‘Well, she’s not on this continent.’ Grantaire let go of his hand and suddenly the room seemed darker. Once again, Enjolras was standing in the small house that was only lit by the fire in the small fireplace. Outside in the dark of the night he could hear something shifting. He looked over his shoulder, but Bahorel and Eponine were still guarding the door and didn’t let themselves be distracted by the strange fellow Enjolras was talking to.
‘That’s it? You hold my hand for a minute and decide you can’t do it? They said you were the best tracker we could find.’
Grantaire frowned at him and crossed his arms. The clothes he was wearing suited his house and his long black hair made it all seemed so much darker. It gave him the creeps. ‘I am. But if she’s crossed a lot of water, even I’m not going to find her from this distance.’
‘So she’s lost.’
Apparently that was a stupid thing to say because it made Grantaire roll his eyes. ‘I can find her, just not from this distance. We could follow her over land, but it’s going to cost a lot more.’
‘We haven’t even discussed money yet.’
‘I wasn’t talking about money.’ Grantaire gestured him to take a seat in the only chair while he went over to the table and started going through the diversity of glasswork and pottery. ‘Do you have something that belonged to her?’ he asked while working.
Enjolras, who had just carefully sat down, shot up again to get the bag he had dropped next to the door to take out an old doll. When he turned back around he saw Grantaire looking at him with a deep frown. ‘How long did you say she has been missing?’
‘I haven’t. At least ten years, possibly more.’
Grantaire bit his lip thinking. ‘I’ll try again,’ he decided, turning around. Together with his supplies he made his way to the middle of the room and pulled away the carpet. Underneath it was just sand, his house didn’t even have a proper floor. But perhaps it had been designed that way when he took up a stick and started drawing in the sand. With his hands he added more details and smooth patterns. He walked around it a few times to check his work before he nodded and cleaned his hands on his not very clean pants before getting back to his pottery. ‘Here, drink this.’ He hold out a glass to Enjolras.
‘What for?’ Enjolras said mistrusting.
Grantaire had already continued but now stopped in his tracks to look at him again. ‘For thirst? It’s just tea, to make you calm down a bit.’
By the door, Eponine coughed to get their attention. ‘What creatures live in these woods?’
Shrugging, Grantaire just went on with his preparations. ‘All sorts, but they’re scared of me. If you’ve seen nothing so far, they won’t come.’
Eponine looked over at Enjolras, who gave a nod that it was alright. Both she and Bahorel left their positions to join them next to the fire. Again, Grantaire gestured them to sit down. Since the only chair was occupied by Enjolras, they made themselves comfortable on the rolled up carpet. Suspiciously, Grantaire followed their moves out of the corner of his eyes to make sure they wouldn’t mess up his pattern.
‘Now, if you could all kindly shut up,’ he said not very kind, especially since none of them were talking. He took the doll in one hand and kneeled down at the far end of the circles, carefully touching it. For a moment his face just showed concentration but soon he shook his eyes and placed the doll aside. ‘Too old,’ was all he mumbled and got up. He sprinkled the floor with something that almost looked like salt or sugar out of a pot and after a moment of hesitation he swallowed something he got out of another one. ‘This better be worth it,’ he said with a disgusted look on his face.
‘It is,’ Eponine said but quickly shut up when Grantaire looked over at her. He walked around his patterns again but made sure not to touch anything. When he snapped his fingers, Enjolras started to doubt their decision to come there. So far, nothing had happened he was actually willing to call magical. He looked over at Bahorel, but he was still looking at the door in mistrust of whatever was outside in the forest. When he looked back at Grantaire, he looked right into his eyes. Despite the darkness that was hanging in the room like thick fog, he could see the bright green colour of his eyes. For a moment, their eyes locked and time seemed to slow down. It was as if something was pulling on his eyes, making his head go forward. Except he didn’t move, nothing moved but everything was speeding forward at the same time. And all that time the only thing he could focus on were those green eyes like lights in a dark tunnel.
When Grantaire suddenly looked away, the room seemed to have cooled down significantly. Careful, walking on his toes, Grantaire stepped into his drawing. Each step was soundless but seemed to create an earthquake at the same time. When he was standing in the right place, Grantaire closed his eyes and slowly spread his arms. A soft vibration made the glasswork tinkle and outside something suddenly ran away. For a minute, Grantaire was a silent image in endless concentration. Then his hand started shaking and a frown appeared on his face. The vibration got audible and with it Grantaire sank to his knees. His eyes were still closed and his hands were fists now. Too caught up in the moment, Enjolras didn’t even register himself holding his breath. Then suddenly, over the drawing a different pattern started spreading. All it’s lines started from Grantaire and were soon spreading across the room, going under the walls and further outside. Now his face wasn’t just frowning, it was filled with pain and his whole body seemed to be shaking. Enjolras would have done something to help him or make it stop, except he had no idea what was even happening and he feared interfering would make it worse. From one moment to the other, it stopped. And Grantaire’s body dropped motionless to the ground.
When he opened up his eyes, the room was lighter than he would have allowed it to be. What could only mean a few things. Either he had eaten up too much of his magic, or Musichetta had arrived. He only had to groan a tiny bit when Joly’s face popped up in his vision.
‘Are you insane?’ he demanded to know. ‘That boom was heard all the way in the village! You could have at least brought us here before you did something stupid like that.’
‘Wasn’t stupid,’ he slurred, slowly sitting up. He was lying partly buried in the sand but his arms were still shaking. ‘They didn’t tell me that next to being too far away she would also be protected.’ He moved his hands through his hair to get at least part of the sand out of it.
‘We didn’t know.’
Grantaire looked up with a shock to see the three visitors still in his house. ‘Oh,’ he said and frowned. The beautiful one frowned right back at him, also confused. ‘Normally people leave after something like that happens.’
‘Something like what?’ The tough looking girl was leaning against a wall and had crossed her arms while checking him out. Suddenly he felt weird and exposed, lying covered in sand and dirt in his own house.
Luckily Musichetta was indeed there and saved him from multiple things by handing him a drink that was supposed to warm him back up. ‘Oh, you know,’ he said shrugging, inhaling the smells coming out of the cup and closing his eyes in bliss. ‘The whole earthquake thing and- How long have I been gone?’ He tried to look out of the door, but Joly pushed him back before he truly could get up.
‘Too long! A few hours. We were just wondering if we should have buried you deeper.’
Grantaire shrugged but it was bad news. ‘That might have helped. I don’t think I’ve ever been that far gone on my own.’ He grimaced. ‘Does my voice sound weird?’ Musichetta and Joly looked at each other before they both rushed to his side just in time to catch the cup that was falling out of his hands. A shock wave went through the earth underneath them and made Grantaire groan. Or it was the other way around, he could never tell. He buried his hands back into the sand and closed his eyes while Joly rubbed his back.
‘Will water help?’ Musichetta asked worried, holding the cup near him so he could still smell the aura coming out of it. He shook his head slowly and pressed another wave back into the earth. He tried to give his friends a better answer to their unspoken questions but he could hardly keep his concentration to himself as it was.
‘Let’s just burry you deeper,’ Joly suggested.
Taking a deep breath, Grantaire nodded. ‘Yeah, let’s do that. But outside.’ Musichetta left his side and he could hear her talking to the visitors without registering what they were saying. All he could feel was the pressure Joly was applying to his skin.
To say it had been a strange night would be an understatement too great for words when Enjolras watched Bahorel and the woman who introduced herself as Musichetta half dragged Grantaire out of his house. His feet were not supposed to leave the ground but he was also very clearly not capable of standing on his own legs. He had not opened his eyes in a while and didn’t even do so when he lowered himself into the man shaped hole they had dug him and let himself be covered in sand. The man whose name he had forgotten made sure his head was still free.
‘How long does this normally take?’ Enjolras asked when they were done and all of them were staring at the tracker who seemed completely relaxed and at ease now. Possibly asleep.
‘Normally?’ Eponine said horrified. ‘Is this normal?’
Musichetta smiled. ‘Normal enough. It always happens at full moon anyway, just not so often outside of that cycle. But while we’re waiting, let’s go to our place and see if Bossuet has returned yet with something mortals are actually allowed to eat.’
The forest seemed less dark and scary when they were walking in the other direction. The house they soon saw looked just as small but light and cheerful. It was close to the small village but far enough to have a lot of space around it. The door was open and they could hear someone singing inside.
Musichetta, Joly and Bossuet lived in perfect harmony with each other and their strange neighbour and weren’t bothered at all by their three unexpected guests. They all sat down at the large table that was soon filled with all sorts of food and for the first time since he entered trackers house, Enjolras realized his hungry and thirsty the night had made him. Strangely enough, he wasn’t that tired. Bahorel, who had stayed silent almost all night, was chatting with the three new strangers they had met as if he had known them for ages and even Eponine seemed at ease. There was something about them that lighted the room, even more so now they had come out of a dark one.
It was nearly noon and they were sitting outside in the sun when a lonely figure made his way towards the house. Out in the light he could see the ropes he had thought to be black were actually rather colourful, but they were all dark and intense looking shades. Seemingly, the night had left no mark on Grantaire when he let himself fall down in one of the chairs. ‘I have good news and bad news,’ he said, accepting a cup of tea from Bossuet. ‘Bad news, I didn’t find her. I found her traces but they’ve been covered and there’s no way for me to know where she went to. Although I’m rather sure she’s alive.’
‘Good news?’ Bossuet asked.
‘It’s a good reason to go visit Jehan!’