After that night, traumatized and full of fear, Issabeau cried for two days straight. When she finally calmed down, her anger flared as she demanded to know why. Why was this happening? Why did these humans hunt her? Why did humans take away her home? Why did her family hide her from the truth?
And sadly, because of Issabeau’s newly learned dissociation, everything her mother had taught Issabeau about being a Sisullia was slowly dissipating. No matter what explanations her mother told her, even reminding Issabeau of what the unicorn had said, Issabeau refused to accept any answers or was able to make sense of their truth.
After that night, something had changed in Issabeau. In her body. It was as if that night had somehow become unreal. It felt separate and unfamiliar. As though her memory had become injured. Issabeau started feeling scared all the time, not only just her mind, like it used to be when she sensed the fear from her family. Now the fear was in her body. Her body felt terror – tense and anxious, irritated, and hyper.
Issabeau pushed through it and tried to pretend she was fine, like everything was normal. She would tell her mother how proud she was to be a Divine Sisullia, an all-powerful being, and this Sisullia would never be scared; of anyone or anything. Her mother tried to explain to Issabeau that this wasn’t so, that Issabeau’s perceptions weren’t correct. Sisullia do feel fear and have emotional vulnerabilities. A Sisullia can feel great love and great heartbreak.
Issabeau ignored her mother’s words of wisdom and played tough. Yet, on the inside she continued to feel terrified, dreading the next time those soldiers would attack. Along with this terror, she also felt rage, grief, and helplessness. Emotionally overwhelmed, Issabeau shoved these feelings deep down, without any ability to explain this. So naturally shame and self-blame set in.
As the days slowly passed since that dark night, the shame and self-blame continued to grow within ten year-old Issabeau, and she started to wonder what was so awful about her, that humans treated her like this.
So, she asked her mother.
Her mother pulled Issabeau onto her lap, then lovingly hugged her while rocking her. Issabeau snuggled in, listened to her mother’s words, but the words seemed far away at the same time, her mind seemed to be filled with a fog.
“Oh, my precious angel,” her mother whispered, “you are so special. That is why the humans want you. Don’t ever tell yourself that you are nothing less than a miracle. You are my beautiful, precious daughter and loving you has been my greatest gift from our Great Goddess.
“The dark magic these humans have found is more powerful than ours. It is the first time in history this has happened. I have been trying, as best as I can, to find a way to counter this magic and get us back to Lindorly. It breaks my heart having to watch you grow up living in musty old castles or caves, without friends and stability. What hurts most of all, is that now you are exposed to our life of battle, Issabeau. This is our reality. This is our truth. I am so sorry for this.”
Issabeau looked up at her mother with a blank stare, missing the fear that crossed her mother’s eyes as she looked to Malfius, then back to Issabeau.
“Oh, my child,” she whispered into Issabeau’s ear. “I hope I haven’t made a mistake by exposing you too early to our reality.”
Something about what her mother said triggered Issabeau as she suddenly jumped down from her mother’s lap, feeling a growing rage and rush of clarity.
“Did you think I was stupid? Did you think I couldn’t sense something was wrong with our lives? I never once missed the red, stained ground you tried to cover or the cuts you forgot to heal. I may be a child, but you’ve raised me thinking I’m a fool. I’ve ignored my belly pains, pushed away being scared and ignored the fuzzy feelings in my head because I believed in you, telling myself that my mother wouldn’t lie to me, when you were!”
Her mother collapsed to the ground in tears. Malfius moved quickly to scoop Katianna up and settled her into warm blankets, with Zarus lying protectively at her side. The large gargoyle then turned to Issabeau, who was pacing around the campfire like a tiger. Her long white curly hair pulled into two ringlet ponytails, which were swinging wildly back and forth. She stopped suddenly, turned to Malfius, her gold eyes fierce and wild with anger. The commanding presence of Malfius didn’t deter her. He gently walked over to the fire and sat down next to it on a large rock. Issabeau stood firm staring at him, stubborn, her ponytails still swinging. Finally, she pursed her lips together and sat down next to him with a defiant ‘humph’ to emphasize her disregard. She loved Malfius with all her heart, and always had a hard time remaining mad with him.
Photo Credit – Malfius – Drawn by artist Hannah Quinn
The huge gargoyle asked gently, “Issabeau, do you remember the words you’ve just spoken to your mother?”
“Why, am I in trouble?” she snapped.
Malfius inhaled and exhaled slowly, not answering.
Issabeau knew better than to be smart with Malfius so she searched the fog that filled her mind after the clarity she just had with her angry outburst. Issabeau also felt a bit surprised how Malfius somehow knew she had forgotten her angry words to her mother.
“No, Malfius I don’t. I don’t really remember why my mother was holding me and what she was telling me. I know I was and still am really angry at something.” she replied.
“Does your brain feel foggy?” he asked.
“Malfius are you reading my mind? How do you know this? Mom says it’s unethical for you to…” Issabeau asked in amazement.
“No sweetheart,” he interrupted, “I’m not reading your mind. I’m checking to see if what your mother and I think has happened to you is correct.”
“What’s happened to me Malfius?” she asked with genuine interest.
“It’s only been seven days since the traumatic events of that night and your body and mind has gone into a kind of shock to protect you from it. This is a normal response for a human, but not a Sisullia. Very curious… Issabeau…” Malfius’ voice trailing off as he looked down at the young Sisullia sitting next to him.
Issabeau’s attention had wandered off, she wasn’t really listening anymore, just staring blankly at Malfius’ arm. She then slid onto his lap, snuggled in closer, feeling the safest she’d ever felt. He was so strong and powerful. Issabeau suddenly felt like she couldn’t ever let go of Malfius.
“…Issabeau…” Malfius had shifted his arms to get her attention. “Are you listening to me?” Issabeau gazed up at Malfius.
“Now listen as best you can, like the way I taught you to listen for the sounds of footsteps carried on the wind.” he said.
Issabeau nodded yes, and focused the best she could, but was starting to feel tired.
Malfius continued, “Your mother, Zarus and I knew your life was going to be filled with the hardships of many brutal battles. Your mother made the decision not to tell you the truth to protect you from it. She wanted to give you a few years of peace. We know how intelligent you are; it was very hard to hide this truth from you. But instead of a lifetime of memories filled with blood and fear, you now have a few memories of laughter and peace.”
Issabeau knew he was right and didn’t know what to say to Malfius, so she just buried her face into him wanting the thoughts that were coming into her mind to go away. These thoughts of their reality were worse than not knowing the truth. Her life was going to be too hard of a life to live, a life of battle. Issabeau hated it and didn’t want to face it. She wanted things to be simple. She wanted her life to be simple.
And from that moment on and for the next few days, Issabeau clung to Malfius, wailing anytime he even attempted to separate himself from her. Issabeau clung to Malfius’ leg when he walked anywhere or begged to be carried or held. She slept with Malfius, clinging to his arm, and ate her meals sitting on his knee. When he needed private time, Issabeau cried out in shrieks of absolute terror until he returned. Malfius loved her so much that he had the tolerance to carry her wherever he went. And he was naturally patient, slowly helping Issabeau diffuse her acute terror and be away from him for extended periods of time. Meanwhile, Issabeau’s denial and anger of what her reality was had unconsciously mutated into a poisonous germinating seed deep within her heart.
And so began a second in the history of the Isle of Lindorly: First was the Isle was invaded, second was that a Sisullia had anger in her heart.
As the years passed and Issabeau matured into a young woman, this seed of anger in her heart turned to apathy that cultivated into hate. Her hate needed an outlet and someone or something to blame. Issabeau, of course, chose humans – her ever-growing hate for them seeped as poison into her blood.
Issabeau tried to make sense of what was happening around her, compared to everything Issabeau’s mother taught her about the life of a Sisullia. These truths conflicted. The truth of the BloodSkulls trying to kill her, traveling to hide from these dark magic humans and then the rest of the non-magical human population on Artus hunting her, too resulted in her absolute hate for humans. The other truth in her life is that she is Sisullia. Issabeau was expected to feel loving emotions and fair values towards humans to fulfill her destiny as Métier.
This felt impossible.
However, deep in her heart Issabeau felt justified for her hate for humans because they hunted her. On the other hand, if she did not have regard for humans, she could never be Métier. Issabeau felt trapped and unable to make a choice, so she unconsciously made a different one: she numbed her heart. Thereby, cutting herself off from her own Divinity – a part of herself who is the Great Goddess. Sadly, this also included faith in herself and faith in anything at all.
Issabeau started questioning her truth about the Great Goddess. She must be a lie or not real because why would her Creator let a Divine Sisullia live a life of such torment? The Great Goddess was supposed to love Issabeau and care about her. So Issabeau strongly concluded from this thought that she must be a reject Sisullia, or an unworthy one, because the Great Goddess let her suffer.
If this was Her love, Issabeau didn’t want it.
Slowly, Issabeau started hating who she was, a Sisullia. If she was just a normal sorceress or witch, humans wouldn’t care so much about her. Issabeau felt shame for her existence and hated how she looked. She believed she looked like an abnormality of Creation with her white hair and gold eyes. And anytime Issabeau tried to cut her hair or change the color of it; her inherent magic wouldn’t allow it. And if she tried to change the color of her eyes or darken her skin, to no avail, her Divinity wouldn’t allow it. Issabeau’s body shame and her inability to control it perpetuated her hate for humans because now she blamed them for taking away her identity.
Rage and anxiety filtered unconsciously into every aspect of Issabeau’s life. She was moody and argumentative with her family, pushing every limit and boundary they set. She constantly talked about how much she hated her life, that Issabeau didn’t care if she were dead or alive, and that she hated everyone and everything. How her family had destroyed any trust she had in them, and how she didn’t trust anyone in Creation but herself. But sadly, Issabeau didn’t even trust her own mind. Issabeau would then swing to the other extreme and isolate, go completely numb, hide in the forest and find silent comfort during a walk with a white tail deer or lay sleeping with a grizzly bear.
As slowly and as persistently as the ocean beats away at a rocky cliff, every morning when Issabeau woke, and opened her eyes to greet the day, her mind would flood with critical, self-blaming voices silently minimizing any real emotions Issabeau experienced about her situation or destroying any joy she felt. These voices telling her that the night she was chased by the BloodSkull really didn’t happen, how she was over dramatic and pathetic because she wanted to cry or feel angry. That Issabeau had no right to feel angry. It was all her fault that the humans hunted her. She was nothing but a prize to be caught, a worthless nothing…
Malfius tried to teach Issabeau meditation to help with her combat skills, but because of her constant stream of thoughts and inner critical voices, it was difficult for Issabeau to concentrate. Now Issabeau became obsessed with trying to meditate and control the voices in her mind, rage flooding her as she failed to focus; failing to try and control what she could not.
One moonlit night, Malfius had Issabeau run for three grueling hours through the dark winter forest, then immediately engage him in an aggressive and exhaustive sword fight.
The run pushed Issabeau to the brink of thinking her lungs would burst, together with her legs cramping up. Malfius continually pushed Issabeau through her pain and if she tried to stop, Malfius would grab her arm and shove her forward, while Issabeau spat out insults that fell on Malfius’ deaf ears.
During their sword fight, while Issabeau blocked the powerful strike of his sword, Malfius yelled out insults that Issabeau was a coward for not facing her destiny, running from her emotions, and letting her fears consume and control her. And as the two warriors tiredly fought each other in the damp and chilly darkness that resonated with the clear ringing of steel crushing against steel, Malfius’ harsh words, and Issabeau’s exhausted grunts of protecting herself reverberated throughout the forest.
Issabeau knew what Malfius was trying to do, and how his words were not malicious, but said out of love. Malfius was trying to push her past her rage for humans and into her sadness; the grief her family always tried to get her to express. And as Issabeau fought Malfius off, she also did what she always did when her family tried to get her to express her painful emotions – she fought off his words. But the strenuous run had done what it was supposed to. Issabeau unexpectedly dropped her sword, collapsed to her knees from exhaustion then fell fully to the ground sobbing onto the cold, icy snow that covered Artus.
The massive gargoyle slowly lowered his sword in still silence, as his own private tears fell while his heart ached, watching for the first time since that fateful night six years ago – his beloved surrogate daughter’s impenetrable protective wall that surrounded her heart – finally crack.
Issabeau cried until her body stopped shaking, her stomach stopped heaving and the tears stopped entirely on their own. In the darkness she then slowly stood up, pulling snow out of her long white curls, stretched out her aching muscles, and then with quiet stillness stared vacantly up between the tips of the fur trees at the brilliant silver half-moon, its milky rays illuminating her tear-stained pale cheeks.
For just this moment Issabeau’s mind was finally at peace.
Coming back to the chill of the present moment, Issabeau slowly inhaled the cold night air… then sought out Malfius. The gargoyle hadn’t moved, for fear of breaking her healing moment. Issabeau pushed her aching legs and walked slowly up to Malfius and fell into his arms from exhaustion. As Malfius lovingly gathered her up, then retrieved her sword, a realization came to her that to control her mind, she must strive for exhaustion by pushing herself to the extreme. It wasn’t the most effective coping strategy for her, but Issabeau was willing to try anything. At that, her mind then let go of thoughts as she sank into a deep sleep.
Then, over the next many months, Issabeau grew weary of battling her inner demons this way and started giving up on herself as the critical inner voices and incessant thoughts grew louder. She started to make careless mistakes in armed battle with humans or the BloodSkulls, and a couple of times let herself be injured. If Malfius hadn’t been there she would have let herself get captured or killed because Issabeau was also secretly losing her desire to live.
Her mother, Zarus and Malfius tried everything to help. They repeated again and again to Issabeau that what she was going through was normal for anyone who experienced or lived through trauma and they were here to support her through it. However, now they were scared for her. They tried to get her to talk about her feelings and her thoughts, but to no avail. Malfius tried sending her to talk with wise animals like a unicorn or dragon, hoping that maybe she would listen to them. But Issabeau refused, had an answer for everything and wouldn’t listen to anything anyone had to say. She denied her desire to kill herself saying “I’m fine” or “I just slipped by accident… that’s all.”
Issabeau became increasingly intolerable about her hate for humans as she viewed Creation through dichotomous eyes and was self-righteous about the human’s behaviors. She would rant and rave about how pathetic and selfish humans were because they never thought Issabeau as a being with vulnerabilities, emotions, and abilities. She was Sisullia to be captured, a trophy. When Malfius would ask Issabeau about her emotions and vulnerabilities, Issabeau would throw him a vicious look and storm off. Her irate behavior continued like this for many years, then as she grew into her twenties Issabeau’s behaviors slowly started to evolve (for lack of a better word). Her overt anger tragically turned inward, and she sadly became self-critical, task oriented, creating a strategic list of perfected time management always guiding and putting order in her day, and she became obsessed with cleanliness.
Each morning Issabeau started her day with her order – her routine of washing herself, wearing clean clothes, cleaning her living space, and then eating a healthy breakfast. Next, she would proceed to do whatever it was she had planned and written on her list from the night before.
Issabeau also expected everyone else in her family to be clean as well, which became irritating to Zarus when Issabeau always tried to make the giant white wolf wipe her feet every time she entered their newest home – even if the floors were dirt. If they slept outside, Issabeau was always making sure the rocks, ground and sleeping areas were spotless, with lots of water available to wash with. And after every battle, she had to cleanse the soil, Zarus, her mother, Malfius and herself from every drop of human or BloodSkull blood.
Issabeau also became renewed with her past obsessive energy to push herself to the extreme, but this time with rigid structure, compulsively driving herself to do intense survival training, practicing battle maneuvers until she dropped with exhaustion, and developing her magic with surprising control. And her proudly and finally mastered ability to meditate seemed to bring her mind peace, but what Issabeau used it for was to give her a break, an escape from and out of her reality, the exact opposite of what Malfius taught her what meditation is truly about. Meditation is being mindful in the moment. Issabeau’s mind may have been silent, but she used meditation to escape having to cope with her day-to-day existence.
Also, when Issabeau wasn’t adhering to her grueling training schedule, or meditating, she stayed constantly active with cleaning and organizing things. Together with organizing all the cooking spices alphabetically, refolding the towels and facecloths into perfect rectangles or reorganizing her backpack for the millionth time, Issabeau only spoke of surface topics – about her day, the newest battle technique she perfected and how many humans she killed in their latest battle. Issabeau became the perfect warrior – detached and apathetic. Hungry for more.
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