The briars are in the same spot they were in before. Nothing has changed with them or our old home. At least from what we can tell.
Perhaps that’s what needs to happen. I need someone to tell me what’s going on in there.
After I calm the tears.
I rub my eyes wishing it was an easier task set before me. Kill Mother? Why? What happened? I’m so confused. The magic of Life and Death swirls around me though. Mother cannot have this power then. It’s meant to be for only one.
I am Mother… now?
“No. That’s nonsense.” I laugh spotting several spirits hovering together. I just started pacing the briars. I wasn’t expecting consultation.
Moving in closer, I can hear the whispers. Spirits cannot be hurt by Mother. They cannot hurt her either. If they become annoying, she can destroy them. Well… That’s te assumption. I haven’t seen her destroy a spirit. I touch my new power again. This power can destroy them. I can feel it. I can see it. Not destroy as in gone, but broken apart to be reformed.
I press my hand against the briars while getting close enough to understand those hovering.
“He isn’t what I expected.”
“No, not quite. A pattern of white and black?”
“And those wings… Foolishly sized.” It’s chatter of thousand year olds. “Although I haven’t seen a Balancer without wings.”
I blink. Balancer…? I look at my power. What balance could be marked besides Life and Death? Now I wish to ask Grandfather. He always mentioned more were possible, but never explained things.
“Feathers, though. Ugly.”
“And talons! Who wants talons instead of feet? A fool’s choice.”
“Excuse me.” I step closer shocking the spirits. I can feel when they turn on me. It’s almost painful. Even with my new powers they offer unsettled atmosphere.
“The child lives. Marked to stand beside you.” One of the spirits jabs at me. Doesn’t do anything. “You must defeat her and claim the position before this mess continues.”
“I don’t understand.” I shake my head sending tears everywhere. I try to wipe at them, but the idea of… death… committing death… I…
Grandfather moves into the group quieting all the other spirits. His time here is older than life itself. His existence is one only thoughts could reach. He stays for my sake, or so he told me. “She chose to step down.” He sighs moving to the brambles in our way. He must see beyond them, which I cannot. “A fool’s decision to ruin this. Why not face against the truth not hide in the shadows?” He huffs looking to me. “But the magic has passed and that means you are needed.”
Grandfather nods and taps my inner wrist. “Pull your dagger as you have always done before.” He touches my chest center between my growing breasts. I am not an adult yet even. The tears come unbidden as I realize his point. “Here. On her. She is no longer Mother. You have no rights to her. Allow her the death she seeks.”
“Recall the damage she has caused you. The hate she has towards death. The worry she has created in all of us. Yuriel shouldn’t even exist yet.” Grandfather stares in the direction of the house. “And this one. This new birth is even more foolish. Balancer of Chaos and Order before they even arrive? How will they feel complete like this?”
“Grandfather… I… I don’t think I can…” I press my hands to my chest. Gulping down the feelings isn’t making it easier.
“Don’t think. Just do.” Grandfather motions to the briars blocking my way. “Haven’t I said that before? You think to much.”
I nod. That has been a point he’s made before. I think too much. “Yuriel and Mariposa are…”
“Don’t worry about them right now. Let’s handle this. Move the briar. You can. Save the child. Claim your title.” Grandfather steps back. The spirits move to hover behind him offering me the space.
I can move the briars. I am the stronger mage now. I am the new Mother. The Balancer of Life and Death. I can do this.
But not without tears. The briars listen to my desires as I sob from the new task set before me. None of my memories were bad enough to make this the best choice. Mother wasn’t that harmful or hateful. She just wanted love. She didn’t understand how to give it or receive it, but she loved us.
I stand before the house a moment before realizing the spirits followed albeit at a distance. I inhale trying to calm myself before entering the house I grew up in. The last three years we have camped about the place resting as needed. As long as I had Yuriel and Mariposa, it’s been fine.
The door opens to a gust of cold air. Reminds me of Winter Mother. I shake my head. No. This is a bad day in Fall. My mother is dying. And I must offer the coup detat. Blinking back the tears, I move with confident into the side room where Mother always rested.
Sitting beside my dying mother under the white spider silk is a creature. Not like me, but also not unlike me. White and black mixed, mottled almost, about a rather masculine form. Massive feathered wings pull up and back. Short hair. Monochrome eyes. Feathers cover the waist where no belly button is noticeable down to massive talons seen only on the most dangerous of predator birds.
This is a dangerous creature. One I do not know. But am drawn to. Creepily drawn to. I feel odd having such a draw knowing the dangers are there.
I force myself to focus on the body lying there. Of Mother. She wears her winter forms even if she should be in Fall. She must die. I am taking everything from her. She would only suffer if I do not do this now. The dagger slides out of my wrist as per normal.
What should I do? Must I do this? Can’t I just…? Just what, Kura? What can you do different? How can you change things?
“Name?” The creature speaks. My tongue. In a way that has warmth slipping about me. Lust? I never felt lust before. And from just a word? Part of me does not trust them. The other part wishes to forget everything by slipping into their arms. Even more dangerous than I thought.
“Ku-kura.” I hiccuped mid name.
They scan me a moment before nodding. “Yes. We’ve been waiting for you.” Then they just leave. I stare at the being exiting. I listen to the tap of talon against floorboard. ‘We?’
“Kura.” Mother reaches out a hand to take mine. “You came to kill me.” It is not a question. There is no question in her voice. This was the route she decided on. Grandfather called it foolish. I really don’t grasp anything.
I hold my dagger up, but not in a way of threat. “I…”
“It is the way of things, Child. You claim the position, you must defeat the previous title. I am blocking you from your full potential.”
Tears stream down my face. “I am too young.”
“I was only a few days old. My desire to watch you grew even if for a moment caused this. I apologize for hurting you. I never meant to.” She waits for me to move the dagger into place. I can’t do it. “Please, Kura.”
I stare at the dagger in my hand. My dagger should cause no harm if they truly did not deserve it. My dagger should cause no harm to someone I wish to heal. Why is it, they say the dagger will cause her death? I do not wish her death. “Mother.” I sob kneeling at her side.
She pulls my dagger so I am holding it correctly. “It is time.” Mother moves the dagger so it hovers above her chest in the place Grandfather suggested. I sniffle blinking past the tears so I can see her. But her strength as failing as she is manages to move the dagger into position.
The moment it breaks her skin, I release the dagger covering my mouth. “No.”
“Kura. Please drive it deeper. It will only hurt until you do this for me.”
“But then you’ll die.” I cry at her. “I can’t do that to you.”
Mother grunts while finding my hand again. She holds it tightly. “This is my last request from you, Child. I need you to offer me this. My end is here.” She moves my hand into position.
My eyes close as I touch the dagger- my dagger. Another hiccup hits me as my hand pushes the dagger down into Mother. She did it. She made me.
The power releases from Mother is a wave. Much similar to the previous time. But no plants form around me. I can handle it this time. I watch as my fingernails switch between green, red, and black. The tears slip down my cheek as I switch the colors of my hands to match each season. Each one has purpose and meaning. I gulp looking at the corpse where my dagger rests.
I grip the dagger tightly this time and remove it from the body. Death. I savor the feeling. The loss. The pain.
Mother always hated death. It hurts to have something you love die. I know that. I’ve watched enough of life to know that. Even more when love is formed between two.
Her soul has disappeared, destroyed on purpose, gone. And I… I watch my hands switching out colors and types until a spirit stands at my back.
“You did the right thing, Child.” Grandfather says. I gulp staring at the corpse again. “This is only your first requirement.”
Grandfather nods moving to touch the body not that a spirit can truly touch anything. “We need to remove her.”
“I’ll do it.” I speak up staring at the spider silk wrapping. Her body would decay if left here. But what if I placed her in a zone without life and death? A zone absent and void of everything?
“You know what should be done,” Grandfather says as I lift the body up.
I do know. But I don’t want to. I can’t lose her yet. Even if all I have is a corpse.
I gulp squeezing the body of my mother closer to me. “It is my decision.” I teleport. It has never been my preference of spells, but the void cannot be accessed any other way.