Lyana's Lament Chapter 6

Lyana reached for the shard, but her hand stopped an inch shy of the gemstone. It glowed brighter than the sun, but it didn’t hurt her eyes to stare. It wrapped her hand in invisible chains and pulled.

She gritted her teeth and tried to tear her hand away. Her stomach churned as her sagani did somersaults and leaped for joy. She called on its strength to help pull her hand away from the stone, but it resisted. She might as well have tried to keep a starving man away from a feast.

The closer her hand came to the shard, the faster Lyana’s heart pounded and the harder she had to fight. She groaned and fought against both the sagani and the stone, but her hand barely pulled away.

A sudden calm stilled her pounding heart, and it was as though a summer tornado had just passed through her spirit, leaving nothing but destruction and an eerie silence in its wake. She’d already gotten too close, and Tomas had once told her that everything good in his life had come from facing his fears and finding what was on the other side.

He had touched a nexus and lived. Anything he could do, she could, too. And if she couldn’t?

Well, she’d made peace with that future long ago.

She relaxed the muscles in her arm and let the shard tug at her hand. The tip of her finger connected as she released a deep breath, and her spirit was violently pulled outside her body.

Tomas had spoken, after much prodding, about what touching the nexus had felt like. He’d talked of water, of being a cup filled far beyond what it could hold. At the moment she touched the nexus, she understood. Her spirit and body tried to catch the power of a waterfall in a teacup. Strength poured into her body, and for the briefest fraction of a moment, it wiped away all the weariness, all the aches, and all the weakness from her body.

But the moment passed all too quickly, and she was full. She’d eaten the feast and helped herself to seconds at dessert, and still servants brought more food to the table, and she was forced to eat, a knife to her throat. Every muscle, ligament, and bone bloated and stretched, filled beyond bursting but somehow still whole. Light poked holes in her skin and she shone brighter than Tolkin in the night sky. She pressed her hands over the pinpricks of light, trying to keep it in like blood, but there was no stopping it. She fought against the nexus’s strength, but it was like holding back a flooded river with only her hands.

“Surrender!” The voice came from everywhere and nowhere, familiar and yet she knew she’d never heard it before.

Surrender meant death, but fighting the nexus meant death, too.

She fought a moment longer, animal instincts lashing out against the inevitable, but before the flood of strength overwhelmed her completely, she surrendered. She welcomed the nexus’s strength into her body, even if it tore her to shreds.

Power continued to flow through her limbs, but now smoothly, like a gentle creek trickling down a hillside.

She became like a child again, full of limitless energy and a body that knew no aches.

Then she blinked and screamed as she found herself in hell.

An arena, deep underground. Once, perhaps, it had hosted cheering crowds that had hidden themselves from the light of day, who had cut themselves off from the sun for reasons long lost. Perhaps once it had been a place of joy. A place of competition and triumph.

Those days were long past.

The monster that writhed in the center of the arena was enormous, so far divorced from its original form it was almost a joke to call it a sagani. Long, powerful tentacles extended from a central torso, dominated by an enormous eye that burned with spiteful intelligence. The tentacles remained in constant motion, even as the eye fixed her with an unblinking stare.

Lyana swore and reached for her sword, but she was a child and had no sword. She stumbled back and made to run, but the stone floor of the arena turned to sand beneath her feet and her retreat went nowhere.

The monstrous sagani reached a tentacle toward her. First, as a hand reaching out to take hers, then a flying lasso, looking to rope her tightly and pull her in.

She ran but went nowhere, screamed, but her small, high-pitched voice couldn’t carry across this vast arena, and always the tentacle advanced, playfully confident in acquiring its prey.

Once, Tomas had been here to save her, and now her eyes darted around the arena, but every seat was empty. The city was empty. There was no Tomas to save her. No churchman to condemn her. The sand around her feet solidified, locking her in place.

Tears fell down her cheeks, but they did nothing to melt the stone around her feet. Her eyes darted around the arena like frightened rabbits, but no one appeared.

She was alone again.

Abandoned in the mountains, buried under countless tons of rock.

Alone like she hadn’t been since those days, her father’s blood calling for vengeance.

Her legs lost their strength and she fell onto her knees, the stone around her feet melting and swallowing the lower part of her legs whole, then solidifying once again. She stared and blubbered, words too complex for her mind and lips to form. Death approached, and alone, she had no strength to fight.

A snake fell from the domed ceiling high overhead, as though it had somehow crawled across the ceiling and only lost its grip above her. It landed softly before her, glowing red, and the sagani’s monstrous tentacle halted its inexorable approach.

She’d seen it once before. At the bottom of a cliff, her body broken. It had curled up on her chest as though to rest, but instead had whispered promises of vengeance, of a new life.

She’d accepted it then, without question, and now she accepted it again.

Anything not to be alone.

She held out her hand and it slithered up, wrapping around her hand and arm. It raised its head as it approached her chest, as though about to knock on a door and ask permission to enter.

The monstrous sagani struck out, every tentacle racing toward her at once, the tentacles moving as fast as the tip of a whip.

She nodded, and the snake dove into her chest, vanishing in a flash of light.

The tentacles struck, and she thought they would tear her apart. They couldn’t pierce her flesh, though. Their immense strength shattered the stone around her legs and threw her, skidding and skipping, across the arena floor. Roughly hewn stone cut gashes into her arms, shoulders, and hips, but when she tumbled to a stop, there was no blood.

She groaned and tried to push herself to her feet, but her first attempt failed. A fire lit in her stomach, familiar as an old friend, and she stood, wobbling. Her body was still that of a child, stuck in a nightmare she’d already relived countless times.

Her newfound freedom did not deter the monstrous sagani. Tentacles swarmed chaotically, but the eye steadily moved toward her, unblinking and confident.

Lyana reached for her sword, but there was none, for she was a child, and Tomas hadn’t yet given her the chipped sword to use. The exit was close, now, but she did not know if the monster would pursue.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.