TS: Fire’s Hope Chapter 9

IX

Deceit in Darkness

 

Before dusk, Sil hurried down to the courtyard. He and Emilie had been working secretly on a plan to escape the ASH. They only knew of one Shadow who had successfully crossed through the shield and that Shadow had died shortly after, so their tactics were adapting. One tactic which Emilie had convinced him enough to do, was to dress differently. Sil admitted to himself in this, that he followed Emilie, he was quiet and compliant to her at times, and course jesting was all they showed as distain for each other.

Sil wore an iced-stiff gray coat which seemed blue on the ends, the coat had a high collar which hid his nose from a profile view. His attire was not as effective as Emilie’s, and his hair gave him away quickly if he were to be seen. Currently his unruly white hair, was also frosted, holding together small braids which he weaved like the sewing in his leather projects.

At the door, Sil held a hand lightly over the locks and sent an ice formation into the keyhole. The ice formed perfectly with Sil’s aid as a key and feeling the ice was solid, Sil turned the ice key and unlocked the door. Pulling the ice out, Sil glanced a moment as the ice formation to see its key shape before he left it on the stairs, running up quickly. The shield still prevented him from leaving, but it did not stop an animal from coming. In his mind he called out for Winter, screaming to the sky with his heart for Winter the hawk to come to him.

The hawk came quickly, and Sil outstretched his arm with his newly finished glove, as well as the arm and shoulder guards. He embraced the hawk and she nuzzled herself against his cold skin while he quickly took something which was fastened to her leg and quickly froze it into an ice block unable to be melted. Regretting as he did so, Sil kissed the hawk and sent her away to hurry back inside with the devise. He closed the door, but didn’t bother to lock it and hurried back to the room in silence.

With little time in between entering the ASH and reaching the room, Sil, quietly moved through the room with smooth actions and delivered the devise to Emilie who was waiting for him. without a word he melted the ice around it, and gave the tiny camera to Emilie. She proceeded to plug it into the computer, and quickly before her eyes, the screen displayed the entire distance of where Winter had flown since yesterday. It showed a layout of all of the ASH from above, and all the way to the location of Winter’s nest. Places where Winter had spent excessive time were modeled three-dimensionally whereas flying routes were relatively low resolution. “these are great, Sil,” Emilie whispered in awe as she gazed at the landscape from above. Emilie suddenly felt a sour taste welling in her mouth, “If this doesn’t work… this will be the closest thing I have to flying outside the ASH…” she realized gravely.

Sil moved closer to the screen, “It’ll work,” he assured.

Mark awoke quietly to whispering late at night and seeing the light on in the back room. Mark was hesitant, but he did not think twice as he got out of bed and strode towards the light curiously. Silently, Mark stepped into the room and found himself gazing at the computer from behind Sil and Emilie.

He kept his mouth shut because Sil was right there, and watched without them knowing he was there for a few moments. He watched images of the countryside and highways, he listened as Emilie pointed along the route whispering, “If we could steal one of the ASH’s vans, we could get out of here fast,” she suggested.

Sil nodded a little, “Elise could drive,” he suggested, “That’s probably the wisest possibility.”

Emilie affirmed and continued looking over the images as Mark stepped closer slowly and hesitantly laid a hand on her chair. Although, Sil met eyes with him before he succeeded in doing it. Mark spine arched as Sil’s golden eyes locked with his and Emilie jumped turning around quickly. Emilie scowled, “How long were you standing there?” she questioned.

Mark gulped, with Sil staring at him, his fear was lodging itself in his throat. Stammering, he managed to choke on the worlds, “Five minutes at least,” Mark guessed as he saw the clock on the computer, reading eleven thirty-five. Mark didn’t dare say anything else with Sil so close, making it important that he didn’t speak to Sil.

Sil glanced back to Emilie a moment, then Emilie’s expression loosened and she smiled in spite, “Then you’ve been here long enough to know what our plan is,” she whispered for the night and turned back to the computer. Zooming out on the screen, the landscape became smaller and even the roads seemed to be thin lines on the ground like a bird’s eyes view. “We think that with just a few more details and our things packed, we might be able to pull this off tomorrow,” Emilie explained calmly. Slowly, Emilie looked back and met eyes with Mark, “that is…” she whispered, “if you’ll help us, Mark,”

Terrified of an invitation to help with Sil, Mark hesitated, but nodded, feeling immediately stupid afterwards. As if knowing what he was thinking, Sil flared his eyes blue at Mark, “the last Shadow to pass through the shield died,” he threatened.

Emilie took the words out of Sil’s mouth, “If you can take us through safely, it won’t be terribly difficult with all our powers to get away quickly.”

“Shouldn’t you just be asleep,” another voice appeared. They all looked to see Elise, groggily awoken by their chatter, but she saw what was on the computer and sighed, “If you want that plan to work, we’re all going to have to get some sleep!” she insisted softly, in a motherly manner.

Kimberly should’ve gone home at nine o’clock, but she ended up staying late to make sure Sil would not be caught on the security cameras, but even after he was successful, she couldn’t help but keep an ear on their conversation. Kimberly erased the data caught of Sil sneaking out, and proceeded to erase the conversation, but in spite towards Keller, she set the replay system to twenty-four hours previous so that if the Shadows did escape tomorrow, there would be no recorded evidence.

It would merely provide them some cover, in order to pull this off, they would undoubtedly need Hope, whether Mark was ready or not.

 

October 28, 2030

Morning came to the ASH on Mark’s third day. Mark managed to speak to Sil without getting hurt; on the other hand, Emilie did her best to stay away from Mark for some reason. When Mark tried to ask her what was wrong this time all she said was, “Pack your things, room 13-15 will be abandoned tonight,” sounding as if she had said that several times today.

During the outdoor hours, Mark spotted Elise walking across the yard with a heavy looking box in her arms. Taking on a helpful heart, Mark hurried over to give her a hand. She smiled merily at him and took out a smaller bin that was inside of the larger box handing the larger one to Mark, because he requested it. They walked over to a few picnic tables under the large tree in the center of the field.

Mark set the box down, and Elise dumped out the smaller one all over the table. When Mark saw the contents, he wanted to scoff, it was makeup. Mark could only imagine what Elise had planned with all this Mark peered into the larger box; it was filled with face-paints.

“By the time the Shadows see me setting up all this they’ll want me to get to work,” Elise handed the empty bin to Mark, “Could you fill this at the spigot?” Mark nodded and headed away.

While he was filling the small bin, he overheard the younger Shadows in the field singing. Their song seemed hopeful, but it seemed powerful as if they used their Shadow instead of instruments. Mark could hear the lyrics from far off, but in his heart he felt them and their meaning, in the same way he felt his Shadow in his heart when he used it.

A day becomes of sorrows and great joys,” the first line harmonized with the Shadows, “Light of day, Dark of hope, changing to every living heart. A heart’s power is free. It has been from long ago. Still when the heart’s only Strength is gone.” The song built without rhyme, and without a need for poetic structure, “Come now, come, think not, of your Shadow or Heart, our Trust will bring you safe, our Trust will bring you rest, our Trust will bring us out.”

Ocie broke into Mark’s hypnotism, “For your Shadow, you seem to like water as much as I do,” Mark beamed dazedly as he listened to the singing and Ocie giggled at him.

“What,” Mark didn’t see her come up to him, nor did he know what she was talking about, then he looked down at the bin seeing it was overflowing and had drenched his hands.

Ocie giggled again, “Here,” she placed her hands on Mark’s, absorbing the water effortlessly with her Shadow, “I can absorb all the water I want, then use it later,” she explained brightly as Mark stood up. He thanked her quickly then hurried back over to Elise.

Elise smiled and giggled also, “Finally, you looked like you were in some other world,” Elise placed the bin on the table, broke out her brushes, and set up the paints. She put her hands on Mark’s shoulders forcing him to sit down. “Hold still I want to do you before they start forming lines,” she wet her brush in the water, and then swished it around in red paint.

Mark felt uncomfortable and tried hard not to show it, “Um… Elise, why do you have make-up with your paints?”

Elise concentrated closely at her paints and brushes; she opened one of the eye-shadow containers, and used an eyedropper to wet the red colored powder. “Sometimes it matches the skin tone better, makes it more direct. Now hold still, close your eyes,” she demanded in a sweet voice.

She touched the brush to Mark’s closed eye-lid, it was cold and tickled a little, but Mark managed not to open his eyes as long as Elise was at it. Mark felt Elise stop a moment, and peeked out of his left eye, she was switching colors. Mark closed his eye and she continued with her masterpiece. She stopped again a few moments later, and this time Mark didn’t open his eyes to see what she was doing, but the next thing he knew was a cold wind was blowing directly at his closed eyes. Elise had called over a Shadow called Breeze, who was sixteen; her name was Brianna, the Shadows just called her Breezi which made sense, in a way. The cold wind stopped and Breezi went away, Mark still sat at the picnic table with his eyes closed.

“Okay Mark, you can open your eyes now,” Elise said. Mark opened his eyes and looked at Elastica bewildered. She held a mirror up to Mark, he peered into it and his expression turned even more bewildered. Mark’s eyes were darkened with black paint and powder changing the appearance of his face some, and lining his eyelids were dark red flames painted. Gazing dumbly, Mark could only stare captivated by fear held in his own eyes. It was perfect but it was terrifying.

“What do you think?” Elise said warmly, ready for opinion.

Mark didn’t look up at her but answered nonetheless, “That’s amazing!” he awed, Elise remained grinning, Mark looked up at her, “you’re really good!” he complemented.

“Go on say it again, most Shadows say the exact same thing,” Elise swished her brush though the reddened water then stroked it through a paper towel.

Mark stood up and looked straight into Elise’s sapphire blue eyes, “Whoa!” he said finally, “I honestly hoped you wouldn’t do a rainbow or a flower like my little sister, June.” She looked at him oddly confused, Mark sighed, “Meaning you did a really good job,” Elise smile never faded.

Elise smiled warmly at Mark for a few moments longer, finding even to her Mark reminded her of that reclusive Shadow they all missed. Something about Mark constantly led them back to that thought not just in his powers, but to Elise it seemed to also be a charm about him that he had come to the ASH for a reason. What that reason was, no once seemed quite sure, in fact Mark was growing increasingly suspicious of the connection he had to the Shadows which he was unaware of.

Mark thanked Elise gladly and once again took a glance into the mirror his heart beat a little faster with each second he gazed at his reflection, seeing his darkened eyes surrounded by flames licking at his eyelashes. But more so, Mark saw that his eyes were cherry crimson bright and powerful, holding a paralyzing sense. Mark watched only a little longer while Shadows crowded around Elise in fun like all their lives were a game.

How could the Shadows be so happy in this prison? Mark thought as he stepped away from the group. Elise began painting the face of a very young boy, a child who had grown up so far cut off from the rest of the world as all Shadows had. Mark counted the beats of his heart as he saw how desperately the Shadows needed to be free. Tripping in a step, Mark reached the sidewalk and realizing he was backing away he hastily turned and ran back into the ASH.

Hurriedly Mark made his way down the stairs into the ASH and up a flight back to the room. Mark paid little attention to his surroundings nor the flickering scarlet flames trailing from his hands. Mark jumped startled gazing down at his hands while striding quickly. He stopped short seeing the blaze at his fingertips which he could barely even feel, it was hot, he knew that in his mind but as a sense perception he could not feel the heat as pain.

Mark’s eyes widened as he stared into the flames, his breathing accelerated, and his heartbeat raced in his chest. Continuing down the hall Mark gazed into his hands terrified. Colliding with someone suddenly, Mark found himself face to face briefly with Emilie, but he dismissed her and ran to room 13-15. He dreaded the elevator but entering the room alone he found a sense of relief that he was in peace.

In the middle of the room, Mark fell to his knees nearly in tears, he let out a low growl in frustration uttering out, “Why!?” in the silence, nothing responded to his plea which was heard by no one. Mark’s hands blazed hotter as he looked up through the sky light, “What did I do to deserve this!?” he shouted holding his flaming hands to his heart, “Why Me?!” he cried.

Mark looked at his flaming hand again, and his anger grew, swinging his arm up at the ceiling he released fire burning and destroying a ceiling panel so that it fell down burning and filling the room with smoke. Mark watched it, burning with his fire until the flame sustained itself and turned to real fire. Figuring it out Mark balled up the flames so that their intensity grew into an orb which he threw at another ceiling panel so it to fell to the floor.

“I have a life!” Mark insisted with only himself, “Why do I have to care about the Shadows!? Why am I one of them!?” he shouted not denying in the slightest that he did care about the Shadows. They were people imprisoned for no crimes, racism worse than any recorded events simply because these people were different. In Mark’s mind he saw Kip, Sil, Ocie, Rita, Elise, and so many others with their powers living ignorant of the world outside.

Kip, Mark thought as tears now dripped from his eyes, the boy was the same age as Mark, they were so similar, and yet Kip had never seen the places Mark had been, much less left the walls of the ASH. Kip would likely give anything to leave the ASH, Mark cried in despair, “But what can I do?!” Mark demanded sending off another blast of fire.

As another ceiling panel fell, Mark found that the room was filled with smoke. Mark realized, he was breathing the smoke, but not even smoke could harm him! Mark heard the door open, but through the thick smoke he could not see who it was.

Mark’s hands glowed in the opacity of the smoke, unaware of who had entered the smoke or who had disturbed his solitude; the first he had received since he had arrived. Coming through the smoke, Emilie scanned the thickness for any light or movement, “Mark?” she called concerned.

Having run into Mark in the hallway, Emilie realized her worry for her cousin, since Mark had been so keen to caring for her, she thought it merely duty to at least find out what was troubling Mark. Emilie spotted Mark’s silhouette in the smoke and slowly moved towards him. Mark slowly stepped towards her but quickly Emilie’s eyes widened as she fully made out the imagery around Mark’s eyes.

Emilie jumped back into the air the moment she made out the bright crimson color of his eyes charging at her suddenly. Another ceiling panel fell and she dropped to the ground in terror. She could only remember small blotches of the time, what felt to her like hours, when it was really only seconds that Mark’s eyes came to her.

Mark knelt down to the floor hastily and took her shoulders to look into her face. To Mark’s astonishment she was weightless and easy to take to her feet where Mark proceeded to shake her as she was unresponsive to his repetitive pleas. “Emilie, look at me!” he demanded.

Emilie’s mind came back to reality startled as she hastily wrenched herself from Mark’s grip flying backwards several paces, “Don’t Touch Me!” she shouted furiously.

Mark tensed stepping back with his hands still outstretched to hold her. Silence filled his heart as he despaired and looked down to the floor where the burning panels laid. Mark’s heart sank and he turned away from Emilie as the smoke cleared away.

Sighing Emilie grimaced, seeing how her reaction had struck Mark so hard. Hesitating, Emilie tied her hands together gravely, “I’m sorry, Mark,” she whispered.

Mark returned his gaze to her slowly and gulped in his fear to move forward, “Just stay away from me,” he rejected her.

Tensing, Emilie’s lightning green eyes flared, “Mark!” she raised her voice reeling forward in the air. Mark turned away from her and walked over to his bed. “You’re Shadow Hope!” she shouted across the room.

Stopping, Mark fully faced her and stared silently, his eyes flared, piercing deep into her heart as he whispered, “What?”

Emilie flew over to Mark hastily, “You are the Exodus of the Shadows!” she revealed taking his hands, “You, Mark, that’s why you’re here, you are meant to free us!” Circling him in the air while holding his hands, Emilie urged him, “I don’t know how else to say it… you’re perfect…”

Mark seized Emilie’s wrist sending her off through the air in her weightlessness, “I’m not a perfect Shadow!” she insisted with her again walking towards the open area of the room, “But I am a Shadow,” he accepted the fact.

Emilie floated down to him insisting, “But you can free us, you just have to try Mark. Please,” she begged.

Again Mark seized Emilie this time by the shoulders firmly, “Emilie!” he shouted at her flaring his deep crimson eyes to burn inside her heart, “Just because I’m a Shadow like you doesn’t mean I am anything like your kind!”

Emilie tried hard to turn her face and look away, his eyes pierced her thoughts and spoke to her in a voice that scared her to the bone, “You’re one of us, you’re my… family, both Shadows and blood…” she pleaded, “if you accepted it this wouldn’t be so hard!” she promised him.

Mark released her and again strode away to his bed on the other side of the room, “don’t try to convince me…” he whispered. Stepping back, Emilie found herself returning to the elevation petrified by his crimson gaze. Mark only looked back once more with his eyes burning into her heart as he finished softly and mostly through the Realm. I already agree with you.

The elevator doors closed on Emilie enveloping her in empty air without the thick scent of smoke. Leaning against the wall, Emilie slid down to the floor feeling her heart now beating as fast as Mark’s was in fear. Sitting there, utterly horrified, Emilie gazed forward with the thoughts of Mark’s voice reverberating in her mind. Had she been wrong to tell Mark? She wasn’t sure but it was very clear he had not taken it well.

Mark looked around the room seeing the burning ceiling panels and blackened burned patches on almost every surface. Mark stepped into the bathroom in front of the mirror where he had first gotten to know Kip. Gazing into the mirror before him, Mark fixated on the deep, mesmerizing color in his eyes. They were terrifying, glowing like coals which burned continually.

With his fear growing in his heart Mark gazed down at this hands, “The more I use this power, the more it’s going to consume me…” he whispered distraught. Mark held his shoulders, “This isn’t fair!” he grieved. Mark mind returned to his family, what would they think of him if he ever saw them again?

Looking forward again, Mark watched his eyes flare as he often saw the other Shadows’ eyes do. It was true he was one of them, but no matter how many times he acknowledged the fact the harder it became for him to accept it. Mark vanished into the Realm enveloped instantly by the darkness, without a sense of space and matter, his very form floated in the endless void. He was a form of fire, brighter than when he last saw it traveling deeper into the emptiness every moment he spent here.

Mark… a voice echoed from the blackness into his mind, he did not hear it, he felt the creature which addressed him for its power and wisdom. Mark looked around the Realm for the Shadow who had addressed him but he could neither see nor feel another’s presence. Looking in all directions Mark heard it again, sweet, gentle, but strong. Mark…

Thinking broadly, Mark searched his heart for the way to confront the being addressing him. Here I am.

Silence returned for a few moments and Mark began to see the creature who was speaking to him. An air of reverence flowed out from Mark’s heart as the form of the being became visible. It was dark, flowing with violet garments, and dark hair of Shadows blacker than that in the real world. Mark could not see its face for to him, meeting eyes with this Shadow was too high an honor for even him.

Mark fell deeper into the Realm so that he was far below the creature before it said anything more to him. The Shadow held compassion for him, knowing his mistakes, his short comings, everything thing about him so that he could find no excuse. I Am the Shadow Trust, it spoke with a voice unlike any Mark had heard, not masculine or feminine, not in a language that could be uttered but in thoughts, caring feelings which Mark understood in his heart.

The Shadow Trust gave Mark comfort with a tone in the Realm, I Am the one who gave you this gift, for the price of your service. I feel the bitterness in your heart, and I know your sorrow.

Mark tensed feeling the presence of the Shadow in his heart working through his senses and helping him. Mark fought himself to look at the creature, desperately, he demanded, What do you want with me?!

The creature’s utter supremacy restricted Mark from denying it anything, he gazed down at Mark in reprimand for that tone in the Realm and explained gracefully, Throughout this Generation of Shadows, I have seen the suffering of my Shadows, I have heard their cries, I have listened to their pleas. Mark mind clouded with the pain all Shadows felt but suppressed to live in the ASH feeling as this Shadow did for the Shadows. The Shadow Trust took Mark’s gaze firmly so that Mark looked into its eyes seeing they were deep indigo with power. Mark possessed eyes with similar power, but not nearly as fortuitous as this being.

So, now, I have decided the day for them to be freed from their prison, not merely from the ASH but from the world that holds them back. For I have made them for a greater purpose… the Shadow echoed understandings of this to Mark, so that he could not question.

Therefore, the Shadow lowered itself deep into the Realm, so that Mark could see it more fully, in order to make the world see this purpose, I have chosen you, to take them out and confront those who restrict you. The creature allowed Mark to look upon him and see the pain in its eyes while its Shadows were suppressed.

Mark lost eye contact with the Shadow trust, lost in this world, and the world of the Shadows, But… he protested, who am I to do this?! He demanded, You kept me hidden from the Shadows until now, why do you pull me up now and demand my best, I have no status to you, why would you lower yourself to beg help from someone like me.

The Shadow Trust raised itself far above Mark I do not stoop, who was it who chose and designed all Shadows? The Shadow took the form of Fire, a fiery pillar, growing larger than the Realm could contain enveloping Mark fully. Who made your heart to wait until now? Who made your Shadow to amount to more than you even know now? Mark hid his face as the voice echoed all around him terrified by the fortitude the Shadow possessed over him. Did not I? I am the Shadow, the creature which chose you, and raised you up according to my purposes!

Mark held his heart for the feelings being placed in him welling and overflowing from him. Mark… the Shadow whispered to comfort his fear, I have already given you the power to do all I ask, if I had not I would not have chosen you. If you Trust me to empower you, I will guide you to succeed in this purpose.

The creature raised Mark up in the real to a place of high status, Mark… go, and do all I ask, and never forget that you are a Shadow, therefore I am with you, to guide you, wherever you are! Slowly the creature drifted away from and into the darkness of the Realm vanishing from him.

Mark left the Realm staring into the mirror before him, his eyes glowed with an enchanting cherry which now seemed… less violent, less terrifying and more powerful. Mark glanced to his left at the door and sighed, he knew what he had to do, he still had a hint of reluctance but he was determined now. He knew now that if and when his own strength failed he only needed trust.

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