Marine knew she needed to act fast in case the magic stopped and she suddenly came back into view. The street outside Vanweer’s office building was beginning to come alive with the day’s activities and as she watched, guard after guard came tumbling out of the front door to proceed out in a different route through the city. They were after her.
Marine knew Vanweer wouldn’t risk causing a scene by filling the streets with guards unless she was hell bent on finding Marine. This was escalating rapidly. Marine looked about her for safety, but where to go?
Her first instinct was to race to her parents’ home and check they were ok - see that despite all this madness and the world turning topsy turvy, the little house still stood there between those of her neighbours. Marine’s feet began leading her towards the little house and the people she loved most in the world. She pictured herself bustling in and throwing their clothes into a bag - telling them to run away and keep safe until she could let them know everything was ok. Her mind was so distracted with thoughts of rescuing her helpless parents that Marine didn’t notice the guard looking to cross the street in front of her.
Not being able to see her own limbs, she didn’t notice they were on a collision course until they bumped into each other.
‘Sorry!’ The word fell out of her mouth towards him before she could stop her treacherous tongue. The guard blinked into the open air before him, brushing his arm confusedly. Then he seemed to force himself into understanding and swallowed with the shock.
‘She’s here!’ He sent up the alarm. Heads whipped around in their direction and Marine just about managed to get herself together in time to shrink back against a wall. It would have been comical if she hadn’t been so scared: all these official guards with their arms spread out in front of them looking for the invisible criminal. They looked like playground children.
‘She may have head home!’ Called an officer and signalled to his troupe to follow him. Marine’s stomach turned sour. She couldn’t go home now. There was no way she would be able to explain everything to her parents, including why she was a disembodied voice, before the guards arrived. She would have to look for Ezria.
Marine decided to head for the Cavern… the last place she had felt safe and confident. How had she got caught up in this mess? After a lifetime of wishing for something different and extra, Marine was beginning to understand why Tingions generally craved peace and simplicity.
She padded as quietly as she could across the city towards the Cavern. She saw fewer and fewer guards as she got further out into the outskirts and her heart rate began to calm. It was eerily quiet compared to the chaos in the centre. Marine quickly found the entry hole to the cavern and scurried inside, trying not to dislodge any rubble or small stones and give a clue to a spying eye that someone was here.
The tunnel seemed to have doubled in length since she was last here; it twisted and turned and every corner smelt of urine and droppings. Every few paces Marine had to stop to convince herself that she could not hear footsteps following her. She moved as silently as she could, but she was slowly starting to feel like her best was nowhere near good enough. She couldn’t stop thinking about guards turning up at her poor confused parents’ house. They would be drinking hot root brew and having breakfast when uniformed officers arrived and began banging on the door. Would they even knock?
By the time Marine arrived in the hollow of the cavern she was 100% glad she was invisible because tears were pouring down her tiny face. She stumbled to the middle of the hole and sat on the floor - hugging her knees up to her face.
‘Marine?’ Came a gentle voice behind her and Marine’s head whipped around. She saw Ezria emerging from the gloom.
‘Can you see me?’ Asked Marine, trying to wipe the tears and snot from her face.
‘Yes.’ Said Ezria, and Marine breathed a sigh of relief that she was again visible. She looked down at her feet. They were still not there.
‘Oh!’ She exclaimed, ‘How?’
There was a pause as she watched Ezria swallow and seem to make up her mind about what to say next.
‘I have gifts too.’ Came the words eventually. Ezria’s voice was so quiet and faint that Marine was hardly sure she had heard them right.
‘You? You have the magic?’
‘I do. At least, I think you and I have some similar abilities. From what I’ve noticed occasionally of you in your training, and then that night in the rain confirmed we were similar. Of course, I have had many more years to hone the control of mine.’ Ezria reached out an arm and handed Marine a cup of steaming root brew. Marine concentrated on getting the cup safely to the lips without pouring the scalding liquid down her front. Ezria watched her fondly.
‘Why did you send me to touch the stone?’ Marine asked suddenly, ‘I mean, if you had the magic too?’
‘I thought you stood the best chance of not being detected in the lab. My face is too well known. It turns out neither of us stood a chance about Vanweer but I took a gamble. I’m sorry you were put in danger.’
‘Why not just touch the stone topside? We could have known what was happening before Vanweer even got involved?’ Marine was beginning to unwind the knot of tension in her back now the hot root brew was in her stomach. She realised how tired she was having been awake and on edge all night.
‘I couldn’t risk it in front of the team. I have been growing suspicious for nearly a year that Vanweer has… had a mole in my team and I couldn’t have risked the stone glowing under my touch and then losing the stone as well as giving myself up. I didn’t realise Vanweer would make a move so soon.’
Marine had so many questions, ‘Wait? What? You knew something was up with Vanweer? You thought… but who? Who would have betrayed us?’ Marine threw the faces of all her old team through her mind, she couldn’t imagine any of them betraying Ezria. But then, she would have found it hard to have imagined being invisible in the Cavern as a fugitive before today.
Ezria was nodding tiredly before her, ‘Sadly yes. I have noticed er, changes within government for the last year. Missions that should have gone ahead being cancelled, evidence just vanishing into the system and everything being smiled over. It’s almost as if Vanweer doesn’t want the stones on people’s minds.’
‘But there was only one more left to find?’ Marine thought over the announcements that all but one of the Great Stones had been found.
They were interrupted then by Aysmar appearing breathless before them in the Cavern.
‘Aysmar!’ Ezria continued, ‘Do you have a report?’
‘Marine has escaped from Vanweer’s captivity and they have put out a city wide announcement for her capture. She has been listed as armed, dangerous and to be captured on sight using any force. Her parents have been arrested and taken to Vanweer’s office. Have you seen or heard from Marine? Where do you think she would go?’
Ezria and Marine looked at each other in horror.
Do they tell Aysmar that Marine is there and invisible?
- Yes but they say the invisibility was Vanweer’s doing
- No, but when Marine is visible again they do reveal that she has some magic