The Emerald-Opal Heir - 19

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 19

A Chapter by A.L.
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The Healer

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If Clara had to choose one word to describe travelling with a bunch of demigoddesses, it would be awkward. 

“When do you need to eat next?”
“If you’re too tired to keep going, we can take turns carrying you.” 

“Is that your real appearance? Really? What would you change it to if you could? Not saying you don’t like nice now, but…” 

Clara tried to shut them out, but at the rate she was travelling, Clara wondered if she’d ever get peace again. 

Kalaia - demigoddess of unity - tried her best to be amicable and include Clara in conversations. Her tiny build made her look like a child just with silvery hair and eyes, but the way she spoke made Clara feel stupid, like she was being talked downt too. 

Lou - demigoddess of storms - looked slightly older with curls so black they were almost blue. She was the quietest of the bunch for the most part. Except for when she was interrogating Clara about the life of a human. 

Cinnamon - demigoddess of speed - was quite possibly the worst of the three. When Clara had met her before, she’d been shy and quiet. Now she was obviously more comfortable and willing to talk. About everything. When she wasn’t pestering Clara about how she was feeling, Cinnamon was going on and on with stories that had no point and no entertaining value whatsoever. 

Clara missed the army, and that was saying something. 

With the pace set by Cinnamon, the group could travel extraordinarily far every day. Every step Clara took had her bouncing ten feet ahead so they could cover a lot more distance than previously expected. 

However, whatever odd magic Cinnamon was using left Clara exhausted. 

The demigoddesses didn’t need to eat or drink or rest at all, so Clara felt embarrassed when she had to ask for a brief stop. Her stomach was constantly growling at her to eat and her legs burned with the walk. 

It didn’t help that they were going to Waelia, of all places. 

The locket on Clara’s neck seemed to get heavier every minute, as if sensing that it was returning home. 

Kalaia finally agreed to stop and rest for a night on the second day of travelling. 

Despite the danger of towns filled with people, Clara convinced the goddesses to stop by a local hotel. She knew the owners from her time with the Sprite Hunters well enough to know they weren’t likely to turn her in. 

Plus, Clara was waiting until the day she would see Beckett again. 

Kalaia, Lou, and Cinnamon pulled their hoods over their heads as they approached the town. They were shorter than the average merchants, but Clara hoped that the cloaks would at least erase some suspicion. 

If worse came to worst, they were armed and prepared to fend off attacks. 

“I’ll do the talking,” Clara insisted as they approached. The streets were empty by now, the lanterns lining the streets creating flickering shadows. In the wind, a wooden sign for the hotel creaked loudly. She pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders as she pushed open the door. 

A tiny bell chimed at her entrance. It seemed underwhelming because this was the first time she visited while not being chased by someone or something. 

“Connor, go help the customers!” 

Mrs. Brewer still sounded the same - exhausted and yet joyful. It was a tone Clara didn’t realize how much she missed.

“Just a minute!” a young man’s voice called back, more frustrated.

Clara beckoned for Kalaia, Lou, and Cinnamon to follow her into the sitting room to the right of the doorway. The front entrance branched off into three different sections: a hallway with rooms to stay in, the front desk and living quarters, and the sitting room. Clara had been in all three, and she preferred the sitting room the best. Or at least she had. 

The Brewers were clearly running on rough times. Someone had boarded up the fireplace that once lit the room cheerfully. There were several couches missing and the coffee table was cracked down the middle. 

Even the smell of fresh pie and parchment paper was gone, replaced by a strong, flowery perfume. 

“Clara?” 

The voice came from the front desk and the demigoddesses immediately tensed. Clara held out a hand to calm them. 

“Conner?” 

The young man appeared in the doorway of the sitting room, his eyes wide with shock. The lanterns dangling from the roof did little for his pale complexion and dark, blood red hair. 

“You’re alive! Gwen told us that you’d disappeared and she assumed the worst.” He didn’t move like he was afraid she was little more than a ghost. Then his eyes drifted to the hooded figures at her sides and his expression darkened. “If you’re in deep trouble-” 

“Is Karli here?” she interrupted, tapping her fingers on her leg restlessly. 

As much as she’d missed Conner, it wasn’t him she needed to speak to. Karli would understand her predicament and help her.

“I’ll do you one better,” Conner said, speaking in his typical fast manner so that the words pretty much fell from his mouth. He didn’t break eye contact as he shouted, “Karli! You and your guest have a visitor!” 

Footsteps pounded from the back room and two girls stepped into the dim light of the sitting room. 

One had the same dark red hair as her brother, although her complexion was more of an olive. She was petite enough that she could’ve been anywhere from Clara’s age to in her thirties. And at her side … 

At her side was another woman who was probably almost thirty, with dark skin and hair and eyes that were so familiar that Clara wanted to cry. Her heart wrenched in her chest and she rushed forward, wrapping Gwen in a tight hug. 

Gwen was alive. She wasn’t dead like Johnny. She was alive and she was here. 

“Clara,” Gwen whispered, stroking her hair. Clara could hear Gwen’s heartbeat jumping too and she knew that the older woman was just as surprised as she was. 

The Rogues. Clara pulled away gently, taking a few steps back to calm herself. She wiped futilely at her eyes. “I didn’t think you were going to be here, but I was going to ask Karli to send a letter for you.” 

Gwen sniffed. “I’ve been waiting here since you first left, Clara. I knew that you would end up here again.” 

Karli elbowed her in the side and Gwen giggled a bit. “That and I wanted to spend some time with my wife.” 

Clara’s eyes snapped to Karli. 

Karli and the silver wedding band on her finger. 

Her gaze shifted back to Gwen, who had an identical ring. Clara could’ve squealed with delight. “You finally got married?!”

Gwen nodded, letting Karli lean into her side. “We’ve been seeing a lot of each other lately, so I figured I’d make it official. And, as you can see, apparently I have a type.” She laughed loudly and Clara felt her chest warming. 

Ever since they’d first stayed at the hotel, Gwen had joked about liking red-headed people. She claimed it was why she’d taken Clara in. 

And now she was married? It was proof that happiness did exist in this world, despite the goddesses and Baelle and all the other things that kept Clara awake at night.

Gwen cheerfully explained the engagement and the wedding ceremony. “I wish you could’ve been there,” she added, wiping at her eyes. “You and Johnny both.” The name brought the conversation to a screeching halt. 

Clara dropped her eyes. It’d been almost a year now and yet it felt so much longer. 

“And who are these other people?” Connor interrupted, gesturing towards the Rogues in all their hooded glory. 

Kalaia threw down her hood, and Clara could’ve sworn she was glittering or something because her skin was practically glowing. Was she showing off? Clara wasn’t sure why Kalaia would feel the need - she was already more powerful than anyone else here.

“I am Kalaia - demigoddess of unity,” she announced. 

“I am Lou - demigoddess of storms,” Lou followed. 

“I am Cinnamon - demigoddess of speed,” Cinnamon added. 

“That’s cute,” mumbled Gwen. “Did you rehearse that, or was it improvised?” 

Kalaia narrowed her eyes. “It’s considered proper to bow in the presence of a divine being.” 

Gwen raised an eyebrow, stepping forward. Karli and Clara both had to hold her back. 

Connor awkwardly shuffled backwards, waved, and darted out of the room as if he knew that this tension was only the beginning. 

“Clara,” Gwen said slowly. “Who are these girls and what is your relation to them?”

Clara shot a helpless glance towards the Rogues. As much as she wanted to claim that Gwen wasn’t always like this, it would be a lie to say she wasn’t protective. 

“They’re my escorts,” she answered finally, hoping to satisfy both parties. 

“Escorts?” scoffed Kalaia. “Emmeline has directed the four of us to find a Waelian and bring them back to the Crossover Forest. Preferably a Blessed.” 

Gwen didn’t miss a beat. “Well, I think Clara and I can handle it from here. I’m sure you have other things to do, being a demigoddess and all.” She gave a small smile, but Kalaia and the other Rogues didn’t move. 

“Our job is to accompany Clara in addition to finding a Waelian,” Kalaia said. 

“When Clara and I see Emmeline again, we’ll be sure to assure her that you did your duty,” Gwen replied. 

“That won’t be necessary-” 

“Karli, pack my bags-” 

“Are you sure that it’s a good idea, Gwen-”

Clara sighed. She was never going to be at peace again, was she? Gwen and Kalaia were practically brawling by now, both of them yelling at the top of their lungs. Karli stood in between, waving her hands to try to break them up. Cinnamon and Lou watched from a distance.

She turned away and began walking down the hallway of available rooms. None of the doors had signs saying they were occupied. 

“Yeah, business is slow,” came a voice from the end of the hallway. 

Mrs. Brewer stepped into the light of the hallway, sporting the same red hair as her children, albeit speckled with strips of gray. She pushed a small cart covered with cleaning supplies in front of her. 

“How bad?” Clara asked. 

Mrs. Brewer shrugged. “It’s not terrible. We get at least a customer a week. But it’s nowhere what it was when your little tribe started using us.” 

The Sprite Hunters once used the hotel as a rendezvous point after dangerous stunts and missions. The Brewers took pity on the kids and agreed to shelter them for the same rate as they charged other customers. Back then, the village had been booming with excitement and life. Now, it was a graveyard. 

“I’m sorry,” Clara mumbled. 

“There’s nothing you could do to change it, sweetie. The new goddess queen has changed the travel laws.” 

Of course Baelle had. “How?” 

“We aren’t allowed to leave the kingdoms, and you need special permission to cross most borders between patron lands. A lot of people aren’t happy but complaining means you disappear.” Mrs. Brewer levelled a stare at Clara like she knew that she played a role in the change. 

“If so many people don’t like it, why don’t all of you rise up?” 

Mrs. Brewer frowned. “Not everyone disagrees with Baelle’s rule, sweetie. There are a good deal of people who want to see the goddesses fall. The percentage of us who want to go back to normal is very small.” 

So Baelle had enchanted even the smallest villages by persuading them that it would be better off if they got rid of goddesses all together. 

“Well, I’ll let you get to sleep,” Mrs. Brewer sighed. “Are your … friends staying too?” 

Clara shrugged, already dreading what arguments she would have to face in the morning. “I have no idea. We can pay extra-” 

Mrs. Brewer cut her off before she could finish. “No. I insist you stay here free of charge.” 

“But if business is slow-”
“I think the solution to slow business is standing right in front of me.” She leaned in close so that her mouth was at Clara’s ear. “I don’t know what kind of people you’ve found yourself with, but I know what you’re doing, Clara. Please stay safe.” 

She nodded but couldn’t force herself to speak. Because with what her friends were planning, none of them would be safe. 


Clara wasn’t sure how long she slept for. 

She lay awake for a while, staring blankly at the ceiling of the tiny room. There were two cots in the room and a single wooden dresser. It felt wrong. 

The last time Clara had stayed at the inn, Johnny had slept in the other bed with Gwen on the floor between them. Now Johnny was dead and Gwen was a married woman who could probably avoid adventures for the rest of her life if she wanted. Clara wondered where the Sprite Hunters had even gotten to. Who was leading them? She couldn’t stop the bitter thought of it should’ve been me worming its way into her mind. She should be with the Sprite Hunters, leading them through the woods and fields. 

A door slammed and the whole building shook from the impact. 

It was probably just Gwen or one of the Rogues finally reaching a breaking point. Clara pulled her pillow over her head. 

There was a crack of shattering glass.

Clara squeezed her eyes shut, pretending that everything was fine. Gwen was known to break things when she was angry… 

The door to her room burst open and Clara was on her feet a moment later.

Silence. The room was empty except for her, the door hanging wide on half broken hinges. Clara reached for her dagger on the dresser-

Invisible arms grabbed her shoulders and threw her to the floor hard enough to knock the breath from her lungs. Clara’s Blessing immediately went to work numbing the pain, but pain flared in her head as someone grabbed her hair instead. 

The invisible arms yanked Clara to her feet and shoved her against the wall, pressing the cold metal of a knife to her throat. The tiny blade hovered ominously at her skin, seemingly floating. Clara could feel her pulse practically at a hum now. Her dagger lay discarded across the room, a dull lump in the dim light. 

She could’ve sworn she heard someone whisper, “hold her still”. Arms tightened around her wrists. There had to be more than one invisible person here - probably assassins from Golla if she had to guess. 

Clara was about to cry out when a gag was tied around her head. If they were gagging her-

White hot agony erupted in Clara’s arm, right above her wrist. It felt as though the sun was being pressed to her skin, charring it and burning it and … Clara knew the darkness well enough to feel it pressing in on her mind. 

No! She couldn’t get knocked out now-

The heat only increased in response to her refusal to succumb and Clara’s Blessing was already pouring all that it could manage into her arm, though it was admittedly little. The scars on her wrists from Beckett were still unhealed, sapping away at her magic slowly. 

“That’s enough, a voice hissed and the heat was replaced by icy cold cloth. The invisible hands wrapped it gently around her arm, the angry fire stolen away by the freezing cloth. 

She sank to the floor, flooded with agony. Stop being such a baby-

Her gag was ripped from her face and Clara sucked in breath after breath, trying to calm her frantic heartbeat. You’re alive. You’re alive. You’re alive. 

She wanted to look at her arm and see what the invisible hands had done to it, but somehow her mind knew it didn’t want to see whatever mess of blood was probably there. She could still feel the heat, blooming and pulsing with spirals of pain streaking upwards. 

“Poison,” someone growled. 

Clara immediately started to struggle again as cold glass was pressed to her lips. They couldn’t make her drink

A fist landed squarely in her gut and Clara doubled over for breath. While her mouth was open, the hands poured the vile liquid down her throat and pinched her nose to force her to swallow. 

It burned as it went down, scalding her insides and ripping her apart from the inside out. 

Was that laughter? 

Clara writhed on the floor, her Blessing already spent on trying to lessen the pain in arm. It did nothing for the poison now coursing through her veins. 

These assassins were certainly experienced. 

Her head felt light and fuzzy and tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. No, not tears. They were hot at first, but the second they hit her skin they cooled and hardened, sticking to her face. 

The darkness of death was wrapping its hands around her, pulling her down to whatever lay beyond life. Clara wanted to escape the pain of the tears fusing to her face. 

And for some reason, her last thought before the black stole her away was to check her arm. If she was going to die, she wanted to know how. 

Her vision was blurred, but she could just barely make out the words Property of the King burned into her skin, raw and bloody. Gratefully, she let herself fall into the welcoming embrace of the darkness.


© 2021 A.L.


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Added on October 25, 2021
Last Updated on October 25, 2021
Tags: blessed, cursed, adventure, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty


Author

A.L.
A.L.

About
When I was eleven, my cousins and I sat down and decided we want to write a fifty book long series that would become an instant bestseller. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet (and I doubt it will) bu.. more..

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A Chapter by A.L.