When her eyes opened again, she noticed she hadn't been moved an inch. Charlotte was still laying down on the couch, and Darkside and her mages were discussing things in hushed tones. They didn't seem completely comfortable with each other, of course, but she was glad her mages were able to make at least a couple of friendships after being asleep for so long.
Mika was the first to notice she was awake and slowly stepped away from where the other mages and Darkside were huddled. He pulled her up so that she was sitting and then laid down on the couch with his head on her lap. Laughing lightly, she ran her fingers through his hair and remembered the time Ion had done something similar to her.
"They're a little skeptical about letting us go back to your town." His voice was low so that the other mages wouldn't be distracted, yet Percy and Erik looked their way. Percy smiled as he saw her and turned back, but Erik's eyes narrowed as he focused on her.
Suddenly, she was aware that everyone had turned to her. What they were thinking, she didn't know, but she wasn't very comfortable with being stared at in such a way.
Nico, being the ever cautious and gentle leader, walked over to where she and Phong were. The other mages trailed after him, but she couldn't look past the worry in Nico's eyes.
"We have a few questions for you, if you don't mind answering them."
Charlotte realized that even if she
didn't want to answer their questions, she had no choice but to answer them. Dale was holding the map within his hands and Nero was looking at it from over
his shoulder. Both males had their eyebrows furrowed, as if they saw something
on the map that didn't make sense.
When she looked over to Mark, she realized she knew what had concerned them. They were wondering why she wanted to go in one direction when Levi was in the other. Mark's shoulders were tense as he stood there silently, waiting for someone else to decide the plan of action.
"Are you really the descendant of the women who put us in these rings?" Angelo asked, and when she looked over at him, his posture wasn't any more relaxed than Mark's. Angelo had once said he was in love with Sienna, and that she reminded him of her. She felt her head nod just slightly, and the betrayal in his eyes spoke volumes to her, "Why didn't you tell us?"
"We told her not to." Nero answered for her, and the other magical beings turned to him and Douglas in surprise, "We were planning to tell you when Levi was with us, so you wouldn't forget what she's doing for us and instead remember who she has been born as."
Scoffing, Angelo turned his back on the rest of us and walked away, and she couldn't help but feel the tug on her heartstrings to follow him and apologize for all that she had hidden from them.
"We still had a right to know." In contrast to Nero's strong and straightforward tone, Kaspar's had gone quiet and almost timid, "We were all affected by Sienna and the sorceress sisters."
"And of us all, Charlotte has had to deal with the most." Everyone but Angelo then turned to Darius, who crossed his arms over his chest as he stood beside Erik, "Despite who she was and who she could be, she found us all, promised to free us, and is still working to free us."
The room had gone silent for a few minutes, and as her fingers continued running through Mika's hair, she took that time to look over the beings in the room. Angelo was still facing away from the group, though she could see the shaking in his shoulders. The Darkside warlocks were standing against the wall with their eyes flickering over the mages in amusement. Gera even winked as she passed over his gaze, her eyes falling onto Alex's in the corner of the group.
"I have a question." Alex stepped forward as soon as he saw he had her attention. For a moment, his eyes flickered down to where Mika was laying, and then he looked up at her with his lips curled into a curious frown, "What happened when we left the isle?"
Charlotte fingers froze then and she felt herself flinch. It hadn't been too long since she escaped and she was certainly scarred by what had happened in that temple. She found her hand suddenly being clasped into Mika's, and when she looked down to see his reassuring gaze looking back at her, she let them know everything that had happened. When she looked up again, her eyes immediately went off toward Angelo. He had turned around during her story; and though his eyes were red from shedding tears, his features were soft.
"They said they 'helped her understand'?" When she nodded her head to confirm, Dale's eyes darkened and he dropped his shoulders, "They possessed her. They were known during their time as humans as masters of the mind."
"Sienna would have never agreed to what they did. I should have remembered that." Muttered Percy, and when she looked at the goofy giant, his eyes were clouded in guilt. How well did these mages know Sienna?
"We have to find Levi." Mark finally spoke his heart's true desire, though his shoulders remained tense as he focused his gaze on her, "Why are we going to the town when the map says Levi is somewhere else?"
She didn't know how to tell them that Levi had been appearing in her nightmares and that she finally realized he was in her castle back in town. Charlotte didn't have a reason as to why she was right and they should go where she decided was right to go. Like Dale said, her ancestors were known as masters of the mind. What if they somehow warped her mind into thinking Levi was at home?
"I have a feeling. Just trust me, please." No one spoke for a moment as she asked for their trust, and for a moment, she believed that meant that they wouldn't go with her again.
When someone cleared their throat, she looked up to see Nico nod his head, "We'll follow you to the ends of the Earth."
"Do you really think you can afford to take that risk?" Otto's voice had her thinking that maybe he didn't want to be of help to them anymore, what with them being told to surrender the group to the government, "We are coming with you."
"No way.” She shook her head rapidly, and the magical beings had their eyes widened as they never expected for her to decline the help from Darkside, "If you get caught helping us, they'll accuse you of treason. I don't want them to put you in rings."
"They wouldn't be able to put us in rings." Gera's lips were curved into a smirk as he corrected her, and with a shake of his head, he pushed off the wall, "They already have us tied to bracelets."
Otto cleared his throat when the room reached another silence, "We've had the same master for centuries. He'd saved our lives when our bracelets fell into Elena's hands. He'd asked if he could free us, much like you plan to, but we decided we would enjoy living as his companion. He's a good kid- a little clumsy and with a questionable group of friends, though."
"He gives you freedom?" Erik's eyes narrowed as if the idea itself were absurd, but she just watched Gera smile and nod once more.
"He lets us do whatever we want. If he needs something, he just goes into a small meeting room like this one. Since Platon created it, he knows whenever someone enters one of his rooms, so we never miss our master when he needs us."
"Leo. Your master is Leo." It made sense to her, since they had insinuated that senior Leo tipped it off to them that she had gone looking for the rings. It made sense that senior Leo was so worried when she told him she had to find the rings.
"Your childhood love, yes." Otto's voice had hints of amusement filling it now. As another voice cleared his throat, Otto continued, seeing the confusion on her face, "We enchanted him when we first met him. It enabled his age to change, so that is why you believe you grew up with our master."
Clearing his throat once more, Nero cut into their conversation and tilted his head, "This Leo; would he be able to get us into the town without being detected?"
The sound of a wall creaking had her turn her head to Platon. The warlock was grinning as he pulled his hand away from a section of the wall that had actually disappeared into the ground, "Why don't you ask him yourself?"
"Ottie, we have-" senior Leo looked nervous as he walked into the room, but he cut himself off as he saw the mages in the room, and finally, her.
Senior Leo had always been handsome. He always dressed his best and had the kind of smile that could melt her heart easily; but at that moment, she felt nothing. He was still good looking, but she silently realized that any one of her mages was much more handsome than he was.
The fact that he was a familiar face had her both relieved and worried. Relieved because he was still alive, but worried because he had bruises and cuts lining up his entire frame and he looked as if he would fall over right there.
"Dale, can you heal him?” She asked, and even though Dale looked at her in surprise, he nodded and hurriedly crossed over to senior Leo in order to heal him. As he did, she slowly pushed Mika off her and joined the two of them where they stood.
"You're still alive." senior Leo breathed in relief. He made no move to reject the healing, but his attention was solely on her. Someone coughed then, and finally remembering they weren't alone, senior Leo let his eyes roam over the mages, "You found them."
"Most of them." Nico slowly made his way over to them as well and held a hand out for senior Leo, "You must be Leo. We wanted to ask for your help."
Seeing the confusion on senior Leo's face, Otto explained the situation, and Leo's face went from nervous to terrified. His hand kept randomly flying to his hair as if something was bothering him, and tears were forming at the corners of his eyes.
"Well that's going to be a problem." Leo sounded apologetic, but she knew there was something even worse that was going on, "But that's why I came down here. I was given my letter of promotion today. I'm to go to the front lines-"
Charlotte gasped, as did the Darkside warlocks. Senior Leo was going off to the front lines; no, he was actually going off to be transformed into one of them.
"-the day after tomorrow. I thought of running away, of hiding until they gave up on me... but I can't do that to my boys. They don't even know what this means."
He was talking about Squad-A, and though she didn't have very fond memories of anyone in their town, she knew that it was different for senior Leo. Even if he was centuries years old, he still found himself in Squad-A, and those boys looked up to him.
With that, senior Leo became exhausted by his own fear, and Platon and Aldus took him to another room. Charlotte know that even though senior Leo showed some faith in her over the years, he was no different from everyone else who belittled her. However, she remembered that Leo treated her like a little sister and that he was the one that let her go after the rings.
"I wish... I wish I could do something to help him.” She dropped her head and sighed, picturing senior Leo as he was forced into becoming one of them. Would he be scared, or was she thinking little of him?
"You told us before, of a boy who allowed you to come find us." Nero spoke out of nowhere, and she lifted her head just slightly in order to hear him better, "Was that Leo?"
All she did was nod, and the next moment, the mages as well as the confused Darkside warlocks that remained trailed off into the room senior Leo was brought into, and she slowly followed them. Charlotte watched as the mages looked to each other, and a dangerous gleam entered their gazes. Finally, Douglas smirked and cracked the knuckles on his fingers.
"Forget going into town undetected. As of now, it is under the control of the mages of BLOOD."