I awake slowly and uncertainly. My eyes won't focus perfectly and my body feels like a dead weight. I lie still as adrenaline courses through my body; and, little by little, I begin to get the sensation back in my arms and legs ' my eyes also begin to focus - eventually.
When I finally have the ability to see again, I'm still confused. I look around the unfamiliar lavish bedroom and frown.
I'm lying on a bed covered in deep chocolate brown covers. In comparison to the quilt, the bed is plain; average, even - but the room in which this bed sits is not even close to ordinary.
Two of the four walls are painted in the exact same shade as the sheets; the other two are a rich burnt gold. A heavy plush cream carpet breaks everything up, setting the walls into deeper shades than maybe they would have without the highlight of cream. There isn't anything on the walls but, oddly, it didn't look the least bit bare, as if the colour of the walls themselves were acting as the decoration. Very masculine, heavy furniture is dotted around the room, chest of draws, wardrobe and writing desk. Other than that, it's all very minimalist.
I try to sit up on the bed; but my head spins so violently I have to lie back down again. Damn drugs. They never like leaving your system - especially not when you need them to.
This is the moment someone chooses to enter the room from the only door.
Someone clears their throat.
'I am sorry for the distress this must have caused you but we had little choice.'
As soon as the first word escapes her lips I know who it is. I sit bolt upright in bed, the remnants of the drugs whooshing away on a fresh wave of adrenaline.
'Freya? How could you do this?' I whisper.
She looks down at the floor and studies her hands for a few moments. When she looks back up to me again there is such raw pain in her eyes, it sends fear lashing through me and my body becomes rigid from the anticipation of her next words.
'As I said - we had little choice. We could not let you go to the Justice; you are too precious to us all. You have to let Alistair go Dione.' Each word is a heart aching whisper.
'This is madness, all of it! I can't just let him go Freya, you know that. How can I just let them take him ' take his freedom ' and do nothing?'
'My child; this isn't a decision for you to make. They, the Justice, have already done so.'
I put my hands over my face and scream into my hands.
No one is listening to me. How can they just stand by and let this happen' do they not see how terribly wrong this all is?
'Freya, please. Help me. Please.'
I drop my hands away from my face and slump sideways onto the bed, feeling utterly drained and helpless. He is gone; he has left me and has gone to the Justice early - because of my reaction. Yes, he is doing this to save me, but right at this moment, it doesn't feel like an heroic act. It damn well feels like the coward's way out; so he doesn't have to deal with my objections.
'No, my dear. There isn't any help; here, or anywhere else.'
She turns swiftly on her heals, glances over towards me one more time, and leaves the room - leaving me with my devastation. Leaving me alone, to fester.
Before I can really begin to even make sense of how I'm feeling or what I am going to do, someone else walks through the bedroom door.
'What the hell! You're in on this as well? How do any of you think that kidnapping me is remotely okay?'
Levin walks to the end of the bed - sitting down onto it.
'I am sorry for the way in which we took you; but you understand that we had to stop you, don't you?'
His golden brown eyes search mine for a reasonable answer. I look into his face and see Ali quite clearly. And hate him just a little for that. If they are right; and I don't have a chance at doing anything about all of this, then I don't need Levin around to constantly remind me of him - they are just so much alike; too alike for cousins.
I pull myself out of my wallowing position, and face him head on.
'I understand why you took me. What I don't understand is why both of you are just accepting this?'
'We have no choice. It is the greatest honour to be asked to serve with the Sovereign directly. One has not been appointed for millennia. It would be wrong to see it any other way, than the great gift that it is.'
I stare, opened-mouthed, and blink numbly at him.
'What is wrong with everyone? Have they brainwashed them all!'
'Levin listen to what you're saying,' I grab his shoulders and shake slightly, 'Do you really agree with this? Do you not even care that his freedom has been taken from him - and that you will never see your cousin again?'
He looks down at my hands on his shoulders and I drop them instantly.
'Or, Dione, ask yourself this' are you the one who is unwilling to understand - because you are so blinded by your own need to preserve your relationship, so locked into your own selfishness that you will not let Ali be what he has always meant to be. Would you jeopardise all of this for your own silly insecurities?'
His words hurt more than I could have anticipated. I look into his oh-so-reasonable eyes. And hate him. I hate him for being an Amarian, for stopping me, and for not caring enough about his cousin to help him. Us.
He can't carry my gaze; he looks down at the envelope in his hands.
'This is for you.'
He thrusts the paper at me and gets up from the bed without meeting my eyes again.
'My house is not as big as Ali's, but you are more than welcome to stay for as long as you like; and my bed for sleeping - for as long as you need it.' And with that he leaves.
I look down at the envelope and recognise the delicate beautiful handwriting instantly. With shaking hands, I rip open the envelope addressed only with 'Dione' and frantically read.
Dione, my light, my love.
Do not think I have made this decision lightly, and do not think I have left to hurt you, because I have done this for reasons only to keep you safe.
I will be with the Sovereign by the time you read this, so please, I beg of you, do not try to find me - they will kill you if you try. I know as well as you, why they are doing this, but I hold little hope or reasons to really believe I ever had a choice, because I do not.
I love you for caring so much that you would risk everything for me; but you know it is not within my nature to let you do so. Please forget me, and forgive me. Because; I never will.
My light, my Dione, live without me because you must.
I fight the urge to rip the note into a million pieces as I look around my unfamiliar prison and scowl.
'Something so Greek tragedy stings me about all this. Does he not realise that things just aren't this blank and white? That there is colour between the lines? And the very reason that it is there, is so it can be used to bend and break rules, to make things easier - and to give you what you really need. Because, if I were to think in black and white right now, that would mean facing the very real fact that I won't ever see Ali again - and that I have lost him for reasons I didn't see coming in a million years. If I were to accept all of this because it's what I must do, then the whole fibre of my being would shatter and float away into the magic of this place. And I would be lost forever.'
I pull myself up from the bed, and exit the room into a long corridor. I listen for a moment for any sounds of movement to help guide me in the right direction of Levin or Freya. I hear quiet voices to my left, so I carry on down the bright corridor until I come to a big, pastel blue, porch way. Directly to the right of that porch way is the kitchen, which is open plan - cream and gold, and very beautiful.
Levin and Freya are sat at the kitchen table, both huddled over steaming mugs. Levin is facing me, and looks up, gesturing to the seat beside him. I sit down, and Freya gets up from the table, taking her drink with her.
'Would you like some coffee Dione? I have just brewed it.'
'Yes please.' I whisper in response.
I sit staring at Levin. He doesn't look at me; but I can tell he knows that I am glaring at him as he begins to fidget restlessly with the cuffs of his shirt.
Freya places a fresh cup of coffee in front of me; the delicious aroma wafts upwards - making my mouth water and stealing my attention away. I take a long gulp; burning my tongue in the process. But I don't care, and continue to drink until I have drained the cup.
I bang the empty cup down onto the table making them both jump.
'Right. I have had enough of being kidnapped, told what to do, and people causing me to hurt from the core out. So, will you two quit being so damn unhelpful and please help me concoct a plan to get Ali back!'
Their heads snap up in unison from my tone. Freya tuts; lightly shaking her head, and Levin's lovely, golden eyes widen and shine. But no one speaks.
'Oh, come on; please. I am begging you here. A plan doesn't have to mean going to the Justice with all guns blazing, but surely we can do something - something other than sitting here and feeling awful?'
I look at both of them for some sort of recognition that they agree. But they continue to sit; looking at their cups in silence.
'Please Levin, Freya. Help me?'
'There is nothing we can do, Dione.' Levin whispers.
'I can't believe that; don't you see? I can't believe that he's gone forever. So, at least humour me, and tell me what we could do, hypothetically speaking.'
'Do you really think we are as silly as to assume you won't use that hypothetical knowledge to go to Alistair? Bah, you do not know us well.'
I rest my head down on the table and, quite honestly, sulk. They are not going to help; they see no way out of this, and they kidnapped me to try to get me to see the same.
Well, I'm not giving up that easily, and if they honestly think I will, then they themselves don't know me well enough.
I'm going to have to do this alone.
Admittedly that will be a lot harder; but I don't care. I have to do something. because to give up means going back to my Realm, and living my average, boring life without him'and that, I will not do. It would kill me inside; so what is the point in giving up - because I would be dead anyway.
Freya speaks; and for once, she doesn't sound the least bit patronizing.
'Dione, when you feel alright, could you and I have a few moments to ourselves? I feel there is a mountain of things to discuss, and in doing so, you may begin to realise why you are so valuable to us.'
'When I feel alright! Somehow I think that's going to take a few centuries' I think to myself - but I nod against the table anyway because, let's face it, my own curiosity is a huge solid thing with completely its own mind. I straighten myself up and sigh heavily.
'Levin, do you mind if Freya and I use your living room for a while?'
He glances towards the other witch, and gives her a look of warning but, eventually, he nods.
'Come Dione. I'll show you the way.'
Freya gets up from her seat, and I follow closely behind.
Levin's living room is like a lot of others I have seen; cosy, modern and bright. But, for one reason or another, it surprises me. I guess I assumed that, because Ali and Levin are so very similar, those attributes would reflect back into almost everything. But that's not true in Levin's case.
He is a talented writer, so he shares Ali's love of literature, but everything else is diverse. Levin wears a lot of bright clothes; browns, creams, blues - that kind of thing. His house is minimalist; like Ali's bedroom and study is but more so, nearly straying to the edge of obsession. This man has a thing for order and control. I can see the evidence to back that up throughout his tidy, perfect house. But not just that; everything about him is meticulous. His well trimmed nails, perfect hair, ironed clothes, polished shoes - everything perfectly in order. Not that I'm saying Ali is a mess, because he's far from it, but he also has a relaxed side that Levin doesn't seem to have.
Freya interrupts my scrutinizing of Levin's complex attributes, 'Would you like to sit, Dione?'
She gestures to the seat opposite her and I nod, taking it.
'Alright. Dione, I want to make a couple of things clearer for you, and inform you of a few truths that you may not be aware of.'
I sit, facing her, feeling completely on the spot, like some college student waiting for her review of the last year of study from the Dean of the college.
'Okay, go ahead.'
'Well, it may not be as simple as just 'going ahead' with the information I have dear.'
I sigh and hang my head. I really don't have the patience for this today. Why is it that people always choose to overload me with hard truths when I am in the most stressful of situations? I don't cope well as it is when I feel like I'm having the worst luck of my life; let alone when people decide to give me revelations.
'Freya, look. Things are going to be hard enough as they are, without some mystery info you have for me. Can it not wait until later?'
Her blue eyes harden, and she pouts slightly before she answers me,
'Dione, you are not going to get out of this so easily. It is important that I talk to you. I was just trying to find the right words.' She plays with a strand of her grey hair aimlessly as she continues, 'The Demon Jakisher spoke the truth. You are from the Marcusees line of witches.'
She pauses briefly, searching my eyes, willing me to understand; but all I can do is frown in response.
'Your Grandmother told many stories of your ancestors; but there is only one of which, I think you need to know of.'
Again she does the 'dramatic pause' thing, and I nearly huff at her.
'Oh, come on Freya; just spit it out. Please.'
'I am getting there, Dione. The Marcusees witches of Arroba were originally of the Justice. They were then, what the Wire Brothers are to them today, but much more powerful and successful. In Eighteen Ninety-One, there was a great war between our witches, and the demons that inhabited half of Arroba herself. The Marcusees witches fought with the best of us and won; but it took them over fifty years to be victorious. Many of your family were lost, and your great grandmother was the last, until now. Your mother, unfortunately, never inherited the power that now courses through your soul, and I doubt that, if you were to have a daughter, yours would either. Always missing a generation; which consequently, left big gaps in our reinforcements. Eventually, the Justice was forced to recoup their losses in the form of a new collaboration of supernaturals; that now serves them. This brings me to my next trail of thought ' that the Justice had forgotten all about the Marcusees witches until now. You have reminded them of a great many things they would rather leave in the past, Dione. Because, just like Alistair is the last of his kind, so you are also. Now, I know this is all very confusing and unbelievable, but trust me when I say it is absolutely the truth.'
She finally finishes and I'm sat ' gaping - my mind whirling around, trying to absorb everything.
'Now when this war was going on, the witches had secret allies - a group of supernaturals in their midst, helping them win - they were the Numinous. Both came together in an attempt to be more together than they were apart, and it worked. But, something unexpected happened during one of those dark sombre nights, in the middle of all of their dead. Their powers fused, making something so unimaginably immense that, inevitably, the demons did not stand any kind of chance,
"The blades that you process are the last remaining Shankri of their era, but they were not always what they are today. They used to be just plain, well crafted, silver. But, as the Numinous and the Marcusees combined their powers, it transformed them into more of a weapon than they could have ever have hoped for; as you have already witnessed. As soon as Alistair told me of how the blades reacted in your hands, I knew what you were. And ever since; I must admit, I have been very excited - and a little frightened - all at the same time.'
Words fall from my lips; but I'm not sure how, because my mind is stunned, and blank, 'Why frightened?'
'Well, because my dear, you are precious - and the Justice have done a very good job at sheltering you from everything that would have assisted you in growing. They have hindered you, and it's for a good reason - of that I am sure. But I still do not know why.'
'That doesn't answer my question.'
'Well, no. I guess not. I am frightened, because I fear they will try to silence you; if the reason they kept you from, is one to kill over. Do you understand?
'You've got to be kidding me! On another hit list' great; just freaking great!!'
I try to calm my thoughts but, as I do so, so many questions begin to seep through. I rush to try to say them all, before my stunned brain stops working again.
'What does all of this mean for me? Why are you telling me now? How has this got anything to do with Ali? Why would the Justice do this to me? Am I so fearful?'
'Shh, Dione. Breathe, my dear. I will explain everything; I promise. Just try to relax.'
So I do. I take several deep breaths and lean back into the chair trying to compose myself enough so she can continue.
'What this means for you, is that you are much more powerful than you had realised. You have a wealth of abilities in there, waiting to be awakened, and I can help you do that. You are far from an average witch, Dione; and, as I help you open up, you will begin to realise and believe this for yourself. I have always had the intention of telling you - but I needed the right circumstances to do so, so that I could justify it, in the event that the Justice got word of my teachings to you. And then, to the most important question you have asked - this has as much to do with Alistair as it does you. You see, once the Justice had figured out who and what you are, and realised the implications of you being tied, or even in each other's lives, they panicked. Think of it from their point of view Dione; the remaining Marcusees witch and the remaining Numinous together, metaphysically tied ' a partnership as close as anyone could be. They tolerated it for a little while, as you know, but then you shared yourselves with each other completely. Recently; I will bet - because Ali had an evolutionary movement, causing him to be able to walk in Earth's daylight. Once this information got back to the Justice, they once again panicked, fearing that you both were going to become too powerful to control. They have seen the fall of the almighty Sovereign in the eyes of both of you,'
'Now before you interrupt, I know that neither of you have the least bit interest in conquering the Sovereign, and you do not yet have the ability or skill to do so - but they don't see it that way. So in looking through their eyes upon this matter, naturally what is left for them to do, but prevent it? They can't kill either of you - could not bring themselves to cause the extinction of your family lines - so they have done the next best thing - separated you.'
Anger lashes through me so violently, I grip the sides of the sofa until my joints threaten to snap from the strain. I sit, trying to gasp breath, as I stare into the other women's eyes; hatred clouding my vision entirely. I feel as if I could jump up that very minute, and run to the Justice; killing them all, causing havoc and destruction wherever my feet take me. I feel like a seething hot, ticking time bomb - waiting for that last little push of a button. And it will be soon; I know that much.
Every word comes out stained and poisonous, 'They are right, Freya. They will fall for this.'
'Now Dione, do not say such things in the heat of the moment. It will not help you digest any of this.'
I stare into her eyes, and feel mine grow dead with every second that passes until, finally, Freya leans away from me, into her chair.
I have never felt anything quite like this as pain, fury, sadness, and shame pierces through me. I think for a minute, that I'm going to instantaneously combust, as all of those feelings turn into a burning float of lava, that passes through my very being; scorching it all.
'Now, Dione, calm yourself - otherwise I am going to begin to regret telling you anything.'
'Oh, yes, of course. Because you are an Amarian - just like the rest of them.'
I hear the blind rage in my voice, and I hate it. But either way, I cannot stop it, or take it back, and, quite rightfully, Freya reacts to my tone. She looks up at me, stunned; but there is an edge to her surprise that I had not expected - hurt. I have offended her, me?
She very hesitantly, looks away from me and towards the door, as Levin enters the room. He eventually looks at me and winces, dropping his eyes again.
I launch myself off of the sofa and fly at him, gripping him by the shoulders. The force of my approach pushes him back on his heels enough for us to wobble and fall to the ground, me riding him. His back makes a meaty, smacking sound against the carpet and his head hits it even harder, but still, I don't care enough to stop the words that come out of my mouth.
I shake him as I say every word, 'Did you know? Are you a conniving, back stabbing Amarian like the rest of them? Is that why you are so easily overcome? Tell me, sorcerer!'
He grips me around my waist and lifts, but I latch onto him with my thighs, planting myself firmly on top of him.
'Dione, listen will you? This is not you. Listen, Dione' DIONE!' He shouts.
I look at him for a second more - and then I look at my hands around his throat. I suddenly lose all will to keep myself up right, and fall forward onto him, releasing my hands.
'I'm sorry Levin.'
'Shh, it's alright. Everything's going to be alright.' He hushes into my hair.
He slowly wraps his arms around me; pressing me tighter into him, until my face is buried in the rich warmth of his neck. My tears soak his skin.
Once my sobbing quietens, he slowly begins to sit up, still holding me tight, until I am sat, clutching onto him like a lost child. His body even feels like Ali's. If it wasn't for the difference in scent, I would think it is him. The thought brings my tears welling back with renewed force.
I lean back from his neck and look into his eyes. His breath is hot on my face; as it rushes out a little quicker than the situation calls for. He looks into my eyes with such need, it sends shocks down my spine and to lower things. I don't think; my mind is blank and painful, and I lean forward and press my lips to his. He doesn't hesitate for even a moment; his mouth parts, and his tongue slips through my lips, bringing a moan vibrating up from my throat.
Freya clears her throat behind us; which rings of disapproval, and quite effectively brings us back to ourselves.
I quickly look back at Levin and then to Freya, and realise what I have just done. I jump out of his lap and walk to the far end of the room, holding myself. I wipe my hand across my own lips; trying to rid the lasting tingle from Levin's lips and, in that moment, I wished I could erase everything quite so easily.
'I'm sorry Levin, I don't know what came over me.' I whisper, not meeting anyone's eyes.
Levin clears his throat, pulls himself to his feet, brushing himself off, and says, 'Accept my apologies too, Dione; nor do I know what came over me.'
He flashes me an apologetic smile, runs his long fingers through his rich, brown hair and leaves the room, swiftly.
'Well then my dear, if you are finished with your emotional whirlwind, shall we carry on?'
'Why did that come out much bitterly than it should have?'
She ignores me and sits back down, crossing her legs in front of herself, and starts talking.
'We have a long, uncertain time ahead of us, so all I ask is that you try to compose yourself. Now I know that must sound very unsympathetic, but it will be for your own good.'
She could say 'unsympathetic' that's for sure. I have a momentary lapse of emotional control and now suddenly I'm an emotional whirlwind, typical Amarian.
I smoother my cold thoughts and sit down into the chair opposite her once again.
'So, where were we? Ah, yes, our next course of action. Do you have the Malachite with you?'
'Yes, it's in my holdall.'
'Good. Well, we will use that to help you awaken your powers. Years ago, the Marcusees witches had small slabs of Malachite pressed into their body armour, to help channel their powers. It will act the same way for you''
I interrupt her. 'When we banished the parasite from Ali last month, do you remember asking me to take it off?'
'Yes, my dear. Why?'
'Well, when I did, it pulsed in my hand twice. Why is that?'
She stares at me, desperately trying to keep whatever she had just thought of, off of her face and fails miserably; excitement, recognition and fear are all there colouring her eyes in sparkles.
'What is it?' I demand.
'You know that the Malachite you possess belonged to Alistair's mother?'
'Yes. Yes, he told me the day he gave it to me.'
'Well good, at least he told you that much.'
'Freya, tell me.'
'The Malachite you possess belonged to Challis Mussette before her.'
I look at her; still completely confused. Is it me, or is she utterly forgetting that I have never attended the Academy of Arroba? And, if this name should be of some importance to me, then how could I possibly know?
'Are you forgetting that I haven't ever attended the Academy, Freya? I don't know your history.'
'That is exactly it Dione; it is not just our history. It is very rightfully yours, and it enrages me to think that everyone has worked together to keep it from you. After all, this is your heritage, your circle of knowing. So, yes. I guess I do keep forgetting that you know none of this; because so plainly you should!'
'Oh. So, let's keep our outrage for another day. Tell me who Challis Mussette is?'
There is one advantage to keeping Amarian company; none of them understand sarcasm.
'Very level headed of you, Dione. And there I was; thinking you were on the edge of losing all reason and understanding. Well then, Challis was the first of the Marcusees witches.'
I interrupt her. 'Wait; if she was the first, then why wasn't she named Challis Marcusees?'
She rolls her eyes at me and sighs. 'My dear, have you not put two and two together, and gotten four yet? Not all of the Marcusees witches are related; they couldn't be - it would seem too much like inbreeding, for the Justice to allow that. So, they allowed the witches to choose suitable males for themselves, many years ago, so even though they were part of the Marcusees line, their names differ, as does yours.'
'Oh, alright. Sorry for interrupting.'
'No; that is fine. I will give you a chance to ask any questions, once I'm finished.'
Okay, now I really feel like I'm in a lecture.
'Challis Mussette was the first recorded witch that had powers with a certain feel and bite to them; eventually to be realised just how powerful she would become. Anyway, she had the stone; which you now posses. She was very good friends with Ivy - Alistair's mother. We are going back hundreds of years now. When Challis went missing, one of the things left behind was that stone in a pouch, left for Ivy. Let me put it plainly for you, Dione - there are many legends of this stone; of what Challis had achieved, with it in her hands. Of how much focus and strength it had brought her, and of how it complimented her powers perfectly. It pulsed in her hand, as it has in yours - but never anyone else's. Do you see Dione? Your power is so much like hers, and more powerful than any other I have come across of the Marcusees. You're just lacking the knowledge that's all,'
'The day we banished the parasite from Alistair, and I called to you for more power; I was astounded to say the least, of how much you had to give. Do you remember how your energy looked against mine and Levin's? So red and pulsating, full of bite and energy, and so unlike any other.'
Her eyes sparkle with excitement - but mine don't join her. I know she is telling the truth, but this is all so very out of this world. But, not just that; it doesn't feel true inside of me. My power just feels normal to me. The only other energies I have touched, have been Freya's, Levin's and Ali's, At the time, I didn't have the time to study the difference. Is she right? I know she thinks she is, but what if she is making me into something I'm not? What if she has all of these high expectations, and I fail miserably? That would be awful and shameful; not to mention the responsibility that comes with such a thing.
'Dione, I see the reservation in your eyes. I am telling you the honest truth. I would swear it to the great mother herself!'
'I know you believe what you are saying Freya, but what if you're wrong, and you don't even know it?'
'Don't be silly; I am more than well informed of our history. I have looked up your family tree, and there is no mistaking who you are - and not even to mention what I have witnessed of you myself. So therefore there isn't any doubt in me that you are what you are' a Marcusees. The last.'
'Has a Marcusees witch and a Numinous been together before? You know, really together?' I whisper.
'Yes, my dear.'
I can't meet her eyes as I wait for the answer; it is an important one after all, and one I'm terrified to hear the answer to.
'During the great war of 1891, quite a few of the witches took to the Numinous which is not a silly thing; after all, they were all men, and extremely attractive and powerful. What was there not to be drawn to? I even remember hearing the young witches saying that the Numinous pulled to them physically.'
She looks up at me and raises an eyebrow, and I instantly know what that look is for. But, I ignore it and keep my mouth firmly shut.
'After the war, there were only three Numinous still alive, and one witch; your grandmother. Your grandmother married a Numinous called Jeffery, and lived happily ever after - but without children. This is all very complicated, so listen well, Dione.'
I nod; feeling more confused than when I started.
'Your grandmother did not have any children with Jeffery. For whatever reason, she could not conceive. Your mother is not her child; and the Malachite stone was not the only thing to be left to someone else, when Challis disappeared. Your mother is the daughter of Challis; you are the granddaughter of Challis.'
'What? No! Freya - stop being absurd!'
'I am telling you the truth. Your mother is the daughter of Challis ' and, I can prove it.'
'Okay. So, if this is true, then why is my mother just an average witch then?'
'Remember; when I said the magic always misses a generation. You inherited her powers; not your mother.'
I bark with humourless laughter. Me.., I have inherited the powers of the most powerful witch to ever be known. Yeah. Okay.
'Have you not realised, why only you and your mother look alike? Why your grandmother has blue eyes, as does nearly everyone else in your family? Haven't you ever wondered, where your dark hair and unusual emerald green eyes come from, when everyone else is blond? Haven't you ever wondered, why you and your mother stand out in the crowd of your own family, utterly not belonging or blending in?'
I get up, and begin to pace around the room. She is right.
I have always wondered why my mother and I look so similar; yet everyone else so different, but I had always put it down to some freak gene on my grandmothers side. Maybe I had inherited these characteristics from her mother or something. But now, Freya sits in front of me; telling stories of long lost powerful witches, a great war that had been won - but lost to memory, and time and a grandmother that has never been mine. How can I believe it all; when it is all so implausible?
'Why haven't I been told this before?' I whisper; more to myself, than Freya, but she answers me away.
'I'm not sure of the motivation of the Sovereign, but it is almost certainly their doing. I can only guess, that it was all for the same reasons as to why you were sheltered from their teachings; to stop you from becoming exactly like your real grandmother, Challis.'
'Why? What was so fearful about this witch, to force me into a life without all of the basic skills I needed to function properly in my supernatural life? Why?'
'I'm sorry, Dione but I do not know.'
I look at the other woman's sincere face, and believe her. She is telling me this for my own good; to help me understand why I'm so secretly valuable to everyone, and why I can't, in her eyes, possibly go off on a suicide mission to get Alistair back. But what she hadn't banked on, is that this information - as overwhelming and interesting as it is - is not going to stop me from trying. I had always felt like an outcast, like there is a big something missing in my life, and Ali had filled that. So, regardless of this new title Freya was trying to get me to accept, it isn't enough to help me live without him; it just isn't.
I turn on my heels and walk out of the door.
I head down the bright corridor, until I round into the kitchen. It is empty. I sit down onto one of the chairs, and try to calm my shaking hands.
What am I going to do now? They won't let me leave - and they are quite adamant about not helping, which is fine. I will do this on my own. But, I still needed to get out of this damn house, if I'm to do anything at all.
I look around the light, delicate kitchen and sigh. This is going to be hard.
Levin clears his throat behind me and I turn around and look at him.
'May I sit with you?'
'Yes, of course.'
'So, how did it go with Freya?'
'Do you know as well?'
He drops his eyes and rubs the back of his neck in long strokes. Images of Ali flood back; and I have to grip the table until I can breathe again.
'Yes, Freya felt she needed to inform me, so I could help with anything you needed. I know I am not a witch - but I am a sorcerer, and I can help in your spell casting. Both I and Freya will help.'
'Is this some big evasion technique to keep me here, fully occupied?'
He chuckles lightly before answering, 'You are the most intuitive woman I have ever met. Not that we are trying to pull the wool over your eyes, but that is somewhat the truth, yes. But most people would have missed that. You see everything don't you?'
Levin's bright face becomes sombre as he realises my depression.
'I could not feel blinder right now, even if I tried, Levin.'
He nods thoughtfully, and then turns his face back up towards me, smiling.
'You're the long lost relative of Challis. Hey, that's got to feel pretty cool? I would kill to descend from Jeffery like Alistair. Can you imagine how alike we''
'What?' I shout, flinging myself up from my chair.
'What? What have I said?'
'Jeffery was my grandmothers husband Levin! Are you saying Alistair is related to him, directly?
He thinks for a moment, and then I see the moment it registers; his eyes turn from interested but slightly guarded to utterly shocked within a blink of an eye.
'Um, let me get this right,' He gets up from the table, and paces around the small space between the rich green cabinets and the table, 'Jeffery was married to Margaret - your grandmother. Jeffery is Alistair's grandfather; but your real grandmother is Challis. So, there is no blood connection between you and Alistair' is there?'
'No, there is not,' Freya speaks from behind us; making me jump, 'Dione's real grandmother is Challis - not Margaret. If Margaret had been her mother's biological mother, then yes, Alistair and Dione would have been cousins; once removed.'
Both Levin and I relax so much, and so suddenly, we should have both fallen to the floor.
'That was cutting it a little close though.'
'Yes, I agree Dione; but you don't have to worry.'
'Hang on a minute. Levin, you said you wish you had descended from Jeffery's line instead of your own. How didn't you? I mean; who's your grandfather?'
He looks in the direction of the other woman and smiles slightly. When he returns his eyes to mine, there is no happiness there.
'This one doesn't miss a trick, does she Freya,' He shakes his head, and begins to fiddle with a piece of paper on the table, folding it over and over, 'That is a very complicated story; and not one I wish to go into right now.'
'Alright. But, at least tell me why you and Ali look so similar?'
He frowns at me and opens and closes his mouth several times before he speaks.
'I.., Well.., That also is complicated. Can we concentrate on you, rather than trying to pick at my life please.
Levin's eyes flash up to Freya's for a second and then down to his hands again.
I can't help but look at Levin with renewed curiosity. What is he hiding?
'Sorry Dione. We shouldn't be dragging up everyone's history like this. Would you like something to eat? It is well past lunch time.'
I was just about to say "no, thanks" but my stomach growls perfectly in time. He smiles at me and gets up from the table and begins to pull things out of the fridge.
'Beef stroganoff for you both?'
'Yes, that's fine Levin. Thanks.' Freya whispers.
We eat lunch in silence. Not so much as a chomp or a gurgle could be heard from any of us. Freya chewed her food delicately and quietly. Levin ate quickly; without looking at either of us. And me, well I picked at mine. The food was lovely - but despite my stomach doing somersaults as soon as I had smelt the delicious beef, I didn't feel hungry. Nerves will do that to you, I guess. I forced another couple of mouthfuls down, to make sure I had at least something in my stomach, and I then pushed my plate away, thanking Levin on my way out of the room.
I take Levin up on his earlier invitation; for me to use his room whenever I wanted, and relax on his bed for good thinking. I needed to try to process all the information Freya had given me, before I can make a decision on what to do.
They were both going to help me with my spell-casting; which is brilliant. At least if I did decide to go to the Justice, I will be as prepared as I can be. I have finally found out where I come from, and finally, where I'm supposed to fit in. But all that said, it still doesn't make me feel any more comfortable in my own skin. If only Challis was here to help me instead. I would get a lot more answers from her; but that is never going to happen. She has been missing for over two hundred years, so I squash that out of my mind.
I finally decide, that the only thing I can do right now, is accept their help, and get myself up to par; supernaturally speaking. Then, I will be equipped to go to the Justice; whether it would mean my death or not.
So that is my decision made, and quickly. But, let's face it, if I hadn't been stopped, I would have gone to the Academy by now, and demanded to know where the Justice rests. And, if they had refused to tell me - which is a high possibility - I probably would have done something very silly; like take them hostage. But, in the unlikely event that I did find the information I needed, I would then have gone to the resting place of the Justice by now; because I had made my mind up the moment I had read that little red book.