"So, Jaru, what will it be? Many strangers whose lives are insignificant to you, or the woman who holds your heart?" Dariant asked as he moved his hand to cup Karah's cheek.
"Stop touching her!" Jaru hissed and stepped forward.
"She doesn't mind, do you my dear?" Dariant asked.
"No, my Master, you may do to me as you wish. I live to serve you," Karah said mechanically. Her dead eyes staring past Dariant and seeing nothing.
"You see, I could do anything I desired," Dariant purred.
"You will not do anything to her as long as I am alive!"
"That may be so, but you will not save her, will you? Your duty to the lowly humans is more important then she is?" Dariant asked.
"That is not the case! What is important is the matter of not allowing darkness to overcome the light. With that, I will not allow your darkness to overcome her!" Jaru exclaimed and quickly grabbed Karah's arm, and pulled her to his chest. He held her tight and whispered an incantation.
This was an action that could only be done once. He could not mess this up, or else both he and Karah would die. He had decided what he would do as soon as Dariant had touched Karah's soul. His plan could not take place in total darkness though, he needed the light of day to win this battle.
He released the lid on his immense power and made it flow into Karah. The power surged through her, and her scream pierced through the air. Her skin began to glow and every part of her was consumed in a blinding light. Jaru gritted his teeth and held fast as she glowed brighter and her skin grew hotter.
Dariant cackled as he watched the scene before him. "So you are momentarily giving her your power? Clever move my friend! Though, this leaves you, defenseless!" Dariant exclaimed and with a swift movement, pulled a smoky dagger out of thin air and sent it flying into Jaru's back.
Jaru grunted in pain and fell to his knees, for he could no longer feel anything below his waist. He never loosened his hold on Karah though. He had to hold out just a little bit longer, but he could already feel a steady flow of blood pouring from his body. His power then began to flow into her more quickly and soon, the transfer reached its peak. As soon as all the power was inside her, Karah began to thrash in his arms.
"Just hold on Karah, It'll be over soon, I promise," Jaru said to her and watched Dariant as he began to circle he and Karah, a mad smile on his face.
"You do know she must ACCEPT the power, or else she will die! You along with her!" Dariant exclaimed happily.
Jaru's vision began to grow faint and his hold on Karah released, for she had grown still. "She w-will a-accept it, she-she has to," Jaru panted as he felt himself growing faint. He had lost too much blood, and he no longer held the power that would allow him to heal himself. That power lied with Karah now. He had to put his faith in her.
"What's going on here?" I asked myself as I opened my eyes and gazed out into an endless sea of white.
My voice echoed throughout the infinite space before dissipating. I turned, looking for something to identify where I was, but all I saw was endless white. I squinted but it didn't help, it was very disorienting.
"What in the world?" I whispered.
I looked down, and gasped as saw I was only a misty apparition. My body was completely transparent, except for a lone, solid light residing in the middle of my chest.
"Why won't you accept me?" A small voice asked, it was almost child-like. I gasped and twirled around, searching for the source of the voice, but there was no one in sight. I felt as if it were coming from inside me though, speaking into my mind directly.
"I-I don't know, I have no clue what's going on!" I admitted as I pressed my hands to my head. I was growing warm, too warm, and the once infinite space seemed to be closing in around me.
"You must accept me, or you will die," the voice said urgently and I screamed as my body felt like it was burning. The light in my chest pulsated quickly and felt like it was growing, consuming my whole being in a fiery inferno. It was becoming hard to breathe and I found myself gasping for air.
"What are you talking about?" I choked out.
"I am your salvation, you must accept me, or both you and the young man shall die!" The voice exclaimed and I felt my chest tighten considerably.
"I-I can't!" I exclaimed and fell to the ground, curling into the fetal position. My entire world seemed to be careening out of control.
"You must hurry! We haven't much time! He can't hold on much longer, and neither can you!" The voice screamed at me and I writhed in agony from the pain coursing through my body. I grit my teeth and forced my lips to move.
"I accept you!" I screamed and time stood still.
Dariant cackle triumphantly as he felt the light beginning to fade from Jaru's being and the darkness began to overtake him. The girl beside of him was no more alive then a rock would be. Her heart was too weak to take on the power Jaru had thrust upon her, and she had faded away along with him.
He leaned down and stared at them both with his empty sockets. "You have failed, and darkness has won yet again."
Dariant then stood and made the young woman's soul appear in his hand. It was consumed in darkness, without any trace of light. He smiled, for he would enjoy this, and raised it to his lips. Something stopped him from devouring it though. Something wasn't right, why did he feel a warmth beginning to spread through the soul.
"How did you-" He exclaimed, but then a hand was around his throat.
The light coming off the person holding his throat was immense, and he felt his skin beginning to burn. He had never felt anything so brilliant, and for the first time in a thousand years, Dariant feared for his existence.
I awoke to see a sickly man standing a foot away from me, raising a black orb to his thin lips. I don't know how I knew, but I knew that was MY soul. Rage filled me and my skin began to glow, and at the same time, my soul began to glow.
The man then turned to look at me and the sight of him made me shudder. He was frail and pale, with empty sockets instead of eyes and thin lips that twisted into a scowl.
"How did you-" the man exclaimed and my eyes tightened.
My hand was around his throat in an instant and I was staring into his lifeless sockets. His voice was the one that had been speaking to me this whole time, and knowing that he was the reason I was here made me even angrier.
"Give that back!" I shouted as I eyed my soul and tightened my grip.
"Please! Please don't!" The man choked out, his bony fingers gripping at my arm feebly my soul no longer in his hand.
My grip tightened. "You're begging for mercy, after all you've done? You deserve to die!" I screamed.
He looked worried a moment more, then smiled wickedly, and in the blink of an eye, he was behind me wagging his bony finger and clucking his tongue.
"How?" I whipped around, but then he was to my right. He continued to play keep away as he popped in and out of spaces like a genie. The entire time his mad laughter rang out through the air and filled my ears with a ringing sound.
"You thought you could defeat me? You only just received this power and the man you love DIED giving it to you! What hope is there for you now?" The mad man asked as he appeared right in front of me. His stench of death wafted over me.
At his words, my eyes fell upon Jaru's still body. He lay in a pool of blood and his legs were sprawled out under him. His brilliant eyes no longer swirled with color but were a dull gray. His hair looked brittle and his skin withered. It was as if he had aged fifty years in a matter of moments.
"What did you do?" I asked, my voice only a whisper. Tears sprung into my eyes and I felt my knees grow weak.
"I only delivered the final blow! He gave up his power to save you from my grip! His death is on your hands my dear!" The man cackled happily and stood over Jaru, before leaning down to touch his face menacingly.
Tears of anger and pain flowed from my eyes and I gritted my teeth. "Get away from him!" I screamed.
My fury peaked and I felt a power beyond what I could imagine spring up in me. Acting on instinct, I whispered words I didn't know the meaning to and then clapped my hands together. I felt an immense power bubble up into my chest and I felt it consume me. An orb of light appeared from my palms and then encircled the man.
He screamed in agony and I stood slowly, never letting my pained fury wane as I walked towards him. I had never felt such power before, it was magnificent. I let my instincts take over as I continued to fuel the light that surrounded the man.
"If you keep this up, you will die like he did! Though I suppose that would be justice, since you killed him!" The man screamed as he writhed in agony. I could tell he was desperate to save his own hide.
"NO! Stop spouting lies! You are the real reason Jaru is dead and I will not let you go until you have suffered for the all the pain you've caused! All those people you've led to their deaths. You will PAY!" I screeched and the light intensified.
The man's agonizing screams pierced the air and I smiled in delight when I saw his papery skin beginning to smoke. The it began to blister and burn, exposing his muscles underneath. A little bit longer, and then he would die. Then all of our troubles would be over!
A thought then occurred to me. If I killed this man, would I be any better then he was? Taking his life, even though it was a life he didn't deserve, was still murder. My eyes rested on Jaru and my heart twisted. He wouldn't want me to kill this man, and deep down I knew I never could. I gritted my teeth and forced the power inside of me to dim.
The light stopped then, and the man gasped for air as he shakily looked up at me. His skin was almost completely stripped form him, and he was covered in blisters. A little while longer and he would have been dead.
"Why did you stop?" He croaked and coughed weakly.
I looked down and breathed deeply. "Because I am not like you! I won't take the life of someone just because I hate them! Even though you deserve to die a thousand painful deaths, it is not my place to hand them to you! I will not stoop to your level!" I shouted, my fists clenched at my sides. "You are now weakened enough to where you cannot harm people for a long time. That is all I can do, and it is all I am willing to do. I suggest you be joyful your life was spared."
"How DARE you speak to me that way!" The man screeched sharply, but I could see he had no strength left. "Well, at least Jaru is dead, and now I have a lovely young woman to look forward to fighting!" He yelled before he disappeared, along with the dark feeling that had been plaguing me since I had gotten lost a few days ago.
In his place, was a flittering soul, shining the brightest of blues. I gasped and hesitantly stretched out my finger to touch it. It flittered almost happily into my palm. Its warmth was comforting and it felt like a little heart beat in my palms.
"It's nice to have you back," I whispered and held it to my chest. I sucked in a tight breath as I felt it melt back into my body. A wave of comfort washed over me and I sighed in content, for I was whole again.
"You have your soul back, what will you do now?" The small voice from before asked me.
I was shocked to hear it, and jumped before my gaze rested on Jaru.
"You wish you save him?" The voice asked.
"There has to be a way, what if I gave him this power back? Would it save him?" I asked the voice as I went to kneel beside of him.
"There is a chance, a slim one, but if you truly wish to save him..." the voice whispered.
I gently laid his head in my lap and smoothed his grey hair away from his still gorgeous face. I couldn't stand to see him like this, he need to live, to protect this forest and the people that lived near it. It was his duty, not mine. "I do wish to save him, even if it costs me my own life," I answered as I ran the back of my fingers along his cheek.
"You love this man that much, even though you have only just met him?" The voice asked me.
I smiled warmly. "I know it sounds crazy and irrational, but yes, I do love him, his life is very important to me and I can't imagine going on with my life knowing he sacrificed himself for me," I whispered and sniffled, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to spill over.
"Very well then," the voice whispered, "hold onto him tight, be sure you don't let go under any circumstances."
I obeyed and wrapped my arms around Jaru's shoulders, and buried my face in his neck tightly. "All right," I whispered.
I gasped as a searing pain erupted in my chest almost immediately and I felt Jaru's body beginning to heat up. I clenched his shirt with my fingers tightly as I held back a scream of pain. It felt like my insides were being ripped from me and I soon couldn't stand it any longer, I screamed. The pain was becoming unbearable and my vision became spotty. I had to hold on though, for I didn't know what would happen if I were to let go.
I don't know how much time passed, it felt like hours, but I knew it could only have been minutes, when the pain finally began to subside. I felt the power I had harbored for only a short while leave me and flow fully back into Jaru. I gasped and fell onto my back, it was over.
I wiped the sweat from my brow and quickly sat up and stared at Jaru. He looked like he did when I'd first met him. His hair was a deep black and his skin was filled once again with it's luster. Behind his closed eyelids, I hoped his eyes had returned to their natural radiance, but he showed no signs of life.
Despair gripped my heart as I covered my mouth with my hands and I wept. He really was dead and was never coming back.
"No! You were supposed to come back to me! You can't leave like this!" I screamed hotly as my tears continued to flow. "We need you to live... I need you to live..." I whispered weakly.
I buried my face in my hands as my shuddering sobs racked my body. I curled up on the ground beside of Jaru and pulled my knees to my chest. His body was cold, but I didn't care, I needed to be near him for a while longer. I don't know how much time passed, maybe minutes or maybe hours. I honestly didn't care. All of this just felt like bad dream I was waiting to wake up from.
"Karah?" I heard his voice whisper my name.
My heart twisted painfully in my chest. I gritted my teeth and covered my ears. Even though he was weak, that mad man was still tormenting me! How dare he!
"Stop it! Can't you leave me in peace!" I shouted and closed my eyes tightly, wishing it would go away and I would wake up in my room in America. I wanted to forget all of this!
"Karah, it's me, I'm fine Why are you crying?" His voice asked again, it was filled with concern and pain. It sounded so real, but I knew it was just a trick.
"I said shut up!" I screamed in fury and sat bolt up right.
I gasped and warmth flooded through me, chasing away all the cold, as I found myself staring into colorful, vibrant eyes.