It's early morning. Few days passed since their escape from the witch's prison and they walked lots of kilometers in the forest. Now they're out and are sleeping under the only visible tree in the plain. Her healing is going slow because they had to move a lot and she had to walk. In fact, though strong, Bruce can't carry her for the whole time. Now it's good weather but some dark clouds are getting closer from West. They lay down on the ground, under tree's shadow, with their dirty and torn off clothes, signs of their passage through narrow lanes between trees and bushes. Bruce wakes up with the sunlight beating on his face. He looks around: what a beautiful landscape he sees. The sky is orange and pink, reflections on the clouds make them look like soft cotton and the huge plain below the little hill where they are looks even more wide, coloured with yellow grass. Ariane is still sleeping, on one side, with her back to him. He wants her to enjoy this view too. So he poses his hand on her arm and whispers in her ear.
"Rise and shine, sunray". She wakes up, feeling his breath on her cheek.
"Bruce... Give me five minutes, ok?"
"No, you have to see this"
"See what?" she asks, closing again her eyes.
"See this" he replies, rolling her with her back to the ground. She murmurs some noises and opens her eyes. He was right, it was worth it: this view is spectacular.
"I knew you would have loved it, you love the same things I do" he says smiling. She sits down to see better. He does the same.
"How are you today?" he asks.
"I'm still a bit tired. I don't know, it never happened, it's taking longer than usually"
"Probably because you're not actually resting. We need to find a place soon"
"Yeah, I guess so" she replies, surrounding his arm with hers and leaning on his shoulder. "I don't mind now, I just want to enjoy this view, with my favourite company"
"I'm the only company" he precises.
"Yeah, well, but it sounds sadder like this" she replies, looking at him. "You remain my favourite company"
"Good girl..." he says smiling.
They keep moving for the whole day but weather gets worst. The dark clouds at West arrived and though it's just late evening, it's already dark. It's raining when Bruce and Ariane arrive somewhere. It's an ancient convent, on a hill. It seems quiet and peaceful, as definition of the place itself. What's better place to rest and search for the peace of soul? And also they're tired, wet and a bit sick, they really hope they will host them. They arrive at the big door, all wet in their poor clothes. Ariane looks really bad, she's sneezing every five minutes and has her eyes circled of black. Bruce has a strange voice because of a light cold and holds Ariane under his arm, more to keep her up than to protect her. They knock at the door, with heavy rain beating on them and on their faces. A nun opens.
"Hello, excuse us, do you have any place for two pilgrims? We don't have any place where to stay" says Bruce with his strange voice and holding his cough and sneezes. The nun looks at them, with a suspicious stare.
"I'm sorry, we can't host sick people here"
"No, no, we're not... It's not a human thing, it's a... supernatural intervention. We should just rest. You're a woman of religion, you should believe in a supernatural intervention. Please, we can't stay here all night with this rain. My sister feels really bad, we just need a place to stay, a ceiling to protect us from the storm". He tells it with his most gentle way, they're trembling for the cold and their wet clothes don't help. Therefore, the nun, sympathetic, decides to help them and lets them in. The magicians thank warmly. The nun gives them some new clothes, just simple frocks and leads them to their 'guest rooms', two not-used cells at the moment. Though beds are really small and the nun tells them to stay in separated rooms, Bruce goes to Ariane's room to see how she's feeling. She's sitting in her bed, freezing even with dry clothes and a blanket, coughing and sneezing.
"Hey, Ariane?" he calls, while crossing the door of her room. She smiles at him.
"Hey". He gets in bringing a hot cup of tea for her.
"Take this, it should warm you up a bit"
"Thank you" she replies, drinking a bit. He rubs his hands on her arms to try to warm her up.
"It's a cold night, eh?" he says, she looks at him. "You should dry your hair, it's not good to keep it wet with such a cold"
"Well, this works for you too" she says.
"I'm feeling better than you" he replies, drying her hair with a towel.
"At least we found a safe place" she comments.
"Yes, it's been a struck of luck. We couldn't stay out there with this weather"
"You think we can stay here?"
"I don't know, but I hope so. It seems perfect here"
"Yes, a convent. I've always been religious but the last events made me change my mind, a lot I guess. I always had my strange ideas though..." she keeps drinking.
"Yes. It's difficult to explain, it's a pretty personal thing. I don't know that too, if I believe or not"
"However, after all we did, maybe this is the right place. We can believe in whatever thing but the spirit of every religion is always the same, the basic of human morals. And we infringed them all". She looks down, he does too.
"Well, not everyone" he precises, a bit playfully. She looks at him.
"But we acted terrible, we infringed the worst of them. We touched the evil in us and we liked it. Now we must deal with it, forever. And we have to learn how to control it, as we did for our powers. There's still a long road to walk. And we have to walk together along it, if we want to stay human and not get to the dark side" she says, sadly looking at him. Her speech is not so joyful but Bruce knows she's right. The tea is doing its effect and she's not trembling anymore. But Bruce doesn't want to listen to the nun's prohibitions and stays with Ariane for the night, no one will ever know. He puts an arm around her shoulders and they fall asleep, with thunders echoing outside and rain beating on the little wooden window and walls of the cell.
They are surprised when just few hours later, at early morning, the nuns are already up, praying and working. And sure they find out he didn't sleep in his room, but it doesn't matter. He explains she didn't feel that good. Bruce gets better in a little time but Ariane takes a bit more. After one week she's still not strong enough to cure herself, but this is comprehensible, with all the efforts they made in the last weeks. They stay in the convent for some weeks, with nuns who always wake up and go to bed early, pray and work for the whole day. Bruce and Ariane don't have anything to do, so they chat or reflect. They take a stroll in the courtyard, enjoying the nature and the peace of that place. The burden in their soul is still heavy but looking at the beautiful landscape around them, it seems it gets eased a bit. They feel that peace in their heart they probably never felt before, but they know it won't last. The witch is still out there, who knows what he's planning. They have to defeat him and that battle won't be easy too. He played with them for months, he can do whatever trick during the fight. They're starting to lose that bloody feeling they felt, but what if it comes back when they fight? If PanStarrs uses it to complete his work? Surely, he's now more afraid of them, knowing what he created, and not knowing they're trying to suppress that side. And he can't chain them anymore, they're the only ones who can control their will now and it's not a thing in PanStarrs' favour, two bloody supernatural creatures like them.
One morning, they're sitting in a bench in the courtyard, talking.
"How much should we stay here?" she asks.
"Until we get better. It seems you're doing good to me"
"Yes..." she answers, not so sure.
"What? What are you thinking?"
"Just... when we'll leave this place, we have still another mission to accomplish"
"You're talking about PanStarrs? Killing him?" he whispers, not to be heard. "Yes, I guess so. If our information were right, he's planning to conquer all the neighbour towns. We have to stop him". This unpleasant conversation goes on in what is the most pleasant place on Earth, a beautiful garden with green grass and white little flowers here and there, a soft vernal wind blows on their faces. While they talk, Bruce gets distracted by something and keeps staring silently at something behind Ariane.
"Bruce? Bruce! What's up?" she asks, trying to attract his attention. He looks at her, a bit confused.
"Yeah, yes, sorry... What were you saying?"
"What's up?" she asks again.
"Nothing, I thought I saw something"
"Something?" she repeats, waiting for explanations. "Where?" she asks turning around.
"Ahm, behind that column. I don't know precisely, it was kind of fuzzy, but... I think I saw two eyes looking at me. Probably it was a cat". She looks confused.
"I never saw cats here. And this place is out of the world, cats don't walk that much in the middle of nowhere"
"Yes, I know" he says, scratching his forehead. "I don't know, maybe it was just a reflection of the Sun"
"Yeah, maybe" she says, but she's not very much convinced. And he still looks a bit disturbed.
This strange event wasn't a single one. But at first they looked like common things. One evening, the magicians were walking along the corridors on the enclosing walls to look at the sunset. Bruce looks at Ariane as they talk and with the sunlight on their faces he can see something shining on her neck.
"Oh, you still have it!" he exclaims. She quickly gets he's talking about her necklace.
"Sure I have it. You were really bound to it, how could I lose it?" she explains, smiling. "Just, I had to keep it safe for all this time. With all those fights, Mira, Ammit and the witch at the end, losing it was a continuous risk and I wouldn't have ever forgiven myself if I lost it". He smiles happy, he thought she actually left it somewhere and forgot about it. But he gave it to her, how could she forget? They turn to the sunset and Bruce takes a look around. As he looks at East, something he never saw before attracts his attention.
"Did you know of a castle in the neighbourhood?" he asks her, surprised.
"No, in fact there isn't any" she says, even more surprised. He reflects on his own, confused: he knows what he's seeing, there's a castle in front of them.
"Bruce, are you alright?" she asks. "You're strange lately"
"No, I'm good, but... If that's not a..." he interrupts and looks astonished in the same direction.
"What? Bruce? I'm getting worried"
"There was a castle there, I'm sure of that!"
"There!" he says pointing at East "but there isn't anymore, it vanished! While I was looking at it!" he tells, a bit shocked.
"Bruce, when did you start having hallucinations?" she asks serious, and worried.
"This is not... Or maybe it is, I don't know!"
"Maybe it's a new aspect of your power... When did you have your last vision?"
"Ahm..." he thinks, "few weeks ago I think. I never had one while we've been here. I thought it was just a quiet period. My visions have always been related to something bad"
"Ok, so maybe that's it"
"But why? I don't understand! That's meaningless! First a cat, and now a vanishing castle! I can't get the meaning! With my visions, I could see what they meant, but these!" he says, a bit nervous.
"Ok, ok, stay calm now, we'll go ‘til the end of it". He sighs, still looking at East.
Few nights after, Ariane is quietly sleeping in her bed, her room is few cells away from Bruce's. Her door is half open but slowly it closes by itself. She's tired and doesn't mind of it, maybe it was just the soft wind that sometimes blows through the window. Bruce is already in deep sleep and doesn't notice if someone closes his door. He sleeps, but he starts moving in his bed, rolling under the blankets from one side to the other and again to the other one. Something is wrong, something disturbs him. He hears some noises in his sleep, some metallic noises like keys. He hears them turning into a lock when he suddenly wakes up. All he can see are dusty bars around his bed. Where is he? What's going on? He sits in his bed, scared. Is this real or just a dream? Another hallucination? The witch caught them again? He looks around, he wants to move but he can't. He tries to scream but he has no voice. There's dust on the ground, webs in every corner. He looks beyond the bars and sees something shining on the ground: it's Ariane's necklace. He's terribly sweating and his heart beats faster than ever. He's scared and calls for help with the little voice he has. He looks around terrified when the door opens suddenly. The bars and the dust and everything vanish in a cloud of smoke and he's able to move again.
"Bruce! What's happening?" Ariane asks worried while she enters his room. He's sitting on the bed, looking at her with scare and relief.
"I was sleeping when I woke up because of you. You were terrified... What's going on?" she says, going to him and sitting on his bed next to him.
"I... had another one of those things" he replies, with a trembling voice.
"Yeah, I guess. I was in prison, I saw bars everywhere... And your necklace." he says looking at her neck. "Where's your necklace?" he asks worried.
"I take it off at night. I can't stand it while sleeping" she explains. "Prison? Was PanStarrs' prison?"
"No, no, another one. It was smaller, like an actual jail" he tells, hyperactively moving his hands.
"Ok, ok, I got it" she says keeping his arms down. "Ok, we'll figure out what it means. Now calm down and go back to sleep". They're so deep in their conversation that they don't notice someone is spying them from the door Ariane left inadvertently open. A nun is looking inside and observing what's happening.
Some days pass, pretty quietly and still. Bruce can't forget what he saw but he's feeling a bit more relaxed. Ariane is still worried for him but seems everything stopped and went back to normalcy. Maybe he was just in a period of excessive stress and this caused a bit of confusion in his mind. One morning, they're strolling around the convent's walls, slowly walking and talking.
"How are you feeling now?" she asks.
"Fine. I'm doing fine. It sounds strange but it's true"
"Well, after those visions, or whatever they were... I was really scared. I couldn't understand what was going on"
"Yeah, I was worried too. But if you say you're fine..."
"Ok. Let's forget it. Did you think about when we should leave?"
"When we're ready. When we're rested enough to completely use our powers, when we can control our impulses and we feel ready to face him again"
"Yeah. That's a lot" she says, laughing a bit.
"Yeah" he laughs a bit too and looks around. They're near the main door and Bruce notices something on the wall, an arrow stuck between the stones of the wall. He wonders why a religious and so peaceful place should have faced a battle and while Ariane keeps walking, he stays there, observing and studying the arrow. After few steps, Ariane notices he stayed back and turns around. She looks at him, worried.
"Bruce... What are you doing?" she asks serious, scared of his answer. He looks at her.
"I never noticed this one" he says, pulling out the arrow from the wall.
"This one what?" she asks slowly.
"The arrow, this arrow" he says moving it in front of her. She looks at him, terribly frightened.
"What's up, kid? What's wrong?" he asks.
"Bruce, there isn't any arrow... I think those hallucinations haven't stopped yet". He looks at her confused. What is she saying? He's holding the arrow, how can't she see that?
"Bruce, look at me" she says. His pupils are really big, like when he has visions during the day, and he's sweating.
"You don't have anything in your hand... See" she says taking it. He looks again at his hand and he just sees hers holding it.
"How..." he mumbles, shocked. He looks up at her, who was looking at him, worried and sad.
"Girl... You're bleeding... Are you alright?". Her left sleeve is stained with red blood which continuously flows off. Or at least, this is what he sees.
"Man, I'm alright. I'm not wounded. You? Are you alright?" she asks always more scared. He stares at her bleeding arm then rubs his eyes with his hand.
"Yeah, I'm alright, I'm alright..." he keeps repeating.
"No, you're not." she says "you're delirious... You need help". He looks at her a bit hurt.
"I'm not crazy" he says "I'm... Confused"
"Bruce! Listen to me! I know you're not crazy"
"These hallucinations are driving me crazy... I can't perceive what is real and what isn't" he says, in a complaining tone.
"I can't fight with you in these conditions. You're not helping like this. We're both going to die. Damn you and the day this curse started!"
"I'm sorry..." he says, almost crying.
"Sorry? For what? What are you talking about? Bruce!". He looks down. "Bruce!". She raises up his head, he's not looking that good. "Come on Bruce, let's come back, get in" she says taking his hand and trying to drag him inside the convent. Suddenly he falls down with a terrible headache. She kneels down, trying to help him, calling him, touching his forehead. She can't understand what's happening, she's desperate and as he looks at her she can see his eyes are red as blood. He looks around but doesn't seem he's actually seeing what's around. In fact there's only one face he can see in front of him: PanStarrs'. He has terror in his eyes and tries to cover them, not to see him. But it's useless, he sees him anyway. Then a strong pain runs up his left arm, he holds it but nothing changes. In that desperate situation, Ariane puts a hand on his forehead and after some seconds his pain is eased a bit.
"Bruce! Are you awake? Come on, get up!" she says helping him and leaning him on her shoulders. They slowly move to the door, Ariane opens it with a gesture of her hand and closes it in the same way after they cross it. Slowly and staggering they reach his room and get in. A nun is observing them from behind a dark corner. She lays him on his bed.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, a bit" he answers with his eyes closed. "What did you do?"
"A risky move, I have to admit that". He looks at her. "I slowed down your cerebral activity. If those were hallucinations, they formed in your mind so I had to turn it off for a while". He looks a bit afraid at her.
"Yes, I know, it was risky, but I couldn't stand to see your pain anymore. I had to stop it in some way". The door's hinges slowly creak. Bruce and Ariane, with their nerves on edge, quickly turn around to see. A nun is getting in, it's the Mother Superior.
"We need to talk" she says.
"This is not a good moment" Ariane says.
"This is the perfect moment" she replies. "I saw you coming back and that's why we need to talk"
"Look, ok, we can talk but can you wait for a while? Please, Bruce doesn't feel perfectly..."
"Yes, the supernatural intervention..." she says, getting in. Evidently the other nun told her everything.
"You actually thought we didn't know who you were?" she carries on. Bruce and Ariane look surprised and Bruce slowly sits on his bed, touching Ariane's arm to make her sit there too.
"We perfectly knew you, what you did. Just like you came here, people who escaped from PanStarrs' kingdom, in search for a better reign, came here. And they talked. Talked about you, told everything". The magicians feel a bit out of place, they thought no one, at least there, knew about their terrible acts.
"Listen, probably it's different as it seems. We did terrible things, I know and we regret, but we didn't want to, we were forced"
"Forced or not, you did them but it's not on me to judge you. When you arrived here, you were in bad conditions and we were unsure if we should have welcomed you or not. The choice has been mine and we allowed you to stay. Your intentions seemed good, maybe you changed, or you were different". Bruce and Ariane listen to her with their eyes down. "But we surveiled you all this time, to be safe.", now they look surprised at her. "I got what you were trying to do so I decided to silently help you. My mother was pharmacologist and I know some things that can help you. I gave you a potion made of chamomile, to calm you down"
"We..." Ariane stutters "we didn't notice anything"
"Actually I think you did. You took a lot before using your powers and he doesn't take it really good". Ariane looks at him.
"You made this to him?!" she asks, shocked.
"I can't say what went wrong but I suspect it's related to the potion". Ariane thinks.
"His powers are so messed up, that's surely because of the potion, Mother" she says.
"Good. I guess you don't need it anymore" the nun says, going away.
"We need to go" says Bruce with a suffering voice. Ariane turns to him.
"We've been practically drugged all this time and my powers couldn't express themselves. I still can't get the whole meaning but as far as I see, is nothing good"
"You mean we..."
"Yes. We have to go"
"But are you feeling good?"
"I'm a bit aching but it will pass in little time as the effect of the potion vanishes"
"Bruce, I'm worried..."
"Yes, I know. Me too".
They prepare the little things they had, ready to go in a few hours.
"Where should we go?" Ariane asks.
"We know little and we don't know what he did in these weeks, but we know he planned to conquer various towns, we know the names of them"
"We should try all of them?"
"No, it would take too much. We should head to one he hasn't attacked yet and ally with them"
"Ok, but how do we know?"
"We don't. We can just guess. Surely he started with the ones near his reign. Therefore I would say Tempel is far enough. I don't think he reached it"
"And people may know us there"
"Yeah, without the latest news I hope". The evening they leave the convent. They don't have a horse so they should search for one along the road. Following the stars, they go at south, hoping to find at least a small town. After few days they reach one and with a little trick, they manage to get a horse.
"Perfect, we even became thieves now" she comments. But with a horse they can go faster. They ride the poor creature for days and adjusting their direction, because they don't know precisely where they are. For this reason it takes more than expected but riding night and day they reach Tempel in one week. As they're getting closer, they can see far at the horizon, the plain and hills where Villa was built. Observing with attention, they could see some remains of the towers. A deep sadness weighs on their heart. Passing there they remember how it all started and how they managed to get the right path.
"We're almost there" says Bruce, seeing the hills where he was born. She looks on the other side, to see if she can find the remains of her town, Lovejoy, but she sees nothing. They keep riding and in a few hours they find in front of them the shape of Tempel's castle.
"Is this the castle you saw?" Ariane asks seeing Bruce silently staring at it.
"Yes, perfectly that"
"Then, your hallucinations were visions?"
"Yeah, I think so"
"Everyone of them was one..." she reflects.
"The potion kind of made my clairvoyance fall asleep. I still had visions but my power wasn't enough strong, excited to cause an actual vision. Therefore, I could just see parts of them, here and there, in the sleep, during the day, just feelings, sounds or objects. But it prevents me to understand the meaning of them. I guess this view is the accomplishment of one of them". Few more kilometers and they're at the castle's doors. Everything seems normal that means probably they don't even know they're the target of a ferocious conquer. Bruce and Ariane have never been there though their towns where near, so they ride around searching for the main tower. They notice the flags in a big building and therefore they imagine that is what they were looking for. They get down the horse and get closer to the guards at the door.
"Excuse me, is the Queen here? Can we talk to her?" Bruce asks gently. The guard takes a look at them from head to feet and makes a disgusted expression, noticing their poor dresses.
"You? And who should you be?"
"Ahm... Well, we're Bruce and Ariane" he replies, after thinking a bit. The guard doesn't move a muscle.
"Those names should tell me something? The Queen doesn't talk to commoners"
"No, we're not..." Bruce starts but it's difficult to convince him. "We're Bruce and Ariane ********, Rectors of, the late, Villa". The guard seems to recall the name but unsure if he can trust them.
"Please, call her, we need to talk" Ariane asks. The guard calls another guard to exchange the place and asks the magicians to move back, as he enters the tower.
Few minutes later, they get the approval to enter the tower's hall. Queen Tethys is waiting for them on her throne. Bruce and Ariane slowly get in, knowing their appearances won't help them.
"So, you should be the Rectors?" she asks, suspicious.
"Yes... Madame" Bruce says.
"From the ******** family?"
"Yes, exactly!" replies Bruce. "I'm Bruce, she's Ariane"
"Can you demonstrate this?". Bruce and Ariane are a bit surprised, how can they?
"Look, we're here just to help..." says Bruce.
"We know very little of you, or better of the actual Rectors. We just got few information". Bruce and Ariane are puzzled.
"Your victory was so unexpected that people started to call them magicians"
"We are!" says Ariane, loudly. Bruce looks at her surprised, wishing she didn't reveal it.
"You are what?"
"Magicians..." Ariane says, softer. "We are the magicians" she tells, unsure.
"Why..." Bruce whispers to her.
"Ok, perfect, show me". Ariane looks around and notices some swords on the walls. She takes one, with telekinesis, then makes a little cut on her wrist and cures it. Bruce is still a bit unsure. The Queen is looking amazed.
"Bruce, this is the only way we can demonstrate who we are" she whispers at him. He decides to trust her, therefore puts the sword back and lights all the torches on the walls, without even looking at them.
"I heard magic was real but I never believed in it" the Queen says.
"You believe us now?" Bruce asks.
"Well, surely I trust you more than before. But you still have to explain a lot"
"Ok, we'll do that, no problem. But you have to listen to us"
"Have to?" she asks, somewhat offended. Bruce corrects.
"I'm sorry, I just..."
"Ok, I agree. But I have some questions: where have you been all this time? We thought you were dead". Bruce and Ariane look down.
"Moving around. We weren't at the castle when it got destroyed and when we came back it was too late. So we just moved around. And that's how we learned that..."
"You are the prince, right?" she interrupts him. He's surprised.
"Ahm, I'm not anymore since a lot of time"
"But who's she? The first time we heard about you, you flew away with a prisoner. I guess she is that one. We never understood your relationship and why you did such a crazy thing" the Queen says, observing her in a strange way.
"She's... my sister. And yeah, she got imprisoned". Ariane looks at him, approving everything he says.
"Why were you imprisoned if you were the princess?" Tethys asks her.
"It's a long story..." she replies.
"My... Our uncle was really a bad person" Bruce adds.
"Alright, I believe you. You got a good fame here. Your reign was going really good, it's a pity how it ended". Bruce and Ariane actually never heard how it was destroyed. "Some people here thought you didn't manage it right, and therefore everything and everyone, you included, burnt"
"Manage what?" Bruce asks, curious.
"The rebellion. And then one night we saw it lighting up with flames and it looked like a lighthouse in the sea. With the strong wind, the ashes arrived here too in a little time and it was so hot. And it just kept burning til it was completely destroyed, not even the rain could extinguish it. You weren't there so you don't know, but someone went around saying the citizens started the fire, though I don't get the reason". Bruce and Ariane look sadly at each other. Finally they know how it went.
After that conversation, Bruce and Ariane tell the Queen what they know about PanStarrs' plans, avoiding to reveal anything about their part in it. The Queen offers them new better-fitting clothes to their rank. Tempel's people welcome them and they're grateful for the help they're giving. Once they got there, Bruce starts having his visions again, proper visions and sees the battle is getting always closer. After two weeks, they wake up to find PanStarrs' camp siege few kilometers away from the enclosing walls. At least, it seems they arrived just in time. The morning, Ariane goes around the castle, searching for Bruce. She finds him in the library, writing with a feather in a big old book. She knocks and gets in.
"Hey, Bruce. What are you doing?" she asks first, surprised. He raises his look.
"Clairvoyant's stuff. I'm writing my visions, or I'll forget them"
"Aah..." she replies. He looks at her, knowing she came to ask something.
"Yeah?" he says.
"I was thinking..." she starts.
"Yes, I knew that"
"Really Bruce? It's not a case if you're the clairvoyant"
"No, no, this is just because I perfectly know you"
"Well" she says thoughtful, "in any case, we have PanStarrs' camp out there, but we don't know what he's planning or organizing. I was thinking we should try something to discover it"
"Try something?" he says suspicious.
"Yes, we learned various spells in those months, we could try someone of them"
"Ahm, I think I know what you mean... But that's a risk, we never tried it, we don't know how it works"
"But we can try it now"
"No, that's not a good move. It's been a bit of time ago and maybe we don't remember it right..."
"No, you won't do that"
"Why? We can't stay here and wait for him to attack! We know him, we should attack first or at least be prepared!"
"I know and I agree with you, but we should search another spell, not that one... We don't know enough, how it works..."
"Well, you can't say we did the other times"
"And yeah, it surely ended perfectly. No, we can't risk now". She looks a bit offended and angry.
"No and no" he repeats.
"But why do we always have to do what you say?"
"Because... I'm older" he smiles.
"Oh really, five years!"
"Still, I'm older"
"Yeah, but only on the papers..." she comments.
"Look girl, this is a serious and difficult battle, I can't let you get hurt in any way"
"Ok..." she says lowly, but not so resigned. He goes back to his work while Ariane roams around the library.
Few minutes later, he is searching for her. She went out a few time ago and hasn't come back yet. Then, Bruce goes out asking some servants there if they saw her. No one did, so he goes in her room. Knocks, no one answers, therefore he gets in. Near the table, he finds her red dress on the ground and her bracelet among the cloth. He takes it, worried and murmuring.
"Ariane... Damn, what did you do?". Now he doesn't know precisely what to do, if she made the spell, he can't do anything. He walks in the corridors, toward the library and still searching for her. Then he hears some soft footsteps behind him, he turns around just to see a white cat following him. It's a beautiful white cat with brown head and pawns, blue eyes staring at him. Bruce looks at it, a bit surprised but not so much, and looks around.
"Ah, here you are. The cat. What's your role in all this? Where did you come from?" he says. The cat, who stopped as he turned around, gets closer and rubs its back against his leg.
"Will you tell me where Ariane is? Did you see her? A beautiful girl, not so tall... Well I should say short, brown hair... Terribly headstrong" Bruce carries on picking up the meowing kitten. He takes a better look at his fur...
"No! I can't... I can't believe it..." he comments shocked. There's a little speckle over its left foot, a brown speckle. Looking it closer, Bruce can recognize the shape of their marks.
"Ariane! What did you do? Really?!" he says, trying not to shout at her, people will think he's crazy, shouting at a cat. She meows.
"See? What can we do now? And a cat, really?". She meows a bit more nervously.
"I can't understand what you're saying!" he says, annoyed and puts her down. He covers his face with his hands.
"Oh really... What can I do now?... How long will it last?" *meow* "what? Oh, really..."
The day goes on with relatively calm. PanStarrs doesn't attack and Bruce takes the cat wherever he goes. He tied the bracelet to her neck because it's better she doesn't go around without it. He has to invent Ariane is feeling sick and he found the cat roaming around the castle, for curious people who ask. He doesn't want to let her go around alone, she's just a cat, she can't react properly. And he won't let her do what she was thinking, going around the camp siege, undercover, to collect information. He just waits for the spell to finish its effect. So, the first day passes. The next morning, he's still sleeping in his bed, on one side, when Ariane jumps in and starts rubbing against his arm, trying to get under it with her head.
"Kitty, really..." Bruce murmurs, half asleep. The cat doesn't stop and starts patting his nose with her paw, slowly.
"Aah, wait five more minutes, ok?" Bruce says. Ariane keeps touching his nose and he can't help to smile a bit. But he doesn't move, he doesn't get up, so she starts licking all his face.
"Oh, really? Ariane! Stop licking my face!" he finally opens his eyes, she looks at him, licking her whiskers.
"Mm, are you hungry?" he says, rubbing his eyes. "What do you want?". The cat is not satisfied yet so she quickly gets under the blankets.
"Cat!!" he shouts. "Really? Get out of there! Ca... Ariane!". Ariane puts her head out and looks at him with her blue eyes.
"I can't call you Ariane..." he adds. She meows. "When will you return to your human form? I miss my little sister". She meows and gets to his nose, patting it again.
"Ok, ok, I'll get up! Or you won't leave me in peace" he says. He stretches to take his shirt from the chair next to the bed when an extreme meowing and a hit is heard. Bruce looks back.
"Kitty? Where have you..." he says looking down the bed. She's on the ground with her belly up: she rolled down the blanket and fell down.
"I can't..." Bruce says, covering his face with exasperation. *meow*
After breakfast, Bruce goes up the walls to check the situation, always with the cat on his arms. The Queen is there too and looks at him in a strange way.
"How is your sister?" she asks.
"A... Little better, thank you" he says, pretending a smile.
"You can also leave that cat somewhere"
"Aah... No, well, I love cats" he says, she starts meowing furiously. "Hey, Kitty, calm down..." he whispers, rubbing her head and smiling at the Queen.
"They're getting closer" she says, referring to the troops. "I don't know when they're going to attack but surely they will do that soon". Bruce swallows looking down the plain and thinking at the bad situation they are in. Ariane looks at him and meows. He looks down.
"No, I won't leave you go there..." he whispers. The Queen looks interrogative at him. He sighs.
"I can't with this anymore..." he comments. Ariane keeps meowing, like she's trying to convince him like when she does it in her human form.
"This what?" Tethys asks. Bruce doesn't know if he should tell her or not, but Ariane is insisting so much he has to answer.
"No, Kitty, no!". Now the Queen is really confused.
"I can explain" he says. "This cat is not just a normal cat... This is Ariane" he says slowly.
"What?!" the Queen asks, incredulous. "Are you telling me you're going to fight with a cat? You're delirious! This is going to kill us all". Bruce takes a deep breath, recognizing the words.
"No, no, listen... She's usually not a cat. She just wanted to try a spell to get some information, but I don't know why she became a cat" he explains nervously, she meows. The Queen looks even more worried.
"And? How long will it last? Can't you invert it?"
"I don't know..." he says. "Stop meowing, cat! Don't be so nervous!"
"You're talk... You're talking with a cat..." the Queen says, exasperated.
"We, we have a special bond..."
"Ok, whatever bond you have, whatever sister you have, her plan was to get information: can't we just follow it?". Ariane meows.
"No, it's too dangerous, I won't let her..."
"Seriously, man? A whole castle is in danger, thousands of people may die, and you care more about your sister's life?" the Queen says.
Bruce wouldn't let her go for any reason but the Queen is really insisting on him, reproaching him he cares more for a single life than for thousands and he should be less selfish. She also adds that, being her the Queen, she will do whatever is in her power to save her castle, including sacrificing his cat. If he wants to help, good, otherwise she will act on her own. Bruce is somewhat forced to let her go, at least he can hope she will success and maybe help her in some way. He goes down the walls, at the main gate, and puts her down. She's meowing and rubbing against his legs.
"Ok... You know I wouldn't let you go... Next time, you should listen to me." he tells her, kneeling down. "Be careful, ok? I'll follow you from here. Don't get into troubles, do what you can but don't force it. And beware of the dogs" he adds, looking at the camp. She meows, standing with her feet on his knees.
"I will be happy to see you again here and safe". Then he pats her head and gives her a little push to go outside the castle. She slowly moves and Bruce, sighing, goes up in the main tower, looking outside the window, from where he can see the whole plain in front of him. In his mind, he's following Ariane's path. He's focused looking outside when the Queen reaches him.
"Did she go?"
"Yes" Bruce replies, cold, without losing concentration.
"And what are you doing now?"
"I'm tracing her". The Queen doesn't understand. "I told you we have a special bond" Bruce remarks, a bit annoyed, "I can see where she is"
"Just looking outside?"
"I'm not looking outside, I'm looking through her eyes". Ariane is finally getting closer to the camp, after few minutes in the plain. She looks around, hoping soldiers won't notice her or won't find strange a cat in the camp. She arrives at the first tent, some soldiers are sharpening their swords. Some others are practicing in front of her. She tries to stay in the border and near the tents.
"Where is she now?"
"She got in, she's walking inside the camp now". She can see a lot of soldiers, knights and swordsmen, archers and pikesmen. She walks around cautiously, she hears the sound of swords and yells from soldiers. There's a really bad smell, a mixture of alcohol and pitch. Horses are neighing furiously on one side. But except that, everything seems calm.
"There are few battering-rams, and catapults". Ariane keeps walking, it seems this camp never ends and the smoke of fires doesn't allow her to see well. She's near a tent when suddenly from there a knight with a heavy armor gets out of it and almost invests her. She meows and jumps back with fear, Bruce starts too. Ariane takes a better look and carries on. Looks inside the tents, there are even more people there, some are resting, some are getting drunk and some others are organizing the attack.
"I can see few archers, practicing with their arrows...". Ariane keeps going, searching for every useful thing. Some people are mounting something with wood, it looks like...
"... A trebuchet...". She can see some people feeling very ill in some tents, surely they weren't caring that much about hygiene.
"Come back, come back..." Bruce softly whispers. But obviously she can't hear him. Weapons are everywhere, maces, flails, morning stars... Those are the ones she is more afraid of. She gets to a bigger tent, at the end of the camp. She slowly gets closer, looks inside: he's there, PanStarrs, the witch. Somehow she felt he was there and was searching for him. She puts her head inside the tent and listens, Bruce gets anxious, few kilometers away from there. While she's there she has the impression he saw her and is looking at her. At least, she's a cat now and he can't recognize her. But she feels uncomfortable and in danger so she decides to move back. She's coming back when a horse, got rid of his ropes, runs through the camp and hits her, pushing her against a stone on the ground. She meows in pain, Bruce gets a terribly cold shiver.
"Damn it! Damn it!" he yells, getting away from the window.
"What? What happened?" Tethys asks, but Bruce doesn't answer, he just gets down from there. Ariane tries to get up, even with a bleeding foot, and slowly starts walking again, a bit limping. She has a long path to walk but she has and wants to do that. She goes slow and looking around, a bit aching but with all the will to get back safe.
Bruce is in the corridor of the tower, going back and forth anxiously. He sees she's coming back slowly but he can't recognize the place. He leans on a window, covering his face.
"Where are you? Where are you?" he whispers. He looks out, everything seems quiet but it's just the calm before the storm. He checks again what she sees and he sees himself, at the window. He quickly turns around and finds Ariane, getting closer behind him, with a bleeding foot.
"Ariane! You're here!" he says, surprised and relieved. "You're bleeding... Come here, I'll take you" he says going to her and kneeling down to pick her. She looks tired and exhausted.
"Poor Kitty... Are you ok? Meow for yes" he says rubbing her head. He's leaning her on his shoulder when she unexpectedly comes back to her human form, falling over him. He manages to grab her at the back without falling, though she's surely heavier than the kitty he expected. As she falls with her arms around his neck, he sees her wound and the bleeding arm.
"Hey, hey... Ok, I got you, girl. This doesn't look that bad. Oh, wait...". He wraps her with his huge cloak.
"Hey, Ariane, look at me..." he says, raising her head to him. She's very weak but still awake and looking at him.
"Bruce..." she murmurs softly.
"Ok, it's ok, you're human at least". She leans down on his shoulder again. After few minutes, she wakes up again and finds herself laying under the blankets of Bruce's bed, with him wrapping her wound, sitting next to her in the chair. She looks around disoriented.
"This... This is your room?" she says still a bit tired.
"Yes" he replies.
"Ah, it looks different from this perspective"
"Yeah, I guess it looks smaller" he smiles. "I didn't drug you or did anything strange" he says, jokingly, seen her confused stare.
"Ye... Yes, I know" she says, still looking around, then looks at her arm.
"It's not that bad. When you'll be strong enough you'll be able to heal it easily" Bruce tells her.
"How are you feeling? You seem a bit confused"
"Yes, I am. The last period has been weird enough"
"Yeah, I can relate. Will you still wake me up licking my face and hiding under the blankets?" he asks playfully.
"Oh, no, I wouldn't ever do that. Those were cat's instincts"
"Ok, your arm is perfect for now. Can you tell me what you saw in there? You still remember?"
"Yeah, I remember everything perfectly" she says, pulling up the blankets and sitting in the bed. "I remember everything I saw. There are a lot of soldiers and weapons, machines and other but they looked still. I don't know why, it seemed they're waiting, maybe for someone else to join them"
"It's not good if it's true"
"No, not at all. I even saw him, in a tent, but I didn't manage to get more because I think he saw me. I'm sorry"
"Sorry for what? You risked your life for it!"
"Yes, but seen that I was there..."
"Ah! Tell me: why a cat? I would have seen better a bird, an eagle maybe"
"Yeah, that's what I thought too..." she says, looking down.
"...I think I misspelled the word" she says after a deep breath.
"You mis... You misspelled the word? Haha!!" Bruce says a bit surprised and then starts laughing.
"Yeah... Don't laugh at me, Bruce"
"Haha, I'm not laughing at you... Haha" he replies, taking a break from the laughter.
"Bruce, can you take me my dress?"
"Ah, yeah! Right" he says getting up. "You take a bath in the meantime, you don't smell that good". She makes a kind of smile.
"Yeah, I guess so". Then he gets out to go to her room.
The next day, at very early morning, Ariane gets woken up really violently.
"Ariane! Ariane! Wake up! We have to go! They're attacking!". Bruce is shaking her nervously while she looks at him confused and blinking at him.
"Bruce, Bruce, I got that, stop now, I'm awake!"
"Oh, ok, good, let's go" he says pulling her out of bed and throwing her dress at her. After one day, she could heal up completely.
They reach the front gate and go up the tower. They look down: an ocean of soldiers is coming toward them. They look at them, astonished.
"They're too many..." she says.
"Maybe you were right, they were waiting for mercenaries"
"All that people wouldn't be even needed to conquer this castle..."
"We're almost screwed... This is going to be tough" Bruce finishes. The troops are some few kilometers away and getting closer. On the walls, archers and crossbowmen are getting ready, behind the battlements of the towers and walls. At the extreme towers, some sappers are loading their balistas. Bruce and Ariane can't see where the Queen is but it's evident she's giving the orders. In the soft light of the dawn, with a confused noise of armours, the fuzzy shapes of catapults and trebuchets are visible, not so far. It's needed they come closer to attack. It doesn't take much time, but those minutes of apparent calm, with everyone staring fixedly on the besieging troops look like an eternity. Bruce and Ariane look at them and at the whole plain, covered with armed people. After few minutes, an arrow reaches the upper part of the tower, getting stuck in the battlements in front of Bruce. He takes it and sadly shows it to Ariane. They both know what he means. In a little time, arrows start flying everywhere, especially from the top of the walls. The troops are now really near: it's battle time. The magicians hide behind the battlements to act better, while arrows fly near their heads. The first lines of the enemy's army are down the walls of the castle, therefore this is the best time to act. Ariane unties the wooden trunks up in the walls and they fall down, smashing some of them, pikesmen and archers. But they are a lot. Some people fall under the arrows of Tempel's archers and crossbowmen. Sappers throw pitch down the walls, Bruce facilitates their work igniting fire on it. An arrow starts from a balista killing tens of lancers down there. Bruce and Ariane push back the soldiers in the middle of the troop. Horses and knights with heavy armours fall down, causing confusion in the army. Like a strong wind, they try to push down their war machinery. Then, a strong hit followed by the intense roar of air movement. The whole wall trembles a bit.
"The catapults, are coming!" Ariane has to scream to Bruce, looking shocked at the piece of wall behind him, crumbling down like a house of cards, under the rocks of the catapults. Roars keep following the first one and strong crashes like violent thunders come after the roars.
"Bruce! That one! It's getting too close!!" Ariane yells, referring to a trebuchet near the Eastern tower. Bruce and Ariane focus on that one when it throws a huge stone that hits something inside the castle. The sound of its rope cleaving the air and after an instant it gets down under Bruce and Ariane powers. One second before and they could have avoided the launch. The trebuchet falls down into pieces over PanStarrs's army, killing a lot of people but not enough. Screams can be heard everywhere, or just yells of war. People is getting burnt by lighted pitch, Bruce and Ariane keep doing what they can at that distance, pulling down machines over soldiers or starting fires in the middle of the army. Arrows keep reaching every corner of the walls, rocks hit it and the soldiers seem to be an infinity in front of them. Scaling ladders are put on the walls with some soldiers managing to reach the top. Bruce overthrows them with people on them but some of them are on the walls. They get killed in a little time by archers with their knives. Ariane grabs a crossbow and kills some of them. Then, a violent crash shakes the Gate Tower, the one where Bruce and Ariane are. Other shakes, periodic shakes, follow the first one. Bruce looks down, holding to the walls not to fall down. The shakes are really strong.
"It's a battering ram! They're trying to tear down the gate!" he says. Hardly managing to stay on their feet, they reach the border of the battlements and together give fire to the ram. It's covered with fireproof substances but their fire is stronger and it gets fire. A high orange flame stretches up in front of the gate, they have to move back to avoid it. An unbearable heat comes from it. As a rock hits the wall beside and tears down a huge block, Bruce grabs Ariane's arm to bring her away.
"We can't stay here! It's too hot! We have to move back!" he yells. She hardly hears him but nods. They're moving to the other side of the wall when Ariane sees something behind the high flame of the gate. She stops Bruce holding his arm and looks worried behind him.
"It's a... It's a belfry" she says almost incredulous. Bruce turns around.
"They will be on the walls in no time with that and then inside the castle!" she says. Bruce pushes her away from the tower, hiding behind the battlements. Once they reach a better position, he stops her and together set fire to the belfry. It burns like a lighthouse near the walls of the castle. The breach in the walls is getting bigger and bigger but behind them they can hear the metallic sound of swords. They turn around: some swordsmen and lancers got up the walls. Bruce grabs his sword without even thinking and pushes Ariane behind him. Archers are shooting next to them and while Ariane keeps pushing down the soldiers from the wall, Bruce fights the swordsmen, though they have an armour and he doesn't. A strong blow is heard as the gate gets torn down. Ariane looks down at the plain: the heavy armored and knight with horse are getting in, but at least she can see again the grass on the ground, that means soldiers are running out of numbers. But she doesn't know for how long the castle will resist and if they can actually resist and fight back. Bruce grabs her and turns her to him, interrupting the flow of her thoughts. He takes her hand and puts there a sword he got from one of the warriors he killed.
"You know how to use it, use it now!" he says, because soldiers on the wall are getting more, they come in from the tower at the East corner. At the inside, subjects are running frightened to the nearer shelter they can find. Some buildings get damaged by the stones of the trebuchets and knights are running fast through the streets, killing people or just squeezing them under their horses' feet. Pikesmen and swordsmen face each other while men with morning stars and flails destroy whatever they find. Bruce and Ariane still fight on the top of the walls, using their swords or using their powers, throwing down the wall soldiers in a puddle of blood. They're good enough to slow down the number of soldiers who gets to pass there without a wound. Bruce is fighting near the Gate Tower they previously left while Ariane fight near the East Tower. The whole corridor of the wall is full with enemy's soldiers, pushing down the archers with burning arrows. The battle is so tough and tight they don't even notice when is PanStarrs in person to cross the door of the East tower.
"Hello, kitty" he says to Ariane who was practically next to him. She turns around scared, recognizing his voice and the meaning of that nickname.
"I always knew it was you" he adds. She's so shocked at that view that she soften her grip on her sword and a hit from behind makes her lose it, as the sword falls down the walls. She tries to move back and searches for something that can be useful. He gets close to her, because she can't find a place to pass through without getting a sword in the stomach.
"Really? Are you afraid of me? I see finally you learned that lesson". She doesn't reply, she just points her hand to him, looking at him menacingly. But somehow her powers don't get the expected result.
"A-ah, you're not the only one good with spells, kid" he tells. She tries to focus more and act stronger but it doesn't work, he just reaches her. She tries to run away but he grabs her by the shoulders. She screams and tries to escape his grip but he's physically stronger than her.
"No, you won't escape this time too" he says. He blocks her and then throws her down the wall. The height in correspondence of the tower is not much, therefore she falls down, getting some bad injuries and fainting but still alive. Bruce suddenly hears her scream and feels her fear and pain, that were previously hidden by his concentration on the battle. He looks down and sees her laying there, unconscious and covered in blood. He desperately shouts her name, but no one probably hears him. Looking in front of him he can see the witch, looking straight at him. With all the anger he has, Bruce fights those soldiers between him and the witch, finally getting in front of him, where he was waiting for him.
"You just have to hope she's not dead or I swear..."
"You swear what? You will kill me? You can't do anything without her, we both know that". Bruce attacks him with his sword, he's very good at it though shorter than him, but probably this characteristic helps him. But then it's PanStarrs who uses his power on him. Bruce can't use his, confused he sees they don't make any effect on him and he has to kneel down in pain. PanStarrs grabs his left wrist and tightens his grip, forcing Bruce to leave his sword because of the pain in his hand.
"You played a bad game on me time ago. I showed you who you really are but for my own sake, you forgot it. Now I'll show you who I really am and I'll play a bad game on you". After saying this to an aching Bruce, staring at him with hate, he turns his arm violently out of normal limits, breaking it. Bruce screams, terribly in pain, and lays down on the floor. But for the witch is not enough and so he catches him and pulls him down too, down the wall. He falls next to Ariane, fainting, in the middle of the confusion of the battle, around them.
It's late evening when they wake up again, but they can't know that because they can't see the sky. Bruce wakes up suddenly, like after a nightmare, when he hears the noise of keys. He sits on the ground: he is in a cell, the dusty cell of his hallucination, and he can see the shadow of someone going away from there. Probably someone just went to control them. He already knows what he'll see but he looks at his right: Ariane's necklace is on the ground, covered with dust and earth. Holding up his broken arm and with blood all over him, though aching, he closes to the bars to see better on the other side. It's another cell, identical to his, with a wall in common. He grabs the bars with his other hand and looks inside. He can see Ariane laying in the shadow of the cell.
"Ariane! Ariane! Please, answer! Tell me you're ok!" he says, lowly. He can't see her well but he sees she's moving so at least she's not dead. He calls her a bit more and finally she wakes up. She gets up and looks around. The place is all dark and cold. She can see Bruce near the bars, where a ray of light passes through the stones of the wall. He doesn't look that good so she gets closer. He looks surprised at her when he sees she's not wounded, she just has some blood on her forehead, but she healed herself while unconscious.
"Bruce, what happened to you?"
"Never mind, girl" he says, still astonished. "We have to get out of here". She stretches her hand through the bars to reach him and cure him but he moves back and holds her hand.
"No, don't do that. Remember what I told you?"
"Yes, perfectly. But I feel good, I can do that"
"How can you feel good? You fell down the wall!"
"Yeah, I know" she says thoughtful, looking down. "But somehow I don't have any wound or injuries, I'm just a bit aching"
"I saw you, you were covered in blood!" Bruce says, a bit shocked. "I thought you were dead..."
"No... Well, I'm not. And I can cure you, just let me do that. Believe me". She seems very sure and his pain is really a lot so he leaves her hand and a bit regretful, he lets her heal him.
"Now you look definitely better" she says smiling, after the cure. "He broke your arm?"
"That was your vision..."
"Yeah. Nothing compared to reality though" he comments. They look around for some way to escape when someone gets down the stairs to reach the jails. A shadow in the wall and then the witch appears in front of them. They don't know if they should be scared or he should be, because they're together now.
"Good evening" he says, a bit disconcerted. "You woke up... How can it be possible you're not injured?!?" he asks, moving his eyes between the two of them. They don't reveal a word.
"How can it be possible??!" he shouts.
"You won't go anywhere anymore. You finished killing people" Bruce says, calmly.
"Haha, wow, not that's crazy. Look who speaks! The one locked in a jail! How can you be so sure? You can't even get out of there". Bruce looks at him with a cunning smile and his stare reveals he knows more than what he tells.
"You two are really getting on my nerves! What are you hiding? Didn't you have enough?!". Ariane looks at Bruce but sees he's perfectly sure of himself. But PanStarrs is losing his patience.
"You know what? This castle is mine now. I control it. You failed and you're my prisoners again. But this time you won't be part of my plan, you'll wish you were. You'll just be my daily entertainment. When I saw you at my tent, I got you both were here and therefore the siege should have been a strong one. Lots of my people got killed but I got a castle and you two. That's a positive ending to me". As he finishes, he takes the keys and unlocks Ariane's cells. Actually she's a bit scared, also because she knows their powers are useless on him. Bruce stares fixedly at him and a bit worried, his visions don't help him now. The witch gets inside the cells and taking her arm, he drags her out, while she screams and tries to get free. Bruce agitates, like an animal does in its cage.
"Let's start with you!" PanStarrs says to her, pushing her against the wall. "How can you be so fine? You were almost dead!!" he screams at her. He holds her back to the stone wall and sometimes pushes her against it again. She turns her head on one side to avoid his face.
"Talk! Or I swear you won't get alive to tomorrow! Even if I would regret the future lack of fun! Do you remember the fun we had last time? Or should I remind you?" he menacingly whispers the last part in her ear. She closes her eyes, as it was useful not to hear his voice.
"Hey! Leave her! Don't even touch her! Leave her I told you! You hear me?!" Bruce yells at him, holding the bars of the cage. The witch turns to give him a disgusted stare and then completely ignores him. But Bruce is probably more pissed than him and even if they didn't work before, he puts his arm out the cell and uses his powers on him. To his surprise and PanStarrs', he has to leave Ariane and move back, holding his chest. Ariane looks astonished at the scene.
"The spell.... It's over" she says. He raises his look at her and knowing he's in danger, he pulls Ariane again inside the cell, closes it and runs away in no time.
"What spell?" Bruce asks.
"The spell... He made a spell, that's why our powers didn't work on him. But it's over now" she tells, kind of excited. Bruce looks around thoughtful.
"And what about you?", he looks at her surprised, "why were you so sure? Are you hiding something?" she asks, suspiciously looking at him.
"Me? No, absolutely. I just wanted to confuse him" he says, pretending an innocent expression and still searching something around.
"Ah... What the hell are you looking for?!"
"Nothing in particular, just a way out". Ariane tries to hold the bars and pull but they're actually too thick, they can't break them.
"The floor is made of stones, we can't dig" reflects Bruce on his own.
"How can we get out then?"
"I don't know, but there should be a way". Ariane still stares at him, she feels he's hiding something in his self-confidence. They don't find any exit and they're starting to think they will spend the night there when soft shakes make the walls tremble. The shakes become slowly stronger, while Bruce and Ariane look around, puzzled.
"What's this? Is this you?" Ariane asks.
"No... How could I?" he replies surprised.
"Well, I don't know... But an earthquake? In England?"
"Yeah, it's rare... But I don't know...". Some dust falls from the ceiling of the cells and they look up, a bit worried.
"Will it resist?" Ariane asks, worried. She just says it and the strength of the shakes increases and some stones fall from there. They try to refuge in the side of the cells that seem more stable, next the gratin, and cover their heads.
"This is coming down, Bruce!" she shouts. He takes a look up: she's right, the ceiling is getting down, but not only there but outside too. The walls are collapsing under the push of the earthquake.
"This can't be natural!" Bruce shouts. "It's surely the effect of some spell!"
"Yeah, probably! We need to get out of here! Not only because we'll end up dead, but because we have to stop him!". The whole place is shaking, moving would be a risk therefore they stay there. And after some instants the ceiling gets down in pieces over them, the gratins on two sides get knocked down and they stay blocked under it. After few minutes, the earthquake stops.
Few minutes later, Ariane starts to wake up. She's stuck under the gratin which divided the cells and the frontal one fell over it. As she opens her eyes, she sees Bruce laying unconscious on the other side of the gratin, covered with the frontal gratin of his cell. She can hardly move her arm and head, everything around is covered with dust. She inserts the arm between the bars and reaches Bruce.
"Bruce, Bruce! Wake up!" she says, shaking him by the shoulder. He opens his eyes and looks around.
"Are you ok?" he asks.
"Yes, and you?". He nods, trying to get up, but he's stuck under the gratin. With some efforts, he pushes it back, against the stones in the corridor. A cloud of dust comes from it. He can now get up, sweeping away the dust from his hair. He looks around.
"A good part of the ceiling came down, the corridor is almost completely closed but we can pass through it" he says, while he stands up to pull away the gratins from over her. Then he offers her his hand and helps her getting up.
"Beware of where you put your feet" he warns her, referring to the sharp stones on the ground. Then he leads her toward the corridor, now more narrow and difficult to pass than before. He gets inside the little tunnel that formed, walking on one side, rubbing both back and chest against the walls.
"Come this way, if I pass you can do too" he tells, taking her inside, holding her hand. It's completely dark inside but at least there's only one way: ahead. Even if with some difficulties, with their feet getting stuck between the walls, they manage to pass and get out the prison. There's still some light in the sky because of noctilucent clouds, but it's night now. The castle is a bit damaged by the earthquake, it hit more the underground buildings than the surface. The damages from the battle are way more. No one is on the streets, except some soldiers as watchers and some sleeping knights. The corpses of the victims are still on the ground. Bruce is the first to have a look out, and this view saddens him. They stay hidden behind a corner not to be seen.
"We have to find PanStarrs" Bruce whispers, cautiously looking around.
"Bruce, Bruce, wait. I can't understand... Stop a minute" she says holding back his arm.
"What? Why?" he says confused.
"You're going like a fury... Take a breath and explain me"
"We don't have time, that's why I'm going like a fury..." he replies with an obvious tone.
"No, I know you. You're avoiding something. You're avoiding to talk"
"No, I'm avoiding..."
"Bruce..." she interrupts him, looking at him serious.
"Ok, ok, you're right. But that doesn't mean that I will explain you" he says dragging her a bit. She resists and drags him back.
"No, ok? Just, whatever thing happens, trust me, ok?"
"This scares me..."
"Trust me, ok?"
Where could he be? The main tower, is the more reasonable possibility. They don't know anything of what happened after they fainted, they don't even know if the Queen is still alive and imprisoned somewhere. Carefully, they move among the ruins of the castle, avoiding watchers' surveillance. They reach it and slowly take a look inside, not knowing what to expect. They can't hear the voices but surprisingly they find PanStarrs and the Queen, tied up to her throne, talking. She keeps her royal attitude but surely she's not enjoying the interview. Knowing him, he's not satisfied with the conquer of the castle and still searches for useful information about the neighbouring reigns. He has his back towards them and goes back and forth, making gestures. But it seems he had enough and got tired of his little game. With a gesture of his hand, he cuts her throat and dark blood splashes everywhere. Bruce and Ariane witness the scene, caught in surprise by the quick and unexpected move. They feel a bit guilty because they couldn't avoid it, even if Bruce was still mad at her because of how she threatened him.
"Come here, or you wanna stay there all night?" PanStarrs tells them, who were still staring astonished at the whole scene. Ariane moves back behind the wall and drags Bruce with her.
"He was talking with us?" she says, staring at Bruce in the eyes.
"Yeah, he was. And we should go" he says, a bit playfully, to her.
"Come on you two..." the witch repeats. Bruce tightens his grip on Ariane's hand and then they both enter the hall. They walk slowly and reach the center of the room.
"We see again, honey" he says, talking to Ariane. "Now I know your secret, Clairvoyant" he says to Bruce. "You couldn't hide it from your host"
"Yeah. Therefore now you know I can't be wrong" Bruce says, with a proud air.
"I will show you how it's possible to change the future. What you saw it's not what will happen". After he said this, he quickly acts dividing the two of them and pushing them at the opposite sides of the room. They didn't expect such a rapid attack and not even these powers. This is what he was doing then: evoking some stronger powers to fight them. It'll be more difficult for them but he can get crazy if he manages them wrong. Both the magicians fall on the ground after hitting the wall and PanStarrs, maleficent, laughs at them. Bruce gets up soon and replies pushing him back, against a little column behind him. There was a bowl on it with pitch for ceremonies. When they all fall, Bruce lights it up but the witch manages to avoid the fire. Ariane takes some swords from the walls and contemporarily throws them at him, but he manages to block them in the air and throw them back. Bruce blocks him, focusing all his powers on him, with closed eyes. The witch can't move but laughs at the same time. Ariane adds her powers to Bruce's and the witch starts bleeding from his eyes. But it doesn't end as they wished. The powers he evoked actually drive him crazy and all this power allows him to resist them and the pain he feels, gets back to them. They have to give up and stop, falling with their knees on the ground. The witch, even more scaring with bleeding eyes, laughs loud and closes the heavy door at the entrance, crashing it with a strong shake. Then the torches on the walls light up.
"You're absolutely useless. You're holding down your own nature, even when it's about your own survival. Where are the scary killers I wanted, eh? Where are the blood-thirsty, guilt-free executioners that I brought out of you?". Ariane looks at Bruce, who's getting up, not surprised of the way things are going. He takes a deep breath and starts again, with his hand up, but PanStarrs is laughing at him. Bruce opens his eyes surprised and stares at him: isn't he doing enough? Is there no other choice? Ariane is getting up to help him but the witch pulls her down again. Then, with his hand towards her, he starts torturing her, holding her breath. She kneels down, holding her throat, trying to breathe, while the witch tightens his grip and releases it at times, to make her breathe and not kill her soon. Bruce, getting mad and worried, keeps acting on him with all the power he can find, but somehow trying to keep it back. And that's not working. The witch doesn't get any effect of Bruce's power but keeps holding Ariane's breath. She lays down, suffocating, desperately trying to breathe.
"Oh, come on! Not even your other half's death can move you! Come on! Show me who you are!!" PanStarrs yells. Bruce tries to stay calm, focus, but Ariane's complaints are irritating and distracting him. He can't stand this, he can't let her die... The witch is looking at him, laughing, waiting for his fall, and every minute is precious for Ariane's life. He can't wait more, he needs to do something, and very soon. Giving up? Surrendering to his dark side to save her? And himself in turn? Just the thought of coming back to what he became, makes him remember all the things that happened. That feeling is not erased at all, he can still perfectly feel it, not even so deep in his soul. That feeling freezes his blood and gives him shivers. Ariane can feel his condition and she's not doing any better, because her pain just increases her dark tendencies and she's shaking even if she's fighting to breathe. Bruce looks at her and she looks at him. They don't talk but his look is pretty clear: 'we have to do this, trust me and don't keep it back anymore'. After this, Bruce focuses all his anger against the witch with increasing power, increasing, increasing, increasing... His eyes turn red and he starts breaking every single bone of him. PanStarrs finally stops laughing though he stares at him with a proud look. Ariane is still prisoner of his grip but this is going to end soon. The cracking noise of his bones breaking echoes in the empty room and Bruce coldly stares at him, but with anger in his eyes, more terrible than how the witch ever looked. Ariane gets free and can finally breathe correctly. She takes some instants to catch her breath, and then without wasting time in getting up, she points her hand to the witch and starts cutting his skin and ripping it off. Then she gets up, with red eyes, and fixes at PanStarrs, finally getting the revenge they wanted. He screams in pain, blood is flowing down from every part of his body while he falls down because his broken bones can't keep him standing anymore. Blood is everywhere on the floor and that sight has never been so delicious as now, to Bruce and Ariane. This is what they wanted, and they got it now. He was so eagerly of creating a new kind of monster and he dies because of his craziness and his desperate will to see his plans fulfilled. He dies killed by the monsters he created. His corpse is laying on the floor in a puddle of blood and is not even recognizable as a human body. After his death, Bruce and Ariane get back to their common attitude, though perfectly conscious of what they did and felt and not regretting their choice. They accepted what they are and wouldn't refuse it for any reason. They keep looking at his remains on the ground, then Ariane looks at Bruce. A bit confused, she reaches him, he puts his arms around her back. They look at each other with their red eyes, then this colour slowly vanishes. Ariane caresses his cheek and lips, unsure if everything is real or just her confused mind, after what happened. Tired and exhausted, they slowly lose senses and fall down together on the ground.
Sunlight is beating on her face when she wakes up the next morning. She opens her eyes and sees a precious, beautiful huge room, with decorations and paintings everywhere in the walls and ceiling. She's laying under the blankets of a bed, Bruce is still sleeping next to her. Bed is wide but they stay close to each other and use just a little part of it. She remembers perfectly what happened the night before but she's still a bit confused. She throws a hand to wake up Bruce but she, unfortunately for him, hits him in the stomach. He wakes up, murmuring some curses.
"Where are we?" she asks.
"I don't know" he says taking a quick look around and still aching by her hit.
"This room is beautiful, maybe it's the Queen's room"
"Was the Queen's room, she's dead..." he precises.
"And by the way, I preferred the cat's awakening style..." he complains. She looks at him with an offended stare. She takes his line to make fun of him and meows at him, while getting closer to him and crossing their legs under the blankets. Then she starts giving him little kisses all over his cheek. He, surprised, takes a deep breath.
"Ok, I beg your pardon madamoiselle... I surely prefer yours. Keep going like this every morning" he says smiling. She laughs and then leans her head on him.
"So, it's over?" she asks.
"Yeah, it's over, my girl"
"Wow, I can't believe it... What we did last night..."
"Yeah, I know... But it was needed"
"Your eyes turned red..." she says, a bit scared, playing with the lace trim of his dress.
"Yeah, yours too. I don't know if it ever happened before, but I guess it's been our worst job, or best, depending on the point of view...". She thinks a bit and then asks:
"Who took us here? I mean, you remember?"
"No, I guess I fainted like you. I don't have any clue, but I hope that whoever did that, also cleaned the blood from the floor". She raises her look to him, leaning with her chin on his shoulder.
"It was too early?" asks Bruce. She nods, smiling.
"Ah, and now, tell me: what were you hiding yesterday? What was that you didn't want to tell me?"
"Nothing" he replies.
"Come on, Bruce, you can talk now. How were you so sure? You had a vision that you didn't tell me?". He looks down.
"Well, yeah... I didn't see a lot but enough to understand what would have happened"
"You knew about us surrendering to the dark side??" she says a bit surprised.
"Yeah" he says, looking at her.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't want to scare you or make you get worried. I tried to avoid it 'til it was possible. But it wasn't. My visions have always been accomplished"
"What should we do now? I mean, where are we going? You know more than me about this?"
"No, I don't know, I haven't foreseen anything else. Can we just enjoy this moment?". She smiles.
"Ok", she leans her head again. "Ah, I would stay like this forever...". She has just finished saying this when someone knocks at the door. Bruce and Ariane are so surprised and busy moving back and uncrossing their legs, they don't even answer. Therefore, whoever was, gets in. It's a counselor of the castle. He's actually surprised to find them awake.
"Oh, you're already awake! Good morning, my King and Queen" he says.
"What?" say both Bruce and Ariane together, shocked.
After few hours, Ariane is sitting down in some stairs, in front of a window. The strong sunlight of the morning is coming in from the window and makes are look like shining. She has a beautiful, elegant white dress and a crown on her head. She has a pretty royal appearance and she's looking down, thoughtful. Bruce finds her there, when he's going around looking for her.
"Ariane! Ary?" he calls her. She looks at him and actually gets hypnotized by his figure. He's really handsome, in his wonderful red dress with blue cloak, and a crown in his head, smiling at her.
"Wow... You look so... Spectacular!" she says, amazed. "Not that you didn't before, but.. Really, you look amazing!" she adds, observing every detail of him.
"Oh well, you are so beautiful too, kitty" he says smiling and making her stand up to see her better.
"Thank you..." she says, a bit blushing.
"But somehow you look too thoughtful... Are you worried?" he asks, caring.
"Yeah, well, a bit..." she admits, he listens to her carefully. "You know... King and Queen? That's a bit too much, Bru". He laughs.
"Yeah, we were just Rectors in Villa. But we can manage this as we want. We're King and Queen, right?" he winks. She smiles. "This can be a monarchy but we have the power to manage it as democracy. Or the more democratic as possible"
"Yeah..." she says, still thoughtful.
"You remember what the Magus said? That we should have tried to govern again. We overcame this difficulty, a huge difficulty. And maybe this is what he meant. We can reign again, and do that correctly. And that crown looks perfect on you", she smiles. He puts his hands on her shoulders.
"Don't worry, everything is going to be alright. We're going to be fine. We deserve it finally... We can have what we searched since the beginning. When I took you out of that cell, I just wanted the best for you, after all that happened. And I tried to make you happy. These last years have been difficult but we got to a point when we can actually be happy"
"Your happiness is my happiness" she replies, smiling.
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