Theis dashed out the door but Evy was already gone.
“She’s in the park,” Keri Marks reported from the van where she was tracking the girl through civil monitoring. “Through the entrance and immediately veer right – she’s heading away from the Academy.”
Theis put on a burst of speed, tearing into the park in hopes he could catch up to the girl before it was too late. “Keep an eye on her – if we lose her we’ll never find her again.” There was a touch of real fear in his voice.
“We’ll find her, Theis.” Rett tried to reassure him. “It just may take longer than we’d hoped.”
“Maybe,” Theis conceded. “But she’ll never trust me again.”
“I think I found where she’s headed.” Keri interjected. “There’s a large hill of rocks on the north side of the pond. It helps hide a ventilation tunnel for the city underground. She gets in there and she has an unmonitored path back into the Academy.”
“How do I get there first?”
“Skirt the pond,” Keri instructed. “She’s keeping in the trees but that gives her a longer route. You should be able to cut her off.”
Theis adjusted his path, running along the edge of the pond until he saw the outcropping Keri told him about. He ran to it and located to ventilation shaft just as Evy arrived. “Evy, please, listen to me,” he pleaded.
“Move, Theis!” Evy’s voice trembled with emotion, her tears flowed unchecked.
Theis planted his feet and stood to face her, arms folded over his chest. “I’m not moving until you promise you’ll listen to what I have to say.”
“I thought we were friends! You betrayed me!” Her voice was soft, broken. “Fine, if you won’t move, I’ll make sure you can’t follow.” With a flick of her wrist, the ground around Theis’ feet shifted and rose up, burying him up to his knees.
“Little Girl, let me go.” Theis voice was serious but also held a note of admiration. “I just want to explain.” She turned to leave. “Oh no you don’t!” Theis reached towards the pond.
A huge bubble of water rose up, flew over Evy’s head and dropped onto her, knocking her down. She quickly scrambled to her feet, totally drenched, and looked at Theis in amazement for a moment. But her gaze hardened and she tried to once more run away. That was when she discovered Theis had cause the water to rise up once more and freeze to ice – encasing her from the waist down. She folded her arms petulantly across her chest. “It’s a warm day. Only a matter of time before it melts.”
“As it is only a matter of time before I dig myself out, Little Girl.”
Rett didn’t bother trying to hide his amusement at their predicament as he stepped from the trees. “It is nice to meet you, Miss Harris. My name is Everett Sparks. Let me assure you now that I am not here to arrest you, turn you over to Academy authorities, or make you go home against your wishes.” He turned his focus to the ice encasing her and it instantly melted and flowed back into the pond. He offered his arm. “Shall we take a walk?”
“Um… sir?” Theis called after them as they strolled into the woods.
He could wiggle one of his legs slightly and the other was nearly free when suddenly the ground around him pushed aside. He looked up just in time to see Evy leaping at him to give him a big hug. He instinctively caught her and laughed as he hugged her back. “I take it this means I’m forgiven?”
“Paladin Sparks played the mission record when you were discussing how to approach me.” She replied when he sat her back on the ground.
“So you heard…”
“So I heard how worried you were that I would think you didn’t really care about me – that I was just a mission. I heard you tell him that you think of me as a friend.” She smiled a bit shyly.
“That I do, Little Girl.” Theis smiled warmly. “I can’t promise to be in Thelios City often, but would be happy to visit with you when I am here – if that it all right with you?”
Evy laughed. “Oh, you’ll have plenty of chance to see me!”
Rett had remained quiet while Theis and Evelyn mended fences, but now he joined the conversation with a smile. “Miss Harris will be returning with us to Laconia. She’s joining Dawn’s Light.”
Evelyn literally bounced with excitement and clapped her hands as Rett conveyed the news. Then her eyes got big as if remembering something, and sparkled with mischief. “We don’t have to leave right away, do we? We can still make the ballista, right?”