Pumpkin King

Chapter 36

She could hear shouting and loud noises as she staggered awake. At first she didn't recognize the room because of the stone pillars that sprouted everywhere. She tried to sit up, but her vision swam and her knees buckled so she fell backwards.

Luckily, she caught herself on a pillar that towered just behind her. She was lucky it hadn't been impaled by it, but at the same time it shielded her from view. She waited a few moments before slowly standing up again. Oddly, she didn't feel any pain. Looking down at herself, she brushed off some stray strands of webbing. Holding one up she could feel something soothing spread through her hand from where the strand was touching.

Hearing a loud laughter, Lorelai crept to the side of the pillar and peered at the scene in front of her. Pixelton was flourishing his hat at Tamashi while Spindel was clattering something in her strange language. In the background, she could hear Erk shouting something, but she couldn't tell what. On the stage she could see Dante running away from Bligoro, whose mouth was wide open as he chased him.

Her heart skipped a beat at the sight of Dante. He had been so kind to her since she joined the guild…Her eyes widened and she took a shaky breath. She shouldn't be having feelings for him. She shouldn't be feeling at all. Taking a deep breath, she tried focusing on the seal inside her body but she couldn't feel it at all. She panicked for only a moment before calming down and remembering everything Rosemary told her about it before the mission.

Lorelai was crouching in Crest's melon garden next to the guild. After the Master told her about Demon Horn, she'd fled there to think. She heard a cheer go up in the guild and inwardly flinched.

The memory of her brother being torn to shreds by giant spiders ran through her mind and she had to resist the urge to cry. Every day that image sprang to her. And every day it got harder and harder to keep herself from falling apart.

But she was so caught up in her memories that she didn't notice someone approaching her. The white haired Rosemary silently watched the younger guild member for a moment. She felt an uncharacteristic amount of respect for the child. Not many people could bear the burden of a family's death without going insane. She stayed silent for only a second longer before stepping in front of her.

"It's unhealthy to dwell on such memories."

Lorelai yelped at the sudden words and sprang to her feet. "R-Rosemary." She stuttered once she realized who it was. "What are you doing here?"

Rosemary smoothed her blue dress and leaned against the side of the building. "You were thinking about your family again, weren't you?" She asked, completely disregarding Lorelai's question.

The younger girl appeared shocked at first before sadness overtook her. A heavy silence hung over them before she finally asked, "What…What do you know?" When Jack had invited her to his guild, he had promised he wouldn't tell anyone about her past.

Rosemary was only in her early thirties, but she still saw herself as Lorelai's elder. "Child," she sighed. "When a new member joins the guild, I always look into them. This guild has secrets, secrets that can never be told. Jack may invite members on a whim, but I always make sure they are trustworthy." She looked at Lorelai with sympathetic eyes. "I know the pain of every single person in here." She said tapping the side of the building. "Even yours."

Lorelai looked confused. So Rosemary sighed and rested her head against the wall. "Erk lost his parents when he was just a baby. Dante and Lucinda are runaways. Sara's existence is seen as a sin by her native people. Tamashi was orphaned at a young age and bounced from dark guild to dark guild for most of her youth." She looked her in the eye. "Your parents died giving you and your brother a chance to escape when Demon Horn attacked your guild. And soon after, your brother was tortured and killed trying to protect you."

Lorelai tried to keep it in. She tried her hardest. But hearing someone else recount what happened broke the dam she built in her mind. It broke and the tears started before she could stop them. And before she realized what she was doing, she was crying into Rosemary's chest, her arms wrapped around her while the other woman rubbing her back and letting her get it out of her system.

After she cried her eyes dry, Lorelai looked up at Rosemary and said, "I'm not sure I can take this mission. I'll…I'll just get us caught. I could get angry or depressed or-."

Rosemary cut her off. "You can and you will." She said, the normal bite coming back into her voice. Sympathy time was over. Emotions are only an excuse."

Lorelai sniffed. "I still don't think I can do it…"

They sat in silence as Rosemary stared at Lorelai. Finally, Rosemary sighed. "People have been locking away their emotions for centuries. You just have to do the same."

"But…what if I don't know how?" She said morosely.

"Then I'll help." Rosemary countered tersely. "I don't have much magic to spare, but I can still do this." She placed her hand over Lorelai's heart. Lorelai gasped as a cold feeling pierced her heart and spread through her body. But as it spread, it started to feel less cold, like it had been there all along. She felt changed, but she couldn't bring herself to feel worried or scared.

Rosemary took a deep breath when she finished and closed her eyes for a minute before opening them. "That seal should lock away all your emotions and feelings." She turned her back to her and started walking away. "So long as you don't let anyone else inside your head, the seal should remain intact. Good luck."

Lorelai took a deep breath to calm herself. "Bligoro must have broken the seal when they were going through my memories."

She couldn't think about it anymore as she heard Tamashi yell. Looking over her pillar, she saw that her red haired friend wasn't faring well against the combined might of Pixelton and Spindel. While Spindel scuttled around Tamashi's back and blocked her escape with webs she shot from her mouth, Sir Pixelton was advancing towards her, using his cane to sweep aside hundreds of dead spiders with each step.

"How are you doing that?!" Tamashi shouted in irritation as more than half of her army was swatted aside.

"Why my dear," Pixelton said with his high pitched voice, "a magician never reveals his secrets." Tamashi sent a wave of spiders at him, but with a flick of his cane, an invisible wall appeared in front of him, causing the wave to split before him. "I'm starting to believe you're not even trying."

Tamashi resisted the urge to flip him off. "Let's see how well you fight with Mrs. Scuttle spitting goop at you." She jumped out of the way as a wad of webbing was shot at her.

Picksy used his free hand to cover his laugh. "Well then, it seems that this just isn't your lucky day." A stony looked crossed his eyes and he raised his cane in the air and spun it in a circle. "Now please watch as I make you magically disappear."

Tamashi was too busy watching Pixelton to notice Spindel jump behind her and sticking her to the floor with a glob of webbing.

"You will not escape." Pixelton announced shrilly. A dark orb appeared above his cane. With his free hand, he took off his hat and the orb went inside it. "Now may I have a volunteer?"

A strong vacuum began pulling all the spiders towards the hat. They were all sucked into it one after another until there weren't any left. Then the force began pulling at Tamashi too, her red hair whipping as she was pulled by the wind.

But she wasn't going anywhere.

The webbing kept her firmly in place. Tamashi smiled viciously. "Looks like you aren't good teammates after all!" She called out over the gale. "You can't suck me up if I'm stuck to the ground."

Whatever she was expecting Pixelton to do, smiling wasn't it. He just smiled malevolently and waited.

Then Tamashi knew why. As more seconds passed, the gale grew stronger and stronger until it became painful to endure. With her legs stuck to the ground by Spindel's web, it felt like her body was about to be ripped apart by the vacuum. She screamed, but it just got sucked into Pixelton's hat with everything else.

Lorelai watched with horror as her friend was tortured. She saw her scream, but she couldn't hear it. Pixelton was laughing maniacally with his high pitched voice which was horrible to hear when it was mixed with the cackling laughter of Spindel's raspy one.

She had watched her parents die. She had watched her brother die. She was NOT going to watch her friend die. Her body still felt weak, but her magic had never been stronger.

Raising one hand with a resolute expression, she shouted with all her might, "Garden!" Flower petals in a rainbow of colors burst forth from her hand and shot directly at the two dark guild members.

They were too busy laughing at Tamashi to notice the onrush of petals as they met them head on. They both let out startled shouts mixed with screams of pain as the storm of petals pushed them into the air. One moment Pixelton would have lighting arcing around his body and the next he'd have spouts of fire bursting on him at random while Spindel was deluged with water with wind ripping at her clothes.

With the seal broken, Lorelai felt all her emotions rushing back to her. And first and foremost on that list was anger. Pure, unchecked rage filled her features as the two dark guild members hit the floor.

Coughing up water and smoke, the two looked up to see Lorelai standing on top of the stone pillar she'd been hiding behind, her face contorted with fury. "Demon Horn!"

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