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Young Writers Society
Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:06 pm
Ace eyed the dead man carefully, watching as Malek stripped him of his armor and set it aside. She had not been expecting that. Ace tried to push away her renewed panic. Kafele was one thing--she hadn't had to watch
die--but this was entirely different. More...
. She looked away and reached up to gingerly touch her neck. A glance down at her arm made her grimace. There was probably going to be a bruise there later.
There was a soft noise and Ace's gaze snapped to Halona, eyes narrowed.
Halona backed away from the scene with deep and stuttering breaths. "T-that. That was murder. You just
killed a man.
" She hit the bed and plopped down on it, tears welling in her eyes. Ace made an abortive little move forwards, glancing towards Malek.
"Halona, this was one of Nadir's agents--" Malek began.
"Corrick was right about you... You are murderers."
"He would've killed us if he had the chance, Halona." Ace gestured to the lifeless corpse staining the extravagant rug, brought up short by Halona's panicky accusations. She kept an impassive expression on her face and sternly reminded herself not to show her own panic. Halona wasn't entirely wrong, though. "You saw him. He certainly wasn't sending us a 'have fun at the party!' gift."
"But... murder isn't the way. There's always --
-- something else we could do."
Malek was silent for a moment as he turned away. When he faced them again, his expression was solemn. "I wish that were the case. You don't know Myaran people like I do." A pause. "He would've fought to the death for what he believed in. Please. Know that."
Aracelis inhaled slowly. She saw too much of herself in the girl's panic and innocence. That was a time before this, though. She had hardened, and now Halona would as well. There was such a thing as sky pirates, and Ace had seen more than her fair share of those. Taking a seat next to her, Ace somewhat awkwardly rested her arm around Halona's shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.
"I, uh," she began, glancing towards Malek warily. "I was like this, the first time I witnessed death." Ace bit her lip, gazing dropping to the dead man on the floor. "My parent's airship, the
, was attacked... by sky pirates." She frowned, head filled with smoke and fire and screaming. "Many people died. I was twelve." Ace looked away again, scowling. "My sister died in the attack, and my father was nearly killed. They're lucky we didn't have a firebender on the ship at the time or theirs would've been torched out of the sky."
Halona glanced at her. "Why-why are you telling me this?"
"I...don't know." Ace shrugged, pulling away. "I guess I'm trying to say that death happens and sometimes it's in defense of what you love most." She slanted Halona an unreadable look. "My sister was protecting me when she died. I never got to thank her for that." With that, she stood up and cross to the window, peering out of it.
Malek crossed over to Halona, touching her shoulder and holding out a loose hand. An ember ignited within. "There's life." He snuffed out the flame. "And there's death, Halona." With his hand off her shoulder he engulfed his arms in flames and wrapped a wreath around her head, making her sweat. "Are you going to let yourself burn? Are you going to let the destructive life take you?!"
In one fell swoop, she opened up a crystalline container at her hip and water burst forth, extinguishing the flames. She jumped up, backing from Malek. "Death and murder isn't the same. When you take a life... you-you cross a path, and it, it is a dangerous one. I was taught
that life is valuable
, even moreso than a cause!"
Ace turned back towards them. "This was
, Halona," she said sharply, gesturing to the Nadir agent. "He attacked us first."
Malek nodded as he turned to fetch something behind him. "And make no mistake, Halona," as he turned around with a small candle still lit with his fire, "he would have left no soul for the aether to consume. He gave his life to the cause long before those knives snuffed his breaths." His head slowly turned to look down at the body bleeding out on the floor--it had been a mostly clean wound, puncturing the lungs, but he had nicked something in the process. "Aracelis..."
"Using my full name now, are we?" she drawled, trying not to look at the body again.
"Open the window." He knelt and picked the man up. "The clouds can keep secrets by now."
Ace snorted and turned to push the window open. "Tossing him out?" she asked, not looking back. "I can get behind that."
"I can't." Halona backed to the door. "Look. I get that it was self-defense. I don't condone it, but there's nothing I can do now. But, I will not be an accomplice to just...
Slowly, Ace turned back to her. She eyed Halona for a minute then stalked over to the other woman. "Do you think I enjoy killing people?" she asked in a low voice, hands planted firmly on her hips. "Do you think I
"No." She sighed deeply. "I want to believe --no, I do believe that you are good people. But... lines blur between right and wrong when you try to justify murder."
Malek, by the window, began to murmur under his breath, something Aracelis assumed he...must have thought no one could hear.
"Gud, voscr uqar rek kuir em sra bae omd bae; omd emsu asarmesae koae aeui sieda rek su kaa o bassar vosr. Akam."
(God, watch over his soul in the by and by; and into eternity may you guide him to see a better path. Amen.)
And, covering the sight of the window, himself, and the body in a wall of flames, he grunted--and the flames vanished, leaving just him with his fingers to his lips.
The silent moment was broken by Halona coughing. "I need to get ready for the gala. While I'm still going with Corrick, just know that I am still on your side. For... whatever happens next." She hesitated for a moment as if wanting to say more, but headed for the door.
As Malek thanked the other woman, lingering in the door, Ace turned to assess the cupboards. If they were going to be facing down these Nadir agents, Ace figured they needed a little more armor. She'd already found a bracer and new whip while they had been on their stealing spree. It had saddened her to set aside the worn leather whip she'd brought with her from Dressuin. It was rather fancy, and it handled extremely well. As she had demonstrated with Malek several minutes ago. Granted, he'd been injured, but still...
Finally, there was a slight click as the door was closed. Halona was probably long gone. Ace flicked a glance over her shoulder to find Malek leaning against the door, and strode over to the wardrobe. She began tugging at the clothes inside it. She was rather irritated now, especially after trying to calm Halona down by talking about the sky pirate attack that killed her sister.
Grumbling under her breath about stupid moral compasses, Ace set about raiding the wardrobe. As she tossed aside dresses and jackets, she reconsidered her words to the waterbender. She shouldn't have said anything. She really shouldn't have. Finding nothing of interest in the wardrobe, she moved on to the chest of drawers.
"Ace....what are you doing?" Malek fidgeted, getting his tux over his new leggings.
"Raiding the room again," she muttered and tugged at a particularly difficult drawer. "Obviously." She paused as the drawer slid open, nearly unbalancing her. Ace glanced towards Malek before she dug through it. She paused. "Oh,
," she purred as she pulled a beautifully crafted leather corset out of it. "I think I'll be keeping this."
Peering into the mirror behind Aracelis, Malek's grin suddenly vanished into a look of sheer curiosity and bemusement. "Ace?"
The fuck's a Corrick?
"How should I know?" Ace grunted and set aside the corset. She paused to give Malek a once over. "Nice suit." She grinned and turned back to the drawer, trying to hide her irritation and melachony over past events behind a flirty smile. "Hellooooo beautiful~"
Malek turned towards her just as she pulled several shiny copper-coloured scales out from between ridiculously soft cloths. "Is that--?"
, Desert Hare," Ace purred, holding the scales up high. "These are Nathernusk Wyvern scales."
Malek gave the scales a gentle stroke--as firm as any armor, but as soft to the touch as any downy bird's feathers. But Ace noted that his face was all wrong for the moment.
"Desert Hare? You are not
while stroking my scales. Why?"
Malek turned his attention to her eyes, where his glossed over a fierce fiery gold of determination. "There are two of us, correct?"
"It doesn't take
much math, Malek. Did the frightened Wall poison you?"
He took a small step closer, then another, placing his hands on her hips, his lips and nose on the scarf of the dress. "There are two men on this ship who want my head." He paused, closing his eyes. "And I can almost feel their strength, their resolve, and I am afraid, Ace. I'm afraid."
She sighed. "You think I'm not?" she asked softly, touching all the places where he'd recenntly been injured. "I just sent a man overboard for you, and then I helped you when I probably shouldn't have...and you don't even know who I am."
"I know you look stunning in Wyvern scales," he whispered. "And I know you can kill a man from thirty feet."
Ace snorted, gaze dropping to rest on the corset sitting on top of the chest of drawers. "You like the sexy-but-dangerous aspect, huh?" she asked, looking between the corset and the scales thoughtfully.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a Myaran man who doesn't--" He stopped, shocked, and pulled back, suddenly stricken with a plan.
"Why don't we chat...on our way to the gala?" He raised his eyebrows and smirked.
Ace eyed him for a moment, then spun to pick up the corset. "Come help me with this first." She held up the scales and the corset, grinning widely. "If we're going to be thrown into a fight, I think I'd like some armor first, don't you think?"
Between the corset, the dress, and her jewelry, Ace felt, by the time they had entered the grand pagoda, that Malek was simply underdressed.
A large man with many rings on his fingers approached them, bowing. "Your entry fee will be twenty gold each, sir, madame."
"...but we have tickets," she muttered, holding them out. The man glanced at them.
"Sorry, sir, madame," the man said, shrugging. "Just making sure all the proper guests are here."
Ace frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means he wants the party to swing in the White Direction."
"Sir, I think you mean the
Malek grinned, forking over the coins for them both. "Exactly what I said, Galaman. Exactly. What. I said." Letting them through, Aracelis held her palm to her chest and gasped at the beauty that had become the Grand Pagoda.
"I'm supposed to be dancing here," Ace muttered under her breath, eyes darting all over the beautiful Pagoda. She leaned in close to add; "Don't let Rylin see me, will you?"
"Wind Daisy, you're gonna do much better than dance tonight." Malek smirked. "You're gonna go fishing."
"Fishing?" Ace's eyebrows rose. "Why, that sounds rather fun..."
"I bow to
, my one and only master."
"No one screws Yamcha but life!" - Bulma, DBZ Abridged.
All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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