806 A Mother
“Welcome, dear guests,” said Tiara while giving them her back. She was still seated beside Arthur with a tray of used plates. It seems she hasn’t left her seat ever since she arrived. “What brings you all here?”
“A friend of my brother says she saw him snap out of his rage once,” said Oren as he walked to stand beside Tiara, with Suyin carried in his arms. “She said that he wanted to save her and that undid the wrath.”
“I would love to believe that, but the Sin of Wrath is known to have no rationality,” said Tiara with a frown before she stared at Suyin. As she laid eyes on her, Tiara’s face drained of color.
Tiara jumped from her, knocking the chair downward. Her body trembled as she stared at Suyin while the others stared at her with confusion. Then, before anyone knew it, Tiara was on her knees.
“Pardon my impudence, my lady,” said Tiara with her head bowing. “I had no idea we would meet again under such circumstances.”
“Have you met her before, Princess?” asked Yuran with confusion. Tiara raised her head toward her and nodded before turning back toward Suyin.
“I’m afraid I don’t recognize you, Princess,” said Suyin with confusion as she looked down at the kneeling woman. “Please rise since I commanded no such respect.”
Tiara stared at her with confusion, as if she might have mistaken her for someone else. In the end, she rose, but her expression still showed hesitance,
“I can never mistake your identity, Queen Morana. We met once in the Valley of Unborn Souls, where the old gods meet the new. You were sitting atop the Forgotten Throne and allowed me entry into the valley.”
“Queen Morana…” repeated Suyin with realization before understanding the situation and nodding. “I’m afraid I don’t carry her memories, even if they belong to me. I merely know what she tells me.”
Suyin nodded toward Oren, who placed her at the edge of the bed. Her body was weak, and needed to hold to the bed’s footboard.
“And does she remember me?” asked Tiara, seeming expectant. “I wish to revisit her when the time is right to finish my journey in this world.”
“She does,” said Suyin with a smile and continued, “and thanks you for taking care of the outsider in his troubled time. She knows that this isn’t the side you are on.”
“A healer must heal,” said Tiara as she rose. “If I had known that you were also here, I would have visited you. Forgive me, Queen of Souls.”
“What are you two talking about?” asked Lin Xue with a frown. “How do you know my sister? We never met you, not in any valley.”
“I’m unaware of the details as well, but Queen Morana is the gatekeeper separating the souls of this world and the next, making her the final test for those wishing to ascend,” answered Princess Tiara while picking up the chair. “All-powerful humans ought to meet her in the end.”
“I’m afraid I can’t understand,” said Lin Xue with a frown as she turned toward Suyin. “What is she talking about?”
“Do you remember our village, big sis?” asked Suyin while staring at the black flame atop Arthur. “All of them died because of me, even though you said the opposite. Those men that were looking for me all my life sought me because of this power.”
“You held no power for eighteen years,” said Lin Xue with a frown. “How would they know where to look?”
“I have no idea, but Arthur promised he would find the culprit,” answered Suyin with a smile on her face as she reached out toward the black flames burning above his body. However, Oren held her hand. “I won’t burn, don’t worry.”
Looking into her eyes, Oren found no fear. Ultimately, he nodded and let go, allowing Suyin to touch the flames. As she said, the fire did not harm her skin, but her eyes rolled back as she fell unconscious above Arthur.
Lin Xue shouted as she rushed toward her, but Suyin had already lost consciousness. The world turned dark and was replaced by another. It was a wasteland, stretching as far as Suyin could see.
Black lightning crackled in the sky, hitting the ground and obliterating everything. The wasteland had mountains, but they, too, crumbled after the black lightning struck their mighty summits.
“Is this where Arthur is?” asked Suyin as she looked around but found no one. Then, she heard a footstep behind her and turned around to fight a slender figure of blue light. It had no face, but her long hair and crown told Suyin of her identity. “Queen Morana.”
“I yearned to meet thou, mine vessel,” Queen Morana said as her slender arm rose, dragging the ethereal dress behind it. She caressed Suyin’s cheek with fondness. “I wanted to apologize for the fate I cursed thou.”
“There is no need, Queen Morana. You saved me against the calamity, and I would have been dead without you,” said Suyin with a smile. “We are allies.”
“Allies don’t cause woe to each other, as I didst with thou,” said Queen Morana. “Although I wish to end it, I canst not. I chose thou long since.”
“But I never understand why it had to be me.”
“Countless souls die and pass through me, leaving their mark. Then, after a thousand years, what is left of them gathers to be a soul, pure and unsullied, one and unique within me. ‘Tis mine child, the only child I hast, and I canst not be a gatekeeper if it remains within me.”
“Then, you are….”
“I dare not claim to be thy mother, for I am unfit to be bid one. But, alas, mine abilities reside within thou, as doth I and evil men know it. Thou hast been cursed because of me, mine child.”
“I never blamed you, never would I do, because I am here because of you, Queen Mother,” said Suyin as she held her hand. Morana was silent as her faceless head paused, and a tear rolled down her cheek.
As the two stood there, a howl broke through the skies and shook the earth. They turned toward its source to see a figure standing atop the highest mountains, where the black lightning never ceased striking.
“There is thy love, so hie and rescue him. Yet keep care, for I yielded against Eragon when we met. He is the world’s fury against the gods.”
Suyin nodded and started marching toward the summit, leaving Morana behind. The Queen dissipated, and the ethereal blue entered Suyin, protecting her against the black lightning.
The howls resumed, getting louder the closer Suyin walked toward the mountain. When she reached it, each cry tore apart her heart anew, installing fear into it. It was primal and raw as if the most ancient monster resided here.
Her feet stopped at the mountain’s base, and she stared upward. The clouds that carried the black lightning had giant red eyes staring down at her as if wishing to tear her apart. It was the most terrifying scene Suyin had witnessed.
After gulping down her fear, Suyin looked down and started climbing the mountain. It might have taken days or years, but Suyin had no way of telling. All she knew was that it had ended, and she finally saw the figure atop the mountain.
Arthur was sitting on a rock while a chained creature howled at him. As it repeated, the two seemed accustomed to this, with neither one of them making a mistake. Finally, the creature howled, and Arthur watched.
“I came for you, Arthur,” said Suyin as she stepped on the summit. Arthur seemed to hear her but didn’t look at her. “You need to let go of the wrath.”
“It has no hold over me,” said Arthur as he stared at the creature. His face was lined with black cracks, diving his body into many pieces. “I am merely a witness of its wrath.”
“But you have to go back,” said Suyin as she walked closer, but a howl made her flinch and fall to the ground. However, Arthur remained unmoving while facing it. “Your brother is waiting for you.”
“Brother?” muttered Arthur with confusion before seeming to remember. “You mean Oren, my blood and flesh. I remember when he was a child, crying every day in his room because he was too hungry, but we had nothing to feed him.”
The creature listened to Arthur’s words and started struggling against the chains, breaking two out of countless. Suyin realized that this creature represented Arthur’s wrath as well.
“He is well now, healthier and stronger than before,” said Suyin to appease him as she rose. “Seal this wrath, Arthur, and let’s go back. It will consume your life and leave nothing else behind.”
“It will consume those who wronged me first,” said Arthur as he turned toward her. “How can you forgive those who killed your mother and village? Don’t you wish to tear them apart and drink their blood?”