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Darkness Rising

 
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Sira
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:40 pm    Post subject: Darkness Rising Reply with quote

It had been days and Sira still couldn't get the stench of Braz's blood out of her nose.

Early morning mist clung closely to the earth so that she could barely make out the retaining pool outside her house even though she stood not six feet away. She hadn't been back to her place since the night that everything went wrong. When... it happened. It wasn't so much that she minded staying at Braz's place, she didn't mind that he needed her so much right now that she barely had time to think...

She turned from the window looking out to finally cross to the circular stairs leading down into the living space. Bryn wasn't with her and that alone felt odd. This place was supposed to be her castle and look at how she'd abandoned it so soon. So soon! Not completely, but she could feel her heart being tugged that way.

There was so much blood. Too much blood for one human to lose all at once, but Braz had. Sira clung to him while he slipped away. The man's pulse had dwindled to nothing and he turned grey. There was no mind for her to touch to talk to, not anymore. A man she didn't know stood nearby, watching impassively.

"Tell him everything you want him to know now before he is taken." He had told her.


The memory was so fresh that every time it floated up she was reliving it again. Her lack of dreams recently had been a small blessing, because at least at night she got some small relief.

Shaking, she continued around the circular hallway. The kitchen was her first stop so she could get some of her tea. There was coffee, but she really preferred her spiced blend. A quick peek in the fridge told her she was right. There was barely anything in there to begin with, so nothing to really throw away.

She continued from the kitchen to peek into the pantry, just to make sure everything was in place, then on to her bedroom. Clothes. She needed a few more items to wear. There was a duffel in her closet that she started stuffing clothes into without really paying attention to what she was grabbing.

That only took her a few moments. Her closet was fairly organized, her house pretty clean. She hadn't quite gotten it to the 'lived in' feeling yet. No useless clutter. She'd been about to leave her room when something on her night stand caught her eye. A little blue stone on a delicate silver chain.

For a moment she couldn't remember leaving it there. But she must have, right? Braz was the only other person who could get into the house right now and when would he have the time?

Never one for jewelry, Sira would have turned to leave the piece where it was. Something made her cross the room to pick it up.

"Mama, tell me a story."

Sira gave a start at the voice next to her. Her thoughts had been words away from the tiny apartment bathroom and the child splashing around in the tub. She was seated on the floor, the magazine she’d been thumbing through had fallen out of her lap. Bubbles must have gotten on the open pages, as they seemed too blurry to read.

“Mamaaa…” Whined the boy in the tub. He couldn’t be any older than five or six. He’d grown bored of his games with his boats and action figures. His black hair was worked into a faux hawk with soap and the remnants of a bubble bear still clung to his chin.

She couldn’t help but smile at the pleading, puppy dog eyes he’d fixed her with. They were a soft honey brown, a little more gold than her own. Not for the first time she thought to herself that her son was going to be quite the lady killer when he grew up.

Her son. She frowned a little at the boy.

“James.” Yes, that was his name. That was the name she and Liam had decided on if they ever had a boy.

He gave her such a look of concern. She wanted nothing more than to reassure him that everything was okay, even though none of this was right.

The world began to fade.


Sira gasped and dropped the necklace. What the hell was that memory? She did have a child! She'd... that had never happened. She'd lost the baby. That had when she'd confessed to Liam about her abilities.

It must be... the stress. That's it. She was just so stressed out. Her mind was just summoning up weird thoughts.

She fled the room, grabbing her bag on the way. She didn't need to be battling against her own mind right now, not with everything going on. Not with...

A corner of her eyelid fluttered, her eyes darting nervously to the suited man. She didn't care about the computer at the moment, she cared about her dying boyfriend. And being overheard saying what could be her final words to him. Words that she was regretting not saying another time. She swallowed thickly and leaned in towards Braz so that her lips tickled his ear.

"Listen up you big stubborn jerk," she started in hushes tones, though she was certain Gabriel over there could here. He wasn't that far away. "...You have to come back to me. I'm not done with you yet. You need to come back to me because... I need to tell you..."

There wasn't much lower her voice could get, but she tried. "I need to tell you that... I..." Christ, why did it have to be like this? Her hand sought out his even though he couldn't squeeze it back.

"I... love you."


Moments later she had let him go and the shadows had taken him. She didn't know where they had gone or what was going on, just that it was something that she didn't understand. Gabriel had done a very poor job of explaining it to her and she hadn't asked Braz when he was... brought back.

The man who had left her was not the man who came back. Not completely.

Sira left the house with a feeling that it'd be some time before she'd return.

There was too much web left to unravel.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was good. Not going into the city so much. Her wallet wasn't so thankful, but she didn't let Braz know how much she was hurting. She'd set up a small, permanent clinic down in the gypsy camp. Gawain said more and more of them had opted to just stay rather than their usual drifting. That was good, too, the clinic. It was a paltry sum compared to what she usually made, but it was good.

Yeah. Good.

And maybe a little boring. Okay. A lot boring.

Sira wasn't built to be idle. She'd always been a very active girl from the time she could walk. The older she got, the worse the restless feeling inside her got. She wasn't meant to sit still. She just wasn't.

Ever since Braz's... transformation... She'd been focusing all of her energy onto that. Onto him. It scared her sometimes, looking at him and realizing the depth of her feelings. The intensity. Sometimes she still wondered if all of that was her own feelings... How much of it could she be getting from him?

She hadn't been practicing. She hadn't been working on her mental shields much and had reverted to her old method of trying to push it all out or drink it all away. She hadn't told Braz how bad it'd been getting, though she suspected he knew something was up. He had his own demons to battle right now. He didn't need to shoulder hers as well.

They had been staying at Braz's house for the most part, but Sira would spend a few nights back at her house to seek out the peace and quiet. And to drink herself into a stupor with no prying eyes other than Bryn and maybe Loa.

It was cold out there on her little stone deck up against the retaining pond. All of the fish were no where to be seen, probably dug down into the mud to keep warm against the coming cold. Bryn sat nearby, ever her watchful companion. At the moment he was napping.

Sira tried again. She had her hands up in front of her, trying to repeat something she'd done by accident weeks ago. Around Halloween time. It'd scared the hell out of her, thank god Braz hadn't been around to see it, but she'd done it. So she knew she could do it again.

At first she stared at the blank space between her hands. Nothing. There was nothing there, nothing but air. But that wasn't true, there was something there. She just didn't know how to see it.

She closed her eyes. She tried to slow her breathing, but there was nothing she could do about her racing heart. She'd been at this for almost an hour with no results so far. But she was determined.

In her mind she tried to summon up the image of her sitting there. Tried to picture herself just as she was. This had never been an easy exercise for her. She hated to look at herself, think about herself. It made her edgy and uncomfortable. Right then it also made her feel patently silly.

It took several minutes for her to actually focus on a clear picture of herself. And then she added flame. Just a droplet of fire dancing between her hands. She focused her energy there, on that fire.

In her body, she could feel the warmth. Her eyes popped open and there it was! A tiny tendril of flame just as she had seen it. She laughed triumphantly, but the flame sputtered and she stopped abruptly.

"Oh no no no... don't go out," she begged it. She tried to add a little more oomph to make it more stable.

"You know, it's dangerous playing with fire."

Sira's head shot up and she stared at the man standing on the other side of her pond. Her brows knit together.

"You?"
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was too much blood.

Sira was certain that it wasn't supposed to bleed that much. When the pain woke her up out of a sound sleep she knew what was happening. She'd known before she even woke up. It was right there in her dream moments before the first twinge hit.

There was blood in the bed when she woke up. It had dripped all along the trail as she struggled to get to the bathroom. She'd barely managed to get inside the room when the waves of pain radiating from her abdomen hit with full force. Clutching to the counter was all that kept her on her feet, and not for long. Once she had crumpled to the floor there was nothing she could do but try to ride it out.

The worst of it only took about an hour. That was an hour where she was curled up in agony on the cold tiled floor. When the pain began to ebb into something more manageable she became aware of the sticky liquid that'd run down her legs and pooled on the floor. Slowly she started to move so that she could try and get onto the side of the tub. It took a couple of attempts to get herself up, and she was almost knocked back to the floor when a fresh cramp hit. This time she was aware of the rush of warmth between her legs.

She'd only just found out she was pregnant a few days before. There was still a collection of tests in her trash because she'd had to triple check the results. Liam was away on business and wasn't due back until the next day. She'd been planning on telling him then. She'd have to call her obstetrician to change her appointment from an ultrasound to a...

Sira buried her face into her hands. She'd shed a few tears when the miscarriage had begun, but those had been from the pain. Now the sobs that wracked through her were for the life she'd lost. Her husband was going to be so disappointed. She wanted to get through her last exams and start working as a fully licensed doctor before they started a family, but Liam wanted kids sooner. Another year, maybe two, she'd told him.

Right then she needed to get to her phone. There was too much blood for how early into her pregnancy she could have been.

Shakily, she got up to her feet. There was a trail of smeared blood from where she'd fallen to the tub. She was too unsteady to completely avoid it, and as horrible as it was, she had to step through it. Each time her foot came in contact with the slick ichor she cringed. It looked like a murder scene.

The floor outside the bathroom leading through her bedroom to her bed wasn't much better. Drips and splatters dotted the hardwood. She was suddenly glad Liam hadn't listened to her when she said she wanted carpet. The white sheets on the bed... the comforter. Oh god, did it seep into the mattress? Her night gown was ruined...

Suddenly dizzy, she sunk onto the edge of the bed. The world spun and she was only vaguely aware of sliding off the side of the bed. Hitting the floor. The world went black.

"Sira. Wake up."

Sira groaned. She was in so much pain. Sleep took it away.

"Sira, you have to wake up now."

Who was that anyway? She didn't recognize the voice. How had he gotten into her apartment?

"Sira!"

That was a different voice. She knew this voice, it was Liam. But Liam wasn't supposed to be home yet. Suddenly there were hands on her shoulders, shaking her. Groggy, she opened up her eyes.

Sure enough, her husband was kneeling over her and looking very worried. He was still speaking, but she was focused on another face, an unfamiliar man leaning over his shoulder to peer down at her as well. Another shake from Liam, a blink, and he was gone.

There had to be other times he'd been there that she didn't recall. For so long he'd just been a voice in the darkness of her dreams that she only remembered when it was important. Prior to him showing up at her new house in Rhy'Din, she would have sworn the first time she had seen him was when he'd given her that feather in her dream. The one she'd told Lexius about what seemed like a lifetime ago now.

In that moment, with the light of the fire between her hands flickering across her face, she was certain she'd known this man all her life.

"It's not time yet, Sira," he told her. "You can't let go yet." He'd told her those same words in her dream before she'd lost James. It was surreal to hear them again so many years later.

The same moment she lost control of the fire the man disappeared. The flames flickered out when she took a step forward, and he was gone.

"Wait!" She cried out across the water. "Who are you?"

Silence answered.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Braz was asleep. Whatever the "brothers" had done to him in that cellar dungeon where they kept him, he was still recovering from. He was hit with some pretty heavy duty sedatives during his attempt at escape when she and Stitch had helped them free. The darts had contained enough to take down several elephants--she was surprised the doses didn't kill the man. He had barely been conscious since they had gotten back by way of the horrible shadowy paths Stitch took them. Gabriel still slumbered as well, and Stitch had gone to pass out from the strain of transporting so many at once.

There was blood on Sira's clothes. Blood from a man that Stitch had killed in close proximity to her. It hadn't bothered her at all, though she mused quietly that she should probably soak the garments now so it wouldn't set. Or maybe she'd just throw them away. They weren't exactly anything she had any attachment too. She'd changed into a tee shirt and shorts she'd pilfered from one of the dressers in the room that apparently had been Braz's at one point. Her eyes skimmed over the pictures. Family photos framed, smiling faces that she didn't recognize. Happy moments of a past that the man suffering on the bed had never shared.

They mattered to her about as much as the blood on her clothes. Which is to say very little. Should it have bothered her? Of course the blood didn't. She had gone into those tunnels knowing that people could die down there. One of those bodies down there was never going to move thanks to a bullet from her gun. She had been there to save two lives in particular and those men--and women--had been in the way. If she had not acted then they may have killed her or the others. There was a part of her that was glad there were two who had not been forced to give up their lives. The pair in the security room would wake up to chaos and have no memory of it happening.

She brushed her fingers over one of the photos without her eyes ever adjusting on the image. For some reason she felt like she was prying. They had spoken a little of family, of course. She knew some details, but others had been vague. She hadn’t asked. He hadn’t told. There was so much they really didn’t know about each other.

It probably should have bothered her. Instead she felt numb. If she really wanted to know more about him she could just ask. So why didn’t she?

A sound behind her made her turn. Braz was thrashing again in his sleep, fighting against the sedatives coursing through his system. He groaned, muttered out some curses, and then went still again. He’d be awake soon, she was sure.

She swallowed thickly and turned away again, to idly examine the room without really seeing it. Anger swelled within her. A raging fire burning in her blood. She was angry at him. She was angry about so many things that had been happening. She was angry that he kept her at arms length about things going on. His work, his duties. He didn’t want her to get involved. He worried about her safety. A sentiment his brothers seemed to share. Stitch hadn’t wanted her to go with him at all. Worried that Braz would be mad she was involved.
She clenched her fists at her side. Now that bothered her. That bothered her a lot. She told Lexius that she wouldn’t go after the Thorne brothers, that she’d keep her distance. At least in part because Braz would disapprove. The damn elf had asked her a question that bothered her, too. Did she want a mate like that? His choice of words had amused her, but the question poked at a sore spot.

She had told Braz that she loved him. Did she really? Or was she so afraid that he was going to die that it had just slipped out.

Another noise behind her drew her attention away from the turmoil in her mind. And in her heart.

Now wasn’t the time to find those answers.
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Life flows on.

Everything had been rather quiet since Stitch and Sira had rescued Braz and Gabriel. She wasn't even really sure what had happened down there, how they had gotten caught. Once she was certain they were going to be okay she had detached. Drifted away and let them do their thing. It was fairly clear to her that they didn't want her involved.

So she went on with her life. What else could she do? They didn't trust her enough to be capable. They worried too much that she would just get hurt. She knew what that meant: they thought she would just get in the way. She would be a problem.

In the little clinic they had set up for her at the camp, she wasn't a problem. It had been a kind gesture from a people trying to find their place in the universe and willing to let her into their fold. So long as she more or less avoided their leader, Davies, and that damn palm reader. The former seemed amenable to letting Sira do her thing without much interference, though every once in a while she was certain she caught a smug smile shot her way. The girl with the multi-faceted eyes seemed content to avoid her completely.

This was familiar to her. Going through the motions of the day in a little wagon set up with an exam table, her instruments, and almost everything she'd need for almost every common ailment. People would line up outside on the little benches provided and she saw about ten or so patients a day. Many would be new faces as they gypsy camp was always changing, drifters flowing through or the lost and wayward drawn in before they sought their own path. Back in New York they would sometimes get Romani into the clinic on free days. These folk reminded her of those, though on the surface they didn't seem quite so closed off.

"Why did you come?" Braz had asked her.

"Why wouldn't I?"


The thought invaded her mind while she was counting through her supplies. They were getting low. Especially the syringes. She had been surprised at how many people were diabetic. It had been very difficult to convince some from more primitive world that their "sugar sickness" could be managed. It wasn't the death sentence it normally was.

As much as she tried to ignore the memory it kept pressing back in. Braz asking her that when he'd found her at the inn rankled. It brought back a flutter of anger that seized her heart.

This time, though, it did more than make her want to break a few dishes. A burning pain radiated from her chest, like there was hot metal searing her skin. She grabbed at her shirt to pull it away from her chest, doubling over with her other hand clutching at the counter.

It only lasted a minute, but by the time the pain ebbed away she found herself on her knees, panting. Then it was gone and life flowed on.

She didn't have a very good answer for one of her patients who she saw later when they asked why there was a hand shaped scorch mark on the counter.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Control is a funny thing. It was something that Sira had struggled with ever since her mental powers had started to get stronger--back in med school. She'd had a short few years where she had managed some semblance of control. Between her new marriage and school she didn't have time to focus on her burgeoning powers. Looking back she could guess that the structure and routine of her life helped keep her mind in order.

After the miscarriage. After what they did to her in those rooms. Control had been a luxury.

The wild feeling she felt didn't go away after she was free. That was a frantic couple of years where she had so little control over anything that she kept what she did closed in an iron fist. Can't give an inch, because then everything would be lost. Every time she thought she had things worked out, settled, in their places... Everything went awry.

"I don't want to be with someone who is lost without me."

Maybe it had been a harsh way of breaking up. It was the truth. The more she reflected on that night, the more she realized how lost she felt within their relationship. Before Braz's change things had been different. He had been in control himself. Then the change. Then he was wild, too. She was the one who had to be stable for the both of them. That was not what she wanted. She couldn't trust him, because he didn't trust in her.

Once it was done she realized something else: A lightness. A freedom she hadn't noticed was missing.

She felt more in control than she had in years. Less burdened by the tangle in her mind. With the conflict gone from her heart she could finally breathe.

In the camp she was surrounded by humans. Regular, unshielded humans for the most part. Some were lycanthropes, mostly werewolves. Most didn't need her services, but it seemed that some didn't heal as quickly as the others. Even their emotions and thoughts were open to her, even though they were often so snarled and wild she couldn't get a good sense of them.

It didn't bother her so much to be exposed to the constant bombardment of intrusive emotions. The familiar prickle in the back of her mind sometimes more of a comfort than the threat that it once had been. She could deal with the surge she'd get when she'd touch someone to treat them--or what often happened in the clinic, was when they touched her unexpectedly. A hand on the shoulder, a hand shake, even a hug. It was all getting easier.

The pains in her chest were coming more often. The scaled seal on her chest growing more and more corrupted. Now half of the prismatic scales were burnt black with no signs of stopping. What it would mean when it was all charred she didn't know.

It should have scared her, not knowing. Perhaps it was because now she felt she had the opportunity to figured it out. She had pushed her problems to the wayside.

Standing there in her kitchen she waited for the kettle on the stove to boil, her eyes fixed on the "skylight" that looked into the bottom of the retaining pool above. She could see the shadowy dart of fish swimming through the murk. The radio she'd finally gotten around to setting up was softly playing classic music. It was such a peaceful moment.

Then Bryn started barking and she rushed after him up the stairs.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were times when Sira questioned whether or not the wards around her house actually worked. She cursed Bryn’s training a little as she raced up the stairs after him. That was his alarm bark and that big fluffball could really haul when he wanted to. It had happened a few times that he alerted to some presence outside. As she reached the top riser she was really hoping it was just another of Rhydin’s strange creatures roaming through the property and not something worse.

The barking had stopped by the time she stepped through the doorless stone arch and into the daylight. The big mountain dog was sniffing at a leather wrapped bundle sitting on the stone patio near the main door. Sira stepped out a little farther, her eyes frantically scanning the treeline. At least she’d had the presence of mind to keep the trees trimmed back far enough from the house and retaining pond to have a decent line of sight.

All was silent. All was still. The dog had calmed.

So where had the package come from?

She turned slowly after one quick sweeping look to step cautiously over to the bundle. It was a little on the large size, definitely not something easily transported. When she gave it a nudge with her foot. The package was lighter than she expected.

Shooing Bryn away a little she settled into an easy crouch, reaching out to carefully work at the ties on the bundle to work them free. When the leather fell away and she saw what was inside she let out a quiet gasp and stood. This time when she looked around it was to examine the skies, but they were clear as well.

Puzzled, she looked down at the bundle again and lowered herself, this time to a kneel. She worked the leather open carefully and reverently to reveal the neat assortment of bones inside. She had a couple of guesses who would give her bones, and since Oriax had disappeared, it could only have been Ciar.

It was immediately obvious to her when she saw them that they belonged to a being the flew. She hadn’t been expecting another offering of dead or bones after the ‘snake-thing’ the fey had given her before. This… this was something else entirely.

Once she had pulled the leather as flat as she could, her brows drawing inward. The leather was clearly skin from some humanoid, with a little more limbs than she would have liked to see. It at least wasn’t juicy, which was another puzzle. Ciar’s last gift had been more whole than this.

She ignored the skin to move on to the bones. Light and hollow they could belong only to something that couldn’t cope with extra weight. It took her a little while to start to sort out the bones, but once she started recognizing some of the pieces, the puzzle started to become clearer.

It took hours for her to assemble all of the bones together into what she was certain was the correct order. A few times she had to run into the house--once to pull the tea kettle off, which had boiled away all of its water in her distraction--but she just barely managed to finish before the sun had set completely.

In the fading light she stood back with her hands on her hips to examine the wings in their full glory, with the skin stretched out in between where it ‘belonged’. It was a curious thing. A huge wingspan, needed to carry a human-sized being of no marginal height. It was a marvelous gift that she knew was going to take days more to study. She itched to start looking at some of the bones that looked like they had been broken and healed--more than once.

While she was taking some pictures of the set put together it occurred to her that she knew one being who had wings like this. More bat than bird, impressively large. There wasn’t any wing leather for her to be sure but…

“Is this you?” she asked the wings, frowning. No. They couldn’t be Ciar’s.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(This post is the aftermath/continuation of this thread)

Every bone in her body was broken. Sira lay on the gravel path gasping for breath with lungs that were refusing to work correctly. Had one collapsed? Both? Punctured? She must have at least one broken rib, even just that could making breathing feel nearly impossible. There was no way with all of the pain that she was in that she could possibly survive.

But was James okay? Where was he…?

Her eyes opened and the first thing she noticed was the ceiling above her bed. The longer she lay there, puzzled, the more the pain in her body ebbed away. Not entirely. When she finally summoned the mental strength to move, she noticed she ached from head to toe. She cautiously raised a hand to feel at her chest, her sternum, her collarbone, her neck. Time ticked by and she was certain nothing was actually broken. Nothing physical, at least.

Everything flooded back. Many months back, almost a lifetime ago, she’d had a flash of the dreams she hadn’t been able to remember. From a time she was certain she hadn’t been dreaming at all. She had considered it a respite as her dreams had long been a source of otherworldly turmoil she had no control over. Still, her sleep was rarely restful, hinting that there had been something going on that she simply wasn’t aware of.

Tears swelled in her eyes and spilled over, accompanied by the heaving wrack of sobs. A whole life in snapshots flashed through her mind. More than the jarring moments where she had almost managed to take control of the dreams. It was everything. An echo of a life that truly had never been, but on the edges of her consciousness felt so, so real.

It took her several minutes to get a hold on herself, to slow her sobs and then her breathing from the panic she was in. She struggled to get herself up to her feet, ignoring the early morning light streaming in through her window, to go looking for her son. He didn’t exist. She knew that, but that knowledge didn’t stop her from tearing through the sheets on her bed, dropping down to her knees to look underneath. Then she surged up to toss open her closet doors and hunt through the hanging clothes, ripping them out and tossing them down. The rest of the house was treated the same way, right up until she got up the stairs and out onto the stone deck overlooking the retaining pond.

He was in the house. He wasn’t going to be in the wood. He wasn’t anywhere.

Because he didn’t exist.

There was no torture that Sira could think of that could have been worse than to put those false memories into her head. To make her think the child she had lost had been real. To convince her to kill…?

She shuddered. Death littered her past and she was all too keenly aware that it was her future. There was a choice she had to make, only that wasn’t an option she knew she had. A third path that ultimately lead to bloodshed. Would it save her? Would it save them?

“I don’t trust you,” she told the air. “Father, how could you?”

The last of her strength faded and she crumpled to the ground to sob again.

Much later, once she had cried so much she was sure she was dried out, she went inside to clean herself up only to find that her entire back was a mess of dark bruises.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sira woke up gasping for air and clawing at her throat. She managed to mark up her pale skin with a few furrows before the nightmare faded from her mind and she realized she was back in the waking world.

Ever since the dream about... about that boy... it was like the seal had been broken on her dreams. In fact, she was absolutely certain there had been some sort of enchantment blocking her dreams. For all those months when her sleep had been disturbed, when she knew she should have had more than a trickle of images, something had kept her from remembering her nightly forays into dream.

She hadn't noticed it that morning, nor had she for the following days when she had flowed through her daily routine like a mindless automaton, but encircling her house was pitch black sand. It had not been there prior. When she finally noticed it showed stark against the earth. Nothing grew in the hard packed clay that lead up to and around her stone house. The pitch black sand stood out like fresh ash, as if the very earth had been burned.

When she examined up close she discovered it was sand--very fine black sand, unlike anything she'd seen before. As she sifted through she found some pale bluish white flecks. After she'd scooped some into a bottle she took her hose and washed the ring away.

In bed she shook with the memory of the most recent dream. It was like her mind was conjuring up the worst of things to make up for lost time. They hadn't all been like this night, where she had been sparring with Garrett and he had started to choke her on the mat, but most were wildly intense. This wouldn't be the first time she'd wake up bruised and sore, partially from her hurting herself in an attempt to wake, and partially from the events of the dream.

She carefully tugged the soft cotton of the tee she'd worn to bed away from her torso to watch as a fresh bruise blossomed just below her ribs. Garrett had gotten in a good slug during their match prior to it shifting from a casual bout to a scramble for life. It was a theme she'd dreamed of many times before, but never had her dreams manifested so physically. She had taken to wearing long sleeves and pants despite the heat of summer to conceal the bruises.

With a sigh she let her shirt fall and glanced towards the clock on her bedside table. It wasn't even four yet. Since starting the clinic at the gypsy camp she had been keeping early hours, but since acquiring Rain the time it took her to get there had been cut down allowing her to sleep in at least until the sun began to rise. She had another two hours before she needed to stir from bed...

But she knew returning to sleep would elude her like it had for several nights running so she slipped from the bed to get ready for the day with her mind abuzz with troubling thoughts.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A month had slipped by with Sira barely noticing. Wake up from tumultuous dreams before the sun, get dressed, go to the clinic, work until the sun is gone, fall into bed. Rinse. Repeat.

She would say that her days were mostly productive and overall pleasant. She had made acquaintance with a few of the women in camp who would come by with their knitting, darning, sewing, or whatever other work they had to do that could be done while seated in a circle on the benches outside her wagon and talk. A few had been teaching her about saving seeds from plants, though she hadn't an open space--or the time--to plant vegetables around her house. But now she had seeds for flowers that would do well in partial sun, as well as herbs.

Natural "medicine" wasn't something she ever really pursued. As a train physician, well... she knew that herbs could have plenty of benefits. Especially those that could be refined to make actual medicine. But many of the folks in the camp were leery about her pills and shots and she'd found it easier to mix a little old with new. High blood pressure? Sure, here, drink this basil and cinnamon tea. It'll work best if you use it to wash down this ACE inhibitor. So now she felt like a proper hedge witch with herbs drying on a line outside her wagon.

Summer was starting to slip away, and so were some of the camp folks. Those who hadn't put down roots and moved with the seasons. The numbers would dwindle over the winter and she was all too conscious of the fact that with fewer people, she would have fewer clients, and be making less money. Her financial stability being one of the mundane things that kept her up at night. It was far more lucrative treating criminals in back alleys, even though it was also far more dangerous.

Which was why she had taken a few days away from the clinic during the height of the madness triggered by the meteor shower (no one was saying so, but how could it be a coincidence?) to set up shop in one of her old haunts. It had certainly put coin into her pockets and often for very little work. Much of the hysteria died on its own without any intervention from her at all. The rest was treating scrapes and bruises as well as the occasional burn or other injury from magic gone wrong. She herself had been unaffected.

That is until the sun went black.

Sira had always had a love for the stars and astronomy. Many nights in Rhy'Din she'd stare up at the sky and wonder what they were called, what constellations were up there, what planets could be seen. It was one mystery about the world she'd never really tried to find answers for. When she heard there was going to be an eclipse she made sure she would be outside to view it. There had been a partial eclipse when she was a child and that had been exciting to see, so this total was quite the treat. Except for the fact that it didn't end.

Around her were other people who had ooed and ahhed along with her as the sun was blotted out started muttering and fretting when the eclipse hadn't ended. At first Sira wasn't terribly worried. It was Rhy'Din, after all. Weird things happen in Rhy'din. Two moons mean that an eclipse might last longer, right? Some around her agreed with her assessment, and they went on their way. Sira had returned to her temporary office to do a little work. She should have gone home.

When people started coming in with bruises from fists, she rolled her eyes. Folks will get worked up over anything, she thought. But then there were stab wounds and burns, and broken bones. More things than she could handle--many things she wasn't equipped to handle. So she closed up shop in the faces of people clamoring to get help. Then she tried to get home.

Only as she tried coast through the city every where she turned there was madness. Brawling, looting, violence around every corner. As much as she tried to avoid it... it had just been impossible. All it had really taken was one person grabbing her forearm to set her off. One might argue she was justified. He'd laid his hands on her first and she'd had bruises from his grip that were still fading. But he'd probably have the burns from her touch forever. If he was even still alive--in the chaos she couldn't remember.

Never had she touched the mind of more than one individual at one time, not like this. She had been forced to try again and again during her 'reprogramming', but the best she could get was to spread a simple, mass message. And the more she spread it, the weaker the effect. This was... this was... Like the time Lexius had yanked on her mind and she swore he was going to pull it straight out of her. Except she was the one who had the iron grip on the dozen or so people who'd been crammed into the alley that she'd tried to escape down, and she was the one doing the yanking.

Rage had taken over her. She could just barely hear their screams as if they were at the end of a long tunnel, she wasn't even aware of those clutching at their heads, trying to pull free the invisible fingers tearing at their being.

It was all over in an instant, as the man holding her arm let go and the connection was severed. She was hit with a rebound of pain so intense it made her double over a vomit. But it had dispersed the crowd in the alley and suddenly she was alone. Free to clamber up the nearby fire escape to make it up to a rooftop where there were no people. Left raw and hypersensitive the madness that tore through the city tore through her mind as well until the fervor died down enough that she had managed to force her walls back into place.

A week. She'd fled from the city and she hadn't been back, she hadn't been around people, hadn't risked being exposed to their emotions--or her own guilt.

In those dark moments where she caused undue suffering she had felt something else. Elation.

She'd liked it.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boring. Normal. Two words to aptly described the fade of summer into fall. The season flew by. Winter was only a couple of weeks away now, and with it came gusts of cold, near freezing temperatures. The air was starting to get that crisp 'taste' that hinted at snow.

It was early morning, maybe an hour or so before the sun would rise. Sira was used to be up so early to make the long trek to the clinic south of the city. But the clinic wouldn't be open today. Until the last frost in spring she would only be open two or three days a week. There wasn't enough need for her to go more often. Her body didn't know that.

After tossing and turning for the ten minutes she could stand it she had pulled herself out of bed. She'd started to go through the motions of getting ready for a shower, but just as she was reaching into the stall to turn on the water the thought that this was entirely unnecessary floated through her mind. Standing there in the bathroom she realized she had the whole day free to do whatever she wanted.

She padded back down the hallway to her bedroom to fetch the throw blanket that was usually on the foot of her bed off the floor. It would end up there by the time morning crept around thanks to her endless dreams. A quick shake that did little to dislodge Bryn's hairs and she was wrapping it around her shoulders.

By now she needed no light to navigate the circular hallway to pick her way to the kitchen. A single dim nightlight was the only illumination she needed to switch on her electric kettle. It was one of her best purchases. By the time she'd found a mug and filled a tea ball with the spiced blend she preferred, the kettle was happily steaming away. With the mug filled she left the kitchen to slip into the central space and slowly ascend the stairs.

A quiet hoot from above had her looking up to the little lookout. A couple of lamplike eyes peered back down at her and Sira smiled. Keeping the hours she did she often caught little Loa returning to roost after a productive night of hunting. It had been a while since she'd last gone up there. One time she thought she might turn it into a comfortable reading nook, but now it belonged to the owl.

Bryn was waiting on the edge of the retaining pond for her. She'd gotten a timed autofeeder earlier in the summer to save those extra few moments in the morning, so he was already fed. His tail wagged lazily and he didn't bother to get up from the chilly stone. He must have sensed they wouldn't not be leaving yet.

Sira barely noticed the cold beneath her feet. She'd forgotten her slippers inside and so it was barefoot that she crossed to where the dog lounged to join him. She slowly lowered herself to the ground and automatically reached out a hand to ruffle Bryn's ears.

Everything was so still at this hour. The moons were kissing the mountains in the distance. There was just a hint of lightening on the horizon. The surface of her pond was utterly still like glass as it was too cold for bugs. Sometimes at this hour she'd see some of the forest wildlife sneak out for a drink, but perhaps they'd been scared away by the dog. From where she sat it was like they were the only living beings as far as the eye could see. The trees blotted out the city to the south and she couldn't even see Mercy's farm though it was only a ten minute walk through the woods.

Alone. She had not felt being so alone so keenly in quite some time.

By the time the sun rose the cold had seeped into her bones.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking out from the stage was a scene she was not expecting to see. It was like she was up a million miles above the crowd bathed in a brilliant light that highlighted each and every one of her flaws while the crowd was doused in darkness. She could just about make out the shifting of shadows that must be bodies. Wraiths waiting for the colorful emcee at her side to open the floodgates. She felt naked, exposed and her emotions had been worn raw at the anticipation of this moment. For days now she had been regretting putting herself up for the auction no matter how good the cause. What a little fool she was.

Who would bid on her? No one knew her. All they could see of her was the masks she had spent years crafting to hide her very soul. And yet there under the brilliance of the lights above she swore they could see through her defences like they didn’t even exist. Did they, really? Maybe they were truly transparent and all could see her for the fraud that she was. Just look at her up there playing the part of a good human.

Her breath caught in her throat. The pound of her heart so violent she could feel it in her eyes like she was suspended from her ankles and all the blood had rushed to her head. No, it was a noose drawn taut against the delicate flesh of her throat crushing her breath and strangling her so she could even scream out for help. Even if she could fill her lungs her lips were sewn shut, sharp wire shot through her jaw piecing the bone and tightened down until her teeth cracked under the force.

The lights had burned away every last vestige of protection. Every layer that kept those cruel eyes in the crowd from seeing right to her blackened, diseased core. They’d know now. They all would see her for the monster she truly was. Any moment the whispers would start. The jeers. Soon the vicious words hurled like knives would tear her down to her last thread. The bright lights would shed their illusion and reveal themselves as the white hot flames there to burn her all away.

None would want her. There would be no extinguisher to douse the pyre she’d been strapped to. Afterall it was where she belonged. What she deserved. Fire and shadow. She couldn’t help the burgeoning darkness growing inside her. Sooner or later even the blind would see its creep across her being.

A shifting. A voice. Any bids? The silence roared in her ears.

“I’ll have her.”

There in the sea of chaos was pinprick of light. A voice so pure it sliced through the miasma to carve a path for the man to make his way to the stage. Blue eyes that a desperate part of her heart refused not to ache for. A smile crafted by angels. A jawline perpetually peppered with dark stubble. He wasn’t perfect. There were flecks of grey in his dark hair. He was a flawed man. But he was there to save her from...

---------

Somehow Sira managed to open her eyes. The end of the dream had been lost to the aether as she for the very first time successfully woke herself from a nightmare without causing some bodily harm. Or so she thought. She was very aware of the ache in her head and the roil of her stomach. Her eyes focused on the roof above the bed where she lay tangled in the sheets just in time for the spins to start. There was a chill in the air but she felt feverish and sweaty. The sheets stuck to her bare body when she forced herself to move, rolling to the edge of the bed.

She was at the inn. The room she kept there still to store supplies and crash when she needed to. She didn't remember getting to the inn. She didn't remember stripping out of her clothes. She barely remembered the bottle of honey whiskey that lay mostly empty and spilled on the floor not too far from the dangle of her hand over the precipice created by the mattress. There wasn't much of a puddle, suggesting most of it had made it into her body.

The effort to get herself up onto her feet prove to be too much. One foot on the floor, a shift of weight, a shaky attempt that brought her crashing to her knees. Ah no, she was not entirely naked. She hadn't made it out of her under things. Good. That made her pathetic sprawl so much better.

She was still drunk. The moon was still out and dawn hadn't been invited to the party just yet. Somewhere over on that rack was an IV kit and a bolus filled with a mix that if she could get into her body now she might be able to wake up in a few hours feeling more alive. That is if she could make it there. The bathroom was closer.

One way or another she ended up a curled up drunken mess wondering when it had gotten that bad again until the void of sleep stole her away.
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