Authors: Kaitlyn Hoyt
“What happened to her?” I yell. “Where is she?”
Tom comes running into the room. “What’s going on? Why are you yelling?”
“Ryanne disappeared…again. Only this time, she didn’t have any help. She just disappeared,” David says. “Poof.”
“She promised me she wouldn’t do anything irrational anymore,” Liam says while pacing.
Emma is still staring at the chair that Ryanne was sitting in. “I don’t think she meant to do anything this time. It’s not like she yelled for Larkin or anything. The pain she was experiencing was real; you could see it on her face. I’d bet it had something to do with that,” Emma says while pointing to the doorway she had drawn on the notebook page. I pick up the notebook and look at the doorway, but it doesn’t look familiar to me.
“Why does it always have to be her? Last time we at least knew where she was going, this time...” I shake my head. I can’t believe that she is gone, and we have no way of helping her or even finding her. What if something happens to her? I look toward Liam and see him leaning against the wall, eyes closed. He opens his eyes and hits the wall behind him, mumbling something. “Are you getting anything from her?”
“No. Nothing. She’s not sleeping, so I can’t try and go into her dream to see where she is. I’m not picking up anything from the pendant. I have no idea where she could be.”
My scream is silenced as I land on a hard, dusty floor. Standing up quickly, I dust my clothing off and look around, assessing my surroundings. “Where am I?”
I’m standing in the middle of a dark and dreary hallway. Cement brick walls are the only thing I can see. Candles line the walls, casting shadows down the entire length of the corridor. The low hanging ceiling would have made any taller person feel claustrophobic. Squinting, I look down the hallway to the right. I can see a small door a ways in the distance. I feel a pull toward it. Similar to the pull I felt when searching for the library with David, I know that I am supposed to see what is on the opposite side of that door. My footsteps echo down the desolate hallway as I let my feet guide me in the direction of the mysterious door.
When the door is less than a foot away, I stop. This is the doorway that I’d just drawn in my notebook. I close the distance when I hear yelling echoing from the opposite side.
“She’s not dead, is she?” a deep voice demands.
“Of course, she’s dead. You saw the house blow up.” I recognize that voice as Larkin’s.
“I know she’s not dead. No one else would have been able to get to Heratz.”
. It sounds like someone got punched. “Are you helping her?” he yells. Dravin? Is that Dravin yelling at Larkin?
“No, I’d never go against you,” Larkin says. His voice wavers a little at the end with fear. Larkin needs help.
“You’re lying to me. Tell me where she is or you’ll no longer be of any use for me.”
“I don’t know where she is.” I look around for anything that I can use as a weapon and find…nothing. I guess my magic is going to have to work for now.
“Fine, then you leave me no choice…” Pushing some magic into my leg, I kick the door open, startling both guys. Dravin is standing over Larkin, who is hunched over on the ground, blood dripping from his nose.
I smile up at Dravin trying to fake confidence. “Looking for me?” I call my energy to me and thrust it toward him. I can’t call enough in that short time though. He staggers back a little but doesn’t fall. Why does that never happen when I need it to? I run in front of Larkin, who is obviously injured.
Dravin charges toward me, fist raised, preparing to strike. I throw a shield up around Larkin and me. Dravin runs directly into my shield and bounces off. He growls in frustration before charging at it again—this time more forcefully. I feel it start to weaken with each of his attempts. I guess Logan and Colton are right; I do need more rest. I glance down at Larkin, who is trying to stand up, and ask, “Are you able to blink us out of here?”
“Give me a minute. It’s harder to move two people and because I’m in pain, it’s going to take more concentration,” he breathily tells me.
Dravin charges into my shield. It weakens a little more. Two or three more attempts and he’ll break through it. “I can’t hold this up for much longer. He’s too strong for me right now.”
I can hear the fear in my voice as Dravin runs into my shield again. Larkin stands up, walks over to me, and wraps an arm around my waist. We are still in the room, and Dravin is still trying to break down my shield. I look up at him, while keeping my concentration, and see his eyes closed, grimacing while he tries to transport us. Dravin runs into the shield again. This time instead of bouncing off, he just stops. An evil grin slowly forms on his face, while he backs up further. Creating a sizable distance between him and the shield, he pauses for a second before running full speed toward it again. I scream and close my eyes, because I know this is it. I feel him break through my magical defense and head toward us.
My scream is cut short as my back slams into something hard and the wind is knocked out of my lungs. I cover my face as glass starts to fall around me. I’m back in the living room? I’m lying in the middle of the living room and the coffee table is turned on its side from me falling onto it. Glass shards are scattered all over the floor. I look over and find Larkin lying beside me, unmoving.
“So what are we supposed to do?” Bragden asks. I am on the verge of panicking and can’t sit still. During times like this, I pace. Walking back and forth gives me something to do so I’m not sitting…thinking the entire time. It’s been twenty minutes, and Ryanne is still missing. How long will this go on? Where is that freaking door, and what does it lead to?
Tom walks over to me and places his hand on my shoulder. “There’s nothing we can do. We just have to wait.” Anger pulses through me. Wait? We just have to wait? I want to yell at someone, because no one seems to understand. I open my mouth to do so when a loud crash resonates from the living room. Everyone jumps up and prepares for an attack. I turn to see Ryanne rolling off the coffee table, knocking it on its side. She covers her face with her bare arms when glass starts to rain down from the impact. Larkin rolls into the entertainment center to her right.
she was with him.
“Ryanne?” Emma yells as I brush past her into the living room. She struggles to get up and starts crawling toward Larkin. She calls for Logan; her voice barely audible. Logan drops to his knees beside her, but Ryanne shakes her head and points toward Larkin, silently asking him to heal him first. Why is she so worried about him when she’s bleeding profusely from her arms? She’s not concerned about her safety at all.
Don’t yell at her, Colton
Don’t do it.
“Where the heck did you go?” I demand.
Technically, I didn’t yell.
She doesn’t respond to my question; her eyes are still glued to Larkin as Logan heals him. Larkin stops cringing in pain, sits up, and looks across the room at Ryanne. Before Logan is done healing him, he moves toward her. I want to push Ryanne behind me and not let Larkin get any closer to her. It’s because of him that she got hurt again. Crouching in front of her, he thanks her. What did she do? Why is he thanking her? Tom obviously is as impatient as I am because he asks the same question.
“She just saved me.”
“I didn’t really save you,” she mumbles, blushing slightly at his attention. “I just interrupted Dravin before he could do anything.”
“What? You were with Dravin?” I stare at her. Dravin. She’d been with the man who wants nothing more than to see her captured or killed. Now, Dravin knows for sure that she’s still alive…I can feel my anger increasing, and I am starting to see red. Again. Tom places a hand on my shoulder, and what used to be a calming gesture has little effect on me now.
Ryanne is still sitting on the living room floor, wincing with every movement as blood drips down her arms. I close my eyes. I hate seeing her hurt. “Logan, please heal her.
.” I take a deep breath, trying to control the anger inside me.
With my eyes closed, I hear the low rustling of clothing as Logan moves toward Ryanne. I open my eyes as he grabs both of Ryanne’s hands and starts to heal her. Pieces of glass are pushed out of her arms and collect on the hardwood floor beneath her. My anger increases at each
sound I hear as the glass is forced out of her small arms. He opens his eyes and looks at her with awe. Why does he always look at her with awe? She’s putting herself in dangerous situations. Instead of letting go of her hands, he stands up and pulls her up with him. She sways a little on her feet with the movement but thankfully doesn’t collapse. He puts a hand on the small of her back and walks her to the couch. “Sit down.”
“Can someone please explain everything to us?” Liam asks. I can tell he is having trouble controlling his anger as well. Liam’s eyes are watching Ryanne as she sits on the couch. I glance over at her and see her mouth “sorry” to him. He nods at her, accepting her apology, and stands up. I can’t accept everything as quickly as he just did—something in me won’t let me. I’m not mad at her per say. I’m mad at the situation we’re in. I walk over to the seat adjacent to her spot on the couch and sit down. I feel Emma’s eyes on me as she tries to gauge my reaction. Meeting her eyes, I shake my head. I’m trying very hard to keep everything in right now. Giving me a small smile, she sits beside David and gives Ryanne her attention, waiting for her to explain what just happened.
Larkin speaks up first. “I’ll give you the short version. Dravin caught me. When Heratz, the man who was sent to kill Jane and Ross, didn’t come back, Dravin got suspicious. He started questioning me about you, Ryanne, and looking for any clues that you were still alive. Adam told him that before Colton knocked him unconscious during that battle, he thought that he saw me behind Thomas. Another guy confirmed that I was the one that killed Thomas with truth serum.” He starts to pace the floor. “He cornered me and started asking whether or not Ryanne was actually dead because he couldn’t get a read on her magic. He knew that since a body wasn’t found in the rubble, you could still be alive.”
He stops talking and looks back at Ryanne. “You shouldn’t have come in there. I was barely able to transport you back here. He was so close to getting you again. It would have been worse this time, because he’s no longer concerned about who you are staying with. It’s you that he wants. No one else. How did you even get there to begin with?”
I turn and look at Ryanne, who’s leaning against the back of the couch, trying to remain awake. She looks exhausted; she has dark circles under her eyes, and her normally pale skin is a lighter shade than usual. She is still wearing her work-out clothes from earlier, and they are a mess—covered in dirt, dust, and dried blood. Her long hair is tangled and falling out of its ponytail.
“I don’t really know. I passed out from using too much magic earlier when we were training, and while out, I had this dream of a doorway. I woke up and realized that I had to draw it. I had to put it down on paper. I grabbed my notebook and went to the table and drew it. When I finished, I got this sharp pain in my stomach in the same spot that I was stabbed, and it grew in intensity until it became so bad that I couldn’t breathe anymore.
“I don’t really know what happened after. I closed my eyes waiting for the pain to stop, and the next thing I know, I’m sitting in a dusty hallway. I just started walking and came across the door—the same door that I drew. I heard Dravin yelling, and I knew that I had to do something.” She looks toward Larkin and speaks to him directly. “I couldn’t let you get killed because you were helping us. So, I just barged in, without a plan, and tried to act like I knew what I was doing.”
She looks away from Larkin and glances around the room again. Seeing everyone’s eyes on her, she looks down at the hands in her lap. “I wasn’t strong enough to fight him, so I tried to put a shield up to separate us from him. But you weren’t able to blink us out of there, and I was growing weaker each time he ran into the shield,” she sighs and bites her bottom lip. “I honestly thought that I was done for—that we were done for. I didn’t know what to do. I screamed when he got close, but then I landed in the living room.”
My chest tightens at the thought of her in Dravin’s hands again. I keep picturing what she looked like when Liam rescued her. Battered. Broken. Bloodied. She glances toward the coffee table, which is lying on its side with the glass top broken and grimaces before facing Tom. “Sorry about that.”
“We’re just happy that you’re ok.”
She looks back to Larkin. “I’m sorry you were almost killed because of me.” Then, she brings her attention to Liam. “And I’m sorry I didn’t take you with me.” Without looking at anyone, she whispers, “I think I’m about to pass out aga…” She slumps over toward Liam without finishing her sentence.
He places an arm at the back of her head and shifts her so he can carry her upstairs. I follow her limp body until they are out of sight. I see Emma looking at me again. “Don’t say anything.”
“I wasn’t going to this time.” She reaches out and squeezes my hand before leaning back into David’s arms. I look up and see that Larkin has stopped pacing. He is staring down at the broken coffee table.
“That girl….” He looks toward the ceiling and exhales loudly. “I’ve never met someone so adamant on putting herself in danger to protect others.”
No one says anything right away. I turn toward the stairs and see Liam sitting on the bottom one with a solemn look on his face. I hadn’t heard him come back down stairs. He doesn’t like seeing Ryanne like that either, and I know it has to be eating him up that he wasn’t able to help her.
Tom leans against the doorframe and crosses his arms before addressing everyone. “That’s just what we need though.” We all turn to look at him. “The prophecy says that a girl is supposed to end the war, which most likely means stopping Dravin. Do you think that would be someone who just stands by and lets others do everything for her? That relies on someone else for protection? No. We need someone with a backbone. We need someone who’s strong, not for the sake of being strong, but for the sake of others. Her strength comes from her need to protect those she cares about. She needs all of us if she’s going to do this.