Chapter Twelve

A Better World

*Ivy's Point of View*

"What? They escaped? How?" I said, my heart racing.

"They don't know, exactly. Isaac is having trouble finding a connection to the minds there. Apparently Blaire is unconscious," said someone in the doorway. The speaker was a young girl, no more than fifteen.

"Leah, stay here," Charlotte instructed the girl. "You guys, follow me," she said to our group.

"Charlotte, I'm not a child. I deserve to know what's going on," The girl said, defiantly, refusing to move out of the doorway.

"Leah, get out of the way."


"I am your older sister, you are my responsibility, and you will do as I say. Now, move," Charlotte said, harshly.

Oh, I thought. This is Charlotte's sister. She's being a little harsh considering all they've been through together.

When Leah refused to move once more, Charlotte pulled her arm and yanked her into the hut, then motioned for us to follow her out.

"This door doesn't lock, you know! I'll just follow anyway!" Leah called after her.

"Stay here," I whispered to her. "I promise to come back up here and tell you what's going on." She eyed me for a moment, and nodded, subdued.

I hurried to match Charlotte's quickening pace.

"She's just a kid. She has no what the people we're dealing with," Charlotte huffed to herself.

"I am just trying to keep her safe!" She said, wringing her hands in exasperation.

"Charlotte?" I said, quietly.

She stopped for a moment and looked at me. I eyed the bow slung over her shoulder and knew I had to choose my words carefully.

"Leah was Blaire's prisoner, too. She does understand. I get that you want to protect her, but locking her away from what's going on in the world isn't the way to do it," I said, tentatively.

Charlotte narrowed her eyes at me for a moment, and then sighed.

"We've been without parents since she was six and I was ten. I've always been in charge of her, she's been my responsibility. That makes a kid grow up, fast. It was a welcome blessing when we went to Blaire's program. If only had known then what we know now," she said sadly.

"Charlotte, you can't turn back the clock. What's done is done. But I promise you, we will put and end to Blaire and make this a better world for your sister to live in," I said, gently. She smiled, weakly.

Suddenly, there was a gunshot, and something fell beside us. We looked down to see Leah lying on the ground, blood pouring from her limp body.

*Zoë's Point of View*

Thick smoke clogged my lungs and I gagged, bile burning my throat.

"Zoë!" Ethan yelled. "We have to get out of here!"

"I need to get the book!" I shouted back. I threw myself down on my hands and knees, trying to find air that wasn't clouded with toxic fumes. I felt around the carpet, and finally my hands found the book Annabelle had hurled in my direction.

"Ethan! You have to get her!" I screamed, pointing at the woman. "We can't let her die! I'm going to find the man," I shouted.

Before he could hold me back, I dodged a falling bookshelf and sprinted to the back of the house. When I looked back, I saw the flaming shelf had fallen completely over the doorway. I prayed there was a window in the back.

I went through the door the man disappeared though. There was nothing there. The room was completely empty, with an inch layer of dust. Confused, I checked the other room and found the exact same thing. My lungs were full of vile smoke. It felt as though it was turning my insides black. I ran back to the first room, and broke open the window with my fist. I could hear the sound of a fire engine around the corner. Praying the Ethan mad it out, I jumped through the jagged window and hit the frozen Earth with a crash that made my head spin.

"Zoë!" I heard Ethan choked. "Are you okay?" His words echoed in my brain, and sounded far away.

I closed my eyes, and slipped away into blessed unconsciousness.

"Zoë," I heard a voice say. "Zoë, wake up." I grunted in response. I wanted nothing more than to slip away once more.

"Wake up," it was persistently.

"Ugh," I said, irritably.

"Oh good. You're awake."

I opened one eye and found myself looking into Ethan's concerned face. We were in some kind of strong concrete building with several holes in the roof.

"It's like the ninth circle of hell in here!" I complained, loudly. A fresh layer of snow and ice had settled in places where the roof had fallen in.

"I know," Ethan said, sadly. "I tried to keep you warm by starting a fire but all the wood is wet and I honestly don't know how to start one in the first place," he finished, sheepishly.

"Where are we?" I said, as though it didn't occur to me to ask before.

"A mausoleum," he said, like he had picnics in mausoleums every day.

"Well I didn't know I was that close to death," I said.

"It's vacant, and it was the only place I could find to keep shelter for the night. Plus Annabelle said it would be a good idea," he told me.

"Annabelle!" I said, suddenly. "Is she okay?"

"She's fine," a voice said behind Ethan. Annabelle stood behind him, looking tall and proud. Nothing like the frail nearly dead person I saw in Lock, Stock, & Barrel.

"But you… and the old man..what?" I said, stupidly.

"I have a little gift of my own. There never was an old man. I can make people see things that aren't really there, but feel as real as the conversation we are having right now."

"Was the fire real?" I asked, unsure.

"Yes, it was. I needed to destroy the evidence of my studies. All the books were journals of my experiments."

"Oh, God.. You're just like Blaire!" I said, inching away from her.

"Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. I studied gifts to actually help people, not hurt them or use then for my own personal gain. And I happen to know everything about you, Miss Gray. You as well, Mr. Stone," She said, looking pointedly at Ethan.

"What was in the journal you gave me?"

"It's a sort of index, telling of different powers and their weaknesses. There is also a map that will guide you two somewhere safe."

"But what about you?"

"The journey ends here for me, I'm afraid."

"But we need you! You could tell us so much!"

"I'm sorry, Zoë," She said, pushing open the heavy stone entrance to the mausoleum.

"Everything you need to know is in the book."

She disappeared into the sunlight.

I tried to chase after her, but by the time I ran out the door, she had vanished.

I began to sob, unable to control my emotions.

"Hey," Ethan said, leading my back into the mausoleum gently.

"It's going to be okay, Zoë."

He pulled my into his lap and let me cry, shushing my had rocking me just as I had done to Cora.

"Ethan, w-we were s-so close…Now I d-don't know what's going to happen to us.."

"Zoë Gray, I promise you I will never let anything happen to you," he said, kissing me softly on the forehead. For some reason, that made me cry even more.

"I just don't know what to d-do.." I sobbed.

"I know, baby. I know."

Aw. They are so cute. :3 I was disappointed last chapter when it didn't get any reviews, so I hope this one brings a few in. As always, let me know what you think.