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|More from Kyra+Kuzon||Adventure||PG||None||Done|
|Air around me had a sudden chill|
|Fumes and Ice|
To Be Announced
The heat of the day beat down on the back of my head. We were heading northeast, to Fort Unus. We would have to restock there whether we liked it or not. I had a pretty simple plan, at Fort Unus we would restock and buy new clothes. I tried to keep my profile low so the assassin wouldn't catch wind that I was planning on capturing him . . . her. So I would be able to travel to Corona easily. Kira could purchase a veil, a cloth that concealed the lower face, they were the norm in Flamma. So her face would be covered while we passed through my homeland. It was a perfect way to function through Flamma.
Flamma was like one connected breathing volcano. There were more volcanoes and geysers than leaves on a tree. Trees in Flamma were the toughest trees in all of Patria. They have to withstand heat, smoke, toxic gases and water and soil. It wasn't unusual to see dead trees dyed white from different forms of toxins. But despite the harsh living conditions you could also find soft grassy meadows and lush green trees, which sheltered all sorts of creatures.
The clouds in the distance turned pink from the reflection of the setting sun behind us. Before the war, Elementums used to come from all around to admire Flamma's sunsets. This evenings was one of the few that I had acknowledged since my Stirring master, Regis had made me watch the sunset everyday long into the night. He told me that studying the sun and its wonders would allow its power to enrich my eternal flame. I believed him and had made an effort to watch every sunset after, but once my father sent me on my mission the habit had been long forgotten.
Normally, I would have gone to the Stirring Sanctuary at age thirteen, but that rule applied to everyone but the royal family. My training started at age five until age nine, sometimes even later if our master thought we were prepared to learn what was called "The Fire Secrets." The Fire Secrets were special techniques that controlled certain elements of fire. It is said that the Fire Secrets tell you how to create and redirect lightning, smother and form far away lights, and countless of other amazing techniques.
I didn't have the privilege of learning these Secrets, but Zena did. Zena was the best big sister a brother could ask for, it just sort of got annoying how she was better at everything. I huffed in frustration. The only thing I could keep from Zena was the crown. Despite how brilliant she was, the crown always belonged to the eldest son. That son was me.
The sun had set and the sky started to darken. As the sky darkened I saw a fire in the distance. Kira saw it too, "I think we should stop here." She voiced cautiously. I nodded swiftly in agreement.
She dropped her pack near a tree then looked around for a lookout tree. "Let me take first watch, you stayed up all last night and didn't wake me for watch. Sleep, you've earned it." I reasoned. She considered me for a moment, and then nodded slowly. She sat against another tree and closed her eyes.
Satisfied, I looked around, finding an acceptable tree I started to climb. With my broadswords strung across my back I searched the branches for a comfortable split in the tree. Once I settled in, I examined my surroundings. Kira sat across from me, sleeping peacefully, the fire was within plain view a few miles north of us. I would keep a keen eye on that.
Time passed painfully slow. Thousands of different thoughts had crossed my mind; some had left and reentered several times. The waning moon had risen and was nearing the middle of the night sky. I was alert yes, but aware of my atmosphere definitely not. I would glance at the fire every so often, but never really took great care in seeing if it was growing dimmer.
I heard a twig snap, but thought nothing of it. I didn't even look in that general direction. Then, I heard a muffled yelp. My hand reached across my back to grab the handle of my broadswords with lightning speed.
The anger in side of me made my blood boil, and yes I really can make blood boil. My glare was so intense that none of my captors dared to look at me. It was a group of five, three men and two women. The men were rippling in muscle and I could tell the women were stronger than they appeared. I didn't know who these people were or why they had captured me, but I did know one thing they were smart.
My hands, feet, and arms were tied together so tight that most of my exposed skin was rubbed raw, oh and did I mention that I was gagged. Yeah, this situation was worse than Fort Laurus. Not to mention that Raydin, ran off as soon as I was captured. Whether he hid so he could save me or left for good was beside the point. When I found him I was going to put him through a world of misery.
My head turned as one of the women spoke, "hey, Zarak where is our next trading point? I mean I think this one will fetch us a fortune, don't you think?" she chuckled awkwardly.
One of the men, obviously Zarak, came over to me. He measured me for a moment, "I don't know she seems a little weak. You know how the people are these days, Leda; they need strong slaves, not scrawny little things," he said gesturing to me.
Leda spoke again with mock caution, "careful Zarak, this one doesn't like being insulted like that."
"Well, why don't we see exactly what she thinks," he suggested. He untied my gag and walked back next to Leda.
I wet my lips, "you have no idea who you're dealing with," I said icily.
"Oh, don't I," Zarak countered, "I think I know exactly who I'm dealing with, a weak, stupid, Unda girl who traveled a little too far from home."
I looked down, "you're right," I barely loud enough for Zarak to hear, "I am a little too far from home, and you," my voice was rising with anger, "you are a little too out of line!"
"What are you suggesting Unda brat?" Zarak inquired anger detectable in his voice.
"I'm suggesting, a Pugna! A battle between Unda and Flamma. If you win I will surrender and you may take me anywhere you please. If I defeat you, and your friends attack me they will be rendered useless. I will leave with my belonging and finish what I came here to do." I spat the challenge with such fury that Leda took a few steps back.
Zarak just laughed. He laughed with evil, dark purpose. He looked down at me and glared with another evil half smile, "I accept."
Zarak stood at the end of the clearing I stood, my hands still tied, at the other end. The two other men stood on either side of me, he nodded at them. They went to work untying my wrists.
Once untied I jumped into a defensive stance, my arms in front of me and my legs about a shoulder width apart for balance, "you seem to have forgotten one thing Unda peasant, you don't have any water." He was right I didn't have any, but he was in luck because I didn't need any.
He ran forward a few steps and blasted fire out of his clenched fists. I side stepped his attack and his next few fireballs with a series of complicated acrobatic moves Rhea had made me drill for hours on end. I landed in a crouched position. I slid my hand across the grass in front of me; in doing this the water in the grass was pulled from it, leaving a streak of dead vegetation. I shot the water at Zarak. I saw the look of surprise, at my unusual technique, in his eyes. The water splashed against him and he fell backward.
Steam rose from him as he dried himself off. "Nice trick," he complimented.
"Thanks," I replied. I pulled the water from a nearby tree, making it look like a shriveled raisin, and made and small ice pillar, I leaned against, "and trust me there's more where that came from." I snickered at Zarak. I flicked a small pebble of ice at him; it hit him right in the forehead. Infuriated Zarak attacked again, he shot a few small fireballs at me. I turned my ice pillar into a wall in front of me.
After the fireballs were absorbed by the ice I turned the wall into a deadly stream of water. Zarak sidestepped the stream of water, just what I wanted. I pulled the water back toward me, not what Zarak was expecting he was crashed to the ground from the impact of the water to his back.
It took him a while to get back up, once he did, I turned the wet ground beneath him into ice. He slipped and stumbled until he grabbed hold of a tree, there I re-gathered my water and froze him to the trunk.
Zarak squirmed and wriggled, but my ice held. I couldn't help it, I smiled.
Leda was the first to attack me. I dodged her fireball and used icicles to pin her to a tree. The two men came at me next; I did a back hand spring to dodge their fire blasts and nailed them to trees as well. The only one left was the last woman. I pulled more water from another tree and glared at the woman.
The woman yelped, turned and ran into the forest. Satisfied, I tilted my head toward the forest to make sure she was gone.
Smiling as I rummaged through Zarak's things I searched for my bow and quiver. I didn't bother searching for my pack and leather pouch. I would have to travel light now that I didn't have Raydin to do watch for part of the night I would have to travel farther and faster if I was to prevent being captured again.
I was about to leave when Zarak stopped me in my tracks, "don't you want to know about your boyfriend?"
"I was traveling with someone, but he betrayed me and I will not soon make that mistake again." I retorted moodily.
"Well, that's a relief, because he's dead," he said darkly.
My head turned, my concern was quickly covered by anger. I stalked toward Zarak, as I walked I pulled water from the grass and held it around my fists.
"How? Did this happen?" I demanded angrily, fury written clearly on my face.
"He jumped out of a tree, and Leda's sister went after him. When she came back she said he was dead," he explained loosely.
Disgust ran through me, "what is her name?" I fumed so coldly the air around me had a sudden chill.
Fear crept into Zarak's eyes, "Her name is Isadora the Gifted. She will probably be heading to Corona to find new work. Trust me I won't be taking her back." Now he was just trying to get on my good side.
"Believe me when I say she won't get that far," I promised. Zarak lowered his gaze; he was really pushing his luck.
I dropped the water around my fist, turned, and walked away from the clearing. This time Zarak didn't stop me, he had nothing else to say.
I walked at a hurried pace. I could almost feel time slipping away, the longer I took, the tenser I became. Raydin crossed my mind constantly, usually with questions like: how? How could he have fought off dozens of Flamma soldiers at Fort Laurus, just to be defeated by some lowly slave trader? I pushed these thoughts out of my head before I could dwell on them too long. Somewhere in between the eighth or ninth time I pushed, a thought occurred to me.
I was cruel in almost everything I did. I was even cruel to myself, I wouldn't even allow myself to mourn for a friend that I more or less judged harshly from the beginning. I was cruel to people I judged them without even knowing them, I did it every day. An unbearable weight fell on my chest making it hard to continue at such a fast pace. I slowed my speed to a casual walk. I was a monster. A horrific cruel merciless monster. I thought of all the lives Flamma had ruined, all the families they had uprooted. I knew I was in way over my head I couldn't abandon my mission now, I had to free the Elementums, but after that there would be peace. There would be no need for my work anymore. Yes, after the war I too would be freed, freed from my destiny.
Crack! A branch snapped and a bush's leaves rustled behind me. In an instant I had turned and already had my bow drawn with an arrow pulled back aimed at the bush. A figure stepped out of the dense forage he had two broadswords strapped to his back, it was Raydin. I dropped my bow and arrow and ran to him. I wrapped my arms around him in a bone crunching hug. I could feel his arms move to return the embrace, but it was weak compared to mine.
I released him and took a couple steps back. Just seeing him here, alive, I just couldn't leave questions unanswered.
"Spill it," I commanded loosely, "how are you still alive?"
"I didn't know I was dead," Raydin replied casually a grin creeping across his face.
I laughed; it was so good to have him back. A single tear of joy leaked from my eyes. I turned around and quickly wiped it away; hoping Raydin didn't see it, but no such luck. I wasn't looking at him, but I could feel his concern creep into the atmosphere. I turned back around and stuck my arm out toward Raydin, "We didn't really get off on a good start, so let's start over," suggested with a smile.
He considered me for a moment with a raised eyebrow, and then he took my hand and shook it, "I'm Raydin of the Sun."
A smile spread across my face, "Kira, Kira of the Moon."
For the collective works of the author, go here.