Authors: D.C. Akers
“Centurions,” she said softly as she turned back to stare at his mother. Sam opened his mouth to ask what exactly a Centurion was, but he thought better of it. She was clearly in no mood to talk about soldiers and quite frankly, neither was he.
Vallen approached Demetrius, who was standing in the kitchen with one hand on his staff and the other tracing the finer edges of Alisa’s Quarrem. He stopped and stood for a moment, observing Demetrius. He was in deep thought and seemed unaware of Vallen’s presence. Vallen grimaced; he had not expected this upon his return, considering he had just arrived with the reinforcements Demetrius himself had requested. Demetrius scowled. His lips were pursed and his eyes seemed intent on burning a hole in the Quarrem he was staring at. Before asking the obvious, Vallen looked to Lyra and Jacob talking in hushed tones across the room and frowned. His eyes then wandered to Holly and the boys huddled around the couch. Vallen rubbed the base of his neck and sighed in exasperation before turning back to Demetrius.
“Um, everything all right?” he asked, perplexed by the scene in front of him.
Demetrius lifted his gaze to look a Vallen. “What?” he asked, a bit dazed.
Vallen’s gray eyes narrowed as he motioned to the rest of the people in the room. “Did I miss something? What happened?”
Demetrius’s troubled gaze moved from Vallen to Sam. “It’s the boy,” he said flatly.
Vallen turned to Sam and Holly, not exactly sure what he was supposed to be looking for. They both looked grief-stricken. “Oh, well, yeah,” Vallen murmured, “it can’t be easy on him.”
“No,” Demetrius said sharply, “that’s not it.”
Vallen turned back to Demetrius. “It’s not?”
Demetrius’s stare intensified and his vibrant amber eyes filled with concern. “The boy held the sword.”
Vallen’s face went slack. Surely he had not heard Demetrius correctly. “What? The sword, you mean … the Death Sword?”
Demetrius nodded slowly.
Vallen looked awestruck and he turned to look at Sam again. “But that’s … impossible, I mean, he seems unharmed. He’s not …”
“Dead?” Demetrius supplied. “No, he’s not dead.”
“But … what does that mean?”
“I’m not sure, but there is something extraordinary about this young man,” Demetrius said earnestly.
“Like his father, perhaps.”
Vallen and Demetrius turned to see Lyra approaching them. “He too was extraordinary, and his mother was as well. They were both Chimeras, I believe,” she said, knowingly.
“And just how did you know that, exactly?” Vallen asked with a scowl.
Catching his tone, Lyra raised an eyebrow bemusedly and stopped in front of Vallen. Jacob was close behind her.
“Well, Chimeras are quite rare aren’t they? Only a handful exist, isn’t that right, Demetrius?” she said with a mischievous grin. Her eyes moved in a pretentious stare, first to Demetrius and then the pommel of his staff.
Vallen smirked, “Oh, is that right?”
Lyra returned his smirk with a glare. “Yes,” she said coldly.
Jacob stood behind Lyra, quietly fiddling with his tie. The palpable tension in the room was making him nervous. Lyra and Vallen stared at one another for several more seconds before Jacob finally spoke up.
“Well,” he choked, “maybe we should talk about the children.” He looked to Lyra and Vallen, hoping his meager attempt to defuse the tense situation would go unnoticed.
“Who is this, Lyra?” Demetrius asked, his skepticism etched in the deep lines running across his forehead.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Jacob Montgomery,” the man said with timid smile as he held out his hand.
“Yes, but what are you doing here, human?” Vallen hissed.
Jacob’s grin quickly faded and his hand fell to his side. “Well I’m—”
“That’s classified,” Lyra interrupted, her hard stare still fixed on Vallen. Vallen’s lip curled in agitation.
“Well, I’m afraid we’ll need to know more than that, Lyra,” Demetrius said cooly, his tone a bit sharper this time.
Lyra’s green eyes moved slowly from Vallen to Demetrius and she forced a smile. “Well, if you must know, he is the human liaison for the Elvin Empire.”
Demetrius’s eyes grew wide and Vallen’s mouth fell open. “What?” he gasped, clearly outraged. “The Elves are working off-world?”
Lyra casually turned her attention back to Vallen, not trying to hide the sardonic grin that was spreading across her face now. “That’s classified.”
“There is one working portal, Lyra and no one knew about it until a few days ago,” Demetrius said, “not even the Elves. So how exactly did you get here?”
“Also classified,” she said again, not taking her eyes off Vallen. Vallen was fuming now; his face was flushed and the blue gemstone on his staff had begun glow.
“Well,” Jacob said nervously, his eyes shifting back and forth between Lyra and the two Keepers. “Perhaps we should talk about the staffs again.”
Vallen’s eyes cut across to Jacob and he took in a deep breath. “It’s classified,” he said smugly.
Vallen turned to Demetrius. “The Healers and Coppertop will be here soon enough and then we can get out of here,” he said as he handed his rucksack to Demetrius. “For the Quarrem.”
Demetrius took the rucksack and placed it on the counter next to him. “I’ll be with the Centurions if you need me,” Vallen said. His steely gaze had moved back to Lyra now. “I need some fresh air.” He pulled the hood of his traveling cloak over his head and left.
They watched as he evaporated and reappeared on the top floor. Jacob stared up at him in admiration. “Amazing,” he said. His eyes were lit up like a small child’s at Christmas.
“Yes, well, I don’t think he likes me much,” Lyra said with a lingering smile, still looking up at Vallen.
“No, it’s not that,” Demetrius said dismissively. “He hates all Elves equally.”
Lyra’s eyes rolled to Demetrius, “Thanks, I feel much better now.”
Demetrius smiled mischievously. “It’s good to see you, Lyra.”
“It’s good to see you as well, old friend,” she replied with a warm smile.
“So, what can you tell me? Why exactly is the Elvin princess so far from home?”
“Well,” she said, “I can’t tell you much. I wasn’t lying when I said it was classified. But let’s just say that the Majesty is not the only ones with sleeper agents.”
Demetrius’s jovial expression disappeared and his brows pulled together into a more concerned look. “Do you mean the Elves have been here the entire time?”
“No, not the entire time,” Lyra said. “But long enough to establish an alliance with the humans, and long enough to find out about Alisa and the children.”
“I don’t understand. Why Earth? Why come back here?”
Lyra’s emerald eyes looked crestfallen and Demetrius noticed the hesitation in her voice when she spoke. “There is a war brewing, Demetrius. It’s at our door step—all the signs are there, just like before. But this time it will be far worse. We will not be fighting a common enemy—we will be fighting ourselves.”
Demetrius’s expression became dark as his well-defined face pulled into a tight scowl. He knew what she was talking about. Bellisoria had been warning them about this for some time.
“The Majesty is weak at best, and now,” Lyra whispered, looking over at Sam and Holly, “well, let’s just say that this is what they have been waiting for. The catalyst for war; the justification needed to implement plans that have been in the works for several years.”
“You still didn’t answer the question, Lyra. Why Earth?” Demetrius asked again.
“Perhaps we should refrain from saying anything more,” Jacob cautioned, giving Demetrius a sympathetic look. “I’m sorry, Demetrius, but this is highly confidential. I’m sure you understand. What we are talking about here has never been attempted, so the less we say the better.”
Lyra tuned to Jacob. “It’s quite all right, Jacob. Demetrius knows I can’t give him all the details. But he is a trusted friend.” She turned back to Demetrius, her eyes darker and more serious than before.
“It’s been hundreds of years since we were forced to leave this planet. Now, Earth has changed. The humans of today are unaware of the supernatural. Their ancestors died off long ago, and with them so did their hatred of our kind. This may be a second chance to blend in and assimilate to their culture.”
“But Lyra, they are so different.
are so different,” Demetrius warned.
“Are we? Where we have magic they have technology,” Lyra said. “It will never be perfect, Demetrius, but between you and me, it’s best to have a plan in case we can’t save the world we live in. If the fighting does begin, then when the smoke clears there will be nothing left of the place we call home.”
“So you’re saying Earth is the new Haven?”
“No, I’m saying the future that we envisioned thirteen years ago died with Rylan and Alisa Dalcome. I’m saying now is the time to start thinking of a new plan before time runs out and we all end up like the Dalcomes.”
he muttering voices came to an abrupt stop as two silver balls of light appeared against the back wall of the living room. The white spheres started out small, no bigger than a softball, but they began to grow larger, sending small flickering currents of electricity, like tentacles, into the air. There was a loud crack followed by two small pops and out of nowhere two women appeared, dressed in long magnificent crimson robes. Sam and Travis jumped, but they seemed to be the only ones startled by their appearance. But it wasn’t the oddly dressed women that Sam was concerned with—it was the two large white wolves sitting next to them.
The two wolves were identical. Their coats were pure white, like fresh snow, and their bodies were agile with long slender legs and tapered chests. They moved with a quiet grace, lifting their heads to sniff the stale air. Together they turned toward the two dead bodies. With eyes the color of saffron, they stared at the fallen and Sam felt the skin on his arms prickle. There was something odd about the wolves, something disturbing in the way they looked at the dead. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but it was as if their demeanor was more human than animal.
Sam and Travis exchanged befuddled looks, unsure of what was going on.
“Should I be worried?” Sam asked, turning from the two women and their wolves to Holly. His incredulous look was hard to hide. Holly returned his gaze with faint smile.
“No, Sam, they are just Witches,” she said calmly, as if this little bit of information would make Sam feel better.
Sam had to try to keep his mouth from dropping open; the night had gone from terrifying to weird in just a matter of hours.
“Umm, you say that like it’s a
thing,” Travis said nervously. He was sitting bolt upright, and his mouth had fallen open again.
Holly gave Travis an endearing look. “Yes, it’s a very good thing,” she said.
Travis seemed hard-pressed to believe that. “Well, it didn’t turn out so good for Snow White,” he muttered.
Sam leaned closer to Holly, still troubled that large white wolves were just a few feet away from them.
“So, why the wolves?” he whispered. He was guessing they were wolves; he really didn’t know. Maybe they were huskies—just really
Still holding Sarah’s hand, Travis got to his knees and inched himself toward Sam and Holly. “I’ve never seen dogs like that, Sam,” Travis whispered.
Sam was just about to agree when Holly spoke. “They are called Familiars,” she said quietly.
“They’re called what?” Sam asked, slowly turning to face Holly.
“Familiars. They serve the witches and wizards by protecting them as they come of age. It’s a very old form of magic but still widely practiced today.”
“What do you mean, ‘come of age?’” Travis asked, leaning closer now as to not be overhead.
“It’s when a witch or wizard gets their powers when they are young. From what I understand it’s a spiritual bonding that takes place between the witch and the animal.
Travis paused for a moment, taking this in. “Oooh, well, yeah … I guess that makes sense,” he said, as if that was the most logical explanation for the two large wolves sitting in the living room. “But, they don’t look all that young, do they?” he added, looking to the two women.
The witches looked similar in that they were dressed alike, but the resemblance stopped there. One was tall and the other was short. The tall witch was extremely thin with leather-like skin, a narrow face, and sharp, angular features. Her nose was long and pointed. Sam thought she resembled a pelican. The other witch was very short and wide. She had a thick round face and wide lips with large, bulbous eyes. The witches stood engrossed in a hushed conversation while observing the damage to the room and the upstairs landing behind them. The white wolves did not seem to be bothered by their surroundings but instead stared directly at Travis and Holly, as if listening to every word being said.
Holly grinned at Travis, “Don’t let them hear you say that.”
“Too late,” a voice boomed from across the room.
The two boys jumped. Travis looked petrified as the tall and rather lanky witch glared in his direction. He turned bright red and looked as if he had swallowed his tongue.