I. The Prisoner
In the depths of the Prison of Elders, Eramis is the Kell of No House. Outside, she is the firebrand of House Devils, the archfiend of Twilight Gap, the Shipstealer. But here, she has no house. Here, she reigns all on her own. In the arena, where Eliksni runts and leaderless Cabal challenge her, she rules with a broken Arc spear for a scepter. It's the strongest weapon they'll give her, and she bends it to her will. No matter how many times the Ether-fat guards try to send her to her death in that arena, she triumphs. She kills their champions; watches the Ether hiss from their masks. Watches the gel leak out of their suits. She begins to cherish the smell of a good fight. Blood. Sweat. Ether. Fear. She imagines that one day, a banner will be emblazoned with a broken spear and an inverted crown. House of Anarchy. House of Riot. House of Eramis. House of Nothing. When there is only one Kell, there is no need for houses. Today, she fights a Centurion of the broken Red Legion. Money changes hands. His pauldrons are scuffed with the memory of battle, and he's been given a War Hammer. He raises it to cheers and peacocks for the crowd. Eramis tosses her broken spear between her hands, waiting. Two glowing, pinpoint eyes focus on her as the Centurion turns. He swings the hammer at her, and she rolls out of the way. He swings it again, but she's behind him now and out of his sight line. Like a creature searching for a fly on its back, he struggles to find her. She jams the sparking head of her Arc spear into a notch in his armor and uses the leverage to vault herself onto his shoulder. He rages like a niirsai beast, all fury and stupidity, and nearly throws her from his shoulders. She tries to pull her spear free, but his giant hand knocks her senseless for a moment. The spear releases at the last minute; she grabs the top. Arc energy bites her palm as she jams the tip of the blade under the edge of his helmet and into his neck. He screams. Before he falls, she leaps off and lands on her feet. The crowd never cheers for her. Instead, they whisper. No prison will hold Eramiskel, they say. Eramiskel is a devil greater than the Devils themselves. Eramiskel does not know how to lose.