I thought I was dead
I thought he was dead
I was so sure
I’d made that mistake
“Salandra! What’s wrong? Did he abuse and shock you again?” Gloria asked. She’d never seen Salandra cry before.
The blue-haired girl’s sobs grew silent. She hid in the cusps of her arms before she spoke in a broken voice. “The past is a vicious boomerang.”
“So you are human after all.”
“It’s my biggest flaw.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“It’d be more fun if you were actually real. And not just my brain finding me pathetic.” Have you already grown bored of talking to yourself? Now we’ve moved on to talking to an imaginary Gloria?
I wonder where that silly girl has gone to. I thought we were building something here.
Among the broken foundations of my emotionless consciousness.
My eyes snap open. Is that blood pouring out of my arm?
My eyes drift up and I meet that annoying man’s horrid pupils. They’re wide and open and fearful like a child caught in a bear trap.
My ears wake up next, murmuring, murmuring, worried, she woke up, I hear.
I grin big and I laugh and twist on the table.
“Yes I am.” I slur as more liquid floods my veins.
And there’s fluttering panics and emotions and terror
Coursing through me again
But I’m awake
My eyes sleep again.
Oh Gloria where did you go?
I don’t want it, but your irritating presence is making me feel again.
No one’s POV
Arahelel knocked before opening the door to the large warehouse she’d slowly come to consider as an alternate home. It was definitely a lot spacier than her room at the Dragons. Nato wagged his tail as a greeting before gazing at a wall again to continue worrying.
Ara petted the dog’s coarse fur. Nato’s mood had been on and off since Nikolas had gotten captured.
She cast a look around the empty house before heading for the stairs. She found Zac just as Jesse predicted he’d be: “brooding on his bed, lamenting about Niko’s fuckup”
Jesse was…one hell of a kid, and one of the only ones who wasn’t afraid to say things with no filter. Of course his demands for everyone to do the same were what granted him the amicable title of ‘brat’.
“Hey cutie,” Ara said, slipping onto the bed with him. He welcomed her with a kiss before his eyes drifted back outside, to his melancholic thoughts. Ara decided not to say anything, preferring to play with the ends of his short bright hair.
“It feels like I’m not doing everything I should be.” Zac admitted. “Maybe I haven’t tried enough to teleport there.”
“Even Aleccas’ dragon can’t. The Hans won’t let us do the same plan again.”
“How am I supposed to-” Zac interrupted himself with a groan, searching for comfort in his girlfriend’s lap. “Nikolas is over there, being tortured daily, and there’s nothing absolutely nothing I can do except – try to move on? That’s what we did with everyone else when we lost them. That’s what everyone at the Dragons is doing now. We’re considering him as good as dead, but I can’t…” Zac sighed over his own frustration and his shoulders slumped.
“And he’s not making it easy is he,” Ara began, saying the one thing Zac didn’t have the guts to admit himself. “Coming over constantly in astral. Continuously reminding you of his fate.” Torturing her boyfriend with his incapacity to help. “There’s one thing you can do. Don’t let him drown you with him.”
“You know, Ashe told me why Niko got caught again. He saw Salandra, and he lost his composure because of something as stupid as anger. He lost this one chance to escape for….for nothing.”
Aleccas slowly and carefully weaved magic into Masak’s legs. Usually this was a complicated and long process that he did with Nikolas’ help, but the boy had gotten himself caught.
There are no spells that are meant to heal, however Nikolas had come up with an incredible idea. He had done the research all on his own and he’d come up with spell ideas that he’d bring to Aleccas to be verified and changed if needed. Niko had wanted to attempt to apply a logical scientific approach to it. With the help of medical books he’d identify the cellular parts of Masak’s body that were failing him. Of his own genius, Nikolas had devised a way to help push those cells to perform certain functions and tasks. Essentially Niko had brought forth a way to tell the body to heal itself.
It was an incredibly long and meticulous process. These were cells. They’d needed to learn how to make microscopic tasks with microscopic strands of magic. They’d already spent weeks treating Masak – spending hours on end applying this spell again and again to each cell. But that tiny miniature movement Masak had managed to make with his toe the other week was more than motivating.
“This is going to take more time without him.” Aleccas grumbled.
“I don’t thank you enough for doing this.” Masak said.
“No problem. Thanks for taking care of my egg in exchange.” Aleccas grinned.
“Oh that’s an absolute pleasure! It’s so fascinating. And it’s still alive! I’m actually confused as to why you haven’t hatched it yet. Another dragon would be useful.” Masak noticed.
“Yeah well, it’s safer this way.” Aleccas said. He elaborated once he saw Masak’s curious gaze. “Keeping these eggs safe is my family’s legacy. Well it was – it still is. Basically only mine now. It was our biggest secret. Some of my family saw it as a fantastic honor, and then there were people like my great uncle who saw it as a huge burden. Why should we have to take care of a pile of rocks forever and ever – to the point of sacrificing our lives? It’s a legitimate question to ask. My great uncle took it a little further though. He got himself the biggest sledgehammer available and tried to break the eggs with it. He failed obviously. Turns out the eggs have a crazy thick shell. So the last one is safer this way. I wouldn’t even know how to hatch it.”
“But you hatched Atris.” Masak said, tickling the said dragon.
“Yeah that was a freak accident. Just a few weeks before the Witch Wars I got my Coming of Age ceremony. That consists of placing both hands on the eggs and swearing fealty to protecting them and my family. I placed my hand on this one’s egg and POOF he hatched on me. It’s why I avoid touching the other one. It didn’t hatch then, but it’s safer if it doesn’t. Especially not now, it’s far from safe.” Aleccas said, petting Atris. The dragon hummed from all the attention.
Far from safe because of the Hans. Aleccas grimaced at the memory.
He’d woken up in this timeline chained and locked up by the Hans. Tortured and forced to watch them do the same to Atris – treated like phenomenons that needed to be understood. Aleccas had managed to escape once – but the Hans were weaker then, and they kept getting stronger with every passing second.
In case he got caught again, he’d rather the second hadn’t hatched. They wouldn’t be able to get to it in its shell.
“-and then Oscar literally, I kid you not, you know me I don’t kid that’s for the WEAK, but yeah Oscar literally burst through the classroom door and scolded our teacher like, I kept slapping my neighbor so he knew that was my robot.” Jesse grinned. “It’ll teach that teacher for calling me a brat for calling him a liar.”
“Oscar really takes things to the extreme.” Tatiana noticed.
“Everyone takes things to the extreme.” Jesse grumbled.
“True, very true.”
“Everyone including Niko.”
Tatiana subtly sighed.
“You know the guy who got himself caught?” Jesse said, crossing his arms. “What a dumbass.”
“How are things with Tristan?”
“Why are you changing subjects?”
“Because I really don’t want to hear more complaints about Niko. Or anything about Nikolas.”
Jesse grumbled. “Things are not going with Tristan.”
“Did you tell him about your huge crush on him?”
“Nope! And I never will!” Jesse exclaimed. “He’s not into guys.”
“I’m a little surprised. Thought he wasn’t into girls.”
“Oh he isn’t.” Jesse said. “Nope neither gender, neither anyone!”
Tatiana tried not to laugh, but the task was difficult. “Oh no, are you serious?”
“It’s such a waste. He’s so pretty.” Jesse lamented as Tatiana freely chuckled now. The young teen cast a look at what his friend was reading. “Even though he’s gone you’re still working on the project? He’s the one who forced you into it. You’re free now.”
A few months ago, Nikolas had taken up the cursed bank case for himself. Everyone was occupied doing other things anyway – everyone except Tatiana, whose only gift was a tattoo on her ankle that protected her against curses. Being really the best and only partner for this case, Nikolas had gone to recruit her.
Tatiana hadn’t wanted to – actually she’d been knee deep in a depression. Her adoptive parents had been killed in that explosion and her best friend Kaan had moved away with his family in the early days of the Hans’ domination. She’d been in a rut with no intention of getting out.
But Nikolas had forcefully dragged her into this project, and while she resisted and bitched and complained about it at first….having a project gave her a purpose and kept her moving. Instead of wallowing in her bed, she’d be wallowing in books and having verbal fights with Nikolas. Strange as it was, it’d been exactly what she’d needed to stop her from diving too deep in her own hole.
Eventually, when they actually started to make progress she grew interested in their case. Terrance and her had originally gone to the bank to test out this anomaly they’d detected, but they’d had no idea what was actually down there. They’d gone back later, and Tatiana had actually stepped into the basement, but the place was a maze and she’d exited before going very deep.
When Nikolas came to her with the case, he brought new information about curses. Something valuable was down there, but before going back and to see what it was, they needed to be prepared.
It was really unfortunate that Nikolas had gotten caught. They’d been planning on going to the bank soon. All their research had paid off, and they had high suspicions that whatever was in the bank was related to a sparsely talked about Whitelight heirloom. One that disappeared after the Witch Wars, but that theoretically had incredible power. Something that could possibly help them against the Hans.
“I’ve grown invested in it now.” Tatiana replied.
“I’m already dead to them. I don’t blame them, it makes sense. They can’t help me, so I’m KIA.” Nikolas muttered after a period of silence.
“There’ll be another occasion Niko.” Ashlynn replied as they worked on reducing the size of the curse. Nikolas literally had nothing better to do now than to help her.
“You know, you’re way too nice Ashe. You can’t even call me out for it, but I bet you’re thinking, yeah there’ll be other occasions, but Niko’ll fuck them up. He’s good at that.” Niko mumbled. It’s all he’d seen all day
“Self-deprecation isn’t attractive.”
“I think being tortured on a constant basis and presumed dead takes care of that.” He snorted.
Ashe scowled. “Is this where you want to be right now? Someone begging for pity and dragging everyone down with him? You got captured twice yes, man up about it. Yes it’s true that once you’re caught there’s little chance for escape, but Niko you have something the others don’t: astral. So please stop wallowing and focus on surviving until the next occasion arrives.”
“Wow okay, point taken.” She hoped he really had. Nikolas had a tendency to remind everyone at length, especially Zac, of his situation. Stressing the particularly horrible parts. He knows there’s nothing they can do, yet he pushes and pushes and for what? Pity?
“Maybe you can focus on making sure next time you don’t completely lose your cool because someone apologized to you.”
“Ha yeah….I really thought I could get away with it.” Nikolas grimaced.
“Yeah I know. You really didn’t know she was your neighbor? You didn’t check?”
“Checking felt useless. In retrospect I probably should’ve. It would’ve avoided giving her the opportunity to say something as stupid as I’m sorry.”
“What’s stupid about that? It seemed genuine.”
“How is ‘sorry’ enough? I did show you right? Everything she did?” Nikolas asked.
“It’s not like she had the time to say anything more.” Ashlynn shrugged.
“Are you defending her?”
Ashe sighed. “It sounds like you need closure from what happened. And closure for you might be hearing the full version from her so you can understand what happened. There might be things you don’t know that you can’t get from astral.”
“I just wish I knew why it happened at all.”
“I know all I need to about it.” Niko stubbornly replied.
Nikolas narrowed his eyes at her before attempting a smooth change of subject. “…So you and Jason huh?”
Ashe laughed at his attempt.
“Come on, I’m locked up. I’m still waiting on Mr.Perfect’s deep dark secret.”
“I never said he was perfect.” She shook her head, allowing his transition.
“You did an astral background check on him right?” He asked.
“Oh is that what you do every time you meet a girl you like?”
“Oh, please no girl fits those standards.” He snorted, raising his nose.
“Pff, arrogant much?”