Chapter 37: Beneath the Haze
I woke up in the dark, out of breath, not remembering much. I inhaled deeply, sucking in precious air as if I’d just suffered through suffocation. Where the hell was I, I had no clue. I was lying on the cold earthen floor, I tried to get up, but it was a daunting task as my limbs were not working, I seemed to be suffering from an overwhelming fatigue. What was making my body shut down? I had never felt this helplessness, this powerlessness in my life, and I had no control over the process. Just as I concentrated long enough to get on my knees, I was startled by yelling, the voice irritatingly loud, and disturbing.
So, I was not alone. I could not see in the dark; I blinked several times, but it didn’t do any good. This was indeed astonishing as Drakons didn’t need the light to see. Our inner fire would light up beneath our retina, which was not as sensitive to light unlike that of humans, allowing us to see in darker places. But, this was no longer true, it seemed as I had no idea who was sharing this disgusting smelling place with me. He continued spouting gibberish at the top of his voice. He also began to shake his chains, the sound of metallic clatter and rubbing started to chase on my nerves. He was indeed restrained. Was he mad? Probably. He surely acted like one, the symptoms were familiar, he was aggressive, loud, and uncontrolled. He needed to be put out of his misery, and I needed to be put out of mine, he was driving me crazy.
Wait, why was I so weak, and why was my fire put out? Where the hell was my dragon? I couldn’t feel it, I couldn’t hear it, what in the blazes was happening here? My fingers automatically went to my tattoo on my forearm, but there was no sensation, no feeling beneath my skin. Then, I touched the tattoo beneath my trousers, just to come up with the same hollow lost feeling, again. What had happened to me, what had befallen my dragon? My fingers spread on the dirty floor, going by feel, to come across several scattered bullets. Just as I’d suspected, somebody had shot me, several times, and my body had pushed the bullets out, so I must have been sleeping at least for hours. I forced myself to think, to remember, searching deeply within the memories buried deep. My head was splitting, but I didn’t give up.
Memories, though fleeting as if chased by demons, started to appear. However, I didn’t have the details, for example, I remembered following Sierra, but didn’t remember where she was, or when I’d last seen her. I remembered this woman talking to me in a room, asking me to join her forces, but I didn’t remember when I’d left the room, or what I had done afterward. Everything in between was blank. All I could deduce was that my two life sources had disappeared. And, I was still breathing because of the one which made me the master Uruloki, the one which no one could ever find or target, because it was below the skin, invisible and always moving, routinely changing places within my body since birth. I could feel it right beneath my stomach now, its heat running in circles.
Though it was hidden from eyes, every Drakon could feel its existence, and its power, which was why I was the master of our race, despite father being the King. It was a cordial understanding between the two of us to let things be as it is. In the end, I never brought it up, and he never had to acknowledge it. The King, like every member of the royal family, had only two tattoos, but I was miraculously blessed with a third one. And, right now I was alive, yet feeble, because of it. It was apparent somebody had tried to kill me, a Drakon perhaps? Who else would know about my life sources? I couldn’t think of anyone. I had to get out of here and find Sierra, wherever she was.
I managed to get on my feet, though I staggered as I tried to feel my way around this cell-like room. The chained Drakon had now begun to sing like a bird, and my ears were about to fall off.
“Shut up!” I shouted, unable to bear the torture any longer. He was silent for a few minutes, but then he started again. His voice was as bad as...wait a minute, his voice was as bad as Dante’s. Where was Dante? Hmm, he was taken, right? By whom? I tried to remember again. It was damn difficult, it was as if there was a huge void inside my brain, and fetching memories or information was like finding a needle in the hay. I asked the same question, “Where is Dante?” over and over again, until the answer finally came to me. He was taken by the witch. Who was the witch? Wasn’t Sierra the witch? No, somehow that didn’t sound right. I didn’t know. I massaged my throbbing temples, trying to alleviate the pain, the pressure, the confusion.
The gibberish talk of the mad Drakon brought my attention back to him. Especially, one word out of the many that poured from his lips alerted me. “Seth” he had said, I was pretty sure of it, even if all the rest of his words were completely incoherent.
“Dante?” I said as I tried to take firm steps towards him, heeding not to fall. Both the darkness and my exhaustion had made walking a challenge.
He did not respond to me but had hushed again, as if he was trying to fight the madness. But, that was not possible, was it? Even, the sedative had not worked for me the second time I’d taken it. Where had that come from? Yes, it was another memory surfacing, though I wished I could just remember what had happened to me instead.
My thoughts were all over the place, racing in my head, preventing me from focusing on anything concrete. What was happening to me? I inhaled deeply, trying to concentrate on the mad Drakon before I got distracted again. I had no precedent to what I was going through as any other Drakon would have been dead by now. Though I was alive, I was confused, disoriented, and weak. Would it get any better, or would I be a pathetic imitation of what I’d been once? If so, I had to abdicate my right to the throne because if I remained like this, I could not succeed father. It would not be right. Then the responsibility would fall on Dante.
Wait, Dante was taken, remember? Yes, he was taken, indeed. And the mad Drakon was with me, and I needed to check something. What was I supposed to check? Remember. Hmm....yes, I had to make sure he was not Dante. Where was he? Why couldn’t I see? Because, somebody killed your life sources, Seth. Right. I needed to do something. What was that? Yes, check Dante... check Dante, I kept murmuring to myself before the words disappeared, and the haze made me forget again. I finally reached the prisoner, the whiff of smell coming from him was bad enough to confirm that I was now standing right in front of him.
“Dante?” I asked, touching him, despite my hands shaking. “Is that you?”
He tried to attack me, and I withdrew my hand immediately.
“Screw this,” he shouted, trying to break his chains. Well, despite the attack, that was a coherent phrase and represented my exact sentiments of our situation. But, hearing his voice from this close distance made me sure he was indeed Dante. What a coincidence to run into him here! But, that was weird, wasn’t it? Maybe, maybe not, I didn’t know.
“Dante, it’s Seth. What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Seth?” he whispered. “Is that you?”
Thank goodness, he had responded to my touch. The moment of sanity, I knew, would be temporary. The symptoms indicated that his madness had already advanced to a much late phase.
“Yes, brother. Unfortunately, we are in a rather difficult situation. I’ve lost two of my life sources, I can barely stand, or remember anything, you are chained, and will soon relapse back to madness. And, Sierra is...well, I don’t know where she is.”
“Who is Sierra?”
Somehow, her identity was the only thing anchored to my brain. “Never mind bro. What are we going to do? Can you get out of those chains?”
“What do you think, wouldn’t I have done it if I could have?”
“Well, you weren’t exactly yourself. But, now you are.”
Suddenly he hollered, his voice in pitch, and rising in tempo. It was so not the response I was expecting. And, that was it, the intercession, as brief as if had been, was already over. He had gone back to being the raging mad, delirious Dante.
Damn, I cursed. I was not strong enough to break his chains, heck I was as feeble as a new born baby. I sank down on the floor, trying to come up with a plan. But, first I needed to find Sierra. Sierra... Sierra where are you, I kept asking myself, but I came up blank each time. I screamed in frustration, my voice merging with Dante’s to make the cell, a cell of noise torture.
I crawled on my knees to find the door, and when I eventually did, I found that to be a steel door, closed tightly, and impossible to open in my situation. I was extremely dismayed, the blankness in my mind, and the darkness in the cell, were taking a toll on me. I was so scared that I would not be able to help Dante, that I would not be able to find Sierra. Fear was an alien feeling for me, yet here it was invading each cell of my being like an old friend. I didn’t know how much time passed as I sat on the floor, trying to think, trying to remember in vain, as minutes ticked away.
I heard a rattle on the door, and I moved away. Somebody was opening the door, who could that have been? Was that the Drakon who had tried to kill me, and dump me here? I tried to stand up, but my legs were shaky, my breathing ragged, how was I expected to fight him like this?
Whoever was outside the door, was taking his sweet time in opening the door, it was at least after a few minutes had passed, that I finally heard the gritty sound of the heavy door moving. The flashlight in his hand illuminated the small cell room, and that’s how I got a glimpse of Dante right at the other end of the room, chained to the wall. I also saw the face holding the flashlight; it was a female. She held the light to my face as if seeking confirmation of my identity, I blinked, disturbed by the extreme light. That was another novelty for me, sensitivity to light. How great!
“Seth, thank God. I’ve been looking all over for you,” she said.
“Who are you?” I asked. Her face was familiar, yet I couldn’t remember anything about her.
“Holy shit, what have they done to you? I’m Elvan, remember?”
Elvan...Elvan...hmm. I could swear I had heard her name before but was she a friend? Or, was she a foe? One thing was sure, she was no Drakon, so she could not have been behind my attempted killing. That could be construed as good news, I guess.
“Never mind, Seth. We need to go. I left Sierra right outside; I didn’t dare leave her back in the facility. It was one hell of a challenge to get her out. Believe me, I had to drug a nurse, steal her clothes, and pretend I was working on Hayley’s orders as I took Sierra out. She is heavily sedated, though, so I had to carry her in her hospital bed, which thankfully had wheels. This place is madly guarded. I have no idea how we are going to pull this off. I’m relying on you to come up with one of your genius plans,” she said, rambling.
All this information she’d relayed within the same minute had made my head dizzy. But, I tried to fix my blurred thoughts on Sierra. She was outside, though where was outside? What was important though was, Sierra was found. That was great news. But, why was she sedated in the first place? I didn’t know. But, I immediately updated on Elvan being trustworthy, she had taken Sierra out, hadn’t she? I needed to see her. But, first I needed to get Dante out of his chains.
“Dante, my brother...he is chained,” I said.
“What the fuck? I’m sorry...It’s just, what the hell is your brother doing in here? I didn’t even know you had one; you’d never mentioned it,” she exclaimed. “Chains did you say? Damn, this is bad news. How in the hell can we get him out? And they’ll be on our heels soon enough. Let me see, where is he?” she said, as she held the flashlight around the room. “Yep, there he is.”
Elvan walked towards him, but before I could warn her that he was dangerous, she’d already nudged him. “C’mon sleepyhead, we need to get out of here. Do you know this place? Do you know where I can get my hands on something useful here to break those chains? What’s your name?”
“Hey beautiful, am I dreaming? You seem to have come right out of my dreams. I’d better not wake up,” said Dante sexily, too sexily considering his mental situation.
“Dante, this is Elvan. She has come here to help us; we need to break those chains,” I said, dumping all the information on him, knowing full well he’d be lost to us soon enough.
“Oh you have, haven’t you, my guardian angel? Perhaps, if you give me a kiss, I can find the strength to break out of these chains, huh, what do you say?” Dante said, in one of his fully flirtatious moods.
I was shocked, what was happening to him?
“I would slap you in the face hard if we’d not been in this emergency situation, dickhead! I’m trying to save your ass here in case you are not aware of it. Focus on a solution, I can’t be expected to do all the saving in here,” she said, trying very hard not to raise her voice, but it was funny, as her voice, which was barely audible, was strained, and shaking with rage.
What happened next was even more alarming, like Dante, the smelly Dante managed to grab an enraged and unprepared Elvan, and kissed her right on her lips, the smack of the kiss echoing in the room.
“Dante, what’s wrong with you?” I said, trying to get to them. “Have you completely lost it?”
“Eww, you smell like shit,” Elvan said, pushing him away forcibly.
With the little light illuminating his features, I could see Dante was now smirking. And, he seemed to be holding onto the phase of sanity a bit longer than before.
“Let’s get out of here, so I can kiss this lady some more,” he said, grunting, and straining his muscles to the utmost, as he pulled on his chains.