I lifted my head, surprised at the voice, and found a short, dark-haired girl standing in front of me and Kios. Her small stature and petite frame made her appear completely harmless, but the obscenely large sword strapped to her back screamed that she was, after all, a force to be reckoned with. Kios stood up quickly, and I followed suit.
“Thank you,” Kios said, sounding hesitant as she spoke the words.
The girl in front of us smiled and gestured in the direction of Quell.
“Eiimis,” she said.
My eyes flicked towards Kios, and I leaned closer.
“What’s she saying?” I asked.
“She wants us to go with her.”
I looked back to the girl, who continued smiling, her arms still extended towards the Aura-Quell boundary.
Kios walked towards the girl, and I followed in her wake, nervous. I didn’t, for a second, feel comfortable around this girl, and the fact that I couldn’t even understand her language just made things a hundred times worse. And, of course, she was from Quell, and while Quell had persistently remained neutral during the war, the stories I’d heard about what the Quell people did to Auran soldiers and civilians was enough to make me sick.
And yet I followed after the girl, anyway. Her hair, tied into two braids, bounced against her back as she walked, and for some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes away. Maybe it was the contrast between the soft, delicate braids and the terrible harshness of that monster sword.
The girl was having a conversation with Kios, but they were both speaking in Quell, so I couldn’t even begin to fathom what they were talking about, but Kios’s nervousness seemed to have disappeared. She appeared almost lively, her lips almost producing a smile.
I felt like an outcast, but if Kios was enjoying herself, I felt that I owed it to her. After all, I had been the one to crush her hope that the war had a possibility of ending. So, instead of trying to engage myself in their conversation in some sort of way, I opted to remain silent and just listen to the strange words come from their mouths. I imagined what they might be saying. What sort of common ground would a Quell and a demon have? Bloodthirstiness? That wasn’t a pleasant thought, but as soon as it crossed my mind, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that maybe they were talking about how many different people they had killed and in what horribly disgusting ways.
The girl was looking at me as she walked backwards, and as far as I could tell, she still had the exact same smile on her face from before.
“Name?” she said.
It took me a moment to realize that she hadn’t spoken in Quell, and then my face flushed red at how long it was taking me to answer such a simple question.
“Seth,” I was finally able to manage.
She pointed a finger at her own chest. “Isaari.”
“Ah…nice to meet you.”
“Iiishi, oralt,” she said before tipping her head to the side slightly. “You, too, D’aniaradeis.”
D-what? I glanced towards Kios in hopes that she would translate it for me, since Isaari didn’t seem inclined to do so, but the look on her face quickly dashed the thought from my mind. The almost-happy expression she’d had earlier had become consumed by one of so much fury that a chill passed through my body.
“Kios…” I said, hoping that I could placate her before she did something she would regret later. “Calm down.”
She didn’t even bother looking at me, just continued to glare at Isaari, like the girl was the source of all evil in the world. Isaari, on the other hand, seemed completely unperturbed by the tension in the air. She continued smiling like nothing was going on, like there wasn’t a demon settling her with a death glare
Isaari held her hands out to the side, palms up. She said something to Kios, and after a moment, the demon relaxed. She turned away, folding her arms over her chest, and the three of us continued walking. The Quell girl was still acting as if nothing at all had happened, which was worrisome. How powerful was she? If a demon on the verge of rage didn’t even knock the smile from her mouth…I hoped that I never had to find out the answer because I definitely did not want to be on the wrong end of her sword.
After a while of walking—a time that seemed impossibly long to me; I felt that I had been walking way too much lately—we entered a large clearing that was filled with neat, colorful little buildings. The buildings seemed to have been placed completely randomly, unlike the symmetrical rows of houses in Polis. As we moved towards the center—or what I assumed was meant to be the center, though there really was no actual center—I studied the buildings a little more. The walls were covered in fabric, which seemed to be just as random as the placement of the buildings. There was no order to anything. Finally, we stopped before a small group of men and women who sat around a fire pit. Isaari stepped forward and placed a fist over her heart.
“Nraarm,” she said.
One of the men looked up at her and smiled. He said something to her, and then she left. The man stood up, made a shooing motion at the others, who all quickly scattered without even as much as a single complaint.
He spent a long moment just looking at me and Kios as if gauging how dangerous we might be, though he didn’t appear to be overly concerned.
“Welcome to Quell,” he said, and I nearly sighed with relief that he could speak more than the Quell language.
“Thank you,” Kios said. The nervousness in her voice had reappeared.
“I am Nraarm,” the man said. “In the Phoenix language it is roughly translated as Liam, so you may call me that if you wish.”
Kios shifted her weight. “My name is—.”
“Kios,” Liam said. “And this…” He gestured towards me. “…is Seth.”
I glanced towards Kios. Her face was flushed red, and she looked pretty ticked off. I turned my attention back to Liam, and I wondered how he had known our names.
“Come,” Liam said, and when he started walking, Kios and I were quick to follow behind him.
I could only assume that this man was the leader of the Quell—the leader that had chosen to keep the ancient language of his people rather than adopt the common language of the goddess; the leader that had brutally slaughtered many of my people.
I looked down at the ground, fear prickling my skin, and I had to resist the urge to ask Kios if coming here had actually been a good idea.
Kios, possibly having sensed my unease, glanced in my direction. She grabbed my arm, and I looked at her. She didn’t need to say anything for me to know that she was telling me not to be afraid, to trust her.
I gave a small nod, and we both faced forward again. We came to a stop in front of one of the small, colorful buildings, and Liam opened the door. He gestured towards the opening, and Kios and I stepped inside—or ducked inside, as the doorway was too small for us to stand up straight. Luckily, the building opened up more.
“Sit,” Liam said, and we obeyed without question.
Liam took a seat of his own on a dark leather chair behind an equally dark table, and from there, he looked at us with calculating eyes. His gaze lingered on me longer than I liked, but of course, I wasn’t going to complain.
“You’ve come here for Ershinai, yes?” he asked.
I stared at him blankly, but Kios answered in the affirmative.
“If I grant it to you,” Liam continued, “I’ll be putting myself in a perilous situation. Quell has remained out of this war, and I wish it to stay that way. However, if I allow you to stay here under my protection, I will be unable to keep the war from invading my home.”
“I understand your frustration.” Kios’s voice was tight with barely suppressed agitation. “But you must realize the damage that is caused by demons, so you can’t remain out of the war forever.”
Liam’s eyes narrowed. “I can protect Quell from the demons. Do not assume that you understand what I can or cannot do.”
“Isdifo!” Liam slammed a hand down on the table, and I nearly jumped out of my seat in fright.
Kios looked away.
The Quell’s attention fell on me, and I stiffened. His eyes were narrowed into dangerous slits.
“Perhaps you can convince me, Auran,” he said.
My mouth felt impossibly dry. “I…what am I trying to convince you of?”
He was silent for a moment, his expression unchanging, and I couldn’t help but fidget in my seat.
“Convince me to grant you asylum,” he finally said.
I shot a frantic look in Kios’s direction, but she ignored me. She had told me earlier that she would take care of everything, so how had things turned out this way? Why was this man looking at me, waiting for me to do something that I didn’t even know for sure was possible? If Kios hadn’t convinced him to let us stay, if he had shut her down within the first couple minutes of conversation, what could I possibly do?
I turned back to him. “Um…I…”
“Come now,” Liam said. “Surely you have some reason that I will accept.”
When I still didn’t answer, he seemed to grow more amused than ever, and after a terribly long moment of silence, he leaned forward, hands planted firmly on the table.
“Or perhaps you can give me something in return,” he said.
I resisted the urge to shrink away from him and said, “I’m sure I don’t have anything you would want.”
“I want your loyalty.”
Kios stood up from her seat, and when I looked at her, her eyes were flashing with deadly intent as she glared at Liam.
“That’s not going to happen,” she said.
Liam gave her a patient smile. “That’s up to Seth.” He turned back to me. “What do you say?”
“Don’t do it,” Kios said, grabbing my arm and pulling me to my feet. “You don’t want to give your fealty to this man. It’s a bad idea.”
I stared at her in bafflement, unable to comprehend why it was such a bad idea. It might not be ideal and may even be a little insulting, but what did it hurt? If Quell had every intention to stay out of the war, giving my loyalty to them wasn’t even really betraying Kratos. Was it?
“No,” she said, pulling me towards the door. “We’re leaving.”
I stumbled after her, off balance from the way she was holding onto me. I looked back at Liam, to see that he still had a patient smile on his face, as if he didn’t think we would actually leave.
Kios stopped suddenly, and I faced forward. Standing in the doorway was Isaari with her sword drawn and looking impossible in her hands.
“I have no desire to hurt you,” Liam said from behind us, “but we’re not finished. Please, return to your seats.”
Kios was trembling, and I wondered if it was from fear or fury. When she turned around to look at me, my question was answered. She was positively furious.
“Seth,” she said, “do not swear your loyalty to him.”
I felt like I was missing something really important in this conversation. Both Kios and Liam seemed to understand her anger, but I couldn’t even begin to fathom it.
Isaari came up behind us. She gestured towards the chairs with her sword, and we took our seats once more, though Kios didn’t seem able to sit still; she kept shifting around.
“Now, what do you say, Seth?” Liam asked once again.
I turned my head towards him and studied his expression. He still seemed extremely patient, as if he had all day to sit there and wait for me to answer. But…I wasn’t ready to give an answer one way or the other if I couldn’t see the whole picture.
I looked down at my hands. “I don’t know much about Quell,” I finally said, “so swearing my loyalty to you doesn’t seem wise if I don’t know…how you operate.”
I hunched my shoulders, expecting an angry reaction, and was surprised to hear Liam laughing. I glanced up at him with wide eyes, which only seemed to make him laugh harder.
“Well,” he said, “the boy has a mind after all.” He laughed again. “Well, Isaari, what do you say?”
I glanced over my shoulder.
“I’ya,” Isaari said, her smile just about as wide as Liam’s.
“Then it’s settled,” Liam continued, and I tore my attention away from Isaari and back towards the man behind the table.
“What’s settled?” I asked, casting a brief glance at Kios, though she seemed just as confused as me.
“Why, I’m granting you asylum, of course.”
Kios made a strangled noise, and when I looked at her again, she seemed to be having trouble staying in her chair. She stumbled off the seat, knocking it over in the process, and glared at Liam.
“What?” she said, the anger in her voice almost tangible.
Liam leaned backwards, still smiling. “Isn’t that what you wanted, lismiid?”
She flushed red, but that didn’t diminish the fury on her face even a little bit.
“No,” she said. “I mean, yes, but what happened to the whole Seth swearing loyalty to you thing? Was that just a joke?”
“A test? What the hell are you trying to test for?”
Liam sighed. “Do you really wish to talk about that here?” He pointed a finger towards me. “In front of him?”
My mouth parted slightly in shock at his words. What did that mean?
I turned towards Kios, expecting her to tell Liam that he could say whatever he wanted in front of me, but the look on her face made my heart skip a beat. She looked afraid and guilty and angry all at once.
She turned her head towards me and the wash of emotions only seemed to intensify.
I had always thought that Kios and I had one of those relationships where we told each other everything. There had been that moment when I wasn’t willingly to explain what had happened with Jinx and the others, but surely that had been understandable, and I told her in the end.
The fact that Kios was keeping something from me—something that the leader of Quell seemed to know—was unfathomable.
Kios turned back towards Liam.
“Fine,” she said. “We’ll discuss this later.”
Liam’s smile didn’t change at all, but somehow the room felt colder and there was ice in his eyes. He stood up, his hands flat on the table.
“Don’t presume to order me around, lismiid,” he said, his voice matching the icy flare of his eyes.
I shivered, but Kios didn’t seem fazed, just angry.
“My bad,” she said, contempt coating her voice.
Liam gestured towards me. “Maybe you should take a lesson from Seth. He knows who he should fear.” He glanced at me. “Isn’t that right?”
I stared open-mouthed, which was apparently answer enough for him because he laughed again before facing Kios.
“You see?” he said.
“I see that you’re a bully who manipulates with fear.”
I couldn’t disagree with her. At least half of the terror I felt around this man was due to the things he’d done to Aurans in the past. Really, it was a wonder he’d managed to stay out of the war with some of the carnage he’d caused. And surely he knew what his past actions would do to an Auran, even one who was trying to stay out of the war, same as him.
But I didn’t want things escalating. I knew very well that Kios had a bad temper; it was very possible that she might attack Liam if things didn’t settle down soon.
I shakily got to me feet, drawing the attention of both Kios and Liam.
I had been planning on making some sort of speech about how we just needed to get along and that we all really had the same goal in mind so why were we fighting, but now that they were both looking at me, my mouth felt dry and I couldn’t get even a single word out.
I could feel my face heating up the longer I stood there, my mouth opening and closing as I sought to form words.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when Isaari threw an arm around my neck. Her short stature forced me to bend sideways and I nearly lost my balance. Thankfully she was no longer holding her monster sword because I was not looking to be accidentally impaled on that thing.
“Follow,” she said. “I show you…camp.”
She released me and I stumbled, grabbing at the chair to catch my balance. I straightened up and looked at Isaari before casting a glance at Kios.
“Go,” she said. “It’ll be fine.”
I nodded, though I wasn’t really convinced that she was right. Everything about Quell seemed entirely unpredictable, so I didn’t know how she could say that things would be fine. There was no way she could know that, but I didn’t really want to be in the same room with Liam any longer.
I followed Isaari outside.
Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:23 pm
Day # 94 Theme: journey
This was the sorriest excuse for a devil I had ever had the misfortune of meeting. Not only was he an annoying, flippant a**, but he was also apparently incredibly lazy. He had claimed that his dealings took him all over the world and he had all but promised to bring me on an amazing journey, and here he was, asleep like a cat in the sun. Again.
I stood over him, huffing in annoyance and debating whether or not I should kick him awake. One the one hand, he deserved to be kicked awake, but on the other hand, there was still some trepidation (albeit, not very much) in me because this was the devil and he could be a force to be reckoned with if he put his mind to it. I had experienced his power first hand when I’d made my deal with him--he had easily disarmed me before I’d ever even known he was there.
But we were supposed to be going on a journey.
Why was he sleeping?
I brought my foot back, deciding that kicking him was the better course of action after all, but before I could do more than that, he was gone--simply there one second and then gone, leaving behind nothing more than a thin whisp of smoke.
I turned around to find him standing behind me. He had his hand to his mouth while he stifled a yawn.
“When are we going?” I asked, trying not to spit the words at him.
He tipped his head to the side. “Why are you always so impatient, Marian? Why not take the time to enjoy this place first?”
I took a deep breath, trying my damnedest not to punch him. “This place? We are literally in the middle of nowhere. What am I suppose to enjoy?”
He shrugged. “That’s up to you, of course. I was personally enjoying a nap, but you can enjoy whatever pleases you.”
I ground my teeth together. “Yeah? How ‘bout I enjoy shoving my foot up your a**, huh?”
“Oh, dear,” he said, “I’m afraid I didn’t realize what strange tastes you had when I invited you to come with me.”
My mouth opened and then snapped back shut, and I could feel my face heating up in embarrassment. I really didn’t want to let him get to me, but he had an uncanny ability to get underneath my skin. From the moment I’d met him in the Broken Grove, I had found him to be the most deplorably annoying flippant person I’d ever met. And my first impression of him had yet to change.
“Well, whatever,” I said. “The point is we aren’t anywhere and you promised that you would show me different places around to the world?”
“Did I?” The side of his mouth turned upward into a slight smile and his eyes were clearly filled with laughter at my expense. “That doesn’t sound like me at all.”
I had the sudden feeling that I was somehow going to end up looking like a fool again.
“I believe,” he said, laughter in his voice now as well, “that I said I would take you everywhere. This is a part of everywhere.”
Really? That was his defence? Well, I wouldn’t be deterred by his crazy literal interpretation of his own words when that was clearly not what he had meant when we made our deal.
I folded my arms over my chest. “Well, you're forgetting something.”
For the first time during this conversation, he looked genuinely confused. “Am I? What’s that?”
He laughed. “Don’t worry, Marian, I haven’t forgotten that. That’s one of the reasons I like you so much. Had you been immortal with this personality.” He made a tsking noise. “You would have been quite the annoying one.”
Like he was one to talk.
“Yeah, but you’re forgetting what being mortal entails.”
Once again, he gave me a look of confusion. “How so?”
“Because unlike you, I actually need to eat. And I need shelter from the elements. The sun could literally kill me if I’m out in it too long.” Okay, that last bit was definitely not necessary. Hopefully, he would buy it though.
He scrutinized me and it took all my willpower not to shift underneath his intense gaze.
“Fine,” he said after a moment. “I suppose it is about time we went somewhere with more humans.”
More humans. There weren’t any humans here at all, besides me of course.
Smoke swirled around us as the devil prepared to transport us wherever he deemed a good place to go--hopefully, it would actually be more interesting than the endless expanse of nothing around us right now.
“So where are we going?” I asked.
He gave me a sly grin. “Oh, somewhere with lots and lots of sunlight.”
As the smoke consumed us, my face grew hot with embarrassment again. Apparently, he had known that was a lie. Goddamn him.
Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:42 pm
Day # 95 Theme: genie
Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:43 pm
Day # 96 Theme: rainbow
Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:30 pm
Day 97 spirit pass
Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:26 pm
Day 98 spirit pass
Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:27 pm
Day 99 spirit pass
Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:30 pm
Day # 100 Theme: draw anything
Comments: Good thing I had all those extra spirit passes because the last few days have just...not been good for me. At least I was able to get something for the last day even if it's not as epic as I would have liked it to be.