They had only just arrived in Tourmaline, and they were all exhausted. They went separate ways to settle down after their long trip. Katherine took a bath and soaked in the scented waters for a while.
She made her way back to her room with her mind full of questions, and as she made it to the door she heard a noise from within. Something about this made her pause.
It wouldn't have been one of her friends. Her friends usually knocked on the door, and left when there was no answer. The servants liked to clean while the room inhabitants were away, but they rarely kept the door closed while they were cleaning. Lucy needed help in and out of rooms, and rarely like to go into Katherine's room alone.
Katherine slowly opened her bedroom door and peeked inside. Her room seemed darker now, she thought that she had lit some candles and opened the curtains. Perhaps that was just her imagination. She was really tired and need to sleep anyhow.
Katherine was about to light a candle when she felt a bee sting on her left shoulder. She reached back to try and examine the area only to remove a small metallic object. A throwing needle? Her eyes widened as she realized far too late that she was in danger. Her body went limp as Emeric, Thrym, and Chu'si stepped out of the shadows.
Admetus had waited until the next morning to speak with Queen Malkia. "You and I both know Engl is behind this." Admetus insisted. "This is exactly what she would do. Send a Templar to try and balance things out so they could become a Paladin in Laputa."
"You make it sound like you knew her." Her Majesty replied slyly. "That would be quite a feat because there isn't an elf alive today who can remember when the Imperial Gods walked among us."
Admetus snorted. "That's not possible, but our history tells of many similar fables. The Templars served her before Enyrit took control of them."
"Yet, you seem much older than I, and I am coming close to the end of my journey." Malkia confessed. "Elysium whispers to me, I will resist for as long as I can, but I fear what may happen if I pass too soon." She sighed. "I fear for Katherine. I dread what may become of her if she does not receive proper guidance."
Admetus was astonished to hear this. Queen Malkia was far older than she looked which was quite common for Elves, but he didn't think that she would be joining their ancestors in the Eternal Slumber so soon. Despite their disagreements she was a valuable advisor, and friend.
"What is troubling you?" Admetus asked.
Queen Malkia's brow furrowed as she spoke. "The spirits have been louder than usually. It's hard to hear them. They are afraid… They speak of the Imperial Gods. If Engl saved Katherine then there may be far greater danger waiting for her than I ever imagined."
Suddenly, they could hear running down the halls. "Admetus! Admetus!" It was Karla and Ariel.
Admetus was quite irritated by their childish antics and opened the conference room doors. He looked both way like he was about to cross the road. They were running toward him, but slid to a stop as soon as they saw him. He was prepared to scold them until he saw their red eyes and tear stained faces.
"What's wrong?" Admetus asked.
Ariel and Karla exchanged looks of dismay and began to cry. "Katherine's gone." They said though their tears. "We can't find her anywhere! We've been looking all over… She's gone…"
"What makes you think she's missing?"
"She left her weapons behind."
Admetus' eyes went wide. "When's the last time you saw her?"
Admetus ran to Katherine's room to investigate. It looked untouched almost like she hadn't been there at all last night. That thought didn't sit well with him. Then his sharp Elven eyes caught a glimpse of something shining underneath her bed. He reached down and grabbed it. It was a strange looking needle stained with blood. Suddenly, he remembered Katherine mentioning that a woman in the mercenary company that had captured her used throwing needles.
Admetus grabbed a vase heavy with flowers and water. He tore the flowers from the vase and flung them to the ground. He gently tapped the surface of the water with his fingers and let the water rippled throughout the vase. He was scrying for Katherine, and in the ripples of water he saw her. They had left Tourmaline because he could see the golden leaves of the Lavern around them. This meant that they were still in Arella.
"Damn!" Admetus cursed under his breath.
Admetus returned to Queen Malkia in the conference room, only now King Orion was there. "Your Majesties, the Gunbaki Katherine has been kidnapped."
They immediately raised the alarm and notified their troops and guards. With the help of a little magic, Arella was quickly notified of their missing Gunbaki. The entire kingdom was on high alert.
Katherine was extremely exhausted; her hosts were far from gracious this time around. Something about them seemed different. There was a weight on their shoulders, bearing down on them, and it wasn't her.
Thrym was carrying her like she was a sack of potatoes thrown over his shoulder. She may have been paralyzed, but it wasn't an anesthetic. She was awake for most of their trip, and though they made a point to keep her paralyzed, they definitely weren't gentle. She felt like a ragdoll being thrown around by toddlers.
They were on the lam though, probably because they had taken her. Many times while they were in the Arella Lavern, they had to hide and take cover. It was clear that the mercenary company had intended to make it out of Arella before anyone took notice, but they had underestimated Katherine's friends. They didn't understand that Katherine was a Gunbaki, and that they Elves would do anything to protect her.
Katherine lost all track of time. It didn't help that Emeric had them moving day and night. It seemed that they were in a hurry to bring her to Lord Incendio. Perhaps it was their last chance after their first failure. When they finally left the Kingdom of Arella they entered the barren desert of Amaranthym. Katherine couldn't be certain, but she thought that they were heading in the southwest direction. Then one day under the heat of a desert sun she caught a glimpse of a mountain in the distance, and it soon became clear that they were heading there.
Then one morning Katherine awoke in a lavishly decorated bedroom covered in reds and yellows. She was also wearing strange cloths, a red karakou with lovely golden spirals on the hem. Someone had taken the time to braid her hair down the side of her head. She wasn't sure if she should feel astonished or violated, but she definitely wasn't happy.
The cuffs on her hands told her very that she was very much a prisoner despite the luxury around her. Katherine growled in frustration when she noticed the enchantments that Templars used to keep a Theos from using their magic was engraved on both cuffs. She played with them a bit in the hope that she could slip one of her small hands free, but it was in vain.
Suddenly, there was knock on the door. Katherine jumped to her feet unsure of what to expect. She quickly looked for a weapon and grabbed a heavy looking candelabra. She didn't know much about Lord Incendio, but for Emeric and his mercenaries to be fear him there had to be good reason. Exactly how powerful was Lord Incendio?
A servant cautiously entered Katherine's room when there was no reply. When Katherine realized that it was only a servant she tucked the candelabra behind her back. The servant was startled to see Katherine standing. "G-good morning my lady. I'm sorry to intrude." The servant seemed warry; afraid of what to expect from their new guest.
"Good morning." Katherine did her best to smile and be polite despite the situation that she found herself in.
The servant was relieved that Katherine was in a pleasant mood. "Lord Incendio has sent for you, my Lady."
Katherine nodded and swallowed down her anxiety. The servant's eyes went as wide a saucers when she watched Katherine put the candelabra back on the night stand. The servant gave Katherine a pitiful look. Katherine needed to remain calm so she could use whatever chance she had to escape.
"Might I ask your name, my Lady?" The servant asked gently. "I wish to present you to Lord Incendio properly."
"My name is Katherine Carthach. What's yours?"
The servant was too astonished to speak at first. "My name is Gitta, my Lady."
After their brief encounter, Gitta escorted Katherine to meet Lord Incendio. They came to a set of doors that Gitta pushed open for Katherine, and beyond the doors sat an elegant man enjoying a breakfast feast with an extra chair set up across the table. He was dressed in clothes similar to hers, but he wore a sherwal that was several shades darker than what she wore.
"My Lord, I introduce Lady Katherine Carthach." With that Gitta kneeled to Lord Incendio in a way that was much different from the Elves. Gitta dropped her left knee to the ground and leaned her head against her right knee with her right arm bent up in front of her. Katherine hastily mimicked Gitta.
The man stood quickly. "You do not need to kneel, my Lady. I am Flint Incendio the Lord of the Edrinous Province of Redhelm." He smoothly helped her up and placed a kiss on her knuckles.
The dreaded Lord Incendio was a far more charming and handsome than Katherine had expected, but the world would be a much different place if people looked as ugly as they were on the inside. He was strikingly handsome, and Katherine wondered how a man like him became a Lord. Everything that she had learned about Ishitar said that tiles were passed down like an inheritance, but the man was not a Redhelm so how did he become Lord?
Lord Incendio looked Ephyrian like Captain Firtha with olive toned skin and black hair. He had brown eyes, and was so tall and muscular that he made Katherine feel like a mouse. He carried himself with the confidence of a man that didn't care about what people thought of him; something that was both admirable and dangerous.
Gitta silently exited.
Lord Incendio's eyes lingered on Katherine's for a moment' he seemed to be looking for, or expecting something. When he noticed Katherine's confusion he said. "I'm sorry. Have a seat. You must be hungry." He pulled her chair out for her. She hesitantly accepted the seat, and he pushed her up to the table.
She watched him, waiting to see the merciless man that she had come to fear. He sat across from her and ate. When Katherine did not start to eat Lord Incendio looked at her expectantly.
"Eat, you must be hungry." Lord Incendio insisted.
Katherine's stomached rumbled at the scent of the food. "I'm not hungry." Katherine retorted stubbornly.
He almost looked wounded.
"What do you want from me?" Her words were as cold as ice. When he remained silent she continued. "You kidnapped me. You tore me from my family and drug me to this world. I want to know why."
"You don't remember me do you?" He sounded heart broken.
Katherine shook her head. He had mistaken her for someone else? Lord Incendio had been trying to drag a woman back into his clutches, but had grabbed an innocent girl instead.
"Did you really drag me here because you thought I was someone else?" Katherine was exasperated. "Are you serious? I'm only eighteen, there's no way I know you, and I'm from a completely different world. The night your minions stole me was supposed to be the best night of my life, but you ruined it because of your selfish whims. You ruined everything!"
Suddenly, Lord Incendio slammed his fist against the table so hard that some of table ware came crashing to the ground and the table groaned in protest. He had actually damaged the wood where he hit the table. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes like he was trying to quell a tide of anger.
It was a moment before he could talk. "It wasn't on a whim." He struggled to not raise his voice. "I used a powerful and ancient spell to find you." I don't understand it should have worked, it was too old and powerful to be wrong."
"It was." Katherine said firmly. "Now let me go."
Lord Incendio stood so quickly that he knocked his chair over. "No! You will not! It showed me you! Drop the act and tell me your true name!"
"I have no name other than my own. Now, let me go!"
"That's funny because you act just like her; a self-righteous bitch who thinks she's better than everyone else!" He grabbed Katherine by the chain that connected her handcuffs together.
He pulled her from her chair and slammed her against a nearby wall. Sparks of pain radiated through Katherine's body. Lord Incendio's eyes seemed to flicker like there were flames in their depths. Heat seemed to radiate from him as if her were flame and with him pinning Katherine to the wall he was making it difficult to breathe.
A wave of terror washed over Katherine. This man had the strength to crush her windpipe and break her bones. This man was not just capable of hurting her, but killing her.
"If she's so awful, then why are you so desperate to find her?" Katherine gasped through the heat, barely able to breathe.
"BECAUSE I LOVE HER!" Lord Incendio cried so loudly that he made Katherine's ears ache. He slammed his fist on the wall next to Katherine's causing her to flinch and shriek. He caused the wall to shatter, but Katherine imagined what would have happened if that had been her face. "There was no mistake. You're her. You must have forgotten; not just me, but everything and everyone." He smirked ruefully.
At this point Katherine was frozen with fear, and though Lord Incendio had moved away and she was no longer pinned, his very presence was suffocating her. Her eyes gleamed with unshed tears, and she refused to let them fall. That's when he noticed her.
Lord Incendio's face softened and he looked surprised as if he had never seen a woman so upset before. He almost looked remorseful, but when he tried to reach for Katherine she jerked away. There was terror in her eyes, and she found herself wishing that she could used her magic to protect herself. She understood now. She understood why Emeric's company was so afraid of him.
Lord Incendio left and Katherine was returned to her bedroom. When she was finally safe and she was sure that she was alone, she began to cry. Curled on the floor with her face in her knees, sobbing. She probably sounded horrible. She was crying so hard that her stomach hurt. Katherine wished that Lucy was here to offer he even the smallest amount of comfort, but she was all alone. Alone again...
Later that day Gitta left Lord Incendio's palace, Toplota, to run some errands. She needed to get some supplies, but while she was at it she stopped by a seedy bar. The bar was full of rowdy men who smelt like sweat and alcohol, but in the corner there was a man wrapped in a black cloak despite the heat of the desert.
Gitta approached him and though his face was concealed she knew who he was. She sat at the empty seat across the table.
"What news do you bring?" The man of shadow asked.
Gitta replied. "She's here. He found her."