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Chapter 19

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Chapter XIX

Returned

 

As Jack walks down the road with his gun at the ready. He squints trying to see through the mist that has gathered on the road. As he reaches the spot where Nick was taken from, Jack notices a small heap next to the road. He goes over and turns over the body to reveal that it is Nick, completely out cold.

“Nick, can you hear me?” Jack said shaking his younger brother slightly. After he gets no response he checks for a pulse, before quickly finding one. Jack examines the deep cut on Nick’s hand before hauling Nick over his shoulder and beginning to walk back to the manor.

The mist that was on the road was also set in around the manor grounds as Jack returns carrying Nick over his shoulder. As Vernon comes limping out towards them Jack puts Nick down on the ground and then collapses next to him. Vernon appears above Jack.

“Where was he?” Vernon said leaning down.

“Right where Dave said the two of them were attacked.” Jack said panting slightly as he tried and failed to get of the grown. “He’s going to need medical treatment for his hand.” He finished before closing his eyes as a Bot picks up Nick and carries him back towards the manor, barely visible in the mist. Vernon follows the Bot inside and Jack attempts once again to get up before collapsing back down, breathing heavily. “Yeah, I’ll just stay here a little while... Longer.” Jack finishes as he lays his head down on the grass.

 

A few hours later Nick woke up in the medical bay, he looked around at the clinically white room as Vernon and Charlie walked in.

“Ah finally awake I see.” Vernon said limping towards the bed, utterly relived to see the youngster back home.

“Yeah. What happened?” Nick said looking around at the clinical room, it felt like a lifetime since he had been inside this part of the manor. Or any other part of his home for that matter.

“We were hoping you could tell us.” Vernon said sitting down in a nearby chair. “We know what happened before you were taken. And when you were brought back, but not what happened in between. Where were you?” Vernon finished looking at Nick.

“I… I don’t know.” Nick replied. “I don’t know where I was. I just remember getting knocked out and waking up here.” Nick said, trying to make them understand. “How long have I been gone for?” Nick asked.

“Two weeks.” Charlie replied examining his hand which was recovering but the wound had been deep, and she wasn’t entirely sure that it would ever fully heal.

“How did you injure your hand?” Vernon asked also seeing the deep cut that was still visible even through the bandage. Nick paused trying to remember then answering.

“Someone cut it. I don’t know who though, some kind of blood magic.” Nick said. or that was at least what he had come to the conclusion on. He knew how it sounded, judging by the look that Vernon and Charlie gave each other in that moment, both clearly thought that he had lost his mind.

“Blood magic?” Vernon asked. Charlie also looked interested at this. It had certainly taken a turn towards the interesting, that was for sure. Whether it was the truth or not was an entirely different matter.

“Yeah, they said they were going to try and break dad mentally or something.” Nick said trying to remember everything he had overheard. Whilst the idea of blood magic seemed preposterous. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. He knew for a fact that it had been used before as a way of contacting long dead ancestors for starters, although you could only find that kind of information in particular types of books.

“Alright lad. Get some rest.” Vernon said leaving the room along with Charlie as Nick lay back down and fell asleep almost at once.

“Who kidnapped him, The Answer? I thought he got all of them last year.” Vernon said, that was at least what he had been led to believe.

“If it was The Answer. Then they wouldn’t have returned him.” Charlie said. “No whoever took him needed him for a purpose and now that it has been done, they had no more use for him. We should be thankful that they didn’t just kill him.” Charlie said mockingly.

“Yeah.” Vernon said before and idea struck him and walked off towards the one person who could potentially give them some answers.

 

Up in Dave’s room, Vernon waited by the desk, hoping that the twelve-year-old would stop by before heading out. If truth were told, his initial thought was to go to Dmitri, what with having first-hand experience of the secret organisation, it was only natural. But with the soldier out west he would have to settle for the next best thing.

After ten minutes of waiting, when Vernon was getting bored and wondering why he had thought Dave would have come up here before leaving. When the door opened and the latter came through the door, armoured up and ready to go out.

“Ah Dave, I hoped to catch you before you went out.” Vernon started, but Dave raised his hand already guessing what Vernon was going to say.

“Vernon. I know you don’t want me to go out because of what happened in the city. But I’ll be fine.” Dave said smiling, trying to sound convincing.

“No. It’s not that.” Vernon said. ‘Not yet at any rate.’ He thought before continuing. “I need to know anything that was said when you were attacked on the road.

“A lot was said then. Why?” Dave said holstering his gun and making for the door.

“Because Nick is under the impression that they wanted either you or him for use in a blood magic ritual.” Vernon said quickly. This had at least given the desired effected and made Dave stop in his tracks.

“Blood magic?” Dave said turning around and looking as unconvinced as Vernon had been when Nick first told him. “I thought Nick was the smart one. But it seems like the fumes outside have meddled with his brains.” Dave finished and made to leave again before being called back once more.

“I know how it sounds kid. But I need your help on this one.” Vernon said sitting down on the bed, resting his walking stick next to him and sighing. Dave had known Vernon all of his life, and this was the first time that he had seemed to him like an old man, so despite the promise of adventure on the outside, he walked back into his room, closing the door behind him.

“Look I don’t know. They said they only needed one of us. But that’s all I can remember.” Dave said, sitting down on his bed next to the old butler and looking sincerely up at Vernon.  As they spoke the sun started to make its descent and Dave got back up. “I’ve got to get going.

“Dave, you don’t need to keep going out.” Vernon said clutching his walking stick for support as he too got up and walked to the door.

“Yes, I do.” Dave said stubbornly.

“Why?” Vernon asked simply.

“Because Mia is still out there, somewhere.” Dave said, going slightly red as he spoke. “You think I should just give up. Don’t you.” The boy finished.

“Yes. Yes, I do. But that is not up to me to make that decision for you kid.” Vernon said walking out of the door. Although he doubted that the girl was still alive, for all intense and purposes she was most likely dead. Very few had made it out of Boris’ fortress alive after the raid, and Mia was not one of them. But the old butler would not raise his doubts, not whilst Dave still held out hope for her return.

 

Back outside the mist was still resting upon the manor grounds. Vernon sighed as he looked out into the murky greyness that surrounded the hills surrounding the invisible perimeter. As he walked out into the mist, he thought he saw something move about halfway up the slope. He took out his gun and limped towards it, followed by one of the Bot’s who had seen him advancing forward. He stopped however when he saw who it was.

Martin was lying underneath the tree that Laura had planted before her death, he had known that both Dave and Nick had liked to come out to this spot just after their mother had died. But he had never seen Martin down here before. Beside the young boy, curled up next to him was Echo, the husky’s golden eyes scanning the horizon.

“Martin?” Vernon said, and the boy looked up in astonishment, it wasn’t completely surprising. The old butler guessed that the boy had thought himself alone. He however did notice something unusual, as Martin got up from where he was lying down, he pocketed a small book into his jacket.

“What?” Martin responded, putting his hands into the pockets of his jacket and looking innocently up at the old butler.

“What did you just put in your pocket laddie?” Vernon asked, nodding towards the bulking object in Martin’s pocket. The lad sighed and took out the small book that he had previously tried to hide. Unlike his older brothers he had learnt that it was completely pointless lying to the old butler, as he seemed to have a skill in detecting when people were lying to him. As he handed the small book over to Vernon, Echo got up off the ground and walked over to stand by his side.

Vernon took hold of the small book and opened it. Inside were a collection of seemingly random scribbles and notes littering the pages.

“Who gave you this?” Vernon asked, looking back up at Martin, who looked down at the ground.

“Nobody. I found it.’ Martin said, talking to the ground, and Echo barked in agreement.

“Really. Where did you find it?” Vernon said, he wasn’t even that angry, although he would honestly prefer it if the people that lived in this house would give him a straight answer for once.

“Da’s office.” Martin replied, looking sheepishly up at the old butler, waiting for the onslaught to come his way. But no such attack came, partly because Vernon was scared of what Echo would do if he started to yell. But mostly because he simply wasn’t angry.

“It’s alright lad.” Vernon said, handing the journal back to Martin, who quickly took it and re-pocketed it before looking back at Vernon smiling slightly.

“When is Da coming home?” Martin asked.

“I don’t know lad. Soon I expect.” Vernon replied, in truth he didn’t know when Alan would return, although he knew that he would eventually, whether it would be a day or a year. He would eventually return home.

 

Inside the medical lab, Charlie was finishing up her examination of Nick. Who despite the deep cuts to the palm of his hand, seemed to be otherwise unscathed. It was certainly odd, when the answer had tried to kidnap Dave, he had sustained more injuries, and whilst she was not one hundred percent certain, she had her doubts that the secret organisation was entirely responsible for what ha d happened to Nick.

“Well lad, you’re free to go when you feel ready to do so.” Charlie said.

“Is that it?” Nick said, looking at his still blood-soaked hand, he had expected there to be a lot more wrong with him.

“Aye lad. You’re not to do anything that will put too much stress on that hand. But other than that, there appears to be nothing wrong with you.” Charlie said and walked out of the lab and towards the manor proper.

As Nick got up of the bed, he wandered around, flexing his hand, testing it to see how much pressure he could put on it before it would become damaged. Once he was satisfied that everything seemed to be working fine, he to exited the room and headed back into the manor, eager to find out what had transpired since he had left.

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