Chapter 39: No Ones' Prisoner

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It was blank, a room of white. The sound of my breath was the only noise. My skin started to prickle. The frost retreated deep into my core, safe from the growing heat. I reached out my hand but felt nothing. My fingers boiled as my arm turned red. It began to grow brighter until it surrounded my body. Gritting my teeth, the fire licked its way around me.

I gagged for air. Pain filled my head. The inferno changed from red to blue before blaring white. The Taljinn had won, and the world will die.

***

My mind returned, and I felt numb. My vision was a blank canvas. I tried to move, but an immense pressure held me captive. It was warm. The pain was gone now, and I was just surrounded by warmth. It was soothing, peaceful. Only the sound of fire crackling filled my ears. No worries, or cares, I floated in a state of pure serenity. I liked it. This was peace.

***

I was jarred awake from a shifting in heat. The pressure increased, squeezing the fire from me. The pain was only momentary. It came and went. I hovered in my soft flickering of white flames. I could easily spend eternity like this. Drifting in and out, with a constant supply of warmth.

Zoran was wrong. This wasn't torture. It was a firebird paradise. My body started to quiver as pain like a sharp intake of cold air hit my chest. It tried to grow. I forced it back and slipped back into nothing.

***

I woke again, but this time, it was me. The frost was working against me, trying to return the feeling to my limbs. It burned and made my muscles ache. I didn't want it. I fought it back. The spark of energy retreated back to my core where I sealed it. No more. I'll trap it there, so I can remain in peace.

The throbbing didn't go away. I tried to move, but my limbs wouldn't listen. My mind refused to slip away like before because of the gnawing pain. I wanted to go to sleep, to forget everything. It won't let me.

There was nothing to fight for in that world. Being passed from one god to the next, treated as an outcast no matter where I go, the world held nothing. I should just stay here where I'd never have to depend on a fire god again. I was free.

But I was trapped.

My body flinched, and my breath caught. I was fine here. I wanted to be here, away from all those people telling me what to do, ordering me around like an object. They used me.

This creature was using me.

The energy in my chest started to spread into my stomach, causing my limbs to start to wake up. The numb state of peace was leaving me.

I fought to get it back. I wanted this. I wanted to be free.

The barrier broke, and ice shot out. My eyes opened to the howl of a dying cosmos. No more. I won't let myself be used. No longer would I be an object, that could be so easily cast aside, no more.

Cold flames boiled from my body. I watched as the frost squelched the flames and spread like a disease along the creature's inner walls. The cries that echoed through the Taljinn's body spurred me on. No more. I refused to be bonded to anyone or anything, and I killed anyone who tried.

An ice wall formed around me. I remained still as the frost spread, and the white walls began to crumble and turn black. The light was gone and frigid darkness replaced it. I heard muffled cries through the ice, yelling, screaming. The rocks cracked, and sunlight seeped in. I curled into a ball. Pieces were broken away and figures stood above me.

"Fin."

The ice was parted.

"Fin."

Hands grabbed me and pulled me from the ice cavern. I was pulled out of the Taljinn and glanced around at the scorched ground covered in a thick layer of ice. I was free. I was no one's prisoner. Not the gods or the great beast of the cosmos. They couldn't have me.

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