Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Visual Kheda: Cohen’s father, Duke of the Swabia Empire
- Rick & Swift Kheda: Cohen’s elder brothers.
- Katherine Hagrid: Cohen’s mother.
- Flynn & Carey Rohna, Winslet(elf): Cohen’s wives.
- Fischer: Cohen’s friend, prince of the Swabia Empire.
The bridal chamber was opened from inside. Fischer kicked me in.
“Am I in the wrong room, or…” I said, in total confusion, as there were several people in the room. My mother and father, two elder brothers, three brides and even grandpa red nose were there. They were all seated around the table.
“No, you are not.” Fischer answered and said to my father, “I have the prisoner.”
“Please have a seat, Your Excellency.” My dad looked serious and assigned me an empty seat, “Cohen, you sit down.”
I sensed an uneasy atmosphere and sat as I was instructed, questioning the presence of anyone other than my wives.
“Isn’t tonight my wedding night? I gazed over to my ladies, hoping to be hinted by their looks. However, they all sat with their heads downcast.
“Cohen, since today, you are child no longer.” First, my mother spoke to me, “You need to take responsibility for your house and families.”
“En, I know,” I answered and questioned silently why was I told this at such a time. Wasn’t it the same as to say it tomorrow?
“Well, I’m glad you understand.” Father took over from where mother left off, “I have a few questions, and I hope you will answer them honestly.”
“Ah?” I was even more confused. “Was it another meeting?”
“I believe that everyone has noticed.” My father gazed around by at the table, “Since the day Cohen was wounded in DC, he’s changed tremendously. His behavior became rude, temper irritable, personality deceitful… and his thoughts and ideas were even weirder than when he was young that we could barely understand.”
“Sure, this has helped us out in many ways. However, Cohen has become a boy even I have felt to be a stranger sometimes. It stunned me at first. I thought the new environment had changed him, but through my research and observation, I’ve found that the reasons for this change was something else. Do you all know anything about him that had made you unable to comprehend the origins behind it?”
I thought to myself, “Shit, it looks like it’s going to be a sleepless night tonight.”
“Here.” The first one to provide information for this extortion meeting was Flynn. She raised her head and said, “When Cohen was wounded, and on his way back to Darkmoon, he saved a dragon with a strange method. Afterwards, I had checked every book I could find and found nothing about such methods.”
“I have a keen interest in Cohen’s blade.” The second one to talk was Carey, “But even though I’ve asked about it a hundred times, Cohen wouldn’t tell me. My sister and I went to hit the books, and you see where this is going: we found nothing. No weapons of such style have ever existed in the books. Besides that, Cohen has very unique martial arts.”
Now it was me who kept my head down. I was totally busted.
“Hey, buddy.” Fischer came in and said, “Where did you learn all that stuff?”
“Mind your own business!” I dare not speak against my families, but Fischer was my all time punching bag, “Shut your damn face!”
“Sure!” Fischer went silent but showed me an ‘ok-I’ll-shut-up-but-you-still-need-to-come-clean’ look. I was hopeless.
“Alright…” My father stopped his sons who wanted to present more facts and said, “Cohen, aren’t you gonna tell us about it?”
“Well, I can explain!” Since I was born, my previous memory was solely burdened on me and only me, perhaps it was a chance to tell everybody about it. On second thought, was it a matter that they could actually accept readily? Perhaps I should talk slowly.
Thus, I said, “But, you all need to clear your minds before I start talking.”
“Why should we do that?” Rick asked.
“Cuz’ you might not get what I’m saying!” My eyes drifted over everyone’s confused expressions, but only my wives expressed a trace of warmth towards me on their faces
“We are fine.” Grandpa red-nose said, “Say it.”
“Just say it, Cohen.” My mother said with worry, “Here are the people closest to you. We are here for you no matter what happens.”
“Alright, since you all so insist.” I straightened my body and put away my smile, then started the lengthy story…
“As of now, my body and brain had indeed changed tremendously.” I said, “Or so to speak, my life and nature have been imprinted by another trace of life.
“Another life?” Like a rock thrown into the water, Rick reached his hilt, “Are you? YOU! What have you done to my brother!?”
Everybody was off their chair except for my father and Fischer. All who were armed were ready to jump at my throat, and the rest started reciting spells… especially my three paled wives looked as if they were about to slaughter me.
“Hold it.” My father’s hand stopped mid-air, “Let him finish.”
“Don’t get me wrong!” Unexpected of such reactions, I continued, “Let me tell you about another man.”
“I don’t want another man!” Carey cried and yelled at me, “Give him back, my Cohen!”
“Let him finish,” Flynn said softly with a comforting tone. I admired her calm presence.
“Flynn… he ate Cohen…”
“Hear him out… it’s probably not that bad.” Winslet murmured.
“Beyond this vast sky, in a place far, far away,” I racked my brains hard as to not leave a single loophole in the story, but also believable at the same time, “That moment when I was dying on the altar, an ancient and mighty being descended into my physical body.”
“Ah!” All cried! It seems like such a bizarre story fitted their mindset.
“He was a tyrannical life form who had become wounded in an ancient war.” I said, “He demanded a period of my time for him to stay within my body to recuperate and heal himself.”
“Where is he?” My mother asked, “Is he still in your body?”
“Not anymore, he left while I was in the dwarf’s.” I continued, “In exchange for residing in me, he promised to teach me strange otherworldly knowledge, and we were in constant communication. I believe that’s why my personality was affected by his.”
“Who is he? My father asked, “How did you communicate?”
“We spoke in my mind. He seemed to have his powerful days…” I said, “He would prefer to do things rather than to think. And he was imperious, cunning, treacherous… oh, right, and unreasonable and extremely irrational.”
“Sounds like the you now.” Fischer said.
Another version of Cohen’s explanation:
“Beyond this vast sky, a place far, far away.” I opened the window and gazed at the dark sky, “There was a planet, or let’s say it is a continent. There were human beings like us. One of them, his name was Westley…” I began telling the experiences of my previous life, from merely a memorable childhood to my junior school, high school, the army… till my middle age. It felt weird to tell people who were alive about my death. My lowered voice reflected my anger and homesickness, which had attracted all who were present. When I came to tell my end, all females cried lowly.
“In the space, he ran into a strange life…” I continued with a smile.
Then I finished all about how I came into this world and how I woke up. I drank and felt relieved and looked at my audience while waiting for them to digest what I had just told them
“Finished? Hold it there…” My father said, “We need to think about it.”
“Sure.” Such things were indeed a bit hard for them to understand.
After a while of careful consideration, they’ve changed the strategies and began to query about all the tiny things before I was wounded, and even dug up events as small as apple stealing during my youth. I was mentally collapsing under such interrogations.
“When you were five,” Now it was my mom’s turn, “On your birthday, what wrong thing did you do?”
“Who did you lie to?”
“Because I ate dad’s fish.” I glanced at him, as he had paid an arm and leg for it.
“What did you say at that moment?”
“Can I not say it here?”
“It’s alright, after years.”
“Say it exactly word by word, with the exact same tone and movement!”
I felt I had to do it nonetheless, though it would be shameful.
I sighed then stood up, exited the room and closed the door.
“Mom, emergency!” Moments later, I rushed into the room looking absolutely panicked. I yelled, “Dad’s fish drowned!”
Everyone in the room was stunned and fell over, whereas my mother held me in her arms firmly and cried, “It’s my Cohen, my son. No matter what, you are my son!”
I sighed in relief that my mother had finally acknowledged me.
“Ok, though we’ve got no ideas whether this is right or not, let it be.” My father declared, “At least you’ve come clean. Considering that the lifeform who was attached inside you is something the temple wouldn’t tolerate, this matter must not spread beyond this room!”
Finally, at almost dawn, my families and friends who went through extreme grief and happiness came to remember it was my wedding night. Thus, they left me with my wives instead of continuing to question about my secrets.
“Sun’s almost coming out.” I closed the door, dissatisfied. We did not have much time.
“Wait.” Carey put her hands on the closing door, “What are you doing?”
“Shut the door!” I said, “Sleep!”
“Yeah, sleep.” Carey looked somewhat cranky in her eyes, “But don’t you think you are in the wrong room.”
“Yes, I do!” I said, “Where else am I supposed to be?”
Carey circled her finger and it stopped at another direction.
“Out?!” I became angry, “I am your husband!”
“But we are marrying Cohen…” Flynn spoke to support Carey.
“I am Cohen!”
“Technically speaking,” Flynn grinned, “You are half of him. You’ve changed so much that we barely know you. We have yet to familiarize ourselves with your other half.”
“Yeah!” Carey crossed her hands on the waist, “We never said we are to marry your changed parts! What a strange feeling, a familiar yet strange husband…”
“You! I…” I was set up, and stunned, and threw my helpless look at Winslet.
“Winslet’s not helping you!” Carey discovered my intention and jumped ahead to grab Winslet’s hands, “Right, Winslet?”
“I…” She looked at me in apology.
“Alright, I’ll leave! What’s the big deal!” I was an honorable man who thrived with or without women. Thus, I walked out and turned and declared to Carey, “Don’t you ever fall in my hands…”
“Take care!” Someone waved towards me, “Try not to get cold feet…”