We head head towards the thick woods behind us to make camp. I don't know how, but we will manage. Earth is a force to be reckoned with, that's for sure.
We go about a quarter of a mile into the wood and decide to settle near a small spring. We set our bags down and begin rummaging through them to find tents, sleeping bags, and multiple other items that may be useful. We only have about 6 hours of light left, so we need to act quickly as we set up camp. We have no idea what creeps through the darkness after the sun settles for rest here; it's better to be safe than sorry. First, I send Anahita to collect water from the spring, after she says she detects no toxins, or anything that may harm us, within it. I send Rico and Luna to do the hunting, and Asterope, Fintan, Fei and I stay here to set up camp.
We start with the tents, connecting the right poles with the other ones and connecting the covering as well. We can easily make some sort of shelter using the materials nature provides, but it is nice to have man-made materials on hand as well. After that, we begin to make a fire in the middle of our circle of tents. We begin to set up the structure, and I notice that Fei is unusually quiet with her brows furrowed. Asterope and Fintan are simply working at the wood, trying to get it to stay the way they want it. "Hey, guys, could you go collect more wood for later on? It might rain sometime tonight or something, so we should keep some wood with us - dry - for future fires." They all stand up and dust of their pants as they begin to walk away through the thick greenery. "Uh, Fei, why don't you stay here and help me figure out this fire." She nods and turns around, the same expression reading on her face.
She kneels down and begins to work at the wood, putting it this way and that. "What's on your mind?" I ask, after the other two are well out of earshot.
"Nothing." She responds quickly and smoothly, but her expression remains unchanged.
"Fei, don't ever gamble."
She looks up at me, her eyes meeting mine, in confusion. "What?"
"Your poker face is horrendous. Youd lose immediately and anyone with eyes would be able to tell the cards you were dealt." Again, she looks at me with a bit of confusion.
She shrugs as she goes back to the wood. "Okay."
"So, tell me what's going on before the other two come back."
"Ah, so that's what all that was about."
"Yes." I hiss. "Now, would you tell me what is on your damn mind?" I'm becoming irritated.
"You won't stop pestering me until I do, will you?"
"Nope." I admit, leaning back and popping the 'p' in the word.
She sighs in defeat, clearing not in the mood to argue. "I feel Abaddõn and I feel his power. His presence is faint, which means he isn't here at the time, but without a doubt in my mind, Caetlyn is here... and he was, too."
"Yes, I suppose so." I say, leaning against on of the logs we've set up to chill on while the fire is going.
"This means she is in danger.... and we couldn't stop him before, so what stops us from stopping him now? It just makes no sense. Do you think she's already run into him?"
"Without a doubt in my mind."
"So, why are you so chill about all of this?!" She yells.
"Because, Fei. There is nothing we can do right now, but sit here an-" I feel a tingling sensation spread through my skull, followed by and ear piercing frequency that rings in my ears. I gasp and grunt as I cover my ears with my palms and double over on the ground. I look up at Fei, who looks a bit disoriented and seems to be shouting something at me. Something that i can't hear. Then i realize that i cannot hear anything at all, but this ringing. It intensifies, making my skull feel like it is being ripped in half. I squeeze my eyes shut and feel myself uncontrollably screaming, but I can't hear a things anymore, but the ringing in my ears. After what feels like forever, but must've only been a few minutes, I open my eyes, being able to hear everything fine now. Luna and Fei are hovering over me, asking if I'm alright. I motion them to move away and try to sit up, when a pounding headache floods my head immediately. I lay back down, groaning. I drag my hands over my face before opening my eyes again. There are pretty, shiny stars twinkling in the sky.
Okay, so not just a few minutes.
I lay there and feel the others rustle in their tents, but Luna stays put by me and by the warmth of the now roaring fire. I sigh as I continue to gaze upon the stars that light up the dark sky. "Your scream scared us all half to death, you know." Luna says, nearly a whisper.
"I couldn't hear anything.... I couldn't even hear my own scream."
"This is a weird occurence that I'm completely clueless about... and we have no one here to help." Her voice is still very quiet.
"It's alright, Luna." I reach over and take her hand, careful to do it slowly so that I don't cause my head to hurt too much. She slowly looks at me, and the light from the fire shines on her tear filled eyes. I drag her hand a bit closer to me. "Come here. Itll be alright, okay? We are akm just adjusting."
"But no one else is experiencing things like this..." She mumbles, as she lays her head on my chest and I wrap my arms around her in comfort. I lush the discomfort of my headache away, as I try to help the only family I have relax.
"Maybe not, but maybe there's a reason for it."
"What is that reason?" She almost sounds like an innocent child, the way she said it. She circles her index finger on my shirt, on my chest, making small circles. I feel the wet spot of my shirt, where a few tears have fallen.
"The hell I know... but I know we will be okay. You're worrying too much." I respond softly.
"Okay." She whispers. I stare at the sky, again. My mind begins to wander to the possibilies as to why these things keep happening. The dream. The abyss. Now this, too. It could be Abaddõn, but I don't think all of it is. With him, it's one of those things where you might not see him, but it is clear he is there just by the shift in tension. In energy. In everything. Maybe it is Alina. She might have somehting to do with this, on the slim hope that she in, indeed, still alive. My mind keeps racing until it comes to a halt, when I hear the soft snoring of Luna. I look down at her and move some hair put of her face. She looks so peaceful in her sleep; it is the only time she isn't so worrisome. Hell, she may even stress put about everything in her sleep, but it doesn't show if she is.
I lean back, once again, and close my eyes, focusing on my breathing and my heartbeat.
I don't know when I fell asleep, but i wake up to feeling Luna stirring and the others shuffling around. When i open my eyes, the sunlight causes the pain to course through my body like a tidal wave. I squeeze my eyes shut and cover them with my arm while groaning. Luna gets up and goes to help the others pack. I curl up into a ball, not wanting to get up just yet. But then I hear it. A familiar voice. I jolt up and look around, quickly snapping my head from side to side as I turn my body around in a circle. The others freeze and just share at me for a moment. "You alright over there, Kage?" Rico inquires. I hold up my index finger, signaling him to stop talking and be quiet.
I don't hear the voice again, and my heart sinks. I shake my head, looking at my feet, while I kick at the grass, my headache now gone. I sighs and run my right hand through my shaggy, dark hair. I feel a hand on my shoulder and my head snaps up to seeing Fei stand there, her hand on my shoulder and a concerned expression spread on her face. "Are you alright, man? You look distraught."
I nod. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry." I mumble the words, not being able to speak much louder. "I'm going for a walk. Domt wait up for me." They all nod as I walk away to be alone with my thoughts.
As I walk deeper into the woods, I notice how the sun's Ray's shine through the trees. How each branch is highlighted with a different shade of brown. How the bushes are all full in bloom of berries and flowers. How the ground is soft but not moist. The trees tower over me as I weave my way through them. I can hear the birds singing their tunes and the squirrels and other creatures talking away. The smell of nature is beautiful, but this spring air is even better. I stop in my tracks and inhale deeply, closing my eyes, allowing the sound to consume me. Then I think about what happened back there. He isn't alive, yet I still got my hopes up. I don't even know what to think of that. I open my eyes and look around me, noticing a deer not too far from here. We need to eat something other than the canned goods and jerky we brought, and the berries we find around here. I hold my hand out, in the direction of the buck, and a thick, medium sized, shadow-filled, spear-like bolt shoots out of my hand, piercing the deer right through the eye and killing it. It immediately drops dead.
As I walk back to our makeshift campsite, their eyes go wide and these mouth go agape as they gaze upon the animal on my back. "Wow! You got a good catch!" Fintan exclaims.
"Yeah, he just kind of stood there and we need to eat something other than what we have."
"Yeah, you're not wrong. Here. Let me help you." He slides the animal off of my shoulders and drags it my the fire to clean it up. I sigh and walk back to take a post by a nearby tree. This gives me time to collect my thoughts. I need to shake Axton from my mind, he's dead. I need to focus on the task ahead: fingung Caetlyn. The obstacles consist of a few things, starting with the man who claims a crown that isn't rightfully his - King Abaddõn. If we could just figure out some way to break this barrier, we could protect her. I let out a sigh at my own thoughts.
I hear the crunching of leaves and branches behind me and sense Luna. "I think I deserve an explanation." She says, quietly, although I can still hear her perfectly. She stands directly in front of me, blocking my view of the greenery.
I let out another sigh. "PTSD." I respond with the one word.
"That isn't true." She says with a more demanding voice.
I shrug. "How can it not be?"
"Because I know what PTSD looks like - especially when you have an episode! And then you brought up Axton, the one man no one talks about because youd rather go on with the belief you don't have family. At least you do!"
"He's dead, Luna. I have no family. Just like you, I am alone. So don't go accusing me of feeling bad for myself when I'm not. I'm just like you, with no family."
I huffs. "But that wasn't a PTSD episode. That was more like someone you have blocked put of your link for a very long time, is trying to contact you again. Or Abaddõn but he has no reason to come after you." She pauses for a second. "Or at least not right now." She mutters.
I push back off of the tree, using the shoulder I was leaning on to do it. "Want to know the truth?" My anger is consuming me. I'd rather not discuss things like Axton, nor would I like to discuss things about family right now. We have bigger problems. She nods quickly, as she takes a step back as I tower over her. "I don't know what the fuck it was, but I do know it hurt like hell. I do know that it wasn't some fairytale magic that brought my one and only brother back to life, so he could talk to me. I do know that it was not Abaddõn, because we all would've felt his presence if it was. I do know that we have a mission. A mission to save our potential Queen. A mission to get out of this alive. A mission to protect our heirs at all costs. A little pain isn't going to stop me." I pause for a minute, watching her dark eyes form a bit of tears. Maybe I was too harsh?
I let out a sigh. "Luna, just go back to camp for now, alright? I'll be back in a few when Fei and I switch. Why don't you sleep with Rico tonight; you'll feel better if you do." I step back, leaning back against the tree, my hard gaze anywhere but on her.
"I know we are on a mission, but I'm not going to idly stand by and watch you destroy yourself. That? Now, that is like your mother - you're lucky I'm here to make sure it doesn't happen." She hisses before walking away. Did that sting a little? Fuck, that stung like hell. But did I deserve it? Yes, yes, I absolutely did. She's right, and that's the part that hurts the most.
I continue to drown in my thoughts as dawn approaches. The fire is just a small little thing now, and crackles can only be heard every now and then. I feel something tap my shlulder, and it startles me as I whip around to see who or what the culprit is. I give a sigh of relief seeing that it is only a member of the gang. "You really took a blow back there, didn't you?" She says, as she stands beside me.
"Well, hello to you, too, Fei." I deadpan.
She chuckles. "Hello, Kage." I can't help but grin at our meaningless banter.
"Did Rico sleep with Luna in his protective arms tonight?"
"Yep. She shyly asked him if it'd be alright. You should've seen how red their faces got. But, alas, in the end they ended up in the same tent."
We both chuckle. "Asterope and Anahita sleeping?"
"Yeah. They slept together, too, since Aster got a bit scared. She isn't used to being out here so much, and she said she can sense he was nearby at one point." She shrugs. "So, Anahita offered comfort and she took the offer up."
I nod in understanding. "Good."
"Yeah. So what's the report?" She is getting into her 'protective-mode'.
"A few bunny rabbits, wind, that sort of thing. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Alright. You, Mr. Kage, are free to go and rest." And with that, we exchange positions with her now at post. I walk back to my black tent and climb in, zipping the Flap shut. I lay down on my sleeping bag and pillow, and that's when I hear it.
I hear a whiz go by my tent, followed by the sound of an explosion.
It's quickly followed by the sounds of a few screams and a battle cry.