Faye exited the hallway and headed toward the door. Kai walked by her side, with Lorcan dangling over his shoulder. Her father had put Lorcan out, again, for this trip. It was the most convenient way to handle the situation. Faye glanced back at the Great Hall and saw her father standing still, his hands in his pockets. He nodded at her with blessing and encouragement, as he always did.
She promised him she would come back as soon as she had obtained the key. She promised him she was well aware of the prophecy and wouldn’t let it get to her. She didn’t know what Lorcan was exactly, but she knew he wasn’t a Silver Blood soldier. Silver Blood was mere rumor, anyway, and so were the soldiers who were supposed to carry that powerful property of the multiverse.
Millie scurried along, trying to match Kai’s very long strides.
“Can you please pretend that Lorcan has some weight to him. Isn’t he like six foot five?” Millie said, running and out of breath from having to keep up with Kai.
“You measured him?”
“No, I’m a fighter. I’m quite accurate when gauging my opponent’s size and weight.”
“See if you can measure up my Grant. He’s the best fighter,” Millie muttered. “By the way, did you see Grant when you went into the Heating Ducts, Faye?”
“Did you message Grant at the Heating Ducts?”
“I sent the message, but it didn’t get to him. I didn’t see him there.”
Millie pulled a seaworm from her side pocket.
“No, Millie, please don’t take the worm messenger with you. We’re in a hurry here!” Faye said.
“Yes, Faye.” Millie let the worm go and scurried toward the carriage that Kai had put Lorcan inside.
Inside the carriage, Faye checked the box containing the white and jade pieces of the key. They were intact.
“Are you ready, Millie?”
“I am,” Millie said. She pulled out the rectangular pass to the gate, and Kai began to navigate the carriage dolphin to the correct gate.
Soon, they passed into the dark water, through layers and layers of time and space dimensions. Gradually, a dimly lit surface appeared above them.
“This is as far as the dolphins can go. We have to get out here and surface,” Millie said.
Faye was about to check on the wound on Lorcan’s side where the jade piece was when Kai grabbed her hand. “Be patient, Faye. It will work.” He tapped on the side of the carriage, signaling the dolphins to stop.
They got out of the carriage and kicked their way to the surface, breaking through the water in the middle of the open sea in the human dimension.
Faye had been here before, and she was sure the experience would be much the same. Kai still held Lorcan in his arm, keeping his head above the water’s surface. “Are you both okay?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” Kai said.
“Me too,” Millie said, her teeth chattering loudly.
Faye pulled out the box containing the two key pieces and opened it. The stones had vanished. She showed it to Kai and Millie. “It worked. That means the red piece has gone from Lorcan’s heart, and they’re all back on the boat now.”
A short distance away, they could see the cruise ship lit up with party lights and alive with music. They began to tread water and move toward the ship. When they got close, they waved their hands to get the attention of the boat’s passengers.
“Someone’s in the water!” A man on the ship holding a champagne glass in one hand pointed at them. A spotlight from the boat shone on them in the water.
When Lorcan was placed on the floor of the boat, a woman in a red velvet dress asked, “Is that Mitch Wayland? What was he doing in the water? Is he okay?”
“He hit his head on the way down. He’s fine,” Faye said.
Kai pressed on Lorcan’s chest, causing him spit out water and gasp for air.
“The medical doctor is coming,” the man with the champagne glass said.
“We’re from the other boat,” Kai said and pointed out in the distance. “Water camping for the night. Then he came to us on a small boat, asking these two ladies to go out fishing. He wasn’t as good a boat driver as he’d promised.”
“I bet he has a gallon of alcohol in his blood,” the woman in the velvet dress said.
The doctor rushed in. “Please take him down to the medical room,” he said after checking Lorcan’s eyes and his pulse.
Lorcan tried to sit up, but he was still very dazed.
“Let me,” Kai said. He threw Lorcan over his shoulders and followed the doctor.
In the medical compartment, the doctor was happy with Lorcan’s condition and had stepped outside for a moment.
Lorcan opened his eyes immediately, grinning widely.
“How…? You looked like you were dead just a second ago,” Millie said.
“Well, I’m not now.” He sat up, and his eyes landed on Faye. He paused there for a second, but not long enough to embarrass her, and then he hopped off the bench.
“This is my turf, so I’ll take care of this. Just follow my directions. I know where the key is. I can break the lock, and give you the box with the key in it. But keep an eye out for a woman in a red velvet dress. She was the one who set up the explosive.”
He gestured toward the door. Kai and Millie exited. Faye was about to follow when she felt Lorcan’s touch at her elbow. “May I have a word with you?”
“Sure.” She stayed in the room with him.
He looked at her with his blue eyes, the ones that always made her stomach quiver. “I heard more of the conversation between you and Kai than the part about the red piece implanted in my heart.”
Faye could feel her face burning. She tried to read his mind to guess what he was about to say, but her mind-reading talent was only consistent in her own dimension. When nothing came to her from Lorcan’s mind, she gave up and prepared herself for what was coming.
“You’re blushing now, but I have to say this. I am flattered that you have feelings for me, Faye. But I am a spy and a data thief. You’re a royal, and you deserve a lot better for what you have done for your family and your people.”
“There’s a prophecy—”
“No, Faye, I am a scientist. Magical explanations aren’t going to work with me. But I do understand this—your reign and your work has occupied your mind for years, and when you saw the human emotion in my mind, you fell in love with it. You love the idea of being in love and being cared for. And you deserve all of that. But not from me.”
“No, I don’t think you understand. I think you’re overlooking what you’ve got, and who you’ve got. I am just an illusion, a dream to you. A dream is beautiful, but it’s not real. You have a real man standing by you and loving you in every waking moment he has. You’re overlooking that.”
“I said that’s enough, Lorcan.”
“Okay, I’ve said what I had to say. If we part after this, and if whatever happens makes me forget all of what happened in Nepolymbus, I want you to know I care about you. And please, do yourself a favor—love the man who loves you. You both deserve it.”
“Shall we go?”
“Sure.” He pushed the compartment door open.