015 Confronting Den
When I awoke, I found my wounds bandaged and my broken bones set with iron braces. The strange dress was replaced by a simple gown. None of my wounds hurt as much as they should and for some reason that made me uneasy.
“Who you? Where I?” I asked my captor.
I could not hear him, but a distinct fellness emanated from his person and overwhelmed my soul. Never before had I been in the presence of such a vile creature, save myself of course.
“Why you not speak?”
Still there was no answer, audible or thrummed.
The abomination neared me and a finger crossed my lips. There was no claw at the tip.
What could that mean?
Again, the finger touched my lips and I heard a slight rustling as the creature shook his head.
“You mute?” I asked.
The creature placed my left hand on his head and I could feel him nodding yes.
He shook his head, no.
“Why you come? To save me?” I asked, remembering how he had bandaged my wounds.
Then I am a captive. What could he want with me?
He handed me a flask of water and I drank from it eagerly. If he wished to poison me, he did already with the rag.
To my surprise, the creature withdrew from me. Anyone else would force me to steal their woes. Perhaps he did not know who I was.
As I lay against the wall in the darkness, I examined my damaged body. Both of my legs were broken in multiple places, my right hand was missing, my left was broken, and a bullet had grazed my skull. I could not escape unless the thing across from me permitted it.
Soft sniffling noises sounded from the thing's nose. In the stillness, I heard his tears pattering onto the stone beneath him.
“Come,” I called, compelled by my compassion.
The nearer he came, the more my body shuddered, causing my splintered bones to stab painfully into the surrounding tissue. I recoiled from the hatred that clung to his skin as he placed a grimy hand on my shoulder.
“Why cry?” I trembled through my lips.
There was no response, but his head grew closer to mine. Evil shrouded him and repulsed me as I tried to bring myself near to him. Our proximity caused my mind to vomit in pain.
With great effort, I penetrated the shroud and our brows touched. Instantly, a new sensation called light filled my mind. The same peace that protected Faithful's mind resided in this man too.
Why do you cry? I asked his mind.
“I cry for my sister and for you.”
Who is she? What troubles her?
“You trouble her. She comes of age in two days and if you do not accept her before then, she will die.”
Whatever do you mean? How must I accept her?
“So you understand, I will tell you who I am. I am Denrick or Den. The Duke of the Barren Caverns was my father, but he disowned me and my sister.”
That still does not explain why you are here or why I need to accept your sister.
“We have sworn ourselves as your eternal servants. You must allow her to plant her parasite in your body; she cannot live without a host to feed on.”
Why would I want that?
“As her host, you would receive complete healing and be placed under her control. You would become beautiful again and your scars would fade.”
Why can’t she just infect you?
“She will, but she needs two willing hosts.”
I will never let that monster near me! It will not control me.
“For nearly five ventings, we have tracked you and Faithful. We’ve done all we can to aid you. She only bears love for you! “
Well, since I killed Faithful, there is one less person for you to help.
“You didn’t kill him. Centin did. The ceremonial cup was poisoned. Faithful died before your blade pierced his heart.”
But he spoke to Silver.
“His fingers never thrummed.”
But I felt his words.
“He chose those words beforehand and requested that my sister relay them to you were he to die.”
How dare you claim that his last breaths were a lie?
I probed his vulnerable mind and found his words to be true. He concealed nothing from me, save one small quadrant of his mind. I wondered what it contained, but did not investigate. Relief washed over me as some alien will forced me to resign the guilt I felt over killing Faithful. Tears of blood spilled from my eyes into the bosom of my giant companion.
Why was I saved from death, yet Faithful was not? the question spilled out of my mind.
“My sister healed you, but Silver no longer possesses the ability to heal.”
Why me? I would have resurrected anyway.
“But your daughter would not. We did not swear allegiance to Faithful; we swore allegiance to you.”
Then twice you have saved my life. Why have you sworn yourselves to one so wretched as me? Will you force me to steal your woes forever?
“No, I swore myself to you because my sister did. I bore no special love for you, but for my sister I will do anything.”
And why did she swear herself?
“Because you created her.”
Created her? I asked incredulously.
“Yes. Remember your visit to the Duchess of the Barren Caverns? You were paid to heal her because she was near death. A lacerator planted its egg in her and the poison nearly killed her.”
I remember. And I also remember healing the child in her womb.
“She was not with child.”
“The child you remember was the lacerator egg. You personized the lacerator.”
How could I have? Only a bat or a spider can be personized. I don’t possess that power.
“I do not know how. I only know that you did personize her.”
You mean to tell me that I turned that cursed parasite into a person? I would never allow myself to near those obscene beasts!
“And that is why I weep. My sister is one of those 'obscene beasts' and you have rejected her. Because of your hatred, she will die in two days. Do you know nothing of all the kindnesses she has shown you?”
I am sure I have never met her. Describe her appearance.
“She doesn't look like anything.”
She is invisible?
“No, she takes whatever form you require of her.”
But I have never met her before.
“In your dreams, the 'monster' you feared so meant no harm to you. She guarded your mind. The only reason you have any volition at all and are not under Gemma's complete control is because my sister, Theila, protected you! She's the reason our minds have touched and also the reason that you and Faithful existed in one another's dreams.”
I could never love that she-devil! I screamed internally. She has tormented me so that I have never slept a night through for five ventings.
“All the evil you ascribe to my sister was Gemma’s doing. She tormented you in the guise of my sister.”
I will never love your demon of a sister!
“Tell me, did Faithful treat you as a demon when he met you or did he love you without reserve?”
How dare you compare her to me. We are nothing alike. Faithful said himself that I was lovely.
“Was I lovely when you met me?”
“But when your compassion forced you to draw near, your perception of me changed. Faithful experienced the same agony when he decided to love you and I have overcome it to serve you. You call my sister a demon, but you are a corpse ten-thousand times more loathsome than she is.”
Fury filled me at his cruel words, but they were true. I wanted to slash Den's throat, however I realized that his thoughts were not intended to hurt me, only to show me my error.
How could I not love his sister If she had truly connected my mind to Faithful's then that one act was deserving of all the love I could give her for infinite eternities.
I will accept her.
Relief swept over Denrick and the light he possessed grew even stronger than before.
“I have another request creatress. May I surround your mind? As your guard I have striven to protect you from Centin and Gemma, but it's ever so difficult when you resist my every action.”
The same alien will, not his, but one much more potent, compelled me to comply with his request. Den's consciousness enveloped my mind and placed itself as sentry to deny the entrance of harmful thoughts. In that instant, the incessant barrage of guilt and suffering from the mind of Centin ceased. My chest expanded with a full breath as the weight of Centin lessened in my body.
How could I have ever doubted you Den. For this gift, you have my eternal gratitude.
“I have merely done my duty.”
Is your sister as wonderful as you?
“I am not wonderful, but Thee', she is the embodiment of truth. No lie has ever defiled her lips. She is incapable of falsehood.”
Longing to meet this marvelous girl sent thrills of excitement throughout my mind. I blessed the God of Faithful for giving me Den and Thee'.
Denrick, I have never told my past to anyone, but I cannot bear it alone. My shame is ever so heavy.
The other mind prodded me to share and I did not wish to resist. My trust for Den was the same childlike trust which my daughter bore for me. Next to the giant, I felt like a little girl.
I do not remember ever being a child. My earliest memories are of Gemma’s beatings. She realized my powers as a woethief and rented me to anyone who desired that their guilt to be removed. She forced me out of my body and did unspeakable things through me. Do you know what it is like to carry the weight of the sin of thousands of my enemies? I wear damnation as a cloak and vice is my constant companion.
Denrick wept with me as I recounted my story. With my words came vivid mental images that seared themselves into his memory forever.
She committed murders and all manner of crimes with my body as her puppet. If I was caught, she left me to be killed. When I awoke from death I bore a new outer body and the guilt of my own murder. Why am I the only one for whom death is not permanent? A favorite activity at the public houses was to hang me from the ceiling by my hands and throw knives at me. Whoever cut the rope could give me their woes without charge. Most of the time I died from poorly aimed blades. I have done so much evil. Can you still befriend me, now that you know who I am?
“I can love you. You have told me nothing I did not already know.”
Denrick released me from his firm hands and in the fortress of his mind, the dreams of agony which oppressed me could not be found. I slept in peace for the first time in my life.
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