Bonds of Blood
But for what is was worth, this was not a fight she would have wanted to be a part of with the roiling sea beneath her feet.
The two combatants stared each other down, both trying to read the other, planning out attack and counter attack, like a game of chess. In that regard she had an advantage. The longer Mnemia was allowed to analyze the board the stronger she became. Her opponent knew that and would make a move long before that advantage became significant.
With a burst of speed the woman across from her advanced straight in. That was to be expected. She had the burden of the first move and flanking wasn’t an option yet. Instead the outcome of this fight would likely be determined by what happened once the solar countered the charge.
Driving her left foot out in front of her, Zis came to a hard stop, whipping the chain in a horizontal arc with her left hand while she let it slide through her fingers to extend the reach. Mnemia responded by dropping low, letting the weighted end clear her head. As she did Zis took a long step forward with her right foot, reversing her stance and throwing the other end of the chain forward. A follow up like this was not entirely unexpected, but the Abyssal was trying something different this time. Instead of a straight strike the head of her weapon moved along a vertical arc, hitting the sand between them. With Mnemia as low to the ground as she was, the sand getting thrown into the air could be a problem.
Leaping backwards the Tya tried to clear the hazard, but as she did the left end of the chain continued in a full circle. As it did Zis spun with it, adding her momentum to the attack. Nearly the entire length of the chain was extended now, giving Mnemia no further room to retreat. And with the attack coming from the left side Mnemia would have to choose from the easy block with her right arm and risk losing her weapon or the more difficult block with her left arm that could put her off balance.
Mnemia had seen Zuko skirmish a number of times and knew that getting wrapped up in this chain was the quickest way to lose the fight. So with little choice she timed a spin, coming to face the attack a moment before it struck, parrying the head of the chain with the bracer on her left arm. When the attack hit home Mnemia could feel her entire arm go numb from the force of the blow. Damn, Zis was playing for keeps today. The Abyssal had never struck Mnemia this hard during a sparring match.
At that exact moment Mnemia’s back was to Zis, so she turned back as quickly as she could, bringing her wooden sword in a wide sweeping arc meant to keep the almost certainly advancing woman away rather than do any real harm. The sword struck Zis’ right shin, stopping the kick she had thrown while the Exalted’s back had been turned. Mnemia had more leverage in her attack, knocking the Abyssal’s right foot back the way it had come. Taking that energy, Zis planted her right foot and brought her left up in a hard crescent kick. Her weapon out of position and her balance still off Mnemia had no choice but to take the blow on her right side, just below the ribs. Again, jarring pain passed through her body. Something was wrong. Zis had more control than this.
One did not play these kinds of games with an abyssal.
Utilizing the same move Zis just performed, Mnemia accepted the force of the attack and used it to tumble to her left. She came to her feet easily, ready for Zis’ follow up, a quick swing with the short right side of the chain, a blow that would strike her neck or shoulder and likely force her to the ground if Zis continued to play rough.
Activating Heavenly Guardian Defense, Mnemia moved with unnatural speed, parrying the blow easily. In return she brought her knee up hard into the solar plexus of Zis before bringing her own weapon down hard on the back of the abyssal’s neck, driving her into the sand. She then took several steps back to see how her partner would respond when she stood back up again.
“Want to talk about it?” Mnemia asked.
“And what good will that do me?” Zis snarled, now resting on all four and staring at the sand.
Zis turned her head to look at Mnemia now. “Does it bring you joy to see me helpless. Is this all a game you’re playing with me?”
“What are you talking about?” Mnemia responded, her voice rising.
Zis rocked back into a sitting position. “I’m talking about the Soulbreaker Orb. You know, the big bomb that would have destroyed me along with everything else had it gone off.”
“What does that have to do with you trying to knock me unconscious during a sparing match?”
“You drag me along with you on these little adventures of yours, a slave to your self righteous whims. Adventures that prove that, like any good solar, three quarters of Creation wants you dead. And as we clearly found out, the means they are willing to use to finish you off can be quite extravagant.”
Zis rose to her feet, leaving the chain on the ground.
“It’s very dangerous being your friend, yet you insist on leaving me helpless, unable to defend myself. And for what? What have I done to you or your companions since you killed me? I have given everything you have asked of me and saved you from a watery grave. And still you do this to me. So, how do you think I should react? Would you feel better if I just smiled and accepted this torment with good graces? Could you trust the lives of your children in the hands of someone that did?"
Mnemia turned away from the abyssal, looking up at the tiled ceiling of the desert manse. The place was mostly useless to the circle now, so Mnemia had found it an ideal place to take Zis for their sparring. Maybe she would leave a second corpse here.
Zis was about to say something else when Mnemia finally responded. “You’re right. We can’t leave you helpless if you are going to travel with us. And you’re right about the other part as well. I would not put the fate of my children in the hands of one who didn’t have the courage to stand up for themselves.”
Mnemia turned back to Zis, closing the distance between them in three long strides, discarding her own training weapon as she did. Stopping in front of the woman the Tya extended her left arm, giving the abyssal access to the inside of her wrist.
“You need blood right? To recover essence? At least here with no soulsteel and no hearthstone?”
Zis looked first at the offered arm, then back at Mnemia.
“Yes.” She said simply. She could have offered a number of platitudes, asking if the solar was sure she wanted to do this. But they were meaningless and unnecessary. Neither of them wanted or expected niceties from the other.
Mnemia held Zis’ gaze for a moment, saying nothing more. Reaching out with her right hand the abyssal gently took hold of the outside of Mnemia’s wrist. Leaning forward, cold lips touched skin a moment before Mnemia felt the pinch of teeth tearing flesh. Wearing only one hearthstone Mnemia would heal fast enough, but the affects of damage that she would normally shrug off were affecting her as they would anyone else. As a result she keenly felt her own essence flowing out of her and into Zis.
As the abyssal fed Mnemia brought her right hand to the back of the other woman’s head, steadying herself as she became lightheaded. As her legs started to shake Mnemia began to wonder if she had made a mistake, if she was going to have to use the collar to save her life, if it had all been for nothing. With her knees about to give, tears began to well up around her eyes. She’d been wrong. It had all been for nothing. But a moment before she would give the command, Zis broke the contact, her eyes showing a fire Mnemia had never seen. Then, before the Tya could respond, she pressed forward and kissed Mnemia deeply.
Mnemia had no concept of time as Zis pressed against her, her tears mixing with the blood she could taste on Zis’ lips. For the first time since she had died Zis was whole again, her passion reborn by the energy that now infused her. But as her senses returned to her Zis pulled away, a look of uncertainty on her face another first. But before she could say anything Mnemia surged forward, bringing their lips together again and knocking them both off balance as they fell to the sand beneath them.