Saturday, December 25, 2010


Kallista stood on the edge of a grassy green hill. She blinked her eyes in the warm sunlight and looked up. A single oak tree stood tall and proud against the brilliant blue sky. It's branches full and green stretched over the hill. A girl in a flowing white dress stood up there next to the tree, her back turned to Kallista. A familiar sense of longing washed over her as she recognized the slender form so similar to her own.
"Kalliope" The name slipped from her lips in a whisper yet the girl seem to hear.
She turned to face Kallista, her eyes kind and loving as she looked at her sister.
"Kalliope! I've missed you so much!" Kallista burst out joyfully.
But as she went to move up the hill to join her sister she found she could not move.
Kalliope watched with a sad smile on her face.
"Kalliope! What's happening?" Kallista cried out in panic as she tried to move, but could not. "HELP ME!"
Kalliope only shook her head and spoke gently. "It's not your time yet sister."
"What do you mean? Tell me!"
But the hill with her sister seem to shrink and fade before her eyes.
"Live Kallista and please be happy."
The last words of her sister seemed to echo in her mind as she began to wake up. Tears escaped her eyes as she realized it was just a dream.
"Oh! She's waking up" A female voice said from close by.
Kallista recognized Skyril's Southern accent as she opened her eyes.
The first thing she saw was Darkane's face just inches away.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!"  Kallista screamed and sat  up quickly knocking heads with Darkane.
Darkane cried out and fell back clutching her head.
"Crap Kallista!" 
Kallista flopped back on her pillow writhing in pain and holding her own head. She could hear the laughter of Dragona and Sarthacus as she gritted her teeth against the pain.
"Maybe we aught to clear the room and give Kallista a moment to get her bearings." Israel suggested with a barely concealed smile.
He turned towards her with relief in his eyes.
"I'm glad to see you.......awake."
She saw then that most everyone she knew was in the room with her. Looking around, she  recognized the room as the one Bridget had been in before. She was back at Kenspeckle's.
"Bridget!" Kallista sat back up suddenly and groaned as the pain hit her again.
"Kallista, sweetheart. I really recommend you not do that." Nicolette said with obvious sweetness, amusement in her voice.
Kallista would have laughed has she not been hurting so much and worried about her friend.
"I'm fine." The source of her worries said as she came into the room.
Kallista caught her breath as she looked at Bridget. Her vampire friend looked completely normal again. Well, normal for a vampire. All traces of the suffering that Bridget had gone through where gone.
"Wow! You are all better! But how?" Kallista sputtered joyfully, forgetting her own injuries.
"I think it was your blood that cured her." Kenspeckle said as he came into the room.
He carried with him a box of strange looking equipment.
"You have yummy blood." Bridget spoke up matter of factly as she sat on a chair close by. "Can I have some more?"
"Bridget!" Skylara scolded, shocked as Kallista struggled not to laugh.
"What! I'm teasing!" Bridget protested innocently. "Look. She knows I'm teasing!"
Kenspeckle sighed as he put down his package.
"This is just some things I need for some research I'm doing." He explained to Kallista when he saw she was curious. "I just need to keep it hidden from Clarabelle for a while. She keeps trying to build this strange contraption for her marble set."
Kenspeckle shook his head as Kallista tried to keep from smiling.
"I know that as long as I put my things in here that Clarabelle will not get into it. She won't come in this room."
Kallista was about to ask why but then saw the reason for herself.
Lillivale and Necros stood on the other side of the room and pretended not to know what Kenspecle meant.
"Now. More importantly. We need to clear the room so Miss Pendragon can get her rest." Kenpeckle informed them as he began checking her vitals.  
"Right." Israel nodded as he stood up straight. Kallista was quick to pick up the silent signal he gave with his eyes to the others. Something was up. "We have some things to do elsewhere."
As he moved to leave he looked at her, serious. "Kallista. I want you to stay here for the next few days. Even when you start to feel better, I don't want you to leave. This is not a request."
Incredulous she looked back at him unable to speak. Her other friends filed out of the room giving her sympathetic looks as they left. Bridget gave her another odd look before leaving. Kallista was starting to get used to it.
"I'm feeling better now!" She retorted, looking back at Israel defiantly.
"No, you're not!" Both Israel and Kenspeckle spoke at the same time.
Kenspeckle pushed her back down on the bed gently.
"You will stay here until I determined you are OK." Kenspeckle said mildly, ignoring her flushed face. "You are my patient and will do as I say."
"You almost died, Kallista. It's a miracle you didn't." Israel said a bit calmer as he nodded his thanks to Kenspeckle. "We will be back later and we can talk more then."  
She started to protest as he walked out of the room but Kenpeckle laid a hand on her arm and motioned for her to keep quiet.
Curious, she did as he bade.
"There is something I have to share with you Kallista." He said quietly once they were alone. "I wanted to tell you before I share it with Skulduggery and Israel, and I wil have to share it with them."
Kallista started to feel alarmed again.
"What is it?" She whispered nervously.
"I don't know how to say this, but you are not untirelly human." He answered softly.
"What? Is this some sort of joke?" She asked, giving a little laugh. "Or are you telling me that I'm....a vampire?"
"No!" He said hastily, reassuring her. "I was able to keep that from happening to you, thank God! No. It's something else."
He turned aside then and rubbed his head as if it hurt. SHe leaned forward as he muttered something under his breath.
"Octaboona?" She asked puzzled. "What's an octaboona? Is it something to do with me?"
"Crap." Kenspeckled cursed silently at himself. "I didn't mean to say that out loud."
He stood then and moved over by the window.
"Octaboona is a person." Kenspeckle said shortly. "That's all I want to say on that matter. As to who exactly you are; we are going to have to ask for Skulduggery's help in this. For as long as I have been around and have learned many things over the years; there is still so much more I still need to know."
He looked at her then and his gazed softened.
"There is no reason to feel frightened by this." He said gently. "You are special. Because of you, Bridget is still alive. I could not find a cure. But you were the cure. You have much more than human magic in you and I will do my best to find out who exactly you are." 
"And I will try not to feel like a circus freak." She muttered under her breath as Kenspeckle left.
Of course he would find this exciting, she thought dourly to herself.
"Scientist!" She cursed. "He's probably going to want to dissect me!"
Then she threw back her blankets, pulling out her I.V as she got out of the hospital bed.
"I'm just fine." She spoke out loud even though no one was there. "I'll show them I'm just fine."
She found her clothes and quickly got dressed, hoping her comrades had not left yet. Cautiously she stuck her head out the door to make sure Kenspeckle was not around.
"Sorry, Kenny." She quipped to herself. "But you will have to find some one else to dissect."
She grabbed her Samurai sword and walked down the hallway then out the door.
They were still there much to her relief. She walked into the big room with a challenge in her gaze.
"Kallista!" Came a surprised voice.
She turned and met the astonished gaze of Nicolette.
"Hi, Nicolette!" She called back cockily.
Israel stood there for a moment looking at her, expressionless. Then all of a sudden he was there with a sword in his hand and swinging it down towards her.
Reacting quickly she blocked the blow then jumped back. She was about to tell him off but he was there again with the blade expertly coming at her.
"That was clumsy, Kallista!" He spoke, his voice hard.
Her eyes widened as he continually swung at her with all his might driving her back.
Even though she blocked every blow she could not strike him back. No one spoke as they watched the battle of wills unfold before them. But it was clear who would win. Suddenly, Kallista's sword was knocked from her hand. At the same time her leg betrayed her and buckled. Even as she fell forwards Israel's blade was there at her throat. She closed her eyes in defeat, humiliation written all over her pale face. Tears escaped her eyes as her body protested and shook with exhaustion. Still, no one said anything for a moment.
Israel stepped back and released Kallista from the sword's threat.
"You can join us again the day you can beat me, Kallista." Israel said calmly and turned away.
The others followed silently and did not look at Kallista. They all left except for one.
Necros came and picked Kallista up off the floor.
"Foolish Kallista." He sighed as he carried her back to Kenspeckle's. "Pride is a good thing. Why must you use it against us?"
Up till that point she had refused to look at him. But his words puzzled her. She did not understand.
Kenspeckle burst out just as Necros reached the door. His eyes stared accusingly at Kallista's and she turned away, laying her head against Necros' strong shoulder unable to take the disappointment she saw there. Necros walked silently pass and went to the room she had occupied before.
"Please stay here this time." Necros implored her as he knelt beside her. "Israel didn't want anyone to say anything at this time. But I feel you have a right to know. Israel,! We all feel that you have been specifically targeted by someone. Until we know who it is and until you are better, you must stay here!"
When she still didn't speak to him, he sadly gave her hand a friendly squeeze and left. Kenspeckle clucked over her disapprovingly the whole time he reevaluated her. She paid him no mind. All she knew was that now her companions had left to go on a mission and she was left behind. All because she was weak. All because she was powerless. Moving to the window, she gazed out and stared blindly at nothing. It was not until something moved out of the corner of her eye did she realize someone was outside. And they where looking right back at her! Heartbeat racing she stepped back in alarm. Necros' words of warning still echoed in her ears. Cautiously to took another look out the window and to her amazement, saw she was looking at someone who resembled herself!  
Forgetting about the warnings, she walked out of her room and outside as if spellbound. She moved up to the person and looked at him more closely. He gazed back with a kindly expression. The same sonic boom she had felt before went through her once again. She teetered on her feet, dizzy and weak. The stranger steadied her.
"You!" She cried out. "It was you I saw that day in the forest and....Who are you?"
The handsome stranger bowed elegantly before her.
"I, Kallista Pendragon, am your brother." He said with a voice as smooth as silk. "And I have been looking for you for some time."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Part 8

There was no sound in the forest. All was still. Not even a wind stirred the air. No creature made a noise. But Kallista could feel the rhythmic beat of her heart thumping so loud it seemed to echo all around her.
On the other side of the barrier, Dusk stood and smiled at her smugly.
"Hello Little one." He greeted smoothly. "Miss me?"
His arrogance grated on her nerves sorely. She didn't respond nor did she look at Bridget. Instead she tightened her grip on her sword and concentrated.  As she moved in a stance, she placed her foot down with power. Her earth magic grew strong within her and she let it flow deep into the ground. She could sense it moving in it's path and directed it to a group of vampires on either side of Bridget. Tree roots burst from the ground simultaneously and wrapped around the vampires rapidly. Almost immediately the roots hardened to rock. As Dusk and the other vampires were distracted by the attacking roots, Kallista burst from the safety of the barrier and attacked the two vampires left still holding Bridget.  Her friend, even though weakened, managed to rip the heads of a couple of vampires who were unlucky enough to be near her.
As Kallista whirled on to other advancing vampires, the little part of her that still remained sane, told her that all this was in vain. But her rage numbed the doubting thoughts.
Even as she was surrounded she did not give up and sliced her sword around so fast that no mortal eye could see.
"ENOUGH" Dusk roared. "Get the girl but don't kill her. He doesn't want to see her wounded."
Briefly as Kallista was knocked backwards by a hoard of vampires, did she wonder what Dusk had meant by "he".
The thought was driven from her mind as she was forced roughly to the ground. She found herself staring into Bridget's eyes for a moment.
"Thanks for trying." Was all Bridget spoke.
Kallista felt a solid hard object strike her on the head. Probably a rock, her mind thought. And then as blackness overtook her, she thought no more.
Kallista awoke to find herself in a dimly lit room. Her head ached and her body felt heavy. Groaning faintly she slowly turned her head to look around. Bridget sat next to her staring at her.
"It's about time you woke up." Bridget said dully.
As consciousness began to flow back into her she became aware of several things.
She and Bridget were not alone and there were no windows in the room. To her left a group of frightened children sat huddled against the wall.
"Children?" Her voice cracked softly in rage. "He kidnapped children?"
"Mostly local brats." Bridget said, indifferent. "At least that is what I overheard when they put us in here."
"Why would they put..." Kallista stopped abruptly and looked back at Bridget as it dawned on her.
She felt faintly sick and looked around.
On closer inspection she saw they were not in a room but in one of those metal boxes used for transport on freighter ships. The space was lit with only one light bulb.
Kallista set up carefully and felt for her weapons. They were gone.  Even her hair picks were gone. Her hair hung heavy down her back. She remembered losing them in her fight with Dusk.
Several of the children were crying now.  Kallista counted ten of them.
"How long have I been out?" She asked Bridget. Her voice gaining strength.
"Several hours." Bridget responded.
The vampire looked from Kallista to the children and back again.
"They have taken my black case." She said without expression. "I haven't had a proper meal in days and the sun goes down soon"
Kallista's eyes widened as the effect of Bridget's words sunk in. The situation seemed to be getting worse. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the rough side of the metal box and considered her options. There were not many. "Your hand..." Bridget's voice seemed strained.
Kallista looked down to see that her wound from the whip had reopened. Blood was flowing freely down her arm.
"Sorry" She muttered and quickly ripped off part of her dress. She snuck a sideways look at her friend to see how she was doing as she bound her wound.
Her heart sunk as she could see the visible affect the scent of blood had on Bridget. Her friend's suffering weighed heavily on her and she felt the usual helplessness that plagued her. But she knew that the only one who would remain alive in that metal container that night would be Bridget herself.
Kallista had no clue how she would be able to save herself and the children. Her connection was cut off from the earth as she was trapped within the container.
"Please....don't cry. It will be alright." She lied in a feeble attempt to offer comfort to them.
Bridget gave a little laugh and looked at her incredulously.
"Really, Kallista?"
Kallista shrugged and whispered back. "What would you have me do? Play puppets for them in their last hour before you tear out all our throats?"
 "Not a bad idea!" Bridget shot back sarcastically and then screamed in pain as the change began.
"CRAP!" Kallista leapt up despite her wounds and started grabbing the children roughly. "Move to the back! All of you. NOW!"
Frightened and shocked by her sudden movement and shouting the children scrambled to obey quickly.
An idea came to Kallista. She needed this to work. She closed her eyes and stood still, concentrating.
Her illusion captured and held the children's attention. They stared mesmerized by what they thought was real: a roomful of baby animals playing, not noticing anymore the horror revealing itself behind them.
With sweat rolling down her face Kallista looked over at her bigger challenge. Bridget was nearly changed.
Time for her other illusion. She had never done two illusions at the same time. Taking a deep breath she hoped it would work and fool the beast that Bridget was becoming.  When she was done, it looked like the metal container had suddenly shrunk in size and the children had disappeared. Kallista breathed a shaky sigh in relief and turned to face the newly changed vampire.
 The vampire stared back  at her and began to move forward as she stalked Kallista. Moving slowly away from the children Kallista lured the starving vampire to the other side of the container. Knowing this was to be her last moment, she gave in to her childish belief that maybe someone would figure out where she was and rescue her. Then the vampire charged. Kallista braced for the collision when the tiny sound of a cough was heard. The vampire turned and sniffed the air. Damn! Kallista cursed herself as her  illusion began to fail. She could not keep it up much longer or cover up the noise the children made.
"NO! To me, Bridget!" She cried out to the vampire who moved slowly away from her.
Desperately Kallista looked around willing for some divine inspiration. A sliver of metal  stuck out of the wall . Without pausing to think, Kallista jammed her wounded hand into the metal cutting her skin further.
She cried out in pain but waved her hand about spraying the sides of the container around her with blood.
A fierce growl was the only warning she had. The vampire slammed into her, lifting her off her feet and bit into her neck.
Kallista's cry was choked off as the pain intensified.
She whimpered feebly. Her hands hung limply beside her as darkness once again threatened to overtake her. The illusions wavered and then disappeared. But the vampire was not done with Kallista yet.
A faint breeze rushed by Kallista bringing with it the smell of Spring and sunshine.
"Hang in there, Kallista. Just a little while longer" Kalliope's beautiful voice whispered in her ear.
She became aware then that she was holding onto her sister's favorite ribbon. Kallista tighten her grip and struggled to raise her hands.
Placing them on Bridget's shoulders she tried to push back.  She tried and failed.
"Oh Kalliope. I don't think I can hold on!" She cried out in despair.
China and Israel stood before the old ornate gate just a few feet within the forest. A little ways behind them stood the others, gathered around Israel's van as they waited for China to take down the wards.
"This may take a few minutes." China said briskly as she set about her task.
Israel looked around intently before speaking. Something was off he was sure of it.
"I'll be right back." He told her as he strolled back to the others.
Nicolette met him right at the tree line.
"What's wrong?" She asked him softly. "You look more agitated then usual."
His eyes softened as he looked down into her beautiful hazel eyes.
"Meaning that I usually look agitated?" He teased as they walked side by side to their comrades.
"No of course not." She smiled at him. "But you have been tense lately and a bit harsh with Kallista. Don't you think you should give her a little slack?"
Israel stopped as he reached the others and in their hearing he spoke.
"In this business I can't afford to be slack with Kallista. Not when it could cost her life or someone else's." He looked at each of them. "In a few minutes China will have the wards down. I caution you now. I feel something deeper is happening here other then the typical teenage girl drama. Be on your guard at all times."
For a moment their was silence and then a voice broke out.
"Yes Papa dear." Florence grinned at him.
Darkane hisses as Israel glanced their way and jabbed Florence in the side.  But Israel only smiled.
"I'm sorry. I know you are all professionals." He said wearily.
"We know what you mean, Israel." Nicolette smiled and placed her hand lightly on his arm. "We will all be careful."
"It's done!" China interrupted them.
"Oh good!" Sarthacus said cheerfully. "I was getting mighty bored standing around."
He stood up and flexed his muscles then looked at his friend. "Stop looking at your car Dragona. It'll be safe enough here."
Dragona looked over at him with a raised eyebrow.
Leo couldn't help himself. He gave a little laugh and muttered. "It wasn't his car he was gazing at!"
Briefly bemused Sarthacus looked again at the silent Dragona who seemed to be turning an interesting shade of pink.
"Dragona! Your PINK!"Sarthacus blurted out. Then he saw who had been standing on the other side of Dragona's car.
And she was looking daggers at him at that very moment.
"Oh!" He paused. "Um...awkward. I'm just going to hurry and catch up with Israel."
He left hastily  as Leo followed smirking.
Skylara and Darkane looked at each other and rolled their eyes. They walked together into the forest.
"Do you guys need a moment or two?"Skylara tossed over her shoulder playfully.
"Quiet girl!" Dragona glowered at her.
He was slightly stricken as he heard her laugh echoing back at him from the forest.
"Just give in." Mary smiled as she passed him, appearing from nowhere. "You will only lose."
"What? I never lose!" He yelled after her.
"That's not what she meant." Florence looked at him and he melted. "Come on. Let's go join the others."
Dragona caught her hand before she took another step.
She looked up at him curiously. "Yes? What is it?"
He was silent for a moment as he struggled to find the right words.
"Just be careful. Please." Was all he could think of.
Then she smiled and he felt like the sun shined on him again.
"No worries. I'm a big girl." She replied with assurance.
They found to their mild discomfort that the others had not gone ahead and were waiting just inside the trees.
"All ready?" Israel asked them with knowing smile. "I want us to stay together for the time being."
All around them the trees had mostly lost their leaves. Their bare branches stretched outward to the gray skies as if begging for a reprieve from winter. 
The comrades strolled easily down the natural pathway that Kallista had laid out a year before through the thick foliage. Darkane stopped abruptly as the trees dropped away revealing a wide open space. 
 Leading up to an ancient Gothic cathedral, a line of stately trees stood as if they were honor guards along either side of the pathway. Unlike the other trees their leaves remained on the branches in a blaze of red, yellow, and orange glory.
"Oh, wow!" Darkane breathed in stunned amazement.
"Earth magic. Not just for fighting battles." Mary spoke elegantly with a smile as she strolled ahead of them on the path.
"Kallista did this?" Skylara asked incredulous.
"Yes she did." Israel replied tightly. "She is capable if she only applies herself."
"Calm down, Israel." Nicolette murmured under her breath.
"She is not here." Mary appeared again right before them. "I checked everywhere."
"Thanks Mary." Israel responded with a nod. "OK. Everyone spread out. There is bound to be something here that can help us locate Kallista."
They all spread out in different directions like the professionals they were, clear in their goals.
"Her bike is still here." Sarthacus shouted from the side of the building. "And it looks banged up."
"It was perfectly fine the day she was with us." Nicolette frowned as she came out from the cathedral. "I found this."
She held up Kallista's phone. It was open and the battery had died.
"I was the one who talked with her last." Israel sighed and then spoke up again. "Any sign of Bridget?"
"I found something!" Florence voice called to them from the other side of the field.
Nicolette and Israel looked at each other and then hurried over to where Florence stood.
"I found her hair piece. It's broken." Florence said quietly. "It looks as if there has been a fight here."
"There's blood over here!" Dragona said from nearby. "And a dead Vampire! Well...dead again."
"Found some more here." Leo said grimly.
Israel straitened up from where he had examined the blood. "It's Kallista's"
He looked around warily and noticed the woods had gone quiet again.
"Somethings wrong. Everyone! be on your-"
Israel was cut of from his sentence as a vampire in his human form jumped from his hiding place in the tree above Florence.
A fierce roar filled the air as Dragona was suddenly there before her. He grabbed the surprised man and broke his neck before he even reached Florence. In disgust he threw the body away from him.
"There's more coming!" Mary warned sharply from the top of the tree that the vampire had been in. "There is not many but still be careful"
"Leave at least one alive." Israel commanded them. "We need at least one for questioning"
Dragona kept his place between Florence and the oncoming vampires. Even in their human form they were dangerous.
"Thanks Dragona." Florence said wryly as she watched Skylara and Leo took on a couple of vampires. "But I am capable of handling creatures such as these. Look. They are even wounded."
"The work of Bridget and Kallista, I'm sure." Israel nodded. He took out his shot gun and shot a couple of vampires before they reached him. "That felt good." He smiled thinly. 
As he strolled towards Skylara and Leo, Dragona spoke.
"I know you are capable, Flo. But while I am around, I will let nothing hurt you."
She didn't respond but only looked at him for a moment. Then she shook her head.
"Interrogation has begun. Let's go see what they are getting from this last Vampire." She winked at him and moved towards Leo who held the pitiful vampire in a deathly grip. Skylara and Nicolette held their weapons at his throat, keeping him from moving even an inch. 
"I see...." Israel was talking as if to himself. "Dusk apparently had no more use for these pitiful excuses for vampires and left them to die."
Leo leaned down and whispered wickedly in the vampires ear.
"I guess then, there is no more reason to keep you alive."
"OK! I'll talk!" The vampire yelled in fear and anger.
A few minutes later Israel got on the phone and spoke with Necros.
"Let's go! Necros and Lillivale will meet us at the shipping yard."
"I just hope we are in time." Dragona spoke tensely. "The sun is going down soon."
Skylara and Nicolette left with the vampire in their custody.
It was dark when they arrived. Necros was already at the entrance with Lillivale.
"It may already be to late." He said as they ran up to him.
Without another word he looked around. "There it is. That's the one we are looking for."
With their ninja like speed Necros' comrades were able to keep up with him and Lillivale. They descended upon the red metal container almost in unison forming a perfect circle around it.
"You ready?" Israel asked Necros.
Necros spared him a nod but did not speak. Instead he consetrated and gathered power in his hands. On the other side, Lillivale did the same. Double black swords appeared in Necros' hands, glowing with purple energy; a dark blue smoke swirled up and down it's length. 
All the others waited with weapons ready and kept guard.
"NOW!" Necros shouted.
He sliced easily through the metal and saw that Lillivale did the same.
Together the pushed the two halves apart. Something spilled out in the middle. It was a vampire who was feasting on Kallista.
"BRIDGET!" Israel shouted.
Lillivale didn't wait. He moved forwards and knocked Bridget unconscious.
Necros caught the girl as she fell and Lillivale did the same for the vampire.
"Oh my..." Florence's voice brought all eyes on what had made her speechless.
There were children huddled in the one section of the split container.
"Dusk!"Darkane spat out in anger and disgust. "He will pay for this!"
"Yes he will." Mary replied with steel in her voice as she stepped up. "For now. Let's bring Bridget and Kallista back to Kenspeckle's. They need tending to quickly"
"Lillivale and I can get there faster then any of you." Necros spoke up. "We leave the children to you."
He took off without waiting for a reply, carefully shielding Kallista from anymore pain. Lillivale followed close behind carrying Bridget.
Dragona looked over at Florence hopefully.
"So. Who gets kid duty?"
"What! You think because I'm a girl I should do it?"
" I really have to answer that?"
Israel shook his head and walked away slowly, leaving the cooler heads of Leo and Sarthacus to handle the situation with the kids. He made a quick call to Kenspeckle to make sure they had arrived. He almost smiled with relief at the confirmation that they had just arrived. It was still to soon to know if Kallista would make it through. He could only hope.

Part 7

The late afternoon sun struggled to give it's last rays of light even as the clouds overtook it. The shadows cast interesting shapes on the earth below. Kallista kept her eyes on the road as she moved along on her motorcycle but let her mind wander. What would life be like if her sister was still around? She could almost hear the music that Kalliope played so beautifully on her precious violin. That same violin was waiting for her at her home, one of the few mementos she still had of her sister. The other item that seemed like nothing but was everything to Kallista, was the long white ribbon Kalliope often had worn in her hair.  Kallista found that she could not bare the sight of the ribbon as it brought back memories of a girl that was no more. That she could never have a future with Kalliope had tormented her endlessly. But she could not get rid of that ribbon that Kalliope had so loved. So she kept it hidden with in the violin case. Only on rare occasions would she open the secret compartment within the case and gaze at the ribbon. After the recent episodes with her comrades, she felt like gazing at it again and hoped for a comfort and a answer that would never come.
A darker shadow passed over her helmet breaking through her reverie. Startled she looked up and was shocked to see a figure of a tall slender person standing before her. The same sonic boom she had felt at Hidden Brier slammed through her very being.  Gasping she wavered unsteadily on her motorcycle, struggling to bring it under control. Then she had no choice. She was upon the person. Swerving sharply, she tilted the cycle and then lost all control. She skidded hard with the motorcycle on it's side. She lay there stunned for a moment before looking up to assess the damage. When she looked for the other person, there was no one there. Getting unsteadily to her feet she took off her helmet and staggered to where her bike had stopped. She gazed around searching each of the fields that lay on either side of the road. There was no sign of another person. No matter where she looked she could find no one. A chill went through her and griped her like a vice. Something was not right. Uneasily she replaced the helmet on her head and picked up the bike forcing herself to breath normally. Off in the distance was the woods that led to her home. She was close. She would be safe there, thanks to the protective wards that China had put up. No one could enter her yard or home save for Kallista herself. She took one more uneasy look around and set off.
From under an illusion shield, a man watched the girl with a smile. He lifted his phone to his ear and talked.
"Change of plans. It's definitely her. But there is one more thing I want to do before we set the plan in motion."
He hung up the phone and smiled slightly in the direction that Kallista had gone.
Across the city of Dublin, a beautiful women with rainbow clips in her hair sat before a handsome weary detective, her arms cuffed behind her.  They sat in a tiny windowless office with only a small table between the two of them. The dim lighting cast uneven shadows along their faces.
She smiled at him as he regarded her with quiet reflection.
"So what you are telling me Ms. Hart, is that you do in fact have information on the young girl, Kallista Pendragon." He clarified.
"Your sharp as a pickle." Jodi teased Detective Simmons. He really was adorable in his quest to be honorable and lawful. A trait that in most people looked foolish and was a wast of time. But in Jodi's eyes,  with Detective Simmons it was really quite enduring.
"May I call you Matt? It's such a nice name." She made a big show of yawning, taking one slender hand and covering her mouth demurely and then replacing her wrist calmly back in the confines of the handcuffs.
Detective Simmons sighed and reached back for the key.
"You may call me Detective." He answered her simply. He moved to take off her handcuffs. "I guess we don't really need these do we? It seems that you are here by your own will."
"Sharp as a pickle." Jodi repeated with a smile.
"So then you will tell me what you know of this girl." He held up a picture of Kallista that had been taken several years ago. Next to her was an identical girl. The only difference was that the one girl had a white ribbon in her hair.   
"So that's Kalliope Pendragon." Jodi said softly taking the picture and studying it further. She looked up to find Simmons staring at her intently. "Why do you want to find Kallista so badly? She is just a girl." 
"Just a girl?" He repeated and leaned back in his chair. "That girl single handily brought down an entire school and blew it up. I don't know how she did it. Forensics never found any signs of arson or any kind of explosive devises."
"Then what proof do you have that Kallista was involved at all?"
"There was video footage."
"I see."
"Ms. Harte. I'm going to ask you again. Have you seen this girl?"
"Care to elaborate?"
"But you let yourself be caught by me. Why?" Detective Simmons studied the young woman with interest.
"Just a friendly reminder to drop this case. Kallista is in good hands."
"Ms. Harte. I think you know I can't do that. I am bound by law to find her and bring her in for questioning."
Jodi laughed softly. "Poor Detective Simmons. You are really in a tough situation aren't you? We are not going to help you and your superiors are not going to let this go. What's a detective to do?"
"I have been around long enough to know there is more going on then meets the eye." He said carefully. "With this case in particular I have been witness to.......many unexplained events."
Jodi raised her eyebrow at him. "Care to elaborate?
"I see."
"It would not do well for me to speak of things that defy reason and logic." He stood up then and offered her his hand.
She accepted and rose to stand with him.
"I figure it would do me no good to arrest you Ms. Harte, so I will not even try. I am sure, however that we will meet again."
"If you continue in your fruitless quest to find Kallista then you most likely will find me along with a few of my friends."
Simmons gave a little laugh.
"We will see just how fruitless I can be then. Until we meet again, Ms. Harte. Have a good day."
He nodded to her and left the office. Jodi followed more slowly taking out her phone as she walked and dialed.  With her other hand she collected her Sai Swords from where they had been hidden and strapped them on in one smooth motion.
"Did you convince him?" Israel questioned as he answered.
"Well, hi to you too!" She replied faintly annoyed, as she walked to her car. "How did you know I would.............Oh! Never mind!"
Israel laughed softly. "I take it he was not deterred. I didn't think he would be...."
" I free to leave now?" She continued talking. "I can go my way and not look over my shoulder and see Skulduggery there waiting for me?"
 "Yes. You kept your end of the bargain and we will keep ours." Israel answered her. "Just no more jobs like you did in Tanzania."
"Yeah. Whatever." She snapped shut the phone and tossed it in the passenger seat as she got in. "Now, where was I?"
She opened her visor and took out a plane ticket.
"Oh yes! Back to Tanzania I go!"
She laughed all the way to the airport.
Kallista lingered gingerly on the big soft chair in her room. Her body still ached from the fall yesterday off her motorcycle and she didn't have any of Kenspeckle's remedies on hand to ease the pain. A mistake she planned on fixing when she felt ready to face her comrades. Even now she felt the chill that had gripped her since the mysterious person had first appeared. 
As she replayed the events of the last few day, her thoughts drifted back to the time after she had fled the forest, free from Eli Lonestar.
Wild, angry, scared and halfway trained in the martial arts and magic she had managed to get back to the orphanage only to find her sister had left on a quest to find her. Despite the protests of her guardians at the orphanage, she had slipped away before they could stop her and retraced the steps that Kalliope had taken, leading her to America.
How Kalliope had ended up in the deep south in a reformed school for dangerous girls was beyond Kallista's reasoning.
Agitated, Kallista jumped from her chair and broke off her memories. She would have to face them, she knew. Just not right now. Not that part before she blew up the school. She had used all her magic of illusion, fire, earth and wind, to evacuated all the people from the building. A part of her wanted to leave those responsible for her sister's death  within the doomed building. But for her sister's sake she did not. Kalliope would never had wanted anyone to die on her account.
Kallista had hated her magic then and had used it with all her might that day as if she could purge it from her body! If it were not for her magic, she still would have been with her sister. Eli would have left her alone and Kalliope would have been alive. She hated her magic as much as she had hated Eli.
Her phone rang interrupting her thoughts. She blinked a moment before answering. It was Israel.
"Is Bridget there?" He asked tersely.
"No!" She replied, startled and a bit alarmed. "You mean she is not with you guys anymore?"
"She left just after finding out that you had gone off on your own."
She could hear in his voice that Israel was still angry with her. He all felt that Kallista owed them an explanation for her lack of use of magic.
Then same demons came and haunted her once again. Fear, grief, rage, and loneliness all plagued her as she clung to the phone. The added strain of the mysterious events and the power that had stuck her left cracks in her reserve. A whimper escaped her lips before she could stop it.
"Kallista?" Israel's voice questioned in concern. He had know for some time that something had been bothering his young friend. 
While everyone else had family and close friends, Kallista had always been alone and had kept herself distant from the rest. It had been what everybody had been trying to do for the last few years, to get her to trust them all fully.
"Is everything OK?" he questioned.
But Kallista did not answer. She could sense Bridget nearby......and something else. In alarm, she dropped the phone. She pulled on her one item that had been made by Ghastly. A long coat that fitted snugly around her slender waist and then flared out becomingly around her legs to give her room for fighting.  She twisted up her long heavy hair using her Japanese hair pins to hold into place and grabbed her Samurai sword and fan.
She quaked with fear as she rushed outside. Did Bridget know she was not alone?
Quickly she brushed away the foolish fear. Of course Bridget would know. But would she be able to fight with that mysterious poison that had been inside her? Kallista could feel through the earth more and more vampires surrounding her place. She knew that they could not get with in her wards. She was safe for now. But Bridget was not!
She stopped just inches from the ward and found herself face to face with an ugly vampire. It had come out of the dense forest that surrounded her place and growled as it reached to slice her, then howled in frustration as it failed. Kallista remained unmoved, even as more and more vampires emerged from the forest and lined themselves along the ward. She held her sword downwards but ready. They could not reach in, but she could reach out.
Then HE came. The vampire from Hidden Brier. The leader of this band of vampires. The one called Dusk. He smirked at her not worried by her barrier. He snapped his fingers and a couple of his minions came forward with Bridget in between them, still weak from the poison.
She looked up at Kallista with a glint in her eyes.
"Gee, Kallista. I didn't know you were so popular!"

Part 6

Kallista stood just inside the door looking at Bridget. She was lying there in the hospital bed with her eyes closed. Her wounds stood out sharply against her pale skin. If it had been anyone else who had been caught in the trap, they would have been dead. But Bridget was a vampire, and a tough one at that.
It had been several days since the incident at the town and Bridget still had a ways to go before healing properly.
Kenspeckle hustled through the hall behind her. He slowed as he neared her.
"Please don't be long, my dear." He said kindly to her. "My patient still needs to recover."
He looked with slight disapproval at Bridget. "Even if she is a vampire."
Bridget opened her eyes then and looked at him with a wicked glint. She snapped at him as he checked her over.
"Oh, do behave!" He responded with slight exasperation. "Really! I feel like I'm dealing with a kid."
He was back out the door quickly, clutching the vile that hung around his neck. Her mocking laughter followed him down the hall. Kallista turned back to see Bridget's eyes on her, not blinking.
"I'm hungry." She spoke with a hard edge to her voice. "I need to leave now!"
"I know." Kallista nodded mildly. She moved  carefully around the bed, careful to keep her distance from Bridget. "You will have your chance........please........just give yourself a few more days to recover."
Bridget turned her head the other way."The trap.........did they find any more?"
"Three more. It has been taken care of." Kallista answered. "And I took care of the townspeople, removing the illusion I put on them. All is back to normal there."
For a moment neither one of them spoke. But Kallista could feel the tension build. Finally the bubble broke and Bridget asked the question that the rest of the gang had been thinking.
"Why are you not using your full abilities! You could have been killed!"
Kallista stood still. If Bridget hadn't seen the slight tightening of Kallista's fist, she would have thought the girl unaffected by this.
"But I wasn't killed and I did my part." She kept that tiny smile that played upon her lips, her voice even. "The townspeople are safe, no one was killed and you are getting better! I would call that a success."
Bridget cursed.
"You used your full power when your sister died!" Bridget snapped. "When you blew up that building...that school! What has changed?"
The smile froze, then fell off Kallista's face, replaced with a rare snarl.
"Nothing and everything!" She shot back. Bridget looked on bemused as the girl struggled with emotions to heavy to bare. "What good can I do? For all my training I'm still not able to beat Skylara or Mary in a fight! How can I be of any good to anyone?"
"Skylara and Mary?" Bridget repeated in disbelief, recognizing a change in topic. "Don't be so stupid, girl! Did you forget how much older they are then you? How much more training they have?"
"It doesn't matter!" Kallista said with an intensity that belied her age. "It doesn't matter if I........"
"I smelled you in the woods back at that town!" Bridget cut her off suddenly, looking at her strangely. "But it couldn't have been you! You didn't arrive until after I got caught in the trap!"
 Momentarily caught off guard, Kallista's eye's widened.
"So," Bridget confirmed. "You know of what I speak of. Spit it out girl! Do you have family that you have not told us about?"
"My family is dead as you well know!" Kallista spat out, her eyes wild with rage and.....grief. "I have nothing more to say to you. I only came to wish you well. I'm sorry I came at all!"
Kallista twirled around and glided elegantly out of the room.
Bridget sighed and closed her eyes. "You can come out, now."
Mary appeared and moved to Bridget's side.
"You were a little harsh, don't you think." Mary spoke smoothly.
"Nonsense! That girl has great talent." Bridget grumbled. "If she doesn't use it soon I will drink her blood and make good use out of her!"
"Right......." Mary smiled knowingly.
"Oh! Wipe that smile from your face!" Bridget said without force. "How long were you here anyhow, listening to our conversation?"
"Long enough." Mary answered simply, looking towards the direction Kallista had left.
Kallista walked down the hall not making a sound despite her anger.  Lost in her anger she walked by Clarabelle, did a double take and walked back towards the woman. Kenspeckle's assistant was sitting in front of a long table, apples and bits of paper lying around. It looked as is she was trying to drill a hole in the fruit. The results were messy.
", excuse me, Clarabelle...I don't mean to pry.....but what are you doing?"
Clarabelle looked up, her eyes appearing larger through the goggles.
"Oh! I'm making Fortune apples!"
"Fortune apples?"
"Oh, yes!" Clarabelle nodded happily and removed her goggles. "I need to make some extra income and came up with this idea! Don't you see? Apples are healthy and good for you. You eat one and then when you are done you get a fortune inside!"
Kallista didn't know what to say . She just stood there stunned. But Clarabelle didn't notice and continued to prattle.
"I just know it will be a big seller! All the parents will want to give their children some."
Clarabelle went right back to work with drilling holes and stuffing the little bits of paper in them.
"Well.....good luck with that." Kallista managed to say before fleeing back down the hall.
She waved to Kenspeckle and hurried out the door desperate to get that image out of her mind.  She looked up to see it was still decent out. That was good. It meant she could ride her Ninja motorcycle home.
An Autumn breeze pulled at her hair gently as she moved back to the meeting building. She walked up the steps deep in thought. As soon as this afternoon's meeting was over, she would head for home. At this point she wanted nothing to do with anyone else right now.  She opened the heavy door and was faintly surprised when Darkane and Florence pulled her in quickly and hastened her to a corner. Leo looked up briefly from his laptop and eyed them suspiciously. Kallista couldn't really blame him the way those two where giggling. Nicolette watched amused as she sat texting on her phone. 
"Where is Israel, Sarthacus and Dragona?" Kallista asked the two other girls. She didn't have to ask where Lillivae and Necros were. The building shook as the two made their presents know ans the fought one another.
"They are  coming!" Darkane said urgently. "We have to hurry!"
Kallista caught on then seeing their eyes light up mischievously.
"You are going to try and sabotage them again?" She asked incredulous. "What makes you think you will succeed this time?"
"Because we keep on improving!" Florence answered indignant. "Are you going to help us or not?"
Kallista didn't know whether to groan or laugh. She did both. It seemed to help with her mood so she agreed even though she suspected what the end result would be.
"Alright. Count me in. What do you want me to do?"
A few minute later she stood where Florence wanted her, in front of the main door. Florence and Darkane hid on either side behind the tall potted plants that decorated the entry way.
"Here they come." Kallista warned as she saw Dragona's gorgeous car roll up.
Out came Sarthacus, Israel, and Dragona deep in discussion, walking up the sidewalk to the steps.
Behind her she could sense the others shifting their attention from their activities to watch what the girls where doing.
Kallista whispered something not heard and cast a light illusion over Darkane and Florence. It now looked as if no one was there. She backed out of the way smiling slightly and gave a small formal bow to the three men who came in. Florence and Darkane jumped up and went to use their magic on the trio when suddenly a great wind blew around all three girls and whipped them together.
"See!" Kallista screamed with laughter as they where flung outside. They landed with a slight bump on the ground then found they were suddenly drenched with water.
Israel never broke off his conversation during the whole thing and acted like nothing had happened. Dragona and Sarthacus however turned and looked on with grins at the sight of Kallista sitting in the mud and the other two girls looking up in outrage as they lay tangled together indignantly.
"I told you it wouldn't work." Kallista wheezed. Her black hair now lay in clumps around her face having escaped the confines of her Japanese hair pins.
"We are not through yet!" Florenec seethed quietly, her pretty eyes staring hard at the two men still grinning by the front door. "Just you wait!"
"When you ladies have finished playing in the mud and get cleaned up, you can come on in!" Sarthacus said pleasantly in his Scottish accent.
Dragona gave then all one more smile and closed the door firmly on them.
"WHAT!" Darkane jumped up a soggy muddy mess. "They can't do that! We are part of the team to!" 
Both Florence and Darkane ran squishing all the way to the front door. Kallista followed more slowly, not in much better condition. When they tried the handle to the door, they found it locked.
"HEY! Let us in!" Florenced yelled.
Laughter could be heard from inside.  "Not until you are clean from the mud and dried off!" Came the reply from Dragona.
Kallista leaned against the ornate railing as her two co-conspirators debated through thr doors for a couple more minutes. When it became obvious no one would let them in, the three started to prowl around the building looking for another ways in.
"I can help you dry off, you know...." A voice came from above.
It was Leo. he was standing at a second story window with it open so they could hear him. He calmly sipped a hot cocoa and held out his other hand. Sparks danced around in his palm growing brighter and brighter.
"This would work well." He spoke calmly and smiled wickedly.
Florence and Darkane's eyes widened. They backed away nervously.
Someone appeared beside Leo. It was Skylara.
"Leo. Don't tease the girls." She laughed and then called out to them before closing the window. "Come in when you are clean and dry!"
"Well, how do you like that!" Dakane sputtered.
"Yeah. I was sure she would help." Florence remaked, puzzle.
Kallista squeezed out her soggy kimono as much as she could.
"Girls." She began. "I think we are just going to have to do as they said."
They went around the back to keep hidden from the street in front.  While the meeting went on in the inside, the soggy girls used magic to make a large fire and warm up with.
Kallista didn't really mind. She felt relieved not to be in there. She could only guess what would be discussed after her conversation with Bridget earlier.
But she didn't tell the other two who were busy comforting themselves with tales of promised vengeance.
And so, even though she was still slightly damp, she slipped away from the fire nodding her goodbyes to the two and retrieved her motorcycle.
She was halfway home when the dreaded call came. It was Israel.
"Don't think you are off the hook." Was all he said.
Her heart sank.

Part 5

The branches of low trees slapped against her face as she ran and pulled at her long heavy skirt slowing her down. But Kallista didn't care. She moved through the heavy foliage recklessly completely forgetting her training. Here and there sunlight penetrated through the canopied roof of the forest, highlighting those areas with a glow. It was beautiful and serene.  But she saw none of this in her hast. She stopped to catch her breath and looked in every direction; straining her eyes hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious person. But she saw nothing. The forest was still. As she stood there she tried to quiet her raging thoughts. Whoever she saw could not have been her sister  who had been dead for several years now. Yet there was something strange about that person. She had to find out who it was!
Slightly exasperated with herself she looked around finally aware she had left her comrades behind.
"Feeling a little silly, now?" A voice called out from up in the trees.
She looked and saw Darkane sitting there in one of the trees, listening to her green and blue headphones.
"You know I was in the middle of a really good fight." Darkane continued, not looking at her.
Kallista smiled to herself at Darkane's annoyed tone.
"I'm sorry." She said quietly. "Did Israel send you?"
"Nobody sent me! And Israel is to busy doing something important other then chasing little girls who can't control themselves and run into the forest!"
Kallista understood the tone in her friend's voice.
"I'm sorry I worried you, Darkane."
"I wasn't worried!" Darkane replied as she leapt gracefully from the tree. She landed lightly on the ground a little ways from Kallista. She gave the slightly taller girl a sideways glance. "You coming? What was so important that you came out here by yourself, anyways?"
"It was nothing." Kallista replied shaking her head slightly. "Go one ahead. I'll be right behind you."
Darkane shrugged her slight shoulders. "Suit yourself!" She called as she began to walk back towards the town.
Kallista hesitated. She could still feel that echo of energy that had penetrated her soul before she had entered the forest.  She forced herself to be still for a moment longer. With every breath she could feel herself returning to normal.  Now with her wits back about her, she knelt on the ground amidst all the colorful fallen leaves. She carefully placed her hand on the cold ground and felt the magic swelling within her. She released it into the earth and it danced through the earth rapidly, sending her images and sensations of life all around her. From the small forest critters to the foxes who played among the tree, she could see life everywhere. Except for one place. She stood up abruptly, a frown replacing the smile, and looked in the direction of it's source. Something undead where there! In that moment a large gray cloud swept over the sun, covering the light from the earth below. She shivered apprehensively. Then an unearthly scream pierced the air, resounding in the forest. It's agony pierced through Kallista's soul.  As she ran towards the source she could hear a moaning that rose in intensity to another scream. She reached a clearing in time to see Dusk standing before Bridget with her whip in his hand. He was smiling at Bridget, who to Kallista's horror was pinned in a trap.
Kallista felt as if her breath was knocked out of her again. The wicked looking device resembled a bear trap, only bigger. From where she stood she could sense a tainted magic over the steel trap; a poison. It had snapped over the left side of Bridget's body, ripping into her flesh along the leg, waist and arm. The top part of the jaws threatened to tear into her slender throat. Blood was oozing from the wounds, but Bridget still managed to glare defiantly at Dusk.
"You are the one who is pathetic, Dusk!" She spat at him, stifling a groan of agony. "You know you couldn't fight me on your own! Like a coward, you had to use a trap and your army to stop me. Just one vampire!"
His mouth twisted in rage and he raised up Bridget's own whip to use against her. Then Kallista was there.  She raised her hand and caught the whip as it started it's decent. She held on to it and refused to let go as he tried to pull it from her grasp. Defiantly she stared at him.
"YOU!" He thundered.
Through a veil of seething anger she could see recognition in his eyes as he glared at her. But she paid this no mind as she stood between him and Bridget.
"Hang in there, Bridget." She said between clenched teeth. The burning pain of the whip was intensifying. She didn't know how she was going to save both Bridget and herself.
"Use your magic, Girl!" Bridget snapped in between gasping in pain. "It's the only way to get us both out!"
But Kallista hesitated.
Dusk looked around in disbelief then looked back at her and smiled. "You came alone? How good of you."
He began to pull tighter, drawing her nearer as she screamed in protest and pain.
Then out of nowhere, a huge dead tree came at him like a missile, seeking to pin him to the earth. Dusk let go of the whip and dodged the tree in the last moment, at the same time Kallista was blown backwards by a wind.  Someone raced by and grabbed her before she fell to the ground. She looked up and Necros stood in front of her facing Dusk and what was left of his army. Lillivale sat her down carefully and went to stand by Necros.
From every part of the forest her friends appeared, some holding weapons, some gathering fire with magic, and some doing both. They surrounded Dusk and his remaining army.
"Who said she was alone?"
Dusk cursed and muttered angrily. "This army wasn't even meant for you!"
"What was that, sweetheart?" Necros cocked his ear to Dusk. "I Didn't hear you!"
Dusk eyes burned with rage.
"I've had enough of this." He growled and turned to his few remaining followers. "What are you waiting for? Attack!"
At once the vampires did as their master commanded and attack.
Kallista turned to see Israel and Evangeline trying to free Bridget while the rest of them fought the vampires.
"Necros!" Israel called. "We need your help!"
Necros nodded and swept the five vampires he had been fighting, over to Leo and Lillivale.
"Now make sure you two share." He teased as he ran over to Israel.
Leo and Lillivale looked at each other for a moment.
"Dibs on those three!" Leo grinned and called forth electricity in his hands.
"We could call dibs?" Lillivale questioned, momentarily bemused.
"Oooooooh! Look at the pretty lights!" Leo taunted the vampires as Lillivale went on to do some damage on his own.. The vampires watched cautiously, entranced by the sparks Leo was making. Then Leo sent the bolts into them, killing them easily.
Using magic, Evangaline, Israel, and Necros carefully pried the metal trap from Bridget's body while the rest finished off the remaining vampires.
Kallista got to her feet unsteadily and spied her friend, Darkane a few feet away, fighting.
 Darkane's two curved Japanese knives whipped around swiftly killing one vampire and turned to do the same to it's companion.
 In one fluid motion, Kallista pulled the two thin knives that had been hidden in her sleeves and joined Darkane in her fight against three vampires. Ignoring her bleeding hand she went after the last vampire with a vengeance; happy to have something to take out her anger on. It seemed to fuel her strength and she beat the vampire easily.
All was quiet in the clearing of the forest as the friends paused realizing there were no more vampires. Necros had gathered Bridget up and was preparing to take her to Kenspeckle's.
He looked at Kallista who stood wearily with her hair hanging in her face and a bloody hand.
"You should get that fixed right way." He said quietly and then added. "Never do that again."
She bowed her head as he walked away, knowing what he meant. Then a gust of wind blew her hair back and Kallista knew he had gone using his power to get Bridget the medical help she needed.
She didn't look up when she heard someone else approached. A hand reached carefully for hers. Israel looked at her hand for a moment before speaking.
"It looks bad, but nothing that Kenspeckle can't handle." He told her. He pulled out a cloth from his pocket and tied it over her hand.
The others came closer and looked at her with unreadable expressions. But Kallista knew what they where thinking.
"Running into a forest by yourself with vampires running amuck is never a good idea." Nicolette spoke up for the rest of them.
"Yeah. we know your tough, but to try and take all of them on your own is ludicrous." Sarthacus added with a slight smile.
"You are such a greedy guts!" Darkane burst out. "You were going to take them all on your own? And leave none for us?"
"No you silly girl!" Florence said. "Sarthacus was just kidding about that. Wasn't he?"
"Something else called you into the forest." Israel guessed as he gazed searchingly at her. "But you don't wish to tell, do you?"
"No." Was all she said. She looked everywhere but at them.
Israel sighed.
"Alright then." He began. "We need to go and get your hand looked at by Kenspeckle."
As she left with the others, she realized she had never found the mysterious person. On hindsight she looked back once more, but saw nothing.

Part 4

The smile dropped from Necros' face and the glow began to fade from his eyes, changing from electric blue to a more hazel appearance. He muttered sharply under his breath and looked around in disgust. Lillivale was not looking much happier.
"Is this all there is?" Necros questioned, disappointed.
"Not much of a fight." Lillivale observed, exasperated. "Not worthy of my skills."
"Nor mine." Necros added tightly, sneering at the two Remnants. "let's go back and practice some more."
"Yeah. Sounds good." Lillivale replied with a shrug, then turned towards his comrades nonchalantly. "You guys can handle this, right?"
"Yeah! We'll be fine!" Skyril drawled cheerfully in her honey toned southern accent. "You two go on ahead!"
"We will join you later for afternoon tea." Miss Mary replied dryly in her elegant voice. But she wasn't looking at either Necros or Lillivale. She was looking on with amused contempt at the Remnants.
The two Remnant possessed people stood still for a moment. Then the first one stepped forward and screamed.
"You think we are outnumbered? You think we are weak? We've brought friends, too!"
"We won't be so easily defeated, you fools!" The other one spat.
"Alright!" Lillivale cheered up and turned back towards them with enthusiasm. "The more, the merrier!"
Necros also turned back with eager expectation, weapons held at defense position.
"Bring it on!" Florence snarled fiercely. "Nobody calls me a fool and gets away with it!"
The Remnents made a strange whistling sound that echoed throughout the building.
"What was that?" Sarthacus stepped back in disbelief and cocked his head. "Did you just whistle for help?"
"Just like the dogs they are." Dragona answered, with narrow eyes and a mocking smile as he observed the enemy. "The question is: Should we wait for the reinforcements and give them a sporting chance? Or should we attack now?"
"Attack NOW!" Roared Florence as she rushed up to the Remnants, swinging her two swords in a wide ark.
"Of course." Dragona shook his head knowingly, then went to back up Florence.
Kallista watched calmly from where she stood as Necros and Lillivale moved back outside to wait for the quickly advancing Remnant army. The two Remnants inside were slowly coming to the conclusion that the bodies they had chosen were not quite up to the task of fighting, nor even up to defending themselves.
"We need to find another body!" The first on hissed quietly at the other one, barely able to dodge the blow Florence gave.
The second one agreed without saying anything, but looked around desperately in between dodging Dragona, Florence, and Darkane's onslaught.
They spied Kallista sitting at a table appearing calm as if unaware of what was happening around her. She sipped on her tea once more then stood up gracefully and moved towards the door.
"I want that one!" The first one spat to his partner.
"Her? She's just a girl!" The other one sneered.
"Anybody is better then this one!" The first one snapped.
"Then hurry and take her and come back and help me!"
Florence dropped back startled as the body of the man fell and a glowing orb rushed out of his mouth.  It whizzed above the heads of it's tormentors as it sought it's next victim. There she was! She was moving out of the door. It streaked after her and was almost to her when, Flash! A streak of light blinded it and then it was destroyed.
Kallista turned and smiled at Necros who whipped his sword around happily.
"Thanks for the warm up, Kallista." He said.
"My gift to you." She nodded.  "Congratulations on the first kill! You ready for more? Because here they come."
She pointed to her left and right where the Remnant possessed were marching up the street towards them, along with a few other unsavory adversaries
"Vampires! " Necros observed. "Cool."
Inside Florence was doing a victory dance having just given the finishing blow to the second Remnant.  
"Alright, everybody! Party's out here now!" Lillivale called to them.
Without waiting, he rushed forwards and to the left then leapt up high over the heads of the possessed and vampires, landing in the middle. With a wicked fierceness he began taking them down using his bamboo stick and a block of steal, moving so fast he was almost hard to see.  Necros took the right side. His eyes began to glow an electric blue with a crimson hue. Before Kallista could blink, he disappeared with  flicker and teleported himself in the middle of his enemies, his katana starting to make short work of the Remnants.
The backlash of their power stirred up a forceful wind that blew Kallista's hat off her head. She raised her arms to protect herself against the debris that swirled around.
"The left side or the right?" Israel said to himself as he walked by her without stopping. Power rolled of him like waves.
"If you want a piece of the action, you better move quick." Mary warned as she walked beside him. "There is not going to be much left once those two are done."
She pointed to either side where Necros and Lillivale were.
"No worries." Israel said coolly. " Here comes a fresh batch of vampires."
"Well then," Mary cocked her head. "I'll take the right side."
"Sounds good to me." Israel replied and ran to join Lillivale, shooting at both Remnants and vampires with his double-barrel sawed off shotgun. His expert marksmanship found it's target every time he shot, killing instantly.
Kallista turned her head to see Florence and Skyril taking on a smaller group of remnants. Nicolette and Skylara were betting on who would finish their fight first; Necros or Lillivale.
"I say Necros!" Skylara said.
"Lillivale all the way!" Nicolette said at the same time.
"Fine." Skylara agreed, punching a stray remnant. "You owe me twenty bucks if Necros finishes first."
"Likewise." Nicolette replied finishing off the unlucky remnant. "If Lillivale is first."
"Fifty bucks to me if if they finish at the same time!" Kallista added from where she stood.
"Done!" Nicolette and Skylara said at the same time.
"One hundred bucks if those three actually join in with the fighting." Dragona muttered to Sarthacus as they fought back to back against vampires.
"Dream on, Dragona. They don't fight because they are intimidated by our manly strength!" Sarthacus teased. Kallista's eyes widened as he actually stopped fighting for a moment to strike a pose.
"Did I just hear that?" Skylara glared over at them.
Her silver eyes turned yellow as she ran towards them changing into a large beautiful wolf in mid leap. She viciously fought the vampires, killing them easily with her teeth and claws. Then she glared at Sarthacus who stood there and grinned at her. Reaching up her paw she tapped him.
"Don't get me going, Mister! I can beat you any day!"
"I'll let you go on believing that." he teased.
Nicolette found herself suddenly busy with fleeing remnants, falling away from both Necros' and Lillivale's groups. Leo joined her after electrifying a half dozen vampires that he had been wrestling with. The charred remains littered the ground. His hands buzzing with electricity he sent bolt after bolt into fleeing remnant, destroying them.
"Ah! There's nothing quite so exhilarating as killing vampires and remnants!" He breathed with a gleeful smile on his face.
The sunlight glinted off his ginger hair and his yellowish eyes shone brightly in the late Autumn afternoon.
"I agree!" Nicolette said with a smile as they surveyed their work.
Without thinking they slapped each others hands in a high five. Nicolette gave a little yelp as she clutch her hand to her. She stared at Leo whose face turned red.
He looked at his hand still glowing from the electricity. "Sorry....I forgot..."
Nicolette burst out laughing. "Don't worry about, Leo. It's no big deal."
Kallista smiled and turned her gaze from them back to see Mary effortlessly bringing down several vampires with her  Shaolin broadsword.  Everywhere she looked her friends were fighting. All except Bridget. Where was Bridget?
Then a shock ran through her like a sonic boom. She could feel something intense weighing on her making her feel weak. She turned to look at her comrades. But they appeared to not have felt anything.  Instinctively she looked to the woods and saw a lone figure dressed in a long dark cloak walking deeper into the trees. Strange, she thought as she moved cautiously forward. Who could it be? Bridget? Then a breeze rose up and blew the hood off the figure. The person chose that time to spare Kallista a lazy glance before going deeper into the woods. A face, the same as her own had looked at her! 

Kallista staggered and fell to the ground has reality lost it's hold on her. It was as if she were looking out of a long glass tube and viewing the world at a distance. She heard nothing, felt nothing. Just a numbness. For a moment she could do nothing but breath. Then all the pain and loneliness she had felt since the parting of her sister came rushing back and slamming into her like a freight train.
"KALLIOPE!" She screamed from the bottom of her tortured soul!
For a moment all fighting stopped as everyone turned and looked at her in astonishment. But she never noticed. She got unsteadily to her feet and ran with all the strength she had left,  into the woods after her long lost sister, who she had thought was dead!

Part 3

"We are heading to Hidden Brier as soon as we can." Dragona informed the group. An 83 year old who looked like 20, he was one of Kallista's martial arts teachers. That is when he wasn't busy doing an assignment for the Sanctuary. Now as he stood tall before everyone, his short brown hair dripped water just from the short distance between his car and the door. "Sanctuary orders. We will take over for some agents already there."
"You really need to start carrying an umbrella with you." Skyril smiled as she tossed him a towel.
He snatched it without difficulty then whipped it at Sarthacus who ducked out of the way. The towel landed softly on the floor.
"Who needs umbrellas? It's just a little rain! It won't kill anyone. But Sarthacus might need one!" He teased.
Sarthacus only smiled as he moved farther into the room. Evangeline who did bring an umbrella closed hers up in a fluid motion before coming in any further. Then they got down to business.
A specialized group of agents, those present were often called upon by the Sanctuary for cases such as these.
Uneasy, Kallista moved back to the window she had been by before and looked out.  A gathering wind was picking up speed, a fore warning of an early winter. Kallista watched through the heavy paned windows as the wind whipped through the rain, tearing up the fallen leaves in it's path. She was glad for the partial garage Kenspeckle had set up for vehicles such as hers.  But now even that was barely able to protect her ninja cycle from the wrath of the weather. Dragona's own vehicle was a special one: able to endure anything and go anywhere no matter what the season or weather. She looked on with envy , as it sat there still managing to shine despite the wind and rain.  Soon she wouldn't be able to even ride her Ninja cycle anymore!  Life just wasn't fair to a sixteen year old, sometimes! , she turned her back on the car as if to snub it. She straitened her already poised figure and gathered her thoughts on the information Dragona, Evangeline, and Sarthacus had brought with them.  As she listened to what they where saying she was able to piece together the details and understand the problem.
The town of Hidden Brier had been experiencing strange occurrences and disappearances lately of it's citizens.  Understandably, the town was shook up and bewildered by these unexplained events and becoming quite frightened. The Sanctuary had caught wind of this and had suspected that dark magic was behind it.  Skulduggery had been the one requested to take care of the problem. But he was tied up with another important matter, one that was a mystery to the rest of them. Skulduggery had passed it on to his co-worker and friend, Israel Elysium. Acting quickly Israel then had explained the situation to several of his close friends who were with him at the time. He then had sent Dragona, Sarthacus, and Evangeline ahead of him to warn the others. Which brought them to this point in time. 
"My guess is that Vampires are involved." Mary Hiashi spoke smoothly in a light English accent.  Dressed in a black ninja style outfit she posed a formidable presence. Her long onyx black hair hung smoothly down her slender back and her crimson eyes flashed at the mere thought of a vampire. 
"Vampires? I was thinking Remnents" Bridget Whiplash spoke up with steel in her smile. One of the few vampires that was employed by the Sanctuary, she moved with impossible grace, edging around Leo Sparks to stand before Mary.
"Hello Bridget." Mary nodded to her comrade.
"Right back at ya." She said evenly. 
"Could be both." Jodi threw out from her corner of the room. She was focused on her laptop and had not bothered to get of her chair to join the rest of them.
"I think the towns haunted by ghosts!" Florence said dramatically with big eyes.
"There's no such thing as ghosts." Leo remarked, rolling his eyes.
"There is too, ya old coot!" She shot back at him, pouting. "Don't make me mad, 'cause I'll curse you and make you bald!"
"Yeah, OK. " He laughed easily. He reached out and rubbed her head affectionately. "Kids! You got to love 'em!"
 Another argument began only to be interrupted by the Arrival of Israel, Darkane, Nicolette, and Skylara.
"Let's make this brief!" Israel began briskly as he went to the long meeting table in the center of the room. "We don't have any time to wast!"
"We believe it to be Dusk who is behind this." Nicolette continued without missing a beat. "One of our agents who is there, believes that Dusk is in league with a band of Remnents."
"Of course!"Leo rolled his eyes. "It's always Dusk!"
"We think that Dusk has made a deal with the Remnents over the people of Hidden Ridge." Darkane said.  
"You mean like, 'he gets some and they get some,' sort of thing? Splitting people down the middle?" Skyril asked, appalled.
"Gross!" Florence yelled! "That's just sick! I wanna kick his @$$!"
"You'll get your chance." Israel assured her.
Necros and Lillivale where already half way done packing. While everyone else had been speaking, the two men had been inspecting their weapons and readying them for battle. Necros' eyes gleamed in anticipation. Lillivale couldn't keep the smile off his face. How he hated vampires and Remnents! Well, all except for Bridget Whiplash. Evan Dragona liked her despite his deep hatred of vampires.
    As everyone gathered around the table to discuss the situation, Kallista hung back and wrestled with her thoughts. Like ghosts, the past rose up and haunted her memories.  She looked outside again at the stormy gray scenery, shivering at the sound of the howling wind.  It was a good day to be inside.  Elegantly, but as nondescript as she could be, she moved towards the massive fireplace trying to quell the chill her memories brought on.
    Two years back, in the dark woods. She leaned her head gently against the mantle, dizzy all of a sudden. She closed her lovely eyes in horror.
Something sinister had been there that night. Something besides her and Eli; her teacher and captor. It had happened during a time of rare calm and peace between the two of them. With only a fire to warm them and light their surroundings, they had sat in silence eating a meager meal that cool Autumn evening.
Then, an unexpected blast of wind with the force of a truck had abruptly blown her off her seat, high into the air. She had landed hard some distance away; far from the flames of the campfire.  Stunned, she could not move. Lying flat on her back all she could see were the stars above.  In the background of her senses, she could hear intense screaming, echoing around the forest for a long time. Fear had held her down like a cold prison as she had realized in shock,  it had been Eli screaming so horribly. Eli Lonestar, skilled in the Ninja arts and the Samurai way, member of the magical community, was weeping and screaming in pain. A tortured soul. Something beyond even his skill was doing this! As she had lain there on the hard forest floor, a descending wave of powerlessness had fallen across her, rendering her helpless and weak. Eli had died by something evil that night, but Kallista had been spared. She didn't know why.
    With effort she brought up her hand then, striking herself in the face to release the hold the past had on her. Pale and shaken she forced herself to return to the present. She had forgotten that night up till now. But something about the events of  Hidden Brier and of that of the night in the woods, struck a cord of familiarity within her.
    Looking up, she hoped no one noticed the slip in her reserve; that she hadn't joined them.  But Evangeline was glancing over at her repeatedly, something unreadable in her expression. With narrowed eyes she realized it had nothing to do with her thoughts just now. Something else was up and it made Kallista feel even more unsettled. She found it hard to concentrate on what was being planned for Hidden Brier.
It wasn't till later when Evangeline pulled her aside that she found out what it was. 
    "Sorry to be the one to tell you this." Evangeline begun. "But it's been noted that that fellow who is after you: what's his name? .....Detective Simmons? Well, he's here in Ireland.  It seems as if he has found you."
    "Not yet he hasn't." Kallista replied coldly in her perfect voice. "He has no jurisdiction here."
Dragona overheard as he passed by.
    "Kallista. Israel and I looked into it and have found out that he has joined with Interpol." He said quietly. "He does have jurisdiction, now."
    "The Sanctuary is very concerned. " Evangeline continued, glaring at Dragona for interrupting. "They don't want a confrontation between the International police and themselves. The magical community cannot be discovered!"
    "I'll take care of it." She replied calmly, her Mona-Lisa smile in place "It is my problem after all."
 Dragona and Evangeline exchanged glances as she walked off. As one of the newer members of their league, she had proven to be invaluable to them. But she also had more growing to do; both physical and magical. And while she was a good team member, she had a habit a being aloof. They needed her and she needed them. The only trouble was that she didn't always realize this yet.
    The next day proved to be a drastic change over the day before. Even though it was still cool, the sun blazed brightly from above in the blue sky. They all had arrived in Hidden Brier.
  Kallista's part in it the plan was simple. She was to locate a place to trap the Remnents. After that she was to place wards to keep away the non magical folks. Her instincts then led her to  the Cafe Habana.      
    It was a nice cafe. Brightly lit with natural sunlight filtering through the large window in the front. Several smaller arched windows were along both sides of the old building. It was everything Kallista hoped a Cafe to be. Lovingly restored, the brick building was a mixture of urban vibe and exotic decor. The good people here served a variety of teas along with their coffees, lattes, cappuccinos and delicious confections. The smells these items left was simply divine. It really was a perfect place to relax and hang out. To bad it wouldn't remain so.
    Kallista sat alone drinking chamomile tea and holding a folded newspaper delicately in her hand as if reading: as if she was an ordinary customer. But she wasn't. The regulars who came there and the employees who worked there found themselves with a strange and strong desire to climb trees in the the park across town.  
Her sharp eyes, though hidden beneath her hat were watchful. She noted the positions of the gang posted inside the Cafe. Nicolette and Evangeline sat together to her right, chatting calmly like friends usually do. Darkane, Mary Hiashi, and Israel sat by the Coffee bar in the center, posing as young business colleges having a mini meeting.  Behind the bar stood Skylara, Skyril, and Leo Sparks, posing as the baristas.  To her left, appearing to be working on their laptops sat Alex Night and Aquila Felis.
All the rest stayed hidden on the outside. It was time. Kallista could smell them coming. Remnents. The smell of rotting souls getting stronger by the moment. Kallista sent a bit of magic in the earth by taping her foot. The magic was connected to each of her colleges and used to signal them. The Remnents were here! Then, the front doors opened with a ring. Two Remnets walked in wearing the bodies of what used to be a middle aged couple.
"Oooohhh. Fresh meat!" One said softly as it eyed Skylara and Skyril. "Perfect for Dusk."
"Quiet you fool!" The other one hissed in a whisper. "Mustn't alarm least not yet!"
The two Remnents laughed nastily under their breaths as they looked around.
"Well, this whole place is perfect for Dusk!" The first one sneered.
"Who cares about Dusk! Let's ditch these bodies and get a couple of those!" It pointed at Nicolette and Evangeline.
"Ewwww!" Evangeline spat in disgust, standing to her feet. "As if I'd let you near my body!"
She drew her sword.
Nicolette sighed and shook her bent head as Evangeline rushed the ambush.
"What is this!" The first Remnent cried out in surprise.
"It's an ambush, you idiot!" The other one screamed. "Let's get out of here!"
Suddenly the front window shattered in a million pieces! Two muscle bound men leaped through with ease, landing with power in the center of the room sending shock waves throughout. Freaked out, the Remnents looked from the two grinning men to the roomful of occupants, all of them carrying weapons. Calmly from behind Necros and Lillivale stepped Bridget, Sarthacus, Florence, Dragona, and Jodi Harte.
"So," Necros said happily. "Now that we are all here, do ya wanna play?"

Part 2

Rain droplets ran down the window in rivulets  obscuring the view outside. Kallista leaned her forehead against the cool glass surface, trailing the droplets with her finger.  Behind her she could hear the voices of Skyril and Florence raised in discussion of which weapon was the better choice for fighting zombies; swords or daggers. Smiling slightly, she turned to face them. Where but here could one find such a discussion taking place? Certainly not in the normal routine of a regular mortal.
It had been over a year since Kallista joined the Irish magical community but it felt like she had been part of it forever.
Skyril was sitting back on a luxurious leather sofa, casually flipping and catching her daggers as she spoke. "Zombies are gross, Florence. Who wants to even get near them?" She wrinkled her pretty nose in disgust. "So you can see where daggers come in handy, now don't you?" She wore all black except for her deep purple gloves and the matching wide scarf wrapped around her slender waist.  Her purple highlights shimmered in contrast to her deep black hair.  She made a throwing movement as if to kill an imaginary zombie.
"Pow!" She smacked her lips. "That's all it takes to kill a zombie. Simple and effective."
But Florence was not having any of that. She stood intently over her friend waving a sword in front of Skyril's face.
"Yes, but this sword is much more powerful and can take out millions of zombies in ONE swipe!" Her long black hair also streaked with purple highlights, swung around her as she shook her sword again.
Skyril raised one eyebrow at the girl. "A million zombies, Florence?"
"OK, not a million. But still, a lot!" She insisted, her charcoal black eyes blazing.
She began to pace the room in her fishnet tights and knee high boots. Her checkered red and black skirt swirled around her graceful legs. 
"All you old people are alike!" She was saying as she gestured wildly. Kallista laughed as she looked at Skyril. The girl might be in her seventies, but she looked like a sixteen year old. Florence was interrupted by a deep booming sound followed closely by a medium sized quake.
Kallista had braced herself holding onto the wall, but Florence fell backwards with a little scream.
"Let me guess, Necros and Lillivale?" She asked sarcastically as she struggled to stand. Idly she blew several stray strands of black and purple hair from her eyes. "You could have told me!"
She glared accusingly at Skyril, who just smiled and ignored her.
"Sorry...we old people tend to have short memories" She replied demurely, fluttering her eyelashes innocently.
"Necros and Lillivale will be practicing their fighting techniques today." Kallista offered, hiding a smile.
"Gee, thanks Kallista!" Florence snapped as another quake rocked the room. "One would think you would be on my side seeing as we about the same age!"
"I'm on everybody's side." Kallista responded grandly, sweeping her hands wide.
They were interrupted by Clarabelle who came in sputtering and tripping over her feet in her hast. Another boom reverberated the room and Clarabelle screamed. She had always been frightened of both Necros and Lillivale and had always tried to be someplace else when they came for practice. Kenspeckle had designed a special arena for them in the basement of the building next door, to help contain the noise and sheer strength of the two men.
In the corner of the room sat Jodi Harte, listening to her ipod. Kallista noted with interest Jodi wore a pair of white skinny trousers and a pretty teal blouse.
Hmmm she must have had a successful day, Kallista thought to herself. Indeed, Jodi wore a pleased expression on her gorgeous face. She had black hair that framed that gorgeous face in a layered bob and rainbow colored clips in her hair. Her 3 inch heels tapped the rhythm of the song she was listening to. The practice sessions between Lillivale and Necros never seemed to faze her.
She remembered briefly the first time she had met Jodi. It had been ten months ago near China Sorrows' place. The most spectacular vehicle she had ever seen came roaring down the road. It was a Gumpert Apollo. The gleaming car slid to a stop and a sleek woman stepped out wearing colorful clothing with rainbow clips in her hair. She didn't even spare Kallista and Valkyrie a glance as she strode up to the door. Only a careless wave in Valkyrie's direction gave clue to a greeting.
"Jodi Harte." Was all Valkyrie said with a smile.
"I want that car." Was all Kallista could say.
Later she had managed to talk with Jodi Harte. It hadn't been easy but she had convinced Jodi she was worth talking to. Jodi Harte had become one of her first teachers in this new world of magic and had taught her other useful things as well. A smile played upon her face as she thought of the benefits she had reaped under Harte's tutelage. She glanced out of the window. There it was. Next to Harte's car was a silver and black Ninja Motorcycle.
She had shown up one day with it several months ago, surprising everyone.
"Nice ride." Evangeline Crow, another one of her friends had commented. "How did you get that?"
But she smiled her Mona Lisa smile and never told anyone. Across the room, Jodi had smiled smugly, pleased with her protegee.
A scream broke through her reverie bringing her back to the present. Kallista looked up and saw Clarabelle pressing herself to the wall, trying to escape the notice of the two men who strolled into the room. Necros and Lillivale were discussing the finer points of battle. Their voices mixing in with that of Skyril's and Florence. The men took no notice of Clarabelle. With a scream, Clarabelle ran from the room, past the three people who just walked in.
Dragona and Sarthacus took no notice, preoccupied with something of great importance. But Evangeline looked back at the fleeing figure of Clarabelle curiously.
"Huh! Must be Necros and Lillivale again." She mused as she turned back around. Then she caught sight of them. "I was right!" She gave a little laugh.
"Everyone!" Sarthacus called out. "I have a message from Skulduggery."
They all stopped what they were doing and looked at him. Even Jodi paid attention.  Kallista knew then it must be something important.
"There is trouble in a nearby town. Skulduggery can't get to it right now and needs our help."
"Great." Skyril spoke calmly as she stood up and put her daggers away. "When do we leave?"