Time slowed to a crawl, and it was apparent to Whisp that
everyone had ceased screaming and froze in their collective steps. The king had
arrived. Whisp couldn't breath, couldn't think for shock and grief. What had happened?
Wasn't she fine yesterday? She had given her the gold earring… the gold earring…
she had been fine…
Someone had killed her.
The king strode forward, his face broken and
drenched with the agony of sorrow. "What is wrong with her?" he quietly asked
the first healer he had come across. He gasped and choked slightly at being
addressed by no other than the king.
"We're not sure… your majesty… she appears in
perfect condition, besides the fact that she is dead." At this, the king's solemn
face cracked for only a second before it recovered.
"Who had the last contact with her before she
died?" roared the king suddenly, his enraged voice accenting the silence that
had passed over the corridor. For some unknown reason, Erytasne was not present
- the mage who had so alarmed Whisp.
"I was," voiced Whisp softly, her voice calm
yet quiet, unyielding to the fury that threatened to overcome her. Someone had
murdered her sister, murdered her from right under Whisp's nose. If only Whisp
had been more aware, if only she had guarded her, if only she had not fallen
"Excuse me, your highness," came another voice,
soft in his nervousness. Its owner belonged to a different palace mage, one
Whisp was not familiar with. "We have uncovered some startling facts about Whisp,
your daughter's bodyguard. It seems as if she is Deathwoven… and we have already
explained to you that your daughter was Lifewoven. Whisp could have easily killed
her - hence her title."
What?! Whisp gasped, her shock echoing
across the void of her mind. I couldn't have! I saw her to bed… she was fine
before… I couldn't have… they're wrong.
"I don't think so, sir…" Whisp ventured, but
her voice was lost in another uproar. People again screamed and bolted at each
direction, but this time it was different -- they were running from Whisp, as
if she would do nothing but kill them now.
"Seize her!" roared the king, apoplectic in
his rage. There was nothing more that Whisp could do, nothing she could do for
her case. All she knew was that she was being blamed for something she had never
done, and that there was a murderer loose in the castle.
Raishre was dead; there was nothing left to
Dodging the clumsy palace guards nimbly, she
ran full out to the window she had always escaped through with Raishre. That
Whisp ran only seemed to accentuate her guilt, and the guards and mages ran
faster. However, the spells and magic the mages sent spinning at her were based
for creatures of life -- could never be meant for creatures of pure dark. They
had no effect on the ebony and crimson Krawkess that had just jumped through
the window, shattered the glass and making it fly, spinning away in directions
that made the sunlight glint off the shards. Whisp fell through the air, hot
atmosphere whipping by her completely calm face. She had nothing left to lose;
it didn't matter anymore if she failed to escape.
She landed catlike on the roof of the tavern
that she had become so familiar with. The screams of the palace guards had faded
into nothingness - she had just gotten a tremendous head start. They might catch
her in the future, but for the moment -- it seemed unlikely. They were trying
to catch Whisp in her element.
Leaping down to meld gracefully into the mindless
knot of the milling crowd of people, guards ran by, shouting to each other.
"Catch her! Let's split up!" rang through the air. The many creatures who were
simply on an errand, scurrying about under the broiling sun like ants, did not
care -- why did it have anything to do with them? Why would one person's death,
even if she was a princess, matter to them in the slightest?
The gold hoop brushed against Whisp's head as
she dipped her chin, willing herself not to cave into the sorrow that threatened
to overwhelm her. It felt as if half of her mind had been torn ruthlessly away
-- Raishre, her best friend, was no more.
* * *
Years passed like this, and Whisp slowly became more and more withdrawn, healing
her never-ending scar with cold isolation. She was kind to no one, grew distant
and icy even to Renah. Renah understood this of course, even if he did not like
it. She took mercenary mission upon mission, building up on both gold and hatred,
vowing revenge upon the person who had ripped the one most dear to Whisp away.
She became harsh and driven -- nothing mattered more to her than finding and
committing vengeance on Raishre's murderer. She lived for it.
Only once was there a break in Whisp's never-ending
routine. Trotting slowly through the marketplace, Whisp had only the intention
of buying a few food items -- which had grown scarce, of late. She directed
her grey raptor's gaze at those who had possibly dared glance her way, for she
wished no verbal contact at all. The sun once again was high in the sky, the
golden orb threatening to burn all those below it in a fiery oblivion. The sand,
which had grown hot under the glare of the sun, burnt Whisp's tough and callused
feet. The worn golden hoop swung at her left ear like always -- Whisp had grown
familiar with the earring.
Then, suddenly, something happened that Whisp
would never have wished or anticipated happening. She saw her mother, flanked
of course by throngs of mindless servants, the mild Aishas following the proud
striped Krawk like Puppyblews would accompany an owner. Whisp tightened already
tense muscles, preparing for her arrogant, disapproving mother to finally notice
Most unfortunately, she did. Both Krawks stared
at one another with intense dislike, even hatred written upon now expressive
faces. Frathra was as beautiful as ever, as she constantly preened and admired
her stunning good looks. Whisp had broken away early at age to become a mercenary
after her mother's constant complaining about her "unattractive" disposition.
"Cloud!" exclaimed Frathra in sickeningly sweet
vocals, calling upon Whisp's birth name. Whisp had, of course, changed her name
after she broke away from her mother's tyrannical rule from "Cloud", which Whisp
had deemed as hideous as Frathra's ugly heart.
"The name is Whisp," responded Whisp, as cold
as her mother had been sweet.
"Whisp, then. Why don't you come over by my
place for a cup of tea? After all, it is almost a palace, greater than your
place certainly must be." A high-pitched giggle erupted from her then, a laugh
devoid of kindness that made Whisp shudder.
"Certainly, Frathra," responded Whisp, eyes
narrowing. If her mother decided to betray her, Darkenbringer would take care
Following behind the gaggle of her mother's
servants, they quickly arrived at a large house -- one Whisp would certainly
become lost in if it had been her own. 'Stupid Frathra, she would want the biggest
house to impress the lords. Sickening woman,' Whisp grumbled bitterly to herself.
They seated themselves on couches that looked
mint new, the bright pink frippery contrasting greatly with Whisp's dark, bitter
thoughts. Neither knew that the opposite Krawk they were facing was just as
unhappy, missing just as much as the other was.
Ignoring the bright, mindless giggling of the
multicolored Aisha servants at the door, Frathra said finally, "So, Clou… Whisp,
how have you been? I have heard nothing of you!"
'Thank the Goddess Sakhmet,' Whisp mumbled darkly.
"I have been busy, mother," saying the last word as if it was a horrible insult.
"Mercenary missions, you understand?"
Her mother's face broke into another false smile,
turning towards her servants. "Can you leave us, please?" she requested kindly.
When they were gone, the room was bare with
silence and lack of kindness. The smile dropped from Frathra's smooth face,
leaving an expression devoid of love or humanity. The ugliness of Frathra's
soul was now clearly visible, almost tangible.
"You're still doing that? I thought you had
gotten over it. Its much too good for a Krawk of your stature." The voice was
poisoned with darkness.
"Yes, I'm still doing it," Whisp snapped back.
"I am no longer that Krawk, no longer want handfuls of jewelry. I am not so
mindless as that."
"How dare you suggest… I am your mother, Cloud,
and you will not talk to me that way! You will stop that degrading hobby of
yours at once."
"It is my life, mother," Whisp spit the last
word at her as if it were a swearword. "It is no longer a hobby. I am not you."
"You are not happy," she screamed, rising from
her chair in a whirlwind of fury. "I see you day by day, walking by as if the
world meant nothing to you anymore. I know how the palace guards look for you
each day, and you avoid them as if death would avoid finally being put in a
resting place. Ever since you left, ever since Princess Raishre died, you have
been slipping from this world."
"Don't you ever say her name!" howled
Whisp, seizing an expensive glass ornament from the table nearby and shattering
it at the wall opposite Frathra. "You think you are any better, Frathra? Prancing
around with naught but money, being followed by mindless servants who would
leave you the instant you stopped filling their pockets with gold! You are no
more human than your own black, love lost heart."
"At least I have money to live," she whispered,
voice broken because Whisp had instantly seized what was wrong with her life.
Whisp snorted, an ugly sound. "Live? You only
have enough money to live? You have not seen children starving and dying on
the streets, parents selling themselves to get money for medicine for their
own infants. You have not seen how much pain and suffering there is, which could
be solved by the curse some call money. You have not seen…" whispered Whisp
finally, leaning closer, angry grey eyes aglow with hate and pain. "Or you choose
not to, so you can remain fat and happy, prancing about with naught but your
stupid, cursed gold."
They were spent, each alive with anger, but
they could not place words to form their rage for the life of them.
"You are not my mother," whispered Whisp furiously,
striding away from her livid mother, leaving the house -- never to come back.
However, Frathra stood there long after, gazing at the door that Whisp had slammed
shut. Whisp had said Frathra was no longer her mother?
Then Whisp was no longer her daughter. She had
no more obligations to her.
She went to the palace guards.
* * *
Whisp strode directly to the tavern she had not been in for so long with the
intent of ranting her remaining rage to Renah. She had long neglected Renah;
she saw that now. He had not deserved the injustice she did him.
As always before, she seated herself gingerly
upon the worn leather stool, immediately anticipating his rejection. However,
it was not the case -- the shy cloud Krawk broke into a wide, crooked grin upon
seeing her familiar, sheepish form.
"Whisp!" he cried, and they embraced, it had
been so long since they had seen each other.
"How I have missed you," he murmured after they
had separated. "I was wondering when you would come to see me again. I have
tried many times to find you, to no avail."
All the anger at her mother evaporated, Whisp
knew that it was all right now that she had a friend to talk to. Even the revenge
seemed a petty thing - what did another life matter? Would killing the one who
had killed Raishre really make a difference? Balance the score? Is that would
Raishre would want her to do?
All these thoughts shattered as if she were
leaping through the palace window again however, as she felt cold metal attach
themselves to Whisp's wrist. "Mercenary Whisp the Deathwoven? You are under
arrest, on grounds of murdering Princess Raishre," came a cold, uncaring voice
from behind her.
To be continued...