Purgatory

When Raina falls to a death clouded with mystery and horror, one which not even The Elders can figure out, she is placed into Purgatory. As the mystery unveils, as well as the secrets of the place between Heaven and Hell, she learns that at every corner a sea of possibilities awaits. But will she be able to realise the correct ones, or will she stay in Purgatory for eternity?

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14. 14-Raina

I looked at Guardian, to see whether he was generally planning on staying firm on the floor until The Elders fetched us. They clearly were unaware we were gone from the garden, and it'd probably be that way for quite some time, considering the fact they had things to discuss. Actually, correction. They had things to discuss about myself and my death. That fact made me sound so important, yet I felt none of that glory whatsoever. I still felt like normal, naive Raina. Though perhaps the naivety had gone away, now that I suddenly felt so knowledgeable about life, now having seen  it from a whole different perspective now that I was immortal. At least, I thought I was immortal. "Guardian..." I asked, my voice trailing off into a questioning tone. 
"What is it?" he sighed, rubbing his fingertips on his veiled temple. It was evident he was thinking hard and long for a solution to our problem. 
I bit my lip. "Am I immortal?"
Guardian took a deep breath in. "No."
"So I'm still alive? My blood still runs through my veins? I still breathe through my lungs?"
"Yes."
"But I'm dead!"
He rubbed his chin, still in thought. "Well, on Earth, you're classified as dead. But until you are officially let in to either Heaven and Hell, you are technically still alive."
That explained why I could feel pain. That explained why I still nearly drowned, even though I could breathe underwater. That explained...Wait. Hold on. That didn't explain why I could breathe, though. Because...
"You still breathe, though. You sigh, and stuff. You're immortal. So how does that work?"
His jaw tightly clenched. "I don't know, Raina. I'm not a scientist, nor do I wish to be. Now stop asking stupid questions whilst I try and think of a way to get us out of this mess, seeing as you can't."
I seethed at his anger. He was right in that I was asking questions. But he didn't know I couldn't solve our problem. Heck, I hadn't even tried. "Give me a chance to try," I cried, standing up abruptly. 
"Alright then." Guardian also got up from the ground. "If you can do that, I'll guarantee you freedom from Purgatory."
"I thought you were doing that anyway," I frowned.
Guardian smiled mischievously, which was pretty rare from him, it seemed. "It wasn't guaranteed the first time."
I grinned back, and held out my hand to him. "So it's agreed?"
He nodded, and shook it. His touch burned my skin. Tears sprang to my eyes from the scalding pain. I pulled away quickly. "What on Earth?" I yelped, inspecting my palm for damage. It was red and scarred already, despite my hand only briefly touching Guardian’s. "What have you got on that glove, acid?" Blood was seeping from the wound already. 
"Let me have a look." Guardian grimaced as he saw the damage. He then reached for one of the satchels on his belt, near his hip. Once opening it, he pulled out a pale glove identical to his, and slid it onto my hand. "That'll do it good, at least until we can get back." Sure enough, the pain was soothed, and no blood soaked through the soft, white fabric. 
"Thanks." I beamed at him for a moment, then averted my gaze from his veil, which concealed the eyes I could feel scanning my face. I chose to look at his hand, wondering what could have caused such damage to my skin in such a short span of time. There was brown powder on it. I nodded towards his hand. "What's that powder?"
Guardian glanced at his hand. He did a double take. "I don't know," he gasped, his mouth dropping open slightly. 
"Looks like the orange powder and the purple powder have mixed together. Perhaps that's why it was so toxic?" I said, feeling as though I was stating the obvious slightly. 
But Guardian grinned at me. "Yes! That'd also explain why the spell didn't work!" He laughed from relief. We weren't stranded. We had hope. He immediately reached for the purple powder bottle. But he paused for a moment and looked up at me. "Is it alright if you do the spell, seeing as my gloves are contaminated?"
My eyes widened. "Me? But Guardian, I'm not a sorcerer."
"You don't need to be, Raina. The powder does all of the magic." He must have seen I was still taken aback. "Don't worry, you'll be fine." Guardian popped the cork from out of the bottle, and tucked it in the rim of his belt. I spread out my palm for him to dust the powder onto. He moved as if he was going to, then he got the matching glove to the one I was wearing, and put it on my other hand. Guardian then proceeded to sift the purple powder onto my hand. I pinched a few granules with my now gloved fingertips. They tingled gently. It felt as though the magic was going through me. "Do I need to say anything?" I asked. 
Guardian shook his head, and placed his hand on my shoulder, so he would also be transported in the spell. "Just click your fingers."  I obliged. The light that had come from the combustion of the powder was even more blinding than usual now I was the one doing the magic. I couldn't see anything. Not even Guardian.
 "I'm still here, Raina," he hollered. He tenderly squeezed my shoulder to show this. "It's very bright, I know. Just hold on to me." 
I fumbled for his hand, and when I found it, I squeezed it gently. "Thanks. So we are heading for The Elders' Chamber, right?"
"Yes. I do wonder what kept them from noticing we had been missing, though. I'm sure they would have searched for us fairly soon. It was a bit odd they didn't keep you in the room for questioning, to be honest."
"Yes," I agreed, bobbing my head. The rays of light started to fade. I recognised we were back in the chamber. I couldn't hear any voices debating, though. I could only hear the occasional mournful sob. Eventually the light was completely gone, and four Elders were sitting at the table, all with their heads bowed. I could immediately sense something bad had happened. But what was wrong?

Guardian must have been reading my mind. Somehow. "What is wrong? What happened?" The Elders answered him with silence. I looked at all of The Elders one by one. Apart from their garments, and the small unique detailing on their masks, I could barely tell them apart. Their postures were identical. Each and every one of them. Alexander, Harold, Edward, Brian and…"Is it Chance?" I asked. I noticed his absence. 
One of the Elders raised their head ever so slightly, and nodded. "He's missing." The voice indicated to me it was Harold. There was no cheerful tone in his speech, like usual. It was flat, and monotone. 
Guardian shifted his weight awkwardly. "Oh. I'm sorry to hear that," he said. Though there was no sorrow in his voice whatsoever. I turned to him in surprise. He didn't seem to be affected at all by the sudden, tragic news. There was no change in HIS tone of voice. I would have called him up on it, but the atmosphere in the room made it clear a debate was not welcome. Neither of us really knew what to do with ourselves after that brief conversation. We stood there, both expectantly and awkwardly, for a fair few minutes, waiting for The Elders to do something. Say something. Anything. Eventually, Guardian coughed. "Would it be best if we left?"
The Elder with the most exquisite mask nodded. He was obviously Alexander. Guardian and I shuffled towards the door. However, just before Guardian opened it, Alexander stood up slowly. "Guardian? I need to ask of you a favour." His words sounded fragile and weak.
"Anything." He folded his arms, raised his head, and straightened his posture. It took all my strength not to sigh at him. 
"We cannot continue with Raina's case," Alexander started wearily. I blinked. That was it? There was nothing for me? Guardian clearly did not have these questions reeling in his mind. He kept quiet, waiting for Alexander to continue. "Finding Chance  is going to be a most serious and long business. So Guardian, I'm formally handing over Raina's case for your continuation." 
My eyes widened. I looked at Guardian. He had stiffened, and wasn't moving even just a bit. I gently placed my hand on his arm. "Guardian?"
"I can't do it!" he blurted out, his sudden movement taking me aback ever so slightly. "I'm not good enough, I'm not experienced enough, at least for such an important case as this!"
Alexander shook his head. "You've been here for centuries, Guardian. You've observed us many a time. I'm confident you are proficient enough to be able to work on this case. Aren't you?"
Guardian slumped ever so slightly, and nodded. "Yes, sir."
"It's settled then. The necessary papers will be waiting in your room, as will the keys to the Earth Files storage rooms." With that comment said, and that agreement sealed, Guardian and I exited the chamber.  
Immediately, Guardian cupped his face in his hands, and sighed a shaky breath. "I can't do it," he repeated, more solemnly than the last time he said it. "How am I going to do this?"
I didn't know what to say, or do. I stood up on my tiptoes, and embraced him tightly. "Guardian, don't worry. You're wise. You're a walking knowledge machine. You can do this, I promise you." I stared hard and long at his veil, trying to form some sort of connection with him. "I promise you."
He gently squeezed me back. "Thank you, Raina." Guardian took a step back, and took my hand. "We better get to business."
I smiled at him. "We?"
"What do you mean 'We'?" He gasped mockingly. "I don't think I can do this on my own. Will you help me?"
Cliche as the line was, I nodded. "Okay."
"Umm...Ruardian?"
I smiled again. "Sure."
Guardian nodded, and walked over to the door that was opposite The Elders' Chamber. He gestured for me to go in. Immediately, I was stunned at the room’s interior. The furniture was made out of marble. The walls were veiled by a curtain woven with a gossamer thread which shimmered when the light caught it. The floor was a brilliant pale blue. It was tiled, the patterns on the individual tiles so precisely painted.  Everything was so beautifully built, so carefully crafted. It was all so, so magnificent.
"Living the high life, huh?" I chortled, still gazing awe struck around the room. 
Guardian scratched the back of his neck. "You think this is fancy? You should check out Alexander's room." He walked over to his very plush bed, and sat down. 
I followed him, and perched myself on it cross-legged. "So, what do we do now?" I asked, fighting the temptation to sprawl myself on the luxurious material.
"Now we wait," he announced dramatically. Guardian grimaced. "We wait for the huge investigation to arrive." 
I rocked back and forth. "Relax, Guardian, you'll be fine!" I kept a chirpy tone in my voice, but inside I was terrified. Terrified for him, and terrified of what he may discover about me, whether it was to with my death or not.

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