Israel stood just inside Kallista’s bedroom with a look cross between dismay and anger. It was not the fact that Kallista had smuggled in a miniature pony inside Elysium Manor; a pony who was now calmly eating the expensive silk drapes he had gotten specially for Kallista from Japan. He was not angry or dismayed by the copious amounts of bras found slung all across the room or kimonos draped everywhere . Nor was he angry that the once proud room looked more like a disheveled glittery disco party. Israel Elysium was angry and dismayed to find the girl he has housed for two years was missing. She had snuck out again.
“What the….” But the carefully chosen explicit words he had been about to utter was cut short by a knock at the door.
He turned to see Skyril standing there. In the bright lights of Kallista’s room, Skyril’s purple streaks seemed more vivid. After quickly surveying the scene, Skyril took pity on the dazed and upset man
“It’s not easy when one has a wild teenager to look after.” She sympathized with him.
“”I really don’t know what to do with her.” He sighed exasperated. “All my efforts to protect her seem to go wrong. It’s been lousy enough for the last few days with all that is happening. Yet despite the dangers and warnings she gets, Kallista still disappears! What can get worse?”
It took him a moment to notice Skyril’s uncomfortable silence. Turning back to her he narrowed his eyes.
“Skyril?” He was not fooled by the wide eyed expression in her face. Something was up and it was not good.
Skyril opened and closed her mouth a couple timed as she struggled to find a way to sugar coat her news. Finally she just blurted it out.
“Kallista’s brother is here. He is looking for her.”
He took a moment to digest the info then attempted to put on a positive face.
“Well, at least it is not Hestia.” He said with false bravado then proceeded to stride boldly out the door only to run into a tall elegantly dressed man.
“Excuse me.” Israel spoke coldly. “What are you doing up here? This is the private living area reserved for my colleges.”
The man opposite him gave a hint of a smirk as he made a show of looking around, ignoring Israel. From the looks of him Israel could tell this was Kristos Ambrosia, Kallista’s older brother. He had the same black hair and face shape of Kallista except he had blue eyes whereas she has bluish green eyes. With his long dark hair pulled back in an elegant pony tail, a top hat placed jauntily on his head, and sporting a richly designed overcoat he looked like an English Duke from the 1800’s.
“This is where my sister has been staying?” Kristos raised his eyebrows, incredulous yet never losing that slight mocking smile. His voice was smooth and eloquent, the tone a perfect pitch that had the capabilities to mesmerize and to charm.
Israel wanted to punch him out of his house. Turning he wondered if Skyril was taken by this over privileged Lord. The look on her face was almost comical. It looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh or be disgusted. Reassured Skyril was not fooled, Israel turned back to the unwelcomed guest.
“Yes. This is where she had been staying.” Israel responded evenly. “I have been her guardian and have provided her a place to live since none of her family came forth to pick up their family responsibilities.”
His meaning was not lost on the nobleman. He stepped back, his smile growing wider and spread his hands in an unassuming motion.
“No need to get defensive Mr. Elysium. I appreciate what you have done.” Kristos’ voice dripped with condescending overtones. “However my sister was born into a noble family with royal beginnings. She should be with her own kind where it is much more suitable.”
Icy coldness is what Israel felt as Skyril stepped in between them, barely able to keep her temper. Squaring her shoulders she bore holes into Kristos’ face as she spoke.
“MISTER Ambrosia,” Skyril was quick to let him know what she thought of title. “I suggest you be careful of what you say next. You speak of a world of privilege yet you let both your sisters suffer in an orphanage and believe they were left alone. You were not there for them when Kallista found her magic. You allowed one sister to be lost. Now you stand in another man’s home, a home most certainly equal to that of a palace and insult him.”
Skyril moved quicker then the eye could see and stood eye to eye with him.
“What I find most disconcerting is that a man of your STATURE and power of INFLUENCE could fail to find your sisters when they both were in plain sight. You have no business in criticizing Lord Elysium of how he has taken care of Kallista.”
Israel coughed a bit sheepishly then and was about to correct her on the Lord thing when she whirled that black and purple head of hers and shot him a look that told him all too clear that if he did not shut up now, he would be in just as much trouble as Kristos was now.
Rounding back on him she did not let the venom go from her voice but increased it. “Lord Elysium is Kallista’s legal guardian now so GET out before I throw you out!”
If Kristos had been taken aback by Skyril’s rant, he did not show it. He did however avoid looking into her face. Instead he brought up his cane and warded her off with it, causing her too take a step back.
“No, MISS Oblivion. It is YOU who need to be careful.” His smile was back on his hard beautiful face. “You forget who I am. I am a member of the high Greek Sanctuary and connected to a dozen more in many different countries. I also hold royal office in several powerful nations ruled by monarchs. I could have your activities restricted or worse. All I need to say is a word.”
Israel managed to catch Skyril’s arm and pluck the throwing knife from her hand before she let it go.
“Good move, boy.” Kristos’ pale face smirked at Israel. Then he swung his cane and went to hit it across Skyril’s face but Dragona chose to come out of his room at that point.
“Whazz going on?” He said sleepily and got a face full of cane for all his troubles.
Israel who had moved protectively in front of Skyril the moment he had seen what Kristos had intended to do, looked up when he heard a high pitch scream yet didn’t feel the blow he had expected. Instead he saw Donny, a cowardly sorcerer howling and crouching on the floor of the hallway, holding his nose, dressed in nothing but old fashioned long johns with faded pink hearts and pink bunnies.
Everyone did a double take of the screaming man. His girlish screaming was mixed with angry sobs.
“Oh come now. I didn’t hit you that hard.” Kristos protested with disbelief and scorn.
“My nose hurts!.” Donny wept as he peeked through fingers that clutched his face.
“You are not even bleeding Donny.” Skyril told him shortly. “Now get up.”
She made a move to nudge him with her boot but he squealed and scampered away.
“This is embarrassing,” Israel turned and whispered into Skyril’s ear. “How did he get a room in here any ways”
“I don’t know.” Skyril said balefully as she eyed the pitiful man. “Probably bullied one of the younger guests here who are allowed.”
Kristos merely shook his elegant head and turned back towards them. “I am leaving now. But do call me and let me know when Kallista comes back home. I will send a car for her then.”
“I thought we had been through this.” Israel said, his voice hardening again. “Let me put it in simple words so your noble mind can take it in. Kallista. Is. Not. Going. With. You.”
“We will see about that.” Kristos laughed and turned with a flourish, striding confidently back down the hall.
“WAIT!” Donny cried out, his voice cracking slightly. He hurried after the tall man with his chest puffed up.
Kristos stopped but barely acknowledged the weasely man who trailed after him awkwardly. “What is it?”
“I demand compensation!” Donny said angrily, stomping his foot. “I was hit and I did nothing wrong.”
“He’s right you know.” Israel nodded, hating to agree with Donny. “You did hit him.”
Kristos turned then a smiled a delighted wicked smile.
“So sue me.” He said smoothly as he bowed mockingly. “You will find you can’t touch me. I am under the protection of International law while here on State business.”
“He’s right.” Octa said as he appeared by them, Lucky Jack by his side. Worried about the intrusion she had gone to get help. “But I am not bound by such laws so you had better leave now.”
Kristos appraised the old man, respect showing through his cold facade.
“Impressive.” He spoke to Israel. ”I did not know you were friends with such esteemed people as the Purple Poet. I am leaving now.”
He bowed before Octaboona then swept out. To everyone’s disbelief Donny followed him while shaking his fist.
“I AM ESTEEMED TOO! Now you owe me an apology! I’m going to have a migraine!”
“I will not tolerate this abuse of my beloved!” A new voice rang out.
Everyone swiveled their head to see a gangling girl standing at the top of the stairs, a cardboard crown on her head. It was too big and kept falling down to her neck. It was obvious she had been playing dress up again.
“Not Doris too.” Israel moaned. “How did she get here? I thought she was supposed to be meeting with the Irish Sanctuary in Dublin!”
Skyril shot a look of rebuke at Doris who was trying to take the crown off her head. But the cardboard kept getting tangled in her frizzy mousy hair. Finally she gave up, let it dangle there then stood with hands on hips trying to look innocent.
Israel shook his head and started to walk away. He was interrupted by the banging on the front door.
Donny stood outside and was pulling on the door trying to get in. Lured by the noise several more of the manor’s residents came by the stairs to watch the spectacle.
“Dude. Why doesn’t he just push the door open?” Lucky Jack said bemused by Donny's actions. “It’s unlocked.”
But so intend was Donny to get in he kept on trying to pull the door out.
“I can’t take this anymore!” Doris cried out dramatically with a distressed hand to her forehead. She moved to glide down the stairs but tripped on her bathrobe and ended up bumping down the stairs on her rear end. “Owowowowowoooooow!”
Grimacing she got up and ran awkwardly to the front door while holding on to her injured part.
While Doris pushed on the door, Donny howled and pulled on it trying to get in.
“Do you think we should tell them the door opens the other way?” Skyril whispered to Lucky Jack.
“No. This is much more fun.” She replied, then pulled out a candy bar and ate it while she watched.
Israel sighed. “As much as I would love to watch this through, I need to go and find Kallista before her brother does. I will leave it to you as to how you get rid of them.”
“OK Israel.” Skyril replied while watching Doris grunt like a moose in heat in her efforts to get to her love. “No worries.”
Israel left out the back door not wanting anymore encounters with the two who didn’t even belong there. He had more important things to do. He only hoped he got to Kallista on time.
Kallista stood panting, in front of the ruins that had once been the elaborate castle for her ancestors. Having run nearly all the way there she felt sapped of much needed strength. As she took a moment to catch her breath, she let her gaze wander about. The remains of the structure were cast in a glow from the light of the moon and wrapped lightly with slight wisps of fog. Even from where she stood, Kallista could feel the magic that still pulsed from deep within the ruins.
“This must be it.” She whispered in fear and excitement. “This is where the sword must be hidden.”
Echo stone Godiva stood next to her, frowning in concern as she gazed at her once proud home.
Echo stone Godiva stood next to her, frowning in concern as she gazed at her once proud home.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Kallista?” Godiva asked quietly. “It might be better to wait for daylight and have one of your friends with you in case something goes wrong. Victrix Aequita has been waiting for so long already. A day or two more will not hurt.
This only strengthened Kallista’s resolve and she began to walk to the walls of the fallen castle, her eyes shining with a feverish light. The sword was calling to her. She could feel it.
“It has to be now, Godiva.” She insisted intently. “There is something big that is about to happen and I must be ready. Victrix Aequita will give me the edge I need. ”
“There is so much mystery here Kallista.” Godiva warned. “We don’t know why the sword was hidden away or what happened to me all those centuries ago. Promise me you will be careful.”
“Of course.” Kallista responded distractedly as she leapt up over the lowest part of the wall and continued in into the courtyard. The magic was even stronger inside.
“Someone is coming!” Godiva warned abruptly the faded back into the echo stone Kal was carrying in her pocket.
Kallista did not hear anything at first but surveyed the scene carefully. A moment later her brother entered in, walking in a relaxed stride.
“I thought I might find you here.” He remarked mildly as he looked around. “I see you found it with the clues I laid out for you.”
Kallista remembered how the echo stone and the ancient book had been out waiting for her in her brother’s library.
“You wanted me to find it?” She asked in confusion.
“Of course.” He smiled back at her. “It has remained hidden to long and I feel it should be brought out again. Don’t you?”
Kallista thought of Israel and her friends who were always seemingly holding her back. “You are not afraid I will get hurt?”
“Of course not, Kallista.” He smiled. “You are a warrior; you know what you are doing.”
*You have been here before.” She realized this suddenly. “Why did you not go get the sword for yourself?”
“It is meant to be wielded by a female heir of our clan.” He remarked easily. “I believe you are the one who is meant to wield it.”
He gave a slight bow and waved her forward with a smile. After a moment of hesitation, Kallista could not resist the pull of the sword any longer and hurried before her brother, going deeper into the castle.
Driving over potholes and avoiding other road problems was not what Israel had wanted to do with his spare time. It already was a rare commodity and he could think of a half dozen ways to spend it other than being out on a cold night. Thanks to Kristos he now knew where Kallista was going. One look into that arrogant man’s eyes told him everything. After that he could not fight the sense of urgency that drove him on despite being so weary. He could only hope he was not too late.
Looking from time to time out the van window, he eyed the terrain recognizing some of the landmarks. He was near. A flash of light appeared in the road ahead of him, blinding his eyes briefly. Then suddenly he was on top of the strange beam of light, struggling to control his van. Swearing he managed to avoid the phantom light. But then his van stopped working. It just died. One minute he was driving through light and fog, the next, nothing. His van sat sideways on the edge of the road, silent.
“DAMMIT!” He swore as he hit the dashboard and tried to turn the ignition on again.
Then something flashed in his peripheral vision and he froze. In disbelief he turned his head slowly and gazed at the ethereal vision that greeted him.
Mournful wise blue green eyes of a unicorn gazed upon him as if waiting. Dumbly he sat back and rubbed his eyes. A unicorn? Doing a double take, he carefully got out of his van not wanting to startle the creature but to be sure he was seeing what before him.
Moving across the road to the other side, just by the line of trees that begin a forest he reached the creature who was standing still the entire time. It was as he had seen. It was not a trick of over tired eyes but a unicorn. He went to reach out to pet the creature but it bobbed it’s beautiful head and stepped back.
“No worries.” He soothed. “I am not going to harm you.”
In the back of his mind he knew he should not have so surprised. Already he had seen signs and had heard of mythical creatures appearing all over. Most had been alarming and frightening. But why not something so beautiful and lovely too?
Then the unicorn turned and trotted off deeper into the woods. It stooped a few feet from him, turned back to gaze at him then would walk on some more, always making sure he was following.
“What a marvelous creature you are! * He breathed in delight. “But I am afraid I must be off to find my missing friend.”
The unicorn gave of an irritated snort and bobbed her beautiful head again. A picture flashed in his head of Kallista in the ruins. With a start he realized the unicorn had sent a thought to him and was leading him to her.
“Lead on! I will follow now!”
Urgency drove him to haste as he bounded through the woods after the unicorn. He realized with a shock that the unicorn had some sort of power he has never witnessed. For every step he took together, man and mythological beast traveled a hundred yards. In no time he was at the edge of a clearing. Looking down he saw the ruins, beautiful and haunting in the light of the moon. Without a doubt he knew this was where Kallista was.
Something was not right and he muttered against himself for forgetting his rifle. A moment later something heavy rested in his hand. Looking down he was astonished to see his rifle. Glancing back up at the unicorn confirmed his thoughts. The unicorn had once again used her powers to help him. He knew what to do next. One did not slight the faire when given help. Formally he bowed and gave his deepest thanks. The unicorn bowed back then turned her gaze towards the ruins.
“Right then. I’ll be off.” He was halfway to the ruins when an unhealthy blaze of yellow light broke free from the center and lit up the heavens above. “Dam that can’t be good.”
Casting aside all reserves for stealth he took off and shot his way through the old stone walls that surrounded the place. Instinct guided him through a series of mazes. Each one lead him further downward into a secret path deep underground. A moment later he found himself in an enormous cave. The sight before him stopped him cold. His eyes were transfixed upon the unearthly light that held Kallista in its grip high off the ground. Thousands of enchanted arrows surrounded her, piecing her as if hurled by an unseen hand. Suspended in a grip she could not break, Kallista was frozen, rigid in horror and pain. Her unseeing eyes were open wide in an agony that left her voice broken with its power. Nothing came out of her mouth which was open in a silent cry.
Israel didn’t stop to think, he pointed his rifle down at the ground behind him and fired. The force of the magical energy sent him flying upwards and directly toward Kallista. Twirling his rifle as a baton he deflected the arrows of magic that came at him even as he knocked the girl out of the wicked grip that had held her so cruelly. He landed back on the ground holding Kallista carefully. As soon as he had knocked her from the magic force, she had blacked out. Turning to look back at the place where the magic had blazed so powerfully before, he saw it had disappeared. He cast a suspicious eye around the length of the cave but found it empty. A low moan brought his gaze back to Kallista.
“Kallista! Wake up.” He urged her softly. “Tell me, do you feel any pain?”
Quickly he checked her out to gather the scope of her injuries. Opening her eyes she ignored him and instead looked to a passageway on his right.
“My sword…” Her voice was weak as she reached over towards the opening as if that would get her what she wanted.
“Shh…just rest easy and I will bring you home.” He said softly as he gathered her up in his arms.
But she feebly struggled out of his arms and stumbled towards the passageway with a fevered light in her eyes. “My sword…..”
He caught her before she fell and helped her to where she wanted to be.
“Kallista? There is nothing here.” He said concerned. He wondered if the enchanted weapons had done damage to her after all.
But she kept going deeper into the shadows, using what little strength she had to gather a fire to light the way. “It’s here. I can feel it.”
He looked on in astonishment at the sight before him of a splendid silver sword stuck fast in a rock. Together they walked closer to it, using caution for anymore booby traps.
Kallista let go of Israel and limped the rest of the way to the rock and was about to grab it when he stopped her.
“Wait, Kallista. Let me do it.” He insisted calmly. He didn’t think Kallista would be able to hold off another attack.
But when he went to grab the handle of the sword, it was as if a force stopped him. He could not get within a certain distance of it.
Without waiting anymore Kallista lunged at it, taking Israel by surprise. He was further surprised when she grasped the handle and pulled it free from the rock.
“Victrix Aequita. You are finally mine!”
Israel stepped back briefly, started by the evil laughter that came from her. But like a seizure it stopped suddenly and he caught her as she fell.
“What do you think you were doing?” He asked concerned. “Why did you sneak out once again?”
“My brother…” She gasps before passing out, clutching the sword to her protectively.
“I think it’s time you get a new brother.” Israel said grimly as he picked her up and carried her from the cave. “From now on, I will be more than your guardian. I will be your brother.”
The light of the moon illuminated the sword as he left the opening from the ruins. His breath caught in his throat and he stumbled in shock, almost dropping Kallista. She was holding the sword he had seen in his dream.
Not far away, hidden in the shadows, Kristos watched thoughtfully with the never ending smirk. His plans had gone almost all his way. Knowing of the magical traps he had been glad his sister had come to him when she did. She had provided to be an excellent decoy. Slightly disappointed at not getting the sword he began plotting some more. There was something not right with it.
He would bide his time and watch his sister. Only time would tell.