The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 22

There was a shift in the nightmare. She was still running down an eerie hallway, and she kept throwing glances over her shoulders because she knew that something was chasing her, but there was no light in the distance. No, instead, the light was directly in front of her in the shape of an orb as if it were trying to guide her out of the hallway safely. It didn't really seem to do much, since she still ran into the dead end she'd seen in her previous nightmare, but that one was different. Her hands were desperately roaming over the wall as if to find a doorknob or something.

The light, which had been shining brightly as it led her down the hallway, projected large shadows that came from down the hall, and after staring at it for a few moments, she had turned back to the wall and pounded on it with her fists, tears dripping onto her shirt as she looked behind her desperately. There was something coming, and she didn't need the light to see it. She didn't know what she was doing in such a terrifying place, but her eyes had noticed something on the wall. A portrait, and next to it was another portrait, and more portraits sat on the wall beside it.

She was sure she had never been in that hallway before, but the portraits seemed to be oddly familiar to her. Before she could make her way over to the portrait, however, her eyes landed on another door. Like from the other nightmare she had, she walked right into the room and shut the door behind her, pressing herself against the door to make it seem like she had either disappeared or gone somewhere else. She couldn't hear what sound was coming from the other side of the door, but whatever it was; it had her terrified.

Her eyes shut tightly, then, because she knew what was coming next. Something was going to grab her, she was going to scream, and the mages would wake her up because she was just so loud. She waited, and she waited, and she waited; but nothing happened. Surprised and suspicious, she looked over her shoulder at the room that was supposed to be so dark she could barely see herself. The floating light made it seem less terrifying, but at the same time, she found another kind of horror.

Because there, in the middle of the room, sat a pillar. It wasn't one that reached from the ground to the ceiling, but one that stopped halfway up from the ground, and had a flat surface used to display artifacts.

The worst part about the artifact on the pillar was that it was an open ring box.

Open...? Open? Open?! OPEN! The ring box was opened, and then she had run over to the pillar to look at the box, pulling it into her hand to see if it was what she was dreading for it to be, and it was. The silver BLOOD lettering was shining with the aid of the orb's light. The worst part about the ring box was that it was empty. Empty, as in the ring was gone and she had no idea where it could have gone.

Her eyes darted around the room to take in her surroundings. Only then did the true horror of the nightmare begin to show. Objects had lifted off the ground; chairs, desks, books, sharp writing utensils and other objects as well, and after another moment of tension, they were all hurling themselves at her.

When she opened her eyes, she found that she was looking up at a darkened sky, with the tree's leaves blocking just a portion of the moon's brilliance from her sight. Slowly, she sat up and looked around her, her eyes narrowing in slight worry as she saw the other mages had been sleeping around her, with Darius's head still resting on her lap. Both Mark and Mika were resting with their own heads against Ion's lap, and a little further away, Nico, Nero, and Dale were sleeping, laid down on the ground with their chests moving just slightly. Passing her gaze over them, she saw that Kaspar and Percy had sprawled out on the ground like starfish, loud snores coming from their direction.

They all looked so peaceful that she couldn't help but laugh, shaking her head and wondering if they were all actually comfortable after sleeping on the ground like that. The happiness was short lived, as she found herself replaying the nightmare in her head. What had caused for it to change the way it did? Why did it feel as though whomever she was looking for was attacking her? Why was the ring box empty, and where had the ring gone? To her, a question was almost more important than what happened to the ring. Why had that hallway looked so familiar to her?

"Charlotte?" When she looked over, Mark had just gotten to an upright position with one hand messing with his hair and his other barely covering a yawn, his eyes narrowed slightly as if to make sure it really was her, "Why- why are you awake?

Unlike the last time she had the nightmare, she wasn't freaking out. She had a feeling she only hadn't freaked out because of the fact that the mages were all next to her, and she felt some odd sort of peace whenever she was around them. Mark was starting to lay down again, and though she wanted him to sleep, she leaned forward and put a hand on his shoulder, "Can you help me bring them inside?"

"Why bother?" He groaned in exhaustion, but he shook Mika awake and pushed him onto his feet. Mika took a moment to realize what was happening and then went over to where Nico, Nero and Dale were sleeping, waking them all up. Mark, after groaning again in annoyance, had gone over and nudged Percy and Kaspar. When neither of the childish mages opened their eyes, Mark grinned a little wickedly and kicked at them.

The mages were more concerned about why they had gone to sleep outside than why Mark had chosen to kick them, and went into the house without sparing the others another glance. The other mages quickly filed in after her, and after taking in a deep breath, she realized that not everyone had left.

"Took you long enough." Darius never opened his eyes as he spoke and he didn't shift from his spot, "I’ve been awake since the moment you sat up."

He didn't wait for her to explain and sat up slowly, reaching out to ruffle her hair with just one of his eyes opened, "Go get some sleep, and don't forget that we're all here for you."

Having said that, the mage of teleportation stood up and walked back into the house, finally leaving her alone to her thoughts. she was a little worried that the nightmare would lead to more sleepless nights like the last one did, and there was a constant wondering of what she had seen swimming in her mind.
Charlotte had no idea of where it even took place, and that's what worried her the most. She should have looked for the map to figure it out, she realized, but the map was with Nico and she didn't want to disturb him at night for something so petty.

It took some time to get back to her room, since the nightmare continued to play in her head and thus made her afraid of everything she had seen. She thought of walking up the stairs with her eyes closed, but she didn't think Dale would be pleased in knowing she had injured herself again and so soon. When she had gotten to her room, there was a figure outside of her door, and since she was frightened already, she immediately pulled out one of her pistols and aimed it at the figure.

Hearing her footsteps, the figure looked up, and she froze instantly as she saw Mark's eyes widening at her in surprise and slight fear. She didn't know why he was sitting in her room and just after she'd seen him, too, but his slouched shoulders had her put her pistols away immediately and get onto the ground before him.

"What's wrong?" He wasn't crying, but a certain spark of distress in his eyes that caught her off guard.

"Something feels off. I don't know what it is, but something's wrong." He put a hand on his chest and began rubbing it back and forth, "I was resting and then I heard someone's voice, and then I opened my eyes and there you were. Something happened."

"Who's voice, Mark? What happened?” She was getting increasingly worried as panic welled in Mark's eyes. He shook his head as if he were going crazy and then clutched at his hair with his hands.

"I don't know- it was distorted and angry. I don't know, Charlotte, but I'm terrified." Her heart broke as she watched him, because Mark was crumbling and she didn't know how to help him. She slowly leaned forward and gently took his hands in hers, pulling them off his head. He didn't flinch, or protest, just waited for her to pull him out of his trauma.

"I had the nightmare again tonight." Mark's eyes snapped up to her so quickly that she almost smiled at him; because no matter what he was going through, he was always there for her, "So I agree, something is wrong."

His eyes seemed to search hers for a few moments, a mix of desperation and worry filling them, "What do we do, Charlotte?"

"For now, we should sleep.” She stood up and opened her bedroom door, one hand grasping at Mark's and tugging him up "Staying up will do us no good."

"I agree." that was Nico's voice ringing from next door; and she and Mark shared a sheepish grin before parting ways and going to bed.

Part of her was relieved she wasn't having that nightmare again, relieved that she was outside with the sun shining and the birds flying overhead as the nine of them stood there. The rest of her, however, was horribly exhausted because she had just dealt with such a terrifying nightmare and wasn't ready to face the dream world again, no matter how... temptingly gorgeous it was.

They were standing before a collapsed Chapel, looking up at the stained glass that reflected the powerful rays of light. Half of the building was standing, but they were on the grass, their bodies facing rubble and a nearly destroyed altar. The stain glass that was several meters above us was beautiful, intricate swirls and stars and other patterns feeding us with beauty- all except one spot.

At the center of the domed roof of the Chapel, where the building was soon going to collapse, there was a disruption in the color balance. Instead of the vivid purple she should have seen, it was a dark color, almost black. Black? Once she figured out what color it actually was she shook her head in amusement; because of course the ring would be on top of a collapsing building's roof.

Percy was trying to scale up the side of the building that hadn't been caving in on itself, and she watched in open-mouthed horror as the area his hands touched shattered, and the rest of the building shook on its foundation. If she didn't get to the ring within the next few moments, the rubbish would bury the ring. She wasn’t very good at digging, so she was sure she’d be unable to find the ring if it were to be buried.

How could she stop it? Her mind went back to when she had destroyed the target during training and used Dale's power in order to reverse all the damage caused by the other mages’ powers. Healing a building as big as the one in front of her? That was impossible, wasn't it? Plus, what if it was only able to heal damage caused by the other mages' powers? She was panicking again, wishing for some sort of solution, when suddenly a yellow-orange gold hue covered them, and as they watched on, the building was restored to its prime.

From there on, it had gotten quite simple. Using Percy's height, she had found some stones on the sides of the building and used them to climb up to the dome, falling onto her stomach and taking deep breaths afterwards because sheesh, that was a workout. After a moment or two of trying to regain her lost sanity and breath, she crawled up the side of the dome and surely enough, at the center of the dome's roof, sat the black ring box with the silver lettering of BLOOD adorning it. Her feet slipped, then, and she found herself groaning mentally as she rolled down the dome to what she could tell would be a fun period of Dale fussing over her and Nico scolding her for being reckless.

Except that instead of meeting with grass and awkward body positions, the wooden floor and shouts from outside her room was what she found. One voice stood out very well, and she realized it was a very angry Mika, "Get back here with my toothbrush, Percy!"

"So angry in the morning, baby!" Mischief filled Percy’s voice, and Charlotte groaned as she laid on the ground in pain, her hands in front of her as they broke her fall.

"Can you keep it down? I'm trying to sleep!” She never expected Nero's voice to sound so full of frustration, since the eldest mage was always so full of youth.

"If you're sleeping then why are you answering?" Well, expect Kaspar to use his sass so early in the morning when everyone but he, Percy, and apparently Mika were actually awake.

"Kaspar, I will gladly aid Darius if he attempts to murder you.” She never expected it from Dale, either, since he was always so quiet and sweet.

With a roll of her eyes and a sour mood, she stood up and walked over to the door to stop their bickering. However, she stopped at the door when she realized something was really off. When she looked down at herself, she was appalled to see she was soaking wet from head to toe. How they had gotten to her while she was sleeping was beyond her, but she was really going for the kill.

Yanking the door open and taking a deep breath at the same time, she walked out into the hallway where all eight mages stood and stared at her with wide and frightened eyes, but her focus was on the trouble making pair that was currently inching towards the staircase and their escape.

"Percy! Kaspar! I'm going to kill you!" And like that, she had chased after the two, and the two mages were running for their lives.

In the end, it took Nico, Nero, and Dale to calm her down by pushing her onto a chair and refusing to let her go after the mages she was still upset with. Percy and Kaspar sat in the corner and stared at her, huddled together as if they had been fighting a wildebeest. Darius was standing in front of the pair with his back towards her, though she knew he was amused and grateful she had stepped in before he could. Mika and Mark had been laughing at the troublemakers ever since she had started chasing them and were by then collapsed on the couch, and it was only then that she remembered.

"Oh, I forgot about Angelo!"

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