Monday, 13 July 2009
06:56:14 AM (GMT)
Gaaah! I can't believe the ending was cut off... I didn't save it! I'll try to
rewrite it. Um... Well I'll do my best.
Just then Eichiro burst through the door. He looked mad. So did the kid. I guess he
didn't know what interrogation methods I'd meant after all, and didn't approve. Which
I suppose makes sense, if you consider where the poor guys been the last few years.
So Eichiro's looking at me, and I've got a knife in my hand, which must seem pretty
bad, and he looks at the kid tied to the chair, and the kid is looking at both of us,
squinting and blinking behind his glasses, like he's trying to figure out what's
going on, glare at Eichiro, and get the water out of his eyes.
"I thought it was odd that you wanted to talk to him alone, but I never thought
you would be this stupid! Or this cruel. He can use magic Takuya, and better
then you. He could have called for help, set himself free, attacked you, or attacked
anyone else in this castle. But did you think that you shouldn't make a magic user
angry or desperate? Did you think that you should have another magic user down here
to make sure he didn't try anything? Did you think to ask me before torturing
a prisoner? Did-" I cut him off and made a gesture to calm him down. There was a big
part of me that was relieved, going "oh phew, he stopped you in time. You don't
have to do it now." I should have stopped what I was doing right then. I just
couldn't stop though, somehow. What was doing was needed! Right?
"You're right. I was being stupid for not having a real mage down here. But he-
the kid- knows something Eichiro! A lot of somethings. And since he has a personal
grudge against us, he's hardly going to part with the information willingly. We're
running out of time, get it? Eichiro, I know this is hard for you, but we're on the
same side. You know magic, you can do this. I need your help." This last part was
kinda unfair to him. It felt wrong to say, like I was cheating or something. Still,
if we could find out what Shikuro was planning and stop it, wouldn't that be worth
"But... Takuya, this is wrong..." Eichiro said really quietly. And he
looked up at me- I'm pretty tall, and a few months older than him- and his eyes
are... I dunno, they look soft, hurt, really innocent. It touched me, seeing him like
that, it really did. But I plowed on.
"I know," I said, quietly, trying to comfort him, "Everything about this
situation is wrong. Now we're the ones who have to set it all right. This might be
part of how we're meant to do it." Eichiro slumped, like he had been carrying the
weight of the world on his shoulders for a long time, and it was getting pretty
heavy. His head hung, and his hair flopped in front of his face, then his breathing
sounded funny, so he was probably doing some of his breathing exercises.
After awhile though, he agreed.
How do you justify helping a friend do something wrong, something you know is
wrong? Something so wrong that you vowed to spend your life trying to stop it from
ever happening again?
Eichiro stood in a corner, chanting the spells needed to prevent the boy- Naono,
his name is Naono- from using magic, and trying to ignore what was going on only a
few feet away. There were no screams, no sobs, not even grunts. Nothing of what
Eichiro associated with the sound of torture. Maybe Naono had a very high tolerance
for pain. Maybe for him this could hardly even be considered inhumane.
Takuya was obviously bothered by it, deep down. He didn't seem able to face
Naono's identity as a person. Takuya wouldn't say his name. Takuya referred to his
captive only as "kid" or "the boy" since Eichiro had got there.
People seemed to think that speaking magic took more concentration then
memorizing individual spells, but Eichiro found it hard to tune out Takuya asking
questions in a clear voice, or the way his questions rang into the silence of the
room, or worst of all the sound of the poker and knife being picked up and set down.
That sort of sound was familiar- it was just a good thing that the sound of metal
connecting to skin was to quiet to be heard over his chanting. Just remembering the
sound made Eichiro sway, pushing back a tide of memories. Oblivious to the struggles
of the captors, time continued undaunted by the fact that Naono gave no information.
So the session went on.
The boy seemed to be in pain judging by his expression, but he didn't open his
Shikuro must be a really great leader to invoke this sort of loyalty. Without meaning
to, I started to respect the kid and his self control. And that made me mad. Like,
why is he making me go on like this? He's bad! He's helping Shikuro, he's hurt Mana
before, he wants Eichiro brought down, so I have every right to hate this stupid kid.
How is it that he's taking my rights without saying a word?
I was sweating from being so close to the fire. I didn't like admitting it, but
I was sweating from stress too. Eichiro was saying the same spells over and over with
rivers of sweat on his neck. I'd seen him hold shields without chanting, this was the
same thing right? Maybe he just wanted to be saying something so that he didn't have
to hear what was going on. Who even knows what's going on in his head to make him
sweat like that. I'm just as happy not having a clue. I was likewise happy not to
check if the boy was sweating. I didn't look, couldn't bear to. I didn't look at the
wounds after I made them either. My eye swerved immediately to the next blank piece
of skin, and after he didn't answer I looked away until it was time to put down the
weapon again. Maybe sweating is the worst part of this for him; maybe he doesn't want
me to see that this is getting to him. Don't worry about that, dude! And if he
was sweating, then the salt must hurt. How can he go on like this? How can he keep
If a thunderstorm gets trapped in a valley, then it gets more severe. If you
can't flinch away, or make a sound, or react to it in any way, pain gets worse too.
Naono tried without success to focus on anything besides what was going on. Whatever
he tried to think of lead back to the subject at hand. Oh, how his hand hurt.
Whenever you here people in books talking about being tortured, they say that
they wish for death after a certain point. Naono would much rather be unconscious, or
able to cry. How could he wish for death before he really lived?
Wow. This is much more depressing then the original...
TIME JUMP! (again).
After awhile I ran out of room on his arms and legs. I was too far gone to stop
by that point, so I untied him from the chair and had Eichiro hold him up, with
Eichiro's hands under the kids arms, so I could try getting to his back and stomach.
Looking back, I guess all three of us were trying not to really think about what was
going on, but I was the only one succeeding. Not that I'm proud of it or nothing.
I knew something was up because Eichiro sort of twitched and starred at the
basement door. These magic users- I just can't get a hang of how much they know. A
second later Mana comes pounding down the stairs, and she looks pissed. I'm talkin'
real livid. I almost laughed, even though it was the worst moment in history to do so
much as smile, because Mana's head was jerking between the three of us, like she
didn't know who to glare at more. Still, I was pretty freaked out by what was going
on at that point, okay? It's not that bad that I thought her head bobbing
around was funny.
Almost as soon as Mana entered the room Eichiro let go of the kid, so he just
sort of sank to the floor. He wasn't even trembling or anything; he just sat there,
leaning sideways against the wall, like a half melted chunk of wax.
Mana was shouting at us, of course. I didn't pay much attention to it; it was
futile to try to make someone like her understand. After awhile she seemed to want a
responce from me, so I tried to comfort her, and explain like I had done for Eichiro.
Mana wasn't having any of it though, and swung around to shout at Eichiro. She
does know he's a King, right? I wonder if Kings let teenage girls yell at
them. Even if he is her age. Gosh, Mana sure has a lot of hair. It was so much easier
to watch her black ponytail swing through the air then look down at the boy on the
floor. The hair fell next to her back. Swish, swish.
Mana was angry. She should be. She started yelling at Takuya, who tried to explain. I
think he knew that there was no explanation.
I was so glad to be able to put him down, to stop holding the spells I had
chanted hours ago, to stop restricting my facial expression. I don't know what I
looked like right then, I hope I didn't look smug- I certainly didn't feel
smug- but it made Mana turn to start shouting at me. I probably could have cut her
off, but what good what it do? If I couldn't face Mana, then I'd never be able to
"I could almost expect Takuya doing something as horrid as this, but how
could you?" It wasn't a question. "I thought you of all people would know this
is wrong Eichiro. I got a bad feeling when you got held back on whatever trip you
were on, but I assumed that you just had something fairly unpleasant to take care of.
"There is no way to disguise my guilt. I came down to make sure this wasn't
happening but... Well, we- I thought we needed information." I said. It wasn't
accurate to say Mana glared daggers at me; she was glaring razor sharp icicles.
"What, pray tell, did he reveal that was so enlightening that it justifies what
you've done?" Mana demanded. Ice from her gaze crept down my spine. Stronger men than
me would shiver at her tone, and I doubted now you'd have to look very far to find a
stronger man than I was. I was weak, pathetic. I was lower than a worm, and I was in
some ways lower than Naono on the floor.
"Nothing... He wouldn't betray Shikuro. What we did to try to force him was
despicable." I heard the words coming out of my mouth and wanted to scream at myself.
The years of training in diplomacy seemed to have wedged themselves between my
feelings and my lips. I wanted to cry, to go give myself a timeout and let her deal
with it. I wanted to just tell her that what I had done was wrong, wrong,
wrong, that I felt bad, and I was bad, and Takuya was bad. Why did I sound so
detached, so calm? The words I really wanted to say seemed trapped inside me, behind
the lump in my throat.
Why couldn't I just take it all back?
We had all been traveling, like we did so often. We were already in sight of
Arisa's castle when we realized someone was following us. No big deal, it happened
sometimes, I thought. How nice it was that Takuya and Ato offered to stay behind and
take care of it, I thought. How clever that Eichiro and Hiki stayed to offer magical
support, just in case, I thought. Well I thought wrong.
I thought it was odd that Eichiro hadn't greeted me personally when he and the
other got back, about a quarter of an hour after the rest of us. I really got a bad
feeling when I saw Eichiro's expression as he walked out near Arisa's stables. He'd
seemed more then troubled, but haunted. Then he disappeared for hours. So I went to
ask Tehieji, who gave me a cryptic message about how Eichiro would regret this. I was
walking around the castle to go in an entrance closer to the room where Fishi and I
trained, but Spirit started freaking out, saying that someone was blocking magic
Imagine my surprise when I felt Eichiro's taint on the shield cast around a
little area under the castle. I tried to check what was going on by magic, because I
was a bit nervous going into the basement for some reason, but every spell I tried to
say to get an idea of what was going on got blocked by Eichiro's spell. And I asked
myself, why would Eichiro cast a shield this strong? Who does he think is trying to
get in there?
Spirit made it very clear that she wasn't going down there, but I couldn't get
her to tell me what it was that scared her. All sorts of sick fantasies entered my
mind as I flung open the door to the cellar and ran down the stairs, but none of them
were as bad as what I saw. The first thought that entered my mind when I saw the
three of them was that Naono had snuck in, and I was mad at him for a moment. But
that was wrong... Naono didn't look wounded, he looked mangled. Plus every one
of the injuries followed an orderly pattern. I wrenched my gaze away from him, but
the image was seared into my mind, so many rows of bleeding gashes, and horrid
Takuya had a fire poker in hand, reaffirming my conclusion of what had been
going on down here. Takuya had been an FBI agent, so interrogation by torture was
something I should have foreseen from him. Still, I felt so betrayed when I saw
Eichiro down there, holding Naono. Why hold him, I thought bitterly, you've clearly
made it so he can't run away. Then Eichiro let go, and Naono sagged against the wall,
knife wounds and burns rubbing against the rough stone. Eichiro had been holding
Naono up- Eichiro had been allowing it to continue.
I shouted at Takuya. Though I wasn't even really aware of what I was saying, it
must have made the right impression since Takuya made some sort of excuse when I
paused. Eichiro listened to Takuya and I, looking somewhere between sick and
sickened. Who was he to think the other monster's excuse wasn't good enough? I had
yet to hear him speak up! I turned on him.
Eichiro looked miserable, but when he spoke his voice gave no hint that he was
more than slightly bothered by the whole thing. Which should I trust, voice or face?
I demanded to know what information Eichiro and Takuya had gotten after compromising
all their morals, and Eichiro responded, sounding more detached than ever. Takuya
just stared into space. Naono was watching us, eyes wide with desperation.
"Nothing... He wouldn't betray Shikuro. What we did to try to force him was
despicable." Eichiro said. There was a tiny portion of my mind which tried to dissect
this statement. "Betray", meaning that Naono was being loyal, loyal being a noble
quality? Was Eichiro trying to give a secret message saying he didn't think Naono had
deserved it? Most of me was too furious to pay attention, and told the tiny
portion to shut up before she really processed the speculation. She set her mental
processes to work figuring out what to do with Naono, who was still starring at her,
and blinking very hard.
Mana peered closer- Naono's head had been left remarkably untouched by the on
slot. His hair was wet, and his skin looked slick with perspiration, but that was it.
His glasses weren't even askew. Behind his glasses Naono blinked very hard again, and
his eyes darted down, then he blinked again.
How strange... But despite the odd movements behind his glasses, Naono's
facial expression didn't change. His jaw was set, and his mouth in the same tight
painful line since Mana came down. He hadn't moved when Eichiro put him down, or
while listening to his tormentor’s excuses, or when he saw Mana starring at him. He
just kept blinking. After a few seconds, a thought just as strange and disturbing as
anything else in the situation started to form in Mana's mind.
"... Naono..." I said carefully, leaning forward more still, "Can't you talk?"
Immediately his eyelids began fluttering so fast that they almost seemed closed.
Since Eichiro had dropped the shield that had been stopping Naono from using magic,
Mana and Eichiro were able to get sucked in to an array of spells. Mana blinked at
the strange double vision she was experiencing. On one hand, she was looking at
Naono, who was slumped against the wall eyes wide. But as much as she saw that, she
saw strands of twisted multicolored magic wrapped around him.
Eichiro drew a breath sharply, and Mana got the impression that he was pointing
to one of the spells. Mana "looked" closer at the strand selected- it was the only
one that seemed to have something struggling against it. It was if a toddler was
trying to shatter a boulder with its fist. She reached out to the spell, and felt
what it did, and withdrew, feeling terrified.
Mana pulled herself out- she had seen what Naono wanted to show her. For the
first time in her life, she wanted to hit Eichiro.
"You were down here to make sure Naono didn't cast any spells, but you didn't see the
spell cast on him?" She shrieked, her hands balled at her sides. But Eichiro
had enough of being shouted at.
The original wasn't half this long! When is this thing going to end?!
Eichiro straightened, and addressed Mana in a voice filled with authority.
"Chosen Player- shut up, and just help me. Takuya, if you're done standing
there, I would thank you for doing something positive, like getting Hana, and any of
our group who can work a healing spell." Takuya looked up, startled by this change in
attitude, then nodded and sprinted up the stairs.
As soon as he was gone, Eichiro and Mana started speaking. Abstractly Eichiro
noticed that Mana was working in English and wondered where the sprite was. But most
of his concentration was in finding the correct spell again, pouring his energy into
it to dissolve it. In the magic tongue, Eichiro spoke of release, and of being free
to speak, of unwanted spells being cast aside, and of accepting the aid of those you
dislike to achieve these ideals. It was a shame that no one understood a word of
Eichiro's spell; it was poetry, really.
Naono, by nature of the fact that he couldn't speak, wasn't able to help much.
Instead the boy poured energy into Mana and Eichiro's counter spell, and gave his
approval for the original to vanish.
Watching the spells effects disappear at once made Eichiro feel as if he was
seeing someone cut all Pinocchio’s strings at the same moment he was turned into a
real boy. Naono tumbled forward, shouting his sobs for all to hear, unable to control
it, and afraid to try.
TIME JUMP the third. When I wrote this the first time, I only needed one. What
happened??? *Kirti shoots an accusing look at her brain, which shrugs*
Naono had been in a rather fevered daze while all the healing went on. He was
aware of the fact that no one touched him, and that after the pain lessened
spectacularly footsteps were heard going back up the stairs. If they left, why does
it still hurt? Without moving, he opened an eye and use it to examine the wrist in
front of it. His skin was smooth, though covered with what had come out of wounds,
when wounds had been there. So most likely, any remaining pain was all in his head.
He stared at his wrist some more. At length, he realized that in front of his
eye was a rather funny place for his wrist to be. He pushed himself up from the
awkward sprawled position he had been in. Only Mana was still in the basement,
sitting on the chair near the fire. She, of course, was not tied to the chair, though
she looked far from comfortable. This was probably due to her being alon
Last edited: 13 July 2009