“Why can’t you just tell me?” She trailed behind him as he walked quickly through the fog of his domain.
“Because, I don’t need reminders.” Essence reached out to grab his arm. Antonio stopped short with an annoyed sigh before turning to face the young girl. Her emerald eyes stared at him curiously and he found himself leaning towards her. “No.” He stopped himself. That could have been disastrous. He yanked his arm away and continued forward.
“You don’t need reminders because of what happened or of what you did?”
The immortal frowned at her question. Was there a difference? Of course there was. Damn. He should have never left the mountain while near her, the new witch got caught in his transportation cloud because of that. He was to weak to send her back right now. Surely, Aldric would be furious, but he’d deal with him later.
“Please. If I’m going to be stuck here, I should at least know something about you. Especially since you won’t tell me why you saved me in the first place.”
She stood a few feet away from him. Her brown skin pale against the grey fog, her curls bounced around her shoulders as the wind danced with them and the emerald of her eyes standing out above all else. He could see the power in them. Her magic. It was why she was so easy to spot. Take one look at those astounding eyes and a magical being would know. This was Aria. The daughter of the two most powerful Guardians the world would never know about. Eyes like that are the product of more than supposed to have power. Even though he could see it in those eyes, he knew not of their origin, or who her parents were. If he did, it would make things even more awkward as he was the one who murdered them.
The young immortal sighed. He motioned for her to join him as he sat down on nothing. Essence furrowed her brow as she drew closer to see him… floating. This magic stuff was too much. He motioned for her to sit. “There’s nothing to sit on.”
“You doubt yourself too much. This is why Aldric almost killed you.” Her eyes widened as his own brown stared intently at her. “You have enormous magic. It’s visible in your eyes, you just need to stop doubting it and embrace it.”
With a slight hesitation, Essence sat feeling herself being held up by… magic? She smiled in delight. Wait till she told Bastian, he would flip! Tess too! Though she was a little harder to read. Antonio huffed and began his tale.
When he was a young boy, he lived in the magical realm with his parents and younger sister. His father had grown up with magical ties to wizards. Although it was never spoken about, his father gave up his path to be with the woman he loved. He lived his life as a blacksmith in their small village. His young mother was a magical healer and his younger sister had an affinity towards such abilities. He himself, showed no power which he was perfectly content with. Magic brought trouble.
“Anton?” The young man looked up as his name was called pausing in his work. His mother stood at the entrance of the barn. Her beautiful dark skin catching the rays of the setting sun, her long ebony hair cascading about her shoulders, adorned with beads and braids. “When you have finished with the horses, could you please go fetch your sister? I would like for her to come home soon.”
“Yes mother.” She smiled at her son and turned to head back into their house. Anton sighed. Nesta was always running off. She said she loved to be among the forest with the trees and animals. He did not understand if it was because Healers had connections to nature or if it was just her aloof nature.
Once finished, Anton wiped his brow and headed out to find his young sister. The village was settling down as the sun disappeared behind the hills. Light music could be heard from the small tavern and lights were on sporadically in the Inn. It was getting too dark for her to still be out and about. She was only fourteen years.
He walked throughout the trees calling her name but heard and saw nothing. Where is she? Light barely remained as he came upon noise in the distant clearing.
“Move over, it’s my turn.” Laughter and drunken teases were heard through the bushes and trees. Anton recognized a few of those voices. One of them sounded like Edgar, he was a few years older than Anton but his father was the Banker of the village, giving his family a bit more wealth than the others. Anton knelt down and crawled through a few of the bushes to see what all of the merriment was about. There was a group of at least seven men, all about his age huddled around something going on in the middle.
“Come on now Albert!” They were laughing and pushing each other. He could smell the mead and scrunched his nose. When the crowd parted, he noticed a slim figure in the middle of the circle brown skirts torn around brown legs, the girl was still on the ground causing Anton to move closer.
“Nesta!?” He pushed himself off of the ground and ran into the clearing pushing the men away from the crumbled figure of his younger sister. He collapsed beside her. “Nesta? Please….” Her wide brown eyes were open but they were blank.
“Oh Anton, you just had to ruin it. Get outta the way!” Odo shouted trying to push the girl’s brother out of the circle. He refused to be moved but continued to call his sister’s name over and over.
“Nesta please look at me.” She was alive but barely. Her eyes stared up at the night sky, she did not move. He pulled her close, cradling her ebony head under his chin. How could do they do this to her? He’d always known his sister was beautiful, she caught the eyes of many single men in the village but she was too young! She caught feelings for the baker’s son but that was all. Nothing more. His glaring eyes searched the circle to make sure that boy wasn’t here because he would tear him limb from limb if so. To his relief, the boy was not present. His eyes however, fell upon Edgar who could barely stand straight.
“Don’t give me that stable boy. She led us here. She wanted us to follow her into these trees, why else would she walk past my house?”
“She always comes out here. She always takes the path near your home as it leads to this clearing.” He couldn’t stop his voice from shaking as he fought to hold back the tears. The men laughed continuing to shout lewd words directed at his sister. Anton stood to his feet, carrying the girl with him. He cradled Nesta close to his chest and pushed past the still laughing and cheering men.
The full moon sat high in the dark sky. His father seemed to be finishing up in the shed as the fire didn’t seem to burn as high.
“Mother! Father!” He cried as he walked towards the house. His father came from the shed but dropped his tools seeing his baby girl still in his son’s arms.
“Constance!” She came into the door, before running out to meet her family. “Anton what happened to Nesta?” James, his father gathered her into his arms and quickly carried her into their house. He laid her upon her bed as Constance gathered herbs, bowls, liquids that hung from the ceilings. Although she was a magical healer, she still required items to sometimes speed up processes and to focus her magic.
“Edgar and the others attacked her in the forest. I came upon them, they were drunk and… dad I’m, is she going to be alright?”
Constance crushed up herbs quickly, Anton didn’t always understand which ones worked the best but waited. She laid her hands on Nesta’s chest, while James wiped her legs and feet with a warm cloth. Anton felt useless. “Mother, is she going to be alright?”
“I do not know Anton.” She said quietly as she continued to focus, channeling her healing magic into her daughter. If Nesta could just react, fight for her life, then the combined magic of the two Healers might save her.
Anton could not continue to stand there knowing he was useless. He stormed out of the house ignoring his father calling his name. He ran towards the Tavern where he knew Edgar and his ilk would be hiding out. He burst through the door, his brown eyes narrowing on the chestnut haired man. The stable boy stalked over to him and stood behind him his fists clenching and unclenching tightly.
“What do you want stable boy?” Odo sneered. Edgar turned and grinned up at the boy. Anton said nothing but continued to glare angrily. The young man stood managing to push Anton back a bit.
“What?” Edgar snapped taking another swig from his tin cup. Anton turned swiftly on his heel and walked out of the Tavern. With a chuckle, the group followed him to the edge of the village. “You don’t want to do this boy.”
“You’re only four years older, I’m no boy. But my sister was just a girl! She could die because of what you all did to her.”
He shrugged looking indifferent. “She shouldn’t walk about pretending to be ignorant of her ways.” With a snarl, Anton launched himself at Edgar, knocking him to the dirt. They both landed with a grunt. The others formed a circle around the two as they rolled around, smashing each other’s faces into the first. Anton rolled atop the older man and tried to get as many hits as possible.
Edgar fumbled for something, leverage to knock the crazed stable boy off of him. His slender fingers found a stone and he smacked it across Anton’s face causing the boy to fall sideways. He groaned in pain, holding his hand to the cut on above his eye. Odo and some of the others held the boy down as the group began to fight as well.
It felt like an eternity to Anton as they all beat him into the ground. “Enough.” Edgar said pulling back from his beatings. The boy moaned in pain and he sneered grasping the collar of his shirt and yanking him up. “This is what happens to stable boys who think they can fight me. You should have minded your own business. Sister or not. Come to me again and I’ll make sure you don’t get up.” He let go. Anton dropped to the ground with a pained groan. Odo stomped on his ribs once more before following the others.
He laid there for hours. He wasn’t sure how long but he could barely feel the rest of his body. Everything hurt. Brown eyes stared at the full moon and the stars and he couldn’t help the tear that slipped from his swollen eye. Nesta could not be avenged because he failed.
“Have you really?” An old voice whispered from above him. The young man gasped in surprise seeing the wrinkled pale skin of an old woman, her hair pulled up in a loose bun of white curls. “Have you really failed Anton?” She put her hand to his forehead and all of the pain was drained away, like she was pulling it herself. He could see clearly from his swollen eye, his ribs no longer ached when he breathed.
“W-who? Are you a Healer?”
She laughed, a raspy sort of sound and shook her head. “Goodness no, wouldn’t be bothered with all of the limits that come with traditional healing. Doesn’t matter who or what I am. I can help you.”
“Help me?” She nodded. Anton sat up and she created fire out of nothing. His eyes widened. She was powerful. Who was she? “You can save my sister?” The woman tilted her head in the direction of the warm fire but shook her head.
“Unfortunately, her fate is not in my hands. Not if she does not want to be saved. You on the other hand…” she touched her warm hand to his cheek “…I can help you. I want to help you. I can help you avenge your sister.”
She smiled. It was sort of chilling but he couldn’t look away. He needed to know what she could do for him. “Your father is descendant from wizards and your mother is a healer. You have the magic inside of you. Why haven’t you used it? Tapped into it?”
“I never needed it. I have been content with my life. My father gave up being a wizard to be with my mother and have a family. I am content on doing the same. At least I was.” Nesta could be dying but he was out here listening to an old stranger woman who offered him a chance. “How will you help me?”
“I will help you dig deep inside and release the magic that sits and builds in your core.”
“Wh-” Before his question could be asked, she moved, quicker than he thought an old woman could move. Her hands were on his face and he felt flames bleed from her fingers into his skin. It poured through his body. He could hear himself screaming in pain as the fire inside of him grew to the point where he was sure he would explode.
“Feel it and I will give you more.” Her words caressed his ears and he just let go.
This one is kind of long, so if you made it to the end, thanks for reading! This is something I’m playing with. It’s a companion piece to “This Dream is False“, they’re part of the same novel but this part I haven’t decided if it’ll actually be in the novel, or if it’ll be part of a short story detailing the background of the Antonio character.