Forever Young

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  • Published: 22 Dec 2015
  • Updated: 27 Jul 2016
  • Status: Complete
Darla is most definitely not a human.

She's one of the Ashki, an immortal race who have lived alongside humans from the very beginning. But friendships don't survive that long, and her contacts with her fellow Ashkine people are practically non existent, humans just tiny little pieces in the jigsaw of time. And an old enemy is back, proposing changes to the way their society has run and developed, and destroying the Ashki in the process.

Now Darla must gather her friends together to save themselves and their souls. But after so many millennia, is time finally running out for the Ashki?


18. Bone and Marrow

James shakes me hand off his arm almost the second that our feet touch solid ground. "Get off of me!" he shrieks. There are a few people milling around - we're in a shopping centre somewhere - and they turn to look at us, frowning. I try not to laugh.


"What the bloody hell do you want with me?" he hisses. I've done nothing wrong."


"I know that, " I snap. "It's Keda who's in the wrong, she's brainwashed you, she's turning everybody against me as if I'm the villain, but I'm not, and you have to believe that so I can keep you safe. You've got to believe me, Jamie, I - I love you."



It's the better part of a lie, if I'm honest. I don't love him, and even if I did I don't believe that I could still truly love him after all this time and everything that Ked has put me through, all the twisted lies she has fed to anybody who will listen, which is just about everybody because none of them have got a single ounce of intellect in their stupid little brains and it annoys me to death and back. But James doesn't know this, and he's easily convinced. He'll believe the truth.


"You've never loved anybody, Darla," James laughs. "And no one will ever love you."


My eyes flash. There is a whisper of danger lingering around my neck like a noose, and I shudder. I think James feels it too, if his clenched fists are any indicator. "Look," I say, trying not to let my voice shake. "You have to come with me, it's too dangerous if you're alone - Keda will use you for anything she wants, and I'm the only person who can stop her from destroying everything. Please."

"No," he cries, visibly shaking. "You're evil and you don't know what I do about the world but even if you don't have a heart, you do have a mind and you have to realise that what you're doing is wrong. You -" I think he might scream now "you are the real evil in this world. Even your friends agree with us."

Lara. Adrien. Oh gods.

Of course, I knew ever since she broke the circle that Keda would one day destroy me - properly, this time. But I never really thought about it, not actively anyway. Not until now, when James is here and telling me everything he's been told, every lie he's been fed and every lie I have been fed too. It's now that I realise how alone in this world I really am - that's what will destroy me.

I have had so long in this world, and now it will end, and it will be my fault because I have believed what no one else could and torn down the walls of safety that are built up around us all.

 Not even James can tell me how long it will be until Keda destroys the world. Perhaps it will be only at the end of time, when the world is but a death scene anyway, or perhaps it will be so soon, soon enough gat no one will forget me by then, maybe they will remember what I said and realise I've been right about Keda all along. But all I know, is that if Keda doesn't find a shred of mercy in her bones, she will try to keep me alive to see my dreams crumble.

"You know," James says as I kneel in the ground, biting my lip. "Keda lied about one thing. Kaden- he was never in love with her. It was me, because she couldn't find anybody else who would pretend to be a dead man. And it wasn't like you were available."

His finger traces my lips. He smirks, and brushes my hair back from my ears, leaning forward. "You're even more twisted than that."

His hand collides with my face and I can't jump up, I can't move and all of a sudden there is a net over me and James is laughing and if I could I would rip him apart but I can't move and I'm falling, falling and he's gone but his laughter still rings in my ears.

 The first time I saw Kaden - ever saw his face - it was in a dream. He stood atop a mountain, wearing armour of silver, which stood out stark against the night’s inky black veil. His scruff of deep brown hair was barely visible in the darkness, but I could see his eyes clearer than anything else, the way that monsters seemed to dance in their golden stars.

Kaden didn’t say anything, but I know somehow that he was important, probably sent to me by my mistress, for me to talk to. I needed to explain.

 I took a step towards him, breath shaking and shuddering in my lungs. My breaths were but pale puffs of mist in the cool night air, like frozen raindrops hanging in the air, about to fall and shatter like a pane of glass. I'd heard stories about these things, two people brought together by dreams for a great destiny borne from the hearts of the gods themselves. I shook my head at the thought, halted the faint flicker of a smile riding on my amaranthine lips and followed the man on the snowy peaks of the mountain.

 Snow sank into my bare feet though I could only feel it because of the cold. I wasn't home. I could hear a laugh and I followed the sound, as I began to run, moving so fast it was like my feet had suddenly sprouted wings, like I was flying, flying with the wind blowing through my hair, the tips of my fingers scraping across the ink sky, letting the stars slide between my fingers and suddenly it was like I really was flying, and tears of joy ran down my face and my hair was fluttering around my face, all around me and I was flying and there was nothing else and I was screaming but I wasn’t scared and the world was spinning and then it stopped and the colours all started fading and all in the world was dull and boring and the silver armoured man spoke but I couldn’t hear him and the ice froze me and I screamed forever, and this time it was from fear, because I was alone on a mountain and soon I would surely meet my end and the month was closing in on me like falling, crumbling walls and nobody in the world could save me now, perhaps even never.

 The image shattered and I fell through the floor.

 I was cloaked in a darkness that wasn’t a darkness, a song with a melody of silence. A face emerged from the shadows with eyes of jacaranda and hair of sable. The lips were painted in death’s cinnabar, brutal yet somehow still merciful, however impossible it was.

The features were forged from power, and power was forged from them.

I began to shake, the sound of the mountain’s streams roaring in my ears. Kaden remained silent beside me, staring at the creature emerging. The silence was almost deafening, like it had a sort of a hold over me, as if I would never hear again if I did not speak now.

“Do you know that face?" I asked him, my voice quivering. "Do you – do you recognise it?”

“Yes,” the man replied, his voice smooth and strong. "I will fight it, lady."

 My heart was beating loudly in my chest, like a raven’s wings flapping against the mountain’s rocks. My eyes were burning as they saw the light, but I carried on anyway, hoping he couldn't sense the adrenaline rushing in my veins. "I will fight it too." He tilted his head. "You are a man, and though a man has strength it was a woman who gave you that strength. It shall be a woman who fights so you do not lose it."

"I quite agree," he laughed. "My lady, we shall fight together."

It wasn't a beast that had lurked in my dream though. It was our mistress, come to bring us together for our dance with the stars, and when I saw him a day in the streets, a prince from another land, I was barely even surprised.

Now I'm alone, and even though Kaden has been gone for ages not even the thought of his betrayal hurts like this - the knowledge that he's dead. And that he's not just dead, but that he has died, that he must have done something so terrible to be dead. Really, truly, dead.

I can't help thinking that maybe it's my fault. Maybe I'm just a girl, after all, not a woman made of steel and iron, but a girl made of paper with a fire in her chest who starts her dreams with fire drills instead of fairy tales and speaks her words in a voice thick with ash spilling from a charred heart. And maybe I have become a girl so accustomed to fire that I drink it, drink it like it is the water from all the sea, and I dance in it like it is the waltz to my home that has never been, and my throat has become so burnt and my legs become so blackened they I can't move and can't scream but for a whimper in the middle of a burning sea, calling for something, someone to just. Take. Me. Away. 

I came to this earth as a girl bred for war, with an ocean behind her steely eyes and a yearning to see the world, to feel it's hunger and its hatred, to touch it's laughter and its love. I was born to reach out with both hands to the sea, like I could pull in the rain and the water, find something to put out the burning flames that churned deep within my soul. All that ever came was sand in my eyes and the blindness of hope set aside for another day.

So I wrote songs to sing to the flames. I drew pictures of the sea over my walls, splashed paints of blue and green and purple and silver over the boring, boring whiteness of the plaster. It was clear that I did not belong here. I do not belong here.

I was born with inky poems spilling over my skin and a mind laid out like the labyrinth of my nightmares. The people around me - the normal ones - they would take one look at me and never look at me again.

And when I met Kaden, for the first time, I had somebody who looked at me like maybe I actually meant something, like maybe I was a puzzle to be figured out or a peice of music to dance to in the night. I spent a few years writing answers to myself on my skin, only to cross them out and tear myself apart because it was so unfair that I couldn't see him, that my mistress had weaved such a cruel fate into the stars. I searched for myself in mirrors in the oceans, but I only found myself in my thoughts of the wild. The way it turned out, that's exactly what I was. I was the wild itself, the lost adventurer, the runaway princess, the rampant lion roaming free, the heroine built of ecstasy.

I was created with a form of emotion called rage and a certain talent for getting lost in my mind. I had too many thoughts and a tongue that couldn't speak them in the time. My hands always trembled until I clenched them around my anger and struck down the overwhelming sadness. I built whole temples on top of their expectations and painted them in flames of crimson and gold when I burned them down to meet me on the ground, and I decided it was my new fate.

I was created to be a weapon against one enemy, and now I am the destroyer of them all. And I am not going to stop because why should Keda get to have all the fun when I am just as deserving. Do I get nothing after all these years, but the cage around my heart. I have a mind and a heart as vast as a universe, each thought and memory and tiny little detail of my diamond heart placed like stars in a pattern I cannot make anyone understand, because I can't even pretend to understand it myself. All I know is that these scars running over my skin are from words I once wrote, and this constant pain and these broken moments and this lie of joy, they all look like words to me, just words and nothing else because is there anything else I am capable of?

Aren't thoughts just words we don't know how to say?

I think so, and they are just in the way that Kaden is a betrayal I don't know how to forgive, and that Lara and Adrien are fires that will never burn out, and I, I am the god to command them all.

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