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A Matter of Choice by Midnight Song

Ch.1 - Choice

“You stand here before me and having heard only half the story, look at me with disgust and fear, hatred and anger.” Deep blue eyes looked at the jury reprovingly and she lifted shackled hands as high as the heavy chains would allow. “I did not ask to be released from these, though I did not doubt they would influence your opinion. I have not asked anything of you at all, until now. And even now, all I would ask is that you listen and be as unbiased as you possibly can when hearing my words, my story of how this all started and the inevitable end.”

o.O.o

Everybody has a choice. That is what they would say, when they found out. ‘You didn’t have to do it.’ ‘There were other options.’ ‘You could have asked for help.’ Everybody has a choice, and you didn’t have to do what you did.

But I didn’t. No matter what anyone else says, I never had a choice. And yeah, maybe I did something wrong, maybe what I did was horrible and dark and evil. But I didn’t have any other options; there wasn’t anyone I could ask for help….and so I did it. And the truth is, I don’t regret it, because what I did allowed me to save the one person in this world I truly cared for. And how can that be wrong?

The room I’m in is dark, and cold. The floor is colder though, but at least it and the wall my hands are chained to give me some semblance of place, of being. It is too dark even to see, and so the feeling of the wall and the floor give me peace that at least I am somewhere, rather than nowhere. Somewhere, something is dripping. I can hear that plop….plop…..plop, even in my prison.

I shift, pulling my knees up to my chest and rest my head on what has become bony and weak. They do not feed me overmuch; more, I think they do not remember that in order to survive long enough to be punished, I must be fed. I am not like them. I am human, and have so many more basic needs for survival. I wonder if it is that they do not remember, or that they chose not to remember. I wonder if this is another form of torture and as my stomach as ceased to growl, I decide that it is.

Very distantly, I can hear something else; something I have not heard in such a long time that it takes me a moment to place it. Perhaps the only advantage to being so bound in the dark is that my hearing has strengthened. It is raining. My skin tingles for the chance to feel it again, aching for the moisture it will bring to the ground and the plants….a moistness I will not feel, for this prison protects me from it, much as it hides me from it.

My tongue darts out to lick dry, cracked lips and it as if I can taste the rain just by thinking of it. For a moment, it quenches my thirst, before it enflames it. Suddenly, I am a wilted flower in the desert, desperate for a drink, but protected by an overhanging rock that kills me as much as it protects me. If there were any water left in my body to spare, I would probably cry. Never mind not giving them the satisfaction of my tears, forget what little pride was keeping me strong. This whole situation was desolate and I wanted nothing more than to break down and sob as uncontrollably as I had not since I was a child.

Three long years kept prisoner in this place, provided for just enough to keep me alive and not much more. Three years of wondering where my rescuer was, if I even had a rescuer. Eventually, I stopped wondering. If there was even one person who had wanted to help me, surely they would have done so by now. Surely they wouldn’t have left me to rot in the ground in some dingy little prison. And so I started to think, and to plan and Goddess above forbid it, I started to hope.

Not too far off from my little cell, I hear a tiny click that tells me my human is coming. My…caretaker, so to speak. They are too scared of me to come closer, these things that have kept me prisoner. They know of the power that courses through my blood, the very energy that makes me their natural enemy. The same power that allowed me to commit the horrible crime I was arrested for. And so they send a human, because they know I will have no effect on one who doesn’t carry the demon blood.

This person, this human, she stoops over the lock, struggling in the darkness to fit the key in the correct hole. They have told her she isn’t to light the candle until she is inside my cage. It takes her only seconds to work the rusty contraption. Only when she is inside do I realize that something is different, and it is only because she neither closes nor locks my prison bars behind her.

“Priestess,” she whispers, her voice almost reverent as she kneels beside me and lights the candle they have given her.

This is not my normal human. It is my first instinct to shy away from this new face but with the wall pressed so sharply against my back, there is nowhere else to go and my cowardice is known only to me. I have had many keepers over the past few years, and not all of them had been kind. The sound of my title, my birthright, being spoken so softly shakes something inside of me and though I thought there was not enough of anything left, I feel the first stirrings of sorrow. “You shouldn’t call me that. If they catch you, I can’t protect you.”

She laughs. I haven’t heard laughter in such a long time that my ears grab onto the sound and meld it into the very bones of my weak body as sustenance. “I am not in need of protecting, my friend. I am here to free you. Was that not your plan?”

My head is spinning and I’m not sure if it’s because of a lack of food and water, or from her. So many things could go wrong with her and the last thing I wanted was to cause another death. “Where is your Aiko? She is the one who will help me, not you.”

Her eyes drift to the side and with the candle flickering between us, I can see the worry spread across her face. “Aiko was brought in for questioning,” she answered, and glanced over her shoulder, as if expecting to be watched. “We don’t have much time. Elena has told me much about you and your plans, and I am to take her place. Please, trust me, Priestess.”

It is too soon. So, so much could go wrong. But the idea of freedom after all this time is like a taste of the forbidden fruit, teasing me with more than just a taste. “I can’t protect you.”

She smiled and stood, bending over me and using the key to unlock my hands. “I am supposed to walk you around the prison block. That does not give us much time, but it will have to do.”

This is all the prodding I need. She has made her choice, and though her death will be forever on my hands, I will not throw away such a sacrifice.  Even still, it takes me a few minutes of walking the block with her to get the strength back in my legs, in my entire body. During this time, she tells me of the horse waiting just on the other side of the village, only a few miles from the small prison they keep me in. Once I get there, another friend will be waiting to help me escape.

Finally, we are back in my cell and for the barest of moments, my heart skips a beat at the thought of leaving. I’m not entirely sure myself if it is fear or something else that has me wanting to stay. She is shoving her cloak into my hands and the fabric is soft and warm. For the first time, I notice the faint similarities between us and can only hope it will be enough to save us both. “Thank you.” I wish there was more, but in that one moment, on the cusp of freedom and knowing what she might be giving up for me, my mind is blank and there is nothing more concrete, more moving, than those two words.

Smiling still, I don’t think she’s stopped since she came, she takes my hand and squeezes it lightly, as if giving me all the support I might need. “You are most welcome. I hope one day we can meet again, my friend. I hope one day, when you are truly free of everything that attempts to chain you in this life, we can meet again and truly become friends.”

Why couldn’t I manage that eloquence? Where was all the education and etiquette I had learned as a child? My only guess was that being imprisoned had turned me into some kind of bumbling fool and I could only hope that after I had regained all of my strength, I would be able to repay this enormous favor to her. “What is your name?”

“Mai, daughter of Hiran and a member of the resistance.”

“Resistance?”

Instead of answer, she pushed me gentle towards the cell door, passing everything she had come with into my hands so I could pass as her. “All will be explained when you are safe, Priestess, I promise. Go now.”

It is too much, and yet it not enough. How will I….”My name is Kagome,” I manage, watching as she blows out the candle and plunges us both into darkness again.

“I know who you are, my friend. Hurry. You do not have much time left.”

For only a moment more, I search the darkness for her, hesitating. And then I am moving down the hall, straining with everything she has given me to carry and managing a barely passable limp, as she had. As I step out into the light and silently return the key to the guards with shaking hands, I make myself a promise: when I am strong again, I will find her and help her in any and every way possible, as she has helped me.

Ch. Fin.

o.O.o

So...please don't kill me! LOL. I just...I couldn't help it. Originally, I started writing this for my Writing Fiction class but...the more and more I added to it, the more it turned into fanfiction. And I wanted to share. I honestly don't know if I'll continue this, so thoughts and critiques are more than welcome. As always, love you gusy! R/R!

 

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