I could hear someone speaking but all I could see was black. Was this the afterlife? Almost immediately, I regetted the times I had scorned at the Gods for leaving me, all the times I had doubted when people prayed and people believed. There was a light, I could see that in all the shades of black behind my eyes. See, the black you see when you close your eyes is never truly black. There is alsways the dots of light in the black and the green and the red splashed around in every corner. I had always been fascinated by the sights of the dreams and beneath one’s head. Because inside the light, the light was always mental. Inside everything, there was no colour. Nothing but darkness.
This must be heaven. A continuing dream of colours and light. This was my heaven. Nothing but my dreams. I could see the pine trees in the distance and then a grey wolf and an owl and a man, younger than me with brown curls. He was laughing, and I was laughing too. I was happy.
This MUST be heaven. I had done good in life, as horrible as I was to the little boy in the corner shop and how I killed Leila, I tried to be good. Taking a deap breath, od the frosty winter air, I thought about my life and I remembered. The queen, the lover and the plot. Oh that damned plot of mine. No, no. I was not good.
This must be hell. I had killed hundereds, no thousands for my own selfish needs. I had exploited, I had abused. The trees blew into dust and followed by the dessert. The sands of the dessert held onto my skin like manacales and pushed me further in, into the barren emptiness, into nothingness. I screamed, but no one heard me. When the faces of the dead and the tortured did to me what I had done to them, I did not struggle. I deserved it. I was so sinful that the sun burned my skin, that the heat hurt me. The sight of my face made the children cry. My heart was not red, no, my heart was black. The colour I had most dreaded my whole life on its own, it was inside me. My blood was black it poured through my fingernails and stained the sand. I was evil.
And I repeated the words as I remembered my sins and begged to the gods that I would be forgiven.
She jolted and shook violently, the first signs of movements in two weeks and it was to be boastful. So very like her. So very like my queen.
I tried to open her eyes, to get her to wake out of what horrible dream she was suffering through but she didn’t wake. She didn’t look.
The crows were looking for retribution. They fell upon me in hoardes, pecking at my bleeding fingertips. I had lost count of the days I had been in hell. But I knew how long I would be here, An eternity. Untill I had paid for the lives I had killed and will be killed for my actions. An that too was infinite. The entirety of the fae and the humnd and the animals and the magic, they will hunt me one by one and demand justice. I deserved it.
But then I woke. They say that your dreams tell your truth of your memories and the fullest extent of your conscience. My dreams told of my loss. I remembered that as I forgot.
“Amara! Oh by the God’s. You are awake.” Said Zephina unusually quietly, but I did not press on it when a sharp pain jolted through my body as I tried to get up.
“Stop. Amara. Don’t do that,” she said in a scoldy manner pushing me straight back onto the bed.
“Where are we?” I asked, realising that the bed was too soft to be the one in slums. As I looked around, and my vision adjusted, I saw the solid red brick walls so very unlike the spare and broken steel I had grown used to. There was a roaring fire on my right side, crackling and burning the side of my head, which wasn’t helped by the fact I was covered in layers and layers of quilts and duvets. The walls were closing in and the worst thing was I was helpless. I couldn’t get up without hurt and pain. I couldn’t breathe.
“Zephina. I.. need some fresh air,” I whispered, my voice still adjusting after not having been used. I didn’t know how long it had been since I had died, but it felt like, by the strength of the ache in my throat and the healing of the scars on my back, perhaps just over a week.
She drew the thick cream curtains open. It was dark, perhaps just after sunset. The view was spectacular we were on top of a hill There lights thousands of them dotted around the horizon, I could see the market square and in the distance I could see the silver roofs of the sulums.. We were definitely in Faecham. The only hill in Faecham was the castle. That must mean we were in the casrtle. My breathing quickened and. I looked at Zephina questioningly, not able to gain the strength to speak. She understood what I was hinting at and shouted through the open door at the top of her voice.
“She is awake.”
Surprisingly, the female guard from the castle heist walked in. I expected her to shout at us for hurting her and running away like cowards but she simply smiled and lead in another man. Through the flickers of the candle Zephina had lit I saw the face. It was Elias. And now I understand. I could remember him from my death. He was true, someone important, I believed that now, even if I knew I was placing such big a trust in such an impossible dream. But I just knew. He was important. He would tell me everything else.
My head pounded, as the confusion drained my energy. Zephina lent at the wall, watching me cautiously. He tried to touch my hand but I pulled it back. Who did he think he was for touching me?
But I was the lost queen; I could recall that through my dreams. I was the dammed queen and this face had the answers. I pushed myself further up the bed, revealing that I was wearing a nightgown, far finer than I had ever worn. Then if I was queen in a previous life, I must have worn riches and gowns on a daily basis. I’m not sure If I want that. I don’t want that anymore. If it intended that I would feel terrible, if I would have to stain my hands in another’s blood again and feel that terrible coldness like a thousand needles poking at my skin, no I didn’t want that. But I needed to know. It was driving me crazy.
“Tell me.. Tell me everything..”
He looked at me lost, as if hoping for something else that I wasn’t going to give him and lowered his wide deep brown eyes, revealing a set of long eyelashes.
“Do you not remember? You wouldn’t, would you. How foolish of me Xim..”
I raised a hand and he stopped almost immediately like a hound, “Amara. I am Amara.. Nothing less and nothing more.”
He pulled his head even further down, and I grew a sense of impatience I had never felt before.
“Elias. Elias Howare. Your fiancé and lover.”
I ignored his later point, we could deal with that later but I questioned on the first “Why are you so young? Why am I so young?”
He tried to speak, as if something was catching his throa,t he stopped and stumbled off the bed. I didn’t put out a hand and it wasn’t only because I couldn’t.
“Why are we young?” I repeated.
“E.. E… “He stammered, clutching onto his throat. This man was crazy.
He was shaking, trembling when I shouted, “Tell me why am I here if you imbecile can’t talk.”
Elias back on the foot of the double bed, though further now than before, “I found you after you were stabbed. I took you inside the castle with your friend and the king himself said you could stay as long as you needed to. But we must go. We must go and fix your past. We must go. We are running out of time.”
I put my head in my arms, annoyed by the unusefullness of his words and said calmly as my anger could muster, “Tell me why I did not die! I died. I remember!”
“But.. you don’t remember everything.” He mumbled “You don’t remember me.”
“JUST TELL ME WHO I AM!”
“Emrys.” He whispered, so quietly I only just caught it. His supposed younger brothers name. That was when I went crazy, I grabbed the nearest pillow and tried to push it into his ruddy childish face but a hand stopped me. Zephina stopped me.
“Listen, Amara. You never listen. Open your ears, stop blocking your head,” said Zephina, “Emrys. What does emrys mean.”
I stopped, “I..immortality.”
Zephina nodded, and gestured for me to continue. I thought about it, I had heard the word before. It was familiar.
“You really never listen. History? Haveyou never read history? Emrys, the fountains of emrys in the lands of the magic. Supposedly once found, it can gift immortality to the people who drink the waters. It was always just a story, so I was doubtfull when I first understood what the fool said. But the more I pored over the books in the royal libraries, the more it became apparent that it fit exactly what had happened to you. How old are you? When is your birthday, Amara?”
I stumbled over my words, “I don’t know but I am 18.”
“And the year before that? Do you remember?”
“Ei..gh.teen.” She was right. I didn’t remember a time before 18.
“The books also said that you would heal quickly.Look at your wounds.”
“I know, they have healed. It has been a week,” I said, not wanting to inspect the scars on my back.
“Amara, it has been 3 days.”
My eyebrows lowered and I rushed the beginning of my list questions, “What else did the book say? Is there a way to regain my memories? And why can’t he speak.”
“I think the memories are something else completely. You can’t remember because someone has cursed you. Something along the lines. And, ask him if you want to know.”
I took her words in. That must mean someone wanted me to forget something important, something blindly obvious and it also must mean Elias was probably right. I did not like his face any more, though.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and drank the glass of water the guard had brought to my side table, “Elias, my so called fiancé, why can’t you speak.”
He squinted and looked towards the ceiling, “You, my love. You cursed me never to speak of you. I can never tell you or any other living thing anything about you. About us.”
“Surely you can tell me.”
For the first time he matched my gaze so I stared straight into a pair of haunted eyes. “I would tell you my love, if I could. I would tell you If it risked my life. But you knew that. My love you are clever, so I cannot speak on the threat of not only my head, but also yours. It would kill you. And I will not allow that.”
“This is what I mean Amara. It sounds farfetched but it is the only theory that makes sense. It could be.”
I pulled the pillow and threw it at Zephina’s pretty face, “Shut up and leave.”
In turn, they all left me to my thoughts. So I sung, I sung to myself songs I never knew I knew. Tales of lost loves and friendship and loss.
Tears followed. Tear upon tear fell until the blood red pillows were stained wet and I had lost control of my whimpering self. The worst thing was, I didn’t know what I was crying for.