“Whoops,” Xia muttered as bits of wood rained down around her. “Guess I should practice more.” She lifted a hand to brush the worst of the explosion’s aftermath from her shoulders and froze when she heard several weapons swing in her direction. “Crap.”
“Drop your weapon!” Xia’s eyebrows shot up, stunned. Weapon? Her gaze flickered to the twisted metal door knob in her hand. Sighing, she unclenched her fingers and allowed it to fall to the floor. With exaggerated slowness, she lifted both hands into the air, laced her fingers behind her head, and lowered her eyes. The guards were less likely to attack if they were certain that she could not stun them with a gaze or a wiggle of her fingers.
As the dust cleared, she counted six pairs of boots surrounding her. They immediately began to argue about what to do with her.
“She needs to be taken before The Council. Obviously, this cell wasn’t strong enough to hold her,” one guard said.
“But where were you? I thought two of you were supposed to be here at all times?”
“She wasn’t supposed to be able to escape! The Other assured me that her power was weak and that the lock would hold!”
Rudely and loudly, Xia cleared her throat. All conversation ceased, and the seven of them stood in complete silence for more than a few heartbeats. Finally, a guard, this one a woman, spoke up, asking, “Why did you try to escape?”
Xia chuckled. “Escape? I had no idea the door was locked. It never was before.” An uncomfortable pause filled the air. She ignored the discomfort of the guards and rushed on. “Can we discuss my ‘escape’ after I go to the bathroom?” She watched as all six pairs of boots moved just out of her hearing range; a furious whispered conversation rapidly took place. Sighing, she rocked back and forth of the balls of her bare feet.
Just as she was going to interrupt and remind them of her pressing need, a single guard returned to her side. “Come on,” the woman said, “I’ll go with you. You can put your arms down and look up, too.” Thankful for small favors, Xia complied, and set her body into motion.
Walking the short distance to the bathroom with another female who was heavily armed and probably not much older than herself embarrassed and saddened Xia, but she struggled to remain calm. She despised the feeling of being treated as criminal, but unless she misunderstood The Other’s words, The Council feared her and felt that they had no choice but to treat her as such. An ugly smirk twisted her mouth; after blowing her cell door to pieces, The Council probably had good cause to feel afraid.
She chuckled as she reached the bathroom, and stopped in her tracks when she realized that her companion meant to follow her inside. “Do you mind?” she asked.
The guard answered apologetically. “I’m under orders not to let you out of my sight.” She paused, then added, “I’m sorry.”
Shrugging, Xia opened the door and stepped inside. Curious, she turned to face the other woman as the light snapped on inside the small room. Only slightly taller than Xia, the female was young, probably having seen no more than twenty summers. Her short hair was partially covered by a faded pink kerchief, and her eyes were hidden by dark glasses. Her armor was battle scarred, and in her hands, she held a heavy rifle. A short sword hung from her belt, and another, longer blade was strapped to her back. Shrugging again, Xia headed toward the lone stall, already undoing the string on her pants.
Completing her business, she fixed her clothing and exited the stall, heading for the sink to wash her hands. Turning on the water to let it heat up, she reached for the soap and pumped the old bottle several times. Rubbing the slimy concoction into her hands, she glanced up at the mirror and felt her mouth fall open in shock.
“I see you’ve noticed. Good. Saves time that way,” said the female with the glowing blue eyes.