Author's Notes: Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you and your family will enjoy a peaceful celebration :)

Woah! I just watched Tapestry and, OhmyGOD! Parcifal, black widow, Roxton talking to himself, Marguerite cooking (burning) something… what WAS she cooking? But Geez! I LOVED the episode! (Sorry, I just had to share that one…)

Plus! I really, really appreciated all the sweet reviews for my 'The Hardest Word'. I admit that I got the idea from watching the M/R argument in Tapestry. There's just something about their expressions that struck me so much. Anyways, thank you again! You don't know how much that meant to me…:)

- veggie_5, first, I'm evil, now I'm SWEET?! I think I prefer my evil self, thank you very much *grin* Anyways, yes, you're welcome. I meant every word, so go back and do your fic, okay? *sweet grin* (I'm telling you, this sweet thing is just SO not me! LOL!)

- Fab! Thank you so much! And as for Mara, she'll be a very important character, I'll assure you that. But enough of spoilers! Bad, bad spoilers!

- Beckers! Yay, you're back in reviewing my fic! Anyways, yup, me, a very baddy cliffhagerish girl… hehehe… :) I guess it just takes one to know one, LOL! (But I have one itty bitty question… what does WEG mean? Well, two questions, actually… are you writing any of the fics on the drawing board in your site? Because I would surely love to read the one where Roxton's a gladiator *wide grin* I'm eagerly awaiting that one!)

- TLWROX! Again, I'll admit I have never seen Unnatural Selection (I only started watching when I saw 'Ice Age') so… I don't know what the ep was about (read the review again, then realized that you've already told me what the ep was about – damn it -) But I'll assure you that the fic won't be like that (although… *evil, conniving grin*…). And, yes, I do know how it feels like to be so damned involved with a fic (you should have seen me when I'm reading… I'm a total wreck! I laugh, I cry, I curse…hehehe) Speaking of reading, when am I going to get a new fic from YOU, girl?! Make me a happy reader and give me a TLWROX fic!

- Suzanne, I'm always looking forward to your e-mails. Thank you so, very much! And I loved the card you sent me! I especially loved Santa doing the surfing dance! LOL!

Again, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to 'The Lost World'.

Cry of the Blood

Chapter Six

Challenger wore a very troubled expression as he stepped out of Mara's tent.

Moments after he had heard her question, he had been unable to speak. How was he going to? He could not decide for Veronica, Roxton and Marguerite. He couldn't just say yes to a quest that would definitely endanger all their lives. He couldn't just agree to go on an expedition, all the while knowing the risks that were involved. He needed some time to think, he needed some time to analyze, but most of all, he needed to hear the opinion of the others. Only after that will he be able to answer her question.

And, as if sensing his hesitation, the older woman just turned away from him, bid him a good night and asked him to step out.

He did.

Now, as he walked towards their own tent, Challenger was thinking of ways on how to explain the situation to the others. Will they agree? Will they refuse? He was reaching for the tent opening when Marguerite emerged from it. Challenger almost gasped in surprise; he wasn't expecting her to be still awake so late in the evening. She also seemed to be genuinely stunned to see him, and that momentarily erased the troubled expression she herself was wearing. "Marguerite," he said in an urgent voice. "Where are the others? We have something important to talk about."

She regarded their tent with a slight nod. "Veronica's asleep. And Roxton's—"

Challenger frowned as he heard the long pause that followed her words. "And Roxton's…?" he prodded on.

Marguerite looked at him, concern evident in her eyes. "Something happened to him." She said. "Right inside Magda's tent."

"Good God!" Challenger exclaimed. "What happened to him?"

He was heading straight inside when Marguerite stopped him by holding on to his arm. "He's alright," she said. "Just… shocked."

"Shocked?" He echoed her words.

She let go of him, placed a hand on her forehead and rubbed the skin above her nose. "He's… well, when I got to him he was lying on his back." She started. "He looked so… he was very pale. And very scared. I don't know what happened to him. He was almost incoherent when I tried to talk to him. He was speaking in phrases, and all he said was—" She took a deep breath, and expelled it in a rush. "He told me he'd been stabbed."

Silence befell the two, until Challenger said one word: "Stabbed?"

Marguerite glanced at the tent. "That's what he kept saying, that he was stabbed right in his midsection." Then she looked at Challenger. "But there was no wound, no blood, no nothing. I already checked. Twice. He was just—" She looked away. "I think it was just a hallucination or something else… oh, I don't know! But he was… he was very convinced that he was dying, George." Her last words were but a whisper. "He kept saying he was."

He regarded her quietly; judging from the lines of worry on her forehead and the panic in her voice he could tell that she was more than just shaken up by the ordeal herself. "And you said this happened inside Magda's tent." He stated.

She nodded, determination filling her posture. "And that's why I'm going there to investigate."

This time, it was he who held on to her arm as she started to move away. "But Marguerite," he said to her. "I have something very important to ask from all of you. We need to talk—"

"I'm sick of talking!" She exploded as she tore her arm away from his grasp. "I'm sick of doing nothing, George! I want some answers for all of this, and if going inside that blasted tent is all there is to it then there's certainly nothing to stop me from getting it myself." She stared at him, as if challenging him to defy her.

He did. "But the answers to all of this might be in what I am about to say!" he said to her.

Marguerite crossed her arms in front of her. "Then tell me right at this very moment what it is." She said in a tone that completely contradicted her mood.

Challenger sighed. Seeing that there was nothing he could say to make her changer her mind, he just followed her request. "I spoke with the healer." He said. "Mara said that Magda's condition wasn't brought about by their god's punishment, but rather it was because of a powerful magic Magda saw in Veronica's future."

Confusion registered on Marguerite's face. "Powerful magic?"

"Black magic." Challenger affirmed. "The details weren't exactly clear, but one thing was for certain: we are Magda's last hope for survival. It seemed as though the implications of the curse were deadly; anyone inflicted with it will surely die."

She was silent for a minute. "So what should we do to save her?"

"We have to go on a journey," He answered, "that journey is almost as deadly as the curse. There are risks involved. Mara wasn't able to elaborate any further, but she is going to need our answer some time soon." Challenger let her ponder for a while. "Well?"

Marguerite looked at him. "I told Veronica earlier that we'll help Magda anyway we can." She said. "So I vote that we go."

"Alright, then. Perhaps it's time to ask Veronica and Roxton about this."

He was about to enter when Marguerite spoke. "What about you, George?" she asked. "What is your say about this deadly voyage?"

Challenger turned to smile at her. "I will stand by the decision of the majority." He said. "Whatever Veronica and Roxton will say is fine with me."

Through the fog of confusion that surrounded him, Roxton could finally see some clarity.

He laid completely still, the hand-sewn blanket covering his half-clothed body. His shirt has been removed from him so that Marguerite could see if there was indeed any stab wound. And, as she had expected, there wasn't any.

Was it a dream? He asked himself, lifting a hand to run it through his hair. An illusion? Magic? Roxton couldn't be too sure, but it had felt so, very real.

He heard the voices. He felt the pain. He felt the fear. He felt the blood. He felt his life slipping away; only to have it come back to him in a rush as he lay in Marguerite's arms. For several minutes he couldn't form a complete thought, much less recognize Marguerite's presence beside him then. He could see her there, he could see her frustration, her own confusion, but what was he to say? How was he going to explain it to her when he couldn't understand it himself?

I was stabbed. That was what he said to her. But how was she going to believe him when she saw for herself that there was no wound?

Suddenly Roxton heard some noise by the door. His sight still hazy, he called out who he hoped it was. "Marguerite?"

"I'm afraid to disappoint you, John, but I'm not Marguerite." That was Challenger's voice. True enough, the man walked towards him and sat beside him. "How are you?" He asked, evidently concerned.

Roxton shook his head. "I really don't know what I'm feeling right now," he confessed.

Challenger nodded. "Marguerite told me about your… encounter," he said. "She was very frightened for you, you know."

The younger man just had to smile at that. "She was, wasn't she?" He had seen her expression, and it was obvious that she was definitely feeling with him. "Where is she, anyway?" He asked. He had only closed his eyes for a minute and when he opened them again, he found to his disappointment that she wasn't there.

Challenger seemed to hesitate, but decided to answer him. "She's on her way to Magda's tent as we speak."

Roxton's eyes widened. "She shouldn't be there!" He said vehemently. He tried to sit up but it seemed as though his body refused to cooperate. "Something might happen to her! Challenger, I should—"

"—rest." The older man placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Marguerite is in no imminent danger. She's a grown woman, and could very well take good care of herself." Challenger paused, and then regarded Roxton with serious eyes. "I have already asked her about this. Now is the time to ask you."

"Ask me what?"

Before he answered, Challenger rose and went to Veronica's side. He gently awakened her, and when she did he went to stand at their center, his pose demanding attention from both of them. He wasted not one more minute as he went straight towards the point. "I'm going to ask you both if you are willing to risk your lives to save Magda."

"Save Magda?" Roxton repeated.

"Her life is in jeopardy," Challenger explained. "The healer pointed out that she was indeed cursed. Her illness was because of black magic and not some punishment by the gods. In order to save her life, we need to go on an expedition, but we'll never know how it would turn out. Mara cautioned me that we… well, there is a chance that we may never come back at all."

Veronica stared at Challenger. "What are we going to look for?" she asked, her decision already made the moment Challenger posed the question.

"Mara didn't say," Challenger said, shifting his gaze from Roxton to Veronica. "She said that she will, however, give us the complete picture the moment we decided to go."

"Then I say we go." Veronica said.

"Are you certain, Veronica?" Challenger asked her.

She nodded. "Very."

"What about you, John?"

Roxton looked at him. "What did Marguerite say when she heard this?"

The sides of his mouth quirked up. "She agreed." Challenger replied.

"Then there's no reason for me to say no." Roxton said.

"Then yes it is." Challenger stated. "Tomorrow morning, we will all go to save Magda's life."

Marguerite felt a chill ran up her spine as soon as she stepped inside the shaman's tent. There was something in the air that made her skin crawl; whatever it was, she felt that it was definitely not good.

She walked to the bed where the woman lay. Magda looked serene, peaceful… clearly not a picture of someone's who's just been cursed through a vision of the future.

What on earth was happening? She asked herself. First, there was the incident of Magda falling into a deep, death-like slumber, then it was Roxton with his hallucination of being stabbed. There was not much similarity between both cases, except for one thing: both happened on this very same tent.

What Marguerite told Challenger was true, she is determined to find out some answers to this goddamned puzzler. And if turning this tent upside-down will yield to anything even remotely close to the truth, then so be it.

She turned away from the bed, and was about to begin when she heard a small, hissing sound.

Marguerite looked around her, trying to find out where the sound was coming from.


The small, hissing sound was gradually increasing in intensity, until the sound wasn't just a hiss.


She took a step back, a scream making its way to her mouth.


And then, all was still. All was silent.

Marguerite looked around her, trying to find out where the sound was coming from. But her search yielded nothing; there was absolutely nothing in there that could make that sound.

And then…

Onnnnhhhlllllhhhyyyy… wwwwhhhheeeeehhhnnn…

Then came the whispers.

Blllhhhooohhhhdddd… fhhhlllloooowwwssss

The voice was hoarse, rough; it made Marguerite want to listen and cover her ears at the same time.

Wwwwhhhhhiiiillll… blllhhhooohhhhdddd…. fhhhllloooowww…

The voice was the voice of the damned. The dead.

Nnoooooohhhhh…. Mmmmooooooohhhhrrrreeee…

Marguerite just couldn't take it any longer; the voices were threatening to tear her sanity to pieces. The words were long, the whispers harried, slurred... but she was able to put them together, and was able to memorize them before she went out of her mind with fear.

"Only when blood flows will blood flow no more."

*end chapter six

- blame this chapter on the fact that I made this at 1 AM… I'm a freak, I know… :)