The sky twinkled up above as the Neverseen gathered to plan their assault. "It has been far too long my friends." Fintan smiled, and while his words sounded sincere, it was all a ploy to get the others to trust him. The dim-lit roofless room smelt like a skunk and the surfaces of tables were coated with dust.
He gestured behind him, and in the shadows where there couldn't possibly be anything, came out a man with a wicked grin. Fintan looked at the man and said, "This my son ... named something that I can’t remember, yet nevertheless, he is what will make the Lost Cities ours.”
One member raised his hand. "Your son? Then who is the mother?"
For the second time that day a figure emerged from the shadows. "I am.” Gisela walked out as though she ruled the place, which she did, and smiled in a sweet, sickening manner. "Got a problem?" The man gulped, frightened by the woman in front of him and mumbled, "N-no"
“One matter at a time," Fintan called out before Gisela locked the mere fellow into a room. "We are gathered here today to plan our assault on the Lost Cities, which, as you all know, we have failed to do it in the past. But this time, it will be different.” He paused to watch the reaction of his companions. "The only way to do that is to capture the reason that the Elvin world isn’t ours: Sophie Foster."
A burst of mummers, not all positive, ran through the crowd, "She has time and time again, ruined our plans. But not this time, for this time, we will win.”
He waited for everyone to quiet down before nodding to Gisela. She stood before the Neverseen and said, “We will kidnap her and the horrible elves she calls her friends and launch our attack. With their precious Moonlark gone, those bastard elves won't stand a chance."
Anyone with a decent set of eyes could tell that Gisela wanted power, the power to control. When the room exploded with questions, Fintan raised his palms, letting fire dance across them. "Quite, all of you!"
The fire scared the group into quietness, for many have heard of Fintan's abilities but never seen it in person. He took a deep breath, calming himself down. "Gisela is right. If we ever want to be in power, we have to take down their pawn."
"But how will we do that?" someone asked. "She is protected too well!" Fintan smiled, and everyone sighed with relief as they figured out that Fintan already had a plan. "My son is here too, in case you morons have forgotten," He nodded towards the man standing beside him. "He is our most valuable asset, and is the key to the downfall of the Lost Cities."
He pushed his son forward. "The Black Swan may have their Moonlark but we have him, the answer to all of our problems."
A wave of doubt spread threw out the group. Fintan sensed it and growled in frustration. "You ungrateful fools! I saved your lives, I made you who you are today, so unless you want to die, you will listen to me!"
They become dead silent, for the few that have disobeyed Fintan's orders have faced death, or worse. "We are here today to plan, not to give out threats!” Gisela glared, and then her face twisted into a cruel sneer. "We will celebrate the day we conquer, my friends. The day we show all elves that they are wrong for following their 'precious Moonlark’,” She uses mock air quotes. "And if they still don't follow us, they will be very, very sorry."
With Gisela's persuasiveness and Fintan's leading personality, they could sway just about anyone into doing what they want. Gisela walked to the center of the room and all eyes followed her steps, some in fear and others because of her grace and ruling movement. "As many of you know, I have another son, a son that is married to the Moonlark." She sneered but continued. "They have produced two heirs, two very powerful heirs."
She paused as the news hits the others. "What better way to get the Moonlark then to threaten the ones she loves?"
The Neverseen wait impatiently for her to continue. "The Moonlark's heirs, along with my son, are our keys to a better future, and the best part? They're too naive for this world and will fall for any trick, just like their parents.” Gisela’s smile barely masked the cruelty in her eyes.
“Everyone will bow down before us, and we will finally have the world we've been risking everything for."
It's was time for P.E.; the session that was cursed by the world. As much as I hated it, it was a mandatory class; I huffed and got out of the change room. The subject itself wasn’t too bad, but it was the session that I shared with the person that hated me more than mom hated capes: Lance Vacker. I quickly tried to blend in with the crowd, hoping that he wouldn’t see me, but no such luck. There he was, in all his glory, sauntering over to me.
With a teasing smirk, he said, "Hey, loser! Are you going to trip over again, or maybe you will get hurt before we even start."
I rolled my eyes. "Your remarks on my clumsiness are getting worse, did you know that? You said that to me last time!"
Girls swooned over him all the time and when I asked why they rolled their eyes and walked away. Seriously, what did they see in him? I will admit, he was okay looking, with teal eyes and messy brown hair that was always falling over his forehead, he had a tall and lean figure, but I was tall as well. He was only a few inches above me. Lance had a tanned complexion as if he just went to the beach and stayed there for a few hours.
He narrowed his eyes. "Now if I remember correctly, last time was when you exploded that splotcher on yourself." I raised my eyebrows. "Oh, were you paying attention to me? It seems like someone has a little crush."
A faint pink appeared on his face, but it left just as fast as it came. "You wish I would pay that much attention to you."
"Please, that's the last thing I would ever want," I smirked, and nodded my head towards the girls that were oh so sneakily shooting glances at him. "You have enough attention as it already is."
A small grin appeared on his face. "So you do want to pay attention to me don't you?" I glared at him. Why did he twist all my words?
I growled, "Listen, just because you have a lot of friends it doesn't mean you can treat me like I'm a piece of scum in the floor."
His gaze softened. "That’s not what I mea-"
"Asha!" my brother called out and he jogged over, cutting off whatever Lance was about to say. His smile got knocked off of his face as soon as he saw Lance; he glared at him and dragged me away and hissed, "What were you doing talking to him, you were fraternizing with the enemy!"
"It’s not my fault!" I said, glowering over in Lance's direction, "He came to me!" Cullen sighed and asked, "Can you believe he's related to Uncle Fitz?"
"They are very different," I agreed.
Lady Roloc called for our attention and after ten painstakingly long minutes, we finally start with our activity: channeling energy into different parts of our body.
Finally something I'm good at, this will show that stuck up brat, I won't be getting injured today.
I felt power raging through me and my lips curled up into a smile. I jumped ten times higher than normal. Sir Haris said, “Good job, students! We will now partner you up with someone so you can practice splotching!"
The grin faded. Please, let it be anybody but him, I thought. I'll clean my room, I won't complain about not having a new Prattle, just let it be anybody but him. Of course, Lady Roloc called out, "Lance and Asha!"
Let me just say that I must have done something very bad in the past. It’s the only reason I would be paired up with my arch enemy.
Cullen gave me a sorry look and mouthed good luck. I stalked towards the devil himself; he scratched the back of his neck and says, "Listen, I just want to apol-"
I raised my hand to his face, "Save whatever it is that you were going to say and tell someone that cares, if you haven't gotten the memo, I don't care." He stared at the ground and looked like a little boy who just got told off.
We took our positions and faced each other, waiting for one of the Mentors to yell out "Start!" I'm going to get him back, I vowed, glaring at Lance. He would be sorry he ever messed with me.
My splotcher zipped at him and hit him before he could even start moving his. He looked at me with wide eyes then slowly raised a hand to his cheek. Green goop dripped down his chin. In the distance, I could hear Cullen yell, "Yes!" But at that moment my thoughts revolved around my victory. Lance walked off muttering something about not being prepared and I triumphantly grin. "Great job!" Cullen told me as I walked over and I smiled. "Yeah, he had it in for him,"
For the rest of the session, the grin plastered on my face never left.
As I walked out of the change room, I noticed that I was the only one there. I started making my way to the cafeteria. With only a couple of hallways to go a voice called from behind me, "So, it looks like the famous daughter of the Moonlark was finally able to make it to the shore."
I turned around to find Avary Natlek, a guy that hung out with Lance. While Lance’s teasing was normally joking, Avary always said things that were mean.
"Your right I did, that's a lot more then what you can do isn't it? I mean, your still lost in that brain of yours. Oh, wait, you can't be lost in nothing."
He turned red. "You are going to regret saying that!" I crossed my arms. "I would regret it if there was anything to regret."
I turned on my heel and towards the cafeteria again. I was almost there when something—or someone—tripped me. A feeling started in my foot, a feeling that I was very used to. Pain, a deep, searing, agonizing pain. I looked around, but there was no one in sight. The healing center was on the other side of campus and I would never be able the reach it. I cried out for help, but no one was there to hear me. Barely conscious, I heard voices screaming. Warm arms sweeping me off the ground. Then darkness overtook me, and the world turned black.
I woke up to find Elwin flashing a light in my eyes. I groaned and tried swatting it away, even though I knew it wouldn’t work. I groggily sat up, rubbing my eyes. Above hung my picture from my Level Three performance at the Opening Ceremony and beside it sat Mom's. Elwin chuckled and shook his head. "This is what, the tenth time this week?" he asked, smiling. "Well, I guess I can't expect anything less from the daughter of the Moonlark, can I?”
I scowled, that line has been used against me and it was the reason I was in this predicament in the first place. "How did I get here?"
Elwin hesitated before saying, "Lance brought you." I stared at him, then laughed, laughed so much that my sides started hurting and I was rolling around on the bed. When I finally finished I looked up not only to find Elwin, but also Lance.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, trying to ignore the wave of embarrassment that crashed over me.
"You know, I expected a thank you for bringing you here," Lance replied coldly, his gaze like ice.
"You really did bring me here?" I asked, my doubt returning.
He scoffed, "You know, I'm not evil, you were yelling in pain so I did the right thing and brought you here."
I immediately felt guilty and was about to apologize when Elwin said, "Lance, you may want to get to your session, it's about to start." He nodded and walked out of the room without a second glance.
"I didn't know he had it in him," I muttered, watching as he stalked off.
"Not everyone is as mean as you think, Asha," Elwin said, looking at me with fierce eyes. "If you get to know them, you will see that there is so much to a person than what appears on the outside."
I look at him curiously. "You sound a lot like my mother, did you know that?"
A small smile appeared on his face and he looked into the distance, "Your mom made us elves look at things differently." His gaze focused back on me. "Give the guy a chance."
I sighed. "I just don't get it, Elwin, he and I have known each other since we were born, he has hated me since then. I asked him why once, and do you know what he did? He said, "You are so clueless Asha.” Then walked away."
"Being a Vacker is harder than you think, Asha," Elwin told me. "You have such a big legacy to live up to."
"But Uncle Fitz isn't that strict!" I argued. Elwin sighed and said, "You don't have to have strict parents in order to want to be the best."
I whispered, "He's not the only one."
Elwin's eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?" I shrugged. "Everyone expects me to live up to mom and dad's legacy, so if anyone understands, it‘s me and Cullen." His gaze softened and he sat beside me on the cot and rubbed my back. "Maybe you should tell him that, it would help more than you think."
"What will he say?" I asked. "We aren't exactly the best of friends." I paused, reconsidering my words. "Okay, make that enemies."
Elwin laughed. "You know, he wasn't that far off when he said you are clueless."
I buried my face in my hands. "Why is everyone saying that?"
He rolled his eyes, "One day you will figure it out, but as of now you've got to get to class."
I sighed. He was right. My next class was Telepathy, my favourite class, and I didn't want to be late. Hopping off the cot, I thanked Elwin and he winked. "Make some new friends, Asha. It never hurts to be nice." I rolled my eyes. “In some cases it does," I mumbled, then walked to my class.
When I entered, the room Sir Tiergan was waiting by the window and looked over at me. I joined him by the window and he asked if I had another accident. I blushed and admitted that it was true. We stood there, lost in our own thoughts when he said, "We should do some work."
“We should,“ I agreed.
He motioned for me to sit in one of the chairs and I obliged. Sir Tiergan sat opposite of me and asked, "Do you remember what I told you, last class?" I thought back. "Yeah, you said that having a strong mind isn't the only thing that makes a great Telepath."
He nodded. "Do you have someone you trust very much?"
The first person that came to mind was Cullen. He was the only person that understood me, the person I trusted with my life. My head snapped up, I look at my mentor. "Cullen."
He smiled softly and said, "It's good you know that, keep him close Asha." I gave him a confused look. Cullen has been, and will always be the closest person to me. Even after the Match Making lists come for us, he promised that we would always be close. When I asked Tiegan what he meant, his face darkened. "Someday, you will understand why the closest people always travel the farthest away, Asha." He shook his head. "But enough of that. Let's get on with today's lesson."
“What are we doing today?" I asked. Sir Tiergan smiled. "Today, we are going to learn how to do trust exercises," he said. "But why?" Sir Tiergan has no reason to believe that I need a Cognate
He may not have been able to read my mind, but he could tell what I was thinking, he let out a sigh, "You don't only need trust exercises for a Cognate, one day you will need to trust someone very much, and that person won't always be Cullen." I stared at him, then blinked, and then blinked again. "Why would I need to trust anyone but Cullen?" He fondly smiled, "One day, you will know."
But why? I wanted to ask again, but thought better of it. Why waste time pondering something when you will sooner or later find out meaning of it? I nodded and gestured for him to continue the lesson. He looked back out the window and pointed at a bird. “That bird is your goal, I know you can read it's mind so you have to read it and follow it to it’s home.
How was this supposed to be a trust exercise? The bird wasn't going to do anything.
I still took a deep breath and plunged into its mind.
Animals had different minds than elves, so I expected it to be weird in a bird's mind. But I did not expect feathers. They tickled my brain, causing me to giggle. Sir Tiergan gave me a confused look but said nothing. But there was also another thing, a word on repeat, bouncing over and over again in the bird's mind.
Home. Home. Home.
The word kept repeating itself. I exited the bird's mind and turned to Sir Tiergan. "It wants to go home."
He nodded and I went back into its mind. Again, the feathers tickled me, but then the word repeated. This time, though, a picture came with it: a nest, with chicks and a male bird, her mate. She wanted to go home to her family. The background looked familiar, it was at Havenfield. I asked my mentor to let me take it back and sprinted out of the room to the front of the school. I called it down to me and it landed on my finger.
"Aren't you a pretty bird?" I cooed, smiling when the bird ruffled up its feathers. “Your home is my home, is it not? Come on, let's take you there." I started making my way through Foxfire when I bumped into a scrawny person. I looked up to find the periwinkle eyes of Mara. She had large bags under her eyes and her blonde was a large mess. Mara was small for her age, but she was fiery, just like her mother. She let out a small smile. "Hey, Asha."
We had a light conversation, but she seemed distracted the whole time. I made my way to the Leapmaster and shouted out Havenfield.
As I wandered around to find the little bird's nest, I wonder what was up with Mara. She never skipped classes, and though she wasn't your typical girly girl, she wouldn't have gone around school looking like a mess. I came to the conclusion that she was probably having a bad day when I find the bird's nest. And Mom. I called out, "Mom? What are you doing here?"
She turned around, startled. "Why aren't you at school?" I shrugged. "I had an assignment that led me here. What about you?"
Her eyes widen, but she smiled. "I just wanted to visit your grandparents."
While she may have sounded like she was telling the truth, I could tell she was hiding something, I narrowed my eyes. "What are you not telling me?" She shook her head, "Nothing."
"I guess I'll see you at home then." I knew that I shouldn’t let the topic go, but if I asked her now, she would never answer.
I made a mental note to question why she was here again when I went home, but for now, I handed Mom the bird and waved goodbye, then light leaped back to Foxfire. When I arrived, I headed back to class and found Sir Tiergan waiting for me. I informed him about my assignments and the results and he smiled.
"Great job, Asha," he told me and I beamed with pride. We go over some more exercises and then I entered study hall. There, I found Cullen in the Level Six area with a book open. I slid into the seat across from him and pulled out my books. "So, I found Mom at Havenfield today,” I began, and Cullen raised his eyebrows and asked me about the confrontation. After telling him, he said, "She's definitely hiding something. We have to find out what."
After study hall, I ran back to my locker to get my books I just remembered I left. As I opened it, a note fell out. A note with the mark of the Neverseen. Mom had warned me about this, my parents past haunted them. They said that one day I may run into this situation, they said to run. Before I could do that, however, I had to read the note.
Your parents aren't safe, they are no longer in reach of escape. Our plan is forming, the famous Moonlark has something we want. Stay away if you want them the to live.
So I ran, I ran as fast as I could. I didn't take a second glance behind me, I grabbed Cullen's arm and told him the story, then we ran together, having no where else to go. We went home, the one place we thought would always be safe, the one place that always had family. We threw open the door to Moonglade together, only to find silence. "Mom? Dad?" Cullen called out. There was no answer. So we sprinted towards their room. I raised a hand to knock on their door
My heart pounded as if it were to escape my chest, I prayed with all my heart that they were joking, a silly prank. With a shaking hand I knocked on mom's door and called out, "Mom, you there?" There was no answer. The Neverseen were telling the truth.
They were really gone