I heave a heavy sigh as they disappear through the portal, dropping my sword and running to Kat. My arm throbs painfully, but I push it to the back of my mind. I need to make sure they are ok first.
I slide to a stop and fall onto my knees at her side, grabbing her by the shoulders. She’s hunched over, one hand to her stomach as she cups a glowing healing light. “Kat, are you ok? Lemme help,” I insist. I hear her muttering softly under her breath.
I catch her whispering to herself now that I’m kneeling in front of her. “Don’t burn it, please, please don’t burn it,” She repeats over and over as she continues to heal.
“Kat, hey. Let me help,” I say, placing my good hand on hers. I bend down, trying to grab her attention. She looks up, startled at my touch. Her face looks extremely pale, her eyes panicked. “Kat, let me help you,” I repeat, now that I’ve got her attention.
Her lip trembles as she looks into my eyes. “I don’t know if it’s working,” she whispers desperately. My heart aches to see her so distraught. None of us expected this, everything just happened so quickly. What else could we have done?
I take her hand in mine and squeeze it reassuringly. “Let’s do it together. Then we can jump back to the Guild and have Gwendalyn take a look. Ok?” Time is of the essence, but we need to heal the wound first. This I know.
She nods and I have her direct my hand to her wound. Together, we focus on the healing. I hardly notice as Caroline races up to us and adds her hands to the mix. I feel a touch on my shoulder and I look up to see the street flooded with light. Ambrosse is standing there at my shoulder and I notice Nik and Gwendalyn too, and finally, Markus.
“Allow me,” Ambrosse’s voice is soft. She crouches behind us, slipping her slender arm around Kat. She gently lifts our hands away from Kat’s stomach. She replaces them with her own, and it glows with bright blue light. The glow grows, spreading across Kat’s stomach and around her back.
I watch Kat’s face awash with relief. Her eyes droop and she falls into Ambrosse’s waiting arms as the glow fades. I sit there, stunned as Gwendalyn rushes up next, hovering her hands over Kat’s stomach, closing her eyes as she must be doing a reading. I feel Caroline’s hand squeeze mine as I stare, waiting, watching.
Gwendalyn sighs with relief. “Both are still strong,” she assures us. Everyone seems to turn around, toward the house and I spin around and see my family coming out of the house with Kaede, thankfully, unharmed.
My sisters come running out, Ylenia is crying as she runs up to Ambrosse and Kat. Kira runs to me and clutches onto my good arm.
“Is big sister ok?!” Ylenia cries, reaching for Kaitlyn’s blackened arm
Ambrosse gives her a soft smile, and in a motherly tone, replies. “Yes, she’s resting now.”
Ylenia’s eyes grow wide and she asks. “Are you her mother?”
“No,” Ambrosse answers sweetly. “But I did raise her. In a way, I do feel like her mother.”
“Illeana, we must move quickly. It’s not safe here,” Markus warns, his bright eyes scan the street as some of the neighbours have emerged from their houses, likely aroused by the commotion in the street. I wonder just how loud we might have been.
Ambrosse glances back at him. “We cannot open a portal with so many witnesses.”
I stand up, willing to offer. “I could take us. I can skip space. I can’t do such a large group all at once, but I could maybe take us two or three times,” I offer.
“That won’t be necessary,” Ambrosse says. “May we go inside? Once we are in… private, I will summon the portal.”
“Oh, sure, ok,” I say as she steps past me with Kat still in her arms. Somehow I can’t help but feel brushed off.
They guide everyone back into the house and my mother shuts the door tightly. She looks very strained by what we’ve just done. She looks at me, a question already on her lips. “Is this what it’s like? Is this what you do now?” she asks. I see the concern and fear in her eyes. It hurts to see that, but I can’t lie.
I nod, sadly. “They’re after Kaitlyn, so I often get caught up in it. But I have to protect her,” she nods, understanding in her eyes. I spot Nik looking at me coldly. What’s his problem this time? I get the strange feeling he thinks he could take care of her better than I could.
“There is more at risk than just Kaitlyn’s life,” Nik’s deep voice resonates in the room. “This is a war, for the sake of humanity,” Everyone’s gazes shift to Nik. The tension just got thicker. My father pushes everyone into the living room, coats and everything.
“Let’s just freak out the locals now, don’t we,” I say sarcastically, glaring up at him.
Nik scoffs. “They should be aware. Ignorance will not save them.”
I growl, ready to retort.
“Enough,” Ambrosse’s voice cuts through the tension. She hands Kat to Markus, looking like a doll in his arms. Ambrosse’s eyes study the room, falling over my parents, then my sisters. “This is your family, correct?” she asks, looking at me.
I nod. “Yes. They are.”
She studies my sisters closely. “Quite a gifted family indeed,” she turns to my parents, “Are you interested in coming to the Guild? I think it would be wise, at least for the time being.”
“We were just on our way to visit, before… well, before what just happened,” my father says.
“Excellent,” Ambrosse smiles. “If you’re ready, I will open the way,” he turns to mom and they share they silent look again before he nods in agreement.
I watch Kat closely, as I wait next to my parents and sisters. I can’t believe Sam followed us. I can’t believe she attacked Kat like that. And why did she look like that? I’ve never seen anything like it before, it was as if… as if she was possessed. I push down all my questions and worries, staring at Kat as Ambrosse opens the portal.
It produces a bright light as an enormous amount of energy emits from it in the shape of a door. She steps through and one by one, we follow her into her office on the other side. She directs Markus to place Kat on the couch and asks Gwen to take a look at her arm.
Once everyone’s is settled she turns to me but I pull away. “I’m fine, please. I’m more worried about her,” I say, turning away so she can’t touch my shoulder where Sam’s claw-like hands gouged my muscle. I can’t feel it much anymore anyway. Something in my gut shouts at me, knowing Kat would be angry with me if I refused.
“Kaitlyn and the baby are safe now. You are injured,” Ambrosse presses gently. “She would be upset with us both if you’re not well when she awakens.”
“I know… but…” I hesitate to comply, but I shouldn’t. I feel my parents eyes on me and I look over to see Ambrosse’s little golden dragonling sniffling at their legs. Ylenia looks ecstatic as she bends down, holding out her hand to touch it.
I turn back to Ambrosse and shrug. “Fine. Go ahead.”
Her face lights up, and she gestures for me to sit. As she pulls up a stool, she glances over at Ylenia. “His name is Typhon. Don’t worry, he is quite tame.”
“Can I have one too?” she asks, picking him up in her hands.
“Perhaps,” Ambrosse muses. “You should ask Kaitlyn. She is quite close with the dragons,” her eyes twinkle as they meet mine and I get the impression she’s somehow teasing me. I return a pointed expression. What is she up to?
I look over to see the healing duo finish with Kat and Rhoan shifts into a familiar blanket, wrapping her up like a burrito. I feel a warm sensation spread through my arm form the shoulder and look down as he glowing hands knit the skin back together. I notice that faint lines still mark the skin where her claws tore my flesh open. Another mark to add to the collection.
When Ambrosse finishes my arm, she roves around the room, checking on Caroline and Kaede and the girls. I must admit, now that the pains gone, my heads cleared a bit. I think over the events in the street and what went down. Something about my brief interaction with Sam bothers me.
Sam had said something I think Markus needs to know. I turn to Markus with a concerned look. “Markus, we were attacked by a girl I used to know, Samantha. She’s been working with your brother, I’m sure you’re aware. She said he wants our baby alive. This leads me to believe she wasn’t acting tonight on his orders.”
I pause, thinking it over before I ask. “Why would he want our baby alive?” I’m scared as soon as the words come out of my mouth.
Markus stares at me for a long time before he looks down at Kat. He strokes her hair with his rough hand. “A child of hers… and with the potency of your blood as well. I’m sure he sees the potential she carries. I would not put it past him to concoct some sort of plot to use its power for his gain.”
The anger in my guy boils at the mere idea of using a child to further your own gain. “I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen,” I growl.
“Nor will I,” Markus nods. Kat stirs at his touch. Her eyes flutter as she tries to shift. She struggles against the blanket and her eyes snap open with alarm.
I’m at her side In an instant, making sure she can see me. It reminds me very much of that time in Kaede’s basement, when we met for the first time. “Kaitlyn, shhh. You’re fine. The baby too. You’re both fine. Don’t worry,” I assure her.
Her gaze fixates on me and she relaxes. “Really? Everyone is okay?”
I nod with a smile. “Yes, don’t you worry.”
She looks around the room, then down at herself. “Would you mind? I’d like to get up.”
Rhoan grumbles and the blanket shrinks into a cat. She scratches his head as she sits up. The next thing I know, she throws her arms around my neck. I grit my teeth as she pulls me towards her.
“Ahh, Kat… Okay,” I groan. She pulls back and frowns. Her gaze shifts to the others, hovering around the room.
“How do you feel?” Ambrosse asks, leaning over to feel her forehead.
Kat shrinks back with all eyes on her. “Umm… fine, I guess?”
I turn to Markus, not sure what’s going to happen next. Are we safe to leave the office, or will there be a meeting?
Ambrosse stands. “Well, I think it might be best for you to return to your rooms. It’s late, and you need rest. Andrei, perhaps you can take your sisters with you so I may speak to your parents and find them accommodation for the night. I will send for them soon.”
“Oh right, sure. Kira, Ylenia, come. I’ll show you our rooms, ok?” I beckon them, pulling Kat up and grasping her hand in mine. Ylenia immediately runs over to Kat, grabbing her other hand while Kira takes mine silently. I see that Ylenia still holds the little dragon and I wonder if she’s trying to steal it from Ambrosse. I hide a smile that threatens to show.
Kat looks down at her sympathetically. “Typhon has to stay here. He’s Ambrose’s familiar,” as she speaks, the dragon wiggles out of Ylenia’s grip and flies up to Kat’s shoulder.
“But… no! Come back!” Ylenia whines, sad puppy-dog eyes following the dragon.
Kat glares at the little dragon, wrapped like a shawl around her shoulders. “No, I said you stay here, not stay with me. Nice try.”
“Typhon, come,” Ambrosse calls. The dragonling huffs before he jumps off Kat’s shoulders. She flinches as his claws tear the wool of her tattered sweater.
“Let’s head up,” I tell them, walking towards the door. I lead my sisters and Kat back to the rooms. Ylenia can’t stop asking questions about everything we see so I do my best to answer. Occasionally Kat adds things that even I didn’t know.
When we get to the room, Kat heads into the shower. The girls want to join her but I hold them back, knowing how she likes the water on the hottest setting.
“Come on, let’s get you guys into your pj’s. Where’s those bags you packed?” I ask them.
“Right here, Andi!” Ylenia sings as she pulls hers off her back. She doesn’t hesitate to yank out her little pink and green mermaid nighty and proceed to change right in front of me. Oh to be young. I turn away, looking for Kira. I spot her hiding behind the bed, changing as well.
Once they are changed I direct them into the bed. “Here, you can sleep with Kat. I’m sure she’ll like that.”
“Yippie! I can’t wait. We’re going to talk all night!” Ylenia grins, crawling under the orange sheets and slamming her arms down excitedly. Kira crawls in next to her and lays back, pulling the sheets up to her nose and hiding.
“I’m going to sleep,” she says softly.
I decide I’ll probably shower too. I still have void monster slime dried to my skin and clothing. I probably smell rancid. I move to the closet to grab a clean pair of clothes.
“Andi,” Ylenia calls from the bed.
I look around. “What is it Lini?”
“Andi, why’d mama hit you today? Did you hurt her feelings?”
I chew the inside of my lip in apprehension. How do I begin explaining that to a seven-year-old? “Yes. I kinda did,” I say.
“Why? What did you do?” she asks.
I narrow my eyes. How does she come up with these questions?
“He went away Lini, and didn’t tell mama. That’s why she got mad,” Geeze. Kira is so perceptive for a nine-year-old. I feel the shame in the tone of her voice. It’s almost as bad as being hit by mom.
“Really, Andi? Why did you run away?” Ylenia asks. Always, full of questions.
“I needed to learn something and I couldn’t do it at home. I needed my own space,” I explain. I doubt she’ll understand.
“Like the little birds in the tree? When they get wings they fly away and the mommy bird gets sad. Sometimes they leave too early and sometimes they don’t leave at all,” she says with a smile.
I freeze, twisting around to look at her innocently staring at me from the bed. “Where’d you learn that from?” I ask her with an inquisitive look.
“Daddy. He told me when I found a birdie on the ground outside. I told him, is this bird like Andi? Did he leave the nest? And daddy said yes. And that’s why mama is sad.”
Wow… thanks, dad. “I guess he’s right,” I grumble regretfully. I hear the water turn off and a few minutes pass before Kat steps out, hair braided over her shoulder, a towel around her body. I blush, turning towards the shower with a pair of wrinkly PJs in my arms.
“My turn,” I say, walking towards the shower.
“Aren’t you going to kiss her?” Ylenia asks loudly.
I spin around, eyes wide.
“Lini! You don’t say that!” Kira says harshly.
I look at Kat and see her cheeks flush bright red as she rolls her lips. I am shocked by Lini’s boldness but I grin with mischievous intention.
“How could I forget,” I say in a charming voice, stepping towards Kat, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. She’s completely caught off guard by my forward action. I look her in the eyes and wink, placing a light kiss on her lips. I flash her a toothy grin as I pull away and turn toward the showers. Ylenia claps and giggles ecstatically. Maybe I can be Kat’s prince, just like Ylenia thinks I am. It’s kind of amusing.
I shut the door of the bathroom with a small chuckle. That was fun. I peel off the stained clothes, wondering if it’s worth the effort to wash them. Maybe Caroline could help, with her fancy water tricks. I smirk to myself at the thought of it. I comb out my hair and hop into the shower, relishing in the hot water as it washes away the grime.
My hand runs over the glowing hourglass on my chest and I crane my neck to see it. It’s strange; I hardly recognize it there at all. it’s as it feels just like my skin. There is no groove or hardness to the mark, but it glows with an energy, like a little candle under the skin. I’m intrigued by it. I recollect the time when I wanted one of these so bad after Caroline got hers. I felt so left out. Now I wonder if I was foolish to want one. It really only puts a larger target on our backs when it concerns the Master and his plans.
I really hate that he picks on Kat and I wish there was some other way I could protect her from his schemes. And then there’s Samantha. I shiver at the thought, but that was definitely her own trap today. I heard it from Victor’s own mouth, she went rogue. Why does she want Kat dead so much? Could that be about me? Is she really not over the fact that she broke up with me? Or is that just wishful thinking?
I need to sort that out too. I can’t have Kat wandering around with Samantha out there intent on killing her. I need a plan. I guess I have time to think up some things while I shower.
I spend a good twenty minutes mulling over what I know about Samantha and how to keep Kat and our baby safe from her. I’m sure I have come up with a few good ideas when I finally turn off the water and step out to dry off. I take my time to shave and comb out my hair before heading into the bedroom.
When I walk out I see my sisters both curled up into Kat’s arms on the bed, sound asleep. There’s hardly room for me and I feel a bit awkward sleeping with a bunch of girls. I decide to take the time to add some thoughts and notes to my journals.
I look around for the one I had started a few weeks ago, but I can’t find it anywhere. In fact, I can’t find the bag I remember putting it in when we went to Africa. That’s when I realise… I left all our stuff there when I tried to jump everyone away. I look for Kat’s phone and find it on the dresser. I send a quick text to Kaede, letting him know it’s me and that I think we should make a plan to go get our things back from Africa, then I switch it to silent.
I guess I’ll have to start a new journal. I look through the pile of journals still not shelved from when I moved in. I get distracted, sifting through the notes. I find myself wandering through some really old trips, from back when I was fifteen. I read the spines first, 18th-century France. Always my favourite.
Reading through it, I find myself smiling at my thoughts about training and the aristocrat girl I met, Rose. I find myself engrossed as I flip through the pages, not getting any writing done. I stop short when I realize the entries suddenly jump to 18th century India without any real conclusion.
I study the pages, flipping back and forth and stare in shock as I notice the cleanly cut edges of a few pages, really close to the spine. I hardly noticed it before. When did these go missing?
I turn over the book, wondering why there would be pages missing when suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my head. My eye twitches and I drop the book onto the desk, clutching my right temple. I grit my teeth, waiting for the pain to dissipate. It takes a little while, but then it vanishes.
Something’s very wrong here… Very wrong.
I turn, watching Kat as she sleeps with my sisters. She looks peaceful, but I should join her soon, lest she has nightmares while they are sleeping with her. I look around the room for a place to sleep. I spy a chair in the corner… guess that’ll have to do. I climb into the chair, hugging a pillow after turning out the lights. Time to talk to Kat in the Viel and keep her away from the Master’s influence. I hope I can get there fast.
By Kayla West