|The Happenings I|
|Series||The Happenings by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Dramas with the Thief|
|Next||And So It Ends|
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KEY: *** flashback/memories***
CHAPTER ELEVEN: HEROES UNITEDEdit
The Smuggler's Caves lead out to Smuggler's Beach, and to my surprise, Hammer and Garth were there waiting for us.
'She was right. They’re here!' exclaimed Hammer. 'Good to see you again. Hope we didn’t miss too much.'
'No, not at all. We just had to fight a few of Lucien's men to get here.' I replied, jokingly.
'A few?' Garth said, clearly not catching on that I was joking. 'It sounded like a massacre. Are all the soldiers gone?'
'I don't know.' I admitted.
'I hope they've gone far away.' muttered Hammer. 'I don’t know how much more killing I can stand. Balverines and bandits behind every rock and tree, and every one I kill two more take its place.'
'Eh…all quite fascinating.' Reaver said, though he sounded quite bored. 'I’m…I’m touched. And I’m leaving.' he added serious as he began to walk away from us before he stopped and turned to face the cave. 'Oh yes. Three, two, one...'
Next minute there was an explosion just inside the cave's mouth and the entrance caved in.
'And any other lurking nasties in the tunnel now have a bit of a headache.' Reaver said casually, though he had a note of satisfaction in his voice. He then turned smugly to me. 'Which means I just saved us all. Aren’t I nice?'
'Probably about the only nice thing you have done.' Hammer muttered bitterly.
Somehow, I got the feeling that Theresa and Garth would be safe from her hammer as long as Reaver was around.
'Would you call me saving the beautiful Lionheart's life as something not nice?' Reaver asked with a raised eyebrow, before turning back to me, not waiting for an answer. 'In a few moments I’ll be sailing away to safety on my escape ship. So the way I see it, we’re even. Tutuloo.'
'I see a problem with that plan, Reaver.' I told him.
'And what's that?' Reaver asked with a small smirk.
'I think that Shards about to destroy your ship.' I told him calmly, pointing behind him.
Reaver turned around, and watched as this beloved ship was blown to pieces.
'Right...' Reaver said slowly. 'Plan B.'
'Oh, and what would your Plan B be?' I asked.
Reaver didn't get a chance to answer.
'Stop it you two.' Garth snapped at us. 'Right now, we've got to focus on destroying it.'
'Just never enough,' I heard Hammer mutter.
Reaver quickly took in the expressions on our faces.
'I’m beginning to assume that this happens to you on a regular basis,' he commented.
'Oh no. Having a giant shard attack us is new.' I answered as Lucien's men were appearing. 'But have Lucien's men come out of them, that's just getting old.'
Reaver chuckled as he began shooting every soldier he could, while Hammer sent them flying with her hammer, Garth electrocuted them, and I did all three. You have to admit, I never made it boring for my enemies. I always had a surprise for them.
'Cover me.' I heard Garth yell as he ran up a nearby hill to get closer to the shard. 'There must be away to expose its vulnerable spot. I know it has one.'
'And how are we to do that?' demanded Hammer as she fought off a vicious attack.
'Old kingdom artefacts responded to the will.' Garth explained. 'I just have to find the right one.' he added, before sending different types of will at it and muttering to himself. 'There must be a way…Nothing seems to work, unless…long sustained attacks. It is the only way to bring it down.'
'Then start electrocuting it!' I snarled as one of the Commandants sent a trail of spikes at me.
'You know, this would be much more sporting if you could make it show its dirty little secret again.' Reaver said, shooting a guard right between the eyes.
'Reaver, you're the last person who should ever use those words.' I told him as I killed my opponent.
Reaver was about to answer back when Hammer yelled out a warning to us.
'The shard is shooting, watch out!'
'And when it shoots, it is weak.' Garth exclaimed as we all dodged its fire. 'We must attack it now, while it's exposed.'
'Hammer, throw me at it next time it starts to shoot.' I said, moving closer to the shard.
'Are you insane?' Hammer demanded.
I stared at her for a moment, before raising my hand showing her the small distance between me pointer and thumb, and mouthed, "a little bit".
Reaver let out a small chuckle.
Nevertheless, Hammer did as I asked and threw me at the Shard when it started to shoot yet again, before getting out of the way of its fire.
I managed to land on top of the shard, and when it was exposed, I took my old hammer out of my bag and smashed in down on its vulnerable spot, before jumping of it as it started to malfunction, and fall back down to earth.
'We did it!' exclaimed Garth as he helped me to my feet.
'Now that’s teamwork!' agreed Hammer.
'Yes, such fun,' Reaver agreed, before smiling widely. 'And with that, I’m off. Byesy.' he said, before turning around and walking off.
'You can’t leave now. We need you!' Hammer pleaded angrily.
'Not my problem.' Reaver said over his shoulder as Theresa suddenly appeared next to me.
'Welcome Reaver,' Theresa said in her usual calm voice, and to my delight, she ended up startling Reaver, for he quickly turned back around, before composing himself again as though nothing had happened.
'Er…delighted to be here…er, whoever you are.' Reaver replied. 'But as I was saying before the enormous pointy flying boulder interrupted, I really must go.' he said, before giving me a look. I had snorted at his description of the Shard.
'Listen to me,' Theresa said urgently, though her voice was still calm. 'If you do not help us Lucien will control the world and every person within it.'
'Well, he’s welcome to them. People are, a bit over rated, don't you find?' Reaver shrugged.
'Then who will you sacrifice to the King of Shadows?' Theresa asked innocently.
I couldn't stop the smirk that started to cross my face. Theresa had him trapped, and by the look on Reaver's face, he knew it too.
'Argh, very well. Alright yes, I will help you.' growled Reaver, walking back to us. 'And after that there is a good chance I will kill you, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.' Reaver warned, before adding. 'So, what now?'
'We must gather at the Circle of Heroes.' Theresa told us. 'The ritual we are to perform there shall provide us with the weapon we need to defeat Lucien.'
'Hmm, that sounds like a barrel of laughs.' Reaver said, and I couldn't help but agree with him. 'Blind hey, I would of preferred mute.'
'So how are we getting back to Hero Hill?' I asked. 'Are you teleporting us there, Theresa?'
'No, you will have to work together to find your own way there,' and with that said, Theresa than teleported herself away.
'And how are we supposed to do that?' demanded Hammer. ‘It's not like we have a ship, seeing as Reaver's was destroyed and ours decided that they didn't want to wait and just dumped us here!'
'Reaver, is there any way off this beach?' I asked.
'Yes, but it is difficult.' Reaver answered. 'If we climb that cliff, it will lead us to one of the far sides of Wraithmarsh. Then, if we travel through Wraithmarsh, on the other side there is a Cullis Gate, though I'm not sure it still works.'
'That's no problem. I could probably start it up again.' Garth said confidently.
'Well, it's a plan.' muttered Hammer. 'I don't know why Theresa didn't just teleport us with her.'
'Theresa normal has a good reason for doing or not doing certain things,' I told her as we walked to the cliff. 'Though half the time I swear she does it to be annoying.'
'Hmm, I can agree to that.' Hammer agreed. 'I'll carry Storm on my back.' she added, picking Storm up.
'Thanks Hammer,' I said, before following Reaver up the cliff.
One thing that annoyed me was the fact that Reaver made the cliff climbing look effortless. He seemed to glide up the cliff's face. What surprised me the most was that he was kind enough to help me up over the edge, though he completely ignored Garth and Hammer when they struggled to get over the top. I wonder how he would have acted if I was an ugly witch with a wart covered face.
'This way,' Reaver pointed, leading the way.
Garth followed close behind with Storm, leaving Hammer and I to bring up the rear, a short distance behind.
'Okay, spill.' Hammer whispered to me.
'Spill what?' I replied, though I had a feeling that I knew what she was talking about.
'Oh don't play innocent with me. I've seen the way you look and talk to Reaver.' Hammer said, grinning. 'Do you fancy him?'
'Come on Hammer, even you can't deny that he is hot.' I told her pointedly, turning slightly red.
'True, but he's also an arrogant jerk that only has one thing on his mind.' Hammer replied. 'And you don't see me slobbering every time he smiles or does something.'
'I do not slobber!' I exclaimed, before blushing as Reaver and Garth looked over their shoulders at us.
'I won't ask,' muttered Garth.
'You come close to it.' said Hammer. 'You’ve become like a fan-girl.'
'Just because I look at him and flirt with him, doesn't mean I want to marry him or anything.' I said stubbornly. 'I am allowed to have fun every now and then, though I have to admit, he would make a fine husband.'
'What? Please tell me you didn't say want I thought you just said.' groaned Hammer.
'I did, and it's true.' I stated.
'What part of Reaver's personality suggests anything about being a suitable husband for you?' demanded Hammer. ‘For anyone, in fact?’
'Maybe the fact that he would be able to provide for me and if I ever had children. He would be able to protect us if we were in danger...'
'Do you honest expect -'
'You didn't see him in the Smuggler's Cave.' I interrupted. 'You should have seen him, Hammer. He took down all guards without any effort. He did it so confidently, smoothly and casually. He is so talented with a gun, way more talented than me. He also caught me before I feel to my death.'
'So he was actually telling the truth about that?' asked a disbelieving Hammer.
'Another bonus is the fact that he is tall. How many men do you know that are taller than me?'
'None, seeing I am the tallest man in Albion.' Reaver answered. Hammer and I hadn't noticed that the boys had come to a halt, and had been watching and waiting for us. 'Now if you two have finished your fascinating conversation about me, I thought you would like to know that we will be camping here for the night.'
I blushed again.
'Why are we camping? Why don't we keep going?' asked Hammer.
'Because we are right at the boarder of Wraithmarsh,' replied Reaver as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
'What has that got to do with anything?' I asked. 'Shouldn't we keep going so we can get this over and done with?'
'And travel through Wraithmarsh at night? No thank you.' Reaver said stubbornly.
'Aww, are you afraid of the dark?' I asked mockingly. 'Don't worry; I'll protect you from the big bad hollow men and banshees.'
'I am not afraid of the dark, thank you very much.' Reaver huffed. 'And I'm perfectly capable of handling hollow men and banshees.'
'Then why do you want to stop?' I asked. I was happy to see that Hammer and Garth looked as confused as I felt.
'You really don't know anything about Wraithmarsh, do you?' Reaver sighed, before continuing without waiting for an answer. 'I have heard numerous counts from my men, the ones that come back alive that is, that they have seen spirits.'
'What a load of nonsense.' I laughed. 'I saw no such thing when I came through. Your men were probably just seeing things.'
'You didn't come through here at night.' Reaver told me.
'So what? What are these spirits going to do? Why should we be afraid of...you’re afraid of seeing the people of Oakvale that you grew up with!' I suddenly gasped, when I realised why Reaver was acting this way.
'Now that is ridiculous!' snorted Reaver. 'Why should seeing their spirits frighten me?' he demanded as he sat down against a tree. 'Now goodnight to you all. We shall start out first thing in the morning.'
Hammer looked like she was about to yell at him, probably wondering about who put him in charge, when I silenced her with a look, before I sat down next to Storm, and went to sleep.
The trip through Wraithmarsh wasn't pleasant. I don't know how many times we fell over or tripped, but by the time we were half way through, we were all covered in mud and who knows what else. Garth seemed to fall down the most, seeing as he wasn't exactly a fieldworker. Hammer also fell down a lot, before she would get up grumbling. Reaver though surprised me the most. He was actually very graceful when it came to navigating through the marshes. Maybe it had something to do with his past, but that didn't mean that he didn't join us in the mud, though that was mostly my fault. He always seemed to be the closes thing to grab on when I slipped and I always seemed to manage to bring him down with me.
'Argh, here I was hoping to get through the marshes before nightfall, but that doesn't seem to happen.' Reaver grumbled, after Hammer slipped again.
'Don't blame us!' snapped Hammer, getting to her feet. 'If you were leading us through the marshes where it wasn't all water and slosh, we wouldn't be falling over continuously!'
'Sorry, but there is no -'
'What was that?' I asked suddenly, drawing my sword.
'What was what?' asked Reaver tiredly.
'Didn't you hear that voice?' I asked, looking around at their confused faces.
'No, Sparrow are you sure - wait, I hear it too!' Hammer said.
We all listened carefully.
'Did you know that Rose didn’t die straight away from the shot? No, she watched you fall from the window, and cried bitter tears before a final shot from Lucien……..the whole world despises you.' said the voice.
'Banshee,' said Garth, making blades surround him.
'As if we weren't late enough as it is.' Reaver muttered as a huge white banshee appeared. 'Okay, I have never fought one like that before.' he added.
'Lucky you,' I muttered bitterly. The white ones were the most powerful, just like the white balverines.
The banshee surveyed us, and we watched warily back, wondering where her children were.
'What is she waiting for?' Hammer whispered.
'She doesn't know which one of us to attack, so she's probably wondering who she could weaken the most.' Garth whispered back.
In the end, the banshee had made her decision and her target was Reaver.
'She despises you, Pirate King,' the banshee whispered. 'Dear, sweet Annabelle hates you, and will always hate you!'
A shocked Garth, Hammer and I all looked at Reaver. Why would this Annabelle despising him be his darkest fear or thought? We never thought that Reaver would care about what anyone thought about him. He always acted as though he never cared, but clearly he cared about what this Annabelle had to say. She clearly was someone special to Reaver for he paled significantly and had his Dragonstomper aimed straight at the banshee.
After a few moments, Reaver came back to his senses and growled at the creature before him.
‘You shall not use her against me, banshee!’ growled Reaver, before taking a few shots at the banshee in front of him.
The banshee laughed.
‘Reaver, you can’t kill her until we find her children.’ I told him gently, but he didn’t seem to hear me for the banshee was taunting him again.
‘You are the reason she is dead. You are the reason she will never rest in peace. Instead she is made to live in this wasteland forever...because of you. Forever she will live in agony, because of you. Never again will she ride through the country, without a care in the world. Never again –‘
‘SHUT UP!’ Reaver roared, finally losing it.
This startled me, but it didn’t startle me as much as the fact that Reaver seemed to be holding back tears.
‘We have to find the children, and quick!’ I told Garth and Hammer. ‘The longer the banshee keeps taunting Reaver, the higher the chance Reaver will do something stupid.’
‘They can’t be too far away,’ muttered Garth, before shooting a ring of fire out to kill any unseen enemies.
Together, the three of us went looking for the banshee’s children, while keeping an eye on Reaver at the same time.
‘I think we’re in trouble,’ mutter Hammer, a few minutes later as she paused in her search.
‘Why?’ I asked, poking around in a thorn bush.
‘The banshee is shimmering.’ she replied simply.
Garth and I whipped around and saw what Hammer said was true. The banshee was indeed shimmering and before our very eyes, she turned into a sixteen year old girl. The girl was wearing brown pauper pants, shirt and boots with a thin chain around her neck. Her hair was the same colour as Reaver’s as well as her eyes. Overall, she looked like a female version of Reaver. Either Reaver became a father at the age of fourteen or this girl was his sister or something. I was hoping that it was the latter of the two, though the first wouldn’t surprise me.
The girl’s sudden appearance startled all of us, but not as bad as it did to Reaver. He actually dropped his Dragonstomper!
‘Annabelle,’ he whispered, his voice thick with emotion.
‘Why River? Why did you do it?’ The banshee whispered in a different voice as she moved slowly towards Reaver. ‘I thought that you loved and cared about me, but I see now that was only a lie!’
‘No, it wasn’t!’ Reaver exclaimed, his voice pleading for her to understand. ‘I never meant for any of that to happen!’
‘Lies!’ she screeched. ‘If you never wanted it to happen then why do you still sacrifice innocent souls for your youth? You betrayed me, River, and I will never forgive you for that!’ she yelled, before grabbing the chain around her neck and ripping it off, before throwing it to the ground. At the end of the chain was a small carving of an owl in flight.
‘Annabelle, please!’ Reaver begged, taking a step forward, looking sadly down at the necklace.
‘Reaver, that’s not who you think it is!’ I said hurrying forward and grabbing Reaver firmly by the arm, holding him away from the banshee. In the background I heard Garth yelling out that he had found the children. ‘It’s still the banshee!’ I continued.
‘Wh-what?’ Reaver muttered, tearing his eyes from the young girl’s face.
‘She’s a banshee!’ I repeated, hoping that the message would sink in.
Reaver looked from me, to the girl and back again, before he bent down and retrieved his Dragonstomper. He aimed it at the young girl’s heart.
‘Would you really kill me again, River?’ she hissed. ‘Do I mean so little to you?’
‘Annabelle was my life,’ replied Reaver, ‘but you ain’t her!’ he said before pulling the trigger.
The bullet hit the banshee right in the heart, and she let out a terrible scream as her world went black.
‘I’m glad that’s over,’ muttered Hammer, as Garth and Hammer walked towards Reaver and I.
‘You can say that again,’ agreed Garth.
‘I think we should call it a day, and find a place where we can rest for the night.’ I said, taking in Reaver’s current composure.
Gone was the impatient, confident, arrogant and indifferent Reaver, instead I saw a Reaver that allowed his emotions to be read like an open book. A Reaver that looked lost and afraid, but most of all, I saw a Reaver that was in a lot of pain.
‘Reaver? Is there any shelter around here?’ I ask gentle.
‘Yes, there’s a small village up ahead,’ he muttered, before leading the way through the marshes. He was walking absently.
‘I don’t think he’s all there,’ Hammer muttered quietly to Garth and I as we followed the withdrawn Reaver.
‘That Annabelle must have been someone every close to him.’ Garth said wisely. ‘So close that she brought up unwanted emotions, fears and memories. Things that Reaver has probably taken years to hide.’
‘Hopefully we won’t come across any more banshee’s or at least ones as powerful as the last.’ I said, watching Reaver as he stumbled slightly. ‘I think another episode like that might finish him off.’
We eventually came to the small village that Reaver told us about, though it wasn’t much of a village now. Most of the buildings were falling apart.
‘Welcome to the poorest part of Oakvale,’ Reaver said somewhat sadly.
None of knew what to say, instead we led him over to one of the buildings that offered some shelter and protection before settling down and making a fire. We sat in awkward silence for what seemed like ages, before I finally broke it.
‘Anyone hungry? I’ve got enough food here to make a meal, and no I don’t have any meat.’ I said.
‘Fruit and veg are fine by us,’ Garth smiled as I began to prepare the food for us all.
‘Reaver,’ I said after a while. ‘Do you want to talk about what happened?’
‘Not particularly,’ he replied.
‘Too bad,’ Hammer said bluntly. ‘You have no choice but to tell us, seeing as we don’t want any more surprises.’
‘If I must.’ he groaned. ‘I guess I should start at the beginning,’ he said more to himself than to us. ‘I was born in this very village, when just outside it. My family owned all the farm land on the north side of the village. It had been in our family for years, but we always had to fight to keep it, seeing as we were the poorest family around. We barely had enough food to survive and money was always limited. Anyway, when I was fourteen, my mother gave birth to my sister, Annabelle, and she was my life...' Reaver explained with a fond smile on his face as he stared into the ambers of the fire.
Nineteen year old River stood in the boiling hot summer sun as he chopped the firewood for his father. It was about the only useful thing he could do, along with helping out with everything else on the farm. But that wasn't enough. He wanted to go out and earn some money to help keep his family, but no matter what he did, nobody was willing to give him a job.
River paused in his chopping and pushed his sweaty brown fringe out of his face and looked out across the farm lands, just enjoying a few moments of its beautiful landscape. It was then that he saw his soon-to-be-five year old sister, Annabelle, walking quickly towards him, looking as though she was going to cry. River put down the axe and took off his gloves before hurrying over and embracing her.
'Annabelle? What's wrong, sweetheart?' River asked as Annabelle began to cry.
'Why is it that nobody likes me?' she sobbed into her brother's chest as his arms tightened around her.
'What nonsense.' River replied gently, pulling her away and wiping away her tears. 'There are people who love you and like you.'
'Besides you, Mummy and Daddy, River.' sobbed Annabelle. 'I have no friends, whereas everyone else in the village does!'
'Annabelle, what brought this on all of a sudden?' River asked. He hated to see his sister like this.
'One of the girls in the village was struggling with something and I asked her if she needed help. She replied saying that she would love some and I helped her carry a package to her house, and on the way there I had my first really conversation with someone my own age!' explained Annabelle. 'When we got to her house she asked me if I want to play with her and I said yes. Then she was about to say something to me, when she saw who I was before yelling at me and telling me to get lost! She was also telling me to get home to "my freak", whatever that means. Why is it everyone hates me!' she demanded.
'It's because of me.' River admitted, leading her over to the shade of the house. 'I'm the freak she was talking about.'
'But why are you a freak?' Annabelle asked innocently.
River smiled sadly. Oh what it would be like to be so naive again.
'Annabelle, come with me back to the village.' said River.
'Cause it will be easier to explain why I'm a freak there.' came River's gentle reply.
Once River and Annabelle were in the market, River led Annabelle through the crowd and sat her by the fountain.
'How's being here suppose to help explain why those bullies call you a freak?' Annabelle asked for the hundredth time. This time, River answered.
'Look around at everyone, Annabelle. Look at their height and then at how tall I am.' River explained. 'See how I tower above all the other men my age, and how I even tower above my elders. To them, I am like a small giant, and they believe that I still haven't finished growing yet.'
'I never really noticed it before.' Annabelle admitted.
'Lucky you. They say my height is unnatural, and even traders from the different regions of Albion also say that my height is unnatural. They are yet to see my equal.'
'So they call you a freak just because you are tall? That's awful!'
'That's not the only reason.' said River. 'It is my unnatural skill that freaks them out as well.'
'What do you mean?'
'I mean my speed, accuracy and a few other things.'
'That's still no reason to call you a freak!' Annabelle said hotly. 'What's so funny?' she then demanded as River started laughing.
'Nothing, my dear.' River chuckled. 'If only everyone saw what you see.'
'Don't worry, River. I don't think you're a freak.' Annabelle told her brother as she climbed into his lap.
'And as long as you believe that, I never will be.' Reaver smiled. 'So, excited about your fifth birthday tomorrow?'
'Not really,' Annabelle sighed sadly.
'What? Every little princess should be excited about their birthdays!'
'One problem, I'm not a princess. I only have one toy and it's my rag doll that Mummy made out of rags.' said a sad Annabelle. 'Every other kid in the village has heaps of toys, so why don't I?'
'If Mum and Dad had the money, they would buy you a whole toy store, but compared to every other kid's parents, ours don't have the luxury to spend money on toys or clothes.' River explained gently as he carried her back home.
'It's not fair!'
'Life isn't fair.' River said bluntly.
The next morning, Annabelle awoke to find River silently making his bed - they had to share a room.
'Morning,' said a sleepy Annabelle.
'Morning princess.' River smiled as he walked over and sat next to her.
'I told you, I'm not a princess.'
'Oh, but you’re my princess, Princess.' River said, handing her a package.
'Something that many people call a present.'
'I get a present!' Annabelle squealed, before ripping open the hideous brown, rough paper.
Inside the package was a brown woven necklace, with a wooden charm hanging from it. The charm was a carving of an owl in flight.
'Oh River, I love it!' Annabelle squealed again, jumping up and flinging her arms around her brother, nearly knocking them to the ground. 'But how did you get it? I thought you said that we didn't have money to buy stuff like that?'
'You're right, we don't.' agreed River. 'But it costs nothing to get vines and weave them together or to get a piece of wood and carve it.'
'You made this? It looks like something you get out of a stall!' Annabelle exclaimed as River put the necklace around her neck. 'That's it!' she suddenly exclaimed.
'You could start a stall and sell necklaces!' Annabelle said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
'I would, but there is too problems.' River told her lightly. 'Firstly, no one is likely to buy them because it has something to do with me, and secondly, there's only one person who deserves them, and that's you.' River said, before tickling the little girl.
'No, no! Stop it, River!' giggled Annabelle.
'Annabelle! River! Breakfast is on the table!' came their mother's voice.
'Coming Mum!' River yelled back, before turning to his still giggling sister. 'You were saved this time, but I will get revenge.' he said, before chasing her down the stairs.
It wasn't till a few years later that the bad events began. One cold and stormy night, eight year old Annabelle, and twenty-two year old River, sat by their mother's bedside as her life was slowly taken away.
'No, Mummy! Please stay with us!' begged Annabelle as tears pours down either side of her face. 'We need you!'
'I'm sorry, my beautiful daughter, but I can't. My time has come to move on.' Their mother said painfully. 'Now please leave, my daughter. I do not want you here when I go.'
'Yes, Mamma. I love you!' cried Annabelle as she left the room, leaving only River and their father to stay with the dying woman.
'I want you to leave too, my son.' she added, looking over at her tall and silent son. Regardless of what the other villagers told her about River, she never stopped loving him.
'As you wish, Mother.' River replied, trying to hold back tears, as he stood to leave.
'Remember, no matter what anyone says you are a very special young man, and not a freak. You were given those skills for a reason, and in time, everyone will see why.'
'I know, Mother.' River replied, before leaving the room to find his sister.
'Is she gone?' Annabelle gasped, when River found her drenched and shivering in the barn, sitting next to her horse.
'Not yet.' River replied, sitting down next to her, and putting her in his lap with his arms holding her close.
'Everything's going to chance now, isn't it?' sobbed Annabelle.
'No, only our lives.' River replied gently. 'Everyone else will go on with their lives as normal, the animals will go on with their lives and the seasons and weather will continue to change.'
'Why is life so cruel? Why did they have to take her from us?'
'I'm afraid that I have no answer for that.' admitted River. 'But Annabelle, always remember that Mother will always be with you.'
'How? Will she come back as a ghost?'
'I don't think so. But she will always be with you as long as you always remember her and you will always find her in your heart. And remember, she will be watching us from heaven. Always protecting us.'
Sadly, their family was about to suffer even more. A year later, their father took his own life. He had given up living, unable to live without his wife, leaving his twenty-three year old son and nine year old daughter to survive on their own and to manage the farm.
River hated his father for it. He hated that his father abandoned them. No, abandoned Annabelle. Annabelle had lost many things in her childhood. She didn't have any friends, hardly any toys, or books. She could barely read or write. She never went to school. She had now lost both her parents, which had now resulted in her doing chores around the farm, when she should be out playing and having fun like any other kid. It was for this reason, the River got up early every morning and went to bed late. He was doing more chores around the farm than was healthy, so he could allow Annabelle to keep at least a fraction of her childhood.
It was when River turned thirty that he began to feel older than he really was. All the work around the farm had finally taken its toll. River watched as his sixteen year old sister, went around with her daily chores and he began to worry. What would happen to her if something was to happen to him? It was then that he made a decision. He would try to find away to stop death, so he could always protect his Annabelle.
On the day of the annual festival, River sent Annabelle ahead of him, telling her that he had some business to attend to, before he came and joined her. Once Annabelle was gone, River made his way to the most feared and forbidden place in Oakvale: the Shadow Court. He was going to them for help. They were the only ones that could protect him from the disease of time and death.
River was so happy when the Shadow Judges agreed to help him, with the price being one person sacrificed to them annually. River knew he could live with that, after all, it wasn't as though they were going to be killed. Little did he know that there was a second part to the contract. The Shadow Judges had purposely left out the part that they would take everyone's lives in Oakvale and destroy the village as payment as well.
Once River had signed the deal with the Shadows, he walked happily to the festival, when he became aware of screaming, and amongst those screams was the scream of Annabelle. River ran through the luscious fields of Oakvale towards his sister, ready to protect her from whatever was threatening her.
He found her by the fountain, and she was shaking with pain, crying out his name.
'Annabelle, what happened?' River asked urgently.
'I don't know!' she screamed. 'I was just sitting here when I felt pain course through my body, then it happened to everyone else!'
River looked up and saw that she was right. There was not a single person in Oakvale that wasn't in pain.
'Why aren't you being affected?' demanded one of the elders of the village.
'I - I don't know!' River gasped, turning his attention back to Annabelle.
'River - why are there Shadows there?' Annabelle gasped.
River looked up once more, and saw the Shadow Judges and many other shadows taking the life out of everything in sight.
'What are you doing?' River yelled at them.
'We are fulfilling our part of the deal,' replied the Shadow Judges, speaking as one. 'In order for you to retain your youth, we are to receive another's youth yearly and we get Oakvale and its people.'
'What? You never told me that!' accused River. 'Stop it! The deal is off! Stop it!'
'No, it isn't.'
'Please stop! This isn't what I wanted! Take me, and leave everyone else alone!' River begged, holding Annabelle, closer to him.
'We cannot do that.'
River began to sob as he realised the mistake that he had made. In order to protect his sister, he had condemned her along with his village and the rest of Oakvale. He looked down into his sister's beautiful face, ignoring all the curses the people of Oakvale were aiming at him. He looked down into her horrified face, and he knew that she now saw a monster...a freak.
'After that day, I have done everything I can to bury those memories, but nothing seems to work. Most nights I suffer from the nightmare of what I had done, and I know that I am cursed to live with the guilt and memory for the rest of my life.' Reaver concluded dully.
None of us knew what say. Everything we knew about Reaver was a masked, due to the dreadful mistake he had made. All those people he had slept with, killed, raided and everything else he had done was a tool to keep his unwanted memories away.
'Reaver -' I began.
'Save it.' Reaver replied harshly. 'I don't want your pity, sympathy or anything else, seeing as I don't deserve it, unless you're about to tell me what an idiot I was, that I do deserve.'
'Why do you go by "Reaver" if your names really "River"?' asked Hammer.
'Cause I am no longer River. I am Reaver.'
'But deep down you are still River.' I said bluntly, and he looked up at me sharply. 'If you were no longer River, than why do you still have these nightmares and memories?'
'Hero brings up a good point.' Garth said wisely. 'Only when you have truly thrown away your past, will you be Reaver and solely Reaver. But seeing as you haven't thrown away you're past, it must mean that you still want to be River.'
Reaver looked uncomfortable, and Hammer saved him the trouble of replying.
'All this Reaver and River stuff is making my head hurt. Next subject please.'
I chuckled slightly, before raising my pistol as a silvery figure walked towards us. The ghost's face looked so familiar.
'Reaver,' I said sharply, nodding behind him.
Reaver quickly raised his Dragonstomper, ready to aim in a split second when he to recognised the face.
'Annabelle,' he whispered once again, though he was unsure if this was another banshee or if it was really her spirit.
'River,' she said calmly, walking over and somehow embracing him. I guess ghosts and spirits could choose when they wanted to be solid or not. 'It has been too long, but now is not the time for family reunions. Wraithmarsh is not safe at his hour, and especially for you, River. If the others see you, they will kill you. We must go, now!' Annabelle added urgently, grabbing Reaver by the hand and leading the way, while the rest of us hurriedly gathered out belongings and ran after them.
Annabelle led us quickly and safely through the marshes and before we knew it, we were at the Cullis Gate.
'How did you know that this is where we wanted to go?' I asked the young ghost.
'I have been watching you for a long time.' Annabelle admitted. 'To be honest, I followed you through the marshes when you first came here, Hero. Then once more when you went to the Shadow Court.'
'You reminded me of River.' she said simply. 'At first I thought that River had finally forgiven himself and had settled down and had a family, but when he reappeared with you and the way you acted around each other I saw that it was not so.'
In the background, Garth was working on getting the Cullis Gate working, with Hammer nearby.
'River, would I be able to talk to you before you leave?' Annabelle asked, almost pleading.
'Of - of course,' stuttered Reaver.
'I'll leave you alone.' I told them, before heading over to Hammer.
Five minutes later, Garth had the Gate up and running and Reaver came back with Annabelle, looking very happy.
'You should all leave now.' Annabelle said, before embracing he brother. 'Mum was right, River. You were given those skills for a reason, and if you hadn't tried to protect me, then you wouldn't be here helping with your current quest.'
'I'll miss you, Annabelle.'
'And I you, River.' Annabelle replied, pressing something into his hand. It was the owl charm he had given to her all those years ago.
When the five of us arrived back at Brightwood Tower, we were attacked once more by Lucien's men.
'Haven't they got anything better to do, than guard this tower?' Hammer demanded angrily.
'Probably not.' I told her.
She growled in reply.
'If Lucien keeps this up, he won't have any men left.' Reaver commented, shooting every enemy in range.
'And that's a bad thing?' I asked.
'For Lucien and the poor dead sods it is.' came Reaver's reply, making me laugh, and the corners of Hammer and Garth's mouths to move upwards.
Once we had left Brightwood it was smooth sailing to Hero Hill.
'What exactly does Lucien want?' Reaver asked as we walked up the path to the top of Hero Hill.
'Aside from godlike power? Hmm, that's a tough one...' replied Hammer. I wasn't able to tell if she was being sarcastic or serious. Maybe she was being both.
'No, that kind of power is a means, not an end.' Reaver disagreed. 'What does he want to do?'
'When I knew him, he wanted to resurrect his family. Probably still does.' Garth answered. 'But...give a beggar a million gold, and he'll buy food - until his full. Then he realises bread isn't the only thing for sale.'
'In that case, we'll have to make sure he doesn't get the gold in the first place.' I said bitterly when we arrived at the top of Hero Hill. 'Hello Theresa. Been awaiting long?' I added when I caught sight of Theresa. There was no Cullis Gate.
'Not at all,' she replied, before getting straight down to business. 'Now we can begin. Stand in the centre, Hero.' she instructed. 'You represent that which binds that three together. Strength, Skill and Will. And together you will call forth the great weapon that will defeat Lucien.'
After exchanging a quick glance with the others, I stepped into the circle in the middle. The moment I stepped foot in there, a bright white light surrounded me. I then watched as Reaver, Hammer and Garth each went and stood in their relevant circles. Nothing happened.
'So now we just...er, do what exactly?' Reaver asked, looking around.
I was about to answer him, when he suddenly fell to his knee, groaning with pain, and he was shortly followed by Garth and Hammer. Then, before my very eyes, beams of yellow, blue and red lifted them into the air, before coursing through their bodies, then coming start at me. It wasn't the most enjoyable experience to have their energy being forced into my body, but when it stopped, I felt more powerful.
The white light disappeared and I looked around. Hammer, Reaver and Garth were all on their knees, looking weak and tired. Theresa was nowhere in sight. This, I have to admit, startled me a lot.
'Bloody hell. That...hurt.' gasped Hammer.
'I...agree.' Garth gasped back.
'Well, I did enjoy making that pretty light with you, but with that done, what happens now?' Reaver asked, sounding tired.
'I don't know.' admitted Garth. 'We crossed beyond the far edge of my knowledge when she stepped into the centre.'
'Well then, what happens now...er, blind woman?' Reaver asked, looking around as were Garth and Hammer.
'Where's Theresa?' Hammer exclaimed.
'I don't know. When the ritual finished she was nowhere to be seen.' I said, trying to stay calm.
'Well, this can't be good.' Reaver muttered, and he couldn't have been more right.
At that moment, Shards appeared unloading many commandants. The commandants were able to bind Hammer, Garth and Reaver up easily for they were all weak from the ritual, but they had a lot of trouble with me, especially with an angry dog biting at their heels. The only way they got me to the ground was when they each shoved a dagger under Hammer's, Reaver's and Garth's chins.
Once they had me under control Lord Lucien finally showed his face. He stood there tall and proud as he surveyed us.
'Heroes. Enough power to build a new world and you waste it trying to save the old one.' Lucien said, shaking his head in disgust.
'You're...you're Lucien!' gasped Hammer, stating the obvious.
'Open your eyes, Lucien. The ruins of the Old Kingdom are all around us.' growled Garth.
'And soon they will be buried under the New Kingdom. And you're looking at the new King.' Lucien replied calmly.
'Pretender. Your fall...shall be hard indeed.' Garth growled again.
'Um, deal still stands, Lord Lucien. Er, King Lucien.' Reaver said, making us all turn and look at him.
'Oh Reaver, will you shut it?' snapped Hammer.
'In fact, you can have these people for free.' Reaver continued, giving all us Heroes a pointed look.
I couldn't believe that he was betraying me again! After everything that had happened to us! Oh, when I got my hands on the arrogant, little...bloody genius! I thought when I suddenly realised what he was doing.
He was acting. I could see it in his body language. I could have gone and kissed him. If he was able to fool Lucien into somehow letting him go, part of Lucien's plans would be spoiled and there would be a chance for us to escape. Sadly, Lucien was smarter than he looked.
'And so I shall...and you as well.' Lucien told him.
Reaver clicked his tongue in annoyance.
'It was worth a try,' I muttered to him.
He shrugged, still looking annoyed at our current situation.
'Where is she?' Hammer suddenly demanded.
'Your fortune telling friend?' Lucien asked indifferently.
'What have you done to her?'
'I merely listened.' came his bewildering answer, before he turned and faced me. 'I should have gone out in the dark and found your body that night.' he told me as I glared at him. 'But I was hasty. I let the bloodline flourish, and you have flourished.'
'I'll take that as a compliment,' I said to him coldly.
Lucien gave me a cold smile and aimed his pistol at me. The exact same one that killed Rose. My blood began to boil.
'But this time is different.' Lucien said softly. 'The last of the Heroic blood shall flow out on top of this hilltop.' he said as he began to pull the trigger.
Storm, seeing that I was in danger jumped straight at Lucien's arm, teeth bare. I could do nothing as Lucien turned and shot him.
It was as though it was all in slow motion. I watched as Storm's body tensed with pain, before he went and hit the rocky floor where he laid unmoving.
'STORM! NOOO!' came the agonising scream from my mouth.
How could he? How dare he? First he killed my beloved sister, the only family I had left, in cold blood, right in front of me, and now he does the same for my dog! I would make him pay if it was the last thing I did. I began to struggle against my capturers.
'Pitiful creature. Misguided and weak, just like its owner.' Lucien said softly again, aiming the gun right at my heart. 'The last time I killed you, it tore my heart out. Of course, you were only a child...but then....so was I.'
It was then that he pulled the trigger. It was then that I felt the pain coursing through my body, the exact same pain I felt all those years ago. I was numbly aware of Hammer, Garth's and Reaver's yells, and before I knew it, my world went black, with Theresa's voice echoing in my mind.
‘Death is not your destiny today, Little Sparrow.'
Next chapter link: http://fablefanon.wikia.com/wiki/And_So_It_Ends
A/N: I know that banshee’s don’t shimmer or anything, that they only tell a person their darks thoughts and fears filling them with dread, etc. But I needed this one to change to help me with my plot.
Written: 6 September 2011