Tahlmus tried to ignore the growing feeling of dread in his stomach, while they all ate breakfast. He poked at the food on his plate unable to eat. All the women were busy talking and discussing how they hoped the day would go. No one seemed to notice anything wrong with Tahlmus.
As everyone finished their meal, they went to their posts for the day. The kids needed to be checked in, Tahlmus wanted to greet each one personally, they’d then be shown to their rooms, and have time to get settled in before the big welcome speech. Once the welcome speech was completed, lunch would be served, after which the parents would say their goodbyes and the students would split into groups and be given tours.
Tahlmus just sat there still picking at his food. “Hey, you ok?” A voice sounded behind him.
Tahlmus exhaled deeply. “You got my back, right?”
“Of course brother.”
“Then, yeah, I’m good,” Tahlmus stated as he stood up and started walking towards Kanes. He clapped his brother on the back and the two walked out of the dining hall together. Kanes stopped walking several feet from the main door, as Tahlmus continued on and stood in the doorway looking out over the grounds. There was still twenty minutes before registration started, but a line was already forming at the registration table. Atargatis and Methuselah were going to be sitting there. Since Mystic wasn’t looking for Atargatis, she could screen everyone and he could keep an eye on her.
Tahlmus felt arms wrap around his waist and a head rested on his shoulder. He let himself smile. “Good morning Coral,” he said softly as he placed his hands on hers. After he finished looking around he turned to look at her. “Are you ok?” He asked as he put his arms around her waist. Her hands went to the back of his neck pulling him in for a kiss.
“I’m worried about you. We are all worried about you. You didn’t eat this morning at breakfast.”
“And we know that you only do that when you think something is going to go wrong,” another voice stated. Tahlmus turned with Coral still in his arms to see Laguna approaching them. Tahlmus shifted Coral to his left arm and held out his right to Laguna and embraced both of them.
“There is no reason to worry about me,” he said softly. “I’m just a little more nervous than normal. I haven’t had this much social interaction since I came to you all for help all that time ago.” He could see Coral searching his eyes, she was looking for the tell that he was lying.
“You socialize with all of us,” Laguna said. “You will be fine.”
“Laguna is right,” Coral said after deciding that what Tahlmus had said wasn’t a lie. “You will be great with all the kids.”
“Thanks,” he said giving both of them a kiss on the forehead. “Now go finish preparing for this morning. The kids will be here soon.” Both women smiled at him and walked away. Tahlmus watched them until he couldn’t see them anymore, before he sighed, shook his head and walked over to where Kanes was patiently waiting.
“It’s all going to be fine,” Kanes said seeing the look on his brother’s face.
Tahlmus managed to smirk. “I thought I was supposed to give the hollow reassurances.” He just couldn’t shake the bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Why don’t you go check on everyone,” Tahlmus stated looking around. “Make sure Andrevin, the niflers, and dancing milks are all in place. Then come back here.” Kanes just nodded and walked off to do as his brother asked. He went to the dining hall first. It would be the kids last stop, but Lillianna was stationed there. With as nervous as his brother was, he wanted to check on her first.
She was stationed by the door with Celestial. They would accept the meal tickets then give the kids, and their parents little name plates to put at their table so that everyone could start to get better acquainted.
“Doing one last check on everyone,” Kanes said. “You ladies all good here?”
“Yes,” Celestial replied. “I believe we are all ready to go.”
“I think a better question is… Are you and Tahlmus prepared?” Lillian said as she stood and walked over to Kanes. Despite knowing that Kanes was now more proficient in his magic and that him and Tahlmus were working really well together, she was still worried about the part he was supposed to play.
Kanes nodded as he wrapped Lillianna in a hug. “Yes, I believe so,” he said. Though as he stood there holding Lillianna he started to have doubts. “This must be what Tahlmus feels,” he thought as his stomach started to churn just a bit.
“What’s wrong?” Lillian asked backing away from the embrace as she sensed something change in Kanes.
“Nothing really,” he said trying to put on a smile. Lillianna crossed her arms, and he sighed. “I just… I understand now why Tahlmus is having me double check everything. Neither of us want anything to go wrong.”
Lillianna eyed him but said nothing as she went back to her seat by Celestial. “You and Tahlmus be careful,” Celestial said as the silence became deafening. “You two are the ones Mystic wants, and Tahlmus will be the one he sees first.” Kanes nodded. “Neither of you need to take any unnecessary risks,” Celestial finished with her hand over the small baby bump she had.
“I’ll make sure nothing happens to him,” Kanes said
“Make sure you don’t let anything happen to yourself either,” Lillianna said instinctively putting her own hand over her stomach. Kanes promised to watch out for himself before he made his way over to where Fleur was sitting at the end of the dormitories.
She was going to be giving the kids and their parents their meal tickets. It was a simple precaution to make sure that no-one but the child and their parents entered the dining hall. Andrevin sat next to her, and if he sat perfectly still, he looked like nothing more than a golden dragon statue. If for some reason he moved, Fleur was prepared to tell the families that the statue had been enchanted to stand guard at the school.
“Tahlmus shouldn’t worry so much,” Fleur stated as Kanes asked his questions. “He put protections in place. Everything will run smoothly. Besides you are supposed to be with him because he’s in the most danger being out front like that.” Kanes just nodded, made the promise to try to keep Tahlmus safe, and walked into the dormitory hallway. He walked through the halls looking at all the rooms which would soon be full of children wondering what it would have been like to have gone to a real school.
Kanes came up behind Coral and Laguna who both turned to look at him as he approached. They were sitting at the entrance to the dormitories. The other Sirens had not yet arrived as they were finishing up last minute details with the rest of the estate. The kids would stop at their table, and sign for their key before being directed to another Siren who would then show them where to find their room.
“The niflers and milk cartons are under the table,” Coral said as Kanes started to open his mouth.
“How did you …?”
“You wouldn’t be here if Tahlmus hadn’t asked you to check on us,” Laguna said. Kanes nodded.
“I knew something else was wrong,” Coral whispered to herself. “We are safe here,” she said in a normal voice. “Make sure he stays safe as well.”
Kanes promised to watch out for Tahlmus and then made his way back towards the entrance hall, where Tahlmus was still standing where he had left, though Methuselah and Atargatis were with him. He kept his distance, until after Methuselah and Atargatis left, though not before Atargatis pressed her lips to Tahlmus’s in what Kanes felt was a fairly passionate kiss. For almost five whole seconds, Kanes thought he saw his brother relax.
After the women walked out the door, he approached Tahlmus. “Everyone is where they need to be,” he said. Kanes stood next to his brother who was still looking at the door the women had gone through. For a split second Kanes thought his brother looked terrified. He put his hand on Tahlmus’s shoulder. ‘Don’t worry about your wives, they are protected. You’ve done a good job setting all this up.”
Tahlmus nodded. “That’s what Atargatis said, but I can’t shake this feeling that I overlooked something.”
“Even if you did, your wives are smart enough to see through any charade, and they are much better at magic than I was. They will be able to defend themselves and escape.”
Tahlmus let out a sigh. “You’re right. They are all smart and cunning,” he paused. “And they are not alone.”
“Neither are you. I’ll be here the entire time.”
Tahlmus nodded as he heard commotion outside. “Things are starting, time to take our places.” Kanes nodded, and cast the spell he needed to make himself invisible to all who entered the estate. Tahlmus walked to the doorway, prepared to meet all the students.
“Come on dad. Hurry up,” Solas urged Mystic on. “We’re going to be late. I can’t be late.” Solas’s anxiety started to rise. “What will they think of me? They’ll kick me out before I even get started. I…”
“Solas my boy, it will be alright. They aren’t going to kick you out for an incompetent shipmate losing your luggage.”
Once he had his son calmed down they continued on their way. By the time they arrived there was a long line by the registration table, and another shorter line by the entrance. It was at the entrance that he saw Tahlmus there greeting everyone.
“The boy is alive,” he thought. “Brave for putting himself out in the open like this.” Mystic continued to look around, but he didn’t see anything or anyone else of interest. “Where are you hiding them?” he wondered.
The line moved at a pretty good pace. Whatever system they had going, was working quite well. Mystic took notice that no-one else came up to stand behind them. A part of him felt bad for the delay having caused them to be the last to show up, but it would allow him to have a private conversation with Tahlmus. The elf was not going to get away so easily, this time.
As Mystic got closer to the estate itself, he could feel his ability to draw on his magic fading. “Smart,” he thought as they finally approached the table. Mystic didn’t recognize either woman sitting there. Neither was who he was looking for.
“You must be Solas,” the one on Mystic’s right said looking at his son.
“Yes, ma’am,” Solas replied smiling.
“And this is your father, Mystic?” The lady asked.
“Yes,” Solas replied, watching the woman make a check on the page before smiling at him. “What’s your name?”
“Solas,” Mystic started to admonish his son.
The woman giggled, then smiled. It was then that Mystic saw it. When she smiled, she looked like his late wife. “It’s ok,” he heard her saying as if through a fog. “My name is Atargatis.
“That’s a nice name,” Solas replied. “Daddy says my mom had a nice name. You look like her picture when you smile.”
“You are too sweet,” Atargatis said as she handed Solas his welcome bag. “In here, you will find a couple snacks, and a map of the estate to help you find your way around over the next few days.”
“Thank you, Miss Atargatis.”
“You are welcome,” Atargatis smiled. “Now you can go meet Tahlmus. He is in charge of the school,” she finished pointing towards the main entrance where Tahlmus had just finished greeting the last family.
Solas thanked her again then started walking towards the main entrance. Mystic stepped up to Atargatis feeling a bit awkward. “Sorry,” he said looking at the ground. “His mother died when he was really young. He doesn’t remember much about her, except for how she looks in the picture I keep in his room.”
“Atargatis smiled softly. “You don’t have to explain,” she said as it looked like Mystic might say more.
Mystic just smiled then made his way over to the entrance where Solas was speaking with Tahlmus. “And my daddy is the bestest mage,” Solas was saying as Mystic approached.
“Solas, what did I tell you about stretching the truth.”
“But dad, I’m not. You are the best and one day I’m going to be just like you.” Mystic felt a small pang of guilt at his son’s words.
“Solas has told me of all you’ve done,” Tahlmus stated as evenly as he could. “It’s an honor to meet one so well accomplished,” he finished holding out his hand.
Mystic accepted the hand Tahlmus offered and shook it. As he shook it he realized that while it looked like a real hand, it was a prosthetic. “I guess he didn’t get away as unscathed as he appears,” Mystic thought as the handshake ended. “Son, why don’t you go find your room. I would like to speak to Tahlmus here privately.”
Solas opened his mouth to argue, but he didn’t get a chance. “I can show him where the dormitories are,” Atargatis said as she walked up holding her binder against her chest.
“If you don’t mind,” Tahlmus said.
“I don’t mind at all,” Atargatis replied with a smile and held her hand out to Solas who gladly accepted it and followed her towards the dormitories. Both Tahlmus and Mystic watched them walk away before they turned their attention back to each other.
“You have some good protective charms in place,” Mystic said casually though Tahlmus could see the fire in his eyes.
“I will always protect the kids and my teachers,” Tahlmus replied.
Mystic smiled a vile smile. “That’s good to know,” he said. “And I’m sure you have ways to deal with those who don’t belong.”
“Yes,” Tahlmus replied confidently despite the ever growing pit in his stomach. Mystic just smiled. “Is Solas a twin?” Tahlmus asked as he felt the need to change the subject. Mystic looked at Tahlmus bewildered. There was no way he could know. “I only ask because I sense in Solas the same thing I sensed in my brother Kanes. He has the magic ability but he lacks a source of power. A twin would explain that.”
Mystic didn’t know what to say. The memories flooded his mind, there was no stopping them. “I.. uh.. I don’t see how that’s…” Mystic trailed off as what Tahlmus had said fully sank in. “He … did have a twin,” Mystic said slowly in a barely audible whisper, not sure if he should really be admitting this to the man he needed to capture; however, he was realizing that Tahlmus’s suggestion meant that Solas had draconic magic and not the regular magic that Mystic himself had. “But there was an accident that took him and my wife,” he finished his voice still just above a whisper.
Tahlmus didn’t need to ask any more questions. Just like with Coral when he unintentionally heard her thoughts, the same thing happened with Mystic. Tahlmus knew now that Mystic had been the one to kill his son and wife. It had been an accident. His wife had been chasing the little one and they had ended up in between Mystic and his intended target. The spell had gotten both of them.
“I’m very sorry to hear that,” Tahlmus said softly bowing his head. They stood here in an awkward silence for several long minutes. Tahlmus knew now that he would never be able to kill Mystic, even if his life depended on it, and Mystic was lost in thought over what this new information meant for him. “I wonder why she never told me,” he wondered as he started to understand that his wife would have had the draconic magic.
“You probably want to catch up with Solas,” Tahlmus finally stated. He gave Mystic direction to the dormitories, and watched him leave. As Mystic went out of sight, Tahlmus felt Kanes standing next to him.
“We need to find out about Mystic’s wife,” Tahlmus said before Kanes could remove the spell keeping him from sight.
Kanes was confused. “Why do we need to do that?”
“Because, Solas is like you. He has the magic ability but he doesn’t have the source. His twin brother was the source.”
“Ok…” Kanes said still not completely following what his brother was saying.
“This sort of thing isn’t just rare,” Tahlmus started as he turned to look at his brother. “If and when it occurs, it only occurs in dragon twins, or twins born of one that has been given draconic magic.”
“So then…” Kanes was still trying to put it all together.
“Mystic’s wife was either a dragon masquerading as a human, or she had been given the gift of magic from a dragon.”
Kanes eyes went wide. “Wait,” he said. “If it’s the first one…”
“Then Solas’s mom was a golden dragon as ours was.”
“No, Mystic never knew.”
“What will finding out do for us?”
Tahlmus shrugged. “I don’t know, but it could help me help Solas.” He paused. “Why don’t you go to the dining hall; I’m going to my office, see if I can contact Urytemil. See what he knows.” “I’m coming with you.” Tahlmus opened his mouth to speak, but Kanes spoke first. “I promised your wives to watch after you today. Wherever you go, I go.” Tahlmus shrugged as they headed off to his office.
Continue on to Part 14.