The Emerald-Opal Heir 18

The Emerald-Opal Heir 18

A Chapter by A.L.

The Warrior


Rain smelled like Coral. Or maybe Coral smelled like the rain. 

So when it came time to take watches for the night, Forrest gladly volunteered to wait outside the makeshift shelters they’d created with a few prayers to Zachryona. 

He was soaked to the bone and freezing cold, but at this point he couldn’t care less. 

His mind was on the destination ahead - Nelith. He’d been there a few times before, once recently when he, Emmeline, Newt, Clara, Beckett, and even Coral had journeyed to the Beach of Lost. He’d found the vial with his voice in it and… 

Forrest shoved the thought away, forcing back the tears in his eyes. 

“I’m going for a walk,” he grumbled to Bethany, who leaned against a tree with her eyes half closed. “Scream if you need me.”

She didn’t respond, but her lips pressed into a tight line. 

Forrest ignored her. He needed time to himself - time to heal. It wasn’t fair that Coral was gone and it wasn’t fair that everyone else was already over her death. A few tears shed and then it was as though she had never even existed. 

He put his hands in his pockets, his sword still at his side, and strode off into the woods alone. It felt good to be alone again. 

He waited until he couldn’t see the lanterns from the camp anymore before finally slowing his pace. The shadows clung to his wet hair and clothes, dripping down his back with cold fingers. He didn’t care. 

Forrest dropped to his knees and dug into the earth with his fingers, letting it crumble at his touch. Goddesses, why was it so much easier to destroy? 

He unsheathed his sword and flung it to the ground. He kicked a tree. He broke off its branches and tossed them aside. It felt like he was back under the control of his Curse. It felt like the Beast had won. 

“My sister asked me to tell you kindly to not destroy her forest,” came a voice from behind him. He didn’t even bother turning around, didn’t bother giving her the satisfaction of his respect. Instead, he grabbed his sword with disgust and sheathed it, crossing his arms and plastering on an expression of disgust before giving the goddess his attention. 

She was exactly as he remembered her. She didn’t pick a single face - her attributes shifting every second as if to represent every family in all of the kingdoms. Her white robes were duller than normal, as was her skin. 

Forrest noted with satisfaction that her cheek still bore a scar from where he’d managed to injure her. 

Racke, goddess of families. Racke, Forrest’s patron goddess. Racke, Coral’s killer. 

If he had the ability to kill her, Forrest would’ve buried his sword so deeply inside her that her soul wouldn’t even have a chance to flee his wrath. 

“Is that a yes then?” she continued without sparing him a second glance. 

“Can she put a stop to the rain?” Forrest countered. He wished Coral were here. She always knew just what to say that would get on the goddess’s nerves. 

Racke raised an eyebrow that changed from blonde to black with the blink of an eye. “Can you let go of the things that plague you?” 

Oh how he wanted to wipe her smug grin off her face. 

“I thought you couldn’t appear outside your patron region,” he said, opting for a more peaceful approach. 

“Quiglin gave me permission this once,” Racke answered curtly. 

“And you used your once in a lifetime pass to visit me?” He couldn’t force the disbelievement out of his voice. Or the disgust. 

“Believe it or not, I care about you,” Racke stated plainly. 

Forrest scoffed. A goddess? Care about him? Especially this goddess - the one who’d thoroughly ruined his life. Who’d Cursed him and stolen Coral and… 

“Should I tell Quiglin to send her beasts to attack you, then?” Racke asked, her choice of words obvious. He grit his teeth but forced himself to remain quiet. Do not react. Do not react. Do not react. “I didn’t take this trip for you to ignore me, child.” 

Keep your mouth shut. 

“There are many far nicer places to vacation - Nelith, for example.” 

Pretend she’s not here. 

“I’ve heard that the people there are nice - both to talk to and to look at. Wouldn’t you agree-” 

He was going to slice her into pieces, but something else beat him to it. Or someone rather. The rain around him stopped abruptly like it had been frozen in place, the forest suddenly dead silent. 

It was quiet enough that he could hear the rain crystallizing into tiny fragments of ice. 

Bethany stood behind Racke, her palms pointed outwards at the rain and eyes darker than the night itself. The ice hovered in the air threateningly, angling itself towards Racke’s neck. Forrest could feel the hair on the back of his neck prickling. 

“I wasn’t aware that you replaced her so quickly-” 

Forrest moved to attack, but Bethany beat him to it, the rain darting forward at her command and shattering against Racke’s skin. 

A slight drizzle started as Bethany stumbled backwards, drained by the display. 

Racke paid her no mind, the goddess’s attention devoted entirely to Forrest. “I came to warn you, Forrest, that what lies ahead - it is going to destroy you. It’s going to destroy everything. You need to stop your friends while you can.” 

“And why should I believe you?” he managed, keeping his voice level. 

“Because I care for you.” 


“And if you truly want answers, I beg that you ask your Reader friend what she’s really planning. Becoming a goddess is great and all, but have you asked her what she plans to do with her life afterwards?” The goddess raised a knowing brow. “You can save the world in other ways, Forrest. Please, stop your journey and turn back.” 

“You don’t care for me,” Forrest growled. He saw Bethany moving out of the corner of his eye. “A goddess can’t feel, Racke. And you worried about our plan? That just means we’re on the right track.”

He gave a slight nod and the mist around Racke solidified into a sheet of ice at Bethany’s command. It was only meant to scare Racke, but apparently the goddess felt threatened. 

She burst from her cage like fire erupting from a single spark, sending sprays of ice everywhere. Forrest tumbled to the ground, nearly landing on his sword. His head slammed into the ground hard enough to make him see stars. Racke wheeled on Bethany, eyes blazing. 

Maybe Bethany fainted or maybe Racke did something to hurt her. Whatever the case, she hit the sodden earth harder than Forrest. 

He reached for Bethany, determined to protect her from Racke’s wrath. It was directed at him - Bethany shouldn’t have to suffer for his choices. But just as he stretched out his arm, Racke vanished in a burst of light and ice that turned Forrest’s world black. 

Forrest was sure that Morgan wouldn’t appreciate it if his sister was brought back unconscious by another dude. 

However, it seemed like an equally bad idea to leave her unattended in the woods. 

Forrest opted for the first option. He hoped Morgan knew that he wouldn’t hurt Bethany, and he was pretty sure that if explained what had happened with Racke, Morgan would understand. He hoped it was good enough, at least.

Bethany was still unconscious when Forrest first opened his eyes. Her bronze hair was strewn about her head like the rays of the sun. 

He grabbed his sword and tucked it away, turning back to Bethany. 

Even though he’d carried an unconscious Emmeline more times than he was willing to count, Bethany was a whole different story. Not only was she taller (although still shorter than Forrest), but she also was freezing cold to the touch. Maybe it was her Blessing. Maybe it was something Racke had done to her. 

Whatever the case, when Forrest scooped her up, it was incredibly uncomfortable. The dagger sheath at her side dug into his hip whenever he moved, but at least the walk was short. 

When he emerged into the clearing where their tents were, Calli was on guard by herself. Her eyes widened as she took in Bethany in Forrest’s arms and her mouth dropped open slightly. “I was going to make a remark as to what happened to you guys, but I don’t think now is a good time.”

“Can you help her?” Forrest asked, ignoring Calli’s jibe. 

Calli was on her feet a moment later, easing Bethany to the ground. She pressed her hand to the girl’s forehead, withdrawing it as though she’d been burned. 

“What happened?” 

“Racke,” Forrest growled. “I needed some … alone time. Racke confronted me in the woods - she said she wanted to warn me about Emmeline’s plan. Then she started talking about Coral and I may have nearly attacked her. And then Bethany came and she attacked Racke for me and we imprisoned her but she broke out and she did something to Bethany and-”

Calli cut him off with a wave of her hand. “Slow down and give me the details.” 

Forrest did, explaining in great depth his conversation with Racke and how Bethany had butted in. Calli listened closely, her eyes drifting between Forrest and Bethany. 

When he finally finished, Calli gave a heavy sigh and put her hands on her hips. 

Forrest’s stomach clenched with guilt. This was all his fault. If he hadn’t stormed away like some brooding boy, none of this would have happened. 

“Whatever it is, we’ll fix Bethany,” Calli assured him as if sensing his regret. “Don’t blame yourself.” 

Too late, Forrest thought. 

Calli continued checking on Bethany - taking her temperature, looking at her eyes and mouth. Forrest paced back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. If Bethany died, Morgan would literally kill him. Probably Margo too. He was already considering the best escape plan possible when Calli let out a small gasp. 

“What is it?” He was immediately at her side. 

“I know what’s wrong,” Calli breathed, grabbing Bethany’s wrist and turning it so the bottom faced upwards. A small, white line marred the skin. “It’s a Toll mark.” 

“A toll?” 

“You said Bethany froze the rain, right?” Forrest nodded and Calli laid Bethany’s arm back down. “That was way too much for her Blessing to handle, and so it borrowed power from Farosha so that Bethany wouldn’t die. Using the goddess’s power enacted a Toll. In other words, a person can’t use a goddess’s powers without becoming sick. Their power is designed to be lethal to humans so that we can’t take it and abuse it. Bethany is sleeping off that illness right now.”

“It’s lethal?” Forrest repeated, still caught up on the words. 

“Only in large amounts,” Calli explained. “For Bethany, she just needs a bit of medicine to help her sleep off the worst of it. She might be weak for a little while.” 

“And so what, Racke just let her go?” 

Calli shrugged. “I can’t pretend to understand what a goddess wants. It’s possible Racke knew the Toll would scare you, and that was her punishment. Or she’s waiting.” 

Because that wasn’t ominous at all. 

“And what are we going to tell Morgan and Margo?” 

You will tell them the truth,” Calli said. “They’re not going to kill you for Bethany’s mistake. Just like how Newt hasn’t murdered you over Emmeline yet.” 

“Don’t remind me,” Forrest groaned. “I’ve never seen a couple as clingy as they are.” 

Calli raised an eyebrow. “Clingy? I think it’s cute. They both have each other when the whole world is against them.” 

“I guess so,” Forrest said. 

“Are you jealous?” 

“What do you mean?” 

Calli didn’t blink. “Are you jealous that Emmeline and Newt get to be together when you and Coral can’t?”

Was she trying to rub salt in the wound? 

Forrest shrugged, trying to look indifferent. “I shouldn’t be. They’re destined to be together, and Coral and I weren’t. We can’t change that now. It would never have lasted.”

“Don’t say that!” 

“You’re the one who asked.”

“Forrest, the markings on your back don’t have to dictate who you are and what you do.”

“Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re meant for.”

Calli rolled her eyes. “It’s okay to be upset, Forrest. You don’t have to pretend to be strong for the rest of us - we understand who she was to you. And you don’t have to be afraid that you’ll lose us too.”

Forrest bit his lip. I’ve lost so much, he wanted to say. His father and his mother - maybe not to death but to Curses and goddesses and a torn apart family. He lost Coral. And somewhere through there, Forrest was sure he’d lost himself. 

A warm tear slid down his face. 

Calli’s expression broke into one of pity and Forrest wanted to hate her for it. Except he couldn’t. 

“It’s okay to cry, Forrest,” she whispered. “You’re among friends.” 

“No,” he mumbled. “It’s not okay.” 

He knew he was being childish, but he wiped his tears away and stood anyway. “I’m going to bed.” Thank the goddesses that his voice didn’t crack. “Goodnight, Calli.” 

“Goodnight, Forrest.” 

Her disappointment only made the ache in his heart worse. 

Forrest didn’t dream. It was the first time in what felt like forever that Baelle’s laugh or Racke’s ever-shifting face didn’t haunt his subconscious. 

Not that real life was much better. 

He woke to a piercing scream and immediately knew that Margo had discovered her sister’s condition. And he wasn’t surprised when arms shook him awake moments later. 

Sharp pain flared at his cheek as someone slapped him. “What did you do to my sister?!” Goddesses, he hadn’t expected this reaction. Forrest curled his arms around his head protectively as Margo began to kick him. Next time she begged for new shoes, she would not be allowed to buy sturdy boots. 

“Give him a moment to wake up.” 

Morgan’s voice was even worse - his almost bored sigh seemingly aggressive even though it really wasn’t. 

Margo stopped kicking him, but it was evident that she wasn’t happy about it. 

“What did you do to my sister?” she repeated, slightly calmer. Forrest peeked through his fingers, afraid to answer out of fear of another kick. His bruised ribs couldn’t handle much more. 

“It wasn’t me,” he managed, voice hoarse. He didn’t remember crying himself to sleep. “Bethany’s condition is her fault.” 

Which was apparently the wrong thing to say because Margo raised a boot. 

Calli grabbed Margo’s wrist and yanked her back, eyes holding a warning for Forrest to hurry up. 

He quickly got to his feet and explained to the best of his ability what had occurred the night before and what Calli had guessed about the Toll mark. Morgan’s shoulders drooped and Margo relaxed as Forrest finished with an apology. “I didn’t think that she would follow me into the woods.” 

“She’s your friend, Forrest,” Margo muttered. “We all are. We’re trying to keep you safe.” 

It sounded too eerily familiar to the conversation he’d had with Calli and Forrest decided to change the subject. “Anyway, Calli suggested buying some medicine to help Bethany recover faster. Does anyone know of any stores around here?” 

“I do,” called Rae from the doorway. 

Her blonde hair was a mess and her arms were crossed. “You all forget that I live around here and that I grew up in Quigon.” 

“So you know where a store is?” Margo asked excitedly. 

Rae shrugged nonchalantly, her eyes steely. “My parents live around here, actually. Their ranch is a few miles away, if I remember correctly. We have an apothecary on the side.” 

“And it’s only a few miles away?” Calli repeated. 

“Yeah,” Rae said. “I can take you there … for a price.” She raised an eyebrow and Forrest was reminded that even if she was the same age as Clara, she was only a few years younger than he was. 

“A price?” Margo sighed. “C’mon, Rae, we’re all friends here. We can pay your family.” 

Rae shook her head. “If you show my parents Bethany, they’ll treat her for free. But I want payment.” 

“Fair enough,” Morgan grumbled, cutting off Margo’s argument. 

“I want you all to stop treating me like a baby,” Rae stated, hands now on her hips. “Promise me you’ll let me be a part of conversations like this. I want to take long watches like all of you. I want to take risks and be allowed to make decisions. I want to help.” 

“Of course-” Calli began.

“And I don’t want you to just give me an empty promise,” Rae continued, cutting her off. “You all treat me like I’m too young but I have lost just as much as any of you. I have left my family for years and I have risked my life just as many times. Stop pretending I’m a child just because I’m younger. You don’t have to protect me anymore.” 

She glared at everyone, daring them to speak up. 

Forrest wasn’t completely sure what this was all about. Maybe it was her pent up rage from losing Brooke. He had to admit that he should’ve known it was coming for quite a while now. 

It was true they didn’t treat Brooke fairly. Forrest knew Clara and Beckett had once voiced similar complaints about feeling left out because of their younger age. But as much as Forrest knew they were right to feel hurt, he knew he would still try and protect them. It was his nature to defend those who needed it. 

He nodded along anyway as the others agreed to Brooke’s demand. The tone of their voices told him all he needed to know - that they were in agreement with him. 

Brooke’s eyes finally found his and Forrest lied straight to her face as he said, “I promise I won’t try to protect you.” 

The lie was bitter on his lips, like rotten honey. 

He just had to hope that Brooke wouldn’t end up like Coral.

© 2021 A.L.

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Added on October 18, 2021
Last Updated on October 18, 2021
Tags: adventure, cursed, blessed, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty



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