The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 25

When she had climbed back up to the living room, she was glad to know she was still alone. Charlotte wasn't sure of how she'd react if the other mages walked in while she was in such a terrible state. After leaving the room Darkside had been in, it took her a good half an hour to get back due to how distracted she'd been. Why was it so complicated, anyway? Why did she have to learn that her family that cursed those mages?

She had to tell the mages, she knew that. She refused to keep it a secret from them, but her heart was clouded in fear. How would they react when she told them the truth about who she was? Would they hate her knowing she had stemmed from the very people that cursed them and locked them away? Would they lose their trust in her and believe that she was going to do the same?

"Oh, you're here.” She hadn't realized that the mages had returned from the journey until Nico spoke, and she turned around to see him look back at her with confusion and worry in his eyes, "Are you alright?"

Mika had walked in at that point and immediately rushed over to her, cupping her face and wiping off any tears that were on her cheeks, "What happened? Why are you crying?"

"She probably just looked at Darius's face." Angelo gave a helpless shrug as he walked over to the staircase and yawned, "Come on, Perc. Show me to the room."

Percy had been standing beside Nero and Kaspar when he was called, and after shooting a worried glance at her, he ran after the shorter mage, "Coming, Ang."

"I'm fine, Mika.” She moved his hands away from her and walked past them to the door, "I'm going out for some air. Please don't follow me."

Mika knew she was talking to him, and though a soft whimper escaped his lips, he never said a thing; and she left the house as quickly as she could. That information, though she knew she had to share it with them, would be the destruction of the friendship they had worked so hard to form. Charlotte had been hated and shunned throughout her life, and now she had real friends who treated her well even though she was useless and weird. She wasn't ready to lose them; she would never want to lose them.

"What did I tell you about thinking so hard?” She stopped in place and took in a deep breath to calm herself down before turning back to Nero. The mage of empathy wasn't smiling or being cheerful like he usually was, but walked up to her so they could walk together. When she didn't move, Nero stopped a few steps before her and turned back, "Why are you so gloomy?"

“I said not to follow me." Her voice was low as she spoke, though it was more because she was trying not to cry again, and not because she was angry at Nero, “I just wanted to be-"

"How did you get that?” She was confused about what he was talking about for a second, but then she noticed that his gaze was on the book she held in her hand. She had forgotten all about the book, but seeing Nero's calm expression had her feeling suspicious, "Where did you find it, and when?"

He was too calm about it to be innocent, she realized, and she held the book against her chest, "You knew about this? You knew I was the descendant of who put you in those rings?

Nero turned around to start walking again, and she actually found herself following him, "It took me a while to figure it out, of course, but I recognized your face."

"Do the others know?” She found herself right beside him as they walked, taking slow steps to wander around the desolate town they'd taken refuge in.

The mage looked at her thoughtfully for a moment before turning away and humming, "Well, I'm sure we've all had the feeling that your face is familiar. If they know who your ancestors are, though, they haven't let it show."

"Would they... hate me?"

"I don't see why they would." Nero's words had her confused, and he stuck his hands into his pockets as they walked back toward the house, "You're undoing what your ancestors did to us, Charlotte. We owe you our lives for even bringing us this far."

She had unknowingly shed a few more tears and hastily wiped them away so no one could see them, "Thank you, Ne-"

"Kami." he corrected her as if it didn't mean much to him at all, "A lot of us had our names changed when they rewrote our identities. The Kami that once had been a soldier that fought for the pride of his country was turned into a mage. They said that if he agreed, he'd be allowed to blanket his world of destruction in rebirth and make it a world without war. He was stupid enough to agree."

"Why do you all hate your powers so much?” She couldn't help herself when she asked, biting her lip uncertainly.

"It's not the powers that we hate." Nero insisted, a grin then lighting his face, "Trust me, I love being able to understand a person’s emotions, and to be able to project it into the sky; like the weather. I just hated that masters would take those pure emotions that would translate into pure white snow and use them to cause more destruction like disastrous blizzards.”

"It's a shame, too," he continued, "because they never understood the beauty of snow."

As he finished, snowflakes fell from the sky and she was left in awe as they landed in her hair, on her clothes, and on the ground around them. It was incredible that Nero had such power over emotions that he could use them to shift the weather.

"Nero, Charlotte." Nico walked over to them with his arms crossed over his chest. He had been watching the pair from the doorstep and was clearly not amused that Nero made the snow fall.

"Douglas, I have to tell you something." Nico was one of the mages who was skeptical of her ever since they met, so she knew she couldn't keep a secret like that from him.

"I knew it." his lips were pressed into a firm line after hearing her explanation with an incredible amount of patience, "I knew meeting you wasn't just a mere coincidence."

Finally, he cracked a smile and walked over to her, gently ruffling her hair, "I'd wait to tell the younger mages until after Levi arrives. The three of us as elders would be able to help you move forward in telling them."

Charlotte was about to answer when Kaspar's voice cut in, and the mage of death ran out of the house in excitement, "It's snowing! Guys! It's snowing!"

Not a minute later, and nine of the mages were hurling snowballs at each other and laughing as one another hit the ground after being pelted by the snow. As she was watching the mages from the sidelines, glad that she wasn't in the middle of their fighting, she felt a snowball hit her back, and when she turned around, Mika was high-fiving Mark before they both ran off.

Dale ran over to her with a devious glint in his eyes and winked over at her, "I'll help you, Charlotte. Those two have been asking for it."

Grabbing Darius, who had hit Nico with a snowball and was now on the ground in laughter, by the collar and pulling him to his feet, the two mages were off and running after Mika and Mark.

Finally, her eyes strayed over to where Angelo was, and she watched as he sneaked into the house without either Percy or Kaspar noticing, and she followed him. When she found him, he was in the kitchen drinking tap water out of a glass he found somewhere in the cupboards. She wanted to talk to him and try to know him better, but she was terrified all the same.

"It's considered rude to stare, you know." His voice caught her by surprise and when she looked up at him, he was slowly turning around to face her with his eyes widened in shock, "Oh, it's you."

"Who else would it be?” She glanced out the window at the other mages who were still fooling around with the snow and then back to Angelo, who was watching her warily.

"Exactly what is it that you want from us? Money? Power?" He put the glass down on the counter and walked toward her, his face contorting in anger. She should have moved away or at least pushed him away, but she stood there and took in everything he said. "If you want our powers, then why are you promising to free us? Do you think we're that stupid?"

“I never wanted any of your powers.” She replied, and she barely noticed that tears were streaming down her cheeks because of all the information she had received earlier about her ancestors and how they could have been the ones that cursed the BLOOD mages.

“Then what do you want?” Angelo slowly walked closer to her, his jaw set and his eyes fixated on her, but at the same time, his eyes had taken on a certain softness she didn’t even expect, as if he was afraid of what would happen to her.

“I want you to be happy. I just want you all to be happy.” With that, she realized how afraid she was to possibly let down the mages and ran up the stairs into her bedroom; and she cried until she fell asleep, hoping that at least her dreams could give her some comfort.

Of course, she was wrong.

Another shift in the nightmare. The hallway was lit and she could see ahead of her and behind her, but there was still something chasing her, and she didn't know what. There were shadows at the end of the hall, shadows that were gaining on her, and she had no way of escaping them other than to run in circles until she found a place to hide. Now that the light was on, she could see several doors down the hallway, but every door she tried to open was locked; and she continued to run.

The hallway was familiar to Charlotte. She couldn't exactly remember where she had seen it before, but she knew she had run down it before. How else could she know which turns to make and how long the hallways would be before she had to find another direction to go? At least, she thought she knew where she was going, until she ran straight into a wall and pulled back to wipe her forehead in aggravation.

She knew the wall hadn't been there before, that was why she was shoving at it and kicking it, but it refused to budge and she looked around her to try and find another way in vain. The shadows were getting closer and she gasped when she finally saw who was chasing after her, knowing she had to get away and quickly. So, she ran to the closest door and turned the door handle, locking the door behind her when she was finally sure she was in a place where she could be safe. Wait, did she say safe? She remembered the last nightmare she had and looked around the room cautiously for any sign of random objects raising off the ground and throwing themselves at her.

There was nothing, and she was even more frightened by that. She knew she had seen something, no one could tell her otherwise, but with the lights on, it looked like an ordinary room. If the floating box counted as ordinary, that is. It wasn't on a pillar, but literally floating in the middle of the room. Like in her previous nightmare, the ring box was open, and she gingerly made her way to it to see what was inside the box, but she jumped and turned back to the door, noticing that the door was rattling as if it were going to fall off its hinges. Then, to make matters worse, the light turned off, and she was left alone in a dark room with someone trying to come in and kill her.

Charlotte turned back to the ring box, then, thinking that maybe the mage would be able to save her if she claimed the box, but when she took a step closer to it, some sort of force field pushed her back, and she slumped against the wall in pain. Why was the ring box throwing her away? Was it afraid? Angry? Was it defending itself from her because she was a threat?

As she began to push herself onto her feet, her eyes widened, and she covered her ears to block out the voice. It was the first time she heard someone's voice in any of her dreams or nightmares, but this one time was enough to petrify her and make her curl up on the floor once more.

"Don't look for me." the voice was angry and thick, the words slurred and barely recognizable. He was telling her to stay away, whoever it was, "This is my final warning to you, Charlotte."

She sat up in bed, panting heavily and holding one hand to her stomach so that she would not hurl on herself. The mage attacked her knowing who she was. He attacked her to keep her away, because he didn't want her to go near him. Was it because he knew her family line? What did he want from her?

Just then, the door to her bedroom burst open and Mark walked in, his own chest rising and falling quickly as he panted, "Charlotte. I heard his voice again. I'm scared, Charlotte."

That night, they slept on her bed together, because she knew neither of them would have been able to sleep without the comfort of each other. They were the only ones who knew of the angry voice, of the nightmare, but she wanted to know why.

Why was the mage trying to keep them away?

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