|| DORAN - Part II ||

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Author's note: All you need for this chapter is the meaning of the word "rime" is cold or frost. There might be certain things unclear but hopefully, they'd clear themselves up in the next part.

***

Eleni had been here. Eleni had been sent here.

This was a demonstration. Of what was about to come.

What other powers did she have? What else was she capable of?

I had to get her back.

Wiping my wet face with the cloak's fabric, I reached a trembling hand to one charred painting, with just a corner of the wooden frame hinged, the green color of a meadow on the edges, luring my tears out. I picked up all. All that I could.

Father had loved mother... he still did. He always would. How was I going to tell him? He'd break. Worse than me. Eleni had done this. Eleni had been made to do this.

Footsteps rang around me. Breathing heavy and frantic. "Doran..." Someone called. I picked up the ashes, not turning.

I felt a hand on my shoulder - Nova. I did not turn to look at him. This was because I had saved him. Because I had used all my fire in that dungeon. Challenged Neo. This was all because of Nova.

"Doran..." he called again, his voice guttural, "I..."

I swallowed, and stood up. "It's getting dark outside. Meet the Chief... you already know her. Get Dylan and some more Eclipses to protect my... father."

"Mate..." he stood up, clutching my elbow firmly.

I shirked his hand off bitterly, cradling the burnt canvas pieces close. I saw Serena and Ralph standing in a corner, and absent-mindedly extended the pieces to them. I averted my own moist eyes from theirs. I had to pick everything that was left. Not the time. Never the time.

"Mate, I... I am s-sorry. This... t-this..." Nova's voice was heavy, choked. My heart shattered.

On a numbing impulse, I turned and flung my body to his. To my friend's, who always apologized for his brother's sins. And he held me, as if knowing I would do just this. Knowing, I needed just this.

He let me cry on his shoulder, crying with me.

***

"I am getting her back." Eyes strained with fatigue, throat horse, heart sizzling, I spoke. Everyone looked at me, concerned and wary.

"Yes, you are. But hold on..." Nova said, standing with his face hardened, staring out the burnt window.

"I am done." I yelled, "Done with his shit. The Throne alone knows what else he has made Eleni do... what he would make her do... what he has done to her!" My throat choked on a fear like never before, the image of the red mass, of the hellfire, haunting my mind. My palms scalded; boots charred; soul colorless.

"He wants you to make a rash decision." Nova again said, calm yet eyes strained. "And I won't allow you to do that."

"Then what... do I just sit?" I screamed, my own voice deafening me and turned my head to Eleni's brother, "You want me to just sit?"

Ralph's hands clenched; eyes bloodshot. "No, you don't. Neither do I. Neo is always one step ahead, and we need to change that." His eyes roved around the charred room.

I sprung up from the ottoman, where I was made to sit and Nova put a step ahead instantly, stopping me like a solid wall of wind, resolute eyes meeting mine, "She will hurt you. Hurt you both. And that will be a guilt so heavy that she'd never forgive herself for."

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