4.4 - Damien
“I was shot,” I defend myself, trying to keep my voice steady. “Look.”
She follows my finger as I point to my ear. Christy rolls her eyes and snorts.
“Looks like the bullet just touched you.”
I’ll make sure the shot ends up in the head next time, would that be enough to make you happy? I think sourly. Well, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first.
“Cecilia was there too,” I say, dropping my arm along the side. “She wrestled with a magician, a girl who looked to be in her twenties. Cecilia seemed to know who the magician was and tried to take something from her, but I didn’t see what it was.”
“What did Rylen say?”
“Just that Caleston is looking for someone,” I reply as the doors open behind me. “Something about the Lost…”
“Nyla! Lesley! ”
Both Christy and I look up when we hear Simon shouting. In the doorway is an exhausted Lesley supported by Nyla, who is covered with dirt. Lesley’s raspy breath is loud, and the skin glistens with sweat mixed with more dirt than on Nyla. Even her dreadlocks, which are otherwise visibly blonde.
“What happened?” Alex asks and hurries up to them.
“I found her in the tunnels,” Nyla replies to Lesley, who is still gasping for air. “The Guardians had literally taken over the hiding place.”
She leads the limp Lesley to a vacant bunk and sits her down, while Alex hands over an oxygen mask.
“It looks worse than it is,” Lesley protests, as Nyla wipes her forehead clean of clotted blood. “My ankle is the worst.”
The words are suffocated behind the mask.
“What happened down there?” Christy asks as Alex begins to heal Lesley.
Her voice is still stiff, but the difference to when she spoke to me is clear as day. Not the slightest trace of hatred.
“I don’t know how long I ran around in that damn labyrinth. The Guardians were everywhere and refused to give me time to catch my breath. When Nyla found me, we could get out and teleport away.”
“We tried to teleport directly from the tunnels, but the Guardians had filled them with a gas that neutralized all magic,” adds Nyla.
“But why do you look like you’ve rubbed soil all over yourself?” I ask.
“It’s not soil,” Nyla answers sternly. “It’s soot and remnants of smoke.”
None of us seem to know how to react.
“There was a girl in the tunnels who escaped from the Guardians,” Lesley continues. “They managed to push her into a corner when she was about to get out. But…” She pauses and frowns. “She created fire out of nothing.”
It feels like I’m drowned in ice water. Fire from nothing?
“She probably had a lighter or something,” Simon says.
“No. She held out her hand, and immediately, a wall of flames rose between her and the Guardians.”
The red-haired girl didn't have anything in her hand either. It seems I wasn't imagining things after all.
“But what about the gas?” asks Simon.
“It might not have spread there,” Lesley hissed indignantly. “I know what I saw.”
The shirt sticks to my back from cold sweat. Rylen’s words about The Lost echo in my head, and it can't be a coincidence that this was exactly the girl that Cecilia was focused on. If I had helped, if I had done something instead of just leaving her, she would already be here. My lungs are cramping as the worst scenario occurs to me. What if I let Cecilia take the girl straight to Caleston? For all we know, he uses her right now to win the war. If Christy finds out about this, I’m screwed.
I become painfully aware of her gaze, it is as if she is trying to drill into my head and listen in on my thoughts. I have to get out of here before anyone notices anything.
I force my body to relax and do my best to walk steadily towards the doors. All the time I fight against the urge to run, it would reveal me to Christy.
I manage to get through the corridors and out the gate. The cold morning air calms the feeling of burning fever and fills my body with the welcomed oxygen. The head stops spinning and it becomes easier to get further away.
When no one is watching, I lean against the fence and bend forward with my hands on my knees. Shut up, shut up, shut up, I repeat to the demons in my head that are trying to drive me insane.
Come on Damien, think logically. What if it wasn't Cecilia who captured her? I actually did not see what happened after the Guardian's interrupted their struggle. Maybe they caught her?
Not that it would be better, but she would be out of reach for Caleston, and it would give us some time.
Outside the fence, the streets lead away as if with a promise of freedom. It would be so easy to go outside the gates and teleport away. Where doesn't matter, it can be all the way to Australia for all I care. Christy wouldn't be able to reach me there.
The only thing that has stopped me so far is my debt to Alex. But in the choice between honor and survival, I choose survival every time. But if I flee now, there is no turning back. If Christy ever catches up, my death is assured.
It would also prove that she was right about me…