It took about a week for the Council to start work on cleaning up the city. The dam was quickly rebuilt, and the water took another week to drain off. Before then people had started to move out to the eastern suburbs which had escaped virtually unscathed.
However, things were happening in the hotel.
Daniel was quiet. Too quiet. He had barely spoken after getting fished out of the water by Sir Hyper, and usually only offered shrugs or grunts in answer to any questions from the other Knights.
“Something's wrong with our fearless leader.” Sunny dragged the Knights into a spare room a few days after the water started receeding.
“I know. But he won't tell us what's wrong.” Petunia sighed sadly.
“He gets like this sometimes guys, you know he'll snap out of it.” TJ tried to cheer them up.
“Yeah, but it's usually only for a couple of hours. He's been like this for over a week now.” Petunia argued.
“I wonder if he's upset about nearly drowning.” Sammy piped up. Tammy nodded.
“Maybe. But he's had plenty of near-death experiences before.” Sunny pointed out.
The five of them looked at each other. Daniel was their leader, their hero, and if there was something wrong with him then it affected the whole Order.
Speaking of the devil, Daniel walked in soon after that.
“Hey guys. Team meeting without me?” He joked, but the joke was hollow.
“About you, actually.” TJ looked at his best friend.
Sunny closed the door and locked it.
“You're going to have to talk to us Dan, something's up and we want to help you.” Petunia said gently.
“I'm fine.” Daniel shifted uncomfortably. “Unlock the door Sunny.”
“Not until you talk to us Sir Lionheart.” Sunny replied, taking her Lady Courage tone.
“There's nothing to talk about.”
“There IS, that's why Sir Dark called us in.” Petunia took her Lady Luck tone. “You've been quiet and moody since the flood!”
“Everyone's been on edge!” Daniel snapped back.
“We've still been talking to each other and helping each other.” Sammy stood up as Sir Hyper. Tammy took her Lady Silent stance beside him.
“You're committing mutiny?!” Daniel looked around horrified. Sir Dark frowned at him.
“NO mate, we want to help you. We need you to be okay. You're our leader and our friend.” He begged of Daniel. “We need you to be Sir Lionheart, we need to follow you!”
“After I nearly got three of you killed?!” Daniel cried. He immediately went silent.
“We're nearly getting ourselves killed all the time. What happened wasn't your fault.” Sir Dark clapped his shoulder.
“I shouldn't have dragged you guys into it.” Daniel flopped down on a couch, tears beginning to form. “I should never have let you guys become Knights.”
“Oh BUNKUM!” Lady Courage roared angrily. Everyone jumped. “If it wasn't for us you wouldn't even BE Sir Lionheart.”
“You wouldn't be able to be Sir Lionheart if you didn't let us be Knights – no matter what you do we'll follow you anywhere!” Sir Hyper piped up.
“If you're Sir Lionheart, then we're the Knights of the Last Order. We won't let you do it alone!” Lady Courage added.
“You took on the bulk of the danger yourself, like you always do. You didn't do anything wrong, it was just bad luck.” Lady Luck tried.
“You couldn't have saved those people alone. And you couldn't have just left them.” Sir Dark added.
Lady Silent took Daniels hand and squeezed it tightly. She looked up at him with such devotion and loyalty that he couldn't hold back the tears any longer.
“I'm sorry guys.” Sir Lionheart admitted.
“It's okay mate. We all have our moments.” Sir Dark breathed a sigh of relief.
“YAY! Sir Lionheart is okay again!” Sir Hyper jumped up in his usual hyperactive way. Sir Lionheart grinned.
He hadn't realised how much these kids looked up to him.How much they wanted to be like him and copy him. How much they all needed him to be their leader and hero. It was scary really. But not surprising, given that most of them he'd looked after ever since they were little.
Things weren't going as well for Chuckles and Giggles however.
“Why did you save him again?” Betty deadpanned as Johannas screamed down the walls. They had forced him into one of the spare rooms and locked him in so he couldn't hurt anyone. His violent episodes were becoming more and more dangerous.
“Because…job description?” Belle tried. “He's technically my uncle and the father of my cousin-to-be?”
“Well, I hope you're happy.” Betty replied shortly. She stalked off, scowling at Jessie who was sitting near the door.
“Thanks Belle. I thought we were done for.” Jessie looked up at her niece, who looked sadly at the door Betty had just stormed through.
“It's no problem. The Code demanded it.” Belle shrugged.
“The stupid Code.” Jessie chuckled. She took another mouthful of hot soup. “I never understood why the family had to have a Code to tell them how to behave like human beings.”
“It's more than that.” Belle argued.
“Really?” Jessie looked at her sceptically.
“You'll never get it.” Belle shook her head and walked out. She headed outside, where Charlie was sitting.
“How's your aunt?” He asked sympathetically.
“Eh.” Was the sullen reply.
Charlie smiled sadly, and put an arm around his best friend. They sat there cuddled up with their heads together, watching the water slowly drain away.
“She seems okay. She's very dead-set against the Code though.” Belle said finally.
“Being against the Code doesn't necessarily make you a bad person.” Charlie reminded her. “Think of your great-Aunt Matilda.”
“Yeah, I know. But Johannas is different. He's so…” Belle didn't want to say “evil”, but that's how she felt.
“I know.” Charlie replied softly.
They continued to look out over the drowned city.
“Do you know where Dad is?” Belle asked. “I haven't seen much of him.”
“He's been busy with the Council. They're thinking of making him Mayor after this.” Charlie grinned.
“It won't happen, he's not corrupt enough.” Belle laughed.
A loud bang was heard from inside, along with screaming.
“Wait, that's not just Johannas…JESSIE!” Belle cried. She and Charlie bolted inside, quickly joined by Peter, Bill, Joe and Thomas.
“He locked it!” Peter groaned as they approached the room where Johannas and Jessie were.
“JO PLEASE!” They heard Jessie scream in terror.
“SHUT UP!” They heard the roar back.
“I'll go and get help.” Thomas said, running down the corridor. Peter and Bill started trying to break the door down, hoping they weren't too late to save their baby sister.
“What the hell did she let him out for?!” Bill slammed as hard as he could against the door. More bloodcurdling screams were heard from inside, along with a sick gurgling noise.
“JESSIE!” Peter screamed, slamming himself against the door in rhythm with his brother.
Belle had to do something. She ran to where her pack was and grabbed the Desert Eagle her grand-father had once weilded. She ran back to where her father and uncle were still trying to get into the cursed room.
“Stand back!” Belle cried, aiming the gun at the lock. She fired, hitting the lock dead on, and Peter kicked the door in.
A bloodied Johannas flew out at him, grabbing him around the throat. Belle acted blindly, kicking Johannas aside, punching his face and pointing the gun directly into his eyes for a split second before recovering herself.
A Masters never willingly takes the life of another.
“Bless the Code.” He sneered before pushing her away and running.
“JESSIE!” Belle heard her grand-father scream in terror. She ran into the room.
Her aunt lay in her fathers arms. Joe was trying to keep her calm, but she kept reaching up to touch his face. Tears dripped from his cheeks to her bloodied chest as she tried to wipe them away, leaving bloody marks on his face.
“I'm…sorry…Papa…” She gurgled through her slit throat before she died.
Joe lowered his head. He gently reached out to her eyes and closed them.
“I'm sorry Dad.” Peter wept, dropping to his knees beside his father. Joe grabbed him and held him tightly. Bill was frozen in place, shaking his head.
“This is…it can't…Oh Jess.” Bill too fell to his knees and into the embrace of his father.
Belle was angry. She turned to Charlie, but then found she couldn't say anything.
“Go to them.” He whispered.
Belle turned and fled, latching on to her father.
Thomas ran in with a small group of medics. He stopped when he saw the scene.
“I'm too late.” His breath caught in his throat. Jessie had been his little sister too. He turned to his son, who held him.
Belle looked up at her best friend. She couldn't cry.
But she was going to make sure that Johannas was brought to justice.