The Emerald-Opal Heir - 32

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 32

A Chapter by A.L.

The Knight


“We can’t even leave you alone for five minutes, can we?” Bethany sighed as she reached for another roll of bandages. 

“Yeah, seriously,” Margo grumbled, a book in hand and her feet across Calli’s lap. “How are the rest of us supposed to have fun when you never ask us to come along?” 

Forrest was tempted to point out that she looked like she was having plenty of fun reading scenes from her books aloud to Calli, but he refrained. His wrists hurt more than he cared to admit, despite Bethany’s best attempts to heal him. 

“Because near death experiences are fun,” Clara muttered from where Delilah was working on her wounds. Somehow, Elyviella had managed to disable Clara’s Blessing, meaning none of them could be healed quickly. And somehow, Newt hadn’t even let anyone tend to his wounds, instead opting to go nap. 

Forrest winced as Bethany prodded the burns on his arms and she gave him a pitying look. 

“I wouldn’t call angering the goddesses a near death experience so much as a hobby,” Morgan said, not looking up from his board game with Rae, Niko, Finn, and Gwen. “It’s your turn, Rae.” 

“It’s not something I try to engage in daily,” Forrest said and Bethany poked him again. “Bethany, if I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to kill me.” 

Bethany responded by poking him hard and Forrest cursed at her. 

“And how do you know she’s not trying to kill you?” asked Rae, pulling a few cards from the deck. She laid them on the ground. “There. I win.” 

Morgan reluctantly began to collect the cards, grumbling about rigged games. 

“I think Bethany would miss him too much,” Gwen commented, reclining against the couch. 

Ice crusted over the burns, cooling them and numbing the pain, but it also crept over his lips, sealing them shut. 

“Hey!” Forrest cried, spitting out the ice. “I didn’t even say anything!” 

Gwen and Morgan snickered and Niko gave Forrest a wink that he made a point of ignoring. Bethany offered an apologetic smile, but there was something sinister hidden behind it. He made a mental note to get back at her later. A spider in her bed, maybe? 

“Oh, look who is awake,” Clara called out, changing the subject. She nodded towards Emmeline who was standing in the hallway, wringing her fingers. “Good morning, sleepyhead. You missed us getting beat up by the goddesses.” 

Emmeline cracked a nervous smile. “Is that what’s wrong with Forrest’s hair?” 

Forrest gaped at her, but pulled his hands away from Bethany, patting his head self-consciously. “What’s wrong with my hair?” 

Bethany tugged on one of his curls. “It’s certainly a lot longer than it was before, isn’t it?” 

Emmeline giggled and the sound was so surprising that Margo dropped her book. 

“You all are so mean to Forrest,” Delilah said, wrapping bandages around Clara’s arms and tying it off neatly. 

“This is what he gets for doing stuff without us,” Calli justified. “It’s only fair.” 

Emmeline took a seat at the table beside Forrest. She didn’t look all that different, beside maybe a slight glow to her eyes, as if she was more awake than before. She was a little paler too, but not in a way that made her look sick, but rather so she looked like an ethereal ghost. “So, how did you manage to get beat up by the goddesses?” 

“Forrest, Clara, and Newt went to yell at them about what they put you through,” Margo answered. “And they didn’t invite the rest of us!” 

“I’m pretty sure you were in the room when we discussed it,” Clara argued. “You easily could’ve joined us.” 

“Wait … They told you what I did?” Emmeline whispered, a blush rising to her cheeks. 

“Well, kind of,” Forrest said. “Newt just told us they put you through some sort of test. But then the goddesses showed us a vision of what you did…” His voice trailed off as he found himself unable to describe what he’d seen. 

Emmeline’s fingers trembled on the table and silence filled the room. 

“So, uh, how’s the plan coming along?” Niko interrupted, even though Forrest knew full well that the thief had already heard the plan. 

“It’s great,” Bethany started, and then launched into an explanation of how they were going to infiltrate the coronation. It was complex and it relied heavily on Emmeline’s ability to wield her new power, but Forrest had faith in it. Somewhat. At least this time, they had a contingency in case things went wrong. 

He caught Emmeline’s blank stare and realized she wasn’t really listening anyway, even though this explanation was for her sake. Her eyes drifted around the room, above everyone’s heads. 

His own attention focused on her arms and the pale, white lines on her skin. Were those … toll marks? 

Emmeline noticed him watching and swiftly covered her arms with her sleeves. Her cheeks flushed with color and she cleared her throat. “I … I think I’m going to get some fresh air. Just, y’know, a little dizzy with the new magic and all. Forrest, will you come with me?” 

“Only so Newt won’t murder me for letting you out alone,” Forrest lied. 

Bethany gave him an odd look and Forrest returned a stare that he hoped she would understand meant we’ll talk later. 

Then he dragged Emmeline out the door and onto the streets of the heavens. 

“Let’s find somewhere private,” she suggested. “Ernest, do you know where we could go?” 

Instantly, Ernest’s ghostly form materialized beside Emmeline, as if he’d been waiting there, invisible. Forrest nearly tripped over his own feet in shock and wondered if it would be beneficial to buy some bells to tie around Ernest’s limbs so he couldn’t scare people. 

“There’s a garden over this way,” Ernest said, floating along the path. 

Emmeline followed behind him, and Forrest made his way after them until they arrived in a tiny garden. He guessed that it belonged to Zachryona, which only made him feel less guilty about stepping on the flowers. 

“Why do you have Toll marks?” he asked before Emmeline could distract him. 

Emmeline rolled up her sleeves and peered at the marks on her arms. “Is that what they are? What do they mean?” 

She sounded so innocent, like she truly didn’t know, so Forrest quickly explained. “When someone uses too much of a goddess’s power, it enacts them. Bethany had them a little while ago. But unless you overshot a Blessing - which I’m pretty sure you don’t possess - you shouldn’t have any.” 

Emmeline bit her lip and shot a look at Ernest, who shrugged. Finally, she exhaled. “I’m supposed to go and bathe in the Temple of Purity,” she explained. “It’ll solidify my transition to goddesshood.” 

“Oh, so it’s temporary then.”

“No,” Emmeline said, harsh. Forrest blinked at her. He’d never seen her so upset before. “I … Ernest, can you explain?” 

Ernest sighed, hovering right behind Emmeline and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “A goddess versus a goddess is one thing, but a goddess’s power relies on the support of the people. With the kingdoms ready to die for Baelle, she’s practically invincible.” 

“And so you think this was all for nothing?” 

“No,” Emmeline repeated. “When a goddess’s soul is trapped in a mortal body, it’s in danger of breaking. Any harm that comes to the vessel will set the soul free, and the result is detrimental.” 

“Theoretically,” Ernest added. 

Emmeline nodded. “If Baelle harms me, she’ll break my soul free and it’ll weaken her enough that Beckett or I can kill her.” 

Forrest stared at her. They’d had a plan. A good plan, one guaranteed to work … except they hadn’t accounted for the power issue. Nor had they routed the Temple of Purity into their travels. It might take some readjustment, but…

“How can you even be sure that this will work?” Forrest inquired. “Beckett hates us, and he’s probably kissing Baelle’s feet as we speak.” 

“According to Baelle, he’s dead,” Emmeline interjected nonchalantly. “I don’t believe her, though.” 

Forrest cursed under his breath. How much was Emmeline hiding from them? Apparently a whole heck of a lot, because she kept revealing secret after secret, layer after layer. How far could this facade go? 

“And there’s one more thing,” Emmeline said, her voice even softer. “This is the one big issue, and you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“Deal,” he agreed automatically.

“Listen to me, Forrest. Not anyone. Not Newt, not Clara, not even Bethany. No one finds out, alright?” 

“My lips are sealed.” 

Emmeline sucked in a breath. Forrest wished that Coral was here instead of him, because she probably would’ve been able to talk Emmeline out of this craziness. 

At last, she said, “When my soul breaks, there’s a chance it won’t come back.” 

“A high chance,” Ernest chimed in. 

“I think that Newt’s power is the key to keeping me together. When the time is right, I need you to tell him all of this. Tell him to save me.” 

He understood why Emmeline was holding this back. Why she didn’t tell Newt that she would need him. If Newt found out, he would be irrationally angry about the whole idea and would probably do anything he could to stop it. But still… 

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” he asked 

Emmeline shrugged, wrapping her arms tighter around herself. “I know you had everything all planned out-”

“I did. And it was almost guaranteed to work.” 

“And I know this is dangerous,” she continued as if she hadn’t heard him. 

“Wow, really? It’s not like your life is on the line or anything.” 

Emmeline winced but ignored the comment. Forrest knew he was being unfair and that Emmeline was just trying to confide in him, but he couldn’t bear to lose another person that he loved. It was Coral all over again. 

“I have to do this, Forrest.” 

“No, you don’t. There are more risks with your plan than there is with mine. You think you won’t be able to kill Baelle, now but you don’t know that for a fact-”

“Yes, I do,” Emmeline mumbled. Ernest slid closer to her, embracing her in a hug. “The test of fear we had to complete in Golla - mine wasn’t fake.” 

“It probably was,” Forrest argued. “Newt thought his vision was real too.” 

“Mine was real,” Emmeline repeated, more forcefully. “It kept replaying over and over, and every time I changed something, it got worse. I tried to kill Baelle multiple times, and the only time I even came close was when I didn’t bathe in the Temple of Purity.” 

Forrest shook his head, running a hand through his hair. “We’re putting a lot of faith in unknowns,” he grumbled. 

“Does that mean you’ll consider my suggestion?”

“If you’re completely sure that it’s the only way, then I don’t think I really have a choice,” he retorted. 

Emmeline let out a sigh of relief and guilt tugged at Forrest’s heart. Newt was going to absolutely murder him if anything went wrong with this. “What should I tell the others, then? I can’t just change the plan on a whim.” 

“The only thing I need is for you and Newt to be at my side when I take on Baelle.” 

“Okay. I think I can do that.” 

Emmeline was suddenly hugging him and Forrest awkwardly patted her back. “Thank you, Forrest. You don’t know how much this means to me.” 

And I don’t think you know how hard this is for me. 

She finally pulled away and Forrest offered her a shaky smile. Panic was filling his chest and he itched to tell her no, that this was all way too crazy. But he knew Emmeline was past the point of persuasion. 

So when Emmeline took Ernest’s hand and began to lead him away, Forrest stayed put in the garden. He sat down on the bench, burying his face in his hands. 

This was insane. His mind kept running over the details of what they were going to try to do, but all he could think of was all the ways it was likely to fail. Coral’s face kept appearing in his mind too.

Just when he was about to head back, he caught a rustling in the bushes behind him. 

Hand immediately on his sword, Forrest stood abruptly. There’s no way anyone else could have broken into the heavens - unless we forgot to close the gates. But Emmeline killed them all. 

Bethany’s bronze head appeared, her face bright red as she caught Forrest staring at her, his mouth hanging open. She pulled a twig out of her hair self-consciously. 

“Margo and Calli disappeared and I wanted to see if they were making out somewhere,” Bethany admitted with a small laugh. “I thought they might have come out here, but apparently not…” 

“Margo and Calli?” Forrest repeated, ashamed not to have noticed it. 

Bethany shrugged. “I know my sister well, and Calli is definitely her type. It was only a matter of time, really.” 

“Of course.” 

They both fell silent and Forrest dropped his hand from his sword, muscles releasing their tension. Every time he finally felt like he was growing close to his friends, they had to go and pull stunts like Margo and Calli that made him wonder if he really knew them at all. 

“So,” Bethany continued. “What did Emmeline say?” 

“Not much,” Forrest said, struggling to keep a straight face. He’d promised Emmeline he wouldn’t tell anyone, but now her life was at stake. Was his promise to her worth more than her life was? “She asked a few questions about our plan and she made a few changes.” 

“And you let her?” Bethany laughed. “I can’t believe you caved to someone.” 

Forrest crossed his arms. “Why do you assume I never do what other people want? I’m not that stubborn.” 

Bethany raised an eyebrow, her hands on her hips. “Oh, really? Says the boy who ran away to go complete a mission on his own because he didn’t believe the rest of us were capable of helping him.” 

“That was one time-”

“It was twice, actually. Well, three times if you count the little walk where we ended up talking with Racke.” 

Forrest struggled to come up with a refute to that. He didn’t want to admit that Bethany was right. So what if he was an independent person? He could work with a group if he needed to, he just … didn’t like to. 

“Back to what I was saying,” Bethany interrupted. “You let Emmeline change the plan?” 

“Just a bit,” he sighed. “She has a few things she would like to try, but … I’m worried that they might come at a cost. She might die.” 

“And you don’t want her to become another Coral,” Bethany guessed, reading his mind. 

Forrest nodded. “I know that it’s foolish to believe that all of us will survive this because odds are we won’t. But I want to pretend that this is going to work out perfectly. And if we do have to lose someone, I would rather it not be Emmeline.” 

“Like Niko,” Bethany said. 

“As long as it’s not Emmeline … or you.” He felt flames rising to his cheeks so he dropped his gaze, hoping Bethany wouldn’t notice. “Or any of the others, I mean.” 

“You’re not allowed to die either, Forrest,” Bethany whispered, taking a few steps closer to him. “I know you like to believe you’re all big and strong and alone, but we would miss you. And I know you’re going to find a way to protect all of us. Just … just remember to protect yourself too. No stupid sacrifices, okay? Promise me.” 

Forrest laughed. “Fine. I promise I’m not going to make any stupid sacrifices.” 

“You better not,” Bethany agreed. “And you’re not allowed to die either.” 


“You already promised, now you can’t take it back,” Bethany said, her smile wide and bright. 

“We shouldn’t be joking about this,” Forrest complained. 

Bethany rolled her eyes. “We have a few days before the end of the world, Forrest. Let’s enjoy it while we can.”

© 2022 A.L.

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Added on January 17, 2022
Last Updated on January 17, 2022
Tags: blessed, cursed, adventure, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty



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