Master

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Chapter 50

SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know this is late coming, but by editing and rewriting its even longer so its worth it, I promise!!!!!

Also WOOOO, Chapter 50!! The halfway mark guys!!!

LMFAO, jk, I ain’t on that madness - this book will not be that long, we probably have like 20 chapters left.

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Kalem’s P.O.V

I only get broken glimpses.

With only this narrow vision of the world from over a shoulder, I could only see abrupt shimmers of gold and black that tore across the sky above me, painting the once perfect purple with intrusive strokes of darkness.

There was so much pain.

The type you felt in your bones, deeper than the magic in your veins.
The kind of pure agony that only chance of escape was to come out in hollow screams.

These lands that should’ve been covered in gentle pastels and full of life and love, were now lined from side to side by vicious scorch marks.

Up above, so many fell to the ones who disappeared from place to place, with their massive sharp wings that were just as black as the land they were destroying below.

The land we were on... We weren’t supposed to be down here.

I close my eyes, wanting to hide away but there was no way to hide from that horrible smell, a mix of ash and rotting flesh that felt like it was inside of me.

They’d been people, but now, they could only float through the winds as specs.

It hurt to see it all, but it hurt even more to feel the way nature was hurting too.

Everything was dying around us, and there was no way to stop it.

When a small cry tries to crawl up my throat, the arms carrying me, tighten brutally, cutting it off before it ever had a chance to reach the air.

“Please, Zani. Not a sound, not now.”

My eyes slide open as I’m torn from one dream to another, but this didn’t feel like a dream.

I try to sit up, searching for Master, but my body barely moves, it just stays glued down to something hard and cold beneath me that wasn’t my pillow.

I hear myself groan, but it sounds so far away to my own ears, like it was someone else making that sound.

I keep tugging, trying to get away from the cold, but it was impossible when my arms felt all weird and heavy, like they were suddenly the heaviest things in the world.

My eyebrows pull closer as I try to figure out what was happening, but I couldn’t think of much when my loopy brain was waking up much slower than the rest of me.

It felt like something was wrong, like something very bad was happening.

I try to look around through my heavy eyes, but I don’t see much beyond the light that shines down on me, which didn’t make sense because our room was never this bright.

It was dark most times, like those dark black lines and dark wings.

Zani!

I blink, but for some reason, it takes so much longer than normal for me to do it.

I’m almost asleep again when some broken sound echoes through the air and rings through my ear, making me fight extra hard to open my eyes again.

It was the sound been crushed on the way out of its owner who sounded so sad, so pained... like someone was tearing some poor animal apart.

I hoped they were okay.

“Master,” I croak, calling for him like I always did when I had a bad dream so he could make everything better.

He’d come soon and wrap his arms around me. He’d hold me close and whisper his love to me, and every mean and horrible thing would run away with him close.

But someone else comes instead of Lincoln.

They draw close and cover my mouth and nose with something soft that smelt bad.

“Go back to sleep,”

I try to, even though they scared me, because I knew that when I woke up, I’d be in Master’s arms.

───────────────────

When I open my eyes next, there’s a light dancing across from me with yellow, orange and red swirls.

It moves from side to side, growing bigger and then a little smaller as it pushes the darkness back. The moving light helps me see all the tightly intertwined branches that were caved above me like a roof.

I blink away the heavy foggy cloud that felt like it had been over me for hours, but was finally going away.

As I look around, slowly, things begin to click into place.

Those colourful swirls weren’t dancing light, but a small fire, and the trees overhead were nothing like the plants in my garden or around the castle.

I didn’t know these branches... or the person that sat just a few paces away... but I did know that they were not my Master.

Master’s body was not that big, he was tall but not that huge, and Lincoln never ever hunched over things like that, he was always sitting straight and tall.

But if that wasn’t Lincoln and this wasn’t home, then...

My heart starts thumping in my chest, moving faster now as my thoughts come together to shout loudly that something was very wrong.

I’m moving back before I realise, my body trying to escape from this scary nightmare where I was all alone, but I don’t get very far with the heavyweights that cling to my ankles and wrists.

I look down and something inside of me drops when I spot the cold, metal shackles that were pinching my skin and keeping me locked in place.

I think I stop breathing.

For a short, strange moment where everything in the world moves slowly like it did when I popped, I don’t move and I don’t breathe, I didn’t think I could. I just stare at the cuffs keeping me down as a familiar dark feeling begins to leak inside of me.

It was fear, the type I’d felt for years whenever the trainers heavy boots would grow louder and louder until they stopped in front of my cell. The ones that left deep marks in my skin and took all year to go away.

These cuffs were locked onto a thick, heavy chain that was just like the ones they used to drag us behind them, because we were -slaves.

No... no, no, no, no.

It c-couldn’t- T-This wasn’t right.

This was just a bad dream, l-like the mean ones I got sometimes at night.

Yes! That was it! T-This was just one the worst kind of ones that made me think that I was back in the slave house, that I was in my cell; cold and hungry and alone...so alone.

I shake my head. It wasn’t real.

It couldn’t be real because I was home and I was safe with Master. I was always safe with Master.

Lincoln would never let anyone hurt me, and he would never ever ever let anyone take me away from him. He’d said so, he said that he’d protect me always because he was mine and I was his Kalem, forever.

Master wouldn-

“This is not helping, Kalem!”

The sharp words lash against my heart like a whip that forces me to breathe again and remember how mad Master had gotten at me.

I try not to think about it, I didn’t want to, it hurt too much, but my head fills with Lincoln’s angry words anyway.

They keep coming again and again, and somehow, Master’s anger felt worse in my mind than it had in person.

All too quickly, it all comes back, the trainers’ canes and Master’s office, all the pain and the way Lincoln looked so tired of me.

It hurt so much that it cut through my chest and made my heart feel like it would bleed forever.

He’d been so angry with me, so so horribly angry, and I’d run away and then...

Panic blooms inside of me when I remember the rest; Gazium and Thén finding me, before Thén did something to me and took me away.

I look back up towards the figure and feel a small sob leave me when they turn around and I meet Thén’s dark eyes.

I try to scream, try to call for Master, for Aias, for anyone, but there was something inside my mouth that I’d only just realised was there. It was like a small cloth that had been shoved inside and tied around my head, and it made all my shouts come out as quiet whines.

Whines that started to get louder and more frantic as I watch Thén stand up and come towards me.

I cower back, fighting against my chains as much as I can while I keep screaming for this horrible dream to end.

But they wouldn’t budge and this wasn’t a bad dream that Master would wake me from with hugs and kisses and promises to always protect me always.

T-This was real, it was happening now, and I was all alone.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Kalem,” Thén says as he comes closer with his hands raised.

“P-Please n-no,” I beg through the fabric while I keep fighting against the metal that digs into my skin and burns as I try to get away. “P-Please don’t. Thén, please! Not the cane, please not t-the cane! P-Please!”

The trainers always used the cane when we were tied down, they said it was better when we couldn’t squirm so much.

Thén’s brown eyes fill with misery, “There’s no cane, Kalem. There’s no cane, I promise. I am not going to hurt you. I’m not.”

Thén sounded gentle and kind, like his eyes always were, like they were now, but he’d taken me away from my home, from Lincoln, and he’d tied me up like a slave.

Was he going to take me back to the slave house?

I shake my head as the tears come faster and harder.

Anything but that, anything but going back t-there.

I try to pop away, just like Lincoln and Aias said to do if anyone ever took me. I just had to pop home and I’d be okay, everything would be okay.

But nothing happens.

I try again and again, focusing hard on where I wanted to go, to Lincoln, but it doesn’t work.

My sobs come even harder as I keep trying, but no matter what I did, it wasn’t working when I kept thinking of the slave house, of going back there if I didn’t pop home right now.

Aias said to be calm with my magic, but I kept seeing the dirty boots, those wicked smiles and feeling the whip against my back, and it kept getting worse the more my chains kept me down.

“M-Master!” I try to scream as loud as I can, my heart beeping so fast now it hurt. “Lincoln!”

Nothing was coming out, nothing that was louder than the crackling in the fire or the tweaking tree branches up above.

Nothing loud enough for someone to find me.

“Kalem, I won’t hurt you! I’m not going to h-” Thén cuts himself off when he takes a step forward and I sob even harder. I scream and shout, kicking away from him as I try to pop home so that nobody could hurt me, but it doesn’t work.

Nothing works.

He stays still, watching me for a long time before he drops his hands and slumps, “I’m sorry, Kalem. I’m...I’m so sorry.”

His words sounded true, like he didn’t mean to hurt me, but it only made my tears fall faster because he was my friend, and he was hurting me.

I shake my head, begging him to stay away, not to hurt me.

I didn’t want to hurt again.

With a sigh, Thén finally steps back, returning to the large stone he was sitting on before as he buries his face in his hands and whispers something to himself that I couldn’t hear.

Without his eyes on me, I pant around the fabric in my mouth and try to pop again. Try to go home, but no matter how hard I tried to find my magic, nothing came back.

Even with all these trees around me, I couldn’t do anything because they weren’t opening up to me. They weren’t like my flowers, I didn’t know them, so I needed to be calm and ask nicely so it could happen naturally, like Aias always said, but I was shaking too much.

I couldn’t stop shaking, couldn’t stop crying because I wasn’t home.

I-I wasn’t home...

These trees that caved over us were like nothing I’d ever seen before, they were open and kind to me like my flowers, and they felt cold like there was something else all over them that wasn’t natural.

I didn’t know where we were, but I knew that we weren’t anywhere close to home, if we were, Master would have already found me.

But he wasn’t here... nobody was here, none of my clan, none of my friends.

Nobody.

Another sob breaks from me as my heart beats even faster in my chest.

I fight harder against my chains, trying to listen to that little voice that tried to remind me of all Master’s lessons and teachings about what I was supposed to do if we ever got separated.

First, if I could, I was supposed to find out exactly where I was so that when I was home and safe, Lincoln would know exactly where to go to hurt all the bad people.

Then, I was supposed to pop home where it was safe. If I needed to fight to get out then I knew how, but once I could, I should always pop home first.

That was the plan, I knew it was, but this wasn’t anything like all those practice times.

When we did it home, I was never chained down to anything like this. Master knew how much they brought back all the bad, scary memories of the slave house, so he never put them on me.

He used rope, but even then, it was different.

It’d been silly, fun, and I’d always smiled the whole way through while Aias played capturer because I never thought I’d actually have to do it.

I never thought I’d be away from my home, from Lincoln.

Why would you do this Kalem?

I’d just wanted to help my Master, to make things a little easier for him but instead, I’d made so much everything worse

“Lincoln,” I sob around the fabric in my mouth, begging him to come for me as I curl into myself.

Would Master even come for me?

After we’d fought, after I’d made him so mad... maybe he wasn’t here yet because he wasn’t looking for me.

My tears fall harder for this horrible world I’d put us in.
I’d made everyone hate me, and now, one of my closest friends had turned against me.

My friend, Thén.

Friends were supposed to look after one another, to be kind and loving, and make each other laugh and hold each other when they were sad.

I thought Thén was my friend... but friends didn’t do this to one another.

“Lincoln,” I whimper, wanting him close.

Master always came when I called, no matter where he was, he was never too far to hear me but no matter how much I called now, he didn’t come.

As more tears spill from my eyes and my sobs grow louder, Thén looks back at me again with a sad face of his own.

A piece of me wanted to make it better, but the rest of me was too scared.

Thén says something too low for me to hear as he stands again and starts pacing in front of the fire, his large body making the shadow make him look like something even bigger and scarier.

“Kalem, I promise you I would never hurt you. Never,” he swears when he looks at me again, “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have to Kalem, but I do.”

My heart breaks a little at Thén’s words, and a horrible awful feeling settles inside of me, something that hurt like nothing before because it was my friend who was doing this.

I look down at my hands again through my blurry eyes, my arms shaking around me as that horrible feeling grows.

“Kalem,” Thén whispers, his voice cracking a little. “I-I’m so sorry.”

Reaching down for a small bottle, Thén slowly comes closer and closer, even as I try to push away, even as I cry harder, he doesn’t stop until he’s right in front of me.

“I just want to give you some water, you’ll need it to get over the spell,” he says, sounding as kind as ever but he wasn’t being kind right now.

I scream and close my eyes tight as he reaches for me with one hand, “I’m just taking this off, Kalem. I’m not going to hurt you.”

I freeze in my place as his hands move until the cloth is pulled free and he lifts the bottle.

I stare at it for only a second, before I do the one thing that might make Thén change his mind and hurt me for real.

“Lincoln!” I scream as loud as I can through my dry voice, shouting even louder when my throat starts to hurt. “Master! A-Aias!!”

Thén watches me, his gentle eyes turning sad, but he didn’t look scared or worried. He looked like he might cry, not hurt me.

I keep shouting for Master, but Thén just keeps watching me until I start coughing, my throat turning raspy as my tears start building again.

“We’re warded,” he says quietly, “nobody can hear you.”

Nobody was coming for me...

Thén doesn’t say anything when I start crying again, he only offers me the water, his head bent.

I wanted it, wanted the water and the food but Thén wasn’t my friend.

“Kalem, please-”

“Why?” I whisper, trying to blink back my tears but they keep coming, “I...I-I thought we were friends.”

Thén’s eyes grow slightly wet too as he looks away from me, staring at the water in his hands.

“Thén, w-we’re supposed t-to be f-friends.”

“We are,” Thén promises as he looks up at me with trembling lips, “we are Kalem.”

“T-Then why did y-you take me a-away from my h-home,” I whimper, sniffing as my shaking starts again, “you t-took me away and p-put me in c-chains!”

“I didn’t want to take you, Kalem. I didn’t want to do any of this,” Thén says, almost pleadingly as he spreads his arms a little. “Why would I ever do this? Working with witches, taking you away from Pylen when I know he will kill me the second he finds me! I’m only doing this because I have to!”

“Why?!” I shout, because none of that made sense to me when I knew friends didn’t hurt each other like this.

“Because they have my sister!” Thén booms, his voice so loud it makes me still as he stares at me through his tears, “...they have my sister.”

My entire body goes still while my eyes grow super wide.

I stare at Thén, watching the way his entire body slumps again, his arms dropping with the water while he sniffs a little.

“You...” I lick my lips, “you have a sister?”

A sad gloss comes over Thén’s wet eyes when he looks at me again and nods.

“We’re not like Gazium and Sin, we’re not...the closest siblings in the world,” he replies even as his voice begins to shake a little, “We see each other when we see each other, and even though she’s been a pain in my ass since the day she was born...” Thén lets out a shaky breath, “she’s my little sister and it’s my job to protect her.”

I didn’t want to feel bad for Thén.
I shouldn’t have felt anything at all, and my heart definitely shouldn’t be bleeding for him like it was trying to do right now.

That was only for friends and we weren’t friends... but my heart aches for him anyway.

“Who has your sister?” I ask very quietly, not wanting the answer even though I knew what it was already.

When Thén caves further into himself, I finally ask, “Does D-Diablos have your sister?”

A few quiet seconds pass before Thén nods his head a little, his sad eyes turning even sadder before he dropped his head.

My heart starts beating fast again at the name I knew meant the worst person in the whole wide world, the person who hurt others and made them slaves.

But before my shaking could start again, Thén keeps talking.

“Echo hates clans, group work in general, so when I joined the Anouk Clan, she wandered off,” he explains under his breath, “when Alexander brought us under Pylen and his clan, I sent her all these messages about coming and joining too. I thought maybe if she saw that we were with the first of our kind, that we were doing good... maybe she’d come too.

“But she didn’t get the messages,” Thén’s voice breaks as tears drip down his face, wetting the dirt below with little splotches as his entire body goes stiff, “Someone else did, and they sent back a message of their own.”

When Thén looks up at me again, my heart burns at all the pain waiting there.

“Her left hand,” he chokes out, “With Diablos’ brand in the centre of her palm.”

A gasp escapes me as I pull away slightly, wanting to run away from his words and the pain of them, but I was still chained down.

Master had shown me what one of those brands looked like, it felt like so long ago but I still remembered all the complicated marks and shapes that didn’t match up, like I’d seen it just this morning.

It was what I was always supposed to run away from if I saw it.

“He said that if I wanted to get my sister back in one piece and not more boxes, I needed to give them you,” Thén finishes with a small sob of his own, shaking his head he looks up at me with a face as wet as mine. “Kalem, I never wanted to hurt you. I’m not doing this because I want to, I’m doing it because I have to. I have to save my sister.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? Or M-Master, or anyone?” I ask sadly, my heart hurting from all his words.

I knew I wasn’t the best fighter, but if Thén had told me and all our other friends that someone had his sister, I knew we’d all go out there to get her as fast as we could.

That’s what friends did...

Thén’s trembling lips curve into a sad smile as he shakes his head, “We’ve been at war for more than a year, Kalem. Our Pylen is amazing and he’s done so much, but that’s because he’s calm, slow to anger and patient.”

My heart squeezes itself a little and I have a hard time looking in Thén’s eyes.

“He’s been slowly chipping away at Diablos with that patience, and I know he wouldn’t throw it all away because my sister is another one of the other thousands Diablos has in chains,” Thén shakes his head again, “It’s just not realistic, and I know he would’ve tried to help, but Diablos would’ve killed her the second he knew.”

I wanted to ask how Diablos would know, but as I looked around at the branches above us and felt the cold magic below, I knew my answer.

Diablos had witches, they’d used their magic before to get him in the castle, and they were using their magic now to keep us hidden.

“Look Kalem, I know I’m not getting out of this alive, I’ve accepted that,” Thén says as he rubs at his eyes with the back of his hands, “but I’m going to make sure you and Echo do. So please,” he raises the cup of water again, “drink so you can stay strong, and when the moment’s right, you run like hell.”

I watch Thén carefully as he brings the cup to my lips.

He holds it still, not pouring it down cruelly like the trainers, he just holds it at my lips, eyes hopefully.

Slowly, I take a little sip before I take another and another. I take little sips slowly until the whole thing is empty.

Thén smiles down at it the empty bottle before he wanders back over to his stone where I was guessing he had lots of things behind because he came out with a stick of cooked meat next.

I don’t take this one when he raises it and he pouts a little.

“You need to eat something,” he says as he waves the stick a little, “you’ll need as much of your strength as you can get to get out.”

I tilt my head at that, wondering what Thén meant by that.

“H-How am I going to get out?” I ask slowly, not wanting to hope too much that Thén was telling the truth and being good.

“You’ll teleport when out of these,” he nudges my chains, “and strong enough to cast your usual spell,” Thén answers casually while I stiffen in my place as I stare at him, confused and a little scared.

Did he know I was a nyphilim too?

“I know you’re a warlock, Kalem,” he says with a weak smile when I only blink at him. “I’ve seen the way you walk through one door and come out the next,” he explains, “you’re not a vampire so you have to be teleporting and only witches do that.”

I blink some more before my panic wavers a little for the first time.

Thén thought I was a witch? I’d never even met a witch before.

I didn’t have magic like them, I didn’t know how to make or use their spells, and if I was, Lincoln would never love me so much.

But if Thén thought I was a witch, was that why he was taking me away?

Did he think I was someone bad who was trying to hurt the clan and Master? Was this why he was doing this bad thing?

My hopeful thoughts go away before they can grow anymore.

Thén was doing this for his sister, for Echo.

“You don’t have to deny it,” Thén continues while that sad feeling grows inside of me again, “and don’t bother trying to get out of these cuffs, they’re made specifically for witches.”

I look down at the chains, wondering if I couldn’t get out because they were special. But that didn’t make sense, I was a nyphilim and Aias said witch magic wasn’t as strong as elven magic.

“Just...” Thén sighs a little as he looks up at me, “if you eat and keep your strength up, then when we get to Diablos, I’ll get Echo out and you can teleport back home. Y-You’re going to be okay, Kalem... if you keep your strength up and eat.”

When Thén raises the meat stick next, I lean forward and take a hesitant bite.

If Thén was telling the truth, and I was pretty sure he was, then I would need to be at my best when it came time for me to fight or pop home.

I had to be strong, and food made us stronger.

Master always said, three meals a day was super important, it was one of my rules...

My heart squeezes inside of me as I think of Lincoln, of the fight we’d had and all the pain that was still so alive inside me that it burned.

Did Master know that I was gone, or that something really bad was happening?

Probably not.

He’d been working, he was busy with the mess I’d made and more, so he probably didn’t know. And even if he did, he’d been so mad, so angry with me that maybe he’d be happy to find out that I was gone.

I didn’t want to believe it, didn’t want to listen to those evil voices in my head when I knew how much Lincoln loved me, but all I could think of was the way he’d looked so sad when he realised what I’d done.

I’d made things harder for him, I always did.

“Is it bad?” Thén asks as he inspects what’s left of the food on my stick, “I cooked it all the way through, I promise.”

“It’s fine,” I whisper as I take one more small bite before I move my head away, “thank you.”

“Don’t thank me,” Thén replies almost like a beg, “I don’t deserve it.”

Without saying anything else, Thén gets me water and checks that I’m okay, before he gets up and trails back over to his spot, where he pokes the fire in the quiet night.

It was darker now that the fire was a bit smaller and the branches looked scarier, like sharp edges that would tear right through us if we touched them.

I stare up at them for a while, not able to draw my eyes away from them, as the back of my mind tingles with something familiar about them.

Dark...sharp...

A little too quickly, flashes of the massive leather wings fills the spaces between the branches and the smell of ash and rot circles around me.

Zani

I close my eyes as pieces of the scary, sad nightmare I’d had earlier come back to me.

It wasn’t like any of my others, nothing to do with the trainers or the slave house, or anything I’d ever seen before. My other mean dreams were real, they were my worst memories on a loop, but this one had purple skies or people that could fly.

It wasn’t real, but somehow, that dream had felt more real than all the others.

I try to remember all of it, working my head to understand those flickering images but I can barely find the traces of it and what little I could remember, I didn’t understand.

It all sounded wrong, felt wrong. It was scary, and dark, and full of so much pain.
I hated it, but even more than that, I hated facing it on my own.

Usually, when I had a bad dream, I’d open my eyes and Lincoln would already be kissing my neck and ear, my cheek and chin until I felt better again.

But he wasn’t here now. I was all alone... again.

I shake those thoughts away and try instead to think about how I was going to get home.

I was calmer now that I knew Thén didn’t really want to hurt me, so I think I could try popping again, but there was a step that came before than.

“Where are we?” I ask as I look towards Thén.

He galnces back at me, his eyes growing wide as if he was surprise I’d asked.

Maybe I wasn’t supposed to, but I had to try.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” he replies with a deep frown. “I got beyond the elves’ border and Diablos’ witches teleported us away. I couldn’t know exactly where we were landing beforehand, because they feared I’d leave a clue behind, but all I know is that when morning comes, I get moving towards their location.”

“A-And where is that?” I ask, hoping morning would never ever ever come.

“Chile,” Thén replies.

“Chile?” I repeat slowly, trying to say it right.

I’d never heard of that place before, I hoped Master did.

“It’s in South America, and I’m guessing, they teleported us as close to them as they could manage,” Thén explains before he eyes me a little, “will you be able to teleport? When those come off?”

I look down at my chains and think of what I should say.

I didn’t want to lie, lying was bad.

But then, Thén had been a bad friend to me so maybe I could lie to him. But he hadn’t done this to be mean, he’d done it for his sister who’d lost her entire hand!

How did someone live without a hand?!

I didn’t know this Echo, but I just wanted to give her the tightest hug ever.

“You don’t have to answer,” Thén eventually says, “you don’t have to tell me anything, I just want to make sure you’ll have a way out.”

I nod a little because if that wasn’t a full lie, not completely.

I was pretty sure I could get out now, but I wasn’t too sure.

“Okay, good,” Thén says, a small smile tugging his lips up, “that’s good.”

I smile back automatically, unable to fight it even though I knew I should.

As I look at Thén, a little niggling thought wiggles up the back of my mind, making me shift in my place.

I didn’t know whether or not I should ask it, it might be dangerous, especially if Thén was lying and he’d share it with Diablos, but if I went back home with more information for Master, maybe he would be happier to see me.

I hoped he would.

“Thén,” I whisper as I nibble on my lip.

“Hmm,” he hums a bit, expression open.

“Is...Is Chile close to Thailand?”

Thén’s face contorts with clear confusion, he wrinkles his nose up as he shakes his head, “No. Not even a little. It’s like two opposite ends of the world.”

I slump, “Oh.”

A little piece of me had hoped that maybe if I was close to the Nyphilim, I’d be able to reach them somehow and maybe they’d be able to help me if I called to them. But I guess not.

“Why do you ask?” Thén asks, tilting his head a little.

I shrug, lowering my head again so I could avoid answering when I knew I couldn’t share anything more than that.

Thén doesn’t push me, he just goes back to being quiet while I try to think things over.

Now that I knew where we were, kind of, I should be trying to get home as quickly as I could, but the thought made my heart waver a little.

This is not helping, Kalem!

When tears try to fill my eyes again, I shut them tight and try to think around the fear that lingered when I thought of home, of Lincoln.

I was still angry, which meant he was probably still angry too, but I wanted to go home and that would always be better than seeing the big meanie.

With a nod, I force myself to be the Kalem I told Master I could be.

The one who was strong and big enough to protect our clan and our home, the one who was strong enough to get myself home.

I could do this! I just had to be calm.

I couldn’t do it before because I was scared and all worked up, like the first time I had to pop in front of Aias and his Malcolm, once I was calm, I’d be able to do it.

I force myself to take a deep, slow breath.

It’s hard with the cold metal on my skin, but I do it a little and try again after a second.

I keep doing it, those slow breaths I did with Aias before our lessons while I think of how our magic worked.

I may not have my flowers, but nature was all around me, in simple things like the dirt and air, I just had to try really hard to get to those pieces of it.

Slowly, my shearts starts to settle, going back to its normal beeping as I finally relax.

I smile a little, proud of myself for getting to this point when I was on my own, and all tied up. But I’d done it!

On my next breath, I reach out to the dirt around me and force everything to slow down.

At least, I think I do.
I was too scared to open my eyes and check, but the sound of the fire wasn’t so loud anymore so maybe...

I peek one of my eyes open and feel my entire body go limp when I find the flames frozen in their dance.

I’d done it!

I scream my joy before I freeze, worried Thén would look over at me, but he was frozen too.

I was doing this! Really really doing it!

I look down at my cuffs next with a frown, they were next.

They weren’t like the natural things of nature, so this would be harder, but I had to try.

Aias said everything in this world was made of natural materials, every little thing, even metal and steel and all the other hard stuff. I just had to focus on connecting to those little tiny bitty natural parts still inside of them and...

I lift my hand a little, moving slowly as I focus extra hard. My skin reaches the steel and for a moment, all I feel is the cold there before it passes right through them.

My heart does pixies festivals inside of me as I squirm around, hurrying to do the rest.

The second I’m free, I jump away from my chains, stumbling back away from Thén and the trees until my frantic mind believes that I’m free.

I... did it...

I actually did it.

All on my own, I got out and now I could pop home to Lincoldn so he coul-

“What you’ve done, is a very stupid, dangerous thing, Kalem! When you should’ve been doing nothing at all!”

“This isn’t helping Kalem!”
“This is the furthest thing from helping!”

I stare down at my hands as all my happiness from a second ago goes tumbling straight out of me.

I can’t stop them when the tears build again.

I wanted to go home.
I wanted to be with Mr W again, and Aias, and his Malcolm... my Lincoln, but...

What if everyone was still mad at me?
What if they blamed me for everything again?

I tried to think of all the warmth there, all the good happy times, but I could only remember the sad times.

All the cold nights alone while Lincoln worked.
Feeling lost when I tried to understand their big plans, even when I tried my hardest.
Everyone’s disappointed, scared faces when I told them what I’d done.

The way they’d all looked so sad, so hurt... because of me.

Even Master.

Maybe Master hadn’t found me yet, not because of witch magic, but because he didn’t want to look for me at all.

I wrap my around myself as I bite into my lip, trying to keep it from trembling but it wouldn’t stop.

If I went back home, would Master be happy to see me or would he look at me with those tired eyes again?

My sobs come pouring out of me as another sort of fear grows inside of me, a fear that said that I would hurt so much worse if I went back and saw Lincoln’s upset face again.

I didn’t want to do that again, I couldn’t... It was too scary.

But that was my home, I had nowhere else to go and I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

In this quiet, still part of time, that cold feeling from far away grows a little.

The Nyphilim.

My fingers tighten in my shirt as the thought of them lingers in my mind.

They were still in the same spot, waiting for me or I hoped they were, it felt like they were.

But I couldn’t go alone, I didn’t even know if I could pop away that far. Plus, I was supposed to go with Lincoln, so we could do it together, but he didn’t want that.

But maybe if I went on my own, and got stronger like I planned, then maybe Lincoln would listen when I got back.

I lift my head a little as I look at where Thén was frozen over near the fire.

I should just go right now, while I was free.

I didn’t have to stay with Thén, he’d done a very bad and horrible thing. It wasn’t nice, especially when we were supposed to be friends.

I stand a little taller, ready to pop away and go be the strong Kalem I knew I was.

I would do it.

Right now.

... right now...

“Aghh!” I stomp my foot at myself but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

Even though I knew I should, I couldn’t go when I knew Thén and his sister would both be hurt if I disappeared.

Echo didn’t deserve that, she’d been hurt enough, and even though Thén wasn’t my friend, I was still his.

I look down at the chains and cuffs on the floor, still locked in place where I’d left them.

It’s super hard to swallow the fear that grows inside of me.

What if I couldn’t get out again?

No, I just had to be calm, to be my strong Kalem self and I’d be okay.

I did it just now and it would do it again, because now I knewfor sure that I could do it.

Thén thought I was a witch, and Diablos and his witches probably thought the same, which meant they’d use all the witchy stuff against me, and that didn’t work.

Well, that sparkly glitter Thén had used earlier had worked, but that was because I wasn’t ready.

Now I could protect myself with magic like Aias taught me, I’d keep myself behind my own barrier, so that nothing would get through no matter what they did.

I’d just stay with Thén until I knew who Echo was, then I’d pop us all away, and then... then I’d go to the Nyphilim.

I could do this.

I could.

I was a strong boy, and I would prove it.

Taking careful steps towards the cuffs, I keep my deep breaths up when my heart starts beeping again, and slowly sit back down. I fit myself back into the space like I was before and pass my ankles and wrists through the cuffs.

It’ll be fine, Kalem. I promise to myself. You know how to get out of these. Plus, Aias and his Malcolm showed you lots and lots of ways to escape hard things, with my magic and without it.

If my magic didn’t work, I would just have to get something sharp and I’d be able to pick these.

It would be okay.

I was still scared, so I passes my hands and legs through the cuffs three more times before I finally relax and settle in again.

I could do this. I could do this.

I’m Kalem. A strong, nyphilim and I can do this.

I repeat the words over and over before I finally ease my magic, and let time spill back over again.

The fire quickly starts dances again and Thén hunches a little closer to the fire like if nothing happened.

A deep breath stumbles out of me as stay still and remind myself that I was big enough to do this.

I’d help Thén, then once I was ready, I’d go home to Lincoln.

My heart grows all heavy and cloudy again as I curl into myself, thinking about Master and our fight.

I didn’t want to believe that everything would be so hard and sad forever, but it felt like it.

It felt so much worse, like things would hurt this bad always.

Lincoln said that I was his Kalem, his sunshine that light up his world, but right now.. I just felt like the darkness that made it worse.

───────────────────

I don’t know how to feel.

Thoughts???

I love angst, so I’m very happy with where we are in the story, Kalem’s pain hurts, but like in that really good way that makes your chest all tight. I just know that Lincoln’s chapter next is going to fucking wreck me.

But at the same time, I’m happy this whole chapter wasn’t Kalem wailing or getting hurt. If he just did nothing and didn’t try, it would make it look like he’s not growing or isn’t as strong as he thinks. And if he got hurt, then we would ALL never recover.

So, I’m happy and also weirdly sad, in a good way, I don’t know.

I don’t like Kalem thinking for even a moment that Lincoln wouldn’t look for him *SOBS*

OOO SHIT!!! What about that opening nightmaree?!?!?!?!? I want to hear thoughts on that!!!

With Delicate done, Master will probably - attention on that probably - be updated again next week after the Patreon Extras are complete. I fly home Tuesday so I have no clue.

I’ll keep you guys posted, as always.

Until next time,
Byeeeeeeeeeee Humanssssssssssssss

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