Logan sat staring at the TV wondering why he was doing
something so mundane after the most incredible few days he’d spent. He’d called
Laurie but it had gone straight to voicemail so he was sitting instead alone
unable to share his day with anyone.
A knock on the door made him jump; it was quickly followed by several more insistent knocks.
“Alright,” Logan sighed, wondering who could have got past the security door at the front of the block, “I’m coming.”
Pulling open the door he frowned to find Arianna standing there soaked to the skin shivering.
“Can I come in?” she asked.
Logan nodded motioning her in quickly he kicked the door shut and ran to grab some towels.
“Here,” Logan handed her them, “Use my room to dry off while I check the spare room for some clothes.”
Arianna nodded slowly as she wandered into the room he pointed to. Logan frowned again, she seemed very different from usual and it worried him. Quickly he went to the spare room and rummaged around to find her something to wear. He pulled out one of his t-shirts and a pair of leggings an ex-girlfriend had left that he hadn’t thrown out. He gently knocked on the door, “Arianna, I’ve got some clothes for you.”
The door opened slightly and a hand appeared through the opening. Logan handed her the clothes and it slammed shut again.
“I’ll make us some tea,” he called to her.
“Coffee please,” came the reply making him smile.
Logan sat waiting for his guest to appear sipping his own
tea. Finally she slid into the room, her head down and sat on the couch curling
up as small as she could.
“I’m sorry about intruding but...” she sighed, “You’re the only other person I know here.”
Logan frowned, “What about Davin?”
“I don’t want to talk to him just now,” she said darkly.
“What happened?” Logan asked softly, “I thought you guys were close.”
Logan moved to sit beside her; gently he touched her cheek, “Arianna, I want to help.”
Arianna looked up into his dark brown eyes, “You have.”
“What happened between you two that meant you went outside in that rain?” Logan asked.
“Did I tell you how Davin and I know each other?” Arianna asked.
Logan shook his head.
“He and my mother were Peacekeepers, partners for years before I was born,” Arianna explained, “Davin was there the moment I was born and throughout my life I always had him and his wife to go to.”
“My mother removed herself from missions when I was born,” Arianna continued, “She wanted to make sure she was always there for me as I had no father. But one day when I was fourteen she told me she had to go on a mission with Davin. It would be the last she ever undertook she promised. She was right just not the way she meant.”
“I’m so sorry,” Logan said sincerely.
Arianna sighed, “The thing is they blocked my memory of it. Davin blocked my memory of it so I wouldn’t try to find out who killed her. How can I forgive him for that?”
“For trying to protect you?”
“For not letting me choose myself,” she snapped back, “Logan, do you have any idea how much I’ve been held back? I should have been elevated to sorceress years ago but they always made excuses for me to remain an apprentice.”
“Why? That makes no sense,” Logan told her.
Arianna shrugged, “I don’t really know. I’ve always wanted to and I keep trying to get them to tell me but all I get is that it’s their decision when to elevate apprentices.”
“I have to admit I find this place really strange,” Arianna
told him as they sat eating; Logan had called the Chinese takeaway down the
road for them.
“The cars are so big and spout off so many chemicals,” she shrugged, “I guess though the fact that we use magic for our vehicles isn’t really a fair comparison.”
“What’s your world like?” Logan asked.
She sighed softly, “We have three cities for those who are human. They’re big but so much cleaner than here.”
“Remember by the time Merlin did the split there were very few sorcerers left,” Arianna said, “Plus there are cities of the others like the elves and fairies. We don’t have anything like planes because we don’t travel much further than the lands we live. If we need to then it’s easier to get a dragon to take you.”
Logan stared at her, “You’re kidding me?”
“That’s for me to know,” she grinned, “I have been privileged to meet a centaur and to get a ride on the back of a unicorn. The unicorn saved my life and took me home. It was amazing.”
“Now I know you’re making fun of me,” Logan told her with a laugh.
Arianna chuckled before sighing, “I should probably head back to the shop. I just hope Davin’s not still awake.”
“I have a spare room,” Logan reminded her, “You can sleep there if you want?”
Arianna stared at him for a few seconds before she smiled, “Thank you.”
Logan could hear Arianna pace the small room next to his; he
was actually getting very worried about her. She had come across annoyingly
arrogant when they’d first met but in the past few days she’d warmed up and
he’d seen the funny, sweet and warm woman she really was.
Discovering the pain in her past had given him an even greater insight into the woman who held his life in her hands. Finally he got out of bed and walked to the spare bedroom. Logan gently knocked on the door.
“Arianna, can I come in?”
As he opened the door he found her sitting cross-legged on the bed looking defeated. Her long blonde hair was pulled back haphazardly at the nape of her neck. Logan sat on the bed at her side.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered, “Logan, I don’t want to dump all my issues on you.”
Logan gently patted her shoulder, “But I’m asking.”
Arianna let out a long sigh, “I just feel that I’ve lost my shield in this. Davin was the one person in this world I had to talk to. I just feel so alone.”
“Hey,” Logan breathed, he wrapped his arms around her and lay her down on the bed, “I’m here for you. Don’t forget that.”
Arianna let out a small sigh as he held her close to him, his arms wrapped around her waist and the warmth of his breath ghosting across her cheek let her sink into a deep sleep so she never noticed when he slid away from her to return to his own bed.
Laurie knocked on Logan’s door. She’d just got his message early this morning and decided to come see him before she had to interview for a few new bar staff.
“Hey?” Logan stared at her confused, “Is something wrong?”
“You called me last night,” Laurie rolled her eyes, “Remember?”
Logan frowned a little before nodding, “Oh yeah. You didn’t have to come here so early this morning.”
“Well I...” Laurie trailed off as Arianna appeared behind Logan, her hair wrapped in a towel, “Hi?”
“Hello,” Arianna said softly before she turned to Logan a little shyly, “The showers free.”
Logan nodded as she disappeared before he turned back to Laurie who was staring at him in horror.
“Are you insane?” she whispered, making sure her voice didn’t carry, “Logan, do not fall for her.”
Logan rolled his eyes, “I’m not.”
“Oh please,” Laurie retorted, “I know you too well. This is your pattern with women.”
Logan’s eyes narrowed, “She needed a friend and I let her sleep in the spare room. There is nothing else going on.”
As he finished speaking the door to the spare room opened and Arianna walked out, the shy look was gone and she looked all business.
“Logan, thanks for helping me,” Arianna stated, “I have to get back to work.”
He nodded and caught her arm, “If you need to talk again...”
As he trailed off Laurie saw a gentle smile touch Arianna’s lips before she disappeared leaving them standing at Logan’s front door.
“Come in,” Logan grimaced pulling his friend inside.
Laurie loved Logan like a brother but she’d watched him go
through relationships like most people go through socks. She knew from Davin
that Arianna was not someone he should be getting involved with, she knew that
this woman was involved in something very dangerous as well as once it was
finished she’d be leaving.
“She needed a friend,” Logan defended himself again; “I let her stay here so she didn’t have to go back when she didn’t want to talk to Davin.”
“And that’s it?”
“That’s it,” Logan retorted.
Laurie sighed, “Logan, I’m sorry if you think I’m being judgemental but I know that she’s leaving as soon as they’ve finished whatever they’re doing.”
Logan opened his mouth to say something when someone knocked on the door interrupting them.
“Who can that be?” he sighed, opening the door he caught sight of Holston for a second before light blinded him.
Arianna took a deep breath before she walked into the
bookstore, Davin turned to look at her the moment she walked in.
“Morning,” he greeted her softly.
“Morning,” Arianna replied.
“Where were you?”
Arianna sighed, “I stayed with Logan.”
“Davin, I am a grown woman,” Arianna reminded him, “Besides he’s the only friend I’ve made.”
Davin grimaced but didn’t say anything else about where she’d stayed the night.
“Orlas mentioned that we may need to read a few of the Sanctity books,” Davin changed the subject, “I’ve been going through them as best I can but I need you to look since you have the right kind of magic to find any secret instructions.”
Arianna took a seat at the table near the back of the shop with the two books he’d set out for her. Sitting down she started to scan the information in front of her, Arianna had spent a lot of her time in the Peacekeepers studying so she could take in a lot of information very quickly. It also meant she could avoid talking to Davin directly at the moment. The memory of losing her mother was something she’d buried for a long time and the sudden resurgence of that anger was something she was trying her best to smother until she’d completed her mission. It just wasn’t that easy to do.
Arianna looked up surprised as a mug of coffee was set in front of her, “Thanks.”
“Have you found anything yet?” Davin asked.
“One or two mentions of the red and green stones finding their own environments but let’s face it,” she sighed, “That could mean anything.”
Davin grimaced, “Okay, for red that could mean a fire of some kind.”
“It could also mean a volcano or a church with a lot of candles,” Arianna slammed the book shut.
“Arianna,” Davin handed her another book; “I did some digging myself and found this. It’s talking about the merging of stones. Do you remember the children’s story about the three birds?”
“Yeah, it was about how each bird protected the stone like an egg,” Arianna replied, “So you want me to look for a bird sitting on a magic stone?”
“The moral of the story, Arianna,” Davin rolled his eyes at her, “It was that the stones would appear wherever you wouldn’t expect them to.”
“But where you might,” she sat up thoughtfully, “The blue stone turned up in ‘therapists’ practice. Red and Green, one is fire and one is Earth. What in this culture is represented by both of those?”
Before Davin could answer the phone rang, “Keep working on that.”
Arianna grimaced and sipped her coffee as she thought over the puzzle they had. Davin appeared at her side looking worried as he handed her the phone.
“It’s for you,” Davin replied grimly.
Confused Arianna took the phone, “Hello?”
“Skylar,” Holston’s voice came over the phone, “I have something you might be interested in because you have something I am definitely interested in.”
“What do you want, Holston?”
A dark chuckle came over the phone as Davin hit speakerphone so they could both hear.
“I want the blue gem,” Holston replied.
“And you think I’m going to pass something that powerful over to you?” Arianna laughed at him.
“Well, if you want your friends to live,” Holston told them, “You will bring me it.”
Arianna and Davin shared a worried look, “What friends?”
“I’ll let them tell you,” Holston said before another voice came over the phone.
“Logan?” worry seeped into Arianna’s voice.
“Don’t do anything he wants,” Logan called before a cry of pain came making her grip the table in anger.
“The woman with him isn’t too happy that I’ve brought them here,” Holston continued.
“Laurie,” Arianna mouthed to Davin.
“You have one hour to bring me what I want,” Holston told her, “Or I kill both of them.”
Arianna’s jaw firmed in annoyance, “Where are you?”
“Arianna, you can’t just go barging in there,” Davin snapped
as she grabbed her jacket, “He’s not going to do a straight swap.”
“That’s good because I’m not giving him the blue gem,” she replied, “But I’m not going to let anything happen to Logan and Laurie.”
Davin frowned, “Then I’m coming too. I’ll back you up.”
She nodded, “At least we don’t have to worry about a magical attack from him but who knows what actual physical weapons he has.”
“You keep a shield up,” Davin reminded her as they started towards the car, “Do you think you can do a flip spell on three of you?”
“As long as I can get to them,” she replied, “Okay, that’s a plan. I’ll get in grab them and flip us outside to the car.”
“Just be careful,” Davin said as he started driving, “Holston’s not stupid.”
Arianna nodded, “Just extremely irritating.”
Arianna walked towards the house Holston had told her to
come to, she’d already spotted three guards since she’d turned the corner into
the street. She was angry, mostly at herself for not thinking that Holston
would do something after she came after him. Now Logan and Laurie were in
danger when she had been trying so hard to protect civilian casualties.
Reaching the door she knocked three times, slowly and carefully to let him know she was not in a good mood. As he opened the door Holston grinned at her.
“Skylar,” he said, “Let me see it.”
“I’m not stupid,” Arianna replied, “Take me to them first and then I show you the gem.”
Holston laughed before motioning her inside, “Come with me, Peacekeeper.”
Arianna walked into the house softly murmuring the spell to create a shield around her to protect herself from a knife in the back at least. Finally they reached a door and Holston walked into the room, Arianna let out a very soft sigh of relief as she saw Logan and Laurie standing in the back corner.
“Come on in,” Holston told her, “You can see your friends haven’t been hurt.”
Arianna walked in behind him but as she took a few steps inside she was struck by several bolts of lightning, Arianna cried out as her shield dropped and she fell to the ground.
“Sorry, Skylar,” Holston laughed as he stood over her, “I knew you’d never bring the gem but that’s not what I want. I want you dead.”
Arianna glared at him trying to get her breath back to retort but before she could the door opened again and Davin was forced into the room.
“And there isn’t a rescue coming for you,” Holston laughed as he lifted another of his artefacts, “Pity you finally got the promotion you wanted so I could get rid of you once and for all.”