Chapter 8:

Follow the White Rabbit

A Moribund Hero

Leon eased through the crowds, absorbing the images of faces and ID's behind those faces. Most of which were registration numbers of some kind; a license or medical records. Data that constituted a legal registered ID.Bookmark here

They were stopped by guards in all black leather armor with humming halberd tasers on their back. A blue-green circular [E] symbol shone on their right breasts. They wore opaque glass helmets that were being blurspotted to avoid any form of recognition.Bookmark here

"Registration." A guard approached Leon and received a view of Lucy's utility wristwatch.Bookmark here

"He's with me," she declared.Bookmark here

The guard silently stared at Leon. After a pause, nodded and scanned her wristwatch with a handheld scanner. He moved on to the people behind them.Bookmark here

Leon didn't look back. He kept walking at the same quick pace as Wolf and Lucy. He noticed a few other blurspotted heads turn their way, but lost interest when they went further inward toward the thick of the crowd.Bookmark here

Lucy pointed at a building she wanted them to enter. The building had a large overhead sign bearing the words, 'Drinking Hole'. Many people were coming and going from it.Bookmark here

They picked their way inside, passing through wooden swinging doors. Bookmark here

The inside was wooden floors, wooden circle tables with chairs, red paper lantern ceiling lamps trimmed in gold and one large polished wood bar at the far end. Glass shelves behind it were laden with bottles of colorful liquid. Some of them were smoking like they were going to explode.Bookmark here

"Let's go here," she said, and they occupied a table in a less conspicuous corner.Bookmark here

Wolf went to order drinks at the bar. Bookmark here

Leon sat attentive as he scanned in his surroundings.Bookmark here

"Deez another easy wins for Squad43." A man boasted with overconfidence as he swaggered through the swing doors.Bookmark here

Leon scanned his image to determine his threat to public safety, but the man's aura levels were calm. So, he was content to let him be.Bookmark here

"Weez be top ranking by next shift." The man continued to show off to a couple of other men next to him.Bookmark here

Leon noticed they wore the same uniform as Wolf and Lucy. The overconfident man had his neck covered with a fine blue scarf on the fancy side. His image was pristine, with a feeling of extreme wealth.Bookmark here

"Pfft. Stop trying to be a big shot, Marcus. You look like a fool." Lucy chuckled.Bookmark here

"Aah. Lucy my angel. If I be a fool, deez because I'm a fool in love for you."Bookmark here

Leon analyzed the man's features; tall with stylish short brown hair and a side swept fringe. Symmetrically balanced and appealing features. Almost too appealing. Like a ken doll, Lucy had described.Bookmark here

He frowned when the smooth man swaggered up to her to take her hand and peck it. She looked obviously disgusted by the gesture. This reaction made him switch off his VR mode to see the truth of his surroundings.Bookmark here

The bar was exactly as imaged in the VR simulation, albeit less flashy. Bookmark here

The man's face was a shock. A complete contrast to his virtual reality profile. His hair was slightly long in a scruffy ponytail. And it was red. His nose was big and wide, almost the main feature of his face. Especially, when his eyes were narrow and closed in so much it looked like he was squinting. It didn't balance his over inflated lips and cheekbones. Numerous freckles. It was the most he had ever seen on a person.Bookmark here

Leon decided it was better to see the man through the VR system, so switched it back on.Bookmark here

"Eew! Don't give me your cooties, Marcus." Lucy abruptly rose on instinct and whacked the man in the gut to send him reeling backwards. She was rubbing her hand vigorous on her vest.Bookmark here

A sensible man would get the hint, turn around and walk away.Bookmark here

"Aah. Strong women are deez best flavor to savor." Marcus straightened up to give his show of love another go.Bookmark here

Leon continued to frown. The man was being too forceful. Under the GCE Civilian Code of Conduct of Domestic Affairs and Harassment, forceful sexual advances were an offense. If a person said no once and was pressed again more forcefully, as a Golden Warrior, he had the right to act under the law.Bookmark here

He rose and stepped before Marcus before he could accost Lucy again. Without saying a word, grabbed him by the collar and forcefully escorted him out of the bar whilst skillfully navigating the crowd to avoid obstructions.Bookmark here

"The lady expressed her disinterest. Stay here and reflect on your actions," Leon said when he tossed Marcus forcefully to the ground like he was a sack of potatoes.Bookmark here

Naturally, people skirted around the scene to avoid them. Leon returned to the bar and his seat before Lucy, who was groaning bitterly and rubbing her aching temples.Bookmark here

"Dude. People are looking at you." Lucy continued to groan.Bookmark here

By this time, Wolf had returned with drinks.Bookmark here

"Need to leave?" He asked as he placed down mugs of ale on the table.Bookmark here

Lucy nodded when she saw a pair of blurspotted-head of guards enter. Bookmark here

Wolf gestured for Leon to get up and get going.Bookmark here

As Leon was rising, he felt a gust of wind to his collar and a strange feeling around his neck. He felt his neck and realized his amulet was gone.Bookmark here

"What's wrong?" Lucy frowned when she saw Leon being agitated and patting his body down like he had lost something. It was the first time she saw an expression from him.Bookmark here

"My amulet!" He began to panic.Bookmark here

Lucy's eyes widened with horror. The freak better have not lost it.Bookmark here

"Calm down. Where'd you last see it?" She hushed to calm him down, so they wouldn't draw attention to themselves too soon.Bookmark here

Leon knew it was nowhere in the bar. He had scanned a few times to be sure.Bookmark here

Sir. Warrior. Find me. Find the amulet. A sweet and mellow voice sailed into his ears and mind.Bookmark here

It was almost soothing and peaceful. He felt his head go light and wanting to slip into a dreamscape.Bookmark here

"No!" He slapped his head. "Charm spell."Bookmark here

Lucy gasped. "Time to go."Bookmark here

She dragged him through the bar and out the side door, where the streets were less populated.Bookmark here

Leon shook her free when he glimpsed a person wearing a white hooded cloak with bunny ears running ahead. They had his amulet dangling from their white gloved hand. He chased after their trail.Bookmark here

"Damn it! You stupid ken doll!" Lucy cursed when Leon weaved his way through the crowds at a great sprint.Bookmark here

Of course, he had recently topped up his blood supply, making him run like a cheetah. He was too fast for her to use her restraining band. She chased after his trail, hoping to catch up and be able to stop him.Bookmark here

Leon's vision of the scenery was constantly changing as he ran.Bookmark here

One moment he was sprinting down a dirt track cutting through tall green wild grass of a meadow with a clear azure sky above him.Bookmark here

The next moment, he was weaving his way through a leafy hedge maze, where the ground was black and red checker patterns. At some corners were statues of marble figures depicting foxes, goats, rats and all small creatures he had devoured blood. Some of the statues were fountains where their mouths spewed red waters into a bowl. As he looked up, he saw a blood-red and orange sunset sky.Bookmark here

He shook his head, which was becoming dizzy and hot. A mad ringing was aggravating his eardrums, making it difficult for him to focus.Bookmark here

Find me Leon. The soothing voice giggled in his head.Bookmark here

When he gained a moment of clarity, he saw the white cloaked figure dashing through a gold gilded door.Bookmark here

He followed their path and through the door to find himself in familiar stark-white halls of a Big Farma House. They were void of life or windows to give clues of where he was. Bookmark here

Always ahead of him was the white cloak person dangling his amulet to tease him. So, he continued to give chase, but whenever he felt he was catching up, they would fade from his view.Bookmark here

Regardless, he raced down corridors, passing through doors the person had run through to eventually step into a dark and dingy alleyway. Bookmark here

It was chilly. A foul, off-meat, stench permeated the air. The feeling was different from the places he had run through. It felt real.Bookmark here

A redwood desk with a glowing purple aura appeared before him from the alleyway's dead-end. Bookmark here

He slowed his pace to carefully approach the desk. And stopped when a woman appeared, seated behind the desk. She had picture cards laid out in a pattern on the desk's surface.Bookmark here

"You can remove your glasses, Leon Winter. The charm spell has worn off." She spoke with reassurance.Bookmark here

"How do you know my name?" he cautiously asked.Bookmark here

The woman raised her head, so he could see her face. Although, it was blurspotted like the guards. "Remove your glasses. You can see. We can talk."Bookmark here

The white cloak person appeared next to the woman. Their outstretched hand held his amulet.Bookmark here

Leon sighed deeply and switched off the VR simulator. He slowly removed his glasses and took a moment to recover his senses.Bookmark here

"Good. Now, we can talk," the woman said as she gathered the cards and began shuffling them. "Take a seat."Bookmark here

He glanced at his amulet in the white cloak person's hand, who he could see was a young girl about his age.Bookmark here

"Please. Your amulet, I return." The girl's voice held no trickery this time. It was cordial and sincere.Bookmark here

Leon gathered the purpose of the rouse. So, he sat down in the chair before the desk and card-shuffling woman, accepting his amulet with great relief.Bookmark here

"Good. Before the others arrive. A message just for you," the woman said.Bookmark here

Leon watched her place three cards in a row on the table and turn them over one by one. As she did this, he was able to see more of her appearance.Bookmark here

She was slightly aged with fine wrinkles to her forehead and crease lines to the corners of her gray eyes, which were heavily painted with pink and kohl shadow, so her iris shone bright. Her painted red lips were pursed has she peered at the cards before her. A silver veil covered her head and ran down the length of her body, overlaying a deep purple gown. Fine gold and silver jewelry with colorful gems laden her wrists, ears and slender fingers.Bookmark here

"Have you heard of Tarot?" she asked him, and was expecting his no.Bookmark here

"No." He shook his head.Bookmark here

"Our Mother, Gaia, blesses a few of us with the gift of foresight." She soberly dropped the tidbit.Bookmark here

Leon's eyes lit up with interest. A generous grin stretched the woman's lips.Bookmark here

The woman drew his attention to each card.Bookmark here

The first card was The Fool. Second card, The Tower.Bookmark here

"Interesting." She chuckled when she pointed out that the last card was The Lovers.Bookmark here

Leon asked his question with his eyes.Bookmark here

"I will explain now," she said.Bookmark here

Hungry Sheep
Harmonica Writes
You can resume reading from this paragraph.