Chapter 7: Birth of the Mélusine
Disclaimer: I do not own Huntik: Secrets and Seekers or Winx Club. They both belong to Rainbow.
Lok and Sophie sprinted down the dark hallway towards the stairwell and up to the fourth floor of their hotel. The hotel and several surrounding communes were experiencing a power outage. Outside, people could see two moons in the sky, one white and one blue. Sophie sensed the magic radiating from the blue orb in the sky. The two teens wordlessly knew that something was going on at the church. Within a few minutes, they had gathered all their titans and left their hotel room running. As for the hotel staff, they began lighting glow sticks in the corridors and at important doors.
"Timmy!" Lok pounded at the researcher's door urgently.
The carrot-haired researcher answered immediately. He seemed ready to leave. He wore a fitting jumpsuit with armour padding made of various shades of blue. It looked like a uniform. On his back was a small rectangular black backpack made of sturdy material. "I know. I saw outside," he said.
"What do we do?" Both teens were ready to get moving.
"You are not going anywhere. You are staying here and helping if you can."
"What?" Lok said. "But what about Dante and Zhalia?"
"I'll go and make sure that they're fine."
"No way," Lok objected.
"Dante told us to stay here the first time and look at what happened outside. There is magic coming from that blue ball and we can't just wait for something to happen," Sophie reasoned.
Timmy looked at the teens keenly. "You're not ready to go back to fighting after what just happened with Cherit—"
"I don't care!" Sophie screamed. Lok was startled by her sudden admission. The girl shook and raged with her fist clenched at her sides. "I can't sit here and hope for everything to work out. Bad things always happen if I just wait! Never again will I allow such a thing!"
"And you, Lok?" Timmy said.
"Of course I'm going!"
"Fine then. If you want to come with me, then let's go." Timmy closed his hotel room door behind him and they made their way to the stairwell.
"Shouldn't we be going downstairs?" Lok said.
They were surprisingly heading upstairs. They approached the roof of the building but the last set of stairs was blocked off by wrought iron doors and a tangle of heavy-duty chains and padlocks.
"The streets are too chaotic," he explained. "It would takes hours to get to the church. The metro has been shut down due to the earthquakes and that means thousands of people will be on the streets causing traffic jams." The carrot-haired man knelt in front of the locks and tested their strength.
"And how do you plan to get over to the church? Running across the roofs would take just as long," Sophie said.
"Any of you know lock-picking spells?" he said shortly inspecting the locks.
"Um, no," Lok answered. Sophie answered the same.
Timmy pulled a small device of his utility belt along with what looked like a cube of putty. He seemed to be ignoring the teens as he hummed to himself. "Let's see...putty, detonator module, PHA...I think we're good."
"What are you doing?" Lok looked over the man's shoulders.
"Get to the wall and cover your ears, you two. It's going to be loud." Timmy pushed them to the farthest wall and made them huddle.
There was an explosion and they could feel the small shock waves shake their bones slightly. The explosion was so small that Lok and Sophie were sure that no one in the building had heard it.
"What was that?" Sophie gasped.
"A small explosive. Lock-picking would be too time-consuming," Timmy said casually as he fanned away some of the smoke and debris off the wrought iron gate. Lok and Sophie's ears rang and they were more than slightly confused. The chains were hot but they soon cooled down and Timmy entangled them from the bars. Soon, the door was open. "Let's go."
The teenagers looked at each other incredulously, wondering if it was really safe to be with him. They stood up and followed after him up the stairs.
"So you just...casually...carry bombs with you...?" Sophie said as they reached the roof. They were met with the humid night air and the sounds of a panicked city with sirens going off in the distance.
"'Bomb' is not a nice word, but yes, I do. It's very handy."
"So what now?" Lok said as he took in the panorama of the city. The wind howled and ruffled his blond hair.
"This is the part where I get rid of you two."
"What?" Sophie said in surprise.
"What?" Timmy smiled rather ominously.
"Stop that, Timmy," a fourth voice said. It was masculine and deep.
"It was a joke." The bespectacled man rolled his eyes.
The teens looked for the owner of the new voice apprehensively and stepped away from Timmy. A dark-skinned man stood near the edge of the roof with his hands in his pocket. He wore dark jeans and a white think under an unbuttoned purple dress shirt. His waist-length dark hair was braided with beads of gold and silver. He was an imposing figure.
"Who are you?" Lok asked.
The man ignored the question and approached Timmy. "What do you think you're doing bringing them here?"
"Hey, hey, I'm not the only one who'll be in trouble here."
"Timmy, you're bringing kids to a fight."
"We were barely older then them when we went to Shadowhaunt and fought Darkar's shadow lupi. Well, you weren't there but you get the point."
The dark-skinned man sighed. "We have training specifically for this sort of situation; we have advanced magic and technology; we know how to deal with magical creatures—such as that thing in the sky!" He pointed to the blue orb over Paris. "We can't let two normal kids come with us."
Timmy made a pointing gesture towards them. "We were much like them when we fought Valtor. It was stupid on our part to think we could even fight him and despite our mistakes, we made it out alright. I doubt very much that that thing in the sky is hell-bent on stealing all the magic in the world and conquering the universe."
"We're on Earth! There are still a lot of people angry about what the Black Circle did. They're the cause of most of the problems on this planet! Remember when Nebula went rogue?"
"Then who are we to interfere with Earth's business after the fact? Sure, we're doing clean up but that does not mean we have to solve every crisis they can't handle. Helia and I could just walk around picking up the priority items and be on our merry way to Magix, but that isn't happening anytime soon. Who better to deal with Earth's problems then the Earthlings themselves? Rebuilding the world isn't going to be easy. They need us to help them. You did more than your share of being too nice to the Earthlings on our first assignment here."
The dark-skinned man's shoulders lowered slightly. "I know, and I hope that it happens to no one else."
"Then let me bring them and let's go," Timmy urged.
Nabu turned to the teenagers who stood gobsmacked.
"Um, speak French, Italian or English, please?" Sophie said to the two men bewildered. Lok had an equally confused look on his face.
All the two teens had seen and heard was two men argue first in French and then in a language that was completely unintelligible and unrecognizable to them.
"We're going to that church and meeting the others," the dark-skinned man said.
"Who are you exactly? Did Guggenheim send you?"
"No, I am not part of your organisation or part of his for that matter." He pointed at Timmy. "My name is Nabu."
"He likes being called High Wizard Nabu," Timmy said conspiratorially.
"Shut it. You know very well that I don't like that name." Without warning, a long golden staff appeared in Nabu's hand and he pointed it at Timmy rather menacingly. At the end of the staff was a violet crystal ornately set in gold. The staff oozed magic and power and it made the two teenagers nervous. The man had summoned it to his hand without a word; something that was not quite easily possible as far as they understood magic.
"Shall we go?" Timmy suggested.
"How exactly do you plan on getting us to there?" Lok asked.
"Wait—!" Lok stuttered.
Nabu waved his hand in a circle. They saw tribal tattoos glow on his arms and before they knew it, they were gone in a flash of light.
Dante let down his armourbrand spell long after the dust had begun to settle. The dust was indistinguishable from smoke and the City of Light was obscured from the seeker's eyes. Or perhaps the city's electric grid had been shut down. He was surrounded by destruction and chaos. Sirens rang shrilly like banshees and people soon began to wonder streets like lost souls. Above it all was the blue orb in the sky made of water.
The man's mind was a whirl of fear and confusion. Where could he start to fix this problem? Should he contact the headquarters in Spain and England? How could anyone survive this disaster in the heart of Paris? Could Zhalia survive the destruction of the church?
Suddenly, all Dante could think of was the survival of the mysterious dark-haired woman. His heart faltered to think that she could perish in such a human way. She was an enigma of her own, and for once in his career as a seeker, he felt no need to solve it. He understood that there was a necessary darkness to her. Lord knew that he had some of his own that he would not easily admit to having, so he had no right to pry.
He raced back to the collapsed building. All he saw were piles of shapeless masonry and wood in waist-high water. The remaining pieces of the foundation were much like little islands of stone in the flooded street.
His heart pounded wildly. He knew without a doubt that Zhalia had been inside the building when the earthquakes had begun. He knew the spine-chilling pitch of her voice when she cast spells in the heat of battle.
That golden dragon that had escaped from the building was sure as hell not her King Basilisk or Gareon. He had never seen such a titan and by the looks of it, it was surely a powerful one. How did such a massive being escape the Foundation's notice?
The seeker leapt down onto the debris and looked about hopelessly.
The man jumped in surprise. He turned to see Sophie and Lok making their way to him.
"What are you two doing here?"
"We came to help," Sophie said.
"Where's Zhalia?" Lok asked.
"I don't know. She was in the church but..." The man looked desperately at the rubble around them.
"I can tell you right now that there is no one under that mess," a new voice said.
Timmy and a dark-skinned individual approached the Huntik team.
Dante first looked to the kids and then Timmy and the stranger. "Timmy, who is he?" the older man said warily. Something in the way the researcher held himself put Dante on edge. It was as if he was looking at new person. The meek researcher had disappeared. He then turned to the stranger. He could sense that the dark stranger radiated power. In his hand was an ornate staff that clearly indicated it was a supernatural artifact, like his titan amulets.
"My name is Nabu," the dark stranger said. "And I assure you that no one is under the rubble."
"How can you tell?" Dante asked.
"Trust him, I can vouch for his judgement," Timmy said. "I think we have bigger problems to worry about." He pointed to the sky.
"And we don't have time to waste," a voice said from behind.
Sophie and Lok gasped when they saw the familiar green glow in the darkness. Two men approached the group. They were dressed in a uniform similar to Timmy's. Dante glanced at the strangers surrounding the Huntik team.
"You!" Sophie shouted.
"Hello, missy," Brandon greeted with a smile.
"The two kids from the other night," Riven said. "Small world."
Sophie gritted her teeth. "Who are you people?"
"My name is Brandon and this is Riven," the brunet pointed out. He held a glowing green sword in his hand. It was notably massive but he carried it with ease.
Dante knew immediately that these were the two that Lok and Sophie had described. He looked over to Timmy and Nabu apprehensively. They were effectively cornered. "Who are you? And what do you want with us? You already have the medallion."
"We are the Specialists and I am the leader of this motley group of gentlemen. Except for Nabu. He's here as a consultant of sorts." Brandon was rather careful of his choice of words.
"I'm going to help you deal with her nonetheless." The dark man pointed to the sphere of water.
"'Her?'" Dante repeated.
"Most definitely female and very angry. She is gathering her magic for something big." Nabu spoke with the wisdom and seriousness that sent chills done everyone's spines.
"It would take too long to evacuate the commune," Brandon said thinking rapidly.
"That doesn't mean we still can still fight it. It could destroy the city with us in it. We don't even know what it is exactly," Riven said.
"We don't have a choice. We'll have to fight it here until backup comes in."
"Backup? We have backup?" Riven said incredulously. Dante noted that perhaps the young man had expected no backup of any sort. He was more than confused about the current conversation. He had expected them to consider somehow collect the blue orb in the sky, not care for the welfare of the city.
"I'm going to call in a favour. In the meantime, Timmy, find out where Helia is and get him over here," the brunet Specialist ordered.
"Helia is here now, actually."
Brandon looked up to the sky. There was a flash of white and gold that passed by them stirring up the dust and debris. It had been like a flash of lightning. A sinuous gold dragon landed on the remains of the church flapping its great wings. It was silent and beautiful possessing the unexpected elegance of an art piece. Its scales shone like stars in the darkness of the night and its golden eyes were all-seeing suns. A man wearing a once neatly pressed now dusty suit and tie hopped off the dragon's ornate leather saddle.
Helia approached the group.
Dante regarded the golden dragon and then Helia critically. Unbridled fury boiled in him. "You were in the church when it collapsed, weren't you?" Dante accused.
"Perhaps," he said enigmatically.
"Don't lie. I saw that dragon leave the church. Where's Zhalia?" the seeker almost roared. Lok and Sophie jumped in surprise.
The long-haired man held his hands up defensively. "Zhalia is alive and safe. I put her somewhere where she can rest from her ordeal. I'll bring her to you later." He combed his long hair out of his face.
"So what happened in the church then?" Brandon asked, intervening before Dante could do something rash.
"The 'vampire' is not a vampire. Her name is Marie-Jacques Mélusine Beauclerc. She calls herself Mélusine. She was born in 1328 and died in 1347." Helia turned to the Specialists. "I believe you can guess what happened, can't you? Her gravestone was hidden in the wall behind the altar and her grave was tampered with, most likely by our old friends of the Black Circle. She has a grudge against witches."
"And?" Riven said expectantly. "What about the woman?"
"She is a fairy."
"That would explain the heavy dark magic in the air then," Nabu said.
"So what does any of this mean exactly?" Lok asked. So far, Lok, Sophie and Dante could only watch the Specialists discuss the current situation with very little understanding. They knew that there was much more going on, but it seemed asking questions at that particular moment would only be a detriment to the current situation.
"It means that we cannot fight the living dead. We could, but we would never be able to permanently deal with it."
"So it's a ghost?"
"That is the best summation. Since it is dead, we can only help it find peace and guide it to the next world."
"And how do we do that?" Sophie asked. She was shivering in fear at the thought of dealing with the dead.
"I don't think we'll be able to help her since she had been dead for so long. It's been seven hundred years after all."
Above them, the watery orb began to freeze into solid ice. Ribbons of vapour slipped out of it. It made the distinct sound of ice cracking and shifting as it slowly froze over.
"That does not sound good," Lok said.
Unexpectedly, a body of ice slid off the orb and fell right beside them, splashing them with ice-cold water and shards of deadly ice. Even more pieces of ice began to fall and everyone scrambled to dodge the pieces. The golden dragon growled in surprise breathing fire and Helia raced to the beast before she took off.
"Nabu, get us out of here!" Brandon yelled.
"On it!" The dark-skinned man waved is staff and everyone disappeared in a flash of violet light.
The next thing they knew, they found themselves on the roof of a four-storey building disorientated and wet. They were some distance away from the church and they could see the blue orb of light freeze.
They all turned to the orb in the sky. It had become white in colour and it was blindingly bright. Helia and the golden dragon circled above the sphere in the distance.
"Here. Take this. We can stay in touch with them." Timmy handed the seekers wireless communication ear pieces. They looked much like Bluetooth headsets, and probably once were, except they seemed to be heavily modified. "Can you hear me?" his voice said in their ear pieces.
Then Helia's wind-swept voice filled everyone's ears, seekers and Specialists. "It's cracking."
"No shit, Helia," Riven replied rather snidely.
"I'm sorry. Let me rephrase that: oviparous birth, you jerk."
"When did he get so nasty?" Riven said to Brandon. "He's almost like me."
"Only more eloquent," Timmy added.
Nabu regarded the two Specialists incredulously. "Riven, I would be more disturbed by the fact that something is being born."
Dante adjusted the volume on his ear piece and went to stand near Brandon. He did not dare disrupt the Specialists' strange social dynamic. He could tell that they had know each other a while, perhaps years, and that such banter was normal between them. On the other hand, Brandon did not join in. He seemed to be concentrating on the situation at hand. "I'm guessing the next step is to wait and see what's being born," Dante said.
The seeker had gone through a whirlwind of emotions in the last hour. How he pushed on while keeping his sanity in check was a miracle but his training from his previous life before joining the seekers helped him push on.
"Yes," Brandon said. The brunet crossed his arms. "Let her make the first move. In the meantime, since we have a name, Timmy is checking out everything he can about her."
Dante regarded Timmy, who sat some distance away staring at a holographic projection on his lap. The hologram was much better in quality to the ones used in a holotome. "You're definitely not from around here, are you?"
"Farther than you can possibly imagine."
The sphere was hatching. Visible cracks began to appear on the white orb. Every crack sent shivers up their spines. Clouds of cold air escaped the forming cracks and white light shone through. There was a hum in the air that rose to a crescendo. Finally, a layer of ice at the top of the shape shattered and crashed to the ground like a fragment of an eggshell. It was like breaking glass.
A pointed object protruded. It was snout-like and mist erupted from its mouth.
More ice began to fall and reveal a serpentine body with glittering diamond-like scales. The head slipped out of the shell tentatively. It had the innocence of a newborn hatchling. It regarded the city pensively.
Then it let out a resounding roar that shook the city. The eggshell of ice shattered into millions of pieces and hailed down on the commune.
The seekers raised barriers to protect themselves from the ice. Nabu raised magical shield over the specialists. When the storm ended, they looked up with wide eyes to see a macabre white dragon soar in the sky. Its size was beyond imagining. It was a terrifying chimera with a body comparable to the Seine River with several undersized wings and a spine of sapphire scales protruding off its back.
"Oh my God, what is that?" Sophie cried out. She fell to her knees trembling in fear.
"How are we going to beat that thing?" Riven asked incredulously.
"We're going to need to get to higher ground," Dante said to Brandon. "We won't be able to keep it up if it keeps hailing like this."
"Nabu, can you bring us to the top of the tower over there?" Brandon pointed in a certain direction.
"Of course." The wizard motioned with his staff. There was another violet flash of light and suddenly, it became windy and cold.
"Where are we?" Sophie asked to no one in particular. No one needed to answer question. A quick look outside confirmed that they were at the top of the Eiffel Tower. They were on the third floor of the tower, standing 276 meters above the ground. The floor was devoid of tourists. It seems that the management had safely evacuated the tower. They could see Mélusine coil her body in the air.
A few minutes later, Helia joined them at the top. The golden dragon coiled herself in the metal structure. Brandon had carved out some of the metal bars with his green sword (it seemed capable of cutting much more than metal) and let Helia in. Everyone gathered to discuss the situation.
"So what's the plan?" Timmy asked.
"We're definitely underpowered if we face that thing head on," Brandon said. "We'll have to be clever about it."
"I have an idea, but it's risky and it'll take some time," Nabu said. "I can seal her into her grave, but I need you guys to buy some time while I prep the spell."
"Absolutely not," Brandon rejected. "I am not going to watch you fall into another coma."
"What other choice do we have?"
"Can we communicate with her?" Dante suggested. "Last I checked, speaking with a ghost is still an option, and we avoid fighting her at the same time."
"My fear is that she isn't lucid enough for conversation. There is the risk that her mind has deteriorate so much that she might not understand us," Brandon said. "It'll still end with us fighting."
"It's the only plan we've got that doesn't begin with a frontal assault," Timmy reminded. "We need to act now."
Brandon exhaled heavily and regarded everyone carefully. He have great burden to bear, the lives of everyone as well as the welfare of the city of Paris. "Fine. Here's the plan: Nabu, get to the church. Lok, Sophie, I want you two to watch his back in case something happens and help him with the magic if you can. Timmy, Riven, Helia, you're going with Dante to talk to our new lady friend, Mélusine. I expect that you would be best suited for speaking with her than us, Dante. If she is cooperative, maybe we can figure something out from there. If not, draw her to the church. Nabu, radio us if you need anything and tell us when you're ready to seal her."
Everyone nodded and prepared to leave. Nabu left with Sophie and Lok in the same flash of violet light. Dante realised that it must have been some sort of advanced teleportation magic from wherever the Specialists came from. The older man regarded Brandon gravely. "And you?" Dante asked. "What are you going to do?"
"I have to take care of some things, but first, come with me to the top."
Brandon and Dante climbed to the top of the observation deck where the golden dragon laid after Riven, Timmy and Helia. Helia approached the creature, mounted her and took off into the sky. The remaining three Specialists and one seeker stood in the heavy and wind looked at each other uneasily.
"How exactly did you imagine me to speak to Mélusine?" Dante shouted in the strong wind to Brandon.
Riven and Timmy both raised an arm up with their hands wide open, ignoring Dante and Brandon's conversation.
"Time to get to work, Rouge!"
Timmy's palm glowed yellow while Riven's glowed red. Dante could sense magic radiating from the Specialists. There was thunderous clap and a flash of red and yellow lightning that blinded Dante for a moment. His eyes widened as he saw two more dragons, very similar in shape to Helia's golden one, appear right in front of Timmy and Riven. Riven's red dragon regarded Dante curiously, perhaps even suspiciously. It was evidently more intelligent than he thought it to be and it exhaled its hot breath dangerously. Riven regarded the red dragon as if to scold it silently and the dragon returned its attentions to the red-haired Specialist. A moment later, Riven and Timmy mounted the beautiful beasts and took off into the air.
"I didn't realise Timmy could do that," Dante commented. As far as he knew from Timmy's profile, Timmy had only been hired as a researcher and he had never displayed any sort of magical affinity.
"Timmy isn't a seeker or wizard. We have been bonded to these dragons for years. It's a much more powerful and dangerous bond than the one you have with your titans." Brandon showed the seeker his gloved hand. Through the fabric, Dante could see a green glowing symbol: a triquetra. "This mark is a symbol of my bond to Yseult. To me,Yseult!"
Brandon held up a hand. There was no colourful light show. At first, Dante had thought he was hallucinating. Two golden eyes appeared to be staring at him, then he saw the narrow snout and felt hot air ruffle his hair. A dark green dragon began to fade out of the darkness of the night, like a chameleon undoing its colourful camouflage. "This is Yseult."
Yseult raised herself unto the roof of the observation deck and regarded Brandon and then Dante. "There is a psychic link between the dragon and the tamer that requires no words. It's a second consciousness in the mind that is much more feral than ours. For now, she will permit you to ride her to go speak to Mélusine, but don't let her overcome you. You must be firm and unmoving."
"You want me to ride her?" Dante said incredulously.
Yseult brought her head forward towards Dante challenging him. He lifted up a hand to her like he would to a horse and she touched him with her snout. Dante froze as he felt an immense consciousness fill him from head to toe. It was visceral yet understanding and gentle. It was like a second presence in his body. The new mind poked curiously at his memories making him shudder. He remembered Brandon's advice, finally understanding what he had meant, and he firmly established that the dragon was not welcomed to peruse his past.
"This is a momentary bond that dragons share with others. You won't be able to see what she sees or anything like that but she will keep you safe from Mélusine and keep you mobile."
"And what about you?" Dante asked. "You realise that I'm trusting you without knowing anything about you."
"Yes, but I don't have anything against the Foundation or the Organisation. I didn't plan on any of this happening. Now, I have to find someone. Good luck, Mr Vale." Brandon seemed in a hurry to leave.
"I'm expecting some answers after this."
"Of course." Brandon pulled a small green disk out from one of his myriad of pockets. He dropped it to the floor and it expanded into a green surfboard of sorts. It levitated in front of the Specialist. He stepped on it. The board did not shudder under his weight. It seemed to be a hoverboard of some sort; Dante had heard of such fictional technologies before. With a kick off the deck, Brandon plunged down the side of the Eiffel Tower. He raced off into the blackened city of Paris.
Dante was more than suspicious of Brandon's need to be vague. He mentioned finding someone but he could not imagine why. He hoped he was not running from the probably fight that would follow.
Without warning, Yseult growled in displeasure. Dante felt the pressure of the second consciousness in his mind admonishing him for such distrustful thoughts about Brandon. He could sense the wordless trust she had for him. She also urged him to mount her so that they could face Mélusine, quite aware of the situation. He suspected that she supplied him with the knowledge of how to mount the plain brown saddle on her back. Her body twisted like a snake as they made a round about the observation deck and he tried to adjust his seat in her. Never in his life did he imagine he would do something as crazy as riding a dragon to speak with an even bigger dragon.
He felt the nudge of a question about flying in his mind, and before he could understand what she was asking, she took off into the humid Parisian air heading for Mélusine.
I've begun watching season two of Huntik. It's strange to hear Lok's new voice and I'm not a fan of the Fears twins yet.
My biggest problem is the fact that they used an orphanage as a setting. The problem is that in today's modern world (specifically North America and Europe), orphanages have become a relic of past due to the efficient bureaucracy we have developed in the last century thanks to the wars we've had. If I'm not mistaken, most orphanages have been de-institutionalised. Orphaned children are sent to their closest relatives, put up for adoption or put into foster care. There only remaining orphanages (as far as I know) are in the former Soviet Union countries, Africa and parts of the Caribbean. I'm willing to suspend my belief for Zhalia, who was taken away from the orphanage by Klaus, because historically, it's still possible. For the Fears twins, I find it unacceptable that they were put in an orphanage by the writers. Why not just make them runaways from the fostercare system? Hell, it's Amsterdam!