No. What was there for her in Old Tenebris? Why would she go there of all places? If she wanted to run away from her problems, why go to the source of them? No matter how long I tried to inject some sense into her reasoning, her choice was just as far-fetched as it was when Mrs. Valenti tracked her down.
I didn’t even make an attempt to hide my anxiety. My friends knew the stress that burdened me, the fear that drowned my temperament, the panic that blocked out their sedative words. My body became a brick wall to the Guardians that walked beside me, a shell to hide away from the harsh reality of my plight.
“Are you sure we can’t pick up the pace any more?”
“Elijah, we can’t run all the way to Old Tenebris,” Keith refuted. “We’re already walking pretty fast already.”
“We’ll never catch up to her at this rate,” I rattled off.
“If she’s headed to Old Tenebris, she’ll be bound to stop in town.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
Solana’s sapphire eyes glistened as she frowned. They only sparkled like that when she was holding back tears.
I began to beat myself up inside, “I’m sorry, everyone. It’s just...why is she going to Old Tenebris?”
“Trust me. If I knew, I’d tell you,” Keith replied bluntly.
“Maybe she wants to fight her anger head on,” Melodie added. “She always talked about being strong for her father’s sake, so maybe she’ll find that strength in Old Tenebris.”
“And how is she going to do that?”
Everything was silent aside from the screaming in my head. I turned away from them and scrunched my eyes shut to keep my emotions at bay. The exhaustion, paired with my hysteria, made it very difficult to fight back the tears.
“Elijah…” Solana patted my shoulder.
“Why did everything have to go wrong so fast?” I muttered.
“You can’t lose hope already,” Josef intervened. “Sure, we have no idea why Celeste went to Old Tenebris. But we do know that she’ll be there.”
“That’s exactly why I’m worried. When you came back from Old Tenebris, you said the twilight was much stronger there, right? Like it was trying to grab hold of you?”
“What are you implying?” Keith stepped in.
“That Celeste might lose control.”
Panic intensified within my friends. I didn’t even have to catch a glimpse of their faces to picture their broadened eyes and gaping mouths, their trembling irises and quivering lips. People were much more susceptible to the twilight’s clout when they were incoherent. In this case, Celeste’s fury clouded her judgement, thus making her an easy target for the twilight’s influence.
“Still think we shouldn’t pick up the pace?”
Keith sighed, “Elijah’s right. We need to get going before Celeste does something she’ll regret.”
“I agree,” Josef nodded.
After a few hours of jogging, I spotted the first street sign leading us to Old Tenebris. I panted as we approached the city limits, fatigue crushing my legs and stabbing the soles of my feet. There was no time to slow down, not yet. Not until we brought Celeste home.
However, as we approached the outskirts, a terrible dread creeped over my skin. It hovered over my heart, filling it with hysteria. My legs were fettered to the street, and my knees were pulled to the asphalt. My heart pounded in my chest at the speed of light as tears flushed the sides of my face.
My brain muffled the screams of my friends. It numbed my skin, except for a slight tugging. Maybe they were trying to pull me off the ground. I didn’t know. All I could focus on was Old Tenebris…
Old Tenebris...and the conflagration that was swallowing it whole.