My Other Half
By Daryl Falchion
"My lonely heart...lost in dark...Walk the dark path...sleep with angels...Touch me with you love...and reveal to me my true name..."(Nemo, The highest Hopes The Best of Nighwish)
She awoke to the crackle and smell of fire. Hurriedly throwing on a robe, Yuna stepped downstairs to see what the racket was for. She'd spent the better part of the day healing sick children while their parents uttered curses in her direction. The summoner was tired and longed for nothing more than to fall into the folds of peaceful sleep again. Sleep would have to wait, however.
Her mouth gaped open as wide as the door when she shoved it back to reveal a throng of villagers at her doorstep. Their eyes shined with the firelight, shined with anger. Her heart sank as stone in the water. She's sacrificed so much of her time and energy to save their families and loved ones. That was not enough. Staring into their glaring faces and their gleaming weapons she knew the few times she'd failed justified persecuting her in their minds.
Her voice rose in pleading but died out when the weapons were unsheathed and lifted in the midnight air. She turned around and hiked up her nightgown, fleeing into the shadows of the little houses. They were hot on her heels. Their curses cut through her; their shouts shredded her hope. Yuna ran as fast as her little legs could carry her but step by step they grew closer.
The summoner had not expected the courtesy of thanks for her efforts—though that was only proper—but neither had she expected this witch-hunt.
There were simply too many of them to evade. Like weeds they sprang up all around her, swinging their swords and spears when she was within range. Someone had the idea to throw stones and the others swiftly followed suit. One struck her shoulder and another hit her knee. It gave way and she stumbled to the grass, gasping in pain.
Sweat trickled down her face...or was that tears? Yuna hardly knew now and cared less. All she cared for was to be away from these ungrateful people who took her success with complaint and her failures with fury. Pushing herself half-up by her arms the summoner glimpsed around to see that the villagers had trapped her in the village square.
Fight back? No, she could not do that. Surely she'd take down many before they killed her but what was the point? Yuna had no desire to hurt them...but nether had she any desire to die. Again, she spoke up as they circled, drawing ever nearer. Logic. Reason. Mercy...it all meant nothing to them.
In desperation, the summoner spun her hand in the air, forming a glowing glyph in the sky. It was like none she'd seen before; a truly bizarre combination of colors and symbols. It burned bright then faded just as fast. With it faded the hope in heart. There would be no Aeon to come to her aid. Valefor and the others were long since gone.
Then a light flashed, forestalling the steps of the crowd. A pillar of brilliance it slammed to the ground not five feet from Yuna. She threw up her arms to shield her one blue eye and one green eye. The light traced on the ground light a laser, burning a pentagram into the grass. It flared once more and then vanished entirely.
Where the symbol had been there was now a kneeling figure.
"Who... what are you?" The summoner did not know how the words got past the lump in her throat though she recognized the voice as hers'.
Slowly the figure stood, black trench-coat billowing out as he stood, his back to her. His head lifted and a waterfall of silver poured down the shoulders. His right arm stretched out, each finger extending fully. Then he turned around. The instant Yuna saw his face she was mesmerized. It was as if it were sculpted from marble with sea-green gemstones as his eyes. They were sharp, his mouth was twisted into a proud sneer and his left hand casually draped over a lengthy sword.
All in heartbeat she took this in and burned it in her memory.
Apparently the mob didn't know what to make of him either. To a man they were stunned silent, some even shaking. Already a few had fled, tossing their weapons aside. The fire of those remaining torches intensified as a sharp wind picked up.
"Who brought me here—and why?!" The words were cutting and they cut through Yuna who had begun to shiver.
Several of the villagers gestured at her perhaps because they feared he'd focus his ire on them. His eyes flashed over to her, took her in then took a few steps toward her. Yuna panicked and scampered backwards, staggering to a leg. In a flash of speed the man snatched her forearm and pulled her close. He was a good deal taller than her and his aura of arrogance magnified it.
"What is your name!?" His voice was as powerful as his grip.
"Yu-Yuna. Yuna Braska."
"How did you bring me here...and why?"
Around them the mob had started to stir, muttering in anger and confusion. When neither Yuna nor the silver-haired man responded some of them approached, weapons at ready. Perhaps they thought this was a ruse by her to aid her escape. Yuna squirmed in the man's grasp but she might as well have been trying to haul down a mountain.
"I don't know...You're not an Aeon..."
"A what? No." The silver-haired man strained his neck to appraise the approaching crowd, his eyes narrowing to slits. "Do not come any closer if you value your lives." His unoccupied hand drifted down to the length of steel and drew it in one swift motion. All the while his grasp on the summoner never lessened. "This matter is between me and...Yuna."
A chorus of protests followed his declaration along with the ring of metal as they stepped forward. The heart that already beat wildly in her chest became so loud in the summoner's ears that she swore her captor must feel it through his arm. Who would kill her first? The mystery man or the crowd? Yuna tried recalling some spell she might use against either of them but all such spells slipped from her mind.
"You are coming with me until I understand what has happened here."
At this point the crowd was within striking distance—for the black-caped man. In a blinding sideways sweep that left Yuna dazzled he cut down the nearest villagers. Blood splattered everywhere. Screams echoed in the night. One the downed villagers dropped his lantern and it broke. Flames eagerly ate up the grass and spread fast.
"Who...who are you?" Yuna gasped, shaking brown wisps out of her eyes.
After that stunning display the villagers who could still stand ran screeching into the night. Weapons fell with disarray. As heartened as she was to see them gone Yuna couldn't help but feel that she stumbled out of the frying pan and into the fire—literally. When she'd appeased the villagers they remained at least somewhat cordial. What did this strange man have planned for her?
The flames quickly formed a wall around the summoner and her captor. That didn't deter him. Pulling his captive close, the silver-haired man dragged her through the fire. She yelped as the heat seared her skin—but otherwise left her untouched. Not a spark marred her fine hair.
The firelight in his eyes as he lifted a hand to the starlit heavens. A pillar of light like before showered them. They spun away into the light that leaked darkness. That darkness stole her sight and awareness. Before all consciousness was lost Yuna heard a single word: