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~:: Conversion - Chapter III ::~

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Within seconds, her skin began to feel inflamed once more. She steeled her mind against the onslaught, as he stopped brutalizing her long enough to snarl, "They will find your sister, and when they do, it will make this look gentle by comparison. When they have finished making their sport of her, they will destroy her, for she is of no use to your father, and thus, is quite expendable." He raised his hand and brought the back of it crashing across her face, once again splattering her own blood as her lip split against her own sharp fangs.

Choking back the urge to cry out, she struggled to gain leverage. Pulling her feet up under her knees, she summoned all her remaining strength in an effort to throw him off. He lost his balance, momentarily, and they rolled to their sides, still tightly joined. Increasing his grip around her, he panted, "Oh, yes, fight me now. Does it not anger and frustrate you that you are unable to stop me?"

She felt the tears rising in proportion to the bile in her throat. She wanted to lash out at him, and his arrogance, and mostly at the undeserved pain he was inflicting. But she knew the moment she gave over to that desire, her fears and anger would rule her, and she would fall into his trap.

She silently prayed curse upon her father, who even from his dark prison was able to hurt and torment her by sending his underlings to do his vile work.

Her thoughts then turned to her sister. She tried to establish some small link but he'd drained her powers to almost nothing. A dread fear for the safety of her small, fragile sister rose within her, and renewed her strength and her resolve. If for no one other than her sister, she must remain loyal to the forces of good. She cried out, praying that the Guardian had made it back to her in time. He, of course, had the advantage of knowing where to find her, whereas her tormenters would have to search. This thought renewed her hope. Summoning every last bit of strength she had, she let it go in a burst of mental energy targeted at her sister, hoping to warn her before they could reach her.

Suddenly, the cavern lit up like daylight, and she realized the Guardian was back. She opened her eyes, and looked around, and with him were many others, and beside him was her diminutive sister. As her tormenter continued to drive himself into her with a fury, she felt him begin to swell within her, and hoped this meant it would be over soon.

But before he could fully finish what he'd started, he felt himself sucked up into the air by a violent force. He slammed against the ceiling, and dropped to the floor. Jumping to his feet, he spun around, as a host of Guardians manifested themselves before him. His eyes narrowed to glowing slits as he realized he was outnumbered. Screaming an oath into the damp air, he summoned back his minions. Within moments they began to materialize before him.

She gathered herself enough to crawl from beneath where he stood over to a dark corner. This was about to turn really ugly, and she was still weak from the assault. She fell on her face, and clutched her wounded side. Sensing a presence beside her, she opened her eyes to see her sister hovering over her.

"I am sorry," was all she could manage to exhale.

"No need to be sorry," her sister reassured her. "Our father is the one who brought this about. We cannot avenge you upon him, but we can surely get our vengeance out of these clowns."

Nodding, she almost smiled at her sister's unique way of phrasing things. Even in the darkest moment of battle, this small one's conversation was colorful, doubtless a nod to her human influence, and her human lifestyle.

Placing her hands on her wounded sister, she let her own forces cover her, renewing the young one's strength, and healing her pain. A few short yards from where she knelt over the child, a violent battle waged, as the Guardians brought judgment and vengeance down upon the tormentors.

"Perhaps if I had not returned to this place," she began, weakly, still drained from her ordeal.

Her sister shook her head, her long red hair falling across her face. With a small, childlike hand, she reached out and stroked her younger sibling's face gently. "It would not matter. Our father ordained this when you were born, should you accept the ways of the humans." She met her sister's eyes. "There is really nothing you could have done to prevent it."

"But I have put you, and those around you, in danger," she sobbed.

"No, my dear, they," she spat vehemently, nodding in the direction of the still raging fight, "tried to put us in danger. You seem to lack faith and trust. The One who protects me will not fail in the face of those who are merely created."

"I do not have such protection, my sister," the younger lamented, weakly. She lay her head in her sister's lap, and let her softly pull her wild mane out of her eyes.

"I will protect you, my baby sis," she smiled.

Just then, a blast of energy hit both of them, knocking them over against the wall. The elder girl looked up to see that obviously reinforcements had been summoned, on the part of the tormentors. She leapt to her feet, and snarled at the group that was now surrounding them. "Picking on children now?" she sneered. "I do not fear you. Leave her alone, and face me."

"We shall have both of you before this night ends," one of them answered.

"I think we shall see what you will have," she retorted.

Raising a hand, she cried out loudly, and a blast of current from her life force shot out in all directions, knocking them all away from her. She closed her eyes, and grabbed her sister by the hand, pulling her to her feet, no mean feat for someone of her size, considering the comparatively huge stature of the younger girl.

"Not so fast, ladies," a voice behind them boomed. They turned to face him, as he reached forward and grabbed the elder sister by her long, flame red hair. "You interrupted me at a most inopportune time. I'd say you owe me." He began to paw at her clothing, his razor sharp talons ripping long scratches in her skin. She spun and widened her stance, and brought her right arm up sharply, backhanding him and knocking him to the floor.

"I think you'd better recalculate. You were taking what belonged to someone else, and thus are owed nothing," she glared at him, in defiance. "I am not a mere child, and you will find me much more of a match. Bring it on, dog breath."

The younger sibling, still weak and sore from the previous assault, crept backwards until she reached a narrow opening in the rock. The opening was an illusion; there was nothing more that a small indentation, in the wall, but she wedged herself in as far as her large frame would allow. She would be pinned down in this position, if she were to come under attack, but for now it was her only option to avoid entering the brutal fray. She closed her eyes, and felt her body surrendering to the weakness of her human form.

She watched as her elder sister launched herself at her assailant, knocking him to the ground. He tried to roll away, but found himself unable to move beneath some unseen force that was pinning him in place. She leapt to her feet, raising both hands high above her head, and brought them crashing down in front of her, sending a percussion wave echoing throughout the cavern, as she screamed a single word toward the heavens.

Her desperate plea was answered instantly. A blinding flash of blue white flame licked up to the ceiling from the spot on the floor where he'd laid, and then, complete silence, as those who were following his lead stood astounded at the scene that just unfolded.

As suddenly as they appeared, they began to vaporize into the swirling mist. The group of Guardian's with whom they'd been engaged in battle gathered around the tall form that laid motionless in the tiny crevice.

Her sibling dropped to her knees and tenderly cradled her baby sister in her arms. The fight had left her drained of the positive energy she could have used to revive her young protégé.

Her Guardian stood over her, and smiled. She wanted to jump up and hug him, but knew the Guardians did not practice such human gestures. He knew her thoughts, and met her eyes with a knowing grin, having become used to her ebullient outbursts.

He hovered over the motionless body of the younger girl, and a cloud of warm vapor began to surround both of the girls. Feeling her strength begin to return, she tried to lift herself up, but her sister held her fast. "Relax," she said softly. "In a few moments you will feel as good as new."

She pondered the elder's words, and realized that she could never feel quite the same after what had happened. But she'd survived, and could still return to her place in the world of the humans. She smiled weakly, as she realized that was all she'd ever really wanted.

As her strength returned, she stumbled to regain her footing, rising to tower above her tiny sister. The Guardian smiled, and vanished, as quickly as he'd come.

"I must return. My mate awaits me," her sister said, softly. "You can always come with me."

"No," the younger one said slowly, "I must find my own way in this world. But thank you for saving me."

"It wasn't me," her sister said, quietly, flashing a smile towards the heavens.

The younger girl nodded, and felt a strange tug at her heart, as she watched her sister fade slowly from her sight. The feelings of emptiness and betrayal flooded over her like at tidal wave, mingling with a regret at what had just been forever taken from her, at the hands of her tormenter.

"I will not give in," she said, softly, to herself. "For the day I do, I will become as him, and as my father before him." She shuddered, suddenly feeling very cold and alone in her abode. Moving to the entrance, she slipped silently out into the warm sunlight, and knew that this day had changed her forever. Someday, she'd have to face that change, and the decisions that it would force, but today was not that day…