Hello everyone, I just put all the chapters together on one page, (Easier to read) and I will be continuing my Fanfic on this blog.
The answers were in her hands.
If only she could open them.
She'd asked all the right questions, but they'd just lead her to more.
When would it end?
All she wanted was to be a normal girl, but if she fell pray to temptation, then the world would shatter.
Unmatchable. It didnt used to matter. She used to be just fine without the matchmakers. So why was she trembling?
Surely Fitz would understand, Sophie had faith in that. But something was wrong.
"What?" she said, a little too harshly.
The girl behind the desk at the matchmaking office looked just as confused as Sophie was. "I'm sorry, miss. This has never happened before. It's understandable though. If you don't know your biological parents then we can't match you."
A hand gently touched Sophie's shoulder, and she remembered that Grady and Edaline were present.
"It's okay, Sophie." Edaline's soft voice floated into Sophie's ears, but the words didnt register.
There were no words in any language that could describe what she wanted to say, so her mouth hung open, not accepting breath. This wasnt supposed to happen.
"We should go." Grady told her, placing his hand next to Edaline's on Sophie's shoulder.
Sophie nodded feebly, her throat beginning to swell, and her heart sinking. She wanted to leave this place. More than anything.
Grady and Edaline held each of her hands as they walked down the all too perfect streets of Atlantis. Everyone looked happy. Sophie reminded herself that that was probably because she and her friends had saved the whole place from flooding not too long ago. They even walked by the statue of her, Lihn and Keefe, right where Nightfall had been. Seeing Lihn's face made a tear come down Sophie's cheeks.
Lihn was doing everything to get her brother back.
What was Sophie doing?
Crying about the matchmakers.
Sophie wiped a tear, and looked around, just now realizing that they had reached the transportation that would suck them out of Atlantis, from where they would light leap back to Haven feild.
As Sophie got ready to leave, she made herself a promise.
No matter what the Matchmakers said, she was her own person, and it was time for her to act. No more waiting for the answers to come.
She was going to pave her own legacy.
"I SWEAR, if you three dont let me down RIGHT NOW it is going to be very difficult for you."
From where he was hanging bat like from the railing of the stairs, everything was upside down. Including the faces of three little devils with red hair and evil grins.
"Difficult like how?" Rex asked, the smirk on his face monstrous.
"Yeah, dude, we've got you dangling upside down, tied from ankle to shoulder with tape and Mom won't be home 'til dark. We can do whatever we want." Lex informed him.
"Including rampaging your room." Bex added. She was the one holding the rope that suspended his head feet twelve feet above the ground. Why did they have to have such high cielings?
"No, I'm serious." Dex warned, trying to sound grim. "What I have in store for you little pieces of crap is worse than anything you've seen before."
Rex yawned. "Stop talking or you're a Piniata."
Dex shut his mouth. They didnt kid. He turned his concentration to the rope that was holding him above the ground. If he could use his mental energy to pull himself over the stair railings and onto the landing then he could hobble to his room and use his lazer to break the fourteen layers of fabric tape imprisoning his arms and legs like a cocoon.
The one problem was that if the triplets caught him escaping then they actually WOULD use him as party entertainment.
He sighed. Sophie was getting her matchmaking scroll. Fitz and Biana were shopping in Atlantis. Keefe was probably replacing his dad's fizzleberry wine with acne elixir.
Where was he right now?
"Okay." Dex said, defeated. "What do you want?"
Rex smiled. "Oh, so he yeilds, eh? We want you to make us a spaceship."
"C'mon, guys. Just tell me. It's getting hard to breathe." Dex could feel his face going purple.
"We want your diary." Bex said.
"I dont own one." A reflex. A lie.
Lex raised an eyebrow. "Rex, get the bat and blindfold."
"Wait, no, no, no, GUYS."
Footsteps from down the hall echoed into Dex's ears, but the triplets didnt notice, now argueing about something stupid. ("No, YOU get the blindfold!")
Please be an adult.
The footsteps were becoming louder, and Dex held his breath in anticipation. He half wanted to call for help, but whoever had enterd was coming this way anyway, and he wanted ot see the triplet's faces when they were caught red handed. They grew louder, but his little siblings didn't notice. ("DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, DUMMIE!")
The person came around the corner.
Lihn was whitnessing the second most absured scene she'd ever seen. (The first was when she'd walked in on Tam having a tea party with some shadows, but that was a dark secret she promised she wouldnt tell.)
This was a close second, though.
Dex hung uside down, wrapped in what looked like spiderwebs and dangling from a rope wrapped around the railings of the grand stairway. Three younger kids, all looking like clones of Dex himself, surrounded him, previously arguing. When they saw Lihn, however, then stopped in their tracks.
"Umm... did I interrupt something?" she asked.
The kids on the ground barked an annoyed "YES!" at the same time as Dex, his face purple from strain, screamed "HELP ME!"
"Look, lady. Our brother doesn't have time for his girlfriends right now. I suggest you leave." Said one of the younger boys, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Oh, I'm not..." Lihn laughed awkwardly.
"FORGET ITJUST HELP ME OR I'M GONNA DIE A PINIATA!" Dex screamed, very high pitched.
Lihn shook herself.
She summoned the moisture from the air, which shouldnt have been hard, as Rimshire, Dex's house, was surrounded by snow. But she felt the resistance, just as she had from the moment Tam was taken. Her own ability was fighting her.
Nevertheless, she managed to form a large bubble of water in the air. She changed the desity a bit, rearanged some molecules, and tossed the glob of liquid to the three kids.
Lihn wasnt surprised when they didnt attmpt to catch it, but when the water bounced off of the floor, still in tact like a blob of very stretchy, very slippery slime, their expressions went from skepticall to amazed.
"Woah!" said the girl holding the rope, as she let go to chase the water with her brothers.
Dex released another scream, as the rope around the stair railing undid itself and released him. Lihn managed to catch him with telekinesis before he hit the ground. She proped him up so he was sitting upright and tugged on whatever was binding him.
"Thanks." Dex told her, able to breathe but still beet red. Perhaps from embarrasment.
She smiled. "Don't mention it."
"I'm sorry you had to deal with that." he mumbled. "My siblings are tyrants."
"Don't worry about it. I know a thing or two about siblings." As the words left her mouth, she realized that they hurt.
Dex realized, too.
There was a silence, neither of them knowing what to say. Lihn swallowd.
"S-so how do I get this stuff off you?" she changed the subject to Dex's bindings.
"Oh, yeah. That's what humans call tape, and there are some scissors in that drawer over there" he jirked his head towards a nightstand against the wall. Lihn stood up and rushed to the drawer, taking a pair of battered scissors from it and and quickly coming back to help Dex free himself.
"Gentle!" he warned as she snipped the first few strands.
Lihn kept slicing until Dex's arms were completely free, from where he took the tools himself and did the rest.
"So, what brings you here?" Dex asked awkwardly.
Lihn once again shook herself out of a trance. She'd been thinking about Tam.
"Oh, yes. Um. Mr. Forkle... told me that... uh..." She trailed off, not wanting to hurt his feelings since she hadn't come here to see him at all.
"Is your Mom here?" she finally asked.
"Oh." Lihn's heart sank. The one person who might have been able to help her with her dellima was absent.
"What did you need her for. Maybe I can help." He offered, trying to be polite.
"It has to do with my ability, and snce your mom is a Froster, the next closest thing to Hydrokinetic, I thought she'd be able to help me. It's no big deal, really."
"Oh. Cool." Dex shuffled his feet, obviously trying to seem unconcerned.
"I didn't mean to... Your ability is really cool too, is just won't help me right now..." She sighed.
They both stood there, not moving or doing anything, just looking at their feet. The sound of three voices arguing and shouting and ruffhousing filled in the silence in a bad way. Lihn wanted to leave.
"So what's going on with your ability?" Dex asked.
"Oh... it's nothing." She couldnt tell anyone. It could put her in danger. But Dex wasn't just anyone. Lihn knew that he was smarter than most people would have thought. He understood the way people thought. But could she trust him with her weakness?
"Woah, what's that?" Dex sounded scared. And amazed. He pointed at the ground, at Lihn's shadow. It was moving.
Swirling like smoke. It twisted and swirled and rearanged itself... into words. Lihn's heart was whirring like a hummingbird in her chest. Tam?
"What does it say?" Dex asked, squinting at the letters on the ground.
Lihn shivered. "It says... Do not forget the Hive."
It seemed training would never end. Especially when their army of bodyguards were hounding them.
"HARDER!" shouted Grizel.
"FASTER!" that was sandor.
Part of him didnt want it to end. The pain was a way fro him to forget about his problems. But he was so sore...
Sweat rolled down Fitz's forehead as he repeasted the obstical course, which had been set up in Sophie's backyard of collosol sizes. First a sprint from one side of the mansion to the other, leaving his ribs aching painfully. Next a leap over the six foot hurdle and a tuck and roll into a landing.
Then the training dummie.
One throwing star. One shot.
"Aim for the head this time!" Grizel shouted.
A grunt escaped his mouth as he flung the weapon at the target. It soared in a strait line, landing in the arm. Miss.
Fitz cursed under his breath, but moved out of the way to make room for Biana, who was coming in hot, her goblin throwing star ready in her hand.
He watched as she threw her star and it stuck into the neck. Not bad, he thought grudgingly.
"You need a break." Fitz turned to see Grizel, who was watching him with her eyes slanted, her buff gobliny arms crossed.
"Oh, really?" he spat. "I hadn't noticed."
He sat forcefully down on the log bench to catch his breath. He was tired of this. Yes, they were training, but were they actually DOING something? Alvar was free.
Biana sat down next to him, breathing hard. Woltzer, her personal body guard, handed her a bottle of water. Fitz heard the liquid slosh as she took a swig, water running down the sided of her mouth.
"That was fun." she said, still out of breath.
Fitz shot her a glare.
They watched as four of their friends completed the course. Wylie hit the dummie in the chest. Keefe missed completely due to Ro pouncing on him from behind. Marella, due to her slight vertical challenge, hit the stomach, and Sophie, being Sophie, got the bull's eye.
Just like the last nine times.
"I think we should be done for today." Sandor delcared. Everyone was too out of breath to answer, but Fitz didnt need to use telepathy to know that everyone agreed.
"When Dex gets here," Keefe managed to say, "I am SO going to lock him in with the Verminion."
"This is the fourth time." Marella agreed.
"He has work to do, It's understandable that he would miss these sessions." Sophie defended, her breath getting in the way of her speech.
"Don't worry, we'll make sure to have something extra special when he IS able to come." Tarina promised.
"You guys are bunch of winers." Ro yawned. "Back home, our training exersizes inolved live dragons and rolling boulders up mountains."
"DON'T." Fitz shouted. "GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS."
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm going inside, where ther'es air contidioning." Wylie said, clearly the smartest.
It didn't take long for everyone to follow suit.
Fitz walked up to Sophie, wrapping an arm around her. Even when she was covered in sweat she was beautiful. Angelic blonde hair, perfect skin, perfect body.
"You know, I think that they're trying to torture us." He smiled at her.
She blushed. He loved it when she did that.
"Iv'e asked Sandor about that. He didnt say yes. But he didnt say no, either."
As they entered the Ruwen household, a gush of cool air greeted them, and a huge sigh of relief was shared between them. Fitz moved to enter the living room with everyone else, but Sophie stopped in her tracks. Fitz turned to her.
"Aren't you coming...?" he gestured to the living room, where everyone ese was now sharing cold lushberry juice just as Mrs. Ruwen had promised.
"Fitz... theres something I need to tell you." Sophie took a breath looking slightly worried.
Fitz did his best at a confident smile. "What is it?"
SOphie seemed to battle with herself for a moment, biting her lip and struggling not to pull on her eyelashes.
"I'm Unmatchable." She blurted, looking slightly pround of herself.
"W-what dyou mean, 'Unmatchable'?" Fitz stammered. "That's like a joke right?"
"It's not." Sophie said. "I would never joke like that."
Fitz ran a hand through is hair, trying to breathe slowly. This couldnt be happeneing.
"It's not so bad. I mean we can still... Right?" Sophie was sounding anxious.
Fitz laughed. He meant it to be reasuring, but it came out nervous.
"Of course!" He said, slightly too loud, slightly too happiily.
"The hive?" Dex asked, reaching down to touch the shadows. "Like the troll baby hive?"
Lihn wanted to answer, but her head was spinning. Tam was alive. He was communicating with her. Trying to tell her something? To warn her?
She stared at the words written in shadow, not breathing, not wanting to let go of this little ray of hope.
"Uh, hello?" Dex waved his hand in front of her face, and Lihn shook herself.
"It's Tam." she said breathlessly. Lihn looked back down at the shadow, but it had returned to it's origional form.
"Is it though?" Dex asked.
"It has to be." Lihn insisted. "Who else could have done it? Umber is..." she didn't finish.
"Well, yeah, but... It's a little suspicious." Dex pressed, earning a glare.
He put his hands up in surrender. "I'm just saying that we should be carefull. If he knows where we are and was able to message you, that means theres a good chance that the Neverseen are watching us."
Lihn's stomach dropped to her knees. He was probably right...
"We need to go to Everglen." she told him, starting to head towards the door. Dex stepped in front of her.
"Woah, woah, woah, wait a second. We should think this through."
Dex stuttered for a moment. "Because it could be a trap!"
Lihn gaped, searching for words. Every day since Tam had been taken was endless torture. She woke up alone in a room that they were supposed to share, getting up every morning, doing her chores and listening for the sounds of her brother's complaining, only to remeber that he was gone. She sometimes sat and listened and tried to imagine that he was here with her. She listened for hours.
And when she heard nothing, she cried.
Because when they'd thaken Tam, they'd taken part of her, too. She looked up at Dex, trying not to cry, which should have been easy, since she controlled water. The voices of Dex's siblings rang through the halls.
"What if the Neverseen had taken your family? What would you do?" She asked him.
Dex was quiet for a moment, his mouth hanging open and his fingers going still, a rare phenomonon.
"I would do anything to get them back." He whispered.
"So help me." Lihn pleaded.
30 minutes later
"Remind me again why I'm not allowed to tell anyone about this?" Biana's voice echoed through the cavernous cave, previously a troll nursury. It was dark, so dark that even with the bottles of illuminescent algae that dex had provided, seeing more thn four feet in front of her was a difficulty. The ground, walls and ceiling were coated in a lippery green goo, that Biana assumed had to do with the hatching, and her silver pumps were not holding up well.
Oh, and it smelled, too.
"Because," Dex started, " We don't know for sure if this will get us anywhere. We don't want to get ayones hopes up."
"You told me." Biana countered, examining some of the goo on the bottom of her shoe.
"How else were we supposed to get in here?"
Biana rolled her eyes. She'd looked through this cave countless times, finding nothing but goo and darkness. It wasn't that she didnt enjoy snooping around in a place that her Dad had forbade her to go, on their little secret mission. She was a big fan of that.
The problem was that it was pointless. Both the Black Swan and the Councill had investigated this place, yet they'd found nothing.
"What are we looking for anyway?" she asked.
It was Lihn who answered. "I don't know. Anything. I just know that Tam told me about this place for a reason."
Biana bit her lip. She understood that Lihn was desperate. Maybe she'd made the whole 'Words in the shadows' thing up without knowing it. There was no telling what lengths a desperate sister would go to for her siblings.
They didn't talk mutch after that. Biana wouldn't have minded except that the silence conveyed a kind of creepy solemness that made her nerves tingle.
This was a place of destruction.
The place that had ruined her family's honor.
Not that she cared anymore. She hadnt cared about stuff like that since Sophie became her friend. Sophie was the kind of person who made you realize that status and reputation didnt matter as long as you had friends wo accepted you as yourself.
Tam was like that, too.
Before he had been taken they'd grown closer. It was Tam who had convinced Biana to show the scars that Vespera had given her.
She wanted to help bring him back.
"GUYS!" Dex's voice echoed from across the cavern and Biana followed it.
"You found something?" that was Lihn.
Biana rushed to where Dex was crouched on his knees, examining something on the ground.
Booger reminicent slime was caked inbetween Dex's fingernails, and the stuff was in his hair, too. But he didn't care. He'd found something. Lihn appeared at his side, bending down to see what he'd found. Biana was there a second later.
"I scraped away the slime, and I found this." Dex pointed at his dicsovery. They didn't look impressed.
"Don't you realize what this is?" He asked them.
"A carving of a circle." Very funny, Biana.
"It's a lock." He said bluntly. "Just look at the indetions on the halfway points ant the quarter points." he told them.
He ran his fingers over the 'Carving' on the ground. it was like someone had traced a dinner plate.
"But..." Lihn started. "There's no keyhole."
"The circle IS the keyhole." Dex explained.
"But what would it unlock?"
Dex shrugged. He thought it might be a storage compartment or something along those lines, but that wasn't very exiting, so he didn't share.
Biana huffed. "Look, I think you guys are grasping at straws. The COUNCIL investigated this place and didn't find anything. What makes you think you'll be any more lucky?"
Dex went silent, realizing that this was'nt really his fight. However, Lihn, with a look of venom, told Biana her thoughts. "Because my brother told me."
Dex turned his atention to the lock- which, by the way, WAS a lock. He slipped his fingers into a pocket on his pants and took out a wire that looked like it would fit in the lock.
He twisted the wire, bending it in places and using his ability to his advanage.
"What are you doing?" Biana asked.
"Making a key." He answered simply.
"You know that's not going to work, right?"
Dex ignored her. Knew that this was important. There was a click.
Dex smiled to himself as both girls bent foreward, their faces pure amazment. Dex removed the circle of floor that was now quite movable since he'd unlocked it. He then lifted out from the opening a shoebox sized metal cylinder. Unlike everything else in the cave, the cylinder was shiny and clean, reflecting the faint blue glow of the luminescent algae. Dex caught Biana checking herself out in the reflection it provided.
"Lucky guess." she told him.
"Can we open it?" Lihn sounded oh, so hopeful.
In stead of replying, Dex took an invention of his own making from his pocket. It was a long silver pole with a blob of flexible mettalic substance at the end. He called it an instant key.
He scoured the cylinder for any lock, finding one on the top. He inserted the bendy metal into the hole, and held it there for about a minute.
"What are you doing?" Biana asked, sounding parannoyed.
"Have some faith in the Technopath." Dex scolded. "I know what i'm doing."
He twisted the tool, and there was another click. Everyone held their breaths as the cylinder split in two perfect halves. Dex removed the top half, and Lihn brought her bottle of algae a little closer so they could see inside.
Laying at the bottom of the cylinder were two crystals. One bloodred.
One colbalt blue.
"Kid, if you don't eat something, I'm gonna shove this flesh-eating bacteria down your pathetic throat."
Ro stood in the doorway to Keefe's room, her arms crossed, and holding a miniscule bottle of orange liquid between her pointer and thumb.
"I'm not hungry." Keefe told her.
He sat in a chair, facing the wall. A wall he'd plasterd with hundreds of pieces of paper, most of them drawings of eyes. When the drawings had color, the eyes were brown. There were drawings of doors, too; those were green.
Ro entered his room, and Keefe did his best to pretend like she wasn't there. He just focused on the eyes. So deep and brown and beautiful that it almost hurt to look into them. Like looking at the sun.
"I hate to say this, kid, but I'm woried about you." Ro had positioned herself to keefe's right leaning up against the wall.
"You say that one more time and I'm unloosing the bacteria." Ro warned, every hint of playfulness gone from her vioce.
"No, Keefe. You're not. You havent eaten in weeks. You don't sleep. You won't even shower. What happened to being there for your girl?"
Keefe was expressionless. "She's not my girl."
Ro had finally lost it. "Oh, come ON! You can't honestly be pouting because Fitz got to her first. Get your butt out there and fight for her!"
"She doesn't want to be fought for." Keefe just stared into those eyes, hoping that they would blind him. He didn't feel pain, he just felt... numb.
"I broke, Ro. Just like my mentors warned me i might. I don't ... feel."
There was a shatter from Ro dropping the vial. Keefe turned to look at her. Her mouth hung open, and her eyes looked watery. Keefe could feel her surprise and grief.
"I'm hailing Sophie." she decided, picking up his imparter before he could argue.
"Don't! You'll just worry her!"
But before Ro could do anything, the imparter buzzed. Someone was hailing him. Ro smiled.
"Your girl's calling you."
Sophie didn't know why. She had a feeling that she needed to talk to Keefe. So that was why the two of them were leaning against the fencing of Silveny's old paddock as the sun retreated behind the horizon.
Sophie plucked an eyelash, remembering when Silveny had first entered her life. Back then she'd been innocent, hopefull, and well... happier. Keefe had been different, too. But looking at him now, she wasn't sure that all of the changes were for the better.
She allowed her photographic memory to recall how he used to look, plugging the details into place. He used to wear nice clothes- not becasue he cared, but because he'd fooled himself into thinking that they would bring favor into his parent's eyes. Now, he didn't even try. His garments were dirty and wrinkled, mostly without color, and they hung on him in the wrong way, as though he'd lost some weight, not in a good way.
His hair was entirely the wrong kind of mess. It was oily and unstyled as though he hadn't showered in forever. He used to laugh. That was gone, too.
But worst of all were his eyes. They were broken and devoid of life.
"So," Sophie started. "You okay?"
Keefe just stared at the ground, cold and quiet.
"Hey." Sophie placed a hand on his shoulder. "Talk to me."
"What do you want me to say?" His voice came out raspy and hoarse, as though he was battling a sore throat.
"I want to know if you're okay." She told him, barely more than a whisper.
"I'm fine." His voice carried no emotion, something dangerous for an empath.
Sophie slid her hand down his arm and squeesed his hand. She didn't try to enhance his Emathy, knowing that it would be too powerful for him to handle.
"I'm here, Keefe. I want to help you."
"You can't fix me, Foster. I told you that before." He still wasn't looking at her. Sophie was tired of this.
"Maybe that's because you've never let me try." she squeezed his palm, but he didn't respond.
They stood there in silence for a while, and Sophie knew that whatever Keefe was facing was something truly terrible. Maybe she didn't understand right now, but when she did, she was going to do everything in her power to save him. She couldn't loose him again. NOt when too mutch was already at steak.
It was getting dark.
"I know you're hurting. I can't possibly imagine what's wrong, but I will fight for you." She let those words sink in.
"Let me help you. If not for you, do it for me. Please."
Keefe finally looked at her, and his eyes scared her a littl bit, the way they carried no emotion. He let out a little cough that Sophie realized was supposed to be a fake laugh. "You're a smart girl, Foster. But that's not going to wo--"
And then Sophie Turned on the puppy eyes. She hated doing that. It was manipulative, but right now Keefe needed some manipulation. He stopped in his tracks, his mouth gaping.
"I didn't know you could do that." he stammered.
Sophie hid a smirk. "It only works on you."
Keefe ran a hand through his hair, but it didn't help his bed head. "Alright." he he said, trying to sound passive. "I'm letting you torment me. But i have one condition."
And then he looked at her, this time with scepism. "I can tell something's bothering you. If you tell me, I'll let you help. Maybe."
Sophie should have seen this coming. Of course he'd turn it around on her. But if this was what would let her help him then she'd do it.
"I'm unmatchable." She declared bluntly.
Keefe's reaction was different that she'd suspected. He didn't stammer, or gape, run his hands through her hair. He just looked unapologetically confused.
"I'm sorry." he told her. "But, uh. No offense, or anything, but... why does that bother you? I thought you didnt care about that stuff."
She bit her lip, but then decided that he needed to know. "I guess... because ever since I told Fitz about my... feelings," she handled that word elicately. "I just wanted us to be a good match."
Sophie felt better after letting those words out. So she decided to release more, realizing how rediculusly easy Keefe was to talk to.
"I was afraid that he wouldn't want to be with me anymore. When I told him he said it didn't matter, but... I don't know. Ever since that moment... when he told me and I told him... every little thing matters so mutch more. These stupid fancy clothes... this makup. I know it's not me."
"I know." Keefe said. "I mean... not about the unmatchable thing... the feelings. I'm an empath." He blanked out, realizing that that sentence was just... terrible.
Sophie laughed. "I'm glad you're feeling better. Now... is there something you wanted to tell me?"
A cross between a sneeze and a burp escaped Keefe's mouth. "Yeah. There are a lot of things."
"You know what I mean."
He shook his head, a ghost of a smirk back on his face. "If I'm beign honest... I don't think it's a problem anymore."
Sophie delved into those words, knowing that they were true. She smiled, and leaned against his arm, trying to escape the cold night.
"Then don't tell me. And don't make me rescue you again, kay?"
"No promises, Sophie."
A grunt from behind made Sophie jump out of her skin. Keefe did the same. They turned around in unison, seeing two people. Grady and Fitz.
Both were wearing a look of malice. "Sophie can I talk to you for a moment?" Fitz's crisp accent was sharp on her ears.
"Sure..." she didn't know why she sounded so... dissapointed.
"And, Sophie, say goodbye to that boy. I want to have a talk with him. Privately." Grady's hands were on his hips and he seemed to be battling the urge to hurt someone.
Keefe let go of Sophie's hand, and that look was back in his eyes.
The look of someone who didn't have anything left to live for.
"They're leaping crystals!" Lihn forgot to keep her voice down. She couldn't help it. They were finally getting somewhere. One of those had to take her to Tam.
"Yep." Dex reached into the cylinder, but Biana stopped him.
"Wait!" she hissed. "Those could be covered in Aromark."
She had a point. Aromark was exactly the kind of thing that the Neverseen would do. But the leaping crystals were so important! Lihn took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She was so close.
"We need to get these to the collective." Dex announced. He clamped the lid back on the cylinder and stood up with it tucked under his arm.
Then, suddenly, there was a footstep. None of them had moved. Lihn shoved her algae under her cloak and summoned mist to shroud them. Biana was invisible in an instant, and Lihn felt a hand grab her arm. She looked down. The rest of her body was gone.
Dex had dissapeared as well, and Lihn realized that Biana was spreading her Vanishing to them, making them temporarily invisible.
Lihn held her breath.
Voices echoed through the cave. Familiar voices.
"I don't know why Gisela had to forget about these. Too important..."
"I would'nt complain, if I were you. You arent so special anymore, now that we can get in here on our own." Gethen.
"Whatever." the footsteps were getting closer, and a light was growing from in front of them. The light swelled, and three figures, shrouded with black cloaks that blended with the darkness became vizible.
They were heading directly for them. Lihn tried to name the figures. The leading one had to be Alvar. The one on the left was definitely Gethen. The figure on the right was shorter and smaller... Lihn couldn't place them.
The group was two yards in front of them, right where Dex and Biana and herself had previously descovered the cylinder. Alvar leaned down and felt the surface of the compartment.
"It's emptey. This can't be possible."
Lihn dare not breathe.
"You said it was here." That was Gethen.
''Don't get cheeky with me, boy."
Suddenly, the talking stopped. All three cloaked figures were staring in Lihn's direction. Alvar pointed.
Lihn looked down at her body, realizing with a pang of horror that she was vizible again. Dex could be seen beside her, holding the cylinder under his arm. Biana was... gone.
It was rash, and dangerous, but Lihn's instinct took over. Water swirled around her, and she directed it in a gyser at the Neverseen. It shot foreward at jet-like speeds, but just when it would have washed them out, it splashed to the floor.
The small figure stepped foreward, her arms outstretched. A wind began to blow against Lihn's face. It was cold and harsh. Soon, it was difficult to stand.
The howling of the wind hurt her ears, and she put her arms in front of her to sheild her face from the sting. From beside her, Dex was struggling to hold up against the wind.
Lihn did the one thing she sould think of. She gathered all of the water she could find, and built it up like a wall in front of them. The wind died down, and Lihn took a breath, relizing that she was exausted.
That had to be a Guster. Dex called to her. "We need to get out of here! Where's Biana?"
Lihn looked around frantically, but either Biana had become invisible, or she was on the other side of the wall... in which case they needed to help her. Lihn raised her arms and orderd the water to drop.
"What are you doing?" Dex cried.
The Neverseen had been waiting behind the wall, the Guster ready for more action.
Biana appeared behind the group, and ran at Alvar. She leaped on top of him, reaching in her pocket, where Lihn knew that she hid her Goblin Throwing stars.
"TRAITOR!" She screamed.
"Biana, NO!" Lihn shouted.
Alvar was trying in vain to get Biana off, but the girl had already grasped her throwing star and was about to plunge it into his back when Gethen yanked it out of her hands.
"Ah, so the little princess wants to play?" he teased. He threw Biana to the ground, and she hit the dirt with a little groan.
'Run' Lihn mouthed to Dex. He looked like he might put up a fight, but in the end, he nodded, understanding what she was about to do.
"HEY!!!" Lihn shouted as loud as she knew how. The three members of the Neverseen, the ones who had taken her brother, looked up at her.
"If you mess with us, You get the flood."
Lihn closed her eyes, calling the water towards her. Every molecule she could reach, in every crevis. Every hint of miosture. In the air. In the dirt. In the rocks.
All of it.
The sounds of roaring water filled the cave, and Lihn nodded to Dex, letting him know that if he was going to escape, now was the time.
He ran, the cylinder under his arm, and grabbed Biana, from where she lie on the gound. He slung her over his shoulder and bolted for the exit.
Then the water came, like the sea itself, raging and spashing. Lihn floated in the middle of it, like the eye of the storm. Gehten and Alvar were swept off their feet and sent who knew where as though they'd been wiped out by a wave.
But the Guster wasn't going without a fight. Wind swirled in defiance, holding back some of her waves and creating a typhoon of destruction.
But Lihn held on to her hopes.
She was going to find Tam.
And to do that, she had to defeat this witch. So with every ounce of power in her body, she surged the flood foreward.
Marella's POV (I thought she deserved some time in the spotlight since her picture just got out!)
Fintan was a jerk.
Those four word cycled through Marella's mind over and over as she practiced. Her new Pyrokineticy "Mentor" critizising and insulting her all the while. She had been here for two hours, practicing and laboring.
"You're doing it wrong." Fintan scrutanized lazily, his head resting on his fist.
"I'm DOING what you told me." Marella snapped.
She scrunched her face together ad focused. Flickers of flame sprouted from her fingertips, leaving a tingle wherever they danced. She willed them to grow bigger. Slowly.
Just a little more...
The flames rose into the air a bit.
A little more...
The fire on her palm exploded into a gyser of raging flame. Feeling annoyed more than anything, Marella reached into her pocket and grabbed a pinch of quicksnuff powder. She sprinkled it onto her hand and the flames flickered out.
"You aren't concentrating." Fintan drawled from behind the glass sepatating his freezing prizon from her training room.
"Uh, yes I am."
The slim blonde elf rolled his eyes and yawned. "If you had been concentrating, you'd have been able to controll the flame's growth."
Marella stuck out her tongue. "I'd like to see you do better."
"Child, I'm ancient. I was able to do this junk way before your parents were even born."
Marella was tired of this guy. His ears portrayed that he was elderly and wise, but he acted more like an immiture teen. Why did Forky think training with him would be a good idea?
Marella tried again, this time imagining the pores in her hand like exits for the flame in her body, opening them slowly and gradually.
The fire erupted into a christmas tree size blaze.
"Well, you obviously aren't getting anywhere. And I'm bored. And hungry." Fintan drummed his fingers on the arm resters of the chair he sat in. "So you know what? Let's cut it early. You can practice at home."
"I litterally cant."
"Oh, that's right, your mother is a lunatic."
Fintan looked into the mirror on the wall. Actually, it was a window, but Fintan had figured that out within two seconds of being in the room. Behind the window, Tiergan wa waiting for her session to be over, so he could escort her home.
Rage seethed under Marella's skin. The fire was boiling. But she held it in.
Fintan waved into the window. "Bye, Bye!"
"Jerk." Marella muttered under her breath. She wanted to leave anyway. She'd promised her mother that she would make Malowmelt. Mom had seemed excited. Not that Marella was any good at baking. Not since manifesting as a Pyrokinetic. Everything was burnt, or dry.
Mom loved her food anyway.
"See you tomorow." she grumbled.
"I look foreward to it."
She knocked at the door, letting Tiergan know that she was ready to leave. The door opened, and a dark skinned elf with light blonde hair and dark blue eyes greeted her.
"Come on." He told her, stepping aside to let her pass.
They left the prison, Marella fighting the depression that was settling in her gut. Tiergan took up a pathfinder and held it to the light. A ray shone down like a beam, and Tiergan said.
Marella stepped into the beam, and she was whisked away, a moment later landing ouside her home. Neither of them moved. Tiergan was waiting to bid her goodbye, probably.
"Would you like me to walk you in...?"
"No." Marella answered a little quickly. "I'm fine. Thank you though."
She trotted determinedly to the front doors of the huge estate. She walked past the firepit and the flaredon fur beambag chairs that she enjoyed so mutch.
She glanced behind her, seeing that Tiergan had leapt away, and slipped a key out of her pocket. Doors werent supposed to be locked in the elvin world, but the lock wasn't to keep others out of the home, it was to keep someone... in.
Slipping the key into the lock, Marella twisted it and pushed open the door. "Mommy... i'm home." she started out quiet as not to startle her into a frenzy.
"Are you here, Mommy?"
A shrill voice rang through the halls. "RELL-RELL! Are you here?"
Marella locked the door behinde her. "I'm here. Let me come to you."
She didn't need to ask where her mother was to know where to find her. Marella tiptoed down the vast halls, until she came to a room full of books and scrolls. The library. AKA, her mother's favorite room.
She was sitting in a chair facing a shelf of books, humming to herself. Marella said quietly, "Hello, Mommy."
The woman turned to look at her. She was a bit wild looking, but endearing in a way. Her blonde hair was tangled and frizzy, even though Marella had brushed it for her just that morning. She had a look of curiosity and confusion and exitement in her navy blue eyes. But Marella knew that she really understood evrything.
"Malowmelt?" she asked.
Marella smiled, bending down and brushing some hair from her mother's eyes.
"Yes. Will you help me?"
She smiled. "Okee Dokee rell-rell."
Where was she? Biana thought as she pushed herself into a sitting position. Mud and dirt covered her face, as she had been laying awkwardly on her belly. She was sore everywhere... but a throbbing pain in her left leg stole most of her attention.
There were trees all around her. Familiar trees.
Then she remembered. The hive... the crystals... Alvar.
Biana struggled to get to her feet. "DEX!" she souted. "LIHN!"
There was no answer. Only the quiet of darkness, and the trickle of running water. She had to find Lihn. Lihn had faced down Trix, she remembered. What if the neverseen were still there?
Biana gulped, and limped along a muddy pathway, away from the cave, and hopefully towards her house. Lihn and Dex would have headed for the house, too. There was only one problem.
She was lost.
"Come on, Biana." She muttered to herself. "Which way's north?"
She looked up for the sun, only to realize that it was by now dark. She limped a little faster, not wanting to remain in a place where the enemy could be waiting in the cover of darkness.
She took a familiar looking turn, but froze in her tracks. Something was moving in the bushes... she heard a rustle.
In the darkness, little beams of moonlight bounced off of leaves, making them look like faces. Watching her. She bolted in the other direction, ignoring the stabbs of pain in her leg, panting and sweating.
She was breathing so loudly now, anyone would have heard it.
But the darkness followed her everywhere she ran, and before she could stop herself, she knew that she was utterly and hopelessly lost.
Biana sank down to her knees, trembling...
Memories of darkness flooded through her mind. There she was. Laying on the floor next to the shattered mirror. Blood leaking from her face onto the ground.
Biana felt her self vanish into the night.
"BIANA!" Someone was calling her. She looked up, the voice was male, and it sounded like Dex. She heard footsteps, but they didn't blend with the darkness. There was something warm about them.
"I'M HERE!" she called. For some reason she couldn't stand, and her vision was becoming blurry. A silhoette of a person came into veiw, standing at the end of the pathway. Dex.
He can't see me. She realized. Biana made herself vizible. The sihloette emmediately rushed down the path, growing swiftly bigger and bigger.
But then Biana's vision went black, and she sank into the silky depths of sleep.
Grady Hadn't stopped pacing for the last ten minutes, and it was driving Keefe crazy. Every once in a while, he'd pause, and turn, and glare at Keefe for a few seconds, but no words came out of his mouth.
Keefe would have said something, but honestly, he was scared.
The word wasn't supposed to be good, but at least he was feeling things again. Had Sophie done the impossible again and fixed him? Maybe.
Little fragments of memories kept swirling through his head. Two mainly. The first was of Sophie (big shocker). Her eyes, looking into his, really, really wanting him to come back into the light. She cared about him.
The second was of Alden. Telling him to back off. So that his son-Keefe's best friend- could be happy.
Keefe realized that he had a choice. And that was betwen two feelings, one stronger than the other, but the other too important to break. He was an Empath... he was supposed to be good with feelings. Right?
"Eh-em." The sound of Grady clearing his throat woke Keefe from his trance. He looked up.
Grady was standing before him, his arms crossed, looking down at where Keefe sat stiffly on the sofa in the Ruwen living room. From what Keefe could tell of his emotions, the man was angry.
But there was something else, and Keefe had trouble placing it.
Was it... disapointment?
"You know that she's unmatchable, right?" Grady's words floated across the room, and Keefe almost didn't hear them.
"I'm sorry, what?" He said. "Why would that concern me?"
Grady sighed, rubbing his temples and sinking down onto the couch opposite where Keefe sat. "You like my daughter. Normally, that would be a problem. It IS a problem. But..."
"... But what?"
Grady looked up. "I need an empath's help."
Keefe said nothing.
"I have these two feelings... and they're fighting. Constantly fighting." The man continued, shaking his head. "The first one is my want to protect what I love. I love Sophie, Keefe. I love my daughter. I want her to be happy... but last lime I let a boy into my daughter's life... I lost her."
He was talking about Jolie, Keefe realized.
Grady kept going. "But I have this feeling about you. Different from last time. Something in my heart that just screams 'good'. I know you broke her heart, Keefe. Joining the neverseen raised too many red falgs. It's just too close to what happened last time..."
Keefe distinktly saw a tear roll down Grady's cheek. "But then I realized that you did it FOR her. Not for you. You care about her... and that should be the only thing that matters."
There was a long pause, in which Keefe made several attempts to speak, but got lost in the emotions swelling up in his throat.
"You see, Keefe, I'm at a crossroads. I need you to tell me that I can trust you." He looked into Keefe's eyes, no anger, just hope.
"Tell me that I can trust you." He whispered.
Keefe was shaking. "You can trust me." the words came out raspy, but a feeling of happiness was starting to thaw through his chest.
Grady nodded, getting up from the couch, and offering Keefe a hand up, one that he accepted.
"Wait, so you're honestly okay with me dating Sophie?"
"Take it slow, Sencen."
"What about Fitz? You do know that Alden told me the exact oposite thing not too long ago, right? He basically told me to keep away."
"I'm not going to fight your fights for you, kid. That's your problem. I'm just letting you know that..." the man seemed to struggle with forming the next words. "You... have..my..." he winced. "Permission."
"Wow. that looked excruciating."
Dex joted uprigt, gasping for breath. Light entered his eyes, everything just a little blurry at first. Then it all came into focus, and the livingroom of the Vacker home was put into detail. Fancy overstuffed armchairs that used to make him roll his eyes created a peacefull setting, and soft light flowed through the sheer curtains, swaying gently.
It was morning...
Which meant that they had found the crystals yesterday...
The crystals. He checked his pockets. Nothing. A little pannicked, Dex leaped from the sofa he'd been sitting on and turned frantically, surveying the room.
Had the Neverseen taken them?
A sigh escaped his lips as Dex spotted the silver cylinder resting on the coffe table behind him. He snatched it from it's resing place and yanked the lid off, nearly crying for joy when he saw the crystals at the bottom.
"What are they?" A crisp, accented voice came from behind. Dex turned to see Fitz, leaning up against a wall.
Fitz nodded. "Thought so."
"Where's Biana and Lihn?"
Fitz raised an eyebrow. "Biana's in her room, unconscious. Earlier she was whispering that you "Saved Her"" Fitz did little quotation marks with his fingers.
"I don't remember any of that..." Dex said quetely. "Where's Lihn?"
"Why should Lihn be here?"
Dex shut his mouth. Right. Fitz wasn't supposed to know about their little adventure.
"Dex, what's going on?" Fitz demanded, stepping closer. "First I get called back to Everglen, being told that our property has been flooded, then my sister turns up sopping wet, muttering about Alvar and Nightfall and... and you. Something's up, ansdI need to know."
Dex gulped, clutching the cylinder just a little tighter. "Look, It's not a big deal. Lihn just had a hunch about something and we came to check it out."
"A hunch about what?"
"Uh... the troll hives."
"But why the everblaze did you flood my property?!"
"That was Lihn."
"I DON'T CARE WHO DID IT! WHAT'S GOING ON!!??"
Dex just stood, frozen in shock. Sure, Fitz was a problem right now, but he had bigger problems. For instance, where was Lihn?
"Okay, calm down." Dex said slowly. Fitz did nothing, his nostrils flaring and red spreading through his skin.
"Lihn was messaged from Tam. Tam told her to go to the hives. We went. We needed someone to let us in, so we told Biana about it. We went, we found this," He gestured to the cylider, "and then... the Neverseen showed up. Lihn fought them. I ended up here. That's all I remember."
Fitz's anger was replaced by a look of dread. "Was Alvar there?"
Dex said nothing.
Fitz, turned, breathing heavily and running his hands through his hair. Dex heard him mumble to himself. "First Sophie... ...Alvar back... Lihn missing... everything going wrong."
"Wait, what's wrong with Sophie?"
"Nothing." Fitz snapped. "We're fine."
A nock from the glass door to the backyard interrupted the silence. Dex and Fitz turned in unison to see Alden behind the door, holding a mass of blanket in his arms and looking worried.
Fitz rushed to the door, yanking it open and making way for his father, who enterd slowly and solemnly. He came into the living room and lay the pile of blankets on a sofa near Dex.
The pile smelt like mildew and mud, and when Dex leaned over he was shocket to find that it wasn't a pile of blankets at all.
It was lihn.
Alden crossed his arms. "You have a lot of explaining to do."
Darkness swallowed her. Lihn found herself floating in a void filled with nothing but shadow. She felt like she needed to breath, to gasp for air, but when she did, her lungs were filled with nothingness. She wanted to run, but there was no ground to run on.
She wanted to see, but there was nothing but darkness.
She should have been hungry by now, but her stomach felt only the presence of shadow.
Lihn wandered aimlessly. Helplessly. Her heart not even beating. Everything was lifeless.
And then there was a voice.
'Lihn.' it whispered.
She called back. "Tam! Where are you? Where am I?"
'In my mind.'
Lihn shivered. Tam's mind was wo empty.... so desolate.
'How am I here? Only a telepath can enter someone else's mind."
'You know that I can bring others into my head by stretching my shadow."
Lihn's eyes widened. "Then you're close!"
She felt something swell in her stomach. Maybe it was hope... but to early to tell, Tam spoke again.
'I can't come back, Lihn. They know where you are at all times. If they even suspect that I visited you, they'll kill you."
"But... You told me about the hive... I thought that meant that I was going to find you..." Lihn heard her voice cracking.
'I'm sorry , Lihn. The only way to stop this is by taking down the Neverseen altogether. And that's...'
There was no reply for a long time, and in that time, some of the darkness crept it's way into Lihn's soul, rewriting some of the song in her heart.
'No. Those leaping crystals... I don't know where they go, but I know that Gethen was super worried about them. They have to be important.'
"I'm going to find you, Tam. I'm going to bring you back."
'Lihn... forget about me."
"What?!" Lihn felt a tear roll fown her cheek. "No!"
"Once the Neverseen realize that I told you about the crytals, they'll kill me. I... I don't want you to try and save me."
"NO!" Lihn screamed. "You're going to come back! You have to come back to me, Tam."
'I love you.'
And just like that, the darkness was gone. She bolted upright, screaming, shocked when she saw the faces of her friends, all hudled around her, looking worried. Tam had pushed her out of his mind.
Chapter 15 (Wow I didn't think I would make it this far):
Sophie felt happy. Like she was weightless, floating on a cloud of joy. Why? Because Fitz and her had cleared things up, and now they were for real. She sighed dreamily as she remembered their conversation from last night. It had started out with shouting. Lots of it, and mostly from Fitz, telling her that he felt betrayed...
But then, something snapped, and it felt as though a between them had crumbled. Sophie recalled his words.
"I'm... so sorry. I just... I'm afraid." Tears had been running from his beautiful eyes at this point. "I'm afraid of losing you... but I'm afraid of being a bad match because.... I don't want us to end up like Jolie and Brant. I like you too mutch, Sophie."
And then he had taken her hands in his, and bowed his head, not asking for an apology, just hoping that she would forgive.
And she had. And then he'd cryed some more, but not from grief. "I need you, Sophie. You're the only thing keeping me together these days."
"So, you don't care about me being unmatchable...?"
He'd laughed after she'd said that, and gently pulled her close, the warmth of his embrace keeping the cold of the night away. That butterfly feeling in her stomach erupted, and flew all throughout her body, making her giddy.
And then Fitz leaned in, and pressed his lips on hers, kissing her.... there was no other word for it... perfectly.
How long they'd stayed there, she didn't know- or care. All she knew was that it was the best moment of her life.
So if she was just a litte cloudy eyed during the Black Swan meeting that was taking place at Havenfeild, it wasn't her fault.
"Eh-em." Mr. Forkle cleared his throat, snapping Spohie's attention back to her surroundings. The collective and all her friends were seated in chairs that formed a circle in the living room. It was slightly crowded.
"Are you listening, Sophie?" Mr. Forlke was standing in the middle of the circle, looking at her.
"Oh, yes." She replied quickly, a lie.
"Then would you care to state your thoughts on the situation?" he asked, probably expecting her to freeze up.
'We're talking about what to do with the leaping crystals.' Fitz's accented voice filled her head.
"Oh!" Sophie said. "I think that we should go. Find out where they lead."
"Exactly!" Keefe said from the other side of the room. He was seated on his chair backwards, his arms resting on the back of the chair. He had started to style his hair again, Sophie noticed.
An uproar of responses broke out through the room, everyone trying to state their opinion. "That's a terrible idea!" Fitz was telling Keefe.
"They could lead us to Tam!" Lihn argued.
"That's enough!!" Fotkle shouted, and the room quieted. "We must consider the pattern of events. Every time we find something valuable, and follow it home, it turns out to be a trap." He said gravely.
"Which is why it could be different this time!" Sophie told him. "They wouldn't place the same trap twice!"
Mr. Forkle stared at her, his eyes narrowed. "But they know you, Sophie. They can predict your moves. Which is why I think that they knew you'd think that."
Wraith spoke. "I think that we should take a vote- just to see what everyone thinks- and then make a descision among ourselves."
"All right." Keefe said. "Those in favor of taking the crystals to wherever they might lead, finding out some secrets, and maybe bringing back Tam, say I."
A bout of "I"s rang through the room, and Sophie was one of them.
"Okay," Keefe said proudly. "All in favor of sitting around and doing nothing, say I."
No one spoke, but Sophie could tell that Fitz wanted to.
Keefe held up his hands. "The people have spoken, Forky. Do what you gotta do."
Marella sighed, her head resting on her fist, half bored out of her mind, half overwhelmed by... well everything. Today her mom had had an outburst, shouting nonsense, things that Marella knew weren't real, but still hurt. She'd shouted about Marella's ability, shreiking endlessly about how she wished that her daughter could ammount to something other than a Pyrokinetic.
She'd shouted over and over two words, both of them planting themselves in Marella's mind, weighing her down like chains.
'Bad daughter.' she'd said.
Part of Marella knew that she hadn't meant it. But the other half still wondered... Caprise Redeck's sanity had been destroyed... not her opinions.
At least the meeting took her mind off of things. She was able to worry about the rest of the world, not just her own problems. The leaping crystals had been a big find. Something that could turn the tides.
Right now, the collective were having a mental conversation about what to do. The Black Swan leaders whitnessed the voting, which had almost unanimously been in favor of taking the leaping crystals to wherever they lead.
Now it was all up to their judgment. Man, she wished that she was a telepath right now.
As Marella looked around the room, she tried to tell what the others were thinking. Sophie was definetily anxious, but there was also a dreamy look in her eyes. Lihn was looking down at her hands, appearing to hold back tears. Fitz was relaxed, bored looking, even. Dex sat next to her, fidgeting with something in his hands, but studying the collective with his eyes. Biana, on her other side, was biting her lip and clenching her fists, worried. Keefe... was asleep in his chair.
The collective conversed for about ten minutes, and unfortunately, their faces conveyed no clue as to what was going on in their heads. Finally, Forkle took his hands off his temples, and turned to the rest of the group, including her.
He spoke. "We have decided... that we will not allow you to take the leaping crystals."
Groans and objections swelled throughout the room.
"So we're just gonna sit around and do nothing?!" Keefe shouted, apparently awake now.
"We can't pass up on this chance to find Tam!" Lihn insisted.
Forkle held out his hands, gesturing for silence. "It's just too risky! We have chosen to examine this discovery in a safe way, a way that prevents the risk of losing more power."
"Is that all we are to you!?" Lihn shouted. "My brother and I?! Just weapons that you can use and protect for your own good!?!"
"That is FAR from what we see you as." Forkle assured her. "What I am trying to say is that if the Neverseen got ahold of one of you, they would have an even greater advantage, and more controll over what we do."
"But what if it's not a trap?" Marella said.
Forkle looked exasperated. "How could we possibly know that? At any rate, the chances of it being a trap are far greater than otherwise. From what Ms. Song," He gestured to Lihn, "And Mr. Dizznee" to dex, "And Ms. Vacker have told me abou their little misadventure, the Neverseen now KNOW that we have the crystals, and will be more likely to set a trap for us."
"Maybe they knew that that was what we'd think, so they didn't bother!" Biana shouted.
"ENOUGH!" Forkle shouted to all of them. "Our descision is final." He turned to Dex. "The crystals, please, Mr, Dizznee."
Dex looked down, but got up nonetheless, picking up the cylider containing the crystals, and walking solemnly to where Forkle was standing. He handed him the container.
Marella's mind turned sour. So much for progress.
Before Dex could get back to his chair, Mr. Forkle spoke again. "Mr, Dizznee, would you care to take the lid off of this and show me the crystals?"
Dex froze, his eyes wide. The tension in the room was hotter than Everblaze. Slowly, shamefully, Dex turned and walked back to where Forkle was waiting, his demeanor cold and dissapointed.
He shoved his hand onto his packet and took out the two crytals, hesitating only a moment before dropping them into the wrinkly, outstretched hand.
The cylinder had been empty. Marella cursed under her breath... they had been so close...
Dex walked back to his chair, saying nothing, looking utterly defeated. Marella felt sorry for him, and she could see hear Lihn's quiet sobbs from the other side of the room.
"You are all dismissed." Forkle's words escored them out, all slouching cross armed. Marella didn't know if she could forgive this one.
Before they left the Ruwen home, though, Dex tugged on her cape, silently. "Meet me in the emptey alicorn stable. Tell the others."
And then he'd dissapeared. Marella did as he'd said, but her heart wasn't in it. It had been a bad day all around.
Five minutes later, she and the others were gathered in the alicorn stable, a darkish, dustyish place. Dex stood atop a bail of hey, calling for their attention.
"We all want to find out where those crystals are going, dont we?" Those were his first words.
"How can we? Mr. Forkle took them." Sophie shook her head.
"He didn't take them." Dex said.
"Buddy, we saw him," Keefe said.
"Yeah. Nice try with the empty container." Biana said half heartedly, sitting on the ground and not caring about the dirt on the floor.
Lihn was beside her, sobbing silently into her hands.
And then a huge, rediculus smile that did not match the mood of the room spread across Dex's face. He jumped down from the hey bail, and Marella saw him reach into his pocket-a different one than last time, and bring out two crystals, exactly like the ones he'd just given Forky.
And then Marella realized his plan. "Wait, so the other ones were... Fakes?"
A happy shreik filled the stable, and Lihn leaped from her spot on the ground, and into Dex's arms, hugging him tight. "You're AMAZING!" she cried, happy tears falling from her face.
Something swelled in Marella's chest. Hope.
There was somethining else, too, something that felf just a little bit like jealousy, when Dex blushed at Lihn's embrace. But she decided to ignore that, and focus on the hope.
They were FINALLY getting somewhere.
And maybe, just maybe, this was the key to defeating the enemy.
Keefe was antsy. He felt jittery, and excited, in a way that it all his time running off on dangerous adventures, he'd never felt before. Something deep inside him said 'this is it'.
So as he waited outside the gleaming gates of everglen, he couldn't stop himself from pacing, back and forth. The others were supposed to be here any minute, and then they'd split into two groups, one group for each crystal. Who was in each group was to be determined, but Keefe already knew who he was going with, and had cooked up the best agument he could think of to prove why.
"Kid, calm down, you're gonna give me a migrane." Ro drawled from her hiding spot up in a nearby tree.
Keefe turned to face her. "You know I can see your foot hanging down."
"Shut up. No one else will." she told him. "And for the LOVE, stop it with the pacing!"
Keefe ignored her, as a beam of light concentrated before him. The particles inside it swirled into place, forming the shape of an elf. Dex stepped out from the beam, without his bodygaurd.
"Are we the only ones here?" he asked, looking around.
The strawberry blonde glanced at his wrist. "Everyone's late." he said disprovongly.
Dex looked up. "Oh, hey, Ro."
Keefe couldn't stop himself from smiling just a little bit, especially when Ro didn't say anything, but retreated further into her tree, pouting.
Another beam of light shimmered into existance, just a few feet away from where Keefe and Dex now stood, waiting. Marella stepped out of the beam, looking stony faced and determined and maybe just a little bit intimidating.
"Hey, guys." She said.
Keefe tipped a salute as Dex walked over to her and began talking. The paln was than if they all werent at the meeting place within ten minutes, those who were would asssume something was wrong, and light leap back home emmediatly.
If Sophie, Lihn, Fitz and Biana weren't at the gates within four minutes, they'd have to abandon the mission. Luckily, Biana and Fitz stepped out from the gates.
"Sorry we're late." Biana told him. "We had to cause a... diversion."
Keefe raised his eyebrows. "Oh really? What'd you do?"
Fitz smiled. "The giant aquarium in my dad's office... let's just say the glass chipped."
Keefe put a hand on his chest, looking appaled. "And you didn't invite me?!"
Another beam of light shimmered into veiw, and Lihn stepped out.
"Waiting on Foster." Keefe whispered to himself.
"As usual." Fitz added.
They waited in silence, Keefe counting the seconds off. If Sophie wsn't here within two minutes...
She'd be there. Keefe had faith in that. When had Foster ever failed him? His beliefes were proved true when Sophie fell from the sky. She managed to catch herself with telikenesis, but Keefe held out his arms, ready to catch her anyway.
She was panting a bit. "We're all here." she stammered, ans she lowered herself to the ground.
"Now we are." Keefe told her.
"So" Dex said, "Who wants to go to the forbidden cities?"
"I'm going wherever Sophie's going." Fitz announced. He flashed a smile when Sophie blushed.
"Me too." Keefe said.
Fitz rolled his eyes. Of course Keefe would try and come along. He was sutch a...
His thoughts were interrupted when Dex spoke. "I get that we all want to chose our partners, but we should really look at this in a logical way. Who will work best together, and who will work best in the environment that they're sent to."
"Uh, we're Cognates, so it's obvious that I should go with Sophie." Fitz pointed out, shooting Keefe a look, wanring him not to tease.
"I agree with that, and I've prepared a list of who's going with who." Dex pulled a slip of paper from one of his many pockets, and read from it. "There are two crystals, and there are seven of us, so I split us into two groups, that way we can tackle more in a shorter time frame. Sophie's going to the forbidden city, because she's a polygot, and her expirience with humans could benifit her there. Fitz is going with for... obvious reasons."
Fitz let out a breath he'd been holding in.
"And Keefe is going with them." Dex continued. "Because of his connection to the green door, and the possibility that wherever you end up might be connected to that and revive some memories."
Fitz saw Keefe smile, and a bitter feeling rose up in his heart.
"The second group will be me, Lihn, Biana, and Marella." Dex announced. He put the paper back in the pocket he'd taken it from, and brought ot the two crystals.
Everyone was quiet as Dex carried the blue crystal to Sophie, who took it and stared at it for a moment, eyes wide. Dex nodded, letting them know that now was the time. So Sophie and Dex raised the crystals in unison, and Fitz could sense in his bones that when they next reunited, things would have changed.
Because the beams of light that shimmered down before them were going to take them to answers.
To more questions.
She stepped out of the light, and into darkness. Not total blacknes, but dim, and poisonous nonetheless. From beside her, Dex held up a bottle of luminescent algae, and soft blue light illuminated their path. From what Biana could see, it was a forest, swampy, grey, muddy. It reminded her of the decay that the plague had brought on certain forests when it had been unleashed on the Gnomes.
Everything rotting, but alive.
It was cold, too, and Biana emmediately got the sense that they weren't alone.
"Real nice place." Marella said, brushing off her cloak. "Gem of real estate."
"Stay focused, guys." Dex reminded them, his eyes on a dirt path before them.
They approached the pathway, which lead into a thicket, almost like a hallway made of trees. It might have been pretty if it was alive, but instead it was withering. Dex lead, his algae brightening the path.
"Where do you think this leads?" Biana asked.
"No idea." Dex told her as he stepped into the thicket. "But I think we're on the right track."
Biana kept quiet for the rest of the way, not able to shake the feeling that someone was watching her. And then, abrupty, Dex stopped in front of her and she fell backwards.
"Hey!" Biana said as she fell on her butt from being nocked over.
But Dex wasn't listening, at the moment, he was waving his arms in the air, as though trying to catch his balance. Biana looked, and saw that he was standing on the edge of a cliff.
Biana didn't hesitate to grab him by his arm and pull him back. Lihn and Marella helped, too.
"That was... unexpected." Lihn said, looking shaken.
Dex was staring at the cliff, his eyes narrowed. "Something's off." He said, pushing himself to his feet.
"What?" Biana asked.
The boy steped foreward, growing dangerously close to the edge and peering down. Biana dared herself to look, even though she knew that was the last thing she should have done. Her breath got caught in her lungs, and he felt herself go pale. If she were to fall from this hight, she might be falling for hours...
They might have been able to levetate to the other side of the cliff, but looking now, it was WAY to far away, and none of their concentration was strong enough to last that long.
"Something's off." Dex repeated.
"Very interesnting." Marella announced. "Care to tell us what the Everblaze you're talking about?"
Dex didn't look up. "My foot... I was standing on the air... not possible."
And then, the boy lifted his foot off of the edge, and moved it foreward.
"NO!" All three girls shouted at the same time.
But then he didn't fall... and Biana almost fainted. He was standing on air.
Biana was shocked when he smiled. "It's an illusion!" He jumped up and down a couple times to further his point. Biana nearly threw up.
Lihn was the next to step off the cliff, looking reasonably happy. Marella did it after her. Finally, Biana lifted her foot from the ground, and placed it on what seemed to be thin air. And then she felt something hard... like ground.
She sighed, relieved.
"Let's keep going." She said.
So they continued, making their way to the other side of the crater, each step that they took one step closer to the truth.
Chapter 20 (Wow this is a long fanfic):
London. Sophie recognized it emmediatly. Aside from Big Ben, sitting majesticlally on the horizon, she could tell from the atmosphere. There was a lot of smog, and the buildings were all smushed together and painted diversely. The road was packed with traffic, mostly taxis, and that wasn't exactly a good thing seeing as that was where they ended up.
Sophie turned, trying to spot a rout out of the street. Cars honked, and brittish cabbies did as well. Sophie took Fitz and Keefe's hands and began dragging tham out from the street.
"People are real friendly around here, arent they." Keefe said as a weedy looking cabby with a ciggarette poked his head out the window of is car and began shouting at them. Most of the words were NOT pg rated.
"London, huh?" Fitz said as they stepped onto the side walk, which was also crowded. "I came here once, looking for you."
Fitz nodded. "I never liked it here. To rowdy and dirty."
Souphie understood what he meant. Litter could be seen every ten feet, and it was extremely loud. Sophie was glad that she could block out human thoughts now, otherwise she might have been colapsed on the floor, suffering from a migrane.
"It's not SO bad." Keefe interjected, eyeing the lamp posts lining the street and the food vendors on the other side of the road.
"We need to focus." Sophie reminded herself. "Look for clues that might lead to something... Neverseenish."
"We should also try to blend in..." Fitz pointed out.
Sophie glanced around. Poeple were staring, probably at their outfits, which looked nothing short of royal, and possibly at their faces too. Elves were known for being naturally stunning.
"He's right." Keefe said. "We need to lose the fancy threads."
Sophie sighed. "Okay, fine. I didn't bring any money..." She ripped a jeweled button from her tunic. "This will have to do."
They headed to the nearest store they could find that sold clothes. It was a gift shop. They each took a shirt, and when Sophie offered the man behind the chash register the gem, he accepted, slightly confused, and pocketed the treasure. Sophie was to buisy to stop him.
"What now?" Fitz asked, five minutes later as they stood outside the shop, all in T shirts that read "I Love London" with a litte heart instead of the word love. Keefe's shirt was several sizes too big, and gave him a mangy kind of look. Fitz had chosen one that was just a tad too tight, defining his muscles nicely. Sophie had to force herself not to stare.
"Clues. We need to look for clues." Sophie mumbled.
"Like that?" Keefe was pointing to a lamp post. Upon furthur inspection, Sophie saw a star, branded into the metal near the base... Lodestar.
They walked up to it, bending down to see the mark closer. Sophie couldn't help smiling. This was it. She ran her fingers over the brand, and pressed down on it.
Emmediatly, there was change. A circular oening expanded around the base of the lamp post, and the post itself began to lower into the ground.
It was getting dark, and as they finally stepped onto what appeared to be the other side of the canyon. LIhn's legs were aching, and she felt like she might faint.
They'd been walking for four hours. The others had begged her to take a break, but she kept going. And so did they. Lihn had promised herself that she wouldn't stop walking till they found something. But as the sun sank behind the forest canopy, she colapsed.
Lihn heard the thuds of her friends falling to their knees, and the groans.
"So, can we just... camp here for the night?" Marella's voice was weak sounding.
"We can take two hours to sleep, but then we have to keep going. Remember, we can't be gone for more than a day, and we don't know how mutch farther we have to walk." Dex told her.
"I'm just going to hail my dad ant tell him Fitz and I are spending the night at Sophie's." Biana mumbled.
"I wouldn't." Dex yawned. "Sophie's gone, too, remember?"
Lihn layed herself down on the ground, not wanting to close her eyes, not wanting to give in to rest while Tam was still in danger. Those words he'd said to her, while she'd been in his mind, they were weighing on her.
Night spread over the forest, but Lihn had learned not to be afraid of the dark.
Slow breathing and the occasional snore informed Lihn that the others were asleep. She got up, brushing the filth from her tunic and stretching, preparing to walk.
She wasn't going to stray far... she just wanted to be alone with the darkness. Her foot treads were noiseless, even over the crunchy leaves that flaked over the ground, and she slipped into the night.
Lihn didn't know how far she'd walked, when she heard a sob. She froze, holding her breath. It came again, from in front of her, behind a wall of forest. Lihn edged closer to where the noise wsa coming from. Peeking through the foliage, she saw a shiluette of someone bent over on their knees.
"Please." They groaned. "You don't understand. They're my family."
And then someone stepped out of the trees in front of the figure, shrouded in a hood. "Something must be done. They are too great assets to the Moonlark, and they are too close to discovering the truth." Lihn recognized the voice as that of Lady Gisela.
"Just take them hostage, or anything, just not THIS." the figure on the ground was bowing down, begging.
"When you joined us, you promised that affection for your family would not hinder your ability to serve. Now I'm asking you to serve, and I think you may have lied to me, Alvar."
"I'll do anything! Anything else!" Alvar cried.
"Yes," Gisela said coldly. "You will." The woman made a beckoning gesture, and from behind her, another cloaked figue melted out fo the shadows. Lihn's heart skipped a beat. Tam?
"Shade," Gisela said to Tam, still looking down at Alvar, "Show this spoiled brat what real pain feels like."
And then Tam grasped the shadows around him, they ripped like black silk in the night. He raised them up to his chest, and thrust his hands out, sending the darkness through the air, and into Alvar.
A writhing, shuttering scream peirced the night.
And Lihn ran with all her strength back to the others, tears streaming down her face.