AN: Yea, so, this this has sat on my desktop for far to long with me picking at it. This is as good as this chapter's gonna get, so I'm just gonna toss it out here. XD The whole story needs torn apart and re-written, but that's an adventure for another year. Hope you guys get some enjoyment out of this one!
Ritoceh's scream echoed in her ears. She'd never seen anyone react so badly to magic. His arm was a mess, fever and nausea overtook his system, and he couldn't even get an intelligible word out. Guilt ate at her, whispering how she was at fault.
They swam in silence, growing more awkward by the second. She cast suspicious glances to her "guards." Atem was swimming stiffly, his arm bandaged and wrapped tightly to his side. The other Cintal, Mahad was his name, swam silently ahead to direct their path.
"How is Ritoceh?" Her voice scratched like coral.
"Hnn." Atem looked pained. "Isis is with him now." There was a struggle to his words. Atem obviously wasn't too happy about it. "She will take good care of him."
Rebecca huffed in scorn. "Do your healers even know how to treat people?"
"Better than yours do." Atem snapped, instantly defensive. He rounded on her when she had the gall to look offended. "It's your fault he's like this in the first place! What the hell did you people do to him?!" He loomed over her, hands clenched tightly to his sides. "Yugi was perfectly healthy before your people took him! Now look at him!" His arms spread wide, emphasizing his words. "He was nearly dead when I got there! Dead! Whatever kind of spells you monsters put on him were killing him! And I-" he choked on his words, distressed nearly to tears. "I couldn't do anything about it…."
She stopped and looked at Atem—really looked at him. He was covered in all kinds of bruises, and the scratches on his arm were red with irritation.
"Let's get this straight." He loomed over her. His body flared with aggression. " I don't know you and I don't like you; but you helped me rescue Yugi. That is the only reason I'm not tearing you apart." He bristled, all straight backed and tense.
"Atem!" They flinched away from each other. "I will take her from here. Go wait for me in my study." Atem started to argue. "Go."
Clutching the tome to her chest, she stared at his back as Atem stormed off. She knew he had every right to be angry. His threat stung, and she shook under its weight.
"I apologize for his behavior, miss." Her other escort, Mahad, did not look apologetic.
"My name is Rebecca," she snapped, adrenaline fueling the bite to her words.
"My apologies, Rebecca." Unimpressed with her tone, Mahad swam ahead. "This way."
Few people paid them any attention as they move briskly from hallway to hallway. Rebecca was lost in her thoughts and only a little nervous when a stranger's gaze would linger their way. It was to be expected, and Mahad didn't pay her much mind. She was a lot braver than Atem gave her credit for.
She expected to be dragged away and tossed into the dirtiest dungeon they had. They weren't her allies, after all, even if she did help bring Atem back (and Ritoceh, by default). The very last thing she could have thought of would bring her to a respectable guest room.
"This will be your room for the time being," Mahad said, ushering her inside. "I will be back shortly to bring you some food. Please make yourself at home until then."
She watched with wonder as he closed the door behind him and left. There were no guards posted inside, no looming shadow to keep an eye on her. He just…dropped her off. Like a guest! She tested the door. Well, a guest in a locked room. It was still better than she expected. The Tome was still in her arms, and no one had made an attempt to take it from her. She'd just have to…wait it out.
True to his instructions, Mahad found Atem in his office, pushing food around the plate set before him. His head snapped up at Mahad's entrance, and he had the grace to look ashamed.
"I know what you are going to say," he defended before Mahad had even taken a breath. "I just…couldn't stop myself."
"All is well," Mahad sat down in his chair. "Your mind is raw after such an ordeal. And the girl wasn't behaving any better." He scribbled some notes down. "We will get things sorted out in time."
"How is Yugi?" Atem's voice was hesitant. He hadn't heard about him all day, and it made him greatly nervous.
"He's resting," Mahad assured him, "peacefully, at the moment. Isis says it needs to stay that way."
Atem grimaced. "I should be with him." Mahad gave no indication of agreement or otherwise.
"You need to worry about yourself for a while." Seth stalked into the room. "Driving yourself into an early grave won't do any good. Isis was very clear. You are not to go anywhere near Yugi's room until she okay's it."
Grumpily, Atem settled in the chair. Isis's word was law; as much as he was loathe admitting it. He was wound tight, anxious, and felt like everything would fall apart if he sat still for too long.
"What am I going to do?" His voice was soft, and a thread's width shy of desperate. "I can't just, not see him." He ran his fingers over the Kroshi. Surely, it would be best for them to be together? He could…he would be more careful next time. He wouldn't push.
"You will do as Isis says," Mahad spoke sternly, but softly. "You need rest just as much as Yugi does."
"And a bath," Seth added. "I know you've been under lock and key for a while, so your…current stench is excusable. It won't be tolerated now that you have the option of cleaning up."
"Ask her again tomorrow, if you must. She is very adamant about you two recovering." Mahad sympathetically patted his shoulder.
"Besides, we need to decide what to do with the Muerin girl." Seth picked a bit of dirt out from under his nails. "Leaving her in a guest room will only hold for so long. People will get curious, especially since she isn't bonded to anyone."
"What will we tell them? That she defected?" Mahad looked thoughtful. "That book she has is worrisome, too. It didn't feel natural."
"She knows magic." Atem held his face in his hands. "Knocked out the guards and opened the cell without a key."
"She could be a spy," Seth offered. "But why get Yugi here, after they put all that effort into keeping him there? There are easier ways to go about it."
"What do they even want with him in the first place," Atem snarled. "He's human. He has no ties to their culture or beliefs. There was too much effort in changing him and brain-washing him for this to be some petty whim."
Mahad intervened when the silence stretched on. "It is too soon to pass judgement. I have books on their beliefs I can consult for their reasoning. The answer may lie with Rebecca, but as we stand now we can't believe what she says." He looked at Atem, curled in on the chair with dark circles under his eyes. "Regardless, we all need rest, Atem especially. I will keep an eye on the girl until we know what to do with her. Magic or not, she won't get past my spells."
This was unbelievable! So many spells and rituals lost to time were confined in those pages. There were passages about the magical properties of certain species, how to change one's physical appearance, and spells on how to conjure monsters and familiars! Curled up in a corner of her "guest room," Rebecca flipped through the Tome. She needed to read as much as possible in case they tried to take it from her.
Why wasn't this book better guarded? She wondered, as she turned another page. It would be way too easy to militarize this information. Most of these spells only needed one person with enough will power to use them. Imagine if a Cintal got a hold of this book! They could wreak so much havoc with a conjured monster! Anyone could have grabbed it. It was just lying there on the pedestal!
The question remained. Why did Dartz have it? Such tomes had been banned for decades. The spells all required bits of a soul, or blood sacrifice. Dartz was even on the council when they passed the law! Why would this book even still exist?
"Hm? What's this?" A tiny, flat piece of stone was wedged between some pages. Thin enough to be some sort of bookmark. There were several notches on one side, bundled into groups of five. In itself, the stone wasn't so outstanding, and it paled in comparison to what was on the pages it marked.
Thick, black lines illustrated a monstrous beast. Serpentine in shape, with fangs and sharp spines to scare even the bravest of warriors, it could only be a demon from the Great Deep! She'd heard stories of them before; horror stories and tales of caution to those who dealt too heavily in magic.
Nervously, she ran her fingers across the page. The dark letters indented the paper, as if written by a heavy hand. They—as with the rest of the book—were written in a language unfamiliar to her, but there was no green light to translate it. Strange, she mused. The other pages translated just fine.
There were smaller illustrations along the bottom of this page. Three beasts with wings instead of fins, and each had a spear through their chests. And there was what appeared to be a shining stone, colored with green ink instead of black, floating in the margin.
"But what does it mean?" She stared long and hard at the descriptions of the great beast. It looked… familiar. She had to have heard of it before. "Stupid book," she grumbled. "How come you can show me everything else, but not this page? It had to be marked for a reason." The large letters at the top of the page wavered, and she focused her attention on them. Maybe they could change through sheer force of will?
"Lee…via…thn?" Dread settled in the pit of her stomach. Leviathan. Tales of death and destruction followed that word. A creature called from the depths of hell, rising only to consume everything in its path. It was the most evil of creatures, and its name was the most severe curse.
She pulled her hands away of the page, as if stung. The Great Leviathan had been called forth only once, a very long time ago. It had nearly brought about the end of the world!
However…if Dartz was planning something—this was his book—Rebecca could only imagine the malice involved. The Levianthan wasn't a creature to be pointed at adversaries. It would take out everyone, enemy and ally alike. Everything would be swallowed up by the Great Leviathan!