The Emerald-Opal Heir - 27

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 27

A Chapter by A.L.

The Healer


As it turned out, Clara didn’t have to even attack Titus’s mother to harm her. 

Guards grabbed Clara less than a second after she lunged, pinning her arms to her sides and forcing her to drop her dagger. She bit back a retort as the woman doubled over, coughing hard. Clara snickered. Serves her right…

A guard socked her in the stomach, and Clara wriggled against him, sending them both crashing to the ground. His hold on her meant she had no way of protecting herself, and her face slammed into the ground hard. Someone hauled her to her feet and Clara tasted blood on her lips.

“What is the meaning of this?” spat the Chief, her voice hoarse and her eyes narrowed. 

Clara grinned, probably looking demonic while doing it. She could feel blood dripping from her lips, and combined with her new scars, she was sure it was a nasty sight. “Oh, nothing you should be troubled with, milady.” 

The Chief leaned forward in her seat. “Who are you, girl, and what do you want?”

There were so many things she could’ve responded with. She could’ve said she was Titus’s form, reborn. She could’ve made up a story about what Titus had accomplished, could’ve pretended to be coming for revenge as an assassin. But none of those would hurt this woman enough. 

“My name is irrelevant, and my purpose is to deliver justice.”

“Do tell. What have I done that is so terrible that justice needs to be served?”

“You probably don’t remember it, but I do. He did.” Did the Chief even know who Clara was referring to? Did she remember her own son? 

Apparently she did, because the Chief paled considerably. “I have no idea whom you speak of.”

“Really?” Clara laughed and the blood in her mouth bubbled, making a hideous noise. “You would think that a woman such as yourself would remember her only son. But I suppose when you sell your children off out of selfishness, it tends to slip your mind.”

The guards holding Clara tensed and she could feel them questioning whether she spoke the truth. 

Liar,” spat the Chief. “I never had a son.”

“Take my locket,” Clara said. 

The Chief raised an eyebrow, but obligingly unlooped the locket from Clara’s neck. Her expression morphed into one of shock, and Clara wondered if she recognized it. 

“That is what’s left of your son.”

“... Titus,” the Chief exhaled, the locket slipping from her fingers. It dropped to the floor but didn’t spill. She stumbled backward, collapsing in her seat. “Who are you?”

Clara was taking way too much joy in this. “You see? You did have a son, and now he’s gone. Do you want to know how he died? How he refused my Blessing because he hated this world so much he didn’t want to stay in it?”

The Chief was breathing heavily now, sweat dripping from her forehead. “No… My little Titus was a good little circus boy. He was going to come back when he turned eighteen. He’s … he’s alive.”
“Don’t lie to yourself,” Clara scoffed. “Titus would never have returned to you.”

The Chief opened her mouth to respond, but her gaze caught on Clara’s face. And on her slowly healing lip. 

“You’re a Healer,” she gasped. 

“A failed one,” Clara amended, a trickle of fear slipping down her back. She didn’t like the way the Chief was watching her, gaze calculating. “My Blessing didn’t work on your son.”

“You said he refused it.”

“He did, but-”

“Bring her closer,” the Chief ordered, and the guards listened, dragging Clara towards the throne. Her feet dipped in the cool water, but then she was being held directly in front of the Chief. “Your Blessing is healing? Can you heal others?”
“I don’t see why that’s important-”

“Heal me,” the Chief pleaded, her voice soft and her eyes crazy. She was desperate - she didn’t want anyone to know there was anything wrong. “Please, little monster, I’ll give you anything you desire.”

Clara’s Blessing was itching, begging to be used. She pushed it back. 

She didn’t allow herself to respond, afraid of what might come out of her mouth. Her anger was making her irrational, and irrational Clara made bad decisions. 

The Chief shook her head with a laugh. “You think you’re so noble for refusing to heal me, don’t you? Because my son told you I’m a horrible person, you think I don’t deserve to live?”

Well, when she put it that way… 

“I’m not healing you,” she decided. “There are plenty of other healers, surely one of them can help you.” There, she’d at least give someone else a chance to see the good in this woman. 

“Oh, you don’t understand, do you? This is my punishment from my patron goddess. When I gave away Titus, she said I would die unless I could convince my son’s friend to save me. Another healer won’t work.” The Chief smirked, so confident in her persuasion skills. Clara almost laughed. This was a goddess’s punishment, so it wasn’t her job to interfere. 

Except… it sort of was. Clara was the only one who could save the Chief, so the blood would be on her hands. As if she hadn’t killed enough people already. 

“I won’t heal you,” she repeated. “I … I respect Titus too much.” 

The Chief shrugged. She seemed too happy for Clara’s liking. “Fine, then. Have it your way.” She turned her attention to the guards. “Take her to the prison and do what you must. I expect her to be willing to heal me by the end of tomorrow.” 

“No!” Her voice was shrill and the Chief only grinned wider. 

The guards began to drag Clara away, but all she could think of was the brand being pressed into her skin and the poison dripping from her eyes. She dipped her head so the Chief wouldn’t be able to see her. And then Clara started to cry. 

The guards didn’t actually do anything to harm her besides a few kicks to her ribs. Clara could only guess that they would return soon enough to finish the job. She recognized now that maybe her compliance could’ve saved her life, but it was too late to dwell on that. Clara needed to escape, and she had a feeling that the Rogues and Baelle would not be coming to rescue her any time soon. Which meant she needed to escape on her own. 

Clara and Johnny had attempted a jailbreak once, and it hadn’t gone well. They’d been locked up for “disrupting civil order” by playing a game of tag that may have ended up with an older woman in the bottom of a well. Needless to say, Gwen had been livid when she had to break them out of a prison carriage after they’d attempted to escape only to be caught again. 

Look around you, Clara told herself. Surely something in her tiny cell would be useful. 

They’d at least given her a bed this time, accompanied by a waste bucket in the corner. High up on the wall was a barred window that Clara doubted she’d be able to fit through, even if she managed to get to it. It looked like the only way out would be through the door - which just happened to be made of thick wood. 

They’d taken her daggers too and Clara had a feeling she wouldn’t be getting them back. 

“Alright, Clara, Gwen taught you, like, fifty ways to pick a lock. You can do this.” She put her hands on her hips, trying to think of a way to escape. But the only things she had on her were her clothes and her boots, neither of which were remotely helpful in any way, shape, or form. She let out a string of curses, glad that Gwen wasn’t here to wash out her mouth. 

Too bad she wasn’t a Blessed from Golla or she could’ve possibly slipped through the wall. Or maybe she’d rather be from Layene so she could break down the door. 

Voices echoed outside her cell and Clara bolted to attention, raising her fists. Maybe she could take out the guards… 

The lock on her door clicked and pure focus washed over her. She prepared to attack- 

The door swung open and Clara jammed her elbow into the person’s neck, cutting off their breath. He choked and sank to the floor and she realized with a start it wasn’t a guard after all, but Finn, accompanied by Gwen, who stood in the doorway looking rather pale. 

“Sorry,” Clara mumbled, her cheeks flushing pink. “I thought you were someone else.”

She quickly helped Finn to his feet, but he didn’t seem unphased at all. In fact, his copper colored curls framed his own blush. “You’re good. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who could easily sweep me off my feet.”

Gwen cleared her throat loudly. “Clara, what are you doing in prison?”

What took you so long to notice? Clara wanted to retort. Instead, she managed, “How did you know where to find me?”

“Your little friend came to find me after you didn’t come back from meeting the Chief,” Gwen said with a meaningful glance at Finn. “We saw the Chief with more protection than usual, so we assumed they’d brought you here.”

“Yeah and Gwen took them out like it was nothing!” Finn exclaimed with a dramatic reenactment of whatever Gwen had done to knock out the guards. 

Clara was only half paying attention, though, because something about Gwen seemed off. She waited until Finn finished his story before asking, “Where are the Rogues?” 

“Waiting outside the checkpoint. Once we noticed you’d disappeared, I told them to wait while I went to find you.” 

“So what’s wrong?”

Gwen shook her head, offering a fake smile. “You’ve always seen right through me. As it turns out, the prisoners here are on a kingdom level in terms of punishment. The royals have been alerted of your presence here.”

“But they don’t know my name…” Clara protested weakly. 

“The Chief didn’t take long to recognize you from the wanted posters,” Finn said. “She alerted Baelle right away - and Gwen said that’s a bad thing.”

It was a very bad thing. If Baelle had been oblivious to their plans prior to now, she definitely was aware of what they were attempting. And Clara didn’t know how fast Baelle could travel, but they needed to get out of there, and fast. 

“Oh, I forgot,” Finn continued, removing a small pack from his back. He tossed it to Clara and she opened it to find her daggers. “We snatched them off the guards.”

“Thank you!” she said, replacing her daggers in their proper sheaths. It felt amazing to be armed again. She brushed her fingers against the precious hilts of her weapons, imagining how she could use them against the Chief. 

Isn't it enough that you’re condemning her to death by refusing to heal her? 

Clara pushed those angry thoughts away. She didn’t know where this desire for blood was coming from - or maybe she did, and she just didn’t want to acknowledge it. 

“We need to get out of here,” she said, more for herself than for Finn and Gwen. “And we should try and find a Waelian to take with us while we’re at it.”

Finn raised his hand shyly. “I’ve already offered to come. Gwen explained why you were here, and I would be willing to help.” He sent a glance at Gwen, like he was seeking approval for whatever he was going to say next. “I… I have a special talent.”

Gwen nodded, as though saying, go on, show us.

Finn inhaled deeply and Clara was reminded that time was of the essence and every second she delayed, the closer Baelle came. 

“Hand me your dagger,” he said, his voice lower. 

Clara reluctantly obliged, and when her fingers brushed against his palm, it sparked with magic. He cupped his hand over the blade, the other still wrapped around the hilt. 

There was a soft hum and Finn’s eyes flashed with something, some ancient, unknown magic. He handed the dagger back to Clara and there was something different about it, but she couldn’t tell what. 

“I’m a Forge,” he whispered, his eyes glinting dangerously. “I make weapons and I empower them. And I believe I can make something that’ll kill a goddess.” 

A little over an hour later, the lock on the door to Clara’s cell clicked open again. And this time, it wasn’t Gwen and Finn. 

After the revelation of Finn’s extraordinary magic - which Clara still had trouble believing was even possible - they’d come up with what Gwen deemed a “foolproof” plan to help Clara escape prison and ensure Baelle wouldn’t be an issue. 

“The Chief wasn’t lying about this one,” one of the guards mumbled under his breath. “She looks like trouble if you ask me.”

There, she finally had a use for the ugly scars on her face. They made people intimidated by her with a simple look. 

The other guard barked a laugh and reached for a thick rope in the loop of her belt. “These ones just take longer to talk, that’s all. Besides, we’re not trying to make her look nice, we’re here to make her compliant.” 

Clara made a show of backing away in fear. She forced her eyes to widen and raised her hands as if trying to protect herself. 

It was pathetic acting, really, but the male guard seemed to buy into it. “Oh, look, you scared her.” 

“She’s fine,” the female guard scoffed. “With the amount of scars she has, I doubt it’ll affect her much.” While she wasn’t wrong, Clara had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. Her Blessing could only do such much, and she needed to reserve it for later.

“You can try me,” she spat, allowing her voice to waver - and feeling her gut twist when she realized it wasn’t all an act. “I won’t heal the Chief.”

“Pin her,” the female guard ordered, and before Clara could register it, the male guard lunged and swept Clara’s feet out from under her. She toppled to the ground, letting out a small grunt of pain as she leapt back to her feet. 

Only to be forced up against the wall with large hands wrapped around her throat. 

The position reminded her too much of her ordeal with the invisible assassins sent by Baelle, and Clara’s heart began to beat faster as if trying to run away. 

She let her fear seep into her act, trying to make it seem more genuine, but instead of making the guard leave her alone, it only served to freak Clara out more. Adrenaline rushed in her veins and her mind told her to run. I’m not a rabbit, she told herself. I don’t flee. 

Fists pounded into her stomach, and while the assassins hadn’t beat her… 

“Make her stop screaming,” one of the guards hissed, and a hand clamped over her mouth. Clara’s head was growing light, leaning towards unconsciousness as she began to hypervenilate. Oh, goddesses, it was happening again. 

One more punch - to the face this time - and the guards finally allowed Clara to slump to the ground. She could feel her Blessing itching to mend her wounds, but she commanded it to slow. She needed to make it seem like she was slowly healing, but she wanted to reserve most of her magic for later - especially with the scars on her wrists still stealing her magic. 

“I don’t think she’s learned her lesson,” said the female guard as Clara wheezed on the ground. Clara felt a sharp kick to her ribs but allowed the pain to center her. 

“Please,” she mewled. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Let me heal the Chief.”

Maybe laying it on too thick, she began to fret as she was met only with silence. She couldn’t see much through the swelling in her face. Did the guards believe her? 

“I feel kinda bad about this,” the male guard sighed. “Do you think she’s telling the truth?” 

Oh, goddesses, please be stupid. 

The female guard thought for a moment, her eyes running over Clara’s prone form. “I think so.” She bent down so that her face was right next to Clara. When she poke, her hot breath poured over Clara’s cheeks. “If you lie, it will be nothing compared to the pain we just showed you.” 

It took all of Clara’s willpower to stifle a laugh and offer a fake, terrified nod instead. 

“So we understand each other?” 

Clara nodded again and the guard hefted her up by the collar of her shirt. The two guards quickly bound her wrists with rope, probably under orders of the Chief. Clara took it as a good sign - the Chief was scared of her. 

They led her through a complex maze of corridors until they surfaced in the main room of the pyramid once again. 

Clara noticed they’d cleared it out. Another precaution in case she attacked the Chief. 

She allowed herself to be the scared, shaken girl they all thought she was. The Chief was perched in her chair, legs crossed smugly, yet she could do little to mask the fear in her eyes as she watched Clara cross the room. 

“I see you’ve finally come to your senses,” the Chief said, her tone emotionless as Clara was forced to kneel the water in front of the throne. The cold seeped into the fabric of her pants. 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, making her voice crack. “I … Titus wouldn’t have wanted me to let his mother die. It’s just been so … so hard since I lost him, and…” She let her voice trail off and dropped her gaze. She didn’t want the Chief’s pity, but she had to make this believable. 

The Chief was clearly enjoying this. Her laugh was dry with amusement. “My guards might deserve a promotion for the work they’ve done with you.”

Or maybe I should just get a job in the theater industry. 

“I will heal you,” Clara continued. “But you have to promise me something.” 

The Chief propped her chin on one hand, leaning forward slightly. “And why should I make a deal with you? You’re my prisoner.”

“And I’m keeping you from dying,” Clara countered, allowing some of her earlier defiance to surface before mellowing again. “Plus, … it’s about your son.”

The Chief’s lips pressed into a thin line. She truly was a despicable woman not to care about her son. “Tell me what this promise entails before I agree to anything.”

“My necklace, the one from earlier,” Clara said. “It fell to the ground, but I know you kept it.” The Chief paled and Clara knew she’d struck gold. “Inside are Titus’s ashes. He wanted them to be spread in the desert so he could return home to the sand.” 

“You want me to believe you came all this way just to spread Titus’s ashes?” 

Clara bowed her head solemnly. “It was his last wish - and he wanted you to be the one to do it.” Which was a lie, because Clara had already sent Titus back home. Gwen had snuck into the Chief’s private rooms, snatched up the locket, and replaced it with a similar one full of sand. Under the Chief’s scrutiny, it would hold. Gwen had released Titus to the sands under Clara’s orders, and even though she hadn’t been there to witness it, Clara felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

“I will do it. I promise,” the Chief murmured and Clara breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, you will heal me?”

“I need my hands free,” she said, holding out her wrists expectantly. 

The chief nodded and one of the guards cut Clara’s hands free. She stood slowly and approached the Chief before laying her hands on the woman’s temples. 

They all assumed she thought she was going free after this. They all assumed Clara had changed her mind. And they were all wrong. 

Golden sparks prickled her fingertips, and she allowed the tiniest bit of her Blessing to sink into the Chief’s skin. It would be enough to easy her current pain, and her illness would disappear for a few days. But then it would come back worse than before. 

Clara was tired of being merciful. 

She stepped away from the Chief, letting her eyes droop to give the illusion of being tired. She stumbled a bit as she backed down the stairs, acting as though the healing had taken more of her Blessing than it should have. 

The Chief was smiling proudly from her little throne. “Alright, back to your cell.”

Clara arched her eyebrows in confusion. “My cell? But … but you said I would go free after this.”

The Chief scoffed. “I never said that, and it just so happens that someone is willing to pay a whole lot of money for you.” Baelle. 

“No! I won’t go!” 

She was running towards the entrance now, not even bothering to wait for the guards to pursue her. Because she knew what lay ahead. 

Gwen and Finn flew threw the beaded curtains, stopping Clara right in her tracks. They were dressed in all white, their faces masked. Gwen drew two swords and pointed them at Clara. “You have betrayed the trust of the Sprite Hunters,” she bellowed, regal voice echoing through the pyramid. “Now you will perish!”

It was so cheesy that Clara didn’t think it would actually work, but the Chief was shrieking in the background. “Stop them! We need her alive!” 

Gwen didn’t hesitate. With a wink in Clara’s direction, she thrust her sword into Clara’s side. It burned like crazy and Clara’s eyes watered, but Gwen had purposely missed anything vital. She pressed a hand to her wound anyway, feeling her Blessing at work. 

Clara pushed Gwen and Finn aside, bolting as fast as she could down the steps and into the checkpoint’s streets. 

Finn was at her heals, muttering directions under his breath so she knew what way to turn. Her side throbbed with every step, but eventually they reached a back alleyway that ended with a wall. In the corner was an altar with purple flames, the burnt remains of test dummy from Finn’s house still smoldering. Clara pulled herself onto the wall, scaling it easily. Gwen and Finn were just behind her, and a moment later, they stood on the other side of the checkpoint’s walls. 

If anyone took the time to inspect the altar, they’d know it wasn’t real. The purple flames were a concoction of chemicals that Gwen carried with her at all times in case of emergencies like this one. While there was a generous heap of ashes - a donation Clara figured Titus would be willing to make - she knew it wouldn’t stop Baelle for long. 

But until Baelle learned that she’d been tricked, Clara was unofficially dead. 

She only wished she could see Beckett’s reaction when Baelle told him the news. In the sick, twisted way of the new Clara, she hoped it hurt him.

© 2021 A.L.

Author's Note

Sorry for two longer chapters in a row, but this officially marks the end of part one! I'm pretty excited for the next part but it's not planned out in terms of details, so it might take a little longer. This should mark about the 70% mark of the story, though.

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Added on December 31, 2021
Last Updated on December 31, 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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