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Sequel to Beginning or Endings!!!! Forced to see another side, a girl of a puzzle must navigate the maze of belonging. What friends does she have within her reach? Why must they torment her? Just what is she made of? Irena is so much more...

Mystery / Other
Hanako Iwata
Age Rating:

New Territory

Have you been in a place of time when you wandered when you would see the sun next? Did you miss the warm sphere of burning heat on your skin? What did you do to pass the time? Did you know who or what kept you within the never ending folds of the dark? In the end did you want to change what happened?

This was my time to wander about the globe of warmth with harmful rays of radiation in the sky. I did not have to miss the sun for I was not cold in this darkness. Time passed on its own accord, I had no clock or object keep track of the times of the day. Alas time does not stop for anyone but why should it? If time stopped then my time here would last eternity and all life works on time to act in motion. I suppose we will find out if the regret will set in or I will be set free.

They took me away, out of the country to be exact. I did not sit in a cell though I knew I had one for Shane had made it very clear I was not a guest. My hands were folded on top of each other, my thumbs fiddling with the gown's fabric. The time on the train flew without complaint from my body about my more ridge form on the cushioned seat.

"Do not act as if you are not grateful for your rescuing," Shane remarked from across the table with his eyes trained on the scar. My body yearned for the thrumming of the train that silently kept its rhythm within my bones.

The train ride was left behind at the furthest station nearly an hour ago. The unfurling events from the past ride from the country nipped at the edges of my mind with the chill of frostbite. Hay needles littered the hard floors, and the glass outlooks of the tavern blackened with dust despite the gifted clear skies hidden above the ceiling. Even the workers seemed unaware of the brilliant day outside and instead resembled the dirtied condition of the windows.

Shane's companion, Elvira shifted from her spot beside him her displeasure with me burning through the spot of velvet next to my head. Her left hand glittered a thousand stars from the giant rock sitting on a thick silver band on her finger. A matching silver band sparkled from Shane's left hand on the table. Disgust was a knife in the fat rolls on my stomach, a fire burning on my hand to reach for the screw driver for the wretched woman.

Elvira's hand smack the table with a crack, her form sturdy form shooting from her place with impatience. Her finger pinched the point of my chin with a force it took effort not to let my face to twist in pain. Her storm of gray eyes swirling with a storm of a short temper, she would not survive in the world politics. "Answer when someone speaks to you! You are no better than us ratty whore!"

"I'm glad you recognize what you are," the words slipped past my lips with the acid I wished I could spit at their feet for Pierce. The impact of the table blind sighted my vision with swirling pictures as I landed beside her first hand. Shane tensed from beside his wife in displeasure at the unraveling events.

"Elvira release Irena," he sighed tiredly. "There is no need to impair her before we get home." Her hand cracked my skull against the wood a last time before letting her hand to release her pressure. "Ladies, we're all friends here. There's a reason why we have been reunited unexpectedly."

"All incidents happen on the purpose of the intended but on the soldiers of the Devil," the words of my studied scripture passed the threshold of my mouth on a tighter leash than before. Manners were to never to be forgotten in the dance of unseen enemies. Both exchanged a skeptical gaze, the words landing foreign to their incomparable sized brains.

"Speak in riddles and I shall cut your tongue from your mouth," The heavy threat slithered from Elvira's mouth with a hiss.

The next words clunked from my tongue at the roof of my mouth sending the woman seething. "Thee cannot touch one cannot catch with pudgy hands." Her husband did not halt his chuckle at the simple of exchange of rage against intellect. Funny how one's emotions reveal the winner of each match is it not? "Where are we headed?"

"Do not haste such great times between friends. If all goes well then we'll have eternity to spend our time on meaningless wanders." Shane could not evade the question long enough until men the size of giants, drunk took the door off the hinges with their clumsy weight. Puffs of the hay needles launching into the air in a vengeful attack on the giants who roared with deafening laughter at their faults. "More friends join us!"

The men stumbled over the flat flooring of the building, stubbing all of their toes with ignorance from the alcohol they reeked of. They did not stop their charge until their legs were halted from the table and they toppled over it together. Neither of them waited for an invitation as to crash into chairs at our table.

"What have you boys been up to?" Elvira's shoulders eased and her anger dissipated at the sight of the new arrivals.

"No trouble," The one closest to my side blurted his skin flushing with the sheepish lie. His friend nodded in confirmation to only let out another blood curling laugh.

"Calvin, Larsen would you greet Irena?" Shane nodded to each in turn for my confusion. Calvin nodded his head at me from beside the couple stuffing his face with complementary peanuts. Larsen did not bat his eyes in my direction while he joined his companion in crushing the peanut shells beneath his fist. "Charming, aren't they?"

When I did not reply Larsen turned his attention to me with the threat of violence in my near future. Shane did not pick up on the wound air around his friends or ignore it all for his entertainment. "Why don't you speak to us about your adventures or about your newly found love?"

"I do not bask in past glory but future plans."

"Lies," Calvin snarled his lip curled above his sharpened yellowed fangs. "You live lies!"

"Truth shall win out before the sunsets on the heavens," Shane recited from our scripture with a shivering cold hatred for the words. "How long must you pretend to be the naïve in the world of the wakened?"

"Pardon you!" I clipped at the men for the accusation laid on my lap. "No lies drip from my tongue as I speak to the idiotic audience before me! No naïve veil obscures the vision of thee or blind reality from the eyes!"

"You walk without open eyes! No knowledge of hardship marks your soft skin! Lies dripped from your person from the life you claim to live." The man shouted rage driven to tame a misbehaving child. "That is not life, Irena that is an illusion. Your marriage is faked with your pretend ring and smile upon your dark eyes. Your adoption is no more a hoax than your marriage with forged papers of old men in high status! Be released from your traitorous life by baring your finger from the clutches of your arresting band."

My hips banged on the table as my legs transferred my weight from the chair to my feet. I did not turn away from Shane's scorching stare of ridicule, I did not flinch at the threat of the two men when they had silenced from their activities or when Elvira raised her hand to strike me down. "Pardon you, Shane! I am a married woman to an officer of high status and this ring will not slip from my dead fingers to please the blind! I am the making of multiple persons of even higher status not just from two and I will bestow the title of their kinship with great pride!"

"Take it off," he growled warningly. "Let truth sink through your skin."

"Which truth do you refer to when I live in the reality of my truth?"

"Take it," the order was not directed to me. The men moved faster than a woman in a gown could imagine in formal wear. Calvin slipped past my detection to appear behind me, his overly large hands crippling my collarbone to get me to resume my seat. Larsen snatched my wrist from his place and fought my hand to unfurl. "Release your sins! It is the only way for the new truth to be accepted within your heart."

Could you have fought harder than I? With no strength to match these brutes or even the bone density to not let your bones crack under the pressure. Would have you relinquished the ring to them with the knowing that love was more than a representation of a ring? Would you have believed me if I told you they did not get what they wanted?

My fingers burned beneath the pressure of Larsen's persisting grapple for my ring. Calvin snapped my head back with the sudden tug of his arms. My skull colliding with his hard torso which sent my mind spinning but the pain bringing the events in a clarified perspective. My throat rumbled with a building growl rather than a shout, my nails pierce the surface of my skin in search of refuge from the forceful man.

"Get the damn ring!" Elvira's commanding bark joined her husband's frustration. "Release the ring or lose the finger!" All settled with the struggle of both sides. My bending with the temptation to break before victory. The men stilled to wait for my response though their attempts continued.

"Stupidity leaves all of those who accept the gift of knowledgeable facts. Grace is granted to those of great patience but strength is a fool's tool to use to break those worth their weight in knowledge. Threats are a dealt in the hands of those incapable of gaining values of life. Williams from Great Noxus in sixteen eighty-five," The name sliced through the air like my tongue dealt the swift blow of a sword.

Elvira lunged for my throat, a weapon glistening in her palm not matching the dazzling glare of her hand jewelry. My feet reacted for me, the leg of the table deflected off the bottom of my heels. The table went skidding into Elvira's abdomen sending her back into her seat and matching stunned faces traveling around the table. My trapped hand let out a torturous scream through my vocal chords that remained lodged there for release. I pulled Larsen closer by his hold on my own fist making my arm shake from his resistance. My teeth gritted together, my eyes squeezed shut against the fight to not lose against the brute force of drunken morons. The hard bone of my knuckles cracks when put against Larsen's thick structure of his nose. His pressure on the weak limbs of my fingers disappeared freeing them to pry Calvin's meaty paws from my throat.

"Now let's be civilized about this," I offered with no branch of truce offered. "Take your seats!" My hands proceeded to smooth my skirts, aware that Calvin had not moved from his place behind me nor had anyone straightened the table. "Do I need to make myself clearer? I will not be defiled by those below the common law of manners." Not one of them of granted the sneer of mockery or even sniffled wrong in my direction. "This ring will not leave my finger until my marriage has ended with a tragic death."

Shane was the first to recover from the pause in time to smooth out his clothes instead of checking on the condition of his wife's state. The men did not move to restrain my body for Aaron's binding band on my hand and Elvira did not release her weapon of choice or remove the table from imposing in her space.

"Shall we get going before the sun sets?"

The place in which we traveled had escaped the contents of my mind's eye. I only pictured tents for soldiers, campfires for the late stories, and grim faced folk with much scars to bare. What I imagined was nothing compared to what I had beheld at our destination. Buildings were already built with permanent structures of a city that had chosen to stay. Glass glistened in the evening sun's gaze from the ground floor to the sky above almost five stories high. There were no ancient monuments or historical buildings like the building in which I met with the Main Board in, for this was a new city.

Miles of an evergreen field of tall wild grass grew around the city and occupied the parks for the children. There were no trees from the forest Mr. Agnor had shown me for lessons or other kinds, nothing but grass so high it brushed my body at the hips. Horses cantered through the field with whining and snorting at those watching in awe. Horses pulled carriages for those without money for a proper engine powered vehicle.

The men dressed in uniforms for representation of their side for acceptance and trust amongst the others. Much of the women did not wear the garments or skirts required to be worn but many wore the same uniforms as the men. Only the mothers wore gowns of simple designs and the daughters followed suit. As the others guided my way through the lively streets of their home, I trained my eyes in search of the hidden scum through the folds of polite disrespect. No robbers searched for the bags of women, no men beating other men, and beggars were welcomed in with as much trust as the long time neighbors.

"Where are we?" I muttered to Calvin or Larsen to answer my awe.

"This is Venne, the unofficial city of refugees," Larsen replied unsettled as when we left the tavern. "It is on no map for you to locate us on."

The pedestrians approached openly with warm embraces to welcome back the four in front of me. Some even pulled me into hugs for the courage to make the journey to join them on this side of the country. None of them I knew though their smiles reached the sincerity in their eyes enough to sparkle with life and reached the chords of my heart. Whether they were oblivious to where I came from or not, we made many stops to speak to the locals about the latest news of the war or to just greet them.

By the time, Shane decided it enough visiting the sky had darkened from the rosy red to the violent blue of the night. The colors of the city were not blackened or dulled with the dark atmosphere but enchanted the meadow. The lights of the building cast rainbows of colors from the fires that were set ablaze at the parks for nightly celebrations of life. The oranges and the red being reflected onto the windows, letting them transforming into all shades of color upon the ground to decorate the dancing bodies. Laughter filled the air to the brim of the buckets of contagious jolly in every single person passing by or attending.

My heels were silent on the soft ground with no real roads established. My feet yearned to click and stomp to the beat of the live music. To join the other people in the light within the dark was what my scarred heart had desired. For the sake of maintaining the respectable distance between my captors, I contented myself with following them to their sanctuary instead of dancing the night away with the others.

The four of us walked pass the towering buildings and parks that belonged the residents until the structures thinned out to the grassy fields of the soldiers. Small houses with few windows were built instead of overly large glass buildings for the sake of protection not glamour. Shane directed us to the largest of the housings that seemed only to be maze of connected houses to create the miniature mansion before us. There was no second story to this construction but the layout of the building stretched across the land that could house over ten engine powered carriages with its wooden walls.

The front door cast in the dark from the log arc formed from two pillars and rotten rope for the authenticity of this way of life. The handles were no more than hoops bolted inches from the edge of the entrances. The wooden barricade of a door swung on tired, rusty hinges. Interior could've competed with Mr. Gardner's sliver wonderland; the floors were not glowing with silver light. No the floors lit up the rooms with orange hue of orange sapphire like a fire was embedded in the house. The color of the walls were all different shades of red to orange, the different paints splattered upon the surface creating many more shades on its own.

The entrance opened up to large chamber of trophies. Half pillars held up foreign objects of inventors from their tools to the blue prints that their great minds had created. Singular lights hung from the ceiling to cast a spotlight upon each of the items to replace the glass boxes encasing objects in museums. Two hallways on the opposite sides of the chamber led out to the rest of the maze of colorful housing.

Calvin and Larsen disappeared back out the front door, their job done for the day and should be heading back to a bar. I did not see where Elvira had gone within the mists of the trophies so I followed Shane, alone, through the hallway to the left of the room in the back. The hallway did not have its own lighting but adopted the orange hue for the beginning and morphed into a violent through the rest. Two entrances led into open rooms without doors to block them from my view. One of them was lined with counters, a stove, and sinks for the kitchen, meanwhile the other held nothing but curtains to entertain the bare room. A grand window of colored glass to create a picture stretched the length of the wall to my right, giving no outlook to the outside but reflections of oneself as if offering for the reflected to look into oneself.

"Now Shane, you better not being harming that girl!" A shorter woman stormed down the hall with a metal spoon pointing out her hand accusingly. Her eyes were the image of what calm authority was in this world; her nose was crooked with a thin scar covering the bridge. No kindness could be identified in her posture in her cooking apron and short dress. "Guests are to be treated with more generosity than you have been granted!"

"Lady Antoinette," the man greeted hiding a cringe with a wave of his hand. "I thought you would be at the festival this at this hour of night."

"Of course I wouldn't be boy!" The woman marched fast to give him a satisfying whack over the head. "You know I do not go lolling about with those weirdoes and I wanted to be here to ensure you treated our woman with care." Lady Antoinette did not miss a beat of the moment to turn her frightening attention onto me. "What is your name darling?"

"Lady Irena Dusicyon ma'am," My name came as a croak in my throat that I forced myself to swallow.

"Well Lady Irena, I run this household on a tightrope so I will not be taking any of your tricks." My head only nodded in fright to keep her attention off of my shoulders that seemed to want to crush me. "No one will hurt you here not while I will it."

"Would you excuse us for a moment Lady?" Shane nudged my back gently with his arm, "I need to get Lady Irena settled in."

"Of course!" The lady pulled him into an embrace with a grim face. Before I could slip pass them, she tugged me into one as well after she released Shane. Her voice dropped into a raspy volume in my ear, keeping the words from reaching Shane's ears, "Leave your lessons at your home, this is a different place girl. Do not trust any man that runs his mouth unless your life demands it. Be wary girl." Her arms tightened for a moment then she shoved my body away completely. My upper body moved too quick for my legs to steady me before I had stumbled into Shane and forward again. When I looked back at Lady Antoinette, her eyes held warnings of all things I have not yet met and her smile was cold for someone pretending to be warm.

"Do not feel safe, Irena, you are not an invited guest as everyone treats you to be." Shane's hand pushed on my spine to keep in front of him but to stay in reach. "This is not your home."

Shane roughly guided me to where I would be kept. It was not a cell of any kind but a bedchamber cast in the shade of golden hue. There were no bars by the entrance or even a door to shield myself behind though everything else from a bath chamber, bed, and clothes were provided. A guest, he could tell me I was not but a prisoner I was not either.

He thrown me as far as the bed frame and entered after me. I twisted to face him, sprawled on the mattress with the memories of Mr. Gardner ready to attack. My hand inched to the blade in my skirts but Shane did not make a move towards me nor his breeches.

"Finding you was no accident, do not forget that." He growled, "You are here to work for me. I will not tolerate any misbehaving from you and I want all of your projects done with approval from me or Lady Antoinette. There is no returning home so get comfortable in your room."

A barking laugh scratched my throat as it came out from my unhinged jaw. "After all these years, you have not figured out how to use anything life has given you! Maybe you should've tried convincing me with a little more effort when you left me behind." I straightened myself out on the covers as I remembered who Shane was. He was not a rapist; he used to be a lost helpless boy in need of a friend just as much as I was an orphaned girl. The boy strolled to the place beside my dangling feet to reach for my cheek. I held my face in a passive mask to keep from flinching from the gentle stroke of his knuckles.

"Do not underestimate me, my friend. While you were begging at the Bancofts' feet to take you in, I was commanding an army to destroy your warped vision of society. When you understand the difference between the hardships of reality and the temptations of illusions, you will accept this as your home." He pinched with his nails at a place just beside my eyes until I flinched away from his grip. "Until then I will wait for your work to be finished as the slave worker you are." He did not reach for my body again to the relief of tense muscles, ready to put up a fight. Shane turned on his cruddy booted heel and left through the entrance of the chamber. I slumped down on the bed: my face covered by my slender, shaking hands, my feet kicking at the bed frame behind them, and my mind releasing my consciousness for sweet release.
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