Chapter 4. The Storm

The Storm

Year of the Lilies

Torrid Season

The River



MAVLI RUNS TOWARDS ME, her feet slapping loudly on the hardened earth. She is smiling and yelling my name.

"Isla! Isla!" She runs into the river with full speed splashing water on me and drenching her dress.

"What is it?!" I ask terrified," what happened? Where's Cirok?" I glance behind us but there's no sign of the tall male.

Panting, Mavli kneels in the river to catch her breath. I quickly rinse the last of lather off my skin and wad out to dress up. Since there is obviously nothing wrong with her, I don't bother to probe further.

I pull on a pair of wool knickers and bandeau. Then I wear the dress I packed in my pouch; it has a flare skirt and a form fitting bodice. Like my knickers it's made out of wool. Then, I proceed to finger-comb my hair.

"Come on, Mavy," I say," dress up so we'll get going to the market."

Mavy stands up to her feet shaking and trembling like a lamb who is learning how to walk. 

"You won't believe what just happened, Isla," she gushes with wide happy eyes,"you can't begin to imagine it."

I can't help laughing at her unusually perky attitude. "Awe me, Mavy. What happened?"

"Oh, Isla guess."

"Guess?" I'm horrible at guessing. What could have possibly happened that has made Mavli very happy? She was quite grumpy when I left her with Cirok. 

Cirok! Maybe it's something that has to do with him. But what could Cirok have done that has made her happy? 

I'm aware of the longing Mavli has for Cirok. Could he have expressed the same for her? I shoo the thought away, Cirok wouldn't, would he?

Maybe she found something on the way here.

"Um... You found a coin?" I ask.

"What?" She frowns,"far from that."

Then it has to do with Cirok then.

"Cirok asked you for dinner at his family hut?" I ask. Most males do that to females they are interested in.

Mavy squeals in giddiness. "Almost there!"

But I'm blank. Nothing else comes to mind. I sigh in resignation. "You just have to tell me, Mavy."

With a flourish, she shows me her left hand and I feel all the blood drain from my face.

"No," I whisper in disbelief.

"Yes! Yes!" Mavy squeals like a child as she jumps up and down while clapping her hands.

"No!" My voice is louder this time, "No!" Mavli pauses and stares at me with confusion etched in her features.

"What do you mean by no?" Mavli asks. Her eyes are wild orbs, all happiness gone.

I take a shaky breath and try to calm my nerves. I can't lose my temper, I don't want to flare up. I won't like the consequences.

"Mavli," I take a step closer,"you can't get married." The onyx sits in its platinum bed mocking me. I hope Mavli understands. I place a trembling hand on her shoulder.

"Why not?!" She shrugs my hand off and takes a step back. She's eying me carefully like I'm a bomb waiting to explode. I don't blame her, with all the crazy emotions running through my mind I can only imagine how I look like.

"Try and understand me, Mavy. You're too young—" 

"That's not for you to decide!" She says to me with fire in her eyes. "I just knew you won't approve."

"What's that supposed mean?" What's she trying to say? I'm looking out for her. Mavy is too young to understand how relationships work, she's too young to be a wife. 

"It means that you are jealous of me, Isla!" She accuses. She steps back again. 

I feel something surge through my bones and wait eagerly at my fingertips. 

No, I won't let myself lose control.

"How can you say a thing like that, Mavy?" No doubt, her words cut deeper than a knife.

"How can I not?" She spits out. "You are a self-centered person, Isla. You love it when you are the sole thing on our parents' minds. No wonder you pull off reckless stunts to gain attention!"

My heartbeat quickens and my pulse comes a thunderous echo. I don't have the strength to reply to her, if I do I might lose all the control I have and only God knows what the outcome will be.

"Mavy," I groan with a wince, "stop." I shut my eyes and hold it in. I'm trying to calm the beast inside me.

"Stop what?" Her words are dripping with disdain. Had she always felt this way towards me? Had she always viewed me as the enemy? How had I not noticed? 

"I'm not stopping, Isla, she says my name with a sneer," I don't care if you unleash a storm on me. You are selfish! Did you think no man would want me because I'm not as beautiful as you? Are you jealous because I'm getting married before you? Did you want Cirok for yourself? Do you want him, Isla?" Her voice cracks and she begins to sob. My heart breaks.

I hear a distant rumble like a storm is brewing. Cold wind tickles me and becomes stronger. If she doesn't shut up, I don't know what I'm capable of.

Mavli gasps. "What are you doing? You want to send down rain in the Torrid?" There are huge tears in her eyes.

I force my eyes open and look at her. "Not if you'd shut up your loud mouth!" I snap and dark clouds cover the sky. I can hear what people will say already. Witchcraft.  Rainfall in the Torrid is always a bad omen and handwork of the devil.

"Mavy." I can still feel the tension, the anger somewhere in my chest. "I'm not competing with you. I don't care who marries first or if we marry at all. We are both still very young." I sigh as I begin to feel a familiar burning behind my eyes and without warning, a lone tear rolls down my eyes. "Don't you ever wonder what's beyond the horizon, Mavy? 'cause I do."

Her features soften a bit but harden again as quickly. She looks at the horizon. "It's dark and cloudy," and with a glare she adds,"thanks to you."

Something inside me breaks, shatters, crashes into a thousand sharp pieces. Rain starts to drizzle all of a sudden. Mavy looks at me with the most frightened expression I've ever seen.

"You made it rain in the Torrid!" She runs a few feet away and glares at me,"witch!" She hisses.

I can't take it anymore! I fall to my knees as a bolt of power leaves me, knocking out all the strength I have left.

"Wh-Why do you hate me so?" I manage to say though my voice is raspy and hoarse, she hears me perfectly well.

"Because you hate me, you know I love him, Isla!"

I see the flash of lightening. It's vibrant yellow strike makes Mavy jump long before the deafening thunder is heard 

"The rumours are right," she says proudly," you are a witch."

The scream that erupt from me is bestial and echoes even louder than the thunder. Mavli whimpers and begins to run away. Staggering to my feet, I will her to stay. Another deafening roar of thunder echoes and a strong wind picks up and the rain increases in tempo. The rain is so much that I can't see in front of me. It falls on me mercilessly, appeasing me of my anger, cleansing me.

Stay, Mavli. I think.

Mavy lets out a terrified scream as she is lifted up above the ground and is held up and tossed in circles by the wind.

"Isla! Isla! Isla!" She screams, her voice is droned out by the furious roar of the rain

I stand paralyzed and stare at my sister's suspended form.

"Drop me down, Isla! Stop this madness right now!" She commands even though it's very obvious that she's now at my mercy. I take a huge breath and will the wind to set her down.

I watch her scrawny, screaming form fall down to the earth with so much speed. She lies on the ground motionless and I run to her.

The storm is coming to an end; the rain is slowly stopping and the wind has waned.

"Mavy!" I sink to my knees beside her and break into sobs," I'm so sorry, Mavy."

She opens her eyes and I let out a shriek of joy. Her eyes fly open and I gather her in my arms, I can't hold back the flood of tears that break free.

"I'm sorry, Mavy. Please forgive me—"

Mavy pushes me away with a look that suggests disdain and hated. "I hate you, witch!" Shaking, she gets to her feet and runs like a gazelle trying to evade a predator. I stand up but stop myself from following her, she falls down with a yelp and a wince but gets to her feet again and resumes running.

And my heart bleeds.

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