• Chapter 6
    One alarm, to many…

    By the time everyone was packing, Zeal had already left the small hut and wandering around the village. People looked up when Zeal was wandering there village “Yes, we will stop this war.” She muttered to herself as she looked at the bright moon, it was almost full now, leaving little time to get to Carnsian, the capital of King Thrim’s region, and little time for the fear that was growing inside Zeal. Zeal remembered when she had talked to the seer, you couldn’t see it, for the seer could only be heard under the night sky on a blue moon in the river, you had to peer down into it’s depths as you watched the reflection. One slight movement and its voice would disappear. “I know why you have presented yourself before me…” The voice said as Zeal watched the brightest star that glowed it’s reflection in the water.
    “SILENCE” He boomed, “Fire and Water will become one. The earth will fear and rain will turn to salt. 2 will present themselves before you around a special liquid while the other will appear far away from home. And one shall lead with a fire in her heart…” The moon was covered by a cloud, it went dark and the water became ripples. “Wait!” Zeal cried, “please! Tell me what you mean!” But it had been too late; the seer’s voice was gone.

    The girls and Chal were waiting in the Town square, they laughed when they saw Zeal with a frustrated face. Everyone seemed happier now, but Zeal could not help thinking about how Morgan was not here with them. Zeal walked back with them to the front gate and stopped, “O.K., we need god speed to get to Carnsian, I think…” She stopped, a feeling of dread had washed over her all of a sudden, like something bad was going to happen if she walked past the gate. “I think they aren’t going to let us go so easily!” she muttered. Zeal slipped her hand into her jean pocket and dropped into a crouch. Taking out a throwing knife, she threw it across and hit the line, direct hit.

    An alarm went off and elves dashed out of their hiding places, “Going somewhere?” An elf lunged at her and Zeal countered with a punch straight in the elves arrogant face. She threw fire at another and felt a course of pain flow up and down her arm. An elf had hit with a sword and was coming in for another hit, “NO!” a gush of water slammed into the elf’s side and he flew half way across court, jarring him in shock. Zeal turned and let out a sigh of relief, “thanks, Elizabeth, I owe you one.” Elizabeth nodded and turned her attention back to a group of hunting dogs, which had been following her all over, snapping at her heels.

    Zeal backed up and felt something brush up against her back, she glanced back to see Chal concentrating on two elves coming up on the side. She released a spurt a fire at on and flipped up her leg, it connected with the elf’s stomach and he fell to the ground groaning. Chal engulfed another in fire and sent him screaming into the night.
    Zeal caught her breath and scanned the area, Aria was fighting off 3 elf’s that were throwing knives at her, she slipped into the tree’s and the elves looked around angrily, suddenly she threw their own weapons at them, (which were melting in the heat of the fire she had put on it.) Two hit one elf in the arm and crippled, the other flew into the elves mouth and he let out a silent scream, falling onto the pavement with a thud.

    Piper was drawing water out of a nearby creek and literality drowning another elf right there. She lost her footing and the elf saw his chance, he jumped and plunged a knife into her left leg. She screamed out in pain and Devyn came to her aid, throwing the elf into a giant crack of earth, then closing it again.

    Zeal noticed an elf coming in on her right and she slid her foot forcefully against the ground, fire struck up like a match and she tripped the elf. He fell straight into her flaming fist and she burned him on the shoulder, bringing up her foot she slammed into his gut. He stumbled and tripped on a tree root. Then, there was silence.
    There were no more elves running at them, but running away, Zeal walked over to Piper and watched Devyn mend her leg, “She’s O.K. But she isn’t going very far…” Devyn’s voice betrayed her words, worry written all over her face. She picked Piper up and they all walked out of the gate, (regular size) leaving the village behind. They had only got one half a mile when they spotted a hospital, It was bright painted, with the red cross right on the door. The band reached the front counter. Zeal smiled wearily and looked the lady in the face, “My friend here is hurt, will you take her in?” The lady looked up and jumped when she saw Zeal’s half bloody face, “Why don’t we get you all fixed up?” They led them to a room for Piper and they left her with a doctor, who promised to take good care of her, cause Piper was out cold. They washed up and got their clothes washed, “dear,” said the lady warmly. “You should buy some clothes that would fit here.” The lady hadn’t seen a shirt with the name Abercrombie stitched on it. They left the hospital, a bit fresher than before. Zeal glanced around, they were tired, but happy. I wonder where Morgan is…

    - .:.:. - .:.:. - .:.:. -

    Morgan, in fact, was now at a castle. The castle of Agmagtheria, the main city. “Let me go!” she screamed, though she was losing her voice from all the yelling and pounding she had done, failing miserably at getting away from her captors. “You’re all freaks!” The Narthrian solider glanced at her, “Once we get to the torture room, I’ll be glad to let you go, to your death…” he, or she snapped. Morgan didn’t really know what it was. Out on the horizon, a black castle rose up, it was towering over them as they passed through the gate. It was paved with metal, and the sides were extremely cold. Not somewhere you would like to go for your summer vacation. Morgan grimaced at the sight of more soldiers; they seemed so obedient, like they were here for more purpose than betrayed. As they passed the training Narthrians, she tried to give them the meanest glare possible.
    One of the soldiers in particular caught her eye, and he stopped his training and gave her a curious look that sparkled in his grey-pool eyes.
    Then, he winked at her.
    Morgan scrunched her face up in confusion and watched as the drill sergeant yelled at him to get back to work, and he turned away from her just as she passed into the doors of inside.

    She breathed in like they were to take her breath away and cram it in a bottle; forever sealing it away. “Where are you taking me? What’s happening? I demand answers!” Without replying, the solider that was carrying her dropped her roughly on the ground. They were in what seemed to be a throne room, and a dark figure sat on it throne. It rose up and laughed, “What is this!? Have the Obsidians gotten so desperate already?” It spat on the ground, “how pathetic!”
    Morgan scrambled up and faced the creature, but as it revealed it face, all her courage was demolished like she had been hit with a wrecking ball. It was actually a he, and he had a terrifying face. His eyes flashed red with evil and his face was carved with wisdom, yet he was not old. Evil schemes basically swam around him, for he had the look of brimming with it. He was wearing a long black coat, he had large ears and no eyebrows, with a large, boasting mouth to go with the rest of his ugly features. Morgan blinked and regained her lost composure, “they are not desperate! But you soon will be buddy!” He laughed and picked up a nearby cup of wine, sipping it delicately. “Feisty, aren’t we? I guess I could keep you alive for maid service. But you are so puny, what good could you do for high shelves?” The cup emptied through his eager drinking and he threw it at a solider. “Fill this up and make it snappy! Or I’ll tear your hands in two!” The solider bowed and scurried away. “Now…” he turned to Morgan, “what do you know of the Obsidians plans?” Morgan shook her head, “I’ll never tell you! Ugly!” she spat at him, keeping distance and well out of firing range. He laughed, which shook the ground beneath her feet. “Fine, you will talk, but for now.” He turned and pointed to a door. “To the dungeon with you!” The word dungeon sent shivers up Morgan’s spine, at earth, it would’ve never even have come up. Dungeon was a word used in kiddy games, make-believe. But this was real, and not for little ones.

    “NO!” Morgan shrieked as they picked her up and descended down a long, dark staircase. They pushed her into a chamber and slammed the metal door. “I wonder how long she survives.” “Probably until the rats pick her bones.” Their laughs echoed around the creepy chamber, she was alone. Morgan slumped onto the ground, all fierceness gone from every sadden bone in her limp body. She shuddered, the only movement she could manage in such a dreadful situation. The water dripped down and splashed to the floor, the only noise in the chamber. Morgan felt like this was the end, but regret did not sweep over her, just the feeling of failure. I’ve failed everyone, my friends and my family. Obsedia…
    She looked up and scanned the room, there was a small window, just barely big enough for whatever they wanted to slid through. It was dark, the walls were made of a black stone that seemed to once of been shiny and smooth, but now it was crumbling. Morgan touched the stone and slid her hand down it, pebbles fell to the floor and even a chunk crashed to the ground. The guard outside shuffled to the window, peering in with a glare. “What’s going on in there?” He had a gruff voice, it was slightly slurred, telling her that he wasn’t to good at speaking English. Morgan glared back at him, “you have bad interior decorating.” The Narthrian sniffed at her and turned away. Not wanting to get the guards attention again, she sat down cross-legged and thought. But soon, even in the cold chamber, she fell asleep.

    - .:.:. - .:.:. - .:.:. -

    It was hard to concentrate in their situation. The group had reached the meeting place with Zirconia and was already flying to Carnsian. With the wind rushing in Zeal’s face and the occasional bug getting caught in her mouth, Zeal didn’t want to think about what would happen when they reached the capital city of her fathers region. But the thoughts of meeting the welcoming crowds, servants and the troubles of royalty kept creeping into her head, poking and jabbing until she leaned her head against Zirconia’s cool scales. The throbbing went away, and she glanced back at the rest of them.
    Chal was used to this, they rode on Zirconia’s back all the time. But Storm and Elizabeth were looking down uncertainly, and Aria had already thrown up. Zeal grimaced, not wanting to think about how or where she did it. Instinct made her look down, they were flying over the capital. Bright lights were lit like a beacon on top of buildings and on the streets, and Zeal realized that they were for her. She leaned until she was reasonably close to Zirconia’s ear, “I don’t want to meet the welcome wagon.” Slight disgust edged her voice, “take us straight to the palace.” Zirconia nodded and took a quick and unexpected turn to the right, avoiding the gates of the city. They all lurched to one side and Zeal gripped the rough but sharp scales of Zirconia’s dragon skin as they felt themselves lower to the ground. Zirconia slowed and landed on the palace with a great thud, tipping to one side to let her passengers slid off.
    Aria and Elizabeth slivered to the ground and lay there, there eye’s almost spinning with everything else. But they got up and wobbled over to Zeal and Chal, while Storm had run ahead to check for guards. They all trotted over to the corner and peeked over the corner. Almost falling over in surprise when Storm showed up, “no one. But I found a clothesline.” They all looked at her with puzzled looks until Storm snapped: “Cloaks! There are cloaks for us to-” Chal cut her off, “borrow?” He smirked and strode past, picking out a dark blue cloak of thick fabric. Zeal chose a black cloak while Aria and Storm were debating over who got the last purple one. Eventually Zeal found a dark purple cape and handed it to Aria with a scowl on her face. “Take it! You’ll get a different one later!” Meaning that the palace servants would get the finest cloaks and capes on the planet and present them to them later, if they were caught.

    They found a window that was very small, and Chal and Zeal exchanged puzzled looks when they had come back from searching the entire perimeter of the palace.
    She cleared her throat uneasily to gather the girl’s attention, “um…we cannot find another way in by the outside without going in through the front gates.” She glanced around awkwardly and then settled on Aria. The fire student blinked at her teacher in confusion, then looked down at the small window into the gold hallway. “You want me to…go through there and open up a door on the inside?” She squatted down until her legs were hanging over the edge of the open window and glanced up at Zeal like a small child about to go on a trip without guidance. Her eye’s made Zeal’s skin prickle uneasily, Zeal did not like the idea anymore then Aria did. But this window was used for when she was only little and now Zeal was much to big, and the only person small enough was Aria; who wasn’t familiar with the palace and could easily get lost. Zeal nodded and withdrew a silver key and a map from her pack, handing it to Aria slowly as if she was already thinking twice about her choice. She shook her head and set her mouth in a firm line, this was the only way. The map crinkled as Zeal opened it up and pointed to a black dot on the palace map. “You’ll go down that hallway,” she gestured down to the one below them, “and then cross the dining hall.” Many thoughts whirled in the princess’s head, then she snagged one that almost had gotten away from her. Zeal looked around, “Oh no…”
    “What!?” Aria’s eyes darted to Zeal’s face and watched as Zeal smiled wearily at her. “One more thing…”

    - .:.:. - .:.:. - .:.:. -

    White lights blinded Piper’s eyes; a buzzing noise came from a distance and closer, louder. A voice drifted into her ear, “we know who you are…” Piper narrowed her eyes as a flash brightened the room and then went dark. She sat up cautiously and her eyes darted around suspiciously. “What do you mean?” She said aloud, trying to sound confused, but her eyes gave her away. The voice boomed, “Traitor!” it did not lessen in noise. “Traitor!” Piper knew she had been found out, dashing for the door and down the hallway. She tried to get away, skidding down slippery floors and pushing nurses out of the way. “Watch it!” She growled as she shoved a doctor over, slamming into the front doors and felt the gash in her leg ache with pain. The doors let out a loud creak as Piper gritted her teeth and pushed the doors open. Light flooded into the hallway and the stunned girl stumbled forward blindly.
    “Don’t let her get away!”
    “She’s betrayed the princess!”
    The words and screams of hatred meant nothing to her, it was just words from stupid, useless creatures. Piper fled the hurls of rocks and arrows, her thoughts racing as fast as she was running. I must not fail.
    It seemed hours before they stopped chasing after her, Piper had darted up a tree and waited for the Obsidians to finally give up and return to the hospital. When they had left, Piper slid down from the tree and crumpled to the forest floor. Her mind was spinning as she fumbled with a small bead and then cracked it in half, she was shivering; not from the cold but from the fear of facing her master. A green light glowed and flickered until a fierce face appeared so suddenly that Piper yelped quietly in surprise, “quiet!” The glowing red eyes were hypnotizing Piper as her yelp died down to a whimper. Holding her stomach and grimacing in pain her eye’s fell to the ground, “I was stabbed twice, the doctors had found out my secret.” Her eye’s flickered up, but the eyes of her master were to much and she felt another shot of pain fly down her stomach to her leg. “How?” Was all he said, yet it was tainted with scowls and fiery. Piper’s hands shook as she looked through her pack, and then moaned as she realized that the woman at the front counter had taken her hoodie, which had the message from the apothecary in it. She curled up and whimpered: “They found the message master.”
    “The message? The one with the potion for a swift diseased death?”
    “Yes.” Was all Piper could manage. But she looked up eagerly, “I remembered the whole recipe though, if I can make it in time and cut off there messaging system I can still…” Her master cut her off, his eye’s boring into Pipers. “Hurry, and do not fail!” He scowled her as the bead melted into the ground and Piper said: “Yes master, I will not.” The ground was still tipping from side to side as Piper got up and wobbled forward. Piper had one goal, and she was not going to face the wrath of her master again.

    - .:.:. - .:.:. - .:.:. -

    The green sash swished in front of her, and the veil of flowers tumbled in front of her face while she tripped over the silk green dress. White make-up had been put on her cheeks and drawn down until they became swirls on her neck. It all seemed to come to form in her memory, but she could not remember where she had seen the get-up. The golden hallway was warm and comforting, paintings were hung on the wall with fruit, beaches or forests with shafts of lights streaming from the lush green canopy trees. Aria looked back at the window that was sitting steadily above an expense book case and felt an unease settle in her stomach like a wet stone from a river in the mud. She walked with as much grace as she could muster in her unsettling situation down the hall and turned. Almost bumping into a large man that was wearing a large coat with white cuffs on the sleeves. He looked down at her and smiled sweetly, “Name?” He asked as he withdrew a golden-brown parchment paper and looked at her quizzically when Aria could not think of one. She stood there, gathered her courage and was about to say she made a wrong turn when a young man of the age of 14 swept to her side and slipped his arm into hers. Aria was so surprised that she just glanced at him with a smile. He winked at her and then turned to the guard, “Sir Awden. This young lady is with me. She’s from the local Academy, surely you know?” The boy was so confident in his words that Sir Awden only smiled and opened the chestnut-brown in carved door and swept them into the bustling ballroom. The room was crowded, much to crowded for Aria to push the boy away. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “you can thank me later. After you have explained why you’re here.” His voice was sly and mysterious, and Aria gulped at the thought of standing before him as the two glided through the mass of dancing people and went into a room. It was a quiet room; the walls were ruby red with detailed golden swirls frisking upon them like fireflies in the moonlight. The bed was big, with black covers and pillows, while there was a rich brown dresser and another door. Now that she had a clear look at him, he reminded her of someone, and who ever it was he reminded her of they looked remarkably alike. Brown hair with natural gold streaks and some red mahogany streaks as well. He had sharp, brilliantly green eyes complimented with long dark eyelashes and semi-full lips. The boy pulled up a chair and sat in it, glaring intently at Aria, “explain.” The words had no threat, but who knew what lurked beneath them? Aria flashed a glare of defiance at him while she perked her chin up and said: “Why should I?”
    “You’re human, aren’t you?” The boy replied.
    “Yeah, so what? I’m still not explaining anything!”
    He grinned mockingly and got up, stalking over to her before lighting a small flickering flame in his hand. Aria stared at the playful fire, watching it lick the air hungrily, looking for something to burn. But she had tricks of her own; a sly look came across her face and blew out some fire herself, just a few centimeters away from his fancy coat. He backed up, surprised and frustratingly snapped: “where did you learn that!?” before steadying himself. The air was heated and warm, just the way fire-carvers liked it. She advanced a few steps as she locked a mean gaze upon him, he leaned away and produced a silver key that looked just like the one Zeal had given her and opened a door. But to Aria it just looked like a trap, forgetting about what she was really meant to do, she shook her head when he asked if she’d like to take a fight outside and stopped. The boy nodded, half closing the door, “alright then.” He bowed, “Your name?” Aria stopped, surely there would be no harm in giving him her first name, “Aria.” He smiled, “Good name.” Half surprised, Aria blushed and nodded back to him. “Why did you help me?” It was the question that had been on Aria’s mind since she had first seen him. The boy raised a questioning eyebrow but let his own question die off into the silence, “because you looked lost, like a bunny in the dark forest.” It seemed a long time before Aria finally fully understood what he had said, it was an insult. “Why you…” She gritted her teeth and balled her small hands into fists, small but painful when she hit. He smirked and tipped his head to the side, standing straight up with a correct posture. He was obviously amused at Aria’s frustration. “You seem to losing your cool…” His voice was mocking and sickly sweet.
    A muffled grunt was heard from outside the half-opened door, and for a few minutes only the wind outside was heard. BAM! Suddenly it was kicked open all the way and a blurred shape flew into the room at lighting speed at the boy. It knocked him to the ground and the unknown blob wrestled with him, a whirlwind of torn cloaks. Aria blinked away dust that had settled in the beautiful room and was now realizing that 4 figures had shuffled quietly into the room and were yelling for the screeching mass of fighting to stop. It settled and Aria finally got to see what was happening. Zeal was on top of the growling boy, she snarled at him fiercely with sharp fangs. Her canine teeth were very sharp, and very big; almost touching her bottom gums, but not quite. Her snarl turned into a scowl when she gazed at him clearly, and his expression had turned into pure happiness. “Kin-Zeal!” He chimed happily, “you’re back! I’ve been waiting for moons!” Zeal sniffed at him before returning his grin, “Erik!” She blinked away the last bits of dust. “What are you doing in my room? Ruffling through my stuff again?” Her voice was angry, but teasing laced it. Aria stepped up and waved away a cloud of dust, coughing to interrupt this reunion. “Uh…” She narrowed her eyes, “you know him?” There was silence before Zeal caught what she said and blinked at her, puzzled.
    “Know him? He’s my brother!”

    Chapter 7

    It was so amazing, With a close look at the two Aria could tell that if Zeal cut her hair that you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. No wonder it had seemed Erik reminded her of somebody, that somebody was her own teacher! Zeal got up, dusted herself off and helped Erik up before shrugging, “We’re twins, born at the same time, same place, and same planet.” She laughed and hugged Erik tightly until it looked as though he could no longer breath. It took a few more minutes for them to stop talking, until they decided they would catch up on old times later. He strode up behind her and his eyes flashed with mischief, “well…now that you’re back, you can tell me what’s going on. Because I’m going with you.” It was a few brief moments before Zeal let out a sigh of exhaustion and narrowed her eyes, “you do not come with us. We have enough people as it is, now leave!” The words were spat out. Erik growled, “I will not! Not until someone tells me what is going on and I know that I will be coming with you! It’s bad enough that you disappeared on some secret mission and didn’t even bring me. Your own brother to!”
    “Not true!” Zeal snapped back, “Father sent me on the assignment! It wasn’t my decision! Go talk to him about it!” She whipped around to face him, “now go be a good little prince and get out of here!” Her lips once again drawn back in a sneer. Elizabeth caught something out of the corner of her eye and noticed that Chal was grinning now, she frowned and looked back at the argument. It had evaluated, now into the stages of yelling and putting there faces way to close to each other.
    “I’m not leaving!” Erik lashed back.
    “I will force you out of here if I have to!”
    “I’m not letting you walk away from me with just some apprentices!”
    Chal bristled, “just some apprentices!?” He shoved himself between the quarrelers and snapped at them both. “Stop it!” He then turned to Erik, and anyone could immediately see that neither boy liked each other whatsoever, and were now the center of argument contemplated with fierce glares. “I am not just an apprentice!” Chal retorted. Erik smiled mockingly, “oh? Well I’ll be sure to tell your teacher,” he leaned in and spat in his face, “apprentice!” It was only moments before Chal turned and walked to the other side of the room, sat down in a chair and watched from a far. Something this frustrating was to be handled by Zeal, because he knew all to well that it would just become a fight. Zeal sighed, neither boy had gotten along with one another. From the time when Chal had made his dinner explode in her brothers face to the time when Erik had feed Chal’s prized project to the neighborhood dog. Every since she was little Zeal could not get them to stop fighting, one thing said and BOOM! Huge explosion. “Guys…Can we just make-up for now? Something serious and more important is at hand and all you two care about is quarreling!” She glanced at both of them, waiting for an answer. When she got none, Zeal sighed in surrender and faced Aria and Elizabeth, alarmingly; Zeal had finally come to realize that she had lost a teacher and an apprentice and that she had lessened her chances of rescuing Morgan and getting her dad back, thus ending the war.

    The walls of her room seemed to grow big and mock her, making her feel dark, helpless and small. A hand touched her shoulder lightly; Chal. “You can do this, just get to the scholar and find the information.” Zeal nodded and took a deep breath.
    It was all she could do to keep from screaming.
    A half-an-hour later Elizabeth, Aria, Chal, Storm and Zeal had all dressed up so they could go through the dining party unnoticed. Aria, Storm and Elizabeth all wore the stunning black dresses that had one-cut-off shoulder and silk forms, with black gloves made to make their hands look delicate and fabric belts with tails on the front. While their hair all remained down, with the acceptation of Elizabeth, who had mildly tamed her wild, frizzy curls. Zeal appeared in a dress to contrast her followers (or as it was meant to appear as 3 high-positioned servants and their duchess.) In a striking white dress with a both-cut-off shoulder and small ruffles on the side. The dress complimented her long, sleek form; fitting her well for her nimbleness and agile. Her hair was put up and the pony-tail was curled. But her face did not go well with her get-up, it was tight and stubborn, refusing to wear make up; she had come up with the idea of wearing a thin white mask that had a straight, tight-fitted mouth. “You can get me in a dress! But never make-up!” Her words rung through the air as Aria tried to reason with her. They finally went for the door and opened it, gracefully stepping among the people. Zeal lead the way, all she had to do was find her way through the crowd and make it to the other side of the room. Yet she did not want to. It had been ages since she had gone to a formal dinner with dancing, and even though Morgan was captured, Piper was in the hospital and her father was gone in Tryant City, all she wanted to do was grab Chal and twirl away, melting into the crowd of zealous dancers.
    Tormented, she froze.
    Was Zeal really going to let this chance slip away? Or hurry on the scribe’s office? She was of royalty, these people were just whining there needs and she was letting them do it. It almost seemed like she could kick them out, leaving them to defend themselves and giving the chance for complete comfort and silence. No! Zeal shook her head clear of the thoughts and quickened her pace. There was no need to think like that, it was her duty to save her friends and family and end this cursed war.
    The clock struck midnight.
    The people of the palace cheered, happy to feel the waves of coolness that breezed on from the now open windows, and Zeal had made it half-way across until she bumped into an older women, so hard that Zeal twisted and hit a pillar, facing away from the women. Zeal whipped around, her lips drawn in a snarl and bared her fangs, “watch it!” Obviously she was not in the greatest mood today of all days.
    A look of surprise was on the women’s face and Zeal realized what had happened, she looked down in horror and saw her mask lying face-up on the floor, as if it had purposely given away her identity and betrayed her with up-most mocking.
    Utter chaos.
    Servants running into people to come to the princess, people craning their necks to see and little children who had been at their best behavior now climbing over the table and tripping, falling face first into foods. A mime, which was hired to entertain, no not the young ones, but the ancient wrinkly old people in one corner, was now side-steeping and putting his hands to his face in exaggerated surprise.
    They needed an escape, and fast. Elizabeth’s voice sounded behind her, “get Erik and tell him to cut the lights, and then put a spot light on that balcony there, I have an idea.” Zeal nodded, not asking questions, she grabbed Erik and repeated Elizabeth’s instructions. Soon the room went dark and a bright light appeared on the balcony.
    “Ladies and gentlemen!” Elizabeth’s voice boomed over the crowd. Everyone stopped and looked up to find the source of the amazingly loud voice. “Tonight we have a special act! With my assistant…” Another spotlight appeared, next to Elizabeth was Aria, smiling like she had never smiled before, and the dress was cut so it reached until her knees. “Aria!” They knew none of these people, so it did not matter if they gave away her name or not. They both held up a large roll of orange cloth, and Zeal then realized that it was the table cloth, which had been striped away from the table. It was not known how they had done all this so quickly, or how they had gotten up to the balcony, but now was not the time for questions. “People in the audience, maybe even the people right next to you, are going to disappear!” Elizabeth bellowed, a mischievous grin creeping along her face, “prepare to be amazed!” The whole audience was transfixed, the young water apprentice’s human looks and magic for the stage mesmerized all the people inside the ballroom. Together, Aria and Elizabeth dramatically unrolled the dark orange cloth; it was so long that it touched the ground all the way from the marble balcony. “I shall say the magic words!” Elizabeth took a deep breath, “Getta underetha thely balconyanithen!” Now why did she say that? Zeal thought, I understand making up the words, but they don’t sound magical what so ever! “Getta underetha thely balconyanithen…” Zeal muttered under her breath, and then she realized it, the words didn’t sound magical because they were to similar to regular words! “Getta…underetha…thely…balconyanithen…Get under the balcony!” She almost exclaimed, she was so excited that Zeal had almost forgotten that she was around a crowd. Erik turned to her, alarm flickering on his face, “What?” Grabbing Storm and Chal, she motioned for all of them to follow her, she quickly picked up her mask and put it on, even though it wouldn’t be much help now. They stepped quickly and quietly through the crowd, hoping they wouldn’t step on anyone’s foot or bump them out of the spell, until they were now underneath the balcony. Elizabeth waited, then when they were ready she spoke, “will everyone please take 10 steps back!” The crowd obeyed her like sheep and a shepard, all moving back. Now the small group were the only ones underneath it, and Zeal felt like the galley would break and crush her from all the tension.
    Aria set fire to the cloth; a row of fire and smoke burned down the cloth and Elizabeth let go, and as soon as it touched the ground a mushroom of blue and green smoke burst into the air. This is what they had been waiting for, “jump!” Zeal yelled to the balcony, “we’ll catch you!” A yelp was heard from the top and Storm blew up a cushion of air, it caught Aria and Elizabeth as the floated to the ground. “You guys were great!” Zeal coughed, cutting them off, “lets go!” They hurried to their target, a door that had been waiting on the other side of the room, and opened it. Ushering in quickly, Erik shut the door and coughed. “Yeah, great, next time use something that doesn’t have toxic smoke.” The room was clear, only a few wisps of smoke curled from the doorway. Elizabeth turned her attention the Zeal, “We found smoke bombs in your room. We figured they would come in handy.” She shot a look at Erik, “banana smoke bombs.” The prince stopped coughing, “so it won’t harm anyone?” He snapped. Elizabeth shook her head no, “everyone will be fine,” as Zeal stepped away from them towards a velvet chair. “Scril?” She said softly, “are you there?” It was a few tense moments, for if the scribe did not show then everything they had come for had been for nothing. Finally, a wrinkling old face peered over the top of the chair, curious, but then it burst into happiness. “Zeal! Ah Zeal, my young pupil!” He scurried from the chair over to her and hugged her. The scribe was a tall, old man with a goatee and a monks robe. Your basic average ancient one, but tall for his old age. Scril gazed at Zeal in pride, “ah…my young pupil (he often called her that) you surely have grown! Why…it’s been 3 years since I last saw you!”

    The old scholar was talking about when he had bid goodbye to her when she had left for her assignment; going to earth. He peered around the tall, slim Zeal and saw Erik, Chal, Storm, Aria and Elizabeth all staring at them, “what have we here?” He said curiously as he scuffled over to get a closer look at Aria and Elizabeth. “Are these your pets you picked up from earth? My there ugly things…” Elizabeth and Aria both huffed a “hey!” in unison as Scril laughed, “I’m just fooling with you girls, so you’re the students the king had told me about?” He looked them over, and then signaled for them to put out there hands. Hesitantly, the two girls shoved out their hands and Scril studied them, “yes, yes. I can see you have been teaching them well! You can see that this one’s hands have turned soft and delicate from working with water. And the others has short, sturdy hands with beginners scorch still there!” He chuckled and nodded, folding his hands back into his long sleeves. The old scribe shuffled around, giving Chal an experimental push, “and who are you?”
    “My name is Chal.” Chal replied respectfully, bowing to Scril. “I am a friend of Zeal’s, we would meet each other on the palace roof a lot, that is why you do not know me.” It was true, Zeal and Chal had met secretly without anyone knowing, not even Scril. The thought made Zeal blush immensely when Scril smiled at her in a teasing way, “that’s where your mother met our father!”
    “Be-be quiet! Do you have the information or not?”
    “Yes, now calm down, Zeal, I was just teasing.” Scril scurried over to her and handed her a scroll, and even though he said he was just teasing the look in his eyes gave him away. Hesitatingly, she unrolled it, her eyes searching for any bad warning.