“That man down there…..is her brother?" Darkane spoke in astonishment.
"Well, yes." Florence answered amused. "Take a look. Can't you see the resemblance?"
"Of course I can see the resemblance!" Darkane shot back irritated. Florence’s hair whipped her in the face again. "But I thought Israel said her family where all dead. I’m going to check into it anyhow. Make sure he is legitimate”
"Oh, Israel!" Florence whistled in alarm. "He's not going to like it she left the building again."
"Your right." Darkane furrowed her brow in concern and reached for the phone. "We are going to have to report this."
Florence placed her hand firm on Darkane's hand stopping her. She didn't look up from her view of Kallista.
"What do you mean?" Darkane asked as she pulled away and dodged the long strands of Flo's hair. "This is our one task given to us by Israel! To watch over her and make sure she follows his instructions. You heard him!"
"Yes I did." Flo smiled as she strolled back to the door leading downstairs. "But I've an idea. Come on!"
“My name is Kristos Ambrosia. I have been in Greece all these years, never knowing you were alive.” He explained smoothly and carried with him an air of sophistication and power. His high fashion and expensive clothes spoke volumes of his wealth. He wore his long thick hair back in a sleek ponytail. “I‘m part of the delegation that has come over for the International Magical Leader’s Conference.”
Kallista could hardly breath with this revelation. It was a lot of information in such a short time. And the International Magical Leader’s Conference? Never had she heard of that. It spoke of bigger things beyond her understanding. The world seemed to be spinning around her and she found herself tipping forward.
Kristos caught her just as she fell. He picked her up easily and carried her over to a garden bench in front of the building.
“You are ill and outside in the cold.” He frown in concern as he took off his overcoat and draped it around her. “How thoughtless of me. All I wanted to do was see if it was true, that one of my little sisters had survived.”
“Yes. I survived. But barely.“ She spoke for the first time, her voice soft as a whisper. “How did you know there was only one twin who survived if you just came to Ireland?”
“Similar reason I know you are a Pendragon. I know what you felt that day in the forest and just now. Think of it as a calling card. It has always been the Pendragon creed to help another Pendragon when ever help was needed. A magical pulse would be sent out that only another Pendragon could feel. A responding pulse would be sent back by the nearest Pendragon. I sent out a magical pulse after first setting foot in this country, a habit I have done when ever visiting another country. Normally I have not been answered. But this time was different. A faint pulse answered mine. Without knowing it, you sent me a response, Kallista. But I did not get one for our sister, Kalliope.”
“So Pendragon is….a family name?” Kallista murmured and turned away in thought. “Is it possible that Pendragon is not my taken name? I had though our mother gave it to us for protection as children.”
He turned away and looked off into the distance sadly.
“There is so much to tell you. I have not seen you both since you both were small and never thought I would see my sisters again.”
Kallista was torn between elation and fury.
“How in the world did we end up in a ORPHANAGE if we had a FAMILY!”
She couldn’t help it. She shouted.
He didn’t flinch or turn away. He looked at her for a moment, considering.
“I will tell you all you need to know, Kallista.” He began quietly. “But first we need to get you back inside. I need to find out who your guardian is and speak with them and-”
He broke off as she looked sheepishly away.
“What’s the matter Kallista?” He asked kindly.
“I don’t have a guardian.” She responded. “Well, technically I do. The Ireland Sanctuary, specifically under the team of Israel Elysium.”
“Your guardians are a team of people?” He tilted his head incredulous. “ I see you have much to share with me as well.”
“Indeed.” She answered.
She was pleased to see that he smiled the same Mona Lisa smile, as some liked to call it, as she did.
“I’m staying in Dublin in the Residence set aside for Greek Emissaries and Dignitaries.” He informed her. “I would like is if you would join me. We could catch up on our lives and I could share with you about your heritage.”
Kallista did not hesitate. “I’ll go get my things. It will only be a moment”
“Do you need any help?” He asked concerned. “I could have my driver help you.”
He pointed to the sleek black limo behind him. “Yes. Blake is my driver while I’m here in Ireland.”
“No thanks. I don’t have much.” She smiled and shook her head, amazed by her brother.
Gingerly she headed back inside the building cursing her weakness. A piece of paper caught her attention as she entered. It fluttered about in the draft from the door then settled on the ground, a note that had escaped someone’s notice. Tentatively she picked it up and gazed, curious at the writing. Her eyes widened in surprise.
“Octaboona.” She read out loud.
It was the same name that Kenspeckle had uttered earlier. Looking around she hid the note in her hands. Something told her to hold onto it.
Without any further delay she made it back to her temporary room. As she had told her brother, there was not much to pack and in moments she was finished. She was relieved that Kenspeckle was not around. With Israel and her other comrades away and not expected to be back for a while, there was no one to stop her. Or so she thought.
As she turned around with her bag in hand she was surprised to see Florence and Darkane there blocking her way and looking like cats who had just caught a rat.
“Well, your in an awful big hurry.” Florence spoke as she walked towards Kallista, reminding her of a tiger stalking it’s prey.
Kallista got the feeling she was the prey and didn’t like it. Uneasily she stepped back keeping a close eye on them.
“Where do you think you are going?” Darkane narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
Kallista hesitated for a moment then pushed by Darkane and Florence.
“I’m sorry. But I must go.” She called over her shoulder as she hastened down the hallway, watchful for Kenspeckle. “I know what I’m doing. Don’t follow me!”
“Israel and the others won’t like that you are leaving.” Florence’s said coyly. “Necros won’t like that you are leaving either.”
Kallista hesitated, standing with her back to them. For a moment she did not move. Then she spoke quietly.
“Please don’t tell Israel or Necros I have gone. I promise I will be back before they come home.” She spoke with a slightly panicked voice.
“I will promise not to tell Israel if you promise to do me a favor in return.” Florence responded slyly.
Kallista turned then and narrowed her beautiful eyes suspiciously.
“I don’t know what you have in mind Flo. But if the favor includes something insane, illegal, or dangerous, I will not promise anything!”
“Not even a chance to go off with your brother without consequences?” Flo laughed mockingly.
Kallista’s eyes widened ever so slightly. Most people would not have noticed. But Flo saw.
“Yes Kallista. I guessed.” Her smile widened.
She waited for a moment enjoying Kallista’s inner battle of whether it was worth it to go or to stay. Finally she had a little pity.
“I promise I won’t ask you to do anything dangerous or illegal.”
Kallista nodded her head slowly in thanks, still suspicious.
“Oh! Go on! I promised, didn’t I?” Florence smiled widely.
“OK, then. I’ll leave.” She said slowly as she turned around. “I’m holding you to that, Florence.”
Quickly she walked down the rest of the hallway and disappeared around the corner.
“As I will hold you to your promise Kallista, dear.” Flo murmured quietly under her breath, smiling all the while.
Darkane started to follow frustrated then stopped when she saw Florence was not with her.
For a moment she stood torn between Kallista and Florence. She looked back and forth between them and winced when she heard the sound of the door shutting behind Kallista. Slowly she came back to Florence.
“This had better work” She snarled at Florence. “If something happens-”
She was cut off by Florence’s laugh.
“Nothing is gong to happen. We already saw he checks out. Kallista will be fine and….” Florence smiled deviously. “Kallista will be walking right into our trap. Revenge will be fun.”
Jodi Harte sat back in the leather chair and observed the bustle of men who stood before her, trying to maintain what dignity they had left. For a while now they had been in heated discussion, talking in that language of theirs.
Ossetia was really a beautiful country, she thought to herself as she looked out the grand window of the palace. Tanzania had been such a bore.
“Madam, President!” One spoke to her in halting English, trying to find the right words. His anxiousness showed through his distinguished demeanor.
“Queen.” Jodi corrected with a slight smile on her face. “You can call me Queen. What is your name again?”
“Eduard Shevardnadze, you Majesty!” He snapped his heels together and performed a little bow.
“Hmmm….I’m going to call you Shevard for short.” She waved her hand around at him lazily.
His face paled but she had to give him credit. He maintained his composure. He started to say something, his companions watching eagerly to see what would happen. A commotion at the office doors interrupted him. Through the massive double doors ,a group of well dressed men stormed in . All of them were wearing robes, a sign of their high status within the magical community. A few palace guards had tried to stop them but an Adept from the group froze him in place and rendered the rest of them unconscious.
“Oh good. The Elders of the Ossetic Sanctuary are here as expected.” Jodi’s smiled grew wider. “This should be fun!”
As the Elders and other Ossetic Sanctuary administrative personal approached her desk in fury, Jodi casually picked up one of her Sai swords and fingered it while eyeing the men with an amused expression.
“Sirs!” Shevard stood in their way, horrified and confused at the lack of protocol and use of magic. “This can not be tolerated!”
Jodi could not help but admire the mortal’s show of fortitude in the presence of the countries leading Sorcerers. But she knew that would not help him.
“Stand down Shevard.” She commanded quietly in a deadly voice as she gazed at the Sanctuary. “I will take care of these intruders. I was actually expecting them.”
Shevard stepped back with a look of astonishment at her words. The head Elder marched to the desk and threw a parchment in front of her.
“What is the meaning of this?” He snarled at her as he pointed at the letter.
“Didn’t you read it, Lord Peacock?” Jodi cocked her head mischievously and played with the clip in her hair while keeping the other hand over her Sai sword.
“Of course I read it, you usurper!” He shot back indignantly. “And that’s not my na-”
“I made it perfectly clear to you.” Jodi interrupted with a hard look in her eye. “Or are you not capable of understanding simple logic?”
“Logic?” Peacock’s face turned red. “All you said was that you have taken over as the head of our country and now are a part of the Ossetic Sanctuary as an honorary Elder!”
“Oh good! You did read it!” Jodi responded brightly. She leapt out of her chair in a flourish and began pacing behind the desk while twirling her Sai sword in fancy maneuvers, appearing to be deep in thought.
Peacock watched in horrid fascination, his eyes drawn to the gleaming wicked looking weapon. Suddenly Jodi stopped and pointed her sword at Peacock.
“If I recall right, there was an agreement made between your Sanctuary and the King of
Ossetia during the civil war of 1903.” She leaped onto the desk and kicked aside several objects in her way as she walked the width of it. Lightly she jumped down, keeping a sharp eye on Peacock the whole time. She stalked Peacock who backed away with the sword at his throat, his sweat beading heavily on his forehead. “You know what I’m talking about don’t you, dear Peacock?”
He gulped hard, struggling to speak but when he tried to use his magic, she laughed.
“Don’t think I wasn’t prepared for that, you codfish!” She sneered at him. “I had this room rigged so no magic other then mine could work!”
Her other Sai sword was suddenly in her other hand and she pointed it at the other Sanctuary council to keep them from running.
“Let me refresh your memories.” She continued cheerfully. “I’ll keep it simple for your feeble little minds. To make a long story short, you made a deal with the king during that era after he found out about magic and the sanctuary. You made him an honorary Elder of the Sanctuary Council in order to keep him quiet. But then a year later you had him assassinated and thought you had solved the problem.”
“You can’t prove anything!” One of the pallid faced Sanctuary fools said.
“Hush you swine!” Jodi snarled at him then looked back at Peacock driving the point of her sword into his fleshy neck a little further, causing a speck of blood to appear.
“Surely you know that agreement is invalid upon his death?” Peacock shook in fear.
“No it’s not Peacock.” She replied happily. “You wrote down the agreement to WHOEVER is head of the country. Not the ruler’s name in itself. You really need to be more careful.”
Peacock’s already pale face grew more white.
“Fine.’ He sputtered out. “I don’t know what this is going to gain you?”
Jodi lowered her swords at his conceding.
“There is a big event happening with all the magical leaders of the world, right?” She prodded, smiling again with her easygoing smile.
But Peacock was not fooled anymore. He had seen how dangerous she could be.
He nodded. “Yes. The International Magical Leader’s Conference. But only the heads of the Sanctuary can be invited.”
His voice dwindled as he looked at her, his eyes wide. “So this is what you were after…”
“Bingo.” She winked. “Now if you excuse me, I have a ball to get ready for.”
With a start Kallista awoke from a deep sleep and for a moment struggled to remember where she was. The room she was in was spacious and luxurious with a elaborate fireplace at one end. Nothing like her own room. Everything felt foreign and surreal as memories flooded back into her. She let them come as she lay there on the pillow. The prevailing thought that kept coming back to her was that she was with her brother, safe in the vast elegant residence set aside for the Greek delegation. Had it only been yesterday she arrived? It felt like forever.
A maid, stout and determined, bustled in with a tray of fresh fruits and orange juice. She set it down on one of the side tables then busied herself opening up the ornate curtains covering the large windows. Kallista blinked at the sudden light pouring in from the sun. Quickly she turned away and groaned as a wave of tiredness swept over her.
“You OK, Miss?” The maid asked politely as she pulled out an outfit for Kallista to wear.
Making up her mind, Kallista gritted her teeth and set slowly up in her bed. She hated being weak. The fight with Israel had left her more weak then she thought.
“I’m fine.” She lied. “Um…you don’t have to do that. I can manage.”
The maid just gave her a reproachful look.
“Sorry Miss.” She said as she lay the garment over a chair. “I’m following orders. My name is Mrs. O'Malley. I will be assisting you during your stay here.”
Kallista sighed and struggled to get out of bed then promptly fall on her face, fine Egyptian cotton sheets twisted all around her. A shriek of frustration escaped her lips. How come she was so weak?
Through the long black strands of her hair she looked to see her brother entering the bedroom. He was impeccably dressed. She looked down at her own nightgown and felt self conscious. Her brother strolled over to her and helped her up and into a nearby sofa chair.
“I don’t understand why I am still so weak” She moaned as she leaned forward and rested her head in her hands. Her heavy hair swung forward hiding her face.
Kristos took the glass of orange juice from the tray and pressed it into her cold hands.
“Here, Kallista. Drink this.” He ordered gently, then began to pace the room.
“From what you told me last night of your kidnapping ordeal, I would say the amount of magic you used hurt you.”
“Hurt me?” Kallista lowered the glass after taking a sip, mystified. “How can me using magic hurt?”
“Well, it’s sort of like a beginner in gymnastics attempting a triple back flip without any training.” He explained as he casually paced the room. “I imagine a person attempting to use muscles not yet conditioned for such an act would suffer terribly.”
He turned towards her then with a gentle reproachful look in his eyes. “You used a tremendous amount of magic recently Kallista and it hurt you. It‘s going to take a while for you to recover. You are going to need to start working on your magic skills to build yourself up.”
She leaned her head back in the comfortable chair wearily and looked away sadly, thinking of her sister. ”I know.”
Kristos sighed and walked over to her and laid his hand kindly on her shoulder.
“When you feel better, come downstairs. I would like to show you something.”
He left the room then, passing by Mrs. O'Malley who dipped in a little curtsy.
For the hundredth time she wondered just who her brother was?
“Shall we get started Miss?” Mrs. O'Malley spoke as she advanced on Kallista, a indomitable look on her face and the light blue dress in her arms.
Sighing, Kallista resigned herself to the hands of the maid. A little while later she was walking down the black and white tiled hallway admiring the artwork on the walls and wondering how anyone could walk in high heels. Where the beautiful clothes had come from she did not know. All she knew was that they had arrived within an hour of her arrival last night.
“Must have you looking respectable seeing how your brother is of the noble class.” Mrs. O'Malley had said.
“Nuts with this.” Kallista muttered as she passed by a mirror and caught a glimpse of herself. A little princess gazed back at her, looking delicate and demure.
“Oh, how they all would laugh at me now.“ She muttered darkly, thinking of her friends.
Quickly, she tore off her matching blue ribbon out of her hair hating the fact she looked closer to a ten year old then a sixteen year old. She missed her sword and other weapons. Briefly she thought of going back to get them but thought of Mrs. O’Malley’s stern face and shuddered.
“Old dragon!“ She muttered, not wanting to face that strict maid again. Dragon O'Malley had been clear that weapons where not allowed to be worn within the Embassy‘s Residence.
As she walked, her gaze was drawn to the huge beautiful window at the end of the hall by the stairs. The light filtered in gently through the colored stain glass, painting soft colors on the floor. She found she wanted to stay there, entranced by the light and colors that spoke of beauty and peace. A thumping interrupted her thoughts. It took her a moment to realize someone was tearing up the stairs.
“Stop! Thief!” A frantic voice called from below.
A slight figure clothed in black sprinted towards her, shattering the brief spell Kallista had been under.
A ninja, Kallista saw in astonishment. The masked person held a heavy ancient looking book under his arm.
Not stopping to think, Kallista moved in low forgetting about her dress and high heels. All she knew was someone was stealing from her brother. Anger flushed her face as she slammed into the figure. She reached out with lightning quick reflexes and snatched the book from the intruder, careful not to damaged the book. She was vaguely aware of several staff watching, frightened from the stairs as she fought the thief. Whoever the person was, he was good. Kallista could barely hold her own as the person lashed out with fists and kicks, managing to strike more blows then she could give. Another punch knocked her head back sending her crashing into an antique table. Nimbly she pulled the ninja with her into the fall, determined not to let the would be thief get away. With a well aimed fist she sucker punched the intruder and was surprised to hear a feminine grunt from the ninja. In an instant she twisted the ninja’s arm, flipping her over onto the floor, pinning her there with her knees.
“Who are you?” She shouted through gritted teeth as she kept the thief’s arm twisted in her grasp. “Why are you stealing from my brother?”
Her head snapped up at the sound of her brother’s voice and heard him running up the stairs.
“Are you all right?” He called as he neared the top.
The thief took the moment to kick Kallista off her and throw her back. Kallista crashed against the other wall as the thief ran straight for the glass window.
“No!” Kallista shouted as she staggered to her feet and took off after her.
Running past the shocked faces of the several staff, the ninja broke through the beautiful glass window, shattering it into a million pieces and jumped down the two stories below. The staff covered their faces as the flying glass fell everywhere. But Kallista just stood there amid the shower of color, not aware of the cuts to her face she was receiving. A stunned sadness washed over her as the peacefulness that the window had symbolized was shattered. Numbly she walked to the window and looked out to see the retreating figure of the ninja slip away into the distance. Several security guards gave chase, but to no avail.
“Kallista.” Her brother spoke her name gently as he stood at the top of the stairs.
He nodded to the servants with an unspoken command. Quickly they set off into different directions to repair the damage to the hallway and the window. One went to retrieve the book where it had fallen.
“Are you unhurt?” He asked quietly as he walked over to his sister.
“I let her get away.” Was all Kallista said as she stared after a person she could no longer see. “I’m sorry brother.”
“Don’t apologize, Kallista.” He said as he guided her down the stairs. “You are a little cut and bruised but mainly unhurt. That is all I’m concerned about.”
Upon hearing this she stopped and looked back up at the broken furniture, the fallen paintings in the hallway and then at the broken window. She saw that her dress, only new this morning was now torn and stained with a few droplets of blood, and without looking knew her face told a story of a fight that had been lost.
Frowning slightly she raised an eyebrow at him.
“That is all that matters?” She questioned him. “I have brought you nothing but trouble since my arrival and let a thief get away.”
“But the thief did not get away with the book.” He said as he started back down the stairs. “Come with me to the library. We can take our breakfast in there and I will show you what’s in the book. But first, we need to tend to your cuts.”
In a back street dimly lit alley, Rosella Embers tore off her mask and glared furiously back in the direction of the Greek Residence. Who the hell was that girl? She had looked like a little useless china doll but had fought with a skill similar to her own.
“She’s DEAD!” She roared out as she touched the wounds to her own face.
Strands of long brown hair had worked it’s self free from her fishbone braid and hung limply across her stormy dark gray blue eyes.
“I’m going to have a blasted BLACK EYE!”
“Calm down Miss Embers.” A smooth voice admonished her lightly.
Rosella didn’t even turn around.
“Hello Dusk. Do you have my money?”
“Of course. It’s all right here.”
With a flick of his wrist he tossed the envelope toward her. She reached up and snatched it from the air without looking.
“I still don’t know why I didn’t have to kill anyone.” She spoke coldly as she counted her money. “What’s so important about that book anyway?”
“Killing is not part of my employer’s plan at this moment.” Dusk replied amicably as he watched her. “As for the book, that’s none of your business. Are we finished Miss Embers?”
She snapped up her head then and gazed at him with steel glinting in her eye and nodded.
“Next time, I will kill her for FREE!”
Dusk laughed softly but narrowed his eyes.
“We will take that into consideration Miss Embers. But keep this in mind. My employer needs her to remain alive for now. If anything harms or kills her before the planed time, you can be sure your days will be numbered.”
Kristos had the antique book opened to a page that had the most intricately drawn sword Kallista had ever seen. It's beauty leaped off the page. It looked like a sword from the Middle Ages.
They had just finished a light breakfast after having her cuts tended to and Kallsita could barely contain her impatience. She was so close to having so many questions answered.
"This book contains our family history up till the birth of you and your sister." Kristos said reverently. "Up till then it magically kept the record of the Pendragon legacy. After your birth the pages remained blank."
A magic book? In her short time living with in the magical community she had never heard of such a thing. She flipped the book to the back, enjoying the feel of the old heavy paper and the fine leather binding.
“This must be very rare.” She spoke softly.
“It is.” He smiled then casually reached across her and turned the page to a picture of a beautiful woman. Kallista caught her breath sharply. She recognized the features so close her own.
"Our mother." Kristos nodded gravely. "You are much like her. Trinity Blue was her taken name. Serena Pendragon was her given name."
"My father?" She looked up curiously.
"A great man he was." Kristos said softly. "His taken name was Tristan Wild. His given name was secret, kept hidden in this book. What a pair those two made. Some called them The Wild Blue."
He turned the page and showed a picture of a spectacular couple standing together, holding on to their swords and looking off into the distance with fierce looks on their faces.
“Why was his name a secret?“ Kallista asked mystified.
For a moment Kristos did not say anything. He walked over to one of the huge library windows and stood there.
“I’m sure growing up you have heard of fairies, elves, and other magical beings.” Kristos begin cautiously.
“I have.” Kallista begin then stopped as a bizarre thought came to her, “You are not suggesting….that they are real, are you?”
He laughed softly. “Not real in the way they are written in children’s fairy tales.”
He came back over and flipped the pages of the book back, until they were near the beginning and pointed to the first paragraph.
“We are descended from a magical race called, the Tuatha Dé Danann.” He said. “That is the part of us that is not human. Our ancestors were often called fairies by the mortals who caught glimpses of them. Somewhere down the line, the Pendragon and Tuatha Dé Danann were united through a marriage. As you have guessed, our mother is descended from them. She met our father while on a mission in Spain. He was also on a mission but soon they fell in love and he took her back to his home in Greece for a while. However, she needed to be back home for that is where her magical roots are.”
Another smaller picture caught her attention on the next page.
"That's Eli Lonestar." She said in astonishment. "He's the one who stole me away from the orphanage.
They both looked at the face of Eli. A man once tall and gaunt looking with a disagreeable face.
"Eli was in the employment of our family." Kristos's voice turned cold at the mention Eli's name. "He betrayed us and tried to steal our family book."
“He was murdered in front of me one night.” Her voice lowered to a whisper remembering that awful night. “I never saw what it was, but I knew it was not human. He died but for some strange reason I was spared.”
“Justice was served.” Kristos said in a deep hard voice, so soft she was not even sure he spoke.
He turned the book to a section revealing missing pages, torn roughly from the binding.
"When he saw he could not steal the book successfully he ripped these pages out."
"But why? What is so important about this book?"
"I believe it was this sword." Kristos responded, turning the pages back to the picture of the magnificent sword she had seen in the beginning.
“What is so special about that sword?” She wondered out loud. “It certainly is beautiful enough. But there are other beautiful swords out there that are easier to come by.”
“This one is special, Kallista.” Kristos spoke again with reverence as he gazed at the picture of the sword. “This one was made specially for one lineage of the Pendragon family. Our family. Sadly, the sword was lost during the Renaissance era.”
As Kallista picked up the book a little blue gem rolled out of the center of the book and on to the table. “An Echo Stone?”
Kristos cast it an unimpressed look before turning away. “Yes. We have an Echo Stone. But it’s defective. No one has been able to get it to work. Yet we keep it with the book for that is where it was placed so long ago by one of our ancestors.”
A servant walked in then and glanced at her nervously before bobbing a curtsy to her brother.
“Countess Vonda Verlise is here, Your Grace.” She spoke with a careful respectful voice.
Kristos merely nodded a dismissal at the maid and she left after giving another curtsy.
“How unexpected..” He murmured to himself then remembered Kallista. “I’m sorry Kallista. I have a guest today who has come a bit early. I need to meet with her. Feel free to use the library to look at the book. I will have it put back in our vault when you are done.”
He gave her a little formal bow and left. For a moment she felt lost again, wanting to follow after him and be with him, her family. Slowly she turned back to the book and Echo stone. Lost in her thoughts she picked up the Echo stone, turning it around in her hands. From her fingers a faint blue glow appeared. Small at first it grew brighter quickly, reflecting in her surprised eyes. Setting the stone down hastily she stood up and backed away.
There within the glow, a woman stood with long curly red hair that hung down her slender back. Vivid colors of purple, silver, and gold adorned her clothes signifying twelfth century royalty. She turned to face Kallista, her face young but her blue eyes ageless. She looked quietly at Kallista for a moment then began to speak. Her voice, a beautiful deep melodic sound.
“So you are the next bearer of Victrix Aequita. I am pleased to find you at last.” The woman smiled warmly but seemed a little hesitant. “You do seem a bit young though.”
“Excuse me?” Kallista managed to choke out, astounded and confused. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand. What is this about Vic-…er…..umm…what did you say?”
Alarm begin to show on the woman’s face
“The Sword, child. Surely you know of the sword. It is a Pendragon legacy.”
Kallista could only shake her head as the woman looked around for the first time, taking in her surroundings.
“I’m sorry, er…umm…echo stone lady. But I just read about the sword for the first time today.” Kallista tried to speak gently. “I really don’t even know much about anything concerning my family. I was told your echo stone didn’t even work. Yet, there you are!”
“Yes. Here I am.” The lady said more subdued. “Judging from the looks of things, I have been dead for a while. Pray tell. What year is this?”
“It is year 2011.” Kallista informed her carefully, sensing something was bothering her ancestor.
The Lady turned away for a moment then looked sharply at the book.
“This is not good news.” She began gravely. “So much time has passed since the last wielder of the sword was around, which was me.”
“My brother said it was lost during the Renaissance era.” Kallista informed the Lady.
“Ah, your brother. I hope the Pendragon line is flourishing.”
Kallista decided not to tell her of her dwindling family and tried to change the subject.
“Why is it that you appeared to me but to no one else after all these years?”
“It is because this echo stone is set to only respond to the one chosen to be the next keeper of the sword.” The Lady informed her. “Almost always the stone chooses a girl. But there was an instance where the stone chose a boy. But that is a story for another time. Right now I need to share with you all that you need to know. First of all, let me tell you my name. I am Lady Godiva Fairchild. Descendant of the Pendragon royal line.”
Lady Godiva lifted her chin proudly, then continued. “I have been entrusted with Victrix Aequita. I am the servant of the sword. With the sword, Victrix Aequita I was given an enduring strength far passing the strength of a thousand strong men. I brought justice to my countrymen, to protect the weak and help the poor.”
An enduring strength far passing the strength of a thousand strong men? Fascinated, Kallista listened carefully, learning more about her strange and extraordinary heritage. The history moved on through the Dark ages and beyond.
A banging noise interrupted Kallista causing her to jump. Immediately, Lady Godiva faded and disappeared. But not before she issued a warning.
“My words are for you only, Keeper of Victrix Aequita. Tell no one of me”
Kallista picked up the echo stone and slipped it into a side pocket.
The source of the noise walked in calmly through an open window that Kallista was sure had been closed before. With soft gray fur and a fluffy tail a small kitten walked proudly over to Kallista, quite pleased with the attention it was getting.
“Oh! How sweet.” Kallista smiled.
Leaning over she picked up the purring critter and cuddled her, still thinking of the astounding sword. The sword that could give it’s bearer strength. That phrase repeated over and over in her mind as she went over to the window with the kitten and shut it. A desire rose up within her and possibilities flooded her mind. If she had that sword she would be able to keep up with the rest of her team. If only she had it the other day with Israel. A slightly wicked grin spread across her delicate features.
The kitten let out a yowl and Kallista relaxed her grip quickly, realizing she had squeezed to hard.
“I’m so sorry little one.” She apologized softly as she petted the animal. “You’ll be OK. Let’s see if you are a boy or a girl.”
As she lifted the kitten to check, she was caught off guard by the sudden unexpected look of panic on the kitten’s face.
“What-Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” She cried out as the kitten unfurled tiny sharp claws and struck out at her face. “What’s the matter little one-Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”
The kitten had changed in an instant to a young looking girl with a frying pan and Kallista found herself lying on the floor with a headache, the dull thud of the pan still resounding in her ears.
“I will thank you NOT to handle me so improperly, young lady! WE have only JUST MET!” The girl snarled at her angrily, her blue eyes snapping dangerously.
Kallista could only stare at the crimson haired girl with an open mouth as she rubbed her aching head.
“What! Cat got your tongue?” The girl laughed at her own joke then made her frying pan magically disappear. “Oh, please tell me you have seen a shape shifter before! You ARE a sorceress, are you not?”
Kallista sighed then groaned as she got slowly to her feet. The pain from the earlier fight was still hurting her.
“Yes, Miss Cat. I have seen shape shifters before.” Kallista responded with as much dignity as she could. “In fact I am friends with a couple.”
She thought briefly of Skylara and Aquila then continued. “It is only that I have met them first as human and not when they were in animal form breaking and entering into someone’s home.”
She gave a very pointed look to the girl who merely laughed it off.
“Well, you don’t need to get so grumpy about it.” The young girl pouted playfully.
“Grumpy? You HIT me with a FRYING PAN!”
“Oh, it was not that hard. Don’t be such a wimp!” The girl brushed her off as she strolled around the room looking at various items. “You were about to invade my privacy after all.”
“I’m sorry!” Kallista spoke through gritted teeth. “ As I said, I thought you were just a cat.”
“I forgive you!“ The girl turned around and smiled at her, cocking her head. “I’m March Pathway, by the way. What’s your name?”
“Kallista Pendragon.” She replied. “Why are you here anyways?”
March grew very quiet then and busied herself with something. Kallista walked carefully over to March, alarmed by the fear the girl tried valiantly to hide.
“Miss Pathway. What’s wrong?”
March looked up and some of the sparkle came back into her eyes. “Wow. You are so formal. You can call me Mar if you would like.”
Kallista stayed quiet and looked at the other girl with concern. She could sense something serious was bothering her.
Mar walked over to the window and looked out guardedly.
“There is something strange that has been happening the last few weeks within the magical community.” She began. “I just only heard whispers and rumors….of people disappearing and whole magical villages being destroyed. I thought it was only some wild tale. But then last night I came in contact with something strange and not of this world.”
Mar stopped then, her eyes wide with fear. Kallista didn’t make a sound, knowing Mar was not finished.
“I was able to get away and hide until the morning came. But even them I didn’t want to leave my hiding place.”
“What was it? A vampire?”
“No.” Mar took a deep breath and turned to look at her seriously. “It was a creature as black as night with red eyes full of malice. It reminded me of a dog. A great big nasty dog! But it was not a dog. In all my 65 years I have never come across something like this before.”
“Wow, Mar. That’s really strange.” Kallista frowned, then shook her head. “Wait. Did I hear you say you are 65 years old?“
Mar gave her an exasperated look and extended her right hand towards Kallista, sharp claws coming through her nails.
“Right.“ Kallista nodded hastily “Ummm…never mind. You don‘t look a day over…ummm…11?”
Shaking her head she turned quickly and returned to the situation.
“This is not good if something like that prowls the streets of Dublin. I need to check it out!”
She turned to leave, forgetting about the book.
“Wait!” Mar cried out. “Where are you going?”
Kallista did not even pause. “To get my weapons, of course!”
“Of course.” Mar rolled her eyes then called after her. “What about me! You are not just going to leave me, are you?”
“You can come along!” Kallista called back as she reached the library doors. She could hear Mar muttering something grumpily under her breath and smiled. A moment later Mar appeared before her in cat form again. Without warning Mar leapt up onto Kallista using her claws to climb up to Kallista’s shoulder. Grunting in pain Kallista turn to glare at her little passenger. Mar looked back at her innocently, meowed and licked Kallista’s nose.
“Charming, Mar.” Kallista shook her head and smiled despite herself then headed to her room.
It did not take her long to retrieve her weapons due to the wonderful fact that dragon O’Malley was not around. A moment later Kallista was walking back down the grand stairway, her sword strapped around her slender waist. Mar chatted happily as she rode on her shoulder, looking curiously at everything as they went by.
Near the bottom of the stairs Kallista paused, gazing at the woman who stood talking to her brother in the spacious parlor. Tall and thin with dark hair, the woman reminded her of the wicked queen in the story Snow White.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Mar whispered as she too gazed at the woman’s hard mask like face.
Kallista did a double take at Mar. “You…um…don’t read minds too, do you?”
All she got from her question was a slap from a tiny paw.
“Don’t be silly, girl!” Mar whispered then pointed Kallista’s face towards the woman again. “I would keep a sharp eye on that one, I would!”
“I believe that is the Countess Vonda Verlise.” Kallista said as she observed the woman’s heavily painted face closely.
Kallista found no trace of warmth in the lady’s eye. She was tempted to take a step back when the eyes of the lady met her own. Full of cunning and arrogance Vonda’s gaze held something more. A challenge. Confident, Kallista met her challenge with a tiny mocking smile. Kristos turned to see what his companion was looking at. A smile lit up his face at the site of his sister.
“Kallista. You are just in time. Come meet our guest.” He gestured to her elegantly.
“Crap!” Mar hissed. “We could have made a quick getaway!”
Obliged now, Kallista moved the rest of the way down the stairs making sure her sword was hidden beneath her long black coat.
“Quiet now Mar.” Kallista breathed softly. “For pete’s sake! Act like a cat!”
For a reason she didn’t quite grasp, she new it was important that no one know that the cat on her shoulder was a fellow sorceress.
“That’s OK Kristos, dear. I have to leave anyways.” Vonda’s voice was as smooth and hard as her face.
Turning to Kallista she gave a slight bow reserved for fellow nobility. “Till next time Lady Kallista.”
“Lady?” Mar whispered and struggled not to laugh.
Reaching up with one hand, Kallista muzzled Mar’s mouth and nodded curtly back to Vonda. The countess took one more measuring glace at Kallista then left the room in a rustle of silk and lace.
“You are leaving too.” Kristos spoke pleasantly when they were alone. “Do you require a vehicle?”
“No.” She smiled. “Thank you. I’m just going for a walk.”
“Very good.” He nodded. “Fresh air will be good for you. Let me know when you arrive back. We can have dinner together and discuss you living arrangement. Enjoy your walk, sister.”
He bowed to her formally and left, leaving Kallista confused.
“We can worry about that later, Kalli.” Mar scolded. “But time is a wasting. We should go now before it gets any later.”
“Yes. Let’s go.” Kallista sighed and left the mansion, Mar giving her directions the whole time.
Rosella sat in the café across from her friend when she spotted Kallista walking by.
“That’s her, Nyx!” Rosella hissed. “She was my odd assignment from Dusk.”
The other girl leaned forward peering out the window. The golden tips of her dark hair caught the sunlight and glowed.
“She does not seem so much a threat to me.” Nyx remarked off handedly in her light Italian accent, settling back in her chair.
“She is not a threat! I just want to kill her for THIS!”” Rosella insisted. She lifted up her sunglasses revealing black and blue eyes. “But Dusk has forbidden it and it irks me!”
“I don’t know why she bothers you so much, Rosella.” Nyx sighed. “You have been through much worse then two black eyes.”
“I don’t know what it is.” Rosella rubbed her forehead. “Maybe it’s because I see her living in that fancy mansion, living such an easy life. She is like a little princess with everything handed to her. She has no idea what true suffering is.”
Nyx placed a comforting hand on her friend’s arm.
“Do not worry about it Rosella. I hate that she upsets you so much. Let me take care of this for you.” Nyx smiled a beautiful wicked smile.
“Do what you would like Nyx.” Rosella replied. “Just remember she can’t be killed or else I’m dead.”
“Who says killing is the only option? Leave it to me, Rosella. I can make her life a misery.”
Both girl’s sipped from their lattes much happier.
Kallista stood off to the side on the sidewalk, watching people pass bye when something caught her attention. She could not help but stare at the boy who walked her way. Skinny and tall he moved quickly through the crowds. He did not seem to notice her staring at him, Instead he glanced backwards from time to time as if searching for someone. Kallista found it odd that know one else could see the boy for what he was. For walking towards her, she could plainly see the boy was highly gifted in magic. It seeped off him in heat waves and his hair was constantly a blaze. Yet she found to her astonishment, that he did not burn nor did he appear to feel heat.
“It’s magic.” Mar said matter of factly.
“What?” Kallista blinked, remembering Mar was there with her.
“That boy is using magic to hide his magic from the non magic folk. It’s obvious.”
Kallista looked down at Mar wondering again if she could really read minds.
“You had that dumb look on your face.” Mar said impatiently as she read Kallista’s face. “I do not read minds.”
Kallista was still suspicious but didn’t want to loose track of the boy. Picking Mar up and placing her back on her shoulder she set off following the boy. Mar grumbled in her ear something about loosing focus. Slipping easily in-between the crowds of people, Kallista tracked the boy’s every movement. Sensing he was being followed the boy sped up and led her down several blocks in a game of cat and mouse.
“Oh! He’s good!” Mar laughed as they turned into the alley way he had just entered moments before.
“I’m glad you are enjoying this Mar-” Kallista broke off and gasped as a tall old man in purple robes stepped in front of her blocking her way.
His long white hair had escaped his pony tail and whipped around his face and his tattered robes billowed out from the power of his magic. She could feel it building up as he stretched his arms out, his eyes a piercing green seeing deep into her very soul. Behind him the boy she had been following peered around the tall figure and smirked at her.
“What do you think you are doing, following my young friend?” The old man boomed at her.
She opened her mouth to speak but could not make a sound. Instead she found herself compelled to march down the other way. For some strange reason Mar was unaffected and remained on Kallista’s shoulder watching with interest.
For several blocks she marched along receiving odd looks from the people passing bye. Mar had abandoned her before they left the alleyway and remained behind, laughing so hard she rolled onto her back rocking back and forth. Finally she was released from the magic that had compelled her so strongly. Stumbling forward she felt herself start to fall. Then she was caught by two slender hands holding her upright.
“Are you OK?” A lightly Italian voice asked her.
Kallista looked up into electric green eyes of a blacked haired girl with gold tips.
“I think so.” Kallista responded, confused and feeling weak. “Wait. Maybe I’m not.”
“Oh! You poor girl.” The girl sympathized. "Here. Let me help you. Where so you live?”
“Not far. Don’t worry about it.” Kallista tried to wave her away as she leaned against the brick wall of a shop, hating the fact that once again she was so weak.
“Don’t be silly.” The girl laughed lightly. “It’s no trouble at all! My name is Nyx Dawn.”
“Kallista Pendragon.” She replied, giving in. She wondered where Mar had gone as she was helped down the street and to the Greek mansion by the kindhearted Italian stranger.
They stood in a field of ruin and debris. Smoke hung heavy in the air where homes and buildings use to sit.
“Is this all that remains of Thornton Town?” Skylara asked in disbelief.
Overhead an eagle soared the afternoon sky.
“I hope not.” Leo cursed. “How can it be that we arrived to late? We only received news this morning of a distress call! And this is the second town this has happened too!”
“There was hardly any warning for these poor people.” Nicolette spoke solemnly from nearby as she surveyed the damage.
“Aquila is scouting farther ahead of us.” Israel informed them as he watched the eagle in the distance. “She will let us know the state of the rest of the town”
“I’ll join her.” Mary appeared out of nowhere with steel in her voice as she looked at the bleak devastation around her.
In a blur she was gone, disappearing into the darkness of once was a thriving magical community.
“Hi! Bye!” Leo jested feebly as they all blinked with surprise at Mary’s sudden arrival and departure.
“The rest of us should split up and-” Israel started to say, but then was interrupted by the sound of an approaching car.
Dragona drove up and sharply parked his magnificent car, stepping out in one fluid movement. He wiped off his sunglasses, tossing them carelessly in the front seat. His gaze found Israel’s and he gave a tiny shake of his head.
“I checked in the surrounding non magical communities and nothing seemed amiss to the residents there.”
“And you were discreet?” Sarthacus teased, eyeing Dragona’s black Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Dragona paused long enough to give his friend a withering look.
“Yes! Sarthacus. I was discreet.” He responded then turned back to the others. “As we know, none of the surrounding towns knew of Thornton Town and nothing was suspected during the attack. Are Skyril and Evangeline back yet?”
“Not yet.” Israel responded. “They are due to report in shortly. We will have news then.”
“So we know it was magic that was responsible for the destruction. Any type of weapon would have been noticed by the non magical communities.” Nicolette mused out loud.
“We need to hurry and see if there are any survivors.“ Skylara piped up then grabbed Nicolette and pulled her along. “I’m taking Nicolette with me.”
Leo looked on with dismay as the girls disappeared around a portion of wall.
“Hey! I thought I would be your partner.” He called after Skylara.
Necros had been standing a ways off surveying the damages. His face was like a mask and his eyes flashed.
“Be careful. I’m not sure that we are alone. Whoever or whatever did this could still be around.”
“Good point.“ Leo nodded his head and started in the direction the girls went in. “I better go tell Skylara and Nicolette.”
Lillivale smiled and grabbed him by his collar.
“I think they know.” Lillivale said dryly.
“Necros, Sarthacus. I would like you both with me.” Israel commanded.
Dragona frowned at him. “You mean I have to be with Leo and Lillivale?” He joked receiving mock glares from his friends.
“You will survive.” Israel smiled as he walked away with the others.
Dragona only mumbled something about wishing Florence was there and walked off with Leo and Lillivale, hoping she was OK.
Looking around he saw there was not much to see and he doubted that there were any survivors. There had been none in the last town. He sighed wearily and moved carefully around a wall that was half torn down. On closer inspection he saw evidence that the wall had not been shaken from it’s foundations due to an earthquake. Nor had magic been used on this particular building. Something big had knocked it down. A frown crossed his features as he wondered what could have been so big as to knock a whole complex down.
“Dragona!” Lillivale’s soft intense tone sent an alarm racing through him. “Check it out! What is that?”
Cautiously Dragona stood up and maneuvered along the length of the wall, his gun out in front of him, trained on the shadowy figure behind a thick cloud of dust. Leo and Lillivale spread out to the left and right of him, closing in on the target with their magic at their fingertips. Across the way, he saw a blue light flare, glowing weirdly in the dust, distracting the figure. Israel had fired into the air distracting the unknown person with his presence and giving Dragona the advantage. Silently he thanked his friend and moved closer. Now he was close enough to touch the figure. Indeed it was human. He could see that now. But suspicion held him in caution.
“Don’t move!” He barked out a warning and said sarcastically. “You have a gun pointed at your head.”
A slight cool wind blew at that moment clearing the dusty debris away, revealing the slender figure of a tall young girl. She stood with her back to him, stiff and alert.
“Oh?” Her casual voice rang clear in the air. “What kind?”
“An MP5A3.” He replied, admiring her spunk.
“Hmmm…..nice.” She said, impressed. Slowly she raised her hands. “I am unarmed. See?”
“Lunar?” A voice called from the other side of the clearing. Necros came into view lowering his hands, his swords of blue and purple energy fading.
“Well met Lunar Tears!” Israel grinned as he stepped into view lowering his own weapon.
Dragona sighed and put away his own weapon. The girl turned around revealing intelligent green eyes.
“I’m sorry for this Lunar.” Israel nodded a greeting at her as he approached. “We were not expecting an agent from the English Sanctuary here.”
“Actually, I am not technically part of the Sanctuary anymore.” She smiled back then became more serious. “I came with the English Sanctuary council as part of a security detail. I had a few days off and came here looking for an old friend. I found this instead.”
She gestured elegantly around her.
“Who are you?” She looked up at Dragona curiously and smiled. “You are really good. I could not even tell someone behind me.”
“Dragona Pine.” He responded simply. “A pleasure, I’m sure.”
“Yes. A pleasure it was.” She winked. “It’s not often someone can get the drop on me.”
“It seems you have been here a while longer then us. Have you found anything? Any clues as to who or what did this?” Necros asked.
“I don’t know who or what did this.” She told them grimly. “But I have found a few survivors. All children. I have teleported them to a nearby town. My friend and associate Jaffa Morbid is there with them. Ready to receive anymore I may bring back to her.”
She was about to say more when a scream split through the air.
The men were off before she could blink her eyes, their faces hard.
Nicolette looked up as a shadow overtook her. It was Mary who leapt from one broken building to another one, searching below her for signs of life as she went. A split second later she was gone, moving on to other places.
Beside her, Skylara in her silvery wolf form, was sniffing diligently for any sent of human existence.
“Nicolette! Over this way.” Skylara spoke to her mind and took off around a corner.
Nicolette followed close behind, vaulting effortlessly over fallen beams. Together they approached the threshold of a caved in house. Surprisingly the door was still standing. With raise eyebrows, Nicolette barely touched the door. It fell backwards with a heavy thud. A child’s muffled shriek came from the corner of the room that was left standing.
Nicolette and Skylara looked at each other silently then quickly moved together in action. Carefully they lifted up piles of wood, plaster, and other debris. Nicolette summoned her biotics to lift the heavier pieces.
The little girl sat huddled in a corner, buried beneath a pile of rubbish. Though unhurt, she stayed there to afraid to move for fear that THEY would come back. A whimper escaped her as she could hear movement on the outside of her enclosure. Then came the thud of the falling door. Beyond her breaking point the little girl screamed and sobbed loudly. But to her amazement a beautiful lady stood before her with soft brown hair that had blue streaks running through it. Even through her tears she could tell that the lady was one of the superheroes her older brother use to tell her about. Dressed in black jeans with a deep blue top the lady had a magic blue glow all around her coming from her hands. Her eyes were strange and black but somehow still kind as they gazed at her. When the young looking woman spoke, her voice was kind and gentle.
“It’s okay little one.” Nicolette spoke softly as she edged toward the frightened child. “My name is Nicolette. I promise I won’t hurt you.”
She motioned and encouraged for the child to come to her. Hesitantly the little girl crawled over to her, too weak to stand.
“That’s a brave girl.” She smiled kindly at the girl as she took her with her arms. “Can you tell me your name?”
“Alicia Stanhope.” The child answered.
“Well, Alicia. Let me tell you something first.” Nicolette said as she carried the little girl back to the doorway. “I have with me a companion. She is a shape shifter. Have you ever head of them before?”
Alicia nodded shyly. “Yes. My mommy told me about them. But I have never met one.”
“Well today is your lucky day!” Nicolette smiled at her. “You will meet two today. The first is my companion. She is in the shape of a big silver wolf! That’s a pretty color! Don’t you agree?”
Alicia nodded and peered in the shadows of the late afternoon looking around expectantly.
“Alicia. Meet my friend Skylara.”
Skylara revealed herself then and moved to the child careful not to scare the her. She playfully reached up a paw and let the child shake her ‘hand.’
“Do you sense any other signs of life?” Nicolette mouthed the words over Alicia’s head.
“No.” Skylara voiced in her head.
“Do you know where my mommy and daddy are?” Alicia asked hopefully.
Nicolette closed her eyes for a moment wishing the dreaded question had not been asked.
“We are still looking Alicia. But for now, you must be brave and come with us. OK?”
Alicia frowned but nodded.
Together they moved through the doorway then stopped stunned horror. The earth was shaking in tiny little quakes, strong enough to cause Nicolette to stagger a bit. Skylara crouched down and growled looking skyward. Before them came a giant….thing! It looked like something cross between a small mountain and a human. It had not noticed them. Instead it paused and looked up at the sky at a large monstrous bird. It was a Roc, larger then an elephant and was currently in battle with an eagle.
Aquila screamed out her rage and fought back furiously, feathers from both birds fluttering down below. But most were Aquila’s.
“Oh. This is not good.” Nicolette said lowly, in the understatement of the century. “Just back away slowly and hope that it does not look our way.”
In afterthought she went to place her hand on Alicia’s head to keep the girl from turning her head to see. But it was to late. Nicolette cursed herself as poor Alicia screamed.
Slowly the giant turned it’s great head and looked at them. A creepy smile spread over it’s face as it opened it’s mouth and moaned.
“Crap! What do we do?” Nicolette wondered out loud.
She could not battle with little Alicia nearby.
“RUN!” Was all that Skylara voiced in her head as she butted against her friend to get her to move.
Together with Nicolette holding the screaming child, they took off running, the giant right behind them.