Please forgive me for taking so long with this last chapter. As you see, it's long.
Bronx had lost the trail almost twenty minutes ago, but they pressed on, hoping he would catch the scent again.
"Do you think we should turn back?" Angela asked Broadway. "Maybe Bronx can pick up the trail again. He may have turned down the wrong tunnel."
"I don't know," Broadway said. He thought that being the leader would be fun. After all he, Lexington and Brooklyn had fought for the position of second-in-command. Now he was beginning to understand why Goliath had chosen Brooklyn as his second. Broadway, a little slow at times, but smart in his own right, but Brooklyn was the one who could easily think and formulate a plan under pressure.
Broadway turned to Hudson. "What do you think, Hudson? Do you think we took the wrong tunnel?"
"It's hard to say, lad," said Hudson. "Though these tunnels look abandoned, humans have been coming and going. But I haven't seen any fresh footprints."
Broadway chewed his lower lip. "Let's keep going a little more. If Bronx doesn't pick up a scent, we'll turn around and head back."
Bronx suddenly barked and lunged forward. After three bounds he stopped and put his nose to the ground, whining.
Hudson knelt beside Bronx and inspected the ground. "There was a struggle here," he said after a moment. He pushed Bronx back so he could see the ground better. "These are not recent, but someone put up a fight."
"Any specifics?" asked Lexington.
Hudson continued to look. "Three men, one woman," he said after a moment. "There are boot prints all in different sizes and a woman's high heels, too. There are some drag marks." Hudson walked a few steps. "But they stop here. They most likely picked her up and carried her off."
Bronx growled deep in his throat. Clearly there was something here that he did not like.
Broadway gazed into the dark of the tunnel. "Let's keep moving. Maybe the same people who took her took Brooklyn."
It was a long shot, but it was the best lead they had. Broadway hoped that he was making the right choice.
Goliath glided beside Morgan. She had slowed her pace so Goliath could keep up. Now and then she would close her eyes and Goliath would reach over so he could grab her arm and change her course lest she glide into the side of a building.
"I'm not going to hit anything," Morgan said. "I can see where I'm going when my eyes are closed." She reached up and pointed to her eyes. "At least, these eyes."
Goliath tried to understand. "So you don't use your eyes to see aura?"
"Not my physical eyes," Morgan said. "When I want to see energy, I focus on my sixth sense. I can see any type of energy, but I can only manipulate life energy."
"So you are able to see the electrical current running throughout power cables?" asked Goliath.
Morgan turned to look at Goliath. "As clearly as I see you at this moment."
"It must be difficult for you to sleep if you can see with your eyes closed," Goliath said.
"Not as difficult as it once was," Morgan said. "When I was much younger, I wouldn't get any sleep. Back then, I didn't know how to quiet my sixth sense."
Morgan scanned the city below her. "Ah! I found him."
They landed on a skyscraper. Morgan pointed to the street below.
"I do not see anything," said Goliath.
"They are underground," said Morgan. "I sense the old gargoyle along with four other energies."
Goliath began to search for an entrance to the underground tunnels. There was an abandoned subway tunnel entrance a few blocks away. "We can get to them from there," he said, pointing the entrance out to Morgan.
"Maybe we cannot," she said. "If I am seeing this correctly, the tunnels do not intersect right away. We will have to backtrack before we can meet up with them."
"Then we must hurry," said Goliath.
Morgan and Goliath entered the underground using the abandoned subway entrance. They ran along the tracks. Morgan suddenly stopped.
"What is it?" asked Goliath.
"That's odd," said Morgan.
"What is?" asked Goliath.
Morgan was quiet for a moment. "I am sensing a great energy," she answered. "It is concentrated in a small form."
"Is it your friend?" asked Goliath.
Morgan shook her head. "It's too small, like something you can hold in your hand." Morgan frowned. "It's moving, too."
Goliath's brow ridges furrowed in worry. "What could it be?"
Bronx stopped in his tracks and growled low in his throat, his eyes blazing white.
"Bronx senses something," Angela said in a low voice.
Lexington looked ahead. "And I see someone!" He pointed to a figure moving in the dark.
It was a man dressed in black and a bright red and yellow vest with the insignia Goliath described to them.
"I knew that you would come for your friend," said the man. "But I was not expecting you so soon."
"Who are you?" demanded Broadway.
"Your end," said the man. He was holding what appeared to be a gold flute in his hand. He lifted it to his mouth.
"The Pied Piper's Pipe," Lexington said, remembering what Elisa told them.
The man began to play. It was a sweet tune. Lexington frowned. Why was something that beautiful so dangerous? He soon had his answer.
Without any warning, Hudson drew his sword and slashed at Broadway.
"Hudson, what are you doing?" yelled Broadway, leaping out of the blade's reached.
Angela whirled around and grabbed Lexington, snarling like a wild animal.
"Angela!" strained Lexington, trying to push her off. "Stop! You're hurting me!"
Bronx whined, not knowing what to do. He butted against Hudson's legs. Hudson took one look at the gargoyle dog and kicked him in the side. Bronx went down and whimpered. His old master never kicked him before. Not wanting to hurt his masters, but knowing he had to do something, Bronx disappeared into the darkness, looking for help.
Morgan stiffened. Her eyes flashed gold. She turned to a wall and stared at it. Goliath took one look at her and knew she wasn't staring at the wall, she was seeing what was on the other side.
"We must hurry," said Morgan. She began to run down the tunnel with Goliath following.
Bronx sniffed for any sign of someone who could possibly help his masters. There were few scents, mostly those of the stranger playing the music. Then there was something! Another gargoyle: Brooklyn. Bronx ran, following the scent.
Brooklyn and Ariana heard something large coming their way. They looked at each other and then turned around. Bronx pounced on Brooklyn.
"Bronx!" cried Brooklyn, pushing the eager gargoyle dog away. "Where did you come from?"
Bronx whined, his front paws anxiously tapping on the floor. He turned around and started back the way he came, looking behind to see if Brooklyn and Ariana were following.
"What's with him?" asked Ariana.
"He wants us to follow," said Brooklyn. "Something must have happened to the others!"
Brooklyn dashed ahead with Ariana calling for him to slow down.
The man with the Pipe was still playing and the gargoyles were still attacking each other. He saw the gargoyle dog return with another gargoyle. His eyes lit up with malicious glee as he saw that he had another puppet waiting to be controlled.
"Hudson! Angela!" Brooklyn yelled.
"They're under a spell!" shouted Broadway. He yelled out as Hudson tackled him and cut him across the chest.
Lexington let out a roar of agony as Angela tore through his right wing.
The man with the Pipe paused briefly to get his breath. Hudson and Angela faltered. The man began again and Angela and Hudson continued their assault.
"The pipe is controlling them," said Brooklyn.
Brooklyn understood. His worst fears had come true. The pipe the man was holding looked like the gold stick that had been stolen from the museum. The man was an Illuminator!
He turned to the man and charged. He was about to tackle him when there was a sharp pain in his leg. Brooklyn let out a roar. Bronx had bit him!
"Brooklyn, what — " Ariana had caught up with him.
"Get the flute away from him!" shouted Brooklyn.
The tune of the Pipe changed slightly. Angela turned from an unconscious Lexington to face her new foe. That foe just happened to be Ariana. Angela's eyes blazed blood red as she began to stalk the sorceress.
Ariana understood. The Illuminator was controlling them with the Pipe. "I guess the only way to stop this is to get him to stop playing the infernal thing," she said. Ariana smirked. "Or cancel it out."
She turned to Brooklyn. "A word of advice!" she called loudly over the sound of the Pipe and fighting gargoyles. "Cover your ears!"
Ariana took a deep breath. She watched as Angela was about to pounce on her. Before Angela could pounce, another form of music rang out over the sound of everything else, the tune of the Pied Piper's Pipe included. The voice that produced the music was soprano and trilled between the notes of a high-pitched scream and glass breaking. The sound was piercing.
The Illuminator abandoned the Pipe and covered his ears. The gargoyles did similar. Bronx howled and covered his head with his paws. After a long moment, the voice ceased.
The Illuminator let out a growl of frustration and bent down to get the Pipe. There was the snap of fabric and he cried out in pain, clutching his face. Black fabric with silver embroidery scooped up the Pipe and floated back to its owner.
"Good work, Manny," said Ariana.
Brooklyn turned to her. Her cheeks were a bit flushed, but she was smiling. "How come you didn't tell me you could do that?" he asked loudly.
Ariana shrugged. "You didn't ask," she replied. "And I didn't think it was important up until a moment ago."
Angela and Hudson shook their heads. Both of them looked up and blinked. They had blank looks on their faces.
"What happened?" asked Angela.
Hudson looked down. "Lad!" he cried when he saw Broadway lying in front of him.
"You don't know?" asked Brooklyn.
"What don't we know?" asked Angela.
"Looks like you guys don't remember anything," Broadway winced as he sat up. "I guess the Pipe wiped out your memories of attacking us."
"What?" asked Angela. She was horrified. "I attacked you?"
"Hudson attacked me," said Broadway. "You attacked Lex."
Brooklyn looked around. "Where is Lex anyway?"
They looked around. The smallest of the gargoyles was nowhere to be found.
"There you are!" Goliath and Morgan came running around the corner out of the darkness. "We were afraid that something had happened to you," said Goliath.
"I recognized your singing," Morgan said to Ariana. "We heard you a long way off."
"Goliath, you're okay!" jubilantly cried Brooklyn.
Ariana turned to Brooklyn. "I told you she could help him."
"We cannot find Lexington," Angela said.
Morgan shuddered and hurried into the shadows.
Goliath followed. He gasped at what he saw. "Lexington!"
Lexington was lying in a small pool of his blood, extremely pale and very close to death. His right wing appeared to be shredded and his left wing had several large tears. It was clear that even if he survived until sunrise, he would never glide again.
Goliath gathered the tiny form of his charge in his arms. Lexington let out a pitiful moan. The others gasped when he turned and they saw their friend and brother. He turned to Morgan.
"Can you heal him?" Goliath asked her. "Can you heal him, like you did me?"
Morgan nodded. "Put him down," she said.
Goliath lay Lexington on the ground and took a step back. Morgan kneeled beside Lexington.
"What is she doing?" asked Brooklyn.
"Give her room," Ariana said, taking a few steps back herself. "And be quiet. This is going to be hard on her."
Morgan placed her hands on Lexington's chest and closed her eyes. She synchronized her aura with his. Morgan could feel the beating of his heart, could feel every struggling breath, could feel all the pain. She concentrated on her own aura now one with Lexington's. She imagined it permeating his skin, entering his veins and flowing through his bloodstream, rushing it to where he needed it the most.
The others watched in awe as Morgan's body began to glow. It was not long before Lexington's body began to glow like hers as well. The light was coming from inside of them. Lexington's wings began to knit themselves back together.
The light finally stopped and Morgan's shoulders slumped as she stopped. They stared at the two of them; Morgan, completely exhausted by the look of it, and Lexington, his wings healed and his skin a healthier shade of olive.
"Good job, Morgan," said Ariana, helping her to her feet.
Morgan let out an airy laugh and leaned on Ariana's shoulder.
Lexington's eyes fluttered open. "What happened?" he asked.
Angela let out a cry of delight and hugged him. "You are all right! I thought I had killed you!"
"What?" asked Lexington. He stared at her blankly before he remembered what happened. "The man with the Pipe — where is he?"
Ariana was surprised when Morgan gave her a shove and she stumbled to the ground. She looked up and was about to ask her what she was doing when she saw the Illuminator with his hands at Morgan's throat. Morgan did not move, did not fight to escape him, and the Illuminator did not move himself. He let out a choked cry of shock and slumped to the ground. In Morgan's hand was a sword made out of the same energy as her wings. She had stabbed the Illuminator when he tried to hurt Ariana.
"He's not dead," said Morgan, looking at the Illuminator at her feet. "But he will need a doctor. My sword only kills when I want it to kill. And when I don't, it leaves a wound that is cauterized. He won't bleed out, but it still is painful."
They took the Illuminator to be with his friends. The others were still under the effects of Ariana's sleeping and nightmare spells.
"You did this?" Broadway asked Ariana. She nodded.
"Guess we need to find something to tie these guys up with," said Lexington, looking around for a chain or piece of steel bar they could bend.
"I can handle that," said Ariana. She stepped over to the Illuminators and took her spell book out of its bag. She stroked the spine and the silver clasps snapped open. Ariana flipped through several pages before placing her index finger on one page and scrolling down. She raised her hand and pointed at the Illuminators. "Les ata con hierro y acero!"
Scraps of iron and steel from around the tunnels collected themselves and formed a long, strong chain. The chain wrapped itself around the Illuminators, binding them together.
"Nice," said Brooklyn.
"Thank you," Ariana said, closing the book.
They left the Pied Piper's Pipe somewhere in plain sight and called the police. Elisa and Matt came with backup and retrieved the Pipe and arrested the Illuminators. By that time, the Illuminators had begun to wake. They blathered about monsters and witches. The officers laughed, Matt and Elisa along with them, but they had a feeling that part of what they were saying was true.
At the castle, the others cleaned and bandaged their injuries. Morgan offered to heal Broadway and Brooklyn, but they politely turned her down.
"We'll heal when the sun rises," said Broadway.
"The concrete cure-all," Brooklyn said with a smile.
Ariana used the shower and Fox loaned her a set of clean clothes.
"That is much better!" she said as she came out to the courtyard where everyone had gathered.
The gargoyles eyes widened in shock. Ariana's hair was no longer silver, but stark white.
"What?" she asked, looking at their stunned faces. "It was wash-out hair dye. You didn't think my hair was naturally like that, did you?"
Brooklyn was the first to recover his voice. "That's why!" he cried, pointing at Ariana. "I thought you looked familiar, but I couldn't place where I saw you before. It's because I haven't!" He shook his head. "The lilt, the eyes, the face, the way you cast your spells on the Illuminators. I should have seen it earlier!"
Ariana smiled. "What?" she asked.
Brooklyn turned to the others. "You see it, too, right?"
"Yeah," said Broadway. "She looks a lot like the Magus."
"They could have been siblings," said Lexington.
"Well, thank you," said Ariana. "I guess. We should be getting home, Morgan. I know you have to go to work in the morning and we haven't been sleeping."
"We would glide you home," said Brooklyn. He looked to the east. "But the sun's going to be up in a few minutes. We would never make it back."
"I'm sure Owen wouldn't mind driving you home."
None of them had noticed Xanatos and Owen come outside.
Ariana looked at Morgan. "That would be great. I doubt Morgan could stay airborne for more than two minutes."
"I can't even get airborne," Morgan corrected.
"Would he mind a drive to the Lower East Side?" asked Ariana.
"I can handle myself," said Owen.
"Don't get out of the car," warned Ariana.
The sun was rising. Ariana and Morgan said their good-byes before the gargoyles turned to stone.
"Hey, Morgan," Lexington said as he took his place on the parapets. "Thank you for saving my life."
"You're welcome," said Morgan.
Ariana was standing close enough to them to hear. She gave Morgan a shove. Morgan looked at Ariana apprehensively.
"Well?" Ariana said. "Ask him!"
"Um, Lexington?" Morgan swallowed hard. "Will you come over for dinner tomorrow night? I'm cooking."
Lexington stared at her for a moment. He smiled. "Sure! If you're as good a cook as a healer, of course. I'm sure Goliath wouldn't mind."
Morgan let out a sigh of relief.
"Ah, what the heck!" said Ariana. She grabbed Brooklyn's arm. "Let's make it a double!"
"What?" asked Brooklyn.
At that moment, the sun rose over the horizon and the gargoyles turned to stone, Brooklyn's face frozen in his surprise.
"Come on," said Ariana, adjusting Manny on her shoulders. "Let's get home. We can get an hour of sleep before we have to be up for work."
The two girls went inside. Owen was waiting to take them home.
The girls would sleep during the car ride, Manny shared between them. Owen would have to reach back and shake them both awake when he pulled up in front of their apartment building. Ruth would be waiting on the front steps. She would thank him for bringing them home and lead them inside and put them to bed. Both girls would be late for work.
*Translation of Ariana's binding spell: Bind them with iron and steel (Spanish).* At least I think I have my translation correct.
Ariana and Morgan may be showing up in later stories, but who knows? (Certainly not me.) Tell me what you think of both of them. Thank you for reading! Special thanks to gargoyleslady for the plot and giving me ideas to keep this story going. Would not mind working with you again, love. Please, review.