Part V


36


-in which jenna realises a lot of things-


if ever you despise your life,
take a look at morgan and his sister.
their lives are twisted beyond belief,
beyond existence, beyond death,
and beyond time.
they are not of the living,
and yet death repels them.
your curse is nothing compared to theirs.

-x-

As soon as those words left her mouth, Jenna was instantly stabbed with a foreboding feeling of fear and panic. Her eyes widened and she gasped aloud, her body shaking almost instantly. No matter how much she faked that feeling of courage, she just couldn't bring herself to actually accept that she was going to have to return to Alexandria.

She would have to see her dead father again. Just the thought of that was already having her in hysterics.

"Jen?" Eidan laid a hand on her shoulder, his eyebrows furrowing in worry. "You're not ready yet. Don't force yourself."

"N-No," Jenna mumbled. "I have to. There's no other way-"

He shook his head. "Just… wait. Not now. You look like you're about to burst into tears. We can go later. You just need time to… accept it."

But what if she didn't want to accept it? Was it so bad to wish to block out the pain and live in her delusional world instead? She nearly scoffed at that thought. She was just running away from her problems – which was what Eidan had exactly been doing a couple of days ago. And she had been urging him to get over it. Jenna was just a hypocrite.

"I'll go with you instead too," Mana told her. "Unless… you want to go with Zeph – but he won't be helpful in that sort of situation-"

"Thanks, Mana." Zeph rolled his eyes.

Jenna nodded. It was nice of them to consider her feelings but it did little to help her. She felt pathetic.

Biting her lip, she took a deep breath and met Morgan's cold eyes. He stood there, waiting silently, a look of boredom almost flitting across his features.

"I'll go now. With Mana." Jenna ignored Eidan's frown. She couldn't afford to wait now; she would just use the time as an excuse to talk herself out of it.

The prince nodded, motioning his hand towards the bright tunnel of light. "Only one may go at a time. The Shadow and the thief will have to wait here whilst you're in Alexandria."

Jenna couldn't stop nodding. If she spoke, her voice would shake and then they would all be certain that she was scared witless. All too quickly, she found herself standing in front of the bright tunnel. She ignored her pounding heart. She ignored the ringing in her ears. She ignored the lump in her throat. She could do this.

Closing her eyes, she stepped forward into the light.

With her eyes still shut, all she could feel was the rushing of air around her, roaring in her ears and thrashing against her body. It got louder and louder until she had to cover her ears, resisting the urge to open her eyes. The wind got stronger and she felt her legs stumbling, struggling to keep herself from staying in position.

Eventually, the rushing weakened, hushing down into a whisper of a breeze in her ears. Jenna released a sigh of relief, uncovering her ears and slowly opening her eyes.

She was back in her room.

It was the same as before. Despite the fact that it was dark and gloomy, everything remained the same. Untouched toys and dolls littered her table and drawers. The bed was unmade; white silky blankets all tangled with each other, as if it was just yesterday when she had last slept on that very bed.

She sighed, eyeing the white dresses that lay on the floor. She remembered rushing around the room on the morning of her birthday. She remembered tripping over the same dresses, cursing her habit of throwing everything onto the floor. She remembered how she thought it would just be any old birthday. She remembered looking forward to the next day. She remembered being so clueless.

"Jenna?" Mana's voice pulled her away from her thoughts. Jenna turned to the elf, noting the look of wariness on her face.

"We should go and find that sceptre," Mana suggested, shooting her a small smile.

Shakily, Jenna ripped her eyes away from her room and nodded. She had to stay focused.

"Do you have any idea where this sceptre might be?" Mana asked her, scanning her room with a clueless grimace on her face.

Jenna shook her head. She had never in her life heard her parents mention anything about a sceptre. She was pretty certain the only weapons they had in their palace were swords and bows… Besides, Eidan used to be a blacksmith's apprentice. She remembered that. Even with her memory still being hazy, she could remember pestering him during his working hours and he had never had to forge a sceptre or anything of that sort…

She sighed. This was silly. Jenna cracked her knuckles, watching as Mana winced at the sound.

"Let's go and check the forgery. Maybe there's a sceptre there?" Jenna shrugged. It was a wild guess but that was all she could think of right now. Besides, the forgery was no where near the ball room, and therefore, she could avoid seeing everyone…

Mana nodded. "Alright, lead the way."

Jenna led her down the corridors, trying to ignore the horrifying images of the place that was once her home. Unlike her room, the corridors were infested with thorns that ripped through the marble walls. They twined and tangled, as if pointing her to the very source of the curse.

It's like my dreams.

That thought stopped her. This was like her dreams. The thorns were here, and so were the darkness and the fear. She shook her head. No. This wouldn't end up like her nightmares. She wouldn't find Eidan here, staring at her with his cursed eyes. And she certainly wouldn't find Lucan with a gun, ready to shoot straight at her head. No.

In order to distract herself, she turned to Mana.

"Why did you help us get to Farria, by the way?" she hesitantly asked. "I'm just curious."

Mana was silent at first, simply staring at her from the corner of her eyes instead of actually responding. "Well… I don't exactly know where to start."

"Is it because of…Ophelia?" Jenna slowly said, watching the elf's reaction very carefully.

Surprisingly, all Mana did was shrug. "I'm very aware of what Celeste did in the past and although Ophelia despises her to no end… I'm not going let that control me right now. My life is my life and no matter what happened ten thousand years ago, I'm going to do what I want to do."

My life is my life.

Jenna couldn't help but feel a heavy sense of respect for Mana. What she said made sense. All this time, she herself had rejected Celeste in fear that the goddess may take over her life more than she already did… But it was futile. Resisting Celeste would do nothing. She would die either way if the curse wasn't broken soon.

"I just want this curse broken," Mana said. "Throughout all of Ophelia's reincarnations, she's had to watch Aphyron die over and over."

Her voice trailed off and she stopped walking. Jenna frowned, staring at the elf as she gazed at the marble walls with an empty expression.

"Thirty years after the Great War, Ophelia was reincarnated into this princess who ran away from her home, in search of adventure and freedom. She bumped into Aphyron's reincarnation, who was also a prince running away from his home. It was a large coincidence, of course, but they inevitably fell in love." Mana smirked, falling deeply into her almost dreamlike trance. Jenna did nothing but listen.

"But in the end, they got caught by their own parents. And for some reason, both of their kingdoms feuded with each other afterwards. The prince tried to find Ophelia again – he even ran all the way to her own palace. However, he died. He got shot straight through the heart by one of Ophelia's brothers. And Ophelia saw it all."

Jenna felt her jaw dropping. She was just about to offer her condolences or something like that, but Mana kept on talking.

"And in 62AW, Ophelia was reincarnated into a princess who was arranged in a marriage with Aphyron's descendant. The descendant died when he got a sudden illness that refused to go away. Eleven years after that in 73AW, Ophelia had to walk into Aphyron's room and she found that he had committed suicide by hanging himself-"

Jenna gasped-

"- and in 82AW, Aphyron died in a fire. Ophelia tried to do everything to save him, but he suffered too much from his burns. Now, ninety four years after the Great War - which is also about ten thousand, one hundred and thirty two years after the fall of the First World and the creation of the Second World and the curse – we have… us." Mana pointed to herself, bitterness filling her green eyes.

"Zeph is my best friend and he's dying right now. And don't look at me like that. I'm not clueless, Jenna. I know he's dying. I expect it now. It always happens at about this age."

Jenna frowned. "But… if you knew, then why did you leave him? And how do you know all this? All of those years? And the First World? We rarely have books about it-"

"It's all Ophelia thinks about. She's constantly plagued with memories of Aphyron dying – it's all she knows. And in a way, through Ophelia, I've lived during those times. When the Gods tricked Celeste and Caelum, they destroyed the First World, didn't they? And afterwards, the Second World was created and us four were dumped into it. We had to restart the world as a form of redemption or some sick twisted lesson. I'm not sure." Mana waved her hand, her lips curling as she changed the subject.

"And I was hoping to try and break the curse without having to get Zeph involved. Another part of my curse is to have everyone run after me, so Zeph would just be in more danger if he were nearby… And it doesn't help that Ophelia's descendants always have green hair that's like noticeable as hell. I can't even buy hair dye because the owners would recognise-"

Jenna nodded quickly. Now that Mana seemed to be rambling about her hair instead of the actual curse, it was probably a good idea to start focusing back on the task at hand. "We should go look for the sceptre now," she said, resuming their walk along the corridor.

As they walked on, Jenna was still thinking about what Mana said. The elf had been willing to give up her friendship with Zeph just for the possibility of being able to break the curse. "You said that you were trying to break the curse before. You couldn't have possibly known how to do it, and I don't think you could have broken it on your own-"

"I know that," Mana said. "I was planning on hunting down the other descendants and perhaps… just find a way to break the curse then. I suppose the fact that we all ended up in Cardamonia was kind of lucky."

They finally arrived in front of the forgery and Jenna considered their conversation about the curse over. She twisted the doorknob open, wincing once it creaked open. Slipping inside, Jenna was glad to find that there wasn't anything that looked too traumatic in this room.

It didn't actually look like it had any sceptres in it either though. Nevertheless, she still searched every shelf, squinting her eyes in the near darkness. Mana did the same, even resorting to tipping out any drawers and emptying most of the cupboards.

"Nope," Mana concluded after a while. "There's nothing here."

Jenna physically deflated. Where else could they find a sceptre? A sceptre of light, to be precise? Surely, her parents must have known about it… Her mother was always such a preacher of knowledge and books, and Jenna remembered how boring it was whenever she used to spout out facts and-

Wait. Books.

Books.

She gasped out loud, clasping both her hands together. "The library! It must have something about a sceptre there!"

Mana's face lit up. "Yeah, great idea!"

Although, the more Jenna thought about it, the more she despised the idea. The library was nearby the ball room. She would have to walk past that darn place and see everything. There was no avoiding it.

"What's wrong?" Mana asked her when she fell silent.

Jenna shook her head. "It's nothing. Come on, let's hurry to the library!" Before the elf could say anything, Jenna tugged her by her wrist and sprinted out of the room.

If she rushed everything then she wouldn't have to think. Everything would be too fast for her to get depressed. She could do this. She could find the sceptre and leave this place. Without crying. She didn't need to make this emotional.

However, as soon as they neared the ball room, Jenna's feet decided they wished to stay rooted to the floor. She found herself slowing down, staring at the ball room with wide eyes. She could see the open door and the thick thorns swarming in like snakes.

And she suddenly realised that it was impossible for her to stay emotionless. She couldn't do this. She didn't want to see it. She didn't want to mourn. She didn't want to accept the fact that her father was dead. Because even if she could break her own curse, how could she possibly fix all of this? Would her palace even return to normal once everything was over? How could she possibly return to her old life?

"Do you want me to… go with you inside the ball room?" Mana's face was full of sympathy and although it was nice of her to worry, it didn't help Jenna feel better.

"I don't think I even want to go inside," Jenna admitted. "I don't have to. The library's just there-"

Mana frowned. "Jenna, you have to accept it. It hurts, yes, but you're never going to feel better if-"

"I don't want-" Jenna stopped. Her voice was already cracking. And she could feel tears blurring her vision.

"You can't run away. It's all we ever do; we run away from our problems because it's easier. Trust me, I do it too. Eidan does it. Zeph does it. Everyone does." Mana sighed. "But we won't get anywhere in life if we're always letting our fears stop us. Jenna, you have to get through this because this is just life. And sometimes, life hurts. But it'll hurt more if you keep running away. You just have to accept it."

Jenna looked away, stubbornly wiping away her tears before they fell down her cheeks. The calmness in Mana's voice wasn't helping. It felt like it was stabbing her straight through the heart with each word she said. It reminded her of whenever her mother told her to behave or act like a proper princess.

And she always hated her mother for doing that. But now, all she wanted to do was cry because Mana was right. Even her mother had been right. Every scolding, every lecture, everything that came out of her mother's mouth was like what Mana was saying now.

You just have to accept it.

She faced the ball room. The darkness loomed before her.

Jenna stepped forward.

"Are you going to-"

Jenna nodded at Mana. "Can you… Can you go to the library instead? I think I would prefer if I was alone."

Mana raised her eyebrows. "Are you sure?"

She nodded before thinking.

Pressing her lips together, Mana stared at her for a few seconds, as if contemplating if it was a good idea or not. In the end, she merely sent her a small smile, and then turned her back and walked towards the library.

Jenna sighed.

She slowly walked inside the ball room. Her whole body was trembling and the sound of her heartbeat was roaring down her ears. She felt nauseous from simply breathing. Everything felt like it was pressing down on her.

Stone statues stared at her, their eyes full of hard bitterness. Some pointed, some cried, some glared, and yet all of them felt like they were staring at her. She saw Lady Amrita, still screaming terror and panic. She saw one of her brothers in mid run, as if trying to escape in futile. She saw children, weeping and bawling as they fell on the floor.

And right in the centre of the room, seated at the largest table, were her parents.

She stopped walking. They were still metres away and yet, she may as well have been standing in front of their faces.

It was hard. It was hard to stare at them. It was hard to stare at them whilst all that ran through her mind were memories of them talking, laughing, scolding her, living.

She wanted to run. Now.

But no. Jenna gritted her teeth, took a deep breath, and walked towards them. Her hand ran over her knuckles, cracking them. It did little to help. The sound of her cracking knuckles echoes throughout the large room, making her wince.

She stopped in front of the table.

Her mother had fainted; a woman forever etched in slumbering stone. Her father stared at her with empty eyes. Dead eyes.

She forced herself to open her mouth and talk. Her voice was hardly recognisable.

"H-Hello, mother, father." She licked her dry lips, her fists clenching so hard that her fingernails dug painfully into her palms.

They said nothing.

What could she say anyway?

She picked anything from her mind, rambling and ignoring how ridiculous her quivering voice sounded.

"I have to get this Sceptre of Light. I-I hope you don't mind. It's for this… curse. Which is killing me – but it's going to be okay. I think. We're going to break the curse and everything's going to be fine again. I'm pretty sure everything will… be back to… normal once this is all over. It's going to be okay because-"

She paused.

What was she saying? She was deluding herself. Nothing would be back to normal once this was all over. Here she was, standing in front of her cursed parents, lying straight through her teeth.

Even with her mother's frozen expression, she could imagine her frowning in disapproval right now.

"I'm scared," Jenna admitted. "I'm scared because I don't know what's happening anymore. I don't know what to do with my life. Every time I try to think of the future, I can't because I just don't know what to expect anymore. I'm only seventeen; this is all too much for me. And I'm scared. I just… I just wish…"

Jenna stopped. She looked away, resting her eyes on the rotten food on the table. Flies swarmed the food like gatherers of death.

"I just wish that I could go back to how things used to be."

As soon as those words left her mouth, she felt as if she had been punched in the gut. A lump formed in her throat and no matter how much she tried to swallow, it remained.

Her parents didn't say anything. They listened.

"I'm sorry," she choked out. Two words that she had never in her life uttered before her parents. "I'm sorry for… not appreciating what I had. I'm sorry for always acting against you both. I'm sorry for not listening. I'm sorry for… I'm sorry for being so spoilt and-"

She didn't want to talk anymore. It hurt too much. Sobs were beginning to rip through her and it wasn't long before the tears followed. It hurt, but perhaps she deserved it. After all these years of taking her parents for granted, she just only had to realise once it was too late.

She took a deep breath, finding courage to look at the again. "I know I wasn't the best daughter, and I know that you two were just strict because you wanted me to grow up as a good person. And I just… I just wanted to say…"

She had to say it. She had to. Jenna wiped her tears away uselessly. More leaked from her eyes.

"Thank you." Her heart clenched. "Thank you for… just being there. Thank you for trying. And I'm just so sorry."

Jenna was a mess. She couldn't even understand herself through all the tears and the sobbing.

"I'll… I'll to be the princess you wanted me to be. And I'll make you proud. Both of you. I'll break this curse and… And I'll do something with my life. I won't run away anymore. I won't take anything for granted. I-I love you both – and I am so sorry for everything I've done. I would give anything for you both to be back right now. Because I need your advice. I just… I'm sorry for being so hard on both of you. I do love both of you and I would do anything-"

She couldn't take it anymore. She was crying too much. Covering her mouth to quieten her sobs, Jenna closed her eyes and tried to calm down. Nothing worked. All she could think of was the time she wasted and how she would never be able to tell them all of this for real. She could never tell her father how much she cared for him. She could never tell him how much she loved growing up with him as they hunted together in the forest. She would never be enveloped by his large hugs ever again. He would never see her grow up. He would never be there for her in the future.

He was gone. He was dead.

She sank to her knees, still crying into her palms. Her tears dripped onto the hard floor and her broken sobs echoed in the room, reminding her alone she was.

By the Gods, this hurt too much. She had never in her life felt this much pain – and she didn't want this anymore. She wanted her life back. She didn't want to live like this anymore. She didn't want to live if it meant living like this.

"Jenna?"

She heard a faint voice in the distance, but she could not care any less. Gentle arms enveloped around her, pulling her into hug, and she smelt nothing but flowers and leaves and earth.

Mana.

"There, there," the elf hummed, shushing her quietly, as if soothing a child. "It's okay, Jenna. Everything will be okay."

Jenna wanted to believe her – she really did – but she couldn't. All she did was sob until her tears ran out. And even though it took ages, Mana just remained there, hugging her as if they had known each other for years and years.

After a while, Jenna finally sat back and wiped away her own tears. Mana smiled at her, helping her stand up. Jenna didn't look back at her parents as they slowly left the ball room. In fact, all she stared at was Mana's hair, and she tried to distract herself by thinking how weird it was to have naturally green hair.

It didn't work. In the end, she ended up looking over her shoulder, gazing at her parents one last time before finally turning away and entering the library.

"I found a book about ancient weapons," Mana told her as soon as she was inside. "It has something about a sceptre with the element of light, but it doesn't say anything about it being here…"

"What does it say?" Jenna asked, staring at the library cluelessly. This thankfully provided her emotions with a much needed distraction. She rarely went inside this room. Jenna hated reading books.

Mana flipped through a fairly thick book, looking similarly as clueless as she did. "Um… It just says that the sceptre gives good fortune to those who use it… And that only those who are pure will be able to find it."

Jenna blinked. "Pure? What do you mean? What does that mean? I'm not pure. How am I supposed to find it?"

Mana shrugged.

"Give me that book!" Jenna snatched the heavy book away from Mana and glared at the darn pages. If this book couldn't help her then she had no other option-

"Is… Is that book glowing?"

She frowned at what Mana said. No, the book looked completely normal-

It flashed a blinding colour of gold. Jenna gasped, nearly dropping the thing on her toes. She clutched the book, staring wide-eyed as it shone the Alexandrian crest on the cover. Golden light burned her eyes and she could actually feel the book shaking.

Wait. No. Everything was shaking. The large bookshelves shook, threatening to rain books on top of their heads. Jenna whirled around, staring in horror as the whole room shuddered before her eyes.

"What's that?" Mana pointed to something beyond them. A bookshelf was turning around, spilling its books onto the floor. Slowly and slowly, it spun until it revealed a thin staircase leading off into absolute darkness.

Jenna exchanged looks with Mana.

No words needed to be said. Both of them ran for the staircase.

Darkness engulfed them. Jenna held the book in front of her, using the light from it to help her see. The room that they were in was narrow and claustrophobic, and she tried her hardest to ignore the cobwebs that she had to walk through.

But ugh, if she laid eyes on a spider, she would not hesitate to massacre it with this book.

She stumbled down the last step. In front of her was a small, circular room. Holding the book above her head, she saw that the floor had the large Alexandrian crest taking up the whole of the room. Intricate golden swirls twisted around the two wings on the crest, almost glowing even in the darkness. She looked up now, and at the centre of the room was a statue. A statue of a girl.

Frowning, she stood in front of it, squinting at the details.

"It looks like… me?" She turned to Mana, finding that the elf was also studying the statue.

"I think it's Celeste," the elf told her, pointing at the hair. "She's got a braid."

Indeed the statue did have a braid. Jenna looked to where the braid ended but something else caught her eye when she looked down.

The statue was holding a sceptre.

A smile tugged on her lips. "The sceptre's here!"

Without wasting anymore time, she gripped the sceptre and tugged it off the statue's grip.

The whole world was engulfed in blinding light.

Jenna wanted to scream but everything happened too quickly. One minute, she was in Alexandria, and the next she was slamming back into the dusty floors of Farria. She choked, holding her stomach as coughs convulsed through her. Instantly, she felt strong arms holding her up, patting gently on her back and asking again and again if she was okay.

Once she regained her surroundings, Jenna hazily looked around her to find Mana, Zeph, and Morgan staring at her. Eidan wrapped an arm around her shoulder and helped her stand up, looking at her with concern-filled eyes.

She held the sceptre towards Morgan. "Here, take it."

The prince took it with no word.

"Wait a second," Zeph slowly said, narrowing his eyes at the sceptre. "I recognise that thing!"

"What?" Jenna squinted at the thief. Zeph was still focusing on the sceptre, and it actually looked like he was about to snatch it from the prince's hands and run off any moment now.

"That's why Armand wanted me to kidnap you. He said that only the Alexandrian princess would be able to find the sceptre of good fortune." Zeph waved his arms unenthusiastically, rolling his eyes and pulling a face.

"Oh…" Jenna nodded slowly. "Does it really give good fortune?"

The Farrian Prince spoke up this time. "Yes. A part of your curse is to be surrounded by bad luck. This sceptre should balance it out."

Morgan turned to Eidan now, still looking as bored as ever. "You'll have to wait a while before you venture into Balandria. I need to make sure that the Dark Abyss will pose no effects on the human going with you."

Eidan nodded, and Jenna couldn't help but see the relief in his eyes.

"Wait in the other rooms," Morgan told all of them.

They had no choice but to do just that.

Eidan led her to the nearest room, ignoring Mana and Zeph who went in the opposite direction. It was a bedroom, draped with dark blue lace that looked like streams of rivers flowing from the ceiling. The paint on the walls was chipped and peeling, revealing cracked white walls through the different colours of blue.

"Are you okay?" Eidan asked her once they both sat down on the bed.

Jenna nodded automatically.

He frowned. "You look like you've been crying."

She had enough energy to smirk. "It was kind of impossible not to cry…"

"We're going to break the curse and free your kingdom, Jenna," Eidan assured her, reaching for her hand.

"I know, I know," she nodded, grasping his hand in hers. "I'll be fine. I think I can do this."

He smiled at her, squeezing her hand. She smiled back, feeling her heart soar at the simple contact.

Now that she had to 'accept' everything now, she allowed herself to think about Eidan. Recently, she had been trying to avoid these thoughts about her best friend. They obviously had other things to worry about – but she couldn't help but think about them. She couldn't help but think about him. He had always been there. Even after she forgot about him, he was still there. He was still here after everything and everyone she lost, and she never wanted him to leave.

The thought of losing Eidan hurt her more than she could describe. Just the thought of him not being in her life…

It was no life. A life without Eidan just didn't seem possible.

Jenna looked at him. It was as if she now saw everything after being blind for her entire life.

She loved his eyes and his hair and his pale skin and his voice. She loved the fact that he was shy. She loved how he sometimes lost his temper. She loved how they argued. She loved his rare smiles and how it always made her feel accomplished whenever she made him smile. She loved the way he said her name. She loved how he always wore black. She loved it when he rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. She loved how he was just as stubborn as her. She loved how his hair covered his eyes sometimes and how she always, always felt like brushing it away. She loved it when he embraced her and how she could bury her head into his neck. She loved everything about him.

She loved him.

"Jenna?" Eidan asked, shaking her slightly. "Are you alright?"

Jenna blinked, shaking out of her thoughts. She suddenly couldn't look at him straight in the eyes. What if he found out? Now wasn't the right time to tell him. They were in the middle of breaking a damn curse and she couldn't get distracted with this now. It was selfish of her to tell him so unexpectedly, especially when Eidan needed to go back to Balandria in a few moments.

"I'm fine," she reassured him, shooting him a quick smile.

He was just about to speak again when Zeph stepped into their room.

"We have to go," he said unenthusiastically to Eidan. "That Morgan prince gave me some weird potion that makes me immune to your curse for a while, so I suppose you can't kill me."

"What a shame," Eidan grumbled under his breath.

Jenna couldn't help but giggle. Upon hearing her laugh, Eidan's expression softened. He smiled at her, standing up and releasing her hand.

"Take care," he told her.

"I should be telling you that," she said.

His smile widened.

"Hurry up!" Zeph groaned from the door.

Sighing, Eidan turned and left the room. Jenna watched as both boys walked off, noticing the large space between them. She was tempted to roll her eyes. There was no way that those two would be able to survive a few minutes without attacking each other…

Footsteps pulled her away from her thoughts. She looked up to find the Farrian Princess leaning on the doorframe, studying her with mismatched eyes.

"Why don't you tell him?" she asked, her lips forming a smile that sent shivers up Jenna's spine.

"Tell who what?" Jenna asked slowly, eyeing the strange girl carefully. She didn't like this girl. She didn't like this girl ever since she very boldly decided to touch Eidan.

The girl laughed lightly, walking into the room. "You should tell Eidan that you love him."

Jenna immediately felt her defences building up.

Another laugh from the girl. "You humans are so funny."

As much as she wanted to ignore her and her silly posh accent, Jenna felt her curiosity spiking up. "Humans? You're not… human?"

The white haired girl shrugged, settling down on a chair beside the bed. She ran a hand over her dark blue dress, plainly ignoring the scowl that Jenna was sending her right now.

"To be honest, I am not quite sure what me and Morgan are…" she mumbled, still twirling her fingers over the silky cloth. "It's hard to keep track after a few centuries and so on…"

Jenna was definitely confused now. "Centuries?"

The girl looked pleased, as if she wanted Jenna to ask that, but she said nothing.

Jenna didn't even care anymore. She was too curious to even care about her pride. "Are you a descendant of the Water Goddess? Are you cursed too?"

She shook her head. "Oh no, the Gods despise us to no end."

That didn't help her questions. "But you're cursed?"

"Perhaps. I wouldn't call it a curse though."

"Why not?"

"It's more like a gift to me and Morgan."

Jenna looked down. If only she could think the same about her curse. Her curse was nothing was a burden that was slowly ruining her life. It was poison to her.

"What's your curse about? How did you get it? What does it do?"

The girl curled her lips. "Aren't you nosy?"

Jenna shrugged.

"It stops time for us," she sighed. "It allows us to live forever… on one condition."

Patiently, Jenna waited.

The girl smiled, prolonging the silence. "Morgan and I cannot set foot outside the walls of this city. If we do, we'll slowly lose our curse."

She couldn't help it. Jenna felt her shoulders drop, her lips pressing together in a thin line. "But… you can't leave this place. That's not a gift."

The girl's smile vanished. "If that is what you think."

It wasn't hard to notice the hint of irritation flashing through the girl's eyes when she said that. Jenna had somehow hit a nerve. "Doesn't it get lonely?"

Again, the girl looked even more irritated. "Of course not. I have my brother. He is all I need."

For a moment, Jenna was distracted yet again. "Why does your brother have two bodies?"

A grimace. "Aah, that is a long story, and I would rather not tell. However, I shall tell you that whilst he's in his older state, he's unable to feel emotion, yet he holds tremendous power. When he's all young and cute, he's able to feel, however his power is extremely weaker. That is why he had to transfer to his older body when you arrived."

Jenna wondered what it must be like to have no emotions. It was strange how this girl considered their curse a gift. Being stuck in one place and not being able to feel emotion? Jenna would despise that. At least with her curse, she could still explore cities and places and fall in love.

"I don't understand why that curse would be a gift then," she admitted, frowning off into space.

The girl sighed. "At least I am not dying."

Jenna turned to her, unable to contain the sense of pity in her mind. "I'd rather die than not live at all."

She received a glare for that.

"Don't you wish you can go outside?" Jenna asked, pointing to the nearest window. "It must get boring in here."

A smirk. "Yes, it does… Hence, we started the war with Ascantha. Watching the humans die over something we caused does provide genuine entertainment."

Horror washed over her. "That's awful! Why would you start-"

The Farrian Princess shook her head. "Technically, the war did not start on my account. Morgan did it. He placed a spell over the residents of this city and Ascantha and forced them to fight over a land they do not even desire."

"Why?"

"Because we were bored." She made it sound like the answer was obvious.

Suddenly, words were spluttering out of Jenna's mouth. This was horrifying. "If you're bored, then you should just leave this place and find some entertainment! Who cares if you're going to die? Everyone dies. It's just unnecessary to use people just so that you can be entertained-"

The girl stood up, slamming the chair on the floor and scowling at her with icy eyes.

"Looking at your life right now and how you have been treated and what you have been through… I don't think I would wish to venture into the outside world," she spat, pointing straight at Jenna. "Reality has destroyed you. You are just on the verge of breaking apart. It will only take something so meagre to rip through your mind. Look at you; flailing over one boy, sobbing over the death of your family… You humans ruin yourselves. Your emotions are your biggest enemies. You strive for freedom and glory and yet when you grasp it, you let it tear your insides apart. It sickens me whenever I see your kind wallow about sadness and heartbreak when in the end; you were the ones who brought it upon yourselves."

The girl dropped her finger, snarling at Jenna with a sheer look of disgust. "You want to know why I stay in here? In here, I am safe. I am alive; I have my family, and my sanity. I do not need your world and its precious freedom. It's not worth it."

To say that Jenna was insulted was an understatement. Who did this girl think she was? Even her explanation was useless. If anything, Jenna felt more irritation towards her. Her reasons were nothing but petty excuses in her ears, and Jenna couldn't help but think that this girl just sounded so… childish.

It reminded Jenna of what she used to be.

And that was what annoyed her.

Jenna rose up, meeting the girl's eyes with an equal glare of her own. "At least I'm alive," she said. "The world might be destroying me but at least I'm not clueless. Despite the fact that I want to give up, at least I can admit that I'm a better person now. Because when I look at you, I see myself. I see a spoilt, naïve girl who's curious about the outside world, and yet she's too scared to step too far."

She advanced on the girl, stepping closer and closer until they were practically face to face. "You think you're safe? You're not safe. You're hiding in your own home. How can that possibly be safety? You're scared of death even though it's impossible for you. And because of that, you can't see what's outside this place. You can't see how beautiful it is out there. You and your brother; you're virtually ghosts. You don't exist in this world. Let me tell you this; even though I'm dying right now and no matter how messed up my life is, I pity you. You haven't lived. At least I have."

There was silence. The Farrian Princess did nothing but scowl. However, Jenna could see that her fists were trembling. And her eyes, which seemed so cold and bitter at the start, were now moist.

"You don't know anything," she hissed.

Jenna's expression softened. "Neither do you."

There was more silence. The girl no longer stared at her. Her eyes were now averted down, her lips pursed together. Then, a small laugh spilled from her; barely audible and without emotion. "You should go and rest," she said, walking past her.

Staring after her, Jenna couldn't help but feel sympathy. Even though this girl was basically immortal, she was still stuck in the mind of a child's. This girl was exactly like Jenna. She was just scared of reality.

"What's your name?" Jenna asked.

The girl looked over her shoulder, smiling half-heartedly. "Gwen."

All Jenna did was nod. Gwen left the room, shutting the door quietly once she did.

Sighing, Jenna sat back down on the bed and rubbed her arms. There were suddenly goose-bumps along her skin, prickling her flesh and causing her to shiver in the emptiness of this room.

Perhaps she did need to rest. Today had been a long day, and she felt physically and emotionally drained. Sinking into the bed, she stared up at the ceiling and wondered how Eidan was doing.

She hoped he would be okay.

Once her thoughts bounced on Eidan, that silly realisation hit her again. This time, with more force than earlier. It actually managed to send a wedge of fear into her heart.

Jenna sat up, biting her lip in worry.

She was in love with her best friend.

Damn it.

-x-

gwen is right.
emotions are a human's downfall.
don't worry,
i'll prove it soon enough.


What a depressing chapter.