Luck of the Draw

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The family opposite chose to speak then. It seemed that they had finally been assured that cooperation with the group opposite would lead to a brighter future than anything in here.

"E-Excuse me, sir..." The family spoke in a quiet seemingly alien tongue, which was the first thing that immediately put Rowen off. Despite never hearing of this language ever before, he could understand them perfectly.

"...Who said that?" Rowen enquired to the darkness in English.

"Keep your voice down. They'll hear you out there." The person responded in the unknown tongue.

"...What?" Rowen whispered then, still in English.

"What's wrong? Why aren't you speaking in the mother tongue?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Rowen had become very confused.

"Oh my. You've never been to Nth before."

This was the first time Rowen had heard of an Nth. Apparently it was a place, judging by the language used. Rowen felt in innate desire to question the person further.

"What do you mean? What is Nth?"

"It's where we belong."

Devyn came back into focus. "I have a plan, but I'll need y- Oh, sorry. Am I interrupting?"

"Shh! You're being too loud."

Devyn was now confused as well. "What?"

"Quiet down! I was just asking your friend whether you guys had ever been to Nth before."

"What is Nth?" Devyn enquired.

"I just asked them that. Apparently it's where we belong, but I don't really understand it." Rowen explained the encounter to them, seemingly unconvinced.

"You didn't let me finish. Nth is the place where people like us came from. It's also where we should get back to."

"Well..." Devyn started a sentence they couldn't finish, probably because they were right. The human world had been closed to them and if they didn't want to stay in these cages, there was only one place they could go.

"I can bend these bars." The person admitted. "Do you have a way to get to Nth?"

"Mmm..." Aeth was coming to. "What happened...? Are we still in the van...?"

"Aether. We're in a disciplinary unit, but we're about to break out." Rowen took one look in the direction of the voice before continuing. "We're actually going to need your help."

Devyn quickly explained to the person that the four of them had different bloodalters, and upon explaining Paris' bloodalter a gasp of shock came from their direction.

"That's perfect! That's just what we need."

"...What do you mean?" Aeth asked while fashioning a stardust contraption to poke Paris awake with.

"We can use your friend's daemonid powers and your synthesising powers to make a way to Nth."

"My what?" Paris was finally awake now, also. She'd only managed to get the last part of the sentence, though, leaving her very confused.

"Okay, everyone! Listen up!" The person called out to the rest of the disciplinary centre, which quickly took on an easy silence as they noticed their native tongue in the air.

"These people here are going to help us escape. They have a plan!" A low cheer emanated from some of the further corridors.

"Okay, so here's the plan. Rowen, I need you to block the doors from the outside using your roots to tangle the bars on the doors. Then, our friend here will open all of the cages and I will push us all to the center clearing. Then, Aeth will create a portal frame for Paris to plunge into, creating the portal to Nth. Finally, I'll push us all through and break the frame just before making it through. Sound good?" Devyn had clearly used their quiet time effectively.

"Wait... How do I get my roots to the doors?"

"This building is built pretty badly, as you discovered. Try finding a patch of soil near the doors?"

"Oh. Okay, I'll see what I can do." Rowen wasn't entirely sure if that would work, but it was worth a shot.

"And me?" Paris asked. "What do you mean by plunge? I can't exactly put my head through an empty portal and expect results."

"I understand." The person spoke up. "I'll explain to your friend how to build the correct shape for the portal. If it's right, you diving through should trigger it. Simple."

Once it was assured that everyone was clear on the plan, everyone got to work. Rowen placed their hands on the crack to try and find a patch of soil near the doors, Devyn worked on billowing the breeze inside the unit and the person next door went to break open the concrete bars, seemingly with ease. Once the threat of the guards had been dealt with, everyone moved in quick unison. The person howled, unexpectedly, down every corridor. After only a moment, more concrete was being slashed and smashed through. Devyn hurried everyone to the clearing where Aeth and the person were setting up. In the light of the grey sky, it became clear that the man in fact had a Canis subset bloodalter, effectively making them a werewolf of sorts. I guess it explains the howling and concrete-breaking.

Everything was in place. Most of the people trapped in the unit were now waiting at the clearing, Devyn had hurried everyone and was now looking for stragglers and Paris was waiting for Aeth to finish synthesising the portal frame. There was just one problem; Rowen's roots were at such a tension that it caused him to remain rooted. The group would have to grab him before they made their escape. It was go time, nonetheless.

"Ready!" Aeth shouted. Paris took a running start and jumped, feet-first, into the portal frame. It exploded outwards in a pinkish light, causing everyone to shield their eyes. When the pink light settled, an image was now in the portal frame. It was ready. Paris, as a matter of fact, was on the other side of the frame but still in the human world. They'd just jumped through an opening, rather than a portal. Everyone hurried into the portal as the guards could be heard banging on every door. The person stood beside the portal, ushering people in and occasionally looking towards the Paris and Devyn, who were running out of the clearing. They were going to look for Rowen.

Rowen sat completely still in their cage, eyes closed but face drenched in sweat. When Paris and Devyn made it to where he sat, they realised how little time they had to get out.

"On the count of 3, you cut Rowen's roots and I'll push us all to the clearing. Hopefully, we're fast enough to make it. I'll also have to grab Aeth on the way out." Devyn made a plan and talked over it with Paris

"Gotcha. I can grab Aeth if you're too focused." Paris was in.

"Alright, cool. 1... 2... 3!"

A loud SNAP! echoed as Paris slashed through Rowen's roots. Rowen seized in pain and shock, but it was small enough of a reaction to allow Devyn to push the three of them to the exit without having to get Rowen to calm down. Not one of them saw the blood pouring from Rowen's palms as the root ends receded, leaving the injury on his hands.

They rounded a corner just as a group of guards managed to break the doors down. They reached out and attempted to halt Devyn's movement with their weapons, but all it led to was a slash on the leg, which they could ignore for the time being. Paris kept watch as they moved faster than the guards and reached the clearing. As they sped toward the portal, they saw the person that helped them before sprint into the portal as Aeth could be seen breaking form. The portal would fall any second and they needed to be inside. As they sped towards the portal, Paris reached out to grab Aeth. Hopefully they'd be fast enough to slip inside the portal before it closes.

Paris' reach met Aeth's back. Clutching onto them, Devyn felt a tug in that direction as they took on a new weight. Aeth broke focused and immediately looked tired. None of them had done anything on this scale before, so they were all pushed to the limit. Especially Devyn. Turns out that constantly pushing their powers to the limit not only affected their energy but also their physical body. Any time a particularly harsh gust of wind blew through, cuts and scratches would appear on Devyn's pale legs and face. And that was just the bits they could see.

They approached the faltering portal. It began to break apart, spreading stardust all over the floor. The shimmery particles neared them quicker than expected, causing Devyn to pick up the pace. It placed a terrible weight on their body, but not as much as death would if they didn't make it. The image in the portal began to blur and shrink. The portal frame began to collapse, but they were almost there. A little bit more...

The hard cutoff of the portal came all at once, the image crashing into itself as the portal seemed to fold infinitely before becoming an indeterminate mass. And the group... had made it inside. Albeit without considerable injury.

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