Author’s Note: Unless TORC suddenly catches up on the quota of stories to update, this will come out on Sunday the 24th. I am still vacationing in Florida and won’t be back until Wednesday, so don’t expect any replies until then or Thursday at the earliest.
Thanks for stopping by to read and I hope finding out who’s who in this sick psychological game I’ve been playing with you all will set you at ease. Happy reading!!
Recap of Tale 8 . . .
He hung up and slipped the cellphone into his back pack, then looked at the dark horizon. “She’s moving,” he said to the white dragon. “Do you think she’s finally putting her plan into action?”
The dragon snorted.
“Can you reach Wraith?”
The answer was a soft hough.
“Then do it. The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can go home.”
Haldir tossed and turned in an extremely uneasy sleep. There was something wrong, but he could not tell what it was. He sensed no rising evil, yet the impression of impending doom hung over his consciousness and would not allow him to get any rest.
[You have failed us.]
[. . . Failed . . .? What have I done?]
[The soul is in danger.]
[. . . Danger? From where? Who?]
[From the Evil. You have put the entire world in peril. If the soul dies, so does Arda.]
He woke suddenly and sat up, the sheets pooled in his lap. He still did not understand what he had done wrong. Rising, he wandered absently from his room to the downstairs bathroom and splashed his face with water. Leaning tiredly over the sink with his eyes closed and water dripping from his skin, he wondered just how he had failed.
Nothing was amiss . . .
Straightening as he reached for the towel, he stopped when he looked at the toothbrush holder and saw that only two were there. Then, in the mirror, he noticed that one of the six spare boxes of toothpaste was missing from the cabinet behind him. Dashing from the bathroom in what was almost wild terror, he bolted upstairs and flung open the door to Krystine’s room.
The room was perfectly in order. The bed, made exactly as the occupant had been taught, had not been slept in. As the others appeared behind him one by one, apparently having experienced the same dream that he had, he fell hard to his knees. [Krystine . . .]
For once, Elladan did not try to make any implication toward his theory that Krystine was the Evil. Nor did Legolas insist this was because Krystine’s existence among those who distrusted her had been too stressful for her.
Instead, the Mirkwood prince stepped over to the bed and reverently picked up an envelope that had been lying on the sheets. He looked at it for a moment, then turned and handed it respectfully to Haldir, saying quietly, [I believe she meant for you to receive it.]
The elder Elf accepted the envelope and read the front.
Trembling in fearful anticipation of what he would read, he flipped the envelope over and opened it slowly, withdrawing the hastily-scrawled letter that had been blurred by tear stains.
Since you found this, I assume you’ve already discovered that
I’m gone. With all the tension here at home I decided that it was far
beyond time for me to go and find my place–find out who I truly am
apart from you and Mom–and packed up a few things to take with
me so that I’ll be out of your hair for a long while.
If you were worrying, don’t. Wraith has promised to take care
of me while I’m away from home. I don’t suppose that I’ll be coming
home anytime soon, either. Maybe not ever. If I can find my purpose
I may simply stay to carry it out. Don’t bother to wait up late for me
–I probably won’t be returning.
I’m sorry I never said good-bye . . . I assumed that you’d had
enough of me finally and would have preferred my absence. And if I
was wrong . . . I didn’t want you to try stopping me anyway. I know
that you would have done it for Mom, regardless of what you felt, so
I left this way so Mom couldn’t blame it on you, though from what
I understand from your argument in the kitchen yesterday, she’ll try
Besides, if I really am Satan, the last thing I want is for you or
Mom or both of you to get hurt because of me. Just because I’m evil
incarnate doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart.
. . . I guess that’s all. Please tell Mom not to worry.
Haldir at first was too hurt and confused to sort out the details Krystine had left him with. It was several minutes before he realized that she meant to never return home, simply to avoid any further confrontation with him.
A choked sob escaped him and he reflexively crushed the letter in his hand. [Krystine . . .]
Rage abruptly overcame him and he rose, attacking the door beside him with a flurry of punches. When that did nothing, he grabbed one of Krystine’s numerous stuffed animals–this one a fat rainbow-colored dragon–from its pile and made to rip it viciously in half.
But before he could, Marie appeared. She ran to him and quickly grabbed his wrists. “Haldir, what’s going on?! What are you doing?!”
He stopped and stared at her, his vision clouded by tears. “She . . . She’s gone . . . She’s gone . . .”
And though Marie must have been experiencing her own pain, she embraced him and knelt on the floor when he collapsed, cradling him and stroking the side of his head comfortingly while he wept against her bare shoulder and squeezed the dragon stuffie as though it was his only link to life.
And perhaps at that moment, maybe it was.
He sat in front of the bake shop, expecting her. His patience was eternal, but he would not have to wait much longer. She was approaching him already, though she must not have noticed or she would never have come so near to him. Not if she had half a brain.
Five minutes later, someone stopped before him. He could sense the nervous waves radiating from them and looked up, expecting a lost tourist or someone who had come to ask him if he was all right (he had been sitting there since morning and had gotten that question many times).
It was her.
He was shocked. Why had she come directly to him? It was veritable suicide! “. . . Omega?”
She smirked cruelly. “Surprised you, didn’t I? Scaring me in my dreams is not the best way to impress me. Alpha,” she added as an afterthought. “Until you prove otherwise, you’re all bark and no bite to me.”
He smiled and rose. “Then how do you wish me to prove it?”
“I’m too busy to deal with you now. I’m looking for myself.”
“Oh really? Then allow me the honor of explaining it to you.”
She eyed him distrustfully–she was not as bold and sure as she wanted him to believe–then said, “. . . Okay.”
He could hardly believe his luck as he offered his arm. “We should probably find someplace much more quiet to talk about this. Come with me?”
She looked at him, then took his arm in hers. He led her from the town and whistled sharply, searching the skies. A moment later, the white dragon alighted on the earth near them.
“Now will you trust me or do you wish to summon Wraith?”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she snarled. “Just because I am agreeing to do this hardly means that I trust you.”
He held up his hands. “Peace, my dear. It was an innocent question.”
“As innocent as a murderer’s killing hand, yes.”
Wraith separated herself from the shadows of the trees, startling him so much that she noticed and laughed.
“Frightened of a shadow, are you? Then you won’t be much of a challenge.”
“Don’t bet on it,” he snapped, leaping to his white dragon’s back. “Go.”
Her black dragon followed him into the sky immediately, remaining a fair distance behind. The white dragon grumbled and murmured beneath him and he smirked knowingly.
“Do not worry, my friend. You will have Wraith just as I will have Omega. Neither will escape us this time.”
The white dragon chuckled softly.
Behind them, Krystine frowned. “I think this was a mistake.”
Wraith murmured almost to herself.
“. . . I can so fix it! Have some faith in me, okay?! Just hold this position and don’t lose sight of them!”
After two hours of flight, the dragons landed in an expanse of open field, the tall green stalks of grass waving in the breeze. A hundred yards away sat a small farmhouse, the windchimes on the enclosed porch tinkling gently.
“Do you like it?” he asked, his white trenchcoat fluttering in the wind.
“Aesthetically? Yes. And it’s a great relief to my senses from all the smog of the city. But practically? No. I’m not stupid–if you were to attempt to kill me, no one would be the wiser.”
He smiled. “My dear Omega, at this point in time, I have no wish to kill you. You need not fear for your life.”
She eyed him. “Then what should I be fearing for?”
“Nothing, at the moment.” He offered his hand. “Shall we?”
She gave him a look that she hoped would make him think twice before he tried anything on her, then took his hand and let him lead her into the house. It was a quaint little place, very unmodern (though it did have water and electricity), and wonderfully open to the air outside, the screens keeping the bugs out. Everything was arranged spontaneously, as though the designer did not care for conventional methods, and it lent a comfortable, subtle disarray to the entire house.
He smiled again, but for the first time, it was gentle. “Isn’t it great?”
She nodded and smiled in return. “It’s beautiful.” And she meant it when she said it. It reminded her of home. “You must have had to pay dearly for this.”
He shook his head. “Probably not as much as you think.”
She let him lead her on a tour of the house, taking a genuine interest in everything he said. She had always wanted a nice little house like this . . .
She suddenly remembered why she had followed him. “Tell me who I am.”
He looked at her, then sighed. “. . . Very well. Sit down. Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you. I’m all right for now.”
They sat down across from each other and he asked, “So what is it you want to know? Where do you wish me to start?”
“At the beginning.”
“Surely not that far back. Omega, you have always been the more forgetful of the two of us; this is not the first time I have done this for you. However, I believe starting all the way at the beginning is far too long ago and extremely boring. I can tell you about our purpose here and such similar things, but you must be able to ask the correct questions.”
Krystine considered it. He was probably right–her attention span was painfully short. “Why are we here?”
“To fight each other. Darkness is spreading throughout the world. Nothing would have been done except that this evil is encroaching on Valinor. You at least know what that is, do you not? . . . Good. Well, this darkness appeared to be taking over extremely fast and it concerned the Valar, so they sent a soul to combat the evil in place of them, because the less they are seen the better.”
“So . . . which of us is that soul?”
He gave her a long, debatorial look, then said flatly, “You.”
She started, amazed. “. . . Me?!”
He nodded slowly.
“But . . . But I dress in black all the time! My eyes and hair are dark! I’m the end, the last, the yang, Omega! I’m fascinated by death and destruction and natural disasters! I love the nighttime, when all the creepy-crawlies come out to eat sleeping children from their beds! How could I be some champion soul of Good?!”
He smiled and shook his head, then laughed. “My dear Omega, you need not work yourself up so. The only reason we turned out so opposite was because my creator got a hold of us before our birth and tinkered with our personalities and such to refocus the attention of the Evil from me to you. My master knew Elves would be coming to guard you and tried to turn them against you. However, while the Valar let him manipulate us before our birth, they were too strong and did not allow him to redirect the Elves from you.
“But obviously, as they chased you away from your home, he didn’t need to. His interference has been plenty.”
She blinked. “. . . How did you know that?”
“They would never have let you out of their sight otherwise. And since you arrived on Wraith, whom they would have shot, you had certainly left them behind.” He humphed a laugh. “But that doesn’t matter now. I have you.”
She shuddered and drew back. “What . . . do you mean?”
He nodded at the window. “Ghoul is an emperor, Wraith is an empress. He is biding his time, for she will be ready to mate very soon. And then, Omega, you will truly be mine.”
Okay, yeah! So go me for giving you this sort of ending while I’m out having fun four states from home!! Aren’t I horrible? Actually, I hadn’t meant to leave you all hanging like this but it was either this or no Tale at all–I assumed you’d prefer the Tale. And LS made up a word! Who can find it?! Hint: it begins with the letter `d’ and is in the last ten paragraphs!