She watched the scene with wary eyes behind a tapestry on the rafters; she longed to do something but could not, and would not. The griffin wailed as he twitched and the screaming three voices could be heard. The black haired girl she had known was on her feet now and tore the griffin off of him, who twitched one more time then moved no more. She knelt by the young boy's side and took his head in her arms, tears streaming delicately down her face. The woman was surprised; she had never seen the black haired female cry before, no matter how horrible Eradicus treated her. The bars of the cage were suddenly blasted away at the man's power now that the griffin was unable to hold them and the magical ropes binding her girl fell away, leaving her to drift softly to the ground unhurt physically, but panicking mentally.
The man and the other girl drew close to each other, moving towards the body. The black haired child suddenly snarled and clutched the boy closer to her, shouting, "You can't have him! He's mine! He promised me he wouldn't leave!"
"What do you mean I can't have him! He's my brother! Let me have him!" the other girl was now crying too but this was a much more insane type of tears, half mad and crazed. The woman understood why; you could never have one without the other, even from their birth. They just weren't meant to be separated. Take one out of the crib and the other one would wail. That's the way it had always been, so it would be that way forever, she assumed.
"Stay away!" The girl holding the prince let out a feral snarl. The other child screamed, "Give me my brother's body!" and her hands lit up with blue flames, deadly, horrifying. She had never been this angry, in so much anguish, as if she had nothing to lose…
"Everyone needs to calm down," the man raised his hands and the woman felt a flash of compassion for him. Just like old times…always did keep his cool…the old man never changed. "What is your name?" he asked the girl.
She shifted and brought the boy's head closer. "Rain. He called me Rain."
"Rain," the man repeated. "I see you've met our boy. That's my son and this is his sister Yin. We really need to see him,"
"You're his father? You're older than I imagined," her head tilted.
"Thanks," the man said dryly. "But Rain, there still could be a chance we could save him, if you let us come closer."
"How do I know you're not lying?" Rain asked suspiciously.
"I'll tell you. Look at me, then look at him," the other girl pointed. "Then look at my dad's eyes. We're all the same."
"Looks can lie too," she sneered back.
"What more could we do to him that's not already done? Look at him!" she shouted.
Rain glanced at his face and the woman saw something there; she smirked. She knew that look all too well. Rain's face convoluted and she said, "Oh, alright. But only the man. Not you," she said nastily to Yin.
The old man stepped forward. Rain backed away slowly and as the man examined him his face was stricken, as if he was forcing himself to look. His face suddenly turned to confusion, then relief as he said "He's not hurt. There's no wound here,"
"What are you talking about? There's blood everywhere! Eradicus jumped at him, his talons sank in and he was chewing at him…" Yin squeaked, her voice high pitched.
"None of it's his. The magical blade went straight through the bird. He's just covered in it," his face turned grim.
"Then why is he all…dead looking?" Rain asked in a whisper.
"Fainted from shock." The old man got to his feet and looked at the two girls. "We've got to get out of here. I can teleport us to a safer place nearby, now that Yang's okay."
"As okay as a cutter can be, anyway," Yin murmured. The man flinched at her words. He gathered the boy in his arms and said to the other girl, "I suppose you want to come with us?"
"I'm not leaving him," she said protectively. "You can trust me. I've hated this place my whole life, and I won't hurt you if you mean so much to him,"
"Um…okay…" Yin said. It was clear from the words she had used that Rain wasn't lying, but Yin still didn't trust her much. "What did you say your name was again?"
"Rain. Just Rain." She drew closer to them and in an orb of bright green magic they vanished.
Once they had gone the woman stared at the place they had been for a minute or two, then dropped down from behind the tapestry and landed on both feet, drawing closer and closer to Eradicus. The griffin was still slathering, unnoticed; with a simple wave of her hand the wounds healed, the damage was restored. She watched as the creature slowly rose to his feet, panting and pale from blood loss.
"Trinity," he wheezed. "You've returned to help me. You are my most faithful servant…"
"Don't be ridiculous," Trinity hissed. "I am no more your servant than the man on the moon. If anything, you are at my mercy."
Eradicus wouldn't admit this, but he dropped his eyes. "Your boy nearly gutted me through, you know."
"Nearly?" she chuckled. "If I saw it right, he did more than nearly gut you,"
"You watched, and did nothing?" he asked, anger in his voice.
"I did more than that. I helped," she brought out the blue blade of magic that had appeared in the boy's hands and vanished, and stuck it out at the bird; his blood was still on it.
Eradicus couldn't believe her for a minute, and then started laughing. "Trinity, dear, you are truly mad. If you helped him close to kill me, why did you so jump down and save me now?"
"Where's Terrence?" she said abruptly. "I'm tired of looking for him,"
Eradicus smiled. "So that is why you kept me alive. I see,"
"I won't play games, Eradicus!" she shouted. The room suddenly wavered where it stood and started falling away completely; Eradicus started beating his wings furiously, as if to stop himself from falling into a black hole, but it did no good. He scrabbled to keep air and said, "Alright, I really don't know! I haven't seen him since the siege how many years ago!"
The room reappeared. Trinity could tell when people lied, and Eradicus told no tale. "Ugh. If my brother doesn't want to be found, it's almost a sure fact that he won't be."
"Indeed," Eradicus turned his back on her and started walking out of the room, a very dangerous thing to do. Before he left he asked, "What are your motives, Trinity? Even I can't figure you out. You had your family, right here, in your grasp and close. There is no danger to them or yourself anymore and you can all live together in peace, and you let them go. My death is eminent and you heal me, your biggest rival. You've only had one thing that you haven't been able to do, to find Terrence, and I'm sure you'll figure that out eventually. What about your children? It's clear they need you."
She tore her gaze away for the first time. "Their father can take care of them just fine without me."
"Are you sure?"
She did not answer. The griffin turned back into a man and changed into a long pair of pants and a shirt that had been lying on the floor, making his way out. "And are you also sure, Trinity, of your love for your husband?"
Her face took on a passionate look. Then as quick as lightning she flashed to Eradicus' side and pulled him into a tight kiss. They held for thirty seconds before she broke apart and slammed him up against the wall, nearly breaking his arm in the process. Her face was full of rage and hatred before she turned and ran.
Eradicus held up his hurt arm and laughed, watching a longhaired white rabbit race out of the room. "My dear, my dear, you never cease to surprise me."
Oh great. You had to be kidding me. Was there a line to get into this place or something? Sure, people were dying off left and right every minute but I want to go see God NOW and I'm super impatient. Wasn't it supposed to be instantaneous? They really needed to be more organized up here, like have an office or something…I mean really. I was just gored to death by a griffin the size of a monster truck. How many people in line here can top that?
But yet…there was nobody else here. It was only I, and there was this great, white divide that I hadn't crossed…
Maybe that was it. Maybe I was stuck somewhere in-between life and death. This sort of freaked me out a bit, because I wasn't sure if I really believed that was possible and I didn't exactly want to be a ghost or a phantom or a leprechaun or whatever you become when you get stuck, if that stuff even existed.
Through the great divide came someone. I had to squint to see her closer but I knew who
it was instantaneously. She did not come much closer than six feet away, but it was all I needed. Her scent, of pine trees and fresh paper, gave me a source of comfort.
She looked at me for a while and I looked at her. Then, in my voice and not of my own accord asked, "Where am I mother?"
She did not answer. I couldn't tell if she was just gazing at me or smiling. I wanted to come closer but didn't dare. Instead I held my ground. "Then where is God, Mama? Is He on earth or is He somewhere else?" I asked. I was desperate to know the answer, leaning forward closer and closer to where she stood.
This time she really did answer. She cast her hand out at the great expanse and I followed her gesture with my eyes. This time she really did give me a soft smile and exclaimed, "He, my child, is everywhere."
The first thing I noticed that everything smelled clean. The bed, my clothes, the air, all had a nice sharpness to them. It was so clean that the bed felt absolutely wonderful, the mattress soft and plushy. I opened my eyes slowly, and it sort of hurt for them to open. Above me I saw one very, very old woman, even older than my father, peering over me.
I let out a small shout of shock and tried to get up. The woman pushed me back down and said, "Lie back down boy, you're giving yourself a heart attack. For crying out loud, is this the kind of greeting you give your grandmother?"
I was stunned with shock. My grandmother? Of course, I was dead, right? The room was light yellow and had sunlight streaming in, and was the exact type of lacy cottage that you'd expect to find at a grandmothers. I looked at the woman and saw that she had really sharp silver hair in a long braid and two brilliantly purple eyes, which stood out against her pink housedress. So this was my father's mother, then. He had told me her name once…Honey, was it? I sighed and said, "Oops. I'm sorry. So how long have you been dead then?"
"Watch your mouth boy, or I'll knock you right out of your socks," Honey said sharply. I blinked and wracked my brain. Apparently I must have said something offensive. Maybe they didn't like talking about death up here. "Sorry again. But really, how long have you been living like this? Are you really ancient, or really young compared to everyone else?"
"I am going to blame your stupid comments on your obvious oblivion and not your cheekiness. You are not dead," she snapped.
A wave of confusion hit me. "What are you talking about? I am so dead. Look at all the light and cleanliness and…you!" I pointed. "My dad is at least a hundred by now! You can't be still living!"
She rolled her eyes. "The light is the sun, it's so clean in here because we're up in the
mountains and I hate dust, and I am most certainly not dead yet. I have my ways of keeping myself alive," She held up a hand and flicked out blue magic at me, knocking my hand back down.
I rose up against the pillows. "If I'm not dead then, where is everybody?"
She sniffed. "Your sister, the second Trinity, she's still sleeping. The black haired girl and Yomen, I have no idea. Try looking for them through that door, and come back for lunch when it's ready,"
I got up out of bed. I was dressed in new clothes, so obviously somebody had picked up the bags when we had fled. Come to think of it, how had we fled? What had happened to Eradicus? I crossed the bedroom and put my hand on the knob.
"Not that door child, that's the closet! By the ancestors, you're just like your father," Honey started mumbling and turned her back to me. I crossed the room again and wondered how a lady with a name like Honey could be so…I don't know, so not sweet. I opened the door and crossed through the hallway, opening one door to see my sister asleep in another bedroom, breathing softly. I closed the door. There was a lot to talk about with her, and I didn't feel like waking her and discussing it now. Let her have a bit of peace, before it all came crashing down again.
I opened room after room, mostly al the same with doilies and china dolls covering the tables. I went into another room with our bags, and I went through my own to grab a sweatshirt. It was cold up here…something was missing through my bag. It took three combs of my suitcase to realize that the blades were what was vanished. Everything else was there, in weirdly perfect order, but my cutting implements were gone. Somebody had removed them.
No matter. It was too easy to get new things…no. I didn't want to do this anymore. I had enough, hadn't I? It was over. I closed and zipped up my bag, but there was a demon voice inside my head telling me that this wasn't about to end just yet…
I pushed the urge away and it came swinging right back. Oh, so it was one of those days, was it? Well now I was fighting back. I didn't want to have a relapse, even though that voice in my head was telling me I was going to, and I was going to keep fighting it. I continued, room after bland room, then went down the stairs and through the kitchen to the outside, where dawn was rising.
There was a nice flower garden outside. I walked along the dirt path, winding through some trees but making sure to keep in sight of the house. Then there, over in the corner on a stone bench was my father, watching the mountain trees sway back and forth. When I saw him I ducked behind a tree and peeked out. He knew now, my most terrible secret.
I think I could have handled my sister knowing…but my dad? How could I face him now that he realized how sick I was? I couldn't hide from him forever, could I? I couldn't run away, because I needed him to take care of me. I would probably die out there without him, the night I slept on the streets proved that. So why couldn't I sum up the courage to face him now…
I wrapped my arms around the tree. This was going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. But before I could find the words to say, he spoke for me. "You can come out from behind that tree. I'm not going to bite."
I looked down and went back on the path shamefully. He knew I was there all along. He turned to look at me, then jerked his head and said, "Come sit down. It's alright."
His reassurance meant a lot to me just then, even if I couldn't look him in the eye. I would have rather Eradicus had killed me, just now. But that was a stupid and selfish thought. Time to face the music. I sat down on the very edge of the bench and looked away, pulling at my sleeves and hiding my hands inside them.
His eyes were boring into me. "I suppose you want to know how we escaped?"
I nodded my head, tracing the lines on the ground with my eyes. He said, "When the griffin charged you, a blade of magic came out of your hands and you were thrown backwards. Do you remember?"
I nodded my head. He went on. "Afterwards your sister and I, along with Rain…yes, she's fine," he said, noticing the look on my face even though it was directed towards the dirt. "She wasn't harmed when she was thrown, and now she's happier than ever, thanks to you. Anyway I teleported us and our bags to here,"
I must have looked confused on how I escaped, so he said, "Eradicus leaped on you and the blade went straight through him. He was squirming on top of you to try and get the blade out and you fainted. We got you out from under his body and took you with us,"
Utter shock rippled through me, along with a horrid repugnance. It was enough to make me speak. "I…killed someone?" I asked. My hands met my head and I buried myself in the sleeves, shaking my head. I had killed someone. Someone ruthless and who had probably killed many others before, yes, but I had killed.
"It was self-defense, and you needed to do it to survive and protect your family, your friends…even your country. Many lives were probably saved because of what you did. It was not murder," he tried to comfort me.
I didn't say anything nor raise my head. He put a hand on my shoulder and asked, "How do you feel?"
I shuddered. "Messed…up." The words came out between choked back sobs. How many people would call me a wimp right now, wouldn't understand…
Dad gripped my shoulder tighter. "If you need to let it out, let it out. Quit holding things in, holding them back."
"Why?" I asked. I brought my head out of my hands and crossed them, proud that there weren't that many tears on my face. "Don't want a cutter for a son?"
His eyes seemed to soften. "Six months child…how could you have hidden it for so long?"
"Either I'm a good liar or you're not paying enough attention." It was meant to be funny, but he didn't laugh.
"Why did you start?" he asked, removing his hand from my shoulder.
I thought back. "It was a training day," I said honestly. "I couldn't do anything right and everyone was yelling at me…dumb reason, I know."
He didn't look like he thought it was that dumb, but then again, he could be wearing a mask, like I did. "It's what you were trying to tell me before we left, wasn't it?" he asked. "The night the lamb was slaughtered,"
I nodded. "But then you got scared," he said, "And I didn't press, even though I knew something was wrong."
"It wasn't your fault. Eradicus knew my secret and threatened to tell if I didn't lead you to his lair…he told me he had our mother…I told Yin that part and she figured out a way to get you there."
The old man smiled. "If I know your mother she probably had Eradicus, not the other way around."
I brought my knees up on the bench. "Yin found out that day about…she told you later." I looked further away, into the trees.
It was his turn to look down. "So how long did your sister know?" his voice sounded bitter.
"She found out that morning. She…saw me." I traced a frowney face in the dirt. "What happened to all my razors?" I asked, letting go of my control.
"I took them away," he said. Then abruptly he asked, "How are you, really?"
I closed my eyes. This moment had been put off for too long. I pulled back my sleeves. There it was, the marks that I had been hiding for how long. I traced the lines with my finger and then suddenly pressed on them with all ten fingers, hard.
"Don't do that," my father reprimanded. He grabbed my wrists before the bruising started and I took a deep breath. Had I really just done it right in front of his face?
"You were never the type of person I'd think who would do this," he said. He took my sleeves and pulled them back down, hiding the scars. "You're always so funny and tough all the time, so cheerful. You even wore short sleeves sometimes! If someone would have told me this I would have said that the thought never crossed your mind,"
"Which is why I was able to keep it for so long," I said. His eyes were wide and he asked, "Why?"
I crossed my arms again, much tighter. "This type of pain is much easier to handle…I want to punish myself…it makes me feel special, sort of…there are a lot of reasons," I mumbled.
"And then you started talking about suicide…" he grimaced.
"I didn't really take it seriously," I protested.
"You still thought about it," he said. "I feel like a failure as a parent,"
"You're not!" I protested. "If anything, it's me who has failed,"
"Don't say that," he said. "We are strongest when we are weak."
I scratched my nose. "True." There was a knot rising in my throat and I kept blinking quickly. "You know, I had been hoping so much that my mom would be there…I thought that we would be together again. Now that I can remember, I miss her so much. And she wasn't there."
Dang it all, why did tears have to start coming now? What was worse is that I couldn't stop them, they just kept coming. I started sobbing. I'm surprised snot didn't come furling out of my nose. This was a really bad crying spell too, the one where you're really, really upset and your whole body shakes. Yin was only the ever one who had seen me cry this badly. I hated doing this to Dad. I wanted to crawl up somewhere and die.
Then Dad did something that surprised me. As if he knew that I wanted safety he put his arms around me and held me there. I went rigid at first; he had never hugged me before, and I think the most I ever hugged him was once, and it was quick. This was a long, comforting embrace. He even rocked me back and forth a bit. He didn't let go and I stopped crying, putting my hands on his arms. "Where's Rain?" I asked. I couldn't help it; it was the first thing I thought of saying.
"She's on the other side of the gardens, but I think it would be best if you calmed down a bit before seeing her," Dad said. He finally let go and I nodded, wiping my face with my sleeve. I got up and he gave me a smile. "Better."
I headed for the path. Before I went Dad called after me and said, "You're going to get better, Yang, I know. Someday you'll stop hurting yourself, and we'll be there to help you until that day. But for now, I'll be looking for outside help. We can't do this on our own, can we?"
I shook my head. Therapy sounded like a little much though. He gave me one last smile. "You'll be alright. After all, you are my son."
A bit fuzzy but true. I smiled back at him and started down the path, looking for the girl who I had saved from the palace, and who had saved me…
She was sitting in a bed of roses, talking to my sister who was now awake. When she saw me her eyes lit up and she charged at me from the ground, saying, "Yes yes, I knew it! You promised you would not leave!"
She threw her arm around my shoulder. I threw mine around hers too and said, "Of course Rain. I told you so,"
"Rain's coming back with us," My sister said, meeting my eyes for the first time in about two days. "She's proven very loyal to you."
I stared in wonder. Rain, my new friend, now living with me? One who, after only a day together, knew so much and yet so little about me? It was too much to take in, so I just smiled bigger.
"I am," Rain said. "Though I think I will be teaching you and not me," Purple magic sprouted from her fingers and my insides flopped.
A funny feeling went through me just then; it traveled through my stomach and up into my throat, shivering and shaking. I gulped and said, "You're probably right Rain." When I said the last word it came out as a squeak; I clapped my hands to my throat. It felt sore, and not from the crying.
"Your voice is changing!" Yin laughed, and I turned a little red. "It was time. Our birthday's next week, you know that?"
I had forgotten, but I nodded anyway. Honey poked her old head out of the cottage and said, "Come along now, breakfast is almost ready! You, girl," she pointed at Rain. "Get in here and help me with the table. Leave those two alone for a minute."
Rain gave me another smile before bounding into the house. Honey looked at Yin and mumbled, "She's got her mother's eyes, she does, looks just like her," before closing the door.
My sister, the one I loved, turned back to me. "We gained Rain, but lost mother. Again," her eyes were sad and deep.
I shrugged. This time when I spoke, my voice seemed a little deeper but pretty normal. "We did and we didn't. After all, we still have each other and she's a part of us, right?"
She grinned unhappily. How you do that, I'm unsure, but she did. "You know I thought I lost you for a minute there. But I kept my cool,"
"Sure you did," I rolled my eyes. She punched me in the shoulder, then looked out at the mountains and asked, "Do you really think she's out there, somewhere?"
"I know she is, and we'll look for her until we find her, together,"
She grabbed me and we hugged, and I shut my eyes and tried not to think about what the future would hold. I didn't want to think about where my mother was now or how I was going to get better, or how I had killed my enemy or try to sort out my mixed feelings about Rain. All I wanted was to stay here forever wrapped in my sister's arms and be in her presence like I had been all my life. She was the one who had gotten me help. She had been the one who had always been there my entire life and had not forgotten or ran away and wouldn't (perhaps couldn't) leave my side. Her and God. Besides that, I had always felt so alone…
"You're never alone." She whispered, as if she had heard my thoughts. We didn't break and a single, last thought crossed my mind; even though we bickered like no tomorrow, her arms would always be home to me.
Review please, because I love reading your takes! I am unsure if I am to write a sequel, but I've had so much fun writing this that I may return after I finish up a few other stories of mine. Thanks so much for staying with me all this time, and I'll be checking in!