"He has my mother?!" Silas asked running his fingers through his short dark hair. He looked at Porter with desperation. "Porter," he breathed.
"I know," Porter said matter-of-factly. Turning to Eve he said, "Silas will need to go with you to rescue his mother."
Eve moved her mouth to speak, but Mav spoke up before she could protest. "Are you insane? Silas can't go into the cities! This is probably their plan, Porter."
"What's that supposed to mean?" retorted Eve.
Mav tilted his head and offered her a skeptical look. "Oh, come on. Like you don't know what I mean. You're a Radical, your father is an Imperial Radical, and not just any Imperial Radical, the Imperial Radical. The man is evil! Your entire friendship with Silas could have been an elaborate plot to lure him in with your..." Mav paused and gestured at her figure, then continued, "womanly charms. Then he'd walk right into the cities for you to use and later dispose of!"
Obviously offended, Eve was stunned speechless by Mav's accusation. She pursed her lips and took an angry step toward him, but Porter gently held her back by latching on to her shoulder. "Mav," he said calmly, "use your insight. This woman is no threat to Silas. We can trust her. It may be helpful to have someone that close to the Imperials on our side."
Mav sighed gruffly as he crossed his arms in an irritated surrender. Then he lifted two fingers, pointed them at his eyes, then directed them at Eve letting her know he would be keeping an eye on her.
"I won't be kept out of the cities anyway, Mav," Silas told him sternly. "She's my mother."
"I have an idea," reported Eve suddenly, her offended demeanor now waned. "I've learned a technique that may be useful right now. It's a more powerful version of the enchantment I used to weaken his aura; I think it will make his map markings disappear."
"How long will it last?" Porter asked.
"Well, because it's so much stronger, unfortunately it won't last as long. I can't say for sure, but I'd guess it'd last half a day. But that would allow us to get in, get Reah, and get out."
"Her name is Reah?" Silas asked excitedly. Eve smiled and nodded.
"And when exactly do you plan on doing this?" asked Mav sarcastically. "Silas is sort of being man hunted right now."
"I packed a few Rebel uniforms just in case I ran into you all." Eve knelt to the ground and reached into a large leather satchel, pulling out three black and gray outfits. Mav grudgingly accepted his while Porter and Silas hurriedly changed into theirs. When they were all dressed, Eve stepped nearer to Silas.
Her proximity caused his skin to warm, and he swallowed somewhat nervously. "Wha- What are you doing?" he asked her.
Her lips curled into a teasing grin. "I'm going to cast the enchantment now," she said softly.
"Oh," he replied, holding his breath. "Okay." Eve gently pressed her fingertips on each of his temples and mouthed the words to her enchantment. Silas gasped with delight as he watched the markings on his skin begin to disappear. When she took a step back, he lifted his shirt and admired himself. "It's all gone!" he exclaimed. "I look normal."
Suddenly Eve, Porter and Mav's heads simultaneously darted toward the trees. "Someone's coming," Mav whispered.
"Cast the enchantment to weaken your own auras," Eve warned them. "They'll never believe you're Rebels otherwise." Porter and Mav did as she instructed, then continued staring into the forest.
A man in a Radical uniform burst out of the brush followed by two men in Rebel outfits identical to the ones Silas and his family were now wearing. "Eve? I thought you came out here alone. Who are these guys?" the Radical asked her. He was young, probably in his mid to late-twenties, and had brown hair.
"We ran into each other. None of us have had any luck," she answered smoothly.
"Oh. Well, your father sent me after you. We think the map has gone into hiding. We can't feel his presence here anymore. He wants us to head back home and meditate. Then hopefully we'll see something."
"Sure," she said. Then she moved her head, gesturing for Silas and the others to follow her. "Let's all head back then."
The three men obeyed her, but kept silent. They followed closely behind Eve and the other Radical, and Silas eavesdropped on their conversation. "Why don't you ever join my group, Eve?" the man asked her. "I'd feel much better if I could be there to protect you."
Eve chuckled, "I've told you, Weston. I don't need anyone to protect me. I prefer to be on my own, and I can take care of myself."
"Yes," he murmured.
Everyone was quiet after that, and it wasn't long before they were out of the woods and came to a wide grassy field. Just beyond the field was a city with tall buildings and several lights illuminating what moonbeams failed to reach. As they neared the city, Silas stared in awe up at cement guard towers where several night watchmen were positioned. They passed a man in a booth near the front who pressed a button which opened a heavy door leading into the city. The door was set in the center of a tall, thick wall that surrounded the entirety of the place.
Past the wall, there stood many dilapidated buildings, or shacks rather. Windows were covered by shreds of dirty cloth rather than glass, and the wood had nearly rotted in most of the houses. It was a miracle that some places were even standing. Silas couldn't believe that people actually lived in these.
After walking through more rundown parts of town, they approached another tall wall that seemed to stretch around the city as well. More night watchmen stood their posts and hurried to open the door when they saw the groups coming. Silas was amazed after stepping through the second door. It was almost as if he'd stepped into another city, no - another world, completely. This place was clean, and the buildings appeared new and sturdily built. Houses weren't rickety shacks, but edifices that exuded elegance. It was evident who was wealthy and who was poor, and it was evident that the wall between them was simply a barricade to separate them from each other.
They continued eastward through the city until they reached a palace. Armed Rebels and Radicals alike stood guard outside the front doors. Weston nodded a silent greeting as he marched up the steps with Eve, while Silas, his family, and the two Rebels followed closely behind. "I'm going to my room to meditate," Weston said quietly while glancing at Eve. His eyes were hopeful, as though he was waiting for a certain response.
"Okay. I'll do the same," Eve answered.
Weston's expression dropped somewhat, but he quickly regained his composure. "We'll meet tomorrow at breakfast to discuss our sightings and your father's plan of action."
"Sure." Eve nodded.
"Well," he said somewhat disappointingly, "goodnight."
"Goodnight, Weston." With that, Weston and the two unnamed Rebels disappeared into the palace. "Okay," Eve said quietly as she turned to face Silas and the others. "We're going to have to be quick about this. We'll go to Reah's room, and we'll slip out the back way so no one sees us. If we see anyone inside, don't talk to them."
Silas, Porter and Mav nodded in understanding, and the four of them entered the palace. Silas' eyes wanted to wander about the palace as he'd never seen anything like it before, but he was more anxious about finding his mother. His heart pounded as they weaved through corridor after corridor and hurried up several flights of red-carpeted steps. They finally came to a stop in front of one of the hundreds of doors in the grand building. "This is it," announced Eve.
Silas stared at the door in wonderment. It looked like an ordinary door, no different from any of the others they had passed on the way to this place. But this door led to his mother, the woman who helped bring him into this world. Eve pulled a key out of her pocket and carefully placed in the keyhole. The door opened seamlessly and without even a small creak. There was a faint glow coming from a table lamp in the room. "Where is she?" asked Porter.
"This is the living area. Her bedroom is just back there." She pointed at a closed door toward the left.
"You and Silas go. Mav and I will wait in this room in case anyone should come in."
Eve nodded and led Silas toward the second section of the room. Again, the door opened easily. Eve spun a knob on the wall that made the overhead light gradually grow brighter. When it was dim, but light enough for them to see clearly, she left it alone. A woman moaned sleepily and shifted in her bed. She winced and shielded her eyes with her hand as she peeked over her blankets. "Eve?" she asked. Suddenly, she gasped worriedly and bolted upright. "Did they find him? Is he okay?'
"Reah, everything's fine. I've brought some people with me. We're here to help you escape tonight."
"What?" she asked, glancing at Silas.
Silas stared at his mother in shock. Eve grabbed his hand and squeezed it. "Reah, this is Silas. This is your son."
Reah appeared confused. "I don't understand. He can't be. My son is covered in tattoos. He's the map."
"I've hidden the markings with an enchantment," Eve explained.
A tear fell from Reah's eye, and she breathed a laugh of utter joy. "You're my son," she said, sliding out of her bed and taking a step closer to Silas.
"I am. I had to come for you. I couldn't let you be killed."
Reah was now close enough to embrace him, and she opened her arms to him welcoming a hug. Silas excitedly wrapped his arms around her. "I thought I would never see you again," she sobbed.
Suddenly Eve called out, "Silas, the map!"
Silas held his arms out in front of him and lifted up the bottom of his shirt. The map was slowly reappearing. "It's wearing off already?" he said to Eve.
"I thought it would at least last longer than this!" she cried, tugging at her braid.
Porter and Mav broke into the room in a panic. "What's going on?" asked Porter. "I feel Silas' energy rising." He took in a deep breath when his eyes took in the map.
"Well, this is just great," mumbled Mav.
Voices could be heard down the hall from Reah's room, and they were quickly getting closer and louder. "They know you're here!" said Eve. "They're coming for you!"
All at once, Porter and Mav pulled out their double-bladed weapons. Silas protectively positioned himself in front of his mother as both he and Eve also unsheathed their blades and readied themselves to fight.
A/N: Thanks to those of you reading, reviewing, following and favoriting! Sorry it took so long to update.