Chapter Two: The Runaway

Thea closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep, while in reality, she was focusing on putting the guards outside her cell to sleep.

She heard the soft thump of their sleeping bodies hitting the floor.

"Okay," she whispered to Wesley. "They're asleep. I'm ready."

Her brother grabbed her hand, and they melted into the shadows together.

It was cold and dark. Walking was like moving through molasses, but it felt like she was flying when she let her brother pull her along. Whispers grasped at Thea, threatening to drag her into madness.

Hopeless… you can't run… don't go…

She flinched, wary of what they were talking about.

Yessssssss… you are strong… don't be ssscarrred…

"Wesley…" she whispered, trying to break free of his hold on her to follow the voices.

Yes… come…

Instead, his grip tightened, dragging her the opposite direction.

"No!" she cried. "I-I need to go!"

Yesssss… yes… come with us… we can helllp youuu…

Her feet touched down on solid ground.

Everything went black, and she collapsed to the floor.

"Thea? Thea!"

She sat bolt upright, banging her head on that of her brother's.

"Yow!" yelped Clement.

Thea felt woozy, and she remembered dreams, but couldn't recall them. She couldn't see her surroundings, only bright, white light.

Her eyes were heavy, and all the energy she'd felt when first awakening was gone.

"Clement?" she asked, groping around for her brother. He grabbed her hand.

"Are you okay?" asked Wesley. "I knew we shouldn't have shadow-walked. It's too dangerous for the living."

Thea shook her head and said, "No, no. We needed to in order to get out of the cell. I'm fine, I just can't see-"

"That's not 'just fine!'" interrupted Clement.

"-And we needed to do it in order to get out."

The brightness was beginning to clear, and she looked around.

"Where are we?" she asked.

Wesley glanced around as well. "Um… a room?"

Thea sighed.

"Well, what were we supposed to do? You just passed out cold on the ground! We had to get you somewhere!" Clement nodded along with Wesley's argument.

"Fair enough," Thea gave in. "But we need to get out of here." She nodded to a window, showing the sun coming into view.

The prison ship was sitting out in a field on the nowhere planet Cornia, ready to leave at dawn.

Which, Thea reminded herself, was very, very soon.

"Escape pods?" she asked.

Her brothers shook their heads. "We didn't see any."

"Shit," she cursed.

"Shh!" cried Wesley.

"Wh-mmmph!" Thea yelped as Wesley covered her mouth with his hand.

"I heard something!" he whispered. "So, shush!"

Then Thea heard it, too.

The clunk, clunk of boots hitting the floor.

"Damn! Someone's coming," she said. "We need to go!"

Clement peeked out the door and muttered a curse himself. "Three guards. All armed."

Thea glanced around the room. No other exits.

"Damn it, damn it, damn it," she muttered with a sigh. "Take me through the shadow realm again."

Her brothers looked horrified. "No way!" cried Wesley.

"Do it," she hissed. "There's no other way."

They both winced, and Clement whispered, "Okay. But we're both coming with you this time."

She shrugged, trying to seem calm. "Probably a good idea," she told them.

The shadow realm had seemed evil and nefarious, but now that she thought about it… she wanted to meet those whispers again. She needed to hear what they had to say.

Wesley and Clement each grabbed one of her hands and hauled her to her feet. She stumbled, still weak from the travel.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" asked Clement.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, annoyed. "Just do it!"

They stepped into the shadows once again.

Welcome back… oh no… they're sssscared of us, aren't they… scared that we can make you powerfullll… come with ussss… don't be afrrraid…

Thea leaned towards them and whisper-asked, "How? Can you really… help me?"

Yesss…

She swayed, her vision blurring.

YESSSS… COME WITH US…

Wesley squeezed her hand, jolting her out of the trance.

Oh, dear… he's trying to take you away… he doesn't want you to have our power…

Thea tilted her head. "Really?" she asked, glancing at the dark space where her brother would've been.

Right. She couldn't see or hear anyone else here.

"Does he really want to?" she asked again, worried.

Oh, yes, yes he does… he's scared of us, isn't he… and that other one, too…

Anger began making its way through her veins. "He wouldn't," Thea snarled.

Oh yes they would…

Come stay with us…

We can teach you…

We can help you…

We can help…

"Maybe next time," she whispered to the voices as her brothers tugged her into the light, where she promptly passed out again.

The last word she whispered was, "Shit."