaman horses, remember, and Kerlith was the demon equivalent, so it worked perfectly.  As to why Kaison is not Bonded to Kerlith, it’s to do with your mother’s impeccable timing in sending Kaison. If she had sent him at the same time as me and you, it would have been much easier for Kerlith to just attach himself to him before hand, just as I did. However, Kaison was probably not even born when you were left on the church steps, so that was impossible. The link between me and your mother was strong enough by the time you were born that I could just be passed over to you, unfortunately, Kerlith’s bond was also so strong that it could only be passed on to Kaison (who hadn’t been born). This meant that he couldn’t come join me at the same time as I was Bound to you, but because of our Bond to each other, neither could he linger with Kaison’s father. He had to wait in an Ether-realm in order to survive – a sort of limbo – and we have been separated for sixteen years! Now he can get out of it and Bond to Kaison, but not without your help.” At this, Kaison gave a little whiny.

  “I don’t want to be tied up to no demon! Especially somethin’ like that one we saw last time we were here!”

  “Relax, pony.” Aetha said irritably, “His bark is worse than his bite; he looks terrifying, but he’s as weak as a mouse when it comes to power over you. I would have almost complete control over what he does. The only thing you have to worry about is his snappish personality. Are both of you ready?” She asked, turning back. She was stood right in the doorway now, and the air was beginning to simmer. Kaison reared, and swirled into his human form. He must’ve felt something... and there it was... that feeling from before. This time, the stone in the pit of her stomach began to rise and fall, and it felt as though someone with very long, very delicate nails was running them down the entire length of her spine.

The combined feeling made her want to throw up.

  The wind had sped up now, but only in the direction of the doorway. It rushed past her as though the tiny hut was trying to suck the world into it. It was also burning hot. Around Aetha, she could see the doorway filling with the flickering flames that had engulfed the being Safra now knew as Kerlith before. The she-demon held out her pale hand to Safra.

“Both of you! Take hold of my hand!”

They hesitated.

“Now!” The fiery female screeched.

They thrust their own palms on hers, and instantly felt searing pain sting them. But they couldn’t let go. It was as though their hand had been nailed to an anvil in the middle of a raging fire! Though their palms were firmly rooted on Aetha’s they could feel a hurricane trying to tear them away, and Aetha herself stood, teeth gritted, feet wide apart, bracing herself against it. As the forces wailing around them grew to their height, they all screamed in a moment of shear agony. It seemed to last for hours, standing there. Safra could feel tears of anger, frustration and pure anguish streaming down her face, only to evaporate in the burning heat. The pain almost became unbearable...

  And then, it was over.

  Safra and Kaison collapsed to the ground, panting in exhaustion.

“Nothing to worry about!” Kaison cried out, flopping onto his back, now wheezing.

“Please tell me that worked.” Safra begged, wiping the wet off her face, choking back another sob.

“Damn well did, girl.” A voice said by her ear. She didn’t bother spinning around; it was too much effort. Instead, she inclined her head to one side and up slightly. A friendly, demonic version of Kaison started back at her. As far as she could tell, the only differences between them was that he was paler, had crimson hair, and a fur cloak fastened with a skull broach.

 He stepped past her, and Safra saw yet another thing she never thought she would ever see on Aetha: a genuine beam of the purest joy.

She bolted to him, and embraced.

“About time too.” She mumbled, squeezing him tight.


© Copyright 2017 Rebekahjz. All rights reserved.

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