Twin sisters born under an ill-fated prophecy that could bring about the end of all things
Sisters of Fate
Lady Joanne got down on her knees, tears streaming down her face. The twins clung to their mother fearful eyes wide and uncomprehending of what was unfolding before them. “Please my lord spare them they are innocent children - they can't harm anyone,” Joanne pleaded.
Lord Kildon was not unsympathetic to Joanne’s pleas as he stood looking down at his former wife and children, but he had a duty to perform. “It has taken five years to track you down. It would have been better if I had killed them then; it was hard for me too. We could’ve had more children to compensate, in time you would have gotten over it,” he paused, closing his eyes tight his whole body shook. “I must do what the king commands of me.”
Joanne stared at lord, Kildon her eyes wide in disbelief tears continued to flow unchecked; she shook her head vigorously and screamed at him. “How could I ever forget my own that I gave birth to and how could you say, such when they are your own flesh and blood.”
Lord Kildon bowed his head in sadness, unable to look directly at Joanne; he clenched his teeth, his jaw locked tight with determination, his expression pained. “You know what the prophet said at their birth as well I; it could mean the end of all we know if they live,” he paused. To look away with a sigh then turned back to face Joanne; I will offer you now what I was going to provide you with then if you hadn't run away with the children. I will take Anabel with me to live in Maraka. I will raise her well I promise, and she will want for nothing under my protection, but Collete must die I’m sorry.”
Joanne clasped her hands together in supplication head bowed to the floor, “Please I beg you in the name of what we once had let Collete live. I will make sure she stays here quietly no one else need know. She will not go far from here, and will never go near Maraka; they will never meet, I promise.”
Lord Kildon bowed his head torn between compassion for his own blood, a duty to the throne and the possibility of a prophecy that may spell doom for all. “Nothing is that certain it may never happen. No one can know for sure, can they? I just have to make sure they never meet in the future bring back Anabel and proof that Collete is dead.” He closed his eyes coming to a decision hoping he wouldn’t live to regret it. “Am I right you have goats? I thought I spotted some round the back,” he asked urgently.
Joanne looked up still sobbing she wiped tears from her face confused by the sudden change in Kildon’s manner and the oddity of the question. “Y... Yes, but why... Why? Ask me that at a time like this.”
Lord Kildon grabbed Joanne staring into her eyes he shook her, “Start screaming! Call out for me to spare Collete,” Kildon drew his sword pushing past Joanne and the children. “Scream, damn it woman scream as loud as you can.”
Joanne, at last, comprehended what Kildon intended she screamed begged and pleaded until she was hoarse. Lord Kildon returned with a blood-soaked sack. “You must promise to keep her away from the capital they should never meet in this life again.”
Joanne nodded and bowed her head relieved but still sorrowful she would never see Anabel again, “I promise, we will live quietly here. Collete will never go near the capital.”
Lord Kildon grabbed Anabel, wrenching her away from the mother. Joanne started weeping again, falling to her knees. Kildon hefted Anabel on to his shoulder with one arm; in his other hand, the bloody sack with the heart of a goat, in which he hoped to deceive his men and ultimately the king. The child struggled to break free, crying her small hands, reaching for her mother as Kildon turned to leave. Joanne looked on tears streaming down her face with a vacant look in her eyes. Lord Kildon clenched his teeth, shutting his eyes tight a moment, pretending not to hear the weeping of the mother and child. Nor did he look back his decision made he prayed no one would look too closely at the blood-soaked sack; otherwise, they all would die himself included.
After a long journey back to the capital Maraka, lord Kildon safely ensconced Anabel in his mansion with a wet nurse to look after her. He took the now dried and shrivelled heart dropping it at the king's feet. The king wrinkled his nose at the stench coming from the sack.
Lord Kildon bowed, “The deed is done majesty, and I have brought the proof, the heart of the other child.”
King Peldon looked down at the sack in disgust, “Did you have to bring that here, Nathan. I trust your word. I suppose this is to make me regret what I commanded of you is it? Is this your way of punishing me,” the king paused sighing. “Very well I’m full of remorse and regret I know it has been hard for you, please take this away. Bury it somewhere pleasant if you so wish. So that you may pay your respects if needed.”
Lord Kildon bowed, picking up the sack again his expression carefully blank. About to leave the king spoke further, “How is the other girl... Anabel is it?”
“She is fine, I have a wet nurse attending her,” Nathan replied.
The king sighed, looking closely at his old friend, “Good, Good, at least she will be some comfort for you. Raise her well, Nathan.” The king said, waving a hand for Nathan to leave.
As Nathan Kildon left to return to his mansion, one thought went through his head, “What about Joanne? She would have no one to console her if I hadn’t spared Collete.”
Twenty Three Years Later
Anabel sat on a wooden bench in the garden admiring the many flowers growing and blooming even this late in the season. The garden was her favourite place, where she could sit in solitude alone with her thoughts. Anabel looked back at the mansion to see if anyone entered the garden. Seeing she was still alone, she took a deep breath closing her eyes. She concentrated reaching out, with her mind and senses; seeking for that tell-tale sign. The sign that will tell her the whereabouts of her sister. She knew Collete lived despite what her father told her over the years. An inseparable bond existed between the two that no one else knew about. Anabel wasn’t even sure if Collete knew, but Anabel did she could feel the connection faint but always there. If Collete were to die, Anabel would know about it.
“There! I sensed something it must be her,” she concentrated harder. Collete finally began to take notice of her; she heard a faint questioning voice bemused yet aware. “Who?”
Anabel heard footsteps approaching from behind she cursed breaking the link next time they would be able to communicate she was sure.
“Father, what brings you home at this early hour?” Anabel asked curiously. She knew her father’s duties usually kept him at court till late; seldom did he return early. She studied his careworn features his hair turned white now with a faint scar on his left cheek. He still posed a commanding figure in his uniform; his back unbent and piercing grey eyes.
Lord Kildon cleared his throat before speaking. “The king wishes to see you, Anabel, he has a task for you.”
Anabel frowned, “Don’t tell me it’s Rodrick, he has gone missing, again and I have to find him and drag him back once more.”
Lord Kildon nodded with a sigh, “You are the only one the prince pays any attention to.”
“That’s because he fears me more than anyone else, he thinks I might turn him into a toad or something worse with my magic.” Anabel scoffed, shaking her head.
As expected the king requested Anabel to find his wayward son and bring him back. By the scruff of the neck if necessary the king said. It hadn’t taken her long to figure out Rodrick’s whereabouts. She dismounted and tied her horse to the wooden post outside the brothel. The four soldiers accompanying her dismounted and waited. She didn’t really need them, she could easily manage the prince on her own, but the king insisted they accompany her. The town of Taryn Hill was only a short ride from Maraka and a known location for the prince to frequent. Anabel turned to the corporal leading the men. “Wait here I call if I need you.”
“Yes My lady.” The corporal replied, crisply standing to attention. Having escorted her on several occasions, he knew Anabel well and her capabilities. He, for one, didn’t wish to go against her orders; despite the king insisting that he and his men should protect her. He felt sorry for the prince once Anabel found him.
Anabel entered the brothel. The ground floor was a spacious gaudily decorated room in reds and maroon colours. Several paintings of scantily dressed women adorned the walls. One painting that caught Anabel’s eye seemed out of place in such an establishment; was of a sunset with the sun going down over a mountainside. The floor was polished wood. Men sat drinking at tables talking with the women while the harlots sat either with their arms around the men or sat on the men’s knees, laughing and making lewd remarks. A mixture of stale beer and cheap perfume filled the air. Anabel wrinkled her nose as she scanned the room. She caught sight of a buxom middle-aged woman sat on her own at the far end of the room. The woman had long fair hair tied up at the back and held in place with an elaborate hairpin. She wore a frilly pink full-length dress. The woman noticed Anabel, rising from where she sat, walked towards where Anabel stood.
“Hello dear, I’m madam Telina. You must be new here I’ve not seen you before. What can I do for you?” She smiled suggestively.
Anabel didn’t answer straight away; instead, she took note of the wide stairs leading up to the second floor before bringing her gaze back to madam Telina. “I’m looking for someone.”
Madam Telina's smile grew wider, “aren’t we all dear.”
Anabel stared coldly at the woman in such a way that Telina took an involuntary step back. “A well-known individual of royal heritage.”
Selina's smiled dropped, and she became agitated; her voice tremored a little as she spoke. “Ah, I am not sure who mean,” she paused, moving closer to Anabel she lowered her voice to a whisper. “ Second floor, room five.”
Anabel nodded, leaving Telina standing she headed to the stairs. One or two men glanced her way but quickly looked away again, seeing the expression on her face. Anabel exuded an aura of self-confidence and authority that none dared gainsay. Anger rose within her; it had been building ever since she left the capital. She was fed up of always having to chase after the prince and covering for his promiscuous behaviour. Anabel stopped at the top of the stairs scanning the door numbers she turned left walked slowly along a narrow corridor observing the room numbers 1.. 2.... 5. Anabel stopped with a gesture of her hand the door flew open.
The prince bolted upright from under the bedsheets about to protest for the interruption. The harlot with him gave a startled yelp. On seeing Anabel, he swallowed what he was going to say, mouth dropping open, his face turning pale. “Ah, my lady Anabel...”
Before he could say more, Anabel raised a hand, the bed tipped on its side spilling the occupants on to the floor. The woman screamed, grabbed her clothes and ran from the room. The prince grabbed his pants quickly, pulling them on. Seeing Anabel momentarily distracted by the harlot the prince made an attempt to escape out the window; just managing to open it when he found himself frozen in place unable to move.
“Shall I turn you into a toad your highness,” Anabel said in a icy tone.
Although he feared Anabel a little, the prince choked it down indignation rising at being treated so poorly. “You go too far Anabel, remember whom you are speaking to.”
The prince found himself lifted off the floor and slammed against the sidewall. This time the fear did get the better of him. He stared in terror at Anabel as he slumped to the floor dazed.
Anabel realised anger was getting the better of her. She took a breath and calmed herself. “I’m sorry your highness I overstepped my authority,” she paused sighing, she bowed to the prince. “Please get dressed so that we can return to Maraka. Your father is anxious to have you back safe at the palace.”
Sometime later after Anabel spoke to madam Telina to be discreet and giving her plenty of coin to assure her silence. She headed back with her escort and the prince in tow.
Collete sat by a broad stream the water splashing over the rocks to make ripples and occasionally foaming as it meandered along its course. She could see fish hiding in the shallows amongst the weed. A fish occasionally darted from hiding into the open then back again. Some few swam openly in the stream. Collete looked around to make sure no one was nearby to see her. She raised a hand over the creek and concentrated. A sizable globe-shaped body of water rose from the stream with a fish trapped within. Still holding her arm outstretched she moved her hand slowly. The globe of water followed her hand movements as she steadily brought it to the bank next to her. Releasing it, the water splashed to the ground draining back into the stream, leaving the fish floundering on the bank. Collete grabbed the fish by the tail and slung it back into the stream. She watched as the fish recovered and swam away as if nothing happened.
Collete wished she could be like that fish and forget all that happened recently. Only a week ago her mother died she felt so alone now. Her friends and people in the village tried to comfort her. Their sympathy only made her feel worse. She felt lost and rudderless; that was until the other day when she heard the voice in her head. At first, she didn’t understand what was happening, but the more she thought about it, the more she felt it was her sister Anabel. Her mother had told her that Anabel was a sickly child and died when they were both young she had no reason to doubt her mother, but now she was not so sure. She recalled vague memories from when she was a child that didn’t seem to fit with what her mother told her. Maybe it was all just her imagination; yet somehow, she doubted it. Collete knew that Anabel had been gifted like herself if she was alive somewhere she could be trying to find her.
Anabel stood patiently on the left of the throne, her expression blank. On the right side her father bowed to the noble introducing him to the king. Anabel observed carefully the noble as he paid his respects to the king. Noting the nervous twitch in his left eye and a slight shake of the hand.
“Is it just nerves, or is he hiding something?” Anabel thought her eyes taking in every nuance of the man’s posture. Sir Benkin was the noble’s name from Ostenfarn the neighbouring country to the south of Solarian. Anabel knew Ostenfarn was a small nation compared to Solarian. It was likely that they wanted something from the king. Both countries were on good terms. In the end, he asked for the king to send a representative to mediate in a dispute with Zaranland their Northern neighbours. Little was known about Zaranland or its people. It was a vast land to the far north cold and in-hospital. “Was it just having to ask the king to mediate in a dispute or was something else going on that made Sir Benkin so nervous? "It kept nagging at her later as she retired to her chambers.
Anabel stood looking out as rain lashed the arched window. She sighed the rainy season was here already soon the winter snows would arrive. She concentrated her mind and senses as she searched for her sister. Finding Collete once more, this time, she made a firm connection feeling elated as Collete answered.
“Anabel is that you? Tell me is it really you. You are alive?”
“Yes, it is Anabel, your sister,” Anabel answered tears, welling up and wetting her cheeks. At last, Anabel found her sister and they would be reunited after so long apart. Anabel didn’t know if Collete knew of the prophecy, and the need to be careful where and how they met. She got the sense Collete was far from the capital as yet; so she had time to think about meeting later presuming Collete wanted to meet.
“Surely Collete would want to be meet her sister after so many years. Oh, please say, you will.” Anabel wanted so badly to see her sister she had so much to ask and so much to tell do they look alike had her powers manifested? She had to know now if Collete wanted to meet. “Collete do you want to meet sometime?” She asked her voice slightly trembling so much unlike her to lose control like this she couldn’t help herself.
“Oh, yes, of course, we should meet sister, dear. You are all I have left in this world.”
“What about mother is... is she dead?” Anabel asked her tone thick with emotion.
“Yes, I buried her only recently.”
There was a long pause before Anabel answered. “I’m so sorry Collete I cant even visualise what mother looked like. We were so young when separated it was cruel and so unfair, But our father is still alive, I live with him.”
Again there was a pause before Collete spoke. “Father? I can’t remember even having a father. Does he know about me?”
“He told me you were dead; I always believed you were alive, though. I bet mother said I was dead also?”
“Yes, but I recently began to doubt that when you contacted me. Why has all this happened to us, Anabel?”
“I will tell you some other time, for now, we should break contact it is tiring keeping mental contact for so long.”
“Bye, for now, Anabel hope to hear from you soon.”
“Goodbye, talk with you later, Collete,” Anabel said, breaking contact.
Collete sighed the weather was miserably damp and cold. She felt down and discouraged, checking the coin in her bag. It had been several days since Anabel last contacted her. Collete wasn’t sure if she had enough funds to get the coach from Grenbreek to the capital as Anabel asked. Grenbreek itself was still several days away from where she was at the moment. Collete had spent last night in the cheapest Inn she could find so didn’t get much sleep. The noise from drunken customers kept her awake most of the night. Walking along the muddy street, avoiding the puddles she considered her options. It was still early, and with the rain, few people were out and about; as she headed out of town. Suddenly she heard someone running from behind she half-turned to see a burly man behind her; he knocked her to the ground, snatching the bag from her grasp. Collete got to her feet temper flaring; that was the last straw bad enough being knocked to the ground in the mud but to steal from her as well. She quickly glanced around to make sure no one was nearby then cast a spell at the retreating thief.
The ground under the robber’s feet turned to ice, slipping he fell. Ice began to form around his lower body encasing his feet and legs to that he couldn’t escape. Collete snatched her bag back from the robber’s grasp. Turning her back, she left him lying in the mud as the ice encasing him slowly melted away. When she was well clear of the town, Collete found a stream and washed the mud off her fur skin coat. Casting a spell on the coat to dry it quickly she bundled herself in the coat once more, wrapping it tight against the cold wind. Collete continued her journey uncertain of how far it was to the next town. It was past midday when she heard a wagon coming behind her. The waggoneer drew up beside her scratching his bushy beard as he looked her over.
“Want a lift missy, where are you headed?”
Collete nodded eagerly, “I would be grateful for a lift I’m going to Grenbreek.”
The man scowled scratching his beard again, “Climb up, I can take you as far as the next town Oakton.”
“Thank you, I’m very grateful to you good sir,” Collete said, climbing up to sit next to the old man.
The waggoneer started the horse off again at a leisurely pace. He turned to study Collete, holding the reins loosely knowing the horse would keep to the road only occasionally glancing forward as he spoke. “So if you don’t mind me asking what’s a young miss like yourself doing travelling alone on these roads?”
Collete smiled at the old man he had an open and friendly manner, “I’m used to being on my own and can take care of myself. Like I said I have to get to Grenbreek so I’ll be very grateful to you for taking me to the next town. I may need to stop over for a day or two before moving on to Grenbreek.”
The old man coughed and cleared his throat and gave a firm nod of his head, “Grenbreek is a day, and a half from Oakton get past halfway, and you’ve a good road all the way to Grenbreek. Makes it easier and quicker, not like these backcountry roads.”
Collete stared ahead lost in thought a moment before speaking, “Is there a good but cheap Inn to stay in Oakton and maybe somewhere I can earn an honest coin or two?”
The old man spat over the side of the wagon before giving Collete a calculating look; coming to a decision. “Aye, missy I can maybe help you out there.”