(Monday – May 18, 2015)
The world ended right in front of me. It fell apart and shook beneath our feet. Buildings began disintegrating, crumbling, taking people down with it…
And it was my fault. I had started the end.
A hand grabbed my wrist and pulled me away just as the ground began to crack apart. “Come on!” Vienna dragged me away from the mass of debris that poured from the sky. Ash fell from above like rain, and the ground was a crimson that grew darker by the seconds filling the air with a red haze.
“He actually did it.” Ash and smoke filled my throat, but I knew they were not the culprits for the tears that burned in my eyes.
Vienna’s pace had slowed. “Of course he did.” Her voice was cracked and barely audible above the roar of the flames. The debris was in her lungs just as it was in mine, and we were growing weaker. She began to cough. “I don’t think we’re going to make it out of here.”
“Yes we are.” I grabbed her hand and took the lead. There was only one direction where the smoke was not so thick, and that was where I ran. Of course he would make a way to escape. He could not have me dead, not when I would be reborn somewhere far away with a different face and a different name. It would be such a waste since he already knew all my weaknesses.
I expected a trap, but there was no army only people running to escape death.
(Tuesday – May 19, 2015)
I pulled Vienna behind me. Everywhere, people were screaming, but we didn’t stop. We couldn’t. Tears blurred my vision worse than the smoke. It was my job to protect these people, and I had been the one to destroy them. “I did this.” My throat burned. “This is all my fault.”
“Stop.” Vienna nearly fell. “He would have destroyed everything regardless.”
We moved through the only pathway of escape while a wall of flames rose on either side and pushed us out into the bleak darkness. It had never been Dante’s intention to kill everyone. What was the use of ruling if there were no people left to rule? People scattered in all directions when the wall of flames stopped following.
All around, cities were burning, the ground was cracked with red rifts of burning rocks and growing flames. It was as if the whole world was on fire.
I pulled Vienna hard behind me. I didn’t want to give her the chance to try to pressure me to leave her behind. She knew I had to survive because I was the last chance at countering Dante, but she didn’t understand that I needed her because she was all I had left. For that very fact alone, Dante would hunt her as well, that is, if she didn’t die of these ailments before he could find her.
(Wednesday – May 20, 2015)
We made it pretty far outside the growing sea of flames. I dragged Vienna to the edge of a river where she fell to her knees. I pulled her back when I saw how black the water was.
He knew I would flee to the mountains, but how could I help it? There was no point in going back to the ruins of one of the cities and gathering any sort of army. Everything holding the slightest amount of hope had been weakened by the Eigengrau.
I threw Vienna’s arm over my shoulder and began walking uphill of where the river ran. The farther we walked, the darker it became. We no longer had the light of the cities of fire to guide us because the smoke and ash were too thick. I presumed that there would be no way to see the sun if it ever did rise.
Vienna was less accustomed to bitter trials of survival, and if we continued on, I would not be much better. We had to rest, but I was almost afraid to. I was afraid of what might happen. Dante was coming. He would fulfill his word just as he had when he released the Penumbra. He would hunt me down and capture me anyway.
When her wheezing became too much for me to bear, I sat us down under a tree. We were too far to even see flames. Only the slight presence of what could have been fog actually let on that there had ever been a fire.
We only had a few short hours until the sun would rise. We had to make the most of it and pray the smoke would clear because Dante’s hunters could seek us even in complete darkness.
(Thursday – May 21, 2015)
Everything was a gray haze. It took me a minute to realize that I was surrounded by dark walls covered in red. My eyes widened, and I tried to shake off sleep. Tapestries decorated the finely cut stones. There were no windows only the occasional torch to light my way. My heart began to pound until I realized I was alone.
Everything blurred when I moved, but I did my best to stay close to the wall. Behind me, everything was black, so I headed straight where the light grew brighter.
“What would…yes. Of course.”
The voices were distant and murky but continued to grow clearer as I neared.
I froze at the sound of my name, and my hands began to shake. I recognized his voice. My legs gained a mind of their own and lead me steadily towards the light.
“Alive. Anything less than decent health, and it’s on your heads.”
I peered around the curtains into a massive room flooded with light from chandeliers. Gold, silver, and jewels lined the walls. I glanced around in awe a walked and little further out from behind the curtain.
A chair made of ivory was seated in front of me, and I could see the dark golden hair of the man who sat on it. I eased towards the back of the throne until I could see the men facing it.
Black and red armor decorated their bodies. Helms covered their faces, but the knights had cloaks that glowed and broke apart as if they were made from some black flame. These hunters had borrowed the power of the Eigengrau.
(Friday – May 22, 2015)
“Don’t concern yourself with anyone else. Just kill or let them go. She’s the only prisoner I want.”
My heart began to pound. There was still so much I didn’t know about the Eigengrau.
“Herellway Mountain. She’s somewhere near the top”
He knew where we were hiding?
I stumbled and grabbed the curtain closing my eyes as the room started to spin. I tried to run back, but there was nowhere to go. The darkness was closing in. I was waking up.
Dante sat leaning back in his throne with the corners of his mouth curled into a lazy smile. He opened his eyes and seemed to look right at me. I stumbled back and nearly fell. Dante looked beside of me then past me before closing his eyes. “I know you’re here, Elise.” His smile never faded. “Before long, you’ll return in chains.”
The darkness swallowed me, and it was cold. I tried to scream and managed to force my eyes open.
It had only been a dream, a nightmare rather. If I slept at a moment in time when someone spoke about me, I would be present, watching from my dreams. It was my least favorite ability as the Lexiss, and Dante had known about it. Tremors went up my spine. Sometimes I felt like he knew me better than I knew myself.
I curled my knees to my chest and stretched my limbs to stop their trembling. It was hopeless, so hopeless that I just wanted to cry.
Light filtered through the leaves, but the smoke of our cities darkened most of the sky. I used a clean part on my shirt to wipe the sweat from my forehead. I glanced at Vienna who was sleeping peacefully beside me. I didn’t know what to do, and knots formed in my stomach at the thought of facing the Eigengrau alone.
I had no choice. They would kill her.
I stood and did my best to dust the ash and soot out of my clothes, but my arms were still trembling. I couldn’t focus with my mind being pulled in a thousand different directions.
An overwhelming urge to curl up into a dark corner and cry came over me. I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t want this anymore. I didn’t want to be the hero. The Lexiss.
I rubbed my palms over my eyes and steadied my breathing. I would have to let it all out. I would not let Dante see me cry. He would get me, but I just had to stay hidden long enough to ground my sanity.
Vienna was curled into a protective ball, but the girl was practically defenseless. We both were. I couldn’t just leave her. Not until I knew she would be safe.
Burdens of my responsibility made my mind feel ready to explode. I sat back down and massaged my temples.
One problem at a time.
I would find Vienna a safe place to hide, then I would run for my life for as long as I could.
What about when they found me?
I squeezed my fists to make the shaking stop, but when it didn’t, I slammed them as hard as I could on the ground. My own inadequacy sometimes made me want to scream. I refocused my mind and began to rock back and forth.
There was no escaping that the Eigengrau would get me. I just didn’t know when. I knew he wouldn’t kill me. Torturing me was conceivable but unlikely. Not physical torture anyway. My eyes wandered back to Vienna. I would have to make him believe she was dead.
Why did he want me anyway? It wasn’t as if I could actually stand a chance against him or his armies of thousands.
My lips tightened. That arrogant moron. I was nothing more than a little girl to him, and he found it quite adorable that I was supposed to be the hero to defeat him. He just wanted to put a leash around my neck, so he would have someone to show off to.
The corners of my mouth curled into a smile. Maybe he would catch me, and maybe I didn’t stand a chance against him. That is, in a physical means, but I was smarter. I didn’t need an army. I could defeat him from the inside, and he would be the one who would let the enemy in his own gates.
I didn’t know how I would do it. Not yet, but I was going to defeat Dante and end the rule of the Eigengrau.
Burned is actually an idea that I came up with for a novel a while back, but the prompt just seemed to fit it so perfectly! At least, where I started the story it did.
(Ignore the dates. They were put in just to help me keep track. They’re used to separate what could be considered different chapters.)
(Also, go a bit easy on my writing. It was my first prompt story.)