Arrow Branded – Chapter 12

We sat around a large round table. Everyone still in their party outfits, but with solemn expressions. Soleil still looked as though she were the royalty in the room. She glowed like the meaning of her name, sun, but she looked older. The grim look she held made the creases in her young face deepen. Shadows fell on her face and she looked aged.

“Tell me what you know,” Elyon said, and there was no trace of the fun and distractable person I met before.

“We know that some shapeshifters are looking for the Forebearer’s Blade. We were attacked by one of them back at home,” Xavier said calmly. Elyon nodded as if shapeshifters were not the weirdest thing he’d heard of. Well, it would make sense, considering he is an elven king living in some magical forest. Vesstan looked as though he had just had an important breakthrough.

“The person keeping me in Morrow Inn kept was talking about the Forebearer’s Blade,” he said. “She said she needed it to claim the throne. Which throne she was referring to is beyond me.”

“Soleil,” I said quietly. She looked at me. I felt the dread of my dream coming back, but I still couldn’t remember the dream itself.

“What is it?” she asked. I motioned for her to come closer. She did and I leaned close to her ear. I whispered to her that I was certain the woman in my dream said something about being royalty. Her face took on an ashen expression.

“I think it’s time Lake and I told you something. We’ve both been hiding things,” Soleil said. Her voice was barely above a whisper. Everyone looked at me, facial expressions ranging from shock to anger. “Don’t do that! This was all my idea,” Soleil clarified. It suddenly hit me that this situation looked exactly like every intense meeting in the books I would read. They all seemed to unrealistic then. All of that looked very overly dramatic and just impossible, but now it was my reality.

“Soleil, what do you know?” Rumour asked. He didn’t sound angry, but he didn’t sound perfectly calm either. He made eye contact with me and I looked away. He knew about my dream, but he had no idea about the note that Quinn had left.

“Tell them about your dream. All that you can remember,” Soleil ordered. I obliged. I told the group everything I remembered about my dream. I told them that I remembered that the woman said something about being royalty, but couldn’t remember what.

“Are you kidding?” Xavier exclaimed. He looked at me as if I had betrayed him. “You had this dream and didn’t tell anyone?”

“Hey, don’t get mad at Lake. It was my idea! Lake was only following my orders,” Soleil said. Xavier put his face in his hands. He rubbed his eyes and looked back up at his sister.

“Ok, what was the thing you were hiding?” he asked, sounding tired.

Soleil pulled out the paper map and Quinn’s note fell out onto the floor. Tethys picked it up and handed it to Alenia.

“Quinn gave me that in the map she gave us to get here,” Soleil explained. Alenia’s tanned skin drained of colour and Elyon snatched the note from her hands. His eyes scanned the words.

“I’m going to look for the Forbearer’s Blade. Why is it so important? It could destroy our entire community if it got into the wrong hands. Love you!” He read the small section aloud to the group. Everyone stared at Soleil in shock. She kept her eyes on the floor.

“Really? You didn’t tell me about this? Soleil, we’re twins, we are practically connected. More than that, we’re Arrow Branded twins, meaning we are actually connected!” Xavier exclaimed.

“Xavier, please. Let me explain–” Soleil began.

“No, I don’t want to hear it right now. Maybe later,” Xavier said, blinking away tears. He stood and walked out of the room. As he was leaving I saw him wipe his eyes with his sleeve. Soleil slumped in her chair.

“The woman who trapped me at that inn did mention defeating a group of people. She said that I was her key, but I don’t know what that means,” he said. Elyon looked uneasy.

“I do,” he said. Vesstan turned to him incredulously.

“Well, please, enlighten us,” Alenia said. She crossed her arms as if the group was about to hear something she already knew, but wasn’t aloud to say.

“Well, uh… Vesstan, when you’re mother was pregnant, we had a warlock come in to see if you would be born healthy. His name was Keene Rosewood. He put his hands on Elora’s stomach and immediately told us that you weren’t healthy and wouldn’t make it. I demanded he do something about it and he told me that there was a lot that magic can do, but what you had was definitely a curse. Keene said he wouldn’t be able to get rid of the curse, but he could… reverse it.” Elyon trailed off. He looked toward the door, probably wishing he could follow Xavier.

“What?” Vesstan demanded. “What is it, dad?” Elyon was visibly uncomfortable. Shrinking under his sons intense glare, he avoided his eyes.

“We agreed to his terms and you were born a healthy and handsome baby boy. You had big beautiful eyes and the cutest freckles. A perfect baby, we thought. After your birth, Keene came back to check your health and found something alarming. He felt a great power in you. The curse was more severe than he thought and just making it the opposite of what it was didn’t work in your favour. He was surprised the magic you possessed wasn’t tearing you apart. He sensed that your power, if unleashed, would be catastrophic.” Elyon looked down anxiously.

“So… I’m a ticking time bomb?” Vesstan asked, his voice scarily steady. “You never thought to tell me about my own life?”

“I didn’t want you to think your mother’s death was your fault,” Elyon said.

“I don’t think that! She died in childbirth, but I didn’t cause it. I just wish you hadn’t kep this from me,” Vesstan said. His tone became slightly colder. “The point of what you said is that I’m going to do something bad.”

“No, Vesstan, that’s not it,” Elyon said. He fidgeted nervously. “Keene said that you fit the description of the Forebearer’s Key. You can activate the ancient powers inside the Forebearer’s Blade and destroy the Arrow Branded.”

Vesstan just gawked at his father. He looked at Soleil, then at the door Xavier had left through. Tethys put a hand on her brother’s shoulder. Vesstan tensed under her touch.

“Can everyone leave?” he asked. Alenia began to protest.

“Just get out,” Vesstan snapped. Everyone in the room flinched at the sharpness of his voice. It was evident that he never yelled at anyone because he seemed uncertain of what he was supposed to do after that. The room emptied quickly but she stopped Elyon. He pulled him back. “I need to speak with you,” I heard him say.

“I have to find Xavier,” Soleil said moving toward the slightly ajar front door. I could tell she wouldn’t find him though. She didn’t really seem to be in paying attention to her surroundings. My guess is that she would have just wandered out in the dark for a while and gotten lost. Rumour saw this too and stopped her.

“Soleil, I’ll find him. You’re way too distracted. Plus, Night Demons have much better vision than humans. I’ll be able to see him easier,” he said taking her arm.

“You’re right, of course,’’ she said not looking at him. Soleil walked away towards her room. Rumour sighed.

“She gets like that sometimes. It’s like she just disconnects from the world and wanders around inside the walls of her own mind. It usually happens in times that she’s very stressed,” Rumour said to me, watching her walk down the hall. I nodded. I had a friend who would get like that sometimes.

“I’m coming with you to find Xavier,” I said. Rumour shook his head

“No, go to bed,” he said. I crossed my arms.

“You really think I’d let you wander out there by yourself?” I asked.

“Lake, I’m a demon,” Rumour insisted. I glared at him. “Fine, whatever. Just stay close to me, it’s not safe,” he said. I smiled and followed him out the door.

The garden was a lot more intimidating at night. Shadowed bushes loomed over us as we walked. Rumour called out to Xavier.

“What do you want?” his voice said. We found him sitting on the edge of a fountain, behind a large, rabbit-shaped hedge.

“Xavier, the meeting’s over. Please come back inside,” Rumour said.

“I don’t want to talk to anyone,” he replied.

“You don’t have to,” I interjected. Rumour gave me an uneasy look. “You just have to go come back inside.” Xavier considered it for a second.

“Fine,” he said coldly. Rumour took his hand and helped him up. Rumour led us back to the castle. I stumbled after him in the dark but, because of his superior demon vision, he walked along with ease.

“Do you need anything?” Tethys asked when we entered. Xavier didn’t even acknowledge her. He walked right past.

“Sorry. He’s not in a great mood right now,” Rumour said with an apologetic smile.

I continued to my assigned room. I passed all the rooms on the way. Xavier’s was dark. Soleil’s was dark. Rumour’s was almost completely dark, other than a desk light beside the bed.

“Goodnight,” I called as I entered my own room. I got a few replies, but Xavier’s voice was not among them.