For thousands of years the guild hall was known for its teachings, but it was the knowledge locked away inside the archives that bore the greatest lessons of all.
Tall walls surrounded menacing towers, enchanted with runes and spells from all over the Verse. Massive gardens and lakes dotted the landscape, and the shores of Samo’ana glistened in the sun’s light. This was a safe place for the young to learn, yet for some, it felt more like a prison. Not everyone had what it took to be a Petal, and it would make or break you, but the choices were yours to make.
“Tell me a story, Nan!” That sweet voice called to her from across the room and she looked up from her mirror and gazed upon violet colored eyes peeking out from beneath waves of ebony hair.
“A story, eh? And what sort of story would you like to hear?” She chuckled, setting her mirror down on the stand beside her chair and tucking her own long blonde waves behind her ears. “Perhaps I might interest you in a tale of three warriors? An Angel, a Demon and a mischief maker?”
The adolescent female shook her head with a giggle, her innocence radiating like an aura about her. She was a special child, though not really a child any longer, she was still special.
“Something new. Something, different!” The young woman smiled, rising to her feet as she made her way towards the elder. “Tell me something you’ve never told me before.”
“You’ve heard them all, my love!” She laughed in return, accepting the heartfelt embrace from her granddaughter, but there was a mood about the room now; one she’d hoped would take a while longer to manifest its ugly head.
“You’re lying, Nan!” She heard the words and felt her granddaughter sigh against her chest. “Your heart always skips a beat when you lie!”
“Does it now?” Nan chuckled, her fingers toying with that long, ebony-colored hair and those violet colored streaks that hid underneath.
“You know the story I want to hear and I am more than old enough to hear it.” The adolescent female looked up into her elder’s eyes with a longing so intense, it made the old female’s heart skip another beat.
She was more than old enough, but to speak of such things against her mother’s approval.
“My mother is not here and will never know that you told me!” Those violet colored eyes shone as her bottom lip tried not to quiver. She rose to her feet and paced about the large room.
“I can never complete my training if I cannot accept my past, Nan! I need to know what happened if I am to prevent it from happening again!”
That was very true. As heir to the throne of the Valkyrie, it destined her to uphold the laws and safeguard the lives of their people, should the evil ever rise again. She was here, at this very house, for that very reason. She had to learn all there was.
“I have to learn, all, there is!” Tisiphone pointed out as she crossed her arms before her chest.
“Then you should start by remembering the first rule on the list!” She snapped back at the adolescent female. “People dislike it when you meddle in their thoughts. They are private for a reason, child!”
That tone, the stern look on her face, the guilt she received as large, doe-eyes rimmed in tears.
“Oh, Tisiphone…” She paused, opening her arms once more as she rose from her chair. “… I mean not to upset you, but I made a promise to your mother.”
“Yeah, yeah, she wants to tell me herself when the time is right.” Tisiphone shook her head and let out a long, drawn-out sigh. “It’s just, I am almost one hundred years old, Nan. When, is it going to be the right time?”
“When your mother says its time! I’m sorry, Tisiphone!” Nan hung her head.
She knew keeping secrets was wrong, she’d kept many of her own, but there was much to be learned from history. The child was right; she needed to know, but Nan could not break another promise to her daughter.
“May I ask where my mother has gone this time?”
Her granddaughter rolled her eyes and made for the fireplace, her eyes glowing like the embers before her. Gone was the innocence that had once graced her demeanor.
“No wait, that’s classified, isn’t it?” Like mother, like daughter.
“You will take your place on the council soon enough, Tisiphone. Enjoy this time while you have it, for once you become who you were destined to be, freedom will be something you fight for, but you yourself can never claim it.”
“So I am told!” Tisiphone grumbled and sank into a chair as Nan disappeared from sight. “How can I lead the people if no one will listen to me?”
They trapped her in this manor, like a bird in a cage. They were grooming her for power, yet not once had they actually listened to her wishes. Some leader she was turning out to be; more like a puppet. All she wanted was some answers.
She’d heard the rumors, even seen the reports that Nan had desperately tried to hide out of sight. Where was her mother? Where was her father? Why wasn’t anyone talking? She had a right to know these things.
“I sense a troubled mind!” His voice echoed through her mind, and a moment later she watched his shadow appear in the corner.
“Of course you would, it follows you like around like a lost pup!” She laughed, rising to her feet once more. “Nan will whip you well if she returns to find you here!”
“Somehow, that doesn’t excite me as much as if, say, your mother had said it!” The shadow turned to flesh and the male let out a hearty chuckle.
Tall and handsome, with dark, shoulder length hair and a stern jaw; but it was his eyes that gave him away. They played tricks, even on him. Tisiphone had heard the name Loki far too often and witnessed more than her fair share of his mischief-making.
“And if it was my father who walked through that door next?” Tisiphone cocked a brow his way. “What would he say if he knew you were still lingering after my mother?”
“Easy with the allegations, child, I am merely here to help, you. What your mother and I had, is in the past! A mere memory!” He chuckled, and she waited for his next witty comment.
When none came, she began with her questions. “Tell me about it. What was it like, your relationship with my mother? Was she as fierce as they say?”
No can do, little one. You may have inherited your mother’s good looks, but you also got your father’s scheming sense, and well, you use it against me. Shit, I don’t need that Demon on my ass, thank you very much.”
The male shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Your step-mother is worse, just saying, but there ain’t no way I am playing with that kind of fire. You must unlock your so-called secrets another way!”
“Then why are you here?” She huffed and went back to her chair.
“I am in no mood for your games. If there is nothing you can tell me, then there is no reason for you to be here.” She sighed and rubbed at her eyes.
“I am here, my dear, to remind you you don’t need anyone to tell you what you need to know. There are ways to, see, for yourself. You just have to find them.” He grinned at her as his image turned to shadow and he, too, disappeared from sight. “Just a friendly reminder!”
A friendly reminder was usually helpful, not insane and cryptic like. Something was going on, and her mother’s past had something to do with it.
She was sure of it; but without access to the archives, Tisiphone had no idea what it was. So, how the hell was she supposed to see anything? No access meant nothing to read, no records to listen to, and it wasn’t like she could just pop back in time and watch it all.
The lightbulb went off inside her head and she spun on her heels and made for the side table next to Nan’s chair. Upon it sat the most elegantly carved, silver frame she’d ever seen, surrounding a film of fog.
It was the best way to describe it, as it wasn’t really a mirror but more of a looking glass; problem was, you had to ask the right questions, and you’d bypass the looking part and head right on into the speaking with creepy strangers part.
One never could tell who was looking in on the other side, or whether the conversation would end on a peaceful note. Not all the mirrors had been accounted for, and it took a measure of control to ensure that what you were viewing was not being viewed by any other with one in their possession.
Still, no one would tell her what she needed to know. Her mother had fallen into darkness in her youth, and Tisiphone was thinking it may have happened again. It had been weeks since she’d spoken with her, that just didn’t happen.
Add that to all the secrets and rumors floating about, he restricted access to pretty much everywhere, Tisiphone really had no choice.
If her mother had fallen into darkness once again, Tisiphone needed to how it had happened before and what she could do to bring her mother back; or at the least, ready her people for chaos once more.
Taking the mirror in hand, she sat in Nan’s chair and admired the fog for a moment.
“Show me the story of my mother!” She whispered at first, then again, somewhat louder.
Nothing appeared. No one spoke. Zip. Nadda. Had she done it wrong?
“Show me the tale of Malice!” She spoke up, shaking the mirror when again it remained silent.
“Bloody hell. Then show me the story of my Aunt Mist!”
There was nothing to be seen, no voices speaking back to her. It wasn’t broken, for Nan had just been using it. She often retired to her chair with it, so why wouldn’t it work for Tisiphone? Was there a spell of some sort? A counter in place to protect from accidental usage?
“Can you show me anything? Malice, Mist, Ashlyn?” She growled, but still nothing.
“I guess asking for Gil or Jack is out of the question too?”
The mirror swirled. It had worked, but whose story was she about to watch? Would it apply to her needs? It had to be; it was all she had access to.
“Tisiphone?” She heard her name from the hall and her heart skipped a few beats.
Remaining silent, she held the mirror to her chest and made for the one place she knew she’d be alone; and with that thought in mind, she too vanished from the room.