I gripped Manik’s letter in both hands, my eyes glazing over the words he had inscribed upon its surface. “Irreplaceable”, that’s what he had called me. My heart had swelled at that, despite the sense of fear which gripped me. Now I knew what I had to do; now I knew what I was meant to do and now I knew what the right thing to do was. 7 days had now passed since my Father had made me his offer, tonight would be our ultimatum. I had spent most of the day lying on my bed scanning the letters Manik had sent me, savouring every word. It was so pathetic, reading the same four letters over and over. I looked down my chest at the pregnancy bulging out from underneath my dress. A smile crept across my lips and I rubbed my stomach gently.
“Your Father loves you; you know” I whispered. This was becoming an odd habit of mine, talking to my unborn child as if she could hear me. I turned my heard to the table at my bedside, gazing at the glass of pale purple liquid which stood on its surface. I sat myself up against the head board and took the glass, slowly swirling the liquid in my hand. Suddenly a harsh kick was planted up into the wall of my stomach, causing me to jump slightly, spilling a drop of the liquid onto my chest. This prompted a gentle laugh from me and a soothing pat on the surface of the pregnancy.
“You’re worried about mother aren’t you?” I murmured “You just sit there and... do whatever it is you’re doing”. I brought the glass to my lips, my hand trembling as I did. “Leave the rest to mother”. I downed the liquid quickly, the bitter taste made me grimace slightly before I slammed the glass down on the table. The effect of the potion was quick, my arms became limp and no matter how I tried I could not move my legs. I smiled to myself as my eyelids became heavy bars, muttering a few last words to my child before I disappeared entirely. “Everything is going to be all right...” My heavy eyes slowly closed, everything was going to be alright!
I felt the sting of cold heavy rain on my neck. I was back in the river bed, on my knees staring into the murky mud beneath me. I grinned to myself; obviously the sleeping draught had had the desired effect. I was now back in my nightmares, where the penultimate battle would be fought. I stood up, brushing my now soaked hair back from my face. The place had not changed since the last time. The dam caused by Manik’s fire ball still remained and the weather remained just as inclement. The only difference was that Manik’s body was nowhere to be seen, for this I was grateful. Thunder sounded in the skies above. I didn’t even have to turn around to know he was there; the shivers running up and down my spine were enough of a sign. I heard heavy footsteps, moving closer slowly. The sound of chinking plate was getting louder and louder. Pounding in my ears like the deepest battle drums. Then the sound stopped and all was quiet, only the sound of the rain remained. An almost chilling wave of warm air wafted past my right ear and two heavy harsh hands rested on my shoulders. A cold scratching voice met my ears, as slow and paced as his words were intricately pronounced.
“We are but one mind, linked through this Bitter Bind. Now with this bond unkind, can naught but one of us unwind.” I didn’t speak, move nor breathe. A sudden overpowering sensation of dread came over me, saturating my senses forcing me to remain still. There was silence for a moment or two before he spoke again.
“Have you made your choice? Your life or the lives of your lover and child?”
I straightened myself up, conjuring up the courage to speak.
“Surely you know my decision already Father.” I turned my head slightly to look at him out of the corner of my eye “You are all knowing after all”. I felt his hands pat my shoulders before heard a shallow laugh from him.
“Good girl. Keep this up and you never know I may even let you see your child before I take body and mind for my own”. He let go of me and I heard his footsteps move slowly away from me.
“Come Daughter, we have much to accomplish”. Now it was my turn to smile, turning round to watch him pace away. Upon realising I was not following him, he turned to face me, a look of almost confusion on his face. All the fear was gone now, burnt to ashes by the power of my hate for him.
“No, I won’t follow you.” I smiled at him “I would rather die than become your puppet!”
I could see traces of the fire of rage burning in his eyes now.
“You dare to disobey me?” he laughed “You would sacrifice not only your own life but that of your family to even have the slightest chance at killing me?” I was calm. I looked deep into his eyes and said the only words that I knew would strike the tiny shred of humanity left in him.
“You have no power over me.”
The fires in his eyes burned brighter, his hands clenching into fists.
“On the contrary daughter, I have more power than you could possibly imagine!” he half yelled through gritted teeth. The sight of him in such a rage was one of the greatest feelings I have ever encountered. I laughed harder than I had done in many years.
“You have no power Fortveisle” I shouted at him “You never did and you never will.” To long had I suffered at his hand, to long had I been haunted in my nightmares and to long had my family been endangered by him.
Fortveisle stretched out a clenched hand at me, releasing his index finger to point at me.
“I will bend you to my will Garrena. I will take all your hopes and dreams from you!” he spat the words almost as if they were poison “You will be my slave! Producing countless children for my cause!” An evil grin broke out across his face suddenly, his eyes now burning bright. “Every night I will take you in my arms, and I can assure you I am no tender lover! You will scream and struggle but you cannot stop me Garrena! You can never stop me!” I was silent, his ranting falling on deaf ears. All bark and all bite, but this dog was chained down. I stretched out my hand, tightening my fingers around the air as if it was his heart.
“You asked me to join you!” I screamed at him. Beams of white light suddenly replaced the flashes of lightning, piercing the dark clouds like blades of white light. “You didn’t take me against my will, you asked me to join you!” I grinned at him “You need me to accept you!” The look upon his face was almost as if he was in pain. His hard eyes now darted towards me wildly like a mad animal.
“Time is all it takes whore! Soon you will not be able to resist me!” The clouds above us were breaking up, a bright blanket of bright light covering us and the miles of surrounding woodland. I clenched my hand tighter and looked him directly in the eye, making it clear to him that I feared him no more.
“Then before that time should arise. I swear on the lives of my mother, sister, lover and daughter that I will find you and pay back all the pain you have caused threefold!” The light grew brighter and brighter. They covered the entire landscape with their burning white shine, as if they were setting it alight. I heard rending screams of agony from Fortveisle collapsed to his knees, his arms flailing madly as if attempting to beat the light away from his face. Suddenly his shape began to blur, distorting and pulsating. He almost dissolved in the air. First came his limbs and then his torso, slowly dissipating into a thick shadowy smog. This smog curled into a great shadowy cloud, twisting and writhing in the air like a tormenting animal. The light almost seemed to bend and twist, gliding gracefully in thin strands of burning white fire around the dark cloud. Slowly but surely these stands enveloped the seething black mass. This was followed by one final shriek from the creature within, one last chilling howl.
“Garrena! I curse you! With all the despair that shall descend upon you as you hold your daughters limp shattered body!” I watched as the flames enveloping Fortveisle began to whirl around him, constricting upon around him. Then the screams stopped and the flames broke away leaving no remains. Slowly they twisted into a creeping cloud which glided to my side. The flames distorted themselves, spiralling in intricate patterns to form a tall ghostly figure by my side. From the figure it was obviously female, with the only distinguishing features being the kind face and small bob of what looked to be hair. The figure spoke to me, with a voice I had longed to hear in years.
“Out of the two of us, you were the one I couldn’t imagine ever having kids...” The figure turned her face to me smiling gently. I looked at her, not able to believe my eyes.
“The one and only! Well the one and only before you name your little bun in the furnace”
“How...” I couldn’t bring myself to speak anymore, the guilt was too great. She laughed the sound stimulating tears in my eyes. She looked at me curiously, before sighing and shaking her head a bit.
“What’s this? Since when did you ever cry?”
“I killed you Haili... How can you even bear to be near me?” She broke her eyes from me, her expression becoming more serious.
“Because you’re my sister Garri, and you did the only thing you could have done” She looked at the floor, avoiding eye contact with me. “It was my fault what happened, if I had listened to you about our father... then I wouldn’t have put you through that”. She pulled her face up to look me directly in the eye. “I got the easy route out, while you had to deal with the guilt. If anyone should be crying it should be me.” I was astounded, she had actually matured. She smiled off as her shape broke apart, scattering to the winds like leaves in the breeze. I heard a gentle sigh, followed by her soft voice gliding gently to my ears. “Look after my Niece Garri.”
My eyes slid open, staring at the roof above my bed. I scanned the room quickly; everything was as it should be. I slowly slipped out of the bed, and walked across the cold floor to my satchel. I opened it and drew out a black leather bound book, before moving to one of the chairs and sitting down. The book fell open in my hands at the first page, where the now so familiar verse had been written.
“We are but one mind, linked through this bitter bind. Now with this bond unkind, can only all but one of us unwind.” I didn’t know why Haili had appeared. All I knew was that my dreams were now safe, and the comforting fact that now I knew that my father was not as all powerful as he made out. I rested a hand on my bump and rubbed it gently. This battle was over; the war was yet to come...