I can’t get that image out of my head.
As we run away from the scene, the recent events replay over and over in my head. Soveliss is tightly holding my hand, but it doesn’t distract me from my thoughts. Tears prick my eyes. My heart aches from how hard it beats.
My sister is corrupted.
That’s the one thing I never wanted to happen.
As we near the observatory, I hear the voices of Allisa and Sakasu whispering back and forth to one another. Snowie yips a few times as we get close to the door. We each go inside, and as we do, we hear our friends’ voices.
“Did they just get back?”
“I think so.”
We turn the corner for the library, and I see Nova waving to us. A wide smile is on her face until she sees mine. Immediately, the smile falls.
“Whoa. What happened?!”
Saisho stands. He walks up behind Nova. “Is everything okay?” He asks as he watches us.
Sakasu shakes her head. “There are many things wrong right now. So many things.”
“What do you mean?” Ikimono demands an answer.
Allisa looks at the tall, dark-haired girl. Her gray eyes shake a little.
“We saw Corruption.”
Everyone in the room goes silent. Looks of horror appear on Nova, Saisho, Ikimono, and Naomi’s faces.
“Corruption? Where?” Naomi asks.
Snowie walks up to my side.
“Well, you see, we went to Soveliss’s parents’ place, and they told us this weird poem. It didn’t even rhyme. Whoever wrote it was kinda dumb because it didn’t make sense… but anyway, yeah! So we got a piece of paper that I probably can’t eat. And when we were on our way home, we saw some girl that apparently Amai knows. I dunno her, she looks like she’s mean. But she got hit with Corruption, and then she started to attack us. So yeah. That happened.”
Everyone just stares at Snowie in shock and disbelief. I purse my lips, replaying what she just said in my own head.
“Violet was hit with Corruption…” Ikimono finally says. The girl with two eye colors shakes her head. “Dammit.”
“Can I say that word?” Snowie asks.
Everyone gasps for a second. I see Nova trying not to laugh, and Saisho is pale with shock. Naomi rubs her temples. I look over to Sakasu and Allisa, who seem confused. Soveliss is silent as he stares at the fox, speechless.
“Snowie.” Naomi finally speaks up. “That’s a bad word. We don’t use that language.”
“But everyone else uses it!” Snowie lashes both her tails.
“I don’t-” Nova speaks up.
“Neither do I.” Saisho says after her.
“See?” Naomi sighs. “We don’t use that language, Snowie.”
“Is this conversation even important?” I speak up finally. “We need to figure out how to save my sister.”
Everyone looks at me as soon as I say this. The room falls silent again. As they watch, I notice Ikimono, Naomi, and Allisa each cross their arms. Nova sits down in a chair with Saisho behind her, holding the back as he watches. Soveliss walks over to an open space as he summons his staff.
“Right. Your sister is in more danger than we thought. We need to come up with a plan to find her, secure her safely, rid her of Corruption, and then get you all home to the Normal.” Soveliss speaks carefully. His eyes scan the group before they fall upon Ikimono and Naomi. “Could you two please check the power room? I need to see what we have in stock for enhancements.”
Naomi looks at Ikimono. “I’d be honored to work by your side.” She says.
“I’ll help and do what it takes.” Ikimono says as she nods to Naomi. The two girls walk off.
Soveliss now looks to Nova and Saisho.
“You two,” Soveliss speaks up. “I need for you both to search the library. There’s a book I need; it should be a brown book with my name written on its cover. There’s a bunch of my family’s spells and tracking methods. The quicker we find it, the quicker we can find the spell to track Violet.”
Nova’s eyes light up. “Let’s go search, Saisho!”
“We’ll get it done!”
Nova and Saisho rush to the bookshelves. I watch as they scramble to find the book Soveliss asked for. They converse with each other as they pull books off the shelves, look, and then put them back.
I look at Sakasu and Snowie. The small fox makes her way onto Sakasu’s shoulder, and the blonde girl glances at her.
“So you two knew that girl?” The fox asks. Her two tails twitch as she tilts her head at me. Her eyes seem to get bigger. “Is she always mean?”
“Well, she had an attitude problem at home, but she was never like this.” I answer the fox’s question. “Violet… I don’t know what her deal is. I thought she trusted me. I’m her sister…”
“You couldn’t have known, Amai.” Sakasu whispers.
“But I’m supposed to keep the family together!”
Sakasu reaches out to me. “I don’t think that’s how a family works. Girlie, what Violet did in the past? It’s out of your control, whether you knew or not.” She takes my hands in hers. “We’re going to do our best to bring her home.”
I nod. “I know… But, what about the Corruption? Sakasu, that killed my father. What if it-”
“I’m sure we’ll be able to help her before the Corruption can do anything to her.” Sakasu interrupts me calmly. She squeezes my hands. “Soveliss seems to know what he’s doing. It’ll be figured out.”
“Yeah! Trust Soveliss!” Snowie yips. She looks at me, giggling. “He always knows what he’s doing!”
As the Kitsune says this, I hear Soveliss clear his throat.
“I’m flattered Snowie, really, but this task may be more difficult than we thought. Especially now that Corruption is involved.”
I look at the elf. “We’ll still be able to track her, right?”
“Oh, tracking her isn’t the problem. Now that I’ve seen her, it’ll actually be much easier. I can recognize her energy and presence now.” He crosses his arms. There’s cautiousness within his voice and gaze upon me. “However, just because we track her down doesn’t mean she’ll come with us willingly. If the Corruption doesn’t kill you, it changes you.”
“Still, we need to go after her.”
“And we will,” Soveliss says. “Once we have the ability to do so.”
Sakasu looks at him now. “Could we track her now?” She asks.
The Kitsune’s ears perk up. “Oh yeah! Could we, Soveliss? You have a bunch of toys in this place. One of them should help us, right?” Snowie asks. Her eyes are trained on him as he begins to move.
“Possibly,” Soveliss answers. His ears twitch a little before he looks back to the bookshelves. “Nova! Saisho! Have you found the book yet?”
I look over. Nova sits upon Saisho’s shoulders as she reaches for something high. I hear him yelp a little as Nova almost loses her balance.
“Nova thinks she saw something.” Saisho calls back over to us. “Give us a moment.”
“I almost got it!” Nova giggles, still reaching up for a book.
As I smile a little, I look over to Ikimono and Naomi. The two approach us again. One of them holds a small basket of vials, and the other has some oddly shaped objects. The girls glance at one another.
“We found these, Soveliss,” Naomi says. “Iki has some of those small power potions you created a little while back. And these are those Charm enhancers you were experimenting with.”
Soveliss’s eyes light up. “Perfect.”
I notice Sakasu looking at Naomi. Her eyes are wide with attention as she carefully watches her. A little grin creeps onto her face at the same rate as her reddening cheeks.
“We found the book!”
Nova and Saisho rush over. My attention is brought to them as they both grin.
“This is it, right?” Saisho holds the brown book in his arms. He hands Soveliss the book and smiles softly.
Soveliss nods. “This is it. We have everything we need.”
Snowie barks. “Then let’s get to it!”
“What do we have to lose?” Naomi asks.
My sister. We have my sister to lose.
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