Chapter 9.14 – Needle

The ground begins to rumble beneath Kacey’s feet, as though Sunset Valley itself were in upheaval over Hendrake’s assault.
 
Kacey has seen, firsthand, the vast network of underground caverns and tunnels beneath Sunset Valley. And she can sense now, that they are filled with the same monstrous creatures that visibly stream like molten lava, out of caves and crevices in the foothills. Hendrake will destroy this world looking for her and Adam; possibly this entire reality. That is, unless they find a way of removing themselves from it.
 
A sick, seaward wind hurls itself from the bay, as though clashing with the vile demons bleeding out from somewhere deep with in the earth. Panic begins to overtake Kacey’s judgement, and she runs back toward the beach where she had landed her boat. It does not occur to her that in her natural state, she could easily take wing and fly to her destination.
 
Unfortunately, she has never moved beyond the scared little-girl who was left alone in that cave while the only advocate she’d ever had on this world was burned to death. Her “mother” had done the right thing, of course. There is no arguing that. She had been protected from the then-living Corwin. But more importantly, the cavern sufficed as a  shield, protecting her from the being that now calls itself Hendrake. Her formative memories of childhood are not those cherished moments playing with swing-sets and baby-dolls. They are, instead, dominated by the sense of awaiting her own murder, as the unseen beast sniffed around her with terrifying proximity. Indeed, she had survived. But Kacey is left with the torture of remembering. (see Chapters 8.10, 1.12)
 
Her silvery hair is whipped wildly around in the unholy gale blowing in from the sea. The sea itself, it seems, has become a threat. Hendrake’s presence has provoked the attention of other …things. They are unspeakably evil and impossibly ancient, and have become drawn to Hendrake and his unusual display of power on this little speck of a world. If she weren’t so afraid, she’d cry for this place and it’s inhabitants. She can hear their dying screams, even now.
 
A figure is waiting for her by the boat. It is Adam’s brother, Noah; the one who calls himself Caine. He sneers at Kacey over the howling wind and demands to be told where she is hiding Adam. But Kacey does not acknowledge Noah. A black, oily mass of squirming, gigantic, trunk-like tentacles has emerged from the sea, expanding menacingly toward her. They instantly smother Noah, while also smothering his startled cries of terror.
 
Perhaps it is some fight-or-flight instinct that sparks a keen lucidity from within Kacey’s troubled psyche; or perhaps it is something else. Her fear parts like a veiled curtain, allowing her to finally embrace herself for what she is.
 
Neither Kacey nor Adam were conceived in the same manner as other sims. Noah was the biological fusion of his mother’s and father’s DNA knitted together through a physical reproductive process that, while mundane, is still worthy of awe. Kacey’s and Adam’s origins are not so simple. They are living beings whose physical forms are insubstantial and inconsequential; manifested from a primal concept and brought to life in a domain where such concepts are real and tangible. In essence, they are the manifestations of perfect love; an articulation of the perpetual, loving bond forged between a mother and a father under the auspices of that which begat the universe.
 
That is what Deirdre had been trying to tell her; but lacked the understanding necessary to effectively verbalize it. Julian had told her to remove the dagger from her side. The dagger, of course, represents the abuse she had suffered over her curiously long lifetime.
 
With love comes forgiveness; and the forgiveness frees her. Wings unfold with a grace and beauty that cannot be effectively described. She leaps into the sky and speeds toward Adam, toward her love, with a single-minded clarity she has never once in her life enjoyed. And oddly, she finds herself smiling.
 
The monstrous tangle of oily, black tentacles have retreated back into the sea, leaving no sign of Noah. Those same horrific appendages now assail the lighthouse, squirming up the sides of the building; hundreds of hellish constrictors crushing the landmark to rubble. She penetrates the mass with the ease of a hot needle through wax, and emerges from the other side with Adam in tow. There was no sign of Jopin, as he had likely fought to the end to protect his ward.
 
She does not look back as she soars high into the sky, and away from the doomed town. It will not take long for Hendrake to realize they have fled. And once Sunset Valley has been reduced to an uninhabitable wasteland, he will come looking for them. She and Adam must both leave this place. But first, she must rest.
 
 
Ancient ruins lay scattered about the world. They are the artifacts of an age where reverence had been never been in question. These hallowed, sacred places are where sims once came to give thanks and praise to that which created everything. They now sit unused and forgotten; much like the ideals that had seen them originally built.
 
Kacey is welcomed by the warm glow of lit candles and the soft voices of those who had once sung their praise to the almighty. They will be safe here. For a little while, at least. She lays Adam down in a primitive bed and covers him with simple linens she’d found nearby. No longer quaking from the pain of his injuries, Adam settles into a soft breathing rhythm. Kacey lays tentatively beside him and attempts to process what has happened. Before drifting off into her own slumber, she mumbles a small, but powerful prayer.
 
 —
 
Thank you.
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