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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    Demiurge
  • Author
  • 6,425 Words
  • 283 Views
  • 4 Comments

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

Stoke - 16. Snatch

**Violence against a child

**Also, regular violence

It was short-lived. The laughter, the feeling of victory, the joy at having Amaris and even Rah back. We made quick work of the little red army and I shook my head. It was almost too easy now. Who did they think we were? I scanned the area around us. The majority of our group was done fighting, leaving the stragglers to Wren. It was the simple pleasures with that one. He catapulted himself around, launching from man to man. I caught Talon’s eye and started making my way to him. He smiled brightly, the left side of his face smeared with blood. I frowned in confusion as his smile fell. Everything slowed down. To my left, Loren was wide-eyed and dropped down. His limbs seemed to move impossibly slow as he ran to me. I looked back to Talon and saw more fear there then I had ever seen. He was running, sprinting across the field, screaming my name.

“Kal! Kalian!” Amaris and Eon were yelling too but I wasn’t reacting fast enough. Why were they were so quiet? I turned and lashed out when I felt a presence behind me. I heard a pained grunt but I was forcibly spun back around. Arms clad in deep midnight blue wrapped around me. I struggled but the arms were like steel. One tightened around my waist and the other my shoulders. I kicked my legs out as I was yanked back. If I couldn’t free myself, I needed to buy time. My group was headed for me, coming from almost every direction. I threw my elbow back as hard as I could, sharpening it with my light. I heard a cry and the grip on me loosened. I lunged forward. Talon dove at the same time and I felt his fingertips brush mine. Shadows shot out and wrapped around my wrist and I felt my body pull a bit from the grip that was struggling to reestablish itself. Talon hit the ground hard, wincing at the impact before his eyes found mine again.

The attacker had regained their bearings and another set of arms joined the first. They hauled me back and someone kicked Talon hard in the face. I tried to yell for him. My voice cut off as I was jerked back by arms around my stomach, driving the breath from my lungs. A meaty hand clamped over my mouth. My hand was still outstretched. Talon had pushed himself up in time to see me taken. His eyes were so wide and so grey. Filled with a pure and simple fear. The Dlethian landscape fizzled out and my surroundings shifted to a dark room.

I was thrown forward. My head smacked a stone wall and I dropped to the ground. My vision blurred. No. I forced myself up and around, staggering forward. Bars. I was in a cell. No, no, no. The door slammed in my face and black irises regarded me coldly. It was a man, the bottom half of his face covered by a black cloth that wrapped around his head as well in a wrapped style. I gripped the bars, my hands lighting. The bars began to let off steam and glow. He watched me for a moment and then reared back. Without hesitating he jammed a familiar thin piece of metal into my shoulder. In almost the same spot I’d taken the last arrow. I backpedaled, lifting my hand to grip the metal shaft. Not fast enough. As soon as I touched the strange metal, I heard a swish and the arrow head’s cruel teeth popped open inside my shoulder. I screamed out and called my light, trying to saw at it before my Magik gave out. I couldn’t remember how fast the poison had worked last time.

“Finally. Welcome home. You, my child, have been a far greater thorn in my side than I would have ever anticipated. I wonder if Nainde ever really knew the boy who’s hand he asked for? He thought he was getting a docile little lamb, but instead received a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” A flat laugh and I glared up at Anders smug face, “Do you know how long it took the men to find all his pieces? The Shadow Summoner is nothing if not thorough. I’ll give him that. He must’ve suffered. Of course, Mallex could’ve avoided all of this had he simply followed orders.”

“Aren’t you going against your own orders now? I thought you wanted us all dead. Why send soldiers again when you’ve seen over and over that it doesn’t work?” I tried to stand, using the wall for support so he wasn’t looking down on me.

“I’m curious. Do you think you won this time?” He tilted his head to side, fingers resting on his chin, “You really believed that I trusted the Illiathian whelp to follow direction? The men were simply a means to an end. Expendable for me to reach my final goal.”

“Expendable? Expendable! They’re people! How can you think about people like that? You’re willing to throw them away for your own selfish ambitions?” I was getting dizzier and focusing on the features of his face was growing more difficult.

“Of course, kingdoms are built on corpses young lord. Sacrifices must be made. Those men knew that, Captain Nainde knew that, even your Talon knows that.”

I could hear my breath coming in pants and my eyes were drooping, “D-Don’t talk about him.”

“I look forward to the conversation we will have once you’ve regained consciousness. If you do that is.” I was having a hard time holding my head up. I took a breath and gathered what little power I could feel coursing through my veins. The man in blue lunged for Anders, but the General seemed oblivious. A rather pathetic bolt of light shot out of my fingertips and speared him through the gut. My head fell to my chest and the effort to hold my eyes open became too great. I smiled to myself as I heard blood splash over the ground and the man in blue yell for a healer and the guards.

It was the first time I ever heard Anders raise his voice, the words filled with emotion, “Your precious Talon will come for you and when he does, all he will find will be a husk! I didn’t get to finish the Soul Eater. I promise you this, boy, I will take great pleasure in watching the life leave your eyes! Talon will be next and I will be unstoppable!” I heard hurried steps and dragging move up the stairs. Voices reached my ears as the door at the top of the stairs opened. Soon it slammed closed and I was all alone. I relaxed finally. The effort of holding myself was too much in and of itself.

Submerged in the dark, I listened to my own rough breathing. I was so hot. The fever was coming and I could barely hold my head up. I reached for that tiny nudging power, hoping to pull his consciousness to me. Stupid. We were stupid. We had our eyes fixed on an enemy hundreds of miles away. Convinced distance would buy us time. We’d completely forgotten that even though we stood on foreign enemy soil, there were still ways for Anders’ long arm to reach us. I didn’t feel him. The connection wasn’t strong enough. I grit my teeth and tried to sit myself up properly. I only succeeded in falling over, my cheek hitting the stone floor hard.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

 

*Talon*

 

“Slow down! Just stop for a second! What are you doing? Where are you going?” Arms pulled at my clothes but I refused to stop moving. I was tracking through the people littered over the ground. Where was he? Wren hadn’t finished. There were still men who drew breath here. Ridiculous, gold epaulets drew my attention, and I tore off in that direction. I threw a red blur away from the person I’d been looking for. My eyes weren’t focusing entirely, my vision blurring in and out.

“Talon, he’s dead. Loren stomped his head in.” I didn’t know who was talking. I didn’t care. I kneeled. It was an accurate statement. There wasn’t much of a head left. Even so I heard someone approach me. They kneeled and I watched thin white hands block the carnage from my view. Hanja sighed softly, braid flowing over his shoulder.

“There’s nothing I can do. I’m sorry. It’s as Amaris said.” My hands dropped to my sides. I stared ahead, unseeing. There had to be something. Some hint. Was the entire force fodder so Anders could have someone snatch him from me when I wasn’t looking? Was it someone else? I brought my hands up slowly, staring down at them. I’d reached him. I’d had him. My Magik had held him. Then I was on the ground, and they were…they were taking him from me.

“The head wrap on the male and the face coverings, Amaris?” A voice to my right.

“They looked like traditional Tinta garb.” Tinta. Amaris was of Tintan descent, hence her honey skin tone. I stared ahead. Foreign mercenaries. Mercenaries. Anders was collecting them. They weren’t dressed in red though. Anders’ little army wore red. Blue. They wore blue. Dark blue. Did that matter? Tinta and dark blue. Tintan Magik users wore blue. Anything else? Was there anything different about their clothing? Anything distinguishable that pointed to where exactly they came from?

“Dleth still trades with them off and on when they don’t hate each other.” Amaris said and I felt a hand rubbing over my shoulders, “Talon? Can you hear me? Hun? You’re bleeding. Tallie? I think your nose is broken.”

I heard the words, but they slid over my skin and flopped onto the ground. They held no meaning. I wasn’t feeling anything. There wasn’t pain because there wasn’t anything right now. I kept staring ahead, my eyes burning from the lack of blinking. I’d had him. I’d felt his fingers.

I’d had him.

“Talon, we can’t stay here. Talon?”

“He’s not going to move.”

“He has to. Eon, Wren, Loren you guys c’mon.” Loren. Loren. He drew us into this. He knew we’d come for Amaris when we found out he and Rah were under Anders’ influence. He knew. He was part of the attacking force until they’d hurt his feelings. I blinked. A sliver of what I mistook for clarity. It was probably madness.

I’d rose to standing, my eyes found him, and I crossed the distance between us in the time it took for everyone but Wren to notice I’d moved. Loren’s eyes were wide as he caught my hands. Something soared through me. It wasn’t Magik. It was darker, cruel, and unforgiving. We were acquainted by now, but I normally tried to ignore it. Not today. Claws extended from my nails and dug into the backs of his hands. I shook my head as my vision blurred, the edges of it spiderwebbing black. My thoughts dimmed as something lulled me into the dark, convincing me it would take care of everything. He had to pay. It would make him. Deal.

“Talon! Wren! Eon! Stop him!”

“Is he not a traitor? Would it be so horrible if Talon were to punish him for the betrayal? It could be argued that this is partially his fault.” Wren drawled, voice thick with disdain.

“It could also be argued that it’s his fault for not watching the self proclaimed ‘love of his life’. He got taken pretty easily huh Talon?” I ignored her but the words sunk into the hateful part of my brain. The part that agreed. The one that knew she was right.

I pressed my advantage and Loren winced. It felt good to wipe the smug grin off his face, to rock his confidence. I kicked his shin hard, and he dropped down. I jerked one of my hands back, extending my claws more. I saw it too late, but that was okay. Loren spun at the last moment, saving his face from my slash, a blade appearing in his hands. He brought his arms down and I felt pain explode across the back of my neck. I hit the ground and clawed at it. I could still see his feet. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t. Then again, I didn’t need to.

Shadows shot out and I heard a grunt as Loren slammed into the ground. I tightened my fingers into a fist and heard him cry out, closing my eyes in bliss as the sound of bones cracking reached my ears.

“He’s going to kill him! Someone do something!” Something slashed at my back and in retaliation I tightened my fist more. This time I got a scream. Another in a different voice followed, “Talon stop! Please!”

Hands cupped my head and I jerked.

“Sleep, brother.” The sound was so loud I don’t think I heard it. I just passed out after feeling strong vibration, my teeth rattling in my skull.


*

 

“Hey, kid.” Claws tapped gently against my forehead. I slowly opened one eye and then the other. Wren looked down at me, lips pressed in a thin line, “They’re trying to nail down who they think is responsible still.”

“How?” I coughed out. My throat was raw. Spikes of pain lanced over my neck. I was laying in a shelter, propped up awkwardly.

“Be careful with the talking. Hanja didn’t heal it all the way. He needed the energy for Loren. You’re asking the wrong person. You think I listen when you humans babble all your nonsense together?”

“Should’ve let him die.” I moaned softly, struggling to swallow.

“Can’t say I disagree. I don’t trust the slippery little thing. Hanja said he’d finish healing you once he’d had a nap. Go back to sleep. No one wants to deal with you right now.” Wren paused and rested a claw gently on my chest, “Hold onto that blood lust for Sun Beam. Whoever took him needs to regret it.”

“I had him Wren. I fucked up.” My eyes burned and I felt like an idiot.

“Yeah, none of us made it. We all did. Sleep kid. No tears. Hold onto the rage. Stoke it.”

“You’re awake.” I peeked my eyes open again, blinking away the stupid excess moisture. Rah stood in front of me. I wasn’t sure when Wren had left and she’d come in. Maybe I had dozed off. She held her hands to her chest. Right next to a chain with my ring and her little coin. Her strange hair was tied up in small buns on either side of her head, fringe hanging messily over her forehead. She still didn’t have a blindfold.

“Yeah.” I croaked.

“He never meant for this to happen.” I didn’t answer her. I let my eyes fall closed again and decided I would sleep after all. She waited for me to respond and shifted nervously when I didn’t, “He’s been trying to get out since we got in. We didn’t know at first. About what Anders had done. We didn’t know that he knew who we were. Goddess, I didn’t even know who I was. By the time we figured out how much trouble we were in, it was too late. Then we took this job and suddenly you were real. You weren’t this imaginary person I clung to on the nights when I thought I wasn’t going to make it.”

I heard a smile creep into her voice, “Then Kalian made it all harder. I almost told him everything the night he and Amaris fought. The story from beginning to end. He makes you feel…safe. Like whatever it is you’re carrying…he’ll help.”

I tilted my head back, ignoring the shooting pain. My eyes filled and then overflowed, stupid weak tears running down my cheeks. I lifted my hands and covered my face, trying to stop the dam from breaking. How had he done this? How had he kept it together when I’d been captured?

“We’re going to get him back. I promise. Loren and I-“

“Are fucking leaving as soon as glass for bones is able.” I said, dropping my hands and glaring at her, “What? You thought it was going to be okay? You stab us in the back and it’ll be alright because you conned your fucking way into the love of my life’s good graces? Unfortunately for you, he’s not here. Kalian is way nicer than me. I don’t fucking care where either of you go, but you will go.”

“Please, I know this isn’t the right foundation to build a relationship on, but you’re still my brother.” She looked down at me, cloudy eyes brimming with tears.

“My only family was just yanked through a fucking hole in reality. The rest of it died over a decade ago. Go away.”

She looked hurt for a minute and then closed her eyes. Sighing softly, she headed for the entrance, “I understand why you’re upset. You have every single right to be, but I’ll still be here if you need me. Being an asshole might make you feel better but it doesn’t get you closer to bringing Kalian back.”

“I need you and your friend to leave. That’s it.” I called, wincing as the volume strained my neck, pain radiating through it. Something pushed around in my head and a wave of exhaustion rushed over me, pulling me under and into sleep.

 

There was a strange murmering in my head that slowly built and built. It morphed into a whisper, speaking volume, then a yell. One single word thrust repeatedly into my brain over the fledgling tether. It felt like it tore my brain in half and I woke up gasping. I blinked blearily as a silhouette moved above me. White hair, various tiny braids on the side of his head securing his hair away from his big pink eyes. I couldn’t say I was fond of Amaris’ favorite new past time. It made Wren all the more unnerving.

“Kid, up. You’re going to want to see this.” Claws tapped hard against my forehead, and I was being dragged to my feet. I felt weird, delirious, and dizzy. Like I had been drugged, but how would that have happened? Wren pulled me from the shelter and I stiffened when soldiers in full suits of shining armor stood at the edge of camp. One stepped forward, the black and silver surcoat giving him a tiny bit more importance. His head turned to me and he actually took a step back.

Much to my annoyance, Rah stepped up next to me, her hand slipping into mine. I tried to yank free, but she held firm. I wasn’t going to shove a blind girl away from me, for gods’ sake. She turned a small hopeful smile up to me, but I didn’t return it. I didn’t even look at her. Not that she’d know, I reasoned. I raised my chin, happy to find my throat back to normal. Hanja was great sometimes.

“We come with news from his majesty, King Simerion of Dleth.” He looked around at our gathered group as if he expected a bigger reaction. He received mostly blank stares or sneers instead. He cleared his throat and continued, “You are trespassing on his land. Lyrah and Talon Verloren were marked for death upon their birth and the decree was meant to be carried out.”

I wasn’t back to normal completely. My head still felt like it’d been cracked open like a ripe melon. My legs at least seemed willing enough to obey. I stalked forward, flipping my knife into my hand, “You going to do it?”

He held up a hand quickly, his voice turning into a squeak, “H-however his majesty is lacking in heirs and family. He wishes to revoke the death sentence and meet his grandchildren. He has known for some time that you travel his lands and has made no attempt to attack in a show of good faith.”

I studied the strangers for a long moment, noticing that my group’s eyes were on me. That made me a little uncomfortable. I was used to my voice being heard, but being defaulted to for this conversation? The only one speaking? Unusual for this group. I prowled forward, circling the suits of armor slowly. There were three in total, and to their credit, they stayed still as I moved. They were all braced, and one man’s hand moved to the hilt of his sword. Foolish. He wouldn’t have enough reach if he swung for me. He’d leave himself wide open. I made another slow lap and felt their anxiety rise by the minute until the speaker croaked out words again, “Will you not answer?”

“You expect me to believe that the pettiest king on this continent, known for his long-standing grudges, has suddenly had a change of heart? The man who extended a death penalty to grandchildren he never met as soon as they were born? He’d have had us slaughtered in our cribs if he had gotten his way. You want me to come with you, to stroll into the kingdom like an idiot so he can slaughter me and my companions in the main square? Does he think I’m stupid?” One of the three shouted about insolence. The man with the sword swung and as predicted, was nowhere near close enough. I stomped his blade tip farther into the ground and wrapped my fist in shadow before hitting him so hard his helmet and head twisted on his shoulders. I glanced down at my fist, eyes wide and nodding slowly. Kalian was onto something with this. I didn’t know why I’d never thought of using my power this way.

The second man dropped the banner he’d been holding to run from me, and I frowned at him. The word that’d battered my brain came back to me and I grit my teeth. I thought for a moment, “Wren.”

“On it.” He bounded past me and pounced on the man with a loud metal clunk noise as they hit the ground. I turned to the man who’d done all the talking. His eyes were wide with terror as he stared past me. The air around us was filled with snarling, screaming, and tearing noises. A dented helmet smeared with blood soared over my head and landed in front of Eon. He sighed and toed it away from him, bored eyes tracking the carnage I’m sure was taking place behind me.

“Y-you’re a monster. We’re messengers! Messengers!” The man shouted as I stepped closer to him.

“Mm yes, correct on both fronts I’m afraid. Take too much after dear old grandpa.” I pulled him to me, fingers curled around the top of his cuirass, “I need you to do your job and be a messenger. I don’t have time for the king of Dleth. We’re needed elsewhere.”

His eyes were wide and he tried to wrench himself away, “He’ll kill you all for your disobedience, your insolence!”

I laughed, yanking him back to me, “He’s welcome to try, but I’m afraid he’ll need to get in line. We’ve already promised ourselves to Dimian you see. They took something from us, from me. No matter.” I grinned at him and could see my own slightly crazed smile reflected in his eyes, “I am going to raze the country to the ground. Wipe it from the map. I’m more than happy to put Dleth on the list next. I’m sick of kings, generals, and captains. So, I’m going to do away with it all.”

“You’re completely mad!”

”Not completely. By your own admission, I’m a prince, show me some respect and…kneel.”

 

*Kalian*

 

Hot. I was so hot. At some point I think I was lucid as I felt people move me around. Someone may have wiped my forehead. I would dip in and out of consciousness. I’d tried to reach out to Talon all the way up until the point where I wasn’t coherent anymore. I don’t know that I even made it through. My head hurt. This was one of the better moments. A small hand was dabbing at my head, pushing sweat-soaked bangs away from my forehead. Was this a child? It didn’t matter. Nothing did right now. I dipped back under, floating again. It went like that for so long I lost track of time.

I wasn’t as hot now. I looked around, my mouth dry and throat sore. I was still in a cell. I would assume the same one. It smelled like sweat, vomit, and sickness. My body was sticky, and my skin felt too tight. I was thirsty and weak. I could barely make out the raised, raw edges of the arrow wound. It looked infected. There was green and black around it. From what I could see holding my neck at the strange angle anyway. I heard small feet pad quickly across the floor and tried to raise my hands defensively. A little boy stopped in his tracks and flinched, holding his own hands up to cover his face. I coughed and they shook my body causing my hands to fall. I had to roll, gagging at the end, my chest burning. When my coughing fit was over, I returned to my back. He hadn’t come any closer, small hands still raised in front of his face.

“W-water?” His big green eyes stared down at me blankly. I cleared my scratchy throat and tried again, “Water? Do you have any?”

He kept staring, eyes huge in his little head. I coughed and he lifted his hand, bringing it up to his mouth as if he were drinking. I nodded eagerly and coughed again, covering my mouth. When I looked up again, he was reaching through the bars, short fingers poking at a handle of some kind. I tried to get up, but my head was spinning. He pressed his cheek into the hard metal and snatched the handle. He very slowly brought it into the cell, trying to hold it steady. His tongue poked out in concentration as he took careful steps to my side. I pushed myself up on an elbow and closed my eyes as everything around me shifted and rolled. He waited patiently. My fingers were numb and I clumsily dropped it as he tried to hand it over. It clattered to the ground loudly and his eyes somehow got wider. He picked it up and hid it behind his back. Then he kicked my arm out from under me. I hit my face hard against the ground and groaned.

“Hey you little rat! Is he awake? You are supposed to tell us you stupid thing!” I couldn’t see the boy from this angle, but I could see the guard. I kept quiet, sagging against the ground. The guard glared at the space next to me and started angrily unlocking the door, “What do you got? We told you, he gets it when we says!”

Lovely. I kept still as I heard the first hits land. Small yelps and grunts met my ears and I wished more than anything that I had my strength. This one. He would die. Maybe I would save him. Talon was way better at making people suffer. The poor thing was jerked into my line of sight as he desperately clung to the spoon. I closed my eyes as the man repeatedly kicked him. I heard him hit the ground and the cell door slam.

“For that, no rations or water for the day you orphaned little mutt! For either of you!” Nope. I was going to kill him myself. The child was so still that I began to worry. Slowly, I pushed myself up. I found the wall and panted as I leaned back against it.

“C-come here.” He didn’t react and a fresh bolt of fear washed through me. Gods, had he killed the poor thing? My throat still hurt and talking felt like claws raking up and down the inside. Instead, I tried nudging him with my toe. A bruised and bloody little face came into view and my heart strings pulled. I sent an ugly glare toward the guard standing at the base of the stairs. It took him a long time to get into a sitting position and when he had, he pressed his little hand to his chest and moved it in a few circles. I tilted my head to the side in confusion. He pointed to his ears and shook his head. Oh. Oh.

I closed my eyes and felt around with my senses. The medicine must still be in my system. When I reached out for my power, there was nothing like before. I sighed and opened my eyes, jumping when I came almost nose to nose with the boy. He was way too thin. It made him even smaller, and I wasn’t sure how old he was. Why was he in the dungeon tending to a prisoner? That did not seem like a safe job for a child. I shook my head and let my head fall back against the wall. He was looking me over, but he seemed to keep coming back to my eyes. Fair enough. They were strange even for a Magik user. His were bottle green, no flecks, just pure green. No Magik then. Or at least he hadn’t awakened yet, which given his surroundings I wondered if his development had been stunted.

His hands moved in a series of gestures and when I stared at him blankly, he pointed to himself and repeated them. His name maybe? Spelled out with his hands in a way I wasn’t familiar with? He made a small noise of frustration and my head lolled to the side a little. I still felt awful and a little nauseous. He made the motions slower and I looked at him through heavily lidded eyes. In turn, he stared at me like I was the dumbest creature he’d ever seen. There was straw strewn about the ground and he cleared it, his end goal the dirt underneath. With his pointer finger he drew out very crude letters. M, e, e, and p. Meep.

“Meep? You’re name is Meep?” I asked looking down at the crude letters. Silence. I looked up. He stared at me, and I cursed myself. I was pretty slow on the uptake today. I pointed at him and asked again. He watched my mouth move, then smiled and nodded. Who was cruel enough to give a child a name like that? He made a small noise of affirmation then pointed at me. I yawned and etched my own name into the dirt, putting space between the letters. So, he was at least old enough to be literate. Well, perhaps not literate, but he could write his name. He said my name softly, scrunching his nose as he stumbled through the word. It was the only time I’d been upset with the number of syllables in my name. I erased the last part, leaving just the “Kal.”

He looked up at me and promptly smacked the top of my head, “Hey, ow!”

He rewrote the rest of my name and pointed from it to me. I nodded and smiled, feeling a little ashamed of myself. His lips moved slowly and with a determined look, he disappeared into the shadowed corner of the cell. Disappearing into shadows. Well, I seemed to attract a type at least. I smiled to myself and curled up on the floor, exhaustion taking hold right away.

 

I think it was the fourth day. Things had gone like the first one with Meep with the addition of food and water if we didn’t commit some ridiculous offense to our guard. Stale bread in hand, I could move normally now. I could stand and walk and felt back okay. Except for one very important thing. My Magik was still stalled inside. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch. It was barely out of reach and it was maddening. I’d been upgraded to a decrepit cot and I lounged on it, my back against the wall when I first noticed that something was wrong. A stone on the wall outside the cell shifted and drifted out into the open air. Something whizzed through the air and cracked open over the guard’s head. He looked up in confusion as a faint periwinkle colored mist drifted down over his head. I stared as he slumped against the wall snoring loudly.

Meep had been sitting next to me, barely touching my side, but he scurried into his dark corner as the wall came apart. It was surprisingly quiet. The rocks shifted open in to reveal an archway and two people stepped out. One I recognized right away and wanted to cry.

“I see that face you’re making and I don’t got time for it. No cryin’.” Phelti said, voice harsh even as she smiled at me, “Nyx.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m coming.” A younger man stepped around her, his hair was golden blond and his eyes were a pale blue with dashes of purple and green. He stepped up to the bars and gave me a half-hearted wave. He stuck his hand through the bars and opened it, palm up. Three yellow, walnut-sized balls sat in his hand and I slowly stood.

“It neutralizes the toxins in your system. The shit keeping you from your Magik.” Phelti said. I saw movement behind her and smiled brightly at Ajul. Another girl with red and pink eyes stood next to her, a serious looking man with black eyes stood at the back.

“What’re you guys doing? You could be killed for this!” I gasped softly, taking the objects from Nyx’s hand. He rolled his eyes and grumbled.

“We’re part of the resistance, dummy. Did you think we were going to lay down and take it? The queen put the idea in our heads and then Athel…Athel made it all real.” The atmosphere darkened immediately and my heart sank as dread spilled over me.

“…Athel?” I forced out finally.

She avoided my eyes, “No, that makes sense. You guys would have no way of knowing. She openly refused to pledge loyalty. He hasn’t openly demanded it yet, but amongst the court staff and the school’s teachers it was common knowledge. You submit or you disappear. While some disagreed quietly, Athel threw down the gauntlet in front of the entire court when he announced his stupid new army and expansion plan. Anders made an example of her on the palace’s fucking front steps. Coward needed an entire force to take an old woman into custody. Gods’ knew the fucker wouldn’t have been able to take a legend like Athel himself.”

“He’s a joke of a man and she will find him in the afterlife.” Nyx hissed, and I saw him clutching two small, black knives on his hips. Almost identical to Athel’s.

A dark chuckle sounded from the man farthest back, “He needed many men yes, and she eventually did go down. Not before she cursed him in her native tongue and took out a whole bunch of his men, though. She died a warrior.”

I looked at him. He glanced to me, face serious as he nodded. She would have wanted it that way. Athel was never one to let something like old age take her. It made sense that someone would have to force her from this world and she’d go down swinging. Still, my heart ached and a new rage filled me. Anders. His offenses kept mounting. I didn’t know how he intended to make amends when judgement day came, but I knew for certain that I would be the one sending him into the afterlife. I would be his final judge in this world and conveniently also his executioner.

“The queen is dead then as well?” I asked once I’d forced myself over the news of Athel.

“Yes, poison.” Nyx said, eyes downturned, “A classmate of mine was forced into it. She didn’t even know what it was for. She was beside herself with guilt. She took her own life shortly after.”

I closed my eyes as I digested all of the information. Two more lives that could be laid at Anders’ blood soaked feet.

“Kalian, listen. We can’t break you out of here without you at full power. We don’t have anyone as strong as you or Talon. A couple of the other teachers are in the resistance but it’s hard for them to move freely. If we make a move, it’s going to have to be the move. We’re only going to get one shot. Got it? Take one of those a day. The day after the last one is gone your powers should return fully. This isn’t an exact science. We don’t know when you’ll get them back, but that day for sure. We’ve never given them to someone with your power level. Anders has some weird ritual planned in four days. We’ll be cutting it close, but it took time to find you.”

“If my powers don’t come back? What then?” I asked softly. They didn’t answer at first.

Then Nyx met my gaze, “A war is coming either way. There are those of us that are going to stand against Anders without supercharged powers. You’ll have to forgive me, we aren’t friends, but you are a tool Kalian. Your status will not halt the mission. We will get the job done with or without you. We will fight with or without you.”

Phelti frowned at him, but he stepped back into the archway, the others followed. Phelti gave me one last nod and disappeared after them. The wall closed and I found myself staring at it long after they’d gone. I returned to the cot when the guard started to wake. He glanced around in a panic and eyed us suspiciously, “You shouldn’t sleep on the job.”

He sneered and I closed my eyes, feeling the cot dip as Meep crawled up onto it next to me. Nyx had been so determined, completely unfazed by whether or not I’d be joining them. He didn’t have an explosively offensive Magik and yet he was ready to fight. Would I be if my Magik didn’t come back? I opened my eyes. Whatever Anders had planned, he was in for a rude awakening.

Copyright © 2021 Demiurge; All Rights Reserved.
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Kalian 😭 the poor guy can't catch a break. I hope anders gets the brazen bull treatment or something equivalent, i hate that guy. Loren is still on my crap list too. Just on principal lol 

I hope talon brings his threats of burning the entire kingdom to the ground and salting the earth afterwards to fruition. There is so much wrong with the ruling bodies of this world it's insane. 

Edited by lonerwolf_94
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Anders is vile. Can't wait to find out what manner of ridding the world of him the boys find suitable 😉

Absolutely loving this roller-coaster you have us on! Thank you! 

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Ironic that Anders mocks Mallex for being the fool that lost his way for lack of objective when it came to Kalian…, hmmm 🤔, that does seems familiar, except this time it’s obsessive hate vs obsessive love, but isn’t it still allowing a strong foe, perhaps of prophetical significance, to live purely for false pride or hope of manipulation?

Kalian’s mind zap and even the dungeon zap seems to have affected Anders to some extent, though his pride doesn’t allow such admissions, he was ushered out quickly without inflicting retaliative punishment on Kalian, that seems to be energy conservation or lack of focus for his normal mind games.

@Demiurge, you have taken an obsessive prick, and replaced him with an even bigger prick; goodness, I hate to think if there is an even bigger prick out there to deal with next…oh wait, Talon’s Grandpapa, King Priqasaurus; can they pit these two against one another?? Hahaha 🤣 dueling pricks, that’s truly crossing the streams of ego, arrogance, and power; which one’s is bigger? 😱 

Edited by Philippe
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