Firefly Rising

By Desert Mouse

The sky grumbled its uneasiness. Following the older man that plucked her off the streets of a town that wanted nothing to do with her. Ishara stopped for only a moment to study the darkening heavens. A storm was coming and that meant that she was in for a wet and miserable night. the teenager could always hope the man she worked for would choose to head into a town and spend the night at an inn, but that rarely happened because Thomas McAlpine believed that a person should never hide from the elements.

"Are you coming?" Thomas asked without having to turn and look at her.

"How does he always do that?" she wondered stepping forward again.
"I'm sorry I was just looking at the storm." She announced.

"Does it worry you?" Thomas questioned, she shook her head but realized how stupid that was, he couldn't see her.

"No." she said hesitantly
"Some habits are just hard to break." She admitted. Quietly she looked down at her dress to distract herself from the coming rain. It was pale blue and a simplistic design that she had for almost ten months now. She had been growing a lot in that time, the chest tightened and the hem of her skirt went from her ankles to almost her knees.

"Is there something wrong with your garment?" he asked. Once more she was amazed because how could he have possibly known she was looking at it.

"No but that's the problem. Why are you taking me to Sutherland when my dress is still in good shape?" Ishara replied. This time Thomas stopped to look at her.

"Its not damaged but it no longer fits you." He pointed out.
"Why are you against making a new one?"

"There are two reasons for that Mr. McAlpine. Using a needle is still painful, it reminds me of what I used to have and how I lost it." Ishara thought, however she only gave him the second reason.

"Its expensive and I didn't agree to join you so you could spend money on me." She explained. Thomas saw the look on her face and smiled.

"Your cute when you pout. But it really doesn't suit you. I know why you joined me and you are a hard worker but your not a child anymore Ishara. Your growing and so your skirts getting shorter and your chest is filling out. I can't keep traveling with you unless you dress with modesty and elegance."

"I'm sorry." She said almost quietly. She was grateful for the things he's done for her but she didn't understand why the ageing dress was causing him problems. Still she didn't like the idea of him spending money on her when it wasn't necessary.

"The girl has lived for too long without the power to do anything when she outgrows her cloths or they get damaged. But she must have a memory somewhere of what it was like when her parents kept her bundled up in fitting clothing." He thought.
"Lets get going I have a surprise for you when we reach Sutherland." He suggested. It caught her interest but at the same time concerned her. A long time ago she had learned not to trust surprises.

They walked for several more hours while the sky threatened to worsen, and then retreated only to gather its fury. Thomas was almost ready to call camp for the night but his young employee had vanished.

Ishara got distracted, she saw something in a farmers field that she had to investigate. The thought didn't occur to her that she should have spoken up before stepping away when she saw the blood red armbands the two men talking to the farmer wore. She approached them without caring how much noise she made, so she only caught a few words of the conversation.

"That's all we want and we will leave you alone." The smallest man said. He only came up to the farmer's neck but his companion with a matching armband was the same height as the farmer with a much bulkier physique. The three of them turned to the new intruder without finishing the conversation but Ishara could guess what the red Reapers wanted. She had dealt with their members before.

"Go away child this isn't your business." The larger Reaper said, but the smaller man stopped him.

"Maybe we shouldn't be so hasty to send her away." The fires behind her eyes flared and it took everything she had not to try and strangle the life out of him.

"Leave him alone." She growled at them. The two bandits laughed at her but the farmer just wanted to hide.
"Please don't make it worse." He begged her.

"I'm not scared of them." Ishara said

"That doesn't mean you should get involved." A new voice spoke up. The smaller reaper looked to the aging man.

"Who are you?" he demanded after spotting the sword at the mans side.

"If it's important you can call me Thomas McAlpine. I think that you should leave these two alone." He suggested resting his hand on the swords hilt.

"You don't have to get threatening, we were just having some harmless fun. Weren't we James?" the smaller Reaper said with an eerie grin.

"That's fine but I have business with both of them if you're finished." Thomas said simply. The small Reaper waved his hand rudely and the two of them left quietly.

"I'm sorry to trouble you sir." Thomas said to the farmer.

"Not at all, thank you." The farmer replied. Thomas looked at the teenaged girl.

"Ishara come." He said sharply. She reluctantly followed him back to the road. They walked in silence until it was almost too dark to continue. He turned to the sixteen-year-old girl who could almost tell what was about to happen.

"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Thomas demanded staring into her fiery blue eyes.

"I saw.." Ishara tried to defend herself.

"It doesn't matter what you saw. It was foolish to charge in like that. Your not a fighter Ishara and I didn't think you were that stupid." Thomas said angry. She diverted her eyes from his because she couldn't bear to look at him but he didn't soften his voice.

"You're forbidden from leaving the campsite tonight. You need to think before you act, I won't always be able to save you." Thomas finished.

"Yes sir." Ishara replied. Timidly. She turned back to face him, almost expecting that he would strike her but when she saw the concern in his face she felt sick with guilt.

"I just wanted to…" Ishara said trying to turn away from him again. But this time he stopped her, with his hand against her right cheek she was forced to look deep into his eyes. She wanted to make everything better so she leaned forward, longing to feel his lips against hers. This man rescued her from the streets, he made sure that she always had food and a warm bedroll to sleep in. he asked for so little in return but tonight she screwed up and made him mad. At the last minute she twisted her face away from his hand so that he couldn't see the tears forming.

Thomas saw what was happening however and when he spoke again the anger was gone from his voice.
"Prepare your bed, I'll take care of everything else tonight so you can rest." he told her.

"But that's my job." She tried to protest.

"Not tonight." He replied ending the conversation.
"Your in for a restless night Ishara, while your fire tries to overtake the feelings of guilt I see in your face. I want to reach Sutherland by nightfall tomorrow so try and rest, you'll feel better in the morning." He thought studying her. Overhead the sky cried out, they wouldn't have a fire for long tonight.

When Thomas woke up the next morning he was not surprised to find Ishara was gone. She had everything packed and ready to go, including her bed but she vanished before sunrise.

"I hope she doesn't take too long." He said looking at her things. The best thing he found to do at times like this was to leave her alone. She needed time by herself to think things over, and get her fires under control.

Not far from the camp Ishara was kneeling beside a small stream washing her face. She mulled most of the night, her guilt twisted into anger in the middle of the night. she became angry with herself, angry at Thomas, and the Reapers that took everything away from her.

"Isn't that the same girl from yesterday Marty?" James said quietly. The two of them ducked behind a farmer's crop, they hadn't been spotted yet.

"I'd like to play with her. I'll distract her while you sneak up behind and grab her." Marty said whispering. He let James lead first then he emerged from the field and approached the girl.

"Well aren't you a pretty young thing." He said out loud. That got her attention quickly. She got to her feet and glared at him.

"Why are you here?" she demanded.

"Relax a little, I'm just enjoying the morning. Your much cuter when your docile." He laughed. She hissed at him and didn't notice that the larger Reaper had gotten behind her. She only realized that he was there when he grabbed her arms with a strength she had no hope of matching. She struggled against James grip and tried to twist free.

"What do you want?" she growled giving up. in her struggle she allowed her shoe to come loose.

"We just want to have some fun and your going to help." Marty explained.

"She's been gone a long time. There is something wrong." Thomas thought watching the sun reach midday. He took her things and started searching the area. Eventually finding his way to the stream she ban been to a couple hours ago.

"Her shoe?" he thought picking it up. There were signs of a struggle but nothing about the footprints to suggest that it came off during her capture.

"A message then? Clever girl, your in trouble." He thought.

Marty looked at the teenager they tied up. she was powerless in this state but he was still reluctant to do anything until she calmed down.

"This isn't the first time I've been a captive of the Reapers." She growled at them.
"The hunter played with me, and now he is dead."

"Marty why don't you just let me tear her clothes off and we can have out fun with her? There's no reason to listen to this." James asked.

"Hold on a moment." Marty warned.

"What's wrong?" James asked.

"The Red Reapers used to have a leader several years ago that was sometimes called a hunter." Marty considered.

"And I killed him in the last game, you'll die too." Ishara snapped.

"I've had enough of this." James said approaching the captive teenager. She shifted her position a little and glared at him unafraid. She waited for him to get closer then when he reached for her she used the only part of her that was free and kicked him sharply in the groin.

"You little bitch." He spat backing up so she couldn't try for a second attack. Marty snickered.

"I'm going to kill her." James said angry.

"Id really rather that you didn't. You see she is a lot of help to me." Thomas interrupted them. Marty looked at the newcomer.

"You again." he said curiously.

"Didn't I tell you two to leave her alone?" Thomas reminded them.

"We can't do that, it seems that your little slave is wanted by the Red Reapers.' Marty explained.
"If she wasn't then id suggest you just take her, she's more trouble then she's worth but what can you do." He shrugged.

"I'm going to have to take her anyway. I don't intend to let the Red Reapers have her back." Thomas said.

"You knew she was a fugitive from the Red Reapers and you tried to hide her? that wasn't very smart." Marty asked.

"I knew, but you still can't have her." Thomas replied drawing his sword.

"James take care of him." Marty ordered. The larger Reaper grinned.

"This is going to be fun." He reached for his own sword. The two of them locked blades with Thomas shredding his normal calm demeanor. They traded blows for several minutes with each one of James attacks being interrupted by Thomas's own sword. But Thomas held off on returning James strikes, he stood examining the larger mans moves before he acted.

Thrusting once carelessly he waited until he was blocked before countering with his elbow.  James tried to dodge that and Thomas pressed farther with his sword.  The reaper was caught off guard and fell to the ground dead.

Marty already had a small knife drawn but it was too late. By the time that he brought it up to deflect the sword Thomas was already trying to kill him with there wasn't enough time. The larger blade knocked his knife out of his grip, and sliced into his hand, past his chest.  He backed up quickly and positioned himself behind the bound teenager.

"You think you've won? Soon the Reapers will know she's out here and there will be nowhere to hide." No one escapes from us." Marty glared at Thomas. He took advantage of the time it would take the warrior to safely get around the captive to escape.

"Shouldn't you go after him?" Ishara asked while he approached to untie her.

"He won't make it back to their hideout. The wound he suffered will claim him within the hour." Thomas said cutting her bonds.

"You lost your shoe." He commented handing it back to her. He helped her back to her feet.

"Thank you." Ishara said quietly.
"I'm sorry I caused to much trouble."

"I'm just glad that you're safe. You handled yourself very well Ishara. I saw what you did." Thomas explained.
"Even helpless she refused to give up. She didn't let them hurt her and kept a calm enough head during her capture to leave me clues to where they took her." he thought proud of his little Firefly.

"I was going to wait until we reached Sutherland but after what happened today I think you could use some good news." Thomas suggested.

"What's wrong?" Ishara asked worried.

"I need you to make some changes to your dress design when we reach the city. I'll leave the details to you but your new dress will need to be modified so that it allows full movement as well as being modest." Thomas said and held out his sword.

"I'm going to teach you how to harness that anger's strength while keeping a cool head and then you will learn to use this." he told her.

"Really? You're going to teach me to fight?" Ishara asked. A smile crept along her face.

"With the fire I saw in your eyes back in Forest Lake you could do some great things with proper training. Do you want to learn what I'm offering?" he asked seriously.
"Think carefully because if you take up the sword you will lose the ability to settle down into a normal and peaceful life. When you pick up a weapon you become a target for others with one."

"I never wanted a peaceful life Mr. McAlpine. I lost that chance long before you found me. So if you're really willing to teach me to do it. My desire is to protect the people that can't so it themselves." Ishara said.
"I couldn't protect the other girls. Tima and even Sasha deserved better but he's giving me the chance to protect those that come after." She thought.

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