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Vetia

My arms hurt. They hurt like a motherfucker the whole time. Every hour of the day. Didn’t help that I couldn’t sleep anymore. Laying in that shitty cot felt like a prison. Mother Yeline eventually stopped visiting once she had checked all my organs for the last time. I wasn’t getting any energy back, both kinds I guess. Magic energy and stamina energy. It was tiring, laying and not being able to do anything. I had a change of course a few days after the guys left town. Some new people showed up. I heard some voices, but only saw two of them. One was a woman with a haircut like those pissy moms at the supermarket who always yell for the manager, except she had a neat side braid. There were also her piercing orange eyes, which were oddly cool. She looked like a freckled Italian who spent her entire life lifting and seemed like she was probably the daughter of some rich noble. Her clothes looked like orange silk and she had solid gold earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. She was jewelried the fuck out, almost too much. Unfortunately, her personality matched that of the bitchy supermarket mom, so I tried not to talk to her much. I saw her for the first time when she was carrying her guy friend in.

She set him down on the cot across from me, the only other cot big enough for a human. I looked up at them for a second and she was already glaring at me. I looked at her confused, without the energy to bicker and then snooped on them at my pleasure. The guy had bandages around his chest and shoulder, with some blood soaking into the loose cloths. He looked similar to the woman, probably her twin, with similar freckled, tanned skin and straight brown hair that was longer than hers. His face had strong features, with defined cheeks and a jawline that could cut glass. Both of them had sharp, strong faces, were seriously well endowed with looks and absolutely ripped. He was wearing shiny orange pants and a pale orange shirt that looked equally as expensive as her’s, though more worn.

The woman turned to me, a snappy voice at the ready. “Are you gonna sit there and stare or help us, peasant?”

I remembered not being in the mood for bickering, but something deep within me saw the opportunity to sass this woman. Nobility, wealth, strength aside, I wanted to piss her off now.

“My apologies, milady. Which of my shattered arms would you like me to lift him with?”

I smiled courtly and tried to be as regal as I could with two broken arms. She looked me dead in the eyes. I could tell she realized her mistake too late, but she looked prideful, and she seemed irritated by my comment. Perfect.

She raised herself from leaning over him and stood tall. “No need to strain yourself, you look pathetic enough. Just lay back down and be quiet so I can attend to my brother.” I know she was trying to stop the argument, but she just irritated me and I was too tired to have good judgment.

“Are you sure you’re capable? You did ask for the help of a crippled peasant just a moment ago. That’s not very befitting of nobility.”

Not my best retort, but she seemed like she was getting pissed off at me. I tried hiding my smile, but it only ended up in me looking smug at her.

She walked over to my bedside and got in my face. She was quiet, but very stern. “Keep quiet or I will stuff your mouth full of sheets so I don’t have to hear you anymore.”

It definitely wasn’t a good idea to keep egging her on, but I did consider that I had two broken arms that I could leverage in case she got hostile. I summoned those few years of doing theater for my one grand performance here.

“O, a tyrant. Threatening silence on innocent people and worse yet, the injured and ill. How the kingdom weeps for its future.”

Her face was turning red and she raised a hand up, like she really wanted to hit me. She definitely had major anger problems and if I hadn’t been so entertained, I may have thought twice about continuing.

She was practically growling through her teeth at this point, “I did not come here to play semantics with a crippled tragedian, so I’ll put it in a way that a crass idiot like you can understand: shut the fuck up.”

She sighed and stepped away. I couldn’t think of anything to say back and that was probably for the better, she seemed like she’d had enough of everything. She sat down next to her brother’s cot and put her head in her hands, stressed out.

After taking a long breath, she looked up and quietly vented to herself, “Why did the week have to end like this? Fucking shit, fuck me.”

“That an invitation?”

I was slightly grinning and I spoke before my brain could tell me how bad an idea it was. The burning slap of her leather glove across my face shot me back to reality. She stepped back to her brother, looking disgustedly at me.

The next few hours were nothing but awkward silence that I purposely interrupted by making loud breathing, sighs and groans from pain. I could feel hunger eating away at me, but I suppressed it as much as I could, as I had been.

I got bored and anxious in my imagination after a while and stood up. I had walked around a little, but the doctor said I shouldn’t be moving much at all, or the shards could cause bleeding in my shoulders and arms. I could sure as hell feel the jabs, but my boredom was overcoming the pain. I used my feet to drag my satchel from under my bed and grabbed my book's cover between my toes, tossing it onto my cot. The woman was looking at me like I was the grossest thing I had ever seen for picking something up with my foot.

I sat down on the bed, using my feet to hold the book open and flip through the pages. I had started reading about the types of sigils and shapes, and the implications of them all. I hadn’t touched it after breaking my arms because I was irritated that I did something wrong and knew that I wouldn’t be able to try and fix my mistake until my arms were fixed. As far as I read, I let the energy take too much control of me in that three shape sigil. I only got as far as tricels before I was interrupted.

As I was reading, I felt the woman stepping over to me. I couldn’t explain it well, but it was like every person I encountered had an aura about them that I could feel. Everyone’s aura was similar, like a soft green glow that permeated their entire body, but it didn’t interfere with my vision at all. And regardless of if I could see or not, I could sense these auras around me, who they belonged to and what they were feeling. I memorized this woman’s pretty quickly because of how much I really didn’t want to interact with her anymore.

I looked up at her and tried to casually cover the pages with my feet. She was just looking down at the book I was covering. I glanced down and then up again at her.

“What, you into my feet or something? Sorry, that wasn’t part of the offer.” She glared at me, sighed, and went back to sitting next to her brother. “You were so eager to talk earlier, what’s up now? Am I peasant-ing too close to you?”

She sounded monotone, “What’s that book?”

“Why does it matter?”

“I saw sigils in it. You’re an energist, no?” She sounded exasperated and tired after I kept hiding it from her.

“I’ve done some in my time, yeah.”

“What’s your specialty?”

“Healing.”

She seemed to perk up at that mention. “Do you have a sigil in that book that can extract poison from a body?”

“What kind of poison?”

“A paralytic.”

I awkwardly flipped through the pages with my toes, looking for sigils that might be useful. “Why do you need it?”

She got a little snappy, “Why do you think? My brother hasn’t been able to move or wake up in days.”

“And you waited until now to ask me if I could help? Why can’t Mother Yeline do anything?”

“She’s combing through books in the locked underground archive across town. She said she hasn’t seen something like this in years, and the others are taking the wagon to Weyferin to try and find something. Mother Yeline was supposed to be the best healer around, but she’s been useless.” She looked anxious again. “What is taking you so long? Can’t you find something?”

“First off, Mother Yeline is a saint compared to you.” She was looking angry at me again. “Don’t even think about slapping me again, or I’m not doing shit for your brother.”

She sat still, but I could see her hands shaking. That must have hit a nobility sore spot of some kind.

I found something in the book. It was a tetracel that remotely used energy to extract poisons through the pores of the skin. I didn’t think I could do a tetracel though, especially with broken arms. Then I looked at the pages I was holding down with my feet. Shit, I wondered if I could use my feet. I took a moment, and focused the energy in my body to my toe. There wasn’t much, but I could probably activate the sigil as long as I controlled it and kept it from draining me like the tricel did.

“Hey Miss Nobility, have you studied energy?”

“Yes, why?” That name seemed to irritate her, but she was being oddly compliant, probably for her brother.

“You know how to draw and activate shapes?”

“Yes, what are you trying to ask? Be succinct.”

“Oh my- you’re such a- nevermind. I’ll do one that can extract poison, but you’re going to be the one who draws the shape for me.”

Her face contorted somehow more confused and pissy than it already was. I didn’t think it was possible. “What the hell are you babbling about?”

“Well, Miss No-bitch-ity, as I said before, my arms are shattered and I can’t draw with them. But if you want me to fix your dying brother, you can pick up my leg and draw the shapes as I tell you to.”

She stood up and pulled the book from my feet. She was scowling after I called her that. Hilarious. “Hold out your foot and let me do it myself.”

“I think you’ll find that it won’t work.”

“Just shut the fuck up.” She picked up my leg and began tracing what I imagined the sigil looked like, but there was nothing.

“I haven’t memorized it, and I don’t know what it looks like, so it won’t cast. Now give me the fucking book so we can both see it while we do this. It’s called teamwork, probably something you suck at judging by your brother’s condition.”

It was a low blow, but this woman was getting annoyingly haughty and I was in too much pain to be nice.

She threw my leg down and got in my face in a flash. I felt warm steel against my throat and she gritted her teeth as she spoke. “You know nothing of why any of this happened. If you order me around again and keep opening your worthless mouth, I’ll cut your throat out where you sit.”

I’ll admit, it was the most startled I had ever been, but I was equally as pissed off at her for holding a dagger to my throat, which helped my composure. “Your brother’s been out for what, four, five days? I don’t know how he’s not dead already, but he’s damn near close. Woman, if you don’t take your pigstick off of my throat, I’ll let him die. And if you kill me, he’s dead no matter what. I’m doing this to help your useless ass help your brother. Take it for what it is and pick up my leg and work with me here. Then we don’t ever have to see each other again.”

“No, you’re going to prison for disrespect of nobility and threats against the life of a noble. You’ll rot away forever regardless.” She pulled the dagger away and grabbed my leg. “Let’s go.”

“No.” I just stared at her.

“What?” Her eyes snapped over to me, furious.

I looked at her like the idiot she was. “I’m not helping you if I’m just going to end up in prison for life anyway.”

“You’ve been nothing but a disrespectful, rude wench to me and my brother, who are worth more than you could ever imagine. If you think you’re in any position to negotiate-”

“Okay then he dies.” I smiled at her as smugly as I could. This was my only bargaining chip and I was really stretching it now.

Her rage was palpable, beyond anything I had ever seen. “Fine, I won’t imprison you.” A sadistic smile grew on her face after saying that. I didn’t trust it.

“Swear on your brother’s life.”

“I swear on my brother, Tarynn Amien, that you will face no prison time for what has transpired in this room.” She still had a demonic smile on her face.

I hated this woman, but I knew that saving him was now my only bet at not being killed on the spot. I raised my leg to her and she began jerking it around in the shapes. “Hey, be careful with my leg. This isn’t an easy sigil.”

“I know, I’m scribing it with your shitty leg.”

We began drawing. The first shape was the bottom half of a circle with waves on top of it. She was tracing fast and the shape scattered as she was at the trough of the middle wave. I was flabbergasted at her ineptitude.

“Holy shit, that was the first shape.”

“Your leg is stiff! Loosen it!”

We started again, and the first shape bolded in the air. The next shape was three wavy lines going to a point above the waves. I held my leg as loose as possible for her and she started pulling it too far. “Hey! Hey!” I couldn’t balance myself with my slinged arms and I was falling off the right side of the cot. She threw out her left hand and grabbed my bicep, pushing me back onto the bed by my shattered limb. “Fuck fuck fuck! My fucking arm!” She finished the shape, which bolded.

Wiping her left hand on the sheets and grimacing at me, “That is disgusting. It’s like a wet sack of sand.” She seemed to take pleasure in watching my pained expression.

The searing pain in my arm made it hard to focus, but I began focusing on the third shape. This one was a top half circle that intersected the bottom of the other half circle, making it look almost like an hourglass. This one was pretty simple, so it didn’t take much effort from either of us, but I could feel her fingers digging into my leg, grasping it as hard as she could. The shape bolded and her grip loosened a little. She looked at me for the next one, which was sure to be the hardest.

“Yeah, I’m ready.”

It was a wavy clockwise spiral that went in a circle five times before reaching the center. It was small and had to be placed inside the upper half of the hourglass, so it was precise. Not something to be done with somebody else’s foot. Our attempt was slow, I could feel sweat dripping down my forehead. Her hands were gripping my calf so hard that my leg felt like it was going to seize.

“Loosen up a little.”

Her grip tightened as a reaction to me saying that, and I felt my muscles tighten and my foot spasmed upward, breaking the shape. Her eyes whipped daggers at me and I was staring just as intensely back.

“If you grab my leg that hard, I can’t control when my foot spasms. Lighten it up or grab my foot itself.” She grudgingly grabbed my foot, which twitched as she began maneuvering it. “Okay, that’s tickling me, don’t touch the bottom of my foot.”

“For fuck’s sake, just control yourself.” She pulled my leg into position, holding it under her left arm and grabbed the top of my foot with her right hand.

“Go! Start it. The sigil can’t be suspended forever.”

The entire sigil was beginning to quiver, so she started the wavy spiral. The first time around the spiral was successful. The second was good. On the third, she shifted her grip and I could feel her fingers digging into the bottom of my foot. I held it tight so it wouldn’t move though. Fourth was successful. Finally, the fifth one, the smallest, most precise one. She was struggling with it, the spirals were too close to meeting and the waves were getting too big.

I tried to be calming and said, “Take it easy, just hone it in.”

She slowly adjusted and reached the end of the spiral. The shape bolded and both of us let out a heavy sigh of relief.

“How do we activate it?” She seemed frantic, reading the page.

“Let go of me, I’ve gotta push it in the direction of the person. I can kick it toward him.” She let go of my leg and I started falling. “I need you to hold my back up, I can’t aim right like this.”

She came to my side and held me by my shoulders, gripping them tightly. I adjusted my leg, and prayed to my soccer-playing days that I could aim right. I pressed my foot out and the shape started slowly floating toward him. I overshot it.

“Go lift him up!”

She ran over as quickly as she could and raised him up to meet the floating sigil. The sigil impacted his chest and a light green glow appeared above him. She set him down, and we watched streams of green light flow out of his skin, evaporating into the floating green sphere in the air. It was slowly turning darker as it was absorbing the toxins. As I was watching, I felt my vision going fuzzy and my head was spinning. It felt like it was draining my energy, like the other sigil did, but I didn’t think I was letting this one go out of control. It must have begun fizzling, because she ran back over to me, holding the dagger to my throat again.

“You keep that sigil going or I’m gouging your throat open.” She sounded almost like she was desperate, but it was hard to tell.

“I’m tryin’… you colossal bitch,” I slurred out.

I could barely focus or think to speak, but as I said that, I felt a twinge of pain in my neck as she began cutting into it lightly and growling at me. It gave me enough of a jolt that I was able to focus my energy and stay awake as the sigil completed and it stopped sapping my energy. I laid there limply and I heard a new voice.

“Simira? Where am I?” It was the man’s voice.

“Brother, you’re awake!” Her tone had completely lightened up.

Simira. Simira Amien. That was one of the things going through my head as I slowly grew cold and faded. Thinking about how to get back at her in the meanest way possible. The other thought was: "I’ve gotta stop using magic until I learn to not kill myself with it."

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About the author

Ren Cory

Bio: I'm an amateur writer, but I've got a story in my head that I want to tell. What I write won't always be amazing, but I really think it will get better with experience. I love reading and watching anything fantasy, scifi and anything in that sort of wheelhouse. I've always been inspired by those genres to be creative and do my own thing, creating entirely new worlds, histories, creatures, plants and the whatnot. I like trying out new ideas in the genres I love.

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