Challenged By Shadow, The fourth in the Epic
Challenged By Shadow, The fourth in the Epic
Jul 1 2008, 12:22 PM
Conqueror of the Swarm!
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Chapter XIII: What once was and can be again
Rydia let out a soft but peaceful sigh. She had slept long and well tonight and as she woke up now, she felt even better than she had felt yesterday. It had been three days since she had been revived and like Barbaricia had promised, thanks to forcing herself to rest and drinking a lot of this ‘silver draught’ regularly, she had healed fast. The wounds didn’t hurt anymore and since yesterday even speaking pained her no longer. The green-haired girl of Mist looked to her left, so she could gaze into the flames of the fireplace. Valvallis himself had personally carved that fireplace out of the wall for her. She smiled softly as she remembered that. It had been on the second day of her recovery, she had awoken at night to find herself in darkness again. She had been frightened, and even Barbaricia was not with her for that moment. She immediately had started to panic, thinking she was dieing again. But then Valvallis had come, had calmed her and comforted her. He had asked her what could make her feel safer. And her answered had surprised him. She had asked for a fire. He had thought she would hate or fear the fire, since fire destroyed her home, but apparently it was quite the opposite. Though fire had destroyed her home, Rydia couldn’t hate it. She loved the warmth and the gentle light fire gave of. She always had loved it. She had even admitted to the Emperor, that when her village stood aflame and she was alone in the inferno, she hadn’t been afraid. Like something inside her had told her she didn’t need to fear the fire. And so Rydia had light and warmth in her small room. Barbaricia had even reported, though she wasn’t sure if it was true, that the fire seemed to aid Rydia’s recovery somehow. Maybe Rydia didn’t know it herself, but there were secrets lying asleep in her.
The girl felt a small disturbance in the air and the next moment Barbaricia materialized next to her bed. Rydia let her gaze slowly drift from the fire to the Fiend of Shadows next to her.
“Good morning Rydia.” Barbaricia greeted softly, gently laying her hand on Rydia’s forehead. Rydia returned Barbaricia’s smile.
“Morning, Barbaricia.” She glanced at the window. “Is it morning already? I can’t tell…”
Barbaricia’s smile disappeared slightly and she sighed as she gazed outside, to the eternal dark sky above the Jadana. “We Fiends have learned to tell day and night apart by the stance of the Moon, seeing as there hasn’t been a sun above these lands for more than ten years…”
The Fiend of Shadows decided to drop the subject with a shrug. “Regardless of that, how are you feeling today, Rydia? Did you sleep well?”
Rydia closed her eyes for a few seconds. Then she slowly nodded. “Yes… At least I think so. I had no nightmares this time, and my body doesn’t hurt anymore…”
“I am glad to hear that.” Barbaricia replied. She swiftly removed the covers of the bed that kept Rydia warm. “So I think it’s best if I take a look at your wounds now and treat them with new bandages too.” She failed to notice the small blush that crept up Rydia’s cheeks as she released Rydia’s arms from the bandages that kept her arms fixed to her body and then removed the bandages that kept her legs together. The Fiend of Shadows took Rydia’s right hand in her own and glanced at the girl questioningly. “Do you think you can sit up by yourself, Rydia?” It was a simple, gentle question and Rydia knew Barbaricia wouldn’t mind if she said no. Although Rydia felt healthy again, she wasn’t sure if her body felt strong enough to move on its own.
“I… I think I’ll need some support…” Rydia admitted shyly. Barbaricia squeezed her hand comfortingly.
“Don’t feel ashamed of that, seeing your condition it really is understandable.”
And so Barbaricia carefully helped Rydia to sit up on the side of her bed. Rydia bit her teeth as her body moved again for the first time in three days. She was pretty stiff and she had to admit moving hurt, though she tried not to show it. She placed her hands next to her to support her. Her head was spinning slightly.
“Are you okay?” Barbaricia inquired gently, supporting the girl with her hands gently. Rydia nodded slowly.
“I… I’m fine.” She replied, breathing a bit faster than usual.
“Okay.” Barbaricia carefully let go of Rydia, then began unwrapping the bandages around Rydia’s arms. She carefully touched the few wounds Rydia had there.
“That looks fine. You’ve healed nicely here.” Barbaricia commented, and then she began removing the bandages around Rydia’s legs. One of the girl’s legs had been broken but Rydia did not feel pain when Barbaricia slightly pressed on where the fracture had been.
“Your legs have healed nicely too.” Barbaricia smiled at Rydia, who blushed a bit. The green-haired girl looked at her arms and legs. She could still see red stripes or small stripes where she had been cut and stabbed, but her wounds seemed to have closed.
Barbaricia went on and removed the last bandages of Rydia, leaving the girl naked. She blushed even more, but the Fiend of Shadows still didn’t seem to notice, or simply paid no heed. Rydia’s main body had suffered the most, but even there, everything seemed to be healing fine.
“A few more days and you should feel fine enough to get out of bed. And after two weeks all traces of your wounds should be gone.” Barbaricia concluded. After a short moment of silence, the Fiend said: “But still, just to be safe, I’ll bandage your wounds again, but you won’t have to sleep tied up anymore, it’s safe for you to be able to move around in your bed now, but don’t try anything more than that, understand?”
Rydia nodded timidly. “I promise to continue resting a lot and refrain from moving too much.”
Barbaricia smiled slightly. “That’s what I wanted to hear.” And with that said, she began to cover Rydia in bandages again.
“What happened to my clothes?” The green-haired girl asked timidly while Barbaricia was busy.
“Ahrimania is repairing them, as by Lord Valvallis’ orders. I don’t really know what’s taking her so long, however… To be honest, I had kind of expected her to be done with them by now.” Came the Fiend’s reply. Barbaricia hadn’t even looked up from her work while answering.
Soon, Rydia was lying down on her bed again. Barbaricia pulled the blankets over her to keep her warm. Fire or not, the air in the Palace of Hades was still chilly.
“There, you’re good for some more days.” Barbaricia sighed, sounding pleased. She sank down on the edge of Rydia’s bed and gazed at the girl with an unusual tender look in her eyes.
“Thank you.” Rydia whispered to the Fiend. The girl from Mist was very grateful to have Barbaricia taking care of her. The Fiend was very kind to her, it reminded Rydia of her mother and of Asura, Queen of Mist.
“Think nothing of it.” Barbaricia replied softly. “I’m merely carrying out my Master’s orders.”
“So you take care of me only for Lord Valvallis, then?”
“Of course not.” The Fiend of Shadows replied with a smile. “Even if Master Valvallis hadn’t ordered me to do this, I still would have done it. Even if he would have ordered me not to heal you, I would still have healed you.”
There was a long silence, until Rydia finally muttered: “I don’t understand how a person as kind as you can be the Fiend of Shadows… Or how Lord Valvallis, for that matter, can be the Emperor of Hades.”
Barbaricia bowed her head and waited a long time before replying. She had to think of her answer. “When I became Barbaricia…” She finally said slowly. “I wasn’t the same person that takes care of you now. I was bitter, full of hatred for the injustice that had been done to me, full of desire to get revenge for all those years I spend in nothingness, my soul lost and none coming to my aid…” Barbaricia smiled sadly and bowed her head. “That’s how Barbaricia came into being… And I never truly doubted my ways, until I saw the man I loved again and my granddaughter… That reminded me of how I once was…” She let her gaze drift to Rydia and gave the girl a warm and grateful look. “But taking care of you Rydia… Spending time with you, that reminds me of what I once was but also… what I can be again. And I am sure that is how Master Valvallis feels too.”
Rydia pondered over this for a while, then looked up to Barbaricia again. “Who are you really, Barbaricia? And who is Lord Valvallis?”
The Fiend of Shadows took Rydia’s hand in her own and held it like that. “Master Valvallis has always been Valvallis, and he will always be…” She told Rydia slowly. “It is not the same as with me, or the other Fiends. That is also why we are Fiends, but he the Emperor.” Again she paused slightly, thinking of her answer. “We Fiends died, yet lived on because our souls could not pass on to the afterlife, Heaven of Hades. We became bitter and angry because of that, started to hate those who should have guided our souls to the world beyond and eventually started to hate the living… But we reminded us, somewhere deep inside ourselves… Master Valvallis, he’s different…”
“How?” Rydia asked carefully, looking at the Fiend confused.
“I am not sure.” Barbaricia admitted. “He never really told us explicitly. But it became clear to me, as the years passed while I was in his service, that Master Valvallis isn’t just… a new name for the same soul, a new name for a soul who just became angrier, more spiteful and bitter…” She frowned and sighed. “It’s like… Master Valvallis is a different soul. The most violent, hateful and dangerous aspect of the original soul, of…” She hesitated to say the name. She hadn’t said it for years. “Elpizo… Like Elpizo’s soul was split in two, one part eventually developing into a fully independent, whole soul that is Master Valvallis… And the other part… I don’t know. Lost? Forgotten? Passed on to the next world?”
After another sigh, Barbaricia looked at Rydia again. “But to answer your question: who is Master Valvallis? He is Valvallis. Always was and always will be. Unlike me… I’m Barbaricia, and in a former life, I was Elniya.”
Rydia smiled, but didn’t say anything. She actually felt tired. The little moving she had done and the sitting up while having her wounds checked had exhausted her more than she had believed possible. Barbaricia saw it and stood up.
“I’ll leave you alone to rest some more. But I’ll be there when you need me. Just call me. I’ll inform Master Valvallis of my absence and your condition, and then I’ll check up on Ahrimania and your clothes.”
Rydia merely nodded. The Fiend of Shadows didn’t seem to mind. She let go of Rydia’s hand and gave her one last gentle smile. “Rest well, my dear Rydia.” Then she left, before Rydia could respond to being called ‘my dear’ by Barbaricia.
After she closed the doors of Rydia’s chamber behind her, Barbaricia locked them with her power so none could get in and disturb the girl without the Fiend immediately noticing. As she walked towards the throne room to inform her Emperor of Rydia’s condition, Barbaricia couldn’t help but think about her conversation with Rydia. How she had told Rydia that Rydia’s presence made her feel like Elniya again.
The Fiend chuckled softly. Yes, she was changing. Everything was changing. But she would remain Barbaricia just a little longer, for there was still one thing she had to do as the Fiend of Shadows.
Review here please.
My apologies for the long delay, but as I promised, this epic will get finished. I have also decided that this will be the last epic in the Elpizo saga. Originally there was a fifth entry planned, but seeing as my readers have declined to long-time readers Tamu and Selena, I've decided to scrap the fifth epic and move its ending to the one of CbS. To be honest, it will all work much better that way. So don't think the ending will not be satisfying, Challenged by Shadow will be a perfect ending for my saga, which has been running for quite some years now. I'll be happy (and a bit sad) when I finally can type the words 'The End' for Challenged by Shadow, but also for The Elpizo Saga.
This post has been edited by -Sephiroth-: Aug 14 2008, 09:44 AM
"Somewhere Out In Space, there is a Power Plant, circling around a planet with No World Order. Its people only wish to Sigh No More, and are Heading For Tomorrow, to a Majestic realm called the Land Of The Free. If it is Insanity And Genius to undertake this trip, no one can say. But let us pray To The Metal for their success, regardless."
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 20th May 2013 - 10:22 AM|