2.1: Returning The Favor

A couple of pigeons flee as Liamria conquers their perch, using the leafy branches to aid in the stalking of her target, their small frame clear through the perimeter onyx fence. On the opposite side of the fence is the western wing of the Four Hearts admin building, covered by two cameras cleverly positioned between the fence’s ornate spikes. Liamria reconstitutes her arms as liquid and manipulates two thin streams, one toward each camera. She disconnects both from power boxes bolted to the backs of the fence poles. She waits for the blinking red lights to cut out, then vaults the fence. She cuts through the door by creating a liquid saw out of moisture from the air. She slips inside the admin building, leaving the door ajar.

     Liamria skirts down the hallway quietly. She jumps back from the foyer when the front doors open. She flattens herself against the wall as a wooden cane pounds against the stairs, the sound fading above her. Liamria starts to follow when a door behind her opens. She prepares to strike when a sudden slam stops her and the person holding the door open in their tracks. Liamria watches the shadow of their feet reenter the room, the door slightly ajar. Liamria silently approaches the door, eager to eavesdrop.

     “I’m not mad, Marm. I’m anxious.”

     Liamria picks through the voices and determines the speaker is Professor Tameri.

     “Yes, yes. You and Jojen have made your arguments known. You know mine and why I still stand by it. I wouldn’t have ever considered the operation before. It bothers me now that I did.”

     For a time, all Liamria picks up are occasional grunts and sighs.

     “Dear, I trust you a lot. More than I thought I could trust anyone outside of Vanis Town. I need you to trust me the same. I told Aurum to watch out for himself and the others because Stark isn’t capable. And while I have no personal vendetta against Reddic, I have no foundation upon which to trust him.”

     Another stretch of silence, this one without any auditory protests from Tameri.

     “Yes, I trust Aurum.”

     One more stretch of silence.

     “I hope it’s enough.”

     Liamria stays and listens until the next silence is broken by the door slamming shut. Her interest in the professors fades, so she moves onto her true objective.

     Time to piss some people off!


     Neth retreats to the comforts of his office, glad to be free of his highly inquisitive additional security sent at Warden Crata’s and Stark’s recommendation. Even more than he hates that such measures are necessary, the fact that some of the more nocturnally active students saw them ushered in may have given them cause for concern. The headmaster takes his seat and leans back, exhausted.  Not from the tour, nor from sensing the anxiety of his students. His exhaustion has been building for years.

     The school’s reputation was in a steep decline ahead of his appointment as headmaster. He was hired on the condition he’d be able to turn things around for the academy, the history of Neth’s lineage the board of educations’ Hail Mary. It was unfortunate that Neth had turned his back on that history. Anarchy was not for him. He wanted to be a better role model for his grandson.

     Yet another of my failures. Neth sniggers darkly. Since the day I was appointed, the day Shuri’s parents died-feels like failure for me is inescapable.

     A year after his appointment, four of the five board of education members quit and withdrew all support, disappointed in Neth’s performance. Only Tameri chose to remain. The steel of that woman, even when she was barely an adult, astounded Neth. Part of the reason he’s okay with Shuri practicing Ohaida culture is because of his respect for her.

     I can’t believe I’m thinking this, but if his mother had survived, I’d worry constantly about what kind of Ohaida he’d become.

     Neth grips the bridge of his nose and sighs gustily. His wooden cane slips from his grasp. Neth huffs, reacting to the clattering of the cane against the floor before it comes. He hums and turns to the floor.

     The shaft of his cane arcs up and slaps Neth across the face. He coughs and groans as he attempts to leave his chair but is confined to it by a large liquid hand. Blood pours from his busted lip and cuts on his face. His vision blurs as the lights in his office seem to flare, his temples throbbing. Blood seeps into his swollen eye as it widens, his attacker smiling fiendishly at him from across his desk. He’s forced to watch Liamria through a dark red filter, making her red hair and liquid arms nearly invisible. Her creamy skin and azure eyes seem brighter under the filter.

     “And I was thinking that sneaking into your office would be tougher,” Liamria says. “Maybe you should’ve brought a couple of those new guards with you.”

     Neth fights his concussion with everything he’s got. “If you’ve been…watching things here so…carefully…then you know…that Stark isn’t here.”

     Liamria cocks her head to the side and scowls. “I’m aware.”

     “Then why…are you here?” Neth tries to adjust his position, but with Liamria’s firm grasp and his concussion worsening, he’s stuck at the mad woman’s mercy.

     No chance I can use my powers. If I can get her to make noise, then Tameri and Marmagar should hear it from the teacher’s lounge.

     “A fair question, I suppose,” Liamria says, the edge in her voice growing sharper. “When you and I first met last year, you had me pinned against a wall when you asked me a question. You released me so that I could oblige.”

     She shoves Neth- still bound to his chair- against the spherical window in the rear of his office. The window doesn’t shatter, but the façade cracks.

     “Right now, I’m going to ask you for a favor and then release you so you can fulfill it,” Liamria says as she rounds the desk.

     “What’s…the favor?” Neth looks into her eyes and sees a cold, iron will.

     “I want you to fly.”

     Liamria retracts her large liquid hand, letting the chair drop as she yanks Neth close. She sinks her foot between his ribs. Neth chokes explosively as her grip on his body loosens. His relief is short-lived as the window gives under the weight of his body. The glass shattering acts as his mind does, shattering to dust.


     Liamria’s twisted, pursed lips express a morbid joy as Neth plummets out of the air. Her lips twitch, on the precipice of laughter in anticipation of his aged body hitting the ground.

     Guess he can’t fly. Good.

     Neth’s descent nears its end when a large, brown-winged man swoops in from the east and snatches death away from the headmaster. Liamria curses. The last-minute savior whirls and his auburn eyes guide his war hammer toward the open window. The madwoman steps to the side and the hammer lodges into the office ceiling.

     “Fine,” she whispers. “I’ll just kill him the hard way.”

     The hair on the back of her neck rises suddenly as if she were the one falling through the air. She turns her head and tenses. Tameri, half of her body hidden inside Neth’s desk, downswings her spadroon. Liamria’s slow to activate her liquefication, so half the cut to her forehead spills blood, the latter half water.

     Liamria stretches her arms to the doors uses them to catapult herself into the foyer. She races down the steps in two leaps, aware of a lack of footfalls behind her. She pauses before the admin building exit and smirks.

     What a fool of a woman. Instead of pursuing a threat, she opts to check on the worthless first.

     Just as Liamria turns to leave, Tameri glides through the wall opposite like a phantom. The panicked madwoman barrels through the exit and tosses the broken door at the professor. It sails through Tameri as she closes the gap. Liamria’s liquid fists do the same, leaving Liamria defenseless when Tameri thrusts her spadroon at her shoulders, severing them at the joints.

     Liamria makes the error of relaxing, projecting her desire to taunt onto Tameri when she sees the professor’s cold eyes. Tameri stomps down on the madwoman’s stomach and tries to impale Liamria through her sternum. A hasty liquefication saves her life, but her clumsy attempt to flee- arm water racing to catch up- is no match for the stalwart professor’s celerity. Liamria can’t risk leading her back to the hideout, so she falls back on her favored tactic- emotional distraction.

     “Are you sure you should be following me? What if the old fool dies? How do you know I was acting alone? He could be dead by the time y–”

     Even with trees all around on the exterior of the campus, Tameri moves fast enough to sever Liamria’s watery legs, making the madwoman temporarily lame. Tameri’s next four strikes draw blood…while Liamria’s still using liquefication.

     There’s no way that’s possible! The madwoman screams internally, fearing for her life as if Reddic were her opponent.

     With surgical precision, Tameri slices beneath both of Liamria’s shoulders and just above the inside of her thighs. Her spadroon buzzes as it emits a cobalt light. The dark backdrop of the academy behind Tameri alarms Liamria.

     “You weren’t trying to kill me until now.”

     “I didn’t want any of the students seeing this. Your plague on the school is over. And your daughter’s next.”

     Tameri crouches and prepares to attack, so Liamria hurries and says, “Your trust wasn’t enough!”

     Tameri’s spadroon stops an inch from Liamria’s throat.

     “What did you just say?” All of the frigidity of Tameri’s expression melts in an instant.

     Liamria smirks broadly. “Your trust in Aurum wasn’t enough. He failed. As did Stark and Reddic. I’d just finished informing your headmaster when you arrived. The face he made to learn of his grandson’s death was almost as savory as yours is now.”

     Tameri shrieks and swings her spadroon, but Liamria’s disconnected limbs trip up the teary-eyed professor. The madwoman races away, turning back briefly to watch Tameri wallow on her hands and knees.

     Like I said, a fool of a woman.

     Liamria cackles madly as she retreats, hoping her laughter haunts Tameri through the coming nights.

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