Chapter XXI: The Nightmare Man (11/13)Mature

He felt the pain in her voice, and although he had never been so affectionate, he had a desire to hold onto her, to keep her safe and make her pain go away. Realising his wishes, his cheeks flushed. 'I - I think,' he began to stammer, failing to hide his embarrassment from her, 'maybe all of this has a reason...'


'I don't know, but Wilhelmina - my guardian - she used to tell me that nothing's a coincidence. It's all fate, caused by some higher force who knows what they're doing. She never said whether it was a god or not, just that they didn't want bad things to happen, but sometimes they make us struggle to help us learn, or even to give us something the future.' Thinking on it further, Will didn't find it hard to believe Wilhelmina had such faith, in Vincula, what could you do but blame your suffering on divine judgement, or convince yourself it was a portent of prosperity?

'I can hear your heartbeat,' she whispered abruptly, he looked down at her with surprise, she chuckled at herself, 'sorry, it's're so calm, your heartbeat's so steady, like you're not afraid of anything.'

'Don't be fooled,' he said quietly, 'I am scared.'

'...feel mine.' Before Will could question her, she'd grabbed his hand and pressed it to her chest. His cheeks grew hotter, he adjusted his hand upwards so it was more on her collarbone.

'Oh yeah - err - cool,' he said gauchely,

'You can't feel anything there, here,' to Will's reluctance, she grabbed his hand and moved it downwards, Will tried not to think about the fact that he was touching Tayna's breast. 'You can tell I'm scared, I can barely breath thinking about the dangers around me.' Indeed, he felt her heartbeat, hammering on his palm like the vibrations of a drum.

'Maybe I'm just used to danger,' he said, happy to move his hand away and clench it at her back. He'd seen his family murdered and grown up amongst rapists, thieves and murderers, even killed before he was thirteen, it wasn't far-fetched that he'd grown accustomed to bloodshed and tragedy.

'But you shouldn't be,' Tayna argued, pulling away, 'none of us should be okay with all of the things that have happened to us. It's not fair, we're still children. No, actually, we should never be okay with what we've been through, children or adults.' 

'But it has happened,' Will said, as much as he was tempted to mope about how bad his life was, it didn't help. 'The people who control the Evil Eye are watching us, I don't know how we'll fight against that, but we know one thing, they don't know where we are now.'

'How do you think we were cursed in the first place? Does being around them do it? They made us both suffer, maybe that's it.'

'No, I don't think so,' a sudden thought hit Will as he remembered what the woman had said to him, you ran from us... 'I think the curse is rare, Mrs Calibrase was shocked when she found out, she didn't believe me at first. If these people are murderous and notorious, wouldn't it be rare for people to escape them?'

'So, you're saying that because we got away from them, they cursed us?' asked Tayna, sounding more convinced with each passing moment.

'When that woman came into my dream, she sounded...annoyed that we'd escaped. I bet that not many people get away from them, the half-faced man didn't want to let you go, at least.'

'You're right,' she nodded, 'he wanted to take me away with him when he found out I was an Ilmatar. I think that if I hadn't stabbed him and slowed him down, he would have stopped at nothing to get me back...' 

The End

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