Amaya had woken up to a gentle rocking and the sound of water. The smell of salt reached her nose as well as unwashed bodies and blood. As she started to crack her eyes open she heard someone near her start muttering under their breath and moved her arm. It sounded like Soto triggering several reactions from fear, to nausea culminating in going from a prone position on a cot to upright and ready to throw punches, and then quickly curled into a ball as her back screamed at the motion.
"Easy, easy Amaya." It was the same person and Amaya glanced up.
It wasn't Soto. It was an elf. Brown hair was pulled from his face and his hands were held up in a peaceful gesture.
"You're…you're not…oh thank Gods." Amaya said sagging. Wincing only as she landed on her tender arm. "Ow." She mumbled.
"If I might have your arm back, I'll try to remove that cuff." He said.
Amaya moved to sit up and was coaxed to lie back down. She did so without much argument, the brief moment of action had drained her far more than she cared to admit. Someone whispered, and Amaya realized they weren't alone. Craning her neck, she spotted several women, including Diedre, sitting in hammocks and cots holding each other. Every now and then someone would whisper.
Which brought her attention back to the rocking sensation she noticed earlier. "Where am I?" She asked.
"On a boat." The elf said absently as he fidgeted with the cuff on her arm. He had a little set of tools next to him that gleamed faintly in the candle light that he used to tap at the latch and other points on the cuff.
Diedre slipped from her position and sat near her head and began idly detangling Amaya's hair – which someone had let loose from the multitudes of pins. "We're heading back to the Hill." She said.
"We can get there by boat?" Amaya's head felt stuffed with cotton.
Diedre smiled and shook her head. "No, but one of the dwarven gates can be accessed near the water – there's too many of us to make trips by dragon flight."
"Oh." Amaya said softly. Something was pricking at the back of her mind, something important. "Fianna," She said abruptly. "She was hit -,"
Diedre was already shaking her head. "Daemon told me what happened." She said. "I'm sorry, she's gone."
Amaya stared for a moment before she closed her eyes. At the moment she dearly wished to be unconscious again.
Deidre wiped moisture from Amaya's face.
"It's my fault." Amaya whispered. "I should have done something."
"Hush, don't talk like that." Deidre ordered. "You did everything you could so don't you dare blame yourself."
The elf nodded. "The fact you were able to help her is amazing. You shouldn't have been able to do any magic. This is a well-made blocker."
"Doesn't change that she..." Amaya trailed off and sniffled.
There was a metallic clink and the cuff popped open leaving her arm feeling fizzy. "It does not change the fact Fianna is dead, but it should alleviate your conscious considering the damage that you've done to yourself to help her."
Amaya turned and looked at her arm. Halfway down her hand up to nearly her elbow was vividly red, where the cuff had been was raw, cracked and bleeding. Against the backdrop of angry flesh there was a faint burn-like mark that mimicked the cuff perfectly.
The elf dragged a finger gently down her arm. "Can you feel this?" He asked.
Amaya opened her mouth to say 'of course I can feel that' when she realized, she couldn't.
"That's what I thought." The elf said after a moment and began rinsing her arm with a clean cloth that was in a bucket she only now became aware of.
She could see the water moving over her arm, feel his fingers holding her elbow firmly, but where the cuff had been there was no feeling. "What-? How-?" Amaya started.
"You forced magic past a very well made blocker." The elf said. "There is a price to pay for doing that. I'm going to put an extra strength salve on this, but don't be surprised if you don't regain feeling here."
Amaya just nodded dumbly at him.
Hours later her entire body still ached and the people she was sharing a cabin with had mostly dropped off. Amaya had been ordered to rest – her back and leg demanded it really – but the longer she stayed in the cabin the more she felt like she couldn't breathe. Grabbing the cuff the elf had left with her she quietly got up, gritted her teeth against the pain, and made her way top side. It was night and there were still people milling around. Mostly it was members of the crew but there were those who had been prisoners in Soto's dungeon around as well. She made her way to the back of the boat away from everyone else. Turning the golden roses over in her hand and staring at the ocean she let her mind go over the past several hours.
"You are supposed to be resting." Daemon said softly walking up behind her after she had stood there for a while.
Amaya blinked. Once, twice, then finally looked at him. "I'm not doing anything." She said faintly.
Daemon nodded. "But you aren't resting either." He said eyes dropping to the cuff as he leaned on the rail beside her. "And your back was injured when you fell."
Looking at his face, his eyes were rimmed red and guilt twisted her guts. "I'm sorry." She said lip trembling. "I didn't mean for it to hit her."
"Don't." Daemon said in a harsh voice. His face didn't twist in pain but his claws bit into the wood. "Please, don't blame yourself." His added gentling his voice.
Amaya dropped her gaze and her fingers traced the roses winking at her in moonlight. "I can't stop." She said. "I can't get it out of my head. If I had just –,"
"Just what?" Daemon asked. "Burn your arm worse than you already have?" He asked gesturing to the bandages adorning her forearm. "Let that thing hit her in the head? Amaya, she knew that there was a chance she would be killed. It was more important to her that you get out of there alive."
That sparked a fire in her belly. "Why?" She demanded using the railing for support as she planted herself firmly to look him in the eye. "What good have I done? I have hidden myself away first at the temple, then at the Hill. I have gotten my friends killed and been outwitted by Soto more than I care to admit. That bastard nearly married me, so he could have more power to kill the people I am supposed to protect! Fianna has actually done things with her life. She deserved to leave that wretched place alive! What have I done that's worth spit?!" Amaya didn't care that her voice rose with every word until she was yelling, or that someone had to have heard her screaming at Daemon, but she did care that his face had lost all expression. Amaya readied herself to spout more biting words at him.
"You stood up to a King in front of everyone." Daemon said. "You let him use your body because it would keep your friend alive that much longer – yes I know about that, Soto is a braggart – You ran away because you knew something was wrong." Daemon said. "And what is this about hiding yourself? You have been studying. You have mastered magic spells that even though we say are simple still take months or even years to fully grasp and you did them in a matter of weeks. You are young Amaya; your stories aren't written yet but just knowing you are here? That gives a lot of people hope they would not otherwise have."
"I am one girl." She said. "And I haven't hardly done anything!"
"You are the Magissa." Daemon said. "And you are only one of two human Magissas and the only one that is a veil child. Those that are part human relate to you far more than they would relate to full blooded maegiks. To them, you are a symbol of good things to come but no one is expecting you to do anything by yourself."
Amaya sagged, winced then leaned heavily against the railing again to get her weight off her leg. The gold roses had cut into her hand at some point while she had been screaming and drops of blood welled up. "It still isn't right that I left and she didn't."
"Life is not fair." Daemon said. "I have learned that too many times. We can mourn her, celebrate her life, and take care to remember to watch for what took her life."
Amaya bowed her head ignoring the twinges of pain that brought her.
Daemon rested his hand on her shoulder. "If it helps any, she went quickly."
Her hand found his. "I'm glad it was quick, but…" Amaya trailed off and shuddered.
"I know." He said. "There won't be a soul who heard that who won't wake up covered in sweat tonight if they can sleep at all." Daemon looked up at the sky. It was blue black, and the stars were out in force now that there were no lights to detract from their brilliance. "Sleep is what you need now. Tomorrow you can continue to kick yourself if you want but for now get some sleep."
Amaya stood quietly for a moment before nodding. She took two, limping steps from the railing before looking at the cuff in her hand. Fingers going white around it she turned and chucked it as hard as she could off the boat. Her back screamed at her and Daemon softly scolded her, but he still led her back to her bunk letting her use him as a crutch.
Deidre was still awake in the room and then it was Deidre's turn to softly scold Amaya for aggravating her injuries. She thanked Daemon before shooing him off and getting Amaya to lie, face down without anything covering her top half, so Deidre could rub salve along her bruised back.
"Thank you." Amaya said keeping her voice low.
"You're welcome." Deidre said.
It didn't miss Amaya's attention that Deidre's voice was thick with pain.
"I want you to promise me something Amaya." Deidre said.
"What?" Amaya asked.
"I want you to promise me you won't give up on us, and you will make that pompous, gods-forsaken, sorry excuse for elk dung pay." Deidre's voice was shaking.
Fianna's scream echoed through Amaya's head again. "It's the least I could do." Amaya said. "To make him feel what Fianna felt in her last seconds."
Did not realize how short this chapter was or I would have added it in yesterday. But thus concludes Book 1 of Fanar. I hope that you enjoyed it and keep an eye out for other uploads about my next project. Thank you for sticking with me through the end!