True Deception, Chapter 20

“We died in there, didn’t we?” I only half kidded when I made that jest! Violet and I not only got surrounded by white sheets, I noticed for the first time that our clothes had gotten changed into a cloud-colored shirt and pant combo! Plus, the unknown woman who stood before us had an angelic aura to her too! Her blonde hair sort of resembled a halo, her soft facial features made her practically glow, and the way she carried herself in the same outfit as us made her wardrobe practically glide in the air! She radiated a strong sense of peace and calm, which prompted me to consider that the explosion we underwent took away our lives! I felt as though the serious injuries I sustained during that incident should still have been plaguing me, and the fact that my pain and soreness had vanished made me really start to worry that we got killed! If we died, who would save the planet from the dark forces that haunted everyone and everything?

            The woman giggled slightly at my inquiry, and then she informed us, “You’re not dead! I happened to be driving by the factory when that blast went off, and when I saw you two fly out of there like that, I knew that I had to help! The hospitals are so full right now that I’m sure not everyone would have been able to get the proper care that they deserve! I offered to treat some of the other victims too, but when they heard that I ran a healing practice and not a clinic that uses western medicine, they all declined my services! I hope they fare well wherever they got transported to!”

            Violet queried, “Did many people get hurt from that… accident?” I could see guilt eating up her entire body, and while I wouldn’t want anybody to come to harm, considering that most of them tried to murder us, I refused to weep over their ill fate!

            “Many of them were unconscious, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out their status,” she replied to her. “I didn’t’ have a minute to spare- I had to ensure you two got proper treatment immediately! I hope you two aren’t offended that I brought you here instead of trying your luck with the doctors! I know it’s not most people’s ideal choice for healing, and neither of you were conscious to make your own decision, but I thought…”

            “If we had been conscious, we would have pretended we were fine and then suffered for it later, so we appreciate you taking care of us!” I refrained from adding that I was relieved that we didn’t resurface in Saint Cyprian’s! Of course, we probably would never have been able to wait long enough to see the ambulance arrive! If this kind lady hadn’t shown up when she did, Nathair and his surviving crew would have used our inability to defend ourselves to finish us off once and for all! This woman saved our lives without a question… Well, maybe I did have a couple of questions… I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for her services, but considering the breadth of Birsha’s influence, it seemed prudent to wonder about her motives for preserving our well-being! Was she merely an altruistic soul, or did she have something more sinister in her mind? I had to investigate this matter, so I began by remarking, “We’re really fortunate that a person who ran a healing practice found us in such a critical moment!”

            She politely corrected me, “Well, I run an entire temple, the healing center is simply a small part of it. When you two are up for it, you’re welcome to explore the entire property! But please don’t feel the rush to resume normal activity! You two need your rest, you’ve been through a lot lately!”

            Violet jovially reacted, “You don’t know the half of it!” After a brief chuckle, Violet gingerly asked the lady, “So, can you tell us more about this temple?” I could tell Violet’s main concern was whether or not this would have been deemed sacred enough grounds for us to be safe from another ambush from the Fallens. It sounded as though we were sent to a religious institution, but sometimes fraternities and other organizations dubbed their headquarters as temples, so it was better to check and make sure we landed somewhere secure! If we hadn’t ended up in a house of worship, then Violet and I would have had to work out a way to escape quickly since this woman gave our adversaries a hint to our location!

            “This is the Tara Buddhist Center of Northeast Massachusetts,” she explained. “The majority of this land is dedicated to prayer and meditation to Tara, the female Buddha, but in the interest of self-sustainability, we also have this medicinal area too. We also grow our own food and sew our own clothes. We have nearly everything necessary to take care of all of your needs, you’re in good hands here!”

            “Lama Malva!” A young woman peeked her head into the room in order to get our rescuer’s attention, but she instantly grew uncomfortable at her intrusion into these quarters.

            Malva genially responded to the girl, “What is it?”

            The girl told her, “It’s almost six. Did you want me to take over this session, or…?”

            “Well, they’re conscious now, but I do wonder if they would be safe by themselves…” Lama Malva gave this notion serious consideration.

            “I can miss this one and watch over them if you’d like,” the young girl volunteered.

            Trying not to sound too suspicious by having a strong desire to rid ourselves of any company, I reassured her, “I think we’re well enough to be alone for a little while!”

            Lama Malva addressed me, “Healthwise, you probably are, but with our recent… visitors… I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving you by yourselves. Okay, Samaya, you stay here and watch over the entrance. Let no one in without my permission!”

            “Yes, Lama Malva,” Samaya obliged.

            “I’ll be back shortly,” Malva let us know as she headed out.

            Samaya locked the door behind her and positioned herself by a window that overlooked a fairly empty section of the parking lot. My curiosity compelled me to stand up and see if I could catch a glimpse of these visitors that Lama Malva mentioned, but it appeared that I hadn’t fully recovered yet- my legs wobbled tremendously, and I almost fell down! I caught Samaya’s attention, which I didn’t particularly want in this juncture, so I sat myself down again. I turned to Violet and quietly wondered, “Who do you think these visitors are?”

            Violet shrugged. “I would assume that people from Birsha’s Army would come looking for us, but then again, it could be anyone with a bloodlust since we have a bounty on our lives!”

            “Do you think that’s true, or did Nathair make that up so he wouldn’t have to use up his life force to do it himself?” I posed to her.

            “I have no idea if it’s a legal doctrine or not, but if he gets people to believe it’s true, then the results will be the same,” she concluded. “I’m just glad they didn’t involve the kids with that ordeal! That would have been awful!”

            With all of the traumatic events that unfolded that day, I almost forgot we encountered that group of children during our tour! “I don’t even wanna consider what may have happened if anyone that young got involved with that mess! Then again, they may not be as shielded from it as we’d hope! Did you hear what that teacher said about her coworkers at this school?”

            Violet lamentably nodded. “I always knew the Fallen had infiltrated schools, but it’s sad to picture those sweet, little souls getting indoctrinated with that crap Birsha’s Army pushes! Although it sounds like some of the adults who work there resist it, maybe some of those students will turn out okay!”

            “If the Arch Deity is there, then they’re already getting some protection from it,” I brought up. “Did you see how differently they acted than their teacher? They obviously have some thoughts that are independent from her!”

            ‘Yeah! We obviously gotta go there next, but how are we gonna get there now?” Violet pondered. “If word gets around that there’s a reward for turning us in, then it’ll be practically impossible to roam the streets again! We could leave at night, but regardless of how much the darkness covered us, it would take us a long time to get there since we don’t even know where this Monico Elementary School is! And then there’s those ‘visitors’ we gotta deal with- can we even make it off of this property without getting caught?”

            I gazed at Samaya vigilantly guarding the entrance to this room, and then I commented, “I’m not convinced we can even leave this clinic! I know Lama Malva told us that we could explore the joint when we recouped, but how long will it take before she rates us as healthy enough to walk around?”

            Violet theorized, “I imagine she would have someone escort us wherever we go, which is helpful in a way ‘cause there’s safety in numbers. It’s nice to have extra eyes on us, but that comes at a price- they probably won’t let us leave for who knows how long! If Lama Malva figures out what we’re up to, then she may never let us go!”

            “How would she know that?” I probed.

            “She might’ve gauged the dynamics of it all based on how separated we were from the rest of the people in the factory,” Violet pointed out. “Not only were we far apart from them physically, but we dressed differently too! Way differently! And I know we weren’t conscious, but I’m guessing even our facial expressions were polar opposite of theirs! And undoubtedly, if she’s a Guardian too, her instincts would spell everything out!”

            I hadn’t entertained that possibility prior to Violet throwing it out there, and while that concept interested me, I hadn’t totally bought into it yet. “If she really is a Guardian, then wouldn’t’ she have grilled on our plan so she could do everything she could to make us succeed?”

            Violet differed with me, “Not necessarily. No Guardian likes what Birsha is doing, but not all of them want to put serious effort into stopping her. A lot of them prefer to defend the victims than to proactively go after the villain.”

            “That does sound like Lama Malva,” I regretfully admitted. “So, how do we get out of here then?”

            “All we can do is wait for an opportunity to open up for us!” Violet espied the unsatisfied expression I bore from that pronouncement, so she sympathized with me, “I know, it sucks! The longer we wait, the more damage they’ll do! But if we try escape too quickly, then our mission will die with us!”

            Her reasoning made absolute sense to me, but it was hard for me to accept! It prompted me to speculate whether or not our enclosure truly had no manner for us to flee after all… I used Violet’s shoulder to lean on like a crutch as I picked myself up, and in this instance, I prevailed! I peered out the window and beheld aa couple of security guards from Nerium Night Ware pacing in front of the temple’s driveway! I gasped, which caught Samaya’s attention again. I feigned as though all was well and sat back down, but once she shifted her focus back to the exterior, I notified Violet, “Nathair’s goons followed us here!”

            Violet didn’t appear to welcome this news, but she didn’t seem surprised by it either. “What were they doing? Trying to break in?”

            “No. They were walking around on the sidewalk,” I reported. “They acted like they were patrolling the premises.”

            “So, they’re not trying to get us out, they’re just waiting for us to come out,” Violet stated. “We’re probably not going anywhere tonight!”

            I frowned at that impression initially, but then something occurred to me. “It’s Friday, no one will be at the school anyways! We probably wouldn’t be able to do much good if we rushed out of here so fast. This isn’t such a bad place to sleep really- it’s very relaxing! And they did do a good job putting us back together! I may have to come here when I’m sick in the future!”

            Violet filled me in, “You could, but honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that Lama Malva used more magic to heal us than holistic practices!”

            “Wow!” That hunch hadn’t come to my mind at all until right then! “We’ll have to really thank her when we… Oh, but if we get too close to her, the Fallens will go after her too!”

            “They already know she helped us since she went into the factory to see if anyone else wanted her assistance,” Violet asserted. “I really hope she’s a Guardian ‘cause if she’s not one, then she’s completely unaware of the danger she put herself in by lending us a hand!”

            I concurred with that statement, but then I puzzled, “If she is a Guardian and purposely took on that risk, then why wouldn’t’ she want us to get out of here and finish our quest?”

            Samaya unexpectedly joined in the conversation, “I trust Lama Malva’s judgement, you should too!” I nearly had a heart attack to hear her say that! It mortified me that she had been able to listen in to our discussion, but then it slowly dawned on me that she hadn’t interrogated us for clarification on anything! Did they have a plot against Birsha too?

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