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Zaire moved through the woods, not far from where she had met Ezra for the first time, her head pounding. She couldn’t smell, hear, or see anything like she normally would have, and she assumed it was due to whatever the men who wanted information on Aero had done to her. She whimpered softly, raking her fingers through her blood-soaked hair near her ears. The bleeding, thankfully, had stopped, and she had no idea if she’d be able to do what she normally did when it came to the sun rising the next day. She doubted it would help heal her this time.


Zaire’s hands moved, feeling at her back, and she could feel the sensation of flesh ripping and bones breaking. Nothing was actually happening to her, but she felt it as if it were. Memories of Siclides flashed through her head, memories of someone she had thought she loved watching as it all happened following. She’d felt pain before, she knew, but this was more than she was ready to deal with. It didn’t take her long to find the tree she had used when tracking Ezra the first time, when she had originally thought he was a creature of some sort. Before she found out he was humanoid.


Her tanned, slender hand braced itself against the tree, and she leaned against it for support. But it didn’t help much. She fell to her knees, clutching at her throat. There was no collar there now, but the burning sensation was there, as was a similar one on her face. She knew, now, how she had gotten the scars, and it terrified her. What if he came back for her? What if he killed her this time? She knew she wouldn’t be able to handle that. She knew that any torture she would be put through this time would probably be the end of her. Especially if they did that… thing again.


What was it that they had pumped into her ears? It wasn’t anything she had ever encountered before, and that much she knew. Even with Sic, she knew that he was the embodiment of Nothingness, so he was able to cancel out her own powers, her own magic. But this was different. This was the complete and utter cancellation of everything that made her a Yuki. At least, in ability. In appearance, she still had her ears and her tail. She still had her markings, the triangle on her forehead and the diamonds on her cheeks dull just like her eyes. She still had the tanned skin and black hair of her family, and she thought she still had the yellow eyes. She wasn’t aware that they had flashed crimson as she moved through the forest.


Even if she had wanted to, she wouldn’t be able to call on that form that had plagued her and made her into a true beast. She could barely stand up straight as it was. But, with a soft whimper, she pushed herself to her feet and leaned against the tree once more. She remembered the way back to that place Ezra had shown her. She knew it wasn’t far. If she could just make it back there, it would be all right. She knew it would. But that voice within her mind simply chuckled and kept quiet. It knew she would be far from okay. It knew the truth.


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