She woke up to a nightmare.
They were dead.
Hot tears ran down on her pale cheeks. Her tears were nothing compared to the agony in her heart.
Was it the price of her sins? Did she lose them all because she was a merciless hand of the beggar king?
"Please, let me be wrong. Please, Please...if anyone can hear me, please...don't let this happen. They don't deserve this." She moved desperately from one body to another body. The poison of Dhath was quick. Still, she didn't want to give up. There should be someone. Anyone.
She prayed wordlessly as a last desperate attempt. She had never prayed before. If there was one true god-like Shayera had told her, she wanted that to be real for once. Shayera's god could take her as the price, but let them live. They didn't deserve to die like this. She was ready to give up her life for theirs.
She found Shayera. Her body was cold as ice. She pressed my palm against on her throat and checked. There was nothing. Her soul was long gone. Her body was empty and dead.
It was her fault only. Kresi should have recognized that woman. She should not have let her come inside this haven. She shouldn't have trusted Gabriel.
She wiped her tears and checked the other bodies. She found Pebby, the girl with pink hair who always asked about her brother Raye. She checked for her life. Luckily, there was a glimmer of life that was quickly fading away. Kresi pressed the palm against her stomach and soaked the poison out of her body. Each cell of her body hurt like it was stabbed with needles. She didn't give up.
"[Ahrshe]." She whispered the same combination rune that someone has used on her once. Pebby's heart revived again. The little girl coughed hard. Kresi let go of her and moved to the boy lying next to her. Perhaps, the poison dose was small in their food. She managed to save Mirai in the same way.
"Kresi..." Quinn called her name when she saved him in the same way. Only three people survived out of fifteen children. If she hadn't come today, nobody would have lived.
"I will open the gate to the beggar city." Kresi drew the invisible rune on the wall. "Take Mirai and Pebby. They need more help. Leave now."
"What's going on here?" Quinn could barely stand up. He looked around in confusion. Everyone looked like they were sleeping. "Why does it hurt?"
"Poisoned," Kresi told him. "They are dead."
"What?" Quinn grabbed her by her shoulder. "Don't joke about these things. They are sleeping."
"On the table?" Kresi let out a pained laugh. "Aeline has poisoned all of you. She is not gone. She must be calling her people."
The gate to the beggar city was open. Mirai and Pebby were sitting up, but their heads were not clear. Their young minds couldn't process what was going on. Compared to them, Quinn was cleared headed. He grasped the situation. He pulled delirious Pebby by her arm and pushed her through the gate. He did the same to Mirai. Finally, he looked at everyone who appeared like they were dreaming something sweet.
"She poisoned Rui too," Quinn whispered. Rui, who was only five years old girl, always clung to Aeline. "Is she really dead?"
"The only reason why you three survived..." Kresi took a deep breath. "The poison dose was a little low in your meal compared to the others. It is the poison of Dhath with no cure. She wasn't worried about the dose. It would have killed you eventually if I wasn't here."
"What about you?" Quinn was trembling. His chest was hurting, but he couldn't say a word about it. He knew that Kresi was in pain too. "Come with me."
"I can't." Kresi smiled at him sadly. "I will come later. I have to finish that woman first."
Kresi pushed him before he could retort. Quinn fell through the gate. Just after that, she closed the gate.
She went out of the cottage. Aeline was standing there, dressed in the black robe. Her lemon green eyes met her golden eyes. Her long and wavy red hair looked like fire itself. Her skin was pale and yet, her cheeks were rosy because of excitement. The woman, who poisoned fifteen children, smiled at him.
"I heard the whisper in the wind that you are here."
The Belan spirit must have told her. The guardian spirit of Belan had betrayed them. The blood contract meant nothing.
"Are you upset for them, girl?" She eyed her mischievously. "I gave them the poison of Dhath. They died before the fire could burn them."
Kresi said nothing. She didn't feel anything at this moment. A numbness was spreading in her heart. There was only one thing that she wanted.
Aeline couldn't read her mind. But, in her eyes, Kresi was only thirteen years old girl. "They didn't feel the pain. The poison of Dhath is swift. It was a painless death"
She said it as if she did them a favour by making it painless.
"Ah!" She tilted her head to the right. "You are angry, Kresi? What is their future? If they lived, they would be forever hunted by one of us. They had a hopeless future of being chased by the knights. You are a Mirin. You are not one of them. I do not know why you were here, but I decided to save you alone. You would make a wonderful addition to the Elite Class Legion."
All fifteen children who lived here were special. The world called them the cursed children because they could cultivate dark ehr. These children hid away from the world here, hoping to live in peace. Just because of something they couldn't control, their fates were decided. The world hunted them and killed them in fear because of the future. But, Kresi knew that they wanted nothing from the darkness or the world. They simply wanted to live a happy and peaceful life. In the forbidden woods of Belan where no human could come without the permission of the spirit of Belan, they found a sanctuary. They hoped that the world would leave them alone.
She smiled at her sadly. She truly believed that she did them a favour by killing them.
Kresi eyed the woman who always smiled at them kindly. Gabriel brought her three months ago and told them that she would live with us. She was always suspicious of Aeline, but Shayera had a firm belief in Aeline. She argued that Gabriel would never bring anyone dangerous to them. Kresi had let go of her doubts. If she hadn't, she could have prevented this outcome.
They learned that she was carrying his child and she needed to hide. Shayera was excited after she heard that Gabriel was going to be a father. All of them celebrated the good news. They held a small ceremony where each of them gifted something to the unborn child. Rui made a garland of flowers. Shayera gifted a charm that she made herself. Gabriel was happy that they accepted his fiance in their family.
"You will regret this."
Aeline narrowed her eyes. Her expression changed in the next instant. Her motherly facade reappeared on her face. The fire was gone, leaving only ashes on the ground. Kresi only felt an emptiness when she looked at the ashes. They were truly gone. Not even their ghosts lingered here. She could never see them again. They were gone. Murdered. By this woman.
She took off her dark robes. She was no longer wearing the simple dresses that gave her a homely mother appearance. She wore a crimson leather jacket over a red flowing dress, a wide leather belt over her waist and red pants that reached her high leather boots. She always acted motherly and caring. That was how she deceived them.
Even Kresi was blinded by this woman's act. She was too lost in the dream. Then, she was awakened by a nightmare. They paid the price for her foolishness.
"Do you want to fight me, Kresi?" She gave her a half-smile. "Do you think that you can win against me?"
"High Queen of Aredes," Kresi chuckles. "Does the High King knows that you are here?"
Aeline paled when she heard her words. Kresi smirked at her. The fire was the holy fire. There was only one person who could currently wield the holy fire - the high queen of Aredes, the host of the holy fire.
Kresi had no idea how Gabriel knew the high queen of Aredes and why would he bring her here. Gabriel should have known better than having an affair with the high queen itself. Of all the people in the world, why would Gabriel bring her here? Probably, he was not aware of her identity. She was a fool to trust Gabriel's judgment.
"How?" Aeline asked her with surprise. Kresi didn't answer her.
"It doesn't matter how you know." She no longer kept her fake persona. "I am the High Queen of Aredes, Aeline Lavius Starfire. Now that you know, I cannot let you live."
"Is that so?" Kresi eyed her belly. "High Queen of Aredes is pregnant with a child of a tainted one. How will the high king accept this?"
Aeline laughed without shame. "You worry about Gabriel's child? This child is his, yes. That was something I had to do. Gabriel and I had were playmates when we were young. When he was barely fifteen, he ran away from his family. His family never looked for him. I learned it later that he was one of the tainted ones and his family didn't care about him. "
Kresi saw a tinge of sadness in her eyes. It faded away quickly. In her right hand, a flaming sword of white fire manifested. The world believed that High Queen Aeline Starfire was kind, regal and pure. She wondered what would be the reaction if they knew that their beloved queen Aeline Lavius Starfire was a warrior sorceress who murdered children by poisoning them.
"Before I was elected as the high queen, I was already the head of Nameless Knights." She paused, hoping to see Kresi's shocked reaction, but nothing appeared. "Gabriel's name was already enlisted there as a tainted one. They were looking for him, but Gabriel was good at hiding and running. He was secretly hiding away the cursed children. We believed that he was creating an army of the cursed ones. It took me a long time to find him." She paused for a moment. "It was so easy to deceive him. He never thought that I could be a nameless knight or the high queen. It was easy since nobody had seen me like a queen except for my king and my son."
The royal family of Aredes was known to be secretive. High Queen never showed her face to the people under the pretext that the queen was physically weak and unstable in controlling the holy fire. Nobody doubted this reason. The holy fire was usually too strong to control and it slowly killed the host. When the woman was chosen as the host and married the high king, her origins would be removed and she would be given a new name. It was a law to avoid involving the woman's past or her family in royal matters. Kresi understood how Gabriel couldn't guess Aeline's true identity.
Aeline took a step toward her and grinned. "I was Gabriel's first love. I knew that he would bring me here after I gained his trust."
Everyone had a weakness. Aeline had a hold on a piece of his heart. Aeline knew this well.
"This child can never come to this world." She touched her belly. "Even if it was not a tainted one like Gabriel, I would never bring this child to this world."
Suddenly, Kresi turned around and ran into the woods.
"Kresi!" Aeline yelled and chased after her with the flaming holy fire sword in her hand. "Do you think that you can run away?"
Aeline chased the girl into the woods. She felt a tinge of regret in her heart. Silver Guardians were trying to recruit a Mirin for ages. Those stubborn old Mirins not only refused, but they also cut off all their connections with the royal family of Aredes and the noble families that were associated with Nameless Knights. House of Mirin was the only elite noble house that was not afraid of the Royal Family of Aredes. They always kept themselves on the neutral grounds and never tried to seek powers. They always said with a creepy smile on their face that power corrupted the heart. Their laudable principles made people suspicious. Despite never seeking power or recognition, Mirins had both the power and influence to uproot the high king and take over the higher realm. Their penetrating golden eyes caused insecurity for both the high king and the nameless knights.
The Mirins acted too high and mighty. But they were not clean or pure as they appeared to the world. She knew that the Mirins sacrificed their unwanted infants to Mirinae, the goddess of night. The blood sacrifice ensured the special blessing they had in their blood. The high king told her the secret himself. Aeline didn't doubt this information. Their marriage may be loveless, but they have a mutual understanding.
Aeline had never seen any Mirin use their ehr in public. All she had known that they were the masters of medicines and poisons. Still, nobody dared to test them.
How can anyone feel easy when such family existed in the higher realm?
The worst part was that the Renasir were always born in Mirin bloodline. Aeline knew that it was the part of Mirinae's blessings. She felt that it was unfair. On the entire realm, the Renasir was the most powerful being, only second to the true wielder. The Renasir was the anchor of this world and the gatekeeper of the forsaken world. Together with Renasir, the Mirins with special physical constitutions were an eyesore to the high king. The people of the higher realm feared the Mirins more than the royal family. It pricked the royal family like a thorn.
Especially, the Mirins never helped the Silver Guardians. They never let anyone from their bloodline to join the nameless knights. They even blacklisted the Silver Guardians to enter their vicinity after the Knights' last attempt to recruit a Mirin.
If she could get hold of a Mirin and find out the secrets of their special constitution, did it not mean that she can also find the secrets of the Renasir? She can make one of them. It was not entirely impossible. The nameless knights had the means and power. The search for the harbinger and the cursed children would become easy. The Renasir, like the Mirins, always never did anything. For more than two hundred years, she had been gone. Nobody knew where she was. The Mirins never gave a straightforward answer about the Renasir.
She needed this girl to know the Mirin's secrets. Taking her alive was better. But, the girl knew her secret. The girl can't be left alive. It puzzled Aeline how the girl figured out her true identity. She decided to torture the girl to tell before killing her. Then, she would take the girl's dead body along with her. A dead Mirin was better than no Mirin.
Aeline finally saw the little minion with golden eyes standing atop one of the branches. She was tired of chasing that girl. This girl hopped like a rabbit from branch to branch. At last, she stopped running. Aeline summoned the fire and aimed at the girl. The white fireballs escaped from Aeline's palms and hit the tree.
The girl jumped away from the branch before the fireball could touch her. The tall trees burned behind her, leaving nothing but the charred ground. When Aeline heard the cries of those trees, She was too angry to care. Being the host of holy fire advanced some of her senses. She kept shooting the fireballs in the girl's direction. The girl was quick and always avoided the fireballs. Soon, a large part of the forest was burned down to ashes.
"Stop!" Aeline's screamed at the running girl. She unleashed countless fireballs at the girl ferociously. "How long are you going to run? We are in Belan. Even if you run for all your life, you cannot escape unless the Mother Spirit wants you to."
The girl finally stopped at the meadow after leaving a trail of fire and ashes behind her. She looked up at the starless sky. It was odd that there was no moon in the sky. But she was standing on the heart of Belan where the spirit of Belan or Mother Spirit had her own laws. Even Ril'Yah can't be seen from the heart of Belan.
Aeline was breathing hard. She realized that her pregnancy weakened her. During her first pregnancy, she was quite pampered by the king at the palace. This time, she had to live here in the woods with these kids.
After she was done killing this girl, she would take care of this pregnancy. The high king didn't love or care about her, but it didn't mean that he would tolerate infidelity or a bastard child.
Aeline realized that there was something odd about this place. There was no moon in the sky. In the skies of Iravan, Ril'Yah always shone as a form of protection from the darklings. She was in the woods of Belan. But, woods of Belan couldn't be outside of the laws of the eleven gods.
'Where is this place?' She thought anxiously.
Before she could say anything, a gigantic dark metal door appeared between her and the girl. Aeline couldn't move at all. The door was oozing a dark intimidating aura that filled her with a foreboding feeling. The door was plentifully bestrewn with multiple ancient seals. Aeline couldn't read them. She didn't know the forgotten language.
The golden-eyed girl walked to the door without a trace of fear. She looked like a rabbit in front of the giant door. Aeline wanted to cry out. She wanted to stop the girl. She had a bad feeling. The door didn't have anything good behind it.
The girl didn't pay any attention to Aeline. She placed her hand on the metal door. Aeline didn't hear any spell or chant. Suddenly, the seals broke into multiple rays of light with a crisp sound and disappeared into the air. The girl pushed the door once and it moved with a creak.
Aeline didn't realize that she was holding her breath. She was waiting. She didn't know what she was waiting for. She couldn't imagine what was behind that door. She didn't dare to.
It was a caliginous, abhorrent and gigantesque creature. It had oddly shaped a thousand arms and a thousand pink eyes. The sacrilegious creature reeked of the dead and rotten. When it opened its large mouth, Aeline saw countless sharp yellow canines. Aeline had never seen such a creature before. She tried to summon her holy fire. It didn't come. The holy fire was within her and yet, she couldn't invoke it or circulate ehr inside her.
"What is that?" Aeline asked. First time in her life, she was terrified. Something blocked her from invoking the holy fire. She felt it inside her, but she couldn't summon it. The sky had no protection of Ril'Yah either. Aeline felt powerless and vulnerable without her holy fire.
"Master," The filthy creature ceremoniously bowed its round head to the girl. All of its thousand arms touched the ground. His two large feet were bent on the ground. The creature touched his forehead on the ground as if waiting for his master's commands.
"Mogrok," Kresi called its name, sealing the contract between them. It was then Aeline realized what that Kresi had done. This girl, Kresi Mirin, just freed a forsaken one from the forbidden realm.
The contract was formed. Mogrok became Kresi's first summoned spirit beast from the forbidden realm. Mogrok was quite surprised that he was summoned. This tiny girl completely freed him from the forbidden realm. The girl broke the seals done by the gods himself.
"You are also one...," Aeline pointed at Kresi. Was she mistaken? Kresi was doubtlessly a Mirin. Those golden eyes along with the ability to suppress the poison of Dhath confirmed her lineage. Otherwise, she wouldn't be able to survive the poison of Dhath. How could a Mirin be a cursed child? That was impossible. Mirin never had a cursed child in their bloodline. It was never recorded...
"Oh, Aeline!" Kresi looked at her with pity. "You were so blinded that you wounded the woods of Belan and also followed me to the heart of Belan, the only place of Iravan that is free from the laws of the eleven gods."
When she heard Kresi's words, Aeline wanted to run.
It was forbidden to enter the heart of the Belan. The heart of the Belan was the only part of Iravan that was free from the laws of the old and new gods. This meadow was the only place where no god could interfere. It meant that she could not use her wield the holy fire.
She looked at the humongous forsaken creature. Why could this girl call something like that here? Was this girl not afraid of the Belan Spirit's punishment?
"How long are you going to watch the play, Belan Spirit?" Kresi looked behind Aeline scornfully.
Aeline felt cool and sleek fingers wrap around her neck. She turned her head. A nose-less naked ebony woman who was a head taller than Aeline was standing behind her. She had long green hair and four carmine eyes. She had a small mouth with no teeth. The ebony woman wrapped her arm around Aeline's belly and felt the life throbbing within Aeline. She beamed at Kresi.
"My lovely child, you brought me a gift." The Belan Spirit's voice was annoyingly sweet. Mogrok was irritated by her voice and frowned at the Belan Spirit. He felt an urge to pounce and chew the Belan Spirit.
"Belan Spirit, I didn't bring you a gift." Kresi rolled her eyes at the Belan Spirit. "I brought you the one who harmed your children. Why don't you look behind and see what she did in your territory?"
The Belan Spirit didn't look behind. She knew well what the woman clasped in her arms did on her land. She was hoping that Aeline would kill this last little nuisance. She didn't expect this troublesome girl run to her resting place and summon a forbidden spirit beast.
"Oh," Belan Spirit licked Aeline's earlobe. "This woman is delicious. You can leave her to me. She will get her punishment."
Kresi laughed at the Belan Spirit. Aeline couldn't speak a word while she watched Kresi climbed one of the Mogrok's arm. She felt Belan Spirit tense up. Was she afraid of this little girl? The Belan Spirit was the daughter of God Cina. Aeline hoped that the Belan Spirit could send the creature back to the forbidden realm.
"I want a trial, Belan Spirit." Kresi was sitting on the shoulder of Mogrok. "First, you failed to protect my friends. They never broke any of your law, but you failed."
The Belan Spirit flinched when she heard Kresi. A contract was a contract. Not even gods could escape a contract. If nobody raised a claim, Belan Spirit could have escaped since it was a matter of will. In reality, Belan Spirit was aware of Aeline's intention the moment she stepped inside the forbidden grounds. How could the Belan Spirit not know? The Belan woods was her territory, gifted by her father before he went to sleep. That was the reason she could manipulate the old and new laws in the Belan Woods. The heart of the Belan was the source of her powers. If this girl decided to trample the ground with that forsaken creature, it would cause great harm to her. Her father was not here to save her either if things went wrong. Besides, she had no control over Kresi or her summoned creature.
"Mother Spirit!" Aeline choked out desperately. She needed to get help from the Belan Spirit. The Belan Spirit should be on her side.
The ebony spirit looked down at the red-headed woman.
"I am the host of holy fire. I am fighting against the tainted ones." She was shaking in the arms of the Belan Spirit. "You must help me catch that girl. Please let me go with that girl. I swear that I would kill her. In exchange, I will give you anything you want."
In reality, there were a lot of things that Aeline could give to Belan Spirit. However, Aeline was wrong about one thing. The Belan Spirit knew that Aeline lost her only chance of killing Kresi. Kresi was not like other cursed children. If she helped Aeline, it would be a vicious battle between her and the creature. Even if she let Aeline use her holy fire, it would also harm her because the heart of the Belan was the source of her powers and existence. She can't let Kresi defile the resting place of her source with that forbidden creature.
Kresi glared at the Belan Spirit. She knew what was going inside that spirit's head. For the shelter and protection, the fifteen children gave her the drops of their blood on each new moon and full moon in exchange for protection and shelter. They were hiding away from the hunters. They truly believed that nobody could find them in the Belan Woods as long as their mother spirit protected them. They had an unshakeable faith that their Mother Spirit would never let any harm come to them.
The Belan Spirit was an ancient spirit who believed herself to be invincible. She could easily override the contract through her will alone. After all, contracts like that were usually battle of will. It was suggested to form contracts like that within the equal status. The will of fifteen children was nothing compared to the will of a spirit like Belan Spirit.
At the heart of Belan, this insidious spirit had complete control of the laws and forces. Once Kresi and Aeline stepped into the heart of Belan, she blocked Aeline from summoning holy fire here. After all, Aeline was just a host. Not a true wielder. If Aeline's fire was out of control on the heart of Belan, she would be the one taking the most damage. However, she could only stop Aeline, but she couldn't do the same to Kresi.
"How do you want to do this, Kresi Mirin?" Belan Spirit ignored Aeline's pleas.
"I want you to save the child in her belly."
"That's it? I will save the child if that's what you want." The Belan Spirit gave her a creepy smile. It was a disturbing smile, especially with her four slanted eyes. She threw her head back and laughed brazenly. She sat next to the trembling Aeline and touched her belly again.
"If you harm me," Aeline slapped the Belan Spirit's hand, "My son will destroy you."
The Belan Spirit was annoyed. She crossed her arms over her breasts and looked at the red-headed pale woman before her.
"Look up at the sky," The Belan Spirit pointed up at the starless night sky. "There is none of your moons here to protect you or the stars to watch over you. This land is mine and the laws are also mine. If I want to kill you here and now, even the old gods cannot come and save you. The new gods are too weak to speak in front of me."
After a pause, the spirit pointed at Kresi. "Your death was determined the moment you didn't manage to kill her. That girl? Let me tell you. This girl is the reason why your nameless guardians exist. She is the harbinger that you and your people ceaselessly are trying to find. Look at her now and regret not killing her when you could."
Kresi realized that she was right. The Belan Spirit let Aeline come inside the Belan woods to get rid of her. The twelve children died because of her.
The ancient prophecy spoke of a harbinger who would bring back the dark god. The harbinger was born with his heart and had control over the dark ehr.
"She is a Mirin," Aeline mumbled after a long time. She couldn't believe the Belan Spirit. A Mirin couldn't be a harbinger. How could two opposing ehr could flow in the same body?
"Darkness shall be born in the light," The Belan Spirit replied. "You, humans, always try to stop the inevitable. You killed countless children to stop the harbinger from being born. Still, she is here. You would be surprised when you hear the name of her mother."
"That is not your secret to tell." Kresi had no intention of telling it to Aeline or letting the Belan Spirit tell her. She didn't want to hear that name.
"No! No!" The Belan Spirit smiled weakly. "Who dares to speak her name? I do not want her wrath upon me. Even Aeis is afraid of that woman."
Who wouldn't be scared of that woman? That woman wanted to watch the world incinerate into nothing.
"What would happen now?" Aeline was calm. Her calmness was unnatural. Wasn't she shaking in fear a minute ago? Something was not right.
Ah! She leapt off Mogrok's shoulder and walked toward Aeline. Aeline pursed her lips when she saw her approaching me, but there was no fear. Kresi laughed and grabbed her silky red hair. She made her look into her eyes.
The Belan Spirit was truly devious. Why was she suddenly so chatty? She had let Aeline open a link between her and her son. As they spoke, he could hear them through the link. He had already sent people to save his mother.
"You can hear me, right?" Kresi covered Aeline's mouth to prevent from speaking. "Your mother is going to die tonight. She killed my whole family. Your regal mother even intends to kill your unborn half-sibling."
Kresi felt pain and hatred throbbing through the link. She couldn't tell whether it belonged to her, Aeline or her son.
"Do it." The Belan Spirit shuddered when she heard her. She held the presence inside Aeline's mind. She would also feel Aeline's pain, but she didn't care. This little pain was nothing to her. On this night, a child was going to be born, but the mother would die.
The Belan Spirit didn't hesitate and placed her ebony hand on Aeline's belly. Aeline desperately struggled to be free. Kresi heard her pitiful screams and felt her tearing pain. She could hear the distant screams of a boy in Aeline's mind. Aeline pleaded for kindness when she heard him.
Her belly swelled and soon, it was ready to burst. Aeline was screaming for death. She asked the Belan Spirit to kill her. Her son was also screaming in pain somewhere far away. I heard people around him trying to soothe his pain and break the link. But, the link couldn't be broken as long as she held it.
The Belan Spirit was the only one happy. Her twisted mind found delight in other's suffering. She used her sharp nails to tear open Aeline's belly. She pulled out the newborn from Aeline's belly. Her actions were swift and smooth. There was no blood. The Belan Spirit didn't want to Aeline's blood to fall on the ground.
The newborn was not a tainted one. He didn't cry. The child who was born under the moonless sky of Belan couldn't be an average child.
The Belan Spirit didn't pay attention to Aeline anymore. She cradled the child in her arms and fed him as her own. Aeline watched helplessly as her newborn son was being fed by the Belan Spirit. The child was no longer a human or a spirit. Because he was born on the heart of Belan and not under the protection of Ril'Yah, the child was neither protected by new gods or accepted by the old gods.
"Your brother is born," She said to the prince in Aeline's mind. "He is neither a human nor a spirit. He is not bound by the laws of new and old gods. He is not protected by the blessings of Ril'Yah or any other god. I wonder what would he become."
Aeline was in pain. She was both mentally and physically exhausted. Her torment was not over yet. Kresi spoke an incantation to break off the binding between the holy fire and her. A white holy flame was released from her. It wavered for a moment in front of her and then, it flew up toward the sky to find the true wielder.
Aeline didn't protect or cry when she watched the holy fire go away. Kresi smiled at her and said, "Do I not know that your son is the true wielder?"
"You will not get away from this. My son will find you and make you suffer a hundred times more than you did tonight. He will never forgive you." Aeline tried to grab her, but Kresi was out of her reach.
"Now, Now!" Kresi pressed her foot on her throat to stop her from howling. She made strangled noise, but she was still trying to curse her. "You will die tonight. That is for sure. But can you be reborn? I am not so sure. How about I turn you into my pet's meal? The holy fire will find your son soon. I have read when the holy fire is fused with the chosen one's soul, the agony is immeasurable. What will happen if I let him feel the pain of your soul and body being eaten by my Mogrok while the holy fire finds him? I shall show him what is the harbinger of Dark God capable of?"
Aeline shook her head violently. Kresi grinned at her and tapped into the link. The prince was barely gasping for air. He had heard her. She laughed when she felt his fear.
"If you want revenge, I will be waiting."
"Feed!" She commanded Mogrok, "Not even a drop of her blood should be wasted. Make it painful."
The Belan Spirit had devoured countless humans and beasts alike and yet, she never came across anyone ruthless as the forsaken creature before her. It tore open Aeline's body while keeping her alive to her last breath. It savoured each piece of meat with soaked with a piece of Aeline's soul. The Belan Spirit shuddered with fear.
The thirteen years old harbinger was quietly watching the forsaken creature and Aeline. There was nothing in her eyes except desolation and pain. Her nails dug her palms, but she didn't scream or flinch because of the pain she felt. She did this to hold on to the link between Aeline and the prince of Aredes. Compared to the harbinger, Aeline was the kind one. Though she killed those children, she made it painless.
The Belan Spirit sighed. Nobody was a saint among them. All she wanted was to delay the impending cataclysm of Iravan. Instead, it became an incentive for that very future.
Her eyes fell on the newborn in her cradle. His body was already changing. He was born on the heart of the Belan continent. He was connected to her. It finally occurred to her why the harbinger asked her to save this child.
Mogrok was finished with Aeline. There was not a drop of the blood on the ground. The harbinger stood up quietly and went to the shell-shocked spirit. Her face was ghastly pale. Mogrok wondered if the harbinger was going to die. The Harbinger had been hit by the holy fire in her lower back.
"Is this your revenge, Harbinger?" The spirit glanced at the Harbinger with amusement. "Binding me to a mortal child?"
The Harbinger bent her knees and leaned toward her. She looked at the infant. He had red hair and beautiful grey eyes. "From now on, his name is Ai."
"Ai." The spirit whispered the name wistfully. "Born in my heart, he becomes my heart. I can't kill him. He can't leave Belan. This land will be our prison. What a suitable name!"
"He will also be the one who will take your place and become the ruling mortal of this land." Kresi touches the child's forehead. "You will be his slave. You will raise him. You will feed him. He will teach you pain. He will teach you what it feels like to be betrayed. He will teach you suffering."
"Ah... you think that will happen?" The Belan Spirit laughed. "If I raise him, he will become my plaything."
"I wonder..." Kresi smirked. "If you can."
Kresi turned away from the Belan Spirit. The Belan Spirit wanted to ask more questions, but the baby in her arms wailed. She felt the pain and hugged the child close to her chest. What was this feeling? Because he was born on the heart of Belan, he also became a part of her. If he was hurt, she felt pain too.
The Harbinger summoned the forbidden gate again. She glanced at Mogrok and said, "Go. Wait for me there."
"Will it be you who come for me again?" Mogrok asked before he stepped into the forbidden realm.
The harbinger didn't answer him. The gate between the two realms closed. The Belan Spirit let out a sigh of relief. Now, she wanted to deal with the Harbinger. When she looked for the Harbinger again, the girl was gone.
Kresi returned to the Beggar City. She walked the streets under the dark sky. Her soul had been degrading due to the effect of holy fire. She went to the alley where she found Raye waiting for her. He looked extremely worried.
"Kresi." He ran to her when he saw her. "I tried to open the gate, but something blocked me."
"I did." Kresi climbed the wall to get to her makeshift bed.
"Why?" Raye looked at her with a baffled expression. He didn't know that she could do something like that. What was she? He climbed the wall and sat beside her. "I was worried like hell."
"I have taken care of Aeline." Kresi laid herself down on the bed.
"You are hurt." Raye pressed his palm on her stomach. "What happened to you?"
"Holy fire." Kresi didn't have much hope that she would survive. "Tell me, Raye. Do you remember our back up plan?"
"Why are you talking about that?" Raye tried to send healing energy into her body, but it was rejected. She seemed fine physically. "Come with me. Maybe Pebby can help you. If she can't, there are others. We will go to the Beggar King."
"I am fine." She lightly chuckles when she sees him worried. "I need to rest."
"Why are you talking about the backup plan then?" Raye asked her, worried. Months ago, she had given him a set of spells and a way to free the thirteenth god. Even if she ended up dying, he must take her body with him to the heart of Belan and find the universal key. It was a risky plan. He hadn't figured out the spells yet.
"I want to rest." Kresi closed her eyes. Her voice was becoming weak with each word. "Don't come close to me until the night of the union. Don't let anyone come close. I am a Mirin. I am the Harbinger. My body will heal itself. Right now, I just want to rest."
"Are you sure?" He wiped the sweat from her forehead. Raye knew all this. Kresi's body was special. He waited for her to reply, but she didn't make any sound. She was lightly breathing. Raye decided to leave. Perhaps, she needed was a good sleep after such a painful night.
When Kresi opened her eyes, she found herself standing in front of the cottage again. It was not burned to the ground. It was surrounded by sun rays. She walked into the cottage without any hesitation. Inside, she saw Shayera combing Rui's hair.
"Ah, Kresi, you are here." Shayera smiled at her. "You visited us after such a long time."
"I missed you," Rui yells with excitement. "Did you bring something for me?"
"Sorry, I didn't bring anything this time." Kresi rubbed her head.
"Don't worry, Rui. Kresi is going to stay with us from now on," Shayera informed Rui. Rui's eyes became bright.
"Really? I will tell everyone." Rui ran upstairs. Kresi and Shayera watched her go. A silence fell around them.
"Do you forgive me?" Shayera asked her. "I killed you."
Kresi looked at her sadly. Though chances of her surviving the holy fire were slim, she might have survived. Shayera took this chance to free Kresi's soul from that body. She wondered what was going on in Beggar City. There was a backup plan, but she was not sure if it would succeed. The Belan Spirit might harm them when they try to get the universal key.
"I couldn't leave you to suffer alone. You have done enough. I waited for you and brought you here." Shayera held her both hands and looked into her eyes. "I couldn't let you live that kind of life anymore. You have suffered enough, Kresi. Stay with us. Nobody will find us here whether its the nameless knight or the Renasir. It doesn't matter who we are. I don't know whether this place is a heaven or hell, but I am happy if we are all here together."
Indeed, Kresi's life had been full of suffering. She was abandoned at the age of six on the cruel streets of Beggar City. She became the hand of the Beggar King and assassinated countless people. She was stabbed by her own mother who saw her as a failure. She saw them die because of her mistake. She was the Harbinger.
No, she was no longer the Harbinger. She didn't need to follow her destiny. She was free. She was only Kresi now. Not a Mirin. She was at the place where the thirteenth god or the Renasir or the people who thought of her as a saviour could not reach.
She had already been in hell. This place, whether it was heaven or hell or just an illusion, she couldn't care less. As long as she was with her family, it was her home.
She rested her head on her shoulder. "I am home."
This is the original owner's story. The original dies in this chapter. In the next chapter, another soul transmigrates in Kresi Mirin's body. You don't have to read this chapter or keep the details in your mind.
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