This Means War
Grenouille glanced around her to ensure no one was watching before stepping into the fortuneteller’s tent. The woman inside the tent was nothing like she had expected. Where she had imagined bright colours, vacant eyes, and perhaps oddly styled hair, there was only simple black skirt and top, ordinary brown eyes and black hair.
When she spoke, she sounded vaguely Tarnakian. “How may I help you?”
“I want to know my daughter’s future.”
“That can be arranged.” She disappeared behind a bookcase filled with brightly coloured bottles.
Grenouille waited, tapping her foot impatiently. Was this woman even a real seer? Or just a potion-maker? She was surrounded by potions on all sides, and there was even a cauldron in the corner. But there were no crystal balls, dream catchers or other fortunetelling paraphernalia.
“This should do the trick.” She placed a small green bottle on the counter in front of Grenouille. “Drink it before you go to bed, and your dreams will reflect your daughter’s future. But remember; what you see is just a possibility, not a certainty.”
“Nothing. That potion has proved hard to sell.”
Grenouille sensed that the woman was lying, or at least leaving out some details, but it didn’t seem important. “Thank you…?”
“Janet Casamar.” Grenouille would not hear that name again for 5 years, when King Bernard married Miranda Casamar, daughter of Janet Casamar and Gale Casamar.
“Mammy! Mammy where are you?” Kiki called from somewhere to Grenouille’s left. They were deep in the woods, most likely somewhere near the palace.
“Kiki? Are you alright?”
“HELP ME MAMMY!!” Grenouille ran towards her, crashing through the dense bushes.
When she reached her, Kiki appeared unharmed. “They’ve taken the palace! They’re dead! They’re all dead!” Kiki began to cry.
“Where’s your dad? Your sister?”
Kiki’s eyes turned from purple to black. “I killed them.”
Kiki launched a wall of fire at her mother, and watched laughing while she went up in flames.
“You could have saved me. You could have saved everyone. This is all your fault.”
Different versions of the same dream repeated relentlessly all night. When she woke, Grenouille’s face was wet with tears and she was shaking. Kiki would grow up to be evil, to destroy them all. That much was clear, but the part about the palace being taken made no sense. Who had taken the palace? Did she mean the entire royal family was dead? And most frightening of all was the end. “You could have saved me,” Kiki had said.
To Grenouille, that meant she could have stopped Kiki from being evil, that she could have changed her fate. Which was exactly what she intended to do. She would do anything to save her daughter from the darkness.
Chapter 1 (This Means War) - Five years later
The ground shook.
“EARTHQUAKE!!!” someone shouted.
“GET UNDER YOUR CHAIRS!” All of the students in grades 1-10 were meeting in the auditorium, thousands of students, and there was chaos because there were no desks to duck under.
“No! This isn’t an earthquake!” Millie was panicking. No one else understood because they had never felt a bomb fall. Millie and her family had when they had been visiting the Chalan Islands during the summer break. There had been an attack on the palace, but she had never been able to find out why. “That was a bomb, we have to get out of the building, someone is targeting the school.” There was no doubt in her mind as to who was bombing their school, but the details were of no importance. It was simple; there were valuable magical objects that could be used as weapons, plus the royal children all attended. Millie was not sure, but she suspected that the magical building might also hold an entrance to an underground warehouse of bombs and other weapons.
“Count to 60!”
“GET OUT OF THE BUILDING UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE BLOWN TO BITS!” Millie was close to tears. She sprinted through the aisles past rows of cowering students, searching for her sisters.
“ALICE! ELLA!” Across across the auditorium she could see her twin, Hope, helping their friend Cece locate her sisters.
“GET OUT! EVERYONE YOU HAVE TO GET OUT! IT’S NOT AN EARTHQUAKE!” Desperately, Millie began yanking people out from under their seats. “Help me, please, we have to get out!” Slowly beginning to understand the situation, some people began to climb out from under their chairs and stream towards the exits.
“GET THE LITTLE KIDS!” Millie still hadn’t found Alice and Ella, but she had found their friend Amy. “Where are Alice and Ella? Were they with you?”
“Ella is on her way outside, and Alice is on the roof. Ella said the school was being bombed to kill you guys because you are royal, and then Alice said she was going on the roof so that the bombers would take her and leave everyone else but-” Millie was already gone, sprinting through the halls towards the staircase that would lead to the roof of the auditorium. The astronomy club used this roof because it was highest, so their telescopes were set up around the roof. Alice was standing in the middle holding a big poster that read “Come Get Me!” She had used magic to make it stand out like a beacon, easily visible to the planes circling above.
“Millie go away! I want the bombers to kill me so you will be safe.” Millie could understand her child-logic, but of course realistically it would not work. Alice was only 8, and she was already determined to devote her life to helping other people. She was so sweet and nice that she would sacrifice herself for her worst enemy.
“Alice, they will kill you and then they will kill everyone else too. You need to come down with me.” Millie raised her hand to shade her eyes from the bright sun to survey the damage around the school. From what she could tell, one of the gyms had been hit, as well as the grade 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 buildings. Fortunately the magic building had not yet been destroyed, because if it caught fire, it had enough power in it to blow up everything for at least a kilometre around them.
“Millie I can’t! I want to save everyone!”
“Alice you can’t! Come with me now! Getting yourself killed will not save us!” she looked at the sky again. “The planes are coming over here! They can see you, we have to run NOW!” When Alice didn’t move Millie grabbed her and pulled. Appealing to Alice’s compassionate nature she added “If you don’t come I will be very, very upset and angry with you.” Alice couldn’t bear to have anyone be upset because of her. After considering for a moment, Alice began to run, still holding onto Millie’s hand. Together they raced down the stairs and through the deserted auditorium, out into the sunshine. Teachers were trying to calm the panicked younger students , while some of the older students were collecting siblings and charging in all directions, as far away from the school as they could get. The planes made no effort to attack the fleeing students, so the teachers began to send students down to the portal station. Sorting according to their regular portal groups was simple, since all of the students were required to meet at their portal station and teleport to school each morning.
“Now Alice, I’m going to leave you here, and I want you to go with this group. They are walking down to the portal station, and you’re going to stay with them, no matter what. Ok?” Alice nodded. “Cece is in this group, do you see her?” Millie pointed to a tall blond haired girl and Alice skipped towards her.
BOOM! BOOM! The ground shook as two bombs fell on the auditorium, aimed right where Alice and Millie had been.
“GET DOWN!” Debris was flying towards them. They were far enough away that it wasn’t much, but some of the pieces of wood were on fire. There was smoke all around them, and everyone was beginning to cough.
“Why aren’t the planes attacking the portal station to prevent us from getting away?” Millie asked the principal.
“I don’t know. I think they will, probably soon. Half of the students are safely away now, at least.”
“Have you seen Hope?”
“A minute or two ago she ran off towards the magic building, I was too busy to stop her.” “Don’t wait for us to come back, just go.” Millie sprinted towards the magic building. Once inside, she knew where Hope would have gone. She would be adding more layers of protective spells to the Sirophonic Crystals, the source of the school’s electricity, located on the roof so that the energy could reach all of the buildings with ease. They were extremely explosive, especially combined with the other magical artefacts spread throughout the building.
Hope was indeed on the roof doing spells.
“Oh my god! Stop doing spells and start blowing those planes out of the sky!”
“They will fall on the school!”
“The school is toast anyway! As long as they don’t land on the students it doesn’t matter, the parts that weren’t hit are beyond repair because of the flying debris anyway!” Without waiting for Hope’s approval Millie created a pink ball of magic in her hand. It would serve as an explosive if she wanted it too, she had only to fire it at a plane, which she did when Hope nodded reluctantly. The plane exploded and landed on the burning auditorium, resulting in a huge plume of potentially toxic smoke. From where she stood, Millie could see the last group of teachers enter the portal station. She knew that once they were through the portal station would be closed from the other end, blocking her best escape route.
“Should we stay and keep fighting back?” Hope asked, flipping her long brown hair behind her shoulder.
“I’m gonna.” With that, she fired another fireball, which grazed the wing of a plane coming towards them. Hope followed suit, taking out 2 planes flying close together with one shot. Her eyes started to change from blue to green, since she was breaking rules. Normally her eyes were blue, but when she was doing something sweet and nice they turned brown, and when she was being naughty they turned green like Millie’s.
“Double dango!” Two planes were coming towards them, firing back.
“SHIELD!” They both put up a magical shield just in time to avoid being blown up. Momentarily safe, Millie added “You did not seriously just say double dango.”
“That was waaaaaay too close.” Hope rolled her eyes but she looked shaken. “It seemed fitting! Dango as in dang it, and two planes so double dango!”
“Whatever. Hit them back. I’m not leaving until we blow up every last plane in the sky.” Hope could see angry flames burning behind the calm green of Millie’s eyes. “They attacked our school and they are trying to kill us. We can’t run away.”
“There were students in some of the buildings, you know.”
“I know. A lot of the grade elevens and twelves… most of them were in their regular buildings, but I know that some of them were on a field trip, but not many. At least the kindergarten building wasn’t hit, and I saw one of the teachers run in to tell them it wasn’t an earthquake so they got out.” Millie turned to take out a plane attempting a sneak attack from behind. Now only 5 planes remained, but they were flipping and diving to avoid the fireballs.
“How do we get away from them?”
“Hope, we don’t need to get away from them, we need to destroy them. If we don’t, they will destroy us! There’s no getting away. This means war.”
The planes had moved out of range to regroup. Meanwhile, Millie and Hope seized the opportunity to catch their breath and prepare for the next attack. The planes split up from their group and began to form a circle around the magic building. Millie and Hope watched in horror as the planes pointed all of their guns directly on them.
“We should have run away! I knew we should have run away!”
“Calm down and stop wasting time.” After taking a few deep breaths, Hope suddenly knew what they had to do. She could see a thunderstorm approaching rapidly, and it gave her the inspiration she needed.
“You have to grab the crystals and jump off the roof. I’ll blast all of the planes out of the sky and then jump.”
“How do you plan to blast them all at once?” Hope shrugged guiltily, so Millie knew what she meant. “No! That is way too dangerous, you can’t channel the energy from the lightning storm. It almost killed you last time! What about the crystals? They could take out the planes.”
“They’d take us out too!”
“Trust me. On the count of three, jump and get as far away as you can. I’ll keep them occupied here.” Hope chose not to waste more time talking because the planes were firing bullets again, so she followed Millie’s directions, all while maintaining their protective shield. As soon as Hope was gone, Millie slid her hand behind her back and removed the crystals from their stand. Then she raised her hands above her head, as if to surrender, with the crystals still clutched in her fist.
A soldier dressed in Tarnakian yellow and orange parachuted onto the roof from each plane.
So I was right. It is Tarnak. They must be trying to make a statement of some sort, she thought. Time was running out, and she wasn’t sure what to do now that she was no longer alone on the roof, with 5 soldiers walking towards her.
Making a snap decision, she used her magic like a rocket launcher to send the crystals high into the sky, and then she ignited them with a fireball. Debris from the planes rained down all around her as she hurriedly cast a protection spell around her. The soldiers who did not have magic were not so fortunate. Several were hit by burning pieces of metal, and another stepped off the roof because he could not see through the thick smoke. A few minutes later only one of the soldiers remained, so Millie decided it was time to leave. She did not bring the soldier as a prisoner, but she later thought that maybe she should have. At the time she was to shaken from the attack to think of it.
Leaving was not difficult; she just did what Hope had done, and let herself fall onto a bed of magic to cushion her landing. She passed the rest of the ruined school as she ran, including the grade 11 and 12 buildings. There she glimpsed the charred remains of one of the students, and had to stop to throw up under a tree. She couldn’t believe so many people had died in such a short period of time.
Farther into Numaira, since the school was on the outskirts, Millie entered a shop to use the phone. The customers and shop owner alike were shocked by her appearance; she was covered in soot, there were burn marks and holes in her clothes where sparks had hit her, and her red hair was a tangled mess from the wind on the roof.
“May I please use a phone?” the shopkeeper looked ready to refuse, but then someone recognized her, “Hey, isn’t that Princess Millie?”
After that she was allowed to use the phone, and wash up a bit in the back.
“Millie! Oh my goodness, are you ok?”
“Yes, I’m ok. Did Hope make it home? And Alice and Ella?”
“Yes they’re all here. They’re fine.”
“Mom, it was the Tarnakians, I saw their uniforms. I am certain.” Millie sighed in relief. This time her family had been lucky, but there would be plenty of danger in the times to come. She was also glad to pass on the official information to her mother, The Queen. There was no way to avoid a war with Tarnak, not anymore.