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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Gojirawitz Girls Challenge: Ixi's Gambit 
14th-Jun-2010 02:38 pm
Elayna - Oct08
(Yes, it's been a while! With me out of town, prepping for training, and doing the training, it's been a while since I've been around to nudge her into writing. New readers: This is the story Elayna started writing to fund her summer camp. Follow the "gojirawitz girls challenge" tag to get caught up!)

Before I could ask her what she was smirking at, she turned and walked away. And before I could follow her, Ixi had grabbed my arm and started pulling me away. I snatched my arm out of her hand.

“What is with you today? Can you not just let me go wherever I want, or talk to whomever I want? I may not be a native, but that doesn’t mean I have to be led around by the hand all the time.”

She looked hurt. “… I just didn’t want her to say something that would hurt you.”

“Yeah, right. You’re still fighting with Zia, and by not letting me talk to her, you’re trying to prove to her that you’re winning. But you’re not, Ixi, and the proof of that is that you’re self-conscious and scared whenever she comes anywhere near you!”

She withdrew her hand quickly, shooting her gaze to the ground. “… That’s not the only way she won. Now I can’t even make a friend without embarrassing myself…”

I took a few breaths to calm down, and then realized how sad she looked. “… I’m sorry, Ixi. I just… it’s really frustrating to be pulled around like that. I shouldn’t have gone that far. It’s not like the fight is any of my business.”

She still wouldn’t look at me. “Go talk to her,” she said quietly. “I know you want to ask her the same thing you ask everyone else.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes. I’ll wait outside. If you get lost, Nioi will probably run into you and point you in the right direction. She has a habit of randomly popping up when people don’t know where to go.”

I looked surprised. “You know her personally?”

Ixi smiled sadly. “… Nope.”

I decided to ask more about how she knew Nioi later. My first priority was talking to Zia.

I finally found her talking to a really tall boy in a suit. She looked so calm and natural, yet still had the smirk on her face. For some reason, instead of interrupting, I hid, waiting until she was finished. When I finally heard the goodbyes, I was right about to come out, but her voice stopped me.

“You can come out now, Leo.”

I stepped out from the pillar I had been hiding behind. “…I was right about to come out.”

The smirk again. “Sure you were.”

“I was!”

“I believe you.”

That surprised me. “Wait, you do? But you just said…”

“I know what I said.” She gestured to the chairs that I hadn’t noticed before, right behind her. “Sit. I know you want to ask me something.”

I did sit, but my legs were shaking, so I was pretty clumsy about it. “Right. Thank you.”

She looked like she was trying not to laugh. “You don’t need to thank me for pointing to a chair, Leo.”

“Um. Right, of course.” Why can’t I talk like a normal person?

“So? What would you like to ask me?”

“Well, I was just curious… Why are you fighting in this war?”

She smiled. “Oh, that’s an easy one. Ready to hear it?”

“Go ahead.”

“Because the Leonterian king is corrupt, and the Reginean queen is not.”

I blinked. “… That was blunt.”

“But it’s true.”

“What makes him corrupt?”

“Would you like a list?” She started counting on her fingers. “He jails people for crossing the border.”

“Didn’t your queen do that to Casper?”

“Only because he was joining a rebellion. The rebels planned on damaging Reginea, too. It’s illegal in both countries to plot against the ruler.”

“Okay, I guess that makes sense… go on.”

“He jails people for criticizing him. He lies to his family, his friends, and his people about all of his goals during the war. Whenever someone from either country praises the Reginean queen, he throws a fit. And he’s only led by personal goals in the war!”

I frowned. “That… that sounds awful.”

“It is awful, and it happens all the time. It’s been happening for years.”

“… Zia, I have another question.”

“Yes?”

“Why are you and Ixi fighting?”

She looked down. An emotion that I couldn’t quite figure out flashed across her face. “… It was a misunderstanding. She’s loyal to her father before her friends… I wanted her to realize how wrong she was. But she just wouldn’t listen to me. So I…” She cut off and looked away. “… I told her everything I knew about what her father had, done… She kept trying to run away, she kept ignoring me, so…” She wiped at her eyes, though it didn’t look like she was crying. “So I hit her.”

I tried not to think about that statement too much. “Ixi mentioned a game of checkers?”

A look of anger crossed Zia’s face. “That was the year after I hit her. She challenged me to the game, and then suddenly called me out for cheating.”

“Were you cheating?”

She glared at me. “Do I look like the kind of person who would cheat?” she snapped.

“No… I was just asking.”

“Well… no. I wasn’t cheating.”

“But she said you were?”

“Yes! I have no idea why. I think her father may have planted some kind of crazy paranoia in her head about me, but I’m not sure about that.”

“And she also mentioned… something about you ‘finally defeating her’.”

Zia laughed. “No… That’s not what I said at all. I told her that if she really thought I was cheating, she could challenge me again, and everyone could watch me, much more closely, and I’d still win. I was trying to prove that I hadn’t cheated. But I think she misheard me… She got scared. She hid from me for a year…”

“And you think this was caused by her father?”

Her expression went venomous again. “… Yes.”
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