Winner of RPGC #31: Amnesia
She entered a dimly lit room, filled with smoke and the smell of spilled alcohol. There were lots of people talking and laughing, arguing and boasting. It was almost too hot and way too loud. At one of the tables was her team, sitting, chatting and drinking. Living their last carefree evening they would have for a while. The time to act crept near, they had to be ready.
Cassie placed herself on an empty chair. With a gesture to a nearby waitress, she ordered a round for the table. “Somehow you guys managed to find the loudest, smelliest bar in all of Port Freedom.”
“We picked it especially for you, we knew you’d love it here.” the man beside her replied as he lifted his nearly empty glass as a greeting.
Cassie rolled her eyes and stomped his arm playfully. “Geesh, thanks Vince, you’re too kind.”
Phillip took Vince's head in a headlock and rubbed Vince’s head with his knuckles. “Squirt here has quite a taste.”
Vince wrestled free with an annoyed “hey!” and glared at Phillip.
When the waitress brought them their drinks, the two males instantly started squabbling about at whom the waitress smiled the longest.
The other female of the group shook her head. “It’s been ten years and I don’t think Vince and Phillip grew up at all. Cassie, we’ll have our hands full with them.” she sighed, “But let's give him a break, there isn’t exactly much open. Most establishments have closed since the battlefield is nearing this port. The SpellSphere is inching closer every day.”
Cassie nodded. “Quite right Erin, I think we had pretty much the same conversation back then. Including having a last drink before we set off to do our job.”
Erin smiled, ”At least Thomas was there to smash their heads together when needed. Remember…” Erin stopped mid-sentence when she noticed Cassie's face grew gloomy. She reached and took Cassie’s hand. “I’m sorry, I was reminiscing. Don’t worry, we’ll get him back safe and sound too.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about that,” Vince chimed in, “The love you two share goes so deep, he couldn’t possibly have forgotten that too. Even if he doesn’t know you, or us, I’m sure he’ll still feel it deep down.”
Cassie managed to squeeze out a small smile. “Thanks guys,” she said with a tremble in her voice.
“So about Horacio”, Phillip started after he downed his drink and put down his empty glass. “Can we defeat him for good this time? Not that I mind another break that lasts a decade but it’d be more fun if we could get rid of them once and for all.”
“We just go for it like last time,” Vince said enthusiastically. “It worked, I mean, sure we broke his power and sent him to the Third Dimension but that was only because the spells hadn’t been completed at that point but waiting would have been disastrous. They are ready to use now.”
Cassie shook her head. “we’d be foolish if we assume he hasn’t learned anything new. I doubt it very much Horacio just twiddled his thumbs for the past ten years,” she paused and continued in a softer voice. ”And let’s not forget, he managed to capture one of the team so we are down a man.” her voice broke as and she had to swallow a lump in her throat away. She clenched her hands to try and stop them from shaking. She still didn’t exactly know how it happened and what Horacio had done to her husband. She could guess the reason, but she would do anything she could to not let it cripple the team. They could still beat him. For good this time. She was sure of it.
The morning fog hid everything under a cold, wet blanket. Footsteps were dimmed and shadows could be seen scurrying around, disappearing as quickly as they would be spotted.
Sounds of hammers hitting nails from people who nailed up their windows to try and protect their houses from the impending fighting.
Hardly any other sounds could be heard as most people had fled, finding shelter deeper inland. Only the foolish and the brave remained. It was time.
Cassie waited in the town square. One by one the members of her team joined her.
In silence they stood together, no words were needed, they all knew what they were up against, what was at stake and what needed to be done.
“Let’s go,” she said and they ran off in the direction of the harbour.
They didn’t try to be quiet, there was no need for it. The enemy hadn’t left the safety of their bubble yet and Horacio knew they arrived at Port Freedom the minute they passed the first house. The charm had been obvious but Phillip had tracked who picked up the charm’s activation and knew where Horacio was, he wasn’t going to be here today, he was too far off.
They stopped near the warehouse closest to the harbour. A bit more careful they went in through the back door. The two males walked to the front and peeked through a window, the females made a round of the warehouse. It was a mess, broken stuff everywhere and even holes in the walls, floor and ceiling. Some real fighting had happened here.
“Why us?” Erin asked when they went up the stairs to check the attic. “I didn’t understand ten years ago and I still don’t understand now. The Mages are so much more powerful than us. They can use real, dangerous magic. Or the Fighters, or the Stealths. They are so much better trained to deal with threats than us.”
Cassie Glanced at the other female. “Because we aren’t the best in a specific field but we are the best for this task. We are Resonators. We are a half-full barrel so to say, we have room for resonation and make a spell stronger by letting it resonate. The same empty space makes us have more room to absorb spells, which makes us kind of spell resistant or at least spell retardant. Let’s not forget our advantage that we can do all of the three Major Skills to some extent instead of excelling at one so we are quite versatile.”
Erin didn’t look convinced, in her opinion, three who were the best in their fields could do a better job than a group with mediocre skills and abilities at best. Their failure a decade ago didn’t prove they were the best for the job. “Two of my children are Resonators too,” she stated stoically, before giving in to her frustration by kicking over a box, scattering its content over the floor.
Cassie held Erin’s shoulder sympathetically, “We’ll make sure they won’t be needing them anytime soon.” she assured her. Cassie started picking some stuff up to put it back in the box, it belonged to someone and that someone might return here one day. The warehouse looked like a warzone as it was already, even before the actual fighting would be taking place here. Her eyes drifted to an item still in the box. With a gasp, she pulled it out. Her husband’s jacket. Astonished, with eyes full of questions but frozen on her lips she looked up to Erin, Erin shook her head in response to the unasked question. She had no clue how it got here either. Cassie slowly put on the jacket, she could even feel some personal items still in the pockets.
Erin watched silently and Cassie squared her shoulders, “Maybe he’ll recognise this jacket or some of the items if he doesn’t remember me.” she said softly. She couldn’t stop some tears from rolling down her cheeks. Erin helped Cassie down the stairs. she could feel the team leader trembling as she tried to keep it together, and couldn’t help wondering if this was where Thomas had been captured or if the jacket was planted here purposely.
Vince and Phillip were astonished as they noticed the jacket on Cassie and started firing a lot of questions and remarks, only to be silenced by a deathly glare from Erin.
“You ok?” Phillip asked, getting a nod from Cassie.
“This is not going to break me or get my focus off our task,” she said, although she could feel it nagging in a corner of her mind. “Whether or not this jacket was put here on purpose this won’t get us down.”
The others nodded but were all glad she hadn’t found it during a more crucial moment.
“Let’s move on, what is looking like in the harbour.” Cassie said decisively.
“Not good,” Vince said, Hybrid, henchmen and supplies have gathered on the water behind their pretty protective bubble.
“On the water?” asked Erin worriedly.
Phillip nodded, “Yep even Vince can walk on water now, <evilguy> seems to have reached the stage of power that the water gets solid where it touches the air. A lot quicker than last time too.”
Vince stomped Phillip, he didn’t always like it that the majority of the team could even walk on water when the water wasn’t under the influence of magic. He had other abilities, of course, but the running on the water always seemed so cool to him.
“So, we go by the plan?”
Cassie looked through the window, over the harbour, over the water, to the cliff on the headland on the far side of the bay. There, up the fort, they would have to perform the spell so carefully made by the Mages. It was a given it wouldn’t go down the same way as the first time. The place was the same but all similarities ended there. “We go by the plan. To the dike to meet up with our guys, we’ll have to hold the dike as long as we can and keep them on their side. Once the signal gets given we march up to the headland. You all know what to do.”
None of them was worried about the SpellSphere, they could pass through as if it wasn’t there. They were glad it was still up, although it gave the enemy time to prepare it also gave them equal time to prepare. Port Freedom would once again be the centre of attention, and if the name Port Freedom would stay or that it would become Port Downfall would be decided in only a few days.
They made their way out of the warehouse, this time under their own cloaking bubble so they wouldn’t get spotted right away. They needed to join their forces first now and riling up the enemies by showing their faces wasn’t going to work to their advantage. They silently watched the people walking over the water as if it was land. Stacking up boxes and organising their supplies. It was eerie quiet, not one of the sounds that the ones on the inside of the bubble were making could be heard on their side.
Cassie stopped dead in her track as she recognised one of the henchmen working picking up boxes. Frozen she stared at her husband’s face. Unable to speak she watched him talking to his peers. She turned to her team. “Go ahead,” she whispered, “I have to do this.”
The team looked at each other in various degrees of worry and conflict. The Mages, the Fighters and the Stealths all had their concerns about how the fifth team member would be used against them, how it could throw them off the objective. It was a calculated risk to let the remaining four go on with the mission. They wanted the team to ignore the missing fifth if they would come across him and stick to the original plan.
Erin reached out to Cassie “Honey, please…”
Cassie looked down and shook her head, “Don’t, please. I have to try, you know I have to. Any one of you would try to at least talk to him if you’d come across him. We talked about the possibilities.”
Phillip shrugged, “plan B it is, be careful.” he said and he walked on, the other two had no choice but to follow if they wanted to stay under his protection.
Vince turned around and locked eyes with Cassie “Make the most of it, try to get as close as you can.” he said quickly but urgently.
Cassie nodded and walked to the barrier. She pressed her hand against it and phased through it. On the other side, a cacophony of sounds bombarded her. Shouting, gnarling, clashing of metal on metal. She walked over the water to the group where her husband was standing.
“Thomas!” she cried out.
He stopped and turned around, looked at her and frowned. He gestured to the others, who had picked up weapons and were ready to strike, to stay put.
“Yes?” he asked coldly.
Cassie felt her heart drop as she took that blow. “Thomas you may not recognise me, but I know you have lost your memory. I know there are a lot of blanks that you crave to be filled, hear me out.”
Thomas crossed his arms but stayed silent, not encouraging but not discouraging either.
She swallowed before she rambled about some shared history, frantically looking in his face for any sign of recognition. Starting to feel more and more hopeless she paused.
“I’m your wife, I love you,” she concluded, not knowing what else she could say right now, hoping that statement would at least give a glimmer of some emotion other than this cold, distant look.
His lips curled in a humourless smile and shook his head. “They said you were going to say that,” and he turned around, the others laughing at her agony.
Her legs trembled and she sank to the ground, clutching her stomach, trying to breathe normally instead of gasping in bits of painfully sharp air.
“Thomas," she whispered.
Loud steps behind her made her snap out of her grief. She turned and stood face to face with a Hybrid. A massive buffed one, some were built for speed, others for strength. This one was definitely built for strength. The bull-like head had a massive pair of horns. She stood up and faced him. She knew one thing, the moment he would be able to get a grip on her she was finished.
With a battle cry that made the solid water under them move he charged towards her. She jumped out of the way and rolled to safety. From the corner of her eye, she could see her husband watching silently as the others were having a great time watching the spectacle.
She avoided his hits as good as she could. He was surprisingly fast and agile considering his size. She tapped into her abilities so she could jump higher and further. She had to get away.
The Hybrid clearly enjoyed hunting his prey. “I’ll crush your bones and deliver you as a carpet to our master.” he sneered. “You’re an insignificant bug.”
Cassie plotted her way towards the dike, towards the edge of the SpellSphere. They had specific weapons against Hybrids but she had to reach them first. Dodging and jumping she brought her fight closer and closer to the edge, movement at the group her husband was part of broke her concentration and a hit landed, making her soar through the air and slam into the dike. Dazed and in pain she tried to get up, she noticed the bubble had burst and it didn’t take long before she felt the massive hands of the bull-like creature around her throat.
What felt like an explosion sent both of them hurling back to the water. In a corner of her mind, she registered that it had been a sonic blast from Vince. She tried to scramble on her feet as soon as she could to create some distance between herself and her attacker. She looked around as she readied herself to sprint away. Horns were blowing, battle cries uttered and shouting told her the battle started.
Almost instantly she felt as if two iron bars were wrapped around her. The arms of the Hybrid were like a steel grip around her and she could hardly move. She tried with all her might to get some wriggle room. She fought against the pressure on her ribs. She could hardly breathe as the Hybrid tightened his grip with a sardonic grin on his face. She saw her husband coming closer with a sword in his hand.
The Hybrid chuckled. “Don’t worry dude, I got her. We’ll present her dead rather than alive to our master.”
“So I see,” replied Thomas as he calmly watched. “Don’t get over-confident and give her that potion.”
The little interaction made the grip a little looser and she felt she slipped down a bit. Relief instantly washed away as she felt him reposition his grip around her throat instead. Gasping for air she struggled.
“When they get purple they are ready to harvest,” The hybrid chuckled as he cut her with a blade covered in a substance. “There, happy now? She’ll be dead before it’ll work though, I’ll promise you that.”
Her vision started getting blurry and her ears rang. She heard a metal sound, a ripping sound and a loud cry just before she dropped on the water.
Filling her lungs with the much-needed oxygen she watched astonished as the Hybrid was gripping his cut arm and her husband plunging his sword in the neck of the Hybrid.
The creature dropped dead and Thomas towered over her with the sword, looking down on her accusingly. Her head began to feel like it filled up with cotton.
“I still don’t know you,” he said angrily, “but somehow, I couldn't stand by and watch, I don’t know what it was but I couldn’t let it kill you yet. I'm bringing you in alive,” He turned and watched the stronghold in the distance. “I have to get you to the stronghold before anyone will notice I killed one of us,” he added, his voice without remorse.
His voice sounded further and further away. She could feel that she got lifted up but soon she lost her consciousness. A few episodes of partial gained consciousness made her a bit aware of them still being on the way, and even though they were on the way to epicentre of enemy activity and she was being brought into the lion’s den, she felt safe being so close to the love of her life. At this point, she didn’t think about his amnesia, about the battle going on and the danger she was in. She only felt his arms supporting her, she felt the jacket she had been wearing earlier on him. Her voice of reason was nagging in the back of her head that she should snap out of it, get a grip and escape. But she couldn’t, her mind was too fuzzy, her eyes too heavy to lift and her body too weak.
She tried to focus, someone was speaking. Her husband's voice was murmuring a reply. The cold of the stone floor underneath her crept up. Cassie slowly became more aware of her surroundings. She was in the stronghold and she recognised the voice talking. Brody was speaking to Thomas; he praised him for catching her while at the same time he tried to make sure Thomas was still under their control.
Pleased by the answers Brody grinned and administered some more of the potion. “Bring her to the dungeon, this will keep her calm and sedated till Horacio returns and dispose of her as he pleases.”
Thomas bowed slightly “It will be done,” he said.
Cassie felt herself drifting off again, she tried to fight it but all awareness of her surroundings slipped away.
Something cold tickled the inside of her mouth and instinctively she swallowed the liquid.
Confused, she tried to grasp where she was. She didn’t feel the stone floor in her back but soft fabric. Her head ached but it didn’t feel like it was filled to the brim with cotton balls.
Slowly the past events bubbled to the surface. Dungeon? wasn’t she supposed to be brought to the dungeon? Dungeons usually didn’t have warm, soft beds.
Cassie opened her eyes and sat up straight, dizzy she reached to support herself and found her hand resting on an arm in a familiar jacket. She looked up and looked straight into Thomas's face.
“Thomas, what happened?”
He looked away before she could read his eyes and stood up. “I don’t know, something doesn’t add up. I don’t know you, you are a stranger to me. I’ve been warned about you and some of your friends. For some reason, one or more of you would come to me and tell me some wild stories about me belonging on your side. Horacio was genuinely worried about me as it would be part of a hex to get a wedge in.” He paced up and down the room. “But for some reason when I saw you getting strangled something I can’t define roared inside me. Something flared up. It confuses me.” At the window, he stopped and let his gaze go down the cliff, over the water to the harbour in the distance. The battle was coming closer towards the stronghold. He glanced at Cassie, “I gave you something to counter the potion. Go. Join your friends and do whatever little plan you have. Whatever you have planned it won’t work Horacio will win, he has a surprise planned for you and your team. He’ll be ready in three days”
Cassie stood up and walked over to Thomas. She rested her hand on his arm. While his words had serious consequences for their mission, she could only worry about his safety right now, everything else seemed so far away. “Will you be safe? What will happen when they find out you helped me?”
Thomas looked at the hand on his arm, tentatively he reached for her hand but he only let his hand hover above hers before he pulled his arm back and put his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “They won’t know I helped you. Hardly anyone is here, they are all outside or with Horacio. As far as they will know Brody gave you either too little or the wrong one. You knocked me out with your signature ‘Goodnight spell' and there was nothing I could do. You brought me here so you wouldn’t get detected too soon.” He looked like he was already enjoying the moment where he could yell at Brody for messing up.
They locked eyes for a few moments before he broke eye contact. “Go, before I’m going to regret this decision. Next time we meet you won’t confuse me again and I will have my priorities straight. You will not hex me and make me believe I belong on your side. I am where I belong.”
She opened the window and looked down, so he wouldn’t see the flash of pain that went through her eyes. She assessed her situation and plotted her escape route. She could make some jumps and get down safely. After that, she could go from one camp to the next. When she figured out the best route to join her friends she turned to Thomas, “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they told you about my signature spell.” she said with a small smile.
He shook his head. “They didn’t.” he frowned, looked at Cassie pensively and shook his head. “They must have told me.” he turned around, he needed to leave. Now.
Cassie grabbed his hand before he walked away, “Thomas...” the words choked in her throat and watery eyes she pressed a kiss on his hand. She released his hand and with one hand she formed an orb. The other she lifted to him. Cassie released the orb outside. It spun, grew bigger and exploded in a thousand smaller orbs that went in all kinds of directions. “I gave the signal,” she said smiling, “Good night,” she whispered as she used her signature spell on him with her raised hand. He sank on the floor.
Cassie went through his hair and brought her lips to his cheek. “I love you, Thomas," she whispered in his ear before she jumped out of the window and made her way through the enemy lines stealthily so she could regroup with her team to march up together and storm the stronghold like they planned, although a small adaptation was needed. In three days, at most, this would all be over.
She looked over her shoulder once more, as she thought she felt his eyes on her, even though she had just knocked him out. It hurt he didn't know who she was but there was a glimmer of hope. Next time they would meet, she would be ready.
In three days she promised herself, in three days everything would be as it should once again.