The Darwin Chronicles, Book One: The Mountain Ranges

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Chapter 24

Emmett was with his sister and mother in the square. They were shopping for fruit when they heard screaming. They turned to see Rosetta and Amelia Roberts. Rosetta had a new mild burn on her arm.

"-always ruin everything!" Rosetta shouted.

"It was an accident!" Amelia shouted back.

"Always an accident, isn't it?!" The older woman slapped the girl in the face so hard that the sound echoed and the square went quiet. Amy fell to the ground with a cry, holding her face in her hands. "Your father, and all of those other people." Amy stood back up in a flash, a big, nasty bruise starting to form on her cheek.

"Dad was not my fault," She snarled.

"Of course it wasn't, Amelia Roberts. Out," Rosetta said. "Get out of my house!"

Amy looked at her, aghast. "I'm your daughter."

Rosetta lifted her chin. "I don't have a daughter. I only have two sons." Emmett expected Amy to crumple, and so did everyone else. But instead she stood up tall and straight, rolling her shoulders back proudly, lifting her chin high. She looked taller than Rosetta, or anyone in that moment, even though she was only about average height.

"Fine." She turned on her heel and started to walk out of the square, towards the woods.

"Amy!" Andrew grabbed her hand. "Wait!"

"No, Andrew." She pulled away from his grasp. "I'm almost an adult anyways." Amelia kept walking away form the silent square.


"Emmett," Eliza said. "Why don't you go find your friend Amelia and ask her to stay with us for awhile?"

"Really?"

"Yes. She's still underage, no matter what she says. Go now."

Emmett left his house and ventured into the woods, sure she was there. He reached the familiar clearing. Nothing. Where was she?

He had the feeling he was being watched and looked around into the trees. Nothing but blackness. Then suddenly, a pitch black Labrador retriever pounced at him. He screamed as he fell onto his back and shoved the bitch away. It turned into Amy, who was laughing. it was the first time he'd ever heard her genuinely laugh in a happy way.

"Ouch," He said. "I'm glad I found you. My mom wanted to ask you if you wanted to stay with us for awhile."

She tilted her head. "I told you that I can take care of myself."

Emmett sighed. "Amy, I know that you can. But you're still a kid."

"Thank you, o great adult. But I don't want to go to another home just to leave."

"What do you mean?"

"You haven't heard? The Ciis's hideout is in the mountain ranges. Joseph and Steven have agreed that Joseph will take a group of selected soldiers into the mountains to fight them."

"So who's in the group?"

"I don't know. But there's a slight chance I'll be in it. Same as everyone else."

"Did Steven tell you this?"

Her eyes flared, and he got the feeling that she didn't like Steven. "No. I don't talk to him."

"And why not?" Emmett asked. Amelia sighed.

"A lot of people don't like me because I'm a loner. It doesn't matter."

"Amy, you keep saying that you're a loner. How are you a loner? You have me. You have Isaac."

"Sure, Isaac fancies me. But I don't fancy him back. I never talked to him back home, and I still don't. And you...you're my Receiver. That's different."

"How's that different? It's almost like you don't want any friends."

"I guess..." She exhaled for so long he was afraid she'd pass out. "I guess you're the only person in the world I can trust. You see, people have been hurting me for my whole life. In different ways. I loved my father with all of my heart, and he died. My friend Michelle died in a fire that I accidentally caused. Your father, who was my Giver, died because I was destroying your home. My mother disowned me. Aaron, my little brother, was killed by shadow serpents right in front of me. Andrew won't risk losing Mom to help me. He knows Mom needs him now. I don't want to love anyone, only to have them suffer. And a lot of it was at my hands, too. Aaron. I could have saved him, you know. If I'd remembered that phoenix fire could kill shadow serpents sooner, he'd still be alive. If Dad hadn't died, my mother wouldn't have secretly resented me. Then Andrew wouldn't have to tear himself apart. If I hadn't been a Legend, Michelle and Darren would still be here. Do you get it?"

"Those were all accidents."

"But they're still dead, Emmett. Do me a favor." She reached around her neck and tugged off the shadow serpent fang that was around her neck. "They somehow made it so that it can't kill anyone anymore. I'm giving this to you. You're the only person in this world I can possibly care about or trust. I don't want to watch people suffer at my hands anymore. Do you know why Darren died?"

"The wooden plank fell onto his head."

"There's a story behind that. He was trying to get to me. You know how painful it is. To be possessed like that. To feel that rage. Half of you wanting to kill, the other half trying to stop yourself. It's like being literally being torn in half. Your father sensed that. He knew how to help me. He was trying to get to me to help, but I purposely destroyed that house, making the rubble land on him. He died for me." Emmett was silent, and she continued. "I saw how much it hurt you and your family." Amelia opened his hand and dropped the fang into his hand and close his finger around it. "My father died for yours. Your father died for me. I know you died that day too, Emmett. This fang holds my life. Destroy the fang, or protect it. I'm completely at your mercy. If you destroy it to hurt me, I won't have to live through it."

Emmett realized that the fang was glowing gold in his hands. "What are you-?"

"I'm connecting my lifeline to yours. If you die, I die too."

He jumped to his feet, but so did she, keeping the connection. "You can't do this. I won't let you!" Emmett told her. He closed his eyes.

"I'm tired of watching the people I love die. You'll be my last, Emmett. If you died, I wouldn't be able to live through that. I trust you. Closing your eyes won't stop it. Did you know that anyone can store their life in a shadow serpent fang? Well, only Legends, anyway. This is how to strengthen the bond between Receiver and Giver. Ultimate trust."

"Amy!"

"Please, Emmett." He opened his eyes, and saw her grey ones. They pleaded him for something. For him to trust her completely. For him to trust her that everything would work out and be okay. She was his Giver, and he was her Receiver. He knew that this was their destiny, that this was every Legend's destiny. To achieve the ultimate bond with their Giver or Receiver. To share abilities. To sense each other's feelings. He relented and stop resisting, and the golden glow strengthened, filling him with warmth and hope.

"What about me? Do I give you my lifeline?" He asked.

"No. It can go one way. It's stronger with two, but because the power of a bond formed by a Receiver and Giver is so great, your fang possessing you was destroyed. You have your own life. I wasn't healed like that, so this is what happens." The glow stopped, and the fang felt warmer in his hands. He put it around his neck. The burden of another human's life was surprisingly not as heavy as he thought, emotionally or physically.

"Thank you," She said.

"Are you coming home with me, or not?" Amy thought for a second, then nodded.

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