Chapter 13

Ice cold hands held her arms above her head, tilted in a way so she had to arch her back.

She bent her neck to see the most beautiful and terrifying man looking down at her. She wouldn't have been able to point out exactly what it was that was so beautiful or terrifying about him. In fact he was laminated in a blue and green light that made his features blurry.

But he had to be beautiful, of that she was sure. Why else would she feel so utterly lost just by looking at him? She felt like drowning in his eyes. In them she discovered a great solution. In his mind – she knew it was his thoughts – she simply turned around and stepped into his embrace. They would dance off into the fog to the mysterious music that was sounding more and more like the score of a dream.

Someone shouted in a hoarse voice. It became louder and louder. In fact it was starting to irritate her.

She forced her eyes away from the man and found Zigo running towards her, pushing the poor elves away, though they were only trying to help him. He even kicked a little girl in the face and Sally gasped.

When he reached her she glared at him.

"Go away!" she shouted.

"No!" His voice was fiercer than she'd ever heard it. For a moment she was able to remember the last night when she'd slain the Rhadhjon and lay with her back against his.

He'd protected her.

"You've –"he began but was cut off by a voice that was the sum of a thousand falling water drops landing on the surface of a clear lake.

"Sally."

"Yes?" she whispered.

"Will you dance with me?"

"Yes," she said.

The cold grasp on her wrist loosened and she turned around. Elf girls were whispering to each other, laughing and singing and even cheering.

Will I become an elf girl, too? Sally wondered and grinned.

Her knee caps were struck by something and her legs seemed to disappear beneath her as they collapsed. She gasped but was saved by two strong hands around her arms. They were too far up for her to claw at them and too far down for her to bite.

Her chains were red-skinned.

"Damn it, Zigo, let go!" she hissed.

The elf man bowed down over them. For the first time Sally realized that he was wearing a crown.

"Hey, you're a king," she whispered and forgot Zigo.

He smiled with full, probably soft, lips. She wanted to kiss them and part them with her tongue, meet him in a heated passion and have his hands feeling how perfect her body was – for her body was perfect, his eyes told her how much he wanted it, so it had to be.

"Don't talk to him," Zigo shouted in her ear.

"Shut up," she murmured serenely and stared at the king with a smile. Who cared about Zigo? The elves would drag him off at some point.

"Zigo, Zigo, let go of your mourning," they sang.

"They're coming, Zigo," she whispered.

"Fuck it!"

It was a ragged scream; one that must have torn apart his throat on the way out, the kind that feels like a cat is clawing the insides.

Zigo let go of her. Without support she tumbled onto the ground. Her arms immediately raised towards the elf king but she only glimpsed him before Zigo stepped in between.

He threw something dark into the air.

The fog was gone. Everything was back to normal, and she could see clearly. But then again – it wasn't. Sally was very aware that she no longer felt the earth beneath her anymore and that everything – the trees, the ground, even the sky – was purple.

"Why is it purple?" she wanted to ask, but there were no lips to part and no tongue to form the words with.

She stepped around a few times in a circle, realizing she wasn't so much stepping as just moving by sheer thought. Her eyes fell on Zigo, who was bowing down over something.

It was the first time she saw herself in three weeks and she would never have guessed that people could change so radically. The hair was darker from all the dirt, her skin was tanned, the clothes were not the modern clothes she'd grown up with but weird, historic relics that should have belonged to a distant past. Instead of full cheeks her face had hollowed in on itself. Because of the clothes it wasn't as obvious, but she had also lost quite a bit of weight.

But it was her. It was the same, masculine jawline, the same cowlick at the base of the ear, the same slender neck and the same arcing nose.

Zigo picked her up and sprinted off in the opposite direction of the Elf King.

Sally saw the Elf King clearer now, as if a cloak had been taken off him. She realized that he wasn't beautiful, though maybe handsome. She no longer felt an attachment to him, and she no longer heard the quiet song, despite the fact that the elves still moved their lips while they began their pursuit of Zigo. In fact the ferocity of their lips hinted that the song was growing ever more desperate.

A strange pull began in what felt like her stomach, but might rather be something like the common gut feeling. An invisible string seemed knit around her organs and it now dragged her in the direction of her body.

She wondered how she was going to follow without legs to move, but the moment she thought of it the trees slit past her, the ground changed and she was suddenly flying besides Zigo as he fled from an angry mob of elves.

After two failed attempts at shouting she hesitantly tried reaching out and touching her own head.

It sucked on her conscious and her stomach felt as if it was on the pinnacle of a rollercoaster. She screamed, and the scream transcended into the physical world. Her eyes opened and the fog was everywhere, dense and fickle.

"Don't fight me Sally!" pleaded Zigo and his face was stern. His eyes focused on the path in front of them.

"You can see?" she asked and winced at the fog.

He nodded.

"What happened?"

"Not now."

The elven song continued pressing against them, but the beauty in it was gone. Every now and then an enraged scream crept out of the shadows. Sally shivered.

"We're almost across the swamp now," whispered Zigo with a ragged breath. "Can you run yourself?"

"Yes."

"I'm putting you down, so get ready to run immediately."

He didn't even stop to do it, he just shifted to a fast walk, let her feet touch the ground and then immediately started a new sprint that Sally was forced to follow. Her heartbeat was insanely loud and fast, drumming against her rib cage after only a minute.

Each step was followed by a sogging swush as her foot dug halfway into the soft, mossy ground and then popped out. An owl made an evil hoot, as if it rooted for the elves. Light steps followed and soon closed in on them.

"They're too fast," Sally gasped.

"Don't worry, we'll –"

There was a loud splash as they crashed into thick water filled with stringy, scratching plants that caught onto them like hands.

"No!" Sally shouted and then the shout was drowned by the gurgle in the back of her throat. Plants dragged her underneath the water. An army of bubbles came out of her mouth when she opened it. Beside her Zigo was equally in trouble.

There were faces in the water, pale and blue and triumphant. Elf girls swam around them in a small circle and brushed against their skins. The lamps' tender light flickered above the water.

Sally fought an internal battle against terror while trying to extract knowledge from her reluctant brain. Every time she tried to find a solution her mind seemed to scream "who cares, you're going to die, what about our final flash back? Will these faces really be the last thing I see? Mom, mom help me, please!"

Nesala wouldn't have ended up in this trouble. And she was far away, too. No help.

Sally remembered something. In water there were a few oxygen molecules scattered about. What if she could somehow gather those around her own and Zigo's mouth? Just a few breaths would suffice.

But how would she even know how to find such molecules? How to identify them? And besides that it would probably use up her energy. She'd faint immediately.

Zigo had gone limp beside her and fell into the deep with increasing speed. She reached out and grabbed his coarse strands of hair.

Her mouth opened and gasped for air. Her body realized its mistake as a foul taste hurried down her throat in an endless stream and she closed her mouth but couldn't swallow and opened it again.

Hands reached out. They glowed. She made out the king, hiding in the deep. He was smiling and raised his hand towards her.

She closed her eyes.

Damn it, she thought. Her mouth opened and allowed death to flow in.

Chapter 1 will be updated next! A much longer introduction than the one that is now!