The next morning was Sunday so Caro went to Catholic mass by herself while Josef and the Professor went to meet with Benoit Bastille and Morgan Fay. After mass she went to confession and admitted to her priest that she wasn't feeling particularly respectful of her parents. She spoke to Father Kelley at length. He already knew about her mother and step-father. He'd been counseling her on that for years. She tried, while maintaining the secrets she knew she needed to keep, to explain her recent argument with Professor Spillane.
"If your father believes that this man or the person he is going to meet today is dangerous then he is right to protect you," Father Kelley told her, "It is his sacred duty to protect his child. It is your sacred duty to obey him, at least until you are married."
To her immense frustration Father Kelley agreed with her father. Caro's temper flared so hotly she was surprised the Church didn't catch fire. Caro gritted her teeth in mute protest. She left more unhappy than she'd ever been leaving Church.
When Caro arrived home the manor was still quite empty. She cleaned her room and did her schoolwork and there was still no sign of her father or his protege. She tried to read but her mind kept arguing itself in circles about whether or not she should have gone with them. It hadn't occurred to her earlier to just follow along behind them and now she wished it had.
Caro went to practice her sewing, putting together a small pillow and filling the inside with dried flowers. It was a project she'd started at the beginning of the year and she had more or less lost interest in it. She finished one pillow and began another before she heard the Professor's car pull up outside.
She put her needle away carefully, as much as she would have preferred to run to the door. Caro had experience with stray needles and she didn't want to find one in her reading chair later. As soon as her project was packed away in her sewing kit she allowed herself to bolt down the stairs.
"What happened?" she demanded of the three of them.
"It was truly magic!" Josef said, excitedly, "I didn't believe it would really recognize him and answer to his call but it did."
"What was it?" Caro asked, bewildered.
"It was a firebird," Teyrn told her, then added, "Like the Phoenix that is reborn from its ashes."
"Cool," Caro responded, eyeing them for wounds. Teyrn had a couple of scratches.
"Is everyone okay?" she asked him.
"Stupid bird recognized its owner but not before it scratched me," Teyrn grumbled, "It's okay. It only burns a little."
"There were bodyguards," Josef added, "But not enough of them."
"Caro, our new friend asked me to give this to you," the Professor handed her an envelope.
She pulled out a letter written in elegant swirling script and held up the brightly glowing plume of fiery red, orange, and yellow that had been folded into the note.
I have promised that your friends will be paid handsomely for their help today. The money will help your young classmates the most, I think. However, for your bravery and kindness, freely given, I have another kind of gift. Please know that your purity of heart is a greater value than any amount of physical strength. This plume of a Firebird is everlasting and when not concealed it can light an entire room.
Your true friend,
Caro examined the bright plume. In the full light of day it didn't seem terribly extraordinary. She turned and ran up to her room, pulling all of the curtains closed and hiding in her bed with those curtains pulled around her as well. The feather burned its brightness like a small bonfire, lighting up her wide smile.