14 Chapter Fourteen - Trapped Within The House

    The thick ivy vines had covered the windows and the doors leading in and out of the large building, which had plunged them into near darkness, but the vines had not yet attempted to enter the property.  This was of little comfort to Dexter and his squad as they could not be sure that they had cleared out all of the zombies yet.  For sure, the four they had found wandering the ground floor had been dealt with, though it was a close call with that last one, but that did not mean there were not more trapped in rooms elsewhere.  The bodies had been left where they had fallen as well.

    Ren Zexian had been first to notice that the vines were entrapping them and swiftly managed to escape their grasp and flee, much to Tyler's disdain.  He'd never wanted to bring the strange Asian man with them in the first place!  He kept his thoughts to himself, however, knowing that Dexter had taken a liking to the man, due to his strength and powers.

    "What do we do now," Patrick asked, with a whisper.  They had become trapped in a large reception room with plush seating and cashmere rugs, so were sitting around comfortably, but unable to truly enjoy.  They had noticed a flat screen television mounted upon a wall and stereo system as well, but without electricity, these were just rubbing salt in their wounds.

    "Sit tight," Dexter replied.  "I suspect Ren Zexian has some sort of plan.  He said something about the plants protecting the owner so..."

    "Do you think they thought we would hurt that kid?" Patrick asked, after thinking about it for a moment.  Ren Zexian had said he thought the boy to be around nineteen, but he could not be sure.

    "You know you are talking about plants here right?" Tyler said, scornfully.  "Plants aren't exactly sentient."

    "You are claiming that after everything that we've witnessed so far?" Dexter laughed at him.  "Dead men walking? Zombie cattle?  Me producing lightning at my fingertips and you doing the same with water?"

    Tyler backed down, quietly, but refused to admit that he was wrong.

    "We could try cutting the vines down, somehow?" Winston suggested and Tyler nodded in agreement with him, not that anyone could see him in this lacklustre light.

    "Nah, Ren said earlier not to touch the plants," Patrick disagreed.

    "He probably said that so we didn't set them off," Tyler said.  "But, we're past that, don't you think."

    "Quieten down," Dexter said with a heavy sigh.  "Just give Ren a chance to get back to us.  Five minutes, Tyler, just five minutes, alright?"  Tyler's eyes narrowed but he agreed out loud.

    Five minutes can seem like an eternity when waiting, unable to see properly and listening only to the breaths of others, but the moment Tyler felt as if he had been waiting enough, the vines began to part and light poured in through the glass once more.  All of the men winced due to the brightness and offered deep sighs of relief.

    The door to the living room opened and Ren Zexian calmly walked through it, his hands behind his back as if he had simply returned from a stroll.  He was not alone.  A skinny youth with chestnut hair falling about his pale face entered in the wake of the man's shadow and didn't seem willing to appear out from it.  "This is Nathan, the descendant of the property's owner.  Nathan spoke to the vines, they should remain still, for now."

    Patrick's face lit up brightly as he jumped up to greet the youth.  "Thank you!" He yelled out.  "I'm Patrick, by the way!  It's nice to meet a new survivor!"  Unexpectedly, the boy flinched away from Patrick's over friendly demeanour, shrinking further behind Ren Zexian, who said nothing about his shy behaviour.

    The boy reached out and tugged Ren Zexian's sleeve.  "I'm going to go back to the cottage now," he said to him, quietly.

    "Let's get you that soap, first," Ren Zexian said softly, turning to face him.

    "And toilet paper?" The boy asked, offering Ren Zexian a small smile and the man agreed with a nod of his head and the pair moved out of the room together.

    "No greetings then? No thanks for getting rid of the zombies?" Tyler bitched, sarcastically and loudly.  "That's just rude!"

    "Tyler! Shut up!" Dexter roared at the insufferable man.  Their voices echoed out into the corridor, causing the youth to sink to the floor once more and grasp his ears.  Ren Zexian hovered close by, protectively, but had already learned that the boy did not like to be touched so was forced to wait until the boy opened his eyes.  This time was no more than a couple of minutes.

    "Are you alright now?" Ren Zexian, asked gently and the boy found himself nodding, lured into the security he felt with every word spoken by the man before him.  He rose to his feet and shuffled to the man's side, not so close that they were touching, but close enough that Nathan could just feel the warmth of the taller man.

    Normally, in the past and today, Nathan did not like meeting strangers, he avoided it.  Avoided behaviour and tone he could not interpret, avoided their staring eyes.  Avoided their loud and overly cheerful voices and their ridicule.  But even though this man was a stranger to him, he did not mind when Ren Zexian looked at him and he liked listening to the man's voice.  Being around Ren Zexian felt safe.  Safe like when he was with his parents or the Nanny or old gardener, no... probably more so as he never actively sought to be close to them before.

    Nathan rubbed the tips of his fingers together as Ren Zexian opened a door in the open hallway that had not yet been touched.  This was the door to the kitchen.  A low growl caught their attention and a grey body with a jaw dangling by a piece of flesh and empty eye sockets came swaying towards them.  It's hands were extended grasping forward and black blood oozed from the part of it's hand that was missing, slowly dripping to the floor.  The blood hit the stone tiles with a hiss and smoke seemed to drift upward from where it's blood had fallen.

    Ren Zexian gently pushed Nathan behind him, even though he knew the boy would not be happy about him touching him without request.  He then stepped forward, unsheathing his sword in quick motion, before removing the zombie's head in one motion.  The head fell to the ground with a thud and it's body followed not long after.  The corrosive blood continued to burn small holes into the tiles, but fortunately, the monster's roots were only awakened, it had not gained strength or control with its vicious ability or things could have resulted much differently.

    The Cultivator turned to Nathan, but saw only indifference in his face, as if he was unable to link the creature that had been killed before him to the living being it had once been.  "Nathan," Ren Zexian said, softly.  "Would you mind using your water to clean my sword.  That zombie's blood is corrosive.  I do not wish to cause more damage to this room."

    "Oh," Nathan replied and summoned a ball of water in his palms, before wondering how he should go about cleaning the weapon.  If the black stuff was dangerous, he should not touch it, he thought, so he lead Ren Zexian over to the sink so that they could pour water down it's length, diluting and washing away the blood from it together.

    "I am sorry that I touched you," Ren Zexian apologised later.  He had moved the body outside onto the drive after wrapping the two parts in a thick cloth he had found upon the table with the help of Dexter and Harry.  He had then set this corpse alight.  The squad chose to burn the other corpses in its flames, while Ren Zexian and Nathan cleaned the kitchen floor and washed down other damaged surfaces.  Nathan did not mind this type of work, it seemed and was quick and thorough about it.

    "It's alright," Nathan admitted.  "I don't think I will mind if it is you."  Ren Zexian said nothing, but felt a whisper of warmth developing within his soul.
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