Sorry for the long long LONG hiatus. School's ended a long time ago and well... work started. What will follow this statement will be an account of what's been happening to me the past year, so those only interested in the story, may skip to the body now.
To be frank, while I still had an ending in mind already, I couldn't bring myself to write any further. It wasn't that I didn't know how to continue and I really didn't understand why. I had a life coach and friend work with me on some directional issues, something completely unrelated to the story. I told him about this story and its ending, so we ended up using the story to project my situation on. We started disecting the story and he began to question why had had certain characters do certain things or why something had to be a certain way. As it was, the story itself is a projection of my own life from the moment of its conception and every character a piece of me. Interestingly, the reason why I couldn't write is because over the last year, my own life has changed and taken a new turn. I'm beginning to change a future that I had unconsciously set for myself and so, the the ending in the story didn't match the ending I wanted in life anymore. After that session we had, I've been reflecting on everything in my life and what I would do with it. I found I've already made a decision that moment I paused this story. It's not going to be an easy road for me and it will take all the will and determination and whatever discipline I have to restrain myself from going for preference over goal, but I'll allow myself to be immature and selfish from time to time... and so shall I allow Réatra the same.
... Anyway, this chapter is a little shorter than the rest, but do enjoy anyway!
Chapter 34 – Sheshalvaria
“Réatra...” Toma whispered.
Her head snapped to look at him, eyes void of the compassion. Within a blink of an eye, she was before him. Her clawed hands made contact with his skin as a resounding cuff echoed the hall. Toma was sent hurling to the wall behind him, the wall cracking slightly from the impact. He dropped down to the floor though his consciousness remained. He looked up slowly at her, his face betraying a wince of pain.
No one dared to move as they watched it silently. An audible sigh from a corner captured their attention instantly and had their eyes turning to the smiling face that was Sei’ra’s. “If you wanted to follow, you should have followed alone,” he spoke as-a-matter-of-factly, directed at the dark skinned man. Turning to Réatra, he said, “She should be waking up any minute now.”
With that information, she turned walked past where he was through the archway hidden behind him. Sei’ra stood there smiling at their stunned and confused looks. “Well, you can all either come in or wait out here with those things
,” he finally spoke in an eerily cheerful tone and turned to follow his adoptive mother.
Without hesitation, the rag-tag team of spies followed him in, not wanting to discover whether the beastly arachnids would return or not.
They followed Sei’ra through a winding pathway that had so many splits and forks places they couldn’t even imagine and a wrong turn may get them lost in an eternal maze. They stuck close to the only guide they had, keeping quiet for fear of any other beastly creature being awakened. For what seemed like forever, they followed with only the sound of their solemn but quick footsteps breaking the deafening silence. But less than half an hour passed when they reached the end of the long narrow trail.
After passing through a small arch, they found themselves at the edge of a small round room. It seemed a simple lounge room with a round stone table surrounded by curved stone chairs. The walls were filled with intricate carvings of strange writings that swirled and curled from one character to the next. The whole room was laced with spider webs and enough of it to make Ronald Weasley squirm at the thought that those beastly spiders may have been the creator of them. But a glance of the room was all they got before they had to scurry along to one of the many doors along the round wall where their guide disappeared through.
Soon enough, they came upon another room though this was of regular rectangular shape. There were large equipment strewn everywhere, for purposes they cannot place. There were metal tables that seemed to be made for experiments and large tanks filled liquid of all colours, reminding them of the many jars back home that contained animal parts for their potions. Clear tubes large and small lay strewn across the floor connecting from one metal structure to the next. It could only be described by Harry Potter and Hermione Granger as one of those strange laboratories he found so often illustrated in Muggle fiction novels they had come across from time to time. The tanks had none in it but liquid though, while the tables seemed untouched by anything but webs and dust. The room seemed as abandoned as the rest of the building bar for one single place.
At the centre of that room was one of the largest tanks there. Two large tubes connected to its bottom from the metal beds on either side. Upon them lay two girls, peacefully asleep— or seemingly so. Smaller tubes ran from cuffs around their necks and wrists and into the base of the metal beds, blood-red liquid flowing out from the unconscious beings while liquid as black as night flowed back into them. Hermione and Ginny quickly ran to where the girls lay and looked worriedly at the serene faces of Samrae and Chamsae.
Both women decidedly made a move for the tubes that connected to the girls’ bodies, but were stopped when Sei’rei suddenly appeared with an axe in hand to stop them. His eyes gave them wordless warnings as his whole demeanour projected danger. Slowly they backed away from the tables and back into their boyfriends’ protective arms.
Harry and Ron had their wands up and ready but made no more move beyond that. The silence in the room made the tension worse.
“Now, now,” Sei’ra’s voice turned their attentions away from his frightening brother. “It wouldn’t do to have you touch anything you shouldn’t. We’ll be in big trouble if anything happens to her
Here they all turned at once to look at the massive crystal cylindrical tank that stood between the two metal divans where the young girls lay asleep. It was filled with liquid which was clouded with the bubbles that floated up from the unseen bottom. As they watched it more closely, the caught glimpses of an arm here and a leg there.
As they stared in wonder at the figure in the cylinder, trying to guess the identity of the floating body within, Sei’ra silently moved towards the strange control panel that was attached to one side of the tank and began fiddle with the various knobs. The bubbles lessened under Sei’ra’s control and more of the figure could be seen and identified.
Regulus Black seemed the first to recognize the owner of the body as he moved slowly towards the clear tank until he stood just in front of the floating figure. As if in a trance, he reached out one hand forward until it came into contact with the glass that stood between them, staring up at the face familiar to both him and his brother, Sirius.
Voluptuous was its figure and fair as snow was the skin that shrouded it, completely naked with only its own limbs and what remaining bubbles floated to scantily shield its chest and groin from their sights. Thick flowing locks, as red as wine, floated ethereally in the waters that enveloped the body. Its visage it was shaped like an egg with defined features. The pair of eyes that lay closed upon it bore long thick lashes as red as its tresses. It was the sleeping form of a beautiful woman, Regulus seemed to recognize all too well.
His lips parted and a whisper escaped into the silent air that surrounded them, “Aka…”
As if that mere whisper beheld some kind of awakening magic, those eyelids once closed fluttered open to reveal emerald orbs staring back down at him with a dangerously feral glint in them.
Gradually, the liquid was drained away and the glass slid down to let the girl with safely float to sit on the metal base of the tank, no longer with any barrier between her and the rooms’ occupants but the air between them.
“Aka…” Regulus spoke a little louder, reaching out further to try to touch what seemed to him an illusion.
But it was not him that she looked at now. Her green eyes quickly scanned the room and stayed fixed for a moment on a corner of the room. Getting up in one quick motion that was too fast for any of their eyes to see, the woman had made her way towards the dark figure that stood waiting there.
Regulus spun around to look for Aka and found her slumped weakly in Réatra’s arms.
“Sherlyr…” a hoarse whisper came from the red-head’s lips as she reached out a weak hand to touch her supporters’ cheek.
Before anyone else could react, Sei’ra was already beside them, laying a large towel to cover the naked woman and lifting her up in his arms to move her to another room with Réatra following closely behind, clawed hand still being held tightly by her red-headed friend.
They all rushed in after the three and found them settled upon a nest of cushions at the far end of the new room. Réatra was cradling Aka like a child while she kept staring up at the girl as if in a daze.
“I’m alright, Sherlyr,” Réatra whispered softly to her, a slight rumble to her voice. “We’re safe here. It’s over.”
Regulus moved in closer to the two and caught her attention finally. He stood at some distance at first but the look of recognition in her emerald eyes drew him forward closer to her. Soon, he found he had her wrapped around his arms, his face buried in her damp red hair.
“Reg…” she whispered tenderly as her arms slowly wrapped around his form.
And quietly, her friend slowly removed herself from her and exited the room while Sei’ra ushered everyone else out, leaving the two alone behind a closed door.
“Let’s give them some time together,” he told them softly. “It’s must be overwhelming for both of them right now— one just waking up from a suspended nightmare and one believing the other dead for so long.” When he saw the inquiring look on Sirius’s face, he added, “They were— are
in love. Of course, Aka had been rejecting him on the basis of her duties up until today. He’s been heart-broken and depressed since her supposed death, though he does well to hide it.”
“I don’t get it…” Toma said finally.
Sei’ra looked at him with an amused smile. “How she can be alive?” He chuckled a little before he continued, “She never died in the first place, but she would have if mother hadn’t brought her here to us in time. She was heavily wounded and she lost plenty of blood, while poison pretty much spread to nearly every inch of her body… And it’s not the type that any healer in Naramyu knew how to cure, so the only way to save her was to put her body in time suspension while we worked to remove the poison.”
Everyone turned to look at Réatra who was sitting silently at one corner of room, pouring through some books while ignoring the rest of them.
“Come. Sit down,” Sei’ra instructed as he guided them to the stone table and seats at the centre of the room.
They all obeyed, with only Sirius lingering for just a little longer to stare fixatedly at the transformed woman, wondering at the wings behind her back, dark feathers where once was silken locks, and talons where once were delicate hands. When he finally settled down at the table with the rest, the boy motioned with his hand and from one of the doorways appeared his twin with a tray of fruits. The unsmiling one laid the provisions upon the table gruffly and stalked out again.
“What about the girls?” Gabrielle Delacour asked, her eyes still trained on the retreating back of Sei’rei as she spoke.
Sei’ra looked at her with a knowing smile, though she did not see, before giving his answer to her as much as to the rest of the curious group, “They’ll be fine. We were infusing their blood with Aka, since they were the only ones compatible with her besides mother. Their bodies were made to receive any kind of poison and purify them. It doesn’t affect them any more than tiredness does. They will wake up tomorrow, as energetic as ever.”
Ron gave him an incredulous look. “How is that even possible?”
The smiling boy shrugged. “Well… they’re not human. They were not even born naturally. Samrae and Chamsae were creations by a sorcerer who lived here centuries ago. Mother and I found them asleep here and woke them up. Since we didn’t know what to do with them, we took them in. It’s not very hard to believe they were orphans we found abandoned at a war-torn village.”
“Then why did you have to hide Aka from us? Having us believe her dead?” Toma finally spoke.
Sei’ra gave him his ever eerie smile. “Ah, well, for us to do the transfusion, we need to use the equipment in this place. They can’t be moved because this place protected by a very powerful seal. Nothing gets in or out of here… except through that small rip in the seal that we use, which can only allow human-sized things to get through… And well frankly, we are not even sure it’s going to work. This place is a dead world. Nothing lives here but those creatures that live. Just like the twins, they were made, for the purpose of protecting the secret of this place.”
“Then what is this place?” Hermione asked.
Sei’ra’s smile turned sad. “Sheshalvaria.”
“The Empress’s Blossom,” Sirius mused.
“Ah, yes. The flower. That’s where it came from. The original seed, I was told, was a gift from generations back when there once was life here.”
“What happened?” Ron piped in, curious.
“Drumarans,” he answered plainly. “This is what Naramyu will turn into if we don’t win. They’re not called destroyers for a good reason.”
“And what is your connection to this place? How come you never told anyone about it?” Toma continued to question.
Sei’ra gave him an undecipherable look. “If you really must know… Mother’s ancestors are from here. She’s the last surviving member of the Sheshalvarian royal family. Though of course, her blood is much diluted, but her soul and powers still remain Sheshalvarian.”
“How many races are mixed into her blood anyway?” Sirius asked, finally tired of being left clueless about the one woman he ever cared so much for. “First I find out she’s been parading as a boy, when she’s really a girl. Then I find out she’s part Fae. Then that she’s Empress in a completely different world. And now she’s got heritage from some long-destroyed world…”
“Well, she’s a woman of many secrets and she has her reasons for keeping it that way. Are you sure you really want to know everything about her?” an alluring female voice asked.
They all turned to find Aka standing before them with a robe wrapped around her and Regulus’s arm around that. Her fiery hair was still damp from the liquid she slept in.
“It’s good to see you too, Toma,” she spoke in answer to an unvoiced remark by the dark-skinned man, who smiled warmly back in return. “Then follow me.”
While still holding onto Regulus’s arm for support, she led the group into another room. This was one where life seemed to exist. The room was round and its walls filled with crawling green vines that covered most of the ancient text carvings. At the very centre where the vines seemed to grow from was a large glass container that looked much like an egg broken open from the inside. Here she released her hold on her support and moved to sit at the base of container and gently pushed him away.
“I’ll be fine, Sherlyr,” she whispered to him and he moved obediently away from her. Turning to his brother she beckoned with a fair hand, “Come.”
He moved towards her, recalling a time when she had shared a memory with him without his knowledge. As he got close enough, she took his hand in hers and pulled him softly to sit before her. Instinctively, he closed his eyes, and the familiar tugging sensations took his body. This time, he was prepared for the heave that had once made his stomach churn and threaten to hurl anything that it contained. When it finally stopped, he opened his eyes again to a familiar room in a very familiar house.
This was Réatra’s old house.