Chapter 13 – Lonely Past
I stood quietly gazing out into the beautiful deep ocean all morning. Marcus soon learnt from the other passengers that the ship was headed to somewhere known as Cardinia, which lay far beyond us by the North Sea. While I looked out over the water, a bizarre sense of calm washed over me, like I’d never felt. “I think I like the sea, Marcus” I said sleepily when he brought us lunch, cheese and more apples. “Ok, we’ll add that to the list then.” He said, biting into the gooey Cheese blissfully.
“What’s that?” I asked, looking down at a brown bag he was carrying suspiciously. “It’s called a dress Cynthia, I wonder if you’ve heard of them?” he asked cheerfully, pushing the bag into my arms. “Oh hilarious.” I sighed, looking into the bag and fingering the cotton fabric. “Where did you get this?” “I found it.” He smiled. “In a store room below deck. Nobody’s going to miss it.”
I pushed the bag back into his arms. “That as it may be I’m not wearing it. Dresses are impractical, you can’t run, or swords fight properly.” Marcus pushed the bag straight back into my arms again whilst laughing “Sure, ok, but unfortunately right now you’re on a middle class passenger boat and quite honestly you stick out like a duck amongst swans.” “Fine.” I snapped, snatching the bag. I glared back at him as I began walking to the stars that lead below deck, and he was smirking at me.
“Quack.” He said happily. “Argh!!” I shouted, alarming several snooty old women walking near me, and stomping down into the lower deck as angrily and as unladylike as I could. “Don’t push it.” I muttered furiously as I reached cabin number 6, where we were allotted to earlier. I slammed the door and shrieked when I looked across the room at the mirror over the porcelain sink, which as I entered had steamed up with frost, and the face of a girl appeared.
I clutched the door handle breathing deeply, and as I recovered myself glared angrily at the pale face of Avangelique, blinking innocently at me with large steely grey eyes. “Stop, doing that!” I said, collapsing onto one of the thin beds. “It’s really creepy!” “I need to speak with you.” She said mistily, ignoring me. “Yeah?” I sighed, turning to look at her.
Her face flickered with what might have been a smile, and she whispered in her normal icy thin voice “who is that boy? I have seen you, from windows and in streams and in mirrors, do you know this boy?” I stared blackly at her for a moment before answering “yeah. He’s called Marcus.” her face for a second for a second might have become a little colder. “And you trust him?” she whispered.
“Maybe…” I said slowly. “Maybe?” she echoed “but don’t you like him Cynthia?” I felt myself flush crimson red, and I span around to her shouting “what? No!” She blinked shocked, and after a pause said “my apologies. Have a touched a sensitive subject?” “It’s fine.” I groaned, flopping back down onto the soft plush sheets. “it’s just…no, no way no way no way” she gazed at me for a while, her cold gaze like ice on my skin.
“You hardly talk to me” she said quietly after a while. “I have a very active day.” I said flatly. “Yes, of course, my emotions may be a shadow of what they once were when I was alive, but I do care.” She said softly. I glanced up at her, her pale beautiful skin and eyes and flowing dark hair. “Avangelique…” I said quietly. “The dead walk in shadows, Cynthia, I am older than many centuries before this time yet still hold a key of innocent youth.” She sighed, closing her eyes.
“You are my key to the next world, though I died, my time was not right so I lingered on as a faded memory, not knowing of any life or joy I had whilst living.” She smiled quite gently and turned to look at me in the eye. “But you give me hope, Cynthia. I hope somehow through you, as I travel your path, I will find a way forward.” I got up slowly, and reached out to touch the cold mirrors glass, the face of a memory of a friend.
She smiled at me once more, and then I blinked and she was gone, her smile replaced by my own pale face which stared back at me blankly from the shining mirrors surface. I swallowed a couple of times, then breathed deeply and pulled off my clothes, changing into the dress Marcus found. It was a simple olive green dress made from soft cotton with a tight buttoned collar and long sleeves, and a clean white apron over the front with pockets, a late century design. I tweaked at the bust in the mirror, frowning at myself.
It’s was, though I hated to admit it, a beautiful dress, and it fitted me very well. “My eyes will stand out a mile.” I thought furiously as I tied my hair into a lose plait with the spare piece of matching green ribbon, and turned to walk out of the door. I had just reached for the handle when it quite suddenly swung way from me, and I stumbled back in shock. Marcus starred back, blinking at me, and after a couple of seconds, his face broke into a smile.
“Wow Cynthia!” he said happily. I could feel myself blushing again, and starred determinedly at the floor. “I think it won’t be long before dinner.” He said, shutting the door and smiling at me. He sat down on the bed opposite me, and I stared at him a bit before sitting down on the other bed. We sat in silence for a while, and eventually I asked “Marcus, who are you?” He looked up surprised and said slowly “you know who I am Cynthia.” “No, no I mean…” I said carefully, taking a deep breathe “tell me about you. You know, family and stuff.”
“Not much to tell really.” He said quietly. “I grew up in Thorduke, you know, where you met me? And when I was really little my mum died because of an illness, the walker wrath I think it was called.” I clenched my lips, thinking of a terrible illness that I learned about not two years ago, that happened many years before. It killed a lot of people, and happen just after the nightwalker massacre, hence given the name ‘walker’s wrath’ over the common belief the plague was sent from hell where my people were said to burn, their deadly vengeance.
“I never had a father.” Marcus continued bluntly. “So I went to live with my grandparents, who, like all my aunts and uncles, didn’t want me. So, I was sent to apprenticeship, with bakers in the town. I learnt how to cook, and bake, and everything seemed like it was alright. I loved the baker, Mr Parterson. He was a good man, and I loved his daughter, Sarah, too, like a sister.” I watched Marcus sadly, as he stared down at the floor. “She died when I was 10, only 17.” He said slowly. “Killed by the Black Princes men, for not giving them their way with her when she was coming home with grocery’s one day in September, too sudden, and it tore me apart.”
I heard him swallow hard, and I could see he was starting to shake quietly, his fists clenched. “Marcus…” I said, gripping the bed. “Stop…its fine.” “I hate them.” I heard him say quite suddenly, in a deep low hateful voice I’d never heard him use before, it shocked me. “I hate them all.” I heard him whisper. “Marcus!” I said sharply. He glanced up at me, suddenly relaxing and the colour fading from his face.
He stared at me coldly for a moment, before shakily, he smiled again. “Very bad.” He said quietly. “Not good at all eh? I shouldn’t be getting so caught up in things, its fine, really.” He sat up straight, and briskly stood up, and walked across the room to open a window. “I’m sorry Cynthia.” He said brightly, sounding like himself again. “Bad memory’s, you know?”
I stared at him quietly, thinking. ‘Just who are you, Marcus?’ I thought. ‘Why were you up in that house on your own, in that village? Just who are you?’ as I thought these curious words, I made resolve, to never bring up the subject of Marcus’s past ever again. “Where do you think Sarah is right now?” Marcus asked wistfully, looking from the window. “You think she’s ok?” for a couple of seconds, my tongue was caught in my mouth, and then I realised he meant the little cat which we had to leave behind.
“She’ll be ok.” I said, standing up and walking next to him. “Beautiful thing like her, she’ll get taken in by a family in no time.” “Sure.” Said Marcus quietly, facing me, smiling wider than ever. “Alright.” I grinned back. For a second, we just stood and looked at each other, and then we both blushed and drifted away, though for a moment, I might have secretly smiled to myself.
Suddenly the ship rocked violently, and I clutched wildly for the bed post. Above us, the faint lamp flickered and went out, I looked at Marcus mouthing ‘what’s going on?’ at him, he mouthed back ‘how should I know?’ Just then we heard screaming and running feet above us, and the captain’s voice, shouting “stay calm! Everyone please stay calm! The situation is under control!” “Cynthia!” shouted Marcus, swaying to his feet as the ship rocked violently again.
“Marcus! Get down! We need to be quiet!” I whispered loudly. “Why?” he whispered. I listened to the heavy footsteps and screams above us, and the sound of men yelling, a clash of metal and wood… “I think we’ve been breached.” I said quietly.
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