Apathy is Death

Author notes: This was written several years ago, and was posted on the website. My co-authors are WhiteGirl and riskybusiness. I wrote the parts from Rikarah's point of view, WhiteGirl wrote about the elves and Eve, and riskybusiness wrote for Roy, Tidalius, and assorted male characters. However, as we stopped writing this story together, at a certain point which I will specify, the rest of it from there on was written solely by me.

Eve had been hidden with her spirits, hidden in her serenity as she pondered her exile from her kingdom. She did not care, she decided, because the choice had been hers, and she had made it. For some reason, the winds kept calling to her, breaking her focus from meditation and reflection. She was not sure why,, but the woods seemed to rustle with uncertainty. She suspected that evil was coming, that she must leave and find out where the echo of death was approaching from.

Wondering alone into the woods, she found it to be deadly silent. Her elven traits had allowed her to listen to the elements and hear their thoughts; as long as she was loyal to them, they could help guide her on her journey. She lightly tread the dark path, wondering where her instincts would guide her.

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Rikarah leered as she stood before the young man, holding his shoulders as she pressed his back harshly into the rough oak of the forest tree. She spoke directly into his face, her sinister hiss drowning out his terrified whimpers.

"Not such a macho man now, are you?"

There was no reply from her conquest; he only whimpered, his body, much taller and broader than hers, shaking in fear of the small, rather lovely woman who kept him immobile. Rikarah's mouth stretched into a malicious grin. She loved these moments…to see a fully grown, 200 pound man shiver in terror of his fate.

She had been watching him for some time now. She loved to watch people…hiding silently in the dark, and sometimes even in the bright light of day, witnessing their secret moments, what they did when they thought no one knew…but she knew. She knew, and when appropriate, she punished.

She had seen this man in his home several times now, watched the way she terrorized his children, smacked his wife around for everything she did he saw as disobedient. And then after blackening her eyes, bruising her arms, he would leave, on the arm of a young, ignorant blonde.

Rikarah had found a way to use this to her advantage. She had become his newest blonde…in a manner of speaking, of course, for she herself was brunette. Once his ego soared, she had led him into the woods, promising a fun date…but her idea of fun greatly differed from his.

Now she stood before him, extracting her knife from inside her coat. She held it high, teasing him with its sharpness.

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Eve heard a struggle ahead of her. She pulled out her long elven bow, and called the winds to ease her shot. Seeing the man on the ground, she did not know the situation, so instead of aiming for either's body, she shot at the knife.

Arching back, the arrow flew with perfect aim, the winds speeding it out to the knife. It deterred the knife perfectly, and the man and woman looked at Eve in astonishment, but the woman was more angry than surprised.

Eve put her bow back and pulled out two elven daggers. Her silver chain mail blew slowly in the wind as she approached the two. The man tried to run, but the woman pulled him and threw him to the ground.

"Who are you?" Eve asked. "What is happening?"

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Rikarah stared at the girl who had appeared so silently and suddenly, so effectively interrupting her and her deadly game. Her head burned with fury, and her mouth twisted into a sardonic grin. She stepped closer, her small frame clearly still able to overpower the girl's, knife in fist again. The man remained in a ball on the floor, shaking. Rikarah ignored him; she had other matters to deal with now.

"That is none of your concern," she said dryly. "Or, it wouldn't have been, had you not interrupted, but now I'm afraid it has become so."

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"You must admit that finding a person threatening another with a knife is fairly suspicious."

Eve felt uneasiness around the strange woman. She had had the gift of foresight since birth, images, really, that many times had saved her from battles. It seemed strange to her that she had not had a feeling or vision about this meeting.

"I merely remain curious as to what your intentions were to this man and if those intentions are justified."

Eve kept her daggers close at hand. In the awkward standstill she waited, praying no blood would be spilled.

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Rawyr watched quietly from the shadows. The voice in his head rang clear and firm.

"The elf is too arrogant. She will destroy the one we need out of fear that she is a common murderer. She knows nothing…stop her!"

Rawyr began to move to the clearing, then stopped. "Are you certain she will be destroyed, or do you wish me to dispose of the elf for some other reason?"

"Watch your accusations, Tidalius!"

"She has no advantage, why do you assume she will win?"

There was a silence, and then the voice returned. "I can read her thoughts, and she expects she will be forced to kill the one we need. Wait if you must, Tidalius, but do not let our prey be harmed. Failure is not an option. And I would hate to have to send Madness to do your work."

"Keep the hellhound on its leash. I shall be prepared if the elf strikes."

And with that he sank into the shadows, awaiting the outcome of this standoff.

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Rikarah could see the woman's tension, from the way her body was completely still, the way her mouth moved silently as though speaking to herself. She could tell she was prepared to kill her if she felt threatened- but Rikarah was as well. People…they could be so empathetic…Rikarah was glad she lacked such a hindersome trait.

Rikarah didn't wish to hurt the girl. But she had interfered…she had caught her, stopped her in the middle of her kill. In the two years since she had first killed, no one had done this…and Rikarah couldn't risk letting her go. She would have to finish her off too.

And yet something nagged at the back of her mind, a sense that maybe the girl wasn't as defenseless as she seemed. Maybe she was even able to defend herself as well as Rikarah…or more. There was something strange about her. Maybe Rikarah could avoid a fight, reason with her.

She changed her expression from a leer to a more girlish smile. Her victim had passed out from sheer terror. Damn, she thought, I like them to be alive when I begin the kill…

"They are justified," she assured the girl. "Do you really think that a young woman with all her life before her would harm a man just for fun? You don't know what you're seeing. My question for you is, what are your intentions? What do you intend to do about what you've seen?"

Eve pondered this, not knowing whether to trust the woman or to strike her down. Closing her eyes, the wind blew heavy in response, almost blowing the leaves off the trees. When Eve opened her eyes again, the wind stopped.

"Rikarah, I have no intention to interfere. Your wish to kill this man is probably out of your own past experiences, and less with what he has done. His cruelty shown to his wife and others must be punished, but not with death. I ask you, let this man live. Send him into a new life away from others, to prison if he must, but not into the abyss that is death. It is your choice but before you make it, look at the cowardly man before you."

Eve knew from her experience that no punishment was crueler than exile. She was sentenced to it, and knew the self-doubt and questioning it brought forth, both which could only serve the man well.

Suddenly a call resounded through the forest, the sound of a spirit rather than any normal noise. Eve turned quickly to the shadows, her bow aimed, but the watching eyes she had sensed on her back were gone.

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Rikarah stood still, stunned by the woman's words. She had not known she could ever be shocked again.

Focusing on the woman before her, she saw that she showed no fear in her expression. She had caught Rikarah in the midst of murder, and yet she was not afraid.

She had known her. She knew her name, and Rikarah knew she had not told her this, and neither had Stu, the man before her. She had known her name, as if she had read it within her soul…and the way she looked at her, the way she spoke to her…Rikarah felt as if she knew more than that. As if she knew everything there was to know about her.

Her heart beating loudly, a slowly growing sense of dread settling over her, Rikarah tightened her grip on her knife, trying to bring her expression back to one of contempt.

"Who are you?" she spat, but her voice shook. "How do you know this about me? Are you a spy? Who has sent you after me?"

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"Never mind me for the moment, Rikarah…do with this man what you will. We are not alone, something is happening. Hurry now and decide your action to force upon this man, because we need to find somewhere safe to talk," Eve urged.

Eve saw the angst in the girl's face, but she had a feeling that the person who had been lurking in the shadows had no intentions on her, but rather on the young Rikarah…and Eve needed to know why.

"Please, Rikarah, trust me!" she pleaded, knowing her sense of trust was likely low. The winds had spoken Rikarah's tale into her ear, allowing her to see the abuse of her recent history, and it could not be expected for one to trust after having experienced the events that she had.

Rikarah's expression appeared somewhat softer, and Eve spoke again. "Please, trust me."

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"Fool. The elf sniffed you out. Kill her quickly before she gains anymore influence with our prey. By the will of fire, Tidalius, I swear, if the girl's fate is abandoned you will wish I had left you dead!"

Rawyr paused. "Master, she need not die…yet. I feel a presence in this stroke of misfortune that may ultimately work in our favor. Though I will no doubt keep your threat at heart." He shuddered at the thought of what might happen were Rikarah to be abandoned.

Without a word he moved into the clearing behind the elf. Being very careful not to let Rikarah see him, he approached her from behind, but just as he reached her, Eve spun around and slashed his shoulder with a knife. He barely stepped back in time as Eve spun gracefully, slashing at him with an elven dagger. He dodged every one, waiting for the right move. Rikarah began to move towards him with her weapon drawn, but Rawyr was quick to summon a wall of flame in her path.

The elf ignored this and continued her relentless attack. Slowly she drew closer, and then it happened. She brought her dagger behind her head and slashed downwards for a killing stroke. Rawyr grinned as he jumped to the side and grabbed her wrist. As she swung her other hand he used the wrist to knock the dagger from it. Then he shook the other dagger from her wrist, grabbing her neck. She struggled desperately but her grip was final.

All Rikarah could see through the thick flame was the flickering shadow of a man and then the distant beat of wings. When the wall of fire extinguished, there was nothing but two elven daggers lying next to a small spatter of blood on the grass.

All the elf saw was the shadowed face of what seemed a human male and his gloved hand on her throat, then darkness. She awoke later in the middle of the forest…alone, among the trees.

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"Run!" Eve yelled to Rikarah when she sensed the first movement behind her.

As the battle began, Eve felt unsure, her movements taking longer, her reaction slowed. When she looked into her opponent's face, Eve saw fire engulfing forests, lakes and oceans drying up, life dying around the globe, unable to be preserved. She swayed, calling to the winds, but found herself suddenly elsewhere, lying on a forest ground unknown to her.

"Rikarah!" Eve yelled as she sat up quickly, but there was no response.

It took several moments of negotiation with the winds, but within time a white stallion appeared before her, summoned by her call. Mounting with ease, Eve urged it on, looking to find Rikarah…it seemed urgent that she not let her out of her sight, for more than ever, Eve did not know what was going on that seemed to rest upon her presence.

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Rikarah stood, a new uncertainty filling her mind. She glanced from Stu to the woman before her, then back to Stu, still motionless on the ground. She was shaking, cursing herself fiercely for the sudden weakness sweeping through her, weakness she had thought banished long ago, but she could not stop.

Glancing at Stu again, she tried to work up the rage she had felt towards him earlier, but now felt nothing- only faint disgust. She could not work up what she needed to feel to kill him, and that alarmed her.

Looking up at the girl so patiently awaiting her reply, Rikarah tried to conjure up a reply that would save her pride, but the woman turned quickly, her face alert at a sudden movement behind them. Rikarah too wheeled around, her knife drawn quickly- but suddenly the other woman had knives too, knives Rikarah was shocked by the presence of. She saw a shadowy outline of something, a man, though it appeared, oddly to have wings…this could not be happening.

And then a wall of fire obscured her vision, and Rikarah saw nothing. Heat singed her skin, coming closer, closer, and she ran blindly, desperate the escape. She hit her arm against a branch as she ran, drawing blood, but did not stop, her fear giving her a greater strength than she would have imagined.

As suddenly as the fire had appeared, it was gone, but Rikarah continued to run for several minutes before coming to a stumbling stop, panting heavily. Her chest hurt from running and the smoke of the fire, and her eyes stung as well. There was minor burns on her arms, her head spun, her heart hammering in shock and confusion, and Rikarah stumbled over to a large, leafy bush nearby, climbing inside it, not minding the scratches it marred along her arms. As she lay very still, tensed, waiting for another attack, she did not notice the tears standing in her eyes.