Fan fiction:The Mage Academy of Gea Kul/Chapter Eleven
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The one survivor, Kara, regained consciousness two days after the events, and her testimony answered many questions. Nothing the girl told me was surprising, and that was the worst part. Listening to her, I first felt the terrible sinking sensation that still fills the pit of my stomach, nearly half a year later. As Kara spoke, her words weak, her head heavily bandaged, I saw clearly how I'd failed the Academy, failed Zia, and for the first time, realized that all of this could have been avoided.
Kara was not a chatty woman, and her tale was told quickly. Zia had looked exhausted for weeks, and had been sleeping poorly. Nightly, Kara said, she woke to the sound of sobs coming from Zia's bed. Yet every morning when Kara woke, Zia was already up, pouring over dusty manuscripts by candlelight, or holding old books or vellum scrolls up to the window, straining her eyes to make out the faded symbols in the morning light.
On that fateful night, Zia had come in late, and when she saw that Kara had papers spread all across the floor of their room, she'd backed out and collapsed in the armchair in the common room of their dormitory. When telling her tale, Kara expressed few emotions, but the guilt she felt over this was plain to see. She knew that if she hadn't been collating her notes, and hadn't taken the whole floor of their room to spread them across, Zia would have fallen asleep in her own bed and none of this would have happened. I could say little to comfort her, for she was correct, though I thought Zia would still have erupted at some point, as much stress as she was under.
That night, her last in the Academy, Zia had done as I'd seen in my own office; she'd dozed off as soon as she was sitting down, utterly drained by her demanding schedule. Unlike the naps she'd snatched in my office, this one was not undisturbed. This one was in the public room in the fifth rank dormitory, and as Kara told it, by the time the whispering voices and giggling of the male students finally drew her attention, she saw six of eight of the men crowded around Zia's chair. They were gazing down upon her, but with less reserve than I'd shown in similar situations, and Kara said several of them were daring to stroke her hair, or leaning down to gaze at her face from just inches away.
"Go ahead then, Rogers. You claim to have touched them with her permission. Take a squeeze now!"
So Kara reported hearing, and she blushed as she said it. Blushed for the words, and for her inaction. Maester Shien, sitting beside me while I took Kara's report, cut through the nonsense as efficiently as ever. "You thought Zia was a tease and a slut, and that she deserved it."
Kara cast her eyes down, only able to nod. She did not shed a tear though, and quickly resumed the story. A few minutes passed, as the boys dared each other and grew louder and bolder while the exhausted girl slept on. Kara said that she was just about to intervene, that it had gone on long enough, when Zia finally woke. I doubted that; I didn't think Kara would have intervened to stop anything short of rape, but I let her tell the story without interruption.
"Zia leapt up, or tried to. Rogers and another man, Pallow I think, were kneeling in front of her, and they'd worked her robe up far enough to show the brand on her thigh. One of them was kissing it. I think. Zia tried to kick them, tried to get up, but she was so tiny that she couldn't even push them away. Other guys were behind her, and one of them squeezed her breast, laughing."
"'Don't touch me!' she shouted. Her voice was high and cracked, and I realized she was panicking. She'd probably been dreaming, and to wake up with all those guys on top of her..." Kara trailed off, then resumed a moment later.
"I felt the heat first. And then there was a smell, and a splatting sound, like a dropped tomato. It looked like that too, a splash of red across the room. Like someone had thrown a bucket of paint. One of the guys shouted something, not even a word, and I heard someone vomiting. He hacked when he did it, like a dog.
"Zia screamed again, 'Get away from me!' she said, and I felt a flash of heat, and heard more dropped tomato sounds. She blew them up. With her hands; she touched them and they burst from within. I think she put some kind of fire inside of them, and it cooked them from the inside, splitting them open like a pig over a fire, if you don't gut it and slice it open."
I tried to imagine what sort of magery that was, but could not. Leave it to Zia to use something new and unique, even in her moment of greatest distress.
Kara continued her tale, her voice as flat and without inflection has it had been throughout. "The other guys came running out of their rooms at the noise, and Zia cut them down as soon as she saw them. She used fire, mostly, hurling them back into their rooms. That's when the explosions started; she cast something that blew up their rooms. The doors slammed shut, then a second later something detonated inside each room and the doors were blasted open. Furniture, books and clothing came flying out each time, along with the broken bodies. I was screaming by that time, screaming and kneeling in the doorway. I never even thought about finding my wand, or trying to stop Zia. Trying to cast a spell on her. What could I have done? Nothing I know how to cast would have hurt her."
I let Shien finish the interview, sitting back in the chair and looking off into space. Zia had not attacked Kara, or she'd have been dead too. Her injury had come from falling debris, when one of the blasts had knocked down a wall. Kara's last memory was of being knocked back into her room, across her scattered notes, while bricks rained down from above. But she'd lived; lived to tell the tale. The only other survivor was Zia, and she was gone, vanished to any of a hundred sea ports on the Inner Seas.
She'd left nothing of herself behind, and besides the lives of those men, she'd destroyed my school, my guild, my Academy. All were ruined.... as was I.
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