To Read Chapter One, click here.
To Read Chapter Two, click here.
To Read Chapter Three, click here.
Petrova had dreamt many times of what the gods’ worlds looked like. She wondered many times which god she would be sent to upon her death. Her last fight was with the fire elements but she hoped she wouldn’t be sent to the Land of Fire and Death. All around her now there was darkness. Perhaps this was her after life. She waited for someone to come along and show her where to go, but no one came. Perhaps she was doomed to sit in total darkness, unable to move. She had always assumed that in death there would be no pain, but her entire body ached. Her eyes burned especially fierce. Was there a way out of this existence?
And then she heard a voice. It was a faint voice; barely audible. She could not make out what it was saying. As it drew nearer she could hear the soft puff of the sound of the letter “P”. The voice became clearer and clearer until she understood it was saying her name.
“Petrova, Petrova,” it said. And she realized she could feel someone touching her arm.
“I am here,” she said through her cracked lips. Still unable to see she asked, “have you come to take me home?”
She heard a second voice, one that was hushed and whispering.
“Are you here to take me to the gods?” Petrova asked and she heard them both giggle.
“Petrova, you are not dead,” the male voice said to her.
“Of course I am dead. What god are you?” She asked him.
“Petrova, dear, my name is Argus. I am a healer. You are not dead, you are only blinded. You were not hit with the full force of a Light Ball. You were hit by remnants of Light Ball Minis. If you had kept your head down, you might not even have the injury you have,” he explained.
“Nonsense, there are no such weapons…Light Ball Minis. Do not try to trick me, you demon,” she said to him through gritted teeth. She began to wonder if she was going to have to fight in this life, too. Already she was being taunted.
“Fine, you do not believe me. I believe in your weapon belt you have Fulmeric tonic,” he said, grabbing up her tiny yellow orb from the belt. She could feel him rip it from its hold.
She listened as she heard what sounded like his finger penetrating the gum-like exterior of the orb. She felt his hand grip the sides of her cheeks and pressure them to open her mouth. She did not try to get away, but allowed him to let the inner juice of the orb flow onto her tongue. Although she could feel the smoothness of the gel, she could not smell anything. She did not know what smell to look for because only those in death would be able to smell the tonic. Perhaps that was all hearsay. Perhaps it was all lies because she did not smell anything.
“See? You cannot smell it, now can you?” He said to her.
Petrova lay in silence. She began to recognize that she was able to move her limbs freely, even though she could not see them. She had always imagined that in blindness, one would still be able to discern changes in light, but there was nothing but black darkness all around her.
“I’m afraid that the Light Ball Minis did leave you blind. Even though they were merely remnants of a Light Ball, they still hold great power. You’ll likely never see again,” he told her.
Petrova lifted her hand slowly to touch her face. But the man brushed her hand aside, telling her not to touch it because it would likely become infected.
“You said likely, so it’s likely that I might see again too, right?”
She couldn’t see it, but Argus lowered his head and shook it no.
“I’m sorry, Petrova, but I seriously doubt it. You’ll want to register as disabled so you don’t need to be in the Arena Games anymore. I’ll call upon the board tomorrow morning. It is late right now and you need to rest.”
“No,” she blurted. “No, don’t call on the board. I’m sure my sight will come back soon. You’ll see. It’s only temporary.” Petrova could not accept full blindness forever. She thought that if she willed herself hard enough her sight would return. She knew it was unlikely, but she had to try. She had to have faith that her sight would return.
“Petrova,” Argus said to her. “You are lucky you are alive. You survived a move that was meant to kill.”
“Look, just give me a week. One week. If it doesn’t come back then I’ll accept whatever decision the board makes for me,” she said. She couldn’t remember a single warrior in history who was blind. She decided that if her sight did not return then she would be the first. She couldn’t not fight. She had nothing else. She had been fighting since she was twelve and as far she was concerned she’d continue to do so until she was older than her master.
“Very well,” Argus said to her with a sigh. “However, you must know that when you leave this facility, you will not be able to return to the City of Carthusa.”
“Cannot return? Why?” Petrova asked.
The second voice in the room giggled once again and Argus shot a glance at her, she immediately stopped.
“Well, it seems as though you have burnt up nearly the entire arena. You defeated your opponent, but you also took the lives of many people with your fires,” he explained.
“Fire?” Petrova said, mostly to herself. “What do you mean? You mean I killed Eric? That’s not possible, that ball was barely even lit.” Visions of the rain turning to fire clouded her thoughts.
“No, your orb was glowing so bright many describe it as brighter than the Light Ball Minis that Eric used. Your orb shot dead on and seemed to target Eric, going off course just to hit him directly. There was nothing left of him, not even a speck of dust. And the fire rain you made, it destroyed much of the arena.”
“That’s not possible…” she said nearly under her breath.
“The City of Carthusa has banned you. I hope you had not stored items here,” he said to her as he stood to leave. “There is nothing that I have that will help your blindness. I have requested that Martha bring goldenseal to help with the inflammation and pain. It is all that can be done.”
When the room was quiet she was left to her thoughts. Her chant brought the rain, her anger brought the fire. The Ball of Fury was definitely a hot item, so to speak. Amazed at its power she lay in awe for many seconds. Then a wave of dread washed over her as she thought about the people she had killed. They were just average people, just people who came to an event to see a show and now they were gone. They were people with families. They had people who loved them who were suffering their loss now. The heart ache began to consume her so she refused to think any more about it.
Instead she began thinking on all the spells and chants she had learned from Vortura. She needed something to heal the eyes. There was bilberry, but that was not a curing herb, it was a preventing herb. When taken, it prevented diseases of the eyes and helped to see better in the night. Passionflower was for eyes that had been strained, that wouldn’t necessarily work. At least she would have the goldenseal to help with inflammation.
Petrova raised her hand to feel her face and stopped short. She was not brave enough yet. She did not want to know if her face had been deformed. She would take that step when she felt ready to accept it.
As the days passed Petrova ate and slept, her sleep disrupted by nightmares of people burning alive, children watching their mothers and fathers burn, people bursting into flames as they walked down the hallways of Carthusa. Many times she awoke drenched in sweat and tears and many times she awoke screaming aloud.
Eventually she distracted herself by attempting to will her eyes to see. The goldenseal relieved a great deal of the pain, but wasn’t helping to get her eyesight back. She asked for Passionflower. She spent hours meditating, trying to will herself to see. But by the third day there had been no progress.
On the fourth day she lay in her bed, thinking about how different her life would become. People would despise her, not regard her. They would spit on her instead of cheer for her. And how would she get around if she could not see? How would she cook her food? How would she bathe? The future was looking very daunting. She heard the heavy footsteps that she imagined was Argus come into the room. Something startled her, a sliver of light danced in front of her and then vanished with the sound of the door closing. A light variation; she had seen a light variation! She guessed it must have been the sunlight that came into the room when the door was opened. Her heart leapt with hope.
“Argus?” She said calmly.
“I am here, Petrova,” he answered, sitting on the edge of her bed.
“Argus, is it dark outside?” She asked him. She did not know what time of day it was.
“No. It is almost noon,” he told her.
“I do not smell rain, nor do I hear it on the roof. It must be sunny outside?” She asked.
“Yes, it is very bright outside. You are learning to use your other senses. Very good,” he said to her.
“If I were to get my sight back, would it come back slowly or would it be all at once?” She asked him.
“In all the years I’ve lived I have seen only one person regain sight after an accident. He received it slowly. But Petrova, I must prepare you. The damage is more than you think. I have come here to tell you that I will be contacting the Board two days from now. I also need to tell you that your master will be calling on you shortly. He has come a long way to see you,” he said to her.
“Yes, Argus,” she said to him. But her hope was not diminished. She knew she would see again soon. She could not accept anything less.