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Oblivion's Light

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The first time she saw the ship it was ablaze, capsizing close to the shore of that island. Her father used to casually tell her of the accursed place in bedtime stories, teasing her fears to the surface; he spoke of monstrous death and surviving on your own with nothing but utter desolation carving your path as a shield. He told her that perhaps one day, if she was lucky, she would learn to conquer her fears of surviving alone when confronting such circumstances...

Nyssa squinted and shielded her eyes against the conflagration. The noxious scent of the explosion made its way into her nostrils and breathed new life into her mission. The time to wait was over now. Her father had sent her for one purpose-- murder the mad doctor, Ivo, and take the miracle drug back to Nanda Parbat. She did not question his orders, but had wondered why this substance was miraculous. What could possibly equal their arts of healing back in their fortress, deep down in the pits?

She signaled to her compatriots, two veteran assassins much older and more experienced than herself. They made their way into position, steering the small vessel toward the sinking ship. Her eyes settled on the flames, which eagerly licked at the horizon and contrasted the languid movements of the waters. The groaning and creaking of the ship played as a harmony to the crackling bursts of energy being released from the flames; how they danced. Something caught her gaze, quickly at first, as if it was an illusion of fire... she concentrated on the spot again, her hand instinctively grabbing the hilt of the dagger at her waist, bracing for an enemy attack. Fingers poised to strike, she let her vision settle upon the spot again... to the left of the ship's broadside was the reflection of a body floating in the sea.

"Optics" Nyssa snapped to her elders, and one of them handed her a pair of binoculars. She leveled the instrument to the spot along the water and adjusted the nobs until a focused image settled before her eyes. The floating figure was lithe, smaller than she expected. The body belonged to a young woman. Nyssa caught her breath in her throat. The woman was at complete mercy to the rocking of the waves, falling debris and ash surrounding her. She was unconscious... which meant that she must have been a passenger on the ship at the time of the explosion. Nyssa felt something tug at her insides; the energy was similar to the vitality of the flames, consuming in its capacities. Before she realized what she was saying, she uttered, "Steer us to that woman. We need to extract her from the water." The command sounded questionable once stated aloud, and at the hesitant gaze of her fellows, Nyssa glared and raised her voice. "She was a passenger. She could have been involved with the making of the drug my father wants us to retrieve. Do it! NOW!" The eldest assassin nodded, his emotions masked by his black hood and facial coverings, and steered their ship toward the floating woman.

They reached her quickly, feeling the sweltering heat from the explosion burn their backs. The two assassins leaned forward over the side of their boat, grasping onto the woman's limbs and heaving her aboard. Her body limply rolled onto the deck; she was face down and her clothes were ragged and torn. Nyssa gave the order for turning the ship around and heading back to port. It was clear that the sinking ship was nothing but wrecked fodder for the sea now. As evidenced by the state of the rescued woman's health, it was unlikely that the explosion had mercy on any other survivors.

On the return journey, Nyssa couldn't help but continue to glance over at the woman... no, the girl... perhaps woman... She was so young, yet she wore an expression in her slumber of resonant, deep pain. Pain all too familiar to Nyssa. It was the pain of having witnessed too much destruction in a short time period, the pain of being untimely seized from one reality into another... In short, it was the pain of killing another, of taking a life. And Nyssa could sense that despairing sorrow etched into the brow of the sleeper's face, her damp dark blonde hair framing an otherwise youthful visage. Nyssa surveyed the woman up close and noticed that, even while asleep, her worn hands were clenched into tight fists. Her black tank top and pants had significant frays and tear, and her skin was marked with deep bruises and cuts. Walking over to the woman's side, Nyssa reached out slowly, almost timidly. Something about this woman utterly drew her near and fascinated her. Perhaps it was those clenched fists... Nyssa moved her fingertips to the woman's closed palms and softly worked the woman's fingers open, one by one, delicately unwinding them from their silent fury into a relaxed state. Once the sleeper's hands lay at her sides, Nyssa pressed the pads of her fingertips to the woman's and traced a path down those hands, letting her gaze linger along the lines she traced. The woman let out a faint sigh and her eyes fluttered in her sleep, her brow no longer furrowed by the expression of mingled contempt and fear. She was at peace, tension slowly uncoiling itself from her limbs.

Nyssa sat there quietly, keeping the woman in her sights, until the starlit night wound on into the early hues of morning.