"Ell

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"Ell. Ellinder!" I called after him, but he kept walking, not looking back.

The slam of the door as he exited echoed through the house.

I sunk back into my chair.

"Oh gods," I said, burying my head in my hands.

"Aeris?" Sylvie said softly.

I forced myself to look over at her, unsurprised at the hard look in her eyes. Sylvie could be ditzy and sometimes naive with her notions of love, but her soft-hearted nature often times made her our moral compass. How disappointed with us she seemed was usually a good indicator of how badly we had messed up, and judging by her expression it was bad.

"You told me about Jaxen's mask, why didn't you tell Ell?"

"I... I don't know why."

Sylvie shook her head, "No, I think you do know, and you just don't want to admit it. Ellinder deserved to be treated better." Getting up, she started to walk out of the room before looking back. "Fix this. Please."

Blowing out a heavy sigh, I glanced at Jaxen out of the corner of my eye. He stared straight ahead, picking the stuffing out of a tear in the couch.

"Look I'm sorry about all of this, you kind of got stuck in the middle there. We don't usually fight..." I trailed off, not really sure what to say.

"You don't need to apologise. I should have known my being here would cause problems." Jaxen stood up, "I should go."

"Hey." Jaxen looked at me. "I'll at least walk you out."

Ignoring the cramp forming in my upper thigh, I forced myself to stand up, heading towards the back door.

"Better use the back door, you know with your mask now and everything." I murmured quietly.

An unusual chill greeted me when I opened the door, and I instinctively rubbed my hands down my arms.

"How are you going to get back up to the Aether anyway?" I pause for a moment, leaning out past the brick wall to see if anyone was around.

"The staircases. There are four of them, all leading straight from Imus up into the Aether."

My eyes cut to Jaxen. "Wait, what? So we could all just walk straight up and into the Aether?"

"I mean, technically, yes. I'm not surprised you don't know. The staircases are hidden away, it's not common knowledge, even in the Aether. Besides, the entrances at the top are heavily guarded. Well, except for one."

"Where is it? I know every inch of Imus, how could I have never found it?"

Jaxen turned his face skyward. "I don't exactly know. I never made it to the bottom to find the exit."

I look up too, scanning the spaces between buildings, desperately trying to spot this staircase with the ability to get me out of here.

"I can't believe I haven't thought to ask this yet, but why were you coming down here in the first place?"

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