Pharis’ plan was simple. We would all go separately to our different locations. A fire would burn on a lower inclination, whereby we’d surround that very location from higher ground. The fire would set off Pharis’ magic detectors and trigger lasers which would alert Traegr of our close proximity to the Golden Palace. Once drawn to the fire, the Dark Gems would be wondering where we were. They’d gather around the fire, we’d call out from our different directions, irk them to chase us... right into a line of numerous gadgets that would surely give us multiple reasons to smile for the rest of the day.
I’m by myself for the moment, settled in the curve where a tree trunk split into two branches. My feet dangle down as I watch Pharis light the fire in the distance, down the slope.
Pharis was certain only a selected few Dark Gems would come and investigate. He had been doing some spying of his own and fessed up that he often spotted Traegr wandering the forest during the day.
That very thought makes me want to smile or at the very least, burst out laughing. Traegr was so desperate for us back, but at the same time, clearly lost on what to do. It was simple, venturing anywhere near the area of the diamond soil, was impossible for them.
So all any of them could do; was wait.
I watch as smoke lifts into the sky and fire starts to burn more savagely.
The waiting game begins.
A long time passes whereby I end up fiddling with my new outfit. Instead of being wrapped in vines, Celeste had made me an outfit out of large leaves glued together. It acted as a short dress, and it was simple, but far more pretty than a boring slave outfit.
“Come on,” I mutter to myself, really annoyed that it’s taking so long for them to appear. It feels like I’m waiting forever, until I see Pharis suddenly appear by the fire, hands on hips, “What the...?”
I’m confused that he has returned to the fire because at this stage he is meant to be far, far away from that fire.
I’m even more confused when I see Traegr waltz into view the very next second. They are directly opposite each other, no one attacking. They were... oh my gosh, they were talking!
Within moments they are both laughing loudly and I’m hoping down from my tree, my nerves racing.
Pharis had said he had a few tricks up his sleeve that we’d be ‘totally impressed about’. He had honestly seemed so excited to show us his brilliant plan. Now I was doubting his loyalty, or perhaps I was doubting his sanity.
Besides, I had to admit, I couldn’t accuse him of betrayal yet. He was either playing some massive joke on Traegr or he was in line with him... but knowing Pharis...
“Stupid kid,” I mutter as I creep forward to get a closer look, but not too close because I didn’t want to set off any of my own traps leading up to my location. I try to listen into their voices, hoping they travel far enough, but I can’t hear. They were too far away.
I watch closely as Traegr goes to shake Pharis’ hand.
What I see next, at first puzzles me, until a massive grin spreads across my face.
Pharis has decided not to shake hands with the Dark Gem King, he instead performs a mock bow, just as the tree’s around him loudly snap out of their roots, falling towards Traegr. Okay, this kid was powerful. It all happens in a dramatic instant, but as Traegr is watching the massive trees fall towards him, Pharis prances into the safety of the trees, throwing out a smoke bomb next to the fire and a shocked, injured Traegr– then he runs for it.
What a lucky little shit. He actually got away with fooling Traegr? For a sixteen year old – oops, seventeen year old – he had massive guts playing a prank on our enemies. I’d have to interrogate him later on how he managed to talk to the King without being captured or killed.
I hear branches snap from far away, but smoke fills the bottom of the slope, dissipating out towards me and blocking my view.
I was too close.
I decide to move back.
I turn around and start heading off, scanning my surroundings.
The coast is clear and I decide to explore around the edges, to locate any other Dark Gems before they locate me first. Just in case. At the same time, I make sure to stay clear of the traps near me while also staying close enough.
I admit, there was a funny feeling in my stomach after spotting Traegr. I wasn’t too keen on being chased by Dark Gems all of a sudden, I could only get away so fast. Celeste had the help of the forest to pull her out of danger. Water couldn’t exactly make me run faster, or fly!
I start to feel dread settle within me, it slowly creeps through, self-doubt, confusion... it was eating away at the confidence I felt this morning.
At this point, I suddenly remember Seraphine’s words from long, long ago.
Diamonds can have reverse affects for those with lesser magic, Sapphire, make sure you don’t venture too far out of the diamonds too quickly if you ever reside here for longer than a couple of days. Withdrawals of the calming effect of diamonds, will hit hard when you are suddenly without their presence. You’ll feel a loss of control on your magic, it’s normal, but it passes.
I stand still in a daze as I suddenly know why Seraphine put me in charge while she was gone. She knew what would happen if I ventured outside the diamond soil. She knew I was safer in its confines while our war with the Dark Gems was still at its critical stage.
To be honest, when she had spoken of withdrawals of the diamonds at the time, I hadn’t believed her. Probably because I had never been in that soil for so long, without having contact from Sabir soon after. In the past, I had often made secret escapes into the forest, only to return a day later and get a damn hard punishment from a very possessive Sabir. He hated it when I ventured off without his knowledge.
As for the effect of being away from the diamonds, it was hard to understand what Seraphine explained a millennia ago, but now it made sense. Diamonds suppressed Dark Gem powers, their ability to drain, in turn they supported female Gem’s access to magic. Mine was open, my magic was unstable now, and I was feeling...
I hate that I... that I want – I really...argh... I want Sabir.
I want him to ease this feeling of being empty in my own way. Empty of his touch. Now? It’s like my magic was calling to him.
My thoughts are rattled and I have no idea what to do anymore.
I forget about Celeste, Pharis, the traps.
My eyes search on their own.
Just a glimpse of Sabir would help, we had a connection that was special just to us. Something about his draining ability matched my magic absolutely perfectly.
I can’t get my mind off it.
I was craving him desperately – I had only ever felt like this when he had mentally tortured me for years about how I was his play-thing, his slave. Always pleasuring, always teasing, always punishing me – because Traegr wanted me messed up in the head.
The only type of fit princess to lead by Traegr’s side was a princess who was weak, had little magic and was torn between freedom and lust. It was their perfect way of controlling me.
And it had worked, for so long.
I slowly sit down on the ground, needing to remember to breathe. I dig my fingers through the soil, in search of water. Any type of natural Kiyr water calmed me when I was in contact with it.
I needed the river.
That would help centre my thoughts!
Logic was totally lost on me for the moment. My instincts were running wild - all because of the withdrawal symptoms from those damn diamonds. But, I needed to focus. I really needed to. Right now. I needed to remember how important this war was. If I could hold off on my lust, just a little bit longer, we’d gain respect from the males through whatever magnificent plan Seraphine had in the works.
“Breathe,” I whisper to myself as I get to my feet.
My thoughts ease a little.
Even though I wanted to be in contact with water, this mission was more important. I couldn’t stray, nor could I give into my need of Sabir’s touch –
My heart is suddenly in my throat.
I’m pretty sure I hallucinate him just around the bend of nearby trees. I creep my way forward and poke my head around the side of a mossy trunk, freezing when I confirm my suspicions that he wasn’t a figment of my imagination.
It was him, no doubt.
I’m a little flustered that he had been so close and I had had no idea.
His back is to me as he scans the forest, looking for me.
I suddenly realise he was too smart to just go searching from the point of the fire. He was coming around the ‘back’ way.
I’m proud of myself though. I had spotted him first, that is what mattered. Now I had the upper hand.
My brain may have been briefly swamped with feelings of defeat and confusion, but now I was latching on to the very thing that got me through time and time again – being my sneaky little self.
I might not be able to fight him with magic, but I could play my own pranks.
I wait until he has ventured up a bit further and I trail along behind him, my bare feet were near to silent as I carefully place my steps while following him. I stay hidden behind trees and eventually raise my hand, feeling for my control over water.
A lazy, easy stream, flows out of my skin, it ducks under a tree and is guided by my will, towards the ground before him as he looks out in the adjacent direction. By the time he has decided to step forward, he instantly slips on the thick layer of water and fat healthy slippery leaves I had carried with my stream, to lay at his feet.
I’m not disappointed when his fall is equally as ridiculous and dramatic as someone slipping on a banana peel. He slips backwards, landing on his surprised ass.
The problem is, it’s to funny not to react.
I’ve already snorted loudly as I try to keep in a full-blown burst of laughter. So much for having the upper hand.
He hears me.
Before I can even duck for cover, while laying back on his elbows, he catches my eye when he looks over his shoulder.
“You want to play games, princess?” Sabir drawls as he leaps back up to his feet. I don’t bother to hide and he seems amused more than angry.
“Don’t hurt yourself,” I mock back, “You’re in unknown territory out here.”
I see Sabir relax when he realises I’m not running off yet. He shrugs and looks away, disinterested as he walks towards a tree and leans against it. Well, this was odd...
“Go on, sweetheart,” he nods towards the rest of the forest, “Run.”
“You don’t want me?” I don’t know why I ask it, and I sort of regret blurting it out when I do, “I know you’re out here searching for me.”
I see him glance at his belt as he fiddles with it, a few weapons of choice were along the leather. He smirks to himself and I’m curious what he is thinking.
“You see, princess... walking through this forest helps me sort through everything I’m going to do to you when I get my hands on you,” Sabir drawls again, looking up at me through half hooded eyes, he doesn’t even blink, “You may as well run. I’m still deciding on your punishment.”
I do not respond straight away. Instead I’m suddenly aware that he is more than confident he’ll catch me. He wasn’t even worried if I ran right now.
...I didn’t do what he expected, I could take away his total control. Maybe.
“You’re as arrogant as ever, aren’t you? I guess 1000 years just set that in stone. I can only imagine how frustrating my absence was to you. I pity you, Sabir, you must miss my hands... my lips... everything you use to have. You don’t own this body anymore.”
Sabir listens to me for a moment but all humour leaves his eyes at my choice of words.
“You done chatting, sweetheart?” Sabir leans up off the tree and starts walking towards me, there is a light of calculation in his eye as I don’t run but... I stay where I am, “No comment? At all? Well... isn’t that’s refreshing, coming from you.”
I gulp as each step he takes, my magic starts to pulse through me.
I’m entranced as he stops on the other end of the trunk. I realise I’m hugging the tree with one arm, leaning towards him. He puts his hand on top of mine on the bark of the tree. He was literally inches from me as he assesses my increasingly nervous eyes.
Emotion and memories were flooding through me.
Everything we had once had... I remember so clearly.
Those memories, at the surface, were messing with my head. My magic instantly centres to my hand, where his own covers mine entirely. He only takes a little bit, a tiny, tinybit.
I fidget my feet, feeling like my core was rocked because I expected him to just – take it. Not taste it, like it was some sort of luxury. It was just prolonging my suffering.
And I was surprised at his level of control.
I’m biting my lip, desperately looking at him, I didn’t want to say the words.
“Someone’s wanting,” Sabir looks into my eyes, slowly, slowly, leaning in closer, “Do you need something from me... princess?”
“No,” I whisper back, instantly lying. He knows it, too.
“I’ll ask again,” Sabir has a familiar spark in his eye, anticipation, “Do you need something from me?”
I bite my lip, and then I answer.