Duel – Episode 8

(Trigger Warning – contains graphic depictions of violence, transphobic slurs, and other material that may be triggering to some people.  Reader discretion is advised.)

My mind still racing as I try to think of anyway I can escape.  The base is heavily guarded, and once a duel is declared all the guards will have a picture of me up and know to stop me from leaving the school area.  The building has infrared sensor nets that are almost impossible to avoid, from the moment they confirmed my duel they’d likely be tracking my movements.  Frantically searching my mind for any refuge, any hiding place.  And to no avail, I could not think of one.  I was in a fortress of fortresses, after-all.  I was in one of the most fortified fortresses in the Western World.  The Citadel Academy itself was a fortress inside a fortress laid in the boonies of Minnesota near a semi-active breach point.  There was a small Minnesota town outside of its gates, like many military installations had.  Well, “Little” by high-tech super highrise standards.  Another thing about the meteorites that hit us, was that they would dislodge huge chunks of land and the strange metal they possessed, and float in the air.  Yes,  These “Meteor/Land Fusions” made massive lakes in their wake, and would create floating islands.  You could see the meteoric metal glowing blue at night from low-level Cherenkov Radiation.  The radiation was no longer harmful, and it would no longer “zap” people away like it once did.  There was plenty of places I could hide if I managed to escape, but no matter how I searched, or the places I’d wished I could hide, there was likely no way I could.

I moved away from the rescue fountain, and looked towards Fallon’s Silhouette again, trembling terribly.  She walks closer to me, and reaches out her arms and hands me two of the large drinks from the fridges in the cafeteria.  One red, one orange.  In the shock of the moment now beginning to subside inside me I am still unable to respond normally.  She walks so close to me that I can smell her scent, and somehow it relaxes me a bit.  I look down at the top of her head as she reaches around me to shove the drinks in my bag.  As the light from behind her reflects off her hair it has a bluish and reddish sheen in it.  As her head leans back again I can feel her touch retract away from my skin again, and I feel something stir inside me, but I don’t understand this feeling.  My heart rate is slowing, calming some how.  We are both healers, so this isn’t uncommon, but there is something lingering behind her expression as her face turns up to me more.  She is now looking in my eyes, and me in hers.  Unlike before her gaze doesn’t unsettle me, rather it centers me in some strange way I wasn’t expecting.

“Whatever you do, don’t kill the poor kid”, she says to me while reaching up with one finger to push my glasses up on my nose.

“What do you mean? I’m a healer, how could…”, she turns and walks away before I could ask her what she meant.  “Fallon”, I call to her with hand outreached.  She turns to me and just looks at me still mostly facing forward.  There is a look of concern on her face and her lips are pressed tightly together for a moment.

I stop for a moment has her form disappears into the shadows and I can hear her foots steps ascending the stairs.  I have to change uniforms.  The combat uniforms look similar, accept that they are much thicker and rigid, like body armor put together in a specialized, custom fitted Kevlar outfits, with segments of semi-flexible armor plating in them.  They were almost uncomfortably rigid and form-fitting, but just flexible enough.  I ascended the stairs hoping to hear the lingering echos of Fallon’s to comfort me, but there was no sounds but my footsteps.

I walk into my room and pull out the uniform, hang it on my bathroom door and seat myself on the edge of the bed.  I am shaking again, with this lingering panicked feeling like the kind I get after an anxiety attack.  My hands and skin feels cold of the recent perspiration long since evaporated.  So I begin to undress, and since I was already shivering I couldn’t tell if I was cold or scared.  These uniforms are a pain to take off and put on, having all the annoying trimmings of formal military attire.  At the end of the day I’d have the annoying indentations of my stocking suspenders seemingly etched into my thighs.  I stare at the uniform naked, cold, scared, and feeling stripped of my worth, my dignity in some way by the episode of today.  I can’t help but feel as though I am both in my body and outside of it looking down.  I wonder to myself if this is what happens when you are about to die.  Hoping to quell this feeling now, realizing I’d been sitting there spacing out for nearly an hour, I decide to get a shower then dress.  It’s 5:45pm, as I set my glasses by the nightstand, and find myself fixated for a moment on the teal, blinking light.  The water feels so cold, so I flip it to the hottest setting hoping to wash away the cold tension, perhaps even myself in its warm embrace.  It is almost too hot for a moment, but I am far too distracted to pay it that much attention.  My long hair sounds like a wet tent canvas over my ears as I stare at the drain and space out to the sound like rain against my skull.  My perception of time is so scattered, not that this is a new thing, but my tendency to space out always had negative effects on that.  That realization crossing my mind made me freak out because I don’t know how long I was spacing out there, so I fling the plexiglass door of the shower open and snatch my towel on the way out I run out as I dart out to check the time.  6:30pm.  The sight makes me frantic, as the bullet proofed, rigid but cute Gothic military armor takes far longer to put on than standard clothing.  There are 10 clasps that when connected properly hide neatly beneath its armor plated layers, but they are strategically difficult to fasten, and there is a specific order.  Frantically I throw my hair up in a towel, and begin unfastening the buckles, 2 by 2.  I am shivering, but I don’t have time to worry.  I can’t be late or the consequences will be far greater.   In this fortress my only hope now is for the Iudicant presiding over the match to be merciful.  Duels could be called off by the Iudicant, or in certain instances the Inspector General whom served directly in line to a Iudicant.  They served on a normal rotation of 4 days on per month, nearly approximate.

Now dressed, and faster than I had anticipated with 15 minutes until 7pm, I activate my terminal frantically hoping that Iudicant Parsons is on duty tonight.  Duels didn’t happen here often which made them major spectacles to be seen.  It served to desensitize the students to violence against those who were branded, as if there wasn’t enough other methods to do that.  For the Iudicant, it was just their “special duty” the days they were on tap for that.  They had other roles during the day, and presided on duels the days they occurred was just one of them.  I checked the site roster, and it was indeed Parsons on the schedule for that night.  I breathed deeply, and relaxed a bit.  6:50pm, and I had 21 flights of stairs, and what seemed like a 150 yards of hallway to walk.  So I rushed up to my feet again sending the rolling chair flying back against my bed and chugged one of the drinks.  I didn’t look, but my tongue knew it was the orange flavored one.  I pull my identicard (A specially chipped card issued to military personnel) from my bag and put it in a special pocket on the bottom of my top, and rush out the door while deactivating my terminal with a wave of my hand.

Anxiety, and the pangs of my fears echoing into my footsteps were now melded in to the sounds of a distant crowd of people in the stadium.  The Triarch Arena was in the middle of the three stared asterisk formation of the buildings and was the size of a high school football stadium, and relatively similar in design.  It had a shield over it made of energy that you could only vaguely see light shine off of at an obtuse angle, so only its perimeter could be seen, almost like a soap-bubble.  I can hear the dull roar of hundreds of people gathered for the duel.  There was a line as I got close to the stairs that went up to the nosebleed seats.  There was a man with a Scanning PDA ID checking all people entering and logging them in the database.  As I ran down the hall I could vaguely feel the cameras following me, and only me.  It was an eery feeling, but if I was late it would only be worse for me, and void any chance I had to forgo this duel.  As I stand in the quickly shrinking line, I touch the built it pouch on my leg full of blue cards, and in some way I’d wished I’d worn that uniform on this day instead.  My turn now, and the man scans my face with the PDA, and an usher in the “Knights Templar” looking body armor runs up to him.  This man is my escort to the blue box, the place you sit, imprisoned, when you are destined for a duel.  It was 10 chairs, but the most ever filled on the same night was 4.  There was around 150 people with various marks at this school, and around 500 a year would enter.  Most of them would never graduate, which took between 6 and 8 years.  It was basically high school through college level, and then you’d leave an officer, the crowning achievement of those who were marked.  As the man ushered me out of the hallway, I was bathed in the blue halogen light of the stadium lights, and escorted down to the booth of 10 seats inside a secure,blue, plexiglass cage.

On the far side there was a platform protruding from the stands that looked something like a viewing place for a coliseum of ancient times.  The pope if he was there that day, the higher-ups of the church, the Iudicant, and other senior ranked clergy, to include the IG and the Headmaster, would sit up there.  That is where my sanctuary would appear when the time arrived.  It was now 7:04pm on the large digital clock just below the viewing/announcement stage where the Iudicant would appear shortly.  I saw the guard escort Cadet Ensign Crowder to the red booth which just had red seats, and an open view.  He didn’t require a cage, and it felt as though I was captive for my own execution.  I sat in that transparent, blue, plexiglass cage like a bird waiting to be slaughtered for a for an exotic feast.  He looked over at me arrogantly, with privilege to reinforce his position over me.  I avert my eyes in terror.  A healer against a power user.  If not granted freedom from this… Well, it would be a blood bath… Of my blood…  I began shaking horribly… Hoping under my breath that I could just wake up from this nightmare.

The crowd begins to roar in praise as the Headmaster, Iudicant, IG and all the other Bishops and Arch Bishops of the school come out onto the platform.  I have never met the Iudicant, but I know of by face and name Iudicant Parsons, Edge, and McPherson.  The face of the Iudicant is obscured from my eyes, by the bright lights.  Then the Master of Arms comes up to speak.  This night it was the Headmaster, but anyone of high enough rank could be take the role of Master of Arms.  The crackle of the intercom and loud speakers causes the crowd to drop their chatter to a dull roar.  “Tonight we are gathered here to preside over a duel, the first one in nearly a month at this prestigious arena.  Triarch Arena”, says the man dressed in black religious robes, with a long scarf-like band hanging down with rank indicative of a headmaster on it.  The man known to most as only “God’s Almighty Hand” was a massive man, who looked like he could bench-press a bus, and had a voice like that of a giant.  Deep, intimidating… The kind of voice that could send chills down anyone’s spine, even the devil him or herself.  The crackle and voice begin again,”Tonight we shall see the hand of God in this arena as one of our students is placed before his mercy, or his wrath.  Tonight, presiding…”  My mind blanks as I anxiously hope beyond all hopes that I will be spared.  Even though the voice came out of the loudspeaker with pause, this moment is frozen in my mind.

And then it happens, “presiding tonight is Iudicant McPherson.  He will be convening with our Almighty Lord for Guidance on this night.”

My blood runs cold, sweat beads up, and my palms become more clammy than before.  That salty, nauseous taste arises in my mouth again.  McPherson is a vulgar, hateful man, known not only for approving all duels, but also skewing the rules against the red cardee on whatever occasion he saw fit.  He believed that if we were worthy of saving, that somehow the invisible hand of God would spare us that fate.  That was how he shirked responsibility for the deaths he permitted and endorsed, and through his faith was reassured in his own piety.  My advocate gave me a good run down of the faces and names I’d need to know, his being at the top of my avoid list.  “Will you speak now”, the headmaster announces gesturing to the Iudicant’s Seat.  Arises a frail looking man with the most scary, battle-worn expression I can imagine on a human face.  He approaches the podium, and reaches out and readjusts the mic to be closer to his mouth.  On bated breath, I watch as my fate is decided.  “Evening, I am Iudicant McPherson”, he says, and the crowd goes wild.  Waving with both hands for them to quiet down he begins again, “I can’t on this night, in good conscience, allow for a dismissal.  I don’t feel it is right for us to interfere in the fates of these two individuals.  It is through my diligent studies as a Iudicant, and my understanding of Our Lord, that I have come to understand this proceeding as a necessary act of obedience, mercy, and in the best spirits of our obedience to our creator.  As well, I will leave it up to the Red Card carrier in this duel to have freedom to fight has he is so divinely guided to do so.  Now let us begin”, says the Iudicant through the loudspeaker system.  And just like that, without any consideration for me, my story or my life, it was decided.  I would duel.  As if like a light switch, I began to go numb inside.  Numb with terror the likes of which I’d never known.  I’d never, not once been forced to fight for my life in such a manner.  Duels seldom went in favor of the red carded person, and in nearly a decade I’d avoided all challenges.

With an electric latching sound the 10 seat wide gate opened up to the field.  I am frozen in my seat, and the side door opens and the guard drags me to my field aggressively by my arm.  With a powerful shove, I am pushed onto the field and the blue gate closes quickly behind me behind me.  “Contestants, take your positions”.  On each side of this football field sized arena there is a large blue and red dot on each opposing side.  That is the starting position.  My eyes pan the crowd looking for any friendly face I can find, and I am too frantic to find a single one.   There is weapon cages on the right side of the player from each starting position.  Cadet Ensign Crowder approaches one as I turn to center myself in the blue dot.  The field is beaming with blue light except for the menacing shadow cast by the viewing box on the field.  The viewing box protrudes all the way out until it’s at the edge of the field itself.  There is some flood lights on it, but they aren’t enough to illuminate the field to the same degree as the stadium lights.  Now standing in front of the cage, the expert spearsman, Crowder, knocks on the cage with his fist.  The cage opens and he withdraws a specialized spear.  The weapon looks like a spear melded with a telescopic pole, with the tip of a spear being like a normal spear blade accept that it has a bluish glowing metal blade at the tip. The blade itself looks like a retractable pocket knife you’d use in arts and crafts only bigger, the kind where you can snap off the dull blade and extend it revealing a new sharp blade.  The metal is releasing only a dull glow, what is only visible in shadow.  Crowder holds it up towards the Iudicant for approval, and the Iudicant approves with a nod.  I begin to walk towards the cage myself when I am stopped by the Iudicant’s voice, “No.  I can not abide in this.  You are not permitted to have weapons in this arena, and this rule has always been so.  You are marked, and if God is on your side he will be your spear and spare you from your execution”, he says with stern seriousness.  I back pedal 5 steps to my dot, knowing that rebellion would surely get me pegs by sniper posts on the light system itself.

“How am I to defend myself”, I shout, but there is far too much noise and distance for my unamplified voice to reach.  Crowder takes his position, “Cadet Ensign Roe will now face Cadet Ensign Crowder in a duel.  Now we are set, and the duel shall begin.  May God guide their fates, and may his eternal light shine on you”, says the loudspeaker in a woman’s voice.  The Iudicant holds up a bell and rings it.  The crowd cheers loudly, and Crowder smiles… My mind races for fear of the pain, and death that will ensue if my skin is pierced by this blade.  The blades don’t just cut, but poison those with powers like mine.  Even if it isn’t vital organs it hits, the blades are designed for one purpose… To kill tempests.  A serious deathly calm washes over Crowder’s face, and he begins to power up.  Electricity and blue light surrounds his body.

He starts at first walking, then running as I turn and look for refuge, and there is none.  The fences around me are electrified, there is no where I can go.  I am frozen to the ground in absolute anxiety, like a deer in the headlights of a car.  His power propels him forward a little bit faster and I tensely and anxiously fear the moment where he’ll kill me.  I am sweating profusely.   Now 3 yards away he thrusts the spear at me and activates its telescopic extender, causing me to jump and twist out of the way… It’s so close I can hear the whistle of the blade in the air.  Quickly retracting its length he holds the spear with one arm now, and raise his fist to me.  I am now running towards the opposite end of the field, but not fast enough.  His reared back fist punches in a direction in front of my path, sending a burst of energy at me.  I feel a static field and powerful force pushing me forward and an intense electrical shock.  I am now flying forward at twice the speed I was running before, I am now skidding across the artificial grass of the field.  My skin is tingling and I am having a hard time moving for a moment.  Crowder is standing where he was, now inciting the crowd into a frenzy by chanting and raising his spear.  I can hear their shrill screams and occasionally a shout, “Kill it!”, and sometimes “Kill the Tranny”, “Kill the abomination”.  They are actually cheering on this ludicrous arena of violence and hatred.  They are enjoying themselves, I feel anger begin inside me, but not enough to pierce the fear and pain I am experiencing.  My forearm is rub burned a little, but fine as I push myself off the ground and back to my feet.  Crowder looks over and becomes deathly serious again and begins to charge at me again.  I begin a similar flanking motion again, and he does and electrified charge at me, and then three quick lunges with the spear at me.  I dodge the first two, and narrowly escape the third. as it whisks by my hair cutting a few pieces causing them to fall to my shoulder.

He rushes in with the spear retracted behind him and punches me in the stomach with his fist and also sending an even more intense electrical shock through my body.  I double over in pain and he turns away to incite the crowd again.  I am coughing up a little blood.  This pain is starting to send my body into shock a little.  It hurts so bad, but I feel strangely lucid in this moment, and then I spot my opportunity.  His back is turned… So I collect myself and begin to run at him.  I can almost touch him, and all I see is a flash of blue.  I am flying through the air.  I open my eyes to see the night sky above the triangle space between the buildings.  I feel the air blowing past me, and then from behind the ground violently slams against my back knocking the air out of my lungs.  I slide 10 yards and stop.  I double over onto my side into the fetal position, and look towards Crowder.  My body is racked in the pain of yet another shock, skin and muscle numbly tingling and twitching, and I can feel a pulsating pain in my shoulder where I was kicked it would seem.  He is standing there with his left foot still raised in the air from the kick.  My vision is starting to blur, I try to push myself to my feet, but every joint is pulsating in incredible pain, so I flounder.  I am near my blue dot again, and I start to regain myself and slowly push my leaden body to it’s feet.  My uniform shielded me a bit, as I can see tiny char marks from electricity in various spots, and slightly melted material in others.  But it didn’t shield me much as would give solace.  As I stand up straighter now and I am unable to move my left arm from the pain in my shoulder.

Crowder looks to me in his rinse and repeat dance of death which this match has been.  He runs at me again, glowing blue with electrical violence.  I am unable to run, my legs hurt too much and are greatly weakened.  So I wait, and hope I can dodge his attacks.

He is 3 yards from me again and he lunges his spear forward, and I attempt to predict where it will go and dodge to my left side, and face my good side more into him.  But his move was a feint, and the telescopic spear hits me with a thud, and I feel my body jolt from the impact.  Shock fills me from head to toe has I feel the intense, sharp, warm, pulsating pain in my abdomen.  I can’t talk, or say anything, and my breathing is labored.  He twists the polearm a little causing sharp smarting pain, and the sound of a snapping piece of metal.  The sharp pain turns warm against my skin and my whole abdomen aching of every pain I have ever experienced.  The spear retracts with a noticeable sum of my blood on it, and the blade missing from its tip.  The poisonous blade is inside me and I can feel it burning.  I fall to my knees unable to stand as my legs are now weak and cold to me.  I can feel the warm sensation of blood saturating my undershirt, and see some of it pouring out of the cut in my body armor onto my uniform and leg.  It feels warm but starts to cool as it drenches the top of my skirt.  I am starting to feel light-headed and woozy.  In this moment I can’t help but cry a little.  I can feel the cold, burning sensation of some of the poison starting to go through my blood stream from the blade inside me.

I look up to the crowd and our eyes finally meet.  Fallon is against the in the stands up against the rails as close as she can get to me with her mouth covered with her hands and tears streaming down her face.  Crowder inciting the crowd again is just out of sight in the corner of my right eye as I watch Fallon run towards the entrance to the field.  She is screaming now, and the guards are restraining her.  After a moment she desists and presses herself against the fence around the side of the entrance.  She is covering most of her face again tears still streaming down.  The other students are either cheering, or just sitting there with stone cold faces, though most are cheering.  I am feeling more faint, my vision more blurry.  I am starting to lose consciousness, my body growing colder when this mysterious anger wells up inside me.  At first slight, but stronger and stronger as I look towards the gloating Crowder who is more than halfway down the field now.  Stronger and stronger it grows inside of me…. The burning of the poison perhaps, or something else, but suddenly my body growing colder begins to warm.  My skin stops being numb and begins to tingle, my hair standing on end.  My lungs begin to feel as though they are energized.  My body starts to feel normal again, and my rage continues to rise, and rise.  I begin to push myself to my feet again.  There is still immense pain in my abdomen, but I push myself up in spite of it, as if compelled by an unknown force of rage.  Some in the crowd react to seeing me now standing down the field and grow quiet as a result.  Crowder looks down the field and his victorious face fades into confusion.

I ignite my hand and place it over my wound, and with bright green and turquoise flames I extract the blade.  Holding the blade out in my bloodied hand, I let it slide off and stick into the ground.  Crowder bangs the back-end of the spear against the ground causing a new blade to come out.  Putting my hand back to the wound I ignite my entire body in green spiraling flames.    This feeling inside me threatens to consume me in this state of angry tears.  Blood still covering my hand I let it drop to my side.  Absolute all-consuming rage fills me, and then I breathe in and calm it.  My flames calm with it now encircling me at more than three times the normal size of my aura field.  I look to Fallon, and she looks back at me with surprise with tears still not dried from her face, and her face no longer covered.  I look down field and I see Crowder now prepared for combat again, and a defiance that arises out of the annoyance his face instills in me is clear on my face.  I am no longer bleeding and through the cut in my outfit he can see that I am completely healed.  My own blood drips from my fingers as I begin to feel that strange energizing defiance rising up inside me again.  Looking up to the sky I let green flames engulf me beyond the point where anyone can see me within them.  Then I stop them.  I feel that burning feeling in my chest like I did the first time I used my power, and a tremendous urge to act welling up inside me.  I scream at the top of my lungs, and I lunge into the sky.  I can feel the air, and an incredible release inside me, I feel like I am flying and I smell o-zone.  Now 5 stories in the air I look down on Crowder, and my defiance empowers me, so I begin to draw back my fist.  In this long flying arch I can feel the tips of my hair caressing the bubble of the force field causing arcs of electricity to sparkle.  I feel a surge of energy to flowing into my primed right fist, and I feel electricity welling up inside… Deep from inside me a voice calls to me… ‘NO!!!!’… It’s Fallon’s voice.  I release the power in my fist and the Earth continues to rush up towards me.  I charge my flames instead and hit the ground with such intense force that I can hear the echo of a shock-wave of sound echo back to me.  Where my hand impacted there is a fist indentation and foot prints just less than a centimeter deep.  I stand up, and stare at Crowder defiantly burning in spiral flames.

He drops his spear and I can hear the rattle of its metal as it hits the ground.  A wet spot and clear, yellow liquid begins to show from the crotch of his pants and drip down his leg and to the ground.  He is as white as a sheet, and he then passes out cold on the field next to his blood covered spear.

From all around me I hear a loud buzzer sound, and I noticed the look of shock from the crowd for the first time.  I’d just done a 50 yard, 7 story high ground pounding punch that nearly shorted out the containment field of the arena.  Dismay, even horror shown as clear as day on their blue-lit faces.  Only the headmaster was known to have an aura field the size I’d displayed.  My flames now subsided had repaired all the damage done to my body throughout the fight.  “Order, order, the match is over, the match ‘is’ over”, I hear the female voice over the intercom.  I looked up towards the viewing booth with an expressionless face.  “Cadet Ensign Roe is the victor, her opponent has collapsed from exhaustion.  She was merciful, and did not kill Cadet Ensign Crowder.  This match is over, in favor of Cadet Roe”, now chiming across the intercom from Iudicant McPherson.  “Everyone now return to dormitories or any other duties you must attend to.  Do so in an orderly fashion, and may God watch over you all”, he continues now though you can hear shaking in his voice over what he just witnessed.  I look to the crowd and I can’t see Fallon anywhere in the bustle of shock onlookers flooding from the stands.  I walk out of the stadium, and the blood on my clothing has already started to dry.  My hand is now covered in dried blood now flaking away in spots. The hallways are full of students leaving the field, and many stop and all give me wide berth.  When I approach the stairwell door they all silently split to let me pass.  The students up the stairwell hurry to get out of my way as I climb the 21 flights of stairs, and the students walk behind lagging at least a flight of stairs behind me.  I exit the stair well and the students still in the hall press themselves against the wall and watch me.  I approach my door, unlock it, and enter.  As I do I can hear whispering chatter in the hall, and people resume going into their own rooms.  It’s 7:45pm now, and with my door firmly closed I begin to absorb what just happened today, “What was that power I felt just now, and how did I do that”, I murmur to myself.

I start to feel sick, so I run into the restroom and vomit into the toilet.  Waves of sweat roll over my body, and my blood drenched uniform coat paints spots of the ivory porcelain red with my blood.  There is a substance like coffee grounds in it, and just smelling it makes me vomit more.  3 more times and the sweat begins to cool me enough that I can stand again.  I wipe the toilet of blood with a rubbing alcohol towelette, and flush it down with the bile from my stomach, that is of an orangish tinge.

I walk over to the mirror sink and begin to wash the blood from my hands, which looks like a whirlpool of red as it goes down the drain.  I strip first my over-jacket, and then my undershirt off and slide my bloodied, semi-rigid skirt down and onto the floor.  I grab an extra trash bag from under the sink, and throw the bloody items in the bag. With a moist rag from the sink I wipe away the remaining blood, and remove the blood soaked panties.  The blood now wiped clean with another alcohol wipe, I walk to the bedside night stand and put on a new pair of underwear.  I am so weak now that I must brace myself against things to not fall over.  I can still feel some burning in my veins, but only slight.  I am in a full on cold sweat by the time I sit on the edge of the bed, almost missing it has I fall back.  I feel faint.  I struggle to unbuckle and remove my thigh high boots, as I sense that I am now in shock from the fight, and use of power.  “This isn’t good”, I say to myself now kicking the last boot off and into the tied shut bag of bloodied clothing sitting against the wall by the sink.  I pull 1 beverage from the fridge to wash away the vomit taste, and to hopefully recuperate.  It’s the Cherry beverage that Fallon brought me, and as I drink it as fast as possible I think of her… “Where did she go”, I say as I lay back onto my bed in little more than bra, panties and thigh high leggings.

I am starting to feel better, but my strength is failing, muscles twitching and cramping up from lack of electrolytes.  I wonder to myself, ‘Can I handle this place’.  Those people in the arena where happy to see me die, and only shocked when I didn’t perish.  The cold feeling of that kind of hatred washed over me, and caused my body and my heart to ache.  I start to whimper, as I can’t help it.  I can’t keep the emotions inside and I break into a full-blown tears.  But I don’t have much energy left, so I am all out of sorts, and it dampens the effect of my emotional state.  I am coming undone.  Every time I get like this the pain of all the years of loneliness, and isolation come back to me… Even the ones from when I was in breach for nearly 130 years.  My whole body ached for the saving touch of love, of the embrace of a woman, or the calming embrace of my mom.  Anything, I wished for anything to ease the painful ache… I was too weak to curl up in a ball like I’d usually do in that kind of pain.  I longed so hard, and so deeply for someone’s touch that it was though my mind, my heart was screaming out in the darkness of my room, only lit with the weak light from my sink mirror.  My emotional state is broken a little by what seems to be my room door opening.  I can see the hall lights on the ceiling, and then the door closes gently again blocking them out.  I am too weak to lift my head up from my pillow, but I can see a female silhouette coming towards me.  She climbs up the bed, and I feel a slight sense of dread, but then I sense a familiar scent I’d smelled earlier in the day.  I can feel the softness of Fallon’s body climbing up my body and it intensifies the ache I feel.

I recognize it now, that in this moment my weakened body is aching for her touch, a longing in me seemingly awakened by her.  She climbs up to my face, and is now laying completely over me.  Looking up at her, I can see a dull green glow around her.  She begins to press her face against my neck and her breath tickles a little, then this warm tingle begins to flow over my skin.  Then a sudden sharp, but strangely pleasant sensation digs into the soft tender skin on the side of my neck.  Fallon is biting my neck, but I am too weak to fight back and her touch, and even her bite both cause me pleasure and make my body and heart ache.  My emotions overflow as tears stream down my face and over my ear.  She is sucking my blood, but it doesn’t seem she intends to harm me.  I can’t help but moan quietly and cry in her presence and touch.  She retracts her fangs, and I can feel regular teeth against my neck now and she looks at me face to face now. “The poison is gone now”, she says to me warmly, “I could hear your screams through the wall by the way”.  “I never said anything, how did you”, I say has she presses a finger against my lips.  “I can hear everything inside you.  It started a couple of days ago, and when I saw you for the first time I knew it was your voice”, she says and for the first time I can see her smiling at me, but only slightly.  She kisses the tears on my cheek and I can help but cry even more.   I hadn’t been touched in so long that this longing ache inside me consumed every pore of my essence.  With my hands, I reached up and touched her waist and felt her tense up for a moment, and then she relaxed against me even more resting her weight completely on me.  She rolls over to the side of me, and turns me on my side as well.  She presses her knee between my legs and our legs intertwine.  A sensation of joy surges through me from my head to my toes, and it feels as though I know this feeling.  I feel something awaken inside me.  She pushes her right arm under my neck, and her left arm around my waist, and as she pulls me closer I feel as though I am being consumed into her.

She presses her forehead against mine and pulls my body close and presses her breast against mine.  I can feel nothing of the world, or my bed, or of this citadel.  I can only feel her body pressed against mine in this all-consuming moment. She pulls her face back from mine a bit and leans her lips into mine.  I can feel her hover them for a moment, as though unsure of whether to go ahead or not.  Her lips touch mine and emotions explode from my heart and I begin to tremble a little as the feeling washing over me.  My hair stands on end as the sensation consumes me.  Her lips are soft, and wet, and it make me feel as though my body has disappeared.  She’d removed my poison, and now it was as if she was pulling out the pain from deep inside me out with her lips.  She kisses me again, and again.  Her touch is so soft and so gentle that I had no choice but to be immersed in this feeling.  She now turns to her back more and pushes her self up a little.  She clutches me firmly and presses my face against her neck.  I swear I know this smell, her scent, as though I had known it forever.  The whimpers and the moaning I’d been murmuring had stopped… I was no longer shaking, and feeling cold sweats… I was totally at peace in her arms, a feeling I hadn’t known in a century, or 10 years of my memory.  No thoughts, no pain, just her softness, and the bittersweet emotion of her touch against me, and the wonder of her scent.  At last, the end of a day that I’d never forget.  The warrior was finally at rest if only for this moment.

To be Continued…