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    Demiurge
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*Violence, adult content, PTSD, anxiety, depression*

Stoke - 1. Chapter 1: Dleth

The first time I’d seen snow we’d been making our way through the seemingly endless Humiad forest. When the first flakes had fallen I was enraptured. Poor Talon had to follow me around for a half hour while I caught snowflakes like a child. I’d watched them melt against my skin and cling to Talon’s dark eyelashes. The entire day was filled with my giddiness and absolute wonder. As they fell tonight, my enthusiasm was dampened. Dleth was miserable. I was cold and wet. The addition of snow made me want to whine. My boots were coated in red mud and the air blew right through me. I assumed the crossing into Dleth would be far more difficult and yet we had strolled in practically through the front door. Up until this point our group had struggled with every single task so it had been surreal.

An entire year had passed and there was not a single day where I didn’t bemoan the fact. We’d had no way to get any word from Syrin. We had no way of knowing what was going on back home. For all I knew the queen was dead and the king was firmly under Anders’ control. I grimaced, reminding myself that I had to keep pace or someone would worry.

The rapidly crumbling monarchy was only one issue. Over the past year problems arose that I had never even considered. Apparently, my ex fiance Mallex had done far more damage than I realized. I was plagued with nightmares almost every time I closed my eyes. It had started the night after Lex had died. It seemed that even when he was dead, I couldn’t escape him. I shook my head and raised a gloved hand to rub my cold nose. I often found myself focusing on everything bad. It was hard not to when you were tromping through mud in a cold, wet, foreign country. There were bright moments, though. I had to remember that. I had mastered the Disputatio letters without much difficulty. Then I had conquered the words, followed by entire sentences. The dead language was one of four I had been tasked with learning. Tyren had been ecstatic, saying that I was gifted with language. That had been one of the best days. I had never had someone outright tell me that I was smart or good at something. I felt childish, but I basked in the praise. While I could now efficiently cast very simple healing spells, we were lacking Tyren’s books. He taught solely off an impressive memory and cursed himself for what he claimed were holes in his teaching. Even so, I was naturally gifted in spell work as well. Fundamentally, spells needed Magik. The stronger your Magik, the easier spells were.

When I had branched into healing, Hanja had inserted himself more fully into my learning. I had a working knowledge of the human body now. Even without Magik, I could stitch and clean wounds far more efficiently. When we’d been en route to save Talon I had started bones. Once I had committed those to memory (this was much harder than dead words), we moved onto muscles and organs. Hanja and Tyren were opposites in every way, teaching included. If I slipped up, Tyren would smile and gently steer me in the right direction. On the other hand, Hanja would stare at me with fierce red eyes until I felt like I was an inch tall. He was not a patient man and I knew that I vexed him regularly, but I learned. As if bored, Wren and Amaris had taken control of my combat training. Wren had complained for a full hour when he was told torture was an inappropriate motivation. He’d gestured wildly to Talon and Amaris as if that’d help his argument, protesting that they were now great warriors.

“Ask them! They’ll back me up. It was necessary!”

They had decidedly not backed him up. He’d given in soon after. Unfortunately for me, Wren and Amaris were more brutal than any instructor I’d had before. On more than one occasion they’d had to drag me to my bedroll because my legs refused to support me. The effort was not wasted, however. I had toned even more, and I knew I had never been this physically strong. While I appreciated their teaching, I found myself missing Athel. We’d gotten used to each other and I owed my life to her guidance. I tried not to think of her and Potlyne, or the other students, but sometimes I couldn’t help it. Were they alright? Had Anders done anything to hurt them or the other inhabitants of Syrin the White City? The grimmer scenarios made my chest ache.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Talon had to throw himself into the mix. His lessons were far more relaxed and consisted of him helping me identify wild plants and their possible uses. He didn’t voice it, but I knew the end goal would be to teach me alchemy. However, it was difficult to teach something that relied so heavily on mixtures and tools in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods. I sighed as it occurred to me that I was incredibly fortunate. There were few people in the world who had access to this much knowledge. This was a life I hadn’t dare even dreamed about. I had never, in my wildest fantasies, saw myself as a warrior and a scholar. It was exciting and exhausting at the same time. My head felt too full and with every day more information was crammed into my skull.

A year on the road. Taking shelter where we could find it. On the ground in the forest normally, but we had gotten lucky towards the end and found an abandoned, ransacked manor. We’d stayed there for five months, among destroyed furniture and decaying wallpaper. At least it was out of the elements. Still, a whole year. I hadn’t been sold on the timeline and my friends were aware. It was an excuse. I was an excuse. Kalian needs more training. Kalian hasn’t been taught the necessary skills to engage in actual war. The list went on, growing by the day. They were valid reasons, but I knew the real one. Lex had taken a piece of every one of us. They were scared. Hesitant to launch into fighting so soon after we almost hadn’t made it. Hanja’s eyes still lingered on Tyren’s long scar. The wound that had almost claimed his life. Talon looked at me like I was made of glass that might break at any moment. That had only worsened when the nightmares rose in severity. None in our group had emerged unscathed. Amaris would get a far away look in her eyes every so often and it was hard to bring her back from wherever she’d gone. Her hands would shake and she’d start breathing hard. Her, Tyren, and Talon had been pulled back from the edge and it had done obvious damage. Even Tyren’s bright optimism was tarnished. His smiles were never as bright as they had been and his eyes always looked haunted. Eon had a compulsive urge to plan our every step down to the most minute detail and he’d explode if we deviated. Even Wren, emotion relatively foreign to him, rarely went a moment without knowing where every single member of our group was and what they were doing.

Trauma does interesting things to people.

The mud sucked at my boots and I sighed. Watching my feet to avoid tripping, I blinked a few times. The mud…wasn’t mud. My mouth watered as I grew nauseous, my stomach twisting. The road under my feet turned into warm, thick blood. A copper taste filled my mouth and I was dropped into a flashback. The battlefield when Lex had ambushed us. I felt blood splatter over my face and hands as if I were truly back in that hellscape. Screams filled my ears, drowning out my thoughts. I stumbled and my world tilted as the red flowing across my feet rushed up to meet me.

“Kal? Kal!” Small hands stopped me short and hauled me into another person. Those same hands cupped my face and Amaris’ scarlet eyes filled my vision. I bent over, dry heaving. I opened my eyes again to see…nothing. Normal red mud.

“What happened?” Talon called, voice strained with worry. Great. I straightened and bit back a groan as I saw everyone’s eyes on me. Eon, Wren, and Talon usually led us, Hanja and Tyren followed, and then Amaris and I. Talon was already halfway to me, everyone else eyeing me with varying levels of concern. Except for Wren who simply looked confused. Wonderful. Talon reached for me and I waved him away, stomping past my static group members.

When no one followed, I let out my groan from earlier, “I’m fine really. Let’s go.”

“Kalian-“ Talon frowned as I interrupted him.

“I said I’m fine!” I snapped viciously and felt guilt as our friends averted their eyes. I continued my stomping, more than aware that I looked like a petulant child. It was better than having to explain that now I was hallucinating. I would have zero autonomy if Talon figured that out. I heard someone jog up behind me and tried to avoid looking at Wren. That was low even for Talon. He knew I rarely said no to the white-haired man.

“We’re going to make camp. Get a shelter up before this snow turns into a blizzard.” He said, looking up at the grey sky.

“I can keep going.” I rubbed my face, dread setting in.

“Oh, I didn’t ask. I hate snow and the wind is picking up. I would like to be wrapped in blankets before this shit starts whipping around.” Wren eyed me before falling back. This is why you didn’t say no to Wren. It wasn’t presented as an option. The wind had barely picked up. Whether or not he’d admit it, it was another excuse.

 

I soldiered on until someone called for me to stop. My feet were throbbing and the muscles in my legs were tight. We’d reached some trees, nowhere near as dense as the Humiad forest, but it would get us off the road. We fell into our roles quickly. Despite my earlier doubt, the wind was starting to pick up. It took Talon, Eon, Hanja, and Wren to set up the shelters. The fabric kept flapping and ripping from their hands. The snow was starting to stick on the ground now instead of melting as it had earlier. Eon had sent pulses of flame out in a large circle, melting existing snow and warming the ground a touch.

As per usual, Amaris and I made up the bedrolls and blankets. We’d collected far more of them in our travels as the temperature dipped. There was only one town before the border, Esakel. It had only boasted one little shop and we’d near cleaned the poor establishment out when we’d arrived. Hanja and Tyren fought with the weather to set up supplies to cook. Wren and Eon left to hunt. Too late, I noticed that Amaris had abandoned me. I hadn’t even heard the traitor slip from the dwelling. I only realized when I felt a familiar presence stroll up behind me. Talon, a wave of annoyance and concern flowing from him like a river. I was trapped.

“I said I was fine.” I tried to keep my voice even, but I knew he caught the break in it when a dark eyebrow arched.

“Yes, I believe you yelled that at me earlier. The problem, Sunshine, is I felt that jolt of fear. You forget that we’re connected?”

I found a loose string on one of the blankets and tugged on it, avoiding his eyes, “No. I didn’t forget. I didn’t realize I let my walls slip that much.”

He lowered his tall frame to crouch next to me, “I don’t think you slipped. Your control’s much better. It was too strong of an emotion.”

“Did you ever ask Wren if he’d heard of something like our tether before?” His fingers covered mine, liberating the frayed string.

The earlier irritation had left his voice, “You should talk to someone about what’s going on with you. It’s been long enough. Doesn’t even have to be me, but I am here, obviously.”

I looked up at him, the person I’d literally given up everything for and immediately knew I would do it all again without hesitation. His longer hair hung over his forehead and the shaved sides and back of his head would need to be done soon. I hyper-focused to distract myself from the stab of guilt I’d felt at his words. He wanted to be there for me. They all did, though Hanja would never admit it. I looked back down at my fingers as I tried to string words into a sentence.

Noticing my struggle, he linked our fingers, “It doesn’t have to be right now either. Think about it.” Forcing my pride down, I crawled closer. I knelt in front of him and wrapped my arms around his neck. To my utter dismay, he hooked his arms under my thighs and easily lifted me with him as he stood. I rushed to wrap my legs around his waist. Not that it mattered. He never struggled when he picked me up.

“You know I can stand by myself right?”

“This is so much better though.” I rolled my eyes and he chuckled. Resting my face in his neck, we remained that way for a surprising amount of time. My horrible sleep routine caught up to me as I nestled into his warmth. Submerging myself in the comfort and protection that I got from my partner. It was enough to make me start dozing.

“I could do this all day, my love, but we need to eat and help with whatever else the camp needs.” I lowered my legs and he let me go, a small smile on his face. Without warning, he lunged and launched into an attack on my sides, tickling without mercy.

“Stop! Stop it!” I managed to get out in between bouts of laughter. I smacked at his hands and he finally quit. I glared with as much anger as I could muster with a flushed face and loud panting from forced laughter.

“You love me.” He smirked, wiggling his fingers in my direction.

“Would you like to lose your hands a third time, Master Verloren?” I growled halfheartedly.

“I am not worried. Empty threats Sunshine. You like them just as much as I do.” I rolled my eyes so hard it almost hurt, scurrying past him and trying to dodge as he attempted to smack my ass.

“Done sulking?” Amaris grinned at me and I extended my middle finger in her direction. She stuck her tongue out in reply. My timing was either very bad or very good. Wren had returned, Eon behind him carrying a deer over his shoulders. As was normal for Wren, his hands up to the wrists were covered in blood. Eon lowered the animal to the ground and I had to look away from the empty black eyes as Wren set about field dressing the poor thing. Eon shrugged his broad shoulders a few times and I frowned as I touched a hand to my much narrower ones. The gods were unfair. Even with the muscle I’d put on (my abs had finally made an appearance) I would never be as big as he was. My build was too slight. Rude really. The abhorrent noises from Wren’s efforts finally ended and Tyren set about cooking while he fought the wind.

“You know, keeping your struggles to yourself is like drinking poison, Kal.” Eon called to me. They were only about ten feet away and I glanced over to see Wren licking his fingers clean. Eon held out his hand and Wren pouted. They stared at each other until Wren put his hand in the other man’s. My brother began to diligently clean nails and skin with a cloth, “Did you hear me Kalian?”

“Yes, Eon.” Eon’s ears were red as he noticed everyone was now watching their strange exchange.

“Is this some weird form of courting? Is the end goal here monster marriage?” Talon tilted his head, a shit eating grin on his face. There were few things he enjoyed as much as tormenting Eon.

“Coming from the all-powerful Shadow Summoner who had to almost die before he was ready to admit to having actual feelings.” My eyes widened as Eon didn’t even turn to look at Talon. He was focused on a nail with a considerable amount of drying blood.

“Weak insults aside, you didn’t deny it.” Talon’s eyes were bright like a cat about to pounce on prey.

“What if that is the end goal?” My head whipped around. Eon passed me and then Talon, patting my stunned love’s shoulder. He moved to the fire, waving his fingers to stoke the flames. Talon looked from him to a bored looking Wren, mouth hanging open. Wren followed Eon, smacking Talon’s jaw up so hard I heard his teeth snap together.

“Eon has managed the impossible, he’s rendered tall, dark, and obnoxious speechless.” Amaris giggled.

“Can you possibly keep your mind on your own affairs?” Hanja scolded all of us, handing over food to a smiling Tyren. Amaris was next and she held a second bowl up in my direction. I nodded. Even with the fire, most of us ate inside the shelter. Outside the weather was starting to grow more hostile. I sat with Amaris and she handed me my food. We were all crammed into one shelter. A metal orb sat in the center of the bedding. It had an opening on the top, round and about three inches across. Eon dropped fire into the waiting kindling and heat slowly started to spread. It was one of Tyren’s creations and my freezing fingers were endlessly grateful.

“Kalian…” Amaris trailed off as she took a bite.

“If you’re going to give me a heart to heart just know that you’re the third one. Today.” I grinned softly at her to show I wasn’t upset.

“Brat, isn’t he?” Talon said next to me, an obscene amount of venison on his plate.

“Gods Talon did you save any for anyone else?” Amaris teased.

“Hey, I split hunting duties. Leave me alone! I’m bigger than you two.” Talon pouted.

“You’re definitely going to be. Eon doesn’t even eat that much!” Amaris reached around me and jabbed at Talon’s obviously flat stomach, “Fatty.”

“Kalian, call off your mean little friend.” Talon whined, spearing a piece of meat.

“Talon, you’re what, 6’5” and twice her weight? I think you can take care of yourself.” He frowned at me and hissed when she lunged across me to keep poking him.

 

I was back on the road from earlier today, walking but not moving forward. I felt liquid seep into my boots and fought the desire to look down. Sure enough, blood was running in a steady stream over my feet. I tried to run, but I made no progress and there was nowhere to go. Wave after wave of scarlet pushed against me. It was at my knees, then my hips. I started to panic when it reached my chest. My feet were still stable on the ground. As long as they were I was okay, I reasoned. Wading was my next thought, but to where? My calm and rationality abandoned me as my feet were swept out from under me. Treading water, I accepted that there was very little I could do. Real fear set in as the blood continued to rise.
I yelled out, the thick liquid feeling wrong as it slid through my fingers. It went higher and I drew air into my lungs as I slipped under the surface. My limbs were suddenly so tired as I fought to break into the air again. I had almost managed to reach it, a fool’s hope blooming in my chest. Hands pressed me down. They gripped my shoulders so hard, the fingers digging in. I tried striking out with my fists or my Magik. My gift didn’t answer me. I didn’t feel the power that always swirled around me. My fists connected with nothing. I opened my mouth to scream. Wrong choice when you were submerged in a sea of blood. Obviously. My mouth flooded and I choked on the overwhelming copper flavor. It went up my nose and I coughed, my throat burning.

Those hands dunked me again and I finally saw a mangled body. A rotting corpse. Blond stringy hair floated around it’s head and milky green eyes were locked on my face. A large chunk of its face was gone, teeth and jaw bone disgustingly bright white in the red haze. Mallex.
Lex dragged me down. Even submerged in a sea of blood, I could somehow smell him. Putrid, decaying, and so wrong. My vision was blurring as my lungs and brain were denied oxygen. Arms and legs flailed wildly until his hands pinned my arms to my sides. The world around me was rapidly falling away as I gulped in more blood. The skin sloughed off his hands and bones dug into my wrists. His face neared mine, skin sliding off as he got closer. Black and green seeped from his body into the crimson around us. His mouth descended towards mine and I jerked, screaming. I could feel fetid breath on my lips. I jerked again more violently. Only this time, I sat up. My head connected hard with something solid and I heard a gasped curse. The hands pinning me down left my sides. I opened my eyes, my hands flying over my body. The taste of copper and the smell of decay were slowly fading.

“Hey! Hey you’re awake! I have you!” Arms wrapped around me and I thrashed violently. I screamed out again as those hands once again pinned mine to my sides. It was solid underneath me. Had I been pulled onto land?

“Kalian, fuck! When did he get so fucking strong?”

Small hands held my face and I heard a new voice, “Kalian, sweetheart, wake up. We’ve got you. It’s Talon and Amaris. There you go. Come back to us.” My chest was heaving and when I opened my eyes, they met red ones. My gaze jumped around and I found myself in the canvas shelter. Not a blood ocean. The logical part of my brain was absent. The rest of my brain was struggling to free us from the imagery. Fingers combed through my sweat-soaked hair and I went limp under the hands that held me down. I finally found grey eyes, then my gaze dipped and I saw Talon holding his arm across his face. Blood ran down his chin and I pitched forward, depositing my dinner on the dirt floor. Blood, blood, there was blood. I heaved harder and hands rushed to hold my hair back. Another set rubbed my back. I wasn’t producing anything anymore but my stomach still demanded we expel something. I coughed, my palms flat on the ground. I dug my fingers into the earth as I watched tears fall to it below me.

“You’re okay. It was a dream. It’s not real love.” His fingers rubbed at each vertebrae separately. I tried to regain control of myself.

“Blood, blood, blood…” I gagged on my little mantra and closed my eyes.

“Clean yourself up. I think that’s what set him off.” Amaris ordered, massaging my scalp. There was rustling and I let myself be manhandled back into Talon’s chest. His familiar smell calmed me some right away. I watched with detachment as Amaris produced a cloth and began cleaning my face. Talon was pressing kisses to the side of my head and my shoulder. It took an eternity for my breathing to level out. In that time, Amaris cleaned up the floor. My attention was then drawn toward the shelter opening. Holding the flap aside, Eon stood there, chest bare. He had to be freezing. Part of my brain registered painful looking bitemarks on his chest and hip. I’d file that away for later. My brain couldn’t process what it meant right now. Hanja and Tyren were right behind him, both looking horrified. Wren had squirmed in around my brother, tiny knife at the ready.

“S-sorry.” I choked out and Talon rubbed my sides.

“I say this with all the love in the world, but can you get out? All of you?” Talon ground out and they left without argument. His hands slid up my sides and I flinched away from his touch. It was too much. I felt hurt glide over the connection, but I couldn’t focus on it. Being touched right now made me want to curl up and die. I tried crawling away and Talon helped me, limiting how often he touched me, I noticed. I laid down, awkwardly pulling the blanket over my still shaking body. Pressing my cheek to the cool ground, I looked over to him. He sat on our torn apart bed rolls. His face was calm even though I saw his hands shaking as well. Bruises were forming on his nose and under his eyes. I winced at the odd angle of his nose. That answered the question of what exactly I had head butted. I took inventory hesitantly. There were slashes on his arms and red marks over his torso that promised bruises. I grimaced and squeezed my eyes closed, “I hurt you.” I tried to remain calm at the blood that glittered in his cuts. There was also dried blood in one of his nostrils.

“You ready to talk about it? I don’t mind waiting. I am curious about how I woke up to a thrashing, light throwing, screaming creature who bore an uncanny resemblance to the love of my life, though.” There were slashes in the canvas too, light spilling in, and I felt tears prick at the corners of my eyes. I could’ve killed someone. Gods.

“M-Mallex,” I gasped out, gripping the blanket, “I-I was drowning. In..in…”

“Blood?” Talon filled in softly.

I nodded, “He was a corpse, and he was dragging me down. His skin kept coming off and at the end he was trying to kiss me.” I closed my eyes, ashamed. It sounded so stupid when I said it aloud.

“I’ve had nightmares since I was five. Don’t do that.” Talon mumbled.

“Do what?” I looked up at him, frowning.

“Beat yourself up for fearing what your brain came up with to deal with your trauma. You’ve suffered enough.” He answered. He was visibly fighting the need to comfort me physically.

“It’s just so dumb. Drowning in blood while a corpse dunks me then tries to make out?” I pushed myself up so I was no longer laying down, my blanket was wrapped tight around my shoulders.

“Dunno’ babe. It sounds pretty awful to me. The reality is we went through so many life-altering experiences in such a short amount of time. Most people don’t deal with that much shit over an entire lifetime. Having…tremors from that damage isn’t weak or stupid.” I crawled slowly to him, resting my head in his lap. Relieved, his fingers immediately threaded in my hair.

“You don’t attack me or rip our sleeping quarters apart.” I insisted.

“Practice love.” Talon’s fingers scratched my scalp lightly and I mumbled spells softly, pressing my palms to each wound. One at a time. The often-forgotten orb around my neck glowed red and Talon watched as his skin knit back together. When his torso was back to normal, I held my hands out. He leaned down and I held my thumbs on either side of his nose.

“Do it.” He braced himself as I forced it back into place with an audible snap. Talon grit his teeth as I held his nose, the glow under my hand red. I took care of the bruising then let my hands drop.

“Any idea how you’re able to heal this well? Spell or not, I can’t even do that.”

“Tyren believes that normal light is healing. He’s theorized that I would be able to heal ever since we met.”

“Hence the dead language training. It helps you focus your Magik.”

“I don’t care what Amaris says. You’re more than a pretty face.” He laughed and I squeaked when he pinched my sides.

“You don’t have to tell them everything, but the others are worried.” I groaned. That was not a conversation that I was excited for. How did you tell your adopted family that you felt like you were losing your mind?

 

 

*

 

“How long until we’re there?” Amaris whined, earning an exasperated look from Hanja.

“Roughly half a day.” Wren sighed from next to Eon. It was frigid now. I had thought that the mud and rain were bad but trudging through the snow was endlessly worse. I was freezing, wet, and irritable. Amaris was not helping. She’d been asking variations of the same question for the last three hours and I was waiting for one of us to snap. All of us had our hoods up, except for Wren. He wore a thin tunic and pants, completely oblivious to the elements. He didn’t like snow, but apparently it wasn’t due to the effects it had on us lowly humans. He simply didn’t like having to walk through it or be out in it.

We’d made it back out onto the main road. There was nowhere to walk now that would give us cover and most of us were starting to feel on edge. There was nowhere to hide. If we got in some kind of fight, we were completely out in the open. Speaking of which...

Talon leaned his head back, eyes scanning the dreary sky. As I watched, he followed something, eyes narrowed, before throwing his arm out, “Arrows! Down!” Black arced over us and thin, dark shapes bounced harmlessly off.

“From where?” Wren snarled, turning in a circle. Our group closed ranks, forming a tight circle. Talon still held his shield over us and I heard him swear. Scanning the area around us, I tried to follow the path the arrows would have taken. The road was empty. The arrows weren’t coming from the road that spread out in front of us. No…their arc originated from…there. It was faint, barely noticeable. The air to the north of the road, 50 yards away, appeared almost wavy. I had no idea what that meant, but I didn’t hesitate. I called power and held my hands straight out. Energy swirled and collected. Talon shouted and Wren let out another snarl. The black shield wavered and my power stuttered as I turned to look.

“Don’t. Focus on what you were doing. Finish what you started.” Tyren’s eyes were wild as he grabbed my wrist. Nodding, the power grew and grew until a dinner plate sized disc of writhing light floated between my hands. Then, I let go. Beam after beam of light slammed into the strange waviness and I braced as it hit a solid surface. I had found our attackers. My eyes slipped closed as power sang through my veins, a contented sigh slipping from my lips. Over and over my power slammed against this unseen wall. I felt it shudder and opened my eyes.

“There!” Eon yelled, sword in hand as he sprinted through the ankle-deep snow. There was a crack in whatever cover they were using. It looked like a tear in the scenery. I could hear strangers shouting. Inhaling deeply, I gathered even more force. I cupped my hands and a ball of concentrated energy built between them. I held them up and as soon as it left my fingers and skittered across the ground to rip that crack wide open, I was hit. I staggered back, Magik falling away as I looked around confused. A sharp pain bit into my shoulder and I realized I’d been shot with an arrow. Not a normal one either. It was long and made of a strange metal. Glancing behind me, I noticed it had punched all the way though my body and was sticking out of my back. I jumped as the tip of it popped open, sharp metal teeth extending around the end. If it hadn’t gone all the way through, those teeth would’ve extended inside me. I teetered and bit my lip. Black hair, braid flying behind him wildly. He was the closest. They had all gone on the attack and even he was a good distance away. The illusion that had covered our attackers was gone. I had managed to land my final attempt and now saw about twenty men taking up their weapons. One among them had beautiful silver robes, her dirty blond hair cropped short. A Magik user in Dleth? Of course, that’s how they cloaked their location, but how was this possible?

I tried to call out to Hanja, but he was soon locked in a fight with a rough looking man in a worn uniform. I couldn’t place the faded sigil on it. Who were these people? I held up two fingers and a thin blade of light extended from them. I held the arrow’s fletching and began sawing through the shaft. The strange material it was made from was strong and I winced as my effort jostled the part in my shoulder painfully. I’d had cuts and scrapes before but this was a new kind of injury. I gasped as the shaft twisted in the wound. My power was struggling to cut through whatever material this was. I blinked as the light at my fingers flickered. I tried to focus on it and it flared to life for only a second before completely dying out.

I tried to call my Magik again. Nothing. I sensed around me, ready to grab at the power that was always a breath away and found nothing. Frantic, I tried again and again. It was gone. My light was gone.

🤗 Hiya, welcome back to my strange little world

Thanks for reading 🖤

Copyright © 2021 Demiurge; All Rights Reserved.
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WOW, a great start to the next chapter of  "your strange little world". I'm glad you started the next chapter so quickly. Again, your development of the characters and their thoughts puts the reader right into the story. I look forward to see what happens and the direction it is going to take.  

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@JCtoGO2 thank you! Wasn’t sure if another part would be welcomed so I appreciate your comment 🖤

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Kalian has two enemies, his nightmares which are becoming more real and invading his waking life and genuine physical foes.

Somehow this arrow has neutralized his ability to call his magic. I hope the others are luckier.

Who is this strange group and why are they attacking?

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Philippe

Posted (edited)

On 5/28/2021 at 8:09 PM, Demiurge said:

@JCtoGO2 thank you! Wasn’t sure if another part would be welcomed so I appreciate your comment 🖤

WHAT? How could you believe we’d have anything short of eager anticipation? 😝 

OMG, the suspense is already at an apex and now the nemesis is completely unknown by Kalian; or is it something he’s seen in the ancient books now removed from their purview? Or perhaps 🤔 a more direct connection to say...Talon’s sister Lydia; long lost but yet unknown to Talon within the kingdom. As Talon probably tainted his native magiks, but enhanced his shadow magik. Many questions indeed, so...

Is this nemesis part of the Kingdom they’re in, or part of the expanding grasp and long arm of Anders? The lack of home kingdom intel is a huge void and a surprising exposure for this group; but having traitors among you before makes it hard to reach out or to trust anyone. Unfortunately, I believe the lack of intel has caught up with them. Now this power Mage has taken some powerful strikes from Kalian and just twenty warriors is not so good should that Mage be exhausting her powers also.

Either way, it appears the avoidance and wait are over, the team will now have purpose and focus to overcome this latest challenge. Then the real war begins.

Yes @Demiurge, we still want more and don’t doubt that you and the band of misfits do have fans! lol 

Edited by Philippe
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Hexxar

Posted (edited)

Super excited it’s already back. The jump in time I think is a nice touch to separate the feeling and theme of the story from the previous one.  Little touches like the growing friendship between Kalian and Aarhus feels more fleshed out than it did even one chapter ago. Absolutely loving that.

Still adore Wren and honestly, as invested in the other characters as I am, he’s the one I’m weirdly hoping for a happy ending for.

Honestly I’m a little nervous about the last part. Not a huge fan of the “powerful character/entity loses power, character development occurs”.  For undeveloped characters, it feels lazy, and for developed characters(like Kalian) it feels unnecessary.
 

Buuut, I’m just some pleb so just my thoughts.  

Edited by Hexxar
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3 hours ago, Demiurge said:

@Hexxar does it help that it’s not gonna last long??

😅😬

I mean. It does. Lol.  To be clear, there’s nothing “wrong” with it, just not my cup of tea.  And to be fair, at least you’re using it as a plot device and not a substitute for character development, so I’m not too stressed.😝

Also, I’m sure there’s implications of some sort in the aftermath of this and based on what I’ve read so far, fully trust your vision. 🤗

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Demiurge

Posted (edited)

@BlackRaven sooo I did actually write a couple of side stories. Including Wren/Eon and Hanja/Tyren but those were mostly guilty pleasure/self serving

I wasn’t sure if y’all would want them ❤️

Edited by Demiurge
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I'm really glad that you chose to explore the  trauma element that is often missing in so many stories. It's unimaginable to have gone through such traumatic, life altering events and not have some type of ricochet. I can't believe you left us with such a cliffhanger though 😭. Here's to practicing patience and gratitude that you're sharing with us in the first place 🙃🙂. I'll try and comment each post because I'm honestly surprised that you're surprised that you have such a following. Feedback is the least I can do, even if it may sometimes only be a sentence or two. I'm excited to discover what you have planned for our eclectic yet loveable bunch! 

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I absolutely loved Awaken and I loved this! I am eagerly looking forward to more.

it makes sense to me that the dieth government would persecute and ban Magik users while. employing them in their armies.

Magik can be used as a dangerous weapon so preventing anyone else from having it greatly increases the control that Dieth keeps over their people

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I’m so curious about the material of this arrow and how it could stop Kalian’s magik. Hopefully he doesn’t have to suffer through something that will add to his nightmares as a result 😩 

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