Chapter One: Sleep is your Enemy
The air is so still that I can pick up many scents. But the strongest is the blood that’s been shed in this place. Without looking I already know my sword is tinged red with blood, the runes faintly glowing due to the small amount of magic I have left. Rolling my shoulders I relieve some of the tension I have built up, a painful groan snaps my attention back to demon in front of me.
My lips curl up into a disgusted sneer, almost a year has passed since I killed my first and I still hate the sight of them. I shift forward, readying my blade for the killing blow. The demon opens his eyes; the crimson color reminds me he isn’t human despite his appearance.
I wonder how old he is. Does he feel anything when he kills or is it just a sick happiness for him? Shaking my head to banish the unwanted thoughts I zone back onto him. What are you waiting for Kira? Kill him already. Deciding to take the advice of my conscious, I drive my sword into his chest. His bloody eyes stares into mines as he dies leaving behind a pile of ashes.
I straighten up looking emotionless at the pile of dust. A wind will blow it away, erasing any memory of his existence. Taking a life should leave me weeping but I’ve killed more things in the past year that I have come to accept it. I’ve come immune to their death, as I look at the pile of ashes I clean my blade on my shirt, they mean nothing to me anymore.
“Chief didn’t clear you for this Kira.” I sigh loudly as Sammy voice pulls me out of my trance. Shoving my sword into my scabbard, I turn around to face her. The disappointment on her face doesn’t faze me. I expected this much when I lied to Chief to get clearance. “Shit Kira, you’re putting yourself in danger doing this.”
“I put myself in danger every day.” Motioning towards the small pile of ashes, “What’s so different about this?”
She glares at me, her brown eyes sparkling with anger. Anger that I have grown use to, anger that I deserve. But I had to do this; I had to come out instead of lying in bed not sleeping. They’ve gotten worse to the point I barely sleep. Nightmares shouldn’t be that vivid, they shouldn’t seem so real.
“Kira you’re dead on your feet. You might not see it, but I can, you can’t stand for more than five minutes without swaying. And look at you; I haven’t seen you so beat up since our first battle.” I shift uncomfortably on my feet, the soreness in my bones coming out. Not that I would tell Sammy or anything but she is right. Everything is blurry, and my depth perception is off the wire, and let’s not get on me seeing double.
“Are we going to stand here and chat or are we going to catch a ride back to camp?” Sammy brown eyes narrow into slits. Yep, Sammy is pissed. “Don’t answer that. Let’s just catch a ride.”
I stumble past her and into the forest. For some reason mythical beings have a preference for the forest. I haven’t been in a city for well over a year. I probably wouldn’t even know how to act. Practically every battle has taken place in a forest.
A hike that would normally take us fifteen minutes takes us forty-five, mostly due to my snail like pace. Anything over a slow leisure walks makes me dizzy and on the brink of fainting. If I faint in front of Sammy I’ll never be able to live it down.
We get to the road just as the large black suburban past by us, groaning in frustration I wave at it like a maniac. It squeals to an abrupt stop a mere couple of feet away from us. Smiling at my handiwork I get into the truck with Sammy behind me.
And my predictions are correct, Marty crazy ass is driving. I share a look with one of the new team members as I hurriedly buckle my seatbelt. Marty or as we call him behind his back-crazy mart- or for me just plain CM, didn’t earn his name for good driving. I close my eyes and clutch my armrest preparing for the hell ride back to camp.
I wince as I down the tonic to erase the weird sickness accompanied with a healer. My injuries were more serious than I thought. When we got to camp my blood was drenching my shirt causing the girl beside me to turn green. As I looked at her I thought, newbie’s.
The lady with the fire engine red hair looks at me nervously; I roll my eyes at her. Sure I’m royalty but that doesn’t mean she needs to panic when she is alone with me. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation or maybe it’s the fresh wounds but I feel like shit.
“Hey, Red?” The lady turns around the dislike of my nickname evident in her face. Whatever, her feelings are the last thing on my mind at this moment, sure I will probably feel bad for treating her this way in the morning but right now I can care less. “Can we hurry this along; I have a crappy bunk bed with my name on it.”
She nods briskly the familiar golden glow appearing on her dainty hands. As she lays her hands on my chest I sigh in content. The euphoric feeling being shot into me is like a gift from the fates. My eyes glaze over and I slump back against the tent wall, I could get use to this.
I don’t even notice when she takes her hands off of me, only when another distasteful tonic is thrust into my hands do I snap out of it. Sure my body is healed but I feel like absolute shit on the inside. Never and I repeat never, deprive your body of sleep. It has a shitty effect. I down the tonic quickly, ready to lie on my bed even though I know I won’t allow myself to succumb to sleep.
“Hey, what was that?” I ask her as my head begins to feel weird. I’ve been healed before and never had I had to drink something afterwards. Sure I should have questioned her about it before I took it, but my mind isn’t exactly working up to its full potential.
“A sleeping potion.” She replies smug, my eyes widen in shock. Hoping off the bed I jerk the lady around to face me, jerking her into the air with fire in my eyes I grip her throat tighter.
“Get me the anti-potion. Now!” But I already know there isn’t one. She doesn’t realize the severity of her actions. How in the fuck am supposed to survive this, I think before my grip loosens on her. Just as I fall to the ground soldiers burst into the room but by then everything is black.
I walk up the stone walkway and stare up at the castle looming before me. The trepidation in my gut lies heavily in my stomach. Whatever is in there isn’t good, every fiber in me is pleading for me to turn around and forget about going in. But just like all the other dreams I have no choice.
Against my will, I go up the steps eyeing the stone gargoyle position on a pillar by the large wooden door. Medieval, much? Pressing up against the hard wood, the door swings opens. The chilliness that seeps out to greet me does more than scare me, it petrifies me.
“Come to me…..” His voice commands. I start panting as my heart beat accelerates, this cannot be happening. The last time we spoke people died, I’m not trying to have any more innocent people deaths on my conscious.
But the coldness in my bones, the fear prickling in every nerve in my body tells me that he is here in more than voice. I’m finally going to meet Gothan after hiding and fighting his minions for almost two years. Shaking my head side to side, I try grabbing a hold to the banister as my feet carry me up the steps against my will.
My feet still moves against my will. I cling to the banister with all my will power. Even when it catches on fire and the fire starts burning my flesh away, I stay clinging to it. As the pain gets worse tears slide down my face, I sob as the smell of my burnt flesh has me gagging.
“You can’t fight me, Kira.” His voice caresses the still air of the castle. I shake my head in disagreement. I can handle my hands being burnt if it means keeping me away from him. “You have no choice, Kira.”
And just like that everything drops around me. The bone curling scream erupts from my lips as I fall into the black hole. I stay screaming as the thoughts of me dying flash through my mind.
“You’re dreaming. He can’t hurt you. It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real...” I chant as I continue falling. But even as I chant this I find myself wondering am I fooling myself. Surely Gothan can kill me if he wants. I’m in his field, this is his game. And my life is the prize.
My body hits the ground with a loud thud. Emitting a groan of pain I flip myself over. If I am ever in the presence of that damn healer again I will smack the taste out of her. There is a reason I haven’t been to sleep in days; a fucking lunatic is trying to kill me.
“You’re not that hurt, stand.” His deep voice booms in the empty space. Why in the hell do I keep finding myself in these situations? Because the fates loath the crap out of me. Getting onto my feet, I hold my arm trying to keep the pain at bay. “Does it hurt?”
Spitting out blood, I turn around. Glaring at the dark beauty standing in front of me I respond, “You dislocated my fucking shoulder. What do you think?”
“No need for hostility my dear.”
I stare at him as if a rabbit just jump out of his mouth. Deciding to ignore the falseness of that comment I assess him. Gothan is medium build with a head full of brown wavy hair. His eyes are the lightest blue I have ever seen, resembling the color of the Caribbean Sea. Though he can’t be more than 5’10 in height, he has the presence of giant.
“Is there a reason why you’re bent on ruining sleep for me?” I snap as I pop my arm back into the socket. I bite back as scream only letting a small whimper out. Even though that was all I emitted, Gothan has a huge grin on his face.
“You are just like your father. Conceited and spoiled.” I take a step back as the atmosphere change; his anger weighs down in the air heavily.
“You know nothing about my father.” I snap not liking his attitude. He tosses his head back and laughs. Taking his moment of mirth as an opportunity, I dash further out of his reach. Space is the key to surviving especially when I’m at a disadvantage.
“I know more about your father than you ever will.” He growls lowly at me the fierceness in his voice is lethal. Taking a breath I turn around slowly, I shriek at his closeness.
Gothan is barely two feet away from me, how he close the distance between us amazes me. Holding up my hands in surrender, I take a few steps backwards.
“What do you want?” I ask lowly.
He shrugs and tilts his head to the side as he looks at me. “Just your death, your parent’s death, and everyone you love and care about.”
“You must be insane if you think that’s going to happen.” I feel my barriers lower and take pride as his eyes widen. People say I’m terrifying in my full form, but Gothan isn’t the least bit afraid. His look is more admiring than anything.
“I’m a lot of things including insane. But your death is inevitable just as mines. No one can live forever.”
Before I can question him, a burning pain erupts in my abdomen. The hilt of a sword is visible but the rest is buried into me. I gasp in shock and look up at him in horror. Where is his honor?
“There is no honor in war.” He hisses. All my mental barriers disappear as his sword penetrated me. But as he jerks it back I look and see it isn’t any sword but a witch blade. “You shall learn that soon.”
“Burn in hell.” I spit staring up at him.
“Wrong sentence, girlie.” His sword comes down in a blindly fast arc, cut me diagonally across the chest. I fall on the ground as my blood runs out of my wounds.
Forming a ball of energy in my hands I throw it at him. The impact knocks him off his feet and into the air. I chuckle spitting up bloods at I look at him tumble back onto the ground. If I die he goes with me.
“Illumiste strika.” A lightning bolt hits him square in the chest. The gaping hole is singed black on the outside and his organs are visible.
“I underestimated you just as you have underestimated me.” As he disappears the barking of dogs is audible.
Seconds later the two biggest dogs I have ever seen are on me. I can barely swing at them as my vision begins fading. I’m aware that I am dying and their teeth sinking into me doesn’t faze me. As long as Gothan isn’t a threat I’m happy. As long as my death isn’t taken in vain I can rest in peace.
“Kira, don’t you dare die on me. Fucking fight Ki, you’re a fighter don’t you dare give up.” It’s like I am under water as I listen to Sammy hysterical voice. Something is wrong if she is yelling, Sammy rarely loses composure.
“Kira, please…..wake up.” I groan as something lodges in my throat. I blink furiously as things begin to clear.
I’m suddenly at the camp in my bed, with Sammy standing over me. Rolling to the side I start coughing up blood. I hear someone shriek and I’m turned back over. The sheets are thrown off of my body and I spare a glance down. The sheets are soaked with my blood.
“Oh my god.” A person says, I groan as the pain becomes unbearable.