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Aberdare Multimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows & Lights

AWAKENING

 

 

1

 

 

Johanez Johntson

 

 



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.




 



 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

“Join with me, in my memory of that night.” Professor Montay projected strongly to us. Together, I felt pulled into a scene of a room of rich wood panel and white plaster. Bookshelves filled an upper gallery and luxurious wingback chairs dotted the room. In the middle of the room sat a large podium whose glass top revealed a lone piece of parchment. An elderly man wearing a well-tailored uniform stood over the podium. From the light of a heavy candelabrum he smashed the top glass of podium and removed the parchment. He rolled the parchment into a small steel cylinder before exiting the room into the foyer. The foyer was a blaze of smoke and fire and the man quickly withdrew back into the room. Panicked shouts and the sound of running feet outside the closed door signalled the man was now trapped.

 

The scene ended abruptly, and I soon found myself focusing on a dented cylinder similar to the one the man had rolled the parchment into. Professor Montay placed the cylinder on the desk in front of us. Inside the cylinder was grey ash and blobs of red wax.

 

“This must be found if we are to be successful.” Professor Montay stated aloud, quickly drawing all of our attention. “You must exchange this for the one you saw in my memory.”

 

“And how do you expect us to do that, Professor?” Zoë quipped.

 

“The man you all saw in my memory was never found following the fire, but the cylinder was found in the rubble. You will need to exchange this cylinder with the one you saw him carrying.” Professor Montay noted. “And you have a very small window of opportunity to do so.”

 

“Professor?” I now asked. “If that was your memory, how did you escape the fire?”

“I escaped thru a passage under the gallery.” Professor Montay stated, and then added. “I must not see any of you do this, as I have believed the man had intended to steal the document and cover it up with the fire.”

 

“And who was he, Professor?” Annie asked.

 

“We do not know.” Professor Montay noted. “What we do know is approximately what time the fire consumed the foyer as a clock was found stopped at precisely 2:07am Sun, 28 Samanios 2390.”

 

“And we will need to be in and out before that time, Professor?” I concluded.

 

“Yes, Miss Narissa.” Professor Montay affirmed. The remainder of our lesson included creating a transportation circle and how to maintain the circle while transporting in and out of the circle. Finally Professor Montay had Annie, Cathie and I, transport within the Officers Lounge and retrieve the contents of the box. Our final preparations ended with Cathie’s broach exchanged for my ring. Professor Montay managed a very noticeable smile after we completed our last transportation.

 

“Well done, all of you.” Professor Montay praised, as I exchanged Cathie’s broach for my ring from the box.

 

“Professor,” I casually mentioned as I closed the wooden box containing the last ring and now Cathie’s broach. “You will be needing these today.”

 

“I will indeed.” Professor Montay replied quietly. I was barely able to contain my emotions as I gazed at Professor Montay and placed the small wooden box into her outstretched hand. The ring and broach together would open a case containing what we now knew to be a cleverly forged document. Professor Montay stepped out and moments later several stewards arrived with large trays of food.

 

“Lunch is served, ladies.” The head steward announced. The stewards deposited their wares upon a table and we all dived into it. It was then I noticed Professor Montay had departed and we were now left to our own devices. I noticed the protective shield that had previously surrounded the Officer’s Lounge had been lifted and the dragon’s had long since landed. I noted a few flyers were still buzzing back and forth.

 

“Anyone care to go for a ride after lunch?” I asked. There was no need for any further encouragement as everyone heartily agreed. We abandoned our now empty lunch plates and quickly grabbed our besoms from where we had unceremoniously left them after we had arrived. Moments later, we zoomed back and forth across the airfield as though beckoning the dragons to join us. Shortly after, we heard the roar of engines and the first of many Sopwith Dragons lumbering towards the runway. We sped off into the sun as the first of the Dragons lifted off from the ground. For the better part of the afternoon the Dragon pilots followed us across the sky until their fuel tanks dictated they return to the airfield. We continued to circle the airfield as the last dragon returned to the hangar.

 

It was a little disappointing when Lieutenant Griffin waved at us from the ground. Together we all descended onto the apron next to where Lieutenant Griffin stood.

 

“There’s been an emergency, Mistress.” Lieutenant Griffin announced. My heart instantly leapt into my throat. “Professor Montay was found unconscious at the Chancellery earlier this afternoon. She’s been admitted to hospital.”

 

Without waiting for any further information, I mounted my besom and sped into the sky. The wind whipped my face as I urged my besom to full speed. Travelling in a straight line, with absolutely no concern for being seen, I descended towards what I knew would be an unwelcome arrival. Though I had not waited to be told the circumstances of what had happened to Professor Montay, I knew the Chamberlain was responsible.

 

The chamberlain had dealt a very nasty blow, and I was personally very angry. I sped towards the airfield while approaching the speed of sound. I landed to a waiting escort of no less that a full platoon of heavily armed guards. Their weapons were instantly turned to blobs of twisted metal and hardwood as I approached on foot while carrying my besom.

 

Officially, I was now the nastiest bitch ever to walk the planet. I walked past the guards who flew several meters away from me in a most indignant manner. The armored vehicle standing in my way literally fell apart as nuts and bolts holding it together were snapped like twigs underneath a person’s foot on a forest floor. I hopped into a waiting staff car and regarded the driver and officer who were its occupants.

 

“Headquarters building,” I calmly commanded. The driver wasted no time in complying with my command while the officer tried to jump out.

 

“Stay where you are, Coward.” I commanded to the officer. Moments later, the staff car rolled to a stop in front of the headquarters building and I hopped out, still carrying my besom. I levitated to the second story and with my wand, ripped the window out of its sash, exposing the Commanding Officer’s desk to me. I stepped into the second floor office where the desk sat.

 

“I have a message for you to tell your master to meet me this evening, alone.” I softly commanded. “Do you understand the message, sir?”

 

“Y-Y-Yes, Ma’am!” The Commanding Officer responded. “B-B-But W-W-Where?”

 

“He will know.” I returned. My furry was beginning to slow, but still had not disappeared. If I were to face the Chamberlain tonight, I would need to be calm and clear headed. The guards outside the building suddenly dropped their weapons in twisted masses of metal and shards of wood.

 

“You make sure to tell your master ALONE.” I stated almost in a whisper. The look of fear upon this man’s face was evident. The carnage around the airfield escalated as I placed my feet into the stirrups of my besom and disappeared out the side of the open building. As the wind whipped my face, I flew higher into the air and gave no concern to remaining hidden from view. The time had come to make public the very secret war the Chamberlain was waging against us. I soon had an escort of more than a hundred pilots on their besoms and together we descended to skim the contours of the ground leaving only whispering winds in our combined wake. Annie, Cathie, Deanna, Nyssa, Rachel, Tessa, Valerie, Vijay and Zoë soon slid up alongside me. I was certain that every person residing close to our flight path heard the evidence of our passage. I, as marking the front lines of what was to become no-man’s land, landed finally and stood defiantly facing east.

 

“Ego sum nemo, ego sum ventus, per incendia quod unda ego sum orbis terrarum sto super.” (I am no one; I am the wind with fire and water. I am the earth I stand upon.) I recanted strongly, and with a swish of my wand, the ground I stood on was now laid barren in a sweeping mass. The binding I had cast made this the place where the Chamberlain would meet me. He would draw himself to it. Justice was about to be delivered and only the Chamberlain and myself could enter into the circle I had created. I walked to the edge and stepped over the boundary limit. It was done. My escorts stood in awe of the arena I had created. A place where only two combatants would enter. I resolved myself that if my confrontation with the Chamberlain failed then I would rise up more powerful from the ashes like a phoenix. Either way, the Chamberlain would have no choice but to face me ‘tête-à-tête’. I mounted my besom and together we all lifted off from the ground and headed back to the sanctuary of Victoria Estates without masking our route. Midnight would not come soon enough for my liking.

 

The remainder of the early evening was marked by silence and the darkening sky outside seemed to reflect the mood I was now in. She was gone. No one had to tell me. To me, she was more than just my teacher. She had allowed me to hope. That my entire existence and everyone who had assisted me to reach this point meant nothing without hope.

 

Was I still angry? I could honestly say I was not. Could I forgive the result of the atrocity that had claimed her life? Perhaps I could. Would I ever forget? The only answer to that was never. Never again would the chamberlain force me to run and hide. Never again would I impose exile upon myself or any other member of the Family. Never again, was all I could think about. Never again, never again. The chiming of the clock announced dinner and I was no closer to being calm and focused upon the challenge in front of me. Controlling my emotions was a difficult task for me to achieve. The silence around me was broken by the sweeping sound of shoes scuffing the floor.

 

“You need to stop being so pissed.” Annie stated openly, as she passed by my door for the almost hundredth time.

 

“I know, but I can’t help it.” I answered back. “She’s gone, and there’s no bringing her back.”

 

“You are correct.” Uncle Vlad calmly stated. “She may have been your teacher, but she was my sister. Though it pains me to say so, she would not have wanted you to feel sad at her passing.”

 

“I know, but it still hurts.” I wept. “And it doesn’t go away.”

 

“Do you remember the very first lesson she taught you?” Uncle Vlad asked.

 

“I do.” I giggled a little thru my tears. “During dinner that first night, the price for what I seek may not be what I am willing to pay.”

 

“She knew the price,” Uncle Vlad consoled me. “For your freedom, she was willing to pay it.”

 

“But it doesn’t make it hurt any less.” I sobbed.

 

“Do you remember the second lesson you learned?” uncle Vlad asked me softly as I continued to weep.

 

“I was not going to underestimate her, nor does she underestimate me.” I wept.

 

“I believe her sacrifice will give you the edge to defeat the chamberlain. Uncle Vlad stated, “As he will probably underestimate you with your mentor not able to provide you with wisdom.”

 

“Time, I need time.” I stated while trying to wipe my tears away.

 

“Time you have plenty of, Narissa.” Uncle Vlad mentioned. “What you are lacking at the moment is to look at what she has given you in abundance.” I sat looking into my Great Uncle’s deep blue eyes, with the realization all I needed was the patience to see clearly instead of blinded by hate and anger.

 

“Love,” I stated very clearly. “It’s all I need to defeat him.”

 

“I distinctly remember you saying that once before.” Uncle Vlad smiled at me. I stood straight, and in doing so managed to clear my head of all thought save one. The pure act of love she had given. The sacrifice pledged from the love she held for me. The singular act of affection that showed she cared. She taught this lesson, and I had almost forgotten.

 

“Dinner is served.” Ferule discretely announced. Together we all headed downstairs to the dining room. Almost in silence Ferule served us dinner and I found myself playing with my cutlery instead of eating. My eyes bounced back and forth between my plate and the empty chair Professor Montay had always occupied. The front door bell chimed and moments later Ferule stepped into the dining room with a plain white envelope.

 

“A message address to you, Mistress.” Ferule spoke while he handed me the envelope. It bore nothing else except my name on the outside. Nervously I opened the message and read its contents aloud.

 

“Weep not at my passing, but rejoice in my life.” I imagined Professor Montay’s voice echo inside my head. “You have everything you need to succeed, and I have made it my life to prepare you.” I pondered these words as though Professor Montay had spoken them herself.

 

“I am ready.” I announced. I was now ready to face the chamberlain.

 

“Then get your butt out there and kick his ass!” Annie quipped. I knew exactly how to present myself to him. Dressed in the ceremonial white robes I had worn on only one other occasion.

 

“My dress robes.” I stated openly. They were exactly what was needed to show the chamberlain my station, and if nothing else have him remember the place that was my birthright.

 

“A wise choice, Mistress.” I heard Ferule’s voice inside my head. “I shall have to see if I have not forgotten where I put them after you wore them last.”

 

“My dress robes, good sir.” I projected fondly back to Ferule. “Are exactly where you put them.” I vacated the dinner table without being excused and headed upstairs. Upon entering my room I walked over to the wall and clicked the catch concealing the hidden storage compartment.

 

I did not tarry long to begin dressing myself in my robes. Both Annie and Cathie had also found their own robe compartments and began dressing also. The absolutely hideous broom Hilda shoes waited patiently for me to begin lacing them onto my feet. After struggling to open the laces I finally gave up and with a swish of my wand, the shoes were transported onto my stocking feet.

 

“Patience” I had to remind myself, as I stood in front of my dressing mirror. My mind sped ahead to midnight and I pondered the possibilities of what would immediately follow the pleasantries of my duel with the Chamberlain. There were so many things bouncing thru my mind in rapid succession.

 

“Calm yourself, Mistress.” Ferule spoke from behind me. “I remember you asking me to do that once before.”

 

“I remember it well Ferule.” I responded. The memory did more to calm me than any other words spoken to me since the news of what had recently transpired. I cleared my head of all thoughts save one. The small window Ferule had left open for me, and my discovery of his role. Clutching my wand, I strode out into the sitting room where both Annie and Cathie waited patiently.

 

“Well, here goes nothing.” I almost giggled. Together we strode into the hall and without thinking, we waited for footsteps we would never hear again. I gently pushed Cathie forward who in turn nudged Annie and together we descended the staircase. Uncle Vlad waited at the foot of the stairs dressed in his tuxedo and cape. Ferule offered each of us in turn our cloaks and our besoms. With a single tear I noticed the one cloak being left behind. Together we all passed the front portal into the crisply cool evening.

 

The gentle clicking of our shoes against the driveway stones was the only sound announcing our passing. One pair of footsteps ceased as Annie, Cathie and I continued towards the sports field and my duel with the Chamberlain. We found Deanna, Nyssa, Rachel, Tessa, Valerie, Vijay, Zoë and Lieutenant Griffin waiting for us. Their robes flowed around them as a gentle autumn breeze crossed the open field. Without a single word, we lifted off from the ground and flew above the treetops towards the ground I laid barren earlier today.

 

It was barely another quarter hour as together we sedately landed outside the spot where tonight’s duel was to take place. After several nervous minutes I hugged everyone and excepting for Lieutenant Griffin, they departed back to Victoria Estates.

 

“Well Lieutenant,” I finally broke the silence with. “It’s just you and me now.”

“Please, call me Amelia.” Lieutenant Griffin spoke frankly. “And Professor Montay suggested I should be your second if it should ever be required.” Together we waited in the whispers of the wind for the Chamberlain and his second to arrive.



 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

My duel with the chamberlain ended poorly for me. As I awoke in a well-lit room that was quite obviously a prison cell, it had been created solely for someone of high stature. I quickly surveyed the room and found all the luxuries and amenities were not denied. The only thing that was denied was imposed by the heavy bindings that reduced my abilities to that of a novice. The Chamberlain obviously underestimated how imaginative I could be, and also how advanced my skills of the craft were.

 

“Guard!” I called out sharply. Several moments later a slide on the heavy door opened and I witnessed a pair of eyes looking back at me.

 

“Yes, Mistress?” the guard spoke.

 

“Tell the Chamberlain I wish to know his terms.” I lied.

 

“As you wish, Mistress.” The guard replied, and shut the slide abruptly. I heard a lock click in place indicating the slide was secured. I looked above my head and found the Chamberlain had a sense of humor. My wand was firmly secured to the skylight window sash. Having underestimated me completely, my previous practice of levitating above the floor, proved useful in allowing me to simply walk vertically up the wall. Upon reaching the ceiling, my need to recover my wand overrode my sense of modesty and I unceremoniously covered the distance upside down and plucked my wand from the restraint. Still sensing the barriers the chamberlain had placed upon my prison cell, I simply walked thru the skylight and onto the parapet of the tower my cell was located inside of. Once outside, the barriers restraining me melted away with each step I took away from the cell’s location.

 

“Virga Sirsum!” I commanded. I waited a considerable amount of time, before my besom sped into view from high in the sky. My besom quickly sped into my waiting outstretched hand. I noted an alarm had not yet been raised and mounted my besom. I hovered above the parapet and allowed my besom to slowly lower me to the ground. I waited patiently for several minutes just a few feet from the most logical entrance to the prison tower and hovered on my besom. It was a few minutes later that, the Chamberlain showed himself after having obviously received my previous message.

 

“Good afternoon, Chamberlain.” I calmly greeted him. His look of disbelief showed long before he spoke.

 

“How did you?” the Chamberlain sputtered.

 

“I do enjoy a little air in the afternoon.” I spoke, completely ignoring the Chamberlain’s question and with only the will of my mind, relieved him of his own wand. I now dismounted my besom while his wand bounced on my shoulder.

 

“Walk with me, Chamberlain.” I now commanded.

 

There was something in the wake of his smile, a little peace of heaven turned to dust. At one time the chamberlain had been a man of charm and poise, but his only purpose seemed bent on destroying that which I held very close. The half truths and white lies masked his true purpose from the eyes of the governing council. This was the world I had been awakened to. My place was to provide a reasonable balance of logic to those whose minds had been corrupted by fear of what the family was capable of doing with or without their consent.

 

The desire to inflict considerable damage to the chamberlain’s already fragile hold upon the governing council was replaced with the gentle understanding that he would eventually undermine his own position and their minds would be forever free of his influence. It was strange to play this game of diplomacy in favor of a more direct approach.

 

The Chamberlain was indeed wise beyond my few years, but experience and deceit would soon be replaced with open honesty and virtuous intent. I knew there might be no way for the chamberlain and I to live under the same sun.

 

“Lord Chamberlain,” I started. “I fear you and I will one day duel again, with the flashing of a light smashing the night, as evil shadows lurk beyond us, waiting for us to devour one another.”

 

“But not today, Mistress.” The Chamberlain replied, shocking me by being not only formal, but also polite. “There exists on the political horizon, a force that does not concern our world, but will affect us, none the less.”

 

“I can see the writing on the wall as clearly as you can, Lord Chamberlain.” I answered. “The threat you speak of has already been forcing members of my family to seek sanctuary.”

 

“Your tutor has indeed prepared you well, Mistress.” The Chamberlain answered. “But the threat will be a common enemy.”

 

“And you fear you may become a pawn to this new threat to our world.” I added.

 

“This enemy you speak of has already made advances upon our world.” The chamberlain spoke with a harsh tone.

 

“And that has nothing to do with our present business, Lord Chamberlain.” I concluded.

 

“Still focusing upon the past are we?” the Chamberlain mocked.

 

“The Council is meeting following the solstice, and I presume you will make every effort to see that none of the Great Houses of Brougham are represented.” I spat at the Chamberlain, switching to the more immediate future.

 

“That will be none of my doing.” The Chamberlain replied. “We both know the proof of your claim to the council seat was destroyed long ago.”

“While that may be true, you also know that there exists a very clever forgery.” I returned.

 

“Ah yes.” The Chamberlain responded. “The translation locked inside the Archives.”

 

“I know Professor Montay met with you to discuss that document.” I mentioned.

 

“Yes, My cousin’s wife has been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember.” The Chamberlain spat. “I do not mourn at her passing, but I assure you I had nothing to do with her untimely death. And I believe I have something that should be returned to your house, lest it should fall into the hands of someone unscrupulous.” My afternoon air with the Chamberlain continued and while it surprised me that he had such good manners, I still did not trust him. Continuing, the Chamberlain escorted me to a covered patio and a proper tea service cart. I was surprised to find Amelia seated next to it.

 

“Ah, Good afternoon, Lieutenant.” The chamberlain spoke. “I trust you’ve been enjoying your tea?”

 

“Are we staying, or are we free to go, Lord Chamberlain?” Amelia politely asked.

 

“You are free to go, but please permit me to extend an invitation to you to join the gallery when the Council convenes following the Sabbat.” The Chamberlain taunted.

 

“We will meet again, Lord Chamberlain.” I responded. And noting the wooden box I had last seen with Professor Montay, I picked it up and was truly surprised to find the broach and ring still inside.

 

“You’re welcome, Mistress.” The Chamberlain responded, and poured himself a cup of tea as Amelia and I ascended aboard my besom and into the sun.

 

It was scarcely a half hour later that I set down near the ruins of an old country estate. My first steps on the grounds echoed in my ears as the old stone filling the driveway wrinkled the vegetation growing over them under my feet. In the burned out shell of what used to be the main hall, birds flitted lazily back and forth as we approached. Not another living soul walked the stones with us as I climbed the few steps from the drive to what remained of the main door.

 

“He’s being very clever.” I thought aloud.

 

“I agree, Mistress.” Amelia responded.

 

“Do you know where we are, Amelia?” I asked.

 

“No, Mistress.” Amelia replied to my question.

 

“We are standing on the grounds of our ancestral home.” I quietly announced. “And barely a hundred meters from where she is buried.”

 

“And he’s been having us followed since we left?” Amelia commented.

 

“Of course.” I added. “I would have done no less.”

 

“Ferule?” I firmly projected. “I know you are here my friend.”

 

“Patience, Mistress.” Ferule softly projected back to me. “Nightfall will soon be upon us.”

 

“Until then, my friend.” I returned affectionately. “We will be exploring the ruins.”

 

“A wise choice to pass your time, Mistress.” I heard Ferule’s voice echo inside my mind, before he severed his link to me.

 

I pressed my hand into the rough stonewall and willed the stone to reveal its secrets to me. Almost instantaneously, I found myself standing in the grand foyer during a time that must have been long before the fire that destroyed it.

 

“What am I doing here?” I whispered to myself.

 

“You are still looking for answers, Narissa.” I distinctly heard Professor Montay’s voice ring out. The rich wood paneling adorning the walls and the bright white plaster on the ceiling defied my imagination, as I knew they should be charred ash and rubble under my feet instead of the beauty I refused to let my eyes believe.

 

“Oraculum de Tres Virtus” I spoke clearly and distinctly. The ghosts of the past danced lazily around me as I felt myself drawn towards the staircase dominating the inside of the foyer. I found myself wandering the deserted hall above the main foyer and bouncing from room to room like I was playing hide and seek where I was the one seeking. My wandering was familiar, as though I had actually seen everything I saw with my own eyes. The gallery overlooking a reading room was a definite place of interest for me and as surely as I laid my own eyes upon it, the original Oraculum rested inside the lone podium in the center of the room.

 

“Narissa?” Amelia’s voice startled me and I withdrew my hand from the stone face.

 

“Sorry, you startled me, Amelia.” I spoke.

 

“You gave me such a fright.’ Amelia commented while only now I noticed her breathing beginning to slow.

 

“How’s that?” I asked.

 

“One minute you were there, then you were gone, then when I called out, you reappeared.” Amelia confided.

 

“Oh, how absolutely marvelous.” I stated. “I figured out how to do it now.”

 

“Do what?” Amelia asked quietly.

 

“Save the Oraculum, of course.” I commented. To that I quickly added. “We can simply replace it with our own forgery.”

 

“And how do you propose we do that, Narissa?” Amelia asked.

 

“Ferule?” I projected calmly “Please bring one of the volumes, ink and seal wax with you when you lead the others to us this evening.”

 

“Of course, Mistress.” I heard ferule’s voice echo in my head. My robes were still quite crisp although the hems had been dragged thru the dirt.

 

“I don’t understand, Mistress.” Amelia queried.

 

“Not to worry, Amelia.” I tried to calm her. “We will be needing your ring this evening.”

 

“Now I understand, Mistress.” Amelia stated. “You’re going to copy the Oraculum, and substitute the original.”

 

“And lock the original inside the volume.” I added. The perfect place to hide it as the bindings prevent any of the elements from destroying it.” I opened the box and traded Amelia’s ring for the ring inside the box, and together we waited for the sun to finally disappear below the edge of the horizon.

 

The sound of distant engines greeted our ears long before the sound of Ferule’s massive wings and the scraping of his claws against the driveway stones. Moments later we had an escort troop land nearby before the others arrived.

 

“Am I ever glad to see you two.” Annie quipped as she dismounted her besom. “We thought the Chamberlain had taken you prisoner!”

 

“He did, actually.” I quipped back.

 

“How did you escape?” Tessa asked.

 

“He let us go.” Amelia answered. The Subaltern of the troop reported to Amelia.

 

“The perimeter is secure, Ma’am.” The Subaltern reported.

 

“Good, return to your troops and keep the area secure.” Amelia ordered.

 

“What now?” Rachel asked.

 

“Just like we practiced.” I noted and Annie brought forward my copy of the three volumes. I removed a single page from the back of the volume and noted the loose sheet next to the page I removed. I firmly close the volume once again and handed it to Amelia.

 

“Keep this safe for me.” I spoke softly to Amelia before we began to arrange ourselves. After making our final preparations, Valerie drew a ring of salt around us and then stood in position with the seven of them holding their besoms at staff length completing a circle around Annie, Cathie and I.

 

“Follow close behind me, and do not wander your thoughts astray.” I projected warmly to Annie and Cathie. Moments later we transported ourselves thru the seemingly invisible fabric of time to where I had previously traveled in thought alone.

 

“What are your orders, Ma’am?” I overheard a voice ask.

 

“There have been rumors of a trio of witches who will try to steal the Oraculum from the podium.” I heard another woman’s voice answer. “Post a guard this evening, just to be safe.”

 

“Hide amongst the shadows before we are seen.” I projected softly.

”And do not come out until I call for you.” Annie and Cathie both quickly hid as I openly mounted the stairs and gently pushed the main door of the Foyer fully open. I did nothing to disguise myself and my hair cascaded down my shoulders. Moments later a guard rushed past me and locked the main door behind me. Still linked with Annie and Cathie I moved forward quickly to where the reading room was located and swung the door open wide. Inside, a familiar pair of eyes greeted me.

 

“Good Evening, Jutta.” I greeted a much younger Professor Montay.

 

“Good evening, Mistress.” The younger Professor Montay replied. “Mother and the others are expecting you in their sitting room.”

 

“Will you lead me to them please, Jutta?” I asked while still connecting my thoughts to both Annie and Cathie.

 

“Mother will be pleased I have found you.” The younger Jutta Griffin maintained and quite joyfully led me up the grand staircase and down the upper foyer to an open door near the end of the hall. Jutta bounded thru the open door and disappeared inside.

 

“She’s here, Mother!” I heard Jutta shriek as I stepped into the sitting room. Wands were drawn on me almost immediately, and quickly recanted charms shot towards me in blinding flashes of light. The charms harmlessly bounced off me as both Annie and Cathie had quickly reacted to defending me with shield charms.

 

“That is truly a most indignant manner to greet a guest under this roof.” I spoke aloud. “Even Vladimir has the manners to greet a lady with a bow instead of a drawn wand.” I noted the handsome eleven-year-old boy, who would one day be my guardian, had indeed bowed graciously upon my entering the sitting room. My own great grandmother sat defiantly with her wand still drawn, as the words escaped my lips.

 

“I know who you are, witch.” She accused me strongly.

 

“Please rise, Vladimir.” I asked, and the boy rose to greet me with the same blue eyes I had come to know so well. “Please leave us, as your mother and your aunts have much to discuss.”

“Miss Narissa?” Jutta asked. “Shall I have Ferule set you a place for dinner with us?”

 

“Please tell Ferule to set extra places for three, Jutta.” I answered. Within my mind I called Annie and Cathie to join me.

 

“You have nothing to fear from me,” I calmly stated. “I only come to protect the Oraculum from being destroyed.”

 

“That is impossible.” One of my great, great aunts shouted. I noted the volume resting on the stand next to one of the chairs.

 

“How can I prove to you, I am who I am?” I asked as guards escorted Annie and Cathie into the sitting room. Wands remained drawn but I noticed they were only now pointed at the floor.

 

“If what you say is true, then one of you has the power to unlock this volume.” My great grandmother stated openly.

 

“What an excellent test.” The other’s chorused.

 

“I have to agree, as none of you have ever succeeded in revealing anything more than the embossing on the cover.” I stated. With wands still drawn, and the link between us seemingly grown stronger, our dearly uninformed relatives allowed the three of us to approach the stand the volume rested upon.

 

“Together, reveal first.” I projected.

 

“OSTENDO!” We chanted together while tapping our own wands against the book’s cover. At first nothing happened, but then the tri-foil knot we knew to be there, slowly revealed itself and became deeply embossed into the volume’s cover.

 

“Which of us is up to opening it?” I projected to Annie and Cathie.

 

“This one has to yours Narissa.” Annie projected back to me.

 

“Do you wish for me to open it, or have you seen enough?” I asked aloud.

 

“Open it, if you dare.” One of my great great aunts replied.

 

“Very well.” I quipped. “APERIO! And I gently lifted the book’s cover with ease. True to when I first opened the Volume’s cover in Karl’s bookshop, the pages appeared to be blank. And together Annie, Cathie and I resisted the temptation to allow any of it’s printed secrets to be revealed. Together we took a step back from the stand and almost in awe our older relatives stared at the blank pages.

 

“OSTENDO!” One of them attempted, to have only… ‘You are not Permitted’ to be richly scrolled across the page.

I paused briefly and softly recanted, “CLAUDO” and the volume quickly snapped shut. No further attempt was made to open it. The tri-foil knot embossed on the cover quickly faded.

 

“We’ve come to help you protect the Oraculum from being destroyed.” I quickly spoke. “We haven’t much time and we will need your help to do it.”

 

“What do you need?” we were asked.

 

“We’ve brought everything we need with us,” Annie quipped. “What we need is time alone in the reading room with the Oraculum.”

 

“Of course, follow me, quickly.” My great grandmother spoke softly.

 

“And we also need this volume too.” I announced. A short time later we were quietly sequestered alone in the reading room with enough time to complete the forgery. The broach and ring we brought with us, were a perfect match for the seals affixed to the original and we were now ready to make the swap. Cathie opened the door and beckoned our great grandmother inside.

 

“The key to the case, please.” I asked. The case was opened for us and after the swap had been made, I once again opened the Volume and found the originally torn page. After slipping the parchment inside, I relocked the Volume and added an additional shield against fire. It was done

 

“Please send my apologies to Ferule, that we will not be attending dinner.” I quipped.

 

“But why, Mother?” I heard Jutta speak. “Are they leaving so soon?”

 

“Jutta, I have something I want to show you.” I politely asked.

“Yes, Miss Narissa?” the younger Professor Montay asked.

 

“If you should ever need to be safe, I want you to promise me to use this passage.” I stated and I spun the hidden catch for Jutta to see, and the wall panel to slid open.

 

“Is it because the bad man who told us you were coming wants to steal the Oraculum?” Jutta asked.

 

“Its because he might send someone else to do It.” I added. “So you must never, ever tell anyone that we have been here, or what we did while we were here.”

 

“Yes, Miss Narissa.” Was Professor Montay’s reply, as the binding she had accepted took hold upon her. Holding her hand she led us back into the foyer and while it pained me to do so, we departed into the night. After only a few short steps we halted and transported ourselves back. I was never so relieved to see Ferule’s deep green eyes and the smell of brimstone. We’d done it.

 

“We can’t keep this up all night.” I heard Zoë quip. “Let’s get on with it, shall we?” I looked at both Annie and Cathie and couldn’t help myself from giggling.

 

“Alright, serious now.” I quipped back and while projecting to Annie and Cathie we transported ourselves nothing more than a few meters away from where we started. Breaking thru the circle as a group took a lot more than I realized and I slumped on the ground. After everyone realized we’d returned a few meters away from where we started, they looked a little puzzled.

 

“Done.” Annie quipped. Little did they know our quick teleport erased the transportation we had completed only moments before. We quickly gathered everything we brought with us and mounted our besoms. We wasted no time in ascending into the sky to have our dragon escorts join us and also have the troop shadow our return trip to the airfield. After the dragons had been refueled and safely stored away in their hangars, we retired to the Officer’s Lounge for a much needed, cup of tea. Shortly after that, the ten of us departed the airfield and we made our way back to the sports field. Clutching the closed volume in my hands, I began laughing hysterically. We’d done it. The next few days would reveal just how successful we were. The first few rays of dawn began to show on the horizon and I realized how much I needed to sleep in my own bed. We departed the sports field and I barely managed to get into my pajamas and crawl into bed before the sun shone brightly into my room.

 

 

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