They followed Hailmon and Karen through the house along with Kharim, Felder and the three other elders. Their footfalls are swallowed by the unnatural silence of the mansion. Kaleigha strained to hear any sign of life beyond their group and came up empty.
The doors to the Crucible were unguarded, but the entry was fortified by thick barred doors. Kharim rushed forward to help Hailmon lift the bar.
“Thank you, son,” the elder sighed, flustered by the exertion.
“I hope you’re happy,” Karen snapped and flung the doors open.
Egoly pulled Kaleigha close as they step into the room.
The crucible was no longer a dim, cozy bedroom with a peaceful sleeper at its center.
Ilma sat on a throne of dark, glittering rock beneath the glare of hundreds of LED lamps.
“Release me you bitch!” Ilma screeched when Kaleigha came into view.
“Careful,” Egoly pulled her back a few steps, his entire body trembling with fear. She gave him a worried look.
“She cannot harm you,” Hailmon said. “Even we cannot unseal her bonds.”
Kaleigha squinted at the woman to see that she was bound at the neck, wrists, and ankles to her crude throne.
“NO!” Kaleigha roared, involuntarily, when Ilma demanded to be released again.
Ilma’s screams filled Kaleigha’s mind with a strange sensation. Those around her touched their heads as if they could feel the weird thing in their heads, too.