It feels like weeks since I first heard Ira, but I can’t be sure.
If it weren’t for the fact that my power is growing more and more as I break down Garret’s bonds, then I could believe it was still the same day.
With his help, I’ve been freeing myself at damn near the speed of light, but it isn’t enough yet.
My power is returning, but my body is weakening. They come for me three times a day now, instead of one, to try and break me faster.
Garret thinks I’m still too physically strong, and is so over confident in his own abilities, that he believes that’s the only reason I’ve been able to resist his mentalism.
I will give him this, he’s getting so much better at it.
It’s taking me longer and longer to break his illusions as they become more realistic with each attempt.
Visions of my friends rescuing me, being captured and tortured alongside me. Images of them dead as Garret tries to convince me that there is nothing left for me in the outside world now, leaving me with no other option than to join him. He has failed to break me physically, but I will not allow this attempt to succeed. I wouldn’t let him break my body, and he will not ever have my mind.
I can only rely on my own power to figure out the wrongness in his illusions now. All the people I know look perfect in his new and improved visions, right down to the last fleck of colour in their eyes, but he can never manage to get the world right. The constant power fluctuations as he stabilises his illusions are the best way for me to break out now.
It’s not enough that he’s imprisoned me in some permafrost wasteland in the middle of who-the-hell-knows-where, but he wants to imprison me within my own mind, too. Maybe he thinks it will make me more pliant. More likely to agree to do his bidding if, in my mind, it is my friends who are asking such atrocities of me.
He underestimates me if he thinks that all it would take for me to commit countless acts of genocide would be for my friends to apply a little peer pressure.
The mans an idiot. A powerful, devious, tenacious idiot, but an idiot none the less.
I enter my mind again, the part of me that I’ve been able to break free.
I’m able to hide myself in here by erecting walls that feel exactly like Garrets’ but are entirely my own.
It’s amazing the things I’ve learnt to do just by figuring out how to break apart Garrets’ power.
Today is a special day.
Today is escape day.
I’ve been working at the crack in the stone since I found it, weakening it to the point that one hard push, just one strong burst of power, will smash through. I need to get to Ira’s cell first, which is where this crack will take me.
The only issue, apart from the fact that I’m surrounded by sadistic arse holes who enjoy torturing me, is my own strength. I have no way of predicting when, or if, it will fail.
If it fails before I get us out, then we’re screwed.
“I am here,” he says, but his voice is the weakest I’ve heard it.
They’ve been working him over with a vengeance lately.
“I am ready. I can get us out.”
A moment of stunned silence later and the sweetest laugh fills my mind, full of joy.
“Then what are you waiting for, child? You must go!”
“If you think I’m leaving you behind then you are not as smart as I thought, Ira.”
I don’t wait for his response. I only have one shot at this.
Tearing through the last of Garret’s bonds, I wait out the flash of lightning that tries to incapacitate me and I’m on my feet.
That last bit of Garret’s control needed to stay in place for as long as possible because it was a trap. Garret felt the moment I broke it, and he’ll be racing here right now.
I summon my strength and send the strongest blast of earth magic I can muster straight into the wall, completely destroying it and creating a pathway that’ll lead me right to Ira.
I run, moving as fast as my ravaged body will carry me, and nearly fall flat on my arse when I see Ira for the first time.
He is skin and bone, and I mean that very literally. His face is sunken in, barely more than a skull. His skin so translucent that I can straight through it. He has a long, grey, matted beard and his hair is so thin that I’m worried it’s going to fall out the moment I move him. But his eyes, his eyes are striking. A gorgeous violet, a colour not found naturally in any human being, and they glow.
“Hello, Fae,” he says, staring at me with as much wonder as I am him.
I can feel footsteps as people come thundering down the hallways, going straight past Ira’s cell. They have no idea I’m in here and my window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
My power rushes into my body with staggering force, a warm light hitting the walls. The marks on my arms have come to life, flooding my body with strength. If I had the time, I might’ve wept with joy.
“Time to go, Ira,” I say, throwing his arm across my shoulders and holding him up. The gems in the earth section of my marks shines in all its glory and I punch a hole right to the earth’s surface. The hole keeps going, looking more like a volcanic shaft. I’ve been hundreds of metres below the earth’s surface for god knows how long.
I gather a solid wall of air around Ira and I, just in time to hear yelling and running as Garret finds the tunnel in my cell.
I see his through the tunnel and can’t help the gloating smirk that takes over my face as my air magic picks us up and we move rapidly up the tunnel, straight to the surface. I cry out as I reach the open air, the glare from the sun blinding me, but I don’t stop. I don’t need to see to move us on. I instinctively head north, moving as fast as I possibly can, covering dozens of kilometres I only a few minutes.
Ira has been completely silent, but I can feel him gripping my shoulders so I know he’s still with me.
My power begins to flag after about an hour, but I can see water on the horizon and want to make it there before I land.
“You are exhausted, Gwen, we can land and hide.”
“Not yet. I can see the ocean. We can find somewhere to hide once we make it to the shore.”
We plummet the moment I get to the water, but I’m so exhausted that I can’t control the fall and we crash into the waves.
The cold is like a punch to the gut. I feel like my chest has collapsed and I can’t breathe.
I almost black out when I feel a burning in my arms. Heat takes over my body and I move again. I reach out, searching for Ira. I grip his shirt as tight as I can and kick hard, moving us toward the surface. A massive, free floating iceberg to my right gives me an idea and I move toward it.
I ramp up the heat in my body, essentially becoming a blow torch, and bore into the heart of the iceberg, resealing the outside with thick ice as I go.
I’ll eat Ira’s beard if Garret even thinks to look for us in here.
“Well,” says Ira, “That was the most fun I’ve had in centuries.”
I don’t have the energy to chuckle. Out of the corner of my eye I see my arms. The marks are back and glowing, but with a new section now. A section of molten lava and liquid heat.
I muster up just enough energy to speak.
“We need to know where we are, but I don’t have the energy to figure it out right now.”
“We are in a place Garret calls Anardika, or something similar, I never knew of a place such as this in my freedom,” says Ira, stroking the hair back from my forehead.
“Then you have quite the steep learning curve to climb. Welcome back to freedom, it’s a big, big world out there and we now have the ability to travel from one side to other in a single day.”
“Yes, I have heard from the guards in passing of such inventions as planes. Human ingenuity seems to be quite the thing to behold,” he chuckles, his voice becoming weaker with each word.
“Rest, Ira. If we truly are somewhere in Antarctica, then help is still a very long way away.
The heat coming from my new marks is enough to warm our hideaway and we fall into silence as the sound of whale song echoes through the ice.