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|As pieces of her past are revealed, Liz Etah struggles with the painful memories. But she knows that to escape, she has to explore everything, every memory...no matter the cost.||
Liz Etah slowly opened her eyes to look around. She gasped and closed them again. Images, colours, shapes all twisted madly across her vision. What's wrong with me? she wondered, fear entering her thoughts. Immediately following was the obvious question, Where am I? She tried to speak, but found her throat was so dry, no real sound emerged. Seconds later, someone put a strong arm around her, lifted her slightly, and held a glass of cool, sweet water to her parched lips. She drank greedily, feeling sated only when she felt the liquid on her stomach. There was a strange metallic taste to the drink, but she let it go for now.
She suddenly heard the unfamiliar whir of machinery being operated, and the bed she was laying on began to move from horizontal to vertical, very slowly. When she was at perhaps a thirty degree angle, the sound stopped and the bed was still. "Now, open your eyes, slowly," that voice commanded.
Liz obeyed, and found that her eyes adjusted easier this time. Maybe it was something in the water? Blinking, she gazed around at what could only be a laboratory. There were long metal tables holding various devices of experimentation--scalpels, microscopes, magnifying glasses, test tubes and beakers, burners, specimen jars and cages, and notebooks full of handwritten pages. She shivered. This wasn't just any laboratory. This was a mage's laboratory. And by the looks of various specimens, he was a dark mage.
Her eyes found the owner of that unfamiliar, yet strangely familiar voice. He stood off to the side, watching her, his face shadowed by the hood of the onyx robes he wore. He was tall, easily six foot four, and there was an air of death, of danger about him. She could almost smell his love of pain, torment, and death. A shiver ran through her as he stepped closer, a slender, pale hand reaching out to brush a few stray locks of hair from her face. It was only then that she realized she was strapped down. Instinctively, she began to struggle.
"Be still," her captor said. She had no intention of obeying him, but her body instantly relaxed. What kind of sorcery was this? What hold did this dark mage have over her, that she was forced to heed his every command? "You are a feisty one. Liz Etah, you will make a lovely addition to my...collection." That silky, dark voice laughed. "I am Luden. You will call me Master," he stated calmly, looking at her intently. She could finally see that his eyes were like two embers, burning hot and bright in his thin pale face.
After a few moments' silence, during which Liz's mind fought to accept that she was alive, her captor threw off his hood. Icy blue hair fell in loose waves to his collar, and even the strands seemed to hold the sparks that were in his eyes. It was that hair that tripped her memory. This was the mage that Dante had told her about, what seemed a lifetime ago. He'd been going to try to enlist Luden's aid, should a war break out, as seemed inevitable. That had been a week before she was murdered.
"My brother," she whispered. "Dante. He came to see you. Where is he?" Liz was unaware that nearly twelve years had passed since then. By the laughter in Luden's eyes, she guessed that the news couldn't be good. Clenching her teeth, she stared at the mage, bracing herself for the bad news.
"Dante. He died in battle, my dear," Luden sneered. Oh, how he enjoyed the shock of pain that spread over the girls face, the sudden tears that slipped from her dark eyes. "He was a fool to think he could win me to fight by his side. I sent him home with a letter written in his blood, to his commander," he laughed. "I would have sent back just his head, but then I wouldn't have found out about you."
"Yes, my Master is cold, and cruel," she wrote, sighing softly as she surfaced from the long buried memory. "He tormented Dante, trying to learn about me. But my brother told him nothing after the brief mention that caught Master's attention. So he had Dante followed, and spied on him. He heard the two of you discussing me. Before long, he knew all he needed to know to find my grave, and bring me back.
"But he hadn't perfected his technique yet, so he waited. Finally, he had his methods perfect, and he had a job for me. That job...is you."
Liz set down the pen, her dark eyes glazed with tears. She wouldn't delve into that memory yet...Tomorrow she promised herself as she closed the book and laid it on a table. Tomorrow, I will open that wound.
Damian was sure she knew of him, and well. It had been in her eyes when he'd told her his name. He sighed, turning in his bed to face the window. Tomorrow, same time, same place. He would read what she had written, if anything, and they would discuss it. Then, he would send her off to write another chapter. Spirits, he hoped she would write this all out for him.
I've found her, Dante. I'll save her for you, he thought to himself just before the dark arms of sleep embraced him.