(I'm not blind to the sins of my past. I was beyond wicked. I obsessed over people who I felt had done me wrong. Felt I owned. I took what I wanted. I had no concern for how I affected their lives. I did everything in my power to destroy everything they ever cared about. Till their memories were a bitter poison in their viens. That kind of damage can't be undone. It's painful to think about. Which is exactly why I must never diminish or bury these memories. I refuse to revise them in my mind as a coping mechanism. It would be a lie I wouldn't want to live with. It's better I keep them close to my heart as a dull ache that remains with me always. My constant reminder. I accept that in doing so I will never fully find peace. That I will be continually haunted by my own misdeeds. What a small price to pay for the horrors I've inflicted. To not think of these things would be...irrespsonsible.)

H..how many more?

(Ember. A living reminder of my atrocities. Formerly Robin Sparks. Once a follower of Alexis Cage. My original plan had been to permanently disable her as a way of getting to Alexis. In many ways it might have been better had I. I saw something in her in the ring that night and ended up kidnapping and changing her. Through torturing and training I destroyed her identity and rebuilt her in my image. Then I thrust it into Alexis' face. I followed that up by destroying the body and mind of Alexis. Last I saw of her she was being pumped full of drugs at an undisclosed location.

Now here I am trying to pick up the pieces of Ember and reshape them into something positive. I so thoroughly destroyed her identity that all that was Robin Sparks has long since died. There's no going back for her. I watch the sweat pour down her body as she stands at the top of the steps with a bucket of water in each hand. Her determination is fierce. It's one of the main reasons she's in this situation. Her arms tremble from their heavy burden. A drop of water escapes and hits the cement. Horror and desperation fill her features. I look at the tiny wet spot on the ground before surveying the extrely long series of steps behind her. I chose them specifically because of their number and incline. She's been up and down them for hours now. I motion for her to set the buckets down. She's hesitant to do so, but does as instructed.)

I am sorry master.

(There's that fear of my reaction to her assumed failures again. I thought she was past that. She has done this less over time. It is only under extreme duress does it surface now. It can't be helped, and it's my own doing. I will be happy when it is no more. I can't help but smile softly as I look at her from my perch on the statue in front of her. I drop down in front of her.)

Every drop is as important as the whole of the bucket's contents. Do you understand?

(She nods in response while looking more unsteady on her feet by the second.)

Good. Now don't worry about it. As for how many more...well your resilience won't carry you forever. You will eventually succumb to fatigue and injury. You will fall.

(A grim expression consumes her now tense features. She knows I'm right and she doesn't like it. She shouldn't. It's a horrible fact of nature that you can't constantly fight forever. It's a universal truth. A very faint laugh escapes my lips.)

Ember, I can train your body forever. I can increase your endurance, your capacity for pain, and your physical strength. I can do that till your body breaks down. None of it will matter without the mind. This exercise is about more than just your body. With that in mind...

(I walk around the statue and return to her with a heavy pack. I know it's heavy. I filled it with bricks "donated" by a local, condemed building. She tries to hide her reaction of surprise, but I notice any subtle change of her expressions.)

Let's make this harder.

(I help her put the pack on and lift the buckets to hand to her. Her exhausted body already strains under the added weight. I can't stop smiling.)

You'd better get started. I expect you to go down and back up twenty times. You might want to think about some of the mental training we've worked on because it's the only way this will be possible.

(No argument. No hesitation. She hobbles her way down the steps slowly. Too slowly for what I want. I feel somewhat bad for my reaction, but it's for her betterment.)

You might want to pick up the pace if you don't want to be here all night.

(Struggling, she works to follow my instruction. Come on Ember. I know this is difficult. That's the whole point. I need you to accomplish this as much as you do. Nothing comes easy. Nothing ever will.)

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