I watched my trainer, my friend, and my father die. Blood spurted out from the cut and onto the floor before his body went limp. Alec collapsed on the ground with blood pooling around him in a crimson backdrop. No movement, no breaths, and no life.
I only starred at him, not believing what I was seeing and not breathing myself. I needed to breathe. I needed familiar comfort, but I could only feel that way with the earth around me, and that wasn’t going to happen. Out of fear and sadness, I forced my ability to explore more of the ground. I need to feel grounded before I lose myself in the loss.
I couldn’t feel the ground more, and my ability reached out for its comfort only to be fought back by the warding symbols in the walls. It only made me angrier. I have never been one to control my more powerful emotions since I didn’t feel them often. Using all my strength to push against the warding, just to touch the earth, I felt numb to everything around me, even the hand on the back of my neck. Only the sound of my increased heartbeat and breath entered my ears.
I just want to feel the earth; it always comforted me in stressful situations. My ability reached further and further only to fight hard against the warding. “I must break the warding,” was the only thought in my mind. The ground already seemed shakey, but now it is more noticeable.
Panic spread in the room as elders started to run but not able to leave. Of course, I just stood there, the shakey floor not swaying me. At this point, my vision got blurry, and my hearing was gone. I only saw from the corner in of my eye the walls begin to crack. Alec is the only thing consuming my eyesight.
One of the Elders broke my line of sight. It seems that they are yelling at me to stop, but I can’t move. I cant hear them. I am too distraught and angry, and I want the damn warding gone.
Now the crack in the walls is visible in my peripheral, and that’s when I felt it. One break drifted up to the ceiling, and I felt the earth and the life teeming in it. It brings me so much comfort and releases some of my anger in this situation. The warding is gone, and I breathe a sigh of relief as that familiar comfort surrounds me. I finally lifted my gaze from Alec and closed my eyes. I was stretching my ability deep within the earth.
I feel my body calm down some, but I still wanted to cause a cave-in. The elders are freaking out at this point, trying to make me stop. I couldn’t tell how much time has gone by maybe just seconds. The ground calmed as I did but only slightly. It was still shaking like an earthquake.
“Stop it. Don’t do it. Relax. You need to calm down.” A voice in my head said. It was deep and dark. Full of warning and worry. At first, I thought of Alec, but it couldn’t be. He’s dead, so who is this mystery person.
“Who are you?” I asked in my head, waiting for an answer. The chaos around me stopped for a moment as the ground stopped shaking.
“It doesn’t matter; you broke the warding, and now I can talk to you. You need to calm down. You will have your chance to kill them later. Now is not the time.”
I was getting angry at the strange voice in my head telling me what to do. “And why the hell not?” I screamed in my head. They kill my only family, the only person I trusted.
“Because you will kill everyone, including the Gifted. You have no control over yourself or your ability. You will bring the ceiling down on everyone. Besides, it is not in your nature to kill.” The voice said in a rush. He seems to want me to stop, but I didn’t want to. They killed the only family I have ever known. I could destroy them all right now. It would be easy and quick. The games could end, and I would be free. On top of it, the few Gifted left would get to live a life free of torment.
The voice seemingly heard my thoughts because he said, “If you honestly think you would walk out of here a free woman after killing them, you are more stupid than I thought.” My anger came crashing back, and the earth started to quake.
I wanted answers, and I wanted them now! I could hit the entire magistrate out of spite. Again the mystery voice chimed in for more vague information. “You will get them in time. I have a plan of my own, and I need you to fulfill it. We can work together, but you need to stop what you are doing. Don’t bother to save the others. They would rather die in the arena then live outside these walls. I’ve observed them for years; they are afraid of the government and would do anything to appease them. What do you say, Gaia?”
When the voice said my name, it had a ping of familiarity to it. It was odd, but I pushed by it, touching on one aspect. “What plan do you have?” I asked, skeptical of this voice. There was a pause before he spoke again.
“Trust me, we want the same thing. In fact, you are the only one in this place that wants it all to end. I have a plan, I just need someone like you. Now, are you with me?” He asked once again. He seemed to want my approval on this deal.
I could feel my hands clench into fists, and my eyes were opening again to see Alec’s lifeless body. A single tear roll down my cheek. The voice was calm and seemingly caring, although I didn’t trust that notion as far as I could throw it.
“Do you see what they did? How can I stop?” I asked him. I finally calmed down completely, only sadness filling the void where anger resided. The elders seemed relieved as the guards hesitantly came over to me. They will take me down to the ground because I am dangerous, which I can’t blame them. I almost killed everyone again.
“I know it will be difficult, but we will talk soon. Now calm yourself and do not fight. Do not be afraid. Everything will be alright.”
With that, the voice disappeared. I break out of my trance, only to see the destruction I created.
I never moved from my spot, and the only area that didn’t have a crack in the floor was around Alec’s body. I dared to look around, only to see the table destroyed, breaks going up the walls, and the wood door was hanging off its hinges. Pieces of rubble blocking the exit—no wonder no one left.
Lines in the ground spread like veins. The floor was indented, where I stood like I was too heavy to hold up. The Elders were all terrified as they should be. The guards were ready to attack but couldn’t seem to move. My eyes traveled down to their feet, only to realize that I solidified them in the ground.
It was interesting; anyone that tried to come near me would sink into the ground like quicksand, and the earth hardened around them. I didn’t know I could do that.
“Gaia! Gaia!” A voice behind me drew my attention to them, only to see the eyes of Elder Kakios.
He stood a few feet back from me now, surrounded by rock. Trapped like the rat he is. It brought me joy to see him like that.
“Yes, Elder Kakios?” I muttered.
Anger flared on his face before he demanded that I release them all. Of course, I thought about it, and my conclusion was I didn’t want to do it, but I knew I had to. Only to save face and keep doing the games, to win. Besides, I wanted to know who was in my head.
“Release us now! Or you will be punished greatly for this. You don’t want to end up in the hole again, do you?” The Elder said with a smirk. He knew I hated that God-forsaken hole.
It was a punishment for elementals that had the affinity of earth. Being surrounded by metal and warded off so I can’t use my powers beyond its walls. It was torture. It still haunts my dreams.
I could feel my eyes go wide when he said that, my breathing hitching with fear, but I couldn’t just release them yet. I needed to make sure my safety was secure, and they wouldn’t lie to me.
“Okay, Elder Kakios. First, I want to make sure that no harm will come to me once I do. The only reason you are all trapped except the two elders over there is that you tried to attack me while I was losing myself. Swear by all the new Gods and old that no harm will befall me because of my actions today, that I will continue as always with the games.” I said with some authority.
I knew they wouldn’t take it, but I am going to try to convince them. What can these people do? They are all stuck here until I let them out.
“Absolutely not! You need to be accountable for your actions here today.” Elder Tristis said. He was trapped in the wall like the rock grabbed him and pulled him into it. He always hated me because I accidentally killed his brother when I was a child. I think he wanted the same fate for me.
I tilted my head at the man, who was consumed with so much hatred that it clouded his judgment. It made me wonder what all their thought processes were before this day.
“What did you all expect to happen today?” I said as I turned in a circle, meeting every eye in the room. I waited for an answer, but no one replied.
“Are you all surprised this was the outcome?” I asked, waiting for an answer. No one said a word. Or look me in the eye.
I took a deep breath before making eye contact with Elder Tristis. “When I was a child, you took…” I paused, choking up on thinking of my friend and only family member dead. I pulled myself together before continuing. “You took him away from me, and I brought the ceiling down and crumbled the earth. Now you forced me to watch as you slit his throat. Did you expect that I would be fine with it? I assume you thought that you were safe with a warded room, or this wouldn’t have taken place. Obviously, from past actions, this is what my reaction would be! You all may be elders, but you were naive to think nothing would have transpired here.”
No one said anything except Elder Kakios. “Don’t get a big head, Gaia. Some rules need to be followed, and he broke those rules. We only did what’s required of us. Now let us go, Gaia. We don’t want to have to punish you more than we have to.”
I could feel my lip twitch. The need to kill had never been more substantial, but I couldn’t. I have bigger plans for the future.
“I want assurance that nothing will happen to me once I do. If I am punished or to die, it will be in the arena, not by your hands.” I get into Kakio’s face. They know I don’t lie or play games.
I can see Elder Kakios think about my proposition, and after a few minutes, he finally spoke. “Okay, Gaia, I swear to the old Gods and new that no harm will befall you after you release us. If anything were to happen to you, it would be in the arena.”
I nodded, happy that he agreed. I reach out with my ability to the earth, willing it to release its captures gently. Slowly the guards were able to move their feet, and the jagged rocks around Kakios fell to the ground.
Guards hesitantly came near me, and I felt threatened. It took all my will power not to be afraid and make them stay away from me. “Do not touch me; just take me to my room to watch the games,” I said as I strode towards the broken door that leads out to the hallway. I knew where my room was, I didn’t need the guards, but I didn’t want them to try to stop me while I walked.
I made it to my viewing room without incident. I walked in and sat down in my chair, waiting for the Elders to begin the games.