Information flowed freely between Amelia and I. She had much to share and many concerns for the welfare and safety of her beloved, Thomas. She was clearly new to the concept of love and I saw in her a reflection of myself in my youth. She was excited and enlivened by the emotions and embraces that she shared with Thomas – her Guardian. Her pregnancy left me jealous, but hopeful that miracles could always occur when you had magic on your side…and I did now. The Guardians trusted my advice and guidance. They were keen to learn and appropriately thankful of my assistance in their cause. My contact with the triplets remained limited, but both Thomas and his mother were frequent visitors. I was honoured to have captured the interest of Elizabeth and found in her a great friend; someone who understood me because she had lived through similar ordeals and in a similar time. Granted, she had been able to maintain her existence in Europe, but like me, she had felt the wrath of Morgan and Marcus. She had lost siblings and parents at their hand, she had lost the love of her life for centuries and she had discovered her magic later in life too. Elizabeth was so much like me that we could have been sisters. When her son sent her to me as the Blacksmith and the vessel for the Flame of Love, I was not surprised that she would be worthy of roles so important to the success of this fight. Until that day, our communications had been brief and not personal, but as occurs when two women are put in a room together for a long period of time, the sharing begins. She told me of her hardships and her great joy in being reunited with Adam; the magic that had allowed her to conceive nine children and the great delight and terrible fear she experienced in being the mother of the Guardians. She shared with me her hopes and dreams for their futures and, perhaps darkest of all, her plan to keep them safe.
“Elizabeth, such a course of action would see you lost from this realm,” I had advised her when she had revealed her intention to make her children stronger.
“That may be so, but they are my children and it is my duty to protect the Light: Isölde, they are the Light!”
“You would lose yourself…they would lose you as their guide and tether, are you sure that such a decision is wise?” I asked her, astounded at her decision.
Elizabeth’s intention to link her essence into the talismans that we were creating was generous, but it would kill her in no short order – I had no doubt of that. The more talismans she made, the greater the drain on her magic and her life essence. Elizabeth was setting herself a death sentence and she had convinced me that it would be the wisest thing to do given rising power of her adversary.
“Tell me of your role in this adventure, Isölde,” she asked, “what bought you to us?”
It was then my turn to reveal the loves lost and hardships I had faced at the hands of Marcus, Morgan and Tristan. Elizabeth worked the silver while she listened to my story. She asked me questions about William and each of the Tristans. I found myself spilling my soul to her. I talked about my love for William and how he was taken from me, about my heartbreak when our child was lost and that dream ripped to shreds by the invasion of Marcus. How I was, effectively, sold into prostitution and held there with magic and then how I had escaped but later been discovered by Tristan and how that had led me here.
“I am sorry, that we must have caused you pain when we killed him,” she apologised.
“Don’t be, you freed me from his curse,” I replied and squeezed her shoulder.
Elizabeth had been the first person to hear my story. She had been the first person that I had been able to share my ordeals and pleasures with. There had never been another vampire in my life that I could talk to like I could with Elizabeth. I hadn’t realised how sad I had been, how alone, until Elizabeth listened to all the pain and suffering that poured from my heart. She was so much younger than me, and yet seemed to have been wisened by her time as a vampire in the torment of this particular wing of the Medici family. She sympathised with me and empathised with me. When finally I revealed Guinevere’s message to me and how I had come to track down her children and offer them my services because I thought that might be the right path, she took my hands in hers.
“I am certain that it is…you have found keepers of the Light, all you need do now is walk through the gate when they open it.”
“I…thank you, Elizabeth.”
“Thank you, Isölde, but I do ask that you see this journey through to its completion. Watch over them, guide them, help them see with wiser, more experienced eyes…my children are headstrong and impulsive and I fear that this journey will need a steady hand and a reasoned voice.”
“I will,” I agreed.
“Do this, and I feel that Guinevere will ensure your path is true, for, dear Isölde, you have been touched by a Guardian and she has left a piece of magic attached to your soul. Your gifts, are her gifts, she saw fit to raise you to a higher station because of the light she saw in you; I, too, see that light, shining out through the shadow in your heart. Steer the course, Isölde, you are almost there.”
Elizabeth’s words would guide and haunt me. I had made a promise to another Guardian and I fully intended to keep both promises. If anything in my long life could give me purpose it was these promises, these debts paid forward. I would do all that I could to keep her children safe and on the right path. I would be a friend and confident for them and I would give them access to the world of potions and elixirs. They might be the gate to my path but I would be a bridge for them. I would help prepare them to fight the demons and follow them through the Darkness on my journey toward the Light.