Chapter 20: Two Faces

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Darkness enveloped me when I awoke. I blinked. And blinked again. Still the same blackness all around me, above me, below me. Even more disturbing was the fact that I was completely alone. I felt as if I had fallen into a crater leading to the core of the earth itself. The endless quiet was suffocating and judging by the increasing pressure on my chest, a panic attack was just around the corner.

"Rowan?" I cried out. "Ellie? Larry?" Still no answer. "Mrs. Berrywood?" I whispered.

Where was everyone? Why wasn't I in the village? What the hell was this place?

"Welcome."

I swiveled around. There she was, standing only a few yards away. Me.

Despite our many similarities, her face wasn't an exact copy of mine. Her hair was a few shades darker, her skin paler, but most of all, our eyes were different. Instead of bright green like the leaves of a young tree, hers were a blazing orange, as though the irises were on fire. Fiery lines crawled under her skin, throbbing with magic. The mark of a Dark Sorceress.

"Where are we?" I asked her, suppressing my anxiety against my better judgement. As if she didn't already know how I felt. She always knew. We were one, after all.

"This is your mind, darling, where you and I coexist."

"You mean ... all of this is happening inside my head?"

"That's right."

By the Light. I scrambled to my feet, my eyes never leaving hers. "Why are we here?"

"I dragged you in here with me," she replied, inspecting her nails as though it happened every day that my doppelganger chose to have a private conversation with me in my mind. "If I hadn't done so, our body would've fallen apart. It was practically having a seizure by the time I came to your rescue."

"Our body?" I didn't like the possessive undertone in her voice.

"Yes, darling, our body. I have as much right as you do to be here. Bitter potion to swallow, isn't it?"

Nonsense. She was here because I allowed her to be.

She laughed, as if she had heard my thoughts. She probably had. "Don't despair just yet, darling. You still have a chance of regaining control. That's why you're here. You accepted my help to defeat that Dark Sorceress, I killed her, and next, you tried to put me back in my cage like a true sadist."

"That's where you belong," I snarled at her. "You come out when I say so, and you go back in on my command as well."

Dark Kenna raised an eyebrow. "Is that so? And why should you be the one in charge? You heard Xia Jutín; you will have to surrender to me at some point. Why not do so now?"

"I'm not ready yet," I growled. "Until I am, you back the hell off."

"Ah, darling." She shook her head at me, as if she was speaking to a naughty child. "At this rate, you'll never be ready for it. You allow your feelings to cloud your judgement. Life is so much easier without emotions."

"So you don't feel at all?"

"That's not what I said. I do feel, but only for myself. Other people can be useful, sure, but they're all disposable. I don't need anyone in the way that you need that soldier or those little Dwarfs."

I scoffed at her. "How lonely you are. Is this the part where you tell me that love equals weakness?"

She shrugged. "I'm not going to tell you anything. It's not like it would change your mind. Not at this moment, at least."

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