“The Revenant” by Elena Ellison

The Phantom floated in the corner of my room, laughing madly, pointing a misty hand at the canopy of my bed. It swirled and spun, spreading misty tendrils that hid my room in shadows and ghosted through the deep blue silk hangings, down through the white carpet and into the stone floor. The tendrils shied away from the mirror and snaked into the closet wrapping around my clothes. It wrapped around me cold and chill, promising retribution, revenge.

The Phantom wailed and whined, blowing freezing wind everywhere, permeating my room, my skin, choking the life out of me. It followed me everywhere, never shutting up, distracting me, destroying me.

No one else sees the wraith, not my family, not my friends, not the wizards, witches, or warlocks. No one sees it but me. No one feels it but me. And no one ever hears it but me. It frightens me but I can't tell anyone or they'll say I'm mad. They all look at me funny anyway.

The Phantom whirled faster and faster. The mist tightened around my neck, choking me. I recoiled into a corner, pulling as far away from the Shade as I could, whimpering all the while.

"M'lady Karyn?" a voice called. The Phantom whirled even faster, closer and closer to me. It's maniacal laughter filled my ears. "M'lady Karyn, are you in there?" I stared in terror as the Specter came still closer. The door creaked opened.

"Princess, learn to answer your elders," a woman said querulously. "Your lady Mother bids that you attend her at once. Lady Karyn, are you listening to me?"

She stood in front of me, the Phantom hovering over her head. It's mist did not touch her, even though It looked upon her in hatred. I looked at her, trying to focus on her head and not the wild wraith. Mother's maid Helene stood there, tapping her foot impatiently.

"Mother wants me?"

"Yes, M'lady, immediately. You aren't even dressed properly, Lady Karyn. Whatever is wrong with you?" I remained silent, my eyes drifting up to my unwelcome companion. Helene swung around and went to the closet. "Sapphire, I think," she muttered, pulling out a long satin gown, "and a white undertunic. Come here, my Lady."

I approached her slowly, staying close to the wall, staying as far from the Phantom as I could. "Hurry up, M'lady. Your mother is waiting." Impatiently, Helene stalked over to me jerked the simple bliaut that I was wearing off, and just as swiftly slipped on the tunic and gown. "Button yourself up, please."

Helene rushed across the room and grabbed the matching blue slippers, my hairbrush, and a white hair ribbon. She thrust the slippers at me, and after I stepped into them, she turned me around so that I faced the wall, and the gibbering, screaming Revenant.

She began to briskly brush my hair. I whimpered as the Phantom reached for my throat.

"Don't whine, M'lady, I hardly pulled your hair," Helene snapped. She was not being gentle, but I scarcely noticed. She tied my hair back in a tail with the ribbon. "You'll do," she sniffed, "barely."

Helene dragged me from the wall and across the room. The Phantom cried out gleefully and darted after us.

The halls were crowded, but all the people parted like the Shalil Sea and dropped into deep bows and curtsies. The court wizard, Zarnin, approached and the Phantom hissed balefully, it's hands flexing hungrily.

"Princess," Zarnin said, "you are looking well." I did not answer. Instead, I watched the phantom warily. It's mist was floating wildly everywhere as It seethed in anger.

"All give way before Prince Kyvron," a voice bellowed. Helene jerked me out of the way of my brother's guards and straight into the wraith's transparent body. My breath choked off and I began to fall. Zarnin caught me and made it look as if I'd just been curtsying to my younger brother, the Crown Prince. I still could not breathe, and Zarnin's spell infuriated the Spirit.

"Helene," Kyvron's petulant, spoiled voice rang out, "why are you not with my Lady Mother, the Queen, your mistress?"

"Her Majesty has sent for your Lady Sister, the Princess Karyn."

"He snorted. "Walk on, guards." The Phantom glared and cried out in frustration as my brother walked off, ignoring me. It howled for reparation ending in a wordless shriek. The scent of madness and of rotting flesh roiled from It's incorporeal body.

Again, Helene pulled me across to my Mother's apartments. Now Zarnin accompanied us. I do not know why, nor do I really care.

Cold hands trail over my shoulders. "You will pay. You'll all pay," the voice hisses as it always does. What does It want us to pay for? Why does it haunt me? It never says. It is mad as some in the palace are beginning to say I am.

We left Zarnin outside the door. Helene jerked me into Mother's apartments and sank to the floor, pulling me with her.

"Helene, what took so long?" Mother whined, sounding very much like Kyvron. "You left ages ago and I need my fan and they've been bringing me the wrong ones. And they are simply incapable of bringing proper food and drink, and they don't serve it properly. Have them whipped, immediately. Have yourself whipped too, for not training them properly. Where have you been?"

"My apologies, my Queen. I have been getting your daughter, the Princess Karyn. She was not in a fit state to approach Your Majesty's most august presence. I had to make her presentable. Would your majesty care for me to fetch the correct fan and suitable food and drink before the whipping?"

"Yes, do that. And I want the whipping done in here."

"Of course, Your Majesty."

"You may go." Helene rose from the floor and scurried to do mother's bidding. "Karyn, approach." I rose, pulling from the Phantom and approached Mother's throne. She languidly held out one pale hand for me to kiss. Carefully avoiding Mother's voluminous skirts, I sank back into the curtsy and kissed her hand.

The Phantom howled in anger and thrashed, reaching for her. A murderous wave of emotion poured from It. I trembled and it swung on me, reaching out, a deadly cold pouring over me. The Wraith stopped as if it recognized something. It began to laugh insanely. "It's not time yet," the Phantom bowed mockingly to Mother and glared upon her in hatred. Then for no reason at all that I could see, and to my shock, my tormentor smiled knowingly and vanished.

"Why were you not dressed and ready to attend upon me, you worthless chit?!" Mother said icily, angrily, and in the tone that has always led to my being punished, ever since Kyvron was born ten years ago, when I was seven.

"I did not know that you wanted me so early, Your Majesty," I said hesitantly.

"Early. Did I hear you say early, you ungrateful creature? I gave you life. You should wait upon me at all times. You should bring my food and drink, you should taste it to see that I do not get poisoned. But, no, you are an ungrateful thing who abuses her position as Princess of the land." I could see that Mother had had too much to drink last night, she was in mild form. Her ravings are usually much worse, more evil. "Helene!"

"My Queen."

"Karyn is to be punished immediately."

"Yes, My Queen." Helene left the room again and Mother continued to rave. I prepared myself for another vicious beating. Anger and despair flowed through my veins, suffocating me. Never had they accepted me for who I was. They were furious that I was not a boy, that I was never feminine enough, never beautiful enough for them to feel I was worth anything. They swore I would never catch a good husband. Then Kyvron was born. I became excess, worse than the worthless thing Mother and Father had always sworn I was. Before Kyvron was born, they had kept the frequent punishments they gave me light, so that I would be able to catch a good husband. After Kyvron's birth, it didn't matter anymore.

Zarnin knocked on the door and at Mother's command he entered and bowed. "You Majesty. His Royal Majesty the King has asked me to give his regards to you and to inform you that the King of Atralan has offered the hand of his daughter to Crown Prince Kyvron." Mother smiled.

"How very suitable," she breathed. "Please stay, Zarnin," Mother said as he was about to bow his way out. "Karyn needs to be punished, and I'd like you to augment her whipping with your pain spell."

"Of course, My Queen." Zarnin smiled viciously and finally revealed without a doubt that he is a practitioner of the Black Arts that are given no name. The whipping man entered, carrying a leather whip with metal studs in it.

"Strip, Karyn," Mother ordered. I did as she said. I could do it myself or have it done for me and have the punishment made worse.

Afterwards, I went back to my room, blood making my clothes stick to my back, my skin hanging in shreds under it. The pain was beyond describing. I knew the Phantom was wrong. It was past time. I shut the bed chamber door behind me.

Despair washed over me. Things were only going to get worse. Life had been horrible from the start. There had been nothing wonderful in it as there had been for the servants. I had never felt any joy in it as I had seen other people do. I could not take it anymore. I looked around my room and smiled when I saw the bed hangings. I walked over to the small writing desk on the wall across from the bed. I picked up the pen and wrote one sentence.

I can't take this anymore, and I'm not going to.

I unhooked the bed hangings and strung them from the chandelier suspended on the arched ceiling of my room. I hanged myself.

A new maid named Marlene found me. I am sorry about that, for she has never gotten over it.

I watch myself as I was. Terrified of what I was to become, what I am now, a Phantom, a Revenant. I watch myself through the time portal, a mirror of what I was when I was a mortal. Now I must plan my revenge. I will have vengeance against my family and those who helped them. No one is ever going to be hurt as I was in this castle again. Therefore, I warn you. Beware of me. Beware the Revenant of Castle Karynanalan.