"Welcome back, Lynx." Eve said. I blinked and stretched as much as I could in the back of the seven seater. This registered something in my head. Seven seats. No wonder it was so cramped.
Nix saw the look on my face. "Sheldon and Nicholas had to make a certain... Sacrifice." he smiled and pointed in the general direction of the back of the car.
"Really? The boot?" I asked. He nodded. I should have known.
Ivy was on the motorway now speeding past the other cars and the buildings had formed grey streaks on either side of the road. "Why couldn't we just teleport?" Ivy asked, skidding off the motorway and onto a country road.
"We've told you, with Linden, Vengeance could see up miles away if we used magic. Believe me. I hate this as much as you." he said and he did seem very jumpy about being closed in the car.
"She's gonna find out we're here anyway." Ivy grumbled and took a sharp right. As we came round the corner, we saw it. A great stone building like a large, stone, Victorian house. It looked abandoned and the grounds were un-kept. Ivy stopped the car, that would have died is she hadn't stopped it, and opened the boot.
Nicholas was the first out. "I am never, ever being a closed space with that lunatic again! Do you know how much he moans and whines? Never. Again." he said dusting himself off. I couldn't help but stare. We were nothing alike it looks but in some areas of our personality we were very similar. Both rash and easily angered but I still couldn't see how he was my brother.
"You can talk. You moaned too!" Sheldon said, climbing out and glaring at Ivy.
Nicholas ran at Sheldon but nobody saw the tackle as we heard a splash and when we looked, Cece and Flo were climbing out of a pond and Robin was trying to look innocent.
"Oops. I might have accidently tripped them." she said, her grin ever-so-slightly evil.
Cece was about to say something but thought better of it. It seemed they had got the message about who the top Sworn was.
Nicholas got off Sheldon and dusted himself off. Sheldon got up and spat some blood on the ground and gave Nicholas an I-hate-you-so-much-right-now look.
"Charming." Eve said and walked through the hole in the hedge row to the gravel path beyond. In the grounds it looked even more like a scene from a horror film. There was a suspicious red/brown stain on one of the crumbling benches, there was a headless doll in a fountain and what looked lie a torn straight jacket in a tree.
"Creepy." I muttered.
"You get used to it." Flame said. "So, if I was a psychopath, in a creepy old asylum with two more nutters, where would I hide." he looked at Ivy.
She took this as a compliment. "I would be round the back of the house." she said, pointing to the large iron gates that lead to the sloping lawn at the back.
We crossed to the gates, each step on the gravel sounding like an Earthquake, and found they were already open. It opened with a cliché squeak and we went into the back garden. It was more of a field than a garden but it still had a creepy I'm-watching-you feel about it.
"This place doesn't feel good." Cece and Flo said at the same time.
"I say we split up and look for stuff that could be classed as Vengeance-y." Eve said looking all leader-y.
"Good idea." Nicholas said.
"Really? Aww." Eve replied then went to the back door of the house and went in. Everyone shrugged and disbanded looking in all the normal places and a few not so normal ones as well.
I went and looked in the woods at the back of the field. I was searching a hollow tree when Nicholas walked up. "Has Sparky told you?" he asked.
"Told me what?" I said, refusing to look at him.
"Her theory. That I'm your big bro." he said.
I sighed. "Yes, she has."
"You don't seem happy about it." he said. "Don't you want a family?"
"Seen as my mother is trying to kill us and you're a mortal that got dragged into a world of very strange things, not really." I said, looking at him now.
"Wait, your mother is trying to... Oh my God, your mother is Vengeance?" he said, taking a step back.
"No shit, Sherlock." I snapped. "Caring and having people to care about can make you weak, you can lose sight of what you need to do. I can't risk that. Not now."
"Caring can make you stronger. You have something to fight for." he said. I couldn't deny that it could be true. "You'll be fine. We'll get Vengeance, you'll see. Family have to stick together, after all." This got me to chuckle a little.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped."
"No, I'm sorry. I was the one who arrested you." he said. "What away to meet. Arresting your little sister." he laughed.
"You arrested me?" I said, narrowing my eyes.
"Um... Yeah. Sorry about that. I didn't know any of this would happen." he said, rubbing his neck and looking away.
"I think it was good you arrested me. Otherwise we wouldn't know Vengeance was back." As soon as I said it, I knew it was true even though I couldn't remember.
"Yeah, I guess. I'm saving -" he was cut off by a yell back in the field. We looked at each other then ran back to where it had come from.
Cece and yelped and had now drawn her sword along with her sister. Coming down the hill were hundreds of Hollow Men. Each one stumbling down and often falling.
"Damn, that's a lot of Hollow Men." Sheldon said. Then a thought crossed his face. "Help, we need more people to help. Lynxia touch your left wrist." he called to me.
"What! Why?" I yelled.
"Just do it!" And I did. I placed the middle three fingers of my right hand against the underside of left wrist and it pulsed green.
"What the He-" It felt like a dam had burst in my head and the blankness was no longer blank. Memories filled my mind and I lost sight of everything round me.
My memories came back, rushing and swirling like waves in a storm.
They swirled, collided and joined together. Early memories first. Vengeance standing over me getting me to punch the wall again and again and the pain from my bleeding knuckles and the knowledge that if I cried I'd get a beating.
Running away to the Temple.
Becoming a Necromancer then running from the Temple, too.
Tesseract taking me on as an apprentice.
Tesseract dying. The funeral. Me, alone, on a hill in Russia burying the body.
Finding my friends in Blogland.
The trip and everyone disappearing.
Finding them again.
Finding out Nix still loved me.
Then everything from the past week or so slotted into place.
Including the voice in my subconscious.
I'd been forced to my knees, gripping my head in fear it would break. Now I stood up, more confident than I had been in a while.
"Lynxia...?" Robin asked.
"Are you OK?" Sparky and Nix said in unison.
"Paper skinned bastards." I muttered, looking at the Hollow Men. I nocked an arrow and let it fly. It ripped through the first Hollow Man's face like it was, well, paper.
Everyone smiled slightly in spite of themselves but it vanished when the paper skinned creatures charged.
No rest for the wicked, I guess.
Suddenly, we were all blocked in by the Hollow Men with no sight of any of the others. I lashed out with my bow as I had no space to fire arrows. I pulled out two of my knives and tore gashes in their papery skin, releasing the fowl gasses within. The awful stuff got in my eyes and forced them shut so I had to attack blind and listen for the low thwunk of one of the creatures taking a lumbering step. Soon I was lashing at nothing and felt two cats round my feet. "Good girls." I whispered and then tapped my wrist, releasing them again. I squinted now and saw the last of the green smoke being snatched away by the breeze. Everyone was looking at the tattered remains when clapping echoed down to us.
"Well done, kiddies." Tallulah said, sarcasm dripping from her words. Linden and the man from London walked behind her.
"You," she pointed at Flame, "You," she moved and looked at Sparky, "You," she swept her gaze onto Eve, "And you." she finally pointed at Lav.
"Yes?" Eve said, stretching out the word.
Vengeance ignored the interruption and carried on monologuing. "You four, should be dead. I foresaw things in you futures that would put you out of the game but somehow, you lived. So, I had no chance to change your lives and are here by chance, and chance alone. Why am I telling you this? To give them time." she finished by pointing at the asylum. We only then realised that she had been distracting us to give the full army of Hollow Men time to stumble down. This time there was possibly thousands of them, not the measly three hundred or so from before.
"Oh..." Sheldon said, paling and his eyes widening.
"Hang on" Sparky said, looking at the man from London, seemingly oblivious to the army gathering round us. "You're Nathan Titan. You killed Hayley!" and she lunged, knocking him down.
"So?" he said and knocked her off with a blast of air.
Flame tried to take a step but he couldn't. Linden stood smiling as she held us down.
Then, as Sparky leaped at him again; teeth bared, Flo tackled him to the floor. Linden realised she hadn't held someone down and that person was about to kill Nathan as her hands clamped round his throat.
"How dare you!" Flo hissed.
"NO!" Linden roared and flicked her hands, freeing us and flinging Flo back. She landed, eyes open and glazed, reflecting the stormy sky. She didn't move.
Two things happened then. Cece tackled Linden to the floor then lifted a rock and repeatedly hit it over Linden's head until the woman lay as still as Cece's dead twin but with less of a skull and a lot more blood pooling around her.
At the same time, Sparky had drawn her Makhaira and had slit Nathan's throat, the wound bleeding and opened like a tear in his neck.
I walked up to Vengeance while the others took in what had happened.
"Give it up, Mother," a collective sharp intake of breath from everyone but Sparky and Nicholas.
Everyone looked at her. They ignored Nicholas.
"I figured it out. One, they look incredibly similar and two, Shads chose her name at a young age. I found pictures in Vengeance's office with her name on."
I smiled at Sparky then snapped my focus back on Vengeance. "As you can see, I've got my memory back so don't even bother."
She smiled at my like I was still four. "I wiped your memory, my point." You got it back, your point." she said it very slowly as if explaining it to a child. "But I've still got plenty of tricks up my sleeve, so to speak." she said, indicating her vest top.
"One for you, two for me..." shadows swarmed over her and she disappeared.
I spun looking for her. "Ivy!" I almost screamed but she was already gone.
We waited the tense few seconds, each one seeming to last a year. Then, in the middle of the group formed the blue smear that signalled Ivy's approach. Ivy appeared dragging Vengeance by her hair.
"You can't shadow walk with me around. I know where you're going and I'll come for you" Tallulah realised she wasn't gonna get out and her thoughts etched themselves on her face.
"Yes you are alone, Tallulah. All alone in that little head of yours with only your mangled and tortured screams for company." Ivy said and flashed an insane grin.
Flame walked over and clasped some cuffs onto Vengeance's wrists. "Sheldon? Can you take this cow to the English Sanctuary?" he said, not taking his eyes away from Vengeance who had now started to cry a little and was looking at me in a don't-let-them-do-this-to-me kind of way. I just looked at her. She was no mother of mine.
"But -! Why can't Ivy take her?" Sheldon stammered.
"Although I don't want to admit it, we need Ivy here." he said, indicating the Hollow Men that were closing in to form a rough circle.
"Fine." he sighed and held Vengeance's arm but just before he left, she managed to choke out one word.
Just as Sheldon disappeared the Hollow Men stumbled forward, some being trampled by the ones behind them. I had never seen this much blood lust in Hollow Men before.
Just as before, they swarmed around us, blocking all vision of anyone else.
Somewhere to my left I heard Nix shouting as he killed them. "I might not be able to kill you as you're never technically alive but I can still end your existence. Maybe because you can't die I can make you my own personal punch bag. You know, tie you up and laugh as I repeatedly beat you into unconsciousness!" he yelled. Same old Nix.
I lashed out once again. Kicking and stabbing or slashing. Soon, the putrid smoke had filled my eyes and nose so I worked mainly by sound. If I heard something move then I sent out a shadow pulse that knocked everything back a few metres. One managed to get close and pushed me down. They all, pretty much, fell on me in order to rip my throat out. I raised my left hand and the shadows snapped like whips from my silver bracelet.
Laughter echoed in my head.
No, not now. I thought.
"Lynx!" came a shout to my right. The person who shouted was blocked from view but I think it was Nix.
"Lynx, you have to let her out! There's too many!"
"What about Nagier?" I shouted back, just saying Zath's True Name made my insides freeze but it made Elaisse even worse. She loathed Nagier, as he was the only one who could ever beat her in battle, and this anger made her stronger. I slipped more into her grasp.
"Mist is already unconcious. Nagier can't help. He seems to have a personal hatred of me anyway! Please!" he sounded desperate now. The sounds of battle were fading as each of my friends fell.
"I'm sorry." I said to quietly for anyone to hear then fell into nothingness. I felt the anger, hatred and fear rise up inside me like a bird and it broke onto the surface.
Elaisse smiled as her eyes opened to find destruction.
"Oh goody!" she said, clapping her hands.
This time next week the last part will probably be posted...