Beyond the Cutting Edge: chapter five

“So you’re just going to let his people go so close to your friends’ house?” Blue asked after hearing the entire story. “They’ve all agreed to be away from their when it happens, even removing family valuables for it in case whoever he sends is incapable of resisting their natural criminal urges.” Tristan explained before yawning loudly, “I really want to get some sleep, I’m tired, yet I can’t quite seem to calm down enough.” Tristan complained to himself laying within a sleeping bag from his wonderfully huge estate, the kind of place greedy people dreamed of living in. It saddened him to think how empty his home was, everything he owned was gone, and if he couldn’t get to the truth he would never escape his fate, always be on the run and worst of all, never be trusted, meaning no more cons. His entire life was over unless he could figure out who killed Abagale Witt. “You’re sure he’s not one of them?” Blue said, remembering the ramblings of Rich. He decided to explain right away, the nonsense Rich spoke to them once Tristan had been removed by the officials. “That guy Rich, he was a lunatic, he claimed to have seen you at the factory, or at least some guy claiming to be Mr. Bolt, could have been your uncle couldn’t it?” Blue said sadly, as if anything he said at that time was only more depressing news. “It’s not him, he’s got an entire empire of crime to run and he can do it all from one small room, he likes having his food carried to him by the sheriff and his men far too much to ever leave.” Tristan explained dryly clearly tired of explaining his uncle to people curious as to the nature of the darker sides of Cutting Edge. “I don’t know what he saw; he was corrupted by darkness worse than even this forest can do. I know a lot about darkness.” Blue said as he slowly slipped out of consciousness. “He’s the only family I have left, even if I hate him, that has to count for something.” Tristan said, unaware his current roommate slumbered peacefully despite the many hardships they had faced, and despite the much worse hardships that would soon be coming their way. If Tristan knew one tenth of the devastation he would be responsible for he would have wept in that bed, and longed to leave this riddle alone, longed to do anything except for his own problems at the expense of Cutting Edge, he would stay far away from, the forest of metal.
The next day started the same as the previous for Tristan, he awoke in a strange place he only vaguely remembered from long ago, the memories of that time mixed and melded together with recent memories and it was hard for him to distinguish what was happening when. “This tree house is a place my brother and me made when I was six, it’s so far in the forest your family will never think to look here, you can be safe from them, but in return you’ll be in constant danger of this land, the place that causes fear in the hearts of Cutting Edge, a place considered to be Cursed beyond repair.” Tristan explained to a child bruised and battered from child abuse, “and don’t think for a second that you’ll get assistance from me more than maybe once or twice a year, that is not the Bolt family way.” “I understand Mr. Bolt, I’ll handle any torture, the Forest provides, I don’t need anyone but myself, now that you’ve set me fwee.” The child said in the most serious tone a young kid can manage. But just as this vision of the past clarified it faded and a new one quickly emerged.
“Why are we out here Vince?” Tristan asked his brother as they finally reached their destination. “Don’t be so stupid all the time shortstack, I’m teaching you how to make hide outs.” Vince Bolt said as he lassoed a rope onto a tall branch and quickly swung up several more up to form a makeshift pulley system. “This project will last about three hours, it doesn’t have to be professional, but it has to be well hidden.” Vince explained with a cruel laughter that filled the world with darkness and unease. Things switched again to him laying down surrounded by smoke the scent of flames off in the distance, he had no idea if this were a memory or the present, but he couldn’t actually move for some reason. He felt himself being dragged by something he couldn’t turn his head to see, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, what started off like the day before quickly became something unique and unforgettable. Eventually the smoke would fade the damage would be measured and everyone would know just how tragic that day was, but at the moment, Tristan thought he died. With his pseudo death he knew only this, life was great and he had only one regret; never apologizing to his father.
“Wake up, Tristan the time has come to run, the darkness has gathered stronger than ever before.” Blue exclaimed as he dragged Tristan into a hidden spring, a natural pool located deep within the dark woods a place immune to the natural darkness afflicting most of the land. “I don’t understand, I know he was vile, I don’t care what everyone says, how can you call him a hero, he was a thief, just like me, just like uncle Hal, just like my brother, we’re all thieves I don’t know why they would call him a hero.” Tristan muttered too himself nervously, talking of things, Blue couldn’t understand. Blue tossed his friend into the cleansing blue. As it splashed, it seemed to create a sapphire cascade, but the blue waters became murky as he sank, an emerald hue grew from centre to edge. Tristan felt himself falling deeper into the darkness, waiting for his essence to fade, after all he was dead. This didn’t happen, he found himself instead breathing in water, it burned his lungs, the pain surged electrical signal into his mind and his survival instincts kicked in overpowering even the darkness and he went towards the light, expecting to find himself in an afterlife, but knowing it wasn’t that. He gasped for air as he kept his head above the waters, swimming, he was swimming. “Where have I been?” Tristan asked as he made his way to the edge of the murky green waters. “Lost in the sea of darkness, it was thicker than I’d ever seen in the forest before, like someone was stupid enough to burn one of the grim trees.” Blue explained, while wondering who could be so stupid as to set ablaze such a thing. “I know, things have gotten out of hand, do you think we were attacked?” Tristan said rubbing his temples. “No one knows we’re out here, it couldn’t be on purpose, unless they attacked random spots in the forest hoping to smoke us out.” Blue reasoned. “Possibly, but something about this doesn’t seem right.” Tristan muttered, ignoring how soaking wet he happened to be.
They rushed back to inspect the damage done to their lair. It was unaffected though several nearby trees and bushes were signed to a crisp. The last of the dark smoke lazily drifted out the windows, clearing up the tree hut. The entire place seemed almost completely unaffected, as if instead of being attacked they simply burnt their breakfast. They returned to their morning already in progress by eating some fruit in order to break their fast and then changing clothes and generally preparing for another day or intense investigation. They spoke nothing of this incident and merely ignored it in order to move on. They left in silence and searched the scared land for signs of humanity. Quickly finding footsteps which they began to follow, they knew something was wrong, but ignored it.
“I don’t think Laura would help, she hates him now, everyone does, they think he did it and they think we’re crazy for standing by him.” Kaylie explained, while yawning. “I hate this town, I hate this town, I wish we could move to Burning Truth.” Lisa said sorrowfully. Kaylie hugged her sister tightly as if trying to keep her from falling apart completely. They soon marched into the forest hoping to see Tristan and Blue, the Fort was empty. All that was left for them was a dart and a small note saying simply ‘Go to the dirt road on the forest and find the yellow stone, head south from there until you reach the lake, that’s where he’s hiding but you’ll need to be careful he’s a dangerous man’ the note was far from cryptic the two knew instantly who it referred too. Kaylie took the dart and hid it up her sleeve. They followed the directions quickly and found their way to the hiding spot of Jimmy Axel, known more commonly as Ax Jim.
The two rushed into his lair and were promptly captured and tied. “y’all think ya gonna come in ‘ere and take me away, I doubts it.” Ax Jim said, his filth appeared to be an extension of his personality, and his odorous breath coated the girls. “I think you’re misunderstanding, we’re helping a friend, he needs to ask you a few questions, he’s not a cop at all, he’s a thief, much like you.” Lisa said sweetly attempting to elicit some sort of sympathy from the hardened criminal. “I’m not stupid!” He yelled. “I know y’all working with da cops, and I’ll learn ya not to mess with me in me own home.” He explained while getting a small dagger from a trunk on the back wall of his small cave. Kaylie walked over to Ax Jim her ropes untied while his back was turned to retrieve his weapon. “You anger me and my sister.” Kaylie said sternly. “You will die!” Lisa bellowed furiously. Ax Jim was terrified and fell backwards instantly, without a second for doubt Kaylie threw the dart at Jim it hit him in the chest injecting him with a paralyzing elixir of Blue’s creation. “Now you cannot move, we’re taking you somewhere neutral to talk with our friend, Mr. Bolt.” Kaylie said, smiling at the fear spreading across Jim’s face. The two dragged their captive enjoying his fear, enjoying his despair, enjoying things much more than they’d ever enjoyed anything before that. They took him to the yellow rock and waited for Tristan to come and question the fool they tied up and paralyzed.
The footsteps lead to an odd place deep within the forest a stone temple, lost in time, coated by vines, the ruins of a lost faith. “Here we are the drains.” Blue remarked duly. “You’ve found me again Tristan Bolt” a familiar voice spoke calmly yet darkly. “Gear, I’ll make you suffer for ruining my life.” Tristan barked. Gear looked down at him from his position sitting atop a stone tower, his many men beginning to appear from the many dark hallways that lead into the old ruins. “I know you think of me as an enemy, but if you give us the chance, we’ll show you what great friends we can all become, after all you’re the perfect test subject for my experiment.” Gear said his facial expressions still hidden by his mask though his associates didn’t appear too friendly. “Unless you’d rather we remain, hostile.” He said noticing the hesitation in his prey. “Maybe we should leave.” Blue said fearfully, even with his incredible strength they were out matched as the number of enemies kept increasing steadily, numbering around fifty at that moment. “You’re going to join us in the end.” Thirteen said standing somewhere behind them. “You guys aren’t going to convince me, I’ll squash your whole organization will all be rotting in CECF, I promise none of you will see the sunlight again.” Tristan said storming right past all of them, fear forcing all of them to recoil as he began to ascend the pillar to reach the masked lunatic in charge of ruining his life. Gear hoped effortlessly to another stone pillar just as Tristan was about to reach for his feet.
“You’re so angry today, what’s wrong?” Gear said cruelly. “You’ve wrecked my life and for what, so I could join you little club?” Tristan yelled. “What’s wrong with your life, please allow me and my men to help you, you don’t even have to join us, just say the word and we’ll make it all go away.” Gear said his voice switching from cruel to smug. This outright denial and false hope made him so infuriated he instantly jumped to the other pillar punching the mask cracking it slightly as Gear fell down to the ground and was captured by the fat man. “YOU WILL DIE!! No one opposes a Bolt and gets away with it, you will suffer horribly, I’ll burn your fields and cause your flocks to flee, your friends will all betray you and you will rue the day you ever saw me.” Tristan said before spitting on gear from his pillar, Tristan then proceeded to jump down landing inches away from Gear. “You have one day to turn yourself in, one day.” With that Tristan and Blue left, the order of steal unwilling to move until the two were well beyond hearing.

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