I had intended on this being a one shot story but several folks have encouraged me to pursue it further. So after coaxing my Muse out with some chocolate bars I offer you chapter two in what will now be a multi chapter tale. I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 2 - Alone in the Dark
Slowly Azkadellia's fingers drew closer so close yet just out of reach. Fighting the urge to leap onto the platform DG willed her sister closer. Their fingertips brushed then Azkadellia gripped DG's hand in a bone crushing grasp, even through the leather glove DG could feel the warmth of her sister's hand. A spark passed between them and she felt Azkadellia's magic coursing up her arm and though her body. It was strangely familiar and yet it was not quite the same as she remembered.
The witch fought to keep her prize but DG would not let go, not this time. Before her Azkadellia and the witch morphed back and forth in a surreal moment as they battled for control. Finally the witch was forced to surrender her hold and Azkadellia stepped free.
Side by side they faced the witch as she raged against them. They stood their ground, but she could feel the fear in Azkadellia as the witch loomed over them. For just a moment she thought her sister would turn and run leaving her to face the witch alone. 'That would be a strange twist of poetic justice.' She thought with a silent chuckle.
But Azkadellia stood her ground and as the light of the Sun-seeder recited the witch crumpled with it.
"She melted." DG mused in disbelief.
As the bubble surrounding them shrink she felt Azkadellia's magic fade from her body and she waited for her to let go first. Satisfied all was well she turned and smiled holding her arms out in a gesture of welcome. Azkadellia smiled in turn and spread her arms as well. DG stepped forward to embrace her sister but Azkadellia jerked away with a startled scream.
Fear gripped DG as she stared at the black cloaked arm which drug Azkadellia toward the witch's remains. It steadily pulled her toward the sun-seeder platform, try as she might Azkadellia could not break free. "Deeg! Help me!"
DG leap forward but an invisible hand struck her across the face knocking her to the ground. Stunned DG tried to shake away the darkness creeping in around her. Beyond the darkness she heard a bloodcurdling scream.
"Az? Azkedallia!" Still blinded by the darkness she moved toward the sound. Something wrapped around her throat and slowly began to squeeze. The grip on her throat tightened, lifting her upward. She clawed at the unseen hand as her feet left the ground. Then the witch's face loomed just inches from her own. "Well, my little pretty you're not so strong now, not without the little bitch to help you."
Spots danced in front of DG's eyes as she struggled for freedom. "Leave…her…alone."
Laughter filled the air and DG felt the witch's wretched breath sear her nose and throat. It smelt of rotten garage and decaying foliage, it smelled of…death. "You have no power to be giving orders little one. Besides, she is my pet and as such she lives or dies by my will, not yours."
DG felt long, boney fingers brush through her dark hair and she shivered at the old hag's touch.
"You're like her, like she was in the beginning. Strong and fearless. You will serve me well."
"I'll never…serve…you." DG tried to scream her defiance, but the pressure on her throat would only allow a whisper.
"You little fool! You have already done my bidding, first you brought me I my little pet and thanks to you the O.Z. trembles before me." She laughed and DG felt her limbs start to go numb. "You even brought me the emerald like a good little pet. But then you had to go and ruin even thing. But know this little girl I will have my revenge." The witch leaned closer and DG felt them start to merge. She wanted to scream but no sound would come.
Thunder cracked and DG bolted upright as she clutched the sheets with both hands.
Darkness filled the room and she strained to see through it. Blood roared in her ears as her heart pounded wildly. Swallowing hard she had to force herself to breath.
Heavy rain beat against the windows and balcony doors. Lightening flashed and bathed the room in a moment of blinding light.
"God, I hate storms." she hissed through clenched teeth. Running a hand through her tingled hair she felt some of the fear fading. Though she blamed the storm she knew it was the dream that had truly terrified her.
Closing her eyes the images returned with eerie clarity. She stood before the Sorceress begging for her sister to take her hand. Engulfed by the light of the sun-seeder Azkadellia glowed green. Emerald green. Shaking her head she drove away the thought. 'No, the witch is dead. We won.'
Thunder boomed rattling the windows and DG nearly jumped from the bed. Cursing under her breath she rose from the bed and slipped on her shoes. She had no nightgown to sleep in and given the last few days she wasn't about to get caught in the buff. Besides she was getting use to sleeping in her jeans. Running a hand over the denim she frowned. "Wonder if they have washing machines in the O.Z.? Hump, if they're like everything else in this crazy place they probably walk and talk." She chuckled as an image of the possible machine formed in her head.
Moving to the door she opened it slowly and stepped into the hallway. A smirk crossed her lips as she paused to watch the sleeping guard. 'You'd better hope Cain doesn't see you.' she thought. For just a moment she considered waking him, but decided she didn't want the company. There was no room for prying eyes where she was going.
Slowly, quietly she made her way down the hall. Near the end of the massive hallway she paused before a door. There were no markings on the door and it looked exactly as the dozen others she had passed but somehow she knew this was the right one. Raising a hand she started to knock but stopped just short of the smooth wood. For just a moment she considered returning to her room. Shaking her head she sighed heavily, she knew there would be no rest till she was sure Azkadellia was safe.
Opening the door as quietly as possible her eyes stained to adjust to the darkened room. Within the dim light from the hallway she could see the large ornate bed which sat in the center of the room and to DG's dismay it was empty. In fact, the bedding did not appear to have been touched. With all thoughts of stealth forgotten she entered the room and was about to call out when a flash of lightening silhouetted a lone figure standing before the balcony doors.
Quietly moving toward the figure DG paused just out of arms reach. Azkadellia had given no indication that she was aware of her presents and she didn't want to do anything to startle her. A flash of lightening bathed Azkadellia in a soft white light and DG noticed she was wearing a silk nightgown with a delicately laced robe, her long, dark hair hung loosely at her back. A crooked smile crossed DG's face. 'Wonder if I could ever look that regal in a night gown?'
"Are you still frightened by storms little sister?"
The words were spoken softly yet in the quiet of the darkened room they seemed to boom, DG jumped.
"I didn't mean to startle you." Apologized Azkadellia though a small smile tugged at the corners of her lips.
"And here I was afraid I'd scare you." She stepped to Azkedallia's side and peered into the night.
"You didn't answer my question."
DG studied her sister from the corner of her eye. 'Was she smiling?' "No, I'm not scared of storms, well most of the time I'm not." The intricate hair styles were gone and while she was still slightly taller, she no longer looked imposing. As the sky flashed bathing them in light DG thought she could see some of the little girl she once knew. "Are they normally this intense?"
"No." Azkedallia watched as lightening bolts snaked through the clouds in a tangled maze lightening up the sky for miles. A bolt jumped from the clouds and struck the ground some distance away.
"Guess the O.Z. is just blowing off a little steam now that the witch is dead." DG chuckled at the thought.
"Perhaps." Azkadellia continued to watch the storm, her smile had faded.
'Brillant, you idiot, you just had to bring up the witch didn't ya?' DG silently cursed the slip. "So the storm keeping you up too?"
"Among other things." answered Azkadellia quietly.
They stood in silence watching the storm rage beyond the glass doors.
Akadellia caught a glimpse of DG's reflection in the glass during a flash and she smiled. Dark hair, bangs and wide, blue eyes she could see the little girl of her memories so clearly and yet she had changed. "You've grown into a beautiful young woman, Deeg."
Startled by the compliment DG fumbled for a reply. "I don't know about that. Most of the time I still feel like a goofy kid, tripping over my own feet."
"You're many things dear sister, but you're not a kid, not anymore."
DG caught the sadness in her sister's voice.
"You've changed so much. I would like to have seen you grow up."
"I wish I could have been here with you."
"No, mother was right to send you away."
"Az, I'm sorry I…"
"No." Azkadellia raised a hand to stop her. "No more apologizes, not tonight."
DG nodded reigning in the lump building in her throat.
Silence joined them once more, till Azkadellia drove it away.
"So did you come to sleep in my bed as you did when you were little?"
DG smiled as a reddish blush crept up her face. "Did I do that offend?"
"Only when it stormed or when you had a nightmare." A smile softened Azkadellia's sharp features. "Or when you wanted to go on a late night adventure."
"Well," DG chuckled. "I've hit two out of three tonight, want to try for the third one?"
Once more the smile slipped away as Az turned to her with a raised brow. "You had a nightmare?"
"Yeah." DG looked away, as intense as the dream had been she felt silly discussing it.
"What was it about?"
Opening her mouth DG paused, deciding a half truth would be best. "You were in trouble. That's why I'm here I wanted to check on you."
Azkadellia studied her for a moment, she could sense that DG was holding something back but she decided not to pursue it. "Perhaps, you should tell it to Tutor he is good at dream interpretation."
"It was just a dream. Lighten up, sis." She bumped her sister's shoulder playfully.
Azkedallia jerked away from the contact.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean any harm. I was just playing." For a moment DG thought she caught a flash of fury in wide, dark eyes.
Turning back to the window Azkadellia closed her eyes and fought for control of her raging emotions.
DG noticed she seemed paler than a moment ago.
"It's alright, DG. I know you were just trying to cheer me up. It's just..." her eyes opened and she stared off into the dark. "I'm not...comfortable begin touched."
DG blinked several times letting the words sink in. "Didn't people touch you before?"
A humorless chuckle slipped from Azkadellia's lips. "Not if they vaulted their lives."
"You mean there was no one the witch allowed to get close to you?"
"No, she did not want anything or anyone to distract me from the emerald." Azkadellia raised her chin with an air of defiance. "Besides, I would not have wanted anyone she would have 'allowed' me."
DG shivered at the thought of who the witch would have chosen for her sister. Yet, she felt grateful that her sister had not had to suffer the horror of having someone forced on her. "Has it been that why since the beginning?"
"Almost, in the beginning you wouldn't come near me."
She noticed DG's gaze dropped to the floor. "I don't blame you Deeg, you knew the truth, even though no one would believe you." There was a hint of anger behind the last part. "Mother claimed nothing was wrong yet she kept her distance as well." Turning back to the storm she spoke softly. "Only father made any effort to hold me and the witch did everything she could to avoid him. Then one day he just disappeared. He didn't even say good-bye." Tears gathered in her eyes and there was a slight tremble to her lower lip.
DG could see the emotions hovering so close to the surface. She tried to will her sister to let go, to give in to her emotions.
But it was not to be, Azkadellia drew a deep breath releasing it slowly. The tears were gone and the emotions buried.
"Az, you can't keep holding back. Sooner or later you're going to have to let go of your emotions. Otherwise one day they're just going to burst loose on their own."
Turning from the storm Azkadellia studied her sister for moment. "Perhaps, but not today."
Lowering her head DG tried to think of some argument that would reach her sister's damaged psychic.
"You should go now." Azkadellia commanded as she turned her attention to the storm.
Blinking at the harsh tone DG started to protest.
Sensing her sister's hurt Azkadellia continued in a gentler tone. "Get some rest, it's been a long day and tomorrow will be longer."
DG felt tears brimming in her eyes, she wanted to throw her arms around her sister and tell her that everything would be okay. But things were not okay their worlds had been turned upside down and the days of solving a problem with a hug and a bedtime story were long gone.
Still she couldn't just walk away, placing a gentle hand on Azkadellia's arm, she felt muscles tighten under her touch, to her relieve Az made no attempt to pull away, though she would not meet DG's gaze.
With a slight squeeze DG released her and started toward the door. Outside the storm raged harder.
Grasping the doorknob she stopped and turned back to say goodnight. Once more the lightening flashed silhouetting Azkadellia. DG realized how alone she looked, a solitary figure in the dark.
Memories of a stormy night many years ago flashed through her mind.
"Hey, baby girl what's wrong?" Hank Gale pulled his little daughter into his lap.
"I'm scared of the storm, poppa."
"Oh, don't cha be afraid, your mom and I will protect you."
A smile crossed DG's face at the memory. Then she felt the pull of a cloaked memory unveiling, closing her eyes she allowed it to flow through her.
A young Azkadellia sat in the middle of a large bed holding her close. "It's alright, Deeg. I won't let the storm hurt you."
Snuggling closer her younger self held onto Azkadellia tightly. "I love you, Az."
She felt a soft kiss on top of her head. "I love you too, Deeg."
Tears slipped down her cheeks as the memories unleashed a flood of emotions. For the first time since the leaving Kansas she realized how lucky she had been. There had always been someone there to love and care for her. Yet, Azkadellia had lived the last fifteen years alone, a prisoner in her own body.
Opening her eyes DG knew she couldn't do it, she couldn't abandon her sister to the darkness. Crossing the room she stopped behind Az and silently stared at her back for a moment. There was so much she wanted to say, yet the words would not come and she knew even if they did they would not be enough.
Slowly she slipped her arms around her sister's slender waist. Careful not to make any sudden moves DG pressed against Azkadellia's back and lowered her head against her shoulder. For the first time DG realized how small and frail her sister felt. "I love you, Az."
Azkadellia froze holding her breath. Every fiber of her being screamed to run, to pull away from the strange feeling of warmth were DG pressed against her back. Forcing back the sense of panic she willed herself to remain still.
Feeling the tension in her sister's body DG feared she would pull away from the embrace. "Please, don't sent me away." begged DG her face buried against her sister's shoulder.
The muffled voice sounded so childlike, it touched some long forgotten memory in Azkadellia. Slowly she raised a hand and patted the arms wrapped around her waist. "I won't."
The arms tightened in response. Taking a deep breath Azkadellia closed her eyes. Had anyone else tried to hold her in such a manner she would have driven them away, but there was something deep inside the most guarded parts of her being that longed to be near the girl.
Staring into the darkness Azkadellia wondered if her sister would continue to love her so unconditionally once all of her sins were brought to light. She shivered at the thought of losing the girl again.
Behind her DG snuggled closer thinking her sister was chilled
The action caused tears to sting Azkadellia's eyes and shielded by the dark she allowed them to slip unchecked down her cheeks. Tomorrow's light would bring out the horrors of the present, but for tonight they would live in the dark of the past. Somewhere deep in her mind she heard the soft echo of two children singing a long forgotten nursery rhythm. 'Two little princesses...'