The Emerald-Opal Heir - 22

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 22

A Chapter by A.L.

The Warrior


“Goddesses, you all are soaked,” said a small, plump woman, her brow etched with worry. “Tom, blankets?”

“Already on it,” called a man from the hallway of the house. 

Rae’s mother was already ushering everyone inside, her gaze lingering on every one of them. A few moments later, Rae’s father returned with a pile of blankets and towels. Forrest already was in debt to them and he hadn’t even been there for five minutes yet. 

Apparently, Racke had not asked Quiglin to stop the rain because the trek to Rae’s house was miserable. Dragging an unconscious Bethany through the woods was bad enough, especially with Margo fussing over her sister every few minutes. Doing it in the pouring rain was even worse and Forrest was sure he’d never be dry again.

“I think I have enough water in my boots to fill a lake,” Calli grumbled, turning her shoe upside above the sink as a torrent of water poured out of it. Forrest stifled a laugh. 

He wrapped one of the blankets around himself and took off his boots, grateful for the warmth of the house. Rae’s parents were busy smothering her with hugs and kisses and it made him a bit uncomfortable. 

Morgan and Margo were propping up Bethany in one of the wooden kitchen chairs and Calli was airing out their bags of supplies, so Forrest took the opportunity to wander around. 

The front door led to a small kitchen and dining room with five chairs at the table. Five, he noted, meant that there had to be other people here. Just past the kitchen was a sitting area with a lit fireplace and a few chairs. It reminded him of one of the inns he and Coral had stayed at on the way back to Nelith. Coral had said she wanted a room just like this in their house and Forrest had since then pictured any life he might have had with Coral in a small cottage with a fireplace. 

“So, Rae, who are your friends? How have you been? What have you been up to?” Tom asked, his cheeks a cherry red. 

Rae quickly introduced everyone and then continued with, “It’s kind of a long story, but we’re on important business. But, uh, we kind of ran into some problems on the way here.” She gestured to Bethany. 

Immediately, Tom and Rae’s mother - who was introduced as Laura - were moving Bethany to the apothecary in the back of the house. 

“It’ll be a little while until we check her out and everything,” Laura explained. “Feel free to use the house, though. You can borrow some clothes while we dry yours - and help yourself to the food in the pantry. Oh, and Rae, your brothers should be back from the market soon.”

Then they were gone, Margo and Morgan watching suspiciously after Tom and Laura. 

Rae was at the pantry, digging out a few loaves of bread. “We’ll have more food when Rowan and Ryder come back.” She laid the bread on the table, her face flushed with color. “I’ll go grab us some clothes-”

“Hey, Rae,” Calli interrupted. “Thanks.” She gave a sincere smile. 

“Yeah, thank you for bringing us here,” Forrest echoed, trying to be as genuine as possible. “And, y’know, thanks for the food and the blankets and … everything.”

Rae gave a shrug and a small smile but it was evident she liked the attention as she hurried away to find some clothes. It warmed Forrest’s heart to see her finally feel included, and it also reawakened the guilt about Brooke’s disappearance. 

“I wonder why Rae left home in the first place,” Calli mused, perched on the edge of the table with a blanket draped around her shoulders. “It seems like a nice house and family and all.” 

“Boredom?” suggested Margo, still dripping rainwater onto the floor. 

“I can hear all of you!” Rae called from one of the back bedrooms. She returned with a pile of clothing stacked almost taller than her, which she dropped onto the table. Hands on her hips, she continued, “Laura isn’t my real mother - she’s my brothers’. My real mom was killed by a Rogue a few years ago, and so I went to join the rebellion to avenge her. Plain and simple.” 

Forrest blinked. 

She talked about it casually, but there was no mistaking the crack in her voice when she mentioned her mother. It was like every time he thought about Coral and the fracture in his heart only got bigger. 

“There should be enough clothing here for everyone,” Rae said abruptly, a poor attempt to break the silence. 

Forrest grabbed a bunch of the fabric, not even bothering to check and see if any of it actually fit him. The air was growing tense around him and he didn’t want to deal with the emotional aspect of it.

He hurried into the bathroom, quickly stripping off his soaked clothes and changing into whatever Rae had found for him. 

On his way out, Forrest caught sight of himself in the mirror and his reflection actually surprised him. If only his parents could see him now… 

Gone was the young, boyish face and huge grin - all of it replaced with features both physically and emotionally scarred. He didn’t recall ever getting the scar right above his left eye, nor did he even remember the color of his eyes being so dark. Even his hair was different with its streaks of gray plastered to his forehead.

He wondered briefly if he still looked like his father, the way everyone had claimed when he was younger. 

He also found himself trying to picture Coral standing beside him but it was surprisingly difficult. Why was it that he could no longer picture her face with ease? The idea was more painful than he wanted to consider-

“Forrest, are you done yet!” There was a knock at the door that startled him back to reality. 

“Oh, yeah.”

He quickly opened the door, bundling all his wet clothes into a pile under one arm only to look up and find Calli’s unimpressed face. 

“You take forever,” she grumbled, but then her features suddenly softened. “Are you okay? You look like you’ve been crying.”

Forrest cursed under his breath. “I’m fine,” he said. “And maybe my beauty routine is just more extensive than yours.” A weak attempt at a joke that Calli made an ever weaker attempt to laugh at. 

It seemed that it was always Calli who saw through his lies, and today was no different. Her expression took on one of pity. “Forrest, if you need to talk…”

“I’m fine,” he repeated, harsher than he meant to. 

Calli put her hands on her hips. “Sure you are.”

Then she slammed the door in his face and Forrest was well aware that he messed up. Big time. 

Headed back to the kitchen with his head hung in shame, Forrest nearly ran into a slightly panicked Laura. While she wasn’t freaking out entirely, it was evident by the nervous wringing of her hands that something was wrong. 

“You’re Forrest, right?” she asked. 

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“Okay, so the girl - the injured one - she just woke up. And she’s been asking for Forrest, begging, really. She sounds pretty upset…”

“You want me to talk with her?” He could already feel the dread building in his gut, a warning. 

“If it’s not too much of a hassle,” Laura said sheepishly. 

Forrest obligingly followed Laura to the apothecary on the back end of the house, trying to avoid the impassive stares from Margo and Morgan. 

Laura led him to a cramped room, one entire wall filled with shelves upon shelves of jars filled with poultices and potions. Rain pounded on the windows in the back, giving the room a dreary look despite the golden lights dangling from the ceiling. In the center of the room was a cot, low to the floor, Bethany sitting atop it with her legs crossed. She was wrapped in several blankets, holding a steaming cup of tea. Her normally bright eyes were dulled by pain, though it was impossible to tell she was hurting otherwise. 

“You called for me?” he said, tucking his hands into the pockets of his pants. 

Bethany didn’t answer at first, staring intently into her tea. Her fingers shook as she held the cup.

Forrest glanced at Tom and Laura for help, but the couple just shared a look and slipped out of the room without another word. Goddesses, because this wasn’t awkward enough. 

Bethany didn’t move. 

“So, uh, you’re awake,” he said, taking a seat on one of the few stools scattered around the world. “That’s good news, right? How are you feeling?”

“Like crap,” Bethany answered, her voice nearly gone. She forced a small chuckle. “I hate this.”


Her gaze was piercing when she looked up to glare at him. It was so different from the bronze haired girl he’d first met - the one who had been reluctant to speak with anyone except her siblings. Forrest was glad she’d come out of her shell, but she could be scary when she wanted to be. 

“It’s not your fault, Forrest. I did this to myself and as much as I don’t regret it, I won’t be repeating that spectacle anytime soon.”

“So you’re okay? Except for the Toll marks.”

Bethany lifted her arms from under the blanket, inspecting the pale lines that overlapped the darker ones. “Is that what they’re called, then? Well, I feel like I’ve been to the afterlife and back but it’s fine. I’m just a little colder than normal since my Blessing is temporarily gone.” She shrugged and gave another shiver. 

Forrest wanted to apologize, but he knew Bethany wouldn’t accept it. 

He knew what it felt like to have some divine power you’d grown up with be suddenly ripped away. And even if his Curse had been a terrible thing, he’d learned to live with it - partially, at least. Even if it got worse every time. 

Sometimes he wondered if he would’ve been better off living with his Curse and letting Coral. Actually, it was pretty much all the time. 

“I meant what I said though,” Bethany continued. “I don’t regret it.” 

“You shouldn’t,” Forrest said immediately. “I mean, Racke may be a goddess but she was practically blackmailing all of us-”

Bethany shook her head and shifted in her spot, like she was going to attempt to stand but suddenly thought better of it. The teacup in her hand rattled in her trembling fingers. “I didn’t attack her for me, Forrest, I attacked her for you.”

Confusion etched itself across him. 

Bethany laughed, and this time it was genuine. “Why are you always so surprised to discover that we care about you?”

He opened his mouth to answer but realized he couldn’t think of one.

Bethany gave a tiny smirk and then grimaced like it hurt. “Racke was trying to hurt you and you were letting her. I may be passive, but I don’t appreciate it when people hurt my friends.” 

He didn't respond, didn’t want to acknowledge her words in any way. 

“Forrest, come sit with me.” 

He didn’t know why, but he did. He went and he sat on the floor beside her cot, tucking his knees to his chest. The blanket around his shoulders seemed to do nothing against the chill seeping its way into his bones. 

One of Bethany’s hands was reaching for him, but then her fingers stopped just above his skin and she went back to her cup of tea. 

Forrest’s heart was a frantic rhythm and he didn’t like it. His mind flickered between the past and the present, between Coral and between all of his friends that were looking to him. How were they going to find a person from Nelith willing to join them? Who should they ask? Normally he would leave these things up to Coral but now she wasn’t here. 

He wished she was. He wished that he had someone’s fingers to tangle his with. He wished that he could run his hands through her hair one more time. Kiss her with as much passion as she had for him. 

“Try some of this,” Bethany insisted, handing the shaking teacup to him. 

He wanted to hold Coral and hug her and just have her back. He wanted to say goodbye but he also wanted to experience their first hello. 

Forrest pressed the teacup to his lips, immediately tasting the sedative laced into the liquid. It was already down his throat though, and the empty teacup dropped to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces. 

Bethany’s eyes were fluttering shut as she slumped to the mattress, giving Forrest a drowsy smile. 

“Sedative,” he managed to whisper, but Bethany just nodded knowingly. 

“I didn’t want to face the dark alone,” she whispered, and he somehow sensed that her mind was on what had happened back at the silver palace. “And I thought of all people, you would understand.”

Forrest didn’t know if he said anything in response because unconscious swept over him like a wave, drowning him and pulling him under. 

All he knew was the cold, hard floor. 

A crack of thunder was what finally startled him awake. It shook the whole house to the point where the windows rattled in their panes. The rain was a thousand angry fists, all with a grudge against the world itself. 

Forrest was lying on the floor, his head cushioned on his arms. While it wasn’t exactly comfortable, it was better sleep than he’d gotten in a long time. That had to be saying something.

He stretched, rolling away the ache in his muscles. Outside, the sky was dark. It had to be the middle of the night by now. 

Bethany was still asleep on the cot, her mouth partly open and one hand dangling over the edge so that her fingers brushed the floor. The sedative must have worn off by now, meaning this was her body’s way of resting. Forrest decided that as soon as she woke up, they would resume their journey to Nelith. Until then… 

Another boom of thunder sounded in the distance. 

Could Baelle be the cause of this storm rather than Quiglin? He thought the only person who could control the weather was Lou, demigoddess of storms. Surely she wouldn’t be out the slow Forrest and the others down … unless she was a traitor. Forrest’s thoughts switched to Clara. Was she doing okay with just the three demigoddesses for company? 

This is why you can’t be left alone and restless, he told himself. Your mind tends to wander and come up with the worst possible scenarios. 

Forrest sighed. He was restless. He couldn’t handle just sitting somewhere, waiting for something to happen. What if Clara was in danger and needed help? What if Emmeline and Newt were already in Baelle’s clutches? They’d decided that communication - even through Ernest - was risky if it was caught, so Forrest had no clue how the others were doing. And what about Beckett? As much as he wanted to hate Beckett, it was hard to do so. Was the prince still alive? 

The sooner he finished this mission, the better. But that wouldn’t happen if Bethany couldn’t travel. There was no way any of the others would be keen to leave her behind… 

You could go alone. 

It was the same thinking that ended with Coral dead, the same thinking that put the blood on his hands. 

This time you can make sure no one follows you. Leave now when no one is awake. 

Forrest ran his hands through his hair. He had always felt anchored with Coral at his side, as if she was some sort of tether to reality that kept him from floating away into his own mind. With her not here, he was forced to fight off the poisonous thoughts himself. It was like his Curse had left him with scars that would never heal, angry thoughts that gave him irrational ideas. 

Ideas that he listened to. 

Forrest got to his feet as quietly as possible. Bethany didn’t even stir, her breathing slow and even. He crept out of the apothecary and into the kitchen. Margo, Morgan, and Calli were strewn across the chairs in the sitting area. He assumed Rae, her brothers, Laura, and Tom were probably back in the bedrooms. 

Calli had left their packs on the table, open and spread out to dry from the rain. He grabbed a few packages of food, a canteen, and a few other survival supplies. You won’t be gone long. Maybe a few days at the most, and you can restock when you find someone from Nelith. 

It was the exact type thing that had gotten Coral killed and he was doing it again. 

Except this time you have no one to lose, he lied to himself with another glance at the sleeping forms of his friends. 

Forrest didn’t even leave a note as he slipped out the door and into the rain. A flash of lightning immediately greeted him Forrest shivered in the harsh wind. He didn’t want to turn back now.

He could hear Coral whispering in his ear, urging him onward. 

His hand slid to the hilt of his sword where he had tied Coral’s charm bracelet so long ago. “You’re going home, Coral,” he whispered. “I’m taking you home.” 

Without another word, he set off into the storm.

© 2021 A.L.

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Added on November 27, 2021
Last Updated on November 27, 2021
Tags: blessed, cursed, adventure, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty



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