The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 13

The question obviously caught her off guard, and for good reason, too. Charlotte had already explained to both Mark and Mika why she wanted them all together, but Darius hadn't seemed to want to know and thus she believed the rest of the mages would be more understanding without her having to go into detail as to why she wanted to find them all.

She stared at Kaspar for a moment before her eyes wandered to the other three mages.

None of them had loosened from their tense states, but Mark and Mika were looking at her with eyes that were pleading, as if they were afraid she'd change her intentions. Then, she glanced over to Darius and noticed he was gripping the towel she had gotten for him in his hands, and she wondered why he his eyes tightened at the question. Finally, she glanced back to Kaspar, whose eyes were still calm but daring her to say something he wouldn't like to hear.

"I want to free you- no, wait" As she cut herself off, Mark and Mika jumped out of their seats as if they felt shocked and betrayed by her words, and Darius scoffed from beside her, "I'm going to free you."

Kaspar, who hadn't had a reaction as she fixed what she was saying, allowed his gaze to soften as he slowly stood and walked over to her. She didn't know what he was planning, but he didn't seem like a threat to her so she only stood there and waited as he put a hand in her hair and ruffled it gently, "Forgive me for being skeptical. We've been through a lot in our lifetime."

Hearing that made her think about what happened to Darius's ring box before she had found him, and she felt frightened to know that they could have possibly gone through worse than what she already knew of. Charlotte had subconsciously turned to Darius as she thought of this, finding Darius's focused gaze on hers as if he knew what she was thinking of.

Darius's lips curved into a gentle grin and he walked forward, gently pushing Kaspar aside so that he could hug her with his face pressed against her hair, "Stop worrying about that. I'm fine, see?"

Charlotte nodded stiffly, though she could hardly concentrate when realizing someone had been hugging her. She hadn't had much affection shown towards her growing up, but being there with just these few mages was enough to erase all the years of emptiness.

"Get your big butt off her, Darius. Can't you see she's uncomfortable?" Kaspar obviously didn't take being pushed aside well and pried Darius off of her, only to hug her tighter than Darius had, "It's okay, the big bad Darius won't go near you anymore."

Then he was running and cackling with Darius hot on his tail. She stared after them for a moment and then slowly glanced over to Mika and Mark to figure out what was going on. The younger two mages reclaimed their seats on the couch and were engaged in conversation as if what had just happened with the other two mages was a regular occurrence that didn't bother them anymore.

She made her way over to them, and with a wide grin, Mika moved aside just enough for her to squeeze between them once more; and that's exactly what she did.

"They won't be done for a while." Mark answered the question she hadn't bothered to ask, and with unamused nods from her and Mika, the younger two returned to their conversation, though they made sure not to leave her left out through it.

"Charlotte, you see us in dreams before you find us, right?" Mika asked lightly, and she looked over at him to see he wasn't looking back at her.

"I see the ring boxes, and the surrounding area that I know to look for when I do go on the journey to find the ring.” She answered him, and with a small smile, Mika dropped his head onto her shoulder, his face buried against her arm.

"It must be frightening to see all that happen and not knowing why." He muttered against her arm and it took some effort for her to be able to understand him since most of her attention was on all the crashing and swearing coming from one of the other rooms.

She hadn't really thought of all the fear she felt with the dreams, since she usually just felt determined to help them reunite so she can finally free them, but Mika undeniably brought up a good point.

"To know that you're doing all of this only to have their friendship in return is sometimes too good to be true." Mark spoke gently, and she turned to see him looking over at the other room where the loud sounds were coming from in curiosity.

"How do you trust me so easily?” She asked them slowly, since she knew that there could be a possibility that she was just tricking them- although that made her think of herself negatively.

"As mages we can see auras." That was Darius speaking as he exited the other room with a victorious smirk on his lips, "When you got on your knees to comfort me, I realized you weren't lying to me because your aura was full of pure intentions."

As she was beginning to wonder about the troll of a mage, Kaspar came limping out of the room with what seemed to be white powder covering his entire torso. She gasped in worry and started getting up to make sure he was okay; but Mika, who shook his head, held her down.

"He deserved it." Mika whispered, and though she knew he was right to some extent, she didn't exactly want to see Kaspar limping the way he was.

"But if you know when each other is lying, then how come you didn't realize Kaspar was tricking you about forgetting you?” She asked, watching as Kaspar fell into the recliner with a full pout on his lips.

"I’ve long been able to manipulate my aura." Kaspar answered her proudly, though it looked as if he was in pain to be speaking then, "Even when I'm telling a hideous lie, I can trick my aura into remaining pure."

Kaspar was good; so good that it was even a little scary. At that moment, she couldn't help but think that, yeah, he probably deserved it.

The group of them and their antics amused her. They were giant children who bickered, fought, and even cried, in Mark's case. If this was how it'd be with just four of them, she was a little excited yet anxious to see what it'd be like when all of them were reunited.

Thankfully, the group had a few days of rest after finding Kaspar, instead of going right into search for the fifth mage, whoever he was going to be. Well, it was a rest from traveling, but not from the loud group of men the few mages she gathered ended up being. From the moment she woke up until she decided they were too much at night and went to sleep, she began to understand that life would never be like it was before she met Mark.

A knock came on her door on the fifth night of their rest, and as she was just starting to drift off to sleep, she wasn't aware of what was going on for a few moments. Eventually, she rolled out of her bed and wobbled over to the door, prying it open to see a tear-stricken Mark on the other side.

"Mark?" Seeing his tears pushed the sleep out of her system completely. As she stared at him for moments in confusion and fear, Mark's eyes welled with more tears. Why he'd come to her when three of his friends were around was beyond her, but she definitely wasn't going to let him continue to cry, so she jumped forward and gently cupped his face, brushing the tears off his cheeks, "Why are you crying?"

He didn't answer for a few moments, though his tears did slowly halt and his eyes focused on her. Charlotte couldn't understand the look of desperation and of hurt in his eyes, but as she watched him, she soon realized why he was looking at her like that.

"Will you really free us?" The way in which he asked frightened her. It was as if he was fighting himself as to whether or not he should believe in her or what she’d been trying to do for them. It made her wonder what they'd gone through to doubt her even though they said they could read her aura.

She was about to answer when she heard the distant sound of a pair of footsteps, and looking around Mark, she saw Darius at the end of the hallway with his eyes fixated on us. Mika was right behind him, and the presence of a shadow behind the two of them alerted her to knowing that Kaspar was also nearby.

"You guys must have gone through a lot." The pity she once felt for them was replaced with anger. Anger that someone could treat a boy as sweet as Mark so badly that he had a hard time trusting even her when she reassured him more than twice that she wouldn't let them down. Along with that anger came determination; a determination to make sure she freed them no matter what was to happen to herself along the way.

"Let her sleep, Mark." It was Mika's voice. He was scolding Mark, but with the look in his eyes, she knew he felt similar to what Mark was feeling. With even someone like Kaspar who knew how to manipulate his aura, who was to say she wasn't doing the same?

Mark paused for a moment, and a dejected smile formed on his lips without him even turning to look Mika in the eyes, "You're right." With a sigh, Mark pulled himself away and trudged past the other three with his shoulders hanging low and right then, she felt her heart break.

"I had a dream earlier, Mark, about the fifth mage." Mark froze right before he could turn the corner, and the other three looked her way as well, "I made a promise to you, Mark, to find your friends and set them free. I'll keep that promise even if it kills me."

Seeing their dumbfounded expressions, she stepped back into the room to go back to sleep and slowly reached to close the door, "We leave to find the mage of the water, Nico, tomorrow morning."

They didn't attempt to catch her attention again that night, but she realized that it was too late for her to sleep again what with all the thoughts swirling in her head. Charlotte thought of how badly the twelve mages, eight of whom she had yet to meet, were being treated far before she was even around.
If it wasn't her, would someone else have started to have those dreams and decided to go and rescue these mages? Or would the people who made up a map of their locations be looking for them for reasons still unknown to her? Would she be enough to protect these mages, or would they betray her once she set them free? Would the new mage also doubt her the way the other four have up until this point?

She'd never seen anything like this before. She knew she was somewhere she had read about in books and fairytales. She knew this because the sand was beautiful and the rising sun in the distance shimmered against the reflection of the ice. Ice- that was something she'd never seen before, and at a beach nonetheless. The amount of water that frozen over in sheets disturbed her, but the fact that there were no clouds overhead was the most frightening part. How long ago had the water frozen?

More importantly, why were the other mages standing beside her on the shore with looks of horror covering their faces? What about the situation was so frightening that it had all of the looking as if they were about to cry, and not just Mark? Again, that wasn't the most disturbing part. The most disturbing part was that she was walking onto the frozen lake as if something was calling out to her- but what? How was she supposed to know where the ring was supposed to be with the ice blocking her from whatever was hiding in the water?

She was looking up, then, because all of a sudden, it started to get dark and murky.

Wasn't that impossible with all the ice? Was it going to rain? As she was contemplating it, standing in the falling rain, the ice around her started turning black like the rose Kaspar held before turned black, and she felt her eyes widen in fear. Those black patches only meant death was creeping onto the ice around her. Was Kaspar going to use death to melt the ice? No, his powers wouldn't be able to work if another mage's powers were in effect.

The urge to run away filled her again, though she wasn't sure if it was because of the ring she was looking for, or because of the death that surrounded her. Before she could wonder too much about it, however, death had covered the ice she was standing on and broke loose, and when it started to melt and crack even under her feet, she knew just how powerful Kaspar’s powers were.

Before long, as she stood there and watched, the ice started disappearing, and before she could make a break for it, she found herself submerging into the water. She didn't know how cold it was, because it was a dream, but when she looked around, she was nothing but surprised. She would have thought that more of the body of water had frozen, but it was full of average life, with schools of fish swimming around her, clearly unhappy with her intrusion. She could hardly see underwater, but she forced her eyes open anyway and started to look around for what she was there for.

She knew how to swim, since combat training had them prepared for the worst, but the fish around her and the dim lighting provided by the ice wasn't helping her to find what she was looking for; plus the fact that she was probably holding her breath so she could swim underwater.
She felt like she was already starting to lose her breath, since she was out of swimming practice, but she also knew she was desperate to find that ring, so she kept swimming against it all and then she saw it. It was close to the surface and covered in ice, but she had already come this far and wasn't letting even that small amount of ice get in the way of her and the ring, so she rammed her shoulder against the ice repeatedly. She wasn't very strong, but even if it were enough to scratch the ice off, she'd try it.

She didn't have much time left; that was something she knew even without being there at that moment. She spent too much time underwater, and she was wearing herself out by trying to dig the velvet box out. That didn't matter to her. To her, nothing mattered more than the box embroidered with the familiar silver lettering of "BLOOD", and she wasn't going to give up until she had it in her hand. Finally, the ice broke apart, and she was able to claw it away until she was able to pull the box into her hand, but it was too late for her. Her vision started going black, her legs had stopped kicking to keep her up, and she knew she was done for.

"Even if I die, I'll get those rings."
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