Irene rapped on the chiseled ice that pretended to be a door. “Let me out! I can help. I came to help, damn you Istan! You’re not a one-man army!”
No answer. Turning, Irene put her back to the door, and her eyes played over the interior of the spire. A tree stood in the center of an atrium; its luminous leaves beckoned her near. She stopped before it, hand extending towards a leaf that reflected her biggest regret.
A younger version of herself crawled out of bed, yanked off her wedding ring and left it on the pillow. Istan slept on unaware that his last attempt to talk her out of leaving had failed. But he had known. She watched his memory of the event, as seen through his half closed eyes. Grief so bleak and profound dropped her to her knees.
He’d lain there painted by sorrow and morning’s shadows mourning a love he couldn’t keep. In all his long life, he’d learned nothing to help in this situation. His finger brushed along the gilt curve of the wedding band, feeling its inscription. His thoughts flooded her mind from back then, raw with pain.
“I gave her my heart,
my soul, my body and mind.
Why wasn’t I enough?
What claim has power
over her divided heart
that it calls her so?
Why wasn’t I enough?
What more could I have given?
What more did she need?”
“Oh Istan, I’m sorry…so sorry…” Crumpling to her knees, she cried tears that froze in their tracks.
She should never have chosen more power over being with him. Acquiring more power had brought her nothing but trouble. The kind that had driven her into hiding for a long, long time. So much time in fact that she had forgotten her own name until Henneth had woken her up.
“I never should have left.”
But she had returned. That should count for something. It did count for something. Dashing away a fresh set of tears with her hand, she pushed to her feet. She might be inside his mind right now, but that didn’t mean she was powerless. Oh no, she was more powerful in here because she still owned his heart. All that love he’d felt for her sparkled in the core of this tower of memory and she headed toward it.
Those Nightmare creatures wouldn’t win; they wouldn’t take over her beloved. Oh no, he belonged to her first and always. Those interlopers had to go. He didn’t think he needed her help, and maybe he didn’t. But he was getting it anyway.
A shape revolved in a shaft of pure white light. It was two wedding rings intertwined. Reaching into that light, Irene thrust out a questing finger. She remembered the feel of that ring sliding off her hand onto the pillow. Now it slipped onto her finger reclaiming what her stupid younger self had abandoned. And with it, she took back what was hers.
“Get out of my husband’s head!” she shrieked as a wall of light pushed outwards. Somewhere close, a psychic monster screamed.
to be continued…
Istan and Irene are back, and so is Quest. Regular adventures will follow. Short stories and all the new tales you guys have asked for will also find places in the editorial calendar. There’s no set schedule at the moment so just be on the lookout.