Episode Nine – Return to the Ocean

Grief is the price one must pay if one is to love.”
– Abbot Llewellyn Vir

No!” Taja screamed and fell to her knees. Her eyes clouded in tears and confusion. The mental likeness of the bloody knife stained her consciousness, and the shrill whistle of the crowd’s cries, a mixture of terror and bewilderment, hung in her ears.

Father,” she managed, her voice choked in grief. She closed her eyes, trying to free herself from the specter of the moment, but the image of the sweat on her attacker’s brow and the crooked finger of Grandor Lumpkin pointing from the mob wouldn’t relent.

She folded her arms across her heart and wept, rocking herself back and forth, wanting Ramsay’s burly arms to blanket her in comfort.

Child, you are safe,” came a calm voice.

Taja stirred from her sorrow and raised her red eyes to see Lady Ranseur sitting across from her. A few indeterminable moments passed as she gathered her thoughts. The echo of the screams tapered away, replaced by the clicking and clacking of horse hooves. It was then she realized that she was crouched on the floor of a moving carriage.

Wha—where am I?”

Ranseur flicked her hand, flashing a near-empty champagne flute and took a sip. “Why, you are where you belong. I will ensure this never happens to you again.”

Taja’s tears welled, and she stopped for a moment, taking account of her situation. Her last recollection was of the stage and the riot, but now she found herself being sped away in Ranseur’s regal coach. Was this some form of Ranseur’s magic?

Yes, my darling,” Ranseur answered her thoughts as if she was in her mind, “I did use my magic to save you.”

My father?” Taja began to weep again and stammered over the words.

I knew one day it would come to this.” The lady sniffed and finished her drink. “Unfortunately for you child, it comes too soon.”

Is mother—”

She is not your mother,” Ranseur snapped and reached for an open bottle to refill her glass. With a thoughtless twist, she swirled the champagne and stared at Taja a few moments before closing her eyes. “I am sorry to have raised my voice at you. Please forgive me.”

But they love me.” Taja wiped the tears from her face with her costume cape. “I need to get back to them. Is my father…?”

Sit here Taja.” Ranseur slid to the corner of her bench and made room for the girl. She replaced the bottle in the rack and with a flare of a finger, a magical spark emanated from her hand, lighting the cabin.

Taja slipped across the carriage floor and climbed into the lady’s arms. She’d seen the magic glow before and knew not to fear it.

There now.” Ranseur hugged her. “All will be well.”

But—”

Shh,” the woman urged.

The two sat in silence until the carriage’s hurried pace halted. Taja held Ranseur, her face buried in her bosom, but dared a peek at the door.

No driver came.

I know this may not mean much to you this evening,” Ranseur began, as she ran her hand through the strands of the girl’s hair. “But remember Taja, the darker the night sky, the brighter the stars appear.”

Taja let the words settle in. She still struggled to interpret colloquialisms in her second tongue despite Ranseur’s lessons, but the meaning of the lady’s words struck home. They failed to make her feel any better.

Where are we?” Taja asked.

We are home.” The lady gestured with her hand, and the door of the carriage creaked open as if had received a silent command.

You mean back to the troupe?” Taja sat up, her eyes hopeful.

No, child.” Ranseur shook her head. “Your new home.”

Taja’s peered out of the carriage and caught the pink of the dawn on the horizon. Somewhere in her distant consciousness, it registered that they must have been traveling all night. Pangs of guilt sprung up in her mind. Was she responsible for the attack on Ramsay? What happened to Yasmine? Was everyone alright?

Think no more of these nightmares.” Ranseur stepped from the carriage and lifted Taja to the ground. “The events of tonight are not your fault. Some see you—and your kind—as the enemy.”

My kind?”

Yes, dear girl. You are not like the mere humans that you travel with, nor are you like the people you encountered tonight in Notre Nouveaux. You, my brilliant girl, are of the ocean blue.”

With that, Ranseur waved a thoughtless hand, and the horses marched the carriage away, revealing the picturesque view of the nearby sea.

Taja found herself standing on a steep cliff, overlooking a vast ocean. To her rear, a manse of great stone and glass jutted into the sky, its many windows reflecting the red of the sun’s daybreak. Graven above the grand double doors on the face of the building, the sigil of a silver trident carved its way into the masonry.

She lost her breath at its majesty.

What is this place?” Taja asked.

Ranseur smiled at her innocence. “This my dear daughter, is your new home.”

Episode Nine – Return to the Ocean 1

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