The Void of Mist and Thunder (The 13th Reality #4)(14)

by James Dashner

Chapter 13

Words on Ice

Tick’s heart had dropped upon seeing his mom and sister captured by Sleeks, and he almost beat his fists on the ice where their images appeared, thinking he could break through, dive through, and save them somehow. He yelled to them as they were brought to the foot of Jane’s now-broken castle and thrown to the ground, though he knew it was pointless. Full of desperation and rage, he could only sit there and shake. Helpless.

The screen—the rectangle of frozen pond—suddenly flickered, and the scene disappeared, replaced by a few lines of written words. Before he even read it, he knew it was some kind of riddle, and for some reason, it made him mad. He screamed and did hit the ice, cursing Reality for playing such ridiculous games with him. His family was in trouble, and here he was, forced to solve a silly puzzle again.

But on the other hand, he was good at it. The fabric of the universe understood his mind and was trying to help him. Was trying to form its complexities together and present to him a solution in a way he could best grasp it. Just like what had happened with the Haunce.

Tick gained control of his emotions and forced himself to read the words.

The smallest thing begins to grow

It needs no light, it needs no glow

This thing, it fears the weakest breath

And yet it cannot embrace death

The greatest man or bull or steed

Or queen or doe or stinging bee

Eats it, smells it, drinks it some

And one day it they will become

Tick sighed. He’d hoped the riddle would be easy, that the answer would jump out at him. But no. Of course not.

He started thinking.

“My name is Mordell,” the woman said to Lisa and her mom. She sat on the grass next to them, her legs folded beneath her flowing robe, her back straight, and her hands settled on her knees. “I am a Lady of Blood and Sorrow, a new order started by our master, Mistress Jane, to serve her in the quest to create a Utopia for mankind. To bring eternal happiness to humans once and for all. We bear our name of despair to teach the world that we will do anything, make any sacrifice, to bring this Utopia to pass. We are servants only.”

Lisa felt queasy as Mordell spoke. She seemed to have a blank stare as she recited her mantra, as if it had been beaten into her since she was a kid.

“Why are you looking for my son?” Lisa’s mom asked. She had the Barrier Wand gripped in one hand, the other hovering above the button on top. Lisa also had a hand on the device. They could wink away with one click.

“Because we know he is with our master,” Mordell replied. “We believe that they disrupted the fabric of Reality by using such astronomical levels of Chi’karda that they were ripped away into the Nonex.”

Mom gasped, and one of her hands flew up to her mouth.

“The Nonex?” Lisa repeated. That didn’t sound very good. “What’s that?”

Her mom looked over at her, her face somehow showing even more worry than it had before. “We don’t know much about it, but it’s a place that both exists and doesn’t exist, trapped somewhere between the dimensions of Reality. Sort of a no-man’s-land, where your mind is the only thing keeping you alive. They say it’s where you go if you ever meet one of your Alterants.”

Lisa had the thought that her mom was a true scientist, unable to stop herself from breaking it down to textbook explanations despite knowing her own son might be trapped there. But her eyes held deep love and concern still.

Mordell continued. “Mistress Jane has been training us to understand the ways of Chi’karda. It flows here in ways it does not in the other Realities. We’ve brought every one of our kind from the stations we’ve established throughout the Thirteen Realities. Even as we speak, they are gathering inside the Great Hall of the castle behind me, which by fate, survived the destruction.”

“What are they doing?” Lisa asked.

Mordell’s eyes focused on hers for the first time. “We are meditating, probing the universe, seeking any sign of Atticus or Mistress Jane. We must find their nanolocators or sense their presence. We have to be ready to snatch them if they appear, as soon as they appear. Right now, it’s as if they have been wiped from Reality.”

Lisa’s mom didn’t seem surprised, as if she’d given up doubting anything anymore. “And how did you find us? Did you wink us here?”

“We have the data on your son’s nanolocator. In our probing, we saw you looking for him. And then you were captured by the Great Disturbance that has plagued the Realities ever since our master disappeared. We rescued you from it and brought you here so that you could help us. We’re no longer enemies; we have the same purpose.”

Lisa’s mind caught on those two words: Great Disturbance. The lady had said them as if they were the name of a place or a person. She asked what it meant.

Mordell looked into her eyes once again. “We call it the Void of Mist and Thunder, and if we don’t find a way to stop it, the lives of our master and your brother, and the quest to build Utopia, won’t matter. Because every last person in the Realities will be dead.”

Lisa and her mom looked at each other, dread hanging in the air like soaked curtains. How did you even follow up something like that with questions? There were too many to know where to start.

Mordell stood up in a move so graceful that Lisa didn’t even notice until the woman was on her feet.

“Come,” the Lady of Blood and Sorrow said. “There will be time for explanations later. Right now we need you to join us in our meditations and help us probe the universe until we find those we seek.” She turned and started walking toward the broken door of the broken castle.

Lisa knew there’d be no discussing this with her mom. They both got up and followed the strange woman into the darkness.

Chapter 14

Watching TV

Mothball was thankful something had finally gone right in her life. Klint Tanner had given her a cup of hot tea as they sat down in his living room to talk about the world and its problems. The news was going to be rough and depressing, she knew it, but at least she had some tea to warm her bones and settle her nerves.

Sally had asked for chocolate milk, which embarrassed Mothball to no end. Especially when the buffoon asked if he could have a straw to “sip it up with.” Oh, she liked the man well enough, she supposed, but how he’d become a Realitant, she’d never know.