Far ahead of her, she could only see the golden color of dry grass under a blue sky. In the far distance were green hills, but no matter how fast she moved her feet, they came no closer. Her bare feet pounded against the grass and she heaved, taking deep breathes as she ran, her arms pumping, the warm sun burning her skin.
She paused, then, and slowed to a stop, looking down at her hands with a confused look on her face. Her skin was brown. Had she been in the sun that long? She put her hands down and looked at her feet. They were still the same porcelain white they'd always been. She lifted her hands again to find that they, too, were back to their normal pale pigment.
Puzzled, she dropped her hands and her eyes fell on the dark blue-grey figure of a Kartaian, his jagged blade raised and poised in her direction, ready to strike. She raised her hands, unsure of what she was doing, only moving on instinct.
“Aera!” She whirled around to see a pale Raielwen standing, bow aimed at her, his silver eyes stern. “Duck!” He yelled.
She fell to her knees, her hands covering her head as the arrow flew overhead. She followed it with her eyes and saw that it struck the heart of a pale woman, her ears wide, like Taris', her soft pale hair trailing her head as she slunk to the ground. Mortified, Aera turned with a questioning look to find the holder of the bow was a short Kartaian with a maimed ear. “Envy?”
He shouted at her and pointed, but it didn't make sense to her ears. Her brain muddled it and she shrugged, confused, lifting her hand to her ear. Her arms were brown again.
She heard the crack of a whip and she tossed her head back and screamed as pain ripped across her back.
Screaming, she flung herself forward, suddenly finding it hard to move her hands. She gasped, her body sore and stiff, her movement hindered. “Envy!” She shrieked. Her eyes darted around as she realized she wasn't sure where she was. She was on a bed, and beside her was some black skinned elf. Her scream had startled him, and he looked uncertain about whether he'd like to grab her to quiet her or leap out of her reach. Her eyes narrowed and she glared at him. He seemed to shiver and shimmer in from of her eyes, dark swirls of shadow leaping about him. She paused, snarling at him. “What the hell are you?” Something.... something about his eyes....
Her head turned when she heard approaching footsteps, and she glared at the Kartaian who stilled in the doorway. With difficulty, she pulled her legs up to her chest and pushed herself back against the headboard of the bed with a growl, her bound hands in front of her. Her vision went fuzzy. “Ezra!” She shouted, looking around. The Kartaian pulled a face, suddenly looking serious. He glanced over to the black thing beside her and pointed in her direction. With a slight hesitation, it reached out and grabbed her arms and she cried out as her head was riddled in pain.
It died away and suddenly, her vision wasn't fuzzy anymore. Her breath came fast as she realized whose red-purple eyes she was staring into, her lip quivering. “Taris!” she cried and ceased her resistance against his grip. Her head fell back and she looked over her cheeks at Envy as her limbs went heavy with grief. “Envy! I'm so sorry...” she whimpered, tears falling, her breathing broken. “So, so sorry.” Her vision was going fuzzy again, her tears still flowing, and she tensed in Taris' hands again, pulling away from him, her hands extended toward Envy. “The blue skies darken the earth and make the straw grow.” Her breath quivered. “I'm sorry.”
“Hold onto her.” Envy demanded, stepping towards her, his expression one of perplexity.
“What was that nonsense about the skies?” Taris asked. “What does that mean?”
Envy frowned, his hands quickly working to untie the shirt that bound her hands. He pulled the cloth away and, no longer worrying about her hands, dug his fingers against them to pull them apart. She cried and pulled her hands away from him, Taris' grasp holding her still. “Coming from her, it doesn't make any sense.” He told the Shadow Elf, pulling her clasped hand apart with his sturdy hands. It had been something Ruli had always said to him. Coming from Aera it made no sense.
In the palm of her bloody hand was a clump of wheat colored hair.
He grimaced, taking the strands from her shaking hand. “That's how they did it.” he whispered. “Ruli had a good amount of skill in mind manipulation. He'd been inside her head once before, and their …. connection... she wouldn't intentionally harm him.” He took Aera's head in his hands and looked into her unfocused eyes. She was looking around, still dazed and confused. “They used him to break her.”
Aera whimpered and struggled against the two of them, her head falling backward as she cried. “I'm so sorry...” She looked down at her hand, Ruli's blood dried on her skin. Her dark gaze went to Taris, her eyes swimming in and out of focus as she came in and out of recognition. Her eyelids flickered and her head fell back as she dipped back into unconsciousness. “...I'm sorry...”