Julia rubbed her eyes, and blinked at Kyte.
“Missing?” she said.
“Yes! No one has seen her since she left your room a few hours ago.”
Julia felt something warm on her chest. She reached up and discovered the necklace with the amber teardrop. It felt warm in her hand. Suddenly, Julia was alert. Somehow, she knew what had happened to Trixie, and she knew they had to act fast. The necklace seemed to urge her to get up, to get dressed quickly.
“Let’s go.” she said.
“Where?” Kyte asked.
“Let’s find Trixie”.
“Where do we start?” Kyte asked, as he turned his back to Julia while she changed into her normal clothing.
Julia closed her eyes and clasped the teardrop necklace. A feeling was urging her to act quickly, to run outside to the courtyard near the student sleeping quarters.
“I know it sounds weird, but there’s something about this necklace. It’s like it’s telling me how to find Trixie.”
Kyte shook his head. “Nothing sounds weird anymore. Remnants, missing people, what’s next?” They exchanged glances.
“Don’t ask.” she said as she arched an eyebrow.
They hastily made their way outside, Julia holding up the necklace like a beacon. She felt it pull her one way then the other until they stepped outside. Everything was shrouded in shadow. The sky was black as velvet with no moon or stars to be seen. The tall buildings stood out in stark relief against the light of the streetlights lit by mage magic.
A few paces away sat a huge horse drawn carriage. Julia was taken aback by the horses’ appearance. Almost as dark as the sky, they were large, restless beasts with blood red manes and glowing eyes.
“This doesn’t look good at all.” Kyte said as he stood next to Julia. “We should get the senior Mages. This is -”
He was cut off by the sound of a door of a building across the courtyard slamming open. Several hooded figures emerged, each carrying something over their shoulders. They struggled somewhat with the weight as they made their way quickly to the carriage. Julia’s eyes went wide.
“They’re carrying people!” she whispered as they slid into the shadow of a building to avoid being seen.
“Look!” Kyte hissed. “It’s Trixie!” One of the hooded figures carried the girl over his shoulder. Her limp arms swayed as he trotted toward the carriage. Julia’s necklace became almost aflame with heat. She started walking toward the carriage.
“Wait!” Kyte hissed, you’re going -”
The hooded figures abruptly stopped, as Julia walked toward them briskly.
“- to be seen” Kyte finished. He dropped his hand, dismayed.
As one, the hooded figures exchanged glances and bolted toward the carriage.
“Stop! ” cried Julia as she raced toward them.
“What are you doing?” Kyte whispered furiously, struggling to keep up.
Julia was too far away to hear. And too deeply overwhelmed by the feeling of power welling up within her. Something was going to happen. She wondered desperately if she would be able to control it. Julia felt the power welling up within her. One of the hooded figures gestured in the air. A wave of darkness broke off from the shadows and flew toward Julia.
Kyte leapt up from his hiding place. “Julia! Look out!”
Instinctively, Julia drew on her newfound power and made a throwing motion to the bolt of darkness. Instantly they clashed with a force that knocked Julia down. Kyte reached her, and pulled her up as he backed away. Julia shook off Kyte as she tried to tap into her magic. Something had happened. There was nothing there! It was as if she had been drained of her abilities. She howled in frustration.
“No! Trixie!” By then the kidnappers had finished running into their carriage.
“Kyte! Do something! They are taking them away!”
Kyte looked into Julia’s eyes, seeing desperation, fear, and anger. Steeling himself, he turned and began invoking a spell under his breath. He only got a few syllables out before another arc of black energy crashed into him. He was hurled across the courtyard and landed on the ground with a sickening thud.
Julia screamed again in anguish.
A robed figure appeared atop the carriage and snapped a whip at the monstrous horses. They reared in anger and began to pull the carriage. Before Julia could do anything else she was struck by yet another wave of darkness, and it engulfed her awareness.
Julia awoke with a start.
The sun was shining on her face as she lay in a large, four poster bed. The room was filled with interesting artifacts. There was an ornately carved sword fashioned out of bone. Over there a huge smiling mask hung on the wall. The room was brightly painted a sunny yellow color that somehow cheered Julia up despite herself. She wondered how on earth she had arrived in such a place. Her hands felt the soft fabric of the sheets. She smelled biscuits baking somewhere. Her stomach growled. A dowdy woman dressed in plain work clothes puttered in the room, moving from place to place as if to straighten up the already immaculate room.
“Are you hungry dear?” she asked without looking at Julia.
The question seemed so out of place to her. Her best friend Trixie was gone, Kyte was hurt, perhaps even dead, and here she sat in a luxurious bed being asked to breakfast from a housekeeper. Julia could not bring herself to speak. The housekeeper looked at Julia with kind eyes.
“Dearest girl. You’ll not be able to help anyone, or save your friend, if you are exhausted and hungry.”
Julia blinked. “Who are you? Where am I?” she asked.
“Why, you are in the Chancellor’s home. Your friend told him all about you and what happened last night. The Chancellor wants to speak to you after you’ve eaten and dressed deary.”
She laid some clothes at the foot of the bed.
“I hope these fit. The Chancellor’s daughter is about your age, but perhaps a bit more of a fuller figure.” she smiled.
All Julia could do was nod silently. Then she found her voice again. “Is Kyte, the boy who was with me, is he ok?”
The housekeeper made a face. “Ah, you’d have thought he fought a mighty dragon, the way he complained about his bump on the head. He’s fine deary. And waiting for you downstairs.” Smiling again, the woman made her way out of the room.
“Come now, ” she said as she left, “the biscuits are getting cold.”
‘Not as cold as my heart feels’ Julia thought, as she painfully made her way out of the bed.