Seven. Enter the Villains
Far from where Red and Nikko rode, a dark haired woman stood over a pool of seemingly ordinary water. It was shallow and wide, and reflected all that was around it in its smooth, mirror-like surface. Dreyla, as she was known, passed a hand over the surface of the water. It rippled silently with an otherworldly power and an image began to form. Miles above her, on the surface, the city of Voltar prospered. Dreyla sprinkled some sage onto the water, which evaporated with a fizzling sound. The Lord-governorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face came into view, and it was a worried expression that he wore. The minor weather mages he had working for him had given him the alarming news that the temperature was on the decline. This time of year, the temperature should be rising, for summer was approaching. However, it was cooler than what was acceptable, and the temperature was dropping daily.
Dreyla smiled and passed her hand over the pool once more, erasing the image. The large ruby that hung awkwardly from a strip of leather around her neck began to glow and burn hot, nearly pulsating with power. With a snarl, she tore the ruby from her neck and flung it from her, watching as it clattered to the floor and skittered beneath a table.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wretched heathen. There is nothing you will be able to do trapped in that stone of the fire you so love. Accept your fate, and accept the fate of your pitiful world.Ã¢â‚¬Â She smiled then, a cruel, beautiful smile that lit no warmth in her dark eyes.
A large cat shouldered open the door to the room, padding inside and rubbing himself against DreylaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leg. She looked down at the black feline, whose copper eyes found hers. They had visitors.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come along, Colian. Let us greet our guests.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The shadow wraith circled around the men, a weird, high-pitched growling coming from somewhere within it. The men stood defiantly, keeping watchful eyes on the being as it crept around them. The door to the antechamber swung open without a noise and a tall, imposing woman swept into the room. She stood taller than Astair by several inches, and he tightened his lips as she approached them. Her dark eyes gave the two men the once-over and she smiled at them. Her deep scarlet lips shone in the candlelight.
"Gentlemen. What brings you down here?" she asked, her voice quiet and smooth.
"This fool cloud, that's what," Astair returned sharply. He was really in no mood to be captured tonight, and yet here he was. The woman batted long dark lashes at him, her lips pursing almost imperceptibly.
"Demion isn't a cloud. Are you, darkling?" she said, almost cooing. The wraith left the men and fled to its mistress, winding around her shoulders. "Now, what were you two doing that caught Demion's interest?"
"Absolutely nothing that had to do with your shadow, lady," Astair growled. The wraith around the woman's shoulders emitted that bizarre growling noise and slashed at the air near the men with a transparent claw-like appendage.
"Well, darlings, you must have been doing something exceptionally cruel
for Demion to notice you," she purred. "Or, your plans were mingling with my own, and he brought you here to be stopped." Her voice lost its pleased tone and became cold, startling Astair's partner. Jeckal was a small, intelligent man, but was easily intimidated and manipulated. Astair narrowed his eyes.
"Unless your plans have to do with promiscuous sorcerers, I doubt we'll give you any bother," he drawled. The woman arched a well-sculpted eyebrow at the men, her expression deadpan. She then waved her hand and large, ancient wooden chairs appeared by the ebony table.
"We'll find out, then. Demion would not have brought you here had it not had a reason to do so. Sit," she commanded. Her tone held nothing to be argued with, and Astair knew how to pick his battles. He motioned for Jeckal to sit down, pulling out his own chair. With a wave of her hand, the woman sent the wraith, Demion, flying into the room from which she had come.
Dreyla stood at the head of the table, watching the men scrutinizingly. The short, silent one gazed around curiously now that Demion had left their presence. The taller one's gaze was trying very hard to burn a hole through her table. This won't do
she thought dryly.
"I should like to know the names of the men I have welcomed so graciously into my home," she said, perching herself delicately on a chair. The tall man scowled at her, then looked away. She narrowed her eyes at him and held up her index finger. She curled it in and his head snapped around. His eyes, once slits of anger, were now wide in fear. "No need to be rude. Simply tell me your names," she said coolly.
"My name is Jeckal," said the short one quickly. Dreyla smiled at him. The taller one was clearly agitated with his partner's willingness to cooperate as he grumbled something under his breath. "Apologies. I didn't catch that," she said.
"Astair!" he barked. Dreyla smiled again.
"That wasn't so difficult, was it?" she said, sugar dripping from her words. Silence fell on the room once again, and it wasn't long before Demion returned with the bowl containing the water she was gazing into earlier. Colian the cat followed, his tail held high. Demion drifted to her and set the bowl down in front of her gently, falling back behind her. Astair and Jeckal couldn't hide their curiosity and they looked at the bowl. Dreyla ignored them and bent her head low over it.Show me the one who walks both paths.
She waved her left hand over the bowl. Breathing in deeply through her nose, then blew out a gentle breath over the water. The spell she had woven on the water would show her the one who knew of the discord she had been painstakingly creating and who was being pursued by these men. This person was the reason why Demion had brought them here. This person could be a great threat.
A man's figure slowly appeared in the water, its still surface reflecting him perfectly. He had white hair and pale skin, and a strong, handsome face. Dreyla wondered how much of a threat he could be, until she saw the Soul Stone around his neck. It glowed in the magical water. So he is a sorcerer. What a bother,
she thought with a frown. She passed her right hand over the water and the image disappeared. She looked up at her guests.
"You are hunting a white-haired sorcerer," she told them; it wasn't a question, and it seemed to take them aback. "He is aware of the changes I have caused in the world, and yet you are the one after him. Explain." Astair folded his hands on the table and glared at her steadily.
"We are the Black Hunters. We seek and destroy sorcerers because of the massive threat they pose to the world. Nikko has avoided us for years, and our leader has finally dispatched us to rid the world of this parasite." He paused. "Why?" Dreyla's dark red lips split into a cold smile.
"You are going to help me."
Nikko fidgeted in his seat, perfectly aware of the multiple pairs of eyes staring at him. He sat in the antechamber to Archmage Thane's study where Red was talking to him. The students and aids hadn't taken their eyes off of him, and he whistled anxiously. He'd tried talking (flirting) with Thane's receptionist, but the Anaugi on her desk hissed at him and nearly lit his cloak on fire.
So he sat in his little wooden chair, twiddling his thumbs and feeling uncharacteristically awkward. Red had been in Thane's study for twenty five minutes, and he wondered what they were talking about. Secret magi things, which was most likely the reason he wasn't allowed in.
He wondered how Thane was going to figure out what was going on, let alone solve the problems. He was deviating to thoughts of Thane zooming around the world on a flying carpet zapping dark magi with lightning bolts when the door to Thane's office swung open and Red walked out, looking flustered and pleased.
"So what did he say?" Nikko asked, nearly unable to hold his excitement in. They sat by Lake Lakira, watching the Koi and Leviathans play in the water.
"He believes that because we are the ones that have first come to him with this issue, that we should be the ones to take care of it. He has an idea as to what might be going on, but he said it was only a hunch," Red explained. She tossed a slice of apple into the water and watched as the blue tentacle of a Kraken dragged it under. "He wants us to check the Godstone in the Arkene."
Da fook is a Godstone? Who is Dreyla? What plane of existence is Demion from? SUCH ADVANCES.
I'm sorry for how long it took me to get you this. I had no ideas and I took Raneth's advice and jumped ahead. But I've got a few ideas now so you all won't have to wait this long for the next chapter. Thank you all for sticking by me, and if you want to be put on my list to get a PM when I update, let me know!