Parts 6-10

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.
".......um, 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 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?"
"Yes."
"Care to elaborate?"
"No."
"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?
"No."
"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...."
"So........am 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 felt.....no.....they 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 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.
"Bridget..."
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.
Florence.
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.
"Wait."
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?"
"Um....do 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 9: MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!

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, feels....no! 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."

Kallista Pendragon. Part 10



Two pairs of eyes watched with interest the reunion taking place below from their elevated position on the roof. The November wind whipped their hair wildly around their faces. Darkane’s short dark mane did not bother her. But Florence waist length hair kept flying in her face. Brushing it away for the hundredth time she shot a glare at Florence. Florence appeared not to notice.
“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.
"Wait."
"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.”
“Driver?”
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?
“Kallista!”
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?”
“Kallista!”
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 too 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.
"My mother."
"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 Croí na Spéartha Belegthôlion. 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 Croí na…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 Croí na Spéartha Belegthôlion: Heart of the Heavens, the Sword of Justice and Mercy. I am the servant of the sword. With the sword, Croí na Spéartha Belegthôlion 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 Croí na Spéartha. 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.”
Mar shivered.
“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.
“Living arrangement?”
“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 alley way 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 to 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.
“Good girl.”
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.