(Unnamed Story)- Chapter 10: A Swing Of Emotions.

Bennet was there at the docks waiting for them to arrive. Clarice ran up to him and gave him a hug.

       “What happened Clar?” he asked out of concern, he knew something had gone drastically wrong. He could see it in both their eyes but he also figured they did not want to talk about it yet. He knew them well.

       “Let’s go home and talk about it” He said and started to walk.

        Ingram kept imagining that conversation over and over again, a dream being taken apart at its will. An entire family being ripped apart piece by piece. What is this place he asked himslf? this place, it’s his mind. It was his entire conscience being torn out-of-place, and being tortured until it bleeds out and gives up. Only here, he can’t give up. He wasn’t sure if he’s alive or dead, and it felt like this feeling had been here for years. There is nothing here except himself, the victim and his brain-the murderer. The torturer. The sinner. That’s all this is. He felt like there was a new hole in his chest holding him back from achieving his goal but this wasn’t going to hold him back because unlike all the other times, this time he has family to find his family. He had Clarice and Bennet.

         Clarice couldn’t breath, it felt as if someone was choking her. Her heart was racing and all she wanted to do was to curl up into a ball and wait for someone to save her. But no one would, no one was there. Drazahn’s message repeated itself in her head, a choked cry for help forced itself up her throat and she felt a drop run down her cheek.

         The walk was filled with emotions. Nobody spoke but they understood each other’s feelings. They reached home.

         Ingram wanted to be left alone so he asked Clarice to explain everything to Bennet. Ingram went and sat in the backyard.

         An oversized tree for a small backyard, a swing attached to one of its branches and a young girl trying to get onto it. She had fallen down thrice already but she wasn’t going to give up. Ingram got up to help her but Elia held his arm.

        “Just Look at her go” she said.

         Ingram smiled and watched his daughter fight her way onto the swing. He saw the sense of accomplishment on Daisy’s face when she finally climbed onto it but that face suddenly turned into an angry rant, she kicked and punched the air because the swing wasn’t moving her tiny legs couldn’t reach the ground. Ingram and Elia couldn’t hold their laughter, looking at her parents laughing Daisy grew even angrier. The non-vocal rant now became a full-blown crying tantrum. Ingram quickly ran to the swing and pushed it back and forth. The faster and higher the swing went, the more dazzling Daisy’s smile became and everytime Ingram would rest his arms and slowed the swing down Daisy would get angry. Finally after a lot of fluctuating emotions Daisy jumped down the swing and disappeared into the house.

          “Ingram please take Daisy to the bed, I’ll be there in a minute” she said. Daisy was running all over the house now and Ingram had to catch her, he played for a while and eventually picked her up and took her to bed. Elia came in a minute later and started a really weird story, halfway through the story Ingram drifted to sleep.

         “INGRAM!! INGRAM!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WAKE UP!!”  Elia was shouting on top of her voice. He opened his eyes, but then the shouting doesn’t stop.

          He snapped out of it, it wasn’t Elia it was Bennet who was shouting. He had dozed off in the backyard, he got up and turned around. It was Bennet and he looked petrified.  “What happened brother?” he whispered.

         “HAVE YOU SEEN CLARICE?! I CANNOT FIND HER ANYWHERE!”

 

(Unnamed Story) – Chapter 9: The New Fear.

“Ingram get up, will you!” screamed Clarice from across the house. The ancient mullioned window cast a checker board of brilliant morning sunlight onto the dark walnut floor. Ingram dressed up and walked into the kitchen as slothful as possible to see what Bennet and Clarice were up to. It was only Clarice.

      “Waking up can be really harsh, especially if your dreams are better than reality. The saddest part of it is, though, that eventually even the memory of your dream will fade – if you are even lucky enough to remember it that is. Then you’re left with this lonely feeling of detachment” she looked at Ingram’s confused face and just smiled. “Okay! Quickly eat your breakfast, we need to go to Vesuvanite.” Her voice was so commanding Ingram did not even bother to ask why.

     He ate his breakfast while Clarice got ready and they left as soon as she was finished. They reached the gates of Vesuvanite after a long walk.

       Vesuvanite is nothing like Hauyne. It was home to the rich like merchants, traders, architects, etc. It was a beautiful place to live. The roads were lined by gemstone traders and moneylenders. While most people travelled by horses and rented wagons, the even richer community of Vesuvanite travelled by wagons of their own. Going further into the city, came the residential area. The houses were enormous blocks of beautiful buildings with high walls surrounding them, it was almost impossible to get a peek of the house as it was further inside from the walls. Ingram imagined the house to be surrounded by trees, flowers and also a huge wooden door with a brass door knocker. The even richer community stayed in Manors, commoners weren’t allowed into that area. After this long walk across the town they reached the docks. The docks here were richer. Ships were bigger and more luxurious. The goods transported were exotic stones, paintings, clothes and exotic plants. It was neater and more organised than that of Hauyne.

       “Clarice! Where are we going? Do you have some work here? Is something wrong?” She took out a small piece of paper, read the name on it and said “Look for a short bald guy with a small boat, his name is Bogdan. Ask around” and she tried to split away from Ingram when he caught hold of her hand and said “let’s stay together”. She wasn’t quite pleased but did not argue with him. They asked a few people around but found nothing. They reached the end and found a small boat enough for just 4 people and a man was already inside. Ingram took the lead and peeked into the boat, a short bald man was resting inside.

       “Hello. Mr.Bogdan, umm! Bennet sent us here. You are Mr.Bogdan aren’t you?” Clarice asked him showing him the piece of paper. Ingram was still holding Clarice’s hand, she did not mind it. She knew he was concerned and protective about her. Bogdan signalled them into the boat and he set off, they rowed away from Axinite. Clarice and Ingram knew something was shady about all this but they trusted Bennet’s judgement.

       They sailed for a while, Axinite looked like a huge rock no buildings were visible anymore. Bogdan did not utter a word all this while which made Clarice and Ingram suspect him furthermore. But, they were willing to go to any length and take any amount of risk to reunite this family. They finally saw an island and a house on it, they tried to look for more houses but that was the only one. The whole island looked like one person’s, though the island was small it was pretty enormous for just one house. As they came closer the building became clearer, they got out of the boat and walked towards the house. There were no walls to this manor but there was a wall of guards around the house. The Manor grew out of the manicured lawn like an infant castle. Its nascent stone walls were a pale grey and were barren of the moss or ivy that clung to the walls of the older homes in the village. Its large oak door was double wide and was sheltered under a wide porch supported by stone pillars. The driveway was grandiose, sweeping into a wide circle in front of the dwelling with an ornate fountain in the center.

         “Bennet said you had some missing family after the blaze, anything you wish to ask Mr.Drazhan will be through me, make it small and quick Mr.Drazhan is busy” Bogdan said in a rather rude tone.

         “My family got lost after the blaze, I know most of them moved to Mirefield but then if Mr.Drazhan-” at this point Bogdan threw a stare at Ingram “any information about any other place they could be will be really helpful. Thank you.”

          “Wait by the fountain” Bogdan snapped and disappeared into the Manor.

          “Who is this guy Clarice?” Ingram asked.

          “From what I know he’s one of the most dangerous men in Axinite territory, he was once a famous smuggler and wrecker but now he works with the king. He’s a criminal and I am sure about that.”

         They looked around the fountain for a while. They heard the door open, Bogdan walked towards them in a rather irritated fashion. “Mr.Drazhan says that some children were captured by King Urgern and then were sold as slaves and prostitutes to Dybbukh (In Jewish mythology, a Dybbuk is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person). My guards will take you back to Axinite now.” He abruptly finished.

         Clarice was scared, this is the first time fear was visible on Clarice’s face. Her hand went cold and she was shocked “Where is Dybbukh!! Where is it??” she bellowed at Bogdan. Bogdan snapped his fingers and the guards dragged them. Ingram pushed the guards away from Clarice, “We can walk on our own!” he said in a firm voice.

         The journey to Axinite was a long one. Clarice buried her head into her hands and was shivering with fear. Ingram rubbed her arms and tried extensively to stop the shivering. “Clarice they can be in Mirefield too” he said, but then he was scared too, he expected the worse to happen even though Mirefield was an option. But for now his priority was to help Clarice.

         “NO! THEY WON’T! I KNOW” She screamed at him. She gave him a look, a look that was drenched with fear and sorrow. This was the same look she gave him yesterday when she couldn’t tell Ingram about her past.

         “Clarice! Is this got something to do with what you said yesterday?” he whispered. She nodded and that nod began to burgeon a new fear into Ingram’s head.

         The boat had docked.

(Unnamed Story)- Chapter 8: The Docks & The Fireplace.

 They ran back home as quick as possible, Bennet wasn’t home yet. Clarice and Ingram decided to go visit the docks and tell him about the conversation they had with Bathilda.

        The docks were teeming with people, the golden sunrays barely made it to the ground. It was filled with fisherman, small traders, people arriving and leaving Hauyne. The crowd was double the normal because tomorrow is the weekly fish-market in Hauyne. Clarice held Ingram’s hand and led him through the crowd and into the shipyard. They saw Bennet there, he was one of the helpers of Hauyne’s shipwright.

          “Benn!! We need to get to Mirefield immediately” Clarice panted, Bennet did not understand what she had said. He waited for her to catch her breath and asked “what happened?”

           “After the blaze everyone shifted to Mirefield, we need to get to Mirefield quickly. Do something!” Clarice insisted. Bennet took them aside and tried to calm Clarice down. She slowly did.

           “Clarice, there is only one ship a week to Mirefield and the ship just left 2 days ago. We need to wait another 4 days for that one to arrive. We don’t have –” Bennet was interrupted by Clarice.

            “You work here! Arrange a ship. You can do that can’t you? You’ve worked here for so long can’t you do that much?” she was almost shouting at Bennet.

            Ingram put his hands on her shoulder and said “Clarice, It’s not Bennet’s fault. It’s his family too, It’s our family he won’t hold back on any help he can get. Don’t blame him. We’ve waited for 2 decades, 4 days are going to get by in a flash. So, trust me we’ll be fine” he cooled her down “and go easy on my brother, he likes you too much that’s why he doesn’t get angry on you. He’ll do everything he can to make you happy” he smiled at her and pushed her towards Bennet.

         Clarice playfully kicked Bennet and went on to look at the ships in the shipyard. They waited for Bennet to finish work and walked back home. The sky flushed with red as the tip of the sun waved goodbye.

          They reached home and Clarice made dinner for everyone. Bennet went to bed as soon as dinner was done, he was tired after a hard day of work.

          Clarice and Ingram sat in front of the fireplace and Clarice broke into a conversation.

          “Ingram, I want to tell you something. Promise me you won’t talk to Bennet about it. He’ll simply worry” Ingram gave a quite nod not having the slightest idea what Clarice was about to tell him.

          “This happened when you were in prison. Bennet and I tried to find you, we did not know you were in prison then. Bennet never let me into the towns all by myself, I know he was trying to protect me but then I had to help him. He was already hurting and we were running out of money too. It was a really hard time, I don’t know how we made it through. Some really bad things happened Ingram, I don’t know how to express it you” Clarice said, while her eyes filled with tears.

         Ingram sat on his knees and held Clarice’s hands “what happened Clar? You can tell me. I’m here for you.” He knew something must have gone horribly wrong because it would take something really harsh for such a strong person like Clarice to become so vulnerable.

          “Ingram please trust me, I will tell you what happened but just not today. I don’t think I can right now. It hurts! It hurts whenever I think about that time. I know how hard we struggled, we couldn’t find You, Elia and Daisy, we had no idea where you were, money was a struggle and it felt like everything was falling apart. So-”

           “Clarice! It’s okay, I’m here for you whenever you want to talk about it” he comforted her. She got up, hugged him and went to sleep. “Get some sleep, don’t stay up too late” she said while she went.

          But Clarice’s vulnerable face was stuck in his head and he couldn’t get over it. It was something he had never seen and it worried him deeply.

         The fireplace mimicked the warmth of Clarice’s love. He sat cozy by the flame, the room illuminated with the flickering light. Though the air isn’t smokey he could smell the pine as it burns, just a faint fragrance to reassure his senses that there will be comfort in the long run.

The Helping Hand :Chapter – 1

Jonas was casually speeding on the two-lane road he was driving on. He cruises through the sketchy traffic on the road like he practiced on his video games. He was never a fan of the brake pedal either. “It’s too much work”, that would be his justification. He was having a great time till he heard some ruffling. The carefree smile turned into an ugly scowl when he looked at his sister.

             ‘What are you looking for Avi?’ The ruffling stopped. Jonas slammed his hand on the dashboard which shook Avi out of terror. ‘Don’t go through my stuff you runt. Hands off!’

              Avi took her hand out of the glove compartment and closed it shut. The tear drop that lingered in her eyes all this while finally slid down. She didn’t want him to see her cry so she turned left to see the moving traffic beside her. The light streaks left behind by the moving cars and the city lights looked wondrous through her wet eyes. She felt like a lost child in a giant oil painting like the one in her hall. Her thoughts sank in the beautiful imagery till she caught her reflection on the window glass. When reality kicked back in, she unfolded the visor and looked at her face in the mirror. She touched the swollen lump on her left cheek which shot a jolt of pain. It was less bluish than last night but was just as painful. She turned to her brother with her large pearly eyes wide open.

              Jonas looked back at her. ‘What do you want now?’, he asked her in a tone of revulsion.

             ‘Can you make this go? Please? I don’t want to look like this. Not today. Please?’ she pleaded desperately.

             ‘What I can do, is put another one of those on your ugly little face if you don’t shut up’. He got back to driving wondering how cool it would be if he could say stuff like that to his girlfriend and getting away with it.

              Avi’s lips quivered in anguish. The thought of looking like that on her birthday almost made her break down. She looked back outside to forget the pains of life. They had entered the suburbs now and they were moving slower than they were. The displays on the stores on the road caught her attention. She looked at them as they kept moving along. Suddenly, she saw something that had her absolute attention. When they drove through, she saw a bright red dress on display in a store named threads. It was just her size and it was beautiful. She felt like time had slowed down when she saw it.

                She had had enough after getting an eyeful of that. Her street gazing endeavours had come to an end. With her head tilting down, she imagined herself wearing that. Her mom, complimenting how good it looked and giving her a kiss on the cheek. The thought made her smile till the car reached a screeching halt. Jonas had stopped in a dark alley. He got out and went off to talk to a few shady people in the corner. He walked back with a tall, slender girl wearing a tiny leather skirt that hugged her skin tight and a low-cut red blouse. Every step she took with those heels could be heard so clearly even inside the car.

                  The stench of the alley had just kicked in. Her eyes got used to the gloomy environment after a sudden shift from the bright lights of the main road. The darkness here didn’t scare her anymore. She was leading a much darker life. She looked at the hobos scavenging through dumpsters and camping around fires, rubbing their hands. She wondered if her life was any better than theirs.

                  Jonas and the strange lady reached the car. He got into the backseat and she followed suite. She made herself comfortable but then spotted Avi sitting on the passenger seat.

                ‘Hey, we’re not doing it with the kid here, are we?’ she questioned in a strange accent that Avi had never heard before. ‘It’s happening right here and right now’ he told her straight in the face. The woman looked out the window and saw her two friends waiting outside near the phone booth and gazing at both sides of the street. Business was slow today and she didn’t want to forego one good client. ‘Fine!’, she said with total disgust ‘but I’m not moaning for you’.

                ‘That’s fine by me. Just get on with it already.’ He was in a hurry too. Avi was staring at her knees while they spoke. She looked at the fresh scar on her knee and rubbed it hard hoping that it would disappear. Jonas then patted on her shoulder. She didn’t turn back but he had her attention. ‘You know the drill’. She nodded and clasped her palms on her ears. She shut her eyes closed and felt her heart race even faster. When she felt the car shaking, she squeezed her hands even tighter, turning her face red. Her mind was going crazy. She wanted to cry but that wasn’t the best idea at the moment. After a minute of struggle, she found herself in total darkness. She stood in an abyss with a spotlight beaming down on where she stood. Nothing was in sight as she looked around. After running around and struggling to find an exit, she spotted something in the distance. The spotlight followed her as she moved towards the object. As she got closer, she realised that it was a mirror, just about as large as her. She stood in front of it and was shocked to see herself wearing the same red dress she saw earlier at the store. She was in awe and looked at every tiny detail in the mirror. It was beautiful, she looked beautiful.

                All that joy was sapped out when she saw someone standing behind her. Her eyes opened wide in absolute horror when she was a pale blue skinned boy with totally black eyes standing behind her. She turned towards him and a spotlight fell on him too. He was frail and just wore a pair of shoddy black shorts. His skin was dry and his bones popped out. He looked like he has been suffering for a while but he had life. Ignoring the empty black eyes, he looked cheerful and friendly. He looked like he was full of life. When the terror started fading as they faced each other, she felt like she had known this boy for years. The sense of familiarity was comforting and put her at ease. Even the claustrophobia was dying. He opened his lips to say something but then stopped in his tracks. He paused and then put on a genuine smile which was reciprocated by her.

              ‘Avi. Do you want to be happy?’ He asked her in a very caring and mature tone. Avi had never seen a smile as genuine and pure aside from her mother’s. She was still trying to reconcile and understand the meaning of what he had said and why he said it. She nodded doubtfully and smiled back forcefully. She wasn’t good at smiling, she didn’t have much practice. She couldn’t remember the last time she smiled. She couldn’t remember the last time she was happy.

                ‘Close your eyes when you need me’ he said in a very concerned fashion. The spotlight that revealed him just disappeared with a loud thud. She shook her head here and there wildly looking for him and she heard another loud thud making her spotlight disappear too. She opened her eyes and unclamped her hands. Jonas was putting on his seatbelt. He was sweating profusely and had a proud smile on his face. He turned the rear-view mirror towards him and kempt his hair right. He cleansed his face with a handkerchief and wiped the lipstick off his nose.

                    He checked his watch and drove off. Avi’s mind was still boggled by her strange vision. It didn’t feel like a vision. She kept repeating what he said. “Close your eyes when you need me.” What would she need him for. She randomly closed her eyes shut, hoping to see him again and talk to him. She had so much to talk about. But nothing happened. She tried it again, and again, but nothing ever happened. She wanted to believe that it was just a silly dream but that was just her conscious mind speaking. Deep down, she wanted it to be real. She cleared her head and stared at the most awful place from the car. She was home.

-Rohit

Adding a new writer to the blog.

Hey I am Jeevith. It’s been an amazing experience blogging here and it’s my great pleasure to introduce you to a new writer and one of my best friends, Rohit. He has been blogging for the past year and now  he is going to join us on this blog, he is a proficient writer and we will work hard to put out quality content.

           Writing has always been one of my favourite hobbies, I was always passionate about it. Rohit forced me into starting this blog and publish the content I had written a while ago. I really appreciate it that he convinced me into this, It’s an amazing experience altogether..Thanks man!

           I am sorry for such a short introduction. Here we go, Welcome to The Hinikuna.

P.S. : He edits most of my blogs before they are published.

-Jeevith

 

 

(Unnamed Story)-Chapter 7: The Blaze.

“It was just another cold winter night in Vesuvanite. My grandchildren were playing in the backyard and the rest of the family were upstairs. I locked the front door and sat beside the fireplace in such a way that I had the children in my sight.” She stopped and took a deep breath, there was something drastic going to happen. The look on her face said it all.

        “There was a lot off commotion outside the house. We all came down to look outside, all the neighbours were outside. An old man spoke to the guards who had come there. He said that there was some army trying to conquer Axinite. The guard assured them it wasn’t serious. Axinite was a rich country even then, the army does a brilliant job of protecting the country from all the harm. Axinite always had a lot of threats, the army always contained those threats. So, when the guard said it was fine all of believed him and got back into our houses. No army ever made it through the Iron gates, but this wasn’t an ordinary threat. This was Urgern Baron, one of the strongest and most sly conquerors Axinite had ever faced. Him and his army came out of nowhere. They broke the Iron gates, we could hear the noises till our houses. We had faith in the army but it still scared us. All the neighbours gathered outside and started to talk, I took the hands of the kids and kept them by my side. That was the last time I held their hands. I did not even get a chance to look at my family”. Bathilda was a strong woman, she had endured a lot in her life. It all came back to her, she buried her head in her hands.

          Clarice hugged her and whispered something in her ears. “Do you want some water?”

        “No dear, I’ll be fine” she was slowly calming down. Clarice held her hand and gave her a supporting nod.

        “Clarice they came out of nowhere! They came out of nowhere. They came and torched everyone they found, they burned houses and animals. THOSE COLD BASTARDS DID NOT EVEN SPARE THE CHILDREN! WHAT DID THOSE INNOCENT CHILDREN DO TO DESERVE THIS? WHAT DID I DO TO BE LEFT ALIVE? I SHOULD HAVE DIED. I should’ve gone with my family too. I got left behind and had to suffer all these years.”

           “How did you survive?” Ingram asked curiously.

         “I took the kids and ran inside, I ran to the backyard to flee from behind. My whole family joined in, they ran in front, while my old legs couldn’t keep up. I tripped and knocked myself unconscious. I couldn’t save them! The moment they stepped in the road they got killed. My grandchildren were torched and my son and his wife just hit to death” At this moment Clarice held Bathilda’s hands asking her not to continue. She had to go on, she needed to get it all out.

          “I woke up hours later, I kept hoping it was a nightmare but it wasn’t. My people had left me. They left me! I couldn’t look at their bodies the next morning. I pleaded the guards not to force me to. I couldn’t do it Clarice, I couldn’t!”

         “The king spoke about the loss the people had suffered, but he doesn’t understand the loss. Urgern couldn’t even enter Krifmont, all he did was ruin lives of families from Vesuvanite and Hauyne. The king though it was a triumph, he did not actually care about the loss. He was relieved that Urgern did not make it to the capital.”

            “The King’s associates came by a few days later and distributed gold to the families. Gold wasn’t going to fix the families lost. This gold was just enough to start a new life because Urgern’s men had looted half the town.The surviving people of Vesuvanite and Hauyne had a meeting. They decided to start a new life on an island a day away from here. I stayed back, I did not need a new life. I did not need a life at all. I shifted to Hauyne with the little money I had, hoping all this while that my family would knock on my door one day.”

          “You’re a strong woman Bathilda. I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to survive the heartbreak you endured. I am like your daughter now, so never say you don’t have a family. I’ll always be there for you” Clarice smiled.

           “Where did they all shift to Bathilda? did you catch the name of the island?” Ingram asked.

             “The island of Mirefield is where they all fled to, fearing more attacks” Bathilda had murmered ‘cowards’ at the end of the sentence.

             “Clarice, you are the strongest woman I’ve known. I’ve seen you everyday since you arrived here. I see you helping everyone and endlessly searching for Ingram and his family. Day in and day out. You would endlessly pursue random leads. I haven’t met someone so loving, caring and motivated all my life. I would proudly call you my daughter. Ingram trust me, this woman is going to find your family. Her family.” Bathilda confessed to her.

          “I know! She’s all the support I need. We are going to find Elia and Daisy” said Ingram proudly.

          “We need to find Bennet, we need to get to Mirefield as soon as possible” Clarice shouted at Ingram as soon as they left Bathilda’s house.

          Ingram smiled at Clarice. He was glad he had someone like her at this point of his life.

 

 

– Jeevith

(Unnamed Story)-Chapter 6: The Two Women.

The rays of the sun gently made its way into the room. Cold winds followed it, waking Ingram up from a deep sleep. It was his proper sleep in decades. Well, he was almost home. He gently opened his eyes, there was a lot of chatter outside. He tried to hear what was going on outside. He closed his eyes, children shouting and screaming playfully whilst the housewives hustled and bustled and haggled over the price of various fruits, vegetables and other merchandise. He got up, put the picture away and got out of the room. He walked up to the table and saw a note “breakfast is ready I went down to receive Clarice from the docks” it said with Bennet’s sign underneath. He washed his face and made a run for the docks to receive Clarice. A lot of emotions ran through his head. How would Clarice feel when she sees him? How would he feel when he sees her? Will Clarice accept him? Will she be angry? It was a barrage of questions. One thing he knew for sure, he would be delighted to see Clarice no matter how she thinks of him.

        Ingram half ran and half walked, his body had given in halfway to the docks. He stopped for a while to catch his breath. He could see the sea now and the peak of the mast. He walked a few feet and saw Clarice and Bennet walking towards him. Ingram stopped in his tracks looking at Clarice. Clarice was a typical classical beauty, flowing golden curls, ivory skin and beautiful eyes of blue. She finally noticed Ingram, she stopped in shock. Her eyes teared up, she looked at Bennet and he gave a quiet node. Clarice lifted her gown and ran towards Ingram she hugged him so tight he almost fell over. The hug lasted a long time after all Clarice saw Ingram like her own brother. The crying didn’t stop till they reached home, both Bennet and Ingram calmed her down and sat down to have breakfast.

            Clarice did not let go of Ingram’s all through breakfast. Ingram told her about all the torture he faced at prison and how he forgot all about the past from the mental torture, he told her how his family was his anchor in surviving the years of prison.

         “Ingram, I promise you we’ll find Elia and Daisy even if it costs me my life” said Clarice. Ingram didn’t know what to say, he gave her a soft hug and walked to the backyard. He sat down for a while, Clarice came by and whispered in his ear “come on, let’s go” and she left. Ingram did not know what she meant but he followed her outside into the streets.

             “Where are we going?” Ingram asked. Clarice did not answer. She held his hand as though Ingram was going to get lost again. Ingram followed in silence. “Where is Bennet?” She still didn’t answer. They walked for a few minutes and reached a house, she knocked the door and waited for it to be answered.

             An old woman opened the door. Face entranced, the morning light reflected off her tanned and wrinkled skin and the eyes that belie her eighty years. “Hi Clarice” she said in a soft stammering voice. Clarice looked stunned, she had never spoken to this woman just occasionally smiled when they saw each other on the street.

             “Come in come in. Sit down. Do you want tea my dear? And who’s this young man?” she asked in a soft loving tone.

             “This is my brother” said Clarice and smiled at Ingram.

            “Who is she? Why did we come here” Ingram whispered in Clarice’s ear.

         “My name is Bathilda. How can I help you Clarice?” she stammered and smiled at Ingram. Ingram was surprised she heard the whisper.

          “I’m sorry to come in so unannounced. Ingram just got released from prison and came to Hauyne to find his family” Ingram squeezed Clarice’s hand signalling her to stop. Clarice looked and Ingram and gave him a soft blink and nod. Ingram trusted Clarice.

            “Yes, he was tortured a great deal in prison. He lost all his memories and now all he’s left with is the memories of his beloved family. He came back here a few days ago but he did not find his family. Bennet and I thought Elia and Daisy would be with Ingram and one day they would come back to Hauyne looking for us. So I stayed back in Hauyne waiting for my family” Clarice’s tears were unstoppable. Ingram hugged her and comforted her. She took a sip of her tea and continued on.

         “Ingram came back and saw Hauyne completely changed. He searched the whole village but couldn’t find a sign of his wife and child, he spoke to the villagers a bit but couldn’t understand anything that had happened. I heard that you shifted here from Vesuvanite, could you please tell us what happened after the blaze? Where did everyone go? Please help my family.” Clarice pleaded.

          Bathilda got up and put her hand on Clarice’s head. “everything is going to be alright dear”.

          Ingram held Bathilda’s hand and helped her to her chair. His eyes showed the respect he had for Bathilda.

         “No matter what happens even if I break down, do not ask me to stop. I lost my family in the blaze, I want to save yours at least. So no matter what! Do not stop me.” She said quite sternly.

          Ingram looked at both these women. He had no idea how strong both of them were. He felt a rush of love and respect for Clarice, even though he always respected her this was totally different. He was almost close to a complete family. Almost.

          Bathilda had started her story. It was time to know what had happened to Elia and Daisy.

-Jeevith