A/N: Hello all! Sooo sorry it's been such a long time since the last chapter, but I want to say again that I will never abandon a fic…ever. It's been super psycho the last couple months; I've literally had to put the whole rest of my life on hold as I adapt to a new job, a bro married, a bro divorcing, still trying to get my finances in order so I can get back into college…blah, blah, blah. Throw family health problems into the fray and it gets even more fun…. Anyhow, Merry belated Christmas for those of you who celebrate that, as well as all the other 'winter' holidays: Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and so on. Happy New Year as well! Well, again, thanks for waiting, I'm happy to say we're nearly done with this fic! So, here we go…onward!
Aladdin & the Heirs of Magic Ch. 114: Woven and Bound
Desdane drew himself up and stretched a hand towards them. Blood flames rippled menacingly over his skin.
"It is far past time we end this," he coolly avowed.
Eden met Genie's eyes; Sadira held back when the genies wordlessly agreed on something and lunged at the old sorcerer together.
A small object flew out from Desdane's robes as he was flung against the far wall.
Epiphany dawned in Sadira and she sprinted for it as sounds of grappling erupted behind her. She blew out a relieved breath that she'd remembered to summon up her Emerald Mantle and ruby medallion before confronting Desdane again.
She berated herself for not retrieving her Scepter though.
Once her quarry was stashed in her aqua sash, she spun around hearing Al call out and Farid snarl in retaliation.
She ran for them; Al was already trying to wrestle down his brother, covering his mouth so the other wizard couldn't speak any spells.
Sadira felt something warm in her pocket-the Mystic Blue Diamond!
She gasped and desperately fished it out, gesturing for Al to let the Farid up. The Bloodknife's magic was supposedly unstoppable, but an idea lit in her mind—she had to try.
Aladdin threw her an incredulous look, as if he could read her thoughts.
"Do it," she pressed, pulling the ring out so Farid could see it.
The dark eyed mage instantly stilled upon glimpsing it; his lips parting in what Sadira hoped was recognition as she held the sparkling azure stone a little higher. The ring's magic tingled through her thin fingers; stirring the bond it had made between her and the oppressed wizard.
Al took a slow, subtle step away from Farid, giving Sadira a hopeful, pleading look.
"Al, leave," she said, keeping her eyes locked on Farid.
Aladdin gaped at her, and took a breath to argue; brotherly instinct kicking in, Sadira guessed.
Al was sometimes too loyal for his own good.
Behind them, Genie and Eden jointly blasted Desdane down a staircase beside the balcony doors.
"Do it," Sadira cut in, "go help Genie."
Al gulped hard, looked worriedly at Farid, but nodded.
He moved slowly to the stairs so as to not spook Farid from his transfixed state, vanishing after the others.
Sadira hoped it was struggle she could see in those dark eyes staring back at her.
She hoped that the ring was enough to bring him back; that somehow it could overpower the Bloodknife, in spite of what the legends all said.
The crimson gash on his flesh palm made her cringe.
She waited until Al's footsteps faded away before taking a careful step closer to Farid. Those dark eyes riveted from the glinting stone to her face; his expression less sleepy, but twitched with aggression as she drew near. She stopped, not wanting to provoke him.
"It's me, Farid," she softly told him, "Sadira," her lips quirked into a humored smirk for a second as she recalled something, "you know? 'Sand mouse.'"
Something that resembled amusement—and recognition?—flicked across otherwise vacant eyes. Hope kindled in her. "You gave me this, remember? The ring," and she watched with bated breath as his gaze returned to the stone as she took another step. Her heart raced when she realized that awareness was slowly creeping back into his expression. She pushed gently, "I…I never asked you to," it was suddenly harder to breath as her throat closed—why, why WHY had he drained so much of his magic to protect her?!—"but you did,"-oh, blast, were those tears she felt coming!?—"why?" She tried to force the walls down and offer him as sincere a look as she could; he was so infernally cynical about people after all. "Why did you do it?"
He was so infernally cynical about people, after all.
Pale lips parted and concern welled up in Sadira as Farid began to shiver, his already alabaster skin paling; there was no longer the flare of defiance in his eyes, of tiny sparks of fight.
His eyes were broken, and mournful.
Sadira could feel it, through the ring. Poised between them it was holding much of the Bloodknife's influence at bay. It bound Farid to her; and as Desdane was no longer in the chamber with them, the Bloodknife's power was waned.
Waned enough perhaps to reach him? Sadira had sent Al away because if Farid attacked, she didn't want brother to fight brother; without his Aura Al was vulnerable now anyways.
It had to be her.
Was her faith in Farid for nothing? Most had thought so.
The time had come to find out.
"I know you're still in there, Farid," she entreated, "you're too stubborn to just give up."
Farid took a step away from her, shaking harder.
"Farid, I know you've endured horrible things," and Sadira flinched guiltily when Farid made a strangled sound, and he shrank from her more, his back finally meeting the wall, "but I also know you're not gone; you wouldn't just leave Xerxes, he needs you to take care of him."
Farid winced; Sadira caught her breath as suddenly, like a warning flare, panic…desperation flashed in his eyes.
Groaning, Farid buckled over and clutched his brow; the sand witch gulped.
Thank the fates; she had been right.
He was fighting.
Farid was still in there…and he was fighting the Bloodknife.
Sadira ran to him when he panted in pain and sank to the floor.
"Farid! Farid!" she seized his arms and turned him up to face her. His flesh hand grasped her upper arm seemingly of its own volition and Sadira hissed in pain.
"C…can't," Farid forced out, his eyes glassy with agony when they met hers, "…stop."
'Can't fight it,' that's what he was saying.
She swallowed hard when it hit he also was asking her to stop him.
In other words: kill him.
Resolve swelled in her chest. "No," she firmly said, "I won't let you quit. You can't give up now. I won't explain to your father and Aladdin that you abandoned them."
His raw gaze impaled her; panicked and pleading. Sadira pressed the ring into his hand. "You gave me this to protect me, it's my turn to do the same for you."
Once the ring touched his skin Farid yelped in pain before buckling over into her lap. Sadira wrapped her arms around him reflexively, and blew out a breath of relief when his trembling tapered off.
"Fool…mouse," a harsh, panting voice rebuked her, and Sadira actually laughed. She didn't care if he was reproving her.
"You have no idea how wonderful it is to hear you complaining again," she said without thinking.
And then thought about it, which only made her laugh again.
A tired, dry chuckle met her ears. "Mouse."
His abruptly withered tone jarred her. She looked down as he forced himself with another groan to sit up. He was still shaking, albeit less.
He looked so ill; her insides twisted in worry.
"You have…to go…now," he flatly said.
"I won't just leave you," she protested, indignant. "After everything we've already been through?"
That mournful look was back, he glanced down at the ring. "You've…," he shook violently all the sudden and Sadira reached to steady him, but he held up a forestalling hand, "you've only warded off…inevitable. This ring," he choked and shuddered, recoiling on himself—the battle was still going on inside him, Sadira intuited—"it…only shields a little; but when I…run out of strength—"
"Which means you need your own magic back," Sadira put in.
"Desdane…locked it…in the Ruby…only he can command it out."
"Why? Because of the Bloodknife?"
Farid painfully nodded.
Farid riveted to her with a shocked expression. "'Good'?" he echoed in disbelief.
Sadira pulled out the object she'd retrieved from Desdane—
It was the Bloodknife.
Farid looked at it in bemusement. "When did you-?"
Sadira shook her head. "That doesn't matter. What matters is that we can undo what he did to you," she shrugged loosely, "or at the very least, overwhelm it."
Farid was clearly too busy fighting his inner battle to follow her line of thinking. He only gave her a bewildered look and hissed suddenly in pain. Sadira took his arm.
"There's way to do this Farid," she insisted—don't let him give up, don't let him give up—he choked again and went rigid and Sadira sensed the Bloodknife trying to reassert itself. She put the Bloodknife to his palm. "You were bound the Desdane against your will," she said over his yell of pain, "but if you bind yourself willingly to someone else, Desdane's hold will be beaten."
Farid shook his head forcefully, now understanding. "You…no," his voice was strangled by the inner conflict "not…want…not to me."
Sadira sobered. "I'm not giving you a choice, you can't leave us."
He stilled at that; everything inside of him—including the binding—thrown by what she'd said.
Us; she was including herself. Sadira stilled too; belatedly realizing the same.
There; she'd pretty much come out and said it then. No turning back.
The thought occurred to her she didn't want to turn back, regardless.
Around him she no longer felt so alone, that when she was with Aladdin and the others she was no longer the friend on the outside looking in. He was like her: another magician, another loner trying to navigate through life, trying to understand their place in it, their purpose.
And she'd gotten so used his little glimpses of humanity hidden beneath the sarcasm and contempt.
"No," he said again, cutting into her thoughts.
She took his palm and pressed the Knife to it; he weakly tried to wrench it away, but she held him fast.
From the stair case, sounds of battle echoed from the landing below; Sadira could feel a surge of darkness as Desdane's power consumed the chamber below them.
Farid's hand chilled. He glanced to the doorway and then her. "L…leave," he begged.
"No, I'm not leaving you," Sadira held his hand up with the Knife poised. "And I won't let you leave me."
Too many emotions to name wrenched Sadira's insides as they both froze at her words. Farid's gaze filled with numerous…something's that passed unsaid between them. The sounds below got louder. Something that sounded very large crashed violently against something else that sounded metallic.
"Say it," Sadira practically ordered, "agree willingly."
Farid shook his head.
Panic seared the magician's stomach as she felt Desdane close in. "Do it!"
Farid didn't relent. He tried again to yank his hand away. Sadira grasped frantically in her mind for options as Farid re-launched his battle not only against the Knife, but her too.
She knew he was only trying to protect her; no doubt deducing she'd seen inside his mind once before—and had nearly gone insane as a result.
He was shielding her from his personal hell. But if she let him; he'd doom himself.
She pulled his trembling form up to her, feeling the other sorcerer now closing in—which could only mean he bettered Genie and his friend.
She was shaking now too.
"Farid, you have two choices," her voice was hard laced with desperation and panic. "You either agree willingly,"—
Farid shook his head, sweat beaded on his pale brow—
Sadira's insides clenched. "Fine." She yanked his flesh wrist and pressed torn hand against hers. "Then I'll cut both of our hands with the Knife anyways."
"N….no!" Farid tried to wrench his hand from hers, but Sadira held him fast.
He was too weak from his inner battle to fight her too.
"You'll…doom…yourself," he panted out, begging her with those dark eyes to not do it.
Sadira leaned down so their noses nearly touched. "Then your only way to save me is to agree," she softly, meaningfully pointed out.
He stilled, lips parted to plead with her to not, to desert him to his fate.
Clearly the steel he saw in her face told him it was useless.
Dark closed in all around them. Desdane would return at any moment.
Farid jerked his gaze to the door, then her. "You…fool…mouse," he half bit out.
Sadira wasn't repulsed. "Say it," she practically snapped. There was no time left.
Now or never.
Farid realized it too, it seemed. His face sobered, and was that pity she saw staring back at her?
But when Genie, charred and blackened, shot out of the corridor, yelling, Sadira held back no longer—
She cut the Knife into her palm.
She wasn't dead.
Somehow, even though he'd sensed her leave this world, she'd found a way to come back.
He didn't know who had accomplished it; but he silently thanked them, whoever they were; she was still too new a mage to have uncovered the means on her own—he didn't know the secrets, and had trained for years longer than her.
The shock of seeing her had given his street rat brother the window to tackle him, to wrestle him to the ground; a tiny part of Farid's mind remembered to be startled that Aladdin had shown sense enough to keep a hand over his mouth to prevent spell uttering.
Even with his mind numbed with the thick fog of the Bloodknife's magic, Farid had felt the avalanche of disbelief plow down Desdane's hold over him.
The mouse assumed it was the ring's magic that had cut through the binding spell; no, it had been the shock wave of seeing her—alive—standing in that doorway that had cracked the oppressive fortress holding him prisoner in his own mind.
Infinite relief, like first light breaking through after the storm, gave way to the dark eclipse of fear.
He had battled the manacles in his thoughts even as he fought the terror of seeing her here, in the Citadel.
The Citadel; so very close to Desdane—too close.
He tried to make her understand he was lost, that there was no saving him; that she had to get away, to save herself.
But of course, of course, the stubborn mouse wouldn't listen. She pled for him to have hope, to fight.
For his family's sake—for Xerxes.
No; his father and Aladdin had each other, they didn't need him.
And the mouse could take care of Xerxes.
No one needed him to survive this, realism insidiously whispered in his ear.
But then she did the unthinkable, she included herself in the list.
Fresh amazement pulled him under, like a whirlpool into the unlit fathoms.
He pushed her words away, tried to ignore how they slashed across his heart like talons, how he wanted—wanted, wanted, WANTED—to listen, to imagine possibilities unknown to him until now—but NO.
Giving in to that temptation would be the end of them all—her included.
And he couldn't allow that.
But then, she revealed once again that she could be as obstinate, as unrelenting as, as….
Well; as him.
Blast it all….
She held the hateful Knife the both of their palms, and threatened to cut them both even if he didn't agree; even if he was unwilling, she'd do it.
And damn herself in the process…fool mouse!
Why, why couldn't he make her understand!? If she used the Bloodknife without his agreement, Desdane would still wield the stronger hold—she'd condemn herself to a place of eternal limbo, stuck between Farid's half madness and Desdane's sadistic machinations.
Until he glimpsed in her determined eyes, that no; she already knew, and was still unwavering.
She was resolved to save him—that realization froze him cold, stilled his sharp tongue and paralyzed him where he lay—
Because he couldn't for the life of him understand why.
Why, why would she throw herself away? Why would she give up everything on the possibility that she might be able to save him?
But his thoughts were shattered by Aladdin's pet genie propelled from the closed-in stairway, obviously the worse for wear, colliding unceremoniously into a table, books and scrolls scattering everywhere.
The mouse began to cut—
"All right!" he heard himself cry.
It was the only way to limit the nightmare she was about to throw herself into.
He met her gaze, those caramel eyes now open and questioning—
"I…," was he truly going to say it? "I…give myself…to you," he swallowed back the mounting terror. "Willingly."
He damned her; his existence damned her.
Just like his mother, now in her grave.
He squeezed his eyes shut when she sliced her palms, his teeth baring in a silent grimace. He heard the yelp of pain from her, but neither of them screamed.
When Desdane had bound them, searing fire had slashed through his mind as the Knife tied and wound their spirits together in unbreakable knots.
He didn't expect the cool oasis of relief that splashed across his thoughts, the healing wells that washed away nearly all of Desdane's putrid hold over him.
That same coolness flooded his body; he went limp in the mouse's arms.
He wasn't sure how much time passed when his swimming senses finally came to. He blinked, and looked up at the mouse.
Her face was pale, but otherwise she looked all right. His gaze shifted to her palm.
The blood was beginning to clot already, forming a dried line of terrible scarlet on her slender hand.
His thoughts were no longer a menagerie of screaming insanity. He could rebuke her properly.
"Do you have any concept of what you've done?" he softly bit out, and then realized his tone wasn't nearly as harsh as he'd planned.
She only smiled down at him—her lips partly a smirk too. "Mmm-hmm. And you wouldn't have done the same for me?"
He hated the knowing glinting in her eyes.
"That isn't the point," he retorted without thinking.
And then he thought about it.
She only smiled again.
Apparently the swirling mayhem of their minds bonding had only lasted a few seconds, because the pet genie was just rising, still smoking from the pile of destruction his landing had caused.
"Ohhh boy! Moze, your old boss just can't take a joke!"
He poofed back to normal and looked around, worried.
"Uhhhhh, where's Eden?"
"Why, my dear genie; she's right here," a dark voice pleasantly said.
Everyone riveted to the arched stairway, where Desdane regally stood, a small, ruby colored glass bottle in one partly outstretched hand.
Inside a miniature Eden was yelling silently and pounding her fists against the glass.
"Ixober glass," Farid whispered.
Desdane grinned. "Indeed, my pupil," he gestured with his free hand, "made from the Crystals of Ix it's more than capable of trapping an impertinent genie."
Before he or Sadira could stop him, Genie charged, shouting: "Genie woman!"
Desdane was ready. He carelessly flicked a wrist at Genie and another bottle appeared, of emerald translucent glass.
One blinding golden flash later it plopped to the stone floor, Genie trapped inside.
Farid gulped, leaned to Sadira. "I'll distract him; you destroy the Ruby of Arimiset."
Sadira looked at him, eyes wide.
"It's got Aladdin's Aura in it; and a good amount of Genie's magic. Plus it has my magic."
Meanwhile Desdane waved to the bottle and it flitted to his awaiting hand. He casually placed them both in a wooden box, ornately carved, and perched on a small table beside him. "And are you children done plotting, or do you require more time?" he conversationally asked, turning back to them.
A/N: Well, that's all for now kids! I hope you enjoyed, PLZ leave some love for the writer. I'm a review junkie, won't even try to deny it! Otherwise, I've got some training coming up this week for a promotion I'm getting, so I don't see another chapter coming up this week, maybe next. But, in the meantime, we're getting closer to the end, stay tuned for more! Later!