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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21. Warriors

   The moon’s silver light shines down on the village’s main square, illuminating the rain-soaked houses around me. Stars blink above me, a thousand silver eyes looking down on my small form with their dazzling gaze. The light is dancing and the shadows are singing and the words of death are being whispered in my ear.

Beautiful.

   I wrap my arms around myself, shivering in the cool breeze’s wake. My eyes flicker to the clock tower, where the time reads to be just after midnight. I know I am supposed to be met here soon, taken to whatever place Keda intends for me to meet her at. Wherever that actually is, I can't say that I am entirely sure, though I do suspect it may be her old fort, or the ruins of one of our ancient castles. It would make sense, after all; where better for a traitor to be destroyed, than in the castle of those she betrayed?

    Another breeze sweeps through the village, plunging shards of ice into my heart, chilling my bones. 

For spring, it is unseasonably cold. 

A bright silver light illuminates the small cobblestone square, accompanied by the symphony of beating wings. Shadows leap across the village like a group of dark pixies, blocking out the light which creeps around the blackness’s edges. A magnificent horse lands next to me, seeming to be made purely of air, a pale white mist that was curling around the cobbles. Behind it stands a group of girls, all of whom seemed to be around seventeen years old, dressed in flowing white gowns and silver crowns atop their light heads, clutching an assortment of daggers, swords, and bows. The one who looks to be the eldest of the group stands next to the horse, and her ancient silvery eyes glimmer like the stars above us.


   “This is Darla, yes?” The girl stares at me, as though contemplating how I might look as a misty horse.

   “That’s me,” I say with a forced laugh.

   “It is as I thought, then.” Her voice is making me nervous, like she's biding her time and waiting to attack me. Of course, it isn't exactly a massive surprise, but still. I could do with at least one competent person here. "Come with us,” she says eventually, after glaring at me for only a little while longer. “We must ride to Keda, and meet your destiny.”

  “You sound like an over dramatic witch on drugs, you know." The girl glares at me. "Well, it's true. Why did Keda think you should take me to her?"

   The girls eyes flicker with a mild sort of anger. "She trusts me enough not to steal the pleasure of your destruction all for myself, though if you keep this up it may be more difficult than I first thought. Now I say, come with us. The horses are getting impatient."


I haven't quite paid so much attention to the horses until now - my kind often uses them to guide us, but as I look closer I can see patterns on their manes, words in an old tongue dancing through the silvery white hair. 

My heart jumps a little. These are Dorian Screachers, a type of winged horse that was said to be  extinct even before my time, though I've read about it in many books over the years. If Keda has some for herself, doing her bidding, it's not a good sign. They can fly, yes, but it is said they can do other things, things that I don't exactly know what but I only know that their powers are among the most dangerous in the world.

I shiver slightly, and the girl laughs. "Are you frightened by my pets, Darla?"


"They're not pets," I spit. "They're monsters, like you."


"They won't hurt you until I tell them to, so don't worry. Girls, help me with this one, the queen won't want us to be late in our delivery."


"Keda's no queen," I snarl.


The girl laughs an empty laugh. "You'll regret you ever so much as thought that, in a while." Then she smiles. "Come on, girls, quickly!"

   I'm not sure if that was a threat or not. She seems to radiate power, this girl, like a supernova, about to explode if I so much as touch her. Even the girls, who seem to be such loyal followers to her, look frightened, though maybe it's just the darkness twisting their faces. So many questions are close to tearing through my lips, but the group has already turned away from me, clambering into the chariot of mist that has appeared behind the winged horse. A veil. Good trick, Keda.

I'll have to keep myself on my toes.

"Are you coming or are you not?” the girl askes in a soft voice, though I could hea the edge of demand in her words. It isn't really a choice, not that I would dream of saying no.

   I nod my head sharply, plastering on a confident smile, and laugh. These girls will be so be easy to scare, I'm sure. 

   “So you're Darla?" one of the girls asks as I sit down, eyeing me closely with her bright green irises.

   “Of course." I shake my hair out of my face. 

    "The traitor?"

    "I'm no traitor, darling, I'm afraid you have me mistaken for your queen." I smirk. After a pause, I continue, "So what are your names?"

   “I am Stacy Sloan,” the green eyed girl replies, “the Lady Ari's second in command. If you lay a finger on her, I'll be the one you have to deal with first."


"I'm about to kill your queen. Do you really think that's some kind of a threat?"


"Our queen is immortal."


"Your queen is a liar!" I leap to my feet. "Why do you, any of you, think that you can call someone as dimwitted, as snide, and cruel, and dull and psychopathic and evil as her, how can you call her your queen. She doesn't care about you, or she wouldn't have forced you all out here, she wouldn't be asking you to talk to me if she was a good person. She knows I'd kill you, and believe me the idea is very tempting, and she doesn't care about you! Why can't you see that! Or can you only see her sugary poison."


There were audible gasps. "You are poison, Darla. We trust Keda because the lady Ari trusts Keda, and clearly you aren't intelligent to understand such a thing as trust."


   I laugh hollowly. "Maybe I'm just too intelligent to believe in it."


   Fiona acts like this is incredibly stupid of me to say, though I truthfully have no idea why she can't understand what I'm trying to say. "You really are evil," she says, turning her head in the direction of her lady. “Though I suppose I couldn't expect anything else, from what we've all been told of you. Getting caught up in love, giving up your soul in the name of hatred. How does it feel to be so naive, even after all these years."


"It feels like I want to push you out of this chariot," I growl.


"Well, is t that rude of you." Two of the other girls are clearly trying not to laugh, though they're doing an awful job of hiding the fact.


"Just telling the truth." I grit my teeth as she recites what I say in a sing song voice. I will not be made a mockery of. I will not be made a mockery of. I will not, I will not, "I WILL NOT!" I screech, and Ari turns her head for a split second. "I will not sit here being made a fool of by a group of lowly, clearly mortal, girls who have no respect for me or what I've been through, nor will I put up with you blatant ignorance." 

I turn to Ari, shaking. "How long to Keda?" I ask her, with clenched fists.


"Not long at all now, traitor."


"I am not a -"


"Traitor? You are to us. Now, sit down before you're the one who gets pushed out of the chariot, and then you'll never get to 'destroy' the queen."

   
"Fine," I grumble.


"I've never met the queen," one of the girls says, as though she thinks that I actually give a damn. "I wish I had though."

   “I know, right," Stacy sighs. "She must be so beautiful, though I'm not sure how she would fare in competition with Ari. You've met her, though, I'd assume. Is she really as beautiful as they all say. Sorry, that was a stupid question, you wouldn't know beauty if it sat on you." She giggles, and the other stupid girls follow suit.

  “Stacy,” Ari calls from up front. "I would very much appreciate it if you would be so kind as to not continually converse with the savage. This journey is dangerous enough with her in our company, without you trying to make conversation with her, and subsequentially endangering us even further."

"Sorry, my lady, it's just that she's being so disrespectful and I'd hate for her to get it into her head that such a thing will not have consequences. We're all perfectly safe, I promise you. I won't let anybody here, except from her, of course, come to any harm."


"Even so, Stacy, it is dangerous. I'd rather I took precautions. You see, in human zoos, they keep the lions behind bars, so that even if a child may poke it with a stick, that they will not come to any harm."


"Did you just compare me to a lion?" I exclaim, rather offended.


"Yes, as a matter of fact I did."


She snaps her fingers and all of a sudden I am in a cage. Still in the chariot, but curled up into a little ball of energy, trapped as I sway from side to side. My breath catches in my throat, my heart pounding as blood roars in my ears.


   “So, what do you do as work, Darla?” Stacy asks in a lower tone. “Are you a carpenter, baker, farmer? Or do you work in one of the cities, like an office worker? I've heard they've got many resistances out there, though we haven't been allowed to take any down yet. The community will, though, in time, none of its Keda's fault that's happening, even though they've all pinned the blame on her, are all planning to assassinate her." I purse my lips. "They will torture you if you don't say anything, you know. You should confess to all your crimes now."

"Do you even know why I'm here, Stacy?"

"You were planning to kill the queen, and fight her. You've been caught, and you're being taken for a trial. Everyone knows that."

So not a fight. No chance for me to plunge a fiery knife through Keda's heart, no chance to put her head on a stake and show it to my old friend Death, no chance to tell the world that we can't give in to Keda's lies. That she's still evil, and nothing can stop that.

  “So maybe you do have a brain, after all." I turn to her. "But you're wrong about a lot of things. I am not a farmer, or an office worker, nor am I a member of some secret underground resistance that clearly isn't secret enough to hide from you anyway. I am not here for a trial, I am here for one thing, and that is to kill your queen. And I will do it, too, no matter how hard they all try to stop me."

   “So you're one of the warriors then," she said quietly. "You’ve got that kind of angry look about you, like you could rip someone apart any moment if you had the strength. You're a lone wolf, you don't bow to anyone but yourself and you don't give up on the idea of a fight, not even if it kills you."

   “NO!” I shouted at the girl, who jumped in fright. “No, I won't give up on a fight, not if its this fight, a fight that's worth dying for if it means I can have my vengeance!"

"I didn't say it was a bad thing," she whispered quietly in my ear. "Have you considered that I might be one of them, too."


I raise my head to look at her. She grins.

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