Chapter 16: The Game You’re Playing
The smell of the morning on hard dark wood was a smell Kiara had never smelled before. A delightful smell, like an everlasting air freshener, that made sleeping in the large wooden room an event she would always remember. The hard floor had been hell on her back, and the lack of a pillow left her neck with a kink, but the smell that subtly lofted through the air, made it possible for her to ignore the pain as the morning sun cut through cracks in the wood, and woke her with a warm welcome. She stood and stretched, and ignored the pain, as she walked to a hole in the wall, and looked down to the ground below, marveling the beauty she hadn’t seen in the night. The bounty of many colorful flora and fungi that lined the road her and the others had walked, some taken by the embrace of the morning glow, and others hiding in the caverns of trees. It was a beautiful sight that she had never seen before, never seen in the massive metropolis she grew up in, or at least, never seen like this. A sight that could inspire her to paint if she knew how, but instead had her turning to the others to ask if she’d ever see a sight like this in her travels again. That was when she noticed it. That was when she noticed that although last night she had been a little uncomfortable lying inside the cramp space, this morning she had all the freedom in the world, as she rose and had enough space to stretch out.
“Where did everyone go?” She wondered aloud, and felt her heart jump as she heard something dig into the tree outside.
She went to the opening to the room and looked down to the ground below, where she saw a person she hadn’t seen before, but was sure she could recognize. It was a woman in a white blouse that bared her midriff, and a short sash like skirt, that was slit on one side. Her hair was blond short and curly and brown eyes greeted Kiara as she looked down, with a bit of ill–intent, and a lot of impress.
“Who are you?!” She exclaimed, cautious that this was some sort of trap.
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know girl, not after what you did.” The woman hissed back, and for a moment Kiara’s head ached as she had a flash from the night before. A flash that showed her the woman below, as her mouth moved and a name came to her head.
“You’re… Cammie.” She said, and the woman’s eyes narrowed with disgust as they confirmed the recollection. “Where are the others?!” Kiara roared and the woman’s eyes went wide with surprise.
“So this is the game you’re playing. That must be how you slept so well, you convinced yourself to forget everything you did.” She said, and again Kiara’s head ached, but this time what flashed in her mind, was something that was blurred out. “Oh don’t worry, I’ll remind you. Last night my team and I attacked, and you and your friends decided to fight back.” She said and Kiara could see the image now.
It flashed for only a second, but in that second, she saw a lot. She saw an arrow zip into the tree house, and felt her body be pushed as Keigo grabbed her and Diana grabbed Parlia, and with Danson, they jumped from the tree house before it exploded. They fell to the ground below, and that was when Cammie first appeared and Diana’s green eyes turned up with rage as she demanded the woman’s name. The next scene was something Kiara had seen before, but the one that followed was blurred out again, forcing her to pay heed.
“That was when we attacked you all. Vanessa was right though, it would have been better to separate you, because with you all working together we didn’t have a chance. The other three did well pushing us all back, and they forced us to use our trump card, that was where you came in.” The recap went on and the image became clear as Kiara saw Danson Keigo and Diana, spring into action. She saw the young male and his lover shoot forward as Danson summoned a wall of ice and stopped a hail of arrows. She saw Diana punch the woman in the purple tunic, and saw swift moves as Keigo delivered two kicks to two men. Literally, they were pushing Cammie’s troops back, as the young couple juggled their opponents, and when they could go back no more, one of the males called out and Cammie knew what she had to do. The next scene blurred.
“So I summoned our weapon and we pushed your friends back. They couldn’t fight, and that girl couldn’t fight, so it was all up to you.” Cammie said, and Kiara saw. She saw the dark green creature with long arms, rise from a magic circle drawn on the ground, and she watched Keigo and Diana charge it before its massive arms knocked the back. They rose and prepared to charge again, but the beast quickly knocked them down, and proceeded toward Danson and herself. The elf conjured his ice cannon, and froze the beast at its feet before conjuring a sword as well and jumping through the air. Kiara had thought that would be where the fight would end, but the monsters mouth came open, and with a powerful roar, it sent Danson flying back. That was when she saw the hopelessness set in. The fear that if those three couldn’t do it she didn’t have a chance herself, and that was when she remembered what Parlia had said, and remember what she should have done before.
“You blew me away first with a powerful spell, but I found Vanessa before she died and I learned what you did next. I’ve seen plenty of people with red eyes before, but I’ve never heard of them glowing. Glowing like yours did when you used your fire magic and completely roasted my beast. She said you looked toward your friends like they should be happy for what they saw, but then…”
Then she saw a scene she had never wanted to see again. The look of terror in their eyes, the look that made her want to run away, but this time she couldn’t do it as the fires raged up and completely engulfed them. It engulfed the elf, the redhead, and the boy with unkempt hair, and engulfed the girl that kissed her and their enemies as well. Their screams scared Kiara as they echoed through the woods, and she tried to calm the flames, but they only raged more and left her to fall to her knees.
“Vanessa had barely managed to get away, but when I found her I couldn’t believe what I saw. You burned her beyond recognition, and put her in an eternal nightmare. I put her out of her misery, and promised her that I’d definitely get revenge. Revenge for her, and those poor saps that trusted you.” Cammie said and Kiara was too destroyed to say anything in response, as her mind tortured her with the suppressed memories. “You should make this easy for yourself, and just die.” She said and Kiara let out a wail as her horrors claimed her mind.
“Fine…” She submitted to the suggestion, but still felt it wasn’t right. “I… can’t go on… I can’t control it anymore…” She shuddered at the thought, but still felt something trying to pull her away.
“Kiara!” A voice rang out, and she turned to see specters standing against the wall. “Kiara what the hell are you doing? Get up and kick that woman’s ass!” The specter spoke with Taylor’s voice, and made Kiara wipe her face.
“This is why you can’t be afraid, Kiara.” Another spoke with Parlia’s voice. “If you fear it, it’ll overwhelm you. Your magic won’t hurt you though; it only wants to protect you.” She explained but Kiara still held herself, as a specter walked over and placed its hand on her shoulder.
“Listen sweetie, I’m still mad at you for running away but do what you have to do. Beat that woman into the ground, make graves for your friends, and return to me okay, so that I can properly punish you and give you a hug!” The specter spoke with the voice of her mother, and the strength that her mother always had, shined through as Kiara took to her feet and used her gales to jump to the ground below.
Without touching her pendant, her hands were ablaze, and although she could feel their heat in her eyes, her heart did not waver as she steeled her mind again.
“I won’t die!” She exclaimed. “I’m sorry to Danson, Diana, Keigo, and Parlia, but I can’t die here. I have to see my family again, I have to see my friends again, and when I see them and apologize for running away, I’ll repent for what I did to others as well.”
“Humph, just like a criminal to try to escape their crimes!” Cammie roared but Kiara did not waver. “Just like a criminal to…” The woman repeated, and this time Kiara did waver as the world around her became smoky and began to fade away.
Now the time was night and Cammie still stood in front of her, but the time of day wasn’t the only thing that changed as she saw the woman in the purple tunic standing a ways back as well. She could feel something soothing flow up her back, and turned to Parlia, focused with glowing hands, then turned to her right and saw Diana, happy to see she was back as well.
“Good to see that you’re finally awake, Kiara.” Diana said, and Kiara shook her head.
“An illusion, one of their teammates can use illusions and they waited for us to fall asleep so that we’d be more susceptible to them. “ Diana explained and Kiara turned to Cammie as she heard her scoff.
“So even she managed to break free huh? I was thinking that since she doesn’t have a bounty she’d break free first but it looks like you have a lot of demons, girl.” She said, and Kiara’s eyes turned sharp. “Someone like you must be pathetic, so weak, yet pretending to be so strong. You’re going to fail you know? You can pretend you can help, but thanks to you every one of your friends is going to-.” The woman’s rant was cut short as Diana shot forward and delivered a strong hit to her face.
“Kiara, I’m sick of hearing them talk. What say you and I finish them off?” Diana turned back to her, and something became apparent to Kiara, as she saw the bruises and realized Diana was fighting alone to keep her safe.
“Yeah,” Kiara said as she balled her fist at her side. “Let’s!” She exclaimed as her hands ignited as they did in her dream, and she and Diana charged forward as they entered battle once again…
[Chapter 16 ends…]