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Songwhisper Chapter 6: Their journey begins by Myst Ryder
When Mikaela regained consciousness, the first thing she was aware of was the smoky smell of a fire, and a delicious scent of food. A hand came down onto her forehead, and she twisted to bite it, but it disappeared from her hazy vision with alarming swiftness. Had the men drugged her?
"You better behave, or you're not going to get any lunch," a female voice scolded.
"Leave her alone," an exasperated male voice interceded, though his voice was younger than the men who had captured her. "She's confused."
"Hey, I think she's passed out again," Nira whispered. And she was right, for the day's events had exhausted Mikaela, and she had fallen asleep.
"Wake her up," Zake answered. "We can't afford to lose anymore time."
Nira shook Mikaela awake again. The girl groaned and felt her head gingerly, her eyes fluttering open. She sat up slowly, feeling a rush of dizziness as the blood rushed to her head.
"It'll bruise," the blonde girl murmured sympathetically, her voice slurring in Mikaela's dim awareness.
"What happened to those two bastards?" Mikaela mumbled.
"They're dead," said the man who now entered her field of vision, who she now recognized to be Zake. "We killed them."
"Good," Mikaela scowled.
"I haven't introduced myself," the woman added. "My name is Nira Suncleaver, daughter of Geoffrey Bearstrength and Taieluna Silvermoon."
"Oh," Mikaela stated, feeling young and childish. "My name is Mikaela."
"What do you know of the Empire?" Nira pressed.
"Only what they taught us in schools," Mikaela answered, confused. "We're all under the rule of the Empire, so we pay tribute and stuff in return for protection from the armies."
"Well, that's only the basics," Zake explained. "It's a lot more complicated than that."
"The men said the Empire wanted me," Mikaela replied softly, confused. "What does that mean? Why would they want anything with me?"
"We think it's because of your singing," Nira said gently, but Mikaela still stiffened.
"Now that the Empire knows of you, you and your family are in great danger," Zake added. "You have a choice, to stay here and risk you life, or to join us."
"Why would I want anything to do with you?"
"As you can see, we are both trained warriors and can offer you the best protection," Nira explained. "We both are involved in actively fighting the Empire, but you can't be in more danger than you are now. But you must understand the risks."
"And we wish to know more about this singing talent of yours."
"It is nothing," Mikaela insisted fiercely, but Nira put up a hand for silence.
"I may not know the full capabilities of your powers," she stated, "but I do know that it is not ‘nothing'. You do not have to tell us now, but the sooner you do, the better idea we'll have on how to protect you."
Mikaela was torn between her natural suspicion and the desire to tell them everything, and thus relieve her own burden. Zake saw her hesitation, and felt some pity for the poor girl. The transition was probably hard on her, now that she knew that she must leave her family to go with two strangers to fight an enemy she did not realize.