Author’s Ramblings: Yay! (yes, I’m starting another note with ‘yay’) and I did it-again! LOL. I hope I’m not boring y’all with my silly postscripts, but I’m so happy to be this close to the end, I can’t help the happy dance. It’s on the very tip of my keyboard, but the rest of me wants sleep, so I’m giving in. For Friday Fiction tomorrow, the final post will be up. (as soon as I write it, actually). So I’m heading off to dreamland with this little treat for my dedicated readers. Enjoy!
RECAP: Eira’s meeting with Eunice turns out to be a disaster, while the DP manages to sort out his personal issues and takes on his avian form, retaining his legs and head, while his body is covered in feathers from head to toe, his arms becoming wings. Rory is returned to his former loyalties and Deene has also become a traitor. Schol has shown himself as a strange villain and Sorora reports to HQ. Tyla decides to send in reinforcements. Everyone is now gathered near or in an underground cavern in the heart of the Vanderoone Lava Lands.
THIS IS THE SEVENTH POST IN A SERIES OF EIGHT LEADING TO THE FINAL CONCLUSION OF THIS SERIAL. (Older posts can be found under the tag : HFTDP)
The shadows crept out of everywhere.
First from the floor, then from the walls, lastly from the ceiling. Rising to their full heights, some of them complete shapes, others misshapen globs. Each shadow possessed a single pair of burning red eyes and no other distinguishing features as they crept out from their hiding places and to the master that summoned them.
“Very good.” Schol murmured, watching the progress from a large, stone outcropping. “Are the preparations complete?”
“The Death Warp has been assembled.” Deene announced, robotically. “Testing commencing in-”
“Quiet boy. I can follow a countdown.”
With a flick of his wrist, the shadowy creatures were dispatched. The red eyes followed their progress as some shadows took up posts, acting as security, while others became workers, assisting in the bustling activity below.
The Bourakizian Death Warp had been slowly built into the natural foundation of the mountain, allowing maximum grounding power, with the ability to leech the natural energy from the land itself. Taking up an entire side of the cavern, it stretched from the floor to the ceiling. Six, hovering, black balls, suspended between thick, beams of black rock, formed a hexagon, with a shimmering middle of icy blue.
Schol watched, bored, as the workers scurried about in their duties. “It hasn’t got enough power. What are they using to fuel it? It will be absolutely useless unless there’s another way to power it. I have to do everything myself, it seems.” He told Deene. “It’s so boring. They rush about as if I’m some sort of-”
“U-uncle Garrett?” Lyssa appeared in a spiral of pink energy. “I, uh.” She hesitated, backing away at the face that turned to look at her. “The, uh…”
“Spit it out girl.” The face contorted, until the red eyes faded away. Garrett’s consciousness resurfaced with his trademark scowl. “What now, niece?” He demanded, rubbing the sides of his head.
“They’ve got things set up over this way…” Lyssa bit her lip. “Uncle Garrett? Are you sure this is what Mom wants? I mean, I know she has wanted her-”
“I don’t care if it is or isn’t.” He griped. “After all this trouble, I’m not changing it now.” He stepped in the transport circle, reappearing on the ground level. Lyssa appeared behind him, a moment later. “Is something bothering you?” He asked, hurrying towards the sounds of drilling and banging.
“Er, not really, Uncle. Thank you though.” Lyssa ducked her head. “I’d best, um, get busy. I’m sure they could use my welding skills.”
“Make yourself useful.” Came the answering reply as the body twitched again and the red eyes returned. “You have an annoying family, host.” Schol murmured. “and I am growing bored of this.”
“Bored of what?” Leesha appeared. “Where did that useless daughter of-”
“She’s making herself useful, as you are not.” Schol scowled. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m making sure you’re keeping your end of the bargain! You promised you’d change the nature of my powers to project the most powerful illusions of-”
“And what of it?” He brushed past her, continuing to where the construction was underway.
“I’ve begun to wonder if you’re truly capable of it.”
“I do not break contracts.”
“I’m not looking to break any contract!” Leesha snapped. “I’m just saying that I want some proof of-” She choked, a gurgle coming out.
“Put her down and let her go, Schol.” Chessia stepped out of the corner and shot a warning look at the gasping woman. “Remember my contract, if it helps. If you kill her that would upset my plans and if my plans are ruined on account of your short temper and-”
“Women.” Schol scoffed. “You really think you can control me with-”
A faint lilac glow tugged on his pant leg. “I don’t think.” Chessia smirked, holding up her glowing wristband.
“I know. So let’s get moving, please? I believe you wanted to visit your warp and see-”
The sound of a muffled explosion drew all eyes and ears to the source.
“What’s going on?” Chessia shouted, rushing forward.
“The power source.” A worker coughed, staggering out from the cloud of smoke rising in the closed quarters.
“It’s not strong enough.”
“What do you mean it isn’t strong enough?” Leesha demanded. “I thought my stupid niece was-”
“Your stupid niece hasn’t come looking for her pet as yet.” Chessia interrupted. “We were using the pet to power the machine, but apparently it hasn’t done a lot of good, because it can barely get it moving.”
“Then find another alternative! Didn’t you have something to use before the brat came along?”
“Yes.” Chessia smirked. “You. Care to try?”
“Shut up!” Leesha folded her arms, looking away. “I couldn’t possibly and my energies have changed now. I can’t do that any more and-”
“And if it was part of your side of the bargain, rendering our contract null and void-”
“I can’t!” Leesha jerked away from the leering face, shoving it to the side. “Come any closer and I’ll hit you. You might be fine with that, but you’re still inside the body of my idiotic brother.” She yawned. “I don’t care if he’s hurt either, so no matter what I do, both of you will suffer. I can’t power the stupid machine because I don’t have those powers any more.”
“You don’t just lose a gift over time-”
“I’m not as smart as you, Chessy, but I’m not stupid either.” Leesha scowled. “You can continue playing your little game however you like, but if it wasn’t for me, that wouldn’t be here!” She pointed at Schol. “So when I’m speaking up, I expect someone to listen. You wanted the dumb thing, power it yourself! I’m fed up with-”
The redness flickered in Garrett’s eyes and after a moment, it rose up and plunged into the body beside him.
Chessia watched with a bored look on her face. “Really, Leesh, you talk too much. Just like that useless daughter of yours.” She threw a purple spark towards Garrett. “I feel something coming close, I don’t know what it is-”
“He’s here.” Schol turned slowly, facing the wall opposite of the giant, metal beams.
Thank you for your assistance, Fyron.
The phoenix waved the creature off, approaching the thin rock wall. It was light enough that he’d be able to break through it naturally. This thought registered with a yawn.
Let’s just get this over with. Enter. Exit. Keep trump card. Only play if necessary.
The wall crumbled at his touch.
The mountain rumbled behind her as Eira appeared in the portal opposite the mountain. The circle faded, strained from such rigorous use within such a short period. It took a hand-cast flow of symbols, to be sure the circle was erased that that Eunice couldn’t come running after her.
“Some help you are.” Eira muttered, bolting as fast as she could down the rocky pathway. She drew on her powers, calling the redness to the surface. “My name is Eira and I call on every mark that is mine!”
Power surged upwards from the ground, rippling over her, allowing speed and protection as she ran with everything she could throw out. What had been three days of confusing portals, was a blinding flash of circles laid out in a row as she ran through each tube, one after the other, the transport time, allowing her to locate the next circle and aim for it in time.
When she was sure she was well out of range, Eira paused for a breath, surprised to find herself at the fork in the pathway where she’d parted ways with the phoenix.
“Don’t contact me at any cost, unless you are absolutely sure your very existence is endangered. If it should come to that point, then feel free to use our link. I will be the one to break the silence, if needed. You could be traced through our bond, so you mustn’t give yourself away. Surprise will be the only companion you have, use it well.”
I’m sorry, Master.
The thought was filled with regret as she began to walk, slowly down the lower pathway.
I wish you’d told me she was like that though. That might have helped. Then again, we’re a little too much like each other. I could see myself in her. Unrealistically existing in my own little world, brimming with superiority and thinking I was invincible. I truly am sorry, Master.
Her step quickened.
But you did say that I could join you when I finished. I am finished. I will do my best….and Master? You can’t be dead…I don’t care what Eunice says.
The shadows shifted around him as Schol approached the giant death machine. It whirred, humming to life as he drew closer. He cocked his head to the side, listening. A loud hum faded away as the ray powered down.
“Who?” Chessia darted around him. “What’s going on?”
“You can’t sense him? How interesting.”
“Sense who? What? Where?”
“The phoenix is here.” Schol smirked. “Must do me a favor, Chessy, mmm? Don’t kill him right away, the longer he suffers, the more use his energy will be to me.”
“Of course.” Chessia scowled. “Could we use that on him?”
The man shrugged. “Only if you think you can control it.” His shoulders shook with laughter. “And only if you can find something to power it.”
“But all you have to do is stand here and-”
“That isn’t part of our contract.” The shadows rose from the ground and Schol melted into the floor after them.
Garrett fell face-first onto the floor.
The wall crumbled away to show the bustling works dashing around in the inner cavern. The phoenix sighed, scrambling through the opening with some difficulty.
Hands. Need to remember I don’t have hands.
He thought, grimly. Using a strong push to propel himself over the jagged rock lip, sliding down to the floor.
It was a fairly typical lair, in terms of a villain hideout, deep underground, with connections to darkness and evil radiating from every corner.
A tinge of warmth washed over the phoenix and he hurried tamped down the feelings associated with them. It felt good-really good. Methodically, his gaze swept around the room as he moved forward, weaving his way through the crowd.
No one stopped him. No even cast a second glance in his direction.
The boy phoenix trotted ‘round the cavern, taking stock of position, henchmen and lastly, the giant weapon stretched across one wall. This is bad. He edged closer, keeping to the side, to avoid drawing attention to himself. This is very bad.
Lady Tyrant? This is Dark Phoenix, a complication has presented itself.
Phoenix? Ben? Where are you?
Vanderoone. Mountains. You know where.
What’s the complication?
Bourakizian Death Warp
Warp or Ray?
I think it’s both. I’ve never seen one like this.
Maybe. The power source seems weak.
Yes, you’re solo or yes the power is?
Yes to both.
What’s your estimation?
With current power source, not an issues.
With something bigger?
Large scale. A whole station, possibly. Half a planet, maybe more. Depends on the source.
Are you asking permission, phoenix?
Then take it out, however you like. I don’t care how. Make sure it never existed. Over.
As you wish. Over.
“Hey, you there! Stop standing around and-”
“Where is he?” Schol appeared between the trio, settling into a transparent, filmy form of a red-skinned man with scythe-styled blades protruding from his double-jointed arms. “Where is that phoenix? Take me to him at once!”
“And look who’s appeared.” Leesha smirked. “What’s the matter? Couldn’t take one of us?”
Schol bristled, the energy sparking dangerously from around him, but he didn’t step closer to the trio as they moved like a single unit, a handful of steps away. “You’re playing a very dangerous-”
“The only dangerous thing we did, was trust you, a man who can’t even deliver what he’s promised without falling to pieces at the mere mention of-”
“How dare you.” The voice rumbled from deeper than the vision flickering before them. “Would I have you bring me all this way for nothing?” The voice grated. “You toy with me, as if I am precious plaything for you to tease and torture at your slightest whim.”
“You’re nothing but a liar and a cheater and-”
“I did not take your power, woman.” Schol turned his glare on Leesha. “You gave it to me willingly, of your own free will. I took it. It was a fair trade. You wanted to change your signature and I wanted to be free. Both sides benefited from our little exchange.”
“Part of that agreement was to give me a new power!” Leesha screeched. “You haven’t done a single thing in regards to that! I’ve been by your side since the moment you were freed! I’ve played your personal assistant, while suffering through ordeals that could be prevented if I had a single ounce of energy to my name-”
“I you have a single ounce of energy to your name, it would be pitiful. There wouldn’t be enough to satisfy you and it could never do what you asked me for.”
“Then fulfill my contract!” Leesha held up her wrist, the angry red marks glowing bright. “I’ve been fine until we came here. Now these are acting up. I can handle anything you dish out monster-man, but I absolutely will not tolerate this sort of-”
“Momma, look out!” Lyssa threw herself in front of the red blur, as a sharpened scythe sliced downward. There was a little cry, a hiccup and then a river of blood spilling outward.
“Lyssa!” Horror painted itself across Leesha’s red face as she dropped to her knees, snatching up the girl in her arms as the body twitched. “Lyssa, speak to me! Somebody get a healer! Hurry! Chessy, do something! Save her!”
“She can’t.” Garrett lurched beside her. “Chessy’s not that kind of healer, Leesh-!”
“I can’t treat her if you’re holding her like that, let me take a look!” Chessia tried to pry the injured girl from her mother’s frantic hands. “You can’t do that, you’ll make it worse than it already is-”
“There isn’t any hope.” Schol interrupted, quietly. “She’s going to die.” Three pairs of eyes turned to stare at him with mixed expressions of horror, disgust and terror. “I am serious.” He held up the blood-stained scythe.
“It’s impossible for her to survive. No one lives once they touch this.”
“She’ll live!” Leesha hissed, outraged. “She has to!”
“But if she does, you won’t have the precious energy that you wanted.”
“I hate you! I hate you!” Leesha flailed, thrusting her daughter into Chessia’s surprised arms. “You’re terribly wicked man!”
“Man? I thought I was a monster!”
“Monster is too good for you!”
“Leesh, calm down! Please-!” Garrett tried to hold her back. “You can’t-!”
“Leave her be. Both of you men.” Chessia said, disgusted. “You and I will speak.” Her glare was directed at Schol. “Garrett, be a good boy and play host for a bit. Leesha, stop that and make yourself useful here, unless you truly don’t want a daughter!”
A thin thread of lavender energy pushed both of them back, separating Garrett from the mother-daughter. The distance was just enough and without any further prompting, Schol immediately possessed the bewildered body.
Leesha glared at him. “You’ll pay for this! You monster!” She rocked back and forth, clutching the girl to her chest. “I hate you!”
The phoenix stared at the two figures patrolling his cage.
Well, at least I found them. That was easy. So was getting captured. Wonderful. I suppose now the trick is how to get them out of here, yes?
He followed their paths with his eyes, drawing his wings closer to his body to keep a touch of warmth. In spite of the bustling cavern and nature of the lava land, the cell was temperature controlled.
He was freezing.
A shudder passed through, his eyelids half-closed.
“Uh-uh, phoenix. You can’t fall asleep on me.” Garrett’s face appeared between the bars at the front of the cage-cell. “I have big plans for you.”
The phoenix sneezed, another shiver passing through. He didn’t bother to answer. It wasn’t worth the effort.
“Ha, and here I thought the great, legendary phoenix would at least put up some smidgen of resistance.” The familiar face flickered red as Schol came to the forefront. “What a pity though. I had imagined your true form to be something more impressive, amazing, even, if you would.”
The golden-gray eyes slid shut.
Images trickled into her mind and Eira began to run again. It was easier to regulate her energies, knowing that there wasn’t a breaking point any more, at least not the kind of exhaustion she’d once feared.
Her steps were light, her movements quick as she skimmed across the lava land. As she traveled, bits of conversation and snippets of information trickled into her head.
She didn’t dare to hope, sorting through them as she went. Eventually, she began to trace base shapes with her hand, alternating her run with a twirl here or a twist there, storing the possible symbols to allow her medallions to be used at once.
No wonder he sent me so far away. Eira almost smiled. He knew I’d get more practice at using these. Ach. But I still wish he hadn’t gone alone…and that silly Eunice! She’s a complete…brat!
With that annoying thought in mind, Eira threw herself forward with renewed speed. She was blurring past one large hump in particular when a slight quiver in a shadow at the base of a rock pillar, registered.
Her speed quickened as Eira pulled on the trickle of information, ripping the connection open, allowing the flow of new thought and reason to enter. She sifted through them as fast as she could bear, feeling a headache coming on as she searched for a potential clue within them.
Can’t lose the element of surprise.
Eira skidded to a stop. She whirled around, drawing on her energies to throw up a circle in the air before her. The shadows chasing slowed to a cautious hover, watching as she drew in the symbols and called the medallion to life.
They began to scatter when it powered up.
She almost smiled.
“Leesha.” Schol’s voice was eerily soft as he appeared over her shoulder, one cold hand resting on her shoulder. “There you are. Chessy said you were still here. I need you to do a favor for me, my sweet.”
“You killed my daughter.” The tear-stained face turned towards him, the first traces of anger registering. “You monster!” She cradled the cold body, clutching it tight to her chest. “She didn’t deserve to die!”
“But that was your own doing, precious.” He dodged lightly away from her blows. “You were the one insisting that your contract be fulfilled immediately.”
“Not at the price of her life!”
“Ah, but didn’t you crave her powers?” He cackled. “You wanted them. You were envious of everything that she was and now you have-”
“I don’t want them. I want her! This isn’t what I wanted!”
The devious smile spread slowly over his face. “That’s just like a woman, unable to make up her mind about what she really wants. You’re so transparent. Foolish woman. You’re content to take and break that which isn’t yours, but when the same is your own fate, suddenly you’ve grown a heart.” He circled her. “How troubling.” One hand snaked out, grabbing her by the hair. She struggled, briefly, as the red energy trickled out, seeping into her body.
“Let me go, you brute!”
“Calm words from such a lowly lady.” He drawled. “Pity you weren’t as pretty as your little princess. I must say, I liked her more than you. Sad that she had go. There was such potential.”
“Monster! Demon!” She shrieked, beginning to thrash around, clawing at the hands fisted in her hair.
“Doesn’t that hurt?” He pulled a little harder, lifting her from her knees, forcing her to stand. “Ah, now look. You’re all dirty. You shouldn’t have touched that dead thing.”
She gasped. “Let me go! Stop! You’re hurting me!”
“I should hope so.” He twisted it to the side, relishing the cry of pain that resulted. “Though not as bad as that, eh?” He nudged the limp arm of the body on the floor, watching the reaction from the corner of his eye.
“Lyssa!” The woman began to cry hysterically. “Lyssa, baby, come back!” She stretched her arms towards the girl, only to yanked backwards. “Lyssa!”
“You should’ve said your goodbyes already.” Schol smirked. “I gave you enough time. Don’t worry. She’ll have a proper burial.” He snapped his fingers, a spark of fire coming to life. “Do you want to watch her burn?” One hand grabbed hold of her chin, jerking her face to his. The red eyes burned bright, boring into the very corners of her mind. “No, no, I don’t think so…you don’t deserve to see that. You’re not good enough. I would have let you—as one last chance to see her, but you’re slipping.” He dragged her towards the transport circle.
“Stop-wait, I have to say goodbye! I have to-wait!” Another screech of agony left her lips, echoing in the cavern as the duo appeared on the ground level, walking towards the Death Warp.
“Ah, here we go.” Schol waved his hand. The machine began to power up, energy crackling through the six spinning balls, lines of energy connecting in between, forming a visible hexagon before the points connected in the center, a giant orb of energy welling up.
The hysterical tears were shocked away as Leesha found herself staring up at the red eyes as Schol bound her hands together. “W-what are you doing?”
He winked. “Punishment. I can’t allow this sort of thing to ruin my-”
“NO! No! Noooo!” Leesha tried to pull away as he pulled her closer, forcing her down to her knees and bending over to fasten her feet.
“Be a good girl and maybe I’ll make it so that you don’t feel anything.”
“No! Stop! You can’t do this! Garrett! Garrett!” She struggled as she was dragged along the floor and deposited at a mark on the ground. “Garret, listen to me, this is Leesha. Come out, please! You have to stop him! Garrett! Chessy! Chessy! Garrett?”
Shouts and yells came from the corner of the cavern, noises that were silenced when the glowing red eyes looked their way. The proud Lyrith now shuffled forward, obedient in body and tortured in mind as it was prodded forward and made to stand on a series of rings carved into the cavern floor.
The rings burned red, as a low moan came from the creature, forced to take his animal shape, buckling to his knees as the Death Warp’s power increased. The glowing central orb throbbed, pulsing with flashes of purple and white as Schol left the sobbing woman and moved to stand before the Lyrith.
“That’s not quite enough power.” He said, pleasantly. “I’m going to need a little more from you.”
The phoenix twitched, his eyes popping open. Something bad had happened. He could feel it in the air. Trickles of pain ripped through his wings and he fluttered them, feebly in an attempt to determine the cause.
It was pitch black around him, but there was no comfort in the darkness.
Another muscle spasm confirmed the unpleasant truth. His wings were fastened to something in an attempt to limit his movement while causing the most pain. He rolled his eyes.
Wonderful. Now I really want to get this over with. Let’s see, I was there and then…ohh, that’s right. I saw Schol. He’s not in his true form. I wonder why. I can break Deene out of here, but Rory’s a different story. It’s like they’ve changed him into some sort of…huh. Eira’s not going to like that.
He almost laughed.
Wonderful. It wasn’t enough that I thought to keep her out of harm’s way, now I know she’s going to end up in this mess. Ha. Now I’m thinking about her in a moment where I should be using my head for more important things, like escaping?
The dust was swept to the side as Lyssa’s body was laid next to it. Schol waited while the warp powered up and the returned his attention to the ministrations for the Lyrith. With another blast of energy, tempered with pain, a second pile of dust joined the first.
He smiled. “Chessy? All done, anything else you wanted?”
The sour-faced healer appeared in the transport circle behind him. “No. That’s fine. Just…” She grimaced.
“Get rid of the dust.”
“Why…does it bother you?” The smile turned to a wicked grin. “I’ll have to remember that.”
“Don’t trouble yourself.” Chessia wrinkled her nose. “It just makes me want to sneeze, is all.”
“Liar.” He whispered in her air, snapping his fingers to release the Lyrith from the powered circle. “You there, boy! Take it away until we need it again and you over there, clean this up!”
“So that’s it?” Chessia turned around, following him. “That’s it?”
“You’re the one that wanted her gone. Now she’s gone and so is the one that would have replaced her. I don’t see your problem. Is there a problem?” The red eyes glittered.
“I didn’t think so.”
“Hey, I just did you a favor!”
“It’s not really a favor if it’s within the parameters of your contract.” Schol waved his hand, dismissively. “You are beginning to annoy me.”
“So when you’re freed from the contract of the person who called you back, you turn into a thick-headed idiot with an attitude?”
The figure paused, turning slowly. “Is there something else you desire, woman? I suggest you ask it quickly, before I lose my patience.”
Eira breathed a sigh of relief as the last shadow figure melted into the black rock. She’d managed to get every single one of them. Thank you. She prayed. Thank you a thousand times over. Please let Master Phoenix be alright.
Panting, she leaned forward, trying to catch her breath. A pang struck her chest and she felt all the air being sucked out of her lungs. Gasping and heaving, she threw out the symbols that came to mind and closed her eyes.
Something went wrong, because the ground shifted and changed beneath her feet. When Eira opened her eyes, reaching downward for support, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
Where is this?
It seemed to be an underground tunnel of sorts and she could hear the sound of running water. No, liquid. She mentally corrected herself. I haven’t see or even smelled anything remotely resembling water since this whole lava land excursion started!
Wearily shifting to her feet, she winced as the effects of her powers set in. Drat. I’m not used to using so much…I forgot to temper it. No, I didn’t know how to temper it. She grimaced, standing up and then bending over to touch her toes in an attempt to stretch her spine.
The shadow that touched her feet wasn’t one she expected.
“Rory?” Her head snapped up, staring at the Lyrith standing before her in his half-form. “Rory! What happened? Are you okay? What’s going on?” She started forward, barely twisting a half-second as she caught sight of the shadowy figures behind him. “Ahh!” The yelp couldn’t be retracted as she dodged to the side and ducked.
The figures eyed her curiously, but didn’t stop, as they continued on, with the occasional prod at the shuffling Lyrith.
Eira watched them with a mixture of worry and confusion.
Didn’t they see me? She shook her head. Of course they saw me. I screamed like a girl and…well, duh! I am a girl. I couldn’t help it, they had Rory and…Master Phoenix! He was supposed to rescue Rory, what happened?
She started after them, casting a cautious glance behind her.
Then again, if he’s here that means that… She swallowed. Unk’s here too. She stopped at the end of the tunnel, feeling a flicker of fear starting in the pit of her stomach. And so’s Schol.
No! I can’t think about this now. I need to think of Rory. Yes. Rory. Master Phoenix. Think about them. Think about the people who are really important to me and think about—what is Deene doing here?!
The sight of his glowing red eyes had Eira backtracking and casting an invisibility circle in the same movement. She didn’t dare breathe as the sullen teen walked past, staring straight ahead.
She followed him as far as she could see and then sighed. Her tunnel had apparently led to another walkway and so she turned in the opposite direction where Deene had come, intent on retrieving Rory first.
Rory? Rory, it’s me. Can you hear me?
There was no answer.
She bit her lip, puzzling through possible reasons for the inactive link in such close quarters. It should’ve been distance and danger that made him silent the last time, but I’m close enough now and he should know that I’m already here and ready to-
Eira rounded the corner and walked straight into him. Her face smacked into his bare chest as his staff slammed into her stomach. She was knocked back several feet, wheezing as his figure approached towering over her.
“Rory?” She squinted up at him, clutching her stomach. It rumbled unhappily. “What’ are you doing? Rory? Rory! It’s me!”
The golden Callean staff was raised in the air, poised directly over her head.
She cringed, ducking to the side as the point embedded itself on the black, stone floor. Staring from him to the spear inches away from her waist, Eira scrambled to her feet. “Rory! Now’s not the time for this!” She dodged away from him, contemplating which circle would cause him the least discomfort. “Look, whatever they did to you, it’s-”
“It’s impossible to undo.” Uleah drawled, stepping out from the shadows, with a gaggle of shadow folk behind her. “Hi kid. So he’s yours, huh? You know, you could’ve saved him, if you’d actually had the guts to bind him directly to you. The poor thing was so stressed when we got him.” She snickered. “But as you can see, he’s no longer bothered by worries and loyalties.”
“What did you do to him?” Eira dodged again, dancing sideways. “Good grief, I don’t even know you!”
“Most people don’t.” Uleah sighed. “But I was the messenger girl. Uleah of Allensworth, I’m surprised you can’t remember, then again, it would be bad if you remembered me. I’m supposed to be easy to forget.” She winked. “Don’t worry, once Rei gets hold of you, you won’t remember a thing.”
“Denne!” Eira winced as the staff clipped her left thigh. Head in the game. Talk later. She grunted, trying to shift her attention instead of splitting it. “You did something to him too, didn’t you?”
“My, my, ever so considerate of your menfolk, aren’t ya?” Uleah smirked. “Would you like me to invite him to your death? I don’t mind.”
“I do!” Eira gritted her teeth, organizing the symbols in her head as she hurriedly skipped a circle around Rory. “I don’t intend to die that easily!”
“Pity. Here I thought you were having fun! Looks like you have time to chat, why don’t I give you a little extra something to work with?” The shadow people around her surged forward.
Eira bit her lip, drawing blood. Wonderful. I hate fighting on an empty stomach.
The circle activated and Uleah was sent flying into the wall as Rory was anchored to the floor, unable to move as the summoned energy ripped through him. Eira turned her face away from the light, struggling to hold the energy inside of her.
It took a little more effort than she’d expected and when she managed to recall the energy, Rory was sent sprawling and the taste of blood in her mouth was thanks to her nosebleed.
She scrubbed at her face for a moment with her tunic-sleeve, knowing her healing graft would activate and take care of it in a moment. “Rory?” She stumbled awkwardly over to his side, crumpling to her knees at the sight of the gash on the left of his forehead. “Rory!” Tears brimmed in her eyes as she cradled his head in her lap, checking his vital signs. “I’m sorry…” The tears splashed on his face, with a single drop of blood.
Horrified, she scrubbed at it with her shirt cuff, when one of his hands shot upwards, capturing her wrist. His eyes opened and his mouth curved into a scowl, the tinge of redness still visible as he squeezed her wrist.
“Rory, please! It’s me.” She pleaded as he pulled away from her lap, twisting her around into a choke hold as he rose to his feet. “It’s Eira! Don’t you remember me? We had…we had…” She tore at the arm closing around her throat.
No. No. NO! I don’t want to hurt you, Rory…I’m sorry.
The circle burned at her fingertips and she choked out the word to activate it, with the last of her breath. The backlash of energy was nearly unbearable. She felt his grip loosen and his body went limp.
© Sara Harricharan