(A/N: listen to Dust and Echos from Halo while reading)

Prologue

Sophie knew she wasn’t going to make it this time.  It was her end, her destiny.  She could feel the blood trickle down from her lips.  “Keefe… Don’t cry.  I’... I’ll always be with you, here.” Sophie whispered faintly, indicating to his heart.  “Everyone I…  Just wanted… To Say… I-”She fell silent, her last bits of strength leaving her.

Chapter 1: Ready As I’ll Ever Be

"Any moment now, ‘Your Highness’" Sophie sneered with malice, circling a shackled  Fitz.  "Believe me I know, I've sunk pretty low, but whatever I've done, you deserved," Sophie said, crouching next to him smiling cruelly.  "Sophie, please don’t do this!" Fitz started, trying to free himself.  "Quiet!" Sophie roared, silencing Fitz.  "I'm the bad guy, that's fine. It's no fault of mine and some justice, at last, will be served." Sophie snarled, a delicate finger tracing her scar.

"Please listen!" Fitz begged, his voice pleading.  "Now it's time to step up or it's time to back down. And there's only one answer for me, and I'll stand up and fight 'cause I know that I'm right. And I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready. Ready, as I’ll ever be!" Sophie shouted over the ocean, her cape flapping.  "Now it's time to rise up or it's time to stand down. And the answer is easy to see. And I swear by the elves if you're in, get on board. Are you ready?" Biana asked.

"I'm ready," Tam shouted up to her.  "We're ready!" Keefe and Dex shouted, pumping up their fists.  "We're ready!" Everyone else shouted. "Ready as I'll ever be," Biana said, praying to the stars.  "Are you quite sure we can do this?" Edaline asked fearfully.

"Together we will guarantee..."Grady said, helping Edaline up and out of Sophie’s room.  "I'll make them hear me" Sophie shouted, turning back to her prisoner.   "Now it's time to redeem or it's time to resolve." Everyone shouted at Havenfield.   "Prove they can trust me," Biana said to herself, grabbing Tam.   "and the outcome will hardly come free" Everyone continued.

"We'll save our home and family" Grady finished, leading Edaline to the others.   "Now the line's in the sand and our moment's at hand" Everyone shouts preparing for the upcoming fight.  "And I'm ready" Tam shouts, leaping to Sophie and the greatest night of his life.  "I'm ready," Biana said, seeing Sophie.  "We're ready," Grady and Edaline said, seeing their daughter.

"Ready, as I’ll ever be." Sophie said vilely, seeing the bloodshed and fun ahead.  “Get up. Now!” She barked to the chained Fitz.  “Sophie!  This has gone on long enough.” Biana shouted over the crashing ocean waves, “We have to end this!”  “If you want Fitz back alive.  I suggest you leave.  Now.” Sophie replied, moving her cloak aside to reveal a bloodied sword.  “Do what she says, Biana!  My life isn’t worth this bloodshed.” Fitz shouted, glaring at Sophie.

Chapter 2: The Mark Of Evil

Grady took a step forward, “Sophie, what’s gotten into you?!  First kidnapping Fitz, now this?!”  “What’s gotten into me? It’s better if I show you.” Sophie cackled, smiling cruelly under her hood that cast deep shadows over her face.  She reached into her cloak, grabbing the sword, pointing it out.  “Sophie don’t!” Biana shouted, thinking she was going to harm Fitz.  Instead, Sophie put the sword tip to the peak of her hood, pushing it back, revealing her scar.

“The mark of evil…” Edaline breathed, looking at Grady.  “Yes.  But here’s my story.” Sophie started, smiling grimly.  “When I was Team Valiant's fiercest, I took most patrols on my own.  So when I met this strange elf, I had no fear of being alone.  He said he had wisdom and power and the most powerful should rule.  With help from me and my powers, he and I could rule everything.  I found his idea intriguing though the most powerful elf was me.  But the strange elf was scheming and had a friend I didn't see…” Sophie said, barely being heard over the now roaring waves.

“That's how I got my scar, the elf would cure the snake's venom, as long as I did what he said.  But I lost control and enraged, I teleported and destroyed them instead.  I expected to be praised near and far.  For stopping that treacherous thing, but The Council just nicknamed me Scar.” Sophie finished, glaring at the council.

“Sophie- This is madness, please.  Come home.  The Elvin world isn’t the same without you.  We were fools for judging you.” Councilor Bronte said, offering Sophie his hand.

Grady snorted, “You got that right.” Edaline elbowed him.  “I can’t come back,” Sophie said, turning her back to Bronte.  “What do you mean, Miss Foster?” Sandor asked, hand on his sword.  Sophie didn’t answer, she kneeled down next to Fitz.  She grabbed something from one of her pockets, a key.  

Sophie set to work unlocking the shackles, “Go.”  “I can’t go back because of this.” She said, gesturing to her scar.  “That shouldn’t make a difference,” Alden said, coming next to Bronte.  “You all don’t understand.  My scar is the mark of Evil as Edaline said.  According to legend, if the venom stays in for too long…” Sophie started.  “If the venom stays in for too long what?” Della ventured cautiously, putting a hand on Alden’s shoulder.

“If the venom says in for too long...I’ll no longer know the difference between right or wrong,” Sophie said, looking over the ocean.  “No. We won’t let that happen.” Fitz said, putting a hand on Sophie’s shoulder.  Sophie winced, rubbing her scar. “It still hurts..” Sophie muttered.  “Let’s get you to Elwin shall we?” Keefe smirked, she rolled her eyes.

Everyone took hands and leaped to the healing center.  “So here’s the hidden Moonlark!” Elwin said playfully, Sophie rolled her eyes but sat down on a cot.  “Elwin. We need your help.” Grady said.  “With what?  Our friend over there who always seems to, how should I put it, ‘Fosters it’?” Elwin said, hooking a thumb over to Sophie.

"Um.  Yes.  It's her eye." Edaline said.

Elwin walked over to Sophie.  "Let’s see that eye shall we?" He said putting on his iridescent spectacles.  "Now, Sophie. About your eye…" Elwin started.  "It's more than just my eye. Ever since that snake bit me, I haven’t been feeling quite right." Sophie said everyone shared glances.  "Hmm. Yes... I have seen this sort of injury before. And it is not good." Elwin said, "Your heart is racing, Sophie. I'm surprised you are able to stay so calm."

"It's not easy. I even kidnapped my friend, Fitz." Sophie said, sending a guilty glance at Fitz.  "Keefe, give me the tuliza blossoms," Elwin ordered.  "Yes, Elwin. Of course." Keefe said, tossing the plant to Elwin.  "Chew on the tuliza blossoms, Sophie." Elwin instructed, "You feel better?"  "Mm-hmm." Sophie nodded, swallowing the blossoms.

"The tuliza will help you soothe your discomfort. But it is not a cure." Elwin warned.  "Elwin, will she be all right?" Edaline asked, hopefully.  "It's just a scar, right?" Grady asked, hopefully.  "The venom from the snake's bite is still inside Sophie. If the venom stays inside her too long, she will no longer know the difference between right and wrong." Elwin said grimly.   "You can help her get better. Can you?" Edaline asked, holding onto Grady.

"There is no cure for Sophie here in the Lost Cities," Elwin said, avoiding everyone's eyes.  "What?" Grady said.  "No!" Edaline cried.  "Elwin?" Sophie asked fearfully.  "I'm sorry, but the best thing that I can think of is keeping Sophie sedated and hoping she pulls through," Elwin said, sorrowful.

"What am I going to do?" Sophie signed, rubbing her scar.  "Sophie I-" Fitz started.  "No.  I need to be alone. I need to think things through." Sophie said turning away.  Everyone left the room, closing the door. The door swung open just a crack.

Chapter 3: Sophie’s A Werewhat?

Sophie sat on her cot for hours thinking about her decisions.  She sat there for so long that nightfall came.  Sophie stood, her legs stretching.   They had gone numb and now she had pins and needles. She walked over to one of the healing centers' many crystal windows, the moonlight shining through.  

Sophie suddenly felt a fever take her, like never before.  A wave of dizziness rushed over her as the blood rushed from her head.  She grasped the heavy curtain with a trembling hand to stop her from falling.  Her breathing rasped in her chest, labored and shallow, as rivulets of sweat rolled down her face and into her eyes.  Sophie wiped her forearm across her face and her sleeve came away sodden, clinging to her skin.  

She fixed her eyes on the moon,  trying to focus, trying to clear her head of the painful sensations that now assaulted her body.  Her skin crawled, a fevered itch spreading its way over every inch of her skin like wildfire.  Nausea assailed her, her chest heaving, her last meal threatening to make a break from her stomach.  The healing center turned around Sophie, spinning on the bright white axis of the moon.  Focus on the moon.

"Help, Elwin." Sophie gasped, still clutching the curtain.  Everyone rushed into the room, Elwin in the lead.  "What’s happening to me?!" She cried out as the pain increased.  She let go of the heavy curtain falling to the ground. "Sophie what's wrong?" Elwin asked, kneeling beside her.

It started in her guts, as before, but worse.  Much worse.  She felt her insides tearing now, not fighting to pull free from her body but twisting about finding fresh homes.  All while everyone was shouting for her to be okay, but she was too pained to answer.  Her bowels seemed to rise from the pit of her belly and shift farther back, while her lungs grew threefold, great gasps of air racing into her chest.  As the lungs grew so did the rib cage, straining at first before cracking and popping.  Her chest expanded as her ribs took a new shape.  The pain was unbearable.  She wanted to yell out loud against it, but nothing came other than a silent scream.

She gritted her teeth as she felt a pressure grip her skull like a vise.  The strain increased; Sophie thought her eyes might burst from her sockets.  She felt her gums beginning to tear as her teeth seemed to work themselves free.  Her arms came up before her, but she could only stare in horror as her hands distorted, stretched, and elongated, with her nails tearing from her fingers into great long claws.  Hair shot from her skin, up her arms, from her chest, and felt her mind threatening to slip away.  Her skull cracked under the pressure, and her jaw dislocated when a muzzle broke out.

Her eyes hazed over, red, as she looked up from where she collapsed.  "S-Sophie?" Fitz asked wearily, stepping closer.  She nodded slowly getting to her knees, gritting her teeth through the pain.  "What happened to me?" She whispered, surprised when it came out in a growl.  "I don’t know.  This is very new to me."  Elwin said, puzzled by what happened.  

Sophie gripped the curtain, getting up. "I remember a fever.  My inner workings threatening to leave me.  Oh and the transformation of whatever I am now."  Sophie growled, staring helplessly at her parents.  "Well, I think I might know what you are." Keefe said.  "What am I then?" Sophie asked, staring at him.  "Your part lion, part elf.  You, Sophie, are a Lion-elf.  With the mane to prove it." Keefe said, holding her stare.  

"I HAVE A MANE??!!" Sophie shouted, looking in a nearby mirror, a big furry lion-elf with a mane looked back.  Sophie padded back over to the window, the moon was still shining through.  "I wouldn't be there if I were you." Elwin advised, coming closer to Sophie.  "Why not?" Sophie asked, "If the moon did all this, what else can it do." Elwin warned, leading Sophie away from the window.  One of Sophie’s ears flicked, "do you hear that?"  "Hear what?" Everyone asked, looking at each other. "Somethings coming."

A huge beast burst into the healing center, thick oily coat and furless pinky tail. It peeled its lips back in a snarl before launching itself on Sophie.  She roared with fury and pain as the beast attacked tearing her skin before she could flip it off.  She leapt back, biting and slashing the beast savagely, shredding it's skin.  The beast used its hind claws to rake across her exposed stomach.  Sophie  roared in pain fighting with a new fury.

She tore her claws into the beast's own soft skin, digging in and twisting her claws.  The beast wailed but didn't stop.  It withdrew a massive forearm while the other fought.  The beast's forearm slammed into Sophie sending her into the wall, she grunted but got back up.  The beast was waiting it dug its claws into her chest deep.  Sophie snarled in pain biting the beast's hand to free herself.

The beast fought back with its usable limbs to hold her off.  She fought with all she had, her chest wounds burned stopping her from being able to fight.  The beast took its chance, locking its jaws around Sophie’s mane.  Sophie snarled as the beast attacked, she rolled onto her back exposing the beast's stomach.  The beast made its final move, shredding the skin and fur on Sophie’s back touching bone before fleeing out the way it came.

Sophie turned back to everyone before collapsing on the ground with a thud, blood spraying from her wounds.  Her body changed back to its normal form, her golden hair stained with her crimson blood.  Elwin rushed over trying to stop the bleeding from Sophie’s body, to no avail.  "Why won't the bleeding stop?!!" Elwin growled, frustrated.  "Fitz, Keefe go get my store of panakes blossoms.'' Elwin ordered pressing gauze into Sophie’s wounds.  

"Look." Biana said, pointing at Sophie’s shoulder.  The skin slowly knitted itself back together.  The rest of her wounds slowly and painfully knit themselves together.  Sophie slowly came to.  She blinked, blinked again.  

Grady and Edaline reeled on her, "Why in all of the Lost Cities would you attack that thing!!!"  "I was trying... to protect you... from it." Sophie said through gritted teeth.  Her breathing became labored.  Soon after her eyes rolled back into her head.  "S-Sophie?   Sophie!!"  Edaline cried, hugging Grady.

"Sh. Sophie will be alright,  she's just exhausted. This Lion elf thing has been draining." Elwin said, consolidating Edaline and moving Sophie to a cot.  "Could there be a book about what Sophie has?" Fitz asked, hopeful.  "Good idea.  Let's go." Keefe said, dragging Fitz out of the healing center.  Hours later Sophie still hadn't woken.   Keefe and Fitz returned with a very thick book, 'Werelords Everything You Need To Know' by Leopold Duskish.

"What does it say?" Grady asked.  "It says 'Werelions are ancient creatures, known for their inhuman strength and abilities.   To all Werelords, silver is deadly, a sword made out of it could instantly kill a werelord, injuries from silver will leave scars that will never fade.  In full transformation they can be eight feet tall and are ruthless in battle.  Female Werelions with manes are very rare.  There is no known cure to elves.'' Fitz finished.  "So your pretty much saying that Sophie can't be cured and that silver can kill her." Edaline said she had been sitting next to Sophie ever since she was moved.  "Has she woken up yet?" Keefe asked, Edaline shook her head.  "It was brave of her to leap into battle with that thing to protect us." Dex piped up.

"Yes.  It was brave.  But it isn't worth it if she never wakes up." Grady growled, pacing.  "What was that thing though?  It looked like an insanely large rat, and it only went after her." Dex said, thinking.  "Wait, what if it was looking for her." Fitz said, "and rats that large aren't normal.  I think that beast was a Wererat.  And wererats have been known to be assassins for hire."  "But who would want to kill her that badly other than the Neverseen." Linh asked.  "I don’t know." Wylie admitted.

Chapter 4: Silver Can Kill

"There’s more about silver." Keefe said, taking the book from Fitz.  "The main difference from regular elves is the capability of rapidly healing wounds that would be fatal for a normal person, although if enough injuries are sustained, they could die. Injuries from a fight among Werelords can also be fatal, and the death is immediate if they're decapitated or stabbed in the heart.  The biggest weakness to all Werelords is silver, an injury cannot be healed immediately, a well-aimed blow can be fatal, and not even the strongest skins are immune to getting pierced. Silver restraints prevent Werelords from transforming, and if they try they could sever their limbs or even get decapitated. Silver is so deadly to Werelords that during the reign of Wergar, it was outlawed, its mining being punishable by death, and possession of silver items could be punished with a life in prison. The Werelords of Bast don't share the same thoughts about silver, King Leopold allowed some elite soldiers of the Lionguard to own silver-blessed weapons." Keefe read aloud.  "Who is this King Leopold?" Tam asked.  "I don't know but this Wergar guy sounds like he's good." Fitz replied.  Sophie moved.

"Sophie?" Edaline asked quietly.  Sophie groaned, opening her eyes.  "Thank goodness you're alright." Grady and Edaline cried, hugging her lightly.  "The beast.  Silver, my chest." She whispered through gritted teeth laying back down.  Elwin rushed over, cursing when he saw that her wounds had been reopened.

"That Wererat must have had silver on its claws." Elwin growled, treating the slashes.  "Is everyone okay?" Sophie asked, clearly in pain.  "All but you.  You got many injuries." Elwin said.  Sophie’s eyes glazed over, "No.  Not now. Not now."  "Sophie what's wrong. Not now what?" Edaline asked a crease in her brow.  

Sophie twisted and turned as her body took her new form.  Her fingers became claws which she sheathed.  Fur sprouted everywhere much to Sophie’s annoyance.  Her eyes hazed over, the world becoming a vibrant shade of red.  Her skull cracked as the final stages of the transformation completed.

"Great.  Just what I need." Sophie growled, sarcastically.  "I don’t see any damage from your transformation." Elwin said, giving Sophie the all clear.  She slowly swung her legs over the cot, getting up on shaking legs.  Something nagged at the back of her mind. The Wererat.

"He's been back.  The Wererat." She growled, claws unfurling.  "What? How!" Fitz exclaimed, coming behind Sophie.  "That's what I'm going to find out." Sophie growled, storming out of the healing center.  "Sophie! Wait!" Fitz shouted behind her as she dropped to all fours.  She ignored him picking up speed, she pictured Havenfield in her mind, teleporting.

Fitz swore under his breath as he saw Sophie teleport.  “Where could she have gone?” he asked himself as he stalked back to the healing center.  Fitz dashed for the Werelord book frantically flipping to Wererats.  “What is it?” asked Keefe, looking at Fitz.  Fitz swore again this time not hiding it, earning himself a look from Alden.

“I knew something was off.” muttered Fitz, glaring at the book.  “What’s off?!” Biana asked.  “There are Five Wererat brothers.  Vanmorten, Vankaskan, Vorkavik, Vorhaas, and Vex.  And I think Sophie’s gone to find them.” said Fitz, grimly.  “Where would she challenge them?” Linh asked.  “There’s only one place where the Wererats would go to give her the worst type of tourture.” Fitz said, eyes as cold as steel.

“Havenfield.” Fitz and Keefe said at the same time.  “We have to stop her now before she gets herself killed.” Grady declared making his way to the leapmaster.  “Havenfield!” shouted Biana racing to the leapmaster with everyone else.  I pray we’re not too late! Biana thought, imagining what the Wererat could do to her friend.  They jumped into the light.

Chapter 5: The Battle For Havenfield

“No!” Biana opened her eyes at the shout.  The grounds of havenfield were covered in blood.  The sight of it made Biana want to gag, but she just kept on looking for her friend.  “There!” Biana shouted, pointing at the distant cliff edge where Sophie battled five black figures.  Sophie leapt towards one of them, with inhuman speed and tore at the flesh on it’s black furred face.

Sophie’s jaws snapped over its skull.  She yanked the beast’s head back in a sharp savage motion, with a ragged tear the flesh came with it.  Letting loose a screech of pain, the Wererat struck back, a clawed fist hitting Sophie hard in the chest.  She flew back hitting the ground hard.  The rats circled her, she snarled as one stalked closer, playing with it’s claws.

She got back up, stretching out one of her arms she used telekinesis to throw one of them away while tackling one.  A long, pink tail whipped out toward Sophie, sending her toppling sideways in the direction of the edge.  Arms raised high over his head, the Wererat leapt at her, jaws wide open and teeth snapping.  Sophie knew she couldn’t keep up for much longer.  The other Wererat brothers all launched themselves on Sophie, she roared, swiping and battering them off, new slashes and cuts all over her.

“Back,” snarled Vanmorten, getting back up.  “The lion is mine, my brothers,” he said in a low guttural growl.  His voice was almost incoherent, the monster taking over.  Vanmorten dived.  Clearing the distance between them in one bound, the Wererat bowled into Sophie, sending the two of them closer to the edge.

Her body shifted to elvin form without her asking it to.  Sophie tried to call the Lion, but she had no energy for the transformation, her hands doing all they could to hold back the Rat.  Vanmorten was fast and wiry, squirming from Sophie’s grip every time she tried to fend him off.  A storm cloud rumbled in the distance with thunder.  Lightning flashed, catching the dry grasses around the cliff edge ablaze.

The four Wererat brothers now whooped and hissed excitedly, itching to pounce and join the fight.  Sophie was under no illusion: even if she were to somehow beat Vanmorten, another would leap into his place.  Sophie looked to the ground, a sword with a Lionshead lay on the ground discarded. She grabbed it, holding it out in front of her.  She lunged with the blade, striking the Ratlord repeatedly, occasionally connecting but mostly missing.

The Wererat’s  jaws snapped in a blurred fury, lashing out blindly and tearing into her stomach.  Vanmorten strained to get to Sophie’s soft underbelly, to bury his teeth into softer flesh.  The fire was raging now hungrily eating at the grass.  The flames leaped, landing on Vanmorten.  The Wererat wailed in agony as his oily hair went up in flames and burned at his flesh.

His thick tail whipped in a frantic blur as he thrashed around in the flames.  Ophie scrambled forward, throwing a hand into the flames to grab the blade.  The Wererat held the sword flicking it, throwing Sophie back.  She willed some of the lion into the arms and hands as she grasped the edge of the cliff, looking at the angry ocean below.  The Wererat sneered, waving over a new creature.

The new creature was a Werelion like her, but it had a cruelness to it’s aura.  It laughed as demonic laugh as it looked down at Sophie.  “So.  You're the rogue Lion.  The one that my dear friends over here tried to kill.” It sneered, crouching down to Sophie’s level.  Sophie’s legs scrambled for purchase on the steep cliff rock below.  The Wererat brothers stalked behind the other lion, nearing closer.

The flames parted for a moment for everyone to get a good look at the events at the cliff.  “No!” Edaline screamed as she saw Sophie dangling at the edge of the cliffs.  “Eda, don't,” Grady said, putting a hand on her shoulder to stop her from racing to Sophie.  Sophie’s clawed hands dug harder into the stone as she slid closer to the edge.  The flames leapt back together blocking the view once more.

The Wererats snapped at each other, bickering at who should tear her apart.  The other lion roared, silencing them.  “Do you know who I am?” The lion asked.  Sophie shook her head fearfully.  “I am Prince Lucas of Lyssia, Son of King Leopold and Queen Amelie, and your doom” Lucas snarled.  

“And, I am Sophie Elizabeth Foster, Keeper of the Lost Cities.  The Moonlark and Dire wolf.” She growled, leaping up with the last of her strength and pouncing on Lucas.  Lucas flew back with Sophie on top of him, clawing his body to shreds.  The Wererats all pounced ripping, tearing, clawing, slashing, their claws against her skin.  Sophie looked over to the edge of the cliff.  One of the rats smacked her sending her flying with a crunch, pain jared up her left leg to see her ankle in an impossible position.

She scrambled back, closer to the edge.  Sophie knew she wasn’t going to win this fight.  She could hear her friends and family screaming over the roaring flames.  The rats were back to fighting one another again.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t win. She transmitted to everyone at Havenfield.  She clutched the Lionshead sword with her palm against the ground.

Lucas pounced, throwing Sophie clinging to the edge of the cliff.  “Goodbye.  ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities’” He mocked, digging his claws into Sophie’s hands.  She roared in pain as he dug them deeper.  Lucas let go, lashing out and sending Sophie falling off the cliff and towards the ocean.  Before she lost consciousness, her last memory of the ragging Werelords she’d left back at the cliff disappearing in the distance, silhouetted by the inferno at their backs.  Her body hit the ocean, sending up a cloud of red.

Chapter 6: Where’s Sophie?!

By the time the nobility came and put out the fires, the Wererats had left and Sophie was gone.  Biana had raced up to the edge of the cliff where she’d last seen Sophie.  Everyone had heard her message.  “There are claw marks here, but no Sophie.  You don’t think that. . .” Biana started but couldn’t finish.  “I don’t know what to think.” Fitz replied, shaking his head.

“Maybe she’s in the ocean?” Keefe suggested, hopeful.  Biana glared at him.  “Hey, Keefe might be right.” Fitz replied.  Fitz started down the steep path down to the caves, taking his shirt off at the same time.  “Fitz, wait!” Biana shouted after him, running to keep up.

Edaline heard Biana shouting, and looked over.  Biana was chasing Fitz down to the caves.  Then it struck her.  Edaline hurried after them with the rest of the adults following. “Edaline what’s going on?” Alden asked, hurrying after her.  

“I think that Fitz might have had an idea where Sophie disappeared to.” Edaline replied, hurrying to catch up with the youths.  Fitz got to the beach first, walking waist deep into the ocean.  “Fitz, wait!” Biana shouted again.  Fitz ignored her, jumping in.

The water was as cold as ice, freezing to the touch.  Fitz used his skills from Exillium to help him.  He saw a metallic glint, like metal.  He grabbed the metal object and swam up needing air.  Fitz resurfaced, holding out the metal object.

The object was a sword of somesort, with a Lionshead on the hilt, he threw it into the sand before diving back down.  He dove deeper, trying to find Sophie.  His lungs burned but he ignored them, hunting for Sophie.  Something hit him.  He looked at it, using his night vision to see what hit him.

It-It looked like a hand.  He swam closer to the hand.  The rest of the body came into view, battered and torn.  Sophie.  Fitz cheered, a stream of bubbles escaping his mouth.  

He resurfaced, gasping for air, coming to shore.  “Did you find her?” Edaline asked, hopeful.  “Yes.  I did.  I found her.  But, I need help getting her out.” Fitz panted.  “I’ll go,” Keefe said, taking his shirt off and diving back in with fitz.  Biana looked away from the bare chested boys.

Keefe looked over at Fitz.  His friend looked determined, as he pointed to something floating.  Keefe grabbed onto her on one side while fitz took the other.  Fitz signaled for Keefe to start lifting, carrying Sophie through the ocean was tough.  Soon the water color lightened, they were close to the surface.

Fitz and Keefe resurfaced, dragging Sophie to the beach.  Keefe looked at Sophie, she wasn’t breathing, she wasn’t moving at all.  Keefe jumped up putting an ear to her chest.  A faint heartbeat was pitter, pattering.  “Elwin!” Keefe shouted, waving Elwin over.

Elwin cursed as he flashed several lights over Sophie.  “What?” Della asked, surprised when Elwin cursed.  “Her fall pretty much fractured or broke every bone in her body.” Elwin sighed, grabbing ten different vials.  Everyone heard a thump.  They turned around to see that Edaline had fainted.  “I’ll take her to the healing center.” Elwin said, leaping Sophie away.

Chapter 7: The Healing Process

White light filled her vision, fading to a light gray as figures circled her.  “Are you my?” She started.   “Yes.  Sophie, we are your ancestors.” A large figure said, he had a deep voice.  “We are past Werelords of Lyssia.” Another said, “You are a Werelord like us.”  “But our time with you is up, farwell. Sophie.  And we bid you good luck in the struggles ahead.” The first one said.

There was a rising sense of discomfort that worked its way through her body, starting at her feet, then legs, and coursing through her whole body.  She tried to open her eyes, squinting at the harsh light, bright light filled her vision.  A hand pushed down on her chest, holding her in place as she moved fitfully, writhing as the pain overtook her.

The smooth lip of a polished crystal cup touched her broken lips.  A sweet-tasting nectar poured gently down her throat, instantly warming her and dulling the pain.

When Sophie finally woke, she rubbed gingerly as her eyes before taking in her surroundings.  She was back in the healing center, recognizing instantly the cot she had laid on so many times.

Edaline lay curled up on a cot, her legs tucked under her chin and her arms wrapped protectively around them.  She looked exhausted but at peace, the auburn curls of her hair fluttering over her lips as she breathed.  To her side reclining in a cot, sat Grady, a book open in his lap as his head hung back, mouth wide and open snoring contentedly.  Sophie smiled, trying to pull herself up.  Her legs shot with pain, stiff and unmoving, angry jolts coming from her shattered bones.

She tugged the sheets loose, pulling them back to find that broad silver splints had been attached to each leg with bandages.  They were bruised and blackened, and broken, lumps rising over their surface like discolored mountain ranges, but they were on the mend.  Her chest and arms were also dressed in a patchwork quilt of bandages and dressings.  Her right arm was coated in a slick sweet oil that was working its magic, healing her burns.  A shadow passed over Sophie as somebody else came to crouch beside her.

Sophie moved to sit upright again with shock and surprise, until her wounded body screamed out in protest.  She stifled as cry as the figure put a hand on her chest, easing her back into the cot.

“Glad to see you’re awake.” said Keefe, pouring a mead-like liquid for a pitcher into a glass for her.  “Here, drink this,” he said, handing it to Sophie.  She gulped it down tentatively.

The door opened suddenly and a figure entered the room from the hallway beyond.  It was Elwin himself, who, upon taking one look at Sophie sitting up on the bed, let a warm smile fill his face.  “Ha!” he cried noisily, turning to lean back out the door and call up the hallway.  “She’s up!”

Edaline and Grady awoke instantly with a start, delighted by the sight of their risen daughter in her bed.  Both leapt from their cots and rushed over to Sophie, who gingerly held out her arms as they embraced her.  Keefe stood to one side, smirking.

“You’re awake!” Edaline gasped, echoed by Grady’s: “You’re better!”

Elwin immediately  started to take Sophie’s vital signs, checking  her temperature and pulse, and looking over her wounds.

“She’s fine, Elwin,” Keefe smirked.  “I checked her while you were napping.  Please don’t worry yourself.”

(A/N: “So, Elwin you napping on the job?” Elwin: “No! I-fine, I only do it sometimes.”  Author” “I caught ya! I’m going to reveal this to everyone!!!”)

“You’ve been out cold all week, since they fished you out of the ocean,” said Elwin, unable to stop himself from checking that his bandages were still taught, and hooking a thumb at Fitz and Keefe.

“You might have died,” said Alden, moving to sit on the cot that Edaline had vacated.  “You can thank Keefe and Fitz for thinking fast and diving in to rescue you.  Mind, you’d swallowed so much of the ocean I wasn’t convinced there was much to save.”

“I thought I'd died,” she whispered.  Keefe reached around her to plump up the pillows, now that she was sitting upright.  He pulled the blankets back up where she’d kicked them loose, tucking them into place.  Grady glared daggers into Keefe’s head as he got closer to Sophie.  (A/N: COME ON GRADY, REALLY??!!)

“So did we,” said Edaline, gently nudging Keefe out of the way to give Sophie another embrace, wrapping her arms around her back tenderly.  She raised a bandaged hand to hug her back, her body still aching as broken bones worked busily to knit themselves back together.  Keefe watched, arching an eyebrow with a sly smile.

“You’ll be out of action for a while, my friend.” Elwin said.  “That fall fractured or broke just about every bone in your body.”

Chapter 8: Possession

Weeks past since the Battle of Havenfield, as everyone called it.  Sophie had gotten better.  Her super healing skills had helped with her bones.  But one thing still puzzled everyone.  Her “mark of evil” scar was still there, and no one knew why.

Sophie now heard voices in her dreams, sickly sweet and intoxicating.  She would fall asleep with the voice’s words ringing in her ears.  And the voice would always sing the same thing.  Every night, for those weeks in the healing center and now at home.  Trust in me.

Sophie dragged her tired legs up the stairs of Havenfield, after a day of training with Sandor she was about ready to collapse.  She haistilly got out of her clothes and into her Pajamas.  Sophie snuggled up in her bed, burying her head into Ella’s big blue ears.  The voice started it’s sickly sweet song.  “Trust in me, just in me, shut your eyes, trust in me.  You can sleep safe and sound, knowing I am around.  Slip into silent slumber, sail on a silver mist, slowly and surely your senses will cease to resist.

Just relax, be at rest, like a bird in a nest.  Trust in me, just in me, shut your eyes and trust in me.  Trust in me, just in me, shut your eyes and trust in me...” The voice finished, as Sophie drifted into a silent, dreamless, slumber.

(A/N: Link to Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEifKOYuG-o )

Sophie got out of bed the next morning up and ready to go.  Grabbing some weird looking root from the table she went outside.  Sophie bit into the root, smiling to herself when it tasted like french toast.  But something was wrong with the weird root, it was blackened, like shadowflux.  Her scar flared in pain, she growled at it in response for hurting.

Over the next few weeks, the voice would follow her saying things Sophie didn’t understand.  Her scar hurt more as the venom of the snake's bite seeped into the system.  Sophie became more erratic, snippy and one could say evil.  A few had theories that the venom was acting up, but no one said anything.  It was finally Keefe who brought it up.

“Sophie.  We need to talk.” he started.  “About what?” Sophie asked, not looking up.  “I-we.  We think the venom from your scar is um-acting up.”  Keefe said, nervous of Sophie’s reaction.  “Yes.  I have noticed it too.  I try to fight it, I really do- but sometimes it gets the better of me.” Sophie said looking out the window.  “Sophie, Elwin ca-” Keefe started.

“What?  Elwin can help.  Yes, but that means I’ll be sedated for God knows how long!  And if the Neverseen finds out I’m weak and vulnerable.  No.  I don’t want that to happen.” Sophie interrupted turning back to Keefe, fire burning in her eyes.  “Sophie, I was going to say, Elwin can give you some pain killers.” Keefe answered, humor in his eyes.  “Oh.” Sophie mumbled, bashful.  “Come on.” Keefe smirked.  “You’ve got too much fun in you.” Sophie grumbled playfully at his smirk.

“No.  Such thing!” Keefe teased.  Sophie rolled her eyes.  “You flatter me.” Sophie said, playing along.  “Ahem.”  They looked up, it was Grady.  “I’m just taking Sophie to Elwin to get some pain killers for her scar.” Keefe said, leading Sophie to the leapmaster.

Grady left mumbling something along the lines of “That boy”.  They leaped to Foxfire.  Keefe lead Sophie to the healing center.  “Elwin!” Keefe called. “Yes?” Elwin said.

“Sophie needs some pain killers for her scar.” Keefe explained as Sophie sat down on her cot.  "I thought it wasn't bothering her anymore." Elwin said, grabbing the pain killers.  Sophie took them. "Well it is now." Keefe grumbled.  Sophie's eyes widened.

“What is it?” Keefe and Elwin asked, Sophie shook her head, over and over whispering the word no.  “Sophie.  You have to tell me now.” Elwin said sternly.  Sophie looked at him with wild frightened eyes, “I’ve seen things.  I’ve seen… I’ve seen.  I’ve seen.  I’ve seen the deaths of everyone I love.”  Keefe stood there flabbergasted.  “You have to get me out of here now.” Sophie ordered.

“Why?” Keefe asked.  “Just get me out of here.” Sophie begged, but it was too late.  The Neverseen had found her, one of them threw back their hood.  Gethen, he threw a golden staff with a blue gen at Sophie with deadly accuracy.  The steel tip touched Sophie in the chest, her eyes flashed blue before going back to their normal gold flecked brown.

(A/N: search loki's scepter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe online)

The Neverseen fled shortly after.  But not before Gethen sneered, “Welcome to our ranks.  Moonlark.”  Gethen’s sneer left Sophie bewildered, confused, and light headed.  She looked down, and saw crimson.  Her blood.

Elwin patched up the little cut on her chest, mumbling about how she wasn’t impaled by the golden stick.  And Sophie had to agree.  She was confused, tired, and sore.  Keefe led Sophie back to Havenfield.  “Goodnight, Foster.  See you tomorrow.” he said with a smirk, and leaped away to the Shores of Solace or as Ro called them The Waves of Wimpiness.

Sophie trudged back to her room, ignoring the looks Edaline and Grady were giving her and her crimson coated white shirt.  Sandor and her bodyguards were stationed outside her bedroom, on the third floor of Havenfield.  “All is well in your room Miss Foster.” Sandor squeaked, glaring at the crimson on her shirt. “Trouble with Mr.  Sencen?”  “No, just a paper cut.” Sophie lied, going into her room.  Everything was just as she left it.

Her eyes flashed blue, and stayed blue.  Sophie scrambled over to her bed, grabbing a blood red leaping crystal.  She silently ran to her desk tearing a blank piece of paper out of one of her Foxfire notebooks.  She wrote a note for anyone and everyone to see.  Her eyes flickered from Brown to Blue.

I can feel it in my head.  It controls me.  I’m sorry, but I need to go.  Save me, please.  Before it makes me do something unthinkable.  Before I do something I’ll regret.  Keefe, please find me.

-Sophie

Sophie silently opened her window.  Her mind losing to the unfathomable power that now controlled it.  She took one last look at her room.  “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.” She whispered, she held the blood crystal to the light.  She leaped away.

Chapter 9: Gone

Sandor knew something was wrong.  It was far too quiet in Miss Foster’s room.  He devised a plan.  “Flori, inform Lord and Lady Ruewen.  Tarina, inform her friends, and the Collective.  Bo and I will see what’s going on.” Sandor said, everyone ran off to do their jobs.  Sandor motioned with his fingers. “1. . . 2. . . 3” He mouthed, bursting into the room.

Nothing. There was no one in the room, no Sophie.  Sandor scoured the room.  There was an indent in the pillow in the shape of a leaping crystal, and a note on the desk.  He grabbed the note reading it quickly, he swore under his breath, Sophie was gone.

Flori ran down the flights of stairs at Havenfield, crashing into Edaline.  “Flori!  What’s wrong?” Edaline asked, getting up.  Flori gulped.  “J-Just g-get Grady.” Flori stuttered.  “Okay,” Edaline said, she ran to get Grady.

Tarina went to a hidden spot of the house, “Show me Keefe Sencen.”  “Tarina.  Why are you calling?  Where’s Sophie?!” Keefe asked.  “Keefe Sencen, I’m afraid to inform you that Sophie. . .” Tarina started.  “That Sophie what?!” Keefe asked, running his hands through his hair.  “Sophie’s. . . Sophie’s gone missing.” Tarina said, clicking off, Great!  Now I need to do that with the rest of them! Tarina thought sarcastically.

“Flori, why have you brought us here?” Grady asked, as they neared Sophie’s bedroom. (The why have you brought us here is a “The Phantom of the Opera” ref.)Flori shook her head and just continued.  They had arrived.  Sandor nodded as Grady and Edaline entered the room.  Edaline had her hands over her mouth.

She walked over to the damaged painting, holding up the clawed strips.  Grady rushed over to the desk. “Who. . . who did this?” Edaline asked, fingers tracing the claw marks on the window frame.  “She did.  She should have told us something was wrong!  We should have known she was possessed.” Grady growled, slapping a fist into the desk.  “She. . . FOSTER WAS WHAT?!” Keefe shouted from the doorway, Grady whipped around.

Keefe stormed in, immediately seeing the destruction of his painting.  “I can fix the painting, but. . . We need to find Sophie.” Keefe said, eyes steely cold with determination.  Keefe’s mind flashed back to the evening.  The scepter, the Neverseen, Sophie.  Her eyes had flashed blue, the scepter must have possessed her.

Keefe’s eyes widened with realization.  “Mother!  You’ve crossed a line.” He growled.  “What?” Edaline asked, turning Keefe to face her.  “Keefe you need to tell us, if it could help her.” Grady presed, grabbing Keefe’s shoulders.  “I think I know what’s possessed Sophie.” Keefe said, “The Neverseen has a scepter thing with a blue gem, when I took her to the healing center this evening to get her pain killers for her scar.  They found her.  Gethen threw the scepter at her, it tapped her on the chest with it’s steel tip.  Her eyes flashed blue, but I didn’t notice at the time.  That scepter must be what’s possessing her.”

Chapter 10: Dark Magicks

Sophie glittered into a pitch black cave.  Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark cave.  “Welcome.  We’ve waited a long time for this.” A voice said, Sophie whirled around.  A growel rising in her throat.  Suddenly balefire torches lit the room, showing Neverseen figures in cloaks.

“What do you want?” Sophie growled.  “We have a job for you, that involves your Werelord qualities.” One of them said.  “What do you need me to do?” Sophie asked, intrigued.  “Sophie, we need you to learn Dark Magicks, we need you to raise the dead.” Lady Giesla said.  Sophie smirked, “When do I get started?”

“Now.” Giesla replied, leading Sophie to a dark, dank room.  Sophie followed, memories flashed in her mind, ones that weren’t hers.  The memories showed her how to raise the dead, and make them do her bidding.  Sophie looked around the room, a black candle, brimstone dust, the ancient tomes containing the secrets to Dark Magistry.  Giesla bowed lowly, “What do you need me to do?”  

“Stepping back would be a good start,” Sophie said, smiling, as she stumbled to her feet.  In her hand she had a dark-green crystal vial.  Popping the stopper off she started to shake a line of yellow powder out onto the ground in a circle around the body.  She smartly restoppered the vial and placed it back onto the oak desk.  Giesla looked on.

Sophie pulled a long black candle from the desk and held the wick to a balefire torch, letting it catch.  Then she closed her eyes and began to chant.  Allowing the sleeves of her shirt to fall back she opened her right palm skyward before her, all while chanting ancient words.  Tipping the candle, Sophie let the wax drip from its end, pooling in a hot puddle in the palm of her right hand.  Wincing at the pain, she didn’t miss a beat, keeping her chant going while the smoking wax dribbled onto her skin.

The black wax now filled Sophie’s palm, dripping between her fingers and down onto her lap.  She stopped chanting.  Curling her fist into a ball, she brought it sharply down to the ground and thumped it once.  Twice.  Three times.

The body on the ground seemed to shudder briefly.  “Did you see that?” Giesla gasped.  “Quiet, Giesla!” Sophie ordered, concentrating.  The body was moving, trembling.  “Rise, creature, and answer to your master’s bidding,” Sophie said.  

The body sat upright on the ground, blood pouring from its wounds.  It’s skin was deathly pallor.  The figure sat motionless for a moment before its head snapped upward, eyes open, revealing pearly white lights within.  “I brought you back and I command you now!” Sophie shouted, punching her fist into the ground once more.  The animated corpse looked at Sophie, the pale white lights of its eyes narrowing.

Sophie brought the creature of the dead to another room.  “How many more?” Sophie asked, a dark fire in her eyes.  Giesla gulped, astonished by the earlier events.  “We need an entire army.” Giesla said, voice never wavering.  “Good.” Sophie replied, grinning evilly.

Chapter 11: Project Saving Sophie

“So.  The Neverseen are behind this.” Fitz concluded, keefe had just told the rest of the group about Sophie.  “Yeah,” Keefe mumbled, punching the ground.  “Hey!  We’ll get her back.” Dex said, holding back Keefe’s fist from the ground.  “I’ve got an idea.” Linh murmured, leaning on Wylie.  “What’s that idea?” Keefe, Dex and Fitz asked at the same time.

“Well, Keefe said the scepter was controlling Sophie.  So in theory all we’d have to do is destroy the scepter and it’ll stop controlling her?  Right?” Linh said.  “That. . . That might just work!” Dex said, muttering things in the technopath language that nobody understood.  “Good.  But one problem, where's the scepter?” Keefe said.  “With the Neverseen.” Tam glowered, glaring at Keefe through his silver tipped bangs.

A few weeks later, Keefe was leading the raid on a Neverseen base.  “Lets go!” Keefe bellowed, charging the storehouse.  Everyone charged, keefe lunged, grabbing the scepter.  Keefe turned back to leave, a flash of blond turned his gaze.  It couldn’t be, could it?  

Could it be Sophie?  The elf looked back with cold, dark eyes.  The elf’s right hand was blackened, devoid of any muscles, making a crackling sound when moving.  Keefe kept running, leaping back to Havenfield with the scepter in hand.  They had got it, the first step of Project Saving Sophie.

	Dex took the scepter from Keefe who looked shaken.  “What’s wrong?” Dex asked, gently holding the scepter.  “N-nothing, I just thought I saw something.” Keefe mumbled, thinking.  Dex left taking the scepter to his little workspace.  Leaving Keefe alone with his thoughts.

Dex put the scepter in a holder.  “Okay, this is test number one.” He muttered, using mechanical arms to try and pull out the gem.  The gem flashed, exploding and sending Dex flying backwards.  Dex got up looking at the scepter, the gem was still intact.  “How?!  How is that stupid gem still intact?!  It blew up in my face!” Dex groaned, dragging a hand down his face.

“Dex!  Are you okay?” Keefe called, racing up to his friend.  “Yeah,” Dex said, frowning.  Edaline and Grady rushed up, “What happened?  Dex are you alright, we heard an explosion.” They both say at once.  Dex shook his head, “I’m fine.  The gem is just being really, really annoying.”  “Maybe.  Just maybe, we don’t need to destroy the scepter.” Keefe suggested.

Everyone looked at him like he was nuts, Keefe sighed.  “If the scepter possessed her, we can unpossess her by tapping her with the scepter again.” Keefe explained,  exasperated.  “That makes sense.  A little, but it makes sense.” Dex said, fitz agreeing with him.  “But, how will we get close enough to tap her with it?” Biana asked.  “Leave that to me.” Keefe smirked, devising a plan.

Sophie smiled at her army of undead humans.  Her Neverseen friends had taken human bodies since their lives were so fleeting.  Along the way, she had picked up a new name, Blackhand, named after her blackened right hand.  “Are you ready?” Gethen asked, knocking on the heavy oak door that led to her chambers.  “Yes.  I’m ready.  Seriously, you don’t need to keep on asking.” She replied, fastening her Lion head brooch of her cape.

“This is the final fight.  You will see past friends, you do know that.” Gethen said, walking Sophie out.  “I know.  But they mean nothing to me.” Sophie replied, flexing her blackened hand, it made a crackling sound.  Gethen looked ill, gulping at the young magister.  “What is troubling you, Gethen, my friend.” Sophie asked, putting a glove over her blackened hand.  “Nothing, my lady, nothing at all.” Gethen replied, trying to wipe the ill expression off his face.

They walked in silence for the rest of the way.  Turning down the twisting hallways of the Thunderstar base.  “Gethen.  How is Checmical’s experiment going?” Sophie asked.  “It’s going just fine my lady, she’s almost complete.” Gethen replied.  “Good.” Sophie said, turning sharply to exit the base.

Keefe looked on over the fields of Havenfield.  This was it, the time to save his love, his friend, Sophie.  “Mr. Sencen?” Sandor asked.  “What is it?” Keefe asked, turning to face Sandor.  “I think you’ll be needing this.” Snador said, handing Keefe the lionshead blade, the roaring lion head facing him.

“Why?” Keefe asked, but Sandor had left.  He reached down grabbing something from his cape pocket.  Feeling for two items.  Keefe sighed looking at the note the neverseen had left for him with a leaping crystal.  It was written in Sophie’s handwriting.

The fight.  Is not for your delight.  You shall meet an old friend, and maybe bring them to their end.  Meet us soon, or you shall find your doom.

Keefe looked back to the horizon, the sun setting an eerie blood color across the sky.  “It is time?” Keefe asked himself, “Yes. It is time.” He turned away, leaving havefield to the surrounding fields.  “Fitz!  Tam!  Linh!  Biana!  Wylie!  Grady, Edaline! Sandor!” Keefe shouted, beckoning his friends over.  “What is it Keefe?” Grady asked, bits of Verdi fluff in his tunic and hair.

“It’s time.” Keefe said, showing everyone the note.  Grady and Edaline shared a look.  Fitz and Biana shared one too.  So did Wylie and Linh, oh wait that was them kissing, nevermind.  Keefe held the crystal up to the light, they grabbed hands, and leaped away.

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