Hello guys...This translation is now betaed by the wonderful and fantastic SynethesiaTastesGrey.
Thank you for doing it. Love you for doing it. ^^
"Good morning," I yawned as I shuffled down the stairs of our house. My 19-year-old son greeted me with fresh rolls and a cup of coffee when I staggered into the kitchen. Like always, he wore jeans and a T-shirt advertising some currently trendy band. He was a really good-looking guy, but to my dismay he had dyed his short, normally dark blond hair black.
"Come on, Mac, and give your old mother a kiss," I ordered and, laughing, he took me in his arms and kissed me on the cheek.
I was really happy. I had a wonderful man, a great son and my beloved pub. Believe me, it had taken me forever to achieve that with the Circle and the Senate breathing down my neck. In their opinion the reigning Pythia should be unmarried and had to be kept in a golden cage. But not with this Pythia!
I was suddenly yanked out of my reflections by the all too familiar jolt in the stomach and as I shifted the one thought circling in my head was, you've got to be kidding! It's only eight o' clock!
"Mum, where did you bring us?", Mac demanded, looking at me with reproachful dark blue eyes, "Couldn't you have waited until Dad came home?"
I turned around slowly and took a good look at my surroundings. I knew this place. It was many years ago, but it was the place where I had learned to accept my fate. It was the place where I had been through so much, where I'd become the person I was today.
"We are in Las Vegas, sometime between 2005-2010. This is the park where I was always tormented by Myrddin. "
"And why are we here?"
"Well, I guess someone is interfering in things that should best be left alone. You know my job has no fixed office hours."
"I want ten laps now!" shouted a familiar voice about fifteen meters away from us.
I started excitedly in towards it, my son hurrying after me with a big grin plastered across his face.
"What?" I snapped, glaring at him.
"You do know what you're running around in, don't you?"
Why did glee have to be an inherited quality? It was not my fault that I was only wearing boxer shorts and an oversized Superman T-shirt. With my hip-length red hair, I didn't even want to start. I had only just got out of bed!
We hid behind some bushes and watched a certain war mage and a younger Cassie get into yet another of our long drawn out arguments. It was strange to see the whole thing from the outside. A dreamy smile crossed my face as I suddenly remembered exactly when we were. This was the day when I started to ask myself what I really felt about that crazy half incubus.
"But it wasn't my fault! You wanted me to shift through time as long as I could manage. In the end I was totally exhausted, which was the reason why I couldn't get us out of there!" my past self complained.
"If you were in better shape, you could have done it," Myrddin answered softly.
"I've told you before, I have you for all that stuff. You're my bodyguard, so you have to protect me."
"Miss Palmer, run your laps, or I'll give you a more compelling motivation," he barked, producing a glock. He uttered a few words and that bloody thing started to fly.
"Yeah, okay, you don't have to threaten me and by the way, my name is Cassie."
The young woman sprinted off but not without throwing one final barb over her shoulder. "You're just mad that I shaved your legs!"
I stumbled out of the bushes without hesitation and went to the mage, with my son in tow. So I broke the first rule of time traveling:
"You know, back then I wasted a lot of time figuring out the best ways to torture you," I announced. Grinning, I crossed my arms over my chest and stood in front of Myrddin, who eyed me skeptically.
I rolled my eyes at his suspicious expression. Somethings never change. Abruptly I turned around and lifted the bottom of my T-shirt.
"What are you doing?", both men hissed in unison, earning a sigh on my part.
"Calm down, it has to be done fast. If I am not mistaken, we have little time. In addition, Apollo is already dead, right?" The war mage nodded slightly, "So, he has already seen a lot of me. And you, my dear, can turn around, if it's making you uncomfortable. "
Without saying another word, I revealed my back to Myrddin, where some magical tattoos roamed. Among them was a certain lizard. Gentle fingers stroked over my skin and a shiver ran through me like lightning.
"That's Mac's lizard. I christened it Lucy."
"Why are you here? And who's the boy?"
Slowly I pulled my top down again, turned around and saw these familiar green eyes. After all this time, I could still spend hours drowning in them.
"Um, I don't know exactly why I'm here, but I have my suspicions." I sighed and weighed up my next words. After all, you could change the future with too much information. Then no one but me and my companion would still remember the actual present.
"His name is Jonathan, but everybody calls him Mac and he is a war mage in training. It was a coincidence that he shifted along with me."
With folded arms, the man who had influenced me so much stood in front of me and studied my outfit with his typical arrogant smirk.
"It seems that my training helped you. The tattoos give you away."
"Yeah, yeah, magic is a muscle which has always to be strengthened. But we don't have time for this", I repeated and looked around, "My power has a peculiar sense of humor. I usually arrive a few minutes before the preventable event starts. We have a similar problem as with Myra. "
"A fallen sybil? What is she doing here? "
"You protected me. You were the one who kept me alive long enough to teach me to defend myself. So, I guess that she is here just for you. "
"Why me? Cassie would be a much better target. "
"Can we please discuss this later?" my son growled irritably, "I think we're about to have a visitor."
I felt a warning tingle on the edge of my senses. Alarmed, I turned towards the familiar energy of my student and of some lesser-class demons. Even if I didn't like Sophie, I had to admit that she knew how to make an entrance.
"Mac, stick to Myrddin and don't worry - Cassie already shifted somewhere safe", I stepped forward a few yards and was
stopped by someone holding my arm. Unfortunately my snake tattoo didn't really appreciate that action and began to hiss.
"What do you think you're doing?" Myrddin's voice was impatient and his face looked strained.
"Saving your ass! You have to stay alive, otherwise I fall into the waiting arms of the dark mages, demons and elves. So, go back to Mac or even better go back to Dante's and make yourself inconspicuous. They're coming."
With characteristic stubbornness Myrddin didn't move from my side, while my son stood on my left. God, men and their egos! I was a grown girl. I could defend myself.
Behind the trees the delicate figure of my student come forward, flanked on each side with a few demons. Arrogant and confident, she strode forward and stopped a few steps away from us. Her dark eyes flashed dangerously.
"Hi, Sophie. Nice to see you again. Has it been fun trying to kill me?" I shifted so I stood between her and Myrddin, keeping my eyes trained on her menacingly. "Do whatever you want, but if you hurt this man , I swear by all that is sacred to me that I will slaughter you. Do you understand me?"
Sophie just ignored me, but the astonished gaze of my former trainer bored into me. Damn, Mac should take him away, really fast. The more he heard of this, the more the future was in danger.
Sophie burst out into cold, horrible laughter. Okay, that was a mistake. She underestimated me. Ah, the folly of youth. How I missed it.
"The great, powerful Pythia. You really had destroyed the mighty Apollo? And so obsessed with your little demon. You know the Circle is growing tired of your excesses. That's why they sent me. They want me to replace you. Everyone wants to throw you off your throne. "
I rolled my eyes in aggravation. Why did my opponents always entrust their stories, motivations or sins to me? It was so boring and besides, they usually didn't survive more than half an hour. A yawn was my answer.
"Oh girl, you're still so young and so easily influenced. I'll give you another chance. Come to my side, pay for your mistakes. Though I'll never forget your total of 13 assassination attempts, I still don't want to have to kill you."
"This maniac has tried to kill you 13 times?" murmured Myrddin, carefully selecting a few bottles of potion. "Why is she still alive?"
"Oh, shut up. She's a smartass, believe me. It's the first time that we've actually met face to face. Usually she sends an assassin. Mac, take him away."
I bit back a curse. He couldn't be serious. He had to leave. If they killed him somehow, the whole time line would change.
"You have to go."
"No, I won't."
"Yes, you will!"
"I am the Pythia."
"My Pythia is already somewhere else. You are only the quasi-representation," he said, penetrating my soul with that steely gaze of his.
"MUM, it can wait for later. They're attacking," Mac yelped, putting up his shields to protect us against the demons' magic.
"Did the kid just call you his mother?"
Myrddin's voice swirled with uncertainty and betrayal.
"Wow, Mac, very good. What was rule number two? Never reveal anything about the future. Do you see the vein on his forehead? Great, really great," I snarled at my son and rummaged in my mind for a solution. I was the guardian of time, but not the goddess of time. I could shift through time, but couldn't influence it actively.
"From whom? Who is the father? Why are you even a mother? You are the Pythia!"
Normally, I would have found the jealousy very flattering, but this was not the time!
"You know I can't tell you anything," I hissed back, watching Sophie suspiciously.
"Much as it pains me to disturb your little meeting, I still have to take care of this thing." she sneered, jerking her head in Myrddin's direction.
Growling, I stepped forward and pushed my concerns about a possible change of the future back in the farthest corner of my mind. You should never ever irritate someone who was stronger and more powerful than yourself. Especially not a Pythia, who hasn't even had any coffee this morning!
"How dare you speak to him like that?" I hissed. "The only thing I see stands in front of me. A girl of just 17 years, who has no experience and who follows the path of greed for power, should not speak of a man like Myrddin like you did." My hands balled into fists and I glared at her in disgust. If looks could kill, she would be dead a thousand times.
Another laugh crept from her throatk, making me tremble with anger. I felt like going for her throat and scratching out her eyes. Trying to kill me was one thing, but why did no one leave the people I loved alone? Why had no one figured out that this would made me only more dangerous?
Some colorful magic and screams forced me out of my little mental tirade. My two men fought already with full force against the demons. Shocked, I realized that their numbers hadn't decreased, but increased. That could only mean one thing.
"Are you crazy? You opened a portal to the demon realms?" I regarded my former student with narrowed eyes. The teenager was nuts. That's enough! She had now, officially signed her own death warrant.
"I want you dead at any cost," Sophie walked up to me, scrutinizing me with cold eyes, "how long I've waited for this moment? My masters will be very pleased."
The constant mouthing off was really getting on my nerves. Sighing, I snapped my fingers and let time freeze. All of the demons stopped in mid-movement, Sophie stared at me with incredulous anger, while Mac and Myrddin paused in surprise. I ground my teeth. Why did everyone always forget I could this. Sure, it cost me some effort to hold over thirty demons, but I hadn't held this position for more than twenty years without toughening up a bit. I murmured an incantation and a curved athame materialized on my calf. I had copied this trick from my mentor after the fifth or sixth time I almost died due to a lack of handy weapons.
"Sophie, you have left me no choice but to execute you," I told her flatly. I stalked over to the sybil, tensed for any attack, but she seemed to realize she hadn't a chance and lifted her head proudly." I've given you God knows how many chances, but you turned a deaf ear to all of them. I really wish I could tell you I'm sorry, but that would be a lie."
"Kill me, but I but let me tell you this: even if I am dead, another one will come to end my job."
I struck for the throat, wasting no more time. She stood still, a stoic, proud and completely pointless gesture. I felt the cold metal cut through tendons and muscle tissue, as warm blood began to stream out of the wound and to run over my fingers. It was my duty. A hated, obligatory, inevitable duty.
Her life left her in gasping, rattling breaths. She was still so young. Her knees gave way. Her skin lost its color. Her eyes went dull. She was dead.
After I pulled the blade out and closed her eyes, I looked around me. I saw not a single demon, but two heavily breathing mages. One of them was injured.
"Mac! You're bleeding!"
I rushed to my son and looked at the long cut on his upper arm.
"Mum," a light blush coloured his cheeks, "It's only a flesh wound. It heals in no time."
"You sound like your father. Even if half the arm is missing, it's just a flesh wound."
With a smile I stepped back and began to refocus. Somewhere was a portal that was waiting to be closed.
"Myrddin, do you feel the gate? Sophie opened one and we have to close it again, before Rosier - " a shudder ran down my spine " - shows up here."
I mustn't have hidden my discomfort as well I'd hoped, because Myrddin shot me a meaningful glance. Radiant green eyes darkened with guilt, making my heart constrict in my chest. He shouldn't feel responsible for everything. It wasn't his fault that his father was a demon lord, who had a grudge against the two of us.
"The gate is already closed. It was linked with this sybil by her blood. A blood portal can only stay active as long as the one who summoned it keeps it open or the connection is aborted. The girl is dead and so is the connection."
An awkward silence crept between the three of us. Myrddin's accusing gaze slid back and forth between myself and my son, while Mac considered the half incubus curiously. Sighing, I let the athame merge with my skin again, straightened and took a deep breath.
"Mac, go and get Sophie. We must bring her back to our time and hand her over to the Circle," I ordered, my eyes never leaving Myrddin. "And you, stop being so jealous. I can't tell you the name of Mac's father. "
There was silence again. I could tell his mind was far away, even though his eyes were locked with mine.
"Cassie, you're happy?"
I smiled, nodding and brushing a strand of hair behind my ear. "Very happy. I have a wonderful son, the man of my dreams and I live my life according to my rules. I'm free from all this, all the things that terrified me in this present, but I'm not alone! I could always count on you. You were my mentor, my protector, my best friend. I always could rely on you, because you, Myrddin, were always by my side."
With every sentence I uttered, I saw his face change. From frustration to wonder. My heart began to accelerate, as I took a step towards him.
"I haven't heard that name for so long. Why do you use it?" His voice, usually so powerful, was only a breathy whisper.
"You'll find out soon enough," I giggled, "Besides it's your real name."
His eyes caught mine once more and rendered me as speechless as ever. It wasn't his demon blood, there was a far simpler explanation: It was simply because the man in front of me was Myrddin. It's my natural reaction to him.
"Mum." I started and turned around to see Mac with Sophie in his arms. How the hell did always he creep up on me like that? "We should go home. You know, the time line."
Dazed, I nodded again and grabbed my son by the shoulder, while Myrddin squinted at Mac's necklace.
"Where did the boy get this gem?"
I met his moss green eyes with a mischievous smile and just waved.
"You'll have to wait for this answer. You've lived a few centuries now, what difference will a few more decades make?"
With another grin, we shifted back in the future, and landed exactly where I wanted to land. In the middle of the headquarters of the Circle.
"We have a little present for you," I announced, while Mac gently laid the dead sybil on the ground, "This is Sophie Smith, the one who tried to kill me. Call her parents. Tell them she died honorably and save them the details. Thank you."
I grabbed Mac's hand again and shifted back home. We both looked at the clock and sighed in satisfaction. It was five past eight in the morning. Finally, I could drink my coveted coffee and read the newspaper. Exhausted, I sat down by the table, while my son went upstairs to take a nap.
"Didn't Jonas recommended that you shouldn't travel through time with your own body?" A voice growled from behind my back. I began to snicker.
"Yes, and you should have taken me before the Circle all those years ago, instead of protecting me."
Strong arms wrapped around my belly, and his chin rested on the top of my head.
"But then we would have never achieved this," my lover, best friend and protector murmured, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
"I love you, Myrddin. Forever."
"I love you too, Cassie. Until the end of time."