Where was Grim? Why couldn’t she find him?
She stumbled over a man’s out flung arm, falling to her knees in the blood soaked grass. Looking up, she finally found him, lying torn open in the grass. His eyes stared at her with a mixture of rage and betrayal as he whispered, “Why Mageria? Why . . . did . . . you do it?”
“No!” Mageria scrambled on her hands and knees forward, trying to reach him before she lost him again. “No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I failed you. I’m sorry!”
Grim rolled his head from side to side, bright blood trickling from one corner of his mouth. “You . . . killed me.”
Looking down at her hands, Mageria saw her hands were soaked with bright gore, blood running down her fingers to soak into her sleeves. By her knees was her sword, also covered in blood. Looking around, she could see what she hadn’t before. All the bodies carried wounds similar to her fighting style, wounds that she would have inflicted.
Mageria pushed away from Grim’s body, staggering to stand surrounded by a carnage that she couldn’t remember being a part of. A hard hand seized her shoulder, spinning her around. Daniel Zimmerman stood there with a fearsome expression on his face.
“Monster!” He roared. “You think that you can escape the fate that is in store for you?” Reaching out to hold her by the throat, he started to intone words that echoed strangely, words that she could feel wrap around her and start to twist her body and soul. Pulling her hands up in front of her, she could see that claws were growing from her fingertips as thick skin started to flow up her forearms.
“Why?” She looked up at Daniel and staggered backwards.
Daniel shook his head. “The time has come.”
As the change moved faster and faster, Mageria could feel herself slipping away. Pushed beyond all limits, she did the only think left to her.
Bolting upright in bed, Mageria staggered to her window, stumbling a bit over some of the debris left from last night. Throwing it open, she gulped in deep breaths of the icy air, trying to banish the nightmare images from her mind. From below her she could hear the happy celebrations of Creation Day, people laughing and children shrieking as they flung snowballs at each other. Gradually her heartbeat slowed and Mageria drew her head back in the room, shivering a little as she closed the window.
Quickly she dressed for the day, toweling off the sweat that had formed along her hairline and under her cloths. She didn’t want to think about her dreams and so she ignored them, instead throwing herself into the day as best she could.
When she reached the common room, it was full of her men all laughing and joking, telling tall tales about what they were going to do during the day. She slipped in quietly, just grabbing something to eat and sitting off to the side. Feeling a tiny spark of mischief, she waited until the boasts reached their peak before she cleared her throat and cocked an eyebrow as silence fell over the room.
“Seeing as you all have so much energy, why don’t you all go out and have a snowball fight?” She grinned at the looks of worry that started slipping over a few of their faces. “Special rules.”
With a chorus of groans, they all got up and walked out, bundling up as they went. Special rules meant a kind of sudden death type of snowball fight, where the soldiers divided themselves up into teams and had a tournament to see who could stay alive the longest without using their Enlightenments to help. The city-folk even were allowed to join in, forming their own teams, some of them quite good. The fights were held in a practice area that was set up to mimic fighting in part of the city, it was actually an area that had been reduced to near rubble in the siege that Mageria had claimed. Now it was used to train the Guards and the City soldiers in how to fight in close quarters.
Today, it would be the scene of a grim battle.
Already people would be gathering, generally any time it snowed something like this would happen. In the areas set aside for observation, were the people who only wanted to watch and lay bets, and they loved it; cheering wildly for their favorite team.
Mageria smirked into the last of her food before she pushed away and went to see about her duties. The men as a group had ruled that she was no longer allowed to participate, seeing as how she skewed the results too badly whenever she participated. So instead she left to find Thomas and catch up on what had happened while she had been . . . distracted.