Ouch! I keep forgetting I’m not as strong here. My body feel’s fragile and I pierced my lip with my tooth again. The blood taste how metal smells. Mine taste’s different than Dante’s. I remember the taste of his life blood when I injected my Venom into him. His was sweet, it tasted good. Mine taste how the metal on the door of this tower smelled.
Dante is looking at me with… Sympathy? I don’t understand humans.
“It’s fine. I’m sure they’re just busy. It’s not uncommon for Dӕmons to stop communicating with each other when we find work. We don’t exactly make friends with each other.” Why am I explaining this? I don’t care about the ones taken. I only know I had a horrible feeling when the ambassadors came to our village. And I couldn’t leave Amara.
“Why are you here?” Dante asks again. I already told him to mind his own business.
“It’s personal” I repeat.
“I’m with you, I’m fighting for my life now, as you are. My brother, my sister, we’re all in danger. Can you please trust me? Maybe I can help” He persists.
“Ugh, Fine!” I give in. Humans suck.
“I fell in love with a Goddess” I explain. Seeing the memories in my mind, clear as the tunnel in front of me. “I’ve only been to Lysandros once before. When I first became and apprentice, to gather supplies that don’t grow in Encantadia and gather water from the Edipsos spring. We don’t have anything like that in our world. While we were here at the spring, there was a Goddess bathing, Amara. She had hair like this fire, wild and yet safe. She welcomed us all to bathe with her, but I was the only one fool enough to get into the water. She was like nothing I had ever seen before. Goddess do not come to Encantadia, they don’t. It’s almost never happened. Their powers don’t work right there, and Dӕmons generally can’t stand the sight of them. They’re like our pure opposites. She didn’t feel like an opposite, she felt like… like my soul if I had one. She felt like comfort, adventure, and wonder all at the same time. That night, as our temple leader and the rest of the apprentices rested, Amara and I connected on a level beyond physical. She knew me, from just being together. She felt all my pain and how I didn’t quite fit in. She felt me. And I felt her.”
I feel a drop on my cheek. The roof must be leaking. I wipe it away. “I begged her to come back with me. She said she couldn’t but she would come visit. As soon as we got back to Encantadia I accepted a position at the castle despite my better judgement to be closer to the portal. She came, every week. As an ambassador between Episos and Encantadia. When she came, she would steal away to my chambers and we would spend the night together, then she would leave the next morning. Years, decades passed. Once night per week spent together, 6 spent apart. Countless nights. It got too be too painful letting her go, again and again I begged her to stay. Finally, she said yes, and I requested to return to the village and continue growing as a sorceress. While at the Castle we didn’t continue learning. I was more like a prison guard, using basic magick and healing on prisoners from Lysandros.
It was approved and Amara clothed herself in servant rags, and snuck away with me. They didn’t notice for a week, and we were safely back in my village by then. I continued my lessons and Amara befriended some fairies that resided in our village. We avoided other Dӕmons as much as possible. We were so happy, we had a hut, love and laughter. I needed a few more years before I was ready to move to Lysandros and be a sorceress here. Just a few years…” I trail off. It’s so painful to recount.
“What happened” I forgot Dante was even here. He looks sad.
“Someone found out. Someone found out Amara was a goddess and she was in my village. I think someone from my temple. Guards came from the castle, they were able to over power her, her powers were so weak in my world. No one ever said why, they just arrested her. When I got to the castle after they had taken her, no one would tell me where she was. I was nearly arrested too, I was saved by vowing to serve the King again at the castle. A few years and I was able to gain trust from some servants. Servants hear everything. They heard a rumor of a Goddess, so beautiful the King’s son fell in love with her, but she refused to wed him. To punish her, the King locked her in a secret Garden in Lysandros. I searched for records in the castle library and found information. The Garden needed a key of bone. The key was kept in a small chest next to the throne, so it would be watched at all times. Luck and a lot of magick and planning I was able to grab they key and run. I made it to the Portal in Encantadia and then into the wood here. Then I met you.”
“I have to pee” Announces Chloe, unaware of the pain I just relived telling my story to Dante.
“Let’s take a quick breather” Add’s Marcus. ” We’ve been walking for hours.”
“Okay, lets rest here and eat. We will continue after everyone is ready” Dante announces. To me he adds “I’m so sorry. Once we are done getting your scent off me, I will help you in any way I can.”
We take turns relieving our selves further back on the path, digging holes and burying the pee to keep the smell out of the tunnel. Cerberus didn’t get the hint and pees on the ground. Dante’s attempt to cover it with earth is amusing.
I didn’t know Dӕmons were capable of love. I sound so stupid even in my own head. We are taught they’re the reincarnation of evil and are capable of only deceit and treachery. 70 years ago, they invaded our land by the thousands, and killed everyone in their path trying to expand Encantadia. Was XOTӔL lying when she said she didn’t know much about the great war? She definitely doesn’t fit the typical Dӕmon profile we are fed.
“Hey Dante, any signal on your phone?” Marcus asks, looking up from his jerky.
“I doubt it but I will check” I unzip my pack and pull out my phone and turn it on. It shines brightly in my face despite the glow of XOTӔLs fire.
“What’s a phone?” XOTӔL asks, curiously staring at the object in my hand.
“It’s a device we use to communicate in our world. It uses signal towers to transmit.” I explain. “You don’t have phones in Encantadia?”
“No, I’ve never heard of that. We still use ravens and letters to communicate far distances.” XOTӔL says, matter of fact.
“Weird” States Chloe, opening her second granola bar while chewing on a piece of jerky. She still looks uncomfortable.
“Speaking of weird” XOTӔL aims at Chloe “I thought Elves hate tunnels and underground, I thought you were all open space, nature and sky people?”
Chloe’s eyes appear to widen, as Marcus laughs. “Chloe isn’t an Elf, she’s a human ha-ha”
“Yeah, Chloe’s Human” I add, looking at XOTӔL. Marcus is looking at her too, she’s staring intently at Chloe. I turn my head and see a fraction of a shake in Chloe’s curls. As if she moved her head a wisp to the side, her eyes pleading with XOTӔL.
“I must have gotten the beast’s scent mixed with hers” Offers XOTӔL from my left. “It happens.”
Chloe looks relieved and then angry almost instantly. “I DO NOT smell like a DOG!”
“Whatever” snap’s XOTӔL, ripping apart a piece of Jerky with her teeth and then chewing noisily.
Marcus’s face reflects how I feel. Confused.
After we’ve all rested and eaten we continue our journey in the tunnel, but this time every one is quiet. Just the scuff of Marcus and my footsteps can be heard. Even the flame XOTӔL holds lets off no sound. I can’t get Chloe’s pleading eyes out of my mind. Elf? No way. I’ve known her since she was 10. Elf? No.
Her hair is blonde, she’s much too short, and her curves definitely don’t scream lean, lanky elf.
“Why did you say that to Chloe?” I fall into step next to XOTӔL again, lowering my voice to barely a whisper, hoping Marcus and Chloe don’t hear.
“I already said I must have confused her scent with the beast’s” She answers, in a way that leaves no room for follow up questions.
“We aren’t far now” she adds “I can smell Dwarf up ahead and the tunnel narrows significantly, Marcus may not fit” she says it in good humor, and Marcus grins flexing his biceps.
“Show off”. Chloe looks a little better, smiling slightly at Marcus. Then she looks at me. Her eyes soften, I can feel the love from her gaze. I offer her a smile and fall back, allowing Marcus to pass me so I can walk with her.
“What’s up?” She asks as I wrap my arm around her shoulders.
“Nothin’ much, just got jealous Marcus had you all to himself” I beamed. She smiles at me and we keep walking, I feel her arm snake around my waist and she gives me a little squeeze.