Charlotte didn't know where they were headed, or how long it would take to get there, but she knew she wanted to get there as soon as possible in order to rest and possibly breathe her last. The mages were surrounding Nico as they walked, six voices filling her ears as their feet moved forward- well, their feet.
Darius was squeezing her hand in reassurance and leaning down every now and then to ask her to hold on. Mark was ahead of them with Mika, and both of whom were trying to keep her awake by having a conversation that was so loud that the nearby towns probably heard them. Kaspar and Nero were bickering with each other, though she couldn't exactly understand what they were discussing.
The only one who was silent was the male she had found earlier. She still don't know his name, and she had no idea about what kind of male he even was until Nico got tired of carrying her. Ion was the first to offer to take her instead, but a deep voice had surprised her by saying he'd take her, and she opened one of her eyes so she could look up at the tall and goofy male.
He took her in his arms despite everyone else's protests and continued walking where Nico had left off. She looked up at him for a little while, her arms across her chest and her feet swaying in the wind as he carried her.
"Who are you?” She asked him, her voice sounding raspy and exhausted. Charlotte continued to stare up at him despite the fact that her eyes were trying to close in on themselves, and she couldn't help but see the flicker of guilt that flashed in his eyes.
"I'm Percy, master." His eyes were downcast, and yet, they were looking everywhere but at her. The cheerful energy she had heard in his voice earlier was replaced by guilt and self-loathing, "I-I'm sorry, for leaving you there."
"You're alright, and that's all that matters to me.” She found herself being surprised at how slowly it was taking her to lose consciousness. If she was actually bleeding from the head, then she should have probably died by that time, "Did you and Kaspar rekindle your friendship?"
Percy's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and his head tilted to the side as his eyes darted to Kaspar and back to her, "N-not yet, master. They all got upset with me because..."
"Don't let me stop you.” She grinned even though she had a split lip, squeezing onto his shirt for comfort, "Call me Charlotte, please."
"Charlotte? Are you sure?" Percy was speaking with a sheepish smile and she nodded once before turning her head into his chest. He ignored the fact that she would bleed on him as he kept going, a light hop in his step, "Charlotte."
In just a short period, she learned two important things about Percy; it was easy to hurt him, and it was just as easy to cheer him up. The other mages would throw snide remarks in his direction and after grumbling under his breath for a split second, he'd laugh along and even agree with the others' teasing. Unlike Nico, when Percy carried her, she wasn't afraid of being too heavy for the male to carry her. Percy's arms were a lot thicker than Nico's, and yet he was holding her as if she weighed the same as a stick of gum.
"We need to give her some water." That was Nico's voice speaking, and though she wasn't very willing to turn her head away from Percy's chest, she knew it was inevitable. Charlotte had started becoming dizzy from all the movement that was going on, and since she had no idea how long they'd be on the move for, she found herself being even more nauseous as time passed.
"Charlotte." Mark had come over to her with one of the water bottles found in the backpack and raised it to her lips. She was hesitant to drink out of the bottle since she was so sick, but she eventually sucked in the hesitation and drank the water given to her. It didn't heal her, of course, but she felt hydrated enough to look around to try to figure out where they were.
Nico had placed his cool fingers against her head in attempt to calm her down, his lips curving into a worried grin as he looked down at her, "You'll be alright. You just lost a bunch of blood, and I think you might have sprained an ankle, but we'll have to wait until we find Dale to be sure."
"How do you know where it is we should go?” She asked them, her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to focus on their faces, "I didn't have a dream about the eighth mage."
"There was a hospital on the map." Mika answered, holding up the map and gesturing to it for reference, "Dale was a healer, so it's the only option that makes sense. We'll turn the entire hospital inside out if we have to."
With that, they had continued on their journey with the other mages walking ahead of herself and Percy, not like she minded. Percy was warm like an open flame and was enough to distract her from the pain she thought would destroy her before they got anywhere near the eighth mage.
She tried to tell them that they shouldn't hurry so much- that saving her wasn't as important as finding the rest of the mages, but other than Percy, everyone seemed to be ignoring her. Percy leaned down a little bit in order to look her in the eye and gave her a playful little wink as he walked.
"We can't have you die before you meet the rest of us." Though he winked and tried to make his tone playful and excited, she didn't miss the way his eyes had tensed as a reaction. She didn’t know what he was thinking at that time, but she didn't like the way his eyes had lost their brightness, even for a second.
"And which mages are you referring to?” She was trying to joke with him to lighten the mood, and it seemed she was actually successful, because his former mirth replaced the tension in his eyes.
"Well you definitely have to meet Angelo." Percy nodded more to himself as he spoke, and then he looked up to the sky in thought of what he should say next, "Oh! And you should meet Erik!"
That was enough to get Darius to pull back so he could walk beside Percy, looking down at her with a gentle smile and his eyes sparkling with excitement, "You'd love Erik, Charlotte. He's short and a little cold, but he has incredible powers."
The excitement he'd used to talk about Erik was similar to the excitement Kaspar used when describing his friendship with Percy, and she wondered how close Darius had to have been with Erik in order to speak of him the way he was. The only problem was that Darius kind of made it sound like they had been dating before, or that Darius had feelings for the mage she had never even met.
"There's a reason why we ship him and Erik together." Percy was muttering again, leaning in close as if it were to a secret from Darius, but of course, Darius heard it and scoffed before leaving the two of them at the end again.
She tried to stop Percy from picking on Darius, but it seemed that Percy was getting a kick out of Darius's glares and evil eyes. Kaspar, who had been up front with Nero, turned around as he heard her try and stop Percy and shook his head in amusement.
"Don't bother, Charlotte. When that oaf starts something, they just wait until he's bored."
Eventually, Percy did stop, though he chose to hum under his breath, so he could somehow fill the silence the rest of them had created. He was a strange character, and a perfect friend for someone as devious as Kaspar, but his humming had her calmed so quickly that she didn't even realize they had gotten to the hospital until Percy put her down on a bed and turned to leave the room in search of the ring box.
"Wait!” She called out for him before he could leave completely, since she didn't want him to leave her alone in a hospital room, and she especially wanted to go and help find the next ring since it was her responsibility to take care of them, "Take me with you. I know where the ring is."
"How did you-" Percy cut himself off and grinned as he lifted her off the bed, and then they were out of the room and in search of the ring like the other mages were.
Charlotte and Percy she had been through several corridors, each one seeming to be in worse shape than the last. These hallways would be perfect for some kind of horror movie, she realized, as the lights flickered overhead, and there were papers and furniture thrown around carelessly as they walked.
Occasionally, they would walk by rooms only to see the other mages in them and flinging around more of the furniture in their desperate attempt to find the ring, but they didn't know what she knew, and because she had Percy, she had a feeling they'd get that ring fairly quickly.
Together, the mage of fire and she explored the morgue, the operation room, some simple patient care centers, and finally, a long series of waiting rooms. She was horror-struck by the amount of papers and furniture thrown around, because it seemed like someone else had been there in search of something, and what could they be looking for other than the ring box?
When she looked up at Percy, he also looked terrified, and it seemed his legs were moving faster in order to get us away from the horror, though she knew it was mostly because he was worried that someone had actually come and taken the next mage away. We walked down another hallway, his eyes sweeping over the many office doors until he found the one he was looking for, kicked the door open, and walked in.
The office was full of cobwebs, littered paper, and toppled bookshelves, and Percy placed her down in the dusty old desk chair before he worked on looking for the ring box. There were a lot of books and things in the room, but her eyes focused on a portrait in the corner of the room. Out of all the things in the room, only that picture seemed to be out of place, and her heart started to well.
Her gaze shifted back to Percy, and in horror, she realized that Percy probably couldn't even hear her, and she didn't know how to catch his attention. A moment later, a flicker caught her gaze, and as she looked back at the portrait, she found that it had caught on fire.
Fire? What? Charlotte definitely didn’t start the fire. As she sat there, petrified that the fire was sweeping over the portrait, Percy ran over to it, placed a hand on it to stop the fire, and then pulled it off of the wall in order to inspect the damage, only to gasp as he looked at the spot the portrait had been covering.
She had closed her eyes for a moment just to take a breath because it was honestly all so crazy that she didn't know what was happening, but when she opened her eyes again, she found Percy in front of her, holding out the box they had been so worried about. In his hands sat the eighth BLOOD ring box.
"I'll get you to that ring, don't you worry." His lips were curled into a grin as he spoke, the hop returning in his step as they started sweeping around for the ring box.
But she was already worried, and nothing could change that.