6 - The Other Side

485 25 1

It burned like fire—in my throat, my lungs. It spread through every limb, fingertip, even the hairs on my head until suddenly it all ripped away, from every inch of my body, like my blood vessels were wrenched right out of my mouth all at once. It tore a scream from ragged lungs before it was gone, gone on the wind that whipped through the night, and I grasped desperately at air, if only to hang onto it for one more agonizing moment.

And then... it was just nothing. A steady drip of blood linked my bleeding nose to the cold, wet stone. A maw opened inside me, a deep crater that had once been full, now empty. So empty.

My unblinking eyes fixed themselves to my Animaré's corpse, the arrow in her chest like death's flag claiming her as his own.

I finally took a shaky breath that echoed in my ears before suddenly the chaos of the storm erupted around me once more. Thunder boomed in my chest and the rain pounded mercilessly on my skull. Somewhere below I heard cries, but they rang hollow in my ears. This was a nightmare, a dream gone horribly wrong, and I needed to wake up, because she couldn't be gone, she couldn't be...

I grit my teeth and somehow managed to stand, my mind swirling like the storm. The currents screamed in protest as I instinctively reached for them, refusing the call of my broken and bloodied soul. Magic so familiar recoiled at my touch, replaced suddenly by a sinister cauldron within me, hot and brimming, ready to boil over. I jerked away like I was burned, the dark mass filtering through my ribs like tattered cloth to settle in my chest.

Animaré magic always came from within, from my Bond. This was powerful and foreign, rising from some uncovered well deeper than I could ever hope to dive.

I stumbled backward from the cliff, my gaze flitting across the storm-torn rocks below without registering a single detail. The howl of the wind mingled with the crash of water on rock and I pressed my hands over my ears in search of one moment of calm, clutching the now hostile currents to my broken soul. Fear sunk its fangs into me, gnawing at my resolve until I broke.


The word barely left my trembling lips before my feet were taking me out into the night, into the rain, into the storm. The downpour blurred my vision—I stumbled along blindly, praying a cliff's edge wouldn't end my flight. At the same time, I almost wished one would.

The faster I ran, the louder I imagined footsteps behind me. Heavy treads that thudded above the rain, a looming shadow deeper than the night, putrid breath wheezing over the wind. My head was still spinning, my soul still bleeding, but I was gripped by a terror that drove me onward. I flew far away from the pain and death, the dark spring that blossomed within me, the lightning that arced through the air on my heels. All of it was chasing me, waiting to devour me the second I stopped pushing, the second I paused for one second to catch my breath.

My legs were aching and bloody, my muscles screaming louder in protest than even the wind in my ears. The rain streaked across my face and mixed with my tears, and each drop that slid down my cheeks slashed a scar on my heart.


The name seemed to slip out of my mouth and catch on the wind, flying through the rocks and howling through the storm, until my whisper turned to a scream and my heart turned to ice.

* * *

My back was against a tree, and the sun was in my eyes.

Who knew how I got there. Maybe I ran until my legs gave out, and crawled after that. It didn't matter. I didn't really care.

The sun warmed my skin, but I didn't really feel it. I sensed the wind whispering in my ears, but the world seemed muffled. My mind should've been spinning but it was just... blank. A terrible numbness crept over my pain and I felt a shroud pull over my senses, my thoughts. I was shrinking back into the corners of my mind, barely feeling my bruised and battered body.

Solace Curse: Part IWhere stories live. Discover now