The chortle caught my attention, pulling me out of my murderous thoughts. Who could it be? Surprisingly, I no longer felt scared of meeting someone or something though I know they would be dangerous and fatal. My lips formed into a smile at the thought. I had grown numb now as everything had crashed down on me a few minutes ago.
“What do you want?” I called out with conviction in my voice.
The figure of a disguise appeared at the doorway. I could tell it was the same disguise as the one who visited earlier — Ferias.
“Imare is not here,” I said watching the swollen-lipped monster as he drifted into the room still wearing that annoying sneer.
“What a stupid thing. You know perfectly well it is YOU I have come for,” Ferias drawled out.
My eyes narrowed in response. Did he come to torture me? To make me feel the pain as Imare had done? Well… he’ll be in for a big surprise for I’ll never let him… he’ll never be able to —
I let out a scream as I felt something grip my feet, an intense pain coming along with it. Nails were being driven hard into my head. I was not able to anticipate the attack. I did not even see it.
The pain continued as I thrashed to be let go… but it was in vain. The grip tightened and Ferias’ sinister laugh penetrated my pain-muddled mind. He wasn’t going to let go… his laugh told me so. I’d die like this… screaming my lungs out until my last breath.
My voice become hoarse and the scream turned into a groan meant to plead for a release from pain. I twisted and kicked. My efforts were useless. I did not come in contact with anything.
I felt my thrashing becoming weaker. Life and force was draining out of me as the swollen-lipped creature continued his hold.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” I heard him say mockingly. “Death and helplessness…”
You bastard… I’ll kill… you… for this…
I felt my chest tighten. My breathing became ragged. I was losing ability to breath.
“You’ll thank me soon enough,” he told me in a mockingly assuring way. “Being dead is the best thing in the world.”
I took a struggling breath… but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough! As the seconds passed by, I felt the darkness beginning to consume me again.
Moments later, I found myself upside down. I could feel a cool breeze against my skin. My hazy mind concluded on thing… I was outside the window of the tower upon which I had lived. “Such a nice night, ain’t it?”
He laughed when I did not reply. I was too weak to think… much more to reply.
“…to break bones,” he continued suggestively.
No… Don’t drop me!
Panic gripped me. The fall would instantly kill me.
“Do you want to drop, little Arthel?”
I did not want to drop. I did not want to die. Not yet… ‘Twas too soon.
Ferias laughed again. Then his voice, filled with a sense of incredible pleasure and enjoyment, he ordered, “Beg.”
Beg?… I won’t…
I did not want to plead, especially to someone as bigoted as him…never to he likes of him. He was evil as all living in this village were evil creatures… and I hate them with all my being. I wanted to kill them, destroy them, and make them suffer. I would never beg. I will never —
I felt the grip loosen and I heard myself beseech, “No.”
He laughed in response. “Say it again.”
“NO!” I pleaded weakly.
My mind screamed curses at me for saying that word. But I had no choice… I did not want to die yet… Not yet when I had to repay Imare for everything… not when I’ve got to avenge myself to him. Not now…
Ferias let go of his grip. I screamed. I felt myself plunging head on into the ground below. Terror gripped my being as I fell…. helpless… And then I struck the ground hard.
Everything went dark.
Misha… Snap out of it
I drifted in an out of the haze for what felt like an eternity. A dull throb in my head, the bitter taste of the muddy river water, the coldness of the ground I was lying on along with the foul stench of death in the air made sick to the stomach. Bile threatened to get out and I swallowed hard, forcing it down. I lay there, drifting in and out of consciousness, as the minutes ticked by until the strength and stability recuperated back into my body.
The world finally stopping its kaleidoscope, I pushed myself up, slowly… painfully… with gasping breaths and with effort. My mind and body was still screaming to go back into unconsciousness… but my will would not allow it. With hazy vision, I gazed at my environment. The feeling the dizziness again swept over me. I wretched and fell on all fours.
Water gushed out from my mouth as I continually vomited, spasms rattling my body as it tried to clear the fluid from my lungs and stomach.
With difficulty, I tried to stand up, pushing against the ground and swallowing to prevent the bile from rising up again. I staggered forward, my knees wobbly and weak. It was no good, I felt sick. Cold and sick. I was going to pass out again, I knew it. This wasn’t good… I should find my way back to camp —-
A scream pierced through the chilly air. A sound of something hitting the ground hard followed next, something I realized later on to be sickening crunch that signaled broken bones My heart slammed hard into its ribcage, pulling me from my muddled state and making me gasp in fear. That was no ordinary scream. There was real terror in it.
Alert and wary, my eyes scanned the surroundings. The houses were made of dark, rotten wood and had a gloomy air about them. Tall, broken, and dimly light street lights illuminated some of the cobbled streets and, at the same time, casting eerie shadows that one would think had some creature hiding in them.
My sight settled back on the murky river. Images of corpses floating in it entered my mind and I shuddered. There was no way back. Forward was my last option. Trapped, that I felt like.
Throwing caution into the winds and pushing all thoughts of fear into the back of my mind, I ambled slowly through the streets, never thinking of what lay ahead or to where I was going. Wherever my feet lead me, I did not care. I just wandered.
Moments later, I caught sight of a tower. Faint flickering light came from the window high-above. Hope blossomed in my heart. Maybe someone in this godforsaken place could help her. I rushed towards it, getting away from this town or whatever you may call it foremost in my mind.
The smell of blood invaded my noise without warning and I stopped. Instinctively, my arms went around my stomach as I staggered to what looked like a corpse. The body, supine, was sprawled in a very odd way like it was dropped from a high altitude. The limbs were stretched out in odd angles. Blood, fresh and crimson, seeped from underneath the body, most from the body’s head. It was boy, a very young one, just a little older than I was. Disgusted, I backed away, my hands covering my mouth to prevent me from throwing up.
A low moan broke the unnerving silence.
My eyes widened, my gaze locked at the body, waiting for it to move or be still. I moved further back, my body poised to run. An arm twitched and I screamed.
“He… He… lp–,” groaned the boy in anguish.
“Almighty Odin…,” I whispered, fear-stricken and rooted in place. The boy was alive.
“…—me.” His frail body arched and he screamed.
I was torn. I wanted to run away as fast and as far as I could. But as an acolyte, I had the duty to heal those who were in need of it. Running away would me a mark of cowardice… not to mention abandonment of duty.
I looked up. He must’ve dropped from the lighted room above and that meant he was shattered to the bone from the height of his fall. It was even a wonder he was still alive. From such a huge damage, I did not know if my capability was enough to heal him fully or even to make a difference in his wounds and his pain.
The body groaned and flinched once again.
No use thinking about it. I have to try.
I moved near him, grimacing from the sight and stench of blood as I knelt before him. Seeking focus, I closed my eyes and entered into a chant. My hands moved in an all too well-practiced gestures. Finishing the spell, I opened my eyes and directed it towards him.
His body writhed the moment the healing spell hit him. An ear-splitting scream escaped his bloody lips. Scandalized, I paused. It was a most unusual reaction. He shouldn’t be screaming in pain like that. I was healing him, wasn’t I?
Anxiously, I bit my lip, and tried again. Again, he screamed, but I went on, not allowing myself to be perturbed until I was no longer able to cast any spell. His body healed, not completely, but significantly. He was still unconscious however… but gladly, he would survive. I heaved a sigh of relief.