Genie’s Sixth Wish
Alaenia and Diss are on the quest to find Forc and save him (if possible). Forc has already left the country behind. As fast as they move on horseback, they can’t catch up. That’s going to mean a few tactics need to change. That means staying at the final town before the border for a little bit longer than Alaenia is open to. Although it would be nice to have a proper bath and clean comfortable bed.
When I get out of bed, I’m refreshed. I slept well. Even with all the chaos around me, I was able to find comfort in this suite. Fully dressed and wearing different clothes for once, I knock on Diss’s door. I cannot leave my room to get out of the place without going through his. Which means I have to annoy him to get breakfast. I’m hungry.
I look over the room I made. They will require us to wish it away before we leave. I sigh as the door opens.
“Good morning.” Diss is wearing little. Just a basic plain shirt and pants. These are his underclothes. By the look of it, he’s been shaving. “I’m taking a little extra time this morning. I would suggest waiting for a meal, though. The rest of the floor just went down.”
“Jolt Eon’s group.” I move into Diss’s room anyway. I leave my bedroom door open. The bathroom door is unlocked, but closed.
“Yes.” Diss goes back to the mirror. I can watch as he removes any beard possibilities.
“I haven’t seen you shave nor have a five o’clock shadow.”
“Magic. I didn’t collect that spell for today. Should tell you something if my normal cleanliness spells have been denied.” He taps the basin. He is using a straight razor. Effiecently. “I can fill a bathtub for you though. Not heat it. Not make it soapy. Just fill it with water. Level one.” He has skill. His actions let me stare at him. He doesn’t seem to mind at all that I’m here while he shaves in his underclothes.
“How often do you forgo?”
“If I can shave by hand, I prefer it actually. Calming ritual.” He rubs his chin looking over his face. “Often times I’ll shave by hand and then use the spell to make sure it’s perfect. Today I can’t.”
I look away from him as he steps from the mirror.
“You look fabulous by the by.” He smirks passing by me. “Did you wish to call for food or head down? Things should be a bit settled by now.”
Or even head out. That’s an option. “How many maps are you making?” He has a lot of spell slots.
“Six. One for us. One for home. And four sold at a discount to the cartographer.”
I blink thinking it over. “The wish…”
“Told me the best route. I can make six without killing a lot of my more important spells. I was tempted to do five so I could have all of my normal spells, but…” He shrugs. “I like shaving. I don’t need to heat my own bath. That’s just an extra cost here. I don’t need a higher level camping site, just two for an emergency.” He scans me. “Hopefully I can sleep in town again, but that won’t match what you’re used to.”
“Oh.” I review him. He ranked down and elimited a bunch of spells he’s not worried about not having because of placement. “So we’re staying in town today.”
“I want to have a few conversations with a few people.” He rubs the back of his head. “Tomorrow as long as things go well, I’ll send the horses back to their home and we can head out. If something goes wrong, that has to be handled first.” He reaches out to take my hand. I scan it. “I’ll have the cost tally today. I wish you can handle and protect yourself completely even if I cannot help.”
It’s long term. Until his tally goes down to zero. It’s an open wish for me to manipulate however I want. “You’ve really studied how to travel with genies.”
“I have. Any chance I had to study I did.” He pulls clothes seemingly out of no where. Normal average… “This won’t work. A floor of nobles means I need to look the demon or the noble.” He grunts and switches outfits for something different. The puffs and ribbons are weird. I hold in a chuckle as he tests how it would look. He glares at me as I hold in laughter. “Buy yourself a new outfit or something. Take the horses out on a run. They’ll like that. They’ll be going back home and probably never seeing us again.”
I frown. “I’ll miss Isabella.”
Diss double checks his outfit and sighs. “I should get a new one. Did I grow or something?” He stretches. It does look a little off. “Ugh. The guys said you don’t grow after twenty.”
“Shouldn’t there be some growth until twenty five?” I ask.
He huffs. “Then I should be about done. I’m sick of having to buy new clothes every year. I’m wearing my leathers. I’d feel safer anyway.”
I watch as he switches his clothes. He hasn’t said anything. I’ve seen more of his skin than of Forc’s. It’s not that I don’t want to see Forc, but I’m not going to deny watching this either. I can’t seem to stop. Diss is goregous.
“That should work.” He looks the Demon now. He scans me. “No jacket?”
I shake my head moving to his door. “Let’s go.”
“Jacket. I don’t have a hide spell for your necklace.”
I cover it looking to him. “You think I should be worried?”
“I didn’t make that wish before did I?” Diss smirks motioning to my room. “Your jacket, please. It offers a partial cover.”
I nod. It’s not in my room though. I pull it from my bag and put it on. I twist a little. The jacket is more comfortable with pants. I pout. “Should I change everything?”
“It matches well enough.” Diss walks out of the room.
I follow annoyed. “I need a new jacket. One that matches this.”
“You finally left an area that’s beautiful year round. Did you even get rain?”
“It was wished to only fall at night.” I frown. “I don’t know how long before the wish will end. We were afraid it would end at Grandfather’s death. It didn’t.”
Diss stops us on the steps to just stare at me. “You mean, there are active wishes that your grandfather made? That are still active?”
I nod. “The person who made the wish is still alive. We now assume the wish ends with them.”
“Why was the wish made?”
“For farming.” I shrug.
Diss exhales walking forward again. “It may not end until farming ends or the wish dies out.”
I nod. It’s an unknown. My grandfather offers the most allowance with it. It was important for the town. No farms, no food. “I would like to go shopping for something pretty.”
“I need to spend the morning working on the maps. We can go out together in the afternoon. You’ll be on your own this morning.” Diss scans the room. It’s pretty much filled, but they’re eating already. If we find a table, the kitchen staff should be capable of handling us.
We manage to find a small table with two chairs for our use. Diss manages to get attention for us too. Whatever meals they feel like making leaves the wait staff much calmer with our table. The nobles around us probably were difficult. There are stories of them being difficult. It did end up coloring Grandfather’s answer to their wish.
“One day…” I sigh looking over the room. “I’ll be known by everyone.”
“Same.” Diss doesn’t seem as concerned. He scans the room. “I wouldn’t be shocked if they already know my name. You’re not known outside your town.”
I scan the room. No one is paying any attention to us. But he may have a point. The baron came to see my face. He asked about me and questioned my parents about proper ages for work and what not. He said he’ll call again when I was older. It was mostly just a meeting face to face.
Even if he called for me, I don’t have to go. It would be in my right as genie to say no. There are laws to protect me. But I know why Grandfather made that town and offer the safety net. There is a reason we’re told to always have a partner. We’re taught the tricks to survive. I’m going to be wanted. I reach out taking Diss’s hand. He’s confused by it. “Thank you.”
Diss smirks. “I’ll be paying for everything by the way. Anything I do for you. We’ll create a tally.” He nods shifting so he can focus on the new meal we have. It should help. “I wouldn’t suggest wandering on your own this morning. We can go together once I’m finished. I may not have my higher level spells, but I have enough to protect you.”
I touch my chest knowing that spell is there. The same spell my grandmother offered my grandfather. Every meal she made. Every task about their house. Every time she entertained a wisher counted toward the tally. And the payment wasn’t asbolute normally. “You know far too much about genies.”
Diss grins. Food first it seems. As we finish, we return upstairs. I check over my room and the bathroom before sitting on Diss’s bed. He has the chair before the desk. His spells are out. The items he needs are available. They are top level parchment. More cloth than paper. I watch him work.
After a while, I pull out a book. Something to do. I curl up in Diss’s bed and read. It passes time. He’s right in the level of concern wandering the town on my own. We can go out when he’s finished.
“You are a distraction.” Diss spins in the chair to stare at me.
I’m stretched out while reading. “Hm? How?”
“By just being you.” Diss holds up a parchment. A map shows off where we are. “It’s set to show the general area, but changes to magic demands or our movement.”
“That sounds perfect.” I sit up. The map has a pretty large area covered, but it’s clear enough the town’s make up too. “How does it set?”
“The map makes sure at least three civilazition points are listed.” Diss points out the three. We know about them. We’re not far enough into the other country to see any. “It’s first level spells can change it too.”
“Ones you don’t have active.” I point out. He nods. I flip the map over to see the spells listed. “Oh…”
“It’s going back home. They can erase it or block it in some way. But I want it clear how to use the map.”
“It’s not just for Demons, though.”
“No. But who else travels like we do?” He shakes his head tapping the spells. “This makes sense. I have to make another. You okay?”
“Perfect. I can just relax and read.”
“Strange that you’re calm enough for it. You weren’t yesterday.”
I touch my chest feeling the wishes there. “This must be the best route because I’m not being pressured.”
“The map is valuable. The cartographer will make profit from it. I should also write down the proper spells for it. Do you have a book available?”
I shake my head. “I know who I can order from, but generally it’s not something I keep in stock.”
“Because you don’t get those orders often.”
“Or they can wait a week for the book to come in.” I nod again. It may be about time I keep all the different options in stock. “Do you wish to wish for it?”
“Yeah. I’ll do a payment though. Those books are expensive. And if I kiss you right now I may not hold back. Magic high makes you even more delicious looking.”
I stare at him. He’s back to work, but those words… Delicious? Is he planning to eat me? I shiver worried for once over his comments. I hope off the bed and move to the bathroom. “I think I’ll do my make up since I have time.”
“If you need help with something let me know.” Diss doesn’t follow or deny me. Why would he? I step into the bathroom so I can have distance from him. And a full length mirror. The ones in the rooms are only half the size.
It’s been a long while since I spent time making myself look pretty. After Forc left me on the date, Mom’s wish wore off. I couldn’t figure out what to look like anyway. She just wished for pretty before offering a kiss on the cheek filled with love and hope.
Then Forc didn’t walk me home. I frown at myself in the mirror. I randomly get dressed up. I randomly do my hair special. I randomly put on make up. “And Forc won’t see it.” Even if we didn’t have anything planned, I would go visit him to show off my new design. He would make comments and end with, ‘I love it!’ Then he would kiss my cheek so I could complain about him ruining my look.
“That’s…” Diss looks at me sitting before the floor length mirror crying. He looks into the room before stepping to me. “You came in here like fifteen minutes ago. What happened?” He kneels before me holding out a hand.
I crawl over to him and wrap him up in a hug. “Forc’s missing.”
“I know.” Diss rubs my back holding me as I cry. “He’s important to you. I’m giving you too much time to just think about it. I’m sorry.”
“The… Map-ap’s important-tant.” I manage to say.
“Yes it is. But calming your wish’s pressure doesn’t calm your heart’s pressure. We’ll get him. We’ll take him back home. Everything will move forward like it should.” He holds me as I cry. “I’ll protect you. Forc is safe.” He holds up his hand. I look over at it. “Still no damage. I can feel the spell there, but nothing. Not even handcuffs.”
“He’s not stable yet, though.” I sniffle rubbing my nose. “He’s moving. He’s getting away.”
“Not forever.” Diss hugs me tightly. His strength calms me. “In a few months, you’ll have a beautiful spring wedding.”
I close my eyes thinking of the plans. Our wedding. Forc can’t miss it. “If we’re still chasing him?”
Diss pulls me to stand so he dust me off. “If we follow these guys for two weeks, I’m calling in support. I have a lot of friends I can rely on.”
I take a long breath. One big deep breath. “Okay.”
Diss offers me a big smile. “I wish you were as pretty as you want to be.” He leans forward and kisses my cheek. It offer me allowance. “I love the bright you. I love the determined you. It’s not as if I dislike the crying you, but we don’t have that level of time right now. Maps are done. And I ordered a meal to be brought up.” He thumbs back to the room.
I touch my cheek and glance at the mirror. It’s a basic make up spell. I look as I have been. No puffy eyes. No messed up make up. I should be a mess right now. I settle everything and take a step to the door. “Alright. A meal and then shopping.”
“While we’re waiting for our meal, we can get that wish going.”
“Easy peasy stuff.” I nod moving into his bedroom.
It’s a double wish. But it can be done together. He needs the wish book. It’s expensive in general. Made even more expensive because it needs to be wished here. If he tried paying in another way, the cost would come out of my bank account. Someone has to pay for the book to be created.
The rest can lean on my magic. This book will be filled with the exact spells needed to create the map. Diss has no trouble pulling the money for it either. I would think I’m draining his bank account, but he had to have serious saving before taking a year long leave of absence. That was his plan. He didn’t buy a house. He had the funds set aside to do so.
“I can use the map to teleport somewhere safely.” He comments as we set up the new wish. It is just as time consuming as the first wish I made with him. And he’s used to it. “So I’ll have two teleport spells ready for our use tomorrow. There are limits to it, such as sight and safety. But it can get us out of a tight spot.”
I nod watching him work. He does all the writing. Which is preferred. I can still manipulate the wish, but it’s better the wisher screw themselves over.
“That should do it.” Diss hands me the parchment. It will go into the book he’s buying.
I watch as he counts out the money. Most of it will end up in my bank account. It’ll be safe at home. Espcieally with Diss wanting to pay for everything. It’s normal for a genie to not buy on an adventure. And Diss already knows why. I can use some of my own magic to protect me. Whatever I want that to mean. “We’ll need to figure out the tally before leaving.”
“I’ll do that while we eat.” Diss places the correct amount on the parchment. You can overpay, you can’t underpay. The spell won’t work. “Ready.”
I nod. With both signatures on the contract, my magic slips through me and out. A book sits between us next to the contract. I assume it’s filled with the spells as desired.
Sitting on the contract is the money required to pay. My money. It’s sitting on the contract.
“Shit.” Diss is the first to speak. “I wish as long as we are still friends and allies, all your funds go where you wish for them to be.”
I’m crying as Diss moves forward and offers that brief light kiss lips to lips. It’s the same wish I made with Forc. Friends and allies. We’re not friends? We’re not allies? The money disappears with Diss’s wish. Where I wish it to be. He’s giving me all allowance.
Diss frowns pulling me in for a hug. “I’m sorry. I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ll never stop being your friend and ally. I may lie to someone so they don’t think I know you, but I’ll always be your ally. You will always have my power backing you. Promise.”
It has the sobs worse. All those little moments between when we made the wish and now. All those times I started questioning Forc. Where our friends and family starting questioning. He promised to always be my friend and ally. “I wish to be with him right now. I wish I could ask him.”
“I’m not making that wish. You’re not thinking straight.”
I sniffle calming down as the someone knocks on the door. I turn away from it as Diss handles the food. I rub my face as Diss sets our meal up on the desk. I’m not in the mood to eat. “Is Forc hungry?”
“I cannot say if he’s eating well or not, but it’s not turning into injury. That should transfer given your skill level.” Diss places a plate before me. “Eat.”
I poke at the plate. I’m not really interested in it. “How…? Why?” I turn to Diss. He shoves food in my face. I take it and put it back on my plate. “I need…”
“Some time to absorb the fact things aren’t as we thought. I don’t know what’s going on. Forc could have chosen this route for your safety as well as his. If you were connected to him even as just a friend…” Diss puts the food back to my mouth. “You can yell at him all you want for breaking the wish. There is probably a bigger reason. You don’t know. We can’t know.”
“I can.” I cry. “I should know. I can find out anything if only wished.”
“What’s my parents full name?” Diss sits back.
My mouth opens and closes. I don’t know their full names. I need more time.
“Where exactly is Forc Lifte?” Diss crosses his arms watching me.
I turn aside. That information is changing too much for it to have an answer. Once he settles…
“There is so much we can’t know. Or things we would need time to get the information on.” Diss motions to the maps on the desk. “I can tell you where he is with a very simple spell. I can do that actually. I have two first levels I haven’t used yet. What me to?”
“If this was you being rational or the spell acting up, I would be jumping. But you said so yourself earlier, the best option right now is to wait. We need to get this map going. We need to resupply for the travel through the mountains. I have to send the horses back. There is so much we should do today.”
“Like check if your climbing gear fits me.” I sigh and pull my knees to my chest.
“Yeah. Like that.” Diss pushes the plate closer to me. “I want you full so we can go shopping. Buy anything you want. Anything that can make you feel better or more at home for our trip.”
I look down at the plate. I’ve had no complaints with the food here. I take a bite chewing slowly.
“I’m sorry I cannot comfort you in the way you want, Alaenia.” Diss moves just enough so he’s within reach of me. He offers a hand, but I turn from it. “I will never be Forc. I’m not your genie best friend. Let me be your demon best friend.” He moves so I can see him. He wants to have my eye contact. “Is that allowed?”
I take another bite of food and just watch him. He hasn’t moved into my touch just my reach.
“Whatever you wish of me, Aleania, I am here.”
I chuckle thinking of it. Those were Forc’s words. I smile. “You aren’t a genie.”
Diss smiles back tapping my plate. “I want to be friends with one. Not just for my missing parents’ sake. Even if you tell me my wish isn’t possible anymore, I still want to be your friend. Allow me.”
I close my eyes thinking of his wish beating against me. “Would you let me drop your wish so I can focus on Forc’s more?”
“I’d rather you not drop it, but if required…” Diss sighs taking up my hand. I watch him without denying him. “If we are to separate because that’s the only answer to Forc’s search, we will. Surpassing a certain distance will kill my wish. I know that. But if it means life or death for your friend- and that’s what we have to think about when it comes to his wish- I will.” He puts my hand on his heart. “I’d put Forc’s life before my parents’ information. My family can wait. It’s not like they’re looking for me. Forc is already known as this important person.”
The tears are there. I know that. I’m not bawling though. I munch a little letting food enter me even if I’m not that interested in it. “We have an idea of who they are.”
“Yup. I can always restart the wish after the fact.” Diss waves it off as if it doesn’t matter. “Save it for when we have a few years with nothing important going on.” His smile calms even if the tears continue. “I don’t mind the tears as long as you eat too.”
I hold his hand and eat. Tears fall through much of the meal. We don’t leave when we finish eating. I have to stop crying first. Diss sits with me telling me about the map and the spells in the book. It’s more inane conversation. He seems able to talk about his magic forever. He wants to offer this allowance.
There’s no reason for us to rush. Until Diss gets five hours of sleep, we’re stuck waiting. And before then we shouold get several things readied. Tomorrow we’ll head out on the search for Forc. He comes first.
I rub my eyes and get up. A few stretches has a giggle surface. It’s a nervous giggle. “Do I look okay?”
Diss smiles and nods.
I exhale and glance in the mirror. I’m fine. Well enough to handle things. “I would like to meditation tonight in the bath again. See if I can gain anything for you.”
“It’s okay. We can put it off. Ignore it for now.”
“I can’t meditate on Forc.” I grit my teeth thinking of my friend.
“You wish to feel productive.” Diss offers me a hug. “Do as you wish then. I’ll expect you to sleep well tonight, though. No staying up forever just for the wish.”
“Should we leave before dawn?”
Diss reviews me. “I’ll let you answer that question later. I typically suggest leaving at a proper hour when you get the chance for real rest. We didn’t even leave the campsites until after the sun rose.”
I nod accepting it. I review myself in the mirror again. “Let’s go see the cartographer.”
“And see if there is a good dress shop. I would like you to get another jacket. Something warmer.”
I nod accepting his desires. A quick scan of the room gives me the push to leave. A few hours planning the coming days will help. Maybe a new outfit will make me feel better too. Something strong and beautiful. I need to pick up something as a reminder. Maybe I’ll buy something to give my parents. To remind them I still exist. I miss home. I miss my old life. I miss seeing Forc every day and laughing over stupid things.
I miss my best friend.
Our first stop is the cartographer. Diss ends up making money from the transaction. And he said he’ll sell a few more the next time he comes by. It means a few days staying in his favorite inn. The book seems the cartographer’s favorite item. They’ll sell it to a demon in town. They’ll get an employee who can do something special.
Then we go about the different shops. My goal is to find something special for my parents and myself. Diss is on a search for clothes.
“You need a proper outfit.” Diss comments as we pass through. “Next long stop will have me putting guards on it. Not sure what I’d want to add though.” He reviews items at seemingly random.
As we pass by a shop, something catches my eye. A small compact? I pick it up and look it over. A design covers the back. It’s pretty. No idea why it caught me.
“Pretty.” Diss offers to buy without a second thought. He wants to owe me. The tally isn’t small change.
“What’s it for?” I open the small container. It would easily fit in a pocket. Not that I need something to fit in a pocket. I use my bag connecting to my closet.
“Carrying small items around. I know some demons turn it into a make up carrier that never runs out.”
“Never runs out?” I stare at him.
“Well… It connects to a supply that never runs out. It would mean the same exact color and set up every time.” He shrugs. “Not lik you’d need that.”
I look at the item. We bought it. I don’t know why it caught my interest. I’m not normally the type for little containers. “It is pretty.” I flip it over and open it again.
“I didn’t take you for little trinkets.” Diss smirks.
“I wanted something for my parents. To say I’m safe enough to shop.” I’m not fleeing for my life unlike Forc. It has me sigh and hug the container. “This isn’t for them. I don’t know why I picked it up.”
“If there is a spell you want for me, let me know.”
I weigh the options but nothing tempts me. Not even as a forever make up. “We need to find a nice jacket.”
“I may scry home to see if anyone has your size. Nothing really jumps out for me here.”
“Options are limited.” And I’m not a typical size. “My clothes has been created just for me. I liked looking at the options they made to say capabilities, but they never really fit right.”
Diss nods. “The only reasons you find those garment shops with random selection is because Demons come through enough with ruined outfits.”
“And they use masculine clothes more often, so feminine stuff is limited.” I nod understanding.
“Sorry.” Diss clicks his tongue spotting another shop that may offer something. Wandering around leaves me with small trinkets for my parents and nothing for me.
With little to show for our travels we return to our rooms. Diss grunts checking over our items. Nothing moved. Our important stuff is with us. “Concerning.”
“What?” I scan. Nothing seems off. Everything is accounted for.
“Our rooms were searched.” He taps his belt. “Good thing we left nothing here.”
“Should we be concerned?”
“Like sleep in the same bed concerned?” Diss shakes his head. “I have a few spells left. Nothing like I normally do, but we should be fine.” He smiles at me. “And you have my wish to protect you. Nothing can go wrong.”
I nod. “So a few calls…”
“A bath and then bed. You can bathe first.” Diss motions to the bathroom. He will scry. I can’t. Well I could if he wished me too.
Still, I stay with him when he contacts my home. Forc’s parents look worried, but seem relieved we’re safe. Worried again when we explain we’re crossing the borders. They’ll let my parents know about the gifts. And I should keep an eye on things in my closet changing. They should have a spare jacket for me. Stayr doesn’t need three.
It helps. It helps to see them and talk as if normal. It helps to know my home is safe. It helps to know there is a place I can go home to. People I can lean on and rely on. They know how wishes work. If we were stationary for a time and my wish let it, it was the best bet.
I wish I could give them more information. I wish I had more information to give them. When the scry ends, I go into my room. I pull out my items knowing I don’t want to shower until I know what’s going on at home. I can send notes. I have. I can’t interact with those at home. We can chat in the mirror. That’s it. Notes or a mirror scry.
I miss more than just Forc.
But Forc is worth this quest. I don’t know how often I’d be willing to go on adventures for the sake of a wish. But Forc is defnitely worth it. I will walk the world if it means getting my friend back.
I close my eyes recalling the money sitting on the contract earlier.
Forc isn’t my friend and ally anymore. I can’t trust him. Not right now. Please say he had a real reason for breaking the wish we made each other. There are reasons.
I lift the small contianer with the interesting design on it. I open it.
Then I hear the door open.
But it’s not Diss. It’s not my door. I’m not longer in my room, although it is a bedroom. It’s far more elaborate than anything I’ve ever been in. Knowing there is royalty involved here helps. Because the person in the mirror isn’t me. Noel stares back at me looking at the door. “Come in!”
We watch as the helpful demon walks over with a deep bow. “Apologies for being late, My Lady.”
“Sit.” She pats the stool at my side. Our side. She places the item I just acquired on the desk. I copy. I hope it’s on the desk. I hope I’m not passed out on the floor. I should follow her path. It should cut off before I can injure myself. “Arasol… I…”
“Please.” The demon holds up her hand. “It doesn’t have to be his.”
I bite my lip looking at the container. “I… I used the spell. For pregnancy and then to see whose it is… My face being there wasn’t shocking.”
“Let me try it.” Arasol picks up the container. She looks at me with tired eyes. “I told you to wait.”
She whispers out the spell. I aim to memorize it. Or at least get enough of it to be able to tell Diss. I can’t use it. Or he can wish for his mother’s spell. That could work. She opens the container staring down at the two images. “Why does it work? Why are you pregnant? With his child.”
I don’t know the face. It’s not my country and homeland. I wouldn’t think it matches the one I am going to either. I think. My studies haven’t been political. Those pictures will be needed. Diss looks a lot like him too. “I… I did apologize to you. I knew we should have waited. But…” She pouts.
The servant shakes her head and places the container down. “And now what?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want it?” Arasol holds up her hands. “I am a bastard. The only reason I can walk these circles is because you wanted me to. But to anyone else I’m not your sister, I’m your slave.” She sighs covering her face. “And you copy.”
“To think he’ll marry you just because of child?” Arasol looks so lost. As if that’s impossible. Why? “He’s engaged. You’re engaged. This stupid fling.” She stands up and begins pacing.
“I wish to have his child. To raise it as Mother raised you.”
“As a servant of the household?” Arasol cries grasping Noel’s shoulder. “Please say no. Please request death for this unborn.”
“I…” Noel stares at the mirror tears forming. “I can’t. I cannot ask for that. I wish for his child. I wish for him. Perhaps this will give us…”
Arasol’s head drops to my shoulder. I reach up to pat her head. “Why did you fall in love with a prince? You could have almost anyone, but not him. You can’t.”
“We can run away.”
Arasol pulls up staring at me. “I’ll make plans. Perhaps the child will die before birth. Everything will just be considered null and void then. As if the fates told you their side of the story.”
“I would hope not.” I hug my stomach feeling sick over the words. “Please no. I would prefer anything besides their death.”
“Have you named it already?” Arasol hugs me hiding my head in her chest. “Noel, you can’t have his child. He cannot even know. This is… You can’t. A year from now, you both will be married and not to each other. Please think this over. I have the spell slot available. Within the next few weeks I can easily destory it.”
Noel nuzzles against this person’s chest. “I would hope to name them Amari.”
“Noel…” Arasol has tears now. She holds me tighter. “Please, don’t…”
I shake off the sight to realize I’m hugging someone too. I pull back to see Diss. I blink forcing distance. “Um… Sorry?”
“What…?” Diss rubs a hand over his head. “Okay…” He doesn’t say anything though.
I stare at him blankly. How can I explain anything? I instead I pull out a sheet of paper and write down the spell as I heard it. At least as well as I can remember it. “Here.”
Diss stares at the paper. Then he stares at me. “How can you be pregnant?”
I frown looking at the item. “Can you pick another target?”
“The owner of the locket.” He points at the container. “It would be connected to this. Again, I ask, how could you be pregnant? We didn’t do anything. As far as you explained, Forc couldn’t be the father either.” He scans me confused and concerned. “Do you understand how to become pregnant?”
“I know.” I slap his arm thinking through the vision. “It used to be your mom’s.” And that had to be the first time they knew about Diss. “The spell’s not for me.”
“Oh.” Diss stares at the spell and the container. “She used this to see who was the father.”
I nod. I can see his image. “If we got those pictures… I…”
“You saw him.”
I nod. “Same one. Prince. They called him that this time. And both are engaged. They’re supposed to be married to other people shortly after your birth happens.”
“Oh.” Diss sinks to the ground. “I’m…”
“Arasol is the one who took you to the orphanage.” I think of her desire to just kill the child. “She said she’s abort the child if only Noel asked. Noel wanted to name you Amari.”
Diss sucks in a breath. I can see the tears forming.
I exhale watching the scene play out. “Arasol and Noel are sisters. Noel may be their pay name, but Arasol shouldn’t be. Diss, your mother wanted you and couldn’t keep you. I don’t know if she’d feel the same way now, but you were wanted. Society may not have agreed with her then, but I see no reason now.”
“All signs are pointing to…” Diss closes his eyes. “Being wanted. They were forced to give me up. Are they alive? Could I see them? Did they end up together in the end? Or would I just be a reminder of a past failure?” Diss shakes it off flinging tears about him.
I sit next to him and offer him a hug. “We’ll figure it out.”
“You said a year and have already given me enough information to find them myself.” Diss gulps rubbing the tears away. “This isn’t the problem right now. We need to focus on Forc. He’s kidnapped.” Diss holds up his hands. “He’s not handcuffed or hungry or injured in any way. I haven’t even felt a bladder issue. This guy is either completely following every little requirement or…” Diss offers me a sad smile. With tears! “He jumped sides.”
We’re both crying. How could Forc…? I can’t imagine what had to happen for Forc to drop our friendship. Is it repairable? “I can’t believe my best friend left me.”
“According to the entire village, there was no struggle when he left. He walked calmly with three demons out of the village. He even made a passing joke with the guard. No one thought anything of it. Supposedly he’s done that before.” Diss watches me. “Did you know Forc had demon friends?”
“I…” Thinking it over… It’s not that I didn’t think he had demon friends. It was more I didn’t think he left with them randomly. I thought the demons were more his sister and brother’s friends than his. “He’s left before…?”
“For a few hours according to the guards that were questioned.” Diss hisses.
I look at the ground trying to weigh everything. “Did his parents know?”
“No. They were shocked by it. Your parents didn’t know either. Stayr seemed to have some idea, but it was more recent a situation and she promised she’d tell no one. He said it had to do with the wedding and proving himself.” Diss takes me hand to rub gently. “I’m sorry if you heard about it this way.”
I press a hand against my heart. It feels as if my entire world has been flipped upside down. I love Forc. But now all those questions are making sense. “It started about six months ago.” I whisper.
“Yeah… Oh…” Diss pulls me in for a tight hug. “Anything you can think of that would’ve started this?”
“No. Just one day he went from everything’s wonderful to dark and broody. He said it had nothing to do with me. And then… We started pulling apart.” I bite my lip leaning against Diss. “We were going to move into the house shortly after fixing it up. But he refused blaming the curse. I’ve been…”
“What do you think he was doing?”
“I have no idea.” I look at him. “I know one of the demons are Eyllisa. She asked me a few questions about Stayr and Forc. It was weird to have her asking questions about Forc. That was about three months ago, I guess. Then shortly after asking the questions, she left on a mission. I thought nothing of it.”
“What type of questions?”
“Exact age and birth dates. His swirl pattern, which really made no sense.” I shift uneasily. “I hadn’t seen it since before I earned my…” I grip my necklace. I look at Diss. “I haven’t seen Forc naked ever. And he hasn’t shown me his swirl since we were five.”
Diss holds me calmly. His tears have calmed. “Did you think the wedding was going to happen?”
I start to say something. The same retort I have been using for months now. Months where people asked me random questions. Worrying comments about Forc. As if our future wasn’t clear as day.
Now… They were trying to show concern because they were concerned. And I rose colored it. I tighten my jaw thinking it over. “I want to. I love Forc.”
“Does he love you?”
I nod. “Any time that was brought up, he was quick to say he did. And if he was around when they questioned our wedding, he always agreed again. As if the situation in his life wasn’t us. The cursed weighed heavy on him, but…”
“There was something else.” Diss nods getting up. I follow him. “Let me start the tub for you. I want to call my family.”
“You… You didn’t before?” I blink following him into the bathroom. He’ll fill the tub.
“No. I wanted to chat to Forc’s family without you there.”
“Because they want to protect me.”
Diss nods. I watch as he uses the magic. The tub fills so readily. “I will wash after you, so don’t ruin the water for me.” He tilts my chin up to look me in the eyes. “I wish I could help you, Aleania. But that is one wish that is impossible to make.” He kisses my cheek as if I could use it for payment.
But he’s right. There is no way to wish me better. It would only be a false emotion. He leaves me to the bathroom. I strip and bathe. I wish I could soak and relax, but my heart refuses. All I do is add salty water to the clean.
When I decide enough was enough, I get out of the tub. I rub myself dry and review myself in the mirror. I’m normal. There’s nothing different about me. Not on the outside.
I take my things back into my room. As much as my outer body shows no differences, I’m changing. This adventure is changing me. I hold up the bracer and hairpin. Forc’s matches are still at home. Because even if he left with a smile and wave, he wasn’t ready for it. He didn’t drop off the paper. He didn’t get his supplies. I put the pin and bracer into my closet. We don’t match anymore.
We’re not friends anymore.
And he didn’t even tell me.
How could someone break up without telling you?
“Forc…” I cry into my pillow. The soft comfort of the noble bedroom isn’t enough to relax me. My best friend left me. He wasn’t kidnapped in the normal sense. He left willingly.
He left me without saying anything. And I thought we’d get married in a few months. I’m the biggest fool I know.