Book 2 Chapter 6 (chp 32): Group Dynamics
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“That was… new.” Blake says as soon as we are all back in his car.

“Are you okay?” I ask Rose, who is leaning against me with her eyes closed.

“I will be.” She whispers back to me, snuggling a little closer.

Blake looks back at us with a thoughtful look. “She took both shots.” He explains.

I look down at Rose, who is nuzzled into my shoulder. Blake is saying that she killed both of the other Beta Testers.

Why?

Did she not want the boys to kill again? Or did she not want them to become Beta Testers? She must have realized that it was a possibility.

I lay my head on top of hers. Whatever her reasoning, I won’t grill her about it now. Those two deaths obviously affected her.

In the moments of silence that follow, I take the chance to look at the notifications begging for my attention. I quickly dismiss the level up notification. It doesn’t make that big of a difference in my status page.

Figure Of Isis: 3 Uses, Owner:Elena Trudeau

Protection Charm, when a significant danger is sensed, or the owner activates this artifact, a dome of protection surrounds a large area equal to Owned Territory (Humble Abode)

Passive: When in Owned Territory (Humble Abode), this artifact provides an aura of anti-scry and healing.

Artifact (Rare)

At least I got a useful trinket for my troubles.

“Blake?” I say, trying to get his attention.

“Hm?” He responds, his eyes on the road as he drives.

“What happened while I was keeping the two of them busy?” I ask quietly, trying not to disturb Rose.

“You tell her Damien.” Blake says, bringing Damien out of his own thoughts.

“Well…” Damien starts, trying to think of a way to tell the story. “When we got your text, we put on our masks and ran to catch up to you. But, they had a friend waiting outside. Rose knew him somehow.”

I freeze in surprise.

Noticing my reaction, Damien explains, “We didn’t hear what they said to each other, because the guy threw up some kind of barrier around them. But from what I saw, Rose didn’t like him very much. I couldn’t see much of what happened next, because they moved so fast, but they started some kind of battle.” Damien pauses, then shrugs. “I guess Rose won, because the next thing I see, the guys disappears into thin air.”

I look down at Rose, she fell asleep at some point. Who was that man? And how did she meet him? And why do I keep asking myself questions I don’t have the answer to?

It is strange, how fast and how hard I fell for her. It’s barely been a week.

“-Elena?” I turn my attention back to Damien, who had asked me a question.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I whisper, not wanting to disturb Rose.

“He asked why those people were there Elena.” Blake says, his eyes looking at me through the rearview mirror. “What were they after?”

“I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was important that they didn’t get it.” I answer, looking out my window as it rains.

“You don’t even know what we were protecting? Jesus Elena, that isn’t something to risk our lives over. How do you even know that they were after something?” Blake’s voice rises in volume slightly as he speaks.

“They showed up, didn’t they?” I respond, irritated at his tone.

“I owe you a lot.” Blake says, looking into my eyes through the rearview mirror. “But you have to admit that this is getting ridiculous! We could just as easily be the ones lying on the floor dead, right now. And you don’t even know what we were fighting over!”

I open my mouth to respond, a barb at the end of my tongue, but Rose shifts ever so slightly, reminding me that I don’t want to wake her.

Blake hadn’t been there. He hadn’t seen the Beta Testers turn on each other during the event, as soon as a reward was promised. He doesn’t understand that because lives are at stake, we have to take every advantage we can get, and stop others from gaining their own advantages.

He hadn’t been stabbed through the chest by someone he’d trusted.

That’s right, he hasn’t experienced all that. Which means I can’t blame him for being angry at me.

I close my eyes, taking three deep breaths, letting the situation calm down.

“You’re right. We could be the ones lying dead right now. That’s just how strong these other people have gotten in a week.” I say calmly, my eyes focused on the scenery racing by us as we get on the freeway. “These people aren’t going to stop there, every day, they are going to be getting stronger. And you know what their goal will be?” I ask, finally looking at Blake through his mirror. “It will be to kill me. I chose a side and they’re not on it.”

The car is quiet after that statement, it stays that way all the way to my house. With Rose leaning against me in Blake’s car, a strange sense of dejavu comes over me.

Rose wakes up when we arrive just long enough to get on my back. Why does she remind me of a kid?

As the door closes, Blake rolls down his window, “I’ll call you Elena, I just need some time to think. It’s been a strange week.”

I think for a few seconds, before responding in a quiet voice, “You don’t have to call me Blake. If you want… you can just keep going to school like normal.”

“Elena.” Surprisingly, Damien responds, leaning over Blake. “If Blake did something like that, I’d kick his ass. You’re obviously in deeper than you should be. We won’t let you drown.”

Blake nods his head, “He's right. I'm your friend." He gives me a smile.

When their car disappears turns out of my driveway, Rose whispers into my ear. “He’s a good guy. They both are.”

I adjust my grip slightly, “That’s some serious praise. I don’t have any reason to be jealous, now do I?”

Rose lightly slaps my head, unamused at my joke. “Will it be alright with your parents if I take a nap at your house? I haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

“Of course. They shouldn’t even be at home.” If they are, I’ll be in some serious trouble for getting home before school’s out.

I unlock the door, dropping Rose off in my room.

Once she’s sleeping on the bed, I pull up a chair and watch her. Creepy, I know. But there is something calming about the deep breaths she is taking. I smile warmly as she snuggles into my blanket.

I think something happened during the Event that she hasn’t told me about. Her conversation with that Beta Tester, and her lack of sleep. Something is on her mind, I can feel it.

Reaching down, I tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear.

I hope she’ll talk to me about it when she’s ready. I’m worried, more than I should be I think.

I know very little about her really. As much as I can know, having known her for a week. What goes through her mind? I remember the look on her face when I saved her all those days ago. I was her savior. Does she even love me? Maybe it’s just her instinct to find the best protection she can and she thinks that it is love.

I hope not.

Dee lands on my shoulder with a plop, distracting me from my thoughts. She opens her mouth to speak, but I put a finger in front of it, stopping her.

As quietly as I can, I stand up, and move out of the room, gliding the door shut behind me.

I look at the wall in my hallway with an interested eye. “What did you want to say Dee?” I ask, pulling the artifact that I had won out of my inventory.

“I was going to ask how your trip went.” She mock-whispers, a little irritated at me for quieting her.

“As well as could be expected. I almost died again.” I say, as I open the screen for my Humble Abode. I make some purchases, then close the screen.

“You should stop doing that.” Dee points out.

“Nah, I kinda like it.” I grin, then I knock on the wall in front of me. A secret hatch opens up with a pedestal waiting for the artifact to be placed on it inside. I put the artifact in there, then close the secret hatch.

“I wonder if you’re joking?” Dee says, tapping her chin with her finger.

“Probably not. I don’t like to joke about anything serious after all.” I say, making my way down the stairs to the kitchen for a snack.

“Hm.” Dee responds, studying me like I’m some kind of specimen.

“Have you ever been in love Dee?” I ask out of the blue.

Dee sputters at my question in surprise, after a moment, she calms down enough to ask, “Why do you ask?”

“I’m just curious.” I say, grabbing an orange from the fruit-bowl.

Dee takes a moment to consider my question, a surprising amount of restraint from her, before she answers, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in love, but I’ve felt very strongly attracted to some fairies.”

“Oh? I’m disappointed.” I cut my orange with my fingernail, then start to peel it.

“Love is something very important to me.” Dee replies. “I don’t want to claim I’ve felt it when I haven’t.”

“What do you think of me?” I ask curiously, placing a slice of orange in my mouth.

“I’m not in love with you.” She says confidently.

“Really? I thought we had something going there for a moment.” I grin at her cheekily.

“Uh-uh. I can say, one hundred percent confidently, that I do not love you.” She returns my smile, “But I do like you.”

“Well that’s something at least.” I say, my smile disappearing as I think about the girl upstairs.

“I think she likes you a lot.” Dee says, flying up to pat me on the head.

I ignore the imp as I finish my orange. I need to visit Akiyama sensei again soon, I’ve been too lax in my training lately, I need to step up my game.

The rest of the day passes quickly as I find ways to entertain myself while Rose sleeps in my room upstairs.

The Dungeon Core I had obtained provides an interesting distraction. The Twiglings I created are now living in their own little tribal villages, with about of 100 total Twiglings total in my little world. I am surprised when I discover some of the Twiglings, the warriors in their tribe, are starting to change, becoming larger with thick branches for arms.

Originally, the Twiglings had been about knee height, but the warriors are almost as high as my waist. As I observe them, I finally get a chance to see one of the creatures that had been giving them trouble. Large Cobras infest the upper branches of the trees that they live in, when one of the cobras traveled down, likely looking for a snack, I got to watch three of the new warrior Twiglings -hereby called Branchlings- fight the cobra. It was an intense battle, that ended up with one of the Branchlings slightly injured from a bight it had received. The cobras poison wasn’t that potent considering how the Branchling just shrugged the bite off after a few hours.

The Branchlings brought the cobra back, and fed it to these giant fly-traps that the other Twiglings seemed to be keeping as pets.

Watching these creatures reminds me of a movie, I almost wish that I had bought popcorn.

General Info: Elena S. Trudeau, Age:16, Lvl: 6, Class: Protector, Mana: 180, Health: 300, Psi: 200

Sponsor: Isis

Titles: Beta Tester, Crazy In A Good Way (Is that even possible?), Watched By The Gods, Chosen Of Isis, Dungeon Master

Special conditions: Most Definitely Not-Normal

Physical Condition: Healthy

Physicality: Athletic 99%

Brilliance: Doctorate 10%

Equipment: Gloves(unique), Dungeon Core (Rare)

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