Chapter 3 - Awakening
Night arrived, the darkness set faster in the woods. The large hellhound sat beside me in the bushes, where I could oversee the entire village. I have waited here since the evening, and now it’s getting dark.
“Land, what should I do?” I whispered.
The Sovereign had given me the entire day to surrender myself, using their loudspeakers to make sure I could hear them.
“Whatever you do, turning back is not an option,” he replied, his tail swaying slowly from side to side.
“What’s going to happen to my parents?” my voice trembled.
“Worse come to worse, they die,” Land answered monotonously.
I winced in response. Land had an impression of an old soldier, someone who has went through too many battles and wars, but he didn’t look very old. His limbs and his muscled body were still strong, though covered with a few scars here and there. His voice was somehow monotonous, with a deep undertone. His fur was quite rough, but well-groomed, probably taken care of by Terron.
My attention snapped back to reality when I heard someone shout. I saw the Sovereign officers emerging from my home. My father and mother were dragged along behind them in chains that rattled as the officers pulled at them to fasten their pace. I squinted my eyes, something seemed terribly wrong about their posture.
“They broke their arms,” Land’s voice struck me like a sledgehammer.
“No…” I whispered.
Those arms that once held me were broken.
“Seraphina Monard, the cursed one of the Eshban,” the loudspeakers sparked to life with static noises.
I cringed at the man’s voice.
“As you have not revealed yourself, nor surrender yourself, we hope you are watching what is to come,” his voice was low and sinister.
I forced myself to etch that man’s face into my mind in case I had the chance to have my revenge in the future.
The officers pushed my parents toward a pile of what seemed like black soil.
Those weren’t black soil, those were stacks of firewood.
“Oh no,” I whispered.
Two giant crosses were brought to the center of the village, carried by the villagers, the very people that worked with my father. My parents were shoved towards it roughly.
“I advise you to leave, girl,” Land nudged me with his nose, his voice laced with thick disgust. He knew what was going to happen next.
“I need to save them!” tears rolled down my face again. “I need to surrender myself, maybe they will listen!”
“If you surrender yourself then you will be burning with them!” Land snarled.
I heard hammering, and I turned back to a gruesome sight. They were nailing my parents to the crosses. I winced every time the officers hit the nail, it must be so painful, yet none of my parents were crying out in pain.
“See how much they sacrificed for you girl, and you want to give yourself up to these monsters?” Land barked, keeping his voice low. “They are not uttering a sound, afraid that you have not ran, afraid that you will turn back if you were to hear their cries,” Land’s eyes looked straight at me. “I advise you to leave, girl,” he said again.
I couldn’t tear my eyes off the scene. I was crying, I was in pain, but I couldn’t leave. My beloved parents, to die, in front of me.
“To be burned on the cross, according to the legends, the Eshban was of fire, thus we shall get rid of them the Eshban way,” the officer announced gleefully.
Some of the villagers turned their heads, refusing to watch.
Darkness swelled around me, night had arrived. The crosses were set within the firewood, one beside the other. Both of my parents looked serene, my mother even had a hint of a smile on her face.
“Any last words?” the officer looked at them like a wolf cornering its prey.
My mother’s voice was faint, but I could hear it all the same.
“Live long, Seraphina. You will always be our lovely child.”
The Sovereign officers sneered, yet an unknown fear rippled through them.
I realized that whatever legend that was tied to me, and whatever curse I bore had made an impact on the Sovereign. I could almost taste their fear in the air.
Was it the reason why they want me dead?
Was it the reason why they’re hunting me and my parents?
It wouldn’t just been because of a mere legend, it must have really happened back in the days for them to take the Eshban mark on me so seriously.
If it was really true, do I really bear the powers of the Eshban, the people of fire as the officer had said?
I looked at my parents helplessly, they were being brutally punished yet they had unwavering faith, and neither of them were cowering in the face of death.
“Your child was born to burn down the heavens! Born as one to rebel against the Sovereign, and yet you defend her,” the officer’s eyes looked like they were going to pop-out of his skull. His voice shook and his body trembled along with it.
“She is our child, no matter if she was born a monster or born with whatever doomed destiny, we will protect her, even if it means sacrificing our lives for her,” my dad growled.
Land nudged me again. But no, I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t take my eyes off my father’s arms, once strong, warm and protective, now broken and battered, nailed to a wooden cross, awaiting the fiery embrace of flames.
“Shall we start the execution?” the officer snapped his head back to another officer who was holding the torch.
My heartbeat echoed in my body. All of my instincts were screaming at me to run, but something inside me had me rooted to the ground.
Something in me wasn’t allowing me to back away.
“Do you desire power?”
If I am really of the devil, or the Eshban, or whatever the legends say, then grant me power, power to protect those I love, power to make me strong.
“Power to destroy.”
As they set fire onto the firewood, I stood there helplessly, angry and crying at myself for being completely worthless. That feeling of hopelessness clung itself onto me, seeping it’s roots down into my soul.
I don’t ever want to feel like this.
I don’t want to be helpless anymore.
I want to be strong.
I need to be strong.
Power, I need power.
Memories came flashing back, so many at once that I started to see stars that had all the colors of the spectrum. My father’s arms, my mother’s singing voice, a lullaby, an apple, and burning crosses. Like pictures, each memory was shown to me one by one.
“She was born to burn down the heavens!” It echoed endlessly in my mind.
“And burn down the heavens I will.”
In an instant, the woods surrounding my village burst into flames, yet they do not spread to the entire forest. The fire only trapped the people within the village.
My head was throbbing with all the visions and voices in my head, yet their screams were music to my ears.
Unknown strength, unknown power surged through me as I stabilized myself.
Land stared at me wide-eyed.
A sense of calm washed over me and I stood up from my hiding place.
At that moment, I was fearless.
Everything came to me naturally as I called forth my own fire.
It surrounded me gently, trying to comfort me in its fiery presence.
All I felt was calmness.
And the urge to slaughter.
I walked slowly down from the woods, my eyes taking in the view of the inferno I’ve created. These are my powers, the legends were true, the Eshban myth had come to life.
I stepped through the raging wall of flames.
They no longer scarred me, and they no longer burn me.
“May you wield the power to burn down the heavens.”
The people were still screaming, running around trying to diminish the fire. Water was a scarce source in my village, they won’t be dousing out my flames that easily.
“My fire is fueled by my rage, my sadness and my pain. No use trying to put it out now,” the voice within me mocked.
Was that myself? It didn’t sound like me, her voice was cold and merciless. Was I really the monster they said I was?
It doesn’t matter, they killed my parents, and they will pay.
They will burn.
Power surged through me, I felt completely different, this control, these flames, they felt natural to me, as if I’ve had these fiery powers my entire life.
I did not forget what I was supposed to do, with my newly gained strength, I willed myself to run towards where my parents were supposed to be, the massive pile of firewood.
The officers spot me.
“It’s her!” they screamed. All I hear was fear and cowardice.
A few had the guts to run toward me. I focused on them and they froze.
I charred their insides and watch them die slowly as they choked on their own cries.
All of you shall burn.
Smoke protruded from their mouth as they convulsed.
As the fire consumed the officers, I finally reached my parents.
Fire is merciless, and it had not spared them.
I clambered up through the flaming firewood.
They protect me, but only me, not my parents and not anyone else.
“Mother! Father” I cried out.
“My child…” my mother whispered, her voice hoarse.
“You awakened… your powers,” my dad choked from the smoke.
Half of their bodies were already burned beyond recognition, I had to put out the fire. And then something struck me, I was too far away from any water source, the lakeside was too far away for me to reach in order to save my parents.
And my parents knew.
“My child, we will always love you,” my mother smiled within the flames that licked at her beautiful face. The smell of burning flesh was overwhelming but I did not care.
My parents, I couldn’t save them.
I heaved myself to their height, throwing my arms around the both of them.
“I am so sorry,” I cried. “I’m sorry I can’t save you, my powers… they only allow me to destroy…” my voice was barely a whisper.
“I am proud of you Seraphina,” I looked into my father’s warm brown eyes for the last time with tears rolling down my cheeks, yet again. They hit the fire and it sizzled, my tears won’t be enough to put this inferno out.
All I could do was to hold them in my arms, and cry.
I cried and I cried, I cried until the flames stopped, I cried until everything went silent, and I cried until my parents were gone.
And until everything went dark.