The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 15

Nothing could have prepared her for this. No matter how cold she thought it'd be around the lake because of her dream, nothing could have given away just how cold it was. So cold, in fact, that she and Mika had huddled together as they walked with Mark, Darius, and Kaspar walking ahead of them as if the weather didn't bother them.

What liars.

Mark was shivering harder than she was, and Darius had his hands stuffed into his pockets. On the other hand, Kaspar was skipping and humming as if it were the middle of summer and not freezing cold. She wanted to be envious about his behavior, but Charlotte and Mika had already agreed that they weren't as crazy as the three other mages.

The air was light and in the distance, the sun was rising with its radiance bathing them and perfecting the fairytale image that was running through her mind. It was her first time at a beach, and though it was cold, she was awestruck by how beautiful everything was; from the sun, to the reflection of it against the ice, the fact that when she looked into the ice, it was as if she was looking into space. Charlotte was alarmed by how much of the ice had frozen over and looked virtually untouched, meaning that it had been frozen for a long time before they had gotten to it. When she looked up to see if maybe it would start getting dark and murky, there were no clouds in sight- like she'd seen in her dream. Puzzled by this, she turned to the other mages to see the looks of horror perfectly on each of their faces.

"Trust him to make it this cold." Mika shook his head in what she deemed to be disappointment, his teeth knocking violently against each other in the cold. Then, he squeezed onto her hand as if he was scared of something, and she couldn't help but share the sentiment after what she had seen in her dream regarding the sixth mage.

Looking over to Mark, she saw the tears in his eyes, and she slowly pulled away from Mika in order to check on the tall male. It took her a moment before realizing that tears were in Mika's eyes as well and even the other two mages, who hadn't seemed to be troubled by any of this earlier.

"We won't be able to break through the ice." Mark was muttering under his breath, obviously aware that she was worried about why the group of them were crying. Mark brought up a good point; with the fifth mage's powers working so vividly, how would they be able to break through the ice in order to get him out?

"I'll do it.” She heard herself say before she even realized she was speaking, and before long, she found herself putting her pistols onto the sand and walking off the shore, carefully trudging against the ice. Her arms were up as she walked, because it was slippery and she didn't want to lose balance on the way there. Charlotte knew the ring was underwater, lodged into the ice... but where? How was she supposed to find it when the ice was so thick that she couldn't see past it?

"Charlotte! Stop, it's dangerous!" Darius was calling out for her and she know he probably started running for her as well, but when she glanced back at him she felt the sky around them darken.

So, like any sane human, she looked up because she knew what was going on. It was the cloud of death, as she now labeled it, and though she was frightened to the core about what was going to happen, she already started to brace herself for it as well.
The air was getting murky and black spots were dancing in the air; and she heard a hiss from behind her, knowing it was Kaspar. She kept her eyes on the darkness dancing in the air, because even though she was terrified of the death, she knew what had to be done. She wanted to run away in desperation, with her heart constricting in fear, but when she did start to turn back to shore, a she noticed the dark spots on the ice, spreading like fire.

Charlotte was surprised how quickly the ice started to melt due to the intensity of the darkness that covered it. Like Kaspar, his powers were unpredictable and at times terrifying- but at the same time... Charlotte was mesmerized by the beauty of it.

"Charlotte! Get out of there!" It was Darius again, and when she turned back, she saw that he'd returned to the shore because he knew getting into the water would be a terrible idea. For a moment, she felt like she should listen to his warning and run from the spot she was on, but the ice had slipped away from underneath her feet and she fell into the water.

She wanted to gasp, but she thankfully stopped herself before she lost all the air that was in her lungs. If she thought it was cold outside of the water, it was so cold under water that she felt like she was on Pluto. As she thought this, however, she was quick to notice the many fish that were trying to swim around her. She glanced after them for a moment, again surprised that it was so lively under the ice, but her eyes were getting heavy with the water pressure against it and she set to work, looking for the next ring.

"Help me.”
]She couldn't focus on the sound of the voice, but the words certainly stuck with her and she nodded her head silently.

For a moment, she was thankful that she had gone through swim training through their academy, but she knew that even the training wouldn't keep her alive for long when there was so much going on around her. Her lungs were already straining to keep breathing and she'd barely even been in the water for a few minutes. It was then that she saw the ring from her dreams, and letting out a mental sigh of relief, she swam towards it and studied the ice covering it. It was wedged in tightly and she knew she'd need quite a bit of force in order to free it, but she left her pistols back on shore and only had her body to rely on.

Well, she had to make use of what she had, right? After moving back a little to give herself room, she rammed her shoulder against the ice and glanced at it. It hadn't scratched yet, but she knew that it would. She also wasn't blind to the fact that she'd find a few bruises afterward, but she was slamming against the ice again in order to give herself the hope that she could save the ring. She hit her shoulder against the ice so hard that she accidentally let out some of the air she was holding in and that was a terribly grave mistake, she learned. Her lungs were about to make her take in a needed breath, but she fought against it until she finally grasped the ring box in her hand, it's silver "BLOOD" letting glimmering under the water.

"Help me."

Like in her dream, that was when she started to give up and the rings on her fingers started to glow. Her legs had gotten tired and she was starting to sink while keeping the water out of her body and keeping the air in. Before she could let her vision fade fully, she remembered what she saw in the dream about the sixth mage; she had to call on the fifth mage immediately if she wanted to get out of the water alive. Even if he couldn't save her like he did in the dream, he could at least save himself and be free, right? So that's exactly what she did, but fumbling around with a box underwater would never be a bright idea, and she was constantly worried that the water would damage the box as well.

As soon as the ring was on her finger, she braced herself to finally let the water in and end the struggle she was facing. She wanted to look at the mage before she did, though, because she wanted to see how he looked, but the mage was blurry and he lunged forward to pull her back to him as she continued to fall.

"Breathe." His tone was light even though they were underwater, and despite the fear she felt, she breathed in. She expected to swallow water and drown, but it was as if she was breathing the oxygen above the water. Glancing down at herself in surprise for a moment, because she was able to see and hear again as if she would have above water- she barely registered the clearing of his throat.

"Help me."
That must have been the sixth mage, because her head snapped around in worry. This voice was almost as light as the fifth mage's voice, but it sounded much calmer than the sharpness that came from the fifth mage.

"I already know where he is." The mage grabbed her hand like he had done in her dream and then they were going deeper. She wanted to go warn the others first about the next mage, so she tugged on his hand, but he tugged back on hers as if there were no room for debate about his decision.

Finally, they had stopped by the oyster she remembered from her dream. She was hesitant to open it, since she wasn't sure if it was such a good idea to get the next mage so soon, but when she looked over at him, he did the same gesturing to the oyster and to the box in her hand and she knew she had no choice about this, either. Charlotte swam closer to the giant oyster, her fingers wrapping around the shell in order to pry it apart.

"Help me."

"Hurry, the spell will wear off soon."

They spoke at the same time, confusing her and distracting her for just a moment before she got back to reality and pried the oyster open. Sitting there was the sixth ring box, and she smiled as she reached out for it. She knew then that looking for these two rings at the same time was a trap, because it was honestly just too easy, but she was more than relieved after just claiming the next ring box.

She fumbled with this box as well, finally picking out the ring with the symbol of a bubble on it and shoving it onto her right hand's middle finger. She glanced at the ring of the fifth mage, only vaguely recalling that she never even wished for it to change size, but there it was with a drop of water, just looking back at her

There was no white light as the sixth mage appeared either, and after a moment of looking at the two of them and giving them a childlike grin, he swam upwards towards the shore with the two following him.

"Nico! Nero!" The four of the other mages were chorusing at once when the three made their way back onto shore, and though she was glad they were all together again, she was shuddering and wet.

Mika walked up to her and held out his hands. She didn't know what he was trying to do for a moment, but then there was wind blasting out at her and she stood there with her jaw dropped as the wind dried off all the water that caused her clothes to cling to her.

"You are far crazier than those three.” He muttered before pulling her into a hug, his hand patting her upper back lightly, "What am I going to do with all of you idiots?"

She laughed as he hugged her, but when he pulled back, she looked beyond him to see the other five mages standing there and staring at them, so she slowly took Mika's arm in hers and walked back to the group of mages.

"You are a lot more trouble than you're worth." Kaspar flicked a finger against her forehead and she gaped back at him because it was him and not someone like Darius.

Charlotte pushed him away before turning her attention back to the next two mages, who she now was able to look at without worry. The one to the left had brown skin, medium length black hair, and a childlike innocent grin. The one to the right had sharp facial features with a full head of short red hair; and he had a calm look in his eyes, though his jaw was set in tension.

"Who are you?" It was the question she asked each mage as she found them, and it was a lot easier than demanding to know their names.

"I am Nero, master. The mage of empathy.” She gaped at the one to the left because he looked so innocent and happy that controlling emotions seemed to fit him perfectly.

"It's nice to meet you, Nero.,” She bowed her head as she spoke, and when she lifted it again, both of the two new mages were staring at her in shock as if they never expected it, "I only ask that you refer to her as Charlotte, and not master."

The mage to the right scoffed and when she looked at him, the calmness in his eyes was replaced with annoyance, "I don't know what you're trying to pull, master, but I won't let you control my subordinates."

"Subordinates?” She was confused, since none of the others had ever referred to each other as subordinates.

Darius cleared his throat and she turned to him to see what he'd have to say, "That's Nico, the mage of water, and uh... one of our leaders."

Her eyes widened as she turned back to Nico, and his eyes shortly mirrored her shock. She could understand his annoyance, now, since he was a leader and trying to protect his subordinates from anyone who could treat them as cruelly as someone from their past.

Just as she opened her mouth to greet him properly and to ask for his forgiveness for intruding in their lives, the sound of an engine came into focus, and she turned her head to the right to see six sand bikes stop down the shore. The worst part about the six bikes was that she knew exactly who was riding them.

Darkside had been the ones who made up the map of where each of the BLOOD mages were, and if she was right about her hunch, they were also tracking down her progress each time she found a ring. All she wanted to know was why Darkside cared so much.

What did Darkside have to do with this?

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