This is the ninth chapter in my ten-chapter fantasy novella. So close to finishing! I hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment below your thoughts or any feedback that could make this climax better. 🙂 Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
The first thing Tarquin did when we reached shore was rush me passed the fight and into Tiana’s house. Gently, he laid me in a bed. I was too weak to sit up as he spooned Gesu’s blood into my mouth.
At first it was painful to swallow, like my throat was on fire. But then, as it trickled down, a miraculous taste as sweet as a cherry filled my mouth.
“It’s terrible, isn’t it?” he asked me, wincing.
I grinned, as energy spread through me. “No, it’s… it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted!”
He raised a brow quizzically.
Amazement rushed into me as I jumped out of bed and wrapped my arms around him.
“The plague is gone—completely gone!”
He clasped my arms and withdrew slightly, looking into my face in wonder. “Praise Gesu!”
“What are we waiting for?” I exclaimed. “Let’s save the others!”
Thankfully, the battle had not yet touched the village where the sick ones lay in the homes of the kind elderly people. In his loud deep voice, Tarquin ordered the healthy old folks to bring the sick ones out of the ice homes into one place, so they could more quickly be healed. Many were doubtful at first, but I testified to the miraculous power of Gesu’s blood.
“Dahlia.” Prima flew up to me and embraced me quietly. “You look well today, girl.”
I grinned as I explained to her the miracle. “Where is Kari?”
Her face flooded with pain. “He’s so sick—I don’t know what to do.”
Tarquin was feeding the blood to many people already, so I didn’t say a word to him as Prima led me to Kari.
His eyes were closed shut, and tumors covered his once-soft skin.
“He hasn’t moved for hours,” Prima said, shivering. “And there…” She pointed to three young boys beside him.
I nodded but remained emotionless. Mechanically, I bent down to him and fed him from the small bottle Tarquin had given me. When he opened his eyes, he smiled and jumped up into my arms, laughing. “DAHLIA!”
I hugged him tightly and set him down. “All right, all right!” I laughed. “How are you feeling today, kid?”
Before he could answer, he turned to Prima and gave her a hug that sent her tiny frame toppling to the ground.
“Be careful—remember she’s a fairy!”
But I couldn’t blame him. Inside me, I couldn’t have felt more joyful with this new life coursing through my veins. Yet there were so many more people in need of healing.
Andrea. The thought stole my happiness in an instant. She had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. I couldn’t let her die along with Hollis.
As I began scouting out the sick ones to find Andrea, Tarquin hurried up to me. “Dahlia, I need to help the Summer humans and Gesu-followers fight Hazina’s fairies. As soon as you heal the men, instruct them to go to shore to help us.”
“Of course.” I searched his handsome face, not knowing what might happen to him once he confronted the powerful fairies. “Don’t die, Tarquin.”
I hadn’t meant it as a joke, but he smiled. “I won’t, Dahlia. I’m going to be King.”
With that, he ran off.
“Dahlia…” When the strained voice reached my ears, I swiveled around.
Andrea lay in the snow, with a beautiful old woman spooning broth into her mouth.
The woman lifted her head when she saw me, locking her blue eyes onto me. “Dahlia,” she said again. “Your friend needs you.”
I rushed to Andrea, ignoring the old woman. “My friend, it’s been so long. I’m so sorry. I wish I’d—you’d never believe what happened–are you all right?”
She looked up at me, but, for once in her life, she didn’t speak a word. She was no longer the bright, outgoing young woman I knew a few days ago. I remembered how she’d teased me about the strange miner staring at me from across the field. Had he loved me then? I shook the thought off and brushed her hair out of her face.
I quickly brought out the bottle and fed her a small drop, so as to save plenty for the others.
Slowly, she sat up. “Wow… what was in that bottle?”
I pulled her to her feet, chuckling. “I’ll tell you another time.”
We embraced each other, giggling like young girls again in the Spring orchards. “I’ve missed you so much,” Andrea said.
I regretted to think I had been so focused on Hollis that I hadn’t thought much of her.
“I’m so sorry, Andrea. There’s so much to tell you.”
“About that miner boy?” Andrea raised her brows, and for once I was glad to see her being herself again. “I saw him walking around here a few minutes ago…”
“His name’s Tarquin.” I shrugged at her growing smile. “He’s… he’s my friend now.”
I ached at the thought of him. Feelings I hadn’t realized existed rushed inside me. He was so good to me. I wouldn’t ever be able to repay him for all he had done for me. I could never repay Gesu either—he had paid his own life for me.
But… not in time to save Hollis.
“Tarquin’s fighting the fairies by the sea,” I said quietly. “As soon as this stuff heals everyone, we can all help him.”
“What’s wrong, Dahlia?” Andrea leaned forward, her hand on my shoulder, looking deeply into my eyes like the friend I had always known and loved.
I turned away and sat down on a fallen log. She sat beside me, her kindness seeping through her dark eyes. I’d forgotten how much she loved me. Guilt wrecked me. I had done nothing to deserve her affection, always scorning her for her silliness and carefree nature.
“I feel… paralyzed.” My voice was feeble. “Andrea, it’s true. Hollis is dead. It’s more than I can bear.”
She wrapped her arms around me and sang softly, a song she’d so often sung to Hollis and me in the nights when we were young children, staring up at the stars. She was like an older sister to us—or a mother? Were mothers like this? I didn’t know.
“It’s just you and me… us together. The flowers bloom, it’s lovely weather today…”
Hollis used to sing it all the time. I remembered my dream about her… and about the longing for something more. The stars. I looked up at the brilliant little lights dancing across the black sky.
Thank you, I whispered silently up at them.
“—Andrea! We need to heal these people with Gesu’s blood.” I stood up and pulled at her hand.
“Blood? Yuck!” She yanked her hand out of mine and looked at me strangely.
I explained to her quickly the miraculous healing Gesu provided. “He healed you,” I finished proudly.
She gasped and shook her head. “I don’t know, Dahlia.”
I smiled. “I’ll show you.”
As Andrea witnessed strength returning to the sick, she laughed. “That’s truly amazing, Dahlia! But you need to stop saying it’s this Gesu person who caused all this. There’s something in that bottle! A spell, or something.”
I tried to explain to her that the great Queen Hazina had caused the plague, and therefore no spell could overcome it.
“I can’t believe that.” She shook her head. “What has that miner boy been telling you?”
I ignored her as I tilted the bottle into a middle-aged man’s mouth. It was the same man in Autumn, I now realized, who had bemoaned about his wife and children being taken from him. The man opened his eyes and sat up, looking up at me bewilderedly. “Dahlia?”
I gasped. How did he…?
He embraced me, tears streaming down his cheeks. “My daughter… He told me you were my daughter.”
I hugged him in return, astounded. “Gesu?”
“Yes,” he murmured. “In my dreams. But this is real! You are really here, my sweet child!”
A few hours passed of simultaneously chatting with my father and curing the sick ones with Andrea until we had finished.
I told him of dear Hollis, my life in Summer and Spring, and my recent adventures. He told me of how he had fallen in love with a woman named Mariella, gave birth to each of his daughters, and how recently Mariella passed away from the plague.
Finally, I spoke to the rejoicing humans who had been cured of disease: “If you are able and willing, please go to the battle to help fight against Hazina’s fairies.”
As people found spells and weapons, Andrea looked at me fearfully. “How are we going to do this? You cannot trust a dead man, Dahlia.”
Distress gripped me at the thought of the humans and Gesu-followers dying in battle—of Tarquin dying. No. Not him.
“Gesu is not dead,” I said firmly, though I did not know how I was so sure of this. “He is alive inside of us. With his power, we must fight, or else we will die.”
“You’re right, my daughter.” My father stood quietly beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “We don’t have much choice.”
As we reached the shore, my anxiety heightened. The Hazina-followers had circled around the Summer humans and Gesu-following fairies. They’d bound them up to poles. In the center, Tarquin was writhing against the ropes as a fire culminated beneath his feet.
The mud wall monsters from Spring and Autumn were marching toward us, and in between them Queen Hazina flew in all her splendor, colorful spells exuding from her and armed fairies by her side. Behind her, the Treelanders, undoubtedly under some sort of mind-bending spell, marched with swords made of the sharpest wood and shields made from the toughest leaves.
My heart pounded in my chest, and my father looked at me, concerned and alarmed. I did not look at him.
Tarquin was staring at me, from across the field of snow. The shore splashed on the rocks yards away from him. I stared back, horror coursing through me, even through these veins that rushed with new life.
His dark tortured eyes called out to me, undeniably, silently screaming, “I love you, Dahlia!”
I ran toward him, though my father yelled from behind me. I ran past the Hazina followers, past the loyal followers of Gesu tied to poles, I ran to the center, to the flames that blazed beneath my king.
“What are we going to do now?” I shouted up to him, tears streaming down my cheeks. If only my tears could put out this fire. But that was the hopeless romantic in me. Tarquin could never be mine—he could never be mine even if children didn’t exist.
He was going to die.
I looked into his eyes, aching all over, wishing I could express how thankful I was for all that he had done for me.
“Dahlia,” he choked. “You need to leave.”
“I need to save you—how can I save you?” Desperation filled my voice.
Suddenly, a Hazina-follower grabbed me and tied me to a pole beside Tarquin. Soon a fire was lit beneath my feet.
Tarquin cried out in agony as the flames began to smolder him.
Away from the scene, stood the humans from the village, including Andrea and my father, who didn’t know what to do. They didn’t want to run out here and end up like me.
All at once, Prima and the good fairies burst forward, and a great battle ensued between those who followed Hazina and those who followed Gesu. With the Treelanders and the mud walls on Hazina’s side, the good fairies were greatly outnumbered.
I watched as Prima cast soothing spells on the mud walls, and began talking to them, as if convincing them to join Gesu’s side. Soon Queen Hazina found out and got rid of Prima’s spell. A Treelander pitted Prima with the wooden sword while Prima fought back with her spontaneous spells. The wooden sword accidently turned into a bat, looked confused for a second, and then flew away, leaving the Treelander defenseless. But just as Prima rose her clear blue wand to strike another spell, a Hazina fairy electrocuted Prima, and she fell to the earth, helpless and paralyzed.
Prima. I wanted to shout her name, but the smoke was suffocating. I winced as I felt a flame on my own foot.
I glanced at Tarquin, terrified as I saw his feet being burnt bit by bit, and the fire mounting higher and higher to his ankles and legs. He screamed.
That scream shattered any innocence I had left in me. I sobbed wretchedly, broken, and so alone. Gesu, where are you now? Your blood saved my life. Why do you let me die? Why do you let Tarquin die, when you promised he would be King?
Just then, a cry rose through the air. A sweet, innocent crying out in terror. It shook my nerves, so I turned toward the noise, toward the shore.
I caught my breath. Hollis stood in a flowing white dress, her blond hair whipping in the wind, her face soft and beautiful. She was smiling.
Behind her, thousands of humans stood, glowing, radiant as the Summer sun.
The battle came to a sudden halt. Everyone stopped and stared, mesmerized and baffled by the beauty of these humans.
Gesu stepped forward, calling out in a deep voice, “Queen Hazina, these are the people you tortured with the plague. These are the ones who died from the poisonous waters. These are my friends that I have brought back from the graves of Midfuna Island.”
And before anyone could gasp or murmur let alone get a good look at him, he vanished into the Winter air.
Queen Hazina fluttered toward the risen dead, her guard fairies by her side. “What is this!?” she roared into the silence of the crowd.
I clenched my teeth as the fire licked my feet and ankles, withholding a shout. Murmurs of pain filled the air around me from the others who hung on poles.
To my astonishment, Hollis, meek and quiet, stepped forward, a smile still on her face. “My queen, you have no idea what Gesu had to go through to get us back. Your sin destroyed us, and only Gesu was strong enough to give us life again. Now before you kill us all off again, I ask you to listen to me.”
Hazina groaned. “To a little girl!? Are you kidding me?”
“It is the least among us that Gesu uses,” Hollis said simply. “Now, I bet you never considered the details of your plan to destroy the human species. Your sole object was to better Istagun’s economy, right?”
Hazina’s rainbow wings fluttered violently. “All right, whatever. Continue!”
I hung on that pole, my feet on fire, tears escaping me. What was Hollis thinking, to anger the queen like this?
“Well, what you didn’t realize, was that people were risking their lives to save the people they loved. Take Dahlia, for instance. My sister risked everything, even traveling to all of the seasons to find me.” Hollis quickly continued before Hazina could respond. “Dahlia risked her life for me. Have you ever known that kind of love, my queen?”
Tears continued to drip down my cheeks as Hollis spoke, but now more out of amazement rather than the pain in my limbs as the fire crept up and the smoke stung my eyes. My sister had matured over the years she’d spent in Spring without me. But even more, these words seemed to come from the power of Gesu who lived inside her.
“Gesu let your fairies kill him, so the sick ones could drink of it and be healed. Have you ever known that kind of love?”
Hazina folded her arms across her chest, impatient. “Get on with your rhetorical questions!”
Hollis shrugged. “You can answer them if you’d like.”
Hazina laughed. “Okay, I’ve never known that kind of ‘love,’ whatever that means. My father abused me; my mother didn’t want me to exist. Continue, please!”
Sorrow filled Hollis’ face. Within me, I too felt compassion for the queen. I had never imagined I would feel bad for such a person.
Hollis spoke more gently now. “No wonder you’ve been enslaving the humans, making us do certain tasks at certain times in certain ways, controlling very aspect of our lives. You’ve never learned freedom. Your own soul is enslaved to fear, unable to express love to anyone else. The only thing you know is fear.”
Hazina’s beautiful rainbow wings suddenly drooped very low as she sunk to the ground. Each guard fairy put a hand on her shoulder.
“My queen, you’ve separated the people so the children grow up without mothers and fathers, and the parents have to say goodbye to their babies as soon as their born.” Hollis sighed. “How can you let us live like this? Don’t you know anything about love, about loss, about healing?”
The queen waved her wand slightly, and then dropped it. Instantly, the fires beneath our feet went out, the ropes were undone, and we fell to the ground.
As cheering arose, I ran to Tarquin, whose feet were burned by the flames.
I clasped hold of his hands in mine, though they were covered in soot and ashes. The fire had scorched him more than me. “Tarquin, are you going to be okay?”
“What just happened?” he murmured, too much of a man, of course, to admit he was in pain.
I bit my lip, smiling slightly. “Queen Hazina… she saved our lives.”