Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Okay, so...


First off, happy late Easter, everyone!


Okay, so here it is...

Today, I'm going to post ODAD Part 2, which I hope you'll enjoy! But hang on; that's not all, so don't get too excited.

I'm not going to post my story anymore before summer.

The thing is, I just can't do it. I have enough going on without this too. We have so many projects due its not even funny. Plus, our exams are coming up, and so is the school play. And you know how I tend to procrastinate? Well, that strategy hasn't been going so well for me (big surprise), and I'm really behind. AND I don't even have time to type because my computer is a slow-running pile of junk with a screen and a keyboard.

I may have time to finish Part 3, which I may post in the future. And I definitely will post here once in a while, but that's it. I'm really sorry, and I'll make up for it in any way I can. I'll go on a huge writing frenzy as soon as I have the time. I will make it a point to finish ODAD over the summer. But now, I just can't.

So here you go. Part 2 of ODAD. Enjoy! :) And I'm really really sorry about everything.

Of Dragons and Drakes
                                                       Part 2
“What did I tell you? It’s gotten worse.”
“Shh! Malistaire, you could wake him!”
Cyrus only barely heard these voices; he wasn’t fully awake yet. The image of the golden-scaled dragon was still imprinted in his mind.
He unconsciously let out a strangled moan that caused whoever was with him to temporarily stop bickering.
“I think he’s waking up.”
“About time. He’s been out for the whole weekend already.”
Cyrus’s eyes fluttered open.
At first, all he saw was a huge blur, as if he had opened his eyes underwater. But soon it began to come into focus. He was lying in bed in a small, bright room that he recognized as part of the hospital. He was still wearing his Marleybone-style dress robes.
He blinked, and the concerned eyes of Sylvia and Malistaire blinked back at him.
“Are you okay?” Sylvia asked.
“I’ve been better,” mumbled Cyrus sarcastically. He saw Malistaire grin behind his hand so Sylvia wouldn’t see.
With a groan, he shakily sat up, using the headboard for support.
“What day is it?”
“Sunday,” said Malistaire. “You were out for two days, almost.”
“What happened, Cyrus?” asked Sylvia. “Nothing like that’s ever happened to you before.”
At this, a warning signal went up in Cyrus’s mind. Should he tell them? Tell them about all the dreams that he’d been having? About the mysterious dragon who had mentioned, in his most recent dream, something about a prophecy..?
“I don’t know,” he lied. “Maybe it was the heat or something. Remind me to never again wear Marleybone robes at a summer graduation.”
He was hoping that this joke would soften them up a little bit. So his heart sank when Malistaire scowled.
“Liar,” he said. “This has something to do with those dreams, doesn’t it? The ones that you’ve been having all year.” When Cyrus didn’t respond, he grinned triumphantly. “See? I knew it! Now tell us the truth.”
“We won’t laugh or anything,” said Sylvia consolingly. “It can’t be that bad.”
Meanwhile, Cyrus was having something like an internal war inside, trying to decide whether to trust them and tell them everything or to refuse.
It’s just Malistaire and Sylvia, he finally told himself. They can keep a secret. Or at least Sylvia can. But Malistaire will find a way to force it out of you anyway, so what the hey.
He took a breath. Here goes.
Just as he was about to tell them, the door to his hospital room opened and two people walked in.
One of them was Merle Ambrose, eyeing Cyrus, even as he walked in, with a mixture of curiosity and concern. Following him was Lorraine Serevina, who was carrying a potion bottle filled to the brim with bubbling, green liquid.
“The healers told me to give this to you,” she said, placing the bottle into Cyrus’s hands. “It’ll help.”
“Thanks, Professor,” he said. He uncorked the bottle and took a sip. It tasted kind of like honey and grapefruit rolled into one.
Professor Serevina smiled. “I’m not your teacher anymore, Cyrus,” she said.
“What? Oh yeah, right—graduation.”
“How are you, Cyrus?” asked Ambrose. “Are you feeling better?”
“I’m doing fine, thank you,” said Cyrus.
“Are you sure? No headache? Nausea? Dizziness?”
“I’m sure,” he replied.
“Good,” said Ambrose. “I’m glad to see that you’re doing all right then.”
At this point, Cyrus hiccupped, and a small, green bubble came out of his mouth.
“Oh, sorry,” said Professor Serevina somewhat sheepishly. “That’s sometimes a side effect of the potion. It’s supposed to help you stay alert for a while, although I don’t think vigorous activity is advisable for the time being.”
“The thing is,” said Ambrose, “we’re trying to figure out what would’ve caused this. Some of the more fragile students are prone to pass out from excess heat.” At this, Malistaire smirked a little. “But I’ve never heard of a case where they remained unconscious for two days straight. So now you see, Cyrus, why it is liable to think that some dark magic may be involved.”
“But now that you’re awake, you might be able to tell us something,” said Professor Serevina. “So if you have any idea what happened that night, we need to know now.”
At this, Cyrus hesitated. Telling Malistaire and Sylvia was one thing, but telling his teachers? Who wouldn’t even be teaching him anymore, he realized. No doubt it would be all over Ravenwood by the time he got out of the hospital.
But then again, he realized, the last thing he would want them to think was that he was involved in some horrific scene of dark magic. And they might actually be able to help him.
So Cyrus cleared his throat and said, “Well, I suppose it all began…maybe two years ago. I had a dream that night. I kept seeing this image of a staff.”
“What did it look like?” asked Ambrose.
“It was black,” said Cyrus. “At least, the wood was. On the top there was a red glass ball. With a dragon curled around it.”
This was the first time he had told this to anyone. Well, once he had mentioned to Malistaire that he had been having the same dream over and over. But never before had he described his dreams to anyone in such detail.
“I kept having those same dreams…well not exactly…but variations, I suppose, every day after that. I didn’t know what it meant, that I kept seeing that staff. And afterwards I saw it on the cover of a history book and found out that it was real.”
“Did you see the staff before?” asked Sylvia.
“No,” he said. “Never.”
“So what happened on Friday, Cyrus?” asked Professor Serevina. “Was it another one of these…dreams?”
“Yeah, I think,” he said. “Only this one was different. I was at a range of mountains. And there was a dragon. It mentioned something about a prophecy.”
“Is that all?” asked Ambrose.
“That’s it,” said Cyrus.
Ambrose gave him a long stare, as if he were pondering an answer.
At last he spoke. “I know you’re very confused about this, Cyrus, and I know how you feel. I myself can’t comprehend this.”
“You mean you don’t know what this is all about?” Cyrus asked, his heart sinking. He had been hoping that by telling Ambrose, he’d be able to get some answers.
“No,” said Ambrose. “But I will talk to the other members of the staff; maybe they know slightly more about this than I. And I will come to you as soon as we find something out.”
Then he leaned over the bed. “And I will say this,” he said. “You said something about a prophecy? You might want to go to Bartleby about that…”
“I’ll tell the healers you’re all set to go,” said Professor Serevina. “You do seem well enough, after all.”
With a final nod from each of them, they exited the room.

It felt a little weird, Malistaire thought, to be wandering around the school after graduation. He looked around a little uneasily. Although he had called this place home for the last eight years or so, he still felt like an outsider, someone who didn’t belong.
Strange, he thought he’d never have to come back to this place again. Ever. That was why he had worked so hard to pass the exams. As if he would want to stay here yet another year, trapped learning the same things over and over. He wanted to get out, to see the world. At eighteen, he should be able to do all that.
But he had to admit, he was a little curious. After years of flatly refusing him anything, Cyrus had finally come clean and told them what his dreams were all about.  He too wanted to help Cyrus and get to the bottom of this mystery. Even if the answers were waiting to be found at his old school.
A lot of the students that they passed were giving Cyrus quizzical looks, like, Weren’t you the one who fainted? But Cyrus appeared to be ignoring them. This kind of impressed Malistaire, as he would’ve probably shouted at them or something.
As they walked down the pathway, they passed Mr. Reagan giving a group of new students a tour of the grounds. They were all nervously looking around, perhaps feeling swallowed up by the enormous scenery or wondering frantically which school they would be placed in. How did he know this? That had been him ten years ago. He still could identify the signs.
“They’re so cute,” Sylvia murmured in his ear. “Do you remember when that was us there?”
“Yeah,” Malistaire muttered back. “But I still can’t believe we were that small when we started out.”
“—our Ravenwood graduation, you know,” Mr. Reagan was saying. “It was just this Friday. And speaking of, here are three of our graduates right now. Boys and girls, I’d like to introduce you to Malistaire and Cyrus Drake, and Sylvia Liferiver. What are you three still doing here, by the way?”
“School business, Sir,” said Cyrus, shrugging. “Just a few more loose ends to tidy up. Then we’ll be on our way.”
“Naturally,” Mr. Reagan agreed. “I was just telling these new students about our historic landscape. Would you care to join us for a few moments?”
“Well…” Cyrus began, but Mr. Reagan took no notice.
“Come along, then, all of you,” he said, taking flight above the heads of the students. “Now, I assume you all know about Bartleby. Aside from being the largest talking tree in the entire Spiral, his roots dig deep into Wizard City and hold the entire island together. Keep it from crumbling apart, see.”
They approached the great tree, some of the new students pointing or giving awe filled gasps. Bartleby was asleep at the moment, snoring gently.
Cyrus frowned, and Malistaire knew that he was thinking about how he wouldn’t be able to ask him about the mysterious prophecy.
“Now, both of Bartleby’s eyes have magical properties. Perhaps you can tell everyone what they are, Mister Drake,” he said, looking at Malistaire.
“Uhh…” Malistaire looked around, seeing the new students looking expectantly up at him. “Well, one’s… the Eye of History, right? It lets him remember things that happened in the past. Sometimes times he’s never been in.” He racked his brains, trying to remember. Why couldn’t he have asked Cyrus instead?  “The other one is the Eye of…Future? Yeah? Well, that enables him to predict things. To tell the future.”
“Very good,” said Mr. Reagan, smiling. “Bartleby’s roots have magical properties too, you know. Do you know their purposes too?”
“Uh…well…” Truth be told, Malistaire didn’t know. He didn’t waste time learning the things that he thought he wouldn’t need to know.
Mr. Reagan gave him a rather stern look, he thought. (It was difficult to read the expressions of a pelican.) “Very well. Cyrus, do you know?”
“Certainly,” he said smoothly. “Bartleby has four main roots, and each one has a different purpose.
“The first one is the root of nature. It preserves all of the nature in Wizard City and keeps every single plant healthy and beautiful. It also can grant nature magical properties, such as giving the school trees the ability to talk.
“The next one,” he went on, “is the root of the Spiral. It’s what keeps Wizard City afloat in the Spiral. Without it, we’d probably flip over or veer out of control. At best.
“The next root is the root of dreams. It keeps the hopes and dreams of every single person alive because without dreams, there would be no possibilities.
“The last one,” he said, his voice starting to take on a slight tremor, “is the root of prophecies.”
Both Malistaire and Sylvia turned to look at him.
“Indeed,” said Mr. Reagan. “And what is its purpose?”
“It’s said,” said Cyrus, “to contain the secrets to every prophecy ever made. It makes sure they are carried out at the prepared time.”
Mr. Reagan gave a satisfied nod.
“There is also a legend about the root of prophecies,” he explained to the students. “Would you care to tell them, Cyrus?”
“I would, but I’m afraid I don’t know what it is,” Cyrus admitted. Only rarely was he able to say that.
“Really, then?” inquired Mr. Reagan. “Then I will. Now, let’s see…the root of prophecies...
“Legend has it that if you follow the main root all the way to the end, it will lead you to an ancient room far beyond the realm of imagination. This place, being connected to the root of prophecies, contains the secrets to every prophecy ever made. Past, present, and future.”
Malistaire, Cyrus, and Sylvia exchanged a look.
“How many are there?” asked a small ten year old girl.
“Thousands. No, millions,” Mr. Reagan said dramatically. The crowd of students gasped in awe. “And more are still being added. It gets larger every passing week.”
“Have you ever been there?” This question came from a tall, fair-haired boy in the first row of students.
“Been there? Goodness no,” said Mr. Reagan. “Only a legend, my boy. A myth.”
Malistaire’s heart sank at this. But then again, what did Mr. Reagan know about myths anyway? That was more Cyrus’s turf.
This room could be real.
“Which way does the root go?” he asked innocently.
It was Cyrus who answered. “They run in the four main cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. The root of prophecies, I believe, goes west.”
“Quite right,” said Mr. Reagan. “And thank you three for helping us out today. If you would care to join us, we were just getting to the School of Life right now…”
But they were gone even before Mr. Reagan had spoken. Heading west.

It was harder than one might think to follow a tree root, Malistaire thought. Their only clues were their gut instinct of which way was west and an occasional bulge in the stone pavement. In fact, he didn’t know what they would’ve done if Sylvia hadn’t been there. As a life wizard, Sylvia was intuitive to nature, and she would know if they were on the right track.
“Where to now?” Cyrus asked Sylvia. In response, she closed her eyes and ran her toe along a stray crack in the sidewalk.
“That way,” she said, pointing down the road. “It’s in Golem Court. Come on!”
Together, the threesome dashed down the road, their shoes slapping on the cobblestone tiles as they ran. Several curious student heads turned their way, but after a quick glance, didn’t feel the need to inquire them.
They approached the end of the tunnel and, as one, skidded to a halt when they reached the courtyard.
“Okay…what now?” Cyrus wondered aloud.
Hmm…Malistaire thought, also looking about his surroundings. There had to be a secret entrance or and underground tunnel…or something.
Then his eyes fell on the tower before him. And he grinned.
“Maybe this secret room’s in Golem Tower,” he said eagerly. Already he was getting excited, picturing going inside right now. He hadn’t been in there for ages, but he was sure it would be easy to defeat the clockwork golems inside. He had a sudden vision of the scarecrow spell he had just learned and smiled; those puppets wouldn’t stand a chance.
It was Sylvia, however, who shattered his plans of total golem domination. “I don’t think so, Mal. Look.” She pointed to a spot somewhere to the right of the tower, and Malistaire followed her gaze.
Sylvia was pointing at a tree root, one that had actually broken free of the ground, and after a graceful arc, sank back down again. It was aimed towards Dragon’s Mouth Cave.
“Oh,” said Malistaire, disappointed. Cyrus, however, strode right up to the shattered gate and ran his hand along the remains. He wasn’t…exactly...smiling. He just looked…serene, maybe? At ease?
“This is it,” he said. “I don’t know how I…I just feel a connection somehow. I mean…I don’t expect you to…”
Cyrus looked down, somewhat ashamed. Sylvia then walked up to him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“I know.”
Malistaire stepped forward. Then, before he could stop himself, he said, “I feel it too.”
It was indescribable: this strange but powerful link that once had no meaning to him whatsoever, save a few years back when he went in for about thirty seconds to pluck a fire crystal and then left.
“I’m almost afraid to go in,” Cyrus admitted suddenly. “I mean—there could be anything behind that gate. Anything. And if it’s something bad…”
“What are you talking about?” Malistaire blurted. “This is what you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it? You’ve been having these dreams for months! Months! And now you finally get to figure out what this is all about!”
Cyrus bit his lower lip. Malistaire could tell that he knew he was right.
“We’ll go in together,” Sylvia comforted. “Mal and I will be right behind you, Cyrus.”
Cyrus nodded. Taking a deep breath, he stepped inside.
Malistaire didn’t know what he expected, stepping into the cave behind Cyrus. Maybe for a glittering staff to somehow fall out of the sky. For the cave to undergo a sudden, glittering transformation into the secret room Cyrus and Mr. Reagan were talking about. For a huge, powerful boss monster to appear or something.
But as Malistaire stepped into the cave, his first thought was, I’ve seen this before. A small, stone-walled cave met his eyes, speckled with red crystals that peered out from behind brown slabs of rock. Nothing magical or exciting.
His second thought was, This is boring.
“Well…” he began, but Cyrus spoke at the same time. “Nothing.”
Cyrus wandered around for a little bit, fingering the cold rough surface of the cavern wall. When he had traveled almost half the entire perimeter, he sank to his knees.
“I thought…”
“Don’t give up now,” Sylvia consoled. “It can’t be just as easy as walking in and having something handed to you on a silver platter. Right?”
Cyrus looked up at her, giving a sort of half smile. But there was an ashamed pink tinge to his cheeks.
“Yeah, you’re right,” he confessed. “Sorry, guys, I was just being stupid.”
Dang right you were, thought Malistaire. But he didn’t say anything.
“Here, let’s split up,” Cyrus suggested, standing up. “See if we can find anything…unusual.”
“Roger that,” said Malistaire cheerfully, joining Sylvia at the nearest cave wall. Cyrus, meanwhile, wandered toward the center of the cave, alternatively looking towards the ceiling, then down at the floor.
Staring absentmindedly at Sylvia, Malistaire gave a loud, somewhat obnoxious sigh and leaned against the rock. Sylvia, who was running her hands up and down the stretch of wall, scowled at him.
“Will you get off your butt and help, please?” said Sylvia. “Search around the wall or something; I don’t know. This is for your brother, you know.”
Instead, Mal was seized by a sudden stroke of genius. He reached up and plucked the nearest fire crystal from its crevice in the wall. Then he handed it out to Sylvia.
“For you, my love,” he said with a flourish.
Sylvia gave a small little smirk as she took the crystal from him. “How…thoughtful, Mal.”
Although sarcastic was her tone, she still felt the need to give him a small peck on the cheek before she withdrew. Apparently, all was forgiven.
Meanwhile, Cyrus was in a squat position, staring at something on the floor. He frowned, scratched his head a bit, paused to roll his eyes at Malistaire and Sylvia, and then again stared back at the floor.
At last, Malistaire couldn’t take it anymore. “What’chya looking at, Cy?”
“This,” he said, beckoning for them to join.
Curiosity winning them both over, both Malistaire and Sylvia walked over to see what he was looking at.
“See?” he said, pointing at something imbedded in the gray stone. Close to the cave wall was a flat, hexagonal stone with an orange fire symbol etched upon it.
Malistaire could sort of see where Cyrus was coming from on this. The light brown tablet and the orange fire symbol stood out boldly against the floor. But still…
“I don’t see anything particularly special about it, Malistaire sniffed. I mean thing’s always been there, hasn’t it?”
“Yes it has,” said Cyrus. “And we’ve both seen it before. But there’s something else too.”
He then proceeded to kneel down, blowing stray dust away from both sides of the tablet. After a few more wipes with his hand, both Malistaire and Sylvia could just barely see the thin line protruding from either side of the stone, disappearing into the wall on both ends.
“Wow,” said Malistaire dryly. “I’m really impressed now.”
As Cyrus shot him a look, Sylvia traced the line with the toe of her boot, her eyes following the slight curve of the line with growing interest.
“It looks as though it could be part of a circle, Sylvia mused. She looked at Cyrus. “So are you saying that this secret room..?”
“...is in the middle of the circle,” Cyrus finished. “Well, it does make sense. Think of all a circle represents: life, magic, existence...when you think about it, time prophecies...they should be at the very center...” he trailed off, deep in thought.
“You know,” interrupted Malistaire loudly, “that I hate to interrupt a genius at work. But...there happens to be a wall in the middle of the circle.”
“I know,” said Cyrus impatiently. “I’m working on that.”
Almost instinctively, he carefully placed his fingers around the edges of the tablet and made to rip it from the ground.
“No use,” he announced after a few seconds of work. “It’s cemented in.”
At this, Sylvia went over to stand by the wall. She paused to look at it a few seconds. She tugged her earlobe in thought, a cute habit of hers that she never got around to breaking. Then she reached out and lightly tapped the wall with her fist.
“It’s hollow,” she said, surprised.
“Really? Let me try.” Cyrus walked over beside her and knocked on the wall precisely where her fingers had touched it before. “It feels solid to me.”
“Trust me,” Sylvia insisted. “There’s definitely something behind there.”
“Hmm,” said Malistaire thoughtfully. That’s when a brilliant idea grabbed hold of him. He reached into the pocket of his robes and withdrew his spell deck.
Unfortunately, Cyrus saw where this was going at once.
“Don’t be an idiot, Malistaire,” he said irritably. “We can’t just use magic to knock down a wall. School property, no less!”
“Who says?” said Malistaire slyly, thumbing through the cards in his deck. It took a while, but he finally found what he was looking for: a helephant card. “I’m doing this to help you Cyrus. And you know what? I say we’ve got nothing to lose.”
“A helephant?” said Sylvia, seeing the card. “In here? Mal, you’re insane! It’ll destroy the cave!”
Malistaire started to trace the fire symbol into the air. “Relax guys. I can control it now. I’ve gotten way better since last time; watch.”
“Fine,” said Cyrus, crossing his arms. “Your funeral, then.”
Malistaire didn’t care the slightest. Why should he? He could control it. It wasn’t like they were in any danger of it going crazy.
He waved his wand and activated the symbol.
A deep rumbling sounded throughout the cave. Both Cyrus and Sylvia launched themselves out of the way as a circle of flames appeared in the center of the floor. There was a loud trumpeting, and a huge creature was born from its depths, so large that its head scraped the ceiling.
Maybe Cyrus and Sylvia did have a point, he thought as a spider web of cracks appeared on the ceiling. The thing was enormous; it took up maybe about half the cave’s area.
But there was no turning back now, Malistaire reasoned. He cleared his throat and faced his creation, which stood frozen in a battle stance, as if awaiting an order.
“Um...er...hi,” said Malistaire. He had never given orders to a helephant other than “attack” before, but how hard could it be? “See what you can do about that wall over there, will you?” He pointed at the said wall so as to not be misunderstood. “Uh...thanks.”
He waved his wand.
The helephant sprang to life, stomping its gigantic feet continuously on the ground, trumpeting into the air, and swinging its fiery sword left and right. Small chunks of debris rained down from the ceiling as the enormous creature lumbered over to the wall. Once it had reached its designated spot, it slowly turned its head around to look at Malistaire, as if to say, You ready?
“Go ahead,” said Malistaire calmly. Sylvia covered her eyes.
The helephant charged.
It was chaotic. Blow after blow the helephant issued upon the wall, becoming increasingly frustrated when it wouldn’t give. A small explosion sounded each time it swung the sword, and the three of them could hear students screaming in between. More cracks appeared in the ceiling.
The helephant gave a final wail of rage. It started to glow bright orange, bright tongues of flame and shining embers beginning to seep from its nostrils. Fire eagerly spewed from its sword as if itching for the flame to catch.
Then, with a tremendous effort, the helephant stampeded forward and collided with the wall.
A colossal explosion threw Malistaire, Cyrus and Sylvia up against the far wall. They struggled to get up, but and endless round of heat waves kept forcing them back. The helephant was gone; in its place was a cloud of smoke and dust that looked almost thick enough to be solid. And a deep rumbling sound that seemed to come from within the walls.
Okay...thought Malistaire, ...maybe they did have a point...
“Nice job, Malistaire,” Cyrus shouted above the din. “Now the whole cave’s coming down!”
“Okay, I admit it, you were right,” said Malistaire grouchily. “Happy now?”
“Not particularly.”
“Stop it, you two!” Sylvia shrieked. Come to think of it, it was a miracle that she managed to make herself heard. “In case you haven’t noticed or something, we’re going to be crushed unless we don’t so something!”
At that particular moment, a chunk of ceiling almost directly above their heads decided to rip itself from the other pieces of neighboring rock. It started falling.
“Scatter!” yelled Cyrus.
The three of them dove in different directions, the slab of rock smashing down precisely between them.
When Malistaire next looked up, Cyrus was tracing the Myth symbol into the air. Seconds later, a minotaur appeared, equipped with a giant axe. Back and forth the axe swung, shattering the giant boulders to splinters
There was a small whimper. It had come from him. When was the last time a sound like that had escaped his lips? He neither knew nor cared at the moment. Instead he pressed himself up against the nearest wall and closed his eyes, trying not to think too much about but always somehow coming back to death.
Weird how fast one could go from cool and confident to scared out of their mind if their death was falling from the sky.
He could hear Sylvia’s screams. Cyrus’s yells. The grunts and wails of the minotaur, which he wasn’t sure if it was doing more harm or good.
He opened his eyes, just barely wider than the width of pine needles.
Cyrus was there, brushing a layer of dust off himself. A slight movement out of the corner of his eye told him that Sylvia was pushing herself out of a pile of rocks and other debris.
He ran across the room, withdrawing his deck.
A slight moan came from inside the pile. “No more spells, Mal. Please.”
“Right,” Mal agreed. He then proceeded to shift through the pile, throwing rock after rock against the wall, until Sylvia was clearly visible.
“Oh, Mal...”
She threw herself into his arms and sobbed into his shoulder, and Malistaire gently patted her hair. “Shh...it’s okay...”
“I thought...”
She stopped. Cyrus had just approached them.
Nothing came out of his mouth. No words of resentment. No acknowledgments to how they could’ve all been killed. Not even threats to tell everyone how Malistaire had cowered against the wall.
Sometimes, a simple gesture can be more affective than any of these. And that’s exactly what Cyrus did. With a simple point in the right direction, he caused both Malistaire and Sylvia to stop what they were doing. To stare at him in agreement. To follow him to where he was leading them.
For Cyrus Drake had just pointed out a crack in the wall. A small one, one that a person could barely fit through.
And, in silence, the three of them went to discover the secrets that had, thus far, remained hidden form them.

She tried to open her eyes...only to discover that they were opened already.
Huh, she thought. That’s weird.
“No one move,” she said nervously. “Otherwise—”
“Cyrus, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” came his voice somewhere to her left. “I just tripped, that’s all.”
“Over my foot,” Malistaire grumbled.
“Well, I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault I can’t see...”
“Oh, this is stupid,” said Malistaire. “I’ll just cast flare, and then...”
Both Cyrus and Sylvia shouted, “NO!” at the same time.
“There’s got to be another way...a light or something,” Sylvia hastily explained. Invisible footsteps came from in front of her, and she jumped. “Lord, that’s creepy.”
“Relax, it’s just me,” said Cyrus. “I’m going to see if I can find a light source somewhere.”
A sudden realization struck Sylvia: they might not be alone. Someone or something could be among them at this very minute and they wouldn’t be able to tell. The thought sent chills up her spine.
As if I wasn’t paranoid enough when I walked in, she thought.
“That’s funny,” said Malistaire softly.
“What is?” Sylvia asked.
“Look behind you,” was all he said.
Sylvia looked. “I don’t see anything.”
“Exactly,” said Malistaire. “Where’s the light coming in from the tunnel? We should be able to see an outline of the crack, at least.”
“Hey guys!” Cyrus called to them. “I think I found something.”
“That’s great!” said Sylvia. “Except...where are you?”
“Just follow the sound of my voice.”
Seconds later, Sylvia heard Malistaire’s footsteps beside her, and then a small thud.
“There’s a wall in front of you, genius,” Malistaire grumbled, his voice slightly muffled.
“Then go around it,” said Cyrus impatiently.
Sylvia took a deep breath. Then, feeling like a blind person, she put her arms out in front of her and started to walk forward. Her hands found a wall as she walked, so she felt around it and walked on.
She rounded what she thought was a corner; then she looked ahead.
“Wow,” she breathed, seeing what Cyrus had pointed out.
There, right before their eyes, was the only light source in the room. It was small, and in the shape of the ice school’s own snowflake. Behind the tiny, precise, wooden crystals, Sylvia could see sunlight on the other side. But the snowflake shaped hole cast no light around the area, which an ordinary skylight should have. They couldn’t see anything beyond it; the light was simply there, as a light.
Sylvia stood up on tiptoe and peered through the hole in the wall. But since she had seen nothing but darkness for the past few minutes, the sunlight temporarily blinded her, and she was unable to see what lay outside.
“There’s a door!” Cyrus exclaimed suddenly.
“Feel around here—there’s a crack in the wall,” he explained. “It has to be a door, and it’ll lead us somewhere.”
Sylvia reached out to touch the wall only to leap back with a yelp of surprise. “Yikes! It’s freezing cold!”
“Forgot to mention that, didn’t you, Cy?” asked Malistaire smugly.
Instead of a snappy retort, they heard Cyrus muttering: “There’s got to be a way to open it somehow...wait. Here’s something...I think this may be...”
There was a click, and a door seemed to materialize out of thin air  and swing open right before their eyes, striking all of them with the first sunlight they’d seen in what felt like hours.
All three of them let out a gasp and, as a reflex, squeezed their eyes shut at once. But although Malistaire and Cyrus, who had adjusted to the pressing darkness far too quickly, took much longer to recover, Sylvia was much more used to brighter places. After about two seconds, she chanced to open her eyes a crack. A few more seconds later, her eyes were wide open, and she was stepping out into the world before her.
“What the—” she paused as a cold blast of wind hit her, and as she heard the familiar crunch of snow. She was in Colossus Boulevard.
She glanced behind her. Her gaze wandered past Malistaire and Cyrus, who were struggling to open their eyes past a squint, and locked onto the door from which she had just come. She appeared to have emerged from a giant glacier.
Sylvia turned back around, trying to get a better glimpse at her surroundings. Having rarely been to Colossus Boulevard—cold weather didn’t really suit her—it took Sylvia a while to figure out exactly where she was. Most of what she could see was obstructed by a huge tower, but...yes. There was the tunnel to the Shopping District. She couldn’t be too far from Ravenwood.
She took another step forward, and her foot touched something that wasn’t snow. She looked down.
Her toe was touching a large flat stone, hexagonal in shape. It looked just like the one in Dragon’s Mouth Cave.
Except...she realized as she bent down to brush snow off it...this one didn’t have the fire symbol on it. It was a beautiful, detailed snowflake, the symbol of the Ice school. Other than that, everything was the same: the shape, the size, even the line protruding from both ends.
“A circle...” she breathed, swiping snow and dirt away from the indention of the line with her finger. What did it mean? What did it stand for? What other places did it connect?
She turned around.
Sunlight appeared to have broken into the cavern at last. All three of them watched as, in slow motion, a stream of sunlight crossed the room, lighting up a path as it went. At last, it hit the opposite wall, or rather, a torch on the opposite wall. And as the sun hit it, it ignited. This seemed to set off a chain reaction. Torch after torch burst into flame, illuminating the room once bathed in darkness.
And what a room they were in! They appeared to be among a maze of stone walls, minus the glacier they had just emerged from. Each wall had a picture on it, a beautiful colorful picture, more entrancing then what she had seen in any book. She could stand here for hours and just look  at them all...
“What is this place?” she asked, almost to herself.
But someone answered her. Not Malistaire or Cyrus, but a different voice. Who did answer her was a mystery; she couldn’t see anyone besides the three of them. All she knew was that the voice was deep and masculine, and that it seemed to come from within the walls themselves.
Welcome to the Hall of the Prophecy.

Sylvia soon figured out that it became very easy to forget Cyrus’s motive for being in there.
As soon as they could see clearly, Cyrus had started giving orders, something that came naturally to him. “Let’s split up,” he said. “The staff that I saw was black with a red glass ball and a golden dragon curled around it. Look for anything similar to that. Then we’ll be on our way.”
But Malistaire and Sylvia soon became distracted by all the other pictures on the walls. It was hard to look for any one thing when there were so many other places to turn. Although Cyrus repeatedly reminded them to stay on task, they often found their eyes and minds running elsewhere.
“Find anything yet?” came Cyrus’s voice, yet again, from behind the corner. But Malistaire and Sylvia barely heard him, or else dismissed his voice. They were looking at one of the more elaborate pictures on the wall. It was five people on a dueling circle: one man facing four young children, three girls and a little boy. And it may have just been her but the man on the opposite side seemed really...menacing and evil and...strangely familiar...
She tugged on her left earlobe in thought—when would she learn to stop doing that? “I don’t know how, but it feels like I know that guy from somewhere.”
“Really?” Malistaire studied the picture some more and snorted. “I don’t know what you mean. Crazy maniac. Who does he think he his, attacking a bunch of kids? Anyway, we’ve got to keep looking.”
Sylvia nodded, crossing over to the opposite wall.
It wasn’t long before she felt a slight tug at her consciousness. She turned her head and the pull got stronger. It was...almost like she was being drawn to someplace...
She walked along the wall, but all she could see were seven large rectangles that reached from ceiling to floor, each one a different color.
Only they weren’t rectangles, she realized. They were lists! Each was embroidered in its own color...in a school color! Red, blue, purple, brown, yellow, green, and black.
She walked over to the green one, feeling pulled toward life’s color. Then she picked a random place on the list and started reading down.
Esmee Cypress
Autumn Mongala
They’re names, Sylvia thought. She read more:
Emily Moonstone
Amy Starfriend
Irene Serevina
Perhaps a relation of Lorraine’s, she pondered. She’d have to ask her.
Sylvia Liferiver
Sarah Spiritheart
What the—?
Her eyes snapped back up the list.
Sylvia Liferiver
No matter how many times she read it, it still didn’t make sense. What would her name be doing up here? What was it supposed to mean?
She looked up and down the list of names for any explanation, but there were none. All she found was a symbol in the bottom right-hand corner: the life leaf intertwined with a heart.
She frowned. “Mal? Can you come over here for a second?”
“What is it?”
He was cut off by Cyrus’s exited yell: “Malistaire! Sylvia! Over here! I found it!”

He smiled as Malistaire and Sylvia came running over to join him. This was it!
“What is it? What did you—” Malistaire stopped, seeing the picture of the staff on the wall, just where Cyrus had pointed out. Under the staff were these words:
Forged by the masters
So nears the hour
For the chosen necromancer
To wield the staff’s true power
“Chosen necromancer...” Sylvia murmured. “Cyrus, do you know what this means?”
He nodded. “It’s me.” A grin was spreading slowly across his face. “Isn’t it amazing? It’s me! Me! I never could have imagined this!”
Malistaire let out a whistle and patted him on the back. “Congratulations, Cyrus.” He looked back up at the wall. “I guess you get that staff then, huh? Very nice. Looks like it could deal about a hundred fifty death damage at least.”
“Really?” Cyrus mused. A sort of excited glee was rising up inside of him, a realization that he, out of all people, was chosen to be a part of this. A world of possibilities was right there at his fingertips, most of which were seeming to end with his name in a history book somewhere.
“Absolutely,” Malistaire replied. “Only...where is this powerful weapon of yours?”
Cyrus’s heart sank. Leave it to Malistaire to ruin a perfectly joyful moment.
“I don’t know.”
“Exactly,” said Malistaire. “So why get your hopes up about this staff if you can’t even—”
“Wait a second,” said Sylvia. “What about your vision the night of graduation? Did that tell you anything?”
“Wait—yeah! It did!” Hope was beginning to well up inside him again as he struggled to remember.  “I was on...a mountain, and it was huge! Thousands of feet high! And...” he suddenly remembered, “...there was lava everywhere! I was in Dragonspyre!”
“A mountain in Dragonspyre?”
Sylvia’s and Cyrus’s eyes lit up at the same time.
“Pereputual Peak!”
“Per—what?” asked Malistaire, a bit slow on the uptake. But neither of them noticed. As if he had ever paid attention to History of Magic anyway.
“That’s it!” exclaimed Cyrus. “It’s on Pereputual Peak!” He reached into his knapsack and pulled out his map of Dragonspyre. He then pointed to an island off the coast, not to far from the Basilica. “That’s where I need to go.”
“But Pereputual Peak is the tallest mountain in the Spiral,” said Sylvia. “It’ll be dangerous. You know that.”
Cyrus nodded. It would take days of preparation for the journey. And even with all the food and supplies they needed, there were still all sorts of dangerous creatures to be dealt with: hags, ghosts, draconians. Sylvia was right: it would be very dangerous.
“I know,” he said. “But it’s something I have to do.”
“Then we’re coming with you,” said Sylvia.
Cyrus hesitated. As much as he admitted he might need them, this was something that he felt he just may need to do alone.
“Don’t be a moron,” said Malistaire. “You wouldn’t last a day out there without us. And  you wouldn’t believe how boring it is stuck up in that school for eight years. Helephant, I’m ready for some fun.”
Cyrus cracked a smile.
“All right,” he said. “Let’s go pack.”

As Cyrus, Sylvia, and Malistaire exited through the passage to Colossus Boulevard, the writing on the wall which they had been looking at changed.
It was instantaneous: one minute there was the prophecy, the next, blood red letters dripped down the wall to take their place.
On one last note beware
Of the assumptions you make
They can bring danger
And in themselves control fate

They will cause a great change
Unless you are protected
With open minds and hearts
And expect the unexpected
If, perhaps, they had stayed long enough to see this, they might have been able to save themselves from what was to come.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coincidence Much?

Okay this is going to be a short one, but the STRANGEST thing happened to me yesterday.

I normally don't do this very often, but in the case of my W101 story, a fair few characters are based off people I know irl. Obviously, myself and my siblings are featured in it, but there are others too.

I actually based Professor Serevina in ODAD off of someone I know. Not totally, but similarly. Anyways, you're never going to guess what happened. Yesterday I found out that the person's MOM has the same name I gave her character - Lorraine! Isn't that weird?

It's times like these when I just love irony. I was shocked when I found out, but then I was also strangely happy that it worked out that way.

Anyways, just a cool little experience that I thought you'd enjoy. The world works in mysterious ways sometimes, and this just happened to be one of those times. :)

Sarah 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Short Story

Okay, since you all (or two anyway) wanted to see it, here it is. Like I predicted, I was too lazy to W101-ify it; plus it just wasn't working out.

BUT there is a small hint in there about what will eventually happen in ODAD. (Hint: MYTH! MYTH!) It's subtle, but it will become clear by part...6, maybe? (What part am I on now? Still 3? Good lord.)

I still have my doubts since it's not W101, but this IS a creative writing blog too...oh, and keep in mind that even though I had my heart set on going over the limit, I didn't want to go too far over the limit. So I know that it could be a whole lot more detailed. It's not my best, but considering it was for school...
Sarah S.

A Second Look
The blonde woman pressed herself farther up against the door of her silver car. She couldn’t believe they had actually found her again.
She paused, counting footsteps. “Six,” she said to herself. There were definitely at least six of them.
“Gabbana Rosemerin, please exit the vehicle,” she heard one of them say.
Gabbana rolled her eyes. Only a cop would say something that stupid.
Then she heard the voice of a small child. “We’re going to catch her, right?”
She frowned. They had brought an apprentice here?
When they reached a certain age, children could apply for apprenticeships to select jobs. But why would they bring one here of all places?
Once again, the stupidity of the so-called protectors of the city astounded her.
A sigh escaped her ruby-red lips. When she got out of this mess, she swore she would strangle Piers. He should’ve been here ages ago with reinforcements. Some partner he was turning out to be.
“Show yourself!”
Gabbana smirked. This time she couldn’t resist. “So? Which do you want me to do?”
“Just come out where we can see you,” one of them barked. “And no funny business.”
Gabbana slowly began to rise, fingering the small, cold object in her coat pocket. Fortunately for them, showing herself was part of the plan.
Unfortunately for them, freezing wasn’t.
At the last second she turned lightning-quick and pulled the handgun from her pocket. She fired two shots, and faceless cronies one and two were lying on he ground, dead or else close. The other four policemen fired at her, but in their panic, they missed. She fired two more shots, knowing that the cops would scatter to avoid getting hit. And that was enough; there was no need to kill them all.
Taking advantage of their split second hesitation, she slipped through the car door, started the engine, and slammed down on the gas.
As she sped out of the alley, she glanced in the rear view mirror, scanning the area for any guns pointed her way. All she saw was a small boy no more than ten with messy, brown hair and very pale, blue eyes. Although he had gone very white, he hadn’t screamed or cried once since Gabbana had emerged from the car. The kid might make a fine cop someday.
Of course, she didn’t shoot him. Even she wouldn’t stoop as low as to kill a child.
Once she was sure she was far enough away from the scene, she slowed down to normal speed. Speeding cars, she had learned earlier on, were far too conspicuous. If they found her, though, she would speed up again.
She drove farther up the street, calculating a route that would take her to the Mellenia Bridge. Once across, there was a road that would take her to a certain point of the highway that was so crisscrossed with interconnecting roads that she was certain that no policeman would be able to trace her. Once there, she was safe.
Out of habit, she slowed a bit and drove as casually as she could through the normally crowded town square, although it was completely deserted now at half-past midnight. As she passed the central notice board, the papers rustled in the slight breeze. One of them fell free of its thumbtack and fluttered to the ground, lying face up for all to see.
It was a wanted poster. On it was a pale woman with white-blonde hair. Her face was twisted into an angry scowl. Below her picture were these words:
Gabbana Rosemerin
Wanted for theft, murder, and terrorization of the public
Extremely dangerous: If sighted, do not attempt to reason. Call the authorities straightaway.
$20,000 reward for capture
Overall, it was a face that didn’t belong on a wanted poster. In addition to being dazzlingly beautiful, she also had electric purple eyes and a large mole below the corner of her lip. Her defining mark was also more unusual than most: a series of shining, silver swirls positioned around her right eye, looping and curling around it like a many headed snake. It was an unforgettable face, easily recognized. And although that was a good thing in some cases, it didn’t do much good in the criminal world.
Gabbana checked her GPS. She only had to drive about two more miles, barely three minutes at a steady pace.
Just then, she heard static coming from the communication system overhead.
God, no!” she groaned. Piers was the last person she wanted to talk to right now. Still, she had little choice. Hoping for his sake that he at least had a good excuse for not showing up tonight, she switched it on.
What, Piers?”
“Hey, Gabs, how’s it going?” He sounded smug, euphoric, even. It was not how someone should sound after they had ditched their partner, now driving for her life through the city. “I got good news.”
“Good enough that you had to leave me to fend for myself with six cops? I could’ve died!”
“What? No! Gabbana, this is different!” said Piers indignantly. “This is actually important. I found—”
“I don’t want to hear it!” she all but screamed at him. “Just shut up before I—”
She was cut off by the sound of a siren blaring behind her. She looked out the rear view mirror and swore; the police had found her.
She slammed down on the gas pedal. Then she reached up and flicked off the system. She didn’t have time to listen to anything that jerk had to say.
There was a slight bump under the car, and Gabbana smiled. She had reached the bridge spanning the Mellenia River. The chase would be over in a matter of seconds.
Of course, she mused, that was how she operated best. She was used to situations in which she had a minute or less to act; it was more or less a criminal thing. Who needed those blasted Time Angels anyway? She had all the time she could ever need.
The wail of sirens got even louder. Were the police catching up to her? It couldn’t be; there wasn’t a car in existence that could outrun hers. The dealer had sworn so right before she stole it.  
Her eyes widened slightly as she saw flashing lights out the front window. They were in front of her now too. Anywhere else this would have been easy to get out of. But on a fifty-foot bridge, she was trapped.
She stomped on the brakes with a cry of frustration and wrenched open the car door. The way she saw it, there was only one thing she could do. She didn’t like it, but between loosing the car and risking jail or possibly death, she’d ditch the car in a heartbeat.
She sprinted over to the side of the bridge. She heard the squeal of brakes and car doors slamming behind her, but by then she had already hopped up onto the steel railing and was poised to jump.
With a smirk, Gabbana half-glanced at her pursuers. “Adios,” she whispered.
And she bent her knees, preparing to spring.
At the last possible second, a blinding, white hot pain erupted in her lower back. The force of it caused her to waver perilously on the edge for a split second. Finally, the pain was too much to bear, and she gave into gravity. She fell into the water below, screaming in a blind panic.
*     *    *   *    *    *    *     *    *    *    *    *   *           
Gabbana was dead, and she knew it.
It was peaceful enough, she decided. Her eyes were closed, and she was lying on some hard surface. All that remained of the bullet’s trace was a dull throbbing in her back.
A clock rang out somewhere in the distance. For some amusement, she decided to try and count the chimes. One…two…three…four…
Someone was speaking, someone nearby. But she couldn’t make out the words.
After each passing bong, the person’s voice grew slightly clearer. Soon, she could distinguish her own name: “Gabbana. Gabbana. Come on, Gabs, wake up.”
…ten…eleven…twelve. It was midnight.
But hadn’t it just been past midnight?
A man’s voice rang out in her head surprisingly clearly. Seconds later, she received a sharp blow to the side of her head.
“Ow!” Gabbana sprang up to her feet, her eyes darting back and forth. A moment later, she relaxed; it was only Piers.
But being relaxed didn’t stop her from being angry at him.
“What the heck was that for?” she spat at him. “And why didn’t you show up today? I could have been killed!”
It was on that word, “killed,” that she remembered.
“But…I was killed…” She reached behind her, feeling around for a wound, a bullet hole, a bandage, or at least something. It was completely smooth. And although it was slightly tender, it was devoid of any wound.
Piers grinned. “Not yet.”
Although Gabbana herself looked more like a model than a criminal, Piers was so ordinary-looking he could easily be lost in a crowd. He was about a head taller than she, and he had dark hair and was of average build for his height. He was also lucky in that his defining mark, a birthmark of sorts which everyone had for identification, was a small dark splotch on his foot, easily concealed by a pair of shoes. And while Gabbana had a numerous amount of disguises she couldn’t go anywhere without, Piers could simply throw on a hooded jacket and go anywhere he wanted.
Gabbana threw Piers a death glare. “What is going on?”
Piers then shifted aside, revealing what, or rather, who was behind him.
A woman was slumped against the wall behind him. She appeared to be no more than twenty. She had golden-brown hair tied into a messy knot at the nape of her neck. Her chest rose and fell with her breath, so she was alive. But she also appeared to be unconscious.
“I don’t get it,” said Gabbana. “What’s she got to do with this?”
Piers strode over to the girl and yanked up on the back of her white sweatshirt, revealing a defining mark on her back.
Gabbana stared. This was like no other mark she’d seen before. It shimmered brilliant gold, and it was shaped into a pair of wings on the girl’s back.
“She’s a Time Angel,” Gabbana breathed. Suddenly everything became crystal clear. “Does that mean we’ve gone back in time?”
Piers nodded. “To save you.”
Gabbana allowed herself to be amazed for a few more seconds before her practical side took over. “So how exactly do we plan to do that?”
Piers frowned. Even Gabbana had to admit that he had his short spurts of brilliance. But when it came down to details, he could be hopelessly lost. “I didn’t really think of that,” he admitted.
“Of course…” Gabbana said to herself. But even as she began to say this, a plan started to form in her mind. “What time is it?”
“Just past twelve, I think. Why?”
“This area isn’t too far from where the police had me holed in before,” she replied. “We can go to the spot where I first escaped them, and when they get out of their cars…”
“…we can steal one and drive to the place where you got shot!” exclaimed Piers.” Brilliant!”
Gabbana smiled despite herself. “I’d say we have a few minutes, so why don’t you go out and check to see if the coast is clear before we leave?”
Piers nodded and cocked his gun. “On it.”
As he walked down the street, Gabbana heard a low moan behind her. The Time Angel was waking up.
The girl opened her eyes, and Gabbana was momentarily shocked. Her eyes were pale gray, so full of age and wisdom that they seemed out of place on this young woman’s face. Gabbana had seen such eyes on women four times her age.
The girl started muttering something inaudible. Curious, Gabbana leaned in to hear.
“Change…quartz…memory…meridian…” The girl kept murmuring seemingly random, disconnected words without pausing once to look up at Gabbana. She wondered if they bore some sort of hidden meaning.
Without warning, a sharp pain hit Gabbana’s kneecap, and she buckled over in pain. When she got up, the girl was up and running down the sidewalk.
In all fairness, it was a clever trick, but Gabbana was ready. She pointed her gun at her and said, “Stay where you are.”
The Time Angel took one look at the gun and fell to the ground, hugging her knees. Gabbana strode over to her side and nudged her with the toe of her boot.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Myra,” said the girl. “Please don’t hurt me,” she added hysterically.
“I won’t unless necessary.”
The minutes ticked by in silence. After a time, Gabbana grew weary of waiting for Piers and allowed her mind to wander elsewhere, like how he got ahold of Myra in the first place. She had heard that Time Angels were supposed to be near impossible to catch.
The only problem was that Piers certainly wasn’t here to tell her. That left only one source.
 “Look,” began Gabbana, causing Myra to swivel around and look at her. “I really don’t know how I got here or what happened after I died or how Piers even got ahold of you. So why don’t you just tell me all that happened while I was either unconscious or dead?”
Myra, at most, seemed relieved that Gabbana was at least attempting conversation and not attempting to kill her.
“Your stalker friend grabbed me in the street.” She sounded as though she were struggling to appear angry but too frightened to really pull it off.  “According to him, he knew who and what I was for some time. He was going to force me to join you two, I guess. But when he heard you had died, he forced me to take him back to where he could stop it. And of course, he made me drag you along too, although I really don’t know why.”
Gabbana thought she knew. Both of them had always considered her to be the mastermind of the group, and of course he wouldn’t think he could pull it off without her.
Suddenly, an idea struck her.  “But if I came back in time, then I wouldn’t need saving, would I? Because I’m right here.”
Myra shook her head. “I don’t think so. Your past self still exists, and you still have to save her. And since she is you in the past, if she dies, you will too.”
Against her will, Gabbana’s curiosity was aroused. She wanted to know more about the rules of time, never having them explained to her. “You and Piers too, then?”
Gabbana noticed that Myra’s eyes constantly kept darting between her and the gun in her hand, and it annoyed her somewhat. So she lowered it. “But why me and not you?”
“I don’t know,” said Myra, sounding more relaxed. “Piers and I went back physically, meaning that it’s as if we’re actually doing that moment over. But I couldn’t bring you back the same way. I don’t know if it’s because you caused too much to happen in the world or you weren’t aware of what I was doing or I literally had to drag you back from the dead. But I couldn’t, and just bringing you back in the way I did cost nearly all my energy, knocking me unconscious.”
“It sounds complicated.”
 “It is,” Myra agreed. “I just hope he knows what he dragged you into…”
Gabbana was sure her heart rate quickened. “What do you mean?”
“Time changes people, Gabbana. Especially your type,” Myra said.
“My type?”
“The kind that race through life in a matter of seconds, not even looking back on the things they’ve done. Sometimes all it takes is a second look to completely change a person or their lifestyle.”
“Well, thanks for the concern, but I think I can handle it,” said Gabbana dismissively.
“Don’t be so sure. I happen to know that you aren’t cut out for being a criminal.”
Gabbana gaped. “Who are you to say that?” she demanded. “I have been doing this for nearly ten years and I’ve never had a problem with it!”
“That’s because you’ve never had the time to look back,” said Myra, her voice rising.
Gabbana was tired of this. “Shut up, okay? I can do what I want and when I want to, and I don’t need your help either!”
Luckily, Piers chose this moment to poke his head around the street corner. “The cost is clear. Let’s go.”
After tying Myra’s hands together with a bit of rope, they set off down the street, keeping her close by them at gunpoint at all times.
Gabbana was fuming. Of course she was perfectly suited to being a criminal. What did that Time Angel know anyway? This was probably just another one of her tricks to escape, she realized.
They had covered about nine blocks before they came to a parked police car and heard voices coming from an alleyway in front of them.
Gabbana grinned; it was just too perfect. The car was parked just out of sight of anyone who happened to be there. “Piers,” she said, “see if you can hotwire the car. I’m going to—whoa!”
A silver Ferrari shot out of the alley and sped off into the night. Gabbana caught a glimpse of her own white-blonde hair before it disappeared from view.
“That was just too weird,” she muttered. “I’m going to keep lookout,” she said to Piers, who nodded and got to work.
The first thing she saw were three policemen slumped against the wall. They were stirring as if close to unconsciousness. She looked past them, towards the back of the alley, and saw the other two policemen. One was dead, killed by her own gunshot. The other was near death, and kneeling over him was the apprentice boy she had seen earlier.
The wounded officer was speaking to the boy. “…never should have brought you here tonight, Eithan. It was back luck that we happened to be the closest ones in the area. I’ll say you’re at least fortunate she had the decency not to shoot you.”
The little boy bit his lower lip. “I’m not afraid of her.”
Gabbana suddenly felt a little sick to her stomach. What was this? She hadn’t even shot the boy, yet guilt still coursed through her like a title wave.
She would bet anything that Myra had something to do with this.
But before she could round on her, the officer started speaking again. “I know you’re not, kiddo. That’s why I have a very important job for you.” He shakily pulled something from his belt, a walkie-talkie. “Do you remember how to use one of these?”
“Yeah,” said Eithan, taking it from his outstretched hand. “Dad taught me how.”
“Do you know what to do?”
“Yes, Sir.”
The man smiled weakly. “’Atta boy, Eithan.”
\He died two seconds later.
Gabbana barely had time to think about what she just saw before she heard the cold click of a gun behind her. Piers was standing there. He was pointing his weapon directly at Eithan.
“No!” Gabbana wrenched the gun from his hand and pushed him against the wall. “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”
“We’ll be seen!” she added; Myra was looking at her strangely.
Piers scowled. “And are you trying to get yourself killed? That kid is calling for reinforcements. If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t have been shot in the first place!”
Gabbana froze; she realized that Piers was right. Even so, he had been about to kill a child…
Gabbana and Piers were silent, and they could clearly hear Eithan’s voice in the background. “Come in, Dad. I got a status report. Two men out of five killed, the rest unhurt. Gabbana Rosemerin speeding south down Venetian Drive, heading toward the Mellenia Bridge—north entrance. We are in need of reinforcements as soon as possible. Do you copy?”
Good Lord, the child sounded just like a professional.
Gabbana shook her head, clearing it. “It’s too late anyway. Anything we do now won’t change anything. There’ll be some other way we can stop it. Let’s go now or we’ll never get to the bridge. You hotwired the car, right? Good.”
She slipped through the already open car door, aware of two pairs of eyes on her back. Piers was staring at her openmouthed with a mixture of astonishment and scrutiny. Myra, however, looked smug, as if she had proven a point.
And however much it disgusted Gabbana, she had to admit that the girl might have.
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *
Gabbana knew, speeding down the highway, that they were very, very pressed for time. However, they did have one advantage. While her past self was struggling to avoid conspicuity, they, in a police car, could go as fast as they wanted.
Plus, she knew the exact route to take. She herself went that exact way, after all.
Every once in a while, Piers, who was sitting in the passenger’s seat, would shoot her a glance that said clearly, What on earth have you gotten yourself into? And it would take all her effort not to throw a furious glare back at him. It wasn’t as if she could go back and kill Eithan and fix it all. What was done was done, and if she had to work twice as hard to make up for her small mercy, she would.
Worse still was Myra, perched in the backseat. Whenever Gabbana glanced through the rear view mirror, she would catch her looking up at her with a knowing yet painfully somber expression on her face. She assumed the Time Angel was trying to make her feel guilty on purpose, and she hated her for it.
Although it felt like hours because of the awkwardness between the three of them, it was actually on about three minutes before Gabbana’s silver car came into view.
Piers let out a whoop when he saw it. “Almost there, Gabs!”
Almost simultaneously, a searing pain racked Gabbana’s skull, nearly causing her to faint against the steering wheel.
The car started to swerve dangerously to the side of the road. Luckily, Piers managed to avoid the crisis by grabbing the steering wheel. But in doing so, he accidentally hit a switch with his elbow.
A siren reverberated around the car, splitting everyone’s eardrums. Lights flashed outside the car, and Gabbana and Piers watched in dismay as the silver car sped up and pulled away from them.
“You’re getting away, Gabs! Step on it!” Piers shouted.
With a grunt of effort, Gabbana took the car up to 120 miles per hour.
Piers looked at her worriedly. “What happened?”
“I don’t know…”
The pain had gone, vanished as quickly as it had come. Still, Gabbana was shaken; nothing like that had ever happened to her before.
And it only made it worse when she heard a frightened whisper from the backseat: “I was afraid of this…”
“STOP!” shouted Piers suddenly, and it was only this that saved them from crashing into the silver Ferrari that had screeched to a halt in front of them. They had come to the Mellenia Bridge.
A figure emerged from the car in front of them and dashed to the side of the bridge.
“This is it, Gabs! Go!” shouted Piers. She didn’t need telling twice, bursting out of the car before he had even finished speaking.
Gabbana felt the familiar buzz of adrenaline as the world around her slowed down. She felt fear prickling in her heart, which she dismissed. This was no different than any of her other exploits, except that failure was fatal…
The cops were emerging from their cars, and she could immediately see her target: a man with dark brown hair pulling a gun from his belt. This was it. All that existed were her, her past self, now climbing up onto the rail, and the policeman. Both she and the man raised their weapons at the same time, but she knew she was faster and more capable with a gun.
Lights from the police cars flashed, illuminating the man’s face, and Gabbana stopped cold.
The man looked just like Eithan. It was his father.
She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t bring herself to kill the boy, and now killing his father seemed just as bad. She all but hung her head in defeat.
She heard a gunshot, and she knew it was all over. Her small hesitation had been a costly mistake. She braced herself, again, for death.
But it wasn’t she who fell, or even her past self, now diving neatly over the railing. It was the cop who had crumpled to his knees, and Piers was standing by her side holding the gun.
“Quick, in the car!” he ordered, shoving her in the backseat with Myra. He took the wheel and sped off down the road.
Piers turned excitedly to look at Gabbana. “We did it! Those cops never knew what hit ‘em!” And he went on and on, describing their adventure in great, if not entirely accurate detail.
Gabbana, meanwhile, was miserable. Just like Myra had predicted, something had changed inside of her that night. Could she really call herself a criminal if she couldn’t bring herself to kill one man?
No, she supposed she would have to stop. But then what would happen? Would she stay in hiding for the rest of her life? Would she turn herself in?
Before Gabbana could consider any more possibilities, the same pain as before hit her skull, only stronger now. She screamed out loud, putting her head in her hands.
“Pull over!” screamed Myra to Piers.
Piers scowled. “No way! I’m driving and I can do whatever I—”
“I said PULL OVER!” This time her voice rang with so much authority that Piers actually whimpered and made a sharp turn to his right.
“I think I need some air,” Gabbana murmured.
The car screeched to a halt. Piers opened the door, took her by the hand, and led her over to the riverbank where they were parked.
“How do you feel?” Piers asked.
Outside, the pain was less. But it was definitely still there. “Terrible,” she groaned.
“That’s not surprising,” Myra said shrilly. “You may have saved yourself, but two of you can’t exist in this world at the same time. We have to hurry or you both will die!”
“Hurry and do what?” Gabbana asked, cringing from both the pain and because she had already guessed the answer.
“One of you has to be killed.”
As Myra spoke these words, there was a splash from the river. Gabbana’s past self was swimming this way; it would be so easy to just reach out and shoot her right now.
But she couldn’t. Maybe it was because that she couldn’t bear to kill anyone else or because she knew better at this point. But she knew it wouldn’t work out that way.
She withdrew her gun and pointed it at herself.
“What the heck are you doing?” Piers asked, completely dumbstruck.
“Trying to stay alive,” Gabbana snapped, nervously fingering the trigger.
“But…but…the other you is right there!” Piers protested. “Why not shoot her instead?”
“I can’t,” said Gabbana. She took a deep breath; this would require all her willpower.
Piers shook his head. “Gabs,” he said, “you are insane. I’m sorry. That may be you out there, but I can’t let you do this to yourself.” He grabbed the gun from her hand.
“NO!” screamed Myra, but it was too late. Piers pointed his gun out towards the river and fired.
Two screams pierced the night. One came from the direction in which Piers had fired. The other came from Gabbana herself as she slowly crumpled to a heap on the ground.
Myra stared, appalled, at Piers. “You idiot!” she screamed. “You’ve ruined everything!” True fear shone in Piers’s eyes as she lunged at him.
Gabbana glimpsed a pair of shimmering, golden wings growing from Myra’s back. Then her head hit soft grass, and all was silent.