Visions III: Revealed - Part Five
Jix felt the tears run dry and he stood, gazing down at his mother. She seemed so sad, so alone, but she was still alive.
What if Dad found out I almost killed her? he wondered, crossing to the other side of the room. His head was spinning and he didn't quite understand all that had happened. One moment, he had been aiming at the Zafara, and the next he had shot the fireball right into his mother's stomach. Then she collapsed and he was barely able to save her. He didn't want to ever use his power again, not if it meant he would hurt those he had looked up to.
"Yes, you do," a papery voice whispered.
He spun around, gathering fire in his hands. "Who's there?" he demanded, adjusting his eyes with magic so that he could see beyond the light's reach. There was no one else in the room, though.
The voice laughed. "You won't find me like that. I'm in your head. Now, let me come out."
Jix put out the fire in his hand and nodded. "Alright. You better not try anything, though." He closed his eyes and slowly let out what had been inside his mind until, finally, a wispy form of a speckled Xweetok stood before him.
"Xandra," he whispered, stepping back from her. "How long have you been inside me?"
She smiled. "Since that night in the Haunted Woods. I saw you and thought you might interfere with my plans, so I put a little spell on you while you weren't looking."
Now that his head was clear, he realized how wrongly he had been thinking when it all started. She was messing with my mind from the start to get her revenge, he realized, glaring at the Xweetok.
Xandra laughed again. "Yes, that was me. However, I grow tired of your failure and this new regret you have. I'm taking over your body for now."
Jix shot the fireball at her, but it just flew through her ghostly form. "Leave me alone. You've destroyed my life enough as it is."
"I won't leave you alone, at least not until my revenge is complete," Xandra replied, and swept towards him.
He fell against the floor and felt his control over his own body slowly slipping as Xandra crushed his willpower. His limbs thrashed wildly about, knocking over anything in their paths. Finally, there was stillness and Jix's body stood. He turned to her, his eyes glowing a dark purple.
"Now, kill my enemies, my pet," Xandra whispered.
"Yes, Mistress," Jix replied, and left the shop to fulfill his mistress's wishes.
When Karan returned, he found Nil, Hara, and King Jazan were inside the building. He sighed and sat down on a wooden chair, noting the food on a spare piece of cloth. He picked up a fruit and took a bite.
"Where'd you go off to?" Nil asked, glancing up at him from her ummagine. He noted she only seemed to be eating the ummagines, even though there were plenty of other choices.
"I was making sure you weren't arrested," Karan replied. "Oh, King, I met your wife. She's worried about you."
King Jazan nodded. "Makes sense. It's not like her to worry, but with Nil on the loose--"
"Jix is on the loose," Nil corrected. "He's the one who started this whole mess, as I recall. I just happened to get involved."
"Right," Jazan replied. "With Jix on the loose, she's probably concerned for me."
Hara nodded. "Yeah. Still, I don't think he'll be a problem for much longer. I think he might have a change of heart."
Everyone looked at her and she shrugged. "It's just a suggestion." She turned to Jazan. "Besides, I should probably check if the spell's gone yet."
"I don't think I can stand yet," Jazan replied.
A loud, thunderous noise came from outside and Nil stood, fiercely whispering, "Everyone quiet."
She crossed over to the door and peered through a crack in the wood with her good eye, trusting Karan to warn her if anyone attacked from behind.
Through the split in the wood, she saw guards marching through the city in sync, casting shadows on the doorway as they passed by. There was a figure standing off to the side, scanning the houses with dark purple eyes that glowed in the night.
What happened to Jix? she wondered as she recognized the Wocky. She switched to her blind eye and she could practically feel Karan's nervousness as he realized what she was looking for.
"That eye's blind," Hara whispered. "It won't do any go—"
"Shh," Karan interrupted. "Stay quiet."
Nil closed her good eye so that she could see properly. Her blind eye immediately showed her the dark force inside of Jix. It was the same one she had seen in Shenkuu, except it seemed stronger now--more dangerous. There also seemed to be a shape to this power. She tried to focus on it with limited success. It was a female Xweetok of some sort, but she couldn't name who it was.
Wait, could it be? she wondered, and studied the Xweetok's blurred form a bit closer. She had seen the statue of Xandra before, frozen in a roar of hatred to whoever had stopped her. If this was truly the mad Xweetok, it would only take a moment for her to recognize the face.
Come on, turn towards me, she thought, urging Jix to look at her. Without seeing the full face, she couldn't determine if it was or wasn't Xandra.
"Can we talk now?" Hara asked.
"Be quiet!" Nil insisted, her voice rising slightly. Was that too loud? she wondered, looking through the crack with her good eye.
Jix had turned towards the door and it seemed like he was staring directly at her now.
"We've got to move," Nil said, and immediately grabbed up her bag from the floor. "Karan, get Jazan's arms. Hara, you get his legs."
"Wait, what's going on?" Jazan asked, sitting up half-way.
Hara tied off the bandage she had been working on and gathered her things.
"What are you going to do?" Karan asked, going over to Jazan and grabbing him at the arms.
Nil pulled up her cloak's hood and arranged her ears so that they stuck out from the holes in the hood. She took out a length of rope and wrapped it around her hand several times. "I'm going to distract the guards and Jix so you can get away."
"No! You can't!" Karan insisted, dropping Jazan hard against the ground. The Kyrii muttered something and rubbed his head.
"We don't have any time, and you can't go far with Jazan," Nil explained. "I have to distract them. Head out the back door. Try to get Jazan back to the palace." She braced herself against the door as the guards began pounding on it, demanding that they open it.
Karan picked up Jazan again and Hara grabbed Jazan's legs.
"Try not to get yourself killed," Karan offered, and the three left into the alleyway.
Great advice, she thought as the door moved beneath her. She stumbled slightly before pressing herself hard against it. If she waited any longer, the guards were sure to break through and she wouldn't be able to run away with the door and a heavy guard on top of her.
She listened carefully and waited until the running guard that was going to break down the door was just next to the door. She quickly stepped to the side and swung the door wide. The guard plowed right through and she ran out the open doorway while he was still confused. Before her, Jix stood at the front of a row of guards, each dressed in Qasalan clothing and carrying weapons at their sides or on their backs. She glared at Jix for a moment, then took off to the right, aware of the presence of a brick building.
Are there any climbers? she wondered as she began scaling the wall a bit at a time. There were no flying guards, though there were a few Myncies. She reached the roof and began taking off, jumping the gap to the nearest building.
Behind her, the Myncies were easily pursuing her. She felt the cut on her ankle begin to open and she hoped that she would be able to lose them before it completely opened and she was limping.
Nil sailed across another gap and landed on the roof of another building, barely managing to stay on her feet this time. Behind her, the Myncies gracefully landed and she clenched her teeth, hoping they wouldn't overtake her too quickly.
How far have the others gone by now? she wondered, trying not to focus on the throbbing in her ankle. She knew it wouldn't be long before she couldn't run anymore. Already, her legs were burning and she was panting heavily. The sun may have been down, but the heat was still getting to her in her thick cloak and she wasn't sure what would make her be captured--falling from her injury or passing out from heatstroke combined with exercise.
Eventually, she ran into a set of guards that had managed to get in front of her and block off her path. There was no escape now, and she was frozen on the top of a building with no way down that wouldn't lead to capture, except one.
The weight of the Qasalan King was beginning to bear down on Karan, but he tried not to think of that. Hara was stumbling behind him, and the King himself was silent, grimacing every once and awhile when they accidentally jerked his body. It was hard not to at the pace they were going, but even at the brisk jog they were taking, it would be easy for the guards to catch them. If they did catch the trio, Karan could only imagine what might happen, most involving being sentenced to death in some painful way.
"Take the second alley up ahead," King Jazan instructed. "It'll lead to a small shack that has a locked door. There's a stairway that leads to the palace from there."
"Alright," he replied, trusting the Kyrii to lead them to safety. King Jazan wanted justice done on Jix as much as any of them. There was no reason for him to lead them into a trap.
They turned the corner and ran straight for the small shack that stood apart from the other buildings. Karan and Hara lowered King Jazan next to the locked door, leaning his back against it.
He quickly instructed Hara on how to open the lock and she seemed to understand. She rested a paw on the lock and closed her eyes.
"Unvilai tumwat veifa," she chanted, and the lock clicked open. The doorway swung wide and made Jazan to fall onto his back as his support disappeared.
"Sorry," Karan apologized and stepped around the King before picking him up by the arms. Hara picked up his legs once more and they started down the stairway, the door automatically locking shut behind them.
Let's hope Nil's having as much luck as we are, he thought, and they took off through the tunnel, torches lighting themselves as they ran along and extinguishing as they left. I can't imagine what they'll do to her if she's caught, and I don't want to.
Nil checked the rope in her hand and looked around, determining the exact direction to run.
"Give yourself up," one of the guards demanded and she smiled at him.
"I'll die before I do," she replied, and jumped off the side of the roof, flying through the air for a moment. She unwrapped the rope and quickly flung it at a chimney that rose from a nearby house. It caught and the noose design tightened the grip around the pillar of stone. She put her feet out and braced herself as she hit against the wall. The guards had run to the edge of the roof and stared in disbelief as she climbed up the rope.
Time to get away, she thought as she climbed onto the roof of the building. She began running off towards the next rooftop when, from out of nowhere, Jix appeared and she rammed into him, landing hard on her back. She stared up at him, her different eyes deforming his face so that it looked like a merging of his and Xandra's.
Jix smiled at her and his eyes glowed intensely. "Got you."
To be continued...