Author: Demon Llama Nerd PM
AU to "Soulbound". When young Iris flees the home of her "tribe" and arrives at the library, her new life seems perfect and she feels ready to leave the past behind. But her ruthless leader is out to get her back and soon, Iris will have to fight for her new freedom and for the lives of her new clan. "Once you're in the Tribe, you're in it for life."Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - 3 & 7 - Chapters: 28 - Words: 44,663 - Reviews: 42 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 04-19-13 - Published: 11-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8747593
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Much like Chapter 8, this chapter's kind of the build-up to its successor, which is much more long and important.
So, anyway, this chapter shows the guys back at the library going out to look for 7 but all they can find is her spear. Iris finds an arrow that Rosaline forgot to pick up and immediately realises what happened. She blames herself for the situation but then, 3 asks her to explain her past to everyone.
…Yeah, you guessed it! Said explanation will be on the table next time. And yes, I just HAD to stick a line from 1 in there when Iris guilt-trips herself.
Iris' POV in this chapter. RAR and enjoy!Chapter 10Iris' POV
I was in 7 and 9's cupboard, looking through the many pieces of paper scattered the latter's desk and chair. As it had turned out, they were all old drawings and most of them were scenes from nightmares that 9 had had.
In one, a snake machine with an old man's corpse sewn onto her tail was constricting a huge, much-younger man who was about the same size as Corin (height-wise, I mean).
In another, another old man was lying on the ground, his face partially covered by a cape and the hat on his head askew. His left hand (which looked somewhat like Gertrude's by design) was horribly mangled and he was very clearly dead.
And, in yet another, a small, stripy boy was kneeling with a burning cathedral in the background and he was surrounded on all sides by fire. His terrified expression looked so real it wasn't funny.
But most of the drawings seemed to be of 7, a guy who looked like a male version of Viola or one or both of the twins being burned, maimed, blown up, drowned or attached to a machine in some way.
The most horrific one, however, was of the Viola look-alike being held in a large, round machine's grasp as energy beams shot out from a metal object attached to said machine. The beams connected themselves to his right eye, the spot where his left eye had once been and his mouth and they seemed to take something out of him through those places.
I deduced then that the men I didn't know in these drawings were the five who had died and that whatever had happened to them had greatly affected the survivors.
Considering how 9 wasn't getting hurt or killed in any of these drawings, I guessed that he blamed himself for the deaths and for his family's grief.
Among the nightmarish drawings, however, were a few happier ones. These included younger versions of the twins chasing each other and 7, spear in hand with one foot upon a rock, wearing a bird skull on her head with a feather cape blowing in the wind.
"Iris, where are you?" 9 called from somewhere outside. "Could you get your tuning fork and come out here for a moment, please?" I put down the drawing in my hand, grabbed my tuning fork off the bed and dashed out of the cupboard.
9 and the twins were waiting for me on the fenceless side of the pool. 9 was holding a long stick that had a tealight in a small, glass case that he'd made himself attached to it.
"What's up?" I asked. "What do you need me for?"
"The twins and I are going out to find 7," 9 said to me. "Would you be able to come with us?"
"Of course, I would," I replied. "But what do we need to go out and find 7 for? And where is she, anyway?"
"She went out for a walk this morning but she told me she'd try to be home before dark. So, she should've been home just after sunset at the very latest. I'm getting worried."
Immediately, I was gripped by a feeling of intense dread and I was amazed at myself for being able to keep my face straight despite this. I knew it had been five days since I'd left the camp and if Rosaline hadn't been sent out yet, then Hamlet must've decided to try to be a better leader so no one else would run away.
"Oh, OK," I said to 9, barely forcing a smile. "Let's go, then." 9 nodded and we headed out of the library with him at the front, me at the back and the twins in the middle.
I couldn't help worrying that someone might see the light from 9's lantern but I just stayed quiet and kept my tuning fork tight in my hands. And, if Rosaline did happen to show up, I wouldn't run this time. Because this time, I would fight.
"Oh, no," 9 said softly. He ran ahead of us and crouched down, picking up a stick from the ground. We all got closer and I saw that it wasn't exactly a stick; it was 7's spear.
"3, 4," 9 started, "do you think that…maybe…there are still some machines out here that we missed?" The twins looked at each other, then at the spear, then at their adoptive father and then, at each other again. Finally, they just shrugged.
"No. No," I interjected, shaking my head furiously. "It's been three years since I've seen any machines around here. So, I kind of assumed they all died out long ago. And if there were any still around, they're bound to have shown themselves by now."
"Well, you're right there," 9 replied, standing up and leaving the lantern on the ground. "And yeah, the machines are all dead. We got rid of them all three years ago but it was a bit of a hollow victory because…" The look he'd given 7 when I'd first woken up in the cupboard came back and I nodded solemnly.
"Oh. I see." So, it was just as the drawings had suggested. It was the machines that had killed those five people. Had the deaths of both the machines and those five had something to do with the green lightning and the plants coming back?
I picked up the lantern and slowly rotated, shining the light around the clearing for a moment until I spotted a mass of footprints on the ground.
"Look there," I said to 9 and the twins, pointing at the footprints. "That's a sign of a struggle if I ever saw one. And, from the looks of it, it was another one of our kind 7 was fighting with." I suddenly realised what I'd just said and almost screamed out loud.
No, no, no, no, no, I thought. This can't be happening. It couldn't have been her. She couldn't have-no! 7 would've gotten away.
9, oblivious to my internal battle with myself, knelt within the circle of light surrounding the prints and carefully touched them with his fingertips.
"Yep. Some of our kind were struggling here, all right," he said. "And if 7 left her spear behind, then either she had to get away in a hurry or they…they…
"Anyway, the main problem is these footprints aren't fresh. They look like they were made quite a few hours ago at the very least. Plus, we can't tell which prints belong to who." He stood up and I nodded nervously at what he'd said.
We all started looking around the clearing to see if we could find any more clues after that. I was happy enough to look without the help of 9 or one of the twins, but I didn't need a light to see what was nestled between two small hills of rubble.
My heart racing, my eyes widening, imaginary sweat beading on my forehead, I picked up the arrow and started hyperventilating. It had been just as I'd suspected; Rosaline had been sent out. And she'd taken 7.
"What's wrong, Iris?" 9 asked from behind me. "What did you find?" Without a word, I handed the arrow to him over my shoulder and started backing in the direction of the library.
"Uh…3, 4, do you guys see anything wrong with this? Because I certainly don't." The twins took turns cataloguing the arrow but they just shrugged when they handed it back to their adoptive father.
Because only I knew what its presence here meant. Only I understood why we'd found it along with 7's abandoned spear. Only I could've reacted at the sight of it the way I had.
"She followed me," I said softly, staring at the ground. "Rosaline followed me…and she took her. This is all my fault. It's my fault."
"What?" 9 said. "What are you talking about?" I forced myself to look up at him, invisible tears stinging my eyes and making my vision blur.
"This is my fault. Mine," I told him. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You all went out of your way to welcome me into your home. And I repaid you by causing you to lose a wife and an adoptive mother."
"Iris, you're just talking rubbish and I really don't have time for stuff like that." 9 sounded cross. "So, you better start making sense. Right now."
"I didn't mean for any of this to happen." My voice wobbled and squeaked a little. "I swear to Christ, I didn't. A girl from my tribe was sent out to find me and bring me back. And she found 7. I should never have come. It's because of me that all this happened."
"Again, you're not making any sense. What do you mean a girl from your tribe found 7? What's this all about, Iris?" I shook my head and stared at the ground again, starting to back away from 9 and the twins.
"I should've seen this coming," I whimpered. "I'm sorry, you guys. I'm sorry I got you all into this." I raised my head and looked round them all briefly.
"Before I left, Old Gertrude spoke to me about courage," I told them. "She said courage takes a strong heart and a thinking head. And I didn't think!"
And, with that, I turned and ran back to the library.
Once I was back in my room, I knelt on the bed and slammed the side of my head against the wall a few times. Then, I flopped forward, buried my face in my pillow and began to sob.
Corin had been right all along; it had been stupid of me to come out here. And now, thanks to me, 9 and the twins would probably never see 7 again. Oh, wait! I'd probably gotten Corin killed, too! Not to mention, it was my fault Viola was one-eyed and bald for the rest of her life.
How could I have been so foolish? How could I have thought that finding another clan with Rosaline after me was a good idea? How could I ever have thought that I'd actually be able to live in peace while Hamlet was still alive?
Suddenly, a voice spoke to me in my head. But I didn't know who it belonged to. Was it 9's voice? Corin's? Hamlet's? 7's? My own? All I was certain of was that what the voice said was true;
You're a curse! A fool! Guided by pointless queries!
I suddenly became aware of someone entering my room and looked up. 3 was standing in the doorway but his face was expressionless and he didn't move.
"I'm sorry," I said, sitting up. But 3 just shook his head and helped me to my feet.
Still holding my hand, he led me out onto the elevator and took us down to where 4 and 9 were waiting in front of the twins' scrapbook.
3 stopped and turned round with a slight smile on his face. He let go of my hand and gestured to the space between 4 and 9 and the scrapbook.
Iris, he flickered, tell us your story.