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Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 16

Jaz Johnson


  "Mom," Saphora practically wept. "What do we do?"

  Vida held her expression, not meeting her daughter's pained eyes.

  "What we are doing now."

  Saphora's chest heaved in disbelief and refusal.

  "We can't just sit here! Will we not help them?"

  "I do not have the strength …" Vida solemnly admitted.

  "And me? All that training for me to idly stand?"

  "Mere weeks of what should have been years."

  "Listen to them!" Saphora begged.

  She was growing beside herself, shocking both her and Vida. She would have thought she would be happiest tucked away during the hours of war. But standing in the lavishly decorated surroundings of the throne room while listening to her friends and family fight and be killed was tearing her apart. Even if it were solely to die, she wanted -- she needed to get to the battlefield. She needed to contribute. She cringed as her mother's eyes met hers.

  "Listen to them," she begged. "We have to help them."

  Vida frowned, but said nothing in response. What could she do? She had no doubt that either of them would be the target of many once leaving the safety of the castle. And while she'd be able to defend against a handful, she could not against the masses of Ares' army. And for that reason, she had chosen to stay hidden. For if her people were to see her fall, all hope would be lost to Ares.

  And as for Saphora … if Vida were to see her fall, all her hope would be lost. Keeping her in the throne room with her was selfish attempt to keep her alive. After moments of silence, Saphora turned from her. Vida winced, calling out to her forgiveness.

  "Saphora?"

  Saphora began her quickstep to the throne room's large double doors. Vida's eyes narrowed as she went.

  "Saphora, stop this."

  "I can't just stand here. I have to do something -- anything," she insisted, reaching the doors.

  But when she pulled on them, they did not move. They were not locked mechanically, but rather magically. Saphora paused, staring at the doors in question before roughly tugging on them again.

  "Saphora," Vida warned, having been the one to enchant them.

  "Open them," Saphora demanded, continuously pulling on them with growing determination. "Open them!"

  "I need you to understand what is happening here," Vida beckoned, beginning to stand. "Come here."

  "Open them!" Saphora continued to demand.

  She groaned after failing to pry them open and pushed back from them. Her eyes were dark and tearing as she stared at the thing stopping her from helping her friends. The echoes of the screaming people and clashing fire rang in her ears -- drowning out her mother as her chest heaved. She wouldn't stand by for more death. Slowly, her hands rose and aimed towards the doors. Vida's eyes widened as she watched in realization.

  "Saphora!"

  With a thrust of her hands to her sides, the doors cracked open. Vida winced, stumbling back into her throne as the enchantment was violently broken. The left door smacked against the inner all of the room, while the other was torn in half, the pieces sliding along the floor -- splinters flying.

  Vida's arm rose to protect her face. When it lowered, she was burdened with the sight of Saphora running down the empty hall. Her hand reached out to her, her face pained as she pushed off the throne and haphazardly rushed down its steps.

  "No!" Vida winced, rushing forward. But a voice all too familiar stopped her from going any further.

  "Let the girl go, Vida," Ares encouraged with a taunting voice as she came to stand in another -- less noticeable -- doorway in the side of the room. Vida stood still as Ares walked further into the side of the room. Head high, smirk present. "Don't you want her to meet the rest of her relatives?" Slowly, Vida turned to face her sister. Eyes both grave and wary. Ares smiled, almost giggling. "Or must we all be secrets?"

  ********

  Turning hall after hall, Saphora finally reached a stretch of hallway with multiple bare windows. She skid to a stop in front of one of them, giving a quick glance behind her for her mother or any guards before turning towards the window. Her intention was to jump and fly down to the battlefield. But upon seeing it, Saphora was stopped in her tracks.

  She stood frozen, the breeze of war blowing her hair to her left. And there it was -- the image everyone had been telling her about for some time finally in front of her. Everyone was fighting. She saw every man, woman and guardian fighting without so much as a momentary hesitation. Hydra and Enya, Dakota and Hades, Avani and Ardea. Saphora heard her heart in her ears as it thudded against her chest. Her breathing, in comparison, was short and strained, though panting.

  Her ruby eyes darted about the scene, her hands constantly gripping and releasing the stone windows, her body hesitating to carry out its initial plans. When suddenly there was a tremor in the castle's walls, making Saphora flinch and adjust her attention.

  ********

  "I've kept a secret for quite some time now," Ares said, venom in her tone as she snaked closer to Vida, who stood still. A smile slithered across Ares' lips. "You're not the only one with a secret weapon anymore."

  Vida's brows furrowed at the information, momentarily confused before her eyes went wide in dismay and sheer horror.

  "Ares," she breathed, shaking her head. "You didn't."

  "Oh, but I did."

  ********

  Saphora took several steps back as she peered into a mirror image of her ruby eyes. She felt strange -- her body tense -- as her eyes stared at her from a girl far younger than she. And somehow she knew who she was looking at -- what was stepping off the enlarged black widow. And it terrified her.

  And Nessa knew what she was looking at -- who was standing but a few yards away. And as she planted her feet down on the floor, facing her, she knew that the moment her mother had been sculpting her her entire life for was finally here.

  Hydra vs Enya

  Landing in a pillow of flaming dust, Enya touched down on two legs, smirking at the sound of the innocent creatures that went scurrying away. She spread her finger tips, her hair igniting and sending flames traveling down her arms into her hands to fling fire forward onto the ground, aimed at the creature’s feet. She’d dropped Hades off for his battle with Dakota, and had gone off to do her own thing. Not knowing that that thing would involve Hydra.

  The sound of a landing mass evoked Enya to turn around, her brow raising in curiosity as Hydra landed a short distance away, shrinking back down to a woman, a wave crawling from her feet to sooth the fires that had spread around them. The smirk Enya held flashed into a smile as she turned complete to face her opponent.

  “I was hoping you’d be here.”

  “Likewise,” replied Hydra, stepping forward.

  Enya raised her arms, almost giving a shrug as she matched Hydra’s steps, gradually closing the distance between them until they stood a mere yard away from one another. The tension between them could be cut with a knife. Hydra wanting noting more than to exact vengeance for Artemis, and Enya wanting Hydra to give her her all, and shoot it down and prove her power. Enya, still ignited, let her head give way to a tilt.

  “Care for the first blow?” Enya offered with her hand out-stretched.

  Hydra didn’t bother to answer as she dug her foot into the ground, pivoting her wrists and launching a round of ice spears in Enya’s direction, each one larger than the last. Enya giggled as she danced around them, her flames licking each one that past, until finally setting a blaze the last, confident that it would reach an un-harmable size when it got to her, which it barely did.

  “Another game of fire and –“

  Enya was cut off by Hydra’s sudden appearance before her, the barrage of spears a diversion for her to close the remainder of the distance. She jerked back in time to miss a spiked knuckled blow to the face, but not in time to miss the second blow to her shoulder. She winced, quick-stepping back and swinging a flaming punch towards Hydra’s jaw.

  Hydra ducked,
swooping under her fist and jamming her own under Enya’s chin, knocking her off her feet and onto the ground. Hydra stopped, allowing her to collect herself on the ground. Enya, looking up at Hydra in a momentary frantic crawl backwards, scoffed, wiping the corner of her mouth and rising back to her feet. She gave a nod, straightening her posture and rolling her shoulders. Again she scoffed, snickering to herself as she re-ignited her limbs, her eyes brightening significantly as she prepared herself for a more serious combat – the joking manner she had approached the challenge with long since vanishing.

  “Right then,” she grumbled.

  Hydra raised her hands, beckoning Enya with narrowed eyes as water streamed around her fingers.

  They were upon each other. Fire and water skittering with every move they made to strike one another. Some hits landed, some didn’t. And with each missing attack, their next one grew more intense, the both of them wanting nothing more than to seriously injure the other – for whatever motivation.

  Enya was almost waiting for some sort of declaration from Hydra, some comment of claiming her life. That she would kill her. That she would have revenge for her fallen comrade. But she was silent in her attacks. Almost painfully so. It sent Enya’s playful manner to the back burner- and made her nerves stand on edge at the tone the battle was taking.

  And somehow, it made her rightfully aware of the situation she was in. It wasn’t until that moment that she realized her life was truly in her own hands. For the first time, as she narrowly dodged hit after hit, getting closer to closer to an impact, she began to doubt herself. And in feeling that brief moment of doubt, she let out an overgrown burst of fire to allow herself to back away from the guardian and compose herself.

  Hydra turned her head to shield herself, but remained standing where she was. She was only panting slightly, while Enya’s chest heaved rather noticeably with the growing adrenaline. She smirked, only to meet the indifferent expression of Hydra, who remained incredibly focused. She was not at all how she was the day in the forest – blinded by rage. Instead, she had taken that rage, and used it to hone her vision into precise strength.

  “You fight like you mean to do some damage,” Enya mocked, straightening her posture.

  Still, Hydra remained silent. Enya scoffed, frowning at the silence as her flames traveled to her legs. Her pupils dilated as her entire body began to ignite, her arms expanding and taking the shape of wings.

  “To the skies then,” Enya growled, bending her knees before taking off into a leaping flight, her figure following the transformation of her arms until she was airborne, feathers of flames fluttering about her.

  Hydra looked up at the phoenix, almost seeming hesitant in her choice to join her in the air. But she was not left the make the decision on her own as Enya exhaled a breath of fire upon her. From the cloud of flames, rose the figure of a water drakon, charging up into the sky after her, jaws open, claws barred as her wing swatted away a section of the flames for her entrance through them.

  Vida vs Ares

  "You could just surrender, Vida," Ares taunted, closing in on her sister, who was continuously retreating from her attacks. "Spare yourself and the kingdom," she offered.

  Vida deflected another bolt, stepping up onto half of the broken door in the process, her gown trailing in front of her. She glared, her wrist flicking with a sudden counter attack, surprising Ares with its strength. She stopped walking to block the shot that was aimed at her chest. She smiled as Vida abruptly decided to stand her ground.

  "And have you do what with them?" Vida asked, sending another bolt. Ares deflected, moving her foot back. "Lead them into meaningless wars?" She sent another. Ares took a step back.

  "Oh, I assure you. This war is not meaningless."

  "If you fight for a throne instead of the people bound to it, then you are not worthy of it," Vida spat in disappointment.

  "If you will not fight for your throne, then allow me to take it from you," Ares countered.

  "You'll have to kill me."

  Ares gave a harsh laugh.

  "So bet it."

  Vida grimaced, her hands coming together in somewhat of a pattern. White ribbons o ran energy began to flow around her hands, drawing Ares' attention and encouraging her to do the same.

  "So be it," Vida solemnly agreed as the figure of a wolf began to form out of the white energy. The wolf stalked around Vida as its body formed, its eyes black as it howls protectively. Ares scoffed as her hands cased themselves in black energy. She shook her head as the wolf stood its ground slightly in front of Vida.

  "How quaint," Ares mocked.

  "Fight with me now, Dolphus. For our kingdom -- our people -- our child."

  The wolf barked in response, flashing its fangs as Ares' energy configured into the body of a bear. Vida scowled at the painfully familiar figure of their mother's guardian. Ares snickered at her sister's expression.

  "Since we're being sentimental," Ares shrugged.

  Vida gave an aggravated scream as the wolf took off towards the bear. And as they collided, Vida went for Ares, taking the initiative in the attack. Again Ares laughed, happily engaging her sister in combat. Their hands glowed with hot energy as they proceeded with hand-to-hand. And even in her weakened state, Vida was able to keep up with Ares' attacks, almost landing some herself.

  The black bear roared in pain as the wolf's jaws clamped down on its neck. It held on tight, only releasing when it was through against the floor. The bear stomped down on the wolf's side, causing a howl of pain in response. It growled, reaching up to claw at the bear's face as a counter.

  "You're a fool if you think you're going to win this, Vida. You were lucky before. For if I cannot win the war, she will," Ares threatened, almost bragging.

  "You're wrong, Ares. She will fail," Vida argued, trying to warn her. "And her blood will be on your hands."

  "She will destroy anything that gets in her way!"

  "She will destroy herself!”

  Guess what?

  You’re in for a treat.

  Another sneak peak! This time of an upcoming romance, Chambermaid.

  Enjoy!

  “What do you mean you met Hunter?” Annie asked in a low voice the next day.

  She had decided to pair up with Penelope to get the gossip. They were making their way across the second floor. Penelope shook head, preferring not to remember the encounter at all. She picked up a nearby vase and began wiping it down. Annie stood across from her, leaning against the wall.

  “Come on, speak up,” she insisted, crossing her arms. Penelope looked up at Annie with a reluctant face, a slight shake of her head as she turned the large case around in her arms.

  “Oh come on. What’d he do, ask you to sleep with him?” Penelope’s eyes widened as she set the vase down.

  “What?” she said, disturbed by the assumption. Annie shrugged.

  “He did, didn’t he? It’s not a big deal. He’s slept with tons of the maids. You should feel-“

  “He did not ask me to sleep with him!” Penelope clarified, walking past Annie to the next end table to wipe down the lamp. She scoffed as Annie joined her.

  “And even if he did, I wouldn’t allow it,” Penelope insisted, giving a huff. Annie scoffed, putting her hands on her hips and standing to the side of Penelope.

  “Come on. You wouldn’t sleep with him? What, did he have a bag over his head when you met him?”

  A faint blush rushed to Penelope’s cheeks as she averted her eyes. Her lips pursed as her arms fidgeted about.

  “I was hardly focused on looking at his face, Annie.”

  “Was he naked?”

  Penelope’s blush spread as she looked at her loosely titled acquaintance with appall.

  “Annie,” she practically hissed. Annie rolled her bulging eyes and shrugged, dipping her head forward.

  “Well come on! I didn’t tag along with you to actually clean. Out with it!” Annie shrilled just under her breath, stomping her heeled foot.


  Penelope sighed, shaking her head in disapproval of the gossip that she knew was about to happen. But at the possibility of losing the only woman who had spoken to her, she surrendered.

  “He startled me.”

  “How?” Annie followed up immediately. Penelope gave a look of grief as she slowly walked past her to the next vase on the next end table.

  “Well if you would let me speak.”

  “You’re speaking entirely too slow, Pen.”

  “Pen?”

  “A nickname. Do people call you Penelope every time?” Penelope paused, considering the question, before nodding with strained eyebrows.

  “Well … Yes.” Annie’s brows shot up as her lip curled back, revealing her gritted teeth.

  “Yikes. Anyway, don’t change the subject.”

  “I wasn’t.”

  “Speak!”

  “I went into a room I wasn’t supposed to, apparently, and he caught me. Yelled at me.”

  “What room did you go in?”

  “It was labeled Hank Jerald.” Annie gave a small gasp, catching Penelope’s attention. Her eyes searched her face in question, somehow alarmed by the slight intake of air. “What?”

  “The brother,” Annie breathed.

  “Brother?”

  “Hunter’s older brother, Hank.” Penelope was silent, not really seeing why that would justify his behavior towards him. “Hunter looks up to him, though he’d never let Hank know that. He takes care of that room himself. What were you doing in there?” Penelope gave an innocent shrug.

  “I was going to clean it.”

  “Did you touch anything?” Penelope was silent. Annie grinned. “You did. What did you touch?” Penelope looked up from her head tilted position, her eyes slightly resentful at the amount of fun Annie was having with interrogating her. She turned away, leaving the vase and moving on.

  “I’m not talking about this anymore. You’re going to stand there and tell me how much trouble I’m in for doing my job. Well I won’t-“