Chapter 39. Write a Novel Challenge.
When she roused back to consciousness, she was no longer in the hospital room.
No, she was in the Tutumni; a strange, sulking smile morphed the tip of her lips. ‘When was the last time I smiled …’ she wondered. She found her mind drowning, back into the oblivion she had left only a few days earlier. A voice gingerly whispered into her ear: “Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to the Tutumni.”
“The what?” replied Neina, remnants of her dish escaping the confines of her mouth.
Staring disdainfully at her, he continued, “The Tutumni. As you previously may have noticed, this region is one of relative safety. It will protect you from any occurrences beyond its reach.”
She was remembering…
She felt a dire sensation of pain, everything had happened so fast. Had Janus sent her here? Wasn’t Janus with Frankie and Ryder? Wasn’t he stabbed? What had happened?
She was a fool, wasn’t she? Her arrogance, her pride and her desperate desire for vengeance had started to constrict her thoughts and understanding. She too had, finally, come to this realisation.
Charlotte. The name had become one that tormented her.
Voices started to run around her head.
“You wanted to save her, didn’t you?”
“It’d be an ambush…. that’s what Janus said. And it was. What if it’ll be one again?”
“Isla is preying on your mind, a mind which you yourself don’t understand…”
“There is just a minor chance.”
“Isn’t that what you said before”.
“Isla is preying on your mind, a mind which you yourself don’t understand.” Those words reverberated around the insides of her brain.
“Isla is preying on your mind …” The words really struck her hard. Neina was fighting a war that she was losing; she was fighting a war for which she was too weak. This was a war in which she was being manipulated so she could finish herself.
She hadn’t attacked yet, not once. Instead, she has consistently run away from the truth presented to both her and Isla. But what did Isla do? She did attack. Isla rained flaming arrows down on her at every turn. Every word Isla said she said was an attack…. An attack on her very mind.
Whenever Isla had said that the she would kill her, she weakened Neina by playing with her wrath and her arrogance. Neina was full of pride; she expected victory despite doing nothing to justify or secure it. Isla had realised this and used it to ‘damage’ Neina’s mind, twisting Neina’s anger and vengefulness revenge to the point that it clouded her common sense. Neina had irrationally fallen for all of Isla’s traps and damaged only herself.
This realisation hit her as a hammer hits an anvil.
She observed the terrain around her in the Tutumni; the vast sierra upon which families of Tanoak trees were haphazardly scattered. The peaceful environment seemed almost like a mere myriad, juxtaposing near perfectly with her abject loneliness.
She returned to her thoughts; it was her turn to attack, her turn to strike. She must now act. Thinking swiftly, Neina decided that she would steal Isla’s own dagger and use it against her. She would impale Isla’s on its blade.
Isla had always been one step ahead of her. Now it was her turn to control destiny and to take her revenge on Isla for all that she done to ruin her life.
“Ruin her life ….” Those words hurt her and she found her mind constricting. She thought of how perfect, how amazing, how extravagant her life was before Isla. Now it was a ruin. She would, must, now avenge everyone whose life, like hers, had been flipped into turmoil; Janus, her Mother, Freya, Charlotte and the hundreds of others.
This time she wouldn’t let herself be a victim to pride or simply imagine for revenge.
In the far distance, she saw something approaching, some sort of a monster… It was a …goblin. It looked familiar, as if she had seen it before. Had she dreamed it? She smiled as the name of the goblin came to her. Pride.
Memories flooded her consciousness. She remembered the riddle. She remembered how she had struggled with it.
Then, behind the monster, followed other beings, each shimmering with the same green hues of the goblin.
As the goblin approached it coughed and, then, spoke: “I come here with regards from Queen Freya’s heir; Gersemi. She wishes to aid you in your battle against Isla, as did her mother.”
Neina’s face crinkled as her perplexity grew. She didn’t remember Freya telling her anything about an heir. A strange, uncomfortable feeling started to form in her stomach…
She wasn’t feeling good about this. Any of this ….
The monster continued: “She summons you to her palace. There you will be greeted with the utmost respect. You deserve this much. I have been sent with my men to ensure your safety until you reach the safety of her castle.”
Neina struggled to find the words to reply but could only find the strength to nod mundanely. Eventually she whispered simply. “I will come because I know it is my duty.”
Gunshots rang out. The Goblin crashed to the floor. It was dead. A large bloodied hole where the bullet had entered its head made that certain. The same fate befell its compatriots as the shots ricocheted around her.
Neina looked intently around her, searching for the slightest of clues as to where the shots had come from. The remaining goblins, startled, drew swords in defence.
More shots rang out and the remaining goblins fell. All of them.
Neina was scared. She was overwhelmed by it. Devastated.
Panicking, she walked backwards.
Her head met the barrel of shotgun. ‘Now it’s Isla’s turn to kill you.’
She turned around and gasped…
It was Janus.
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