Visions II: To Save an Ogrin - Part Five
The two companions made their way through the tunnels. The princess had led them to the entrance and they were now carefully following the instructions she gave them as they walked through the expansive caverns. Karan carried one of the lamps, heading out in front. Nil followed behind, listening for any sounds of pursuit. The princess had told her the tunnels were secret, but she still wasn’t so sure about the Cybunny.
If we get caught, I’m blaming her, Nil thought, glancing nervously about the tunnel. She didn’t like being trapped underground, mostly because she had a small fear of enclosed spaces. Most thieves did, she figured, since they were used to being free and running around wherever they wanted to.
“Looks like we turn right up ahead,” Karan said, bringing the map closer to the light. He squinted at it and turned it around. “Or is it left?”
“Did you get us lost?” Nil asked, instinctively reaching for her earring. Her hand didn’t find it, though, and she panicked for a moment. “Where’s my earring?”
Karan looked at her. “Not sure. Did you lose it?”
“I didn’t, but you did,” she replied. “You must’ve knocked it off while carrying me! Ugh, where is it?!”
“Relax, it’s just an earring.”
“Just a—oogh! My mother—” She stopped herself and Karan immediately turned towards her, a curious look in his eyes.
“What about your mother?” he asked, fingering a necklace she hadn’t noticed before. It had fishing wire for the string and a pendant hung from it. Something about the charm seemed familiar to her.
Nil immediately turned her blind eye to him. “Nothing. Focus on the directions.” She tried to ignore him, but something caught her eye—the blinded one. Within his core, a blue light pulsed gently, giving off some sort of magic. She tried to focus on it, but it shrank away every time she did.
“Is everything alright?” Karan asked. “You’re looking at me with your...” He didn’t continue.
She shook her head. “Just figure out where we are. I want to get out of this place as soon as possible.”
“Alright.” Karan turned back to the map and brightened up. “Ah, it is left.”
They set off again and Nil looked at Karan again through her blind eye. The power seemed similar to her own. It didn’t just act as another source of energy, but almost as a separate being.
Whatever it is, I hope he can handle it.
The sword glinted in the fading light. It struck its target, successfully cutting into the ribs and killing the wooden dummy. Brynn removed her sword from the wood and wiped some sweat from her brow. It felt good to practice again. She hadn’t had much time on her journey, and between the Ogrin Master being attacked and chasing Nil, there hadn’t been time to practice.
I wonder how she got away from Hanso, she thought, sitting down to rest. He said she fainted after losing her grip and her companion saved her. If she really did have someone helping her, then that could explain why the Ogrin Master was attacked. Still, it doesn’t make much sense. Why not change the plan? Ah, well. She must have some reason, right?
Brynn sighed and stood. She turned back to the dummy and raised her sword. It fell from her hands and she rolled her eyes before bending down and picking it up. As she grabbed it, something ran past, chopping the head off the practice dummy.
The Kougra grabbed her sword and ran back as she saw the attacker.
“What?!” she exclaimed, recognizing the yellow Kyrii. “Where did you come from?”
Nil turned on her, glaring with her good eye. The other had a strip of black cloth covering it, though Brynn was positive now that it was blind.
“Die!” Nil yelled, raising the sword and running at Brynn. She swung towards Brynn’s neck and she blocked, barely managing to deflect the blow.
“Why are you trying to kill us?” Brynn asked as she quickly blocked another blow from Nil’s sword. The Kyrii didn’t reply, just stabbed towards her heart. Brynn swatted the sword off to the side, successfully turning Nil around. She hit her back with the pommel and the Kyrii stumbled forward.
“What did we ever do to you?” Brynn asked.
“I have a debt to settle, that’s all,” Nil replied, and Brynn noticed her voice sounded a bit different. Deeper, and more murderous.
The Kougra couldn’t think about it for the time being, though, and had to focus instead on the volley of strikes Nil unleashed. It was a perfect combination and Brynn would have been impressed if Nil wasn’t trying to kill her with them. She tried to block a strike to her left arm, but it got through and sliced cleanly through her uniform.
Brynn winced as she felt the sting and saw the blood, but she didn’t let her guard down as the Kyrii continued her assault.
She’s not going to give up until I’m dead, Brynn realized. With the way this fight is going, that’s probably going to happen.
There wasn’t much time to think, though. Another attack was already being launched and Brynn felt a nick on her leg. She began panting heavily, and Nil pressed on. The gaps in the Kougra’s defense were growing and she wasn’t sure how long she could keep it up.
A strong blow knocked the sword from her hands and she backed up, the blade of Nil’s sword at her throat.
“You won’t get away with this,” Brynn said, still defiant even without a way to defend herself.
“You don’t know how wrong you are,” Nil replied. She pulled back her arm and Brynn braced herself as the metal sword came down...
...and was blocked by Brynn’s sword. The wielder was an Ixi, who smiled widely despite the situation. He quickly deflected the blade and faced Nil.
“I know you’re trying to kill us, but whatever happened to chivalry?” he asked.
“Oh, like you’re very chivalrous yourself,” Brynn replied.
Nil looked between the two of them, seeming to realize she was outnumbered. She glared at them both. “This isn’t over,” she growled and ran off, leaving them looking after her.
“You alright?” Hanso asked, handing Brynn back her sword.
“Yeah,” she replied, glancing at her left shoulder. “Just a few cuts. Nothing more.” She sheathed her sword and studied the wound. It was the first one she got from the Kyrii.
Why did she strike there? she wondered, going back in her mind to the fight. How did she even manage it? She shook her head. No, it must’ve been something else. At least, I think it is. Is it?
Nil and Karan emerged from the tunnels near the stairway that lead down the mountain. They descended the stairs, mostly keeping to their own thoughts. Both were fairly tired from the day’s adventure and they both had their own troubles.
How am I going to stop Jix now? Nil thought. It’s impossible to get close without them thinking I’m trying to kill them, not to mention there are guards running all over the place looking for me. She sighed and looked up at the constellations that were appearing in the night sky. She tried to make herself remember how small and insignificant her problems were to the rest of the universe, yet it still seemed so massive to her.
Almost too big for me to handle. I hope I don’t mess this up.
They arrived long after sundown at the fisherman’s house. Karan let Nil in through the back door after checking that the fisherman and his father were already asleep. She got a pile of spare blankets and stayed in Karan’s room. It was right next door to where his father rested, still recovering from being shipwrecked.
She lay awake for some time, unable to get rid of the troubled thoughts that haunted her mind. Eventually, she sat up and looked towards Karan's bed, discovering that the Xweetok had slunk away without her noticing.
Where did he go? she wondered, quickly reaching the door. She peered into the hallway then went into his father's room. It seemed like the only place he would go, and she was right. He sat next to his father's bedside, talking to him.
"...don't know for sure," Karan said. "She's a lot like her, that's for sure."
"Who's like who?" Nil asked, remaining in the doorway.
Karan stood. "Nil. I-I thought you were already asleep."
"Couldn't sleep. Neither could you, I see. Now, who were you talking about?"
"Ah-Nil," Karan's father whispered, staring at her in astonishment. "It's really you. I can't believe it." His face broke out into a wide smile and she figured out where Karan got his smile from.
What's with the 'ah'? she wondered. The only other person who did that with my name was my mother.
"What're you talking about?" Nil asked aloud. "Karan, does he know...?"
"No," Karan replied. "It's not about that. Nil, he thinks you're my sister, Ah-Nil."
To be continued...