I realize that today is more a description day than much else, and I’m sorry, but I tried to throw in a little tension instead of wasting another day on it. Enjoy! 😀


Hope jolted awake with a startled cry, thrashing around as she wrestled with whatever wound tightly around her, binding her stiff as a board. Wriggling out, she threw it to the floor, brushing her dark grey hair out of her eyes to stare at it.

It was a plaid blanket.

“Hope, calm down.” It was Melody, stepping forward to rest a hand on her younger sister’s shoulder. “It’s just us.”

Hope scanned her surroundings. She was back in the Hole, in a small side room where Angel did her miraculous healing. The light-grey-eyed, medium-grey-haired girl sat to the side, observing Hope as she straightened up from the soft water-bed reserved for patients only. Near the piles of medicinal leaves that she obtained from who knew where stood Sam and identical twins Jay and Kestrel.

Hope let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “That vision – it felt so real.”

“Describe it,” Melody ordered, sitting on the edge of the bed as Sam picked up the blanket and draped it over Hope’s shoulders again.

She began to retell what she had seen, aware that everyone’s eyes bored into her. Before long, the group leader, Terrence, showed up, and Hope had to restart her story, but she finally finished, leaving a silence that no one was able to fill.

“Wow,” Jay said awkwardly from where he was leaning against the wall. “That’s a little intense, Hope.”

“Are you okay?” Sam asked concernedly. “You were out for quite a while.”

“I’m fine, Sam.” Hope gave him a small smile.

“You had us pretty worried,” Melody commented. “I turned back as we neared a small drop, but you weren’t there, so I turned back, but I couldn’t find you. I came back to the Hole and rounded up some people, and we finally found you by Third Lake. All the grey stones around you had turned black, too, and you looked like you had just died and come back to life. I was scared stiff, honestly.” She laughed softly. “I’m glad you’re okay, Hope.”

“Well enough to travel, I hope,” Terrence rumbled in his deep voice from where he stood at the entrance to the side room. “And you too, Kestrel, after that fall in the lake.”

“I’m coming too?” The black-haired boy’s voice echoed his shock. “But I thought only seniors came along.”

“You are a senior, Kestrel. Everyone here is, except Hope and Sam, of course – not that your skills aren’t exceptional, but because of your age – but I can only bring one other.” Terrence smiled apologetically. “I have to say that out of all the senior males I have on hand here, Kestrel is the most level-headed.”

“Hey, I’m level-headed!” Jay protested lightheartedly, producing a series of laughs from everyone else; they all knew Jay was the polar opposite of his brother.

“No you’re not, Jay,” Melody giggled.

“You’re right, I’m not,” he conceded. “I suppose I’ll give that to you.” He nudged Kestrel, who grinned in response.

“Wait, wait, wait, where are we going?” Hope interjected after the joking subsided.

Terrence gave Hope a serious look, and what little humor that remained in the air vanished instantly. “You should know by now, Hope. We are taking you to see your Fate.”

 

Hope struggled to keep the slim figures of Terrence and Kestrel in sight as they sped through the monstrous corridors of the Echo. The journey was designated as completely silent, in order to allow Hope to stay calm before she saw her Fate, but she felt it only built up the tension, and she hated it. She wished Kestrel could lighten up the mood with a little joke, or Terrence with one of his childhood stories – anything to keep her mind off her anxiety.

They came to a three-way fork, and Terrence paused, Kestrel halting behind him as he waited. Hope froze, realizing it was the same fork she had gotten lost at.

Sure enough, Terrence veered to the right, and they followed. The pace was much slower as the corridor began to get darker and darker, until Hope could hardly see.

There was a sharp sound that Hope had never heard before, and the familiar crackle of grey fire. Terrence was holding a tube of some sort, lit on the end with fire that did not spread. He set it in a lock on the wall, and more lit up down the corridor, filling it with eerie grey light that danced on the walls.

Hope shuddered as she walked among the fire-sticks on the walls, expecting at any moment for it to leap off and burn her. As if sensing this, Kestrel gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder before drawing ahead to stand behind Terrence.

They finally reached the end, to a pair of large, black double doors that were an exact replica of the purple Gates that marked the entrance to the Echo. Hope gazed up at them, remembering how many times she had done so previously, but never with as much terror as now.

Terrence turned back and gave her one last look before raising a hand and pushing the doors open.

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