"And what is your deepest fear?" I stared at the soul reader, in to the blank souless eyes that searched my face as though he could see in to my very heart. I stared back.
"My deepest fear? You cannot tell?"
"Why would you think I could?"
"I know what you are."
"Then you already know the answer. You are scared of someone being able to hold you down, being able to do what they want with you."
"You may go through."
I passed through the tent and headed out. The city's ruins were beautiful, but strangley sad. The walls seemed to cry out, weeping of sorrows from the past. I pushed on. I saw a figure to my left and started, but it was just a hunter. I took a deep breath, then another. My eyes watered, and I smelled a strange scent. My vision blurred and then returned, leaving an ache in my head that caused me to stumble against a building for support.
When the ache had passed, I continued on my journey. It was as I slipped through the long ruined streets that I saw a figure ahead of me. As I approached, the form became more visible, and I gasped.
Ahead of me, teeth decaying, eyes shining and lips curled back in an aweful grin... was the man who had attacked me all those years ago. Some part of me wanted to run screaming in the opposite direction, but the woman I had become stood firm. This is what I had trained so hard for. A chance to prove I could not be taken advantage of. But he would be an old man now... although he didn't look it. He leered at me, and then advanced forward.
I stood bold, but as he reached towards me, something snapped and I was that little girl again. Quickly I grabbed at his outstretched arm, forcing it behind his back and making him yell out. Then, as I softened my grip, he spun and held me tight from behind, leering and breathing raspily over my shoulder.
"Hello little girl..." A voice from the past. My eyes watered.
"Come here, let's see what's under that pretty dress." His hand reached down, but I was there first. I elbowed him in the ribs, slipped out of his grip and kicked him squarely in the shins. He leapt at me, yelling, and I grabbed at his throat, unable to reach my weapons. He spat at me, all the time reaching for my body...to touch...
I yelled in pain as his fingers reached my arm, bruising it with sheer force. He threw me to the floor, climbing on top of me. His eyes gleamed as he watched my fruitless struggles.
"Well well well... would you look at this. Am I scary little girl? Are you afraid?"
I threw back my head and screamed. I would not let this happen. My knee collided with his crotch and I reversed our situations, standing over him as he lay on the floor.
"I... am not...a little...girl!!" I flicked my whip, slicing through his leg and making him yell.
And in that split second, as I triumphed at the defeat of my fear, the man changed form. In front of me one minute was the man I loathed, and the next Aldrest was there and his swords were drawn. He was ready to kill me.
“I won’t let you succeed,” he said, and then lunged for me. I tipped back, dodging him and slapping his face.
"Aldrest! It's me, Shizuma!" He let out a roar and charged at me, swords drawn.
So this was it. The challenge. I was working it out, as Aldrest and I battled. Our worst fears faced us, and when we had overcome them, we would see again. But then what was Aldrest seeing...? His passion was obvious, but there was that hint of fear...In that moment I lost concentration, and Aldrest was on top of me.
"And now you die."
"Aldrest...please. It's me. It's Shizuma."