Casey Drake: Karen: You think I'm happy about it?

DG: I didn't think you'd be. >:D

Karen: Oh just shut up.

DG: You want to be stuck in that building forever?

Karen: -.- I hate you.

DG: Thank you. >:P Anyways, I am, I am! :P ;)



-Talking Telepathically-



"Talking over a phone"

Chapter Nine

The Home Stretch

Karen stared at Lieth for a few seconds. "You're kidding."

"No." Lieth was serious. "It all happened soon after we arrived at this time. Shadarin found out Sarabré was here, so he moved a lot of the Order to this time. The strain of going forwards and backwards in Time so much in such a short amount of time-and not alone, but with several people-killed them all."

"Did you see it happen?"

Lieth shook his head. "It happened a while after I got to this era."

Karen was now very confused. "But…if he can't travel back in time, why did Shadarin kidnap me at all?!"

"Maybe he's still interested in Sarabré's power. After all, you still have it, as you've already demonstrated."

Karen nodded. "True. But why would he lie to me?"

Lieth shrugged. "I have no idea. But I'm surprised he told you anything."

Karen groaned. "Knowing my luck," she muttered, "he's got something up his sleeve."

After a short pause, Lieth reminded her, "Uh, we need to get going."

"Uh…right." Karen was embarrassed for dawdling for so long. They continued walking for a few minutes, silently. Lieth was looking for guards while Karen and Sarabré tried to figure out why Shadarin had lied. Sarabré chastised herself mentally for not figuring it out earlier. None of his explanation made any sense.

The silence was shattered by Lieth stopping and whispering, "We're here."

Karen quickly discovered that she only needed her nose to tell her that. She had to restrain herself from letting her disgust become vocal. One muffled cough did escape, which, thankfully, didn't alert the guards to their presence.

Karen looked around. It was just a normal room with two guards, one on each side of the archway that led into it. There were two big, wooden doors, but they were open. Apparently, someone was delivering garbage.

"Why won't there be a wall behind the garbage dump?" Karen asked worriedly.

Lieth grimaced. "Think about it. Would you really want no ventilation at all in a place like this?"

"…Good point…"

A small smile appeared on Lieth's face. "Besides, why else would they protect this place? To make sure no one loots the garbage?"

"Another good point." Karen felt a little dumb. "Are there any more reasons why you know there's a way out through there?"

"I've seen it." Lieth informed her simply. "Apparently, every once in a while, they take the garbage out and…do whatever with it."

"Maybe they bring it to the nearest dumpster." Karen replied sarcastically. "Or maybe they have their own private landfill."

Lieth ignored the joke. "Whatever the case, there's an exit."

They both watched. They knew that they would have to go in before the guards shut the door. Just then, Sarabré got an idea.

-Karen, you and Lieth move as soon as the guards are out of the way.-

Karen was confused. -And they'll move…why?-

-You'll see.- Karen folded her arms. She was pretty sure that Sarabré enjoyed this…

-Understood.- She turned to Lieth and said, "Sarabré told me that we need to 'move as soon as the guards are out of the way'." Before he could ask, she informed him, "Sarabré didn't explain."

Just then, Sarabré's illusion appeared in front of them again, except a little different: she was wearing one of the black collars Lieth knew only too well.

Before any explanation could be demanded from Karen or Lieth, Sarabré ran towards the arch…

The guards most definitely noticed her. "Hey!" One of them shouted, and he tried to grab her. She dodged just in time, but quickly had to move away from the other.

Both guards tried to apprehend the illusion, but she managed to escape to the dump. She pretended to be trying to find a way through.

By then, Karen and Lieth had seen their opportunity and seized it. As soon as the guards were mostly turned away, they headed for the dump themselves. To their relief, Sarabré was leading the guards away from them.

Carefully but quickly, both of the teens dug through some of the trash. However, after Karen was thoroughly grossed out, Lieth noticed the door…which was not blocked by the garbage. Karen wanted to start saying random things about irony.

Just then, the guards began to shout. Obviously, they had discovered that the would-be runaway was an illusion. That was motivation enough for Karen to jump off the pile and run for the door.

Just as Lieth began closing the door behind them, he heard one of the guards shout, "Halt, both of you!"

"Are you sure they're not a fake, too?" The other guard asked, obviously angry about the trick.

"Of course I am; they can handle the door! Illusions can't. Stop arguing about it and move!"

Their disagreement gave Karen and Lieth an incredible head-start. Karen couldn't help but tell Sarabré, "That was a great idea."

-Thanks for the support.- A smile was prominent on Karen's face. Both of the girls had been sincere.

Thanks to the advantages the former captives of Shadarin had had, and because there was a patch of trees not very far away, they lost their pursuers. After a very brief rest, Karen managed to gasp, "So…what do we do now?"

Lieth shook his head. "I have no idea."

Karen panted for a couple seconds. 'Great. Lovely. Peachy.' But then, she thought of something…"Why don't we head for a city, or somewhere…civilized? I mean, I doubt that Shadarin's goons want to be caught by the cops."

Sarabré reminded her, -That's a good idea, but there's a problem: we don't know where the nearest city is.-

"Good point…"

Lieth smiled a little. "Karen, would you mind telling me what Sarabré said?"

"Oh…right." Blushing, Karen informed him, "Sarabré was just reminding me that we don't know where the nearest city is."

Lieth thought for a moment, and commented, "Well…we don't know yet, anyways."

Karen's face bore an expression of confusion. "…You know a way to find one? Other than walk in a random direction?"

Lieth actually laughed. It was the first time Karen had heard him laugh, and the first laugh she'd heard in a while. It was a pleasant sound. Once he finished, Lieth replied, "Yes, I do. One of us can climb the tallest tree we can find and see if there's a city within sight."

"Good idea!" Karen was amazed at how many times she had said that that day…

A couple minutes later, Lieth was at the top of the tallest tree nearby. To Karen's dismay, he called down, "Sorry, I can't see anything."

"In any direction?"

"No; I checked." Before Karen could despair, he also called down, "However, there's one direction in which I just can't see anything because there's a taller tree. There might be something over there."

"Then what are we waiting for?!" Lieth quickly scrambled down the tree. To both of the teen's relief, the direction was not near Shadarin's place. After a few more tries, they finally found a tree that was tall enough for them to see over the tops of the rest of them. Karen climbed that one, as Lieth's arms were getting sore.

Karen looked in the direction they had been walking ever since the first attempt. For a few seconds, she thought it was an illusion, but no-

"Lieth, I found one! I found one!"

"Let me get this straight…" The police officer behind the desk muttered as he processed everything Karen had just told him. "You were kidnapped, and you got away?"

She nodded. "I got kidnapped out of my room after I had fallen asleep, I guess. I woke up and found myself tied up in a room."

"How did you get away?"

She half wished that he hadn't asked that…"There was a piece of broken glass near me. I was able to cut the rope, and I broke the window. That was a week ago, four days after I was kidnapped."

"Did you see your kidnappers?"

She shook her head. "They dropped off all the food I needed for the day in the room while I slept. However…I did hear their voices occasionally. They were talking about a ransom; they said something about demanding the money after I'd been gone for a few weeks."

"And you were abducted 14 days ago?" Karen nodded. "Are your parents very rich?"

Karen shook her head. "No. That's the funny thing. I think they mistook me for a different girl."

"I see." The officer stopped writing down her story. "I need to talk to my superiors, but don't worry, Miss Williams. We'll be sure to get you home."

"Thank you." Karen replied, meekly but gratefully. The officer pulled all of his papers together, then walked into an office behind him. After a few minutes, he came back out. "Come on."

Karen nodded, stood, and followed him out. She was still incredibly nervous, as she had just lied through her teeth to him. They walked outside of the room they had been in, and Karen noticed Lieth leaning against the wall. As the officer walked past him, he cleared his throat and said, "Uh…sir?"

The officer spun around. "Oh, there you are. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find your parents." Lieth pretended to be disappointed. "Do you want to come to Karen's hometown and see if they're there?"

"Yes, I would, thank you." Lieth was very awkward; Karen guessed it was for the same reason she was.

The officer led them both outside the building. As they walked, Karen teasingly-and quietly-remarked, "You got amnesia, and you're going from town to town trying to find your family?"

He shrugged. "Best idea I could think of. He didn't catch on, did he?"

Shadarin sighed. "What is it?"

His guard winced a little at the tone. "Um…sir…the girl escaped. She got out of her cell with the help of one of the servants-he also escaped."

"What was his name?" Shadarin asked casually.

The guard was shocked. "Sir, Karen Williams is gone! And she took Sarabré with her! And-"

Shadarin sighed. "I planned for her to escape." He informed his subordinate, irritated. "I don't feel like laying out my entire plan to an imbecile like you, so just take my word for it when I say that things are going perfectly. Now, if you have anything useful to say, by all means, say it."

"Uh…nothing, sir." The guard was now incredibly flustered. "I'll…uh, go now."

"Good idea." Shadarin watched as the guard scurried out the door. After he had left, Shadarin picked up the small, glass orb that had been sitting on his table for as long as anyone could remember. Looking at it, a cunning smile crossed his face. "The taste of victory." He murmured. "It may be out of reach…but I will soon have it. And no one-no one-will take it from me."

The officer dropped Karen and Lieth off at the police station in Karen's hometown. "Good luck to you both." He told them as they stepped out of the car. "And I hope you find your family, Luke."

Lieth nodded when the officer said his alias. "Thank you, sir." Karen and Lieth chorused. The officer shut the door Lieth and Karen had just exited through, hopped into the driver's seat, and drove away. Both of the teens waved as he drove away.

However, Karen was soon distracted by other thoughts. Seeing her home again, even if it was from an unfamiliar angle, brought so many wonderful memories that Karen was in pure bliss for a moment or two. Tears welled up in her eyes. However, it was all shattered by a voice: "Karen?"

Karen spun around, and her eyes caught sight of the two people in the world she wanted to see most. Not even trying to hold her emotions back anymore, she rushed over to her mother's open arms, just barely avoiding a collision with her father. Between sobs of pure joy, Karen managed to get out, "Oh, Mom…I missed you…so much…"

Karen's mother was also weeping with happiness. Karen's father put his hand on Karen's shoulder. Karen didn't care who was watching; she was just glad to be home.

That word had never sounded so beautiful before, and never would again.

TADA! :D I JUST FINISHED MY FIRST STORY! :D (As in, I've never finished one before…) Don't worry; there'll be a sequel. :P

Although…ugh, that chapter was terrible. (Shudders) The quality really degraded as the chapter went on…and the coming-home scene was no where NEAR as emotional as I had wanted it…

Ah well. Please review anyways! :P :)