Sunday, March 27, 2016

In That Moment of Suffering Chapter 33 – Feelings



 Sorry it's late. Here's Chapter 33.


Chapter 33 – Feelings

“Sis.” Mika calls out as Senna starts to train her body. Mika flies out of the tree she perched in and floats in front of Senna flapping her wings.

Senna extends her arm for Mika to land. “Yes?” As Mika lands, she turns and ardently stares at Senna’s body.

"Why are you all cut up?" Mika asks feeling anger boil up from the depths of her heart.

Senna smiles wryly completely forgetting how atrocious she looked to an outside party. "I lived with a cruel monster when I was weaker. He hurt me a lot for fun. My body is like this because of him. I was trapped with him for a long time, but I was able to run away. It’s not easy for me to erase these marks, so I have to keep them around until I get clean them up.."

“What?!” A searing heat bursts forth from Mika’s body. Senna’s eyes widen from the extreme reaction, but thankfully the heat has little effect on her body. However, the leather armor on her body bursts into flames from the overwhelming heat. The grass at Senna’s feet burns to ash from Mika’s presence. A nearby tree lasts a bit longer as the crown of the tree ignites into flames.

Senna jumps into the air forming a <Magic Platform> underneath her. “Stop. I know you’re angry…But it’s okay. It’s over already.” She presses her forehead against Mika’s trying to soothe her partner. As she’s talking calmly, Senna is quickly manipulating her magic to put out the flames on her clothes and around the area.

"But! We need to..." Mika protests.

"There is nothing you need to do right now. It happened a long time ago. I ran far away from him. He can’t see me, I can’t see him. I don’t want to worry about him and just want to live on happily." Senna puts on a soft smile.

Mika wants to believe Senna, but Senna’s emotions betray her. The lingering sadness and pain beneath her smile is transmitted to Mika. "Mmrgh..." Mika lets out a strange sound trying to stifle her anger. Senna hugs her tightly still trying to soothe Mika's anger. "Fine! I'll make sure you stay happy!"

"Good. I’ll be depending on you then." Senna laughs lightly. She ends the hug and looks over at a distant hill. “Oh. We have a visitor. Why don’t you show me how well you do in battle?”

“Eh?” Mika turns her head and sees a pack of wolves standing on the hilltop. “Okay!” Flames burst out with even more intensity as she prepares for battle.

“Do you need me to weaken some of them?” Senna asks with a tinge of worry.

“No!” Mika flies into the air and closes the distance. When Mika flies up, a pack of 7 wolves emerge from the hillside. They lock onto Senna in the distance and begin their pursuit, completely oblivious to the overhead Mika. Mika gives a loud cry as she makes the first move. “Burn!!!” Wisps of flames leak from her beak as she aims at the wolves.

Opening her beak, a stream of fire shoots down from the sky. The wolves instinctively stop as the flames descend upon them. Mika's attack gouges out the earth burning everything nearby. Adjusting her aim, her attack forms a large flaming circle trapping the wolves within. The fire intensifies burning in every direction creating an even greater ring of fire. The intense flames force the wolves to huddle close together to avoid burning to death. Senna steps in at this point and contains the flames outside the circle from damaging the land any further.

Mika directs her <Fire Breath> at the huddled wolves. Left with nowhere to go, the wolves can only whimper and watch as the flames descend upon them. The scent of burning fur and flesh rise into the air for a few scant moments, before dissipating as they also burn up with Mika's flames.

Mika flaps her wings floating in the air continuing to release flames for another 10 seconds before she's runs out of magical power. Exhausted, she flies down landing on Senna's shoulder. "How was that?"

Senna stares at the contained conflagration with a strained smile. The corner of her mouth twitches as she tries to maintain her smile. A gust of wind passes by feeding the flames even further. The center of the flames condenses inwards for a brief moment before exploding upwards throwing flames high into the air. She gives a dejected sigh discarding the forced smile. Senna swings her hand pulling the flames her way.

As the flames head in their direction, Mika opens her mouth and redirects the flames towards her instead. The flames plunge down Mika’s throat as she devours it. Her magical power jumps as the flames help quickly restore her used magic. Her previously empty magical power refills up to two-thirds capacity under Senna's watchful gaze. Mika gives a small burp after eating her flames.

"I didn't know you could do that." Senna comments suppressing the shock in her voice.

"Because I really like Fire." Mika replies happily.

"You have [Water Magic] too. Does that mean you can do the same with water?" Senna tilts her head asking.

"........Uhh..." A sense of discomfort passes through to Senna as Mika averts her gaze. "Well it doesn't hurt me."

"Mmm...So magic recovery through that method is still out of reach." Senna nods.

"Uuu..." Mika twitches at the comment.

"Well it's okay. We can think of how to do that later. But first." Senna changes the topic as she approaches the burnt land. She crouches at the center of the circle where the wolf corpses lie. The corpses have been burnt beneath recognition and resemble a small black hill rather than a mass of bodies. Poking one of the bodies, the shape disintegrates as it explodes into a cloud of ash. "As expected, everything is burnt beyond recognition."

"Isn't it great?" Mika puffs her chest.

"Well... Let me ask you this. Since you ate the fire just now, does that mean you don't need to eat meat or any other kind of food?"

"No, I still need food. I don't want to go hungry." Mika retorts.

"Then can you eat this?" Senna points to the blackened mass.

"No, how you can't eat that?" Mika replies immediately.

Senna resists the urge to hold her head. “Mikaa… How do you expect to hunt food for yourself if you destroy them like this?”

“……………….…I don’t know…..” Mika dejectedly lowers her head.

“Hahhhhh…”Senna lets out a large sigh. “Well there is another target coming. I’ll fight this time and show you how it should be done.” Senna motions to a grove of trees. The bush nearby rustle as a large brown bear emerges from within. Standing on all four legs, its back reaches 6 meters in height from the ground. Senna grabs two pebbles and flicks them directly at the bear.

Unfortunately, Senna only practiced strength adjustment with an emphasis on avoiding self-injury. How that translated into damage on an actual enemy did not cross her mind until now due to recent events. Both pebbles fly through the air creating a small sonic boom. As they fly the air resistance beats against the pebbles turning them into miniature red comets. These red streaks of light fly and pierce into the bear’s eyes before it can let out a proper growl.  The pebbles burn through the skull without losing their momentum. Senna’s jaw drops seeing the bear’s bottom implode because of her attack. Blood and organs burst out as the pebbles exit its body. The ground is quickly stained in blood as the bear collapses from the instantaneous death.

The pebbles strike a tree behind the bear causing a clear *crack*. With a small explosion, the tree trunk bursts as the pebbles pass through the other side. Splinters of wood fly in every direction and the upper half of the tree is pulled down due to gravity Losing some momentum, the pebbles divert downwards piercing into the ground. They bury themselves into the ground as a small crater forms from the point of impact. As the quake ends, the sound of destruction begins to fade returning the area to semi-normalcy.

Senna facepalms looking at the destruction. {So I’m not much better in terms of destructive force. Ugh. What did I do to be in such a ridiculous situation?} Senna sighs as she walks over to the bear corpse. She examines the remaining parts of the bear. “Well it’s usable to some level. Though I’m embarrassed I messed up so badly.”

“Isn’t it still good?” Mika asks.

“Not with that much damage.” Senna points to the heavily spilt blood and fallen trees. “Hahh……Well…I can worry about the damages later. First, I should deal with the remains.” Senna uses her [Blood Manipulation] to extract and store the excess blood. She proceeds to skin the bear and dismantle the meat. Senna presents one piece of meat to Mika.

“You want me to eat it?” Mika questions.

“No.” Senna shakes her head. “Minus my accident, I still had the skin of the bear and some meat left over. I can prepare the skin and use it to keep warm……which probably doesn’t mean much to you. But the meat is still in a good enough condition that I can eat it when I get hungry. In the future, it will be better if you can kill your prey while leaving the body alone at least to this level. Your way is okay to kill something really dangerous, but there’s nothing usable for food or other uses. How did you eat in the past?”

Mika hangs her head feeling depressed. “Mom caught stuff and fed me. When she died, I just ate bugs in the cave.”

“I see…” Senna nods solemnly.

“Are you mad?” Mika peeks at Senna’s face.

“Mad? No, no. I was just curious.” Senna quickly shakes her head. “Anyways, this is mostly for when you’re strong enough to hunt them without worry. If it gets dangerous, I don’t care how you fight as long as you stay safe. We have lots of time to practice when you get stronger.” Senna tries to awkwardly console Mika.

“Mmmn…” Mika mutters feeling vexed at how useless she is. She had been taught that a phoenix should be regal and prestigious, but feels completely useless in front of Senna. Looking again at the meat in Senna’s hand, Mika brings up a question. “…I don’t think I can cut up prey like that?”

“Huh? Ahh. I don’t expect you to do that. That’s my job. I would be cruel to ask you do that since you don’t have hands. I’m only asking you to kill your prey in the fastest way possible without damaging the entire body.” Senna comments.

“Sounds hard.” Mika answers hanging her head.

“It’s something to practice. We can practice your magic and see how what you can use.” Senna energetically replies.

“Okay!” Mika tries answering energetically too. Senna chuckles hearing her reply.

Senna decides to make camp when the sun sets. She carefully uses <Earth Magic> to flatten the ground. A simple stone hut with a flat roof forms. She takes a quick glance inside and patches the inner walls with clay to seal any holes. “Good.” She nods happily.

A fireplace forms with a circular rock wall surrounding it. Senna tosses some firewood into the center and lights it. She spreads a powder meant to repel snakes and insects around the campsite. “Now for dinner. Mika, I’m going to make food. Why don’t you rest up there? I’m going to be moving around a lot and you’ll be more comfortable.”

Mika hangs her head, but doesn’t refute that she’s been a burden for Senna. Senna immediately starts cooking using the bear meat she obtained earlier today. Mika speaks up when a frying pan suddenly appears in Senna’s hands. “Sis, where did all that stuff come from?”

“Hmm? Ahh.” Senna murmurs as she continues to move her hands. “It’s one of my abilities. I can carry lots of stuff and take it out whenever I want.” She cuts up the bear meat and starts grilling it.

“Like the books you took?” Mika asks innocently.

Senna pauses slightly, but continues to move her hands. “Yes. I’m still carrying that. When I come back to that place, I’ll return their stuff.” She replies feeling a bit of guilt for her greed. She makes a mental reminder to return the books in the future when she has time to go to the Chaos Continent again. She finishes preparing the herbs and throws them into a pot making an impromptu herbal soup.

“Mika.” Senna calls out transferring two plates of the meat to a plate.

Mika flies down and lands on Senna’s shoulder. “Yes?”

“This one has herbs mixed in and the other has nothing. Which one do you like better? Also, I lightly cooked it. Do you want me to cook it more?” Senna holds up the plates to Mika.

Mika pecks both of them taking a bite of each. “Too cold! Cook it more!” She cries out spitting out the meat. Senna gives a wry smile as she throws the rare steaks back onto the pan cooking them further. She presents the medium cooked steaks, but Mika rejects it again for the same reason. Cooking the meat again until it’s well done, Mika finally eats both pieces.

“Okay. Did you prefer either one?” Senna asks again.

“This one.” Mika points to one of the plates with some herbs still sticking to the plate.

“The seasoned one? Okay. That’s good to know. I don’t need to make separate preparations then.” Senna begins making a portion for herself and another piece for Mika. Mika flies back up to the branch to stay out of the way.

“Hey Sis.” Mika speaks up.

“Hmm?” Senna mutters watching the meat cook.

“How do I get stronger?” Mika asks.

“Mmm… Experience I guess? And hard work. You just need to take your time and learn what you can and work hard trying to get better. I think you’re rushing too much though. You’re still young. There’s lots of time to learn what you can.” Senna answers.

“Muu…I don’t want to wait.” Mika answers with some irritation.

“Learning stuff to survive is fine, but I want you to stay happy instead.” Senna wryly smiles. “Anyways, that’s enough talk for now. Food’s ready!” Senna places the bear steak on a piece of bread. Another piece of bread lies on the side for an impromptu sandwich. Senna makes her own sandwich and pours a bowl of soup for herself.

As Mika flies down, Senna creates a perch and a raised platform to hold the food using <Earth Magic>. Mika starts pecking at the meat and bread ripping through it. She doesn’t say anything, but the joy of eating the food flow into Senna’s mind. Senna breaks into a bashful smile feeling Mika’s delight.

“Sis?” Mika calls out breaking Senna from her thoughts.

“Yes?” Senna sees Mika staring at her.

“What’s that in your hand? Can I have some?” Mika looks at the bowl in Senna’s hand.

“This?” Senna hesitates wondering if vegetables are edible for Mika, but ultimately decides to give it a shot. “If you want to, then sure. It is water flavored with plants though. A bit bitter compared to what you just ate.” Senna pours Mika a bit of the herb soup and places it on the platform.

Mika drinks a bit, but immediately spits it out. Shaking her head, she looks at Senna a bit resentfully. “Ewww. Yucky. Sis, how can eat that?”

Senna bursts out laughing. “Plants taste like that normally. Don’t drink it if you don’t like it. I have to eat it to balance my food.”

“Then I’ll eat it too!” Mika claims forcefully drinking soup. She cringes as she forces herself to swallow the soup. Tears form in the corner of her eyes.

Senna giggles slightly taking the bowl from Mika. She adds some crushed berries to sweeten the soup. “Here. It should taste better now.”

“…Thank you.” Mika hangs her head at the special treatment.

Senna smiles as she continues to eat. {It looks like there are no unpleasant surprises with the local food’s taste. I can hold onto the stocked up dishes in my [Storage] for now and see how it goes. It would be really bad if we get trapped somewhere with no food. I just hope that we can safely make it to the town. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like that demon is following us. He would have appeared already if he really wanted to chase us… Why do I have the worst luck in attracting such powerful figures?} Senna heaves a sigh as she pours herself another bowl of soup.

The two continue to eat until their satisfied. Mika leans back satisfied as Senna starts to clean up the dishes. “Sis, where are we going to go?”

“A human city, a few days that way.” Senna points to the city in the west that she briefly saw. We could go faster, but it’s better to take the time to get stronger when there are no people around.” Senna replies putting away the pots and pans. Finished with the cleaning, she decides to take a long awaited bath. She stands up stretching lightly before invoking her <Earth Magic> again. A three meter wide, one and a half meter deep hole forms next to their campsite. The side and bottom of hole is formed from compacted soil. A stream of hot water suddenly pours into the hole filling it to the brim.

Senna happily put away her clothing making another waterfall of hot water pour directly on top of her. She quickly scrubs her hair and body before jumping into the bath. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh………” Senna leans back letting her body unwind. Senna looks at Mika staring at her from the earthen perch. “Mika, do you want to jump in? I’ll give you a good scrub?”

No thank you.” Mika replies flying up to a nearby tree. "I'll watch for monsters."

"If you say so. I'm using my magic to watch for anything, but tell me if I miss something." Senna replies. She can sense some discomfort from Mika with the word ‘bath’, so Senna decides to hold off on pressing Mika to clean herself. With Mika's rejection, she decides to change the bath into a medicinal bath. She crushes a few herbs and uses <Water Magic> to mix it making the water turn a dark green color. She dunks her head into the water soaking her entire body. She stays under for about two minutes before surfacing allowing the herbal water to seep into her skin.

Senna continues to bathe for another half hour enjoying the soothing heat. The focus on the demon issue left her unable to clean her body for several weeks. She knows it isn’t wise to let her guard down in the wilderness like this, but the desire to be clean exceeded any worries about a possible attack. Plus she worries that this might be her last chance to relax before she is pulled into another life threatening event.

Finishing with the bath, she cleans off the residual herbal water clinging to her body. Senna notices Mika staring intensely at her scars, but decides to avoid pressing it and making Mika agitated again. Senna breaks down the walls of the bath letting the water drain out into the surrounding soil. Soil falls into the hole as she seals the hole returning the ground to its original state.

They decide to sleep after such a long day. Mika insists on handling the first watch to let Senna rest after a taxing day. Senna tries to refute, but caves against Mika’s pleading. She crawls into the stone hut and carefully casts [Scan]. She spends an entire hour maintaining the spell searching for any possible threats that can harm Mika. Finding nothing, she reluctantly decides to sleep.

Mika seriously perches atop the tree watching for anything approaching. Time passes by as she keeps watch. “Boring…” When she starts to feel sleepy, her eyes suddenly snap open. A feeling of distress from Senna enters her mind. {Sis?} Mika flies down to the stone hut as the distress from Senna increases. She stops at the entrance remembering what Senna told her.

“Make sure to keep your distance from me when I’m asleep. I don’t want to accidentally hurt you if I move around in my sleep.” Senna warned before going to bed.

Mika hesitates, but flies inside when she senses Senna become increasingly more distressed. Mika finds Senna tossing and turning from a nightmare. She sleeps on the ground with a thin sheet separating her body from the floor. Beads of sweat form as she suffers from her inner thoughts. Senna lets out a low whimper as she shifts her body again.

{Sis?} Mika probes Senna for a response. Senna flinches from Mika’s question, but remains unresponsive in her unconscious state. Mika asks again and notices Senna’s pained expression lightening for a brief moment. Mika hops over near Senna, but still maintains some distance to follow Senna’s wishes. {Sis, are you okay?}

Senna’s expression softens as her body turns to face Mika. Mika catches the glimpse of a smile on Senna’s face and decides to keep going. {Sis, I’m here. It’s okay.} Senna’s body starts to relax hearing Mika’s transmitted thoughts. Mika continues to send supportive thoughts for the next hour. In response, Senna’s tension continues to fade until she’s soundly asleep. Feeling equally exhausted, Mika notices a wooden perch in the corner of the room. She flies up and makes herself comfortable as she falls into the throes of the unconscious.

The next morning, Mika wakes up to find Senna already awake with breakfast prepared and waiting. “Morning Mika.” Senna brightly smiles seeing her feathered partner.

“Good morning Sis.” Mika shakes her head to wake herself up. She suddenly remembers last night and hangs her head. “Sorry, I feel asleep.”

“It’s fine~ Don’t worry about it.” Senna chuckles as she feels Mika’s self-loathing. “I feel asleep too. I should be thanking you for getting me through my nightmare.”

Mika freezes up hearing Senna’s praise. “Eh? You were awake?”

“No, of course not. But I vaguely felt you helping me. And… I don’t remember ever having as peaceful a sleep as I did last night. So I can only guess it was because you helped me that I could sleep so well.” Sleeping has never been a true issue, but having a peaceful rest is a completely different story. Innate memories of various punishments always pass through her unconscious mind disturbing her sleep. In her experience, waking up feeling the fresh throbbing of several old scars is a completely normal occurrence to Senna. “Come here.” She spreads her arms out. Mika flies forward unsure of what Senna wants. As Mika approaches, Senna grabs Mika hugging her tightly. “Thank you…” Senna softly mutters.

Mika looks up and sees Senna on the verge of tears. Mika becomes incredibly joyful when she realizes she can be useful to Senna. “Mmn.” She suppresses a tear as she snuggles up to Senna enjoying the warmth of her body. The feeling of connection strengthens between the two of them as they mentally promise to protect one another.


Author's Note
Finally got this chapter to an acceptable level. I'm tired. My mood kept dipping whenever I looked at the heavy rewriting I needed to do for this chapter, so I kept procrastinating. I'm sorry it took so long.

I'm still going to need more time since the next chapter is in a similar state of heavy rewrites. I really hate that I wrote such crappy stuff since that means I have to do heavy editing which I hate. The end of business quarter is this week at work, so I'm rushing to get various things completed. A coworker had a family emergency and has been out for a few days, so I'm doing catch up with various things to fill in for the gap.

I wrote this chapter to show Mika's concerns about being useful, and how she can emotionally support Senna at night. I threw in a dash of Senna being the overprotective big sister too.

On a random note, I learned I should absolutely fill out surveys that come in the mail that's related to my doctor. Got a phone call from my medical group to do the survey because I ignored the written version. So I got stuck on the phone for 10 minutes as they read each question and choice to me. :P

That's all. I'm off to play games and de-stress.

Edit: I couldn't think of a good chapter title today since I do it right before posting. If you have a better suggestion, please feel free to throw it out there.

8 comments:

  1. Great chapter can't wait for the next one. With how the story plays out this chapter I really like the title you have. Keep up the good work

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  2. Late enough I couldn't comment til today, but it was sufficiently feels-full, so I think you did a good job all the same.

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    1. Thanks for reading! Glad to hear you liked it.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I was going to respond about your question, did you get in now?

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    2. Yeah it kind of solved itself. This was the only spot I could think to ask about raisingthedead.ninja, for some reason it wouldn't work and was all in spanish but it started working a few hours later. Lol

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    3. Cool. I've ran into connection issues with their site. But never seen it appear in Spanish.

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