Chapter 34: Reminders
Nicodemus and the others waited patiently and with some concern for those who entered the Archive for nearly an hour before. They conversed amongst themselves, speculating the worst, hoping for the best. Nicodemus continued to insist that everything would be all right. An hour and a half after entering the passage, and immediately after Nicodemus reminded them for the thirtieth time that everything would be all right, they heard a rumble and roar from the guardian, which got everyone’s attention.
“We’re dead,” Sam hissed as they looked toward the guardian. For a second or two, everyone held their breath, expecting the guardian to pull off the wall and come after them. They had their weapons ready to fight. The roar and rumble lasted for several seconds as the guardian’s eyes glowed brilliantly, and then the slab began to move.
“Wait. It’s opening!” Nicodemus announced.
They watched in a hush, holding their breath as the slab opened up. Hannibal emerged first with the staff in hand, followed closely by Selina carrying the little pyramid, and then Amelia, Xavier, Harry, Aragon and Nathanael. Hannibal motioned for them to stand back once they were out of the passage. They immediately did so as he stood on the seal. Hannibal struck the seal twice and said, “Hroathgar sera endar Arionath.” The slab slid shut, completely concealing the passage. The guardian’s eyes glowed brilliantly as Hannibal looked directly at it saying, “Hairs Singh et guilder.” The guardian’s eyes suddenly ceased to shine and it showed no sign of ever having ever moved. Hannibal turned and stepped off the seal with the scepter, heading toward Nicodemus.
Nicodemus rushed forward and hugged Hannibal. “We were getting worried about you,” he said.
Hannibal returned the hug with one arm and when he let go, Nicodemus looked into his face and said, “You look different somehow. What happened down there?”
Hannibal sighed deeply and said, “We have to talk.”
As he spoke, Arabella rushed forward and threw her arms around his neck, saying with great relief, “I thought we’d lost you!”
Hannibal hugged her, and then pushed her back gently, saying, “It’s all right. I’m not checking out just yet.” He looked her in the eye and saw that Arabella was weeping softly, saying, “Shhh. It’s all right. I’m here.” Then to Nicodemus, he said while looking Arabella in the face, “We have something we need to do.”
“What’s that?” Nicodemus asked.
“We have a marriage to perform,” Hannibal said with a smile as he looked Arabella in the eyes.
Nicodemus smacked his forehead with his hand and said, “My goodness. You’re right. I completely forgot.”
“Who’s getting married?” Thomas asked.
Hannibal looked at Arabella, and then Morrison. “Arabella and John,” Hannibal stated. “They were to be married today, but the events of the last twenty four hours seem to have postponed it.”
Everyone looked at Arabella and Morrison with shock, and finally Cracko spoke up, saying, “Congratulations; it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple.”
Morrison came and stood next to Arabella as she stood by Hannibal. Everyone congratulated them as Nicodemus went to the throne room doors when he heard someone knocking. He opened up, revealing Joshua and Doug. They walked in and informed Nicodemus that the roundup was complete. Hannibal noticed them talking and he called out, “What is it, Joshua?”
“All of the henchmen have been rounded up and the square is nearly clear,” Nicodemus reported as they walked over to Hannibal and the rest of the group.
Joshua immediately noticed the scepter in Hannibal’s hand. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked Hannibal.
Hannibal nodded and replied, “If you’re thinking it’s the scepter of Shadizar Kahn, you’re right.”
Joshua’s eyes grew round as saucers and he breathed, “By the Ancient of Days. That scepter hasn’t been seen since the Kragonar.”
“He also found the Archive as well,” Nicodemus stated.
“Really?” Joshua asked.
Hannibal reached in his pocket and pulled out the crystal storage device from the Archive, showing it to everyone. They all gathered around to see the ancient device. Milo, Sharon, Jacob, Rebecca, and Crystal moved to the front to see and Hannibal looked at them with the love of a father. “See the proof,” he said to the group as they looked at it. After holding it out for nearly a minute, he pocketed the crystal and said, “We’ll access this later. First things first: Nicodemus, if the square is clear, gather the people there in two hours so we can prove to them the danger of the traitors has been dealt with. The rest of you can go back to whatever you were doing before I called you here. Jacob, Rebecca, Crystal, Milo, Sharon, I want to talk with you for a moment.” Everyone began to disperse with the exception of Selina, Jacob, Rebecca, Crystal, Milo, Sharon, Arabella, and Morrison. As Amelia began to walk away, Hannibal reached out and took her by the hand as she passed by him. “Thank you for your help, princess,” he said gratefully. “Your knowledge and abilities were invaluable.”
Amelia turned and kissed him on the cheek, replying, “You’re welcome, great one. You have proven that you are the One. I’ll always be at your beckoned call.”
Hannibal smiled slightly, saying, “Thank you.” He let Amelia go and she walked away with Xavier. Hannibal then addressed Morrison and Arabella, saying with a soft smile, “We’ll let everyone know about your marriage at the gathering in the square after the traitors are dealt with.”
Morrison nodded and said, “That’s all right. You don’t need to go to that much trouble. I would actually prefer a small wedding myself.”
“Me too,” Arabella agreed. “I feel a bit uncomfortable doing it in front of a large crowd.”
Hannibal smiled and nodded, saying, “All right. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you,” Morrison nodded as he and Arabella walked away.
Turning his attention to Jacob, Rebecca, and Crystal, Hannibal said, “Jacob, Rebecca, I want you to know that if you ever need anything from me or my team, don’t hesitate to ask.” He looked Rebecca directly in the eyes and said, “You have done these people a great service by helping to identify the rogue elements in their midst. Consider yourself our friend and confidant. You can also consider yourself under our protection from now on.”
Rebecca stepped forward and hugged Hannibal gently, saying, “Thank you, Hannibal. You have freed my family and I from the fear of those men. We’re forever in your debt.” Hannibal looked at Selina as she looked upon Rebecca with great admiration of her courage.
“Rebecca. You have a strong spirit and great courage to have faced the fear you did. I know what a gentle soul you really are,” Selina said, putting her hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. “When Hannibal says that you’re under our protection, what he’s really saying is that you and your family are now part of our family. He wants you to consider us as family.”
Rebecca looked into Hannibal’s face for confirmation of this statement, and was met with a soft, fatherly smile and a nod. “Selina has summed it up eloquently,” Hannibal declared. “Now go and be at peace, all three of you.”
Jacob looked on with surprise and all he could say was thank you. Rebecca hugged Hannibal one last time and went back to Jacob and Crystal. “Go on,” Hannibal said gently. “I’m here if you need anything.” Jacob nodded as he led his family away.
Turning finally to Milo and Sharon, Hannibal stated, “Milo, Sharon. You have been just as much help as Jacob and Rebecca have been. You were our second witness. Thank you.” He paused a moment as he and Selina looked them in the eye. “What I told Jacob and Rebecca goes for you too,” he stated. “Consider yourselves part of our little circle and under our protection. If we can do anything for you, just ask.”
Milo and Sharon were stunned by the proclamation. After a few moments, Sharon, with tears in her eyes, asked, “Would it be out of line if I were to hug you, milord?”
Hannibal smiled and opened his arms to her, saying with great authority and sincerity, “Not at all, little sister.”
Sharon approached him, gently and gratefully hugging him as a beloved brother saying, “Thank you. You have saved us all from a dread peril. Thank you, milord.”
Hannibal returned the hug, saying, “Call me Hannibal, Sharon...and you are most welcome, my precious sister. Now go on and let Milo heal your hurts. He can and will if you will let him.”
Sharon let Hannibal go and latched onto Milo, saying, “I will, Hannibal. Thank you.”
Hannibal nodded and smiled at them, saying, “You’re welcome. Now off with you now. Go and be at peace.” Milo and Sharon bowed their heads to Hannibal, and then walked away, arm in arm. Once they had gone, he sighed deeply, looking at the scepter, and then Selina. She could sense his exhaustion. “Both are fine families,” he declared.
Selina put her arm around him and replied, “Yes, they are. They’re indeed good people, though they have seen great hardship over the years.” He smiled as his strength suddenly fled him, causing him to hold on to the scepter with both hands in order to remain standing. Selina immediately caught him, saying, “You’re exhausted. Come on. Let’s get back to our quarters.”
“That’s sounds like a good idea,” Hannibal agreed weakly. “It seems that every time I handle ancient technology, it saps the life right out of me. The funny thing is that it happened all of a sudden this time. It’s right down strange.”
“And what we just witnessed isn’t?” Selina retorted as she helped him walk to the doors of the throne room.
“Touché,” Hannibal replied as they left the throne room with the scepter and pyramid key for the Archive.
Ten minutes later, they were in their quarters. Selina sat him down on the bed and said, “Here, let me take that staff.” Hannibal relinquished the scepter into her hands willingly and almost immediately passed out on the bed before she could lean it next to the dresser. She looked at him and shook her head sympathetically as she walked to the dresser where the Relic and Artifact were sitting. The scepter abruptly attracted her attention as it began to glow more and more brilliantly as she approached the dresser. Its power surged through her arms, making them tingle as she noticed that both the Relic and Artifact were glowing almost as brightly as the scepter. This intrigued her and caused some concern, so she investigated the phenomenon by backing away with it. As she backed away, the scepter dimmed and when near the bath, it stopped glowing entirely. Several times, she experimented until she knew there was a connection between them, so she placed it on the opposite side of the bed, leaning against the wall next to her dresser. When she finally let go of the scepter, she perceived that her strength had been drained somewhat as well, which also intrigued her as she placed the little pyramid on her dresser as well. She then removed her weapons and sat them in the corner next to the scepter. After that, she went to Hannibal and checked him closely before rolling him on his side so she could remove his sword. Once it was sitting in the corner, she removed his shoes then crawled on the bed. Latching onto him, she pulled him to the middle, laying his head on a pillow before collapsing beside him. She marveled how the scepter had drained her so completely in the short time she had her hands upon it. In a matter of minutes, she too was fast asleep.