Fleur could hear the sound of dripping water as she started to recover some of her senses. A shiver went through her. It took a few seconds for her to realize the cold was coming from a damp cement floor. Groaning she tried to sit up. Her body was very stiff and the muscles ached.
“I’m so glad you woke up,” a voice came from Fleur’s left.
“Celestial?” Fleur questioned as she made out a few of the features of the person speaking. She still felt woozy and her vision wasn’t quite working properly.
“Yes it’s me.”
“Is anyone else here?”
“No. Not in this cell anyway,” Celestial replied as she knelt next to Fleur.
“I don’t understand. Tahlmus had taken so many precautions. How’d they get in?”
Celestial sighed. She had wondered the same thing when she had first woken up. “I don’t know,” Celestial replied softly looking at the floor. “I know he hadn’t been sleeping. That’s why he always said no when we approached him about being around when the incoming students moved in.”
“Do you think he had a vision about this?”
Celestial could sense the bit of anger that was in Fleur’s voice as she frowned; her own frustration coming back. She took a deep breath. “If he did, then it’s a situation like with Winky, where to save the majority of people he had to let Winky be captured.”
This time Fleur frowned as she remembered the situation that had brought Tahlmus to them. She also remembered how upset and desperate he had been. The anger slowly started to fade. “So what do we do?”
Celestial tilted her head in thought. “If there’s an opening to escape, we do it, otherwise…” her voice drifted off. She didn’t like what she was going to say next and knew Fleur wouldn’t either.
“Otherwise… we give them what they want.”
“But that’s information on Tahlmus.” Fleur was shocked that Celestial would even suggest that.
Celestial just nodded. She hated the idea of giving Mystic what he wanted. “Yes,” she whispered. “But we will be alive when Tahlmus finds us, and he will be fine because he has Urytemil, Kanes, Lillianna, Coral, Laguna, and all the others to help him.”
“Ok,” was all Fleur could say. The two sat there in silence waiting. They weren’t sure what would happen next, but both hoped that Tahlmus came to save them sooner rather than later.
Atargatis woke up in a bed that wasn’t her own. She sat straight up and looked around. She was not in her room. The room didn’t look like anything from the estate. The door started to creep open. Atargatis thought of hiding under the sheets, but figured it was no use; so she sat there looking at the door.
“Ah, you are awake. Master Mystic will be pleased.” The person at the door turned and soft softly with someone Atargatis could not see. “Now then, let’s get you dressed for supper. Master Mystic had some of the finest evening gowns delivered here just a little bit ago.”
Atargatis wasn’t sure what to say, as she recalled what had happened. She wanted to smack her forehead, but allowed the strange woman to help her out of the bed and show her the wardrobe of evening gowns. She couldn’t help but be impressed. A bright shimmery blue one caught her eye.
“You will look beautiful in that,” the strange woman said as she gave Atargatis a gentle push towards the bathroom. Atargatis just blushed as she went in and changed into the gown. It fit perfectly. “Master Mystic was right,” the woman started as Atargatis walked out. “Except for the hair, you look just like his late wife, may she rest in peace.”
Atargatis frowned. “What happened to her?”
The woman looked sad, casting her yes to the ground. “Master Mystic was working on his spells, when his wife Kaonna and their son Anders got in the way. Kaonna had been chasing Anders who was refusing to bathe. Mystic had not seen them until it was too late. The spell caught both of them. It’s just been him and Solas since.
“Does Solas know?” Atargatis asked.
The woman shook her head. “He does not,” the woman paused. “But enough of sad things, we must get you down to supper.”
Atargatis just nodded as she followed the woman out the door. Clearly remembering the conversations with Mystic from earlier, she realized he had not taken her to get at Tahlmus. He had most likely taken her the way he did because he needed companionship. Scared as she was, Atargatis walked into the dining hall with as much confidence as she could.
Mystic stood as Atargatis entered the room. A part of him felt guilty for the thoughts and feelings he had upon seeing her in the evening gown. While the other part of him wanted nothing more than to give in to those thoughts and feelings. “You… uh… You look beautiful,” he said awkwardly as he met her partway across the room. He watched a smile spread across her lips. “I… I can’t help but desire to kiss you,” he whispered as he started to turn red.
“Let’s talk first,” Atargatis replied unsure how she should deal with Mystic. She was very much in love with Tahlmus, and had just conceived his child. Seeing this side of Mystic though, made her start to wonder. It was rare for a woman to take more than one husband, but not unheard of. This thought crossed her mind as Mystic escorted her to the table and pulled the seat out so she could sit down. “He’s such a gentleman,” Atargatis thought. “How can he be so evil?”
As Mystic sat down, some kitchen staff brought out the meal. He tried to make some casual conversation, but he kept getting tongue-tied. The fact that Atargatis did her best to hide her amusement made him turn red and have that much more difficulty in speaking. Near the end of the meal, Atargatis set her silverware down and looked at Mystic. “You are quite charming,” she started, “and very much a gentleman. Why do you wish to do so much harm to Tahlmus?”
Mystic looked away from her gaze. It was the same innocently inquiring gaze that Kaonna always had when she wanted to know something he didn’t wish to tell. He had always given in and answered her questions. “Can we… uh… can we discuss this somewhere a little more private?” he asked gazing around at the servants and guards posted at the doors. Atargatis just nodded. She accepted Mystic’s arm and followed him into another room. It had shelves of books and a desk, much like Tahlmus’s office.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t the power seeking man that I am now,” he said as he turned to look at Atargatis. “After meeting Kaonna, my father told me of our history; about great grandfather Ezio and his mission to get the power from the cursed gold dragon. It’s been believed if my family can gain that power, we can take back the throne and be the rightful rulers again.”
Atargatis looked at him in shock. “Wait, your family was once the royalty of this land?”
Mystic nodded. “Dad never explained how we lost the throne, nor has any of the family history books. Since he told me though, I have tried to gain that power. I had the dragon once, but somehow Tahlmus’s father helped him to escape.” Atargatis stood there silently listening. She knew this part. “When I found out that man had been given the draconic magic and that he’d had sons, I figured his sons would be easier to get.”
“Then you got married and had your own kids,” Atargatis stated. Mystic just nodded. He wasn’t ready to discuss that. “Let me go back,” Atargatis started.
“I can talk to Tahlmus, he can…”
“You’re mine now. You stay here,” Mystic said with a hint of anger in his voice. “Leave me now,” he said turning from her. “There’s a servant just outside the door who will show you back to your room.”
“As you wish,” Atargatis replied softly before walking out. As Mystic had said a servant was there who took her back to her room. She stood at the window looking out over the city. A lot of emotions and thoughts were going through her mind. She felt torn. She loved Tahlmus but something told her that Mystic needed her. “What do I do?” she whispered her question to the window.
After the tours had ended and the kids sent back to their dormitories, the Sirens were busy preparing for the next day. So busy that none of them noticed that Celestial, Fleur, and Atargatis were missing. They just assumed they were helping Tahlmus prepare for the next day. He had a lot to do. They started to wonder when supper rolled around, but weren’t too concerned as Tahlmus, Coral and Laguna weren’t there either. The Sirens made the assumption that Tahlmus was enjoying some alone time with his wives, which in the past couple of weeks wasn’t all that uncommon.
Even the fact that Kanes and Lillianna weren’t in the dining hall wasn’t all that uncommon, and since it was just a social hour for the kids, none of them really needed to be present. The Sirens were able to take care of everything. It seemed like the hour passed quickly and in no time at all they were sending the kids off to bed. They continued to sit in the dining hall a little longer, hoping Tahlmus would come to give them a short pep talk about the next morning.
Tahlmus had every book on location spells open. They were lying across his desk and the floor. While he had only skimmed through bits of all of them, he had learned a lot. He had been so focused on the books that the knock on the door startled him. Sensing it was Laguna and Coral he magically unlocked the door and opened it so they could enter.
“I think I have some things figured out,” he said. “Please have a seat.” Coral and Laguna looked at each other then followed Tahlmus’s request. A few minutes later Kanes and Lillianna showed up.
Once everyone was sitting Tahlmus asked for one item from each of them, that they would always wear and never remove from their person. The girls all gave him their rings, and Kanes produced his amulet. Tahlmus took them, weaved some magic he had just learned, then returned them explaining that as long as they possessed these trinkets he would be able to locate them.
“Too bad one of us hadn’t found this spell sooner,” Kanes said before he could stop himself.
Tahlmus flinched, the pain evident in his eyes. “I know,” he said softly. “I should have done more research… taken more precautions…” he sighed. “I should have hidden you all away.”
“No,” Coral said as she stood looking at him. “We all wanted to be there to have your back. We made the decision together. Even the other Siren’s agreed that it was safe enough for us to help out.” She could tell Tahlmus didn’t look convinced. “We knew the risk involved when we discussed this. We all agreed having your back was worth the risk.”
“She’s right,” Laguna stated. “We made these decisions together, and we all understood that something like this could happen.”
Tahlmus sighed. He knew they were right, but that didn’t stop all the thoughts or feelings. He was about to discuss trying to get Fleur and Celestial back when Urytemil popped into the room. “I know where they are,” he said. By his tone Tahlmus knew it wasn’t going to be good. He waited silently. “They are in the castle. Mystic must have convinced the King to let him keep prisoners there.”
“That’s good then isn’t it?” Kanes asked. “We can go get them.”
Urytemil shook his head. “It’s not good at all.” Tahlmus sat down, elbows on his knees, hands clasped together, lightly bouncing his thumbs off his forehead. “What’s wrong?” Kanes asked looking from Tahlmus to Urytemil.
“The castle is going to be protected like Mystic’s estate. Urytemil can’t approach it and if you or I enter, we will trigger some sort of alarm as we have Urytemil’s draconic magic. My guess is it’s also completely fortified so draconic magic can’t be used,” Tahlmus finished with a heavy sigh. The silence in the room was suffocating. “Lillianna,” Tahlmus finally said. “I want to talk to you about something. The rest of you gather the rest of the Sirens in the dining hall. The kids should have been sent to their rooms by now.”
Coral wanted to argue, but seeing Urytemil head out with the others, she did as Tahlmus asked. They found it easy to gather the other Sirens as they were all still in the dining hall. The Sirens started asking questions, as they noticed Celestial, Fleur and Atargatis had not come with the others. Suspicions were raised as Urytemil was with them. Laguna was beginning to think the Sirens would start a mutiny or something worse when Tahlmus walked in with Lillianna. Everyone turned to look at him as he walked over. Lillianna walked over to stand by Kanes.
They all sat as Tahlmus came to a stop in front of them. “I… I have some bad news,” he started slowly. He could feel his chest start to tighten. “Despite my best efforts to keep everyone safe, Celestial, Fleur and Atargatis have been taken by Mystic.” He paused to try to keep himself together, but that pause was all the Sirens needed. He heard their questions, but had no answers. The question that stung the most was ‘How could you let this happen?’ closely followed with ‘You should have kept them hidden’.
Tahlmus had no words. Everything they questioned, what they said. He’d been asking and saying to himself since he had found out. Coral walked up and stood beside him giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “Before you go throwing anymore accusations, remember we came to you, and discussed this before we took it to Tahlmus. We knew the risks as did you, and everyone agreed that all of us needed to be there to support Tahlmus.”
“How do we know you didn’t manipulate them? Manipulate us?” one of the Sirens shouted.
“Right, you have developed some of the same power Tahlmus has,” another yelled out.
“Listen,” Tahlmus raised his voice above the others so he could be heard. “This is no-one’s doing but mine. I made the decision. I got them captured. I know how to save Celestial and Fleur…” he started.
“Yeah, give yourself up to Mystic.”
Tahlmus gently pushed Coral back over towards Laguna before she could say anything. “There’s no guarantee that he’d release them,” Tahlmus said. He had discussed that option with Lillianna and as they spoke he’d had a vision showing him what would happen if he turned himself over to Mystic. It wouldn’t end well for anyone.
“I can get Celestial and Fleur back here, but they could lose some of their memories, such as the fact they are married to me,” he paused. Doing so allowed him to hear the whispers, ‘that wouldn’t be a bad thing’, spread amongst the Sirens. “Also there is a chance that they’d lose the child they are carrying, but they most likely wouldn’t remember conceiving the child.”
Tahlmus could hear the muttering spread throughout the Sirens. “What about Atargatis?” someone asked.
“Mystic wishes to take her as his wife. She doesn’t feel she’s in danger. She wishes to stay and try to change him. So I let her stay,” he said. Everyone except Lillianna looked at him in disbelief.
“How do you know?” they all seemed to ask at once.
“There’s a spell, I just learned that allows me to bypass anything set up to deter or alert to draconic magic. It’s the same spell I can use to get to Celestial and Fleur, however unlike at Mystic’s estate I won’t be able to just sneak out with them; which is why there’s a risk to the memories.”
“What about you? What’s your risk?”
“My only risk is losing my ability to weave magic,” Tahlmus said softly.
The sirens all got together and started talking amongst themselves. Coral went over and held onto Tahlmus’s arm, while Laguna just stood back. She didn’t know what to do. The Sirens were her family, and she had a feeling, that soon, Tahlmus wouldn’t be.
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