The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 17

Charlotte hadn't been able to sleep since she had that nightmare. It's been a couple of days and she was fidgeting around restlessly. She was in the study room, her fingers tapping against the desk as she thought it repeatedly. It was weird and abnormal; completely unlike any of the dreams she'd ever had before.
For starters, the fact that she didn't know where she was. It was a hallway... most houses have hallways. Then, the lighting that was following her- it was as if that lighting was chasing her down a hallway she had no recollection of. Finally; the fact that something grabbed her. Never had anyone grabbed or even touched her in any of her dreams.

Was it the next mage? Was that the dream that was going to lead her to him? If that really was the next mage who she saw in her dream, she was definitely debating against finding him. Perhaps the dream would be different if she closed her eyes and tried imagining it again, but she was so frightened that she didn't want to risk seeing it again.

"Charlotte-" the door to the study room opened and in walked Mika. She hadn't told any of them about her nightmare or the lack of sleep she was facing, though something told her that they already knew. The six of them skirted around her and left her alone most of the time unless it was time for a meal.

After checking the wall clock for a quick moment, she agreed that it was time to go and eat, though she felt herself stumble for a second before she got to the door. Mika caught her as she stumbled, his arms wrapped around her waist and his face only inches away as he spoke.

"Are you still not sleeping properly?" his tone held aggravation, but she could do nothing as he held her up and guided her down to the dining room. They still didn't have a way of getting real food for the seven of them, but they decided to eat together since there were so many of them together now.

"I'm fine, Mika. Really.” She didn't say anything more than that, since even speaking that much was taking a lot out of her. As they sat down, she felt all of them looking over at her because even to her, it was obvious she wasn't fine. She was fidgeting again, her fingers fumbling with the bag of food and trying to open it. She didn't know when she became so uncoordinated, but she must have sat there for over half an hour just trying to get her food.

Suddenly, just as she was about to burst into tears, someone reached out and opened the bag in seconds, and though she was exhausted, she looked up to see Nico looking back at her with his eyebrows furrowed.

"I don't know what you saw in your dream to stop you from sleeping all these nights, but this is getting ridiculous." he was right, of course, but she didn't want to think of sleeping again so she flinched and looked back down at the bag of food now within her grasp.

"Charlotte, what did you see in your nightmare?" That was the first time anyone had asked her what she saw, and she was surprised Nero asked, as he rested a hand on her shoulder.

She almost pulled away from his touch when she reminded herself who these mages were. She had no reason to hide the dream from them, because if they knew what it meant, then they could help her figure it out. So, instead of trying to eat the food that had been sitting before her for a while now, she told them every detail about the dream and hoped that they'd be able to help her.

"I’ve never heard anything like it." Kaspar muttered under his breath, his eyes then darting over to where Darius was sitting across the table, "Could it have been Ang-?"

"Couldn't be." Mark cut in, his gaze shifting from the coffee table that had the map covering it and then back to her, "He's the mage of light, he wouldn't be inside like she described from her nightmare."

She heard the sound of a chair scraping against the ground, and when she looked up, Mark had reached her and gently pulled her off the chair, "No matter what you saw, Charlotte, you can't treat your body badly like this."

He was right; she knew he was right, but she didn't want to risk seeing the nightmare again. She tried to pull away from his grip, and she tried to tell him to leave her alone, but Darius had chosen that moment to get up and walked over to them, taking her away from Mark's grasp and leading her up the stairs.

"I'll be with you, Charlotte, like you were with me when I was afraid." he was talking about back when he was in the box, wasn't he?

Her lips curved into an exhausted grin and she shook her head as she looked up at him, "Darius..."

He didn't answer until they got into her room. He had shut the door behind him and led her to the bed, sitting down with his back pressed against the headboard. She glanced at him warily before remembering he wouldn't do anything to her and climbed on top of the bed next to him. There was a large amount of space between the, and she couldn't help but gulp because it was as if Darius and she had been arguing, with how silent he had become.

"Ion." When he spoke, she was surprised and turned her head to him with furrowed eyebrows. His eyes shut as he leaned back, his feet crossing before him, "Call me Ion."

"Why do you want me to call you that?" Why did he trust her enough to tell her to call him something else? Why did he have another name, anyway?

"When I had become a mage, I had been reborn as someone new, but our masters took away my identity, and instead, I had become Ion. Though I hide behind Darius, Ion is who I am." he explained it, but she still felt like that wasn't enough. What could she know about them based on their names, "You deserve to know that much about me, at least... considering what you're doing for us."

Ignoring how he was speaking of a time before they had become mages, she rested her head back as well, her eyes finally drifting closed as he spoke. With him being there, she wasn't frightened about her nightmare and she felt at peace with her mind, "Ion? I like your name. It suits you."

He let out what sounded to her like a breathless chuckle, and she opened one of her eyes just barely in order to look at him, and she almost choked on air when seeing his gentle smile. Darius smirked so often that whenever he smiled; she just found it to be fascinating. Again, she just chose to ignore his actions and finally let herself go to sleep, though she was still terrified she'd only dream of that eerie hallway again.

But she didn't.

The sky was red- as if it were bleeding. She was confused to see that, since she'd never seen the sky in such a color before, but when she looked around, she understood why. There was a volcano just ahead, the mouth of it spewing bullet after bullet of lava into the atmosphere and leaving red stains in the sky. She probably should have been frightened, and she probably should have ran off, but she was in awe.

Despite the fact that fire was spewing from all sides of the volcano and getting closer to where she was standing, she was excited and she didn't understand why, for a moment. Mark was tugging on her arm; she supposed to get her away from the volcano, but it had the reverse effect on her and two other mages. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Nico getting closer to the volcano like she was, and she couldn't help but wonder why.

She watched in a mix of horror and awe as the he lifted his hands and suddenly, it was raining. Why would he make it rain so suddenly? As she pondered this, rain covered the volcano completely and then froze it over so that the lava would no longer even be touching the sky. Despite knowing that this would be best for them all, since they couldn't get closer to lava, she wanted to keep seeing the red sky and the eruption that came along with it.

Then, she was walking toward it. Even though she knew it was strange that the mage were able to use their powers as the seventh mage used his own, she knew she didn't want to delay finding the mage any longer. No one stopped her, or at least she didn't think anyone did, as she walked up the side of the volcano and clutched onto any solid but sturdy edges. It took her a while to climb to the top, since she didn't have gear to help her, but the volcano was surprisingly pretty close to the ground.

When she did reach the top of the volcano, she first peered into the ice that was covering the mouth where the lava was coming from. Even though the volcano froze over, the lava was pushing against the ice and starting to melt it at random places. Unless she wanted to turn into a roasted human, she had to find the next ring box and book it. As she thought this, her eyes roamed over the rim of the volcano and she eventually did spot the ring box she was looking for- across the length of the rim.

She started carefully circling the rim of the volcano's mouth, careful not to fall into the ice that was melting a little faster now. When she reached the ring box, she reached for it just as the rest of the ice melted, and the lava started rushing towards her. With wide eyes, she reached down into the side of the rim where the ring box was sitting and just barely avoiding the lava.

"I got it!” She held her hands in front of her face, expecting to see the ring box in her grasp, but it was only her pillow. With a groan, she threw it back onto the bed before looking around. Darius- no, Ion had left while she was asleep and there was no light coming into her room. When she glanced out the window and saw the late morning's sun shining back at her, her eyes widened and she quickly yanked the door open, unable to believe that she'd been asleep for so long.

Nico had been standing on the other side of the door as she opened it, and stared at her disheveled state for a moment before one of his eyebrows were raised, "I came to wake you up, but I suppose I didn't need to."

Charlotte couldn't help but smile sheepishly at his words, a hand rubbing the back of her neck as she watched him slowly relax his features into a smile.

"I was so caught up thinking you're just another one of the masters that limited us that I forgot you're just a human girl. Forgive me for treating you badly."

That caught her off guard, and she was unable to do anything as he turned and climbed down the stairs again. After a few moments of having her jaw hit the ground, she laughed and skipped down the stairs. She felt replenished of her energy and was ready to go out and find the next mage along with her current group of friends.

"Someone looks a little too well rested, don't you think?" Kaspar's voice was teasing her as she joined them all at the dining table for their breakfast- or lunch.

"Just for that, I'm not taking you along to find the next mage.” She admitted she was being childish, but Kaspar also had it coming.

"The next mage?” She glanced over to Mika to see his eyes had widened in excitement, and he leaned over the table in his excitement, "What did you see?"

Her eyes glanced over to where Darius sat for a quick second, and the mage of teleportation gave her another gentle smile and nod to encourage her to continue. Then, her eyes swept over to Mark, whose eyes were shining with hope and she wondered what he was thinking. Finally, she looked over to the newer addition to their group and saw both Nico and Nero looking at her with anticipation. She thought of how Nico used his power in her dream, but she didn't think he'd answer her if she asked about it, so she merely took in a deep breath and looked down at her food.

"A volcano. I saw a volcano.” She answered, waiting for their reactions.

"Percy!" Kaspar was the only one who reacted positively, though she heard Nico let out a hum.

"How about you take Kaspar and leave us here?" Mika asked, then leaning back in his chair with his face scrunched up in disgust.

"Why do you say that?” She asked in return, tilting her head in confusion.

"You already have this childish idiot here." Ion waved his hand in Kaspar's direction as well before he shuddered, "Put him and Percy together, and you might as well write your will."

"But I need you all to come.” She had spoken without meaning to, and surprised the mages with her words, "I can't get up to the rim unless Nico stops the explosion."

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