Salis' Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


Booksie won't let me remove the italics but I don't think it matters so I'm leaving it for now.

Chapter 12 (v.1) - those who would seek redemption

Submitted: August 29, 2019

Reads: 16

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Submitted: August 29, 2019

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A few days had passed and I found myself looking at our newly finished rock shelter. It was by no means a pretty thing, the walls have followed the erratic pattern the rocks had forced us to follow not to mention Helnion didn't seem to worried about how perfectly she aligned the rocks she moved. This led to a lot of gaps but none were big enough for even me to fit through, not to mention they made good windows. We had also managed to make a roof that seemed very stable and would hopefully not prove otherwise.

I would have been satisfied with just this but Perrinu had insisted we make a second, longer wall to help keep out men we didn't trust away from those that would prove themselves willing to accept her help. Helnion had not looked happy at the thought.

"I still cannot believe Helnion was able to move all of those rocks." Perrinu told me as she too inspected our shelter. "I feel bad I cannot help."

I looked at Helnion.

She was currently wandering around the area, looking for easily movable rocks.

"Helnion!" Perrinu yelled to her.

Helnion slowly made her way over to us. She looked more mentally drained than tired. Most people looking at her would probably attribute this to all the rock moving she had done but I would bet it was because there was nothing here to look at. She had long gotten over trying to associate the shapes of the rocks to animals.

"You should take the rest of the day off." Perrinu said when Helnion joined us.

Helnion immediately headed inside the shelter. Perrinu and I followed her in.

It wasn't time to eat yet but I headed for my drawers. I had specially requested a book from Usui and wondered if it had arrived yet.

I opened the drawer to find it had. It wasn't a book I wanted specifically for myself and was more pictures than words. It was a book on animals. I had tried to get her to read earlier but she had put it down in a matter of minutes and had instead chosen to stare through one of the gaps in the rocks.

I picked the book up and gave it to Helnion.

She looked at it for a moment with disinterest but eventually got to opening it.

I saw her eyes light up the moment she saw the first drawing and in moments was sitting down. I had never seen her look so blissful.

 

***

Little did Helnion know did I have other plans for her when she finished with her book for as soon as that happened I was going to begin training her. This was as much for her as it was for me, otherwise I wouldn't bother. I had actually never seen her hold a sword, practice or otherwise, but considering how bad she had been with a bow I expected much the same.

The biggest thing I was worried about with her training was going to be that we didn't have any practice swords and would have to use the nice sharp ones we had. Luckily her sword came with a scabbard so I just needed to find a way to keep it on while she flailed her sword around.

It ended up that I did not get to train her because she didn't put the book down until it was time to eat and she was soon fast asleep after. So, having nothing better to do I decided to read.

"Want to take a break from moving rocks today?" I said when she had woken up and eaten her morning meal.

Helnion glanced at Perrinu but not long enough for the latter to reply.

"Do you have another book for me?" She said with hope.

I picked up her sword and dropped it in front of her.

"Training." I said.

Helnion looked at the sword. She looked disappointed.

I turned to Perrinu. "You can…"

Perrinu jumped away from me and began waving her hands in front of her frantically.

"No. No. No. No. I…" She looked away. "I want nothing to do with weapons. Being around them so much would only remind me of…"

Perrinu fell silent and I did't press the matter any more. Usui had mentioned she was one of the last of her people so I imagined she had seen many bad things.

"Come on Helnion." I said, turning back to her and tried pulling her to her feet by her arm.

It turned out I was too short to make any serious effort into pulling her up and she obviously wasn't going to help so I moved behind her. I grabbed her butt and began pushing her forward and only succeeded in pushing her onto her face.

Perrinu began giggling but offered no help.

I looked down to Helnion and saw she had one of her awkward smiles on her face.

I now knew there was no way I was getting Helnion up unless I convinced her to.

I lifted my finger into the air and willed a spark of electricity to appear and immediately saw large sparks shooting from it and dance wildly into the air.

It was much stronger than I felt safe to use Helnion at the moment but she didn't need to know that and began moving my finger to her.

"Salis!" Perrinu said in surprise and disbelief. "You are not going to…"

I moved my hand even closer to Helnion and as expected she soon jumped up.

"Bad Salis!" She said, giving me her best attempt at a stern look.

"You know I really wouldn't do that Helnion." I said, not liking the likely comparison to me and Bad Kitty.

Helnion flashed her smile to me.

"I know." She said and then picked up her sword.

Her smile went away as she did so and when she stood back she gave me a look that asked if I would reconsider.

I walked past her and stood in front of the stone that Helnion rolled in front of the entrance before she went to sleep.

I heard a weak groan from her and the stone soon moved to the side.

I left the rock shelter, and heard Helnion's steps in the sand showing she was following.

I actually did not move too far from the shelter when I turned around. Despite there being dozens of pits in the sand thanks to the rocks Helnion had moved I wanted to stay near Perrinu so she wouldn't go unprotected.

"First some warm ups." I told Helnion and had her do stretches with me.

Helnion proved to be at least competent doing the stretches and I only needed to show her a tecnique once. It was her actual flexibilty that she failed at. No matter what I had her do she was outdone by the least flexible children I had trained with and that was at the start of the year. I actually didn't think it mattered. My goal was to train her enough so she didn't kill herself if she ever needed to use her sword.

"Now for a nice jog." I said and began jogging at a pace I was fairly certain Helion could hand, even if it was far slower than what I would prefere.

Helnion followed close behind me as I began winding my way around pits and rocks.

The terrain proved too much for Helnion. She had gotten too close to several pits trying to cut corners and had tripped over them. She also tripped over several rocks, both large and small, and had earned several scrapes and cuts because of it.

On our sixth lap around our shelter I stopped.

I knew Helnion could do at least one more lap but figured she had gotten enough wounds for one day.

"Are you all right?" Perrinu said, looking up from her book, when we came in the shelter for water.

None of Helnion's wounds bled badly, if at all, but Perrinu sat Helnion down and took care of them anyways.

"What did you do to her?" Perrinu said to me when she had finished wrapping Helnion's hands and knees with cloth.

"Took her for a jog." I replied. "Helnion's feet seem to find rocks easily."

Perrinu looked at Helnion and sighed.

"Let us hope she learns to watch her feet better."

"I hope so too."

I stood up from the place I was sitting and headed out the entrance.

"Perrinu…" I heard Helnion plead to the other.

"Go on Helnion. I can understand why one would not want to train but it is for the better." Perrinu replied.

Helnion's real training began as soon as she joined me outside. I had actually decided to go easy on her and only made her swing the sword while standing in place. I hoped this would show me most of her weakenesses before I had to try making her more potentially dangerous things.

I had her do this for about an hour, giving her breaks every few minutes, when I was satisfied I knew what I was up against.

"How did she do?" Perrinu asked when Helnion collapsed on the rock she used as her bed.

"Better than expected." I replied. "I was thinking the weight of the sword would have burned her out after a few minutes but she lasted an hour. Probably because the lower gravity here makes the swords weigh like half as much as they do on Calorin."

"Gravity?" Perrinu asked me.

"How much do you like science?" I asked her.

"I never learned much about science…" She said with sadness.

I wondered. Would teaching Perrinu be a good way to pass time?

I watched her as she moved away from me and sat next to Helnion.

"The poor thing is so exhausted." She said. "It will not be like this every day will it?"

"Only for the first week or two."

Perrinu grabbed Helnion's hand. "And look at these blisters."

Perrinu patted Helnion on the back and moved back to her usual spot.

"Once she stops dropping the sword as much as she does she will be able to hold her own here." I said and sat down.

"She drops her sword a lot?"

"I counted twenty eight time in an hour. Most near the end when she was really tired."

"Is that a lot?"

"I think it is a record."

Perrinu looked at Helnion and smiled. "Hopefully when Martu gets back she will not have a need for training."

***

For the next few days I kept up this training with Helnion. She did improve slightly but she was still more likely to hurt herself than whoever would be attacking her.

My training with Helnion for the day had just ended and I had gone out on one of my patrols. I had already taken out four men that were too close to our shelter for my comfort when I came on one that acted differently than the others.

I raised my bow to shoot him, but instead of either ignoring me or attacking me he lept behind a rock. I tried going around the rock to flank him but he did his best to prevent that.

Eventually he called out to me. “No fight. I no hurt you. No kill. I want to see other girl, one that talked.”

I lowered my bow. No part of me wanted to trust this man but none had tried to talk to me before so I considered it might be worth the risk.

"All right," I said, "but I will only give you one chance."

The man nodded excessively and began to approach me slowly.

As he neared I felt that I had indeed seen him before but couldn't quite remember. Maybe Perrinu would remember.

"That way." I said and pointed back to the area our shelter would be. "And stay in front of me where I can see you."

The man nodded and began moving.

Just then I remembered. It was the insane man that had sat close to us when we had gone to the black pool last. Had he been looking for us all this time?

 

 

***

The walk back to the shelter was quiet as neither of us tried to speak.

"Perrinu." I said as loudly as I could. "Perrinu."

"Yes?" She said coming out of the shelter a few moments later.

"He wants to talk to you." I said pointing towards the man.

Perrinu looked slightly frightened at the sight of the man but soon was looking at him curiously.

I climbed up on a rock that was between the two and a little to the side where I could watch the man and Perrinu.

"Don't get too close." I said to both of them.

Perrinu nodded but approached him and closed the gap to about three meters and began talking to him gently. I couldn't make out what she was saying but didn't really care.

The man talked back to her even more quietly so I could not hear what either were saying and even Perrinu looked like she was having a hard time hearing him.

They had talked for only a few minutes when they finished and Perrinu came to me.

“What an interesting man.” She said to me. “Much of his mind has been lost to this place but he said he wanted to see me. He thinks I am some sort of savior come to redeem him. Do you think…”

She didn't finish her sentence but I think I know what she wanted to say.

It actually made sense. Kel just might have sent us here to help the men here and if it was true we just needed to figure out how we were supposed to help them.

The most likely thing we needed to do if this is the case would to figure out each individuals problems and then what I could only guess at. How we would help them was beyond me.

“I think you're right.” I told Perrinu. “I think we were sent here to help these men.”

“So you think so too?”

“How we can help them is another problem.”

“Do you have any ideas?”

“We can just ask the sane ones about their problems and work from there. The insane ones will be a different story. Hopefully we can find enough sane ones to satisfy Usui and Kel.”

Perrinu shook her head. “I think it should be the ones that have lost themselves to this place that we should help. I cannot see them being able to help themselves.”

“Suit yourself. Just don't be surprised if you can't help.”

“I know it will not be easy but it pains me to see them lay about like that. I will not think about giving up before I even try.” She looked pained after saying that. “My father always told me to think like that.”

She had made up her mind and arguing was stupid. I would say that I wasn't in a hurry to leave this place so it would be fine if she tried this but I would go crazy from boredom if I stayed here too long, then Perrinu would have to work on me too.

***

Perrinu ended up working with this man for several days and he became a common sight near our shelter as he would return every time I sent him off while Perrinu and Helnion slept. The man, whom I now called Bug, proved resistant to this and I had to knock him out and carry him away more often then not. Suffice to say he hated me more every time he did this.

Perrinu hated this too but nothing she said persuaded me to change my mind and she eventually gave up and convinced Bug instead. I wished she had convinced him earlier because it would have let me avoid carrying his nasty body.

"Ho!" Martu yelled, finally returning after what was about two weeks.

The three of us girls were all in the shelter taking a break from whatever and were reading. Perrinu and I put down our books and headed outside to greet him. Helnion didn't even look up.

Bug immediately came to join us as we exited. Thankfully I had taught him to not get too close to me and so he kept a decent distance.

"I see some progress has been made since I left." Martu said and looked from the mostly finished inner wall to Bug.

"Yes we have Martu." Perrinu said. "But what of you? I hope your time away was safe."

Martu smiled politely at Perrinu. "As safe as Korron can be Lady Perrinu."

"Lady?" Perrinu said and blushed.

"I have sworn to serve you. A lesser title would be unbefitting of you, Lady Salis and Lady Helnion." Martu replied and then added a bow for emphasis.

"I- I am just a common girl. Such a title is wasted on me." She replied. "I can understan Helnion because of her upbringing but me…"

Martu stood up and smiled at her. "Your humility and kindness are much more noble traits than what most nobles I have met have."

Perrinu blushed again.

Martu turned to Bug. "And who might this be?"

"Oh yes," Perrinu said, still a bit flustered, "this is Ernon. He heard me talk at one of the black pools and actually came to find us himself."

"Oh…" Martu said and gave Bug a long look. "Has he given you any problems?"

Perrinu glanced at me. "He has not done one thing to me or Helnion."

Martu noticed Perrinu's glance at me and the ommission of my name.

"What did you do to him Lady Salis?" He said to me with a wry smile.

"I don't like the idea of him being too close while they sleep." I replied.

"I can understand that." Martu said and looked back to Bug. "It also explains the angry looks he keeps giving you."

Martu walked to a nearby rock and sat down.

"What of your efforts to find others?" Perrinu asked him.

"It went well. While I did not find everyone I had hoped to find, everyone I did find agreed to help and should hopefully arrive sometime with others that you can try to help, Lady."

Perrinu blushed at his use of Lady but did not bring it up again. "That is good news!"

Martu turned back to me. "For now I want to get to your training Lady Salis."

"Can Helnion join too?" I asked. "I've been working on her since you left."

Martu nodded. "I see no problem." He looked around. "I take it she is inside your house of rocks?"

"Yes." Perrinu replied. "She is looking at her book of plants again and only Salis can tear her away from it."

Martu smiled thoughtfully. "A book of plants? I wonder if she would let me borrow it when she finishes. To even see a picture of a plant would be refreshing."

Perrinu giggled.

Martu looked a bit confused.

"She is quite possessive of it. I tried taking it from her once and she would not come near me until I convinced her I would not try to do it again." Perrinu said.

Martu laughed.

He grew more serious and looked between Perrinu and me. "You girls are the best thing that has happened to this place. No matter what happens I am glad to have met you and I will do my best to see you leave Korron safely."

"I hope I can be a help to you as well." Perrinu said.

"Now we wait." He said then turned to me. "And maybe do a little training on the side."

And finally things began to move forward. While Perrinu continued to work with Bug Martu started instructing Helnion and I in hand to hand and, since he didn't have a weapon and wouldn't take one, coached us in sword technique. I was unfortunately on my own with my poleaxe.

***

From the day Martu returned our uneventful days ended.

Perrinu had continued working with Bug but had soon had new patients come in courtesy of Martu's friends.

I spent most of my time training with Martu and had found out how far I had to go before I could ever beat him, even with having the advantage of a sword. I was even more hopeless when it came to hand to hand and often found myself laying in the black sand.

Helnion trained with us for a while but would often disappear after about an hour or simply collapse where she stood. She had also continued working on the rock wall and had started on a second after she had finished the first.

Weeks had gone by, and while we had much more to do throughout our days.

Helnion had made the most visible progress and had stopped dropping her sword so often and it was now only an occasional occurrence. She had also stopped getting blisters and could keep up with me much longer during our jogs.

Her walls had come along nicely as well. The inner wall, which contained our shelter, had become off limits to all the new men, except for Martu his friends which made occasional appearances. Perrinu was even planning on building an amphitheater inside the inner wall where we could hold meetings or even plays.

Perrinu was doing all she could and turned out to be very good with the men and they soon began to tell her everything and cooperate with her. This still did not satisfy her. She had been unable to get any of them to leave Korron. This surprised me. She had convinced two of them to forgive themselves and, while their reasons for coming here were different, they could make up for it in their next lives.

I didn't think that they could make up for it in their next lives since they wouldn't remember anything. I then realized that that might be what was keeping them here. They wanted to believe that they could make up for it but deep down they thought it wasn't possible.

Thinking this I told Perrinu, who then asked them.

Surprisingly they said that wasn't why. They did believe that, despite losing all of their memories of this happening that their soul would remember. They then said that while they wanted to leave badly that they couldn't leave while Perrinu was still here. They wanted to stay and make sure she left safely before they did.

***

Months had gone by now.

I had long since stopped caring about counting the days away and focused on my training or making sure nothing was going on in or around the camp with my frequent patrols. I had even began venturing far away from our rock encampment to get away from the now large crowd of men that had congregated.

At the moment I sat on the tallest rock on the inner wall that separated what Perrinu's followers called the Inner Sanctum from the rest of the camp. It was the place no men were allowed, not even Martu came here anymore unless asked to help with something.

No one besides Martu came in here because I would not allow it, I had even shot a few that tried getting past. Eventually it became respect for Perrinu and the fact that we were female that they didn't come here. They wanted to give a place where we could be away from men. I was happy either way.

For now I was watching eviscerated men shamble about. Fights had been common at first and I had somehow come to be a keeper of the peace. It had been an annoying job at first but now there were a lot less fights thanks to the fact that they didn't like walking back her from a black pool after I shot them.

Another thing had come to unite the men and get them to work together. It was their devotion to Perrinu.

"Salis." Perrinu said coming out of the shelter, having just woken up.

I jumped down and jogged to her.

"Hmm?" I said.

"I was thinking," she said rubbing her eyes, "is there something you can do to make these men want to leave? It makes me happy to know that they want to protect me so much but it would make me happier to see them move on. No matter what I say they will not change their minds. They also put this idea into any new men that come."

"You should ask Helnion or Martu." I said. "You know how much they hate me."

"Maybe if you did not shoot them so much they would not hate you."

I had no desire to make these men like me.

"I only shoot them when they deserve it."

"I wish you would find a better way."

"Like I said, ask Helnion or Martu."

"I have asked Martu but it did not seem to make a difference and you know how Helnion is."

It was true. I had seen Martu try talking to them, and while he was respected, none really listened to him and Helnion was no more than a curiousity to any that even took notice of her. I had never seen Helnion try to talk to any of them once, she didn't even get near them very often and even then she only did when I did.

"You should also stop eating your food in front of them." Perrinu said, interrupting my thoughts. "I actually think that is the biggest reason they hate you."

"Right, morning meal should be here." I said and entered the shelter.

"Can you at least start eating inside?" Perrinu called after me.

There was no way I was going to stop my practice of eating in front of the men. Seeing their looks as I ate was one of the things I looked forward to every day.

***

More days passed and Perrinu's frustrations grew.

"I am tired or this." She said to me, joining me on the rock wall.

"You too?" I said.

Perrinu sighed. "I think I am not going to work with any of the more active men any more. Nothing I tell them makes a difference."

I looked at the men that had started gathering below us when Perrinu had appeared.

"If they want to stay in this place let them." She sounded slightly angry.

"So what are you going to do?" I asked her.

"The Lost Causes." She said.

I looked from the growing crowd below us and looked to the area to my right. It was filled with those men that had lost the will to do pretty much anything and simply lay there. Most wouldn't even flinch when moved or even attacked.

These were the Lost Causes. Until now Perrinu had only occasionally worked with them, never to any result, and had usually lay there until they died of starvation and would then have to be carried back from whichever black pool they had reappeared from.

"I do not know if I will still be able to do anything but I think if we keep them away from the others I might be able to do something to get through to them."

I looked at Perrinu. She was looking down at the rock and looked extremely frustrated. For a moment I actually wanted to help her.

"I guess you could bring them inside one at a time." I said. "At least until you can get them to move again."

"That is a good idea Salis. I will go ask Martu if he will go get one right now." Perrinu said and began climbing down carefully from the wall.

***

Perrinu tried everything she could over the next week. Nothing worked. Sometimes she even came to tears when she looked at them and knew that there was almost nothing she could do for them. I actually got to the point where I wanted to help her but I didn't know what to do either.

Then the breakthrough came.

"Something strange happened to me last night." Perrinu said to me at morning meal.

"I told you it wasn't a good idea to leave one of them so close to you, even if there is a wall separating you." I replied.

Perrinu looked to her sleeping area and through the small hole where one of the Lost Causes had been placed so she could talk to him until she fell asleep.

"I dreamed about him." She said. "I saw his life. How he lived and died."

"Didn't you have dreams about your life when we first came here?" I asked, remembering the first few days we had been here.

Perrinu nodded. "Yes, this dream was like those."

"Maybe you can ask him if your dream was true." I said.

Perrinu's eyes lit up.

"I mean, if you now know his name and what happened to him you might be able to get his attention." I continued.

Perrinu stood up excitedly. "This dream. Do you think it will work with others?"

"You can always find out tonight." I said, happy that it wasn't me that had to do it.

Perrinu nodded at me and smiled. "I am going to go talk to him."

Perrinu left the shelter and sat next to the man. She called out to him by name and began talking about the things she had seen and asked him questions about him, his family, and his life. She then consoled him. Told him tons of sappy stuff and that he should give life another try.

Her efforts paid off much more quickly than I would have ever expected and the man soon began to respond to her. At first he would just look at her but eventually he began talking back. They talked for hours. She always talked to them for as long as they wanted.

I admired Perrinu. I wished that I had met her earlier in my life. If I had I thought I might have turned out as a better person and wouldn't have hated the world so much. Sadly the world would have to be filled with people like her to be a truly good place. It would probably also drive me insane.

I never did tell her what I thought. Deep down the thought of me becoming like someone that was not the me now scared me. I didn't want to change but as I looked back over the last while I could tell that she had rubbed off on me a little.

I decided then and there that I would at least try to make myself more sociable. This was not an environment that I wanted to make friends in, but if I could do it here I could do it almost anywhere.

I also decided to no longer killed men on sight when I went on my patrols. Instead I would tell one of Perrinu's followers and they would go greet him.

I figured it would also be a good idea treat Helnion more like a friend than a follower. Instead of telling her what to do I would now ask.

 

***

I sat here, waiting to see another Follower of Perrinu the Goddess be born when she came running out of one of the now many rock houses surrounding the Inner Sanctum she had taken the man to and came to me. She was crying but had a huge smile.

“I did it.” She said almost unable to believe what she was saying. “He left. He made peace with himself.”

“You did it? You found someone sane enough not to stay here?”

She was used to my remarks so she didn't react to it. “I feel so much joy. To be able to see… that happen.” She paused. “Salis, I tire. Will you tell the others the good news?”

“It won't kill them to wait until tomorrow to find out.”

She chuckled. “I just wanted to ask.” She then went into the rock house.

So she had done it and with someone I had though was not possible to help. If anything it could only be attributed to the dream she had had. I hadn't heard of any of the others having any dreams about anything other than themselves but Perrinu had so little of herself recently…

I still had not slept. I don't know why, but it had started affecting Helnion too. Only Perrinu slept as one should now. Even the men that had lived here for so long wondered about it. Even they slept. I don't know if I would ever know but I put my money on being surrounded by insane men and Helnion had slowly come to the same conclusion that I had. Perrinu knew the dangers but she trusted me to protect her and she thought that even suspecting her believers would do something bad would affect her ability to heal them. To be honest I missed sleep.

 

***

The next I saw Perrinu I got a surprise.

“Salis?” she called to me.

I was practicing with Martu just outside the rock wall surrounding the Inner Sanctum. Martu had learned the hard way from the others that he should not get between Perrinu and whatever she was doing. So when he heard her call me he shrugged and pointed his head towards the direction she had called from. I had gotten good at climbing rocks and was quickly over the wall.

“Salis.” She continued when she saw me. “You will have to forgive me. I… saw a dream about you last night.”

She had dreamed about me? “What did you dream about?” I asked her, hoping she hadn't seen too much.

“I saw your time in the mining village. From when you were found as a baby to when you came here.”

I was relieved. That much of my life I didn't care about people seeing. It was what was before that that I didn't want her to see. Maybe she hadn't because she could only see what had happened on Calorin.

“You have not changed much.” She actually looked sad. “I wish you would let me know more about you. I have never seen you smile and it makes me depressed when I think about it.” She looked at me, almost sternly. “I want to see you smile Salis.”

I can't remember how many times she had told me this. She knew I didn't care for talking much, and at first respected that. As time had gone on and we had all become more comfortable with each other she had started to try and get me to open up. She had succeeded with Helnion and they were now friends, but I knew what she wanted so it made me resist her even more than I would have otherwise.

While she had much more to do now that she had a following she often liked to take time away from them. While she did read a lot she liked to talk. Helnion by nature didn't have much to say so she often ended up finding me. Most of the time only she talked. The few times she had gotten me to talk would excite her and she tried her best to keep me in the conversation. Most of the time I would leave when it came to this but it never stopped her from trying.

I actually started feeling bad for her. I saw what she went through every day. I knew that after hearing all of the problems from her followers she genuinely just wanted to forget about it all, I knew I would though I knew better than to get myself into that kind of situation. Even though I thought this I couldn't talk. I didn't want to get close to anyone. I hadn't even gotten too close to Helnion.

I wished I didn't think this way. I knew being alone like I was would get me no happiness. But did I need happiness? I was fine as long as I had something to do. Helnion had been useful for this and I hadn't pushed her away, especially because she didn't talk much. Perrinu had the misfortune of talking, albeit not as bad as Ferret. I didn't hate people like this, they just reminded me of…

I had to stop thinking about this. It brought feelings up I would rather not feel. Feelings I had tried to discard. I had never fully succeeded but I did my best.

For now I would just have to go back to my daily routine. It would soon be time to go practice with Martu and Helnion. This was the part of the day I looked forward to because it was easy to forget about everything. Helnion had also gotten better and sparring with her had proven to be a good distraction too. She even had started to look forward to this. She was still no match for me and could never seem to get rid of her clumsiness but she didn't seem to care about that and neither did I. It did drive Martu crazy sometimes, though.

For the rest of the day I would either read if I had a book or go on patrol. Usui had finally realized how much we read and sent us books more often. When I got tired of reading or my legs got restless I would patrol. It was more like just going out for a jog now that the area for a while was pretty much cleared of men that weren't one of Perrinu's followers. Sometimes one of her most avid followers would try and ambush me. He was the one that had come first after Martu had gone. Suffice to say he didn't like me. He never did anything back in camp because he knew she didn't like killing but out here away from her…

The man was still crazy in my mind. If he wasn't he would have realized that he didn't have a chance against me, the large hole in his stomach left from his suicide not helping either. He had never had training of any sort so the few times he did get close to me I could easily dodge him. I never did fight back much. I enjoyed his looks of frustration whenever he missed me. It would also be too easy to kill him.

I had actually come to look forward to his ambushes. He never talked to me so I couldn't be sure but he ambushed me because he genuinely didn't like me. He was by no means the first person to dislike me so it didn't bother me having an enemy out of him. He wasn't worth worrying over anyways.

As I patrolled today I didn't see him, nor anything interesting for that matter. I had now gotten used to the thin air and the low gravity so I was able to cover large amounts of ground. I had also gotten better at finding my way around using the sun and now would go much farther than I had dared before.

Perrinu had often told me she would feel safer if I had taken someone with me on my patrols but she hadn't needed to worry about that because I was pretty sure Martu followed me. I don't know how long he had been following me but over time as he had taught me how to be more aware of my surroundings I had come to realize that someone was following me and then who it was. I don't know if he had realized I had found out but I wasn't going to say anything.

Today I was exploring another area littered with rocks. I jumped from rock to rock, looking for nothing in particular. There was an occasional man but I only took note of them before moving on. None of them had cared much about me so far so I hadn't had to shoot any of them. I hand long gotten tired of shooting them so I wasn't too sad about this.

Suddenly a man lept at me from behind a rock while I was in mid jump. I managed to dodge him but lost my footing when I landed and slipped. My head hit the rock hard. I didn't fall unconscious but it took all of my will not to.

“Salis!” Martu yelled, running towards me.

The man that had jumped at me positioned myself between me and Martu. I couldn't tell exactly what was going on because my vision was spinning and I couldn't concentrate on anything other than not losing consciousness.

Martu attacked the man. Even with my slowly fading consciousness I could tell that the attacker was trained like Martu. How well, I don't know. I never saw much more of their fight as more men came out from the rocks and surrounded him. It only took a moment for Martu to fall.

When Martu had turned to black dust the men turned to me. One of them walked over and looked at me. He didn't look happy when he got a closer look at me.

“Vlast, you were supposed to make sure she was not harmed if possible.” He bent over me and ripped off a piece of fabric from my left sleeve and pressed it against my head. “If she bleeds to death from this wound…”

It looked like my wandering had been my weakness. I couldn't guess how long they had been watching me, but they had been waiting today. They had even planned for Martu in their ambush. If I had known that there was another group besides ours I would have more careful… no, I wouldn't have…

I didn't know what they wanted with me, but if this head wound didn't kill me I would probably find out. I just hoped they didn't want me for… unpleasant things. I was captured. Martu would come looking for me with any others that didn't hate me too much so I would just have to wait patiently. Then, for the first time in probably months I fell unconscious.

***

I was inside a house. It was familiar for some reason but I couldn't think why. I was in the front room. It was small, which seemed a strange notion considering this room was the size of some entire houses in Porra-kel.

In the room was a young couple with two young girls. The mother was pregnant. Like the house all of these people were familiar to me. The older of the two girls, I should know her name. I knew I had known her for a very long time but couldn't remember why. The parents were just as familiar. There was something about them… As for the younger of the two girls I only felt mild disgust at seeing her. Why I would feel this way about a two to three year old girl puzzled me.

I watched the young family. The father was playing excitedly with with his two daughters, who seemed to enjoy their game as much as he was. The mother watched them play with a smile.

I was interested in the game they were playing but I couldn't focus well, and things became blurry. My head felt heavy and I couldn't remember what I was thinking the moment before so I just watched.

As I watched them I wondered why they felt so familiar. I hadn't remembered seeing them or a house like this in Flaern. Did this mean they weren't from Flaern? Then I finally remembered. Yes, this was a family from Earth. Why was I dreaming about this? Earth wasn't important to me and I had done my best to put those memories behind me.

My memory was still fuzzy. I now knew that this was a scene from Earth. The question now was was it a vision of something that was happening now or was it a scene from my past? I just couldn't remember, my head was just too heavy.

The scene jumped. The two girls now appeared to be a year or two older and they were now accompanied by a happy looking baby boy. The two girls were once again playing with their father while the mother took care of her son.

As I looked at the family again I felt even more strongly that I should know these people. The older girl was doing her best to get her father's attention while the younger girl fought for it as well. The father laughed as they did this and urged them both to do their best.

My vision flashed and a sharp pain stabbed through my head. The scene in front of me started to fade. I was happy to see it end but frustrated because I couldn't remember why I felt I should know these people. Maybe when my head didn't feel so heavy it would all come back to me.

***

I woke to the worst headache I had ever had. The throbbing pain that accompanied it didn't help either, but pain could only be felt if you were still alive so it was in a way a good sign.

I tried opening my eyes but seeing light only made my headache worse so I decided to feel out my surroundings. My hands and feet were bound by not rope but cloth. I could probably get out of them if given enough time. That is if I could do it without the men I could hear around me noticing.

It was actually hard to make out the men around me, headache notwithstanding. Unlike I had been expecting they were all very quiet and no one was talking. The only thing I could hear was the breathing of the men near me and the soft sounds of them walking through the sand.

I couldn't make out much more from sound so I tried opening my eyes again. The dim light was still enough to make my head hurt again but I bore with it. The pain went just as suddenly as it had come, leaving the headache and throbbing from the wound on my head. Despite the pain being now gone the world spun in front of me slightly. It wasn't so bad that I couldn't make out anything around me.

There were three guards by me. None of them had noticed I had woken up yet and were just staring off at nothing. All three looked to be some of the type that were the worst off in Korron considering their hideous deformities. One had obviously broken bones, another had a broken neck and his head hung loosely to one side, the last one I couldn't tell, but he held his arms across his stomach which I knew meant he was holding certain somethings in.

Other than these men there were no others immediately close by. This was good. The three guarding me weren't paying attention so I might be able to work on freeing myself. I moved my head to get a better look at my bindings. The movement brought renewed waves of pain but I did my best to ignore it.

My hand had been tied behind me so I looked at the bindings around my ankles. What I saw was that whoever had tied me up had torn long strips off of my clothes and used that to tie me up. My clothes were already pretty beat up and my growing body had already been trying to tear some of the seams so I didn't care much. They had also left the important parts intact so that was good too.

Seeing what I was up against I closed my eyes and started working on my bindings. They had been tied pretty tight and I knew my wrists would not be pretty if I didn't finish this quickly. I had never been tied up before so I didn't know.

“What are you doing?” called an angry voice. I recognized it as the man that had spoken before I fell unconscious. “If you had been paying attention you would have realized she's awake and trying to untie herself.”

I hadn't done it. The bindings around my wrists were nowhere near loose and they now knew I was awake and already trying to escape. The guards wouldn't be so lax from now on.

“You can open your eyes.” said his voice above me. “No use trying to pretend you are still asleep now.”

I said nothing and did nothing.

“You must be wondering why we attacked you.”

I think in this kind of situation most people would resist their attacker. I, on the other hand, had nothing to hide. I also found being attacked and kidnapped a welcome change of pace. Since I had been found out before I could get my bindings off I would so I would participate in their plot, but before I could I needed to find out what it was.

“Yes, I'm wondering about that.”

“Hm, I had expected you to be too scared to say much.”

“I've been through worse, except the splitting my head open on the rock part.”

“Yes, we had wanted to get you unharmed but that is in the past now.”

He hadn't explained why they had kidnapped me yet. “Um, I don't care about that. Will you tell me why you did what you did?”

“We were told to.”

“Told to capture me? Don't tell me you don't know why.”

“The man that brought us together told us to. We just do what we are told. He… scares even the most hardened of us if we disobey him.”

If he didn't know why had he even brought it up? I don't know what kind of man lead this group, but to even scare the worst of the lot said something about him.

“If you don't have any better reason to keep me, will you let me go now?”

“No, he said to capture you and we will keep you like this until he tells us what to do with you.”

“Fine. Now if you don't mind I want to get some rest. My head.”

“Your head? Oh! I can imagine.” He laughed. “I bet it doesn't hurt as bad as what we did to the one we had jump out at you.”

The man left. Our conversation hadn't been a complete waste of time. I had found out that there was someone else out here that could gather a group of these mental cases. Other than that it had been a waste.

For now I decided that I wanted to try and fall asleep. For once I was willing to risk the dreams that apparently came with sleep here. I still didn't want to see them but this headache was even getting to me. I just had to see if I could fall asleep.

***

I had almost fallen asleep when I heard shouting. I opened my eyes to see what was going on. My head hurt even worse whenever I moved it but it didn't stop me. I couldn't see much around me as I was in the middle of a rock field. I don't know if it was still the same one I had been attacked in but it was most likely.

I don't know why they hadn't moved me somewhere else as Martu knew to come here. I imagine that the shouting I could hear was very likely an effort to rescue me or the men here had just gotten into a fight. It didn't matter to me. I just wanted to watch. It would provide some entertainment for a little while at least.

“Hey guard.” I said to one of the men guarding me. “What's going on?”

He looked at me but then went back to his spacing out. I had no luck with the second guard either but the third one talked.

“Some men are attacking. The Berserkers will get rid of them.”

Berserkers? They sounded interesting. I really wanted to watch now. Martu hadn't trained anyone other than Helnion and I so most of the other Followers of Perrinu couldn't fight well. There were a few that could but not enough to count.

My stomach growled. How long had it been since I had eaten anything? There was no way these men had food and I had left my box back in the Inner Sanctum. I would starve to death if I stayed here too long.

“You wouldn't happen to have any food would you?” I asked the guard that had talked.

“Food? Yes, I believe we can get you some food.” The man shuffled off slowly.

Wow, they did have food. The only food I had seen here came from the boxes. Either the area we stayed in didn't have any food while others did or someone was bringing it from outside. Did it matter? Yes. I was hungry and if I could find a way to get food from any place that wasn't Usui I would take it. To be free of his influence would be nice. There was also the hope that if it was being brought from the outside then whoever was bringing it might be able get me out of this place.

A few minutes later the guard came back with the boss or whatever he was called around here.

“I was wondering how long it would take you to ask for food.” The boss guy said, placing the food next to me, before noticeably hesitating to take his hand away from it. “Have fun trying to eat that with your hands tied.” He said before laughing and then leaving.

Wait, I was going to ask him where he had gotten the food but it was too late now. Finding out would happen later, for now I was going to eat. How I would do it with my hands tied was going to be interesting. If only I could dislocate my shoulders so I could bring my arms from behind me to my front… In the end I just ate it using only my mouth. To my great satisfaction I managed to do it without getting too much of it on my face, not that the food was the messy type anyways.

The food had been a welcome change from what I had been eating. Vegetables and especially fruit were nice but this meal had meat. I had missed meat. Oh yes I had. Delicious meat. Meat. MEAT! I couldn't tell what animal the meat had come from but it was meat and that's all I cared about. As for the rest of the meal… all I can say is that it looked like it had been prepared by a bachelor. Plenty of meat, no fruit, poorly prepared vegetables, some bread, and some sort of malted drink that I dumped into the sand after taking one sniff, which made the guards whimper. In the end I made one of the guards go to the boss man and get me water.

The meal had taken my mind off of things. My headache was going away now and I could sit up without getting too dizzy. There was nothing much I could do at the moment so I just sat and listened to the men around me for a while.

It was surprising how quiet it was. Hardly any of the men around me made much noise. I couldn't see how many of them were around me, but it was enough to fight off the rescue party that had come. To be honest I didn't really care if they rescued me, well as long as I could get myself untied I didn't care. I knew that Perrinu and Helnion would carry on without me and would probably stay out of trouble. On second thought… I could actually see Perrinu coming here herself to negotiate with these men.

“Could you untie me?” I asked the one guard that talked.

He looked at me for a second after I had spoken and then looked away without saying anything. I guess asking was not going to work, which wasn't a big surprise. I even asked the other two just in case but they didn't even react to me.

Then an idea hit me. The entire time I had been awake only one thing had gotten any reactions. That was when I had been brought food, specifically when I had dumped whatever that foul smelling drink had been into the sand. They probably had orders not to touch my food but starvation drove people into doing things they normally wouldn't do and these guys were in perpetual starvation. If things went well I would be able to bribe me some guards. I just had to wait until my next meal.

***

Time passed with nothing happening. The boredom was worse to me than being tied up. I had even *gasp* tried to initiate conversation with the guards, but to no avail. Eventually I decided that sleep was the best option if I could fall asleep. I didn't particularly look forward to having any dreams, especially if I ended up having one's like Perrinu had about her past or the past of the men around her.

It was strange. Until I had hit my head I hadn't gotten sleepy even once and now here I was probably sleeping twice in one day. The only reason other than boredom avoidance was that if I did dream about the other men then I could use that information to, hopefully, make my own cult of emaciated dead cult of followers like Perrinu's. I didn't particularly like the idea of having a bunch of crazed zealots following me but it was the best thing I could think to do. Unfortunately I didn't have the patience nor the sympathy that she had so it would be difficult, but these men were desperate for relief so I might be able to do it.

While thinking about my plans I fell asleep. Like the dream before I was watching the young family. They had noticeably aged since the last dream. The image was also clearer. I hadn't noticed it before but the previous dream looked as if it had barely been holding together, as if it had been made from a puzzle with many of its pieces missing. This time it was still very much fuzzy and incomplete but it had improved noticeably.

Aside from the image being much clearer my head didn't feel as heavy as it had been. I hadn't noticed it before but the reason I hadn't been able to make out who these people were yet have them feel so familiar was that their face were hard to distinguish. Even with the improvement I couldn't see the details of their faces well. I didn't need to.

I looked at the scene in front of me. It was a scene of the family eating breakfast. The oldest girl had already finished eating and looked to be getting ready for school with the help of her father. The younger of the two girls was eating her meal intently while the young boy played with his food while his mother attempted to get him to actually eat it.

I was watching one of my memories. I hadn't realized it earlier but this was definitely what I was now watching. I remember that this was the first day my older sister went to school, a fancy private school. My parents were so proud of her for getting into it. I at the time knew something good had happened, but at that age breakfast was more important to me than my sister going to a place that made you wear the same clothes as everybody else and learn boring things all day.

As if on cue the scene switched. It was a year later. The scene was very similar to the last one but aside from the obvious age increase I saw my sister eating quickly at the table while my mother helped fix places on my uniform. My parents were excited that I had gotten into the same school that my sister had. For some reason my face was devoid of any detail, as it had in all the previously scenes I realized, so I couldn't see the expression on my face. I didn't need to. I remembered how I felt. I didn't want to go and had cried to my mother to not make me go. The scene ended with me and my sister walking out of the room with our father.

The next scenes consisted of some of my happier childhood memories. My father loved to build things as a hobby. Of course, he passed this on to his children. We spent many weekends in the garage building things. My father usually did most of the work but I learned a lot from him. As the years went on my sister stopped as she made friends and started spending more time with them, but my brother had happily replaced her when my mother thought he was old enough not to hurt himself. My brother…

Aside from memories of making things I saw many memories of games our father played with us. He was a very competitive man and while my sister went along with it at first. I always tried my best to beat her. Since she was older and bigger than I was I was determined to beat her. At first I never stood a chance but as time went on and she started focusing on other things more I got my first victory. I had practiced in secret for a long time and it had paid off.

Now that I think about it I did a lot of things in secret. At night I often went to the shed to tinker with the latest project, breaking it more often than naught. Even after getting scolded for going out by myself at night I found that it was the only place I could relax so I continued to until my parents finally got some good locks on the door.

***

I awoke. Nothing around me was different from when I had fallen asleep. The guards hadn't even moved an inch. I was actually disappointed about this. This was supposed to be a kidnapping, and so far other than being tied up and guarded I was being treated rather well.

Even if I felt like talking the guards around me wouldn't be good conversation, and so like always I had to turn to my thoughts to keep me company. Any normal person would have thought about the dreams I had just had but I had put my past behind me when I came to Calorin. I had wanted to start fresh.

A little while passed and, despite trying to forget about them, my dreams of remembrance kept coming back. To help with this I decided to distract myself. I also decided to take the opportunity to finally find out what exactly they wanted to do with me.

“Hey,” I called to the guard that talked. “I want to talk to your leader.”

The guard stood up without a word and left. It didn't take him long to return with the boss man.

“I see you finally want to talk again. Is your head filling better now?” The boss man said.

“Have you been told what to do with me yet? My wrists are starting to hurt and I've got a bad cramp in my back.”

He laughed. “Are you not the least bit concerned with what we will do to you? For all you know we have unspeakable things we are planning to do to you. You also have no idea how hard it is keeping these men off of the first female they have seen in years.”

“If something bad happens I'll worry about it then.”

“You Terrans are as strange as I have heard.” His smile went away and his face changed to a more business like expression. “Now, you wanted to know what we are planning on doing with you. So far all I have been told was to capture you and keep you here. I was not told exactly why but I can think of why. I believe it was to keep you out of the…” he paused and thought, “Testing of the Berserkers.”

I had heard the Berserkers mentioned before. They had been the ones that had fought off my rescue party.

“Berserkers?”

“Yes, they are the reason my Master has come to this place. I do not know exactly what he is planning on doing with them once he is done testing them but I can say one thing about them, the more they kill the stronger they get. It takes thousands of kills but it only takes a few days by the Black Water to do this. Unfortunately, it seems they lose their strength when they fall to dust and return to the Black Water.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“I believe my Master does not want you killed in the upcoming battle.”

“Battle?”

“Yes, we plan on attacking your group of men, see how well the Berserkers do in a real battle.”

“So you're going to attack my group just to see how well you can control a group of Berserkers? Judging by their names they don't sound like they are easy to control.”

“You are a smart one. And yes you would be right for the most part. These men that are the Berserkers have little of their minds left. The only reason they have left is obeying my Master's wish.”

“So the reason you captured me was because you will be fighting my group and your Master doesn't want me to be killed?”

“Yes.”

“Then what about the other two that came with me?”

“We did not try to capture them simply because you are the only one that leaves the safety of your rocks. They also would not interfere in battle as much as you and as long as they do not get too close to the Berserkers they should be fine. My Master has ordered that they are to be left alone if possible.”

“When are you going to attack?”

“Not for a while. My Master is still making more Berserkers and those need to kill and get stronger too.”

“When you attack, can I watch?”

I had been expecting the man to laugh when I said that but he looked more dumbfounded.

“You want to watch us kill your own men?”

“When did I ever say I liked them? All I care about is getting away from this place and back to Calorin. You can even tell your master that I'll even fight for him if he promises to get me… the three of us girls out alive.”


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