Chapter 13

1da2d54cc65ecc7b9996cc773de840fbChapter 13: No Holding Back

I was silently contemplating the meaning of my last vision as we entered a small city. I wasn’t familiar with the place but Norio seemed to know the place like the back of his hand. The houses and businesses were built with red bricks and big pieces of lumber. On both sides of the red brick road stood seven foot street lamps. Since it was the middle of the day, they weren’t lit up. There were so many shops and restaurants in every direction; it seemed this city was very tourist friendly.

We stopped in front of one of the business on the left side of the street. The sign read, “Pin Wheel Bistro”.

Ligeia- We made it in one piece, there’s hope for us yet.

Ligeia said walking up from behind us. Norio helped Nyah and I off of the horse. We really hadn’t seen her since we left the woods; she really did hide in the shadows.

Norio- I need to pick up something. Will you all be alright for about five minutes?

Nyah- We’ll be fine, go on.

He gave us a nod before entering the little bistro. Ligeia turned towards us smiling curiously.

Ligeia- Before I begin training you two, I’m curious about what skills you already know.

Nyah and I looked at each other a little bewildered.

Malaika- We’ve never been in a fight before. To be honest, we haven’t mastered any skills yet. Magical or otherwise.

Ligeia puffed her cheeks in an exaggerated sigh.

Ligeia- It looks like we’ll be starting with the basics…

Nyah- Which would be?

Ligeia- Elemental magic. It’s the easiest to learn. Also…

Nyah and I watched her look us over briefly while she tapped her left foot on the ground.

Ligeia- You two are going to need a change of clothes.

I looked down at my now tattered looking dress and I felt a little self conscious. Ligeia suddenly patted me on the shoulder.

Ligeia- Hey don’t worry! We’ll get you two taken care of.

Norio finally came out of the bistro and I felt a sense of relief. The conversation was getting a bit uncomfortable. He walked up to us and held up what looked like a skeleton key. Ligeia’s smile had turned into a curious grin; she seemed to know what the key was for.

Ligeia- Off to our old stomping grounds then?

Norio- As long as it’s still standing. Ladies, we’re going to an old warehouse on the west side. It won’t take long to get there.

Nyah- Lead the way.

Norio gave Nyah a nod before we continued on down the street.

The warehouse looked about how I expected it to. Dank, grey brick walls, steel beams that came from the ceilings down to the cement floors. The tin roofing had rusted and rotted away, but the metal light fixtures that were installed onto the roof beams still had life in them. This place was a little unexpected to say the least, but such was my life.

Ligeia- We have lots of things to teach you two, it’s best we start right away. I’m sure you need to have a rest from your travels first so we can get started three hours from now. How does that sound?

My sister and I simply nodded.

Nyah and I had gone off to the opposite end of the warehouse Norio and Ligeia were. We were standing against the wall in silence for so long until Nyah touched my left forearm.

Nyah- I’ve seen Norio before sis, and he wasn’t among good company…

My eyebrows scrunched in concern as I rewound what she’d said in my mind.

Malaika- W-When? Where exactly?

Nyah- I was Prince Fa at the royal court. A group of Phaloans had come to meet with King Fa. Among them, I remember very clearly seeing Norio’s face. His group had been ordered to burn down a nearby village rumored to have an epidemic spreading. All of the sickly were to be transported to the royal hospital for treatment…

Nyah paused for a moment and I watched her expression suddenly turn solemn.

Malaika- Go on, please.

Nyah- Some of their people decided that it was best to just, burn everything and everyone as a preventative measure…So they did.

My mouth slowly gaped open in shock. My mind was trying to make sense of such inhuman savagery.

Malaika- Do you know if Norio was one of the people that started the fires?

Nyah- The fact that you have to wonder if he’d do such a thing, worries me Malaika.

She looked ahead of us towards the other side of the warehouse. Norio and Ligeia appeared to be sparring.

Nyah- I think your question is best reserved for the man in question little sis…

I nodded in a greement before we rejoined Norio and Ligeia. When we were about five feet away from them, I realized that they were actually play-fighting. The fighting stopped when the two of them realized Nyah and I were watching. Norio was smiling and slightly out of breath. I felt an unfamiliar twinge in my chest as I saw the smile on his face that Ligeia had put there. I looked away from him and directed my attention towards Ligeia.

Malaika- I’m ready for your magic lessons. The sooner we start the better.

Ligeia raised an eyebrow in surprise.

Ligeia- Well, I’m impressed. I was sure you two would be too tired for anything but a hot meal.

Nyah- We’re not so delicate that a little magic training would tire us out.

Ligeia- Hmph, we’ll see soon enough…

There was a sly smirk on Ligeia’s face as she said those words. It was a little unsettling if I’m being honest.

Norio- I’m curious…Who wants to go first?

Without hesitation, I stepped forward.

Nyah- Are you sure baby girl?

I nodded and began to smile. My eyes never left Ligeia’s.

Malaika- I’m sure sis.

Ligeia- So she is! Alright then, we all need to clear our minds. If you can’t focus and isolate your thoughts down to a single series of ideas, you’ll never weild magic properly. I’ll take both of you through the basic elemental magics. Fire, Water, Air, and Lightning.  These are not only useful for combat, but they could be the difference between like and death in certain situations.

Ligeia stopped her explanation to take a piece of paper from her bossom. It was neatly folded as she placed it on the ground a few feet in front of herself.

Ligeia- Let’s start with Fire then shall we? Picture something really hot in your mind. The brighter it burns the better. When you have your image, I want you to attach the rawest form of anger you’ve ever experienced in your life to this image.

It sounded easy enough. She looked down at the folded piece of paper before snapping two of her fingers together. Within seconds the paper was nothing more than black ash floating away in the warehouse. The smell of burned paper filled my nose as smoke rose up around us in thin wisps.

Ligeia- Do you little ladies think you could ignite something like…A human? For example?

I looked back at Nyah to see her reaction and she looked caught off guard by Ligeia’s question, just as I was.

Ligeia- What I’m trying to get at is this…One day, you might have to protect yourselbes and each other. Are you prepared to do that?

Nyah stepped up beside me and we exchanged looks briefly before we gave Ligeia a firm nod. She suddenly smiled at me.

Ligeia- Very good. I want the two of you to stand ten feet apart, you’ll need the space.

We did as she asked, but faced each other instead of her.

Ligeia- (sighs) Visualization, emotion branding, and focus. These three factors are like training wheels for weilding magic, especially elemental magic. First lesson…

Ligeia looked over at Nyah with an eerily neutral expression before I heard my sister screaming in agony. I could see flames in Ligeia’s eyes this time as she set flames to my sisters body.

Malaika- NO! NYAH!!!

Norio- What the hell are you doing!?

Norio screamed at Ligeia. I looked over at Norio to see his right hand rising up above his head towards Nyah. Ligeia grabbed his right hand, stopping him from helping her. She quickly redirected her attention back to me.

Ligeia- Stop whining and save your sister! You know how to put out a fire don’t you!?

My eyes were filled with tears and I couldn’t think past Nyah’s blood curling screams. I could hear Norio arguing with Ligeia not far from me.

Ligeia- This is the fastest way for her to learn! She can do it, TRUST ME!

I closed my eyes and thought of water. Cold, refreshing, cleansing, water. I needed an emotion stronger than the fear and anxietyI was feeling in that moment. I had to attach a strong emotion to the image. I pictured a cool, rushing river. I then fought my heart to only focus on feeling calm and relieved. I outstretched my hands towards Nyah and to my amazement, I heard a sudden whooshing of water. Following that I heard the heavy thud of what I assumed was Nyah’s body collapsing to the floor. My eyes sprung open to see Nyah lying on the now soaking wet cement floor.

Malaika- Oh my God!!!

I screamed as I ran over to her. I knelt down besider her, my dress quickly becoming soaked. I wasn’t sure whether or not I should touch her or not, I didn’t want to make her pain any worse than it might’ve been. Norio came running over to us and knelt down beside me.

Norio- Is she alive!?

He sounded just as worried as I felt. I looked at the charred skin on her arms and face to see it rapidly healing. The damaged skin slid off of her body like dead leaves in the fall, sliding down a wet rooftop. I finally let out a sigh of relief.

Malaika- She’ll be just fine…

Norio- But how?

I wouldn’t tell him, but Nyah’s healing abilities preserved her life to a certain extent. Thankfully she showed signs of a full recovery. Nyah’s abilities had their limits just like mine. Now that I knew she would survive, there was someone else I wanted to give my full attention to. I stood up slowly before I made my way back to Ligeia. No one has ever dared to harm my family in front of me before.

Without much thought of the consequences I’d face for fighting Ligeia, I started thinking of what element I could kill her with.

Ligeia- I knew you could do it, Malaika.

My need for revenge was frozen at the sound of my name. I frowned at her as I tried to think of how she knew who we were.

Ligeia- Yeah princess, I know about you and your sister Nyah.

Norio- I never said their names or told you who they were. Who are you working for Ligeia?

Norio asked her in a very dark tone. He came to stand by my side with Nyah in his arms bridal style.

Ligeia- I work for myself. Don’t worry, no one else knows about yout little “heroic mission” but me.

She said to him with a wink.

Ligeia- There were rumors going around my camp that you’ve been travelling with the lost princesses from Gahdehsein. It didn’t take much of the puzzle pieces to figure out the whole picture once I saw them with you.

Norio suddenly gave her a very disgusted look.

Norio- Yeah, you’re really clever. Except for the fact that you forgot to explain how you knew that Nyah would be the one to heal from your fire attack.

Ligeia- It’s common knowledge that Zola still resides in Igole. If you visited the camps more often Norio, you’d also know it’s common knowledge that I specialize in magic that heightens the senses. I could hear the princesses whispering among themselves, calling each other by name from across the warehouse.

I was completely speechless. I looked over at Norio who met my eyes, just as speechless.