Defenders of the Flame (TE Rewrite) Act 3, Scene 4 - The Approaching Storm
Title: Defenders of the Flame (A CIU Screenplay)
Main Pairings: Shreya x F!MC, Beckett x F!Atlas
Other Pairings: N/A
Genre: Full Rewrite (The Elementalists, Book 1)
Rating: PG-13 for violence, blood, swearing, alcohol, and sexuality
Summary: The heads of the Stoicheal Orders meet to discuss recent events.
Previous Scene: "That Distance Between Us"
INT. UNKNOWN BUILDING - CONFERENCE CHAMBER - NIGHT
That night, several Penderghast professors sit around a large central table. They are surrounded by walls of brick, on which are flickering torches alternating with six elaborate stained-glass windows, each depicting a different Attunement’s motif. The only visible entrance to the room lies above them, where a round, recessed opening sits covered only by a shimmering stoicheal barrier. The seat in front of the Fire-themed window is empty, while the other five are all occupied.
DR. ENGLUND: Well then. Shall we begin?
A chorus of assents follows his statement. The others in the room turn their attention to the empty chair at the table. Dr. Religast shakes her head as she looks around at the others.
DR. RELIGAST: I see Evelyn is still absent. Has anyone heard from her recently?
Dr. Kontos sighs and shakes his head.
DR. KONTOS: Nothing. I... I fear the worst.
DR. RALLAH: I have tried tuning my most powerful pangasols to her signature, but they have all shown no response.
DR. ENGLUND: So she is either in the Archikeal Realm, or--
DR. RALLAH (irritated): Taerl, do you really think I haven’t tried that? I’ve traveled into the Archikeal Realm with the pangasols. Still nothing. Meaning--
DR. RELIGAST: She could be in the Between. That’s the only possibility left, other than...
Dr. Religast sighs, leaving the obvious alternative hanging unspoken. From his seat in front of the Water window, Dr. Vartokis clears his throat.
DR. VARTOKIS: Speaking of the Between, I believe we have a certain recent phenomenon to discuss, no? As of Induction Day, that makes two of these unusual “breaches” within the past year. Has anyone made any headway?
DR. ENGLUND: They appear to be isolated incidents. Some sort of unusual stoicheal pulse echoing throughout the Between, causing a temporary thinning of the barrier. From what I’ve managed to gather... these “pulses” both originated in the Archikeal Realm. And from the same location, besides.
DR. RALLAH: The same location? That cannot be a coincidence.
DR. RELIGAST: I agree. Do we know where?
Dr. Englund shakes his head.
DR. ENGLUND: Not yet.
DR. KONTOS: Which brings us to the matter of who might have interest in thinning the barrier. A certain someone who has been trapped inside. Has there been any activity from Highmore's cultists lately? Anything that might suggest he has escaped?
DR. RELIGAST: That’s the strangest part, Linden. As far as I can tell... there’s been absolutely nothing. So either he missed the opportunity to escape--
DR. ENGLUND: Doubtful.
DR. RELIGAST: --or he’s planning something big. Something that would need him to lie low until it’s ready.
DR. KONTOS: Do we know for certain that these “breaches” would allow an Attuned to escape? It may be that the barrier wasn’t weakened enough for--
Dr. Vartokis shakes his head.
DR. VARTOKIS: Someone escaped the Between during the second breach. I wasn’t certain before, but... from what I can tell, there is an incredibly powerful Water-Att on Penderghast’s campus at this very moment.
The others all turn to stare at him.
DR. RALLAH: You’re certain of this.
DR. VARTOKIS: Positive. Every once in a while, I get a feel for it. It’s a powerful Water-Att signature, no doubt about it.
DR. RELIGAST: If they’re a Water-Att, then it can’t be Highmore. And you’re sure whoever-it-is came from the Between?
DR. VARTOKIS: No other explanation. All transit in and out of Pennelia’s stoicheal bubble has been closely monitored. If a Water-Att this powerful had been spotted entering, I would’ve been told right away, no?
DR. RALLAH: You have a point. But still...
DR. VARTOKIS: I'll continue my investigation. It’s possible whoever-this-is was one of Highmore's followers. I know there were a few trapped inside along with him. I’ll get to the bottom of this.
DR. RALLAH: Good. Let us know as soon as you find anything. As for Dr. Swan’s continued absence... Maya?
DR. RELIGAST: Me?
DR. RALLAH: Yes, you. I want you to scour Pennelia’s bubble top to bottom. If Dr. Swan has been trapped in the Between, she likely found a way to leave us some sign to follow. Knowing her, it may even be something one can only identify from the air. Thus making you the perfect person for the job.
DR. RELIGAST (nods): I’ll do my best. Hopefully you’re right!
DR. ENGLUND: I will bring our concerns to Elise. It’s possible that, as dean, she has access to additional resources that may help us in these matters.
DR. RALLAH: Excellent suggestion. Which leaves you, Linden. You likely already know your assignment.
DR. KONTOS: Naturally. I will contact the other chapters of Gaia’s Sentinels. Together, we will intensify our search for any unusually powerful bursts of Wood or Life Stoichi throughout the Stoicheal Realms. If Highmore has indeed escaped, it is my duty to stop him. And that I shall do.
DR. RALLAH: Very good. And I will monitor all sources of reflection in the Pennelia bubble; if another breach occurs, I will be ready to take advantage of it to find Evelyn and retrieve her from the Between.
DR. ENGLUND: Then it seems our meeting has adjourned.
DR. RELIGAST: Let’s hope next time, Evelyn will be here with us.
As the professors get up from their chairs, they stop to glance forlornly at the empty Fire chair. One by one, each uses their particular brand of stoicheal technique to pass through the exit in the ceiling. Finally, Dr. Kontos is the last one to leave. He hesitates.
DR. KONTOS (muttering): Something isn’t right. But what...
He sighs and shakes his head. Then, with a flick of a wrist, he summons vines that grow down from the ceiling and wrap around his waist, lifting him gently up toward the exit after the others.
Notes: Now for something completely different... an entire scene without Fiora?! Weird. I'd wanted to have a few more of these "meanwhile with the professors" scenes for a while, but decided to wait until Dr. Vartokis got introduced formally. And it also made for a nice excuse to reveal some of the professors' first names!
Worldbuilding: Dr. Rallah mentioned a "pangasol." This is a device that, when activated by a powerful Metal-Att, performs a super-advanced version of the Locator spell from canon. Like the canon spell, the device requires an object belonging to the person/thing being searched for in order to work properly.
Next: Romance and Reflection (Coming soon!)
CIU Tag List: @brightpinkpeppercorn @endlesshero1122 @bbaba-yagaa @acidsugar0 @shaylan211 @griselda1121 @acanthisorbis @marmolady @choicesbabie
DotF/Elementalists Tag List:
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Ooh, I’d be a sucker for 21: “I thought I would never see you again” or 23: “I thought I was going to die there.”
21 or 23? Why not both, I say!
Caretaker swore as another lockpick broke. “Why―won’t―you―open―” they growled as they pulled out another wire and started wiggling it in the cell door. What would they find inside? Was Whumpee okay? What if they were… oh God, what if they were dead? Caretaker wiggled the lockpick more fiercely, brows drawn together in concentration.
Finally. Caretaker burst through the door and into the cell.
Whumpee was huddled in the corner of the empty, grey room. Their hair was shaved down to the scalp, their body skinnier than it should be. Their right eye was swollen shut, their skin deathly pale except for their cheek, which was flushed with a magnificent purple bruise. Blood trickled from the side of their mouth. The sight sent a chill through Caretaker’s bones. But they were alive. Blessedly, mercifully, they were alive.
They raised their head when Caretaker entered. “Hey.”
Caretaker dropped their satchel and rushed over to Whumpee. “Oh God, are you okay?”
Whumpee dabbed at the blood on their lips and winced. “Not in the slightest. Bet you missed this face, eh?” They pointed to their swollen, bloodied visage with a lazy grin.
Caretaker raised an incredulous eyebrow. “I just came to rescue you, and all you can do is comment on how gorgeous you are. When it looks like you've been beaten to hell and back, no less."
“Sounds about right.”
Caretaker rolled their eyes. “Is anything broken?” Caretaker started feeling Whumpee’s hands, arms, legs, for anything out of place. Whumpee hissed in pain as Caretaker’s fingers brushed their left side.
Caretaker drew their hand away and worried their bottom lip with their teeth. “I think you might have some broken ribs. Do you know how many?”
“You know, I wasn’t really counting, as I was currently getting the beating of my life and didn’t really have time to closely examine my anatomy.”
"Sarcastic as ever, I see. You've been severely tortured and you're still wisecracking. Says something about you, doesn't it?"
"And what’s that? That I'm unbearably att-tr-tr―" They broke into a fit of coughing. Caretaker watched them with concern. Eventually, they took a shuddering breath and met Caretaker’s eyes. Caretaker was startled to see how lost they looked.
"Are you okay?" Caretaker asked. "I'm not just talking about the ribs."
Whumpee licked their lips and looked away. “I... thought I would never see you again,” they said. “I thought I was going to die there, in that room, and…." They trailed off. Caretaker didn't think they imagined the tremble in their voice.
Caretaker cupped the side of their face with their hand. “Hey, hey, hey. I'm here now. Let’s get you out of here, yeah?”
Whumpee wiped their nose with their hand and sniffed, looking up at the ceiling. “Well, I can’t deny that a trip to the hospital would probably do me some good.”
Gently, Caretaker bent down and lifted them, bridal style, supporting their back and thighs, careful to not touch their ribs.
“This okay? How do you feel?”
Whumpee looked up at Caretaker and cracked a smile. “Like a blushing bride.”
Caretaker laughed and pressed a kiss to Whumpee’s forehead. They smelled of sweat and blood, but Caretaker couldn’t care less. “Oh, I’ve missed you, you sorry bastard.”
Whumpee sighed. “So sweet, I don’t know if I can compete. But likewise, dear bleeding heart. Likewise.”
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