Chapter 32 - Sides

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The guard walks towards me, his sword in hand and a sly grin across his face. I gasp, my pulse quickening rapidly, and I try to move but something is holding me still, gripping my arms away from my body.

The sword opens a wound from one side of my waist to the other and I scream in agony. The guard laughs at my misery, tossing his sword smugly in his right hand.

He stabs again but this time, the sword reaches between my eyes. It glints in the setting sun before its tip meets the back of my skull. There are no screams from me, shock has made that impossible, but it can't stop the pain.

And when I fall to the ground, I hear painfully happy cheers around me and I can see supple leather shoes around me, stuffed with dirt. The Outlanders. Do they cheer for my death? Pain builds up inside of me, tearing me in a way I thought not possible.

I should be dead. I want to be dead. Anything to stop this hurt.

I try to close my eyes-- to shut out the cheers, but when I do they only get louder. And they are no longer cheering-- they're screaming. High-pitched wailing fills my ears while I feel everything around me burn. Hot furnace winds strike me in the face and the crackling of fire comes to me.

A dream! I tell myself. This is only a dream! The fire eats me, licking my skin with its flames. My flesh starts to scorch and the smell of burnt hair and the taste of smoke starts to feel my nose and mouth.

All I can see is pitch darkness-- devouring me like the fire. I want to scream but when I do, no sound comes. Death, give me that. Anything is better than this hell.

As if the gods hear me, the heat tickles away but the scorch is still there, the blisters marking into my skin. The blackness--slowly-- starts to ebb away, splotches fading away into nothing like clear water washing away stained ones. Sight comes to me finally, a blurred and grainy image of something on top of me.

The figure says something and stopped when I groan at the sudden headache. It pounds in my head, hammering with a great force. The blur fades away gradually and a soft hand brushes my hair away from my eyes.

"Let the pain past, do not fight it," a familiar raspy voice tells me.

I suck in a breath when I finally see the once blurry figure on top of me. She looks down with a small smile, her lips adding wrinkles to her face. "Naerys," I whisper.

"You have been suffering for a long time, Cathellyn. Don't move too much," she says kindly.

Despite her words, I try miserably to sit up, stopping with a gasp at the stabbing pain in my stomach. I look down to see it bandaged. That will leave a scar. Bastard guard. My tongue feels as if it is made of sand and my whole body aches.

I let my body drop back onto the hard straw bed. It's not even a bed, just a thick lining of straw against the tile. "How long have I been sleeping?"

Naerys looks at me. "Two months, though I wouldn't prefer to call it sleeping."

I stifle a gasp as my heart stops. "Two months?" I repeat her.

She nods solemnly, a frown on her face. "Many things happened when you were.. sleeping."

My heart suddenly shakes and I look towards Naerys. Please, no. "Naerys, what happened? The Outlanders-- are they dead? Did the Valarians come? How many died? Naerys, please--"

"Do not fear, girl. A few souls are lost, but most of them are safe."

"How? The Valarians would be furious." They would wipe out the entire land.

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