Chapter 12

Michelle awoke the next morning feeling only a little cranky. Daine finally contacted George a few hours after her blow up in the study and as suspected, Numair devised quite an extensive schedule for her to follow. He wanted her to meditate for at least two hours after she woke up, which usually just put her back to sleep, and then one more after breakfast. Her afternoons were pretty much free, but there had to be more meditation before and after dinner and then finally an exhausting four hours before she went to bed. Michelle knew why Numair was only having her meditate, but needless to say, she didn't enjoy the idea.

"Aquaris, you might as well just go to breakfast without me. I got up a little later than expected so my meditating will have to be at least three hours."

You have to eat. Aquaris scolded, plopping down directly in front of the crossed-legged redhead. Just because you got up late doesn't mean you get to skip a meal.

"What, you're my mother now? For Mithros' sake, I'm 22."

All the more reason for you to eat.

"You're not making any sense, you know that?"

Just get this over with and then we'll eat.

Michelle sighed, knowing that the only reason Aquaris stayed was to keep an eye on her. While she was grateful for the concern, she was also irked that Aquaris didn't trust her by herself. "You sure you don't want to go?" Aquaris didn't reply. "Well, if you get bored, which I'm sure you will, it's your own fault."

After giving Aquaris another long stare, she shrugged and closed her eyes. Relaxing her muscles, she started to drown out any other sound and concentrate on her own breathing. 'Breathe in, breathe out,' she thought being careful not to go too fast. Finally she managed to get herself into a rhythm and then soon drowned out the sounds of her own body.

Michelle dreaded the next time that she had to step foot into her subconscious. The past few times that she was there she had only come out worse for wear and even more scared then before. Knowing now that because of Numair's schedule she had no choice but face her fears, she sometimes found herself skipping scared and plunging straight into panicking. The real reason she had gotten up so late was because she didn't get to sleep until about 5:00am and not because she was overly tired.

She was that scared.

Her breath began to speed up as she neared her state of "complete meditation" which forced her to pay attention to her breathing again. This alone frustrated her to no end because she had to repeat the process all over again, but she knew that she couldn't just skip right to breakfast. As much as she hated to admit it, these meditation cessions really did help.

Aquaris watched from the floor in front of her, noting the changes in breathing as well as her expressions when they happened. He sighed to himself, placed his head on his forepaws, and shut his eyes. I wish there was something that I could do. The last time that I felt this helpless we were saying good-bye to Amara and Tsunami. If only they were here. They'd know how to help. Aquaris gasped and opened his eyes, remembering something that happened when Michelle was in the infirmary one of those many times. But wait, didn't Tsunami say that Amara might be here? That's it! If I find Amara, Michelle will get better! Aquaris smiled (if foxes could) and got to his feet. Jumping up to the tower window, he crawled out and landed on the window ledge, using the various rooftops to guide him down to the ground.

He looked up to the tower window once more and smiled to himself. He found the way that he could help. Finally he wouldn't be useless anymore. But first I have to eat.

Michelle didn't notice the fox's departure. Given Aquaris was trying hard to keep silent, the redhead's focus was mainly on her meditation. She was determined that this time she wouldn't panic and throw herself back to step one.

After a few more tries, she overcame her fears, for the most part, and managed to enter her subconscious. Before she opened her eyes she felt the cold moisture of the crimson liquid that had risen as far as her waist. Opening her eyes, she then saw the pedestal and the Inferno artifact.

It was completely broken in half.

The redhead stifled a gasp and waded her way over to stand next to it. 'Well, this explains why it has gotten so bad.' She grabbed both sides and examined them carefully. The center of the artifact was some crystal-like substance. It looked just like a crystal might, but the red-orange rocks didn't look hard, but soft. She found herself reaching in to touch them, but recoiled when a serpent bit and grabbed onto her hand. She cursed a little and shook the reptile off, realizing that she was lucky to get away with only a minor burn seeing as it was made of fire and probably could've incinerated her entire hand.

"Ah, so you've finally gained enough courage to come back here." Michelle didn't have to turn and look to know who was talking, but she did anyway. The Inferno smirked and waved her arms out wide. "Tell me, how do you like the décor?"

Michelle scowled, but didn't avert her eyes. "Needs a little more color."

"What? You don't like the color red? Is that it? How sad." The Inferno walked through the liquid, making ripples as she came nearer. Michelle found this a little curious because after all, wasn't Inferno just a spirit? "It's my favorite color you know."

"Never would've guessed," Michelle muttered, turning to stand between the Inferno and the artifact which she placed back on its pedestal. "I'm growing weary of this game Inferno, why don't you just stop playing and tell me what you're after."

"What I'm after? What makes you think that I'm after anything?"

"Well, for one thing you wouldn't be going through all of this trouble keeping me from fixing this flame thing or taking over my body if you didn't have some purpose in my world."

"I can't just not want to be trapped in there anymore?" Inferno asked, blinking her eyes innocently. "Tell me, knight, have you ever been trapped in something like that?"


"Then maybe if you were you'd understand."

Michelle paused, not liking the smirk that curled on the Inferno's lips. Then she remembered the snake. It wasn't trying to fend her off, it latched onto her.

It was trying to pull her in.

Michelle jumped away from the pedestal just in time to smack a snake away from snatching her. "What, using snakes now? What happened to your "water strands?"

"Ah, so you've figured it out have you?"

"Not like it was hard. You've done this to me before remember?"

"Yeah, but you've always been a slow learner." She chuckled. "Now then, Michelle, on a more serious not, how do you plan on fixing the damage if you can't even get near it?"

As much as she didn't want to admit it, Inferno had a point. The whole meaning behind these meditation practices was to somehow try and fix that artifact. For some reason she had forgotten about how much damage there was really and didn't worry about it. 'Perhaps that was how she wanted it,' Michelle thought. 'Maybe she somehow was able to push back all of my fears and make me forget about the thing entirely. I guess she made me think that I had it under control.' Michelle scowled again, realizing what was going on. "You can't control me anymore. I know a way to stop all of this."

"No you don't," the Inferno replied lightly, examining her fingernails. "I know what you're thinking and you have no idea what to do now. You're terrified. I can feel your heart racing right now as we speak. Can't you feel it? You're realizing that you can't fix the artifact without touching it and now that you let it get this far, you can't even do that anymore."


"—find a way?" Inferno finished for her. "Oh really? I'm sure you know that right now I really don't even exist, but can't you tell that I exist a little more than, well, last time? Really all I am is a specter, but as time goes on, I gain, well more like take, the image and body of my holder. That's the reason that you've gotten so far out of control. It's because I'm beginning to take over. So whatever I say, goes."

"No, this is still my body."

"Is it? Oh, well, keep thinking that, honey. As much as I like talking to you, I'm getting a little tired so, good-bye Michelle."

Michelle's eyes shot open, but the thing was she didn't remember ever flowing out of meditation.

"Whatever I say, goes," the Inferno whispered and then laughed, but only after she was done did Michelle realize that it was her own mouth and vocal chords that said those things.

She pounded her fists against the ground, cursing as loudly as she could. She was certain that it was out of anger, but there was also that small part of her that just wanted to make sure she was in control this time. "I can't keep doing this! This is just ridiculous! Each way I look there's a brick wall and I keep running into them. I'm going in circles! There's got to be a way! Anyway that can keep her from doing this! If she was to come out—" She stopped as tears swelled in her eyes. Michelle knew that if Inferno was to gain complete control of her body, history would just start repeating itself and she'd end up killing thousands of people and among those killed would be all her friends and family.

Everyone she loved would die.

'But wait,' she thought, 'that's it.'


Hadn't the reason that the barriers were let down in the first place been because of her feelings for Ray? Inferno fed off her emotions and eventually came in control of them so that was the answer. If emotion was what powered Inferno she'd just have to get rid of them.


April 28

I realize that I haven't written in a very long time. I'm sorry. So I guess a few updates are in order. Let's see.

I'm currently at Pirate's Swoop because I got out of control again. I really did it that time. I started my meditation as usual, but when I entered my subconscious, the Inferno somehow took over and used her powers to do some terrible things to Corus. The stable and the southern part of the King's Own barracks was completely destroyed, the farmland surrounding the city was upturned and the farmhouses destroyed, the local tavern was burned to the ground and all those in it, and Ray was seriously injured. I ended up getting locked in one of the tower rooms, for good reason, but managed to escape and now I'm here in Pirate's Swoop. There was a little more in between there, but I'm sure you get the idea.

This might actually be the last journal entry I'll write, if everything goes as planned. No, no, I don't plan on killing myself or anything like that, (actually that might be the only sure way that everyone will be safe.) there's just something that I have to do. The artifact is broken entirely in half and I realize now that the only way I can really keep everyone safe and still keep my life is to distance myself from my emotions.

I know, I know it sounds like a long shot, not to mention downright dumb, but this is the only thing that I can come up with for now.

I'm running out of time.

Soon she'll take over me completely. Actually she's probably laughing right now because she knows exactly what's running through my head. I'm not even sure if I can erase my emotions because she'll probably try and stop me. Not only that, but I've become very fond of my emotions, as corny as that may sound.

However, it's my only option.

I think I'll leave this entry out so that people can read it and know why I've became what I did. I have to protect them. Not only are they important to a lot of people, but the world is such a better place because of them. There's something special about this country of Tortall and I don't intend to mess everything up.

This is something that I haven't put in this journal yet. I read through my other ones and realized that I've never actually admitted it in writing. I think I've finally admitted it in my head as well as my heart, but no one else really knows. There's a small part of me though that really hopes he reads this.

I love you Ray and I'm sorry.

Michelle Jarlin (Sarrasri)

A/N: I'm sorry that this one took so long, not to mention that it's a little shorter than usual. I hope it wasn't really that boring or that it's too repetitive. Please tell me if it is. If you couldn't tell, this one was kind of forced out. Mostly 'cause I've been in a writer's block lately. It's like I've been wanting to write for this story, but I think I'm straying a little from my ultimate goal so hopefully the next chapter will be a little better.

Please let me know what you think so far and don't be afraid to criticize. We all know I need it .