Before the Fall

Fanfiction of When the World Falls to Darkness by DragonSoulJess.

The fall has begun. alliances are being formed, and guardians are being rounded up. In a small outpost called Ryoko, a small number of guardians still fight for their freedom.

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22. Betrayal

 

    The guards threw her to her knees at the end of the hall. The human looked down at her with an amused smile on his face. Ash, who sat at his side, kept his eyes down. She couldn’t read his expression, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to see it. The guards backed away, but that didn’t matter. The room was too well guarded, and if she tried to run she’d die.

    “Well well well. What happened here?” The human asked.

    “Your son claims this guardian has been corrupted by that one.” The guard flicked a finger at Ash, who flinched as if he’d been hit. “She has been acting aggressive and defiant.”

    “Leave us,” the human ordered.

    “Sir, that may not be safe-”

    Leave us!” the human barked.

    This time the guards saluted, and left the room. Kylora heard the door slam behind her, but she didn’t take her eyes off the human. A part of her was afraid, but the rest burned with anger. Just more pain. I can handle more pain.

    “Well, Ash, since this is your mistake…” the human uncurled something wrapped around his wrist- a long, braided whip. “It only seems fitting that you fix it.” He held out the whip, and Ash paled visibly. “Teach this guardian a lesson. Now.”

    Ash’s eyes locked on the whip. He reached a trembling hand towards it, and then stopped. He looked away. “No,” he whispered.

    The human’s eyes narrowed. “What did you say?”

    “I will not harm her.”

    Kylora stared at him in shock. Her mind was a jumble of panicked white. Ash was defying his master. For her. He had only defied his master once before, and that was for the angel girl… a girl who he’d loved.

    No. No no no no, this can’t be right!

    The human threw back his head and began to laugh. “Oh, I see! Searching for another girl to replace that angel!” His humor was gone in an instant as he leaned towards Ash, who cowered away. “You lost one eye the last time you defied me, Ash. This time it will be much more painful. This guardian’s loyalty is worth nothing to you! Now do what I ordered!”

    “I will not.” He turned to look at Kylora, and she saw helplessness in his eyes. He was trapped again between loyalty and fear.

    Kylora stepped forwards, and Ash went to meet her.

    “I can’t hurt you,” he whispered.

    “You should have,” Kylora hissed. Then she hit him as hard as she could.

    She underestimated the power of her own fists. Ash was thrown to the ground, where he stared up at her in disbelief. Not giving him time to process, she pulled him back up and hit him again.

    “Fight me, Ash,” she snarled quietly, locking eyes with him, trying to make him see that she would hurt him, and she would hurt him again until he fought back. “Fight me.  He’ll kill you otherwise.”

    “But I-”

    “I am nothing to you!” Kylora snarled. She slapped him sharply. A bruise was already forming on his face, and she tried to pretend she didn’t care- tried to pretend she didn’t feel his pain as if it were her own. “I am not River! Now fight me!”

    She shoved him away and then came after him, hands hooked into claws. She struck at him, and he dodged, retreating backwards. Out of the corner of her eye, Kylora saw the human smirking at them. His amusement almost made her begin to sob. She was doing exactly what he wanted. But she wouldn’t see Ash harmed. Not when she could do something about it.

    He’ll never trust me again.

    Maybe it’s better that way.

    “Fight me!” she repeated.

    A soft sob tore its way out of Ash’s throat. The sob ripped at Kylora’s heart like a knife, but she kept her face impassive. She had to convince him that she didn’t care. Only then would he fight back. Only then would he be safe.

    “No,” he whispered.

    “You’re an idiot!” she snarled at him. “You think you’re so high and mighty standing for others. Learn your lesson, Ash! Fight me now, before it’s too late for both of us!”

    Ash backed up and hit one of the great hall’s columns. Kylora was on him in a flash, one hand locked around his throat, holding him to the column with strength she didn’t know she possessed. Ash did nothing to resist her- still. She clenched her hand, and began to choke him. He tried to look away, but with her other hand she gripped his hair, pulling his head back, forcing him to look her in the eyes.

    Fight me, Ash,” she hissed again.

    “I can’t… can’t do this to you,” he choked out, the words coming between gasping breaths.

    “It’s too late,” Kylora snarled. “Fight, Ash, or I’ll hurt you more than he ever could.”

    “No,” he whispered. His breaths were growing shallower as her grip tightened almost of its own will. “Let me suffer, Kylora. I won’t hurt you. I won’t take what life you have left.”

    “Why don’t you understand?” she growled. “Our kind are alone for a reason. We stand for ourselves, and for no one else! What makes you think you can change?!”

    “Doesn’t have… to be… that way…” Ash choked. “Tried… to… care…” He looked her in the eyes, and she knew he could see right through her- see to the part of her that was screaming in horror at her own actions. He lifted a shaking hand, and gently brushed the side of her face. A small smile crossed his face. Then he let out a soft groan, and slumped in her arms, unconscious. In horror, she dropped him to the ground. He hit with a loud thud, and she let out a soft cry, kneeling next to him. She felt frantically for a pulse, and nearly sobbed with relief when she found one.

    “I’m so sorry, Ash,” she whispered. “I’m so, so sorry…”
    She was so distracted by Ash's limp body that she didn’t notice the human standing behind her. She didn’t hear him pull out a short, wooden rod. She felt nothing but a sudden burst of pain as he hit her in the back of the head. Her world went black, and she collapsed next to Ash’s unconscious form.

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