Our Dark Lies

Olyxe “Ash” Heregale is not to be messed with. She lives for violence, laughs in the face of danger. She’s driven by a rage so bright and fierce, it’s not wonder she does so many stupid things.

Freeing the prisoners of Isolation, a place haunted by living and dead alike, perhaps the most stupid of all.

With a handful of people like her, Cursed and misfits, she will either change Haven forever or bring the demise of all her kind.

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Author's note

I don’t really know what genre this fits in. It’s a bit sci-fi, with a good dose of dystopia and apocalyptic, and intermingled fantasy and supernatural. Also, a healthy amount of violence and strong women beating up bad people.
AA

11. Payback

Chapter X

~ Payback ~

“My feet take me where they want to go, and I let them.”

 

 

Light. Bright, blue-tinged, gently falling in through the dirty window. At some point I must have drifted off, my eyes flying open the moment the lights brightened. 

I push myself off my bed, feeling icky in my clothes from yesterday. Unceremoniously, I strip down and replace my dirty clothes with new, cleaner ones. Leather boots, lace pants, and a thick black top. Gloves go on second last, followed by a thick choker to cover my neck. Once fully clothed, I search for a new blanket to replace my door. Before I can find one, the sound of footsteps splits the silence. 

“Hey... Ash?” A gentle voice prompts. Noko steps into my line of sight, amber hair dishevelled and eyes shadowed. “I n-need your help.” 

“With what?” I snap, unnecessarily bitter. I drop the pile of clothes I’d been searching through. “What could you possibly need me for, Noko? Aren’t I worthless to you and all the rest?”

“Well, Fenly maybe.” She snarks, But her eyes are humorous. “But not the rest of us. Katpin, Jasma, Tenjey and I, and this is really important.” 

“What is it?” I prompt impatiently. Her usually soft, kindly eyes take a hardness to them I’ve only seen a few times before. Golden locks of hair fall into her face, and I can’t help but notice how innocent she looks. Her Curse is both a gift and a curse. She can heal people, but she can also drain their life away with so little as a thought. She’s never done the second option, though. I’ve seen her heal people many times, but never has she ever tried to harm anyone. 

“We need you to testify to murdering Inneo Gathrast.” She locks eyes with me. I can guess why they sent her, because she could drop me dead before I could even lay a hand on her. If only they knew like I did that her Curse isn’t actually capable of killing. The worst she can do is cause pain. She confessed to me once, that she was in a situation where the only way out would be to incapacitate her attacker. So she used her Curse, but it didn’t kill him. Only hurt him. The same would likely prove true with me, her Curse wouldn’t be strong enough for anything more than pain. “It’s us or you, Olyxe. Are you really selfish enough to send us all to Isolation to save yourself?”

“I didn’t kill him, Noko. So go tell the others I won’t be testifying to anything and that they should look for the actual killer instead.” 

Noko bristles, But fear outweighs her discontent. She leaves, but not before giving me a disgusted frown. Her disgust wounds me, and I quickly throw up walls to fend off the pain. Tenjey must have told them to turn on me. Even without being able to use her Curse on us, she remains very manipulative. Though by the expression on Noko’s face, they didn’t take much convincing. 

After she’s left, I flop down on the floor and bury my face in my hands. Everywhere I look, people I thought I could trust are turning on me. 

Bad thing after bad thing keep happening to me, ever since I was brought into this world. Each terrible event a different shade of wretched from the last. For once, I allow myself to feel pity. My eyes burn, hot beads of water dripping out and running in tiny rivulets down my cheeks. This is not who I am. I don’t cry. Up until now, my anger has wrapped me in a protective blanket from this weakness, but now that harsh outer shell has been stripped away and I’ve become weak, vulnerable to emotions such as fear and grief. 

Minutes tick by, as tears slip silently down my cheeks. I squeeze my eyes shut, as if blocking out the world could stay them from falling. No such luck. The burn of my anger has become the burning of tears in my eyes. 

I finally work up the willpower to pull myself back together. I bounce back to my feet, wiping away the salty streaks down the sides of my face. 

“Get yourself together,” I scold myself. 

Yes, get yourself together. The voice urges. Get back on your feet, put on your scowl, and keep fighting.

I take a deep, steadying breath, trying to erase the memories of Tenjey and Ridser that keep rising up, threatening to drag me back down into the abyss of grief. I feel a sharp pang through my chest, tears welling in my eyes again. This time, for a different reason. Ann emptiness claws at my heart, sharp talons hot and corrosive. I never allowed myself to cry for my mother. I kept all the pain I felt wrapped up tightly inside, certain that if I let it out, I would never be able to function. 

I miss her. Sometimes, I can almost ignore the aching of loneliness. Most of the time, I go on about my life without trouble. But I never truly am free of this sadness, it’s simply buried and forgotten, left to fester and spread like a toxic mold, sapping my strength. 

Furiously, I wipe my eyes. 

No! I shout at myself. Keep it together! Keep it together! 

I suck in another deep breath. I need to run, move, be free of this enclosed space. However, I can not go out with red-rimmed eyes and lashes wet and glistening. No one can see how weak I really am. I snap back on my mask, grabbing a bottle of water and bag full of dried mushrooms. Gulping down the water, I slow my breathing and close my eyes, letting myself relax. Then I begin to chew the mushrooms, my molars grinding against the soft, spongy flesh and slowly shredding it into smaller and smaller pieces. My brain wanders as I do this, to how I can cure my restlessness and rekindle my drowned anger. My eyes fly open as I snap out of my relaxed trance. 

Hot, searing anger scorches through my veins. I fuel it with thoughts of Ridser, or Tenjey, of every cruel aspect of this world. My fingers twitch into fists, feet carrying me out the door. 

Distantly overhead, the lights are still at full brightness. I take a rare moment to admire their beauty. They glitter like pieces of sapphire, aquamarine and amethyst. 

Unable to wait any longer, I begin to walk. I start off at a slow, easy pace, before growing faster and faster. I leave behind the sloppy, crumbling huts in brownish grey, exchanging them for more sturdy, well-kept houses. I fly pass a handful of Street Patrollers, who don’t even bother to acknowledge my presence. soon, red blurs with red before suddenly snapping to stark, ice-cold white. 

I move through the Rich Districts, returning once again to ruddy-toned surroundings and mediocre people, followed by a different neighbourhood of poor houses in mousey grey. 

“Girl, what you doin’ in a place like this?” An older man demands. He has unruly whit hair, straight and wispy, sticking up haphazardly. He smiles at me with a gap-toothed maw. “Someone small and pretty like you ought to be in a better place than this, yeah. You ought to be someplace right nice.”

“I wish,” I smirk, moving past him without a second thought. He calls after me, but I ignore him. 

Several people stop to shout at me, some making rude, gross comments while others ask if I’m lost, or if I’d any money to spare them. The poor neighbourhoods of Haven are strangely the safest, with no Street Patrollers to attack and punish without reason or rich people with their judgemental gazes. The people are bland, concerned only with getting themselves through life and not with harming—or helping—anyone else. 

“Hey there,” one man calls once I’ve almost reached the edge. “Care to come over here and give me a hand.” 

“I don’t think so,” I mutter, trying to move on. He steps out into my path, boring into me with frosty brown eyes, the colour of frozen mud. His face is squarish, giving him a rough, brutish look. 

“Now, listen here.” He describes me using a long strand of vicious curses. “You’re going to give me anything I want.” 

“Again, I don’t think so.” I’m more insistent this time, locking gazes with the man. My black eyes are usually enough to rattle most people, to get them out of my way with minimal effort. 

“No, I think so.” He raises up a hand, grabbing for my body and pulling me closer to him. I bare my teeth, a threatening rumble something being low in my throat. 

“Let me go.” I instruct. “Let me go, and I’ll let you walk away from this.”

“What could someone small as you possibly do to me?” He laughs, a crude, nasty sound. My fingers slowly curl, hands closing into fists. He runs his tongue over his crooked, dirt-stained teeth. 

“I could hurt you real, real bad.” He laughs again at this, but not for long. I bring my knee up with blinding speed and surprising strength, ramming it into his groin. He whelps in pain, stumbling backwards. I aim a sharp kick to his side, followed by a solid punch to his left cheek. He falls back farther, before I send him to the ground with a final, fierce kick to his upper thigh. 

“I like ‘em with bite,” He remarks lewdly, and something snaps. In a blur of pale skin and place lace, my hand strikes out and my knuckles connect with his nose, blood spurting and a sickening crunch echoing as bones snap. 

He passes out cold, dropping to the stone. I turn in the opposite direction, breaking into a sprint to get away. My lungs burn, my eyes burn, my gut burns with fury. 

When I leave the neighbourhood behind for another one, I slow slightly. Red clay surrounds me, as well as average people executing their average life, and Street Patrollers. Eyes follow me as I move, and I sense a mixture of fear and disgust. I pay little attention to their stares, even less to their whispers. I must have gotten blood on myself when I broke that man’s nose. 

In a split-second decision, I decide to go around the Rich Districts. It will take me forever to get back, but really I don’t want to go back home anyways. I slow to a walk. It will take me hours, but I don’t care. I admire the white houses from a distance, and when I reach the other side, I begin to wander. I move between rows of houses, watching people go about their daily lives. My feet take me where they want to go, and I let them. Some people stop what they’re doing to stare at me, while others don’t even realize I’m there. 

My legs ache, but I tune out their protests of pain. I keep walking, my feet starting to throb. The pain in my body is ignorable, so I pay it no heed. Instead, I focus in on the molten veins of anger running through my bones. 

It takes me a while to realize my surroundings have become vaguely familiar. I can’t bring myself to care, unable to place where the buildings are familiar from. 

I sigh, a strange sense of emptiness settling over me. The blazing channels of my anger is like bright streaks through an empty, dark abyss. I cuss myself for thinking I could ever stop hiding my Curse. If I hadn’t been wearing gloves, the man from earlier would be dead instead of simply unconscious. I could seriously hurt someone, I could get myself into serious trouble. I could get myself sent back to Isolation. 

Suddenly, I realize why my surroundings look familiar. From earlier, when I’d been captured by those men. Peron and Kednit. Their house is somewhere around here. 

It isn’t hard to track down which flat belongs to them. Using my groggy, anger-hazard memories as a guide, I search for familiar landmarks until I finally catch a glimpse of Peron through a window. I immediately veer toward that house, kicking down the newly installed door with one solid blow. 

“Hello boys,” I call. “I told you I’d be back!”

Peron appears, swearing colourfully. Kednit appears behind him moments later, eyes going wide in school when he sees me.

“You again.” He mutters disdainfully, to which I shake my head, pursing my lips in a frown. Kednit, however, does not appear to get the hint and has the audacity to scowl at me. “You better turn around right now, or else I’ll make you regret it.”

“No, I don’t think so. You see, I’m not the type of person to do something just because I’m told to. In fact, I enjoy doing the very opposite of what I’m told.” The fire has turn frosty, ice creeping through my veins, until the cold has infected every nerve, every cell of my body. “And I also don’t take well to people trying to hurt me, so I’ve come here to make my displeasure known.”

“We didn’t try to hurt you,” Peron scowls. “We were only protecting ourselves. Look, we’re sorry if we offended you, but we’d greatly appreciate it if we could go our merry ways and not concern ourselves with each other anymore. Forget about it. Do you think that’d be alright?”

“No, it wouldn’t. Because someone ought to teach you not to go messin’ around with the wrong people.” I take a slight step forward, the two men immediately edging back. 

“Please, we’re sorry.” Kednit pleads, fear glittering in his eyes. “We were only trying to protect ourselves, like Peron said.”

“Sorry ain’t gonna cut it,” I growl, advancing slowly on my newfound enemies as they exchange a fearful glance, a wordless communication passing between them. In the blink of the eye, they dart forward, wearing feral snarls across their faces. Peron grabs me by the shoulders, throwing me against the side of his house and pinning me there, while Kednit repeatedly lands heavy blows to my sides, driving the air out of my lungs.

I grunt from pain, struggling to weaken Peron’s grip. Kednit hovers in my peripheral vision, appearing suspiciously uninvolved. A throbbing pain takes shape in my skull, making me head resonate with a harsh ache. My vision wobbles, ears ringing, as my struggles grow weak and futile. 

Without warning, the pressure lifts, and I fling myself forward as hard as I can. Peron startles, releasing his crushing grip on my shoulders. 

I roar, a guttural, feral sound as I bring my knee up into Peron’s gut. He reels backwards, and I followup with a sharp kick the the ribs. His breath is knocked out a rattling wheeze, giving me the perfect opportunity to punch him in the stomach with all my might. Before I can finish by knocking him sprawling, Kednit is suddenly on me and the crushing pressure crashes back over my mind. Grunting, I throw him off all the while battling through whatever force he’s exerting on my mind. 

Crouching down, I gather my momentum before springing up and loosing all my momentum into a kick. My foot connects solidly with his groin, and he doubles up in pain, face ruddying. I rebuild my power, launching another kick which hits its mark, straight in the chest. 

I squat down to be level with Kednit, staring into his eyes without a hint of empathy. I smile with all the venom of a snake, pushing myself back up to a standing position and connecting my elbow with his nose as I go. He falls back, blood exploding out of a likely broken nose. Peron scrambles to help his friend, cut, bruised and bloodied himself. He turns to look at me, with such hatred I freeze for a moment. 

A moment is all it takes. He frees a knife, blunt and crude, likely part of his Patroller outfit, and presses it to my throat. Even though the blade is blunt, it tears at the thin fabric covering my lower neck and chest. 

The fabric splits, the knife turning to ash. Peron leaps away as if burned, suddenly wide-eyes with disgust, uncertainty and blind terror. I prepare myself for a spluttery, angered spiel about how I’m an abomination, a freak, but when his lips move he produces no sound. 

Not wanting to give him the chance to recuperate, I punch him in the jaw with the speed of a falling star. He gracelessly collapses, eyes rolling back. For good measure, I kick him again in the ribs, in the shoulder. 

The commotion has likely drawn spectators. I need to get away as soon as I can, before someone reports me and the Isolation Law is brought down. It’s only a matter of time before someone wither finds these two men, collapsed and beaten, or they wake up and report to their superiors that they were beaten up by a young Cursed woman with black eyes and hair the colour of metallic ash. 

Fight or flight kicks in, and this time I chose to flee. My brain finds enemies in every corner, a nausea roiling in the pits of my stomach. 

All those runs to burn off a surplus of energy have clearly payed off, making my body stronger and faster than the average person. Anyone who decides to peruse me will find it incredibly difficult to keep up. 

Good luck to them if they’re foolish enough to think they can catch me. By the time they get on their feet, I’ll be long gone. 

 
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