Chapter Four: Part One

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Forneus sighed, idly stroking the sapphire ring on his middle finger, his eyes half closed as he stared at the glittering wall opposite. His gaze drifted over the doors lining the corridor without taking in the unique beauty each one had been crafted with, his mind on other matters; specifically a certain fiery being, and the teenage girl that seemed to be the subject of his ire.

It had taken Forneus several minutes after Phenex's departure to reassure Gwen that nothing that had happened—not Phenex's outburst, nor the artifacts' release—had been her fault. Once certain she had taken his words to heart, he had left her in the privacy of her quarters to shower and dress, telling her he'd wait for her just outside the door.

This was what he was doing as he pondered over the open hostility his old friend had displayed toward her. He didn't understand what it was about Gwen that had Phenex so bothered. He had interacted with humans—however briefly—many times following the incident three-hundred years earlier. Even going so far as to save thousands of them, Forneus had heard, during a mission in the 1950s.

Then what is it about Gwen that upsets him so? This he wondered for what must have been the tenth time in as many minutes, running his fingers through his hair with another sigh. As his gaze fell on a particularly large pyrite fragment imbedded in the wall, yet another thought occurred to him; when should he tell Gwen about her past, about her true role in regard to the artifacts?

The door opened behind him, chasing the thought from his mind. Gwen's chin-length blonde hair was still damp, her eyes bleary and rimmed with red as though she had recently been crying. Seeing her so miserable sent a pang through his chest, but he knew there was nothing he could do to help her. Even if Forneus were to bring it up, Gwen was much too proud to admit what she was feeling, anyway. Instead, he simply rested a hand on her shoulder, and asked if she was ready.

She looked at him and nodded, her lips forming a grim line. Tightening his grip on her shoulder, Forneus concentrated. As the power began to build in his chest, he could feel each individual fragment of crystal, pyrite, and marble blending together until the entire corridor was nothing more than a warped blur. The skin on the back of his hand—the same one on Gwen's shoulder—tingled, as if little bolts of electricity were dancing over his larger knuckles.

As the ether arced all the way up his arm and through his torso, coursing from him and into Gwen, he felt her stiffen, letting out a gasp when she felt the power pouring from him and into her. Fortunately, after having already travelled in this manner, she didn't attempt to pull away from him. Instead, she clenched her eyes shut, blocking out the dizzying blur of the Spectrum corridor.

Good, Forneus thought, relieved. It's just about time for us to meet with Phenex, anyway.

Closing his eyes, Forneus focused all of his will into visualizing the rendezvous point. It was only when he could see the cobbled streets of Wiesbaden clearly in his mind that he opened them again. There was a brilliant flash of white light, and in an instant, the Spectrum's colourful environment had vanished—giving way to the chilly, inky night in the capital of Hesse, Germany.

*

Gwen stumbled when her feet met solid ground, grateful when she felt Forneus's hand gripping her own, preventing her from falling face-first onto the concrete. As she blinked away the trace images of light dancing in her vision, she realized she wasn't standing on concrete at all, but on rain-slickened cobblestones. A stiff breeze blew her hair back from her face, the cool night air making her shiver.

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