A Moment of Darkness

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Little Bird

Carena. My Carena. My sweet sister.

My heart pounded as I watched them, as I forced myself to remain still, to stay where I was and not slaughter the Captain and Governor where they stood. My focus was on Carena, on the cuts and bruises on her face, her arms. On the dried blood that was soaked into her gown, the same gown that she wore the night of the ball. But I couldn’t help but notice the venom that filled her gaze as she looked between the Governor and the Captain. She was gagged, so there was no way for her to be able to speak, but the look she gave the Governor was enough for her to convey what she was thinking.

And that gaze told me that she was plotting their deaths while they discussed.

They may have managed to hurt her physically, but nothing would damage her spirit. I couldn’t help but feel relieved as I watched her look between the two of them. It was evident that she hadn’t been fed properly, her cheek bones sticking out sharper than usual. I curled my hands into fists as I tried to think of what to do.

“I could just kill her now. It would save us a lot of trouble.” The Captain said, pulling a dagger from his waist and holding it up to Carena’s throat. A trickle of blood made its way down her neck and chest, disappearing into her gown. Carena whimpered as she tried to back away from the sharp blade, but there was nowhere to go under the Captain’s grip. I took a step forward, but the Governor interrupted me before I could kill the Captain where he stood.

“No. We need her still. Aurelia won’t be far behind. It’s just a matter of time before she comes searching for her sister. There have been reports of sightings and I have reason to believe she is searching. Once we have Aurelia, then we can kill this one.” The Governor motioned at Carena like she was nothing more than a piece of trash that needed to be taken out. I had never minded the Governor. Out of them all, he was by far one of the kindest I had met. But now there would be nothing keeping me from seeking him out and ending his life with a nightmare I will specially design for him.

“This source you told me about, you’re sure it’s reliable? I don’t want to send my personal guard on false leads. We don’t need another incident like that night when you went to retrieve the girl the first time.” The Governor said, his eyes boring holes into the Captain. The Captain seemed to visibly shrink as he said,

“It won’t happen again.” His words were terse, his hand tightening on Carena’s head. She gasped as she reached up to grab at his hand. The Captain released, only to slap her across the face forcing her to the ground. She didn’t move as the Captain stepped over her and towards the door.

“Shall we? I feel we have kept them long enough.” The Governor motioned towards the door.

“This room is secure?” The Captain glanced around the room, noting the lack of windows and singular exit and entrance. He seemed please when he spotted a set of manacles that had been drilled into the wall. What was his room. I watched as the Captain dragged Carena to the manacles and hoisted her up, locking her in place. He tucked the key into the front pocket of his vest, the small buldge making it easy to see. She hung limply from the irons, her eyes rolling in her head. It seemed she had fainted from exhaustion and the impact of the blow.

The Captain and Governor left, and as soon as the door clicked into place, I stepped out of the shadow. I ran across the room and knelt before Carena. Tears fell from my eyes as I slowly reached out to her face. I cupped her head in my hands, gently raising it up so it didn’t sag between her shoulders.

“Carena?” I whispered, my voice weak from the tears and the sobs that threatened to spill over. “Little bird?” I gently stroked her hair, pushing it back from her face. There were several cuts that covered her cheeks, forehead, eyebrow, and a nasty bruise over her left cheek that was a deep purple color. I could feel the breath trickling out from her mouth, but it was shallow, the manacles making it difficult for her to breathe.

“Kova. Kova, I found her. I have Carena.” I call out to her, shouting through the connection.

“What? She’s in there?”

“I’m looking at her. How do I get her out of here?” I ask, looking around the room. There seemed to be no key to the manacles and I wasn’t sure how to get them off of her. I had no way to pick a lock, I didn’t know how to do that sort of thing.

“Where are you?” Kova asks.

“I’m on one of the upper floors in a room that has double doors.” I mentally cursed myself for not paying close enough attention. “They have her chained to the wall. How do I get her out of these things?”

I pry at the manacles, trying to get them from the wall, to unclasp, to do something. But they wouldn’t budge. They kept Carena lifted off the ground, her toes just barely scraping the floor. Bright blood had begun to leak from her wrists, trailing in long rivers down her arms.

“Help me!” I yell down the connection at Kova. She didn’t respond and I sat before Carena, staring up at her limp form feeling useless yet again.

No. I refused to let that happen.

I reached out and grabbed Carena’s arm, making sure my hold was tight on her. With her in tow, I stepped into the shadow. I watched as everything turned to shadow, except Carena.

She remained in the normal world, her hands still bound and her eyes still shut.

I stepped back out, tears threatening to spill again. I took a few steps towards the door, thinking of ways to get the key from the Captain’s pocket.

“Aure?” The whisper was almost non-existent, but my heart stopped at the word. I turned to find Carena’s head rising as she tried to look at me, to make sense of what she was seeing. I rushed over to her, grabbing her under her shoulders and trying to help her up.

“Yes, it’s me. It’s okay. I’m here.” I whisper into her ear as I pulled her to me. She let out a sob as she said,

“You can’t be here. You have to leave.” Her voice was hoarse, as if she had been screaming and her throat was raw. It broke my heart to hear her like this, to see her this way. All because of me.

“No, we are getting you out of here.” I looked around the room again, trying to find anything that could be useful.

“How did-you get in here?” Her words were broken up, her eyes heavy from exhaustion.

“That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is getting you out.” I patter her cheeks, trying to keep her awake. “Come on Carena, stay awake.”

“I knew you’d find me.” She said around a broken smile. Tears fell down my cheeks at the sight, at her faith in me.

“I’d always find you little bird.” I let out a long breath as I thought, “I’m going to have to let you go so I can get you out of here. Can you manage that?” Carena nodded. I made my way methodically around the room, searching in the dressers and various cabinets. It seemed this was a guest room of sorts, and I didn’t want to think why the Governor would have manacles in this room. But there was little evidence that the room was used often. There was nothing in the drawers other than extra sheets and blankets. I didn’t dare move those, not only because I couldn’t use them to help me in this situation, but I didn’t want to leave any evidence behind.

“Kova, come on. Tell me you have something useful.” I waited for her to respond, but nothing seemed to happen.

Hide, hide, someone’s coming.

The shadows whispered to me, my head snapping to the doorknob that turned slowly. I stepped into the shadow, Carena’s gasp muffled by the squeak of the door.

The Captain made his way back in, his eyes beady and furious as he made his way over to Carena. He slapped her yet again, his eyes flaming with anger.

“Shut your mouth girl. Not another peep out of you.”

“I didn’t - say anything!” Carena defended herself, even though her voice was weak.

“Keep telling yourself that. You may have been able to scream in the prsion, but here you will keep your mouth shut. There’s no one coming for here.”

I watched as Carena looked up at him and smiled, her teeth now coated in blood. She killed him a thousand times with that look. The Captain’s eyes squinted as he said,

“What are you smiling about?” He said the words calmly, but his hands formed fists that threatened to hit Carena. I slammed the door shut, the one that he had left slightly open.

The Captain whirled, his eyes scanning the room, now suddenly much darker than a moment before.

“Who’s there? Eris? Is that you?” The Captain reached for his sword, but found there was nothing there but air. It turns out I am able to grab some things while in the shadow. Lifting his sword and turning it to mist had been easy.

It would probably take more practice to get larger objects to turn to shadow, but I wasn’t concerend about that now.

Right now, I had the Captain all to myself, and I let the other Aurelia rise to the surface. It was easy to do, as the power from Oryn’s nightmare still flared through me. And this time, it was different than a few a hours ago. I felt as if the two parts were one, for this brief moment of time, I felt that everything in the world felt right as I stared into the beady eyes of the Captain. I let the darkness thin just enough so he could catch a sight of me, my white hair, blue eyes, the unmistakable characteristics of Aurelia.

“You.” The Captain said, his hand trying to find his sword but failing. “How did you get in here?”

“I guess you don’t know everything Captain, now do you?” I smile as I hold up his sword by the pommel, letting it fall blade first into the floor. It stuck into the wood with a thud, the Captain’s eyes lingering on the hilt. Oryn had said he was an expert swordsman, but what was a swordsman without his sword?

Just a man.

“What are you going to do, little girl?” Carena looks between the Captain and myself, her eyes full of worry as she weighed the odds of what was about to happen. “What do you think you could possibly do to me that would be any worse than death?”

“I’m going to bring you to your knees.” I said, standing my ground. “Then I’m going to kill you like you did our mother. And this time, I won’t make it quick.” Carena’s eyes widened as she looked back at the Captain, realizeing the depth of my words. The Captain chuckled as I stepped forward, his stance widening. I could feel Carena’s gaze piercing through me, but I didn’t let myself think. The captain lunged, his hands outstretched.

But I had been anticipating the move.

I stepped into the shadow, everything moving slower within it, and watched the Captain sail right through me. He landed on his stomach, a look of utter shock on his face as he turned to find that I was indeed no longer standing there. I stepped towards him as he rose to his knees, reaching for the knife that was strapped to his belt. I stepped out of the shadow, wrapping my fingers around his chin, my nails threatening to pierce into his cheeks. I lifted him up, the power of the shadow filling me, and shoved him against the wall forcing the knife to clatter against the wall. Where my hand touched his face, I watched as veins of black began to spread from the connection point. His breath hitched, his eyes wide and disbelieving.

“No.” He breathed as he realized what was about to happen. He had to be thinking of the man in the alley, the guards that had stormed my home. Surely he knew he would now suffer the same fate.

“This is for my mother, you bastard.” I seethed. I watched as his eyes turned black, as the nightmares overtook his mind.

He screamed.

But I only smiled.

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