Joined: 16 Feb 2005
|Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:35 am Post subject: Finite Cosmos Chapters 12-15
|Chp12: Group Divided
Leaving the grassy field behind us, we traveled further up the winding stream. I attempted to convince Aanira to share her concerns with the rest of the group, but she refused. She left the impression that her insecurities embarrassed her, and expressed the idea that our companions would not understand anymore than I had understood.
“I wish I’d never brought it up,” she moaned. “I should have just hidden and hoped you’d gone on without me.”
“That’s unreasonable! We would never have simply left you behind. I’ll think of something,” I assured my friend.
Free of the oppressive Mainland forest, our pace had grown leisurely along the smooth terrain bordering the narrow stream. As I mulled over Aanira’s problem, I formed a tiny ball of Light in the palm of my hand. The magic felt cool and substantial as it bounced softly off my fingertips, and Aanira’s concern faded momentarily as I focused on the nature of my magic in a way that I had failed to before.
Until now the Magics had seemed an unfathomable and uncontrollable force, conjured and released by my people to fulfill a purpose without further manipulation, like a tumbling boulder pushed over the edge of a hill and allowed to roll down wherever gravity would pull it. My struggle with Holden had opened my eyes to a new realization, one that my instructors had attempted to guide me into long ago; I could control the path of my magic, if I followed it with my desire.
Holden’s mastery of Curse impressed me. He had held the dynamic, writhing orb with such ease once released, manipulating the magic with invisible puppeteer’s strings. I had always conjured the Light, focused its energy as best I could, and thrown it from me towards the target as if launching a ball. When targeting Holden’s Curse, however, I’d held on to the energy and guided it to the target. The sensation had been very different, and disturbingly personal.
My Light faded away as I examined the latticework of scarred flesh patterned on my arm. I had felt stronger at the time with my magic flowing from me, until the angry black fingers of Holden’s magic had seared its way beneath my skin. I had experienced his magic as something alive, and had felt his connection to it. I’d never felt any target before, no connection to what I intended to damage or destroy. The implications intrigued and repulsed me, and I wondered if the Magics were by nature always so invasive.
I formed another tiny glowing orb of Light, which I palmed like a marble, as my thoughts returned again to Aanira and the tree village ahead. I thought it unfair to try and force her to come with us. What if she was correct about the reactions of the tree people? Many camps of the Mainland harbored prejudice, but that was a wide-sweeping enmity, which extended to anyone outside of their own pack. What Aanira suggested was bigotry of a different kind that I still struggled to comprehend.
I remained unwilling to leave her behind alone. Although the Wise White Witch had said that our strength rested in our unity, I toyed with the idea of splitting our group apart. If the tree people presented as unfriendly, it might prove wise to have a group of our friends outside the village to come aid us if necessary. These notions were foreign to my typical thoughts, and I discarded my tiny ball of magic and caught up with Asher to discuss the matter.
“The White Witch said we should stay together,” Asher frowned as he worked the idea of splitting the group over in his mind. “Again why do you think it necessary to divide?”
I did not want to break Aanira’s confidence and voice her concerns, so I feigned a mistrust of the tree people that I could not actually feel. I consoled myself with the logic that these feelings might really be valid.
“If the people in this village are unfriendly, Asher, then it might be a good thing if we all aren’t subject to their mercies.”
“Very well then, Thinker. Decide how we should split, and tonight at camp we’ll discuss this with the group.” He looked ahead, across the far horizon, where tiny tendrils of smoke snaked their ways into the sky. We would gain the village in another day’s travel, so if some of us were to remain behind tonight would be the time to plan.
Holden’s presence in my mind became immediately apparent as he spoke into my thoughts, “I will go with you.”
I wondered how long he had been inside my head, and I felt violated. It angered me that he could just slip in without my awareness now, and that my defenses against him appeared to grow increasingly weaker. Again I pushed myself into his thoughts, stumbling as I did. Holden walked up beside me and placed his arm around my waist. Certain that Knute and Asher closely watched us, I foundered in the sea of Holden’s thoughts, unable to reassure them that everything was all right.
I fought to gain bearing in the churning and disordered atmosphere of Holden’s mind. His thoughts tumbled in various directions, opposing the natural order of my own way of thinking. He did not push me away this time, but I could sense him watching me in amusement as I flailed haplessly about. I grasped snatches of his thoughts and memories, many of them the same as I shared from our childhood, but I did not have the capacity at this moment to wonder if my recollections of our childhood over the past few days had come from my own sub-consciousness, or if he had slipped them in.
I pulled myself from this churning sea, and hovered at the edge of his mind. I tried to map the patterns of his thought, to discern distinct pathways of information, but the myriad images flew past me at lightening speed.
“You are learning,” I heard him whisper as he pushed me from his mind.
Slowly I became aware of my surroundings again. I walked with support from Knute now. His strong arm wrapped around my waist and concerned eyes peered at my face as we slowly ambled behind the others.
“Do you need to stop, Chakra?” he asked.
“No, I’ll be fine. I just felt a little dizzy. It has passed.” I slipped my arm through his and we walked quietly together for a great while.
Nightfall stalked across the horizon, slipping silently through the clear skies and leaving scattered purple paw prints against a deepening crimson background. Beside a small grove of fruiting trees, Asher decided to stop and make camp. The overripe fruit sweetened the air with promises of rest and a quenching of hunger. I mulled over those who should stay behind as I unpacked our sleeping mats from the cart.
I wanted to go. I did not think it prudent to include myself based on just that wish. I shouldn’t view this selection as who I should take with me, but rather as who would be best to make contact with unknown peoples, and who would be best to come to aid the others if that contact went wrong. I was unused to thinking in those terms, and as yet uncertain that such logic was even warranted. Perhaps I was naive and too trusting.
My own curiosity won me over, and I decided to travel to the tree village. Ordoc had always done well with negotiations amongst the packs of the Mainland, so I wanted to take him with me. Aanira spoke to Seani the most, other than speaking to me, and since this whole effort began with her comfort in mind, I decided that Seani would stay with Aanira. I also reasoned that taking both the leader and guide into the tree village might not prove wise, but this assumption placed greater emphasis on my role as a guide. I reconciled the discomfort that assumption brought, and determined that Asher should stay behind.
Knute and Holden remained, and I knew that I wanted to get away from Holden for a time. This compulsion disturbed me deeply, that my desires and decisions were focused more on my feelings about Holden, than on my feelings about Knute. I wanted less to be with Knute, than what I wanted to be away from Holden. I forced my mind not to puzzle on this, with some effort. I finally decided that Ordoc, Knute, and I would travel ahead to contact the tree people. If that contact went well, then we would return for the others. We discussed this plan over our evening meal, and to my great surprise and relief, no one objected.
“Thank you,” Aanira quietly whispered before easing onto her sleeping mat.
I slipped silently into the grove of trees to practice my Light magic, far enough from the others that I might not be discovered. Juicy rotting pulp squished between my toes as I made my way through the squat, gnarled arbor, intensifying the heady scent of fruit hanging thickly in the darkening atmosphere. I focused the negative energies of my black magic, marveling again at the soft glow that such dark power emitted. The power danced about my hands as I searched for a suitable target.
I released the Light onto a nearby tree, concentrating on following the magic, maintaining contact with the energy as it sailed through the air and onto the rough bark. The glowing force soaked into the crevasses of the woody surface, and the tree groaned. An involuntary gasp escaped my lips as I felt the groan, rather than hearing an audible utterance, and I recoiled from the magic as it inflicted this pain on the perennial plant. Several fat fruits hit the ground with sickening plops as the branches shuddered.
The experience of the tree’s odd pain rushed through my body, imparting an erotic satisfaction that nevertheless appalled me. My skin tingled with the sensation and power, and a sweat glistened on my body in the strengthening glow from the moon. Nausea warred with desire for control of my emotional and physical states, and for a few tense moments I remained unsure of which reaction would triumph. Eventually the urge to vomit faded, and I made my way back to the camp, too over-stimulated to practice further.
Vivid nightmares haunted my sleep, as the voices of the trees accused me while their heavily burdened limbs pelted me with putrid fruit. In the center of this dreamed chaos, the glowing tree groaning under my Light magic pled for help. I startled awake with a small cry, and looked around at my dozing companions.
In my forced state of alertness, I heard the plea for help again, a clear and frightened voice that definitely came from a person, and not a tree. Holden’s thoughts entered mine, and for once I didn’t care.
“We should go investigate,” he impressed upon my mind, and I saw the darkened grove of trees through his vision, wavering in the moonlight.
He crossed the camp stealthily to stand by my side, and pulled me to my feet without a word. I continued to grasp his hand as we walked towards the trees.
“Should we wake our companions first?” I sent into our thoughts.
Chapter 13 Plea from the Trees
Holden disregarded my query concerning the waking of our companions, but I followed him into the grove of trees. The voice continued to cry for help, sounding masculine and very near. As we walked cautiously through the laden branches, the fruity aroma assaulting our heightened sense of smell, the pleas seemed to drift further away and at times sounded almost feminine.
“It sounds like my father,” Holden impressed upon me, confusion and suspicion coloring the thought. I listened closer to the cries with renewed interest and caution.
“Please, someone help me,” the voice called again, sounding a bit further away than before, and distinctly resembling the wispy voice of the Wise White Witch.
“What is this?” I wondered into our shared thoughts, unconsciously squeezing Holden’s hand that I continued to cling to.
We stopped and surveyed our present surroundings. Our journey had taken us further from the camp than we’d realized, and the trees here clustered closer together. Thick green orbs covered in dripping ooze had replaced the succulent and edible fruit of the trees close to where we camped. A sickly sweet scent emanated from the tacky liquid.
“Help me,” the feminine voice pleaded once more, sounding closer and more urgent.
“I don’t know what this is,” Holden silently shared. A tangible unease crept over us, and we moved closer together in the dark. “Let’s find out who or what calls for help, and get out of here.”
We took a few wary steps in the direction the plea last came from. The ground under our feet shifted, somewhat like a cloth being pulled from beneath us. I stumbled but quickly regained balance, my hand slipping from Holden’s as he fell to the earth. The leaves, soil, sticks and other debris carpeting the floor where we had stood moved as a single unit, quickly climbing the trunk of the nearest tree and swaddling the plant. A metallic clinking punctuated the air along with my startled utterances and Holden’s heavy breathing.
Thick linked ropes wrapped around the tree, but I’d never seen ropes such as these. These ropes linked together like the thinly knotted blades of grass that Veronici crafted when making necklaces of flowers to hang around our shoulders, but unlike those weak chains these looked strong and heavy. The natural debris from the ground fell away as the wrapped tree shook like a beast emerging from the water. Vile instruments swung with weighted pendulous motion from the ends of some of these chains. The snapping crack of breaking wood screamed out from the tree, and an even louder tearing ripped the air as the roots uplifted from the ground.
The thing appeared ponderous and slow, but moved quickly once freed from the confines of the soil. A thick blade swung out towards me, and pain seared my side as the flesh gaped open. I gasped and my hand clasped my side, and I felt hot blood flowing from the gash left by the monster. “Help me, please,” the abomination cried.
Holden’s audible voice reached my ears, “Damnation!”
I tore my eyes from the monster to spare a look at Holden. Chains wrapped around his ankles and were climbing up his legs, connected to those links that enveloped the tree. Other chains held his wrists tightly to the ground. His eyes met mine with an urgent plea.
“Go for help,” he instructed.
I backed further away from the monster, which seemed to momentarily ignore me as it focused attentions on Holden. The chains wrapped tighter and higher on his legs and arms, and a huge spiked ball landed beside him with an ominous thud. Holden struggled to free himself, and a chuckle gurgled from somewhere inside the mass of links strangling what once stood as a tree.
I wavered between following Holden’s instructions and running for assistance, or attacking the creature. I wasn’t certain how far away the camp was, and the need was immediate. I focused the negative energies around me.
“What are you doing? Ru...” An ever-tightening chain cut off Holden’s voice. I continued concentrating, vaguely aware as Holden’s panicked thoughts invaded my mind.
He forced calmness into his thoughts, and reassured me. “Concentrate, follow the magic. You wield some power. Free me and I will help you destroy this thing.”
Light magic glowed from both palms, weighty and pulsing for me to free it. The odd pain of the tree I’d practiced on returned to my mind, along with the heady arousal at touching it with my magic. My skin tingled with the memory, and responded as if experiencing the actual sensation. I looked at the mass of chains looming before us. Inside that unusual construct was a tree, its shredded and bruised limbs poking out from between the chains. Sticky crimson sap oozed between the links, dripping down the confining chains and a few remaining leaves.
I released the Light and followed its path. The brilliant glow of the magic contacted the creature and spread along the chains before sinking between the links into the core. I could feel the dual agony of the plant inside, groaning at the constricting chains and screaming as I assaulted its living tissue with the Light. My first instinct was to recoil from this contact, but I persisted. I steadied my shaking arms, which ached with the burden of the energies I held. Connected to the tree, entwined with the tree’s living tissue, was a presence far more sinister than just the plant alone.
I invaded this dark entity with my magic, shifting the focus of the energies I wielded onto its blackened presence. I screamed as I felt this thing lunge towards me, traveling the path of my magic much like Holden’s Curse had done. My every perception amplified at that moment. I could hear Holden’s labored gasping and the clinking of chains. I could smell the ripe fruit, my own sweaty skin, Holden’s unique scent, and the sweet sap from the bruised tree inside the chains. My excited skin could feel the rough earth beneath my soles, a slight wind brushing my hair, and the fabric of my clothing as it rubbed against my breasts and hips. I considered it odd that I noticed these things.
I wavered on the brink of consciousness, straining to hold my attacker at bay. My concentration began to falter, and I knew that whatever presence had taken over the tree would now gleefully crush me. I saw it without the covering of earth, debris, and chains. A gnarled brown demon reached out for me. As my vision narrowed into a tunnel, I saw a billowing dark energy forming behind the demon, the feathery wings of a Curse. The glowing Light energies clashed against the black fingers of the Curse, with the foul monster sandwiched between the magics.
Surprise flickered momentarily on the demon’s face, soon replaced by a silent scream. It abandoned its pursuit of me in favor of fleeing, which proved an effort come too late. The form the demon had assumed fell away as its life dissipated, leaving behind a gummy brown puddle. The chains lay discarded along with the uprooted tree. Holden stood with coiled chains resting on his feet.
“You did it,” he said, offering a tired smile. “You made it loosen its chains and I struggled free. I think we killed it.”
I vomited. Holden swirled a stick in the muddy brown puddle that the creature had left behind. There was no way to tell if that was the true form of the monster, or if it was actually alive or dead. We could hear our companions approaching, calling out for us as they made their way through the grove.
“We are here,” Holden announced, and I heard our friends move towards our position.
Asher and Seani arrived first, both on edge and prepared for confrontation. They had heard my screams and the sounds of our struggle. Ordoc, Knute, and Aanira soon joined us, examining the chains and listening to the tale. I remained quiet, sobbing in Knute’s embrace, as Holden related the events. The first weak light of dawn peered through the branches onto the scene.
Knute cupped my chin in his hand, turning my face up to look into his concerned eyes. “Why’d you come out here alone?”
I didn’t know how to answer him. I hadn’t thought clearly before stepping into the trees with Holden. I should have awakened the others, or at least Knute. What had led me to the decision I’d finally made?
I wished that I’d asked Bathini to come with us. She had practiced the black magics, gathering the negative energies of Light and Shadow. I wasn’t certain, but I felt that a clear distinction existed between the sensations felt by the caster of negative energies and the caster of positive energies. The only other person in our group that practiced dark arts was Holden.
I lamely offered the truth, “I don’t know, Knute.” We returned to our camp and moved away from the grove of fruit trees, closer toward our destination.
“What do you think that was that attacked you?” Asher asked as we journeyed.
“I have no idea,” I responded. I hadn’t considered it anything more than another foul creature. I was tired and my mind protested at this forced conversation.
“Those chains were not natural. Someone crafted them. They didn’t grow from some animal or plant. And both you and Holden said you heard a call for help, in a language and voice you recognized,” Asher continued.
Midday approached, and soon we would split into the groups I’d advised. I mulled over the implications of what Asher had said. We had brought along some of the chains from the attack. I could hear them clinking in the back of our cart. I wondered anew what had attacked us, and why. I missed the Wise White Witch and her guidance from the Keeper.
Chapter 14 Tesla
My mind stirred with the echoes of memories; ideas that, when voiced, Eaerta assured me were only dreams. We toiled side by side in relative silence, Eaerta and I, obediently tending to menial tasks. Her hushed words guided me and reminded me of my position in life, something which I had apparently forgotten. I felt that I must have forgotten many things.
My eyes cast ever downward, so as to avoid meeting the gazes of my superiors, I delivered trays of food from the kitchens to the great open-air patio. I tidied after the elite who leisurely passed the time lounging on the patio. Eaerta knelt beside me, her long multi-hued wings brushing the paving stones we scrubbed. In the closing moments of the day, I removed my plain frock as bidden and submitted to the lusts of whoever asked, because such was required of me and of the other slaves.
Staring fixedly at the ceiling of leaves above me, I ignored the painful attentions of the two people abusing my body while my tearful eyes searched for the stars. The swirling mist that filled my mind with bizarre yet somehow familiar images twined its way down from the twinkling points of light overhead, and offered up those visions that Eaerta cautioned me to dismiss. I much preferred to believe the voice of the mist than the fearful words of Eaerta.
The voice of the mist found its way to me almost nightly, showing me scraps from a different life that I found much more desirable than the wretched existence of my present reality. Concepts of friendship and higher purpose trickled from the stars overhead and filled my brain, and the heavy breathing and coarse language of my tormentors faded into distant blackness. The voice called me Chakra, and I puzzled over the name. I was known as Tesla, and I was a lowly slave.
With the day’s tasks completed and our services no longer requested, the overseer escorted the slaves to sparse quarters and chained us to the beds. Today had passed like countless others, and my weary soul had no capacity to wonder how many innumerable days I’d suffered this way. I allowed that voice to whisper to me once more, and the entity that identified itself as the Keeper continued the tale of this other life.
“So familiar,” I thought, amused by what I suspected a mere reverie. “So real.”
The quiet inner voice spoke, resuming the fairytale from the point left off the night before. So much information delivered in breakers of thought, with understanding trickling into the cracked sands of my tired brain as the sounds of the Keeper washed back out to sea. Tonight’s revelation offered a frightening creature, formed from chains choking a tree. Sleep consumed my tired mind, filled with fretful dreams.
The clinking of chains startled me to wakefulness, along with the fading memories of a soft, wispy voice. An eerie glow emitted from my palms, and the other slaves around me stared in fright.
“No, no!” Eaerta exclaimed, shaking her head and waving her hands in a paddling motion. “You mustn’t, Tesla. They will punish us all.”
The energies dissipated into the shadows of the night, and as the others drifted back into slumber I lay awake, searching for answers to a life I did not understand. For one more countless time I felt I did not belong here, and I waited for him to contact me again. I didn’t have to wait long.
“Chakra,” he called out to me, the same name as the Keeper used. My heart leapt with excitement and obscure, unidentifiable emotions at his contact. “How was your day?”
Such innocuous questions from this other. I told him of the day’s visions, and of my disturbing dream. He listened quietly from within our shared thoughts, but I didn’t worry whether or not he remained present and attentive. I could feel him inside of me.
“Then your visions are completed, at least those visions from your past,” he offered softly. “Except for one last day, a few final moments. Can you remember anything on your own, without the knowledge given you by the Keeper?”
He had asked that before, and I could feel him pressing against a blackness in my mind, some blank wall obstructing access to what I suspected might prove a vital part of me. His claws ripped painfully inside my head, tearing yet another time at this obstacle to the Chakra he believed he knew. I cried out in agony.
“Stop, Holden,” I gasped aloud. “You are hurting me.”
Tonight he did not stop, and Eaerta suppressed my screams with the palm of her hand, her eyes wide in terror and her body pinning me to the bed. The chains around our ankles rattled noisily, like the chains from that creature that choked the trees, and my mind flooded in agonizing revelations. The facade of Tesla washed away with the rending of the dam choking my thoughts, and I saw Holden swept away in the current of remembrance he’d unleashed.
Ordoc, Knute, and I had separated from the others and headed towards the tree village, anxious to make contact with new people. The people we encountered proved friendly and gracious, welcoming us openly to their village. Some conversed casually with us, intrigued by our journey, while many others tended to our needs. I worried about these carers, so humble and reserved, but I refrained from judging the culture of people I did not understand. My conversations with Aanira had taught me tolerance.
A page was sent for the rest of our party, and they arrived late in the evening to a warm welcome as well. Aanira’s fears proved unfounded. Our group was one member short; Holden had left soon after I had set off with Ordoc and Knute.
“Good riddance,” Seani had whispered aside to me. “I never understood your friendship with him.”
We chatted long about our quest, and the troubles that we had encountered. Our gracious hosts had listened intently, amused and delighted by tales of grand adventure. We’d finished relating the challenges of the del-Nordes and the death of the Wise White Witch, before a humble woman escorted us to our sleeping arrangements. The first night passed peacefully.
The following day Asher broached the subject of the chained demon, and I hesitantly delivered a brief version of the story to a hushed audience. Their unexpected silence cautioned me, and I attempted not to reveal too much. Apparently what I had revealed was more than adequate to cause strife. Or perhaps not detailed enough to dispel doubt. The atmosphere transfigured perceptibly and pointed questions were asked.
At that my memories ceased abruptly, with warm drinks delivered and consumed before a blackness fell. I now faced another dawn as Tesla. The overseer poked brusquely at Eaerta with a baton, and she moved from atop my pinned form where she had finally fallen back asleep.
Chapter 15 Salvation and Loss
Three more days passed as I continued to maintain the guise of Tesla, chafing at the maltreatment of the slaves. DryWeather had terminated, and I remained uncertain how far into the GailWeather time had progressed. How much of my life had the tree people stolen? I also struggled to reestablish contact with Holden and to compel a vision from the Keeper, but met with little success. When opportunity allowed, I searched the faces of the slaves for my friends, but could not find any of them here.
The slaves answered my questions mostly with terrified stares and mute fears. I managed to find out that the tree people, the Miflim, viewed the chained demon as some sort of demigod, and when this creature contacted you it meant that you had sinned and needed atonement. I speculated that my enslavement represented a step in my personal salvation. No one I spoke with knew where the demon originated from, except for conjecture that the evil of Aetna spawned the creature.
The large city of Aetna lay close to the eroding expanse of the Unknown Realm, still over a season’s journey from here. Accounts of the city were sketchy at best. Eaerta told me that my friends had been taken there, but she did not know why. They had not heard the voice of the demon.
As this third day of my reawakening drew to a close, I glimpsed Holden on the vast patio conversing with the Miflim. He appeared well known and welcomed amongst the elite, and my weary thoughts searched through the memories of my time as Tesla. I had never looked upon anyone’s face as a slave, but from my now advantaged perspective I believed that Holden had spent many nights with the Miflim, and many nights in the company of Tesla. My eyes searched his face and met with his eyes, and he chastised me with a stern frown. I quickly returned my glance to the ground and continued with my tasks.
“Come with me,” Holden commanded, and I obediently followed, as Tesla would have. We wandered beneath the canopy and into a secluded room, where Holden forced me onto a cushioned mat in the floor.
Tesla had enjoyed Holden, his caresses delivered tenderly and without pain or torment. However, I remembered old doubts about Holden and unwillingness immediately gripped me. I pushed against his chest and asked him to stop.
“Why haven’t you contacted me?” I demanded instead, but he clamped a strong hand over my mouth and pierced my mind with his eyes.
“Because you keep me out, and I don’t even think you mean to,” he whispered softly, his ideas far from my own at this moment. “Now be quiet and submit, like you’re expected to.”
No one lingered in this obscure location to witness my protest or uncharacteristic behavior. I struggled beneath him, thrashing my head in an effort to free my mouth and speak. He did not care.
“Hmmm,” he groaned softly, forcing into me with maddening ease, as I lay helpless. “I am glad you are aware now Chakra, that you know I am me.”
I was not glad, and this violation insulted me more than any hardship I’d endured as Tesla. In anger I pushed into his head, connecting our thoughts as I’d wanted to do these past few nights, but the intent of this communication proved vastly different than what last evening’s might have been.
“Get off me,” my mind hissed, and his laughter grated on my jangled nerves.
“You never minded as Tesla,” he mused.
“As Tesla I was a slave.”
He doubled his enthusiasm, perversely enjoying my struggles. “Yes, you were too compliant. I like you now, and I want you to thrash about, to fight me.”
His crass mockery of me deflated my protests, and I quietly withdrew inside myself and waited for this to end. Eventually it did.
Holden’s thoughts entered mine, and he laughed at my horrified acceptance of his intrusion. He shared images of the passage of time, moments lost as I lived as Tesla. Holden had found a gateway to Aetna, a portal that dispensed with distance and time, and he spoke of an ally to help us find our companions.
“You will come with me through the gate,” he stated without consulting me. “Tonight when the Miflim sleep, we will meet with Corona and she will lead us there.”
My heart leapt at the thought of reuniting with my friends, of leaving behind this horrid life of servitude. I also wanted to escape Holden now though, and for the first time through all our trials I genuinely wished that I had not asked that he come along.
*Most images retrieved online and altered from artists' original work.
*Holden image by City of IF's luvd, with many thanks for his contribution.