The week seemed to pass slowly. Celestial, Coral, Fleur, Laguna, and Atargatis all took turns sitting with Tahlmus, just in case Urytemil had been wrong and he woke up sooner. Andrevin sulked in Fleur’s room. Urytemil contradicting him about the prophecy had put him in a bad mood. The baby niflers, however, usually never let him stay in too bad of a mood for too long. Being a gold dragon he became their favorite thing to play with. Lillianna and Kanes had only been leaving her room for meals.
Plans for the school were still proceeding, but slower than they should have been. All the Sirens were moving more slowly through their days. They were all worried about Tahlmus, and what would happen when he woke up.
On the seventh day, the baby milk cartons were chasing each other through the air in Tahlmus’ room, while midge and juggles dance in the corner. Atargatis sat in a chair near Tahlmus’ bedside. She had found a book in his office on healing magic and was reading through it. She wanted to make sure, she never let anyone else down.
It was getting close to suppertime when she heard movement. Looking up from the book, she saw Tahlmus’s eyes open and shut a few times as he tried moving his limbs. “Can you dim the lights?” Atargatis heard in her head. “I can’t keep my eyes open it’s too bright.” She quickly turned the main light off, and turned on the small desk lamp that was along the far wall of the bedroom.
“That’s better,” Tahlmus whispered. His throat was dry and he was surprised the words came out. With his eyes now open he tried to move his arms so he could sit up. Unable to tell that he had no right hand, he tried pushing himself to a sitting position. The pressure on the nub of his wrist sent fire shooting through his arm. He gave a short cry in pain before falling back on the pillow.
Atargatis thought she heard him let out a low growl, as his face was still contorted in pain, and his left hand was making a fist. She watched him move his arms so that his left hand could feel the nub of the wrist where his hand used to be. He grimaced as he closed his eyes, then sighed as his arms moved back to his sides, before leaning to his left and using his left arm and upper body muscles to get to a sitting position.
Once sitting up, he looked over at Atargatis. He let the surprise sink in that it was her and not one of the others, though he knew she would have been the one they asked to try and heal him. As his eyes managed to focus on her better he saw tears on her cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” He managed to ask. He really needed a drink of water. Using a little bit of magic, a glass appeared in his hand and he took a sip.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” she said. “I… I tried to heal…” she didn’t finish as Tahlmus held his arm out to her. She got up and sat on the bed next to him, his arm wrapped around her.
“I didn’t really make it easy for you,” he said glancing at his wrist. He felt her take a shaky breath. “Hey, look at me,” he said gently. She turned her head to face him. “You did everything you could do. You saved my life. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”
“I… I couldn’t finish removing the hand,” Atargatis said. “That was Lillianna, and… I think it really upset her.”
“I’ll speak with her,” he said. “What else is on your mind?” He watched Atargatis fidget and she avoided his eyes.
“I… uh… I … I want more time with you.” The words came out fast and slurred together. “I want to be more to you, than I am now,” she said more slowly still unable to look at him.
“Ok,” Tahlmus replied kissing her cheek. “I can do that.”
Atargatis looked at him in surprise, then smiled. It was then she remembered what Urytemil had done. “Oh,” she said as she turned to the night stand, grabbing the hand. “Urytemil was here.” Atargatis turned back to Tahlmus. “He weaved some magic on your wrist and hand.”
Tahlmus took the hand she was holding. It felt more like leather than skin, but he knew just how powerful of magic one would need to get it to that point. “I won’t be able to wear it all the time,” he said as he connected the hand to the wrist. He felt the magic work, and then could feel that he had use of the hand. First he wiggled his fingers, and then opened and closed his hand a few times. He would have full control of his hand while wearing it which was better than he could have hoped for, with the condition he had been in.
“He doesn’t even seemed phased by what happened,” Atargatis thought as she watched him.
Tahlmus heard his stomach growl, interrupting the thoughts he was having, and he heard Atargatis giggle. “I guess I’m hungry,” he said with the best smile he could give.
“It is time for supper,” Atargatis replied standing.
“Then shall we go?” Tahlmus questioned as he carefully stood and offered his arm to her. She nodded, and they headed towards the dining hall. They moved slowly at first. Tahlmus needed time to get his legs working. He felt so weak.
All the other Sirens were already sitting in the dining hall when he entered. Tahlmus had thought it had been way too quiet, but that all changed when they noticed him. Celestial, Coral, Fleur, and Laguna were the first ones to run over to him, followed by the rest of the Sirens. They followed him to the table, all talking at once. Tahlmus smiled. From the chatter, he could make out that they were all happy and relieved that he was awake. He also noticed that Lillianna and Kanes are not at the table.
When asked Fleur told him that Lillianna and Kanes had just started to take meals in Lillianna’s room. “She was very upset when Andrevin said you were to kill her,” Fleur whispered in his ear.
She also seemed a little off after she had finished removing your hand,” Coral whispered in his other ear.
As everyone started finishing up and leaving Tahlmus also stood. Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna all stood with him. They all wanted time with him, and none of them wanted to let him out of their sight now that he was awake. Tahlmus knew their intentions as they stood there. “Go to my room and wait for me,” he said gently. “I need to go see Lillianna.”
All of them opened their mouths to argue, but they all closed their mouths as they noticed the hand that Urytemil had worked his magic on, being held up to quiet them. “Please,” he said. “Let me go talk to Lillianna. I promise I’m not leaving the estate.”
He hugged each one of them giving them a kiss on the cheek, before watching them leave. Turning around he saw Atargatis still sitting at her spot at the table. He walked over to her and offered his hand, which she took as she stood up. “Why don’t you go wait with them,” he said with a smile. Atargatis smiled in return and felt her face grow warm as he kissed her cheek. She couldn’t help but let out a short giggle before she hurried off after the others.
Tahlmus watched her go before looking down and removing his right hand. He sighed as a flood of emotions threatened to overwhelm him. He knew it had not been his smartest move to go alone, but he’d had to protect the Sirens, he’d had to protect his wives and the children they had conceived.
He felt the scars on his body, but knew the hand would be the biggest weight he’d have to carry. As he forced all the thoughts and emotions from his mind, he put his hand back on his wrist. “Time to see Lillianna,” he whispered as he made his way to her room.
Knocking on the door, he realized how different things felt. The door opened, and he found himself staring into his own face. “You’re awake,” Kanes whispered.
Tahlmus just nodded. “I need to speak with Lillianna,” he replied softly. Kanes moved aside and let Tahlmus in. Lillianna was looking out her window with Aesop on her shoulder, just as she had been when he had come for the amulet.
“I will not go down without a fight,” Lillianna stated as Tahlmus approached her.
“I’m not going to fight you, Lillianna,” he said placing a hand on her shoulder. It was then he felt it. As his hand, that Urytemil had fixed touched her shoulder, he knew the prophecy had already been fulfilled concerning Lillianna.
“But Andrevin…” she started as she turned to look at Tahlmus. He could tell she had been crying.
“I know what Andrevin said,” Tahlmus replied. “I told him I would not do it. At least…” he paused as he looked at his hand which was on her shoulder, “not in the exact meaning of the word,” he finished in a whisper, as he could see the tears coming back into her eyes.
“You used the torture spell.. the one you said you’d never use,” he said softly. Lillianna just stared at him. She had questions. Wondering how he knew, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask any of them. Tahlmus however didn’t need to hear the questions, he could see them in her eyes. “I can sense the darkness, Lillianna. It is consuming you. It has your soul, and it’s in your heart.” Lillianna just nodded. “Let me take it,” he said. “Let me take it, and the memories.”
Lillianna shook her head. “No… I can’t…”
“You saved my life. Now let me save yours. You know the spell to use. Use my magic to aid you.” He could see the fear in Lillianna’s eyes. The spell Tahlmus was asking her to use could go horribly wrong if not done correctly, and if the Tahlmus wasn’t strong enough the darkness could consume him. “We can perform it together,” he said. “Let me take the darkness that’s consuming you.”
“What if the spell fails?” Lillianna asked in a whisper.
“It won’t fail, but you have to trust me.” Lillianna nodded, nervously, the tears now visible on her cheeks. “Focus everything into my right hand,” Tahlmus stated as he placed his left on her other shoulder. “Are you ready?”
Taking a deep breath Lillianna nodded and closed her eyes. As she focused on the spell, she could feel Tahlmus’s magic. She focused on his magic drawing it into the spell she started weaving. Once she harnessed that, she focused on the darkness consuming her, and all the memories involved with it. With the aid of Tahlmus’s magic she was able to separate the darkness from herself and then move it into his right hand.
Tahlmus had closed his eyes as the process had started. With his magic aiding the spell, he could feel everything the spell did. He found he could even help control how the spell worked. As the darkness started flowing into his hand, he spoke to Kanes through thought, telling him to be ready with a sealable jar.
Kanes wasn’t sure what exactly was going on, but he did as his brother instructed, finding a glass jar that had an air tight lid. He stood close behind Tahlmus, waiting for his next instructions. As the spell ended he got them. “Open the jar,” Tahlmus stated in urgency as he removed his hand. Kanes did as he was told watching Tahlmus put the hand in the jar. Kanes quickly put the lid on.
“You… you can remove your hand…” Lilliana stated in shock. Kanes opened his mouth to remind her that she had been the one to remove it, but Tahlmus stopped him.
“What do you remember?” Tahlmus asked, unsure what memories Lilliana had determined needed to go.
“I remember you came to me wanting Kanes’s amulet, because you were going to Mystic’s to try to save him…. Then I remember Kanes showing up, and Aesop returning saying you were in dire need of healing. After that things are a bit fuzzy,” she replied.
Tahlmus then created a memory for her as he told her about his encounter with Mystic, and how she had led Atargatis to him. Atargatis had healed him as best she could, before Urytemil showed up. Urytemil had finished removing the partially severed hand, and fixed it so that he could still use it, but wouldn’t be able to constantly wear it.
“So why did you put it in that jar?”
“There had been an evil, that got past my protection charms while I was unconscious. I trapped it in my body, and you helped me focus it into the hand,” Tahlmus stated. He was impressed with how quickly he’d put the short story together.
“What do we do now?” Kanes asked. Tahlmus shrugged deep in thought. He was about to speak when another voice joined the conversation.
“I’ll take care of it,” the voice said. All three looked to find Urytemil standing in the doorway. “However, I will need Kanes and Tahlmus to come with me. We should start your training…”
“Tomorrow,” Tahlmus interrupted looking Urytemil straight in the eye. “Kanes and I will start training tomorrow. I’m going to spend the rest of the night with my wives, and plan on how to handle Mystic showing up to the school in three weeks. I did not lose that hand to give one of my wives to that man.”
Urytemil nodded. He had a lot more confidence in the young elf. “There’s a spell,” he said. A spell that can put up a ward, that once it is crossed, no magic can be used. It’s a versatile spell and can be used as vaguely or specifically as needed.” Tahlmus nodded as a spell came to mind. “I also think you are powerful enough to use it. We will make sure your wives, Kanes and Lillianna stay out of sight, so all he sees is you.”
“And since his magic won’t work, he won’ the able to do anything in front of everyone.”
“Exactly,” Urytemil replied. “And if you keep it activated, he won’t be able to do anything any other time either.”
Tahlmus was nodding. It was a simple spell, but required a lot of power. An amount of power he wasn’t sure he had at that time. “I might need your help when the time comes to use it on a large scale,” Tahlmus stated still in thought. “I know I wouldn’t be able to do it in my current state, but we can see what happens in a couple of weeks.”
It was Urytemil’s turn to nod. While Tahlmus had not lost any of his power, using any powerful spells in his current condition would render him unconscious. He reached out to take the jar from Kanes, who readily handed it over. “I’ll have this back to you in a couple hours. Then as you requested, I’ll wait to start your training until tomorrow.” Urytemil then disappeared from sight.
Tahlmus told Lillianna and Kanes goodbye. He could tell by the giddy desirous look on Lillianna’s face, that her and Kanes would not be leaving the bedroom for quite a while.
He walked slowly to his office, a lot weighing on his mind. Urytemil was with him now on protecting his wives, and Lillianna was taken care of. Now he had to deal with Mystic, who was much more powerful than the dark lord. “But he’s a father,” Tahlmus thought, “just like I will be in a few months,” he whispered as he thought of Celestial Coral and Fleur, while looking down at his wrist. “I did it to protect them,” he thought as he stood in front of his door. “If this was the price to pay to keep them safe, and still be alive to be a father, then it was worth it.” The thought made the weight on his shoulders almost completely disappear.
Reaching out to open the door, he let out a sad smirk, realizing that Urytemil had his hand. Tahlmus reached out with his left hand, and opened the door to his room. Celestial, Coral, Fleur, Laguna, and Atargatis were all sitting there on his bed. They turned to look at him as he walked in.
“Where’s your hand?” Celestial asked as they each stood and walked over to him.
“Urytemil had to take it for a couple hours,” Tahlmus stated, “And if Lillianna says anything, it was Urytemil who removed my hand, not her.”
By his tone, the women knew not to ask any questions, though all were curious to know what had happened. Instead they all sat there and told him how things had been going with the school planning. They took turns sitting on his lap as they spoke about each individual task they were working on. He also received updates on the baby niflers and flying baby milks. Tahlmus couldn’t help but laugh when Fleur told him how one of the baby niflers had started following Coral around with Kleenex’s when he wasn’t playing with Andrevin. He cut the laugh short however, as Coral started glaring at him.
A few minutes later there came a knock on the door. “That’s weird,” Tahlmus thought as he rose to go answer the door. He was surprised when, after opening the door, the three baby milks flew in, followed by Juggles and Midge. Then Mr. Sniffles came in with Fluffy, followed by the baby niflers, who were dragging Andrevin along.
“You almost have the whole family here.” Tahlmus heard Urytemil’s voice inside his room. Turning around he saw Urytemil standing by his desk holding his hand. Tahlmus just nodded as he closed the door and approached Urytemil.
“I will see you and Kanes tomorrow afternoon,” Urytemil said after watching Tahlmus attach the hand to his wrist. Confident that there were no ill effects from the magic he had used, Urytemil left.
The rest of the evening passed pleasantly. His wives went back to discussing their plans for the school and started coming up with plans to keep Lillianna and Kanes occupied since they couldn’t leave the estate. Tahlmus just smiled as he listened. He was sure that Lillianna would have no trouble occupying the time her and Kanes spent at the estate.
Even Andrevin was more animated than normal as he played with the baby niflers. He even let Fleur snuggle him when she wasn’t near Tahlmus. They even enjoyed laughs when one of the baby niflers ran up to Coral, pulling a Kleenex out of its pouch when she sneezed. Eventually all quieted down and they all curled up to sleep.
Mystic yelled in anger as Tahlmus disappeared from his sight. “That metal should have prevented all of his magic,” he thought clenching his fists. “How did he do it?” Mystic yelled. Furious he turned around and headed back upstairs. The metal had worked with the black dragon. It had rendered him powerless. If the twins were indeed from the cursed female gold dragon, then the metal should have hindered Tahlmus’ magic completely. “It had worked on Kanes,” Mystic thought as he ascended the stairs. The magical signature had even been similar, but Tahlmus had been stronger than Kanes… much stronger. “Why didn’t the magic ever locate him then,” Mystic wondered as he made his way to his office.
“Dad,” his son’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “Dad… Dad… the letter came. The letter came,” Solas yelled excitedly before finally stopping in front of his dad. Mystic took the letter his son held out, opened it, and started reading,
“Dear Solas, we are pleased to inform you, that you have been accepted for study at the Sirens School of Magic. Orientation will start on the first of the month with classes to start on the sixth. We look forward to meeting you. Signed, Tahlmus and the Sirens.”
Solas yelled in excitement, as Mystic felt his breath get caught in his throat. “I got in dad. I got in,” he said dancing around. “I’ll go to school and make you proud.” Solas stopped celebrating as he noticed that his dad didn’t seem very happy. “Dad…” he started tugging on his dad’s shirt. Mystic looked at his son. “Dad aren’t you happy? I got into the school.”
“What…? Oh yes,” Mystic forced a smile on his face. “I’m very happy Solas. I just have some work matters on my mind.” He folded up the letter, tucking it away in his back pocket before kneeling down to his son’s level. “How about we go raid the freezer for some ice cream to celebrate.
Solas grinned broadly nodding his head. Mystic stood, holding out his hand which Solas took, and they started walking down the hall to the kitchen. “Hey dad,” Solas started slowly. “Do you think mom would be happy?” He asked looking up at his dad’s face.
“Oh, Solas,” Mystic said as he picked his son up. “Of course, she would be happy.” He held back the tears the stung his eyes as he thought of his late wife and forced a smile. “Your mom was always happy when you were happy, or when you accomplished something.” Mystic let himself laugh “She wouldn’t approve of our eating ice cream so close to supper, but I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Solas smiled shaking his head. Him and his dad took time each night to sit in his mother’s sitting room and talk to her picture. He usually told his mom everything, but tonight he’d keep his and dad’s little secret.
Once Mystic had gotten his son to bed he pulled out the acceptance letter, rereading it. “He’s been under my nose the entire time,” Mystic growled. “If that young brat lived, I will get him when I take Solas to orientation. He may be able to hide Kanes, but he won’t be able to hid himself, not if he’s running the school.” Mystic opened the door to his own room. “I shouldn’t have a problem getting him alone at the estate. Then I drain his power and kill him.”
Mystic growled again as he changed for bed. He would start planning everything early in the morning. If he did it right, Urytemil would show himself, and he could take his power too. “Orientation can’t get here soon enough,” Mystic thought as he got in bed and fell asleep.