The world spins around in hazy circles. I attempt to sit up, but the overwhelming pain in my chest seems to throw me back into the cold hard stone of the room I'm in. My hands roam my body in search of the silver dagger I use to protect myself, and realize it is gone. Along with this realization, come several more. I am alone. At least, no one is in this room with me. I am weapon-less, my knife that I had used to defend myself for years, is missing. I have no means of contacting an outside source, and must use my wits to escape. The soreness in my midsection indicates an injury, although I haven't confirmed the severity of it. Blood, dirt, grime, and the wrinkled and torn clothing covering me leads me to believe I've been dragged to this location, and the person that did so was not gentle. I find the energy to sit up. I run my tired hands through my hair, and wish for a shower. Although, assuming that my captors aren't too nice, that wish probably has a snowball's chance in hell. Ripping my ruined shirt from my body, I turn the ruined part on the outside and bandage my ribs, which just have a few minor cuts on them. I look around the room, which I know now is a boring prison cell with only a toilet and a high window, and spot my bag.
Why on earth would they take my dagger, and leave the bag? I always carry poisons and antidotes with me. My mentor, being an expert on the two herself, had reluctantly trained me on yet another one of her secrets. Many people from our village joke that I, Vanya, am her reincarnate. Our personalities may be alike, but our looks could possibly suggest that we are from separate ends of the world. I stumble over to the opposite end of the room and open the bag. My poisons, along with the corresponding antidotes, are still there. Every poison I own I make clear, to help with their purposes in sabotage and the like. The only detectable traces of them are their scent and taste. Only a select few with the sharpest noses and an advanced knowledge of poisons can smell the difference between a regular fluid and the same fluid, added with a few drops of potent venom. The taste? Yes, certainly a drawback. But the receiver would be long incapacitated by the time they knew what hit them.
I scavenge around through my bag. I get an orange and a bottle of water, along with a hairbrush, some hair ties, and some chest bindings. Wrapping my wounded ribs had left my exposed, and while I'm certainly not shy, its not my wish to be slapped in the face with my "girls" should I choose to fight my captors or make a run for it. They are a mere hindrance, and under most circumstances, should be treated like such. I take the black bindings and wrap my chest tightly, making myself almost appear flat. i brush my long hair and tie it into a high bun, and peel my orange. I love oranges.
As soon as the smell invades my senses, the doors burst open. A small girl, maybe around the ages of 5-7, stares at me with cold gray eyes. How close could she have been to me if she smelled the orange fumes so soon? She could be taught by my mentor, I think to myself. After a few seconds of making sure I'm doing nothing wrong, my state of attire seems to slap her in the face. She turns a bright scarlet color, and turns away, coughing quietly in her hand. I look down. I have black spandex shorts on, along with my chest bindings and a shred of my tattered shirt on my midsection. I have nothing bad on, so what could she possibly be embarrassed about? But that's precisely the problem. I have next to nothing on, compared to her. She is in a long, matte brown dress that covers everything shoulders down. Seeing me must be almost as mortifying as seeing someone naked. But that isn't my problem. Where I live, we almost wear nothing more than what I have on now. I don't intend to start wearing more.
The girl gets over her embarrassment at my lack of clothing and invites herself into the room. She coughs again. "Aleia told me to lead you to the showering rooms. A guard has been sent to go with you, to ensure you do not escape. He will also follow you into the showering rooms for further security. You have a maximum time of 30 minutes, and if you exceed the time limit, you will be punished." My amazement at the girls vocabulary is overridden by my rebelliousness. I am eager to push the rules of this place. I nod in fake acceptance and step outside the door to meet a female guard. She is toned, tall, and could possibly be intimidating for an individual with less confidence than I. Her strong jaw line frames her jaded brown eyes, which are partially covered by her brown hair. Not a particularly stunning or exotic individual. I sneer at her. She notices. Her hand immediately goes for her belt, which holds a vast assortment of weapons I haven't seen. She pulls a long strand of leather from the back, and yanks it toward me. The first thing I notice is the pain. It unfolds against my back like the blooming of a spring flower, although I can assure you it isn't nearly as nice. Although every nerve that has been stricken is screaming to do something, I remain unaffected. I give her the illusion that pain like that simply cant undo me. The sneer returns to my face, though I say nothing. She wants to hit me so badly that I can simply feel the blood lust radiating off of her, but my captors must want me alive and relatively unharmed, for, like me, she does nothing.
She leads me down boring gray corridors, the stone reminding me of the little girls eyes. What do they do to such youthful children to turn them into such mindless robots? I vow to find out. I stare at the weapon holder around her waist, and think of my dagger. A memory comes to mind.
"Vanya, I'm giving you this dagger. My father gave it to me as a parting gift, but it doesn't hold as much sentimental value as the other things he left me," Neoma, her mentor, said with a sigh. "I was never talented with a knife anyway, and you show great potential with it." She handed the weapon to me, and I stared at the beautiful creation with awe. It was slightly longer than a normal dagger, but shorter than a knife. It had sapphires and black gems encrusted within the silver handle, and the blade itself seemed to glow like the moon. It was beautiful. I took the weapon eagerly and tested it out on a nearby plant. I slashed through the thick wooden trunk and, miraculously, the weapon came out unharmed. I gaped.
"I can really have it, Neoma?" I asked timidly.
"Yes, Vanya," She chuckled, amused by my awe. Technically, the Selene dagger was only to be passed through the pure Selene clan, but I had come from a pure blood family myself, and were we all likely connected by blood anyhow. I smiled, very much appreciative of the gift.
My flashback was rudely interrupted by a harsh shove from the brown haired guard. I frowned, and walked forward into the rooms. Just a shower head, a bottle of unscented shampoo and body wash, and a wash cloth. I stepped inside, and before the woman could follow, I slammed the door in her face. It gave me a sense of satisfaction to know that the action probably irritated her. I turned on the water, and to my surprise, it was hot. I let the water wash over my body while i unwrapped the bindings and shirt wrapped around me, and finally my shorts and underwear. I washed them, paying attention to every minute spot of dirt and blood on the clothing. I seriously doubted they would let me wash my clothes using a machine. Finished, I set them on a clean spot on the ground away from the water, and let them dry.
Cleaning myself was a small piece of heaven. I had took all the opportunies to do the same in my village for granted, and after a week or two of camping with Saffron, a team mate of mine, and not being able to wash myself I learned it was a privelage, not a human right. I stayed much longer than necessary, wondering how on earth i could have been captured by such people.
Saffron and I sprinted through the woods, attempting to catch our next meal. The large stag leapt away from us. It was unusually fast, and we took that to mean it was young, healthy, and thus carrying lots of meat. Saffron raised her bow, narrowly missing a tree that had unexpectantly popped up in her way, and released an onyx tipped arrow she had made herself. the arrow caught the animal in the leg, yet it ran like no such thing had happened to it. As I wondered just how that could be possible, the creature stopped and looked east. I looked at Saffron, hoping she knew as well as I did that this meant someone else, probably not friendly, was around. Finally, she nodded and took out her sword, made of volcanic rock, the sharp edges shining in the light of the sun. I knew it was her weapon of choice.
I heard a sharp rush of wind to my west, which confused me momentarily, but I avoided it nonetheless. A short knife landed in the tree beside of me with a thud. I smiled. The enemy had revealed that there were more of them, and we knew an approximate location of one. Saffron took out her bow, not willing to throw her precious sword, and launched another arrow in the direction of our attacker. We heard a feminine hiss, and knew that we had wounded her. She climbed out of the bushes, and met our gaze with bright, icy blue eyes. She smirked, and threw several more knives at us. I jumped onto the knife that had embedded itself in the tree, avoiding critical wounds, but more of the short blades were coming my way. I had no time to worry about Saffron if I wanted to save my own skin. I scaled the tree in a matter of seconds, adrenaline pumping through my veins. A silver knife nearly sliced open my arm, but I caught it with two fingers and jumped randomly through the trees in an attempt to confuse them. This woman obviously couldn't fight in a forest like we could, and while we had an advantage there, she had an incredible amount of weapons, and Saffron and I only had 2 each, counting the knife I caught earlier.
I stopped to catch my breath in the midst of some large leaves that hopefully concealed me. I looked down, and what I saw made me catch my breath. Saffron was trapped by the woman with the knives, and the human the the stag sensed from the east was approaching quickly. I took the knife, and coating it with a paralyzing, possibly lethal poison from my pack, threw it at the woman's arm. I wasn't hoping for an attack that would kill her, just one to immobilize her. I jumped from my hiding place and took her remaining 7 knives. How she kept them all of the many knives she threw at us in a pouch smaller than mine, I will never know. I also grabbed her food and water, and her other useful supplies. We were a day or so from home, and being tired and hungry wasn't how I liked to travel.
The man revealed himself. He was huge, burly, and had an axe attached to his back. It would be nearly impossible for my to fight him with my dagger, or Saffron with her sword. We just simply couldn't get close enough. My team mate seemed to realize this as well, and put her sword back in its sheath. She drew her bow, and I coated the 7 knives with a poison that would immediately kill the target. I hated doing it, but i feared nothing else could take him out. He smirked at us. He thought absolutely nothing could take him out, much less two 18 year old girls, no matter how tall, fast, and toned we were. I smiled at him. I could tell he wasn't swift, and must be quite dimwitted as well. I doubt he could make it back to his base without his lady friend telling him where to go.
He took the axe from its home on his back. It was silver, with red lining, and at least 3 feet tall. I swallowed. I had better not get close, or that thing could rip me up. Literally. I shivered at the thought.
"Come at me already, little boy," I said with a fake smile. This irritates him. I glanced at Saffron, who was sneaking around him while i diverted his attention. From the back, she could easily stab him, but drawing her sword now would make noise and draw his attention to her.
He growled, and ran toward me. I had enough time to laugh before I jumped onto a tree branch beside me. He really was slow, slower than a man his build should be. He reached into his pocket and pulled a knife similar to his partners, and threw it at me. I humor him, and let it skim across the skin on my cheek. Saffron is right behind him, and he still doesn't notice her. He is too caught up in his achievement. She releases the arrow, and it hits him in the chest.
I am hopeful he goes down, but he doesn't. Instead, he whips around, and slashes Saffron's collarbone with his axe. She yelps, but jumps back forward with her sword. Then I notice it. Her chest is covered in angry red, spider web like veins. The area around her wound is purple. She has been poisoned. And most likely, so have I. As if on cue, lights dance in my vision, and I stagger on my tree limb, and soon fall, hitting the ground hard. I refuse to go down with him still alive, so i grab my poisoned knife and launch it at him. It lands with a thud in his leg. He stumbles, and yet still doesn't fall. In quick succession, i throw the rest of my weapons at him, excluding my Selene dagger, and manage to hit him 5/6 times. He chokes, the poisons overwhelming his system, and collapses. My vision nearly blurry, I get a syringe and my antidotes, and prepare two, which I plan to inject in me and Saffron. I stab my leg, and my heart stops. The pain I am feeling increases ten fold, and I realize I have made a possibly fatal mistake. I have mistaken the poison for antidotes in my delirious state. I swear softly, and sway. It is impossible to sit up. Blinking slowly, I faint.
I shake my head at my actions. I am truly an idiot. As the water flings off my nose, the water shuts off and I hear a loud banging on the door of my stall. "Your thirty minutes are up. Get out," the brown haired woman shouts harshly. Browny continues to bang on my stall until I open the door and glare at her. She sneers at me and throws an itchy brown cloth that scratches my skin when I catch it. I unfold it, and it reveals itself as a shift. The dress is poorly made, obviously for a slave or even a low class peasant. She coughs into her hand and I realize she wants me to put it on immediately, without even drying myself. Not wanting to get myself hurt again, and so soon, I put on my underwear and reluctantly slip into the rough material, and frown. The cloth only comes to my mid-thigh, and is painfully tight around my chest and hips. She must have mistakenly gotten me a child's shift.
"Are you sure you got me the right size?" I ask, trying my hardest to make them sound polite.
"Yes. I know for a fact that I did," She said with a mighty smirk on her face. So it wasn't a mistake. She walks forward into the hallway a few steps, then turns to me and motions for me to follow. As we make our journey to where ever were going, I notice that all the halls look the same. They have the same dimensions, and have no decorations whatsoever. It will be very, very hard to memorize how to get out of here. How the guards do it, I will never know. Maybe Saffron knows something by now, I think hopefully. Probably not if she hasn't gotten an antidote.
Finally, after turning through various hallways and corridors, we arrive at a large rotunda. A huge desk sits in the middle with a mahogany chair behind it, the wood on both articles of furniture shining in the soft light provided by the tall candles lit all around the room, and also by one sitting on the desk. A woman sits on the chair, and until now, I have been too busy to notice the details of her appearance. She has waist long, straight maroon hair, and a long pearly dress on that hugs her figure. Her make up is done dramatically, her green eyes bigger, lips fuller, eyelashes longer. She has a silver ear cuff on, covering a large part of her outer ear. With a closer inspection, it has a long snake etched into it, whose peridot eyes sparkle in the fire light.
The guard beside me throws her hands behind her back and bows low, her forehead touching the floor. "Aleia, my goddess. We have provided you with the other prisoner. You may do to her what you wish." She slowly rises and leaves me and Aleia alone in the room. I shiver. Her eyes, matching the silver snakes exactly, shine with pure evil. I know only her name, not her story, yet I despise her.
"Hello, my dear. Your friend is in the infirmary, she gave us quite a scare. She heart stopped multiple times, but we finally found the right concoction to give her to ease the poison wound a little. Tell me, what did you use on my warriors? They were elite, thought not by my standards. The venom you used on them took them down quickly, even the bulkiest one I own. Everyone here is quite puzzled by you and your methods," She says, seemingly impressed with my abilities. However, what I noticed first was that she said the large warrior she sent to me earlier was her biggest, which I was able to take down in a few minutes. The others, which I assume are much less bulky, should be down within 30 seconds. Just this one sentence helps me greatly.
"Well, darling, I'll have you know you're good enough to be one of MY soldiers. You and your buddy both. You'll have to entrust us with the antidote and poison that you used on my friends though, so we can analyze and heal your pal. Was her name Saffron?" She says with a simple smile. My heart stops. She couldn't have known Saffron's name, unless she herself told her. We both know this can be a fatal mistake, as we are well known throughout other countries. This leads me to believe she told them that through her pained state, or they had tortured her. Both are equally despicable. I shake with anger at the thought of them.
"Where is she?" I whisper. Aleia throws her head back and laughs at me. I have the urge to kick her. Hard.
"Doll, she's fine. We found a note in her pocket that had a letter from herself, maybe she wanted to send it and never got to. Would you like to go see her?" I know she is evil, I know she is. But her attitude is hypnotizing, I want to believe her so badly. The urge is overwhelming, I struggle to call out what is so obviously a lie and a trap, yet I cant. So I nod my head and follow her, each step a step closer to her, the source of the evil, the woman who hurt both me and Saffron. With no warning, a pain intrudes on my thoughts, twisting them, making them different. With my tampered thoughts, I stand and grin at Aleia. She looks so nice, so friendly. Why aren't we friends again? I don't know, but I go over and hug her, her giggle shaking me as well as her. When I return to my spot, I ask a single question.
"Goddess Aleia, is there anything I can do to serve you?"