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Shadows of Destiny
by Aelyva
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Big thanks to Madelaine and Ruby for their wonderful beta-reading! ;)

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Part Eight ~ Battles and Confusions

I am bad. I am evil. Right? It feels so wrong. Confusion runs through me. I still feel the darkness in me, but it's fading away, slowly. I want it to stay. It comforts me. It gives me so much power, so much life. Does it? It makes me complete. Doesn't it? I don't know anymore. I'm not sure of anything anymore.

That's because of him. He's the confusion. He's the one making the darkness leave. I need to get rid of him. What he makes me feel is…good. And that's why he has to be eliminated. I tried to before; it didn't work. All those memories come flowing into my mind every time I try to destroy him. But I'm not giving up. Soon he'll be gone and the confusion will stop. Finally.

~*~*~

Sounds of birds reached his ears like a soft symphony, an orchestra lead by nature. A dream, he must be dreaming. But why was it so dark? Was it nightfall? Maybe.

Then, he felt the pain. His head hurt. He felt like someone was hitting his head with a hammer every five seconds. What kind of dream was that? He decided to wake up from this now unpleasant dream.

His eyes refused to open. Or maybe he was now blind? Sinbad tried to move, but his body refused to obey him. Blind and paralyzed?

Sinbad tried to remain calm. He concentrated on his surroundings. No sounds, just a peaceful atmosphere. He was about to drift back into unconsciousness when he felt something kicking him in his side. He groaned.

No, this wasn't a dream. He knew that voice. His eyes glanced toward the direction of the voice. At first, all he saw was a blur, but soon his eyes returned to normal. Bryn. She was standing near him, arms crossed on her chest, an angry look in her eyes, mixed with impatience and…something else he couldn't define. Shrugging, he painfully got up on his feet, one hand on his side that Bryn had kicked, the other resting on his forehead. "Did you have to kick me so hard?"

"You didn't want to wake up. Lazy ass," she spitted. "I could have done so much worse. Consider yourself lucky."

Sinbad ignored her last remark. He just didn't felt lucky at all. "What happened? I remember saving that boy from his burning house and then…"

"Some debris fell on your head, knocking you unconscious," Bryn explained, a look of boredom on her face. "So weak," she mumbled, loud enough for Sinbad to hear.

"So how did I arrive here?" Sinbad asked, pointing to the small hill they were standing on. He could see the village in the distance, looking smaller than it was.

Bryn didn't answer. Inside, she wanted to kick herself for helping him. Helping him! What was she thinking? Her goal was to kill him, not to save him! 'This is all their fault! If they hadn't removed my memories, nothing like this would have happened. After I'm done with the sailor, I'm going to hunt them down and make them pay for making this body good!'

Anger boiled inside her. Directed at Sinbad. The good that still remained in her prevented her from killing him, and it filled her mind with those annoying flashbacks that left her confused and…

Bryn shook her head, refusing to think about it. She needed to get rid of the goodness within her. And of course, it was still inside of her because of him. She couldn't kill him because she was stuck with a small part of goodness within her. That made her hatred for Sinbad stronger.

'Damn. Maybe I shouldn't have killed Karpan yet. He could have been useful to kill the dear captain.'

Sinbad's voice brought her back to reality. "How did I arrive here?" she heard him ask again. She sighed. "I don't need to answer your questions. I should have let you lay there." 'Even better, I should have killed you while you were unconscious,' she thought.

"You must have a reason for not letting me lay there. It's okay if you don't want to tell me."

A reason? What was the reason she dragged him away from the burning town? A good question. No answers. Bryn hated when she didn't possess the answers. And when she hated something, anger consumed her. And the only person present at whom she could lash out was Sinbad.

"Maybe I didn't leave you there because I wanted the pleasure of killing you myself."

Sinbad decided to try another tactic. He wasn't sure it would work, but it was his last chance. "You're bluffing. You know as well as I do that you simply can't kill me."

Bryn stared at him, shocked. Then she became angry. And frustrated. It was true; for some reason, she wasn't able to kill him. And the fact that he told her that, even if he was just guessing, made her beyond angry. "You-you have some nerve…I can kill your little sorry ass in a blink of an eye. And you wouldn't be able to stop me. Only a man with an ego as big and endless as the sea would say something like that! People calling you their 'hero' went to your head more than you thought, dear captain! You think that I can't kill you because you're so irresistible? Is that what you think? You're so full of yourself! Just because half of the single women throw themselves at your feet, don't think that I'm going to do the same. Is that what you think I'd end up doing? Well, you are wrong, you are so wrong! And you-"

Sinbad noticed that Bryn was babbling, looking everywhere but at him. His eyes stopped at her mouth that went on talking, and without thinking further, he rapidly moved next to her, brought her head close to his and kissed her.

Bryn would have fallen on the ground with shock if Sinbad wasn't holding her waist with one of his hands. His other one, she felt, was resting on the base of her neck. He…was kissing her! She wanted to push him, hit him, make him stop, but she didn't have the courage to do so. The feelings that his kiss brought out in her made her feel like she was flying. It was so good…much better than the first time he kissed her good side.

Sinbad sighed in relief as he felt Bryn relaxing slightly. He hadn't been sure what her reaction would be. She wasn't kissing him back, but he could feel that she was enjoying it. He brought her closer to him as his tongue entered her mouth and started exploring.

So good…it felt so good… Her knees weakened; everything around her started spinning. 'Good? It's not good, Bryn! Wake up and get control of your stupid hormones!' Startled by the voice in her head, Bryn suddenly came back to reality and finally understood that Sinbad, Sinbad was kissing her! With all the rage bottled within her rushing out at once, she pushed him to the ground, repulsed.

She had been acting so weak. Watching Sinbad fall on the ground, she passed the back of her hand on her mouth, wiping away the memory of his kiss.

~*~*~

Caipra sighed and sat in her favorite chair near the window. Firouz, Doubar and Rongar just left to see Shanna. Seeing them so young made her feel older. She was still strong and healthy because of her magic, but her heart felt old and lonely. 'Ah, Dim Dim, my dear husband. I wish I could be angry with you for leaving me alone once more, but I can't. I only want you back, so we can live the years we have left together.'

Sighing again, Caipra slowly rose to her feet and looked at a painting of her husband on the wall. A small smile appeared in the corners of her mouth as she remembered how she managed to convince him to have his portrait painted. It took days and a lot of good arguments but in the end he reluctantly accepted.

Good memories were all she had left now.

Her thoughts then went to Sinbad. Doubar didn't tell her much about his little brother, only that he was fighting to get a friend back. But she knew. She knew he was trying to bring Bryn back to the good side. If only he had consulted her before jumping head first into this crazy adventure without a plan. She would have warned him.

A discreet cough came to Caipra's ears and she turned around, surprised. "Maeve! I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't hear you." She smiled, happy to see the red-haired sorceress once again.

"I'm sorry. I found a way to communicate with you again and since Lea and I were so bored…"

The little girl next to Maeve smiled shyly at her. "Hi."

Caipra nodded. "You were Sinbad's childhood friend." It wasn't a question, but a statement. "Doubar and his friends left a little while ago to meet Shanna."

"Do you think she'll be able to help us?" Lea asked the older woman, hope in her voice.

"I don't have the answer to your question my child. Maybe she can. Maybe she knows someone who could if she can't." She smiled reassuringly. "Let's wait for the boys to get back. To pass the time, tell me about this place where you are. I am curious."

Maeve sighed. "The sky is gray night and day. No sun, so stars, no clouds, no moon, nothing. The ground is brown everywhere. No grass. In some spots, there's a lone tree without leaves."

"It's so silent. A silence that makes you shiver with fear," Lea continued. "The times goes so slowly, but we don't grow old. I have no idea how long I've been in this place, but I can say it's been at least a decade since Sinbad is now an adult. As for myself, I'm stuck in this little girl body forever."

"Since I arrived, I've met only two other people besides Lea," Maeve added. "So it's rare you see someone. I'm lucky Lea and I are together because, alone, boredom comes easily and there is no way out." She paused, seeing Caipra's eyes fill with sadness for them. "It's so big but, since it's the same everywhere, you get the impression that it's small."

"There is a cliff with a never-ending ocean," piped up Lea.. The water is black, so black! I think the cliff defines the place. We are surrounded by the ocean, but I never saw it before Maeve came. Beyond the sea, there's just emptiness."

Caipra sadly looked at the two girls…no, at their two images…She fervently hoped that Shanna could help them.

"We have to go. The connection is fading away," Maeve said. "It was nice talking with you."

"You two take care. Everything will be fine in the end," Caipra answered, waving her hand as they vanished. 'I hope.'

~*~*~

Shivering and still in shock, Bryn quickly glanced at Sinbad who was lying on the ground. He-he kissed her. He kissed her! How could he? For that, he needed to die slowly and very, very painfully.

She heard him groaning and she turned away from him, disgusted. She could still feel the soft touch of his lips on hers… and she hadn't even resisted! Worse, she had almost kissed him back. Thank Allah, she had pushed him away before she lost control of her senses. 'I'm going to have nightmares about this for a long time,' she thought bitterly.

How deliciously good it felt. How…right.

Bryn took her head in her hands and silently moaned. She had been so close to completely removing the goodness within her. And because of the dear captain, it grew back a little, taking a bit of the darkness away. She had to get rid of Sinbad before all the evil in her vanished. She could feel her good part struggling to take control again.

'I won't let you! Do you hear me? You're too weak…' Bryn screamed at the remaining piece of goodness within her. She turned back to face Sinbad who finally got up and was looking strangely at her.

'You die today.' She looked into Sinbad's blue eyes, anger flashing in her brown ones. "You had no right to do that."

Sinbad smiled at her. "You looked like you needed it."

"Needed it? I certainly didn't need it! You seem to forget that the Bryn you knew doesn't exist anymore."

"You know what? I don't believe you. You're still Bryn, just with your mind clouded with darkness. But you know what? I'm gonna make sure it'll go away," Sinbad told her, his blue eyes shining with determination.

"You're wasting your time! Don't you understand? It's never going to go away. The darkness has always been a part of her-me. She just didn't remember it because of her memory loss. Now that it's back, nothing can make the evil go away."

Sinbad clenched his fist. "You're wrong. You're still Bryn, the same one that I met on that island. You'll always be Bryn," he whispered.

If she stood there listening to his soft voice one more moment, she would go crazy! It needed to stop now. She discretely took the little knife hanging on her belt in her hand. Magic didn't work the last time she tried it, so maybe the good old methods would have some positive results.

She jumped toward Sinbad, the knife directed at his heart. She was getting closer. She smirked. This time it would work.

But as the knife was about to hit him, her hand opened up and it fell on the ground. Bryn observed it fall in slow motion. And then…

Flash.

~*~*~

Following the directions given to them by Caipra, Doubar, Firouz and Rongar soon found the right place. Located in the poor section of the town, it looked deserted and in ruin.

"Are you sure it's the right place?" Doubar asked Firouz as he observed the building critically. "I've been to places like this one before and the stuff happening in them was probably illegal. Certainly not the kind of place to find help."

"It's the right place. Look, that's the bookstore Caipra told us about. Let's go."

While Firouz walked to the building, Doubar gave a little push to Rongar. "After you," he said as he made a little obeisance.

Rongar smiled and followed Firouz, slowing shaking his head; Doubar took up the rear. When they joined Firouz, he had already knocked on the door. There was no answer.

"There's no one. We better leave," Doubar declared, already moving.

"Wait, I think I heard something!" Firouz said. A moment later, the door was slowly opened. "Uh, hi! We're looking for Shanna," he called, not seeing anyone.

"Who are you?" a throaty voice asked.

"My name is Firouz and these are my friends, Doubar and Rongar, and-"

"What is your purpose here?"

"Purpose? We need Shanna's help."

"Really? Then how did you find this place?"

Doubar spoke before Firouz had the chance to answer. "Look, can we see Shanna, yes or no? We don't have a lot of time and I'd rather not spend it here, talking with a voice through an almost closed door! You could at least show yourself!" Doubar said, angrily.

"Doubar…" Firouz warned.

"Don't 'Doubar' me, Firouz! I say we go back to see Caipra. She'll know someone else to-"

"Caipra? You know Caipra? Why didn't you say so sooner?" The door was completely opened now. "Please come in!"

Rongar gave a friendly tap on Doubar's shoulder and entered.

"For once, I won't complain about you losing your temper," Firouz told him, an amused smile dancing on his lips. He then followed Rongar in.

Doubar shrugged and entered, closing the door behind him. At the sight of the room in front of him, his eyes widened. It looked like nothing he imagined from the outside. There were so many books. He never thought it was possible to have so many different books in one place. The carpet covering the floor was pale shades of blue and green, giving the room a calm atmosphere. There were dozens of candles lighting the room. And his nose detected a very good smell.

He saw that Firouz and Rongar looked as surprised as he. He then noticed movement in the corner of his eye and he almost gasped. A woman, Shanna he deduced, was standing near a bookcase observing them with a smile. She had long grayish hair wore in a simple ponytail. Her eyes were as dark as the night and her skin as pale as the snow. She was wearing a simple navy blue robe.

"A-are you Shanna?" Firouz asked when he found the capacity to talk again.

"Yes I am. I welcome you to my house. There is one rule: all you see and hear must never be revealed to anyone. Breaking this rule would be your death." She smiled. "I hope I did not scare you, but you had to be warned. Now, let us sit down and you will tell me why you need my help."

Firouz, Rongar and Doubar sat down at the table she pointed out to them. Firouz cleared his throat. "Two friends of ours are trapped in a place from which they cannot escape. All they want now is to be able to reach Heaven and for the sake of their memory, we want to help them."

"They are both good persons who don't deserve to spend eternity in a place like this one. If you can, please help them!" Doubar added.

Shanna slowly nodded her head. "Ah yes, they are trapped in the Plane of Spirits, a much deserted place."

"I don't like the name of that place," Doubar stated, shivering. It is unjust that Maeve and Lea are stuck there! "Does that mean you can help?"

"I know the spell and the ingredients required, yes. But I cannot do it."

Firouz jumped on his chair. "What? Why not?"

"It is a very powerful spell. I am both too old and not powerful enough to chant it."

Despair suddenly filled Rongar, Firouz and Doubar.

~*~*~

The little girl hid behind a bush. She could see a village not far away from her hiding place. For three days she had been walking in the forest, running as far away as possible from the two men she left behind, dead. So ashamed of herself, she didn't want other people to see her -- scared that what had happened could happen again. She didn't want to kill people.

'Oh mommy, I miss you so much! What am I going to do?' No one would want to welcome a cursed little girl in their home. A child of the devil, they would call her.

She tried to look at the village without being seen. It was bigger than where she lived; a lot of people were outside, working, playing, walking. They all seemed happy. How she wanted to join them! But murderers weren't allowed to live with the rest of the world.

Sighing, the little girl turned around to leave but she bumped into something hard, sending her onto the ground. Frowning, she looked up and saw that a tall man stood in front of her observing her with his black eyes.

Scared, the girl backed away until her back touched the bush behind her. Wide eyes gleaming with fear, she waited for him to kick her, scream at her or kill her. But the man kept observing her silently, before kneeling in front of her.

"You are not from around here, are you? Are you lost?"

Little Bryn shook her head. "N-No. I-I come f-from V-Va-Varia," she managed to say.

The man frowned lightly. "Varia… That's far in the north. Surely, a young girl like yourself isn't traveling alone. Where are your parents?"

"My-my mommy told me to run away from our house," she told the man. Somewhere inside her, she had the feeling she shouldn't be telling those personal events to the man. She shouldn't trust him. But he didn't seem bad.

And you have nowhere to go," the man replied, a smile on his lips that gave Bryn the creeps. "Tell me, what is your name, child?"

"Bryn."

The man jumped, shock written on his face for a moment, but it was gone so soon that Bryn thought she imagined it. He couldn't know her; it was just her mind playing dirty tricks on her once again.

"And tell me…Bryn. You talked about your mother, but what about your father?"

Bryn shrugged. "He died when I was a baby." She wondered why he was asking her all those questions. She only hoped he wouldn't hurt her mommy!

The man got up on his feet, his smile reappearing on his lips. To Bryn's surprise, he held his hand out to her. "Would you like to live with us for awhile? A little girl shouldn't be on her own; we live in a dangerous world, my child."

Taking his hand gratefully, Bryn got up, surprised by the kind proposition. "You-you want me to live with you? Why?"

"I just can't let you stay here by yourself. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you." Holding Bryn's tiny hand, he guided her to the village. "Come, I'll take you to my village and I'll show you your new home and, there, you'll meet your new sister."

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Written: October 15, 2001