The day after... Bruce meets Ariane in the corridor.
"Hey, Ary! I have news!" he shouts a bit. "Come to the study" he says then when he reaches her and leads her in.
"What news?" she asks.
"I just talked to our secret service. The director told me there actually is a bad situation in Mira. The new leader rose few months ago, almost one year, but at first he was welcomed, he seemed a good leader. But in the last months things went wrong. For some reason, he showed now his real face: violent and cold-hearted."
"Ah, why doesn't it sound new to me?"
"Yeah, I know. But this time, if we accept, we should act differently"
"Yeah" she replies, thinking. "You're thinking to accept, right?"
"I want to know what you think first."
"Right. Ok. We know now that the letter was authentic so at least our help is really needed. I can't avoid to think to all those people... And it would be a bad move not helping them when they helped us"
"That town really cheered me up when we first entered, do you remember?" she asks, smiling.
"Sure, how can I forget? You were looking around so fascinated that you even stopped admiring me" he replies with a big smile. She laughs and gives him a little push.
"Haha, you idiot!" she comments.
"So? We should go? It's the first time we face an actual fight after what happened three years ago... Are you ready? This is not just practice anymore, it's real and we're risking our lives, again. We have to be prepared for everything" he tells, serious.
"Yes, I know. I'd like to stay here, at home, still and relaxed, just enjoying existence without risking to be killed at 24 but I wouldn't be relaxed anymore, the guilt of not helping people would eat me alive. This is, what we do, we help people, or at least we try"
"Yeah, I subscribe everything you said"
"How can we get in?"
"Yeah, I'm prepared about that too" he says smiling proudly.
"Ah, Bruce! When will I finally decide to marry you?" she jokes, laughing.
"Nah, that would be odd, my sister" he says smiling at her.
"Yeah, surely odd!" she says pinching his cheek. "So, carry on! What's the plan?"
"Yeah, well. The secret service informed me about a traditional ritual that takes place in this period, next week precisely. So we would have all the time to reach the town. During this ritual, people wear masks and goes around the castle like that. Though the new leader, it seems he never abolished it so we should have the chance."
"Mmm, masks... The occasion is perfect, do you have a mask, Bruce?" she says, winking at him.
"Oh sure, but it's a secret" he winks back.
"Ok, and then we'll have to check the situation and create a proper plan"
"Yeah. It's not going to be an easy job"
"Yeah" she breathes deeply. "Not easy at all".
The next day, everything is ready for them to leave. They prepared a carriage with all the things they need for a few days and reach Mira. Bruce leaves the last instructions to their first official for the government of the city, then they get in the carriage and leave. The travel takes few days. After three days they get close enough to reach the town walking. It's late afternoon, Bruce and Ariane are both inside the carriage to relax before the beginning of the mission, she's leaning on his shoulder.
"I'm not sleeping" she replies to Bruce.
"Ok, even better. I think we should get there walking, it's better leave the horses here or they can get suspicious."
"Ok, let's do it then". It's the day of the ritual so they change clothes and put on something simpler, with a dark cloak and taking their masks with them. They look like normal people, not surely like governors of a castle. They're at the town's gates at early night and they notice Sedna's house isn't there anymore. They get in Mira. There's a strange air. They put their masks on, she has a black silk mask while he prefers a more theatrical one, a mask that completely covers his face, with feathers everywhere, very similar to a bird. Only his hazel eyes and mouth are visible and it's perfect with his long hair. She puts on the hood of her cloak too, while he leaves it down the shoulders. People inside are all masked in different ways, there are joyful masks, sad ones and terrifying too. They seem to pretend everything is alright, they try to show they're having fun but Bruce and Ariane can see what's true, thanks to their powers but also because they saw how people of that town used to have fun. They look at each other with a perplexed expression. They walk along the streets, observing everything and everyone. The first impression is completely different from the first time, it seems it's not the same town, not anymore. Then, they hear the strong noise of fast running horseshoes, coming from behind them. Everyone moves away from the street, Bruce and Ariane move back too, when few horses with completely armed knights on them, pass in front of them running like hell. People seem to be habit to this kind of scenes while Bruce and Ariane are slightly surprised. They keep observing the knights: they take a man who was just kind of having fun like the others. The man yells that he's innocent, there's no reason of putting him in jail, he has a family... The knights don't say a word and just obey the order: they take him away. People around doesn't give a damn, they keep doing what they left when the knights arrived. Bruce and Ariane are speechless.
"This is..." Ariane whispers to Bruce's ear, keeping a beyond suspicion attitude, "this is unbelievable"
"Yeah, people seem to live in terror, or they actually don't give a damn"
"Who can make such a thing?"
"I guess we'll find it out soon, but we have to be ready". They act like normal people, there are a lot of visitors too in the town, not only castle's subjects. They walk, they talk, they look around when suddenly, in the middle of the crowd, Ariane feels something icy on her wrists. In an instant, she realizes she can't move her hands anymore: she's handcuffed. She tries to free herself, to see her enemy in the face while searching for Bruce beside her. He's right next to her, in the same situation. They exchange a scared look when soldiers push them out of the crowd.
They're taken to the lord's presence, kicking and fighting the soldiers. He turns around to look at them.
"Hello kids, do you remember me?" says the commander of Bruce's late uncle. Bruce can't believe in his eyes, he thought he died during the battle. Ariane still has a lot of hate toward him.
"Oh, come on, don't be that surprised, your uncle has been enough smart to send me away before the battle" he explains, getting closer to Bruce and taking away his mask. "Hello, beautiful" he says taking away Ariane's mask. "I see you dyed your hair. Anyway, don't worry if you're useless now, those handcuffs have a very useful function of blocking any magical trick. I'm going to enjoy this. Take them to prison" he orders "we'll meet very soon and can have a nice chat in private". Bruce and Ariane can't do anything. They're led to the castle's prison.
They don't get in jail, they're chained in the outer room, chained to the ankles and wrists, with their arms up, kind of hanging from the ceiling, one in front of the other. Ariane almost doesn't reach the floor. She takes a look at the handcuffs.
"Damn it!", Bruce looks at her. "These are enochian handcuffs, they're too strong. In a while we won't be able to walk anymore". Bruce doesn't say a word, he looks down.
"Hey, Bruce! Come on, we can do something!"
"Yes? And what? We're handcuffed with magical handcuffs, I don't see anything possible. I swear, I will torture that cunt to death!" he says, resigned but angry too. She tries to move or to get rid of the handcuffs. But she's worried, she knows nothing is possible.
"I'm sorry, this was a bad plan, we shouldn't even have come here" says Bruce, sad and looking down. She looks at him.
"Don't be sorry Bruce, we both chose to come here and well, the plan was good, just not enough", she tells among complaints to get rid of the chains.
"Stop it, you'll just hurt yourself" Bruce says worried. She looks sadly at him, like she just realized they're actually trapped. Few hours ago they were free, few days ago they were happily at their castle. Now, they're chained to the ceiling of a distant town, in a humid, dark and bad-smelling prison, with rats taking a look outside the holes in the walls. She sighs and stops trying.
Few minutes later, or an hour, they can hear footsteps in the stairs that lead down to them. They stare at the entrance, waiting for someone to come. First the shadow and then the person of the commander appears in the frame of the entrance. Bruce and Ariane look angrily and worried at him.
"So, good evening boy and girl. Are you enjoying the party?" he says, laughing.
"Let us free or we'll make you pay when we get rid of these" says Bruce, referring to the handcuffs.
"Oh, my boy, that's not gonna happen" he replies, getting closer. "You've been pretty stupid, haven't you? Hello my dear, it's a pleasure to see you again. I still haven't forgotten the first time I saw you" he says to Ariane, caressing her cheek with a finger. She tries to move back, disgusted. Bruce menacingly stares at him.
"Really Bruce? Rector? That's the most idiotic thing you could do. You were born prince and you rejected your title. That's stupid"
"Our castle is wealth and beautiful now. There's justice and citizens are happy with their lives. What about yours? People are terrified, the only thing I can see is death"
"Your castle? Haha, yeah, your castle... You see death? Yes, that's your death, because I'll finally kill you both, revenge your uncle if you want to put it like that." Bruce keeps his eyes fixed on him. "I took months to organize this town as it should have always been, there's no things like having fun and enjoying life. I'm their king, they have to fear me and bow down to me, because I'm the master of their lives, I can decide for their lives or deaths. I took two years to put on my army to take control of this city and after that I changed it to my own tastes. Just because of you. Your secret services work good but mine are better. The letter? Yeah, that was a fake my boy. But I had to make it all happen, the situation, the conditions had to be perfect". Bruce tries to understand where he wants to end, Ariane watches every move he does from behind.
"And you know what? You can handle people as you like when they fear you" he carries on, "there was a price on your heads, both of you. People didn't think twice about selling you. Ha! The people you want to save!". Bruce and Ariane look terribly pissed off, it was all just a trap.
"You two are too kind, kids. I knew you wouldn't have refused it. Especially to the town that helped you years ago. Yes, I know everything". Bruce looks down, outraged by the evil of his plan, of how he used their will to help people to attract them into a terrible trap.
"And you know what's the last point of my plan?" he says, raising up his chin and forcing him to look directly in his eyes. "Your castle, you said? You should have chosen better your officials, especially the secret services. It didn't take a lot to make him change his mind, he was very happy to gain a little more. So, while you're stuck here, he will put up a mess in your town. Though you surely won't see personally anything of it, you'll still know it's all ruined"
"You fucking bastard!!" yells Bruce, forced to keep his teeth closed. The commander leaves him, starts walking around and moves behind Ariane.
"But before killing you both, I'd like to have some fun" he says, slipping some fingers into her dress' strap. She tries to escape his move but the chains and the floor, too far, prevent her to avoid it.
"Don't you dare touch her!" Bruce threatens him.
"Oh, or what? You'll kill me with your sword? Oh wait, you don't have your sword, and you're chained". He comes back to him. "You can't do anything to defend your lady, or you too" he adds, while hitting him in the stomach. Now it's already full night and the commander decides to leave them reasoning and feeding up their guilt, while he will enjoy his torture the next day. Bruce and a scared Ariane stares at him while he leaves. Bruce shakes his hands trying to get free, but nothing. He notices Ariane's worry, she just keeps looking down.
"Hey! He won't do anything, ok? Nor to you or to me. We'll find a way" he says, trying to make her feel better.
In the middle of the night, Bruce and Ariane fall asleep, swinging from the ceiling, with their heads down. They don't hear the soft footsteps in the stairs. Someone is getting in: it's a jester, dressed with every existing colour in the world. He reaches them but they don't wake up. He comes to Bruce, tries to wake him up, slapping his face.
"Hey! Man! Wake up, come on!" he insists. Suddenly Bruce wakes up and he could have shouted with surprise if he didn't cover his mouth. Bruce is astonished and confused at the same time. The jester assures himself Bruce won't scream and puts away his hand.
"Dear Lord, man, you're boiling!" he says softly, not to get caught. Then takes some tools and starts forcing the handcuffs. Bruce is so shocked he can't say a word. He's just speechless. Such a joyful character in such a dark place was the last thing he could have ever imagined. He stares at him with surprise.
"What's wrong? Why are you staring at me? I'm releasing you, yes, and you're scalding, are you ok?". At these words, Bruce puts his surprise to one side and runs to Ariane. She's still sleeping, or maybe not just that.
"Yeah, I'm ok, but she's not. Help me put her down!". The jester starts forcing her handcuffs while Bruce tries to wake her up: he can't, she's really too hot. Bruce starts cursing as he takes her into his arms when the jester releases her.
"Where are we going now?" Bruce asks, worried, to the jester.
"Come with me, I will take you to a safe place". Bruce looks around, there are their cloaks and his sword there.
"Hey, please, can you take them?" he asks to him. The jester is a bit surprised but he does it and then leads him out of the prison through a secret passage. It's early morning now and they have to be cautious as they exit now.
Few hours later, Bruce and Ariane are in a small room. She's still unconscious, laying on the floor, on a leather carpet, with a blanket on, her dress used as pillow. He's sitting on the floor, next to her, depressingly looking down. He has a cold water container next to him and with a kerchief he sometimes wets her forehead. The jester, with his usual clothes, enters the room.
"Hi. How is she?" he asks. Bruce shakes his head. "She will get better". Bruce just looks at her: it seems she's sleeping but he can't wake her up.
"Who are you?" he asks, still looking at her. "Why did you help us escaping?"
"I'm just a leather worker but I worked as guard in the prison before this regime, so I knew everything. People call me Makemake. I was a friend of Sedna, I heard about you two, she talked to me, and when I saw what happened, in the street, I knew I should have helped you. I don't like how things are going here, so I appreciate your help and efforts". Bruce looks at him, though he's not completely focused on what he's saying, he's more worried about Ariane's conditions.
"Thank you. Is Sedna still here?". Makemake's expression saddens.
"No, she's been caught and executed, in the first months of this regime". Bruce didn't expect this, he was thinking he could have asked for her help.
"Do you want something to eat? I can give you something"
"No, thanks" replies Bruce, at his wits' end.
"You should eat something, man"
"No, thank you" he repeats.
"Ok" Makemake says and leaves the room. Bruce keeps refreshing Ariane's forehead with the water but she's still extremely hot. The magic of the enochian handcuffs affected her more than him, but he doesn't know how this is going to end. He stays next to her for the whole day, doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, he just stays there taking care of her. But she doesn't give any signal of improving conditions. He's tired and sad, he's actually dying inside from guilt and sorrow. He can't lose her, she can't die. Not only because she's half of him but because she's his bestfriend. He takes her hand and talks to her, even if he doesn't know if she can hear him, he actually doesn't know anything about what's going on.
"Ariane? Can you hear me? I can't feel anything from you... Please, tell me you're ok, you'll wake up soon. I can't do this without you. Please, please! Wake up... You can't leave me, ok? You can't. You can't... I need you, here. Come on..." but nothing happens.
The next day, on late evening, Bruce falls asleep next to her, holding her arm between his arms. Finally he sleeps after two days. And as he sleeps, she slowly starts to wake up. Moves her fingers then slowly opens her eyes. There's just a torch in the little room but there's too much light in any case. She tries to pull back her arm and only after she can see Bruce is holding it, next to her. The blur from her eyes goes away, she can see Bruce as he wakes up too, because she's moving her arm. He looks at her in surprise, unsure if he's still sleeping or not, then he helps her sitting and hugs her tightly.
"Yeah Bruce, I love you too" she says jokingly, not knowing anything of what happened. He doesn't say a word.
"Hey, what's going on, Bruce?" she asks, noticing he still doesn't leave her.
"You don't remember anything?" he asks, looking at her.
"Aah, just the prison. And then something like confused voices and I was trying to wake up, but couldn't". He touches her forehead, she's not scalding anymore.
"You've been unconscious for... Two days". She looks surprised, looks down, trying to understand.
"The enochian handcuffs. I don't know what they did to you". She looks around.
"Where are we? How did we escape the prison?"
"A man helped us. He's a leather worker, we're at his house now, a room in the back. Pretty safe and hidden. It's little but that doesn't matter. We stayed here the last two days, but we have to hurry. When that son of a bitch found out we were escaped, he sent his guards to search the whole castle. Sooner or later they will be here too and it can be a problem". She looks at him, a bit confused.
"Are you ok? How do you feel now?"
"I... I'm good, I think. But you look tired"
"Yeah, I am, a bit. I haven't slept for two days"
"Seriously Bruce? Are you crazy?"
"No, well, I had to..."
"No Bruce. Go to sleep, or I'll force you" she interrupts him. "And thank you"
"I guess I'll stay here" he says laying down.
"Ok" she says, looking at him and smiling. Then she looks around, trying to realize what happened.
After some minutes, she's walking around the room after two days of unconsciousness. Bruce is sleeping with her blanket on him. She goes around, thoughtful. Then the door opens and Makemake calls Bruce. She turns around, not knowing who's he and what to do. He gets in.
"Oh, hi, you woke up" he says to her. "Now he's sleeping... What's wrong with you two?". She feels uncomfortable, she just looks around and stays silent.
"Ahm, sorry, I'm Makemake, I'm the one who helped you escape"
"Ah! Thank you" she replies.
"Are you alright now?"
"Yes, thanks. He's sleeping, he was really tired"
"Yeah, he stayed with you all the time, he was feeling really bad"
"Thank you for letting us stay here"
"No problem girl, and stop saying thank you". She smiles.
"Ok, then. Why are you doing this?"
"Because I believe in you and probably I was the only one who could take you out of that hell on Earth, before things got really bad. I appreciate your help. And I want to help you too". She smiles. After all this evil, she didn't expect to find someone willing to help them.
The next morning, she's sitting on the floor.
"Ahi, oh, uh... Fuck"
"Good morning to you too, my dear boy" she comments.
"Hello. How could you sleep here for two days? My back is hurting like son of a bitch"
"Oh, yeah, I didn't notice it. I won't ask you how you slept then"
"No, spare this one, Sleeping Beauty" he says. She laughs.
"Oh yes, that's my Bruce. Where have you been, man?". He manages to sit too when Makemake suddenly breaks into the room.
"Hey hey! Hurry! Soldiers are coming here! You have to hide!". Bruce and Ariane stand up, alarmed, but they actually don't know where to go.
"Follow me, here!". Makemake leads them into another room, the deposit of leather. He opens a little and narrow closet.
"Come in there! They won't search it! Also this is just the deposit". Ariane takes a look inside.
"We can't both fit in there!"
"That's why they won't search it! Hurry!" he says, pushing them inside and then locking it. Half of the closet is full of leather and the only light comes from the boundaries of the doors. Bruce and Ariane find themselves pushed inside, in front of each other, in almost complete darkness.
"I can't move" she whispers.
"Yeah, tell me. I just woke up and now I find myself locked into a closet pushed against you"
"And what should I say then? You're squeezing me" she replies softly. Suddenly they hear the sound of armours outside and some confused but strong voices and yells. They shut up, in that uncomfortable position, staring into each other's eyes. They're focused on the voices but can't understand them properly. They're sweating cold. They can feel their own breaths on their neck, feeling each other's anxiety, nervous and fear. She instinctively grabs his arms. They stay there for few minutes, until the inspection is over. Voices disappear and then they can hear someone hitting the lock of the closet. They're unsure if it's Makemake or someone else, opening the door. Their worried looks keep crossing in the darkness of the closet. Then Makemake opens the door.
"Oh! Sorry guys, maybe it was too narrow"
"Ah, finally! I couldn't breathe" comments Bruce getting out of there.
"Really? I could perfectly feel your breath on my neck. That was somewhat uncomfortable" she adds.
"Somewhat?" he asks, confused, or disappointed.
"Hey, you two! Stop it!" Makemake says. "I managed to deceive them, for now at least. They couldn't find anyone but I'm sure they're suspecting something. You have to hurry, whatever thing you want to do". Bruce looks at Ariane.
"I don't know if it's the case to keep going on this... We tried it once, we're not ready. Maybe we should just come back". Makemake looks surprised.
"Bruce, if you're saying it for me, know that I'm alright" Ariane says.
"What can we do here? I risked... You almost died once already, I don't want this to happen again". Ariane looks thoughtful.
"What day is today?" she asks then.
"Two days to the full Moon" Makemake answers. She looks at Bruce, one of those look only the two of them can give and soon understand what the other is meaning.
"No. No, you're not thinking of..."
"Yes, Dione's spell. And it's even stronger because there will be an occultation too"
"No, girl, I won't let you to do this. It's too dangerous, especially after what happened. Did you hear me few seconds ago? I don't wanna lose you, you're not completely healed..."
"Bruce, I'm ok!" she shouts. "I feel perfectly Bruce! We can do this!". Bruce is reluctant, he shakes his head. Makemake stares at them, not understanding a single word. She grabs his arms and tries to attract his look.
"Bruce! Look at me! We can do this! Trust me! We're here, the time is perfect, we have to defeat this man, sooner or later! Coming here again would just mean risking other people's lives! You have to trust me, Bru! I know you do!". He looks at her, resigned but worried.
"I will be ok, we both will be. We just need some things"
"Wait: what are you talking about? What is this spell?" asks Makemake, confused.
"It's a particular strong ritual that allows us to manage a very intense power. It needs to be practiced during a Lunar Eclipse. The occultation of Jupiter, on the same day and time, it will make it even stronger" Ariane explains.
"You're crazy..." Bruce murmurs softly.
"We need some things" she carries on "we need honeysuckle, to increase psychic awareness, lily flowers to purify, protect and give bravery, mugweed to improve physical awareness and ginger, to increase the power. Then also a diamond and our own blood. I guess this is the easiest thing"
"I know where to find the herbs, there is a shop in here" says Makemake
"Ok, perfect" she says, looking at Bruce. He's not against her idea but he's worried. "Don't worry, we'll manage to handle this"
"This is stronger than everything we ever tried"
"Yes. But there's always a first time". Makemake is looking at them, starting to feel the craziness of the plan.
"Ok... I'll go to the shop. You two stay here and don't move, for whatever reason". Bruce and Ariane nod.
They manage to hide at his house for the next two days too. It's the day of the Eclipse, the day of the spell. Ariane is preparing everything, mixing the herbs in a kerchief, crushes the diamond just with two fingers and adds it. Bruce is walking, back and forth.
"Nah, you're not nervous" she comments. He looks at her.
"Surely I am. This is the craziest idea you ever had", she looks at him like 'I already explained it'.
"No, you know, I trust you, I really do, you're awesome with these things, but I'm afraid something can go wrong"
"That can happen every time" she says, smiling at him. Makemake is back with some things. Bruce and Ariane think they are his new works.
"You can't go around dressed like that guys" he says "first, I'm sad to say, your clothes are completely dirty from all the mud of the prison. Second, they can recognize you easily. That's why I prepared something for you". Bruce and Ariane look at each other, surprised.
"All leather?" she asks.
"Yes, well, that's what I can do"
"Oh, thank you very much. You shouldn't have to" Ariane says.
"Ah, that's nothing for me. Especially if you're going, or even trying to save us all". Bruce and Ariane look at each other again, with a heavier weight on their consciences. Therefore, they put on the new clothes. They have both a leather shirt and leather trousers with a large belt and armbands. The new style should be less cumbersome that usual clothes, his is all black, hers is dark red.
"Wow Bruce, you look so..." she says speechless as she sees him "so good! Where did you hide all those muscles?"
"Oh, well... Yeah!" he replies smiling "You look good too girl!". This was a strange outfit for them, totally new. That's why their fangirling and fanboying over each other. But it's time for them to go.
Darkness is coming down outside, they need a quiet place where sky is visible. They put their cloaks on and leave. They keep in the secondary roads, the isolated and uncrowded ones. Ariane looks up.
"How long til the eclipse?" Bruce asks.
"Ah, one hour at least. There's Jupiter there, can you see it?" she asks pointing up "The bright star that doesn't flicker"
"Yeah" he replies, following her finger "yeah" he adds somewhat sad. She looks at him and hugs him, leaning on his chest.
"I can assure you I will show you the stars again, just as we both love". Then, they hear something, some horses are getting closer. Bruce and Ariane search for a darkest corner then and hide there. Bruce pushes her better to the wall, while he stays at the corner, taking a look out.
"Someone is riding in the neighbourhood" he comments. Then he hides again behind the wall. They stay in complete silence, without moving a finger, in the darkness of the street. Everything seems calm when some horses come from the other side, just from the road where they are now. They look at that side: horses with knights are coming. Bruce takes her hand and drags her away, crossing the perpendicular street and hiding in another street. And here again, pushed against the wall when they hear the horses again. They don't take a lot to realize they're surrounded by the soldiers.
"Damn it!" she says "Who told them we were here?"
"Maybe someone recognized us... Ah, idiotic people"
"What can we do now? I can't see the Moon from here"
"How much time should be remaining now?" he asks, looking at the enlightened ends of the street, were horses are riding in circle.
"Ah, three quarters, 40 minutes maybe. Why? What are you thinking?". Bruce doesn't answer.
"What are you thinking, Bruce?" she asks softly but worried. He looks at her with a scared look, but scared of her possible reaction.
"I can take them busy, while you make the spell"
"What?" she says shocked "You wanna... Be the bait?! You're kidding me? I won't let you go!"
"Ariane, we have to act. We can't stay here, we're surrounded, we're trapped"
"No, no" she repeats, shaking her head "No, I can't do this alone"
"Yes, you can. I know you can. You're the only one that can do this and manage it", she still shakes her head, he takes her shoulders and tries to convince her.
"Your idea of Dione's spell was crazy, you asked me to trust you and I did. Now you have to trust me"
"I trust you but I don't trust them! What will they do when they get you? They will kill you! That's a suicidal move!"
"Don't mind about them, you have to trust me and my plan. I will care of them, you make the spell". As he says that, he takes a knife from his waist belt and cuts his arm. Then puts his blood in the hexbag with the herbs that she brought.
"No, no..." she says, almost crying. "No, don't leave me now, I need you"
"I'm not leaving you, we're bounded, you remember?"
"Yes you can. You will" he says, trying to calm her down, he hugs her. "And don't start crying now". He comforts her though he's worried too, but they don't have any other choice.
"You said you don't wanna lose me" she says, sobbing "but I don't wanna lose you too". He takes down her hood and salutes her, kissing her forehead. He tries to go away but she tightly grabs his wrist.
"Let me go" he says. She looks at him, in his eyes, how can she let him go? "And don't look at me like that, you know I can't resist" he adds. "It's late". She looks down and extremely unsure and slowly, leaves his wrist.
"See you later. Good luck" he says going away. She doesn't answer.
He exits the street and start walking along the road, like a normal person. With tears in her eyes, Ariane walks toward the opposite side. After a second, she finds a soldier with his sword pointed against her. She doesn't think twice, she's too angry and hurt to care about it. She raises her hand and throws away the sword from his hands. The soldier looks at her with surprise: not only he didn't expect this, but he didn't from a girl. After that, she keeps pointing her hand to him and after few second he falls to the ground, dead, with his eyes melted. She takes his sword and keeps going, looking at the sky: the penumbral eclipse started.
Bruce walks for few minutes, with his surprise, until the knights finally find him. He fights with his sword against them, pulls them to the ground with his telekinetic powers, avoiding to harm horses. But after a while he's pushed and blocked against the wall. But he looks at them with a challenging stare. One of them comes down, hits him in the face with his sword's hilt. While Bruce covers his bleeding nose, the soldier handcuffs his wrist and drags him after him.
"Haha, we got one, now we have to search for her. I thought you too were stronger"
"And less stupid" adds another knight.
"Yeah! Haha" echo the others. Bruce looks at them with an angry and offended look. They take him back to the commander, very happy to see him again, that decides for an immediate intervention: public execution. He has enough of these two idiotic magicians, as he calls them. He will kill him and her too, when he finds her. But specifies to Bruce some particulars of his idea for her that he surely would have preferred not to know. The news of his execution quickly spreads in the castle, commander's messengers start shouting it in the roads. That's how Ariane gets to know about it.
"A message from the King!" is shouted "The Rector of Villa Ecclesiae has been captured. The so called magician Bruce *** ***** is condemned to public execution. He will be burnt at the stake tonight for practicing magic and embracing relations with the Devil". Ariane is hiding in the shadows of the streets, her hood up, when she hears it. She almost faints. She looks up, Moon is turning red, the partial eclipse is on the way. She can see Jupiter getting closer to the Moon, but she has to start the ritual when it gets behind and the Moon has to be completely red. In total, the occultation will last few minutes and that will be the time they have to defeat the regime. She stays there, leaning to the wall, looking down, thinking. What if the eclipse and occultation will not occur in time? What if they will be able to burn him at the stake? She feels sick just thinking of it... People starts getting out of their houses and crowding the square. They are coming out from everywhere and they all go there, around the stake that has been prepared. Why did you leave Bruce?
"Why did you leave me alone?" she softly whispers to herself.
Minutes are passing, the square is full of people. Ariane stays far from them, observing the sky, waiting. It is probably one of the worst moments of her life. Then she takes a knife and cuts her arm. Puts her blood in the hexbag with the herbs and Bruce's blood. Bruce is kept in the prison, until his time comes. Guards take him out and drag him to the square. He tries to defend but he can do little. He's taken outside. People start talking and shouting. Witchcraft executions are always well accepted by the crowd. Ariane hears the yells and understands something is happening. She looks toward the square, with fear in her heart but wanting to know. She sees Bruce, he's still handcuffed and the guards are taking off his cloak to tie him up to the steak.
"Damn it!" she comments, worried, staring at him. He looks around, probably he's searching for her. Then he looks up: the Moon is red, Jupiter is still beside it. He starts to get worried but he will never stop hoping and believing in his girl. He gets tied up, very tightly and they don't take the enochian handcuffs off, to be safe. The commander goes close to him and speaks to his ear.
"Finally we're here boy. I dreamt this moment for three years". Bruce looks at him, trying to hide his fear, but with very little success.
"I'm not your boy"
"Oh right, you're 29, you're a man now. Haha! Well, too bad you'll never be 30. This is your end, man. I win. What a bad leader you are! You even forgot about your castle! I'm sure it's already burning, like you in a few moments. I just want you to know it before you die: you only caused pain, deaths and sufferings. You've just let all your people die. When I'll find your girl, I will show her how a real leader acts. Burn in peace, little boy". When he finishes, he moves back to stare, few meters away. Bruce's anxiety is exponentially growing, he breathes quickly and with a broken breath. He tries to calm down, leans his head back, closes his eyes and tries breathing deeply. It doesn't work. He looks up, Jupiter is very near the Blood Moon, just some more minutes... But does he have some more minutes? Ariane is looking at the whole scene from a far distance in the square, feeling her blood slowly draining away. The executioner lights up the farer part of the wicker. It all quickly takes fire. Bruce stares at it, feeling the rapidly increasing heat around him. There's nothing else to do: he will die. Ariane looks up, with tears in her eyes and atrocious pain in her heart. Jupiter is not visible anymore: the Blood Moon occultation of Jupiter has began. She suddenly feels nothing is over yet, there's still hope. She rapidly takes the hexbag and starts uttering some strange words, the formula for the spell. Bruce tries to move back to avoid the flames, but he can't make a step. A flame in the front is reaching him quickly, he turns his head on the other side because the heat is too much. The fire almost reaches his hair, the wicker around him is quickly burning. Ariane strikes a match directly on her hand and burns the hexbag. It slowly takes fire because the hexbag is way more bigger than the flame. But the spell is starting to work. Ariane can feel it, head starts aching and the hexbag falls to the ground, burning. She leans on the wall, holding her head in pain and confused. She can only see the dark silhouettes of the crowd and the intense light of the stake. Flames are reaching a desperate but resigned Bruce and when he sees the fire getting too dangerously close, he hopes his bestfriend is here and can hear him.
"I'm sorry, Ariane!" he shouts with all his voice, a painful shout. Ariane hears him, the hexbag is completely burnt. She raises her head to look towards him: her eyes turned red, she took control of Dione's power. From the back of the crowd, her eyes closed, she calmly raises her hand to him, flames slowly move back from him. Bruce looks surprised at the phenomenon, people are shocked and start yelling it's a Devil's act to save his adept. The commander is surprised too and asks explanations to his officials.
"Didn't I tell you to keep him handcuffed?!" he says.
"We did it, sir"
"And what's it then? Unless this is her...". Ariane walks forward among the crowd. They move back with fear, so a corridor forms among people. Still with her hand up, she gets in front of Bruce. With a gesture of the hand, the flames are blown away, as if they have been extinguished by a strong windblow. Bruce looks at her, astonished. She takes down her hood.
"Ariane!!" he says, relieved, with a soft voice, noticing her red eyes.
"Finally Bruce. I'm here to save your wonderful ass, honey" she replies, smiling at him. He looks at her confused. Sky is getting cloudy, a storm is coming and the Blood Moon is now covered. Bruce's power has been blocked by the handcuffs until now. Ariane burns the ropes which tied him up and melts the handcuffs with a simple gesture, without hurting him. His eyes shine of red, he has to lean on the stake because of the headache. The crowd and the commander are looking astonished at the whole scene. After few seconds, he's standing on his own and ready for the battle. Ariane looks proudly at him. A storm is on the way in the castle, Bruce looks up and raising up his hand to the sky, he grabs a lightning and throws it to the commander. He runs away with his soldiers, people start running around, screaming with terror. Bruce and Ariane are not going to stop. She turns to the crowd and with her hand pushes them all to one side of the square. With a snap of fingers, she gives them fire. Bruce chases the commander on his horse, hitting him with lightning and invisible shockwaves. Sometimes the commander escapes and the shockwaves destroy parts of the enclosing walls. Ariane blocks the commander from the other side.
"You evil little bitch! I'll make you pay!!" he yells with anger. Bruce pushes him down the horse. Everything starts to tremble, like a strong earthquake. Among all the confusion, Ariane fights with the soldiers to keep them away from Bruce. She breaks their necks or just pushes them down. The commander points his sword against Bruce.
"You're really getting on my nerves now! What's this thing now? How can you do that?". Bruce smiles at him.
"Ah, don't worry, you won't have this problem for much more time" he replies, calmly and evil. He pushes him against the wall of the main tower. Everything gets a stronger shake. Then he suddenly breaks his neck. He turns to Ariane, she's still fighting with the soldiers when the most violent shake arrives. Everything starts shaking, walls get down the towers get down, all the buildings crumble to the ground. Bruce and Ariane look around astonished and quickly they get covered with dust and stones.
The sky is still dark and clouded, from a hole in the clouds the Blood Moon is visible, Jupiter is next to its other side: the occultation is over, and so the power of the spell. Ariane is laying on the ground, covered in dust and with wounds and scratches all over her arms and face. All around is destruction. She awakes and opens her eyes. From red they become brown again. She tries to move, it's difficult among all those rubbles and the pain of wounds. She looks around, scared and terrified by all what happened. She manages to stand up and starts roaming around, calling Bruce's name. After some steps, she finds him unconscious on the ground, where the main tower fell. She runs to him as soon as she can and bends down to him.
"Bruce! Bruce! Wake up!" she says, cleaning his wounds from the dust. He has the right arm blocked under a big stone. She slaps his face and after some seconds he wakes up. The red light vanishes from his eyes.
"Bruce! Are you ok?"
"What do you mean? If I'm alive? Yeah, I think so"
"Well, it's a good starting point" she says smiling a little "you'll never do this again, clear?"
"Enough. Though I think I broke my arm"
"Oh, damn it..." she says. She tries to raise the stone but it's too heavy, even for her superpowers.
"Ahi! No, you can't do this..." he murmurs. She takes the sword she stole from the soldier and uses it as a lever. After a while, some efforts and some screams from Bruce, she manages to pull it away, breaking even the sword. His arm is livid and covered in blood, but the fracture isn't exposed. She helps him to sit on the ground, he looks around.
"We killed everyone, we destroyed the whole town... How could we?" he asks, concerned. She turns his head again towards her.
"Don't mind it, ok? Yes, we destroyed everything but they didn't help us. It was the only choice we had" she says while taking a look at his arm.
"I don't wanna do this ever again. Ahi! You're hurting me!"
"Oh, I'm sorry. Your hair smells of smoke"
"Yeah, that's very likely. I risked a lot. Actually I thought I was going to die there"
"Oh boy, yeah, you were almost there. And I couldn't do anything until the very last moment, it was terrible. Never think again of these suicidal moves! Or I'll kill you first!"
"Haha, yeah, I saw you can be very dangerous. I have to remember not to piss you off" he smiles, she smiles back.
"Hey, we have to come back to Villa! As soon as possible!"
"Why? We can't get there until few days"
"That asshole... The commander... He told me more than once that he was organizing a kind of rebellion there and the town was already destroyed"
"He was bluffing. He wanted to piss you off and make you feel guilty"
"It's possible but I have the feeling it's not just that. He was sure of every single word. I'm not sure it was a lie... I wanna be sure"
"Ok" she replies a bit worried "We'll try to get there as soon as possible. Come on, get up. Can you do it?" she says helping him.
"Hey, wait." he says, she looks at him, surprised and interrogative. He smiles.
"Do you actually think I have a wonderful butt?"
"What??!" she asks confused and extremely surprised.
"Haha, yeah, I knew that. Alteration of conscience, you put a bit too much mugweed in that hexbag". She thinks a bit. "You even called me honey!"
"Really?" she asks astonished. "I never do that"
"Yeah, exactly. You should do that more often" he smiles.
"Ok, let's go darling" she says, smiling at him, taking his hand and trying to get out of what remains of the wonderful Mira.
They're outside, walking towards their carriage with horses. The weather is awful, it's going to rain very soon. Stars and Moon are not visible anymore. They can see the carriage getting closer and they hurry up their pace, though sore and full of dust in their clothes, hair, faces.
"We're almost there. Don't move that arm!" she says. They finally arrive and get in. They don't have a lot there but Ariane tries to block his arm with two sticks and wraps it with a bandage.
"Ok, you stay here, take a rest, I'll drive the carriage" she says. Therefore, she starts and horses run as fast as they can. She said that about Villa before but she's worried too and wants to reach their town soon. While they're on journey, it starts raining violently. Bruce is sleeping inside, he doesn't hear anything. Ariane runs faster and faster and gets completely wet by the rain. It's impossible to reach Villa in a few hours but in the early morning they were there already, the castle in front of them. It's morning but it seems night because the sky is covered and it's still raining. Ariane looks at the horizon and can only see a high column of smoke. It doesn't look good. She calls Bruce. He awakes, doesn't know where they are, just sees her completely wet.
"Ariane! What are you doing? Come inside! It's raining! You're completely wet!"
"No, Bruce, come here, come and see, we're almost arrived"
"Already?" he asks surprised and move close to her to see out. "How could we get so..." he interrupts. He sees the smokes and gets something went wrong. They hurry up and are in front of the town in a few minutes, or at least in front of what remains. The castle has been burnt and some flames are still on and burning. Everything is ash, the walls are black like coal. Probably everyone is dead. The smoke blurs the ruins and darkens the sky even more. Bruce and Ariane get out of the carriage and look at it, astonished, sad, with guilt in their heart. They stare at it, he's looking at his hometown, his kingdom, burnt from the foundations, she's looking at her adopted town, destroyed, like her hometown. They can't do anything, even with their powers. Two town has been destroyed, their people killed, in one day just because of them. They don't care of the rain falling heavy over them, their hearts are heavier than that rain. Even with his broken arm, he hugs her tightly while they stare at it, incredulous. And again, after all they did and built, they're alone again, no place to stay and nowhere to go. Just on the road again, just the two of them.
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