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Sora

Chapter 4: Memory Mansion

I felt a familiar darkness looming over me. It seemed as though I could no longer escape the fate of a dark, lonely death at sea. I could hear the waves. They rushed up to save me from the jealous land, and then were dragged away in shackles and chains. Oh, how I wish they'd get just far enough to shackle me, too.

"Sora."

A shimmering figure interrupted my sweet dreams of suicide. I had to open my eyes to regard it properly. There, standing on the brink of sea and land, was my mother.

"How…? I thought…"

She smiled sadly, beautiful goddess that she was. Ten years ago, she'd decided to stop traveling with father. My sister, Alyss, had been slain while still in the womb. A misplaced sword to the gut. Father and I have never really gotten over it.

Nor did she.

Besides, Mother was ill. We didn't want to hurt her any further. So, we let her go. She had been restored to full health, and even had joined a mage's black magic practice. Thus, seeing her before me did not, to me, seem like a sign that she had passed, but rather as a representation of her magic power.

"Sora, what has become of you, my child?"

"I'm fine, Mother…but, just…a bit confused. I believe I was dreaming…a girl…and a sword—"

"Twasn't a dream, child. Waken. Stand and give chase. Do you not wish to gain your freedom, Sora?"

"Of course, Mother. But, tis impossible! How am I, mere child of a pirate, to coax a warrior from a young flower?"

"The choice remains yours. But do this for the lass as well, Sora, and I'm sure you will be rewarded. I will no longer stay herebut I will grant you the memories of the city that I know. Use them well, child."

"But…" She was already gone. But, I knew where to go, what to do.

And so I walked. Stumbled, really, toward the outer most part of the town. Mother's memories regarded this place as beautiful once. Now, it only seemed solemn. Even the shadows, dancing upon walls from a distant bonfire, had some sad disposition about them. I grimaced to think of what had caused such depression. Even the sky seemed depressed, as they opened up to drench me with their tears.

I soon reached a part of the town that had been likely uninhabited for some time now. I could tell as a wooden pole towered high above yonder houses, warning the disobedient scallywags against rebellion. Burns tarnished the bottom of the wood. Again, a shiver ripped through me.

"What poor wretch deserved a stake burning in this day? Nay, no civilian, but we, pirates, methinks."

The house in front of me was my goal. The rain had soaked through to my very bones, it seemed, but alas, I trudged onward. The mansion was huge. Gorgeous in design, and seemingly fitting of the couple in my mother's memory. The door had been left open, most likely her doing. So I allowed myself in, thanking the memory of the couple for their unintended hospitality.

"Be I a sword, nay, a girl, what shadow would be fit to hide in?"

A crash from below got me my answer. I found the basement door and slowly descended the stairs. I instantly felt a presence. A strong one at that. I readied Oathkeeper, be it that I had to fight. It was a dark presence. Almost remorseful actually. I respected such power, instead of pitying it. I continued downward and I almost sighed in relief at how nice the house had stayed in one piece, but grimaced as the last stair creaked.

"Shit," I swore as I heard the occupant move to acknowledge me. It was then that a bolt of lightning shot through the sky, illuminating even the basement as it struck some poor tree somewhere. It was indeed the girl who had come this far and the one thought that came to me, surprisingly, was not the beauty in her features as they became briefly visible, nay. I noticed a dark glittering in her right hand.

It was the Oblivion.

Kairi

Had I known that my house would be so dark, I would have thought to bring a match, at least. But, bereft of such a gift, I stumbled through the unyielding dark, searching for an item I knew not of in the first place. But, I still knew my goal's whereabouts. The cellar. If only I could…

The door slid open with a dull creek and then the only sound in my mother's house was the rain on the roof. My breathing was heavy, be it from the run over here or my anxiety. I attempted to swallow the fear churning in my stomach. I wouldn't fear the unknown. I couldn'tfear it. T'wasn't it what I sought the whole time? My freedom? My chance at a life? And somewhere down there was my ticket out. Why wait? Why dally so?

Why,indeed?

I gasped aloud, steadying myself on the railing to the steps. My mind was ablaze with many thoughts. None of which where my own. It was a dull buzz that combined into a crescendo of doubts, worries…pain.

You've been cheated. Betrayed, restricted, ruled. Just like the rest of us. Just like all of us. We know. We have your pain. Your growing anxiety is merely your heart at the edge of a great excitement. So come, child. Come. See what is in store for you. Regrets, doubts, all lingering sentiments to be cast aside.

The voice bid me. And so I obeyed. But, not of obligation. It intrigued me. Taunted me. Inflamed my very soul, until the voices became a silky rope that tugged my aching heart toward my salvation. I reached the bottom step, which I vaguely noted creaked under my weight, and was transfixed by the way a flash of lightning illuminated the room. On the far side of the cellar was a portrait of who I assumed to be my mother. She was a vision in red velvet and silk. Her maroon hair, the same as mine, but her eyes were pure violet, as mine were a mix.

She was spectacular. The memories I had of her were bleak. I could not remember her face or the way she dressed. I could only recall her voice, crystal clear and very commanding, ordering me to stay hidden under the bed as the Brits came to kill her.

A single voice, this time, bid me forward.

Is she not beautiful, Kairi?

The man's voice was soft, loving. It worshipped the woman I saw in the picture as if she were a sea goddess. And by the glimpse I got of the picture before the bolt's light left me, I could easily believe it. Cray had once told me, on a particular night where he was drunk enough to spill his guts, that I was a ghost of my mother. He had called her a queen of the sea. Told me stories more of her, than of my father. How she had traveled with him in her youth, exploring the seas and even how she had been more the captain to that ship than Cray's father, Jecht. But, if that was so, then why had she stayed here after I was born? It didn't make sense…

Even I in my rebellious mind, would have dropped all fight to heed her. She just had that sort of…

Presence, Kairi. She had a physical presence in this world. All that surrounded her knew of her power, her demand to lead. She was not like the British women, competing for a smaller size in every division save the bust. Her entire being was her message to every scurvy dog of the seven seas. And all heeded her.

I neared the portrait. Eager to put myself anywhere that awesome woman was. My father had been a man of the sea. And my mother, had been there along with him. I could have never been more proud to call them my parents, or sure of my resolve to leave this place. I continued forward until my legs rammed into a chest. I looked not to it, though. I stared only at the picture, which I could not make out in the dark, but the image would be forever engraved in my mind.

Is she not beautiful, Kairi? Is she not powerful? Is she not you?

I gasped as a sudden shock overcame me. My whole body tingled with an unknown force. I gazed down at the chest, feeling the anxiety disappear, replaced by a sense of authority. I rested my hand on the chest, and flipped the unlocked latch away.

The heavy wood was sodden and rotting, but I was not skittish of touching things slimy, rotten or otherwise considered "grotesque". I lifted the lid. A dark eminence surrounded me and I reached down to grasp that which would become mypower.

Are you not beautiful?

Are you not powerful?

I lifted the blade and even in the dark, I could tell its exact shape and make up. It was a part of me. And with it, I was lethal.

I challenged anyone, Brit or otherwise, to attempt to steal this power. This beautiful, consuming madness of pure authority over any dominion. My smile must have been truly frightening.

And as if to acknowledge my request, a creak sounded from the bottom step, drawing me from my thoughts. I whirled around in calm defense, sure now to raise this hellish blade against any fool thinking themselves so invincible as to contend with me.

I heard not a grown man's voice, but a young one's curse from the entrance. And just as I would always keep that portrait in my mind's eye, I'd always recognize his voice.

My guess was confirmed as another thundering bolt of brilliance brought light to his face. The eyes I had dreamed of more than I could say, captivated me with their wonder. But, at the same time, alarmed me. Those orbs of deep sapphire were not locked on me, but on the sword resting in my hand. For a moment, I tensed in defense, gripping the Oblivion so hard I swore it hissed in rebuttal. That drew his attention back to my face immediately, filling me once again with a stellar ego that such a simple body movement had given a command.

Darkness again clouded the room and the sound of rain and our breathing was the only noise for awhile. If he had naught to say to me, I decided, I would address him first.

But it twasn't me who made that move.

A dull click sounded from the head of the stairs. I could almost imagine the barrel of a gun pointed right at the lad before me. The damn coward was waiting for another lightning bolt to illuminate his target, then he'd fire for sure. Instead of waiting for that moment, I lunged at the boy, knowing whoever it was wouldn't shoot me if they knew who I was.

"Blasted pirate scum, have at ye!" I cried as my body collided with him, tossing us both to the floor. I heard the gun slinger curse thumping down the stairs to assist me. I had no time, and being the impulsive girl that I was, I did the first thing that came to mind.

"Forgive me, but please bear with this small pain and I promise I'll bail ya out at some point, you've my word," I hissed in his ear whilst banging my foot on the ground. The footsteps got closer and I could hear the Brit's harsh breathing.

The boy beneath me struggled and was only able to mutter a graceless, "Wha?" before I swung the blunt end of my sword to strike the back of his head. It worked wonders and I felt him stiffen then go limp under my weight.

My victory was insignificant if I could not hide the blade I had come here for, and conveniently enough, as soon as stashing my weapon crossed my mind, the blade simply faded into nothing, leaving behind a heavy bracelet, shackling me to the power, in its wake. I sighed in relief as the Brit reached us.

"Miss Kairi! Be ya okay? Sir William was quite worried bout ya. And for good reason. Who woulda thunk? A pirate! Here, in the Port! I oughta keel the runt for it."

I recognized the voice as Sir Thomas, one of William's workers. I clenched my teeth and stood. I had a promise to fulfill and I wouldn't be aborted by this lug.

"Why, Sir Thomas, I do believe death is not a worthy punishment in this case. I shall see him tried for his crimes. We do not yet know if he is indeed a pirate, after all."

"But Miss, I don't think dat—"

"No, you don't think. T'isn't your job to think. Therefore, get a move on. I'd like to get some shut eye tonight, thank you very much, Sir Thomas. You're wasting my time."

"Miss. E's a pirate. Must be. Gotta be. Can't I just keel him?"

"No! Under no circumstances may you lay your filthy hands on him, Sir. Now, listen you! You are going to pick the lad up and escort me to the jail, sign him in and leave, regardless of his fate. That or so help me God I'll be takin' your neck faster than you can piss your pants! Would you like to test that notion, Sir?"

I felt no different saying it than as I felt, but the look of terror I imagined on his face brought a grin to my face. I loved it.

"Y-…yes'm. Right away!" As the oaf scrambled to get his bearings together, I began to plot. How in the world was I to escape here? Even on my own, t'would be impossible, but to break out the boy and escape…?

An idea sparked inside my mind, causing a disturbingly large smile to crawl across my face. I'd need some help from a certain ex-sailor, but I was sure it would work. I followed Sir Thomas to the prison, and sure enough, the boy's trial was to be in a week. I had time, if only I could use it efficiently.

I bid the lad a silent goodbye, hoping, praying, that I could figure this out. I still had returning home to deal with and now Elizabeth wouldn't trust me anymore than before, even less. William and the girls would have a tough time letting me run around as I saw fit too. This would be complicated indeed.

I gave the unconscious pirate one final, fleeting glance, and steeled myself. I would do this, damnit!

"I'll be back for you, I promise," I whispered as I exited the jail with both fists clenched.


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