Trial by Fire

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For Better or For Worse

Nike and Onyx awoke in a cold wrought iron prison cage. It was pristinely plain, devoid entirely of decor and dirt. The two were woozy as they woke, the last of the sedative running its course through their bodies. Their bark scratched against the metallic surface as they both slowly rose to stand.

“What… happened? Nike?”

Nike looked over to Onyx and shrank to the opposite side of the cell.

“Y-you have something inside you.”

Onyx looked to Nike in surprise, not quite understanding what xe meant. He looked at his hands, then his feet and shrugged.

“I don’t see anything. Shouldn’t we be more worried about this.” He said as he motioned around him.

Nike would not let xyr eyes off of him. Xe looked like a frightened animal having been cornered. Onyx ignored xyr weird behavior and instead scanned his surroundings. He could see nothing but forest in every direction. The cage was supported by a metal cable which reached hundreds of feet into the canopy of one of the Crystal Forest’s gargantuan trees. Turning his attention back to Nike, Onyx inquired about her panicked state.

“I’m as sapped out as you are about this but being weird about it isn’t going to get us out of this cage. Do you know what is going on? Did they get us?”

Nike slowly relaxed a bit. Xe realized that whatever took Onyx over could come back if he gets nervous enough. Xe wasn’t good at lying. As Nike pondered what xe would say xe came to the realization that the truth would have to suffice. A lie would only further complicate things.


“Yea, Nike?”

“Do you know you have night terrors?”

Onyx thought about it for a moment, then shook his head.

“I probably do. Don’t most people?”

Nike quickly shook xyr head.

“No. No, these are not bad dreams. Your spirit is off of balance. At night, when everyone would be meditating… you’d have episodes. You’d shake violently, I could hear it from the first floor because your body would thump against the ceiling for hours. One night, I broke meditation. I went to check and your eyes were white and you were on the floor shaking. So I started breaking meditation every night to check on you, maybe ease your symptoms just a bit-”

Onyx looked at Nike and yelled “Why would you not tell me that! How lo-”

As Onyx’s eyes flickered from red to white to red Nike interrupted him and screamed back.

“Don’t you fucking dare scream at me! I won’t let you do what you did again! You hurt me, split my bark. I’ll sooner kill you then die a slow death in this cage.”

Nike’s eyes flashed yellow then bold crimson red. Xe meant every word as they spilled over xyr lips slapping Onyx in his face, drowning him in a moment of incredulity. Onyx placed his hands on his head, then knelt and cried. Hurting someone was the last thing that he would have wanted to do. Hurting the only person who he learned cared for him in his time of need… it was devastating.

As he cried in anguish, Nike could feel his odd spiritual energy. In their iron prison, there was a deep sense of loneliness. Though the terror of another episode loomed in the back of Nike’s mind, it was xyr feeling of nurturing that made xyr comfort Onyx. Xe understood the limitations Onyx had. The space he put between others, the feeling of never quite belonging, the love he had for xyr. For Nike, the spirit divulged every detail of one’s feelings and intent. Xe had not met a soul who could deceive xyr and right now Onyx needed xyr more than ever.

Onyx’s cries soon turned to quiet whimpering as Nike sat behind him and threw xyr arms around his chest. Xyr warm touch and support made Onyx relax. As they meditated in silence a green and blue glow could be seen from their embrace. For Erodeseans, this meant a healing bond, one only two-spirited people could manage. Though unbeknownst to many, it is by nature permanent.

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