Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 29
“You can’t just go tearing off into the city’s heart! You know nothing about this place, and I won’t let you get yourself killed, or worse, while you get yourself lost. Especially not without better intelligence than we have,” a deep voice stressed to whisper commandingly, only partially succeeding at both.
“I will go where I see fit, Osric. Someone needs to straighten this out and I won’t be left behind waiting, left in the dark!” a woman whispered back, far more effective at replying in both a whisper and commanding tone.
The voices continued to murmur to each other, but it didn’t make much sense to Leonard, who heard them as if they were far away. Any of the words he did managed to catch seemed to float around in his mind, but never anchored into fully coherent messages.
Leonard was sure the voices sounded familiar, and in a far off way, he knew that what they were talking about mattered. He also became aware of his cheek against cold stone as he lay prostrate. An unbidden groan escaped his lips, head throbbing murderously at his first attempt to shift his position from the unforgiving ground.
The whispering stopped, replaced with the shuffling of feet. Leonard moaned again as he tried to move his arm to life himself from the ground. Before he’d managed to realize he felt nauseated and maybe should lay back down, there were hands on either side of him, gently assisting him to shift into a sitting position; his head gave another unceremonious throb that sent him falling sideway while cradling his head. The hands held him in place with his back against the wall.
Eventually, Leonard became aware that the murmuring had started up again, but there were longer pauses between each muddled message. He leaned his back against the wall and tried to concentrate on the words floating around his head.
“Leonard? Leonard, how are you feeling?” it was a woman’s voice, but it sounded watery and muffled. Leonard’s head continued to pulsate. He wasn’t sure he wanted to open his eyes, he felt dizzy just being propped against the wall.
“Imkaywhappen?” the string of smashed together and half completed words fell out of Leonard’s mouth in a rush of wheezy air.
“I didn’t quite catch all of that, but I do not think ‘okay’ is any way to describe the situation at hand,” the woman’s voice said near Leonard’s ear. Though everything still felt fuzzy and he had not yet opened his eyes, Leonard was able to recognize Wilhelmina’s voice as hers at last. Small comforts, he told himself through the pulsating of his head.
“You’ve been out for a while, so don’t move too fast,” Osric’s deeper voice sounded in Leonard’s other ear. Leonard felt the weight of the larger man’s hand rest on his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. To Leonard’s surprise, it also made him feel a little better.
With great effort and much trepidation, Leonard slowly opened his eyes, though quickly shaded them from the only lamplight with his hand, grateful for the dimly lit room. “What happened?” he asked after a moment, resisting the urge to shake his head to clear it for fear of angering his gently pulsing head.
“Well, we were discussing the direness of our circumstances when…well, you hit the floor- I tried to catch you, mate, sorry about that. But you just sort of…shut off, blacked out. We were actually going to ask you what happened,” Osric answered. Though he attempted to sound lighthearted, Leonard could see the uncertainty Osric felt; his drown together eyebrows and worried gaze were telling enough.
“How long have I been out?” Leonard asked, trying not to cringe from the answer. Collapsing for any amount of time after the mention of things getting more dangerous didn’t sound like the best way to contribute to a mission or an adventure to Leonard.
“It’s hard to say for sure in here, but an hour or two, I’d wager,” Osric replied as if reporting that the sun was shining that day, and it was of no consequence. Leonard could tell the minimization of time was for his benefit.
“It was enough time for Mi-Wilhelmina and I to get each other caught up on a few things, get a little reacquainted,” Osric added with a soft smile in his sister’s direction. Wilhelmina did not return the smile, but her eyes were brighter.
“Oh?” Leonard asked, slowly looking from Osric to Wilhelmina.
Wilhelmina nodded and said, “We weren’t able to revive you, and so thought it best to use the time we had to go over a few important things. Osric is now more knowledgeable about what’s be going on in Palloria, and I was learning about the situation here in Krosis. We were just discussing what actions we might need to take-“here Osric cut across Wilhelmina.
“Actually, we were having a disagreement about that,” he said with a hard look at Wilhelmina, who seemed unabashed, but remained silent, allowing Osric his say.
“What is it?” Leonard inquired, still shielding his eyes, but no longer needing to squint at his companions. Now that he was more conscious, he was becoming aware of the rising tension between Wilhelmina and Osric and couldn’t help but think that he woke up just in time.
“Osric was explaining to me that there have been some disturbing reports coming in concerning the nature of the portal and shards, mainly what powers then and allows them to work as they do. There is a high likelihood that those that have been abducted have been put to use, in one way or another, to keep them working.” Wilhelmina’s voice drained of color as she shared this information with Leonard, who felt his heart grow painfully cold.
“But…but they’re alright aren’t they? Maybe hurt but, we just need to go and find them, right? Destroy whatever machines are being used, break everyone out and then return everyone home?” Leonard searched both faces for any sign of hope, but he recalled the argument that he’d awoken to, and his heat sank even further.
“It’s not that easy. Everyone has been getting false information from Etta, Wilhelmina and the Palloria side, as well as me and the base here. Only recently have some of the more disconcerting reports made their way through, so it’s been slow work trying to piece the truth out, as well as any possibly compromised people. But we are going to form a plan,” Osric insisted when Leonard’s face hardened.
“You’re telling me that there’s a good chance that the people that have been abducted across various worlds, including Palloria, are being used to somehow power the portal shards, something that really doesn’t sound good for anyone’s health, and we’re going to ‘come up with a plan’?” Leonard was unable to dampen his incredulous tone.
The lamplight flickered.
Click here for Part 31!