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

10. Release

Chapter IX

~ Release ~

“I could use this Curse, and there’d be no stopping me.”

 

 

I leave the party in a storm of fury, Tenjey following behind sulkily. Our evening of wealth and indulgence has passed, and now we’re rocked by the consequences. 

“Did we have to leave?” She pouts, her big brown eyes heavy with regret. Within their depths I see dancing memories, a yearning for what barely slipped through her fingertips. She could’ve won herself a man of wealth and never looked back, but instead she’s trudging along beside me, and I’ve got to say I’m not the best company at the moment. “Just because Ridser ruined our fun didn’t mean we couldn’t make the most of the remainder of the party.” 

“I couldn’t stand another minute of that,” I sneer, still shaking off the last of the disgust that rendered me sick to the stomach mere moments ago. 

“I could’ve,” she mutters, and I make a point of ignoring her. She repeats herself a few moments later, only louder. “I could’ve.” 

“Well, you know what, Tenjey?” I heave a sigh of exasperation. “I couldn’t. I don’t see how you can stand to be with people like that. The way they talk about our kind, they disgust me.”

“Well, Ash, you disgust me.” She spits the words with such venom, I can’t help but flinch. “I cant believe how selfish you are. Wether or not you killed that man, I think you deserve to go back to Isolation simply for being such a horrid person. I cannot believe I ever considered you my friend.” 

“Hey,” I snap, glaring at Tenjey as she turns away. “You’re not exactly an angel either, you know.” 

She holds up a hand to perform a vulgar gesture, then takes off towards an unknown destination. I turn in the opposite direction, the one I know leads to home, and take a greedy lungful of air before launching into a sprint. 

The run helps use up some of the electric energy threatening to overwhelm me. I get lost in the familiarity of pounding feet and laboured breathing. 

First Fenly, Noko, Jasma and Katpin, then Ridser, now Tenjey. Everyone around me has suddenly vanished. I’d thought I was alone before, always felt a degree of separation, but now I am truly, utterly without anyone. Common sense tells me I should be scared, angry, or even glum, but I can’t conjure any emotion other than emptiness and a nameless aching in my chest. 

Alone. I hate the word, the weakness and loneliness it implies. Being alone does not bother me, but the fact I’ve nowhere to turn when I need someone is startling. Stubbornly, I insist to myself that it does not matter. I can take care of myself. I don’t need anyone. 

I slow to a grinding halt, nearly having slammed into a Street Patroller. I’ve found myself in a middle-class neighbourhood, crawling with Street Patrollers who remind me of beetles in their stiff, shining black garb. The one I’d almost collided with pulls a slight smile, watching me fumble in fear with innocently green eyes. 

“Sorry ma’am, didn’t mean to startle you,” he huffs, clapping me on the shoulder with a heavy, gloved hand. His words are muffled when he speaks, his lips hardly moving. There’s something curious about this man. “My, you’ve gone white as bone. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble with the Law.”

He flashes a dazzling smile, and I find myself edging away. From beneath the hard casing of his black helmet, I glimpse shining locks of crimson red hair. Which means he must be Cursed, as there’s no way the startlingly blood-like colour is naturally occurring. 

“Oh, this is my habitual pallor, no need to worry.” I force out a laugh, but it sounds dry and bitter. In the past, my encounters with Street Patrollers have been far from pleasant, which leads to some wariness when faced with one now. He waits a moment before responding, during which his eyes shift from green to piercing, icy blue. He obviously isn’t aware of the change, his face remaining impassive and neutral. I decide to seize the opportunity. “Oh my! Your eyes!”

“P-pardon, ma’am?” The cold blue of his irises suddenly shifts back to green, the crimson hair beneath his helmet becoming a more mundane brown. 

“Your eyes!” I shriek, trying to keep from busting out in a laugh. “T-they changed-d colour!”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but you must be intoxicated. Protocol states I must insure you make it home safely, so please allow me to escort you back to your dwelling. What’s your name, shall I need to add this to our records?”

“Jualli,” I answer quickly, using the ugly name Ridser handed me on reflex and plucking a surname at random. “Jualli Marethen.” 

“Alright. Please, lead the way.” I set a slow pace, not wanting to make the Patroller think I’m eager to be out of his presence. Every nerve in my body screams at me to get away from him as if he were a broiling fire, yet I’m forced to remain even and calm. The act is not easy, especially with the rebuilding of my hatred for Ridser, previously shattered and momentarily forgotten as I fought off a tidal wave of self-pity and self-loathing. 

The walk is thankfully not a long one, and part of me is glad to have the company. Granted, the Patroller is far from a beacon of happiness, but a grim companion is better than no companion. During the course of the journey, small features of his change almost at a steady pace. His eyes bounce around from blue, green and grey, even brown for a few moments here and there. Strands of his hair have worked their way lose, easily making their way from dark brown to ash blond and a deep ruddy tone. His skin ripple between pale as parchment and rich copper, all of which I pretend to ignore. A couple times I can’t resist mentioning it. 

“Your eyes just changed colour again,” I comment, to which he scowls. 

“Ma’am, please. You’re severely intoxicated. Whatever you think you’re seeing is nothing but a trick of the eye.” He declares, robotically. The speckling of light across the cavern’s ceiling has dimmed to being virtually nothing, and I begin to understand how this Cursed man gets by. He works by dark so no one will see his shifting appearances, hiding from the Law as much as he enforces it. When he does cross paths with someone who notices the changes, he convinces them they’re heavily intoxicated —which is likely if they’re out roaming the streets in the darkness—and leads them away to insure they don’t report him. 

The anger I hold so dear once again starts to spark and spitter. It’s not fair to not let Cursed into jobs simply for how we were born. We didn’t chose to be like this, why should we be punished for something so completely out of our control? It makes no sense. Part of me wants to confide in the guard. He’s going to see my house anyways, he will know I’m a ‘filthy Pov,’ and likely assume the worst anyways.

“You’re Cursed, right?” The words fly from my lips before I can tell them not to move. He freezes, eyes going wide and flashing form grey to brown to green and then back to grey again, 

“Um, no.” He lies, but not well. “Ma’am, you’re clearly not thinking straight.” 

“I’m thinking perfectly fine,” I hiss, suddenly swaying on my feet. There’s a rasping of a second set of feet against stone, and my chest tightens. “I know what you are, but you don’t need to hide it from m—”

Suddenly, I lose my balance and stumble, the inexplicable pressure on my body is too much. I crumble under the weight, suffocating. Seconds drag on into an eternity, before my mind finally caves in and I tumble into the dark abyss yawning open beneath me. Voices berate me from every side, before they too fall silent. 

There’s nothing. Nothing left, other than a blissful blackness. 

***

When I rise to consciousness, I’m thrust into an argument. Two angry, masculine voices war back and forth, and by the sound of it, I’m sprawled out between the two of them. 

“What were you thinking?” I recognize the guard from last night. “I had everything under control! You did not need to step in!”

“Sorry, but she was clearly onto your secret. You’ve got to be more careful, Peron. Someday someone will find out about you.”the second speaker scolds. I ease my eyes open, groaning softly from the light that pours in and makes them ache. Two heads immediately snap in my direction, two sets of eyes a mixture of hatred and fear. The first, unfamiliar in shape and a deep blue-grey, the others having a recognizable lilt to them and a rich, purple-red hue. 

“Who are you?” I demand, pushing myself into a sitting position. I am inside, ruddy clay wall lined with elegant paintings encasing me on every side. I’ve been draped over some sort of table, my spine aching from being laid down on the harsh stone. 

“So she is Cursed,” the Patroller from earlier comments. His eyes flit from brown to blue, wide and curious. “Or else she’d still be asleep, right?”

“That’s generally how it works,” the unknown man mumbles. “My Curse is never as strong when applied to people like us. However, there’s no way to be certain. We can’t trust a word she says.”

“That is not what I asked.” I grumble. “Who are you guys, and why do you have me here.”

“We are no one to you. You must forget all about this encounter.” The one called Peron, the Patroller, declares. “We’ll let you go unharmed, but only if you swear to never tell anyone about us or what you have heard us discuss.” 

“I’d like to see you try and ‘harm’ me,” I scoff. The two men exchange a glance heavy with skepticism and amusement, which causes a small smile to twitch across my lips. To see the look on their now-smirking faces when they realize what I can do. “Go ahead, try and lay a hand on me.”

“Listen here, missy.” The Patroller’s friend growls. “Cut the attitude. The more compliant you are, the quicker you can get out of here.” 

“No, you listen here. You’re going to explain to me who you two are, why you have me here and then you’re going to let me go, alright?” I snarl at the expressions of contempt worn by my two captors. They exchange a humoured glance, which only fans the flames. 

“We’re not telling you anything, lady.” Peron insists, and I finally break. My gloves find themselves fallen to the floor, and I slap my hands down on the table. 

Darkness streaks through the surface, ash raining down in a fine silvery powder. I land gracefully on my feet, letting my ebony gaze fall onto them, full of hatred. The two men step back, and I slowly smile. They pale, the unidentified one makes a religious gesture. His eyes, a stony blue, are a mix of fear, disgust and a sliver of awe. Peron gulps, murmuring too low to be heard. 

“Now, you’re going to let me go and not say a word about this to anyone, or else I rat you out as well.” 

“W-wait. Kednit, don’t let her leave!” Peron shouts. The other man, likely Kednit, raises a hand. The pressure I’d felt before returns, a sharp stabbing pain through my skull. Kednit must be the one causing it. I push through, eager to leave, to let them think I’ve gone and forgotten them. Without a doubt, I’ll be back for revenge. 

“I’m sorry, but whatever you’re trying to do won’t work.” 

Without farther words, I toss my hair over my shoulder and walk out, feeling their eyes glued to me for every step of the journey. 

When I come to the door, a trace a gentle ark with my fingertips, watching with pleasure as it crumbles. 

I’m sick of hiding. There’s got to be something more interesting to do with my ability, instead of covering it up and living in fear. I could use this Curse, and there’d be no stopping me. The thought is equal parts frightening and enticing. Maybe I will finally let myself go free. 

I vault up onto the nearest rooftop, carefully as to keep my hands from touching the clay. Wasting no time, I launch into a sprint. My feet rhythmically pound against the surface, propelling me forward at a startling speed. I lose the veil concealing my hair, an ordinary one I don’t care enough about to keep. It falls to the ground. No more hiding. If people are going to think I’m a monster, like Fenly and Katpin and the whole lot of them, then at least I should give them a reason. I didn’t chose to be born like this, but I should be able to embrace it. Not hate it. 

When my surroundings become familiar in their dreariness and lack of upkeep, I slow down, keeping out a wary eye for anyone I know. I don’t need to feel their condescending stares. 

I come to a complete stop when I come to my house. The clay has started to flake, chips of brown-grey littering the stone surrounding it. The blanket I’d been using as a door has been torn down, leaving the entranceway gaping open like the mouth of a vicious beast, waiting to swallow me whole. 

Forgetting how to feel fear, I step inside with no hesitation. The lights have gone out, but I don’t care. The darkness hardly bother me. 

Suddenly, I’m very, very tired. I find my gloves, as a precaution, and flop down on my makeshift bed. Sleep is elusive, but I don’t feel like getting up. All I want to do is lay down, close my eyes, and let my mind wander. 

First my thoughts stray to Ridser. I hate myself for growing to trust him as much as I hate him for betraying me. All these years, I’ve kept my guard up, stayed safe from being hurt. In a few foolish moments, everything I’d worked to maintain came shattering down. I should not have trusted him, I should’ve known it was too good to be true. The feeling of his body so close to mine haunts me, a taunting reminder of how close I came to reaching the edge. His voice, rich and deep, as he asked if he could kiss me. Those memories only succeed to stir my anger. 

Next comes Tenjey. This is likely only another foolish spat, but part of me feels it runs deeper. Maybe she does blame me for killing that man, Inneo. Or maybe she blames me for having to live in poverty, because I’m the one who’s always talked her out of marrying a rich older man. The idea is foolish anyways, he’d only get bored of her and she’d be right back where she started. 

It proves futile to even try and sleep, eventually I give up and open my eyes, listlessly staring at the ceiling. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I could fall asleep, and wake up with all the fight drained out of me. 

I cling to this new, budding desire to quit hiding, in fear that it will vanish as quickly as it came. When the light floods back, I vow to myself I will do something. Prove Ridser wrong for calling me unambitious, I will do something that’ll shake Haven to its stone cold core. 

 

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