I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
When Cassiopeia leaves her small island of Sars for the continent Irille she's in for more than she bargained for. Between seeking out adventure and making a tenuous friendship with the King, she has a drug that grants superpowers and the elusive Sect organisation to deal with.


37. "She had power and pain in her veins."



“She had power and pain in her veins.”

“And you can go anywhere with pain if you can overcome it.”

One day ago

The Palace.


Tommen felt like he needed Cassiopeia like he needed air to breath. It was excruciating not knowing where she was or what was happening to her. His imagination ran wild with possibilities. His nightmares were fueled with the gruesome chances. It felt like they weren’t getting anywhere, that they were just stuck in place with legs made of lead.

He needed something to happen. He needed it yesterday.

They were in the same room they had been yesterday, with the map spread across the table. He was sick of looking at this map, it made no difference.

What did make a difference however, was Nox running in the room that day with a smile on his lips. “I’ve got something and it’s a good something.”

That got everyone excited and everyone crowded up to the table.

“What is it?” Hadrian asked, rubbing his eyes. The King had never slept. His brother was at the brothel again and there was more work to be done than ever before. When he needed his brother most he was off with a woman, which had been happening a lot lately.

“We interrogated the owner of the bookshop and he revealed that the SIE campaign paid him off to use the cellar in his bookshop to access the underground railroad.”

“The underground railroad has been sealed for years,” Hadrian pondered and stroked his chin.

“The campaign opened them again, they have the money to do it certainly. The man’s financial records showed it too.” Nox eagerly pushed on as he spread the map he held onto the table. It was a thin paper and the map underneath it showed through. The map was yellowing and the black lines showed starkly.

Nox pointed at the bookshop labelled just off the main plaza and where the tunnels intersected. “It’s a bit of a trek from the bookshop but these tunnels are a maze, a huge maze. The man blabbed a name who we captured last night. The man is a doctor, and he says that there’s a medical facility down there. He hinted that we would never find it so it’s somewhere in the middle. We have enough people to take every trail and smoke everyone out.”

Tommen had a realization then. They were going to get Cassiopeia out. Come hell or high tide.

“Hang on Cassiopeia, we’re coming for you.”

Hadrian and Nox nodded and Avery and the Cassiopeia’s guardians looked utterly relieved. The colour was finally back in everyone’s faces. They could do this.

They would do this.

Cassiopeia didn’t truly know what was going on. Once the black liquid had spurted out from her fingers she had been chained up like an animal. She didn’t understand why.

Lucian had disappeared for something or another but he was back within a couple of hours. In the time he was away they had been testing her ‘power’. She didn’t know what it was, or the purpose of it. How could black liquid be useful? It was her hands that had to be under threat for the liquid to emerge. They would freeze her hands or bash them until they were black and blue. They would laugh as the steam rose and they would take bottles of it away to test. The pain only lasted for a short while as she had the SIE to thank for quicker healing. 

They made the mistake of letting Lucian take her for a walk. The walk was meant to be a threatening thing, a brief of freedom before they would lock her away and experiment on her further.

Her hands had been bandaged and an ice pack had been applied for the swelling. The black liquid had coloured the ends of her fingers and occasionally the liquid would drip onto the floor.

Lucian always kept a firm hand on her arm, a warning against trying to escape.

“What was Amber’s power?” Cassiopeia quietly asked, her throat still raw from her screaming.

“Her screams were a joy to see, not a joy to hear though,” he left it at that but Cassiopeia could imagine it. Amber’s screams must have been loud and powerful enough to smash and push things beyond their limits. Cassiopeia hoped that she would have caused some ears to bleed.

She was not alone with Lucian, there were four other guards behind them but they knew that she was in capable hands.

“I didn’t just bring you out here for your last walk of freedom, I brought you out here to do this,” Lucian was quick with his words and Cassiopeia didn’t have time to register them.

In a few seconds a syringe was pulled out of a pocket. It had a yellowish liquid in, a bright yellow, and before Cassiopeia knew it, it was jabbing into her neck.

The pinch of it made her cringe back. “What was that?” Cassiopeia whined, crouching down making her chains jangling on her knees.

“Something to encourage you,” Lucian jested and she knew that he was joking. It was something much more than his words.

It took a minute before the world intensified. Colours became brighter, the walls seemed to pulse, the floor came up to meet her in waves.

“It’s something we’ve been working on, SIE mixed with a little something extra to help you along,” Lucian was cajoling above her, bragging in his brilliance.

She had never hated someone more than she had in that moment.

Lucian was an asshole and she would never forget that.

Her veins seemed to bulge at her wrists, accompanying the mixture that was now circulating around her. From one moment to the next, one breath changing into another she felt it overcoming her. A deep anger, an overwhelming anger that wiped out every other emotion.


This was Lucian’s apathy manifested. The capability of a human lacking any emotions what so ever. It was a mixture which would allow brainless soldiers to be made out of capable men. Armies of those men were being implemented around the world and Lucian had helped make that, helped start the process. It was a bit off from working but it had started. A mixture which would induce an anger so deep was added.

He could handle her. There were four others around them that could handle her if she got creative.


Her brain was emptied and the anger was all that she felt. Her blood was hot and she could feel her hands. It was not the pain that was the most noticeable, it was the black liquid. The liquid felt different to what she would have imagined, it was like water around her fingertips, thinner than water yet slick like oil. Without even realizing it she could feel the heat that came from it and the power that came with it. It was as though a part of her brain had switched on and she instantly knew what the liquid was capable of.

It was an ink specifically and it could do amazing things. Her hands came up to grab at one of Lucian’s and the ink poured from her fingertips. Lucian’s face twisted, his mouth opening to look like the letter o. It was a minute facial expression, something that happened in the moment, not over a prolonged time. The ink coated their fingers and while it did nothing to Cassiopeia’s, heat rose from the ink covering Lucian’s. Cassiopeia registered the pain on Lucian’s face as it happened. The ink was burning him, with an icy coldness at first but then a burning heat. It was peculiar and yet it made sense to Cassiopeia.

Lucian went down and Cassiopeia moved quick, using the other hand to touch the chains. One hand held firmly on Lucian, watching as he gritted his teeth and went down hard. It was then that the guards around them reacted and moved closer. The chains could wait, she needed to act now. One hand came off the chains and was placed in front of the guards.

They were moving as if they were in slow motion. They weren’t but Cassiopeia’s brain was processing seconds at a faster rate than they would have if she had not been under the influence of SIE. There was a reason why it was called Strength and Intelligence Enhancement.

The ink spread fast from her hands like it was a fine dust and not a liquid. It covered the room, separating the space between herself and Lucian, and the guards. She could see through it, in its dusty form it shifted into a more bluey black rather than a solid dark shade. The guards were covering their faces, their arms useless against the ink covering them. A second later they were cowering, dropping to the floor.

Her hand went back to the chains. She turned to Lucian. His face was horrified this time as he desperately tried to escape her hold.

“You did this,” Cassiopeia said and let go of his hand, twitching her palm towards his face instead. She was too quick and the ink was covering him, his arms defending his eyes, the ink seeping through his clothes and burning through.

Cassiopeia was running, her hands on her chains. The drug told her where to go, seeing the imprints of directions of where people had been. It was as though something kept whispering to her brain and telling her which direction to turn.

The chains were off by the third turn and they were jangling on the ground where they fell. Any one she came across got the ink directed towards them.

Through the haze of anger Cassiopeia could register some happiness.

She was getting there. This could finally be her escape.

Her hands had turned black and the black was travelling up her arms. She was slick with it but she didn’t mind.

Her legs were pelting towards somewhere she didn’t recognise. More people came across her and more people got the ink thrown on them.

Her ink was like an octopus's, its main objective was to escape, to warn against coming near. But it also had a hidden agenda, it was damaging, nearly poisonous if it came into contact with skin.

As she progressed through the tunnels it became darker as the lights puttered out. It seemed that the lights were only used in more habitable areas. There was a brief moment of concern as she knew that she wouldn’t be able to see as good in the dark, she would be vulnerable, but the concern was overwhelmed by the anger once more. There was no room for other emotions, not now.

She tore through the tunnels, registering that she was getting closer to the surface. More air came through here, it was windier than it had been in the claustrophobic center where she had been.

More whispers came into her ear, someone was behind her. She spun around, her heart beating fast. There was a presence.

“Stand down,” a voice clearly uttered and it wasn’t familiar to her.

“There’s not a chance in heaven or hell,” she said and aimed in the direction she thought the voice was. They ducked, she could hear them as they clattered to the wall. The drug allowed her to see the vague outline of a person. It was a woman. It was still a person and they would hinder her escape. She could not have that.

“It would be easier for you,” they tried again and there was a flash in the dark, they had a weapon.

“You must be crazy to think that,” Cassiopeia replied and snarled as she felt the woman come closer to her. Again she aimed her hands, the ink connected and she could hear the splash against skin. A knife clattered to the ground and Cassiopeia knelt to follow the direction the body was going.

“You’re the one that’s crazy around here,” the woman gritted out and Cassiopeia smiled. These people were disjoined, jagged puzzle pieces and that was slightly amusing.

Cassiopeia was close to her now and that was the problem. The woman was quick, quicker than the drug allowed and the knife cut close, slicing at where Cassiopeia’s dress met her knees. She could hear the rip. The anger surged.

Cassiopeia’s hands was pressed on the woman’s face. The woman screamed. Cassiopeia didn’t let go until the woman slumped.

She’d been there too long, she had to move. Now. She ran onwards, turning a few more corners. She didn’t know where she was and without the drug she would have doubled back by now. It began to get lighter and the breeze was welcoming, she was nearing the end.

She was getting somewhere.

There was a man up ahead. This time Cassiopeia recognized him. She had nicknamed him the Death Guard, the man who had killed Amber.

“So you thought you would be able to escape?” the man said his voice still gruff. In his hand there sat the gun and Cassiopeia already knew that the safety was off. All he had to do was fire it. But how many bullets were in it?

Would she get away with distracting him?

“I don’t think, I know,” Cassiopeia answered him and she was confident with her answer.

“Do you now?” an eyebrow was raised and the gun was fired, the sound was loud in her ears. In such close quarters it didn’t have long to travel but the drug made everything seem longer. She span to the side, teetering towards the wall and kneeling to steady herself. She had no weapons but the ink in her hands. She raised them, he went backwards, disappearing through a door. She followed him being hesitant, he could shoot her as soon as she got close enough and the shallow knife wound to her leg was already enough.

His gun was pressed to her breast as she saw him. He could shoot her at any moment. “I should shoot you but boss wants you alive. They’re more fun when they can scream,” he murmured and the gun felt cold against the fabric of her dress.

“You’re not going to get the chance to hear me scream buddy,” she gritted out and took a chance. She planted her hands on his eyes and willed the ink to do its worst. Her knee came to knock him sideways and the gun went off, the bullet careening past her back into the corridor.

He screamed as the ink invaded his eyes as he wasn’t quick enough to shut them before the ink came into contact with the pupils.

Death Guard dropped the gun, his hands twitching in the pain. Cassiopeia could smell the ink, a smell of paper mixed with seawater, and she could smell the effect it had on his eyes. A burning smell, a gruesome smell, and Cassiopeia elected to ignore it. His eyes twitched underneath her hands, his hands came to grab at hers but they soon fell short and collapsed back to his sides. She could tell when his breathing faulted, his heart rate stopping. She could hear the pounding in her ears and she could hear when it stopped.

Cassiopeia didn’t look as the man fell. She just took the gun from where it had dropped to the floor and she moved on.

She had no choice. There were no room for emotions at this point. She had to escape.

She ran onwards the gun feeling heavy in her hand. The breeze came full force now. She was close. So close and that feeling overwhelmed the anger. There would be people behind her, she had to keep going.

Finally there was a grate up ahead, it looked like a guttering grate and beyond that was the glorious sight of a street. It was night but fresh air was blowing through and it had never been more beautiful.

She would have paused to relish in how good it felt but there would be people behind her and she could not afford to get caught.

Her hands pressed against the metal and pushed, all of her strength and will went into moving the grate. Some of the ink even escaped her fingers in her will power. Little by little it moved and finally, finally, she was hoisting herself up and out.


The darkness of night was different to the darkness of underground. It was less thick and the night sky was a blessing. The stars had never looked brighter and her nose flooded with more scents than the artificial dryness of being underground.

This was what life was, breathing and being happy for each breath. Life was appreciation and depth. Cassiopeia had never been more appreciative of her surroundings.

All around Hadrian was the Sect at its finest. It was a mass of black and leather as they donned their hoods and strapped weapons to their waists. They were going to get Cassiopeia out and the sheer number of the Sect who were willing to go down the tunnels was astounding.

In the corner Tommen and Avery could not sit still. They were pacing and shaking in place, ready to be on the move and finding Cassiopeia.

“Everyone ready?” Someone called out and there was a general consensus of agreement.

Cassiopeia we’re coming. Hadrian thought as they began to move out of the palace.

The streets were dark due to the heavy nightfall and wet with a bout of rain as dusk fell. They descended briskly through the streets and soon the bookshop was a foreboding sign above them.

They were going to get Cassiopeia out. That was all that was on Hadrian’s mind and not what they could encounter down there in the ominous darkness.

Cassiopeia didn’t have time to go far. She knew that people would be right behind her. She couldn’t run anywhere, she had to think logically. She had to find somewhere to hide until morning. The gun was held close and she checked it, two bullets remained in the chamber. Her limbs shook with nervousness and her head started to blossom in pain.

Either the drug was wearing off or she had done too much under its influence. She didn’t know which one it was.

If she had to guess she was in a side avenue on the other side of the high street. The high street was known for being a long road, although only maybe thirty percent of it was used for the purposes of shops and markets. The main plaza was in the center of that thirty percent and was the most used part of it.

If she went there it would be too obvious. There was a small section of woods beyond the avenue at least that would give her coverage for a while if someone followed her out of the grate. The only other option was to travel farther down the avenue to the high street and that would be even more obvious.

She stumbled nearer to the woods, looking fearfully over her shoulder to see if anyone was there. There would be at sometime but she could not dwell on that. She had to hurry.

Her drugged brain twisted the trees and grass until they were nightmarish and unreal to her.  In her hazed mind the trees were black trunks against a bluish charcoal sky, the path the deepest brown and the moonlight bleached the stones within it. Hadn't every painting of woods at night been like that? Of course the trees weren’t this dark and some light managed to penetrate. The woods weren’t that big to start with.

The ground was uneven though and she stumbled through it, her dress snagging on twigs and foliage. Her steps faltered as she miss-stepped, her knees locking as she fell into a small ditch. The gun came out of her hand and she felt weak without it. That was her only weapon besides her own hands.

The ink was drying on her fingertips congealing to form small droplets.

Her hand searched for the gun, digging through earthy soil and plants to get to it. The metal felt reassuring to her and as soon as she held it again she was forcing herself back up. She had to keep going.

Then the woods ended and her coverage was shot. She had to find somewhere to hide. There had to be something around.

More streets lay before her and they were unfamiliar. She had never been down here before and her sense of direction was shot. There was a playground in the distance, a little way off in between two streets as they split off.

Could she risk knocking on peoples doors and begging for help?

No, she looked like a sight, dirtied and bloodied and haggard. She didn’t want to drag them into her mess if she got caught. They would use them as leverage to her and she didn’t want them to get hurt. She wanted no one else to get hurt.

The playground had to do.

She had fond memories of playgrounds. There had only been one on Sars so the children had to battle for space and toys. It was a wonderland, somewhere where childish laughter was never too far away. Many dreams of hers had been in the playground when she was little and besides the beach or a meadow, it was a place where she had only felt happy.

This however, was not the playground of her memories. This was something else. It was as if the playground had been taken away at dusk and replaced with something sinister. As the colours drained away the swings became a gallows. There was no sound other than the crickets, no bird song or baying dogs. Every rustle of the leaves foretold of danger, and even the sound of a twig snapping beneath her feet made her pulse thump in her ears.

She was easily spooked here.

The only coverage was in a pretend house, the windows round to mimic eyes. The roof was sturdy, made to look thatched even though Cassiopeia knew that it was metal bound to metal by steel pins.

She crawled in the house and tucked her legs close to her chest. Both eyes were always fixed on the window of which gave the perfect view to the gate of the playground and to the woods in the distance. If anyone came this way she would know it. She didn’t know what she would do if she did saw someone but she would see her captor before they were upon her.

This was not like last time.

Hadrian was about to go into the bookshop when Nox put a hand on his chest. The hood placed over Nox’s eyes made him look like a grim reaper and Hadrian didn’t like it.

“You’re not going in there,” Nox said with a grave tone.

Hadrian frowned. “Why not?” he enquired and he was about to retort that he was the King and he would do what he liked. This was Cassiopeia and he needed to be down there, helping to find her.

“It’s too dangerous, someone could just kill you outright down there in the darkness and we would be at fault. Then the country would have no King and where would we be?”

“They’d have Lucian,” Hadrian replied and caught Nox’s eyes. The deadpan in the other man’s eyes was enough to make Hadrian sigh. “You have little faith in me, I can take care of myself.”

Nox’s eyebrows rose, “I have every faith in you but I don’t want to risk it.”

Now was the time to employ the puppy dog eyes and the head tilt. Hadrian would do anything to achieve his goals, even if it meant stooping to that level.

Nox sighed, “There’s a possible opening near the end of the high street need Tellers Woods, I’ll have some people come down with you and you can take a look.”

Hadrian fist pumped mentally. He was a King and it would not look proper to fist pump in public, no matter how much he wanted to.

Some of the Sect members were sent with Avery, Tommen, Hadrian and Bruce. Lisa had wanted to come but someone had had to take care of the tavern. Lisa was hell bent on closing for the night but Bruce had convinced her. He only wanted her safe, he would not lose two of the women he cared about in the same night.

They weren’t in the thick of the action nor were they underground. But they were doing something, they were helping while the Sect was looking for Cassiopeia down below. Either way Cassiopeia would be found eventually.

Hopefully it would be tonight.

Cassiopeia did not sleep, she couldn’t bring herself to. She couldn’t risk it either. All night she watched the shadows grow and stretch, she would listen to every creak and groan and rustle. She would panic at the slightest sound or movement in her surroundings. It was cold in the pretend house but she was alive. She hugged herself and shook and was glad that she still breathed. It could have been a lot worse.

Morning crept upon her and she didn’t know how long she had been stuck in a small house. Birds started to chirp and the crickets dwindled away to sleep.

She had to move. She couldn’t stay in a small house for the entire day. There would be people waking up now and people brought safety.

Her joints were stiff and achy as she exited the house and crawled to the gate of the playground. Her eyes stayed fixed on the woods, waiting for someone to appear. They didn’t.

The gun was held close as she made her way down the street, back to where she knew the high street was. There would be people on the high street. She would be safe there.

Her steps were quiet but quick as she moved. Her eyes didn’t want to look back anymore.

The early dawn was silent bar the birds and the light was beginning to comfort her, allowing the tension to dissipate somewhat in her bones.

Then there was footsteps, fast footsteps and heavy footsteps. One person she knew. She dared to look behind her.


His hand was a mangled mass of black as he ran towards her. His eyes were set in rage. His hair was blackened and wild. He was furious and he was bloodthirsty.

Cassiopeia started to run, her terror rising like a tsunami. 

She had shot a gun once before, back when she was small and she had accidently picked a loaded gun off the beach. It had drifted ashore and she had picked it up and accidentally fired it into the water. Her parents had been terrified for her. Back then she hadn’t known the power of it or what it could actually do.

The memory of aiming and squeezing the trigger was hazy but she still aimed and shot behind her. It missed, she knew because it didn’t connect with anything and Lucian’s steps did not falter.

The sound was deafening in the still morning. The recoil hurt her hand. The pain was slight to what death would feel like. She had to keep running.

All she could do was run and hoped that she had enough luck in her to escape this time.

Hadrian had stood at the grate for a long time until Nox popped his head up. Morning was starting to approach. His saddened expression said it all.

“She’s not here is she?” Hadrian muttered and at his words Tommen turned around to face the woods in the distance.

“She was here but she’s not now,” Nox answered, “We’ve cleared it, detained everyone who didn’t poison themselves first. They think she escaped a couple of hours before we got here.”

“What do we do now?” Hadrian’s expression was empty, he couldn’t believe it.

“She’s out there somewhere, we can still find her. She wouldn’t have gotten far. Head back to the high street and we’ll meet you there. We’ll discuss our next move then.”

Nox didn’t stick around. Maybe he couldn’t handle the way Hadrian’s face had collapsed in a few words, his hopes shattering before his eyes. Maybe it was because he had work to do and he needed to get back to it. Maybe it was any reason and Nox just wanted to get away.

Their meagre group was dejected. Tommen wiped away a tear from his eyes and Avery was too awash in his own feelings to notice. Bruce was stoic and shut down.

How was he going to phrase this to Lisa when he got back?

Cassiopeia kept running, that’s all she could do. Lucian was gaining on her and she didn’t want to look back to see how little the space between them had gotten. She urged her muscles to work faster. She threw a hand behind her willing the ink to emerge. It did but it didn’t have the intensity that it had once had. Her mind was failing her.

“Those drugs aren’t going to last much longer,” Lucian growled from behind her, “Then what are you going to do? Who are you going to be without them?”

His words were mocking, slicing and Cassiopeia couldn’t listen to them. They would only distract her and then he would win.

Something was thrown at her, a rock maybe, it hit the back of her head and she stumbled. The gun stayed in her hand but she went down to her knees. Lucian grabbed an ankle and began pulling her to him. She struggled, hit, punched. This was not it. This was not the end for her.

“Why did you have to ruin everything, everything I’ve done and worked for?” Lucian pondered, his grip bruising on her ankle. Her hands scrabbled for some purchase on the ground, anything that would make her stay there and not go further into Lucian’s clutches. “You were broken, how could this happen?”

She wasn’t as broken as he had wanted her to be. That was the problem. Next time he would try harder, next time he would make a heart stop before he would call it truly broken. Next time he would do better. There would be a next time for him and for the SIE campaign to continue.

Her hand came up to throw the ink at him. It connected to his cheek and stained it black. It did not melt or burn. It lay there like regular ink.

“Tsk, it’s wearing off isn’t it?” Lucian mocked and dragged her further. Cassiopeia felt her back meet stones and they scraped against her skin. This was not the end for her, she refused to believe it.

With a scream of frustration her leg kicked out and met his throat, the wind escaped him. He blanched and let go of her foot. Cassiopeia had to be quick. She jumped up, flailed and started to run. She wasn’t far from the high street now. She could make it.

Adrenaline kicked in, her heart beat pounded like a thunder storm on a tin roof. This was it. Lucian let out a scream of frustration behind her.

“When I get my hands on you, you will wish that you’ve never been born. This is the day your life ends Cassiopeia Turow!”

The race began again.

The high street came up now, and her feet pounded against the pavement like a deranged tattoo. She could not stop running now, people did not mean she was safe. They would not make Lucian stop running for her.

She looked a sight as she ran, blackened arms and legs. Scraped and burned and cut. A dress that was barely holding up around her. Desperate eyes and a terrified mouth. There was distance between them. She could do something.

People were milling about, setting up or heading out for breakfast or work. There were a group of people standing near a kiosk near the back, hoods and sad, familiar faces. She could not dwell on them.

She spun around and stopped. This was it, this was her chance. She could not fail. Her legs shook. She flipped the safety off of the gun. Aimed. Lucian appeared like a furious line racing towards her. He looked a sight, a black flame formed in hell. He was going to kill her if she didn’t do this.

People screamed behind her as they noticed the gun in her hands.

They knew what she was going to do.

She raised the gun. Aimed. Lucian’s face was twisted in a snarl, he was a hell hound and he was as dangerous as a livewire in a pool of water. He was catastrophic. She had to do this.

People were cowering, lowering themselves to the ground to escape the bullet. A woman shielded her child in the skirts of her dress. Cassiopeia heard a voice she recognised but it faded into nothingness. She had to concentrate.

She breathed in.

She had to do this. The gun was aimed at Lucian’s chest. Lucian was coming towards her, closing the distance, not caring about the people around them.

She breathed out.

The trigger was pushed. 


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