8. How Did You Find Me?
I felt like a child, my tear stained cheeks against Jakko's chest. Thijs and Sarn led the way until they abruptly stopped in front of us, "What the fuck?" Jakko voiced as he nearly bumped into them.
"We're here." Sarn whispered, looking at us over his shoulder.
My heart began to beat crazily behind my chest. I was beyond nervous to meet the woman that would help us get back home, it only made this entire situation much more real. I still had the aching pain of my breakdown in my body.
Jakko was right, I needed to go back, to face my past life and Dastan. Either way, guilt would eat me alive, there was no way of escaping that, I guess.
I pushed against his chest, ending my thoughts and communicating that I wanted to be let down. Jakko looked down at me before softly placing me on the ground. "What do you mean, we're here? There's nothing but trees?" Jakko looked around, not finding anything.
But of course, an old Alvina would not want to be found. I walked up next to the Thijs, who was studying the floor intently. "She's in the ground." He spoke gruffly when my arm leaned up against his. I nodded, trying to find disturbed dirt, "That tree..." He pointed to a tree a few feet in front of me,"Has her symbol, she's around here."
I narrowed my eyes and saw the faint sun that was marked into the tree.
"Here it is!" Thijs yelled, leaning into the ground and stomping his foot in the dirt. There was a hallow thump that echoed in the woods and we all looked at each other in surprise, this was actually happening. Jakko came up to me, wrapping his arm around my waist.
In one fast and swift movement, the wooden door lifted causing Thijs to fall back as he was still standing on it. He fell on his back with a grunt before he was pulled by his feet to the depths of wherever that door led.
"Thijs!" Sarn yelled and grunted as he lifted the door, not hesitating in throwing himself into the depth as well.
I looked up at Jakko who grunted and rolled his eyes, "Do not let go of me, okay?"
I nodded and he reached down, picking me up in his arms. I wrapped my legs around him and placed my hands on his neck. He tightened his arms around me and opened the wooden door, descending the wooden stairs.
The door behind us closed, leaving us in a dark, damp hallway. Jakko kept going down the stairs, though neither of us could see anything. It smelled like dirt, which was no surprise, but it reminded me of the way the rain used to make the air smell back at home. Back at Javal.
Jakko grunted, accidentally bumping into the dirt wall, not aware the path had began to curve. "So fucking dark." He mumbled to himself, shaking his head at the inconvenience. I squeezed his shoulder slightly when a warm glowing light appeared ahead. "I see it, love." He whispered.
He stiffened when we heard a high shrill voice coming from the light, "How did you find me?"
We neared the light until it led us into another corner. Jakko and I peaked around it, coming face to face with a room. It looked like the home of a hoarder. Bookcases lined the walls, though they were filled with numerous things, not just books. Candles, weird, sharp weapons, vases, dead plants, maps, fabrics and random eclectic elements filled the room.
But our eyes went directly to Thijs and Sarn, who struggled as they were flat against the wall. Thijs grunted, his arms and legs flat against the wall like a star, "What do you mean how did we find you? I sent the letter, you should be expecting us-"
There was a small lady, her hair white as snow, her skin brown like sugar. Her back was to us, and there was little observe of her. She cackled, "You are the one that wants to cross the portal, eh?" She threw her head back, laughing harder, "Neither of you are royals! I knew this was a joke." She shook her head, sighing as she did so.
"We're not, but-"
"Then how do you expect to cross the portal?" She chuckled, "I should get rid of you, rip your head off for wasting my time!" She raised her hands and they both grunted in desperation. I saw the veins in their neck bulge and I panicked, gasping loudly.
Jakko quickly pulled us back, laying his back against the wall and he heaved silently.
"Who goes there?!" The woman shrieked. I squeezed his shoulders again, worried that we had been caught and could no longer save our friends. "I will rip off their heads if you do not show yourself!"
I looked at Jakko, trying to push off his chest but he just shook his head. I pushed harder, pleading with my eyes. We need to save them!
"3...2..." She began to count.
I brought my leg down slightly and brought it up hard between his legs. His hold on my loosened and I fell out of his hold, running around the corner, coming face to face with the lady.
I could hear Jakko's pain-filled grunts behind me and I winced, knowing he would not be happy about that. There was no plan in my mind, but the countdown was a lot more intimidating than I thought. The only thing that moved me was the thought that if I make myself known, Thijs and Sarn would live.
But I froze as soon as I saw her face. She wasn't familiar to me at all, but she looked at me as if I was familiar to her. Her eyes were opened wide and her jaw was slacked open. She held a small wooden staff in one hand, and the other she kept close to her chest. It was deformed, missing most, if not all, of her fingers. She wore a dirty blue dress and a number of colorful necklaces.
I felt Jakko's arm around my waist, as he finally caught up. I could tell he, just like Thijs and Sarn, were eyeing our interaction with great interest.
She opened her mouth and said one word, "Ilona?"