To learn that they were simply failed versions of the mages she'd come to know was heartbreaking to her, but also confusing. If they had been created hundreds of years ago, why were they still around? When she asked the mages, none of them had an answer, and she figured out who she had to go to in order to find an answer- Darkside.
It took her some time to figure out how she'd find the Darkside warlocks again. Charlotte had found Otto merely by accident since he had been banging on the trapdoor underneath the living room. Perhaps it would be simple to go back down the trapdoor to find him again, but the mages were always around and she didn't want them to be suspicious.
They didn't like Darkside, for some reason, and that meant they obviously wouldn't want her to go anywhere near those six, even if they had the answers they all needed. There was no other way to go around the mages, since there were now ten of them who were constantly around the house. Of all ten, three mages became attached to her side and refused to let her out of their sights.
Of course, she was talking about Mika, Mark, and Percy. After the incident involving her locking herself in her room for a day, they refused to let her out of their sight. It was slightly annoying to have them watch her every movement, but she found it more endearing than anything. Mika and Mark were always the closest to her, and it seemed like Percy himself had let his guard down around her.
When someone knocked on her door and let himself in, she was still in bed with her head in her hands. She had another dream, though she wasn't willing to get into it just yet, so knowing she had company surprised her.
"Are you alright?" Nico's voice was laced with what sounded like worry and the faintest trace of hesitance.
Looking up at him, she noticed he wasn't alone and that Nero was right behind him with Dale in the back. The other two mages shared a glance before Dale smiled and stepped out of the room.
"I'll gather the others."
Nero took in a slow breath and shut the door behind him and Nico, crossing over to her bed and taking a seat at the edge of it. After looking over at Nero, he smiled and reached out for her, slowly running his fingers through the strands of her hair.
"The ten of us were planning to go out for a bit. We know this town is in the middle of nowhere, but we haven't been able to see much of the world around us."
Charlotte felt guilty, since she should have seen that coming and made it possible for the lot of them to explore while they had the chance. Sensing her guilt, Nico walked over to the bed as well and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Don't feel so bad. At least this will give you time to find those warlocks."
She nodded slowly and took in a deep breathe before his words actually clicked in her head, and she looked up at Nico in surprise. How had he known she was going to go to Darkside?
"Magical beings have a specific aura around them. You smelled like Darkside did when they had returned after finding Ang." Nico explained with a shrug, and then he walked out of the room to find the other mages.
"Good luck." Nero grinned as he stood as well, but before he left, he leaned down and kissed her forehead.
"You too." It only came out as a whisper as she found herself surprised by the kiss. After being kissed by Angelo, a kiss on the forehead was nothing. Well, obviously it wasn't nothing, as it caused her cheeks to burn and her eyes to drop to her hands. Nero was warm, and his kiss felt like a burst of protection had come over her.
It gave her the determination she needed to go and find Darkside for real, and with a nod to herself, she made her way to the living room, and finally to the trapdoor leading to the strange basement.
When she had gotten down there, the light was on, but she couldn't tell if Otto had done that or if she had simply left the light on after the last time. It was exactly as it was the last time she had been there, and as she walked over to the bookshelf, she hoped that she didn't climb down here for no reason. Thankfully, the bookshelf moved aside like it did when Otto had first led her, and she followed the long and dimly lit hallway.
The walk to the strangely decorated room was a lot shorter than she remembered, and before long, she found herself faced with the mages of Darkside, though Otto and Gera were off to one corner like they had been the last time she joined them.
"She's here." Luca muttered, his head dropping back onto the couch he was laying on. The other four gave each other sly grins and then were jumping on Luca's defenseless body.
"They're all the same.” She shook her head and stepped around the pile of warlocks to get to Otto and Gera, both of whom were looking at her and then gesturing to an empty chair. She took the seat they offered and looked up at them with her arms crossed in suspicion, "You knew I was coming."
Gera gave her a condescending look before he took a step back and leaned against the wall, "You seemed to forget I see your future."
"Then do you know why I've come back here?” She asked, narrowing her eyes at Gera. Charlotte knew they had the answers to all the questions she had about her mages, but whether they'd tell her or not would be another story.
The two warlocks looked at each other and then Otto cleared his throat, "We assumed you'd have more questions for us."
They were right and they knew it. She took a deep breath and looked down at her lap as she tried to form a question. There was so much going on in her head that it was hard to put it into words, but she knew they were waiting.
"My mages said that the creatures attacking the towns are failed versions of people like them.” She looked up at them to see the twinkle of recognition cross both males' gazes, "Is it true?"
"It's true." Gera closed his eyes as he spoke, and his voice sounded choked as he answered, "They took anyone with properties similar to the mages you know and infused power from the Gems of Eternity into them. They had been drunk on power and deserved to have their plans backfire, but those men and women didn't deserve it."
Otto crossed the small space separating himself and Gera and rubbed the other warlock's back, "They had taken Gera's mortal brother as one of their test subjects. He became one of those creatures the world is fending off."
"We were told they were just aliens.” She muttered, though her gaze had fixed itself on Gera. He looked as if he were going to cry, but the rest of his body was quaking in anger, "There's just something I don't get. If you're all saying that they were created around the time my mages got their powers, why are they still around?"
“Because they're still trying." Gera's voice was bitter and full of vile, and though it cracked, she could feel the years of hatred he contained in his voice, "The military saw those creatures as a way to keep civilians under control."
She was going to ask where they got the humans from in order to create more of them when she realized something. The military was what funded and trained all the warriors in towns across the globe. When a warrior became so skilled that they received high ranking and titles, they would be whisked away to fight on the frontlines and they'd never see them again.
"You mean people like me, who are trained to fight for our planet are the ones that are fighting to destroy it?” She was angry, confused, and she felt like the whole world was betraying her as she saw Otto nod his head in somber agreement. Charlotte thought of Senior Leo, then, and she could feel her stomach churning because he was almost at the level where they'd take him away and turn him into what they all feared. Finally, she thought of her ancestors and felt her hands clenched as disgust washed over her, "What about my ancestors? What part did they play in all of this?"
Otto didn't seem like he wanted to tell her for a moment, but after Gera nodded his head subtly, Otto sighed and took a step forward, "There were three sisters. Sienna, Elena, and Kira. Sienna was a brilliant scientist and worked closely with the Freedom Corporation's project with the Gems of Eternity. On the other hand, Elena and Kira were born sorceresses and the most powerful during that age. While Sienna formulated the plan and gathered all the prospective males, Elena weakened them using mental spells and made them so desperate to get away from her that they'd accept the powers and the torture from Kira as she infused the power from the tree into them."
"That was back then, right? Who's making them now?” She couldn't believe that there were three of her ancestors involved in turning this world into a mess. Three ancestors that ripped a sibling from Gera's life, and three ancestors that destroyed her mage's lives.
"Like all magical beings, sorceresses don't die." Otto answered, his arms now crossed over his chest in a thoughtful manner, "Sienna died before she could perfect the serum that gave your mages their powers. Her sisters then took control of those twelve lives and turned them into the worst, and finally hid them away when they were no more of use. The sorceress sisters hid away, then, and we believe they started working with the military in order to keep themselves powerful and alive."
"I need to find them.” She spoke through gritted teeth, standing up from her seat and already walking to the tunnel she had come from, but Gera's hand on her arm stopped her.
"You can't. At least not while the mages are still locked in those rings." Gera sighed then, and seeing her confusion, he let go of her arm, "They have complete control of those mages as long as they're attached to those rings."
With new found determination and the kind of hatred she never expected from herself, she nodded and walked right into the tunnel, "Then it's a good thing I only have two left to find."
She already knew what she had to do in order to free those mages. The spell book Otto and Gera had once given to her had those instructions written in it, but there was no way for her to continue with it so long as she didn't have all twelve mages. That brought the next question of why that spell was written in the same spell book used to put those mages in their rings, but that answer would have to wait. When she climbed back into the living room, the mages were still gone, and she grinned when she saw the map placed conveniently on the coffee table.
Sure enough, one of the mages she hadn't found yet was placed at home- at her castle. How she missed it before was beyond her, but her eyes trailed over to the mage she knew she'd have to find next. Charlotte didn't know of the place personally, and she’d never heard of it beforehand, but the italics under the picture read the Isle of Death. She had dreamed of it the night before, but before she could recall it, the front door opened and in walked the ten mages.
"You should have come with us!" Kaspar was laughing and covering his stomach with one hand, "Darius fell into the water."
"Fell? Or was pushed?" Darius turned on Kaspar and was going to lunge at the troublemaker, but Erik pulled him back, finally allowing his gaze to fall on her.
Mika and Mark were hanging in the back and discussing things while laughing, while Percy and Angelo stood just a foot before them. Percy waved at her with an excited grin, but Angelo's arms crossed over his chest in what seemed to be disapproval. Nico, Nero and Dale were silent as they looked over at her, and she nodded at the two elder mages, since they both knew what had been going on.
Finally, Erik's stare morphed into what she thought was an amused sneer, "It seems we’re not the only ones who went on an adventure."