Chapter One: Chase
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I knew he was going to catch me. I knew it didn't matter how fast I ran, or how hard I tried to get away. There was no doubt in my mind that sooner or later-when I started to get tired, and my body was finally pushed to its limit-once I collapsed on the cold, hard cement, he would be there within seconds to claim me.

I closed my eyes for a moment, and I could see him. His face was twisted into a disgusted sneer and he was staring at me with dangerous gray eyes. Almost instantly, my eyes popped back open. I knew what he was thinking; I knew what he was going to do to me.

I blinked back the tears that were forming in my eyes as I thought about the previous times this had happened; other times I had attempted to run away and been caught. Usually, he would have caught me by now, but tonight I hadn't a clue where he was. He was probably playing with me. I guessed that he wanted me to believe that I actually had a chance to get away, just for his amusement. I shook my head. I couldn't let those thoughts invade my mind. I had to concentrate on escape. Taking a deep breath, I pushed my legs to go faster.

The moonlight served as my only guide, leading me through the narrow allies and past the broken down buildings. Every now and then, the moon would be shielded by a cloud that slowly passed by, and I would be forced to strain my eyes to see through the darkness. I'd never travelled through the back allies of Gevoden, and I wasn't exactly sure where they would lead me, but I was hoping that somehow I could manage to make it to the forest that lay beyond the west side of town. I thought that would be the safest place to go, a place where I may have been able to lose him, at least for a little while.

The pain in my feet was growing with every step I took. I'd forgotten to put on shoes before I left, and now I was regretting it. After tonight, I knew I would be limping for days, and he would probably take advantage of this, keeping me on my feet for as long as he could. He would make sure I didn't recover; he would make sure I remained weak so that I couldn't escape from him anymore.

Stop running.

I nearly gasped, hearing him speak to me through my mind. His voice had surprised me, but I was even more surprised to hear how close the voice sounded. It was almost as if he was right behind me. I didn't listen to him. I wouldn't listen. I would try my hardest to block his voice from my mind, to keep from hearing anything.

You're tired. I'll catch you soon.

He spoke again. He was right. We both knew he was going to catch me, but I refused to give him the satisfaction of catching me soon. I could hold out longer. Maybe I could make this chase go on even longer than he thought it would. There was a cramp in my side, the muscles were throbbing in my legs and my breathing was getting heavier and heavier, but I would not stop. I would continue to press on.

You're beginning to aggravate me.

Despite myself, I smiled at this. It was nice to know I had some power over his emotions. It was nice to know that I was upsetting him. But my happiness was gone in the blink of an eye as I thought of what aggravating him could mean. More punishment. Worse punishment. I absently wondered if maybe tonight it would be so bad that he would kill me. But I knew that wasn't possible. He would keep me alive because he needed me. However, he would most likely push for death, doing all he could to torture me, but not enough that I died.

'God, I don't want this,' I thought to myself. I was taken aback, though, when I heard his response.

You brought it upon yourself, you know.

I bit my lip in worry. He'd gotten further into my mind. Not only could I hear his thoughts, but he could hear mine, and I didn't know how to hide them from him. There was no stopping the tears which were rapidly falling from my eyes. I wanted him out of my head!

I tried to push my legs faster in small hopes that maybe I could get further away, and he would be forced out my mind. But my body wasn't working like I wanted it to, and was slowing down unwillingly. It just couldn't handle this.

At this point, I couldn't control where my thoughts were going. I closed my eyes briefly and exhaled a long breath as I asked him, 'What are you going to do to me?'

You'll see, was his simple answer.

And then I could take it no more. My legs finally gave out below me, and I collided hard with the ground. The pain was excruciating against my knees, and I had no control over the loud cry I let out. It wasn't just a cry from the pain, however. It was a cry of defeat. I'd failed to escape once again, and now I would be in his possession for as long as he wanted.

There was a large stone building to the right of me, and I backed myself against it, bringing my knees into my chest. I was searching frantically around me, waiting for him to appear out of the shadows and walk slowly and dangerously toward me. I knew my heart would start pounding hard in my chest and I would be frozen where I was as I anticipated the pain that would come…

I put my head against my knees, not wanting to see it all come together before my eyes. I tried to think of anything I could to distract myself. I needed something to focus on to make me calm again. I decided to think of my mom and dad and sister at home. Back when we were safe and lived a peaceful life. I could almost smell the pine trees that lie to the north of our house and enveloped the land in their sweet scent. And I could taste the delicious honey bread that my mom would always make for us. I could hear my sister's sweet, high-pitched voice as she laughed about anything and everything that she found the least bit amusing. I thought back to how every night I would go out alone and gaze up at the stars that shined so clearly in the sky. I'd try to find a meaning in them and read the story that they provided for me that night. And suddenly, I was there. I was home. My fears had all been washed away like a message in the sand as the tide rose. I had found peace, and although I knew it would be short-lived, it was just what I needed.

Seconds later, I heard a voice.

"It's too bad you're never going to be with them again, isn't it?"

I felt my body turn rigid, a response I had become accustomed to whenever I heard his voice. My breathing halted and I shut my eyes tighter, trying to bring back my memories. I didn't respond. I knew I wouldn't have been able to even if I wanted. My voice seemed to be lost, and it wasn't coming back any time soon.

There was silence, and I knew he was walking closer to me. He was going to get as close as he could. It just made everything much more real. Soon enough I could feel his hot breath on my face, and I waited for him to speak.

"Look up, Avalene." His voice was soft and he spoke in what would have been a comforting tone, but was only sickening to my ears. However, I couldn't ignore his request. Slowly, I lifted my head, opened my eyes and there he was, inches away from my face.

His gray eyes stared straight into mine and I could read every emotion behind them He was furious, more furious than he had ever been with me. Not only because I had run away, but because this time I had gotten far. Farther away than he would have ever expected me to get. When he spoke again his voice was steady and in control, like always. "I've caught you." He said simply, sounding amused.

I only nodded, still too terrified to speak. He continued on, "You were quite persistent tonight. You got further than I thought you would. You're getting stronger, aren't you?" I didn't answer, only stared at him in disbelief. Stronger? I'd never felt weaker. I realized, though, that he was talking more to himself, than to me, "Yes, I can see you're getting stronger physically and mentally. I wonder if this means your magic's getting stronger as well."

I nearly cringed at his words. My magic. Ihadn't a clue how to use it, and even if it did grow stronger, I wouldn't know. Without understanding how to unleash it, it was utterly useless.

He had paused for a moment, as he studied me and continued slowly, "It took a bit longer for me to get inside your head this time. I must say I'm impressed with the resistance you put up," he lifted a hand and I instantly flinched away as he brought it to my head. But he only stroked my hair lightly, and kept it there. "There's no more resistance in you, now that you know there's no escape," he grinned wickedly at me when he said this, making a shiver run down my spine. After removing his hand from my head, he stared at me a minute longer, assessing the fear that was rapidly growing inside me. "Is there anything you'd like to say to me, Avalene?" He asked.

I took a deep breath and shakily let it out as I worked to find my voice again. He wanted me to apologize. He always made me apologize before my punishment.

"Sorry…" I said, meekly, my voice barely audible even to my own ears.

He nodded in response, and stood up suddenly, to my surprise. As I pondered what he was doing, a small part of me wondered if he was going to leave. Maybe he gave up, decided I was getting too strong and wasn't worth it. But he remained there, crushing any hopes I had of him leaving. Why would he leave if I was stronger, though? He wanted me to get stronger. Strong enough to get what he wanted, yet weak enough that I couldn't escape. I silently cursed myself for being so stupid. But he still hadn't punished me yet, so maybe this was a good sign. I continued to stare up at him, waiting for him to speak.

"Tell me, Avalene, you're not planning on trying to get away again, are you?" He asked, nonchalantly, his eyes never once leaving mine.

I shook my head as quickly as I could, the words tumbling out my mouth before I could stop them, "No, never." I said, trying to be as convincing as I could. Maybe if I behaved, if I proved I had learned my lesson, than he wouldn't be so hard on me. Perhaps this was all just a test. I anxiously waited for his response. His mouth stretched up into a grin, but his eyes remained deadly.

"I'll make sure of that."

I was slightly confused at first, not completely understanding what he meant. After a moment, though, I did. My breath caught in my throat again, and I felt my eyes widen considerably. I wasn't getting let off the hook. In fact, I was being wedged further down on it. That was my last thought before every other thought passing through my mind ceased.

My punishment had begun.

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A/N: This story pretty much came out of nowhere, so I'm not completely sure where I'm going with it, but I've brainstormed a bunch of ideas so once I get them all sorted out, I'll definitely continue. I've already started on chapter two so don't worry. I don't plan on taking years to update this :D

Anyway, I know it may have been kind of confusing, but I promise things will be explained sooner or later. The title will probably change, and I was going to change Avalene's name, but now I think it's growing on me, so we'll see what I decide to do. And in the next chapter, you'll also get to see what Avalene's punishment is. Muahaha.

Well, if you read it, please review (if you liked it or even if you didn't) because I know you'll feel extremely guilty if you press that back arrow without leaving me something :)