Enter ‘Le Blonde
He was right. Nixion did not like the plan at all. In fact, if he was honestly upright about it, Nixion absolutely hated the plan. That is, if Mist’s idea was actually a plan at all. Which, in his opinion, wasn’t in the slightest. If it did count as a plan, though, it was not saying much to say that Nixion hated it. He hated just about everything, after all.
“No,” Nixion glared at Mist after he had explained. “Not that. I’m not going there.”
“Actually,” Mist said, scooping the files back into the bag and hoisting it over his shoulder once again. “You are. Take Mahogany with you too. You’re to keep an eye on her from now on.”
“I hate you…” Nixion muttered.
“You know, something tells me we’ve been here before,” Mist frowned. “Have we been through this before?”
“I hate you,” Nixion repeated, still glaring, as Mist made for the stairs out of the basement.
“Huh. This is happening again,” he said.
“Hate you,” Nixion said firmly, glaring at Mist.
“I know,” He said. “Stavan, you come with me. We need to get back to the Sanctuary.”
“’Kay.” Stavan said, hooking his thumbs into his pockets and flashing a smirk at Nixion as he passed him.
“Hate you both.”
“We know,” Mist and Stavan both said in unison.
“If it’s any consolation,” said Stavan, “We hate you too.” And they left Nixion in the basement to glower at the place they had just been.
Nixion Strange and Mahogany Reen were walking up the short pathway that led to the small, white house. Nixion’s movements were bitter, Mahogany’s solemn. His insides squirmed with discomfort and dreaded anticipation. Nixion’s jacket was zipped against the cold and the howling wind sent shivers down his spine, but Mahogany was dressed in her usual faded blood-red shirt and her usual faded white pants, contained in a bubble of pure calm. As his hair and clothes billowed wildly in the wind and his entire body excluding his protected hands froze, Nixion reflected longingly that he could manipulate the air around him as well…
All too soon they had reached the front door, painted a pale blue, and Mahogany had knocked on it firmly, three times with a fist. Nixion was hoping the wait may have been a bit longer, simply to delay what he couldn’t exactly escape from anymore. Unfortunately for him, the door opened almost at once, slowly, obediently, and a welcome wave of soft heat drifted over him. Nixion’s stomach dropped again, however, as he looked into the face of the balding man who had opened the door in response. It was not an altogether striking image of their fallen ally, but it was close all the same, and Nixion saw enough resemblance in his expression to make him feel horrible again. Silently, he cursed Mist for bringing this on him.
The aging man surveyed them for a few moments, and then stepped aside to allow them entry.
“I suppose you’d better come in then…” Thomas Iron’s father said grimly.
And Nixion stepped over the threshold after Mahogany feeling too awful to appreciate the warmth of his new surroundings. He vaguely heard the door close softly behind them and the man ushered them quietly into the next room, gesturing to the large couch in front of a rocking chair. Nixion and Mahogany took the couch while Thomas’s father sat in the rocking chair and the woman Nixion knew to be Thomas’s mother walked in with a grim expression to sit beside her husband.
“We’re here to talk about Thomas,” Mahogany begun softly. “Your son.”
Thomas’s mother nodded slowly and sombrely. Nixion suspected they knew already, despite the complete lack of information release from the Sanctuary. He and Mahogany weren’t exactly doing a very good job pretending otherwise either.
“I’m very sorry,” Nixion said abruptly, not entirely sure why the words were coming out of his mouth.
“No you aren’t,” a harsh voice came from behind them and Nixion craned his neck around to see someone who looked almost precisely like an older version of Thomas striding towards them and his parents. He looked to be in his late twenties and was an excellent copy of Thomas, though Nixion knew he was probably a lot older because of magic. The scar across his left eye and his wilder hair were the only things that differed from Nixion’s last memoires of Thomas. That and the fact that he was older and taller than Thomas had been.
Nixion frowned at the man as he joined his parents and received a fierce glare in return. Nixion looked away hastily. He couldn’t blame Thomas’s brother, but all the same…There was something about his eyes that seemed to drill holes into him.
Nixion pushed the thoughts of Mist away from his mind. He didn’t want to think about him. He needed to concentrate. Concentrate on the horrible situation he was currently in.
“This is Loader,” the father said rather reluctantly as his eldest son stood beside him, arms folded.
“Don’t call me that,” Loader snapped at his father.
Thomas’s mother nodded, seemingly for no reason, and, looking rather lost, stood up abruptly and walked out of the room again. She returned moments later with a tray loaded with cookies and tea which she then set down on the polished table in front of them.
Mahogany took a cup of tea and took a sip.
Nixion frowned at the tray.
Thomas’s mother sniffed.
Thomas’s father sighed.
Thomas’s brother seethed with silent rage.
“I’m afraid we have some…unfortunate news…” Mahogany said softly, deciding to address the matter fairly quickly. Nixion didn’t think it was the best approach, but if it got him out of here faster, then he didn’t really care how it was done.
“Oh?” Loader asked, the darkness in his glare spearing through in his speech as well. Nixion caught sight of the black handle of something tucked away in his belt that was pulsing slightly. Thomas’s brother, Nixion now knew, was a Necromancer.
“Your son, Thomas,” Mahogany continued in her same, quiet tone, deciding to direct her speech to the parents only. “Has…passed.”
“We know that,” Loader snarled. “How?”
His eyes were daggers, filling with a darkness that was also beginning to writhe around the handle Nixion could see.
“Your brother was killed while working on a Top-Secret Operation for the Australian Sanctuary,” Mahogany said, now dropping the soft tone and redirecting her speech only to Loader. Nixion had never really known Mahogany to be one to talk much. Although, this was reasonable, seeing as Nixion barely knew Mahogany at all. She probably spoke heaps a lot of the time. And here she was, doing something he was refusing to.
He couldn’t face talking to Thomas’s parents, and Thomas’s brother looked as if he was ready to kill someone, most likely them.
Thomas’s mother let out a strangled noise that could have been a choked cry of misery or a groan of depression.
“So he died for a pathetic cause?” Loader growled menacingly.
Nixion looked at the father to see him shifting in his seat uncomfortably as his son spoke to them. He frowned as he watched, unsure of what was going on.
“He died doing a noble thing,” Mahogany countered. “Thomas was trying to make the world a better place.”
“Don’t say his name,” Thomas’s brother’s eyes were drilling holes into Mahogany. “Don’t say his name. You have no idea…” His sentence was left hanging and his knuckles were pure white as his fists clenched tightly.
Thomas’s mother was deathly pale and her lips had drained of colour, her eyes fearful and hands trembling. She was backed up against the far wall now, watching her son carefully and Nixion realized that she was observing him out of fear. Loader was ready to snap…
“Son…” the father started feebly, but was cut off at once.
“Shut up, old man,” Loader growled in something that was so beat-like that Nixion was taken by surprise and his hand automatically slipped towards the handle that was his machete, protruding from its holster. It was not a movement he had intended to happen, but he did not relinquish his grip as Loader and Mahogany continued exchanging barely controlled speech when.
The father shut up as he was told and slowly removed himself from the chair and paced slowly over to join his wife at the far wall. Loader did not seem to notice.
“Thomas Iron was trying to prevent a war.” Mahogany said firmly, still staring at Loader defiantly, having ignored his command to keep his deceased brother’s name absent from the conversation.
“Who cares?” Loader roared, letting his arms unfold and leap to his sides, fists still clenched tightly. Nixion’s grip on the handle of his machete tightened a fraction. “He still died, didn’t he?” Thomas’s mother muffled her gasp with her sleeve, but still Loader ignored his parent’s obvious petrification.
“He died trying to protect the country,” Mahogany said calmly. “Your anger is understandable, but I must ask you calm down.”
Loader let out a strangled cry of rage and begun yelling, even louder than before.
“This is all your fault!” he bellowed at Nixion and Mahogany and Nixion saw the mother quickly slip into the kitchen and out the door of the house, closely followed by her husband.
“Calm down…” Nixion muttered, half a glare of his own rising to his face.
“I’ll kill you!” Thomas’s brother roared and he grabbed the hilt of the weapon that was now swirling with dark, black energy and he pulled the pulsing machete from its holster.
“Hell…” Nixion cursed and leaped to his feet, pulling his own gleaming machete from his holster as Mahogany begun grinning madly at all the yelling, abandoning all composure and sensibility. Nixion made a mental note to yell at her later and ducked under a slice of shadow darkness that was send spitting from the black machete before darting forwards, ducking low to avoid another which tore a huge slit in the wall behind him.
He came up with a powerful fist which Loader pushed aside and brought his knee flying to meet Nixion’s ribs which hit with a sickening crack. Nixion staggered sideways, biting his tongue against the pain, something that he already knew was a stupid idea, but attempted to ignore it. He spun and sent a kick in his opponent’s general direction. But Loader had already ducked and he grabbed Nixion’s leg and spun him around through the air. Nixion cursed again, much louder this time, as he was released and was sent flying into Mahogany who was still sitting on the couch and still grinning uncontrollably despite the brutal fight that had just broken out in front of her.
Groaning and rolling his eyes, Nixion rolled off her lap and leaped to his feet, only to be sent tumbling back to the ground again as a wave of shadows was sent crashing into him. He rolled sideways to avoid a second wave of darkness flying his way and leaped to his feet again.
“You’re under arrest for unprovoked assault on a, uh, temporary Sanctuary official,” Nixion said loudly, surprising himself with how professional he sounded. “Come quietly now or we’ll be left with no choice but to use-” a fist of darkness took all the breath out of Nixion’s lungs but he clung onto the attack as it withdrew towards Loader. Nixion saw the Necromancer’s eyes widen as he realised what Nixion was doing but it was too late.
Nixion released the fist a split second later and was propelled into the brother, his kick meeting his chest in the centre and Loader was knocked backwards and Nixion saw him release his dagger as he did so. Nixion lowered his guard when he saw this, expecting a few seconds of pause in the battle, expecting Loader to hit the ground, expecting a few moments to anticipate further attacks. But Loader had hit the wall and had rebounded forwards instead and Nixion’s opponent remained, infuriatingly, on his feet.
Though his expectations had not gone to plan, Nixion saw that Loader was slightly disorientated at being knocked around as such and Nixion used these few seconds he had been provided with to attack. He dived, aiming for a low tackle from the side and he took Loader off his feet and crashing back onto the ground.
The small room that had been cosy and warm only a few moments ago had turned into a battlefield littered with fragments of furniture.
Not risking a moment of hesitation, Nixion bought a ready fist up and sent it crashing down on the Loader’s head. He heard the satisfying smack of his recently gloved fist against flesh and bone, and Nixion bought it back up for another strike. But this time Loader lashed out an attack, whether planned or out of panic or desperation, Nixion could not tell. Loader’s knee smacked against the back of Nixion’s head and stars burst in front of him as pain exploded from behind and Nixion was thrown off, disorientated. Nixion vaguely registered the hazy image of Loader’s hand gripping a leg of the small wooden drawer behind him, but was too disorientated to do anything about it. Thomas’s brother half threw, half forced the drawer upwards and it splintered into pieces upon contact with his head.
Pain exploded from all over Nixion as three consecutive attacks made contact with his stomach as well and he did not know where he was anymore, blinded by agony and thrown off balance by disorientation. He could feel the powerful objects that were Loader’s fists raining down all over his body and the long surface against his back and head that was the floor as he was thrown back onto it. His vision slowly faded back into view as the attacks ceased for a moment and Nixion caught sight of Mahogany who had now stopped grinning and laughing. He shot her a look of disbelief and she hesitated, then raised her arm once and splayed her hand and he felt Loader’s attacks cease entirely and heard his body hit the wall behind him. Head spinning wildly, Nixion staggered to his feet and turned to face Loader who was already standing again.
Instinctively, Nixion let his fist fly towards his opponent as he moved in and it made contact with the side of Loader’s face. Thomas’s brother’s head jerked sideways as it made contact and Nixion hit him again. And again. Once more. Loader was sent crashing into the wall again with a final sickening attack to the face and slid to the ground.
Nixion staggered backwards a few steps before sinking to the ground himself, releasing his machete and panting heavily. He was sweating and aching all over. It was times like these that he wished he had the money to pay for protective clothing… Nixion doubled over, his hand rising to his head where the drawer had smashed against it and saw some dark liquid against the black of his gloves. Blood.
He raised his eyesight to look at Loader.
His hair was messy and untamed and eyes were bloodshot, unfocused. He had a dark patch under his scarred eye and his clothes were battered. But it was not any of this that made Nixion swear.
It was the dagger that was pointed at him again, and the spear of darkness speeding towards his heart.
Before he knew what was happening, the spear had flickered and then dissipated from his view and Loader was engulfed in flame and screaming. Nixion turned to see Mahogany’s arms both raised, one directed at Loader, the other at the place the spear had just been.+
Nixion passed out a moment later, Mist’s voice ringing in his head with the accompanying inquiries as to why Mahogany had not intervened sooner.
“From now on we’re going to need to know what everyone is doing. Every move…”
It could only have been a few moments before he awoke again, however. His body ached and head throbbed. Loader was unconscious and drenched in water and Mahogany was a few feet in front of him, pulling out a pair of shackles.
“Force,” Mahogany said, finishing Nixion’s sentence that had been cut short when the battle had first started. Nixion rolled his eyes and let his head loll backwards.
“Let’s just get back to the Sanctuary…” he muttered. Before he started killing something.
Zathract and Stavan strode through the dark, abandoned school, clothing zipped up tight against the cold and their hands firmly fixed in pockets, trying and failing to keep them warm. Not Zathract’s gloves, nor jacket, nor shirt, nor pants ever kept him warm when approaching the Sanctuary. There were times when he hated the precautions set up against the place, but at least it did what it was meant to do; keep mortals away.
The sky above was grey. They sky above the school was always grey, but today the rest of the surrounding sky was grey and full of black clouds as well. A storm was coming… They passed a crumbling building and stepped into the decaying remains of the canteen. Zathract knelt beside the cracked tile and summoned flame to his hand with a click of his fingers. The magically enhanced tile detected the magic offered to it, then the entrance to the Sanctuary opened up in the form of a descending staircase which Zathract and Stavan walked down. The ceiling reformed above them and they paced through the long hallway that led to the larger parts of the Sanctuary.
Zathract had called the team, excluding Nix and Mahogany, and told them to meet up in the Sanctuary at two in the afternoon. He had called Lyra and told her to be there and a quarter to two. This would, hopefully, leave Zathact and Stavan enough time to explain everything to her and, if needed, convince her of the importance of her contribution to their plan of action against the traitor.
However, it appeared that Lyra was unwilling to wait the ten extra minutes that made the gap in-between the time Zathract and Stavan would arrive and the time set for their meet, for they had only travelled halfway down the corridor when the sounds of the ceiling behind them being forced apart again came drifting towards their ears. They turned to see Lyra Blue striding down the staircase and entering the dimly-lit corridor by firelight and nodding to them in greeting. The two nodded back and continued their way towards the wooden door at the end of the path.
By the time Zathract and Stavan had reached the large wooden door that opened to the rest of the Sanctuary, Lyra had already joined their side and entered alongside them.
“Ah,” the administrator said briskly, hurrying forwards to meet them. “Mr Mist,”
Zathract mumbled something darkly, glad that Nixion was not there to hear the administrator address him as such.
“Whatever…” Lyra muttered quietly.
“And…” the administrator said, turning to Stavan. “Uh…What’s your last name?”
Stavan merely offered a grunt before striding forwards past the administrator and Zathract and Lyra followed, giving him a shrug in return. They made their way across to the large room full of couches and chairs that they had spent their time in the previous few days and, at a nod from Zathract, Stavan quickly preformed a quick circuit of the room and checked to make sure no one was hiding anywhere, trying to listen to their conversation while Zathract close the doors.
There were no cameras in the room. Stavan returned from the far end, confirming with a quick nod to Zathract that they were indeed alone in there, and they all sat down.
“So,” Lyra said, taking an entire lounge to herself and leaving the two males to settle with separate singular seats facing her. “What’s all this about then? Why’s no one else here?”
“Because,” Stavan said, getting straight to the point. “We need to talk to you privately.”
Lyra raised an eyebrow.
“And you chose to carry out a private conversation at the Sanctuary?”
“We’re a bit tight on time,” Zathract said.
“We are,” Stavan nodded. “Quite tight.”
“Tight enough to risk a secret conversation that doesn’t seem to concern the rest of our little rebellious group in the open and thoroughly un-private refuge of the Sanctuary?” Lyra asked.
“Of course,” Stavan continued and Zathract decided to sit back and let him speak.
“Because we’re tight on time, we’ve just said that.”
“You’ve just said that.”
“Zath said it too.”
Zathract sat up. “Call me that again and I’ll hurt you,” he said sharply.
Stavan rolled his eyes and Lyra smirked.
“So how tight are we on time then?” Lyra continued.
“We have about ten minutes until the others get here,” Zathract said, letting himself fall back into the chair again. “That should be enough time for Stavan to explain everything that’s going on.”
“What?” Stavan asked, turning his head to look at Zathract with an incredulous expression. “Why do-?”
“Go on,” Zathract nodded with a small grin and watched as Stavan grumbled a bit before launching into a mimic explanation that had been offered to him before.
Lyra had remained silent during the time Stavan talked. So had Zathract, speaking up only to interject small detail his companion may have missed. When Stavan had finished, Lyra simply frowned at the two for a few moments as if trying to decide whether or not to believe them.
“And why do you think you can trust me?” she asked.
“Everyone asks that…” Stavan muttered.
“Because we can,” Zathract replied simply. “We’ve discussed this.”
“Not really,” Stavan said. “More like ‘briefly and un-thoroughly skated over’.”
“So you’re just hoping?” Lyra asked them.
“Indeed we are,” Zathract nodded. “You in or not?”
There was a pause, but only a short one before Lyra nodded.
“Okay,” she said. “And Redeem person; how do you know she can be trusted?”
“There’s no point in discussing Slayn,” Zathract said with a grin. “You’ll see why when you’ll meet her.”
“Alright then,” Lyra said and stood up, walking towards the doors while Zathract and Stavan followed.
She unlocked them and they walked out of the room as a very battered, very tired looking Nixion Strange staggered in with Mahogany Reen dragging an unconscious man drenched in water by the leg behind her.
“Any trouble?” Stavan asked, flashing a smirk at Nixion again.
“Some…” he muttered in reply and staggered off, probably to find some healers.
“Don’t go too far,” Zathract called after him. “The others will be here soon.”
Nixion did not reply and Mahogany walked after him, dragging the unconscious man behind him.
“Thomas’s brother,” she said to the three of them as she walked off. “He didn’t exactly take the news very well.”
As Mahogany Reen disappeared around the corner Hunter and Kali walked into the room.
“Where’s Dark?” Stavan asked Hunter.
“Coming,” was all that the Vampire offered in return.
“Right…” Stavan frowned.
But a fully-healed Nixion Strange and an empty handed Mahogany Reen had already returned to their midst by the time Neon Dark walked himself into the Sanctuary.
“Sorry,” he said at ten past two. “I was held up,”
“Okay,” Zathract said, taking charge again. “Now that we’re all here, I’m going to tell you what we’re all going to do. Neon, Lyra and Kali are all going to go and see Gabriel Cobalt for any information he can give us about The Remaining.”
“He tried to kill me once before,” Dark said in an undertone.
“He’s tried to kill me twice in the past year alone,” Lyra muttered.
“He’s tried to kill me three times now,” Stavan sighed.
“He’s tried to kill me seven times,” Mist offered.
“And he’s tried to kill me fourteen times as well as offered me hospitality for a single night and also hired me once to murder someone,” Nixion said roughly, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, great, he’s probably tried to kill us all sometime.”
“He’s never tried to kill me,” Mahogany said cheerfully.
“Then maybe we should send you there and see what happens,” Nixion snapped. “Get it out of the way.”
There was an awkward silence after that which was interrupted by Zathract a few moments later.
“Anyway…” he continued. “We’re going to go see him and the rest of you are going to have your fighting skills sharpened up here by a friend of mine.”
Nixion frowned. Hunter frowned. Mahogany looked blank.
“My fighting skills are better than most,” Stavan said, mildly annoyed and Nixion nodded in agreement.
“Who’s doing it?” Nixion asked him.
“Her,” Zathract said, nodding to the entrance to the Sanctuary behind them and they all turned to see Slayn Redeem striding into the Sanctuary, her usual cocky grin fixed on her face.