Monogatari: The Tale of Castra (Part 2)

by Dylan Cullum 4 months ago in fiction

Part 2 of 5.

Castra and Fenora bow to the altar. In front of them the High Deacon is praying. The room is dilapidated, cracks and vines cover the walls. As he stands and turns smiling.

HIGH DEACON

How are you two?

CASTRA

We are well. High Deacon.

Fenora responds by giving a small bow. The Deacon walks towards one of the benches and sits on it.

HIGH DEACON

Good, good. I wanted to tell you—The reaper is getting closer.

CASTRA

The reaper is a fairy tale.

HIGH DEACON

It is a tale we tell you when you are young. But the reaper is very real, and very dangerous. The reaper is the one that spreads infection. We suffer because of HIM.

FENORA

Does that mean you want us to stop venturing forward?

HIGH DEACON

Go where you please for the sake of the younglings. But be on your guard, he is not forgiving, and if one of you are infected, I cannot let you in again.

CASTRA

We understand High Deacon.

HIGH DEACON

Good, good.

FENORA

We head out tomorrow, yes High Deacon?

HIGH DEACON

I would prefer if you remained so that you are fully recovered.

CASTRA

For the sake of the younglings, I cannot stay back and not help them. We survive together after all.

HIGH DEACON

Well said Castra, well said. I pray you the best for your hunt.

CASTRA/ FENORA

Thank you High Deacon.

HIGH DEACON

You may leave.

They bow and walk to the exit, echoes sound off, and light filters in from the colored windows. Garrol is outside, leaning against the wall, arms crossed. Seeing them, he smiles.

GARROL

What? Can't stay away from me?

CASTRA

I should be asking that question.

GARROL

Eight more days.

CASTRA

Till what? Your castration? Or the day to mark the occasion where you actually find your balls.

He walks to Castra invading her space, and towers over her. She stands her ground looking forward, her jaw visibly tense.

GARROL

In eight days, I will take you, mark you, and own you for the rest of your worthless life, and when you're broken, I'll replace you with your little—Friend—And then break her. Though unlike you, I might keep her as a decoration.

Castra moves her right leg fast and knees him in the groin. Grunting, he falls to his knees, breathing heavy. She lowers herself to his level, and whispers in his ear.

CASTRA

So—it IS to mark the day of your castration. If you ever talk to me like that again, I'll cut off what's left.

She stands up and looks down on him.

CASTRA

Not that there was much to begin with.

Castra and Fenora are sitting over the edge of the roof of the cathedral-like structure, the ward they live in. The younglings are playing down at the courtyard.

At the far edge of the courtyard is a large metal gate with walls climbing four meters. Beyond is a graveyard, untended, tombstones jutting out like misshapen rotten teeth. The land barren, and at the center is a giant withered oak.

Castra is holding a tile, tightening her grip till it cracks.

FENORA

We have enough trouble with the roof leaking without you contributing to it.

CASTRA

We're a team.

FENORA

We are.

Castra lets go of the tile and moves to hold Fenora’s hand.

CASTRA

We survive together.

FENORA

We do.

Fenora is looking to Jaden on the courtyard.

CASTRA

I don't want to fight like this any more.

The expression on Castra's face is one of sadness.

CASTRA

I don't want to fight so that I can be me—To not belong to someone else.

FENORA

I know. You have me.

CASTRA

Stay with me.

FENORA

Of course.

Fenora smiles in a comforting manner, moves her free hand to the top of Castra's head, and rubs it, messing up her hair.

CASTRA

What do you think would happen if the High Deacon found out?

FENORA

About what?

CASTRA

You know.

FENORA

About us, or the infection? At best, exile.

Castra moves her head and rests it on Fenora's shoulder. The two look out to the line where the land meets the sky. They stay in each other's company, simply being.

Fenora tightens her grip on Castra’s hand.

FENORA

It's about time to check.

CASTRA

I'm feeling fine.

FENORA

I'll be judge of that.

They sit facing each other. Fenora then moves her hands to the sides of Castra's head, and spreads out her fingers touching the head only with her fingertips.

A light blue energy flows from Fenora's hand, along her fingertips, and into Castra, causing her to take in a deep breath as the energy enters her.

Castra's eyes glow slightly, and at the outer rims of her pupils are a sickly yellow that act as if it were a liquid. Minuscule black spots moving in the yellow substance.

Fenora takes her hands away from Castra and looks at her.

CASTRA

I'm feeling fine.

FENORA

Well, you're not—The infection is getting worse.

CASTRA

I don't feel any different.

FENORA

You still need to be careful, we don't know what the infection does.

CASTRA

Apparently nothing.

FENORA

WE both know it's not nothing.

CASTRA

And what are you trying to say?

FENORA

Beating Garrol, wanting to run away with me?

CASTRA

It would solve everything.

FENORA

For you.

CASTRA

And you.

FENORA

What about Jaden?

Castra takes a moment. She looks into Fenora's eyes, and then turns to look down at the courtyard. The younglings. She furrows her brows, thinking. She then closes her eyes.

CASTRA

We can come back for him.

FENORA

When?

CASTRA

I don't know.

FENORA

In a day, a week, month, year?

CASTRA

I DON'T KNOW.

FENORA

Neither do I—he's my only family, and I am not leaving him here.

CASTRA

I can't stay.

FENORA

I'll help you leave, I'll tell them you died.

FENORA

If I have to choose between staying with you and keeping Jaden safe.

Fenora stands up and looks down to Jaden.

FENORA

I am keeping Jaden safe.

She leaves Castra on the roof by herself as the sun sets, dusk approaching.

Castra holds onto her head with both hands, gripping tight as pain shoots in her mind. Gritting her teeth, and opening her eyes, the yellow has spread to more of her pupils. Breathing heavier each second.

Letting out a grunt, she stands, unsteady, steps forward, and lets herself drop off of the roof. Her eyes turn yellow, and the ground rips up from her impact creating a crater.

Her fingers elongate into sharp points resembling a claw, she falls to her knees grunting, resting on her forearms, and placing her forehead on the ground. Propping herself up, she leans back against the wall of the building. Raising her head, she exposes her neck. The veins pulsing and standing out against her pale skin.

She tears the skin and veins on her neck with her claws, spraying the blood against the wall. Her body convulses and tenses up. Yet the wound on her neck is healing already. Her eyes turn back from yellow to their natural red. Her breathing slows down, hands return to normal, and the ripped skin was forming again.

Taking in a deep breath, she huddles against the wall crying, covering her face behind her knees, hugging herself.

Outside of Castra's view, the Maiden is hiding, hands clasped, covering her mouth. Terrified. She runs away.

The High Deacon is sitting with the distraught, crying, the Maiden in the prayer room is holding her hands, comforting her.

MAIDEN

I saw it High Deacon.

HIGH DEACON

I believe you.

MAIDEN

Castra is infected by the pestilence.

HIGH DEACON

My child–

She looks at the High Deacon. He moves his hand to the back of her head, and looks into her eyes. His eyes glow yellow. Red energy emanates from his hand, and flows into her.

HIGH DEACON

You saw no such thing.

Her eyes turn hollow.

MAIDEN

I saw no such thing.

The Maiden shakes her head returning to the moment. The energy stops flowing, and he releases her.

HIGH DEACON

Good, now run along with your duties.

MAIDEN

Thank you High Deacon.

She stands and leaves. The High Deacon leans back on the bench smiling.

HIGH DEACON

The words of the higher beings will come into fruition tomorrow—Once you leave these grounds, you may do as you wish.

Garrol's eyes turn to yellow and he smiles.

fiction
Dylan Cullum
Dylan Cullum
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Dylan Cullum

Currently a Film Student based in Liverpool.

See all posts by Dylan Cullum