Chapter 25: Shattered, Part III

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

Reads: 486

Zidane froze. His hands stayed in the river, sleeves floating high enough to reveal his hands. Lance could sense his thoughts; he could sense the agony. A pain was there, reaching past the bars of its cage as those blood-red markings revealed themselves under water.

Zidane pulled his arms back, hands shooting back into the water again. Lance gently nodded in approval, unable to suppress the smile on his face—an expression that flat-lined as soon as he heard Adelah's voice.

"We should go back soon." She turned, peering past the tree behind her. "Father's probably worried—"

"Got it!"

A giant fish—a red creature almost as big as Zidane—flailed against his grip. With a grin, Zidane held it tighter, fighting back the thrashes against his arms. The weight nearly sent him tipping over, but he regained his balance with a small laugh. The grin on his face expanded, beaming in a way Lance hadn't seen before. Lightening his eyes in a way Lance found comforting.

He stepped to the side as Zidane passed him, watching and listening to the fish's head smacking against his shoulder with every gaiting step. Lance stepped forward, about to follow when his surroundings changed. He found himself on a dirt road, one much like the main street Kyrene and Zidane had first crossed.

As people faded in around him, Lance's attention was drawn to a cart close by. Similar to olden transportation, this cart was attached to an animal that, at first, reminded Lance of a horse. The body structure was the same, powerful legs with hooves below. But the blue, elephant-like skin and the sharp horns arching towards its back told him that whatever this was, he couldn't find it anywhere but right here. This wasn't a "human" animal.

The opportunity to examine the animal further vanished as someone faded in. Lance recognized the grey hair and stout build; this was Orah's Spiro form. Glaring a little, Lance watched Orah pick up a box from the crate, legs bent as he began walking to the merchant's stall a few feet away. A co-worker passed by, both their eyes lightening as the stranger said something to Orah. What exactly, Lance couldn't translate.

"Papa! Papa!"

A few Spiros looked up at the voice, their expressions sinking into disgust. Lance tried to watch them, tried to not feel the pressure inside his chest building. Knots were forming at his stomach, too, his mind only wondering what was about to come next. Zidane called out again, the quick pitter-patter of his feet sounding against the dirt.

This is the moment it gets better, Lance told himself. This has to be it.

He began to turn around, the motion shortened when he saw Zidane was standing directly beside him. Even though the crowd of grimaces and glares had increased, the crossbreed remained oblivious to anyone but his father. Blue eyes brightened, the grin remaining just as wide.


Orah brought down another box from the cart, turning around to move to the store close by. He set the crate on the counter, dusting his hands off with brushing slaps and pausing to blow against the raw skin on his fingers.

Shaking a little from the fish's weight, Zidane waddled up to him, a few Spiros stepping back. His legs shook, bringing Lance's focus to the fact his clothes were still drenched. The small stump of his tail was a mess of cactus-like spikes and as Zidane stopped in front of his father, Lance saw even more hairs prickle.

Zidane was quiet for a moment, watching as Orah lifted the lid on a nearby box and started unpacking its contents.

"Papa..." The word stretched into a whine, Zidane moving his shoulder to motion to the fish slung across it. "Look what I caught..."


Zidane's head remained turned to the side, revealing one dark eye to Lance. Orah's hand hovered closed by, knuckles and back of his palm reddening.

The hand drew back, continuing to unpack the box as Lance felt his blood grit against his bones.

"Go," Orah said.

A long silence settled between them. Zidane finally moved, lowering his head to the ground. The fish slipped away from his weakening hold, slapping onto the road and gathering pillows of dust.

Lance could only stare in disbelief, emotions of rage and disgust kindling to form words like live wires that were sparking against each other. But before his mouth could move—to accomplish what, he didn't know—Zidane's voice echoed into his mind.

"It was like an unspoken rule," he said. "I was never supposed to acknowledge who he was. It'd jeopardize whatever chance we had of a future. I thought that, maybe once, he'd see that I was worth being recognized."

Lance felt his anger dissipate, surrendering into a sorrowed acceptance.

It shouldn't have been this way, he returned.

No response came. Zidane stayed there, motionless, as Orah faded away. Lance watched as the onlookers faded as well, the emotions displayed on their faces imprinting to memory. In a matter of moments, Lance and Zidane were alone for the first time since the mental journey began.

The silence between them grew, becoming walls that only pressed inwards. Having overtaken his stomach, the tension coiled itself up towards Lance's lungs. The feeling finally dropped away when Zidane's voice banished the silence.

"How well can you handle gore?"

Lance breathed again, looking away as he thought of an answer. But he felt like there was only one he could give.

"Fine," he said, looking back.

He forced himself not to move, not to say anything more or do anything to distract himself. He forced himself to stand and watch the small figure that was Zidane remain hunched over.

The flames came all at once, igniting the trees and stalls and blankets, the grass and buildings far away. Smoke billowed into the night sky, a blanket of darkness Lance hardly saw as Zidane started sprinting. Lance followed, quickly putting himself a few seconds behind the crossbreed as he stared out into the road.

Bodies were everywhere. In bloodied piles, tossed aside like ragdolls with their entrails sliding out onto the dirt. A wave of nausea came to Lance and quickly he clapped a hand over his mouth. He couldn't get sick; he couldn't let this get to him...

He tried to focus on the fact that some of the bodies were those of animals. Wolf ears and bodies with the thin fur tails of Spiros. He tried to let himself wonder about that, but the gore was something not even his eyelids could shield him from.

Zidane was still running, stumbling as his feet became entangled with arms, legs, the tubes of intestines. The five-year-old staggered, never falling as his leg shook off a bloody tunnel. Lance stopped moving, blood vanishing from his face as he dragged a hand through his hair, unable to look away at all the organs Zidane had accidentally pulled out of the corpse.

"Mama!" Zidane called, foot stepping on someone's skull but not breaking it. The corpse's remaining eye bulged forward at the sudden weight, and Lance finally registered what he was seeing. The stench overtook his lungs, forcing his mouth open and gagging him. Chest spasming, he hunched over, spit dripping from his lips as he shut his eyes. Clenched them tight, trying to absorb the blackness that wasn't brightened by the fire. But he could still hear the flames; he could still hear the sound of little footsteps running. He could still see these bodies.

I need to keep going. Lance's gut heaved. Zidane made it out of here. Something happened to make his life go on. If he can survive this, I can experience it again with him.

His eyes opened again.

Lance was in a different, quieter part of town. A building faced him, single window broken open by something large. Lance tried to focus on the architecture, his skin crawling with chills as he realized what was hanging from the trees behind the building. The corpses strung up by branches, esophaguses suspending them and draining blood onto pale necks. Some bodies were the opposite; heads completely down, hung by braided nerves of their spine. A cold sweat broke onto Lance's forehead, his body convulsing at the sight he couldn't look away from. This had to be fake... This wasn't real...

Zidane came into his view, and with his brain barely lucid, Lance watched those small hands reach out, pushing open the door.

Lance was in a room now; the same one he had been in with Zidane, Kyrene, and Adelah. Except it was much darker, the light from the window splayed onto glass and earth below. Amidst the shards of window, Lance noticed there were longer, icicle-like pieces—sections of the wind chime.

Two people were on the ground, and fear bolted into Lance upon seeing one of them move. The long tail swished outwards, flicking blood onto the pieces of chime and shattered glass.

The leg of the table that had been broken off fell from her grip, clattering to the floor. The scarlet blood taking up nearly half of the wood's length barely caught Lance's attention. His stare was focused on Kyrene's leg, how the cloth had been ripped away, part of an oval-shaped wound visible from his angle. Shock sparked inside him, the feeling lasting only the briefest of moments before being engulfed by numbness.

Tiny footsteps brought Lance's focus away, where Zidane stopped in the room's entranceway. His eyes were wide, tears breaking onto his skin, and quietly he spoke.


Kyrene stood completely upright, turning to look over her shoulder.

"Nachi," she gasped. "My light."

That gold seemed to glow in the darkness, the sight of her irises becoming thinner as tears mixed with the blood on her face. Cuts and scrapes; spills and splatters that decorated her skin like paint.

"Konachi." One leg moved, pivoting her in the direction of her son.

Lance's position changed. He now stood beside Zidane, watching Kyrene start towards them in short limps. It was here at this angle that Lance could see the wound on her leg clearly, the large bite mark from some animal visible through the blood-stained skin. The same arm was also injured, the only evidence of a wound being trails of red quickly dripping from in between the fingers Kyrene had wrapped around it.

Her shoes dragged through the shattered glass, slowly pushing them aside. Creating the same sounds the wind chime once did. Through the mess of her hair, her eyes never left Zidane, the smile never faltered. She swallowed, the action shaky.

"I'm so... I'm so happy. I never thought I'd see you again, Nachi. My gift, my precious light."

Her smile quivered, moving uncontrollably as tears streamed down her face.

"I'm so happy I'm home."

Lance saw the figure's silhouette move, rising up from its position on the floor. No matter how much he tried, Lance couldn't move his eyes away from Kyrene. He couldn't look behind her, over her shoulder and clearly focus on the figure as it got to its feet. It swayed, the movement cutting into the moonlight and displaying a bloodied face through matted hair.

Standing in a shell of his own body, Lance sensed the tremors moving through Zidane. Small but constantly violent shakes rattling his upper-body, words reduced to gentle whimpers of fear.

Kyrene's eyes softened as she neared him, the movement spilling a trail of blood from a wound on the edge of her eyebrow.

"What's wrong, my boy?" she told him. "I'm—"

Submitted: November 21, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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