i.i Once More You Will Succumb
Dakota felt numb.
He should have just killed me. The bastard should have just killed me! Dakota threw a punch to the wall beside her and kept punching until her knuckles were stripped raw from flesh. The two horses inside could not help but move and neigh in fright. Captain stomped his hoof to ease Dakota's unwillingness to compromise her emotions. In the end, it was fruitless. The two horses could only watch Dakota beat herself until she could no longer feel anything.
She tensed up when she felt eyes watching her. Not only were the two horses looking to her, but that of the hooded figures. Their ever silent presence bring nothing but irritation to Dakota. They stand there and do nothing while she goes through these challenges of trying to navigate this world. What purpose do they stand for if not be something of her mind that manifested into real beings.
Only she could see them. Only she could feel their presence. She had already yelled at these silent figures, yet they continue to be around her. How she hated this feeling! How she hated being toyed with like some doll that is only good for a shelf. She was already tired. She was already feeling effects of her PTSD. No one could help her at this point. Dakota only relied on herself to keep her mental condition from spiraling out of control.
It's hard. It's so fucking hard!
Such a sight could break even the most strongest man. To see tears coming from her eyes in anger. Her teeth clenched tightly and her eyes burning with raw emotion. Every muscle seemed to contract with her movements and twitched. Captain looked over to Phobos, but the two horses could do nothing. How could they express concern when they did not speak human language? Animals were sensitive to the energy around them. They could sense the changing of their environment.
"How?" Dakota's voice cracked. "How can I still be alive when I should have died? Was everything just so I can become…" She looked down at her stomach. Feeling disgust inside at her true purpose for coming to this world. A sick joke. A sick fucking joke. What was so special about her blood that needed to be spread? Why not pick another if there are plenty of women that could harbor and consent to the worlds chosen fate for her?
"This is not my fate! I am more then some being who can give life. This is not my purpose. This is not me." She looked at her knuckles. Her hands shaking violently and the color of her skin changing many shades. Her body has been through the ringer and has been thrown, tossed, hit, punched, stabbed, and shot. She was scarred, but, something wanted Dakota to bare another life. Children were out of the question for Dakota since she was a child herself. How could she bring another life into this world when she was struggling to survive it?
She turned her back to the wall and slide down to the ground. Alone again. Alone and scared for what was to come. What good would her sitting alone, with these damaging emotions clawing at her insides, do to try and change the outcome?
Mother. Father. I need you. She looked to the ceiling of the ship. Hoping to hear voices she hasn't heard in years. The shadows surrounded her, almost in an attempt to console her. In some way, she felt their strength. She felt their sorrow pressing against her knuckles that hurt. The two horses moved unsteadily in their place. This feeling wasn't bad. It almost felt comforting to Dakota.
Get a hold of yourself. She thought to herself. Stopping the tears and wiping them away. Taking a deep breath to calm herself from going at a rage. The blood on her knuckles dripping to the wood beneath her and soaking into the ship. Looking at her own blood and seeing nothing special. It was just blood. She has seen it many times and for some reason, she has been told that her blood means something. Bullshit! All it is to her is metallic smell and dead cells.
The scar on her palm a constant reminder.
She closed her eyes. The memories that have been locked away for years have come out of the darkness. Times of happiness before the murders and leaving her alone to navigate the world on her own. Falling in with the wrong crowd. Constantly fighting and breaking bones. A confused young girl with no direction, only pain and anger. No one was there to comfort her or give her love- something she truly lacked. Dakota was looked at as a troublemaker with no future.
She proved them wrong when she joined the army. She made friends. She laughed. She found family. She found love. Only for it to be taken away from her in the blink of an eye. She got out and she denied the invisible war that was plaguing her mind. The very thing that she kept denying for so long. Drinking heavily and going back to her destructive ways. She was so close to making it in the ring. Dakota was close, but that war inside was winning. She contemplated never breathing again just to get out of the misery.
Tears once again fell from her cheeks in heavy droplets. She wasn't aware that a large muzzle was in front of her, breathing steadily. Dakota could feel the animals hot breath on her and she moved her arms around Captain. Hugging him tight to release everything. The years worth of trauma had placed its foothold on Dakota's body and soul.
For the first time, in a long time, Dakota had to let go for that moment. Her trauma would not vanish instantly, but it was a start.
"So, did you kill your father?" Barnabas asked, a grim look upon his face. Never did killing one's father turn to fortune. The god's themselves had bitter fate and there was always a bad omen that followed. It was surprising, but maybe not unheard of, of a man being a son of someone that held great achievements. Alexios being the son of a great general explained some of his actions, but Barnabas could not hold it to fact.
"Stepfather." Alexios said bluntly. Even though his mind was confused about it, Alexios still wanted answers. The more he digs into his own family roots, it seems that there was another twist to the never ending maze.
Barnabas was once again shocked at the outcome. In some small way, the older man had known that Alexios was not a man of simple background. "I guess the gods won't judge you too harshly for a 'step-patricide'."
The men were busy cleaning and placing new cargo upon the ship. They had noticed their captains presence as he looked out to the open waters. His own thoughts had been muddled by what his supposed father had said. The old man's façade of a general was stripped down and waiting for death. Unfortunately, Alexios was not going to give him an easy death. He could not put the blade in the man he once called father's throat.
Killing Nikolaos was mercy. He still needed him alive, but Alexios wasn't going to be the one to swing the final blow. The childhood he had remembered almost seemed to be a lie with fake smiles and warmth. Did it all really matter? Why would Nikolaos even raise children that were not his own, if he had a suspicion that they were not blood?
"Nikolaos raised me. Trained me. He was my father, even if he did try to kill me." Those memories and pain would forever be a part of Alexios. To accept it was easier, but he could never forgive that man for what he did. His sister was but a small baby and thrown over the mountain. A helpless baby who needed protection!
Barnabas could see the dark look within the young man. Conflicting inside and wanting to be set free. The same look that Dakota wears upon that pretty face that hardens like stone, but one could only see her pain and anguish. The poor woman has yet to come out and was hiding like a scared animal that would bite if one approached.
Barnabas knew something had happened between Alexios and Dakota, but it wasn't his place to say anything. The crew could feel it, but they also said nothing. Seeing the change in Dakota, she looked the part of her given name- lionhart. When they both approached the ship, Dakota looked over her shoulder with a death glare at Alexios. Her eyes ready to kill in an instant. Barnabas wanted to stop her from killing, but Dakota did nothing and left to her part of the ship. Not coming out for many hours.
"Is that better or worse?" Barnabas said, looking at Alexios. Fate and destiny intertwined . "No matter. Yours isn't the only complicated family in the world."
How many of the god's have had troubles? Fathers afraid of son's overthrowing them. Mothers jealous of their husbands cheating and bastard children. Gods who disobeyed and came to the mortals. Some interfered in conflict's. But it was not only the gods who have family troubles. It seemed that Nikolaos felt it as a duty to be a father to children of unknown lineage. Did he know? Was he aware? Barnabas could only guess at his own questions.
Seems I am not alone in my own turmoil.
Below them, Dakota had her arms crossed over her chest. Her knuckles bandaged and painted red from the fresh blood. Her lips a thin line, thinking of the events that transpired. She still felt that conflict inside of her. She could not be mad at Alexios for what he had said to her. There was nothing between them in any sense that could prove fate right.
Watching the crew moving back and forth to steady the cargo on ropes. Many of them looked over their shoulder at her, but they did not approach. They kept their distance from her as if she were a animal ready to bite. Dakota always had this threatening stance and it kept people at a distance. No one would approach her, unless they were looking to be embarrassed by her sharp tongue. This coping mechanism had been a part of Dakota since…
Enough. She thought to herself. She had to keep her mind at ease before she falls back into the hole she climbed out of. Her eyes were already red and puffy from crying. Her knuckles were already hurting and throbbing from her own self abuse. How much longer was she going to feel sorry for herself? She needed to focus on her mission of returning home. She needed to survive and figure out how she could escape this fate that had been sealed to Alexios and her. This was not her purpose.
The gods will know the anger and pain that I have held onto. Fuck fate! I will find a way to cheat. Dakota felt her lips twitch in a small smile. Her eyes that were dark and dull had flickered once more. She was determined to change this fate of hers. She was tired of the unknown pulling the strings and hiding in the shadows like cowards.
"Thanks. I'm glad to have you around, Barnabas." Alexios placed his hand on the older man's arm. His troubles seemed light now, but they were not yet dissolved. He looked below the deck to see Dakota helping one of the sailors with a crate that seemed to heavy for the boys thin arms. The boy shying away with a nod to his help made Dakota laugh at seeing this display.
"I'm happy to be here. Would anything else help?" Barnabas said, looking down to see the young woman moving about and helping the men. They did notice the bandage around her knuckles. If one looked closely at her, they could see her puffy eyes. The poor woman had been holding in her troubles and decided to let it all go. Though, she did not have to put her knuckles through the abuse.
To see Dakota smiling and interacting with the crew below, one had to wonder if she had some motive to escape her own fate. Dakota was not such a simple minded woman after all. If she wanted to change her own fate, she would go through the depths of the underworld to do so. She has survived this far by her own skills and determination to return to her homeland.
This set back that has to do with her blood would not stop her.
"Finding my marter. She's alive, Barnabas! At least, Nikolaos thought so." Alexios was filled with hope. There was light inside this darkness of the cave. With all that had been said, there could be a way to undo all the damage that had been done. Alexios has been missing a part of himself since he was a child.
"Some good news, praise Hera. What's your plan? What course should I set, captain?" Barnabas was feeling elated to see something shine within Alexios. The news of his mother being alive would give any child a sense of hope that the gods did not forsake them.
"For now, we go to Phokis. Elpenor said he'd meet me there. He owes me money and an explanation." Alexios needed the truth and the money promised to him.
"Aye, Alexios. And let's seek the wisdom of the Pythia while we're there. If anyone has the answer for you, it's the Oracle of Delphi." Barnabas stated.
"The Oracle's prediction destroyed my family." Alexios may have high hopes for finding his mother, but to hear about the Oracle had always left him with bitterness. Now with Dakota's true purpose, he could not help but wonder if the Oracle had seen this and the man- Kamir- has something to do with this foretold prediction. Why would the man, who was more an enemy, wanted Dakota to know her purpose. Kamir is a dangerous man.
"The Pythia has the wisdom of Apollo himself! Now I'll admit, if people choose to ignore her, they might court disaster-" Barnabas was a man who did not go against the powers of the unknown. Bad omens could fall upon good men who want to live such a decadent life. He would need to offer the gods a hefty gift to appease them and not place bad givings to him.
"If we'd ignore the Pythia, my sister would still be alive and our mother would be safe at home." Alexios said, not wanting to hear anymore of the Oracle.
"Back to business. You know where to meet Elpenor, I suppose." It was time to focus on the new tasks.
"His home is in Pilgrim's Landing. But… Nikolaos's last words to me were a warning of snakes in the grass." Alexios paused for a moment and looked to Dakota. He was hesitant to speak further about what Nikolaos said to him. Even Kamir's voice echoed in his mind like a serpent ready to kill. The unease of speaking of it had placed Alexios focus to Dakota who turned her head to look at both Barnabas and Alexios.
"He also told me to stay away from her bloodline. A child of our blood binds is both." Barnabas did not think he would be in even more shock.
Ikaros landed upon the railing with his eyes upon Dakota. The winds of change blew steadily across the ship with the voices of the sea calling out to those who could hear. Looking at the eagle, Dakota was not afraid to finally see her own reflection in Ikaros's eyes.