As Sam threw his rain gear on, a bleary-eyed Fiona and a yawning Francis emerged from their rooms, responding to a summons by the Finder. The smaller boy reached out through the connection towards the general area where he expected Elliot would be. He found the vaguely familiar mind, but it was dim, dimmer than Sarah‘s had been immediately after her encounter with the wall, and it was completely non-responsive to Sam‘s gentle prodding.
―We need to hurry, he suggested, pushing with some urgency at Sarah. ―I think something may have happened to him. I don‘t even know if he‘s conscious.
―What are you doing? Fiona demanded unhappily. ―It‘s the middle of the night, Sam. There‘s a terrible storm out there. You can‘t go out there like this.
―We have to go, Fiona. We have to go get Elliot, before it‘s too late. Sam thought this openly to all three in the room, not making any attempt to block Francis out. The older girl‘s eyes widened at the mention of the technician, but then she realized what Sam had just done. Her expression fell, horrified at the fact that Sam had just exposed them to the Teller.
―Elliot? Who is Elliot? the blond boy asked, with the question as open as Sam‘s statement had been.
―Sam! How could you? I thought we had agreed... Fiona began, her thoughts a whirlwind of emotion.
―So this is something that you are aware of, too, Francis interrupted. ―Well then, I want the most concise answer that I can get, and that is, after all, what Keepers are for. Tell me everything that you know about this Elliot, Fiona.
Clearly disgusted with what she was being forced into, the older girl did just that. The words spilled out of her like Francis had just released the magical restraints holding back the waters in a reservoir. She spared no detail as she described from the first message that had come into Sam‘s possession to the last one that the Little had found on the day that Royce had been exiled from the house. Francis had thrown up his walls the moment Fiona‘s revelations had begun, allowing only her to see his reaction to her response in the face of his command. When she was done, she turned away from him trembling with anger, ashamed at what she had done and viewing the Teller as more despicable than ever.
At first, Sam watched all of this with curiosity, and Sarah stood behind him, wishing she had a better idea of what was going on. Then, wary of the delay, he hunted through the connection for Elliot again. When he did find him, he could see why Sarah had lost contact with him. His presence there was now so dim even Sam could barely sense him. Sam took the opportunity to redirect Sarah to Elliot, suggesting that she hold fast to him until he had been retrieved. A push from Fiona drew the Finder back to the house again.
―Why, Sam? Why? Fiona murmured tearfully, her cheeks flushed from her shame.
―I told you, Fiona. We have to go out there and get him. You and I can‘t do that alone. We need Francis‘s help. I‘d rather we go through this here and now, than find ourselves arguing about this while standing out there in the storm. He was going to find out eventually, once we actually get to Elliot, he thought in his own defence. ―Now that that‘s out of the way, we had better go, before it‘s too late for him. His presence in the connection is very dim. I think that he is hurt worse than Sarah was when Royce attacked her.
―Close to what Sam was like when Nathan pulled him out of the water. Sam‘s right, Sarah agreed.
―But what about Nathan? Fiona disputed, with her thoughts poignant and shrill. ―Better Nathan than Francis!
The Teller cocked an eyebrow at her with this comment. He dropped his walls again.
―I would hazard to say that you are wrong there. It would be a bad idea to bring him along, unless you really want to get this Elliot of yours into trouble.
―See, I told you, Sam mumbled, the thought directed at the Keeper. ―He is their eyes.
The smaller boy‘s comment drew a startled reaction from Francis. Before he could say anything, however, Sarah began physically pushing the Teller in the direction of the door.
―Enough talking and more doing, she insisted. ―He needs you. I can feel him fading. No more delays.
Throwing on their own rain gear, Francis and Fiona followed Sam out into the storm. It was just like his dream. Once away from the house, the pathway was barely visible with the exception of when the lightning flashed overhead. The notion that Royce and the other Controls might be out there was enough to bring goose-bumps to the smaller boy‘s sodden flesh, remembering the monstrous face that Royce had been wearing in his nightmare. Sam refocused his efforts on finding Elliot as a means of escaping these frightening ideas.
The beach proper was not as agreeable as it had been in Sam‘s dream, however. The clouds did not part to allow any moonlight through, and the lightning flares were even more sporadic. Sam sloshed forward into the wet sand using the connection to search for Elliot more than anything that he was using in the physical world. Fiona and Francis followed closely behind him, and fortunately were using more caution than he was or they would have fallen with him when he actually tripped over Elliot‘s prone body. Sam tumbled into the sand next to him and momentarily lost his bearings. When he sat up, the sky lit up briefly, and Sam, Francis, and Fiona all grabbed for Elliot‘s sprawled form.
―How are we going to manage this, Fiona moaned internally. ―We need Nathan for this.
―We‘ll manage, Francis assured her calmly. ―Fiona, you take his feet and I‘ll grab him at the shoulders. Sam can help bear some of his weight and brace him at the middle. Pay close attention. I‘ll direct you both to the best of my ability.
The girl obeyed, as she had to. They felt around in the dark in order to get into position, and following the Teller‘s instruction, they all hoisted Elliot from the ground. Then they began the treacherous trek back to the house.