31.2: Strength in Numbers

“What!?” Keith turned to me. “You know what the punishment for treason is, right!?”

“I know better than any of us here, Keith.”

“So you’re willing to turn your back on the Order for someone that wants nothing to do with you? Elijah, think about it for a second. You’re planning on giving up everything to go after her.”

“Not everything. I have a family outside of the Order.”

“Do you really think you’ll be safe in Old Tenebris? That’ll be the first place the Master searches. If anything, you’ll be putting Wyatt and his grandmother at stake.”

“It’s my fault she’s out there, Keith! I have to go make things right, but...I can’t do it by myself. I need you guys to help me out.”

“Count me in,” Solana approached me with a smug smirk.

“Solana, you’re out of your mind!”

“You’re insane if you think I’m just going to let Elijah go off on his own. He only just mastered the basics of Essence. What if Celeste lashes out at him? I have to be there to support him, no matter what.”

Solana pecked me on the cheek, forcing me to crack a smile, “Thanks, Solana.”

“Um, I want to help too,” a certain confidence exhumed from Melodie’s quiet voice. “I know that by doing so, we’ll be risking our lives, but...Celeste is more important than that.”

“Thank you, Melodie. Well, Keith. Are you in or out?”

“You’re making a terrible decision, Elijah. So, let’s say you do manage to sneak out of the Castle and start searching for her. Where do you start looking? A Guardian can only track someone’s Essence from so far. Now let’s say you actually find her. How do you think she’s going to react to seeing the one person she absolutely despises show up in front of her?”

“We’ll cross that boat when we get there,” Solana intervened.

“You don’t have anything thought out, which means you’ll all just be wandering about Creput like a pack of lost puppies.”

As much as I hated to admit, Keith was right. We were all ready to stumble out of the Castle and search without a single clue to Celeste’s whereabouts.

“Keith,” I sighed heavily, “You’re an Orange, right? Your Essence can help us with that. You can formulate a plan faster than any of us. Look, I get it. It’s dangerous, it’s treasonous, and worst of all, it’s stupid. But...I can’t stand around knowing that Celeste is still hurting because of my own wrongs—”

“Elijah. They are not your wrongs,” Keith scowled indignantly. “What happened back then had nothing to do with you. Celeste’s father didn’t die just to protect you. He did it to protect your parents and aunt as well. Stop blaming yourself for something that you couldn’t cont—”

“It’s not that, Keith! Because of me, because of...this,” I poured Essence out of my hands, filling the room with a soft white light, “my parents will walk free without repercussion. Celeste’s father didn’t get the same treatment. He was executed on sight.” I tried to suppress the tears by looking away. “Celeste overheard the Master confess to this, and that’s why she ran away. So yes, Keith. It is my fault. This damn Essence is nothing but a curse.”

“Don’t say that.”

The End

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