Urytemil landed near his cave, hidden deep within the forest. He set Celestial and Fleur down before returning to his human form. He would transport them from there, as landing near the school as a dragon would not have gone over very well.
“What’s going on Urytemil?” Celestial asked as he approached them.
“Why didn’t Tahlmus transport us?” Fleur asked.
“Why did he say he didn’t have his magic?” Celestial asked.
Urytemil held his hands up, stopping them from asking anymore questions. “I’m not sure I’m the best one to answer those questions.”
“Answer them anyway,” Fleur said her fear turning to anger.
Urytemil sighed. He weaved some magic, removing the cuffs from their wrists. He then started to explain how the castle was protected; how anyone with draconic magic would unknowingly set off an alarm, which was what happened when Tahlmus had entered Mystic’s estate. Also, any dragon, not that there were many, who was masquerading as a human would be forced back into their dragon form. So as things were neither Urytemil, nor Tahlmus could approach the estate.
Before Celestial and Fleur could ask more questions, Urytemil went on to explain how Tahlmus and Lillianna had spent hours going through old spell books trying to find a way around the draconic magic detection wards. They had found a way, but the possible consequences would have been memory loss for both Celestial and Fleur. The other Sirens had told him to find another way, so they had come up with a different plan.
“None of that really answers our questions,” Celestial stated.
Urytemil sighed again. “Lillianna’s magic could get past the protection wards. Tahlmus’s could not. Lillianna’s magic however was not strong enough to perform all the necessary magic, Tahlmus’s was.” He paused to let that information sink in. “They developed a pendant that can only be used by Tahlmus, Lillianna and Kanes. Tahlmus could focus all his magic into the pendant, and the other two could draw from it.”
“Tahlmus was just a normal person with no magical power.”
“But he knew things,” Fleur said, “his face changed.”
“Let me take you to the estate, then Lillianna can explain everything to you. Tahlmus should be there also, waiting for you.” The two women nodded as Urytemil reached for their hands. They took his and closed their eyes.
Coral watched everything unfold with a growing sense of dread. She couldn’t hear anything Tahlmus was saying, but knew after the way he’d removed the bandanna that he was frustrated. Something wasn’t right. She continued to watch as passively as she could as she watched Tahlmus speak to Urytemil.
“Why isn’t Urytemil transporting them?” she asked taking a step forward as she saw Tahlmus shove Urytemil. Coral also felt Kanes gently take hold of her arm.
“If Urytemil just transported them, the cart driver would be taken prisoner. He’d give everything away. Urytemil paid him for his service not his silence,” Kanes finished as Urytemil transformed into a black dragon. Coral unconsciously took a step back towards Kanes. This made it easier to hold onto her when she tried to run over to Lillianna after watching Urytemil bat Tahlmus across the grass, then leave.
“Why is he leaving?” she cried.
“Tahlmus told him too. It will distract Mystic’s men, so the driver can get away. Then Lillianna can transport him back here,” Kanes said firmly holding Coral in place.
Lillianna started cursing as she stood there watching Tahlmus. He wasn’t moving and Mystic’s men were closing in on him. She had seen the ring come off his finger when Urytemil had hit him. Without the ring she couldn’t transport him.
“James, this man has your face. How is that possible?” one of the men asked as they approached the unknown man.
“I don’t know,” James replied as he knelt next to the unmoving imposter. “There’s no draconic magic involved, we’d feel that.”
“So he can’t be the one Master Mystic is looking for?” James shook his head.
“He’s also not working with the one Master Mystic wants. The black dragon just proved that.” James said. “But with that being the case, it means someone else is trying to find those draconic twins.”
“What do we do?”
“Cuff him,” James said as he stood up. “We will take him back to the estate. Master Mystic will get the information he needs.”
James walked back to their horses and wagon while the others dealt with the imposter. The bracelets they wore alerted them to draconic magic. It was how they avoided the man with the emerald eyes who had tried to delay them. It bothered him that they did not signal anything around the imposter. Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t put his finger on it, and with the man unconscious he couldn’t question him. Master Mystic wasn’t going to be happy, but at least with the imposter in their custody, Master Mystic could get some answers.
As soon as his men had the imposter loaded in the cart, James climbed up on the bench with the driver and they set off back towards Mystic’s estate.
Lillianna, what’s wrong?” Kanes asked a minute later when he noticed she wasn’t doing anything but watching what happened. Lillianna acted like she hadn’t heard him, so he told Coral to stay where she was and he walked over to Lillianna. As he got closer to her, he could hear what she was whispering.
“Get up Tahlmus. Dammit, get up and get the ring.”
“What happened to the ring?” he asked. Lillianna spun around on him, her face a mix of anger, fear and frustration.
“When Urytemil hit him, the ring came off. I can’t transport him.”
Coral felt paralyzed as she heard what Lillianna said. If Lillianna couldn’t transport Tahlmus back, then with Urytemil gone there was no way to stop Mystic’s men from taking Tahlmus. She tried to stay calm by reminding herself that Mystic’s men didn’t see a red headed elf when they looked at Tahlmus. They saw a dark hard middle-aged human man. Coral hadn’t heard anything else that had been said between Lillianna and Kanes, though as she started to feel calm that changed and Kanes words reached her.
“If the magic is going to wear off then let me have the pendant so I can go get him.”
“No, I won’t let you. He said if he was captured we were to leave.”
“Wait,” Coral voiced as she watched the cart start moving. “What do you mean the magic is going to wear off?”
Lillianna growled in frustration. “Tahlmus was wearing a ring. A ring that allowed us to communicate, allowed me to transport him, and it kept my magic hiding his identity in place. Without it he will look like Tahlmus to Mystic’s men in about fifty minutes.”
Coral opened her mouth to say something but Kanes spoke first. “Give me the pendant. Let me go save my brother.”
“No. You can’t. You will get yourself killed those bracelets detect draconic magic.”
“They can only sense the draconic magic,” another voice sounded in the room. “They do not hinder it.”
All eyes turned towards Urytemil who was staring intently at the image of Tahlmus lying in the back of the cart with Mystic’s men.
“What… What’s going on?” Celestial finally asked after noticing what Urytemil was looking at.
“I’d like to know the same thing. Why isn’t Tahlmus back here?” Urytemil asked looking at Lillianna.
Coral took a blanket over to Celestial and Fleur who looked like they were freezing, while Lillianna explained the situation to Urytemil. As she spoke Urytemil tried to start thinking of ways to get Tahlmus out of his current situation. If they got him back to Mystic’s estate, there could be no rescue and Mystic would certainly kill him.
“Give me the pendant and let me go get him,” Kanes demanded. Everyone stared at him. None of them had ever heard Kanes talk the way that he was. He had always been the more timid one.
“No,” Lillianna said. “What if something goes wrong? We won’t know.”
Kanes growled as he turned to look at the image. They were almost to Mystic’s estate. Another few minutes and he wouldn’t be able to get close to them with his magic. “Break the wagon,” he said. Lillianna looked at him with questioning eyes. “Do something to break the wagon. It will buy us more time.”
Lillianna nodded and turned back to the image. She started weaving some magic, and soon they all saw the two wheels on the right side of the cart fall off. The cart tipped and the horses stopped. “Now, give me the pendant so I can go get Tahlmus. Urytemil can supplement your magic so you can watch.” Kanes held out his hand waiting for Lillianna to hand over the pendant.
“Please let him try,” Celestial said as she stood there in between Coral and Fleur, who were nodding in agreement.
“Give him the pendant,” Urytemil said. “Tahlmus won’t make it otherwise.”
Lillianna reluctantly put the pendant in Kanes outstretched hand. “Thank you,” he whispered as Urytemil walked up to Lillianna, putting a hand on her shoulder. She shifted her focus to Urytemil’s magic as Kanes put the pendant around his neck. “I’ll come back, I promise,” he said softly. “Just make sure they can’t fix that cart.” Lillianna nodded and then Kanes disappeared from sight.
“What the hell?” James said as he slid down the bench towards the driver. He heard the driver let out a few choice curse words as he looked back at the cart.
“I told you we were going too fast over that road,” the driver said looking at James. “I hope your men can fix wagon wheels.”
James just rolled his eyes as he hopped off the cart, and walked to the back where his men were trying to reorient themselves from the sudden tipping of the cart. “Everyone out. We got to fix the wheels.”
“What do we do with him?” one of the pen pointed at the unconscious imposter.
“Take him out and set him over there,” James pointed to a spot close to the broken wheels. “We can keep an eye on him while we work.” Then men nodded, and did as James instructed before they went about trying to fix the wheels.
Kanes picked up the ring that Tahlmus had dropped. They didn’t need anyone else happening across it and figuring out what it was. Once the ring was in his pocket he focused on Tahlmus. It was a good feeling to have his spells working properly, but he realized he much preferred Tahlmus being the powerful one. He transported himself to some nearby trees so he could look over the situation. He saw the driver of the cart soothing his horses while Mystic’s men were working on the wheels. He spotted Tahlmus’s body a little ways away from Mystic’s men lying in the grass. Kanes took a deep breath before casting the spell that made him invisible.
Slowly and carefully, he made his way over to Tahlmus, always watching Mystic’s men; watching for any sign that they knew he was there. He made it all the way to Tahlmus and still not one of them turned around. Kanes took Tahlmus’s hand and weaved the spell that transported them back to Lillianna’s room at the estate.
James paused what he was doing. His bracelet was warm signaling the use of draconic magic. He turned around and noticed the imposter was gone. No. No, no, no,” he growled as he rushed over to where the imposter’s body had been laying. His bracelet was still warm with the lingering effects of the draconic magic. “Dammit” he growled as he kicked the ground. “How did someone with draconic magic get so close to them without being detected,” he wondered. This also confirmed the bad feeling he’d had. The imposter wasn’t working for someone else that wanted the draconic twins. It was someone working for the draconic twins.
“What will we tell Master Mystic?” one of his men asked.
James shrugged. “If we are lucky he will already have gotten to the twins through that wench he’d brought back with him.”
“And if he hasn’t?”
“Then be prepared to meet your maker because Master Mystic will be furious.” The men silently went back to work, hoping that it was a long while before Master Mystic decided to come home.
Atargatis was excited to be out of the estate. She had missed being able to wander around. Even Tahlmus hadn’t let her wander too far for fear Mystic would take her. So once the boat docked she convinced Mystic to wander with her through town. She had no destination in mind, and didn’t really wish to look at anything in particular. She just wanted to walk around.
Mystic didn’t mind being pulled along by Atargatis. It reminded him of Kaonna, and how much she had enjoyed just wandering the markets and being around people. When lunch rolled around, he agreed to Atargatis’s idea of a picnic. So they bought some fresh items from the food market, then found a nice quiet spot near the tree line. He enjoyed listening to Atargatis tell him about the class she was helping teach and the other duties she had at the school.
As they finished eating, they both agreed it was time to go to the school’s estate. Mystic assumed that talking to Tahlmus would take a while and he wanted to be back home by a decent time. Atargatis didn’t want to admit it, but she was ready to go back to her own room. A part of her also missed Tahlmus and wished to see him as soon as she was able.
Kanes let out the breath he had been holding when he heard Lillianna’s voice. “I did it,” he thought to himself. “I actually did it.” He removed the pendant and placed it in Tahlmus’s hand before letting Lillianna embrace him. He could feel her trembling. “It’s ok,” he whispered in her hair. “I’m here now.”
While Kanes held Lillianna, Celestial, Coral and Fleur went to Tahlmus’s side. Lillianna’s magic had worn off and he looked like himself again. The women all placed a hand on Tahlmus being careful not to knock the pendant out of his hand. As they did Tahlmus started to stir. He groaned and slowly opened his eyes. As his surroundings came into focus he saw Coral, Celestial and Fleur. “You’re safe,” he whispered starting to smile. “You are all safe.”
“Yes,” Celestial replied as she felt herself start to relax, “and so are you.” Celestial Coral and Fleur all helped him to a sitting position where he pulled them all into a hug.
Urytemil cleared his throat. “I hate to break this up, but Mystic just arrived with Atargatis. They wish to speak with you Tahlmus.”
Tahlmus just sighed letting go of the women and standing up. He felt Urytemil’s magic working on him as he stood. Looking down he noticed that he was in a fresh pair of robes. He could also feel all the dust and grime disappear from his face. It was then he realized he was still holding on to the pendant. “Guess I’ll have to deal with this afterwards,” he said putting the chain around his neck and the pendant under his robes.
“Meet me in my room,” he said to Celestial, Coral and Fleur. “But make sure Mystic doesn’t see you. He doesn’t need to know I have you back.” The women nodded and watched him leave. They waited a few minutes then went to Tahlmus’s room. Along the way Coral filled Celestial and Fleur in on what had been going on. Silence fell over them as she finished and they sat there waiting for Tahlmus.
“He’s probably in his office,” Atargatis said as they entered the estate. Mystic just nodded as he looked around. The charms were still in place. He could not use his magic here.
“Mystic? Atargatis?” A voice sounded in surprise from behind them. Mystic and Atargatis both turned to see Tahlmus standing there. Mystic thought Tahlmus looked good for having had three women he was close to taken from him.
“Tahlmus,” Atargatis squealed and ran over to him. She threw her arms around him in a hug and kissed his cheek. “We came to talk to you,” she said before either Tahlmus or Mystic could say anything.
“Of course,” Tahlmus replied as Atargatis returned to Mystic. “Follow me,” he said walking past them and took them to his office. Once they were all inside, he shut the door and took a seat at his desk. “What did you want to discuss?” Tahlmus asked motioning for them to sit down as well.
“We… uh… What I mean is…” Mystic started stuttering.
“I want to have a relationship with Mystic,” Atargatis said. “I… I was hoping you’d be ok with me maintaining a relationship with both of you,” she finished as she held onto Mystic’s hand and looked into Tahlmus’s eyes.
Tahlmus looked back and forth between Atargatis and Mystic. He had figured this would come eventually. He had seen it in her eyes when he’d delivered the bracelet, but it still took him by surprise. “Is that… is that what you want?” he asked. Atargatis nodded. Tahlmus sat back in his chair. Having Mystic so close to him would be dangerous, but he couldn’t deny Atargatis what she wanted. “If that’s what you want, I’m ok with it,” he replied.
“I’m letting her return to the school so she can teach here,” Mystic said awkwardly. “Is it ok if I visit from time to time?”
Tahlmus tried to maintain his professional demeanor. “As your son is a student here, I would ask that you stay at a place in town. Atargatis can visit you there.”
“That would be best,” Mystic agreed. “I don’t want Solas thinking that I am checking up on him,” his words drifted off.
“Solas has been doing really well,” Tahlmus stated as he realized that even without his magic he could tell what Mystic was thinking. “He will excel in his studies if he stays as dedicated to them as he has been this week.”
“That’s good to hear, thank you.”
“Was there anything else you two wished to discuss?” Both Atargatis and Mystic shook their heads as they stood. Tahlmus shook hands with Mystic and gave Atargatis a hug before they walked out.
“You know this will make you and Kanes easier targets,” a voice sounded behind Tahlmus after the door closed. Tahlmus just nodded. “Then why did you agree to it?”
“Because I love her Urytemil,” Tahlmus replied as he turned around. “And because this needs to end. It may make Kanes and me easier targets, but it keeps me close to Mystic as well.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Urytemil said before he disappeared.
Tahlmus sighed as he took the pendant out of his robes. “I do too,” he whispered as he focused on the pendant, letting his magic flow back into him.
How does it all end? Click here to read the final chapter.