Heey ttheerree, we jump between two different scenes here, and just to clarify things for everyone, one lasts just a few hours all in all and the other jumps a few days at a time.
For the next chapter, we follow the timeline set by the one that’s just a few hours (Talent Troupe).
That was Oliver.
I forced myself up, gesturing at the now empty space. “Oliver?”
“That was scary.”
I turned to Assaria. “That was Oliver.” I voiced, only to realize it meant nothing to tell this to her. I looked around, but no one else here had met him. “How was Oliver right there?”
Haginda had joined the crowd, which were frightened by the sudden growth of the orb.
Justly so, it pulsated dangerously still. Everything in me was telling me not to touch it.
I must’ve seen a ghost, Oliver died years ago. But I can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen that man before…in the background. How hadn’t I noticed it was Oliver? What is going on?
“You’ve got things to answer Haginda.” I snapped, turning to the old woman. Enough of this tomfoolery.
“I’d love to hear them too.”
Everyone began to turn towards Haginda with questions of their own. “What do we do?”
“Have we angered him?”
“Is Fenlarcy okay?”
The name drifted on the wind like a sweet lullaby, repeated over and over with the voice of a white-haired girl.
Survive, survive, search
“Did you rest well Ma-Gloria?” The white-haired girl asked. Gretel, she said her name was.
I rubbed my eyes, my dream still plaguing the inside of my eyes. “As well as I usually do. How long did I sleep for?”
“A solid few hours, about the amount of time it took me to build a fire.” She grinned, gesturing at the fire proudly, as if she expected me to praise her.
It was a pretty decent fire. “It’s nice and cozy.”
“Thank you! I learned from Kevil. I can’t feel temperature, but he always felt it was necessary to keep me warm.” She said with a smile.
“You talk a lot about him.” I noticed, letting myself be hypnotized by the fire.
“Yes, we spent a few decades travelling together. I learned a lot from him.” She said. “I’m quite excited for you to meet him. He’s in Stonebridge right now.”
“Oh, is that why we’re going there?” Anywhere that wasn’t Cloverfield right now suited me…but Stonebridge did scare me a little. The one town the Hans have their eyes on the most.
“That, and, I don’t know how to get you to the other continent without help. A plane or a boat…or potentially teleporting would great.”
“The other continent?” I asked, wondering how far I was willing to go with her. How far I should.
“That’s where the Talent Troupe is right now.”
“I haven’t heard the best about them.” I admitted.
“I can’t imagine you’ve had the best influences.”
“That’s true. I’ve lived with the Hans my whole life.” I swallowed with some difficulty, remembering everything the Hans had done, with my help. “I’m surprised you tolerate me.”
“Tolerate you? Mamkela, I’d give my life to protect you.”
Again with that name. I think I’ve heard it in my dreams before, but I’ve got doubt that I might be imagining that. Wanting to consider myself higher than what I really am – as high as this girl considers me.
I’d give my life to protect you.
These weren’t words tossed around so lightly. I shouldn’t abuse of the love she clearly holds for this woman.
Still, I’m…drawn to her. I can’t bring myself to say: We did a good escape together, but maybe we should separate now?, because I don’t want to?
I can’t explain it, but I’m afraid I just want to keep her around because I’m terrified. Her surprising strength mentally and physically is about as secure as I could get, away from the Hans.
But she’s so sweet and kind, and has already suffered through so much, I don’t want to take advantage of that.
My silence caused her to worry. “I’m sorry I called you Mamkela again. I know I might be a little overwhelming. It will all make sense when you get your memories back! That’s why I want to go the Talent Troupe. Get some more rest Gloria, we’ve got a lot more walking tomorrow.”
I nodded slightly as a wave of fatigue washed over me again.
She wants me to trust her and she’s gained that much already. It’s not that easy to gain my trust, but somehow, she’s done it effortlessly.
I watched as Haginda settled Assaria and Xavier down. They’re so demanding, she doesn’t like rehashing her past, but she has no choice now. These two keep pressuring her! She should stop being so nice and patient with them. Kit wouldn’t be.
Haginda believes she can keep them under control though. I hope she’s right.
I sat down in my corner, wishing Kit were here to comment. The place is always more fun when she’s around.
“Are you going to give me answers now?” Xavier demanded.
“That is a ball of pure curses.” Assaria stated. “There’s no doubt about it.”
“I’ve only cast one in my lifetime. It’s dangerous and risky to say the least. How come you have a huge orb of it in your tent?” Assaria demanded.
“My mentor’s name was Era.” Haginda began. The other two squinted at her.
“Are you changing subjects?” Xavier accused.
I smiled a bit. Era is always a very positive thing to talk about. I wish I could’ve met her. Kit would’ve liked her I bet.
“Era…Yes, that’s who I owed a debt to.”
“Everyone owed her a debt.” Haginda smiled. “She died during the witch wars when I was very young, but she’s the reason I know everything I do about Fenlarcy.”
“Oh we’re treated to a story are we?”
“Can you stop commenting?” Xavier snapped.
“Maybe you children don’t deserve this valuable piece of lore after all.” Haginda stated. She stayed silent until both uttered apologies and motioned for her to go on. “Era was a very wise woman and she taught me the existence of higher beings in our world. Higher even than the grim Reaper himself. She called him an artifact and nothing more.”
Assaria’s face stiffened, but said nothing.
“Yes Assaria, your Damien is an idle aspect.”
“I’ve heard vague sayings of Era’s religion. To each their own.” Assaria hissed.
“She told the tale of Fenlarcy and his lost love. She said he’d been kicked out of this world a long time ago and had since tried desperately to reach his lover trapped here.”
“Sounds like a story she came up with on her own. His love or whatnot would be dead by now.” Xavier interrupted.
“That’s what Era used to say as well. She would call his story tragic. His love is gone and yet he continuously tries without fail to reach her.” Haginda continued.
“How could she possibly know or confirm any of this. The woman lived a long time, but not that long. I was there before her grandparents were.”
“She dreamt it.”
We’d walked for a full five hours when we found a small motel to bunk in.
I could go on forever. Kevil and I used to walk for days on end with barely any breaks. Gloria’s body is less adapted to long walks. I want us to reach our destination as quickly as possible!
But I know I’m being selfish. I miss Mamkela deeply. She helped me through such a difficult time…I’m surprised to see her in this form, but I know it’s her. I want her back fully, but I need to calm down.
Mamkela might be Gloria, but that doesn’t mean Gloria is Mamkela…the Hans got to her. They got to her here, just like they got to her then. They always hurt her.
They hurt us both.
I clenched my fists, keeping my breathing in check. I looked up to see the clerk staring into my lizard eyes warily.
That’s still something people can’t get used to.
“I’ve taken one of the rooms upstairs. This is a warning.” I stated. Gloria was feeling faint so I busted the door open. I felt I owed this clerk a friendly warning. Kevil would be proud of me I think, for being so polite.
His hand inched towards his phone and without hesitation, I grabbed the monitor in front of me and slammed it in his face.
He slumped to the ground, knocked right out.
“Do not tattle on strangers like that.” I snapped. Here I was trying to be nice.
I made my way back upstairs where Gloria was napping.
I played with the T.V., catching up on the recent developments. The Stonebridge rebellion is still very strong. I’m proud of Kevil.
Gloria woke up with a start, her hand reaching out for something in front of her. She slumped on her bed, the adrenaline still coursing through her.
I quickly scrambled to her side.
“Did you have a dream again?” I asked eagerly.
She clutched her chest, trying to avoid what was clearly a very painful feeling. She always glows brighter after a dream.
“I lost my mother in a car accident, did you know?” She began after a few moments.
I shook my head.
“She…was with the Hans for a very long time. Her whole life, and she ran away to protect me. When she died in the car, I panicked and joined the Hans again…under another alias. I was hoping to get revenge from inside, but instead…instead I just helped them. She ran away from evil and I wasted her efforts by going back.” She choked, her eyes tearing up. “And now Nathan is head of the Hans and I failed and ran away as well.”
I reached over and grasped her in a hug, just like she used to do so often for me. “It’s okay Gloria, you just don’t have the power yet. When you get your strength back, we’ll head over and crush them okay? Is that what your dream was about?”
She relaxed in my hug and shook her head slowly.
“No, I only ever dream about a single thing…it always ends the same. I see someone reaching out for me and no matter how much I reach back, our fingers never touch.”
“Just a very sad dream.”
I did my best to resist sneering at the tale the old woman was weaving. She spoke of Era with intense admiration, but Era was a self-tilted high priestess. Very young she assumed full control of the Talent Troupes and only then began to spread her religion.
I cared little for it. The Talent Troupes have always been a peculiar group.
“Era’s dreams of Fenlarcy are true. His fate and his desires directly impact this world. And that orb is proof that he’s finally found a way in. It is our duty to protect him and help him find his love, and in return he offers us sanctuary.” Haginda explained.
“That is not a godly man hidden in another dimension. That is a ball of pure condensed curses. In case you haven’t heard of them they are deadly and extremely unruly. Anybody who touches that orb will probably die – apart from me that is.” I provided.
“How do we get him to stop growing?” Whitelight butted in.
“We find his love.” Haginda stated simply. I groaned audibly.
“I thought we all agreed that if she ever existed, she’s dead.”
“I believe she reincarnated. I believe she led many lives here.” Haginda continued, with a lot more patience than I had for the wasted witch.
“Oh mercy, this has spiraled into crazy speculations.”
“I believe Era was one of her lives, yet she was never aware of it.”
“She was part of the Talent Troupe, wouldn’t she have come in contact with Fenlarcy?”
“And you’re entertaining her.”
“My sixth sense is telling me there’s some truth to this. It’s also telling me that ball of fog shouldn’t be touched.”
Yes, for everyone except me.
“I believe she will be drawn here, all we need to do is wait. I’ve answered all your questions sufficiently, now go away and clean up your messes.” Haginda waved us off.
“Wait, I’m not done. I saw a ghost by the orb.”
“Yes, I saw that boy appear and disappear as well. Curious, could that be Fenlarcy himself?” I humored them.
“No that was Oliver. I swear it was.” The pathetic witch insisted.
“Reality shifts however he desires it to here. If Fenlarcy wanted you to see the ghost of friend, then that’s what happened. Now I will not repeat again.” She hissed.
We both got up, and I cast another look at Haginda. She really does believe every word she’s said.
But Fenlarcy or not, that is a ball of pure curses. The only curse I’ve ever cast was on an apple to kill the white-eyed. A curse that is still in circulation today. It took me decades to perfect that curse.
Whoever made that many condensed curses is worth an inquire from me.
No one’s POV
The two traveled souls walked across the plains, leaving trails of beaten up barriers behind them. Every man or woman that had stood in their way during their journey had been easily tossed to the side by Gretel, who barely seemed to lift a finger.
They were finally approaching Stonebridge, after days and days of walking, and Gretel was getting overwhelmingly excited.
Gloria had decided to let herself be dragged along Gretel’s excitement, and after a few days on the road Gretel had become one of the closest friends she’d ever had.
“Kevil’s a white-eyed, don’t know how much you remember about those. He’s the last one, but keep it on the down low. Not that the Hans could do much against him with all of Stonebridge backing him up, but always better to be careful.” Gretel said as they saw the hills of Stonebridge rising up on the horizon.
“I know you said we were going to Stonebridge to head over to the other continent, but maybe we could stick around?” Gloria tempted, halting in her walk. “I know a lot about the Hans, more than they expect me to. I’m sure I could help the rebellion.”
Gretel blinked at her and smiled. “Of course. That’s very Mamkela of you.”
Gloria found herself smiling back. The name Mamkela was praise to her now, with how much Gretel clearly valued the name.
“Thank you, I just want to do what I can. I have…responsibilities towards the Hans. I…” Gloria stumbled on her words. It wasn’t the first time she’d had trouble talking about this.
“Gloria is there something you’d like to tell me? I won’t judge you for anything that happened in the Hans you know this.” Gretel asked, dropping the bag on the ground.
“There is something I’d like to share with you. I haven’t told anyone this. And this is probably crazy as I’ve still only just met you, but I feel I can trust you.” Gloria admitted.
“Of course you can. I’ll take care of anyone who learns of it.”
Gloria snorted slightly. “Nathan Hans is my cousin.”
Gretel squinted at her, waiting for the dramatic reveal still.
Gloria felt a strange sense of relief at her lack of reaction. Of course, Gretel could care less about politics. “My mother was the official heir to the Hans throne and she had a lot of good plans to reform it. But they kept going against her so she ran away with me. I was meant to inherit the Hans legacy. Instead my cousin has it now.”
“With you at the helm the Hans would be a lot more likeable.”
“I didn’t want that originally. I disguised myself with a new appearance, hoping to take down the Hans from the inside.” Gloria said. “But as horrible as that company is, it’s not everyone’s fault. It’s the heads. It’s not even my cousin’s fault. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s being manipulated by the CEO and the department heads. He has no control. The Hans could still be salvageable; does that make me a horrible person for thinking that?”
“No, that makes you a very kind soul. I’ve always hated the Hans. They tortured me for years, and they locked me in a cave for a few centuries. They made me what I am today, but…”
“You can’t give them all the credit for the wonderful person you’ve become.” Gloria said.
Gretel stood a little speechless, tears suddenly springing to her eyes.
Had she ever cried at all?
If so it must’ve been before Hansel banished her.
“Oh I’m sorry!” Gloria exclaimed, reaching for her shoulders.
“Thank you.” Gretel said rushing into her arms for a hug. “You always know what to say.”
“I can show you what I used to look like if you want. My birth appearance if you will.”
“No that’s okay. This is the form you prefer isn’t it? I see you for who you are no matter what form you take so it doesn’t matter to me. The Hans would be cleansed with you at the top. We’ll get you your rightful throne back Mamkela.”