A/N: Obviously very late...so very sorry...will try to take less time for the next update. Promise. :)
It was early.
There was an eerie silence in the Department of Mysteries and Dark Magic. Only the occasional clang of a janitor walking down the corridor echoed through it all.
Serenity stopped at her office door and hesitated.
Her name had been engraved in gold upon the elegant wood, right above Daniel's. They had shared the office as soon as they became members. Now, it had been months since she'd last been inside. It felt so strange and foreign to her now.
But she reached for her necklace and pressed the locket against the doorknob, the lock clicked open and she stepped in. The lights turned on instantly and she found herself staring at what had once been her parents' old office. There were subtle hints of them still in the room. Family pictures that Serenity had opted to keep, books, displays, ornaments…even the locket in her hand had been the key they had used. A heart intertwined in thorny vines. It had hung around her mother's neck.
Serenity walked towards her own desk and dropped the briefcase she was carrying onto her desk. It sounded loudly against the wood, and a few papers slipped out. She sighed.
Serenity jumped. She turned towards the door and felt her heart jump into her mouth. Soevel.
Calm, cool and collected as always, he was standing at the entrance to her office; his work robes neatly resting on his shoulders, his silver hair smoothly pulled back, his grey eyes so knowing…so frighteningly knowledgeable.
"So are you," she managed to say finally.
He smiled crookedly. "I prefer to be here early," he answered simply. "I don't really get along with people, as you clearly know."
Serenity nodded faintly.
"May I come in?" he asked finally.
Serenity nodded. She didn't really know what to do. She hadn't seen him since that evening at the Wish Moore's when they all had gathered to celebrate Daniel's birthday. She had avoided talking to him at all costs. She hadn't thought herself ready to face the man she had falsely accused of killing her parents. That had been two weeks ago and she didn't think she was any more ready now.
"I take it you're submitting your report on the Pearl of Power?" he asked easily as he stepped in and took a seat in one of the reading chairs.
"Yes," she managed to answer but she leaned against her desk for support. She could feel herself shaking. "Daniel and I spent the last two weeks putting it together. I suspect we'll have to file another report on what was said and done in Starmine's Forest…there's just so much that happened there."
He nodded in understanding. "How are you holding up?" he asked slowly and he looked at her gently as he said it. It made her feel even guiltier.
"I'm okay," she answered slowly. "Sometimes I'm not but I think I'll make it."
"I truly am sorry," Soevel added gently. "I wish it had been someone else. And I wish you would have found out another way."
Serenity nodded. "We all wish many things."
He looked at her curiously. "What do you wish for, Serenity?" he asked softly.
She looked at him surprised. "What do you mean?" she asked in return. "You know I have always merely wished that my parents hadn't died."
"I know," he agreed, "but I meant what do you wish had happened that night? This certainly wasn't the way you were expecting things to end, were they?"
She froze. That question, why would he ask her that question.
"No, they weren't," she answered carefully. "I thought I was going to face off with someone else. I thought I would have been strong enough to defeat them and bring them back to justice here. I thought I would succeed."
"Whom did you think you were going to face off with?" he pressed.
Serenity trembled. "You know already, don't you?" she asked in a hushed whisper. "You know who I thought killed them."
He smiled gently. "Yes, I know," he nodded. "But you need to tell me, it will clear your conscience. Trust me."
She closed her eyes. "I thought it was you," she whispered finally. "I was so sure it was you. Everything pointed…at you. You had motive, you had power and there was that note…I was so sure."
He gazed at her sadly. "I almost wish it had been me, Serenity," he whispered faintly. "I know I have never been close to you but I did watch you grow up and I do care. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you."
"What?" she looked at him surprised. "Protect me?"
He smiled sadly. He suddenly looked fatherly. "You remember the day you came into the Witches' Council to talk to Brown?" he asked her simply. "When you first found out about your parents?"
She nodded. "I remember."
"Do you remember what I tried to do?" he asked gently.
She was briefly silent. "You tried to get appointed as my legal guardian," she answered softly.
He nodded. "I was always afraid your parents were going to pass away tragically," he replied gently. "I was afraid they would leave you behind without knowing how to protect yourself…how to distinguish between the people who truly meant well and those who simply wanted to get at your powers…but you were always so afraid me, I couldn't protect you when you were always so afraid."
Serenity could feel the impending desire to start crying. "I'm sorry," she whispered softly.
"As am I."
The large circular entrance room to the Witches' Council, teemed with busy witches and wizards; all pushing their way through the crowd to cross the enormous dome-like room. It was an elegant room, worthy of being called the most important center of communications in the Magical British world.
It sat in the very center of the entire building, acting as the entryway to all the twelve Departments of the Council. The tall white walls met twelve feet up in the air, the dome sphere of its ceiling, crystal clear glass that glittered brilliantly beneath the lights. Large majestic doors were spread around the wall; trees and plants placed in perfect alignment throughout the room.
Seeing Falls swayed gently in their pots, their red flowers blooming from spring. Large wooden portraits hung on the walls, their inhabitants living the normal life of any living person, visiting, socializing, sleeping and eating grand dinners within their picture frames. On every door, there was a desk, thirteen large desks occupied by a witch, calmly taking in orders, parchments and reports from all the people who walked up to them. And last but not least, were the roaming shadows, creatures of Dark Magic that were neither dead nor alive, who traveled through the flat dimensions of the tall walls and kept a sharp eye on the doings of the grand building.
Serenity stood silently watching everyone move around her. She was leaning against the wall, standing near the portal that granted access to the outside world. She remembered the first time she had been to the Witches' Council on her own and remembered the day she'd been told her parents were dead…now she was there to put them to rest. In the best way she could.
People were streaming in from the portal beside her. Onseers, mages, attorneys, politians and a plethora of other professions that she didn't really recognize. She had never realized how sheltered her parents had kept her until they had no longer been there to shield her from the world. Now she was an Onseer and…Starmine. She was a legend and that legend had cost her more then she had been willing to pay.
Daniel, Falcron and Pearl suddenly stepped out from the portal and paused only briefly to glance around before they caught sight of her. Serenity smiled at them gently and waved softly as they walked over to her. But the room suddenly went dead silent and then all the doors slammed shut. Serenity saw a shimmer of magic pass over them as they were magically sealed, even the portal had been cut off.
A cold wind rushed through the room and people rushed to move out of the way as the wind turned into a dark smoke that materialized into six roaming shadows, all of them closing in on Daniel, Falcron and Pearl, their hands outstretched as if they meant to tackle them.
Serenity gaped and rushed forward worriedly.
"Wait! Stop!" she didn't really know what she was supposed to do. It's not like Roaming Shadows could be killed. They were dead to begin with. "What are you doing?" she demanded as they all turned their hooded gazes at her. There were no faces…or at least none that could be seen under the darkness of their hoods. But it was still chilling. Serenity stopped in her tracks, wary.
"This intruder attacked the Witches' Council several weeks ago," they all seemed to speak in unison, a voice that was dark and cold. Serenity shivered involuntarily. She saw everyone else do so as well.
Serenity followed their hands and saw they were all gesturing at Pearl, who looked completely unfazed by the whole thing. She had donning normal mortal clothing while her stay in Serenity's home but now, she had changed back into her Guardian attire and although her rod was obviously hidden, she looked no less dangerous in her alluring clothing. Serenity wasn't sure how she did it.
But she also saw the looks of fear on everyone else in the room. Their eyes on Pearl. She had attacked the Witches' Council? When had that happened?
"That…is the Guardian of Everything that Has Ever Been and Will Ever Be," Serenity said finally, a mouthful of a title if you asked her. "I'm not sure why she came here and why she attacked…but I don't think this is going to end well if you keep going."
"Our orders are to protect the Council," again they all spoke in unison.
"I didn't attack," Pearl cut in before Serenity could respond.
All eyes were on her now. The room tensed considerably.
"I came here when you, Daniel and Falcron were dying," Pearl was talking to her now. "They didn't recognize me…they attacked me."
Serenity's eyes widened. Pearl had come to the Witches' Council to help them? No one had told her that.
"Um—is there someone—" she hadn't finish her sentence when one of the many doors swung open and a man walked in. How did he do that? The doors had been sealed…
He walked in calmly, a faint smile tugging at the corner of his lips. Bright blue eyes, greying hair and a heavy body set that oddly made him look grandfatherly. He was in a neatly trimmed three-piece suit, a silk cloak over his shoulders. Two crests stamped onto his cloak. Two crossed wands surrounded by stars, the crest of the Witches' Council. And a blank mask surrounded by fire and symbols of magic: Serenity didn't recognize that one.
He came up to stand next to her and smiled, a gentle smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes. Serenity felt a strange compulsion of safety. He made her feel safe…and oddly reminded her of how young she was…looking up at him, she wished she known her grandparents.
"Morning," he greeted them all kindly. His voice just as soothing as his appearance. He looked past the ring of Roaming Shadows that was standing before him and smiled at Daniel, Falcron and Pearl.
"Err—good morning," Daniel said, looking slightly bemused.
"Morning," Falcron returned the greeting and bowed his head faintly in respect.
Pearl simply smiled. A smile full of understanding.
"Well, isn't this just a little too early for quarreling?" he turned his gaze towards the Shadows.
They didn't move. "We have orders," they spoke. "She is an intruder…and she harmed us last time she was here."
"Of course she did," he laughed; it was soft and warm. "You opted for the fight now, ask questions later approach. Doesn't always work out so well, does it?"
They didn't respond.
He sighed. "Well, if you don't mind," he spoke easily. "Please let them go, all of them. She is specifically a guest of the Witches' Council. She is not to be harmed. Ever."
The Shadows didn't move and the tension didn't subside. They simply stood staring at each other. Roaming Shadows and the strange but kind man. Finally, they lowered their arms and dissipated into the air, a thin black smoke that vanished without a trace.
A collective sigh of relief floated through the room. The man smiled.
"Well, go on now, back to your business," he called out and everyone jumped at the order.
Slowly, the room settled back into its rhythm. The doors shimmered and then swung open once more. The portal finally giving back entrance to the Dome.
Serenity stood staring at the man astonished. Who was he?
They all stepped forward and came up to him.
"Um, thank you," Daniel spoke first and offered his hand in gratitude. "I'm Daniel Wish Moore by the way. Onseer to the Department of Mysteries and Dark Magic."
"Pleasure," the man smiled taking his hand. "Benjamin Sparrows. Head of the Department of Silence."
Serenity almost choked on her breath. The Head of the Department of Silence. The most mysterious department of them all.
"Falcron of Ghaledrin," Falcron offered his hand as well. "Simply a guest of Serenity's."
"Um—and I'm Serenity…Serenity Heart," she said through her wonder. "Also Onseer to the Department of Mysteries and Dark Magic."
He smiled at them all. "Pleasure," he greeted warmly before turning towards Pearl. "Guardian."
Pearl merely nodded her head in recognition.
"Well, I apologize for the reception you received today," he apologized to them as a group. "It's been busy here ever since you all came into the Realm of Magic. You'll have to forgive us but we were definitely unprepared for something of this sort."
"So it would seem," Pearl spoke finally.
He merely smiled. Smiling seemed to be his perpetual state of being. "Well, you two have somewhere to be, don't you?" he turned to look at Serenity and Daniel.
"Um—yes, we do actually—,"
"Serenity!" she had barely gotten the words out when she felt someone barrel into her.
"You're late!" Brianna gasped for breath. "What are you doing—" her voice died out as she caught sight of their group. She openly gaped at Sparrows and then paled when she saw Falcron.
Serenity frowned. There was something strange about the way Brianna looked at Falcron. It unnerved her.
"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't realize," Brianna mumbled nervously.
Sparrows simply smiled. "It's fine, kind of you to come looking for them," he added calmly. "But I think we should get moving," he turned his gaze to them all collectively. "Miss Locket, is right, you are running late. The Head will be displeased."
They all shifted warily. All but Pearl. Serenity looked down at the bag she was carrying, her report carefully tucked next to a thick parchment she had received days before. A notice to appear before the Witches' Council. It had been addressed to all of them, Falcron and Pearl as well. And she knew Daniel had received one as well.
"Shall we then?" Pearl broke the silence.
"Of course, this way," Sparrows turned away to start walking and then suddenly stopped, he turned his gaze to Brianna. She openly shied away. "Miss Locket, perhaps you would like to accompany us?"
She gaped. "What? I'm mean…um…if I can be of service…" she looked at a loss for words.
He laughed. "Of course, I insist you come with."
Brianna simply nodded, still gaping.
Sparrows to look at Pearl, "Guardian, it's been a while since you've graced us with your presence," he bowed his head and then held out his arm to her. "Would you mind if I took the scenic route and showed you what you've missed in these past few centuries?"
Pearl returned the smile. "That would nice, yes," she stepped forward and laced her arm in his. They stepped forward and Benjamin led them to one of the many doors. He spoke to Pearl as they went, pointing out the people in the portraits and explaining why they had been honored.
They all watched it faintly stunned and followed a few steps behind. He led them to the door that sat nearest to the desk where Martha sat, secretary to the Head of the Witches' Council. It was the door that lead to his office but when he opened it, they stepped into a magnificent hallway instead, tall walls and arched ceilings. The walls had been carved with exquisite detail to resemble towering, Greek pillars. The sound of their shoes against the tiled floor echoed in their ears. Serenity was in awe; she had never known the doors had been spelled to grant access to more then one destination. She was oddly impressed with the Council.
"What is this?" Brianna hissed in a whisper as she pulled Serenity's attention away from the splendor of the building. "Since when does the Head of the Department of Silence escort anyone anywhere?"
Serenity simply shook her head.
"Since the Guardian appeared again, I would presume," Falcron answered simply. "It seem your people haven't completely forgotten who she is."
Serenity looked at him curiously. He was in his za'vac attire like always, his cloak swirling around his boots, and his hair tied neatly away from his face. She was suddenly reminded of the test the Guardian had forced on her…Falcron had been her boyfriend. She felt her face burn and forced herself to look away, her gaze landing on his weapons instead.
"How did you get into the building with those?" she blurted out before she could stop herself.
Falcron suddenly looked grim. "Pearl sealed them," he answered in annoyance. "I cannot draw my sword, my dagger or my bow. I was not allowed entrance otherwise."
"Sorry," Serenity whispered gently.
"You shouldn't have brought them in the first place," Brianna reprimanded simply. "As if they'd let anyone walk around with those."
Falcron's gaze darkened and a flash of fear passed over Brianna's face before she glared right back.
"Anyone have any idea why we got a summons from the Witches' Council?" Daniel spoke before Serenity could question Brianna's reaction to Falcron. "Summons from the Head of our department makes sense…but the entire council?"
Brianna bit her lip nervously. "I've been trying to get mom to tell me what they've been up to," she whispered simply. "But she's being oddly secretive about everything since you all came back. She usually shares stuff with me…insignificant details usually but at least she shares. Now…nothing. I haven't been able to get anything from her."
"I don't like the sound of that," Serenity muttered.
"Me neither," Daniel agreed.
"Things are just…weird now," Brianna continued softly.
"What do you mean?" Daniel questioned.
"Well, everyone has been walking around like they're balancing on a tightrope or something," Brianna answered gently. "Ever since the Guardian appeared in the middle of the Dome, the entire Witches' Council has been on edge. I don't know what the other departments were told…but us, the Department of Regulations, we were told to be on our guard. That things might start changing around here…and it might take some getting used to. It was so damn cryptic, it made everyone nervous."
"Changing?" Serenity repeated confused. "Like a change in command?"
"I don't know," Brianna shook her head. "That's the thing, no one can clarify anything. We're all in the dark…if anything is happening then I'm willing to bet only the thirteen council members know."
"That makes things even more weird," Daniel muttered.
"Yeah, I know," Brianna agreed. "There's one more thing," she added and then hesitated before continuing, "the night Pearl was here…something strange happened."
"Strange?" Serenity repeated.
Brianna nodded but didn't continue.
"Are you going to enlighten us or are we going to wait forever?" Falcron pressed her.
Brianna's face darkened in anger. "Expressionless," she snapped curtly, somehow still managing to keep her voice barely above a whisper. "There were Expressionless here. Ten of them to be exact."
Serenity felt herself gape again. What was with that day?
"Expressionless?" Daniel repeated sounding just as shocked as Serenity felt. "I've never seen one before."
"Neither have I," Brianna agreed. "Never. Not in all the time I've been here and I've been running around this place since I had diapers. Practically grew up here and nothing. I don't even know where the Department of Silence is housed. No one knows."
"What were they doing?" Serenity asked in a hushed whisper.
"Fighting…at first," Brianna answered. "Everyone was. Pearl must have scared everyone and they must have attacked. But when she finally spoke…she demanded they give her healers, and Brown…he looked like he was going to say no." She paused and then shook her head in disbelief as she continued. "And then…one of them spoke. He ordered Brown to do as Pearl said…just one order and Brown, he did it. He didn't even argue. Just did as he was told."
Serenity felt stunned.
"Someone gave the Head of your government a direct order?" Falcron repeated sounding surprised. "And he followed it?"
Brianna simply nodded.
"What does this all mean?" Daniel muttered baffled.
"I wish I knew," Brianna responded.
Serenity wanted to press for more details but she Sparrows stop at a door and was forced to put aside all her questions. The others looked just as perplexed but their attention was pulled to Sparrows who had opened the door and was holding it open for them to enter. Pearl thanked him before stepping through and warily, they all filed in behind her.
They stepped into a small circular room with the same design of the dome entrance room and still holding that slight touch of Greek architecture. There appeared to be hallways to other rooms that had been closed off by long dark blue curtains hanging down calmly. In the center was a statue…of an elderly wizard. Serenity recognized him from her studies. Magnus the Unforgiveable. The first mage to ever sit at the Head of the Witches' Council. He was a legend.
"I've never seen this place before," Brianna muttered so softly Serenity wasn't sure anyone else heard. She sounded both awed and nervous.
"This way," Sparrows stepped in, closing the door behind him and Serenity saw that same shimmer of magic she had seen earlier. The door was spelled. She wondered if it was meant to keep others out…or to keep them in.
He retook his place beside Pearl before leading them to one of the curtained hallways and pulling aside the velvet to let them through, he waited for all of them to step through before following them in and continuing. He was surprisingly silent, not even speaking to Pearl. It made Serenity nervous.
They passed several doors before the hallway opened up into a spacious lobby with more curtained off halls and another statue of an ancient witch but this also harbored a staircase against the far wall that curved in a half-moon. It ended in balcony, the outline of three separate hallways at its end looming down at them. Sparrows walked calmly towards the stairs, and they followed silently. They reached the top quickly and Serenity glanced over her shoulder to look at the gorgeous hall below. Sparrows headed down the very center hallway right until they came upon the end. They stood before two double doors that were shut. He simply stopped and waited. It was barely a few seconds later when the doors opened on their own accord and revealed the vast room inside. Sparrows turned to look at them, smiled encouragingly and then stepped in. They followed slowly.
Serenity stopped short the moment she stepped in. The room they had entered was enormous and elegant. Tall pillars of stone had been raised up to hold up the ceiling. The remaining walls covered in bookshelves, some weighed down by heavy volumes, others encasing what looked like old scrolls and maps. It was quiet and calm. If only it had been empty of the other twelve people that were already there.
A large table was centered in the middle of the room and in it sat all the remaining members of the Witches' Council, Anthony Brown at the head of the table.
But they weren't alone.
Along the right side of the room were three additional chairs, two for the Wish Moores'. The last for Soevel. Serenity felt her heart clench in guilt. It happened every time she saw him. But it wasn't them that had frozen her to the spot. Nor the intimidating group of wizards that ruled the British Realm of Magic. It was the other six people that were standing against the wall, off to the left side of the room.
Six people in dark, heavy black cloaks that were neatly settled over black suits. Hooded so their faces were shaded…clothes tied around the bottom half of their faces, they stood immobile. Two crests stamped on their black cloaks. The same ones stamped on Sparrows cloak.
"Bloody hell," Brianna openly cursed and her words confirmed Serenity's speculations.
No one acknowledged Brianna's lapse in judgment, not even her mother, who was seated on Brown's right hand side. That bothered Serenity for some reason.
"If you'll pardon me," Sparrows excused himself from Pearl and walked forward to take the one empty seat that remained at the table.
Brown waited until Sparrows was seated before standing up. Head of the Witches' Council, he was actually dressed like it. Serenity couldn't really recall ever having seen that. He usually looked irritable and vexed, his clothes in slight disarray, his robes a bit shabby. But not today. He looked to be in his finest, even his pitch black hair was neatly combed.
Serenity cast a quick glance around the room and saw the same. Everyone was in their best. There were so many things about how things were developing that were starting to worry her.
"Please, step forward," Brown spoke.
Silently, they did as they were told and they lined up in front of the Council.
Brown waved his wand and Serenity felt something bump against her leg. She looked back to see a chair, each of them had a chair lined up for them.
"Sit…please," Brown ordered simply.
Again they obeyed silently.
"Welcome to the Witches' Council," Brown began as soon as they took their seat. "As you have probably already guessed, you are in the Conference Hall; this room is where the Council convenes to discuss everything that is ever brought to forth to us. We normally don't invite guests…but this is a special circumstance, after all."
Serenity felt herself tense. She had hoped she could turn in her case report without having to think about everything else that had happened…or at least that she would be given more time to write another report on the other stuff that had occurred. But she was starting to get the feeling that wasn't going to happen.
She listened to the silence of the room as Brown seated himself. Her eyes went to Katherine Locket, Brianna's mother, who was second in power at the Council and also the Head of the Department of Mysteries and Dark Magic. She looked perfectly calm but strangely stiff, as if she was bracing herself for a really painful conversation.
"Before we begin, I suppose introductions are in order," Brown spoke easily. "I don't believe you have ever personally met the entire Council."
That surprised Serenity. There was a formality to everything that she hadn't been expecting.
"Me you already know," Ms. Locket spoke, "So instead, I welcome you to the Witches' Council and extend our humble greetings to Falcron of Ghaledrin and Pearl, the Guardian."
Both Falcron and Pearl nodded.
"Julia Parkers," the woman next to her spoke. She was pretty. In the blue eyed, fair skin and blonde hair kind of way. "Head of the Department of Education. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Sean Parkers," the man next to her greeted them. He was a large man, in body size, and probably in height, he gazed at them with dark brown eyes, his thin brown hair neatly trimmed. "Head of the Department of Defense. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Kelly Roberts," the next woman spoke. She appeared young with a soft beauty and the facial features of a Spanish woman. "Head of the Department of Finance. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
One by one they went around the table.
"Adam Gent, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"We've already met but let me introduce myself again, James Hathen, Head of the Department of Health, Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Vivian Deckner, Head of the Department of History. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Joanna Livingston, Head of the Department of Magical Beasts and Herbs. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Jordan Cellings, Head of the Department of Mortal Regulations. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Benjamin Sparrows, Head of the Department of Silence. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Howard Burksman, Head of the Department of Sports and Entertainment. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"Arthur Cornwall, Head of the Department of Regulations. Welcome to the Witches' Council."
"And you know our guests?" Brown nodded at the chairs where Soevel sat alongside the Wish Moores.
"Yes, we do," it was Daniel who answered. He hesitated before adding, "But we do not know all your guests," and his eyes went to the six Expressionless.
They made no move to respond to him. Instead, Brown barked a laugh, strangely sarcastic.
"No one knows them," he answered simply but made no attempt to explain further. "Please, for formalities sake, introduce yourselves and your professions."
"Of course," Daniel nodded and proceeded to repeat what he had already said to Sparrows earlier.
One by one they introduced themselves. Serenity let her gaze scan the room briefly and she caught sight of Martha, Brown's personal secretary. She was seated in a far corner of the room in a neat desk, a roll of parchment in her hands, a quill flying across the paper on its own accord. Taking notes for her as she scanned it for errors.
"Well, I suppose you all know why you're here?" Brown spoke as soon as they finished, bringing Serenity's attention back to him.
There was a momentary silence before Daniel answered and Serenity was thankful he did, she had never been one for politics.
"The summons were not clear," Daniel began carefully. "But I suspect this has to do with our case…and the events that transpired because of it."
Brown nodded. "It should come as no surprise to you that the Witches' Council needs to know what happened," he answered simply. "It is not every day that a stranger pops up uninvited into the Witches' Council, demanding we provide healers for our dying Onseers." His eyes shifted over to Pearl.
Daniel hesitated. "I suppose you want to know everything?" he asked slowly. "Including why we asked for the case?"
Serenity stiffened. They had first presented the case to Brown and Locket under the pretext that they were merely finishing a case long ago started by a previous Onseer. That hadn't been the reason of course, and only a few people really knew why Serenity and Daniel had gone searching for a legend.
"We are already aware you took a file that did not belong to you," Locket spoke and Serenity felt herself tense even further. They knew they had broken into Brown's office. "How about you start there."
Everyone turned their gazes towards them and Serenity now understood why the summons had not only included her and Daniel but Falcron and Pearl as well. She understood why Brianna had been asked to join them. They wanted to know everything.
Daniel turned to look down at her and Serenity sighed. This had been something she had orchestrated…it was her story to tell.
She took a deep breath and told them the truth.
"She died…and the Pearl of Power now rests within me. The rest you know."
Pearl finished the tale. They had gone through every detail of what had happened since Serenity and Daniel had left for Gordian. It had been a long two hours, full of questions and outrage. Full of fear and disbelief. So much had happened to them that it now seemed so impossible. An attack by zeneras, the destruction of a pixie colony, the mysteries of the unicorns…the discovery of the Pearl of Power.
But now it was over. Everything had been said and now they all sat in silence. The details of what had been said and done at the Lair of the Pearl of Power still fresh in their minds. Serenity had tried to forget it but now here she was, reliving it all over again. She felt faintly nauseous.
"That is certainly not the ending we were expecting," Locket spoke finally. She turned her gaze towards Serenity. "How are you fairing? Knowing what you now know?"
Serenity hesitated before answering, "I'm alright. I admit it was not the ending I was expecting…and Ashley…she was the last person I would have every suspected. I don't think I will ever be able to fully understand what she did."
"I don't think it's very clear," Locket agreed looking trouble. "And that worries me more then anything."
"It should most definitely worry you," Pearl agreed simply. "But perhaps I can provide some clarity on that." She raised her hand and flicked her wrist gracefully. A golden bracelet appeared hovering above the center of the large table. Inscriptions sparkled in the light.
"What is that?" Brown asked as he leaned forward to look at it.
"I found it in her remains," Pearl answered.
Serenity turned to look at her sharply. Why hadn't she been told?
"No…," Vivian Deckner stood up and leaned across the table to snatch the bracelet. She brought out a pair of reading glasses, bringing the bracelet up close. "This is impossible."
"What is it?" Brown demanded looking at her sharply.
Deckner merely kept inspecting the bracelet, shifting it in her grip as she read the inscription.
"Deckner!" Brown snapped when she didn't respond.
She looked up at him and Serenity saw that her eyes had gone wide…in fear? Disbelief? Or both?
"Um…this bracelet," she whispered softly. "The Department…we have one but it's in lockdown."
"Lockdown?" Locket repeated. "What does that mean, Deckner?"
She took a deep breath. "The bracelet we have is one of many…they used to be a symbol of status, power…and unity between the Ghalamyns."
The Ghalamyns? Serenity felt something tug in the back of her brain.
"No," Locket murmured openly shaking her head in denial.
"Are you sure?" Sparrows questioned, his gaze had narrowed down upon the bracelet in Deckner's hands.
"Yes," she nodded and her voice sounded faint.
"Would someone care to explain to the rest of us why this is important?" Burksman demanded. He struck Serenity as the stereotypical athlete who had decided to go into office and gotten to his position not because of his intellect but because of his fame.
"The Ghalamyns, they were at their strongest back during the War of the Three Realms," Deckner answered and she finally lowered herself into her seat. "They had started out as an exclusive organization that only invited the best and the brightest. They were an impressive group of individuals.
"And then their ideals changed. They were unhappy with the government, unhappy with the distribution of power…and they raged war against the wizarding community. They were at their strongest during the War of the Three Realms…and they killed a lot of people. It took a lot to bring them down…it was a dark time for the Realm of Magic."
The Ghalamyns: a revolutionary group that brought down the infrastructure of the entire Realm of Magic in an effort to place one Monarchy above all humanity. They were ruthless and lawless, taking what they deemed necessary in cruel acts of war.
The words came back to her. Serenity remembered reading about them long ago in her history books…but they had been prevalent during the War of the Realm Realms. That was centuries ago. What was Ashley doing with one of their bracelets?
"So Hides stole from the Department of History?" Burksman asked sounding unimpressed by her explanation.
Deckner looked peeved. "No," and her voice sounded annoyed. "The inscription usually says: To the Lord and his glory, to the Ghalamyns and their strength, to the Realm of Magic and its people, may they bow down to the Lord's justice." She paused and then looked down at the bracelet again. "But this one says, To the Lord and his memory, to the Ghalamyns and their revival, to the Realm of Magic and its people, may they tremble with his return."
There was a brief silence before anyone spoke.
"The Lord?" Hathen spoke warily. "Who are they referring to?"
"In the original inscription, it referred to their leader, the mage who created and rallied them forth," Deckner answered simply. "He was not a kind man."
"And in Ashley's inscription?" Serenity asked warily, not liking where the conversation was going. "Who does it refer to?"
Deckner's face contorted with worry. "I don't know," she whispered softly. "But I don't like the sound of any of it. The Ghalamyns revival…the Lord's return?...it's just too ominous."
"You think it's real then?" Locket asked worriedly.
"I can't confirm it," Deckner whispered. "But I don't think we should dismiss it so easily."
Burksman snorted. "All this from a bracelet?" he asked in disbelief. "Listen to yourself. This is ridiculous."
Deckner actually looked at him angrily. She looked like she wanted to snap at him but somehow kept herself in check.
"You are welcome to think what you want," Pearl finally spoke. "But don't pretend I didn't warn you."
That made Serenity nervous.
"I will look into it," Locket assured instead. "The last thing we need is a revival of those ideals."
"Yes, I will help as well," Sparrows agreed.
"Do you mind if I keep this?" Deckner asked turning her gaze towards Pearl.
"I shouldn't be the one to ask," Pearl responded and she turned her eyes to Serenity.
Serenity felt everyone's attention also shift towards her.
She sighed. "You may do with it what you please," she answered simply. "It will be more helpful in your hands then in mine."
"Thank you," Deckner answered and she sat back in her chair, staring at the bracelet with worry.
"Serenity, what do you know about Miss Hides' family?" Locket asked suddenly.
Serenity looked at her surprised. "Um…nothing much," she answered honestly. "She was an only child and her mother was the only living relative she seemed to have. As far as she ever told me, she grew up in magical London and her mother still lives there…but I don't think any of that is true. If she was being honest with me back at the Lair then her family is long dead."
Locket sighed. "You're right about that," she nodded. "We went ahead and checked up on her records. Everything was falsified. If she is who she claims to be…well, all her relatives have already passed away and from the time she turned 28, nothing is known. She just disappeared and then reappeared again shortly after you were born."
"So we can't confirm anything?" Serenity asked slowly. "Whether she was lying or not?"
"I'm afraid not," Locket shook her head. "But considering how everything went down in the Lair and with her obvious desire to end things…cruelly, then I wouldn't doubt it."
Serenity nodded in understanding.
"I am sorry, Serenity," Locket continued. "I know how much she meant to you…and regardless of whether or not she told the truth…she did try to kill you. I know that is not something ease to reconcile."
Serenity nodded. "Thank you."
They sat in silence for several seconds before anyone spoke again.
"And what of the rest?" Hathen prodded warily. "The Ka'Racens and the Pixies? It seems the Realm of Magical Creatures is suffering more then we knew."
"Yes, so it seems," Brown agreed and his brows furrowed in concentration. "Gent, Livingston, I expect reports from both of you on this first thing tomorrow. Obviously our foreign relations with the Realm of Magical Creatures need to be revisited."
"Of course," they both looked grim but nodded in agreement.
Locket shifted through the parchments before her and then turned to look at them again. "And what do you intend to do now?" she asked finally. "You took this case…and I presume this job with the sole intention of solving the Hearts' murder." She paused and let her gaze rest on both Serenity and Daniel. "You succeeded. So where to do intend to go now?"
Serenity hesitated. She had asked herself that question already…and she wasn't sure she was ready to answer it.
"I have no intention of leaving the Department or the Witches' Council," Daniel answered instead. "I may have come here solely to help Serenity but my job as an Onseer is something I value very much and something I would like to keep doing so long as you allow me."
Locket nodded, seemingly pleased with his answer. But Serenity saw the look of disapproval that was shared between his parents. They had never been supportive of Daniel's decision to join the Council.
"I do not think I'll be remaining with the Department," Serenity forced herself to speak. "Or with the Council at all."
There was a silence. Serenity saw surprise flash across Locket's face. Even Brown and the Wish Moore's looked taken aback. Next to her, Brianna's hands twitched on her lap. Serenity refused to look over at Daniel. She didn't want to see his reaction. She didn't think she could handle seeing it.
"May I ask why?" Locket looked genuinely sorrowful.
"You said it already," Serenity answered gently. "I took this job to solve my parents' murder…this wasn't a choice I made out love for the job or mission of the department. Please do not misunderstand me, I love the people I met here and the people I was able to work with but right now, I need to walk away from the place where my parents worked and the job that ultimately ended with taking everything and everyone I had…right now, I need to be away. Perhaps I'll join the Council again in the future."
Locket looked heartbroken. "I want you to reconsider," she spoke carefully. "But you are right…this is a place that will always remind you of a very dark part of your life."
Serenity nodded in agreement.
"Well, just to do things according to protocol, we will give you three weeks to make your final decision," Cornwall added simply, shifting through his parchments and taking down a short note. "By then, whatever decision you make will be the final but you must understand, you will not be allowed to return to the Witches' Council as Onseer again. That is policy."
Serenity felt a wave of surprise. Never able to be an Onseer again. Was she really going to give that up? She took a deep breath before nodding in understanding.
"Well, before we move on to the last matters at hand," Brown said simply, "Is there anything else we need to know?"
Serenity glanced at Daniel and Brianna. They both shook their heads.
"I don't think so," Serenity shook her head in answer. "But there is one thing I would like to bring up."
"Go ahead," Brown nodded.
"As you all know, Ashley was my legal guardian," she began carefully. "And while I consider myself capable of looking after myself, I do understand that I am still a minor and that the Council needs to process someone as my new guardian."
"You are correct," Brown agreed. "We intended to bring this up as well."
Serenity nodded in understanding. "I would like to request permission to have Garth Soevel appointed as my legal guardian," she said finally and her voice trembled faintly. "If he is willing to take me in as his charge."
A wave of surprise rippled through the room. Brown, Locket and the Wish Moores all looked taken aback…even Brianna and Daniel sitting next to her shifted in their seats. She didn't blame them; she had made the decision that very morning and told no one…she looked up to meet Soevel's gaze and found a faint smile tugging at his lips.
Serenity felt that the same wave of guilt hit her again. She was going to make up it for it…for everything she had said and thought of him.
"Well, I see no problem with that," Brown spoke finally. "If Soevel is willing then we can process that arrangement."
"I would be happy to look after Serenity," Soevel added calmly. "There are some things you do not know however, Serenity, that you need to consider before making this your final decision."
Serenity looked at him curiously. "Yes?"
"Well…the first and perhaps most important is that I have a son," he answered smiling crookedly. "He is already a grown man, twenty years of age but for reasons that are not worth mentioning here, he is still living with me. Which means you would not only be accepting me into your life as your guardian but you would be accepting him as well."
"Oh," Serenity said thoughtfully. He had a son? That was strangely a pleasant surprise. "Well…I don't particularly mind but as you know, I live in the Mortal Realm and it would be cruel of me to ask him to relocate there. Perhaps it's cruel of me to ask that of you…"
Suddenly she realized she hadn't really thought about how her life would change if Soevel was her guardian.
"Actually, that brings up something that we wanted to talk to you about," Jordan Cellings spoke up. "As Head of the Department of Mortal Regulations, I maintain a close watch on the witches and wizards that live in the Moral Realm. Your parents had made a good case for relocating you into the Mortal Realm upon your birth but now, with everything that has happened, the Council thinks it best for you to return here, to the Realm of Magic."
Serenity felt herself gape. "Move out?" she asked surprised. "Where to?"
"We were going to give you the option of moving into your parent's manor, not too far from Magical London," Cellings answered. "Or move in with your legal guardian. That is a decision that needs to be made between you and Soevel, assuming that decision is final."
"Is it really necessary?" she asked slowly. "For me to move out of the Mortal Realm?"
That place had been her home, she had grown up there and she knew nothing else. Even if she had been born in the Realm of Magic, Gravesends was her home.
"I'm afraid so," Cellings nodded and he smiled at her gently. "We only allow wizards and witches to move there when there is a clear and obvious reason for its necessity. But you, you are a witch and to be honest, your parents never allowed you to integrate properly into the wizarding world. You cannot live two lives…it is very challenging to do so. And there are regulations and restrictions that your parents never spoke to you about regarding their stay in Gravesend. If you opt to stay there then your ability to use magic…to return to the Realm of Magic will be severely limited. What your parents had is not something we are willing to do for anyone…not even you, Miss Heart."
"Also, we cannot properly protect you if you stay in the Mortal Realm," Sean Parkers added.
"Protect me?" Serenity repeated warily. "From what? Ashley is dead."
Parkers glanced at Locket. She nodded silently.
"There is something you do not know, Miss Heart," Parkers continued simply. "Your parents' death did not come as a complete surprise to us. While I am sure you have heard that your parents had a reputation that made them many enemies, they were always able to protect themselves from those threats.
"However, about ten years ago, we started seeing strange crimes and threats popping up all over the nation. People dying by an art of dark magic that is not sanctioned…it was seemingly random at first, the deaths. But it has slowly escalated to organized crime and murder. About five years ago, we had several families come to us with personalized death threats…notes that had been delivered to them in a language we couldn't decipher. But the families, they could read it and what they translated for us was terrifying and cruel beyond words." He paused for a moment before continuing. "Six months before your parents disappeared they received a letter…just like what we had seen from the other families…while the threats did not extend to you, I do not think it safe for you to remain in the Mortal Realm. The Department of Defense will not be able to protect you there and you will be placing all those defenseless people in danger. You must understand why we want you to move here."
Serenity stared, feeling vaguely overwhelmed with everything he had just said.
"Those families…" Daniel spoke suddenly. "What happened to them?"
Parkers sighed. "They have all died. Unexplainably."
"Ten years?" Burksman suddenly looked livid. "This has been going on for ten years and you didn't think to tell us?"
"Mass panic is not something I approve of," Parkers snapped, his gaze furious. "The people who needed to know were informed."
"And what? The public doesn't deserve to know there's something out there unexplainably killing whole families?" Burksman didn't let down.
"Locket and I have been working on this tirelessly," Parkers argued irritably. "And don't act like the public doesn't know, your Department has covered each and every death, making profit from their loss. Simply because your journalists can't put all the pieces together is not my fault."
"Parkers is right," Sparrows spoke before Burksman could start a fight. "The public doesn't need to know what links all those deaths. And my Department is also working on it. We have run into the same problems you have, I'm sure but that doesn't mean we won't stop working on it." He turned his gaze towards Serenity. "But it does mean that you shouldn't be on your own in a place with limited magical aid. I agree with Cellings and with Parkers. You should move back into the Realm of Magic."
"But you haven't been able to save a single family, have you?" Serenity asked carefully. "What makes you think you can protect me?"
Sparrows smiled in amusement. "Nothing, really," he shrugged simply. "But at least we can try and we can only do that if you're here."
Serenity sighed heavily. She had so many questions but she knew now wasn't really the time. "Alright," she agreed. "I'll move back into the Realm of Magic."
Relief flickered across Locket's face. "Thank you," she smiled. "And are you sure about Soevel? I do not mean to question you but I had actually hoped to offer you my home."
Serenity looked at her surprised. A smile spread across Brianna's face.
Serenity felt instantly torn. "Thank you," she smiled at her kindly. "I am honored that you would offer your home to me but my decision remains the same. I would like for it to be Soevel and if that means I must live with his son…I am willing to do so."
She saw Brianna slump next to her but her mother merely nodded in understanding.
"Alright then," Locket agreed calmly. "Celling and Cornwall will help you both through that process."
Both men nodded in agreement.
"Well, that officially brings us to the last matters at hand," Brown spoke sighing heavily. "Falcron of Ghaledrin…you know why we've summoned you?"
Serenity glanced at Falcron from the corner of her eyes. She didn't like knowing that he had been summoned. It made her nervous.
Falcron leaned forward. "Apart from the role that I played in the search for the Pearl of Power," he began carefully, "I suspect I am here to discuss my stay in the Realm of Magic."
Brown nodded and turned his gaze towards Adam Gent, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations.
"Yes, you know the polices that keep peace between our Realms," Gent spoke for Brown. "You were Protector of the Realm of Beasts, after all. It should come as no surprise to you that you cannot stay in the Realm of Magic."
Serenity felt herself tense. Falcron had to leave?
"I am aware of the policies," he nodded. "I intended to stay only until I knew that Serenity and Daniel would both be safe." He glanced at them both. "While I know there is much for them to do in the aftermath of what has occurred, I understand that there is nothing I can do to help them here." He paused and his gaze met hers. Serenity held her breath. "I will be returning to the Realm of Beasts in three days time."
"No!" Serenity felt herself cry out before she could stop herself.
Everyone turned to look at her.
"Miss Heart, there is nothing that can be done," Gent began simply.
"No," she cut him off. "You cannot take him from me…" she could feel herself begin to panic. "I don't have much of a family anymore…not after all this and Falcron, he's important to me. Please…don't make me lose someone else too."
Gent looked pained. He hesitated before his spoke. "The only way to extend his stay is to make a request to the Kingdom of Ghaledrin," he said finally.
"Then make the request," Serenity knew she was being unreasonable but she didn't care. This was Falcron. She wasn't letting him go. Not after everything they had all shared together.
"Serenity," it was Falcron who spoke now. "In all the time since the policies have been drafted, I know only of one case when a za'vac was allowed to stay indefinitely in the Realm of Magic. And the reasons were a matter of security for both realms. I was granted permission to travel along side you and stay beside you because of the Pearl of Power. I suspect that is the only reason we haven't heard from Ghaledrin but if I stay any longer, they will know about the stone and it should be me who gives them that news."
Serenity shook her head in denial. She wanted to argue with him but who was she to stand above his kingdom and his people? She suddenly felt like crying.
"Actually, Ghaledrin has already sent a messenger looking for you," Gent spoke up. "Two weeks after the Guardian brought you all here, a messenger came asking to know what had occurred and why you had crossed over into this realm. Because both Wish Moore and Heart were still in the hospital, we knew nothing of what had happened. It was challenging but I managed to negotiate the following agreement with them: Falcron was allowed to stay until they both recovered. Once they awoke, he could only stay until the Council had gathered all the information we could about what had occurred. That would mark the end of his obligation to Miss Heart and this Realm."
"I see," Falcron said calmly. "Thank you for making that arrangement. As per the negotiations made, I will leave the Realm of Magic immediately."
It took all of Serenity's willpower not to start crying.
"Thank you," Gent replied in appreciation.
"Actually that will not be necessary," Pearl suddenly spoke. "Falcron, you will remain in the Realm of Magic and if you must directly ask permission from the King and Queen of Ghaledrin then you will do so."
Everyone stared at her. Serenity felt her heart stop. She couldn't take much more of this. Was Falcron leaving her or not?
"What?" Falcron looked just as surprised as everyone else.
"You may not be of use to Serenity or Daniel anymore," Pearl agreed simply. "But I will soon need your aide and that requires you remain by my side, here in the Realm of Magic. We'll renegotiate with Ghaledrin."
Falcron looked momentarily at a loss for words. "Alright," he spoke finally. "If the Guardian needs me then I might be able to arrange something with my people."
Pearl smiled crookedly. "I fully expect you to."
"Wait," Brown cut in hurriedly. "You intend to remain here? In the Realm of Magic?"
"In the meantime, yes," Pearl nodded. "My Lair was destroyed and I had lived in that place for many years…until I find somewhere new to protect the powers of the Pearl then I will remain here. As a guest of Serenity and Soevel's if they will house me."
"I will not deny the Guardian a place to stay," Soevel said easily.
Serenity nodded in agreement. "Nor will I."
The Council all looked vaguely surprised.
"Well, we cannot deny you anything either," Brown said finally. "You are the Guardian and it is to your discretion to decide where to hide yourself and your newly acquired powers. Please just try to be discrete. You do after all call a lot of attention to yourself when you carry your title so openly. And as you have already heard, we are in the midst of an unknown danger. It would be to everyone's benefit, I presume, that no one knows what happened to the stone and it's powers."
"I will be more careful from now on," Pearl agreed.
"Thank you," Brown nodded and then leaned back into his chair. "I do believe that is all," he glanced at his fellow members. "Did I forget anything?"
"No, I think you're right," Locket answered. "Unless anyone has anything else they'd like to bring up then this meeting can come to a close."
Everyone glanced at each other, glancing down briefly at their notes before shaking their heads. It was done.
"Well, then, this officially concludes the meeting," Brown stood up as he spoke. "Those of you that were given tasks to attend to, please complete them as soon as you can." He paused momentarily before adding, "You are dismissed."
Noise rose in the room as everyone began to talk and whisper. Serenity and the others excused themselves politely before walking out. They stepped out into the marble hallway and walked out towards the balcony that rested at the top of the half-moon staircase.
"Does anyone know how to get out of here?" Daniel asked suddenly as they came to a stop at the top of the staircase.
Brianna laughed. "I haven't even ever seen this wing of the Council," she answered simply. "I still don't even understand how we got here."
"Not many are granted access to these Halls," Soevel's voice floated into their midst as he caught up with them. The Wish Moores came up behind him. "I can lead you out, if you'd like."
"Yes, please," Daniel nodded simply. Serenity noticed that he avoided making eye contact with his parents.
They followed Soevel out in silence.
"Are we finally going to talk about what just happened?" Brianna demanded as they all piled into Serenity and Daniel's office. She personally was still reeling from everything she had heard earlier.
It was just her, Daniel, Serenity and Falcron now. Pearl had left with Soevel, giving no good reason but simply asking to speak with him. He, of course, had not denied her. Daniel's parents had also wanted to take Daniel away with them but he had beaten them to it before they even spoke. He had promised to meet them at their office if they could give him an hours' time. They had looked displeased but agreed nonetheless.
Serenity sighed in response and dropped down into one of the large reading chairs, Daniel simply leaned against his desk as Falcron silently took his place standing against the far wall. Everyone looked faintly tired…and worried.
Brianna bit her lip. "Are you really thinking about quitting?" she looked at Serenity warily. Someone needed to start asking the questions.
Serenity closed her eyes. "I was," she answered finally. "Now, I'm not so sure."
"What changed your mind?" Falcron asked curiously.
"What was said in there," Serenity answered softly, her eyes still closed. "Ashley's bracelet…I wasn't expecting anything of what happened in there."
"I don't think any of us were," Daniel muttered simply.
Brianna shifted on her feet. "Deckner seemed genuinely worried," she began carefully. "You don't think they're real, do you? The Ghalamyns?"
There was a momentary silence.
"Ashley said she had someone she needed the Pearl for," Serenity spoke finally; her voice was always so flat and resigned whenever she spoke of that night. "Maybe that someone introduced her to the history and the ideals of the Ghalamyns…maybe that was the power she spoke of when she challenged me."
"But if that were true," Brianna began nervously. "Then she was helping bring back an organization that once terrorized the wizarding world…"
Serenity didn't respond.
"Lets just hope we're overreacting," Daniel said instead. "Right now all we can do is speculate."
"But what about those strange crimes and the letters…and the deaths?" Brianna pressed nervously. "Doesn't this all seem way to strange to just be coincidences?"
"We don't know enough to make any conclusions about how that may or may not be related to what happened with the Pearl and Ashley," Daniel argued simply. "And I don't think we're going to know much more. It seems your mother and Parkers both are working hard to keep that information tightly controlled. We're not going to find out anything new unless they share it with us."
"They said they knew my parents were going to die," Serenity spoke up suddenly. "Perhaps I can convince them to share that letter with me…the one my parents' received."
"Maybe," Daniel muttered thoughtfully. "Though I can see them denying you the letter if you chose to leave the Department…everything about that whole situation seems to be in the hands of a very select group of people. It doesn't really seem like they would want to let any of us know what's really going on."
Annoyance settled on Serenity's face.
Brianna frowned. "I'll see what I can find out," she decided finally.
"Be careful," Daniel warned her immediately. "Now that they know everything, I wouldn't doubt it if the Council kept a closer watch on you…on all of us really. So please don't get yourself into trouble, Brianna."
"I can handle this," she assured him. "I know this place better then anyone."
"And yet you had never seen the halls we walked today," Falcron retorted easily.
Brianna colored in embarrassment. "Fair enough," she wanted to argue with him but she knew he was right. She had never seen those halls before. "And that makes me nervous too," she added thoughtfully. "I know that what happened with all of you while looking for the Pearl of Power is of importance but to let us into their obviously well hidden halls…and to let six Expressionless sit in…I didn't like any of that."
"Things seem to be changing," Daniel nodded as he frowned worriedly. "You were right. Something is happening here…and I don't know if I even what to know what it is."
No one responded. Brianna bit at her lip nervously again.