Chapter XXII: Ostara Investigations (9/11)Mature

They swarmed around Will like dark vultures on carrion, showing him that he was the focus of their attention. He wanted to run, but his feet felt shackled to the floor, his head aching too much for him to form a coherent thought. He could see their shuffling footsteps and the flap of their cloaks, disorientating him in quick images and movements. As they neared him he tried to back away, but in his confusion, he stumbled and fell backwards into the arms of one of his attackers.

They caught him and there was an unusual gentleness, the attempt of tenderness by firm, rough hands, and Will felt too weak to protest. His head weighed too heavy for his neck, but when he looked up, he caught the sight of his captor and his mask, he cried out as another spasm of sharp pain hit him. The leather masks were tight and made the flesh bulge out through the eye-holes, the aspects of which were watery and maddened, it was impossible to tell who was behind the mask; and that was the aim. His calls of pain had only added to the cacophony of noise already present, the sound of smashing echoed as the attackers knocked away any obstacles to reach Will and create the space they needed, and though Will couldn't see him, he could hear Andrel calling out to him.

'Will!'

He squinted open his eyes and found a place to look, between the heads of the other two attackers, he saw Andrel. He slammed his fists angrily on their broad backs turned dismissively to him, whilst trying to conquer their velvety cloaks and clamber onto their backs.

'Andrel...' Will was able to say, his voice a tired murmur, 'run...' Andrel didn't know of these attackers, he didn't know of their reputation and danger. Will knew he was to blame, it had been his and Tayna's choice not to involve them, but in hindsight, they should have made their friends aware of the danger, so that when the foreshadowed time arrived; they would run.

However, Andrel did not flee, and soon he wore their patience. In a swift movement, the attacker turned with a swish of his cloak, spinning to face Andrel and reaching for him. He clenched Andrel's neck and lifted him off of his feet, taking no mercy with his strength. Andrel scratched rabidly at the man's hands on his throat, spluttering asphyxiated and desperate sounds, his legs trying aimlessly to kick out. Then, like a child tires of a toy, the attacker threw Andrel aside, striking him against the hard edge of the sofa. His mouth opened wide in silent agony and his body compacted as he fell to the hard floor head-first, lying crumpled and unconscious.

'No...' Will said, his eyes wide in shock. He assessed how he was held, behind his head the captor had locked his arms down by gripping them both tightly, whilst the second at his feet had lifted his legs, pressing them together and folding them up, scrunching him as if to make him more portable. He was hovering in mid-air, he might as well have weighed nothing to them. Will could think of no way he could struggle from this situation.

'Is he the right one?' asked the one near his head, it would be difficult to judge who was speaking, there were no mouth-holes in the face masks.

The third turned away from Andrel, judging him dealt with. In answer, he grabbed Will by the chin and forced him to look up at his face, at the mask. He seethed at the Evil Eye for the third, painful time, jerking his head away and looking down, seeing Andrel's form and wishing that he would stir or show signs of life. Tears blurred his vision alongside a wave of sickness.

'Yeah,' said the third in a gruff voice, their tones sounded the same, it would be even more difficult to tell them apart, 'it's the right kid. Let's get going. We can't be seen.'

I can't let them take me, Will thought obstinately, I won't let them hurt me; NOT AGAIN.

 Suddenly he felt strength and adrenaline flood his veins, and in his last attempt he tried to escape. He pushed all of his weight into his legs, folding them out and knocking the second masked man in the chest, swinging his feet down to the floor, fighting his arms free to reach a standing position. However, the captor behind him was prepared, and released him with such a shove that he fell too far forward. He tripped over his legs and tumbled to the floor, striking his head and causing himself too much pain for one episode, sending his mind into evanescent and seemingly-eternal darkness.

The End

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