The Siren’s Rune—Chapter 8: Blue Wish
Kaiden stared, his eyes wide.
“Soul runes are the essence of the soul, and for regular people, the soul and body are separate. When one starts to tread the path to becoming a Runist, the soul and body fuse together, causing the body to be able to grow stronger and more durable. A person’s lifespan will even be extended!”
I moved closer to him and pressed my finger against his chest. His head nodded.
“When a soul rune is powerful, the soul displays extraordinary talent and growth, causing the person to quickly improve their skill in the way of runes. When the soul and body fuse, the body will easily become stronger, quicker, and tougher than one fused with a weak soul. It is directly related to talent and potential.”
I spread my arms and watched in glee as he flinched at my sudden movement.
I said, “The Apprentice rank is reached when the body and soul first start to fuse. Only ten percent of people can accomplish this, but when someone succeeds, their body no longer needs nutrients for sustenance. Instead, the soul directly feeds and supplies it with everything it needs. At that point, you can even start training your soul through meditation!”
I held back a laugh. “A Novice gains the ability to activate their soul rune and can live for 50 more years. I, at the age of 16, reached Novice with minimal training. I am an unprecedented genius! My mother was an Adept by the age of 30. She was a genius too. My younger brother reached Adept this year at the age of 15.”
Kaiden frowned, so I placed my finger against his forehead. Under the gaze of his deep-blue eyes, I leaned closer, inhaling his sweet scent.
“You need to grow stronger,” I said, but he looked to the side. “You’re falling behind, and don’t you want to at least become a Doyen? No one ever disrespects a Doyen!”
He gave a curt laugh and shortened the distance between us. I could feel his breath against my skin, and his lips were soft. I wanted to kiss them. Being with Kaiden and being a defiant princess…killing two birds with one stone.
“Didn’t you say you became a Novice at 16 and your brother became an Adept at 15?” he said with a seductive smile.
My cheeks became red hot. It took all my will to pull away.
“I-I had to train in secret.” What’s wrong with me? I was going crazy. “My brother could train everyday, and he had the best teachers. If I indulged in that kind of treatment, I would be an Adept.”
“Then why didn’t you?”
It was an evil question born from the depths of unwise curiosity. Pure evil.
“My black core and soul rune handicaps me in battle, so I was never allowed to train,” I said, not daring to meet his gaze.
“Shouldn’t they have at least let you try?” Kaiden began. “By becoming stronger, you can live longer and train others as a teacher if you can’t fight. Having you waste away is completely useless to them.”
Evil question #2
Any commoner would know the answer, but he did not. My spirits lifted; I did not want him to know, yet I also wanted to tell him. I nervously shifted in my seat.
The stronger one became, the harder it was to have children. As the direct descent of the king, if I could not protect my kingdom, I should instead give my father many powerful grandchildren.
To tell or to not to tell. My sisters didn‘t need to be stupid breeders.
“Never mind,” Kaiden said. He placed his hand on my head and tugged at the knots within my hair. I held back the urge to bite his grubby little fingers. He asked, “How do I fuse my body and soul together?”
I humphed and pushed his arm away. “Meditate and clear your mind. Then, try to feel deep inside yourself. Eventually you will enter your inner soul. That place is different for everybody, so I can’t explain it to you. However, I do know that your soul rune will be hidden somewhere within your inner soul. Find it and–”
Thud. It was soft but I still heard it. It came from the door.
“What is-” I quickly silenced Kaiden.
Standing up, I placed my hand against the wooden thing. My internal spiritual energy circulated, and I sensed what was behind it. Nothing.
No. There was something, and a rune was blocking my senses. Either it was from the door or from someone else.
My eyes narrowed. With a sharp push, I flung open the door.
A young man stumbled—a 2-Star Apprentice with a tall figure and a pair of annoying eyes. I wanted to twist his neck upon seeing his condescending gaze and rustic dagger. How dare he eavesdrop. I reached towards him.
His hand, whose fingernails contained a great deal of dirt, touched my skin as he whacked my arm. He snorted, laughing at me; and I could see it in his eyes, he knew I was from Gnudeer. With a smile, he fled.
“Vaughn!” Kaiden yelled, but I still gave chase.
I weaved through rubbish, dilapidated buildings, and piles of stones. No matter how fast I ran, the Apprentice neither became closer nor farther away. A few times he looked back; his smile wicked. He knew that I could not catch him.
He turned another corner, and when I rounded it, heard a door slam shut. I knocked. No answer. I pounded, and he responded with a long string of words. It could have been curses, mockery, or even a love confession. If only I had brought Kaiden; he could have translated it. Then, this Apprentice would really be in trouble.
I kicked the door, but a flashing rune formation prevented me from actually touching it. I grumbled then punched with full force.
Shit. I shook my hand while biting my bottom lip. The formation undulated, mocking me for my poor attempt at an attack. Another laugh.
Massaging my knuckles, I leaned against the door and slid to the floor. The sky was blue and indescribably boring. If there were birds, I would have counted them. Clouds, then I would have thought about my mother’s stories.
But there was nothing.
I slowly let the time tick, waiting for the Apprentice to leave his little haven.
My thoughts wondered. What’s Kaiden’s world like? Are there magic, monsters, and beasts? Is the sky even blue?
As a young man he’s most likely already married even if he’s so immature. Hmm…does he have kids and does he miss her?
I knew nothing about Kaiden; I had never asked.
Maybe I could make him promise me to tell me about his inner soul, but that’s… I blushed. It was something only spouses would know.
I fiddled with my thumbs. I liked how detached Kaiden was. Innocent and calm, yet curious. It was a very soothing feeling, but this demeanor may get him killed one day.
I smiled. I guess I would need to protect him. Straightening one leg and bending the other, I swung my body to stand. Then, I made my slow return, giving no heed to the quiet surroundings.
Should I teach Kaiden about simple politics? What about runes? Geography or maybe history?
The sun stung, but I held on. Just another turn and I would be home…
I froze, hands trembling.
Two bloodied figures lay on the ground in front of our shack. I heard my own blood pumping within my ears. I clenched my fists, wishing as I rushed towards them. Neither was Kaiden. My breathing calmed.
The first was the fat slime ball, and her chest was covered in blood. It dripped down her rolling fat, pooling on the floor. As for her ribs, they were caved in. By her side was the murder weapon, a wooden rod.
Its wood was stained with a deep red color, and I shivered, imagining it piercing through my body. The killer must have stabbed her with it, tilted it to the side while crushing her ribs in the process, and yanked it out in an angle much different from the initial stab. In the process, blood had splattered across the floor.
I gagged. Even some ribs poked through her flesh.
The boy by her side was almost as bad. His skull was completely crushed, and his brain lay spewed on the stone pavement. He was unrecognizable, and even his neck was broken.
Killing, I was fine with it, but this was disgusting. If one was going to kill, they should at least do it decently. The killer, most likely a Novice, was downright ruthless.
My legs wobbled as I approached the shack. I did my best to divert my gaze from the nasty bodies, and in doing so glimpsed something blue from the corner of my eye.
I stared at it: a blue spirit root. My brows wrinkled. It could be useful in a variety of ways such as soothing the soul, fighting spiritual backlash, and calming the mind. And, it was expensive. Very expensive.
Why did it have to be half-eaten?
I brushed the blue spirit root clean with the inside of my robe, frowning in the process. It was an object of wonder, so much that it had its own story.
Blue Wish. That was its true name…
“Mommy, tell me a good night story.” The little me wiggled beneath the covers of my bed.
My mother sighed and sat down. She placed a hand against my cheek, lightly stroking it with her thin fingers. Blushing, I retreated under my covers.
“What story?” she said. Her eyes drifted to the door, but soon returned to gaze at me.
“Why do you have orange skin? Nobody else is orange. It’s funny.” My small body inched closer to her.
She chuckled. “I’m from Beecivet. I’m not from Gnudeer.”
“I want orange skin. It’s colorful,” I said.
“No you don’t.” She snuggled my body. “I would prefer it if you didn’t.”
“Why?” I pouted.
“Because you’re not orange, you don’t look too Beecivetan and you seem more like the king.” My mother gripped me tightly, burrowing her head against my chest.
“Everyone says that I don’t look like him. I look like you and only you, but I’m not orange.”
“Oh, Emelyn,” she sighed. “You look far more like your father than me.”
I humphed. “Is that flattery? I don’t like it. I don’t like the king. I want to look like you, and you don’t like the king.”
“Don’t say that.” Her eyes seemed pained, and there were light tears. “There are some things that must be done, whether or not we want to. Do you remember what I told you about going outside into the courtyard?”
“Yes, I know,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Long sleeved dress, umbrella, and hat. The sun is evil, and I must remain fair and pretty.”
“Exactly.” She kissed my forehead and made to leave.
“Mommy,” I called. “Good night story. I want one.”
She shook her head, sitting back down. “You have so many wants and needs.”
“I’m a princess, and I want to play in the sun like Thomson.” I nodded. “Swinging around swords, that seems fun.”
“No playing in the sun, and I’ll tell you a good night story,” she said.
“Yay.” I snuggled against my pillow, my gaze staring into my mother’s violet eyes.
She smiled. “You’re always wishing for so many things. To flee the castle, to have Mikey as a father, to marry that oracle who—by the way—is too old for you, and to change your soul rune. Now you want to swing around swords. I think I should tell you the story about the Blue Wish. It was a tale of two lovers.”
“Gross.” I stuck out my tongue. I never believed in love; my soul rune had crippled me. “Different story. I want bloodshed and magical beasts.”
“You asked for a story and this is what you are going to get. The stars say that tonight is a good night to tell the tale.” My mother tucked the covers around me and tapped my nose. “One day you will fall in love.”
“Whether you like it or not, if you ever meet someone who can repel your soul rune, you’ll fall madly in love.”
“Lies.” I flung my head to the side.
“Trust me on this, and then you’ll know how everyone else feels when they meet you.” My mother touched my chin, forcing me to meet her gaze. “Now I’m going to tell you a story about two lovers. It begins at a small cottage that sat by the edge of a rushing river…
“There was a family with a father, a mother, and eight handsome sons, but as luck would have it, all but the youngest son, an eighteen-year-old young man named Leb, fell ill. Hoping to save his family, he walked by the river, following it upstream until he arrived at an old cave hidden by a waterfall.
“Next to a moss covered rock, a small sign jutted from the earth. ‘Beware: yellow-footed rabbit.’ The young man wrinkled his brows and called out, ‘It is I, Leb from the cottage downriver. My father had once saved your life. I’ve come to ask for a favor.’”
My mother leaned closer. “As soon as he said it, an object pierced through the cascading water. It plopped onto the dirt.
“’Take it!’ a man said. Peering into the darkness of the cave, Leb could barely make out an old, hunchbacked figure.
“Looking down, the young man lifted the small object. A blue spirit root. There was nothing special about it other than its high price. The young man frowned; it could heal the sufferings of the soul, but it was no good for his family-”
“Does he save them by selling it?” I asked.
“Why don’t you listen to the rest of the story, Emelyn.” My mother’s eyes drifted to the door then she spoke in a quiet voice, “The young man said this: ‘What am I going to do with this blue spirit root?’
“’Blue carrot! It’s a blue carrot that I wrestled away for a yellow-footed rabbit,’ the old man said, and the young man laughed, ‘Fine, what am I going to do with this blue carrot?’
“The old man stepped closer to the waterfall, and Leb’s eyes widened. The figure’s shape was tall and refined, not hunched or crooked.” My mother raised her chest and placed a hand on the small pendant she had always worn. She looked very much like a queen, more so than the king’s main wife.
With a stern voice, she continued, “From behind the curtain, the man said, ‘Listen carefully boy. Blue Wish is its true name. It soothes the sufferings of the soul. Eat half and throw the rest into the river. For how much you’ve lost, you’ll gain. A Blue Wish is a sad wish.’”
My mother glanced at the door. “The man laughed and the sign glowed. It was a rune, but each stroke was black and white and fused to each other by an invisible bond. They intertwined and pulled apart, creating a mysterious effect. Streaks of color more numerous than the rainbow dyed its strokes.
“The words changed, ‘Beware: cursed-footed rabbit,’ but when the young man opened his mouth, he realized that the cave was no more. He glanced back, and the sign, too, had vanished.”
She brushed a lock of my hair and kissed my forehead. With a sad smile, my mother said, “When the young man returned home, his whole family had passed away. Angry and distraught, he took a bite of the Blue Wish, but finding it bitter, tossed the rest away. It plopped into the river, never to be seen again.”
She slowly stood up and smiled. “Years later he met the love of his life, and they went on many adventures together. Slaying dragons, befriending magical beasts, rescuing villagers. He eventually married her, and she told him the funny story about how a blue, half-eaten spirit root had once saved her life. If it wasn’t for the Blue Wish, they would never have met.”
My heart melted as I stared at my mother’s soft smile. It was sweet, and I did not want her to leave.
“Good night, Emelyn,” she spoke.
“What?” I sat up, flailing my arms. “You lied. What about the two lovers and their adventures. Slaying dragons, vanquishing villains, becoming Runists!”
She laughed, her eyes glinting. “I thought you didn’t want to hear a story about two lovers. I cut it short, saving you the pain of listening to it.”
“Don’t ‘Mommy’ me. It’s time for your bedtime. I love you.” She gave me one last kiss.
Pouting, I turned and covered my face with my blanket. I heard my mother sigh, and I imagined that she was shaking her head, “You’re just like your father.”
I snorted, but she quietly left.
That was the night before my tenth birthday. I wished I had told her “I love you.”
I brought a hand to my face. My eyes were damp, but there were no tears.
“Alaric will die.”
I shoved the Blue Wish into a small bag without a second thought. Knowing the nature of the object, it would last two years before becoming inedible. A part of me wished to keep it forever or to eat it, but of course I would never do that. Some random person had munched on it, and who knew what type of cooties they had.
I placed my palm against the shack’s door, feeling its splintered surface beneath my skin. The door was light, but felt heavier than the world. My teeth clenched. There would be no more agonizing over the past.
My hand squeezed the bag, and the energy of the Blue Wish stirred my soul.
Today was the day Gnudeer had fallen. Now free, I will have my revenge, and Kaiden is going to help me.
I pushed, and the door creaked.