Secret Heritage

Beautiful, unparalleled , deadly 'creatures' are ruled By the unbreakable Loratalia and have done so since the start of time. Loratalia was strong, but one small mistake on an April morning, for just one moment, for the tiniest weeniest fraction of a second, she let her guard down.
Loratalia fell in love.
Now she has a secret, a secret so scary and dangerous, so poisonous and destructive, it threatens to crumble the entire structure and beauty of her society. When the secret is let loose, others will stop at nothing to tear it apart...

Ilse is an exceptionally talented, lonely seventeen year old girl. She lives with her horrible uncle and step aunt and two unpleasant cousins. However, one February morning her world caves in and suddenly, she finds herself questioning her very existence.
When two worlds collide, Ilse will have to decide what is real and what is an illusion.

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5. Dragons.

Ilse stared at her ceiling, feeling the familiar sense of loneliness wash over her like a heavy, muffling blanket. She had completed her chores almost numbly, trying to ignore the restless anger that vibrated through her body like a constant twang of a guitar string. At home she was treated like a spare part, something that could be treated poorly with no consequences. Sure, she had stood up to Stacy in an insane burst of ferociousness that she had never experienced before, but that didn’t change the fact that she was still a measly irritation in this world, like chewing gum stuck to someone’s shoe. But... The way she had stood up against Stacy made her realise, perhaps for the first time in forever, she mattered, that she could have an impact, that she could do something for herself, to help herself. She closed her eyes and recalled the power that had flowed through her veins as she had pushed back Stacy. The action had given her something, an added something that made her feel almost... Almost whole.  But that was ridiculous, feeling powerful and intimidating wasn’t something that was going to help her figure out who she was, much less make her feel whole. Besides, she told herself, people are already whole.

But Ilse couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t. That there was a part of her somewhere that longed to be reunited with her body, a part that would explain to her what she was and give her the purpose she so craved.

Restlessly, Ilse turned over on her springy mattress and stared at the drawing she had frantically drawn once released from her chores. The drawing was scruffy and dark, the hurried lines flying across the page in a panic. Ilse traced a finger over the scrawls, her finger spiralling towards the centre, towards a rearing monster.

At least, to anyone but Ilse, the being she had drawn would be a monster, but to Ilse, it was not. She supposed it was ferocious and its teeth were huge, but it was also beautifully sleek, elegant and deadly. It had four muscular legs; one of the front ones was curled underneath it, like a horse pawing the ground. Its talons glinted terribly as did the ebony black scales on its tail and  Its semi-folded kite like wings were blown slightly open; Ilse had drawn them in such a way that it made them look like satin. A long, curving neck held a magnificent head; its nostrils were wide and a smoking, its eyes pools of gleaming black, its gaze intelligent and feeling.

If she was going to name it, she would call it a dragon, although, it was so much more than that word might suggest if one were to think of it; It wasn’t a Lizard, its scales more like an armour than a skin and its muscles that bulged under the scales were almost... Human. Ilse had drawn it in a frenzy, barely pausing her pencil as it danced across the page with a mind of its own and even now, looking at the drawing, Ilse’s mind did not cease its wild racing. This image had formed in her mind, tumbled into her conciseness like the shock of ice cold water. She had stopped dead in the street, ignoring the people who grunted in annoyance and moved around her, allowing their heavy bags to bash her painfully as she stood stock still. She had felt the scales in her mind, knew that they were warm like flesh but as hard as metal, she knew how the dragon’s breath had felt on her neck, hot and salty, like the smell of smoke, and she knew that this wasn’t an idea; this was a memory, as clear as anything else she could recall.

Once the drawing was complete and she had captured what she could of the strange experience however, Ilse began to doubt her certainty. How could she remember a dragon? And why was she not frightened? The dragon did not make her feel uneasy or alarmed or even confused, when she looked at it, all she felt was a settling calm, a peace that she had never experienced before, a feeling almost like belonging.

Growling at herself, Ilse slammed her notebook and shoved it under her pillow, hard.

“Get a grip.” She muttered, angrily wiping away tears that had leaked out from the corner of her eyes.

She knew what this was about: Ilse was desperately lonely. At school she was carefully avoided, people didn’t look at her in the hallways; they seemed almost to look through her frowning, as if she were merely a translucent blockage, like smoky glass or hot air. She was ignored on social networking sites, ignored by her teachers, ignored by everyone except, it seemed, Stacy.

It was the awful feeling of being trapped in her own head that forced Ilse to reach out to her drawings for comfort. It wasn’t that Ilse hated the world, far from it, she marvelled at it, everything from the unparalleled beauty of forests after rain to the way that dusty window panes seemed to sigh with appreciation as the sun shines through them, Ilse was ready to love the world, but the world was not ready to love Ilse.

“OI, MINGEBAG!” Ilse jumped at the sound of Stacy’s voice before she began  scrambling inelegantly off her bed, fumbling with her book as she dropped it behind the bed head, the safest place to hide it from Stacy. Ilse grabbed a hair band, tied her hair up in a knot and took the stairs two at a time, not keen to encourage more shouting from Stacy- Uncle Harold could be aggressive when irritated.

Ilse sped down the wide staircase into the foyer, following the sound of Stacy’s voice into the right corridor and the left drawing room.

Stacy was lounging on a gold armchair, one leg dangling over the arm, texting.

Stacy was a pretty girl, decided Ilse, when she wasn’t trying to be pretty. Like her twin and her father, she too had dark hair that was long and glossy. Today, it was pulled back from her face in a French plait, showing off the natural beauty of her features; her lips were full and pink, her nose was small, like a button and her skin tone was warm like her brother’s. Her eyes were different though: Stacy’s eyes were almost black so brown were they, and they were focused on Ilse in a twisted, mean stare that oozed contempt.

“Took you long enough, bitch.” Ilse flinched away from the nastiness; she averted her eyes from Stacy and looked around the room, rubbing her arm.

Ilse rarely went downstairs, she felt unwanted by the huge, beautiful rooms, let alone by the people occupying them. The second drawing room, the room in which they currently stood, was spectacular; a twenty bulb crystal chandelier glistened above them, a black polished piano sat in front of a huge, arched window. In total, there were three windows in the room, one luxurious red velvet couch that stood opposite the grand marble fireplace, five bookshelves which housed countless, gorgeous books, many leather bound. Aunt Caroline leant against the piano, one manicured hand holding a fine china cup and the other turning the page of a newspaper that sat atop the piano.

She wore a different outfit to earlier, and no shoes. Ilse’s aunt wore a bright yellow cardigan with ruffled silk cuffs and collar and a matching pair of yellow silk pyjama bottoms. She wore no makeup and a fluffy white headband that kept the hair off of her face. Ilse guessed she had been halfway through her nightly pamper session.

Her aunt gave no sign that she had heard Ilse enter, and Ilse noticed that she didn’t want to be there: she kept tapping a finger nail in an irritated fashion, and her jaw was tight as though she was fractious.

Intrigued, Ilse moved her gaze to Stephan who was idly tapping the piano keys, and noticed the same, cross body language.

“Have we been... Summoned?”

The other three jumped when she spoke and turned around, as though surprised she was there.

It was her aunt who spoke first, clearing her throat and creasing her brow slightly before she spoke.

“That would appear to be the case, yes.”

Ilse’s mouth dropped open.

“We’re not servants!”

“The word ‘Servant’ is harsh, Ilse, and I should think you would be willing to do anything I ask, seeing as I took you in so selflessly as a child.”

Ilse whirled around at the sound of her Uncle’s voice; she tripped on a lamp lead and fell back clumsily onto the arm of Stacy’s chair.

Stacy made an irritated noise and pushed Ilse away before moving her leg so that she sat in a more ladylike manner.

Ilse looked at her feet, suitably ashamed of herself, and moved back to stand against the wall, slinking herself away from the present company as much as she could.

“Of course, anything you ask,” she said, looking at her uncle from under her bowed head.

Uncle Harold stood in the centre of the room, his feet parted in a masculine stance, his hands clasped firmly in front of him.

He glared at Ilse, his frightening blue gaze flashing dangerously in the room. Despite his warm complexion, Uncle Harold was a cold person, made of ice and hard lines, an impenetrable human being, and Ilse doubted that he really loved his family at all.

Stephan had stopped playing when his father had entered the room, and was looking at him as though there was not another single thing in the universe he had ever admired more than that man, Stacy was unusually quiet, and her head was bent, her phone nowhere to be seen.

Even Aunt Caroline seemed subdued as she tentatively sipped her tea, her eyes never leaving her husband. Ilse saw no love there, her Aunt’s eyes were strangely vacant and Ilse thought she could even detect fear. 

“I’m going away, I’m needed on... Business.” Ilse’s head whipped up at the hesitation and she cocked her head. He was keeping something from them, and although that wasn’t entirely new, Ilse felt like this was an important secret, something she should try and find more about.

Her Uncle’s gaze swept the room, as though he was daring anyone to speak. Ilse noticed that his face was more lined than she had ever seen it, his face was etched in hard creases from his nostrils to the edge of his mouth and his forehead was covered in wavy frowns. His general appearance was more weathered than when she had last properly looked at him; his sideburns had streaks of silver in them and his eyes looked shrunken in his altogether thinner face.

Ilse wondered what was making him stressed.

“Business!” Shrieked Caroline, breaking the silence, “What on earth do you mean, ‘business’?” She demanded, brandishing her canary arm wildly.

Uncle Harold ignored her.

“Dad,” Stephan said softly, “Dad, we want to know where you’ll be.”

Uncle Harold turned his haggard face to his son, his jaw clenching and unclenching, Ilse pushed herself further up against the wall, worried the her uncle would shout.

“Well that’s too bad.” Uncle Harold’s voice was disturbingly calm and Ilse found herself praying that Stephan noticed the impatience in his father’s tone and kept his mouth shut.

Stephan recoiled hastily from his father’s unkindness, the hurt in his suddenly boy like eyes terribly noticeable, Ilse turned away, it felt wrong to see such a vulnerable expression.

Stacy let out an exasperated breath.

“You can’t just disappear!” She yelled standing and advancing towards her father, “We’re your children-“

But Stacy didn’t get to finish because Uncle Harold lifted an arm and struck her on the cheek.

Ilse gasped and rushed to the wounded Stacy who lay on the ground, clutching her face, an expression of absolute disbelief on her face.

Ilse impulsively touched Stacy’s shoulder in a manner of affection, but Stacy remained rigid, her eyes beginning to fill with glassy tears.

Uncle Harold was breathing heavily, his body stock still as he surveyed the scene before him; he did not break and apologise to Stacy, sobbing, he simply drew himself up to his full height and curled his hands into fists.

“Why, YOU BASTARD!” Roared Ilse, springing like a cat from beside Stacy to launch herself at her Uncle. Her palms landed with full force against his chest and she pounded her fists against it whilst kicking his shins and struggling against him as he attempted to push her back.

Behind her, she could hear her Aunt and cousins yelling, but no-one came near either the uncle or his niece.

After a moments more struggling, Harold gained the advantage and pushed Ilse away. He held her wrist in a vice like grip and pulled his hand back as though to hit her as he had Stacy, but as Ilse looked at his face, preparing herself for the strike, she saw something cross over his eyes.

It was a totally unguarded look of heartbreaking sorrow mingled with pride and a heavy, nostalgic overtone that sent Ilse’s mind turning.

She waited for the blow, but it did not come.

Her uncle dropped her hand and staggered from the room, leaving his whole family staring at his back in bewilderment.

The quiet astonishment lasted only a few more seconds.

“He hit me,” Cried Stacy, “But he didn’t hit her.”

Stacy pointed a finger at Ilse and Aunt Caroline and Stephan turned to face their relative too.

Aunt Caroline stepped towards Stacy who still sat on the floor and placed a hand on the back of her dark head and Stephan stepped in front of both woman, a confusing expression of curiosity and loathing on his face.

Involuntarily, Ilse stepped backwards away from the approaching Stephan, she put her hands in front of her as though to ward him off.

“Listen, please, I don’t know why... Why he did what he did. I was defending Stacy! Please, please don’t hurt me.” Ilse dropped to a crouch, staring at Stephan pleadingly.

A moment more passed where Stephan said nothing, he merely narrowed his eyes and rolled his shoulders while Ilse’s heart thumped painfully in her chest, the whole unfairness of the situation causing her head to spin and her throat to ache with fast approaching tears.

It was Aunt Caroline who spoke eventually.

“Stay away from Stacy.” She said coldly and Ilse nodded, already crawling further away from them all.

Aunt Caroline turned to speak to the whole room.

“We will not speak of this, ever.”

The three teenagers nodded in agreement.

Ilse stumbled to her feet, her legs felt unsteady beneath her, the rush of adrenaline making them feel warm and weak, and fled from the room, all the while choking down tears she wanted to forget the cause of. 

 

 

 

 

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