by Amanda Cast
A Bad Day
“I am tired of this,” the Lady of Varanar said. “Finish them.”
“That is enough!” Serene yelled before the hatchlings and Greg could open their mouths in protest. “I am tired of everyone trying to kills us. I am tired of people trying to take the hatchlings away from us. Get your black ass down here and fight us yourself if you find us so unworthy. We’ll kill you just as easily as we will these three.”
“Bold words for a foolish little child,” the Lady of Varanar said.
“Bold words for someone who is afraid of children,” Serene said.
“Just kill them,” Varanar said.
“That is murder if not execution,” Serene said and stamped her leather clad foot hard into the sand. “We are challenging you, you bitch. It is as official as I can make it with as little as I’m wearing. You are being challenged by children in front of Elves and Dragons alike.”
Pandora was uncertain if she liked where this was going or not.
“I have nothing to prove to you,” she sneered. “The challenge is not over.”
“That is a lie,” Serene shouted. Light flashed in her eyes as she bowed up.
She shouted something to the paralyzed guards but they shook their heads and sheathed their weapons. The woman in charge shouted something back and then the three left the arena.
“Well, that was easy,” Pandora said. “And you shouldn’t have called her that so that the—“
“Will you just stop it already?” Serene asked. “Cussing is the worst of their worries for bad habits,” she said. “They just saw us kill four people.”
“Manners and decorum…”
Serene rolled her eyes and looked away from her cousin. “What do you have to say to that?” she shouted to the Lady of Varanar. “Either to relent and admit that we’re strong enough to do what we must do or you come down and fight us. You were all about strength earlier. Apparently courage is not part of qualities your people value.”
“There is no courage in fighting children,” she replied.
“I agree with the half-breed,” the leader of one of the Dragon clans said. “They have fought to the death. If you still believe they are unworthy then you should fight them.”
Pandora watched her face, but she could not see the subtle transition in it. She could feel it though. It was as if two children were pulling on the rope that were of equal strength. Both were unwilling to give in to their competitor. Both would pull until they were exhausted, but then Pride chose a side.
“Fine, I will kill you,” she said and left the balcony.
She did not take the time to prepare as Pandora and Serene had. She walked right down to them in her robes. She pulled out her sword and did not wait for the metal gate to close behind her before she lunged for Serene.
Serene flashed up a barrier and she fell back. The hilt jumped back in her hand and the woman swore. Pandora had allowed her claws to fade back into her normal hands. She took the opportunity to reform her claws and then she rushed into the Lady of Varanar.
Pandora was passed the primary useage of the blade, but she could still be hammered by the pommel. Her claws found the armor but could not get passed. She called the acid too late. It fell uselessly onto the sand and fizzled as she was thrown back. Her arm hurt from the blow.
She turned back to Serene, but Serene was not there. Serene was beside Pandora when she turned back around, helping her cousin to her feet.
“Children should not fight adults,” she said and pulled back for a slice that could possibly cut through both of them in their unarmored state.
Pandora shoved her cousin down and jumped back. She lunged at the elf while she was attempting to recover. Again, she managed to get passed the blade, and again she was struck by the pummel. This time it was her other arm. She also felt something side into her shoulder. She stumbled back.
“Fine, I’ll kill you first,” she said to Pandora and turned to her.
Pandora tried to move her right arm, but something stopped her. The electric shock of pain struck her torso and she reached up to find what was there. It was a dagger. She gripped it, but the action hurt her even more and she let it go and backed away from the woman.
“What? A little pain is going to stop you?” she asked and held her blade out at a point. Pandora got to her feet and her right arm stayed limply at her side. “Shame power was wasted on a weak human.” She jerked and her eyes widened before she stumbled forward.
The blade slid easily into Pandora. Pandora blinked. She was uncertain if it had actually happened, but she could still feel the intrusion. There was no pain, just an uncomfortable sensation of something intruding into her body.
“Not how I planned it,” she said, “But it will work.
Pandora frowned and then threw up her hands and dug her fingers into the elf’s skull. Something snapped in her shoulder, but she was dieing. The pain meant that she was alive. Her death would not be in vain. She could feel the acid dripping off of the tips of her claws and into her killer’s brain.
“You will not touch my children or my cousin,” she said quietly and both of them collapsed into the sand.
“No!” Serene screamed. “Pandora?”
She heard her name higher up and turned her head to see the hatchlings. They were moving away from the railing and Greg was staring down at her. He was saying something. She concentrated on his voice. He was calling her name. She smiled faintly.
“Pandora,” Serene said again and landed on her knees beside her. “We have to get you away,” she said and started to tug on her hips. “Oh, gods, she… she… oh god,” she cried. “Don’t die Pandora. Please, don’t die. Don’t die.”
“Serene?” Pandora said softly. “Please, get the hatchlings out of here. I don’t want them near our children. Don’t… please… don’t stay here.”
“Stop talking. You’ll rip something else. Gods look a your shoulder. I’ll need your help. Don’t pass out. Please don’t pass out.” She gripped the hilt of the dagger in her shoulder and jerked it roughly. It did not come loose. It only hurt. Pandora screamed in pain, but pain was good. It meant she wasn’t dead yet.
“No, you’re not going to die, damn it,” she said. “you can’t die. You can’t leave me. I love you, Pandora.”
“Oh, thank the gods, Greg, you’re here,” she said, but Pandora could not see him. She could not see.
“I’m dieing,” Pandora told them.
“No, you’re not,” Serene told her. “Greg, pull out the sword.”
“What? She’ll bleed to death,” she heard Greg say.
“Just pull the damn thing out,” Serene screamed.
She felt it slide out. It hurt worse than when it went in. She groaned. She could feel her blood all over her midriff. It was hot and smelled of salt and iron. “I love you, Serene.”
“Well, you did it again,” a familiar voice said in that familiar sarcastic way. “Do you want to die?”
“Hm?” Pandora opened her eyes. She was in the white room again. No, the white space that stretched on into eternity. She ran her hands over her torso and shoulder. There was no pain. “Am I… I mean, are we dead?”
“No, not yet anyway. What in the world were you thinking?”
“I didn’t challenge her,” Pandora said defensively and got to her feet. “Serene challenged her.”
“Serene is crazy and needs to get her temper in control,” her subconscious said, “But then you already knew that. We knew it was a bad idea from the get go, but you know how she is. I can’t blame her though. She was infuriating.”
“Yeah, she didn’t do that reputation of the underdark elves any favors.”
“They are a bunch of freaks,” the subconscious said. “Can you believe that whole cat thing? Fuh-reaks,” she said and sat down right into a chair that suddenly appeared. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take Serene to revive you or even if she will. You were pretty heavily injured.”
“Well, you were. There is no guessing to it.” She rolled her eyes and crossed her legs at the knees and her foot bounced up and down.
Pandora sighed. “I really do hate myself,” she said.
“Obviously. You never let me come out and play. You have to try and kill yourself for me to even get to talk to you.”
Pandora looked away from her subconscious. “Why do you have to be so annoying?”
“I’m no more annoying than Serene is. Actually, I’m a lot like her. I bet her subconscious is a lot like you. Oooo, conflicting.”
Pandora sighed again. “And we were talking about the UD elves being freaks,” Pandora said, though she had not really intended to do so. She sighed heavily once again.
“We really aren’t that strange, I’m sure. Plenty of people have subconsciouses.”
“So, what did you want to tell me this time?”
“Oh, I just wanted to slap you and call you an idiot. I can’t believe you get yourself into these messes. If we survive this, I swear to God that I am going to kill you and take over.”
“The thought of that makes me feel sick.”
“Oh, that’s just you waking up.”
“Great. Time to get away from you.”
Her subconscious rolled her eyes.