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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7. Pain

 

    Kylora woke in a dimly lit room. Immediately, she slammed her eyes shut, squeezing them closed as tightly as she could.

    No, I’m dead! I was supposed to die! I can’t be alive! If I’m alive, then I have to suffer again!

    She squeezed her eyes closed more tightly, trying to force herself back into the darkness by sheer force of will. But it was hopeless. She was conscious, and there was no way that she could sink back into darkness. She gave up, and relaxed, head down. She opened her eyes slightly, and studied her surroundings. She was in a small stone room. A single door was in front of her, and faint light shined through the barred window. She could feel cold chains around her wrists. To her left were various brands and knives- most likely torture implements, to be used when she woke up. There was a fire pit too, so that the brands could be kept hot. She took all of this in with a distracted gaze, trying to keep her mind from going blank with terror. She twitched, pulling at her chains, but they held firm. Of course they did. She had nearly broken her bones trying to escape from chains like these before.

    She had no idea where she was. All she knew was that she was about to suffer extreme pain- pain that would have no end, except for her own death.

    She began to shake. Memories flashed through her head of the first time she’d been captured. The pain that the humans had caused her had been unbearable, but she had been too young, too proud to back down. They had beaten her until she was mostly dead. They had taken her and throw her into the snow to die. Ironically, that act probably saved her life. The cold slowed her blood flow, and gave her enough time to be found by a passing angel- an angel who had taken her in and saved her life.

    Kylora hadn’t told anyone that Miel had saved her life. If the word got out to the other angels, then Miel would have nowhere to hide. She would be driven out by her own kind. And humans hated angels almost as much as they hated guardians. Miel would become an outcast. But if she was captured, they wouldn’t let her live. At least Kylora had the chance to escape.

    There were footsteps, and the door opened. A human was standing there, studying her with gleaming eyes.

    “This one’s awake.”

    Kylora closed her eyes, whimpering softly. The human came closer, and she could feel his eyes on her.

    “You have scars, guardian,” he remarked.

    Kylora didn’t speak. Why bother?

    “How did you come by them, I wonder?” He kept talking.

    Kylora almost preferred the humans when they were beating her. At least then she knew what to expect. Why did this one insist on talking to her before she was tortured? Why did it matter? It wasn’t like she was going to respond.

    “Will you make us add to them, guardian?” he continued calmly. “Or will you surrender? You’ve lost. Your little daydream of a rebellion is gone. The others are dead or imprisoned. There’s no future in fighting.”

    “There’s no future in surrendering either!” Kylora hissed.

    The human hit her. Her head snapped to the side, and she let out a soft groan.

    “Then die if you wish, guardian,” he spat.

    A light began to glow next to her. He was stoking the fire, and preparing to hurt her. She closed her eyes. She let her fear stoke its way into anger. She hated this human. She hated the chains. She hated all of the humans, for what they did to her. She tried to hold that anger inside of her like a small flame, but already it was dying. She had been defiant before, hadn’t she? She’d been brave. She had spat in their faces when they’d asked her if she surrendered. But now that defiance was a small island of bravery in a sea of terror. She wanted to submit. She wanted to take her words back- to promise she would be good, she’d do anything to keep the pain away. But she couldn’t. She would not let them beat her!

    The human came to stand before her. He knelt, and roughly grabbed her chin, forcing her head up so that they were eye to eye.

    “I had friends who died at your claws, guardian,” he hissed. “I’ll make sure you suffer for the others that you killed.”

    Kylora wanted to reply that she was already suffering. Her entire life was one long nightmare with no end. Even when she had been free, her scars would occasionally flare with pain, reminding her of her past tortures. At night, nightmares ravaged her mind and left her weak and gasping in the mornings. She fought, she struggled, she led the other guardians, and yet it had all failed. She had been defeated and now she was here again, about to be tortured. She wished there was something she could do- anything she could do- to prepare herself for the pain that was coming, but she couldn’t. She would be tortured mercilessly until she surrendered. And she would not surrender. She couldn’t bring herself that low. She had to keep fighting.

    She closed her eyes, and heard the human rise. The time for words was over. The human had said what he wanted to say, and now he would delight in hurting her. She just had to be strong, and keep fighting. It was that or the unthinkable. Even if it meant her death.

    She closed her eyes, and tried to brace herself for the pain. But no amount of readiness could prepare her. The brand was laid against her back, and she screamed as it seared into her flesh. Her vision went red with pain, and she thrashed, trying to get away from the horrible, burning pain. But the brand kept pressing mercilessly against her, no matter how much she struggled. All she could think was pain. All she could feel was pain. That pain became her world, and it blanked out everything else. Thoughts of Hylla, of Miel, of the guardians she had abandoned- all of it vanished in a moment. She was a child again, screaming as she was beaten, alone and frightened, separated from a sister who didn’t even know her. She had watched them take Hylla away. She was too young to be broken, so they had imprisoned her until she got old enough. Something had gone wrong, and Hylla had broken out before they could torture her. She escaped into the wilderness, alone, without her sister. It took several years for Kylora to find her.  Kylora wished her sister could live the rest of her life with that same innocence, but that wasn’t possible with the life of a guardian.

    It felt like forever before the brand was taken away from her back. She slumped against her chains, exhausted. But her respite only lasted a second. The brand was pressed against her again, and the cycle of pain began anew.

    She had no idea how long the torture lasted. It became a blur of pain and screams. Finally, the human stopped. She let out a pathetic whimper. Her entire body was shaking. She desperately wanted to escape, but where could she escape to? There was nowhere for her to run to. She was a guardian. This was her life.

    “There’s more pain in store for you, guardian,” the human said. There was pleasure in his voice, like torturing her was a happy pastime for him. That made her stomach churn miserably. How could humans love hurting her so much? Couldn’t they see that she felt the same things they did? All the pain, all the suffering, how could hers be any different from a human’s? She knew why, of course. She was a guardian. But why did that matter so much? Why did humans hate her? Everything she had done was to protect herself! She didn’t deserve this.

    The door slammed as the human left her alone. She slumped weakly, her arms held painfully behind her back. After the brands, the dull ache in her muscles was nothing but a minor irritation. A cool line traced its way down her cheek, and she realized she was crying. She began to shake, and closed her eyes. Almost against her will, she began to slip into a daze. But that brought her no relief, only pain.

    “Please!” Kylora screamed, straining against the chains. “Don’t take her!”

    The human roughly shoved Hylla into the grip of another human. “This one is too young to serve. Lock her up, until she gets older.”

    “No!” Kylora strained against the chains, but she couldn’t escape. The humans took her sister away- before Hylla could even lay eyes on Kylora. She was now alone, surrounded by hostile faces that looked down at her with disdain.

    “Don’t… don’t hurt her.” Kylora was choking back sobs. She was alone, and frightened. She wanted someone to comfort her, but there was no one.

    “This one is just old enough.” The human ignored her pleas. It was like she was nothing to him. He didn’t care that she was a child. All he cared about was that she was a guardian. “Make her surrender.” He looked at her, meeting her eyes for the first time. When he spoke, his voice was cold with disdain. He didn’t care if she lived or died. “You will obey, guardian, or you’ll die. Understand?”

    “You took my sister!” Kylora screamed. She tried to sound brave, but her voice shook. “I’ll kill you! I’ll never do what you say!”

    “We’ll see about that,” the human replied.

    They dragged her away, still screaming, into a world of darkness and fire and pain, so much pain

    Her next memory was of snow. She had suffered and suffered and suffered, but she was no longer a child. Each scar made her older, and harder. But this time they had beaten her too many times, and she was too weak to move, to cry out. She slumped in a daze, walking the finest line between life and death. She didn’t feel the human checking her pulse. She didn’t feel them take the chains from her arms, and drag her through the halls. She did feel it when they threw her out into the snow.

    The cold shocked her to the bone, but she lay still, too weak to get up. The humans left her, and she lay there, sure she would die.

    She barely felt the angel’s gentle hands as she was lifted up into the air with a tender grip. It wasn’t until several weeks later that she finally opened her eyes and saw her rescuer.

    She was lying in a hut, on a small cot. It wasn’t much, but after her torture it felt like paradise. She found herself looking at a beautiful angel, like a golden statue. The angel stood over her, with a worried expression.

    “Please…” she tried to whimper. “Don’t hurt me.”

    “Shh,” the angel whispered. “Easy, little guardian. I’m not going to. How are you feeling?”

    The words were foreign to Kylora. How could anyone not hurt her? Her life was one long string of pain. There was caring in this angel’s voice. Caring that reminded her of a time before she had suffered. A time when she was free.

    “I’m… dying,” she replied.

    The angel laughed. “Not anymore you’re not. You’ll heal. I promise, they’ll never be able to hurt you again.” There was determination in her voice when she spoke, and Kylora felt strangely reassured. “What’s your name?”

    “K-Kylora,” she whispered.

    “I’m Miel. Now sleep. You’re safe here.”

    Kylora closed her eyes, and darkness took her.

    Kylora’s eyes snapped open, and the tears came harder and faster. Miel had promised. She had said no human would be able to hurt her again, but here she was. And it was her own fault. I’m sorry, she thought. I’m so so so sorry. But it’s too late. I am here, and I will die here.

    Please, Miel, Hylla… forgive me.

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