Sypheros 3, 1423
“Eir, what’s this place?” Ellyria asked innocently as she thumbed her lower lip. She and Eiremis stood in front of the elaborate wrought iron gateway leading into Dorian Park.
Eiremis’ breath was caught in his throat as he watched Ellyria’s eyes ask the question again. “It’s a park.”
“What do you do in a park?”
The wizard let out a slow exhale, shifting his fingers absent-mindedly in his coat pockets before answering, “You take walks, and watch animals in their natural environments.”
Ellyria’s eyes shifted back toward the gate, “Can we go in?” she asked, with an almost childish inflection punctuating her words.
Eiremis swallowed his immediate response and cleared his throat. He was doing his best to buy himself enough time to come up with an excuse not to go.
Finally, Eiremis wavered and gave her a nod. Happily, Ellyria wrapped her arms around Eiremis’ right arm and kept pace with him gingerly. She smiled brightly as she looked around. If not for what transpired here, Eiremis would just as likely be infatuated with the park’s natural beauty. The crescent-shaped moon hanging in the sky shimmered in the fountain. Ellyria watched the gleaming moonlight in the water as Eiremis looked around. His eyes came to a rest on the tree that he could so clearly remember holding his head up just enough to watch the night-walking murderers have their way with Branwen. The image flashed in his mind as he recalled it.
Calling him back into the present, Eiremis could hear Ellyria’s words behind him, “Is something wrong, Eir?”
Without turning, Eiremis shook his head. “I’m fine.”
The time the two of them had spent together since he rescued her from Marius’ holding cell did much to teach Ellyria about Eiremis’ moods. It was obvious to her that something was bothering him, but she knew him well enough that it would be better if she didn’t press the matter. After a few more moments, Ellyria was finished scouring the landscape for things of interest and she turned to Eiremis, “You want to go home?”
With that, they were off, walking back to the Weaver mansion. Everything fell into place just like before, only this time, Eiremis’ senses were not clouded by his love for the woman he was with. On the contrary, something inside him was charging him. His magic surging through his body like a current. His pupils dilated until his green irises were almost completely obscured. All of Eiremis’ senses were on edge, to the absolute extent of a human’s capabilities. Tack, tack, tack. He heard them coming. He could practically smell their lust as it thickened the air. He turned just in time to see his assailant change his course of attack. Foregoing his blackjack in favor of his knuckles, his attacker planted a firm fist in Eiremis’ jaws. Eiremis staggered backwards before he felt the second fist find its place in his stomach. For all of his alertness, he was still caught off guard by the attack. Still just as helpless as he had been on the night of Branwen’s death. He felt the weight of three men move to hold him down. He could hear Ellyria cry out in the distance as two men began ripping her clothes off.
A familiar voice echoed in the night air, “What are the odds?” The voice laughed. “You even brought us another bitch. How thoughtful.”
Eiremis caught a glimpse of the man who was speaking from between two of the men who were restraining him. Red hair. He looked frantically down at the man’s hand: the tell-tale signs of stitches surrounded one of the man’s fingers. It was the same man. Anger rushed over him and he struggled against the men holding him down. He couldn’t move. He was still too weak. His physical might was no match for that of three full-grown men.
He stopped struggling and a wave of calm came over him. Closing his eyes, Eiremis channeled his power through his own body. The muscles of his captors tensed violently and their flesh began to burn as Eiremis continued to pour electricity into their bodies. With a final jolt, Eiremis blew the mens bodies to the side and stood up. Raw energy poured from his fingertips and sparks danced from his eyes. The two men holding Ellyria down stood up and drew their knives, charging the wizard blindly. Before their third step, a bolt of lightning burned through the air toward them. The man in front felt his body separate at the shoulders. The man in back didn’t have enough time to process the pain that Eiremis inflicted upon him. All of the electricity concentrated itself into his body before discharging violently, spraying the surroundings with pieces of charred flesh and various parts of his viscera.
Then Eiremis set his sights on the red-haired man. He was backing away slowly, begging profusely for forgiveness. Another step, but with no ground beneath it. Eiremis’ fingers flicked upward, commanding his magic to lift the red-haired man into the air. Another flick slammed the man’s body into a nearby tree. Eiremis approached slowly, using his other hand to call one of the other mens knives to his grasp. A clenching of his other fist pulled the man’s body tightly across the tree’s trunk. Eiremis then proceeded to torture him. He started things off by castrating him. He twisted the weapon into the wound, taking care to make sure that nothing short of the most powerful curative magic could possibly restore its function. Next, he slid the man’s body down and began slicing off the his fingers. The red-haired man continually begged Eiremis to stop. Then, Eiremis broke his legs. The man’s pleas were practically incoherent as Eiremis exacted revenge on him. It wasn’t long after that when the man passed out from his wounds. Eiremis waited a moment to give the situation some thought. As much thought as he could muster in his adrenaline-fueled state. The electricity dancing across his limbs faded away as he pulled a piece of parchment from his coat. Taking the man’s severed finger, Eiremis scrawled a note onto the parchment, “A wrong has been righted. May she now rest in peace.”
His missive complete, he took the knife and plunged it through the parchment and into the tree for everyone to see and wiped his bloody fingertips off on the man’s shirt. Eiremis turned to see Ellyria cowering pitifully, pushing herself away from him with a look of terror in her eyes. The scene shot through Eiremis like an arrow. Almost instantaneously, his anger was extinguished and a look of hurt replaced the calm on his face. His breath was caught in his throat, but he managed to speak, “I’m sorry.”
He stumbled backward a few steps and turned around. Within moments, he felt Ellyria’s body touch his back and her arms wrap around him. Turning back toward her, Eiremis embraced her as well and she buried her sobs in his chest. They remained there for only a few moments before Eiremis felt the need to put as much distance as he could between himself and this place. Wrapping his cloak around Ellyria’s body to cover the places exposed by her tattered clothes, Eiremis led her back to the mansion. Eiremis knew that there was only one way he could make Ellyria understand and took her straight to Branwen’s room.
“Ellyria, this room belonged to the woman I was supposed to marry,” he paused, wiping some dust from the mirror at Branwen’s desk. “Our wedding was scheduled for the 27th day of Eyre. Greengrass—a holiday. A day for happiness.” Eiremis sat down in the ornate padded chair positioned in front of Branwen’s desk. “But those men, they attacked us the night before. We were walking through the park, minding ourselves and nothing else. They tried the same thing tonight and…there was just no way I was going to let it happen. Not again. You remind me of her…” Eiremis cradled his forehead in his palms, resisting the urge to cry.
He felt Ellyria’s hands come to a rest on his back and someone spoke, but it wasn’t Ellyria’s voice. “I love you Eiremis. No matter what,” he heard Branwen’s voice say.
Eiremis looked up expectantly to see Ellyria standing there, doing her best to comfort him. “I understand it now. I’m sorry I acted that way, but now I know why you act the way you do around me.”
The two of them spent the next several hours in that room. Eiremis made his way around the room, telling Ellyria about Branwen. The oddest details, like her particular way of laughing. Eventually, they found their way out of the room and to their own bedrooms. It wasn’t long until they were both fast asleep.
The next morning, they both woke early and went out for breakfast. As they made their way through the town, they heard the rumors rush through the commoners. Talking about the gruesome killings in the park and the note that was left. The rumors compacted the memories of the event in Eiremis’ mind, prompting his silence throughout most of the morning.