“They should not be taking this long! They should have been back days ago! What is holding them up?” I feel the panic controlling my thoughts and I’m unable to find calmness in this situation. How is everyone so calm? I sit across from Kaede in the dining hall, lunch untouched, my leg shaking with anxious energy.
“I don’t know Car. They should have come back right away, but as he said,” He jabs a thumb in Cliff’s direction, sitting beside him on the cafeteria bench. “They never came out of the corporate building.”
“I don’t understand it either. We set up the wards and closed off the space around the building. No one could go in or come out. We could only maintain it for a few hours, as we placed a sign on the doors saying the building was running a drill lockdown and would not be open until it was complete. It should not have taken as long as it did.”
I watch Cliff push the food on his plate absently with his fork, something went wrong and I think he’s taking it hard, much like Andrei would. “I don’t doubt your skills, Cliff. Since coming here, I find it amazing what you guys can do, but if Kaede’s research on this guy running the company is accurate, then, maybe this man’s stronger than we thought.”
“I agree.” Kaede nods, taking a bite of his pizza. How is he able to eat in this situation?! Kaitlyn and Andrei are missing, three days already and no word! “What?” He asks me, noticing my stare.
“Why aren’t you panicking?” I ask pointedly.
“Well, one, it’s Andrei. He often disappears for weeks at a time. I’m sort of used to it. Two, he’s with Kaitlyn, and she’s bad ass when it comes to magic and fighting. Cliff told me about their sparring match the other day. She beat them both. I’m sure they’re fine.” He takes another bite of his pizza.
“You don’t know that,” I say. “They confronted Logan, and he seems to be unpredictable. I have a bad feeling he was expecting them.”
“How is he going to harm them in a building full of business people, hmm? It’s not exactly easy when you’re in plain sight.” He has a point, but… I have this feeling. Something’s happened. I just know it.
“Well, whatever they were planning, I think it didn’t work out, or we would have at least heard from Kaitlyn. She has a phone now. Andrei never keeps one, but she took it with her. She hasn’t answered any of my calls,” I sigh with worry.
“Give them time. I’m sure they have a good reason.”
“You have no idea. I wish you weren’t so calm Kaede.” I don’t feel like he understands. This pressing feeling, it’s almost like I’m drowning.
“And what’s panicking about it going to do? Hmm? It’s illogical to worry so much when you can’t do anything about it.” He leans back on the bench casually, scratching his cheek with his finger.
“Well, maybe we can! It just takes some thought, maybe some research.” I pick up my pizza with determination and eat it quickly. I plan to go back to training after this. Maybe I can think of something while I train.
Cliff sighs. “I have to admit, my wards aren’t perfect. They are designed to hold things in or out, but there is magic that can counteract a ward. Especially if someone is stronger. I have a feeling the man Logan is working for, is much stronger than we originally thought. I’ve been looking into the teleportation spell he’s been using and I’ve determined that it’s an old spell based on the colour Kaitlyn described to me. It’s a spell few mages have mastered, and I myself am not one of them.” He explains. “It takes decades to master this spell.
“Well, I too have been doing some research. The head of the company, Walter Abernathy. He has a strange history. He became a renowned businessman a number of years ago. Started off as a small company, but overnight, became a huge corporation head. Usually, these things take years. He’s rarely heard of outside the inner circles of the business world. His investments are all in communication technology too. Usually, a businessman will spread his shares about in order to safeguard his money in case of a drop in the market. He’s also been buying out smaller companies over the past three years, all connected to communications.”
“I don’t know how these things work,” Cliff admits. “I have not been out in the world for some years except in the past few days. It does seem technology has improved greatly since my time in the human realm.”
“It has, it’s awesome.” Kae grins.
“Well… would that mean this Walter has something to do with it? I mean, the card Kat showed you, it had Logan’s name on it.” I interject.
“Yes, like he works there. Why would he be working there? I think it was a front.” Kaede responds
“And what was he doing in Toronto if he works in New York?” I add.
“Right. So, I think Kaitlyn mentioned he was looking for people with magic. He’s always mentioning this Master fellow. I think this Master wants magicians and if he’s powerful, he might be trying to get Kat and Andrei, in order to overthrow the Guild.” He speculates.
Cliff and I gasp aloud. “But… why?” I drop my pizza on the plate with a dull thud.
“I have a theory.” Kaede leans over the table, holding his index finger up. “Cliff, you said no one really knows about the Founder except that he started the Guild, right?” Cliff nods. “And he’s been dead for hundreds of years. No one here has been around that long, even the Headmistress.”
“Right, but what does that mean?” I ask, confused.
“It means, the Master is a rival from the Founders time, like in Dr. Who. The Doctor has a rival from his own time, the Master. Ironic how they use the same name, don’t you think? Maybe he’s a Dr. Who fan.” Kaede rambles until I give him a flat stare and he continues. “Maybe, he has a magic that can keep him young, or help him to live longer. I don’t know. You guys know how this magic stuff works better than I.”
“I don’t know about that, I only just started.” I moan. I spot Cliff nodding his head in agreement though.
“Some magic does help keep one youthful. There was a rumor that the original Guardians all maintained a youthful appearance, but of course, none of them are around to confirm that.” Cliff confirms.
“I meant Cliff and Kat. But anyway, He’s up to something and I think I’m on to him.” He smiles, finishing his slice and wiping his hand with a napkin.
Cliff grunts in agreement. “I want to agree with you Kaede. It sounds like a possible scenario. There are old texts that say there are spells for increasing life expectancy and making one look more youthful. They are often forbidden though, and frowned upon by the Guild, at least for personal use.” He informs us. “I could research this.”
I rest my chin in my hand, thinking over what they’ve just said. Suddenly someone sits next to me on the bench and I turn to see who it is.
“Hey.” Ryan sighs forlornly.
“Oh, Ryan! It’s good to see you.” I smile.
“You too. It’s been a while. How’s the team?” It’s really good to see her thinking of us like a team. Maybe we are, working on problems together like this. Would we have come to be friends if we didn’t have a mystery to solve? I really wish I could help out more. I need to train harder. We all do.
I shrug. “Well, only half of us are here. Andrei and Kat aren’t back yet.”
“What?” She gasps. Here we go again. Cliff fills her in while I take another bite of pizza. “Wow, that’s a lot to process. If he really is trying to overthrow the Guild… Why isn’t Ambrosse doing anything about it? She basically told us it was forbidden!”
“She did forbid Kaitlyn from going after Logan, said it was too dangerous,” Kaede says.
“Logan has been revoked from Guardian status and banned from returning to the Guild too.” Cliff points out.
“That means nothing if he can get in with whatever that teleportation spell is. It seems to be able to go right through your wards and the old ones set up by previous Guardians.” I say.
“Ambrosse has the Guild’s safety in mind. She doesn’t want to put us in danger by having us provoke the Master into taking us while wondering around the human realm. In theory, we’re safer here.” Cliff refutes.
“I don’t believe that,” I say. “Logan was able to get in no problem. Kaitlyn had a strange dream about him. I don’t think we’re safe unless we are able to ensure there are as little magicians in the human realm as possible. We should be out there looking for them!”
“How many do we have now studying at the Guild?” Kaede asks. Ryan and Cliff both begin counting.
“Not including the professors, we have almost two thousand living and studying on the island. There’s maybe another thousand out in the realm.” Cliff says. I stare at him in disbelief How come I haven’t seen them? This place, shouldn’t it be bustling with activity if there are that many people here?
I shake off my shock and respond. “And if the Master wants these Magicians, what’s stopping him from hunting down every magician and Guardian outside the Guild?” I ask.
Cliff looks at Ryan with a frown. “Nothing.” He says. She nods in agreement.
This isn’t good. If he wants magicians and Guardians, then we’re in big trouble. “Why hasn’t Ambrosse called all those living outside the Guild back? If it truly is safer here, than shouldn’t she be summoning them back and working on a plan?” I ask them.
“It would make sense. I don’t know what she’s doing. We don’t even know if this is true. Right now it’s all speculation, and If you ask me, Kaitlyn and Andrei know more than any of us.” Kaede says.
I really wish they were here now, so we could make a plan. Where could they be? We finish lunch in silence. Things seem to be quiet and dull without the lovebirds around. Even Kaede doesn’t make as many jokes. He pulls out his phone and taps away at it, some sort of tech code probably.
Cliff stands up after a while, “I should go look in on the wards classes. I might research more on how to seal the island off from unwanted magicians after. Stay well, friends.” He waves and lumbers out of the hall.
Ryan’s next to finish, even though she arrived last. She takes her leave, expressing her hope to see us in the library later. Kaede and I are left to watch each other, both our plates already cleared.
“You alright Car?” He asks, leaning on his elbows, setting his phone down and looking at me closely.
I shrug. “I would be if I knew where Kaitlyn and Andrei were. It bothers me.” I sigh.
“I understand. I think something’s up too. From what Andrei’s told me about Logan, I don’t think he’s very capable of holding both Andrei and Kaitlyn off together. I think together, they are stronger than him. So, if they’re held up, I think it’s because someone else is involved.”
Kae’s got a point. Now that I’ve been training, I feel like Logan’s methods are less about tactical strength and more about mental manipulation. So, if Andrei and Kaitlyn were in trouble what would they do?
“I just wish there was something we could do, to help, you know.” I sigh heavily.
“There is, actually.” He says. I look at him, curious.
“What? What didn’t you bring up before Cliff and Ryan left?” I ask.
“Well, I wasn’t sure when they were here, but, I’ve triangulated the signal from Kaitlyn cell phone, which she’s left on.” He says.
“You what?” I nearly shout.
“Well, I got her a phone before she went after Logan the first time, and I got her on a friends plan so I can locate her GPS signal as long as it’s left on. I just searched up her serial number and GPS signal and I have the location of her cellphone. Maybe she still has it on her.”
I wait a minute, letting the information sink in. This is groundbreaking. “Do you think we should go check?” I ask. I know the others got in trouble last time they left the school. I’m not even sure if we’d be allowed to without a Guardian with us, like Cliff.
“No, I don’t think ‘we’ can,” He says with air quotes. “ but perhaps we can tell Cliff or the headmistress. I’m sure she would do something about Kaitlyn. She’s her student after all.” He points out.
“Andrei was researching with you in the library, right? What kinds of things was he researching?” I ask, hoping for another clue.
“Well, he was looking into a Japanese queen called Himiko. Books on time magic mainly. He looked pretty frustrated. I don’t know how much of it was making sense to him.”
Suddenly I have a thought. “Kae, I don’t know much about time magic, but you’ve lived with him, maybe you know more.”
“Well, I know his stories and stuff, I don’t know how it works really.”
“Anyway, If they were in trouble, do you think it’s possible Andrei jumped and maybe took Kaitlyn with him? Can he jump two people at once?” I ask.
“I…” He pauses to think. “I’m not sure, but he did say once it would be nice to take someone with him. I don’t think he’s ever tried. But I don’t see why it can’t be possible. I don’t know enough about his magic though to answer that, it’s all just speculation.” He muses. “ But in the scenario that Andrei and her did jump together, the location of her phone should be the location they’ll return to sooner or later.” He adds.
It’s actually kinda cute when he’s being really smart about technology. I can’t help but smile, which attracts his attention.
“What? What is it?” He asks, curious.
“Nothing.” I deflect.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“No reason. You’re just… Cute when you think.” I mumble, turning my cheek sideways.
He doesn’t respond right away but when I look back at him I see a huge grin. “Ohh, I see. When I talk smart you get all excited.”
“That is not true! You just sounded really clever is all.” I defend.
“Sure, sure. I got ya.” He nods knowingly. Great, what ideas have I given him now?!
“So…” I sigh again. “Should we tell Ambrosse?”
He nods thoughtfully. “I could text Cliff and have him tell her. He seems to visit her often.” I nod in reply as he picks up his phone, sending Cliff the message. I really hope we can do something to help Kaitlyn and Andrei. I hope they’re okay. My worry, though, is slightly more at ease, knowing that we have a potential location for their whereabouts.
We sit quietly, mulling over the intense conversation we’ve just had. I feel his gaze still on me, but I don’t know what to say yet. I look at my watch and see it’s surely time I returned to my studies. I look up and see Kae, staring at me with a smile.
“What?” I ask.
“Nothing.” He muses.
“Well, I should get back to class,” I say sheepishly.
He pouts, “Aww. Do you think… I could come with you?” He asks.
I don’t see why not. Kaitlyn’s been coming. I don’t see how Naum could get me sparing with Kaede, but I can’t see him rejecting his attendance either. “Sure,” I say, standing up. He runs around the table to my side and slips his hand around mine. It’s warm and firm. It makes me smile. “What’s all this?” I ask. Usually, I’m the one displaying affection.
“Nothing. Just wanted to hold your hand. Is that a crime?” He asks.
“No, I don’t think so.” I beam. We pass through the halls hand in hand until we come to the Hall of Water. The door stuns him, as I expected. He hasn’t seen it yet.
“I really wonder how they got the wood to move like that. It’s quite fantastic. I wonder if I could make a computer simulation to embed in a door like this back home.” He fantasizes.
Ever the computer techy. “I’m not sure how, but it’s pretty.” I push the door open and motion for him to follow. He’s awestruck by the hall. It’s great watching him see it for the first time.
Naum suddenly appears from the pool and walks towards us. Not a drop of water drips from his person, It’s strange how adept he is with the water. I hope I can be like that soon.
“I see you’ve returned to train! And with a friend, no less. Hello. And you are?”
Kaede watches him, studying Naum’s posture and manner. “I’m Kaede, Caroline’s boyfriend.” He says nonchalantly. My hand twitches with nervousness. Why would he introduce himself like that? He’s never used that term before. I was expecting a witty comment like how he’s the mage of Warcraft or something.
“Ohh, so the daughter of the sea has chosen herself a beau. And a cute one at that.” Naum smirks.
“Well,” Kaede smiles bashfully. Jerk.
“What are you the son of, hmm?” He asks playfully. I have this strange feeling he already knows he’s not magical. I see a glint in his eyes and I immediately regret bringing Kae at all. How is Naum planning to embarrass me today?
Kaede shrugs casually. “You know, two humans, one from Japan, one from Canada. Though they joked about how I might’ve come from a computer factory,” he jests.
Naum’s smile falls a little, I think he doesn’t understand. He looks to me and I freeze. Will he ask me? His eyes watch me steadily and I sense an air of seriousness. “A human beau, interesting,” He mumbles softly, holding a finger to his chin. “Water has chosen a human son. Why didn’t I expect that…” He rambles. I don’t catch the last few words he speaks.
Kaede watches him, slightly confused. “What, is there something wrong with being human? I can do a great many things that don’t require magic. Technology is just as grand and mysterious as magic these days. You’d be surprised at the things I am capable of,” He gloats.
The glimmer in Naum’s eye comes back and I see the faint hint of a smirk beneath his beard. “Well, son of computers, would you care to take part in today’s lesson?” He asks mischievously. I don’t like the sound of this. I take a step towards Kaede, to warn him of Naum’s crazy lesson ideas. Maybe he doesn’t remember what I told him he asked Kat to do the last time we trained together.
Kaede, though, puts his hands on his hips and smirks, his hair bounces slightly as he nods his head affirmatively. “I was born ready.” He says. Oh no…
Naum claps his hands together and smiles. “Alright then!” Let the training begin!”