Back at the house Astera had disappeared, I had waited for a few days for her to return but that was four days ago, I couldn't wait any longer. I also brought John and Nathan with me but they had to stay in the little apartment I attacked Carl in so I could move faster and in silence. Now hoping the shadows were concealing me from watching eyes, I crept towards the cage that held a body.
"Hey," My hand reached out to touch her shoulder. With a huge crash the bruised up Proserpina slammed herself into the other of the cage hurting herself more to get away. "It's only me sweets, can you tell me where that man went?"
"You mean the man who is trying to help me," She whispered cocking her head to the side in question, showing no sign of recognition.
"No, I'm your friend. I'm here to save you from this place."
"NO!" Proserpina boomed at me, "This is my home, the only home I have ever known! I will not leave." She crossed her arms over her legs hugging them close.
"Proserpina! Don't you be messing with me now!! We need to get you out of here so where is the damned key for this door."
"Who are you talking to?" Puzzlement crossed her face when Proserpina processed what I said.
"Are you well, Proserpina?"
"I don't know who you think you're talking to but I am not Proserpina."
"Of course you are! I'm Thia, don't you remember? Where do you think you're from?"
"Here, I have been here for years since I was wandering the streets when my parents abandoned me."
"God damn it!! What happened to you?" I demanded smacking my hand down causing a loud noise to echo. Both jumping and flinching from my hand, Proserpina cowered in the corner farthest from me.
"I see you found my latest project," a deep but angelic voice came from the other side of the room. Not at all in need of the cane he carried, a man stepped into the lighter part of the room. "You know she was a very hard to break this whole time and there is still some in her."
"What did you do?"
"I had helped her, don't worry there is still a part of her in there," he gestured to the shell of Proserpina curled up in a corner of the cage. "It took the whole week for her to become what she is now. She took a lot of my time, being too stubborn to tell me what I wanted to hear. By the way I would hurry back before something worst than me gets you." It took me a moment to realize he was giving me a chance to get away so with one last glance at Proserpina I went back to the shadows ready to leave.
My body hurt no matter how I moved but I couldn't help but flinch at the noises that filled the night air. The things the girl told me during her unexpected visit puzzled me greatly. I wanted to know why she called me that foreign name and what did she mean I wasn't from here. I had no recognition of the girl even though something in my senses told me both to trust her and distrust her sincerity.
"What's your name?" My friend asked me bringing up a desperate need to remember my name and flashes of his cane and my head underwater.
"I...I don't know." I stumbled trying to come up with it but couldn't find it in my brain yet again.
"Where are you from?"
"I DON'T KNOW!!!" I sobbed into my knees. The man nodded to me approvingly before walking away whistling a haunting but catchy melody.
My muscles ached from dragging Kaden's limp, muscular body around. My body pleaded for a break but I kept going not daring to stop when the sun was still down. Nothing up until now was a challenge at least not more than what I faced after I was finished getting him to where I needed him. Grunting with sweat pouring off me, I dropped Kaden in the town's small square and plopped down beside him.
"Ouch..." Kaden groaned lifting his hand to his head in pain.
"Shhh!! We need to be quiet. When you wake up you're going to angry and confused but you'll see. I need you to pay attention to where you are, and Proserpina's health. I'll find you real soon. Now go back to sleep," I soothed him back to his slumbering state. "Now we just have to wait."
I couldn't help but embrace the cool air and thrill of running through the streets. Even with every going to shit, I allowed the exhilarating energy, rush through my body. Energy pumped through my veins, heat made sweat appear on my brow and prove the work my muscles were doing while I sped down the road.
After Thia left to go do some research of a possible location of Proserpina, John ordered me to patrol the streets in search of Kaden. As Thia had told us, Kaden might have been waiting for something unless he found out some information to help our search. I was supposed to tell him, where we were and any information he didn't have but I had been down multiple roads with no sign of him.
The end of the road began to widen into a bigger space with a few other roads meaning this was the center of the town; I arrived at the town's square. Like some towns in the square there was a stone fountain.
It contained a baby with wings, standing on one foot spurting out water from its puckered lips. Smoothly the water trickled down the surface of the statue into a pool at the bottom covered in people's wishes in the form of coins.
It took a lot longer than I expected when a figure ran into the town's square. Getting up I moved to go get his attention when I analyzed his behavior. Casually the figure sat on the edge of the fountain then guided his hand through the water, clearly relaxed. Realizing that wasn't someone of the description I was waiting for I crouched back down taking special care to not be seen by the person at the fountain.
"Ooo! Is that the package?" A voice whispered curiously from close behind making a shiver crawl up my spine.
"Uh...yes." Whirling around, I almost ran into the person.
"Oh he looks good enough to please them. Wait! He is familiar with the dark." The man seemed to become uninterested in that moment before looking over my shoulder to the figure on the fountain.
"That one has new blood!! Not yet familiar, they will be pleased if I take him." He moved closer to the fountain in a skittish but predator way.
Panicking I tried to get his interest back on Kaden, "Wait please!! He could still please them!! I know he will!"
"Yes but so will he."
"But we made an arrangement!! I held up my end!"
"Yes you did quite well and I will be taking both with me. Bringing them both will please them more than before! Yes they are both coming with me."
"No! I told you one person; if you're going to take both then I want double!"
"Double will not be happening," At first glance the man looked like he morphed when he began to crawl on the floor like an unwanted pest.
I could practically feel all the sickening stuff about the approaching thing seep off of it. The air around it just about threatened to choke me with the possible things it had done in the past. Not allowing fear to paralyze me, I bolted from the scene taking twists and turns.
Suddenly from the corner of my eye I would see it gaining on me. Its legs pumping a little faster than mine. The grin on its face turned yellow in the moonlight, encouraging me to get going then I was tumbling head first into the gravel and everything hard. My leg burned hot when I got back up onto my good leg. Doing a fast limp I went the opposite direction I was going. Taunting me, it followed scanning me like a meal.
"You have hurt yourself," it spoke disapprovingly. "That was not nice of you to do but you'll still please them. Your performance will be poor but you're fresh not yet tainted. Yes you will still do good to please them especially with the other one not injured." It giggled like a school girl, clapping it's hands together in glee.
"What in the hell," I grunted out with an aching pain in my head waking me up. I was nowhere I was last night. I couldn't see Astera or anyone else for that matter. I was in a light room that held a white furniture and glass tables all around showing off the wealth here. Wanting to speak with Astera immediately about appropriate behavior when in need of information, I marched to the door. Swinging it open I was met with military men their rifles at the ready.
"Hey!! Get back in there!" One of them approached kicking me in the gut back into the room then shutting the room.
"What the hell!!" I got up keeping away from the door this time.
"God Damn It!!" I screamed into a pillow on Carl's plaid, torn up couch. Nathan hadn't returned back to the apartment after his run. His time was up not to be suspicious anymore. "What do we do now?" The fear stripped me of everything I built for myself my confidence, hope, and knowledge. I began to cry into my hands.
"We need to go out looking....oh shit you're crying!" John took up a place next to be at unease.
"Well yeah asshole!"
"Umm...can I help?"
"No I'm fine, we'll get through this."
"Yes we will! You crying has put me off guard though."
"I didn't know you could cry, much less have emotions."
"This is why, you're an asshole." I pushed my forearm against his shoulder in a playful way. Tears came faster but I couldn't help laughing at John while we sat there thinking what we were going to do.
I didn't have to open my eyes or try hard to remember why my leg burned with the fury of John. I also didn't need to know, the thing from last night had taken me away to a different location without letting me tell my friends what happened.
"Time to get up," a woman chirped at me.
"What day is it?" I ripped the light blanket off my face to reveal everything around me. The room was such a light lime green, it made me dizzy for a moment before my eyes focused. I laid upon a turquoise bed with the same colored sheets wrapped around me like my parents tucked me in the night before. All the furniture in the small room was the same shade of blue even the desk that stood next to the bed.
"Oh dear, it is not day yet." The woman's voice didn't falter while she analyzed me. She was an older woman near her mid 50's with fawn colored hair tied back in a bud highlighting her gentle grey eyes. Her wardrobe contained a violet dress that ended at her knees with high heel shoes with the pictures of cats.
"How long have I slept?"
"Oh not long at all my boy, just a wee few hours."
"What time is it?"
"None of your business boy, I'll be keeping the time around here unless you have unscheduled plans."
"What if I might have plans?"
"Oh don't worry about that the herbs I put into your broth will kick in soon then you won't have to leave."
"Whaaatt?" My question suddenly came out slurred in a drunk voice. "What diiid yoooouuu put in itt?" I collapsed back onto the bed but I wasn't unconscious, though I couldn't move my body.
"Hush now boy, we need to get you ready for the fight. You need to keep your strength." Despite my wishes to remain on the bed or even panic, the woman still chipper hosted me from the bed and onto a red wagon. Acting like she cared if I was hurt at all, the lady made sure my arms and legs were folded over in the fashion the dead are arranged in their coffins.
"Now you'll be a good boy and win me some coins in the fight tonight, won't you? You don't need to answer but that will be a yes or I will not be so nice next time. I can be very mean when I wish and I don't intend to be if you live." The woman went on speaking to me as her audience kindly threatening what would happen if I didn't do as I was being told.
The man that owned the place I stayed in now was dressed like he was wealthy. He had dress coat slung over his loose white t-shirt and wore black jeans with high top shoes. The sunglasses over his eyes made it impossible for me to tell what kind of man I was dealing with but so far I knew I was to do as I was told. Just like every other moment in my life.
"You're Kaden right?" His voice was smooth but frozen of emotion.
"Good because I know someone who knows you. Now I will tell this to you straight, no secrets. There is a possibility you will die tonight or maybe you'll live but either way it won't affect me. Let's be clear about that. All I want from you tonight is for you to put on a good show; put up a good fight to live through it. It's almost time for you to be announced; put these on and comb your hair. You're representing me tonight." The man threw a leather shirt at me with a leather belt holding a sheath.