After Kent had finished telling the others his parable there were scarce seconds of silence before Kelly, who had been struggling to contain herself, spoke up.
“Kevin, come and change your clothes… you’re very smelly!” shouted out Kelly laughing hysterically.
“Kevin, come and change your clothes again! You’ve been a naughty boy getting dirty underground!” cried out Oriana.
Paul laughed along with the girls, only Suvarin was unaffected by the intense jovial laughter coming from them. Kent, shielded from scrutiny thanks to the blind folds kept silence.
“Thank you, Kent,” said Suvarin warmly, “I like that parable. It is coming along nicely.”
Kent thanked her, and they continued on for a couple more minutes before Kent announced they had arrived. Paul, Kelly, and Oriana were relieved to have their blindfolds removed. They were still underground, but underneath a ladder up to a manhole. Kent went ahead and opened it up for them to climb out, Paul needed help to climb out but was starting to manage better. They were on a quiet backstreet in a suburb over from where Oriana lived. Kelly recognised it immediately and announced she knew a friend nearby who could give them a room to stay for the night. They said goodbye to Kent and Suvarin who departed back down the manhole, closing it behind them. The trio then set off with Kelly in the lead.
“My friend Isaac lives just down this way,” she said. Paul hobbled along supported by Oriana.
Isaac met them at the end of his driveway.
“Kelly,” he said flatly, “I got your message.”
Isaac was short man, almost twenty years of age, he was chubby in the face, but his body looked surprisingly frail. He had dark eyes and his clothes were ragged and black. There was little animation or warmth in his face.
“Can we stay the night here?” Kelly asked.
“Sure, we just need to sneak past my parents’ window to get to the bungalow out the back. You will all need to sleep on the floor.”
Paul and Oriana hobbled up along the driveway. Kelly whispered to Isaac that Paul was injured and needed some help. Isaac was surprised and stared at Paul dumbly. Oriana signalled with her eyes and Isaac eventually got the hint and helped to carry Paul the rest of the way. The bungalow was a one room studio flat. On all the walls were pictures of emo music bands, horror movie posters, and pictures of modern art. The walls were so densely covered in pictures it was impossible to tell what the original wall colour had been.
Kelly explained to Isaac what had happened to them that day, to Oriana’s surprise Isaac had already known about Kent. Kelly explained that after Oriana had told her about her first encounter with Kent she had told Isaac about it. Isaac said that he had heard stories about people who lived around ground and wanted to know if he could come with them to meet Kent.
“Mmm,” grumbled Oriana, “I don’t think you would like to get involved with Kent, certainly right now because it would mean coming into contact the Tyranni. They are some seriously dangerous dudes.”
“These Tyranni, are they devil worshippers?” asked Isaac.
Kelly interjected before Oriana could answer, “It is worse than that, they worship three dark gods who are always trying to bring chaos and misery to the world. They hate order, truth, and beauty. They want to ruin everything for everyone else. They’re some seriously bad dudes.”
“They are like a secret clan of killers, sadists, and destroyers?”
Kelly nodded affirmatively.
“Cool,” said Isaac tonelessly.
Oriana felt a shiver run over her when Isaac spoke. She looked at him and then at Kelly and wondered why Kelly might have liked this man. The group were all tired though and the conversation quickly trailed off and they fell asleep on the furniture strewn across the floor of Isaac’s bungalow.
It was almost four in the morning when Kent and Suvarin had made it back to his chamber, having spent the evening pulling the raft back into the underground dock. Kent only had a single bed so Suvarin had to snuggle up to Kent to fit on the bed with him. They had quickly dozed off but in just a few short hours the sun rays started piercing through the skylight and woke the sleepy pair up prematurely. Kent twisted to free up one of his arms that had gone numb. Suvarin grumbled for being woken up. Both tried to get back to sleep again but the sunlight had washed away that possibility.
Suvarin looked up at the concrete ceiling of Kent’s chamber and quietly started mouthing her prayers. At some point Kent noticed what she was doing, so he made a conscious effort not to disturb her by moving or making any sound. She noticed what he was doing however, and drew her prayers to a close prematurely. The two of them stared silently at the ceiling.
“Kent. I’m afraid.”
Kent slowly drew in breath, but did not show any other response.
“The Tyranni have injured, wounded, demoralised, and murdered so many people. They have developed the infliction of misery into sinister field of knowledge.”
Kent swallowed uncomfortably. Suvarin went on.
“I am afraid for those three young people: Oriana, Paul, and Kelly. They have no idea what trials await them if the Tyranni target them.”
“Why would they bother? Those three aren’t important to them,” whispered Kent.
“They make a point of attacking anyone who comes into significant contact with us. They want to create so much fear and suspicion of us that people will be afraid of the Aeshir.”
Kent was silent again.
“Kent. If you had to, do you think you could kill someone?”
Kent’s body convulsed at the question. He shook his head.
“No. Not a chance.”
Suvarin frowned, although her face was concealed from Kent so he couldn’t see it.
“It might be necessary,” she cautioned.
“Laneg doesn’t think so. He thinks they won’t risk it.”