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Six Weeks of Shadows

Discussion in 'Fiction' started by Raden, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    (Thanks to Furryona for the much better name for this story!)

    _____

    It was supposed to be a quick detour back to Zentil Market Town for Tylissa. She'd absent-mindedly left her metal staff in her room and had to go back to get it. She was planning to catch up to the rest of the group at Elpo Village, who needed a little down time after their most recent ordeals and wanted to go explore more of the town that they hadn't when they first arrived.

    She never made it.

    In broad daylight, she was ambushed from behind on a trail by a pack of dark elves. One had slipped up behind her and then swung mightily, clutching a rock. It made contact with the back of Tylissa's head, knocking her out instantly. She fell forward and another elf caught her, a larger, stronger one. Clearly one of their pugilists. She hefted Tylissa up on her shoulder, and smirked. The group of them then started carrying her in another direction, away from the road to Zentil.

    _____

    Tylissa groggily opened her eyes to find light infiltrating them. She blinked a few times, rubbing them and sitting up. She looked around to find herself in a cell, one of many identical ones. There were two rows of cells with a walkway between them. Many were inhabited with various creatures. Humans, elves. There was even a Xiline. All showed varying degrees of abuse.

    "What... what am I doing here?" Tylissa asked. "Where is this place?"

    "Hey, cellmate." A voice addressed her from the cell beside her. "Welcome to hell on Kriegmar."

    Tylissa took a look at the one who addressed her. A short, stout human woman that had obviously seen a lot of combat in her life due to her almost barrel-like physique.

    "Name's Ellie. You can call me El or whatever if you want. Hell, surprised I still remember my name." She reached a muscular arm through the bars dividing the cells for a handshake, which Tylissa took.

    "Tylissa. How... how long have you been here?"

    "Place is still relatively new. They're still populating it with prisoners. Ones been here the longest been here about two months. I been here one. Funny, they think they can break me. I've seen more hell in my life than they could dream of. The dark elves ... may the whole lot of them just die. They come in, grab one of us and proceed to beat us to a wreck. Then they sic their damned healer on us. Patch us up, but never completely. Heals the worst of our injuries, then brings us back here to suffer in pain. Why? Cause they're sick fuckers." Tylissa knew that was a bad word in Human vernacular, equivalent to her own she used, but it seemed more versatile.

    Ellie continued. "Yeah, they're disgusting pigs. Capture and torment anything that isn't a dark elf, just cause they feel they're above everyone else. No real reason. Just cause they have the ability and need to make sure everyone knows they can."

    Just then, the door opened, and the cell block went silent. Some of the more abused victims looked almost panicked, frightened that they would be chosen for a beating. Others tried to cover themselves with their blankets. Still others pretended to be sleeping or injured.

    The dark elf jailer slowly paced down the hallway, just to put fear into everyone. Ash grey skin covered with royal blue chainmail, hair to match, and studded black boots, she looked an imposing figure. She slowly walked through the room, her boots making a "clop" sound with every step, the only sound in that room. Reaching the end and intimidating everyone with her steely gaze, she slowly came back up the room. She stopped in front of the Xiline's cell, staring a hole through her. The Xiline shrank, cringing. The jailer smirked and then kept going, with the Xiline visibly relieved.

    The jailer stopped in front of Ellie's cell. Then she smirked again, and stuck her key in the thick padlock. Giving a twist, the metal unhinged with an ominous click sound, and then two guards stepped in and hooked her arms, dragging her out of the cell and down the walkway again. The door on the other end of the walkway opened and the jailer and guards stepped through the door, with Ellie, who looked defiant. The door shut with a thud.

    An hour passed before it opened again. When it did, the guards dragged Ellie back to her cell, who now had a busted lip and a black eye as her most visible injuries. The guards threw her back in her cell and slammed the door, with the jailer locking it. Ellie glared at her captors, then turned her head and spit, a mix of blood and saliva. Meeting their gazes again, she stared them down until they departed. Then she sat back down on her cot, a simple metal frame that supported a canvas. That was the so called bed that all the cells had.

    "Are.. are you okay?" Tylissa asked.

    Ellie grinned. "Hah. Takes more than a beating to knock me down. I told you, they can't do anything to me that hasn't been done already." Ellie looked over Tylissa. "Let me guess. Not from around here, and a sorceress."

    Tylissa nodded. "You could definitely say I am not from around here. How did you know?"

    Ellie grinned, and pointed to her head. "You see as many battles as I have, you get to know your stuff fast. Or you get dead. And I ain't dead. Also, ain't no one I ever seen around here wear robes like that, and typically the magicker type wears them fancy prancy robes. That shit ain't gonna help you here. Jewelry's probably blocking it, I'd wager. Them dark elves are cruel but they ain't stupid." She pointed to her neck. Tylissa reached up and felt something around her neck that hadn't been there before. Metal. Definitely an anti-magic device.

    Tylissa sighed. "I figured as much."

    Ellie nodded to Tylissa's cot. "Might want to have a lay down. Being on your feet gets mighty tiresome. Hope you got an active imagination, there ain't shit to do in here except get lost in your thoughts and hope that every time that door opens, your ass ain't the one being selected for a beating."

    Tylissa sat on the edge of her cot, looking at Ellie for a bit. After a few moments, she uttered a word.

    "Gridenian."

    Ellie sat up and looked directly at Tylissa. "The hell did you know that? Thought you weren't from around here."

    "I knew your outfit looked familiar. I've seen a small platoon of guards from Gridenia already. My friends and I met an archer and a swordswoman who were looking for their platoon mates and their leader, Delanni. They were-"

    She was interrupted by Ellie, who stood and went over to the bars separating the cells. She grabbed them as if she were going to pry them apart.

    "How do you know Delanni?" she asked. "Do you know what became of her?"

    "All I know is a couple of guards in plate mail took her away. They said she had committed crimes or something. I don't know specifics, or what happened to her."

    "Crimes, huh?" Ellie said. "If she's guilty, she'll be discharged dishonourably, and that is the best she could hope for... crimes. Damn. Never struck me as the type." She sat back on her cot. "Well, thanks. Puts my mind that little bit more at ease. Hate to cut our chat short, but I need to get some sleep. Got a beating I need to sleep off. Chat ya later." Ellie laid on her cot and pulled the thin blanket over her, settling into sleep.

    Tylissa decided there was nothing more to be done except take a nap herself, so she curled up on her cot, threw the ragged blanket over her and soon was slumbering away.

    _____

    *click*

    Tylissa was interrupted by the jailer opening her cell. The two guards stepped in and grabbed her.

    "Ew, I'm touching her." one of them said. "Touching an undark. Ugh! I'll have to shower for weeks."

    "I know, ew. Filthy, diseased curs." said the other. "Her skin is so pale. Gross."

    Tylissa tried to struggle from their grip. "Hey! I am not diseased, you monsters! Get off me!"

    They began to drag her down the hall toward the doorway all the other prisoners had come to fear.

    Once inside the room, the guards pounced on Tylissa like predatory animals. One of them punched her in the face which spun her halfway around, then the other simply clubbed her between the shoulders with her arm. Tylissa fell and the guards put the boots to her, kicking and stomping her. She tried to get up, only to earn a boot to the head. She fell back down and they continued to pummel her.

    "Keran, Jalla, enough. Mustn't kill her." The jailer spoke, and they backed off.

    "Yes, Meillara. As you wish."

    The jailer, Meillara, circled around Tylissa, who was getting to her hands and knees. "Is that the best you can do? Whatever you want from me, you're not going to get it.." she said. "I have friends who will come looking for me..."

    Meillara laughed. "Yeah, so did the Gridenian. They haven't found her either. You have no idea where we are, how secluded we are. And your friends are probably pitiful twerps like you." Meillara grabbed a handful of Tylissa's hair, yanking her up to her knees. in a flash, Meillara raised her leg, bending the knee and plowing Tylissa in the jaw with her shin. Tylissa grunted and dropped to the floor.

    Keran and Jalla grabbed Tylissa by the arms and held her up. Meillara shed her cobalt coloured chainmail, revealing a simple sleeveless like-coloured tanktop that showed off her muscled upper body. Without her armour, her definition was much more pronounced. Everything about her was blue, from her armour to her clothing to her hair and even her skin. She was definitely thicker than the guards, and the way she had balled up and raised her fists meant she was a dark elf pugilist, as Tylissa was about to find out.

    Meillara threw a punch, precisely to Tylissa's temple. At the same time, Keran and Jalla let her go, and she staggered a couple steps. When she looked back up, she was clearly dazed from the blow. The pugilists knew exactly where to strike to cause pain without lasting damage. Tylissa shook her head, trying to clear the dizziness, but it was done for her when Meillara thumped a punch into Tylissa's ribs. She grunted in pain and jerked to the side, where Meillara met her with an uppercut in the face. Tylissa arched backward, and Meillara blasted her with a hook in the jaw. The hook rocked Tylissa and sent her to one knee.

    Tylissa tried to shake off the dizziness, but couldn't recover in time. Meillara measured Tylissa, gave her fist a kiss, and then slammed it into Tylissa's face. The punch dropped her to the floor and she lay there, badly dazed.

    Keran and Jalla picked up the high elf again and held her aloft. Meillara raised her fists and then swung a punch into Tylissa's stomach, causing her to wheeze. Meillara drew her fist back and swung again, another punch hitting Tylissa's midsection. The elf coughed a couple times, which drew a small smirk of satisfaction from Meillara.

    Meillara stepped in and quickly wrapped an arm around Tylissa, hugging her close while simultaneously kneeing her in the stomach. Tylissa let out a cry of pain and coughed again. Meillara drew back and then did it again, but this time her knee found Tylissa's crotch. Tylissa croaked a little in pain as the blow shot an electric bolt of agony through her.

    Meillara stepped back and struck a wide, low stance. The guards knew what was coming. Meillara took a couple steps and then threw a fierce kick into Tylissa's chin, snapping her head back. Keran and Jalla let her arms go, allowing the force of the kick to lift Tylissa off the floor a little. The elven sorceress crashed to the floor again, barely moving.

    "Hmph." Meillara grunted. "Take her back to her cell, she's had enough... for her first session anyway. And know this, undark..." she continued. "... It only gets worse from here."

    _____

    A week had passed, and Tylissa had had the exuberance beaten out of her, for the most part. She still talked to Ellie, but she seemed less vibrant overall. Every time the door to the cell block opened, she jumped a little. She was relieved when it was not Meillara and her guards. Meillara had taken some sort of perverse pleasure in punishing the sorceress and had ordered the other jailers not to touch Tylissa. She preferred to do the work herself.

    Ellie was in rough shape too. Her last ordeal had left her with a broken rib that the healer either carelessly, or intentionally, healed wrong. There was a slight misalignment of the bone, and the healer had fused it like that, causing Ellie great discomfort when she moved a certain way.

    Tylissa looked fairly rough around the edges herself. Her darker blonde hair had seemingly taken on almost the appearance of straw, as it was matted and stuck out a little. She had a bruise on her jaw the healer had decided to let stay there. She was laying on her cot, covered by her blanket.

    "Hey, Tylissa. You hanging in there?" It was Ellie. Even with everything she'd been through, she was checking on the elf.

    Tylissa rolled over, painfully, and gave a weak grin. "I'm alright, so far. Sore for the most part. But I have to believe my friends will be here."

    Ellie smiled. "Must be some good friends to come looking for you."

    Tylissa smiled back. "I'm not sure what I did to deserve having such great people in my life. I almost threw it away, like an idiot." The smile vanished as her memory returned back to her arrival on Kriegmar.

    Ellie prodded her after a moment. "Tell me about them."

    "Well, I'm traveling around Kriegmar with a few other people... There's Madelyn the cleric, who worships Sol and practices divine magic. She seems... very naive about the world, which is why she has her best friend Alchana to help her out. Wood elf. Fantastic tracker. Adept at stealth, things like that. I think she hates me." Tylissa grinned. "I wouldn't blame her, I was... well, let's just say if she does, she'd have a good reason. And then there's Linara, the swordswoman. I care very much for her. Probably the most I have for anyone, at least, parents excluded. She's done so much for me since I got here, I owe her pretty much everything. I have to believe they're looking for me. I... I would like to believe they haven't written me off anyway."

    Tylissa continued talking, with Meillara on the other side of the cell block door. She grinned, formulating a plan. Then she swung the door open, and on cue, the cell block stiffened into silence.

    Meillara continued her charade, pacing down the hallway once before coming back. It was a charade because she already knew exactly what she was going to do, but she stopped in front of a couple cells anyway, making like she was going to open it and cowing and intimidating the occupant. Continuing on, she stopped in front of Tylissa's cell. Tylissa decided she wasn't going to be intimidated and stood to meet the dark elf, defiantly stepping up to the cell door and looking up at her.

    "Funny you mention your friends, undark scum. It just so happens we captured three individuals that meet your descriptions. They're being held in another cell block," she lied. "So we will not be selecting anyone from here," she addressed the rest of the block. Turning back to Tylissa, she smiled. "Instead, we will be focusing on the... fresh meat..."

    And with that, Meillara made as if to leave the block.

    "Hey... Hey!" Tylissa shouted, rage boiling up. "You leave my friends alone! Damn you! Come back here, scumbag!" she yelled. The whole block gasped slightly... no one had ever said anything of the sort to Meillara before.

    Meillara smirked. She had expected such a reaction. "Are you volunteering to take their place then?" she asked.

    Tylissa was flying on adrenaline. Even if her friends had been captured, they were in the same location now. It was only a matter of time before they formulated a plan and got out. If she could buy them some time and keep them unharmed...

    "You won't harm them, not if I can help it."

    "That sounds like an acceptance to me." She thrust the iron key into the heavy padlock, twisting once and opening it with a clack. "Keran, Jalla."

    The guards in their matching platinum-tinted armour opened the cell door, but Tylissa jammed her fingers into their eyes as they came in. They shrieked in pain as they were blinded momentarily, and Tylissa went straight for Meillara. She'd caught the jailer off guard and snapped a kick into her crotch.

    "URRRGH!" Meillara doubled over from the blow. Tylissa used her rage as fuel as she grabbed Meillara by the hair and gave a hard shove, banging her skull into the cell across from hers. Meillara saw stars as a split opened up on her head from the impact into the steel. Tylissa pulled Meillara's hair, yanking her away from the cell, and then slammed her head again, face first this time. A gash opened on Meillara's face and she dropped to her knees. Tylissa prepared to face-slam her again, but Keran and Jalla had recovered by now, with Keran grabbing Tylissa around the neck and catching one arm, hammerlocking her. Jalla grabbed her by the legs and they carried her down to the other end of the cell, to the door that led to the small room they beat the prisoners in, bringing her into it.

    Meillara pulled herself to her feet with the aid of the cell door. She breathed heavy as she wiped her eyes, regaining her senses. She felt her forehead and when she drew her fingers away, they had her blood on them. She smiled at this. "The undark will be made to pay for this." She addressed the rest of the prisoners. "Let her punishment be a lesson to you all..." she growled as she made her way to the torture chamber.

    Shaking off Tylissa's attack, Meillara stepped into the chamber. Jalla was struggling with a fired-up Tylissa. The mention of hurting her friends had made her mad and though she was no hand to hand fighter, anyone could fight dirty. Tylissa had momentarily incapacitated Keran with a hard knee to the crotch who was laying on the floor curled up, and she was flailing uncoordinated fists at Jalla who had her pinned to the floor. Meillara took a quick appraisal and with three long, angry strides, marched up to the scrapping duo and brutally kicked Tylissa in the head like one would a soccer ball. Tylissa grunted and then went limp, laying on the floor with her eyes half open and fluttering.

    Meillara pulled Jalla off of Tylissa. Tylissa lay on her back. "Fetch the healer. It is time we did some real damage."

    "Guh..." Keran pulled herself to her feet. "The scum caught me with a wild blow. I will make her suffer..."

    It was Keran now who unbuckled her halfplate, revealing a simple green strapless tube top that complemented her chestnut-brown skin, yet clashed with her wild, pink hair. "Alright, you vermin, you wanna fight? Come on, let's fight." Tylissa was still struggling to get to her feet. Keran waited until she had, and then quickly revealed her specialty as a grappler. Grabbing Tylissa around the neck, she threaded one arm around Tylissa's and yanked on her, locking her in a cobra clutch chokehold. Tylissa gagged as the pressure was applied to her neck, and then Keran flexed her arms and began to shake Tylissa like a rag doll. Tylissa tried to fight off the choke by elbowing Keran in the stomach, but Meillara's swift kick to the head had robbed her of much of her strength. She faded as Keran sunk in the choke deeper. Keran clenched her teeth in anger as she continued to choke the elven sorceress, who was beginning to pass out.

    "Remember, Keran, do not kill her. Wait for the healer..." Meillara cautioned. Only at her words did Keran back off the hold a little, allowing Tylissa to gasp for breath.

    "At least... when I couldn't breathe... I didn't have to... smell you... disgusting cur..." Tylissa gasped out.

    Keran saw red and spun Tylissa around, then punched her in the jaw. Her head whipped to the side and she dropped like a sack to the floor. She hit with a thud and an "oof".

    Jalla returned, with the healer in tow. She was wearing strange, dull yellow robes Tylissa had never seen, and a lot of ornate jewelry. Her face was covered from below the eyes down by a veil.

    "Just a little bit, Henah. Just so she is cognizant."

    Henah nodded and put her hands on Tylissa, infusing her with her brand of healing magic. Unlike Madelyn's, this healing felt cold, as if the intention the magic was delivered with tinged it. The magic healed her head injury, and brought Tylissa back around.

    Keran was itching to get at Tylissa again. As soon as the healer withdrew, Keran was on her again. Grabbing Tylissa's arm, she pulled it straight up and then stepped over her, then fell back, pulling her into an arm bar. Straightening Tylissa's arm was a trivial matter and soon she had the high elf screaming in pain. The room itself was soundproof, so none of the other prisoners could hear. Jalla now removed her armour, allowing more freedom of movement and showing off the same green sport style top Keran was adorned with. Her hair was a platinum silver colour. Defensive properties were not exactly a consideration when beating up on one small elf.

    Jalla now grabbed Tylissa's other arm, and armbarred her as well. Both of Tylissa's arms were pulled out and bent backwards. She screamed and kicked her legs, to no avail. The grapplers stretched out Tylissa's arms slowly, bit by bit, maximizing the agony they were applying to her.

    The grapplers finally released Tylissa after a little bit of this. Tylissa curled inward, trying to hold both sore arms at once.

    "Awww, poor baby..." Jalla said as she reached down, pulling the sorceress up by her hair. She quickly reached down and scooped the high elf up and have her a half spin, then sharply planted her into the floor with a hard bodyslam.

    "Ghnng!" Tylissa grunted, then coughed a couple times and rolled onto her side.

    Keran now reached down and grabbed Tylissa, pulling her up. "Haha, she's so light. That's great. Means we can do things like this!" Keran spun Tylissa around and then crounched down, letting the elven woman slide onto her shoulders. Hefting Tylissa, she stood up, as she put her hand around Tylissa's chin and one on her thigh, pulling her into a torture rack backbreaker.

    "Aaaauuhhh!" Tylissa shrieked, music to the dark elves' knife-like ears. Keran smiled widely as she paraded the sorceress around on her shoulders, bucking her in the hold and causing jolts of pain to shoot through her. Tylissa tried to punch her way out of it, but her fist only bounced ineffectually off Keran's face. Keran laughed and continued to pump the backbreaker on Tylissa as pain ripped through her. She began a constant, steady rhythm of bouncing Tylissa in the hold, with every bounce across Keran's shoulders feeling like her spine was being destroyed by rocks. Tylissa's shouting had been reduced to moans as she lay limp now across the much larger dark elf's toned body, who was relishing the punishment she was dishing out to the high elf.

    When Tylissa felt like she couldn't take any more, Keran held her for Jalla. Jalla took her by the throat, and put one of Tylissa's arms over her own. Keran ducked low and allowed Tylissa to slide off her shoulders, right into Jalla's grip as she suddenly hoisted Tylissa up into the air by her throat and slammed her down hard with a chokeslam. She landed on the unforgiving stone floor with a splat, much like the sound a piece of raw meat would make. She was as good as such anyway to the dark elves.

    Tylissa lay moaning and panting on the floor, hurt badly. Keran would have none of it, as she prodded Tylissa with her boot, rolling her face down. Tylissa tried in vain to push herself up, but Keran jumped her like an animal. Laying on the ground beside her, she trapped Tylissa's arm between her legs, scissoring it. Clasping her hands around Tylissa's jaw, she locked them together and pulled back, putting pressure on Tylissa's neck and shoulder with a crossface hold.

    Tylissa groaned in pain as Keran rocked backward, feeling the dark elf was going to break her neck. The suffering intensified as Jalla began to put the boots to her, stomping on her back. Tylissa shouted a muffled cry with every blow to her already damaged back. Jalla enjoyed hammering her spine with stomp after stomp. Then Keran spoke.

    "Jalla, hold it a sec. Check this." She shifted the hold, and a crunch rung out, followed by Tylissa's scream, still muffled by Keran's hands. Keran had broken Tylissa's shoulder and was continuing to hold the elf's broken joint in the submission hold, causing pain to rip through her upper body. Tylissa clawed with her other hand at Keran's arms, trying to break the hold as her legs kicked, her boots beating against the floor. Keran let Tylissa out of the hold and nodded to the veiled Henah. Henah made her way over to Tylissa and gently touched her, infusing her with healing magic and repairing her shoulder.

    The reprieve was brief as Jalla took over, anxious to display her ability. She crossed up one of Tylissa's legs and trapped it with her own, then lay along the sorceress and clasped her hands, locking her in an STF. Now Tylissa's neck, torso and knee were all being punished as she cried out in pain, muffled again by strong hands.

    "GHNNGG!!" she shouted out as she flailed, trying to get out of the hold, but failing. She tried to pry Jalla's hands away, but she had no hope of success there. She could only wait until Jalla had enough, who finally let her go. She moaned in pain as she curled on her side, trying to recover from the beating. The latest beating. She tried to be strong; she reminded herself she was taking this to spare her friends, who were surely cooking up a plot in their cells right now. It was only a matter of time.

    Keran swooped in now as she kicked Tylissa in the back. Tylissa gasped as she arched backward. Keran sat on the floor and then pulled Tylissa into her lap, wrapping her legs around the beaten elf's waist and looping one arm around her neck, then arching backward suddenly as she locked on a body scissors and Dragon sleeper combo.

    She wrenched the hold on Tylissa, strangling the beautiful elf and squeezing her waist. Tylissa began to make gurling, choked noises, which caused all the dark elves to laugh at her and her plight. Keran wrenched hard, making Tylissa spasm and choke. Keran had every intention to put her out with the hold, but Meillara spoke.

    "Let her go."

    Keran let the hold go immediately. She quickly hid her surprise, having forgotten Meillara was in the room. "Yes, Meillara. As you wish."

    Meillara took slow, measured, heavy steps, her footsteps echoing off the floor, like she did when pacing the cell. Tylissa coughed and sputtered, trying to get air back in her.

    Meillara stepped over tiny Tylissa and picked her up by the arms, then squatted and sat on her back, hooking her arms over her bare thighs. Clasping her hands around Tylissa's chin, the much larger and heavily muscled Meillara yanked back viciously, bending Tylissa into a steep backward curve as she locked in a camel clutch. Tylissa's chest thrust out as she was bent way back. She couldn't even cry out, she was bent so harshly. She weakly beat her legs against the floor. Meillara was heartless in her attack, as she stuck her tailbone in Tylissa's spine to cause even more discomfort as she destroyed her with the hold. Meillara nodded to Keran and Jalla. Keran smiled as she stepped in front of Tylissa, and Jalla took up a position behind Meillara, turning her back to the jailer and then taking up Tylissa's legs and crossing them around one of hers, then locking her in a sharpshooter hold. Tylissa was bent such that she was looking straight up, so all she could do was watch Keran get into position as she raised her fist and then punched Tylissa in the face. Tylissa could do nothing to protect herself from the blow. Keran grinned and raised her fist, striking Tylissa again. She closed her eyes, trying to bear the attack, but Keran took sadistic glee in punching out Tylissa as she beat the beautiful elf's face, striking again and again. She opened a cut on Tylissa's forehead that began to bleed into her dirty-blonde hair.

    Tylissa could no longer handle the pain, and passed out in the submission holds. Meillara commanded Jalla to release her legs, but didn't release her own, and even nodded to Keran. "Give her a few more." Keran smiled and continued her assault of the unconscious outsider, pummeling her relentlessly and bloodying her some more. It seemed the more Tylissa bled, the more Keran wanted to draw.

    Meillara finally backed Keran off. Meillara still held Tylissa's unconscious body in the camel clutch, and stood up, only to drop her weight sharply back down on Tylissa's spine, wrenching her neck and back. Meillara stood and dropped again, further compounding damage. She held Tylissa for another handful of seconds in the hold before letting her go. Tylissa dropped to the floor, completely limp.

    Meillara nodded to Henah, who touched Tylissa's forehead. Light enveloped the ugly wound and then vanished, leaving no trace of the cut. They did not clean up Tylissa, however, leaving the blood on her face and in her hair.

    Meillara stared contemptually at Tylissa before nodding to the guards. "Take her back. She's finished for now." The guards saluted and picked up the unconscious Tylissa, dragging her back through the cell block. All prisoner's eyes were on the scene playing out, watching the bloody, limp elf being dragged. The guards roughly heaved Tylissa back into her cell, throwing her on the floor and not even her bed. Tylissa limply rolled over once and ended up on her side. Ellie was disgusted by their actions, but hardly surprised.

    As soon as the dark elves had left, Ellie tried to wake Tylissa. "Hey. Hey, Tylissa. You awake? Come on, talk to me. Wake up, tell me how you're doing." It was an hour before Tylissa's eyes painfully fluttered open. She groaned as she pushed herself up.

    "Hey, you're awake," Ellie said. "You look like you got roughed up bad."

    Tylissa weakly smiled and nodded. "But I still have confidence... my friends will find a way out. If I can take a beating to spare them one... they can get out and then come for us." Tylissa crawled over to her cot and dragged herself up on it, moaning in pain as she did, shivering from laying on the cold stone floor.

    "Hey, Tylissa. Here." Ellie twirled her blanket and then tossed it through the bars. "You look like you could use this more than I need it."

    Tylissa took the blanket. "Are you sure?"

    Ellie smiled. "I been through all kinds of weather. A little cell ain't got nothing on me. You go ahead."

    Tylissa bowed her head in gratitude. "Thank you... I really do appreciate it."

    "Ain't nothin'. Best get you some sleep."

    Tylissa rolled over and curled up, doubling up the blankets. Within a few minutes, she had stopped shivering and was sleeping soundly.

    _______


    Time had blended into itself for the prisoners, and Tylissa had lost track herself. She was filthy, her robes having picked up so much dirt they appeared a dirty, dingy brown, like beggar's rags. Her hair, normally a darker blonde colour, had taken on much the same colour, hardened and matted in some places by dried blood and dirt. Her exposed skin was equally dirty in places, and discoloured by dried blood and bruising.

    "Tylissa, hey." It was Ellie. "How you doing?"

    Tylissa had stopped grinning at Ellie's words. "I just... I still hold out hope my friends have a plan. I'm sure theyll-"

    She was interrupted by the click of the door lock turning, a sound she had grown to become frightened of. She cringed and retreated to her bed, curling up in fear.

    Tylissa's fear was right. It was Meillara. But this time, she did not unlock the cell.

    "Ah, undark. I am afraid I've got some bad news..." she said. "Your friends attempted to stage a coup... but they were dealt with. The way dark elves always deal with threats... harshly, swiftly, and viciously."

    Tylissa looked up slowly, not wanting to believe the news. She tried to convince herself that Meillara was lying.

    She continued. "The robed human... she was the first. We made an example of her. We slit her throat in front of the other two. She suffered badly." Meillara shook her head sadly. "The elf reacted violently. She was dispatched quickly. Stabbed through the chest, and then our fighter tore the dagger straight down, near splitting her in half. She left an impressive mess, but lucky for her, she died instantly. She likely felt nothing."

    Meillara stopped for a moment while she let the feeling of dread of Linara's fate wash over Tylissa.

    "And the last Human. We told her if she fought and won, we would free you both... unfortunately, she did not make it. She was ruthlessly beaten to death..."

    "Oh, it was one loud racket she made. "Tylissa, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" she yelled, as she was beaten down. It really was quite pathetic. She let you down, and now they are all dead. And so too are your hopes of ever getting out of here."

    Meillara smiled, fake-sweetly at Tylissa, and then took herself and her guards out of the cell block. Tylissa looked devastated, shocked.

    "Tylissa, you know those dark elves are filthy liars. Come on, don't listen to her."

    "But what if... what if she's right, Ellie?" Tylissa asked. "They should have had me out by now... they operate well as a group, but... what if..."

    "Hey, hey hey hey..." Ellie said. "There is no "what if", okay? That bitch is lying. Come on, Tylissa. Don't think the worst just because she said it, alright? She's also the one been beating your ass a bunch of times."

    "I... yeah... you're right, of course..." Tylissa shut her eyes and shook her head as if to clear it. "She's just lying." She took a deep breath and settled into her bed, nodding her head.

    "She's just lying."

    _____

    Days passed, and Meillara, who had previously selected nobody except Tylissa, began choosing others for beatings, making sure to tell Tylissa she was no longer necessary and was worth nothing. Having had this relentlessly pounded into her head, Tylissa began to believe it, and had stopped eating the meals served to the prisoners. Ellie could not reach her, instead only able to watch Tylissa spiral. Tylissa spent much of her time sleeping.

    Tylissa was curled on her cot, one of the thin blankets over her with the other spread on the floor in a bid to keep her from landing on the floor after a beating. It wasn't doing much good.

    From her cell beside Tylissa, Ellie heard a small voice, singing something. She cocked her head to try to listen.

    "Little Tylissa
    Open up your eyes
    Today's a good day
    To see the suns rise
    You will always be
    My sweet little girl
    My little angel
    My entire world"

    She sniffled once, and then quietly said "I want my mommy." She started to shake a little, soundlessly, as she gently sobbed herself to sleep again.

    _____

    It had been a week since Tylissa was given the "news" about her friends. She was looking miserable. Her hair was rough and ragged. She was covered in dirt. And despite being less than one hundred pounds, she had lost nearly 15 pounds off her petite frame, making her look gaunt and almost sickly.

    She weakly pulled herself up to her feet and trudged over to the cell door.

    "I can't... deal with this... I just want it to be over..."

    She gripped the bars and drew her head back, then pulled forward and headbutted the cell door, dazing herself. She gripped the cell bars, sagging slightly.

    Ellie shot up at the sound. "What the- Tylissa! No, don't..." her eyes were wide in shock.

    Tylissa stood up and reared back, then banged her head again. Her skull made another "whack" sound against the metal. Her knees almost gave out and she slumped again, the only thing saving her from falling over was her hold on the bars of the cell. A cut opened on her forehead, and began to trail fresh blood down her face. She wanted so badly to get out of this place that she was going to do it any way she had to.

    Tylissa shook her head. "There's nothing for me outside here anymore.... no home... no friends... I'm not cut out for adventuring... this is it..."

    Tylissa drew back again, then slammed her head a third time, this time falling backwards, having knocked herself out cold. Blood dripped from the wound on her head. Ellie could only watch in horror.

    _____

    Tylissa lay on the floor of her cell for hours. When Meillara and her cronies came in to get her, they noticed her on the floor, injured. They all looked at each other and Meillara went back to fetch Henah, the healer.

    "I thought you were supposed to have healed her cuts and the worst of her wounds?" Meillara asked, a slight aggressive tone in her voice.

    "I did." Henah shot back, with equal venom. "In fact, you watched me do it."

    "Then why is she like this?" Meillara asked, gesturing to Tylissa when they arrived at her cell again.

    "I do not know. But that is clearly a fresh wound. It looks to be inflicted recently."

    "You know this for a fact, do you?" Meillara asked.

    "I have healed more wounds than you have ever inflicted." Henah lowered her voice. "I heal these as my specialty. I think I know more than you about wounds."

    Meillara narrowed her eyes at Henah, seemingly debating whether to lash out at her or not. She finally decided against it.

    "Very well. I will take your word for it. Close that and patch her up some so we can destroy her again."

    Henah entered the cell, kneeling by the unconscious Tylissa. Tracing her fingers over the wound, she magically closed it up and soon, no trace of it or the damage it caused had remained.

    Henah stood up and turned around to leave. "There, she is..." she stopped, then looked closer at the bars of Tylissa's cell. She looked back to Tylissa, then the bars again.

    She smiled. "I believe your prisoner attempted to remove herself from further punishment..." she said, gesturing to the blood on the bars. Meillara took a look and smiled herself.

    "I see. We have broken her. This is excellent. Keran, Jalla... bring her. We will continue the punishment... "

    They eagerly scooped Tylissa up and held her up, dragging her to the torture room. Bringing Tylissa in to the room, Keran and Jalla smiled. Jalla held Tylissa while Keran pulled a knife with a hint of a blade on it from her belt. The blade was an inch long, perfect for jabbing into muscles without striking deeper-seeded vital organs. Keran took the knife and taunted the unconscious Tylissa with it as Jalla locked Tylissa in a full nelson hold, holding her up.

    Henah stepped in and brushed Tylissa's cheek with the back of her hand, imbuing some healing into her to wake her and eliminate her self-inflicted injuries. Tylissa's eyes fluttered open, and she realized she had not been successful at what she had tried to do.

    She broke and pleaded. "No, please... don't do this, I can't... I can't take any more... she moaned painfully.

    Keran smiled, brushing some of her wild pink hair out of her face. "Oh, but I think you can... cause you're gonna take this!" Keran drew back the stub-bladed knife and rammed it into Tylissa's abs.

    "UAGH!" Tylissa croaked out as pain blasted through her midsection. She looked down to see Keran holding the handle of something, and felt sick when she realized what it was. Keran withdrew the tiny blade, and Tylissa was simultaneously relieved it had not been longer, and horrified to realize that meant the wounds inflicted would all be non-fatal and designed to torture. Keran gave a terrible smile, and then aimed higher, jabbing Tylissa in the chest with it. She winced and squealed in pain. Jalla continued to pour pressure on Tylissa with the full nelson, holding the sorceress up for Keran to pick apart.

    "Turn her around, Jalla.." Keran said, a gleam in her eye. Jalla did so, and a second later, Tylissa was yelling out in pain as the small blade was buried in her back, between the shoulder blades.

    Jalla dropped Tylissa to the floor, to her hands and knees. Henah crouched down by Tylissa, then placed her hand on her back infusing her cold brand healing magic through her torso and closing her wounds, but leaving the pain of achy, sore muscles caused by the blade.

    Tylissa tried to make a grab for the healer, but Jalla stepped in front of the sorceress and pulled her into a bent-over position, with her head between Jalla's legs. Jalla wrapped her arms around Tylissa's waist and picked her up, holding her vertical for a moment before dropping to a seated position, piledriving Tylissa.

    Tylissa moaned in pain as she limply melted to the floor. Jalla smirked and shook her head. She was not finished. She scooped up Tylissa's dead weight and wrapped her arms around the high elf's waist, then planted her feet and pushed backwards, throwing Tylissa in an overhead suplex. Tylissa somersaulted through the air and hit with a hard smack, rolling once and coming to rest on her side.

    Keran discarded the stub-bladed knife and pulled Tylissa up. Tylissa's legs were limp like spaghetti. Keran aimed Tylissa at Jalla and then gave her a shove, sending her into Jalla's grasp. Jalla used Tylissa's momentum against her as she scooped the sorceress up, then dropped sharply down in a backbreaker. Tylissa gasped and croaked in pain as her body molded itself to Jalla's knee, with Jalla pressing down on her chin and knee.

    Jalla then stood, bringing Tylissa with her, where she alternated roles with Keran. Jalla pushed Tylissa and it was now Keran's turn to catch her and hike her up into the air, then drop down and drive a shockwave of pain through her spine with a backbreaker. Tylissa closed her eyes tightly as she slammed across the dark elf's thigh.

    The dark elves pulled her back up, holding her by the arms. Tylissa's head hung down, her brittle, straw-like hair in the way of her face. Keran pulled her hair, yanking her head back just in time for Meillara to come charging at Tylissa and pummel her with a clothesline across the neck and chest. The dark elf grapplers let go of Tylissa's arms at the same time and she turned a corkscrew in the air, landing with a thump on her back. She winced and curled up on the floor on her side.

    The dark elven guards picked Tylissa up again. Tylissa groaned. They stood her up, then Jalla hooked her arms around Tylissa's legs at the knees and picked her up. Keran took Tylissa by the neck, wrapping an arm around her in a Dragon sleeper hold, and picked her up as well, so that the two were now holding her suspended horizontally in the air. Trapped in this helpless position, Keran leaned back, bending Tylissa's neck and choking her hard. Keran bounced her a little in the hold, keeping her off balance and laying the hold in deeper. Tylissa flailed uselessly as Keran closed her eyes, relishing Tylissa's gurgling, savouring the sounds of suffering as she bent Tylissa to the point it seemed her neck would break. Tylissa's arms dropped to her sides, hanging down limply as her eyes began to flutter. Before she passed out, Jalla dropped her legs and they stood her up, both holding her under one arm. Together they lifted her up with one hand each, holding Tylissa up under her arms over their heads as if she were a trophy of conquest. They held her up there before tossing her down, dropping her sharply on her upper body as her legs folded up over her head for a moment before settling back onto the floor.

    The two smiled at each other and then grinned menacingly at Tylissa, heartlessly pulling her up by the hair. The pair motioned to Meillara. The jailer smiled and walked over to her guards. The wardens each put an arm around Tylissa and then hefted her up onto Meillara's shoulders. Meillara held Tylissa up there for a little bit, then the three slammed her into the floor with a triple powerbomb. Tylissa twitched a little.

    "I'm not done with you yet, you cur." Meillara snarled as she had her hands on the sorceress again. Pulling Tylissa up by her hair, Meillara scooped up the badly damaged high elf and turned her upside down, then quickly dropped to her knees, spiking Tylissa with a tombstone piledriver. She grunted once and fell limply to the floor, a new cut opened on her head.

    Meillara chuckled. "Heh heh. That is going to feel like a paper cut in a moment. She prodded Tylissa with her thick boot, rolling her face down. Bending down, she picked up Tylissa around the waist and set her on her hands and knees. Tylissa stayed shakily in that position, which made Meillara smile. Meillara put her boot on the back of Tylissa's head, and then glanced to her guards. She suddenly pushed down hard with her foot, stomping Tylissa's beautiful face into the dungeon floor. A loud *crack* sounded as her jaw broke and she settled to the floor, pinned under Meillara's boot. Not like she was going to go anywhere anyway.

    The guards laughed at the brutality being exhibited to the elven sorceress. Meillara was clearly enjoying herself, as she pulled the destroyed elf up again. She turned Tylissa to face her and then put her hands around her neck, then easily lifted her up into the air in a hangman choke. She tightened the choke on Tylissa, relishing the pitiful look in Tylissa's exotic, soft orange eyes. She held Tylissa up with ease as the life drained from her eyes. Meillara's fingers were like iron ingots digging into Tylissa's neck as her thumbs closed off Tylissa's windpipe. She strangled the sorceress with no remorse, as Tylissa hung limply in the hold. Before Tylissa passed out entirely, Meillara let the choke hold go and dropped Tylissa. Tylissa fell, but it was a short ride when Meillara's arms closed around Tylissa's sides as she pulled Tylissa into a bearhug. Tylissa's body immediately bent backward in submission as she started to gag from the squeeze around her waist. Meillara held Tylissa there, crushing her ribs and bucking the hold a little. Tylissa's limp body offered absolutely no resistance, and all she could do was take the punishment Meillara dished out to her. Meillara dished out a lot as she began to roughly shake Tylissa from side to side, ragdolling her and crushing her harder. She bucked the hold and bounced Tylissa up and down as she compressed the petite elf, as if she were caught between pillars of stone. Flexing her arms, Meillara poured on pressure until she she heard a snap. She smiled widely, having just broken one of Tylissa's ribs.

    Planting her feet, Meillara doubled down on the bearhug, shaking Tylissa again. Tylissa's limp body was flung around as she was demolished, another rib cracking under Meillara's ruthless hold. Meillara heard a gurgle and looked at Tylissa. Blood was welling up from her mouth, signs of internal injury. Meillara smiled and bucked the hold a little more, adding the exclamation point to the suffering she was imparting to the victimized elf. Reaching down, she scooped up Tylissa and then swung her around once, driving her to the floor in a bodyslam. Tylissa impacted the floor, hard.

    Jalla reached down and pulled Tylissa up again. Tylissa was well beyond offering resistance. Jalla underhooked Tylissa's arms, locking her in place and presenting her to Keran. Keran smiled, and put her fists up, unleashing a right hook into the other side of Tylissa's face. Tylissa's head snapped to the side, long hair flying wildly. Keran held Tylissa's head up with two fingers on her chin, and then fired another punch at her face. Skin met skin at high speed again, and once more, Tylissa's head whipped to the side. A bruise started to form on the side of her face already. Jalla moved her head as Keran signaled to her, and then launched an uppercut at Tylissa, hitting her in the nose and drawing blood. Tylissa's head snapped backwards like a whip cracking. Her eyes were half closed and cloudy. Keran drew back and thumped a punch into Tylissa's stomach, causing her to cough and wheeze. She instinctively tried to double over, but couldn't. Jalla changed the hold into a cobra clutch, one she had used to great effectiveness before, as she trapped the sorceress in it. Tylissa could barely even flail, but it didn't matter as Keran slammed home another punch to Tylissa's face as Jalla viciously choked her. It was only a few seconds of that before the abused sorceress passed out from it. The only reason she was upright anymore was because Jalla had her trapped, as Keran unloaded on Tylissa again, punching the already unconscious elf across the face. Keran drew back and hammered Tylissa in the face again, relishing the abuse she was dishing out. Tylissa hung limp in Jalla's grip, her head hanging, the bruise growing large and oily looking, and Keran used it as a target. She slugged the unconscious sorceress yet again, and this time Jalla dropped her, allowing her to fall to the floor.

    The healer watched everything from the background. She had expected Meillara to request her services and had moved into position, anticipating her matron's needs. Henah knelt and put her hands on Tylissa, once more channeling her heartless, functional-only magic into Tylissa. It repaired her broken ribs, and healed most of the internal damage, but Henah had cruelly left some just because she could. She pulled Tylissa into a sitting position and stroked her cheek, healing her broken jaw, luckily properly. The bruise still left told the story.

    Meillara produced a dagger, and propped the unconscious elven woman up against her thigh. Taking hold of Tylissa's brittle hair, she drew her dagger across it, slashing off a large handful. The rest of them laughed as Meillara took another handful and cut another jagged strip off on an angle, desecrating her waist-long hair. Meillara roughly hacked off a large section of hair again, cutting the other way. By the time Meillara was done, Tylissa's hair was half the length it had been, and cut jaggedly on sharp and strange angles. The long hair she had worn all her life had just been violated by the dark elf jailer, who didn't give a damn about anything she had done.

    "Take the filthy animal back to the cell she belongs in." she commanded. She stood up and wiped her dagger on her undershirt, then sheathed it and followed the guards out. The guards dragged Tylissa down to her cell and threw her back in. Meillara glared at Ellie, then followed the rest of the group out the door.

    Ellie looked over at Tylissa and clenched her teeth in anger. "Tylissa... it pisses me off no end I can't do anything in here to help you."

    _____

    Tylissa's last few days were spent either unconscious or being beaten. She was in her cold cell, curled in a ball on her cot. She had been unconscious since her last beating, never having moved in the last twenty hours. She could be mistaken for dead. Over the last couple of weeks that she had stopped eating, her already tiny frame had dropped twenty pounds, and where she used to have pleasing curves to look at, she now looked sickly and ill.

    The dread sound of the door latch clicking out of place fell over the cell block again. But it wasn't the dark elves who came through the door.

    A murmur rose through the cell block as three figures stepped through. The first was clad in plain brown with short-cropped blonde hair, long ears pointed outward, wielding a knife. The second was outfitted in white and blue robes. The third was adorned in pink, her leotard hugging her body close as her thigh-high boots stretched tantalizingly up her legs.

    "Shhh," Alchana whispered. The three had no idea there were so many prisoners. They'd only expected Tylissa. "We'll get you all out of here."

    Madelyn and Linara started the search for Tylissa, not knowing her cell was by the door. She'd had her back to the cell block aisleway and was so crusted in dirt and bruises, with her hair hacked messily, that the trio did not even recognize her as Alchana clicked her lock. The locks were cheap, basic, and carbon copies of each other. Once Alchana worked out the optimum method of unlocking it, it became a simple matter and each lock clicked nearly instantly. Many prisoners were in tears and overjoyed at their rescuers.

    "Thank you so kindly, strangers." Ellie said, trying to maintain professionalism but clearly also holding back a huge beaming smile. "I can't even begin to imagine why you'd come to this place, but I think I speak for us all when I say I am glad you did." The stout soldier extended her hand. "Name's Ellie. Nice to meet you. If there is anything I or the rest of us can do for you, I am sure we would all do so." The rest expressed agreement.

    Linara saluted her, and Ellie snapped to attention in a salute back, an automatic response. "At ease, soldier, we're not here to order you around." Ellie relaxed her stance. "We're looking for a friend of ours, but-" Linara looked around again. "-I don't think I see her."

    "Whoever you're looking for is damn lucky to have some good people like you coming for her." Ellie said. "Describe her for me?"

    Madelyn gave the description. "She wears purple robes and boots, she has long, darker blonde hair and pointed ears that go up."

    Ellie's heart hurt at that, knowing the reaction they were about to have. "Is... she a magicker type of some sort?" Ellie asked, knowing the answer.

    "She is, yes."

    "Is her name Tylissa?" Ellie asked, again knowing the answer.

    "Yeah!" Linara said. "How did you know, was she in here? When? Where did she go?"

    Ellie nodded to the cell next to her. Three sets of eyes fell on the unmoving body occupying it.

    They looked closer at the body in the cell, and now that she was examined closer, the three rescuers could make out what the filthy rag Tylissa was wearing actually was.

    And then the looks of horror Ellie dreaded seeing. The realization that a friend was hurt or... worse... was a look Ellie had both seen and worn before on more than one occasion, and she never wanted anyone else to go through that. No matter how many battles were fought, every time a close one fell, it never failed to hurt worse than any physical wounds suffered.

    "Oh, by the Gods." Linara's voice dropped low. "What in the unholy circles has happened to you..." Linara was the first to make a move. Madelyn looked horrified, and tears were beginning to form. Even Alchana couldn't hide a look of shock through her emotional camouflage as she held Madelyn, the only thing keeping the priestess together at this point.

    Linara knelt down by her friend and gently placed a hand on her shoulder, using as light a feather touch as she could.

    "Tylissa?"

    She had to repeat this a couple times before Tylissa painfully began to stir. She was content to lay on her side before she heard her name again.

    She opened her eyes. Tylissa... my... name? Someone is calling my name... Ellie? she thought.

    With much effort, she dropped her legs off the side of the cot and sat up on the edge of it, muscles sore from both being beat and from disuse. She found herself face to face with one of her tormento- no... this person didn't have dark skin. Who?

    Tylissa stared in confusion and wonder at the person face to face with her, confused for a moment by someone being in her cell that was not a dark elf, cocking her head slightly to the side. Tylissa's eyes searched Linara's face for recognition.

    "Tylissa..." Linara prompted. "Do... do you remember me?"

    Tylissa's head straightened, her eyes opened wide, and her mouth fell open as she gasped. Then she moved as if all the pain she were in was gone, grabbing Linara in a tight hug, tears welling up in her exotic eyes and falling down her face.

    "Ack!" Linara gasped as Tylissa moved. She smiled wide, returning the hug, causing the normally-stoic Ellie to smile too.

    "Linara, it's you... it's really you!" Tylissa said, the joy in ver voice evident. "They told me you had been killed..." She looked past Linara to see Madelyn and Alchana. "Oh, guys. You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me. I can't believe you're alive. How did you survive the attack?"

    "The attack?" Linara asked.

    "Yeah, the dark elves told me you tried to escape, and that they killed you guys..." Tylissa was confused. Wait a minute, what was real here? She'd been so messed up lately...

    Now it was the group's turn to look confused. "We've been out looking for you... we weren't prisoners here." Linara said. "Remember? You were going to Zentil to get your staff. You were going to meet us at Elpo."

    "They didn't... you weren't... ever.. huh?"

    "You were told we were prisoners here too?" Madelyn asked.

    "Yeah, they said you were coming to rescue me but they caught you, and they... they told me..." she struggled to remember. How long had it been? Time had long since ceased to exist in the cell, night and day rolled into one, eternally-lit state. "They told me... that they were going to beat you guys instead of me... and I... I told them to leave you alone and they beat.. me...." Tylissa clenched her teeth as she realized she'd been tricked into willingly accepting beatings.

    "Right..." Tylissa shook her head once sharply. "I never made it there. I... blacked out... and then I woke up here."

    "Attacked from behind, most likely." Ellie said. "The curs attacked me from behind too, but they didn't finish me in one shot. Rock to the head. Probably how they did it with you. Find what works and stick with it."

    Addressing the others, Ellie continued. "She's got some device clamped 'round her neck. Bet it inhibits her magic."

    Alchana nodded and made her way into the cell with Linara and Tylissa. Getting into the business mindset, she pulled her dagger. Tylissa's eyes went wide when she saw it and she cringed in programmed response, shivering, her ears folding downward and back in fear.

    Alchana hesitated, then using the softest voice she had ever directed to Tylissa, she sat down on the cot beside her, sheathing the dagger. "Tylissa. You know I won't hurt you. I just want to get that off your neck. Okay? Come on, look at me." She put her hand on Tylissa's shoulder. "We're here to help you, not hurt you. I promise, I won't even nick you."

    Tylissa slowly looked to Alchana. "I just... I..."

    "Shh. You don't have to explain yourself, I know. Will you let me help you with that?"

    Tylissa nodded, still shaken.

    "Alright. I'll go slow with this, okay? Don't be scared." Alchana slowly drew her dagger again, Tylissa keeping watchful, intense eyes on it the whole time. She instinctively cringed a little as Alchana drew it near her throat. Working the tip into the pinhole clasp, she managed to easily snap it, causing the device to open. Tylissa reached up and pulled it off her neck, rubbing the spot that clasp had been for the last six weeks. Tylissa could not help herself and wrapped Alchana in a big hug as well.

    "GAH!" Alchana reacted with shock, then uncertainty, then tentatively half-hugged her back.

    "How you feeling?" Ellie asked.

    "Tired, weak. I hurt pretty much all over. Overwhelmed emotionally. Not getting my magic back yet... it usually rushes back immediately. May not have the strength for it...."

    "I can help, Miss Tylissa." Madelyn's gentle voice rang out. "If I may?"

    Tylissa nodded, and Madelyn took a seat on the cot on the other side of Tylissa. Tylissa hugged Madelyn as well.

    "Alright, let me ascertain your injuries, so I know what to heal." She put her hands on Tylissa's shoulders and a dim light began to emanate from Madelyn's hands.

    "Oh... oh dear." Madelyn furrowed her brow. "Oh my... there are quite some severe ones here. I can help you, but it will be quite taxing."

    "Will I live if you don't heal me?" Tylissa asked.

    "Yes, but it will be most unpleasant."

    "Good. It's been "quite unpleasant" for a while now. Help them..." she pointed.

    The group looked around to see the prisoners had not gone anywhere.

    "We said we'd help you if we can. I'm ready to give my life if necessary to get a piece of these scumlords." one of them said, a human.

    "Besides, no sense healing me." Tylissa continued. "My magic's having a real slow go at coming back. I can't fight like this, but someone like say, a trained soldier..." she cocked her head to the side, indicating Ellie.

    "Okay, if you are sure..." Madelyn began to go around to the other prisoners and heal their wounds.

    "So where are we? How did you guys find me? How long has it even been?" Tylissa had so many questions.

    Linara began to tell the story as Madelyn worked.

    "We noticed you were missing when you didn't show up at Elpo Village in the morning. We were concerned, cause we know you know the way there. So we went back to Zentil looking for you, but all we found was your staff, so we knew you hadn't made it. We checked out a few of the closest cities and villages, but we couldn't get any leads... until a dark elf wearing concealing robes stopped in to the Zentil bar we were regrouping in. She introduced herself as an "information broker", and she told us where you were. Finally, after six weeks, we'd got a lead and knew where to-"

    "Six weeks??" Tylissa asked, wide eyes. "I've been here for six weeks?"

    "Yeah, we've been worried about you and what might have happened, but we never gave up on you. We're so glad you're alive, Ty."

    Madelyn was still working on the prisoners, giving the more seriously wounded an additional thin potion as well. She was trying to spread her healing abilities to everyone, but her resources were not infinite. Healing them was clearly starting to take effort, and show on her.

    Tylissa prompted Linara. "You got a lead..."

    "Oh, yeah! We got a lead from a dark elf who said she was tired of the negative image Jaira was giving them. Called herself an information broker, said she knew everything. And so we came out here, another four days journey. We didn't know that there were other prisoners here as well, but we'll do everything we can to help them too." Linara put her arm around Tylissa's shoulders. "How have you been holding up?"

    "I... I had given up. I'm sorry, I feel weak about that. This place, man... your life becomes this cell. Or the torture room. The constant beating... physical and verbal. It isn't enough to pummel you, they have to degrade you while doing it." Tylissa shuddered a little, trying not to cry. "They just... it's endless. The taunts, the degradation, the... physical beating... and the healer, oh Gods... she patches you back up so the rest of them can beat you down again... I'm not cut out for this treatment, Linara." She conveniently left out the part about banging her head off the cell bars. "I'm a high elf, I was the most powerful on Guildmar. Do you really think anyone ever treated me like that back home? I'm not cut out for this. I... I couldn't take it..."

    Tylissa shuddered again, and Linara knew no words were necessary. She was seeing Tylissa at her most vulnerable, the cocky brash sorceress replaced by a scared little girl. With a little physical coaxing, she drew Tylissa into a hug and just held her for a little. Tylissa hugged Linara for a long moment, tears beginning to stream from her large orange eyes and wet the dirt on her face, causing it to smear when she wiped them away.

    "Thank you for not giving up. I'm glad one of us didn't." She sniffled.

    "We knew you wouldn't have just left, and we never had confirmation one way or the other about what happened to you, so of course we kept looking."

    Tylissa and Linara separated. "This is why I fight so hard. This is where I get my spirit, my conviction from. Everything I do is for you guys." Tylissa said, pride and determination returning to her.

    "Whew..." Madelyn had returned from helping the rest of the prisoners, a dozen strong. She'd had to spread her resources among them, so no one of them was fully healed, but they were all much better off than they had been. Madelyn looked tired, and was sweating from the exertion. "I have done everything I can for them... they are better off than they were, although to heal a dozen people, it meant none of them could receive the full benefit. Still, they are better than they were." Madelyn stumbled a little. Alchana's lightning-quick reflexes allowed her to reach out and catch the priestess, steadying her.

    "You did a fantastic job, Madelyn. I'm still a little sore, but I feel great having that busted rib mended properly. Now, how do we go about getting out of here?"

    Tylissa spoke up. "I think we need to dispatch the dark elves. If we simply leave, they're still around to capture more people, and this place still exists. Erasing this jail will be a blow to them, since it is still new... ish. Cuts off their expansion plans."

    Ellie nodded. "She's right. We can't let them do this to more people, or what we have gone through is for nothing."

    Linara took a deep breath. Killing dark elves was not the same as killing goblins, or plants, or spinerocks, or flailflowers. They were people, capable of higher reasoning, of speech. They were not simple "creatures", and turning her blade against them was not the same as cutting down a flower stalk. She turned her eyes toward the rest of the group. Alchana looked sure, as if she knew this needed to be done. Madelyn seemed unsure, but then she spoke:

    "I have asked Sol for guidance. "Monsters can come in all shapes. You must eliminate the darkness, and bring light unto the shadows." That is what she told me. If Goddess Sol ordains it, then it must be done."

    That made up Linara's mind. Sol was right. Being a monster was not necessarily just their physical properties. These dark elves were clearly depraved and sick, to have the ability to treat so many people from so many walks of life so callously, so nonchalantly. Could they ever be redeemed as a race?

    "Alright, I have a plan." Ellie spoke, startling Linara out of her thoughts. "I been here a while now, I know the schedule. Ain't nothing much to do in here except observe, after all. All the cells are open now, so you guys all hide. Pretend you're prisoners."

    "They're gonna know they have two more prisoners than usual, right?"

    "No, hide under these." Tylissa grabbed up the blankets she had in her cell and gave them to Madelyn and Linara. "We'll startle them. Alchana can go stealth and hide under their noses."

    "Alright, the next rotation is soon, I believe. We can jump the guards. Knock them out or... or whatever needs to be done. Toss them in the empty cells, cover them with a blanket, and then in a few hours, the next rotation is your pals, Tylissa. When they open your cell to take you, let them being you into the room and then we'll all come out of our cells and crash the party. All of us want a piece of these scumlords and Meillara seems to be the ringleader of this whole outfit." Ellie balled a fist and palmed it with her other hand. "I can't wait to get some payback on this next rotation. I am pretty sure it's Elani and Tryte. I'd beat the two of them to death myself if given half the chance." Ellie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It didn't take much imagination to wonder what Ellie was thinking of. "All of you need to right the locks on your cells, make them look closed to a cursory glance. Don't click them, of course..." Everyone got up to do so.

    "Good, this should give me time to recover some strength as well." Madelyn said. "I need to recover as much as I can before the fight... and I am sure there will be one. There always is. The dark elves in general know no other way, save only a few bright spots so far," she said.

    ______


    The plan went into effect, and sure enough, the guards stepped through the door. Ellie's heart raced. She'd get her hands on the ones that had given her the most grief. Feigning continued injury, she slowly stepped up to the bars hunched over, as if to challenge the dark elves.

    "So," she spat the word. "I'm still here. What's the matter, can't put down a simple dog?" she asked.

    "Hah!" Elani barked. "This dog is all bark, and no bite! You wanna go another round with us? Alright, we're going to neuter you for good this time. Tryte, let's put the cur down." Elani said with a big smile.

    "You got it, sis!" said Tryte. As Tryte stepped forward with the key to Ellie's cell, Ellie sprang into action. She flung the cell door open suddenly. The look of utter shock on Elani and Tryte's faces lasted only an instant, as Ellie grabbed Tryte by the hair and the waistline of her pants, then spun once and hauled Tryte into the cell, launching her into the wall headfirst. Tryte shouted in surprise and then slammed into the wall, becoming dazed on impact.

    "Hey, you bitch!" Elani shouted as she went to move to help Tryte. But Alchana had come out from her stealthed spot behind the main door, her dagger drawn. Elani never got the chance before Alchana had a muscular arm wrapped around Elani's neck, and an instant later, her dagger buried up to the hilt in Elani's back.

    "Uuuraagh..." Elani made choked, wet, gurgling sounds as Alchana stabbed her, blood welling up in her mouth. For added measure, she withdrew the dagger from Elani's back with a quick motion, and then plunged it into her again. Elani's eyes were wide, her mouth open as if to scream, but the only sound that came out was Elani choking on blood welling up and running down her neck onto her chest. Her body was still spasming in death throes, as Alchana held on tight. "You've hurt enough innocents," she hissed into Elani's ear. "Now you can go to whatever underworld realm you believe in."

    Elani's spasming slowed, then stopped, and then her body went slack. Alchana dragged her to one of the far cells, and one of the prisoners gave up their blanket so the body could be covered.

    Meanwhile, Ellie was savouring the beating she was putting on Tryte. "This is for weeks and weeks of abuse, you bitch," she snarled, as she knelt over Tryte, a handful of her hair.

    "No, please, stop! Mercy! Mercy!!" Tryte yelled out as she tried to fend off Ellie's blows.

    This only enraged Ellie further. "Mercy?! I'll give you the same mercy you showed me!" Ellie began to punch harder. Tryte shrieked and flailed, trying to push Ellie off, but with Ellie no longer outnumbered and most of her strength returned to her, she more than overmatched Tryte.

    Finally, Ellie got off of Tryte, who had been beaten to a daze. Pulling her up, Ellie dragged her over to the door, and threw her down again.

    "Oof!" Tryte grunted as she hit the floor face down. Ellie planted a boot on Tryte's back, pinning her down. "Say goodbye, filth..." Ellie grinned. Tryte looked to the side just in time to see the door sliding toward her. She screamed, but the sound lasted only a half second before the heavy iron door crashed into her skull, killing her instantly.

    "Take that, you fucking cow!" Ellie said, joy in her voice at having dispatched one of her prime tormentors. She scooped up the dark elf corpse and dropped it on the cot of one of the far cells, covering her in a blanket.

    Ellie returned to her cell. "Now, we got a few hours before Tylissa's main problems show up. Pretty sure the bitch in blue is also the main keeper of this place. She dresses differently enough."

    Tylissa nodded. For the first time, she couldn't wait for them to show their faces. Knowing they were coming for her, she locked her cell door so they wouldn't find it tampered with, then curled up on her cot and slipped into sleep again.

    ____

    *click*

    The sound took Tylissa out of her sleep. The creaking of the cell block door brought her to the waking world. Her plan was to act scared after having a little bravado returned to her earlier, but she found she did not have to act as she began to shiver at the sound.

    Keran and Jalla filed in, followed as always by Meillara. Meillara spoke. "Ready for your next round of punishment, bitch? Haha... Guards. You know the drill."

    "Right, Matron!" Keran and Jalla jumped to attention, unlocking Tylissa's cell with the usual heavy "clack" sound. The guards snickered at her frightened shivering. "Looks like you CAN train a pale bitch after all." Keran said, smiling. "Look, we haven't even done anything yet!"

    The guards grabbed Tylissa by the shoulders and pulled her up, failing to notice the missing neckband. They pulled Tylissa out of her cell and began leading her down the cell block aisle into the chamber. Meillara followed the two, but as she approached the last couple cells, she stopped. Using only her eyes, she looked left, then right. There were a dozen prisoners to keep track of. Had one of the other guards captured more? Or was she simply seeing things? Something was amiss. She continued forward. As she stepped into the chamber and closed the door behind her, she turned to a copper panel on the wall. She rapped sharply on it three times.

    As they were about to lay into Tylissa and begin punishing her again, the chamber door flew open with a BANG. There was a loud clamor and all three dark elves looked to the door to see the commotion. In came two humans they had not seen before... a wood elf? ... and the prisoners they had captured!

    The guards threw Tylissa into the far corner of the room, but not without a parting shot as they hammered her across the jaw with a punch again. Tylissa spun around once and fell to the floor like a sack of barley, the single punch having had enough effect from the cumulative beating she had endured.

    They all turned their attention toward the door, where the three humans and the rest of the prisoners were filing in. Keran and Jalla tried to fight off the prisoners, and they held their ground for a little as their expert training more than overmatched the prisoners... but the prisoners had numbers on their side, and the power of a mob began to overtake the two... until more dark elf guards burst in through the door, having been alerted by Meillara's signal. Now it was an all out jail brawl, as guard and prisoner lay into each other, punches and kicks flying everywhere. The commotion was loud and the jailers managed to knock down a couple of prisoners, but the prisoners would rally back and gang up on a jailer until it was dispersed. There were going to be casualties here.

    The jailers brought out weapons and began attacking the prisoners, slashing and stabbing with knives and blades. Screams of anguish could be heard, but the prisoners changed tactics, overwhelming one jailer and dragging her down to the floor, then proceeding to pummel her mercilessly. It did not take long for half a dozen people to kick a jailer to death as blows rained down from every direction. Several kicks to the head caused a jailer's eyes to roll and her body to go limp, and another few after that made sure she would never move again.

    Keran and Jalla attacked some of the prisoners, the more elite guards of the gathering. They struck down some of the prisoners and proceeded to try to trample them to death, but Alchana and Linara moved to act. "Hey, you ugly witches!" Linara yelled. "Look at this!" Keran and Jalla looked up just in time to be blinded by a sudden flash of light from Madelyn!

    "GAH!" they yelled out. "A magicker!" Meillara pushed through the crowd of people fighting, knocking prisoner and dark elf out of the way alike, using her side to her advantage. She was the largest person in the room. As she made her way over to Madelyn, she was met with a leaping kick to the chin from Alchana!

    "Ungh!" she grunted as her head snapped back. "Good strike... but..." Meillara sneered, and punched Alchana in the face!

    "Gah!" Alchana took the blow and staggered back a couple steps. She was a little surprised that the kick had not floored Meillara. And now Keran and Jalla were recovering as well, as they started to get up.

    "Come on, ugly, what you got?!" Linara shouted, trying to get Meillara's attention. She swung the flat of her blade at Meillara, intending to draw her away. Meillara ducked and took the bait as she went after Linara.

    The loss of Meillara allowed Alchana to step in between Keran and Jalla. Leaping up into the air, she snapped her legs out to the side, split-kicking both the dark elf guards in the face. They cried out as they were knocked in opposite directions. Meillara looked to the source of the sound, and then diverted course, taking three quick steps toward Alchana.

    "A'na, look out!" Linara yelled out, but Meillara was too quick. She came at Alchana from behind, sideswiping her elbow and planting it directly into the back of Alchana's head, stunning her.

    "Oof!" Alchana took a couple steps forward and then dropped to her knees, seeing stars.

    "Hey, you big bully, why don't you... uhoh..." Linara had wanted Meillara's attention to get her off of Alchana, and now she had it. Meillara fixed her with a death glare and advanced on her again.

    "Miss Alchana!" Madelyn shouted, and tried to go to her friends' aid... but was cut off by three other jailers. "Ulp..."

    The closest dark elf snapped a punch into Madelyn's jaw. "Eeeyah!" she yelled out, as she stumbled back. The second dark elf of the group followed her in, taking a couple running steps and tackling the priestess, spearing her and knocking her to the floor with force!

    "OOF!" Madelyn wheezed out as she was struck, and then grunted when she hit the floor. The three dark elves then began to kick her all over, much like the prisoners had done to the dark elves. Madelyn shrieked and screamed, trying to fend off the blows.

    Alchana looked up and shook her head hard. "Got to shake this... help Madelyn...!" Unsheathing her dagger, she caught a jailer from behind and plunged her dagger into the dark elves' back, striking a vital. The jailer was dead before she even hit the floor. The other two that had been pummeling Madeyn looked up in horror to see a very protective and very angry wood elf staring back at them. One of them pulled a throwing dagger and unleashed it in Alchana's direction. Alchana was about to dive out of the way, but she found herself bumped out of the way. Ellie had pushed her and then held up her arm, blocking the dagger and impaling her arm with it. She clenched her teeth and continued her forward momentum, to the shock of the dark elves. She clobbered both of them with a double clothesline, knocking them to the floor. They grunted, and Ellie dove on top of the nearest one, hammerlocking her arm behind her and pulling her arm one way while she clasped the jailer's jaw and pulled her head the other, in a chicken wing hold. Ellie suddenly yanked hard, breaking the jailer's neck with a sickening crunch and dropping her body. Ellie winced and tried pulling the dagger out of her arm, but it would not give. It had pierced through the bone, and was now jammed.

    Things were not going so well on the other side of the room. Three more jailers had beaten a prisoner to death, viciously stomping on her chest until her sternum cracked, broke, and the ragged bones inside had punctured vitals. She bled to death internally. They had set their sights on the Xiline creature now, and were backing her into one of the corners of the room, but a couple prisoners came to her rescue and began to street-fight with the dark elves.

    Linara, meanwhile, had Meillara all kinds of off-balance, having been distracting the biggest threat in the room. She used her expert blade-dancing techniques to spin, twist and pirouette out of the way of Meillara's blows while managing to score cuts and a couple bruises with the flat of her blade. She had not been able to line up for a proper power strike yet, but she knew if she kept up this pace she could eventually. But the question became, could she do it? She had to believe she could, and her distractions were keeping the worst threat away from everyone else. Meillara was getting angry. "Hold still, you little worm!" she yelled out as she threw yet another punch that connected only with air. Linara quickly surveyed the room. Madelyn was healing some of the prisoners, and she saw the dark elf healer that Tylissa had mentioned earlier. It would be a war of attrition... which side could keep the healing up the longest? The first side to lose their healer or her abilities would be at a large disadvantage.

    Meillara had not been throwing idle blows. Every blow Linara dodged, ducked, and weaved out of the way of, every blow countered with a blade swing, Meillara had studied and timed. A pugilist of her skill knew how to read an opponent. She decided to strike. Feinting a jab, Linara swayed left... right into a punch in the temple from Meillara's right hand. "Oooouuuahh.... gnhnggg...." Linara groaned as her eyes crossed momentarily. Her sword, the fearsome Blade of Nerofos, clattered to the floor. She stopped moving around the room and stumbled a couple steps, allowing Meillara to scoop her up by the legs and then fall forward, slamming her to the floor with a spinebuster. Linara cried out in pain as she impacted the floor. As Meillara was about to start punching Linara, she was cut off with an attack from behind. "UAGH!" she yelled out as she rolled off Linara. It was Ellie, who had recovered Nerofos and dropped a pommel shot on Meillara, hitting her in the head with it. Meillara reached to the back of her head and then looked at her fingers. Ellie had drawn blood from the blow.

    "A nice effort, but this battle is not over yet!" Meillara railed back with a punch, catching Ellie in the jaw. She drove a knee into Ellie's stomach, doubling the soldier over, then twisted her upper body to the side to help deliver a forceful uppercut to Ellie's face that snapped her back. Ellie looked dazed, and Meillara smirked, flicking jabs at Ellie's face, catching her in the nose and snapping her head back with each one. Ellie grunted with each strike. Meillara drew her fist back and attempted a simple, straight punch, but Ellie dropped Nerofos, caught her arm and rolled, bringing Meillara down to to the ground. Quickly trapping Meillara's arm between her legs, she clasped her hands around Meillara's head and face and began to wrench her backwards. Meillara shrieked as she was caught in the damaging hold. Ellie smiled wide in satisfaction as she gave the jail leader a taste of her own medicine.

    Over in the corner, Tylissa had used all her strength to roll to her side and was watching the brawl. She saw Meillara in Ellie's hold and smiled herself. "Take that, you miserable pig!" she thought to herself. She was very satisfied watching Meillara get what she had coming to her.

    Linara had recovered from being slammed on the floor and was getting up. She recovered her sword and saw Ellie had Meillara incapacitated for the time being. She surveyed the room. Alchana was trying to fight off Keran and Jalla both. Her strikes were effective against the pair, but Jalla had gotten behind Alchana and grabbed her in a hammerlock. As Alchana began to turn her body to reverse the hold, Keran struck with a hard kick to the crotch, a dirty tactic. "HRRRNGH!" Alchana yelled out as she was struck. The distraction and pain was enough to allow Jalla to lock up the hold as Keran began to puch Alchana in the stomach and face.

    Madelyn was recovering and looked to see Alchana in trouble. "Miss Alchana..." She didn't have the physical gifts of Alchana, but she did have a strong and devout faith. She closed her eyes. "Sol... Goddess of Light... protector of the world... You asked me to remove the infestation... I cannot do it alone. I beg to call upon your strength, for mine alone is not enough. Walk with me, Protector, in the hopes you see fit to spare me but a measure of your greatness..."

    Light began to shine down on Madelyn. As the combatants noticed, they all stopped to witness this spectacle, dark elf and non dark elf alike. Madelyn seemed almost to become engulfed in bright white flame.

    When Madelyn opened her eyes again, they shone a golden, blazing yellow. "Thank you, Protector... I am your vessel, and I will carry out your will..."

    She looked to the dark elves attacking Alchana. "Vile beasts of Kriegmar! You are a blight on this land. You must be destroyed for your wicked ways. It is the will of Sol... SOL'S VENGEANCE!"

    She cast her hands out, and blinding light washed over Keran and Jalla, robbing them of their vision. It was so intense that it caused burns as well, and the two cried out in agony, turning away from the brightness.

    Ellie took the opportunity to attack the dark elf healer, taking advantage of the break in the action, and the fight was on again. Henah was caught completely off guard, and took the punch full in the face. Ellie pounced on her, grabbing her by the hair and furiously slamming her face into the stone floor. Henah's skull impacted the floor, splitting her head open. Ellie proceeded to leave nothing to chance, not taking her sweet time with this opportunity and letting Henah patch herself up. She rapidly rammed her face into the floor multiple times, causing Henah to go limp and bleed through her veil. When Ellie let her go, she was dead. The dark elves had now lost their medic.

    "That's it... no more playing around!" Linara weaved her way over to the three elves, having to dodge bodies, both upright and not, making her way behind Jalla. Gone was Linara's apprehension about what needed to be done. Sol was clearly here, now, and approved of the action needed. Linara would not question the Goddess of Light.

    With fire in her eyes the likes of which she rarely exhibited, she drew back Nerofos. "POWERRRRRRR...."

    Jalla let Alchana go and turned, just in time for Linara to complete her move.

    "STRIIIIIKE!"

    With a vicious sword slash, she caught Jalla in the shoulder on an angle. The sword cleaved into her down to her neck. Jalla's eyes opened wide in pain, surprise and fear as she screamed a piercing cry. Blood immediately washed out of the wound, running down Jalla's back and chest. Jalla's eyes started to glaze over, and then she dropped to the floor with a thump, unmoving, as she bled out.

    Even though it was a dark elf, and she'd been harming and killing innocents, Linara mentally said a small prayer.

    Keran's expression changed from shock to rage. She charged Linara as the battle resumed, taking a couple fast steps, wildly swinging a fist for Linara. Linara ducked and Keran overshot her, right into a waiting Alchana. Alchana grabbed Keran by the hair and yanked her head back, then drove her dagger into Keran's throat. With a quick wrench, she twisted the blade as if she were pulling on a lever. This spun the blade, severing Keran's jugular and windpipe, opening a sick wound in her throat.

    Keran reached up, unable to breathe, grasping at the wound, her hands becoming soaked with blood. She spit up a mouthful of it, dropped to her knees, and then went limp as she fell over.

    The battle continued, but was winding down now. Most of the dark elves had fallen, and some of the prisoners lay dead or injured as well. Madelyn was healing the injured ones. With Sol's influence, she was able to patch them up completely. Meillara looked around, and then locked eyes with Tylissa.

    "You..."

    Meillara stalked over to the corner with everyone else occupied. Tylissa's eyes opened in fear and her ears folded back. Meillara kicked Tylissa in the face, knocking her to her back. Tylissa yelped, her strength nearly gone. Meillara knelt over Tylissa and began to strangle her, putting her hands around Tylissa's neck and simply violently choking the life out of her. Tylissa gagged and began to flail.

    "I should have killed you a long time ago, you filthy bitch." Maillara pulled Tylissa a foot off the floor by her throat and then slammed her back to the floor. Her head banged on the floor.

    "I'm going to end your life, you low-brow scum." Another slam as she continued choking. Tylissa began to pass out.... was this the end for her? Everyone was busy... would she really die like this? On the cusp of salvation by her friends?

    But then it happened... Meillara made her last mistake.

    "And when I am done killing you... I'm going to kill your scummy little friends."

    No... no, Tylissa could not allow all this to be for nothing... to have her friends in harm's way to save her only for them to fail... to be involved in a fight and come up fruitless...

    Tylissa could say nothing, but her expression said it all. Her eyes opened, even through the lack of oxygen. She called on every last morsel of strength she could muster up. If she did have to die, she would do it fighting... fighting for the group of people who, for the last six weeks of their lives, had been looking for her. She couldn't let them down, she just couldn't...

    Slowly, with a lot of effort, Tylissa raised her right hand. Meillara paid her no heed as she doubled down the choke, sensing Tylissa was about to give out...

    Madelyn had finished healing Alchana and Linara now, as Sol's power diminished and then was gone. The fight had concluded, but unfortunately, some of the prisoners had perished in it. Madelyn and Linara prayed for their safe passage to the next world.

    Linara finished her prayer and then looked up, surveying the carnage. That was when she saw Meillara choking Tylissa.

    "Tylissa, I'm-" she started as she began to run over to Meillara, but she stopped suddenly as Meillara's eyes and mouth opened in shock and pain. She gasped, and her hold on Tylissa's throat loosened. It took Linara a moment to register what she was seeing... something red had seemed to sprout out of Meillara's back.

    Meillara coughed, and then Linara realized what it was... Tylissa had spent her last energy on an ice spear, mustered with the deepest reserve of energy she had. Meillara straightened, still on her knees over Tylissa, as blood ran down the shaft of ice impaling her chest, freezing to it. Anything that didn't freeze dripped onto Tylissa, cold spots on her.

    "Guh... ghrk..." Meillara rolled off Tylissa and crawled, pathetically, on her hands and knees toward Madelyn.

    "Please.... sp- spare me...."

    Madelyn, Alchana and Linara exchanged glances with each other. The hulking dark elf looked pitiful now.

    "Please... I.. I beg..."

    Madelyn looked down at Meillara. "I cannot do anything for one so wicked as you." She then turned her back on Meillara.

    Alchana followed suit as she stood next to Madelyn, also turning her back. Linara did the same as Meillara's eyes fell on her.

    "Hhrrrgcckk..." Meillara's strength gave out and she collapsed to the floor, her breathing ragged and wheezy. Soon it slowed, and then it stopped... the last dark elf finished.

    Linara sighed in relief. "Thank goodness... it's over..."

    Linara's eyes fell on Tylissa, who was unmoving now.

    "Tylissa!" she shouted, as she ran over to the fallen sorceress. She cradled Tylissa in her lap, hugging her. "I hope we're not too late... Madelyn, is there anything left over? Any magic, a potion, anything?"

    Madelyn took a deep breath. "I have only very little to help her with... the potions are gone, and much of my reserve was spent healing. I doubt what I have left would help... but it must be better than nothing."

    Madelyn approached the two, kneeling down. She placed her hands on Tylissa's neck and shoulder, gently infusing her with as much energy as she could. It wasn't much.

    "I have done what I can. I simply have no more to give..." Madelyn said.

    Linara stood, carrying Tylissa. "You know, now that I've got her in my arms like this, I can see and feel the difference... she's lost a lot of weight. And she didn't have much to lose in the first place... I didn't notice it before, what with the injuries and all. And her hair's been hacked apart... just sickening how one creature is able to treat another, and not only do so willingly, but with such glee." Linara looked down sadly at Tylissa. "But the important thing is we have you back. And we'll make you better. We promise this."

    Alchana came up beside Linara and put her hand on her shoulder in support. "Come on, we have a long journey back. May as well start." Alchana rounded up the remaining prisoners. "Bring the dead outside... let's give them a proper burial and send them on their ways."

    The living pulled the dead out of the catacombs of the jail cell, and out into the fresh air. The sun was shining brightly, the sky clear, the air crisp. Respects were paid and the dead were laid to rest. As they made to leave, there was the sound of rushing water. Everyone turned to see the commotion... and to everyone's surprise, they were greeted by the goddess Xili!

    The Xiline creature began to chatter in her language, the happiest she had been in months. She ran over to Xili who scooped her up and held her, smiling widely, chattering back.

    The Xiline spoke, and as she did so, Xili looked to the group, nodding slowly. After the story had been relayed, Xili spoke.

    "I sensed my child's presence when she was brought out of the structure here. I am told that - once again - you adventurers are responsible for an act of heroism and bravery far beyond that of most people. I am also told your injured friend looked out for others in there, attempting to deflect aggression onto herself. She tells me that your friend deflected their attention from her on more than one occasion. Selflessness like this must be rewarded."

    Xili extended her hands, and called forth a large bubble of water. It moved forward, enveloping Tylissa and taking her from Linara's arms as it levitated in the air. "Do not be alarmed. She will be fine. Watch."

    The water swirled around in the bubble, becoming very dirty as it cleansed Tylissa, removing all the dirt and filth from her. With all of the crud removed, the extent of her injuries became evident. Bones that had been healed in misaligned ways, cuts, scrapes, bruises, lacerations. The long tale of the abuse Tylissa had taken in this jail was being told all over her body. But as everyone watched, these injuries began to fade as well. It would be ten full minutes of this, but when it was over, Tylissa was no longer dirty and her injuries had all been healed. Physically, it was like nothing had happened to her. The bubble burst, dropping dirty water to the ground, then Tylissa floated back to Linara, who took her again.

    "I have left her in an induced state of unconsciousness for the time being. I will open a whirlpool. I can send all of you back to your homes with it. You will traverse through the waterways we use to travel. You will not be harmed in doing so, of course. Your friend has been through traumatic experiences, and so might not be able to handle the waterways. It can be an overwhelming sensation, and it is best she does not have to deal with that. She will wake up shortly after your safe arrival in Zentil. Safe travels to you all."

    The now-former prisoners thanked the group of adventurers and bowed to Xili, returning home.

    The only one left not of the group was Ellie.

    "I can't thank all of you enough again. You are all some of the most selfless, caring souls I have seen in Kriegmar. If everyone had your values, mayhaps the continent wouldn't be heading for war right now. If you're ever in Gridenia, I'll see to it personally that you are safe and secure, and I'll be sending you a token of my appreciation via courier. You are all fine, upstanding people. And so is your friend. She's got some good people looking out for her."

    "Thank you for your words, Ellie." Madelyn spoke. "Miss Tylissa is... certainly unique. We value her company very much."

    Ellie smiled. "Well, I know she certainly values yours. Couldn't stop talking good stuff about you guys. Now I see why first hand. I hope we can all meet again some day, if under better circumstances.

    Ellie saluted to the group and then took her leave, diving into the whirlpool.

    "Thank you for returning my child to me." Xili said. "I did not know where she was, until she emerged from this place."

    "We are glad to do so." Madelyn said. The group bowed to Xili.

    "This blight must be erased from Kriegmar." Xili said. Casting out her hand, a wave of water rose up from the water-filled hole, impossibly large... with a roar and a crash, it came down hard on the former prison, demolishing it and consigning the dark elven bodies left in there to a fate of what now amounted to a communal grave, where their bodies would rot to the bone, and their bones would turn to dust.

    Xili bowed to the group, with the Xiline smiling and waving. Then they entered the waterways and were gone.

    The group all looked at each other. "Well... I'm anxious to get back home. And I'm glad we don't have to walk four days to get there. Come on... let's go home." Alchana said.

    The group dove in and were on their way, the whirlpool closing behind them. Soon, the area was still and soundless, much the way it had been before the intrusion of the dark elves.
     
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  2. unknownwatcher

    unknownwatcher Avid Affiliate Ryonani Teamster

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    I can tell you put in a lot of work in this. poor tylissa went through the ringer in this one but she sure did get her revenge along with her cellmates. overall, it was a great story. great job man :)
     
  3. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    Thank you, yes, this was a lot of work. I also cut fully half of it that did not end up being any good, so what you see here is about half the work I put in to it before saying "fuck it, this part is shit" and getting rid of it.
     
  4. TheCrimsonRisk

    TheCrimsonRisk Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    I'm happy for you that you finally got this done! I know you've been working on it for awhile. Just had to fit in every possible wrestling and martial arts move on Tylissa, eh? What, no Shooting Star Press? I'm disappointed.

    Ellie seems cool. I like how you gave her a distinctive voice.

    Total physical, emotional, and mental breakdown of Tylissa, something I can tell you've always wanted to see done properly. Neat little brawl at the end there too.

    Take a well deserved break and then get back on the saddle.
     
  5. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    Well, didn't want to kill her now, the Shooting Star Press would have just been overkill. xD

    Thanks, yeah, I wanted to make Ellie into a not-so-refined-but-badass soldier type. You totally stole the name from me in your most recent story! lol.

    Brawls are difficult to write. I wanted to make sure the girls all had something to do while taking some lumps and not looking weak or ineffective. I hope I balanced that, although it could be argued Alchana came out ahead with three kills. And yeah, I definitely wanted Tylissa to suffer a little here, heh. xD

    I'm gonna enjoy the break, maybe get back onto RP now. I've only done a couple since starting this, but a lot of that is losing two of the more active RP partners I had.