After they had been walking for considerable time in silence, with Calen walking between Serpantha and Larpskendya, Serpantha said, 'Are you ready to tell us the truth yet Calen?'
Calen looked shocked, but the fakery was apparent to the Wizards.
'Apparently not,' Larpskendya joined in.
Serpantha looked her in the eye, disgusted, and said, 'Why?'
'Why shouldn't I do what I have to to win?' Calen dismissed.
Serpantha surprisingly stayed calm. 'You waited less than a decade; if you insisted on continuing to murder you could have waited.'
'I was desperate; I did not want to wait my entire lifetime. I have done my waiting.'
Serpantha just scoffed, 'Desperation? Is that really the best you can come up with? You know I was forgiving last time you nearly killed everyone because that was desperation and I understood. I know what that feels like because when I was younger I left my best friend for dead in the middle of a battle because I was so scared for my own life. What you are doing now is just being what your kind has always been, mindless killers.'
Calen was silent, and to fill the awkwardness Venibilles said, 'If you want my input you should have killed her…'
Serpantha turned around, 'Believe or not that is not helping son.'
'That's your son?' Calen asked.
Without looking at her, Serpantha replied, 'My second.'
'What about your first?'
'You got him killed. Therefore, unbelievably, my main concern is saving my son's life. Not yours, so I would more than watch your back.'
While that shut Calen up, Rachel wanted to know more, and she figured if the Wizards were not respectful enough to abandon her and Heiki, she was allowed to be disrespectful and ask about his son, 'When and how did you have a son before Venibilles?'
Gaze firm ahead, he stonily replied, 'When Larpskendya was still very young after our mother had died, I could not cope, and I got drunk one night with a friend of mine. I would explain further but I think you get it. He died when the Griddas took control of Ool.'
'I refuse to accept blame for any of that,' Calen interrupted, 'that was not my decision.'
Serpantha did not answer, there was a brief silence before Rachel turned to Venibilles, 'I meant to ask and since we have the time now, I'm guessing your species ages quicker, then?'
'Obviously,' Venibilles replied. 'I mean in your years I'm only five years old, but by your physiology I have the body of a fourteen year old male.'
'So—' Rachel began.
Heiki cut her off, 'How many questions do you actually have because I'm afraid this might last a long time.'
'Sorry,' Rachel sulked, 'unlike you I don't know these things.'
Heiki knew it was mean, but she just rolled her eyes at Rachel's sulking. They had much bigger problems than Rachel's feelings. Bitterness grew in Heiki about Rachel sometimes when she got upset, as Heiki had it so much harder. She still felt sympathy for Rachel, was very close to her, and truly, truly loved her, but sometimes Heiki's rage got in the way.
Suddenly it dawned on Rachel that they were not only effectively travelling through time, but had been gone from Earth for so long.
'Oh God,' she said, 'we're travelling through time; we will come out at the same time when we leave, won't we?'
There was a silence, until Rachel caught up with Serpantha and looked directly at him, 'Will we?'
'I don't know, Rachel.' He said, defeat in his voice. 'We need to close this gap in time, what happens when we close it we are yet to find out. I'm sorry.'
Rachel stopped walking and everyone else kept going. She was distraught – she found herself wishing this was a dream, even though she knew it wasn't. She bargained with herself, she would rather be on Ool with Griddas thirteen years old again and sleeping, dreaming all this. She would take anything, anything for this not to be real.
She had to start walking again to catch up, and when she did, Heiki took her hand, trying to silently reassure her. She did not know what to say, but she attempted something anyway, 'Rachel it's gonna be OK. We have a lot of intelligence and power amongst us, we'll do it.'
'No,' Rachel shook her head bitterly, 'it won't be OK, don't lie to me.'
'Come here,' Larpskendya finally spoke, turning around and taking her hand, stopping them walking, he called to Serpantha, 'we'll catch up.'
He turned around and they all stopped, 'You can't use magic to catch up. No shifting or flying it could completely destroy whatever structure is here.'
'I know, we'll catch up.'
Serpantha looked concerned, but made everyone keep going.
Larpskendya knelt down and grabbed Rachel's hands, looking her in the eye. 'I won't promise this will all be fine, because honestly I don't know – nor does Serpantha. Now, however, we need to focus on what we have to do, that being stopping whatever Calen is doing.'
'Why should I trust you? You left and wouldn't even talk to me!' Rachel wasn't angry, just hurt.
'I am sorry, Rachel,' he said, 'I truly am. It crushed me to have to leave and you have to believe that, however I honestly had no choice. You have to trust me.'
'Why should I? You left. You couldn't even say goodbye. You couldn't say anything? And everyone else seems to know things I don't especially Heiki. Why won't you have children? Heiki knew Serpantha long before me, why? Did I even matter?'
Larpskendya sighed, 'It is not like that Rachel, and you know it isn't. If you must know, the reason I do not want children yet is something I do not tell people. About forty years ago or so, I fell in love with a human woman. Both her and the child I had with her died. Unlike my brother, I find it harder to move on. She was the only person I ever loved; you have to understand I keep this from people because it is difficult to speak of.'
Rachel drew back, he kept his composure while telling her but she could really feel the pain in his voice. 'Oh.'
'That's as much detail I will go into for now, I promise I will elaborate later, which there will be one Rachel, you have to trust me that I will do whatever it takes to protect you.'
Rachel just started crying, 'I missed you. I need you. I don't want you to leave me again.'
Larpskendya held her and let her cry on his shoulder, but Rachel needed to compose herself quickly, which she did. Once she was OK, Larpskendya took her hand, and stood up, and said, 'Come on, we need to catch up.'
They began running like children in a playground. It had to be the happiest Rachel had felt in a long time.
'Mature,' Serpantha commented when they had finished catching up by running.
'You are, are you?' his brother teased.
Larpskendya was more his usual self, which Rachel missed so much, but he was still vacant – he still looked deeply concerned.
'In good news,' Venibilles announced, changing the subject, 'we shouldn't be far from the centre. The memories you now see on the walls are some of the worst we have, and they are much faster. It is because whoever or whatever is controlling this thing, wants us out. I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to seeing what it is.'
Larpskendya was impressed and looked at his brother, 'How did you work that out?'
'I didn't,' he laughed, 'they did.' He gestured to Heiki and Venibilles.
'Am I the only one here without some kind of super intelligence?' Rachel asked.
'Don't worry; I've never been the intelligent type.' Larpskendya reassured her.
Serpantha had one of his usual moments of immaturity, and said, 'You were always more the magical type. Then we have Calen, who is vacant in both fields.'
Larpskendya looked disapprovingly to him, but Heiki and Serpantha just laughed like children. Calen stayed silent, although not out of annoyance, fear or even not knowing what to say – she had begun observing, and Rachel made a mental note to keep an eye on her. It was probably the first time in her life she had not been afraid of a High Witch. Which felt nice, but Rachel knew she could not let her guard down. Heiki and Serpantha were behaving like children as usual, but they had in no way dropped their guard, no one had – she figured that must be important; she figured she had to follow suit.
Heiki wanted to be able to forget the situation she was in, and just enjoy time with Serpantha – she had missed everything so much: the fact their sense of humour was the same, the way he spoke, she even missed training. Which she never hated in the first place, it was just that it usually consisted of Serpantha yelling at her and criticizing her. Which wasn't mean at all, it's just Serpantha understood what to say and do to make her want to work hardest, and Heiki had always been defiant and wanting to prove others wrong, so if he told her she couldn't do it – it just motivated her. Although it could sometimes lead to fights and obscenities, none of it was meant, and she actually enjoyed that too.
Both girls feared what would happen after this. Even if they survived, who was to say they would not have their memories wiped and be put back on Earth? It was horrible to not fully trust the people they loved most, however it was mostly fear of losing them again that made them distrust.
'How do we know when we're near, though?' Rachel asked, 'I mean, how do you know what your worst memory is? When you see it, of course, we're nearly there, but how are we meant to know?
'I know my worst memories, and we are almost there.' Serpantha replied.
Rachel wondered what it was, and equally wondered if she would want to know.
While that sounded reassuring, they didn't know how long they had actually been walking, as time was almost frozen there. They didn't feel tired, or hungry or anything – just emptiness. It felt like they had walked a long time, there really wasn't a way of knowing, and Rachel tried not to think too deep or she would begin to think too deep and upset herself.
Serpantha turned to Calen, 'It would be really helpful if you knew what we would find, yet I know you have no idea what's there either, do you?'
'No,' admitted Calen, annoyed, 'I don't see why it matters, though, because it gives me what I want.'
'If you wanted yourself dead, there is a spell for that…' Venibilles piped up.
Serpantha smiled, 'I have never been more proud of you.' He paused. 'However something to create this much power as to bring memories to life…'
Heiki read his mind, 'May not be a something exactly?'
'In short, yes,' Serpantha looked to Calen, 'yet you absolutely refuse to give us an answer, so whatever happens I hope you are willing to take responsibility for it.'
'Serpantha for once can you tell me what you are thinking?' Larpskendya asked, with genuine concern.
'No,' he answered bluntly, 'I barely want to let it cross my mind, let alone yours. Besides, it's impossible.'
'Everyone has different perceptions of impossible,' Rachel interrupted, 'I mean, look at most human's perception of impossible, to humans, this is impossible. If I wasn't here right now I would say you can't change time and you can't alter reality.'
Serpantha didn't answer.