[1.1] - The Girl and the S'aiyah
Aryial’s hand was steady as she ripped her dagger out from under her shirt, even as her knees trembled and threatened to collapse.
She narrowly avoided crashing headlong into a tree as she scrambled away from the tangle of roots that would’ve turned her chances at winning into a near zero.
The S’aiyah followed her with terrifying grace, the darkness around him making it seem as if he was simply floating after her.
Once Aryial regained her footing, she spun around and lowered herself into a crouch, hand firmly grasping the dagger and eyes tracking the S’aiyah. Her brain sped, running over all possible scenarios and their outcomes. All the rumours that said anything that could give her an edge.
The darkness danced around the S’aiyah like a living thing, contrasting with the bright gleam of silver from the S’aiyah’s own sword. A sword against a dagger wasn’t exactly a fair fight. But since when did monsters fight fair? She winced.
The S’aiyah’s face curved into a sadistic, sickening smile. He lunged. Aryial forced her mind to stay calm as she threw herself to the side.
Focus, think of it as training. It’s just a game of strategy played at high speed. Focus!
The two figures danced around each other, one with trained elegance and the other with an animalistic ferocity.
A clang sounded as Aryial’s dagger came into contact with the sword, she shoved it away with as much strength as she could muster, just as a past observation surfaced, bringing an idea with it. Rumour said that S’aiyahs loved blood.
She surveyed her surroundings, thanking the Mother that she was close enough to where she needed to be. The S’aiyah brought the sword down a split count after she moved.
Aryial rammed her boot into the S’aiyah, who folded and crashed into the brush. She took off into the trees, again.
But this time, she had a specific destination. It didn’t take long for the S’aiyah to recover and follow in pursuit. He was done playing games, and Aryial was going to use that to her advantage.
As she ran, the dagger in her hand hit a briarvine tumbling around the floor. Her feet deftly avoided the gold vine as she bundled it into her arms. It would do.
Slinging the vines over her shoulder, Aryial brought the dagger up to her palm, the metal cold against her skin for barely a count before she slashed the sharp blade across her hand in one swift motion.
Aryial hissed in pain but did not pause as she coated the blade in blood. It was time to see how accurate those rumours really were.
She thrust the knife as far as she was able, the blade lodging itself into a tree. The S’aiyah, tempted by the smell of blood, went after the blade and the easy feed. He’d be back for her though, as soon as he’s finished.
Using the bought time, Aryial examined the stage for her plan. Choosing a thick, large birch tree, she set her plan in motion, scaling up the trunk and tying the briarvine steadily onto the sturdiest branch.
She tried not to shiver at the thought of the S’aiyah licking her blood off of her beloved dagger, he would be finished soon, she would have to hurry.
Aryial set off along the branch, creeping on the balls of her feet until she was perched precariously on the shaking end of the branch. Subtly, she tied the vine around her waist, untucking her shirt to cover it.
Her eyes roamed over the trees, ever alert, waiting for the first sign of the S’aiyah. As soon as she spotted him, she stood up, her movement disturbing the leaves and giving her position away immediately.
Aryial let her expression show her fear and impulsiveness as she set off on a run. She jumped off the branch, and the S’aiyah, blood-thirsty and waiting, anticipated her fall, moving to catch her.
He stepped right into the Fairy Ring.
The vine went taut against Aryial waist, wrenching her from her path and pulling her in an arc back to the tree, away from the Fairy Ring and into safety.
She braced herself, arms protecting her head as she slammed into the thick trunk, knocking the air from her lungs.
After a few counts, Aryial recovered enough to detangle herself from the vine, wincing at the new cuts she had received. She had seen the fairy ring when she had walked into the forest, the seemingly harmless ring of mushrooms inducing a shiver through her being. Everyone knew to stay away from them, for they hold a power as ancient as the world itself, slipping through the cracks of the universe.
Without it, she could’ve died. It was foolish, foolish of her to not bring more that one dagger. She cursed herself as she searched for it.
Fortunately, the S’aiyah had not been smart enough to hide the blade or carry it with him. Why would he? He had not use for a servant’s dagger, nor did he think she would come back for it.
Aryial tried not to think about the gleaming cleanness of the blade as she picked it up, her gut rolled as she realized what she now had to do.
It was easy to think about and plan when her life was at stake, but now…
Her mouth dried as she walked back to where the S’aiyah stood, unmoving, utterly bound by the magic of the Fairy Ring. Though the S’aiyah uttered no words, she saw the challenge in his eyes, but she also saw the fear.
Her hands shook.
If she walked away and left him alive, what were the chances that something or someone would break the Fairy Ring, by accident or on purpose? She would be responsible for the deaths the S’aiyah took.
It’s not a person.She tried to reason with herself.
But she had seen fear. The S’aiyah may be evil to its core, but it was still alive. All that remained of the man the S’aiyah used to be was his darkest intentions, but he was there.
Aryial’s hand shook as she raised her dagger, the S’aiyah’s beady eyes watching her as she adjusted her stance and tried to steady herself. Beady, black eyes focused on her.
The dagger left her hand.
It flew across the clearing, the thud making her flinch. Aryial had looked away as soon as she could, watching only to aim and shutting her eyes the moment the dagger left her hand.
The S’aiyah died without a sound. Aryial didn’t look at it as she turned around, didn’t look as she walked away.
Her back was straight and her gaze were focused forward. Aryial didn’t allow it to wander or her feet to stop moving. Not until she was close enough that even her deficient ears could hear the slight conversations drifting from the camp.
A shudder rocked through Aryial as her strides faltered, she dropped to her knees and heaved up the contents of her stomach.
Her mind replayed the image. Those beady, black eyes. Waiting for death. Watching.
She vomited again.