"I can't do it! You can't ask me to do this!" Kaden yelled, gripping his head in his shaking hands. Hatred was one thing, but killing someone was completely different, especially when that person was Winna. Lumin's voice switched back to Kidick's as he wrapped himself around Kaden's mind, "It will be easy. Pour all your hate and all your frusteration into her and kill her for me. It is the only way my spirit will have any kind of peace."
"I can't!" Kaden protested asKidick sighed, "Do you want me to show you what they did to me? Is that what you want? For me to take you back there?" There was darkness as the memory spilled through his mind like oil corrupting freshsnow as Lumin pieced together a memory to show the confused Whisperer.
"Please! There has to be another way!" Jessah screamed as she latched onto Kidick with all the strength in her bones. The villagers came closer, surrounding the couple that held one another tightly. Elder Fala, who seemed much younger then, stepped forward, "There is nothing left to decide. Kidick, you wanted to be part of this village, so show us that you are a member of Rinsha. Give to the land what it desires, settle the balance. There is no other way."
Jessah flung herself in front of her husband, long, dark hair spillling down her face, "Take me! Please take me instead!" Fala shook her head, "No Jessah, you have a child to be raised. We will not sacrifice the mother when your child is still in the craddle. It has to be Kidick and it must be done now!"
With that, she extended her hand and called upon the mighty trees around her to secure the man in a wooden prison. Kidick reached back to Jessah who clung to his hand, "No! Kidick! No! Please no!" He watched the face of his wife as tears fell down her fair cheeks, "But my wife! My son! Please don't do this!"
The group of villagers held Jessah still as the rest of them traveled to the depths of the forest, where nature had beaten against the upset in the balance. Kidick struggled to break free from the tree's wooden embrace, but Fala's affinity was too powerful. They traveled until they came to a clearing in the forest where a stone slab the size of two men laying beside one another waited hungrily. In arough motion, they flung him against the stone and held him prisoner.
Fala stepped up and raised her arms, "The time has come! Accept this sacrifice and be made whole once more!" Her voice echoed through the storm, it's wisdom and power spreading through the night. Kidick stared horrified as a long sword, with markings etched in black on the blade was placed into her hands. Fala looked to Kidick and smiled softly, "Accept your fate like a man." With that, she raised the blade into the air, it's sharpened end begging to be released and drove it into the man's heart.
Kaden fell to his knees and vomitted everything inside him. How? How could they do this? How could they have been so cruel? In that moment, Lumin pressed harder, "Go to the place where they killed him. Go to the stone where your father's blood was spilt. You will know what to do when you arrive." Kaden felt his body move numbly through the trees as a force, greater than him, led the way to a place of suffering, a place of pain, a place where a life had come to an end so many years ago.
Meanwhile, Winna walked down her own path almost as blindly as Kaden. Her feet led her to a cottage where the elders of the village were busy at work. From the conversation that drifted on the breeze, Winna could tell that they were attempting to discover what it was that was making the balance tipso badly. Winna slumped against the door frame, "I know who is responsible"
The elders turned from their circle and reguarded the young woman carefully, "Winna dear, what do you mean?" Fala asked as Winna watched her approach, "It's Kaden. Something is very wrong with him." Elder Fala shuffled towards her and embraced the healer in her frail arms, "Come, come, love, sit down and tell us what has happened." Feeling safer than she had all day, Winna accepted the seat and the comfort of the elders who had been the faces of her childhood.
As she explained the events that had led to the sudden upheaval in their world, Winna watched the ancient faces around her become more and more troubled. Their wrinkled brows stitched together by nothing more than experience and worries. Although their was great joy in Rinsha, there was also sorrow and pain and the responsibility of carrying the village's burdens on their shoulders. Winna watched them all and wondered what their knowing eyes had seen.
First there was silence and Winna felt as if she had betrayed something between her and Kaden for spilling their secrets the way she had. Elder Fala placed a hand on her knee as Winna began to cry, "I don't know what caused him to behave this way. But his eyes, his eyes were so filled with hate. I've never seen that kind of hate. What could have happened?" The elders looked to one another as Fala sighed, "I'm afraid we do know what happened. We've been afraid that this would happen for some time, the day when Lumin wouldseduce another of our kin with his evil."
"But Kaden was always so full of light. He wouldn't have wanted power if it meant hurting the people around him. What would Lumin have to offer him?" Fala's grey eyes scanned the young healer's face before she inhaled deeply, "The knowledge of what really happened to Kidick, Kaden's father." There was silence as the elder's shifted uncomfortably and the mention of such an unpleasant memory. Fala positioned her body so that she was in front of Winna as she took her hands into her own, "Listen to me child, the story I am about to tell you is not a happy one. Sometimes for the greater good of our people, some sacrifices must be made."
"Sacrifices? What do you mean?" Winna asked, a horrible churning her stomach warning her of the horror this story was sure to bring. Fala looked down before she continued, "Kaden's father was special. He was one of the best men I've had the privillage to know; brillant, powerful and above all else, kind. He was a man that did everything in his power to help those around him. When he married Jessah, I don't believe there was ever a happier time in her life. Kidick resembled what many thought to be the perfect leader of Rinsha. But just before Kaden was born, Lumin broke free from the bonds of the spirit world and brought chaos to the land. Homes were destroyed, lives were ruined, many of our people died at his hand."
Winna closed her eyes and tried to block out the images of her friends and family fleeing for their lives from some dark force as Fala continued, "No one was strong enough to defeat Lumin. Many Whisperers tried and several of them were killed in the process. Nature was thrown into disarray; the seasons blended together,flowers and trees withered and died. But just when it seemed like our lives would never be pieced together again, Kidick stood up and led us. He was the only one with enough power to stop the all ecompassing darkness that surrounded us. Taking Lumin's evil into himself, Kidick went to the sacred stone and there, he allowed us to end his life with Lumin still inside him. This act of bravery and goodness was enough to keep Lumin's evil spirit at bay all these years, but it seems that he has once again tasted the blood of Kidick's line."
"You killed him? You killed Kaden's father?" Winna whispered looking around at the elders in a new light. These kind, gentle faces; these wise, controlled beings, were capable of murder? Elder Fala placed a hand on her shoulder, bringing Winna's attention to her stromy eyes, "It was Kidick who asked us too. He knew that once Lumin entered his body, he would no longer have control of himself. There was no guarantee that he would be able to carry out the task on his own. So we tied him to the stone and unsheathed the sword of judgement and ended our friend's life for the village and it's people."
An image of Kaden tied to a sacrifical stone flooded Winna's mind as she shook her head, "That's awful. Why? Why didn't anyone tell Kaden about this?" Fala sighed, "Because of Jessah. She was understandably against his decision, offering her life instead. But Kidick wouldn't have the woman he loved, carrying his child none-the-less to die when he could save them both. The spark of hatred in her heart fanned into a flame and she refused to accept that there was no other path. Because of Kaden, she couldn't save the man she loved and so, she blamed the child for the loss of her lover."
Winna felt her heart break in so many different ways. For Kaden and Jessah and this village and for herself as well. These were times of darkness and all she wanted was to go back to the lessons in Elder Fala's class or the Midnight Ball when she and Kaden had kissed so sweetly. How could things have become so corrupted? When Elder Jin's voice broke the silence, WInna jumped slightly at his harshness, "So, the question now lies in what we shall do with Kaden? If what Winna says is true, then I believe we all know what has happened to him. Lumin has taken the boy as his own."
"We must talk about our plans."
"Now is not the time for talk! It is the time for action!"
Winna watched as the elders argued amongst each other; Fala looking silently out the window at the assault on nature which was still raging. It seemed as if it wasn't only nature that was unbalanced, but the very souls of the elders as well as they yelled over one another.
"We have to end the boy's life before Lumin is released upon us oncemore!"
"You can't just kill Kaden! He is a human being, there must be another way!"
"We need to talk about this some more!"
It was then that Fala's grey eyes turned to her pupil as a silent message was passed between them. If there was a way to still save Kaden, Winna would have to be the one to find it. It was a burden that only those closest ones to Kaden could bear. Fala nodded to her as Winna suddenly stood in the circle of yelling, "I will do it!"
There was silence as every eye turned to the defiant youth standing before them. Winna's long hair tumbled down her back, her blue eyes shining with determination, "I will do it.Kaden is my mate, I chose him over everyone in this village. If there is a way to save him, Iwill do it. But if he is truly lost to the darkness, then I will be the one to bring him down.You have my word. One way or another, this will end tonight."
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