Chapter 5: Wizards
Zoey tapped on one of the tinted glass bottles hanging on a string from the ceiling, wondering what it contained. Chanel had brought her to hers and Felix’s home, under a huge oak tree in the Woods of Istar. Very few people knew how to get in. The secret entrance was at the base of the tree and pulling on a certain branch would open it, leading to a staircase that spiraled down into the main room of the house where the girls waited for Felix and Elias now.
“What’s in this one?” Zoey wondered, tapping the bottle again then joked, “Eye of newt?”
“No,” Chanel smiled, clearing off the huge table of papers and quipped, “Hair of toad.”
Zoey froze and slowly turned to her with wide eyes and Chanel giggled, making the red head laugh as well, realizing she was joking. Zoey walked toward the table as Chanel spread a huge piece of parchment with scribbles on it across the wooden surface.
“What’s this?” Zoey asked, leaning a hand on the table as she stood next to Chanel.
“Spells,” the sorceress replied, still looking at the parchment. “I know Felix already gave you some of them. This is the whole list.”
Zoey’s eyes widened as she stared at the parchment. There had to be hundreds of spells in this list! She couldn’t possibly learn all of them!
A creaking sound from the top of the stairs made them jump and Chanel straightened when they faced the steps.
“Chanel?” Felix called from the top step. “Are you here?”
“Yes!” Chanel called back. “Zoey is here as well! We’re both safe.”
They heard quickened bootsteps hurrying down the stairs and Zoey grinned when she saw Elias racing down to meet them, Felix calmly descending behind him. Zoey bolted toward Elias and they threw their arms around each other in a tight hug.
“I’m so glad you’re safe,” he whispered into her hair.
“Of course I am, thanks to Chanel,” she murmured, stepping back only slightly to look up at him. “I’m glad you’re safe.”
“Thanks to Felix,” he smirked. “The Marshall Twins saved us.” Zoey giggled as Felix passed by them, smirking at the two and Elias whispered to her, “I need to talk to you—”
“Oh, Chanel,” Felix called, drawing Zoey’s attention as well as his sister’s. “I almost forgot. We bumped into someone on the way here.”
Elias gave a chuckle, making Zoey frown at him as Felix turned to the stairs, calling, “You can come down now!”
The four turned to the stairs to see a male in a similar royal blue robe as Felix’s heading down the stairs, slowly. He had short, black hair and deep blue, almost black, eyes, and like all sorcerers, there was a ring on amber around the outside of the irises of his eyes.
“Qu-Quinto!” Chanel choked then cleared her throat to ask, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, that’s a fine ‘hello,’ Chanel,” Quinto smirked in a deep voice as he approached the group.
“Zoey,” Felix called and she pulled away from Elias to stand next to him instead. “This is General Quinto Zeller. He commands our Wizard army. General, this is Zoey Walsh.”
“General Zeller,” Zoey nodded, holding out a hand to shake. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise, Miss Walsh,” Quinto nodded, taking her hand and turning it to place an extremely chaste kiss to the back of it. “It’s certainly an honor to come face to face with the Savior of Kalina.”
“Uh…yeah,” Zoey nodded, making Elias look to her in wonder as Quinto lowered her hand and looked to Chanel as she hesitantly approached.
“It’s…nice to see you again, Quinto,” she murmured, wringing her hands.
“It’s nice to see you, Chanel,” he smiled, pulling one of her hands from the other’s grip and placed a lingering kiss upon it with his eyes closed, making her blush, deeply and when he finally lowered her hand he smiled again, “Always a pleasure.”
“Quinto,” Felix called with a tight, irritated smile, slapping the young wizard’s back as he stepped next to him. “What news of your camp at the edge of the woods? Have they seen any action yet?”
“Some,” Quinto nodded, walking with Felix toward the chairs lining the huge table. “Aberdene showed up a few days ago with some of his werewolf ranks. We neutralized his attack quickly. There are a few statues out there that might frighten small children.”
Chanel giggled as the men sat and Quinto gave her a wink.
“We met him on the road on the way here,” Elias chimed in, sitting as well. “He was with Jasper.”
“Well,” Zoey smiled, placing her hands on her hips. “I have a feeling these boys are going to start telling war stories now.” She turned to Chanel and asked, “Mind if I ask for a tour of your fine home?”
“I think you’re right,” Chanel laughed and the girls walked down the hall, leaving the men at the table to continue their conversation.
“What did Faolan want with you, Elias?” Quinto wondered.
“It wasn’t me he was after,” Elias replied in a dark tone. “He was after Zoey.”
“Has she learned to use magic yet?” Quinto inquired.
“More quickly than you ever understood it and you were born a wizard,” Felix chuckled, earning a glare from the Wizard General. “However, she’s only using the basics. She’ll need a little more help in refining her abilities. I can teach her so much, but my place is here. You’ll need to keep up her training, Quinto.”
Quinto’s eyes widened at the older wizard and wondered, “You want me to teach her?!”
“Felix, are you thinking quite rationally?” Elias demanded.
“You’ve been taught be me, Quinto,” Felix assured the younger wizard, ignoring Elias for a moment. “I taught you the correct methods and skills. All you need do is teach Zoey how to control her power. You excel at that bit, even more than myself.”
Quinto stared wide eyes at his former teacher in disbelief before giving a sigh and nodding, “I only hope I can be as great a teacher as you were, Felix.”
“I’m sure you will be,” Felix nodded. “But you won’t need to worry about that just yet. She’ll be staying here tonight. There are a few things I wish to teach her myself.”
“Zoey,” Chanel whispered. “We really shouldn’t be eavesdropping like this!”
The girls had made themselves invisible and were standing at the edge of the hall, listening to the men.
“Guys will say things amongst themselves they wouldn’t say around…females,” Zoey explained. “I just wanna see if they say anything juicy.”
Chanel frowned at her in wonder but Zoey turned back to the conversation, careful not to make anymore noise.
“What else could she possibly need to learn?” Elias inquired to Felix.
“More spells,” he replied. “I gave her all that she would need to survive, but she could use more in her fight with Jellina.”
“Do you think she can defeat the Mor Witch?” Quinto wondered.
“She could be powerful enough to do so, yes,” Felix nodded.
“What about killing Jellina?” Elias murmured, darkly.
Zoey shivered at his cold tone of voice as she shot a wide-eyed stare of disbelief at him.
“Quinto,” Felix called, not yet answering Elias. “Go find the girls. I need to talk to General Blackwood privately for a moment.”
Quinto frowned between the two but nodded and Zoey’s heart raced in panic when he stood and headed toward the hall.
“This sounds important,” Chanel whispered. “‘Juicy,’ as you would say. You stay here and I’ll take care of Quinto.”
Chanel reappeared just as Quinto rounded the corner and into the hall.
“Hello, Chanel,” he smiled, his eyes lighting p before he glanced around with a slight frown. “Where is Miss Walsh?”
“We’re…playing a game!” Chanel grinned. “She’s somewhere in the house! We have to find her! Come help me!”
She grabbed Quinto’s hand and dragged him down the hall before he could protest as Zoey stayed silent, turning back to the man in the main room.
“Why do you want Jellina dead so badly?” Felix ground out.
“What else can I do?” Elias replied, standing and running a hand through his thick hair. He stepped behind the chair he’d been sitting in and grasped the back of it until his knuckles turned white. “She took Eona away from me.”
“You are not the only one that misses her,” Felix snapped. “We can bring Eona back. All that needs to be done is simple. One spell will bring her back…a spell that Zoey can use. She can become powerful enough in no time to use it.”
“I know,” Elias mumbled.
“You know, yet you still want Jellina dead?” Felix ground out, slowly standing.
“I’d rather her die than live with what she’s done,” Elias shot back, shoving the chair out of the way, viciously before marching up to Felix and stopping within an inch of his face to look him in the eye. “You of all people should know what kind of nightmares a good person can have when they come back. You were there when it happened to me.”
Zoey panicked when Elias turned and marched toward the hall. She reappeared and pretended as if she’d been heading down the hall when he rounded into it.
“There you are, Elias!” she grinned then ran behind him as he stopped.
“What are you doing?” he wondered, looking over one shoulder after the other to see her.
“You have to hide me,” Zoey whispered. “I’m playing a game with Chanel, but she can’t find me or I lose!”
“Why don’t you make yourself disappear with magic?” Elias inquired.
Zoey frowned then looked up at him and replied, “I hadn’t thought of that!”
Elias couldn’t help but chuckle at her as he turned to face her and she looked up at him with wide eyes.
“What is it?” she wondered, but he only shook his, a warm smile gracing his lips and the same warm glow in his eyes.
“I found you, Zoey!”
The two jumped and Elias whirled around in surprise to see Chanel running toward them, Quinto behind her.
“I knew I would,” she grinned with a wink and stepped next to her, Quinto right behind her.
“Sister?” Felix called to Chanel, stepping toward them. “Why don’t you show Zoey and Elias to our guest room? They’ll be spending the night here.”
“Of course, brother!” Chanel grinned and grabbed Zoey’s hand to pull her down the hall as Felix stepped next to Elias. “I’m so glad you’re staying tonight! We’re going to be great friends, I know it!”
Zoey wasn’t paying attention, only making a sound of approval as she stared at Elias and Felix talking. Just before Chanel had expressed her happiness about Zoey spending the night, Zoey had heard her Masked Protector say something to Felix that she had a feeling she wasn’t meant to hear.
“I believe I’m falling in love with her, Felix.”
“She learns quickly,” Felix told Elias as they stood in the threshold of one of the guest rooms, staring at Zoey as she slept.
“Good,” Elias nodded, leaning on one side of the doorframe with Felix leaning on the other side in front of him. “She’ll save us in no time, then.”
“Be careful, General Blackwood,” Felix warned. “The sooner she saves us the sooner she leaves.”
Elias shot a wide-eyed stare of disbelief to Felix, wondering, “What makes you think she’ll leave?”
“Chanel told me that every time she asked Zoey about her family or friends, she would stare off, sadly into the distance and speak in a sad tone,” Felix explained, facing Elias. “She misses her home, Elias. Her real home.”
“She may miss it, but that doesn’t mean she’ll leave,” Elias argued.
“What makes you think she’ll stay?” Felix retorted, making Elias sigh as he looked back at Zoey.
“She may grow to like it here, the way I did,” Elias murmured.
“You left nothing behind,” Felix reminded him. “You told me yourself your parents died and you had no siblings or other family. She, on the other hand, left a mother, a sister, and friends in America. Why would she stay?”
Elias set his jaw in irritation, knowing he was right, but not wanting to admit it as he looked back to Zoey. This was why he hadn’t wanted to fall in love with her, because he knew, either she wouldn’t return his feelings, or she would leave him.
“Leave me be, Felix,” Elias finally muttered. “You’re depressing me too much tonight.”
“I’m only telling you what could happen,” Felix replied, standing tall to walk to his room. “The silver lining to this black cloud is that we don’t know what she’s truly thinking or feeling. There’s a chance that she might stay, but be prepared if she doesn’t.”
Felix walked off and Elias sighed tiredly, leaning his head back on the doorframe.
She can sing, he thought, starting list all the things he loved about her. She’s smart, a fast learner, unpredictable… He sighed again, still watching her as he continued, and I can’t live without her.
He pushed off the wall and into the room to kneel down next to the bed and stared at Zoey. Her fire red locks were spread out behind her head on the pillow, her lips slightly parted as her sleeping hands held the edge of the blanket under her chin. Elias gently moved a strand of hair from her face then resumed his staring as she slept on. Unable to help himself, he began humming a soft tune then started the words, quietly, hoping she wouldn’t wake up.
No such luck.
Zoey had woken up when he began his song but she remained still and kept her eyes closed. Was this another dream? He was singing to her, but his voice sounded different than the first time she had heard him in the forest. He sounded so sad, and the song he was singing sounded the same way. It took all Zoey had in her not to move or say a word. She wanted to stop him and cheer him up however she could. She felt Elias’s hand gently stroke her hair, making her smile and he froze, his hand tensing as he stared at her, expectantly.
“Don’t wake up,” he whispered. “Please don’t wake up.”
She stirred, pretending to be asleep and groaned softly but didn’t open her eyes.
“Elias…” she whispered, as if dreaming.
He sighed with a small smile and leaned toward her to press an innocent yet lingering kiss on her forehead before standing and leaving the room the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Zoey fell back to sleep quickly, hoping she dreamt of him again.
A Few Hours Later...
Elias sat outside Zoey’s door, his sword at his side. He hadn’t gotten any sleep for at least two nights now and he was worn out. He nodded off without meaning to and fell asleep not too long after. He was awakened by a scream from inside Zoey’s room and quickly jumped up, running inside with his sword drawn.
“Zoey?!” he called, looking around the room and found her sitting up in the bed in a cold sweat, trying to catch her breath.
“Elias,” she breathed. “It was a horrible nightmare!”
Elias sighed in relief and sheathed his sword as he made his way to the bed and sat next to her. She threw herself into his arms and buried her face into the curve of his neck as he wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly.
“What was it this time, little one?” he murmured.
“I saw that werewolf general stab you with that spear of his!” she sobbed, pulling him closer. “I saw him kill you!”
“Even in the short time we’ve spent together, I would think that by now you would know it takes a lot more than just a flesh wound to kill me,” Elias smirked.
“This was no ‘flesh wound,’ Elias!” Zoey snapped, looking up at him. “He stabbed you in the heart!”
His smile dropped and he sighed as she lowered her forehead to his shoulder again.
“You should rest,” he whispered. “I’m sure Felix has more planned for you tomorrow before we leave for Quinto’s camp.”
He let her go and moved to get up, but she pulled him back by the sleeve, making him look back at her in wonder.
“Stay with me?” she whispered. “My dreams will probably be…sweeter if you’re with me.”
Elias’s heart fluttered, but he managed to sputter, “A-Alright, little one.
He laid down, pulling the covers over him as he kicked off his boots. She curled up into his arms and snuggled her head under his chin. He smiled as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, unable to help snuggling her closer.
“Elias?” she whispered.
“Yes?” he replied.
“What…are the things you did that give you nightmares?”
Silence followed her question. She knew she was taking a huge chance when she had asked him that, but her curiosity was getting the better of her.
“Perhaps I’ll tell you another time, Zoey,” he finally murmured after a time. “It’s nothing for you to know about now.”
Zoey bit her lip in thought. She could tell he was lying, and had no intention of telling her about it, ever. Coming to a decision she shifted and sat up, making Elias sit up with her in concern.
“Elias,” she murmured, making him shift closer to her and wrap his arms around her again. “I want to tell you a bit more about me life.”
“You don’t have to, Zoey,” he murmured, lifting a hand to stroke her cheek with the back of his fingers.
“I want to,” she smiled, unable to help snuggling into his hand. She took his hand and wrapped it around her as she turned and leaned back against him as they still sat up.
“When I was around ten, I wasn’t really aware of the problems mom and dad were having,” she began. “They fought mostly because dad was out late at night and didn’t come home until the next morning. Pretty soon, mom found out he was having an affair with another woman that was half mom’s age. Mid-life crisis, mom called it. Mom kicked him out just before my eleventh birthday. Since then I didn’t have a father.”
Elias remained silent, setting his cheek on top of her head as she played with his long fingers.
“I used to think it was my fault dad left until mom told me that,” Zoey continued. “Everybody has something in their past that they’re not proud of. Skeletons in the closet, as we say where I come from.”
“My skeletons are far too frightening for you to see, my dear,” Elias murmured into her hair, realizing what she was trying to ask.
“That doesn’t matter to me, Elias,” she murmured in return. “I want…to share everything with you. Happy, sad, frightening, exhilarating…” She sat up enough to look back at him, his arm still around her shoulders. “And I’d eventually like you to trust me enough to show me why you where that mask.”
Elias swallowed as he saw the determination in her eyes and smiled, pulling her closer by her shoulders to press a kiss to her cheek. Zoey shut her eyes as he lingered there and she nearly melted before he pulled away and laid back down, holding his arms toward her. She smiled down at him and laid down to snuggle into his arms again, sighing in relaxation.
“Sweet dreams, Angel of Kalina,” he smirked.
“Sweet dreams to you, Masked Knight of Kalina,” she giggled back.
Elias nearly lost his breath when she called him that. Only one other person had used that nickname for him a long time ago when he had first put the mask over his face. Eona.