At Cain's translation both of them had set out on a frantic mission, racing through the library, scouring the shelves for the oldest volumes in search of those pertaining to beings of magic. They'd each returned with armfuls of books, falling to silence as they hurriedly scanned the pages.
Cain was just starting to grow frustrated when the whispers came.
The sudden rigidity in the man beside him caused Glitch to turn, finding that Wyatt was still standing at the table, but his hand was hovering motionlessly above the stacks of books. Glitch's eyes widened in surprise finding that Wyatt had closed his own, his face tensed in concentration as his hand passed just above the leather bindings.
Softly at first the whispers spoke the name of the creatures he was looking for, then louder…louder still as he sought them out. His hand brushed over the third one in a stack, the whispers reaching a deafening volume and causing him to have to lean on the table for support.
"Cain!" Glitch said in a horrified tone, moving forward and gripping his arm. "Are you alright?"
Wyatt could only nod, his eyes opening slowly once the whispers grew less frantic. He pulled the book from the stack and both of them stared down at in shock. It hadn't caught Glitch's attention when he'd pulled the volume from the shelf, the gold accents of the red leather binding looking like random swirls given how quickly he was working….but there, amid the precious metal vines that adorned its cover, was the solitary figure of a winged woman.
With trembling hands Cain popped open the clasps that sealed the text, a giggle passing through the whispers only he could hear and causing his brow to arch. The pages were remarkably well preserved; time seemingly having no effect within the leather that encased them.
He flipped through several sheets of ancient symbols, somehow finding them unimportant…and nearly collapsing the instant his eyes fell on the sketched face from thousands of annuals past.
"Holy shit…" Glitch breathed, his eyes staring down at the page in astonishment.
The sound of those heavy boots marching down the hall could only mean one thing. DG rolled her eyes as the usual 30 guards that made up her security detail in the absence of Cain and Jeb entered the room with Wyatt at the lead.
"Jeb, I need you to come with me for a minute." Wyatt said the instant he entered the room, the slightest hint of concern in his voice and DG's eyes narrowed in on him suspiciously. What the hell was going on around here today?
But lest we forget, Jeb was currently less than pleased with his father. He crossed the room quickly, lowering his tone so that his words wouldn't reach DG; he knew they weren't going to be pleasant.
"Yeah? Well I need you to refrain from being such a royal dick to Alisha. What the fuck was that about? Now she's pissed off and not even talking to me!" Jeb snapped at his father, his features tensed in anger.
"I…well…there is…" Wyatt swallowed hard. He really didn't want to do this with so many guards at his back. With a motion of his hand they spread out around the perimeter of the room and took up positions outside the doorway, giving more privacy to the father and son. "There's a lot going on, Jeb…and I will explain, but you have to trust me on this and wait until we get back to the library."
Jeb glared up at his father in disgust. It was always, 'trust me' and 'be patient' and 'I have my reasons' and 'someday you'll understand'. Why couldn't his father ever just say what needed to be said when it needed to be heard. "Not until you say you're sorry." He said, crossing his arms over his chest defiantly.
Wyatt's brows drew together. "I'm sorry if she's mad at you, Jeb…it wasn't my intention to…"
"To HER." Jeb growled but watched the 'that's not gonna happen' expression instantly come to his father's face.
"Come with me…" Wyatt said, dropping his tone to barely a whisper as he leaned closer. "She'll be there shortly." It hurt him deeply seeing his son's features contort in confusion and worry.
"What? Why? What are you doing?" Jeb almost pleaded, staring up at his father as his arms fell to his sides.
"Jeb…" Wyatt said, closing his eyes for a second and begging for patience.
Thankfully his son was too fed up to try dragging the information out of him; he cut around him and stalked out into the hallway in frustration, leaving Wyatt to look around the room and find DG staring back at him with pained eyes. He took a deep breath to steady himself and turned on his heel, leaving the room quickly enough to send that duster whipping out behind him.
DG watched them go, looking over at Jessie worriedly. "He didn't even say good morning to me today." She whispered with her eyes tearing up.
"Shh…it's okay darling, you want to change from friend to more there's going to be a shift at some point. This is a good thing." Jessie soothed, giving DG's hand a squeeze of reassurance as the girls returned to their normal game.
"Ben and Jerry's ice cream." Jen moaned.
"My iPod…." Chelsea whined.
"My Blackberry." Sanela said with a sigh.
"The internet." Flo cried in anguish and immediately everyone was murmuring their agreement.
"Sweet fluffy lord, fan fiction!" Rhonda sobbed and the other girls nodded.
"McDonald's french-fries." Lisa said, leaning back on the chair as the girls all sighed at the memory.
"Cable television…" Sarah added.
"The mall." Rose whimpered.
"Video games…" Nita said, curling up on the other side of Jessie on the couch.
Jeb pushed the doors to the library, spinning back to face his father the instant he heard them close behind him.
"What is it this time, Dad? What could possibly be going on in that suspicious mind of yours now?" Jeb demanded and Wyatt shook his head, walking past his son and starting up the stairs. Jeb instantly fell in behind him. "Still nothing? Still gonna make me wait? Once a Tin Man, always a Tin Man."
Wyatt ignored his son's goading, dragging a chair over beside the table and motioning for him to take a seat. Jeb rolled his eyes and gave in, glaring up at his father and crossing his arms over his chest again. It was his defensive posture; he always fell back on it, even as a boy.
"Jeb, I wanted to ask you a few questions about Alisha." Wyatt began; running a hand over his face and wondering what he could possibly ask that would result in the answers he was seeking. "Is there anything…do you notice anything…different about her, I mean as opposed to other women?"
His son's face contorted in a mixture of confusion and outrage. "What the fuck? Is this some kind of intervention? Are you asking me why I'm with her since she and you don't get along or something? Dad, I swear to God if that's what this is…."
But Glitch stepped out from behind a book case at this point, bringing a few volumes over to the table and cutting in. "Any strange markings or…" Glitch gave Wyatt a look that clearly said, 'additional appendages?'
Jeb groaned impatiently, running both hands over his face and pleading for these two to just spit it out already. "No, no strange markings, she's got body art but that's about it; calls them 'tattoos'. You guys do know she's not even from the OZ, right?"
Glitch and Wyatt exchanged a look at that, but said nothing.
"Just try and think for a minute. Any strange behavior or words she might use…things she says in her sleep…anything out of the ordinary?" Wyatt asked with his face tensed thoughtfully.
Jeb decided to amuse himself at this point, why not? They were getting on his last nerve.
"Well, there is one thing…no other girl I've been with has done it…." He said, acting as if something had just occurred to him. The other two were leaning forward expectantly in a fraction of a second. "See she can do this thing with her tongue that has me screaming like a little girl – we're talking loud enough to wake half the palace. It has to be dark magic; I mean it feels like she's…"
Wyatt's hand swatted him in the back of the head before he could continue, his eyes rolling in disgust as Jeb snickered.
"What? What do you want to know?" Jeb asked through his laughter, it was too priceless to see his father's face change to red that fast.
Glitch was looking around them distractedly, he and Ambrose likely having a battle for control of the situation. "Tell us about the 'tattoos'." He finally said, taking a seat across from Jeb and clasping his hands in front of himself patiently.
"Do I need to tell you that it's more than a little creepy how interested you guys suddenly are in my girlfriend's body?" Jeb asked with a smirk, looking back and forth between the two.
"Girlfr—" Wyatt began with a shocked expression, when had it moved past fun? Where the hell had he been for that? He shook his head to get a grip on it and managed. "Just answer the damned question."
"Well she's not shy, I'm sure if you bring her in here she'll show you." Jeb grinned at the redness in his father's cheeks again. "Alright, fine. She's into fairies and stuff. Has a little one on her stomach…" He didn't note the confusion on Glitch and his father's faces at the unfamiliar word. "And has fairy wings on her back."
He could have sworn Wyatt's jaw dislocated at that statement.
"What?" He asked after several moments of them sitting in stunned silence. "What's the big deal?"
"Jeb, what is a 'fairy'?" Glitch asked in a completely serious tone, somehow managing to speak with his mouth still trying to hang open.
"It's what they call this creature from storybooks on the other side. They're supposed to be these magical little women with wings." Jeb said, now totally perplexed as to why this was so interesting for them. "That's it – no more questions until one of you tell me what this is all about." He said, and watched his flabbergasted father approach and reach out for the book sitting beside him on the table.
He flipped to the fifth page and sighed, spinning the book and pushing it close enough for Jeb to focus on it.
"Holy shit…" Jeb breathed and Glitch nodded that that's exactly what he'd said. He sat in shock, looking at the obvious age of the text and floored to find Alisha's face staring back at him, wings outstretched behind her with that same mischievous smile set on her lips. He finally managed with a smirk, "They got the ass all wrong."
The doors being nearly knocked off their hinges drew all of their attention to the library below.
"You put one more finger on me and I swear to Christ I'm gonna cut it off, fuck-mook!"
Jeb grinned. "Oh look, Alisha's here." He said in a chipper tone, laughing at his father's grimace.
Alisha was glaring up at several of the guards as she yanked herself from their grasp, smoothing her hair and dress, turning and casting a look up at Wyatt that could have reduced the palace to rubble.
"YOU." She growled, pointing up at the Tin Man before grabbing handfuls of the front of her dress and stalking up the stairs toward him.
Wyatt could only grit his teeth in regret as he watched her hurriedly approach. He'd been so flustered when he gave the order for her to be brought to the library he hadn't taken the time to explain that it was only for a conversation – the guards had brought her in like a suspect for interrogation and he could feel the guilt coiling up in his stomach for it.
"If she decks you I'm just gonna laugh my ass off." Jeb said, staying in his seat and leaving his father to deal with the outraged blonde that was charging his way.
"I don't know what crawled up your ass about me today Tin Man but whatever it is you better speak your piece in a serious freaking hurry!" She screamed, stopping mere inches from the man despite his extreme size advantage.
So what if she was short enough for him to rest his arm on her head comfortably? She was angry now – that evened the score in her eyes.
Wyatt just stared down at her, a million thoughts passing through him in that moment. She had absolutely no fear of him, was ready to charge right in to face him no matter who he was…her scowling red face stared back up at him as he tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, his crystal eyes passing over her enraged features as he studied her. She was something far beyond strong willed, this one. As much as he didn't want to admit it, in that second he came to terms with his honest initial reasoning behind cringing at her interest in his son. She was everything he could have hoped for in a wife for Jeb…a mother to his future grandchildren…and that meant Jeb's childhood really was over. The truth of the matter was he could think of no better qualities in a woman for his son, she possessed all of them. He'd never say it, of course, but despite the fact that she was currently ready to belt him in the face (or because of it) she had just earned his respect and approval.
"Take a seat, Alisha." He said in a softened tone, motioning to the chair beside him and watching as her features flinched slightly in response. She'd been expecting a fight; the borderline apologetic quality of his voice caught her completely off guard. Whilst still staring up at him in confusion she sat down. "Your 'tattoos', did they have any particular significance to you when you got them? I mean your choices in what to get, what swayed those decisions?"
Alisha's brow arched extremely slowly, her head turning toward Jeb with a look of complete puzzlement. Firstly, why the hell was his father grilling her about her tattoos? Secondly, why the hell had he been discussing her tattoos with his father? She watched him shrug and shake his head, motioning for her to just go ahead and answer.
Looking back up into the face of Wyatt she sighed and leaned back in the chair, rubbing her chin as she eyed him appraisingly. "You're a strange bird, you know that? Alright…I can't understand why you could possibly want to know this…and you still owe me an apology…" she said, pointing up at him sternly. "But I can only assume you think your reasoning is valid, so I'll take mercy on you. To answer your questions: I just have an affinity for fairies, that's all. Ever since I was little I've always loved them. There are some really talented artists on the other side who paint and sketch amazing renditions that just captivate me. I've always loved the image, the thought of that absolute freedom, the ability to fly away at any given moment. My dreams have been like that all of my life so I figured these were appropriate." She watched Wyatt chewing the inside of his cheek, his fingers brushing over something hidden from her view at the neckline of his shirt distractedly. "So…next question is? I'm ready whenever you are." She said, waiting for him to continue.
Wyatt pulled a chair over and sat down, scratching his chin thoughtfully as Glitch and Jeb continued to stare at her.
"Your dreams…tell me about them." Wyatt said, and she shook her head and laughed at how strange this line of questioning was becoming, as well as how genuine his tone sounded in that moment. The guy was a piece of work, she'd give him that; one minute he was all angry, the next he was treating her like a daughter.
"Okay…they're just flying dreams, you know? Everyone has them." Those blue eyes just gazed back at her in response, the slightest reassuring smile tugging at the corners of his mouth telling her that he needed to know more. "Umm…" She shrugged and closed her eyes, sighing in confusion at his request as she recalled in vivid detail the dream she'd spent half her life within but had never tried to describe to anyone before. "I'm in the forest…and it's beautiful…pure…no noise or smog or people…and the sun is shining so brightly it makes everything seem white…" Her voice was changing pitch even as she spoke, her breathing becoming shallow as her body relaxed. "I can feel it on my skin, it's warm and welcoming…it whispers to me…and the ocean is lapping at the shore…and then I'm flying…I can see for miles in all directions…and there is a voice speaking to me, calling me home to the shore…" She opened her eyes looking dazed, her lids now heavy. "And then I wake up."
Glitch walked over to her, putting a hand on her own as he knelt down beside her. "Alisha, I need you to close your eyes for me again and remember the sensation of flying, can you do that?" He asked, and in her dreamlike state she could only nod and comply. Glitch cast father and son a worried look, then watched the features of her face slowly relax at the memory. He left her there for several moments, watching her eyes roll beneath their lids as she was drawn back into the world of her dreams. "Na'hala'can'tien…" He whispered.
"An shauo ton ree le mor Nura…" She breathed, her voice taking on that melodic quality that set hairs on end as she spoke the words with ease and the three men stared at one another in astonishment.
Glitch swallowed, somehow, looking back at her and trying to think of something to ask her. This was a dead language – hadn't been spoken in thousands of years – he couldn't begin to know how far off his pronunciation would be. It was a slow process, his voice shaking unsteadily as he tried to ask her to explain. "Na le mor Nura…youwa eta na le mor Nura luth?" He said quietly, hoping to keep her in this state as long as possible.
He watched her features tense determinedly at his question, her hand beneath his balling into a fist. "Na'can'te'ta'howlameed…" She seethed, her voice entwined with those of several others, and the instant the name fell from her lips Glitch cried out in agony and pulled his hand away from hers.
"Whoa!" Wyatt yelled, him and Jeb were on their feet in an instant, the noise bringing Alisha back out of her dream, looking around herself in puzzlement as they rushed Glitch. "What happened?" Wyatt asked, grabbing Glitch's hand and looking down at it worriedly. The skin was…blistered…."What in the…what did she say?" He demanded, looking into the head-case's teary eyes.
"What did who say?" Alisha asked, finding no other woman in the room.
They ignored her question for the time being.
"I spoke the name, 'the winged ones' and she replied, 'shine brightly in their protection of Nura', as if it is a greeting or something. When I asked her who they protected Nura from…she said 'the one of blackness'…her hand was like touching lava, Cain…I don't…check her temperature." Glitch told Jeb, the Tin Man still looking down at his injuries in concern as he whimpered in pain.
"Check whose temperature? What the hell are you guys talking about?" Alisha was yelling as she climbed to her feet, Jeb at her side quickly pressing a hand to her forehead. "I'm fine, what is wrong with you?" She asked, pushing his hand from her face.
"You're not fine." Jeb whispered, turning her to face the chair she'd just risen from and finding the wood scorched severely.
"What the fuck…" She breathed, leaning back against Jeb as he put an arm around her.
"She's back to normal. Can I recommend if you try that again we have a hose ready?" He said in a voice strained by fear as his father wrapped Glitch's hand in cloth.
"Will someone please tell me what the hell just happened?" Alisha whispered, tearing her stricken eyes from the burnt chair and facing the Tin Man who was watching her.
Wyatt looked at her in that second with an expression that took several seconds to read. Concern, fear, regret, reassurance…how was he able to convey so much with those eyes alone peering out beneath the brim of his hat? He turned back to the table, picking up the book and approaching her slowly. With a sigh he opened to the page with the portrait of her likeness, handing it over to her and watching her eyes widen in surprise. "What is this?" She asked, leaning more heavily on Jeb for support.
"This…is a text from the ancients…and it speaks about creatures of magic made to battle a darkness that tried to harm the first white witch of the OZ." Wyatt said softly, pulling his pendant free and holding it out for inspection, somehow feeling that she had a right to see it. "Those creatures…were linked to this."
Alisha's features relaxed at the sight of it, she reached out and traced the symbol with her fingertips slowly, the whispers returning in Wyatt's perception and speaking her name to him as the charm emitted a soft white glow. She could only stare at it for several moments, listening to it speaking to her subconscious as her vision blurred.
Finally she shook her head and regained her composure. "So what does any of this have to do with me? I mean…so what if the picture does look sorta like me….well, other than the ass..." Jeb motioned emphatically that he'd said the same exact thing. "I'm not even from the OZ, my family is from the other side and could be traced back for centuries with ease." She insisted.
"We're…unn…working on that…" Glitch said, his pain evident in his voice and all three of the others turned to find him sweating, holding his arm at the wrist as if trying to stop the throbbing pain from radiating any further.
"Jeb, go get Raw and bring him back here." Wyatt said in an urgent tone. With a nod to his father and a kiss to the side of Alisha's head he was out the door in a flash.
They sat in silence waiting for Jeb's return, Alisha looking down at the thick volume skeptically and chewing the inside of her cheek, trying to ignore how familiar the image was to her. Only occasionally did her gaze wander to the injuries of Glitch's hand and the burnt chair. She still couldn't deal with the fact that either was caused by her and decided denial was a happy alternative for the moment.
Raw entered the door with Jeb hot on his trail, racing up the stairs and stopping beside Alisha, casting her a probing look before reaching out for Glitch's hand.
"It's still really sore so I would appreciate if…ouch! Easy!" He complained as Raw removed the bandages and pressed his own palm to the wound. Glitch whimpered and covered his face with his free hand, hissing in pain as the burn slowly healed at Raw's touch.
"Who cause burn?" Raw asked when he was finished, but his accusatory glare was only on one person as he said it.
Wyatt couldn't believe he was stepping in front of her in that moment as if shielding a child from a reprimand he didn't feel she deserved, his action alleviating some of the fear and guilt she was feeling over it being caused by her somehow. "Raw…I need you to read Alisha…but firstly…can you heal yourself?" He asked, finding it to be a reasonable question.
Raw nodded and eyed Alisha appraisingly past Wyatt's arm. "She different….could see right away…light inside her now…hot light…" He said, finally looking up into Wyatt's eyes. "I can heal own wounds…"
"Read me? Oh, what the hell?" She groaned, looking to Glitch for support. "Are you guys sure this is a good idea?" She whispered, she had no idea what was going on or what was wrong with her, was already chalking it up to drinking the water since she came to the OZ.
"It'll be fine." Glitch assured her, but the hesitance in his reaching out to give her hand a squeeze of reassurance did not go unnoticed.
"I'm apparently speaking in tongues and catching shit on fire. How is that 'fine'? Sounds like I need an old priest and a young priest if you ask me." She pouted, but seeing the confused look from the others she just sighed. "I'm guessing none of you have seen the Exorcist, huh?"
Glitch hurriedly found a mirror amid the piles of nick-knacks he collected for experiments and inventions, bringing it over and propping it up beside the scorched chair. After checking to make sure that it wouldn't collapse he motioned for her to take a seat.
"Just close your eyes, it tingles a bit when he does this." Glitch offered and she cast a look up at Wyatt.
"Alright, but if you see anything pornographic in there I gotta say I'm sorry in advance." She said with a grin and Jeb covered his mouth to prevent laughing.
Wyatt shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment and praying the images inside this girl's head wouldn't traumatize him too badly. Her gasp caused him to look back, finding that Raw had already begun the connection.
Images came in blurs, an impossibly dark and crowded city, fights and people screaming…a strip club filled with nude female dancers…Alisha was there as a patron, tipping the girls, clapping and whistling, joking around and drinking with a group of guys…
Wyatt's brow arched, his face twisted in surprise as he looked over at Jeb. His son only gave a nervous laugh and shrugged, turning back to the images and avoiding his eyes at all costs. The sound of metal and glass crunching drew Wyatt's gaze back to the mirror.
A travel storm was bearing down on her as she raced to escape it, streams of panicked curses were falling from her lips as cars were ripped from the street mere feet behind her, she dropped to the pavement to avoid a mailbox that was hurtling directly for her, it was all for naught, after fighting as hard as she could to get away she was sucked backward into the cyclone, screaming at the top of her lungs above the howling winds…
Raw's expression became more severe as he pressed on past these surface memories, going deeper, finding an entire realm of knowledge within the light. The instant that familiar giggle filled the air it had Wyatt's full attention. The image of the OZ passing beneath her as she flew at dizzying heights brought him, Glitch and Jeb a few steps closer. She landed atop a tree, crouching down and looking out at the distant shoreline as a voice sang to her, calling her home.
Glitch was covering his eyes now at her nudity, Wyatt rubbing his face and casting his son uncomfortable looks as if to say 'please keep in mind that I really don't want to be seeing this'.
"We need to ask her to show us what it is she was created to fight; what her purpose is." Glitch whispered, peeking at the mirror between his fingers to see if she was clothed yet. "If we find that out we'll have a better chance of understanding why she's here now. Should I try?"
Wyatt nodded slowly, it was after all, the reason he'd asked if Raw could heal himself.
Glitch knelt down in front of her again, keeping his eyes on her and not her nude image in the mirror and taking great care in not touching her as he spoke – the first time had been painful enough. "I'm going to ask her who she was created to battle…" He said softly over his shoulder to Cain, waiting for another nod before turning back to face her. "Annohl kon na chee soo kathal?" He whispered, wringing his hands worriedly as her body began to tense again.
"Na'can'te'ta'howlameed…" She answered, Glitch translating in time with her words.
"The one of the blackness…" He said softly.
"Na' hahnon ta shauo'nee…" She hissed.
Glitch's brows drew together worriedly as he whispered. "The devourer of shining light…" Within an instant he could feel the heat rolling from her as the vision in the mirror changed to darkness.
An image of her filled the screen, white lines covering her face and body like war paint, her breathing heavy and features twisted in rage as she raced through the woods toward the temple with thousands of others like herself, each of them taking flight the instant they'd cleared the tree-line, soaring headlong into what appeared to be a massive black cloud undulating across the ocean, bearing down on Nura's home…
Red eyes, fangs…talons and scales filled the glass, a deafening roar and blinding light flashing across the mirror as it shattered and fell to the floor.
Raw released his hold of her and cried out, he'd held on as long as possible and was now hurriedly trying to heal the wounds resulting from the contact.
But she wasn't waking up this time.
White light was slowly rolling outward from her like flames, licking across the floor. The wood creaked and groaned; the chair beneath her snapping and falling to the floor as she remained in place.
"Dad!" Jeb shouted, pointing at Glitch as the light nearly came in contact with his knees.
Wyatt gripped the back of Glitch's jacket and hauled him away from it, his eyes wide and panicked.
"Wake her up!" Glitch called out as he struggled to get back to his feet but it was no use, Jeb couldn't get close to her now, the heat too painful to endure. Even her dress was smoking now, the material unable to withstand the rapidly rising temperature.
"How did she wake up before?" Jeb screamed back in terror after several failed attempts to call her name and reach her. He snatched up the red leather book from the edge of the table, staring at it in astonishment as the wood blackened and smoked as if engulfed in flames instead of white light.
Wyatt could hear the whispers again, swirling in his mind in response to the question. "ALISHA, WAKE UP!" He screamed at the top of his lungs.
Her eyes opened at that with a gasp, the light retreating back inside of her as she fell to the singed floor coughing and sputtering for air.
"Alisha? Alisha?" Jeb called in panic as he skidded across the floor on his knees to her side, waiting for her to look up at him in confusion. "She's back." He called over his shoulder.
"What the hell…" Alisha groaned, sitting up and looking around herself in disbelief. "Whose brilliant idea was this again?" She asked, lifting her hands and finding them covered in the ash that made up the only remnants of the chair she'd been seated on. "Othniel…" She breathed distractedly, recalling how she'd come back from her dream, her face took on a look of puzzlement as she stared at Wyatt. "Who the hell is Othniel and why did I hear him screaming?"
Glitch's jaw fell open as he looked over at Raw, both of their guilty eyes wandering to Wyatt.
"Where did that pendant come from, Tin Man?" She asked suspiciously as she got to her feet, finding her dress in tatters and rolling her eyes. "I'd say you guys have a lot of explaining to do." She said, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at them. "I'm missing a whole lot of pieces to the bigger picture and if we're not all on the same page nobody is going to figure anything out around here."
So they started filling in the blanks as she sat in Jeb's lap with him picking bits of ash from her hair. The royal guard had long since charged in thinking the palace was burning down and had been sent on their way by Wyatt. The more she heard the more questions she had, but she held off until the story had been told.
"And you didn't tell DG that the pendant warns you of danger?" She asked Wyatt and watched him shake his head, his cheeks darkening slightly as he recalled the part of the dream he hadn't shared with anyone. "Alright…but nothing I've heard has explained how I, a person from the other side, has anything to do with any of this." She said, looking over at Glitch as he scanned through the contents of the red leather book.
"So let's read then – seems like every time we've hit a road block so far we've found answers in the texts." He said, finding a passage and giving them a summary of what he was reading. "The winged ones were beings of light, free spirits by their very nature, creatures of mischief and pleasure seekers. They were the creators of the first berry wines of the OZ, loved to drink and play and dance with the other creatures of the forest…" Alisha nodded that at least that part was accurate. "They were especially captivated by mortal men, singing to them and seducing them whenever they wandered into the woods. As this became known men began seeking them out, entering the forest in search of them. Nura allowed them to take lovers; she found it only fair to allow them a chance at joy for their protection of her and her family…wait…all of this text is speaking about them in the past tense…" Glitch realized. "It was written after they disappeared or were no longer found…I wonder why that is…." He thought aloud as he skimmed the page. "Oh…okay, after Nura and Othniel and their children's children's children had passed the winged ones were still alive, their lives were far longer than those of mortals and they had lost their sense of purpose without the draw to their mistress. They wept for her, their joint sadness caused…" Glitch's eyes widened in surprise, "terrible storms…"
Wyatt sat up a little straighter at this. "Travel storms…" He breathed.
Glitch nodded. "The winged ones were created from something Nura found in nature…it would make sense that they could change things like the weather with their magic."
"But don't people summon travel storms with machines?" Alisha asked in confusion.
"They can, but the machines are only meant to duplicate a natural occurrence. So they were taking travel storms to the other side…I wonder…they were creatures of light thrown into the darkness of the storm…what if when they arrived on the other side they were merged into one being?" He said and watched Alisha smirk.
"I am a whole lot of woman, but I don't know about all that." She teased. "And let's keep in mind here; with all this talk of long lives, I'm just as mortal as the next girl."
"But if they were breeding with mortal men on the other side maybe it bred the extended life expectancy out of their race through the centuries." Jeb offered.
"Would make sense." Glitch said as he nodded, "Well, I had been working on a theory, before the whole…" he pointed at his zipper, "thing. When a solution was sought for a way to stop them I postulated that travel storms might be drawn to magic. Even with Dorothy Gayle, not DG, but her ancestor…she arrived here from the other side but as she aged her magic became apparent – the same magic which has been passed to DG and Azkadellia – the white magic of the OZ. Dorothy was drawn here by a travel storm during the reign of evil witches…what if she was an ancestor of Nura? What if somewhere along the line a white witch traveled to the other side and the storms brought Dorothy back to the OZ to protect it? What if these naturally occurring travel storms are all linked to magic when the need arises? This leads me to the part that worries me…" He said, looking over at Alisha and Wyatt. "The resurfacing of those pendants and your presence here, Alisha, they seem to be gearing toward something. Nura had a great gift of sight, what if she had her magic woven through time, what if she were in some way responsible for travel storms and the winged ones abilities to create them if the need for their protection arose?"
"I don't like where this is heading." Wyatt said quietly.
"What if you were drawn here and those pendants made themselves known because this 'blackness' is coming back?" Glitch finished and Wyatt groaned.
"I'm not cool with that." Alisha said and shook her head, as if her saying no would change anything.
"It doesn't make any sense for all of this to be happening at the same time without a reason for it, it's too big to be a coincidence." Glitch said and watched Alisha and Wyatt both eyeing him skeptically. "Alisha, when you came to the OZ what drew you to the royal palaces? You were transferred here from the evil witch's fortress, but why were you there in the first place?" He asked and watched her squirm uncomfortably.
"I don't know, great benefits?" She tried but Glitch gave her a disbelieving look in response. "I just…liked the palace."
"The same way you 'liked' fairies?" Glitch asked and she scowled at him before grudgingly nodding in agreement. "Why did the witch permit your presence there, I wonder? Did she ever allow any of the long-coats to be intimate with you?" He asked.
Alisha, Wyatt and Jeb's eyes all widened in shock, the men both really, really not wanting to hear the answer to that question – if it was 'yes' they'd both be out of the palace by nightfall in search of the offender. She felt Jeb's arms tighten around her ever so slightly.
"You are just getting all types of personal today, aren't you?" She asked in a shrill tone.
"I…didn't…I…don't mean to…" Glitch stammered in embarrassment, he'd just been following a train of thought and wanted to see if a theory was accurate. The Ambrose side of him still wanted to know the answer and pressed on. "But she didn't, did she?" He said with a knowing smile, his confidence restored. "She kept them away from you even though they were used to taking any woman they wanted."
Alisha flustered at this, starting to speak several times before finally giving up and nodding.
"So she didn't want your magic to taint her guards – to turn their loyalty to you in her stead…but she wanted you to stay there…so this blackness was something she herself wouldn't be able to ward off if it came calling. That's amusing…but also deeply disturbing." Glitch said thoughtfully.
Alisha reached out for the book, taking it from him and spinning it to face her despite her inability to read the symbols. "Well you're forgetting one thing…" She said, flipping through the pages quickly. "I am not the only maid that was transferred from the witch's fortress, and the long-coats weren't allowed to touch any of us…we're all slippers and…." Her hand froze on the page, her eyes widening in surprise. "And I'll be damned we aren't all winged ones." She said with a laugh, handing the book back to Glitch and Wyatt after Jeb had seen what caught her eye.
"Son of a bitch." Wyatt swore as he looked down at a page halfway through the book…
And found the faces of the maids staring back at him.