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?

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30. Final Countdown

My hair was brushed back and tied in a messy bun by Stacy, who seemed to be having all to much fun with this, before she applied maroon lipstick, mascara and smoky grey eye shadow. She laid out a selection of gowns and dresses for me to try on, each and every one of them intricately stitched together, until eventually I decided on the third option, a long gown made of deep purple velvet, and purple silk gloves to match. I chose a pair of black ballet shoes, the silky ribbons tied tightly around my otherwise bare ankles. Stacy ushered me out the door and down the corridor, before she pulled the door open for me and I stepped out, to be greeted by a completely empty room. I turned around, but she was gone.


 “Hello?" I called, my head hurting slightly. “Is anybody there? Can anybody hear me?” I heard a sucking sound and a hiss, but I couldn’t quite work out where the sound had come from, as my eyes darted around the room. The door closed behind me with a click and I whirled around suddenly, caught in a mix of relief and fright as I had a quick thought on what the noise could have been. I tried to open the door with the handle, but it was locked and no amount of force could unlock it.


 I began to pace the small room, the soles of my shoes making strange flapping sounds on the wooden floorboard, my hands tracing every tiny fissure as I traced the cracks in between the stones on the walls, which took rather a while, for there were many stones in varying shapes and size. I had always found that doing things like this helped to calm my nerves whenever I was worried. My breath caught in my chest as a floorboard lifted slightly beneath me, but my slightly frightening thoughts on the matter were quickly dismissed. A clanging noise sounded from behind me and I whirled around once again, staring at the place the noise came from in wonder. A large door had appeared in the centre of the opposite wall, and I walked slowly towards it, wincing at every sound and jumping over every crack in the floorboards, taking on a mortal superstition in my worry, until I finally reached it. I slowly put out a trembling hand and placed it on the wonderfully cool metal handle. My stone-like hand seemed to scratch the handle, but there were no marks when I pulled my hand away.

There wasn’t even a dent, though I had been pushing very hard, and most metals would collapse under that. I quickly came to the conclusion that this door must be magical, and therefore important, so I gingerly stuck my hand back out and opened the door to an immense ballroom.

There was a table at the top, covered in white lace, where Keda was seated behind platters of food, amongst some of the other Ashki she had summoned. Some of her servants and guards were there too, some dressed formally, others dressed for a party. The only one I noticed was Kaden. No, Kay, I thought. Kaden was different, gone, a bittersweet memory of a happier time past, of a man who found peace in his own mind.

Kay wasn't peaceful. He was wild, like fire.

He seemed to notice me as well, as he crossed the room, a faint glimmer of a smile dancing on his lips. "I'm to have a partner here to accompany me, Calynn," he said. "I considered inviting Darla, but I don't suppose she'd be welcomed here."

"No, I don't suppose she would," I laughed. "Does this mean you've had to settle for me then?"

"Unfortunately, yes." Kay wrapped his arm around my waist, pulled me towards him. "But I suppose it isn't such a bad thing." Just as I thought he was going to be complimentary, he said, "There's plenty of food."

I punched him in the arm. "And here I thought you were going to say something nice for once, Kay!"

"Hey, I'm always nice. That's me." He flashes me a dazzling smile of pearly white teeth, and I shivered beneath his gaze. "Haven't you ever realised," a guard walked past, eying me suspiciously, "my lady?"

"No, as I matter of fact, I haven't," I snarked back, finding myself drawn closer to him, until I was almost joined to him. "Now, can I see if you're a better at dancing than you are at being sincere?"

"That will be very difficult. But yes, my lady. For you, anything." He chuckled, and bent down to kiss my hand. My stomach swooped.

Shit.

"Kay," I whispered in his ear furiously. "Promise me that you'll stay with me tonight. Whatever happens, please just don't leave my side. I won't hurt you, if you want to go, but please, always return to me. Tonight, well, it feels strange."

"As I said, 'for you, anything'." Kay pulled me towards him, and fire leapt between our hearts. "Now, a dance."

He held me in his arms as we turned and swayed and flew through the room, pressed against each other in a way that was far from uncomfortable, as the rest of the room seemed to fade away. Trying not to laughed, I imagined they were all trying to reach the food on the high table, but in vain. Kay noticed my smirk, and leant down closer to my lips. "What are you laughing about?" he asked with a smile.

"Your ugly face," I choked out, embarrassing myself.

Kay leant his head back and roared with laughter, still pulling me closer towards him. Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods. "So kind of you to say, my lady. Truly, I shall never forget your extreme flattery of me this day."

"Shut up," I murmured. "I panicked. And anyways, I don't even remember what I was laughing at. Probably just your fave anyway."

"Oh, but I thought you loved the look of my face," he laughed, arrogant.

"You wish."

The music stopped abruptly, as Keda clapped her hands. "My fellow Ashki, please join me for a feast. We are to discuss further our plans in the morning, but for tonight, we done as friends, not just as allies. Sit where you wish." Her eyes fell on Kay, and she beckoned him with one crooked finger. "You can join us too. Near me."

His fingers dug into my waist slightly. "Of course, my queen. May my friend join me in sitting next to you?"

"Why of course. Lady Ari, is she not." We both nodded. "Wonderful. Come on then, the both of you."

She clasped her hands together as we ventured up to the top table, smiling. I sat next to Keda, and Kay was on my right, which Keda didn't look too happy about. Perfect.

"And now, we dine, my friends."

In a way, I think Kay knew what I was going to do that night. He held my hand, and passed me a knife to 'cut my food' as he held his own. Then we plunged tgem into Keda's neck.

She screeched in fright, as I stabbed her repeatedly in the back, grabbing every knife I could. "One life for many more," I murmured. "One life for many more."

Kay held his fire against her, smoke asphyxiating her. "One life for many more. One life for many more." Each syllable was another plunge of the knife. She kept screaming, as others ran for whatever they had left to live for. "One life for many more."

My knife was hovering above the spot. This was where I could kill her. But I hesitated. She had been my friend, for many more millennia than she as my enemy, she had been kind to her allies in the castle. Was I in the right, or for once was I in the wrong. I didn't have time to decide.

A guard wrenched the knife from my hand, his face glaring down at me with the most venom I had ever seen in my life. "You evil, poisonous little brat." The knife was hovering over my throat. He could kill me, and I wouldn't come back easily, I wouldn't find Kay to tell him the truth, find Lara to tell her how much she meant to me, find Adrien to tell him that actually, his eyebrow looked pretty badass.

And I wouldn't find Keda to kill her again. She's gone now, but I couldn't concentrate on where she was. The guard was Ronan, and I remembered with clarity how Keda had said to me, ages ago, "You'll be meeting him soon."

Had she known all along?

Ronan leered down at me. "Oh, two little girlies for me," he cackled menacingly, his breath hot on my face. "This could be lots of fun." His knife trailed down my neck, to just below my collar. "Oh yes. This one won't be too much danger. Look, she's terrified. Little girly, you don't even know half of how terrified I'll make you. You'll be, shall we say, screaming."

The knife clattered out of his hand. "How dare you speak to her like that, you filthy, good for nothing, son of a bitch!"

Kay had his arms around Ronan's neck, and Ronan looked like he was barely breathing. I, myself, was holding myself by the throat, trying to remember how to breathe without fear of the oblivion.

"I'll kill you!" he shouted. "I swear to all the bloody gods in the whole bloody, bloody universe, I'll kill you, if you so much as lay a finger on her again, you mongrel!" He spat at him, as Ronan flinched away.

"Mongrel," he squeezed out weakly. "That's a funny one. Like you."

"You're killing him, Kay," I said shakily. "Get it done with quickly, please."

"He was going to - "

"Please."

Something in my eyes must have told him to stop, to lean back and grab a knife to slice across Ronan's pasty neck. His eyes faded in colour, light draining from them. "It's done, Calynn," he said, voice completely devoid of any emotions. "He deserved worse."

"He deserved a second chance. Death'll give him that, he'll rethink his choices. And if he comes back and hasn't, then we'll force him to. But for now, we should go. It won't be long before the guards come back for us. Much as I'd like to watch their faces as they see Ronan dead and Keda gone, it's safer if we get out of here."

I took his arm, and whispered in his ear, "Just think, Darla. Okay. Just keep thinking it and don't stop until I tell you to. I promise, it will all work out for you two. I hope."

He nodded, and leant towards me softly. "Darla. Yeah."

I took us home to the little village where is decided to myself that I didn't like Thursdays, and decided that if this was one, it was a tiny bit of an exception to the rule.

I'd saved Keda for another Thursday.

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