The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 11

She had no idea where they were or if they were getting closer to finding the next mage on their list. Mika walked ahead of the others by a few feet and refused to give her the map when she asked him to, saying he knew better since he had the power of wind under his control.

Mark and Darius were walking directly behind Mika and she was constantly staring at their backs as they walked ahead to find the place of her dream. They'd been walking since the second they left the house, and it had passed several hours. At first, she thought it'd be okay, but when the sun started to set she realized just how long they'd been walking for without a break for food or water. The mages might have been alright with walking for so long without using the bathroom or drinking water or eating something, but she obviously wasn't.

She wasn't a mage like them, and because she hadn't been given the time to train since finding Mark, her body was starting to reject the amount of exercise she was forcing it to do now. They kept walking, oblivious to her distress, but she eventually had enough of the stress placed on her body and had to stop moving completely. Mark had her backpack, so it wasn't as if she could open her bag and pull out a bottle of water, and Darius was a quick walker and probably wouldn't turn around to see if she was okay.

Mika soon glanced over his shoulder as she took a break to calm herself down, and stopped walking all together. He almost caused for Mark and Darius to bump straight into him, but they successfully caught themselves and turned around to see if she were okay. Then, the three of them were laughing so hard that she was afraid they lost their sanity or something.

"W-what are you laughing at?” She couldn't help but sputter as she stared up at them, watching with hesitant curiosity as Mark pulled a water bottle out of the backpack and walked back towards her with it.

"Sometimes we forget you're only a human." Mark explained, the apology shining in his eyes as he offered the water to her. She took the bottle with a grateful smile and she probably emptied the bottle within moments of grasping it in her hands, and she heard the mages chuckling at her in amusement.

"How do you do it?” She asked them, shaking her head as she thought about how energetic they were even after hours of no break.

"Well, we didn't eat for 300 years, so a day without food shouldn't be too hard." Mika remarked before he reached into the backpack Mark was carrying before holding out a bag of food to her, "You, on the other hand, have no reason to starve for even half a day."

She felt guilty eating and taking a break when the three of them weren't, but then they surprised her by taking seats on the ground where they stood, showing her how exhausted they actually were. With a smile, she let herself sit down on the ground with them and ate a portion of the food Mika passed on to her, and when she was done, she ended up handing the rest of it to Mika, who ate it without another word said about it. Mark and Darius ended up splitting a bag of food between them as well, though they all knew they'd be able to eat at least three bags each. She supposed they only did that to make her feel better about the small amount she was able to eat.

It was strange for her to eat this much of food, since she often ate a lot more than the amount she was only able to finish now. If Cook Park saw how much she was eating, she'd say Charlotte was finally learning how to be a girl, but be worried at the same time since it certainly wasn't very healthy to be eating so little.

When they all decided they had enough time to rest, Darius slowly crawled over to her and turned around, making her blink dumbly as she stared at his crouched back. Just what did he want her to- oh, she knew what he wanted her to do. It was an embarrassing thought, but she just knew that it'd be easier for her to go along with what they wanted than slow their adventure down further. With a sigh of defeat, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and he pulled her legs up so that they were resting on either side of his waist, and then they were off again to continue their search for Kaspar.

Unfortunately, it took the four until the sun started to rise again before the three mages stopped with frowns on their faces. She had dozed off as Darius carried her, but had woken in up due to the lack of movement, only to feel her heart constrict at the expanse of a graveyard before their group.

"Help me”

She found herself being startled again because she was able to hear the mage’s voice, because the other mages obviously had not heard it and it made her wonder exactly what her purpose was in finding them.

"Why did we stop?” She asked Darius, who seemed to be surprised that she was now awake. His surprise quickly shifted into a smirk, and Darius let her down from his back before he turned his attention to the graveyard.

"That graveyard. Kaspar's used a lot of power in order to collect all of those bodies." Mika informed her, waving a hand towards the graveyard as if it were obvious enough for her to understand.

"He's using so much of his power in a concentrated area that we're unable to use their own powers from even this much of a distance away." Mark sucked on his teeth and then sent her a worried grin, "We can't take you in there."

"I have to go... alone?” She wasn't ever afraid of going somewhere alone before, but that was before she felt the terror that the graveyard gave her. Charlotte honestly wanted nothing more than to just turn back and return to the home they'd been staying in, but a gentle nudge given to her by Mika was enough to snap her back to reality and nod before she left the trio and walked right into the graveyard.

Without taking many steps ahead, she found herself in a mass of gravestones and half-done graves, though they did stretch on for miles on either side. Being in the graveyard was much more terrifying now that she knew what was hidden there and what she had already gone through in her dream, and she felt herself take a shaky gasp; she was really not ready to look for this box after all.

She glanced down at herself to try to calm herself down when she realized something. The grass blades beneath her feet didn't look burnt or ill in any way. In fact, they looked much like the ones from the wind turbine field- thriving and swaying under the wind provided by the moonlight. She felt the desire to just stand there and take in the beauty around her; yet she knew she couldn't afford to do so. She had gone here for a reason and that wasn't the time to delay.

Her eyes were restlessly searching the area around her, and she knew what she was looking for now- the catacombs in which the box was resting. Suddenly, she saw one of the graves shift, and she closed her eyes as she flinched, hoping to escape from the danger. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in the catacombs, and looked around to make sure it was what she’d seen before.

"Help me."

Hearing the sharp voice in the air was enough to snap her back to reality and she remembered again that she was there for a reason. She had to find that box, and looked around her to see if there was a way for her to go that looked similar to what she saw in her dream. It was then that the lights overhead flickered on and off before turning off completely and leaving her stranded in the dark. She wanted to cry because that was exactly as it went in her dream, and panic filled her as the lights turned on again and she saw the walls start to crumble over her, with dirt and skeletons mixed together. Who cared about the box, if the box was going to get her killed anyway?!

Without waiting for the rest of her surroundings to fall apart on her, Charlotte ran off as quickly as she could so that she would actually be able to find the next box before turning into a mummy. She was still panicking, of course, but she knew that the mage was waiting for her to wake him up and that was enough to keep her from stopping wherever she was. She threw determined glances over her shoulder to dare the death that was following her to give her everything it got; she wouldn't go down until she had the next box safely in her hands.

However, like in her dream, glancing back so often only ended up being her downfall and she yelped as her foot slipped into a hole and her body went tumbling through the floor tile. How she hadn’t seen the missing tile earlier, she didn't know, and whoever designed the landscape was crazy; but it wasn't like she could change much about it since she was too busy feeling her body get bruised and battered by her own clumsiness.

When she found herself still, she almost wanted to cry in relief because at least the things around her weren’t hurting her anymore. Unfortunately, when she stopped rolling, she ended up grasping onto whatever she rolled onto, and looked up to see Darius's unamused face perfectly. How the three of them got into the catacombs when their powers didn’t work against Kaspar's powers was beyond her, but she was more relieved to see them before she died. Charlotte wanted to thank them for coming for her, but their gazes were elsewhere; on the ceiling that was threatening to cave above them but was still sound enough to keep the debris from falling on top of them by some sort of invisible force.

"He's using too much power." Mika muttered in annoyance, shaking his head.

"Levi is going to kill him." Mark continued; his arms crossed over his chest.

Suddenly, she remembered what she was there for and jumped off the ground, leaving the trio dumbfounded as she searched the ground desperately for a sign of the box; and there it was in the crevice she saw in her dream. She ran over to it and crouched before it, grinning at the familiar black velvet box with silver letters imprinted on its surface. The only difference between this box and the others was that this one was the soil covering it, and she cringed like she did in her dream before she glanced at herself and sighed in horror at the mess covering her.

Though that was a tragedy in itself, the next mage was much more important, so she reached her hand into the crevice the box was in and wrapped her hand around the box, tugging at it with all the strength she could muster for it to pull out of the small space.

Again, perhaps that wasn't the wisest move, because she used so much force to pull the box out that she ended up losing balance when she pulled it free.

The box flew out of her hand as she fell backwards and she heard a gasp as she turned her head quickly to see if it'd be okay. It ended up falling right into Mark's outstretched hands, with the mage of wind sighing in relief and dusting off the sides as she slowly stood and walked back to him. Wordlessly, Mark handed the box over to her.
Charlotte didn't want to delay their time to reunite any further, so she quickly opened the box and studied the ring in her hands. It was silver like the others, and had the same silver gems as well. The only difference was the symbol, as it was different for each of the mages. This symbol reminded her of a skull, which made her shiver as she thought of all the death that was surrounding them.

"Hurry up." Darius was sounding impatient, and though she didn't like the tone he was using to speak to her, she understood perfectly how desperate the three of them were to find another one of their friends.

So, she took the ring out of the box, and without her even wishing for it to change size, it did, and she slipped it onto the third finger on her right hand, right next to Mark's ring. Then, before the bright light could blind her, she ducked her head and waited for the three of them to start their excited greetings toward the new mage.

And it was as expected.

"Kaspar!" the three of them practically pounced on him- the tanned male with short jet-black hair and brown eyes- though Mark was first to hug the male and the other two quickly grabbed hold of the pair. Charlotte watched on in amusement because of how adorable the three of them tended to be without meaning to.

The one named Kaspar just stood there, and the other three slowly pulled back to look at him with furrowed eyebrows. Apparently, his behavior was odd to them, or else they probably wouldn't be looking at him like he was crazy.

"Who are you?" Kaspar asked. At first, she thought he was talking to her and she started to open her mouth before she realized something.

He wasn't looking at Charlotte as he spoke, but at the other three mages.

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