Chapter 1: Leave Me
I felt whole. The power seeping into my skin, filling me, fulfilling who I was. She was me. I was her. I was myself. I was Zedigrivikonola. I was in a mortal body, and I was in another plane. It was strange knowing I was in two places at once. I opened my eyes and realized that Darin was kneeling in front of me, his hands holding mine. I ripped my hands out of his. How dare a simple mortal touch me!
In my memories I could feel the pity I once held for him, but now I didn’t feel anything. He was simply a tool to reach my goal. I ran my eyes over him evaluating how far he would go for me. I could see his worry and his love. He would die for me, and that could be useful; though his fawning attention might become annoying.
I turned away, back straight head high. I was a Lady of Darkness and it was time these fools saw it. “Darin, you can leave.”
He was there, behind me. His hands reached for my shoulders. I spun around and smacked his hands away, “I said you can leave me.”
“Dy, are you sure…? You don’t seem ok.” That was something else. I would not go around having people call me by that stupid name the mortal who gave birth to my body called me. I was not Dyrana. In truth, I was never Dyrana; she was a piece of me, and now I was complete again, but they would have trouble with my full name.
“I am not Dy, or Dyrana, or a simple silly mortal. You can call me Zedi or Ze. I am no longer separated from myself. The memories of the other times I separated myself to a mortal form have returned to me. I am whole in mind, though part of my mind is contained within this mortal body.” His black hair was hanging over his eyes giving him a puppy dog look. I was tempted to laugh, but if I laughed I might lose his loyalty. I needed all the loyal fighters I could get.
“So now you are going to pretend you don’t exist? You are Dyrana even if you are also a goddess,” his voice was desperate, pleading with me to have no have become farther away from him.
“You know the answer Darin. Zacinelsikaydan betrayed me. He and the other Lords betrayed our trust, and I destroyed my feelings. Anything my mind touches destroys emotion.” I turned away slowly and went to look at the mirror in the room. Physically I looked the similar, but now there was a power that was held in my very stance. My eyes though, my eyes were black. My Irises were like black holes.
“He never meant to hurt you. He doesn’t even know why you thought he betrayed you. And don’t you still feel anger? Don’t your emotions grip you in the same passionate fire they used to? Don’t you care about your people locked away in a corrupt city held in the sway of the twins?” I looked back at Darin, Zacinelsikayden’s voice. Why did Zac choose him? Why was I thinking of the man I used to love so familiarly? I knew I used to love him. The memory of our fight was blurry though. The emotions that had gripped me through that ordeal were so intense that I couldn’t really remember what was said. All I could remember was the clarity that came after the intense pain of burning away my emotions. I knew justice. I did get angry, but it was a shallow anger, a wisp that still allowed my mind to stay clear.
“You think that the anger I show is emotion? It is but an echo of who I used to be. I used to have so much emotion that it ruled me. I destroyed it and I brought clarity to myself. I welcomed the cold logic.” I looked at the mirror and I could see my black hair hanging down in silky waves. It was strange how much I loved long hair. Technically I should hate it for how annoying it was in battle, but I loved it. I like riding with my hair down and blowing in the wind behind me…
“Zedi! Are you even listening to me? You felt anger. Maybe you’ve just blocked the memory of major emotion, but I don’t think you’ve burned it away.” Was he really still standing there still stubborn to move? Did he plan on nagging me all the time? I wasn’t sure I could deal with this all the time.
“Are you still there? I’ve told you, I burned emotion away. My first clear, cold, and concise memory was of the pain of burning away my fiery emotions to save Zacinelsikayden from my anger hurting him. And I need something to hide my eyes. My eyes might scare people.” If he thought I sacrificed myself to save Zac he would have more hope for me. He would still follow my plan just thinking that I would save him from harm might even help keep him from asking questions. I just needed to keep him unbalanced and hoping for a future for me with him. I saw no future except this body’s death after destroying the walls of the city and my return to a complete being in the other plain I lived on.
“We could have dark glass lenses made for you as if you are blind. It would hide your eyes, though they are pretty.” He was walking toward me, reaching his hand out toward my face.
“Alright that will work, now you may leave me, and stop trying to touch me. I don’t want you to touch me,” something about touch bothered me. I think it was how close I became to a person when I touched them. I couldn’t stand closeness. Not anymore.
“What’s wrong with touching Zedi? Are you afraid of feeling something, of feeling another person touching you?” He still wasn’t leaving, and now he was in front of me. I stood still and allowed him to reach his hand up and move my hair out of my face. There was nothing wrong with him touching me. I had to prove it to him
I stared into his searching eyes waiting for him to step away. I could tell he was searching for something in my face and not finding it. His brow furrowed in concentration as he tried to see whatever it was he wanted to see. “Will you leave me yet? I plan to go down and eat.”
He was still staring, but now his hand was wondering down my face as if he could read me from touching my face. I wanted to slap his hand away, but this once I would let him touch me. I would let him see I was different, and maybe then he would realize I was different. I was the Lady of Darkness. I was the very absence of humanity living within a human mind and within another plain.
“Are you done soul searching? Do you think there is still something human in me?” When would he leave? When would he see who I was?
Instead he whispered, “You are beautiful Zedi. You are the most beautiful person.” Suddenly without warning he leaned forward as if he planned to kiss me.
I jumped back and pushed him away, “No. I have no feeling for you. Why can’t you see that? Just leave. Go, go down and join everyone else.”
Without a word he turned and left. Finally he was gone! I turned back to my mirror. I could hide my eyes with my hair for now. I was still in my battle gear, the gear I always wore. The gear I would always wear. I grabbed a black cloak and threw it on over my armor bringing the hood up over my head.
I was the Lady of the Absence of Light. I was the warrior, the killer, the destroyer, and I was going to go down and eat food at the bar like a common mortal. My mortal body needed sustenance.
I carefully draped my hair in front of my eyes before walking out of my room into the hallway of the inn and down to the bar. I could see people sitting around everywhere, eating, chatting, sulking, and drinking. Miserable mortals living out their mortal lives.
I sat down at a table by myself away from the rest of my group who were quietly clustered in the back. I smiled at the waitress as she came over to serve me. Her curly blonde hair hid the bruises on her back and a ton of make-up hid the ones on her chest and face. Not all men were kind to their women, and drunken mend tended to take advantage of her. Fighting wasn’t really in her nature though. She belonged to Lesandariana’s type of girl. She was a pacifist. She was the type to let the world go by her without a fight, but she couldn’t care a rat’s ass about people themselves. She did what she needed to, and earning a little money on the side wasn’t too bad.
It felt strange only being able to look at one person’s life at a time, but at the same time it also felt strange being able to look at a person and know their life story. It was that whole mix of human mind and goddess mind thing. Why had I wanted that again? Oh yeah, part of myself and my memories were trapped in my human self. Talve my story was weird as the hell reserved for the worst mortals.
“Umm, Sir, can I get you something?” The little blonde was perched in front of my table with her hips cocked sideways and her chest sticking out. Her round little face and button nose made her pout look cute, but her green eyes were dead. The flirtation that her body showed didn’t reach her eyes. They were hard and blank. She wanted that extra money, and if she had to sleep with a hooded stranger so be it, she would.
“Girl, number one, I’m a woman, and number two I would like a pint of whatever beer is on tap. Oh and sweetie, selling yourself will eventually get you in trouble,” I didn’t remove the hood or anything, I just stared at her, and I probably managed to scare what little wit she had right out of her. She just looked at me blankly for a second before scampering off to the bar to grab me the beer. I wasn’t normally much of a drinker while on Earth since alcohol didn’t affect me, but this night I just wanted the nasty bitter taste of beer on my tongue. I just wanted to taste it again.
I looked around some more. That man was the butcher. He put on a straight face for his customers, but he wasn’t like his father. He didn’t enjoy seeing the animals die, at least not yet. He loved his pets, and every animal he killed hurt. He wanted to cry, but it wasn’t manly, and he had to do the trade his father taught him so he could continue to provide for his beautiful wife.
Next to him was the knacker. He was a hard man. At one point he might have been kind, but a long life and too many people close to him dead had hardened him. He hated the way people looked at him and the thoughts he knew they thought about him. He hated the way his one son looked at him with hate. He hated the way he lost control when the alcohol was in his system, but he couldn’t stop. He hated his life. He missed his wife and his two daughters who all died in some needless battle between two cities.
I yanked my eyes away from the misery that the knacker was hiding and found myself looking at a woman. She was a black mercenary, one of mine, who was tired of fighting. She always wanted to work with wood to carve pretty things, but her life had been chosen for her and turned to hell, She’d been taught one thing, and hell how she hated it.
I knew some weren’t cut out for the life, but sometimes the ones who survived surprised me. She was impressive for just being alive. She wasn’t a natural fighter. She preferred creating things to destroying things, but she had been chosen by her birth. Now though she was making her wood carvings. She’d made enough money to buy herself a shop, and she had. Business was slow, but she only prayed it would pick up. The goddesses knew she wasn’t cut out for fighting and it was only a matter of time before she died.
I blinked suddenly ripping myself out of her story. She had a strong mental grip, but even her mental strength wouldn’t keep her alive.
I moved my eyes across the room to a far corner where a man sat quietly in the shadows. He was a fighter, but not of the normal type. He was an assassin. He didn’t like killing people, but he had long ago learned to feel nothing. His emotions were empty. He was like me, and I loved it. I had no feeling, no care, nor worry. I knew how it was not to care that you killed someone. I knew it well, and so did the assassin. His orders though were simply to make sure no one was hurt. He was acting as a bouncer for the night.
He would be welcome in the afterlife reserved for fighters. He was a good honest fighter. He was a trained assassin, and he could kill in the night in cold blood without a thought, but he killed with honor and he killed for a reason, to live. I could understand him.
The next man I looked at beat his wife and children. He was miserable and he hated the life he had gotten stuck in. The next man had no wife. He was lonely. He wanted to be a singer but he never got out of working at the barn thrashing wheat. Next to him was a man who recently lost his wife in childbirth. He never wanted anything except the simple life he had until his wife died. Now he wanted no life.
Everywhere I could feel their stories. That man was actually happy. Him and his friends had been out working in the fields and were enjoying a get together while their wives held a sewing group and they were kicked out for part of the night. They were laughing and looking forward to getting back to their house.
There was another woman, and she was crowded in with some rowdy men all wearing armor. She was a mercenary guard, as were the others. They worked the routes that came through and were part of a rotating shift that some merchants paid into so that they were always guaranteed guard and their guards could get breaks. The men around her barely even noticed she was a woman. She was raised in a backpack by her mother who was also a mercenary.
The end of the West road was a popular place for travelers, and the town thrived on it. I was surprised there wasn’t a city here, but apparently no one had ever tried to claim this place though cities used it as a battle ground without even blinking.
Sometimes I really doubted the twin’s insistence on setting up the city system. Their belief that it would allow people to find their niche seemed wrong. It seemed like niches weren’t something that could be created. Every city needed people, but the people didn’t always fit, and they didn’t know better. They didn’t know they could leave. And there were places like this village without any protection.
The bar maid sullenly put a pint of beer on my table in front of me before running off to sidle up to the man who hadn’t ever been married. She wouldn’t have any luck, he secretly liked men.
The door opened and I could feel the cold slimy presence that walked in right away. A flash and I could see a frog being dissected while it was squirming and trying to escape, and the laughing. A voice was laughing at its troubles.
Suddenly I could see a girl. He just wanted to figure out how she worked. It was all very scientific. He tied her down and gagged her. I was forced to watch the memory of what he did to her. I couldn’t pull away no matter how much I tried. I saw every horrid detail of the rape, dismemberment, and eventual death.
My body was gagging, I was unable to control my reaction, but the gagging brought no food up. I was desperately holding the table, and I could tell I had attracted the disgusting man’s attention. Her death had given him pleasure. Her death, the animals’ death, his parents’ death. He loved it. He loved the killing; the excitement just was amazing to him.
I might have been emotionless and twisted in my own heartless cold way, but I was heartless. This man had emotion. He had a sick twisted version that needed to be put down. He had no honor, no love for the gods and the goddesses. He had nothing. His emotions were twisted unnaturally. He was so depraved that the crimes committed in the blood rage on the battle field and after the battle seemed minuscule. He enjoyed it. He committed his crimes without provocation or care. He committed his without having hatred for an enemy or a bad family life. He his parents were kind, though horrified by the wingless flies that died around the house. They never realized they were raising a psychopath.
He had no living. He stole from his victims and then found new victims. He loved it best when his victims kind of liked him before he killed them.
He sat down next to me, staring at me. He looked so sweet with a mop of black curls and brown eyes under a heavy brow line with a strong jaw and narrow cheekbones. His smile said gentle, sweet, friendly, but all I could see was crazy murderer.
“Hey you, you new here or are you just a loner,” his voice was deep and melodious, and sickly. It was covered in honey that was so thick it caused him to be transparent.
I couldn’t stop myself. I raised myself out of my chair with my sword out and ready in my hand, “You sick talving bastard! How many women have you killed, or was it 8 women and 4 men! How dare you think you could touch me. How dare you think you could just waltz in and get you jollies killing one of us. It is the end for you!”
My blade rang out as I swung it true and right through his evil neck. I watched him fall feeling only relief. His sick twisted memories were gone.
Everyone was staring at me. My hood had fallen off, and my black hair was long and loose falling about me in a mess. I probably looked insane. And they were staring at the head on the ground like they had never seen a person die before.
“You killed him?” it was the shaky voice of the bar maid. She thought he was kind of cute.
“He would have killed you! I was his next target. You have no clue what that freak has done. He fins pleasure in killing,” Didn’t I feel a strange crazy joy seize me when I was fighting? But it wasn’t the killing, it was the fighting. Death didn’t faze me, but it didn’t give me a sick twisted pleasure afterwards. After the killing he felt happy.
I could tell, they were all looking at me, staring at me. They were judging me. And I stared at them. Some humans just weren’t right in the mind, and they needed to be put down.
“He was an abomination, and if any dare deny it I will fight them,” I sat back down. His body was still sitting in the chair sprawled out. I put the money down on the table for my beer, took a sip, and just managed to keep myself from spiting it out. Maybe it really was nasty stuff.
Maybe my dead friend would like it. “Have a drink, friend.” I took the beer and poured it over his corpse. It was the best use of beer ever. I pushed out of my chair again and looked around the quiet bar room, “I am a fighter. That’s it. You’ve got a problem speak up. I don’t like crickets. You are crickets right now. I can’t even hear your chirping. You have a problem with me? I have a problem with me.” I turned and pointed to the brown haired bounder hidden in the shadows, “You, Sandaas, you know how it is. Aren’t you an assassin? The feelings gone isn’t it? There is a joy in the fight, but the death is nothing. It means nothing now. This man felt ecstasy when he killed. I am the voice of the Dark Lady, and I have the right to decide who lives and who dies. I am justice in its roughest form. “
I held out my hand and pulled the light away from it. I pulled the light away from my entire body. I turned myself into a shadow, pulled up my hood and released the light back into the world, “I am going to destroy the city system. I am going to bring it down starting with the City of the Gods. I am going to destroy it all. I am going to destroy the system the twins set up. I need an army. I am going to find the mercenary unit called the bears. From there I plan to build my army. Everyone who plans to come needs their own horses, supplies, food, and sword. I don’t supply weapons. I’ll raise an army that will shake this world.”
Sandaas stood up slowly his brown eyes staring at me intently, “Where do you plan to find the money to fund your grand plans?”
He was smart, but he was an assassin. “I will go to the bears, and join my forces with their own. I know that they have been badly hit and haven’t been able to take a major job recently. They are near the city Garsas. Garsas has always had goals to take other cities. They already have captured Demask. They are good to the citizens of the city they capture. The cities are weak. A nation must arise, and the City of the Gods must be burned to the ground for this to happen.”
“How do you know this is what the gods and goddesses want?” he was a devout worshipper and prayed to me every morning. I told them only that I was a voice, not that I was myself. He had no clue.
“It is what the Dark Lady wants, and as her servant you should honor her and what she wants. The other goddesses and the stinking backstabbing gods can go to hell for all I care. Why do you pray to her and not to her once consort?” I had almost let myself slip and say who I was. I wouldn’t actually say it.
“I pray to her because the Dark God betrayed her. I pray to her because it is said she takes an active role in this world. She actually cares about those who pray to her. And all the fighters go to live in her world in the afterlife.” He was definitely an intense man.
It was then Darin stood up, “The Dark God betrayed no one. The twins put doubts in the Lady’s mind and led her to believe he betrayed her, but he did nothing. All the fighters go to the dark realm that is ruled over by the dark siblings.”
“Darin is one of my fighters, but he represents the Dark God’s interest in the Lady of the Absence of Light’s plan.” I loved all my different names. If one has many names, they should be used.
From the table that the others were sitting at Kyra and Chrisin stood up at the same time. They looked at each other and then Kyra spoke up, “the Lady and Lord of light dislike war. I represent the Lady, and she would prefer to solve things in a different manner, but she knows her sister’s ways get things done, and so she also lends her support.”
That was new. My dear light and lovely sister liked to say so many bad things about my chosen path. I hadn’t had her support before. The twins must have really pissed her off.
Suddenly everyone was talking they were throwing questions every which way. I added some power to my voice and shouted, “Quiet!”
I waited as the chatter died away and then I spoke one last time, “We leave tomorrow morning. Be there or don’t come. It’s your choice.” I turned away and stalked back to my room. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I wanted my peace, but I knew he would follow me.
I entered the room and waited. He would be up here any second. Sure enough there was a knock on my door. “Come in Darin.”
He entered hesitantly, as if afraid of what he would find. “What was that about today?”
“The bears have depleted numbers and I need more fighters,” I knew that wasn’t what he was asking, but I felt like being contrary and not answering him right away.
“That’s not what I meant.” He was glaring at me and I almost wanted to laugh. Almost. I didn’t. He might blow if I did.
“What do you mean then?” He would have to speak clearly if he wanted me to answer his question. I didn’t just hand out free answers to unasked questions.
“You know exactly what I mean.” I could hear his frustration levels rising. He was leaning closer to me, but not moving his body except to clench his hands into fists.
“No I don’t. You really need to speak clearer.” I think it was more my innocence act wearing on his nerves than what I had actually done. It was so much fun to get him angry!
“Why. Did. You. Kill. That. Guy?” Anger and frustration laced his words, and now I really did laugh. He looked like a volcano ready to blow its top off.
“I don’t know. I’m a heartless cruel bitch that kills random men for fun. Or maybe I was killing a crazy man who really does kill others for fun and needed to be put down. Think on it. You aren’t getting any more answers from me,” I turned away from taking off my belt as I walked.
“Why, why kill him if he didn’t hurt you?” he was really determined to talk to me wasn’t he.
“I told you why. I can read people’s life stories now, and he was a horrible person. And maybe I needed a demonstration, Maybe I just needed to kill someone. Maybe I was desperate to get the satisfaction of someone’s life blood on my sword and spraying everywhere on the bar floor. Maybe I wanted to give that woman something to do beside serving beer and spreading her legs. Think it over and leave me alone. That’s all I want is for you to leave me alone. Go find someone else to bother. Isn’t that what you are good at? Bothering people.” Maybe I was harsh on him, but I felt like he deserved it. I was tired of his useless questions and unspoken accusations. He was just like the Dark God my so called once consort who betrayed me.
“Do you think this is a game? Do you really think burning the city to the ground will fix everything,” he never left me alone! He nagged me almost as bad as a woman would!
“Burning the city will cause chaos. It will destroy the power that the twins created. That should make you happy. All your problems will be solved. The world will turn into a lawless place for a while, but eventually everything will sort itself out. Now leave me please. I really want to sleep, and this is the first real bed I’ve slept in since the city, and I plan to enjoy my one night of a real bed.” He sat there for a second staring at me, trying to read my emotionless face, but then he spun away and left the room slamming the door behind him.
Things were as they should be. I carefully took off my sword belt and drew my sword. Then I drew my blade and cleaned it. I didn’t need a rusty blade. The priestesses had given me a good blade, and I planned to keep it that way.
When I finished I placed the blade next to my bed, took of my armor and lay down in the bed. I couldn’t get comfortable. It was too soft. The very softness of it made my back complain that there was nothing solid. Eventually I pulled off the sheets and moved to the floor where I promptly fell asleep.