CHAPTER 23 (XXIII) OF PARALLELS (SOME STORY OF SOME LIFE)

Chapter XXIII

No longer in focus

 

Entrance to this forsaken place was guarded by some sort of ghouls. All this menace was left to Ary to deal with. For that reason and some others he was involved in this mess. With his devil tricks Ary managed to get everyone inside safely.

Halls were long and dark, light was most likely a luxury here, as far as it all looked. Strange lizards were roaming around halls, with their claws scratching walls and ceilings as they moved around. All of a sudden sounds of burning and weeping in pain were heard, as if outside had become some sort of purgatory. Ghouls screeched in pain as they burned alive.

– That’s a dragon. Calm down. – Gabriel said.
– What’s a dragon doing here? – Asked Yuki.
– Occasionally these creatures just go places. Just like most – dragons travel. Perhaps this one got fascinated by all the murky ghouls here and to get rid of this mess just burned them. – Ary kept on walking as he spoke, others keeping up with his pace.

These halls had a lot of doors to them, different in size, texture and what they were made of. Seemed in a way like walking through cabinets which hold precious memories, or knowledge, perhaps even some ones minds. Chambers with secrets would be also close to describe them.

Something made Niko stop at one door. It called out to her in some mysterious way, as if opening door would solve something really important. The moment she touched door knob she was swooped away to see the street full of people in fancy clothes, buzzing of buses and beeping of cars. Cabs were eating up and spitting out different people. Shops with dazzling collections, ladies with fragrant perfumes, men in tailored suits, street food, chatter, laughter and feeling like living here took over her like a wave.

Before her eyes was Oxford Street. A young man, white hair, stripy shirt, jeans, knee high boots, feminine features, walked up to her.

–  Hey! – He said, but Niko was too surprised by suddenly getting here to reply, – Oh, you are now thinking a lot, I see. – He continued. – By the way, – he grabbed her hand, – it’s good to see you again!
This guy pulled her along with him, walking down towards Piccadilly Circus.

– How the hell? – She spoke.
– Am I alive? Or would you say it’s not real? Don’t think too hard yet. I’ll get you there.

They walked into the passage, he released her hand, then gripped her by the shirt near neck and smashed her against the wall, holding her there, pressing on her chest.
– It’s as fucking real as it were back in Roseam, baby. – With free hand he slapped her across the face, then released the grip, standing looking at her, as she stood speechless. – And you know what? This might be your preparation towards the death parade.

– Hik… – She almost said his name, but in instant was sucked back into the hall, where Ary and others were, walking few steps ahead of her as they were. She touched her cheek, as it burned from the harsh slap, chest hurting from the hit. Head spinning, heart racing like machine gun, thoughts getting fuzzy, messed up. “How is he alive? How is this possible?” – Were her only questions right now.

***

Elyon had dragon burn all ghouls that protected castle, so she easily could walk around premises as she pleased. Perhaps it was harsh, as fire damaged good part of walls, garden and pillars, but measures were required.
She sensed that her friend is inside, but due to laziness of seeking entrance and fiddling with lock, Elyon asked of dragon to smash wall so she would get in without extra hassle. Dragon tail swung hard, smashing good part of the castle wall – entrance cleared.

“Um, Elyon?” – Orins voice appeared in Elyons head, – “Some guy called from Lab. Said that you and Erick are endangered.”
“We’ll sort it out from this side.” – replied Elyon.

Dark halls were annoying, sound of scratching from lizards that hectically run somewhere due to dragon were as annoying as darkness. Dragon squeezed itself inside bit by bit, damaging walls and ceiling as he squeezed further in, but that does help to clear way from menacing little rats or little creatures. Also having dragon by her side gave her advantage at killing any dangerous thing, or escaping in case of emergency.

***

– This way. – Ary opened the door with staircase leading somewhere beneath. Right when Ary was about to enter first, Gabriel pulled him back and stepped up and went in first, he is knight and likely knows that it’s better to be in front line when encountering menace.

It was mouldy, wet and chilly down here. Decaying fungi exhibited harsh smell. Each step they made on the stairs sounded sopping with dirt and goo.
Walls became covered with rust from all the cold and water.
Niko walked behind all of them, clenching her fist, nails pressing skin hard. She needed some reassurance of “here and now”, so pain that was self-made helped cope with burning cheek and pain in chest. That “flash back and forth” moment took her by surprise.

“Are you scared?” – She heard some ones voice, making her stop. Others went on, as they seemed not to hear this voice. Niko felt dizzy, her hand reached for the wall, to grab onto it, but instead her hand got held by the white haired man. Everything got swooped again, and the next thing she saw was being in Ericks conservatory, with this man holding her hand. Heart sunk, making her feel slight fear, like a rabbit cornered by the fox.

– Oh come on! Admit it! You clearly love seeing me again! – He squeezed her hand tight, bringing pain to her; then got in her face. – Seriously, just say that you’re happy!

His hypocritical and selfish nature, smile that gave chills because he’s overly attractive, feminine features and beautiful eyes – always treasured in Nikos heart. She barely managed to open her mouth to say something, but he shoved her hand, which he held, then began pacing around.
– Oh baby, what’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?
– H-how are you alive? – Niko kept her eyes on him.

He turned around on his heels, grabbed vase from tea table next to him and send vase flying against the wall, making it shatter in pieces.
– That’s all you’re worried about?! – He shouted. – What’s got into you? You’re like a throw rug! Geez.
– Hikaru, I… – She tried to reply.
– Shut up! – He got in close again, grabbed her hair and pulled back, bringing her face upwards, then got inch away from it. – You know, I really missed you. – He licked her lips as he looked right in her eyes. – Why did you not look for me, you twat? – He suddenly bit her lip, hard enough for it to start bleeding, then shoved her on chair.

– I saw how you died! There was no way to… – Niko muttered as blood oozed from her lip.
– Shut it! – Hikaru cut her off again, raising his voice. – You bloody idiot, did you forget who you are? Perhaps with all these sides buzzing you might have gone ahead and started to believe in lies you’ve made. – Hikaru looked at her, as if she’s scolded for mischief, with further severe punishment; her eyes pinned on random point on the floor, unable to look in his eyes, tears swelling up, heart bumping insanely, air so much harder to breathe.

– I see… Toy forgot who is its master, right? – he crouched next to her, his slim fingers raising her chin up to look at him, – You are my toy, my trash. Remember? – He purred out these words with smile on his face.

She mustered strength enough to get up from chair and move away from him, even if it were few steps.
– You were meant to stay dead! – She managed to get her voice loud again, but it felt soar. – I never forgot you! How dare you blame me?
– How dare I? – Hikaru cut in, having surprised look. – Do you even hear yourself? You got some guts to talk back to me now?

Tears were rolling down her cheeks, her body trembling; she knew full well what he was like.
Hikaru stepped closer, hugging her by the waist, pressing her tight to his body with one hand, with other hand he wiped her tears. With his finger, wet and salty from tears, he pressed hard onto the wound on her lip. She flinched, trying to push him away, but he was stronger.
– It hurts. – She whined.
– Oh I know. And it will hurt more. Way more than you can imagine. – He purred out words, as he licked her blood off his finger.

In instant she was back on staircase, with Ary, Gabriel, Erick and Yuki right where they were when she got swooped again.

Her body trembling, blood oozing from lip, hands shaky, eyes darting from one spot to another, thoughts flipping back and forth: “What the hell is wrong with me?” – She thought to herself, as she touched her bitten lip.
– He really is back… – She muttered.

From that moment on, as she followed the party, her mind was away with thoughts rambling about one matter – figuring out how is Mad King back.

***

Outside weather seemed to be a great support for today – bright, warm, breezy. Orin already prepared breakfast along with two cups of ground coffee that she found in cupboards of this apartment. She walked into Davids room, shaking his body to wake up. He lazily turned around, now facing Orin instead of pillow. Seeing her made him exhale deeply, then nod that he’s awake, so she’d leave room, for him to be able to get dressed.

As they sat at the bar stand in kitchen, Orin spoke:
– Elyon said that she’ll take care of things on her side, but I am still worried.
David swallowed last of his food on the plate.
– She’ll be fine. She has some help from dear old Goddess of Rivers. – He pulled closer coffee cup, breathing in the sweet aroma.
– But will she really? – Orin held her cup in hands.
David took a look at this damsel, who stared inside her coffee in a cup, seeking for some reassurance there, but reality is not as sweet as coffee.
– Right now there is not much we can do. – David drunk half a cup. – We can’t break into lab, nor I can go back into that realm for long. My body just won’t last, – He gazed at her, – and you’re unskilled for going in there. So risking it all would not be wise.

Orin sat silently, head going through ideas, but none ever so appealing. David looked outside the window. He was at loss. There was really nothing he could do right now.
The only possible guess he had was to go to Nikos house. Perhaps he could find something of use in there, maybe even inspiration towards idea that could help.

***

– Town looks amazing! – Cat happily exclaimed. – Awh, so much food everywhere! I want to eat! Let’s go grab some food, pretty please?
Doppels stomach growled, requesting food, as it was empty for far too long. Cat looked at her surprised for Doppel making such feral sound.
– Yeah, food would be good. – She said as she blushed.

Nice old tavern greeted them with mouth-watering menu, from which they selected “Days specials” and sat waiting for food to be brought.
As they got seats on a terrace, enjoying aroma of flowers, their food was brought -dishes with well-done meat, side dishes and two large glasses of wine. It’s been few good days since they enjoyed meal, so having this food made them feel like they were having a feast.

Filling up stomach was great, now the two were relaxing as they drank wine.
– A little left for this job – just give this entire paper load to Adrian and we’re free. – Cat lazily stretched.
– I’m still perplexed about that witch story and that fact about Adrian being quite some centuries old, not to mention that he has this obsession of seeking his “someone”. – Doppel surveyed the street, then gave Cat a look, who raised his eyebrow.
– Was it not some fairy tale? – He ruffled his hair.
– I would have thought that, but I’ve heard stories about “boy in Kingdom” before, so I’m really thinking that it might be just as real as any part of history. But what I am interested about is: Why is he so agitated to find this person?

Cat looked up in silence giving this idea some thought.
– Because this person can destroy plans that Adrian worked so hard on. – Rabbit showed up jumping over the fence, taking seat next to Cat, giving him slight scare.
– Plan? – Doppel looked at Rabbit.
– Yes, plan. – Rabbit firmly said. – One that can cause a great war for us here, while he enjoys his life in that other parallel.

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