The Guild – Chapter 175 – Andrei

I poke Kat’s arm as I lay beside her on our bed in the Hasley’s mansion. It’s time we got up and prepared for our trip to Polynesia. As I watch her, I’m surprised to see her actually sleeping, considering her element and the fact that it’s just after midday; Kat has a tendency to be up with the sun. She must really have been tired. I wish I could let her sleep.

“Wakey wakey, Kat. It’s time,” I whisper softly in her ear.

“I don’t wanna,” She mumbles, nuzzling against me. “A little longer.”

It’s hard to resist letting her have her way, but I think we’ve had enough sleep. I lean over, bringing my face to hers so our noses touch. “Now, now, whose idea was it that we help Heath?” I hum with a smile.

She groans, refusing to open her eyes. “I know… but I’m sleepy.”

“Why are you so sleepy?” I ask with growing worry. “Usually you’re full of energy during the day. Did Lady Charlotte make you use your magic or something?” I ask suspiciously.

“No,” She mumbles. “I dunno…”

I frown with concern. “Do you want me to cancel the trip so you can rest?”

“No…” She sighs, reaching up to rub her eye. 

“I don’t think we should go if you’re not feeling well,” I suggest once more, just to be sure.

She yawns, eyes peeking open. “I’m just a little sleepy. It’s okay.”

“I’ll call for some tea before we go. Maybe that will help,” I suggest, sitting on the edge of the bed and reaching for my coat top which I hung over the chair before our nap.

“Okay,” She mumbles, settling into the pillow again.

I stand up, stretching before I slip back into the coat. The material is stiff and thick. I don’t know how they wore things like this all the time. I glance back over my shoulder as she falls back asleep. I doubt she’ll wake up for me now. I wonder what’s gotten into her. Maybe it’s a pregnancy-related thing. I should ask my mom once we get back to our own time.

I move to the fire as I attempt to do up the buttons when a knock comes at the door. I open it to see a few serving ladies with new clothes in their arms. 

“Good evening, M’lord. We are here to dress you and the Lady. May we enter?” The brunette in the front asks politely. 

“Oh, of course. Good luck trying to wake her. I was about to call for some tea,” I inform her. 

“I’ll have some tea brought for the Lady and yourself,” She bobs with a curtsey as the three of them enter. She instructs the other two to tend to both myself and Kat, before leaving to retrieve the tea.

A blonde girl calls me away from the door and begins promptly removing the coat I just finished buttoning. That was a waste of time… and effort. Soon enough, I’m standing in my knickers as she hands me a pair of trousers, plain-looking and a light brown colour. I pull them on followed by a new, plain undershirt and a loose-fitting blouse with a belt. I feel much like an old-fashioned adventurer in this getup, though, I admit, it’s way more comfortable than the stiff outfits we’ve been wearing thus far.

I look over at Kat and see the other brunette tending to her as my own ties up the string at my neck. The brunette has miraculously managed to get Kat to sit up, albeit, groggily. She pulls a slip over her head and works on the hooks at the back with make it snug around Kat’s slight chest. I instantly wish we were alone so I could undress her and have some fun, but… I push the thoughts aside, seeing how tired she is already. I should probably refrain from such activity, so often. What if it becomes too strenuous? What if it hurts her, or the baby? I wouldn’t want that.

“You’re finished, M’lord. May I be excused?” The lady attending to me asks sweetly. 

I turn back with a smile, “Yes, thank you.” She moves to leave as the first serving lady returns with fresh tea. 

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’ll set the tea at the table.” She does as she says, pouring the tea and placing the cups on small coasters before moving to assist with Kat’s attire. I try to give them some privacy as they finish with her outfit. I curiously wonder why women take so long to get dressed as I sip the tea. It’s quite impractical.

After twenty more minutes, they finish and depart, off to inform the Lord and the Lady that we are ready. I set my own cup down and take Kat’s in my hand as I get up and move to her by the bed. “You look fascinating no matter what they put you in,” I smile, admiring the simple yet practical pants and loose shirt she is now wearing. We practically match now.

“Thanks,” She blushes, taking the tea. “I think this suits you better than the fancy stuff. You look like yourself.”

I laugh. “Really? Do I look like this back home?” I look down. I do kind of like the loose shirt look. It reminds me of my pirate days in the East Indian Ocean, but cleaner. 

“Not exactly,” She rolls her eyes. “But the comfortable clothing, it’s good for moving and for fighting… and I like the way it looks,” She reaches out, touching the loose fabric hanging over my stomach.

“It hides your figure. I like it, ‘cause now only I will know what you really look like,” I say with a playful wink. “Did you try the tea? It’s got a nice fruity flavour.”

She nods with a little smirk, “I was just heating it back up.” 

I smile, admiring her beauty. “When you’re ready we can head out to find the Halsey’s.”

***

We all stand together in one of their fancy sitting rooms. We’ve been discussing the logistics of the trip for the past twenty-three minutes. I can tell Kaitlyn is getting eager to just go, as am I, so I try to speed things along.

“Alright, so we’ll follow your lead, considering you’re from this time and we’re not, but seriously, if things get violent or whatever, I will do whatever it takes to get out of there fast, with Kaitlyn,” I reiterate. I’m not taking any chances on her getting hurt again like in our last jump to the past.

“I understand completely,” Edward nods. Charlotte waves her hand and nods once in agreement.

Kat’s brows pull together, “If things get violent we can easily deal with it. We shouldn’t run away at the first sign of something going wrong.”

“We’re not going there to start a war. We’re going for information. If they don’t want to talk, I’m not going to make them,” I insist.

“It’s not a war if they can’t find us to retaliate,” Kat points out.

“Exactly, we run, they can’t hurt you, no war,” I state simply. “Are we ready to go now?” 

Kat rolls her eyes and Charlotte snickers, “Yes, we can go now. Come stand over here.”

We stand in a circle, away from any furniture. I take Kat’s hand in mine, assuming it’s like jumping time before I look around, confused when the others don’t take hands too. 

“How does a group space jump work? Don’t you need contact?” I inquire. 

“No contact,” Charlotte answers. “I am well-practiced. I could send you without going, but then you would be stuck.”

“That’s fascinating. I don’t suppose I could do that with time. I’ll have to try,” I file that information away for later.

“I will help you practice, later,” She gives me a slight smile. “Everyone ready?” We nod and I wait with anticipation.

The ground seems to rumble lightly, like a small earthquake, and I snap my head around as the room slides away and suddenly we’re on a beach, surrounded by tropical trees, plants, white sand, and a crystal blue sea. I hear gulls overhead as I glance up and see a blue, cloudless sky. The air is humid and sticky and my shirt already begins to cling to my arms. My mouth hangs open, soundlessly as I look around, taking in the scene.

“Wow,” Kat gasps, looking up. “So, I guess we go that way?” She asks, pointing to a massive volcano rising out of the island not too far away. I look to the Halsey’s for confirmation.

“A good place to start,” Charlotte agrees.

We walk up the beach and pass between the palm trees, pushing the larger leafed vegetation aside. I cringe when I see a spider the size of my hand on a large web I nearly walked into. It’s not that I’m afraid but… That thing’s huge! We seem to be climbing a slight slope for sixteen minutes when I hear a faint rustling. I stop, holding a hand out to stop Kat and whisper to the others. 

“Stop…” I wait. “I thought I heard something,” I look around, peering through the leaves.

I take a breath and suddenly we’re surrounded by a dozen or so men, muscled and chanting. At a brief glance, I notice they all have tattoos on their faces and chests and rings of leaves on their arms. Upon closer inspection, I see their clothes are all woven from the same kind of leaves as well.

Their yelling is close and loud beneath the canopy of the forest. They stomp the ground with their feet as they approach in uniform coordination, tongues sticking out and crazy looking faces. The strange dance goes on for a few minutes as they’ve completely circled us and they suddenly stop, waiting. I half expect them to start attacking, with the serious faces they have, some of them baring their teeth.

As I’m looking around, Kat moves. She grabs a stick, maybe three feet long, that was laying in the grass and walks into the space between us and the men, spinning the stick around beside her, above her head, and around her back. At the same time, she’s turning, crouching, almost… dancing? She swipes the stick out, and I start to recognize she’s imitating sword strikes and attacks. Then she stomps her foot, coming to a stop in front of the biggest man. She stabs the stick into the ground with a bellowing yell as it bursts into flame, turning to ash in seconds. 

She holds her head high, staring him in the eye, even though he’s at least a foot taller than her, and three times wider. His dark eyes study her intensely, every inch of his face and chest completely covered in black lines, swirls, and images. I hold my breath for what feels like ages, though it’s no more than a minute. The man’s lips curl back into a smile. He nods at her, and all the men relax their stance.

“You are a long way from home, little flame-haired warrior,” The man’s voice is deep, and resonates around us. My heart pounds with nervous anticipation. I can’t believe she just did that. That wasn’t the plan.

“Yes,” She responds, her voice surprisingly steady. “We search for the spirit of the volcano,” She points up to the peak. “Do you know where we can find him?”

The man’s thick brow arches. “A daughter of Mahuika seeks the wisdom of Ruaumoko?”

I move to stand beside her, sucking in my breath out of intimidation. “Yea, we all do. Can you take us to him?” I say is a strong tone.

The man’s eyes shift to me with silent scrutiny. I’m used to the feeling and I know he could probably snap me in two with muscles like those, but he doesn’t know I have magic too. Or at least, I don’t think he does. When his eyes settle on mine he holds my gaze in a sort of blinking contest. I try not to flinch.

“Ruaumoko only speaks to one. I will take you to him if that is what you wish,” He turns walking back into the trees. The other warriors follow, fanning out through the forest, barely making a sound. Kat doesn’t hesitate to follow, and neither do the Halsey’s.

They lead us out of the trees and across an open field where it looks like other people are out working in fields, growing vegetables unfamiliar and new to me. The locals we pass straighten as the warriors pass and they wave back with gleeful smiles on their painted faces. I still feel a heightened sense of paranoia as we walk among them, but it seems like they won’t be hostile. So, why do I feel on edge?

We pass by the fields and soon we walk by their living arrangements, sturdy huts made of wood and straw that look like they could handle a good strong wind storm. There’s a larger wooden structure at the end of a path with smoke coming from a hole in the roof. Woven banners flutter in the hot breeze that blows through the open field beside it. It looks like a chief’s hut, or maybe a village hall.

The other warriors eventually fan off, walking away as if silently dismissed. The leader of the group continues forward to the entrance of the building, stopping just outside the door, keeping his eyes forward.

“Inside is the chief of our village. You will find Ruaumoko there,” He nods, motioning for us to enter.

I start to walk up the steps, but Kat doesn’t move. She eyes the man, suspicious. “You’re lying.”

The man watches her closely, a serious expression on his face. “What reason do I have to lie to the daughter of Mahuika?”

Kat crosses her arms, glancing over the village. Her gaze settles on him with a slight smirk. “You’re the strongest one here. You must take us for fools.” I gape at her words. What does she think she’s doing?

The man stares her down, eyes narrowing as she holds his gaze. “You are not a fool,” He steps into the building with a smile. “He is inside now.”

Kat snickers and watches him disappear inside with a smile. My head swivels back and forth between the door and Kat, and I raise a questioning eyebrow before voicing my opinion. “What the heck was that?”

She looks at me, totally innocent. “You didn’t notice?”

“Apparently not,” I shrug with disappointment. 

Charlotte pats me on the shoulder as she leans down to whisper. “This man is a Guardian, as we are,” She chuckles, following Kaitlyn into the hut.

“Damn it… How did I not notice that?” I complain to myself. I hate being shown up. I turn on my heel, heading inside, Edward close behind me.

“Don’t feel so bad, Andrei,” Edward grins. “I am just as clueless as you are.” 

I frown at his statement. “I’m not usually so. That’s the problem. And besides, you’re not a Guardian, whereas I am.” He pats my shoulder assuredly, regardless.

Inside, the hut is well lit with open windows covered only by a thin fabric, which lets in the breeze and the light but keeps out the bugs. In the centre of the open space is a large hearth, alive with a roaring fire. At the other end of the room sit three elders, a man, and two women. Their hair is either hidden beneath their headdresses of feathers, or they must be bald.

The large warrior, apparently the Guardian we are looking for, takes his seat among them, crossing his legs as he sits on a padded cushion the colour of the sea. Around the hearth lay four other cushions. He gestures for us to take a seat.

“Welcome to Havai’i I am the chief of the Māori people, and I am the one who hears the voice of Ruaumoko. Who are you and why have you come to Havai’i?” He asks as we settle onto the cushions.

“My name is Kaitlyn,” Kat starts, sitting on the cushion closest to him. She turns, pointing to the Halsey’s first. “These are my…” She pauses, trying to find the right word, “friends, Edward and Charlotte Halsey, and this is my,” She looks at me, her cheeks flush pink and she smiles a little, obviously trying to hide it, “husband, Andrei.” I smirk, giving the warrior chief a small wave of my hand.

“My name is Rōpata. You have strange names. You must be from far away, from over the sea. We did not see any vessels on the shore. How did you come here?” He asks us. I turn to Charlotte to describe, it’s her magic that brought us here anyway.

“We do not need vessels,” Charlotte answers. “Only magic.”

Rōpata regards us, looking us in the eyes. It’s a little unsettling. “So you have all been blessed as well?” He asks. “There are others?”

“Others like yourself,” Kat nods. “Though, your people seem to have plenty of magic within them.”

“We believed it to be the blessing of our gods. Many of my people have a small talent but not so many can wield greater powers as I myself can.” He casts his hand out to the fire before us and the flames grow hotter, the basin of the pit filling with a small amount of lava seemingly from nowhere. I watch with wide, fearful eyes.

Kaitlyn tilts her head, looking into the flames. She lifts her hand, waving and twirling it in front of her. The fire leaps out of the hearth, dancing around her hand. It splits into three spiraling pillars, swirling around one another above her palm.

“Let’s not waste time with parlor tricks,” She smiles at him. “I’m sure you’ve heard him speak by now. You should already know why we’re here, to an extent. Your counterpart in the future struggles with him. We hope to gain some insight, to know how to help him.”

Rōpata’s expression grows dark as he glances to the side as if to listen to an unheard voice. When he speaks, the room grows tense. “You should not have come as you did. Ruaumoko had thought you long departed and never to be seen again. You have awoken within him a new flame,” I knew this was a bad idea…

“It was inevitable,” She shrugs. “In my time, he knew somehow anyway.”

I lean closer to Kat so as to whisper. “That could be our own fault. We’re dealing with a time jumper,” I gesture to myself. “I can create all sorts of changes without really realizing it.”

“Then it happened before either of us thought to come here,” She glances back at me pointedly. “How he knew is kind of irrelevant now, don’t you think?” I shrug, falling silent.

“Ruaumoko is not hard to live with if you know the way of the flames and have a strong heart. I have always found a love for my people and their wellbeing. I have strived all my life to supply and protect them. With the help of Ruaumoko, we have achieved many great things, forming islands from the sea for my people to thrive on. I have never had a qualm with Ruaumoko,” He says confidently.

“Until now,” Kaitlyn assumes.

“No, not even now. I command him and he listens, as it has been for all my 170 years on this land. He does not command me.”

“No small feat, in my experience,” Kat hums. “Your spirit must be more formidable than your body.”

“I find a spirit with a strong passion for something can overcome anything that is put before it. My love for my people and these islands is what drives my spirit. Ruaumoko may not approve of such things but he knows it to be true and that is why we are attuned to one another. It can be difficult at times to harbour the soul of the gods within you, but a devoted passion can sustain your own soul against his desires,” Rōpata smiles, his hands folded neatly in his lap. 

Kat puts the fire back in the hearth, falling silent. She doesn’t seem too happy about that information. I find myself in agreement. The lava seems to have a strong passion for his kin, fire. Heath might not have anything to counter that. He has had no family and worked at a job that had him constantly on the move. Before coming to the Guild, he was alone and fending for himself. I watch Kat, anxiously waiting to see what she thinks.

Her eyes are fixed on the hearth when she does speak. “Thank you, Rōpata. You have been quite helpful,” She looks up with daggers in her eyes as she stares at him. “We will bring Ruaumoko under control in our time,” Her tone is dark, like a threat. I wonder if she’s talking to him, or to Lava.

“It saddens me to hear that he has run free without a care. I thought he knew better, but it seems one cannot tame a god for all eternity,” Rōpata sighs.

Kat scoffs and smirks, “Watch me.”

“Come, the day is still young. If you will stay awhile, I will have a feast in your honour and I can show you the spectacular things our islands have to offer,” Rōpata smiles, brushing away the tension like a cobweb.

She looks to me, curious. I don’t know why she wouldn’t already know my response. I would never turn down a free tour of a historical nation! I turn to Rōpata with a stupid grin on my face that I can’t seem to wipe off. “We would love to stick around and see your island.”

By Kayla West

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