The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 27

The next day, they set off to find the tenth mage. When she had announced that she saw the next mage in her dream, the three youngest mages had gotten off the couches they were sitting on and almost tackled her to the ground as they asked whom it was that she saw. When she said that it was the mage of Earth, Mika and Mark dropped their shoulders and returned to where they had been sitting. On the other hand, Darius was so excited that he pulled her into his arms and was spinning her around. After her incident with Angelo, she was more than wary to be spun around in such a manner, so she pulled herself away instantly and made sure no one could see that her cheeks had reddened.

Speaking of Angelo, she was relieved to know that he also didn't want to spend any more awkward moments with her and usually was in another room so he could avoid her. Unfortunately, when they set out to find the tenth mage, Angelo had no choice but to talk to her. The other mages- including Percy and Kaspar- had marched ahead of them and left the two in the back so they could work out whatever she and Angelo had to work out.

Of course, for the most part, that involved her trying to inch closer to Mika and Mark. Mika and Mark would send her sympathetic smiles before nudging her toward Angelo again, but she didn't want to go anywhere near the mage of light.

"You don't have to run like that, I won't do it again.” She didn’t know if he was saying it because he didn’t want to be close to her, or if he said it because he truly felt as if kissing her was a mistake. She did know, however, that his head was bowed as he walked; and he cleared his throat a few times even though his voice was absolutely fine.

"Why did you-"

“I'm sorry for kissing you." He had the tendency to cut her off whenever she spoke, "I was noticing how protective the others were when it comes to you, so I wanted to test it. I could have done it in another way, I know, but I knew it would have the greatest reaction... and I was right."

So in the end, Angelo had used her in order to see how the others would react? Again, she wasn’t sure if she could believe his words.

"You used me.” She turned to him to see he had stopped walking and was rubbing at his eyes as if he were crying. As she watched him cry, she just knew his explanation was a lie to cover up why he really kissed her.

"I used to be a singer, you know." He sputtered as he continued rubbing at his eyes, and she glanced at the other mages to see they had gone far off, "I could get any girl I wanted, and they'd all be more than happy to comply to my requests. Until I met Sienna, that is."

Sienna? Her ancestor Sienna? The one that Dale admitted to have had feelings for?

"Sienna was brilliant and had all the resources she could ever need in order to be successful. I was drawn to her like a moth would be drawn to fire." Angelo continued speaking even though he was constantly wiping tears away, "I eventually fell for her, and convinced her to be mine. We had gone steady for almost a year, and then she told me about the Freedom Corporation's project with the Gems of Eternity. She told me that if I wanted to be with her, I would have to take part in it; that if I took part in it, I could become an even better singer and light the path for many others after me." Then, Angelo's gaze focused on her, and the smallest of smiles lit his face, "You just reminded me so much of her that I couldn't help myself, but... but it was wrong, and I couldn't stay and tell you with all of them nearby."

Angelo was with Sienna before? Angelo confused her with Sienna and kissed her because she reminded him of her? Of her ancestor who tricked him and broke his heart? And still had it, by the looks of it?

"But all this time it was like you hated me.” She told him, her eyebrows furrowed in confusion at his confession. He insulted her more than once and spent most of his time away from her.

The mage shrugged and started to walk again, and she slowly followed him, her curiosity now over-weighing her hurt and anger, "I didn't want the others to know. None of them knew about Sienna and I, and if they did... I don't think I could live. I don't know how they'd react if they found out I'm still in love with the woman who cursed us."

Charlotte gasped as he finished. Never had she imagined that Angelo could have been in love with her ancestor, but it did make some sort of sense. Angelo had been harsher on her than any of the mages so far and now she learned that it was because she reminded him of a past love.

"I won't tell any of them,” She assured him, and his red eyes slowly stopped shedding tears as he smiled at her, "Just, give me a warning next time you decide to kiss me?"

"You know, I trust you." Angelo was just one barrel of surprises to her, honestly, "No matter what you could do, I have the faith that what you won't do is betray us. I trust you."

She wanted to cry right then and there, because it was as if he was the first to trust her completely without some sort of "you could do this to us." Angelo, though he was sassy and strange by nature, was comforting when he wanted to be.

"Hey, you two." When she looked ahead, Kaspar was looking at them with growing amusement, "Hurry up or we'll leave you here."

"How do you plan to leave her if she's the only one who can find Erik?" Angelo called back, and she almost laughed at his tone. It didn't take much for Angelo to return to his sarcastic self.

"He's right! We should just leave Angelo here." Dale continued, and she couldn't believe her ears. She took back everything she said about Dale being gentle.

Nico had stopped and turned to Angelo and her as well and slowly gestured to behind him with a jerk of his head, "Hurry or we won't make it by the end of the day."

Angelo walked up to the group and jumped onto Percy's back, the taller male groaning at the sudden addition of Angelo's weight, "You need to warn people before you do that."

Funny, they just had a similar conversation. As she was busy watching Angelo and Percy bicker like children about Angelo's weight, she almost missed it when Mika walked back towards her and turned around, crouching close to the ground.

"It's a pretty far walk. You might as well get on." Mika spoke, seeing as she wasn't planning to take his offer. After she finally agreed and climbed onto his back to be carried the rest of the way to where they'd be going to find the next mage, she turned her head and saw Mark looking over at them with a small grin.

"You're not upset with Angelo, are you?"

Charlotte shook her head without giving him a vocal answer, resting her head against Mika's shoulder and hoping the ride would end quickly. Eventually, Nero himself had gotten bored of being up front with Nico, Dale, Darius, and Kaspar, and joined the three in the back.

"They're all so serious it's a bit terrifying.” She found herself looking over at Darius as the eldest mage spoke, and she felt herself biting her lip because it was just then that she remembered what happened in the dream, and she was worried about Darius.

Like he knew she was looking at him, Darius turned around and smiled widely at her before his attention returned to whatever was before him. It was then that she realized how dark it was becoming and that they were making their way onto a lush green field that stretched out for miles. Charlotte was let down as they stepped onto the grass, because Mika had been thrilled by the fact that he was on grass, since wind usually kept grass alive and kicking. A few feet ahead, Angelo had also been let down from Percy's back and created a small orb of light within his hands to guide the group through the night.

Since she was the only one who knew where the box actually was, she ended up walking in front of the other mages and looking back to see they had all followed her- with the exception of Darius. When she looked to her side, Darius was striding along with her and his eyes were twinkling in joy as they got closer and closer to the rocky terrain.

"The cliff is up ahead,” She announced, and when Darius nodded back to her with determination, the two of them walked onto the rocky cliff area. She tried looking down from the ledge, but all she saw was the blackness that covered the water and the rest of the cliff's underside. Just the light of the stars and of the orb of light created by Angelo wasn't enough, she realized, because it was still too dark to see anything but their own bodies and perhaps the person closest to them.

Like in her dream, when she peered over the edge again, a small ball of light was floating just above the ledge to show them just what they were looking at. There was a large body of water below us, and though she couldn't hear it very well, she knew it was still flowing as they watched on. With a sigh of frustration, Darius had gotten down onto the ground and reached under the cliff's ledge for anything that could be sticking out between the rocks. It was dangerous, and she wanted to make him stop since it was so unsafe, but his trembling voice stopped her.

"Erik, where are you?”

In the end, that's what convinced her to dive into the open waters in order to have a better look at the underside of the cliff. It was a very stupid idea; that much she knew from the time she had almost drowned when finding Nico, but she had already put her pistols down onto the ground and had taken a step back.

"Charlotte, what are you doing?" Nico's voice had raised just slightly, holding a warning as he walked closer to her, "Back away from the cliff."

That seemed to snap Darius out of his desperation as well, and when he saw what she was going to do, he reached out to her with a gasp, "Don't do it!"

It was too late, though. She had successfully dodged both Darius's hand as well as Nico's, and she dove into the water, making sure she kept in as much air as she could before she hit the water. Though the water wasn't as cold as it was when she went searching for Nico and Nero, it was still cold and the impact made her lose air almost immediately. Charlotte gulped in as much air as she could find when she resurfaced, feeling a little greedy about just how much air she was taking.

The light that had somehow formed while she was up there flew after her, and after struggling to keep up with the water current, she was able to pull herself onto shore in order to look around under the cliff's face. She spotted the ring box almost immediately and grinned as she tilted her head back in order to see it better. She supposed Darius had leaned forward more in order to watch her as she got farther from his view, but that was enough to disrupt the poorly balanced cliff, and the top of it came tumbling down with Darius and the tenth mage's ring box.

By some sort of miracle, as he fell, Darius reached out and grasped the ring box in his hands before he teleported away. She let out a deep breath she didn't know she was holding and she believed that Darius teleported back to where the other mages had grouped up, but then she heard Darius's panting and turned her head to see him right beside her, holding out the ring box.

"Please..." he didn't say any more than that, and he didn't need to. Charlotte already knew how desperate he must have been in order to do the things he did just to find the box.

After momentarily being in awe of the silver lettering of BLOOD surrounding the ring box, she opened the box and squinted her eyes in order to figure out that the symbol the ring had in its center was a stone of some sort. Finally, she slipped the ring onto her left hand's thumb, and the ring rested against where Nico's ring already sat.

Ten mages down, just two more to go.

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