Chapter 50: Green
She hadn't predicted anything in Stacee's future. Her visions in her dreams haven't told her anything. Her reoccurring nightmare of the forked road and Landon in that nightmare was all she had seen every night since Christmas. Nothing prepared her for what would happen to Stacee though.
Erela had just gotten back into the castle and literally ran into Landon. The young werewolf immediately caught her from crashing into the ground and Erela was hysterical from thinking of their friend. "Woah, Ela. Calm down, what's wrong?"
"Stacee—" she heaved heavily. "Stacee. We have to find him."
"Woah, what? What's wrong?"
"Stacee . . . he's in danger," she answered, her voice shaky with fear.
"Why do you—?"
"I read his tea leaves," she nearly shouted. "Stop asking questions and go look for him," she said and ran toward the dungeons. God, she hoped they didn't have him. Please don't have him. Erela heard Landon calling her name just behind her, but she tuned out his voice to concentrate on finding their friend. She asked herself if he had said anything and was being punished for blabbing. She hopped down three steps and ran to the end of the hall and waved her wand. The door reappeared right before her and lock clicked at the same time.
"Ela! The hell are you doing?" Landon called behind her.
Erela quickly opened the door and searched around the room. No students. No blood. No Stacee. "Shit," she cursed under her breath and ran out the door and past Landon.
The lanky Hufflepuff girl pushed herself harder to run up the stairs. Maybe he was in the Hufflepuff common room. Maybe he was sleeping. Her lungs screamed for her to slow down and take a breather, but she pressed on. She had to make sure he was safe. He had to be fine. Erela ran around the corner to the barrels by the kitchen and knocked on the correct barrels in its usual rhythm to open up the door.
"Stacee?" she called loudly when she entered the common room. "Stacee!"
"Erela, quiet down. Will you explain what's going on—?"
"He's not here," one of Landon's roommates yawned in an annoyed tone from the couch.
Erela cursed and ran out the common room. "For the love of crap! Ela!" Landon groaned. She crawled quickly out of the barrels and ran aimlessly out. Something, anything! Stacee had to be around somewhere! It shouldn't be that hard to find a pink haired boy. Erela started to hyperventilate when Landon grabbed her by her wrist. "Ela! What is your problem—?"
"Do you think you can smell around for him?" Erela interrupted him. No need to filter her thoughts. Whether Landon liked his canine abilities or not, it would be really useful at that time.
"Umm . . . yeah, I suppose."
Did Landon honestly think she was lying? Sure, she had misread her predictions in the past, but now wasn't the time to even be skeptical of her readings. Misread or not, reading a grim in someone's tealeaves wasn't a joking matter. Erela shook her head and walked off without him.
"Ela, hold on! Explain what the hell you're freaking out about."
Erela kept on walking, looking for someplace to talk, most preferred with no students around. She found a corridor with hardly any students around and turned to him, waved her wand around them to ready the Muffliato charm for no passing students to hear their conversation.
"It has the grim. His tea leaves were in the shape of a dog," she said quickly. "I've been keeping a secret from you. And so has Stacee. We didn't want to get you involved with it at all," Erela started. "When you left for Thanksgiving break our sixth year, I found the cult. That's why I went into that room at the end of the dungeons. They were there when I discovered them and they were there when Stacee and I were caught—"
"It's . . . it's . . ." Erela started to have a panic attack, her breathing became short and shallow, a lump formed in her throat, making it much harder to take in any air.
"Breathe," Landon said and carefully took her face. "Breathe, Erela."
She took in deep breaths as slowly as she could and shook her head. "No. I can't. We're wasting time. They caught us before Christmas break. And they said . . ." Short and shallow breaths. "They said . . ."
"What? What is it?" Landon asked, his tone starting to match her frantic voice.
"They said that, if we said anything about their whereabouts then they would kill everyone who we love . . ." she answered and shook her head, holding in tears of fear. "Stacee and I researched on them from what we knew. And we—and we—and we discovered that they—they sacrifice things for different reasons. It's an old cult group that was created generations ago and that just gained popularity out of nowhere. Animals as a thank you for their magical blessings, or something. And—" Erela crumbled to the ground and curled into a ball. God, she never knew panic attacks would feel that intense. The safety of the people she loved was in danger and there was having difficulty to even breathe.
"They sacrifice people for: fame, glory, and money," Erela answered, her voice high and hysterical. "Does Stacee talk in sleep?" she asked. "Have you heard him say anything? We think that there are members of this cult thing in Hufflepuff house too. That there are eyes and ears around us all the time to keep us from saying anything. Did he say anything?" she asked.
"No," Landon shook his head. "No, no he didn't say anything. We don't even know if they have him. You don't have proof—"
"He's MISSING, Landon! He's either with us or with Laila. He wasn't with her this morning and he disappeared last night while you were transforming," Erela interrupted him. "Wherever he is, I have a REALLY bad feeling. Please, Landon. I'm really terrified of what's happening to him."
Please let those tealeaves be wrong. Please let them be wrong.
Landon ran his fingers through his hair and walked toward the main entrance toward the bridge. "We'll start from the forest. That was the last time we saw him . . ." he said.
Erela stayed behind him, keeping quiet for him to listen and smell for any sign of Stacee. They crossed the creaky bridge and walked toward the Forbidden Forest when Landon abruptly stopped. He looked toward the lake and ran in that direction with Erela just behind him. Landon stopped at the top of the hill and stared at the Whomping Willow. Oh god . . .
Erela swerved around the tree to find any sign of Stacee, but no body to be found. "I don't see him," Erela called.
"His scent is coming from the tree . . . I think . . ." Landon stopped and inhaled. "There's some kind of tunnel nearby that's blowing out from the tree."
Erela furrowed her brows at him for a moment when the violent tree came to life. Landon took out his wand and pointed at the Whomping Willow. The tip of his wand glowed light blue and the same light consumed the tree just a second before it completely froze. The young werewolf walked toward the paralyzed tree, following the scent and found a little tunnel just underneath the tree covered in thick roots.
"Found the tunnel," he called to Erela's attention and jumped in.
The bleeding hell?
Erela followed just behind him and slid into the tunnel. Down, down she went until she crashed. Landon helped her up and looked down the tunnel. Erela looked up at him, his face looked as white as a ghost and his arms had goosebumps. That wasn't a good sign . . .
"Do you hear anything . . .?" Erela asked.
"Yeah . . ." he nodded. "Creepy chanting . . ."
It was Erela's turned to become as white as a ghost. Chanting . . . they were really there. They were just down the tunnel and it was only just the two of them . . .
Landon carefully took Erela's hand and walked down the tunnel together, giving each other clammy squeezes. Everything was going to be okay . . . everything would be fine . . .
"Stacee's scent is still coming from down the tunnel?" she asked.
"Yeah . . ."
"Do you . . ." A lump caught in her throat. She swallowed it down and choked, "do you smell blood?"
"No . . ." he shook his head.
"That's a relief . . . we should hurry . . ." she whispered.
He nodded in agreement and took longer strides down the tunnel until they reached a dead end. There was a wooden door just above them, followed by creaking. Erela furrowed her brows at the constant sound while Landon carefully pushed the door open. He peeked his head inside the room to check if the cost was clear and gave Erela the thumbs up. All safe.
Landon climbed in first and helped her inside, finding themselves in the Shrieking Shack. Erela only remembered of when she slept inside the creepy house, half expecting ghosts or poltergeists to attack. The chanting was loud inside the house, especially coming from upstairs. Landon took careful steps up the crying stairs, making sure to take a step every time the shack shrieked with life. Closer . . . closer . . .
"Thank you, almighty Lord. To gather us here for your feast," they heard a voice. "We offer you the blood of this lamb in exchange for what we wish."
Landon and Erela's eyes widened. Oh god, they were going to actually do it. They reached the top of the stairs and peeked into the only room of the floor. Stacee hung upside, completely unconscious with gatherers around him. Candles lit around the room, giving that eerie feeling that made the hair on the back of Erela's hair stand up.
"We are yours, Great One. Feast upon this lamb's blood," one of the members said and took out their wand. The chanting grew louder and louder and louder until the head's voice was washed out from Erela's hearing.
The young werewolf lunged from his hiding spot and burst through the door, startling the students and blasted them to the wall. Erela jumped up and reversed the jinx to unhook Stacee from his binds and slapped his cheek. "Stacee! Stacee! Wake up!"
Stacee blinked awake, his lids heavy, and his eyes a little clouded. "What happened? Where am I?"
"Now's not the time!" Landon growled and threw more charms and counter curses at the cult members.
Erela muttered an incantation and the cloud from Stacee's eyes immediately cleared up. "Lets go, right now." Run! They got Stacee, now they had to escape to safety. Erela pulled Stacee up and helped him toward the door.
"Go! Go!" Landon cried out to Erela and Stacee as they bolted out of the room. Erela quickly turned to the doors and conjured the Protego Maxima charm, some of the cult members didn't see the shine of silver and tried to run past, only to disintegrate into bone and dust. Landon's head shot around when he smelled death and looked up at Erela as they ran down the stairs. She saw the look in his eyes, a mixture of horror and disappointment for using that spell to actually kill the students if they went through.
Shit! They broke through the charm!
The trio ran out of the Shrieking Shack and up the trail that led to the trail toward Hogsemeade. It was still two miles from the village. They could make it! They just had to run through the trees as their barrier.
The three of them spread out as they broke through the trees and kept running. Erela heaved and gasped for air. She cursed herself for not being as good as Landon to Disapparate, it would come in handy. Not only that, but even Landon couldn't do that with disaster chasing after them. Even the gifted students who got their license early wouldn't be able to concentrate in that sort of circumstance.
BAM! Something broke just at her head. Erela turned around and found maybe seven of them running after them.
Landon twisted around and whipped an unsaid spell toward the cult and exploded just behind Erela. She looked back again, dirt and wood showered just behind them, but they kept on running after them.
"Avada Kedavra!" someone hissed. Erela looked back and jumped behind a tree to block the attack. Holy shit! They were actually going to try and kill them! Erela started to run again and waved her wand and conjured the Protego charm around her. Was it capable of holding the Unforgivable Curses back? She wasn't so sure herself anymore.
If that was the case . . . Erela swallowed the large lump that was lodged in her throat, her heart thumped quickly against her chest and made her feel sick to her stomach. She squeezed her eyes shut before she whipped around and flicked her wand at one of them, one of them dropped like a fly and started screaming out in pain. Blood oozed from their lips and fear consumed the light in their eyes. Erela felt as if a part of her was dying inside for using those curses. But when Charms was the weakest ability against someone out to kill you, the use of your best spells was useful.
Stacee and Landon kept flicking their wands, using Diffindos, Flipendos, Fumos, fireballs, harmless curses, Expulsos, and others just to defend themselves and get the cult out of their trail. A loud snap broke through all the running and black smoke appeared just in front of the three of them Erela stopped and the loud screeching sound started to echo in her head.
The student in front of them started screaming out in pain and doubled over as he covered his ears. Landon and Stacee looked toward Erela's way before their eyes shot behind her to the remaining five. They ran just behind her, Stacee screamed: "Protego Maxima!" Which made the cult members stop when they saw the silver light reflect in front of them. No need to lose the rest of them in the worst death possible.
Landon ran to Erela and covered her eyes and ears, but the screeching sound in her head didn't cease. "Ela! Stop! You're killing him!" he exclaimed to her. Erela shook her head and willed her power harder upon the boy. He and his friends were out to kill the three of them. They had to be punished. "Ela, stop . . . see no evil, hear no evil . . ." he mumbled the little children's' telling in her ear.
She pursed her lips and pulled the wall up again, the horrible sound started to quiet down, as well as that boy's cries. When Landon pulled his hand from her eyes, Erela saw the boy's ears were bleeding as well as blood ran down from the corner of his eyes. Her eyes widened at the sight, she didn't think she used that much to begin with.
"What the hell, Erela . . ." he growled quietly.
Landon and Erela looked back, one of the students had broken through the spell! Landon brought up a protection spell before the curse could hit any of them and made a run for it again. Almost there! Hogsmeade was right there!
"Confundo!" Erela hissed.
But the charm had missed.
And everything started to slow down. Erela's ankle was yanked from underneath her, she looked down and saw a red string had wrapped around her ankle. Green light shined from the tip of someone's wand. Her eyes widened and looked into the eyes of a killer. Her shield had shattered around her before the light shot toward her.
Next thing she knew, a warm body had covered her and took the hit. And just like that . . . Stacee's body turned limp and cold once the green light diminished . . .