Art of Power

Râegan is supposed to be the 'perfect' Sivva. She obeys rules, and serves the council well. But soon, she is drawn into a conflict between the council and an old and feared name- Karnax, the dark Sivva. When he captures her, she becomes drawn into a power struggle that could determine the fate of her realm itself.


21. Chapter 21

My mind was locked in a swirl of visions. They danced playfully before my eyes, winding and twisting, yet vanishing as soon as I tried to get a good look at them. I wanted to reach out and catch one for closer examination, but they simply swirled out of reach before returning to their normal patterns.

I felt something pushing back against my arms. I didn’t know what was going on, but my body did, and my muscles responded, pushing against whatever it was. It pushed back, harder. We fought back and forth for a minute before I decided it simply wasn’t worth it. I felt my arms being bound to something- though I didn’t know what. The little lights swirled together, forming a figure before me. It was vague and indistinct, but it was human shaped. It spoke, but its voice only sounded like humming. The humming changed in pitch and intensity, suggesting a human’s voice, but I couldn’t make out any words- if there were any at all. Maybe it was just a hallucination.

Somnia was an interesting form of a sedative drug. In small amounts, it had no side effects. However, in large doses, like this case, it could be risky. It caused things of the mind and the world around the person to meld together. It induced hallucinations- though of a less menacing sort than others. Things in the real world appeared strange and all senses changed in confusing ways. That would be the explanation for the human form made of lights that stood before me. But the question was, was it real, or simply a fabrication of my mind?

The humming continued, as if the lights were attempting to speak to me. They seemed angry, but I only was guessing this, judging by the intensity with which they hummed. The pitch rose until it broke with a huge explosion of sound. I tried to pull away but couldn’t move. The sounds bounced oddly, as if I were in a large, echoing room. Suddenly , the human broke apart and lights shot forwards, engulfing me.

For a  moment I was blinded, surrounded by whiteness. There was a cold sensation, like having a bucket of ice water poured over my head, then it was gone as fast as it had come, and everything was dark again.

I attempted to move, but remained unable to. My mind tried to piece together what was going on, but each time I tried to think, images and words began to float in front of my eyes. I tried closing them, but nothing changed. So I let myself shut down entirely, and wait in the drug-induced suspension, hoping that perhaps it would be over soon, and that I t would return to normal.

Another dangerous effect of Somnia- too much of it and this effect would be permanent. The real and nonreal would become one. I had heard stories of men and women going insane due to overdoses of this drug, or dying in limbo. I hoped that Karnax would not have overdosed me- unless he intended for me to die, which I doubted.

I was alone for a long time in the darkness. At some point, the darkness began to bother me, and, just to experiment, I thought of light. A steady glow appeared, humming and shimmering. I managed to hold it together, but only for about five seconds before it dissipated. I sighed, disappointed, though I hadn’t expected it to last long. Making anything appear in this state would take full concentration, something that was not easy to accomplish in my current state. I considered experimenting more, but then decided against it. Better to save my mental power for other things. I got the feeling I would need it soon.  

Minutes passed, then hours. Nothing changed. The gleaming lights I had seen before did not return.

I was unsure how long I was in this state before something shifted in the darkness around me. It could have been anywhere from ten minutes to three hours to a few days. Another difficult thing about being in a suspended state- time did not pass clearly and  things were strange with  no clearly defined rules or laws. That in itself was incredibly frustrating. Several times I attempted to move, more to relieve some of the tedium than anything else, but for some reason I remained constrained, and could not.

This was one of the places where the real world intruded in; I was most likely truly restrained in one form or another. Karnax was most likely waiting for me to fully regain consciousness in order to question me.. Perhaps, for the moment, it was better that I was in this state, but I did not plan on remaining in it forever. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to wait until the drug wore itself off. At some point, the humming lights returned. For the most part I ignored them. They were meaningless to me, hardly more than a flickering distraction. However, they also seemed to represent part of the real world, so eventually I studied them, attempting to discern whether or not there was a pattern to their motions that would suggest another being close by. So far there was nothing distinct, but that didn’t mean anything. For all I knew, I could be surrounded by people and not know a thing.

The lights began to solidify, again taking on a vaguely human shape. It was a little more clearly defined this time which led me to hope that the drug would wear off soon. However, where the face would be there was just an indistinct pattern of light, not enough to clearly show features.

It spoke again, and I was dismayed to hear that the voice remained an indistinct hum. In that respect, nothing had changed. The hum quieted for a moment as if expecting an answer. But for some reason, I couldn’t form words in this state. I simply could not make a sound.

All of a sudden, a bright light flared. I ducked my head, looking away, until it faded. When I looked back, Karnax was standing before me. Somehow he had found his way into this darkness. How, I had no idea.

“Greetings, Sivva,” he said. “Unless you’re a skilled Tzavix- which you aren’t- then you most likely won’t be able to respond. Therefore, leave the talking to me.”

Me, a Tzavix? Tzavixes weren’t a breed- they were the word used to represent someone with strong mind training, someone who would find it easy to shape things in a dream state. I had already proven my incompetence. But his statement made me angry. He underestimated me; perhaps I wasn’t totally helpless.

I forced myself to form the words, the way I had formed the light. It took focusing, but I managed to speak.

“I may not be a Tzavix, but I can still shape my mind, Karnax! Scholars must be well trained in the focusing of their minds in order to be successful.”

He raised his eyebrows. “So you can speak. Well done. I congratulate you in your skill. However, it is a waste of your energy. As I said, remain silent, and allow me to do the talking.”

I waited, anticipating his words.

“Now, as you understand, you are under the effects of Somnia currently. It was a strong dose, but will wear off soon, seeing as you have been unconscious for several hours.”

Only hours? It felt like days, at times…

“When you wake, you will be given one more chance to agree to my terms- or die painfully and slowly as you watch me destroy your world. It is your choice. Think carefully about what you say, because it could change many things. I will see you when you regain consciousness. Enjoy.”

Then he was gone. The lights that had composed him broke apart, shimmering and falling away like shards of broken glass. They sparkled once, then were gone entirely. Dimly, I wondered if any of the conversation had been real at all, or if it had just been fabricated in my mind, like most of the other things in this strange dream state in which I remained trapped. I supposed I would find out when I woke.

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