- January 8, 2023
Raydorn: The War in the Black (Chapter 37)
“It is what one does behind closed doors when they risk no consequences for their actions, that shows who they truly are.”
Queen Seras of Raydorn, 448 A.C.A.
The chains that left them hanging above their heads had cut off the circulation to Lucy’s hand. Her remaining arm didn’t hurt anymore, at least.
Still, she and Par hung from the ceilings, him joining her in torture and victimhood, the treatment of traitors to Endica.
No sound could have awoken Lucy from her pain-stricken unconsciousness. Not the raging flames, nor the men screaming.
But the smell of smoke… that made her eyes twitch open.
The world was bright for the first time, but it did not blind her as brightness usually would. When Lucy opened her eyes to a warehouse filled with flames, her heart didn’t beat any faster, and fear did not overwhelm her heart. No matter what happened that day, her hell was at an end…
One way or another.
The wood burned as if it were covered in oil. People were running, engulfed in fire, the flames smothering out the sounds they would make. The others were unable to make another sound. It was unnatural the way the wood burned.
It would only take one to come and end it all.
The flames grew twice as large in Lucy’s eyes. There was this call to her, for her to touch them, to walk into the fire and feel them wash over her. She would shrivel up into a puff of smoke, if only she heeded the abyss’s call.
Clink. Clink. Clink.
The sound of metal fidgeting with metal passed Lucy by. There were only the flames, and the invitations they sent her freely.
When the form of a small boy ran across Lucy’s vision, he took the dream with him and forced reality upon her mind. Suddenly, the flames weren’t so plentiful, and so obvious. The brown color of the wood floor was easy to see, and the lack of a boy hanging next to her wasn’t too difficult to notice.
“Hmm?” she muttered before there was a clang, and she dropped to the floor.
She fell less than a foot off the ground, but this sharp strike of pain started under her kneecaps and shot right up her legs. She gasped in pain as laid there on the ground, inhaling the smoke.
Lucy felt Par’s hand on her shoulder as he made her sit up. “<You must rise, this is our chance, this was your crew!”
My crew… my crew… my crew! They finally came for me, they actually came for me!
Lucy’s eyes fluttered as her heart started pumping once again, and she couldn’t breathe without using her whole diaphragm. “Yeah, yeah, let’s go… let’s go… please dear god…”
She prayed to god with her first words and would come to regret them.
She clung to the boy as he pulled her to her feet. With only one arm, her whole sense of balance was off. As she moved, she found herself leaning to the side, and stumbling into hot crates.
Par was there to help keep her steady, but she quickly pushed him off. With her strength he nearly tumbled, her body granting her power to escape the hellfire. She pressed on, limping with her one arm against the wall.
As she pressed on, she found herself lost in the maze as the flames only burned brighter and hotter.
“This way!” she heard Par yell, so she pushed on, and found a hand around her mouth.
Par nearly took an elbow to the stomach until the enemy ran past them. Men who had taken joy in seeing them hurt would have caught them if Lucy had pressed on a bit faster.
“Please follow me, conserve your strength for when we need it,” he told her as he moved her arm over his shoulder, and kept her balanced as he led the way.
Lucy gripped Par’s shoulder to stay as close to him as she could. He pulled her through the warehouse as it began to fall apart around them. He kept them away from the other men trying to escape. He traversed the warehouse with ease as if he always knew where they needed to go like this was all according to plan.
Who plans an escape like this? My crew honestly.
Lucy was half smiling as Par dragged her around. Her strength was returning to her, her body nimble on its feet, but her mind was not so strong. The flames had begun to grow blindingly bright, and the winds began to push them back and forth. She could see the way they would bend on a whim.
It was mesmerizing until it was all she saw.
A man ran right into Par and sent them both tumbling. The man struggled with Par, but Lucy rolled onto her stomach where she stayed. She tried to push herself up but kept pushing herself onto her side when there was only one arm to balance on.
She couldn’t fathom why her phantom limb wasn’t there, screaming on the ground as the sensitive skin on her barely growing stump burned against the heated wood. She screamed in pain, and futility as Par was struggling to fend off his attacker.
‘Stand, Lucilla, stand.’
The winds pushed the flames back as the voice spoke.
‘Stand, Lucilla, you must stand!’
Lucy turned to rest on the side of her face. From the ground, she saw the winds swirl in a place where they should be dead and gone. The winds called to her, and she was beyond beholden to answer.
She pushed against the floor with her head to get her knees up, and was able to sit on her knees that way.
As she looked up to see the winds combing the room. They began to flood before her, flowing under her form, pressing her to rise to her feet. She stood up, somehow balancing on two feet as the winds began to form together.
‘Rise, Lucilla,’ the winds kept beckoning her, ‘rise, Lucilla, rise!’
“I’m up,” she muttered back, “I’m up…!”
The winds began to swirl into the shape of a man, and that man reached out to her. The winds formed a hollow smile as he offered her his hand, and made her deaf to the calls for help behind her.
Again, he told her, ‘Rise, Lucilla.’
She only wanted to touch his hand, “Lapis.”
Upon saying the wind’s name, the hollow smile became a growl of rage, the winds turned into snarling flames, and a face of fire with the unforgiving hate of the forge screamed at her.
“Rise to die, Lucilla! Die forsaken by fire!”
The Goddess of the Fire and Forge screamed in her face and opened her charcoal mouth to swallow Lucilla whole.
Lucy screamed out for her life, for she knew that it was time for it to end.
“Lucy!” was the last thing she heard as she was tackled, and her sight was consumed by darkness.
It had been a long time since a liquid had touched her skin. It filled it with the strength to open her eyes. As it began to swirl underneath her, Lucy could feel the dry skin all over her body begin to fade away. Then through even the burning particles of smoke, she opened her eyes and saw clearly.
The pillar had collapsed and the floor underneath her was cracked. Like most warehouses by water, it was built atop it, and now it was taking on water.
The water was her domain.
It was not enough to heal her wounds or to mend her broken bones, but she was able to force herself to her feet.
The fire was calm again, or at least in comparison to how it looked before when it was the goddess herself. It was burning the building away rather than her entire world. It wasn’t so bright and made the shadows that surrounded her appear even darker.
By the look of it, she was trapped. The fallen columns, banisters, and burning crates had blocked her way. There was only her, a small hole in the ground, and the wall outside.
Her eyes set upon the boy underneath the banister. He appeared crushed in half, trapped, and devoid of life to her eye.
I’ll remember you for this, Pareekshan Karenge.
Lucy turned to the wall and placed her one hand upon it. As the smoke grew and the fires raged, so did her fist. She placed knuckles upon the wood, reeled back, and with one punch…
… she pushed through.
Her hand was out the other side, and with a mighty rip, she tore the wall down.
“Aaahhh!!” she screamed. With the water, came back her nerves, and with her nerves came pain as she sliced open her arm. She was covered in wood as it fell on her, bringing her to her knees, and hitting her head once again.
‘Flee coward,’ she heard the voice of Krera once again.
“Leave me be…” Lucy muttered, covering her war with her hand, and failing to do the same with her phantom limb.
‘Flee as you always have.’
“Leave me alone.” Lucy hit her head as the voice would not stop.
‘A coward, you will forever be.’
“Leave me alone!” She howled to the fire, and the fire only crackled back. The fire was nothing but fire once again.
But the body underneath it was not so devoid of life. “<Help…>”
Lucy froze at the sound. As her arm bled and the feeling of her own blood run down her arm made her feel cold, she was as still as a stone.
Her ears worked fine though as it again spoke, “<Help me.>”
Before Lucy’s eyes looked up, more crates fell near her, sending hot cinders up against her side. Her legs thrust her back onto her feet as she hissed out at the pain of embers burrowing into her skin. She still had the power of an octopus. She had all of its strengths but was less able to stand up to the fire with suffering pain.
“I… I need to get out of here,” she said in a huff as she turned towards the hole she had made. She tried to catch her breath and madly rub the embers off her arm at the same time.
Then she heard the sound again. “<Don’t leave.>”
Lucy was a step from freedom, a step from the cool embrace of the ocean water mere feet below her. She had more than enough strength.
But she also had the strength to look around, and yet did so slowly.
Her head was half turned as she saw him staring at her. She looked over his shoulder as his eyes stared wide open at her, staring in disbelief.
Their eyes locked, and she bore to him the true colors of her soul. She confirmed the questions he had since his ex-compatriots had first captured her.
His shoulders slumped before she turned around, and she saw what pure defeat looked like in a child who was minutes from being consumed by fire.
As the fire from the crates and the banister raged on, it grew just a bit too vibrant, and Lucy’s legs moved on instinct.
She jumped into the water.
The fire continued to consume the warehouse and all who remained in it, with no one surviving to tell how or why.
As Lucy wrapped her arm and her stump around herself in the water, she kept muttering words only the sea would understand. “Lapis protect me,” she muttered over and over again until the sun would rise.
Lucy was free again, but freedom for Lucy was much like her favorite song.
It didn’t feel as good the second time.
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