The Ring Bearer: Being Found

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Chapter 33

Like Alex said, the second the isle hit the water, it was surrounded on all sides by the military. Charlotte had never been so scared in her life. Would they kill her and kill her mages as well? Would they take her to her ancestors? Just as she thought of all the possible outcomes of staying with the island, heavy footsteps made their way into the temple and she spun in place slowly, taking in the amount of guards that hard shown up.

"Hands behind your head!” She supposed the person who growled at her was a higher up, so she obediently folded her arms behind her head and waited to see what they would do. Their weapons were like nothing she'd ever seen before, but their faces had caught her by surprise. These guards could be no older than her age.

"It's clear!" Another guard shouted, and then the first to address her held her by the collars and growled in her face.

"Where are they?"

She knew who they were talking about immediately, and though she remembered they could kill us all without having the mages around, she knew they wanted them alive for some reason. That thought alone made her smug, "Take me to Elena and Kira."

The guards froze and then, before she could process what was happening, one of the guards lunged forward and had a hand wrapped around the base of her neck. Charlotte wanted to lash out and maybe knock him unconscious- but she couldn't. There were dozens of guards even if she got rid of this one, and who knew what they'd do to her if they realized she could just fight back; even if she wasn't very good.

"Kill me and you'll never get those mages.” She was surprised she could even speak, since his hand was tight around her neck and she was starting to lose focus on reality.

Suddenly, as the guard's grip on her tightened, a clear and familiar voice called through the group of guards, "Let her go. We didn't come this far just to kill the mages."

The guards parted and in strolled two beautiful ladies who Charlotte quickly figured were her ancestors. They looked like her, sounded like her, and even walked like her; but there was something she had that neither of them did- a heart.

“My my, Kira. She looks just like Sienna.” She supposed the first to talk was Elena, whose nose was wrinkled upward in distaste as she came closer to her and practically wrenched the guard's arm off her, taking the ends of her hair in her hands, "Same nasty split ends, too."

After giving the guards a pointed look that made them flee from their presence, Kira turned to Charlotte with her sister's disgust only amplified on her own face, "Another of our descendants is looking to harness the powers of BLOOD. Should we be afraid or amused, Elena?"

Elena snorted and looked over at her sister for a moment, but then her full attention was on Charlotte again and she circled her, leaving Charlotte to watch her in disgust and fear, "What is your name, doll?"

"Charlotte." Her throat burned from being squeezed, and Elena was actually starting to prod at her as if she was some sheep, but there was no fear as she spoke.

"Where are the mages, child?" Kira began to circle her the way her sister had, though her eyes were far more frightening and her lips curled back to show rows of sharp teeth. Nothing about her seemed human to her; it was like she was simply in a human's body, but not actually a human like Charlotte herself.

She couldn't help but glare at her, then, because was she supposed to be nice? Was she supposed to answer them as if she cared for their existence other than to kill them after her mages were free? As Charlotte glared, Kira’s amusement grew, "Why would I tell you anything? You're the ones who ruined their lives!"

Elena's expression changed then, as if she was surprised Charlotte was talking to them like that. Suddenly, a sharp pain filled Charlotte’s side, and she looked down to see Elena’s arm had actually transformed into sword, and had already pierced her skin once.

"What is it you want from them? To help you become popular? Are you trying to make another girl jealous?” She hissed at Charlotte like she was nothing but a nuisance, and the warrior couldn't help but think that the feeling was mutual.

"I want to undo what my ancestors did to them."

Then, a slap across the face and someone had their hand pulling her hair back. Their grip in her hair was so tight that her head was yanked back and tears were streaming down her face as she looked over at Kira. The second sorceress’s amusement had long been replaced by hatred.

"You dare tell us you're going to free them?” She said it like it was the stupidest thing someone had ever told her; like to her, it was mission impossible.

"She's found eleven rings." Elena's voice was also full of hatred now as she pulled one of Charlotte’s hands up and squeezed it so hard she felt something break.

"Why are you doing this?” She couldn't help but ask them, even though she knew they were just hungry for power and she was just a threat to them.

Kira glared at her for a second more before she threw her to the ground and crouched before her like she was some vermin she was about to exterminate, "Sienna was brilliant, but even she didn't understand their use for those mages until we helped her understand."

Why did she say it like it had a double meaning? What was she trying to imply? That those two sorceresses had done something to Sienna? Sienna was the one who gathered all the mages together- or at least, that was what Otto and Gera told her. What could they have done to her to "help her understand" anything? If anything, Sienna should have known the most about those mages; considering two of them, and possibly more, had fallen for her.

"I can see the gears turning in her head." Elena crouched down and pretended to coo at her like she was the cutest thing she'd ever seen, "You're not very bright, doll, are you?"

"You're not getting anywhere near those mages.” She didn't notice at first, but there was a weird metallic taste on her tongue, and when she spoke, blood hit the ground. What happened? Why was she bleeding, and what had they done to her in order to make her bleed this much?

"Poison, doll." Elena grinned like she was proud of herself, her eyes flickering in amusement, "Either you tell us where the mages are, or we let the poison kill all of you."

"You need them alive.” She reminded them, but they only glanced at each other like she was their entertainment.

“We don't need them, but we're going to make sure no one else can have them again." Kira stood up then and stepped away from her, looking back over to the shadows where the guards were standing, "Take her away. Make sure she has a nice little place to spend the rest of her pathetic little life."

"It's your last chance to save yourself."

"No, this is.” She had almost forgotten she still had the pistols with her- the pistols that could call on the mages' powers. Charlotte really only remembered when she felt her side for the wound given to her by the sword, and she held it up, firing immediately at a wide-eyed Elena.

She watched as everything stilled around her, a small sigh of relief escaping her lips before she realized, well, that she wasn't exactly safe. There was poison in her system, and she only had moments before time would start moving again. So, closing her eyes, she imagined the house, and a second later, she was there.

"Charlotte!” She was in the living room, and she knew it; and she was surrounded by the eleven mages who had been waiting for her there. She heard a few gasps as she swayed on her feet, and looked to see Percy had already jumped up and was holding her by her shoulders.

Mark's voice was frantic, but he made no move to get off the couch he was sitting on, "Are you okay? What happened to you?"

"There's poison in her blood.” She hadn't realized Dale was holding her arm up until she blinked slowly and turned to him.

Nico walked over to her then, placing his hands on her face and keeping her face still as he spoke, "Have you been followed?"

She wanted to say no, but she knew that they could easily trace her back to this place. They had to go, and quickly, but there was nowhere she could think of. Her eyes fell past Nico to where Darius was standing, and then it hit her.

"Darkside.” She muttered, weakly pointing to where the rug had been hiding the trapdoor.

"We can't trust them." Mika's voice called from behind. She wanted to ask why, but she remembered that to these mages, Darkside was a threat and a group they didn't know well.

Nero looked over at her and Nico and then he pulled Alex to where the trapdoor was, and the two of them uncovered it so they could see the dim space underneath.

"Are you sure they're going to help us?" Kaspar's voice was full of caution, but when she nodded, he did the same, and he was the first to jump down the trapdoor.

"The map and supplies. We won't be coming back." Angelo grabbed all of the things that were in plain sight and then tossed it down the trapdoor, where Kaspar and Alex had already descended down.

Erik was looking at her, and though she couldn't focus on him completely, she could see the worry that crossed his expression, "Make sure you live, Charlotte."

Then, he was gone down the trapdoor, and Nero nodded over to them before following. Someone scooped her off the ground. She rested her head against Darius's chest as he teleported. Suddenly, they had gone from where they were to where the other mages were.

"Stay with us." Mika was speaking from ahead of us and she couldn't help but think of the time he asked her to promise that she wouldn't leave them. Right then, she wanted to laugh, because she didn't think that being stabbed by her ancestor’s weapon arm would even be a possibility of how she left them.

"Keep your eyes open, Charlotte." Darius kept his lips close to her ear as he whispered, and she knew why. As long as she had something to focus on, she wouldn't lose complete focus on reality.

"There you are.” She didn't recognize the voice very well, but when she looked up, she could almost make out the blurred facial expressions belonging to Platon. There was light coming from behind him, and she tugged on Darius's sleeve.

"You are with Darkside?" Alex's voice was light and full of curiosity, and she didn't know what kind of gesture Platon made, but then they were walking past him and she was watching Platon as best as she could.

As they all entered the tunnels connecting their house to where Darkside had made a room, Platon waved his hand over the space behind the group, and it disappeared, leaving a dead end's wall in its place. The mages continued walking and eventually, they were all standing in the space she always went to when she needed answers from the two people that seemed to know everything.

"You made it." Gera's voice was loud and clear in the room, even in her state of grogginess. The next moment, he had run over to her and almost put a hand on her forehead, when Angelo's hand caught his and pulled it away.

"We're only here because she trusts you." Nero's voice was gentle but she could hear the warning in it.

"And with good reason, too." Otto's low voice retorted. A moment later, the leader of Darkside walked forward with his hands crossed over his chest, "I'm Otto, and I assure you that if I wanted you dead, I would have killed you long ago."

Charlotte laughed, and she could feel the mages look at her like she had gone crazy, but Otto chuckled as if he knew exactly what she was thinking; that he'd said the exact same thing to her once before.

"Darius, put her down." Dale gestured over to the couch the rest of Darkside had left open surprisingly; and when Darius laid her on top of it, Dale started to heal her by placing his hands over her wounds.

"We're thankful you are letting us stay here for the time being-" Nico was trying to be the sweet leader she was used to him being, but he was cut off by a scoff that most definitely came from either Angelo or Erik "-but we can't stay here."

She stared up at the mages and warlocks as they discussed everything, feeling her eyes drooping closed for a different reason than impending death. Charlotte was exhausted and wanted a few hours to catch up with her thoughts.

"Right now, this is the safest place you have." Otto reasoned calmly, though his arms hadn't dropped from where they were resting against his chest, "They're already starting the search party to find her."

"How do you know about that?" Nero's voice took on another level of threatening as he inched away from Otto and closer to the other mages.

"The world's still convinced we're working for the government." There was amusement in Gera’s voice as he spoke, and he shrugged, "We might have suggested that we might have seen Charlotte going up north."

"Even if we're safe for now, we need to keep moving." Alex's voice was still light, but now full of authority like Nico's and Nero's voices tended to be.

“Where do we go?" Mika asked, running his fingers through his hair.

Mark's voice wasn't wavering, but she knew he was worried, "We still have to find Levi."

As the muttering picked up and the mages and warlocks continued discussing their next step with even Dale joining them, she thought about what they were going to do next, and she could feel herself smile even as she finally let her eyes shut.

“We're going home."

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