Author's Note: This is not the end, just the climax. I located enough notes that I think I can finish this storyline in short order. Maybe another 2 updates. - LZ
Your Move 18
The glow inside the orb pulsed like a heartbeat. Rumple insisted on holding it out in front of him, and Belle followed alongside. She worried and caught him when he stumbled over a break in the asphalt, unseeing. He only had eyes for the orb.
"Be careful," she admonished him.
She touched the orb during one of the moments helping him up and its glow abruptly dimmed; Rumple cried out in pain, only to choke back on the sound when Belle jumped away, afraid she had hurt him, and the glow burst back to full force.
"I'm sorry," Belle said.
The ground rumbled as Rumplestiltskin made it back to his feet. Then Belle looked at where they were. "We're at the town line," she said.
Indeed, the sign marking the edge of Storybrooke, the end of their magical place, and the boundary for the World Without Magic, and they stood about three feet from an orange line painted across the roadway.
Belle stepped forward; Rumple clutched her shoulder. "No!"
"But that's where your son is," Belle said.
"If we cross the line I'll lose my memories," he said. "I won't even know that I crossed the line to look for him."
She turned her hand over in his and squeezed their interlaced fingers. "Then I'll go for you."
"I need the Savior."
"Emma? They said she's gone, vanished during whatever this calamity is striking the town. Surely there's another way. Can't we just believe, Rumple?"
He felt another shake of the ground; the sound of a tree cracking jerked their attention to the side of the road.
They saw it falling toward them and hurriedly backed up. The cacophony of the crash ended quickly returning silence to their surroundings. Staring at it and at the road leading out of Storybrooke, leading to his son, Rumple felt the return of his fear - the same fear that had governed his life before becoming the Dark One.
Belle's gaze found his.
"I don't know what to do," he said, feeling very, very small.
Belle took the orb from his shaking hands. It dimmed; his eyes widened and he reached for it again. She kissed his cheek; the orb glowed strongly once more. She took a step away, his hand falling from the smooth surface, and this time the orb remained lit.
The light within it flickered and wavered, but it seemed to be holding onto whatever connection it was Rumple had to his son.
Belle turned and stepped across the line. Nothing seemed to happen; she turned back to face Rumple. She smiled. Abruptly the ground shook so violently Rumple and Belle were pitched to the pavement. A crack erupted in the asphalt and the ground continued to shake.
"Rumple!" she called out for him.
"Belle!" he answered her.
Both struggled to their feet. But the earth continued shaking violently. Belle's careful hold on the orb slipped; she lost hold of it in a small arc into the air.
Wide eyed with abject terror, Rumple threw himself forward, stretching out with both hands for the orb.
"No!" he shouted as he grabbed for it, falling toward the orange line which he paid no attention. Before his foot could replant, his body impacted the invisible line. A great black cloud exploded from his body. The action jerked his body like a puppet on strings, and his eyes fell shut. Face first he slammed unconscious to the pavement beyond the town line.
Belle rolled on her back and threw herself upward, hauling the orb to her chest; she curled her body around it protectively as the earth continued to shake. She didn't dare try to stand, fearing the orb would drop and shatter, devastating Rumple.
Finally the earth stopped trying to tear itself asunder and the quake stopped. Belle exhaled. "Rumple," she breathed, tears leaking out of her eyes as she overflowed with joyous relief. "I got it!"
There was no answer to Belle's words. She rolled to the side looking where her love had fallen. He lay on the cracked earth, rubble from the asphalt surrounding him. His face was covered in bruises; his eyes were closed. A dark mist drifted toward Storybrooke.
She looked from the mist to the ground. "Rumple?"
She reached out to touch his hand. When the orb jostled in the cradle of her other arm, she sat up more fully and set it down carefully. The glow that had been inside it snuffed out. She reached for her love again.
"Rumple?" she called a little louder and touched the raw scrape on his face. "Rumple!" her voice choked with the panic beginning to roil in her belly. "No! Rumple!" She shook his shoulder.
After several minutes where she rocked back and forth on her knees, unsure what to do, she heard a small groan and saw a finger on Rumple's left hand moved.
Belle stroked the finger, then the hand. "Rumple, Rumple," she murmured. She bent forward and kissed his cheek. "I love you," she said.
Rumple groaned, louder this time, making more of an effort to produce sound. Belle bent closer, continuing to stroke his hand and his face. "I love you," she said again, more determined.
His shoulder moved, his hand positioned beneath it. His right leg slid among the rubble on the road surface. He grunted, and Belle backed up but watched closely as he wrestled himself onto hands and knees. He started to shake his head then stopped with a pained, "Oh my." His face crumpled into a grimace.
Belle leaped to help him; when her hands touched his shoulders though, he jumped and screamed out in painful, fear-filled surprise.
"What?!" He blinked uncomprehendingly at her. "Who are you?" He looked around his location, very slowly. Something seemed to be wrong with his neck. "Where am I?"
"I-I'm Belle," she said. "Who," she started, then paused and licked her lips. "Who are you?"
"My name is Mr. Gold," he said, though he screwed up his expression, apparently not satisfied with that. He smiled at her. "Oh. Robert Gold."
Belle's face fell as he held out his hand.
"It's nice to meet you, Belle." He stood slowly, hobbling a little. "I don't seem to have my cane."
"It...it's all right," Belle said.
He looked around uncertainly. "Where are we?"
"Outside of town," she said.
"Outside of town?"
"Storybrooke. Do you remember?"
He shrugged. "Of course. The town isn't the issue. I'm curious why I would be out on the road in the middle of the day, without my cane, and, apparently, without my vehicle."
Belle stiffened at the utter lack of recognition and familiarity she was used to in Rumple's voice. "I'm sorry. There was an accident," she said. "But, I can help you get back to town."
"I would appreciate that. Thank you." He held out his arm. She leaned into him and put her arm around his back and under his shoulders. Together they hobbled slowly back across the town line and walked back to town.
The fairies floated off the ground as it continued to tremble. Snow, David, Granny and Archie and Marco leaned on each other and nearby trees to keep their balance. The trees around the clearing began to shake as well, and Snow screamed as a tree snapped in half, falling sideways into the clearing. Three dwarfs jumped clear; Bashful, who had worked in the mine, gathering coal during the curse, fell backward over another tree root and his leg was trapped under the log.
His brothers, the other dwarfs, made quick work of freeing him and dragging him to rest against another tree. The ground continued to shake; other trees cracked and fell around them.
"What is going on?" Snow asked.
"My queen, my prince," Blue said, lifting her wand. "Step back. Sisters! Fairies! Form a ring around the well! Pink! Violet! Green! Yellow! Brown! Orange! Lilac! Lavender! Hazel! Opal! Cyan! Aim your wands to the center. Concentrate! Evil must not enter this land!"
By the time the Blue Fairy had finished speaking, a sparkling stream of blue magic erupted from the tip of her wand. Pink's wand rose next, the stream of sparkling sunshine melding with Blue's magic and forming a soft purple mist. As each fairy's magic joined the magic gathering over the crumbled well, the misty cloud roiled. Lightning shot forth, cycling through all the colors of the rainbow then back and forth between gray and a weak white.
"Stay focused, sisters!" Blue insisted, twisting her wrist and flinging an extra jolt of magic down the length of her wand toward the swirling mass. The cloud now filled the clearing, floated upward and expanded outward in all directions.
"David!" Snow called out to him. "What do we do?" Her hand twitched on the bow she held at the ready, not sure what to do with it. "What's going to happen to Emma?" she asked of the Blue Fairy.
Blue barely turned her attention, and barked, "The Savior is lost, my queen. This is a sign that Evil comes!" Snow was shocked to hear the venom coming out of the usually soft-spoken fairy's mouth.
The sun's light into the clearing slowly disappeared. Eyes skyward, Snow spotted it first. "What's that?" she shouted.
The dark cloud began to interact with the fairies magic, sparking with lightning and now thunder rumbled around them. The ground trembled intermittently now, the seeming battle taking place, not in the ground, but in the air around them. All of Storybrooke's remaining residents dove for cover. The clearing filled with lightning. The bushes surrounding the clearing caught fire.
"No!" Blue shouted. "Stop!" she cried to her sister fairies. She was on her knees, surrounded and attacked by the competing clouds.
David darted forward, swinging his sword. He staggered through the mist as Blue vanished from view. Stumbling over roots and rocks, he fell to the earth as something larger in his way tripped him. His head slammed with a sickening thump against the rubble of the well.
Unable to see anyone, only to hear the disturbing sounds, Snow gasped when she heard the impact. "David!"
All three, the well, Blue and David, were hidden in the magic storm cloud continuing to fight to fill every available space.
Shadows began to grow within the clouds; Snow and Granny darted forward, bows at the ready.
Blue emerged on her hands and knees, coughing, head down.
"Blue!" Snow exclaimed. She threw her bow to the side and bent down to help the fairy to her feet.
She grabbed the woman's upper arms through her cowl, feeling tension and vibration. She started to ask Blue if she was all right when the woman's head shot up, face visible, eyes afire.
Snow was thrown away from the fairy whose hand remained outstretched after delivering the magic blast.
"Snow!" Granny shouted; her crossbow swiveled from the cloud to Blue on the ground. "Get on your feet!"
Blue's outstretched hand jerked in Granny's direction and the old woman was cast against another tree trunk with a sickening crunch. Archie rushed over to her.
Marco stared at Blue. "Mi lady!" he cried.
Blue staggered to her feet, staring around at the stunned Storybrooke citizens, mouths gaping. Her normally bright smiling blue eyes had gone black as pitch, and a sneer turned up the corner of her lips.
The portal swirling next to Emma and Cora was sucking everything in. Emma's hair tangling in her face. But she could only worry about that so much because she was busy dealing with the clawing, snarling woman who had somehow taken the upper hand in their combat. Despite staring into Regina's face, Emma had firmly adjusted to the fact that the being beating her up was Cora, Regina's devil of a mother, daughter of a miller, one-time student of The Dark One Rumpelstiltskin. She gripped at hands trying to magically choke her and throw her around the clearing at the same time.
Once free of that assault, Emma batted aside fingers curled with nails sharp as hooks angling to dig into her chest. The devil wanted the Savior's heart.
Emma thought belligerently, you can't have it.
"Regina!" she called out blindly, not because she hoped her attacker's body would somehow miraculously cease being possessed, but because, as Emma had come to learn in these days with Regina, just thinking about Regina had the power to bring forth a new energy in her flagging limbs.
She felt her magic surge at the request. She magically propelled Cora off her, flinging the woman magically to the far side of the clearing. Emma could have sworn she heard Regina's voice.
"Emma, I'm here. Find me, please."
Emma shook her head, trying to dispel the disorientation away just Cora hit her with a magical blast. Dropping to her knees, Emma covered her head, palms outward, willing her magic to find a way, fight back, find Regina.
I'm the Savior, she thought. And right now that means saving Regina.
Another pulse of magic erupted from her hands, spreading out in a widening impact circle from Emma's position, holding herself up against the rubble of the well. The portal sucked at the edges. Cora stumbled as it hit her and passed on. She cried out as her knees hit the stones and dirt, undoubtedly digging in painfully.
Emma's magic pounded against Cora's, white sparking with black, roiling, seething, like a boiling soup. Some of it was sucked into the portal. She saw images through it, a holographic light show within the mist.
At first the images were random and vague. Lightning struck Regina's body from within the magic mass. Cora's scream became Regina's scream and Emma saw what looked like shattered glass reflecting within the outline of the woman's body.
Emma gaped as the shimmering bits pulsed, expanding and contracting, and sliding like liquid against and then away from one another. Tensely she tried to focus into the miasma, to make sense of it. But there were no colors, just grays interspersed by the occasional bit of off-white. The shattered glass swirled upward, dragging the body of Regina with it, then dropping it precipitously toward the earth. Emma's breath caught, only inhaling again when Regina's body froze mere centimeters from a bone-crushing crash.
"Regina!" she shouted and rushed forward.
Emma leaped into the air. As she caught Regina's legs, the sucking portal carrying them both through. She buried her face against short boots, feeling the strain in her shoulders as the competing forces tried to wrest Regina from her. You can't have her! her mind shouted.