Shadows & Lights
All Rights Reserved; This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part, nor transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy nor otherwise without the express consent of the Publisher.
Valiant Digital © 1995 in Association with Aberdare Multimedia © 2009
Copyright © 2006. Johanez Johnston
This First Edition Published in Canada in 2012 by Valiant Digital.
The author asserts intellectual property rights of all materials contained within.
I woke long before the first rays of the sun crept into my bedroom window. I sat in front of my desk pouring over possible details for the mission I hoped to have accomplished before everyone else was busy celebrating our most important holiday of the year. If all went well, then every single family member detained by the Chamberlain would be returned to us. I continued to lose myself in thought as I heard footsteps approach from the open hallway door.
“Please join me, Professor.” I calmly spoke.
“Your escapades last night have all the houses interested in knowing what you are up to.” Professor Montay spoke quietly.
“The former Primus Regina is under house arrest, under my orders.” I confided. “She is to relinquish her position in favor of Cathie, and it will be announced at the Sabbat.”
“I suspected you had a reason for that.” Professor Montay added.
“I did, and Annie is to be named as Domus Regina of Blanc Maison. You will remain as Congressus.” I stated.
“Will there be anything else, Narissa?” Professor Montay fondly yet calmly spoke.
“I will need your help with retrieving the information I will need from the Repository.” I finished as I began to shed tears. “And I need all this done for All Hallows Eve.”
“Narissa.” Professor Montay softly spoke. “All you will need to do is give the order, and it will be done as you ask. No one will question your judgment.”
“I know, Professor,” I sobbed. “But I want everyone to never doubt that whatever I do, I do for all the houses.”
“Today, you will not be attending classes.” Professor Montay spoke. “I have a task that only you can undertake.”
“Are you permitted to accompany me, Professor?” I asked.
“I am not, Narissa.” Professor Montay spoke softly.
“What is it, I must do, Professor?” I asked confidently, but managing to slowly quell my tears.
“You must, in the light of day, claim the basket and hilt of your ancestor’s sword from the Chancellery.” Professor Montay announced quietly. “If you hurry, you can be well on your way.”
“I understand, Professor.” I now spoke clearly and confidently. I rose from my study desk and quickly got dressed in simple yet distinct travel clothes. As I tied my shoes, I heard Ferule at my door.
“Are you ready, Mistress?” Ferule spoke.
“Yes, it is time, Ferule.” I softly spoke. My wand scuttled up my sleeve and bounced lazily on my shoulder before bouncing into the pocket within the folds of my skirt. The long flowing cloak waiting for me had my ceremonial station insignia richly embroidered in gold thread along with the coat of arms. I ran my fingers over it, and remembered the first time I had seem these two symbols together. The sword I was to one day have whole, was mine to bear when attending a meeting of the council. This was my task today. To take what was mine, kept in plain sight, for every single person to see, and ensure that no one would ever again have it shattered into the pieces it now was. The symbolism of this act was to send a message that the Family was once again whole and enforce the three parts of the Sachsenspiegel fairly and justly. I donned my cloak and I was finally ready. Ferule had spun himself into a cloud of brimstone and moments later spread his wings wide as I mounted his saddle.
“Fly straight and fast, Ferule.” I softly spoke.
“Yes, Mistress.” Ferule replied as he bounded out into the cool morning air with a single beat of his strong wings. It was a wonderful feeling to see the morning sky slowly blossom into the light of day. It was even more wonderful knowing the guards who regularly stood over the case, would not impede me from taking what was mine to have. The flight with Ferule would last just over an hour, and the regular beat of his wings consoled me as together we flew high above the clouds towards the Capital. The clock towers around the Capital tolled as we descended into the main square in front of the Chancellery building. I dismounted and waited for the final toll of the bells, as Ferule snorted a cloud of brimstone and disappeared into the sky. I boldly ascended the twenty-eight steps to the chancellery doors and I gently knocked before speaking.
“Patefacio, quod redono vestri exsequiae. Ego mos reverto per vesica quod meus vox locus inter vos. (Open, and give up your relic. I return for the blade and take my rightful place among you.)” I spoke with a single wave of my wand. The doors crashed open against their stops, and I entered the Chancellery building.
“Custodiae, supplex pro mihi quod ego vadum non erigo meus virga obviam vos huic saeculorum. (Guards, kneel before me and I shall not raise my wand against you in this lifetime.)” I spoke softly with my wand at my side. My cloak flowed around me as curious tourists watched me approach the closed case holding the basket and hilt. The guards knelt before me as I approached the case.
“Ego sum Narissa, Amplitudo Ducamen de Brougham, Ego vindicatum ut quod est meus forensis. Permissum qui es tendo, arbitro arbitror ut Capio ut quod est mei habeo. (I am Narissa, Grand Duchess of Brougham, I claim that which is my legacy. Let those who are present, bear witness that I take that which is mine to have.)” I now commanded with a wave of my wand, and the simple glass case shattered. The guard nearest the now shattered case removed the basket and hilt that had lain upon the faded and yellowed linen cushion that lined the case. The curious tourists all followed the example of the kneeling guards. My wand snaked up my arm and slipped into its hidden pocket as I accepted the basket and hilt from the arms of the guard who held it above his head. With it now in my hands, the missing blade glowed white hot to its full length before slowly fading to brilliant yet cool silver. Reunited, the entire sword reflected light as only something leafed with silver could. I now and only now, knelt before the guards, with the tip of the blade cutting into the crimson carpet under my knees as the guards rose to their feet and took their places on the four points of a compass. I waited for the Chamberlain’s guards to arrive. After what seemed to be an eternity, the first wave of the Chamberlain’s Guards arrived to what I assumed would be my arrest. The Chamberlain’s Guards took up defensive positions, and the guards that were previously guarding the now shattered case neither retreated nor advanced.
“Per oraculum illae vesica, vos must sumo inter vestri famulatus. Vesica est no universus quod reddo nostrum universitas. Plumbum ora reddo meus gubernatio. Vesica ora reddo vestri subsequens meus gubernatio. Sumo vestri famulatus sapienter. (With the prophesy of this blade, you must choose between your allegiances. The blade is made whole and represents our world. The tip represents my leadership. The blade's edge represents your following my leadership. Choose your allegiance wisely.)” I spoke softly, yet with a commanding tone. The Captain of the Guard approached with a menacing swagger, and surprised me as he knelt before me.
“The Sword’s Prophesy is well known. Only the true heir may wield it, and only the Primus Regina is thought to be capable of having the true faith in the craft to make it whole.” The Captain spoke with conviction. “Lead and we will follow.”
I did not respond, nor even look up. I continued to wait for the Chamberlain. My wait was not that much longer as the Chamberlain himself soon swaggered in the Chancellery hallway with his wand already drawn. I did not move. I did not have to. The guard, who were present, placed themselves as a human shield between the Chamberlain and I, thus preventing him from being able to cast a spell or binding capable of incapacitating me.
“Ego prex quondam pro, dimitto nos pacis. (I have requested once before, to leave us in peace.)” I politely asked the chamberlain. From his inaction or lack of response, I could only conclude he did not understand what I said. “I have requested once before, to leave us in peace.”
“You know I will not allow that.” The Chamberlain spat.
“Lord Chamberlain, in accordance with the Sachsenspiegel, as detailed in the Vorfahrecht, I challenge you. The time and place is ordained for you to appear. Do you accept?” I now asked in a soft yet commanding tone.
“You are alone, you can not invoke the Vorfahrecht without a second.” The Chamberlain responded.
“She is not alone, Lord Chamberlain!” Professor Montay’s voice rang out from behind me. “I second her challenge, do you accept?” Professor Montay advanced and knelt beside me. The Chamberlain did not respond.
“We also second her challenge, Lord Chamberlain.” I heard a chorus of voices sing. Annie and Cathie led the procession of color that took up places around me. The Domus of all the houses had assembled themselves. The Rector Regina was also present. Professor Montay had been well informed, and as the Congressus had summoned our Rector to accompany the Domus to the Chancellery. Confronting the Chamberlain was something I was prepared to do on my own, but this assembly gave me a prideful resolve.
“One more step if he still does not accept.” Cathie’s voice echoed inside my head. The Chamberlain once again did not accept.
“I accept your challenge!” the Chamberlain finally responded. Before he could raise his wand against anyone, he was struck with the combined power of seven wands. The guards instantly responded to his treachery and disarmed him. The Captain of the Guard rose to his feet.
“Lord Chamberlain, it is my duty to place you under arrest and bring you before the Council to answer charges contrary to the Sachsenspiegel.” The Captain spoke. “Take him away.”
“Primus Regina, the Council awaits your audience in their Chamber.” The Captain of the Guard announced as the Chamberlain was taken away under arrest. I rose to my feet and held the sword in front of me as only a Senior Officer would, and led the procession into the Council Chamber. The Council Members sat behind their plinth and regarded myself. It was several minutes as they conversed in hushed tones before addressing me.
“Concilium mos audite vestri res secundum Sachsenspiegel. (The council will hear your matter according to the Sachsenspiegel.)” The Deputy spoke aloud.
“This is arranged as a Vehmgericht, and therefore is not in accordance with the Vorfahrecht.” Professor Montay spoke.
“Your Primus Regina is the only person to address this Council.” The Deputy replied, once again affirming the Chamberlain had already influenced these proceedings before being arrested.
“The House of Brougham wishes to petition for the return of our seat on this Council.” I formally spoke in a soft tone. “I will await your answer preceding All Hallows Eve.”
“We will discuss your petition, Primus Regina.” The Deputy responded. With their answer, I led the procession out of the Council Chamber. I quickly sped thru the guards that had gathered and exited the Chancellery, into the bright light of the day. We did not tarry long as a large crowd began to gather and collectively we all departed aboard individual besoms. We sped into the sun and were lost from those below before we veered off in separate directions. With the speed of my own besom, I arrived back in Victoria Estates long before any of the Domus began to arrive, and only a few minutes before Annie and Cathie, followed shortly after by Professor Montay.
“They have a fortnight to decide if they will allow the return of our seat on the Council.” I confessed to Professor Montay before she could say anything.
“You have something in mind should their response be negative, Narissa?” Professor Montay asked.
“It is best if you do not know, Professor.” I replied. Both Annie and Cathie knew what I was thinking. I left the sword with Professor Montay to ensure it would be safely stored, as Annie, Cathie and I went to get changed into our school uniforms. We departed before any of the Domus had begun to arrive. Together we wasted no time to arrive at the school gymnasium where our schoolmates had been busy the entire day completing two full racks of Duchess Class besoms. I was impressed as I could clearly see there were at least half of the workstations with besoms nearing completion, while the remainder had new ones being started. The gymnasium was all but deserted except for Amos crouched over his workstation.
“Miss Narissa.” Amos greeted. “Miss Annie, Miss Cathie.” I noted Amos was welcoming the distraction of our arrival as a break in the routine of his day.
“You’ve been busy today, Master Kovar.” I greeted him back. Annie and Cathie began to assist with packing crates whose markings upon the outside of the crates resembled the markings we had seen last night, with completed besoms. I knew instantly these crates would be safely stored away in the Armory located on the airfield. Twenty besoms per crate, and there were six crates in total waiting to be filled. It was an impressive sight. I noticed there was a large number of bits and pieces of destroyed and damaged besoms lying in a trash pile next to Amos’ workstation as it was clearly evident he had been stripping stirrups from older besoms. I also noted he seemed to be content in removing the stirrups and mounting rings from besoms that had been built by him.
“It seems a waste to destroy some of your own work, Master Kovar.” I commented.
“It is more expedient than trying to make new ones.” Amos replied. “Besides, these besoms were never used, nor do they approach the quality of the new ones these stirrups will adorn.”
“You will not be disappointed that all of these new besoms will be used regularly, Master Kovar.” I replied. I now surveyed the entire gymnasium and noted the next two weeks would be busy with everyone not only completing the required number of besoms, but also flight lessons. I smiled with the knowledge of how the entire student body would soon fill the ranks of the Blanc Maison Legion. I remembered the flight suits held in Karl’s storeroom. The addition of rank insignia along with nametapes and troop assignments would be easily determined after flight training had been completed. We quickly finished filling four of the six empty crates before Amos ushered us out of the gymnasium. Moments later a work party arrived to remove the besom crates and they loaded them onto Amos’ waiting truck. Annie, Cathie and I quickly fled to the sanctuary of Karl’s bookshop.
I sat with pen and ink and tried to figure out how many people it would take to mount a rescue mission. One full Legion would be more than enough, but the problem was not having enough people to meet all the requirements. By my estimates the students of Linwood numbered 224. The number was just shy of a full Legion. It would have to do. The door chime sounded, and I was surprised to see Vijay close the door behind her.
“Hello Narissa.” She greeted me. “I thought I’d find you here.”
“Oh?” I replied. “Something on your mind, Vijay?”
“You know the entire school believes in you.” She confessed.
“I know.” I answered somewhat meekly.
“And do you know, we’ll all follow behind you without question.” Vijay continued.
“I know that too.” I followed with. “But what I have to ask everyone to do in the next few weeks is not only dangerous, if we are not fully prepared, a few of us may not return.” My mind drifted to last night’s activities and the flight training.
“Flying circles around the local pilots is nothing compared to what the Chamberlain may have in store for us.” I added.
“We know.” The voices of Annie and Cathie joined Rachel, Deanna, Valerie, Tessa, Nyssa, and Zoë, who had entered Karl’s bookshop while I was distracted, and bellowed.
“I believe in you.” Vijay announced. The looks on everyone else’s faces confirmed that which Vijay had the courage to say out loud. The gently falling rain began almost as quickly as the tears that began to well up inside me. The ten of us would have so much to accomplish in a very short time. Somewhere outside stood Professor Montay, as though feeling her presence filled me with the courage to reach the decision everyone waited patiently for me to announce.
“Tonight we fly as a group.” I finally announced. “Tonight we will see how we measure up against the best flyers Bleu Maison can muster, and make our Besoms dance across the sky.”
“Well done, Mistress.” I heard Ferule’s comforting voice echo inside my head. “You are now ahead of me, Mistress.”
“We meet at dusk, our feet will not meet the ground until the others have had enough.” I announced with the feeling of Professor Montay’s presence retreating. The ten of us dive into Karl’s service tray and Rachel amuses us with a caricature of me levitating. Everyone is laughing and giggling, including myself as Rachel bounced her heels several times off the floor. I was truly amazed at how well everyone is approaching the perfection I have already mastered.
“Hey, ever wonder if it’s possible to use that while on a besom?” Deanna asked.
“Only one way to find out.” Annie quipped back. We all laughed hysterically. I noticed Karl standing behind his sales counter with an expression of modest humor.
“Your mother would approve, Narissa.” I thought I heard Karl quip. I had been looking directly at him and only now realized that Karl had projected his thoughts to me.
“Your uncle was correct long before any of us even suspected who you could one day become.” Karl softly projected while burying his nose in his sales book. Finally, Karl’s grandfather clock chimed half past the hour, and signaled our departure. We all participated in returning Karl’s bookshop reading room into the tranquil setting it was before our arrival.
“Tres Virtus, Narissa.” Karl projected softly as I closed the front door behind me.
“As always.” I responded with my mind, adding the feelings of a huge hug along with it.
After arriving at home, Annie, Cathie and I quickly prepared ourselves for our evening lesson with Professor Montay. At precisely six o’clock, Professor Montay entered and stood defiantly silent. It was deafening.
“This evening’s lesson is cancelled.” Professor Montay finally announced. “Your classmates will be waiting impatiently for you.”
“Professor?” Annie began to ask.
“You don’t want to waste the precious amount of time you have.” Professor Montay added. “You’d best be off.”
“Yes, Professor.” We sang almost in unison.
“And remember to be back at a respectable hour, Ladies.” Professor Montay noted as the three of us played a disappearing act. Moments later we were all changed into flight suits and mounting our besoms. Rising just above the tops of the trees, we sped off into the last rays of the setting sun. We did not wait long to have Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Tessa, Nyssa, Vijay and Zoë join us above the treetops as we began to circle the airfield. It was a sight to behold as the ten of us quickly descended onto the field. We entered the nearest hangar thru its open doors. Inside we found storage racks for our besoms and standing perfectly in line was ten newly assembled Sopwith Dragons along with their pilots.
“Good evening, Lieutenant Griffin.” I greeted, approaching the first Dragon. “Are your Pilots ready?”
“Yes, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin answered. “Pilots, Mount up!” We each received a brief instruction before our instructors started the engines. A moment later, the early evening was shattered with the sound of roaring engines, exiting onto the apron. The dragons were airborne in no time with each of us having taken a seat inside each of their tiny fuselages, in front of our instructors. I struggled with the controls as my own dragon lumbered into the air. The dragon cut thru the air with the same elegance as a brick. I did not like this feeling, and longed to have mounted my besom instead. After just a few rounds of the airfield, my instructor led the other dragons in to land. Once firmly back on the ground, I secretly vowed to never again take to the sky, unless I had either my besom underneath me, or Ferule’s saddle. Instead of returning to the air inside a dragon cockpit, we mounted our besoms and took to the air with each of our instructors in pursuit. The dragons strained to follow us. Basic flight maneuvers soon had the dragons narrowly missing each other as we zigzagged past one another. After what seemed like an eternity, the dragons landed before one or more of them crashed into the ground. It was clearly evident that the dragons were no match for our nimble besoms. Once the last Dragon had been returned to the hangar, the airfield lights were extinguished and we all retired to the officer’s lounge.
“Tonight was nothing more than a familiarization.” Lieutenant Griffin announced, while pouring a cup of tea.
“Lieutenant, I think we need to step it up a bit.” I mentioned and added. “Tomorrow night, your pilots will meet us in the sky at sunset.”
“Yes, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin replied.
“We have less than two weeks to have everyone ready.” I mentioned. “Tomorrow night, I want the instructors to demonstrate low level, high speed payload deployment.”
“Bombing, Mistress?” Lieutenant Griffin asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “Bombing. After demonstrations, I think some basic instruction will be in order.”
“I’ll make the preparation, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin confirmed.
The rest of the evening passed quickly and the ten of us departed without any fanfare. Flying on our besoms, we landed at the sports field in the dim glow of the moon. I sensed everyone’s apprehension about tomorrow night’s demonstration and training. In silence we all left one another’s company and headed home.
“Good evening, Ladies.” Professor Montay greeted us as we approached the estate.
“Good evening, Professor.” We all responded together.
“Tomorrow is another day, and Ferule has prepared a late snack for the three of you.” Professor Montay stated. Feeling just a little disappointed in the speed of our progress in being ready within the fortnight, we passed the front portal and headed to our suite. After changing into pajamas, we trod downstairs to the kitchen where we found the promised late snack set out for us. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I struggled to stay awake long enough to enjoy a few pieces of fruit before turning in. I was asleep shortly after my head fell onto the soft pillows.
Slumbering, my mind raced unconsciously with images of the Chancellery in a blaze of mayhem. The chaos of sharp images bouncing thru my dream was offset with the faces of long thought to be lost members of the family being rescued from prison cells. A final image of the rising sun filled my head as the first rays of the morning slowly creped into my room.
“Good morning, Ferule.” I softly spoke as I stretched out, shaking off sleep with Ferule’s deep green eyes meeting my own as I awoke.
“Good morning, Mistress.” Ferule greeted me.
“You have a busy day today, Mistress.” Ferule spoke aloud, as he quickly exited my room and closed the door behind him.
“I know, Ferule.” I answered to my now empty room. I bounded from my bed to find Ferule had already laid out my fitness ensemble. I quickly dressed and prepared myself for the earliest part of my daily routine to begin. I found Annie and Cathie already preparing for our morning exercise, and we exited our suite with our wands bouncing into our hidden pockets before we descended the stairs.
“Good Morning, Ladies.” Professor Montay announced.
“Morning, Professor.” We quipped back in response.
“Enjoy your morning run.” Professor Montay offered us as we opened the front door. We bounded onto the slowly dying front lawn and set a leisurely pace. After having advanced no more than a few hundred paces, the sound of running feet began to accompany our own. We continued our gait with our accompaniment growing behind us. The sound of our labored breathing did nothing to mask the echoing sound of the others who accompanied us this morning.
Winding our procession thru the streets of Victoria Estates, we soon found our passing was slowly waking the neighborhood. I found my feet marked the sidewalk with everyone else’s feet perfectly in time with my own. I giggle slightly at the thought of our procession being witnessed by even one Magnus Proeliator. We slowed our procession as Linwood School came into view. Now slowed to a walking pace, the sound of our feet disappeared as we stepped onto the sports field. I only now stood to watch the procession of our accompaniment. Everyone had divided themselves into troops, almost an entire Legion. It was almost breathtaking to witness the entire student body displaying such solidarity.
“Troop 1, 31 all ranks.” Deanna marked as she marched past with troop number one.
“Troop 2, 33 all ranks.” Rachel marked.
“Troop 3, 32 all ranks.” Zoë noted.
“Troop 4, 32 all ranks.” Vijay beamed.
“Troop 5, 31 all ranks.” Nyssa stated.
“Troop 6, 34 all ranks.” Tessa announced.
“Troop 7, 31 all ranks.” Valerie quipped.
“That makes 224 all ranks.” Cathie announced after a short pause.
“We seem to be missing an important appointment.” I noted. “Mr. Brule, front and centre if you would, please.”
“Ma’am!” I instantly heard James respond. James stopped short, just in front of me.
“You need some decoration, James.” I smiled as I tapped my wand against his shoulder. The rank insignia of a sergeant major wove itself into his shirtsleeve. “Appoint your warrant officers after I’ve fallen out the Officers, Sergeant Major, and we’ll see you at assembly.”
“Y-Y-Yes, Ma’am.” James stuttered slightly.
“Officers, Fall out!” I shouted, and Deanna, Rachel, Zoë, Vijay, Nyssa, Tessa, and Valerie joined Annie, Cathie and I in front of everyone. The ten of us departed the sports field at a quick pace leaving James in charge of the entire Legion. After our quick escape, we soon found ourselves hidden in the confines of the communal shower. The warm spray washed away the evidence of our morning exercise. After which, we had ten wands bouncing behind us as we ascended the spiral staircase. I quickly noted how everyone had their own school uniforms waiting, along with matching shoes. Once again, Ferule did not miss a single detail. Breakfast was served in our sitting room then shortly after, we escaped the confines of the house and into the misty morning. It was now day four of besom building, and we were barely halfway finished producing enough besoms. I could almost feel the enormity of the tasks ahead of us. Most importantly having everyone accepting the tasks I would need them to perform. Together the ten of now stood before the steps of Linwood and waited for the student body to begin to arrive. We all noticed the sound of boots approaching the school grounds.
“What’s that sound?” Valerie asked. Valerie had her answer after only a few moments as James was leading the entire student body with the precision of a military parade. I was indeed impressed. It was about time that James had finally assumed the position I had hoped he would. I knew instantly his elder brother would be proud. Trust and respect, he’d now learned the difference and would become the asset I knew he could be. With the precision of a Sergeant Major he halted the students before the steps of Linwood.
“All present and awaiting your inspection, Ma’am.” James reported.
“Dismiss your troops.” I responded. James beamed with my recognition. Much to my surprise I noted everyone had station insignia embroidered on their blazers. My Legion. I turned around to find Annie, Cathie, Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Vijay, Nyssa, Tessa, and Zoë had pointed their wands at me. In a flash, my school blazer was transformed with the coat of arms richly embroidered in gold thread on my left breast. Above the helm was the insignia of Primus Regina. They had granted me that which I dared not assume until they wished it for me to accept.
“Only one thing missing.” I noted.
“What could we have possibly forgotten, Narissa?” Annie quipped. With my wand I scribbled the roman numerals twenty-seven inside the centre of the insignia.
“I am not the first to wear this, therefore we should also respect those who have worn it before me.” I modestly answered back.
“Agreed.” Everyone answered back.
“Should the Chamberlain find me now, he’ll have quite the fight on his hands.” I quipped. Everyone roared with evil laughter. With my wand, I shot a bolt at the warning bell, announcing morning assembly early. Everyone quickly passed the entrance doors and began heading for the auditorium. The doors of the auditorium closed almost silently behind me, as I was the last to enter. I paced down the isle only a few paces before I felt a familiar presence engulf me.
“Your mother’s memory is reflected in you, Mistress.” I faintly heard Ferule’s voice echo inside my head.
“Thank you, Ferule.” I projected softly back. “That was kind of you to think of her in that way.”
“She is never far from my thoughts, as are you, Mistress.” Ferule responded.
“I can not count the ways that you have believed in me, Ferule.” I projected firmly back towards him.
“Some of us can not move ahead while others are paralyzed with fear.” Cathie’s voice echoed strongly next to Ferule’s last projection.
“Lead us and we will follow.” Vijay strongly projected into my mind.
“Where ever you are, we will never be far away.” Annie’s voice joined Vijay’s
“Everyone is listening. They all need to hear you say it, Miss Narissa.” Principal Marriott’s voice rang out from behind. I turned around to see Principal Marriott flanked by Professor Montay, Uncle Vlad, Karl and Ferule.
“Somewhere there is a silent voice wanting to say that which needs to be said.” I strongly projected with such gentle force I was able to invade every mind within the school. “I am the voice that is calling out. I will be the one to help you believe in yourselves.”
“I believe in you too.” My mother’s voice echoed warmly inside my mind. Along with her presence I could almost sense the twenty-six other women who had accepted that which I was now about to do.
“I believe you will need this, Narissa.” Professor Montay spoke softly. Professor Montay held the blade in its scabbard and offered it to me.
“Thank you, Professor.” I answered.
“Everyone here has seen the case where the basket has laid at least once in their lives.” Karl spoke clearly. “It is now time that you show them it is whole once again.”
“Thank you, Karl.” I wept and gave him a huge hug. “I remember the first book we read together was about this blade and what it means.”
“I remember how well you listened.” Karl returned. I vainly tried to wipe my tears, but I was losing the battle. Now holding the scabbard, I withdrew the blade from its prison and held it in front of me, as only an officer should do. I began to slowly pace towards the podium at the centre of the auditorium. Scrambled projections bounced off me as I slowly walked the short distance I had to travel. The emotions I felt as everyone gazed upon the blade they had only ever heard of before today was beginning to fill me with a prideful sense of resolve.
“Today marks the first time in a long time, this blade has been carried before a Legion of Blanc Maison.” I spoke confidently. “With your belief in me, I shall take my place as your Matriarch.”
“Lead and we will follow.” Everyone chorused in return, which now included the teaching staff. I turned to face the auditorium as everyone also stood. The regalia, now displayed before my eyes, was simply breathtaking. Wands all drawn, not to cast a binding or spell, but to show solidarity. To show they were freely giving their wands as mine to command.
“My Legion.” I thought to myself.
“Today we have some besoms to finish and more to begin.” I spoke aloud, shattering the silence. To that, Principal Marriott paced forward to begin her usual morning address.
“Wands away.” She sharply spoke. “As Miss Narissa has already mentioned we have besoms to finish and start more. We also have several of you needing to be attending flight training.” With Principal Marriott’s last statement she looked directly at the first row of students where Annie, Cathie, Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Vijay, Nyssa, Tessa, and Zoë sat.
“You know who you are. For the rest of you, Master Kovar is waiting for you in the gymnasium.” Principal Marriott finished. “Dismissed.” Everyone quickly began filing out of the auditorium. The sabre I held in my hand would need to be prominently displayed and I could think of no better place than in the middle of the gymnasium where everyone would be diligently working today. I proceeded ahead of Annie and Cathie, with Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Vijay, Nyssa, Tessa, and Zoë following closely behind. After entering the gymnasium I found Ferule standing patiently beside a replica of the glass case that used to reside in the Chancellery Hall.
“Very thoughtful, Mr. Drago.” I quipped.
“Such an object of value must be displayed where everyone can be reminded of its importance, Miss Narissa.” Ferule responded.
“I could not agree more.” I replied back. I noted the elegant wrought iron pedestal the case rested upon. It resembled the claws of a dragon, perhaps even more than just one. The base resembled the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water. The linen lining to the case boldly contrasted to the bright silver blade and the polished black scabbard I was about to lay upon it. Crossing the blade over the scabbard, I laid them in the case and Ferule unceremoniously but dutifully closed it. The blade’s history was well known amongst anyone who called themselves a witch or wizard. The top of the glass case was etched with the roman numerals of twenty-seven.
“Thank You, Ferule.” I politely spoke.
“Your coven is waiting, mistress.” Ferule responded.
“Yes, Ferule.” I giggled. I turned about to see Annie and Cathie, with Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Vijay, Nyssa, Tessa, and Zoë all waiting patiently with their besoms and flying suits.
“You’ll be needing this, Narissa.” Professor Montay spoke as she offered me my besom and suit.
“Anything else I forgot, Professor?” I asked.
“Just remember that dinner will be promptly at 7:00 this evening.” Professor Montay replied. Quickly we filed into the gymnasium change room and quickly donned our flying suits. Once properly attired, we all exited the gymnasium with our besoms. Barely outside, the ten of us mounted our besoms and hovered barely above the ground. My besom vibrated beneath me, waiting for me to command it to sweep into the sky. I glanced at the others, and their gaze met mine before we simultaneously shot upwards. As we sped across the sky barely above the trees, we seemed to leave a wake in our paths as I noticed those below us. Gentle waves accompanied our passing as we returned the same. It seemed surreal; knowing everyone who saw us, knew who we were, and what we were now becoming.
“You have fans, Narissa.” Cathie projected towards me.
“I know.” I quipped in return. The ten of us formed a single line and we continued to speed across the ground. As we approached the airfield, we began to hear the sound of roaring engines.
“It sounds like they’re waiting for us.” I softly projected to my compatriots. We rounded the field and set down close to the main hangar. Lieutenant Griffin approached us before we managed a survey of the hangar area. The roaring of engines was deafening.
“Good morning, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin greeted us, almost shouting. “We weren’t expecting you until this evening. Please accompany me into the hangar foyer.” The three of us quickly followed behind Lieutenant Griffin, away from the sound of the engines. We continued to follow Lieutenant Griffin all the way to the Officers Lounge. I immediately sensed the entire room had been enveloped in a protective barrier.
“You expecting trouble, Lieutenant?” I asked.
“No, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin replied.
“Then why the protective charms on this room?” I asked politely.
“Professor Montay’s instructions.” Lieutenant Griffin replied once more, as our attention was now drawn to the windows. Flyer after flyer whipped past the windows in rapid succession. I noted the besoms the flyers rode upon and the Sopwith Dragons that were vainly trying to chase them.
“A quick question, Lieutenant.” I politely asked. “Why would Professor Montay insist upon the shield charms?”
“I do not know,” Lieutenant Griffin returned. “And I didn’t ask.”
“For you protection, ladies.” Professor Montay’s voice rang out from behind me. “The last thing we need is for any of you to be injured so close to the Sabbat.”
“While I understand, Professor.” I now spoke. “These shield charms do nothing from protecting any of us from a besom or worse, crashing thru these windows.”
“And do not tell me, it is for my own good, Professor.” I projected only to Professor Montay.
“Keep your thoughts to yourself, Narissa.” Professor Montay returned with equal force, accompanied with an equally stern expression.
“Professor,” Annie interrupted before I could query further. “Will the Sabbat celebrations be held at the estate gardens?”
“An excellent suggestion, Annie.” Professor Montay quipped. “It has been a very long time since we’ve held our celebrations so close to the Capital. But today, the eleven of you have a task, and while some of you are ready, others of your group require some instruction.”
“Yes Professor.” I replied. I knew now why Professor Montay had insisted the shield charms be put in place. Our sitting room had been so heavily shielded by protection spells but also by Ferule’s presence. This was to be the last time Professor Montay would be giving us a lesson, and I knew it.
“Ladies, some quick review is in order first.” Professor Montay stated. With Professor Montay’s announcement, we all quickly gave her our complete attention.
“Teleportation requires a degree of concentration.” Professor Montay continued. Professor Montay openly displayed the contents of a small wooden box. Eleven small silver rings sat inside the box and she quickly closed the lid.
“There is one for each of you.” Professor Montay stated. While the others attempted to teleport a ring from the box, I closed my eyes and imagined opening the lid and removing one ring from the box. I waited patiently for everyone else to retrieve a ring from the box while I held mine firmly in my hand. Professor Montay instructed each of the others in turn, before finally shooting a wink at me. I opened my hand and displayed my open palm. While everyone else had successfully retrieved a ring from the closed box, I was the only one who did not use a wand, nor use a charm. I noted the complete looks of disbelief from the others as I closed my eyes once more and imagined my ring inside the closed box. Professor Montay opened the box to display the lone ring I had just returned.
“Well done, Ladies.” Professor Montay spoke. “But can anyone tell us how Miss Narissa removed and returned her ring?” I noted the look of deference reflected in each of their eyes. No one spoke or offered an explanation.
“Miss Narissa?” Professor Montay now asked.
“I moved myself, not the ring.” I replied.
“And how is that accomplished?” Professor Montay openly asked. No one offered an explanation. “Miss Narissa?”
“By teleporting myself to when you displayed the contents of the box to us. Just before you closed it.” I answered.
“This is today’s lesson, everyone.” Professor Montay announced.
“You will be needing this skill to find a document, a very old document.”
“Oraculum de Tres Virtus, Professor?” Tessa meekly asked.
“You are correct, Miss Tessa.” Professor Montay replied. “Do any of you know the importance of this document?”
“The Oraculum was written in 2251,” Tessa responded. “And is considered by many to be a prophecy.“
“That is not entirely correct.” Professor Montay finished. “I was just a little girl when a fire destroyed our ancestral estate and the Oraculum along with it.”
“But Professor,” Lieutenant Griffin interrupted. “The Oraculum is on display in the Chancellery Archives.”
“It is a translation by the Priest Jean Oliver Briand.” I interjected. “It is dated 2251, while he was an assistant to the Bishop. The original was written in Latin and is dated 2111. Lady Narissa De Witte wrote the original herself and there were two seals affixed. The document on display in the Archives does not have either.”
“Correct.” Professor Montay added. “You will all note the ring eight of you retrieved from the box is made of silver and has a garnet. If you spin the garnet clockwise, you will find it is removable.”
The others all did as they were instructed and found each of their rings matched except the ring Lieutenant Griffin and I held. Cathie stood and though reluctantly, she removed her broach and placed it into the box before placing her own ring onto her left hand. Everyone else followed suit and wore their new rings on their left hands as well. The ring worn by Cathie was similar in appearance to my own, but with a major difference. It contained a Cross Pattee Herald where mine was a lone Fylfots Gules. These two rings denoted our stations.
“Professor?” Lieutenant Griffin asked. “Why do I have this one?”
“Because yours is very special.” Professor Montay replied. “And do not ask me why that ring is now yours.” I knew instantly why, but did not mention aloud to the others. Professor Montay shot me a very stern glance and I knew I must not speak my mind, as to reveal it would also reveal why Professor Montay had chosen this particular lesson for us.
“The original document was destroyed by fire in 2390.” Professor Montay began. “Today’s lesson is transportation to a specific time. This can only be accomplished while seven of you stand equidistant outside a ring of salt while three of you attempt to teleport from within the ring.” Professor Montay lowered a map from the ceiling, which was clearly a navigation map and began the new lesson.
“You will all need to travel to here.” Professor Montay continued while pointing at a specific point on the map. “You will be escorted by a squadron of Dragon’s and a minimum of a full mounted troop on besom.”
“Professor?” Lieutenant Griffin asked. “Why would we need such a large escort?
“If for any reason, should any of you break the ring, those who succeeded in transporting will not be able to return.” Professor Montay continued. “You will need to transport to a very specific time and if you are successful, those who started the fire will not know you have been there.”
“Professor?” Tessa boldly asked. “Do we know who started the fire?”
“No, Miss Tessa.” Professor Montay added. “But we do know the Ruling Council was behind it. Without the original document we will not be able to prove to the Council as to whom is the true heir.” It was at that moment I knew why this was so dangerous. The Council believed the original document had been destroyed and if it was discovered the document remained intact, the chamberlain would have perhaps done more to prevent any of us from returning from exile.”
“Professor?” Annie now asked. “Were you there, at the estate I mean?”
“Yes I was.” Professor Montay answered.