“Captain. What brings you here, so far from your western borders?” a woman spoke. They were surrounded by female archers. Every one of them was beautiful and deadly. Belts were strapped with throwing knives, a short sword hung by the waist, a quiver of arrows at the back. Their longbows were drawn taut with bolts trained at intruders. The Sentries looked tame compared to these warriors, whose faces lacked emotion.
“We seek safe passage to the mortal realms.” Pellinor sheathed his dagger and raised his arms as a sign of peace.
“You may pass. The humans remain here.” The archers aiming at the Sentries directed their arrows toward the people immobilized by the vines. Three of them aimed at Liyanna. “You and your people may leave, Captain.”
A vein ticked at Pellinor’s jaw as he sought a way to save the humans and Liyanna. Escape was impossible. To go back would mean facing Reno and his Order.
Pellinor, she said. I think it’s…safe.
If anything happens to you…
Nothing will happen to me.
You are a Sentry’s worst nightmare.
She didn’t answer. Liyanna knew he would give in soon.
Fine. But know this: if something happens to you, I shall not forgive you.
He spoke to the representative: “There is something you should know.”
Unclenching a fist, Liyanna returned her aura to its original appearance. She had been concealing her identity by making her aura the size, color, and shape of an average human. Its sudden release momentarily caused her to see nothing but white light. As it dimmed, she saw the archers lower their bows and bow to her.
“Liyanna. We did not recognize you,” the representative said.
A breeze carried a disembodied whisper: “Fools! Who else would possess the heavens and the earth in one form but she?”
Tendrils of fog wove through the trees, engulfing them until Liyanna felt separated from her companions. In front, a shadow moved toward her and took the shape of a Devarian woman. She was dressed in the same clothes as the archers. The silver coronet, however, distinguished her as a minor princess of the High Court.
The fog pushed Liyanna toward the woman.
“Many moons I have waited for your return.” She trailed a finger down Liyanna’s cheek. “You have grown lovelier, your heart purer than ever. A true Liyanna, whole and untainted.”
A dagger sliced through the blanket of fog. Pellinor stepped through it.
“I see you have become reacquainted with my errant son,” she said without looking at him. Her face took on a somber expression. “Grief has not tainted your heart. If you pursue this path, you are a step closer to fulfilling the prophecy.”
“There are far more pressing matters than affairs of the heart, Sorceress,” Pellinor said.
“You leave without a word. You come here unannounced, allied to humans. And you call me Sorceress.” The mist slithered around his ankles and progressed upwards. She turned to Pellinor. The black of the woman’s iris expanded until it swallowed the whites of her eyes. “Hello, my dear, dear son. Not a day goes by that I do not think of you.” She inclined her head to the side. Another tendril coiled around his neck.
“Hello – mother,” Pellinor struggled to speak.
“You’re—” The mist covered Liyanna’s mouth and held her in place.
“Welcome home. For bringing Liyanna, I forgive you,” the Sorceress said. The serpentine fog dissolved into a puddle. Pellinor stumbled to the ground, coughing. Liyanna ran to his side after her restraints disappeared.
“The prophecy is a warning. Learn to heed it, Liyanna. But prophecies by nature tend to be incomplete and misleading and borne out of fear. For your courage, I shall grant your wish to go to the mortal realm.” At Liyanna’s right, the fog swirled and parted, showing evening on the other side.
“And my friends?” Liyanna asked.
“The Black Guards, Mindy, and S7.”
“The humans? They are not your kind. It is regrettable your soul chose to reside in human flesh. You have felt different, not truly a part of their world because your soul is not human. You have no need for such weak creatures.” The Sorceress waved a hand in a dismissive manner.
“I was born and raised as a human. I’m still part of that race until my soul chooses to be reborn in a different shell. Whether or not they are my friends, I still need them to complete my mission.”
“Very well,” the Sorceress said, bemused. She withdrew from their sight, bringing the fog and the sunlight with her. “Until we meet again, Liyanna.”
The evening made the trees look different. Mindy and the others stood upright before her. They were safe and sound if a little befuddled. They seemed to have completely forgotten how the plants had trapped them. As she moved towards them, she realized the ground beneath her was empty of leaves, twigs, and other detritus found in a forest. Rough yet even and solid, she was standing on the pavement. The flora around them was beautiful but too orderly. They were in a formal garden overlooking an enormous establishment. The Sorceress had transported them to the third dimension.
“You witch! I’ll get you back for this!” Pellinor shouted.
A few steps from Liyanna, a cat hissed, its hackles standing on end. Everyone stared at the creature. She scanned the faces around her for Pellinor, but couldn’t find him.
“Pellinor?” she called.
“I’m right in front of you,” he said sullenly.
“Where?” Liyanna still couldn’t see him. Next to her, the Sentry gazed downward and gulped. She lowered her eyes and saw the same cat, sitting on its haunches and staring at her intently.
Among the group, Mindy was the first to recover. She started to say: “You’re a—”
“Obviously!” he said angrily.
“Um. At least you’re not…” Liyanna said.
“Not what?” he snapped.
Pellinor the cat rolled his eyes. A Guard snickered earning him a dirty look from the Sentries.
“We’ve crossed the security’s perimeter. We’re right outside the building,” S7 said. “How did we get here?”
“The Sorceress has eyes and ears everywhere,” a Sentry said.
“Is that the leader who intercepted us in the forest a few minutes ago?” Mindy asked.
“Is she for or against us?” S7 added. “Can we trust her?”
“She does not stand by anyone, let alone humans,” Pellinor said. “Are we going to wait for someone to find us or should I send one of you to announce us in that fortress?” He stood on all fours looking at the building then darted into the trees straight towards the venue.
“Wait!” In vain, Mindy tried to grab his tail and ended up losing her balance and scraping her hand. “Stupid cat! Does he even know where he’s going?” She dusted off dirt from her pants and hands.
Go. Find the human Fred, Pellinor mentally spoke to Liyanna. Before she could ask where he was going, his presence had already receded from her consciousness. Turning to her people – her friends, Liyanna gave her first order: “Let’s move out.”
The Black Guards and the Sentries formed a circle around their human charges. The formation offered protection, invisibility, and transportation for its maker and the people within. They floated several feet from the building, looking for a way in without getting exposed. A helicopter landed on the rooftop. Bodyguards stepped out followed by their employers. Three security personnel greeted them and escorted them inside. Two guards were left behind, posted by the door.
“That’s the easiest way in,” S7 said. “Unless we can pass through walls?” he added skeptically. He had unknowingly pointed out one of the limitations of their defensive barriers.
Two Sentries sneaked behind the security guards and neutralized them. Bound and gagged, the Sentries assumed the guards’ identity. S7 picked a tablet off the floor.
“If They find out about this, wouldn’t they be able to track us with that?” Mindy’s brows furrowed.
“Not if we move fast.” He entered an eight-digit password into the device. The screen changed. He tapped on an app. Different mini screens appeared. It was a live recording of every surveillance camera within the building and the vicinity.
“That’s illegal.” Mindy pointed at one video. From the camera’s angle, the room was illuminated by the moon outside and showed the silhouette of two people sitting in the dark. One of them moved to the window. “And that’s Fred.”
Liyanna didn’t recognize the man on the screen immediately. Fred’s face had cleared of acne and wore a suit that emphasized his new muscular build. His companion followed him to the window. Peter. He pulled at his collar. Despite his immaculate attire matching Fred’s, he looked a little wild and angry. He seemed to be trying to persuade his friend who smiled and shrugged at him.
“They’re still using the same suite,” S7 commented.
“What’s the room number?” Liyanna asked.
“426. It’s thirty-two floors down. We can land on their balcony.”
Guests in the fourth floor didn’t find it odd that two security personnel were heading for 426. Earlier, they had heard its occupants ask for two personal bodyguards from the Chief of Security. Fred had also insisted on doubling the security which the chief assured that protocol ensures that every individual has been run a background check before entering the premises. The other guests were less concerned with the request and more curious about the two young men. They were familiar with Alfred, whom everyone calls Fred, but the silent one called Peter was a bit of a mystery. The only significant detail about him is his father being a board member of their organization.
The burly bodyguard rapped on the door. Seconds ticked by when it opened and a strong male cologne pervaded the air.
“You’re late, but that’s okay. You’re here now and the party won’t be starting in two hours.” Fred swung the door wider to let his bodyguards in. But when he tried to close the door, it refused to budge.
“Is there something wrong, sir?” the guard asked.
“The door’s stuck.”
The guard took over and pushed the door without success. He took a step back, studied it, went to the other side, scratched his head, and tried to close it once more. The door swung smoothly and the lock clicked in place.
“Creepy,” Fred remarked, rubbing his arm.
“Things that go bump in the night?” The guard grinned.
“Hah! It’s not even midnight.” Fred extended a hand to the guard. “I’m Fred. You are?” In a blur of movement, the man pulled him by the wrist and twisted it behind him while an arm braced around his neck. “What the hell are you doing?! Do you know how many CCTV cameras are in here? I bet your boss is on his way—”
“Silence.” The order came with the arm tightening around his neck. Fred clamped his mouth shut as he was maneuvered to a chair. “If you make a move…” Cold steel dug in Fred’s neck. The guard released his hold and instructed the former to sit.
“Whoever hired you must be crazy. Why don’t you work for us instead? We can double the amount the guy promised you. Or, you can name your price.” Fred had changed tactics when minutes dragged on and no one had come to rescue him. The other guard was gone, probably to fetch his friend from the bedroom.
Peter strode into the room looking nervous but unharmed. No guard and no weapon were trained on him. A hope sparked in Fred and died just as quickly. At Peter’s heels were men and women dressed either in black clothing or in Lord of the Rings-inspired costume. He spotted Mindy flanked by two hooded beings in the group. His eyes darted to them and Peter.
“Fred, they won’t hurt you if you promise to cooperate,” Mindy said.
“Could you tell my “guard” to get that thing and himself away from me?” Fred’s eyes slid to the knife at his throat.
Next to Mindy, the girl, whose hood covered her face, inclined her head. The weapon was retracted and the guard moved several yards from him. Fred stared after him – her. It wasn’t his assailant. The knife wielder had magically turned into a sexy female.
Mindy snapped her fingers at his face. “Fred, do you know where Arty is?”
“Geez, Mindy. You went through all this trouble just to ask that?”
“Just answer the question.”
“No. Haven’t seen him since the freak accident.” Mindy looked at the girl again. The leader, he assumed. “Are we done here?” Fred glared at the leader.
Voices coming from outside made him sneak a glance at the door. Shifting his gaze back to his interrogators, he discovered the room empty except for him and Peter, who dozed on the couch. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he looked at his watch, shook his friend awake and left the suite.
Within the circle of invisibility, Mindy commented: “He doesn’t look scared.”
“We had Peter’s memory wiped. As for Fred, we suggested to him that our visit was just a dream and added a few imaginative details to make him believe it,” Liyanna explained. She had seen through the lie and saw more than she bargained for in Fred’s mind. She hoped most of the images were just the result of a very vivid imagination.
“Shouldn’t we follow him?” S7 said.
“No. We don’t need him anymore. Arty’s in an underground lab.”
“Do you know where?”
We’re standing on it. Basco, are you in?”
“Almost there…” The man’s hand moved in precision, pointing, tapping, pushing and pulling sideways in the air. The youngest among the Guards, his head was shaved with three stripes on each side and the middle portion tied in a braid. An earring flashed red in one ear, blinking at every movement his hands made. “I see another firewall. Could be that lab.” His fingers moved rapidly over an invisible keyboard. “And…we’re…in. Aha! Hm. Interesting but…not surprising. We have a matching copy of the lab’s layout with HQ. I’m pulling out our—”
“What’s interesting?” Mindy asked.
“This island is manmade and it’s not meant to stay in one place. Anyone who gets a glimpse of it will think it’s just one of the Philippines’ islands that appear during low tide. They’d only see a small, uninhabited piece of land because of the cloaking device surrounding the area. But that’s not all of it. Our island is part of a bigger manmade land mass and when the “party” starts, it means the convergence of all islands into one.” Next to the laboratory’s floor plan, the map Basco showed the Pacific Ocean and the countries near it. Red markers, representing the islands, moved towards the center of the ocean. Their own was on its way to merging with the others. “One grand reunion.”
“Something bigger is going on. We shouldn’t have come here,” S7 said. When Liyanna didn’t respond, he shook her by the shoulders. Mindy blocked the Sentry about to lunge at him. “What’s wrong with you?”
Liyanna stared blankly ahead. Something was tugging at her consciousness repeatedly ever since she stepped foot in the third dimension. She remembered its significance just now. It was the cord that connected her to her bonded mate. It was getting weaker and this drove her to project her astral body to find out what was happening.”
“Arty?!” Arturion held the Cord, a three-inch thick white rope, in both hands. He chanted to himself. The Cord thinned a centimeter. She gasped. He was trying to break the bond. “Arty, don’t do this!”
Slowly, his eyes met hers. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know – the bond.”
“We put it there” she swallowed. “A different lifetime.”
“You should never have come for me. I didn’t ask you to save me.” Head bowed, he continued the mantra.
“Wake up!” The sting of her cheek jolted her back to her physical body. In front of her, a Sentry loomed over S7, who sat on the floor glowering at his attacker.
“Sentry Martel,” Liyanna called. “Find Pellinor and take him to me.” The Sentry reluctantly turned his back from the ex-spy. He bowed to her and disappeared.
She looked at her team. “You are right, S7. We shouldn’t have come here. Basco, send a message to the nearest squad that we’ll be joining them.” She edged closer to the boundary of their circle. “I’m sorry.” Light swallowed Liyanna, the last she saw was Mindy staring at her with sadness. She was the only person who could easily read Liyanna without eavesdropping on her thoughts.
Liyanna followed the fading Cord. Midway, it vanished. Panic made her lose control of her Merkaba. She dropped on the floor, her elbow disturbing a table filled with laboratory equipment. One Erlenmeyer flask, which stood too close to the edge, dropped with a crash. Glass scattered in all directions. The liquid it contained sizzled and dissolved everything it touched. Burnt rubber invaded her nose. The chemical was slowly eating away the sole of her shoe. It had also come into contact with her jeans, the holes down her pant leg as evidence. She retreated from the spillage, careful not to break anything while looking for a place to hide. Men were getting closer, drawn by the sound coming from the lab. A hand pressed on her mouth, making her stiffen.
It is I, Liyanna, Pellinor said. He pulled her behind a desk at the corner.
Two scientists entered. The same ones she had sensed. They had come to investigate where the sound had come from. Pellinor’s Glamour found its way toward them. Instantly, the incident was forgotten and they returned to their initial task.
“You left your circle.” The man speaking to her wore a clean laboratory coat which looked a size bigger than his thin frame. His shaggy hair hid pointed ears and his eyes were like a cat’s. “The witch wouldn’t let me return to my true form,” he explained.
“I can’t find him.” She gasped for air.
“Then, there’s no point in completing this mission.” He offered a hand to take her far away from this place.
“The energies—” Liyanna could feel the energies overwhelming her physical being. Without the bond, there was no one to share it with. In an hour, moving would feel like wading in deep water. Liyanna would be lucky if she even lasted for three days.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.