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Chapter 30

  • The ashes were scattered on the battlefield. There was no blood in the fallen arena, but there was clear evidence of the massacre. No animal dared approach the area, there was no noise in the air. It was as if the place was trapped in a void of sound, of movement, of life. But if anyone was paying close attention, they would see the change. It was subtle, like the climbing of a single ant into a picnic basket. But then it grew as if that one little ant called for others and they gathered into so many that it was no longer possible to ignore the takeover. The ashes gathered around a single spot, pilling up to envelop that precious spark, the last thing clinging to life among the vast ruination of the area. The cocoon allowed the spark to grow, to reignite the ashes, and develop steadily. Much like the beginning of life, a unit is all it takes. From a zygote to a blastocyte, to an embryo and more, growing gradually until it is ready to be born. And born he was, or rather reborn. Nate felt the process like never before. The warmth that always came first, that nice feeling of comfort and safety. Then the pain, that was bound to come while making yourself whole again. Finally, the freedom, the unmistakable sensation of air drilling the way to your lungs after a long period of absence. The thrilling feeling of muscles stretching to create movement. The one thing he could never get used was the confusion. The memory loss, the maladjustment, and worse of all, the uncertainty. Nate never knew what lead him to rebirth in the first few hours. What could he possibly have done in those last moments? Was he still in danger somehow? His heartbeat always spiked when he regained consciousness and he had learned how to control it. He sat above the ashes that allowed his return, breathed in, and thought about his body. His feet, calves, thighs. He breathed out. Hands, elbows, shoulders. He felt the weight of his body, the flow of his blood. Then reconnected with his inner fire that had brought him back. After his breath was even, he pushed his memory to the last thing he remembered. He recalled a light touch, then a frown. It came back fast after that. A discussion with Brianna about their future. And then him storming out and regretting it as soon as his feet were out the door. His breath caught up on his throat, desperate to remember more. But he knew it wouldn’t come, it never did. The process had its own time and there was nothing he could do to speed it up. Nate opted instead for reading his surroundings. The battlefield covered in ashes was proof of his doing. There must have been lots of opponents because almost two inches of cinder piled up in an almost perfect circle. He saw the remains of a wooden structure surrounding the field and understood the battle had taken place inside. He wandered for a while and saw their cottage. He hesitated before going in, unsure of what he would find. With a battlefield not far from their place, it was unlikely she would still be there. But it would be stupid not to look inside, even if just for a clue. The house was torn down, with overturned furniture everywhere and not a single sign of life. As if the emotions of the rebirth didn’t suffice, his heart picked up again thinking about Bree. If their house was like that and she wasn’t around, the prospect of her being safe was slim. Going back to the battlefield, he repeated his breathing exercise to focus. His next step was probably what he should have done first. He sensed her signature and saw she had used a great amount of raw power where he stood, but it was fading fast. He began to wonder if she was among the ashes, but that thought was soon scratched. There was no way in hell he would do it to her, not when she was the most important thing in his life. Sure, they argued about the Council and parted on bad terms, but now he hated that fucked up organization and… Wait. He thought about the Council again and there it was, unmistakable hatred. It wasn’t there before, so something clearly happened during the period of this memory gap. See, the gap is indeed a memory one. All you feel in your heart is not affected by it, so something happened during that period that made him change his heart about the Council. He almost lost track of what was at hand there, feeling soothed by a side thought that shouldn’t be happening at that moment, but came anyway. If he now despised the organization, his discussion with Bree was no longer valid and therefore he didn’t have to consider a future without her. Of course, that also meant his life’s work fell to pieces, but somehow he wasn’t feeling nearly as devastated as he should. Then, another feeling that might give him a clue emerged. He never really noticed how evaluating his feelings could provide that many insights into what happened during the gap, but maybe that was just because he usually didn’t feel much. He felt proud of her. Examining his feelings with the proverbial magnifying glass, he noticed a new sense to their partnership. As if they got closer because of the experiences they shared. But he was unaware of her whereabouts and that was troubling him the most. To the best of his knowledge, their last interaction was a fight about the Council and then they came to her house looking for her. Maybe they fought side by side and she made him proud, but then she left. Would she? If she were safe, wouldn’t she wait for him to come back? She knew about rebirthing, if she was there during the whole battle, she must have seen in happening. Why wasn’t she around, then? What if she wasn’t safe or the Council got away somehow, and he was there wasting time? He desperately wanted to remember, and every minute of the gap was excruciating.
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