Chapter 21 - Found Again
“Grant? Hellooo? Aren’t you going to get on this ride with us?” Rhett asked, waving a hand in front of him.
“Sorry guys, I’m not feeling well all of the sudden. You guys can keep going on rides, I’m going to go sit on one of those benches in the shade.” Grant pointed towards Knairez.
“Aw, okay. If it gets too bad just tell us, we’ll go back.” Ambri said, looking kind of bummed out.
“Thanks.” Grant turned his back and headed past the copious amounts of attractions for such a localized place. He kept his focus on the ground, trying to cover the familiar sounds of rides moving , carnies shouting, and excited screeching. The only thing that remained in his senses was his sight. That lonely bench singled out, everything else blurred within his vision.
The focused tunnel that his perceptions brought him guided him with no other obstructions to his destination. The temperature noticeably dropped as soon as he stepped into the shade. The hard wooden surface brought him comfort as he sat down, and rested his face within his hands.
He hadn’t been to any such festival similar to this one since that day. His memories bashed within his skull, breaking and chipping away at the sanity that tried to stay afloat. A war of reasoning, a conflict of responsibility. Why couldn’t he save Elijah?
His breathing patterns had only exacerbated the longer he stayed out here. He shut his eyes to try and silence his feelings. Deep and calm breaths, he mentally ordered himself. He knew he could get through it, although as soon as he would open his eyes again, he thought he might fall back under.
The senses he finally started repressing shattered through as a vaguely familiar voice called out.
“Grant! I didn’t think I would find you here, I’m even ahead of schedule to be meeting with you again.”
His body stiffened as he wiped his hands from his face. He looked in the direction of the voice. His mental state jumbled further.
A smile crept across her face, and her dark purple hair swung side to side like a pendulum disappearing and reappearing behind her back as she trotted towards him.
“Leave me alone!” Grant gave one look to Rinari and turned his face towards the ground, shutting his eyes and focusing on his breathing once again.
“Oh, is that so? I don’t think I will.” She sat to the right of Grant on the bench. “Say, I didn’t get to properly thank you for saving my baby. I’ve been thinking about how to go about this, but here, take this.”
Grant ignored her, he just wanted to relax and forget everything. He had no time for her.
“Well, if you aren’t going to take it,” She said and slipped a piece of paper into the pocket of his jeans, causing him to jolt up. “Call me if you need anything.”
Grant finally looked over at her and scowled.
“You don’t know anything, Grant.”
“How did you even know I would be here?!”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You’re not the one I came here for. Meeting you was just a bonus. Anyway, I’ll be on my way now. Ambri is coming and I better get out before she spots me. Until we meet again in Lyros.” She sunk within the shadows of the building and made her way out.
She knows Ambri? And Lars? Who exactly was Rinari? Grant was mentally under attack from everything happening around him.
“Hey Grant, are you feeling better?” Rhett said, extending out a water bottle.
“I don’t think better is the right word, but thanks. You guys can keep at it, I’ll be fine sitting here.”
“Are you sure?” Ambri asked, obviously wanting to stay longer.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I just need to cool off a bit.”
“All right man, if you’re sure,” Rhett said.
“You can always head inside Knairez, they have a Yar’s Burgers restaurant in the back corner where people like to relax if you are looking to cool off,” Ambri said.
“Oh really? In that case, yeah take all the time you need. Mind if you let me grab something from your car first?”
Saraiya sat on her deck, reading a book as she occasionally looked up, watching the residents tending to their lawns. This was the perfect time of the year to always be outside, breathing in all the fresh air. The best part was, out here it was peaceful, a direct opposite of her upbringing in Montria. However, Saraiya felt a certain unease to the atmosphere that surrounded Lyros.
She set her book down and walked out onto the edge of the street. In order to keep her senses sharp, and her mind full of inspiration, she took daily walks around and outside of the village. Although, lately she had been making her trips shorter as the roars kept her on guard.
Grass pressed under her feet as she walked towards the road. She stood firmly on the road and moved her head in both directions, staring out into the wilderness beyond. Ambri’s cages sat in the distance. Had Ambri gone mad? Was she just trying to lure the lions in more towards the village with her crazy ideas? There is no way the lions are going to get trapped in that cage, Saraiya thought.
Saraiya shook her head. She made up her mind. No lions were going to stop her from enjoying a day full of adventure, especially if they could soon be wandering the single street of Lyros searching for food every night. This walk was to also provide evidence to give Ambri proof that her ideas were dangerous. She turned around, walked back to her trailer, and opened the door. Strapping a dark blue bag to her back, and replacing her sandals with her gray scuffed sneakers, she headed out.
“Going on a walk, Saraiya?” Kale called out.
“Yeah, just a little one.”
“Why are you taking your bag then?”
“...I want to stop in the middle of the fields nearby and relax.”
“Oh, okay. Have fun!” He peered into her, keeping a close eye.
Once again, Kale could just not let others just live their lives. He had to be in the know, and watching. Saraiya knew however, that he wouldn’t follow her out, so it didn’t matter if she lied.
Had it been around three weeks since she planned a walk this long? No, it had been even longer. She had one place in mind to head to, and with everyone else gone for the day, no one would come look for her.
Ambri always let herself go when she traveled to Montria, her perception of time vanished. She’d say she was only going for a small afternoon trip and not be back home until the moon was bright in the sky. And that’s why this was the perfect time.
The forest that rested out beyond Lyros. By walking, reaching the area took about an hour. She could drive, but the experience of the journey is what enticed her. Once within the first couple weeks she had moved in, she went there, but Ambri gave her a tough time about it. This time, it was her mission to get there and investigate more. Every night as the lion’s roars grew closer, her interest grew in volume.
Nha-Stop came into view and she took for the doors.
“Hey Saraiya! Coming in on your day off? You’re that lonely?” Natch teased.
“Hah, actually it’s the opposite. I’m not enjoying my solitude enough today, I’m heading out onto the endless fields. I just stopped by to grab some snacks and drinks.”
“Sounds boring, I can’t stand it around here, but this is the only place that would hire me.” He sighed. “Can’t wait til I find a decent paying job in Montria so I don’t have to commute for such a huge chunk of my day.”
“It’s not boring at all, it’s just peaceful. And if you actually worked night shifts all the way until closing, you’d know it isn’t always boring around here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m trying to say, there’s something about Lyros. I just have no idea what. Or maybe I do.” She winked.
“You’re starting to sound like all the customers, Saraiya.”
“Maybe so, but there has to be a reason for all the talk.”
“Oh, you should come hang out with all of us one night. Maybe you will realize it’s not that boring,” Saraiya said.
“I don’t know about that… I’ll think about it.”
“Tomorrow night’s the night if you want to.”