Chapter 11 - The Ritual

Chapter 11 - The Ritual

A Chapter by Annie Doru
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Gabrielle wakes up at Elega again to do the ritual, what will it entail? Find out now!

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When she woke back at Elega, Gabrielle groaned - the weird position she was sleeping in pained her, there was a crick in her back from it. As she raised her head and placed a hand on her side, Skyler’s hand slid out from under her. She turned her head forward and felt a jolt of pain in her neck and she yiped, her hand reflexively shooting up to cover the aching spot. Her rear end was numb from sleeping on the chair so long, phantom pins and needles shot across her legs as she moved them around.


While she was massaging her sore spots, Skyler slowly pulled his elbows up and hoisted himself to a sitting position. His head wobbled, and he brought a hand to his face.


She let out another groan. “Are you alright?”


He mumbled unintelligibly, “...ne. Fine.”


“Fine what?” she asked as she stretched her right arm, her hand grabbing the left side of her neck.


“Me, I’m… Fine,” he muttered, slurring his words.


“You don’t sound fine,” she said, worried by his sudden change in speech.


“Painkillers,” he groggily boomed, sliding his feet off the bed.


“Don’t, you shouldn’t get, ah!” she yelped as she tried to get up, sharp jabbing sensations ran like a wave down both her legs. She desperately tried to stand so she could walk around the bed and stop him from trying to stand himself, she was afraid he’d fall flat on his face.


He raised himself up and stood, went still for a few seconds, and turned around, his hands outstretched. “See? Fine,” he said with a smile, then wobbled and almost fell over, but he stepped in the opposite direction, keeping himself from falling.


“No way I’m letting you walk by yourself like that. Wait for my legs to wake up first, you can use my shoulder again,” she said demandingly, she couldn’t see him making it that far without falling and hurting himself. Even if she was sore from sleeping on the chair, she refused to let him go without her, her and nobody else.


She impatiently stomped her feet, trying to get her legs to awaken, it wasn’t as bad as before, but there was still numbness under the multiple sharp poking sensations. She waited in trepidation, luckily Skyler had his hands on the bed and was holding himself up that way, his head was lowered as it was slowly drifting from one side to the next. Relief washed over her as the sleepiness in her legs faded, and as soon as the numbness was gone, she bolted towards him.


She grabbed his arm, pulling him towards her. He stumbled, and their heads collided. She shouted in pain, but put her other hand out and on his side to straighten him upright.


“S-sorry, I didn’t mean to do that,” she said with an awkward and wobbly voice.


“Fine… I’m fine… I swear…” He said groggily, as if in a trance.


She turned to look at his face, and found his eyes were mostly closed.


“You must be half asleep, poor thing,” She said with a frown, and grabbed his arm. She strung it across the back of her neck and let his hand rest on her shoulder. She carefully pulled him closer, and his arm draped over her chest. His head found it’s way onto her shoulder, and their heads met ear to ear. His weight beared down on her, though it wasn’t a problem.


“I see he has prepared himself sufficiently for what is to come,” Cara’s voice came from behind her.


“He can’t even stand by himself, whatever it is it must be pretty cruel,” she said with venom in her voice as she turned both herself and him around.


“You say that to me like I am the one who invented it. I assure you I am not, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t treat me like I did,” Cara said defiantly.


“I don’t see why you couldn’t do anything about all the hate he’s getting just for being what he is,” she said, she resented her because there could have been something she could have done to change the people’s minds.


“Even if I declared that Darklings were no longer our enemies, that would not change the hearts of the people. I don’t appreciate you blaming me for all of this at all, in fact, take that back. Right now,” Cara said, then started to open her eyes. As soon as she raised her eyelids, a bright light shot out from underneath them and bathed the infirmary in light.


Gabrielle held a hand in front of her face and squinted her eyes. “What the- What are you doing?”


“You need to understand that this world won’t bend to you every whim, child. I too, tried to change the world, as did others, just because you have power doesn’t mean that it has the impact to change the feelings of such a large group of people.” Cara’s eyes were completely open by this point, making everything a blinding white.


Everything around Gabrielle seemed to disappear except Skyler and herself, and even her hand couldn’t keep the light from blinding her. Squeezing her eyes shut, she put her hand over her face in a futile attempt to keep the light out. Even with her eyes shut, the yellow color that she saw when her eyes were closed made it seem like it was the middle of a bright summer day.


“Cara what are you doing? Close your eyes, you are scaring her,” Shai’s voice was a far away shout.


Everything then went black, Gabrielle stood there for a few seconds, still on guard.


“You can open your eyes now. Goodness Cara, what has gotten into you?” Shai’s voice was closer now, the sound of footsteps bounced off of the walls of the silent hallway.


She opened her eyes and slowly took her hand off her face, Cara was standing there with a scowl like she had just eaten ten lemons and smelled something extremely bad all at the same time, contorting her fair countenance.


Shai was next to Cara with her hand on her shoulder.


“What happened Cara? You usually do not act this way,” Shai said worriedly, rubbing Cara’s shoulder.


“Take it back…” Cara said, her scowl softening as her upper lip wobbled and tears pooled under her eyes.


“What do you mean? What did she say to you?” Shai asked, leaning in closer.


“I did everything I could, everything. I even tried to find the book,” Cara said as tears slowly rolled down her cheeks. “Don’t you think I feel responsible for what happens all my children and grandchildren? Don’t you think I agonize over the fact that I was the only one who was saved? That I had wished countless times that my daughters or grandsons were saved instead?” she clasped her hands together and lowered her head and sniffled.


“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry, I take back what I said,” Gabrielle said as she gripped Skyler’s shoulder.


“We don’t have time for this Cara, the ritual is about to start,” Shai said and shook Cara lightly.


“I know, I just… I couldn’t help it,” she said and wiped her tears, letting out another long sniffle. “I’ll be fine, just give me a second.”


“Pull yourself together, we can’t be late,” Shai said and pulled her hand away.


Cara’s head shoots up and then she spun around. “I’m ready, let’s go.”


Someone tugged at Skyler, and Gabrielle’s head snapped to the right just as an armed guard gave another tug on his arm. Her grip slipped and Skyler tumbled into the guard, who grabbed him and started to pull him away.


“What are you doing?!” Gabrielle shouted, and turned to run, she bolted towards the two and managed to grab the collar of Skyler’s trench coat. She yanked at it with all her strength to try and loosen the guard’s grip on him.


“It’s ok, I called him here, he needs to be prepared for the ritual separately,” Shai said, and walked up to Gabrielle and tried and separate her from Skyler.


“No, let him go!” Gabrielle cried while yanking Skyler’s collar again, her upper lip wobbled and tears pooled under her eyes. She wasn’t about to give up without a fight. She thought about the ritual again, and hated the idea. If she had to be separated from him, there was no telling what they would do to him while she wasn’t looking. She saw the looks the guards gave him when she first brought him to the enclave, there was no trusting the same people who had such disdain for him.


“Gabrielle please, they aren’t going to do anything to him, just let them do their job,” Shai said as she grabbed her shoulder and pulled her backwards.


“I don’t think this is right, I won’t let any guards take him. Bring someone else, I refuse to let a guard take him,” She said, trying to loosen the guard’s grip by pulling at the collar again.


Shai sighed. “Alright, fine, I’ll call someone else. Guard, let him be,” she said as she let go of her shoulder and stepped away.


The guard let Skyler go, and Gabrielle caught him before he fell. “Thank you,” she whispered as she stood Skyler up and lent her shoulder to him again.


Someone else stepped out from behind the door next to them as the guard walked out. He was wearing a hooded cloak, and had the same features as the one who was sleeping next to her when Gabrielle woke up at Elega.


“You… I remember you,” Gabrielle said as the man walked up to her.


“You summoned me, my lady?” The man looked to Shai as he grabbed Skyler’s arm.


“Yes, this man’s future guardian does not like guards it seems, she was very rowdy. Please take him to the stadium for us,” Shai said and pointed to the door.


“Stadium? Don’t tell me you’re selling tickets for people to watch him get hurt!” Gabrielle snapped at Shai, she thought the ritual would take place in a quiet room with very little people. The thought of people cheering Skyler’s pain and jeering at him was sickening.


“No tickets, and only those from Parliament and the Veil of Light are allowed to attend,” Shai said and stepped further back.


“And that’s supposed to make things better?” Gabrielle said through her clenched teeth.


The man in the hooded cloak pulled at Skyler, but Gabrielle had a hard grip on him this time.


“Ma'am, please, the same thing was done for the last one who did the ritual,” he said and increased the strength of his pull.


Gabrielle paused for a moment, a look of deep thought on her face. If the same thing was done before, then she shouldn’t have to worry. But if it was done so long ago, how is she to know that the people watching won’t act like jerks? Although, they are powerful people, and officials of the government, so if they acted in a rude way, they probably would be dealt with. She eventually loosened her grip enough for the hooded man to pull Skyler to him.


“Thank you, I swear to take care of him,” he said as he slid his arms under Skyler’s arms and started to drag him away.


“If you even hurt a single hair on him, I swear you’ll pay for it,” Gabrielle said, balling her hands into fists.


“We will be taking another route to the stadium, follow us,” Shai said as she motioned for Gabrielle to follow her.


She followed them down the hallway, through some paths and to the stadium. There were a large number of people in white robes, who stood on the cobblestone steps of the stadium and were facing the inwards. In the middle, Skyler was in the center, chained to a pole by his wrists and ankles.


“What?! What is this?! What have you done to him?!” Gabrielle shouted, running down the steps and down to the ground floor where Skyler was. He was slumped over in an uncomfortable position, his head hung low, and his arms stretched backwards.


“He’s a Darkling, what did you expect them to do? It’s for everyone else’s protection,” Shai said, then turned around and jumped up and onto the top wall of the stadium. She ran around until she reached the other side, then jumped down next to a man with long white hair in a ponytail, who was the only one who didn’t have a robe on.


Cara held a frown that was small but deep, like she was trying to hide her disgust. She walked down a short ways down the steps and took the only free spot there was.


Gabrielle got onto her knees and caressed Skyler’s cheek. His eyes were closed and his breathing was shallow. “He must be asleep.” She turned to the shackles that were holding him, then grabbed them and gave them a tug, but they wouldn’t budge.


“He will be released once the ritual is over, Light Maiden,” A man who stood near Shai said. He had short white hair that was spiked upwards and a widow’s peak.


“He’s not going to hurt anyone! Why restrain him like this?” Gabrielle cried, giving another strong tug Skyler’s shackles.


“He’s a Darkling, that’s why,” The man with the long white hair said.


“Shiro, I know you don’t like Darklings, but please give this one the benefit of the doubt, as he could be useful to us,” Shai said as she nudged Shiro.


“Light Maiden, stand, so that the ritual may be performed,” The man with short white hair said.


“...ie… That’s a lie,” Skyler mumbled, his head raising slightly. “Shiro, you… You met me at least three times before, you… Didn’t look at me like… Like that,” he slurred, then groaned, and leaned back so his arms didn’t stretch in such an odd way.


“Don’t,” Gabrielle said as she put her hand under his chin to support his head. “You need to rest, here.” She puts a hand on his chest and lightly pushes him back until his back touched the pole.


He lowered his head back down and let his arms fall onto his back. “Thank… You,” he said groggily, his eyes closed and he let out a sigh.


“Again, please stand so that the ritual may be performed,” The same man with short white hair said.

“My king, please, they are very close, as you can see by the mark on her finger,” Shiro said, not needing to put on airs anymore.


The king frowned, and fixed his small round glasses. “I understand, but I can’t wait for much longer. You brought the person who is to teach her how to do it, yes?” He said impatiently.


“Yes. Guards, open the gate.” Shiro said and motioned for the guards next to the door to the right of where Skyler was to do what he commanded of them.


The guards nodded and opened the door. Dr. Gage walked out and up to the two of them.


“Dr. Gage? What are you doing here?” Gabrielle said, her eyes wide with surprise. Why was he here? She thought he was a simple doctor, but now he was here, in Elega, to teach her how to perform a ritual she didn’t even know the details of.


“I may be a simple doctor now, but back in the day I was a very powerful light magic user,” he said, and took a piece of paper out of his pocket.


“What am I supposed to do?” she said and stood up.


“Instead of teaching you how to do the spell, which would take an extremely long time, I decided to put the spell onto a special paper. All you need to do is get the chain and place the paper on the last link in the chain, then just close your eyes and concentrate as hard as you can.” He hands her the piece of paper.


“I don’t see any chain,” she said and took the paper, she looked back at him with worry etched into her brow.


“Each Darkling has a chain, it is in another plane that we usually can’t reach. You are marked by him though, and that mark gives you passage. Move him a little so you can fully see the back of his neck,” Dr. Gage said, gesturing towards Skyler.


“I don’t see what the back of his neck has anything to do with it but… Alright.” She lightly placed her hand on Skyler’s shoulder and moved him to the left, leaving the back of his neck exposed.


“Now, place your hand on the back of his neck, focus hard and push inwards,” Dr. Gage said, brushing his hair away from his face.


She looked at Skyler’s neck, and wondered why he told her to do such a thing. She relented and took her hand off his shoulder, placing it in the middle of the back of his neck. She closed her eyes, and focused on her hand. When she felt she had focused enough, she gently pushed her hand forward, and felt skin give way to open air that was colder than the air around her.


“That’s the ticket.” Dr. Gage said.


As she opened her eyes, she found that her hand was inside Skyler’s neck, all the way up to her wrist.


“What’s going on?” she said, her eyes wide with shock and fear.


“You’re on the right track, keep going in further until you feel something metal,” Dr. Gage said as he leaned over a little to take a closer look.


She couldn’t believe what was happening, and she was frozen in place due to being so afraid.


“It’s alright, you’re not hurting him by doing this. Now, try to find something metal, please. We are on borrowed time here.” Dr. Gage assured her. He stood up and placed a hand on her shoulder, then lightly shook her.


“A-Are you sure?” Gabrielle said, worried that if she put her hand in any further it would harm Skyler.


“I’m sure. Please, this needs to be done, for his safety. Skyler told me he had put that mark on your finger because he was trying to protect you. You are about to do the same to protect him.” Dr. Gage took his hand off of her shoulder and stepped back.


“Why would he tell you about that?” Gabrielle asked, she knew Skyler had been taking care of Elaine, but if he had only known Dr. Gage for a couple months, why would he tell him anything like that?


“Because my son is his half-brother. That makes him family, and we don’t really keep secrets from each other because of that,” Dr. Gage said, then folded his hands behind his back.


“Oh, I’m sorry, I-I never knew that,” she said, her cheeks becoming red as she lowered her head.


“It’s fine, you didn’t know beforehand. Now, please follow my instruction.” Dr. Gage gestured to Skyler again.


“Alright... I guess.” Gabrielle hesitated for a second, then pushed her hand further in. Once she was in up to her elbow, she lowered her hand and felt ground below. It was cold and had the texture of stone. As she felt around, her fingers started to numb due to the chill of the ground. She then moved her hand to the left, and felt a biting cold hit her fingertips, which made her reflexively jolt her hand back as she cringed.


She relaxed her face and lowered her hand back down and touched the cold object, it had a metal texture, she thought it might be the chain, so she traced the shape of the object. It made her fingers really cold but she could make out the shape of chains. She grabbed the last link and put two of her fingers through the hole of the last link, then pulled.


Skyler let out a noise of slight pain and surprise when she yanked the chain back. Her eyes went wide for a second, then her eyes relaxed and her expression turned to one of worry. As she stopped pulling the chain back, she looked at Dr. Gage, hoping to get a response. Dr. Gage just nodded at her. She looked back at Skyler, and closed her eyes. Then she started to pull the chain back slowly.


Once she felt warmer air on her entire hand, she opened her eyes. The black metal chain in her hand glistened in the midday light. She brought up the paper that was in her other hand, which had sigils etched onto it in silver ink, in a language she could not understand. She lowered it onto the chain coming out of Skyler’s neck and closed her eyes.


Once she did, she focused as hard as she could. The color under her eyelids brightened and her thumb and pointer fingers touched, the paper seemed to have disappeared from her hand. As she opened her eyes, a large warm metal padlock rested on her palm, it was around the last link in the chain, and was completely shut. The chain was tugged out of her hand from somewhere inside his neck, and it was quickly swallowed up and back inside wherever it was before.


Skyler let out a loud blood curdling scream and black blood started to bubble from where the chain was coming out, which was the center. Dr. Gage quickly pulled out a roll of gauze bandages from his pocket and rushed over to him. Gabrielle stepped around to get in front of Skyler, got onto her knees and tightly embraced him. He was still screaming and it was hurting her ears, but she did not loosen her embrace to cover them. Tears pooled from under her eyes and ran down her face as she squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” Gabrielle held him and apologized over and over again.


Dr. Gage put a hand to Skyler’s head and moved it away from the pole, then proceeded to cover his neck with bandages. Under Skyler’s screams the sound of hissing could be made out. The hissing got louder and Skyler was gasping for breath, and then he was barely able to let any sound out.


Gabrielle felt intense sadness because of how much pain Skyler was in, she didn’t believe him that it would be this bad until he had let out that first scream. The hissing then started to lessen, and he was able to let out loud cries of pain instead of screams. Warm drops of tears hit Gabrielle’s back and rolled down her dress slowly. She loosened her tight embrace of him by a bit and hid her face with his shoulder.


The hissing lessened even more and the cries of pain abruptly stopped. There was only gasps for air coming from him now. He rested his chin on her shoulder and let out guttural sounds every now and then as he tried to get enough air into his body to sustain him.


“It is done, release him,” The king said, motioning for the guards. They came up to Skyler and held their hands over the shackles, the shackles broke open and crumbled to dust. They then walked back to guard the exit door.


Gabrielle held onto him as his bindings were removed and he went forwards away from the pole. She looked up at Dr. Gage with her cheeks wet with tears. “How is this even ok to do? Why was there no other way?” she said as she looked at everyone who stood there and watched as the ritual was happening in dead silence.

“I understand. If it was able to be done differently, I would have already suggested it.” Dr. Gage said solemnly, and stepped closer.


“...Alright, I’m alright,” Skyler said, and grabbed Gabrielle’s arm.


“We need to get you back to the infirmary. Right now,” she said and pulled away, but still held onto him by his arms.


“I will show you the way, follow me,” Dr. Gage said, gesturing to the exit.


Gabrielle got Skyler onto his feet and put his arm past her neck and over her other shoulder. She then proceeded to carry him while following Dr. Gage. Eventually they got to the infirmary, and she carefully laid him onto a hospital bed.


She caressed Skyler’s cheek as he slept. As she sat down onto the chair next to the bed, Cara peeked in.


“Is he alright?” Cara asked as she wiped tears from her cheeks.


“I’ll make sure he is… Look, I’m sorry about earlier, I couldn’t control myself,” Gabrielle said as she lowered her head and continued to stroke Skyler’s cheek.


“It’s not about that, I… I cannot get his screams out of my head,” Cara said, her upper lip wobbling slightly.


“So it’s not just me, I hope it goes away soon for you too,” Gabrielle said as she raised her head back up to look at her.


“I hope so as well,” Cara said as she slowly turned away and walked out.


She pulled her hand back and crossed her arms in front of her, then laid her arms down onto the side of the bed, and placed her head onto her arms. She closed her eyes, and focused on her breathing. Eventually, the noise in her head faded, and her mind went blank as she fell into a deep sleep.





© 2017 Annie Doru



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Added on November 9, 2017
Last Updated on November 9, 2017
Tags: Light Maiden, Romance, Science-Fiction, Fantasy


Author

Annie Doru
Annie Doru

About
I'm a 27 year old woman who has a lot of stuff in her head. more..

Writing