"Mother" is an ongoing fiction series about Avalyn Rosewood and her search for the truth about her history. You can read the first installments here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.
Ava slammed the door behind her, hoping he'd have to spend the next day fixing that damn pocket watch. Then she felt bad; it was her fault that such an expensive piece was broken, after all. But that was beside the point. She expected more from him. More patience, more understanding.
Then again, she wasn't in any position to be expecting that right now. Of course he was upset, he didn't know her. She shuddered at the thought of having to drain such a significant part of her savings, but she needed to make this right.
Ava lifted her hand, searching for a taxi. Traffic was slow right now, though, and there weren't many taxis around. Frustrated, she plopped on a nearby bench just in time for a wave of nausea to knock her over. She doubled over, gasping for air.
What's going on? She panicked. Black spots filled her field of vision, and her head was cloudy. She was seconds from passing out when a car pulled up, honking at her. She now realized she was on the ground.
The driver flew out of the car and to her side. "Sweetie, are you okay?" It was an older woman with a sweet, Southern drawl. Oddly comforting. "Here, have some water. I have a towel in the back I can wet down and give you. Just keep still."
Ava muttered her thanks, holding her head between her knees. What just happened? One moment she's leaving and the next she's semi-unconscious. Only the sound of the horn a moment ago kept her above water. Maybe she was going crazy. She couldn't think straight, and when did the road start tilting?
Something cold and wet touched her neck.
"Here you are, dear." The woman said kindly. "Just take deep breaths."
Then, just as suddenly as it came on, the cloudiness in her head was abruptly gone. Ava could think clearly again, but she was left with a growing headache at the base of her neck. She wondered what Lily would think of this.
"Is there anyone you need to call, hon?" Ava started at the woman's voice. She had completely forgotten she was here.
Ava looked back at the shop, wondering if she should get Will's help, but thought better of it. Lily didn't need to know either; she was already concerned enough. She shook her head at the woman. "No ma'am, I can take it from here." She gave her a reassuring smile when the lady was hesitant. "I'll be fine."
First, everything was black nothingness.
Will couldn't tell if he was floating or swimming in this space, but he had never felt so detached from his own body.
Secondly, he saw everything.
Images flashed by like a sped up film he'd seen a hundred times. One moment he's standing at a threshold, feeling the weight of the crossing. The next he's surrounded by a different form of darkness. Then he's holding a copper key, determination in every inch of his body. Finally, the flash of an arrow.
The next thing he knows, he's been zipped back all the way to the beginning of the film. Watching scenes unfold from the images.
"Are you ready?" she asks him.
He looks past her to the home he's leaving behind forever. "How can anyone be ready for something like this?"
She frowns. It's not the answer she was looking for, but she understands. Their family and friends are among the hoard of spectators encircling them. Some are waving and cheering, but the rest are solemn. They know it must be done. They know it's their destiny. This is what they're made for.
Regardless, the pain of separation is intense.
"Are you coming or not?" his friend yells out to them, excitement etched on his face. He has no family here, only the crew already on the transport. There is nothing holding him down here.
Will crosses the threshold of the transport, his heart heavy with duty and loss. He looks at the woman next to him. At least he has her.
The film skips forward to a clearing.
His staff collides with the creature's head, piercing straight through to the tree behind it. As it falls, its revolting body disintegrates into dust at his feet. Behind him, the rest of his crew is advancing on the rest of the monsters. They're scaley and tall with bright yellow eyes. For lesser people, the sight would be terrifying. But his group is trained for this. Trained to protect.
"Where is she?" he asks his friend, landing a killing blow on the beast closest to him.
His friend shrugs. "Who the hell knows?"
The roots running under the creatures suddenly whip up without warning, holding them down. Will grins, suppressing the urge to laugh. He watches as the roots take hold, wrapping themselves around the creatures until they can no longer breathe. Then, there was just ash. He looks around, trying to find her to no avail.
Above him, someone whistles. He cranes his neck until he sees her perched on a thick branch a hundred feet up. She grins at his expression. "Up here."
Once again, the darkness enfolded around him until it spits him out into a dark room. It's like looking through another's eyes. Feeling what they feel.
The damp floor of the cave echoes with each step Will takes. Each step feels like another turn of the key he has in his hand.
"This won't last, William," the man in front of him hisses. "You may play judge and jury now, but no matter how much time passes, these bars won't always hold me."
William looks at him with nothing but scorn—and sorrow for what could have been. "You killed her. You deserve to rot down here forever."
The man, the one who used to be his friend, lowers his eyes. For just a moment, his mask breaks. "I wish I didn't have to."
"You didn't!" Will snarls through clenched teeth, grabbing the bars. His control is gone. The monster across from him flinches back. "It was a choice you made because you couldn't handle the pressure. You couldn't handle not getting your way. You're a child in a monster's body."
Now his whole world is broken.
Will desperately tried to escape the gagging nothingness, but it kept pulling his head back under. He feared it would never end.
He smooths his hand over the little mechanism, his adrenaline from the days of restless working completely drained.
"Finally," he whispers to himself. It's done. The pocket-sized watch is a masterpiece; the greatest one he has ever created. It's beautiful and powerful. It's the only way he'll get back to her.
He places the watch between him and the elemental girl in front of him. "Now listen carefully. If there are any mistakes, there's no going back." She nods, saying nothing. "I placed a few wards around this watch. They are few but powerful. One of them will keep it hidden from anyone who wishes me or it harm. Another will keep me from slipping."
"And the other?" She whispers, blue eyes wide.
He takes a beat to respond, but when does, it's slow. "The other has the crown here on the top. In order to wake me up, it must be pulled."
Lillian looks pained. "William, you're sure there's nothing else we can do?"
He shakes his head, sure of this decision. "I don't see any other options. If I'm to see my wife again, I need to stay one step ahead of him."
Her eyes brim with unshed tears, jaw tight. "Alright then, what do we do?"
Will takes one last breath, savoring his final moments of freedom. "We push the arrow down."
Will finally jolted awake.
Beside him, the arrow of the watch is pulled up.