I.C. had been away tending to some unfinished business. She had been gone for months at a time, with no connection to any source. The moment she stepped over the threshold of the palace gates, she was bombarded with some..surprising information. She only had captured bits and fragments of gossip on her
Briar had a baby..
Mars had cheated on her for over a year
Briar had given up her soul to Papa Ge..which had taken away her sense of strength.
She couldn’t walk anymore.
Upon hearing the news, I.C. had rushed to the guards’ dorm and banged on the door.
“Hello, is anyone there?”
“Who is it?” Came a wary voice from the other side.
“It’s I.C.” They were the only words that popped into her mind.
“I.C.?” The doorknob clicked, and the door opened, revealing a rather tired looking Aussie, with a book of puzzles in the crook of her arm. Her dark hair stuck up in odd places, and her navy blue guards uniform was rumpled and wrinkled.
“Aussie..” I.C. felt a tiny smile form on her lips. It had been too long since she had seen her friends.
“Wait, is that I.C.?” Audrey raced to the door, a wide grin plastered across her face. Her eyes shone with excitement. Her uniform was wrinkled and stained, just as Aussie’s was.
“Oh. I.C., you’re not dead.” Rain Anne came from behind the trio, having come through a portal leading to the shadow realm.
“I’m not dead, obviously. But..where have you been this whole time?” I.C. raised an eyebrow.
Rain Anne gave her a look.
“Ask the writer. She’s the one who’s been forgetting to put us friends in. Tell her to stop looking at memes on the web when she should be writing.”
I.C. glared at no one in particular.
“I’ll make sure to give her a piece of my mind.”
She regained her composure and turned back to her friends.
“So..uh, where’s Glytch?”
“He’s probably hanging out with this dragon cub he found.. he called it Christie..” Audrey rolled her eyes playfully.
A sharp click came from down the hall, along with some swears.
“Shit...God, this hurts..” Came a female’s tired voice.
Briar came hobbling down the hallway, her armpits were fitted with silver crutches. She was dressed in her street clothes from so long ago. Her hair was still glossy and shiny, but her face showed something completely different.
Her face was pale, bags..were deeply sunken under each of her now lackluster hazel eyes. Her eyes sparked back up once she caught a glimpse of I.C.
I.C. felt tears well in her eyes as she ran to hug her sister.
“I heard about what happened. I’m so sorry.” She whispered in her ear.
Briar’s voice became meek.
“C-can we talk about that somewhere else, in private?”
“If you want,” I.C. took Briar’s hand and gently pulled her to the courtyard doors. Her family was one of the main reasons she had come back, and she wanted to spend whatever time she could with them, first.
Once the sisters were outdoors, the sweet air filling their nostrils, I.C. made no hesitation in pulling her sister to a stone bench, and settling her down.
Briar’s lip quivered for a moment, but she regained her composure. She broke into a tiny grin.
“You’re an aunt.”
I.C. nodded, but was uneasy as the words sounded almost foreign as they entered her subconscious.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for..you know.”
“I understand.” Briar’s smile flickered for a second.
There was a prolonged silence between the pair.
“Uhm..so..are..you and Mars..”
“Mars and I..aren’t speaking. He’s at his family’s estate now. He's preparing to go back into the service.” Her tone was sharp and dangerous, but there was also a tone of immense tenderness and pain. It was a place deep in her that wasn’t to be ventured in quite yet, I.C. concluded.
“But..doesn't he deserve a chance to really meet his son?” I.C. glanced down at the roses.
“That’s for him to decide..”
The conversation made it hard for anyone to believe that they were only teenagers, discussing such heavy topics.
“If he wants to see Riyane before he goes off, that is his decision, and his decision only.” Briar snapped, her arms crossed over one another.
“But..we never had a father. Don’t you want to give your son that chance to have what we never got?” I.C. retorted, though she was pushing her luck in her questioning, she knew she was treading on eggshells.
“Look, I don’t know, I.C. I just..need a little bit of time to figure things out. Everything’s just been speeding at me. I don’t know how much more I can take until..” Briar’s voice wavered for a minute, and she cut herself off before she transitioned into a sobbing mess.
I.C. suddenly felt rage boil over. Her sister was weaker than the ferns that blew in the wind. What had happened to the street rat that she had at one point despised? What happened to her tough exterior?
“You’re such a pushover, you know?” The words shot from her lips and pierced Briar as if she were an unsuspecting woodland creature.
“What?” Briar looked up, her eyes wide and full of despair.
“You’re nothing like you were. What happened to your New Yorkian accent, your leather jacket, your motorbike? It’s like..you were taken over by..an alien or something!” I.C. clenched her firsts until they were white.
“Things have happened, I.C. Things that I can never shake from my memory, things that I would do anything to never have to relive. It feels as if I was only put on this earth to be tortured.”
I.C. grew quiet. She hadn’t meant to hurt her sister. Heck, that’s what she had been trying to do the whole time they had been together.
“Your life isn’t all that bad. It could be worse.”
Briar froze for a second.
“Y-you think I want to live a life like this?”
“Bee, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“All I’ve been doing here..is being toyed with. No one ever takes me seriously. I’m just..the jester princess..” She hung her head, her shoulders slumped
“That isn’t true, Briar. You are my sister, and I love you.” I.C. put a hand to her shoulder.
“Look up, please.”
She didn’t move.
“I can’t control the curse.”
Briar looked up at her sister. Instead of being pierced by her hazel eyes. I.C. was pierced by one sea blue eye, and one fiery red eye.
“Get away. Please. You’re not safe here.” Briar’s tone morphed into a dangerously low whisper.
“Briar, let me help you. We can do this together.” I.C. reached for her twin’s hand. But was shoved away.
I.C. backed away slowly, but painfully. What was happening?
The air around the two became thick and heavy.
Briar raised her hands gracefully fluttering them lightly in the air. Her brow was created in concentration.
Then..her voice..sweet and buttery.
“Asaka..build me a fire..”
A cobra of flickering orange light, encircled Briar. She showed no fear, just pure calm.
“Agwe..the ocean is what I desire..”
A slick, thin, ribbon of aqua appeared, entwining itself in the circlet of flame.
“Briar..” I.C. looked at her sister in wonder
Briar’s relaxed expression suddenly turned to fear. Her brilliantly colored irises suddenly faded to a stormy gray. Her hands fell to her sides and hung there. She gazed right into her sister’s soul. There was no emotion.
Only the cold dead glare.
Her mouth opened.
“Can’t you see the God’s design? I made promises in the darkness..promises in my sleep. Promises..the Gods demand I keep. Those promises were broken..I’m forever theirs..” The circlet of flame and ribbon of water faded away as Briar fainted, her body pitched backwards into the soft earth. She fell with a soft thump.
“Briar!” I.C. ran to meet her unconscious sister, crutches in her grasp. She was still unable to shake what had just happened. She couldn’t even find the words to describe it. She kneeled by Briar and slowly positioned her head so it was resting in her lap.
“Wake up, Bee, please..” I.C. stroked Briar’s chocolate colored locks. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
“Lay..m-me..down..in a bed of roses..” Came Briar’s weak voice. Her eyes didn’t open. Her expression was pained.
W H E R E are Glytch and Audrey?! They’ve been gone for a pretty long time, and I’m starting to get a little concerned about those two. They haven’t been on WtW in a month, and that goes for both of them..