Chapter 99: Pain

Hawthorne flexed the roots wrapping around her feet and launched herself forward. The movement was familiar, normally it would almost be comforting. Right now, every step mad her heart beat a little faster and the sweat soak a bit further into her palms. And despite that, she could barely keep up with Allspades.

He had taken off the moment Will was out of sight. Normally she could match him, even at his full speed, but the twisting corridors of the zeppelin gave her no chance to build up speed. He barely glanced at the doors they passed, and she could hear him muttering under his breath at each one.

He turned a corner, and she had to thrust her foot forward to kick the wall before she slammed into it. Allspades drew further away. She had to forcibly rearrange the roots at her feet to send her down the next corridor. It wasted precious seconds and she had forgotten to breathe until she was already moving again.

She tried to call out to him, but didn’t have enough breath to make the sound leave her throat.

He pulled further ahead, and each step of hers was throwing her a little less farther than the last. He was already five doors away from her.

The root along her left leg stiffened too soon. She managed to get her right leg beneath her before she fell, but she felt the muscles in her hip stretch and roll as she pulled herself forward. There was a sharp pain that vanished almost as soon as it started.

Allspades turned a corner ahead.

She tried to kick the wall, like she had before, but when she twisted to kick with her left leg, something in her hip moved the wrong way. She flipped over her side and her back slammed into the wall. A heavy thud echoed through the metal, but the sound didn’t reach Allspades.

The roots retreated back into Hawthorne’s clothes. The pain in her hip had faded, but a dull ache still throbbed deep in her muscles.

Allspades turned another corner and was out of sight. She tried to call out to him again, but her throat was dried and the cracked sound that came out was too quiet to echo down the halls. She gently pressed two fingers into her leg and had to grit her teeth against the pain.

She would probably need to make a crutch. If she was really lucky, she might be able to limp without one, but she wasn’t going to be catching up with Allspades.

Hawthorne leaned back against the wall and gasped for air. She tried to pull an apple from her vest, but the seed refused to grow in her hand.

How long had it been since she’d woken up in her office? She’d lost track of time, but it had been almost dawn when they teleported onto the ship. She’d never used her powers for this long before, and she felt drained in a way that she couldn’t describe. Whatever energy fueled her powers had dried up, and she didn’t know how long it would take to get them back.

She needed to rest, possible even sleep, and she really needed something to drink. But first, she had to get somewhere she wouldn’t be found.

Hawhtorne managed to claw her way up to wall and rest her weight on her good leg. She kept most of her weight on the wall as she stumbled down the hallway.  The first door she came to held a small conference room; there hadn’t been anyone in there when the spell hit, but a tray of water bottles was off to one side.

She grabbed one and hobbled to the closest chair. Even the half a steps worth of weight she put onto her leg was enough to send stars flying across her vision.

She took a drink and stared at the door.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Allspades ran. Paige’s voice had grown quiet, leaving only a vague pulling in one direction.

Trump. King. Thomas. The names burned in his head.

King was there. He was in the middle of some scheme or plot that would almost definitely end with him on top, just like it always did. But for the first time, he didn’t want King to win. But more than that, he needed to be the one to stop him. Because he might be the only one who could talk him out of it.

Or maybe he was just kidding himself. Paige could have talked him out of it, Queen could have convinced him, but he had never been the kind of person to talk his way out of a fight. He wasn’t going to avoid a fight, no matter how much he wanted to.

With that thought burning in his mind, Allspades ran. The sound of his footsteps echoed in the empty halls. There was no one who could stand between him and King.

He stopped.

Hawthorne wasn’t behind him, and he had no idea when she disappeared.

He felt the pull toward King grow stronger; he could be getting the Ambrosia already.

Allspades turned around and ran back the way he came.

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