Black/White: The Reckoning I
"Hell hath no fury like an armed woman scorned and prepared to battle."
- The Chameleon
- The Chameleon
The air in the castle was thick, so heavy that when anyone entered from the tempest growing outside, it clung to the skin, leaving a phantom wax-like coating behind. Firelight affected by the wind gusts from the outside flickered on the walls, distorting the shadows of the Lady in Black and her forbidding cape. Underlings watched warily as she marched past, sensing her wrath as it emanated off her taut body. No one asked any questions; if the stormy weeping from the Lady in White and the ominous clouds swooping in from the west were any indication, something indeed was amiss. And the Lady in Black was not going to hesitate to correct it permanently.
The Lady in White was a rather passionate young woman; she felt the same as she breathed--quick, deeply, and often. Due to her headstrong, tempestuous nature, she rarely acted on the advice of her opposite; it was limiting, she believed, and who wanted to be limited by Logic? She wanted to live, and in living, she wanted to experience everything, good and bad.
Needless to say, the Lady in Black ardently disapproved.
The Lady in Black was passionate in her own way; however, compared to her counterpart, she didn't consider herself as fragile, as easily deterred. She had been fighting to protect the Lady in White all of their lives since she was so precious to the balance of their lives, and at times the battle over the degree of that protection between the two of them seemed more taxing than the dangers that lurked amid them. The dangers that threatened to sully her innocence and generous nature. The Lady in Black, intellectually, understood that one should exist with such attributes, but the Lady in White squandered them on those who didn't deserve such attention. And again, she had gotten hurt in doing so.
But this would be the last time, the Lady in Black vowed. Her eyes narrowed as the words flashed in her brain, and anyone within seeing distance immediately jumped out of her way.
Finally she reached the quarters of the Lady in White. Predictably, the vast, plush space was outfitted in variations of white. The inundation of the lack of color nearly rendered the Lady in Black physically ill. She fought back the discomfort and searched the room for her quarry.
She found the Lady in White sitting on a padded chaise lounge in all of her tearful, ethereal glory. She wore a dress so white it was startling, almost wearisome, to the naked eye. A fitted bodice with short puff sleeves made her appear younger than her years, juvenile to her antithesis. Layers of silk and tulle fanned out around her, and her streaked light brown hair was artfully arranged in curls. A bouquet of white roses sat in her lap and she handled them gingerly as one of three attendants in white offered her a handkerchief to stem her tears. The remaining woman, clad in a hunter green dress, noticed the entrance of the Lady in Black and slipped silently away from her charge.
Faye pressed her lips together as she neared the Lady in Black. Misery swam in her gray-green eyes.
"She has been like this for seven days," Faye informed her in a low tone. "I have done all I can do short of finding that lowlife and cutting out his eyes."
If this had been a less grave situation, the Lady in Black would have smirked. Faye, in her outward appearance, was affectionate and maternal. However, on the inside, she possessed the heart of a warrior and would not hesitate to bear arms, which made her compatible with and respected by both the Ladies of Black and White.
"I have another pair of organs in mind," the Lady in Black said sourly as her foil sniffled loudly. Faye grunted her approval.
"I hope he is nowhere to be found," Faye said. "Have you heard any word on his whereabouts?"
The Lady in Black shook her head. "I have officers scouring the lands but so far, no one has discovered him. It is possible he is in his own territory by now and will not return here. If he were a smart man, he would not even think it."
At that moment, the Lady in White noticed the new occupant in the room. The tears abated fractionally and she leapt up toward Faye and the Lady in Black. The anticipation in her eyes was so profound, they were nearly screaming. Him, here? Please?
"Good evening, O Dark One," the Lady in White greeted her foil."Have you any news for me?"
The Lady in Black merely stared at her. "There is a storm coming. And it is all your doing so perhaps you should desist with your foolish emotions."
"My emotions are not foolish!" the Lady in White burst out furiously. The Lady in Black narrowed her eyes. "And if they run rampant, it is only because you have confined me like a criminal." She crossed her arms over her chest. "I demand to be freed to go find him."
"You cannot see him again," the Lady in Black told her flatly. "I forbid it."
The Lady in White looked defiantly at her opposite. "You have no right to tell me how I should live!"
In a show of anger, the Lady in Black unsheathed her sword, the quick action halting the breaths of Faye and the other maidens in the room. Before the Lady in White could swallow, the sword was at her graceful throat.
"As long as I am responsible for your protection, as long as you have the power to affect those around you, I have more than just the right to tell you how you should live. I have the power to control you."
"I am not a puppet," the Lady in White said ardently. "You cannot bend me to your will. I will exist on my own terms, whether you like it or not."
"If you could act rationally, then I suppose you could," the Lady in Black shot back. "However, since you insist on letting that mistake back into your confidence--"
The Lady in White moved sharply at the word mistake, forgetting that there was a weapon at her throat. Crimson dripped down her neck, down her chest, and stained the front of her dazzlingly white dress. One of the attendants gasped at the piquant contrast.
"Stand down before you kill her," Faye murmured.
The sword hovered in place a moment more before the Lady in Black lowered and sheathed it. Faye retrieved a clean handkerchief and had the bleeding Lady in White press it to her wound. She peered at the Lady in Black resentfully.
"He will not come back here," the Lady in Black said. "You may believe that he still has some loyalty to you, but it is nonexistent. You need to accept that truth so things can return to normal."
The Second of the Lady in Black, Captain Lockehart, strode in at that moment, diverting the attention of the Lady in Black. Despite his impeccable appearance in military regalia similar to that of the Lady in Black, he seemed troubled. He paused beside her before bowing to the occupants.
"My apologies for the interruption," Lockehart began, "but I believe the matter is urgent enough to warrant an intrusion."
The Lady in Black stiffened as sneaky suspicion wove its frigid, tingling fingers up her spine. The Lady in White too went still, but hope oozed from her every pore. Anxious, Faye took one step away from the Lady in White toward Lockehart, the question in her eyes that everyone else was thinking.
"What is the trouble, Captain?" the Lady in Black asked.
The room held its breath as Lockehart paused to take in the faces around him, their rapt interest. He seemed reluctant to reveal the reason for his being there. As that Truth dawned on the Lady in Black, she felt sickness and fury grapple for precedence in the pit of her stomach.
"Lockehart?" the Lady in Black pressed.
He raised his caramel-hued eyes to hers. Her breath quickened.
"Magellan is here," Lockehart revealed.
Magellan is here. The words sent sickness sprawling away in utter defeat, and fury exploded within her, leaving her insides searing. The unfettered optimism that slowly transformed the face of the Lady in White was utterly heartbreaking. Faye closed her eyes against the onslaught of the warring emotions. Something unintelligible flickered in Lockehart's eyes but he said no more.
The Lady in White jumped up from her haunches, alabaster skirts bouncing. "Magellan! Oh dear Magellan...I must speak to him! I must see him, you understand. Perhaps if I can reason--"
The abrupt end of the sentence was punctuated by the sound of her fragile, slight body colliding with the wooden floor. It was a rather unpleasant sound. Faye couldn't help but wince.
As The Lady in White whimpered at the pain, her inverse stood over her, face contorted with anger. A hard gust whipped the drapes so hard it nearly ripped them from their rod. Lightning crackled far off in the distance, strong enough to raise small hairs, even from that proximity.
"Do you not understand what you have done?" The sentence ended in a rough, low growl. "The abhorrent creature that stands on my hallowed ground threatens the very balance that keeps us alive. He has broken you when you have to be whole. Do you not remember what the first time was like? The storm that nearly killed us all?"
"It will be different this time," the Lady in White insisted passionately. "I can handle him." She climbed to her feet, slowly this time. It was almost like prey trying not to upset a predator. "He would not be here if he did not want to settle things. Please allow for me to converse with him. I will not lose control like the previous time."
The two young women, one Bright, one Dark, stared at one another. One clung to an innocent, foolhardy hope. The other sought for the eradication of something that did not belong. The power of that gaze and the opposing sentiments hummed in the air for what seemed an eternity.
"Lock her in the Tower," the Lady in Black ordered tonelessly.
Lockehart gave a signal to soldiers hovering outside the entrance. As the darkly clad men came toward her, the Lady in White took a step backward in an attempt to evade them, shaking her head hysterically. She whimpered the word no, and as they became more forceful in her containment, that tiny word grew in volume until it filled the room with its shrillness and sorrow.
Her three attendants wept as she struggled against captivity. Faye's lips trembled, but no tears came forth. Even though the officers had managed to drag the Lady in White from the room, the ghost of her grief lingered in the still air.
"I want to go with you," Faye said simply, pale eyes glowing with fury. "I want to cause him harm."
Before the Lady in Black could, Lockehart shook his head and placed a hand on Faye's shoulder. "My dear friend, you will be better in use here where you can console our Bright One. She needs to hear a voice of reason that she trusts, and quite frankly, she loathes the very air that sustains our lives. That is perilous at this critical juncture."
As Faye considered his statement, the Lady in Black added, "Perhaps you should sedate her. I believe that will prevent her from escaping."
Believing that the matter was done, the Lady in Black started to turn away when Faye remarked, "I believe she needs some sort of closure. Perhaps a moment in his presence might mend her."
"And so she does deserve an appropriate ending to this madness," the Lady in Black concurred. "But it will be at my hand. I will not be dissuaded in this matter."
Seeing that she could not persuade her Dark Comrade, Faye uttered nothing more. Cape swirling, the Lady in Black whirled and headed away and down, her quick footfalls a fierce drumbeat to the cacophony of the sobbing of the Lady in White heading in the opposite direction, away and up. Metal clanged against metal as the Lady in White was incarcerated against her will. Her pleas were faint but piercing. But the Lady in Black would not buckle against them. This was for her own good.
This time the battle for the preservation of the Lady in White would wage between the usurper Magellan...and the Lady in Black.
And she didn't plan to lose.