Chapter 3:


Demon Unit Ovihile

Our exit from The Palace was as abrupt as our entrance, and we once again began a trek along the upper highway of Telarana. I felt again as though my feet moved more fluidly than they ever had before, my stride was effortless, like any of the ache that had plagued my movements from my previous several hours of window shopping had simply disappeared. This time however, I decided to mention it.

"So... why do I feel so fleet of foot while on this highway?" I asked.

Lyra's only response was to point to the gray stone beneath our feet, her pace not slowing in the slightest to my query.

"The... the stone?" I stammered.

"That's right... I suppose that with no access to the mainland, you may not have the ability to find mentors who could teach the theory of magic... let alone someone who could teach genuine spells and enchantments."

She wasn't wrong, there had only been a few citizens of the city that I had been born in who even knew that magic existed, and I hadn't heard of anyone who could use spells back home.

"See, there are two different forms of magic, spells and enchantments, I'm not perfectly certain of the minute differences, but in summary, enchantments are applied to people and objects, and spells are more of an object of their own, they have physical bodies, and can interact with solids without being applied to them."

"I'm... not sure I follow..." I laughed.

She giggled in turn, her stride wavering slightly in response to her shaky motions.

"I'm sure Master Drake will teach you all about it once you've gotten settled in, I don't have the affinity for it, but I'm sure you are at least normal when it comes to magic." She said.

"So... I guess that Master Drake knows a lot about magic, then?" I asked.

"Yep! He was the one who taught our stoneweavers to add the Haste enchantment to the stones lining the top of the highway. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they tried it for the first time." Her bubbly laughter returned as soon as it had left, lifting the already happy mood considerably.

Our conversation ended there, the question I had posed to her answered to my satisfaction. With nothing left for me to ask her specifically, we both fell quiet, enjoying the mid-day breeze along the unobstructed highway.

Lyra began humming softly, almost in tune with the beat of her boots on the stone beneath us. It felt odd, my body seemed to feel even lighter as I listened to her low, throaty hum. The notes of her unsung seemed oddly familiar, although for some reason I knew this was the first time I'd ever heard it.

She stopped, it seemed like a rather abrupt pause, even to me, who had never heard the song. Her hand shot out in front of me, pressing against my collar bone and catching me fully off guard, and almost knocking me to the ground.

"Hold on... I hear something..." She said, moving to the edge of the highway and pressing her midsection against the stone barrier. Her eyes scanned the city below, although from the angle we were at I doubt that she could see anything more than the rooftops.

Even still, she seemed even more affirmed in her certainty of there being a problem, even if she couldn't see it, per se. Turning to me, she darted forward and hoisted me into her arms. Startled, I feverishly twisted in her grasp, trying to escape. Wordlessly, she leapt from the barricade, and onto a rooftop directly below us.

Despite the impact on the roof forcing a rather heavy shudder through me, I was otherwise fine. Lyra seemed to be doing even better than I, letting me down and then quickly ushering me to the rooftop's edge. Following her lead, I peered over the edge, not exactly certain of what I was looking for.

I certainly did find it, however.

A gaping hole in the wall of rather large building was the first bit to catch my eye, I could see what looked to be people moving around inside the hole, but nothing further than that.

A large, burly woman was stood in the street, barking at passersby to remain at a distance. From the rather thick leather covering most of her torso, it seemed that she was more than ready to deal with anyone who attempted to interfere with whatever it was that the men in the hole were busy doing.

It wasn't hard to tell that what they were doing was illegal, judging by the snarl curling on Lyra's face. Unwilling to allow it any further, her hand shifted against her dress, searching beneath the belt dividing the top and bottom of the blue cloth. She pulled out a small, silver box, and opened it.

Her hand darted into the air, and had the sun not been in the position it had been, I wouldn't have noticed the small, metal needle soaring above us into the street. Lyra followed it soon after, throwing herself over the building and into the street.

The woman barking orders turned to see who had dared interrupt her, and her face twisted in a mixture of shock and rage at seeing Lyra.

"FUCK! A Justicor?! I thought you boys said that they'd all be occupied today!" She roared with discontent, lashing out and kicking a nearby stone into the open hole, eliciting a sharp yelp as it struck one of the men.

Lyra's gaze seemed more focused on the needle still soaring through the air above them, however, watching as it began to slow its ascent. She looked to the woman, then shrugged.

"You know... I was a bit uncertain when Master Drake let you and your group go. I was worried you might get back up to the horrid things you had been doing before... I guess I'll have to tell him that I was right... after I show him your corpse that is."

Lyra seemed angry, but somehow I was more relieved than concerned, maybe I had some desire to know that she could get angry like the rest of us. Regardless of my reasoning, a could do little other than sit there quietly as the needle whistled its way back down, announcing its presence only moments before arriving.

The only visible indicator of its presence was the sun, which was still gleaming brilliantly along its length. Lyra seemed to know exactly where it was without looking, however, her hand already raised above her head.

With a snap, her fingers closed around the shaft, clutching it confidently between her digits. With another nearly imperceptible motion, she launched the needle towards the woman, where it quickly found purchase between a small gap in the pieces of leather armor.

The feeling of the head piercing her skin enraged the woman, who had been cautious in her approach towards Lyra, only closing in a few of the several meters between them. She began charging forward recklessly, trying to close the sizable distance. Her movements, however, came to an abrupt halt not long after their start.

Her widened eyes were enough for me to realize that she hadn't stopped moving of her own volition. Indeed, not long after she stopped, she dropped to her side, totally incapable of moving.

"Dammit! Can't do anything without your Daddy's help, can you?" The woman snarled, helpless on the ground.

"Of course I can... but why turn away the helping hand of my better? If he gives me tools that make my job easier... I'll use them, this paralytic poison included." She laughed.

"Also, please stay still while I round up your little cronies." She asked, punctuating the ending word with a rather intense smirk.

As Lyra went about apprehending the men, pulling them from the large hole and tossing them against a wall near the building, the woman lifted her head and looked at me.

"You there! You're new right?! Don't be fooled by these tyrants! They just want to take all of the fun from us!" She said.

"Oh, you wanna talk about fun, do ya, BITCH!? Most people's idea of fun is drinking, partying, and dancing, maybe some hallucinogenic drugs here and there, YOUR idea of fun is ASSAULT, VANDALISM, and MURDER. You... you are so lucky that I'M not the Lord Justicor, or you and your ilk would be in The Box!" She shouted with such apparent vitriol that it made me wonder whether or not they had a possible history.

I kept my questions to myself this time, and waited patiently for the guards to arrive and haul off the offenders. Satisfied with the work she had done, she scaled the building back to my side, before lifting me back into her arms and jumping back to the highway.

"So... is this kind of strength common amongst Elves?" I asked.

"Umm... some... I spent some time in The Box myself." She said, laughing, although this time her chuckle seemed to be a bit more nervous.

"What is The Box?" I asked.

"Ah, well... it's a device that serves a number of purposes. At first, it was used to help people recover from stress related mental trauma using certain types of drugs. After studying it, however, Master Drake outfitted it so it could be even more useful to us, mainly through torture and enhancement."

"Torture?" I asked.

"Yep, some of the mixtures of drugs can cause some pretty nasty hallucinations, and they can ruin you if you aren't ready for them, and most aren't. But anyway, I got the enhancement bit of it... spent a month in there, no food, no water, just the drugs... it was actually Hell, worth it though." She said.

We walked a few more steps before she turned back to me again.

"You'll probably have to go through it too... the torture, I mean."

I felt my blood run cold as her words fully connected, the very idea of torture bringing a number of unpleasant images to the forefront of my mind.

"But it'll be okay, because I'm going to spend the next few days with you, getting you ready for it. Ah... we're here." She said abruptly, pointing to a building a few hundred feet down the highway.

It seemed like more of a compound at second glance. With its own walls, separate buildings, and even a courtyard, it had the feel of a town all on its own. Lyra wasted no time in jumping from the highway and into the street outside of the walled complex. I sighed, looking for the staircase.

"Oh well... hopefully Lyra can get me ready in time... probably best not to think about it."