Pyro

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Chapter 17

Modern Day; December 4th; Parcia; Jibril

“Yes?” I said once I had reached the throne room.

Stefan was standing in the center of the room, leaning over a table with a massive world map spread over it. He turned when he heard my voice and put his hands on his hips.

“Jibril. Thank you for coming so quickly. I know it can’t be easy for you in your old age.”

“Certainly no easier than it is for you.”

I tried not to let the bitterness come out in my voice. I was still angry that I had been excluded from the meeting following Lady Catherine’s escape. Margrét, Stefan, and I were the three oldest residents of the Underground and yet, they seemed to have forgotten I was an elder when they called everyone together. I wanted to address this, but I knew it would only raise suspicion. Why would I be so upset about a meeting held over a month ago? Why indeed.

“Touché. Have you located Lady Cierra?”

“I wasn’t able to talk to her, but I know where she is. Riding. Across the plains of Alburar.”

Stefan closed his eyes and I could tell that he was impatient and frustrated.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me? She’s proving to be just like her father.”

“I wouldn’t say that, Stefan. She’s not under the influence of a powerful love spell like Lord Darylis was.”

“We don’t know for sure that that’s what happened to him. I’m surprised that you would listen to gossip and rumors.”

As a matter of fact, I do know for sure.

“I have to amuse myself somehow.”

“I suppose. Are you willing to fetch her for me or should I go there myself? We have work to do and she needs to be present.”

“I will get her. Carry on with whatever it is that you are doing.”

Stop sounding so bitter. There’s probably a reason why they don’t let you in on anything anymore. They probably suspect…

“Thank you, Jibril. Do you have a rock?”

“No, but I will borrow young Willow’s.”

When I knocked on the boy’s door, he answered right away. I saw behind him that the red haired girl was sitting on his bed with a book open in her lap. I wasn’t surprised to see her. Lately, she had been everywhere Willow was.

“Jibril! Good to see you. How can I help?”

“Hello, Willow. I was wondering if I could borrow your rock? I need it to get your sister.”

“Cierra?” The girl looked up from her book. “Where has she gone off to?”

“She’s just gone off riding again.”

Willow turned around and said, “Cierra really likes horseback riding. We have a stable of horses, but it’s not anywhere near the entrance to the Underground.”

“Horses? That’s cool!”

“And where do you come from, miss?” I said to her. “What group of elves do you belong to, if not the elves of the Underground?”

“I’m from the United States. Cleveland, Ohio, to be exact. I’m Melissa, by the way.”

“Jibril. Pleased to meet you.”

I shook her hand while Willow was searching his room. I looked down at Melissa curiously. There was something about her that was very suspicious. I wondered what secret she was hiding.

“Here you go.” Willow handed me his rock. “Please bring it back as soon as you are done with it.”

“Oh, I will.”

It was snowing on the plains when I teleported. The cold winds of winter had already come and engulfed Parcia in a swirl of frost. I saw Cierra in the distance. Her silhouette was painted against the sky as she rode her favorite horse. He was a handsome gray creature named Bjorn and he ran gracefully even as his hooves thundered against the ground.

I put my hands around my mouth and yelled her name. She turned to look at me and leaned forward to speak to her horse. Cierra knew her horses so well that she could ride bareback and without reins, but still maintain control of them. Bjorn trotted towards me and she dismounted.

“Jibril, what is it? You look troubled.”

“Stefan looks worse, believe me. I just don’t understand why you go off on these rides when you should be taking charge of the Underground. You might physically be a child still, but you’re expected to grow up now and take care of your responsibilities. You’re a mother of thousands now and they need tending to, your children.”

“I’m a responsible person, Jibril,” she said fiercely. “These rides are not flights of fancy. I go away so that I can think about what I must do. You cannot imagine the decisions I have to make. It’s not easy for me and sometimes I need to go somewhere quiet where I can hear myself think.”

“I apologize, my lady. It’s not my place to criticize your actions. Stefan sent me here to get you because he needs you right now. I think it would be best if you went to him.”

“Then I will go to him.” She climbed back on her horse. “Go back, Bjorn!”

Dust stirred from the ground as the horse galloped away, carrying the Leader of the Underground on his back. I watched them go and then teleported to the Underground. After I stopped by Willow’s room to return to him the rock I had borrowed, I went to my own room.

The room was plain and empty except for a small bed and a chest of drawers that held all of my clothes and other possessions. I didn’t have much, but I didn’t need much either. I opened the second drawer and pulled out something wrapped in packing paper. I set it on my bed and then removed the paper, revealing a wide bowl made out of blue glass. Seeing glass. It was a magical object that would turn any water inside of it to seeing water. Seeing water would allow whoever held the bowl to communicate with anyone else who owned a seeing bowl.

I grabbed a pitcher and hurried down the hall to the bathroom to fill it with water from the sink. When I got back to the room, I pushed the packing paper aside and poured in a liberal amount of water before taking the small basin in my hands.

“Lady Catherine! Lady Catherine!” I said as I looked into the water.

My eyes bored into the still waters, but there was no response even after fifteen minutes of waiting.

She must be busy, I thought to myself.

I sighed and left the room. Soon it would be time for me to go on duty again. In the meantime, I thought I would stop by Ruoka Hall for some food. I halted when I heard a voice coming from one of the rooms.

“Lady Catherine must never know.” I recognized Cierra’s voice and figured she was probably talking to Stefan. “Do you realize how dangerous it would be if she found out that Melissa was half elf? She would go out of her way to kill her. Melissa’s my best friend and my brother loves her. I don’t want anything to happen to her.”

My mouth fell open and I flattened myself against the wall, continuing to listen.

Melissa’s a half elf?!

“If you would like, I can send a guard to stay with her when she is at home.”

“No! She would hate that and her mother doesn’t even know yet. I don’t think she is in dire need of protection at the moment, anyways. Lady Catherine doesn’t know, but we have to keep it that way. I’m trusting you to keep this secret.”

“Of course, Lady Cierra.”

I practically ran back to my room. By the time I was there, I was out of breath and wheezing.

I’m much too old to be running around all the time like this.

The seeing bowl full of water was still on my bed. I hurriedly picked it up and began saying Lady Catherine’s name frantically. She had to be there. She had to hear this.

My heart jumped when her reflection shown in the water.

“Good God, what is it, Jibril?” she said in her beautiful voice that sounded like birdsong. “You tried to reach me twice in an hour? Why?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, my lady, but this time it’s actually important. I just received a piece of news that I think you’ll find truly interesting.”

“Alright, alright, what is it already? I have things to do that are more important than talking to you.”

“Melissa is a half elf.”

She frowned and said, “What did you say? Who is a what?”

“Melissa, Willow’s lady friend that he’s been hanging around with a lot – she’s a half elf. Not an elf. Not a human. A half elf. I thought you might want to know that.”

She exhaled slowly. She hadn’t blinked in a full minute.

“You were right to think that. From whom did you hear this… Delicious piece of news?”

“From Lady Cierra. That is –! Cierra.”

“My daughter Cierra?” she sneered. “The one who has sought to replace me? How clever of her to say this where you could overhear her.”

“No one knows, my lady. They all think it’s safe in the Underground to say anything they please.”

“How advantageous for me.” She smiled maliciously. “Well done, Jibril. You have proven yourself to be a useful ally.”

“Of course you are welcome, my lady. I am glad to be of use. Where are you right now, my lady?”

I sat down on the edge of my bed and continued to stare at the reflection of the woman to whom I had pledged my loyalty.

“That I cannot tell you, Jibril. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel it is relevant or necessary to divulge that. For all I know, you could be a double agent and I can’t take that kind of risk. What I will tell you, though, is that I will definitely be venturing soon to the city of Cleveland, Ohio, to pay our little red haired friend a visit.”

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