sorry for the immense wait- school comes first unfortunately, and marching band follows close second (actually it almost comes first XD)

but yeah! imma hopefully be working on this a lot more, so my updates should become more regular, like a chapter every week or two- if i promise to keep working will you guys leave a review or two? i'm not trying to review whore here, but a little bit of motivation REALLY helps me get chapters out on time :)


Chapter 2: A Thousand Years

Everything was fuzzy. Like he had jumped into a giant bin of cotton candy and he was drowning in it. But Randy has to admit to himself that drowning in such a delicious treat wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

He squirms, struggling to take a deep breath as the pain from what he suspects to be broken ribs comes to the forefront of his dampened senses.

Next he seems to be aware that someone above him is whispering in some other language, sounding very brokenhearted and scared.

It takes him a long minute but he manages to gather enough strength to crack open one eye and mumble, "English, please?"

The whirl of movement is too fast for him to follow, but next thing he knows is that Maranda has her lips pressed against his in a desperate kiss.

"Uhhh…" He croaks out when she moves away. "'m confused…" Randy mutters.

Maranda is unable to answer for a moment as she breathes deep to calm herself. Randy can just barely see the gleam of tears on her cheeks in the dim lighting and he immediately feels like he was at fault; like he's guilty, and he ought to make it up to her. Maranda never cries.

"Things were a little… dicey for a while…" She finally says. "Are you all right now?"

"Hurts." Randy admits his voice rough. "But definitely not as bad…" His glances over the small dark room quickly. A single glowing orb lights the entire room and it's not much to see by, but he can tell that there is a tiny desk in one corner, covered in dusty papers and candle wax puddles. "What did they want?" He murmurs.

"Something dangerous…" She answers, avoiding his gaze.

"You didn't tell them… did you?"

Maranda finally meets his eyes and Randy knows that she did what she had to.

What she had to do certainly wasn't the easiest either.

It was probably one of the most difficult choices in her life.

*(*)*

"So how was the rain?" Liz asks casually, throwing us each a big fluffy towel. I watch as her son dries his hair quickly and throws it aside, his hair now going in every direction, making him look rather crazy.

"Wonderful." Ceriz answers sarcastically. He sneezes half a second later.

"Stop that." His mother scolds.

"Stop what?" Ceriz says incredulously.

"Getting sick," She replies. "It sounds like you two are gonna have a long next few days ahead of you, so getting sick is the last thing you need to do." Liz starts digging in the fridge as she says this, and pulls out multiple potions, most of which glow or have some uniquely odd trait about them.

"So you heard about Randy and Maranda?" I say.

She nods sadly. "Asirion told me to contact him if I got any word of them from my scrying glass." Liz sighs angrily. "Falacis has always been good at blocking me out, and it's no different here. I can't even get it to show me half a second of where they are or how they're doing."

"They're alive right?" I ask quickly.

"It's not rejecting the request when I ask the glass to show me them so yes. They're alive at least." She answers, sounding very much relieved. She starts shoving all the potions she pulled from the fridge into a small enchanted bag, which seems almost hungry as it swallows all the bottles greedily without so much as bulging, even after she shoved five in. She also throws in some food that won't go bad, including two cans of ravioli a box of granola bars and some other random things she finds in the cabinets.

"What're you doing?" Ceriz asks slowly.

"Getting some stuff ready for you two." She answers, tugging the two leather strings together and tying it tightly. "You have quite the travel ahead of you." She throws that to her son and runs down to her basement to grab some other things.

Ceriz and I follow after her after sharing a look of confusion.

"You're not sending us back?"

Liz smirks. "Ceriz may get his crazy from his father, but he gets his inability to follow orders from me."

"I am not crazy." Ceriz says bristling at the comparison.

His mother pats him on the head reassuringly and he just glares. "It's all right. You're bonded already, so she can't just ditch you."

I giggle and Ceriz glares at me now. It's too adorable though, the way he pouts and I just can't take him seriously.

"I'm helping you guys out. Asirion said nothing about reporting if I saw you two."

I smile widely. "Thank you so much."

She gives me a small smile, the same one that her son always gave me on those especially rare and wonderful occasions.

"Here," She says, holding out the enchanted bag out to Ceriz. "This has several potions in it. Two for healing any type of injury and then a bunch of others for anything I could think of. Use them wisely."

"And this," She says, holding out something small in her palm. She drops in my hand and I realize what it is. It's a silver bracelet with a little treble clef charm on it carved out of dark green jade. "This is for you."

I inspect it closely, expecting there to be something magical about it.

"It's a scrying gem, as I call it." She says proudly. "It's something I've made myself—not a single one like it the world other then it's twin—." She holds out a similar bracelet, but this one had a bass clef on it. Liz gives that one to Ceriz.

"You two can contact each other or me using them, or anyone with a scrying glass really. But only you two can use them, so if Falacis takes them, he won't be able to activate them without getting a nasty surprise." She grins wickedly.

Both of us tie the charm bracelets around our wrists, and admire them.

"So do you know where he is?" Ceriz asks, breaking he silence first.

Liz smiles. "You can't hide from an enchanter, honey. I've known where he was for the last week."

*(*)*

"Do you even know what this is a map of?" I ask incredulously.

We share the saddle on Pavel's back, and Ceriz sits in front of me again, glad to find that it had stopped raining if only for the moment as we flew North-east.

"Yeah." He says, holding the paper behind him for me to take.

To me it just looks like someone dumped green ink over a piece of parchment, but it swirled continuously like a patterned puzzle that always shifted.

"You call this a map?" I grumble angrily, twisting it around to try and figure out what was going on.

"Yeah. Another of my mom's magic inventions. It's a map that changes color as you get closer. Once we're within a mile of my father it'll be bright red."

I can't help the smirk. "So it's like we're playing a game of hot and cold."

He chuckles at the comparison. "Essentially that's the idea."

*(*)*

Randy blinks, his eyes watering as he tried to read the pages in the near pitch blackness. He recognized a few of the formulas, but they made no sense combined with the array of shapes and geometrical patterns.

"The flower of life?" HE mutters, reading aloud the words scribbled nect to a small picture made up of overlapping circles.

"Maranda…" He says slowly. "Just because Rafael was good with this alchemy stuff doesn't mean I am too. I might be able to believe that the love-imprint thing transferring over, but I suck at geometry."

"That's not geometry." She tells him. "It's Sacred geometry. Every single living being is comprised of some variation of the Flower of Life."

"That explains the life part." Randy mutters. "But I still suck at math. That's not gonna change."

"You have to at least look like you know what you're doing." She whispers in case the guards outside the door are listening. "We need to placate them long enough for Sonya and Ceriz to get here."

Randy glances back at her, but she's hidden in the dark and he can only see a dark silhouette. "How do you know they're coming to get us?" He asks curiously. He turns his body to face her and the movement pulls at his half healed wounds, but he ignores it.

Maranda snorts, and for a second Randy explodes with hope—she's back to her old joking self. The Maranda that would steal things and call it a professional sport. The one that he finally admits to falling for the moment he laid eyes on her.

"Seriously? Sonya would never let either of us die, and Ceriz is like my little brother. Sure he may not like you all that much, but that's just because he's jealous cause you flirted with his girl."

"Very reassuring." Randy says dryly.

Maranda picks up on the sarcasm, but can't help but prod fun anyways. "You're very welcome. You can now sleep without a fear in the world."

"Except for the one where we die before they get here?" Randy says, only half joking at this point.

Maranda manages a rather forced laugh.

"Except for that one."

Randy grimaces at the strain he hears in the normally bright sound. Then he remembers something that had been bothering since he had first awoken. "Maranda..." He starts slowly.

"Hmm?" She murmurs, drawing random shapes with her finger on the ground.

"What did they ask you?"

She pauses. "They wanted to know who the last alchemist was. So I told them."

"Right." Randy says slowly. "So who is it?"

Maranda smiles brokenly. "As of right now, Randy we are the last ones."

He stares at her, confused. "I don't know anything about alchemy."

She just gives him this look of incredibly knowing sorrow, like she knows she had done the smartest thing but they were still in a lot of danger.

"I don't know anything about it either. But if we can fool them long enough they won't hurt us."

"What if they find out we're lying?" He asks softly, getting up from the chair to sit beside her on the ground. Maranda snuggles into his shoulder, shivering in the cold dungeon air. Randy put an arm around her and holds her closer, his heart jumping with joy at her new found comfort with being close to him. He certainly didn't mind someone warm next to him.

She closes her eyes and whispers quietly, "That's when we know they're too late."


if you compare this second chapter to the second chapter of Fireclaw you'll see just how much better my writing has gotten ;) just thought that was a fun thing to mention.

so! what'd you think?

i'm going to put a poll up on my page so go check it out and vote quick!

thanks for reading and please review!

love,

gilraenstar :)