Chapter 19:



    The walk was long and cold. For the first several kilometers, Quil remained a river's width from Lilli. That cold created a great vacuum in the space between them where only silence filled it. Even in the great halls, not even the echo of the footsteps ahead of Quil could penetrate that vacuum.
   However, as time went on, the gap began to close. Perhaps the chilling creep pushed Quil to move closer to the ever-warm hair of Lilli, or perhaps they both continued to hold onto their hopes for each other. Both knew they were lost in the depths of darkness together. And though the cold was not frightening to Quil, Lilli had to push herself with each step. Each gate of her step had to cut through the cold that wrapped around her eyes and her mind. She wanted to shake it away, but the creep of the ice made her joints feel firm and resistant to any movement. Perhaps that is what eventually pushed her to slowing her pace just long enough to wait for her rabbit to catch up with her. But even still, with her rabbit next to her, something didn't settle properly with her. That creeping cold corrupted everything it touched. It corrupted her mind. It corrupted her vision. It corrupted the warmth she had felt for her rabbit. The cold was her fear, and it clung to her as it reminded her of Rabbit's dream. The cold reminded her of her own dream. The cold reminded her of purposelessness. And so, even with her rabbit by her side, the vacuum remained between them.
   Eventually they found their way to the faint whisper of light beneath the thin crack of the mysterious door.
   Quil exited as he was greeted by Filth and Silje only a few meters away. Both stood awkward. Poised somewhere between a hug and a high-five as their arms were raised above their heads.
   "Wow, Miss-Rabbit-Lover," Filth gave an unconvincing and awkward laugh, "looks like you had a rough night."
   Quil's cowlicks cocked as both Filth and Silje remained at a standstill.
   Okay, Kid, look," Filth sighed, "I know this looks really bad -"
   Quil shook his head confused.
   And in response, Lilli cried in a panic to Quil, "Rabbit!" Her voice came with a struggle.
   Quil immediately turned to witness two white-and-blue drones restraining Lilli with thick metal gloves that cuffed her hands. In the manner of restraint, the drones didn't stop there. They linked the chain of her gauntlets to a heavy breastplate, sealing her appendages. Finally, they linked the plate's chain to a massive choker that reduced the amount that she could breathe, suffocating her airways.
   Quil turned back to Filth, his eyes were lit with an intense flame.
   Filth tried to give a convincing smile, but he found it difficult with a cold barrel pressed against his back. "Kid, I swear I didn't -"
   "You're a bastard!" Quil shouted before exploding forward, lunging towards Filth.
   Mid lunge, Quil was intercepted by a white-and-blue drone that collided a heavy force directly into Quil's gut, sending Quil rolling to the floor.

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