aralli: (larp)
Found these lying around today.

Well, being up against Barel can’t be too bad. As they take their places, Thalassa rubs her hands together, going over the vocals of her sleep spells in her head. The armoured types aren’t going to fall for that, but the lowest level should be enough to gently drop the hydromancer so she can’t contest a victory. Thalassa is nervous, remembering what happened the last time she went into an arena, but there are no gloating Tarantraal, no leering ringmasters, and this time, she’s not alone. One of the Defenders on the other team says something about everything being in good fun, or whatever it is warriors say when they mean ‘I’m going to beat you to pieces, but it’s not because I dislike you’, and before Thalassa realises it the contest has begun.

Sticking behind Smyrna, Silas and Halamar, Thalassa tries to edge around to get close enough for her spell. Her fingers tingle with the incipient power, her focus narrows on Barel, and she forms the first words.

“By Air –”

Only the next word, the last word, doesn’t come. Ice shoots through Thalassa’s body, gripping her skin and running into her veins, down her bones. She can’t move. The water mage froze her. She is stuck with her hands raised, staring in front, as Barel darts out of view.

It’s all happened so fast that Thalassa hasn’t had time to feel much of a reaction, but the next few seconds are far, far too long. Two of the Defenders spot her. They turn, march towards her, one of them raising his mace while the other smiles. And she can’t move, can’t run, can’t do anything.

Laughter fills her ears. Each step the two men take towards her is long enough for her to start laughing, to mockingly form the first part of those words. One of the men is still smiling. They’re coming towards her. The brick (mace? club? bar?) is being hefted. She can’t move. She’s inside the square cell, staring at the ceiling. There’s no escape; there never has been, she’s chained and helpless. Her body fills with acidic dread. The weapon is coming towards her, the spikes glinting like Vitrion glass, filling her vision –

Pin your ears –

* * *

Thalassa screams. The cry is torn from her lungs by terror and memory, and she doesn’t realise that she can move, tumbling from the bench on which her body appeared. She’s ready for the next blow, for the hot liquid pain that replaces each joint, but it’s not there.

The next shriek turns into a sob. She’s trapped, and she’s not, she’s there, and she’s not, she couldn’t move and they were coming towards her and now she has no idea where she is, just that she doesn’t hurt when she should and everything she’s pushed away has come back. She moans, clutching herself and rocking, covering her ears to shut her up and keep her out. It’s futile.

She’s being held by someone, which means she’s not there, but she can hear the laughter, which means she is. “I can’t move,” she gasps, even though there’s no one there to hear. “They’re coming and I can’t move and I can hear her voice in my head.”

The confusion is overwhelming, and Thalassa has only token resistance when someone lifts her head and makes her look at them. It’s Smyrna. Thalassa blinks uncomprehendingly as the Amazon speaks, her words only slowly forming sounds she recognises. Smyrna tells her to find her talisman, that it will prove she’s not on Tarantraal. Thalassa fumbles with leaden fingers at the cord around her neck, losing it and finding it and tugging, and eventually there’s a little wool bag clutched in her hand and she can feel the shape of a scroll inside it. Her promise to herself. Her vow not to be defeated. She squeezes it in both hands and sucks in a breath, relief washing through her body and leaving it drained and exhausted. She’s not there. Whatever happened, she’s not there.

As the acute terror clears, Thalassa takes in her surroundings. She’s in the feasting hall, and Halamar and Smyrna are with her, and there are strangers and colleagues around looking worried or bemused. It’s not like that first week, when she needed to hear voices to keep away hers. Now, she can feel all their eyes on her, remember that half of them can see dominated branded on her, and fear them knowing. It’s not going to go away if every single one of them can tell what happened to her.

She surges to her feet, and runs.

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aralli

November 2014

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