It was melodramatic, I agree, but the prince had led us, his people, to believe all was right in the world. He lulled us into an oblivious stupor, lied and most likely forced our husbands, sons, fathers and brothers to fight in a war they hadn't known existed until then.
There was so much I didn't know still and I was already battered by the secrets.
I eventually did rejoin the physical world, but it wasn't very gentle or reassuring. I had been lying in a clearing, sunbeams and butterflies decorating the air, grass and moss lacing the ground. I had meandered in and out of consciousness, and I then I heard footsteps.
Go away, I want to be alone, I thought. But only my powers can hear my thoughts so protesting was useless.
"Miss, the Abyss, she be waiting."
I don't care. My thoughts where bitter and hurt.
"Miiiiissssssss," Whoever was speaking had turned their accented voice sing-songy. "She be waaaaiiitinng."
I realised the voice belonged to a child. I sat up. The most unearthly terrifying child stood at my feet. She was about three feet high but she seemed much bigger. Her black hair was wild and tangled, yet she also looked flawless and combed. There was a feral glint in her unnaturally blue eyes and a quirk in her lips. She was skinny and slight. Her loose, long sleeved blue dress hung off one of her shoulders. I was frozen with fear.
"Miss, I was sayn' that the Abyss be wanting to wake and you be'n too slow ain't helpn'."
She leaned over me and I scrambled up and back, slamming into a tree.
"We is alllll getting impatiiieent!" She had gone back to a sing-songy voice and was grinning from ear to ear at my fright.
She walked over to where I was standing.
"Get away from me!" Panic coated my voice and threw it up three octaves to high.
She plopped down on the ground, then looked up at me. Her voice started to waver. It went dusky. "The Abyss, she be sleeping, but she wants to be waking. Miss, she be waking."
|The strange child.|
Slowly, she began to dribble out of existence. First her eyes trickled out of her face, then her face trickled into her neck, on and on, slowly, carefully. She was liquefying. A living, melting candle. I screamed and told myself to look away but I couldn't. All I could do was scream.
* * * * *
"Why is it taking so long?" The voice said.
The Prince's back was arched, his head thrown back, eyes wide. Mist was streaming out of his mouth and the voice was coming from it. From him.
The prince went back to normal. His throat was raw and sore but he answered the mist. "She got away, I told you. We are looking, but she is evasive. We know that she is at the south end of the Kingdom, somewhere in the forest."
The prince gasped, then went back to the arched back pose. The voice rattled from his mouth once more. "Very well. But hurry. I do not wish to sleep any longer. I do not have much time."
The prince fell to the floor, heaving breath after breath. The possession had come suddenly, and not at the best time. He had been in the dungeons and the Forces would have seen it. The prince got up and strode to the exit. He tried very hard to ignore the sounds the Forces made when they moved in their cells, lost in layered shadows . The sloshy sound as Water shifted around in the stale puddle she slept in. The rustling of cat's ears that came from Earth's cell. The soft noise of... The prince stopped walking, and stood frozen beside Wind's cell. He looked inside. There was no one in it. Just a large hole was where the small barred window had once been. Stone walls. Stones are earth, which means...
He whirled around in a panic, seizing the bars of Earth's cage.
"What -did -you -do!?"
"I let her go." The voice of the speaker was catlike, and each vowel was a hiss. The face was hidden by the darkness of the cell. "She wanted to fly. She has rights. Its your fault we're like this."
The prince jerked back as though she had swung a poisoned blade at him.
"Be quiet!" He snapped at her. Then softer, sadder. "Be quiet."
He turned around and left the dungeon.
For a few moments the only noise was the drip, drip of the water leaking through the roof. Water was the first to speak.
"Thank you." Her voice was soft and gentle with a hint of underlying power.
"I didn't do it for you." Came Earth's huffy reply, "I just wanted to see his Cruelness in shock."
"I know that you cared about her too... Mia."
Earth bristled, "Don't call me that. She is the only one who can call me that."
Water smiled. "And she called me Lina."
Earth smiled flatly, "And you called her Aspen."
There was no answer from Water. Then she leaned forward into the light. Her face was moist and frog like, her hair forever wet and dripping, long seaweed like strands trailing on the ground.
She stared at the dark cell where Earth sat, hidden from view, but you could tell that Water saw her despite that.
"Only I call her that." Water snarled.
Earth didn't move, didn't speak. Neither did Water. Then,
"What?" Anger simmered under her voice.
"I'm Earth right?"
"You're Water, she was Wind..."
"Earth what are you getting at?"
"What I'm getting at is that the three of us, you, me and her, are Three of the Four Forces. So my question is..."
"What Earth, what is your question?" Water was getting impatient.
"Where is Fire?"
"I- I don't know."
Both where confused, and both hoped that whereever Aspen was, she was safe.
To be continued