Where Anyone is Possible
The warm water lapped up onto the shore, sun caught in an eternal sunset, sandy beach which seemed to stretch on infinitely. She stood at the edge of that, water splashing against her thighs as she waded only a short way in the water looking out at the beautiful light as it hung there on the brink of finally fading, but never going down. Her expression was unreadable. Was it a good thing or bad... was it representative of the last light of hope that never died or a symbol for the final rest she would never experience? "Paradise is a picture of a beach. I've always wondered why, but I suppose it IS quite peaceful... In a way."
She waited there in the water, letting it lap up... the ocean, like the horrific memories they actually represented, was harsh, cold, and a vastly larger part of her psyche than she wanted to admit. And she could never escape. Every time she walked up onto the shore, it just moved in a bit closer. Such a seemingly peaceful scene... so very deceptively peaceful.
She hated to admit it, but she needed to confront those memories. She needed to let them wash over her and finally put them to rest. She had tried before. This was not her first attempt, but she wasn't ready before... she would try again now. Sucking in a breath and closing her eyes briefly, she steadied herself, the gentle roar of the ocean becoming a different roar, a crowd... cheering. She knew where she was now.
Around her the crowd of people cheered, but they weren't cheering for her, they were cheering for her death. This was her first time. She still had her old form, she didn't look human yet. That was actually the day she saw the form she would take from that moment forward. She was on her knees, chained to a platform, head leaned into a block. All she had done was attempt to protect herself and creatures that she thought were being attacked. As it had turned, out those beasts had murdered everyone in a nearby village, but she hadn't know that. She had merely acted, and now nothing she could say or do would change their minds about her. She had never died before, so the concept of what was coming was still completely foreign to her, and oddly frightening. The moment before the axe fell upon her, she saw a face in the crowd, a beautiful woman, a dead woman, a ghost. She was certain of this because she was the only one that did not cheer with the others. A sharp pain for less than a second, the bite of the weapon against her flesh, and then nothing. Inky blackness and her first encounter with the Reaper. Less encounter, more a passing. She couldn't reach him to speak with him then… and the blackness... the barrier of void that kept her separate from death... maddening in its emptiness... haunting her, taunting her... whispering softly that this was her eventuality, that there would be no heaven or hell for her... just this.
She couldn't stifle it any longer and screamed, eyes darting open to look around her. Another scream, from the sea gulls in the air. The ocean had risen around her, it was up to her waist now, and looked darker, the waves lashing harder against her. She clutched her arms and closed her eyes again, listening to the sea gulls, until it wasn't sea gulls anymore. It was machinery. She shuddered violently then. The screeching, whining of metal against metal, a world she didn't know or understand... a place she could only call 'hell'. She was told the name, but it was a buried memory in the darkest depths and, in her opinion, it need not ever come up from those depths. The cold took her and she shivered harder, but felt something brush her arm. Eyes shot open just as she felt the sickening crack of her arm as it was shattered beneath the weight of a monstrous hammer. She screamed in pain even as the water lapped up higher and the visions blurred, the slice of water turning to the sting of a whip as it hit her and sent her reeling backward, to tumble into the water... the undertow catching her and sweeping her into the dark cold ocean depths.
She thrashed and gasped but it was a whirl of things. Her body was broken so many times. They tried everything to kill her from the moment she had stepped into that world and been known. Eventually, realizing the futility of merely trying to kill her in the usual ways, they broke her hard and captured her, taking her someplace else.
It was hard to breathe as she went deeper; a host of unfamiliar scents and sounds assailing her. She didn't want to open her eyes. She didn't want them to break her again. Machines, large and screeching, parts grinding against one another, buzzing, a few sparking, all of them seeming to have some purpose, whether it be as simple as lab tech or as complex and large and being part of the walls around them. Chemicals she had never known the touch of, scent of, but soon saw becoming a very real and familiar part of her existence soon, bubbled and hissed on tables and in containers... some huge vats of liquid silver, others small beakers of other things, some bluish, others greenish... all of them looked sickly and made her frown as she caught sight of them from the tiniest opening of her eye. She felt the whip snap over her and only barely managed not to react to it. They must have noticed the frown. They stopped, apparently believing she was still out cold, just dreaming. Something touched her head. Hands? ... She didn't hear the snap. Someone just simply and quickly broke her neck. Apparently unconscious wasn't good enough for them.
When she fought her way to consciousness once more, still choking in the icy depths, she was shackled, not strapped, but shackled to a slab of cold metal. The air was pungent... sickening, somehow, in spite of the obviously sterilized smell in the air, as well. There was just something WRONG with this room. When she opened her eyes it was bright, but not overly so... a strange light being cast onto her pale form from the bulbs. She could only barely look down. She was held tight, metal collar around her throat, shackles holding each arm and leg in three different places, and a final cold ring of iron around her waist. She couldn't move, but the attempt made a sound... which prompted movement from the side of her vision. She tried to turn her head to the side, but found herself blocked by more metal as braces on either side, kept her head from shifting at all. She stifled a whimper and waited to see the figure that moved, but never did. She heard his voice, but only briefly and not in her language or any of the couple she'd learned yet. All she knew is that he was human. She could sense that, smell it… it was everyone she had encountered here. All disciplined, skilled, vicious, relentless… and completely human. Confused, she shivered and tried to shrink below their notice the smallest whimper escaping her lips which prompted the man and his new comrades to chuckle...
She coughed and sputtered and flailed in that deep darkness of the water, but couldn't breathe or rise, she was being swept ever lower into the depths of everything she feared most. Deeper and deeper into that horrifying darkness.
The first thing they did was to shove metal spikes, small, dainty, sharp things, into both of her ears, far enough in to shatter her ear drums, afterwards securing to the braces that held her head. She could hear nothing and the pain was terrible. Her vision blurred a bit, head feeling fuzzy and warm as she felt the blood trickle out and down her neck from the wounds. She closed her eyes, but they came to those next, using a delicate metallic frame, set down over her face like a mask, to hold those open so they could monitor her eye movement and pupil dilation. They wanted to monitor every physical reaction carefully, it seemed, and had no problem with the cruelest forms of holding.
This was the eightieth thing they and tried... or was it more? She had lost track after fifty a long time ago and there was nothing to stop this. Counting was all she could do... she was gagged because they had quickly grown weary of her screams. There were really only so many ways one could scream in pain and only so many times before it started to grate, she was sure. She personally couldn’t hear them either way, though, so it hardly mattered to her. She was gutted, dissected, poisoned, taken apart, and tested in every way. First they used weapons of various materials and with varying anointments, blessings, and such. Then they moved on to energies and natural elements, some of which she had never dreamed could be used to cause such pain, from electricity to plain water. Every natural elemental force was turned into something vile and agonizing to be used against her form. They drew blood, but it yielded little to aid them. It was the core that was important; that is what they had to dissolve. Then came the chemicals, from the basics of alchemical chemistry, to a level of scientific exploration she had never seen before this point, they delved and tortured and tested her core.
A purple gas that caused her flesh to rot rapidly was turned on her, the sickening mist taking days for her power to finally expunge in its most refined form. Then a yellow one that melted right through her skin was tested. So many things. It was like they were using her to refine their formulas, testing the effects of their various concoctions and creations and adjusting until they did maximum damage to her. She couldn’t tell how or why, but she quickly got the impression that she was not the only one down there. She had no way of knowing just how many creatures were being tortured here besides her, but she guessed at many. They tested chemicals and machines of all kinds on her. She never could imagine what they were. Some utterly backfired or didn’t work at all… others were excruciating implements of torture or death. She didn’t know how she kept taking it. She didn’t know why she couldn’t just let go, and for the first time she cursed every god and demon and all of existence, but especially humans, and wished for the universe to be obliterated and everything to be ripped apart and cast into that deep abyssal void of nothing that was what she experienced in death.
Lost in those memories of pain, she's forgotten where she really was. She couldn't tell reality from a memory... and so she laid there helpless against the onslaught as it devoured her again. Hitting the bottom of her ocean of despair, breathless and eternally tormented... until...
Her freedom? That was unexpected... Even if it was a memory, for her it was real again, and she had even forgotten this part. She didn't break free. She was broken free. She remembered the it now. His well-chiseled human form made her think he was another Slayer, but his eyes, his feel... he wasn't. He had wreaked so much havoc, and when faced down ripped through his competition without any remorse or fear, regardless of how much damage he took. A demon had drug her out of hell, and for that she was eternally grateful. He had done it for his own reasons, of course, but it didn't matter. He hadn't given up. He also never spoke of how long he had been trying to get to her, but implied it had been a long while. And she didn't know him. She didn't know a thing about him before that day... when her hell burned in the background as he walked her back home.
A deep painful intake of breath and her eyes opened in the water, body writhing and struggling to be free now, dragging its way along the sand until she was coughing and sputtering and dragging herself onto the beach. Her lungs burned, her heart hurt, but her core... her core surged within her, taking its own kind of breath again as she emerged. The war with those memories had gone no where. She still wasn't ready, but she'd try again, and someday she would win. The worst wounds were only a few centuries old... still fresh... So for a moment she sat on the beach and just looked out over the water, seeing in that eternal sunset the flames of that hell as it burned for her, the tests, documents, formulas, chemicals, everything they tried to create for the purpose of making her and any spark of magic cease to exist... all of it buried under so much debris and death that even if anything was left in those bottomless torture pits, it would surely never be recovered.
Ama awoke soaked, drenched in sweat and lying on her bed, heart still racing. She needed to better regulate herself when meditating, it was becoming ridiculously real and more difficult to escape herself lately... she needed a drink.