The first psychological chapter is here. For all the psychology enthusiasts out there, here is the list of all the psychological phenomenon and theories that come to play in this chapter.
- Freud’s theories on interpretation of dreams.
- Freud’s psycho-sexual theories.
- Kübler-Ross Model of grief.
Honestly, I am worried about how you guys will treat this chapter. All I can do is sort of urge you not to judge Rigel or Faeve too harshly, for they are suffering.
Chapter 15: Surviving Inner Demons
“…Ruin, ruin waits us all when the souls will awaken. The tortured ones will rage through the lands, bringing rot to everything alive. Their anguish and pain will bring down the final judgment of the cruel gods. Take heed, fellow mortal for when the la—”
—Unfinished inscription, ‘Hammer of Gods’, Temple of The End.
“Release the Kraken”, I said in an imperious voice, in English, resisting a light chuckle.
“Aye Aye, Cap’n”, a high voice answered me back in distorted English.
The chains clinked as it dropped down slowly, taking a wood plank down into the sea. A splash informed us of the Kraken’s release.
“First Mate!” I said, again in English, “Find me some grub”.
“Arr Arr, Cap’n”, the small girlish voice declared back, then little patter of feet sounded against the wooden deck as the pair of feet ran away somewhere.
I looked on as the Kraken swam towards the deep sea, water bubbling in its wake.
One wish from the bucket-list, fulfilled.
“What did you do with my Churrin?!” an angry voice asked of me behind my back.
“Arr arr, the Kraken be rel—I mean I let it go”, I answered back, tilting my head. “It wasn’t big enough to feed you anyway, Sullin”.
The Kraken in question bobbed up on the sea surface, its small cylindrical body glowed a dull white. Yeah. It was actually a small octopus type of animal with 6 tentacles on each end, all together not more than 3 feet end to end. But hey! I can make do with imagination, can’t I?
“Corrin is going to be mad. He caught that thing on his fishing hook”, Sullin tightened the rigging on the secondary mast behind me, “Why did you let it go anyway?”
“Because, my friend”, I imagined that I gave an appropriate pirate-y drawl, “I always wanted to release a Kraken”.
It had been three days since the Duchy Guard ship and the Fishermen had attacked us. I had been asleep for two of those days, passed out in the Captain’s Cabin. Faeve had informed me when I woke up that I was dangerously close to death. Even her Elven magic and the connection between an Urvan-ere and an Aivern was unable to contain the damage on my body. Why the fucking hell am I always dangerously close to death!?
Yes, that was a thing. When an Urvan-ere and Aivern make a contract, they may share AP and…other stuff. I wish there wasn’t the other stuff though. A cold shiver ran through me at the thought of it. Dammit!
Turns out that Faeve had been healing me continuously for two days while I hovered between life and death. The battle had taken a lot from me. My hands curled into an inadvertent fist, and it will take more, in the times to come.
Let’s not think about that right now.I took a deep breath and unclenched my hands and rested it lightly on the Nampar’s coarse wooden Wheel. Imma pirate, yo!
“Don’t turn it the wrong way”, Sullin yelled from somewhere behind the mass of ropes for the rigging. He was always tinkering with the rigging. Sometimes I wondered if he was a Shipo-phile…if there was such a thing.
“How’s Kurrick’s Tooth today, Sullin?” I asked him loudly, the wind beat at my face, making me blink.
“She is sailing fine, Torr-Eridan”, he yelled back. “Such strong masts…and the beautiful, fluttering sails can’t grow wrong! Look at the way she goes, all smooth and hard. The motion is beautiful! Almost like sliding on wet—
The roaring wind took away the rest of his praise of the Nampar. That sounded almost obscene.
I sighed, yep, definitely a Shipo-phile.
When I had lost consciousness that night, I had heard shouts before blacking out. Turned out that the mothership was carrying some prisoners. Four Maevarins, or the beastmen and a single Naval Guard. When Faeve had set the gunpowder room on fire, the explosion had ripped a large hole in the Ship’s hull. It had been sinking fast, when Faeve had found the prisoners. They had been shouting in desperation for their lives, the water slowly increasing. I had asked Faeve why she saved them since she wasn’t the do-gooder sort. She just replied that the small Maevarin girl had reminded her of someone.
“Torr, I brought some food”, a lank woman called me from behind. “Corrin sent some dried fish Bakhaein”.
“Right. What does he send for dinner, and lunch?”, I asked her, tapping the wheel with my fingers.
“Dried fish Bakhaein”, the woman replied swishing her bushy, striped tail. Severe malnutrition was visible on her body, the cheekbones hollow and pale. Her tattered robe encased a skeletal figure, her sagging chest jutting out of her visible rib-cage.
“So, is there any reason to announce it every time?” I asked, a bit miffed. My body—aches like hell. The limbs feel like they would fall apart.
“I…I am sorry”, the woman almost prostrated. “P…please forgive me”.
“It’s okay. Don’t do that”, I said rubbing my neck, my voice straining, “I am just…not feeling well”. I don’t want to be here either, dammit!
She just stood there, nodding. Her deep breathing was apparent from her impoverished frame. Prisoners were harshly treated here.
My jaws clenched as I stared at her. Well not like prisoners in our world are treated much better most of the time. And they were of same race to boot.
Part of her harsh treatment was due to her different race. Surprisingly, that didn’t seem to have stopped the guards from raping her systematically throughout her confinement. Funny how these things work. Both in this world and ours. I tapped my fingers on the table. Get going already! My head is splitting apart! I rubbed at my temples to dispel the throb that had crept up.
She stood there looking downwards, she knew what she had to do. She shook a little every time I ordered her to do this.
“Did you bring the food directly from the cook?” I asked her. She jolted up hearing me speak. Honestly, every single time…
“Y…Yes Torr”, she quavered while she spoke. To make her so afraid…the days spent in that ship’s hold must have been hellish. I pity you…but that doesn’t mean I can take chances, can I?
No, I can’t.
“Forl! Forl!” I hailed. My voice carried out through the open door, spreading onto the deck. The woman flinched at my loud voice, her tail stood on its end and shook like a leaf.
They really are very scared of me, aren’t they? They all heard the screams and howls the past nights. The girls at the whorehouse were…too nice to put up with my screaming till the Shivang and Apopris arrived.
The small girl from before came running, her rag like dress fluttered in the strong sea breeze. She looked up at me with bright eyes, her fingernails cracked and blackend with grime.
“Aye Cap’n!”, she said in English. I had taught her a few English words. Mostly to call me Cap’n and aye aye. And occasionally shout “Ahoy! and some choice sailor cuss— Ok maybe shouldn’t have taught her that. My lips pulled down in an awkward grimace. Oh well.
“Call Corrin from the kitchen”, I ordered the little girl. “And fast, the food is getting cold”.
She bowed and left. Who taught her to do that? I looked on as she ran, her bare feet struck against the wood.
I looked at the beastwoman again. Her form trembled when she felt my gaze on her. Pity, huh? Do I…even have the right to pity someone? I sighed. No, after the things I have done…
My head felt like a separate entity, pulsating, thudding. Ugh this bloody fucking headache! Why won’t it stop!
The somewhat fat fisherman stood in front of me, a Fish Gutting knife in his hand. His oily mustache drooped over his sun burnt lips. The woman stood beside him, shaking in the knees.
“Do it”, I ordered.
Ugh. The headache reached a new crescendo. My head felt like a sack of rocks being hit with a wet towel. Damn this shit! Dammit all to hell! I held my head in my hands as it felt like my brain was pounding against my skull. Fuck! Aspirin doesn’t even exist in this world.
They both came forward, and took the spoon dipped in the bowl. With slow sips, they each took a bite. The cook, Corrin was steady, singing a song about sea breeze and loose women. The beast-woman shrunk back , closing her eyes when she took the sip.
I waited…and waited. After some time had passed, the cook looked up at me, his gaze one of silent accusation. Why…you don’t need to look at me like that. I…I have no choice!
“Torr-Eridan…can I be going te de Kicchen?” he asked while he wiped his knife on his clothes, breaking eye contact. His feet shuffled as he looked everywhere, everywhere but me.
“Go”, I propped my hands on the table and resting my chin on it, “And send Faeve to my cabin”.
I stared at his retreating back. He paused and turned once to look at the beast woman, pity in his eyes. What are you looking at! This was necessary, Yes it is! The cook was originally one of the fishermen of Kurrick’s Tooth, and its cook. He had been hiding in the pantry when the fight had broken out. He had been found out when he came out screaming after the Guard’s mothership had caught fire.
He had said that he opposed when Vinter and his crew were planning to betray me and Faeve. He actually tried to stop them when they tied up Faeve to rape her later. The fucking bastards were waiting for the Guard Ship to take me away to have their way with her. They were apparently planning, in Corrin’s halting words, “to meak de elf-girl de shipwife”. Fucking assholes.
My hands clenched when I recalled what Corrin had said. When I asked him what a shipwife was, he told me that they were usually whores or slave women who were taken aboard the ship. The men used her during the long, lonely voyages on the sea. All of them. Due to being subject to regular rape and abuse by anything from 10 to 25 men, no ‘shipwife’ lived more than one or two voyages. The only fucking reason those assholes couldn’t rape Faeve was because the Marine Guards had come too soon. Bloody bastards! How can they—in a fit of rage, I threw the spoon in my hands at the other side of the room. It crashed against a metal container and bounced off, the empty vessel ran rang out with a clanging vibration. The beast woman gave a short whimper and shrunk back, her hands over her head.
Fuck! I need to control my fucking temper. I was losing it without the Apopris to act as a mood elevator.
I took a deep breath to calm myself down. Easy, I told myself, just like the councellor taught me. Easy, deep breaths, Rigel. At any rate, Corrin was a compatriot of the Fishermen. The only reason he was kept alive was because he knew this ship more than any of us…and it was forbidden to kill a Cook on seas. Even Faeve didn’t dare kill him for fear of a curse. It was superstition, but I could see the reason. Cooks and Doctors were the most valuable ship-members in High Seas. But I had seen Corrin tremble when he had told the tales of his apparent innocence. Innocence, huh? Fucking bullshit! He too was planning to rape Faeve, I can see it in his eyes when he looks at her!
There was no reason to trust him. I fully expected him to try poison me and Faeve, as revenge for his shipmates. I will be rather surprised if he didn’t. I can’t trust him, I can’t, I can’t, I CAN’T!
I slammed my hands down on the table, the anger having won again. The beast woman further shrunk back into a corner, her trembling tail drooping between her legs. Just how much space does that corner have?
“Go”, I thundered at the woman, “your work is done here, Tafina”.
She flinched and then scampered away in fright, her claws scratched the wood floor. I grabbed the wooden bowl and drank the fish soup from it directly, wolfing down every last morsel.
The cabin was enshrouded in silence, except for the roar of the sea. I know you people are listening on what happens here! As if to answer my thought, quiet footsteps born of padded hindlegs followed Tafina. Just as I thought! Beastmen were listening in on what was going on in the cabin. Well, why won’t they? I am not exactly a paragon of kindness.
I stared at the wooden bowl, now divested of its contents. Bits of fish still stuck to its rim. This regular poison check was necessary with each meal, for the one who cooked it and the one who brought it. Faeve can withstand poison, not me. Besides, last time, their anesthetic, the sleep-inducing oil had affected us, so it wasn’t that Faeve was resistant to everything. I need to be careful, I can’t lose my life out here. Those fucking bastards can poison us at any moment!
I sighed . I wish I had some of that oil now, I need to sleep peacefully.
Silence reigned in the small cabin, bouncing off its walls. The incessant roar of the seas was a irritating annoyance to my ears as it carried our little ship forward, tossing and turning it as it pleased.
God! I hate the seas.
I paced in silent frustration in the small cabin. We were hopefully riding towards the village of Forril. Hopefully, Since the only one who knew the sea route is the Cook and the Naval Guard who was found in chains in the mothership, along with the other prisoners.
My hands gripped my shirt tightly. I can’t trust these people…but there is no way without relying on them, is there? Damn it. Damn it all to hell!
I didn’t turn around at the soft footsteps that entered the room. My fingers unclenched and worked at the buttons. I winced at the sharp stab of pain when I took off my shirt. Rubbing at my shoulder, I sat on the small bed. A soft shuffling came behind me as Faeve sat kneeling on the floor, her palms on my back. Her cool skin wrenched a shiver from my bare back, her fingers ran over the numerous scars and wounds from battles.
Soft torrents of AP flowed from her hand into my body, fixing the wounds bit by bit. It felt like an incurable itch under my skin that wound through my body, raced through my veins.
Shit! I ran my hands trough my hair as the dull headache started again, coming in waves. Just why won’t it stop?
I held my head with my hands, rubbing it. The sea-vessel pitched and rolled fitfully, making bottomless pits in my stomach. Faeve’s hands ran over my skin, like playing a piano. The tickling sensation elicited a shiver from my body.
“Did you say something?” I asked. I thought I heard something…
“No”, she said curtly, her fingers like running water on my back.
“You don’t have to heal me if you don’t want to”, I said in a quiet voice. I could feel her shudder every time she was near me, fidgeting. She slunked away from me whenever she encountered me outside of the healing sessions. It’s not my fault, dammit!
“Its alright”, she replied in a strained voice, “it needs to be done”.
I didn’t reply. My body had been shred to ribbons in the fight. I don’t have much of a choice in this, do I? I wouldn’t survive if Faeve didn’t keep healing me. But…it came with consequences. Very damning ones. I punched the bed, making Faeve jolt up.
“How bad is it, Faeve?” I asked her, quiet resignation in my voice.
Her hands stopped supplying AP, fingers curled into a fist. Her body trembled, the sensation passing through my back. Her fingers clenched and unclenched lightly a few times on my skin, before she resumed the healing.
“Bad enough to make me want to kill you”, she said in a quiet voice. “Every time I heal you, the feedback gets stronger and stronger. The connection is now not only passing on your emotions during sleep…but it seeps in when you are awake too”. A deep sigh escaped her lips.
It’s not like you are the only one suffering!
She got up, meaning to leave, the session over for now. I didn’t turn back towards her. She stood there for a moment staring at my back. After a while, her receding footsteps reached my ears. I don’t know how to fill the uneasy silence between us.
Her voice floated in from the doorway, “I fear there might soon be a time when I won’t be myself. Before that, Erid—I mean Rigel, I will kill you”. Her footsteps were now heavier as they left, making the wood creak.
The cabin was silent once again, the sea a gentle sway. The rolling and pitching had stopped.
I looked out through the small window, the turquoise sea glimmered in the sunlight, as if to mock my helplessness.
I really hate the seas.
This reminded me of the last time I was on a boat. It had been years ago, when I was just a little kid. My parents, sister and I had gone to Okinawa Sea for a family vacation. We had laughed, we played and acted like any other ordinary, happy family. Yes, acted.
Truth was, that our family had been falling apart for a long time. The fights between our parents had grown routine. The angry voices had become a regular occurrence every night. But, never in presence of other people. The façade had to be maintained. At any cost. My fist clenched as I thought of the times past, when me and my sister huddled in a corner, scared at out own parents. I still remember my sister Yuki’s tear stained face, as she trembled. A cold chill spread through me even after all this years.
But that night in Okinawa…shouts drifted in from parents room, adjoining ours. Our room was being attended by a bellhop. He stiffened at the oddly distinct voices…accusing, arguing, threatening. He jolted up, apparently thinking it was rude listening in on the guests…even more so in front of their children and continued on in his work. His fitful demeanor an indication that he was pointedly ignoring the voices in the next room. Yuki’s face had gone ashen while she fitfully kept looking between the bellhop and the wall between our rooms. Was it then that I wanted to become the older brother? A strange dull pang spread though my chest.
That night, I had heard my sister cry herself to sleep again, like she had done on so many nights before. I had wondered then, Who should I cry to? Then the next morning…had come the unexpected. I sighed as I remembered that ghastly morning. The tears, the terror. I shook my head to dispel the memories. I…why am I thinking of this now? I was past that wasn’t I?, so why…why now?
Is the sea so salty because it held the tears of others?
I stared through the cabin window. The bright blue sea carried on its indifference, unrepentant.
My fist cracked on the bed again, the bed again, I really hate the seas!
I got out of the cabin. I needed to relieve myself. The air inside was stifling.
The cool sea breeze played through my hair. The salt spray wet the deck…and I was being poetic to gloss over the fact that my piss was flying through the air downwind into the sea. Take that, fucking sea! I shook my head, It is childish, I know it is! But…
I stared at the blue waves. I know it has done nothing, it had no connection to what happened with
my parents. The sea breeze picked up again, dancing on my skin. At least the sea lets me complain
and blame it. A girl with flowers in her hair flashed through my mind. She wanted to reach the seas, didn’t she? A tight knot crept up my throat. I pulled up my pants. Sorry about that, Arin.
The sea glowed a deep orange as the sun dipped in the horizon, like a ball of fire slowly submerging into the womb of the seas, returning to where it came from. I stood at the starboard watching the sky darken in its urge to match the water beneath.
“Cap’n Gorn! Cap’n Gorn!”, Forl called at me from behind. She had taken to call me Gorn, which apparently meant big brother in Garahoshi, the Civet-cat language.
“Which one is my mother? Can you show me again?”, she jumped up and down on deck while she pointed at the starry sky overhead, “I miss her”. Her large eyes were red. Has she been crying again?
I hoisted her up on my shoulders, the small frame light for my strength. Then I held her finger and pointed to a cluster of six stars arrayed near the horizon.
“There she is, Forl, watching over you”, I jolted away my hands, taking care not to let my bare skin touch her. I pulled down the gloves even more. She will rot if my cursed hand touches her!
My spine ached in protest. Even her light weight is making my bones creak. Ugh. My body…it’s starting to hurt again. I shifted my weight on my other leg, trying to endure the pain.
“Will the bad men get her there too?” she asked, her voice lowering. “W…will they do all the—
“No, Forl. The sky is safe” I interrupted before she could finish. Fucking bastards! My stomach lurched at the thought of…what had been done to her mother.
Even the assassin’s impassionate mask had cracked when Faeve recounted how she had found Forl’s mother. In a voice like tortured metal she told me how Forl’s mother was found chained in the mothership’s hold, blood and bile all over her. Her skin furrowed by whipmarks was left to fester as she sat in her own shit and urine. My gloved hand clenched in silent fury, beasts, fucking beasts, all of them! Forl’s animal ears twitched in the cool breeze. No, beasts are better, far better than we humans could ever be.
The Naval Guards had seemingly raped her day after day, in that damp hold devoid of sunlight. Fucking bastards! She had been left to rot, her body broken, beaten and tortured. She had nothing left in her body but bones stretching taut against the sickly, dirty skin. My teeth gnashed against each other. How…how can men be so cruel?…Even Arin was….
Was I any better?
The female Knight’s wails echoed in my mind. I…I left them there to be eaten…killed! My stomach lurched as a dull chill spread through my chest.
My brains felt like it would burst out of its skull. So loud…can’t a…anyone hear my head exploding?
Empty eye sockets stared at me from the room. Wha…what have I done? The wails continued in my mind. It…it was necessary dammit! Yes! Talaviel’s lackeys would kill me if I didn’t—
“Are you okay?”, Forl jarred me out of my train of thought. Her violet eyes reflected the starlight back, shining akin to a beast’s. Her sensitive catlike ears twitched atop her head, having picked up on my unease.
My hands supporting Forl’s legs had dug in tighter, unknowingly. They had burned her mother with cinders. Her tail had holes in them made with iron spikes. And at last, the poor woman was dead when Faeve had found her, blisters and pustules all over her broken down body.
“Nothing, Forl”, I assured her. “Everything is alright”. I felt my heart wound down from its laboured efforts.
The small girl nooded, turning to look back at the stars. A streak of tear ran down her cheeks, sooty with grime.
And this girl had seen it all happen to her mother, from a corner of the ship hold.
Ugh. I unclenched my fingers. My palms hurt from where my nails had dug into it unknowingly.
Do I even have the right…to feel anger?
A crippled man’s image flashed through my mind, while a madman tortured him with his sword. Whistles ripped the air as the madman laughed in savage glee.
I…I probably don’t. The headache dulled down as a strange pain crept through my heart. Heavens know, I don’t.
The same routine of poison checking happened at night, in light of the Ker’dals. Corrin and the beast woman, Tafina stood at a corner, tasting the food. As always, the woman trembled uncontrollably while eating.
“You shouldn’t disrespect a woman like that!” a harsh voice sounded from the door, “You Torr, are a—
“Stop it, Silas-Gaharin. I am okay. This is expected”, the beast woman Tafina kept the bowl down quickly went over to the man and kneeled down, her head on his feet. “Please calm down, Silas-Gaharin”.
“I…I can’t! to see my people disgraced like this, as a pack leader how can I—”,the Pharin, the Wild Dog beastman spoke up, his furs bristling. He was another of the prisoners in the ship. He didn’t really agree with my methods.
“The humans have disgraced us enough, I can’t let this go on!”, he growled again, as his lips peeled up, revealing his fangs.
Not this again. “You should have protected them then”, I replied, banging on the table with my hands, “I heard that you begged for your life in exchange of your own people’s?” How dare he accuse me when he had let the travesty continue on Forl’s mother?
“Lies! Lies speak the demon!” he growled back, “Fight me if you—”
I bolted up, a hot lump in my throat, “So says the ‘leader’ who watched as they raped one of his—”
“That’s enough, you two.”, Faeve had heard the commotion and came in, “Pharin, leave”.
Gaharin stared at Faeve his claws drawn taut. Then he nodded and slunk away grumbling. His light footsteps receded into the distance, nails scratching into the wood. They really respect Faeve for saving them, huh?
The poison testing was done, so I asked the two to leave. Corrin and Tafina bowed and left with quick steps. Who the fuck is teaching them to bow, dammit?
Faeve took the chair opposite to me. She drew closer the other bowl set on the table. I nodded at her to let her it had been tested for poison too.
My face turned in a grimace. I rubbed at my forehead. Ugh, the headache.
I picked up a piece of fish with my fingers – it fell apart on the table, blackening fast. Acid smoked though the piece, consuming it. Acrid smoke curled up from the decomposing flesh.
Shit. I forgot my gloves.
“Can’t you still control it?”, Faeve asked while offering me a spoon, “Its not a Aivern power as far as I know”.
I snatched the spoon from her hands. I knew what it is.
Her eyebrows arched at my impatience. “This must be one of your god’s powers”, Faeve whispered, her voice died out midway.
Oh yeah. The feedback from our connection.
The connection seeped parts of my memories and emotions into Faeve, sporadically. With each healing, the connection was increasing, feeding back more and more to her. By now, she knew about Zain and Astria. But not that I wasn’t from this world. She just thought I was their priest. I don’t know what she will do if she knew I was an otherworlder.
“That’s one inconvenient power”, I said while slurping food into my mouth, “I wish I could shove it in their throats”. I dug the spoon in with force enough to make soup splatter on the table. Fuck this!
Her mouth curved into a thin line as she watched the soup drain down the side of the table, dripping into the wood. Then she reached over and tapped my fingers , “But it doesn’t effect me so…it could be an Aivern power too”.
No it isn’t. It is the Gift of Sacrifice.
I knew that because I could sense it in my mind. The power had probably activated because of the sacrificed souls in the room and me hovering between death’s door myself. Half of its payment was my own life force. Goddammit! It was because of this power draining me that the wounds weren’t healing fast! A power I don’t even want!
Whatever I touched with my left hands, if it was a living thing, it disintegrated like something was digesting it with acid. Black rot and poison claimed the living matter. Right now I was controlling it by wearing a glove on my hand since it didn’t affect dead or inorganic matter. I wasn’t sure, the fish was dead too but it still affected it, didn’t it?
I tapped the table with my fingers, pondering about the hand. If I wasn’t careful, I might kill people with this. I have to be cautious; specially around Forl.
Bloody bother. I switched to eating with my other hand. It was awkward guiding the spoon into my mouth. More food spilled as my hands trembled. Pain stabbed through my shoulder while I ate shakily. Even my own hand isn’t mine anymore. Fuck it to seven hells!
Faeve stopped eating as she stared at me eating sloppily. She opened her mouth to say something.
“Don’t”, I barked harshly, “let it be”.
Her eyes hardened, “how dare yo—” she trailed off midway as she stared at my face. She froze for a while. Is her hand…shaking? Her face went back to the usual impassionate mask of the assassin as she started eating again. Nah, just my imagination…probably.
I put another spoonful of fish in my mouth. I wonder what expression she saw on my face.
Our bowls clinked as we ate in silence. The amber light of the Ker’dals fell on the black sea, creating a spot of light. Darkness rushed in to swallow the small patch of light. The eternal game between light and shadows played on as the audacious ship raced on through the dark seas, under the light of moons and stars.
The Nampars were basically a double masted ship of 60-70feet. The main mast was quite high, double sailed. The secondary mast was shorter but double sailed too. Kurrick’s Tooth was built for speed and strength. According to the cook, the ship had two purposes, catching fish and transporting it. I sat on the starboard, watching glowing fish breach the surface and disappearing into the depths. A whole shoal of these Karrkir were following us for quite sometime, in midst of their migration. Corrin wanted to fish using the two ‘wings’ of the ship, but I stopped him. It would slow the ship down. Besides, who would man the wings? We were not fishermen!
The patchwork deck echoed with soft footsteps. Faeve was walking towards me, her hands folded on her chest. The ship groaned as it dived in a deep pitch, the shoal of fish momentarily dived into the depths of the wave. The ship wont hold out for much long. The salvaged wood just isn’t good enough for a rough ride. I turned towards Faeve as the last of the glowing red lights from the Karrkir vanished.
Faeve stood on the blackened part of the deck, where I had burned the Naval Guards alive. It was only due to the flame retardant Xecchian wood that the ship still sailed in one piece. The colour of the wood was different in places as dfitwood from the mothership was used to fix what as damage din battle. The sails flapped harder in the wind, fluttering noisly. I tightened the sail rigging, in the way Sullin had taught me. The effort caused me to wince, as pain lanced up my arms.
“It’s time, Rigel. Come to the Cabin”, Faeve called out, the wind eating at her words. Her face seems to be made of chiseled marble, like a staute dedicated to an indifferent goddess.
While we walked to the Captain’s Cabin that stood on the back end of the ship, Sullin was fishing with a hook. He still wore his Naval Guard outfit, even though they were the ones who had imprisoned him for insubordination. It was partly due to his effort that the rest of the prisoners were alive.
“Tal’hael, Sullin”, I called out, greeting him goodnight.
“Tal’hael”, Torr-Eridan”, he greeted back, jumping down from the railing he sat on. He traced my eyes on his uniform and shook his head, “I still am proud to be a Naval Guard, Torr. It was my pride as a guard that made me stand against my superiors in their atrocities”.
I sighed. “The world doesn’t reward the righteous, Sullin”, I remarked while I walked away, “you will most likely be court-martialed”.
He got back to his fishing, taking his seat once again on the guardrail, “Even so, Torr, even so”.
The wind made the sails boom, as if to refute his argument. The man carried on, indifferent to the world around him. You are a fool, Sullin. A fool I wish I could be.
The Cabin was dark and damp. I lay on the low bed face-down while Faeve healed my arm. The arm had shattered into pieces, and still ached even after she healed it. Almost every bone in my body had broken in the fight. The bed grew damp with the sweat that poured off my body.
“How did you even fight, Eridan?” she asked while she ran her fingers down my spine, sending tingles through out my body.
My head—splitting apart.
“The gift”, I spoke in the dark of the cabin, the shadows hiding my contorted face as hot pain lanced up my body again. “The gift of might doesn’t really raise my physical capabilities Faeve, it…releases it”.
She was silent, as she shuddered while running her fingers down my spine, the skin scabbed and wounded. Memories flowing into her again?
Her green eyes stared at my back, urging me. I know, I know! We kept up a conversation every time we were alone, so that the silence didn’t stretch. With silence came the memories, with memories the pain. Our connection forced Faeve to feel the mental agony I faced every night. My hands bunched up the sheet under me. No one deserves to go through the pain I do.
“Human body has…limits set into them. Rather all the races probably have them. The pain threshold is set much lower than the body could take, so that no one hurts themselves. When in danger, we often do things we aren’t capable of doing, right? It is when the limit is released, making us think we have a sudden gust of power”, I spoke while I traced pattern on the wood floor with my other hand.
Faeve removed her hands, her breath caught, “That means…”
“Yes. The Gift of might has been removing my limit consistently. My body can function to its limit…which also means, that I am always tottering close to crossing it”.
The Cabin fell silent again, the wind suddenly picked up, the gust caught the sail, making it boom.
How long do I have to stay in this fucking sea?
I winced as more AP wound through me, the sensation prickly and at times, painful.
I hadn’t told Faeve, because I wasn’t sure if there is the concept of hormones in this world, but from what I understood…the gift of might messed with my Adrenaline too. Everyone got a rush of Adrenaline when they faced danger, but—mine might be a few times more. As a result, I was faster, stronger and more aware. But…I took a deep breath. My lungs sucked in more air than I ever could back in Earth. I became more aware of the world around me, the sounds sharper, the smells more intense. More Adrenaline also meant that my body was in constant state of excitement, to make me battle ready.
But as always, the power comes with a price. The higher adrenaline meant that I lose danger perception and perception of pain to some extent. This means I could withstand much more pain than others and stay dauntless in face of danger. That is the power part. The price was, without a sense of danger, I would not feel the need to protect myself. Without a sense of pain, I wouldn’t try to move my hand out of fire. While Faeve healed my other arm, I traced patterns on the wood floor with my fingers. Why the fuck do I have to go through this fucking shit?
Though the gifts have not gone to that extent yet, but I realized during the naval battle; the fucking gods want a battle machine, but they don’t intend for it to last long. My teeth gnashed against each other as my hand that nails scratched the wood floor.
The wind and sea howled all around us. The Nampar crashed against the turbulent seas, prone to breaking apart any moment.
“How is the food and water situation, Faeve?”, I asked quietly, turning over. Her hands were on my stomach, mending the stab wounds.
She chewed her lips before answering, fatigue evident in her voice, “Not very good. A week at most. Most of the supplies from the Naval ship sunk before they could be salvaged”.
“Will it hold out till we reach?”, I asked turning away.
“No”, she mumbled.
“Be prepared to desert then. I won’t die here”
She didn’t reply, her lips settled into the emotionless expression of the assassin she was. Quiet flows of AP, or Voice as she called them kept entering my body. How long… till I am fixed?
The sounds of her stressed breathing bounced around in the dark cabin, like some strange lullaby. I closed my eyes as the pains started again, making my head throb. I ran fingers through my hair. Just have to grit my teeth till it’s over, huh?
I woke up screaming. When had I fallen asleep? The narrow bed was wet with perspiration, my cries still echoing in the room.
I panicked, beating around the room with my hands. My hands toppled unidentified things. My stomach sank as I scrambled around, blind. Fuck! fuck! fuck!
Shi…Shivang, where is the fucking shivang?
My hands stopped searching. In my panic, I had forgotten that the Shivang and Apopris were lost during the battle. My heart still throbbed loudly, a slight pain spreading through my chest. I curled my hands and banged them on the floor.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
Bang! My heart almost leapt out of my mouth as a panicked whimper escaped my mouth. The wild banging continued from the closed metal door. Someone howled like a madman, scratching and pounding on it. I got up—and fell down face first, my legs numb from terror.
Argh! My face hurt like hell, the wood floor dug against my jaws. I stretched my hands and clawed on the wood floor. Bang! Bang! Why won’t the fucking banging stop! I crawled towards the door one push at a time. I held the metal doorknob with my hands. The cold metal sent shivers down my spine. I propped myself up, holding the knob. I calmed my breath while the wild pounding continued near my ears. I took a deep and opened it with a metallic screech.
Someone jumped on me, punching me straight in the face. I tumbled backwards, unable to keep my balance. I kneeled down, holding my cheek. The punch had a spot of warmth on my cold cheeks. My hands came wet with scant blood. What the…
The lights silhouetted a trembling Faeve standing at the doors, her crossbow raised.
“Stop it!” she screamed, “Stop it stop it stop it!”. Her whole form shook like a leaf, as if her knees would buck and give way any second. Her clothes were disordered, as wild flaxen hair stuck to her face, wet with perspiration.
I could guess what had happened. She…has a fucking crossbow! I rolled forward like lightning and kicked her. She fell backwards, the crossbow loosing a bolt at the sky. I slammed the door on her face. I panted at the strain on my wounded body. I held the doorknob fast, my breath ragged.
“Faeve…Drop the crossbow”, I said gasping from behind the thin metal door, “tell me what happened”.
I need to keep this girl sane. She is the key to Vaegar. If I didn’t go to the Tree of Life with her…I will lose my magic! Fuck! fuck! just how much has it progressed? Can she even think clearly right now?
There was no sound, except for silence. I waited with bated breath. After a while something dropped to the ground and jangled.
“Let me in, I won’t shoot”, she said in a strained voice, her breathing uneven.
I opened the door, with my hands on my Wakizashi. Careful, Rigel. She isn’t exactly…in a right frame of mind.
She came in and looked at my dagger, her eyes like obsidian. Her eyes trailed all over me, but didn’t meet mine. She had fixed her appearance, a sheen of perspiration coated her body.
“Drop the bow, and we can talk”, I told her in a hoarse voice, readying a defensive stance. My knees still hurt from the fall, throbbing lightly. Fucking shit, even my head is hurting again.
She passed the bow to me and sat down, while closing the door.
We sat on the wood floor. We stared at each other in silence. Her lips parted a few times and closed. With a final sigh she started talking.
Her voice trembled as she fidgeted with her fingers, “How do you live like this?”
Shit shit shit! Just as I thought!
“Practice”, I replied. “And bottles of Shivang and Apopris”. My heart started to settle in its usual rhythm as I calmed myself down. My hands came away clammy with sweat. Fuck! fuck! fuck! I don’t need this right now!
“They were…ghastly, Rigel. They wa…wanted to claw me apart. Rotten, dead bodies stared at me from the depths! Their hands all bloody and swollen”, she shook like a leaf, “and they…they wanted me, my soul!” Her breath quickened again, her hands shaking.
“Not you, Faeve. They…they wanted me. The one who killed them”. Oh god! no, no no!
“Why! in the name of Uruth, why!” she wailed frantically, “how…how are you even alive?” her green eyes went wide, as both her hands clenched hard on the wood floor.
I ran my hands through my hair, “Healthy amount of killing and loathing. It’s surprising that hate can be so powerful”, my voice grated against the darkness of the cabin.
“Your dreams…they, they want to drag you down with them. To damn you like you damned them. They are not merely nightmares. They are making you like them!” her wails bounced on the walls, threatening to consume me.
“Again! Again!”, she kept howling while pointing her shaking finger at me, “they want blood! They keep staring at me with dead eyes, every person you ever killed! They…they want to strip you apart, make me bleed and rot!”
The bind of the connection is making her think they want her, isn’t it? She is seeing them like how they appear to me. I…I don’t want to hear it!
My own body started to shiver as I spoke, my hands clammy against the wood floor underneath , “Faeve, that is the last gift, Sacrifice. All the things I have killed…had part of their—souls absorbed into me. Whenever I kill, am invisible wave passes into me, jarring me to the bones. I had told you that. I think it’s the souls of who I killed”. My voice jarred strangely as I strained to keep my voice calm. I…It’s not something new. I…I have these dreams every night, so…so why Am I—
“Ho…how can you live with yourself? When they stand in front of you and speak of how you killed them? How they will torture you? The memories of death…they are there in your mind, Speaking every night! Falaha fend!” she wrapped arms around herself, as if to protect from invisible specters. Her body looked so little now, shivering against the wooden wall.
S…Stop it! I don’t want them either! I don’t want these…these nightmares!
“That is why I take Apopris and Shivang every night. They numb me to sleep. The mo…monsters don’t dwell there”, I wrung my hands as I spoke. I…I can’t do anything about it, dammit! I don’t want to see them either!
They don’t come when I am awake, they can’t cross the border to my mind, when I am asleep though…it’s a whole different situation. In this world, dreams are doorways.
Her hoarse whispers rang against the walls, “They want to take me too! They want to feast on my flesh, using my broken body to satisfy themselves!”. “Falaha preserve me. Protect me”, she curled up on the floor and shook like a newborn fawn.
S…stop it! Please, I don’t…I kept my hand on her shoulders, “Faeve—
“Don’t touch me you monster! You stole their souls!” she flung my hand away, cowering in a corner, “Let…let me be. Your dreams are eating into my mind, corrupting them. Not only them…you too. The connection is strong. Too strong”. Little sobs wracked her tiny body as she kept wailing.
“What, what the fuck do you mean?” I asked. Wha…what is she talking about? Don’t tell me…
“Your rage, your pains…are flowing into me. I can’t think straight when you sleep. So…so much pain and anger”, she huddled in the corner, “My mind is eroding…you are eating into it. I fear I will not remain myself like this”, her lips trembled with every word.
“How much did you see, Fucking tell me! How much dammit?” I asked with a heavy voice, my teeth grit each other. This cant be happening, no, no, NO!
“I…I don’t know. So much blood…so much…a girl, a girl dressed in white hanging at the cross”, she started sobbing again, her tear streaked face glistening in the scant moonlight.
Shit. Did she…
“She was crying…praying. You couldn’t save her”, Faeve’s voice reached a fevered pitch, “Why didn’t you save her? Why did you fail!”
Stop! Do…don’t remind me! Stop, dammit!
“They all say you are weak, the girl, the dead, all of them”, she was hysterics now, her voice a loud shrill, “They all blame you!” . Her words felt like poison, eroding my sense.
Don’t. Please stop. Please! That…that was not the real Arin! Just a dream! Arin would never…She won’t! she won’t she wont!
“Arin died because of you! And you still live! Don’t—
The world went red.
Arin would never!
I slapped her, she keeled over to the side. Blood trickled in a small stream from the side of her lips.
She wiggled and then looked up. Her eyes that had glazed over now stared at me, unblinking, clear. She lifted herself up weakly, touching where I had hit her.
“Rigel? What have …what did I do?” she asked, her brows furrowed in a bow, “what just happened—”
I couldn’t hear her. The voices were back.
They clamoured. My body burnt up, I hugged myself. No! no! no! I don’t… want to! No!
They swam through my head, their hands on my body, furrowing through me. I wailed, my hands over my ears. The voices…Stop! STOP!
‘Rip her apart’ No more!..No! LET GO!
My breath started falling deep, as cold shivers ran down my spine. My body trembled painfully, as I tried to stop what was coming. No…No! Let me be! Le…leave me alone! No!
“Stop it! Stop it! I don’t want to!” I cried out hoarsely as I saw Faeve’s eyes go wide, “STOP IT!”
‘Use her. Make her bleed’. Waves of heat washed over my body. My heart strained hard against my chest. Bestial cries ripped through my chest. Oh no oh no oh no
The Gift of Might it’s…it’s starting again! I wailed as the Gift flooded my body with overpowering libido. Fuck, fuck fuck! it’s messing with my hormones again! Shit!
Not again! It was hard living in the Whorehouse with all the moaning and begging going under the floor…the naked girls stirring up primal desires inside me. I had tried my best to not touch them…because I will break them. Break them in mind, body and soul. Their souls will find no salvation in my hands. It was agonizing, not fucking them…but I also had Apopris and Shivang to lull me into dead sleep.
I looked at Faeve. My answered the voices in my head egged me on to devour her. Yes! Take! Yes!
Faeve screamed in answer, “No…no. Your lust…your rage is flowing into me. I can’t. NO!”
I advanced on her, the voices in my mind having won over.
Take. This time, my own mind answered. Fuck her! Strip her!
“Don’t! don’t eat into my mind, bloody krumper! You… have already taken my hair…no!” she wailed, trying to get away. She scrambled away from me, her legs kicking into the air.
“Falaha preserve! Great Tree protect!”, she twisted away from me, “don’t devour me…I can’t hold on my mind! Let me be myself!” the proud assassin wailed, crying.
I crept up on her, and held her down. She struggled but she was too exhausted from healing me to use magic. I threw her down on the floor and exposed her neck. The black choker, the mark of exile shone with eerie brilliance. Stop the struggle, woman!
My fingers ran over it , then caught her throat, choking her lightly. Faeve thrashed around, trying to dislodge me from her body. Blood and sweat shone on her panic stricken face. Her fair nape grew crimson under pressure.
Her red lips curled up—Yes! My thumb ran on her lips, tracing its contours. Her saliva wet my thumb. Faeve flinched her head away. Where will you run! I like it when you struggle!
My fingers brushed all the way down her neck. More, more! My fingers pushed inside her cotton shirt from the top and pulled. The fabric ripped apart—her white skin exposed itself. Soft moonlight played on her curves, accentuating her breasts.
You are mine! I will devour you, and all that you are!
She now sobbed, and kept struggling, her hands beat on the floor. Her voice was a sweet cry against my ears.
My palm gripped her mound and pressed down hard. Rough sandstone enclosed satin. Her breast depressed and deformed under the pressure, turning crimson. A bestial rumble erupted from my throat. I let go my grip, my fingers ran through her cleavage, all the way down to her pants. Her skin glistened with sweat. My nails dragged against her skin, leaving white drag marks. With a savage yank, I tore off the drawstrings holding her pants. Her skin radiated cold heat up my fingers.
Her white thighs arose primal desires in me. Perfect. The voices in my mind cried in a unholy din. Faeve’s skin felt like running butter on my finger tips. Mine! Mine!
Yes! Yes! Feed! The voices had melded with my own mind, whipping me to a savage ecstasy. My breath fell in ragged gasps.
Her porcelain like skin grew red from where I gripped her. She flailed her legs around me, trying to bite me. Her nails left deep gashes on my skin, drawing blood. Her hands rammed against my bare chest again and again. Do you not understand?
“Anyone…but an Aivern…no!” she screamed, tears streaming down her face. Her teeth shone in the moonlight, like sharpened fangs.
My hands down one of hers hands down as I dipped my face towards her. Our breath mingled in a warm, hateful mist. My tongue licked the blood off the corner of her lips. You taste good. Too good. She tried to bite me. I growled like a beast. She trembled and screamed beside my ears as her free hand gouged out bits of skin from my wrist on her crotch.
My fingers slid inside her, a savage grin pulled up the corners of my mouth. I caressed the satin like skin folds between her legs. She was powerless to resist after exhausting herself healing me.
Suddenly, a wave of nausea and hate assaulted me. The unreasonable terror crippled my senses, the hate searing my veins. I gagged, as bitter bile ran up my throat. What? What just—
Her eyes had gone white as she kept wailing and I gazed into them—a beast was reflected in it. The beast did not yield, it only deprived people. The beast had a manic look in its face, eyes. It was demented.
My hands trembled as I looked at Faeve’s face, running with tears. Her voice had gone hoarse by now, her struggle a feeble one. I…I no, no no!
The figure of a girl flashed through my mind, broken and tortured.
Did…did Arin beg like this when they raped and tortured her?
My stomach sunk in a bottomless pit as cold ice crept up my veins. My throat made a strange sound as I gulped for breath. A strange pain spread though my chest. What have I done! No! How…how could—NO!
I spat out bile on the wood floor beside me. The thick bitterness tore some of the red haze apart.
Pain! More pain! I need pain! Stop it! Stop it!
I noticed the Wakizashi lying at my side and—slammed it deep into my arm. I screwed it in. Deeper. Deeper dammit!
The goat’s words flashed through my mind, ‘You become like the ones you kill’.
Stop it! Stop it Stop it! Hurt! More pain!
The voices in my head wailed at my pain. They cowered with their dessicated, bony hands on their empty sockets.
Die! Die dammit! Fuck this all to hell! My stomach lurched as wave after wave of nausea hit me. How! How could I fucking do this! HOW?!
Blood rushed though my ears as my heart beat strained painfully against my chest.
I rolled away from Faeve, still digging in the dagger. The dagger touched a bone, scraping against it. Red hot lances of pain traveled up my arms. More! More!
I picked myself up and threw myself on the narrow bed. My body was sweating like a pig. My breath fell in laboured wheezes, as I had difficulty gulping down air.
No! No! No! what was I doing? Why did I give in to the voices? Why! Why! WHY!
At the moment, I hated myself. All the hatred that I had kept pent up in the last year exploded inside me, shredding me. I could hear myself wailing like a baby. The bed grew wet with my perspiration and tears.
Faeve had sat up, leaning against the wall. She looked at me, loathing in her eyes. Deep, potent hate reflected in them. Like ice, like fire. Tears streaked down her face as her body wracked with little sobs. Her eyes went wide when she traced the dagger stuck to my arms.
Don’t…don’t look at me like that! Your eyes…your eyes…no!
“Stay away from me, Faeve”, I whimpered screwing in the dagger. “I can’t hold back my demons without Shivang. Stay…stay away from me, I don’t know how long can I control myself”.
She sat there, now quiet. She hugged herself, her body trembling like a leaf. She clutched her flaxen hair and cried.
“Go! I don’t want to turn into a rapist. But I don’t intend to kill myself either”, I said loudly. My reason was slowly returning. “I am not the Aivern you are looking for, Faeve. I am not a Hero. I kill, I destroy, I have not made the best of choices…and I failed to save the ones I was supposed to”. My weak voice boomed in the room, spitting back my words at myself.
She looked up at me, her deep green eyes bore into mine.
I couldn’t stand her gaze. My hands shook. Those fucking souls!
“I won’t die before I can kill the gods who took everything from me. But that…means I have to turn like the ones I kill”, I was surprised at how my voice quavered. “But I will gladly sacrifice myself. Because I failed to protect”, my words fell like a deep sigh upon the darkness. My chest felt strangely light as I spoke the words I had never dared to before. They even took control of my mind…those fucking gods. But I will pay them back, I will.
The pain from the dagger made me pass out, the darkness shrouded me.
The gift of Might does nothing to mitigate the pain inflicted by myself, huh?
And there were no nightmares. They were chased away at the pain…and disgust. At myself, for myself.
I truly wonder, what am I fighting? Is it the gods…or what I am becoming myself?
When I came to, I found Faeve straddling my hips, naked. Soft moonlight filtered through the porthole window, washing her naked form with light. She was sprawled over me, her head laid on my bare chest. Her hands held a dagger over my heart. The tip had slightly dug into my skin, blood flowing in a slow trickle.
She shook like a leaf, her hands shaking. My chest was wet with her tears, hot as coal.
“I am not a good person either, Eridan. I am not. Gods know how much I have deceived, killed”, she mumbled while she held the dagger over my heart. “And that is why…I can’t kill you”. She stiffened as her naked groin brushed against my bulge pressing up through the rough cloth. But she didn’t move.
I let her stay like that. This is the least I can do, can’t I? I slid my hands under the bed, taking out a concealed fish gutting knife the fishermen had left behind. I took that in one hand and pressed it over her nape.
She shivered at the touch of the cold dagger. But she didn’t move. Cold anger and hate flowed into me…along with pity. Pity more than anything.
The connection…now I can sense her feelings too?
Another wave of nausea hit me as I hated myself more than anything. My insides felt like glass, threatening to break apart at any moment. My hands holding the dagger trembled. Faeve took a sharp breath as the trembling dagger shaved lightly against her nape.
As my self-loathing flowed inside her, she took a sharp breath, “I am not much better than you, Humakin”.
“I am sorry, Faeve, I am sorry”, was all I could say. Something hot trickled down my cheeks. And I thought my tears had dried up the past year.
“Sorry, Sorry. I am so sorry” I kept mumbling. What have I done? I…I…am turning into a monster myself. No, no NO! I don’t want to! I DONT!
We both cried, shedding tears for ourselves. Tears for the fate that had been thrust upon us. Bloody fucking gods! Bastards!
The two of us stayed like that through the night, daggers poised at each other. The sea raged and roared around us, like a lullaby. However, we didn’t sleep. We couldn’t afford to.
Like ages before and ages hence, man and woman lay atop each other. However, it was not our bodies that were laid bare to each other. It was our souls, that brushed against each other, revealing for the other to see what made us, us.
This chapter was very emotionally draining to write. I had to get inside Rigel’s head as well as Faeve’s. It was excruciating. Now I need to Shinji for a while(aka curling up in a corner of the room, crying and contemplating the meaning of my existence)
Once again, I am asking for reviews/ratings and comments on this chapter and fiction. I mean, this chapter was so stressful…I need to know you guy’s thoughts on this chapter and the fiction as a whole.
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