Wood splintered as several men took a small battering ram to the clothing shop’s door. Once inside they fanned out through the shop looking for the shop owner, and hoping to find the young male elf. He had defeated the Dark Lord once, taking Winky from him, but now… Now the Dark Lord had regenerated into a beautiful woman who went by the name of Abi. The new plan was to take the male elf. He was much more powerful than Abi could have hoped for with Winky in her previously male form. Her men searched the shop, but all they found was the dancing milk carton in an empty library.
Abi’s face darkened as she entered the room. “How did they get away?” she yelled at the milk carton that continued to dance in front of her. It couldn’t actually speak, so she went without an answer. “We weren’t that far behind Dragos,” she thought. “Did he tell them? Warn them? How did that male elf and the shop keeper disappear?” she wondered. “Send the ships out to the last location we had gotten from this milk carton thing,” Abi said as she turned to walk out of the room, her clothing flowing in the perfect curvature following her. The only one still in the house, bowed and ran for the shores. He would have to get across the water fast if he were going to fulfill the Lady Abi’s request.
Abi stepped outside to see the rest of her men huddled together in conversation. “What’s going on?” she asked in a menacing voice.
The men all shrunk a little, but one short stout man came forward wringing the brim of his hat. “We… we found Dragos, my Lady. He was unconscious by a brick wall not too far from here,” the man paused watching Abi’s face start to turn red. “We… we cannot find Laguna. She must have slipped by us,” the man said hanging his head.
Abi let out a low menacing growl. “Must I do everything myself,” she yelled. “The Siren that helped Davey could not be found, now we have a sure way to get our hands on another, and you foul it up.” Abi bared her teeth. “That male elf needs to be chained to my bed before the end of the week, otherwise I must wait another month,” she cried out in anger. “And you do not want me to have to wait another month.”
The men all shook their heads saying no as they quickly took off for the boats. Abi slowly followed pulling out a small journal, that she kept in an inside breast pocket in her clothing. It was the second horcrux she’d had to use to regenerate after the male elf had defeated her first male form. The first horcrux that had been used immediately afterwards had been the old Tevinter flag that had hung in the office of the estate. It had been the easiest to get to. Once the regeneration had taken place, a second male form, the flag had been tossed into a nearby fireplace, which had been left to burn out. Flames from the hot coals leapt up for the flag, and as it burned so did the male body.
Abi thrust the journal back into the inside breast pocket of her outfit. She didn’t understand what had gone wrong with the regeneration. She had followed all the rules, and only split the soul six times. Maybe there had been something in the books she had missed when studying about horcruxes. She would have to go back and read them after she figured out how to get to the Sirens humble abode under the sea.
Tahlmus stood facing Celestial, as she looked out over the water. She looked angry yet vulnerable all at once. Tahlmus knew he’d have to try and handle things carefully. “Why did you have to transport us here? Why weren’t we safe at our home?” she asked him. Tahlmus waited for Celestial to turn and look at him. He hesitated at first as he sensed Coral was nearby. The hesitation didn’t last long, though as he had promised her answers if any of his suspicions had been confirmed.
“What did you know of Laguna before you turned her?” he asked.
Celestial shrugged. “Only that she wished to be rid of her old life and that she was sincere about it.”
“How often did she have the milk carton dancing around?”
“Quite often at first,” Celestial replied. “Then it tapered off until you showed up. Then she started using it more, though only when she was with you.” Tahlmus brought his hand to his face. “What is it? Celestial asked.
“Laguna had magic before she came to you. The milk carton was her own special piece of magic. Her husband had served the Dark Lord. I believe that the Dark Lord suspected that Laguna would flee after her son had been sacrificed to make one of the horcruxes. So he managed, without her knowledge, to put a tracer on the milk carton. That way, whenever she used it, he could track her and get a sense of where you all were at.”
Celestial just stared at him, disbelief in her eyes. “Why didn’t he come for us earlier then?”
Tahlmus shrugged. “Because of your songs and abilities to take anyone that’s not an elf. Because he was trying to find Winky and knew a child of hers would be able to handle you better.”
“Because I forced the Dark Lord to regenerate, he is now a she and she wants me. Something about me is powerful enough that she wants to have my child… and only mine, or maybe she just wishes to see how helpless I am when my child comes to destroy the Sirens.”
Celestial turned away from Tahlmus. What he was saying was overwhelming and she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear anything else he had to say. She heard him sigh and felt his arms wrap around her. “There’s more I need to tell you,” he whispered. “You don’t have to say anything, or look at me, just listen,” he continued. “I believe the crown was made into a horcrux then sent to the bottom of the deepest water so no one but the Dark Lord could get to it, so it was not enchanted. The others I believe mean more to the Dark Lord, so they’ve been enchanted so that no one can touch them except the Dark Lord.” Tahlmus paused as Celestial nodded. He wondered what else to tell her. He had left parts of the truth out. “I think for everyone’s safety, I need to go seek out the horcruxes and you all need to stay near this cave.”
Celestial turned in his arms, her eyes were flaring. “How do I know you’re going to do as you say and not betray us?” she asked coldly.
Tahlmus felt a small piece of his heart break as he realized that she still didn’t trust him. “But I still can’t tell her the truth,” he thought to himself. “Listen, please,” he said. “The Dark Lord wants me and she will do anything to get at me, including using you or any of the other Sirens,” he paused. “I don’t know if Coral, Fleur or Laguna told you about the talking I did in my sleep after I destroyed the horcrux…” he started looking into Celestial’s eyes.
She nodded. “They told me some of it. I told them it was just a nightmare.”
“That’s what I told them too,” he replied, “but now I know that isn’t true.” Celestial looked at him with questions in her eyes. He wondered if she had heard Coral gasp. “The nightmare was one of my visions. I don’t remember that one specifically, but from what the girls told me I said, and the visions I had tonight at Winky’s, I know that the Dark Lord is going to use the Sirens to get to me. She will capture, one, two, maybe more and torture them in front of me to get what she wants. Even after I concede to do her bidding she will not stop the torture. She will continue it until one dies to ensure that I will do everything that she wants… to ensure that I am not trying to trick her.”
Tahlmus felt Celestial’s legs grow weak as he spoke, but he held her up until she asked to sit down. They sat in silence for several minutes. “You will go out during the day, but come back here at night, and you have to find Davey too.”
Tahlmus hugged her. “I will do as you ask,” he said.
“Leave me now. I wish to be alone.”
“As you wish,” Tahlmus replied. He stood, and started back up the path towards the cave. Part way up, Coral came out of the brush making him stop.
“You’re still hiding something,” she said in a voice that while forceful also sounded scared and sad. Tahlmus just nodded to confirm what she had said. “Tell me,” Coral demanded. “Tell me what it is now.”
Tahlmus gently took her hands in his, looking her in the eye. “I can’t tell you everything,” he replied. “Not until I can find a better answer.”
“You said that when you confirmed your suspicions we would talk. So talk,” she demanded.
He sighed. Those had been his words. “You, Fleur and Laguna shouldn’t have been able to touch that crown. It should have petrified you just as it did Davey.”
“You told Celestial it wasn’t enchanted like the others, and you touched it without consequence.”
Tahlmus nodded as he sighed. “Yes what I told Celestial is one working hypothesis. I have one other, but I’m still studying that one. My magic is what protected me.”
“Only have magic because Celestial turned you, and you can only do certain things. My magic knows no bounds, you all taught me that, and that is why I was able to defeat the Dark Lord.
“Shhh…” Tahlmus started as he placed a finger gently on Coral’s lips. “Please, please trust that I am doing the best I can to keep you safe,” he whispered. “A part of my heart may still belong to Winky, but a part of it also belongs to you, to Fleur, to Laguna, and to Celestial. Then there are other smaller parts of it that belong to each of the other Sirens. I care for you Coral. You have to trust that if I’m keeping something to myself, it’s because I’m trying to protect you.”
Coral almost growled a little before sighing. “Ok,” she whispered, “I trust you.”
Tahlmus gave her a smile and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek, before leading her, the rest of the way up the hill. He spent the rest of the evening easing the fears of the other Sirens and putting to rest their wild conjectures. As dawn neared, they all went down to the water, promising not to stray too far away from the shoreline.
Once they were in the water, he put Winky to work doing research, which she gladly did. The sooner things were taken care of, the sooner she might have Tahlmus back. He then transported himself to the village that Davey had said, had the horcrux.
He found himself in an alley near the store. Tahlmus used some magic to alter his appearance. It would cause someone to have to examine his appearance very closely to determine who he really was. Luckily the shop owner was busy when Tahlmus entered. He wandered the shop, making it appear that he was looking for something special. As he neared the podium near the far window, Tahlmus could feel the pull of dark magic. He was able to glimpse the necklace, before looking at other items nearby. From that glimpse he was able to magically create a duplicate and switch the two. With the horcrux safely in the inside pocket of his robe, Tahlmus turned to leave. The storekeeper had not really seen him and barely noticed when he left.
After returning to the alley, he transported himself back to the little beach by the large cave. Most of the Sirens were out in the water, back to their carefree selves. Coral, Fleur and Laguna, however were perched on a rock sunning themselves, as if waiting for him. They motioned for him to come to them, and he, of course, complied.
Once there, he used his magic to take the necklace out of his robes and lay it on the rock. The girls ogled over it, but complied with his silent command to not get close to it. Mumbling a few words, the sword appeared in his hand. The girls left the rock as they had last time, watching Tahlmus closely, as he brought the sword down on the horcrux. As he hit it, magic erupted from the horcrux, then was gone, and Tahlmus was still standing where he had been before.
“Why was that one easier?” Coral asked.
Tahlmus shrugged. “I’m not sure,” he lied. He knew now that it had something to do with Laguna, but there wasn’t a point in bringing it up and raising more questions.
“Now what?” Fleur asked. “That’s only three of them and no Davey.”
“I’m going to try to find the last three,” he said. “Then once those are gone, I’ll go confront her and save Davey”
“Why can’t we help?” Laguna asked. Fleur and Coral chorused in with the question.
“Getting the horcruxes is easier during the day,” he replied, “but you can help me save Davey. I have a feeling it will take more than just me to try and save him.”
The Sirens accepted his explanation and went back out into the water. Tahlmus closed his eyes and started to focus. He had felt the dark magic associated with the horcruxes several times, so he focused on that energy, on the feeling it gave off. He hoped doing that would allow him to find the other horcruxes.
Luck happened to be with him because as he focused on the dark magic feeling, he was able to sense two more horcruxes. The only problem was that they were both in the Dark Lords estate. “Well,” he thought, “could be worse.” He used a cloaking spell before transporting to the estate. He easily found the first of the two horcruxes. It was a coffee mug hidden away in a cupboard. Like with the necklace, Tahlmus made a copy and put it in the horcruxes place. There were a few brief moments after making the switch where he thought he’d be caught as the male elf he’d always seen with Winky walked into the kitchen as he was trying to walk out. The elf didn’t seem to notice him though.
So as to not take a chance on running into anyone else, Tahlmus focused on the second horcrux before transporting into the Dark Lord’s room. His luck was still with him as the Dark Lord was nowhere to be seen. He was able to find the hairpin, copy and replace it. As soon as that was done, he transported back to Coral’s rock, where Coral, Fleur and Laguna were still switching off between swimming and sunning themselves.
They all swam over and watched Tahlmus destroy both horcruxes. Neither one had the effect as the crown had when it was destroyed, which was a relief to the Sirens, but left Tahlmus a little perplexed. “Maybe it was because it was Laguna’s blood that had made the horcrux and she had been nearby.” He didn’t know for sure. The other thing that bothered him was that there was a seventh horcrux. This one however, from what he could sense didn’t actually hold the soul anymore, but was still active. “It doesn’t make sense,” he thought. “Cause the sixth horcrux is… I know I’m not wrong, I’ve felt it, but… how can this be,” he finished in a whisper.
“How can what be?” the girls all asked together.
“I … don’t … know,” he said. “I sense the sixth horcrux but… it’s not baring a soul anymore.”
“Well that doesn’t make sense, silly,” Coral stated.
“I know… I need to go see what Winky has found out.” The girls all frowned but they let him leave to go see Winky.
Continue on to Part 5.