Authors: Denigoddess2001 (with a little help from my muse, Emerald Stare)
Addy: Denigoddess2001@yahoo.com
Date: 8/29/02 3:26:09 AM
Saga: The Fifth Column
Episode: 1.0
Title: We're Off To See the Wizards!
Rating: PG-13 (Adult Humor and catty females ...you have been warned!)

[Bracketed words indicate private thought or psionic transmission.]

Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles. They belong to Disney. White Wolf owns Vampire: The Masquerade and Mage: The Ascension. No infringement intended or profit intended either. So, don't sue me.... I'm broke. All other original concepts and characters are property of their deity, Denigoddess2001.

Author's note: I wish to thank Dorian, Sarah, Damon, and Scott for their input into this tale. Without their assistance, this story would not have taken form. If you wish to know more about Vampire: The Masquerade or Mage: The Ascension, please visit White Wolf's website. Check it out at www.white-wolf.com


This story is for Scott. Gotta show Cricket the Love. :D


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October 1, 2006
5:45PM
Linoma Bluffs Metroplex
Summerlands Estate
Linoma Bluffs, Nebraska
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There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man would take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.
--Harriet Tubman

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
-Unknown


Wren shook her head sadly as she drove the secluded road home to her beloved mansion. She saw the caravans of National Guard trucks and jeeps parked alongside Highway 2. In the month since the "Day of the Dragon," US Armed Forces had moved in and declared a state of Emergency. There had been little choice but to adjust to the sight of camouflaged warriors standing stoically in the streets. In that time, she had been issued ration cards for simple necessities such as bread, eggs, milk, sugar, and fuel. Life had taken a sudden turn in a most unexpected direction.

She watched the Humans turned into other creatures try and cope with their new lives. Now, the city of Linoma was overrun with Nymphs, dwarves, goblins, trolls, elves and the like. Many weren't mentally suited to the metaphysical changes of their bodies brought on by the imbalance of the leylines. Every evening, Wren watched the newscasters speak more of the suicides of these confused, tormented creatures. Very few survived the trauma incurred by the recent turn of events. In this brave new world, everyone felt a tenuous new order becoming fast reality.

The radio personality blaring from Wren's stereo talked about how the Order of Helios declared such 'non-humans' an abomination. There was talk of bringing in the Department of Mutant Affairs to personally oversee the entire crisis. The Governor hoped to avert another occurrence similar to the horrid holocaust of the Mutant Wars of the 1990's. Wren winced when she remembered the mutant camps that exterminated over 100,000 mutants only a decade prior. She knew those camps well and still bore the laser-engraved holographic tattoo upon her brow. [I don't want that to happen ever again. I'd rather die than to see that happen.]

[The clan is stretched to its limits. Our nightly patrols consist more of breaking up combat between Humans and the new Demifolke. There's no way that Drakiel and Demetrius can patrol the entire city. Poor MacBeth does what he can, but he has to keep a low profile. Poor Dominique is getting bigger with each passing night. A few more months and that Dame's going to hatch. She can't take the stress. Golconda is busy with his own agenda.]

Wren pulled her black SUV into the semi-circular driveway in front of the medieval monastery-turned-mansion. She saw that the sun was still well above the Western horizon. She looked at her watch and knew her transformation was still two hours away. Tonight was her turn to patrol Sam Hain, the old city of Lincoln known for it's obvious Metaphysical and Magickal activity. Tonight wasn't a night for patrolling alone.

The Fae snapped her fingers and several emerald sparks erupted from her fingertips. By serendipitous fortune, her keyless entry to her SUV flew upwards, caught on a tree, twirled around three times and landed perfectly in her grocery-filled hands. With a deft push of a button, the backdoor of the SUV slowly opened so she could retrieve the rest of the food for that evening's dinner.

"They still don't know what to make of me. A walking, talking fairy tale I am." She mused as she saw two Guardsmen staring at her from the road. With rifles cocked, the scene reminded Wren of a time when she looked at the outside world from behind barbed wire and laser security grids. She half-expected to see the giant robotic mutant hunters, known as Sentinels, to come traipsing over the landscape and stand guard at the front gates of Summerlands. "I don't need to give those people an excuse to come knocking on my front doorstep."

Sam Hain was fast becoming a segregated ghetto of Humans and non-humans. Wren half-expected to be wearing some sort of patch on her person. She became horrified at the thought that she and her kind would be marked so publicly. A cold shudder coursed through her being at the terrors she knew that might follow that first dark step into despair.

Dominique had placed several glyphs and wards around the surrounding property to discourage intruders. Dorian had communed with nature and thick groves of trees and lush foliage mysteriously sprouted. Wren thought that the thorn trees and heavy vines were a nice, if not obvious, touch. MacBeth had beefed up the security systems to monitor every move that occurred outside Summerlands. Demetrius kept his ears open at the Museum for any news linking the clan's involvement to the Day of the Dragon.

"What kind of world with Dominique and MacBeth's children know?" She sighed quietly as snapped her fingers and the door mysteriously went ajar. "Will they be persecuted by Humans that don't understand us? Will we be hunted? What is going to happen to us?"

"Nothing." A voice answered behind the young Fae. Wren turned to see Daria hovering mid-air sitting cross-legged. "Not if I can help it. Not on my watch."

"Daria, I didn't see you." Wren nearly jumped out of her skin. "Here, help me with these groceries."

"Not a problem." Daria quickly rubbed her chin in contemplation. One arm folded the other and a crown of sable curls bobbed as brown eyes blinked much. Canned goods flew from the paper bags and levitated to self-opening cupboards. Frush fruit sped across the room and landed easily in the glass bowl on the counter. Frozen items hurled themselves to a cold freezer waiting to be filled.

Wren tapped her foot with hands defiantly on her hips. "Show-off."

"Hardly. I see no problem with keeping it simple." With a wave of her lavender hand, the plastic bags crumpled themselves neatly and found their proper place beneath the kitchen sink. "By the way, you're welcome!"

"Thank you."

"How was it today?"

"I had to pass three points of inspection and show my papers twice." Wren sank into the kitchen chair at the glass breakfast table.

"Will it always be like this?" Daria closed her eyes to block the desolation threatening to overwhelm her. "Will it end?"

"With work, patience, and tolerance...it might be possible."

"I'm sorry." Daria contritely replied. "All you have to do is say the word and I will blink all those damned soldiers into oblivion. Nobody would ever know the difference."

"You know better!" Wren's sharp reply promptly chastised the Djinn. "Those men and women are simply following orders. They have families, loved ones....children. That would be no less than -"

"Murder, yeah, I know." Daria finished for her. "But, the city needs our help and those G.I. Joe Schmoes aren't doing much to help. If someone doesn't look human, they think that means it's open hunting season. Three centaurs were killed in Sam Hain in the past week alone. This is a new age where Magick reigns and people like us are being hunted down like animals. What are we supposed to do?"

"We plan and work behind the scenes." Wren poured herself a Vanilla coke. "Ice?"

"Sure." Daria blinked and tinkling cubes landed effortlessly from the ice-cube tray into Wren's glass. "Better?"

"Much. Thank you." Wren took a sip of the sharp refreshing beverage. "We need to network with other practitioners of the arts."

"You mean other creatures?" Daria mused. "Most of these new Demifolke are beside themselves with confusion. They don't know their hands from their asses-"

"I know." Wren nodded in agreement. "We need to network with other mages and consolidate our resources. Our clan can only do so much without drawing attention to ourselves. Most of us are taxed to the limit."

Daria nodded silently in agreement. She let her head rest in her hands as she leaned forward. She tapped her index finger against her lavender full lips in quiet consideration of Wren's judgment. "I can't disagree, Wren."

"Perhaps we're looking at this the wrong way, Daria." Wren traced the rim of her glass. A "Hmmm..." escaped her. "We might be limiting our options when we look for allies."

Wren knew that Machiavellian brow raise meant her sister-in-law was putting together a plot. That meant to anticipate the bewildering and the improbable. "What are thinking, Daria?"

"I'm thinking that we may have allies that we haven't even realized." Daria mused in deliberation. "I remember that one of my priestesses, Lissa, told me about a new group that has started meeting in our Temple one night a week. I asked her about it, in passing. I remember she told me that they're Wikkans and Magi holding gatherings there. I remember telling Lissa to go ahead and allow the meetings to take place because Dorian had recommended the group to me."

"Really?" Wren's brows rose in speculative curiosity. "Dominique, you, and myself are the resident mages in our household. We could certainly use some help. Linoma is one big mess and the Order of Helios is having a Heyday with it. They're spouting off their apocalyptic Anti-Magick rhetoric."

"I don't care for them one bit and that's a severe understatement." The Djinni sneered. "They've called and sent emails with death threats to the Temple. The clerics and I have ignored them so far. But, they're parading daily in the streets in their red robes and their cowled faces. They tried attacking one of these new Demifolke practically on the front door of the temple. We had to call the police to get the mob dispersed."

Wren's eyes gleamed vivid green. "They need to be dealt with, I agree."

"Easy, girl." Daria placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Don't go postal on me."

"I think it's also time to call in some major help."

"Do you think Dorian's group can help us?" Daria levitated to the breakfast table and took a seat beside Wren. "He has a full plate right now with Tina and Golconda trying to establish a new Tradition with the other Sanguine in the city."

"Could you call him and get some more information?"

"Not a problem, Wren." Daria acquiesced. "What will Demetrius think of all of this?"

"I think he'll go for it." Wren closed the cupboard doors and began crumpling the plastic grocery bags into small, compact balls. "But I need to discuss it with him first. After all, I'm only the Second-In-Command of this clan."

"But, you're proving yourself more everyday." Daria blinked and the cupboard doors beneath the sink opened. Several small, compact balls floated from the kitchen counter to the plastic trash bag holder hanging inside the cupboard. "You've held this clan together more ways than one. Can you think of anyone that can help us?"

"I'm thinking Goliath's clan might help us out for a while. Perhaps Owen might be able to come visit for awhile."

"Oh." Daria's voice went cold. "Him."

"Yes, Daria." Her sister-in-law cast her a disapproving glance. "Him. Owen is Puck and Puck is my grandfather. He also has enough experience and firepower to contribute greatly to the undoing of this predicament. Xanatos might even be able to funnel us some funds to help finance some of our operations to aid the Demifolke. We can't house them all, you know."

"True. But, I don't like trusting a Child Of Oberon."

"You ARE a Child of Oberon."

"I don't think so. My mother is Skylaris. My Father is a Duende...a dark elf...not one of the Fae. He's not even from the same planet."

"A minor technicality." Wren gingerly sipped her Cola. "See what you can find out about that 'meditation group' from Dorian. I'll contact Xanatos and see if he and the others can lend us aid."

"What do you think Demetrius will say?"

"Demetrius won't object. He's gallant, not stupid."

"No wonder you're his Second-in-command."

"Want the job?"

"Not on your life." Daria stuck out her tongue. "Let me make the calls to Lissa and I'll get some inside information on this group of Magi meeting at the Temple."

"Rock on!" Daria twirled around a sparkling cloud of amethyst dust floated in the air.

"While I'm at it, I'm going to make another call. I think it's time I talked to my family."

*************

The two women drove through all the military checkpoints without incident. Daria had used the Glamour she had developed to appear as a regular human. She silently thanked the Powers-That-Be that her mind was focused that day. The debris left from the firefight of recent days made the route to the temple laden with detours. After several minutes of annoying twists and turns, the two pulled into a small building just off of Linoma's main thoroughfare.

A young woman with fiery blonde hair rushed to greet them. "Matriarch, it's good to see you."

"Same with you, Lissa." Daria hailed her warmly. "Are the Magi meeting tonight?"

"They're in the back room as we speak." Lissa nervously straightened her violet robes noting her initiate status into the priesthood. "I set up the meeting as you requested."

"And the leader is here?" Daria pressed her line of questioning.

"He is." Lissa nodded toward the back room. "In fact, he wants to meet you."

"Name?" Daria quirked a brow in pleasure of the rapid development of the situation.

"Ian. Ian McCaine."

"So, tell me about him. Is he your typical spell-slinging hard-ass?" Daria quipped.

"I don't think he's like that at all." Lissa's brow furrowed with surprise. "He was very positive...almost quirky. He's really open and pleasant."

"Is he a Blood Mage?"

"I don't think so.." She brushed back a flaming golden tendril. "He wears a pentacle with an emerald in the middle and two crescent moons on both types. I know that Dorian told me that he's a great guy."

"Hmmm.....could be one of the ceremonial Wikkan types." Daria mused. "Is Dorian here?"

"He said that he wouldn't be in until after dark." Lissa pulled out an orb and waved her hand over the crystal sphere. She peered at it for several seconds. "But, it's close to sunset now."

"Wonderful." Daria turned to Wren. "Shall we go and meet the wizard?"

"I'm game."

***************
October 1, 2006
8:45PM
The Temple Of Skylaris
Linoma Bluffs Metroplex, Nebraska
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Daria passed a mirror near the door to the back room of the Temple. She paused and studied her complexion. Daria watched her sister-in-law stroll with a quiet poise exclusive to the Children of Oberon. She never had a wrinkle in her clothing or a hair out of place. [She's cool, calm and collected in any situation. Even when her tail pokes out and her feet rip apart $200 dollar pumps, she's a class act. How does she do it?]

The lavender Djinni stared at her reflection in the looking glass. A mop of sable ringlets framed her mauve face. She noticed a stray thread hanging from the wide sleeve of her clerical robes. With a blink, a small flame sizzled between the cuff and the stray fabric. She nodded quietly in satisfaction at her Magickal handiwork. Daria checked her make-up in the mirror and found no smears or smudges to the black, dramatic kohl lining her dark eyes. The Djinni practiced several facial expressions she planned to use when meeting the new Mage. "I hate dealing with new people. This is not part of my job description."

Wren elbowed her soundly in the ribs. "Don't worry so much. Remember who you are, Daria. You are the daughter of an antediluvian and powerful deity. You are the Matriarch of her temple and a potent Genie."

"Those are just cushy titles that look good on a résumé. But, Magick doesn't mean jack when dealing with character, integrity, or social skills." Daria rolled dark eyes into her head. "I feel like a bull in a china shop every time I have to conduct official temple or clan business. You know I hate this."

"Your mother has decided that you are the best woman for the job."

"Demetrius has better luck with this sort of thing."

"His job is to lead Skylaris' chosen clan in these difficult time. You, as her daughter, are to nourish her temple and be the mouthpiece between the Lady and her followers."

"You really should have my job." Daria cast her sister-in-law a skeptical glance.

"I'm the clan's Second-In-Command. That keeps me busy as it is."

Daria stared uneasily at the door. "Shall we?"

Wren gave her friend a sympathetic smile. "It won't be so bad. Let's go."

Daria decided to forego a grand, dramatic entrance. Instead, she simply opened the door and turned the knob. She remembered how the augers and oracles of Babylon were bent on pomp and circumstance with little concept of practical application of their arts. She half-expected to see a group of old men standing around a table waving wands and casting spells.

Four people sat around a simple wooden table. The first was a young man in his early twenties with curly blonde hair. Cheerful blue eyes greeted Daria with a silent smile. They young man's attire seemed very unlike that of a mage. He wore a white tee shirt, gray tailored slacks with a fitted blazer. [He looks normal enough to me.]

Daria noticed the young woman sitting next to the blonde. Her burnished auburn tresses were streaked with sun-kissed copper highlights. She wore her hair neatly coiffed into an elegant chignon at the nape of her neck. Her conservative clothing was classically tailored to fit her zaftig curves. Dressed in browns and golds, she reminded Daria of a spinster Librarian cloistered amongst her books for one too many decades.

Daria recognized Dorian at once with his honey-blond hair neatly cut and styled. His antique spectacles slid elegantly down his nose. She noticed that his eyes seemed to lack the luster of mortality they once possessed. Now that luster was replaced by a very purposeful gleam of changed existence. His azure silk shirt complimented the leather vest he wore. [I don't think I'm a fan of his goatee. I've heard of fashion statements, but the silk and leather motif is a bit over the top.]

The forth member of the group rose to meet her scrutiny. When he rose, Daria realized that he wasn't much taller than she. She guessed the Mage to stand around 5'8" or 5'9". What caught her eyes was the fact that one eye was vivid green while his left eye was dark brown. Medium brown hair feathered and parted. Silver tinged his temples and a stark white streak akin to a skunk strip fell across his brow. Wide shoulders flowed into a broad chest. He was somewhat stocky in build. Most of the Magi she remembered from another age were emaciated elderly men hell-bent on power and prestige. He certainly defied the age-old stereotype of the typical wizard. Daria thought it rather odd that he wore gold-rimmed wired spectacles and the lenses were fairly thick. [Since when do mages have problems with eyesight? There are spells to correct that.]

This man, and certainly his group. defied every banality that formulated Daria's concept of wizards, warlocks, and mages. She noticed that the man who rose to greet her wore a classic white turtleneck and baggy jeans. She looked down and noticed worn brown loafers that had seen better days. [What do you know? He shops at The Gap!] She smirked when she noticed the hole in the knee. "Dorian, I take it that this is the group of Magi that I asked about?"

"Indeed." Dorian gleefully rubbed his hands together. He turned to the young blond sitting to his left. "This is Reverend Damek Magus."

"Reverend?" Daria's eyes widened at the title.

"Yes." A smooth tenor greeted her along with an extended hand. "I'm the pastor of the Westminster Church."

"And you're a wizard?"

"I prefer the term 'Mage.'"

"Then you're not...like Dorian...Wikkan with two K's?"

"No, I'm just human." He chuckled. "I found that Magick could be found in faith."

"Miracles?"

"Exactly." The young man concurred. "My abilities come from faith in God."

"God isn't always what He seems."

"You have your way and I have mind." He said carefully. "But we're both gifted in the ways of Magick and we'll leave it at that."

"Agreed." She took the young man's hand in her own. His grip was firm and his skin warm. Daria used her innate ability to look into his soul and found that a golden grid of light surrounded him. [Shielding spell.]

"It's considered uncouth to use Magick on another person without permission, Daria." Dorian chided her.

"I do as I please inside my Temple." She replied coldly. "I don't know who's friend or foe anymore."

"Please, look." Damek invited her. He held his arms open wide. "Anything that can be of help I'd like to offer."

"I'll take your word for it." She sensed a genuine openness from the young man. "The last name Magus...I've heard it before."

"So have I." Wren murmured. She remembered another Magus that had turned Goliath and the last surviving members of the Wyvern clan into permanent stone effigies of themselves.

Dorian turned to the young woman who reminded Daria of a schoolmarm. "This is Sylvia Byrne. She's a computer programmer at Xanatos Publishing."

"That where Wren works." Daria's eyes narrowed. "I'm surprised that you two have never crossed paths."

"I tend to keep to myself." Sylvia sniffed. Daria immediately scanned her soul. She gasped when she the soul revealed a woman who suffered Multiple Personality Disorder and occasional manic episodes of ecstasy and depression. She raised a delicately arched brow in disdain at the obvious invasion of her psyche. "I'm integrated in personality because I've embraced my Magick rather than run from it."

"I see." Daria didn't see how someone who appeared so mentally unstable could practice the Arcane arts.

"I'm a Cybermancer."

"A what?" The Djinni stumbled over the word and rhetorically fell flat on her face.

"A Technomage." Sylvia gave Daria a look that screamed 'how-can-you-be-so-ignorant.'

"That's a new word for me." Daria's confusion prompted her next question. "What's a Technomage?"

"I do my rituals on my computer. I commune with the cyber spirits and cast my energies via the Internet."

"Riiiiiiiight." [Magick done on computer. Okay....next she's going to tell me that people cast their spells through the mail.] "Pleasure to meet you."

"Not really." Sylvia's response made Daria nearly take a step backwards. "But it fulfills a purpose and serves a need."

[Gotta love that positive attitude.] Daria quickly surmised. [Telepathic?]

"You're right, I am." Sylvia purred.

[Okay, I have a sycophant, a crackpot, and a bible-thumper thinking their actually spell-slingers. Oh, this is rich! What's their fearless leader....a politician?]

"Hi, I'm Ian McCaine." A cheerful voice broke Daria's cynical reverie. He held out a slightly callused hand.

"Hi there." She took his hand in hers. A swell of energy ran through her. She immediately recognized the current for a soul-scanning spell. She recognized the signature as healing energy. She studied him more intently. He knew his business. His power was innate -Ian McCaine was an Empath. Intrigued by his unorthodox greeting, she let the force flow into her. Daria savored and relished the conveyance with astonishment.

Ian McCaine's soul exploded in a kaleidoscope of hue as it revealed his gifts. His Magickal origins were in his ability to heal others of emotional and physical pain. He possessed the gift of True Sight that was well honed to a fine edge. Daria longed to probe deeper but was met by impenetrable gray walls of resistance. There was an ominous presence that lurked beneath the joyful persona that he so smoothly presented. She quickly broke the connection and pulled her hand away. "Pleasure to meet you."

He flashed her a broad smile. "Daria, it's good to meet you. Dorian's told me a lot about you."

"Do I get a chance to defend myself?" She jested.

"Absolutely." Came Ian's enthusiastic reply. "I'm looking forward to hearing you plead your case."

Daria looked for sarcasm in his words. She heard only humor and warmth in his voice. "Really? Do tell all."

"We want to help." Ian gave her a nod and Daria thought that the world seemed a little less desolate in that split second. "Dorian says that your friend Dominique is a great Battle Mage. That's unusual."

"There aren't many in this day and age."

"Where did she learn?"

"She learned from an Archmage." Daria didn't feel comfortable revealing everyone's private life to the stranger standing before her. It needed not be told to him at this point that her clan sister was a thousand year-old Gargoyle-Human hybrid. She knew that Demetrius would skin her alive if she violated the credence of the clan.

"What's your specialty?" Sylvia eyes narrowed as they scrutinized the lavender Djinn. "Other than you're purple."

"Well..." Daria cared less and less for the bookish snob judging her. [By the Dragon, I'd just love to let you have it between the eyes with both barrels. I don't like the way I'm being judged.] "Let's see, I've studied quite a few disciplines in the past ...say...three thousand years."

"Three thousand years?" Daria smirked when she saw Sylvia quirk an eyebrow in mild interest.

"Yeah. You can say that I've been around awhile."

"Matriarch," Damek's quiet voice rang through the tension between the two combative females. "If you don't mind me asking, how is it that you've been around so long?"

"I'm one of the Djinn."

"A Demon?" He whispered.

"Some would say so." She deep, quiet laughter filled the room. "Let's just say that I can make people's wishes come true...for a price."

"A succubus." Damek gasped and stumbled backwards.

"I don't think so!" She looked at the young Reverend as though he were half daft. She saw the fear churning within him. [I like to play it up a bit with mortals, but I think I'm overdoing it. Okay, I'll play nice.] "I'm not what most of Mortals consider a demon. I'm one of the Djinn."

"A Fire elemental." Sylvia's dry comment left Daria cold. "They're not uncommon."

"Not quite. I am the Daughter of Skylaris."

"I've heard that before from your Priestess, Lissa, when she was spouting off that rhetoric." The spinster rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Skylaris was a minor Babylonian deity that's venerated by Hippies and Feminists."

"Skylaris is VERY real." Daria's carefully measured reply did little to conceal her growing contempt for the conceited sorceress. She smiled with grim, morbid amusement as Sylvia's eyes slightly widened. Daria sauntered over to the schoolmarm and drew one purple finger under the woman's chin. "I like mortals, I really do. I think Humans are wonderful creatures. However, I don't appreciate my Mother's name being disrespected."

[I might as well pile the bullshit a little higher. Besides...it's FUN!] "Otherwise, bad things happen to poor little mortals that don't know when to keep their mouths shut and the demeanors respectful."

Ian's eyes became a bit darker as he witnessed the exchange. Daria saw the frown turn down the corners of his mouth. She liked the genuine geniality of the young Mage. Yet, Daria swore that she heard a snarl in the room at that moment. She looked around to see where it originated.

"Did anyone hear that?" She asked.

"Hear what?" Sylvia sniffed.

"That growl just now!" Daria's brown eyes narrowed in suspicion. "I swear that I just heard a snarl."

"It must have been your imagination." Sylvia twirled a tendril of auburn hair innocently around one finger.

[I don't like it when you try and use your Magick for purpose of intimidation.] Daria scowled at the young woman.

A soothing calm filled the room and she found her eyes returning of their own volition to meet Ian's. A stunning combination of emerald and amber, she found her breath catching in her throat as the rage churning within her cooled within the serenity of his gaze. [He's DEFINITELY an Empath. Damn, he's good too. I can feel it. I just want to give into the urge to chill. But, I'm stronger than that.]

The thought of his disapproval somehow dampened her mischievous streak. [I'll tone it down a bit.] "Actually, I was trained as a Cleric of Skylaris. My specialty is Draconic Magick. Most of the spells I cast are based upon the verbal components that comprise them. My experience is primarily a combination of rote and ceremonial Magick. However, I tend to prefer my spells off the cuff."

"You also have some innate ability...you're a natural talent?" Ian asked.

"Yes. As a creature of semi-supernatural origin, I have quite a few talents that have graced me since birth. Hey, I'm allowed to toot my own horn. By the Dragon, I have my own wind section in the city orchestra."

"Just don't toot that horn too loud." He chuckled at her wry humor. "We're not going to have time for a solo."

"Blah. She probably is a virtuoso on the skin flute." The auburn-haired mage let her gaze travel down Ian's sold physique. "Do you do duets or trios?"

"Okaaaaayyy, then!" Dorian interceded swiftly when Sylvia's remark was met with gleaming flames of amethyst burning like torches from Daria's clenched fists. Dorian placated the group to break the strain building between the members. "Conversational left turn, people! Wren is one of the Seelie Court."

"She's an actual Child Of Oberon?" Sylvia's cool disdain became instant fascination.

"A card-carrying member." Dorian smiled. "Granddaughter of Puck and great-granddaughter of one of the Wyrd Sisters."

"That's wonderful." The schoolmarm said in quiet awe. "Who taught you?"

"Titania." Wren answered her with a small grin.

Daria silently thanked the Powers-That-Be for the much needed diversion. "She is the Second-In-Command of our clan. She's responsible for many of the Magickal decisions made for our clan. She's the one to talk to if you truly want to know what's going on."

"Well, it's all well and good to be giving each other our résumés, but I think we need to get back to business." Daria looked to Dorian and he nodded. She continued. "The Mundanes are in a frenzy because of the Magickal upheaval Linoma has experienced this past year. Because of Vampires' demise, we've suffered a heavy supernatural attack from some very big, nasty, ugly baddies. Innocent Humans have turned into the Demifolke of old and they don't know how to handle it. We have stray Arthrochons running around loose eating Humans like their Big Macs. The Military Crackdown on our city is unacceptable. I want this changed but our clan can't do it by itself. We are coming to you for help."

"We've heard good things about Ex Cathedra." Ian sat down at the table in the back room. "We'd like to help."

"So, how did you hear about us?" Wren gave into the urge and asked.

"Jack told me." Ian said quickly.

"Jack Mera?' The name fell from Daria's lips before she could stop them.

"Yeah, Jack said he knew you could be trusted. You'd been a friend to his..er...family in hard times. He said that we could count on you and your extraordinary friends."

Daria's eyes widened to the size of large gems as she realized the truth. Ian knew that Jack was a Moon Child; a werewolf. There was no way to miss that purposeful slip of the tongue. [Just how much has Jack told Ian?]

"We need to form an alliance between our Clan and your group." Daria suppressed the urge to sit beside the inviting Empath that had turned her head. She forced herself to study each member of the group. "With a consolidation of our mutual powers and resources, I believe that we can soothe the military presence in Linoma without drawing attention or upsetting the stability of Mortal culture."

"Then let's see what we have to bring to the table." Ian motioned for the others to sit with them. "This might be a long night."



TO BE CONTINUED......