Diligo Est Amicitia

Chapter 27: One By One

A/N: Honey, I'm BAAACK… lols. Here, I'd just like to say a big thank you to all my reviewers (who I never got around to hitting back but I'm working on ploughing my way through to catch up with their fics). A profuse thanks to my faithful reviewers RedRogue Draco's Secret LoverBigamericanflirtPurple Raveness, bajan-martini gothicluver13likeadollgordongirl18, Hollywood-VioletvalaarienHecate's Diamonbabyxbxgurl and the whole lot of you!

-

"How's the search for Fin been going, Dad?"

"No luck yet." William told his son, a strange look flashing noticeably across his face.

"What?" Peter demanded.

"I was just wondering… what you younglings were thinking about our moving here for the Ascension."

"I think… that Ipswich is a nice place. Perfect for the girls. Except for the witches of course. But Dad, didn't you say the magic surrounding this place was what attracted you to come here in the first place?"

"If I knew of the complications that would arise here, Ipswich would have been the last place I would consider coming to."

Peter chuckled. "I know what you mean." Deep inside, a felt a slight twinge of guilt. He had been a part of the 'complications' that his father was talking about.

"I never told you… why I forbade the girls to get so attached to the Sons of Ipswich. Or for that matter, to fall in love altogether."

Peter kept his silence… his father was mumbling; he had half-forgotten that Peter was still there.

"Peter, do you remember the Book? The special one I showed you when you were eight years old? The one I forbade you to ever go near it?"

Peter searched his memories. It had happened more than fifty years ago but he still remembered it… vaguely. "A little."

"It was a book which held prophecies… a book which an ancestor of ours found during his travels. For thousands of years, the Archos have tried to decipher what the prophecies were trying to tell us; new ones would appear in the Book every few years but nothing seemed to pass and they faded away. We almost lost interest in the Book and its contents. But something's happened; the book has written another prophecy."

"And?" Peter couldn't help but blurt out.

"It concerns three Ascending Chosen Ones from the Order of the Archos."

"No guesses as to whom." Peter muttered. "Why're you so uptight about it?"

"No, Peter you do not understand! The Book has never written a prophecy about us; not once that it has been in our possession and you must comprehend the slight alarm that we – the Council - are feeling."

"Dad, what'd did the prophecy say?"

"Children…"

"Children?"

"The offspring of the three Ascending ones…"

"They're having kids in the near future? Jamie, Fin and Lils?" Peter asked, slightly taken aback.

"Yes, I expect so."

"And you're worried because…" Peter trailed off, still not understanding.

William turned towards his son. "No other Archos has ever given birth before."

Peter smirked. "No other Archos was a female either."

"Which is why I am twice as anxious. And you are no help either; gallivanting off with that human… oh yes, do not think I am ignorant to your doings." Peter's smirk quickly slid off and he flushed.

"You know Dad, Delancey's not a bad human; she's really sweet…" Peter started.

William stopped his son. "I'm sure." Were his crisp words. "Nevertheless, I do not appreciate the distraction."

His son's spirit fell even lower. "I'd hope to take her to the skies someday."

"Absolutely not! Don't you DARE, boy to expose us to another mortal! Now get out!"

Peter stepped away from the irate man, towards the door, stunned by his father's immediate rejection of Delancey. He didn't even know her… "She's not a bad human." He whispered as he slipped out of the room.

-

"No! You're lying! It's against the rul--"

"Rules!" Gryphos hissed. "What do you think they care about rules now? It was because of rules that this generation was so defiant. If it wasn't for rules, the Rebellion wouldn't have existed."

"It was because of the Rebellion that the Archos were created." Phoenix defended.

"Your side of the story." Gryphos snapped.

"At least it's true."

"The Archos are corrupt." Gryphos gritted his teeth.

"Says you."

"Phoenix, you have to believe me." Gryphos pleaded urgently. "You have to listen and help me."

Phoenix considered. There was no harm in listening to what he had to say but she wouldn't believe him. She wouldn't put her guard down around him. She nodded.

He seemed relieved.

"We'll start from the beginning. Four thousand, three hundred and forty-four years ago when the Rebellion was formed, I agree that it was our initial plan to eliminate mankind altogether. They were a danger to our species, to our planet; something both sides agreed on. However, we felt that they had no right here." He paused, looking at Phoenix for some sort of recognition.

She only shrugged. "Nothing I haven't heard before."

"Phoenix, you have to believe me when I say this; we do not mean any harm at all to our kind. It is the humans who should go. They were our only target and I do mean only. For 4331 years, we did our best but somehow, there'd always be someone from your side to stop us." He smiled wistfully. "Success was so hard to come by."

"4331 years…" Phoenix muttered, her mind racing. "13 years." Her head shot up. "Jamie was taken when she was thirteen."

Gryphos nodded. "By William. My own spies told me he had once paid a visit to the Chapmans, tried to persuade them to let go of Jamie. They threw him out of the house, calling him a lunatic. Of course, dear little Jamie wasn't there at the time; she was at school. Mind you, after what he did to her parents, it became very easy to get the other two."

No, no… Phoenix shook her head. William wouldn't… couldn't. Killing humans among the Pack and the Archos were banned, unless it was absolutely, undeniably necessary. In this case, Jamie's parents had merely been unable to face up to the reality that their daughter had been born for a purpose so large neither one of them could comprehend it She could sense the human Fin in her, trapped and so very confused. "You're lying." She said finally, her teeth clashing against one another. "William wouldn't have been that desperate."

"And then there was a book… the Book of Damnation they call it." Gryphos continued. "Prophecies write themselves and when they come to pass, they fade off."

"Useless, redundant words." Phoenix muttered.

"Not to the Sons of Ipswich." Gryphos returned slyly.

Phoenix seemed to blanch for a split second before she shook her head as if shaking off everything that Gryphos had been telling her.

Phoenix seemed to blanch for a split second before she shook her head as if shaking off everything that Gryphos had been telling her.

"If you want to keep this world alive, you will listen to me. William is insanely greedy and selfish and his court is corrupt! He killed Jamie's parents, he banished Lilith's and he altered the minds of Fin's. The only people still standing to the purpose the Archos were created are you, Extraxi, Lamia and Peter."

"Peter… has fallen in love with a human."

"And therefore his opinion in the matter is prejudiced. The boy will be in a tight spot once he learns what his father is up to."

"And what is his father up to?" Phoenix challenged.

"No doubt he knows that the Council of Elders will be arriving in a week or so. They expect the Ascension to happen then. Are they ready for it? The three of them? To truly be one with their respective Phasma?"

"Lamia and Extraxi are starting to awake; I can sense it." Then she smiled slyly at Gryphos, sure that she had the upper hand now. "I guess we have you to thank. If you hadn't sent those wolf lycans, Jamie would never have known that she was ready."

Gryphos scowled. "What lycans? I didn't send any ly--"

Clank. Something knocked against the stonewall outside and Gryphos tensed slightly and he spoke quickly. "Look, Phoenix… I don't know what's going to happen but if everything doesn't stop and get sorted out, this Ascension will be the death of us all. All the magical creatures of this universe. Maybe even the humans."

"What am I supposed to do, Gryphos? Confront William?" Phoenix cursed herself for actually partly believing the vermin but she had no choice; everything he said had rung a bell… had fitted in missing pieces of the puzzle.

"No. Not you. Let the three girls do it."

"What's the difference? We'll be one anyway."

"You don't understand! What William did was personal and the three of them will have to deal with it on their own with what is being given to them now, before the Ascension. Once Extraxi, Lamia and you are bound to them, they will have no choice but to stand beside him. The balance will be vastly overthrown if they try to go against him then. Too vastly. Enough to send the world into oblivion. Do not underestimate the ancient powers, Phoenix. And now you have to go. What I have told you would have my army against me and I won't have that."

It was then that Phoenix understood what position Gryphos was now holding. He was no longer in control. He acted on what his army and advisors wanted and if he didn't, he would be killed. Find a new leader - that was the philosophy now. The most powerful one amongst them. Why should they care if Gryphos was slaughtered? Victory would still belong to them.

"Go!"

Phoenix's eyes darkened and she morphed back into a handsome bird with beautiful red and gold plumage. She quickly soared away, her wings beating against the evening sky, her mind troubled beyond repair. She felt so very betrayed. Her black eyes flashed once, turning to a light green shade. Fin's eyes.

-

"Peter, where are we?" Delancey asked, careful not to light the slight fear she felt creep into her voice. She immediately chided herself for doing so; she trusted Peter and she trusted that wherever he brought her, it was safe. Almost.

"Aaaahh… somewhere." Peter stalled. They were nearly there.

"Oh, very helpful Pete." Delancey retorted. She looked around. They were by a lake in a forest clearing; one she had never known existed.

"Where are we?" She asked, awed by the scenery. The waters were a clear blue, bluer than lapis lazuli, and the trees around them were green and healthy.

"Deadwood." Came Peter's reply.

She whirled around and stared at him.

"The place where men are said to disappear, day or night? Aren't you afraid?"

"I was." Peter admitted. Then he grinned at her. "Until I realized I'd brought you with me."

"Haha. Your humor is unchallenged tonight, Mr. Lycan."

Peter patted on the stone he was sitting on. "Come sit; I wanna show you something."

Delancey complied. "See that up there?" He pointed up at the night sky.

"Wow!" Now this was something she had never seen before; it was as if someone had poured a bottle of glitter all over the sky, spreading them generously over the dark blue canvas.

"Look over there… that little clump of stars."

Delancey looked. Although the heavens seemed to be holding at least a hundred stars from where she was sitting, her gray eyes found the particular group Peter was talking about.

"They're special." He continued.

"How come?" She asked, still staring at the sky.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Do you believe in fairytales?"

Delancey spared Peter a strange look. "Sure. When I was a kid. But when I caught my mum exchanging the little teeth under my pillow for money instead of the tooth fairy, I was inclined to forget about them."

Peter smiled slowly. "Well, I have a theory on those stars and why they're special."

"I'd like to hear it."

"Well, imagine that creatures – like fairies or dragons – really existed. And they were unique, you know… like different from all the rest. And when they died, they'd go up there and join the stars. They wouldn't be able to go Heaven and they didn't deserve Hell so they'd just become a star."

As he finished, he caught sight of Delancey's face. She seemed… indifferent. "Well? What'd you think about that?"

"I'd say you had one hell of an imagination to come up with a theory like that, Lycan. But I like it; it seems to drift away from reality. Please tell me more?"

"About what?"

"About fairies… or dragons. What are they like? Are they the only ones?"

Peter shook his head. "Nope. There's others too… werewolves, vampires, centaurs and sirens… a Phoenix, maybe."

Delancey didn't reply but he knew she had heard him. "What're you thinking about?" He asked quietly.

She turned towards him and he could see that her eyes were slightly teary. "I'm thinking I was lucky that you found me Pete… I don't know how to explain but sometimes I feel that there's someone out there, just for me, who'd be able to understand me. Only he'd be the one to come as close as you have, y'know. But now that I've found you, it seems there's slightly more to you than has met my eye and I don't know what it is."

Peter swallowed hard on the grapefruit stuck in his throat. He knew what it was she was feeling; he loved her, that was simple and since she had bared her soul to him, his conscience forced him to do the same… only, his secrets were so much harder to comprehend than hers had been. His soul sent out signals that she had been able to receive but not interpret. "I'm sorry." He finally said.

"For what?"

"For not being able to let you understand. And I want to but I can't promise to be here with you forever, Dee… I'm sorry for that too."

"Don't apologize to me now… I still need you by my side. Promise you won't leave me until I say so?" Her eyes begged him and he could not refuse.

"I promise."

-

Gryphos paced in his throne room, nerves buzzing. He wondered if Phoenix had gotten back to the others yet. He stared at his throne; a huge chair made out of metal with intricate carvings, none of which he had been interested to study before. But tonight he studied them. His mind skipped back more than four thousand years ago and he remembered when he had truly ruled the Rebellion, carried out operations designed to wipe out mortals. Now, he was nothing more than an icon; a prisoner on his own turf. He was there because Maudin wanted him there; to attract more otherworldly creatures, to show them that they would be led by a powerful leader and true ambassador of all that was considered fairytale to Man. Once Maudin decided he was useless, he would be thrown into the fire.

Footsteps, heavy footsteps rang outside the door and Gryphos looked up in alarm. The doors burst open and in strode a proud young man, his dark hair combed back. "Adrien!" Gryphos spread his arms slightly, a smile curling at his lips; a smile which never touched his eyes. "Good to see you, ignoring the fact that you just barged in on me without permission. What are you doing here; I thought William sent you on some miserable errand in South America?"

"Well, let's just say I returned early." Adrien replied, smiling back. Six guards trooped into the throne room, all dressed in dark clothes.

"What do you think you're doing?" Gryphos hissed at the half-dozen of them. "I didn't order you here. Get back to your posts!"

"You didn't." Adrien cut in. "But I did."

"Adrien?"

"Gryphos von Trier, you shall now be arrested on the charge of treachery under the order of Maudin, First General of the Rebellion."

Two guards stepped forward and Gryphos' eyes scanned the surroundings, looking desperately for a last minute getaway plan. Adrien seemed to know what was running through his mind. "Don't even think about it." He warned.

Gryphos succumbed; he knew a dead end when he saw it. He would have to try to escape another way.


A/N: Aah… long, exhausting chapter, which I have taken almost two months to complete. All right, I can just hear you people: Crickes, for God's sakes girl, you ain't writin' a Harry Potter book, just get on with it! Oh well… there's your update. For those who didn't understand the talk between Phoenix and Gryphos, no problem because what I was doing was merely (trying) to create a conversation between people who have been existing for four thousand years and beyond. Fin will explain it in better, modern terms later on so I expect you'll still get it. And a hint of the P/D love… they might not be together til the end after all. Review!

3 Crickes 3