|The Kingdom of Voices
Author: Chesterfield PM
Methods get drastic and sneaky and Elena has no choice but to remain involved. Suddenly, it seems as though victims are at fault, enemies were never enemies, and allies were never allies at all. Part 8.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 50 - Words: 175,969 - Reviews: 84 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 04-08-13 - Published: 02-06-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3098839
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
10- In Which Elena Theorizes With the Best
Without magic, Clinton actually took a long time to recover. Even after he woke up, he said he wanted to take a nap because he wasn't feeling well. We waved off the notion of going to the hospital and said he'd go to his own room. After he initially stumbled on the stairs, Elena grabbed onto his arm and insisted on supervising. Part of her wanted to know where his room was in case she had to find him sometime in the future, but she was also worried he might pass out again and hurt himself.
He didn't fight her, and allowed her to guide him down the stairs. He mumbled about how not being able to use magic was the worst, and she pointed out that she could never use magic under any circumstances. "Then that's the worst," he decided.
His room didn't look any different from any of the soldiers' rooms she had seen previously. There was a noticeably lack of personalization which Elena was beginning to notice as a trend. Once he was close enough, he flopped down on the bed and seemed to fall asleep in an instant.
Elena had barely crossed the threshold of his room before he was in bed. He was lying across it horizontally, so she felt she should wake him up so he could make adjustments to be more comfortable.
Tentatively, she lightly shook his shoulder until his eye barely cracked open to look at her. He knew why she disturbed him because he immediately pulled himself up on the bed properly, even managing to slide in under the covers as well.
Elena shut the light off and closed the door. Since he was on a different floor as Irving, she wondered how many floors were dedicated to just soldiers' bedrooms.
She didn't know what else to do with herself for the rest of the day. Even though there were hardly any guards in the Kingdom, clearance was still required to get on to most floors. So, she ended up back in her own room, bored and alone.
At a loss of anything else to do, she decided to take a nap as well. But, when she closed her eyes, she almost couldn't force herself to do it.
Time passed, and she got out of bed after sleeping a little bit. She contemplated doing something useful, like helping search for people, though instinctively she knew she wouldn't be very much help. She wasted time, taking a long time getting ready even though it was turning into the afternoon by that point.
She was going to pointlessly return to Clinton to see if he was awake and had more errands to run to keep her busy. However, when she entered the stairwell, she was surprised to see Natalie Baker there.
Natalie was the Chaste Beauty—well, former Chaste Beauty, apparently. She looked just as surprised to see Elena, though relieved.
"Natalie, hi," Elena said, feeling a bit confused about this meeting.
"I was actually just coming to see you," Natalie said.
"I thought you went into the city," said Elena. "You did retire, didn't you?"
"Retire?" Natalie repeated curiously. "You mean… am I not the Chaste Beauty anymore?"
"Yeah. You aren't, are you?"
"No, I'm not."
Elena wanted to ask who retired her, but it seemed like a really invasive question. They hadn't spoken for a few days, so it was entirely possible that Natalie had met a guy she liked and it didn't necessarily have to be someone Elena knew.
"But I wanted to tell you about a vision I had before I retired," Natalie said.
Elena was somewhat skeptical. Every time Natalie had attempted to relay a vision in the past, it had always been so mangled and ended up being completely useless.
"Okay, what is it?" Elena led because although Natalie was bad at describing her visions, it was better to have a couple of clues at least.
"I don't really know how to describe it," Natalie started (which was not a good way to start, though Elena was still optimistic). "I was in my house, just watching television, and the next thing I knew, there was this weird old book on the counter."
Elena turned her head slightly to the side. "Weird old book?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I couldn't read any of it. There were pictures inside of random things and squiggly lines instead of words."
"What did the book look like?"
"The actual book? It was really thick with crispy pages. And it also had a big buckle going across it."
There was a moment of sheer confusion on Elena's side. She had that exact same vision when she was the Chaste Beauty. And, at the time, they had all gone on a search for the book and actually retrieved it, only to find that a bunch of pages about Thars were ripped out. In the end, Hunt stole the book from them, but they had assumed at the time that the reason for the vision was to clue them in about the Thars.
But they already were thoroughly informed about what was going on with the Thars. They had even managed to destroy the Thars so there were none left. But, if Natalie was having a vision about that book, then that meant there was something else inside of it that was useful to them now, even though it was months later.
Though, it was possible it was a different book that happened to also have a buckle. That was possible.
"Is that helpful at all?" Natalie inquired hopefully.
"I'm not sure yet," Elena admitted. "But thanks for coming to tell me. Where are you going to go now?"
"Just downstairs," Natalie replied. "I'm waiting for someone to come back from where the Kingdom crashed."
Waiting for someone to come back from where the Kingdom crashed? She wanted to ask who but, again, it felt weird.
"Well…I mean, I guess, thanks for all your help?" Elena said, unsure how to say goodbye. It was unlikely they'd ever talk to each other again, which made it feel even weirder.
Natalie perhaps didn't grasp that this might be the last time they talked because she only hugged Elena and told her to visit her sometime. Realistically speaking, Elena supposed she could potentially go and visit her. Apparently she was staying in the Kingdom of Clouds for whatever reason.
And so Natalie continued down the stairs. Elena waved to her and that was it. It wasn't really important who had retired her.
But that book! If it was the same book as before, then maybe that meant there was still more information to be learned from it. And, if it was a different book, then that meant there was a book close by with useful information inside of it. There was a good chance it was in the King's library.
The best person to talk to in this situation was probably the King himself. Hayden had been the one to read the previous book most recently, and he seemed to have a thorough grasp of the contents of the library.
She hoped she would be able to get inside the room. She went up the stairs, knowing she might encounter a guard in the hallway who would be reluctant to let her through. The first time she came to the floor, she had been able to get through because Clinton's authority allowed her to past. During her most recent trip to the hospital floor, there hadn't been a guard there at all because most of them had been sent for clean-up.
Considering they were still feverishly trying to locate survivors, Elena felt she was probably safe. Luckily, she was. When she got to the proper floor, there was not a guard there.
She figured that the only reason there wasn't a guard standing out in front of Hayden's door was because Winter was likely inside. Even though he was injured, he was well enough to defend himself and Hayden (as far as he was concerned).
She wasn't about to burst through the door, though. Trying to be polite (since she knew Hayden was in a bad mood), she knocked and waited for someone to call her inside.
Sure enough, Winter was at the door, opening it only partially so he was able to see her face. "Now is not a good time, Ms Elena," he said.
"Elena?" came Hayden's inquisitive voice from inside. "She can come in."
Winter didn't turn back to look at Hayden. He kept his eyes fixed on Elena and maintained his expression. Elena wasn't sure what he meant by that, but she only cleared her throat as he opened the door a little wider and welcomed her to come inside.
Hayden was no better off than he was before, still breathing with the assistance of a mask, and his face heavily bruised. Though, Elena was more interested in the other man who was in the room.
Clinton had told her once that although Irving resembled his mother, Clinton looked much more like their mutual father. Elena had seen his mother, and he didn't share very many physical similarities with her. But, as she looked upon this man standing near the foot of Hayden's bed, she recognized immediately were Clinton got most of his looks: his father.
Without a doubt, she knew it. The man was much older—perhaps even elderly—but nearly everything about him practically screamed Clinton's name. Even their hairlines were shaped the exact same way, and both had identical green eyes with the hint of red in the back. She didn't know much about the man besides that he had to be an extremely powerful magic user, and he must have the Trance ability as well since he participated in the Elect program in the first place. She supposed she knew nothing about him as a person. After all, it wasn't as if Irving or Clinton ever talked about him.
The man glanced at her and observed her stand awkwardly by the door as Winter shut the door and returned to Hayden's bedside. "Elena, come on over," Hayden said invitingly.
Hayden appeared to be in better spirits (relatively speaking) though he was not happy. Since he was welcoming it, she came up right next to him and rested her hand gently on his arm, worried about hurting him from even the tiny gesture.
"Ms Elena, I've heard a great deal about you," said the man, wearing a surprising smile that made him look friendly and approachable (an expression Clinton very rarely wore). She could tell he had been a very handsome man in his youth and he had not lost his charm as he got older.
"Good things, I hope," Elena said lamely.
"Yes, good things," said the man, still smiling. "I hear it was your theory about the Bounce, which is why Hunt is after Sir Wood. Very clever."
Elena wasn't sure how much this man knew about the situation, so she looked to Hayden for some indication. "Elena, this is Anthony Trachter," he said. "He has worked in the Kingdom of Clouds for many years. He's been performing complicated magical procedures since before any of us were even born."
"Anthony Trachter," Elena repeated, turning her head to look at him, knowing she had heard the name before. As soon as she said his name, she realized who he was: he was the one who casted the two curses on Wood in preparation for the execution.
That also meant he was the one Clinton had so furiously defended. Knowing now that Trachter was Clinton's father—it made a lot more sense why Clinton had been so passionate back then. He wasn't just protecting a respected member of the Kingdom of Clouds, but was actually protecting his father.
Trachter bowed his head respectfully to her, though she honestly didn't know how she was supposed to feel about this man.
"We're trying to determine if there's a way we can use the curses cast upon Sir Wood to our advantage," Hayden told her, removing the mask from his face to talk.
"How?" Elena asked Trachter. "Can you dispel them from here?"
"Unfortunately not," Trachter replied. "Although, we should still hold out hope that Sir Alexander Wood will be able to break the curses. He is a powerful young man. There is the chance."
"All the respect to Wood, but your curses are significantly more powerful than he is," Hayden said.
"This is also true," said Trachter politely.
"So how can you use the curses to help?" Elena wondered.
"A cursed individual exudes a consistent magical surge," Trachter said. "It's very small and barely noticeable to the average magic user. However, someone who has been trained specifically to pick up on those small traces might be able to pick up on them when he gets close enough."
"But he'd have to be close enough," Hayden added, indicating why he wasn't super excited about the plan. "That kind of makes it pointless to find them right now."
"How close?" Elena asked.
"A hundred feet or so," Trachter answered.
That definitely wouldn't help them track Hunt down. By the time they felt vibes from Wood's curses, they'd have to be right on top of him, especially if they were traveling by Kingdom.
"Danver has been trained in this method," Hayden said. "He'll lead the group to search for Hunt, starting in the obvious locations. They'll leave for Siegler in the morning."
"Who else is going?"
Hayden looked over at Winter, welcoming him to answer. "We haven't really pinned that down quite yet," he confessed.
"I wish you luck in finding him, my Lord," said Trachter with a deep bow to Hayden. "I wish we could have interacted under better circumstances. Until next time."
"Thank you for your time, Anthony," said Hayden.
"Ms Elena, Sir Winter," Trachter said, bowing to the other two as he excused himself. He walked very upright, striding over to the door and closing it silently behind him.
Winter stayed at the door, as if to make sure he had gone. Then he turned to look at Hayden, though he didn't say anything.
Hayden took in a deep breath through the mask and then looked to Elena. "Did you come here with another theory?"
She did have theories galore. She hadn't even told him about how she had determined Clinton was the Reviver.
The first order of business was to talk about that book. After looking back at Winter as he paced the room (clearly trying to disguise a limp), she took a deep breath. "Natalie told me she had a vision a little while ago before she retired," she explained. "Remember that book I had a vision about? We went and got it and then Hunt stole it?"
"She had a vision about that same book?" Hayden questioned.
"I think so," Elena said. "I don't know for sure if it's the same book. But the way she described it sounded a lot like it."
"What book?" Winter inquired, finally coming over to the discussion. "Should I get it?"
"No," said Hayden, shaking his head. "Hunt took it from us a long time ago. We assumed Elena had the vision in regard to the information about the Thars. But maybe all this time there was something else."
"If there's something in that book that will help us defeat Hunt, then he's likely destroyed it by now," Winter said.
"We don't even know that it will have that information," said Hayden.
"And a Chaste Beauty wouldn't have a vision that just tells us that there was something we could have done," Elena said.
"With everything that's going on right now, it's hard to spare any time to think about it," Hayden said to Elena and then directed his next comment towards Winter: "Make sure Danver knows about it and tell him to keep his eyes open."
"Yes, Sir," said Winter.
"Anything else?" Hayden asked Elena.
Elena looked squarely at him. He was exhausted. He was in constant pain. He could barely breathe. He didn't need any more nonsense clouding his head. There was enough stress as it was.
So she shook her head and hoped she wasn't making a huge mistake. "No, nothing else," she said.
"I'm glad you came to me with this information," said Hayden.
"Where's Emma?" Elena asked him.
"She insisted on going to the shelter for the victims of the disaster in Cerah," Hayden answered. "She thought it would raise morale. She went down there with Ryder."
"With Ryder? Oh, is she all right?"
"She's fine," said Hayden, closing his eyes and shaking his head. "Devastated about what happened, but physically fine. She wasn't in her Kingdom when it crashed."
"So she went down to the shelter?"
"Yes. I think just to fill her time."
"That might be a good place for me to go," Elena said to herself, reflecting on how bored she was just hanging around and how she wanted to be useful.
"I could send someone to escort you there," said Hayden, glancing over at Winter.
"I'll have it arranged," Winter said, bowing.
"Thanks," said Elena and then, to Hayden, she added, "Sorry I keep bugging you."
"You're always welcome to see me," Hayden assured her. "You're one of the few people who still treats me like I'm me."
He put his arm around her and sighed, then quickly put the mask over his face. Elena remained here she was for a few more seconds until he let her go.
With some difficulty, he put his hand against his chest and looked up at her. "I'm going to rest now," he told her.
"I'll go," Elena said.
He let her go as Elena backed up away from the bed. "If you wait outside, I'll be out in just a minute," Winter told her quietly.
She nodded and went to the door. She stopped briefly to look back and see that Hayden was incapable of even lying down on his own, so Winter had to help him do that. If the twins ended up coming to bless him, Elena knew that everyone's morale would improve: not just Hayden's.
Upon stepping out into the hallway, she discovered Anthony Trachter had not wandered very far. In fact, he was only a few paces away from Hayden's room and, when he saw her leave, he bowed to her and approached.
His face really did have a startling similarity to Clinton's. It was almost kind of shocking. But, although Clinton and Irving did not share any traits that would identify them as relatives, she could see a little bit of Irving in Trachter in the shape of his nose. Furthermore, she could tell Trachter's gray hair had once been jet-black, just like Irving's currently was.
"Ms Elena," he said pleasantly. "I hope you don't consider me out of line when I tell you this."
Elena instantly felt nervous about whatever he was going to say. "I guess it depends," she said honestly, though cautiously.
"Well, I suppose it would, wouldn't it?" he said with a little smile. However, his face quickly became serious again and his voice lowered sharply. "I feel our enemy is still close by."
After he spoke the words, she was scared, though slightly puzzled, unsure of why he chose to isolate her and inform her of this.
"In the city, perhaps," he continued.
Clinton had the same theory.
"Ms Elena, please be wary," he said. "I think he will come for you."
Now Elena was sufficiently horrified. She bit her lip, terrified of the severity on his face. "Who?" she whispered.
"Please don't go anyplace alone."
He remained terrifyingly stone-faced as he spoke, his green eyes deep with an expression that Elena could not determine. It looked like concern, but felt threatening, somehow, though she got the feeling that he didn't intend to scare her.
Thankfully, that was when Winter excited the room. Trachter's posture relaxed as he bowed to Winter. Elena was still rather scared, though, and wasn't sure what she was expected to say. "Come with me, Ms Elena," Winter urged her, bowing politely to Trachter as he guided her away from him.
Elena went with him, glancing over her shoulder to see that Trachter was watching her go. She finally let out a breath when Winter led her into the stairwell.
"Did Anthony Trachter say anything strange to you?" Winter asked her in a very straight-forward manner.
"Does he do that a lot?" Elena asked, still feeling the adrenaline rush from the conversation.
"Mr. Trachter has his good days and his bad days," Winter said. "But, on the whole, he can be quite mad. It's best not to take much of what he says seriously."
This did make Elena feel a little better. "So he's kind of crazy," she reasoned to herself.
"Most great magic users have some degree of insanity in them," Winter confessed.
"Do you?" Elena asked him jokingly.
"I like to think not," Winter replied, "though it does become more apparent with age."
As they reached the entrance, Winter was on the verge of delegating one of the three soldiers to take Elena to the shelter. However, when Elena saw Lawson standing there, she determined that she'd rather him take her.
"So that's where Emma went," Lawson concluded with a nod. "I'd come here to find her."
"You don't mind taking Ms Elena, Lord Lawson?" Winter confirmed.
"Of course not," said Lawson, flashing Elena a reassuring smile.
And so, suddenly, things seemed better.