Lorry ran his hands through his hair. The monotone beeping of the heart moniter filled his heart with a deep sorrow. Mrs. Claiborne was asleep in a hospital bed, paper thin and paper pale.
For the past two days, he had watched doctors buzz around his mother like flies, while he worried. When he wasn’t worrying about his mother, he was worrying about his missing father.
“Here.” Eric handed him a cup of coffee. Eric shared his sister’s titian hair. His typically gruff demeanor hid a caring heart.
“Anything on Dad?” asked Lorry, taking the coffee. In the chair next to him, Carina stirred in her sleep.
Eric sighed, “About three weeks ago, Glassheart’s lackeys hacked into the video chat you had with your father. They traced it back to us. Did you notice anyone out of place, out of the ordinary?”
Lorry bit his lip, churning stale memories, “There was that woman in yellow. She gave me the creeps.”
“Woman in yellow?” said Eric, “Are you sure?”
Lorry felt his gnawing worry deepen, but he nodded. A few seconds later, he ventured another question, “Why did Dad call me? You said he was captured by then.”
“We believe it was an assurance call,” replied Eric, “We think they threatened to hurt y’all if he didn’t hand over the Amulet.”
“But he doesn’t have it,” replied Lorry. His fingers moved to clutch at the small disc beneath his shirt, “Because he gave it to you, and you gave it to me. They wouldn’t hurt him, right?” The worry was beginning to choke him, “Right?”
“Of course not,” answered Eric, “He’s their only lead.” Eric’s eyes, however, told a different story. He didn’t believe Mr. Claiborne was coming back.
Lorry stood up abruptly, “I need some air.” The worry was draining the air from his lungs faster. He didn’t even hear what Eric called after him as he left the room.
As Lorry walked towards the vending machines, he saw an Organization guard following him. He was never alone anymore.
Lorry’s hands shook as he pulled a dollar out of his pocket. The guard was just around the corner. He was just getting a pack of Oreos! Why did he need a guard for that? He was about to put his dollar into the machine when a hand reached out of the vending machine next to him and clamped down onto his wrist.
He didn’t have time to yell as the hand pulled him into the machine, except the hand didn’t pull him into the machine. It pulled him through the machine.
“Lorry!” said Michael’s voice. Lorry opened his eyes, and found he was surrounded by some kind of translucent walls. Michael and Morrigan were surrounded by the walls too.
“Whoa,” whispered Lorry. He poked the wall, “An Illusion.”
“Stop that,” hissed Morrigan, “You’ll ruin it.” She had one hand on the wall and sweat beaded on her forehead. Morrigan was an Illusion Mage.
“How did you two get in here?” asked Lorry, “There’s guards everywhere.”
“I know,” answered Michael, “They kicked me out when I asked to see your mom.”
“I found him sulking outside,” replied Morrigan, “I took pity and snuck him in with me. Figured you could use a friend.”
A kinder tone replaced her harsher one, and her cold eyes warmed a bit.
“What happened?” burst Michael, “There’s a rumor going around that your mom’s really sick. I went to the store, but you weren’t there. So I decided to check here.”
Lorry’s face darkened, “She’s got Beggar’s Sickness. They say they can’t treat it.”
“It’s not ‘can’t’, Lorry,” replied Morrigan, “It’s ‘won’t’.”
Lorry’s jaw dropped, “What?”
“I’ve studied Beggar’s Sickness,” said Morrigan, wiping sweat off her forehead, “There’s a rare flower. It grows in the Katiyan Mountains. It won’t grow anywhere else.”
“The Katiyan Mountains?” yelped Michael, “The Mountains of Death and Torment? Those mountains?!”
Morrigan nodded, “Most doctors aren’t willing to risk it.” She took a breath, “It’s not guaranteed to work. None of the adults would spring for it. We’d have to get it ourselves.”
Lorry mulled over his options. Stay here and watch his mother succumb to the illness eating away at her, or travel across the country and risk dying in the most inhospitable mountains in all Castille for a cure that might not work. For a moment, he considered telling Eric. No. If he told Eric, and he said no, then Lorry’s chance would be gone. Lorry pictured his mother, happy and smiling, and made up mind, “Alrighty then. I’ll go get it myself.”
“Not alone, you’re not,” answered Michael, pulling himself to his full height, “If you’re going to the Mountains of Death, I’m coming with you.”
“You two would be going in circles for hours without me,” said Morrigan, one hand on her hip.
“You’re coming too?” asked Lorry.
“I was the one who suggested it,” replied Morrigan, “We’ll need to head to Orchen first. There’s a botanist there who should be able to help us.”
“Guys,” said Michael, with a wide grin, “We’re questing. We’re questing!”