Turner never thought he would ever see himself in such a potion. Contained inside a human's body feeling deprived of his duties and helpless of himself. He recalled being buried in a cave with his brother once – only able to move so much or risk shifting a rock and further sealing them in – but even then he had had more control then this. He had never expected to be staring skyward at his own people before, either. It left even his nerves shaken to have his own friend reach for him. The young Guardian had never feared being crushed by a being bigger then him because there never was a bigger being. And he felt ridiculous being afraid of his own friend.
Jenna's feelings are getting to me, Turner realized, The longer I stay in her body the more they become my own.
He took a deep breath, which was really more of an empty motion since he couldn't actually breathe, and reached out to find his body. It appalled him how hard of a task that was. Was he already loosing the connection to himself after only two weeks? He reached out for the remaining pain that his physical self was suffering through. It was still quite noticeable, though much easier to cope with. Another week. He sighed. That's all he needed was another week. If he could just hold on to himself for that long…
'Turner?' The girl's voice brought him away from the thought. 'Are you okay? You feel really uncomfortable.'
'I'm fine, Jenna.' He sighed. 'Just a lot on my mind.'
'Oh, okay. Well, we're almost there.'
Before them the Fence loomed towards the sky like a barrier. In the dark its links seemed so close together that they formed a forbidding wall. Turner refused to allow his imagination bother him. This needed to be done. His Host stole through the park like a startled mouse. Her movements quick and concealed until reaching her goal. Squirming under a thick bush she squeezed herself beneath a rise in the chain links. Turner took note of the location. He gave the girl simple instructions and she followed them perfectly. For the moment there was nothing that could go wrong. No turns she had to make or anything else which required extra effort. The problem, he knew, would come when it was time to enter Village's gates.
It took a long while, but eventually the stone wall, iron gate, and guard tower come into view. The fire pits along the walls postings had been lit, throwing orange flames and shadows against the stone. Two guards stood erect at their posts. Their spears held upward at their sides with the sharpened tips gleaming in the light. He heard the girl take a shuddered breath. She was physically alone and if the guards decided to escort her back to the city the only thin she could do was run. And not get very far, at that. But Jenna didn't direct herself towards the gate. Instead she made dash for a large separation in the stonework. He wondered how the girl knew about the opening but felt it not worth bringing up. The girl stood in the doorway of the crack, frantically looking around.
'Go to the thickest path and take it straight until I say otherwise.'
The girl obeyed. It seemed since the incident at the mall Jenna was much more… docile then normal. She hadn't questioned or complained to him when he spoke of crossing the Fence or speaking to the Laylsix. In fact, there had barely been a shudder out of her when he said Kiirn's name. Turner knew well what was wrong with his Host; she was terrified. Her emotions were shaky and her obedient attitude was her way of handling it. Marrn was the same way. There was nothing he could do to ease the girl's fear and this helplessness of his creped up on him and clutched at his consciousness like a bad dream. He was far too use to being in control. He was far too use to being able to handle the situation and keeping others out of trouble. Not being able to touch the problem or interact with the solution, not being in the places he should be to correct the things that were going on, and not being able to peruse the person causing this destruction and unsettlement; this was a horrid feeling for him. It was a sensation he could barely stand. The Guardian took a deep, shuddering breath. This fear, he vowed, would not rule him.
'Turner?' Jenna's voice once again brought him from his thought. It seemed as though it was becoming a habit. 'How much further?'
'Left at this next turn. Then three houses down and we're there.' He hadn't realized how far the girl had gone. 'You're doing very good Jenna.'
The girl released a sigh at his encouragement. They watched the towering houses as they passed them incase any one was to suddenly step out into the street. It was late in the night – well after midnight – and several lanterns lined the darkened pathways. It surprised him how gargantuan the quiet homes looked from this perspective. Was there anything of his people's that wouldn't frighten a human? A garden, perhaps. But then, most flowers natural to their homeland reached high above a human's head. It would be like a forest to them. This time it was Turner who shook himself from his own thoughts. Instead he focused on the isle of shops that lined the streets once Jenna made the turn. All but one of them was closed, as he suspected, the third one down. Dim light flickered through an ornate glass window – a light blue tinted and speckled with colors and glass pictures – with the words 'Glass Works Shoppe' painted across the top.
'Knock.' Turner instructed. 'Hard.'
Jenna knocked and the sound echoed down the quiet lane. He could feel the girl's heart speed up at the intruding noise. Just as well he knew no one but the owner of the shop would open any doors. And still that took a while. When the door did open Jenna jumped back at the male who stared down at her. Turner had to admit that, from this perspective, his friend was a very frightening creature, especially with the light flickering behind him.
He was the type of creature that humans tacked the word 'tar' to the end of. The lower half a dark gray wolf and his upper a paler shaded humanoid man. Turner felt his Host shudder yet again as Row's eyes – one a light green and the other a blinded, glazed over creamy white – looked her over. Turner easily remembered how that eye got blinded, and what the result of the pain was. Now he hoped that result wouldn't be taken out on the human girl. The Guardian tried to coax the girl into to talking, though it seemed the scrutinious gaze of the bigger person was depriving her of words. Row took a step back then began to close the door.
'Jenna!' Turner half cooed and half hissed causing the girl to jump. They didn't have time for this. 'Would you rather we go straight to Kiirn's house?'
"Wait!" Jenna's voice came not a second after he spoke. Row paused, leaving the door open only wide enough to see her. "I-I was sent b-by… w-with the Guardian. W-w-we need to speak to the council."
"Foolish human." Row's voice was deep for his twenty-seven years, as though layered with years of age. Or in the actual case, pain and confliction. "You wish to speck to our Laylsix about the Guardian then go to them or find one of the Descendents. But the wisest thing you can do is go back where you belong before something happens to you."
Again he turned to shut the door but desperation grasped at both Turner and Jenna and the girl dashed into the shop before her heart had time to explode. The Guardian had to admit that he was both proud and surprised by her speed. Row's scrutiny turned into a hated glare. Jenna backpedaled into the nearest surface, her body trembling uncontrollably.
"I-I-I'm sorry. But… but we need you to gather the Descendents wh-while Turner and I go t-t-t-to the council."
Row grabbed an ornate glass vase off of one of the shelves that were covered in his hand made glass and iron art. Slowly he approached the girl, keeping her cornered and turned the opening of the vase in her direction. Any other time Turner might have found this humorous; someone catching a human that wasn't even running from you in an expensive vase like this was something of a joke. Only now was not the time to laugh about it. Turner quickly asked his Host one question and, after a hesitant yes, his words exploded from her mouth.
"Row, you fluffy cod, put that down this instant. Do you have any idea how much trouble you will be in with me if you dare put my Host in that thing?" Turner was satisfied with the stunned expression on his old friend's face. Though, not so much when the glasswork was dropped and shards shattered in all directions. It really was a beautifully made piece, like all of his work. "Now look what you've done. Well, it can be cleaned; we have more pressing matters to attend to. I want you to collect the Descendents while my Host and I make off for the Chambers, do you understand? This is of the utmost importance and I'll ask you only once to move as swiftly as you can." The Guardian knew that a few things were needed to make his friend believe it was him in the shaking little body and not some elaborate trick. One was the tone of command. Row was a fearsome looking man with a hard gaze and no human in their sane mind would dare speak to him in such a manner. Two was to stress the word Host since he knew that Row would be one of very few without Guardian blood who knew what happened to him. And three 'fluffy cod' had been the playful name that the four of them secretly shared for him since childhood. These three factors were enough to make the larger man halt. "Get a move on, Row, this isn't the moment to waste time! I want them at the entrance to the Laylsix Chambers now if not sooner!"
Row took a step back, examining the little figure. "Turner? How… this is your Host?"
A fierce growl escaped the girl's lips. "I will not ask you again!"
Then Turner gave Jenna back her body. He watched as Row walked into the night air, holding the door open for the girl until she darted past him and well out of his reach. It was only when she saw him go the other way that she took a moment to lean against a store wall and cry. The Guardian allowed her to do this for a few moments before sending soothing vibes through her. He knew why she was crying, and it wasn't just out of fear. When the girl had composed herself Turner instructed her on where to go. For his human it would be a long walk, though the small pack which carried food and water would help, and the sun would just be coming up by the time the reached their destination.
The entrance to the Chambers, even to the young Guardian or anyone else of his kind, looked like a giant cave. And in all actuality it was. But deeper inside was so much more. A massive network of tunnels, pathways and halls, each sporting hundreds of natural rooms and chambers used throughout the decades. The dark space lit by moss lanterns that lined the ceiling, causing the occasional untouched jewel to sparkle. Hideaways poking through the wall to conceal little secrets. All of the history and energy built up made the walls squirm with life. The twists and turns, rise and falls of the earth, would be a formidable foe to anyone not trained or raised in the depths. And still, if one was unaware of the slight markings on the ground to guide them, even the most coordinated person could get lost. Luckily Turner knew them well. But his knowledge would be unneeded.
The man standing guard at the mouth of the cave raised an eyebrow as the girl neared. "Well, hello little one. Can you be helped here?"
Turner could almost smile at the man and his formal yet humored tone. Jenta had possibly seen all there was to the Chambers and who moved in and out of them. So much so, in fact, that it seemed nothing could surprise him anymore. The man was old, well near two hundred though looked closer to his forties. And that was an accomplishment considering his people had started loosing years in recent times. But now Turner could see Jenta taking in his Host's white dress and pulled back hair and instantly knew what the girl was there for.
"We don't get many lone humans here." The old man said kindly. "Never actually. You've always had an escort though Village. I'm impressed. But, child, you look tired. Have yourself a rest."
Jenna shook her head, though Turner could feel the exhaustion in her body. "I'm not alone. I'm the Guardian's Host. We REALLY need to speak to the… Laylsix right now. It's important. Have the Descendents made it here yet?"
"So you're Turner's Host, huh? You're younger then he is. No, just two of the Descendents are here. Come inside where they are and rest until the others show. It shouldn't be too long."
The young Guardian marveled at the tunnel walls from the smaller body. The ceiling seemed so much more distant now. He paid attention to how difficult it was for Jenna to keep up with Jenta's huge strides, how each step set a tremors through the earth, and how looking up at the man put a lump in her throat. In another week she would have the same feelings about him. A large part of him did not want the girl afraid of him. In fact, all of him did not was her afraid, but he knew that thinking of him in her body and seeing him in his own were two completely different things. One was daunting and the other was terrifying. It was a problem that she would have to mend on her own. He placed his focus on their path instead of the depressing thoughts. Yet they nagged at him, constantly whispering that full peace could not be achieved if the humans remained afraid. The confirmation only proved itself when Jenna halted dead in her tracks upon seeing the two Descendents standing by the huge stone doorway at the end of a passage.
Abeila's innocent face looked bed whipped. Though her white garments were pressed and neat her red and silver hair had been yanked into messy pigtails. No doubt by her father who waited behind the door. Across from the child was Geeb. Nothing about the aged woman was pressed or neat; it appeared as though she had rolled out of her bunk already dressed in her formal attire. Both females dipped their heads upon seeing Jenta approach. Turner encouraged his tired Host to rest her legs while they waited for the others to show. She did this gladly with not a word, but a held up sigh, and slumped to the ground. Unfortunately her reprieve lasted just a few minutes as a group neared the end of the passage. Jenna made a strange noise that he often heard from her when she first wakes up and pushed herself to her feet. Jenta addressed the six approaching figures before slipping into the room to announce their arrival. Jenna shuddered. She had backed herself against the wall leaving herself at the mercy of eight pairs of eyes. But it was Kiirn – and Turner easily felt the horror swell up inside her, regardless of the fact that he saved her life a few days ago – that took a steady step towards her.
The door swung silently open allowing Jenta to step out. "The Laylsix will see you now."
Kiirn sighed and stepped back as everyone waited for Jenna to enter the room first. For this Turner had to coax her, reminding her that time would move faster if she did. The room itself was large yet only housed a fire pit in each corner, an elevated dais in the back, and a pendulum against the two side walls. Turner knew well that each of these had a meaning. The head of the Laylsix, a black bodied woman robed in a cream tunic and pants, stood on a slight incline at the farthest end of the room. Seated on either side were Embrace, Toben, and Zega. Each held themselves upright, each worthy of their position on the Wint council. Their faces remained straight as the girl slowly passed. To Turner's satisfaction she did not make eye contact, stopped just before the incline, and even remembered to bow her head to the Standing council member.
"So you are the little one who has taken duty as the Host of or Guardian?" Mare stepped away from the dais to kneel before Jenna. "It is an honor to finally meet you."
The Guardian had never thought of the woman as frightening – she was not tall by their people's standards - but in this body he had to admit that it was off putting to have the imposing figure lean over his Host. Jenna nearly backed away and only just stopped herself realizing that the act could very well insult the woman.
Mare stood, taking a step back to ease the girl. "There is no need to be afraid, dear. We are all here to help. One of ours is casing confliction with your people and we are glad to have this chance to speak with the both of you about it."
"W-why though?" Jenna's voice broke only slightly. "Why would any of you want to attack us? What have the humans done?"
The woman shook her head in answer. "The humans have done nothing as far as we know. This person just has a black heart. We are unsure if this person is finding mere enjoyment from these acts or has something deeper in mind."
"Can you stop them?"
"We must find them first. Please, tell us of all the places that have been attacked."
Turner helped to remind the girl off all the places to be attacked. First the port that was hit by a sudden wave from calm waters. Then the hospital which had flooded from the top level downward. The police station caught fire. Whirlwinds hit both the community and convention center from the inside. The mayor's office suddenly collapsed underground. And finally the mall hit by an earthquake. As the destructions were listed something clicked in Turner's mind. Something so obvious it was hard to spot.
'Clasia 'De Manor!' The Guardian shouted causing the girl to flinch. 'Repeat it! Clasia 'De Manor. It's a book, a classic. It's about twelve phases of destruction done in six ways. The leading character has what humans call O.C.D and finds a scroll on the six main elements. His disorder causes him to double the techniques and try them on a large village. Once he starts he can't stop until the deed is preformed six times at six different locations. This person is taking from that book. Thus far we've seen seven of twelve coming attacks, five more are coming before they move to a different area.'
The room was silent until Jenna repeated words.
"Now the questions would be 'where is this person?' and 'what could be his next target?'" Embrace ran his fingers through his red and silver hair which was as bed messed as his daughter's. "These have all been places where humans collect for like minded reasons. What other places of the like are left?"
All of the Descendents and members of the Laylsix were trained in geology. Incase of emergency all of them knew what buildings were built and where.
"The school." His Host whirled to see the speaker behind her. Kiirn had his head bowed for speaking out of turn. "Two if I'm correct – one for the younger children and one for the older. Another is being built, but not operational so it would not be bothered with."
Abeila stepped forward. "The museum."
"T-there's a strip mall that's got a lot of popular stores, and…" The realization seemed to dawn on them both at the same time. It was such a large collection built by a wealthy man and took up a lot of nearly five square miles. It was impossible to miss with all the sighs for new construction. Jenna swallowed and Turner almost did not want her to say more. "The Hilmer apartment complex."