Chapter III: Tempests, Thunder, and Trickery (Part 1)

A YOUNG GIRL OF EIGHT stumbled into her father’s room, pushing the door open with a slow creak. It was filled with lots of books and many glittery medals decorating the walls. She was curious to find her mother, as her gaze looked up and around the mysterious room. Her father had told her that she needed to stay in her room when it became late at night now that she was old enough, but her mother offered to read her a story. “Mama, Mama, Where are you?”

“Charlotte sweetie, what are you doing here so late?” Spoke a mysterious voice to her right and the girl turned quickly around. There stood her Papa with a four year old sleepy Skylar in his arms.

“I’m looking for Mama. Papa, she disappeared when I wanted her to read me a story.” The smile her father gave her some encouragement about her Mama’s disappearance. “Don’t worry, she didn’t disappear. Ah speak of the devil Mama, Charlotte was looking for you.”

Mama appeared through the entryway with a book in her hand. “Mama! There you are!”

“I should be saying that to you Charlotte! You weren’t in your bed!”

“It was only because you disappeared all of a sudden.” She laughed as her Mama pulled her into a hug.

“I was finding two things. One is your favorite book and something for your Papa.” She showed little Charlotte a dark black stone that was as black as night.

“What’s that Mama?” Her Mama gave her a reassuring grin.

“This was a protective charm that Papa and I found. But I can only grant it to someone worthy.” Little Charlotte jumped diligently back and forth between her Mama and Papa.

“I can be worthy! I’m a good child!” They gave her a smile before handing her the stone.

“I’m sure you can when you are older my sweet Charlotte. It may come to aid you one day if you decide to seek the rest.” Little Charlotte gave a puzzled expression.

“The rest?” She questioned, but her Mama had no more to say except:

“Come now, off to bed—” Charlotte had started to giggle when her Mama started to tickle her into motion. Her Papa also started to laugh at the antics his family was starting and Skylar had begun awakening in her Papa’s arms.

Suddenly everything froze, her mother wasn’t moving, Skylar and her father were standing completely still and eerily quiet. “Papa? Skylar?…Mama?”

As if her voice broke the world itself, the floor tumbled in and she collapsed inside to appear in her room. Slapping her cheeks Charlotte ran to her mirror to look at herself. There stood a thirteen year old bashful, yet gorgeous Charlotte staring into nothing.

“I thought I was with Mama, Skylar and Papa.” She murmured, but before she could say anything else she picked up another noise with her ears. The door was opening slowly, too slowly which caused her to take a step back.

“Charlotte, could you help me with this bow? Papa wanted me to accompany him to the masquerade ball tonight.” A boy of nine entered. He had light brown hair that was poorly combed into a semi-fashionable way. No matter how many times they had taken a brush to his hair, it would bounce back to the glorifying bed head. 

Heaving a quick sigh Charlotte relaxed when she recognized the hazel eyes her younger brother sported.

“Charlotte you look beautiful just like Papa said! He said it was Mama’s dress after all!” Skylar who seemed to forget about his previous dilemma quickly grabbed Charlotte’s wrists and helped her out of her stupor.

“Right—but didn’t you need help with your bow?”

Skylar looked up at his elder sister with his hazel eyes, “After we see Papa!”

Charlotte couldn’t help but smile at Skylar’s eagerness. He was kind to everyone he liked, always spoke the truth, and was quiet to those around him. He had a reserved quality about how he presented himself, even at nine. Further he was always on point with that gut instinct of his.

Reaching the door handle, Skylar pulled it open and there stood Papa. “Papa, we were just looking for you.”

Their Papa just smiled and patted the boy on the head. “I was just looking for you as well. Charlotte, you look elegant. I’m glad I kept that dress from your mother. If she were here, she would be glad.” Blushing at the compliment, Charlotte bashfully looked down and slightly did a curtsy.

“Thank you Papa.” Soon her elegance was forgotten as Skylar played with the tail coat of his jacket. He wanted to look remarkable just like his older sister had to their Papa.

“I was wondering what seemed off, but you’re missing the bow Skylar. Other than that, you look like a real gentleman. You would make any woman proud.”

“Thanks Papa!” Skylar grinned ear to ear then, only the walls had shattered around them. Once again, the world around Charlotte seemed to have disappeared.

“Papa? Papa? Where’d you go? Skylar, don’t leave! Don’t leave me alone!”

Collapsing into the darkness around her, she realized another four years had passed and gone. She wasn’t the eight year old attached to her Mama’s side. She wasn’t the eight year old girl who learned of her mother’s disappearance and then sudden death a month after showing her that stone.

She wasn’t the thirteen year old girl whom danced the night away with the baron’s sons and countless suitors. She wasn’t the thirteen year old girl whom waved her Papa and Skylar off on their voyage a week after that.

She had just turned seventeen years old, and was standing in the middle of the carnage in her Uncle’s estate. She was adopted at the age of thirteen and raised as a proper gentlewoman. Only now, that too was disappearing. The flames that flickered in her peripheral danced as it destroyed all she ever had known.

“What’s going on? Hey!” People ran left and right around her, memories and killings playing over and over in front of Charlotte.

“Help me! Help!”

“Save us!

“Spare us! General, help us!”

The cries from the dying people made Charlotte start to cry, why was this happening? Why?

“Everything.” The mysterious man who thrown her off the cliff simply states and disappears in the blanket of flames. Feeling his presence still there, Charlotte recovered some strength to stand and started running away. “You can’t run forever, retainer.”

‘Heavy… It’s too heavy…’ Terrified, Charlotte tried to run away from him only to run into the woman with penetrating blue eyes. Falling, she scrambled away using her feet and wrists hearing his laughter from all around her. The woman was slowly walking to her, as if she were a lion in wait about to eat its first meal of the day.

Charlotte used all of her strength to get up and followed the flame’s open path. It was there that she recognized a familiar stance.

“Skylar!” Charlotte shouted to her twelve year old brother. He was standing still with his back toward her.

“Skylar! The pirates came to the port to kill us! They killed Uncle and he is now after us… we have to escape!” Charlotte couldn’t help but feel a foreboding sensation as she realized something wasn’t right. Why didn’t he respond? Why wasn’t he running away with her? Why wasn’t he helping her?

“Sky-” Her voice disappeared when he turned around with his sword out. He had tears streaming down his face as he thrust his weapon into her. The feeling of steel connected into her nerves as she looked down. Blood was slowly seeping from the wound as she gaped in shock. Her Skylar… her little baby brother had just stabbed her.

“I’m sorry—if it wasn’t for me… Forgive me.”

Before she could speak, Zaine’s laugh spilled all around her as she felt her life essence leaving her body.

“Die quickly Charle. I won’t have you dying a slow miserable death like they want. I’m sorry.” His tears were still there as he withdrew his sword. Standing off into the distance was the man with the white mask, when Skylar noticed his presence; he merely turned and walked to him. Sheathing his rapier and the boy looked at Zaine who had raised his hand to pat his head.

“Good job Skylar.”

Skylar stood silent as he turned back to the dying Charlotte. She looked sad, even depressed, until anger covered over her emotions as she hissed out. Blood spilled out as the words came pouring from her lips.

“What did you do to him?!! Skylar! What does he have on you?! SKYLAR!” The two ignored her screams and began to walk into the surrounding fires. As the flames arose Charlotte screamed out for Skylar to come back until complete darkness soothed her.

It was pretty warm, more than likely her blood seeping out of her. Charlotte knew she was dying. She knew that time slowed and flip flopped for the dying and maybe that was the reason why she was feeling really warm. Like if someone was holding her close. Yearning for death’s embrace, Charlotte tried to curl into its warmth and started to relax.

“It’s not bad dying… I’m sorry—Skylar. I failed you—”

۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞

Chapter III: Tempests, Thunder, and Trickery (Part 2)

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