A/N: Hi everyone. I posted another early chapter since I won’t be online next week. This one here’s a bit more about what Louis has been up to leading to where chapter 25 (thanks for the likes by the way) left off. All chapters are self-edited, so I apologize for the technical errors you may find. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
Louis shoved strands of brown hair in his pocket. All he had to do now was have it tested. The results would force his father to admit the truth. His hand traveled to the photo he kept in his other pocket. His eyes widened as he realized it was gone. Louis cursed at his carelessness while he wracked his brains of where he might have dropped it. Then, he remembered taking it out before Fred’s dark side reared its head. The item should be in the kitchen.
An hour later, Louis returned to Cheska’s bedroom. He ran a hand through his hair, berating himself again for negligence. This would be the last room he hadn’t searched yet. If it wasn’t here, he would have to accept that the picture was lost forever. Louis looked underneath the bed and found nothing, except for a discarded necklace with a slim silver whistle. A sense of familiarity had him reaching for it. He sat upright and pulled out its twin version from around his neck. Side by side, Louis noticed the differences: Cheska’s, a plain silver; while his, engraved with strange curlicues – symbols native to the Mysts. He squinted, trying to make out the writing when he suddenly felt lightheaded.
“No,” he murmured. Powerless, his Sight took him to the future.
Urn jars filled recesses of the walls around him. In front of him, he saw armed men file out of the gated tunnel. They wore desert fatigues and khaki-colored shemagh scarves wrapped around their heads and necks. None bore any identification of which country or organization they served. The weapons they carried were military-grade but small enough to be inconspicuous. Their movements were precise and efficient.
These aren’t regular soldiers, Louis thought. His eyes darted around him, searching for clues as to where the vision had taken him. “Where am I? Tell me where I am,” he said.
The scene changed. He was outside the park’s old chapel. The same group exited the building. One soldier pointed to three retreating figures, two of which had their comrade’s arms around each of them. The man at the right was a stark contrast to the person he was supporting. His head turned, eyes widening at the sight of the men from the chapel. They picked up pace but was encumbered by the limping figure at the middle. The soldiers began their pursuit. Louis, caught by the events before him, ran to block them from his friend. He collided against an invisible barrier and fell back to land in a much worse scenario.
“Louis,” Tony said, shaking him.
“No, this can’t be. No, no. no…” Louis repeated. His eyes, wide with unimaginable horror, continued to stare straight through the man holding him.
“Louis, wake up!” Tony slapped him hard.
The unseeing gaze left Louis. It flickered to Tony’s face and lowered to the hand still clasped around his upper arm. Louis twisted away, frowning. His cheek stung and had an idea how he was able to escape the visions.
Orienting himself with his surroundings, Louis realized he was standing at the door far from the bed. He registered the broken glass and the plain whistle on the floor near the nightstand.
“Geez. You can’t come in here and not break anything, can you?” Tony said wryly.
“What happened while I was–” he searched for a word to describe it “– out?” Louis picked up Cheska’s whistle and stowed it away.
“Sleepwalking now?” Tony chuckled. “I heard the noise, so I went to check it out and you literally crashed against me. That hurt, you know.” He rubbed at his chest. “Anyway, now that you’re done dreaming, let’s get you to the doctor’s pal. Cheska’s waiting there.”
“On doctor’s business.”
“Where?” Louis’ head snapped towards him.
“Not sure. I dropped him off near Cross Grove Park.”
Louis dialed Fred’s number on his phone while Tony watched him pace in agitation. He disconnected when it directed him to a video message. A string of expletives spewed from his mouth when the call still wouldn’t come through on the second attempt. He headed for the door.
“What are you doing?” Tony asked, barring the way.
“Leaving,” his tone clipped.
“Right. And where are we going?”
“We?” A small frown wrinkled Louis’ forehead. Tony stood stunned at the expression which mirrored Cheska’s when something bothered her. It had him studying and comparing Louis’ and the woman’s features. How could he have been blind to it?
Lost in his musings, Tony neither noticed the calculation enter Louis’ eyes nor the change in his stance.
“I’m sorry,” Tony heard the regret in the man’s voice and felt his breath knocked out of him. With a grunt, he slumped against Louis. He was dragged onto Cheska’s bed and searched for his car key.
“Crap,” Louis muttered, realizing his mistake. He didn’t know where the car was parked and what it looked like. Louis patted Tony again for an ID. Chauffeur companies embedded a chip in the driver’s ID to track the location of the employee and the vehicle. He turned him over and fished through back pockets. His hand snagged a thin rectangular object. Pulling it out, a photo of Tony awkwardly smiled at him. Louis pressed the small button on the top-right corner of the card. Tony’s face disappeared, replaced by a red arrow which pointed to the car’s location.
He drove maniacally to the ecumenical chapel. The front doors closed, Louis hoped he wasn’t too late as he rushed to the back door. The sight of Fred standing beside the foreigners eased his anxiety a little.
It hadn’t happened yet. He had to make sure it didn’t.
Underground, he skidded to a halt in front of the gate. Louis held the slim silver whistle hanging around his neck. His sister had given it to him a week after he almost died in one of the tunnels. There were strict instructions to use it only if his life was in peril while in the tunnel. Misused, the magic woven into the object would unravel. He pushed the gate open, stepped inside, and blew.
Not a sound pierced the air. Louis’ heart plummeted. Should he have waited for danger to come to him first? Nevertheless, the instrument was broken now. No help would come for him and his people. The tread of boots from afar had his pulse quickening. He left the tunnel and slid the bar of the gate. There was nothing to secure it further for no lock could hold an enchanted corridor. Men’s hushed voices bounced against the walls of the passageway. He looked up from the absent lock and saw a stag with an impressive set of antlers standing a few feet away.
“A-are you Strago? he asked softly, afraid that the creature would shy away and inadvertently alert the intruders. “Do you know Electra? She’s my sister. Did you come because of this?” Louis showed the whistle.
The stag stared at him. A noise broke its gaze. Its head swiveled to the direction of the sound, ear twitching.
“We need your help,” Louis said fiercely in a low voice. The creature’s head swiveled towards him. “They’re dangerous men. I don’t know who they are but I Saw them. They’re armed – they’re after my friend then the whole city will be next. Please, help us. I beg you.”
At length, the creature lowered its head to him. Shadows of four-legged beasts flitted behind it. Though Louis couldn’t see them clearly, he knew help was on the way.
“Thank you,” he said, returning the bow.
The clop of hooves announced its departure. After some time, Louis turned to leave as well. Suddenly, a shrill note tore through the air. He covered his ears. Still, the sound persisted and threatened to deafen him. He fell to his knees, pressing at his ears to no avail. Time dragged on while he waited for the ringing to become bearable. A low hum still buzzed when Louis forced himself to sit up. Dust motes and silver specks shimmered around him. He spun to the gate, his jaw slackened at the sight before him. The tunnel had collapsed on itself. The same silver particles hovered over it. No mortal man or machine can ever clear the passage now.
“What happened down there?” Fred asked when Louis returned minutes after the tremor had died down. He noted the dazed look and called his name to snap him out of it.
Golden eyes with a hint of silver met his gaze. Something else, however, grabbed his attention. When he looked into Louis’ eyes again, they were back to their normal color. Thinking he had imagined it, Fred addressed what had caught his eye.
“I think you better sit down, Louis.” He moved towards him but stopped when Louis flinched. “Your right is bleeding.” Fred stepped forward.
“I’m fine.” Louis backed up with raised arms to fend him off. One hand came up to his ear and came away with blood.
“Let me check—”
“I can hear you alright.” He swiped at the blood in a poor attempt to remove it. “Let’s just go.”
“I can’t leave them.”
Louis closed his eyes, counted to ten, and asked, “Why not?”
“They need my help.”
“Help?” His gaze swiveled to the wounded dark-skinned woman and the man standing guard over her. Bitterly, he said: “Believe me, they’ve got all the help they needed. Come on.” Louis strode to the front entrance and unlocked it. The midday sun striking the pavement blinded him momentarily. As his eyes adjusted, Louis breathed in the fresh air and tried to calm down. He had changed the future, but at what cost?
Fred didn’t budge from where he stood. He watched the rigid figure, a mere silhouette against the harsh light, and waited.
Louis turned and growled upon seeing the doctor’s determined stance. His gaze darted to the uninjured foreigner.
“You,” Louis marched over and seized Mohy by the collar. “Do you even realize what you’ve done?”
Mohy glanced uncertainly from Fred to the furious civilian. This man, however harmless he may appear, intimidated – scared him when silver marred the yellow irises. He knew the color’s significance but unsure if his assumptions were correct. Mohy swallowed nervously.
“You don’t know what they’ve been through,” Fred intervened.
“Hell if I don’t.” Louis narrowed his eyes. “What I do know is they almost brought their bloody war into my land!” He shoved Mohy and turned abruptly from them. Louis breathed deeply, reining in his anger. “You know what, I don’t care anymore. I’m leaving,” he said at length.
“She saved my life,” Fred blurted. He couldn’t let anything happen to Zafeera. Now that they were stuck here, he felt responsible for the siblings.
Of course, Louis thought, pinching the bridge of his nose. A life debt was a serious matter. No wonder Fred was loyal to them despite their shady background. Tersely, he said: “Alright. They can come.”
Mohy carried his sister to the backseat while Fred took the front.
“Tony’s at sis – Cheska’s,” Louis said, sliding behind the wheel. “He’ll be awake by now. Ring him before he calls the police,” he started the engine. “And tell him we’re coming.”
The chauffeur trudged towards them upon their arrival. He acknowledged Fred with a nod before he went straight to the brat who stole his car. Tony pulled his arm back then swung at Louis. “That’s for leaving me,” he said, shaking his painful hand.
“Sorry. Didn’t think you’d miss me so soon,” Louis shot back with a smirk. He had seen it coming and followed Tony’s momentum to minimize the impact. Louis tasted copper in his mouth before he felt his lip smarted.
Tony’s face turned a deeper shade of red and would have attacked him if not for the doctor wearily stepping between them.
“It’s not worth it, Tony,” Fred said. He looked over his shoulder at Louis, saying: “Louis. Stop picking a fight with him.” Fred swayed; the adrenaline rush which kept him going had gone. His head ached to the point he was seeing double. He rubbed at his temple.
“Doctor?” Tony peered at him with concern.
Fred opened and shut his eyes. His vision cleared momentarily. He saw the chauffeur approach him before darkness engulfed him.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Fred keeps on passing out. Poor guy’s still suffering from the bonk in his head.
Zafeera and Mohy. They’re new characters just like Tony. I included them to add a bit of Fred’s history. Zafeera was the first person who discovered our doctor’s ability of electrocuting people, among other things. She’s a tough chick who spends her life fighting for what she believes is right. Mohy is her opposite due to the fact that he was a sickly child before Fred entered their lives. His siblings doted and encouraged him to take a more peaceful route while fighting for their cause. But all is not well. The tables have turned. Stranded in the Mysts, they must rely on Fred and his peers to get home.
Whew! That was close. I almost added spoilers while writing about them.
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