Key Twelve: Tree:
He had been here before.
-Eighteen Months Earlier-
He awoke in a drugged-up haze. Nothing looked familiar. Allen looked rather through narrowed eyes. The fog swirled around him. His ears caught deep splashing water on either side of him. The angel felt his body floating step by step, almost as if he was supported on someone's shoulders. One key detail that stuck out was a big black leafless tree standing at the other side of the pond from where they were leaving. Allen seemed to have mumbled something that caught her captor's attention because the last thing he remembered was being knocked in the head with a crowbar and being out cold.
Allen saw that very tree just ahead of them. He reached down and shook Grace on the shoulder.
"Grace!" he shouted, "Grace, can you hear me?" She inched her head upwards through her pain.
"What?" she whimpered.
"Can you hear me?" the other angel asked, "Blink if you can." His words seemed so distant to her. Her head felt like it was underwater with the pain. Allen shook her on the shoulder again.
"Grace!" he yelled again, "Blink if you can hear me!" His words just now only vaguely broke through.
"Blink if you can hear me!" Allen repeated. Grace drew her eyes shut and opened them again. The leader breathed out in relief.
"Good," he said, "Look behind you."
I can't!, she whimpered in his head, The pain is too much.
"You have to!" Allen shouted back, "I need to know something." He held out his hand. "Take my hand," he pressed. Grace's eyes began to water through the pain.
Who are you?, she asked, Why aren't you suffering like the rest of us here?
"Take my hand!" Allen pressed, "We don't have time!" Through her pounding pain, Grace inched her hand forward. The exorcist angel reached down and grabbed his. To her surprise, some of her mental pains began to die down. The frail angel looked around.
What is this?, she asked in his mind.
Never mind that now, Allen said, Look behind you.
Grace gave him a strange look, Why?
Just do it!
Okay, okay! Grace slowly turned and looked behind her. That lone dead leafless tree stood on the other side of the pond. At first, she didn't get what she was seeing.
What about it?
I remember seeing that tree before I was taken to the tower. There's a pond just before it; I know because I heard water splashing around me as I was carried across it.
Grace looked at him with heightened interest now. What else do you about this place?
Allen gave her a rather sheepish look. That's all I remember. I was knocked out afterwards. I'm so sorry if I wasn't much help.
Grace shook her head. No, no! You gave me the information I needed. What are you trying to ask me?
Where exactly are we now?
The seventh circle of the city, in the inner section.
Allen stared at her rather shocked. No way! He turned his attention to the rest of the crew. But what about the others? We can't leave them behind.
We can't leave with them now either. We will have to stay here until the pain subsides.
But how long will that be?
It's hard to tell, but please. Let me hang on like this; I'll be able to tough it out longer like this.
Allen gave her a stern nod, Of course.
Grace bowed her head, Thanks Allen.
Sure. He tried to tune out the hollowing wails of pain around him in the air.