Chapter 12

Aliya stumbles through the darkness.

"Neyan! NEYAN!" Aliya screams, her voice breaking. She grabs out wildly, trying to find anything solid in the vast dark. Laughter rose higher and higher, circling all around her.

"Stop, stop, stop!" Aliya yells, the sound of laughter filling her ears, getting louder and louder.

Thud.

Aliya falls to her knees.

The laughter stops. Quiet digs in with invisible claws. Aliya sobs silently, fearing breaking the silence.

"Look at me." A cold, cruel voice cuts through the silence like a knife. The deep growl echoes through Aliya's mind. Aliya slowly, so slowly, raised her head. She shivers at the thought of looking at the owner of that cold voice, but she points her chin.

"No weakness, show no weakness," A smooth voice whispered so quietly that Aliya wasn't sure if she had simply thought it. But yet, Aliya saw the figure of a man next to her, out of the corner of her eye. Without looking, Aliya knew it was Neyan and she fumes at the thought. At the pure betrayal. The land before her was enough to make any grown man cry, the pure beauty. Green lands rolled out with luscious grass that soothed Aliya's wounded knees. Skies of varying blues and soft purples with fluffy clouds that looked close to the heavens. The tall giant that stood on top of a small hill in the rolling greens was an eyesore against the serendipity that the land brought.

"We finally meet, Aliya Patterson."

"Who the hell are you?" Aliya spat. The giant laughs softly. He was about five metres tall, with shadows wrapping around every part of his body. The shadows scattered and stretched as he took a step down the hill.

"I am the King of the lands you have trashed so thoroughly." He snarls, making the land rumble.

"Trashed?! I have done nothing but try to survive! I just want to go home!" Aliya snarls right back, unaware of where her surge of energy has come from. "I didn't want to come here! I didn't want to be stuck here! I don't want to die here!" She screams even louder. The King just smiles and Aliya's blood freezes in her veins.

"And yet you are here, and you will die here."


Kylan grudgingly follows Mirathona back to her house. He eats the stew, which tastes surprisingly good. He sets down the bowl with a satisfied groan.

"Told ya you should've trusted me," Mirathona huffs as she swallows another mouthful of her stew.

"Surely you can't be mad that I didn't. And I'm not saying I do now, you're just bringing me to Aliya then we're leaving." Kylan watches her as she shrugs and grabs some more soup for herself. It's hard to be so distrustful of a 12-year-old girl, Kylan thinks.

"When do we leave?" He asks the small child.

"Tonight." She gives a curt answer before draining the rest of her bowl.

"In the dark?" He glares at her. "Isn't that kind of stupid?"

"Believe it or not, it won't matter for long and it's easier to stay hidden in the dark." She glares right back.

"Whatever." He growls before walking over to his bed and checking through the bag Mirathona had given him minutes before. Food, water, rope, and a hunting knife. His leg still stings with pain as he paces the tiny house.

"You're making me feel anxious, sit down. The sun will be done in about an hour, just wait." Mirathona stretched her arms before getting up and sitting the now empty bowls in the sink. Kylan watches her carefully before sitting on the edge of his bed.

"I'm going to cut some firewood." Mirathona glances over at him before walking out the door, leaving it open. Kylan stares out from his bed, wondering what he could do to fill an hour worth of time. He decides to get some answers out of his guide before they most likely would have to remain silent as they trek the woods.

Kylan walks after Mirathona and finds her chopping wood next to the house. Small muscles ripple in her arm as she swings the axe down with great force. Kylan leans casually against the wall of the hut.

"So how exactly did you end up here?" He questions her, trying to sound nonchalant.

"Why does it matter?" She snaps back, her face going red. Kylan notices the embarrassment written over her face.

"Was it some guy? Neyan?" He guesses.

"…" Mirathona straightens and turns to him. "How'd you know?"

"Well, he brought Aliya and me here, and it was obvious from your reaction. Trust me, all girls are the same when it comes to guys." Kylan smirks. Mirathona's face went purely white with rage.

"All girls are the same!? Oh really! Well, I'll have you know that whatever you thought you know about how I got here is incorrect!"

"Oh? And why's that?" Kylan was enjoying stirring her.

"I didn't come here because of Neyan!"

"Sure."

"He seduced my friend."

"So, you were trying to play the hero? How noble." Kylan snorts.

"I came here," Mirathona says while pointing a finger into Kylan's chest. "Because I was jealous."

"Jealous?" Kylan scrunches his eyebrows in confusion. "Because Neyan wanted her?"

"Because I wanted her."