Chapter 17:

Animus (Part 1).

A Reverie for Another Eternity

"Lives are meant to be taken, not led"Bookmark here

- King of the forgotten isleBookmark here

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Soaring well above the clouds and the destroyed cities, the bluebird held its two captives carefully within its talons. Blasting off into the distance, a lone spectator watched from her palace, her grip crushing the concrete underneath. This went unnoticed, however.Bookmark here

The bird traveled for three days and nights without rest, tearing through the salty winds and stormy scourges. Eventually, through the gray, smoky clouds, a gloomy watchtower could be seen in the distance. And with it came a citadel, the snow piling up on its frozen walls. Circling in, even more, they approached an ice castle, landing in front of its frozen gates.Bookmark here

A knight armored in pure white hopped down from the bird, lifting the two unconscious passengers in each arm. Their thick and heavy, red coat trailed on from behind, the edges wettening from the melting snow. Amidst the heavy snowfall, the three made their way inside, the gates gliding open in a cold welcome.Bookmark here

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Cold…Bookmark here

A red lily stood out alone in the freezing tundra. Yet, the ice never seemed to freeze over despite its best efforts. Hot and unwavering, it was rooted on a small, meaningless mound that the snow was slowly encroaching on. The sun continued to shine down, its light not making a dent in the snow.Bookmark here

But before she could see the takeover happen for herself, an unnerving chill ran down her spine as she awoke in a musty cot.Bookmark here

Quickly, she sat up, her breath shaky. She was in a well-lit room, gray stone as the surrounding walls. The lamplight flickered as the blizzard outside howled, rattling the windows. But what truly caught her eye was the stranger at the end of her cot.Bookmark here

Pale, white armor, with sharp, corrugated armor plates, the thing laid on her feet without a word. She could see the plates trembling with each breath taken, the figure snoring away. Though they weren’t quite heavy enough to cause her great discomfort, she still did feel a little weirded out. After all, she let out a sigh of relief at the realization of what had happened, this was the person who had saved them. And it wouldn’t be any good to wake them. Bookmark here

Lying next to her was Miyori, soundly sleeping away. Besides the bandages and IV solution bags, she seemed to be alive. With her soft breathing, her delicate hands, Mikuta was suddenly recalled to the danger that they were in, the danger that she had put them in.Bookmark here

An overwhelming urge to apologize and comfort her had sent her arm out. Without thinking, she jumped toward her cot, her feet smashing sideways against the helm of their savior. Tumbling down, a hard thud could be heard from the ice-slickened floors. Bookmark here

“Owww…”Bookmark here

The soft clanking of metal could be heard, much to her shock. Mikuta, lopsided and stuck face-first between the cots, tried her best to look upward from her awkward angle. Bookmark here

A hearty chuckle rumbled throughout the room. Bookmark here

“What did I tell you before, Adrianne? You can’t expect others to be as fit as you, so do try not to wake up your friend.”Bookmark here

Strong hands-on her ankles, she was pulled out and swiftly sat down on her cot. In front of her was an old man, his silver disheveled hair matching the wildness of his long beard. His soft wrinkles and the dark circles under his eyes did not match the character that Mikuta had in mind. She thought of their savior to be more… young.Bookmark here

Standing up, he shuffled his way around the infirmary, careful not to let his cloak drag on the floor. He then got a cup from the cupboard and started pouring warm, hot coffee.Bookmark here

“I know you’re not exactly a fan of this type of drink, Adrianne, but I need you to stay awake for what I’m going to ask and tell you.”Bookmark here

He came back to a puzzled Mikuta. She did not know or was too confused to stay cautious, about the words about to be uttered from her mouth without hesitation.Bookmark here

“I think you got the wrong person, pops. My name’s Mikuta, not Adrianne.”Bookmark here

She took the cup out of the tray and indulged herself with the drink. Bookmark here

Aaah. That hits the spot. Bookmark here

The cold weather hasn’t been treating her stomach too well, as well as her worries on the whereabouts of the place they were in. She hoped that everyone back in the city was ok, but was soon reminded of the meteors, which only chilled her even more.Bookmark here

“A-adrianne?”Bookmark here

The king knelt down, grabbing her face. He thoroughly inspected her eyes before Mikuta could react, and hugged her. Tightly. In an embrace that’d make you think of a father to their child. He whispered to himself, glancing downward. Then, he looked back up with somber eyes, a silent plea within. A smile formed on his face, one borne out of cope. Bookmark here

“You’ll be alright, my daughter.” He kissed the top of her head.Bookmark here

Huh… So that just happened. Bookmark here

A random stranger proclaiming to be her father had saved her and Miyori from a city bombarded with meteors. And now in a place far from where they were, he treated them and was even serving them drinks. Bookmark here

Still, despite the circumstances, she felt as if she could truly be at peace with this person who called themselves her father. She sighed, giving in to the embrace as she snuggled her head further into his chest. Her eyes were now slits, tired from everything that had happened. From the dull days she spent at the academy to the fresh sight of corpses at the flick of a switch. She let out a soft whimper. Bookmark here

At this sight, he hugged her even more.Bookmark here

She let out a sharp gasp of pain. The old man, in a flash, removed himself from the spot and into the back, out of breath.Bookmark here

“S-sorry about that.” He paused, his head dropping. “I guess I should’ve been the one to be careful.”Bookmark here

His sorry appearance quickly dissipated the pain as Mikuta laughed out loud.Bookmark here

“It’s all good.” But, she had one thing she wanted to ask him. It was something that her body cannot confirm or deny for itself unless she was the one to ask him. Looking at him solemnly in the eyes, she stood up. “Who am I?”Bookmark here

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He let out a quick guffaw before shutting up, realizing the seriousness of her question. He returned the same sincerity in tone, his voice turning deeper.Bookmark here

“You are Adrianne Alwyn Carey, also known as my daughter.” He stared right at her without doubting her and her question any longer. “And I-” he points to himself proudly -” am your father, the-”Bookmark here

He was interrupted by the slamming of the doors, hordes of important-looking people with well-embellished outfits raiding the small place.Bookmark here

One of them, a sleek individual with an oily black tunic, kneeled down. His long blonde hair bobbled for the while he was standing up. That was how fast he knelt in the presence of the old man.Bookmark here

Peering through one eye, he looked at Mikuta, scaring her a little. His dark, inquisitive eyes seemed to see through her. He gave a small smile when Mikuta met his gaze with scorn.Bookmark here

“I see that Lady Adrianne has returned.” He stood back up at the wave of the old man’s hand. “Then all is good, I presume?”Bookmark here

“Not quite. You see, the traitor who failed to understand my demands has yet to be punished. Though, he seemed to have met his end at the hands of a demi-human.” He relaxed his stance, looking back at Mikuta. “And she seems to have some sort of amnesia ever since my retrieval of her. Though, that also might’ve been the fault of my meteors.” Bookmark here

He chuckled, but Mikuta stared at him in disbelief. He opened his mouth, bits of saliva flying out as he boasted. “I think I razed the kingdom a bit too much. Survivors, there are slim to none at this point.” Bookmark here

Against her better judgment, the will of her body, and homely instincts, her apprehension and fear drew into her fist. Suddenly, she thrust her tightly-clenched fist towards his chin.Bookmark here

In a split second, five swords were pointed at her throat. One hand held her wrist, shaking from the unusual amount of strength put into that punch. She growled once she caught the sight of this king’s true nature: decay. Bookmark here

Disgusting, abhorrent, and putrid. He was the embodiment of that definition. In contrast to his armor, in contrast to what her body felt, Mikuta knew that she couldn’t trust her. The king glared at her solemnly, his gaunt face returning a sickly rictus.Bookmark here

“You aren’t my Adrianne, are you?”Bookmark here

Mikuta swallowed the lump of nervousness, closing her eyes and preparing for the worst. Nothing happened for a few moments until the king spoke again.Bookmark here

“Put down your weapons. I won’t let anyone hurt my daughter.”Bookmark here

What?Bookmark here

Looking through one eye, the king was ushering everyone out. With much grumbling, they quickly left just as they had come until it was just the two of them once more. Mikuta, this time, stood her ground and faced him. The wicked grin stayed on his face, though it felt a bit superficial at a second glance.Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

His smile quickly turned into a frown.Bookmark here

“Why? It’s because you’re my daughter through and through. No matter what happens, you are still Adrianne. Though,” he quickly added, “If you would like to be called Mikuta, then that’s fine by me.”Bookmark here

“That wasn’t my question.” Mikuta’s hands trembled with rage. She barely had the willpower to hold herself back. Perhaps it was the former owner's body that had most to contribute to this situation. “Why did you kill?”Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s an easy one to answer.” He sat down at the end of a cot. “It was to get back at your mother, quite simply.”Bookmark here

“My mother?”Bookmark here

“Your mother.”Bookmark here

“OH just spit it out!” Mikuta was close to bursting out in irredeemable rage but remained stable. The veins on her forehead were pulsing angrily, however.Bookmark here

“The sun queen of Pidrophillie. Also, your mother, might I add.” He paused, looking at her quizzically. “How did she not know you were there the entire time?”Bookmark here

Distraught, he got up and began pacing around the room. He lowered his voice, muttering to himself. “Was this all just a mistake? No, no no-no. It can’t be.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

He grabbed his helmet and donned it, heading out to the door. Mikuta was fed up with being left out of the loop and so she held onto his arm.Bookmark here

“You still haven’t answered my question.”Bookmark here

A burning sensation flooded her arm. She gasped, her arm getting covered in a slick sheet of ice. It let off a sheen before breaking off, her hand not on his person anymore. She was alright, but was more afraid than anything to oppose the king of this place if he was going so far as to use magic on her, even if he wasn’t going to hurt her. Bookmark here

His blue eyes looked deep into her eyes before slowly enunciating his words, one by one.Bookmark here

“I am the lich king of the isle. No one, not even my own heir, can dare disobey meBookmark here

With each word, it sent a chill colder than the last down her spine.Bookmark here

A few beds over, even Miyori was shivering despite the lack of consciousness. It was as if the very room was sapped of any heat there may have been. Family or not, the man certainly didn’t handle things with partisanship. Bookmark here

The door finally slammed shut, closing off the cold air. In a few minutes, the temperature rose a bit more than it was before. Only then, was there peace and silence.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.