*hides away* I'm really really sorry guys, I simply couldn't write after my last update. There were just too many projects and essays going on, all my energy for the story was sapped and my inspiration to write for this story went under 0%. And I've gotten so many beautiful reviews since and I kept telling myself to have the decency to reply but alas I couldn't and kept forgetting, again and again to the point I was to embarassed to reply. Know that I've read every single of the reviews and I've smiled, blushed, grinned or even cried over them. Thank you every single person who took the time to write something and to write their genuine feelings about this story. It really touches me deeply and makes my heart warm. I would suppose the inspiration to write kept being sparked by reminders of people telling me how much they liked my story and hoped I would continue it, some of you even nervously asking if the story was discontinued.
I can't discontinue this story. Sure it will take longer and longer to update the story thanks to my university and my active life on tumblr. (I seriously never expected the critique blog to get so much positive feedback, I've had to close submissions since I got flooded by so many people wanting to have their OCs critiqued) Now of course, I can't let this story be unfinished. I just can't. I've put three years of work into this, I am bloody well going to finished this story! So it might take many months, but rest assured that I am not letting this story die without a conclusion.
Life is just being a bit difficult with all the things going on. I've entered the program Zoology and from the looks of the timetable, I will be constantly working every week from 9 am to 5 pm. And I will be applying for a work placement so that I will go somewhere to work which will give me more experience and perhaps put me into the Master's Degree program. (right now I am aiming for a Bachelor's)
But I will try all my best to finish the story. I just hope no one gets absolutely fed up with me or note a decline in my writing style. Those are my main fears, sorry. Other than that, I hope you enjoy this chapter and will await the next chapter with excitement. ^^
With the morning sun peeking over the horizon, Scotland and America arrived at Ireland's house, the American carrying the deeply asleep England on his back. America couldn't help but bite back a yawn when the two nations approached the door, the night had been long and very eventful. Too eventful if America wanted to be honest.
Scotland barely managed to reach for the door handle when the door was swiftly yanked open by a stressed-looking Ireland. America could have sworn that Ireland looked more tired now than the last time he saw him awake.
Ireland hurriedly hissed, "Alba, please don't tell me you're serious."
Casting an uncertain glance at America, Scotland turned his attention back to Ireland and gravely replied, "I wish I could say I wasn't serious but I am."
The Irish nation sighed heavily and stepped back, allowing Scotland and America to enter the house. While Scotland proceeded to fill Ireland in on what he had learnt from the Great Selkie leader, America made his way to the living room where he carefully placed England on the couch. He took a blanket off the couch and laid it on England, watching the sleeping nation silently for a few seconds before he heard a doorbell.
When America had come back to the front hall, Ireland had already opened the door to let in Isle of Man. All three Gaelic nations had begun to hurriedly discuss something in a language America couldn't understand at all, much to his annoyance. He hesitated slightly before asking tiredly, "Can you talk in a language where I can follow you?"
The three Celtic nations turned to face the American as they fell silent and then Scotland apologised, "Sorry America, I was just explaining the situation to Ireland and Mann… although I don't know how Mann caught wind about the possibility that we're dealing with a Fuath-"
"I called him," Ireland interrupted, causing Scotland to turn to him as the Irish nation added quickly, "After you sent me that message about Sasana's dark voice being possibly a Fuath in origin, I called Mann so that he could come here with the necessary books."
"What books?" A new voice sounded from Ireland's kitchen, everyone turning around to see a sleepy Australia half-staggering out of the kitchen. He bit back a wide yawn, he had been probably dozing off in the kitchen. America was struck by a wet grass smell coming from him, a nice exchange to the wet dog smell Australia had last the American saw him. Australia must have found a way to get rid of the dog smell.
Ireland explained with a slight sigh, "I was explaining to you all that in the kitchen but I suppose you really were not paying attention…"
Australia chuckled, "Sorry mate, but I am dead tired. My eyes are constantly closing, it's really hard not to want to give in to temptation and sleep."
"Well at this point we've pretty much screwed up our sleeping patterns," America joked, letting out a tired laugh.
Isle of Man nudged Ireland silently, causing the Irish nation to turn his head towards him and Isle of Man quickly removed that backpack he had been wearing and opened it to reveal to Ireland the books he had asked for. Ireland nodded and said with an exhausted smile, "Okay fantastic, you found the books."
"What're they for?" America questioned curiously.
"Those are books that talk about the Fuath," Ireland explained, "Fuaths are actually really rare creatures, on top of them being difficult to meet due to their dislike of us and humans. So I've asked Mann to bring over books that discuss the exact locations of their packs so that we might track them down."
"There must be less than two dozens of packs last I checked, if other packs haven't gone extinct since. They can die out so easily…," Isle of Man added quietly as he begun making his way to the kitchen with his backpack. The other nations followed him into the kitchen quietly as Isle of Man was taking out the books and placing them on the table.
"Whereabouts are these packs?" Australia asked, unable to resist yawning in tiredness.
Scotland chipped in, "Mostly around Ireland's place, we'll be concentrating there but also keep our options open around my place and perhaps even Mann's place. We don't know if the packs have recently shifted places, but it is certain that we'll certainly find more of them in Ireland."
"The question is really to lock down on these folklore and accounts and try to identify the most likely places of where the few remaining Fuath dens are," Isle of Man mumbled quietly as he placed the last books on the table.
The Australian approached the table and looked at the books curiously, frowning a bit as he pointed out, "Those books aren't in English."
Isle of Man quirked a small smile as he answered, "Most of the accounts are either in Irish, Scots-Gaelic or Manx. There are a few English accounts but they're more recent and don't have the details we're looking for to identify a den of Fuaths."
"So what are we supposed to do?" America questioned, clearly neither Australia nor he could participate in this since they couldn't understand the languages.
"Rest up. Gather your energy. That's the best you can do for now," Ireland explained, "Wales, Brittany and Cornwall will join us as soon as we've identified the dens and then we'll discuss together what we will do next. Alright?"
Both America and Australia nodded simultaneously, understanding that there wasn't much else they could do. After such an exhausting night of searching, America more than needed to have a shut-eye. Australia didn't look too much better, yawning widely again.
Ireland smiled tiredly and proceeded to nudge the two younger nations out of the kitchen into the living room, closing the door to the kitchen behind them. America and Australia glanced at each other briefly but America was becoming too tired to formulate words.
The American made his way over to the couch where England was asleep and collapsed on it heavily, taking care not to sit on the smaller nation. He let out a sigh and a yawn soon followed, he could barely keep his eyes open. He saw Australia claim the other unoccupied couch, lying on his back as he closed his eyes.
America mumbled sleepily as he leaned back and closed his eyes, "In a few hours?"
"See ya then mate," Australia replied, his voice barely audible to America.
"You smell like wet grass," America let out a weak chuckle.
There was such a long pause following that remark that America assumed the Australian was already gone when he heard a low grumble, "…I hope you dream of marmite."
A few hours later America jolted awake, a little groggy from sleep and not knowing what had woken him. Then he heard voices, new voices coming from the kitchen… his sleep-addled mind recognized one of them as Wales'. The voice were quite loud, it sounded like an argument was going on.
America yawned widely as he stretched his aching arms, his joints cracking. He stood up from the couch and looked around the living room. England was still fast asleep on the couch but the other couch was visibly empty.
Stumbling groggily towards the kitchen, America nudged open the half-closed kitchen door to see what the fuss was all about. When he stepped into the kitchen, he saw that Ireland and Wales were having a rather fierce argument between each other while Scotland, Isle of Man and two avatars America wasn't very familiar with chipped in their opinions. Australia was leaning against a counter not far from the table, looking both tired and quite miserable. It seemed like the arguing sibling nations had woken the Australian up.
"There you go mates, you're arguing so loudly that you've woken America up, who usually sleeps like a log. Do you want to try and wake England up now?" Australia pointed out loudly, trying to raise his voice over the squabbling nations.
Both Ireland and Wales fell silent, Ireland casting an exhausted glance towards America while Wales continued glaring at the Irish nation. Wales concluded in a firm voice, "You are not taking England to any Fuath dens and that's final."
Ireland looked back at Wales and protested, "And how will we know for sure Sasana has a Fuath inside of him if we can't get the Fuaths to check him?!"
"But it is much too dangerous to bring England near Fuaths, what if they turn on us and attack?" Cornwall agreed, "Do we have any certainty that we can keep him safe from them? You always said that Fuaths were volatile and unpredictable, that they could quickly become violent."
"Yes but is a risk we have to take," Scotland argued insistently, looking a bit frustrated by Wales' and Cornwall's resistance.
"Like the risk you took with the cliff?" America questioned, biting back a large yawn. He was still not fully rested and was a bit moody from the lack of sleep. It was only thanks to the noise of the other nations that he was awake…
"What cliff?" Wales demanded quickly, looking between America and Scotland with narrowed eyes.
Scotland shot a warning glare at America, colouring a bit in the cheeks as he stiffly replied, "That doesn't matter for now, we have to focus on our current issue. Not that there is an issue really, we just have to take England with us!"
"Where are their dens?" Australia asked, sighing irritably. Seemed to America that the Australian also wished to return to a peaceful slumber… but as long as this argument wasn't resolved, no one was going to get a wink of sleep.
"They're all in caves deep underwater, so we already have the issue with England not being able to swim," Wales muttered lowly, looking down at the table. America followed his gaze and saw maps strewn all over the surface of the table, each map having crosses marked on them. Presumably those were the dens the Celtic nations had found?
"Look, why don't we use some kind of bubble spell so that England-" Scotland began suggesting before being cut off.
"Magic is out of the question!" Wales barked, looking at Scotland fiercely, causing Scotland to shrink back in surprise.
Brittany explained with a cough, "It might not be the best idea since magic spells can go wrong and you're talking of casting a spell on someone who not only can't swim, but is also afraid of the water and you want to take him into the sea."
Ireland demanded in exasperation, "But what should we do then?"
"How about…," America started saying, causing everyone to look at him. He swallowed heavily and continued, "How about we leave England outside with someone while the others go into the water to check the Fuath dens and then ask one to come out to check England over?"
The other nations were silent, contemplating America's suggestion. It was the most logical suggestion they had heard until now…
"But Fuaths don't like coming to the surface that often," Ireland pointed out sadly, "the sunlight is poisonous to them, even potentially fatal." He sat down at the table, looking thoughtful.
Brittany let out a light laugh, "Ireland, when is your place ever sunny?"
Australia chuckled as he agreed, "It think that's a good point, you mostly have bleak and grey days mate."
Wales was looking at America with narrowed eyes, turning to completely face him as he questioned sarcastically, "And let me guess, you were hoping to appoint yourself that particular person who would stay with England?" The Welsh nation crossed his arms, awaiting America's answer.
America was a bit taken aback by Wales' attitude and tone, but he quickly brushed it off as Wales being just cranky from tiredness. Everyone was dead tired after all, they all needed sleep. America nodded as he took a step towards Wales, insisting, "I think it could work out, don't you think? England trusts me so I could stay outside with him."
The Celtic nation frowned darkly and opened his mouth to say something just as he got jabbed in the side by Brittany. She gave him a warning glance and the Welsh nation begrudgingly stepped down. America wasn't too certain what this silent exchange was all about but honestly he had other things to worry about.
"What do you think?" America asked, turning to look at Ireland and Scotland.
Scotland was scratching his chin, looking like he was agreeing with America's idea. He sat down on the chair beside Ireland and nudged the tired Irish nation, questioning quietly, "We could split into groups, we take America and England with us, Isle of Man takes Cornwall and Wales takes Brittany and Australia with him. Then we can check your coasts out while Isle of Man checks his and I think Wales would be able to check my coasts for Fuath dens. That sounds like a plan, doesn't it?"
Most of the other nations wore an expression of agreement, much to America's happiness. The only one who didn't seem to fully agree with the idea was Wales. He opened his mouth to protest when he was once again silenced by Brittany who gave him another warning glare. Sullenly the Welsh nation held his tongue.
Ireland bit back a yawn as he agreed, "I think that's a plan that could work…"
Cornwall asked, "Could I actually go with Wales instead?" He looked at Isle of Man apologetically but the Manx nation just shrugged, not seeming to mind.
"Then I could switch and go with Isle of Man," Brittany declared brightly.
Australia pushed away from the counter he was leaning against and said curiously, "Then I don't suppose anyone would mind if I came with Scotland and Ireland then, no?"
"Well I think the Fuaths living in Ireland are more hostile and unpredictable so I don't think it would be bad to have an extra person to help if something goes bad," Scotland agreed, smiling widely at the Australian.
"All in favour of this plan?" Ireland finally asked, looking at all the nations. When everyone nodded in agreement and raised their arm in confirmation, Ireland closed his eyes and concluded, "Then this is what we will do tomorrow. Or more correctly later today."
"Was about time we came to an agreement," Australia muttered, sounding relieved that the arguing was done for now. Some of the other nations hummed their agreement but at this stage everyone was about to fall over from tiredness.
Ireland nodded as he stood up from the table, adding, "Right now we should all get a few hours of sleep and wake up when we're near dusk. We have a greater chance of meeting the Fuaths and they won't have too much trouble coming outside."
"Good, I'm really tired." Wales yawned widely, stretching his arms.
"I think we'll all just about drop dead with tiredness," America joked lightly. While the others smiled or sighed in agreement at America's words, Wales shot him briefly a livid glare, just for Cornwall to intervene and jab him in this side with his elbow. Wales broke eye contact with America and stared the other way, his eyes narrowed.
America was deeply confused. What was Wales' problem with him?
A few hours later, with the sun high in the sky, the household was completely silent with avatars sleeping peacefully. To be accurate though, not exactly everyone was asleep.
Isle of Man opened his eyes sleepily as he heard a timid tapping on the window. The Manx avatar stood up from the couch, yawning slightly as he took care not to jostle the nations sleeping on the same couch. Isle of Man had shared the couch with Australia and Wales while America and England had slept on the other couch. Since Ireland only had two beds in his house, he was sharing one bed with Scotland while Brittany and Cornwall slept in the other bed.
The light tapping on the window continued behind the couch, sparking Isle of Man's curiosity. Walking quietly to the window, the Manx avatar opened the curtains slowly and closed his eyes as the sunlight blinded him for a few seconds. Once his eyes adjusted, he looked out the window to see who had been tapping on the window.
Hidden among the leaves of a bush in front of the window was a certain familiar red-haired teenager that Isle of Man recognized quite quickly. Seeing who it was, Northern Ireland crept out from the bush and closer to the window, looking wary.
Once Isle of Man had silently opened the window, the younger avatar muttered quietly, "I checked everyone else's homes and no one was in… are they all here?"
"Yes, we're all here now. You finally decided to come out of hiding?" Isle of Man asked in a low voice, a crooked smile appearing on his face.
Northern Ireland pouted slightly as he looked down at the ground, whispering, "Well I suppose I have been out of the loop for long enough, I can stop hiding for now. Besides I would like to know what's been going on…," Northern Ireland paused briefly, looking up at the Manx avatar and adding, "…and thanks for letting me hide at your place again."
Isle of Man nodded, "You're welcome North, you're always free to come to my home if the others get… a bit too much to bear. I understand how our dear brothers can become sometimes, none of them will ever consider the option that I am not telling the truth when I tell them I haven't seen you."
Letting out a small laugh, Northern Ireland whispered, "You don't strike as a liar anyway Mann… but… uh, can you tell me what's been going on?"
"Alright but I have to do this quick before we wake everyone up," Isle of Man replied under his breath, looking behind him carefully before leaning out of the window a bit to share with Northern Ireland all that had happened since North had left.
England winced as he woke up suddenly, his joints aching. He let out a small gasp of pain as he tried sitting up. His limbs had never hurt as much as now, why were they hurting? England forced himself into a sitting position, a small whimper of pain escaping his throat. He shivered, feeling abruptly very cold and feeling incredibly sick.
Not bothering to look around, England pulled the blanket off of him and slid down from the couch, wanting to find the bathroom as quickly as possible. He found one door that wasn't completely closed and was glad when he saw that it was the bathroom upon pushing the door open.
He rushed inside and threw up in the toilet, not surprised to see blood when he pulled back. But he was confused. Did he have a memory during his sleep? But he couldn't remember anything! Now that he thought about it, he felt he had slept for a very long time. And he still felt tired. What time was it now?
After flushing the toilet, England turned to look out of the window, standing on tiptoes to look outside. Was that the sun setting? Had he really slept through the whole day?! England rested his forehead against the glass, stunned by how long he had been asleep. Was it normal to sleep so long? Then again he was used to short nights thanks to his nightmares, maybe this was normal…
Somehow the glass felt really cool to England. Not cold, it was as if the cold was doing him well. England moved his head away from the glass and felt his forehead. Was that a fever? Was he falling sick?
He felt a strange pain in his neck as well. England felt his neck, trying to see what hurt him so much. England jerked as a felt a wave of pain wash over him when he touched his neck. He went to the mirror, staring at himself to see what was wrong with his neck. But he couldn't see anything… but it really was painful!
"England, are you in here?" A female voice asked gently, the door of the bathroom creaking open slowly. It took England a split second to recognize the voice as belonging to Brittany. England turned his head around and saw the Breton avatar step into the bathroom.
She smiled warmly as she spotted England, laughing, "There you are, you're the last one to wake up! You slept through the whole day, you must have been really exhausted!"
"I'm not feeling well," England admitted, trying not to sound as if he was complaining.
Brittany looked worried at England's words and walked towards him, inquiring carefully, "Are you hurting somewhere?"
"My neck," England replied in a small voice, indicating at the area of the neck that hurt the most. He flinched when Brittany attempted to touch his neck. It was barely her fingertips and yet it hurt a lot.
She had a thoughtful expression as she proposed, "Maybe you slept with your neck in a bad position, you've been on the couch the whole day after all. That might be why your neck hurts."
"And what about feeling ill?" England questioned, hoping Brittany might be able to explain that too. He really didn't want to be sick, he was just going to cause difficulties for his family and burden them with it. He shouldn't be sick!
"Hmm," Brittany began, pondering the question over. She brightened as she suggested, "Maybe you're hungry? When was the last time you ate?"
"I… can't remember," England answered honestly, stunned that the thought of eating hadn't occurred to him until now. He tried thinking back to when he last had eaten but so many things had happened over a short time, he really couldn't remember.
Brittany advised, "It would be a good idea then to eat something before we set out again? Everyone is either outside in the back garden or in the kitchen eating something. We could fill you in on what will be happening next while you fill that empty stomach of yours, how does that sound?"
Liking the idea, England nodded and smiled, trying to ignore the pain in his neck or the general feeling of illness he had. He responded, "Sounds good, I really want to know what will happen next."
"Then come, we leave at dusk and the sun is setting quickly," Brittany declared, turning to leave the bathroom with England following the French region closely.
"I still can't believe how little you ate after saying you were hungry," America stated, looking at England in confusion as he walked.
England shrugged helplessly, mumbling, "I was just not feeling so hungry after a few bites. I can't explain it, I just didn't have the appetite." He walked beside America, struggling a bit to keep up with the long strides of the American. America noticed and slowed down a bit for the smaller nation.
"But still, turning down a crisp sandwich?" Scotland poked teasingly, looking over his shoulder at England.
"I wouldn't have turned that down either," Ireland admitted, chuckling a bit as he walked beside Scotland. But then he slowed down a bit and looked over his shoulder as well, asking England, "Didn't Brittany mention you had neck pain as well?"
"Yeah but that wore off when I came into the kitchen… as well as that feeling of being ill, that went away rather quickly too," England explained, frowning a bit at that. America felt inclined to point out that it was rather strange how quickly England had felt better, he really didn't look too well when he first steppied into the kitchen to eat something.
Australia stated hesitantly, "It is weird but sometimes things like that do happen… as long as you're feeling alright now, you shouldn't worry too much about it." He grinned at England, trying to reassure the small nation.
Both Scotland and Ireland came to a stop, turning to look at the three other nations. Now that everyone had set out to look for Fuath dens, Ireland had led the others south to his lands while Isle of Man and Wales led their groups to the other locations they had agreed on. Dusk dominated the sky, a slight chill settling around the nations. Everyone had put on raincoats against the cold and possible rain, hoping it wasn't going to become too cold in the night. The group of nations had come to a halt in front of a beach, a Fuath den being possibly nearby.
Ireland and Scotland both stared at each other silently as Ireland began, "Alright, I need to state a few warnings. As you all know by now, Fuaths are hateful creatures and are sometimes unpredictable. They can be hostile and are not exactly considerate of feelings of others. It might still be too light for them so I don't think America or Sasana need to worry about meeting one outside the den unless we manage to convince one to come with us. However you might see their children, the Brollachans."
"Wait, why do we have to worry about their children as well? What do they do?" America questioned, surprised at the mention of the children of Fuaths. They hadn't been mentioned until now, why was Ireland warning them of those creatures now?
"They are not necessarily dangerous depending on what your greatest fear is," Ireland replied, scratching the back of his head a bit awkwardly. He elaborated, "A Fuath feeds on hatred mainly. Their child, a Brollachan, feeds on fear. Both creatures have the ability to transform into whatever they want, but Brollachans can get dangerous with their transformations. If you fear being attacked by a tiger, you will be attacked by a tiger. If you just fear the sight of a mouse, you will find a mouse in front of you."
"Aww, that sounds a bit adorable though," Australia laughed, the two other nations not being able to help it and laughed along too. The concept was rather funny. They quietened down quickly when neither Celtic nations cracked a smile, both having rather serious expressions.
"We need you to take this seriously lads," Scotland sighed, looking at the three nations with a small frown. "Brollachans don't fear sunlight like their parents so they wander around a lot. And in a lot of cases, they will attack you to frighten you further to feed more on your fear. You can't really defend yourself as they will only become more aggressive in their attacks and injuring them is out of the question, especially so near to a den. One cry of an injured Brollachan will get you the entire pack of Fuaths on you."
England looked rather confused as he inquired, "But then, what do we do if we are approached by a Brollachan?"
"Close your eyes," Ireland said simply, a small smile appearing on his face in response to the dumbfounded expressions of England, America and Australia. To America's relief, Ireland explained, "Thankfully Brollachans gain their transforming powers from looking at their victim when their eyes are open as it allows them to see what they fear. If the victim closes their eyes for a long time, the Brollachan loses its ability to stay in the form they adopted and they revert back to their original form, at which point they can't really attack you anymore."
"But how do we know we have a Brollachan in front of us?" America asked in puzzlement.
Ireland replied, "They only know two words: myself and thyself. They can only communicate with these words, nothing else."
Australia held back his laughter as he questioned, "Is that it? I wonder how their parents understand them if they only have those words."
The Irish nation shrugged, "They don't really, it is an odd thing that the Brollachans have… but it is a good way to recognize them this way. But my main point is, you're safer closing your eyes if you see a Brollachan approaching you. Is that clear?"
Both America and England nodded their understanding, causing the elder brothers to smile in satisfaction. Scotland turned his attention to Australia and stated warningly, "And now, we three will go down to the den and see if we can talk to these Fuaths. You have to follow us closely or you might be treated as a trespasser and chased. This happening deep in the sea is not very recommendable so don't wander off."
"Understood, understood," Australia replied, nodding quickly with a serious expression. Despite his expression, America suspected that the Australian was really interested in seeing these creatures, even though they had been warned of how dangerous Fuaths were. But of course Australia's dangerous fauna did little to dampen his curiosity, indeed it might have actually made it stronger.
Ireland had already walked closer to the edge of the water and started muttering a spell under his breath, stretching his arms to the sky. A large bubble formed around the Irish nation, looking both fragile but solid at the same time.
America held back his laughter and saw that England and Australia were equally struggling to keep theirs back. Alright, magic was not easy and certainly was no laughing matter but that bubble… just looked so silly. Extremely so.
Hearing the sounds, Ireland turned around and putting his hands on his hips, demanded crossly, "What, do you have anything to say to my bubble?"
At that the three nations burst out laughing, Scotland not being able to stop himself from grinning too. Ireland frowned a bit but then let out a laugh, turning his back on the other nations as he protested, "No I'm serious, there's nothing wrong with this bubble. It works perfectly well and we'll be able to breath with it in the water."
"But how," Australia began asking, still laughing and having trouble stopping, "do we move when there is no ground to walk on and we have to swim down to the bottom to the sea?"
Ireland seemed to calm himself down and he answered, "We swim. We're still in water so swimming is possible, the only difference is that we can breathe too and we don't have to hold our breath. That's why you have to stick close to us."
"You could," America proposed, still recovering from his laugh, "create individual bubbles for everyone and then you can wear it as a helmet?"
"Yes but we need to stay together so that the Fuaths can't see us or especially Australia as a trespasser. Moving as one group, they will not immediately attack us. However if I did create individual bubbles, I don't know if we will be attacked," Ireland explained, looking up at his handiwork and grumbling, "And there is nothing that laughable about my bubble, I am even able to strengthen it so that it won't break if a sentry decides to attack us."
England still looked rather mirthful as he said, "Well that's good that you're protected… but how long will you be under the sea?"
"I think it depends on how easy it is to talk to them," Scotland responded, walking towards Ireland and stepping inside the bubble, the bubble expanding a bit as it accepted Scotland inside. Australia followed the Scot but stopped in front of the bubble, looking rather confused at how to get in. Scotland and Ireland looked at each other with an amused grin and both reached out for the Australian, grasping his wrists and pulling him into the bubble. Australia slipped in without a problem, the bubble expanding itself again at the third addition.
The three nations turned their attention to America and England and Ireland stated hopefully, "It shouldn't take us more than 20 minutes, we should be back by then. Remember my warning about the Brollachans, alright?"
Both America and England nodded and the three nations began walking into the sea, the bubble following them. Soon the sea had swallowed the three nations and America let out a snort, chuckling, "But that bubble is really funny, isn't it?"
"It isn't the first you'd think of if you wanted to go under the sea," England chortled, his eyes full of merriment. A harsh wind blew against them, causing both English-speaking nations to shiver at the sudden cold. The sun was beginning to set on the horizon and America hoped that the three nations weren't going to take too long under the sea. America and England settled on the sand and waited patiently.
They didn't have to wait long.
After 10 minutes America saw bubbles appearing at the surface and suddenly Ireland, Scotland and Australia broke the surface of the water. The bubble oddly enough kept its shape and continued following them as the three nations made their way to the beach. Only when they were fully out did Ireland snap his fingers and the bubble popped out of existence.
Australia sighed, "Well that was a long journey for nothing…"
"What happened?" England asked as he stood up, walking towards the three nations. America stood up too, brushing the sand off his legs.
"The den was empty," Scotland replied, shrugging his shoulder with a not too surprised expression. It was as if he had somehow expected this to be the case.
"To be more correct, the pack of Fuaths who used to live here died… for what reason we will likely never know but we can safely assume this pack to be extinct," Ireland added, taking a piece of paper out and crossing out something with a pen.
"So what now?" America questioned, joining the other nation as they gathered together to find out what was next on the list.
Ireland looked at the other nations and cracked a lopsided smile, laughing lightly, "Oh this isn't the end, we still have about 11 other dens to check tonight. Hopefully they won't be all empty like this one but we have no other way to know other than go there. The next den is northwards, quite close to Northern Ireland. We'll go there now."
With that said, Ireland placed his piece of paper back in one pocket of his raincoat and walked past the other nations, looking behind him. America and the others began following Ireland as they were led to the next location. Hopefully they'd get luckier with the second Fuath den.
"So keep in mind what we told you about what to do if you meet a Brollachan, yes?" Scotland looked at America and England, his eyes staring at the two seriously. They had landed on another beach, this one not far from Northern Ireland's border and Ireland and Australia were already at the edge of the water, the Irish nation conjuring up the bubble again.
America grinned and reassured, "Don't worry Scotland, we got you. We know what to do if we bump into them, although hopefully nothing will happen." England nodded his agreement with America's words.
Scotland gave the two nations a small chuckle before turning to join Ireland and Australia in the bubble. Ireland called out, "We'll see you in a short while if all goes well!" The three nations turned to the face the sea and strode into the water, the sea swallowing them whole.
After a moment, England asked worriedly, "What if this den is empty too like the last one? Are all dens going to be empty?" England sat down on the sand, shivering a bit at the chilly air.
"Hey, just because the first den was empty doesn't mean the others will be empty too. We simply didn't have luck with the first one, doesn't mean it will be the same with other dens," America reassured, sitting down beside England. He wrapped his arm around England's shoulder and pulled him closer to America's side so that he might not be so cold.
England looked up at America and gave him a small smile, his gaze falling down to the waves that lazily lapped at the shore. The sun was halfway down the horizon and the air was decidedly going to become colder. But the two nations waited patiently for the three others to come back.
And they waited.
About half an hour passed and America and England still waited.
When 45 minutes had passed, worry began settling on the two. This was taking a long time and neither had an idea what the holdup was. It was certain they had found something down there or else they wouldn't be taking so long…
America suddenly jerked when he saw a black fog beginning to envelop them. It wasn't normal fog, it was literally black. England was starting to look around for the origin of the fog, clearly uncomfortable.
America and England both started at the voice and jumped to their feet, looking around to see where the voice had come from. England abruptly fell against America with a gasp of fear and America looked up to see what had frightened England.
An all too familiar figure stood in front of the two nations, grinning at them in a twisted manner and eyes glowing green… the dark voice. Had it taken physical form outside England's mind now?!
No wait! America mentally berated himself for not immediately realizing it. This was a Brollachan, they had been warned of that! It had just said the two only words that it could say! This wasn't the real dark voice! Looking down at England, America realized that he was the only one thinking rationally.
In England's wide eyes there was only blind panic, the poor nation was trembling in fear at the sight of his dark voice outside of his mind. Of course that was going to be England's greatest fear, he was probably too scared to even think straight.
America went down on his knees and placed one hand on England's eyes and with his other hand gently pushed England down into a sitting position. America closed his eyes as well as he quietly comforted England, "It's just a Brollachan England, it's not the real thing. This is not really dark voice, just a Brollachan."
The other nation was still trembling and was breathing through his nose shallowly, clearly not completely out of his panic. The Brollachan seemed to prowl around the two nations, hissing loudly and darkly muttering "myself thyself" again and again. But America and England kept their eyes stubbornly closed and the Brollachan finally let out a whine of disappointment.
However there was another splashing sound and America heard a second creature join them… was that another Brollachan? Ha well good luck, it was going to have as much luck in scaring them as the first one had. There was a lot of hissing now and a low whine seemed to come from the Brollachan closest to them, the first one.
After a few exchanges, the Brollachan near them moved away and America heard the water splash again, was the first Brollachan going back into the sea? Now only the second Brollachan remained and it growled a few times, moving around the two nations and letting out a few huffs. Somehow America felt that this Brollachan was bigger and heavier than the first one…
Hands wrapped around England and started pulling him away from America. America jerked in surprise and wrapped his arms around England, stopping the other from effectively yanking him away.
"No you can't take him!" America growled lowly, hoping he wasn't suffocating England in his grip but at the same time he was utterly terrified of what would happen if the creature did actually manage to snatch England and jump back into the sea with him.
The American was shocked to hear the other creature snap curtly, "I sense a Fuath, let me have a look at him!" Had the Brollachan just talked?! And was demanding to look at England more closely? What was going on?
When America opened his eyes slowly, he saw a strange creature standing in front of them. It was a green humanoid creature that looked rather feminine, having a yellow mane going down her back and had webbed toes and hands, a tail with spikes and no nose. She was wearing a dark green robe and had reptilian golden eyes staring at the nations unflinchingly. Quite frankly, America found her terrifying.
"Who are you?" America blurted out without thinking, staring at the alarming creature with wariness. Just for extra care he didn't relax his grip around England.
"Banríon," the creature replied stiffly, a high reedy voice coming out of her. Her eyes continued to watch the nations carefully, as if trying to figure out where they came from.
"Banreen?" America and England both echoed, looking each other in puzzlement. That certainly was a name they had never heard before. But then America simply shrugged. It had to be one of those strange Irish names that no one ever heard of.
The creature bared her sharp teeth, though that might have been her just smiling. She chuckled darkly, "Ah, from how you two have pronounced it, neither of you are Irish speakers."
"What are you?" England asked quietly, looking at the creature oddly.
"I am a Fuath," Banreen answered, narrowing her eyes at England. She then demanded, "What are two nations like you two doing here so close to the Fuaths' den?"
America was honestly surprised. That creature knew what they were?
England questioned hurriedly, "We are waiting on three other nations who are in your den, two of them are my brothers. Have you seen them? How much longer will they be down there?"
Banreen shrugged, letting out a strange hissing noise, "I haven't heard anything about three nations being down there, I am just returning to my den from a hunt. I personally haven't seen them. But answer me this question, small fair child." The Fuath approached the two nations, staring fixedly at England. She slowly reached out with a clawed hand, tilting England's head upwards to have a good look at his face.
America tensed up, ready to yank England out of harm's way but worried about the long talon-like nails under the smaller nation's chin. She could easily injure England with those.
After staring at him for a moment, Banreen asked, "Can you sense some kind of familiarity towards me? Your eyes show that you have seen me, or at least you recognize my eyes."
England hesitated a few seconds before admitting, "Your eyes… I have seen them before. Not exactly your eyes but ones very similar. I don't remember where, it feels like from a dream…"
Banreen frowned as she moved her hand away from England's chin and laid one nail on his forehead, her eyes narrowed in concentration. Sounding rather perplexed, she declared, "That's why I tried taking you at first, I could have sworn that I felt a Fuath… I wasn't mistaken, I can feel traces of a Fuath within you. How it came there I am not certain."
"Wait, did you just confirm the dark voice was a Fuath originally?!" America exclaimed, so surprised that he relaxed his grip on England and stared at the Fuath with a dumbfounded expression. Taking advantage of the lapse of attention from the American, Banreen wrapped her hands around England's wrists and pulled him upright, away from America's grasp.
The American tensed his muscles up, fearing that the Fuath was trying to pull England into the water. He stood up just in case the worst happened. But she let go of England and walked around him, studying him with sharp eyes. She stopped in front of him again, placing a hand on top of England's head and became thoughtful.
"A… dark voice?" Banreen echoed after a while, looking at America quizzically. She looked at England and explained, "What I feel is the remains of a Fuath, she is deeply embedded in this child's mind. I even know who it was… ahh poor Bronagh, is this where you have been all this time?"
"She?" America repeated slowly, uncertain he had heard right?
"The dark voice is called Bronagh?" England questioned, shocked at this news. The voice had never sounded like that of a female… then again… maybe it was using his voice to talk to England?
Banreen did an upwards jerk with her head, as if nodding, "That was her name, though not much of her remains in your mind, if anything at all. Just small fragments… but maybe memories from her last moments are still hidden away somewhere. Can you let me dig them out?"
England nodded uncertainly while America warned, "Depends on what you have to do to get to those memories, but alright."
The Fuath grinned as she explained, "I need the small nation to come close to the water, this is the only way I know how to get to memories."
"But I can't swim!" England protested, looking at Banreen with wide, fearful eyes.
"You just need to be by the water, not in," the Fuath elaborated impatiently, reaching out to grab England's arm. America moved closer to England, glaring at Banreen warningly. She stared back at the American evenly, grasping England's arm and pulling him towards the water's edge. She then focussed on the smaller nation and extended his arm outwards over the water.
Using a razor-sharp nail, Banreen quickly nicked England's wrist, cutting into the skin. England briefly went rigid at the sudden pain as blood trickled out of the cut and fell into the water as droplets.
"Hey, what are you doing?!" America demanded, stunned that the Fuath had done this and angry that he had allowed this strange creature to injure England.
"Oh calm down you sentimental fool, it is just a small cut," Banreen sighed, watching England's blood fall into the water intently. "You nations heal quickly anyway so it should barely hurt."
England shakily asked, "Usually it should have closed by now… it stings a bit. How much do you need?"
"Just a few more drops," Banreen murmured, seeming to count the amount the droplets. She added, "I did put a little spell to keep the wound open a bit longer so that I can get enough blood."
America wrinkled his nose in distaste, angered that Banreen hadn't warned England and America that she was going to need blood from England and then just cut his wrist. The drops of blood continued falling, strangely enough not diluting in the water but instead spreading. Soon it looked like a small pool of blood had formed in front of them, the waves of the sea having no effect on the colour. It stayed firmly red.
Banreen pulled England's wrist towards her and with a flick of her long tongue, licked the cut and released England's wrist. America watched in astonishment as the cut seemed to immediately close, leaving no mark behind. Banreen was staring transfixed at the bloodied water, prowling towards the edge of the sea and slipping into the water with ease. She dove under the water, reappearing in the middle of the red pool, covered completely in blood.
The Fuath closed her eyes, starting to murmur words that were incomprehensible to both America and England but the blood started glowing darkly. England suddenly jolted with a gasp and fell to his knees, panting for breath.
"What the hell is happening to England?!" America shouted, glowering at Fuath furiously, sure that she had something to do with what was happening to England. The creature opened her eyes and stared back at America evenly.
Banreen rolled her eyes in exasperation and assured, "I'm just accessing his memories, it will affect England to have an outside force going for his memories inside his mind." As she explained, moving pictures started appear on the surface of the bloodied water, no doubt memories. America leaned forward to inspect them, recognizing some of the recent memories though it was rather odd to see them from England's perspective.
America straightened up and said sharply, "Well give a heads up or something, so that we at least know what to expect next. We work better when we know what is going to happen next."
"Fine then, I will," the Fuath sighed in exasperation, looking down at the red water to watch some of the memories too. She added, "Once the little one is used to my presence in his mind, I will dig lower into the fragment of Bronagh to find her memories… since she is buried in the nation's subconsciousness, he will probably pass out for a few minutes."
"At least you gave a warning…," America grumbled, glancing worriedly at England. Was it alright for the Fuath to dig so deep? Would it damage England to have the Fuath dig into his subconsciousness?
"H-hey," England began shakily, pointing at one picture in particular that had a lot of fire in it, "I saw that memory not too long ago, it was the strangest memory since I was barely in it, I was able to see the memory from different people's view. It was a bit confusing."
Banreen frowned, "You say this memory allowed you to see from different people's point of view?" When England nodded, Banreen concluded, "Then it is an artificial memory."
"As opposed to… natural memories?" America asked, sounding confused. How could a memory be artificial?
"The memory is completely invented, it never happened," the Fuath explained as she swam nearer to the memory England had pointed out, hovering her webbed hand over the picture. "A nightmare cleverly constructed to feel like a memory… yes, it is artificial. Bronagh created it and implanted it into some of your siblings' minds so as to cause emotional pain to them, making it easier to see who was emotionally the least stable."
"But why?" England demanded as he stared at Banreen.
"To…possess?" America proposed warily, fearing that this was most likely the reason. His gut twisted uncomfortably when Banreen nodded.
"If one of them was already unstable, her memory was able to cause that one even more distress and she would have been able to possess him without any real resistance. But…," Banreen trailed off, her hand still hovering over the memory. The memory had changed and America was able to see Wales as a young avatar and another young avatar he couldn't recognize. She continued, "It seems like one of the siblings caught on quicker and saw that Wales had been possessed and he took the necessary means to drive Bronagh out. Her next reaction was to… jump down the line, and she found you."
England was staring at the Fuath tiredly, sitting calmly on his knees as he became thoughtful. Banreen returned the stare for a moment before she dove under the water and was gone. America and England glanced at where she had disappeared, England declaring, "So I will become unconscious right very soon?"
"You think so?" America questioned quizzically. Wouldn't she have warned them?
"Yes, you notice that she's not very good at giving us forewarnings?" England pointed out, letting out a weak laugh. Before America can reply, England's body became rigid and his eyes widened. He fell on his side and curled up in a ball, dry heaving heavily.
America panicked as he bent down to scrutinize England, laying a hand on his chest to check if the heart was still beating normally. The heart was going a little too quickly and England's breaths were short and ragged. His eyes had become blank and shadows were moving around slowly, reminding America of when England would get pulled into a memory.
Maybe England had been pulled into a memory?
England opened his eyes wide, gasping for air a bit as he tried understanding what had happened. He couldn't understand the world he had landed in. Everything was black and white and England felt like he was swimming in water. He looked down at his hand and panicked when he saw webbed hands and they were in cold colours.
He looked around and saw small shapes with warm colours… like he was seeing things in thermal imaging. England stared back at his hands, waving them back and forth to see if those were really his hands.
"Don't panic nation, you are in Bronagh's memory so you're seeing it through her eyes," Banreen sighed, her disembodied voice echoing in England's mind.
England glanced around, trying to see her. "Where are you?" He called out.
"A part of me is in your mind but it isn't enough for you to see me," the Fuath replied. "If I tried putting myself in your mind more to the point that you can see me, the chances of me getting stuck in your subconsciousness rises and neither of us would like the idea of another Fuath getting embedded here. Wouldn't you agree?"
The small nation nodded, he was more at ease at keeping Banreen as a disembodied voice rather than having her get stuck in his mind. He asked nervously, "Do Fuaths see the world through thermal imaging?"
"Fuaths always saw the world like this?" Banreen replied, clearly uncertain about what "thermal imaging" was. England decided to assume that Fuaths saw the world in warm and cold temperatures, which he found rather odd . What he found odder is that he remembered what thermal imaging was… was he starting to regain pieces of information without having to go into memories anymore?
Suddenly Bronagh surfaced out of the water, looking around for something. England felt a tinge of nervousness from the Fuath, as if she was worried about something. He then saw not too far from them three forms, one big form and two smaller forms.
Although he narrowed his eyes, England had a hard time trying to make out what Bronagh was seeing. Suddenly there was a soft flash in his mind and for a brief moment, he saw everything as he usually did. He took the chance to see what was going on: he saw two young-looking avatars and a large dragon… they seemed to be having a fight. He caught a brief glance of ginger hair on one avatar and red hair on the other… was he seeing young Ireland and young Scotland?
Before England could confirm what he saw, his vision went back to thermal imaging. He heard the amused chuckle from Banreen as she explained, "My kind does see better in your method but unfortunately our eyes are suited for seeing warm and cold colours. We can only see like you for a few seconds, which is why we depend on our sense of smell to understand what is going on."
England felt distress boiling up in Bronagh, prompting him to ask Banreen, "Why is Bronagh feeling like this? Why is she worried?"
"Her child England," Banreen answered hurriedly, concentrating on what Bronagh was seeing, "Your brothers are fighting her child."
The dragon was a Fuath's child? No wait, England corrected himself. Ireland had mentioned the Brollachans. As the parent fed on hatred, the child fed on fear. Hence their ability to transform into what their victim feared the most.
Did Ireland and Scotland as young avatars fear dragons so much? As England focussed on the fight, which was really difficult to follow as it was colours of hot and cold moving all the time, he did see a glimpse of Ireland and Scotland attacking the dragon and embedding their swords into the dragon's underbelly.
The dragon let out a high-pitched screech, the pitch elevating even more as the dragon started shrinking. England then saw the Brollachan, the small form of a child with golden eyes, tears running down his face as two swords stuck out from his belly… the child closed his eyes and let out a dying gasp before going completely limp.
Scotland and Ireland seemed to have backed away from the Brollachan, talking in confused sentences as if they hadn't expected the dragon to be anything else but a simple dragon. Then again England had been fooled too, Brollachans were meant to be good in transforming.
A higher shriek rose, taking England two seconds to realize that the noise was coming from Bronagh. The Fuath leapt out of the water and dashed towards Ireland and Scotland, catching the two Celtic avatars off-guard. She leapt on the smaller nation, Scotland, and pinned him to the ground, hissing her despair and grief as she prepared to bury her teeth into the struggling Scot's throat.
A whack on her head jolted Bronagh out of her temporary ferocity, looking behind her to see Ireland standing with his sword raised over his head. He had apparently used the flat edge of the sword to hit the Fuath on her head. Bronagh opened her mouth to bare her teeth before she felt something within her snap.
England didn't know what happened but suddenly the Fuath was falling forward, her spirit still wailing over her loss of her child. As the emptied and lifeless body of the Fuath fell on top of Scotland, Bronagh's spirit fervently dug her way into Scotland, trying to possess him. However an unknown force kept pushing her away, not allowing her any control.
The small nation found himself attached to Bronagh's spirit, feeling rather scared by the torrent of grief and rage that was within the Fuath's spirit. England heard a faint voice hissing in the darkness, "I need to find someone else, someone to pay these bastards for taking away my most treasured child. Take away what they have taken from me…"
The voice soon was lost among hissing and growling and England was surprised that he managed to hear a distant Banreen cry, "I know what happened, I finally have the answer! We can finally have justice prevail!"
Then England was completely enveloped in the darkness and began falling.
England jolted awake as he came back to his senses, feeling rather dizzy as he tried standing up. America was beside him, supporting him as England groggily tried staying on his two feet.
"Hey, how're you?" America questioned hastily, sounding relieved. England attempted to stand upright but he swayed dizzily. America caught England and steadied him until the dizziness passed.
Once England felt stable on his feet again, he complained quietly, "My head hurts a bit…"
"That's to be expected, I've dug into the deepest part of your mind to get to these memories. But it was worthwhile," Banreen explained, sounding all too gleeful. She was still in the sea, surrounded by the blood. England and America turned to look at her in puzzlement, trying to understand what was going on. Why did the Fuath sound so happy?
"What's there to be happy about Banreen, we've just seen why Bronagh became the dark voice?" America demanded, frowning in confusion. England briefly wondered how America had seen the memory but looking at the pool of blood quickly told him the answer. America had managed to see everything England and Banreen had seen.
The Fuath smirked triumphantly as she snapped her fingers, the red evaporating from the sea instantly. It was as if the pool of blood had never existed. She laughed darkly, "I rejoice because I have finally seen what really happened and I know the details of the event, I can finally end this…"
"End what?" England asked suspiciously, beginning to fear what Banreen was up to. Nothing good it seemed.
America was silent for a moment before pointing at Banreen, declaring accusingly, "You knew that Ireland, Scotland and Australia were down at your den all along, didn't you?"
Banreen snorted as she answered, "Of course I knew, from the very first moment they set foot in our den. They're being tried."
"Under what charge?!" America exclaimed, both he and England paling at the thought that the three other nations had been down there all the time because they were on a trial. England was speechless. What had been happening to the three nations down there when they were put on trial?
"Murder," the Fuath spat, pointing out jeeringly, "Didn't you see the memory? Bronagh and her child were killed by Ireland and Scotland and they have to pay for their actions. We've known all these years that they had killed a Fuath since the smell of a dead Fuath sticks to you and we can smell that… but now, having seen the memory, I can testify who they killed and how."
"But Australia didn't do anything!" England protested, walking towards the Fuath. This didn't make sense, Australia wasn't even alive when all this happened. He was being punished for nothing! America placed a hand on England's shoulder, trying to restrain him from walking closer to Banreen. England looked up at America, confusion and fear in his eyes, silently demanding why America was holding him back.
"He's being tried for trespassing and entering our cave without our prior knowledge and permission. We would charge the same for Scotland and Ireland if their situation wasn't dire enough with the two murders," Banreen explained disdainfully.
"Hold on, but Ireland and Scotland didn't seem to know that the dragon was Bronagh's kid, so that was an accident. And then Bronagh attacked Scotland, that should count as self-defence!" America argued fiercely, placing his other hand on England's other shoulder protectively. England frowned as America tightened his grip on him. This was no time to be protective of England, there were three nations under the sea that desperately needed more help than him! Why couldn't America see this?!
The Fuath's laugh was high and derisive and then she stared at America in disbelief, shouting, "And you think that excuses their actions?! A life is a life and we've lost two thanks to these two nations. We're trying them and they will be found guilty, they will spend a few decades in our den suffering the consequences of killing two of our kind."
"You can't do that!" America yelled, his eyes wide as if he couldn't believe his ears. "They're nations, they're connected to their land and their people… you can't do this!"
"Oh shut up you sentimental fool, it'll only be for a few decades. It's not like we can kill them. And you can't do anything about it, whether you like it or not," Banreen snickered, baring her teeth at America. She started swimming backwards, as if intending to dive and swim away. England shook his shoulders, getting free from the stunned American's grip.
He rushed forward toward the edge of the water, walking into the sea up to his knees, ignoring the waves lapping against his legs. England shouted desperately, "You can't take my brothers and our friend away, surely something else can be negotiated!" When he saw Banreen distance herself even more, England screamed, "I will keep the dark voice and suffer doubly till the end of my existence in exchange for the three nations! I will give myself up if you set the three free!"
Banreen hesitated at that moment, glancing at England briefly before diving into the water. England felt tears forming at the corner of his eyes, his shoulders sinking in defeat. Had he just lost Ireland, Scotland and Australia to the Fuaths thanks to him?
After a few agonizing minutes, America saw bubbles appearing at the surface of the water.
Banreen resurfaced from the sea, not too far from where England stood. The Fuath immediately stared at England sharply, confusion settling in her eyes as she questioned, "Don't you hate your brothers?"
"How would you know?" America spat back, taking a step forward so that he might be able to grab England and drag him away from the water if the Brit actually went through with his plan. America had been caught completely off-guard by England's willingness to give himself up in favour of releasing the three captive nations. But it was out of the question that America was going to allow England to make this exchange. There had to be another way…
Banreen glanced at America briefly, eyes narrowing. She returned her gaze to England as she explained, "I don't know the details but my kind is very good at picking up the hatred around us. The hatred of nations is very potent and I was under the impression that you hated your brothers."
England was silent for a moment, having clearly shed a few tears and sniffling a little. He seemed unsure on how to respond to the female Fuath. He shook his head vigourously, declaring with a firm voice, "I've never hated my brothers. I may have hated the actions and words they might have used in some situations, but my hatred was never directed at them."
"England, you're seriously not considering handing yourself over just like that," America asked, laughing nervously. "There must be another way, you don't have to sacrifice yourself-"
The Fuath cut the American off with a sly grin towards England, "What if your sacrifice is not enough? Are you worth three nations?"
The smaller nation looked down at his feet, mumbling quietly, "It doesn't matter, we can't measure value like that…," England looked up at Banreen, raising his voice, "All I know is that your kind is keeping three nations captive, two of them my brothers and one a close friend. And I'm here with the spirit of one of the Fuaths within me… I will gladly take my brothers' place and pay double the price. And if I have to suffer for several centuries, then so be it."
America protested as he reached out to grab England's shoulder, "England don't do it!" Before he could lay his hand on England's shoulder, water rose out of the sea in a snake-like manner and wrapped around the waist of the English-speaking nation and lifted him.
Banreen seemed to be controlling the arm of water, pulling England closer to her. America let out an angry shout, "Now hold on a minute, I didn't agree to any of this! England, don't you dare go through with this! Sacrificing yourself isn't going to solve anything, please don't do this-!"
"America!" England yelled, turning his head around to look at the American, his eyes pleading and desperate. "If this is what I have to do to get them back, I will do it."
"Are you certain you're willing to give yourself up for them… even after all the bad blood and past grudges, you're still willing to suffer for their mistakes?" Banreen pressed insistently.
England stared at America for a few seconds longer before he turned to Banreen and nodded solemnly.
The female Fuath stared at England with hard cold eyes, scrutinizing him. Eventually she let out a low huff and she dove back into the sea, the water keeping England in the air suddenly falling back into the sea, dropping England into the water. America's mind went blank with fear as he saw England struggle to keep his head above water. Thankfully England didn't land too far into the sea and America rushed in quickly, diving after the fallen nation. He grabbed England and dragged him out of the sea, England coughing out the seawater he had accidently swallowed.
Once America reached the beach, he dropped down to his knees and wrapped England into a fierce hug, pressing the smaller nation to his chest. He growled lowly, "I'm not letting you go, if they're taking you it will be over my dead body!"
The other nation coughed a bit and struggled briefly, quickly giving up when he realized that America was too strong for him. England turned his head to look at the surface of the water, a heavy sigh escaping him as he said, "It doesn't matter now, clearly my idea didn't work…"
"We don't know that," America snapped, "But if they come back for you, I'm ripping their limbs and jaws off. No one is going to harm you in any way."
"But-," England began to complain before America hushed him firmly.
England glared at America and shouted exasperatedly, "But if I was to take their place, Ireland and Scotland would know what to do to get me back! But with them being down there, we have no idea what to do to get them back! We're useless in this situation, we don't even know half of what my brothers know when dealing with Fuaths!" He pushed against America's chest, demanding to be given some space. America relaxed his grip and allowed England to take a step back from him.
America hadn't actually thought that, the 10-year old England had had a better plan than him. No, he had one as opposed to America having none at all. America shook his head sadly as he replied, "Good point England but there has to be another way. This is too risky, you don't know what to expect. We're not even sure if Scotland and Ireland will be able to help you, you don't think they knew they would walk themselves right into a trial, no?"
England frowned, seeing the logic behind America's answer. He turned around to face the sea, a shiver running down his spine. Whether it was from cold or fear or even both, America didn't know. He was cold himself after all, the chilly air wasn't helping with the wet clothes. However much America wanted to reach out and comfort England, he felt that the smaller nation wanted some space. He didn't want to frustrate England more than he already had. But America was adamant: there was another way to get Ireland, Scotland and Australia back. He had no idea how but it certainly wouldn't involve putting England in harm's way. He wanted to save the three nations just as much as England but they had to find another way.
They waited in a petrified silence for the next few minutes, both nations staring mutely at the water's surface with fear and apprehensiveness. America wondered whether he shouldn't be taking England away from here and calling for help from England's other brothers. They would know more what to do in this situation than either he or England.
But something, his gut feeling, told him to stay. Something was going to happen and no matter how worried America was over England's safety, they had to stay. America began wondering if the damned Fuath knew how to manipulate feelings and was maybe causing America to feel that he had to stay… if that was the case he should really make a grab for England and flee, no matter how bad he felt over leaving the three nations behind-
Both nations stiffened as the water started bubbling, a dark form appearing deep underwater and growing steadily larger as it approached the surface. England held his breath while America felt the overpowering need to pull England away from the edge of the water, a part of him now terrified that the female Fuath was returning to take England with her.
What should he do if she did?
*worries* Hope the chapter was good. It was a lot longer but I had to cut off the last part, which will be appearing in the next chapter. So in a way the original ending of this chapter wasn't going to be as mean but you all have understood now that I really like writing cliff-hangers. (Apologies to those who get frustrated because they want to see the next chapter)
Now, I have already hinted at Wales' disapproval of America's and England's relationship in previous chapters, haven't I? Don't think of him too badly, at the origin he just really cares about his brother and wants to protect. Of course that's leading to some hostile reactions towards America, which America doesn't really understand yet. And mind you, the other nations of the family don't particularly agree with Wales' views and make a point of making the Welsh nation hold his tongue if all he wants to do is being sarcastic towards America. These two really need to talk one on one, no?
And Northern Ireland has come out of hiding and is back in the game! :D Yeah, when he is upset with his brothers he will hide... at Isle of Man's house. The anti-social nation understands North's need to be alone and away from his brothers so Northern Ireland is allowed to hide in Mann's house and no one thinks of looking there since they simply assume that Isle of Man's words are good enough. So for now North has a secure hiding place. Hopefully he will be around more next chapter.
Oh, and dark hinting in the next scene with England's brief sickness. Overshadowing~! I left a hint in the last chapter already and I have given you hints here what England might be possibly getting sick of. Not obvious hints, but if you have a sharp eye you'll know what I'm possibly building up to. ;)
Crisp sandwiches are amazing and I have fond memories of them, although it must be almost a decade since I've had one... I don't know why, I just recently started thinking about it again and I remembered, "Oooh that was actually really tasty!"
Now some of the things with the Fuath and the Brollachan is invented. Firstly the plurals are not Fuaths and Brollachans, I simply did this for the simplicity of readers who don't understand Irish. ^^; I don't know if the Fuath feeds on fear and I don't know if the Brollachan feeds on fear. I just know that according to tradition the Brollachan doesn't have any shape and only takes shape of what someone fears when that person is around. But the "myself thyself" is pretty true, don't ask me why though. (quirk of a Gaelic evil water creature) In a way I've kind of expanded on why I know about the Fuath and the Brollachan, such as living in packs.
And we finally know what the dark voice finally was! A female Fuath called Bronagh who unfortunately lost her child when he decided that attacking Ireland and Scotland as a dragon was going to be a good idea. And then Bronagh set out to make the brothers suffer by taking away something precious to them. But alas, now Ireland and Scotland are in a trial and are in danger of being kept captive under the sea for several decades, which is not healthy since a nation can't be separated from their people for so long. Australia is just a victim of circumstance, he didn't do anything to be roped into all this but Fuaths are not known for their kindness.
What will happen next? Hope you enjoyed the chapter and I hope the writing style is still good. Thank you for reading and see you next chapter!