The heat of the day was at it’s highest. Droplets of water skittered down the length of her half naked body as she lifts out of the small oasis. Heat did not touch her as it did others. Gold eyes land upon the muscled figure several paces off, unpacking dried foods and working on pitching up a tent for shaded refuge. His long black hair sticking to defined back muscles due to the perspiration of effort. She felt herself smiling in a languid manner. Like she was at peace in a world that was chaos. And just as she approached, the man stood to his full height and began to turn and face her. Her smile starts to fall. Just as she was about to get a glimpse of who it was, everything blurred. The face was just out of view to define any distinct features. She felt her heart sink, the once blue sky slowly crowding with clouds of confusion…
Mira pops her eyes open suddenly, the dream world quickly disappearing. Back in the waking world, she sits up abruptly, letting a muffled cry sound into the silence of the cold room. The bed is hard beneath her as fingers clutch against the sheets. Staring straight at the opposite bare wall, her chest rises and falls – strangled with inward emotional turmoil. Another blink, she realizes she is not alone. Her eyes shift to her right, looking at the man sitting in a chair – watching her. When she notices the familiar form of Norrin, she relaxes by a small fraction. A hand touches at her throat. The bracers, thankfully, were off. Sitting on the table next to the bed, she notes.
“What time is it?” Her voice is meek, hardly above a whisper.
“7 am. Closing Ceremonies begin in an hour.” He says matter of factly, his voice flat.
Norrin makes no motion to move as Mira throws the sheets away from her body. Still in the linen dress, to which she pieces together that she had fainted at some point and put in this bed, she moves for the bathroom. Starting the shower, she removes the dress and tosses it on the floor. She steps into the shower and closes it. The water is searing cold. Splashing over her skin, it heats almost instantly at her beckoning. She just wants to touch her ability. Know it is there. Draw strength, knowing, it’s there.
A lie. So much of it a lie. Her head presses against the cold tiles as steam begins to fill the bathroom. She had to finish this. Even though it is a trap. Eryth’s voice was no longer with her. He had gone completely silent after they saw each other hours ago. He got what he needed. He got her here. A prisoner. With only one way out. Taking in a deep breath, she nods to herself. She would see it through.
“Want to talk about it?” Norrin softly asks from outside the bathroom door that is still partially open.
Mira can feel her head shaking side to side. No. How could she talk about it? About anything? She didn’t know what was real anymore. Hot tears blend with the shower water, falling down her face and licking against her neck. She resists letting a cry seep forth. Both hands press against the wall, slowly curling into fists of defiance. Was it love that got her here? Was it hate? Was it revenge? Pure betrayal?
“Norrin…” her mouth works, trying to form the words. Luckily, he does not prompt her further. He stays silent, listening.
“…I can almost see him. Mostly in my dreams. But everything is…fragmented. All I remember is Eryth in my head. Slaughter in the desert. Some…battle that left me broken….” She says quietly, staring at the tiles, letting the water wash over her. Straining so hard to remember.
“So this Eryth guy. He’s like you?” Norrin asks.
“Yes. But not as strong as me, I don’t think…I just…I don’t know how he is profiting from all this. So long, whispering in my head.” Her eyes close tightly. Gods, if only she could remember.
“Ok. Maybe he found you and Jason in the desert – saw how strong you were – wanted you or your power for himself? Is that possible?” Norrin offers while keeping his spot outside of the bathroom door.
It was like a blow to her stomach. A ragged breath rips from her throat and she finally lets out a cry, wracking tears flooding forth. Her body leans heavily against the hot tiles, steam increasing at an alarming rate as she finally allows herself to release the hurt of true loss. Vaguely, she hears the bathroom door pushed open, knocking against the wall as Norrin peaks beyond the shower curtain. He finds Mira with arms crossed, hands clutching roughly at either shoulder and her chin tucked into her chest in a standing, fetal position.
She hears the water being turned off and strong hands pulling her outside of the shower. A towel is suddenly wrapped around her naked body. Before she even collects herself, she is sitting on the bed once more, any remnants of water completely evaporated by the heat coming off her body. Norrin’s face floats before hers, the towel securely being tucked so it won’t unravel.
“Mira? What?” He says as softly as a mercenary can.
“His name….It’s all…coming back.” Through her tears, she hiccups out the words.
“Who, Eryth’s or Jas-“ Norrin blinks as Mira quickly presses her fingertips against his lips.
“NO! Don’t say his name again. I can’t…!” Her hand leaves his mouth, moving instead to press against her eyes, trying desperately to stop herself from foolishly crying.
“What happened, Mira? How did this Eryth guy get in your head?”
“I don’t know. It’s like everything has been scrambled. He’s manipulated everything.” Her voice is hoarse from crying.
It took the hour for Mira to collect herself and finally move to dress. They still had work to do. She couldn’t lose it now. Another white dress is donned, made of the finest silk, it drapes down to her ankles. It is simple, but does well to show off her figure and dark tanned skin, her shimmering loose red hair the crown of the outfit. This time she does not flinch as Norrin clicks the bracer around her neck. Eyes focus upon the window across the room. The morning suns’ rays sparkle across the serene ocean water. Taking in a deep breath, she turns to look at Norrin. His hazel eyes meet hers and he gives her a small nod. She responds in kind before Gent’s rough and calloused voice interrupts.
“I have my four guys scattered in the crowd. They each have their eyes on a few owners that have the more powerful magic users. One of em controls wind and that one big slave that controls water. They will make quick work of the owners – release them so they can help us. They will wait on your cue, Mira.”
“I’m going to target that Nina guard. Stun her so she can’t hit anyone with her pain ability.” Norrin says plainly.
“Kill her – don’t just stun her, idiot.” Gent retorts.
“I’ll do what I have to do. What about Eryth, Mira?”
“I want him alive. If it’s possible, I want to use my bracer once it’s removed – put it on him. I have questions he WILL answer.” Her voice is flat.
Numbly she listens to the two go over their plans. Closing her eyes, taking in a deep breath, she releases it slowly. Smoothing her palms against the bracer around her neck, she looks to Norrin.
“I’ll strike as soon as Lady Chesine moves to take ownership.” She says quietly. There was a calm that was finally settling over her. Allowing her to push the images of Him, away. As much as she wanted to swim in her memories – hold tightly to those features that were starting to look clearer – she had to finish this.
“Gent, you need to watch Norrin’s back. If he is unable to get the bracer off of me in time, they will try to kill him and then I’m screwed.” Looking to Gent, she lifts a brow as if she needed to see him agree with her orders. He finally nods tightly and shifts his shoulders.
“Good Morning, Ladies, Gentlemen, Merchants!” The announcer projects his voice to all those gathered.
Once more, Mira and Norrin are lined up with all the other owners and slaves. Mira watches the crowd intently, though, her eyes land upon Lord and Lady Chesine and the five other Master Slavers close by them. Eryth stands right next to the Lady Chesine. Being a good little pet. But his eyes are firmly glued to Mira. Wetting her lips, she breaks her gaze from him, and wonders if that is all of them. Or were there more? Either way, taking out the seven would at least make a good dent. Feeling Norrin lean into her back, she slightly inclines her head and motions to move her hair off her shoulder.
“Do any of the new Masters look familiar?” He whispers into her ear.
Mira slowly shakes her head. There was one of the women who looked familiar, but again, she didn’t trust her memories. So it was odd when she reflexively rubs at her neck. Like she suddenly felt a prick trying to break the skin. There was nothing there, so she looks at Norrin briefly before returning her gaze to the stage.
“All bidding is now closed! There have been several offers and negotiations on all goods. We will now announce our winning bidders and commence with the transferring of the merchandise to their new owners” He claps his hands loudly, signaling for the first in line to move forward.
The world seems to slow as Mira’s eyes flick back and forth, taking in her surroundings and all those within it. There were guards, milling about on some of the upper decks of the open area. Nina was at the announcers side, stepping forwards to the slave that was being announced to their new owner. Ready to maim the poor woman if she decided to fight. Looking off to her right, she sees Gent towering over two richly garbed merchant women. Another quick look around, and she sees two of his men, standing right behind their targets, Owners with their slaves close at hand.
There are no incidents as the line moves along. No struggles as slave is handed over to their new owners. Mira holds firmly to the bastion of calm. Saving her strength. Before long, Mira feels her feet stepping her closer to the platform, lifting as she takes the first few steps up. The Lady Chesine serenely steps forward, hands clasped in front of her, Eryth moving just as soon as she does. Looking to him, she frowns with open hate glinting in her gold eyes. Such a fool she was. And then she hears his voice in her head.
“I had to get you here, Mira. I’ve deceived them all into thinking they broke me. And believe me, they tried. We can take them all out – but only together! Once we kill them, we can be together again! Please, believe me!” He sounds so convincing, once again. But his last sentence…rings completely false. And the face of the one she had truly wanted to be with – is suddenly there. Clear as day. It makes her steps falter as she comes to a stop on the platform. In the distance, she can hear the announcers voice. Going on and on about how the Lady Chesine was to take ownership of the powerful elemental. Her peripherals show that Gent is at her side, lifting his hand to shake the announcers and then moving to the Lady Chesine to kiss the back of her knuckles when she offers him her own hand.
“No. You lie. WE were never together. I don’t know how you have twisted my whole being around. But I will find out!” She mentally says back to Eryth. She watches intently as his face seems to harden. There is a shadow that takes over his eyes. Perhaps anger.
It is then that the Lady Chesine moves in front of Mira, but her eyes are on Norrin. Lifting her angular chin, she quirks a brow at him expectantly. “I’ll be taking ownership of her now.” An order if Mira ever heard one.
Norrin steps up beside Mira, raising his wrist and pressing his fingers against it gently. He spares a sidelong look to Mira as the brace expands in order for him to remove it. His motions are slow as he looks up to take in Nina. The woman’s eyes are locked on Mira, ready to deliver a striking blow of pain if she feels she needs to. As soon as Mira feels the flicker of Norrin’s presence through the brace gone, she clenches her fists, jaw going tight.
Norrin tightens his grip on the wrist brace, suddenly pushing the Lady Chesine away from him, eliciting a shocked and angered cry from her. He moves fast for Nina, grabbing the front of her shirt, causing her eyes to break away from Mira and to look directly into his. In that split second he starts to feel pain, but it is short lived as he uses his own ability to stun her into paralysis. The woman’s face goes blank, her eyes staring off at nothing. The fat announcer gives a strangled cry as Gent throws him unceremoniously off of the platform and into the unsuspecting crowd below. Chaos ensues with cries of outrage, screams of confusion as the world explodes around them.
Moving for Norrin, Eryth rips the wrist brace from his hand as the Lady Chesine stands erect once more, the Lord Chesine quickly coming to her side to tuck her behind him. His eyes wild with outrage as Norrin spins to land a firm punch into Eryth’s jaw. Mira spins, eyes going wide as she sees the brace in Eryth’s hand. Gasping, she lunges for him. She cannot let him take control of her! Her body plows into his as he regains himself quickly after Norrin’s punch. His skin ignites with intense heat, blue flames licking over his arms. Eryth grabs Mira and swings her to his side, fingers digging harshly into her flesh.
Struggling against him, Mira swings her elbow into his abdomen. It hardly makes a difference, the flames emanating from him eating through his loose tunic shirt. He turns back to Norrin, reaching out the hand with the brace in it and sends a stream of those flames to catch him on fire. There is a harsh scream from Norrin, and he falls back onto the platform, rolling off the side and onto the ground to hurriedly put the flames at his chest out. Gent is suddenly there, reaching for the brace while Eryth is focused on Norrin.
Moving to strike at Eryth again, Mira’s wrist is suddenly caught by a cold, solid hand. Turning, she meets the Lord Chesines’ ice blue eyes. He roughly pulls her to him, looping his arm so she is now in a choke hold with her back to him. The Lord Chesine yells towards Eryth.
“the brace! Give it to me, NOW!” He commands.
“NO!!” Mira screams, struggling against his arm. He is quite stronger than he looks. He doesn’t even budge against her. So she bares her teeth and firmly bites down on him.
“GAH!! NOW, ERYTH!” Blood streams down his forearm as Mira latches on violently.
Gent foolishly rushes in to grab Eryth. Which earns him a pair of hands set ablaze. Hissing in pain, Eryth takes that moment to brutally shove him off of the platform. He then turns to face Lord Chesine. Mira meets his eyes as he holds up the wrist brace. But he pauses, even as the Lord Chesine commands yet again that he hand it over. She sees it then. He wasn’t going to hand it over. Chesine pulls at Mira’s body, quickly moving for Eryth. However, Mira sees him starting to slip the brace onto his own wrist. Gasping, she unlatches herself from Chesine’s arm, screaming in protest as she harshly kicks at her captor, trying to break free.
A wall of air suddenly blossoms between them all. The flames are snuffed out along Eryths arms and they are all thrown back away from each other. Gasping for air, Mira blinks at the shock of the blow. Quickly she stands, clawing at the bracer still around her neck. She moves away from the others who were getting back to their feet, dizzied for a moment and confused as to what just happened.
The air elemental! Her eyes locate the short woman quickly, as she uses the air around her to knock her masters over the railings and into the ocean. Others are violently smashed against metal walls or suffocated by pulling the air directly from their lungs. For only a split second their eyes meet and Mira nods tersely in thanks. Turning again, she desperately looks for the wrist brace. Her heart echoes loudly in her head, panic starting to take over.
That panic suddenly twists into fear. Her body freezes in place, as she watches Eryth locate the wrist brace first, not far from him on the ground. In a split second she is racing for it, and so is Eryth. Both sacrifice their bodies as they dive. And both clutch at either side, struggling with one another as they prop their bodies up, trying to get some leverage to yank it free from the other. With teeth bared, Mira grunts against Eryths’ superior strength. If only the bracer were off! She could reach for her ability and burn his own out!
His hand wraps around her throat above the bracer, cutting off her air supply even as she continues to grapple for her freedom. Her vision starts to swim as her lips tug at precious gulps of limited air.
The chill slithers down her spine as Eryth slips the wrist brace on. The command is precise and savage, his hand suddenly lifting away from her throat so that her vision slowly begins to clear once more. He is standing now, huffing to catch his breath as he looks down at her, his fists clenching tightly. Reaching down, he yanks Mira to her feet in her stunned silence. Pulling her to him, he holds her roughly, a hand pinching at her chin and lifting it up so she has to meet his eyes.
“NOW! Use that anger against the Slave Masters. Burn them all!!” He orders her, a stone cold glaze in his eyes as he turns away to look at the Lord and Lady Chesine. They stand only a few feet away, both looking haphazard and baffled as to Eryth’s betrayal. He points to them both and without looking back at Mira, directs her to her first targets.
“Starting with them!” His voice booms so that both the Lord and Lady hear him give the order. Lord Chesine tries to put himself in front of his Lady, thinking somehow he would be able to protect her.
“They wanted to BREED you Mira! They want to manufacture US!!” Eryth’s voice is inside her head, once again.
Her body trembles. Yes, she wanted to burn all the Masters. But she wanted to be free and of her own will. She glares at Eryth. “FREE me and I WILL!!” She seethes up at him.
“DO IT!!” He says aloud, yelling with such force that spittle flecks along his lower lip. She can see the rage, the hate – no – insanity in his eyes. And Mira has no choice, as he sends a shard of pain ripping down her back.
“DO AS I SAY!!”
Groaning loudly, she nearly falls to her knees. Hot white light bursts from behind her eyes in a glorious plume of pain. It beats down upon her, wave after wave until she finally does as she is commanded. Gasping for air, she reaches for her fire. Feeding her pain into her ability. Brightly lit gold eyes train upon the two Masters. Fire springs to life in her hands to race up and over her forearms. The pain finally vanishes, and there is a choked scream from Lady Chesine as her body is set on fire. The smell of burnt flesh and hair wafts upon the air as Mira, trembling, stands back up. Watching the other woman flail, trying to put herself out, to no avail. Lord Chesine uses his own hands to try and put the flames out, falling into her and setting himself on fire, all the while begging that Mira stop. Finally, the screams stop and the burning bodies go still, while the fire consumes on.
From the corners of her eyes, she can see slaves helping to free other slaves, merchants being taken down in their escaping wake. It was pure pandemonium. But Mira hears only the strong rumble of the fire deep inside her. Hears the soft timber of a man’s voice deep from her memories. When she turns to face Eryth once more, she gasps when she sees Nina coming up behind him. The woman’s eyes are hard as steel, focusing on the man to deal out her outrage. He is taken by surprise, the pain hitting him so hard Mira can almost feel it in her own body. Through it all, he commands Mira yet again. Her arm raises, her palm outstretched to the air as she summons fire to bloom anew at the woman’s feet. But that is all Mira offers in help.
It is enough to distract Nina, so that Eryth quickly rises from his hunched position. His hands reach out, cutting off her windpipe as he strangles, his flames dancing over his knuckles and burning into Nina’s skin. The choked off scream is a very short one. There is a very audible ‘snap’ followed by the crackling of charred skin. Eryth made quick work of her, and then he releases her to drop with a sickening thud.
Before she knows it, she hears Norrin and Gent yelling for her over the crowd of confusion. Snapping her head in their direction, she finds them both, fighting with the two men left of Gent’s guards against the other guards of the ship. As soon as she takes a step in their direction, hands lifting to assist them, she is stopped in her tracks. Eryth is there at her shoulder, grasping both with his hands as he harshly whispers with panting breaths.
“They aren’t really your friends! Everyone you have ever known has only used you! You should kill them now!”
“No…! I WONT!” She defies, shifting to try and pull herself free of his grasp.
He pulls her into him tighter and she can feel his lips against her right ear. “JUST like in the desert! Your Weak, Mira! You let your feelings rule! My offer still stands as it did then. Come with me. We’ll make everyone pay. You lost everything that meant anything to you in the desert.” His voice sounds triumphant.
“…I lost everything…?” Vacantly she whispers, her eyes blurring beyond the crowds of running people, beyond her friends that were struggling to gain a footing against their foes.
“That’s right. You lost HIM because you wouldn’t join me!” Now he was just crowing with satisfaction. “We could have defeated those Slavers had you just been on my side when they attacked!” He huffs with exasperation. A few precious moments slip by. “Fine. If you won’t do it on your own. I’ll make you. KILL THEM, MIRA.” He looks past her shoulder at Norrin and Gent. A cruel smile spreading over his lips.
Riddling pain branches out along all her nerves. He holds her tighter still as she trembles at it’s dominance over her. Her head lolls back against him as she shuts her eyes tightly, crying out against her will. Her hands begin to lift, but very slowly, as if she were mired in molasses. She tries fighting him. Trying, but failing. Norrin. Probably the only true friend she has ever known. He would die at her hands. Gent, she hardly cared for – but, they had made a deal as long as they were on this ship.
Even through all the pain flooding her, there was suddenly a silence as her sorrow, anger, betrayal and love all collided together. And there was a voice. Not Eryth’s. But the soft timbre of that familiar voice. She felt it’s presence pushing in past the pain. Pushing the pain, instead, into her ability. A shuttering breath is taken. And when she opens her eyes, flame like shadows shifting deep within them, she releases the air in her lungs.
“Yes. I’ll do it……”