Meanwhile in Andorra la Verra, Bryn stood between her big brothers trying to grab the last piece of garlic bread. She slapped Arthur's hand away from it, "I saw it first!"
"That's what you always say, you pipsqueak." Her blond, black eyed brother said as he looked down at her from his six foot height.
"I do not!" She grabbed it and stuck her tongue out at him, then moved to sit by her mother.
"Behave yourself and apologize to your brother." Her mother chided gently, Bryn made a face, "Now, Bryn or you'll go to your room for the rest of the night."
"I'm sorry." Bryn sullenly said.
"Thank you, and Arthur, you apologize to your sister as well."
"Back at ya." Arthur said and sat by their dad.
Their mother, Samantha, rolled her eyes but let it rest. Suddenly she tensed up, something wasn't quite right. Bryn looked at her mother curiously as Samantha walked away in a daze.
"No, not him. It can't be him." Sam murmured. Jack got up and followed her, waving to the kids to stay seated.
Suddenly to their right a man appeared. "Sister." The tall, thin man said. She gasped when she saw his face, it was cut and scarred badly. His dark hair was uneven, the dark eyes were unfocused.
"Turok. What are you doing here? I thought I made it clear that I never wanted to see you again." Sam's voice held contempt.
"I wouldn't have come except there's a greater threat than I in this world. Donestk has come for the children." He waited for the exclamations of the couple to die down before he proceeded. "He's taken my Rumina and the firebrand, Maeve. His daughter is water. Donestk is here for Bryn." Their eyes turned to the little girl, who was wrestling with her brothers. "She's pretty tough. Does she know the truth about who she is?"
"No, we never thought we'd have to tell her." Jake said, angrily. The sound of thundering hooves in the still of the night stopped the conversation. Sam and Turok exchanged a look, then in unison, chanted an illusion spell. This spell enshrouded the whole area around them in a protective barrier and covered them in darkness.
Donestk's voice rang out, "Don't be foolish, you can't hide from me! Hand over the girl and you will be allowed to live!"
"Say nothing. He's trying to make us reveal ourselves." Sam's voice whispered in the groups minds. Bryn bit her lip hard enough to draw blood and swallowed her comment. "Good girl." After several tense moments, Donestk called for a retreat. Even then, Turok and Sam kept the spell up and wouldn't let a word be said. "Rest now."
Turok turned to his sister. "Please, you must help me find my daughter."
"How do we know that this isn't another of your tricks, Turok? You could be working for him."
"No. I may have sold myself to the dark arts, but I would never deliberately bring Rumina into any danger. I owe Sara that much." He sighed, "Examine my mind if you doubt me. But what kind of father would I be if I let my daughter suffer for my mistakes?"
Sam looked at her husband. "I believe you." She looked down at the small hand that touched her arm. "What is it, Bryn?"
"Why did that man want me?" Her normally laughing eyes were filled with seriousness as she looked up into her gray eyes.
Turok looked at Bryn and his heart broke at how much she resembled Rumina. She had the same soft eyes and dark hair. He looked at his sister, then at Bryn. "Come here, please."
Bryn looked at the sad man and walked over to him, he looked into those gentle eyes. They reminded him of Drewe. "It isn't easy to explain."
"Nothing with bad men involved ever is." She climbed onto his lap, laying her head on his shoulder. "I've dreamed about you."
Jake made a move towards his daughter, but Sam stopped him. "Wait. Let's see how much she realizes." Turok was surprised by Bryn's gesture.
"Are you my father?" Bryn calmly asked, unaware of the Pandora's box she was unleashing. Then looked up when there was a deafening silence. "Well?"
"Yes." His voice sounded hoarse and raspy.
"Didn't you want me?" Bryn asked, confusion on her small face.
"I didn't know about you until my sister told me that your mother had died giving birth to you. It's not that I didn't want you, but I had just lost my wife when she gave birth to your sister, Rumina." He rubbed his forehead. "I asked Sam to take care of you and raise you as her own child. I never thought that the truth would need to be revealed. That man was Donestk, he wants your powers. He has already taken my Rumina and has two others."
"Yes. I have dreamed of them, they escaped. They're in Tinneletieeb with a woman named Geneva and her niece, Peri." Bryn yawned and snuggled into her father's embrace. She quickly fell asleep, he held her close and smiled softly.
"Was there ever a man blessed with such a treasure?" He asked no one in particular, his heart swelled with gratitude for his little daughter. Turok rocked his Bryn all night, his tears wetting her hair. Jake and Sam walked away, leaving them alone. Turok shot them a grateful look.
"Sam, are you crazy? We can't trust him!" Jake was livid. His eyes flashed a black fire at her, his hands ran through his blond hair in frustration.
"We can't afford not to." She told him, "I know you don't trust him, I don't either. You have good reason to, remember I was there for your sister while she waited for him to return. I saw what happened to her. But that man, Donestk, he presents a threat to this world greater than Turok ever could."
She sighed and stared at the dark, starry sky. "For now, we are relatively safe. But Bryn is a powerful child, stronger than her father or mother. The other children are as well, they were born for this day. This day has been foretold to us by the Guardians, the explorers of the heavens."
"So, I have to put my trust in that man who destroyed my sister with his carelessness!"
"No." She gently corrected, "You have to put your trust in the elemental guardians."
"But they are only children. How can they possibly succeed where you cannot?"
"How is it that you can you have lived so long around those with magic and not have learned that things are not always as they seem?" Sam chided gently, "They are children, I agree. But children believe that all things are possible, don't they? It is their absolute faith and trust that will give them the strength to succeed where all others have failed."
They passed the night in silence. Jake sat alone, wrestling with his bitter feelings for Turok. It was especially hard for him to see his sister's child nestled securely in that man's arms and knowing that he would have to let her go. By the light of the dawning sun, Jake finally set aside his feelings for the good of the children.
Sam watched her husband in concern, but knew better than to try to help him resolve his inner battles. One thing Sam knew for sure was that, come morning, they would go to Tinneletieeb.
Bryn woke up on Turok's lap. She looked up at him, "It wasn't a dream?"
"No. Are you surprised?" He smiled down at her in the dim morning light which cast a golden hue around their small camp. The boys were already stirring in their beds. The embers finally died out and Jake started a new fire a little way off. Soon the smell of good food cooking roused the rest of the camp.
"In a way, I am. So, I have a sister? What a relief after being surrounded by boys all my life!" She grinned widely, the mischief in her eyes sparking to life in their dark depths. Then died as she thought of something serious. "Do you think she'll like me?"
"Yes, you do." He seriously considered her second question. "I hope she will, but it will be quite a shock to her."
"She doesn't know about me?" He shook his head, and she sighed sadly. "You're one for secrets, aren't you?"
"Breakfast!" Jake called.
Bryn leapt off Turok's lap and ran to the food, calling over her shoulder, "Hurry up or they'll eat it all!"
"Look who's talking! The walking food disposal!" Jon, her oldest brother said. He resembled Jake and Arthur strongly.
"I have a lot of catching up with you guys to do." She said over her shoulder as she grabbed a large helping of food. Turok sat by the trees, laughing at their banter. Bryn came back with a plate of food for him. They sat in a semi-circle, talking about last night. Well, the adults were trying to, but it was kind of hard with the kids joking and playing with each other.
They headed out that day and hitched a ride with a passing farmer on his way to market. After arriving in town, they left the boys with their grandparents.
After a few days, Sam announced, "We've got to make it to the coast before it gets much later. Turok and I can't keep this up much longer." Suddenly Sam stopped and stared at a man in the road in disbelief. "Master Dim-Dim! I thought you were still in Baghdad."
"Hello, child. I was, but I was sent here by them. I've come to take you all to Tinneletieeb." He bowed and they ran to him, they joined hands and disappeared. When Bryn opened her eyes, she saw four other girls whose powers made her faint.
"Bryn!" Turok caught his daughter as she fell over. Then turned to look at Dim-Dim when a high pitched "Daddy!" cut through the air. He saw his Rumina running over to him and the tears streamed down both their faces. Jake gladly took Bryn to allow the father and daughter a reunion.
They looked at Dim-Dim. "Don't worry, my children, she has never come into such close contact with such powers. She'll recover in a few minutes." True to his word, a few minutes later, Bryn opened her eyes and looked at the others.
She was struck by how much she resembled one of them and walked straight over to her. "Well, I believe in taking the bull by the horns." She said under her breath, "Hi, I'm your half sister Bryn and you must be Rumina."
The other girl looked a bit shocked by her bluntness and glanced at her father, his look said it all. "A pleasure, I guess."
The other girl grinned widely. "Kind of hard to take, aren't I?" Bryn then turned to the other girls. "You must be Maeve, Peri, and Coral." She shook hands with them and Maeve decided that she rather liked the petite brunette. After the introductions were taken care of, the grown ups went to one side and talked. Maeve and the girls walked around the small encampment, Bryn's eyes widened as she took in all the activity. "Is it always this busy?"
"Not always, but your sudden arrival meant emergency preparations for the men."
"The men? They do they cooking around here?"
"Yup. Here, if a man can't cook, it is considered a disgrace to his family name." Maeve grinned, "Wild, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Considering that I have a couple of brothers who couldn't find the kitchen if their lives depended on it." Her expression was so serious, they couldn't tell if she was joking. But then her eyes gave her away, they saw that there was laughter lurking in them.
That night, over the fire, Dim-Dim, Sam, Geneva, and Turok called the Guardians. The girls felt something surround them, a strange sense of belonging. "They are here." A deep voice above them intoned. To their right, a rainbow of light appeared and began to become brighter and deeper till they were blinded by its radiance. When they opened their eyes, a strange vessel was in front of them.
It was shaped like an oyster shell, smooth with no visible entrance way. There could see no windows. The silvery color shone in the moonlight like a freshly polished pearl, the iridescent color mesmerized them. For a few moments they stared at the ship, not seeing the figures who emerged from the other side till the voice called them forward. These beings stood tall and straight, their slender figures possessed strength and a sense of great wisdom emanated from them.
Maeve and Bryn stepped boldly forward, the other three timidly followed after them.
One of their numbers came towards them, meeting them in the middle. "We are the Guardians. You are the chosen ones. Maeve, the firebrand. Rumina, the wind. Coral, the water. Peri, the earth. Bryn, the heart."
The figure pulled back his brown hood to reveal a kind face. But it was unlike any other human face they'd ever seen. The deep set aquamarine eyes were warm with welcome, the long red blonde hair reminded the girls of a lion. "I am Orion. Please, there isn't much time. Into the ship and all will be explained."
He looked at their families, "Thank you for trusting in them enough to let them go. They will be safe with us." The girls ran back to them and in a flurry of hugs and kisses, said their good byes.
Maeve stayed with Orion, alone and saddened. She envied the other girls, for she had no family to say good bye to as they were all gone. She resolutely blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. Later she would let them fall, but right now she had to concentrate on the present. Geneva came over and hugged Maeve, "Good luck, fire child."
Orion lifted a hand and the girls followed him into the vessel, the door closing behind them. Turok waved to both his little girls and prayed that nothing would happen to them. The vessel disappeared from their sight and they faded away into the night, praying for them all. Aboard the ship, the girls were shown to their rooms. "I'm sure you'd all like to share a room for your first night here, so it has been prepared for you. But you will have your own rooms after tonight in this wing of our ship, by the way you are aboard the Galaxy."
The area Orion showed them was large and had five beds prepared for them. They had their own special areas in this room decorated to their individual tastes and, though they varied widely, somehow it just seemed to work. In one corner, there was a row of doors which Orion pointed to. "Those lead to the galley, library, and control room. You may go anywhere in this ship and if you ever get lost, just think of where you'd like to be and you will be teleported there."
The girls nodded silently, still trying to take all these changes in. Orion bowed and left them alone. "What should we do first?" Coral hesitantly asked.
Maeve shrugged, then her eyes lit up with a funny light. Before the girls could contemplate what she intended to do, she picked up a pink pillow and heaved it at Bryn. The other girl was startled but retaliated by throwing a lacy blue one. Maeve ducked and it hit Peri, who tossed a green one Bryn's way but that one hit Rumina. Soon pillows were flying all over the room as the girls jumped on the beds and laughter filled the room.
"Will they be all right?" One of the Guardians, whose name was Mushu, asked Orion.
He paused, thinking back to the looks on their faces and the feelings he'd felt from them. "I really don't..." His voice trailed off as he heard the laughter and noises coming from their room. He grinned widely, "They'll be just fine."
"But how can you be so sure?" Vishnu asked. He was new to their order and hadn't yet gotten used to following his instincts.
"Listen to them. They may fall down, but they are the kind who won't take any setback as permanent." Orion wisely nodded, "They will succeed." Yet he was worried, they would still be very young when they returned to face Donestk.
"No, this cannot be!" Donestk shouted in fury. "They can't have simply disappeared!" Then he felt it, that undefinable presence of them. The guardians. They were safe and out of his hands, his face contorted in rage. The men backed away from their leader, in one of these moods he was capable of doing of anything that struck his fancy. Ramos heard his voice and was thankful, for once, to be in the oubliette. He pitied the men who were around their leader.
Donestk paced the room furiously, "You've won. For now, but you will have to come back and when you do, I shall finally have what is rightfully mine!" His chilling laughter filled the air, striking fear into the souls of those who heard it. But it would be several earth years before he would get a chance at them.
The girls fell into one bed, overcome with tears and laughter. "This won't be so bad. At least they aren't going to stop us from having some fun." Bryn observed, then her mouth dropped open as she surveyed the room. "Oh, boy."
The others looked around in surprise. "Did we actually do that?" Rumina asked. The room looked as though a mini hurricane had torn through it. The sheets were mussed, closet doors were thrown open and clothes were falling onto the floor. The pillows were all over, and there were some clothes hanging on the pictures, their shoes were flung all over the place. Comforters were twisted into thick ropes, books were spilled on the floor.
"We're dead!" Groaned Peri, covering her eyes with her hands. "Do you realize that we have to clean all this up before we can go to sleep?"
"Yup. How did this happen anyway?" Maeve asked, as she leaned on her right arm.
"I think it started like this!" And with only that warning, Coral brought the purple pillow down onto Maeve's head.
"Traitor!" She shrieked and chaos ensued once more as they grabbed pillows from all over and threw them, and assorted other stuff, at each other once more.
Suddenly a stern voice cut across the din in the room. "Enough!" Instantly, the battle ceased and the girls looked up to see a matronly figure standing in the doorway. She was tall and had silvery hair. Her gray eyes surveyed the damage and the young ladies staring at floor. "I am Hecate. It is time to turn in, now I want you to pick up this mess and return everything to its proper place."
"What was it I said about them and fun?" Bryn muttered as she bent over and picked up some of the clothes. They worked quickly and soon had the room restored to order. Then they climbed into their new p.j.'s and the lights were turned off. "Night, gals."
"Night." Came a chorus of voices. They didn't expect to get much sleep that night but all the events from the previous days had built up and they dropped easily into a dreamless sleep, sleeping until late in the day.
Orion appeared at their breakfast and outlined the schedule they'd be following. He told them that time moved at a different pace here, they wouldn't age as they would on earth. Time was slower here. He then went on to explain how they would spend their days. It was an easy enough routine, they'd learn about the history of magic and their own magic. They would have various duties to perform until it was time to return. "I know this is slightly frightening to you. But this is something that only you five can accomplish."
"Why us?" Maeve asked, curious as to know why it was them out of all those who have gone before.
Orion smiled slightly, "Because each of you can stand on your own. You can work independent of the others. In the past, the others had relied heavily upon each other and never developed that inner strength. Think of yourselves as a jigsaw puzzle, you see each others weaknesses and strengths, each piece can fully fill in those gaps. Never before, or ever again, will such perfect unity and strength be found."
Over the next few months, they progressed rapidly in learning their arts and techniques. Maeve learned the skills necessary not only to control her fire but to lead the girls effectively. It required a great deal of patience and learning to listen to her heart.
One day Bryn found Maeve starring out one of the few windows on the Galaxy. "What's the matter, o'fearless one?"
Maeve smiled wryly at the other girl's comment. "I don't know. I just don't think I'm cut out for this."
"For what?" She curiously asked, sitting beside her.
"Leadership. It's such a big responsibility, I don't know if I want it. I mean, wouldn't it make more sense to have the intuitive one lead? All I do is control fire, big deal. Fire, it burns and it's hot."
"Not to mention it purifies." Bryn said and nudged Maeve, "By intuitive one, I suppose you mean me?"
"Well, not you exactly, but yes." Maeve said defensively, "I mean, let's face it. You can sense the weaknesses and flaws in the enemy, you practically read their minds! You would know what move would be best because you could see things that I can't."
"Not true, my friend. My intuition is strong, it is what I do. But you have something I don't have." Maeve shook her head as if to ward off the words. "You do. Within you lies the courage to press on, to stand up and lead, even when things look the bleakest. I can do that, but only if push comes to shove. I prefer to be behind, in the wings, lifting others up to their greatest heights. While you could do that, it isn't the path for you, you are a true leader. You wouldn't be very happy playing that role."
Bryn pressed on relentlessly, for once ignoring the discomfort of her companion. "To do so would be to deny who you are. I know you don't want that responsibility to lead. Who would? That is another reason you're the chosen leader. Those who are not in love with power are the ones who would use it wisely and well. You may not think your main power is the greatest, but it does so much good. In the end, it will come down to a purging." She got up, "Think about it."
Maeve sat alone for several hours, Bryn's words circling in her mind. They haunted her with their absolute certainty. *Easy for her to be so positive, she doesn't have to lead. When she finally rejoined the group, she was no closer to being comfortable in her role but she knew her friends would be behind her all the way. She walked over to Bryn and sat down. "You can be a real pain in the butt, did you know that?"
"Yes, I did. But thanks for the reminder." Bryn smiled pertly and they laughed.
Orion sighed, for now the battle was won but he was afraid of what Maeve's fear of leading them would do to their chances at surviving the final battle.
*Oh, I'm too old for this. Orion walked over to the girls, "What's going on?"
"Nothing much, sir. Just an agreement on one of my better character traits." Bryn and Maeve exchanged looks.
"Well, just don't let it escalate into another food fight like you did last time." He reminded them, then smiled as the other girls joined them. Orion walked away after Mushu whispered something in his ear.
"You heard the man, no food fighting." Maeve moved over and Coral sat between them. Bryn and Rumina looked at each other across the table, smiling mischievously. "What are you up to now?"
"Up to something?"
"What on earth do you mean?" They looked up at Maeve, innocently.
"You know what I mean. Remember what Orion made us do after the last food fight?"
"Oh, yeah." They said together glumly, "We remember."
"Well, I don't want a repeat performance of it." They nodded and Bryn sent Maeve a knowing glance, which she correctly interpreted. "Hey, just because I'm decisive doesn't mean that I am ready to lead, missy."
"Whatever you say."