(Warning. Warning. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT FOR EVERYONE WHO HASN'T READ PAST NIGHTFALL.)
Sophie squinted into the cover of her illegal, unregistered Spyball, the one that had been given to her by the Black Swan. Her toothy, horselike reflection stared back at her, and she would've looked away if she hadn't realized that the surface distorted her features ever so slightly.
But it was still her — her blonde hair and brown eyes, complete with golden specks that seemed to keep the sun alive and were rooted deep beneath the surface.
She hadn't checked in on her family for so long. Even though they didn't know it, she wanted them to know that she was trying to watch over them — but even if she could, what was the point of telling them if she wasn't trying hard enough?
She clenched her jaw and tugged at her eyelashes, hard, refusing to wince. No way was she going to let her thoughts further stall her. She needed to check in on them — now.
Now that she'd thought about it, she should probably set a day of the week when she did all of her check-ups; with Silveny, her human family, her Team Valiant teammates, and her friends.
"Show me Natalie Freeman," she whispered into the speaker, her voice so light and anxious it felt like it was being carried by the wind.
The Spyball's eye rolled back for a second, looking like a toy from an arcade before it showed its deadly power, flashing to the worried face of her sister... standing next to a dark, olive-haired boy.
"Darius, please," Amy pleaded, looking more desperate than Sophie had ever seen her, "I didn't mean it! I didn't, please, please..."
The boy named Darius frowned, watching Amy tug out an eyelash that clearly revealed her lie before scoffing. "I know what I heard!"
"Then why doesn't anyone else?" Amy asked, looking even more like Sophie as she straightened and squeezed her shoulder, "I don't remember anyone else coming to my house and scaring the crap out of me!" To be fair, she did look pretty shaken.
Darius held his breath and eyed Amy closely as if to see if she was lying. Some part of Sophie irrationally thought, he would make a good Empath. But she was frozen and didn't know what to do — what had Amy said?
Darius now mirrored Amy and stepped sideways so he could stare intently into his eyes. "They don't notice things like I do," he whispered, reaching out and tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. Sophie watched, horrified, as she imagined Amy jerking back and screaming for help — but all her sister did was frown. "This is another one of your games, isn't it?"
"No games," he shot back, "I've been lied to my whole life. Do you know how much this means to me?"
"Not as much as you might think," Amy suddenly looked like she was on the verge of collapsing into tears, "I... I can't. I can't tell you."
"Why not?" Darius squinted at something behind her shoulder, making Amy's eyes narrow and her eyebrows raise.
"I can't. I just can't. I can't! I can't, Darius!" She screamed, a tear trailing another down her cheeks. Sophie's heart immediately ached — she wished that she could reach out for her sister, right now, pat her on the shoulder, hold her hand, look into her eyes, and tell her that it was going to be okay.
But she couldn't. She was watching a fairy tale unravel, and all she could do was spectate along.
Amy shook her head furiously and wiped her face with a handkerchief from her pocket, dabbing at the corner of her eyes and making Sophie's eyelashes itch. "Tell me why I should."
"Why shouldn't you, Natalie?" Darius patted her on the shoulder in an awkward rhythm, and Sophie almost smiled for a second when she realized how much he resembled Keefe. Aside from the dark hair, he had a warm kind of clumsiness she could suddenly see in Keefe — if he was feeling particularly considerate one day, he'd probably react to the situation the same way Darius did. Also, Darius seemed incredibly convincing. "I'm not trying to manipulate you, I promise."
Sophie suddenly felt the room spin when the thought came across his mind that Keefe might actually be Darius. It wasn't exactly reassuring and probably nowhere near true, but... still, it made adrenaline course through her body as she shuddered.
"Yeah, most of the promises been made to me were broken," Amy said, pressing her cool palms to her temples. Darius stiffened, and Amy squirmed. "Also, isn't that what all manipulators say?"
Great. Her sister also thought that Darius was convincing — convincing enough to not shoot him down immediately, anyway.
"Natalie, I can help you," The dark-haired boy said, smiling crookedly. It was the first time Sophie noticed his eyes — they were a nice, light ocean green with hints of the blue sky. Anyone would've thought that the color of his eyes didn't match his hair, but it was impossible to see them together. You either saw his eyes or any of his other facial features; they were never together.
Amy — no, Natalie — glowered, then decided it seemed too mean and snorted instead. "I don't need help."
"You don't think you need help," Darius corrected, sounding gentler than Sophie had ever heard him, "But you do. I can see it in your eyes — and I'm extremely perceptive." He flashed a beaming grin that seemed to almost knock Amy out, like an ocean wave. "Also, have you ever considered how evil that is? You live in a secret world! You get to go on adventures! You get to be daring and risk your life and be brave," he lowered his gaze, "That's what I feel when..."
"When what, Darius?" She pressed, grabbing onto his wrist. For a moment, it looked like she was going to narrow her eyes and ask him why he thought all that was true.
"It's... stupid," he agreed, smirking when Amy bore a look into his skull, "You didn't think I wouldn't tell you, did you?"
Before her sister had an opportunity to interrupt, he thankfully continued. "That's what I feel when I read a book. I want to enter the world so, so badly. And you know what? I can never forgive the authors for creating a realm I can never be part of. It cuts at me every day! I keep hoping and hoping, and the only thing that's keeping me from staying away all night is the thought that I might be able to dream of living in that world, and then I wake up in the morning and it never happens and..."
"That's why you sulk so much," Amy interjected. "Uh, you know how much that sounds like the beginning of a story, right?" She added, waiting for his answer.
Darius smiled, almost sadly. "Uh, duh. And I'll do whatever it takes. To earn your trust. To do this. I promise."
"You swear on your life."
This was so, so not happening. Sophie squeezed her eyes shut, holding on to the hope that her sister might not expose their entire world...
She'd been told.
By so many people.
By everyone she knew.
And this was such a big risk.
Why was her sister even considering it?
But she knew it was a lost cause when she heard the sound of feet moving as Amy leaned toward Darius and whispered, "I'm an elf."
"NO!" Sophie and Darius both screamed at the same time. Before levitating above the Havenfield property and smashing the Spyball to a pulp like she'd done with Alvar's Radiant, she peered furiously into the surface of the Spyball.
Darius seemed to yelp as if he'd been jabbed in the side by a wand every five seconds. His eyes flashed with every emotion possible — surprise, shock, confusion lasting the longest, mixed with a kind of madness that seemed to be the result of receiving earth-shattering news. He gaped at her sister as if she was some kind of extraterrestrial and looked like he was deciding between interrogating her to see if she was telling the truth and giving her a scared hug.
Somewhere between the madness and shock, Sophie found room to wonder if this was what Amy had felt when she'd found out that her parents had been kidnapped. The tiniest bit of sympathy trickled in before she shoved it away, eyes wide open in terror. What would happen next?
"What's going to happen?" She whispered, not daring to look up. Horrible what-if scenarios were flashing through her mind at the speed of light — and she caught some truly awful ones. If they actually happened, everyone on the face of the Earth would literally be obliterated.
Even though Amy — Natalie — didn't see her, she was going to apologize in the next second or Sophie was going to volunteer herself to go to Exile. She'd find a way to wipe her own memories if the Council didn't agree.
Darius lunged forward as if he was attacking some mysterious beast lurking in the shadows before reaching for Amy's hand. She took it hesitantly and patted his palm in the same awkward but melodic rhythm he'd followed earlier when he'd held her shoulder.
"It's Amy," she cut him off, aiming a glare his way before coughing and clearing her throat. "Gods, I don't know what's wrong with me."
Darius watched Amy bury her face in her hands and stood idly by. Sophie's nerves tingled with fear, frustration, and pure hatred. She'd never felt this way toward anyone besides herself before, but she didn't feel a single drop of guilt — especially since he wouldn't hear it. HELP HER! HELP HER IF IT'S THE LAST THING YOU DO, IF IT'S ANYTHING YOU DO!
At the last possible second before Sophie threw a panic attack, leaped to Everglen, and started tearing at their walls, he reached for Amy's shoulder and gave it a single reassuring squeeze.
"There's nothing wrong with you... Amy. There really isn't—" He added quickly, and his cheeks flushed a pale red when he realized what he'd done. "I don't know what's wrong with me."
The tiniest trace of a dimpled smile worked its way onto Amy's face as she watched Darius groan in agony. "Ugh, it's too much fun to watch you suffer."
Sophie really thought she was going to lose it and throw up.
She'd always known Amy as Amy — her little sister who was, coincidentally, the polar opposite of her. Amy was the name she chose to use in the elvin world. She'd put ensuring her safety as a priority above her parents — and it turned out to be a horrible nightmare. She was just... a human.
What else had she missed?
Also, she couldn't help the queasy feeling in her stomach that made the room spin when she realized that the names Amy and Darius sounded, well, perfect together. There wasn't really any better word to describe it — better than Natalie, definitely, but maybe that was just because she didn't really know the girl with that name.
Darius grinned crookedly, flashing one of his dimples — strangely reminding her of Dex. "So... you're an elf, huh?"
Amy seemed to hesitate for a moment before nodding, showing all her teeth in a toothy grin that made her seem five years old again. What was even weirder was that Darius didn't pick up on her hesitation — was that normal? Or was he not as observant as Sophie had imagined and as he had said? "I'm an elf. Believe it or not."
"Are elves supposed to have super cool abilities that can wipe out the earth? OOOOH!" Darius squealed, flailing his arms in the air. "I'm just, sorry, super excited right now. This is... this is... this is amazing!" He threw his arms around Amy, who did nothing but spin around in a circle trying to loosen his grip and laugh.
"I'm glad I trusted you," she muttered under her breath. Darius caught it and beamed.
"Repeat that, will you?"
"I'm glad I trusted you. Now, will you promise to never tell anyone?"
Amy's voice had turned serious and, well, somewhat dark. Darius resisted the urge to flinch for a moment before leaning in and whispering in her ear, "I promise. I swear on my life."
"Then tug on your right ear," Amy commanded, sounding like the bossy sister Sophie knew, "And we'll both do that when something serious involving the elves happen — or when I need your help. And vice versa."
Darius frowned, catching her "slip." "You just referred to the elves as... well, you didn't include yourself in it."
"Oops!" Amy said, a little too quickly. Somehow, the irrational side of Sophie popped up again and hoped that Darius wouldn't catch how her sister's tone had changed — luckily, all he did was raise an eyebrow teasingly. "I need to tell you all about them. Everything I know, anyway." She dragged all the words out like they meant nothing.
"How am I supposed to sneak over here, anyway?" Darius wondered, mirroring Amy and tugging out a loose eyelash.
"I'll sneak you in. One way or another," Amy grinned nervously, like she might and was tempted to use one of her nonexistent special abilities to do just that.
Darius grinned too, looking like Keefe and Dex's secret brother. "You've been dying to tell someone this for a long time, haven't you?"
Sophie paused to catch her breath, waiting to see how Amy would respond. Somehow she felt like she was intruding on a private conversation involving two strangers — not her sister and her boyfriend, apparently.
"I have." Since when did Amy learn to be so... flirtatious? She flipped her hair behind her but left it covering part of her right eye. "I actually... used to have someone to confide in a lot."
Amy's voice had gotten quiet now. "I... she's my sister. I still don't really believe it, but... she doesn't really talk to me a lot, even though she seems like she sometimes wants to see me more. Thing is, I'm not exactly allowed to see her, y'know? Sooo...."
Darius mumbled something under his breath, and Amy in turn mumbled something that Sophie took to be as Speak up.
That made Sophie's anger burst, trapping her in a bubble of desperation, determination, anger, bitterness, rage, hatred, and every awful feeling she could conjure up.
She felt like she could die here.
Anything but this.
She just couldn't.
She was ready to give up.
But no one came and took her until she let out a scream that seemed to only reach far away, like only someone living in the Forbidden Cities would be able to hear.
So when Grady finally burst through her door, she had a huge bubble of anger ready that she was going to dump on him. Let it be someone but her.
She was so mad and full of rage that she couldn't hold it back.
She let it burst.
Directed all of it toward him.
She was ready to never feel anything again at all.
She felt her stomach swell with something — happiness? Until she realized the truth.
She'd inflicted on him.
She would be, at best, Exiled.
And she was actually fine with that.
"SOPHIE!" Grady yelled like they would be the last words he ever said, like he was holding on to whatever mental energy he had left. The strength and strain in his voice surprised her, almost knocking her over. "Sophie, tell me what's wrong!"
She expected to be mesmerized so she would have to give her answer. Was this what it was going to turn into? A battle of just raw abilities and talent, both forced against their will?
She refused to let that happen. Keeping her mouth clamped shut, she choked out an agonizing, urgent whisper, "Get Mr. Forkle over here... to search my..."
And all she could see was the darkness as the light was slowly sucked out of her world.
She knew she was awake. She just didn't want them to see it — and what better way to take advantage of her half-conscious state than pretending to be asleep so she could overhear some of their secret conversations? Sophie couldn't believe that she'd never thought of this before!
"You've arranged for transportation?" A hushed voice whispered from somewhere that felt far away but was close enough for her to make out the muffled words.
"For the boy too," a raspy voice wheezed — definitely Mr. Forkle's, who sounded like he was going through a painful transformation from his identity as principal to his disguise for the Black Swan using ruckleberries.
But she didn't miss the catch. Darius was coming HERE?
"I won't let you!" She screamed, thrashing and flailing her arms in the air. Sure enough, Magnate-Leto-As-Mr.Forkle was so surprised that he momentarily blinked out of sight, triggering a yelp from Sophie and Livvy as Blur sucked in a breath, looking like he was using his mouth to drain all the light from the room. A sharp pain overcame Sophie as she tried to sit up that stung particularly in her temples as she choked and shrunk back down.
Mr. Forkle reappeared with a swish of light, looking extremely shaken — but not about what he'd just done. "Miss Foster, please—"
"I WON'T LET YOU!" She pleaded, glaring him in the eye accusingly, "I won't let you. In fact, for all the times you've invaded my privacy, I'll just read your mind, teleport to wherever you're going to get my sister and her little boyfriend, and wash his memories myself."
She gasped as she extracted the words she'd told Grady from her memories. Get Mr. Forkle over here... to search my...
Memories. She'd left out that word.
How nice was it to have him assume, once again, that he had permission?
Anger tore at her stomach as she felt a squishy tug at her stomach, like how she would feel if she was using her telekinesis — except for this time, all that pulled her forward was her anger.
She was going to be sick.
Mr. Forkle sighed as Sophie filled his mind with a ton of PLEASE! and NO! and I WON'T LET YOU! shouts and demands. "Sophie, please let me explain—"
"GET OUT! GET OUT OF HERE! I'll go live with the humans if I have to — I fit in fine in there, huh?" Sophie glowered, not expecting an answer. When Mr. Forkle didn't get out of her sight immediately, she decided to save her transmitting for later and pointed towards the door, "I'm done with this. You want to protect me, fine. But I'm telling you that this isn't how I want to be protected!" She spat, not feeling the tiniest ounce of shame.
Mr. Forkle shrunk and recoiled, no doubt taken aback by what she'd said. "Listen to me!" He begged, looking desperate.
She felt the same kind of rage tug at her stomach as she had when she'd...
Oh no. Feeling like her temples had a dagger sticking out, she allowed her eyes to fill with tears so it would seem real as she shoved all her emotions in a shock wave toward Mr. Forkle — hurt, shock, desperation, fear, and forced herself to look him in the eye as a final gesture full of meaning but certainly not respect, telling him to leave her alone.
"Get out of here before I inflict on you," she warned, not flinching as she watched Livvy, Mr. Forkle, and even Blur slowly back away, "I don't want to do that. Please leave me alone—!"
"Sophie—" Blur and Livvy began.
Sophie smiled regretfully to herself. Deep down, she knew that her bubble of guilt was about to burst. "I'll say it again," she said, in a dangerously calm voice that foreshadowed what was about to happen, "GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE I INFLICT ON YOU!"
Mr. Forkle opened his mouth like he was going to say something — maybe something along the lines of I knew we should've let the Council take away your abilities and made sure that Dex couldn't take the contraption off — before his expression suddenly turned into a defeated, sad look that seemed to mean that he accepted her terms before leaving the room, dipping his head slightly and clenching his jaw.
Livvy and Blur followed, but not before the splotchy outline of the Collective member held the door open for Livvy and the ex-adoptive mom of Amy winked at her.
Horrifying. But the words Mr. Forkle had transmitted into her mind echoed as loudly as the last bell of the school day. We hope you'll understand soon, Sophie.
Sophie didn't loosen her I-Can-Make-King-Dimitar-Look-Cuddly look until long after he was gone. Squeezing her hands into fists, she felt a strange kind of emotion wash over her — like the day was perfectly normal, or could be perfectly normal even if it was anything but. It distracted her from her nausea and dizziness for the slightest second before a huge headache burst out of nowhere.
Darius and Amy were coming to the Lost Cities.
Some small part of her wondered, Where would they stay? What would they do in this world? Would the Council know about it? No, that's a stupid question — of course they would. Where were they right now? And what would they say about it? How would the elves feel? Threatened? Intimidated? Betrayed? Would they blame it on her, even though if she hadn't stepped in at exactly the right moment, it probably would've gone a lot worse?
What if it didn't matter to them? How would she punish Amy? How was she ever going to be able to look Darius in the eye without the urge to rip out all her eyelashes? Would Amy even apologize? Or would she just say that she shouldn't have snooped? Would she understand that she was doing something for the greater good? Did Amy really believe in her own lie?
The questions made her angry, a freezing kind of angry.
All she ever wanted were answers.
And all she ever had were questions.
Surprisingly enough, the question that popped into her head a second later was answered immediately after. "We're here, Sophie," a certain teal-eyed boy whispered into her ear and squeezed her hand gently, like he wasn't willing to let go first.
I'm worry that I have no idea what's going on. Well OK there is an emergency situation that needs handling, but what all those emotions are about? It's seems like much more than overreaction, or I'm missing something fundamental.
Plus, it's really that bad? Anyway, no one will believe anything that Darius may tell. Why not just send two regular washers to handle it?
However, thank you very much it's really interesting.
hi! i'm sorry for the confusion, that often happens with stories i write (xD my clarity is not that great). first of all, sophie treats it as a big deal in her mind because the peace she's worked so hard to restore could all be reset with her sister revealing parts of the truth to someone she barely knows, and it makes her even more mad because amy's her sister. a wide number of things could happen with this, and what scares sophie most is that she doesn't know what'll happen -- so when she overhears that mr. forkle is bringing amy and darius to the lost cities, it seems disporportionately large and it kind of shows her that what would've happened would be very serious (as shown with darius's personality) if they're resorting to such measures. also, the whole time she's been thinking that the black swan is too idle and when it suddenly spikes up like whenever she encounters the neverseen it seems like a larger deal.
(i hope this helps you, i seriously can't do a very good job of clarifying; basically, there's not really one main reason but rather a lot of them)
i'm already starting to cringe at this explanation, feel free to ask me more if you wanna know! :D
Thank you! Well I think that I'll hold more questions for now and see if I can figure it out during the next chapters.
And you know, the reason of your relative unclearity is that you're writing very realistic, and reality is generally unclear until hindsight, so go with it. 🙂
Sophie could hardly breathe as she stared into Fitz's wide teal eyes, the very image of perfection. Looking away sharply, she loosened her grip on his hands, which only made Fitz more determined to squeeze harder.
"Sophie?" He asked, confused yet reassuring, "It's okay. Let us help you."
Standing beside him, Dex whistled and grinned nervously at Sophie. His dimples flashed, making him seem older somehow — for whatever reason, it frightened her and seemed like it was too much to take in. Her eyes betrayed her and sneaked up on Keefe, who had huge dark circles beneath his eyes that made him look like a raccoon. His lips tilted into his knowing smirk-grin expression, silently passing an Are you okay? message between them.
Sophie really hated that she could tell. She hated that she could tell what he was saying, even when she felt like the distance between the two of them couldn't be any greater.
"Woahhhh, Foster, remind me to never mess with you," he said teasingly after a long silence, "Actually, I think I've been told loads of times — but when did I bother to listen?"
Sophie shook her head. Fitz tilted his head to the side with something she took as sympathy as she blinked, trying to get a better sense of her surroundings. Her vision was clear for a few seconds before it fogged up again, making her grind her teeth together with frustration. But one thing was clear — her friends were having a contest to see who could make eye contact with her the longest, and she wasn't letting any of them win.
Until Biana appeared in the corner of the room with her left leg missing. With a tiny shriek, she vanished and reappeared again (this time with all her limbs, thankfully) between Fitz and Keefe, nearly knocking both of them over.
Linh was also peeping in the corner shyly, looking like she was plotting a way to get out of the room unnoticed. Out of anyone in the room, she was the only person Sophie could try to smile at.
Trying to break up the awkward silence that was usually never there, Sophie asked them between her coughs, "What are you doing here?"
Keefe shifted his weight from one foot to another, trying to think of a response. "Well, why wouldn't we be, Foster? We're always here for you — well, we try to be," he added hastily, "My sense of humor seriously needs to be beefed up more," he whispered, lips quirking up at Sophie when her traitorous lips parted in a tiny smile.
"Nothing needs to be 'beefed up' except for Sophie's happiness!" Fitz made air quotes with his hands, pushing hard.
"Aw, don't worry, Fitzy," Keefe winked, nudging him in the elbow, "The Foster Fan Club is doing exactly that! You know what?" He decided, waiting for a moment before he spoke again, "I'm feeling really nice today, Fitz, so I'm going to promote you to Vice-President-in-training!"
"Sounds super important," Biana jumped in as Fitz looked down at the floor, "But we're supposed to be here for..."
Her voice trailed off, leaving Sophie wondering what she was about to say. "What is it?"
Everyone found somewhere else to look except for Sophie's face. She raised an eyebrow, not forgetting what Fitz had said earlier. "Tell me."
Fitz stood up higher and squeezed her hand, which made Sophie's gaze automatically drift up to the unibrow connecting his two eyebrows near his forehead. "Now's not the time for this, Sophie," he warned.
"Yes, it is," she insisted.
But it was Linh who spoke up and told her. "Mr. Forkle told us to be here for moral support," she said quietly, "and when he didn't tell us why, we started pushing. He said..."
"I have a feeling I'm really going to need moral support for this," she warned. As if on cue, Fitz tightened his grip on her and pushed his fingers forward so that they were touching the skin in between Sophie's fingers. Keefe's hand twined with hers and he sent cool mental breezes through her mind, making her wonder how two colors like green and blue could look so good against the other. Biana even appeared by Keefe's side and held on to her wrist protectively, like she was afraid that she was going to be mad at her.
"No hiding. No stalling. Just say it. Three, two, one..."
"They're going to be considered members of a seperate species, an intelligent species," Linh said, her voice barely louder than a whisper, "They're going to be allowed to live in our world, and their family's memories will be wiped of anything involving them — so will every person who knows them. They'll be expected to live their lives like any elf, and Tribunals will be held for both of them so they start with a clean state and the public knows why they're here."
Sophie felt herself go rigid as Linh whispered the final sentence, "And if all goes well for them, their trial period starts today — Amy will be living in Quinlin's apartment, and Darius will be living in a seperate structure behind Havenfield."
22.214.171.124 wrote: .... uhm. Not gonna lie, but when did they compromise that? Like when they actually let Amy and Darius be an “elf” Also, is Amy x Darius a thing? I’ll make it a thing.
the council compromised it and then shared the reason with mr. forkle and the collective + other select members of the black swan. i'm sorry if it doesn't make much sense right now, but i promise you'll know in some of the later chapters!
"SILENCE!" Emery's voice boomed across the room full of stuffy nobles, making Sophie cringe internally while Alden straightened next to her. She watched as he took Della's hand, wishing that her life could be good as his even though it was nowhere near perfect — and that her friends could be with her right now. Between the two, they were so tempting and impossible to choose from that it almost seemed fortunate that she couldn't pick either one.
For now. For some reason, that made Sophie shudder. Was it because she'd never have to settle for a good life since she was always needed in some kind of effort? Or because she'd already lost the level of trust with her friends because of what she'd done yesterday? She knew deep down that they wouldn't blame her too much — but how often was she truly right?
"Bring in the accused," the Council chanted together, thankfully snapping Sophie out of her trance as she adjusted her posture, too, determined to show the people who'd made the decision that they hadn't changed her in any way. She would still cotninue fighting, as always.
But there were things happening now that were never meant to happen. She wouldn't be here if her sister hadn't done the things she'd done, just like the only person truly responsible for the late Mr. Forkle's death was Gethen.
She took in a deep breath, waiting and pleading for the guilt to set in faster. When it never did, she exhaled with relief and really thought that she might be right.
When her sister trudged in, everything there had been in her stomach vanished instantly. She could feel it deflate and tried to decide if that was a good thing.
Amy's hair was swept back in a dark ponytail that seemed to make her seem more modest somehow, like she was dressed more appropriately for the occasion. A few thin strands of hair still hung over her face, but she kept her chin tucked in and seemed to be interested in the floor as she stepped forward. A collective gasp rung across the room — did they think that Amy was being too slow? — while her sister swallowed and tried to take in everything around her. When Amy suddenly realized that things might not go as normal for her since she was technically a human, her eyes widened a little and she tried to convince herself otherwise by making a weak "Woah" sound.
"Woah indeed," Emery noted, though he wasn't smiling, "We're very interested in your perspective on things, Miss Foster."
Sophie had never felt so sick to have someone share the same title as her, though she tried to convince herself it was just because she never thought of it as a possibility before all of this had happened. Feeling a strong urge to change her last name to the one corresponding to the family crest she had pinned on her cape, she suddenly felt a plummeting sensation run through her as she realized that she was wearing the wolf pin. The one that showed her status in the Nobility.
Grady and Edaline, along with Vika and Timkin and their daughter Stina, had went to check on Silveny and Greyfell on one of their weekly excursions to the beachy dunes, something Sophie greatly envied in the moment.
What if they were talking to her instead of her sister? But they weren't. No surprises like that were going to happen today.
"Please state your full name."
Amy hesitated and swallowed before answering, like she was about to admit she was guilty of commiting a crime. "Amy Rose Foster," she said in a wobbly voice, like she didn't believe that was her name. Maybe she thought it was Darius, because Sophie could seriously see that name rolling off her tongue. Or...
She'd had other names too. If Amy hadn't been her given name... which one would she have chosen?
Before she could stop herself, Sophie transmitted to Amy across the room. It's not too late, you know.
Amy's eyebrows instantly quirked up and her eyes widened, searching the room for a recognizeable face. When they skimmed past Sophie, part of her wondered if that was intentional or that she just hadn't seen her... either way, judging from her sister's reaction, she shouldn't have done that. It was probably even against the rules.
Amy, she said in her head, hoping to remember these words for later — if Amy's Tribunal went well. Its your sister. It's Sophie. I...
She couldn't reassure her by telling her that she didn't blame her, right? That was lying, and she wasn't going to play that game.
"Amy Rose Foster," Emery repeated, allowing it to echo throughout the room and give everyone an opportunity to take it in — except for Sophie. She knew her sister all too well to pretend that Amy was a stranger to her. "Are you aware of what you're being accused of?"
"I am." Amy's voice held surprisingly steady, though there was an edge of confusion and wildness to it. "But... could you maybe clarify them? All my offenses?"
For a moment, Sophie expected all eyes to be laid on her for an explanation. Emery, however, looked Amy in the eye and began speaking. "After you were entrusted with keeping the knowledge of our world from the humans, you decided to betray our trust and tell your accomplice."
"Is that all?" Amy's eyes held a note of challenge to it and darted across each Councillor. "Is that all, Councillor... euh..."
"Emery," Councillor Emery noted, not looking disturbed at all as he continued with a question, "Is there something you aren't telling us, Miss Foster?"
"Miss Amy," she corrected, like she was some princess in a palace where she held the power of life and death over her subjects, "I don't like my last name, not when it all represents a lie," she added icily.
Emery looked pleasantly taken aback as Sophie choked. Alden seemed to notice this and squeezed her hand tightly, but she barely noticed even when Della held on to her back like she was afraid she'd fall down. "Very well, Miss... Amy. And what is your accomplice's name?"
Given what her sister had said in the past fifteen minutes, Sophie fully expected her to jump in with another remark that would surely lead to imminent disaster and braced for it, tucking her elbows into her chest and forcing her eyes shut. When her sister stayed silent for a few moments, Sophie tried to figure out if that was a good or bad thing. "I think it's..." she began slowly, as if she was having doubts herself, "Darius... Endal. No, I don't think that's it...?"
Coincidences like this happen all the time, a voice at the back of her head said — and it seemed so wrong that she was trying to reassure herself at this point. She couldn't even be one person.
Amy had pronounced it differently than how Wylie had stated his last name before.
And the Collective's pronounciation.
And... her sister didn't even think it was right. If there was one thing she couldn't deny, it was the veracity of her sister's instincts. So if Amy was really going with her gut...
Darius Endal, she repeated again and again. How could a name ever sound so right and wrong at the same time?
The Council seemed to be quite thrown off too. None of them hid their surprise — Oralie turned to Bronte with a worried, wide-eyed look, Councillor Clarette's frown sunk deeper than she ever thought was possible, and even Alden released his shaky grasp on her.
What was happening? As much as she loved seeing the Council's disbelief and shock so their people, especially their most trusted people, could see who they really were, it threw her off guard too.
And Amy looked like she was in the middle of it all, like she was struggling to hide something.
How much power does Amy hold if she can manage to do all this?
That sounded like a question only a tyrant would ask themself.
Feeling guilt and shame, she welled up and waited for the noise to settle.
"Darius Endal," Emery repeated twice — once out loud, once under his breath. "How certain are you, exactly?"
"You mean how I know?" Amy's wry lips twisted into a smirking smile as she stood up and put her hands on her hips, pouting thoughtfully. "I saw him write that name down on a club sign-up sheet. Oh, yeah, you don't know that is." Sophie's sister searched her mind for the right words while Sophie gritted her teeth and tried her hardest to remind herself that Amy had gotten herself into this mess, not her.
She really hated how, despite the distance between the two of them, she still felt like she had to take on part of the blame. Her opinion towards her sister changed every second, but one thing would always stay the same: she knew that Amy wouldn't be able to fit in in this world. She'd be better off living with the humans with a dangerous secret than being here where the elves' existence didn't require an explaination.
"It's like... a group of people gathering up after school to do something together," Amy's impulsive yet determined mind decided, "And I decided to join the magic club. Where we, uh, pretend to duel each other with fake wands."
Sophie watched the Councillors' faces for the slightest trace of amusement, but there didn't seem to be anything of the sort. Just dazed and hazy expressions, clenched jaws, and some knuckles being cracked rather harshly.
WHY? Sophie knew that everyone in the room wanted the answer as much as she did. WHY was her sister doing what she was doing? Did she even know that she was being rude to THE COUNCIL? Or did Amy just not care about what her fate was going to be.
That's two of us who hate the Council, Sophie's traitorous mind thought. The Council wasn't always her enemy, but they did sometimes get in the way of things. And right now? They might not be the Black Swan's enemy judging off of how nonchalantly the organization she was working for was taking this, but the Council was her personal enemy.
The worst part: she couldn't act on any of her feelings, because she also worked for the Council. The most Sophie could do without being stripped of her title was silently reminding herself every moment that the Council meant nothing to her. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Nothing. It was quite easy to believe, which just went to show how infuriated Sophie was by what was going on — she just wanted the Tribunal to end, even if there was no verdict.
She missed having all her friends beside her, especially Fitz and Keefe. She'd gotten to know them so well that she simply knew that Keefe would probably be making jokes and bets and trying whatever he could to get Sophie into her quote-on-quote "happy place." Fitz would take it more quietly; he'd be squeezing her hand and they'd cry together. She'd cry harder than him, though.
It was funny how she could only picture one of them with her at a time and not the two of them actually together. Had she ruined their friendship simply because...
Emery nodded. "Go on. What led up to the events of your exposure?" He added when Amy threw her hands up in the air in a surrendering stance and tried to glare at herself, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO GO ON ABOUT?
"I... that day, earlier that day, I made a slip," Amy explained quietly, "Darius was waving his arms in the air at dueling club and his stomach was weirdly sucked in... I meant it as a joke and asked him if he was trying to do a brain push," she finished lamely.
Sophie had told Amy about what brain pushes were like a few weeks ago during one of their unathorized Imparter conversations — was she the person who was at fault now? Would the Council ask about how Amy knew what a brain push was? What would happen to her sister?
Because, come to think of it, if she hadn't mentioned what the rare trick that supposedly only Ancients could pull off to Amy, this never would've happened...
Alden did exactly what Fitz would if he were here. In an instant, he had grabbed her shoulders and asked alarmingly and surprisingly loudly in her ear, "Sophie, are you okay?"
Sophie wondered how pale she must've looked. The room was spinning in a way that wasn't too fast, like it was built to rotate around and make everyone in the structure dizzy...
And then the world settled again when Councillor Bronte coughed rather angrily. "I'm fine," she promised, and Alden let go of her shoulders, unconvinced but not sure what to do.
Emery nodded, and Amy seemed to know exactly what he meant: Go on. "And then he started pestering me about what a brain push was. He wouldn't shut up about it." She scanned the room anxiously and fanned out the air, wrinkling her small nose — Sophie thought what her sister was doing was far too aimless for her to know exactly what it was, but one thing was clear: She was searching for something.
She was searching for Darius. Was Amy worried that she was being too mean about him?
Amy continued blabbering away, sealing her fate by the second. "He claimed to have seen it in a magic book and offered me all kinds of trades... finally, I screamed at him and said, you would know if you went to Exillium!"
Sophie felt nothing. Amy kept talking. "And then... oh god, that one slip made me slip up even more," she wrapped a strand of hair around her pinkie finger and tapped her foot on the ground like water leaking from a ceiling. "I know.... it's not a good reason. So then he came over to my house exactly the day when my parents were going to be out for dinner, and then... you know the rest."
They knew the rest because Sophie had shown Mr. Forkle the memory. Mr. Forkle had probably allowed Emery into his mind so he could share it, and Emery shared it with the rest of the Council. No. There was no 'probably.' This was as real as it was going to get.
"It's not a good excuse," Emery agreed.
"Uh, it's not," Amy shot back, "Because it's not an excuse. It's a proper reason, and you should recognize it that way. You can probably hear my thoughts from where you are — go ahead and check if you'd like."
Sophie felt empty until the realization slowly creeped up on her. She couldn't hear her sister's thoughts. Was it because Amy was trying to shield it from everyone like how she managed to pull it off with the Neverseen?
How hard must that have been, thinking of darkness while trying to plead your case? It wasn't a good excuse — no, reason — but it made the tiniest drop of sympathy soak in and resonate with Sophie. This time, she didn't fight it. You can't keep fighting your instincts forever. That's doing too many things at once.
Emery concentrated and reached his thoughts out to Amy... then violently jerked his head sideways, wheezing and gasping. "I... can't," he whispered through a flurry of thoughts. "This is the most incredible."
"You're forgetting that I'm human!" Amy shouted over the eruption of shouts and demands in the crowd. Strangely, tuning out the rest of the world became easy and effortless to Sophie, like it was nothing but a simple skill like temperature regulation.
Everyone in the room paused, waiting to see how her sister would react. Sophie's heart fell, knowing that whatever Amy had to say next was probably nothing good.
"I'm human," Amy whispered, her voice running deep, "No matter what you try to make it seem like. Haven't you ever considered that it might be harder keeping this kind of secret than you can ever imagine? It's harder for me than it is for you!"
"Miss Foster," Emery tried. "Please—"
"NO!" Amy shrieked. "I won't let you silence me anymore. You think that this is only going to do damage for me? Maybe I couldn't keep your secret because you never gave me the option to stay here! You never gave me the option to stay here. Admit it."
Amy's face glowed with a new kind of beginning, a hot orange. "You gave me two choices: either let me return without any of my memories of your world or keep the secret forever. You never gave me the option to stay here," a tear treaked down her cheek as she shook her head, just once.
"And that required a tremendous amount of trust," Bronte reminded her. Sophie and Amy both growled at the same time.
"Tremendous. And yet you didn't consider that it took more for me to trust that I would be safe and normal again than it took for you to trust me. My fate was in your hands."
"And so I return back here again." Amy grinned as she walked out of the spotlight, swishing her arms in a bantering way as murmurs began to rise up.
No matter what the Council did, they couldn't silence the crowd of nobles.
This is a great story, and it's really well told. But why didn't the council just send a washer to get rid of Darius's memories and give Amy a warning. I get that its like a big deal, but why is she pleading her case if it's obvious that she just slipped up? What is she pleading her case for?
i'm so sorry for the confusion, i promise you that i have a reason for both of those and it's literally going to explode in my mouth right now xDDDDD thank you so much!! all i can say for the moment is that it involves the council, amy's true feelings, and darius not being what he seems like ;))
Sophie watched helplessly as Amy dissappeared into the crowd of elves, so easily that it was hard to think of her little sister as anything but an elf. For once, she was glad that Amy stood out so that no one would ever think that she would actually follow the rules.
Normal is overrated. The sentence itself seemed like it would be hard for an elf to grasp, but Sophie knew that some part of them did understand. She was an elf and a human, and both worlds deserved to be saved. They deserved to be preserved once they were saved, above all other things.
Emery cleared his throat, looking distant as he averted his glance to somewhere Sophie didn't quite catch. Knowing him, he was most likely telepathically conferring with the rest of the Council.
"Bring in the accused," he wheezed, still looking weak from the shock of a human elf being able to evade his Telepathy. Would Amy be able to do the same for Sophie when she breaks the laws of Telepathy to see if she could slip past her blocking? And if she did manage to, would it be a good thing or bad thing?
All those thoughts and theories vanished the moment Darius walked in, sulking. He seemed to be trying to take in everything he could, like he really believed he would never be here again... Sophie wasn't sure how to take it. Everything he did seemed to be able to mean a million things all at once.
"It's going to be okay," she and Alden mumbled together, neither really being able to acknowledge the other's prescence. Sophie guessed that it might be because Fitz was so naturally like Alden, but he kept tilting his head to the side in a way that seemed out of place somehow.
Sophie directed all her attention toward Darius and vowed to herself that she would try to learn as much about him as he could. Though the final verdict was the Council's, everyone here had some level of influence over the decision — especially since they were all part of the Nobility. Sophie needed to decide if she thought he was innocent or guilty, and there would be no in-betweens. She would have to be firm about this.
There was something about Darius that seemed so... real. He was so imperfect in a way that was perfect if he wanted to present himself as a normal elf — which he definitely would not be anytime soon, so Sophie didn't see why he was trying or if it was even intentional that he was trying to seem like part of the crowd.
It was impossible to see beyond his facial features that consisted of thin eyebrows that were barely noticeable, dark olive hair that made him seem hero-like, and hued blue eyes with a tiny inner circle that flared intensely with flaming colors, red and yellow and orange. Despite all the not particularly attention-grabbing features he had, especially among the elves (his blue eyes were common in the elvin world), Sophie found that it was far harder to focus on anything on his face but his pale skin. There was something that flickered on and off in him with every step he took that made the entire room suck in a collective breath at once.
"State your name." Emery didn't waste any time getting right down to it.
Darius seemed to be deciding between looking directly into Emery's sapphire eyes or up at the ceiling. "Darius Avery Endal."
IT'S TRUE! Sophie was sure that if she read everyone's mind in the room, she would hear the exact same thing from every single person.
But... she just felt cold iciness sweep over her that didn't really hurt anymore, and she had a weirdly strange thought that this could've been a normal day if she hadn't saved the world.
Emery's voice brought her back to reality — Sophie didn't know whether to be mad or grateful. She didn't know anything, and she wouldn't for a very, very long time. "And..." A quick glance over at Oralie, "How did you learn about us?"
Darius responded quickly to Councillor Emery's demand. "The same story as you've heard from Am— no, Nat— my accomplice, sir," he corrected, sounded apologetic.
"Please restate it from your perspective." A grunt came from where Councillor Bronte was sitting, and Oralie rushed to steady him. Bronte grunted at her in thanks.
"You have to understand," Darius rushed to explain, "You have to understand! I've always loved everything about adventure. It's not just part of being a teenager — when you read a book, you want to be there regardless the stakes. You start contributing to the book's Fandom... uh, yeah, use your intrepretation for that, I don't have time to... I HATED IT! I want to be here. Not here specifically, but I wanted to live in a different world, one with real adventure and somewhere I'm not supposed to know about..."
Emery's lips quirked up again in an expression that wasn't exactly a smirk or frown — somewhere in between. If Sophie had been in his place, the first thing she would've thought was And you don't think we're living up to that reputation, huh?
Darius was clever. Darius was manipulative. Here was the problem: he might be telling the truth. Truth often tended to be both clever and manipulative.
The entire room swarmed and started buzzing with commotion, as if this was just a normal day at work for them. Which, come to think of it — how would Sophie know? She didn't interact with many members of the Nobility who weren't part of the Black Swan. I wish I could change that.
But that would be benefitting her more than the people she would befriend — would that be okay with her? Not to mention that she wasn't exactly popular with the public right now...
"Silence," Emery held out his hands as if he was going to perform telekinesis. The room slowly grew silent as the last wisps of conversation faded. After that was settled, the Councillor turned back to Darius and gave a curt dip of the head. "Please continue."
Darius blinked, as if he was struggling to remember why he was here at all. "The day my accomplice mentioned the brain push..."
Sophie was so mad that she didn't even catch the rest of his sentence. Flames boiled in her stomach as she tried her best to extinguish them, but every part of her body had a different way of doing that. What was running through every inch of her, though, was nothing but pure despair.
How could Amy mean the world to Darius one second... and then suddenly just become his "accomplice" the next?
Sophie needed plenty of answers and the whole story, but she wasn't going to get that with the Council around despite their best attempts. She received a piece, the Councillors each received another, Alden and Della and everyone else in the room got smaller ones... the pieces would never fit together to form a glass window that could effectively shield them from whatever dangers were threatening their world.
When she slowly inched her way back to reality again, she caught Darius scratching his shoulder with a heated red hand while Emery glanced over his shoulder at Oralie. The lie detector. Despite her rocky past with Councillor-Not-Her-Mom, a sudden drop of relief trickled in as Sophie frowned gratefully at the ground, not surprised that Oralie would be the only person who was trying to make it up to her for the Council's actions.
Oralie nodded silently for one moment — then her eyebrows shot up and her eyes widened a second later. Her mouth opened a little as the rest of the Council tilted their heads toward her, waiting for what she had to say.
Meanwhile, the audience of "stuffy nobles" shifted uncomfortably in their seats, wondering what was wrong. No one would dare lie to the Council when their lives were on the line. Sophie watched in horror as her theory was proven wrong — no one except Darius, apparently, if that was even his real name.
Before she could catch Darius's reaction, Oralie's eyelids twitched as she squeezed her fingers into fists. Bronte was the first to gasp and waved his arms at Councillor Alina, who closed her eyes and rushed over to steady the pink-loving Councillor. Apparently he had more important matters to tend to than to help Oralie even when he was sitting right beside her, because the next second he shouted at Darius, "What did you do?!"
"I didn't do anything!" Darius responded defensively and almost protectively, looking over at Oralie with disbelief and pity. He turned to the crowd of Nobles furiously, like he couldn't believe this was happening — couldn't believe that he was being accused of hurting a Councillor.
"That's it!" Bronte slammed his feet down on the ground, looking more enraged than Sophie had ever seen him. Thank goodness only the Nobility was here. "Guards, BRING THE ACCUSED TO EXILE!"
NO! Amy's thoughts suddenly blasted through Sophie's head, screaming and wailing and panicking. Sophie felt a strong urge to blast the room to pieces as she stood there, stunned, not knowing what to do.
"NO!" She didn't need to guess who it was — Amy. She knew. Watching the dark-haired girl sprint toward Darius, Sophie instinctively bolted out of her seat and imagined grabbing Amy by the arm. Something intense crashed above her head as she sprinted, appearing next to her sister the next second and tackling her to the ground. Sophie didn't need to picture being next to her sister anymore — she was right there.
Well, on top of her, squeezing her sister's fingers shut as she screamed and thrashed for her life. "GET OFF ME, YOU—"
I'll save him, Sophie immediately transmitted, feeling her heart sink as she realized what she had just done. Amy's eyes closed as she crossed her arms, leaving one elbow facing toward Sophie in case she needed to attack.
I'll save him. But you have to make sure that you stay still, so it seems like I restrained you. STAY. STILL. Keep your eyes closed.
Amy clamped a hand over her mouth, hoping the day would be over soon. If there was any other thing that convinced Sophie she needed to help Amy, it was that they would never fit in again.
Nod once if you agree. Do nothing if you don't, Sophie decided to add, hoping to make it seem like Amy had a choice.
Amy rolled her head over and leaned her chin towards her neck, nodding ever so slightly. Sophie wrapped her arms around her sister, deciding what she was going to do next as she closed her eyes, hoping that people thought her sister had given up...
"Sisters don't lie." With one swift pull, Amy lifted herself up and her elbow collided with Sophie's cheek, sending her tumbling to the ground. Sophie gritted her teeth as the world blurred around her for one minute. Why am I still here?
To stop my sister. Sophie didn't mind the awful tug at her stomach when she stood up — but what shocked her the most was that Amy was already beside Darius, being dragged away and looking like death had punched him to a pulp.
"You liar." Darius spat. "Natalie Freeman, you're nothing but a liar."
And the only thing Sophie could do was watch as Darius leaned in and smirked in Amy's face.
HumansCanWinElves wrote: You realize that if all the questions won't be answered at the end of the story then the community is going to find where you live and drag you to Exile, yes?
Sure. But what was up with the councillor? That came outtta nowhere. I mean i get that it was just so they could get Amy to lie, but that part is a little fuzzy. I mean it's still rly good and the idea is solid and i like it so far.
i'm really sorry for all the questions you have (that sounds really weird... xD) but i kind of know where i'm going with this? to make this more clear to you (yes, there's a super huge reveal at the end LOL I'M SO SORRY), the councillors have a grand plan behind all this and oralie's adverse reaction is a part of it. for now, think of it as a mystery! ;))
thank you all so much for your comments, i love reading all of them <3
"W-what?" The words seemed to be coming from everyone's mind but slipped through Amy's mouth. Gaping and still, Amy seemed to be frozen for a moment before she glowered into Darius's eyes.
Darius spat again, this time on Amy's cheek. Sophie watched in pure horror as Amy wiped it away, not even bothering to look at Darius.
I knew he was evil.
"You know nothing," Darius smirked as the entire room went still. Sophie froze — could he hear her sister's thoughts? Was this why the Council had ordered him to Exile — because they somehow knew he was a Telepath?
Sophie braced for the "NO!" scream to bounce off the walls and Darius's dark olive hair, but instead it seemed to be sucked out of Amy's mind as the guards suddenly got a firm grip on Darius's arm and forced him forward. The boy who was once Amy's ally coughed and rolled over, his eyes burning with something freezing as he suddenly jerked his elbow backward and somehow managed to pull himself free.
But he didn't run — he just stood there.
Like any idiot.
Somehow, the thought of watching any former friend of Amy's being beaten to a pulp as he was gagged again by the guard that wasn't stunned was too painful for Sophie to bear. Before Darius had hurt her sister, he'd been her confident. Sophie couldn't just deny him that.
She just stood there, too, not even watching what was going to happen.
But I'm not stupid, she thought slowly as the floor seemed to rise beneath her feet, spinning and spinning and spinning until she fell off.
She couldn't hear Amy's thoughts anymore. Was it because she simply chose to ignore it? Humans could bear guilt so much better than the elves — maybe that was why, when they really tried, they could shield their minds from anyone who wanted in.
And if that's the case... where do I stand? Sophie thought. It wasn't bitter. It wasn't angry. It was nothing, really.
And then a scream came from Amy as Darius, looking groggy and clouded, suddenly snapped to his full attention and whistled a tune, successfully confusing his guards and forcing them to get a tighter grip on him as he gracefully twisted to the right, not letting go of their arms. The guards, surprised at the fact that their arms were suddenly being hoisted in the air, allowed Darius to slip by without a single second to spare as he suddenly dropped them and bolted to the stage with enhanced speed.
"You." His cruel, wicked smile suggested that he was talking to Sophie.
Before Sophie had a chance to attack, the entire crowd of nobles closed in on Darius. He somehow managed to dodge their attacks under the knowledge that they would never resort to complete ruthlessness, even if he'd showed so much of it himself.
Amy was pushing hard, too, the only person who made real attempts to harm Darius as she stabbed and punched at both the nobles and The Boy Who Betrayed Her. With a swift flick, Amy's eyes widened slightly when she realized that Darius could be performing a special ability...
And it ended up for nothing, because Darius punched her in the stomach and kneed her to the ground. She landed with a soft thud, far too graceful for it to be real as Amy stood back up to lunge forward at Darius. His head jerked back with surprise as he stumbed backwards, allowing a few elves of the Nobility to descend on him as Amy locked eyes with Sophie. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! HELP ME!"
She didn't know if her sister had said those words out loud or she was merely thinking them in her head, but one thing was clear: Her sister needed her.
Sophie didn't have time to think as she levitated horizontally toward Amy, so fast she saw the void blink in front of her for a moment and then landed right next to her sister. Amy looked nothing like the girl she knew — this was the grief-torn Amy, the raging Amy, the Amy on fire, and the Amy Sophie hoped was temporary. What was great was that the Nobility didn't rely as much on skills as ability, so she would be the valuable person here.
Amy cursed and, knowing that she had Sophie as a backup, clenched her hands into fists and gritted her teeth. Darius expected her to punch, so Amy ducked to confuse him and jerked her arm forward and down at a slight angle so her elbow would sink into his shoulder. Yelping, Darius clutched at his chest and heaved heavy breaths.
We're not done yet. The two sisters exchanged a grave look before Amy kicked at his knee.
The nobles had backed up — including Alden and Della, who Sophie could feel in the crowd at this moment. Suddenly, the thought occurred to her that they might actually be enjoying this. Two humans, forced to fight to the death in the arena known as Tribunal Hall — better if they both die, so we can get over this already and purge it from our minds.
That isn't true. Despite how Sophie had lost the ability to think rationally, she still knew that most of the elves would never resort to this kind of physical violence.
How many things have been erased from the elves' minds to create the illusion of 'peace'? She made air quotes inside her mind, feeling sick and leaving Amy to finish off Darius. The blue-eyed boy grunted and snorted blood. The exact definition of lies.
And... not everyone could forget. There were still some secrets out there, and some people had a piece of the secret they could work to piece together.
We never have to worry about the past in this world. The Council was right — she'd given them interesting perspective. It was up to them to take some kind of action now.
"Think you've won?" Darius said in a weak, dying voice. Dying.
"What do you mean?" Amy asked, sounding puzzled. "I mean, I'm not the person whose corpse is on the ground."
Sophie felt her stomach tighten.
Darius pressed his lips together. Whatever final plan he has, we'll be ready for it, Sophie transmitted to Amy. Her sister barely nodded once.
"I think you've forgotten something," he said, flashing his snarling teeth, "What you don't accept can turn into the best weapon of all time."
What does he mean? Amy's panicked thoughts came through Sophie's head like a blaring siren. Her sister had been scared — and she had to take it from here.
What you don't accept...
Darius had already exhausted that option... and he was in no condition to fight.
Something that causes ruthlessness.
The former leader of the Neverseen.
What did he have that made him so ruthless? Sophie knew the answer.
The dancing, white-hot flames on Marella's hand, a flashback, played, and Sophie knew the answer immediately — fire.
This is so good! when darius said "I think you've gorgotten something..." I litterally expected him to pull out a fake wand and start waving it around at her and then Amy to deadpan pull out her own fake wand.
Amy screamed as she lunged forward and her elbow connected with Darius's, making him flop and thrash around on the ground as he scratched at the dent on his skin, rolling over with a low groan.
"I don't want to have to do this to you." Even now, when only darkness clouded Amy, her eyes were dripping with tears and pure betrayal, small actions that made Sophie regret ever giving her the option of remembering the elvin world.
Darius rolled his eyes. "That's your flaw, Natalie."
"It's Amy," she corrected, glowering at him, "And how do you even know—"
"Traitors don't deserve to be called by their proper names," Darius spat dangerously close to his wound, making Sophie wince as the blood from his arm clotted together near his fingertips.
Do you know anything about traitors? Anything at all? Sophie wondered as Amy's voice — Amy's thoughts — pierced through her skull, forcing her to cover her ears tightly. I WILL KILL YOU RIGHT NOW, The Voice Coming From The Sky screamed, I WILL KILL YOU.
"Your mind is surprisingly weak for a human's, Natalie," Darius's voice whispered like a steel knife piercing into Sophie's shoulder, cold and icy and unforgiving, "And you thought you weren't one of them."