Jackrabbit

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

Chapter 24 (v.1) - Chapter 24

Submitted: March 01, 2018

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Submitted: March 01, 2018

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The moment the stone shattered, I could feel it. Another presence, this one much stronger than Larum’s. It shuddered and sweltered around me, like a living, breathing creature. The princess was enveloped in light, and her hair grew longer until it flowed across her shoulders in a waterfall of golden tresses.

 

“Larum, I’ve come to take you home,” Rachel said, her voice echoing with an uncanny power. No, that wasn’t Rachel. That was Yonah. No human could have that kind of power.

 

Aiz merely looked back, not showing any change in expression. “Mother, the Underneath is not my home.”

 

“It became your home the moment you sided against us.” Yonah threw a blast of light at Aiz, no, Larum, and the bifurcated goddess parried it with her hand.

 

“You murdered Cal and punished me to an eternity of suffering just because I didn’t take your side in a fight,” Larum spat, her eyes squinted with rage. It was her turn to strike, and she sent a vicious tempest of shadows. However, it was nothing for Yonah to dissipate. Even with their fighting not close to me, I was almost blown away by the force of the blows. So this is the power of the gods. If I didn’t create some distance, I’d be torn apart.

 

But yet, I stayed, silently crying as the two battled. Rachel was dead. In her place, a goddess of war stood. My vow meant nothing, and all of it had been for naught. In the end, the princess had died. What hurt even worse was that it was by her own hand, not Henry’s. I had failed so spectacularly that Karen was probably rolling in her grave. So instead of running, I grieved. I mourned for the girl who I had promised in vain to save. Instead, she had saved me and everyone else. Some protector I was. I cried for the princess destined to lead a kingdom. I sobbed for an overzealous girl whose ideals of justice often got the better of her. I agonized over the one person who had finally made me forget about the loneliness and the pain of my failures. Rachel was the one thing I had done right, and she was no more due to my own inability to act.

 

Larum was tiring, but Yonah hadn’t budged. The two stared at each other, not moving. Even so, there was something in the depths of Larum’s gaze. Sadness? Grief? Indignant rage? It was impossible to tell. The only way to judge her emotions was through the attacks she sent, but those were even more confusing. She must’ve hated Yonah, loathed her mother with all her might, yet Larum’s blows had the same care as a close friend. Family, even. Even in her hurt rage, Larum could not bring herself to loathe her mother. Not completely. Just as I couldn’t bring myself to loathe Karen or Elizabeth for deceiving me.

 

They danced with death, bodies intermingling as they tried hard to end one another. But I knew from the beginning that only one of them was ruthless, and it was not Larum. Indeed, once I had seen Larum’s true feelings towards her mother, I had also realized the outcome of the battle.

 

As the black and white goddess threw a lazy blast, Yonah blocked it before sending one back much faster than before. Larum stumbled, and Yonah did not hesitate. She was on her daughter in a moment, pinning the girl down. All the roaring winds stopped, replaced by tense silence.

 

“You sure are a monster,” Yonah said coldly.

 

Larum merely smiled a little as she looked her mother right in the eye. “Where do you think I get it from?”

 

The blonde slit her throat, and Larum fell limp. The two were on top of the stone pedestal, mere feet away from Henry’s fallen corpse. When Yonah tried to stand up, however, she slumped to the ground.

 

I don’t know why I ran to her. Perhaps in some part of my mind, that was still Rachel over there laying on the ground. Or maybe I just wanted her to incinerate me into a billion pieces of ash. But Yonah did none of those things. In fact, her eyes were shut softly, giving the appearance that she was asleep.

 

“You were amazing right up until the end,” I murmured, resting a comforting hand on her knee. Rachel didn’t reply. Neither did Yonah. For a few minutes, I merely sat by her side, trying to recall the scent of her lavender perfume. It was out of my reach far, far away.

 

“...Lennard?”

 

I swallowed before looking down, my heart leaping into my throat. The girl who gazed up at me was just that: a girl. Not a goddess, or anything else of that sort. Her hand gripped mine weakly, clammy and frail. Instead of joy, dread washed over me. This was not a reunion; it was a farewell.

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you in the end,” I whispered resting my head against her chest. Her hand slowly stroked my tangled, overgrown hair. The hair that she had made me cut. In the beginning, I had loathed her for it. But now I saw that it was just hair, and it could always grow back.

 

She managed a small chuckle, her chest wheezing. “I’m glad I managed to protect you. But, Lennard….” I raised my head to look at her, and she cried softly. “I’m afraid I’m too weak to die without showing my tears.”

 

There were no words to console the princess. Instead, I held her in my arms, feeling lukewarm droplets soak into my sleeve. There was nothing to say, because she already knew how much I loved her. She knew how much I had been hurting inside. Rachel knew all of it, and told me so in her body language. One day, could people communicate without words using magic? It seemed likely.

 

Reaching into her breast pocket, she withdrew a withered and crushed yellow flower. A snapdragon. “Take it,” she whispered.

 

I did. The thorns bit into my palm, releasing their deadly poison. It didn’t matter though. I’d worry about that later.

 

Rachel drew in a shuddering breath. “You know…Layla told me something interesting once about the snapdragon. It was an old legend that said two lovers who shared blood on it would be bound together forever. A little silly, don’t you think?” As she said it, she squeezed the thorns with her right hand, blood welling on the skin. She pressed her thumb to mine, and I could feel our blood intermingling.

 

It was certainly a good way to pass disease, but I said nothing as she eventually withdrew her hand. Rachel’s already shallow breathing slowed as she looked up at me. After a tense moment where time seemed to freeze, she shut her eyes.

 

I remained there for what seemed like hours. Only the sharp pin pricks of cold against my neck finally caused me to look up. Snow was beginning to fall. At last, the sky had finally decided to cry for the lives that had been lost. It was only at that moment when I began to sob. My chest heaved and shuddered, searching for air. Rachel…. The snow fell quickly, blanketing the ground in white. My nose dripped, but I took no effort to stop it. It wasn’t like there was anyone to see me.

 

Both Aiz and Henry looked like they were crying. However, those were just melted snowflakes dripping down their cheeks. Nothing could make the dead cry, after all. Kneeling down, I shut Henry’s eyes. We never had the chance to be friends, but he deserved better. It was a shame that we were forced by circumstance to be enemies. His words came back to me in that moment as I gazed at the two. “If she’s a demon, then I am too, for our blood is one and the same.” They were both beautiful in that strange way Rachel was. It was impossible to put a finger on. But with both of their corpses lying there, the two finally looked like siblings. They had the same eye and face shape -- narrow and elegant. Long eyelashes crowned both of their eyes. Whereas Henry was the icy cold of Lechasis, Aiz was the warm sunlight. Together, the two could’ve done a great job leading the people. But alas, the church tore them apart.

 

Inside the palace, I received news that the dragonkin had won. Prince Henry had been wiped out, along with all his men and his beloved sister. Renault wept actual tears when he heard the news of Rachel’s death. Looking at him on his knees and sobbing, he reminded me of soldier who had been through one too many wars.

 

With the entire family of Leviatan dead, there was no one to lead the country. There was no next of kin. It was then that I was requested to take over for the king, but I declined. I had something I needed to do, even if it took the rest of my life. In the end, Renault became king, and sat on the abandoned throne that was too small for him.

 

The dragonkin left to go back home, except for Larcei, who decided to remain at the palace. Luther and Elizabeth also went back to Sachien. As I had feared, Verna had been left dead in her duel with Renault. No one mourned her body, as Luther had already left by the time it was uncovered. To this day, I hope he heard news of his sister’s death, and grieved for her in private. But those sorts of things I would never know.

 

With the last vestiges of snow vanishing in the early coming of spring, I departed with a single horse and ample coin for food. Where the destination was, I did not know. I just felt in my blood that I needed to travel. It pulled me somewhere far beyond my sight. All I could do was follow it.

Something strange though was that I never dreamed of Karen again. Instead, my dreams were filled with thoughts of Rachel. Usually, however, I just dreamed of nothing. Inky blackness that swirled around my head. Even as the days passed and the seasons changed, my pace did not slow. The more time I wasted, the more my blood boiled. It was leading me somewhere; I knew it. I just had to keep searching.

 

 


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