When Tahlmus opened his eyes he found he was looking into Celestial’s face, and he could hear whispering of several other Siren’s in the background. “What… What’s going on?” He asked, memories of destroying the horcrux slowly coming back. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Since yesterday afternoon,” Fleur said stepping forward, “after you destroyed a horcrux that had been found.
Tahlmus tried sitting up, but felt dizzy and fell back onto the sand. “That was more powerful than I expected,” he thought, as he closed his eyes to let the images of destroying the horcrux pass across his eyelids. He remembered how the magic surrounding the horcrux got stronger when Laguna had held the crown. “Why?” he wondered. It didn’t make sense.
He tried sitting again; this time succeeding with a little help from Celestial. “We’ve been worried about you,” she said. “You still had a pulse but you were barely breathing and nothing we did could wake you.”
Tahlmus shook his head slightly. Something wasn’t right. “Books,” he mumbled. Celestial lifted his head with her fingers under his chin. He could see the confusion in her eyes. “While I waited for the sword, Davey went to Winky’s to get more books,” Tahlmus said just above a whisper. “They should be on the kitchen table.”
“These books?” Celestial asked with a snap. Coral, Fleur, Laguna, Tempest, and Atargatis all stepped forward holding a book. Tahlmus glanced over all the titles. They were all on forbidden magics.
“Yes,” he replied. “I need to study those”
Celestial nodded and the ladies laid the books down by his bed. “You may study them in the morning. Right now you are going to spend time with all of us. We were all so worried. We agreed we’d each take fifteen minutes with you when you awoke.”
Tahlmus just nodded. Who was he to argue? The rotation worked differently than normal. Celestial still spent the first bit of time with him, but the rotation didn’t continue with Coral like it normally did. In fact with forty-five minutes left until dawn, Coral, Fleur and Laguna all walked into the little room he was in. Tahlmus couldn’t hide his surprise. It was unlike them to want to share their time with him. Coral sat on his right, Laguna on his left, and Fleur sat in front of him. Each wore a look of concern on their face. “What’s wrong?” Tahlmus asked.
“You don’t remember?” Fleur responded with a question. Tahlmus looked at her with questions in his eyes. “You don’t remember the nightmare?” she asked.
“It had to have been a nightmare,” Coral said.
“But we couldn’t wake you,” Laguna finished.
“Wait, what are you three talking about?” Tahlmus asked.
“Maybe we should ask…. What do you remember?” asked Coral.
Tahlmus closed his eyes trying to remember. “I … uh… I remember coming to Coral’s rock, all of you were there. I was going to destroy the horcrux Coral had found. I remember hitting it with the sword,” he paused. “Then there’s black space. I remember telling you I needed a nap,” he finally finished as his eyes opened back up. “Then I was here.”
“We were going to let you nap,” Fleur said. “While we swam around nearby and sunned ourselves.”
“But soon after you closed your eyes, you started talking in your sleep,” Laguna said. Tahlmus searched their eyes for some sign of what was bothering them.
“You… you kept saying, ‘no, please stop, I’ll do what you want. Just please don’t hurt them’,” Coral stated.
“Was that all I said?” Tahlmus asked. The girls shook their heads no. “What… uh… what else was there?”
“You started praising someone named Abi, begging them to take you over harming the others,” Fleur said.
“Then you started to yell, ‘Please, stop hurting them. I’ll do anything… anything…” Laguna continued. There was a short pause as Fleur and Laguna looked to Coral who only nodded at Fleur.
“We tried waking you up, but that’s when you all but stopped breathing, and your pulse slowed,” Fleur stated.
“As soon as we were able, we brought you here,” Laguna finished.
Tahlmus noticed that Coral had been quiet a lot longer than normal, and her grip on his arm had tightened. He had his suspicions about the dream, just as he had his suspicions about the magic that caused the curse, and even sneaking suspicions as to why the magic had grown when Laguna was near. Despite this he touched her arm, and looked at each of them. “It was just a nightmare,” he said. “Everything will work out. The Dark Lord has used one horcrux, we have destroyed a second one, and Davey is bringing back a third. It’s only a matter of time before the Dark Lord is gone for good,” he finished with more confidence than he felt.
His answer seemed to satisfy Laguna and Fleur because they got up and left. Coral however was still clinging to his arm. “You’re hiding something,” she said. “I can tell.”
Tahlmus sighed, before looking Coral in the eye. “I can’t hide what I’m not certain of. I have suspicions, but until I can find the facts to back it up, that’s all they are.” Coral just frowned at him. “Listen,” he said taking her hands in his and looking her directly in the eye. “I don’t know what was going on when I was talking in my sleep, but I will protect you, and the others,” he said, “and I promise, when… or if, I confirm my suspicions I will discuss them with you.”
As he finished Coral’s frown had disappeared, but she wasn’t smiling either. “I’ll accept that,” she said. “And now I must go.” Coral brushed her lips against his cheek and left.
Tahlmus picked up one of the books and started to read. He was still studying it when Celestial walked into the room. He was so engrossed in the book; he hadn’t heard or sensed her presence. He almost fell off the bed when she announced herself. They chatted for a few minutes before Celestial left. There were no visits that night nor the next two nights, as Tahlmus continued to study the books on forbidden magic. On the third night, Celestial came in and convinced him that he should go visit Winky. Not that he needed much convincing. Talking things through with Winky was going to be very helpful.
Tahlmus packed up the books and set off with Laguna. At Winky’s shop Laguna stayed outside by the door while Tahlmus went in to see Winky, who of course was excited to see him. The dancing milk carton seemed happy to see him as well. He quickly told her of his suspicions surrounding the Dark Lord, and the Vampire Mermaids. Tahlmus also told her about the conversations Davey had overheard, about the Dark lord now wanting him instead of her.
Once he was finished, Winky started to explain the research she had been doing since the day Davey had showed up asking for the books. Speaking of Davey, reminded Tahlmus that it had been several days since he’d seen the ghost pirate and his moose. He made a note to discuss the point with Celestial, when he returned.
Winky had just grabbed his hand to drag him off to the library when they heard a scream. “That was Laguna,” Tahlmus stated. He let go of Winky’s hand and ran outside. Once there, he saw a man trying to drag Laguna off down the street. “Hey,” he yelled. It made the strange man pause long enough that Tahlmus was able to hit him with a repulsion spell. The man went sailing into a brick wall of the closest building; then slumped to the ground unconscious. “Laguna, are you ok?” he asked, running to her. He ignored the tingling, then burning of the tattoo. Coral’s magic was no doubt location sensitive. “Laguna,” he said again as he reached her. “Are you ok?” he asked again. Laguna still said nothing, but Tahlmus could see she was shaking. “Come on,” he said gently taking her by the shoulders, “let’s go back to Winky’s.” He gently turned her around leading Laguna back to Winky’s shop. He took her into the library with them.
After a few minutes, Laguna spoke. “That man… was my husband, before I sought out Celestial and the Sirens,” she started slowly gripping Tahlmus’ wrist, unable to look at him. “He was a supporter of the Dark Lord. Gave our son to the Dark Lord, who used him as a sacrifice to create that horcrux you destroyed,” she continued. Tahlmus placed his free hand on top of her head that was still holding his wrist. “It was then I knew I could no longer support the Dark Lord or my husband. I knew about the Vampire Mermaids, so one evening I snuck out of the house and went to the water to seek them out. I found Coral and Fleur walking on the beach. They took me to Celestial. She turned me. I thought I had put my past behind me, until Coral pulled out the crown.” Laguna went silent. She couldn’t speak anymore.
Tahlmus started to get a bad feeling. “No one should know we are here,” he thought. “Laguna,” he started as he noticed the dancing milk carton. “If you supported the Dark Lord, did you have magic before being turned?” She nodded. “And the dancing milk carton? I’ve never seen anyone else do that sort of magic.”
Laguna gave a small smile. “It was special magic that only I knew how to weave.”
Tahlmus brought his hand to his face then ran it through his hair. “We have to go,” he said standing and turning to the books. Winky stood to say something, but she watched him cast a spell, shrinking all the books and getting them into a bag that had appeared in his hands. “I don’t have time to explain,” he said as he finished the spell and closed the bag. Tahlmus could sense a lot of people getting closer to the shop. “Just come over here. You’re coming along too, Winky.”
Winky and Laguna both wanted to argue, but the look on Tahlmus’ face kept them silent. They just obeyed his silent command to come over to him. Once they were both touching him, he transported them to the Sirens abode. Right before they had left, Winky heard the sound of splintering wood.
The spot they transported too should have been deserted, and they should have been able to slip in unseen, so he could speak with Celestial. The Sirens however, were crowded there around Celestial all talking at once. While the three of them had gone unnoticed as he had wanted, Tahlmus knew there was trouble.
Celestial finally got the group quieted down, so that her voice could be heard. “Please explain what you saw, Marina.” A young Siren that Tahlmus did not know very well came forward to speak to Celestial.
“The village where the horcrux is located, it’s where I’m from,” Marina started. “So, Davey came to me for some information. I offered to help him. A couple nights ago… we went into the village to grab the horcrux… but … but… something went wrong. When Davey touched it, he froze in place as if petrified. Before I could do anything I heard people coming. I hid… but they… they took Davey. The Dark Lord’s henchmen took Davey saying that Abi would be able to use him to get to us. I tried to get back as sooner, but the village has been crawling with the Dark Lord’s henchmen.”
Celestial looked up, and caught Tahlmus’ eye, as the group of Sirens started to speak all at once. Celestial, moving with grace and speed made her way to Tahlmus’ side. “We need to talk,” she said.
Tahlmus nodded. “We do, but we aren’t safe here. We need to move somewhere else.”
“Why?” Celestial asked looking hard at Tahlmus.
Tahlmus closed his eyes sighing. “I can’t explain it, but we aren’t safe in this location. Is there somewhere else we can go?” Celestial nodded. “Then have everyone come over here, and once they are here think of that location. I will transport us there.”
Having quieted down to hear what Tahlmus was saying to Celestial the group of Sirens was already on their way over to them. Once they were gathered around Celestial and Tahlmus, he gave a nod and transported them all to the location in Celestial’s head. It turned out to be a large cave that overlooked the water, and had a view of the lights from a few of the villages in the Tevinter Imperium. There was a hidden path that led down to the water. Tahlmus convinced Celestial to take him down there so that they could speak in private. The other Sirens huddled together, conjecturing over everything they had learned that evening. Every Siren that is, except Coral. Curiosity had gotten the better of her. After giving Tahlmus and Celestial a head start down the path, she followed. Little did she know how unprepared she was, for what she was about to hear.
Continue on to see what happens in Part 4.