The Writer - Chapter 31

The Writer - Chapter 31

A Chapter by A.L.

The Silent


Forrest had never before realized how much he savored the silence and darkness of being alone. 

Sure, fighting with a team was easier than fighting by himself. And he still loved Coral - he didn’t want to leave her behind. But it was for her own good that he was wandering off into the night. 

Besides, Forrest thought grumpily. If Racke refuses, at least then no one will be there to witness it.  

He didn’t entirely know where he was going, but he knew that it was likely Racke would lead him there. Rackelofft was his home, whether he liked it or not. That had to mean something, didn’t it? 

Apparently not, because Forrest found no special sensation - the exception being the occasional shiver that rolled down his spine. 

The voice inside his head was oddly quiet, and Forrest wasn’t quite sure why. With its witty remarks absent, Forrest felt even more alone than before - and that was a good thing. He didn’t like the voice in his head, but he would fix that after he asked about his Curse. 

His to-do list never seemed to end. 

Neither did the feeling that someone was watching him. 

His entire life, Forrest had trained and trained and trained. He knew to look, to observe, and to listen. There was heavy breathing, barely detectable. He could hear it coming from behind him. 

Forrest grabbed his sword and spun around, pressing the blade against his follower’s neck. 

Of course it was Coral. 

Her blue eyes were wide and her lips parted in surprise. Forrest nearly dropped his sword, but he managed to keep his grip - if his hand wavered. 

“Forrest, it’s just me,” Coral whispered, pushing the sword away from her neck. 

He hung his head in shame, sheathing his sword. Coral put a hand on his shoulder, but Forrest shrugged it off. He turned to look at her, pointing back in the direction she’d come from. Go home, Coral. It’s not safe for you here. 

“I can’t believe you snuck off alone,” Coral scoffed, hands on her hips now. “We’re a team, Forrest. That means we don’t leave each other behind to go gallivanting in the middle of the night.” She gave him a stern look, and once again Forrest tried to warn her that it was dangerous. “Oh, please.” 

She pushed past him, the quiver on her back reminding Forrest that she wasn’t defenseless. The thought reassured him, though not a lot. 

“The only danger we’re in right now is of getting hopelessly lost,” she rambled, turning circles. “Did you have a plan at all?” 

Forrest gave a small shrug. He wanted to shout that he’d had a plan - one that she wasn’t involved in - but he decided not to tell her. She was already angry enough and Forrest didn’t want to make their situation worse. 

“Well,” Coral continued. “I was prepared and I snagged a map from the Rogues’ camp before it burnt.” She pulled out a roll of parchment and held it up to the lantern she was carrying to inspect it. “We make a right here,” she said, turning and beginning to walk. Forrest followed behind her, trying to find a way to steal the map and run off. 

“So, why didn’t you want me to come?” she asked as they walked. 

Forrest gave a shrug, but Coral didn’t seem to be convinced. He gestured that she was in danger, but that only merited a laugh. 

“I can protect myself, y’know,” she mumbled. 

Forrest nodded. I know. Finally, he tried a different tactic. I’m scared. 

Maybe it was a lie, maybe it was the truth. Forrest wasn’t sure. He wasn’t scared of Racke saying no. He knew it was likely. He was scared of what Coral would think of him if they failed. Would she realize how much of a lost cause he was? Find someone else to marry? 

The thought sparked anger inside his chest, but Forrest pictured her eyes and it subsided. 

“Scared?” Coral asked, her voice surprisingly tender. “I’m right here, you don’t have to be scared.” 

Yes, but for how long, Forrest wanted to say. What will you think when Racke refuses?  

“Racke will see reason,” Coral argued, though she could hear his internal debates. “We’ll show her that you never deserved her Curse and that if you take it away, she’s more likely to survive.” 

Although Coral’s reasoning sounded solid, Forrest doubted Racke would care. She was a goddess, and he was a lowly warrior boy who’d grown up with her Curse. 

The goddesses never cared. 

“Forrest, do you trust me?” Coral stopped abruptly and Forrest bumped into her. The lantern was in his face, illuminating Coral’s face and her gorgeous blue eyes. 

He nodded. I trust you completely. 

“Then you understand that I don’t need your protection. And you understand that no matter what, I will always love you, okay? Even if Racke is a, “ Coral said a word that Forrest thought he’d never hear come from her, “I’ll still love you.” 

Even with the Curse? He wished he could ask, but Coral seemed to sense the question. 

“Even with the Curse, I will always love you. The worst Curse of all would be to be separated from you.” 

And then they were kissing. Her lips on his, her skin smooth. Forrest could feel her body against his, the ocean of her soul slowly cooling the flames of rage that always burned inside of him. She was his, and he was hers. 

When Coral finally pulled away, her eyes met his. Forrest swore that her beautiful eyes could contain more soul, more water than the entire ocean himself. 

“You wanna know what I think?” Her voice was lower than a whisper. “When Baelle is gone, we should go.” He must have given her an odd look, because Coral giggled. “We should take one of my family’s boats, and we should set sail.” 

Like a pirate, he gestured. 

Coral laughed again. It was music to his ears. “No, silly. We’ll sail across the ocean and we’ll find our own island where there are no kingdoms. We’ll make our own castle and we’ll be happy.” 

Happy, Forrest agreed. 

“But,” Coral continued, “we can’t do that until we get rid of your Curse - or at least try. Are you done pouting now?” 

He gave her a nervous smile, and Coral turned back to her map. 

Together, they made their way into the woods, weaving between trees. Maybe Forrest had been wrong. 

The adventure felt better when he wasn’t alone. 

“This is really unimpressive,” Coral remarked, staring boredly at the temple that was supposed to belong to Racke. One of the pillars was crumbling and ivy crept up the sides. What probably used to be marble was covered in a layer of grime and dirt. Outside, a stone fountain spewed muddy water from a broken pipe. A statue of what was probably supposed to be Racke was vandalized, the arms missing and crude words carved into her stone arms. 

Forrest agreed with Coral, but he didn’t want to show it. 

After all, the goddess of family and friendship wouldn’t take kindly to one of her own subjects laughing at her temple. 

Forrest started forwards, brushing aside some of the dead plants and vines that were draped across the entrance. Coral was behind him, her feet crunching loudly on the colorful leaves. 

Forrest was a bit freaked out by the haunted appearance, but he didn’t want to say anything to Coral about it. 

Besides, talking about it made it real in a way. 

Inside the temple wasn’t much better. Coral and Forrest made their way up crumbling steps and into the interior, which smelled of dust and dirt. Torches illuminated the room and chased the shadows away. 

“What was this temple even used for?” Coral asked, not bothering to keep the disgust from her voice. “Sacrifices?” 

“Sometimes, actually,” came another voice from the back of the temple. Racke’s words were slow as she spoke, carefully chosen. “This temple hasn’t been occupied for over a century, and that was at the time when the mortals sometimes believed in sacrifices.” 

Forrest felt a wave of disgust wash over him. 

Racke was perched on what looked like an altar in the very back of the temple. She was wearing her normal white robes, but her hood was pulled down to reveal a face that shifted from moment to moment. Sometimes she was beautiful, and then she was ugly. It was like she was trying to reflect on the various families from all over the kingdoms. It was almost impossible to look at her. 

“I’ve been waiting for you for a very long time, Forrest,” Racke continued. 

Forrest didn’t answer. He tried to avoid her gaze, and beside him, Coral grasped his hand and squeezed it. 

“Nice place to wait,” Coral commented wryly, ignoring the comment. “Didn’t you ever consider cleaning up at all? It might just be me - but when I want people to come and see me I generally don’t stay in places like this.” 

Racke shrugged. “Would you prefer the temple clean?” She flicked her fingers and immediately the walls were polished and the floor wove itself back together. The murals painted on the walls became several shades brighter and the altar disappeared, leaving a couch behind in its place. And then, again, “Forrest, I’ve been waiting for almost a decade.” 

He gave a shrug. If she really cared, she would’ve come and found me. 

“I don’t hate you, Forrest, and you know that. Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” her voice was soft, caring. Fake. 

He kept his gaze down and Coral squeezed his hand again. 

“Why didn’t you come find him?” Coral asked, as if sensing his thoughts and voicing them out loud. “You’re a goddess. Why did you even Curse him in the first place?” 

“I didn’t,” Racke pouted. “I tried to Curse his father, but that man was - and still is - a selfish, no good, son of a Rogue. He let his son take his Curse for him and then banned me from his home so I couldn’t undo it.” 

Coral seemed a bit surprised by this, but Forrest didn’t flinch. Eyes down. Racke’s not going to help, we need to go soon before she gets angry. 

Coral continued anyway. Forrest wanted her to stop advocating for this. Racke probably wanted him to do it himself. Coral droned on, “Racke, Forrest has been living with the Sprite Hunters for how many years now. You could have sought him out.” 

“My sister had strict rules for visiting her region,” Racke replied, rolling her eyes. “And his mother never brought him to me either.” 

Yet she took me to see a Reader, Forrest thought bitterly. It seemed that everyone in his life was bent on working against him. How many people had done the wrong thing that affected him instead of them

Anger surfaced in his chest, but with Coral’s hand in his, Forrest was able to force it down and away. 

Racke broke into a grin. “I see you’ve learned to control it.” 

“Control…” Coral stuttered before spinning to Forrest. “You can control your Curse?!” She looked a bit miffed, but also … excited? It was something new to Forrest. “Why didn’t you tell me?” 

He shook his head. 

Racke translated for him, or at least gave her own explanation. “Oh, no, he can’t control completely. But just now it almost overpowered him, but he was stronger and flipped the Curse so it didn’t affect him. How interesting.” 

Forrest felt the anger rising up in him again. Interesting? Like he was some kind of experiment. He forced himself to look into Coral’s eyes, blue like the ocean. The Curse died down. 

“Hmm,” Racke mumbled. 

“What is it now?” Coral humphed. 

“Well, my dear, it seems that he thinks of you to overpower his Curse.” Forrest hated how much she knew about him and his life. She hated that his life was in the hands of this goddess and her whims. 

Coral, on the other hand, looked like she was on the verge of tears. 

Something else was still bothering Forrest though. He had noticed it earlier during their conversation, but he hadn’t realized how weird it was until now. 

Racke, he thought, trying to broadcast his thoughts in her direction. What did you mean when you said that Brooks still is all those things you called him? 

She seemed to hear him because her mouth bent upwards in a small grin. 

“I see you did catch that after all. It’s something that’s been plaguing you more recently - especially with all those flashbacks.” Racke pretended to be interested in her nails, as if the information she was revealing meant nothing. 

But to Forrest it meant everything. 

The thing that had been plaguing him recently… Did she mean the voice? Or was she talking about the flashbacks themselves? Maybe she was even talking about something else entirely. 

“Look, it doesn’t matter,” Coral continued - even if Forrest disagreed completely. “We’re not here to talk about Forrest’s weird habits.” 

“Do tell,” Racke prodded. Forrest bit his lip, debating if he should Coral to stop. He wanted to know what Racke wanted to say. What if it helped him get rid of the voice or the flashbacks?

Coral took a breath and spoke with more confidence than Forrest could ever muster. “We want to get his Curse taken away.” 

“You came because you want to remove Forrest’s Curse,” Racke clarified. 

Coral nodded, her grip on Forrest’s hand tightening. “You already acknowledged that it’s unfair - and now we’ve come to you. So remove it. Please.” 

Forrest’s fingers trembled. This might’ve been the most terrifying time of his life - and he wasn’t even in battle. He was just standing before the goddess that controlled his fate and trying not to anger her. 

“Yes, but does he have a reason to have his Curse taken?” Racke asked.

His blood was boiling now. How could she say one minute that she regretted Cursing him and the next minute say he needed proof that he should be freed? 

Coral was obviously thinking the same thing because her voice was fierce when she spoke. “Are you kidding me right now? We travelled across the kingdoms. Forrest has been tortured in opposition to the goddesses. We killed a bunch of Rogues. And you ask if he’s worthy to have his Curse removed?” 

Forrest flinched, and he tugged gently on Coral’s hand. 

This was a terrible idea, he wanted to say. We should never have come here - we’re just going to end up disappointed. 

But Coral stayed rooted in her spot. 

Racke gave another shrug. “Family isn’t fighting for what you believe in. Family is togetherness - a willingness to overcome challenges to protect those you love.” 

“He’s done that too,” Coral protested. “He’s protected me and all of our friends back in Dinrali, as well as Emmeline and the rest of them as well.” 

Racke nodded. “Yes, but that didn’t take much bravery, did it? I mean, I’m not saying that nothing you did was impressive. But we have to be realistic here. A Curse is a huge part of who a person is. Removing one is no small feat.” 

“So what?” Coral asked, voice sharp as a knife. “You won’t do it?” 

“Oh, no,” Racke sighed, shaking her head. “I’ll certainly remove his Curse - if he can prove that he deserves it.” She turned to Forrest. “You must overcome your biggest fear. Simple, really.” 

Overcome my biggest fear? Forrest wondered. Was she talking about regaining his voice or something much deeper? The fear that he’d carried with him ever since he’d recieved his Curse. 

“That’s unfair,” Coral argued. “He doesn’t even know what that is. Pick something else.” 

Forrest was sure that Racke would zap Coral into a toad, but surprisingly, the goddess seemed agreeable. 

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll throw in something else.” She turned back to Forrest. “Overcome your Curse at its strongest and I’ll remove it for good. But just remember what I said about fear and family.” 

Forrest nodded, steeling himself. 

Surely he could beat his Curse if Coral was beside him. He inhaled once, exhaled again, preparing himself for the rage to flow through him. 

He was expecting the river that normally consumed him. 

Instead, the whole world seemed like a swirling whirlpool of fire, pulling him closer and closer. Fire roared in his veins and Forrest dropped to one knee. 

Coral’s worried voice was distant as if she was across the kingdoms. 

He tried to picture her beautiful eyes, so icy and cool. They surfaced in his imagination for a second before the fire pulled them under too. 

Fight back, the voice in his head hissed. 

Forrest wanted to give a witty comeback, but it was like his world was only fire. The smoke was suffocating him, pulling him down and holding him back. 

Weak, the voice in his head remarked. 

Anger sparked further in Forrest. He wanted to fight back against the flames, to at least hide from them. 

But the only thing that existed was pain and anger. 

With a final surge of energy, Forrest attempted to overcome his Curse. 

He pictured Coral and Emmeline and Newt and Clara and even Beckett. He thought of his mother and how much she’d done to protect him. He saw Gwen taking him in when no one else would. Emmeline telling him how brave he was. His friends complimenting him. Morgan and Bethany promising that they were his friends. 

The memories picked up speed. Forrest gathered all the strength he could muster and threw every happy thing that had ever happened to him at the flames.

They loosened their hold the tiniest bit and Forrest ran to slip through the gap in the flames. So close. All he had to do now was escape the flames and then his Curse - then he would never have to suffer from it ever again. 

But right as he drew closer to the gap, the flames igniting even stronger than ever. Fire roared in his veins and Forrest writhed in pain.

The Curse was too powerful. He was too weak. 

He had to give in. And with that, Forrest’s Curse overtook him for a final time and he lost control.

© 2021 A.L.

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Added on January 17, 2021
Last Updated on January 17, 2021
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



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