Syche: The Dark Element

Chapter 2: Interrogation

Chapter 2 The Interrogation
I suppose it is fitting that we start with a parallel. Joshua and Kael were looking for someone and so was I, and we both found the wrong person. They almost killed theirs. I finished the job.


Joshua and Kael Rasgard heaved the downgraded Person in Black from the back of the pickup truck and shifted him between them. With an awkward shuffle and tremendous weight. between their arms, the two boys awkwardly shuffled him towards the house. They passed the broken tractor-crane with its long arm and circular drill at the end. The only reason they were able to find work here was because that machine was broken. As they made it to the steps leading up the porch, they could once again hear the little girl's screaming.

“Do you think she started again when she saw us bringing in this guy, or was she doing that the entire time?” Joshua asked.

Kael shrugged as much as he could with the dead weight in his hands. “For the farmer's sake, the latter.”

As they made it up to the porch, the door burst open and the old farmer stormed out to meet them. His mouth opened but words failed to compose as he looked down on the man in black.

“Found the guy you've been talking about,” Joshua said.

“Not as impressive up close, huh?” Kael said with a prick of judgment in his voice, a straight cold glare that might as well have said “idiot”.

“What? What happened to him?” The farmer finally got out.

“I hit him with your old truck,” Joshua said.

“Why were you driving my truck?” the farmer said in a stupor, moving aside as the boys brought their quarry in and propped him up in a chair.

“To. Hit. Him.” Joshua rolled his eyes. “I swear you aren't paying attention.”

The farmer fumbled in his pocket before bringing out his cellphone. “I'm calling the police and an ambulance.”

In a clean motion, Kael snagged the device out of his hand before the poor guy could press a button. “Not until we figure out what's going on here.”

The screaming suddenly ceased as the girl poked her head around the corner. Kael gave her a wink and beckoned her over. He bent down and whispered, “can you get me some snow? The coldest you can find.” She nodded and dashed outside.

“So?” Kael demanded. “Is this the guy you've been seeing around?” He wagged the poor farmer's cellphone at the unconscious man in the chair.

The farmer shrugged helplessly. “I don't know. He doesn't look like much.”

As the little footsteps clambered up the steps, Kael held his out and received a clump of dirty brown snow. He walked over to the man and ripped the ski mask off revealing a disheveled and bloody kid. He took the snow and wiped some on his face and let the rest slide down the kid's neck. With a slow start, he sluggishly jerked to life and gazed around the room glassy-eyed. His next instinct was to stand, but he wasn't halfway up before Joshua had a firm grasp on his shoulder and shoved him back into the seat.

“Talk,” Kael growled. The boy threw up his shaking hands as if he was going to be hit. “Start with who you are.”

“My name? My name is. . . It's Peter.” The boy's voice shook as he spoke. “The police will find out about this. My dad will see to it.”

“Why were you traipsing around on a horse dressed like that?” Joshua pulled up a chair and stared him down. “You could see why we want to know what's going on?”

Peter thought for a moment slack-jawed and then jolted at those words. “Is the horse okay?”

“The horse is dead. Focus.”

“My dad is a lawyer, he'll sue you for that.”

Kael chuckled and Joshua sighed. “Only rich kids have horses, that's hardly surprising,” Joshua said. “But what I need you to tell me right now, is why you were going around dressed like that and scaring the farmer.”

“Why do you care?” Peter screamed at them, winced back in pain, feeling the broken rib bones screaming against his lungs. “It's the family horse, I'm allowed to ride it.”

Joshua gave a look to his brother who nodded back in turn. Sighing, Joshua dug his hand into his pockets and brought out a single ratty sheet of yellowed paper folded over clumsily and bearing all the lines and creases of countless times being crumpled. Joshua unfolded the paper and handed it to Peter. “You see that name at the bottom? We're looking for that man. And last we heard, he was being chased, through this town, by people dressed in black robes. So when the farmer says he's been seeing people who fit that description, we need to find out what's going on.”

Peter squinted and looked down at the paper combing over crossed off name and crossed off name until arriving at the very bottom. “I don't know any Timothy Bartholomew.”

As these words sat in the air, the farmer gasped and the little girl squeaked. Joshua and Kael looked wildly between them. “You know him?!?” They asked in unison.

“Look here--” the farmer started.

“He's my dad!” the girl squeaked.

The farmer glared at her, angry and with a hint of fear in the corner of his eyes.

Kael backed away and crossed his arms to think. Joshua glanced again between the two putting things together. “So her dad, Bartholomew, was being chased. Worried about his daughter, he dropped her off with you to keep her safe. Family friend, I presume? The “why” doesn't matter at this time. In any case, you became worried when you saw this twit,” Joshua jerked his thumb back to Peter, “dressed up like that.” Joshua took a deep breath and looked the old farmer squarely in the eyes. “Well?”

“That sounds right, I suppose,” he said rubbing his chin.

“And did Bartholomew say where he was going.” Kael rounded on the man.

“No. He was frazzled and afraid. I assume the worst at this point. And how about you two boys. Who were the men after my friend?”

“No idea,” Joshua said. “We've been tracking him down cross-country and only hearing rumors of these people in black. It's not our business frankly.”

“Then why are you after him?” The farmer moved, closing Peter completely off from the conversation now.

“We're on a treasure hunt,” Kael said, flat, matter of fact. “Bartholomew once worked for the Taerose Empire.” Kael lingered, gauging the farmer's reaction, seeing if this was new information. “I don't know if you've heard, but their King, Emperor, or whatever he's calling himself nowadays has a fascination with the old and bizarre.”

Joshua held up his yellow and cracked paper. “Everyone who worked for the King is on this list, and they are all dead except your friend. Considering that trend, we are desperately trying to find him before he ends up dead as well.”

The farmer stared, placid and dumbfounded. “Not to save his life. You want to find him. . . for treasure.”

“Well if we find what we're looking for, then it won't really matter that he--” Joshua gasped in pain midway through his sentence as Kael elbowed him in the gut.

“Safe to say, more than one person's life is at stake here,” Kael said.

“Can I please go?” Peter spoke up faintly from behind. “I don't want my life to be at stake here. I don't. I really don't. I was only playing a prank on the farmer. I only dressed like that because he's been telling crazy stories. I figured it'd drive him mad.”

Everyone turned to Peter slowly, a slow understanding creeping over the group.

“So you're saying, you aren't the man I saw originally?” the farmer asked.


As the group stood around in stunned silence contemplating the meaning of it all, a car's headlights flashed around the bend and flickered through the windows. Kael stared at the front door expectantly and then back to the farmer. “Were you expecting anyone?”

“I wasn't.”

Joshua bounced on his heels and looked around the room. “Okay take the girl and hide in the back. Peter, you go with them.” As his words faded, the click of a car door opening and closing echoed in from outside.

The old farmer was already ushering Peter further back into the house with one hand with the little girl's hand daintily held in his other. “I'll be back with my shotgun.”

“No,” Joshua yelled, “we've got this.” Joshua ran back further into the house, leaving Kael alone, contemplating the door.

Kael closed his eyes and erased all sensations of reality. There was no hearing, there was no touch, no taste, smelling, or sight. There was just the flow. The energy that penetrated his mind, gave him feeling where others had nothing. He ignored what lay behind and stretched out to feel what lay beyond the house. To the stranger outside.

Kael's eyes opened in shock. All life had a feeling to it, but not all life felt like that. What visited them now was no normal human but a Syche-- a Syche like Kael.

Kael's hand twitched, partly in anticipation, partly in nervousness. Had the person outside done the same? Did they know what Kael was?

It didn't matter.

“Distance, material, amount,” Kael mumbled to himself. Distance, material, amount. The three properties that affected his powers. There were four types of Syches, but they all abided by those rules.

Footsteps up the wooden steps now.

Kael looked around. Wood, nothing but wood in the entire house.

The doorknob twisted and Kael threw himself on the floor his palm slamming onto the floorboards. As the door cracked open and the first sight of outside seeped into the room, Kael forced the energy from his mind and through the planks, into the door frame, a stream of orange energy sparking to life along the path.

The door fully open now. Kael saw eye to eye with a man in head to toe black robes, the real Man in Black, the door frame exploded sending him torpedoing into the front yard.
Wood, as it happened for Kael, was a great material. An easy conductor and decent explosive agent for a Combustion Syche.

Kael stepped through the smoke and out into the twilight. Feeling the man's energy still. He was still alive! And Kael had a fight on his hands. He'd give him a chance, let him show what he could do. Hopefully, he wasn't a Lightening Syche, that could get messy. A Metal Syche would be disappointing with so little metal around.

In a fit of surprise, Kael stopped in his tracks, stunned. The Man in Black rose from the ground, not a cinder glowing, not a thread out of place. A red-ish haze hung around him momentarily but disappeared, settling into his robes.

Blood. So that's what you are, Kael thought. Easy enough. He stepped forward, taking a deep breath and opening his palms. This fight will be--

Kael's mind went blank as did the look on his enemy's face. Two beams of light flashed on the Man in Black's face. Before either had a chance to turn their heads, the Man in Black crashed across the hood of the farmer's old pickup and land in a twist of limbs behind.

The truck skidded to a stop, leaving tire marks imprinted into the steaming mud. Joshua got out beaming and held his hand up. “Two and O' baby,” he gleamed as Kael shook his head looking longingly at the unconscious Man in Black.

It just wasn't fair.

The true Man in Black started to life as a muddy snow mixture ran down his chest. With his mask and hood off, this was no child like before. No. This was a man. He blinked again and again trying to get his surroundings and then tried to move, feeling the ropes holding him snugly to the chair.

Spread around the room was everyone: Joshua, Kael, the farmer, the girl, and even Peter, Joshua's former victim. They all stared at him questioningly. The Man in Black's eyes gazed doubly at the farmer, his old shotgun pointing its double barrels squarely at his chest. The general atmosphere of curiosity was so great that Joshua and Kael hadn't even been required to talk the farmer or Peter out of calling the police.

“Now that you're awake,” Joshua started, “I know what you are inclined to do, but that's how you die in this situation.” Joshua leaned in close so that the others couldn't hear. “No powers,” he said with a wink. In the background, Kael gave the man a curt nod, and a spark of energy flittered between two fingers before disappearing.

“So what do you want,” the man said smoothly, calmly, not the merest hint that he wasn't in control.

“Answers. Obviously.”

“I'm not going to tell you anything. I'm just going to wait.”

“Aha!” Joshua just about jumped into the air. “But see you have already told us something. If waiting will solve your dilemma, that means others will come for you.” The man in the chair grimaced. “And circumstances lead me to another conclusion. You are here for the girl.” Joshua nodded to Bartholomew's daughter who was now hiding behind Kael's legs.

The man grinned and nodded. “So you already know quite a bit. Is there any need to carry this prattle on then?”

“We still have a question that needs answering,” Kael said.

“I have two questions actually,” Joshua added. “Let's start with the one Kael probably won't ask: who are you with? No one just goes around dressed like. . . that.”

The captive slowly rolled his head and stared Joshua down. “If I told you, it wouldn't really be a secret then.”

“Counterpoint. If you tell us, then maybe we can talk the farmer out of using his gun.”

“If you want to threaten me, have that guy do it.” The Man in Black nodded his head towards Kael. He leaned in closer to Joshua and continued in a whisper. “That one is a Syche. What are you? You've got nothing to threaten me with.” The man sat back lazily in his chair and grinned. “The old man isn't pulling the trigger.”

Joshua scratched his chin, perplexed.

“Go ahead and pull the trigger old man,” Kael said. The farmer glanced at Joshua worryingly. “Put the barrel next to one ear and pull the trigger. We can write our questions down. Shouldn't be a problem.”

Joshua chuckled nervously. “It's a bit much but I suppose we can try it.”

A low growl rumbled in the captive's throat but then subsided. “The Dark Element.”

“What's that?”

“You asked who I was with and I told you.” He looked to Kael. “What was your question?”

“Where is Doctor Bartholomew?”

The captive licked his lips and shook his head. For all his affectation so far, this was the question to perturb him. “Never heard that name in my life.”

“You're here for his daughter,” Joshua reminded the captive, “don't play dumb. We know your men chased him through this town. Whatever the Dark Element is, they are chasing him or have him.”

“What do you want from me? I tell you, I die. I don't tell you, I might die. I'll take my chances with you guys.”

“How about this,” Kael said. “Everyone leaves the room. You tell only us. And then we pretend that you never said a word. We already have your group's name. We're going to be asking around anyway. How much does it matter to you where we ask around?”

The captive licked his lips and bobbed his head thinking on the offer. “That's a very good point, but I don't know where he is. He got on a boat and headed north and a different team took over finding him.”

Joshua spun to Kael. “What's north of here by water? I thought we were already on the north side of the continent.”

“J., read a map sometime. There's, like, an island.”

“Tyré.” The boys looked to the farmer. “The island just north of here is Tyré. It's not far honestly. Although I wouldn't want to go any further north with winter not even reaching its peak yet.

“Okay.” Joshua clapped his hands together with pep. “We can head south and grab a plane or even--”

Bang! The shotgun recoiled and acrid smoke filled the air. Joshua whipped around to see the prisoner slumped over with a spread pattern in his chest. Across the floor, a strange pattern of blood slunk its way to Joshua. Kael looked over to the old farmer with a question in his eye.

The farmer stumbled for words as Peter sprinted out of the front door and into the night. “Something, something, something, weird was happening,” the farmer fumbled. “There was a thing heading for you, just slinking in the air there.”

Joshua looked down once again to the strange splash pattern of blood on the floor. It all made sense now. This kidnapper, assassin, or whatever he was, was a Blood Syche. Even tied up, as long as he had his body with him he was never unarmed.

“Thanks,” Joshua said. “Probably saved my life.” He looked to Kael who had picked up the girl and was bringing her out of the room, he head tucked tightly against his chest.

“What was that?” the farmer asked frantically, placing the shotgun down gently against the wall, not sure he had done a sensible thing.

“Eh. Best not to worry about it,” Joshua said. “Trying to explain something that society doesn't think exists just makes you look like a kook.” Joshua moved timidly over to the dead man avoiding the blood on the ground or otherwise trickling off the body. He reached into one pocket after the next in the folds of the man's robes with a grimace until he came out with the car keys. “We'll be leaving now. On the bright side, you don't have to pay us for the week. That should cover the damages. Sorry about the mess.”

“We're taking the girl and heading for Tyrė,” Joshua said.

“You can't take the girl. Her father left her with me. She's my responsibility.”

“You're free to come with us, but she can't stay here. This Dark Element he was with will come, and when they do you shouldn't be here.”

“I was born in this house.”

“That's unsanitary.”

“The point is,” the old farmer said with growing frustration in his voice, “that I ain't leaving. If someone does come back for me or the girl, I've got my shotgun, and I'll let the local police know to look for people dressed,” he paused and pointed at the dead man, “like that.”

“And I'm sure you'll also explain why you shot a man firmly tied up in your dining room. We're out of here,” Joshua said.

“Listen here boy,” the old man stumbled for his gun, but Kael was behind him and had him in a headlock before he had taken another step. In a few gurgling seconds, the old man dropped to the floor unconscious.

“Bit much K. I hadn't finished explaining how important it is he leave. Guess I can write a note. Something to save his life.”

“Emily is packing a bag,” Kael said. “We'll call the police on the way out and at least the farmer can have an alibi if he's unconscious.”

“Emily the girl?”

“Yes. Obviously.”

“Well. Go grab her.”

“Start the truck,” Kael said. “I'll bring her around back so she doesn't have to see--” he paused to wave his hand over the bloody mess of a crime scene, “this.”