12

Sandra

We were confined in some kind of dungeon. Well at least it look like a dungeon. The walls, ceiling and ground consisted of grey, eroded bricks. The air was foul with the scent of rust. Our actual domain was a tinted turquoise, glass cubicles. A glass wall separate us from one another. Alia and I both had a cot with cotton blankets and pillows.

Alia said we were lucky, that other cells, where she had dwelled, had beds made out of straw, other times she was made to sleep on the cold stony floor.

For a couple minutes, Alia and I fell silent.

"How did you end up here?" I asked, genuinely interested, but also hoping that I hadn't help to detain her in an expedition that neither of us remembered.

"On Earth, I'm from Oman. I didn't live there long, I was deported with my family when I was four. Here on Yegundo, I'm from Talash. That is until I was abducted and forced to duel in the vallows. What about you?"

"I'm from Chicago."

"What about your family? I mean you have family right?"

"I don't know," I said, despair festered inside of me. "I don't won't to talk about them."

"Okay," Alia said. "Just curious. My family, I think, were killed in the vallows. I haven't seen them since I was eleven."

I didn't respond. I couldn't stop thinking about what had happen to Tristan, his father, his mother, and the other people deported. Had they been sent to the vallows?

I tried to keep my mind off of the awful possibilities of what could have happened to them by further studying the dungeon.

Above us were cemented bars. They probably figured that it wouldn't be a good idea to seal off the whole cubicle or we would suffocate. It was also the only way that Alia and I could communicate with one another. There were three other cubicles across from us. One of the cubicles contain a demon I had never seen before. There was an intense vibe from it. This demon look a lot like a cross between a reptile and an elk. Its formation look like an elk but purple scales protruded from its body instead of fur. Its antlers look like they were created from chiseled amethysts. The demon ate some type of grass piled for it in the corner of its cubicle. I had never thought about what demons ate, watching the demon eat made it seem harmless, but I knew better. In the center of the dungeon was a stone table. It reminded me of a sacrificial alter. Beside the table, shelves carved into the stone wall. Several instruments rested on the shelf, including bottles, clamps, a dagger, and other items I couldn't make out.

A creak echoed through the dungeon, the sound of heavy footsteps bounced off the stone wall, Burkan and the two men who were mongrels, under his summoning, appeared from a corridor. Shadows masked Burkan's expression as he walked toward the elk-lizard demon, and stopped in front of its cage.

"It is time you meet your contenders," Burkan said in a solemn tone. "We'll see who is worthy enough to live." Burkan eyes scanned us in the cage. "But first they must be summoned."

I was sure he was trying to intimidate us. Why else would he speak in a language we could both understand and then look to see if we were listening.

"Prepare to lose your soul," Alia said.

I examine her face for sarcasm. There was none. Her eyes quivered with despair.

Burkan approached our glass prison, his slaves following him.

"I'll start with you," Burkan stared fiercely at Alia as if he was going to drill through her with his gaze.

Burkan touch the glass, and a circular section of the glass wall vanished. The slaved mongrels enter the entrance, gripped one of Alia's biceps, and hauled her out the cubicle.

I could hear the grinding of her teeth as she tried to yank herself out their clutch. She glared at Burkan.

She then turned to me. "After this, I won't be the same," she said in a warning tone.

The two men yanked her away, and the opening of the glass disappeared as if it were never there. They dragged her to the stone table. She threw a punch at the man with the bald head, plummeing him in the jaw. He grabbed her wrist and his arm emerged with white scales. Alia screamed. He was squeezing her wrist. Anger flared in my chest. I wanted to break the glass blocking me and shove him off of her.

Alia's skin also emerged with purple scales. Before she could turn, the man with cornrows elbowed her in the nose. Alia stopped moving, closing her eyes as her body went limp.

Burkan walked toward the shelf and seized the dagger. The mongrel men backed away from Alia. Burkan approached her and stood over her with the knife.

Was he going to stab her? Was this actually a sacrificial rite?

Panic surged through me. I banged my fist against the glass, "Alia, Alia wake up! He is going to kill you!"

Alia didn't awake, but Burkan turned his face to me. I expected anger from him, but all I saw was annoyance in his expression. He turnned back around, and slit his finger with the dagger. Small drops of dark redness trickled to the ground. He then smeared the blood on his finger on Alia's forehead, drawing a symbol that I couldn't see from my distance.

Burkan chanted repetitively in a language I could not understand. The symbol on Alia's forehead head glowed red as if beaming from a flashlight. Burkan shouted out one last word so loud that his voice echoed at least a dozen times through the dungeon.

Alia sat up. Her eyes now glowed white, but slowly dimmed to their natural hazel color. She stared ahead with a blank expression. As she were a zombie woken up from the dead.

Burkan spoke to Alia in a composed and commanding voice. Alia stood and walked toward the glass domain. A section of the glass wall diminished again, and Alia walked through. The glass sealed, and Alia sat on her bed. She stared at the ground. Her expression, bleak.

"Alia, are you okay?"

She shook her head, and snickered. "This means I have no control over my body. When I get the chance, I will kill him. I will, I swear it."

Burk and the men under his summoning walk up to the glass prison.

A circular entrance appeared on my side of the glass prison this time. Both of the men grabbed my arms and dragged me out of the prison. I tried to break their grip on me, but their fingers clamped down, threatening to break the bones in my arm if I didn't stop struggling. I wasn't like Alia, I couldn't spur spikes through my skin. I never learn to fully control my morphing mongrel abilities. And the lack of steal for me to control made me defenseless.

The men half haul, half carried me to the stone table. They slammed me onto the table, I felt the air knock out of me. They latched my arms and legs with leather bands attached to the stone table.

Panic and dread spiraled through my mind. I remember the despair in Alia's eyes. Was I really going to lose control of myself? I didn't want to end up like Alia, or the brainless men heeding Burkan's orders.

Burkan hovered over me. Dark red, dripping from his finger. He directed his finger for my forehead but I twisted and wrenched my neck. I could feel the strain of my neck. I would rather break my neck than let him control me. Burkan narrowed a glaring eye at me. He was definitely frustrated with me. Good. I wasn't going to let this narcissistic jerk have control over my mind. One his mongrel slaves clutched his hands over my ears and banged my head against the stone. Pain sheared through my head, white particles danced in my vision. All I could do is scream and focus on pain drilling through my brain. Then I felt the warm ooze being painted on my forehead, barely able to process Burkan's hand flicking across my sight.

Burkan chanted, but his voice sounded indistinct like it was traveling through a wall. I was sure his incoherent voice had to do with the throbbing in my head.

Burkan narrowed his eyes, confused for some reason.

"Tadako," Burkan yelled, commanding.

I had no idea what he was trying to command me to do. All I wanted him to do was shut up and stop sending more ripples of pain through my head.

His expression contorted to disappointment. He scowled and stomped away. His steps echoing off the walls. The heavy door screeched opened then shut.

The mongrel slaves released me from the latches and then dragged me back into my glass prison. They left, following the path of their master.

In agony, but also relieved I wasn't being controlled like a robot.

"Seems like you're linked to another Magician," Alia said.

"What does that mean," I said, sort of already knowing the answer but wanting confirmation.

"Means you can't be summon by another Magician."

"So what happens to me now?" I asked, glad not to be controlled by Burkan, but dreading the fact that someone else had control of me.

"Burkan will try to control you some other way, sell you, or kill you."

Seemed like I was still in Burkan's control.

What would he choose to do with me now?