Mind Breaker – Graveyard
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Dominick heard the sound of the beads. He heard the soft footfalls of bare feet on the hard packed earth. The footsteps drew nearer. He lay still, kept on pretending he was asleep, while he scanned the area for minds—he felt one. He locked on to it and unleashed a Mind Barrage. A woman screamed and a bowl crashed to the ground.
Dominick leapt to his feet. He saw the woman with the tattooed cheeks, Naru she called herself, writhing on the floor. The woman looked at Dominick, her head cradled in her hands.
“Pl—please,” she begged, “stop! Please!”
The Mind Breaker pressed on Naru’s mind even harder. The screaming became louder. Dominick hadn’t noticed one of the hands of Naru dropping to her side, he didn’t notice the air being sucked in the center of her palms, and Dominick hadn’t noticed the girl’s attack until it him cross in the chest. Dominick flew back, hitting the wall, and dropping to the bed.
Dominick coughed. It felt like being hit with a warhammer. The Mind Breaker got to his feet but his knees buckled and down he went again. He saw Naru in front of him panting and trying to get stand.
Dominick tried locking on Naru’s mind again. Naru opened both hands. The Mind Breaker saw the air gathering in the girl’s hands.
“I’m not an enemy,” said Naru.
Dominick watched the girl, his Mind Barrage ready to be fired. “An Aeromancer?”
Naru nodded. “I’m not your enemy. Stand down.”
“Says the one who drugged me,” retorted Dominick.
Naru gave a smile. Dominick saw her face sweating mixed with a slight trace of pain. She hadn’t fully recovered yet from the Barrage earlier.
“I had to. That soup was an antidote. You were poisoned,” Naru said.
“By the mist,” she answered. “The mist of nightmares is what we call it.”
Dominick remembered the experience he had at the clearing. He remembered the children with the daggers emerging from the white mist. He remembered running.
“I had to make you drink that soup. Death was the alternative,” Naru said.
“Why didn’t you tell me that instead?”
“One of the many undesirable effects of being poisoned by the mist is paranoia. You were not yet fully recovered. I doubt you would drink it even if I told you the truth.”
Dominick had no answer. He remembered the great fear he felt as he fought against the children. Dominick relaxed. Naru released the air in her hands.
“Where am I?” Dom asked.
“In the village of Khufaru,” replied Naru. “The only village within the Haunted Forest.”
“I didn’t know one existed,” Dom said.
Naru smiled. She took hold of Dom’s hand and pulled him to his feet. The girl led the Mind Breaker out of the room and out of the small dome shaped house.
Khufaru was small—made up of only twenty houses. All of them looked the same. The people had hair the same as Naru and they were all wearing copper jewelry around their arms and wrists. On their faces, different tattoos were present—Dom saw one had two suns painted on both cheeks, while the other hand had teardrops. The houses were formed into a ring and at the center of the village stood a massive red colored tree. It was as wide as five men standing abreast and higher than any castle tower Dom had seen. Its branches spread out wide, covering Khufaru underneath its shade.
“This—this is amazing,” said the Mind Breaker.
Dom hadn’t notice it before but he saw that Naru had a wild beauty in her. The girl’s eyes went back to Dom and the Mind Breaker awkwardly looked away.
“What are you doing in the forest?” She asked.
“We’re headed to the graveyard of dragons,” Dom answered. That was when he realized his companions were not with him. “Wait. Was I alone when you found me?” The Mind Breaker asked.
“Yes. I found you curled up underneath the roots of a tree. You were talking in your sleep.”
“I was with a knight and a wolf.”
“If they were caught up in the mist then there’s a good chance they’re probably dead. You were the only one I saw.”
Dead. Dominick somehow felt guilty for abandoning his two companions.
“I have to go back,” Dom said, “I have to find them.”
Naru laughed. “Khufaru is the only village within the forest. If they’re not here, they’re probably already dead. You will find them, yes, as corpses.”
Naru smiled at her and shook his head. “I’ve cheated Death, what’s stopping them from doing the same?”