Familiar Story

This is UNFINISHED! This is posted because I need help deciding about the stuff between the **  **. Pretty much, I’m not sure what to do at this point, such as who the big bad is or where to go from here.

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Part 001

He held my arms down to my side, his warm lips barely touching mine. His hot breath made my body shiver in delight. I watched as his brown eyes met mine in anticipation. He knew that he had me under his charms. I smiled and pressed my lips to his, finally tasting the nectar that his look promised. He held me against the wall, pushing his body against mine, as his kiss devoured mine in haste and need.

He then pulled away, leaving a rush of cool air between us. He smiled mischievously, “It did not even smear…” He touched his thumb to my lower lip, trying to get my lip stain to smudge under his touch, but it stayed just as in place as well I applied it.

I smiled, “Then it did its job.” I pulled myself away from the wall, “Master, we need to get going, as it is. You will be late to the Council meeting if we continue enjoying ourselves here.” I straightened the long black sparkly dress that clung to my curvy figure, before fixing his black silk cravat and the lapels on his dark red tight-fitting coat.

He turned away from me, and I watched his tight pants as they hugged every muscle from his waist to his calves. His long blonde hair was tied back with a red ribbon, keeping it away from his face. Every step he took made my heart leap, until he turned back to me, “Coming, Pet?” He asked with an eye brow raised.

I felt my skin burn as I quickly stepped to my place behind him. I followed him with the precision that came with our Contract. Two steps behind and one step to the right was my place as his Familiar. His butler opened the door to the outside, and the footman then opened the door to the carriage. He climbed inside easily, before the footman helped me into the back, facing away from the horses.

The carriage jolted forward, and I kept my seating, lest I touched my Master without his permission. He was one of the top Wizards in the country of Eamtern. He was thought to become the next Council Leader when the current one retires. He was the most desired Wizard in Eamtern, because he held dominion over Love and Hate. He could have chosen any Familiar in the world, but he chose me.

I kept my eyes to the ground, not letting the earlier amusement let me think higher than my class, though I played with the ruby heart necklace I wore. Familiars are creatures with enormous amounts of power, but they require being Bonded to a Wizard in order to be controlled. We are given Contracts that allow our Wizard Masters to take our mana for their own spells, giving them more power than what Wizards can create on their own. We still retain our own magical power while Bonded, even if our magics are different kinds, such as ours.

An Unbonded Familiar is a dangerous one, and if they refuse to be Bonded, they are to be killed. We are told that even worse than being killed, is when a Bond is forced on a Familiar to a Wizard they do not want. The Bond forces the Familiar to give their mana, even if the Wizard forces the life of servitude onto a Familiar. Only Evil Wizards will force Bonds onto Familiars, so in order to keep ourselves safe, we do everything our Master desires to prevent them from Severing the Bond.

The coach stopped abruptly, pulling me from my thoughts of the Bond. I handed my Master his dark red mask, watching his hands work to tie it on. He exited the carriage first, before I was allowed to exit. I followed behind him, staying two steps behind and one step to the right.

“Welcome, Lord Bittan.” The footman spoke to my Master as the double heavy wooden doors opened before us. I am always amazed at the sight of the grand entrance. The grand staircase was covered in white stone that glinted in the candle light. The walls were aged mirrors that reflected the light into every part of the entrance. My Master unbuttoned his dark red jacket, and I caught it as it fell to the floor. He wore the same colored silk shirt that matched his jacket and his mask. I bowed to him as he walked up the grand staircase and stayed bowed until the large ornate glass doors opened and shut behind him.

I handed the jacket to the valet, before heading to where the other Familiars were gathered. They say that Familiars start to look and act like their Masters, but I knew that I have not changed from when I was first captured when I was younger. I carefully opened and shut the door behind me.

I watched the other Familiars appraise me, but I did what I could to ignore them all. I was different than the other Familiars, and we all knew it. I walked over to an alcove and bided my time until the Council meeting was over. The other female Familiars whispered as I passed, but I tried not to listen in. They were jealous that my Master had chosen me instead of any of the other Familiars. The males stopped and stared as I passed them by, some debating whether it was worth trying to talk to me. I knew that the dress was chosen because my Master wanted to flaunt the body I have, so the males were enticed to wanting to see the curves that lie under the clingy material.

I grabbed a couple sandwiches and a glass of wine, before sitting in the same alcove I always did, away from the other Familiars. I had no desire to mingle with the others because, eventually, the conversation would swing to my magic and what I was. What none of them knew what that even I had no idea what I was. Nevertheless, they would become annoyed at my lack of answers, and then they would try to goad me into using my magic. If my Master felt me using my magic, he could decide to sever the Bond, so I did everything in my power to stay away from the other Familiars.

I watched from the shadows, eating the sandwiches I grabbed and sipping the wine. It felt like forever for the Council meeting to end, but that could also be because of how uncomfortable I was. I saw a commotion out of the corner of my eye. Three male Familiars had a female pinned to the wall. None of the other Familiars would help her; they all just watched as they laughed as she tried to escape.

I felt white hot rage start to fill me, my magic sensing my anger. I stood up and could feel the heat coming from my body. I knew that heat waves would emanate from my magic and body. It was the only warning anyone would get before I would unleash the fire within me. The Familiars stopped gossiping about the three males and their prey as I passed by. No one stopped me, not that they could. I was too far gone to be stopped by anything but my Master.

I stepped up to the males, grabbing the two on the outside by the shoulders. They screamed as I burned through their clothes to their skin. I ripped them away from the girl, throwing them to the floor, before dousing them in icy cold water. The ring leader of the group turned to face me, “So, the bitch decided to join us.” I felt the ground rumble under our feet, as did the rest of the room. I watched his face go from haughty to terrified as the air around us became both flaming hot and ice cold.

I looked to the girl behind him, seeing her torn dress sent me over the edge. I grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground. I felt the fireball and the icy wind wrap around me, as I grabbed her hand to help her up. The males scrambled away as she smiled to me, “Thank you.” She whispered, but I watched something slither behind her eyes. She screamed like she was being stabbed. I dropped her hand and stepped away, confused.

I felt the yank of magic from my Master, as he and the other Council members poured into the room. The girl kept screaming, as my Master grabbed the magic leash that Bonded me to him, pulling me to the ground like a dog. She ran to him, holding onto his red shirt, crying into his chest, “I was talking with my friends and she ATTACKED US!” She became more and more hysterical.

“I did-” I tried to say, but my Master yanked the Bond, silencing me.

“You have no right to talk, Familiar.” His voice was sharp, and it cut into my heart. He looked down at the pretty girl who was clinging to his shirt, “Tell us exactly what happened, Familiar…”

“Familiar Lufn, my Lord.” She sniffled, slowly calming down. She pointed to the males who had burns on their shoulders and neck. “We were just talking about nothing, and out of nowhere, SHE-” She pointed to me, “came up and started to burn them. Then she grabbed me with her hands and I thought she was going to kill me with her fire and ice magic!”

He glared at me, before turning to the other Familiars, “Is that what happened?” He demanded of them.

Each of the Familiars stood by their Master, before answering that Lufn was telling the truth. I felt the world fall beneath me, as I watched every single of the Familiars lie to my Master. None stood up for me, and the accustomed feeling of betrayal and loneliness hit me. He yanked the leash, pulling me to my feet. He grabbed my long hair and pulled me towards the pretty girl. I saw the maliciousness in her eyes as he grabbed her by the hand and took us to another room.

He opened and slammed the door behind us, “Since my Familiar hurt you, what can I do to make it up to you?”

“My Lord, I am Unbonded but wish to be Bonded with a Lord as strong as you. Is there a Lord that you would suggest?” She asked hopefully. I felt her magic rise and slam into me, before it leaked into my Master. It was his same kind of magic, but different. I felt the lust and seduction radiate from her. I tried to block the flow of magic from me into my Master, hoping to stop her from bewitching him. He let go of my hair and pushed me to the ground out of his way.

“You are a Succubus?” He asked breathily, as he was trying to control himself around her.

“That is correct, my Lord.” She curtsied low to him. “I have the same magic as you and wish to be your Familiar, if you let me.” She looked disdainfully to me. “My Lord, everyone knows that you belong with a Familiar that matches your magic. This pet you have is a menace and has attacked other Familiars before. How long until she turns on you?”

I tried to defend myself, but my voice would not work with his magical leash gagging me. He looked down on me, and it was the first time I felt him withdraw his magic from me. I saw him for who he truly was, an ambitious Wizard who cared for nothing but power. I could give him all of the power he could ever want, but I saw the disgust in his eyes looking at me. “She would not turn on me, but I will also never truly possess her, despite my ownership through the Contract.” He looked at her, as if she was everything he ever needed, “But since we are compatible, you and I could truly become powerful.” He grabbed me by the hair again, pulling me up, as she opened the door to where all of the Wizards and Familiars were gathered.

I watched in horror as he nodded to Lufn, and he grabbed a dagger from the Aether. I tried to pull away, but I could not move with him holding my hair so tightly. Everyone watched with apprehension. We all know what that dagger meant, because it was the only thing that could Sever a Bond. He threw me to the ground, using the magic leash to hold me on my knees. The leash tightened around my wrists, knees, and pulled my head back, exposing my chest and necklace to the best angle from above.

“From the magic of the old world, I Sever the Bond between us.”

The other Wizards spoke in unison, “He Severs the Bond.”

“With this dagger, our Contract is void.”

“The Contract is Void.” The Wizards repeated.

“May the Gods have mercy on you, whether life or death is the appropriate state after the Bond is Severed.” He raised the dagger above his head with both hands holding the hilt.

“May the Gods have mercy.”

He plunged the dagger through the necklace and into my chest and heart. “The Bond is Severed.” He called out.

“So, mote it be.” The Wizards answered as the dagger vanished.

I felt the icy cold of the Bond leaving me, pain blossoming from my chest. The leash released me from its hold, since my Mast-Lord Bittan released me from my Bondage to him. I crumpled to the floor, trying to hold myself together from the lack of Bond as my magic raged through me. The Bond had helped keep it at bay, keeping me from any of the adverse effects of my wild magic.

I heard a shout from near me, “Does anyone wish to Bond with this creature?” Lord Bittan’s voice rang out with glee. There was nothing but blaring silence in the room we were in. Without a Bond, my magic could destroy me, or the Council would.

The doors to the room slammed open, darkness filling the space. Familiars stood by their Masters, protecting them from whatever this magic was. I felt it call to me, the wildness of it felt like home, but I did not even know where home was. “I will Bond with her.” The voice was deep and rough, like someone had no spoken for weeks started to talk again.

There were shouts all around me, “Preposterous! You are an Exile! How dare you enter the House of the Council?!”

Darkness engulfed everything, but the pain finally left me, the Gods having mercy on me. I silently thanked Kitarr for allowing me to live to feel this wild magic around me. I felt my magic dance with it, my elemental magic emitting from everywhere around me. It wanted to join with this darkness magic, giving my magic life. I felt the warm fire, icy water, wild wind, and soft earth rise from my magic. I could not see the room around me, but I figured that my magic was having its way with the room. I heard screams as my magic clashed with the other Familiars’ and the Wizards. Nothing could stop this maelstrom now that it was unbridled from lack of Bond.

I felt someone lift me up in their arms, holding me close to their body. “You have a choice, Council Members. You can allow me to Bond with this Familiar, or you can see what true wild magic unleashed is like.”

There were more shouts as the Wizards debated, but another wave of my magic crashed into them. The Council Leader finally shouted, “Let him deal with the Monster!”

The Wizard who held me spoke softly to me, “Do you accept the Bond to me? A lifetime of servitude to me? Will you allow me to become your Master in mind, body, soul, and magic? Will you allow me to drink from your magic as I see fit, even if it kills you?”

I laughed at his voice, as it filled me with warmth and tamed the wild magic that wanted to burst out of me. I wanted nothing more than to let our magic dance, as it should. “I accept your Contract and Bond.” I could not see the man who I Bonded with, nor did I know his name, but I knew with everything in me, that he was where I belonged.

“So, mote it be!” The Council Leader shouted, finishing the Bond through his power. The world calmed around us, the darkness receding and the Bond leashing my magic back within me.

I could finally see the man that held me, and I felt my heart sink. I stared up at the wild-eyed man, his pale blue eyes the color of ice, his skin was tan from living outside. His black hair was chaotic, as it flowed down his back. I recognized him from the Exiles book, a Dark Wizard who killed other Wizards. I heard the whispers from the other Familiars and their Wizards.

“She would have been better dead than with that Wizard.” I heard Lufn say as she clung to Lord Bittan.

I gasped as he pulled me closer to him, before he turned as swept us towards the doors. I heard Lord Bittan yell to the Council Leader, “How could you have allowed that Exile to Bond with a Familiar, especially one as dangerous as her?!”

“I had no choice! Her magic is wild and would have killed us!” He snapped back, holding his own Familiar close to his side. Lord Bittan glared at us, as we left the room then the mansion.

The Wizard set me onto a pure black horse, holding me close to his chest. My brain felt fuzzy, like it did not understand what was going on. “Sleep, Little One.” He commanded of me. “We have a long ride ahead.” I felt his wild magic wrap around me, and despite his reputation, I felt like I was home. I felt sleep creep up on me, before it took me under.

 

Part 002

I woke up to the sounds of birds and the rustling of leaves outside a brightly lit window. I shielded my eyes from the light, as it poured through the large window, filling the room with morning light. I sat up and looked around the small but comfortable looking room. I laid on a bed that was as long as I am tall, but twice at wide. The furniture was all a warm cherry wood color but none of it was new. The best description I had was that it was well loved. There was a dresser, night stand, desk, desk chair, and then a larger comfortable looking chair in a corner that had a couple of bookcases flanking it.

I stretched, trying to get my muscles to untense after the pain from the night before. Then it hit me, I had been Disbonded and cast away from Lord Bittan because a succubus Familiar accused me of harming her. I tried to hold back the pain and rage I felt, but it manifested as blue fire in the palms of my hands.

The wild-eyed male burst through the door, “Is everything alright?” He asked carefully, trying to see if there was someone else in the room with me.

Looking at him, my fire extinguished. This was my new Master, even if I did not know his name or anything about him. “Nothing is wrong, Master.” I answered in a barely audible growl.

He gave me an odd look, “Well, since you are awake, breakfast is ready.” He turned towards the door, but stopped before he stepped out of it, “The Lord that threw you away is an idiot. Do not let yourself dwell on the thoughts of the past. You also might feel more comfortable in the clothes on the desk.” He stepped out and shut the door behind him.

I stood up and walked over to the desk and saw the pile of black clothes. I picked up the first piece of cloth, realizing that there was a dark green tunic, a strip of black fabric and a pair of black leggings in the pile. I looked to the door, then took off the slinky black dress and let it fall to the wooden floor. I used the strip of black fabric to bind my breasts, squishing them closer to my ribcage. I pulled on the leggings and put the tunic on over my head. I grabbed the dress off the floor and exited the room.

I walked down the short hallway to a large room that combined the kitchen, sitting, and eating rooms. The male sat at the medium sized round table. He stood up as I entered the room, both of us not really sure what to do. I bowed, as Lord Bittan would have had me do, “May I join you at the table for breakfast, Master?”

He nodded wearily, “Why would you not sit at the table? Where would you sit? On the floor?”

I did not have an answer for him, so I sat down in the chair across form him. He then sat down and handed me food from a large bowl. The eggs and bacon smelled delicious, the toast looked fresh, and my stomach grumbled loudly. I looked into my lap, as I felt embarrassed that I was not making a good impression on my new Master. He looked up at me and laughed heartily, his black hair bouncing as he sat back. “I guess you are hungrier than I thought.” He piled the food onto a plate for me, setting it close to me. “You will need your strength, so eat up!” He commanded through tears of laughter.

I carefully took the fork and ate through the food he offered. I meant to leave some food on the plate like I always had, but I ended up devouring the food without thought. He finished before I did and just sat there watching my chow down on the eggs, bacon, and toast. I finished cleaning the plate of food, before I noticed how intently he was staring at me over his folded hands. I asked, choosing my words with great care, “Did I do something to offend you, Master?”

“Was Lord Bittan your first Wizard?” He asked almost offhandedly.

I nodded, “Yes. We Bonded about three years ago.”

“And before that?” He asked, and I could feel the seriousness of his questions.

“Before that, I was Unbonded as a part of the Council for ten years, while they tried to find placement for me. Earlier than that, I do not have memories of. I was found wandering the docks and streets. I do not know of where I came from or of life before the Council had me.”

He looked at my lap, where I still held the dress, “What do you plan on doing with that?” He asked, disgust on his face.

“I will do whatever my Master commands of me.”

“I did not ask that; I asked what are you planning on doing with it?”

I had not thought about anything like that, but it did not feel like he was trying to trick me with his questions. “I do not know, Master. I have never been asked what I wanted.”

He stood up suddenly, “Come outside with me.” I followed close behind him, two steps back and one step to the right of him. He took note of my positioning as he opened the door to the cottage. There was farmland to the front of the cottage and forest in the back. He grabbed my shoulders and guided me to a patch of dirt. “Think about last night. Think about how someone you trusted threw you away at the first chance he got. Think about the bitch that set you up.” I looked back at him, confused because he was not there to witness that. He smiled, “I know about what you did and why. You thought you were saving her from those three males, but instead, it was a set up.”

I saw her gloating face in my mind’s eye, before it shifted to Lord Bittan grabbing the dagger. Then the image became her clinging to him, and him protecting her from my maelstrom. I felt that familiar rage rise in me. He grabbed the dress and held it up to my eyeline. I hated that dress, a piece of cloth that Lord Bittan chose because he was the Lord of Lust and wanted to flaunt it. I hated how it clung to every bit of me, and I hated how he demanded I wear it when he wanted to entice other Wizards to give him their support.

I threw the dress into the air, letting my magic suspend it. I felt the anger, hatred, and rage fill me, before it whipped around me and my new Master. He was in the eye of the maelstrom with me, protecting him from the fire that started to crackle in the air. I called that flashing heat of lightening to my hands, before sending it to strike the dress. A loud clash of thunder filled the area as the flash of bright light slammed into the dress. I watched the fire sprout and dance in the fabric. It jumped from strand of sparkle to strand of sparkle, before I let the flames engulf the dress completely.

I felt him wrap his arms around me, placing his hands on my wrists, guiding the wild magic to stay within the dress’s area, preventing the inferno from escaping into the world. I watched the fire destroy the dress, before calling on water to surround us, keeping the fire contained. As the dress became ash, I dropped the ashes to the ground, then opened the ground up with a small fissure, dropping the ashes inside, before closing it up. I felt my magic withdrawing back into me, as he let my wrists go, stepping back from me.

I looked at the ground, feeling ashamed for not controlling my emotions better. “Well done!” He shouted, clapping his hands together. I turned and faced him, confused. “I knew you were powerful and held dominion of the elements, but I never thought I would see the beauty of it.” He then noticed my confusion, “What is wrong?”

I looked at the ground, “I could not control my emotions and stop myself from causing destruction.”

“You are a force of nature, why would you want to stop yourself from using your magic? Moreover, you are a Familiar, meaning magic will bleed from you if you do not use it often enough.” He stepped up to me, sighing. “I did not think a creature like you could be broken, but it seems like you could be.” I could feel the waves of anger coming from him.

I looked up, meeting his hard ice blue eyes, “What do you mean?”

“Your kind are not meant to be controlled, but it seems like Lord Bittan and the Council destroyed whatever semblance of wildness in you.” I watched as his fists balled up at his sides, “Those bastards.”

I was more confused than before, “What are you talking about, Master?”

He lashed out, “Stop calling me that!” I shrank back from him, before I watched his anger dissipate towards me. “I am sorry.” He turned away. “You did well. You can spend the rest of the day wandering the area.” He started to walk away from me.

I bit my lip, “Mast-uh…” I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “If you do not want to be called Master, what should I call you?”

“My name is Lugh, so call me that.” He tossed back over his shoulder, stomping off to the forest.

I looked to the farmland ahead of me, before taking another deep breath and sighing, “Not even a full day, and he is pissed off at me.” I watched the farmland for a while, just letting the space and warm fall air fill me. I watched the cows as they ate their way across the fields.

I turned to face the forest, the birds singing in the afternoon sun. I heard other noises coming from the forest, and my curiosity got the better of me. I stepped into the forest, the birds’ songs fell silent around me. I could hear something on the very edge of my hearing, so I followed that until I came to a clearing with a small babbling stream. I walked up to the water, letting the sound fill me with peace.

I felt the water pull at me, urging me to use my water magic to dance with it. I let a small treadle of water magic from my hands, letting the water spiral and leap before joining with the water of the brook. I heard footsteps behind me, pulling me from the calm of the water. I looked to see Lugh walking towards me, holding something in his hands. He set the long thin box in my lap, before sitting on the other side of the stream. I let the water magic drop as he sat down, not sure if it would anger him using it like I was.

“Open the box.” He commanded in a gentle voice.

I opened the small box and saw a small black and white opal pendant. It was two halves of an oval, the black opal taking half with the white opal taking the other half. “This is…”

“Proof of our Bond.” He finished my sentence. “I want you to wear it, as I do not plan on giving you up, especially to anyone who would try to harm you further than they already have. I am sorry for my anger earlier. It was not towards you, but when I saw the fear on your face, I realized that you did not know that. I would understand if you wanted to mutually break the Bond, but all I ask is to let me explain myself.”

“Mutually… break…?” I asked. I only knew of the Wizard being able to Sever the Bond, not that it could be broken by both sides.

“The Council did not tell you?” He growled under his breath, before he pushed the anger aside. “Familiars can only Unbonded by three ways. One, is if the Familiar or Wizard they are Bonded to dies, but if the Familiar dies, the Wizard will not. If the Wizard dies, the Familiar will pass with them. Two, is if the Bond is Severed by the Wizard. This can not only kill the Familiar, as the Council saw yesterday, it can cause the Familiar’s magic to become wild and destructive. The third way is for both the Wizard and the Familiar to agree to breaking the Bond. If that happens, the only consequence is that the Familiar is Unbonded. Since the Council is a bunch of idiots, they would try to hunt down the Unbonded Familiar if they knew about it. If you decided that we should go our separate ways, I would never tell the Council that you are Unbonded, but the second you step into their City, they would know.”

“Why would they not tell us that? I knew that we could die if our Wizard does, and that the Bond could be Severed, but they never said anything about a mutual agreement.”

“Why would they? They want to control all of the non-human magic users, and this is their way of doing it.”

I then remembered about the Exiled Wizard Book, “Why are you Exiled, and why did you kill other Wizards?” If I was going to stay, I needed to be able to trust him, which included knowing about his past.

“I was against the idea of the Council since the start. You have to realize, any of us that are not a part of the Council has no power to stop them. They wrote laws for ALL Wizards and ALL Familiars, without regards to the rest of us. They wanted power and the Council is how they got it. They do not care about Wizards like me, who hold no political or monetary standing.” He looked me straight in the eyes, letting me see the truth in them, “I am an Exile because I fought them. I led a revolution against them, hoping to stop them from destroying our original way of life. It failed and those of us who stood against them were branded as Exiles. We have no rights to anything with them, meaning that if they chose to, they could hunt us down like the dogs they think we are.”

“Why have they not done that?” I asked, trying to think of why the Council would not get rid of those who stood against them.

“Because we are too numerous for one. For two, the Council knows that if they attacked any of us, we would take them with us to Hell. They would be more foolish than anyone would have thought if they attacked any of us.”

I changed the subject, because I did not want to think of a war happening that would kill so many. “What did you mean about me being broken?”

He looked at the stream, then back at me, before standing up. “It would be better to show you instead of explaining it.” He hopped over the stream and grabbed my hand to help me stand up, as I stuffed the pendant into my pocket. I followed him where I normally would, but he kept slowing down until he was right next to me. I would then slow down to compensate, and we cycled through this a few times before he stopped, pulled me to his side and then kept his arm around my shoulders to keep me there. “We are partners, if you accept the necklace, so you walk with me, not behind me.” He let go of my shoulders, and I stayed right next to him.

We walked through the forest until we reached a large cave entrance. He stepped inside and held his arm out in front of him. Bright white light shot from his palms and lit up the cavern. I gazed at the beauty of the stone, and the lights gave me a perfect view of everything. He looked down at me, before leading me deeper into the cave.

We stopped at a large wall, his lights gathering around us, lighting the wall up. I saw the cave paintings and the words that glittered in old paint. I stepped closer to the wall, touching it lightly. I felt electricity shoot into me from the paint. I looked at Lugh, “What is this?”

“This is where your magic comes from.” He pointed to an image of tens of humanoid figures dancing around a fire, while others swam in streams, some flying overhead, and finally some that climbed cliff faces. The symbol for Light shined down on all of the figures. “You see, these were your people. They were the masters of the elements, and they used their magic to take care of the world around us. They came from and returned to the Aether when they died. They were known as the Aetherius.”

“Aetherius… Where are they now?” I asked, touching the paint again, letting the sparks travel through me.

Lugh looked down at me, “They were captured by various Wizards because of their magic. Unlike creatures like the succubus, Aetherius do not run out of magic or energy. As long as they are alive, they are able to use magic. It is also why your magic is tied to your emotions. As more Wizards stole them, your people started to die out. Your people fought against the Bondage, even when it killed them.”

I felt a punch to the soul. “Are there any left?” I asked quietly.

He shook his head, “I have looked for Aetherius everywhere, and you are the only one I found. I have heard there are people like yours on the other side of the world, but I do not know if it is a rumor or truth. When I spoke about you being broken, I thought you knew about the strength of your people. But, I see that the Council and Lord Bittan did what they could to kill your rebellious spirit. I guess they realized if they broke you young, then you would not fight against the Bond. Then when as you got older, you were the perfect Familiar, until you cracked, which was bound to happen. Then when I saw your Severing, I knew this was my chance to save you. If they had done it where your magic was nulled, then they would have let you die.”

**I looked at the cavern wall, then to Lugh, “I want to destroy them.” I felt the wall crack under my palms, before I ripped myself away from it. I looked up in horror at the large fissure that was growing through the rock.

“I know, Little One, but you cannot destroy the Council. At least, not yet.” I looked back to Lugh. “There is a reason why I wanted you above any other Familiar. You can help me, then I will see what I can do to help you with your vengeance.”

“What do you need?” My thunderous voice echoed in the caverns.

“There is something wrong in the world, balance is being skewed, and I need your help to fix that balance. Since you have magic of the elements, your magic complements my light and dark magic.” He smiled, “You see, Wizards are not fully human, which is why we have magic. Your people worked with mine to protect the natural world.  We were allies when your people were still free. Since you are last of your people, I ask for your help.”**

“May I have some time alone in here to think? It is just a lot of new information that I need to process.” I hoped he would leave me be for just a little bit to gather my thoughts.

“Of course. I will be right outside the cave entrance.” I watched as he left with his light magic, leaving me with my fire to alight the area.

I looked at the mural, praying to Kitarr for guidance and for direction. I touched the paint and let the sparks fill me, closing my eyes and then letting my mind wander.

I saw a little girl who looked like me with long red hair skipping along with other children. She wore a dark green dress, though she preferred pants because she liked to climb. The other kids were about the same age of seven and eight. They played with fire, letting the flames dance along with ankles like the adult fire dancers. They let water around their wrists, using them like ribbons. Every step let the ground shake a little, small rocks vibrating and lifting into the air. The children danced in a circle, letting their magic flow until it became a dazzling cacophony of magic.

Later, they watched as the adults did their dances, each step measured, and each element represented. They kept time with the drums that gave the heartbeat of the village. A single wooden flute joined the music, accenting the deep beats of the drums.

Around the fire and circle, there were outsiders that they knew as allies. Some of the allies joined the dance, they light and dark dancing in an alluring spiral of perfect harmony. The elements they danced with were a beautiful display. The little girl smiled at one of the allies from her spot, where she was letting her fire and water magic have its way. The light and darkness from the ally reached and intertwined with her magic. She smiled to the boy who was only a few years older than her. They watched as their magic mingle and  soared with the other magic of her people and their allies.

The dances continued, even after the children were told to leave, since children did not watch the final dance. She ran off with her friends, but she kept thinking about the ally boy. He joined them to play with their magic around the small fire the children created. He grabbed her hand and asked if she would like to dance again. She smiled and giggled but accepted. They bounced around, as much as they knew how to dance, it was nothing like the elegant dances the adults did, but those dances did not look like fun.

The images faded into someone screaming for the little girl to run.

She ran as fast as she could, trying to outrun the magic ropes that gathered up the people in her village. She ran into someone she did not recognize, but he held spelled ropes like the other intruders. He tried to grab for her, and she tried to light him on fire, but the fire did not take. He laughed at her feeble attempts to harm him, but he did not expect the ground to open up under his feet, swallowing him up, then closing without a trace.

She used her air magic to fly into the trees, staying silent as she watched her people fight to get away from the intruders. She tried to help, but the screams of her family ripped her magic away from her. She only used her magic for fun, now these new confusing emotions were disrupting her from accessing her innate abilities. She could only watch as they were taken away and the village burned to ashes and dust.

She climbed out of the tree after the rains came a few days later, dowsing the fires. She made her way to the waterfall and river, where she thought she would find other survivors, but no one was there. She caught and ate fish while waiting for weeks. She slept behind the waterfall, using its soothing roar to help her sleep and to hide her screams when the nightmares became too much.

She practiced using her magic, so when the other came, she would be ready for them. She ran before, but if the intruders came back, she promised herself that she would fight. During the daytime, she honed her magic, using it even when she was no having fun or being happy. She started to associate fire with anger and rage, which ended up becoming her main element.

Months past and no one came. She left the safety of her waterfall, hoping to find someone who could help her. She wandered the riverbends, until she came upon a large glittering City. She walked to the City gates and inside. The rough stone did not hurt her feet as much as the dirt floor of the forest had. She wandered until she found herself at the wooden spots where the ships came in from the large ocean.

“There!” She heard a commotion behind her, until someone grabbed her on the shoulders, picking her up. The face of the woman got closer to hers, “It is an Unbonded Familiar. Take her to the Mansion.”

She fought against them, letting her emotions free to let the flames of fear hit the person holding her. As soon as she was dropped, she took off, using her earth magic to let the stone give her bare feet grip.

“It is an Aetherius!” The old woman shouted and pointed at her.

The girl ran as fast as she could, using her magic to try to get away. She did not see the Lord standing there as she slammed into him. He grabbed her head, as she lashed out with fire. Then the world fell apart around her until she was nothing. She shattered as he grabbed her memory and stole it.

She woke up later in a room filled with nine other beds. The older woman walked up to her, “What is your name?” she demanded.

The little girl tried to think, but her mind was completely blank and black. Did she even have a name, or was this a trick? She struggled with trying to remember, lashing out at everything as her confusion grew. The old woman slapped her, “What do you think you are doing, Familiar?”

“Fam…il…iar…?” She sounded out loud, trying to figure out what that word meant.

“Lovely, a blank one.” She smiled finally, patting the girl on her head, “Do not worry, darling. You will learn all about that soon enough.”

I pulled my hand away from the wall. I knew what happened next. Years of beatings, torture, and learning how wizards treated their Familiars. It was not until she met Lord Bittan that her training was complete, and she was obedient to the Council and her Master.

I pulled the pendant from my pocket and looked at the two opals. I refused to believe that all of my people were genuinely gone, and maybe if I helped Lugh, I would find my family again. If I truly was the last Aetherius, then I would help them, then seek my revenge on those who destroyed them.

I put the necklace, letting the pendant land to the center of my chest. I felt the connection between Lugh and I complete itself. I felt his relief that I had chosen to stay as his Familiar, just as I felt his presence on the edge of my own, and the Bond letting him utilize my magic. I kissed the cavern wall, promising that I would avenge them all. Then I left the cavern, using my earth magic to seal the entrance as soon as I stepped out of it.

 

List of Stories

Starlight Hunters

Destiny of the Sky

Gatekeeper

Guardian

Morokian Star

Queen’s Guide

Reaper XIII

Revenge

Ruins

Sadie’s Dance to Remember

Toxic

Twilight Dawn

NaNoWriMo

Nuclear Winter

Ruins Thoughts

I wrote this based on a dream of the daises and the destroyed bones without the skin being hurt.

 

This was written while I was dating my last ex, who is a convicted sex offender. I believed that he didn’t do anything, but “The System” screwed him over. But now? Now, I’m not sure what to think, but I’m no longer with him because of his conviction. This was written with the intent of what I wanted to do while I dated him, to ‘save’ him from his conviction.

Ruins Epilogue

I ran into the library barefooted and ran passed the librarian. “If anyone asks, I ain’t here!”

The librarian smiled, “You promised!”

I slid to a halt and ran back to her. “I know, thanks for reminding me.” I pulled out a disc that would fit into the library’s holographic display case. “Thank you for everything.”

“It was lovely. Anyways, you have an office in the same building as everyone else, why do you hide in this one?”

“This is where I got my start… and… I found out I have a window that overlooks the display. The window was hiding behind a painting and when I moved the painting to clean it, I found the window.”

The librarian hid her grin behind her coffee cup. “I saw you on the television, you were beautiful and you spoke your knowledge well.”

“Apparently, I did. I couldn’t go thirty steps without some guy asking to dinner or someone ask to get free tickets into the Ruins. The Guardians had a wonderful idea to sell tickets to the Ruins, to donate into the restoration of some of them to what they looked like before my people left them.”

She ushered me on, “I have work to do and you look like you need peace and quiet.”

“I’ll go put this into the display case, so you can continue to drink your coffee and shush people.” I grinned as she waved me away.

I passed by many of the books I had been using for research and saw young scholars pouring over the same books. I was in my other home, second to the Ruins and before the house where my bed was. I strolled through the shelves, slowly making my way to the display case. I browsed books of fiction and found something that caught my eye. I pulled it off the shelf and read the summary, becoming enthralled. I held onto it as I reached the case.

I ran my hand along the glass remembering when I built it. It was a seven foot tall round case with a holographic model of the Ruins. When someone wanted to see a specific part, they would just need to speak the sector name and that sector would blow up to the person. They could chose any building and the case would explain what the building was for and it would even have a little movie of what the people would have done in it. Below the glass was a shelf full of books to purchase or borrow that only the librarian or I could open.

I put the disc in and watched it go through the opening sequences. The case started to run with ease and I turned to walk to my office, when I ran into someone. “I’m so sorry!” He was handsome and just looking at him made me blush. He looked like someone I used to know, but I could not quite find the memory.

He adjusted his shoulder bag and looked down at me, “You’ve grown since Iclia Bar.”

“Iclia Bar? Sorry, you must have the wrong girl. I’ve never been into a bar.”

He pulled out a pair of sunglasses and handed them to me. “You gave these to me six months ago and it took me until today to find you.” He set his bag on the ground as he pulled out one of my bots. “And this… missed you from what I could gather from the glasses.”

He handed it to me and I squealed, “Bot 13! I thought I lost you somewhere!” The bot purred in my arms as I held it tight. I looked to the stranger, “How did you find him?”

He smiled to me, “He found me, actually. And I renamed him Dawg.” His face sobered, “You really don’t remember?”

I shook my head, sadly, “Apparently not… But I’m glad you found him.” I smiled up at him. “My name is Sori.”

He leaned forward and kissed me. I took a step back and found myself against the case, “My name is Chris.”

“Chris… Tis a pleasure to meet you. If you come with me to my office, we can sit down and discuss it?” I asked hopeful that maybe it could go farther.

He looked thoughtful, “I have a better idea. Why don’t we drop off Dawg and the rest of your stuff and we can go on a date?” He put his arm out for me.

I blushed a deep red and linked my arm in his. “That sounds wonderful.”

Ruins Ch 05

Saslla caught my fall and we gently floated to the wooden dais. He set me on top of it, the pain disappearing from my body. “Did it work?” I asked them, eager to know if I did everything I could.

Illuminarium looked to his son and nodded once. Saslla smiled, “Yes. You stopped them from being jailed and you stopped the sacrificing.” Relief swept over me, but it quickly turned to pain. Saslla stepped onto the dais. “Sori! Fight it! It is the only way your soul can survive. Think of something that could bind you to your world!”

I fought against the pain using knowledge to disrupt it. I thought of Cassandra, Michael, Mahia and Ryan. I thought of James, Alex and Marcus. I thought of my parents, the librarian and the Guardians. Most of all, I thought of Chris and the joy I felt when he was near.

Saslla and Illuminarium faded from sight as I thought of the Ruins. It was my place to protect, to exist and most of all, it was my one true home. I remember when I first joined the team; there was a group picture in front of the Ruins. In my mind, I added everyone else I was fighting to keep a hold of. I held onto that image as I spiraled down into nothingness.

*~*~*

I woke up in my bed, at the house I rarely visited, except to sleep. I yawned and stretched my arms above my head. I looked at the calendar on my wall, “Six months since the professor was imprisoned for conspiracy to murder. Five months since I showed the other scientists the other side of the Ruins and showed them the Guardians. Two since the library started to fund the project and the team decided I should take the professor’s place.”

I smiled at the memories, as I hopped out of bed. “Today is a monumental day!” I laughed at myself as the computers whirled to life. I completed the model last night of the whole Ruins. It became easier when the Guardians started to assist us with the mapping. I pulled a disc out of my nightstand, the full history, use and model of the Ruins were on this and several other discs scattered through my house.

I saw a piece of paper under the disc and smiled softly to myself. I picked it up and read it as I did every day, Do not let the Guardians down in your promise and care for the Ruins your parents, your people and you have protected for thousands of years.

I set the note back into the nightstand, smiling to myself. One night, six months ago, I had a dream. I stood before the tribunal of Gods and they granted me access to time for one night. I went back and spoke to the Guardians about their wishes, learning that my mother was their mistress. I could not remember the rest of the dream, it being a blur. When I woke up, I found this note in my hands. “Crazy dreams…”

I grabbed my normal glasses, the sunglasses having been retired when I showed the other scientists my set of Ruins. I climbed out of bed and dressed in a lime green dress shirt, black pants, combat boots and my ankle length white coat. I looked at my reflection in the full-length mirror. I looked from my head to my black combat boots and said aloud, “I’m a damn sexy scientist. Now to show the world my sweet set of knowledge.” I smiled to my reflection, grabbed my clipboard, full of discs and walked out of the house.

I walked a little ways to the Ruins, where cameras had been set up the night before. I passed by the security gate and found the Guardians waiting for me. “Today is the day, loves.”

I felt their joy brush against me, as the leader lightly touched my arm. You swore that the wall would be torn down…

“We are doing it today.” I pointed to the construction equipment standing ready to tear down the wall and to start revealing the Ruins to the natural sunlight. “The model is done and I will keep my promise to show the world what your clan has been protecting for centuries.” I smiled to him and lightly touched one of his horns. “There is another set of equipment being used topside to help give you all the sunlight you crave…”

He bowed his head, Thank you, mistress. You are too kind, milady.

I pulled my hand back as he and his clan faded to invisible. I looked to my colleagues and smiled to them brightly, “Ready for this?” Cassandra gave me a warm smile as she placed her hand on Michael’s shoulder, showing off an engagement ring. My mouth dropped when I saw it.

“Are ye catchin’ flies, ‘ori?” Ryan came up behind me.

I whipped around, seeing Mahia and Ryan standing there grinning at me, “Did you know they got engaged?”

Mahia nodded, “Found out this morning.” He looked at my appearance, “You are going to wear that?”

I looked down at my clothes, “Yes, why not?”

Ryan and Mahia rolled their eyes as Cassandra and Michael joined us. “Because you would look beautiful if you dolled up a little. It is your first television interview and you should look your best.” Michael smiled, as Ryan and Mahia grabbed my arms and pulled me towards a bathroom. Cassandra and Michael followed close behind, Cassandra grabbing something from a shelf.

After fighting them for five minutes, I realized it was a fruitless venture and stopped. The men left and Cassandra quickly had me dressed in a lime green tube dress that hugged my body well. She did my make-up with only a tiny bit of artificial face. She then looked at my hair, curling it slightly, to give a wavy look and smiled, “You look better now. Time for the cameras.”

I watched Cassandra step out of the bathroom and I thought about maybe going back to change, when I remembered Ryan stealing my shirt, pants, and even my boots. I walked out of the bathroom barefoot, since I had no other shoes. I saw Mahia’s mouth drop when he saw me, but he easily schooled it well enough. Cassandra handed me a pair of black heels and helped me get into them.

“No going back now…” I walked towards the cameras to unveil the Ruins to the world.

Ruins Ch 04

I landed in the time when I remembered the professor taking McCall into custody. I had to avoid everyone, or else create a time paradox that I could not fix. I slipped through the wall and into my area of the Ruins. I called out to the Guardians, “Guardians of the Aspharrium Ruins!” I felt the cobwebs brush up against me, as I saw the Guardians appear. They surrounded me, their hunger pushing against me. “I have the power to give you a final rest, but to do it requires me to seal the Ruins forever. Is this what you want?”

I felt their thoughts brush up against me, as they started to back away slightly. A single Guardian stepped forward as a single voice came to me. I recognized it as the Guardian that saved me, his voice deep and rough, We wish to continue our existence. You may keep the Ruins open, but open all of it to the world. We will protect the Ruins and not harm the visitors, but only if you give us what we want.

“What do you want?” I asked the leader of the Guardians.

Become our mistress as your mother before you and her mother before her. Visit us everyday and open our eyes to the world outside of the Ruins. No harm shall come to you or those you allow in, but we will protect those we see frequently. Before you die, we ask that you break down the wall and let the natural sunlight in.

I smiled and put my hand out to him, “May I see your claws?” He lifted his long arm and set it in my hand. I lifted his claw up and slashed it across my hand. “I make this blood oath to you. I will do as you ask.”

The leader leaned forward towards my hand and I felt a rough tongue glide across the wound, sealing it. Your blood oath is accepted. What do you wish first, mistress?

I smiled, “There is a man named McCall roaming about the known Ruins. He is to be killed at once, his blood splattered as a warning on the sacrificial dais.”

He nodded and I watched the Guardians vanish, one by one to complete their duty. I went back into the known Ruins and could not help but smile when I heard a man scream.

I looked to my watch. Four hours left… I had to be fast to get to the next step of my plan. I ran through the known Ruins, knowing they were empty at this time of night, considering I was the last one who was supposed to be here. I walked through the security section of the Necropolis, making sure the cameras saw me leave, as I knew the other me was leaving through my area of the Ruins. I grabbed one of my bots, Bot 13, as it was on my way out.

I watched the shaken professor get into his car and speed off. I grabbed a taxi and followed him to his house. I found an open window on the first floor of the giant house. I set the bot down, “Tap his phone, record everything and do not be seen. Await my next set of orders.” The bot purred in answer and I smiled to it as it wheeled through the house to a dark area, where it began its work. I saw a drawer near the window and grinned when I found three hundred dollars in it.

I smiled as my sunglasses lit up with information, as I stuffed the money into my pocket. I went back to the cab and gave him my next destination. I looked at the criminal records and the accuseds’ testimonies. “Iclia Bar.” The taxi driver nodded as I looked at my watch, “Two hours left…” I looked up to the taxi driver, “Please hurry.” I handed him one of the hundreds and I noticed an increase in speed.

I sat back, thinking to what needed to happen next. I should have killed the professor too… I thought to myself, but knew I would not have had the guts to do it. The man gave me what none would, someone who listened and did help when my parents vanished. He helped the librarian get me set up and even gave me a job, thought he would regret it later.

The taxi stopped at the bar. “Thank you.” I looked at the fare and saw I had only used about twenty-five of the hundred. “Keep the change and have a nice night.” The cabbie bid me a good night. I yawned and thought about when the last time I was slept was. Oh well, when this is over, I will either be killed, have my soul ripped apart or sleeping. I wished and hoped that I would survive long enough to be able to get some sleep.

I walked into the Iclia Bar and sat down at a booth. A waitress walked up to me and explained that as long as I did not order anything alcoholic, they would allow me to stay. I pulled a twenty out of my pocket, “Just water please and some quiet.” The waitress nodded and went to get my drink.

I looked around the Bar and saw Chris sitting at the counter. He looked so damn sexy and I just wanted to run up and kiss him. Of course, I did not though. He did not know me at this time and he would not do as I asked if I did something like that. I saw James walk in, Alex sit at one of the tables and Marcus sitting in a booth like mine. “He made the call…” I spoke softly, “Bot 13, get all of the recently dialed numbers from the last week, then shut down the power in that house. Then find a way out without being seen, if I remember correctly, he has a dog. Meet the male with the second pair of sunglasses at the crime scene in an hour.”

I watched the bot give a visual affirmative as it went to finish its work. I looked to the men and they had all gathered at a table. I took a deep breath in and stood up, leaving the waitress the twenty. I walked over to them and tapped Chris on the shoulder, “May I talk to you guys for a second outside?”

He looked to his comrades, who all shrugged, “Eh, we were about to leave anyways.”

I held the folders tight in my hands, not wanting anything to fall out. James noticed them when we were outside. “Accountant?”

I shook my head, “Nope, scientist. My name is Sori and I have something very important to talk to you about. This is going to sound crazy.”

Alex spoke, “About as crazy as a woman wearing sunglasses in the dark.”

I pulled them off and was glad the neon Bar sign stopped the moonlight from hitting my skin. I handed them each a folder, “There is trouble up ahead for you all if you don’t listen to what I have to say.”

Chris shouted, “Is this some kind of joke?!” He dropped the folder on the ground.

I shook my head again, “It’s not. I know about the phone calls you each received from an anonymous man. I know who it is and I know why he did it. He wants to frame you for the crimes that are written before you. I know how to prevent this, but I need your cooperation for it.”

Chris looked directly into my eyes, searing my soul, “What are you talking about?”

“Up ahead there will be a crime that take place. A woman inside the house will be raped and killed and all of you framed for her murder and other crimes. James, I think that some of them will bash their friend’s heads into the walls to make your crime possible. I can’t tell you not to go in, but I want you to be prepared for it.”

“Why don’t you call the police on them?” Marcus asked.

“This is going to sound bad, but it’s because you were already the chosen targets. The one who orchestrated this is a scientist that planted your prints everywhere already. The police will get you either way, unless you do exactly what I ask.” I was desperate for them to listen and understand.

Chris looked to his new friends, “What do you need to do?”

James scoffed, “I can’t believe you’re doing it.”

“If she is right, then we will be safe. If she’s wrong, then it can’t be something that bad to try. Something is telling me to believe her, so I’m going to.” Chris looked directly into my eyes.

I pulled the second pair of sunglasses out of my pocket. “These sunglasses have a built in camera that will record everything you see and hear. There will also be a little roaming bot, which will meet you there, that has the evidence against the main guy. With these, you should be able to stay out of jail and put the real bad guys in it.” I held out the sunglasses to Chris.

He took them and put them on, as the computer kicked up. “What the?”

“I made these myself, they are linked to my home computer as well as have a chip inside with a terabyte of memory to capture all the evidence you need. Even if the glasses are destroyed, the uplink will make sure I get the video.”

He nodded, “Thank you…” He turned away from me and started walking away. The others followed him, already selected him their leader.

“Good luck…” I mumbled as I looked at my watch. “Five minutes.” I put my sunglasses back on, “All video for the secondary pair is to be routed to the police station in when they see the crime scene.”

The computer purred as it whirled at my command, before I took them off, setting them down on the sidewalk. I sat down on the sidewalk when I felt myself being ripped apart. I wrapped my arms around my body, but the pain increased immensely as I fell into the darkness.

Ruins Ch 03

I turned to face the professor and McCall floating in the darkness with me. I felt warmth dripping down my throat and knew I was going to bleed to death before I ever had the chance to stop them. I felt something touch my throat and when I looked down, it was a small wooden idol of the Medicine God, Bastill. It put its finger to its lips as it lightly touched the cut again and I felt the wound close. It smiled to me and vanished as the professor and McCall woke up.

“Where are we, McCall?” The professor demanded.

“I do not know…” McCall turned and saw me, “How did you-?”

I smiled, “A Guardian helped.” I looked around the darkness, “I know where we are… This is Judgment…”

As I named the place, a stone floor with three daises and a tribunal set of seats rose in front of us. The seat to the right the lowest at about two stories tall, followed by the left for a middle height and the center being the highest at three stories. I looked at the three daises and starting from the left, I noticed one was made of gold, another diamond and another of wood. The professor rushed to the gold, as McCall rushed to the diamond. They both looked at me with loathing in their eyes, as I took my place at the wooden dais.

I looked to the tribunal, as three beings appeared. Sitting on the left was the Goddess of Life and Queen of the Gods, Sadin, on the left was the God of Death and the Prince of the Gods, Saslla. I looked to the center at the God of All Things, the Gods’ King, Illuminarium. I bowed deeply to the tribunal of Gods, kneeling to the ground in their presence, before pressing my forehead to the dais.

Saslla spoke, his voice loud and booming, “You have been brought here to be judged for your deaths.”

“Deaths?” The professor asked loudly.

McCall spoke as well, “We were not supposed to die! We were supposed to be granted the power of control!”

I stayed silently kneeling to the Gods, as their gaze passed over me. Saslla continued when it became evident that I was not going to speak, “You are to be judged separately and by a simple test.” He looked to the professor, “You will be first.”

The tribunal vanished, as did the professor. I sat up on my knees and thought quickly of all of the knowledge I had gained in my life. There were things I wished I still could have done and dying tended to screw that up. I touched my throat and felt the scarred flesh. Bastill would not have healed me, just to die again. We were not here to be tested for death; this was a test of worth…

I looked to McCall as he spoke, “I knew we did not die. The stupid fool thought that he would control the world with his mind. I seek to control it with my might and with the power of time by my side, I will not be found wanting.” He looked to me and sneered, “You could never hope to stop me now. Once I gain the power of time, I’ll go back and kill you instead of just slashing your wrists.”

The professor reappeared, jolted by his experience. A single form stepped forward to him, and I knew who it was. The form spoke, his voice raspy, “I want you to take a step forward.” The judgment chamber fell away, leaving only the three daises and the form floating in the darkness.

The professor sought to fool the blind form, “I did.”

The form nodded, “How did it feel?”

“Like a normal step.”

The form smiled viciously as I saw a ring of light get bigger around the professor. The ring reached the outer edge of the golden dais when I heard the professor scream. He slumped to the ground, as the screams echoed in the darkness. The form picked up the professor, “You should have taken the step. Lies are not tolerated and because you lied, your bones, organs, muscles, everything within your skin shattered into an oil-like consistency.” The form turned to us, “Heed my words and let his mistake be your triumph.”

The form, the professor’s body and the golden dais vanished. McCall looked to me, “Who was that?”

I gulped down my stomach, “That was Temondin… He is the Devourer of Souls… He is blind to the world, except for what He sees in your heart…” I wrapped my arms around my body and shivered.

We waited in silence, sobered by the professor’s death as it weighed on our minds. I unwrapped my arms, not wanting to look weak to the Gods. The tribunal seats reappeared and the Gods took their places. I once again pressed my forehead to the ground before them. They looked to the place the golden dais used to be.

Saslla spoke, “He failed the test and Temondin found him wanting.” McCall gulped as Saslla pointed to him, “You are next…”

The tribunal vanished, along with the diamond dais. I sat up, but stayed on my knees. “Please let me survive this… I just wanted to help the others…” I felt a tear fall and hit the wooden dais.

It felt like ages that I was alone in the judgment chamber, before I realized that I was not alone. I looked to the side to see Temondin staring at me through his blind eyes. He was sitting not three feet away from me, yet I had no idea when he appeared there. He spoke softly, his voice more fatherly than what I could have expect of the Devourer of Souls, “I remember your parents…”

I felt my heart jump to my throat. “You… were there?”

He nodded solemnly, “Two scared people who both stood where you are now. They told the tribunal they were sent there by another spilling their daughter’s blood for a sacrifice. They wanted nothing but to go home and take care of their darling child.” He stood up and walked over to me, staying just off the dais. “The tribunal wanted to send them back, but something prevented that. The Gods learned later that the parents were meant to be sent to be judged, as commanded the Women of Fate.”

I felt my tears fall but I did not have the energy to wipe them away. “Where are they now?”

He smiled to me, “They were sent to Paradise. They had no want to control or rule, so the Gods sent them to the Paradise for their afterlife.” He reached his hand forward and cupped my cheek in his palm. “What are your wishes?”

I felt a cold comfort in his hand. “I want to prevent a group of four men from being framed, to prevent all of this. If could I stop that one incident, then they would be free to feel the sun on their faces. Then I could stop the professor and McCall from using the pit to be sent here. I don’t want to control the key to time, I just want to borrow it for this one mission… Then I want to return it to the Ruins, where it belongs and seal the Ruins I found so the Guardians can finally rest.”

“You believe you that saving James, Alex, Marcus and Chris from the human prison will prevent all of this?” He asked softly.

“With all of my heart, I believe it.” I closed my eyes and felt the belief fill me my heart and soul.

He pulled his hand away, as I opened my eyes. He and I turned back to the tribunal seats; I looked up to the three Gods and blushed as I figured out that they must have heard the entire thing.

They turned to one another and when I tried to bow, something prevented it. Sadin and Illuminarium looked to each other, knowing. Sadin spoke, her voice sweet honeyed wine, “Child, we wish to see the face of the girl who wants to do so much.”

I looked up at the tribunal and felt small, “I apologize, my Lady. I was just doing what my mother and father had always taught when greeting anyone above my class.”

Saslla smiled as he spoke, his voice no long booming, but a gently velvet touch, “You did not speak when the others did. Did you parents teach you that as well?”

I nodded, “Yes, my Lord.” I watched the tribunal seats vanish; the Gods became my height, as they walked towards the wooden dais. The first instinct was to run, but I fought against it with everything I was. Here were four beings that could destroy me without a second thought and there was nothing I could do about it.

Saslla stepped onto the wooden dais in front of me, but I knew better than to look into his eyes. He lifted my chin to meet his gaze and spoke softly, “The power of time is nothing you can mess with. You could completely alter history and end up destroying those you are trying to save. There is also the chance that by giving you this power, even temporarily, could rip your soul apart. Could you live with the consequences of your actions or with the idea of never seeing Paradise?”

I gulped hard and thought about his words. Even if I saved the accused, how would that stop everything else? I had my answer, I had to get rid of the professor and McCall, but when? Going too far back would really disrupt time, but not going far enough would make it all for naught.

My brain clicked in gear when I put all of the facts together and gasped. The day I found McCall in the Ruins was the same day the others were arrested. The professor had taken McCall into custody until the police arrived. Until then, I had no reason to suspect anything of the professor to do anything wrong, but now I did. I knew what needed to be done.

“Yes.” I was decisive in my answer. “But there is something I need first, I need their criminal records for this to work.”

I watched the wheels turn in Sasalla’s mind and I realized he reminded me of Chris… Who after this was over, I would never see again… If it worked, he would have no reason to work for the team and we would never meet… I mumbled to myself, “If such a price is to pay…”

Saslla leaned forward and kissed me gently. He pulled back, “You have the power to do as you need to for the next six human hours. When the time is up, no matter what you are doing, you will be sent back here to see what you changed. Understand?”

I felt the heat rise to my face when I realized what the Gods’ Prince just did. I did not trust my voice, so I nodded. He smiled at my reaction and everything around me vanished. I chose my time and date when I wanted to be to fulfill my plan. I felt four folders appear in my hands, giving me the strength to do what I needed to.

Ruins Ch 02

It was after dark when we reached the edge of the forest. Christopher helped me get the helmet off my head, “So this is it?”

I nodded, as I dropped my backpack next to the bike, “Yup, follow me!” I led him to a small shack a few hundred feet away from the road. I opened the door and slammed it shut behind me. I heard static on the communicator, knowing the shack was doing its job, “Listen!”

Christopher yanked the communicator out of his ear, “What the hell is with this place?!”

I grabbed his face with my hands, “Listen, I need you to strip down to sky clad before we can leave.”

“What’s the meaning of this?” He growled at me.

“I built this shack when I knew that he tagged me with a locator. The walls are made to prevent signals from entering and leaving. I know he put a locator on every piece of clothing you are wearing, along with a microphone. That’s why nothing electronic will work here.”

He seemed to understand, “That’s why he was so happy to give us these clothes…”

I pulled off my jacket and set it on the chair. My coat only had the locator and if it was seen that we both entered, we could fool him. I turned around when I heard him fumble with his clothes in the dark. I found a dresser full of normal clothes and pulled out everything a male could wear. I set them on top of the dresser. “Christopher, I’m going to be right outside. I left you clothes on the dresser that are safe. Keep your old clothes in this shack. Please understand, anything he gave you, you need to leave here.”

“I understand.” He mumbled irritably.

I nodded, though he could not see it. I opened the door and walked out of the small shack. I leaned against the wall, allowing myself to think, “Ok, I get into the Ruins, find the others, get them out and save the accused men of their fate of prison… How much will the professor have them do to get their freedom…?” I switched my glasses for the sunglasses and smiled as the list I said appeared on the screen.

I heard the door open and Christopher step out. His clothes looked the same, but were off a little from before. I knew he had done what I asked. He looked at me, as if he noticed me for the first time. “In the moonlight…” He shook his head.

“I know I look like the snot-nosed brat you saw this morning. Can we get going?” I knew he was talking about my glowing light skin, but I always denied it to anyone.

“Going? I thought it was here.”

I looked at the ground, “It’s not. I only said it for the microphone and so we could drop the locators. I’m sorry.”

“You swore not to lie!” He shouted at me.

I winced but stood my ground, “You just said when we got down there that I couldn’t lie. When we get down there, you will understand why I can’t have him find it. I swear it, you won’t be led on another goose chase.”

“This had better be good.” He growled, but he would not allow this to stop him helping me. He got on the bike and waited for me to get on.

I grabbed my backpack, put it on and then looked to the helmet. I set it on the ground; “I’m ready,” My voice was quiet, even to my ears.

“No helmet?” One of his eyebrows rose.

“No need. We are heading to just outside the city…” I settled down into the seat and he kicked it on. “Christophe-”

“Call me Chris.” He spoke automatically as he started to the drive back to the city.

“Chris… What did the professor offer in exchange for your freedom?”

Silence met me for most of the journey until we saw the lights of the city up ahead. We reached the edge of the city’s view park and I tapped him on the shoulder, pointing to the west.

He turned the bike towards the west. “How did you guess?” He did not sound too surprised at my question.

“You ask too many of the right questions and too few of the wrong ones. They were fed to you by him. And we have go the rest by foot.” I told him. I looked at my watch as it beeped, December twenty-first two thousand twelve… Midnight…

“In exchange, he wanted the location of the entrance and for me to hush you about your theories.”

“They aren’t theories…” I mumbled as he slowed to a stop. “It is the history passed down to me from my parents whenever we visited the Ruins.”

“Where am I going?”

I pulled the sunglasses off my face and handed them to him. “Follow the light.” I grabbed my normal glasses from my pocket and put them on, as he took the sunglasses from me.

“What the?!” I turned and saw the look of shock on his face.

“It’s getting used to you. Tell it to calm down and show you the light.” I smiled; I was glad to know I still had an upper hand in technology.

“I can’t believe I have to tell a pair of computerized sunglasses to chill…” I watched as his eyes adjusted to them, “Please calm down… I just need the light.”

I turned back to the path, knowing the journey by heart. We left the bike there as we walked across the manicured park landscape towards a small forest of trees. We weaved our way through the pines until I found an old gnarled poplar. I turned towards the south, went forward six paces, and stopped. “Here.”

“The light continues passed that.” He told me, reading what the computer was telling him.

“That one caved in years ago. There were a group of entrances here, but this one is the only one left.” I sat down on the ground and crawled through a small cave at the trees’ roots. “Follow me.” I crawled further into the cave, I heard him follow me. I reached an area that opened up to a space large enough to stand and walk in.

I helped Chris out the last few feet of the opening and he stood up with me. “This is…” His voice echoed through the cavern.

I put my finger to my lips and walked a few feet to the far wall. Carvings in the wall told me what I was taught by my mother and father. I sang small song softly, my voice echoing and creating a resonance with the door. The door lit up and the wall slid back into its porthole. I grabbed Chris’s hand, led him through the door, and sang the same song, but backwards. The door closed behind us, shutting us into the darkness. “Tell the computer to activate flashlight.” I let go of his hand, before I got too used to holding it and not wanting to let go.

The sunglasses heard my command and sang to life, the bright light illuminating the narrow walkway. “Thank you computer.”

I heard Chris scoff, “Did it just purr?”

I shook my head, “Nope.” I lied to him as we walked forward. After about a mile of walking down a gentle slope, the tunnel began to curve to the side. I saw light up ahead and turned to Chris, “We won’t be needing the light anymore. And do you have your sunglasses?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I want mine back.” I smiled as I took off my normal glasses into my pocket and put on the sunglasses. The sunglasses’ screen lit up with a welcome message for me. “Are they on?”

“No, it’s dark as shit in here, why would I want to make it worse.”

“Suit yourself, but remember, I’m warning you that you might wanna put them on.”

I heard him grumble, “Ready.”

We walked forward to the curve in the tunnel, when I felt something wrong. “Something is not right…” I ran forward to the other side of the curve, but nothing looked out of place.

He caught up to me easily, but I could hear him trying to catch his breath. When he looked up, he gasped at the sight of an artificial sun rising in the east, the dawn in the Ruins. “This is beautiful.” We were both standing on a hill that overlooked the Ruins

I turned to Chris, “Something isn’t right here, we need to get to where the other set of Ruins are.” I glided down the slope of the hill above the Ruins to reach the edge of the city.

Chris followed me as I ran into the city, keeping up with my pace. “Stop!” He yelled at me, and I stopped for him. “They checked the other set of Ruins for the others. They didn’t find them.”

“Then they didn’t look hard enough!” I faced him, “I know McCall is behind this and he has no idea about the dangers of the night in the Ruins! If we don’t get over there before the dawn in the surface, they will be dead!”

“What dangers?” He asked calmly.

I shook my head, “To speak of Them is to call Them. The others know that it’s dangerous to be down here at night, but they only think it is because of they wouldn’t be able to see. We tried to set up lights on the other side, where the artificial sun’s light doesn’t reach, but They tore them down when we weren’t looking. They allow me because of my mother, but They do not tolerate outsiders.” I looked at the input of one of my security robots that roamed the other set of Ruins for me. “I found the others! We have to hurry!”

He nodded and we both ran across the Ruins towards the wall where the sun was still rising. Despite how huge the Ruins were, it only took us thirty minutes of a hard run to reach the wall. Chris and I were breathing heavily when we reached it.

I felt a brush of cobwebs on my arm and I bolted up. “We need to keep moving.” I told him, though my lungs were on fire. We walked away from the cobwebby feeling towards the rising sun. I felt for the hole in the wall that would activate the door. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising and knew the cobwebs were following us. I found the hole and pushed my hand into it, causing a section of wall to swing towards the other set of Ruins.

“Go!” I pushed him through, as the cobwebs caught up to me. I tore myself away from the webby feeling and jumped through. The door slammed shut and we were back into the known Ruins. I rubbed my head and realized that I had landed on Chris. I scrambled off him and apologized quickly. Thankfully, the darkness helped hide the heat that rose to my face.

“You said you knew where they were?” I helped him off the ground and turned away from him.

“Yes, follow me. Activate flashlight.” The sunglasses responded and the bright light led our way through the known Ruins. I mumbled to the computer in the sunglasses, “All bots assemble to sector 7-Q, building 12.” I heard a bot near us light up and start to move. “If we get separated, follow that bot to the others. They have been given the command to go to where the others are.”

“We better not get separated…” He mumbled.

I looked at the map on my screen and spoke, “We are in currently in sector 7-R near building 45. It’s about a hundred yards to where McCall has them.” The screen flashed red as the computer route me to Bot 13, the first bot who was on the scene. I caught a glimpse of the professor standing above the others, with McCall and twenty other men. I pulled my backpack off and rummaged through it. I grabbed another pair of sunglasses and handed them to him, “Put these on. You need to see what we are dealing with.”

He put them on and I waited until the glasses became used to him. We stood there, both watching Bot 13’s view to watch what was going on. Chris spoke, “They have everyone else… But why?”

“I don’t know. Do you recognize the other men?” I asked, hoping he would say no.

“Of course I recognize them…” He growled lowly, “Those were the scumbags who framed us.”

“Why is the professor working with them?”

“He knew…” Chris realized. “He set it up, the whole thing… He set up for us to meet at the bar, because I remember myself and the others getting a phone call to meet someone at that bar that night. The guy never showed, but we all met instead. He set up the crimes and how we were to get caught.”

“But why you all and why his own team?”

“That I don’t know…”

I watched as the professor pointed to the bot and said something I could not hear. “Bot 13, get out of there!” The bot tried to respond, but its wheels were caught in something. McCall picked it up and smiled maliciously into the camera. He pointed the camera into the pit that held the others. I recognized that pit instantly from the research I had done on the Aspharrium and from a long hated memory. “He thinks that is a slave holding pen…”

“What is it?”

I gulped, “That’s a sacrifice pit… See the runes around the sides? Blood causes those to activate and send the one standing on the dais to be sent somewhere else. But there had to be something about the blood that made it work… There were only four sacrifices in the time that the Ruins were created until now.”

“Where do they go?”

“I have no idea… The person never came back.”

“How do you know this?”

“Mum and dad were two of those who vanished. They disappeared right before my eyes.”

“Who’s blood did they use and why did they go?”

“They were forced by someone who knew somebody…” I tried to grab the memory, but it kept slipping through my fingers. “The blood was mine.” I showed his my wrists that had been cut open to fulfill the sacrifice, but not to kill me. The bot’s camera was then turned back to McCall and I knew the truth. “McCall knows what it is! He is going to sacrifice them all to send him to wherever the people go!”

Bot 13 was thrown into the pit, destroying the camera lens. “C’mon!”

We ran towards sector 7-Q, my mind racing to come up with a plan. We could not overpower them and I did not have anything that could protect the others…. Wait! I do! I stopped and grabbed something from my bag, “Chris, hang on!” He stopped but it was reluctantly. I grabbed out a bottle of lamb’s blood, and a pair of knives that my parents had always taught me to carry with me into the Ruins. I pulled out the stopper and pressed my thumb to the opening. I flipped the bottle over to get some of the blood on my thumb, without wasting any. “Chris, over here now!” I yelled to him, as I started to feel the cobwebs. He did as I asked and I placed a cross in lamb’s blood on his forehead. I then flipped it on my thumb again and put the mark on the back of my neck, under my hair.

“What is this stuff?” He reached to wipe it away.

I stopped him by grabbing his wrist, “It’s lamb’s blood. It’s the only thing that will keep you safe. Don’t remove it.” I dropped his wrist and put the stopped back in. “I have a plan, but it’s going to take using me as bait. I need you to make sure that everyone in that pit gets blood on them. It will make it so they cannot be sacrificed and it will protect them from the dangers.”

He nodded and took the bottle. He leaned in close to me, “Please be careful.” He gave me a quick kiss, before he gave me back the sunglasses. “I’ll take care of the others… Just promise me that you will not do anything too stupid.”

I smiled, “I promise.” I tucked the extra pair of sunglasses into my pocket and pulled off my backpack, “I won’t be needing it and if you can, get everyone out of that pit.” I handed him one of the knives, “That should be sharp enough to slice through their bindings.” I pointed to the left, “If you go that way, you should come up behind the pit. Stay low and find the hole near the pit that will activate a side door. Take that route when I have all eyes one me.”

He nodded and gave me another quick kiss. “Good luck, brat.” He smiled as I blushed a deep red. He went off to the left, as I went off to the right.

I easily climbed up a wall of an older building to above where they were. I took a deep breath in and shouted, “Hey!”

The professor and McCall whipped around, standing on a dais above everyone else, along with their twenty thugs. The professor shouted back, “Get down from there! You will break something!” I saw McCall say something to the professor, whose eyes widened. He turned back to me, “Her?! You need her?!”

I heard a tiny bit of what McCall was telling the professor. “She… last full blooded Aspharrium… Only her blood will do…”

I knew what he said, but I could not believe it. I could not be Aspharrium… Could I be…? They were not going to sacrifice the others… The others were bait for me… I threw caution into the wind as one of the thugs started to get bored and look away, “I know what you did, professor!” That snapped the thug’s attention back to me as I watched Chris activate the door and slide into the pit.

He laughed at me, “And what do you think I did, you little brat?”

I felt the cobwebs caress the back of my neck, “You set them up! You destroyed the lives of Chris, James, Alex and Marcus, as well as enslaved the minds of the rest of the team! What are you after?”

He laughed at me again, “You stupid girl! Did you ever think I cared for the Ruins? No, I want the power to control the world and I know how to get it! McCall told me of the legends of the Dreamscape. He told me all about the pit and how to activate it. He also told me about the Gods that will give me the power over time!”

I saw Chris finish putting the blood on the others and started to help them free of their bindings. The cobwebs behind me began to reach forward and I felt it hit me with a good amount of force. I fell from the building and landed on the dais between McCall and the professor. I heard screams from behind me as the twenty men were ripped to shreds around the dais.

I caught a glimpse of Them as They descended upon those climbing through the door and out of the pit. They had two long horns curling from the top of Their foreheads, muscular gray bodies, strong muscular arms that ended in claws, fur from the waist down, hooves for feet and a vicious set of teeth. They felt the blood and nodded at the omen of protection, before starting to devour the twenty thugs. “What are they?” The professor sounded horrified.

McCall grinned, “These are the Guardians. Lamb’s blood or the dais will protect us.” He looked down to me, “Why did They avoid you?”

I smiled, bluffing, “Because They are mine. They belong to me.” I felt satisfied that the twenty men were nothing more than blood splatters on the ground.

The professor turned to see the pit empty, “Where are the hostages?!”

I stood up, “Your game is over.”

McCall picked me up and threw me into the pit. “No, my dear, this is just the beginning.” He jumped down into the pit and held grabbed my hair. He pulled my head back and slashed my throat. Blood splattered on the walls of the pit, as he climbed out.

I watched through growing darkness the runes activate and glow the color of my blood. I felt something help me up as the professor and McCall stood on the dais. I looked to see it was a Guardian holding me up. I heard the soft whispers of this Guardian, You… I know you… You have the power to stop this… To stop this forever… I felt my hand touch the dais and the world fell away.

Ruins Ch 01

A man in an ankle length white coat over a blue suit spoke to the group of ten. “You all have been gathered here as a way to become approved to be released back into the normal world. I own you until you are given your freedom. You will be assisting some of my chosen team to help with their research. It has become too dangerous for my teams to go in without an escort and someone to help them with their explorations.”

The professor was a solemn man who never joked, but this could not have been real. He had to be joking. We were the best of his team, the ones who knew more about the Ruins than anyone else did. Yet, here he was, talking to a group of convicts about how they would be helping us.

I looked to my five colleagues, all dressed in varying lengths of white coats over their business best. I looked down at my hip length white coat, knowing it was shortest the others, due to my being the newest member of the team. I wore black slacks and a black shirt to offset the clean white coat. We all carried metal clipboards that flipped open up to a one-inch thick paper and supply holder. None of my colleagues looked happy about the combination of the convicts with our team.

The other woman, the twenty-five year old Cassandra, had her blonde hair tied up into a tight bun, accenting her high cheekbones. She was my height and slender, her clothes giving the hint of what feminine qualities the world have come to see as beauty. She wore very little make-up and I knew that if it came time to get down and dirty, she would be taking notes, instead of messing up her manicure and red heels. Her coat was almost as long as the professor’s was.

One man with shaved brown hair, the thirty-year-old Michael, was a military man, his stature telling us he was an officer in the army. He wore his military best, his light green shirt and dark green pants still held their military creases, and his shoes were always polished. He was one who was used to giving the orders for someone to handle the hard labor, putting him up with Cassandra on my list of people to avoid. His coat was ended at his mid-calf, making him the third person to join the team.

Another man, the twenty-seven year old Ryan, had shoulder length red hair roaming wild on his head. I liked Ryan; he was an Irishman with a fiery attitude. He wore a white dress shirt, under a green plaid sash, a green kilt, knee high white socks, held up with elastic and black ankle boots. He was one I could count on if I fell down a hole to actually get dirty to help. He was a jolly man with laughter in his eyes. His white coat was in the middle of Cassandra’s and mine, ending at his upper calf, just below the knees.

The last person in our team was the twenty-three year old, Native American Mahia. He had long black hair that went to the middle of his back. He wore a light brown shirt and black pants, but the softness of the material told me it was all leather. He had muscles that competed with Michael’s, but his looked more natural. His coat had the arms ripped off, showing off his muscular arms. He was the closest to my age and he and I were best of friends when we were working, always being put on a team along with Ryan.

I looked to the other group of five among us. They all wore street clothes the prison gave them, when the professor purchased them for the Ruins project. All five of them were men that gave off the aura of danger and intrigue. They were all chosen for their different abilities that should complement our own. Should is the key word, especially since I think the only thing that they would complement is a pair of handcuffs.

There was one prisoner with long black hair and beard which were both spiked in all sorts of different directions and even dyed random colors He wore the clothes of a punk, black with safety pins sticking out everywhere. I noticed the metal studs that pierced eyebrows, lips, and ears; all parts were pierced in multiple places.

One of the men would not stop looking at us with contempt, his dark eyes hidden behind a pair of thick black eyebrows. His dark brown skin was a mix of dirt and dark tan skin; his face contorted into a look of hate. He wore ragged prison garb, the black and white stripes so dirty, they could barely be distinguished from the ground. I recognized him as one of the men who was looting the Ruins, caught by Cassandra and I.

One tall, buff black man continued to stare forward, and through his light brown eyes, he knew what he was gaining by doing this. His chocolate colored skin was taunt across his arms, chest, shoulders, and legs, all bulging with muscles under a tight black shirt. I knew there were some places in the Ruins he would be unable to go, due to his sheer size.

There was a small skinny little white kid, maybe just turned eighteen in the middle of the group. He had light brown hair that clung to his head with sweat that seemed to show him terrified of something. Then again, the kid was smaller than I was, so he might even be afraid of me, even if no one else was. He wore a blue button up shirt and black slacks, and I figured he probably committed a white-collar crime to get here.

The last one held my eyes for the longest time. He had a slight tan to him, but his black shoulder length black hair glinted in the sunlight. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. His black baggy shirt had no sleeves, accenting his light muscles, putting him about where Mahia’s were. He wore blue jeans that were ripped in many places; they were old and well loved jeans.

I looked back at the professor, as he started handing out the assignments. I opened my clipboard to the pieces of electronic equipment I had built when I was younger. There a pair of gloves that would read my inputs as a keyboard type motion and if I touched something, it would use vibrations to measure the size, density and could accurately reconstruct the building on my home computer. I looked at the pair of sunglasses that would act as my computer screen, giving me the map I had constructed with our already gathered data. In the bridge of the sunglasses was a camera that would act as my note keeper.

I took off my glasses and placed them inside the clipboard. I set my clipboard down and put on the sunglasses and gloves, getting used to the feel of them on me. The professor waited until I had everything ready, before giving me my assignment. I picked my clipboard up and read the paper. I looked at the professor, and then back at the note, “There must have been a mistake, sir.”

The professor looked at me over his glasses, his white hair slicked back. “There was no mistake, Sori. You are to stay topside as a spotter, as your partner goes under ground.”

I looked at the others and I saw Cassandra and Michael smile. They did not think that I was valuable enough to be on a team with them. Only through the good graces of Mahia and Ryan, was I allowed to be on a team. The professor turned away from me and looked to the group of convicts, “You have your teams. Do not dally in the Ruins, do not steal from the Ruins, if I find out anyone does, we have been given permission to kill on sight. Above all, be out of the Ruins before nightfall, we cannot be sure of your safety if you are left in there.”

The convicts moved to their partners and I saw the look of anger on all sides when the black guy was chosen to be with Cassandra, the ruin robber with Michael, Ryan and the skinny kid and Mahia with the punk. That left one prisoner left and I had wished it would not be him. Out of all of them, I could feel that he was the most dangerous and would be the hardest to handle.

He took one look at me and moaned, “Why do I get stuck with the snot-nosed brat?”

I walked over to him and realized he must have been at least six and a half feet compared to my five foot eight. “I am not a snot-nosed brat. I’m twenty years old and damn it, I know these Ruins better than anyone else!”

Cassandra scoffed, “Yes, we know about your little pet project and why you are wearing gloves and the sunglasses. How far have you gotten on that, anyways? Maybe thirty feet, before you tripped and fell, breaking your last pair?” Michael and her laughed at my expense.

I looked at the ground, knowing that Mahia and Ryan could not come to my aid, or else they could be kicked from the team. I turned on my heel and stalked away from the others, keeping the earpiece communicator off. Michael shouted, “Do more research, while you are at it! You seem to hit the books almost as easily as you can hit the ground.”

I ran away from them and turned a corner to get away. I rounded another corner and saw the giant library looming before me. “At least here I don’t have to listen to the snide remarks…” I heard a motorcycle screech to a halt behind me. I turned and saw the convict I was assigned sitting on it. I growled, “Go away!” He just sat there staring at me. “Go into the Ruins and do your job!” He folded his hands under his chin. “Fine then…” I turned and ran up the steps of the library, but I heard the motorcycle rev and speed up. He used the side ramps to beat me to the large oak doors of my sanctuary.

He sat back and looked at me, annoyance in his eyes. I walked up to him and slammed the metal clipboard into his shoulder, before grabbing his shirt and pushing him off the motorcycle. He fell to the ground, the motorcycle, luckily, was still standing, leaning on the kickstand. I tried to sweep passed him to get to where I would not be found, but he grabbed my white coat. “Stop.”

I looked down at him, my sadness heating up to anger. “No. You already said how you didn’t want a snot-nosed brat as a partner; you will never look at me as a viable part of the team. Especially seeing how you pretty much agreed with Cassandra and Michael’s assessment of me, you are not worth my time. Go join another team.” I ripped my coat from his hands, “Go join another team, maybe you can join Cassandra’s, since she can’t help but bat her eyelashes at you.”

He stood up but still looked to the ground, “I don’t know where the entrance we have been assigned to is.” He pulled a paper from his pocket and handed it to me. “The others were told to go the Necropolis, Wraith, Leth and Auburn entrances to the Ruins. The professor told me there was another, but that you were the only one who knew about it. He hinted that in all of the research you have done for your little project, that you came across another entrance and told him about it. He could never find it, no matter that kind of directions you gave him.” His eyes met mine, “Since you are the only one who seems to know, he wasn’t going to get rid of you, despite how useless you really are.”

I smiled grimly, “Glad to know that I’m useless in his eyes.” I sneered at him, not knowing what else to do, “There is no other entrances. Those of us who are useless don’t carry information. He told you that to finally prove that there is no such entrance that I know about. You were just the bait to seal my fate and give him the reassurance that he can get rid of me without a second thought.”

“Then why not just have you take him there?” He asked, holding me in his gaze.

“Because let’s say it does exist, why haven’t I given him the location? Because let’s say it is true, then that will become another trophy on the shelf, another award on the wall. He would take the credit and leave me with nothing… Then he would get rid of me.” I turned away from him, “Now, leave me in peace. I have research to do and I have to be the spotter again…” I sighed and went into the library, leaving him and his smooth words out in the light.

I pulled off my sunglasses and put on my normal ones, placing the sunglasses in my pocket. I looked around the giant library and finally felt at home. Books were my family, the history my friends. They housed those who would not lie, cheat or steal my work. They were safe, timeless and the only ones worthy of my attentions outside of work. Mahia and Ryan may enjoy my company at work; they really did not outside of it. My work was my life, so there was no reason to get an outside interest. The books did not mind if I compared my notes to theirs, nor did they mind if I reread something many times to be sure I had it memorized.

I stepped up to the librarian’s desk, catching a glimpse of the date and time, December twentith, two thousand twelve… Almost four o’clock. I spoke to the librarian softly, “Back for more, milady.” I smiled as she looked up from her lists. “Anything new?”

She smiled back up to me, her English accent thickening her lovely words, “No, my dear. More research?”

“Yup, I was kicked to spotting again.” I felt more sad about not visiting the Ruins than I was angry about the jeers the other made at me.

She grabbed my hand lightly and squeezed, “At least you know more about these Ruins than your counterparts. I heard you are making a three-dimensional model of them using your computer. I expect that you will be adding your model to the library when you are done. I also expect that since you know another entrance, that you will be adding it to the model, proof that you found it.”

I nodded and smiled at the woman who had been like my second mother since I started playing in the library and Ruins. “Since they added five more people to the team, they won’t need me to spot for them.” I smiled sadly, “I guess I get to spend the rest of the day surrounded by those who might one day appreciate all of the research I have done.”

She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth in disapproval, “I heard about these five who have been added. Along with your normal materials, I added their records to your room.” She smiled again, “You know the drill; you stay here later than I do, you lock it up when you leave.” She let go of my hand, “Do not worry, child. All will become better for you if you continue your path as you are. Do not lose hope because a pair of idiots used nothing that had to do with intelligence to become members. You know more about the Ruins than anyone else, even if they do not know it yet.”

“Thank you, milady.” I smiled to her, before turning towards the stairs that led upstairs to the study rooms. The librarian had given me my own room there, since I spent more time at the library in that room than anyone else. I walked up the stairs, with only one place in mind where I wanted to be, not paying attention to anything else.

My room was the farthest from the stairs and the front doors downstairs. I stepped in front of the one-way glass and looked at my reflection. I had straight, little longer than shoulder length, dark blonde, light brown hair. My eyes drifted from my hair to my forehead, then to my bushy dark brown eyebrows. I looked into my reflection’s Irish hazel eyes that changed colors depending on my moods, but I knew no one would notice them behind my silver square framed glasses. My nose was proportional to my big lips, giving my face some balance. I had to admit that I was not pretty, but I was not ugly at the same time. I had sometimes been told that when I smiled, it brightened the room.

My eyes moved down to my too-board shoulders and skinny arms. I growled as I remembered the measurements the seamstress had shouted out when I was being fitted for my coat: forty-four and a half inch bust, thirty-six inch waist, forty-one inch stomach and forty-two and a half inch hips. I rushed passed the parts of me that I hated to below my twenty-seven inch around thighs.

My legs, below the knees were lovely. Since I was little, I have always had four times the strength in my legs than I did in my arms. Then I looked at my combat boots and grinned. The professor tried so many times to have me wear heels, until he saw that my feet were size eleven in women’s.

I looked back up to the one-way glass and smiled to myself, “I am freaking cute and smart! And damn it, I know more about the Ruins than anyone!” I told my reflection as I did everyday to counteract the jeers from my colleagues. I nodded to myself, reaffirming and hoping the words would stick this time.

I opened the door to my study room and found it was almost precisely as it was when I left the last night. One the left was a huge stack of books of the myths and cultures of the Dena tribe that roamed this area, whom the professor expected to have left our set of Ruins. On the right was a substantially smaller stack of books of another culture that I thought made the Ruins, the Aspharrium. In the center of the desk sat a laminated map with five folders carefully placed on top of it.

I sat down in the comfortable chair and leaned forward to the folders. “The librarian had said she gave me their records, but I didn’t think she really woulda.” I flipped open each of the folders, spreading it our across the desk. The black male is named was James, the punk was Alex, the kid was Marcus, and the Ruins thief was McCall. I closed them all, not wanting to know my ex-partner’s name. “This is stupid, I need to know it…” I could not bring myself to open his folder again.

I picked up McCall’s folder, already knowing what I was going to read. I had to testify to the court that he was there and when I found him, he had stolen items in his hands. There were things from the surface, like a bunch of keys that matched stolen cars; he also had things he stole from the Ruins we had yet to get to, like a gold necklace with a large ruby for a pendant. It was actually because of this necklace that I knew the Ruins were not Dena. He was taken into custody by the professor on July thirty-first two thousand twelve, almost five months ago.

I grabbed James’s folder and started to read. He was sent to jail for assault for smashing a group of males’ heads into a concrete wall during a fight. I set it down, knowing the basics of his case. It was an opened and closed case, since he did not have an alibi and his witnesses were Alex, Marcus and someone named Christopher. The group had twenty men in it, but the numbers did not add up. “Wait…” His was placed under arrest on the same day as McCall. “Must have been a busy day for police.”

I grabbed Alex’s folder and read it next. He was caught on the same day and in the same area as James. He was taken in for theft of over three thousand dollars in electrical equipment. His case was once again, open and shut because his witnesses were James, Marcus and Christopher. I was starting to see a pattern that I did not like.

I opened Marcus’s folder and I was right. He was taken in for identity theft after police found him in the same area with people’s credit and social security cards in his hands. Again, because police caught him with them in his hands, the case was open and shut. Again, his witnesses were Christopher, James and Alex.

I closed the folders and turned on my sunglasses. I started to type up all of the facts I had. They were all arrested the same night in the same area by the same police officers. The group of men had testified against James, Marcus and Alex, as well as the Christopher who defended the three men.

Each man in the group of twenty had the same story; they were walking by the alley, when they saw Marcus and Alex break into a house. They tried to stop Marcus and Alex, when they heard a woman scream from the upstairs. The group split up, some holding Marcus and Alex captive, while the rest went to find out about the scream. The Christopher guy came out of the main bedroom with blood on his hands. They grabbed him and held his captive as well, when the leader of the group went into the room and found a woman bound, gagged and murdered. When the group went outside, James then started his attack on the men. The men claimed they were overpowered by the giant black man, and that is how the night ended, as they each fell unconscious.

I stopped and looked at the last folder. “Please no…” I opened it and the name at the top was the Christopher who defended the others. “They were in on it together…” I sat back in my chair, leaning against the soft leather comfort. I pushed all of the facts together and came to a realization. Unless I asked them, I would not get both sides of the story, leaving me to my own thoughts.

James, Marcus, Christopher and Alex had all had the same story. They had all just met at a bar, and when they were walking towards another bar, they saw a gang of men. The gang of men broke into a house and when the accused heard a scream, they decided to take action. Alex and Marcus found some of the men downstairs stealing things, but they were two against eight and were easily taken down. James and Christopher went upstairs and found the master bedroom down open with the leader raping the woman. She tried to fight them, but in the end, when James and Christopher tried to help, the men retaliated. That sent James into a battle lust and he slammed some of the men into a wall. Christopher went to help the woman, but the leader slashed her throat to keep her from testifying. The men overpowered James and Christopher and were framed for their crimes.

I pushed those thoughts out form my head. “I am a scientist who was chosen to an elite group to study the Ruins… I can’t let my mind wander to this!” I wanted to help them, if they were innocent, but that was twenty men’s testimonies against theirs. They were caught red handed by the police, when the group of men was knocked out, one by one. “Unless somehow the gang called police on their own crimes, they…” I slammed my head against the desk. “Neighbors! The neighbors must have called police when the woman screamed! It all fits within favor of the accused! But… How to prove it…”

I looked at the stack of books on the table. I closed the folders and pushed them aside, “No… I can’t. I have this to take care of and if they all do fine in the Ruins, they will get their freedom back eventually… And I’m sure that if I did find a connection, this wouldn’t help them now…”

I laid my head down on my desk, using my arms as pillows. “I’m stuck… Nothing I say will help them nor the Ruins… I’m so lost… Why should I try…?” I felt a tear fall down the side of my cheek but I wiped it away, before it hit the map.

“Because you would not be able to work with a rapist and murderer, if you believed it.” I heard Christopher’s voice tell me. I looked up and saw him perched on the side of my desk. He was not wearing the sunglasses and I felt my heart pound as I looked into his hazel eyes. He looked around the room, allowing me to grasp my composure. “Lovely office you have, even if it is in a library.”

I growled, “I prefer this to anything everyone else has!”

He just smiled at me, “That’s the brat that threw me off the bike.” He hopped off the desk and came around to where I sat. I did not move when he knelt in front of me, “Listen, I know you know there’s another entrance. You want to help us, well, for that to happen, I need you to help me now. I need you to lead me into the Ruins using your way.”

I looked at him and knew he was right. “You’re right, Christopher. If I thought any of you had committed the crimes, I would have come to that conclusion after reading.” I sighed, “If I show you were the entrance is, please don’t tell the professor. I found it when I was little and piece by piece, I’ve been building a three-dimensional model of the Ruins. And I need you to promise not to tell him anything I tell you but if I do tell you to do something, you have to trust me.”

He stood up and thought about it for a second. He extended his hand out in front of him, “I agree, but you need to agree to my terms. You must not lie to me about things while we are done there and when I tell you to do something, you have to do it.”

I grabbed his hand and shook it, as he pulled me out of my chair. I could smell the exotic spices that gave him the dangerous aura. “You’re hiding something from me.” I mumbled as I backed away from him.

“Michael, Cassandra, James and McCall are missing. Didn’t you hear it on your communicator?” His face hardened.

I shook my head, “I never have it on after the snide remarks, because Michael, Cassandra and the professor will continue to make them throughout the whole search.”

“What are you all looking for?” He asked, as he moved towards the door.

“Ryan, Mahia and I are looking for knowledge. Cassandra and Michael are looking for fame and I know the professor is looking for something he hasn’t found in the areas we have searched.” I admitted, as he opened the door. “Hang on. I need to pack for this search.”

He sighed, “Women… I don’t think there’s an outlet you can plug your hair equipment into down there.”

I grinned, “Good thing I’m not packing a hairdryer.” I grabbed a backpack from one of the shelves in my room. It was heavy with supplies I always took with me when I went into the Ruins. I grabbed the clipboard and put it into the bag as well. “All done.”

“Well, that was fast for a girl.” He smiled as I put the backpack on and walked past him.

“And you’re patient for a male.” I grinned as he shut the door and followed me down the stairs. We walked passed the librarian and I waved her to, “Night!”

“Have a lovely night, love!” She shouted back as she turned to her intercom to announce the library closing.

Christopher looked to me, “Why did we start this so late today?”

I looked at them, then to my watch, “The professor said there was a break-in at the Necropolis entrance and they had to send teams into the Ruins. No one was found, so it was blamed on a false alarm. Apparently, it wasn’t… But they searched all of the Ruins we have mapped out, since the Professor doesn’t think the Ruins run any deeper than what we have found.”

“Why?” He was attentive to everything, as we walked towards his bike.

“There was a wall built around the Ruins that is a part of the Ruins, but since there is no way of getting passed it, he thinks there is nothing beyond it.” I smiled to myself.

He caught the smile, “What’s passed the wall?”

“More Ruins. That’s why I couldn’t show him my entrance. It drops us on the other side of the wall, and since he lies about what he is looking for, I lie about the entrance.”

“Then how is he so sure that you knew about this entrance?”

I grinned up at him, “He caught me when I was supposed to be spotting for the others. I had just climbed into the known Ruins, chasing a lead, when he found me. He went through the security and none of them had seen me go in. He figured either I was invisible or I had another entrance. He refused to believe I became invisible, but whenever he pressured me into telling him where the entrance was, I lied.”

He stopped walking, “You lied to him? That could have cost you your job. And from what I’ve seen and heard, you don’t have a life outside of it.”

“I don’t need this job to survive. I just do it because it was fun exploring the Ruins and learning the culture and it would have been awesome to be paid for it. But when he first sent me down there, I took my equipment with me. He didn’t believe me when I said I was going to create a model of it for the library and when Michael tripped me, the professor refused to let me down there. He claimed because I was a better researcher than an explorer.”

He started walking again and he helped me with the helmet, before asking, “What are the main cross streets?”

I scuffed my shoe at the ground, “We need to leave town to the forest with the crazy peep looking birds.”

He sighed, “Those are not ‘crazy peep looking birds’, they are Cavias. And that’s where it is? That’s a three hour ride.”

I nodded and I heard him sigh. He helped me figure out how to balance on his motorcycle. “Hold on!” He shouted as we darted off to the Cavias’s Forest.

Sadies

This was originally written first person, but someone actually thought that this happened to me, so I changed it to third person.

 

This was written in 2005, when people would make fun of LGBTA+ people. This is in no way how I think now.

**********

 

“Will you go to the Sadie’s dance with me?” Kirra asked Johann, her boyfriend for three years. This was to be their last Sadie’s dance together.

“Sure, Kirra. I have something to tell you. I’ve wanted to say it since I first met you.” He leaned in and kissed her passionately.

The bell to their next classes rang, so they were forced part ways. During her next classes, Kirra tried to think of what Johann wanted to say to her. She then blushed at the thought that he might ask to marry her.

What shall we wear? She thought about the dress that she had been sewing for this anniversary dance.

She texted him, Wanna wear formal clothing?

He answered back shortly, What ever you want, honey.

Kirra was in a state of bliss for the next few days. She wore an elaborate gown with a Victorian look to it.

She waited for about five minutes before her date showed up. He wore a tuxedo that clung loosely to his skinny body. He grinned at her as he stepped out of his truck.

They walked hand in hand into the dance. The first song they heard was a slow song. They held each other lovingly, dancing to the song.

At the end of the dance, Johann took a knee. Kirra blushed as everyone around them stopped and watched. They crowded around.

Johann pulled out the picture from their first date. “I’ve wanted to tell you this since the first time I saw your glittering eyes, when I tasted your soft kisses and when you first asked me to Sadie’s three years ago.”

He looked at her with honest clear blue eyes. He then said the three words that would forever be embellished into her heart and soul forever.

“I am Gay.”