A fun blast from the past with Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key. This is really where the central plot with Baron and temples took off. The section I’m presenting is pretty long, but it’s from one of my favorite parts. Battles within the mind are always a joy because you can be really weird and bizarre. Sorry that this one is so long, but I couldn’t find a good cut-off point.
“That was a rough one,” Mira states as she sits on the cold floor. She looks around the room where jagged spires of ice have erupted from every surface. “I didn’t think you’d make it.”
Sari groans as she stops shivering and her stiff limbs shift back to their natural position. The ice around her body is coated in blood that flows back through her pores and into her veins. Shuddering breaths help her regain control of her senses, but the residual pain prevents her from standing. The floor beneath the gypsy grows and shifts until she is sitting on a throne of ice. She forces a smirk at Mira, who shrugs and takes a seat on one of the chair’s wide arms.
“A show of power?” the woman asks with a fake yawn. “You realize you’re trying to intimidate one of your own thoughts and memories, right? I’ve told you several times that I’m nothing more than the embodiment of your guilt.”
“Then you should listen to me and leave me alone,” Sari states in a weak voice that steadily gains strength. “I’m tired of you sitting there and insulting me. I don’t need your mockery when my body is broken and shredded. If you’re a part of my mind then you need to obey me.”
Mira hops off the throne and stands in front of Sari with her arms delicately crossed behind her back. She leans forward until her dead-eyed face is an inch from the gypsy’s nose. With a wide grin, the redhead hums a lilting tune that the nervous girl immediately recognizes. The traditional funeral song of her murdered clan echoes throughout the icy room, growing in intensity. Hundreds of singing voices join the phantom and hazy figures emerge from the shadows.
“Oh no you’re not!” Sari angrily shouts, using her legs to shove Mira away. She leaps to her feet and focuses her thoughts on the solidifying forms. Her eyes fall on the figure of a short, slender woman with sparkling green eyes. “Leave my mother out of this!”
The redhead chuckles and takes a seat on the ice throne. “Don’t get angry at us. We’re created by the guilt held deep within your heart. With your powers out of control, your mind is too strained to protect you any longer. Now you must face everything that you’ve kept hidden behind your love and happiness. The obnoxious façade you maintain on the outside won’t help you here, Sari.”
“What do you expect me to do?” the gypsy snaps, her voice loud enough to crack the ice around her. “I miss my family and wish I could have saved them. Any survivor of such a tragedy would feel that way. When we were children, Nyx told me countless times that she dreamed of saving her mom. It’s natural and it may never go away. So stop torturing me and make my family go back to sleep.”
“Get this through your head,” Mira says as she pulls at her fiery hair. She waves at the specters who sink back into the shadows. “This is your world, so you have to take control. I’d work quickly because there are worse creatures than guilt lurking around here.”
“What could be worse than guilt?”
The phantom reaches out to pat the gypsy on the shoulder. “Keep wasting time wallowing in me and you’ll find out.”
Sari tries to swat the arm away only to watch her hand pass through the ghostly limb. The sound of a growling predator cuts through the air, causing Mira’s body to shimmer like a fading mirage. The gypsy catches her breath at the sight of the redhead’s body abruptly becoming mauled and bloody. In the blink of an eye, the gaping wounds and gore are gone.
“I give up,” Sari groans while turning her back on the grinning specter. “Bring on the next challenge because I can’t do anything about you. I made a horrible mistake that cost you your life. I have to live with the guilt and learn to be more careful. Please leave me alone.”
“You beg your guilt away.”
“I simply don’t know what to do.”
“Try to put some effort into this.”
“I’m tired, Mira,” the gypsy claims in weak exasperation. She looks to the icicle-covered ceiling and wipes the tears from her cheeks. “As you said, I’m dealing with my own thoughts and emotions. You’re a part of me and I’m not ready to come to terms with you. It isn’t like you’re the real Mira either.”
“I’m real enough,” the young woman declares. She clenches her fists until her nails pierce her palm, spectral blood dripping onto the floor. “Don’t ignore me and keep me here, Sari. You have to cast me away or you’ll never be happy again.”
“Apparently my mind doesn’t really understand me,” the blue-haired champion says, her voice cracking with gentle laughter. She spins her skirts and scans the room as the ice around her shimmers, feeding off a blip of contentment in her heart. “I think I can be truly happy while holding onto my guilt. The memory of you reminds me that I need to think before I act. When I escaped our cell, I did so out of self-preservation and never gave a second thought to your safety. I must learn from that and grow, which will lead to me being very happy.”
Mira kicks the throne of ice and screams at Sari in echoing rage. Her body blinks in and out of existence, shifting from being whole to being mauled. She continues to furiously kick at the throne until the chair shatters from a powerful strike. With a crooked smile, the phantom turns toward Sari and reveals a mouth of black fangs. She charges the gypsy only to slam into an invisible barrier, which sends her crashing into an ice spire. The mad woman staggers to her feet, her head harmlessly impaled by a stake of ice.
“You can’t live with me inside you!” Mira yells at the top of her lungs. She stalks to the edge of the barrier and touches it with a hand that extends yellow claws. “I’m a disease that will fester in your guts and eat you from within. One day you’ll wake up and be disgusted by your own reflection. That will be me taking control. Stop pretending you’re content with my existence and set me free. Do it!”
“No,” Sari calmly replies.
Mira screeches and furiously beats on the barrier, which cracks under the relentless flurry of blows. Sari closes her eyes as the woman lifts both of her fists above her head. The strike never comes due to a barbed chain wrapping around the phantom. A look of terror is on the redhead’s face as the iron links entomb her, leaving only her mouth free. The barbs pulse as if they are alive and gently cut into their prisoner’s ghostly flesh. With the grating sound of metal on ice-covered stone, the mass of chains is yanked into the deepest shadows. Screams of pain and fear rip through the chamber until they end with a strangled gurgle.
“Guilt can be so annoying,” says a bored, female voice. A dark tan woman with black hair and indistinct features steps into the light. Curled around her body is the barbed chain with its club-like end dragging on the floor, a trail of sparks behind her. Hovering above the woman’s head is the sickle end of the strange weapon. The curved blade bobs and weaves like a hungry serpent, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.
“Who are you?” Sari asks, backing to the far side of the barrier.
“I guess I’m Kira Grasdon,” the woman answers as she wraps her kusari-gama around her left arm. The odd figure slams the metal club end into the barrier, shattering the magical protection. “I feel rather strange because I don’t have much of a face. It seems our mutual lover’s descriptions have fallen on deaf ears. Either that or you don’t wish to know what I really look like.”
“Mira was guilt,” Sari timidly whispers. She feels around her skirts for her daggers, but all of the sheathes are still empty. “What are you?”
Kira grins with a barely recognizable mouth and reveals a void where her teeth should be. “I’m your fear, little gypsy.”