A/N- Again, another long wait. Let me catch you up. I still have all those big and mini bangs going—including the fact that I'm late turning some in, signed up for some more, plus I really need to get back on the ball with my original fiction. However, RL decided to kick my ass at the end of December leading into recently. I had a family tragedy strike in that my mother passed away—God rest her soul—which was followed immediately two weeks later by me discovering that I was six weeks pregnant—my first child. I had some terrible morning sickness for about three weeks that is just now starting to chill out, so I'm trying to get back into the swing of writing—which came to a dead stop due to the events above. Oh, and my hours are also being cut willy-nilly at my job, and it's really beginning to piss me off. I applied for a much, much better job that I'm immensely qualified for, so I hope to get a foot in the door and get it. But, to cheer up the rather downer note here, I decided, "what better way to get back into the swing than by writing for one of my favorite stories?" So, here I am at Tribulations. Granted, my outline is a little behind on this story, but—and I think I've mentioned this before—I know what happens in this story, I just have to decide when it happens. Also, if anyone here is a Supernatural fan, the story I mentioned last author's note, Length of Chain, is slowly being added here to my account, if you're interested. Also, I did a Castlevania story for the Undead mini bang entitled "Lullaby of Dissent." It's a direct sequel to Symphony of the Night, if anyone wants to take a peek. Okay, now, seriously, I'm starting the chapter. Enjoy!
Chapter 2- It's Just a Jump to the Left
Ria, Isaac, and Sara jogged down the stairs, hitting the first floor landing hard enough to draw Sophy out of the kitchen. She smiled at them as she dried her hand on a green-and-white checkered hand towel.
"Oh good, that didn't take long at all. You've made it with tons of time to spare," she said.
But Ria frowned, shaking her head. "Mom, we've gotta run an errand. It's super important. I'm sorry."
Sophy mimicked her daughter's expression, her brow furrowed. "So you won't be back in time for dinner? Ria, what's going on?"
Ria sighed. She had nothing to tell her mother. After all, how do you explain that people are forgetting things—important things—when the person you are trying to explain it to is one of the forgetters?
"I don't know if we'll be back in time. And… it's hard to explain. But it's bad, Mom. Bad enough to warrant us having to go. I'm so, so sorry."
"I'll never get used to this," Sophy groaned, shaking her head. Sighing, she added, "But go. If it's that important, go."
Ria walked over to her mother, planting a soft kiss on her cheek. "I'll try my best to be back in time, I promise, okay?"
Sophy hugged Ria. "I know. Be careful."
"Always," Ria said as she, Isaac, and Sara left the manor.
As soon as they had loaded into the car, Ria left her fingers lightly touch her makeshift belt—the Vampire Killer. Then, her gaze floated up to the rearview mirror.
"Sara, are you okay?" she asked as she started the car.
But the answer was already clear. Her ghostly companion was in between being reclined fully in the backseat and being curled into the fetal position. But she smiled weakly, shaking her head.
"Not really, but it's all right. I'll be fine," she said bravely, following it up with a soft groan.
Ria glanced at Isaac as soon as they were on the road, almost flooring it as they continued to their destination. Isaac glanced back, as if he could see Sara, then returned his stare to Ria—who had finally put hers on the road.
"The Librarian will be able to help us. I'm sure," he said, wiggling a hand behind her back, trying his best to provide her with some sort of comfort.
Ria gave a small grin, but the look did not last long. There was no comfort to be had for her. Not until she had some sort of answer. Keisha was all but forgotten by everyone she had encountered—save for herself, Isaac, and Sara. Her mother was inexplicably dating Darren once more—like they had never broken up. And Sara was in pain… really bad, gut-wrenching pain. Ria's own gut was left doing somersaults, her hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles were white. Whatever was causing all of this… well, she knew that she had not lied to her mother. It was bad. Almost as an afterthought, Ria cast her eyes down to the cell phone she had disregarded in the cubby of her center console. She considered calling Alucard. Would he remember what had happened, what had really happened? But Ria shook her head as the Librarian's home came into view. She could not bear it if yet another person said they did not know who Keisha Stone was.
Once again using her car like a battering ram on an invisible wall, she screeched her way into the adjoining driveway of the rather too-normal home. Ria and Isaac exited the car simultaneously, with Sara beginning to flicker in and out of vision.
"Hang on, Sara," Ria said, arriving at the front door.
She did not even bother to knock. Giving the knob a good, hard twist, she threw the door open, pulling the Vampire Killer from her waist. The Master Librarian—not in his glamour of Mr. Hamm—leapt from the winged-back chair he was sitting in, his overly long gray beard falling nearly to the floor. His eyes flashed dangerously.
"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.
But Ria had no time for his outrage. Sara had disappeared from her sight, and nothing about that made the huntress feel good. She strode forward, cracking the whip just on the Librarian's right side as she stopped a mere foot or so from him.
"I want to know what you've done… now," she growled.
"Whatever are you talking about, you daft girl?" he snarled, but it pleased Ria to see that his eyes trailed, worriedly, over to the whip.
"Why can't anyone remember Keisha Stone? Why can't my mother remember dumping Darren Brown? And why is Sara in so much pain? It's not a forgetfulness spell… Isaac and I have already checked for that."
The Librarian's brows furrowed as he inched around Ria and her weapon. He shook his head.
"What are you talking about, Miss Smith? What do you mean, no one can remember?"
Ria was moments, just moments, away from bringing down everything she had learned in training upon the old man. But Isaac rushed forward, placing a hand on her whip-wielding one and forcing her to lower the weapon.
"He's genuine, Ria," Isaac muttered before adding to the Librarian, "Something's wrong. Sara, the spirit of the whip—"
"I know who Sara Trantoul is," the Librarian huffed.
Isaac nodded, continuing, "She's in pain. Lots of pain. It's causing her to be weak."
"She said it was like something was pulling at her insides," Ria said, her voice hollow.
Isaac grasped Ria's shoulder, squeezing it once. The Librarian stared between the two of them.
"And people forgetting?"
Ria sighed. "No one, not even Sgt. Stone, can remember that Keisha Stone ever existed. Let alone… died. You remember, right?"
The Librarian nodded. "Of course I do, Adrianna. Now, what was that business about a forgetfulness spell?"
Isaac shook his head. "I tried to discover if any spells were in effect. But the only one I could see was the blood bond that Ria and I have. No other spells."
"Hmm," the Librarian muttered, moving away from his uninvited guests into an adjoining room.
Isaac and Ria shared a glance before following after, Ria slowly trying to wind her whip back around her waist. They arrived in what looked like a room one might imagine all sorcerers had. Pedestals stood here and there, with the wall and floor being covered in strange, archaic symbols. The walls were lined with shelves, with a good portion of those shelves being covered in musty tomes. Others contained foul smelling—and looking—items that Ria honestly did not want to think about. The Librarian made his way over to the farthest wall and traced his fingers along the spines of some of the books. Ria could see the dust flying up as he did so. She crossed her arms as he withdrew a particularly large book from the shelf, cradling it in his arms as he flipped through it.
"What's going on? What spell is being worked, and when do I get to kill the person working it?" Ria asked.
But the Librarian stopped his flipping through the book, placing a finger on a passage that she clearly could not see. He shook his head.
"It's not a spell. Not per se," he said.
"Then what is it?" Isaac asked.
The old man looked up from his book, brow arched. "It's a time rift."
Ria's eyes bulged. "You mean… as in someone screwing with time?"
"That's exactly what I mean… though, admittedly, I would not have worded it just so," he said, shutting the book with a sharp snap and more dust.
Ria shook her head. "What? What? What? I mean… do you know what this means? I mean, it's like… like the Butterfly Effect or whatever! You step on something so small like it means nothing, but then the whole freakin' world changes! Nothing ever goes right with time travel. Nothing! Or, or… you go back in time and end up being the beginning of your bloodline… or you kill your grandfather and you fade out of life! Oh my God."
Isaac and the Librarian both stared at the huntress blankly. As if they were not entirely sure what had just happened. Once she realized that such intense stares were upon her, she shrugged.
"I've watched a lot of sci-fi in my time. And time travel has always wigged me out," she said, hugging herself.
"Anyway… time travel may be the solution, not the problem," the Librarian said, setting his book aside in favor of gathering a large, stone bowl and several of those strange items from the shelves.
Ria shook her head. "How is time travel the solution but not the problem? What else could cause a time rift?"
The Librarian sighed, setting the items down on one of the pedestals with a deliberately loud clank. He set his best, Mr. Hamm-like glare upon Ria, and huffed.
"I'm unsure, Miss Smith. Perhaps it is both the solution and the problem. I must discover the answer in order to help you, hence the gathering of these spell items."
Isaac chuckled, and Ria smacked him. At that precise moment, Sara materialized beside the Librarian, resting one hand on the pedestal, and the other across her midsection. Ria's eyes widened.
"Sara! Are you okay?" Ria asked.
The ghost shook her head. "No. I'm not. Did I… hear that right? A time rift?"
Ria nodded. "We'll get it fixed, Sara. Like we always do. Just hang in there."
She smiled softly before disappearing from Ria's view once more.
Isaac wrapped his arms around Ria, holding her close against his chest.
"It'll be all right. You told her the truth. We'll fix this," he said, and Ria wound her hands in his black shirt, gripping it tightly.
"We'll have to wait until midnight to perform the actual spell," the Librarian said, pointing to a grandfather clock behind Ria. "A few hours."
Those turned out to be the longest "few hours" of Ria's life. Sara kept popping in and out of view, and each time she seemed progressively worse. Isaac stayed close by the huntress's side, trying to keep her calm, as the Librarian continued to mix ingredients for the spell. Finally, just as the strain was beginning to make Ria's eyes feel heavy, the clock began to chime to the midnight hour. Isaac bent, pressing a chaste kiss to her forehead.
"Happy birthday," he whispered.
She smiled sadly at him as the Librarian began to chant his spell. It seemed to last forever, but in reality, it only took a few moments. The old man gasped, leaning over his bowl, and sucked in air as if he had just been deprived. He shook his head, his eyes shining worriedly.
"What is it? What caused it? What is it that's making Sara hurt, and everyone forget Keisha?"
"Oh… oh, child," the Librarian groaned. "Be grateful that that is all that it is happening right now."
Ria stomped forward. "Be grateful that no one remembers my dead friend, and that my other friend is in intense pain? How dare you—"
"The time rift is originating in 1797," the Librarian interrupted.
Ria stopped her growing tirade. Her brow furrowed. "That year… it seems familiar."
The Librarian nodded his head. "As well it should. A keystone event—not just to your life, but to the lives of everyone in this world—has been tampered with. This was… this was a daring move by whomever did it. Honestly, it's amazing that only the three of us remain unaffected. But that will not be the case for long."
"What's the event?" Isaac asked.
The Librarian sighed. "Someone has moved Young Master Alucard from his original resting place…"
And suddenly, it all came careening through Ria's mind. The real reason why that year was just so familiar to her. She could clearly see the entry in her family's journal as though she were reading it right now. She swallowed hard.
"That was the year that Richter Belmont had been possessed by the dark priest Shaft. Had Alucard not awakened… had not sensed the imbalance… then…"
But Ria did not get a chance to finish. The Librarian nodded sagely.
"Lord Dracula would have been resurrected. And with no Belmont to stand against him and his son still in his eternal slumber… the world would have been his to do with as he wished."
"I've gotta fix this," Ria said, a soft puff of air escaping her lips. "I've got to put him back… before Castlevania rises in that year."
"Indeed," the Librarian said, moving to pull more ingredients from his shelves. "Thankfully, I can send you to that time. You and Laforeze, if you so choose for him to go with you."
"I'm not staying here… you're not going alone," Isaac said, his face a rare mask of leadership.
Ria nodded. "I need you with me." Then, touching the whip, she looked back to the Librarian, adding, "And this will fix Sara?"
"If the events are connected, which I believe they are, then yes. It will."
"Then let's go," Ria said, causing the old man to sigh.
"It takes a moment to prepare such a spell, Adrianna. Also, you must know… despite my power, there are limits. I can only send you back for a certain duration of time. A duration that, mind you, only you will feel. It will be as if no time has passed here in the present."
Ria's brow furrowed. A deadline. She had a deadline to save the world. She chuckled dryly. What else was new?
"How long?" she asked.
She grinned. "Plenty of time."
So the Librarian prepared the spell, setting candles and bundles of herbs around a particular symbol drawn on the floor in the center of the room. Finally, he directed that Isaac and Ria should stand just opposite him on the outside of the symbol.
"I'll open the portal here," he said, pointing down. "And the two of you will hold hands and jump in."
Ria immediately grasped Isaac's hand, intertwining their fingers, as she nodded.
"Be warned that time rifts are tricky, temperamental things. Magically inclined creatures, for example, will be able to sense me opening this portal and will be able to use it to ride to wherever—or whenever—they so please."
"We'll be careful," Ria said.
Isaac gripped her hand as the Librarian's chanting began. With her other free hand, she held tightly to the Vampire Killer. A light, brighter than any Ria had ever seen, began to open in the center of the symbol. Slowly, it grew until it encompassed the entire area. A wind blew through the room, whipping Ria's hair and threatening to tug her forward into the hole. She held on for dear life to both Isaac and the whip.
"Jump!" the Librarian called over the roaring. "Jump now!"
They did as they were told. And the sensation that followed was strange. Ria's entire body tingled, like something that was both soft and bristly was rubbing over her skin. And she could feel Isaac next to her… but she could not see him. Nor could she see anything in front of her. Finally, however, there was a spinning, a spiraling, that began. And just as she connected with something hard, she felt Isaac's hand bounce out of hers.
The air had been knocked out of her stomach just as she began to panic, and she tasted dirt in her mouth. Her vision slowly returned to her, as her voice muttered Isaac's name.
"Ria," he said, his voice full of warning.
It took a moment before she realized why this was. Once her vision had completely returned, she found herself staring down the blade of a gleaming short sword. She followed the weapon up to its hilt and further to see a woman with the longest blonde hair Ria had ever seen standing before her. She was dressed in tall, white stockings, a green frock, and what looked like an early version of women's shorts. Her hair swept the dusty ground that Ria and Isaac had landed so forcefully upon, and her bright eyes glared down at the both of them.
"Identify yourselves," the young woman demanded.
At precisely that moment, Sara faded back into Ria's sight, gasping. Her eyes trailed up as well, gasping as she rested her gaze on the young woman's face.
"Maria… Renard," Sara said as she faded away once more, her voice sounding like a tinny echo.
Ria knew that name, and she gasped.
"Maria?" she murmured.
The woman drew back, but still held her sword at the ready. "How do you know my name?"
Ria and Isaac stared at each other in disbelief before Ria finally sighed.
"It's a long story… a long, long, long story," she said.
End Notes: And what did we think of that chapter? I promise, guys, because I've been getting a lot of this in my reviews, that you'll hear from Joachim again soon. I haven't forgotten about him. I just have to get Ria into play. I hope you all enjoyed. Please R and R! Oh, and brownie points to anyone who can guess where I got the chapter's title from!