“How long do you think we’ve been here?” Fleur asked as she wrapped the thin blanket tighter around her shoulders.
“A week at least,” Celestial replied as she turned away from the cell door to look at Fleur. “I don’t understand why Mystic hasn’t come to question us.”
“Maybe Urytemil was wrong,” Fleur started with a hint of hopefulness in her voice. “Maybe we were never going to be interrogated about Tahlmus. Maybe the plan always was just to hold us to set a trap for Tahlmus.”
Celestial shrugged. Fleur could be right, but she wasn’t so sure. Urytemil and Tahlmus were too powerful to have gotten the wrong read on their visions. “Something isn’t right,” she whispered as she continued to stand there in thought. They had been fed well, and treated a little better than normal prisoners; at least it was better than she expected.
She also found it odd that Tahlmus hadn’t tried to save them yet. “Of course he could have and is being held prisoner elsewhere,” she thought as she walked over and sat by Fleur.
They huddled closer together as footsteps sounded in the hall. “This must be it,” Fleur whispered. Both of them knew it wasn’t meal time, so there was no reason for anyone to be walking towards them unless it was for what they both feared… to be interrogated by Mystic.
“Do you have to go to the castle?” Atargatis asked as her head lay on Mystic’s shoulder and her finger traced out a random pattern on his bare chest. It was interesting to her that Mystic seemed to enjoy the same physical, yet non-sexual intimacies that Tahlmus enjoyed. “Being with Mystic wouldn’t be all that bad,” she thought as she waited his answer.
Mystic turned to look at her with a small smile. Despite all the desires he felt when with her, he couldn’t bring himself to do more than just hold her. He was very nervous about doing anything more than that. “I guess I could send a messenger to get the prisoners I’m holding there,” he mused. “How about I send them tomorrow to get my prisoners while I accompany you back to the school?” he asked.
“You’re… You’re going to let me go back to the school?” she asked.
Mystic nodded. “I… I can’t keep you against your will, and I can’t keep you from doing something you love. I… I… it’s just… I kind of fell in love with you… but…” his words drifted off.
“Maybe if you let me talk with Tahlmus, he will be ok with me being with both of you.” Mystic frowned. He didn’t like the idea of sharing Atargatis. “But it would get me closer to Tahlmus and Kanes,” he thought to himself. “Maybe we can both speak to him,” he said turning to look at her.
“OK,” she said softly as their faces were now close together. She saw the desire in Mystic’s eyes, but sensed his hesitation. He always hesitated. “Kiss me,” she whispered starting to close the distance between them. Mystic finished closing the distance and kissed her. The one kiss turned into several, feeding the desire he’d kept hidden for so long. His hands started searching for exposed skin and Atargatis didn’t stop him.
Solas had enjoyed his first week of school, despite the rough start on the first day. That day had ended in a class where magic had been necessary. Even though it was a simple spell he couldn’t do it. He had been the only one in the class who hadn’t been able to complete the spell. The teacher had kept him after class discussing the possibility of changing his schedule to include classes that didn’t require magic.
Solas was feeling crushed when the headmaster, Tahlmus, had stepped in. The teacher seemed to growl when Tahlmus said he thought he knew how to help Solas do magic and that no change in classes would be needed. He had then asked Solas to follow him to his office. There Solas started learning about draconic magic. He also learned the difference between having the ability to weave spells, and having a source to draw from to perform the spells.
Tahlmus believed Solas had been born without a source, a very rare occurrence. He had then told Solas how to use his source to be able to unlock Solas power. It had taken Solas a couple of tries, but once he figured out what Tahlmus meant he found he could do very simple spells with ease.
After spending the next couple of days learning how to pull from Tahlmus’s source of power, Tahlmus determined Solas was ready to have the source on his person. So after supper, Tahlmus had given him a small pendant and told him as long as he wore the pendant he would be able to perform magic.
The Sirens had determined that Tahlmus had to save Celestial and Fleur, but make sure their memories and the children they’d conceived were all intact when he got them back to the estate. He had spent quite a few long hours the next day discussing options with Lillianna and Urytemil. The best plan they could come up with was the most dangerous and required Atargatis to be able to communicate with Tahlmus without Mystic knowing, as he would have to know when Mystic planned on interrogating Celestial and Fleur. If Tahlmus could get there first, he would have a chance at getting them out of the castle. If he could get them far enough away from the castle Urytemil could transport them home without any issues.
Lillianna had solved the communication problem. She created a pair of bracelets from a long forgotten spell she had found in her great-great grandmother Macha’s spell book. As long as both parties were wearing the bracelet they could communicate. All it took was a touch to activate it, then the person channeled the thoughts they wished to communicate to the bracelet. The partner’s bracelet would feel warm against their wrist, and at that point they could touch it, and hear the thoughts being transmitted. What Tahlmus liked was that it was so simple, it was undetectable by any sort of magical defense that was currently known. Using the same process as before, Lillianna got Tahlmus to Mystic’s estate. He gave Atargatis the bracelet, told her how to use it, and the information he needed. She promised to do her best.
That was when the sleepless nights started. Tahlmus was anxious to hear from Atargatis and he did not want to miss any communication she might send. He also worried for Coral and Laguna. A few of the Sirens had made some very dark comments towards Coral. No matter what he said, they didn’t stop. It also tore at him to hear the rumors that him and Laguna had, had a falling out as Laguna had taken to staying in her room alone much of the time.
Tahlmus did his best to hide everything from the students. The first day he had sat in on several different classes, a couple of which Solas had been a student, which had then led to him working with Solas after classes. That half an hour a night was the only time Tahlmus felt like his old self, with no worries other than making sure Solas didn’t get hurt.
“Tahlmus… Tahlmus,” he heard whispered in his ear and he felt hands shaking him. He rolled over, the moonlight from the window allowing him to see Coral’s eyes. “You’re tossing and turning again.”
Tahlmus sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said before silence fell between them.
“It’s ok, I couldn’t sleep anyway.”
“What’s wrong?” Tahlmus asked sitting up. He reached to the nightstand for his hand and put it on before wrapping his arms around her.
“Some of the Sirens think I’m manipulating you so that you won’t go get Fleur and Celestial. They don’t understand why you haven’t done it yet.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have explained how this was going to work, but if the school is to survive, I can’t. If I’m caught then you all need to be able to say you knew nothing of what I was doing.” He paused. He knew he should tell her, but he didn’t want to put her in danger. Tahlmus was about to speak when he felt the bracelet on his wrist warm up. He stared at it for a few seconds, hesitant to hear what Atargatis had to say.
Coral noticed the change in Tahlmus and watched as he closed his eyes and touched the bracelet on his wrist. She tried to read him as he sat there touching the bracelet, but his face didn’t give anything away. “What’s going on?” she asked as Tahlmus opened his eyes.
Tahlmus sighed, there was no keeping things from her now. “Atargatis can communicate with me through this bracelet. Mystic is sending a messenger to the palace tomorrow, or rather this morning,” he said noticing the time, “to get Celestial and Fleur and take them back to his estate.”
“So…” Coral prodded wanting Tahlmus to finish his thought since his words had just drifted off.
“It means, that I have a small window of time where I can get Celestial and Fleur. If I’m successful, we will all be back here unscathed. If I’m not…” he looked Coral directly in the eye. “You, Kanes and Lillianna need to leave the estate. You’ll need to travel to a new land, and go into hiding.” Coral opened her mouth to argue but Tahlmus put a finger to her lips. “Promise me,” he said. “Promise me if I don’t come back that you’ll go with Lillianna and Kanes.” Tahlmus searched her eyes when she stayed silent. He knew what she was thinking. “As long as you have that ring on, I can find you.”
“Ok,” she said. “I promise, but… make sure you come back.”
“I’ll do my best,” he replied kissing her. “Let’s go to the kitchen and get breakfast. Then we will go get Lillianna and Kanes. We have to time this right.”
Coral just nodded and followed Tahlmus. They had some cereal, then found Kanes and Lillianna in Lillianna’s room very much awake.
“We need to start looking in on him now, then,” Lillianna stated after hearing what Tahlmus had to say. Tahlmus nodded as he accepted the blue gemstone pendant that Lillianna held out to him.
Coral just watched as Tahlmus touched the gem, closing his eyes. Soon the gem started to glow, and a wispy smoke substance was swirling in the gem. “What just happened?” she asked as Tahlmus opened his eyes and let go of the gem.
Lillianna looked at Tahlmus. “Go ahead and start,” he said. I’ll explain it to her. She’s going to have to go with you anyway, if this goes south.” Lillianna nodded and closed her eyes as her hand closed around the pendant.
“Tahlmus, what’s going on?” Coral whispered as he pulled her aside.
“Both Mystic’s estate and the palace have draconic magic detection wards, so I can’t go there nor use my magic. Lillianna’s magic isn’t strong enough by itself to use the spells needed.”
Coral thought she was beginning to understand what he was trying to say. She didn’t like it. She realized it also meant that he’d told a white lie about being able to find her if things didn’t go well.
“That pendant contains my magic. Only myself, Kanes, or Lillianna can draw from it or remove the magic from within it. If anyone else tries it will poison them. Lillianna’s magic can go undetected at the estate and the palace. My magic boosts it. It allows her to perform the spells needed, and it allows me to enter undetected.”
“It’s not perfect,” Tahlmus stated. “If she transports more than one person there could be problems result such as the memory loss.”
“And your magic?” Coral asked remembering Tahlmus telling the Sirens his only risk was losing his magic.
“If she draws on it too much, she could end up removing it from the pendant. Lillianna would have my powers with no way for me to get them back.”
“I don’t like this,” Coral stated.
Tahlmus opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t get to say anything. “He’s going to be leaving soon. We need to move now,” Lillianna stated.
“I love you,” Tahlmus whispered before kissing Coral and walking over to Lillianna.
Lillianna handed Tahlmus a ring which he put on, and some handcuffs, then weaved some magic. Tahlmus no longer looked like Tahlmus. He looked like the man Lillianna had seen getting orders to go to the palace to get Mystic’s prisoners. He was also now holding the decree stating that Mystic wished him to get Celestial and Fleur and return them to Mystic’s estate. Two daggers in a sheath appeared on his back.
“Kanes has already spoken to Urytemil. He’s waiting with a horse and a covered cart. You won’t have much time. I’ll keep watch and send Urytemil in if things look like they’ll get too rough.”
Tahlmus nodded and closed his eyes. He felt Lillianna’s magic around him. Once that feeling was gone he opened his eyes. He was standing next to Urytemil along with another man who had a horse and a covered cart.
“Get in quick,” Urytemil said. Tahlmus followed his instructions. “I will try to delay Mystic’s man if I can, but don’t count on it.” Tahlmus nodded and the man got the horse moving.
After Tahlmus disappeared from sight, Lillianna weaved some more magic so that they could all see how things were going. Coral had so many questions as she watched Tahlmus riding in the covered cart. “You can stay and watch,” Lillianna said never taking her eyes off the image of Tahlmus in the cart. “But no matter what happens, do not interfere with what I need to do.” Coral just nodded. She started to feel nauseous.
“He will be ok,” Kanes said softly as he walked over and stood next to Coral. “The ring and the cuffs allow Lillianna to transport them back if something goes wrong. They should prevent any of the possible problems that would otherwise occur.
Coral hugged herself as she nodded in understanding. “How can he look so calm” she wondered as she stared intently at the image Lillianna was monitoring. “Please just come home safely,” she thought to herself over and over as she watched him disembark from the cart.
Celestial and Fleur stayed huddled together as a guard unlocked the cell. Three others entered. “Your transport will be here soon,” the one still at the cell door said. “And don’t get any ideas about trying to run,” he continued. “If you try to escape you’ll simply be killed.” Celestial and Fleur looked at each other as one of the guard that came in shackled their hands together; even if they did try to escape, if one of them got hit the other would be a sitting duck. The guards escorted them out of the palace via a servants’ entrance, then took them to the guard house by the main gate. They didn’t have to wait long before a horse with a covered cart pulled up.
Tahlmus took a deep breath as the cart came to a stop by the guardhouse. This part would take the most time. If he got caught this is where it would happen. He showed the guard the paper Lillianna had given him. “You have good timing,” the guard said as he motioned to someone in the guard house. Seconds later Celestial and Fleur were standing in front of him. “You have your own cuffs for them, I assume,” the guard said.
Tahlmus nodded as he pulled out the specially made cuffs Lillianna had given him. He cuffed Celestial and Fleur together by their free hands while the guard undid the other set of cuffs. He nodded his thanks to the guard then hustled them into the cart. Once they were in, he signaled the driver who started them on their way back towards Mystic’s estate.
Celestial and Fleur looked at him, a hint of fear in their eyes, as they huddled as close to each other as they could. They watched as the man sitting across from them touched the ring he was wearing and close his eyes. Looking at each other they gave thought to trying to escape.
“Tahl… Tahlmus,” Celestial stuttered as she turned back to the man sitting across from them. He now looked like Tahlmus and not the stranger who had picked them up.
“Is it really you?” Fleur asked
“Yes,” Tahlmus replied looking out towards the driver. He saw another cart a little ways off, then felt the ring get warm. He closed his eyes as he touched the ring.
“Mystic’s man is coming. Make sure he can’t see those two,” Lillianna’s voice played in his head.
“You two need to get on the floor.”
“What…?” Celestial started to ask.
“I don’t have time to explain,” Tahlmus said. “Just please get on the floor and out of sight.” Hearing the desperation in his voice they did as he asked. Glancing up they saw Tahlmus hide his face with a bandanna.
“Dammit,” they heard him say a few minutes later, as he removed the bandanna. “Driver, speed up. We didn’t get far enough away from the palace.” The driver snapped the reins and the cart sped up.
“What’s going on?” Celestial asked.
“Can’t you just transport us back?” Fleur asked as they both tried to sit up.
Tahlmus shook his head while staring out at the driver. “I don’t have my magic,” he said as the ring went warm again and he saw Urytemil appear. He focused on the ring as the cart stopped.
“They are closing in on you. Urytemil will transport you now.”
He opened his eyes as Urytemil came to the back of the cart and helped Tahlmus get the girls out. He heard the sound of another cart as they put the backside of the cart back on. Turning he could see Mystic’s horses. They were close; too close.
“Transform,” Tahlmus said.
“What?” Urytemil asked.
“Turn into a dragon, bat me away and fly off with the girls. Mystic’s men will be so focused on you, the driver can get away.” Urytemil opened his mouth to argue. “Just do it,” Tahlmus yelled at him and gave Urytemil a shove.
Urytemil transformed into his dragon form. He grabbed Celestial and Fleur in one talon. Letting out a roar he hit Tahlmus with the other talon, forgetting just how strong he was in his dragon form.
“Tahlmus,” both women yelled as they watched him fly across the field. They wanted to yell again, but Urytemil had spread his wings scaring the horses from the cart they had been on. They started running. The horses of Mystic’s cart reared up on their hind legs also startled. With two powerful flaps Urytemil was up in the air, where he let out another roar. Tahlmus had been right. Mystic’s men were so focused on him that the man he had hired had gotten far enough away that Mystic’s men would not give chase.
Before he flew away he had noticed that Tahlmus had not been moving, and that Mystic’s men were closing in on him. He knew that Lillianna’s magic would keep the men from identifying him, but he couldn’t help but wonder why she hadn’t transported him after he had gotten in the air. “Maybe she wanted to make sure we got away first,” he thought as he continued towards the Tevinter coast. He would speak with her, once he got Celestial and Fleur safely back on Tevinter ground.
What will happen to Tahlmus, find out in Part 17