The fel-hunter faded from sight as it collided with the metal walls of Selena’s home in Gnomeregan. “Mom…?” Her voice was quiet. “Dad?” Time passed by, maybe an hour? She wasn’t sure. There was no response. Their apartment was silent.


It was silent because…Selena shut her eyes, curling into a ball, she couldn’t think about it. Wouldn’t.


“My, my…this is a mess, isn’t it? I wonder what happened here.”


Selena felt the heat from a conjured flame as the intruder walked closer. The room was now lit up. She woudn’t look. She would sit there forever.


“Looks like a horrible…accident.” The other gnome gripped Selena’s arm and pulled the girl to her feet. Selena staggered, her eyes were still refusing to open fully, tears streamed down her face. “Shh, shh, accidents happen. Sometimes we play with toys we aren’t ready to handle yet.”


Selena’s eyes opened to see she was held by a white-haired gnome woman in blue robes. A flame was in her free hand, lighting up the entire room. Maybe it was all a dream…this woman wouldn’t be so calm if…


One glance past the stranger and Selena was screaming. The rug, the floor, everything. It was darkened by stains. She twisted away from the mage, but was held tightly in place. “I…didn’t…I didn’t…mean to. I swear…I didn’t. Wasn’t me. Wasn’t me.”


The woman smiled gently. “Of course it wasn’t, Selena. Sometimes…we mess up. Sometimes we do things…we don’t want to do. But sometimes, we do horrible things because they’re necessary, for a greater cause.”


Greater cause? What? Selena could barely focus on what the mage was saying. She couldn’t breathe and her right hand was glued into a painful fist.


“We don’t always understand at first…why these things must happen, but, Selena, I’m willing to help you. Other people…they won’t help. They won’t understand. They’ll just…toss you in a cell somewhere and you’ve been through so much, poor girl. You don’t want to hurt anymore, do you?”


Selena slowly shook her head and realized they’d crossed the room. She didn’t remember moving. She didn’t remember the last few hours. Except the shouting, the begging, the—the lady’s blue eyes looked so nice and kind. Looked familiar, but she couldn’t remember from where. “N-no.”


“That’s a good girl. You can call me Ceera. You can come home with me and I bet there will be a nice, warm batch of muffins waiting. But first…you should drop that knife.”


Selena blinked and looked down to her right hand, it was covered in dried blood, and the dagger was speckled with it as well. Her night-gown…she shook her head and let the weapon fall to the floor, flexing her stiff fingers. “But…we should…go to the guard.”


“Yes, dear, we will.” Ceera hurried her from the apartment.


When they stepped outside, Selena looked back into the dark family room, frowning. Something bad had happened there…in that house. She couldn’t recall what. “Where are we going again, Miss Ceera?”


“Home, dear.”


Selena nodded. Home sounded good. She liked home and muffins. Not this place. Wherever this dark, scary house was.

Water began to spray from the ceiling. An insane amount of water. It almost looked like tiny waterfalls falling from the cracks in the wood above. A red light flashed and an alarm blared. The sickly green flames, though, somewhat diminished, still managed to meet their target. Robin had thrown her arms in front of her face to protect herself. Protect herself? From what? Inevitable death? Holy, fel, she was stupid sometimes. The corrupting fire hit one of her fists and forearm, but water from above, quickly doused it. The burning sensation didn’t fade.


Burning? She was burning?! NOT DEAD! For a moment, Robin forgot about the crazed demon-power wielding gnome-girl on the other side of the room. She couldn’t hear a damn thing over the alarm, much less see much through the tiny rainstorm and spinning lights. She’d been saved by Star’s fire-defense system. Her sister was a genius. Completely psychopathic and insane, but a GENIUS!


A bolt of pure shadow struck the wall about a foot away from Robin. All the delirious happiness from still being alive drained from her mind. The warlock was still there. She was still in danger, but, at least, the other gnome couldn’t see very well right now either. That was good.


Good? What in the fel is good about this? I’m still going to die. Or…


The idea was completely crazy. But assuming…Selena’s bolts were moving in a straight line from their casting point…Robin began jumping up and down and screaming, waving her arms around, green chi shooting from her hands into the air to signal where she was.


Another ball of shadow shot through the steady indoor rain at Robin. She rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding it as it sent splinters flying. One of them struck her in the cheek. She crawled to the shattered spot and positioned her body in what she thought was a straight line. She hoped like all fel Mister Oxplow was right about her having an uncanny ability with chi manipulation because she’d never attempted a flying serpent kick before.


Robin jumped forward and began pushing out chi to keep herself aloft as she shot forward. A split second later she saw Selena. The other girl’s eyes were transfixed on the flying gnome. The next moment, Robin’s foot collided with the warlock’s face, but not with as much force as she’d originally started with. For a moment, Robin wasn’t even sure if she’d actually hit, but when she tumbled to the floor very ungracefully and saw the red streaming from Selena’s nose…she knew it was probably broken. Or worse.


The imp. She’d forgotten about the imp. The demon was flinging balls of fire at the fallen monk while Selena tried to recover from her wound…wounds. Robin realized her kick, though, imperfect had pushed the warlock into the wall. Good, she’d inflicted more than a severe nosebleed.


Not many of the flames that made it to Robin managed to stay burning for very long. But, they hurt. She charged closer to the imp and…also…kicked it right in its face, the kick was backed with chi like the other had been, but with more precision. The imp was stunned.


Robin blinked. Or…I can kick some ass. That works, too. She looked back to where the warlock was standing…to find Selena was gone. The girl was running, slipping and sliding across the room to the door. The imp was hopping after. They both moved pretty fast for being injured. Robin stayed where she was and watched as the girl and demon made it to the door and slid out of it. Selena didn’t pause to close it.


After another minute, the door closed itself and the water stopped, it seemed to be draining into some metal contraption that had risen up from below the floorboards. The books were, miraculously, not wet, but the rest of the room was a mess. Papers were soaked and plates were lying on the floor, smashed to pieces, not to mention the damaged walls. The alarm ceased blaring and the light finally flickered off.


Robin stood in Star’s living room, wondering how she was going to explain this. Realized she was alive. Not only alive. She’d just kicked a warlock in the face. For a very brief time she felt proud. A very brief time. What was that memory…she’d shared with Selena…all those years ago? The girl had murdered her own family. Ceera had taken Selena away to be used in the vessel experiments. But…


“It…wasn’t her.”  Robin gulped as she stared at the wreckage. The burns needed to be tended to, but she would wait for Star to get home. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but…was it possible? Could it be possible…that Ceera still had sway over some of them? She sighed, knowing it was either that, or Selena had been more damaged by the experience than any of them had. 

Author Robin
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