Chapter 7 - Separation
The girl standing in front of me looked exactly like me, the same wild auburn hair, and the same skinny body. But something feels off, her presence was dangerous and sickening. A desire for power, a desire to kill, so strong it had me taken aback.
She had a sickening grin on her face.
“Do you have any questions? How are you handling your powers so far?” she chuckled, tipping my chin up. Her crimson eyes were glowing with an intensity I had never seen before in anyone.
“You want to fight, Seraphina,” her voice was like a mantra.
“You want to kill, you want to destroy.”
“I don’t think I’m strong enough,” I managed, tears stinging my eyes.
“My dear, you don’t know how powerful you are!” she said, her eyes widening in surprise. “Use that hatred, use that darkness in you to channel your powers and you will see just how much power you can wield,” she crooned.
“You are destined to be a leader, live up to it would you?” her expression changed into raw anger as she shook my shoulders forcefully. “You need to be stronger, even stronger!” she hissed at me.
Without warning, she disappeared and I fell into someone else’s embrace.
A very familiar embrace.
I could recognize those eyes anywhere.
I felt my father messing up my hair again.
“We will always love you, Seraphina,” familiar words by familiar people that were already gone.
“What do I do ma?” I cried, slamming my fists onto my knees in frustration. “I don’t know what to do,” I listened to my own voice break as I asked my parents helplessly. The tears of frustration welled in my eyes and trailed down my face.
“Listen to your calling, listen to your heart,” my mother’s gentle voice was calming, but it wasn’t enough. My father pulled me into his embrace, hugging me tightly. An embrace I have missed and yearned for. He said nothing, and I needed no words.
I calmed down slowly.
What am I going to do now? What should I do now?
“Listen to your calling, be the leader you were born to be. Harness your powers and your emotions. Lead, rebel and destroy.”
“We will always support you on whatever decision you make, but you cannot take too long, it is almost time,” my father said as he stroked my hair.
“Time for what?” I asked, everything was starting to blur.
“Time to move on,” he replied softly. “We won’t always be here for you, Seraphina. You are in charge of your own destiny.”
The blur spread, my parents slowly faded away and I drifted into deep sleep.
Helia found Seraphina sleeping outside yesterday night. She came in embarrassed, saying Shiki helped her sleep better with his calming presence. It was understandable, that hound’s presence was really remarkable. I am also quite surprised she managed to snuck pass me and Terron in the living room without waking us up. Guess it was probably because both of us were utterly exhausted and we slept like dead logs.
Shiki had gestured to me, wanting to have a word with me. I walked outside towards him, where he sat on a huge flat boulder. He was enjoying the morning sun with his eyes closed. His black fur glistened under the light.
“What is it?” I asked as I approached him.
“What are you planning?” he opened his golden amber eyes lazily. I was taken aback by the sudden question, but I understood where he came from.
“I’m intending to go back to Gairon to tell my council members about Seraphina, we could make plans about the oncoming rebellion,” I told him solemnly.
“The darkness tells me that Gairon’s oracle has found Seraphina’s presence, so I’m sure the high leaders of your village already know that an Eshban has awakened,” Shiki replied.
I looked at him like he was nuts. “The oracle found her?” I asked in shock.
“Yes, her presence is pretty easy to find since she has yet to craft her spirit weapon, Helia’s trying her best to hide her. Furthermore, Suyoi’s remains leave obvious marks of a fire mage, the nearest villages may have already known,” he growled.
“I’ll still need to head back and see what my leaders have in mind for the rebellion, and see what they want to do with Seraphina,” I hesitantly continued.
“What to do with Seraphina? Do you treat her as a mere tool?” his eyes flashed angrily at me.
I instantly regretted my choice of words.
“No, I didn’t mean that…” I was at a loss of words.
He was right though, did I see Seraphina as just a mere stepping stone for the rebellion? I ran that thought through my head.
“Do you have a better plan then?” I asked, changing the topic and proceeding to fold my arms.
“She will need to stay here a bit longer with Helia, she needs to have her spirit weapon summoned as soon as possible. I suggest you and Land head back to Gairon and discuss with your leaders. The only question you’ll need to ask is if they are willing to pledge their loyalty if there was a rebellion led by an Eshban? Nothing more, nothing less, understood?”
“Shiki isn’t just a normal warrior, he’s an assassin. His strategies play a big part in his success.”
I remembered what Land had told me before. A part of me was aggravated at his air of superiority, but I understood where he was coming from.
He did not want to risk leaking any necessary information regarding Seraphina until the time was right.
His plan made perfect sense.
“My village has been waiting for the rebellion for a long time, shouldn’t be a problem to ask them to pledge their loyalty, especially since she’s Eshban,” I said confidently.
Land sashayed out of the doorway and came to our side.
“We will need Gairon’s confirmation, I will stay longer here with Helia, to help her out with the necessary procedures and train Seraphina a bit more,” Shiki paused, deep in thought. “I’ll head back to my clan and ask for their decision as well.”
Now it was Land’s turn to look at him like he was nuts.
“You want the hellhounds to pledge to the rebellion?” he spluttered.
“Yes, and they most probably will, mainly because our current leader is born an Eshban, and second, I will accept their leadership offer if they join the rebellion.”
Land looked like he was going to faint, but he managed to stand his ground.
“It has been really long since I’ve seen your human form, when will we be seeing that handsome face around? Anytime soon?” Land teased, and Shiki rolled his eyes.
“Who exactly are you? Land never said much about who you really were, and I find it very intriguing,” I finally said it, the thing that has been bothering me for ages.
Shiki huffed and looked away, he didn’t seem to like people asking about anything related to his personal background.
“He’s the son of our current clan leader,” Land replied lazily, a stupid grin on his face.
I nearly dislocated my jaw in surprise.
“You mean he’s a direct descendant of the Xantara heritage?” I was almost shouting. “That literally means he’s the prince of your clan right?” I asked Land and he nodded in response.
“I am, uh, terribly sorry for my bad manners, your highness,” I said awkwardly.
“I ask people to call me Shiki for a reason, because I despise the title ‘your highness’,” the black hound glowered at me, his amber eyes glowing dangerously. “What matters most now is that we need to get things done as fast as we can, we do not know when the Sovereign leaders will get to know of the existence of a living legend. And also, we do not have royalties in our clan. Leaders yes, but never royalty. We treat our people as our allies and we fight alongside each other. My family do not sit on a golden throne waiting to be served, we fight for our clan and we do not like to be named as kings, queens or princes.”
“Alright, I’m sorry,” I apologized.
It was still hard for me to accept what was just thrown at me. The Xantara heritage was the largest pack of hellhounds in the Fourth Region, their leaders well known for their battles and were very powerful. Shiki was literally the heir to this heritage. Which means that he was probably brought up, trained for war and conflict. His powers would probably overpower both me and Land easily in a fight.
“Everyone back home is used to calling you ‘prince’ though,” Land shrugged. “It fits you, Zoltar Xantara, the Prince of Darkness.”
I heard Shiki sigh helplessly.
“I’m sorry, what’s going on?” a small voice asked softly. I turned to see Seraphina looking at us by the doorway, afraid to interrupt.
“I was just planning out our schedule with Terron and Land, nothing much,” Shiki quickly said.
Guess he wasn’t too keen on revealing his true status to the girl just yet.
“We’ll be staying here for a little longer, we’ll be doing some physical training and I’ll teach you some other necessary skills for battle. Terron and Land will be heading back to Gairon, will you be alright with that?” Shiki asked gently.
He only treated Seraphina like that, his tone changes and his eyes softens at the sight of her. I was almost envious.
Land seemed to look amused, guess you don’t see the prince asking for permission every day.
“Urm, sure. Shall we get started then?” she asked, straight to the point.
She walked out to the sunlight. It brought out the red to her wavy auburn hair. The shine had returned to her eyes, she seemed more determined than before. Apparently Helia had got her some new clothes and she was wearing a simple white tank top with sleek black trousers that complimented her curves.
I wonder what she was planning to do next, but for now, it was pretty obvious she wanted to train.
Shiki leaped down from his boulder gracefully, landing silently.
“You two go ahead, we’ll be at the training ground if you need us,” he nodded at Land and gestured for Seraphina to follow him.
The duo headed out and we were left alone.
“So, shall we?” I asked Land and he sighed. The path down the mountain was harder than the way up.
“Do you think Gairon will pledge their loyalty to her?” I asked Land as he lowered himself for me to climb onto him.
“Helia! We’re leaving, thank you!” Land shouted and Helia grunted an answer from the kitchen.
“I think Brentwood will take it, the Sovereign hadn’t been completely kind on Gairon after all,” Land said as we set off.
“But the girl will need to be strong enough, I’m sure Brentwood would want to see her with his own eyes first before coming to a decision. Probably a duel to see how strong she is,” I said slowly.
Sir Brentwood was definitely not an easy opponent. He’s Gairon’s head general, and he is the one in charge of everything that goes on in the village despite not being the chief of the village. Cradley was a puppet, and everyone knew that he was useless. Even so, Brentwood would probably have a disadvantage against Seraphina since she’s a fire wielder. Her flames would burn through his plants as easily as he summoned them. And it’s been more than a century since the Eshban clan was destroyed, which means no one has fought a fire wielder for a long time.
No one would know what to do against her in a fight.
And from what Land had told us, at her level of control over her powers, a little time was all she needed to destroy everything in her path.
“I believe in the girl,” Land caught me off guard.
“She has nothing to lose, and she seemed to have already made up her mind on what to do next. I’m not sure if she will succumb to her own hatred, but I personally think that she will give it her all on the rebellion. Especially since Shiki’s by her side, his training is no joking matter. He doesn’t hold back with combat training, he would drill us until we couldn’t walk straight. With the amount of control Seraphina currently has and the training she’s going to get from Shiki, she’ll probably learn a lot in a short amount of time,” Land paused, slightly uneasy.
“She’s going to be grow very powerful.”
“Well, let’s hope for the best then. Now it’s our job to convince Brentwood, but do we need to return here to pass the message?” I grimaced at the thought of climbing Mount Sigmora again.
“The oracle can pass the message to Shiki easily, we won’t need to return. Let us just hope that Seraphina can handle what’s thrown at her for now.”
With that last sentence, Land leaped down the edge of the mountain.