Eyes fluttering open. Lights dangling above. Figures looming nearby. Darkness encroaching. The world is fuzzy. Images flashing. Wake up.
Emily sprung upwards. Her pull was halted by a restraint over her chest. She struggled, attempting to leave the bed. “Help!” she called out. “Someone help me!” She thrashed around, but the leather strap held her down. She winced at the soreness of her muscles, but didn’t let up even after someone entered the room frantically trying to calm her.
“Shh shhh, please. You are alright now, Lady Everlock. Everything is alright now.” A woman stood over her with her hands on Emily’s left arm. Within a few moments, her freak out completely subsided. She quieted and eased up on her struggling. Psionics, the magic of the mind, she thought as her mind became dulled. The woman smiled as Emily had stopped fighting. “Better now, no?”
Emily nodded, then looked down at the strap. “Will you please get this off of me?”
“Right away, Lady. The master thought you would wander more. He is smart about these kinds of things, you know.” The woman spoke calmly but a bit blatantly as she undid the strap that held Emily down. “The master was impressed with your work. He said you work well under high pressure situations. Here I thought you were a pampered princess. Guess not, huh, Lady?” The woman smiled again. She was no eye sore and showed little behind the smile. She was genuine, which was a nice sign that made Emily feel at ease. “Would you like to see the master now, Lady?”
“Please.” Emily turned herself to stand from the bed she was on. She hurt, no doubt. She no longer felt as tired and wasn’t parched or starved either. She felt in much better shape than before. The woman in front of her now was beautiful. Her tan cloth dress was laced in red, which complimented her blonde hair well. Tips of Elven ears peeked out of her hair to explain how she was so good with her magic and charm. Elven beauties, all the same.
“Right this way, Lady.” The woman turned and began a glide to the door. She left Emily to absent-mindedly watch, who shook her head. She got the thoughts out of her head and followed the woman. The wood-walled room led into a cabin-esque setting. There was a large table that looked astonishingly like the one back in the castle. Pieces of what looked like a board game were strewn about a few maps. A man stood in the corner looking out a window. He was dressed in leather clothing and his hair was raggedly pulled into dreads. He turned- the pirate-commando man, of course. He stepped forward and spoke confidently, “Had enough sleep, Lady Everlock?”
Emily nodded sheepishly, not showing near as much confidence. “Uh, yes. Why the formalities?”
“It is only necessary for the daughter of Ladyship. Your mother is very powerful, Emily.”
“Is? No, Mother is gone.” Why must these thoughts haunt my mind?
“You could say that. Then again, you can say anyone not in this area is gone then. Your mother may not be here, but she is far from death if that’s what you think.”
Emily shook her head. “I don’t understand. They said-”
“Forgive the interruption, Lady Everlock,” the Elf spoke up. “I believe you’ve been misfed some horrible lies. If my reading during your sleep told me anything helpful, at least.”
Emily turned her head and gasped. “You invaded my mind?!”
The Elf responded with a shrug. “It only helps us out in the long run. You’ve been plagued, Lady Everlock. Fed with lies and emotions that are breaking you down. Allow me to catch you up to speed-” she held out hand, welcoming her.
Emily gulped. “Only if it helps me understand...” She reached and took hold of the Elf’s hand. In moments, her mind was flooded. She doubled back and let them take over, now seeing a regal mansion with large, stone-looking pillars. In the distance, huge cannons fired at the walls. The cannonballs landed, but glanced right off the mansion, which cracked the stone appearance to show a silver casing. It became clear that the mansion was all metal. A true fortress.
Her vision changed, now seeing the inside of a carriage. Her eyes rested on a figure across from her. A pure metal statue of a man sat there with red, piercing eyes. Her eyes nodded to the man and it moved to the door of the carriage. It exited, letting in daylight. Her vision moved forward and left the carriage as well, now able to see the outside of the Panther. What looked like tens to hundreds of metal soldiers stood in the courtyard of the building. At the door, the vile Mistress and Elektra stood. Elektra looked to the Mistress, then moved to the crowd, easily let by.
Images flashed through Emily’s mind and within those few moments after touching the Elf’s hand, she began to hyperventilate. She fell back, caught by the man. She breathed heavily and regained her balance so that she could stand on her own once again. Vomit creeped up and nearly took her by surprise. After frantically finding anything resembling a bucket nearby, Emily became sick. The man went back to the window and the Elf moved to ease the Lady’s heaving.
“They had reasons for not telling you. We had reasons for not getting you sooner. We hadn’t known you existed until you arrived in the Master’s interrogation cell, Emily. You were a miracle and possibly won us the war.”
Emily held on to the side of the large, metal bucket. Her forehead rested on her hand and she could feel tears mixing with her other fluids. She spurted out “I want my mother” before continuing to heave.
“We’ll get you to her. In time, dearie, I promise. You must become stronger and we are nowhere near where we want to be right now.”
The man, Caviere, as he said before, spoke from the corner. “My breakout was step one of the plan. The free passage of the VIP, which you assisted me with, was step two. Step three is going on as we speak, which will get us control of the Levanticon. We’ll need you for step four.”
“What’s... eugh, step four?”
“Well, if I remember from your memories,” the Elf added, “there was a masked woman you saw in the fortress. She is a tracker, you see. She will track you down in no time, for sure. She is probably on her way already. That’s why we are going to snare her in a trap, using you as... well, you know, bait.” She rubbed Emily’s back and held her braided hair back while speaking to her.
“You aren’t going to exactly be bait, Lady Everlock, but you are a key part in capturing the tracker. We need her to find Akan, the charming man you encountered before you found me. I know that you will be up to the task. After all, you harness unrivaled magical powers.” Caviere moved to a door to the room, nodded to the Elf, and then exited as quickly as he spoke.
“Don’t worry about it, Emily. You won’t have to do much, really. You can rest for now; you must still be exhausted.” Her voice was calm and gentle. Her tone could be felt, as if it were a loving pet.
Emily lifted her head up. Her voice was a bit whiny, like a child. “Please don’t... leave me.” The Elf smiled at her and the sickening feelings disappeared. A new feeling replaced them in Emily’s heart, one of comforting happiness. This woman was truly magical both physically and spiritually. She was genuine and amazing.
The Elf helped Emily to her feet, then led her back to the bedroom. She helped lie her back down on the bed and then pulled over a chair to sit with her. “You have had a rough few days, Emily. Feel like everything has changed?”
“About everything... not me, though.”
“Tell me about it. Hundreds of years go by and I still can’t fall asleep near an open window... heh, don’t worry. Things will get better.”
“Is Mo- er, my mother really out there still?”
“She is, and she is as beautiful as you remember her. She will greet you with open arms, I promise.”
“Why... did she leave me?” Emily pulled the covers up to her neck. She felt comfortable, but upset by the conversation. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for the answer.
“The setting wasn’t good for you. You didn’t want to be with us.”
“Why did I have to be left there, then?” Her voice slipped a moment, like she lost a bit of her tone.
“It was better for you.”
“It was horrible. I saw what you saw. It looked fine...”
“You don’t know, Emi-”
“I don’t know anything!” Her sudden change in tone made the Elf recoil. Emily burst up into a sitting position, glaring at her. “Your memories only gave me more questions. Why was... that place better than where you all were? Where my mother was? Do any of you even care about me, or were you ordered to make sure I made it back home? He said it himself- he didn’t think I existed.” She hugged her knees and pressed her forehead down into them. “My mother didn’t want anyone to know about me. She... didn’t want me.”
The Elf was hesitant, but moved a hand to rest on Emily’s arm, which seemed to be welcomed. Despite sounds of Emily sniffling, the Elf gave calming words. “Your mother is plagued, much like you are. She doesn’t want you to know about her wrongdoings. She’s been worried sick. Believe me, I know. I can show you all the memories I have if that will help you understand, Emily, that you are wanted. She could use you more than anything right now. Do you understand?”
Emily seemed to shiver for a few moments before bursting out into a mess of tears. She put her hands to her eyes and hunched her back to hide. The Elf moved from the chair over to the bed and wrapped her arms around the sobbing Emily. She stroked her hair and gave kind words to calm her. Amidst the crying, Emily found herself hugging the woman back. So kind, she thought. She’s too, too kind. She cried and sobbed until she had forgotten what she was so upset about. What remained in the end was clear: she had a purpose.
Once she had calmed down, Emily held a small, much more lighthearted conversation with the Elf. “So, your name is Lucelle?”
“Yes, Lady Everlock.”
“Please just call me Emily. I don’t like the ‘Lady’ stuff and I am no royalty... I, uh, think.”
“If that’s what you would like, Emily.”
“How did you get so good with your magic?”
“Oh, Psionics is my trade. People pay good money just to feel good.”
“You’re amazing with it, really.”
“Mm. I should ask you the same question, Emily.”
“I’m... not that good.”
“You’re incredible. The way you snuck around Akan, the tracker, and their guards? Impeccable work as a Dark mage.”
“Dark mage? Oh, I guess so...” In this world, there were two sides, or two opposite schools of magic. One was Light Magic, the other Dark Magic. Because of the properties it takes to learn and use one, there’s no switching once you’ve made your choice. Emily did not know this when her mother taught her the Dark Arts.
“Why so gloom? Some of the best mages I’ve met were Dark mages.”
“But what am I missing with Light Magic?”
“Oh, nothing more than some tricks you can just do with illusions. Which, as I understand, you are quite skilled in as well.”
“I guess I know a bit.”
“What didn’t your mother teach you?”
“Well... a lot about the world. I didn’t know any of this was going on.”
“It’s better that a young girl like you not be subjected to the horrors this world holds, dear. It’s a dangerous and unforgiving life out here.”
“It can’t be all bad if there are people like you, Lucelle.”
She blushed and looked away. “Thank you, Emily.”
Emily reached over and placed her hand on Lucelle’s. “No, thank you. I feel so much better now. Quite amazing, actually. Thanks to you, whether it be the magic or your true self, I do not know.”
Her eyes remained away, as if trying to avoid Emily’s two pools of dark blue. “You don’t want to see my true self, Emily.”
“What if I do?”
“Then you have clearly not seen it yet, which is a good thing.”
Emily thought about it, then smiled. She watched Lucelle’s blonde hair droop over half of her face. “Would you, uh...”
Lucelle looked back to her, the blushed cheeks now pale again. Her voice was proper, as it has been most of this time. “Yes, Emily?”
She looked down at her lap, seemingly ashamed. “Nevermind, it was childish.”
“You won’t know the answer unless you ask the question.”
“Will you, erm... stay with me? Just tonight?”
Lucelle smiled in her direction. “Of course I will. Anything for you.”
Emily smiled as well, but kept it hidden with her head down. She made it go away before sliding back down to lie on the bed once more. She turned onto her side and looked towards Lucelle, who was watching her. She appeared to be hesitant, maybe even nervous. Emily reached out to take her hand in her own. She closed her eyes and smiled. This is nice, she thought. I really, really like this.
Lucelle watched Emily drift to sleep. It was clear that she was still exhausted as it only took a minute or so before her heavy breathing began. So peaceful. Hard to tell that she is heir to the throne. Not a pampered princess, but she is no independent warrior. She’s something different, for sure. Broken, but whole. Damaged, but ready to repair. She is a true, natural mage. Minutes into her thinking, Lucelle felt herself being pushed forward. It was odd since no one was around to move her, except...
Before she knew it, she was forcefully being pulled kinetically into Emily’s arms. She didn’t want to wake her up, so she didn’t resist. Then again, this was unnatural and outside of her job description. Emily was just subconsciously using her magic; she might not have wanted what she was trying to get, that being Lucelle’s embrace. She is so much more powerful than I. Even if I tried to pull away, she would probably overpower me. So fragile, yet so, so strong. Lucelle was pulled into the bed with the High Lady’s daughter and was brought face to face with her. She cringed, attempting not to make it more inappropriate than it was. It’s not wrong if it is to ensure her comfort. This should be alright, then.
Lucelle settled in her place on the bed with Emily. She was able to compromise with Emily’s subconscious actions and had at least a few inches of room in between the two of them. Hardly any flaws on her skin. Almost like an Elf. She was able to see her short, round ears with her hair pulled back- much different from her own long, pointy ears. She would certainly turn heads wherever she went. Hm, just like her mother. Emily’s shoulder subtly rising and falling indicated that she was deep in sleep. Sleeps like her mother, too. Like an angel. Despite how magically intimidating those two are, they’re both people. They’re just women with a lot on their minds.