~~Daesia turns her head sharply, her eyes lighting up as though they have just been struck with a match. "What was that?" she snarls at me.
"Well, I don't know, do I?" I retort, laughing at her idiocy. Does she really think I'd make someone scream from in here. I mean, I'd probably be able to, but what reason would I have?
She narrows her eyes into slits, like small lines that hold too much depth in them to be lines. She and Carlotta exchange a suspicious glance, before Carlotta says, "She's telling the truth."
"Thank you!" I say. "I am glad you have some sense at least, Car- Ashley." Daesia glares at me, and as I scramble to my feet, I am shot down again by the fire racing through my body, like the blood I might have had were I Human.
"Don't thank me." Her voice is filled with venom, the venom of a snake hidden in the bushes, silently at first but then turning and destroying its victim. "We just need to find out what just happened.
Daesia nods, not quite meeting my eyes. "Yes," she agrees. "That scream was powerful; it must mean something has happened, and in my court violence is definitely not tolerated." A laugh escapes my lips, earning me a glare and a mouthful of smoke and fire as Daesia leaves, her gown of fire trailing behind her like burning ink.
"Be careful," Carlotta says, as she follows in her footsteps. "Or she'll have you gone before you can even begin to apologise."
I don't really know what Daesia's definition of 'gone' might be, so I follow as Carlotta motions for me to do so, and the sound of my bare feet is strange as it is harmonised with that of Carlotta's leather boots and Daesia's razor-sharp heels.
A girl kneels on the floor, he face cloaked in shadows thrown from the stones of darkness. Her eyes are dark, like ashes left to the deadened flames. She lifts her head slowly, and her lips are wide, like she is about to say something, or else scream again, with a cry like a phoenix's final flight of flames.
"Hello," I say, kneeling down beside here. "I'm Kear. This- "
"Shut up." The girl leaps to her feet, and punches me in the face with a fist like iron. Instantly, Carlotta is beside me, though Daesia hovers in the corners of the room, not really seeming to care about my safety. I can't say I'm surprised.
"You dare to attack me!" I shriek, flying at her in a rage of fury, forcing her to feel my fiery wrath. I slam into her chest, sending her flailing backwards onto the ground with a cry of fear. "You dare to try and harm me, Kear, the immortal saviour?"
"Pretty - " I don't give her a chance to continue.
As fast as I can I grab her by the neck, as she screams in pain. "Kear!" Daesia thunders, but I don't stop. Her anger spurs me on, like a fire burning in my soul, an inferno ready to devour all in its eternal flames. Lillian screams, a sound that just merges into the background to where I can barely hear it, as the world is a , a ripple, before me , like the heat rising from a fire.
She hit me, she challenged me, she cannot. I am Kear, she should fear me, I granted her this opportunity to fight HOW DARE SHE!
My fists pummel her, and the scream is gone, as Lillian crumples to the ground. "Stop! Stop this right now, Kear, or I swear I will make you wish you were mortal!"
The world cools, like it is being covered in a blanket of fog and mist, the water vapour dripping onto me with its near ice touch. My fire is extinguished, but still my anger remains, the smoke that refuses to let the flames be seen to die. It's beautiful in a way, but Carlotta doesn't appear to agree.
"You need to control your anger!" she seethes, though she is being rather hypocritical right now. I point this out to her, but she doesn't calm herself, much to my dismay. "And stop being so rude! I didn't think you would need reminding of this, Kear, but we are your elders, and you shall obey our orders!"
"And be a good little Human and eat up all my lovely green vegetables and only watch one hour of the telly a day and do all my homework the night I get it? Don't think so, Carlotta."
She flinches at the name, like it wounds her. "You need to learn some manners, Kear," she says.
"And you need to learn some rep[sect for me! Or maybe you just can't be seen as even the tiniest bit kind in front o9f your Leveller friends, because obviously you are so superior to me, the lowly Mantle!"
"SHUT UP!" Daesia is like a ball of fire, an inferno of rage. "YOU ARE A YOUNG MATNLE AND WE ARE THE ELDER LEVELLERS! WE ARE THE RULERS OF THIS WORLD, AND YOU WILL BOW DOWN TO US KEAR, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT! SO BOW!"
I meet her fiery eyes with a glare forged of steel, unwavering, indestructible. "No, thanks."
"And you wonder why we took you to the cells, why we give you the job of seeking out the dead? It's because we can't trust you to do anything else! You're too irresponsible!"
"Like you can be trusted to do anything! In case you haven't wonder, you're in the middle of a war with on of your fellow 'Levellers' and newsflash: YOU ARE EFFING LOSING!"
A sharp slap burns my cheek as Daesia swipes her hand across it. "Never. Speak to me. Like that. Again."
"Ever so sorry. From now on I shall be your most loyal servent, my dear, dear, mistress Daesia."
"Um, I hate to interrupt," Lillian interrupts, which means she clearly doesn't hate to interrupt. "But I'm pretty sure that bitch just broke my face."
"You're fine," I snarl. "Now shut up."
Daesia meets my eyes as I turn around again, and there is a shred of respect in them for a second, before it disappears, like wood crumbling to ash at a lighter's touch. "She has point, Kear. Had she not been under protection, you could have done some very serious damage to her."
"Like what? Kill her? Hate to break it to you, Daes, but she's already dead." I shrug, laughing quietly to myself as she grimaces at the nickname.
"You know what I mean, Kear, and I believe you also know that I can do far more damage to you than you could do even to a Human, so leave. Go to your cell, and when you are again released, I expect you to not be on the verge of driving us all to insanity." Her lip curls. "As for you, Lillian... I have a job for you."
Of course, I'm nowhere near responsible enough to know what it is.
As I am escorted back to my cell by a silent guard, I think of what it may be that makes Lillian so important, why she is handed a role to play while I have barely an ounce of memory devoted to me. Perhaps she is just better than me, perhaps she is stronger, wiser, more powerful than me. It wouldn't be much of a surprise, if I am to be fully honest.
The guard comes to a stop at a small cell, where a group of koroi flit from wall to wall, like they are trying to escape. "Wait, this isn't my actual cell, isn't it?" I groan, as I eye the circular red creatures, my eyes hurting as I try to focus on their fiery red wings, tips coated in poison.
"It is," he says tightly, sounding mildly annoyed with me.
A hand is at my back, pushing me forwards the way the current pushes the waves onto a beach, though usually a beach would be far nicer than this.
The darkness begins to close on me, the only light coming from the koroi wings as my guards retreats down the corridor, the flames of his torch beginning to die away like life towards a death. My breath catches in my throat as the wall is illuminated by the fire, dancing up the walls. There is a pattern carved into it, glowing a soft amber. it is gone in a second, but the image is burned into my mind now, and I know it won't leave me.
The inferno, the symbol of the Birlans. The symbol of my people.