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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1) - Chapter 12

Submitted: November 24, 2017

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Submitted: November 24, 2017



Chapter 12________________________________________
Erinys looked at us, her mismatched gaze cold. One eye was a cool green, and the other a glistening gray, exactly like Layla’s. Two long fringes of hair hung down by her collarbone, little bells tied to the bottoms. They tinkled softly with each step. Her hair was also brown like her sister’s, but Erinys possessed some sort of ethereal elegance that Layla lacked. The tips of her ears twisted back into elongated points, far longer than any I’d seen before. Unlike Larcei, she would’ve never been able to blend into human society.
“What are humans doing here?” she mused, more to herself than us. Her fingers traced an absentminded path on the dusty altar. 
“W-we were told to come here,” I answered, feeling nervous for some reason. Something about Erinys was unnerving. Terrifying, even. “We were told by the elders and Layla.”
At the mention of her sister, the priestess raised an eyebrow. “So you’ve met my sister. She’s a curious one, no?”
“Look, we just want to go back,” Rachel snapped irritably. She was still leaning on me. With a pang, I recalled the crusted over cut across my palm. If it got infected, we would be in serious trouble. If magic wasn’t an option, all you could do was continue cutting and hope to outrun the bad blood.
Erinys’ gaze sharpened suddenly. She tsked softly, beckoning Rachel to sit down. The two of us were wary as we obliged. The dragon girl quickly reappeared, herbal remedies in hand. She took some cotton cloth in her hands, slowly wrapping it around Rachel’s foot. The princess stiffened, wincing, but made no attempt to move. Almost immediately, she turned to me and grasped my palm. Her fingers were surprisingly cool as they ran over the cut gently.
“Here,” she muttered, “spread some chamomile over it.”
I bit back a hiss of pain as the pulp met the open flesh, but within moments, the heat was fading away. It was cool, making me relax despite myself. “Thanks,” I admitted reluctantly.
She jerked her head over the Rachel, her mismatched gaze hostile. “Why have you come here, children of the gods?”
Rachel bristled. “What do you mean by that? We’re on the run, and Celstine is a safe place.”
Erinys got to her feet, muttering angrily as she fixed up the herbs. “You shouldn’t be here. You’ll only cause trouble. I knew I should’ve warned Layla.”
“You’re not telling us anything!” I interrupted. “What’s going on here? You’re just muttering and wringing your hands.”
She suddenly stopped, fixing the two of us with an icy glare. “She is nothing but trouble.” She pointed to Rachel with a finely-manicured finger. How had she managed to make herself presentable in these living conditions? “You need to leave, lest everything falls apart.”
“I don’t understand,” Rachel replied, her eyes shining in a way that only meant she was about to cry. It was a frustrated child’s way of reacting, but no one could blame her. No one was explaining anything.
“I can sense it the moment I lay eyes on you,” the priestess growled, backing away slowly. “You need to leave, vessel of Yonah.”
“What?” I asked.
“You are not human,” she hissed, pointing a finger again at the bemused princess. “The Holy Dragon slumbers within my body as well, and she recognizes your true presence.”
My head spun, not absorbing her words at all. “Wait, what’s going on?” I pleaded, hoping to defuse the situation. Rachel looked like she was about to start sobbing.
Erinys looked at me before turning her head away towards Rachel once more. “She is not who you think. She is not human.”
“Of course I’m human!” Rachel shot back, her voice quavering. “What are you talking about?”
“You are the vessel of the goddess Yonah,” Erinys replied solemnly, now suddenly calm. “I see now that you were unaware of this fact. But you must leave, before you bring destruction upon us all.”
“This is nonsense,” I blurted out before thinking. “Where’s this coming from anyway?”
The sat on the cold floor of the cave, spreading her robes out across the floor. The girdle across her midriff gleamed in the dim light, studded with jewels and gold. She looked more like a cheap fortune teller than a divine priestess. “The Holy Dragon Fury slumbers within me,” she explained slowly. “I was chosen to be her vessel at birth, and that is why I am the divine priestess.” Once again, she pointed at Rachel. “You are the vessel of Yonah. When I touched you, my skin burned. It’s because Fury loathes Yonah’s very existence.”
If I recalled correctly, it was the gods who banished the dragons. No doubt some would be holding a grudge over it. But wasn’t it the dragons in the first place that were terrorizing humanity? “You were attacking the humans, remember? THe gods banished you to keep the world safe.”
“Lies,” she snapped back, sending my heart dropping into my stomach. “The gods stole the gift of magic from us to give to their precious humans. We tried to claim it back, but the gods banished us instead, and ensured history would recount it as if we attacked them with no provocation.”
“You’re the one who’s lying,” Rachel protested angrily, cheeks flushing red. “I spent my entire life praying to the gods and worshipping them! They’d never do something so horrible!”
“You can believe what you want, but you must leave,” Erinys replied simply, getting to her feet. “You will one day awaken, and then destroy all of us whether you want to or not.”
“Wait, wait, wait, this is all too sudden!” I interjected. “We don’t even know why we were told to come here. And now you’re just telling us that Rachel’s some kind of goddess? You must be out of your mind.” My mind whirled too quickly for my words to catch up, rendering me sputtering nonsense. “This is completely ridiculous! I-I can’t believe--” Rachel’s cool fingers rested on my arm, slowing my words until I fell silent.
Tears fell down the princess’ face as she glared. “I refuse to turn on my friends! You can call me whatever you want, slander my name, anything. But do not say that I would betray those dearest to me. I’m done sitting idly by and failing to save anyone.” 
The whole cave fell silent as everyone looked at Rachel. Silent, frustrated tears poured down her face in some sort of bizarre pizzicato. Her fingers dug into my arm painfully, but I made no attempt at shifting position. She had lost so much; would Erinys really challenge her humanity as well? 
But to my utter shock, the dragon girl smiled. “Just kidding.”
“Wait, what?”
She giggled softly, the sound completely bizarre and foreign. “I was just playing with you. It’s rare I get visitors.” In just a moment, she had turned into a mischievous girl, smiling devilishly as she watched our squirming reactions. It was certainly not how I imagined the divine priestess would be like. It was unnerving, but also nice in a way. She truly was Layla’s sister. Erinys also had the same scent, albeit slightly dampened. It was sickly sweet, yet cold, hanging heavily on my tongue.
“Why were we told to come here?” I asked, feeling extremely unnerved.
She shrugged, turning her mismatched gaze towards the cave walls. “The elders are superstitious. They can’t make any big decisions without asking me. I appreciate the company and all, but they always leave so fast once I give them their answer. All business, no fun.” She smiled, turning back towards us. “But you two are fine. You might as well head back to the village now.” Her tone was casual, unassuming. But I noticed the faint glimmer of sadness in her eyes. Of loneliness.
“Wait a minute. We should stay here for a little while. We have time before it begins to get dark out.”
Her gaze brightened. “Really? You’ll keep me company?” 
“Why not?” I replied before Rachel could argue. I flashed her a warning look, silencing the princess. Inwardly though, I was surprised as well. Since when do I do charity work? Still, something about Erinys was soothing. Besides, our wounds needed to heal. Rachel shouldn’t be walking on her sprained ankle so soon, lest she permanently damage it, preventing herself from making it back to Celstine and back to Lævateinn. It wasn’t too good to become dependent on magic.
The princess leaned against the wall, sighing as she took the pressure off her ankle. A small smile played with my lips as I watched her. Good. It’ll be bad if she injures it further. Erinys looks at me, yet not at the same time. Her gaze is distant, seeing far more than anyone ever could.
My stomach growls, reminding me that we didn’t have anything to eat yesterday. Erinys disappears, and after a moment, returns with a handful of smoked meat in her hand. “I can’t hunt for myself, but Layla brings me food every once in a while. She brings me things like smoked meat, and nuts. Things that keep for a while.”
“You two sure are close,” I said, savoring the taste of the nuts. They were oddly sweet, leaving a satisfied taste in my mouth. Combined with the meat, it left a savory yet sweet, smoky flavor in my mouth. Add some slightly sour berries and it would’ve been perfect.
Erinys smiled. “We’ve always been together. I’m three years older, but we were inseparable growing up. She’s my other half.”
Once again, Karen flashed through my mind. Erinys and Layla weren’t twins, but they certainly shared the same bond. Hopefully, death would never have to claim one and leave the other alone. It was like half your heart had been ripped away, leaving you with half a life. Half your feelings. Half of everything. Half of me had died alongside Karen, crushed underneath that carriage. I hoped Layla would never have to go through that pain.
“You should treasure her always,” Rachel murmured, looking down at her feet. I had forgotten about Prince Leon, and how she had lost him. I didn’t know the details, but it definitely hadn’t been pleasant for the princess. From what Henry had said, it seemed like Leon had saved her in some way. He had made some sacrifice. 
Perhaps in a way…I’m just finishing what he started. It was a grim thought indeed. Maybe Rachel was doomed to always have others die for her, laying down their lives to protect her. For once, the duty of a noble seemed hard. I had always given her nothing but scorn for her way of life, calling her privileged. But at least I didn’t have to shoulder the lives of others on top of my own. Every death in the name of her protection was just another weight added onto the princess. Who knows? One day, she might collapse under it.
As if noticing my melancholy, Erinys got to her feet. She leaned back against the altar casually. “By the way, would you like to have some fun with me?”
“P-pardon?” I asked, cheeks reddening at how her tone caressed my ears so sensually.
Erins fixed her gaze on me, making me scramble to my feet. It was better than sitting helplessly. There was something in her eyes that made me feel like she was looking right through my clothes. “It’s something I always wondered.” A playful smirk toyed with her lips, not quite bold enough to announce itself as a smile. “Would you like to teach me what the wonders of the flesh hold?”
“Why would you want to know that?” To my embarrassment, my voice came out as little more than a squeak. The priestess came closer, pressing her hands against my chest. A few feet away, a shocked gasp from Rachel could be heard. I met the princess’ gaze for a moment, taking in her flustered look. She jerked her head away, snorting loudly.
“This is completely improper! Besides, that’s for marriage. You two, quit that. Now.”
Erinys retreated several steps, allowing me a relieved sigh. Even so, my body was tense. She was still looking at me. “I just want to know things. The pursuit of knowledge is something I’m always chasing. It’s in my nature, as the vessel of Fury.”
“Er, Rachel’s right,” I replied, cheeks bright red. I couldn’t meet the dragon girl’s gaze. “This isn’t really the time or place.”
“If you’re nervous, you don’t need to worry. I too am unfamiliar with these sorts of things. We can learn from each other, even if you yourself may not have much to teach.”
“Wh-what makes you think I’m unfamiliar with this?” I certainly didn’t want to push anything, but my pride had been injured. She made me sound like a boy. And while her assumption wasn’t…entirely untrue, that still didn’t make it okay that she said it out loud.
Erinys cocked her head to the side, looking more like a curious puppy than anything else. In all honesty, she was tempting. While Layla was a girl, Erinys was a woman, with long curves and a gaze that made me feel like I was being incinerated under her scrutiny. But even so, I just didn’t feel any desire for her. Not to mention I may have been, just a tiny bit, slightly afraid. It’s not because I’m inexperienced! I assured myself. It was merely because I felt anxious around her. Only a boy would be afraid for those reasons.
Rachel was quietly laughing in the corner, dewy tears glimmering in the corners of her eyes. “We should head back,” she said, forcing herself to her feet unsteadily.
While I didn’t want to be near Erinys, I also didn’t want the princess to injure herself. Swallowing nervously, I rested my hand on her shoulder. “No, it’s best we spend the night here. You need to rest that sprained ankle. The medicine and bindings should keep it relatively safe after a night of rest.”
To keep myself safe from Erinys, I curled up next to the princess. She smelled faintly of lavender and honey. What an annoying scent. The cave floor was cold, but it soon went away as I focused only on the warmth of her body. We drifted off, losing ourselves in the pull of sleep.

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