A/N: Well, I think you've all waited long enough for this fic. It took me a little while to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, but as soon as I did, it just kinda flowed out smoothly. Believe me, that won't last. Anyway, I've already started on the second chapter and that will be up by the end of this week, next week at the latest. See, told you I was working hard on this one. Anyway, hope you like it. And just a suggestion, you might want to read the prequel to this fic, It Should Have Happened Later, if you even expect to understand this one. Happy reading.
Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever own anything that belongs to Tamora Pierce. I just came up with the characters and things you don't recognize.
Dedication: To the people I love the most. I'll miss you for the next month. Therefore, this story is for Brenna, Jenny, Amy, Katlin, Amanda, and Libby.
Blasted Goddamn sun! Mithros! A person can't get any sleep in this country anymore. Not that I expected it. It's just, well; I really didn't want to wake up that day. I think it would have been a better idea to stay in bed, huddled beneath the heavy blankets of my bed. But no. Mithros decided that his happy little servants, the psycho energy balls of doom, should rise with the first rays of the sun and pounce heavily on the soft bed of their sleeping mother. Sometimes I really wish I never had kids.
"Mommy! Mommy, wake up!" Their voices chirped. I pulled the pillow tighter around my head.
"No." I protested. It was too early for this. They giggled and then two small hands pulled on the pillow I had clutched over my head. Another pair of hands joined in the struggle, but they were no match for my strength. Being a knight certainly had its benefits. I heard someone shift beside me and groan. The children continued to pull on my pillow and blankets. I felt my husband shift again, but he continued sleeping peacefully. I jabbed him lightly with my elbow, but forcefully enough that he woke up. "Wake up. Your children want you." I mumbled, peering at his peaceful face from under my pillow. He cracked an eye open at me.
"Since when are they my children?"
"Since I had to carry each of them for nine months, just so you could have your heirs." I responded, sitting up slowly and leaning against the back board. The kids were clapping in triumph. Duo sat up beside me, his braid a mess, but his violet eyes as beautiful as ever. I smiled at him in pleasure of seeing him that morning, but instantly I realized what I was doing and turned away, disgusted with myself. That day was not for smiling. Duo didn't notice, or at least he pretended not to.
"Then this one is mine," he laughed, picking up the six year old boy and tickling him. Devil grinned and laughed, wriggling in his father's arms. His four year old sister, Sera, crawled across the bed and settled herself in my lap to watch the antics of her father and brother. I kissed the top of her head, gently. She was the only child in the family with my hair color and eyes. Her hair was straight but curled slightly at the ends. Devil's eyes were even a deeper violet than his father's and his hair was short chestnut brown. These two were my babies.
"So that leaves me with this little monster?" I asked, tickling my daughter. She giggled.
"I'll watch them." I glanced toward the doorway of our bedroom that the children had left open.
"Kai!" Devlin threw himself out of Duo's arms and clambered off the bed, Sera right behind him. I looked into the violet eyes of my brown haired daughter, my angel. She was wearing black hose, a black silk shirt, and a gray tunic over it. Her hair was cut just below her earlobes. At thirteen, she was a very fine page and would enter her final year in the fall. She smiled at me slightly.
"Morning mom," Kaida told me, as she stooped to hug her brother and sister.
"Morning, Kai." She and I both knew better than to use the word 'good' to describe that day. Her outfit was identical to what I had laid out for myself, but they contrasted greatly with the light colors that Devlin and Sera wore.
"Morning, Papa." I heard her greet my husband who was standing beside the bed in a pair of loose breeches, his own black dress outfit laid on the chair across from him.
"Kai, where is your cousin?" I asked, getting out of bed. I glanced down at Devlin and Sera who were beginning to fuss at one another. Kaida seemed to realize this too, but as if nothing were going on, she casually separated them with her hands.
"Her room. She's really depressed today, more than usual this year. But she said she'll be alright. Sir Everic and Lady Knight Rika are already downstairs. We're all dressed and ready to go, as soon as I drop these two off at the nursery."
"Alright. Just tell your cousin that I'll be down in a little." I instructed her as I approached her and hugged her around the shoulders, kissing the top of her head. She smiled up at me.
"Yes, Ma'am." She responded, taking her siblings by the hands. I slowly closed the door as they left and Duo immediately began to change.
"Why are you wearing black, Kai?" I heard Devil's little voice ask. It was the same question he asked his older sister every year since he could talk, and every year Kaida told him the same thing. I had memorized her short speech and I knew she meant every word of it. I shut my eyes and repeated it with her, leaning against the wooden barrier.
"I'm wearing black to honor the people I loved, the people who saved me, the people who gave their lives so I could enjoy a free life. I'm wearing black to honor my heroes." I whispered as I felt a finger brush away a tear that had made it to my cheek unnoticed. Duo slipped his arms around me and held me close to him. "Duo," I began. He only shook his head and hugged me tighter.
"I know, Nira. I know." I nodded, and let him kiss me. Slowly we separated. We both had to get ready. While I wasn't happy about the circumstances, it wasn't every day that I got to see my 'adoptive' nieces and nephews, not to mention their parents. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them. I noise behind me drew my attention from my thoughts. Duo was done changing.
"Want me to wait, Love?"
"No, I'll be alright. Tell the others that I'll be down in a few minutes. Duo nodded.
"Yes, Ma'am." He winked and darted out as I threw a pillow at him. I slowly finished dressing in peace, and slipped my sword off its rack and into its sheath on my belt, on the left. Then I carefully lifted a heavier weapon from its spot. I only moved it once a year. I examined the blade which shimmered blue beneath the surface. A small dragon charm swung on short gold chain from the bottom of the axe's handle. I sighed and slipped it into its holder on my right, and then I left the room, my feet padding along the hall quietly.
A small glimmer of red caught my eye before it retreated behind a closed door. I shook my head and went to the room, then softly knocked.
"Come in," a small voice answered me. I opened the door slowly, and saw my niece sitting on her bed. There were tears in her eyes, and a few wet droplets on her black hose. There was gold thread in the collar of her shirt, and she didn't wear a tunic like Kaida, Duo, and I. I sighed as I observed the fourteen year old, Sir Everic's squire.
"I don't want to go." Her dark eyes flashed at me; her curly red hair was fighting its tie, and the tears were spilling down her face. I gently went over to her and held her in my arms.
"Baby, everyone expects to see you there. They want to see you."
"But they're going to ask stupid questions."
"What stupid questions, Sweetie?" I asked, pretending that I had no idea what she was talking about. I sat beside her on the bed as she brushed her tears away. Apparently big squires don't cry.
"They're going to ask if I'm alright." Enya retorted and then frowned, realizing what she said. I smiled at her, and hugged her shoulders again.
"That's not such a horrible thing to ask, is it?" I asked her. I felt her shoulders rise in a shrug against my arms.
"I guess not," she whispered, standing up and going over to her vanity. "And I suppose it'll be nice to see everyone once more before Sir Everic and I leave." I nodded, getting up and assisting her in taming her curls once again. I smiled. She really was her mother's daughter, but Tasuki had made it so that her curls were a bit more manageable.
"And your parents?" She nodded as soon as I released her head.
"I should go, shouldn't I?"
"And her I thought you would need my help figuring that out." She laughed slightly and turned and hugged me. I took the hint and kissed the top of her. I seemed to be doing that often. Motherhood sucks.
"Thanks, Aunt Nira."
"You're welcome, Enya. Come, your cousin, Uncle, and the love birds are waiting for us." I lead the way out of the room and down the stairs, only to find the others were already waiting in the carriages. It was going to be a few hours ride from Maxwell to Chorus; I'm glad we choose to leave the little ones with the nanny.
"Sadie! Bryce! What do you two think you're doing?" I screamed at the two children, who, wearing their best clothes were attempting to sneak down to the catacombs; Again, I might add.
"What do you two think you're doing?" A small, high pitched voice repeated me. The twins snickered. I slowly rolled my eyes and looked down at the small boy. He was no more than four years old, and his behavior was getting a bit tedious.
"Jasson, sweetie, Mommy is busy right now. Why don't you go play with your little sisters?" I knew the answer before I even gave the question. The toddler just shook his head, smiling.
"Uh-uh." Great, even four year olds didn't listen to me. Ok, no more Mrs. Nice Queen.
"Jasson of Conté, go play with your sisters in the nursery now." Jasson jumped and looked at me, pouting, his little lip quivering. Damn his cuteness. He was too much like me. I hung my head. Defeated by a child. "Please?" I added.
"Kay Mommy," he giggled, running off to do as I asked. I shook my head and shifted my attention to his older siblings, the two mischief makers of doom.
"I'll repeat myself; what are you doing?" Black clothing didn't mix. I didn't want to think about what people would say of the crown prince and his twin sister if they came in wearing dirty dress clothes.
"You're starting to sound like Jasson, Mum," Sadie replied. I sighed. What was I going to do with her? Bryce elbowed his twin, realizing that I was getting a bit frustrated with the twelve year olds.
"Nothing, mum. We were just-"
"You were what?"
"Trying to get in some fun before the ceremony starts." Sadie finished for her brother. I glared at them. Bryce must have seen the look on my face because he instantly spoke up again.
"It was all my idea, mum. Sadie just came along." My ever valiant son. He wouldn't let any harm come to the women he cared about. He even tried to protect Enya and Kaida, even thought they were older than him and able to fend for themselves. I shook my head, unable to stay too mad.
"Come on, you two. Everyone will be here soon. You both have to be on your best behavior."
"Why? Because we're royalty?" Bryce snapped. Sometimes he resented being the prince. I shook my head, ruffling his hair with my hand.
"No, because we're honoring your aunts and Sir Tasuki." Sadie nodded understanding to my statement. They had both been very young when their aunts died. I wondered if they even remembered them. "Come on," I said, leading the way back through the castle, and into the throne room. The services would be held in the temple of the black god, open to all who could attend, but a small gathering of the deceased family and close friends would be held later in the throne room where the servants were currently setting up under my supervision. I surveyed the area, sitting down on the steps and sighing.
"Mama? Can we go play with Jasson, Cassy, and Damy?" Sadie asked. It had been a while since she called me that. I smiled slightly and nodded. She and her twin brother took off to see their little brother and the other set of twin children I had been rewarded with, Cassara and Damita.
"Great Kids, aren't they?" I whirled around to find the source of the voice that had chosen to startle me, and glared.
"Easy for you too say, you weren't the one who was up at the crack of dawn with them, or running around playing disciplinary parent." I retorted, taking my husbands hands as he pulled me to my feet. His blue eyes shone brilliantly. The looked great beneath his curly black hair. He was perfect. Tall, dark, and handsome. What more could I want?
"You're the one who fired the wet nurses, and almost every other nurse we have, as a matter of fact, Kyli." I wanted to slap the smug look off his face, but at the same time, I wanted to kiss him.
"Ah, but you were the one who let me, not to mention the one who removed the pregnancy charm from around my neck." I retorted, suppressing the urge to run my fingers through his hair. Katlin, control yourself, you're arguing with him, this is no time to want your hands down his pants. He smiled innocently and began kissing my neck. "Oh, no. No you don't mister. That's how I got in this situation in the first place." I placed my hand against his mouth and smiled. Then kissed him lightly on the cheek and sped off. As his wife, I wanted to have fun with him in ways only I could devise; but as the Queen, I had too much too do. Besides, the guests would be there soon. I didn't have enough time to play with my King.
I don't know why the adults thought it necessary to have the ceremony so early in the morning every year, but it was actually starting to get on my nerves. I mean, I worked my butt off since I was barely six years old, and now, even when I finish all my schooling, and get my mastery, I still have to wake up early. I yawned slightly, tying my blond hair back into a horse tail and searching the entrance hall to the palace carefully. We must have been the first to arrive. And to tell you the truth, that was surprising, especially with how long it took my sister and brother to get ready. Chichiri and I had to practically fight with the eleven year olds to get them to wear black. And Trinity didn't even want to come. Not that I could blame her. I wasn't one for honoring the dead in such a fantastic way. I would have preferred to mourn them on my own, where it was quiet, and possibly just with Trowa. He is the only one who ever truly understood me. Speaking of my betrothed, I looked around for him. He and his squire should have been there already, with my older sister in tow. I mean, I did bring her lover. I laughed at that thought. It was hard to think of Libby, my tough girl, my knight sister, having a lover like Chichiri Clearwater.
A sound behind me made me turn around and see Chichiri holding a vase that had been knocked off a pedestal by my twin terror siblings. In truth, they were triplets, but Triveni had died when we were really young. She died before mom did. Chichiri just smiled innocently as he placed the vase back on its perch and the kids ran off in search of Prince Bryce and Princess Sadie. I shook my head at him. I rest my case. Chichiri is not who I thought Libby would wind up with. But he was sweet, and she deserved him.
Suddenly a voice behind me broke through my concentration. "Amy! Chichiri! Welcome!" I turned and smiled back at the Queen.
"Hi, Aunt Kyli." Ok, so I knew her name was Katlin, but that was in the world she and the rest of our mother's had retreated to for four years. But they came back, and most of them were going to stay. And I do mean MOST not ALL. But then mom and three of my aunts died in the war. I should have been allowed to help. I could have blown something up. Stupid rule about not being old enough. I hugged my aunt. Ok, so she wasn't blood, but she and Aunt Nira had been like second mothers to me, Libby, Trey, and Trinity. I looked over her shoulder though, still searching for my ever elusive Knight in shining armor.
"Oh, Amy. Stop that. Trowa is already here. He's in the chapel with Dara and your sister. They wanted some time alone with the black god before the ceremony." The queen told me. I smile. She always knew what I was thinking, but sometimes, when she looked at me, I knew she saw a younger version of her friend, the one whose name and appearance I shared. I hugged her again, reminding her of how thankful we all were that she and Aunt Nira had chosen to stay and take care of us.
"I'll go see Libby. I hope you don't mind, but Trey and Trinity ran off in search of Bryce and Sadie." I told her, gathering the ends of my black robe tighter against me, picturing them as Trowa's arms. I had chosen to wear my robe over my black dress. I wanted to show mom that I had done it. I had gotten my mastery at eighteen. Aunt Kyli seemed to know this. She smiled at me.
"That's fine. You two go on." I nodded and lead the way down the corridors to the chapel. I paused for a moment, seeing it slightly open. One thing, I hadn't seen Trowa in several months. The second thing was, Libby and I hadn't seen each other in over a year. I hadn't been able to make it to her Ordeal at midwinter. All I was able to do was stay up late with Chichiri finishing a spell the older masters had demanded of us. Sometimes it sucked being a rookie. I mean, Libby had been there for my ordeal and I couldn't be there for hers. I had prayed to Mithros that night. The only time I had ever prayed harder was when Mom and dad went to war, and obviously that worked out real well, didn't it. But Libby had made it through and had gotten her shield. My biggest fear was that she'd be angry that I wasn't there for her. Chichiri put his hand on my shoulder, willing me to be stronger. To go into that chapel. I nodded slowly. He was right. My hand turned the door handle and I stepped in, feeling the brisk chill that always filled the Black God's shrine.
I looked up, startled from my meditation to see her walking in. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had missed her so much. I wasted no time getting to my feet and running to her. I threw my arms around my twin's shoulders. She must have been surprised because she blinked for a second and then slowly let her arms wrap around me. I pulled back and stared at her, slightly worried. Was something wrong? Well, wronger than the fact that for the past eight years we had to mourn our mother and other people we loved because of the stupidity of a damn Carthaki Knight. If I had the chance I would have killed him myself, but I was only a page at that time.
"Amy? What's wrong?" I asked her, searching her blue eyes for an answer. She smiled slightly and shook her head, looking down at her feet. She looked really good in the black robe. I knew she'd get it. I had total faith in my sister as the mage. I had a small bit of the gift. I had developed the ability to heal at about eleven or twelve. Mom would have been happy to know that. But Amy still refused to answer me. "Ames?"
"I-I just thought you'd be mad at me for not being at your Ordeal," she confessed. She had been allowed to attend Trowa's but the masters had made Chichiri and Amy work on that damn spell until it was finished and they couldn't come. I understood. I laughed.
"Me? Mad at you?" I asked her laughing. "Name one time when I ever got mad at you."
"Well, there was that time when we were two and I got lost and wound up in King Jonathan's office."
I glared at her. Bring that up will she. "Besides that!" I demanded, half laughing at how she remembered something that happened when we were toddlers.
"When Triveni died and I blamed it on mom."
I looked at my feet and made the sign of Mithros over my heart. Somehow, I knew Amy didn't. She had a cold look in her eyes. She loved mom, I know she did. We all did. But Amy was still mad at her. She couldn't forgive her for abandoning us when we were six, for four years. I mean, I guess you could say the rest of us were weak for forgiving them so easily, but Amy held it as a personal grudge. I shook my head. "Let's not get into that now, Amy." She nodded in agreement.
"Um… Libby, can I have a turn?" A male voice asked behind me. I looked up at Trowa and then back at Amy to see that I was still holding her hands. I laughed, and nodded, turning to my own love, as Trowa wasted no time before sticking his tongue in Amy's mouth. I had to grin. I remember the story Amy told me about when they were little and he kissed her just to see what it felt like, and then walked away.
"Guess he sees what grown ups find in kisses now." I laughed. Suddenly strong arms closed in on my shoulders.
"So do I," Chichiri remarked, kissing my neck. I turned in his hold and placed my lips against his.
"Um… hello! Squire in the room! Quit the love fest!" Talk about a voice to make you jump. I don't think I ever wanted to kill Dara as much at that moment than ever before. And that includes the time he stole my practice sword and speared Amy's doll across it. Amy must have heard him too, because she was glaring ice crystals at him, and really, she could have burned him to a crisp in seconds if she wanted to. Trowa, who's arm was draped across my sister's shoulder was the first to break the silence, and the staring competition between myself, Dara, and Amy. Good thing, because Dara was probably about to die. Stupid little brat. Well, ok, so he was only about three years younger than Amy and I; but that didn't mean I had to treat him like an adult. Especially when he did things like that.
"He's right. We probably shouldn't be making out in the black god's temple anyway." Amy nodded and Chichiri and I released each other, rather reluctantly. Not only had I not seen my sister for a year, I hadn't seen my betrothed either. I sighed and turned my attention back to Amy.
"Ames, is Trinity here?"
She nodded and let go of Trowa, who wandered over to his squire to give him a little talk in subtly. "She and Trey are with Sadie and Bryce." I looked at her curious. Did she say Trey?
"Wait, what? Trey?"
"Yeah, his shang master let him off for the ceremony this year." Amy explained. I nodded. "And, I don't know if dad will be here." Again, I could do nothing but nod. Dad, the Shang Griffin. I sighed. The last time either of us had heard from Dad was when I won my shield and Amy got her mastery. He wasn't even at the ordeals, just letters congratulating us. Trey lived with the Shang since he was five. The only one who ever saw Dad was Trinity, and that wasn't a usual thing. Usually she stayed with the nannies. Dad was always traveling.
"I wouldn't count on it." I retorted. Trowa and Dara joined us, at the doorway to the chapel.
"Come on, they've got to get it ready for the ceremony." Trowa said, getting nods from the rest of us. Dara lead the way and then halfway down the hall, he left us to go in search of His aunt and uncle. He wanted to know if Kaida, Enya, or his sister had arrived yet.
"He'll make a good knight, won't he?" Amy asked Trowa. Trowa smiled and nodded. "So will Kaida and Enya."
"I hope so." I responded. "For Aunt Brya's sake. She would be so proud to have her only child follow in her footsteps." We wondered into the entrance hall, only to find that everyone who mattered was finally here. Aunt Nira and Uncle Duo with Kaida, Enya, and Sir Everic and his wife Lady Rika; Uncle Damien with Aurora; Aunt Kyli and Uncle Liam were talking with the other adults. Trey, Trinity, Bryce, Sadie, and Aurora were in the corner laughing, and trying to entertain themselves in a way they wouldn't get dirty. And then Dara stood against the wall, Kaida and Enya with him. The three looked miserable. I suppose they were the only three old enough to really understand. And poor Enya. I was really close to her mom. I went over and put my arms around her shoulders. She looked up at me. "Hey." I whispered. She smiled slightly. "I'm glad you came." I told her that every year. She needed to hear it. Uncle Liam's voice coughed behind me, and I knew it was time. They were calling us into the ceremony. We'd go in and sit first, and then the ceremony would be open to the public. The same thing every year. I felt Enya slip her hand into mine. I smiled at her again. Kaida was talking to Amy about the gift, she had a healing power, just like her little siblings. Dara walked with his hands in his pockets, shooting glancing at his little sister, making sure she was ok. Trinity and Trey walked quietly, looking around constantly for someone. Dad. I knew that much. Sadie and Bryce were trying to be as respectable as possible, but they were only twelve. Oh well, the same old thing.
Eight months. It's been eight months. I'm supposed to be a happily married woman. So much for that. I suppose it was bound to fail. So yeah, I married Adam. We had a good first month. But it wasn't meant to be. It was a mutual decision, but I suppose it was more my fault. I never ever stopped loving my first husband, and really I don't think I can. I haven't seen Adam since the divorce last month, when it finally went through. I guess that's a good thing. I barely made it through this whole ordeal. I'm just glad to have had my friends. But my best friend; she doesn't even know I'm alive. I sat down on the steps outside the apartment I had moved back into with Libby, Amanda, and Amy. Brenna and Tasuki shared one in the building across the lawn. Melissa had moved back to New York having got a job with the New York Times. Nicole would have been proud of her. Really proud of her. I sighed. Libby was busy at med school and work. Brenna and Amy were down at the anime store. I had the privilege of getting the day off. Sometimes I absolutely loved my boss. She knew when I needed a break, my ability to write my column was slipping. Amanda was off on another traveling job. She was due back some time soon though. I heard a sound behind me. Or now.
"Jenny?" I spun around, but it wasn't Amanda. It was Adam. My eyes bulged as I looked at him. He looked horrible, miserable, tortured.
"Why did you leave? We could have worked it out?"
"Adam, I don't know what you're talking about. We both decided it wasn't working." I retorted, getting to my feet and backing away from him.
"It's all that god damn books fault. Jenny you book lover isn't real! He's a character in a story! His love is fake! But me! I'm real! I can be here for you!" Ok, see now he was scaring me. I shook my head violently, shaking the tears from my eyes. How did he know I'd be alone. He stepped closer and I immediately took a step back. No. There was no way he was touching me. But yet his hand reached out and brushed my cheek gently. It made me shudder, and suddenly he slapped me, knocking me back. And I would have slammed into the cement, had someone not been behind me and caught me before my head was smashed on the sidewalk. That would have really made the apartment a bitch to sell if we had to. I mean how do you explain blood stains. 'And here is where our roommate's head cracked open'. Oh yeah, that would really sell the place.
"Adam! Get out of here if you don't want me to call the cops." The voice behind the arms that had caught me said. My eyes weren't focusing right because of the slap. I heard Adam call some warning out to us. Something about we'd be sorry, but then he ran off. I looked up at the person who'd caught me.
"Nicole?" She shook her head and sighed, helping me to my feet.
"He must have hit you harder than I thought. You know just as well as I do that Nicole and Katlin are in Tortall, and that they don't even know we're alive." She sat me on the steps and went in to get an ice pack, re-emerging from the apartment second later. She laid it against my cheek.
"Sorry, Amanda." I replied, finally realizing who it was. She just nodded, and leaned back against the railing. The sun was beginning to set.
"Why were you out here alone? You know he's dangerous. That's why we had you take a restraining order out against him." Oh yeah. Did I forget to mention that? So the divorce wasn't an entirely mutual decision. Adam only signed it because my friends threatened to castrate him. In fact, he went ballistic when I even suggested the divorce.
"The other's are all at work, and I was tired of being cooped up in the house all day." She looked at me funny. "I've taken a break, with pay, from work." She nodded.
"You still shouldn't have come out here alone. If you want to get out of the house, next time go down to Brenna's store." I nodded. It made sense.
"Yeah I will, next time."
"You will what?" A voice asked. I looked up slowly. Amy was ambling towards us, Brenna and Tasuki right behind her. Since my wedding, those two were attached at the hip, but Brenna did give him a beating for orphaning their daughter. However, I didn't know if Damien was still alive or not, but guessing that Tangora probably would have sent him to me, it was more likely that my children still had a father.
"She was sitting out here by herself and Adam showed up."
"Mother Fucker." Tasuki remarked. I smiled. It was really funny how he picked up our earth dialogue so easily.
"What did the bastard want?" Brenna asked, protectively wrapping her arms around my shoulders. I shrugged.
"The same thing he always wants." Amanda informed her, placing the ice pack in my hand. I gently placed it on my cheek bone.
"He hurt you didn't he?" Amy asked, looking rather scary. Uh-oh.
"No no. I'm fine"
"The hell, you're fine." A new voice rang through out group. I looked up to see Libby closing in. "I've seen better bruises on patients who have been in car wrecks. What did he do? Hit you with a battering ram?" Libby asked, fishing through her bag for some ointment to decrease the swelling.
"No. His hand." I said, trying to laugh. Damn it hurt.
"Same difference," Tasuki told me.
"I'm gonna kill him." Brenna said, getting to her feet. Amy nodded and joined her.
"Don't forget your back up." I guess neither of them saw the alarmed look I gave them. They wouldn't just beat him up. They really would kill him. Brenna hadn't completely forgotten how to use a sword, although her and Tasuki's abilities had diminished greatly.
"No. Please, just forget it. He's not worth it." I said the same time each time Adam showed up. Somehow it worked. I didn't want them to hurt him. After all, it was my fault for still loving Damien.
"Fine. But if he does it again…" Brenna began. I cut her off by nodding vigorously and throwing my arms around her. She was startled, but slowly I felt her close her arms around me. I could feel the other's consenting to let it go, but secretly I knew that this was probably his last get out of jail (or death) free card. I sighed as Brenna released me, took Tasuki by the hand and ushered me into the apartment since we'd all be eating together that night. I just hoped for Adam's sake that he stayed away.
Eight months have passed since I left Tortall, and truth be told, I do miss it. I miss having the gift and being able to blow my problems to pieces with it. And to be totally honest, I do miss the rug rats. All four of them. I would say five, but I knew Triveni was dead. Tolin had told me. However, I had absolutely no clue how fast time was passing in that damn book. For all I knew my babies could be older than me. Or worse, dead. I sighed and lay back on my bed. It was a Friday night, which meant movie night for our group. I should have said I was too tired to go, because really I was, but after what happened to Jenny earlier, I wasn't going to stay behind. Five guards were better than four, and while I didn't have my magic, I could still beat the shit out of him if I wanted too. Jenny need only say so. Not that she would. She blamed herself for what had happened, but really, it wasn't her fault.
"Yeah," I called from my room. I really had no clue who was calling me. I was also too sleepy to care. That is until Tasuki pocked his head in. I threw my pillow at him, but missed. His knight reflexes still existed, even though he had been an earthling for eight months. "Don't you know how to knock?"
"I called your name and you answered." He shrugged not taking the hint from the flying pillow.
"I thought you were one of the girls. Not that that was a big mistake." I sneered. I wasn't in the mood to be nice. Besides, he was Brenna's husband (of three months) and it was fun. He rolled his eyes, and I gave in. "What's up?"
"Why are you telling me? Why not Brenna?" I frowned at him. Something must be up if he was coming to me and not his wife.
"I didn't want to frighten her."
"With what, Tasuki?"
"Well, lets just say that I'm a book character, from another world, that technically doesn't exist."
"Oh shit." I responded. Damn damn damn. Tasuki why? Why did he wait until now to tell us. We really didn't need this. I didn't need this. If we thought Brenna was in a slump the first time, she'd die (for real) this time. How much damn time was left. And how could we stop it. He nodded, obviously unaware of my thoughts. "How much time?"
"WHAT! And you knew about this for how long?" He looked away. Oh my god. He'd always known. And he kept it a secret. A year? A fuckin year. Damn it. I knew dieing had to have messed up his brain somehow. How could he have married her and not told her. "Is there anything we can do to stop it?"
"Two ways. One, we have to go back to Tortall, and stay there. Or…" Or what? I really wanted to know, because at this point, there was no way back into Tortall. We had burned the book, although a tad bit reluctantly. Brenna had refused to watch. "Or she has to get pregnant with my child." Ok, see, if this was an anime, I would totally have sweat dropped. They'd been married an entire three months, on earth. I suppose in earth time, it might be too soon for a child, but they had been married for years and they did already have a daughter.
"You need to tell her." I told him simply, standing up and grabbing my watch. It was time to go. I threw my coat on. "And soon. Like in the car on the way to the theater." He winced. "The sooner she knows, the better. And I have a feeling we won't be seeing much of you for a few nights. At least until she's got another bun in the oven." It was totally Tasuki's turn to sweat drop.
"Amanda! Are you torturing my husband again?" Brenna's voice carried into the room.
"No. I fact, it's the other way around." I walked past Tasuki and out of the room, knocking on Amy's door. Usually Tasuki and I drove. Jenny and Libby with me, and Amy and Brenna with him. Tonight, Amy would also be riding with me. I turned back and gave Tasuki a meaningful look. He nodded and I walked off. Tonight would certainly be interesting.
Ok, so I thought I was pissed at him before. I thought there was nothing else he could possibly do to make me hate him anymore that I had once. But at the same time, I never loved him more. But I was just so mad. After he told me, I spent the rest of the car ride in silence. Someone else had to know, or they wouldn't have convinced Amy not to ride to the theater with Tasuki and I. Someone had to know, and I was determined to find out who. I sighed. Ok, so maybe that didn't matter. All that did matter was that I had only four months left with my husband before he disappeared. Well, unless one of two things occurred. One, we found a way back into Tortall and we stayed there. Not that I minded that at all. In fact, going back would be one of the best things in the entire world to happen to me, but it wasn't likely. After all, the only known portal we had was a pile of ashes in Libby's kitchen. Yeah, we hadn't the heart to scatter them after we burned that damn book. The second choice I was only half thrilled about. While I wanted to have his children, and I already had had one, I didn't really want to get pregnant three months into the marriage. Ok, so yeah it was technically years into our marriage, but I was technically only twenty three years old.
I felt the car come to a halt, rather than watched it. I was looking out the window, but really, I didn't see anything. I was sort of in a daze, but I knew exactly what I had to do. I pulled my hair back from my eyes so that the night wind wouldn't catch it and blow it all over. I slid my seat belt off and opened the car door slowly, stepping out onto the asphalt parking lot. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Yeah, I had definitely never been this upset before. I felt him by my side before I heard or saw him. He slid his hand comfortingly into mine. I wanted to clasp it tighter and yet at the same time, pull my hand back to show him I was hurt. But then, he squeezed my hand and my fingers ran along the slick gold surface of his wedding ring. A small smile crept over my face. Alright, so I couldn't stay mad at him. Not when he was so cute.
"Brya?" I blinked. He hadn't called me that since the first month he'd been on earth. I looked up into his face, but I didn't say anything and he didn't look at me. And he didn't correct himself either. "Remember that time? With the people in the fire? And the girl?" I nodded and squeezed his hand. Of course I remembered his heroics. He called me an angel then. "I almost didn't make it." The shock must have been in my touch because what he said next surprised me even more. "Yeah. There was moment in there, when I had the girl on my back, there was fire burning everywhere. I could feel the flames surrounding me, engulfing me. But there was a voice. He told me that I couldn't die. That there was someone I was supposed to live for, and I couldn't die until she was ready to let go. I could never leave her side. And there were several times when I thought that that moment had come. The first was when you left Enya and I. And the second, was when you died. Brya, I was meant to stay with you until you're ready to let me go, and if you're not ready yet, then I'm not going anywhere. I'll be with you forever. I promise." I knew I had tears in my eyes. But I couldn't say anything. He squeezed my hand again. "Understand, Brenna?" I nodded slowly, reaching up and kissing his lips softly. The others were standing by Amanda's car. Shit it was her. She was the one who knew about Tasuki. I guess I would have to thank her later for giving me the chance to be with him alone and find out. They slowly approached us, and I smiled.
"Let's get this over with quickly. I have more important matters to attend to." I muttered.
"Over sharing." Amanda coughed. I glared at her, while Tasuki blushed. Jenny, Libby, and Amy just looked puzzled. Ok, so obviously Amanda hadn't told anyone. That was my call. My responsibility. Ok, well, if everything worked out, and by that I meant, if I was pregnant within the next few months, I didn't see any reason for them to have to know. We approached the theater and Amy looked up at the movies.
"Damn, there's nothing good playing." She pouted.
"She's right." Jenny responded, leaning over my shoulder. The others nodded. Alright, then. I could go home. I could get a move on this whole plan. "Now what?" Jenny asked. Amanda shrugged. And then it was Libby's turn.
"Why not skip the movie?" Yes! My hero! "And go to the bookstore/café instead?" Damn it. Then Jenny and Amy were nodding and mumbling agreement before even a second had passed. It was either agree and loose precious time, or look completely suspicious. I shot Amanda a glare. And she returned with her own look that seemed to say 'what do you expect me to do.' I wanted to yell 'FIX THIS' but something was stopping me. Probably my pride. I mean, we were in the middle of the parking lot on a Friday night at one of the busiest places in the city. And secondly, how do you explain wanting to rush home right that minute to procreate with your husband. So, reluctantly, I followed the others into the store. I better get cookies with that coffee!
How long did we sit there? I know Libby's idea to go to the store was a good one, but did we really have to sit for three hours? Those chairs are really hard. And there was something weird going on, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Tasuki was clinging to Brenna as if his life depended on it. And Brenna kept fidgeting all night. Glancing at her watch ever few minutes. I was really tired. Thank god, tomorrow was Saturday. I wasn't going to have the mental capacity for work in the morning. I hid a yawn because as deeply as I would have liked to go, Jenny and Libby were engaged in conversation. Tasuki and Amanda seemed to have succeeded in getting Brenna's mind off her watch long enough to enjoy herself. She was talking about some weird blue stone. I shrugged it off. It must have had something to do with their time in Tortall. I yawned again. Alright, any longer and I was going to scream. My butt was getting sore. I stood up and stretched.
"Where you going, Ames?" Libby asked. I smiled and picked up my cell phone. I twirled it in my hands and winked.
"To call Austin." I laughed, strolling off toward the rest rooms. YAY for calling the fiancé. He was away on business for the week, otherwise he would have been with us. It made me sad that he didn't remember who Katlin was. It seemed like only Libby and I even recalled Nicole and Katlin's existence on earth, and to tell the truth, it was getting harder and harder to hold onto those memories. I sighed and began to dial. It rang for a few minutes and then I heard his voice. I was about to speak when I realized it was his recording. He wasn't answering the phone. He was probably still busy with work. Reluctantly, I left a message telling him to call me back at any time, day or night, it didn't matter. I just really wanted to speak to him. I hated when I couldn't speak tohim. It made me worried.Then I closed the phone and began walking back to Brenna and the others. As I was walking, I tripped over a book, and landed face down in the carpet. It kinda hurt. I rubbed my knees and looked back at the book. The thing was the size of an unabridged dictionary. How the hell could I not have seen it? Weirdness number one. I crawled over to the thick book, and opened it. The pages were blank, all except the first few pages, and then the writing was in French. Ok, Weirdness number two. I shook my head and stood up, about to push the book back into the shelves so no other wandering patrons of the store would trip. But then, Weirdness number three. I had a strange calling to bring the book to the other's and see if they could make any sense of it. And the weirdest part was, I listened to that calling.
Carefully, I placed the nameless volume on the table that Brenna, Libby, Jenny, Tasuki, and Amanda were sitting at.
"How's Austin, Amy?" Jenny asked me. I shook my head.
"Got the answering machine. He'll call me back later, I hope. Look what I found." I gestured to the book. Brenna and Amanda frowned at it. The older of the two slid her hand along the leather cover.
"What is it Amy?" Brenna asked me, her attention leaving the book and focusing on my face. I shrugged.
"Where did you find it?" Amanda asked. I really have no idea what we all found so fascinating about the book, except for the fact that it was bigger than a dictionary. Jenny pulled the book closer to her when Amanda spoke to me.
"Over there." I retorted, pointing to the isles.
"Uh, guys… we have a problem." Jenny spoke. Libby was looking at the blank pages, just as I was.
"What's wrong? It's just a book of blank pages." She told Jenny. I nodded, but Jenny shook her head.
"You don't see it?" Brenna, Amanda, Tasuki and I looked over her shoulder. I still say the book was blank, but the others' eyes got really wide. "It's a funeral of some sort."
"What do you see?" Libby asked.
"Moving pictures. People. I can't hear them though. They're all standing up and leaving the room." Brenna told Libby and I. Ok, so did anyone notice that it was only the two who had never been to Tortall that couldn't see this? Nope.
"This is creepy." Tasuki said. "Close the book."
"Right." I said, taking the book and shutting it. It swung back open suddenly and the next thing I knew, I was watching the other five get surrounded by a swirl of colors, and then I myself, was captured by the swirling light.
"Oh shit!" Amanda exclaimed, as she brushed the dust off of her jeans and looked around her. Not again. It just couldn't happen again. She took a deep breath and stood up, reaching a hand down to help Jenny stand. Brenna and Tasuki were admiring their surroundings, while Amy and Libby just looked scared and confused.
"Are we back?" Jenny asked, not really knowing what else to say. Amanda shrugged.
"Not sure. If we are, I don't remember this place."
"I think we are in Tortall," Tasuki informed them. "Judging solely from the fact that that building in front of us is the palace." He pointed to the building across the court yard. Brenna, Amanda, and Jenny just stared at it, dumb founded. Amy and Libby were in shock. Did they say Tortall? As in the book? Ok, so not good. Brenna began to look around.
"Crap! No body move." Everyone looked at her as if she had sprouted five heads. "I found more proof that we're back in Tortall. Look where you're standing." Amy and Libby looked down and saw nothing but green grass. However, each of the four beside them was standing on a grave site. Each marker was different and held a name and description of the person who laid there. And each one was there name in Tortall. Amanda stooped and slowly ran her fingers over the grave marked, Ariana Starstone. She swallowed the lump that had risen in her throat.
"How long do you think it's been?" Jenny asked, trying to ignore the fact that she was standing on her own grave. It made her shudder to think about it.
"I could have been a few weeks, months, years, hell it could have been decades." Tasuki explained. The other's nodded, still leaving Amy and Libby in a fog.
"Would anyone mind explaining what the hell is going on?" Libby snapped.
"Yeah, we're just a little confused."
Brenna blinked at them and was about to explain when Amanda cut her off.
"Shh… someone's coming. This is going to look really strange, no matter how long it's been. Everyone get behind that wall." She pointed to the stone wall a few feet away from the graves and they immediately hid as two woman began to pass.
"Your Majesty, I don't see why you won't let me leave Chorus to protect the boarder. I'm as much a knight as I am your protector," One of the women was arguing.
"Yes, but the truth is, you are still and will always be my protector. Besides, the children need you." The second, who appeared to be the queen responded calmly.
"They'd need me more if I were allowed to do something to protect them instead of sitting around looking pretty all the time." The first woman argued back.
"Listen, I won't…." Her words were cut off as blinding light filled the courtyard. The first woman drew her sword from it's sheath and stepped in front of the queen, who had stood defenselessly behind her. "Damn, I should have brought my cross bow," Brenna and the other's heard her mutter from their hiding place.
"What do you want?" The first woman glared at the man who had appeared before them. He was dressed in nothing but a wrap around skirt, but was decorated with beads and gold.
I WANT TO GIVE YOU ONE LAST CHANCE TO HELP ME GET REVENGE ON TANGORA.
"If we've told you once, Dormitus, we've told you a hundred times. As much as we hate him, we are sick and tired of messing in the affairs of Gods. So beat it." The second woman yelled at him. Jenny and the other's sat in wonder, all except Amy and Libby, who were just really scared. This man, or God, as the sound of his voice suggested, wanted revenge on their enemy and these two women wouldn't help. Well, if they sent him away, Brenna was certainly willing to help, and she bet Jenny and Amanda would too.
IF YOUR ARE NOT MY ALLI, THEN YOU SHALL BE MY ENEMY Dormitus responded. The first woman shrugged her shoulders.
"So mote it be." He glared at her, but she threatened with her sword. He instantly backed off.
AS YOU WISH! He said and disappeared.
"You really should have let me blow his balls off when we had the chance." The queen informed her knight. The knight nodded, smothering a laugh.
"Yeah, you're right." She sighed. "What are we going to do?"
"Kick his ass?" Brenna flinched. A queen wouldn't talk like that.
"That's a little weird behavior for a queen, don't you think?" She asked Amanda, who nodded. Jenny and Tasuki nodded too.
"But back to what I was saying. Just because you want to fight, doesn't mean I'm going to let you. I know you're a knight. I know you want action and you're tired of sitting around. But, damn it, Nicole! I'm not going to let another of my friends get killed."
"WHAT!" Amy and Libby both jumped up hearing Nicole's name come from the queen's mouth. Brenna, Jenny, and Amanda, ducked lower behind the wall, their eyes wide looking at each other. Obviously it hadn't been that long, but it had to have been long enough since they hadn't recognized their friends. They looked much older than they remembered.
"Amy! Libby!" Katlin exclaimed. Brenna, Amanda, and Jenny, breathed out. They weren't shocked to find them in Tortall. "What are you doing in the court yard? Where are the boys?" Brenna blinked. Or maybe not.
"Uh… what boys?" Libby asked. Something wasn't right. Katlin shook her head and opened her mouth.
"Wait. What are you two wearing?" Nicole asked them. "Amy, have you been conjuring clothing from earth again?" Amy just stared at her dumbfounded. "Come on, let's go change." She began to lead the way to the palace, but Amy and Libby just stared at her.
"What are you waiting for? Let's go, you too. I've got enough to do without any mischief. You're not exactly adults yet." Katlin ushered them. The two earth girls were in too much shock to protest, and began to follow, leaving Katlin to bring up the rear.
"What just happened?" Jenny asked, peeking over the wall.
"I have absolutely no idea." Brenna said, shaking her head and looking at the four leaving the court yard. "But that was definitely Nicole and Katlin, but they're much older than we are." Jenny nodded. "And they acted as if Amy and Libby were part of the world. Like they knew what was going on. How can that be?" Tasuki and Jenny shrugged.
"I think I know," Amanda told them. Brenna and Jenny looked at her funny. "My twin daughters." Brenna's eyes got wider. "Depending on exactly how much time has passed, they could look alike."
"Yeah, let's go. This is going to cause more problems than us being alive will." Jenny said. The other's nodded and they followed their friends to the palace. Suddenly they saw them pass by a small Library.
"Oh, here you guys are." Nicole told the people inside. "I think we found something of yours." She smiled and pushed Amy and Libby into the room.
"They were taking a while in the wash room," Trowa said smiling. Amy was completely stumped. Here was the character she thought was absolutely wonderful, standing right in front of her. Before she knew it, he was holding her hand. Libby couldn't even contemplate how it was possible that Chichiri was looking at her with longing. And before either of them knew it, the men had their lips pressed against their own, and they were too, baffled to stop it.
"What in the name of Mithros is going on here?" A voice from behind Trowa and Chichiri made them freeze. The released the girls they were holding.
"Trowa? What are you doing?" A second voice, asked, hurt.
"Amy?" He asked turning around. The girl nodded. "But… but…" He pushed the girl he had been kissing in front of him. Both Amy's blinked.
Chichiri did the same thing, except neither Libby even dared to try her voice.
"What in the world is going on here!" Katlin exclaimed.
"I believe it would be our job to explain that one." Brenna said, standing behind the whole group. Nicole and Katlin looked at each other nervously before turning around. If they looked, it could be one of two things. The first, so little mage brat playing a trick on them, pretending to sound like their friends and then, no only would they be confused as hell, but they'd be pissed as hell also. The second, and the least likely, was that Mithros had finally took pity on them, and returned their friends.
"I don't want to look." Katlin told Nicole pouting.
"I don't blame you."
"Will you two just turn around already?" Amanda snapped. Ok, no one could imitate that. Both women slowly turned around.
"Oh my god." Nicole threw herself at Jenny, while Katlin latched hold of Brenna's neck. "I don't believe this. I fuckin don't believe that this is happening."
"Well, nymph, believe it, or my daughters are going to kill our other friends." Amanda told her, pointing over her shoulder.
Libby had her blade drawn and placed at her earth counterpart's neck, while Amy was creating a bright red energy ball in her hands, and glaring at her own counter part.
"Shit! Amy, Libby. Stop it!" Katlin screamed, letting go of Brenna.
"But she kissed my betrothed." Amy protested.
"I did not! He kissed me. I have my own fiancé." The older girl stated. Amy let the energy ball die and lowered her hands.
"You're that girl. The one we met when our mother's abandoned us." Amy realized. Amanda flinched. Crap, Amy didn't sound to happy.
"I didn't abandon you." She clapped her hands over her mouth. Ok, obviously her daughter was a powerful mage now. Black robe and all. And Amanda really wasn't sure if her own gift had returned. Libby's sword dropped from her hands.
"Mom?" She looked at her mother, her mind spinning. "Aunt Brya? Aunt Jolin?" She ran over and through her arms around Amanda's shoulders. Nicole had ceased to release Jenny, trying to let what was happening sink in. Both she and Katlin had tears in their eyes. Amanda cautiously hugged her oldest child back, and slowly released her. Amy had walked closer, examining her mother.
"Mom? Is it really?" She was asking herself, more than the woman in front of her. Amanda nodded slowly. Amy's lip shivered. "WHY!" She yelled, and a burst of energy flew straight at Amanda, suddenly a shield went up around the older woman and the magic just dispersed on impact. Amy was breathing hard.
"Amy!" Nicole and Katlin snapped at the same time.
"I-I didn't do it on purpose." Amy argued, tears in her eyes. Trowa wrapped her arms around his fiancé. She turned and began to cry into his tunic. He smoothed her head against him.
"It's alright, Amy. I know you're mad at me." Amanda told her, brushing her sleeves off. "I'd be mad at me too." She sighed. Well, she knew one thing for sure. She had her gift back, and she had given Tortall one very powerful mage. Amy just looked at her, while her sister looked on, slightly upset by her younger twin. The earth Amy and Libby looked as if they were about to pass out. Katlin finally released Brenna, but only to keep Amy from collapsing. Brenna was immediately at Libby's side.
"Perhaps we should take this someplace a little more private." Nicole suggested. The other's nodded. She turned to Trowa and Chichiri, and their betrothed. "And it might be best if you four stayed out here? Don't let anyone know what's going on. Not even you siblings, or Liam, Duo, and Damien. We'll call them when we need them." Trowa nodded. Nicole gave a single nod and began to follow Katlin who was already leading the group towards her private offices.
"Aunt Nira?" Nicole turned around.
"Please tell mom I'm sorry?" Amy asked. Nicole smiled. "I will, but put it this way. If you hadn't tried to blow her up, I would have." She caused an amber colored ball of magic to appear in her hand. Amy smiled. "We're all upset that they died, but the Queen and I have to figure this one out before any revenge can be extracted." She winked at the girls, and they laughed. "Remember, don't tell anyone."
"We won't Aunt Nira." Libby told her.
"Thanks. If Duo or Liam ask where we are, tell them we're busy in the Queen's chambers and that only bother us if it's really important." Trowa and Chichiri nodded and lead their lovers off, while Nicole raced to catch up with her friends. This was really confusing, although in her opinion, the best thing that could ever happen.
A/N: Well, that's the first chapter. Don't expect them all to be this long. Hope you enjoyed, and please please review. I would really like it. Chapter 2 will be up soon, I promise!