Among the Ashes
Should I let you fall?
Lose it all?
So maybe you can remember yourself
Can't keep believing,
We're only deceiving ourselves
And I'm sick of the lie,
And you're too late
Couldn't take the blame
Sick with shame
Must be exhausting to lose your own game
No wonder you're jaded
You can't play the victim this time,
And you're too late
You never call me when you're sober
You only want it cause it's over,
How could I have burned paradise?
How could I - you were never mine
So don't cry to me
If you loved me,
You would be here with me
Don't lie to me,
Just get your things
I've made up your mind
~Evanescence “Call me When You’re Sober”
Raindrops fell, one by one. Beating the rhythm on against Marth’s skin. Steady. Ceaseless. Maddening.
You are alone.
You’ll always be alone.
And you’re going to die, miserable.
Marth grasped the end of the rope in his hand tighter, looped it once and pulled it taut.
This is your punishment. Your personal Hell on earth. What you deserve.
This is what you did to yourself.
Another loop. Tighten it. Tie a knot.
What did you expect? Forgiveness? Redemption?
That you could change?
You’re still the same.
I can change.
They won’t let you. She won’t let you.
I have changed!
What good is it, if no one cares?
You don’t care about anything. You aren’t capable of caring.
Marth wrenched the rope so violently it burned the skin from the palms of his hand.
Only for yourself.
That’s not true.
No one else.
I know that’s not true.
Zelda knows it’s true.
She knew you never really loved her.
Not the way she loved you.
Marth’s heart clenched with guilt.
You can’t care.
You are alone.
I don’t have to be.
You’ll always be alone.
And you’re going to die.
“What!?” Marth shouted and whirled on the spot.
The pounding thoughts in his head sunk quietly into the back of his mind, fading into the rain.
Elice stood, red-eyed and shivering at the entrance of the makeshift shelter along the ledge of the cliff. The canvas tarp swayed in the breeze, and a few drops of icy water ran down his hot, sweaty face. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes.
“What?” he strained calm his voice, but the tension still seeped through.
“She shouldn’t have said that,” Elice said hoarsely.
Marth turned away from her and went back to securing the tarp.
“She was wrong.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell her?”
“When would I have ever had the chance?” His voice rose slightly in temper and he jerked on the rope in his hands with unnecessary force.
“You should have told her years ago.”
“What good would it have done?” He turned so sharply that his long, dripping hair whipped across his forehead, then lay plastered against his skin. “I’m not telling her because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything! It doesn’t matter!”
“It matters to me,” she whispered through her tears.
Marth’s eyes softened as his little sister hugged herself tighter.
“Come here.” Marth drew Elice under the cover of the ledge and put his arms around her.
“I’m so scared,” she wept onto his shoulder. “I want him back… I just want him back.”
“We’ll find him,” he assured her, fighting to keep his own voice steady. “We won’t give up.”
Marth held his sister while she cried, though her trembling only worsened.
“You’re going to freeze,” he said worriedly, putting his hands on her shoulders. “You stay here and warm up. I’ll try to start a fire, all right?”
Marth turned back to the fluttering flap of the shelter, pulled it back and stepped back out into the downpour. Once again the rain kept time, beating down on his head. Each steady pulse drew back the thoughts he had fought to push back.
A drop of water slid down the tip of a stalactite hanging from the ceiling of the cave, clung to the rock momentarily, then lost its hold. It splashed onto the back of Ciara’s neck, making her shiver. She curled her legs up closer to her body and leaned towards to the warmth of the fire for comfort. The rain and wind continued to rage outside the cave with no sign of respite.
Ciara tried to sleep, but despite the exhausting events of the day her body would not shut down. She had been sitting awake and alone, in silence for hours. With nothing but the crackling of the fire to keep her company, she couldn’t keep her mind from wandering amidst the many terrors that crouched in the shadows around her. Darkness lingered near the opening of the cave like a fog, waiting for a chance to creep in and snuff out the light, her only source of protection.
While part of her wished Link hadn’t left her all alone, she couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved. The unpredictable monster who had unleashed itself before her eyes seemed to have vanished. But she knew it couldn’t be lurking too far below the surface.
The flames burst in a sudden uproar, sending up a fountain of sparks into the air. The brittle wood fractured under the intense heat, snapping down the middle.
Crack. Like a bone. Shattered. Broken.
The sound shot through Ciara and her heart lodged in her throat. She jumped back, and stayed pressed against the wall, waiting for her heart to stop hammering.
The wood settled and the flames returned to dancing on the walls, like the memories flickering in her mind. Bones smashed with deafening crunches.
She could still hear it.
She could still see it.
She could still feel it.
The darkness pressed against the cave.
Ciara bowed her head and shut her eyes, but the darkness followed. The face still loomed there, watching her. Waiting. He had seen her. He knew. His eyes fixed on her, watching through the flames.
Even the darkness could not hide her. Nothing could silence the sound of fists beating against flesh. Nothing would stop him. Nothing could satiate his hunger. Not even the sounds of her screams could reach him in his madness, in his thirst for blood.
A low whimper of anguish rose through the shadows. Ciara cringed away from it, but it would not stop. She blinked against the firelight, but the pitiable cry continued. She raised her head slowly to see Roy, in semiconscious agony, laying at her feet. He moaned again – the broken sound of a pain she knew all too well.
Ciara withdrew from the wall and nervously lifted Roy’s head to her knees. She brought the water to his lips and let it run down into his mouth. This time she could see his throat working, gulping down the water under his own power until the very last drop. Still, his lips sought for moisture.
Ciara placed the pouch on the ground and slipped her hands under his neck to remove him from her lap. The scorching heat of his skin seemed to be fading slowly away, but it was no less disconcerting. Her hands cupped his head, but as she slid him away from her he groaned once more, almost inaudibly.
His lips quivered and she heard him whisper something, and she leaned in closer in an attempt to understand.
“Elice,” the word barely slipped from his mouth before he gave shuddering cough, then gasped painfully for breath.
Ciara stared down at him for a moment before she slid out from under his neck and returned him to the floor. The jostling movement agitated him once more, and he knitted his eyebrows in pain.
Reluctantly, she picked up the empty water pouch and peered out into the darkness. As much as she hated being alone, trapped inside the damp confines of the cave, the thought of being alone and exposed in the wide open spaces of the beach made her quiver.
“Elice,” he pleaded again.
Ciara shut her eyes and sighed, knowing she could not escape the night. With trembling fingers she raised her hood over her head and took a step towards the opening of the cave. The wind rushed past and a few icy drops of rain snuck in to chill her skin. Though she continued to quake inside, she resigned herself to the inevitability of her fear.
Sparing Roy one final glance, Ciara plunged forward, surrendering herself to the darkness.
She moved across the pebbled beach as fast as the rugged terrain would allow. Here and there she had to slow down to pick her way through the jagged boulders that lay strewn between the cliff side and the rushing river.
Every few steps she would throw a fearful glance over her shoulder. Her ears strained to hear even the slightest hint of sound, though the crashing of the rapids made it nearly impossible. The thick curtain of rain and the moonless night were both a protection and a threat. She could see nothing, and she knew she would be nearly invisible as well. But nearly might not be enough.
Her eyes continued to search for any signs of life as she struggled over the rocks. She hopped up onto a flat faced boulder, hoping for a better vantage point, but hit a wet, slimy patch. Instantly her feet went out from under her and she threw her arms out to catch herself. Her knees hit first, then her hands. The sharp-toothed rocks sank into her skin and she stifled a cry of pain.
Instantly she jerked her head up and twisted her neck in every direction, cursing herself for not controlling her voice. A gust of wind turned the rain sideways, pelting her in the face. Squinting against the stinging droplets, she bowed her head and plunged forward towards the water’s edge.
She dipped the pouch into the flowing waters and waited with bated breath for it to fill. With fingers half-numb from the cold, she fumbled to plug up the bottle and shot to her feet.
A cold, hard prick landed against the soft flesh of her neck. She tried to scream but something clenched around her stomach with such force that it knocked the air from her lungs.
“What is a little snake like you doing out all alone on a night like this?”
His voice, more chilling than the wind, more piercing than the knife at her throat, crawled into her ear and left her frozen in terror. No sound could escape her lips. Her throat tightened and her heart leapt so violently that she jumped along with it. The water pouch slipped from her fingers and bounced onto the ground, spewing its contents out over her feet.
“You thought you could get away?” Navarre brushed the knife up and down against her skin.
“Let me go,” Ciara demanded, unable to mask the fright in her small, quivering voice.
Navarre leaned in closer, until his face lay pressed against her temple. The rough stubble on his chin scratched her cheek, and his hot breath burned against her icy skin.
“Change back,” he ordered.
“I – I don’t – ” she stuttered.
“I know it’s you.” The knife stopped, and he pressed the tip firmly against her skin.
A horrified whimper squeaked in her throat as her body went rigid as stone.
“Change back.” The threat in his voice carried over to the blade in his hand. He pressed harder, penetrating the skin. A drop of crimson appeared, blemishing her alabaster neck. She choked back another scream, slammed her eyes shut. Ciara held her breath in her lungs. And the façade slipped away.
Pale white skin darkened into a creamy brown. The Etrurian Temple Priestess’s flowing tunic melded into the dark, coarse attire of a Sentei. Her curls straightened and fell flat, framing her face. A deep brown, nearly black color emerged from the roots of her hair and spilled down to the ends, like running water. Navarre’s hand followed the flow of change as he ran his fingers from root to tip.
“Now, Manasa,” Navarre purred, “that’s more like it.”
The knife left her throat and clattered to the ground, freeing his hands. They slithered down her shrinking body and finally tightened around her stomach.
“I do like this body so much more.” He pressed himself to the new curves, reveling in the change.
“Stop,” Manasa whispered breathlessly. Her hands constricted at her sides. Nothing to hold on to.
“Mmm.” Navarre reached down to stroke her head lifted a lock of the dark, silken hair. He lifted it to his face and ran it beneath his nostrils, inhaling her scent with a heavy sigh. His fingers loosened and he let the hair tumble back to her head. He reached back down, taking pleasure in the way she shrunk away each time he gathered a fistful and slowly let it loose.
“I should have known you would’ve survived.” He nearly chuckled as he let all but a single strand of hair fall loose. With a sharp jerk he plucked it out by the roots. Manasa’s hand shot up with a twitch of pain, but he caught her wrist and held it still.
He strained closer and lowered his mouth the considerable distance to her shoulder, like a monster crouching to devour its prey. His hand snaked under her tunic and clutched the bare skin of her stomach to pull her around. His lips followed all the way, making their way hungrily to the base of her throat. She closed her eyes again, screaming inside, screaming at him to stop, to let her go, to set her free, but aloud she could barely make a sound. Her throbbing heart pounded against her chest, and his mouth lingered there, just to feel her fear.
“Please,” she begged, loathing the weakness in her voice, a voice she barely recognized. “Not again….”
At her plea his movements intensified. He kissed her neck and pulled her painfully close. His lips bit at her, all the way up her throat to the point of her jaw. He forced her chin up, exposing the bare flesh of her neck as he kissed her relentlessly. Rain poured down on her face as she strained her chin away from him, but there was no escape. He seemed to consume every inch of her, pressed so tightly against her throat she could no longer breathe. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t flee, couldn’t escape his suffocating embrace.
With her face turned to the sky, her eyelids squeezed shut over her burning eyes. A single tear welled in each eye and spilled over. Her throat seemed to swell beneath his touch, closing off under his choking grasp.
Just when she felt she could handle no more, that she would black out from the terror consuming her, he sighed, then straightened. She leaned back in exhaustion, catching her breath, but he took hold again and pressed her face into his chest.
“Not fighting tonight?” He kept hold of her with one arm and returned to petting her head. “You could at least make this interesting for me.”
His hand moved to brush her hair away, exposing her small, half missing ear. “Then again,” he rumbled lowly, leaning in against her again. “We both know what happened the last time you tried to resist me.”
A muscle-clenching sense of revulsion coursed through Manasa’s body as she felt his lips close around her ear. His sharp teeth nibbled the flesh just enough to make her wince. The wetness of his tongue ran along the scarred edges of the skin, from the lobe back to her temple. He stopped, his tongue exploring the empty space where her missing ear should have been. His teeth clenched over the hole, biting down on nothing. The snap of his teeth shivered through every bone in her body.
“Navarre, please,” she panted in fright. “I don’t want any trouble.”
He laughed mirthlessly. “Trouble?” he said as he held her out at arms length to look at her clearly for the first time.
The long, gentle lines of Ciara’s face had melted away, replaced by Manasa’s shorter, more defined features. She now bore high cheekbones, a gently concave nose and a small, pointed chin. Navarre looked down on her. Now, more than ever, she looked like a forlorn child awaiting punishment for some shameful misdeed.
“Trouble is all you want. What do you think you were asking for when you decided to try for a little poetic justice?” He shook his mane of hair and indicated the long, curved, still-healing scar that ran from across his forehead and down over his cheek across his left eye. “I call that asking for trouble, you little b– ” he thrust her away, and she stumbled then fell to the ground, slamming her head against the rock.
Even through the physical pain of her now throbbing skull, the word he used sent a wave of disgrace through Manasa. She struggled to rise from her back, propping herself up on her elbows. He towered over her, lying at his feet, and she narrowed her tear filled eyes and glared up into his face with as much hatred and malice as she could muster.
Navarre glowered down at her. His gleaming red eyes seemed to see past everything, right to the heart of her fear. Baring his unnaturally pointed teeth, he growled in the back of his throat. The carnal gleam in his eyes only increased his resemblance to a wolf in human form that had not quite completed the transformation.
“Where are they?” he asked, cold and menacing.
“I’m alone,” she managed to reply through her furious, terrified shaking.
“Now we’re going to play games?” He took a step forward, glaring down at her. “The Hylian and the little human lout, they fell too – where are they? ”
“Dead,” she replied shortly. She crawled backwards slowly on her elbows, retreating as Navarre advanced. “They – ”
Manasa cut off, suddenly unable to breathe. The wind shifted Navarre’s cloak to expose the ornate hilt of a sword hanging from his belt.
“They – ” she stuttered in absolute panic. Her eyes darted from Navarre’s wicked face to the stolen sword at his side, but she refused to accept what it could mean. “They didn’t make it out of the river.”
“What a shame,” Navarre furrowed his brow with false pity. He paused, then crouched down beside her.
“You know what my only regret is?” He leaned in closer. She recoiled instinctively.
“That I didn’t get to see the little one sizzle.” He bared his teeth in a sadistic grin. “His blue-haired beauty is going to be so upset. I’ll have to pay her a visit. Offer her some comfort.”
“You – you can’t.” Manasa’s trembling hands clenched into tight fists in the sand. “She’s a – ”
“A virgin?” Navarre offered as he crouched down beside her. Manasa tried to withdraw but he grabbed her wrist and jerked her closer.
“Untouched,” he added, savoring the word. He drew her hand to his mouth and licked the skin from her wrist to her palm. He smiled vindictively as she shivered, and he ran his tongue across his lips. “I know. I can tell. I can always tell.”
“Don’t.” Manasa shook her head. Though her eyebrows were lowered into a threatening scowl her eyes showed her fright. “You can’t take that from her!”
“Who’s going to stop me?” He wrenched her closer still, breathing into her face like a foul wind. “No one stopped me taking it from you.”
Manasa lowered her head to escape his eyes.
“Oh, Nassa… you couldn’t think you were the only one.” A low laugh rumbled in his throat. “Not even the first…”
He took hold of her hair once more, fingering it possessively. He let it fall back down over her shoulders, but not before picking another strand from her head like a weed. “And you won’t be the last.”
“You’re disgusting!” Manasa spat before she could stop herself. She caught her breath, but too late. She tensed, awaiting the blow.
He struck her across the face so brutally the world went black, and she knew nothing but her own scream ringing in her ears. Her head smashed against the ground once more and she lay in a dazed stupor. She tried to push herself up with her arms, but he pinned her down.
“You know what is disgusting?” He breathed over her face, reawakening nightmares from the deepest depths of her soul. “You, walking around in that body, with a pack of filthy humans and a couple of Hylian dogs in tow. I can’t help but wonder what you’re up to.”
“Kau sent me,” she gasped, shrinking away from him.
“You?” he laughed derisively. “They must be getting desperate. But, I guess without your brother around to bail you out your name was bound to come up sooner or later. Banan always did want to keep you from having any fun.”
He fell against her, burying his face in her neck. She screamed until his mouth covered hers, forcing her into silence. Her hands pressed against his chest, trying to push him off, but he slapped them away.
Manasa moved in more slowly this time, and though it repulsed her to the point of sickness, she placed her hands on him again. Pretending to embrace him, she tremblingly ran her fingers along his muscles. He responded instantly to her touch, and she fought the urge to scream once more. It felt all too familiar, to caress him with fear.
Instead she turned her attention to her goal, and slipped her hand deftly into his cloak. She searched frantically, but carefully, not wanting him to discover her true motive.
Her heart leapt as her fingers found what they wanted – a side pocket near his breast containing his stash of poisoned darts. As quickly and undetectably as possible, she closed her fingers around them and withdrew her hand. He didn’t notice it slip furtively into her own cloak. By the time his lips released hers she had deposited her newly acquired arsenal safely within the folds.
He returned to running his hands over her body with satisfaction. She squirmed in his arms as his fingers crept up her shirt and ran over her stomach.
“Stop it.” She cringed and tried to push his hands away, but that only seemed to make it worse. “Please…”
“Oo, I do love it when you beg.” Navarre laughed against her skin. His hands slid out of her shirt, but she continued to struggle.
“First things first.” He grasped her chin to hold her still. “Tell me what you’re up to, Manasa. What does the Black Fang want with them?”
“That’s not your concern anymore,” she replied in sudden fury through clenched teeth. “You left… you left me….” Her anger faded and fresh tears sprung to her eyes.
“How could you,” she whispered desperately. “How could you do that to me?”
“The way I left you, I didn’t think you’d be of much use to me anymore,” he explained coolly.
“You left me to die!” she exploded. Tears fell tremulously from her eyes as she beat on his chest and fought to free herself from his grasp. “Bleeding on the ground after you – you – ” she choked on her own fury and couldn’t bring herself to drudge up any more memories.
Navarre smiled down at her with sadistic gratification as she writhed and fought against him in complete futility. She struck blindly, and landed a slap across his cheek. Stunned only for a moment, he seized hold of her violently and growled in her face. Manasa screamed as he pulled her forcibly to her feet.
“Apparently I was wrong. You still have some life in you.” He stroked his fingers up and down her face while she glared up at him with hate-filled eyes. “So, tell me quickly, then we can get this over with. Where are you taking them?”
“Go to h– ” she spat, then caught her breath. Silence rang in the air between them. Her own foolish audacity gave her both a thrill of confidence and a shudder of dread. She ducked out of his arms and took a step back, already cringing in anticipation.
But Navarre just stepped closer and stared at her with narrowed, searching eyes. “What does Kau want with them?”
A painful flash shot through Manasa’s mind, making her wince and flinch away from him. Knowing she had only one chance, she made a furious effort to shut her mind off, to revert it to a haze of darkness, an indiscernible hiss, nothing more. She couldn’t let him see. There were too many secrets, too many lies.
“Stay out of there,” Manasa warned, almost convincingly.
Navarre grunted in frustration and tried again to break through the barrier. His failure showed clearly in the rage twisting his face.
“Have it your way,” he conceded, and took another barreling step towards her.
“I – I – ” she struggled to keep her strength, to stand strong, but she knew it wouldn’t last. If he touched her, she didn’t know if she could keep him out. Her thoughts had betrayed her before, though never with anything this important on the line.
Unwilling to forfeit her mind, she continued her slow, backwards retreat. He leered down at her like a ravenous beast waiting awaiting its kill. “Navarre, please… you can’t do this to me,” she cried, hysteria taking her. “He wants them alive. If you mess this up, they’ll kill me! You know they will!”
“And I won’t?” he asked with a raise of his eyebrows. He extended his arms and pushed her back. A few stumbling steps and she crashed into the wall of the cliff-side. The sharp rock pierced her flesh, cutting a deep, jagged hole in her arm. Tears burned in her eyes and she bit back a scream. Even as she cradled the wound tenderly she could feel something warm trickling down her arm and through her clothing.
“Who are you more afraid of?” The fire in his eyes no longer enticed. Instead, they burned with the flames of bloodlust.
Manasa blinked her eyes away from his paralyzing stare. Her face turned slightly away from his and her shoulders drew up protectively against the rock as though trying to shrink out of his vision, trying to disappear.
“You’re in way over your head, Nassa.” He lowered his face her ear, extending the ssss in her name with a hiss. “Just tell me what I want to know, and we can both be happy. Make me force it out of you…” Navarre slipped his massive hand around her neck and squeezed until her whimpering faded into desperate wheezing. “And I might not be as gentle as I was last time.”
His free hand drew his knife and brushed it against her right ear. “Do you want a matching set?”
“Bern,” she croaked, trashing about helplessly for air. “I’m supposed to take them to Bern.”
“Why?” he rumbled.
“Something to do with the Emblems again.” Her voice came out in little more than a whisper.
“But why does he need them?”
“I don’t know. You know they don’t tell me anything…” Manasa shut her eyes and trailed off hopelessly until she felt another prick. “I don’t know!” she cried more frantically. “I don’t know!”
“Well, I’m disappointed,” Navarre sneered, pulling the knife away. “No wonder they keep you in the dark. You’re way too easy to break.”
Manasa caught her breath as he released her neck, but immediately tensed once more. His hand moved down the center of throat, making her squirm in disgust and shame.
“Go ahead,” he dared her. His hand forced its way beneath the fabric of her shirt, and kept moving down. His dirt encrusted fingers moved against her skin like worms. “Fight me, my little nessir. Show me your fangs.”
Manasa waited for him to move. She could see it in his eyes, knew what was coming, and she waited. His tongue flicked between his lips and she shut her eyes. The second she felt him lean in, she took a breath, and vanished on the spot.
Even before she landed she could feel him following behind. She only let her toes come down, fleetingly, on the ground before she teleported again. It had to be fast, so fast that he couldn’t catch his bearing, ensuring that he wouldn’t remember where they had been.
Keep his head spinning, keep him guessing.
Trees, brush and rocks whizzed past her eyes in nothing more than a blur. The rush of the river vanished in the roar of the wind past her ears. Each jump occurred in such rapid succession she could barely see her destination. She only knew she had to get as far away as possible from the cave where Roy lay, helpless and broken. She had to jump as many times as possible before he caught up, before he caught her.
Keep your mind blank. Don’t let him see. Don’t let him know!
Manasa crossed the river once, heading upstream. She landed for less than an instant, but before she left the ground she heard him hit the dirt behind her, gaining on her with every jump.
Double back. Up the cliff-side, back downstream. Further, further away.
She touched down on a patch of grass under heavy tree coverage, deep within the bowels of the forest on the opposite side of the cliff from the cave where Roy lay. A gust of air brushed past her as he swung his arm out to take hold. With her heart thundering to the point of madness, she jumped again – but too late.
Mid-jump, she felt his hand tighten around her arm, squeezing, wrenching her out of the air. She didn’t even feel her feet hit the ground. Blinding, dizzying pain crashed over her like a wave against the shore.
Navarre held tight to her arm, keeping her on her feet. He struck her again and again until her screams turned to defeated sobs. He released her and she crumpled to the ground. With her head still reeling with pain she crawled forward, knowing it would be in vain.
Her tormentor fell on top of her and pushed her down once more. Desperation took hold and she lost all conscious thought. Though she struggled and clawed and fought he held her down with ease. His hands manacled her wrists and pinned them to the ground on either side of her head.
“Now let’s get one thing clear.” Navarre hovered over her like a dark shadow, spelling her destruction. Rain dripped from his hair, down onto her face, drowning her, blinding her. He lowered his face to hers and hissed in her ear. “I don’t care what’s happened or how long I’ve been gone. You are still mine.”
The nightmare that had started eight years ago came crashing down around her once more, all too real. She had spent the last four years pretending that she was safe, that this would never happen again. But it had been nothing more than a lie. In an instant she had traveled back in time, as though he had never gone. She had never been free.
He bore down on her and she knew she would never be free. Her body went limp and she accepted her defeat. His hands left her arms and he clutched her to him, and she could feel nothing but fear, surrounding her and chaining her in bondage. Nothing could be more terrible than this suffering.
Death itself could not be worse than this…
With frantic fingers, she reached blindly into the pocket of her cloak. Seized with pain, she kept her focus. Her hands clutched the darts, holding on to them for her very life. Her ears fell deaf to her own cries. She couldn’t think anymore, about anything. Horror surrounded her on every side, and so she concentrated on her own trembling hands.
Only three. So few…. But it wouldn’t take many, not with a precise hit. And she knew where. She could do it.
Her arm crawled up over his shoulder, and he responded in kind. Thinking she had finally given in, as she always did, his hands moved to her belt. Warding off the nausea in the pit of her stomach, she raised her hand as he fumbled with the latch.
Manasa’s heart clenched, and she plunged the darts into his flesh. The three needle-sharp heads entered his neck and sunk into the base of his spine.
Navarre howled like a wounded dog and arched his back in agony. His spine stiffened and he lurched back, clawing at the three little heads sticking out of his neck.
The second his weight lifted from her she scrambled like a frightened mouse, half crawling, half stumbling, out of his reach. For a second she thought she had done it, that she had gotten away – and then he caught hold of her ankle.
Manasa screamed as he reeled her in. She kicked and thrashed, but Navarre kept hold of her, roaring with murderous rage in his red eyes. As he pulled her in she lunged at him, swinging madly, but he caught her arms and pinned her down once more. A bestial snarl sounded in her face and she cringed away from him, feeling her heart would simply explode from terror.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she shut her eyes and waited for the end to come.
Instead, silence, but for her own gasping breath.
Navarre went still, though his hands dug into her skin more intensely. Manasa opened her eyes to see him, still hovering over her, gasping for breath. His eyes bulged from their sockets and sweat poured down his face as he looked down at her in utter shock.
“You - ” he gasped, shaking so badly now it sent a tremor through Manasa’s body.
Time stood still as she waited. His lips parted again then his body swayed and convulsed. Dark eyebrows narrowed over his cold eyes and a strained but satisfied smile slid over his face.
“That’s my little nessir.”
Manasa’s heart went still, and Navarre collapsed. His dead weight slammed down on her, knocking the air from her lungs. He lay like a corpse, crushing her into the ground.
Unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to even think, she lay beneath him and waited for death to claim her. Instead, she felt only pain. No release, no escape. And with every second that went by her suffering grew only worse.
His suffocating weight pressed down her and sickness flared in the pit of her stomach. Snakes seemed to slither over every inch of her body, entangling her and holding her against the ground. She could never be rid of him.
In mad desperation she shoved his massive form off of her, and struggled to pull herself out from under him. She tried to stagger to her feet but a fresh jolt of blinding pain shot through her body. A cry squeaked out of her throat and she collapsed helplessly to the ground. She managed to drag herself a few feet before complete horror took over.
Manasa could still feel him against her, touching her, contaminating her. An irrepressible urge to retch pulsed through her body. The feeling of her own polluted skin repulsed her and she longed to leave it all behind.
A fresh cry rose up in her throat and she couldn’t bite it back. Her scream echoed through the trees so loudly it made her heart jump. She shot a fearful look at Navarre’s lifeless body, half expecting him to rise up at any moment and finish what he had started.
His eyes followed her, even now, through the darkness - always watching.
Manasa shut her eyes and vanished into the night air.
To be continued...