Francis and Bluebeard sat side by side, eyes wide as they reflected the dying flames. The air filled with smoke as the fire burned away what was left of the building, which was nothing more than a charred square in the ground, with only a few support beams still standing.
Francis had awaked, to find Novalee gone and the book on the floor open to Genetics. Then and there, it all fit into place. He feared the worse, which Novalee figured it out herself, and had gone to confront Pascal… Claudandus. He had arrived fast as he could, but to his horror he found the house in flames. Whatever had been inside, living or not, was gone.
"You think she was in there?" Bluebeard finally asked and Francis didn't respond at first. He continued to watch the dying flames and then said "I honestly don't know. If she was, I only hope she escaped." And with that, Francis's eyes drifted away from the flames and down to his paws.
But then, he noticed down by the edge of the wall, were a few paw prints, and traces of blood. He turned around and looked in the garden he had raced across and saw more paw prints leading away from the house. He must have been in such a hurry to not have noticed them.
He leaped down into the snow and looked them over. They were cat prints. He lowered his head, watching the paw prints go forward. But with the falling snow, he was sure they would soon vanish. He heard Bluebeard leap down the wall, and hurry over to his side.
Then, the two tom cats side by side followed the trail. Not sure of what they would find. But each had a guess or two.
"You think these are Novalee's tracks?" Bluebeard asked as he leaped up onto the next wall. Francis paused at the bottom and said "That or they belong to the killer. But I know one thing. There is only one set of tracks. Which means only one survived that fiery hell back there." Just as Francis was about to leap, he noticed, by a snow mound, splattered in blood, there were a few strands of fur. White and black.
"Novalee…" He said under his breath and leaped up onto the wall. He looked over into the next garden but like he had guessed, the snow was making the tracks fade before his eyes. Bluebeard heaved a sigh and said "Well, there goes a clue to who survived the fire."
"It was Novalee." Francis said allowed ad then added "She must have escaped before the fire burned down the house."
"Ah, and then our good friend Pascal?" Bluebeard asked in a slightly sarcastic tone and Francis looked back to the smoke heading into the sky and answered "Dead. His body burned into ash. Novalee was wounded, and by all the blood I guess a fight had occurred. And I bet, it was a fight to stop his plan. And this, he lost. Someway, somehow… And Novalee escaped…"
Bluebeard sniffed the air and then said "I can't catch whiff of her, not with the fire and smoke back there, and all this snow coming down." Francis looked around and then, by a black gate, he was blood stained on the side.
"Over there!" He yelled and leaped down into the snow. He hurried through it, having trouble making his way through the thick snow. Bluebeard leaped down, and followed Francis through the pathway he made, making it easier for him to get through.
Francis reached the gate and gave a sniff to the blood, to find it frozen but still fresh. He looked forward and slipped past the bars and came into another garden. He recognized this one. The garden Kong and he had chased Jesaja in. He knew because there was the over turned tube in the corner, and the pipe that lead into the Catacombs. He sniffed the air, and then looked around.
A large imprint in the snow was what caught his eye first. He moved closer to it, and found a large pool of blood. Bluebeard came over and made a grumbling sound mixed with a growl and asked "And what do you make of this smartass?"
"She was wounded and couldn't go any farther is my guess, but… I don't know where she is. She might have…" He trailed off, not really knowing where she would go. He hadn't known her for a long time, but he had become close friends with her. More than Bluebeard, more than Pascal had been, and different from Felicity. He sat down, looking up to the sky.
The snow fell down softly, covering his pelt with little puffs and groups of it. One landed on his ear, and he flicked it off. Bluebeard sniffed and said "It's getting late. We can search for her in the morning. Besides, I'm freezing my whiskers off!" He then started to shiver and Francis gave him a half-hearted annoyed look.
Just then, something glimmered in the snow and he turned back to it. He stood up, and padded over to something golden half buried in the snow. He pawed at it, and brushed the snow away until the object lay at his paws. It was Novalee's collar. Her golden heart charm glowing brightly, even in the dim light. On the side of it though, it was stained with blood. Hers maybe, or maybe it was that of Claudandus. He could never be sure. But this just proves that Novalee had made it out of the house. But now, there was one last question that ate him up inside.
Where was Novalee?
"Oh dear…poor thing." A voice said softly as a cat hidden in the dark shadows of the tunnels searched for something. His weary yellow eyes shimmered in the darkness as he stopped and nipped a few flowers off the main plant. He then turned back and carried them through the tunnels, until he reached a large room, a shrine in the center, and hundreds of dead brothers and sisters around.
He leaped onto the shrine and then off again and came to a new, almost empty spot he had prepared for the newest soul he had to guard. One that came from the land of day, and had been his friend.
He laid the body out, the once blood drenched fur cleaned and glowing white again, yet even though it looked like the cat was sleeping, but the body was cold to the touch, and would never again take the breath of life. He took note that her collar was missing, but he didn't know any way to fix that. Instead he began, and slowly weaved the beautiful white flowers with black centers into her fur.
Once he was finished, he pushed the body up, and now it blended in with all the others of the Temple of the Dead. The cat sighed and said "I believe this is a message from you great Prophet. This is the last one I will receive, to guard forever down here. And I will, as the Guardian of the Dead should. But I ask you…" He paused, as he struggled inside to get the question out of his mouth.
"But I ask you… why did the last one have to be her, why the dear sister Novalee?" He perked his ears, hoping to hear the divine voice of the prophet. But nothing came, just a few snowflakes that drifted in through the hole at the top that let light in. And that same light shined down and reflected of Novalee's soft white fur that still had snow caught in it. Making it sparkle even more.
Claudandus was dead, mankind is safe. Although the memory of Claudandus would not be forgotten, for the Sect still believed in his divine tale, and would continue to for generations to come. The New-Olds where now no longer apart of any program, and where free to mate as they wish, just as the other Brother and Sisters of the district. And the deaths of those who died for the unholy cause would not be forgotten. Sascha, Deep Purple, Felicity, Dream, and… Novalee. They would all be remembered for a long time.
And yet, let this be a lesson, that life has a path, a plan. One that the stars and heaven above have seen and laid out for you. Whether you're a human, living your ordinary life, or a cat, holding in secrets of darkness and desire, everyone and everything can learn to live with one another. Life will grow, it will continue, it will always be there. Everyone just needs to search for it, to find it, to be it, to live it. Just like those can, of the Felidae…