Chapter 4: You
Their base had closely resembled a castle, with turrets and towers at each corner. The only difference was that the building
was smooth and pure metal. The metal shone greenish in the night, and she realized after a little bit that you couldn't even
see the place. It blended in with the surroundings despite everything. And since this seemed to be pretty deep into the forest,
the chances of it being found were slight to none.
She wondered how she was going to find her way home, and if anyone was worried about her. She wondered how everyone would
react. She could say she'd gotten lost in the forest. She was sure the last thing Saiph and the others needed were a bunch
of people jumping into the forest to meet them and demand questions. They didn't need that publicity, especially since the
people could end up dead, or could assist in the death of them. She thought of Nash and hoped Saiph would back off. She thought
of Saiph... and froze. She shied away from that subject quite quickly, thank you very much. Twice burned and everything, right?
So she thought about that other guy she'd met, the one who had threatened her life. Would he find her before she got home?
Would he kill her, or attempt to hold her ransom? She lifted her head high. She would take death. She wouldn't send Nash or
Saiph to a trap. Feb? No, not even her. Though she had to admit she was tempted.
She found her thoughts frittering uncontrollably and tried to match them to her emotions. It would be infinitely easier to
sort everything out that way.
She was sad. That one was easy to classify. Saiph had... hurt her. Beyond measure. It was ridiculous, but she couldn't help
the way she felt about him. She couldn't help the love that blossomed whenever the mere thought of his name slipped through
her defenses. Saiph. She wanted to see him, to be with him. Stupid. He hated her. He didn't care what happened to her. He
was disgusted with her. And, by the sounds of it, he thought her a whore. Did he truly think that she'd just throw herself
at Nash after only knowing him for a few minutes? Damn him! And she felt guilty about it all. She'd done nothing wrong. Nothing.
She felt tears on her cheeks and wiped them away. They were replaced immediately, but she found she didn't care. “No
one's here,” she whispered, “no one's here to see you cry.” She shook her head. “I'm fine. I have
to be. I can't ... I can't cry over that bastard anymore.”
Emboldened, she lifted her body straight and looked to the sky. It was dark, and she found herself looking for familiar constellations.
There was Gemini, her sign. She knew that there was a sign across from that, but she couldn't remember the name. And there.
There was Orion, the one she always seemed to take comfort in. She stood still for a minute, staring at it. It... always soothed
her soul, that sign. She wished it was one of the signs of the zodiac, and that she had been born under it. It was stupid
to think about that instead of how to return home, but... her thought patterns had always been odd. She shook her head at
herself and took another step forward.
“What were you looking at?”
She jumped and turned, her hand fisting out to hit the offender. She had recognized the voice, and damned if she wasn't going
to give this guy a piece of her mind.
Saiph managed to catch her fist, and she found herself sagging into him before she could stop herself. She jerked herself
upright and glared at him. “What are you doing here?” she demanded, thankful that her voice didn't crack.
“I came after you. Don't you know it's dangerous out here?”
Her hopes were crushed. He'd come after her out of obligation, not love. Of course. But ... hadn't he said that he didn't
care what happened to her? Had she misunderstood that part? “I can take care of myself.” Except when it came to
her heart. It seemed she couldn't protect that.
“Not against these guys.” Saiph seemed to hesitate, and she found herself reading his shirt again. 'As soon as
you trust yourself, you will know how to live.' If only it was that easy.
Saiph seemed ready to speak, but she spoke first. “You should get back and apologize to Nash.” Her eyes went to
the ground, and she found she could see the leaves that had fluttered down to die. Or maybe it was her imagination. “I
never... put any moves on him, you know. And he never really put any on me.” She found herself touching her neck. “He...
only made one small joke, and then he just sort of... dropped it.”
Saiph grabbed her hand and gently pulled it away from her neck. Her eyes glanced to his and caught. She stared into the depths
of his cobalt gaze, feeling herself falling despite her greatest efforts not to. “I know.”
“Then why...?” Her eyes pleaded for understanding.
“I...” She watched as he tried to say what he wanted, but it switched. “Could you... tell me what you were
“The stars,” she answered vaguely. She saw that her explanation wasn't enough and sighed, expanding a bit. “The
She shifted, uncomfortable. Her family and friends thought she was odd for taking comfort in the sight of Orion. She didn't
want him thinking of her that way. “Gemini,” she answered instead of the truth. “It's my sign. I like...
looking for it.” In all actuality, she had trouble finding it, and she hated it compared to Orion. She saw Saiph's eyes
sadden a bit, and she opened her mouth, willing to speak the truth if only it brightened his face. “But... I really
like to look at-” Something moved beyond her peripheral vision, and she focused on it. She could make out the sight
of a man behind Saiph. He raised his arm, and she saw an ax-type weapon glint in the moonlight. She reacted instantly. “Saiph!”
She threw him out of the way, falling to the opposite side myself. The sight of a scythe met her vision next, attached to
a chain. It was that Alphard guy!
“Well, well, well,” the man sneered, “you finally came out of hiding, little girl.”
She bristled. No one called her a little girl and got away with it. She stood and got into a defensive stance, which seemed
to greatly amuse her enemy. She glanced at Saiph, who had stood before her. He looked guarded, as if he were in a very bad
position. Without his armor on, he was. They were in serious trouble.
“Why don't you don your armor?” Alphard scorned. “Or are you afraid of what this lady will say?”
She turned to Saiph. “If there's a way you can get that armor on, do it,” she told him, and his eyes turned to
her. He looked... both worried and... was that hopeful? She played on it. “If you can do that same sort of magic this
guy used to escape, then use it! If you get hurt, I'll never forgive-” She stopped and quietly spoke again. “I
was looking at Orion.”
His eyes sharpened, but Alphard just laughed. “How sweet! She likes your sign, Hunter!”
She turned to Alphard. “What the hell are you talking about, you bastard?!” Ara curled her lips back. “I
think you should leave.” She couldn't think of anything smart to say. Just, if Saiph couldn't call that armor of his,
then she would have to create a distraction so that Saiph could escape. And that didn't make her too happy.
“No, I don't think I should.” Alphard shot forward, and she stumbled back, tripping on a root. Damn roots! She
scooted back on the ground, then shot up and ran off.
“Saiph, get out of here!” she called back, then put all of her energy into sprinting off. She leaped over roots
like they were hurdles and ducked under tree branches. Her eyes strained against the darkness, and she refrained from looking
back to see her enemy's progress. She swerved a bit, but didn't make sudden turns. She had weak ankles due to the same disaster
that had scarred her legs. She couldn't afford to twist them now.
She heard the scythe swing through the air and finally had to dodge suddenly. She felt her ankle twist in the wrong direction
and cried out. She crumpled to the ground, then turned when she heard the crash of metal. Her hands clutched her ankle, and
she tried to force herself to stand. Saiph now wore his armor, and the sword was fending off the attack of the scythe, which
was twisted around his sword. What kind of sword was that?
Didn't matter. She had to get up and either help or get the hell out of the way. She had sworn earlier that she wouldn't be
used as a hostage, and she had meant it. She wouldn't get Saiph in more trouble than he already was. She placed her ankle
on the ground to get up, but when she put weight on it, she cried out again and crumpled once more to the ground.
“Ara?!” Saiph exclaimed, turning to look at her.
“Saiph, look out!” she exclaimed, and Saiph just barely managed to dodge the spear. Unfortunately for her, his
moving had left her wide open. Her eyes caught the glint of the spearhead, and she felt the wind stir around her. That slow-motion
thing started, and she could see Alphard's cocky grin. She reacted as only one in situations such as these could. Brutally.
Her good leg held her steady as she kicked her bad knee upwards, straight into the man's crotch. His armor shielded him from
the blow, but the shock slightly altered the direction of the spear, and it fell into the ground beside her left shoulder.
Without thinking, she grabbed a part of the metal rod and pulled herself up, biting Alphard's wrist.
The man screamed in pain, but she didn't let go. She saw his hand raise and prepared herself for the blow. It never came.
Instead, a grunt sounded, followed by a pained cry. Her grip loosened, then broke as she stared up. “No!” she
Saiph had grabbed the man's free arm, but it had cost him the grip on his sword. His sword now protruded awkwardly from his
chest. His mouth was open, blood slowly dripping, dripping to the ground. His eyes were glazing over.
“Saiph, no, don't you dare die on me!” She rose up, then cried in pain, touching her ankle. “Dammit!”
She ignored it and reared up, getting her hands on Alphard's neck and tackling him to the ground. Alphard's laughter shook
the forest, even as she tried to close off his airway. Her vision blurred with tears. “You bastard!” she raged,
infuriated. “If you've killed him, I'll...!”
She found herself on her back, a scythe above her throat, before she could register the change in position. “You'll
do what, little girl?” he demanded, and again she felt anger bubbling up to the surface. She took it and dished it out
carefully, holding onto the energy to strike at the most opportune moment. “I don't think you can do much of anything.
It's your fault,” he whispered, leaning into her ear. Her body stilled in fear and shock. “You were too weak,
and you couldn't get away. You ended up injuring yourself, and he had to come to your rescue. It's your fault he's dying right
She had sworn she wouldn't get in the way. She had sworn... she'd told him to run, but he didn't, he came to help her... he's
dead... dear Lord God, no... no. He wasn't dead. Not yet. She had to get him back. He needed help. Maybe... maybe... if only
“No!” she cried, struggling. Alphard just pinned her down beneath him, pressing her breasts down, squishing her.
She found herself short of breath, trying to breathe in tiny little gasps. She couldn't move.
But if she couldn't get rid of this man, Saiph would die for sure. She had to try to help him. It was her fault that he was
injured right now. She had to save him. She'd never forgive herself if he died. “Saiph!” She managed to get a
wrist free and pinched Alphard's side. He yelped and jumped, and in the one instant that he loosened up, she put all her effort
into rolling him off. Her ankle shouted in protest, its ripped muscles and tendons trying desperately to stay together. But
the bone was weak now, and she felt it crack. He fell off of her, and she pushed herself onto her hands and knees, then onto
her good foot. Exceptional balance was her only saving grace in gym class, and for once she was proud of that fact. It kept
her upright, even though she was unsteady. She felt a bit more in control.
Her eyes flew to Saiph, who now held his sword in his right hand, his left trying vainly to stop the blood flow. She felt
sick. His eyes were on Alphard as he jumped up, and Saiph took a step forward. “No, Saiph, stay back! Get help!”
She flew toward Alphard, again tackling him unceremoniously to the ground. Her bad leg slid under them, and she felt the bone
snap when they landed. In agony, she screamed, then attempted to blink back the tears of pain. Just like back then, when she'd
gotten her scars, her job wasn't over, and she had to see this to the end. She would not allow Saiph to die right before her
eyes. She wouldn't be able to bear it. She grabbed Alphard's wrist and twisted, satisfied when his weapon fell to the ground.
She grabbed it and threw it away, more interested in getting it away from Alphard than using it as a weapon for herself. With
how weak she was, he'd have it back in no time.
She heard voices from beyond the trees and prayed that they were allies in all this. She wouldn't be able to fend off anyone
else. She could hardly keep this asshole down.
“You bitch; get off of me!” Alphard snapped, and she could only hold on or be thrown into the wind. If it cost
her her life, she would save Saiph. She owed him. For taking her in, for taking her side against Feb. For saving her life.
She owed him.
She could now recognize Nash's voice, calling out for both her and Saiph. “We're over here!” she shouted, then
was thrown on her back. She cried out softly, then groaned as her broken ankle hit the ground, as well. She tried to stand,
but her body was at its limit. It couldn't go on anymore. Just a little bit longer, she urged, then he'll be safe and you
won't have to move ever again. She struggled, getting her elbows beneath her and pushing herself up-
Alphard's boot caught her stomach and her chest, and he shoved her back to the ground. She cried out, falling back, grabbing
his ankle as he pressed down hard onto her chest. The tears fell now, the pain too immense. “Something wrong, you little
slut?” he asked, and he shoved harder. Her back found a root and let it dig in. She wondered if her spine would crack.
Then, as she found she couldn't breathe, she couldn't wonder anything at all.
She tried ineffectually to gulp in air, but there was nothing. She closed her eyes and shivered and cried and knew she was
going to die. Saiph, I'm so sorry, she murmured. Or had she only been thinking it? I... tried...
A blast of cold, painful air broke into her lungs. Black stayed within her vision, and she felt her body trembling. Was she
going to pass out? No big, she found herself thinking. I won't be missed... But wait. Wasn't there something she had to do?
“I won't let you harm her!”
She opened her eyes, trying to make out the gray from the black. Two shimmering shapes. One seemed to be melting. No, that
was blood. Had to be Saiph. That meant that Alphard was... dammit, she couldn't focus. She was too dizzy; the world was spinning
funnily. But she had to do something... right? Yes. She had to help Saiph. She was getting him killed. It's probably too late,
a cynical voice told her.
She sat up a bit, then a bit more, fighting the dizziness. She was too weak. She wouldn't be able to help him.
Another cry of pain from Saiph. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't be. Saiph... Saiph!
Alphard's laughter split the night air. She covered her ears, trying to drown it all out. Saiph was moaning, grunting. He
was dying. He was dying.
Just like back then. She couldn't save him. She'd been too late. Now, now it was Saiph. The man she believed herself to be
in love with. He was dying right in front of her and she couldn't do anything about it!
The laughter rang hollowly in her mind. He was laughing at her. You're too weak. The laughter ran through her. It's
your fault! “It's your fault he's dying right now...”
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