Encirclement of the Heart
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Landon looked up and gazed up at the owner of the voice. He blinked as he realized who was kneeling over him.

 

It was the beautiful woman from earlier. She stared directly at him in concern. Her features were delicate and her hair flowed freely down her back. However, the look in her eyes gave Landon chills down his spine.

 

She flipped her long blonde hair back revealing her pale skin which contrasted quite nicely with her snow white dress. Her beautiful red lips stretched into a small smile as her golden yellow eyes gazed down at Landon.

 

"Are you okay?" She questioned.

 

Landon nodded in response.

 

The woman smiled. “Good. Let me take a better look at you.”

 

She gently cupped his cheek as she reached into her chest pocket pulling out some kind gemstone. It glowed with a gentle glow. In its center floated a tiny, yet noticeable blue flame. The girl placed her index finger over the small flame before pressing it against the side of Landon’s forehead. 

 

He cried out in pain , closing his eyes tightly. When she removed her hand, the stone was glowing brightly again. 

 

A black symbol glowed in his skin , almost as if a tattoo were being drawn. Landon couldn't understand why, no matter how hard he tried to focus.

 

"Now, listen closely. This mark represents all your father’s sins."

 

"But...my father is home?" Landon said confused. 

 

"You were adopted to hide from us, but they couldn't run forever." She smiled.

 

"What are you going to do with me?" Landon asked. 

 

"You will be killed and your body used as a puppet!" She exclaimed. "We cannot have you running around causing chaos, destroying the castle and hurting innocents!" She paused for a moment as the fire in her eyes burned brighter. "We will make sure you suffer for eternity while I enjoy myself! Now let's go." She stood up walking to a nearby door.

 

She opened it and revealed a stairway leading upwards. Landon watched her in awe as she entered the staircase and walked up. Once he realized she was gone, he slowly got back onto his feet and followed behind her.

"Do not worry."

 

Landon looked up towards the voice, his jaw dropping open. He looked at the young woman standing next to the stairs. Her long, wavy, silver locks cascaded down her back and pooled down her backside. Her long, blue gown fluttered against the wind as her slender fingers gripped a wooden staff. 

 

Her expression was cold, emotionless. However, there was something else there too; something deeper, much more sinister. Something that made Landon believe that this woman would be no different than any other ghouls.

 

"You are my child after all."

 

Landon gulped, looking down at the ground as he walked. His heart was pounding against his ribcage, he didn't know what he could say now. He knew nothing about this woman. All he knew was she looked scary and beautiful at the same time.

 

She moved her long, silky white hair away from her face and glanced down at him one last time. "It would be best if you stay silent during our journey."

 

Landon kept quiet, allowing the woman to lead the way up the many stairs She turned left at the top, then right at the end of the hall. They continued climbing up and up. Landon's legs started to feel heavy and fatigue began creeping in. 

 

He was getting tired just following the woman up those endless staircases. And, his injuries didn't help either. The cuts, bruises, and scrapes stung every step he took.

 

"Your father will never take you back!" She shouted. 

 

*******

 

The cloaked man was severely beaten. He was being held up by the collar in Dearil's hands interigating him. Their faces were only a few inches apart. Their breaths mingling together.

 

Dwelling into their thoughts, they forgot that he was still alive. He managed to break free from Dearils hold and fell to the ground. The hooded man rolled off to the ground to get some distance.

 

"Send us to wherever you sent the Reaper's son!" Dearil demanded. 

 

He shook in fear as a shiver ran down his spine. He looked down at his bare feet before quickly turning around.

 

"Hell no! His mother has him and she will kill me if I do!"  He said.

As he ran towards the door he tripped over an invisible force causing him to fall flat on his face. The hooded man clamped his hands over his head in fear watching Dearil come closer and closer.

 

Dearil knelt down and looked into his eyes. His voice sounded soft, yet threatening "You don't seem like much of a coward. If anything I thought that a coward would've taken your head already. Do you want my sword to do it or do you prefer death? Which would be preferable to death?!"

 

"Where...is...Landon..." 

 

"The boys friend?!" 

 

Dearil ran over to help the boy up. He was covered in blood from his wound holding tight to the stump of an arm he no longer had. His clothes were torn and torn even further. Blood stained his shirt as well as the floor around him. He looked up at Dearil, shaking uncontrollably.

 

"Is he okay?" 

 

"He was kidnapped and I need help getting him back," Dearil explained. 

 

The girl was holding her book and handing it to Knox. She bumped her head against his closing her eyes and gripping his surviving hand as he shook nearly in tears. 

 

"Close your eyes and imagine your hand is whole..." She affirmed. 

 

Knox closed his eyes and focused on reattaching his arm, feeling the magic rush throughout him. The arm returned with an audible snap and Knox immediately fell back onto the ground. He gasped for air as he struggled to breathe. 

 

He could feel a warm sensation begin to fill his body. As soon as it stopped and the spell had finished, he sat up and looked down at his arm. A faint smile formed on his face and he looked at the girl.

 

"We need to get my master now Knox, if you succeed there will be a reward." She stated. 

 

"A reward?!" Knox replied excitedly.

 

"Yes,but I need your help," she nodded.

 

******* 

Landon gawked at himself in the mirror as his mother placed a cape around his shoulders. He stared blankly at his reflection. He felt numb inside, like his heart had been cut in two. Tears threatened to spill out of his eyes, however he swallowed them back and remained stoic. He wasn't about to cry, he needed to get this right. 

 

She slipped a regal golden sheathed sword into his hands. She pressed her lips against the back of his head. 

 

"I love you," she whispered.

 

He forced a nod of acceptance. They stepped through the double doors and into the hall. Landon kept his head low as he walked beside his mother. He noticed that people's eyes were drawn to him. He could hear whispers about him being her son. He heard someone gasp and he glanced back to see their reaction. Everyone was staring at him.

 

Some people began whispering, others just laughed. He felt so humiliated and embarrassed, yet he couldn't stop himself from staring at their reactions. Everyone here despised his existence. He hated everyone who despised him

 

He didn't deserve to live anyway. He felt worthless... His eyes trailed ahead. The hall had changed. It was completely dark. There were no windows. He couldn't even see his mothers face anymore.

 

Suddenly, footsteps came up from behind them, making Landon look behind him. Two men, both dressed in dark clothing, appeared out of seemingly nowhere. One wore brown robes that covered most of his skin while the other wore a bright yellow hoodie. Both men bowed before Landon and his mother. 

 

"My lord and lady." The hooded man spoke.

 

"You may proceed." His mother said.

 

The hooded men looked at each other and headed forward. Landon's eyes widened as they passed. Each step felt heavier, like someone was taking his entire weight. The light from the candles flickered slightly and the room became colder.

 

"No! Please! Let me go!" Landon cried as he kicked at their chests.

 

"Don't resist, little one, it took so long to find you..."

 

Landon fought harder trying to escape. He wanted to cry out for help and tell the servants to come to his rescue but he couldn't find any words. Everything just seemed to happen in slow motion and he was stuck unable to move an inch.

 

One of the men shoved him forward hard knocking him to the ground. He laid there gasping for breath. He was panting heavily from the struggle, his hands covered in dirt from hitting the rough stone. 

 

Landon lifted his head up slightly. He saw a door that led to a dark tunnel, the torches flickering weakly in the darkness. Suddenly the room was flooded with light and voices.

 

He blinked. He slowly sat up and looked around. He noticed that everyone who was in the room had been replaced with three new strangers.

 

Three new strangers. Three strange men wearing black cloaks with the hoods thrown off their heads. They wore dark robes, a black sash around their waists, matching boots, and a black mask across their faces. Their eyes were hidden behind black slits.

 

In their hands each one held a wicked looking silver blade. A silver dagger. An iron dagger. He'd seen them use those weapons before. They all looked down at him. Landon tried to stand but he felt dizzy almost falling backward.

 

"Son of the reaper you will finally do something good for us all..." one of the strange men muttered.

 

Landon froze. He knew exactly what was about to happen. He was going to die. Suddenly he is handed a bottle which was filled with water. He hesitated. His eyes met the stranger's again, and he gulped.

 

"Drink, child."

 

He didn't hesitate any longer. Taking a deep breath, he opened the bottle and drank the liquid. Once he was finished, they shoved him in front of another one of the other men. They shoved him forwards again and he fell flat against the hard concrete floor, his back slamming into the cold surface causing a wave of pain to run up his spine.

 

Landon laid there for a few moments. He let out heavy breaths, struggling to keep his head from dropping too low. It didn't take long until his breathing steadied and he felt the dizziness receding. He stood up carefully. He was still trembling but he was able to walk normally only to fall into the arms of one of the cloaked men. 

 

"Soon Dearil will regret coming here..." 

 

******* 

They all landed in a very dark hallway. Dearil helped the sword up as she dusted herself off, then turned to Knox who was lying on the floor, exhausted. She gave him a comforting smile. He smiled back tiredly. 

 

"Come my dear Knox, I believe we are almost there now."

 

Threading carefully down the dark corridor she leads the group for what seems forever walking through twisting corridors . The walls glittered with gold filigree. The floors gleamed brightly. She stopped when the sound of laughter echoed up ahead.

 

"Come in heathens!"

 

A woman called. She was short in stature with black hair tied up neatly. She had pale gray eyes and white teeth. Her dress was purple with gold embroidery. There were a bunch of other women with her dressed similarly. They all looked similar, with the exception of one in particular.

 

She was tall with a pale complexion. Dark curly hair surrounded her oval face. The color of her eyes reminded him of the color of blood. It was deep crimson.

 

Dread filled his heart. Each one with their arms entwined in each others dancing around each other. He couldn't tell what was going on but he recognised some of the dances. This was probably the dance of lovers. This was definitely not meant to be.

 

"I know you're hungry!" The woman announced before laughing. "It's alright, I have plenty of food for you all. Come join us for dinner! My name is Henna, and welcome to my humble abode," she introduced.

 

"We are looking for someone!" Dearil asked. 

 

"Someone? Someone? Oh how interesting," She giggled.

 

"What makes you think anyone would want to meet you, Dearil? You've been such a naughty boy and you did so many wrong things!" She shrieked. 

 

"Of course I recognized you Dearil. You were Reaper King's favorite and we know that, we all know that. We know everything...we can read your thoughts!" she said before turning and speaking to the group once more."We have all known since the beginning of time that we shall bring chaos and destruction upon this planet, and that's why; you must work together. If you do, I will give you anything you desire."

 

Knox watched women parade with swords elegantly dancing in a circle around them. They were graceful, beautiful, and perfect. They had such a strong presence, such elegance to them. They moved their hips swiftfully as if they were dancing, or maybe it was actually dancing. They twirled gracefully and spun as they did it. 

 

Everytime the blades made contact with flesh, screams could be heard. Some people cried out of joy. Others screamed from pain. Still others screamed of terror. He watched as the women danced in harmony with each other.

He watched as the men circled around them and whirled in sync. It was mesmerising.

 

"That's enough for today," Henna declared abruptly.

 

The dancers immediately stopped and turned to face each other, all with smiles gracing their features. They curtsied politely, as did the men standing opposite them who had just came in.

 

Henna gestured towards the door. "Now come, dear friends. Time waits for no man. Tonight, tonight we feast and celebrate the new year!"

 

The women all encircled Dearil, Knox and Landon's sword. all of them aimed at the small group in front of them. 

 

"Knox, get ready to use me!" The sword cried out.

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