You can find Chapter 1 – 17 here.
Seraphina’s words, spoken so clearly and directly, had knocked me out again. I still hadn’t seen natural light since realizing where I was, so it wasn’t easy for me to decipher how many hours I had already spent trying to recover from the wound the poisoned bolt had caused. But when I woke up to face the soft light the magical orb provided, two friendly faces were there to greet me once more. Drake looked at me warmly and immediately offered me a piece of dark bread, which I accepted eagerly. After quenching my thirst, it was time to still my hunger. I focused on Seraphina, who was pacing the room looking terrible. Her flowing red hair was disheveled and it seemed as if she had been crying for a while. She had lost some weight since leaving the city and did not look healthy at all.
“What happened to Laurenar?” I asked into the room, remembering the conversation I had before my recent blackout. I hoped Drake would answer the question as I finally noticed the pain Seraphina was in. But Seraphina began telling the story:
“Drake was set to answer your question about what happened to the Crimson Crocodile, when you fell to the ground. I rushed to see what was wrong with you, while Laurenar and the others took up arms immediately. The bolt had hit you in the shoulder and the impact combined with the poison knocked you out. But we couldn’t see anybody. It was clear we couldn’t stay on the Island any longer. We decided to get you off the Island as quickly as possible. I took care of your wound, while Drake prepared the little boat they used to escape the Crocodile. If you’re still wondering what happened to the ship, the pirates sunk it.”
I looked at Drake, who sighed at the mention of his old ship. The ship had been his pride and his home. Losing it had been a great blow to his confidence. But he still tried to look encouraging and friendly towards me. I appreciated his presence immensely. Seraphina handed me another glass of water before continuing:
“We still hadn’t seen any sign of your attacker. Drake’s crewmembers rowed the boat as close as possible to the beach. But when they came into our view, so did the enemy. A bolt and two arrows were fired from the shadows. Laurenar managed to push me out of the bolt’s way immediately, while his armor absorbed the hit from the two arrows. I conjured a shield around us, which prevented the second wave of projectiles from hitting us. Michelle and Tyler, the two surviving sailors, joined us together with Drake. Laurenar ran to where he expected the enemies to be hiding. They were still concealed. Drake and Tyler used this little break in fighting to drag to the boat. Michelle and I trailed Laurenar by a few steps. But we weren’t close enough. The next wave of projectiles targeted Laurenar. He staggered back after being hit by the first two arrows, but the bolt had managed to find the blind spot in his armor. The leather underneath his plate armor prevented the poison from entering his body immediately. Laurenar motioned us to get off the island as quickly as possible. We followed his advice, running back to the back and pushing us off the beach back in to sea. Drake and Tyler started rowing, while we could see three figures emerge from a hidden spot along the cliffs. One of them could’ve been the same hooded person we encountered at the bombing of the Lion’s Den. They took Laurenar with them, while we took course back to the shore.”
Seraphina looked completely dejected after finishing her story. Drake offered her a glass of water, which she gladly accepted. Laurenar was gone. The person I counted on for protection had been injured and taken. How would I ever manage to face the enemy without him? I examined Drake and Seraphina, who both felt exhausted and hopeless. Like I did. But they had saved me. I couldn’t pay them back by giving up hope. I emptied my glass of water and asked them a follow-up question:
“How long was I passed out?”
Drake answered. “The journey from the Island took a full day and night. You’ve been slipping in and out of consciousness for three days. So today is the fifth day after the attack.”
“Where are we exactly?” I looked around, still in complete darkness.
“We’re in one of the queen’s safe houses in a little fishing town far off the capital.”
I nodded and thought back to the real world. In the video game world, which resembled this game so closely, several safe houses were hidden throughout the world for eager explorers to find. Most of them were empty, only filled with little Easter eggs to be found. It felt strange that even supposed secret locations had made it into the virtual world of Illusio. I noticed how I was starting to feel tired and ready to fall asleep again. The poison hadn’t left my body completely.
“How am I doing?”
Seraphina had regained her composure and a slight smile appeared on her face. “Your recovery has been a very positive surprise. Tyler was an accomplished hunter before he turned to the Queen’s service. He identified the poison and helped find the ingredients for an antidote. It required full darkness to work its magic. And you won’t have full movement in your sword hand for a while.”
“It’s not like I was a master swordsman before.”
Seraphina let my comment pass. “But you’re responding well to the treatment. Much faster than anticipated.”
“Do any of the others have injuries?”
Drake shook his head and I was relieved. It was bad enough that we had lost Laurenar. I stared at the ceiling for a minute. My two colleagues almost thought I had fallen asleep again, when I mumbled: “What would Laurenar do if I was taken?”
I didn’t wait for an answer. The enemy had taken Laurenar. They had been my goal all along. But now, they had upped the stakes and given me a renewed sense of urgency. I knew we couldn’t leave right away, but we didn’t have much time, if we hoped to find him alive. I doubted he would get the same medical treatment I got.
“He would come and get me. We need to get him back.”
“Well, I give us two days to figure it out.”
First of all, I want to thank everybody who has been reading my posts so far and who have been commenting on my work. It’s really motivating and your insights have been really helpful! Please feel free to leave feedback any time in the comments or on Twitter!
Have a fantastic weekend!