Chapter 32: Is It a Curse… Or is It Me?

27th day, 7th month.

The prophets alleged the forthcoming arrival of a disaster; a curse, they said. An outsider plague that would have scourged our lands every 100.000 years. How much of it is true? Can we trust the maunder from a bunch of make-believe despotic rulers? We rallied in the central plaza to hear their speech. Nobody believed them. Not when the very same gods that bestowed them oracles had forsaken our prosperity. The fools. The throne of power is bound to see the light of a new sovereign.

4th day, 8th month.

The heavy tang of copper permeated the streets. They were killed; the fools and their butt-lickers sycophants. Blood carpeted the burning skeleton of the church. Chaos ran amuck today, and I have to begrudgingly admit that I’m a bit scared too. I knew that someone would have stolen their fading political influence, but to outright annihilate an entire structure filled with strong crusaders and holy knights?

8th day, 8th month.

The Dark Elves went into hiding, and so did the Royal Phoenixes. The city has been oddly quiet, forgoing the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Raegis. I don’t like this at all. Maybe it’s time to move somewhere else, the lamias have been fidgety lately. A change of scenery will hopefully ease their worries.

14th day, 8th month.

They were right! The fools were goddamn right! Something is happening… the King of Dragons has been found eaten alive on the border of our continent. Who the hell could have done that? This is ludicrous and illogical, such a transcendent existence became someone else’s afternoon snack, and no one was the wiser for almost a week! The Elder Ones won’t stay quiet about this.

15th day, 8th month.

This makes no sense… the moon became red.

16th day, 8th month.

After a whole week of preparation and activities, we’re finally out of Raegis’ walls. We’ll head north-west, towards the Valley of Forgotten Souls, there’s a peaceful citadel of spirits uphill, their leader has an alliance treaty with us, I trust there won’t be any problems welcoming us. This journey will be a dangerous one, it would be for the best to avoid the main road where we’d be under the public’s eyes. The moon is still red. I pray for my tribe’s safety.

18th day, 8th month.

Today we lost three sisters due to the ambush from a bunch of humans. Why do they want to bring us back? And why did it warrant the death of three of us!? Why!?

20th day, 8th month.

I’m tired. We’re all tired. There’s been hardly any rest for us, it feels like we’re escaping from something. We can’t delay our exodus. We shall march on until we reach the citadel.

21st day, 8th month.

Two lamialets died today.

23rd day, 8th month.

I hate the night sky… I hate this journey. I just wanna rest but noooo… Spring Whore Sky and Green S*** Dew had to keep bitching the whole night about the lack of food! I feel so guilty for wanting to leave everyone behind and survive by myself, I’m so stressed. I’m hungry. I’m scared. I’m angry. Maybe it was not a good idea departing from Raegis.

24th day, 8th month.

Just a few more days… just a few more days and we’ll be there…

26th day, 8th month.

Today we almost ended up inside the stomach of a Sphinx. We’ve been chased down for miles, incredible how none of us died. It was all thanks to him; he who appeared out of nowhere, his body discharging so much power and pressure that it went beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. He was dressed fashionably, and it was a wonder how no blood splattered onto him when he cleaved the huge creature in half with a light chop of his hand… and the moment his bewitching red eyes locked onto me… the lopsided grin on his face… his short pitch-black hair that danced in the breeze…

26th day, 8th month.

I’m writing this right after he promised to escort us to the citadel! I’m soooo relieved!

27th day, 8th month.

The night is not so scary anymore, not now that he’s with us. He’s been providing us with food I never thought we’d ever eat. He’s such a charming man, and it’s always a delight to talk to him. I may have overstepped my boundaries a bit when I asked him what race did he belong to, because his complexion had darkened considerably. He answered nonetheless. A Predator? Never heard of it, but if they’re all as powerful as him then they rightfully deserve a spot in my book. I want to learn more about him…

28th day, 8th month.

What a feast for my eyes. He killed a Forest Behemoth, and he did it so easily and cleanly that I felt pity for the downed monster. Not gonna lie, I might have blushed a lot at the display.

30th day, 8th month.

We’ve passed through the Valley of Forgotten Souls, just another day and… he’ll go away, won’t he? He didn’t tell me but I know, he’s been very gloomy recently, restless and impatient. I’ve even caught him yelling at the sky last night, almost in a pleading way, to go back somewhere… he was angry and sad… but why shout at the heavens when there’s no one up there anymore? I’m confused, but I don’t want to let him go, I finally found someone that can smile at me without that disgust glean in their eyes. But with a body like mine, would he agree to stand by my side? I should stop daydreaming.

“Eh?” Jadesin clutched the sheet of paper tighter, “This is… uh, Stephen, do you know–” she swallowed back the rest of her sentence when her eyes grazed her guest’s features, “Stephen?”

“Jadesin…” his words were spat out through quivering breaths, “L-Let me ask you… that curse, I mean, that outsider thingy… is it true? Did it truly happen every 100.000 years?” he cupped the edge of his eyes with a hand, least she saw the plethora of emotions entwining in his shaking orbs.

“H-Hey… are you alright?”

“JUST ANSWER!”

Jadesin recoiled at the sudden uprise in his tone, “Y-Yeah…” she cleared her throat before trudging on carefully, “We don’t have documented evidence that it actually happened every 100.000 years, a lot of scriptures were lost, all we have is some journal that contains a cursory summary of what unfolded in those times.”

“So… can I infer that something indeed happened in those periods, but you can’t be sure if it was because of that curse?”

“That would be correct.” Jadesin heaved a deep breath as she leaned closer to him, “This journal here is way more detailed than the other ones we have, not to mention the oldest. There were big wars, yes, and an incredible number of races went extinct as well. Was the curse those prophets talked about behind it? No idea.”

“Was… emh, what about the red moon? is there any information about it?”

“Nothing.” she shook her head, “This is my first time hearing of something like this, honestly, it’s kinda spooky…”

Stephen drooped his head as he let the silence be the foreground for his churning thoughts. Jadesin glanced at him from the corner of her eyes, chewing on her bottom lip to keep herself busy. He was tense, and panic-stricken too if his rocking body was anything to go by. There must have something in that journal that disturbed him, she mused.

“Hehe… go figure, who would have thought that the first matriarch of our tribe would fall in love with a Predator, I wonder what happened afterward. Did they wind up together I wonder? Or maybe she never told him what she was feeling inside… would have not been the first time something like this happened to a lamia.” her blatant attempt to lighten up the atmosphere failed miserably when twangs of sadness started thrumming in her heart.

With a sigh, Jadesin propped her elbows down her scaly lap, with her hands held up wherein her chin rested on.

“Lady Jadesin, Stephen, we have brought you dinner.” Red Virtue’s announcement dwindled a bit of the stress draping about the room, and she found herself silently thanking her retinue for the rescue. Stephen’s quiescence was making her rather uncomfortable.

“Oh right… please come in.”

Red Virtue and Blue Pearl hustled inside upon consent and hurried to cautiously place the immaculately crafted wooden trays atop their hands upon the table, before they proceeded to rearrange the food out of their containers onto plates.

“Thank you.” Jadesin beamed at them as she scrambled back up and headed for the recipients of her hunger. Having finally found a topic to breach Stephen’s sullenness with, she prattled, “Well, are you hungry my dear?”

“…”

A determined glint flashed through her eyes when no answer was given, “Red Virtue, Blue Pearl could you be so kind as to leave us alone for a couple of minutes more?” her tone of finality, so divergent from the content of her sentence, left no room for objection. She had masked her order under a more amiable request.

The room had soon two people less, and Jadesin wasted no time in approaching the listless Predator. Her action was swift and decisive, and before he knew it, the hands he’s been covering his face with were yanked away to unveil Jadesin’s face.

He stared at her, too tired to muster up any resistance.

“If this is how you’re going to behave tomorrow, when we’ll depart to execute our plan against the Orc tribe, then you might as well stay here and mope around.” it was fascinating how despite the ghost of a smile she’s been wearing so far, her eyes had crinkled into a heated stare.

She didn’t know, of course. She didn’t make any connection. It was a world of pain and concern the one so attentively buried within her eyes, and he couldn’t bring himself to be enough of a bastard to uncaringly swat away her pursuit in soothing his problems. She had her owns too, he reminded himself.

Jadesin was still looking at him, and she was waiting for an answer. He acquiesced, “I apologize for my previous outburst.” he probed, and the rewarding gentle smile that bloomed in size on her face was more than worth it.

“It’s okay… we’re partners, aren’t we?” the hands that been imprisoning his wrists had ever so slowly eased off, magically finding their way onto his face, “Feeling better?” her husky timbre was like the sweetest croon to his ears. The way she playfully nuzzled the ridge on his cheekbone prompted a small chuckle out of him.

“Yes, thank you.” that was a well-covered lie, and he had to thank his father’s trials for molding him into a competent actor, “The food’s getting cold, aren’t you going to eat?”

“Of course I am you silly, I’m starving here.”

Except that her hands didn’t leave his cheeks. It was like they were spellbound to stay there and embed warmth on his face, and he wondered if the perception of eating food had shifted onto eating something else, more alive. The way her smirk had thinned into an embittered line, and the mixture of hesitation and eagerness played out across her crumpled up features had his heart halt for a moment.

Was it the romantic undertones of the journal?

He soldiered on and met her gaze. Thankfully she had some good sense left in her for she rasped out a giggle and pulled away. Stephen felt a pang of pity for her, but he was in no mood to untangle her knot of sadness. All that stress was weighing on him, and her too apparently. Who knows what she’s been dealing with before his appearance. Maybe she identified herself as the lamia on the entries, and the fatidic entrance of an unknown man – so resembling of his one – had her knees weak at the prospect of a mate.

“Soooo… what do you wanna eat?” she chirped as she sashayed back to the tableware filled with delicacies, “We have meat, salad, rice, fruits, fish and potatoes.” she rummaged around, serving herself a plate of everything.

“I’ll take what you have.”

“Uh-huh, coming!” she replied in a sing-song voice.

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She started allotting a spoonful of everything into a plate until it was crammed full, and then she did it for herself as well, before diving back on the bed next to him with a wide grin.

“Bon appetit.” she handed him his share.

Dinner went on without interruptions or chitchats. Overall, the food was not bad for a culinary-retrogressed race; seasonings and other assortments of sidedish were missing. Nonetheless, he thoroughly enjoyed it. He finished gulping down a jar of water before wiping his mouth off of stray residues of food with a napkin, “Hmm, it was… delightful.” he smacked his lips together and remarked like a veteran food critic.

Jadesin huffed in amusement and played along, “I’m most grateful for your recognition sire Stephen.” she curtsied while tugging up the hem of an invisible skirt.

He nodded in satisfaction, drawing another huff from the lamia matriarch.

“Since we’ve finished eating I’m going to fetch you something that will make you all pumped up with energy in the morning.”

“You’re gonna drug me then?”

“Yep, you have a problem with that?”

“Nope.”

She smiled at him before slithering out. Stephen exhaled, his eyelids fighting against themselves not to drape down. All that information intake and the emotional turmoil that followed did a number on him. Was that how he was supposed to live from now on? What was his role in Relictus?

The red moon… the Red Moon of Doomsday.

No, it was not a coincidence.

Roseline? You there?

No answer rebounded back through the line of their connection. What happened to her? He pursed his lips in contemplation. If she was somewhere deep inside his inner abyss, she must’ve been slumbering, unless she was finding it humorous playing the quiet game with him.

“Whatever.”

His thoughts trailed off and zoomed in on the face of Natasha…and then on that fleeting instant, where their lips had almost connected and wrestled together into the perfect display of the savagery behind their fermenting passion. He sighed, waving off the clouds of images that started looming over him.

Damn introspection.

“I’m back Stephen.” Jadesin tumbled back in with effervescent enthusiasm, “Drink this.” she scooted closer to him, uncorking the lid of the vial in her hand before proffering it to him.

He scanned curiously the lava lamp-like liquid floating inside; it was a pinkish solution with crimson bubbles merrily swimming within, “What if it is poison?”

She shot him a pointed glare, “Are you serious?” she lightly dipped her pinky atop the substance’s surface before plopping the appendage into her mouth where she licked it clean, “Satisfied?”

“Sorry…” he gave her a sheepish look and then proceeded to gobble it down in one shot. It tasted like a fuse of different fruit juices, lacking a bit in sugar but still tasty. He felt a rush of vigor running through his aching muscles, it was a pleasant tingle, “Oh… nice. Thank you.”

“Hmm, we can’t have you limping around in front of the Orcs, can we?”

“Heh, I won’t… well, I’d like to catch some zzz if you don’t mind.” he stretched his arms up with a barely restrained yawn.

“Of course not,” her gaze softened, “This room will be yours from now henceforth, until we set up a more comfortable lodging for you.”

“It’s okay…” he leaned back on the mattress.

“Good… then, goodnight.”

“Sweet dreams Jadesin.”

Just as she was about to walk out and leave her tenant to the curative embrace of sleep, Stephen’s voice stopped her promptly, “Hey…”

“Yes?” she slightly tilted her head back.

“Well… can you tell me when…”

“When what?”

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“When did the monsters begin this cutthroat squabble of theirs?”

Furrowing her brow, she crossed her arms and guessed, “You think that the 100.000 years curse is about to happen again?” when he didn’t answer back she took his silence as a green light and continued, “Hmm… I guess they started behaving heretically around… almost 2 weeks ago, maybe?”

“…”

“Stephen?”

“Nothing, don’t worry. Goodnight Jadesin, let’s trounce them up tomorrow! Haha!” his chuckle rang out as quickly as it faded into nothingness.

Taking that as a clue to make her exit, the lamia matriarch stole a last glimpse of his shadowed silhouette curled on the bed and silently slinked out, closing shut the ragged veils behind her.

- my thoughts:
I've been writing this since yesterday, and the last parts were written when I was tired so I might come back to this and do some edits.
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