The pain is nothing like I've ever felt. A punch, bullet wound, or even the feeling of having oxygen ripped out of my lungs doesn't hurt as much as this. Seeing my sister's death is worse than all that combined.
My train of thought rushes past as a misty body lunges. I envelope them in a stream of pale blue, and they fade away like fog. Another grabs my wrist and twists so that I fall to my knees. My breathing becomes erratic as I smell burning flesh, and feel the sharp stinging pain. Their touch does something, even though they aren't alive. I tug one of the pins out of my blonde, braided bun, thrusting the sharp tip through their rib cage.
They're exactly like the holographic opponents back in the training bay. But the holograms didn't make you remember things you don't want to remember.
I quickly stand, firing a beam of white, glowing energy towards another as my dragon sends the last misty figure fading away. Then a scream cuts through the air. The high-pitched scream of a child.
I turn, trying to locate it through the forests. We're surround by the ruins of a stone structure, pillars crumbled to the ground. It stands in a meadow, the trees surrounding it limp and bare. The grass is dead, like the life has been sucked out of everything green. An expanse of parched desert lies in the distance, sand staring up at the sky with blistering, imploring eyes. The sky doesn't grant it's wish, just like how my pleads to not listen Althea's torture go unheard.
I remember the scene from inside that dark room. She had slowly flickered to life, and I had felt joy by seeing her, ignoring the bloody wounds. But it was short-lived. I had to watch as she was burned alive by someone's dragon.
Those horrid people need to pay for what they did.
Tears slip from the corner of my eyes on to the ground as another scream echoes through my head. Now, without anyone seeing, I can cry.
I forget everything before her death. It's not like I want to remember, though. If I did something, my father would always say it could have been better. If I was proud of myself, my mother would always cut me down and say that I still wasn't enough.
I remember training for long, perilous hours, starting when then sun crept up the morning sky and ending when it stained the wispy clouds scarlet. I remember the weak, limp feeling in my limbs, and my mother ignoring my pleads for a break. Besides that, I remember nothing.
Feralith looks to the sky after a few minutes, black eyes narrowing as we hear wing beats. I know we can't run, so I lift a hand to try and locate the contestant as my fingertips start to glow a faint white.
She stands as her spiked tail swishes back and forth. We hear the sound of branches snapping and dry leaves crunching under someone's feet, and I wait.
I reach out, and sense someone traveling through the forest, a large creature by their side as they walk this way.
It takes me a moment to process what I feel. I'm confused as I touch their consciousness again. Their mind seems twisted, almost. Like a skilled Telepath manipulated them, and still are. It's as if their thoughts are what someone wants them to be, not what they really are. It's confusing, and I force myself to draw back as I feel the urge to pry further. Their emotions are bent, and the only thing I feel is fury, and a willingness to comply. The rest of their mind is...blank.
I stare as the figure walks out of the woods. A great shadow covers the sun, who I soon see to be a massive black dragon, twice the size of Feralith.
The person stops on the other side of the meadow, wisps of blackness curling in midair around them. What is this place? I force my erratic breathing to slow as they walk forward. I'm unsure what to do next. Do I... wait? Do I fight? Do I kill them?
The whites of his eyes are glazed over in black, veins of the same dark color crawling out of the corners of his eyes. The effect is terrifying, and I couldn't look away. Feralith stared at the other dragon. She was intimidated, I could tell. But she stood ground, and I did, too.
They walked toward us, both their and their dragon's steps eerily in sync. They stop once we're ten feet apart, and waited what felt like an eternity.
The dragon lept forward, claws scraping again Feralith's silver-gray scales. She lets out a roar and bites down on the larger dragon's shoulder, earning a cry of anger and a swift claw at her muzzle that sends blood spattering to the ground.
The person fires a beam of black, misty energy, and I don't have time to block it before it hits my shoulder. The wound smolders, the fabric of my shirt hissing and curling as it burned. It feels just like when the misty opponents hit.
I reach up for my other hair clip, and it lengthens into a long, thin knife. He lunges, and I thrust it towards him. He's faster than I anticipated, despite not being from Sinistra or Alcator. He must be from Alderon, then.
My thoughts distract me, and I cry out as he sends another beam of black into my side, sending me falling back.
Just like every single training session of my childhood, I stare up at my opponent. My mother fills my head, with her constant berating as she taught me how to fight. A wave of dread and terror washes over me as I remember the cold eyes that always bore into mine. I've been told I look just like her- but that's the only similarity.
I swiftly stand before he has the chance to kill me, throwing one of my long knives. I feel a sickening satisfaction as it implants deep into his chest. Blood blossoms on his shirt as he falls back, and I slowly step forward. I glance over at Feralith, and turn to help her.
But something holds me fast, gripping my ankle tightly. I look back at the person who I killed. Who I thought I killed. They grip my pin in their hand, black energy coiling around the blade.
His stares at me, and I don't know what to do. His eyes flicker to their original brown for a brief moment, and I stumble back with the opportunity. He lifts his hands at the same time I do, and I fight to keep the glowing stream constant as the black energy coils around my only defense. Every strand the darkness devours, the sharper the pain. It feels like I'm being stabbed from the inside out with a flaming knife.
Help me. I hear as the black stream falters. The voice in my mind vanishes, and I grit my teeth as I push against the dark magic. Soon, the fight begins to favor me. He falls back just as I had, looking up at me with his crazed, black eyes. I hold out my hand, and my pin vanishes from the ground and materializes back into my hand.
Who did this to him? Who's behind the races? They'll pay for what that they've done.
I plunge the blade into his chest, holding it there for a moment as I make sure his breathing has stopped. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the black dragon disintegrating into a pile of ash.
I stand after a moment, staring at the bloody knife. I wipe it off with the hem of my shirt, then run to Feralith. I had been so absorbed in my own fight, I hadn't been able to help her. She has a terrible wound on her left wing, and an ugly gash runs down her side. She roars softly as if telling me she's fine. I nod in understanding, touching my hand to her nose. I'm glad she's okay.
I glance back at the ash, then at the other competitor's limp figure.
I freeze, eyes narrowing as I see it isn't there. It should be, seeing that I plunged my blade through his chest a minute ago. I look around the clearing, but the body isn't there.