The End of Illusion
Part 5 - The Silly Prophecy
Allana woke up feeling disoriented. For a split second she thought she was back in her room, in Everlyn, and almost expected to hear Dana knock on the door in order to inform her of Heric’s newest whim. However, as her senses came back to her so did her memory, and all that had happened flashed in front of her eyes, leaving her immediately wide awake, her heart beating furiously inside her chest.
Blood!, she thought in a panic sitting up, looking at her shaky hands. Her throat closed, blocking her airways. Turning her head she saw him right there, since she was seating between his legs and had probably been leaning against his bloodied chest. His deadly pale face stopped her heart for a moment and she shook uncontrollably.
Dark circles surrounded his closed eyes and she could swear he wasn’t breathing. And so she practically jumped out of her skin when he frowned. Unconsciously, her golden eyes followed his every move, watching his long, dark eyelashes flutter open to reveal a pair of black and clearly weary eyes. The soft smile that stretched his lips made her heart go back to beating furiously again, returning the warmth to her frozen body, and she could hardly believe when his lips parted and his voice came out.
“Allana …” he whispered, sounding relieved to find her there, but she was still in shock, refusing to believe what was happening right before her eyes.
“You’re … alive …”
Elian smiled again, raising a hand to touch his bloodied chest and shrugged.
“Is that disappointment?” he retorted jokingly but she was too perplexed to follow his lead.
“But … I thought … I … It’s impossible … I thought … oh …” she muttered at a loss for words and tears filled her eyes sliding down her cheeks. Elian sat up and placed a comforting hand over her trembling head.
“I’m alright. Really, Allana. I’m okay,” he said, trying to calm her down, and she looked at him still in disbelief. She tried to avoid him when he held her hand and forgot to breathe when he flattened it over his own chest. But then … his skin was warm to the touch, not cold like that of the dead. And she could feel his heart beat, strong and steady, as his chest raised with every breath he took. He was alive!, the words echoed in her mind bringing her a relief that would’ve certainly made her drop to the ground if she were standing. To her amazement he laughed, filling the small room with the warm sound of his voice, and she wanted to cry and laugh as well, and hug him tightly, but couldn’t make her trembling body move.
“I thought … I had lost you …” she confessed, her heart still hurting just from remembering the feeling of despair that had come over her when she’d thought she’d killed him, and Elian smiled with a small hint of defiance.
“I’m not that easy to kill.”
And it was almost as if she had seen a bad dream, she thought still touching his smooth, warm skin, if it weren’t for all that blood …
“But … how …?” the words escaped her bewildered lips and then she became conscious of her hand touching him, the same hand that had almost killed him. She pulled it back, averting her gaze, and squeezed it hard as if she tear it off.
“I never intended it to … I thought it would never … happen again …” she whispered nervously, a dark dread heavy in her voice, confirming what he had guessed before, that it wasn’t the first time that something like that had happened. And, for a moment, he just sat there, not knowing what to say to her to make it better. For he knew nothing could forgive something like that. And sure, he could tell her that he was alright and show her that he was still alive, but he knew that any other wouldn’t have been so lucky. Which meant she had killed someone before. And although he understood it wasn’t really her fault, life was too precious. For although it was easy enough to kill someone, nothing could return that someone back to life once that life was lost.
He sighed as looked at her. So small, her shoulders trembling, tears running silently down her cheeks even though she tried hard to hide them from him. No more than a scared child. And although he knew otherwise, he still couldn’t see in her as the dangerous murderer he now knew she could be.
“It’s okay … It’s all over now,” he told her, hugging her, pulling her against his chest. She felt so frail and weak, far from the strong independent girl he had grown used to see amongst his Knights.
“It’ll never be okay … I’m a monster! And you … you should just have fulfilled the prophecy …” she said, drying her tears, and tried to sit up, but Elian wouldn’t allow it, holding her firmly.
“What are you talking about? What prophecy is that?”
She sat very still for an instant and then turned around to look at him, her bloodshot golden eyes gazing at him in disbelief.
“They really … didn’t tell you?”
“Is this about that thing you told me before? That we shouldn’t be together and that something terrible was supposed to happen?” She lowered her head and nodded.
“That's the reason why your father expelled my mother from Mithir … Because when I was born there was this old woman staying at the palace and, as soon as she laid eyes on me she knew exactly what I’d … become … And she predicted that, in the future, your life would be in danger. And so she told your father that the only thing to do was to keep us apart, so that you could live. And that, when the time came, the good in you would defeat the evil in me. As I understand, mother was really angry with your father because he used to call me an … instrument of evil. And he forbade you from ever coming close to us. And when one of the guards appeared … dead … in my room … he expelled us. Everyone believed that it had been me that …” her voice crumbled as she became unable to go on and Elian sat silent for an instant, trying to take it all in.
Suddenly he laughed, startling her, and she looked up at him in bewilderment.
“Oh … I’m sorry,” he asked, his broad smile confusing her even more.“But that story is just too funny! Or should I say silly? Gosh, and to think that my crazy father believed that stuff and even expelled aunt because of that.”
“Elian! This is serious!” she contradicted, almost scolding him, but he looked at her raising his eyebrows in disbelief.
“Oh, come on! You’re not going to tell me you believe that load of crap, right?!
“But … it’s the truth …”
“Please! If I recall correctly you were only a baby, back then. A small chubby baby on a cradle! Basically you slept, ate and cried! You really believe a small baby like that could represent any kind of danger?”
“You saw what I did!” she demanded angrily.
“Yeah, I sure did. Felt it too. Not a good experience, if you ask me. So what?”
“So what …?!” she repeated now looking at him as if she were before a crazed person. “How can you say that like it was nothing …? How can you talk as if it what happened is something … normal?”
“Not normal, that’s for sure. But not at all that weird. At least not weirder that the fact that I’m still here, talking to you,” he answered and she was left at a loss for words. “Listen. It’s true we’re a bit different from the rest of the people that surrounds us. But that’s it! Nothing else. Maybe we should have been sent to the Tower of High Magic to study and learn about our abilities. Maybe if we had been sent there we could have learned how to better control and perfect our gifts. However, we were both born into royal families. And we’re both the sole heirs to our Kingdoms. And so it’s understandable that the people around us would choose to ignore our gifts, pretend that they don’t exist, and try hard to make us believe that it’s wrong to use them, so that they may keep us here to fulfill our roles as Heirs to the Throne.”
“Just … as simple as that …” she muttered, still thinking about what he had said, and Elian smiled.
“Yes. As simple as that.”
“But what about the prophecy?”
“As you guessed, I had never heard about such a thing. And, being who I am, I can’t really say that that old woman was a fake. After all, she did foresee you were a gifted child. But probably, just as we can’t really control our gifts, she too, couldn’t interpret correctly her visions. That is if there really was an old woman, and this whole story isn’t something our parents made up as an excuse for some stupid argument that lead us all to where we stand. Besides, can you imagine? We, together, as children? I don’t believe the palace could have survived that in one piece, what to say about the people living in it,” he added, playfully, and Allana smiled briefly, which was enough to make him happy.
“But you saw … what I’m able to do … This is no gift at all.”
“To kill, right?” he asked, using the words she seemed to want to avoid. “Don’t know if you noticed, but most people you’ve met since arriving here are also able to do that, some of them quite coldly and efficiently, if I may say so. Just ask Denar how many have fallen before his sword. He probably lost count by now. Does that make him a monster like you call it?”
“But it’s different! I … I can’t control it … The voice in my head starts screaming … and everything starts spinning … and then … I’m not me anymore, I’m not here anymore. And when I come to … there’s only … blood … I never meant to hurt you!” she said, looking anxiously at him as if she were still afraid he wouldn’t believe that, and Elian smiled placing a hand on her head.
“I know. You wanted to protect me, right? That’s why you told me to keep away … but I didn’t listen. I’m sorry,” he asked and she lowered her gaze, looking sad. “It’s your emotions, Allana. You lose control when you feel pressured. I know. Sometimes it happens to me too, and when I look around every one is fast asleep. It used to happen quite frequently when I was younger.”
“Asleep … Elian, I kill people!”
“Well, it sure looks like it. Which is bad, I agree. But at least you’re much better at controlling yourself than I used to be. If not, most people around you would be dead by now, right? Heric, for starters …”
Allana averted her gaze and shook her head.
“I swore to myself that I would never hurt him! I had sworn this would never happen again since …”
“Since …?” he asked, hoping she’d go on, but Allana remained silent and he knew she wouldn’t talk about that any further. “Let’s just forget it, then! Okay? Things from the past should stay in the past. And, as I’ve told you, it was also my fault. Nothing happened and I’m fine as you can see. You’re okay too, so everything is alright.” he told her, trying to cheer her up, which didn’t really work. “How about this? Since this is something that clearly bothers you, and since you can feel it when you’re about to … lose control, if something like this ever happens again just come to me! I’ll try and stop you. And, even if I can’t, I’ll take the blow and no one will end up being hurt. Agree?”
“But I’ll be hurting you …” she countered, looking guiltily at his torn and bloodied shirt.
“I won’t say it didn’t hurt. But it was just for a moment. Hardly something unbearable. I heal really fast!” he lied, reassuring her although she still didn’t look completely convinced, and so he smiled as a final touch. “So, do we have a deal?” She hesitated for a moment but ended up nodding. “Great! And now let’s just forget all this and all that crazy stuff about tragic prophecies, okay? As you’ve seen, you can’t really hurt me anyway, and I don’t intend to hurt you either. After all, I’m the stupid Prince that waited sixteen years to see you again,” he added, laughing as if making fun of himself, but she knew better. That was something actually really important to him, something she couldn’t really understand but that somehow made her feel very happy. He sighed and his expression became serious as he faced her. “And I’m sorry for not telling you about Everlyn before. Truth is … I didn’t want you to leave …”
“I … I didn’t want to leave either …” she confessed, looking away, feeling even more depressed. “But I have to … My mother it there … and Dana, and Selina … And all the people … Everlyn will fall. And I … even though I really wanted to, the truth is that I can’t run away from who I am.”
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’m not!” she said, raising her head, suddenly back to the Allana he was used to see, strong and unwavering, although that also meant cold and distant, almost untouchable. “I cannot allow all those people to die just like that," she decided. "I’m sure Heric will refuse to give the order to evacuate the city. He's too proud, too full of himself to admit defeat before the war starts. He’ll probably try to arm the people and use them on the battle field. I can’t allow that!”
“You’re thinking about facing him, then?”
“There’s no other way, is there? I’ll just have to make him listen to what I have to say!” she confirmed and he couldn’t help smile feeling rather proud of her determination.
“I’m coming with you.”
“Oh, no. You can’t! You have to stay and get your Knights ready! After Everlyn they’ll most certainly march on Mithir!”
“There are plenty of Knights able to do that. Besides, it can’t hurt to take a direct look at the enemy’s forces. Listening to reports and seeing it with my own eyes are two complete different things.”
“Elian … I still don’t think …”
“It’s no use, Your Highness. I’ve already decided!”
Allana sighed and smiled. The truth was that his words made her feel reassured. She could pretend to be strong and to know exactly what she wanted to do, but the truth was that the idea of facing Heric still scared her a lot.