Felisha bit her thumbnail nervously. “Jordyn, are you sure we can trust her with the truth? If anyone finds you, you know what could happen.”
“I know,” Jordyn replied bitterly. “You don’t have to keep reminding me. It’s not my fault that the people in your dimension think I’m a witch.” She huffed and looked away from the girl.
“I don’t think you’re a witch.” The noble’s daughter knelt down by Jordyn and placed a warm hand on her face. “Look at me.”
Jordyn looked up reluctantly at the girl. “She’s my cousin. If she found a way here, Graciela probably knows a way home. I won’t have to live in hiding anymore.”
“Let me come with you,” Felisha said. “Please?”
“What about your father’s estate?” Jordyn asked, biting her lip. ‘You’d be willing to give that all up?”
“Yes,” Felisha said. “My father would give his estate to any husband he forced me to marry.”
“So then, I’m your backup plan?” Jordyn asked, frowning.
“No, don’t ever say that. I’d give anything up to be with you. Even my whole life here.” Felisha planted a tender kiss on Jordyn’s forehead. “I don’t want to marry some noble’s son. I want to see your world. I want to be with you.”
“Okay,” Jordyn said, smiling. “You can come with me.”
Kenji knocked on the door, alerting the girls to his and Travis’ presence. “Back from training so soon?” Felisha asked, disappointment fluttering in her eyes at the idea of spending less time alone with Jordyn.
“Yes, Travis over here faked an injury,” Kenji replied. “He couldn’t wait to rush here.”
“Yeah, I needed to be with my cousin. How is she doing? Has she woken up yet?” Travis asked.
“Nope,” Jordyn replied. “She hasn’t even stirred. If not for her steady breathing, I’d probably think she was dead.”
“We need to call a doctor,” Kenji said. “What if she suffered something detrimental to her health?”
“We can’t,” Travis said. “It’s a situation similar to with Jordyn. Your people won’t understand. She’s a vampire.”
“A vampire?” Felisha cried. “No, they do not exist.”
“Why not? I have pink skin,” Jordyn said. “Have you ever seen anything like that before?”
“No but…you don’t have any powers. You’re a human with different pigmentation…” Felisha muttered. “Right?”
“Our mother is a witch,” Travis said. Jordyn cast him an angry look. “What? There’s no use hiding it. If Felisha wants to come home with us, she’d find out eventually. Life there is different than it is here.”
“You heard that?” Jordyn asked, blushing a bit at her younger brother.
“We both did,” Kenji replied. “I for one think it’s sweet. I hope you guys have a happy life together.”
“What about you, Kenji?” Jordyn asked.
“What about me?” He asked. “I’m going to stay here and keep being a knight in training. I can’t leave. It’s against my honor. I’ve pledged my sword to the king and I will die protecting him.”
“Would you consider me dishonorable, then?” Travis asked. “I’m abandoning the king.”
“For good reason,” Kenji said. “I cannot fault you for wanting to go home. But, you understand why I cannot leave mine.”
“I do,” Travis said quietly, looking away from the man whose words stung his heart. “I won’t forget you, Kenji. I meant that. Truly.”
“No one is going anywhere if Gracie doesn’t wake up,” Jordyn said. “What if it’s the darkness?” She looked at Felisha and Kenji. “We haven’t seen Graciela since she left our home, Fortitude, as a teenager. We were small children back then. But there was always one thing that our parents always talked about when it came to her. She could hear the voice of darkness.”
“Darkness…” Felisha said thoughtfully, placing a hand on her chin. “It’s like those stories our parents always told us growing up. They said to always behave because the darkness would sweep us away. Perhaps, Graciela has walked that path.”
“Do you think so?” Travis asked, looking at his sister. “No, I don’t think Graciela was ever like that.”
“No, absolutely not!” Jordyn cried. “People treated me like I was a witch and hunted me. It’s not a pretty feeling. We need to trust in her, and hope she’s here for a good reason.”
Graciela looked around the white space frantically. The pure white light was something she was not used to, and having been so close to the darkness for so long, it frightened her. “Hello!” She cried. “What’s going on?”
“The darkness lays dormant here,” A voice said. “Do not be scared. It can only awaken here if it joins with its other half. Your other half.”
The voice caused Graciela to jump. Though, it didn’t seem menacing at all. Nothing like the darkness she had often heard in her head. This voice was calm, like a mother soothing her child. “Do you mean Leon?” Graciela asked.
“No, your son. Kalmali Gray. He was here, just moments before. I believe his heart guided you here. What he feels in this space, you will too. And vice versa. If you allow yourself to open your mind to him, he can hear your thoughts from this channel. And you- his.”
Graciela placed a hand on her heart. It was strange to have a son, especially one that she had no recollection of. She hated to admit it, but she had no feelings towards him. What had he looked like? Was the darkness really his father? “He’s real, then? Not some made up memory somebody is trying to force me to believe?”
“He is very real,” The voice said. “Just as real as you. In fact, Kalmali is the key to getting your memory back. This channel that you are in right now is the combined subconscious of you and your son. It is a connection that the two of you share. Buried deep within this consciousness is your memory.”
“How is Kalmali the key?” Graciela asked. “How can he get me my memory back?”
“Right now your memories are buried. Something is blocking it…Since Kalmali can access this channel much more safely than you can, he’ll be able to undig it for you. Right now in the real world you are unconscious and will remain so while you’re in here. You must wake up.”
“How do you know all of this?” Graciela asked. “Who are you?”
“A friend you haven’t met yet. I promise, I am on your side. I have no proof that I can offer, just my word. I hope that you can trust me,” The voice said. “I will protect you and your son.”
“From what?” Graciela asked, in wonder. “The darkness?”
“Yes. When he was born, a portion of the darkness entered your son. Leon was supposed to extinguish the darkness from you before a baby could even be manifested but since he failed, the darkness was split in two. You and your son. If your dark hearts connect, the darkness will gain too much power. The future will suffer.”
“So then what…?” Graciela asked. “How do we protect our hearts?”
“You cannot meet,” She replied. “Not yet. Not while Nolan is still lurking. He wishes for your hearts to connect to bring upon a more powerful manifestation of the darkness and as you are Kalmali’s mother, it will be easier for you to reach him.”
Graciela felt a crushing sensation on her heart as she heard this news. Though she hadn’t felt anything towards her son, never having met him before, he was her son and she did want to be his mother. One day, when she was able to. “Will we never be able to meet?”
“One day,” The voice replied. “When the darkness is expelled from one or both of you. Preferably both, as that leaves no option for it to be passed down to another generation. But the only way to extinguish the dark from a person is to find their light. You need Leon and Kalmali needs…me.”
“Where….?” Graciela cried out desperately. “Where are you? Where is Leon? How do we make this stop?”
“Kalmali isn’t ready for me. Not yet. But you…you know where Leon is. Look inside of your heart. You’ll find him- because your light is never really far away. You have to wake up now, Graciela. The fate of the future is in your hands.”
“What do you mean?” Graciela asked. “Please, if you know anything else. Help me. Who is this Nolan guy and what is his end goal?”
“There isn’t much time, Graciela. Return and find Leon. That is our only chance.”
“How do I get back here?” Graciela shouted into the void, but there was no answer as the light faded away and Graciela was no longer in the white room.
“She’s moving!” Jordyn cried, pointing towards Graciela’s stirring body. “Oh my goodness. She’s awake!”
Graciela groaned, putting her hand to her head as she struggled to sit up. “What’s going on here?” She mumbled, looking around the brightly lit room. Her eyes fell onto Travis and then Jordyn. “You two are alright…Oh, thank the Watcher. You were on the list of people who had gone missing but, I didn’t know I’d find you guys here.” She looked around, the white room she was just in fading into nothing but a dream. Is that all it was? Graciela didn’t have time to think about it, she needed to get her cousins to safety where the dimension police weren’t looking for them.
“You weren’t looking for us?” Jordyn frowned. “Maybe you were right then, Felisha.”
“Woah, hold on Jordyn. She didn’t say that, did she?” Travis asked. He looked at Graciela. “You knew about us but you didn’t come to find us. What were you doing, then?”
“I was looking to recruit people to a new dimension,” Graciela said, kicking her feet off the side of the bed. “Our old one, our home…it’s sealed but no one would tell me why. We need to make a new one where we can live and thrive.”
“So there’s no home to go back to?” Jordyn asked, eyes brimming with tears. “That’s impossible. I can’t believe it.”
“It would explain why we showed up here out of nowhere though, wouldn’t it?” Travis asked. “Don’t you remember the explosion, and the big wave of darkness?”
“Yes but…” Jordyn couldn’t help but let out a strangled cry. “Our home can’t be gone. What about our families? Mom and dad, Harmony?”
“I…I don’t know, I’m sorry,” Graciela said, looking down at her feet. “I don’t know where my siblings or parents are either. But I think that some people might still be sealed in our dimension and I’m looking for a way to get them from there to our new healthy dimension.”
“So what do we do now then?” Felisha asked. “Trust that you will take us to a new and safe place?”
“Our cousin, Lily, is there with her girlfriend. There is also a friend- Ellery. He’s the child of a dimension watcher himself, so he is very powerful. He’s keeping an ear on the ground so if anything bad happens I’ll know. Either way, you can’t stay here. This isn’t where we belong and there are people looking for our family to answer for what happened to our dimension.”
Graciela let those words hang in the air. She could see the disbelief on her cousins’ faces. “I say we go,” Jordyn replied, looking at Felisha, Travis, and Kenji. She wiped a tear from her eye. “What else can we do? If there’s a way that we can get back home to see our families, we have to take that chance.”
“I agree,” Travis said. “We need to help. Graciela, just let us know what you need.”
As the girls packed their stuff- well, Felisha packed her stuff and the others waited, Kenji grabbed Travis by the arm and led him to the door. “We need to talk. Please?”
Travis looked at the man he had learned to trust and admire while he was in the dimension and nodded. This would probably be their last goodbye, and it’d be a hard one. One of the hardest of his life. If Travis admitted it to himself, he’d miss training every single day with Kenji. Kenji was more than a mentor to him. He was a best friend. The two men stepped outside, Kenji looking more troubled than Travis had ever seen him. “Is this your goodbye?” Travis asked. “We hug and move on?”
“I don’t want it to be,” Kenji said. “I can’t say goodbye. I know I don’t want to leave my home and my service, but I don’t want to lose you either.”
“Maybe we will meet again,” Travis said with a small smile. “It could very well happen.”
“But…what if what Graciela said is true? If her home is sealed away and your family is still there, does that mean you’ll never see them again? What if we never cross paths again? You say we might, but our whole lives could flash by each other and nothing could ever change. This is it.”
“That’s why I need to go with my cousin now,” Travis said. “Because I don’t know what will happen but I need to feel like I have some control over my fate. I need to help find my family, because they may be in trouble. I have had an amazing time here with you and I don’t want to lose you. But I also can’t sit back and do nothing.”
“I know,” Kenji said quietly. “Which is why I’m going to come with you. The idea of never seeing you again is really something I can’t live with. I won’t lose my honor by going with you. The king has a lot of soldiers fighting for him. Me? I can use my honor to live and die for something else.”
“You can’t give it all up for me,” Travis said.
“Why not?” Kenji asked. “I was willing to give it all up for a king who didn’t even know my name. But this is your family, your home. Travis, maybe one day I will be able to come back home and see what life has turned out to be like over here. And if not? Well, I’ll have you and that’s all I really need.” Travis pulled Kenji into him, much to the man’s surprise, and nestled his head into his chest. This was all he had ever wanted.