Calai'di– Okay, the beginning of this is going to be a little confusing, but I try to explain what happened as best as possible. It's confusing because this starts after whatever happened in the seventh book, even though it's not out yet, nor will be for a while. I just felt it wouldn't be fair to start right after the sixth, since Bobby was on Quillan and I'd like to stay as far away from that place as is physically and mentally possible. A lot is referenced to the end of books six and five, so I suggest that if you haven't read both of them yet (especially Zadaa) that you go do that and come back to my fic later.
Warnings: There are definite spoilers to the whole series but so many are to book six in particular that if you haven't read it, you'll be confused. Pretty much all of the surprises in the book are mentioned at some point, especially the ones involving Saint Dane's time on Second Earth. Again, if you haven't read The Rivers of Zadaa I encourage you to do so before you read this. Or, just don't yell at me for spoiling the ending. I'll tell you, I shrieked three or four times while I read it because of how and when he showed up, and I would have hurt someone if the ending had been spoiled for me.
Also, this is totally Saint Dane-centric. Seriously, he's probably in almost every scene. So if you just can't stand our darling demon Traveler, you don't want to read this. And you're certainly no friend of mine. I have a crush on the dude. Oh yeah, if Saint Dane or his acolyte is reading this, I give you my regards. Just don't destroy Halla.
Rating: The book covers say it's for ages 10 and up. Yes, I looked this up. I think I'm going to rate it a bit higher and make it PG-13, simply because I don't know if I'll be able to stick to the 10+ rating.
Disclaimer: Funny how this is last…sort of. Anyway, I don't own Pendragon or any of the characters so don't sue me if they end up totally OOC. However, there are characters I do own, specifically Princes Aubrey and Bran, the little blue-haired girl, and a few others that don't yet have a purpose, but will eventually. Some are charies in a manga I'm thinking of writing, so don't steal them until I publish it. Thank you.
Right, I think that's enough of an introduction. I mean, it's almost a full page. Just remember that it's totally Saint Dane-centric. And it'll be like in the books where there's Bobby's perspective and then there's what's happening here on Second Earth.
Hobey-ho, and so we go.
I'm scared. Truly and utterly scared.
This isn't the same as other times in my history, like when I was close to drowning in the underground tunnels of Zadaa, or the innumerable times I've had to face quigs, Saint Dane, or the near-death of a territory. No, this is more petrifying and confusing than any other time that I can remember. Maybe it's just the way I'm looking at the situation, or maybe I should be so worried, but either way, I do know one thing. My thoughts about who the Travelers are and where we came from will never be the same.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start where I left you guys on Second Earth, headed for Zadaa to get Loor's help. The whole time I was visiting, I couldn't help but be reminded of the total beating Saint Dane had given me back on Zadaa. No offence, but I probably looked a lot like you did, Courtney, except I didn't have any broken bones. Okay, well, not as many at least. I was shocked, and with good reason, when you told be that Saint Dane had been the one driving the car. I guess that's how he knew about you and what had happened, but it really didn't seem like his style at all.
When I walked out of the hospital room that day, I vowed that I would personally get revenge on him for what he did. This was the last straw. Killing a Traveler had been bad, but we now knew that being who we are, we could miraculously heal from even the most severe injuries. Courtney doesn't have that luxury. She can't heal from something like that in a matter of days or weeks. And she definitely could have died.
More confusing, though, was what you told me about her speedy recovery. It seemed way too fast for a normal person, though not as much as a Traveler. My only theory was that acolytes are more like Travelers than we thought, and that maybe they were chosen for a reason as well. It seemed to be the only explanation for what was happening. After all, acolytes could use the flumes too, even though they're really not supposed to and it makes the flumes unstable. Who knows, maybe acolytes are even second choices for being Travelers, just in case the real one dies. That's kind of a creepy thought though.
Actually, I was so into my thoughts I barely paid attention to the world around me until someone ran into my shoulder. I whipped around, planning to apologize, but nothing came out. I was stunned at who I was seeing. You guys told he'd started acting nice, but I hadn't really believed it until now.
"Andy Mitchell?" I exclaimed. I was pretty shocked, as you can guess. But then, he looked almost as shocked to see me.
"P-Pendragon?" He stared at me as if I was a ghost. To him, I might as well have been. In seconds, he got a tough look on his face and glared at me. "What happened to you? Where'd you disappear to? Why are here anyway?"
Uh oh. I wasn't sure if I could answer most of those questions without him getting suspicious. He'd seen too much of me already.
"Hey, Mitchell, long time, no see," I answered casually, as if this were an everyday occurrence. He wasn't fooled.
"Quit with the games, Pendragon. I want to know what happened to you, what you've been doing. If you're here, you must not have just disappeared off the face of the planet."
Oh, if only he knew. "Look, I was just here visiting my friend. If you didn't know, she's been in an accident. I won't be here for much longer, so I thought it was a nice thing to do."
"Oh yeah? And where are you going?" he asked, trying to look tough again. I could tell that was a little hard for him; he must have still been afraid I was a ghost.
"Look, Mitchell," I said, crossing my arms, "not that it's any of your business, but the reason I've 'disappeared' is that my family moved to another country. We didn't want anyone to know because it was such a sudden decision. I'll be leaving tomorrow to go back home, and I don't really want to spend any more of those precious moments talking to you."
He looked at me critically for a moment, but seemed to believe my on-the-spot excuse. At least, that's what I thought until his face broke out with a very familiar smile. The hair on the back of my neck prickled slightly as he nodded in understanding.
"I see," he said calmly, still with that knowing smile on his face. "Are you sure that's where you're off to? Perhaps you're wrong, and you're really headed back to Zadaa to check on your Traveler friend, Loor. It's a pity she survived the last time we met, but then we're all full of surprises, aren't we Pendragon?"
Before I could register what was going on, he swiftly punched me in the gut and walked off in the direction I'd been going. I was totally confused as I watched him go and the truth sank in. That had been Saint Dane. I'd know him anywhere, though he usually likes for me to know who he is. I couldn't see why he would take on Andy Mitchell's form (well, who would?), and it raised a few questions, like why he wanted to be so close to you guys. The only thing I could think of was that he wanted to get to me somehow, but I don't know how he would do that by using you. One thing is for sure, though. You need to both be careful from now on. I don't know if he's going to come back to Second Earth like that again, but be alert. I can't bare the thought of either of you being hurt again.
I was frozen for a few moments after he hit me before I realized that he was getting away. I dashed after him, trying not to let my anger take control, and had to dodge a few nurses and doctors on the way to the lobby, though I apologized to them of course. When I got within sight distance of the front doors, I saw that he was waiting for me just outside the glass. He smiled at me, waved once, and then his whole body melted into a liquid shadow. I heard a few people scream as the shadow turned into a giant black bird and fly away in the direction of Stony Brook.
I wasn't shocked. He was trying to bait me into following him, but he needn't have bothered. I knew there was a flume back home and if he was headed there, I had to follow anyway. That was my job now. And besides, I was going back to the flume anyway for my visit with Loor. It would just be coincidence that I was following him as well.
Unfortunately, I'd taken the bus to get to the hospital, so I had to wait for it to come back before I could follow Saint Dane. Meanwhile, I had to get out of the lobby. People were panicking, so it wasn't a good idea for me to be here. I might end up being connected to whatever caused the problem. I walked out of the hospital casually, as if I knew exactly what I was doing, and headed for the bus station, ready to get a small nap in while I waited.
I didn't sleep much at the station, but I slept even less on the bus. Every so often, I would see a huge bird outside the window, though whenever I looked again it was gone. For a while, I thought I was just paranoid and my eyes were playing tricks on me, but then it flew right next to my window for a minute or so. In an instant, I recognized it as Saint Dane. In fact, he winked at me before flying away again. I couldn't believe it. It was as if he was escorting me back home to Stony Brook and the flume. I thought he was nuts, but I guess he didn't want to get there before me so I'd miss his next targeted territory.
However, that's one thing I'm not sure I understand. If he doesn't want me to thwart his plans on each territory and fix everything that goes wrong, why does he make such a show of where he's going so I can follow him? If it were me, though I would never think of it, I would move around in secret and mess with each territory without letting my opponent know where I was. Isn't that the smart thing to do? Maybe he just likes losing all the time. Or teaching me "lessons" like he says he's been doing.
Needless to say, when I got to the flume in the abandoned subway, he was already waiting for me. In fact, when I walked into the cavern, he looked down at his wrist as though he was wearing a watch, which he wasn't, and smirked at me.
"You're a bit late, Pendragon," he said arrogantly. This guy really pissed me off. "I've been waiting for you for a while. Don't you know it's rude to keep someone waiting?"
"Well, excuse me if I haven't learned to drive yet because I've been busy defeating you all over the territories," I answered, rolling my eyes. His expression fell somewhat and he shook his head, sneering at me.
"Not this time, Pendragon. You may have been lucky before, but now I'll have the advantage of being on familiar soil."
Now what did he mean by that? I thought he knew the ins and outs of every territory. That's how he could find the turning point of each one and fit in so well with the locals.
"What do you mean by that?" I asked.
He smiled at me and turned away slightly toward the flume. "You'll just have to see when you get there, won't you? I'm sure I'll tell you. In fact, I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time to get in this next game."
I stepped back somewhat, thoroughly repulsed. I didn't want to spend more time around him than I had to. But he never said anything that didn't mean something. He had to be giving me clue. I just wasn't picking up on it.
He shrugged as he watched me struggle to understand. "Well, perhaps I'll have to tell you straight out after all. However, we'll see." Then he faced the flume and called out, "Dark Earth!"
Things just got more confusing than ever. There was another Earth territory? I found that hard to believe but just like always, the flume came to life. As the music became louder and the light brighter and closer, he turned to look back at me.
"Give my regards to your little Traveler friend, Pendragon," he said sardonically, trying to get me ticked. It worked. "Tell her I meant for the sword to be a bit higher so as to cut off her head." He began laughing as the light enveloped him and I could hear it fade as he was swept away.
"Saint Dane!" I shouted, probably just out of anger then for him to actually hear me. But I didn't have time to seethe over something that didn't matter anyway. I had to get to Zadaa so I could ask Loor for help. I know it didn't seem fair to keep calling on her for help, but she didn't seem to mind and besides, if Saint Dane sounded that confident that he was going to win this time, I was probably going to need her help.
I walked into the flume and took a deep breath before shouting, "Zadaa!" I thought Loor would be surprised to see me when I got there, but I couldn't imagine the surprise waiting for me on the other side. Not yet anyway.
The flume ride wasn't anything unusual, if you were thinking in post-Veelox terms. There were still the images of the various territories flying past the crystal walls of the flume, and though I certainly recognized more this time around, I didn't really feel like watching them. For now, I just wanted to relax. I had a bad feeling that this and my nice rides would be the only chances to kick back for a while. It didn't last long, though, as I soon heard the music that signaled I was almost at my destination.
Once I landed on Zadaa, I looked around the familiar room for either the Rokador clothes I usually wore or the Ghee armor Loor had given me. But once I looked around the room twice, I came to the conclusion that there were no clothes for me. That was pretty strange. Even if the Traveler from a Territory doesn't know another is coming, somehow there are always native clothes there anyway. It also made me nervous. I was trying not to think that it might mean Loor was in trouble, or that she'd ended up dying from what Saint Dane did anyway.
However, it didn't take long for me to find out why nothing had been left out. I was just looking around a third time, simply in case I'd missed some crevice, when someone from the wall with the handholds shouted, "Pendragon!"
I whipped around, confused. That had not been Loor's voice; in fact, it had sounded male, and I couldn't think of who could be down here that sounded like that. The Travelers weren't needed here anymore. Zadaa was past its turning point and was no longer in trouble. The vice had almost sounded like…but that was impossible. I'd probably never see him again.
The person that had called to me was about halfway down the built in ladder and was descending quickly. He was wearing Rokador clothes but was looking toward the wall so I couldn't see his face. What was weird was that he had black hair, not the pure blonde of the native Rokador, which in itself was strange. The fact that he knew who I was and that there was a cavern here just aroused my suspicions even more.
His feet touched the floor but before I could get a good look at his face, he darted forward and practically tackled me with a hug. Now that was odd. I was about to push him off and ask who the heck he was, but his next words stopped me in my tracks.
"Hobey, Pendragon, I thought I never see you again!"
Whoa, okay, there was only one person I knew who used words like that, besides you, Mark. I gently pushed him off so I could make sure it wasn't a joke. It wasn't.