The Consultant and the Mask Ch 4 of 7

Morgana now has the Mask the only problem is that Mark is wearing it! Feeling happy that this problem will soon be solved she agrees to a date with Sir Galohond. What could possibly go wrong?


The Consultant and the Mask

Author note: Magic has always existed is now openly acknowledged. 10% of the population is magically sensitive and 5% can actually be taught to cast spells. Only about 1% have the ability to earn a Magic-User 3rd Class license. In a country of 300 million that means there are potentially 3 million professional practitioners. However, it takes hard work and training to develop that raw talent. There are currently in the United States about 1 million licensed practitioners. Of that about 100,000 are rated 2nd Class, with about 10,000 1st Class Magic-Users, and about 300 Masters in the entire country.

There are also ancient private schools of magic whose traditions extend hundreds of years into the past. These schools are not registered with the Guild and specialize in unique types of magic that are considered illegal. The Guild of Magic-Users actively hunt’s these schools yet they persist.

The multiverse is layered with world stacked upon world the only thing separating each realm of existence is the veil. The veil separates what is, from what might have been, and from what may yet come to be. It’s as thin as silk and yet unless one has the power and skill it is impenetrable. For those with the ability it can be parted and thus, Elves, Dwarves, Fairies, Ogres, Orcs, and Trolls and all manner of legendary creatures now walk the earth.
The power of magic is rising how humanity reacts will chart the course of civilization of the next thousand years. An Age has come to an end and a new Age has arrived and as yet no one has noticed.


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Chapter 4
“An Unexpected Visit”
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After Morgana left Mark just sat still attempting to sense the Mask’s influence. When he completely failed to feel anything he almost became giddy with relief. He tossed the blankets to one side and jumped out of bed. The strange sensation of breasts bouncing brought him back to his current situation. Mark looked down and saw the female anatomy he’d seen the last couple of times he’d been awake. This time when Mark looked between his legs and there no sign of his old friend he felt his heart sink. His eyes suddenly felt wet and he realized that he was about to cry, (another strange emotion for Mark). In order to distract himself Mark picked up the robe that Morgana had left and slipped it around his shoulders. He then found a pair of slippers and went in search of the bathroom.


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I arrived in the Kitchen in time to spot my mom drinking orange juice directly from the container.

“What are you doing young man!”

I did my best to sound like my mother when she’d caught me doing exactly the same thing when I’d been growing up. Startled mother choked for a second and then glared over at me.

“Alastar, don’t you take that tone with me.”

I tried not to giggle but the effort of holding it in was too much. Still grinning I refilled my coffee cup.

“So when will Susan be here?”

Susan McDonald had been a longtime friend of the family. I’d spent one summer under her tutelage back when mother had hopes of developing my meager strength into something more in line with our heritage. Susan had been a friend and a mentor to me when I had desperately needed one. I was looking forward to seeing her again.

“She’ll be here later today,” Evaline replied. “Alastar, . . . er . . . Morgana Susan doesn’t know about your situation. You’ll have to play the part of Morgana Livingstone while she’s here. I’m sorry, but the more people who know the secret the less likely it will remain one.”

I nodded my understanding. I wasn’t happy about it but I understood. “I’d better send Edgar away while she’s here. She helped me bond him and her owl is going to recognize him the minute they meet.”

“Agreed. Now is our guest awake?”

“Yes, but there is more to her story than I realized at first, she’s a victim of the mask’s magic.”

I then explained to my mother what I’d learned from Mark. When I’d completed my tale I noticed that my coffee cup was empty. I refilled it while mother stood silently looking out a window from the kitchen that overlooked the back yard.

“I don’t really know that much about Elven artifacts. But from the description this Mask must be ancient and powerful. I’d guess it was designed for a female elf to use. The Mask must have become active and then it sensed Mark. With no mental or magical defenses he’d be an easy target for it. If what you say is true, then I suspect that the Mask is not just turning Mark into a female but also an Elf. Have you seen any signs of a racial change?”

When I shook my head no, mother continued “So perhaps we’re in time. You see if the changes had been completed the Mask would be in total control of Mark and there would be no way to separate them. As it is there may be no way to separate them right now. Susan will know better than I.” Mother looked around the room and spotted the morning paper where Chelsea usually left it. He picked it up and headed toward his office pausing to look over his shoulder at me. “After our guest, . . .”

“Mark” I interrupted.

Looking annoyed mother continued “after Mark has eaten please bring him by my office I’d like to have a look at him. I need to report to the Guild Hall that we have the Mask they’ve been looking for.” With that mother strode out of the kitchen.

Feeling like I needed something to do I went to my purse and fished out my phone. I then called Luke Carter. For a second I’d thought about calling Inspector Lee but I knew the case was over as far as he was concerned and I didn’t want him connecting the dots between the robberies and the Mask. He’d just pass the information on to FAD and that might complicate things. I figured that mother would call the local Guild Hall Council Grand Master and the two of them could work out what to do with the Mask after it was separated from Mark. Hopefully Luke will be able to answer some other questions.

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I hung up the phone just in time to hear the door to the kitchen open. Mark walked in and, despite the sleep tussled hair and the wards covering most of her skin, she looked quite pretty.

“Did you have any trouble finding the bathroom?”

“No, although I’m not used to dealing with this” she said gesturing down at herself. I nodded in understanding and regretted the fact that I couldn’t tell her how I knew what she was going through.

“Let’s get you something to eat. What are you in the mood for? An omelet? Eggs and toast? Chelsea my mo…er Mr. Donegal’s cook is shopping right now but I’m not too bad when it comes to cooking eggs.” I said almost revealing my relationship to my mother.

“Uhm I don’t think my stomach could handle anything that heavy right now. Could I just have some cereal and maybe some fruit?”

“Have a seat over here dear and let me get you a few things.”

With that I went into the pantry and picked out a couple of different kinds of cereal and placed the boxes along with milk and a bowl in front of Mark. I then started slicing fruit. After a few minutes I looked over and saw Mark scraping the bottom of her first bowl of cereal. I then brought over a plate with apple, pear, and melon slices, and fresh grapes in a few minutes I returned with some cheese and croissant. Looking at the spread I laughed, “a regular continental breakfast.”

Mark who had been focusing on shoving apple slices into her mouth looked around at all the food. “I’m making a pig of myself aren’t I?”

“Not at all, from what you told me I don’t think you’ve eaten properly for the last couple of days.”

I took a sip from my third cup of coffee. Mark seemed relieved and returned to her pursuit of calories. The only real difference was that she slowed down a bit.

“So how do you feel now?” I asked when I noticed that Mark was now playing with her food more than eating it.

“I’m not sure. I mean physically I feel great. No aches or pains, and this body is very light and limber. But I feel like a stranger or like I’m wearing someone else’s face. Only that doesn’t really cover it. I mean for example I’m sitting here and I should feel my balls against the chair, instead it’s like there is nothing in front of me to touch it. I’m probably doing awful explaining how weird this is.”

“Mark, no one can really understand what you’ve been through. But we’d like to help.”

“Why? Why would you want to help me?” Mark asked softly.

“For starters when magic is abused or it’s used to hurt people the Guild does its best to make things right. Next I’m a Magic-User Master Class and I have a duty to use my power to help people. Mr. Donegal, our host, is a member of the Guild and would like to help you.”

As I made my speech I made sure to make eye contact with Mark. I’d learned a long time ago that if you wanted to convince someone of something eye contact is a good place to start. Mark looked down into her lap for a moment. When she looked up I could see tears glistening in her eyes.

“Thank you.”

Maintaining eye contact I nodded. “Mr. Donegal asked me to bring you to his study after you finished eating. Are you ready to meet the head of House Donegal?”

At this Mark seemed a bit awed but I could see her pulling herself together.

“I’m ready”

“Ata girl” I said standing up while pretending not to notice Mark flinch at my comment, “follow me.”

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When I was small I used to think of this house as some kind of magical castle and had imaginary adventures in each of the rooms. As I got older I thought of it as cold, draft, and just too big. Now as I led Mark through each of the rooms on our way to the study I could see the impression it was making on her. The impression was of wealth, power, and magical might perhaps there was some calculation that had gone into the construction of this house I thought.

I knocked on the double doors to mother’s study and waited for a second before I pushed one of the two open and led Mark inside. Mother’s study is different from her sanctum. This is the room where he comes to relax read and think. The floor is made of hard wood with no sign of a summoning circle. There are several thick Persian and Turkish rugs one the floor. The far end of the long rectangular room is floor to ceiling glass windows with large curtains that can be drawn to block out the sun. Along the left wall book shelves dominate with a few portraits of our more illustrious ancestors. The right wall has a huge fire place made of unmatched stone. There are several leather chairs and couches around the room and positioned in front of the windows is a huge mahogany desk where my mother was currently sitting reading something on a computer monitor. As we entered he looked up and grinned.

I led Mark toward my mother noticing for the first time that when he smiled the room seemed to light up. He was tall with broad shoulders and a muscular build I’d spent several years at the gym working on. He came around the desk and offered a hand to Mark.

“Morgana told me what happened to you. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay, a bit confused, but much better now thanks to Morgana. Thank you for asking sir.”

“Please call me Mor, why don’t we all have a seat?”

With that he led us to the couch and chairs arranged around the fire place. “Even though Morgana has told me your story I’d like to hear it from you if you don’t mind.”

“Yes sir, ah I mean Mor.”

With that Mark went into his story about finding the Mask and everything that had happened since then. As he talked I watched my mother closely. Once Mark got into his tale I noticed mother discreetly open his third eye. I knew he was doing a couple of things; inspecting the Mask and the wards I’d done to contain it. I was also sure he was trying to evaluate what exactly the Mask had done to Mark. When Mark completed his tale mother sat there for several seconds thinking.

“Mark I’m not sure if we’ll be able to remove the Mask or not. My friend and colleague Dr. Susan McDonald will be here in a couple of hours. She is an expert on Elven magic and I hope that she’ll have some ideas. In the meantime feel free to explore the house and grounds Morgana is, I’m sure, an able tour guide.”

Feeling like we’d been dismissed I got up as Mark stood he extended his hand.

“Thank you, I can’t tell you how much your help means to me. If you can get this Mask off me and return me to normal, I’ll be forever in your debt.”

Mother grinned wickedly “be careful when you choose words around Magic-User’s we have a tendency to hold people to them.”
Then with a chuckle he walked back to his desk. Just before I stepped out of the room he called out, “Morgana a moment of your time, in private please.”

“I’ll just be a sec why don’t you want to wait for me in the hallway or I can meet you back at your room.”

“Are you kidding, I’ll never find my way back to my room without a guide. I’ll wait.”

Once the doors were closed I turned back to mother.

“Morgana, … Alastar … this is going to be very difficult. I’m not sure about everything that artifact has done to that young man, the current changes are extreme. Unless I’m miss-reading things he now has a magical chakra and from his earlier story he didn’t have any magical ability. I have no idea how that Mask was able to take a person who while magically sensitive was completely mundane and transform her into a Magic-User, but it did. It also looks to me like the physical changes may be permanent. Susan will have to examine him to know for sure.”

“How can the physical changes be permanent? Transformation spells require a continuous feed of energy to maintain.”
“That’s just it he doesn’t register as a transformed person. The body signature I got from him was that he is in his natural body. But that was confusing too. If I didn’t know better I’d say he’s a half-elf. Inter-breeding of the races is extremely rare and usually results in birth defects so they are highly discouraged. Be careful around him and watch him. If the Mask gains the upper hand for control we could all be in trouble.”

“I’ll be careful” I said turning around and heading out of the room. Just as my hand touched the door knob my mother said, “oh, by the way, you did a really nice job with those wards. I doubt there are more than a dozen people in the world who could have done that.”

“Thank you.” I then left the room. Mark was standing in the hallway looking at a painting of a forest scene.

“So would you like to go back to your room or would you prefer a tour of the grounds?”

“After being a prisoner in my own apartment these last few days I’d like to walk around. But is there anything else I can wear?” Mark indicated the bathrobe and slippers.

I had to giggle at that, “I suppose you do look a bit odd. How would you feel about a nice dress?” At the look of horror on Mark’s face I did laugh out loud.

“Come on I think I’ve got a pair of sweat pants and a loose t-shirt that should fit you. We have to be careful, we can’t afford for the wards to get smeared. As a matter of fact I should probably examine them while you change.”

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Susan McDonald arrived in a black Mercedes-Benz E350 at 12 pm exactly. Mark was now back in her room so I had decided to find a spot where I could watch for Susan. I arrived at the entry to find that my mother was already there. We walked out the front door and then down the steps together to greet Susan.

Susan McDonald is a short woman, with light brown hair and a full figure. She is also just over a hundred and could pass for thirty. Although she is classified as a Magic-User 1st Class although she has more knowledge and skill than most members of the Guild Council of Elders in my opinion. This coupled with her irreverent nature and love of life, have always drawn me to her and seeing her smile up at my mother made me want to scream.

“Alastar how are you?” She said wrapping my mother in a hug.

“Susan, I’m not Alastar. You did get the news?”

“Evaline? My god! My dear, I’m so sorry. I just didn’t believe it when I heard the news and then seeing you standing there next to your girlfriend well I just assumed that things were back to normal.”

This was the second thing I always loved about Susan, that despite all the years she assumed the best about people and that the right thing would happen in the end. She was also a bit scatter brained.

“Ah,” mother turned to me and gestured me to step forward. “Susan McDonald, this is Morgana Livingstone, Morgana Susan.”

“Thank you, Mor,” I said looking at Susan. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Ma’am I’ve heard so much about you.”

“So you’re one of the Livingstone clan, hmm good family. Evaline I definitely approve.”

Now it was my turn to feel my face flush. Before I could say anything mother stepped in, “Susan it’s not like that, Morgana is more like a pupil and friend there is nothing going on between us.”

“Really” Susan’s sharp eyes darted between the two of us.

“Perhaps we could go inside and have a glass of ice tea and talk about the Mask and its victim?” I suggested.

Abruptly smiling Susan wove her arm through mothers and headed up the steps. “That sounds lovely, come along now dear.”

We soon found ourselves in the atrium relaxing and looking out at the flower garden that extended off this section of the property. Mother and Susan had been getting caught up for the last twenty minutes while I sat quietly listening. I was enjoying the conversation even though I wasn’t contributing. For me it was a nostalgic feeling to be in Susan’s company. Finally she turned to me, “so tell me about this young woman you rescued.”

“For starters she was a man before the Mask began its work on her.”

I was pleased at the startled look on Susan’s face. It took quite a bit to startle Susan. I then launched into a retelling of Mark’s story only this time I added observations from my inspection of the Smyth apartment and what I’d deduced about the thief and my examination of his body. I then added what Sir Galohond had told me about the former Lady Duchess Siofra Aldalithe and my theory that it was all connected and that there was an Elven terrorist cell active here in St. Louis. When I finished both my mother and Susan were staring at me with stunned expressions on their faces.

“Al, ah, Morgana if what you say is true we have a very serious problem.” Mother said looking both impressed and irritated that I’d not told her everything before now.

“All of that may be true, and if it is then it’s a matter for the Guild to attend too. For the moment we should focus on this Mark person.” Susan said.

“Shall I fetch him for you?”

“Yes, dear bring him to Evaline’s sanctum. There are a few tests I’d like to try.”


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Mark had been nervous as he waited for Morgana to come get him and had almost jumped at the knock on the door. The door opened and Morgana poked her head in.

“Mark are you ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

Mark felt a lot better as he followed Morgana along a hallway into a part of the house he’d not seen during the tour. If I can be changed back to normal I wonder if Morgana would be interested in a date, he thought to himself, as he watched the movement of Morgana’s shapely backside.

“So where are we going?”

“We are going to Mor’s sanctum. It’s where he casts his most powerful spells. Susan has worked there before and is familiar with it. She needs to examine you magically before she’ll know what can be done to help you.”

For some reason being around Morgana settled Mark’s nerves, even though she was a virtual stranger she’d been the first good thing to enter Mark’s life in a while. If Mark had thought the double doors made of oak that led to Mor’s study had been impressive the wrought Iron, oak, and Silver doors leading into his sanctum left Mark feeling awed. These people live in a different world from the rest of humanity, he thought.

The doors opened at a word and gesture from Morgana which was a bit odd since most Magic-User’s jealously guarded the secrets of the sanctums. Or at least that’s what Mark had been led to believe. Mark stepped into a circular room with a series of sky lights letting in enough illumination to make any other light unnecessary. The next thing Mark noticed was the room contained more books than he’d seen in one location outside of a library in his entire life. The floor was made of a type of dark stone Mark had never seen before and in the center of the room was a magic circle with all sorts of symbols. The whole thing looked like it was made of silver and set into the stone. At the clearing of a throat Mark came back to himself and glanced to his right. He spotted Mor and a woman he assumed was this Susan person standing in front of a group of chairs.

“Mark, this is Susan McDonald. Susan this is Mark Miller the young man we’ve been telling you about.” Mor said.

Mark extended his hand and realized that the woman shaking his hand had a firmer grip than he did. “Please sit down,” Susan said indicating the four chairs facing each other in a circle.

“I’ve heard your story, from Ms. Livingstone, but I’d like to hear it in your own words.”

With that Mark launched into his story again. Morgana noticed that it was starting to take on a cadence built up from the telling and retelling. As Morgana watched she noticed that Susan did the same thing that her mother had done. About half way through the tale while Mark was distracted she opened her third eye and studied the young man. Once Mark completed his story Susan sat quietly for a moment and then glanced briefly at Mor before looking back at Mark.

“I must be honest with you Mark this is going to be a challenge. That Mask is an artifact I’ve read about and from what I’ve learned it’s a vile thing. An Elven War Lord wished to use her power to dominate the human realm and then bring hordes of human barbarians back to Summer to help subdue her rivals. The problem is that Elves are limited in what they can do magically while in the human realm. She thought she had solved the problem when she allied herself with an Elven Master Craftsman who also happened to be an Elven Witch. The Witch in a blood rite killed herself and passed her life force into the Mask. Once in the Mask the Witch gained the ability to possess anyone who uses it. She used this power to betray the War Lord and steal her body. However, she was defeated while in the human realm by an allied force of humans and Elves. The Elves have learned to counter the power of the Mask by the simple expedient of never putting it on. They can touch it and become attuned to it and draw power from it while it’s here in the human realm. After they’re attuned to it they only need to be within close proximity to draw power. The Witch being female prefers female victims and refuses to give any power to men.” Susan paused to see if Mark understood what she was telling him.

“But if the witch prefers woman why did she do this to me?”

“I can only guess. It’s been hundreds of years since anyone has used the Mask. Over time spirits trapped in objects like this have a tendency to fall into a sleep like state. At some point Siofra must have wakened the spirit of the witch within the artifact. Once that was done the witch would have been desperate to have a body to possess. Because you were magically sensitive but lacked any real power you were an ideal target for her. She probably didn’t even know your race or gender until after you put the Mask on that first night.” At this Susan paused to see if Mark understood. At his nod she continued.

“Once she had begun to take control of your body she needed two things, the first was power. The way the Mask works is that the person wearing it draws power through the Mask into their center. You didn’t have the ability to do this. So the Mask had to improvise. Obviously it can drain power from objects.”

“And people,” Morgana interrupted.

At this Susan stopped and looked at Morgana with a question in her eyes.

“When the Mask was making Mark rob a magic store yesterday, the owner objected violently and with magic. During the battle the Mask drained the shopkeeper of all his power. But not just his power but also his ability to do magic, I spoke with the hospital this morning and he is completely mundane.” When Morgana looked over at Mark she could see the look of shock and horror on her face. “I’m sorry Mark, it’s not your fault you didn’t do it the Mask did.”

“Yes” said mother “but that might explain Mark’s magical chakra.”

At this Susan nodded “yes it might and if that’s the case then our task is a bit easier.” Turning to look at Mark Susan continued “Mark time is of the essence. The wards that Morgana placed on you are first class but they are only a temporary measure. Already I can see the Mask working to get around them and take control of you again. We need to get that Mask off you as soon as possible.”

“Ma’am, I’m more than ready to have it off!” Mark exclaimed.

“I’m sure you are. However, there are some things you should know. First this spell will take all three of us to cast and it might fail. If it fails the Mask will gain control of you forever. If that happens we will be forced to kill you. The witch who lives in that artifact is too powerful to let loose on this world again.”

At this Mark swallowed, “I understand Ma’am. I’ll take my chances just get this thing off me!”

Susan smiled and leaned forward to pat Mark’s hand. “There are other possible outcomes. We might have complete success in which case you’ll be separated from the Mask and will change back into your natural form. I doubt that will happen since I can’t sense any active transformation magic. In fact I think the most likely outcome will be that we separate you from the Mask and you will be female for the rest of your life. But until the Mask is off I can’t tell for certain.”

“Ma’am, I wish I’d never seen this damn thing. If we do nothing the Mask will take over, if we try and fail it will take over. But if we try and succeed I’ll be free although there is a chance I’ll be stuck with this body. Those are odds I’m willing to take. Especially since I can’t go back and changed the things I’ve already done. It seems like there’s only one choice. So when do we start?”

“Now if Morgana and Evaline are ready.”

“I’m ready,” Morgana said.

“So am I, but I don’t know how much help I’ll be. I don’t have much strength.”

Susan looked over at Evaline disappointment on her face.

“Evaline, when your son wore that body you always underestimated it and him. There is a powerful ley-line under this estate. You have spent years attuning yourself to it this is what I need you to do today. Allow me to pull on the strength of the earth through your connection to the ley-line and this place.”

Mark watched the exchange between Susan and Mor wide eyed obviously confused by Susan calling Mr. Donegal by a female name.
Turning to me Susan asked, “Morgana have you ever participated in a linked working?”

“Yes Ma’am.” Morgana replied wishing to add that Susan had taught her how to link more than a decade ago.

“Well then let’s begin.” Susan stood up and turned to Mark. “Please remove all of your clothes and step into the center of the circle.” She then looked at Evaline “do you have any potions that will induce a light trance?”

“Certainly”

“Please fetch one.”

Morgana had to hide a smile as she watched Susan order her mother around here in the heart of her own power. Obviously Evaline’s confidence in his magical ability was shaken by living in Alastar’s body for the last three months. By the time Mark had stripped out of her clothes and took her place in the center of the circle. Evaline had returned with a potion contained in a small bottle. He brought it to Mark careful not to step on any of the silver lines.

“Go ahead and drink this Mark it won’t hurt you.”

Mark tilted his head back and downed it in one shot. Amused Evaline took the bottle and retreated out of the circle. Susan looked around and saw that both Evaline and Morgana had taken positions outside of the Great Circle just where she would have directed them.

Glancing at Morgana Susan asked “those wards on Mark’s body, did you leave a key or central ward that will allow us to take them all down at once?”

Morgana smiled this was just like the days back at Susan’s cottage when they’d worked magic together.

“Yes Ma’am, there are both a central ward and a verbal trigger.”

Susan nodded, “quite good in fact some of your warding reminds me of Alastar. Mark, dear, how are you feeling?” When Mark just turned her head to look at Susan showing glassy eyes Susan knew that it was time.

“Okay ladies, this is how we’ll begin. On my command Morgana will release the wards on Mark. As soon as she speaks the trigger Evaline bring up the power of the circle. That should contain the Mask. As soon as that’s done both of you will link with me. Evaline concentrate on drawing power through the ley-line and push it to me. Morgana feed me a steady stream of energy and watch what I do. If I falter you’ll have to pick up the spell. Questions?”

When both Morgana and her mom shook their heads Susan took a deep breath.

“Let’s begin, Morgana drop the ward.”

Morgana lifted a hand (even though it was unnecessary) and spoke the Key. At once Mark’s posture changed suddenly she seemed confident and angry. Before Mark could utter a word there was a blaze of silvery light that shot along the silver pattern set into the floor. In less than a second the entire Great Circle was a glow with power.

“Mortals I will destroy you and feast on your power before this day is done!”

The arrogance, power, and malice in the voice shocked Morgana. This creature was evil! Susan didn’t respond instead she spoke a word and made a gesture. Morgana knew exactly what to do and spoke the word that would link her to Susan. On the other side of the circle Morgana could feel Evaline doing the same thing. Morgana felt the link solidify between each of them. Faint and tenuous at first within seconds it grew into a fully formed link. It was the kind of magical connection that only people who really knew each other and had performed magic together could establish.

Abruptly an inhuman shriek sounded from within the circle as Mark blasted a sickly green energy at Susan. The energy struck the side of the circle and splashed into an arc left and right following the contour of the circle all the way around searching for, yet finding no, flaws. Susan began chanting while making an intricate series of gestures, each movement was fluid and well-practiced and it took several seconds before Morgana started to understand what she was doing. This first series of spells was designed to draw the magical energy trapped within the circle out and dissipate it. The Mask need power in order to remain active, if that power could be siphoned off it would be helpless or at least much easier to deal with.

“Foolish human is that the best you can do?” With that the creature inside the circle spoke a word and stamped her foot against the stone. The room shuddered but the stone and the circle held.

“This circle has been warded against that type of attack," Evaline said sounded smug.

Now Susan started a new series of spells. Morgana could tell these were designed to draw the creature out of Mark’s living body and contain it within the Mask.

“Noooo” the sound of the spirits agony caused one of the sky lights to crack. At the same time a sickly green mist poured out of Mark’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. The mist was heavier than air and pooled on the ground around Mark’s feet.
At this point Morgana was channeling more and more magical power into Susan. Morgana had never experienced a link this fully formed. She was watching the Mask from three different angles all at once almost as if for the moment the three of them were one being. Morgana felt Susan’s demand for more energy and responded by directing more power toward Susan. It now felt like Morgana was trying to sprint uphill with a hundred pound pack on her back through the mud, her lungs were on fire and her pulse pounded loud in her own ears. Morgana caught a glimpse of her mother and saw that his face was red from the strain of pulling ley-line magic and directing it to Susan and at the same time felt him pulling every bit of power from the earth he could.

The mist was pushing itself up taking on the form of an Elven woman. For a moment her features were stunningly beautiful but this lasted only for a second. Now they changed her teeth became fangs and fingers sprouted claws and within seconds a hag like monstrosity stood within the circle towering over Mark’s frozen form. The feeling of pure malevolence, a hatred for all living creatures was so powerful that Morgana felt her concentration waiver for a second. What kind of creature was this thing? It certainly wasn’t human!

Again the creature shrieked and the volume and violence of it caused Morgana to stagger back a step. For some reason Morgana felt the need to look up and saw that one of the skylights directly over the circle had cracks running the entire length. She reflexively paused to catch her breath. Almost in slow motion Morgana watched as the widow broke sending several large shards of glass toward the circle. Without thinking Morgana directed telekinetic force toward the falling glass, barely catching the glass just a foot or two above the circle. With a gesture she tossed the shards to one side and then directed energy at the remaining glass in all four skylights blowing the glass up and away from the house and more importantly the circle.

However while this was going on the creature surged against the boundary of the circle looking for a flaw. Energy played along the perimeter but the creature was contained. Then Susan collapsed to her knees.

“Alastar take it,” She gasped out.

Without thinking Morgana reached out and took control of the link smoothly picking up the threads of the spell and allowing Susan to catch her breath. If Morgana had thought she was working hard before now she really knew what it felt like to strain under a heavy magical load. With a calming breath she reached into the recess of her mind and somehow found more power and directed it at the creature.

“Esarthae Haelond I bid thee return to your vessel.” Morgana said.

This time the creatures answering shriek was softer and contained words that Morgana didn’t understand. Morgana felt power coming to her from her mother in far greater quantities then she’d thought possible. Now more energy, faint at first but growing in strength, flowed to Morgana from Susan who had pushed herself back to her feet.

“By thy name and the power of this circle I bid thee Esarthae Haelond return to your vessel!”

There was a huge surge of energy as the power of the binding pushed into the creature within the circle.

“Mortal there will come a day when I am free and on that day I will find you and have vengeance!”

The malice dripping from the creature’s voice made the hair on Morgana’s arms stand up. She took a deep breath and steeled her will.

“ESARTHAE HAELOND thrice thou art named! By my Word thou art bid and by my Will thou art bound. RETURN TO THY VESSEL!”

Morgana ended her command with a shout and a release of power that caused the sound of thunder to crack through the room shattering mirrors, lights, and shorting out every piece of electrical equipment in the room. The sound of thunder drowned out the Spirit’s roar as it returned to mist and was sucked in a swirling vortex into the Mask. The Mask became visible to mundane sight for the first time since Mark had put it on and fell to the floor with a clatter of stone on stone and a sudden silence.

Morgana felt her legs turn wobble and dropped to one knee rather than allow herself to collapse fully. She looked over at her to partners and saw that Susan was sitting on both knees steadying herself by leaning forward and using both arms to hold herself up. Across the circle Morgana’s mom had also dropped to a sitting position but appeared to be fine.

With the spell done Morgana broke the link and then dropped the circle with the simple expedient of sliding one foot across the silver line. The magic released with the sensation of a bubble popping. First Morgana checked on Mark, after the Mask had fallen off she’d collapsed in a heap. Finding a steady pulse Morgana turned to the Mask. Reaching out telekinetically she picked up not wanting to touch it and walked over to her mother.

“Mom, do you have something we can put this thing in that will prevent its influence from affecting anyone else?”

“Evaline you mean” he hissed glancing over at Susan. The louder “yes I’ve got a special safe here in the sanctum designed to hold powerful magical artifacts and prevent any leakage of magic or influence.”

“Oh be still Evaline, I figured out that Alastar was Morgana the second I saw the wards on Mark’s body. But if I needed any further evidence the link proved it.”

Susan pushed herself to her feet and turned to look at Alastar.

“My dear, I’m so proud of you. What you did today was amazing.”

With that Susan walked over and gave Alastar-Morgana a hug.

“Now let’s get rid of that dreadful thing and put Mark to bed. After that I could use a drink!”


******************
******************

It was still early in the day despite everything that we’d done. The spell to remove the Mask had started at 1 pm and by 1:30 Susan and I were sitting in mother’s study drinking a chilled Chardonnay. Mother was sipping on a light beer and looking relaxed.

“How’s Mark?”

“I took her back to the guest room, and put another sleep ward over her. She should be out until tomorrow morning. Physically she’s exhausted and needs sleep. Mentally, well who knows after everything she’s been through?”

“So will the two of you tell me what really happened three months ago?” Susan asked.

Mother looked irritated “Susan the only reason that I didn’t tell you everything was that the council ordered us to keep it a secret.”

“Well I’m not a member of the Guild or the Guild Council.” I said and turned to Susan.

With that I launched into the story about Ambrose and what he’d done. Once I’d finished Susan only nodded.

“Now things make more sense. Dear it may be tough to give up your life and identity but based on what I’ve seen you will be able to do a lot of good with the power you now have.”

I smiled with pleasure at Susan’s words, she had always been very encouraging and easy with compliments sort of the opposite of my mother. Suddenly I realized the time.

“Crap, I need to start getting ready.”

“Ready for what dear?” Mother asked.

“Uhm, . . well I, . . ah, . . . sort of have a date.”

“A DATE? With a man?” the surprise in mother’s voice made me feel rebellious.

“Yes if you must know, so as much as I’d like to stay and get caught up. I really need to get moving.” With that I left my startled mother and amused mentor and headed up to my room to grab my keys.

******************

Instead of trying to get ready at mother’s place I jumped into my Charger, (Steven had gone out earlier and picked it up for me) and headed to my house. Once home I petted Edgar and gave him some food. Then I headed to the shower. After getting cleaned up I wrapped a towel around my chest tucking it between my breasts to hold it up while I wound a second towel around my hair to help dry it and keep it out of my way.

I went into the closet and after a moment of hesitation started opening the bag’s containing the garments my mother’s seamstress had made for me. The first bag held a deep red formal gown. Definitely overkill for tonight I thought. The next bag held a purple full length dress with a large slit up the side and a plunging neckline. I don’t think so! After checking and rejecting several more dresses I opened one and paused. It was a brilliant blue silk dress that stopped just above my knees. It was off the shoulder with a sweat heart neckline, but still covered more of my chest than some of the other dresses would have. After looking at it for several minutes I decided that would be the right mix of daring but not too daring. I took the bag into the bedroom and laid it on the bed. Now underwear, as I considered this I noticed the bag the dress came in also had a pocket on the outside. Unzipping the pocket I discovered a set of lingerie that perfectly matched the color of the dress. It seemed that either my mother or Chelsea had thought of everything, a multi-way strapless bra, thong panties along with a garter and stockings. Somehow I knew that if I started looking through the shoe boxes I’d find the perfect shoes to go with this outfit.

For a moment I thought about calling Galohond and canceling. Was I really ready to try and be a girl on a date? The very thought made my knees go weak. Okay get a grip, it’s not like you’re going to have sex. This is just one date talk to him. Find out if he’s interesting or an ass. With that I dropped the towel and stepped into the panties.

******************

I never liked driving in heels tonight was no different. The Franco at 7 pm was prime time for dinning. I wasn’t sure how Galohond had been able to get reservations but when I pulled up to the valet he was already waiting. Galohond was wearing a black double breasted suit with a green shirt and matching tie. The suit did a great job of setting off his broad shoulders and thin waist.

“Ah Morgana it was indeed worth the wait, you are a vision.”

With that he scooped up my fingers and kissed them lightly.

“Thank you Sir, if you weren’t a knight I’d accuse you of trying to be gallant.”

“It’s the prerogative of the gentry to be gallant my lady” he said with a deprecating grin.

I tucked my arm through his elbow as I’d felt my previous dates do and said, “well lead on good sir I understand a feast awaits us.”

At this he laughed and we stepped into the cool dark recess of the restaurant.


******************
******************

Evaline and Susan were sitting once again in the atrium. They were enjoying an after dinner coffee when the wards vibrated. Evaline sat up straight and sent out a questing. At first he didn’t feel anything and started to relax.

“Is everything alright?” Susan didn’t appear too concerned.

“I’m not sure yet. The wards started to signal and then stopped. Alastar designed the wards on this place, and while he might not have been very powerful, he is an absolute genius when it comes to warding.”

“Yes I know Evaline, I did train him remember?”

Evaline flashed a smile at his longtime friend. “It’s Mor now. Evaline doesn’t really fit.”

Susan giggled and put her hand on Mor’s. “So do you remember that summer back in the seventies when you were feeling very experimental?”

Mor flushed remembering, he and Susan had a quiet fling each of them transforming into the men they were particularly attracted to and then seducing the other.

“I remember, but try to imagine how strange this is for me. I’m in my son’s body and don’t even have the power to work a transformation spell without either tapping a ley-line or pulling power from one of my repositories.”

Suddenly there was another jarring at the wards and then the full alarm went off. The outer wards were breached and the inner activated in full defense mode. A loud siren started and a signal was automatically sent to the Guild Hall. The Donegal estate was under Magical assault.

******************

Rushing forward dozens of figures approached the house from all four directions. All were dressed in dark colors and wore archaic looking armor. In addition to the primary assault force the road leading up to the property was blocked in both directions by two squads of ten Elves in black armor. Lastly a reserve force of a dozen headed up by a blonde female Elf wearing form fitting black and green armor with golden accents waited along the drive way leading to the house. Siofra looked around anxiously waiting for a signal from her Lord for her to move up onto the objective. Whoever tripped those alarms is most likely a dead man or dead elf she thought to herself.

******************

Back in the estate Evaline and Susan had hurried to the hall leading up to the main entry. Evaline had dismissed the servants early and there were no security guards in the house with Alastar’s wards they’d always seemed unnecessary.
The pounding of magical blasts against the wards sounded like the crack of artillery. They’d been at in for nearly sixty seconds and already it seemed like an eternity.

“Should we go collect young Mark?” Asked Susan.

“No, we have her under an enchanted sleep she’s probably safe where she is. Especially since no one knows she’s here and Guild Special Agents will be responding to the alarm. Whoever is attacking my house doesn’t have much time, certainly not enough to do a thorough search. Assuming they break through the inner wards.”

“Evaline, I think we need to assume they’ll break through. You’re on your home ground but you don’t have much strength. I’ll try to hold them at the entry, go to your sanctum and arm yourself with your most powerful weapons.” Susan looked at her friend fear showing in her face.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

With that Evaline started running for the sanctum. One benefit of this body, he thought, is that it’s in great shape. Suddenly the pitch of the alarm changed. Louder and shriller, “shit” the inner wards were breached. For a second Evaline considered going back but figured he’d be useless in a straight up magical fight.

He approached the sanctum and since he hadn’t seen any sign of intruders took down the wards and headed in.

“Ah, thank you that was much easier than bashing the wards down.”

The voice was a cultured masculine one and Evaline whirled around. Three Elves stood in the hallway each wearing armor and carrying swords in one hand wands in the other. Except the leader, he was a tall blonde elf with broad shoulders and stood there calmly holding a staff his sword sheathed at his side.

Pulling as much power as possible Evaline lashed out with magical energy, even using as much strength as he could from the ley-line beneath his feet it was a far cry from what he could have hurled at the intruders three months ago. The power splashed across a shield the lead elf had pulled up in response to the attack momentarily blinding everyone in the hallway. Evaline used that moment to throw himself backward into the sanctum and spoke the words that caused the doors to slam closed and simultaneously bring up the wards on this room, sealing it with magical power.

For a moment the Elf Lord cursed in his native tongue. This assault had not gone according to plan. The wards had been much more powerful and subtle than he’d anticipated his team had set them off prematurely giving the occupants time to prepare. Now Evaline Donegal had locked herself in her sanctum. The mistress had explained who this man really was and that he was much less powerful in his current body but not to underestimate him. He was smart and on his home turf. The Elf Lord lifted a gauntleted hand to his face. On the wrist of the gauntlet was a large gem. Activating it with a trickle of power he spoke.

“All squads this is lead, report status.”

Around the estate each of the squad leaders had a similar gem on their gauntlets and from the gem their master’s voice sounded and they moved to respond.

“Bravo Echo ONE in position negative contact.” Came the reply from the northern blocking force.

“Bravo Echo TWO in position negative contact.” The southern element reported.

Alpha Echo ONE, through the wards on the objective, negative contact.”

“Alpha Echo TWO, through main wards. CONTACT, repeat we are in contact with a defensive force.”

“Roger Alpha Echo TWO secure the main entry. Break, Romeo Echo move forward and support Alpha Echo TWO report main entry clear.” The tall Elf Lord said.

“Roger lead, Romeo Echo moving.” Siofra said turning to her reserve element and directing them to follow her as she moved forward.

“Alpha Echo THREE, working on the wards, we’ll be through and on the objective in 2 mikes, negative contact.” Came the report from the last assault element.

******************

Back in the entry hall the doors burst open from the force of the repeated pounding. Before the first Elven warrior could jump through Susan blasted white hot energy into the breach. For a second the lead Elven warrior glowed as his shield absorbed the energy then it failed and the white hot fire struck him in the chest. His entire body glowed for a second and then with a scream he fell to the ground nothing more than ashes within the melted armor.

Warbling their battle cries the Elves surged forward. The next elf made it into the doorway before he fell to Susan’s furious blast. Suddenly the windows to the side shattered and a huge Elven warrior stood there. Susan pivoted and blasted him with both hands but he caught the energy on large metal shield strapped to his left arm. It obviously held a powerful enchantment since it absorbed the blast. Then Susan sensed movement in the doorway and turned in time to catch a green energy bolt and deflect it before it could strike her.

Now more Elves pushed through the door and Susan had everything she could do just to defend herself. As she did this she noticed the large warrior was moving forward. Even though he’d cast no spells his sword glowed with green and red power that she knew would cut through her defense. Glancing back Susan knew there must be 8 or 9 opponents in front of her and no chance to beat them.

She hesitated for a second then whispered, “I’m sorry Evaline.”

With a scream of defiance Susan uttered her death curse blasting out with all the power she could hold and weaving in her life energy which created a title wave of amber and white power that surged toward the attackers. The magical fire ripped down the hallway and caught five of the Elves before they could get out of the way. Their individual body shields held for a heartbeat and then they were consumed. Silence fell in the hall. Of the twelve Elves that had assaulted the main doors seven were dead. One of the Elves noticed that even though the fire had been white hot the walls and furnishings had not caught fire.

Into this mess Siofra strode looking every inch the Lady Elven War Lord. Pointing with her sword she said “the Mask is that way.” Siofra also noticed that she was now close enough to draw power from the Mask. She instantly started doing so and felt energy pour into her in greater and greater quantities as she got closer to the sanctum.


******************
******************

The music was light and the ambience perfect I thought. Galohond had taken the liberty of ordering and since I knew nothing about French food this was fine with me. He proved an excellent conversationalist and I approved his taste in wine.

“So how is it you’re here as an agent of your Queen?”

“I didn’t think you wanted to talk about work?”

“I’m not asking you about the case. I’m just curious how you came to be in St. Louis.”

“That is a bit of a story. You see although I come from a noble family some of my relatives have joined the separatist movement. I volunteered to hunt them down here in the human realm to prove my loyalty to Queen Isilidhrindal.”

I was surprised that he’d be this open about Elven politics and his family. I’d always heard that Elves were very private people. Then I had an inspiration.

“You’re related to Siofra.”

“Yes, curse her. She has brought a great deal of shame to my family.”

“But that’s not all is it?”

“No, she’s my cousin, she somehow persuaded my younger brother to join her cause. If I can capture her, I might have an opportunity to talk him into surrendering. If he does then I can use my influence at court and beg the Queen for mercy.”
“Since you’ve been so open I feel like I owe you some information as well.”

I said feeling guilty. I hadn’t lied to him and I was under no obligation to pass information to him. But I was starting too really like his openness and I didn’t want this case to come between us.

“Oh?” He asked looking interested.

“I, along with Mr. Mor Donegal, have recovered the Mask.”

“WHAT!” At the sound of his shout heads turned around us.

“Quiet” I hissed “we only just recovered it last night. We spent most of today separating it from the poor human woman who was wearing it. I’m sure that Mor has informed the Guild so you should be able to talk to the Foreign Affairs Division tomorrow and arrange for it to be returned. It’s an Elven artifact after all.”

Now he looked worried, “you don’t understand. That Mask was stolen from the vaults of a citadel guarded by Elves loyal to the Queen. The separatists somehow were able to turn guards who had been loyal and use them to gain access to the vault. I and my war-band were able to track them and we ambushed them before they left Summer. They fought with suicidal ferocity. A few managed to escape into the human realm and when we tracked them down they had all committed suicide to avoid capture. The Mask was already gone. I came to St. Louis because Mr. Smyth had contacted Elves who deal in black market items looking to sell the Mask. They in turn contacted the Queen’s Guard and I was dispatched. I thought I was going to arrive here and buy the Mask and return it to Summer. But by the time I got here it had already been stolen. I believe that the separatists are still here in St. Louis and they powerful and well trained. Morgana these are very dangerous people.”
At this he paused and then continued in a rush, “I’ve reason to believe that there are members of the Guild perhaps even on the St. Louis Guild Council who’ve been compromised.”

“Compromised how, what do you mean?”

Before he could answer I felt a shriek in my head. I put both hands to my ears in response although it did nothing to reduce the noise. When I could see again Galohond was looking at me with an alarmed expression. Before I knew what I was doing I was on my feet.

“My mother is in danger, our estate is under assault. I’ve got to get there as fast as possible.”

I turned and practically ran out of the restaurant heading for my car thinking. When I got to the entry I realized there was no way I could get to the estate in my car in time. I sent out a call to Edgar and ordered him into the air directing him to the estate. He was much closer than I was so if he got there before me, I could use our bond to see what was going on. By this time Galohond was standing next to me.

“I don’t understand, I thought your mother was dead.”

“Did I say my mother? I should have said my Godmother. Evaline Mor Donegal is my Godmother and her estate is under assault.”

I didn’t bother to look at him to see if he’d believed my lie. “I plan to get there fast, you can come if you can keep up.”
Before I could cast my spell he interrupted me.

“What do you plan to do?”

“I’m going to transform into a bird and fly to the estate.”

“That will take some time yes?”

“Normally but I'll summon an Air Elemental and use its strength to get me there very quickly.”

“I’m not an expert on human magic but in Summer Air Elementals are the most tricky and difficult of all the Elementals to summon and control.”

“They are here as well, but I don’t have many other options if I want to get there fast.”

“I have a powerful transformation spell. If you have the strength to copy the design you can use the spell, it’s much faster than some bird.”

I caught his meaning instantly. Transformation spells required the caster to have the pattern of the creature or person they intended to change into. For example I have the power to change into a Polar Bear but without the pattern I can’t change into one. The second aspect is that the more powerful the creature the more magic is required. There is also a mass component. It requires more magic to add mass, and interestingly enough, an equal amount of magic to reduce mass if you’re going for a smaller creature. I nodded to Galohond and he stepped out from under the valet awning and walked into an open section of parking lot. Then cast his spell. I watched the transformation using the third eye to make sure I understood the pattern. The words of power and gestures he used were different but suddenly the pattern took shape superimposed over his physical image.

“No way,” I said stunned.

Standing in the parking lot was a huge Green Dragon with a golden belly. He looked at me and then leapt into the sky with a great snap of his wings. Cars in the parking lot shifted around from the down blast of his wings and several car alarms started going off. I had the pattern for a dragon seared into my mind. A DRAGON, holy shit there hasn’t been a dragon sighted in the human realm in a thousand years. I walked to the parking lot where Galohond had stood and felt nervous. This would take a lot of power could I do it?

Abruptly I felt the light of the full moon bathing my skin in its soft radiance. I felt super charged with energy. I concentrated on the pattern of a dragon and pulled all the power I could and then poured it into the pattern and spoke the words and cast the spell. My skin rippled with energy, I felt myself growing and I fell forward onto my forelegs. I shook my head and felt scales ripple along my back. With an unconscious motion I snapped my new wings down and then up stretching. I realized that the change was complete and looked at my scales. My dominate color was blue with a silver belly and the undersides of my wings were silver as well. I tipped my head back and roared feeling incredibly powerful.
I noticed another dragon high in the air and all at once I could hear him in my mind.

* Morgana if you want to help your God Mother you need to get control of your Dragon nature and take to the sky. *

Abruptly I remembered why I’d changed into a dragon and knew that I had to hurry. My mother was in danger. Rage swept through me, dragon anger, a feeling almost overwhelming in its elemental power. Without thinking about the people around me I jumped into the sky and snapped my wings down and in seconds I’d climbed several thousand feet leveling off even with Galohond.

* You make a beautiful dragon. *

I realized that I was larger than he was by a considerable margin and in dragon terms more powerful.

* You’re not so bad yourself pipsqueak. *

I then turned toward my mother’s house and started snapping my wings beating the air furiously. At the same time I realized that dragons must also use magic to propel themselves through the sky. So I pushed out with my power. In seconds I’d left Galohond far behind me. As I did this a part of me realized that I was using power at an alarming rate if I wasn’t careful I’d arrive exhausted. But in this moment I didn’t care.

******************

Edgar came to the estate first and spotted the two groups of Elves blocking the road. One group was engaged in a furious spell battle with the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) from the Guild Hall. The other group was maneuvering to provide covering fire and then as Edgar watched both blocking groups fell back toward the house disengaging the QRF as they did so. The wards were down and the house was completely open. I directed Edgar to the skylights that led to the sanctum. If I knew my mother he’d make his last stand there. Edgar perched on the sill of one of the windows and gave me a view of the interior. The doors had been forced and a group of more than a dozen Elves in black armor were inside. My mother was being held in the air and a female elf with blonde hair was trying to open the safe that contained the Mask.

I roared and redoubled my efforts to get to my mother’s estate. There are several ways to fuel magical power. There is the amount of ambient magic in the world around us. There are artifacts which are able to contain power such as wands, staffs, and crystals. There are the elements, the sun, then moon, and ley-lines, but there is also emotion.

Magic is the life force of the universe. In its natural state it’s pure chaos. As the will is applied it can take shape, the more powerful the will, the greater the determination, the more magic that a Magic-User can use and shape. Emotion and Will are closely linked. At the sight of my mother held prisoner I allowed my dragon rage to sweep through my body. My home had been invaded, my mother held prisoner, and now these assholes were going to free the Mask. I had never been so furious in my life. With my Will I shaped my anger using it as a conduit from which I drew as much power as I could hold. I then focused on flying.

Within a few minutes the estate swept into view. I could see that the blocking force had disengaged from the Guild Force and was almost within the protection of the house. I decided I would not allow this to happen. I opened my jaws and to my surprise lighting blasted out. I was nearly a mile up and two miles away but my dragon vision turned the night to day for me and then telescoped in allowing me to see my targets clearly. The lighting forked and then forked again as it traveled the distance. Bodies, grass, and gravel went flying. In a few seconds I was over the estate and I circled it looking for the survivors of my first pass. To my surprise most appeared to be getting back to their feet obviously elven armor and personal body shields had done a good job protecting them. Again I blasted them with lighting and watched with amazement as the lightning seemed to twist and follow my enemies striking them in a relentless chain of lightning. This time only about half were able to climb to their feet. I decided that I’d leave the survivors for the Guild and wheeled about diving for the skylights above mother’s sanctum. I tucked my wings close as I dove transforming as I descended. There was no glass to break and I caught myself with telekinesis as I passed through the skylight next to Edgar. I barely noticed when Edgar followed me through.

Several green and golden missiles blasted up at me, I ignored them as my body shield flared. I could still feel the silver glow of the moon on my skin and drew strength from it. When my heels touched the floor of the sanctum the power of the ley-line flowed smoothly into me increasing my power yet again. This was a ley-line I’d been tapping since I was a child nothing could be more familiar.

I looked to one side and saw a hole in the air, the blonde woman holding the Mask of Esarthae Haelond stepped through the hole and for some reason she didn’t look happy. In front of the hole six Elven warriors stood swords at the ready. Behind them a large blonde warrior who looked very familiar stood holding a staff watching me. I could tell he was the one holding my mother telekinetically.

“If you release him, I’ll let you live.”

The sound of my voice startled me. It was full of a slivery power that made strange echo within the confines of the sanctum.

“Woman who are you?”

I let my spell speak for me; I attacked with fire, lightning, cold, and magic missiles all at once and with precise control. Four of the six warriors in front of me reeled backward one dead the other three wounded before they realized they were under attack. I leapt forward summoning light to my fist in the shape of a Katana and sliced at the nearest standing warrior. He tried to catch my blade on his and even though his sword glowed with a green energy and my blade bounced off. I used the momentum to spin in a circle and took his legs out from under him before he had time for a second block. Then I was by him facing the elf with the staff.

He leveled his staff at me and blasted with a gold and green power. I brought my shield up and energy flared across it blinding me for a second. When the light cleared the elf, my mother, and the hole in the air were gone. I looked to my left and saw one warrior still on his feet. He looked at me with a grim determination and charged forward. As angry as I was I still had control, I lashed out with telekinesis. I pulled the sword from his hand and lifted him into the air. Then I hit him with a sleep spell and watched him pass out. I looked at the three wounded warriors who were starting to move and cast the same sleep spell on them.

A noise behind me caused me to turn, but Edgar had already warned me so I didn’t lash out. Instead I watched as Galohond had just landed in Elven form and looked around. The look of shock and anger on his face told me that I had at least one ally in the building. I suddenly felt like throwing myself into his arms and crying but I refused to give in. I would rescue my mother and then someone was going to pay for this.


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The End
of
Chapter 4
“An Unexpected Visit”
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