Chapter 05

I woke with an arm wrapped around me, heat radiating into my back. In the night, I had thrown of the blanket and it covered whoever was in my bed. I tried to pull away to see who is was, but the arm pulled me tighter against the heat. I twisted and turned until I was facing the heat source and moved the blanket from Ethon’s face.

Part of me wanted to freeze his nose in annoyance, but another part, I did not want to break this moment. Instead, I used my pillow to pry his arms from around me, by giving him something to grip. I successfully escaped his arms and stood up on the bed. I carefully walked over him but slipped at the edge of the bed as he flipped from his side to his back. I landed on top of him, jarring him out of his dreams.

He looked up at me and grinned, “Dreams do come true.”

“Why are you in my bed?” I asked the first thing that popped into my mind, while trying to get my face to turn from bright red back to its normal color.

“Era told me that you knew how to get to the Rebel’s Headquarters then she left. I opened the door and found you sleeping and there was nowhere else to lie down. I even stayed on the outside of the blankets so that you wouldn’t get any ideas.” He blatantly flirted

“Me getting ideas? You were the one who wouldn’t let go of me.”

“You’re the one who’s on top. So, tell me that you don’t have plans.”

I scrambled off of him, “I don’t have plans.” I took a deep breath. “Look, I saw how you looked at Mikala and Era. I’m not an idiot; so no, I don’t have plans because you’re already made yours with others.”

I opened the door and shut it behind me. I searched and found another lighter, though this was a cheap plastic one. I lit the candle in the mirrors then the woodstove and created Ice into the pot, setting it on the fire. I used the restroom and washed my hands with the gritty soap and towel. I walked back out and saw Ethon sitting in my chair. “I could have started the fire.”

“It’s nothing important. Anyways, using your magic wears you out faster.”

“You use yours all the time!” He whined.

“Yes, but I also have used so much before that I had to sleep for three days before I was fully recharged. I know my limits, have you reached yours?”

He shook his head, “I haven’t run out of fire before.”

“Trust me when I say it sucks. We should find out before we send you off to fight, because trust me when I say that it can be deadly when you run out of magic in the middle of a fight.”

“How did you survive through it?”

I checked the pot and saw that it was almost water. “I’m resourceful and a conniving bitch, so I manage even without magic.” I pulled the pot off the stove and poured the water into a couple mugs I found. I handed one to Ethon, “Here, drink this.”

I set mine on the table and went to get clothes. I put them on before grabbed my brush and sat on my bed. I undid my braid and brushed my hair until it was smooth again. I walked back into the main living area and saw that both mugs had been drained. I just looked at Ethon, “Seriously?”

He smiled, “I’ve never had water that fresh and clean before.” I sat in the other chair and rebraided my hair. “Why do you braid it? It looks better down.”

“Braiding it keeps it kempt and it’s less of a target for adversaries to grab onto.” A question came into my mind from the way he was looking at me, “Ethon, you said people have sex for fun, love and to hurt. Which have you done?”

“Well.” He sat back in the chair and thought about it, “I’ve done it for fun, though looking back on it, I think the women I’ve been with did it for love.”

“How many women have you been with?” I could not stop myself from asking.

“Because my uncle is the Supreme Leader and he doesn’t have children himself, I’m like the prince. Some women used me to get into better positions with my uncle, others I think actually loved me, but I tossed all of them aside, because I did not care for them.”

“And people call me heartless.” I mumbled to myself. I opened the vault door and found a Teleporter standing there. He gave me a two finger salute, just like Mikala. All Couriers and Teleporters wore the small skin tight black clothes and facemask. “Let me grab my things and the male.”

“No need, milady.” The Teleporter spoke. “I am here for the Fire-Bearer only. Era’s orders.”

I tried to mask my anger with a smile, “I understand.” I turned to face the vault, “Ethon, it’s time to go.”

Ethon came out of the vault with the sword I lent him and he walked over to the Teleporter. “Aren’t you coming with?”

I smiled, “Nope, happy journey.” I gave the salute back to the Teleporter as the two of them vanished.

Mikala showed up in the exact same spot they vanished from. She handed me a blue envelope. “Oh! A Thieving!” Mikala tried to look over my shoulder to see into my vault. “He’ not in there, love.” She looked at me with her hand on her hip. “Hey, don’t look at me like that. Era took him for training for the Rebellion and the Teleporter kindly told me to stay behind.” She rolled her eyes. “Ya know, I don’t need you poking into my lack-of-love life. He’s into ladies like you and Era. Cute, beautiful, feminine and who doesn’t flaunt their kills in front of him.” She reached forward and touched my cheek. “You didn’t know, so it’s alright. Anyways, if Era doesn’t need me, then I can keep working on the jobs you bring, giving us both an income.” Mikala looked sad, but gave her the salute and vanished.

I opened the envelope and grinned. This Thieving would take me close to an already known enemy. Maybe, if I got close enough, I could end his life and steal from him, killing two birds with one stone. I walked into my vault and gathered my bag, whip, gauntlet, water pouches and Mr. Es. I found my compass on the counter and grabbed it before blowing out the candle and walking out of the vault. I locked it and looked at the compass. “I’m looking for the Hope Diamond.”

The needle pointed directly behind me, leading me towards the town of Fallen Leaves. I walked until I found a smaller town and wandered through the streets. I stopped by a restaurant and ate breakfast. I listened to the woes of the people around me. I heard news of the Dictator destroying another small town because they sheltered some slaves that had escaped. I heard other news of his generals going out and poisoning the water supplies and that some of the food shipments in the area have been poisoned as well. Some were saying that they should move to the Capitol, because living on their knees would be better than dying on their feet.

I quickly paid my bill and walked out. I took a breath, trying to find my balance. What these people were saying was obscene to me, but I understood that they have lost their hope. Once that is gone, I knew how quickly everything would spiral. This Thieving no longer held joy for me and with annoyance I called out to Mikala.

She arrived and I handed her the envelope back, “Please give my apologies to the client. And I won’t be taking on any more jobs for a while.” She tilted her head in amusement. “Yes, I know that you gave it to me because you knew I would pass through this town. But, you’re right. Something needs to be done and even if Era thinks she doesn’t need me, I know that I can help.” She held her hand out to me. “You and your meddling…” I grabbed her hand and we vanished to the Rebel’s hideout.

We arrived at the front gates of a fortress on the other side of Enki’s mountain. She saluted me and vanished to tell the client that he would have to wait his turn. I stepped up to the large gates and heard the guards call down, “Who steps there?”

“The Ice Queen who is going to tear your damned walls down if you don’t open them!” I yelled back. I watched the guards look at one another, before the gates slightly parted.

Era was standing between me and the interior of their stronghold. “You have no reason to be here.”

“I was going to help.”

“We don’t need your help.” She spat on the ground at my feet. “We have the person who can help us. Why don’t you go back to your vault while those of us who have been preparing for glory go out and receive it?”

“Do you honestly think that the Dictator is just going to throw open the gates to his palace for you to kill him?”

“No, but we have been preparing for this war for years and with the Fire-Bearer on our side, nothing can stop us. Don’t you see, Eirlys? Even with your Ice cold heart, Water is still weak. Just go home and die.” She stepped back and slammed the gate shut.

I growled and pounded on the door, “You piece of shit Wind-Bearer! You ask for my help then when I offer it, you turn me down!?”

I heard her laugh from the other side of the solid wood, “That was before I charmed the Fire-Bearer into help us.”

The blizzard raged within me, before spiraling out. The snow created whiteout as I felt myself grow colder. I heard Ethon’s voice on the other side of the gate, “Eirlys! Stop this!”

“I trusted you!” I screamed as I fell to the ground.

I heard the gate open and the snow stopped moving, the area around me becoming the eye of the storm. Ethon stepped out slightly, “Eirlys, Era is right. There’s nothing here for you. Let the professionals take care of this.”

I scoffed, “If they wanted professionals, then why in the hell are you in there?”

“I know things about my uncle that no one else does.”

“Do you even know what his magic is?”

He shook his head, “No one does, but I’m hoping to find out. Look, Eirlys, it was an eye-opening experience that you have given me, but we both know that he wants to capture you and to use you. You said it yourself that you would rather die than to become his. So, just go home and keep going on your jobs.”

I stood up and the all of the snowflakes fell to the ground as icicles. “I see you’ve made your choice. Glad you found the bitch you love.” I walked away, each step turning the ground into ice. I ignored Ethon calling out to me, using the storm that raged within me to block out everything.

Each foot followed the other until I found myself at the base of Enki’s mountain. Instead of finding the trail from before, I climbed straight up, using my magic to clear the way as I walked. I stood outside of Enki’s monastery before I felt my tears fall. I fell to the ground and cried.

“Eirlys?” I heard Enki’s voice from in front of me, but my tears blurred him.

“Don’t come near me yet…” I spoke softly, but I knew that even though I felt like I was in the blizzard, outside of my heart and mind, it was a clear day. I saw him stop moving closer, before I felt his arms wrap around me.

“Eirlys, it’s okay to cry… You don’t need to hold it in, you’re safe here.”

I wrapped my arms around the older man. “Enki…” I cried into his shoulder, until I did not have any tears left.

“Better?” He asked in a calming voice.

I nodded as I used my cloak to dry my face. “Yeah… I need help.”

“I felt you coming and you almost frosted my garden.” He said in a light voice, that was supposed to make me feel better, but it did not. “Let’s get some tea.” He lightly pulled me into the kitchen and sat me at the table, while he made tea. “The water is from the fresh rain I had here a few days ago.”

“That’s nice.” I answered absent mindedly.

He set the cup in front of me before setting the pot between us and sitting down on the other side of the table. “Now tell me everything that has happened.”

I took a sip of the warm tea, before setting it back on the table. “I found the Fire-Bearer, actually, it’s more appropriate that Ethon found me. I was burning the forest outside my vault to create soil for the seeds. We started to talk and he convinced me that he would teach me emotions if I showed him the real world. Then I got a job and he came into Sparks with me to get supplies. He watched me kill two men who were slave traders and were looking for revenge. He was mad because I lied to him about my magic, because I didn’t trust him at the time. We parted ways and I found the treasure I was looking for. He found me by using this,” I pulled the pendant off and set it on the table. “And I thought we were okay. Until Era found out about him and she took him to be trained. After Mikala convinced me to assist the Rebellion, Era said that I was still weak and that she still hopes I die. I tried to get them to listen but even Ethon said that I was useless and to go home.”

I looked up at Enki, “I was getting warmer being around him, then this happened and I snapped. I’ve never felt so cold in my life and I don’t know how I feel about this. But he chose Era, which wouldn’t hurt so much, but I thought…” I sighed, “It doesn’t matter what I thought, because he chose her.” I stared at the cup sitting in front of me.

“Want to know what I think?” Enki finally asked me. I just nodded, trying to hold back more tears. “I think that you found someone that you trust, but more than that, I think you fell in love with him.”

“I don’t even know what love is.”

“I know you do. You love Mikala and me, because we are the two people that you go to for help. That is a familiar kind of love, like the love between families. I know that you still love your older brother, despite his death. And I know that you loved this Ethon.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve never seen you cry over a person like this before. You cried over your family’s deaths, and the same hurt I saw then, I see now. Did you think about him a lot?” I nodded a little bit. “Do you wish that you were standing with him right now?” I nodded again. “Do you hope that he might change his mind and come back to you?” I nodded a third time. “That’s how I know its love. I know that you have read many books, but I’ve read thousands more and those are the signs of love, dear.”

I took a sip from the tea, more to have something to do rather than to actually drink it. “What should I do?”

“That part is up to you. You can go back down there to where they will turn you away, because they don’t see you as they should. Or you can continue taking mercenary jobs. Or you can stay here and let me teach you different ways to fight and maybe we can get you to water my garden.”

I smiled despite myself, “You have a limp that’s getting worse.”

“That’s just these old bones. Trust me when I say that I can teach you what you need to know. For example, what happens if you don’t have your whip and you’re out of magic? Can you defend yourself? How about if you have to use your brain more than your brawn? I know you are smart, but I can take that intelligence and make it more. I’m not going to go easy on you just because you’re my adopted child.” I looked up and saw him bring with pride.

“Really?” I felt more tears fall, but this time not from sadness and grief but from joy.

“Since the first day that you walked up my mountain.” He took long drink from his cup of tea. “Finish your tea and we’ll get started.”

I downed my tea with three gulps and stood up. “Ready.”

“For starters, beat me to the Zen garden with only your clothes on. Leave the rest of your belongings in your room, along with your boots and socks.” He stood up and started his walk towards the Zen garden.

I ran towards my room running into walls in the turns. I dropped my bag on the ground and unfastened my cloak. The boots and socks took forever, the side zipper getting stuck in my rush. I ripped my socks off before pulling off my face mask. I ran out the door and found Enki standing there waiting for me. “Too slow, girl.” He grinned, “As punishment, forward leaning resting position.”

I grumbled to myself, “I hate pushups.” I got into pushup position and waited for his count. I looked up to see him on the ground with me.

“Fifteen. Down, up.”

“One.” I counted.

“Down, up.”

“Two.”

When we reached the fifteenth, “Down.” We both bent our arms, waiting for him to give the up command. My arms burned and I wanted to hear ‘up’ more than anything else in the world. I looked at Enki and he was smiling. “Hurts doesn’t it? Use discipline to stay down.”

I felt like my arms were going to give out when he finally called ‘up’, “Fifteen!” I shouted using my voice to help alleviate the pain in my arms.

He stood up. “Up!” He yelled and I jumped to my feet. “Not fast enough, down!” I jumped down to my feet and waited for the ‘up’ command again. He called out, ‘up’ and I jumped up to my feet. “Better, but not fast enough. Down!” We went through this for seven more rounds until he was finally satisfied.

“Let’s go for a run.” He climbed on top of the rock in the center of the garden. “Four laps around the garden.” I was out of breath, but knew that he would not allow me to stop. “Ready and go!” I started with a lighter jog until I heard him yell, “If I catch you going that slow and I’ll add another lap.” I sped up and after the four laps, I could not breathe. He looked down at me from his rock, “How have you been able to outrun those who want to kill you? My ex-girlfriend can run faster than you and she uses crutches!”

I tried to let my mind sort through that information, until I realized that it was an exaggeration. I knew that Enki did not have a girlfriend for at least as long as I have been coming up to his mountain.

“Planks!” He yelled and I got into a lower plank position, using my forearms for support. “Hold it!” He yelled as my body started to shake, “Keep your form!” I put my butt down, not knowing that I was breaking form. Sweat dripped into the sand before he called ‘relax’. I fell into the sand, my arms pissed off at me. “Up!” I scrambled to my feet and was thankful that he did not force me back down.

“Squats! Four counts down, four counts up and make sure you are parallel to the ground. Twenty. Ready, go!” I slowly squatted and stood up, and it was not until I was halfway through that I found out why I was doing four-count ones instead of normal one. My knees and legs burned when I reach fifteen and the last five were torture.

“Pull-ups!” He shouted, but I walked to his rock.

“I can’t do pull-ups.” I admitted.

“Then jump up to the branch and slowly lower yourself down.” He pointed to the dead tree with a branch that had enough room to do pull-ups. I jogged over to it and jumped up to the branch. I wrapped my arms around it as Enki called out, “Five!” I nodded and kept my arms bent as I slowly lower my body until my arms were almost completely straight. I dropped to the ground, before jumping back up and repeating the process four more times.

At the last one, I landed and stood back up. He yelled out, “Now, start from the beginning and repeat two more times!”

Later, I was lying in a pool of warm water that came from the earth. I had washed my long hair and body, but was now just trying to get my sore muscles to stop pulsating. I hear Enki call from the other side of the wall. “Today will be done every two days and I’ll teach you how to fight on the off days.”

I wanted to cry with that news. Instead, I answered, “Okay!” I lowered myself deeper into the water until only my face was above the water. I closed my eyes and lowered myself until I was completely submerged. My legs cramped and as I yelled, I found that I could breathe underwater. I grinned as I stayed under the water line, massaging the cramp. I heard Enki above me as he reached down to grab me. He wore a towel around his waist as he pulled me from the water.

“I heard you yell and when I got over here I didn’t see any bubble coming up from the water. I thought you were dead!”

“Enki!” I grinned wildly, “I can breathe under water!”

“What?” He looked at me as if he did not hear me correctly. “You can?”

I nodded happily, “Yup.”

He held out a robe for me and I put it on as I stepped out of the water. “Let’s get some dinner, then we’ll discuss what I’m actually going to teach you.”

Mikala met us in the kitchen after I dried off and changed into different clothes. “Mikala? What’s going on?” Her hands moved rapidly and her telepathy was jumbled from her speed. “Enki, do you have any tea left?” He nodded and went to get some. I placed my hand on her shoulders, “Calm down, Mikala. I can’t understand you.” She touched her forehead to mine and I saw Sparks in flames. I pulled away from her. “Take me there, now!” She grabbed my hand and we vanished from Enki’s kitchen.

The buildings were in a full blaze and I saw a few people bleeding in the streets. I used my Ice to create an isolated blizzard above the buildings, letting the snow melt to put the fires out. “Eirlys!” I heard an old woman’s voice calling to me. I tried to find the voice, but Mikala found it first. She pointed to where Myrtle was crawling towards us. We ran over to her and I slid on the ground, catching her before she fell face first into the dirt.

I turned her over so she was face up, “Myrtle, what happened?” I asked, trying to stay calm and to soothe her.

She winced as she took a breath, “Slavers. They were…” She took another long slow breath, “looking for you…” I shook, trying to make myself feel like it was not my fault. She reached forward and touched my cheek, “Not your fault, my dear.” She took another shaking breath before she turned to Mikala, who touched her forehead and gathered all of the information Myrtle gave her. She looked back at me, “Mercy.”

She was dying but I did not want her to, “We’ll get a healer and you’ll be okay, Myrtle.”

She shook her head as she winced in pain again, “Virulent poison. Mercy, please, Ice Lady.”

I looked to Mikala, “Can you look for other survivors and take them to the Rebels or Enki?” She nodded, knowing that I wanted privacy. “Okay, Myrtle, just take a deep breath and close your eyes.” She did as I asked and I gathered the Ice that ran through my veins. I leaned forward and kissed her forehead, pushing the cold into her as I sang her a lullaby, “Day is done…” I watched as a puff of cold air came from her lips. “Gone the sun…” Her skin became less pale and bluer as I dropped her body temperature. “From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky…” I kept pulling her body heat down to where I knew it would kill her peacefully. “All is well… Safely rest…” I watched her chest fall for the final time and her entire body became limp. “Death was nigh…” I held her corpse close to me while I cried. I whispered into her un-listening ear, “Good bye, Myrtle. Thank you for kicking my butt where needed. I’ll miss your wisdom.” I do not know how long I sat there cradling her in my arms, sobbing.

“Eirlys…?” I heard a male voice behind me and knew it was Ethon.

“Don’t touch me…” I growled.

I heard Enki talk to Ethon, “She just froze Myrtle and her body can’t handle the heat radiating from you.” Enki stepped closer to me, “Give me, Myrtle, Eirlys. I’ll take care of her remains and I think she would like to see the sunrise, don’t you?”

I looked up at the older gentleman and nodded, “I think she would have loved to see it.” I stood up and carefully handed her to Enki, doing well not to touch him. I looked to Ethon and Era, standing just behind him. Then I looked over to Mikala and walked over to her. “Show me what you saw.”

She took off her face mask and placed it between our foreheads as she gave the images that Myrtle had given her. I heard voices from the memory, “Find the Ice Bitch and anyone who gets in the way will be taken to the mines!” I saw the florid, fat male with a twisted mustache walk over to Myrtle. “Where is the Ice Bitch?!” He yelled into her face, his squinty black eyes were full of hot anger.

“You won’t find her and when she learns that of what you have done here, she will hunt you down and destroy you.” Myrtle answered defiantly. I felt her pain as the fat man stabbed her in the stomach.

He dropped her on the ground and barked orders to burn the town to the ground as they took the captured people. I heard Myrtle call out for Mikala, before she started to preserve her strength to wait. We watched as the slavers took their newly acquired slaves away.

Mikala and I pulled away from each other at the same time, the face mask falling into her waiting hands. She replaced it and gave me the look of what I was going to do. I gave her a sadistic smile, “He wanted my attention, now he got it.” She shivered from the look in my eye, but I knew that she would get satisfaction from this job.

I looked to the other Elemental-Bearers. “Enki, can you help Mikala find any other survivors and take care of them. I assume the Shifter’s Guild is a part of the destruction, since they make better workers than other magic users, so I would look there as well.” I passed over Ethon and looked straight to Era, “Why are you even here?”

She looked indignant but answered, “Since they died and were captured because of you, I was going to go after whoever did this.”

“Slavers have never been your concern before, why start now?” I growled.

“They are connected to the Dictator. Just because I haven’t been killing them doesn’t mean that they aren’t a priority.”

“I know, they are under the Dictator’s priority, making them not high enough to care about. Era, go back to your fortress and let a professional take care of it.” I looked to Ethon now and actually felt glad when he shivered looking into my eyes. “You are not needed, so go back with your bitch.”

“Eirlys.” Enki warned and I knew I should heed the warning, so I stayed silent.

“No, you’re wrong, Eirlys.” Ethon spoke back. “You do need my help, because they aren’t going to allow you to just waltz in and destroy their operations. They know me because of my connection to my uncle.” He bit his lip, “If I lead you in as a captured slave, they won’t think anything of it. I want to help and you know that I can do this.”

I looked to Mikala and Enki, who both agreed with Ethon. I looked at Myrtle’s body in Enki’s arms. “Don’t get in my way, Fire-Bearer.” Mikala handed me my gauntlet and whip. I put the gauntlet on, feeling its familiar weight on my wrist. I looked to Ethon, “We’re leaving now.” I walked away from the rest of them, not waiting for Ethon to catch up. Mikala ran up and touched my arm, teleporting us to the outskirts of Raindrop.

When we reappeared, I noticed she had brought Ethon along with. She made the motion to wait, while she vanished to grab something. I looked to Ethon, “You look like hell.”

He looked at me, “Your compliments are as kind as always.”

I crossed my arms, mostly to prevent me from striking him, “Why did you show up, Ethon?”

“Enki told Mikala to grab us because they would need help with finding survivors. Why did you kill Myrtle?” He asked accusingly.

“She asked for Mercy and I gave it to her. The slave boss stabbed her with a blade that was poisoned and as a healer, if she could not heal it, then she was going to bleed out. She kept wincing in pain and she begged for the Mercy… I eased her passing as I promised to do for anyone who asks. Don’t judge me for it.” I looked over at the seemingly peaceful town of Raindrop, “Anyways, you chose your bed, so you don’t have any reason to judge.”

“Did it ever dawn on you that I chose that path so I could get stronger to protect you?!” He practically yelled. “Don’t you think I feel like shit because I had to turn you away to protect you?”

“I don’t need your protection!” I yelled at him. “I’ve done fine on my own and I don’t need you in my life making me feel emotion when I don’t want to!”

Mikala arrived with shackles, but caught the last part of my shout. She walked up to me and punched me in the arm, before she scolded me. She put the shackles on my wrists and handed the lead chain to Ethon. She gave me one last look of ‘knock this crap out’ before she vanished back to Sparks to help with the searching.

“I have to take your whip, because they will know something is up if you leave it on. Since the gauntlet is hidden by the long sleeves of your shirt, you should be able to keep it.” He pulled out the fire pendant I had left on Enki’s table. He put it around my neck and tucked it into my shirt and undershirt. “You want to save those people, then keep your temper in check long enough to find out where they are hiding the slaves.” He attached the neck shackle careful to not get my hair in the way. He removed my whip and attached it to his belt. Before I could stop him, he kissed me on the cheek. “Be careful in there. You won’t be able to use a lot of your magic in close quarters with innocents.”

He pulled me along to the largest building in the town. He opened the door and dragged me inside to the front counter. I saw the same fat boss that had killed Myrtle and wanted to destroy him right there, but a fiery look from Ethon stopped me. “Mr. Kristofer!” He grinned to the large male. “It’s been a while!”

The fat boss looked up and saw Ethon and bounced out of his chair, “Sir Ethon! It has been a long while!” He then noticed me and I saw the look of lust and joy in his eyes. “What’s this present you have with you?”

Ethon pulled me up to the counter. Kristofer grabbed my chin with his large hand and took a long look at my face. “I found her in that town that’s on fire. She tried to run away, but I was able to capture her. That town looked like your handy work, so I figured that I’d sell her to you.”

Kristofer let go of my face as he stepped around the counter to see my entire body. “She’ll do nicely in the Towers, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know, Kris. You see, she’s a fighter and I think she needs to be broken in the mines first.” I took the cue and slammed my heel into Ethon’s toes and tried to kick Kris in the stomach. Four guards came from all around grabbed me and held me so I could not move any of my limbs.

Kris’s face came within inches of mine. “I can see that, but I’d hate to waste a beauty like this in the mines.” I spat on him and watched as he roared in anger. He slapped me across the cheek, dazing me. That just gave me more anger that I used to slam my head into the guard behind me, releasing one of my arms. I elbowed one hold my legs before I was tackled to the ground. Kris just looked at me then to Ethon, “She is a fire cracker. I believe you are right that putting her in the mines will make her beg for a better position and mellow her out.” He pulled out a chain of coins, “Normally, I would pay 200 gold coins for a beauty like her, but because of the attitude adjustment therapy I will have to administer, I can only give you 100 gold.”

“I understand that. She’s a bitch that think she is better than her place. Business is business and the 100 gold is perfect.” I watch the gold exchange hands.

Kris looked at me with more anger than lust in his as he commanded his guards to take me to the mines. They walked me through various corridors until we reached a back room. I saw a group of frightened females cowering in the back corner and knew what they went through. A couple recognized me but were too terrified of the males to say anything.

Kris came through the door and touched me lightly on the face, “Maybe after some time in the mines, you’ll beg me to come back to the surface.” He did not learn the first time, so I spat on him again. He tried to hit me, but I ducked out of the way. When he missed, I could see the wrath pouring out of him. He grabbed me away from the guards and swung me into a wall, pinning me to it with his overly large stomach. “You think that you are better than me?!”

I kicked him in the balls for my answer. He dropped me as he slid to the ground. The guards grabbed me as he screamed in pain, “MINES! NOW!”

I winked to the ladies, knowing that they now had some hope that I was there because of my own choice. One nodded as she comforted her friends. A Teleporter touched one of the guards and we vanished from the town into the dark, dank underground mines.

The guards handed me off to a large Foreman and I pretended to be scared by cowering whenever he talked at me. He gave me wheelbarrow, “Fill it up with dirt, then bring it to the water to be washed. Any gold pieces or jewels are to be given to the Driver in the area. If you find enough to fill up the barrow, then you are released for the day. If you don’t find anything, you don’t eat. Get it?” I nodded sheepishly as I wheeled the barrow towards the deeper interiors of the mine.

I passed by a lot of people I knew form town, but many more that I did not. Those who recognized me either glared in hatred or I saw hope fill their eyes. I reached the deepest part of the mine and stopped next to the Puppy Shifter ad his friend. “So, how do we get out of here?” I asked them quietly, using the sound of work to cover my voice.

“We can’t.” He answered back, as he slammed his pickaxe into the stone in front of him.

“What do you mean?”

“These shackles are spelled to not break and they someone stop our power from working. The Drivers have keys, so they can pull the chains off dead bodies and reuse them.” He answered before he leaned on the handle of the pick. “Why are you here? It’s your fault that this happened.”

“I’m here to fix that problem. Look, I know it’s my fault, but I purposely got captured so that I can try to break everyone out and kill the slave boss.” I picked up a shovel and slammed it into the wall as a Driver came over to us.

“Keep working!” He cracked his whip and tried to hit the Puppy-boy. I stepped between the two, raising my gauntleted arm. The whip wrapped around my arm and when the Driver pulled, I fell. “I see you are new here, so let me fix you.” He pulled me towards him and I felt him trying to pry into my mind. I carefully blanked all of my thoughts as he finally forced it opened. I felt him ravage through my mind, picking up the pieces that I left for him to find. “You’re just a Tracker, you’re not even worth living most of the time.” He kicked me in the stomach and I landed against the wall where we were working. “Get back to work.” He undid his whip from my arm and walked away.

I coughed, trying to get my lungs to accept air. Puppy-boy helped me stand, “How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“We all know you’re the Ice Queen, How did you hide that?”

“I lied. I just had to believe my lie enough for him to accept it as well. I’ve done a lot of travelling and he isn’t the first Telepath to try to pry into my mind.” I looked over to his friend, “Hey, buddy. Wanna help me get this collar off?”

“Didn’t you just hear me? These chains are unbreakable!” Puppy whispered loudly.

People around us were watching as I stepped over to the big guy and he broke the collar off of my neck. I held up my hands and he broke them as well, but I kept a length of chain in place of my where my whip would be. Someone from across the hallway whispered loudly, “How did you do that?”

“I came here willingly and those chains weren’t enchanted. Do you trust me?” I asked the gathering group of people. I counted about six that had come closer. They each nodded and I turned to see Puppy and his buddy were nodding. I put my hand out to the Puppy, “My name is Eirlys, what’s yours?”

“Steven and the big guy is Robert.” He shook my hand. “Do you have a plan?”

I smiled, “Of course I do. I need all of you to get close to the back wall. I’m going to create a mini blizzard and use it to hide you all from the Driver.” I watched as they all pinned to the back wall, kneeling down. I took a deep breath and twirled my hand to create a small spiral of snow. I made the circle wider until the corridor filled with snow. I stepped out of it just in time to see the Driver noticed the growing storm. I stepped back in it, using the whiteout to hide me.

“What’s going on here?!” The Driver yelled as he tried to probe for minds. Since they were kneeling, he could not ‘see’ them. He finally caught my mind and I made sure that all he could hear coming from it was laughter. He took a step back as I took a step forward. “You?!”

I hid the chain behind my back. “Aye. Now, I’ll give you a choice. Give me the keys to the chains and I might let you live, or I’ll take them off your cold dead body.”

He just laughed as he swung his whip towards me. I used the chain to slap the whip away. “I’ve used the whip longer than you have, Driver. Now, since you refused my kind offer, I guess that I will be taking them off your dead body.”

I took a step forward and with each step, he tried to catch me with his whip. Each time he tried, I slapped the whip away with my chain. He kept taking steps back as we reached a different part of the mine.

Slaves all ran from the two of us, especially when another Driver joined the first. “It’s the Ice Bitch!” The second Driver shouted.

“Enough of this play time.” This time when the whip came towards me, I caught it and ripped it from the Driver’s hand. I used both the whip and chain in tandem against the two Drivers. The second driver picked up a nearby slave child and held it in front of him as a shield. I used the whip to grab the keys from the front pocket of the first Driver and flung it behind me to where Steven was waiting.

I heard their chains fall, giving hope to the other slaves. I used the chain and wrapped it around the first Driver’s neck, keeping a close eye on the second Driver. I held the chain out to the side as the Driver tried to untangle it from around his neck. I heard Robert grab the chain from me and yank it, choking the first Driver.

“Drop the child, Driver.” I stepped towards him.

“I’ll kill him. He’s just a slave mutt and isn’t worth anything. Take another step closer and I will kill him!” He yelled. The child screamed and cried.

I saw slaves behind him look at one another. It took just one of the slaves to have courage for the dam to break. I saw a Monkey climb above the Driver without his knowledge. I smiled as I iced up the area under his feet. “Try to run, Driver. You have nowhere to go.” I heard bones crush as Robert killed the first Driver.

The second tried to turn, but he lost his footing on the ice. The Monkey grabbed the child as the Driver fell to the ground. The other slaves gathered around him, “Stop.” I stopped them from killing him. “Blood doesn’t belong on your hands. It’s my fault that this happened to I’ll take the soul scars for these kills.” I looked to Robert, “I wasn’t planning on you killing the first one. I’m sorry.” I turned back to the second Driver who tried to scramble off the ice.

I made sure that the Monkey and child were back on the ground, before I used the Ice to impale him between the floor and ceiling. I looked to the new batch of slaves who all just stared at me. I grabbed the keys from the second Driver’s pocket and threw them to them.

Steven ran up to me, “What’s the plan?”

“Do you all know where the entrance is?”

“Teleporters have to have open air to appear, so we all entered through the main entrance.”

“I’ll take care of the Drivers, if you can get the others out.”

“We can help!” Another slave spoke up. “It’s about time that we stood up to them!”

I heard a yell of cheer as people raise their pick axes into the air. “No.” I spoke calmly. “I need you all to help get the other slaves out. I don’t know where all of the tunnels are, so I am going to call the Drivers to me outside the entrance. I think going after the Foreman will get all of them to leave their areas and their slaves open. Please, I’m begging all of you, get the other slaves out first, because you all are my first priority.” I thought of something, “How many entrances are there?”

A small voice piped up, “I’ve seen the back entrance.”

I grinned, “Get everyone out through the back entrance. Does anyone know Telepathy?”

The same small voice came into my mind. I searched and found the maybe five year old girl covered in dirt and dust. She was barefoot and her white dress was tattered and dirty. I knelt down her to level, “I need you to do me a huge favor, little one.” I smiled sweetly, “I need you to show these fine people where that other entrance is and lead them to safety. After all of the slaves have escaped, please let me know so I don’t get innocent people hurt.”

Steven touched my shoulder, “We’ll take care of this.” He barked orders to the other slaves, sending them down to different areas of the mine. He turned back to me once we were the only ones left from the group, “What are you planning?”

I flashed a bright smile at him, “I’m going to collapse the mines and all of the Drivers and Foreman in it.”

He took a step back, “Won’t you get caught in the collapse?”

I shrugged, “Guess I’ll find out.” I grabbed his sleeve, “I’ll crack the whip when I get all of them near me.”

He nodded. “You’re crazy…” He whispered as he and Robert ran towards another part of the mines.

I raced towards the entrance of the mines, passing a few Drivers along the way. They tried to catch me, but I created a ball of Ice around me. I slid as I reached the entrance of the mines. I slammed into the Foreman and knocked him into a wall.

He called for his Drivers as I pulled the Ice and reshaped it into a wall at the entrance blocking myself and the others in. I could have been on the outside of the wall, but I needed to buy time for the other slaves to escape.

“Is this all you have to fight me?”

The Foreman yelled, “I’m sure that my Drivers and I can kill you without getting the boss involved.”

I cracked my newly acquired whip on the ground, letting the sound echo through the mines. “Then come and get me.” I put up another Ice wall blocking off the rest of the tunnels from this area.

There were only seven of the Drivers and one Foreman, but they all surged towards me at once. The Foreman’s magic was revealed as he created ropes that bound my legs and arms. I hardened my body with a couple layers of Ice. I just needed to buy time, and to conserve magic. I knew that I had already used up a lot more to create the walls as thick as I did.

One of them picked me up by the collar of my shirt and slammed me into a nearby wall. Dirt fell on top of me, but the ice armor helped to lessen the blow. I felt a kick to the stomach, but the Driver who did it broke his toe from the layer of ice.

Another tried to pry my mind open as the Foreman grabbed me and slammed me into the same wall as before. I could not concentrate on both the Ice and the attack on my mind and had to let one give. I let the Driver into my mind, letting him see the rage that I was using to help me out. He could not see the plan for the slaves because I put the anger from heartbreak in the forefront of my thoughts.

“Not so tough, now are you?” The Foreman slammed my back into the wall of ice. “What did you hope to get out of this? If you wanted to die so badly, I could have done that without disrupting the Drivers.” I spat on him as he dropped me onto the ground.

“Sir!” The Driver who invaded my mind shouted as I heard the little girl.

“All safe.” I heard the little girl’s voice, as I curled up into a small ball.

I looked at all of them, “Game over.” I touched the ground and pulled all of the ground water that seeped into the mines and froze it. I used all of my power to freeze every little bit of water, creating fissures in the stone.

“She’s going to collapse the mines!” The Driver yelled to the Foreman.

The Foreman’s foot kicked me into the stomach hard, cracking the ice armor. I pushed the last bit of my power to widen the fissures and saw some of the ceilings start to collapse. I pushed myself as close to the ice wall as possible, cradling my head from the falling rocks. I heard screams and shouts as the Drivers and the Foreman were killed in by the rocks. I felt something warm against my back, before I was pulled through the wall by the back collar of my shirt.

I was barely saved by whoever pulled me through the Ice. I looked to see who saved me and was thankful it was Ethon. I knew I drained my magic and if it had been an enemy, then I would not have been able to fight back. He hugged me tightly as we watched the mines collapse through the window of the ice.

He untied my hands and feet before helping me stand up. “You idiot!” He yelled at me.

“What? It worked?” I tried to smile, but the glares I got from Mikala, Enki and Ethon were enough to sober me up. “Sorry.” I looked at the ground.

I heard a bunch of voices coming from around the bend of the mountain. I recognized the sound of a puppy as Steven in his dog form ran up to me. I knelt down and hugged him tightly. He was too excited to change back into a person. Others ran around the bend and the people kept coming until I stood up, Steven finally getting his bearings to change back. The little girl ran up to me and hugged my leg. I picked her up and looked at the crowd of people. Steven spoke first, “You did it. I don’t know how, but you got all of the slaves out and the mines are destroyed.” He put his arms open, “Jessie, let the Ice Queen breathe.” I handed the little girl over to him.

I looked back to Ethon, Mikala and Enki, “See? All worked out well.”

“You almost died, Eirlys! How is that working out well?!” Ethon grabbed my shoulders and let me have the full blast of his emotions. “If we weren’t here, then you would have died!”

I looked over to Era, “Guess your boyfriend here took away your wish.”

Ethon slapped me hard on the face, “Damnit, Eirlys. This isn’t a joke.”

The slap sobered me up, “You’re right. It’s not a joke, but I couldn’t think of any other way to kill them without anybody else getting hurt. I told them before we started that the blood belongs on my hands because I was the reason they were captured in the first place. I figured that if I died, then that would be my retribution for everything I have done.” I took a step away from him. “As it stands, we still have to get the women who are in that bastard’s manor and to kill him.”

“Can you even make a snowflake?” Enki crossed his arms, knowing that I was out of magic.

I put my hand out and created half of a snowflake. “Half of one counts, right? Anyways, I don’t need magic to kill someone.” I looked to Steven and Robert, “Do you have anyone who can help?”

They looked to each other and both raised their hands. “We can help.”

Another Shifter stepped forward, “Actually, Steven you need to take up your mantle as the Guildleader, since the last one was killed. She was killed for defying the slave boss before we were sent here. She has been grooming him as her heir for years now, so he needs to step into that role. Just as Robert needs to step into the role of his guard.” This new Shifter stepped up to me, “I am Clove and I’ll go with you to extinguish this bastard.”

I shook his hand, “Eirlys.” I looked to Steven, “Why in the hell did you risk finding me in the deserted town if you’re next in line?!”

He grinned, “I guess you’ve never had a rebellious streak to you.” I could taste the thick sarcasm in the tone of his voice.

I let go of Clove’s hand, “I hope that you are ready.” My legs gave over from under me and both Clove and Ethon caught me. Ethon picked me up in his arms and just looked at me. “Fine then, I’ll rest while someone else has all the fun.”

“Taking someone’s life isn’t supposed to be enjoyable.” Ethon scolded.

I just grinned as I felt the last of my energy give out, “Actually, depending on who is dying, it can be a blast.” Before he could answer, I blacked out.

 

Chapter 06

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