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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17. Alone

 

    Miel had a relentless headache. She sat slumped against a wooden post in the center of the human’s camp. Her hands were tied to the post by a stiff rope, and her wings had been bound to her sides by leather straps. She couldn’t fly away. She could barely move more than a few feet in each direction. The humans had only kept her alive because they wanted to torture her for information. And yet her concern wasn’t for herself. It was for Hylla, and for Kylora.

    Before the human knocked her out, he had said something… Our general has left. Something about delivering his new guardian to his estates. He broke that dragon friend of yours. And when he comes back, he’ll do the same to you. Had they really meant Kylora? She couldn’t imagine Kylora being broken. And yet… at the same time, she could. The humans had nearly broken her once before. They had nearly killed her. Miel had seen firsthand what they could do. And if Kylora had given in and surrendered…

    Miel hated to admit it, but she would rather Kylora was alive and a slave to a human than dead. If she was just enslaved, that might mean that she could be freed.

    And then what? She thought. Kylora had been badly scarred the first time. If humans had broken her spirit, would there really be anything left of her to save? Or would she be too broken to come back- too beaten down by life to renew that fire that bad burned inside of her so strongly?

    Don’t think like that, she reminded herself firmly. You have to believe in something, or you’ll go crazy.

    “Hey, angel!”

    She looked up, and saw a few human soldiers standing at the edge of the small cleared area. They were studying her with matching sneers. A couple were holding rocks. Miel studied them with an impassive expression. She tried not to let her blood boil with anger. She had no desire to kill them, but it was hard not to hate them when they imprisoned her and threw rocks at her while she was tied to a post.

    “You were fighting with the guardians, weren’t you?” one of them remarked casually. “Why don’t you call for some of your guardian friends to save you now?”

    “None of her guardian friends are left,” another chimed in. “They’re all dead, or enslaved, where they belong. That’s the only place for freaks like them. Angels and guardians belong where they can be controlled.”

    “Guardians belong free,” Miel said quietly. “Just like every other species.”

    “Is anyone surprised?” the human looked at his companions, who laughed. “A freak defending the freaks. I see like clings to like. Why did you go running to the guardians, little angel? Did your own kind throw you from the sky?”

    “No,” Miel said softly.

    “Then prove it,” the human challenged her. “Show us your wings, angel. Open them up and fly for us.”

    Miel gritted her teeth. She wished she could break the straps with one powerful snap. She wished she could break the ropes on her hands in the same way, and fly. She wanted to show these humans that their taunts wouldn’t go unanswered. But she didn’t even bother to try. The straps held her wings firmly against her back. She only stared back at the humans with an impassive expression, hoping they would get bored and leave her alone. When she failed to comply with their order, they all laughed.

    “See, angel?” one of them taunted. “You’re tied to the ground. You served the guardians, which brings you down to their level. Once our general comes, you’ll never fly again.”

    They walked away, still laughing.

    Those words stung at Miel. You’ll never fly again. If she couldn’t fly, she was nothing more than a human with fancy extra appendages. Working with Kylora, she had to work hard to keep up an optimistic attitude. It was her job to comfort her friend, and keep her from breaking down. That left no room for doubt or weakness. Any hesitation on her part, and Kylora would dissolve. She cared deeply for Kylora, and didn’t want her to be hurt, but it was hard to keep up an optimistic attitude when you were surrounded by guardians who believed they were doomed, and just delaying their painful deaths. Her only freedom was when she could go out for a flight. Then she felt safe and free. There had been days when she had considered flying away from Kylora, away from her doomed army, but she had always come back in the end. In a way, she’d attached her fate to Kylora’s.

    And now we’re both prisoners.

    Kylora had wanted her to look after Hylla. She had failed. Now Hylla was alone.

    Miel wasn’t afraid of Hylla being hurt. Hylla was clever and wily as the wolf form she took. But that moment when she had stood over the corpses of two humans and growled with satisfaction… then she had looked like an animal, not a guardian. Not a sentient being. It had been terrifying. What would happen to Hylla if Miel wasn’t there to look after her and keep her in line? What sort of monster was she becoming? What would happen if Miel freed Kylora, only to reveal that her sister had become a murderous creature. Kylora would never forgive her if she let anything happen to Hylla. Besides, Miel liked Hylla. The girl had passion and bravery, and was intensely loyal. Sometimes a little too loyal, to the point of recklessness. If only she could think for herself, not just ask what Kylora would do…

    A rock slammed into the back of Miel’s head, distracting her train of thought. She turned, to see another group of humans approaching. Another threw a rock at her, and she dodged out of the way. The humans just laughed, like this were a new game they were trying. They kept throwing rocks at her. She dodged, but several of them hit her. One clipped the side of her head, and blood began to spill down her face. The rock stunned her, and two more took her in the chest. She curled in on herself, trying to make herself a smaller target, which just made the humans laugh harder. The rocks stopped coming. Maybe they had finished the game, or run out of rocks. Or maybe they were too busy laughing at her to throw things at her.

    It took a lot to make Miel lose her temper. Normally she was a calm person, able to keep her head in most situations. She could moderate arguments, and handle a fight without losing her cool. But as the humans threw rocks at her and laughed at her helplessness, anger began to burn in her chest like a red hot flame. The force of it almost made her gasp, and she slowly stood, expression murderous. The humans hesitated just for a moment, and she saw alarm in their eyes. Then the alarm was gone, replaced by amusement.

    “Losing your temper, angel?” one taunted. “Go on. Attack us. Show off your strength.”

    Miel turned away from them, trying to force the anger down. Exploding wouldn’t do any good, and she would just make herself look like a fool. She had just finished turning away when a rock took her in the shoulder blades. She stumbled, and turned back to the humans.

    “Laugh now, humans,” she whispered softly. “When I’m free, I’ll remember you.”

    “Oooh, I’m terrified!” the human glanced at his friends, who laughed hysterically. Miel was pretty sure they were drunk. What human would drink in the middle of a war?

    A sick feeling rose in her stomach. Could it be possible that they were so sure of their victory that they were drinking? If the guardians struck back, they would be caught totally off guard. And yet they didn’t seem too frightened. In fact, they were strangely relaxed, as if they were at some kind of extended party rather than an army.

    Things shouldn’t be like this, Miel thought as the humans retreated. They must have been bored with throwing rocks- or maybe they were going to go drink again. They swayed as they walked, which just reinforced her theory that they were drunk. Her lip curled in disgust. Miel hated alcohol. It dulled people’s minds horribly, and made them reckless fools. She had tried it once, and never had tried it again. She didn’t like how foggy even a single glass made her mind.

    She sat and slumped against the wooden pole, letting her head drop against her chest. The anger inside her had melted away to bleak misery. The sun burned down on her from above; a cruel reminder of the sky that she wasn’t able to reach.

    I’ve really gotten myself into a mess

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