HOLY FLIPPING FART IT'S THE END!!!!!!!!!
After years of Prosperity, the fate of TARP comes into question...
Chapter 1: The Duel
Olaf threw back his cloak and put a hand on his sword, "I've had enough of this Meg, this time no more games, no magic, just you and me, and our swords."
Meg lowered her eyebrows, accepting the challenge, "You wanna go Snowman? I can do swords." Meg dropped her backpack and drew her sword from it's sheath, a two and a half foot long double-edged Chinese Jian (I don't know this is just how I'm imagining it).
Olaf shook his cloak from his shoulders, and pulled his own sword from it's scabbard. His single-edged blade subtly curved back, and glistened scarlet with the light, he looked down the blade for a moment.
Meg took a moment to observe their surroundings, the first thing she noticed, they were alone, nobody was going to get in the way, no interruptions, one look back at Olaf told her that this was part of the plan, whether or not he wanted this to happen, he had expected it, Olaf was clever, but that wouldn't save him in this fight, she took her stance, "You first."
Olaf began to circle around Meg, like a wolf, waiting for the right moment to pounce. Faster than a blink their swords both shot out and clashed in a bright light between them and just as quickly returned to their sides.
Meg began to circle as well, and they stared at each other, occasionally clashing swords for a second, testing each other's speed and strength. For a moment they stopped circling, swords in the defensive, then they clashed.
Lunge, feint, moulinet, parry, riposte, passata sotto, every sword fighting technique known converged into their sparking blades, years of built up hatred burnt with every step, every clash, every dodged blow. Time melted around them, they could have been fighting for minutes, hours, days, and they wouldn't have known the difference. Even the two young ones hidden nearby would never be able to remember how long they had watched.
"What are they doing?" Nevah asked Oscar. Meg and Olaf had been the closest she had to parents after she ran away from her home in Venice, and Olaf has even claimed her as his adopted daughter, but she had never seen him like this, Olaf was always calm, even when he didn't look it on the outside she could tell from his eyes that he was like a hurricane, calm at the very middle, always in control. And Meg could never be angry at anyone for long, and never very seriously. But as she watched, she saw them burn, burn with a fiery light she had only seen in her home in Venice before today, and even then it was nothing.
Oscar didn't answer, but stared in awe at the fighting in front of him. He had grown up on the streets, gone through military school and two wars. In every fight or battle he had seen or experienced, you never hated your enemy, you respected him. On the streets you couldn't waste your energy on emotion, and in war your couldn't waste your time on it, you simply knew what needed to happen, for survival or orders, and you stuck to that. You knew your enemy was doing the same as you, which is why you respected him, but you knew that you had to win, which is why he was you had to kill him. But hate? Hate was never part of the equation, hate made your job harder. Fighting was supposed to be a self-centered activity, you did it for your own goals, and you knew that your goals needed to be stronger than your enemies. But these two were not fighting self-centered, they were fighting for each other, each blow was not for their own plans, but against the others. And so Oscar could not answer.
While Oscar and Nevah each had their own experience with the combatants and fighting, they had no experience with Magic. Magic is an emotional fighting style, normal combat can only channel physical strength and thought, Magic however can channel any kind of energy, life energy, physical energy, even electrical energy if it came to it, but most often a practiced Magician will channel emotional energy, emotional energy can be built up easier than IKEA furniture, and so is the ideal source of power for Magic users. Olaf and Meg could fight with a sword, and even though Olaf hadn't used it much in recent years, they both knew Magic best, and so that was how they fought. Olaf's sword had about a foot longer reach, but he was out of practice, and Meg made every single mistake of his count, pushing him back.
Oscar whispered to Nevah, "This doesn't look good, we should get someone."
"No," Nevah said, "If one of them gets hurt while we're gone I won't be able to forgive myself."
Neither will I, Oscar thought, but... he let the thought trail, Nevah was right, if anything were to happen, it would take two of them to be of any use, one to help the wounded, and the other to hold the victor back.
And so they watched.
They watched every strike, every blow, from the first blood, to the last, when Meg's sword pierced Olaf's chest, and he breathed his last.
Chapter 2: Vengeance
Potter found Oscar and Nevah asleep, curled over Olaf's body together, covered in his blood and their tears. They would not say anything for weeks, and would not speak of the incident for months, and when they did, no one believed them, even though they had not seen Meg after it. They could not believe that Meg and Olaf, whom they trusted and loved, would fight to the death, but Oscar and Nevah believed, Oscar and Nevah saw.
A year after Olaf's death, they signed a secret pact, a pact sealed by their blood, that they would not rest until Olaf was avenged. Oscar and Nevah began to separate from the others, while they were normally on their own, they became more isolated than usual. Some assumed they were grieving, but even Polnaya, who had not been seen since her second litter, was spending more time with TARP than Oscar and Nevah were.
When they were not with TARP, they were searching for Meg, gathering resources, and when they were, they were trying to learn about Meg, her patterns, her places of interest, that they might find her.
Meg, however, was nowhere she had ever been before, nowhere she had ever planned to be, nowhere she had even considered planning to be. Meg was at Gicasim, Olaf's home.
While a fog had covered Nevah and Oscar's vision after Olaf's death, one had been lifted from Meg's.
Since long before she had begun to hate Olaf, the enchanting words of the sorceress Morgana had whispered in her ear, guiding her path, step by step, and when Meg had joined with those time travelling adventurers who called themselves TARP, Morgana immediately despised them and began to plot their demise.
Chapter 3: The Final Ending Begins
Morgana searched, and found many enemies of TARP throughout time and space, the mysterious Time Travellers Youth League, and their many branches; Atropos, the inevitable; Lyssa, the spirit of rage and madness; and many others.
But in her searches, only one person instead found her, The One. When first he told her his story, a shiver ran down the Lady Morgana's spine, and she was pleased. The One told her that he knew them from far in the future, at a moment when the fate of TARP was to be decided, and that the slightest shove could tip the scales. In his past, the scales had tipped in the favor of TARP, and through the blackest of luck, a hole in time had ripped open, and he was forced to endure this moment again and again, watching TARP live victoriously as he suffered. He was determined to never go through that again.
And so The One guided the subtle war against TARP, consistently drawing them together, and pulling them apart, and when the old traveller from Gicasim joined the ranks of TARP, he saw his chance.
Chapter 4: The Telling Corpse
Not long after Nevah and Oscar made their pact, Olaf's brother, Elessar, arrived at the TARP clubhouse, a wide grin on his face, "Where is my brother? There is something I want to show him!"
The older Nevah and Potter, who were there, looked at each other. "Did nobody tell him?" Potter asked. "Apparently not." They turned to look at Elessar with grave expressions, "Olaf, Olaf is dead."
The grin on Elessar's face melted, "Where is the body?"
Nevah growled, "It's no use, he's dead, he's been dead for a year, there's nothing you can do about it."
"WHERE IS THE BODY?" Elessar demanded.
"We- we buried him in the forest, about half a league from here." Potter stammered
Elessar turned around, swirling his cloak, and began to storm away.
"Now where do you think you're going mister?" Nevah questioned.
"He's not dead!" Elessar yelled behind him.
Nevah began to object, but Potter stopped her, "Now how could you possibly know that?"
Elessar opened the door, and struggled to decide whether to answer the question, "Because there's a body." He slammed the door
Chapter 5: The Last Seer of Gicasim
At first look, he wasn't a very impressive figure, small, relatively clean, dressed in jeans, a neat blue shirt, and a black hat. Under normal circumstances, Nevah and Oscar would have ignored him. However, being tied to a stake and about to be set on fire, was surprisingly enough, not normal circumstances for the two.
In their search for Meg, they had found themselves in some undeveloped village, got in an argument with some important looking fellow on some old law about sacred ground, and discovered that there was some other old law against stringing important people off of the church roof.
At the stake, Nevah and Oscar discovered that the population of a small village looks significantly larger when they are all angrily threatening you with torches. After about an hour of angry villagers yelling, and important people doing important paperwork, the important looking fellow from earlier stood on a pedestal, and was about to speak, when a wave of silence crashed over the crowd, and it began to split at one side.
At the center of the split, was the man, his tilted head looked at Oscar and Nevah quizzically. The man wore clothes less thick than the other villagers, the cold seemed to have no effect on him, but what truly made him stand out, aside from the way the villagers acted near him, was the aura of mystery, age, and a tinge of madness pouring in torrents off of him.
The man at the pedestal took several breaths of air before stuttering, "Wh-wh-what is... I mean... Is there anything I-I can help you with?"
The newcomer did not answer, but instead circled around the burn pile, eventually the crowd faded away, leaving only Nevah and Oscar, still tied to the pole, and the newcomer. When the last person walked away, the Newcomer stood in front of Oscar, "What brings you here Orphan of Gicasim?"
His voice ran smoothly, with an almost hypnotic lilt to it, but while the voice was sweet, the question shot straight through Oscar.
"Who are you?" Oscar forced out.
The man laughed, causing both Nevah and Oscar to shudder, "Who am I? I am the singer of the unsung song, the teller of the tale of time, the night in the middle of the day, the sun in the dark sky," with each title he raised his voice, and yelled in rage at Oscar's face, "THE LAST SEER OF GICASIM!"
He began to circle, still yelling, "SO TELL ME SON OF VANGUARD, AND DAUGHTER OF GOLD WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
Oscar and Nevah's eyes were wide, she turned in her bonds to look at Oscar, who nodded at her in shock. Nevah looked back at the furious madman, "We're looking for a murderer."
Suddenly the man shuddered and blinked, he tilted his head in curiosity, "How... remarkable, follow me." And with a snap of his fingers the ropes disappeared.
Chapter 6: The Search for the White Sun Court
Meg banged her head against the counter. Three months of searching had shown her nothing. Three months of looking through the Libraries of Gicasim, three months of asking people on the streets, “Have you ever known anybody named Olaf Whitsen?” Three months of not actually knowing what she was looking for.
The past week had been especially hard, she had been stuck in one small town where the citizens were not especially fond of foreigners. She would have left long before if it hadn’t been one of the White Sun Court’s former hot spots. Every day she would get up at dawn, head to the Library and look for clues until the sun went down.
Today was the same, she left as soon as it was bright enough to read, headed for the Library and had skimmed through a whole section of books about wars from the past two and a half thousand years.
By noontime, she had almost given up, her head was on the counter, a book was in her lap, and she felt like she had gone through almost every single book in the entire library.
A woman’s voice came behind her, “Are you having trouble Miss?” Meg turned around to look at the woman, she appeared young, only about twenty years of age, but in her eyes were the experience and sadness of centuries. “I’m looking for information about a former member of the White Sun Court, Olaf Whitsen?”
Her already old eyes seemed to double in age and she put a hand on the counter to steady herself, “I do not know about this Olaf you speak of, but if you want to know about the White Sun Court, you’d better come with me, I have one of the largest collections of their records.” But Meg saw how it had affected the woman, “I don’t want to cause any trouble…”
“No no, I just haven’t heard anyone say those words in a long time, maybe too long.” She held out a hand, “Lorinda.” Meg took the hand and shook it, “Meg, nice to meet you.”
Chapter 7: Shuffling the Deck
The four were gathered around a square black table, one on each side. One wore a pointed black cape, and held a commanding air around the room, to his right wore a dark red robe, and his keen eyes seemed to pierce the soul, next was wearing black leather, he seemed to melt into dark that spoke of hidden terrors. Last at the table was dressed in a simple crimson tunic, and he silently fingered the hem of his sleeve. “It is beginning again, we will need to chose a side this time.” The caped one said. The robed being to his right muttered, “The cards must move, we keep playing them the same way, something needs to change.”
A thin voice whispered from the third, “What say you brother? We must make a choice.” The last one slammed his fist on the table, “We have this discussion each time, why must this one be any different?”
Across the table the robed face leaned forward aggressively, “You know full why Amar, he has become aware, if we don’t change anything it will end the same way, but it will be worse, and each loop will destroy more and more until there won’t be anything to loop.”
The caped one turned to face Amar, “Adagnitio is right, unless we do something to change the events, everyone will lose.”
Amar held his ground, “And if we make a choice Impotentia, if we choose, we will lose.”
The hidden one twisted sharply to him, “And what if we win, you know what will happen, will it be worth it?”
Amar faced his brother, “What are you saying Noli? You always supported our choice.” A low hiss came from Noli’s side of the table, “I know fear best, and I know that even “I” fear what will happen if we don’t make a choice.”
Amar spun around and pulled at his hair, “How? How did he even become aware in the first place?”
Adagnitio became suddenly interested in the sleeve of his robe. “You?” Amar was dismayed.
“I’m sorry!” He defended, “The Father was fed up with our disobedience.”
“But… but…” Amar stuttered, “why awareness? Why this ending?”
Adagnitio threw his hands up, “You know how he is.”
“We must remain focused, if we do not make our choice fast, we might not be able to make one at all,” Impotentia reminded.
They were silent for a moment, then Amar pulled a card out of his sleeve and threw it on the table, “Them, it has to be them.”
Noli began, “Them, but-”
“No, Amar is right,” Adagnitio was nodding, “They started it, all of it, so they must feel the full fury of the Four.”
There was silent nodding from all sides of the table. Noli spoke up next, “I will be first, I have been too kind to them in the past, it is time that they know true fear.” He faded into the darkness and was gone, slowly followed by the others.
The room was absolutely silent after they had left, not even the flickering of torches made a sound, and sitting on the table was the card they had left behind. Four letters were printed neatly on the card, four innocent letters that had been marked with a death sentence, four letters that marked a choice which would change the very fabric of the world.
Chapter 8: The Gift of the Vanguards
Elessar tore through the trees, with Potter and Nevah rushing behind to catch up with him.
“So what are you trying to do?” Nevah yelled, “Are you going to resurrect him? Because that never works the way it’s supposed to!”
Elessar continued to smash through the growth without giving an answer.
“Hey!” With a surge of energy Nevah ran forward and grabbed Elessar by the shoulder. “What?” He snapped at her as they all skidded to a stop in the shade of a large oak tree.
Nevah’s eyes glared into Elessar’s, “Answer the question,” she commanded. “Weren’t you listening the first time?” Elessar sighed. “Olaf is not dead,” He put emphasis on each word.
Potter spoke up, “How can you say that? He was stabbed through the heart. Even if that didn’t kill him, the amount of blood leftover would have done it.” Nevah nodded in agreement.
Elessar looked up at the sky and sighed again, without looking down, he explained, “When Olaf cut off his use of magic, he didn’t do a very good job, so what he did was blocked off the energy, but it was still flowing to him, so that instead of redirecting the energy like he should have, it just built up behind a wall of his own making,” he finally lowered his head to look them both in the eye, “and that wall dies with him.”
Nevah raised an eyebrow, “I’m not sure how this applies.”
“It means that if Olaf were to die, actually, genuinely, die, a bundle of energy would be released into our world and destroy an area that not even the most learned wizard could estimate.”
Potter’s and Nevah’s mouths were agape. “Why didn’t he tell us this?” Potter asked. Elessar shrugged, “I’m guessing he didn’t think death was an issue he would have to deal with soon, and technically, he was right, but I’ll let him tell you about that.” Elessar turned around and began to walk.
“Wait!” Potter said. Elessar stopped and turned around. “We dragged his body across sand, dirt, and grass, shoved him through a portal and buried him, and he was still as close as you can get to being dead without, apparently, not being dead. Is there some sort of spell you use to un-not-dead somebody?”
Elessar thought for a moment, “Probably not, I was thinking I would just sort of slap him awake.” He shrugged.
Nevah and Potter looked at each other. “Works for me.” Nevah said, to which Potter silently nodded.
Several minutes of trudging through forest greens later, they arrived in a small grassy clearing, had it been noontime, the sun would have lit up the only feature in the clearing, a marked stone slab, but the sun was low on the horizon, and stripes of shadow and light marred what would have otherwise been a beautiful area.
Elessar almost whispered, “This is the place?”
Potter was barely able to choke out, “Yes.”
Silently, Elessar stared at the grave of his brother and read the words on the stone several times.
Without giving any cue, Elessar raised his arms, and the soil around the gravestone began to shift and roll. The dirt began to separate and pile up, the gravestone sank beneath the shifting earth, and suddenly all movement stopped.
There, in between the two mounds, was the old, pale, long-dead body of Olaf Whitsen. After about a year in the dirt, his hair had grown to a ratty mess piled around his head and if let down would go far past his shoulders, his nails had extended to violent claws, not one less than five inches.
Potter shuddered, “Sometimes I forget about postmortem growth. It makes dead people look so much more… dead.”
Elessar nodded slowly, “Why didn’t you put him in a coffin?”
“We figured he would prefer to decompose and join the Earth,” Nevah spoke up, “it seemed more natural that way.”
Suddenly they all looked up at each other. Potter asked, “Why hasn’t he decomposed?” Elessar jumped down next to Olaf’s body, and pulled up his tunic, “Didn’t you say he was stabbed in the heart?” In the middle of Olaf’s chest, where everybody was looking, where everybody knew he was stabbed, was not even a scar, completely unblemished skin, as if nothing had happened at all.
Chapter 9: Learning the Inevitable
The fireplace crackled warmly, lighting the book-filled room as Nevah and Oscar slowly filed into it behind the strange man. He pulled books of a pair of chairs and stacked them randomly on the floor, “Sit.” He commanded. Without questioning, the two of them sat in the newly cleared chairs.
The man grabbed a stack of scrolls from a third chair and places them in his lap as he sat down in the chair, “So, a murderer you say?”
Oscar and Nevah nodded in unison.
The man leaned forward in his chair, “This wouldn’t happen to be the murderer of good Olaf Whitsen would it?”
Neither Oscar nor Nevah had the time to respond before he stood up, throwing all the books from his lap to the floor, “I see in your eyes that the answer is yes.” He grabbed what seemed to be a random book from the shelf, and opened it while standing, holding the large spine delicately with one hand and flipping through the old pages with the other. “Here, The infants of Gicasim shall come to the Last of Us, bringing with them Sodden hearts, and news of death; the flaming son of Vanguard, heart pierced by corrupted friend, has had his great encounter with Death.”
Oscar anxiously gripped the arm of his chair, “What does it say about where she is?”
“Patience, young one, all in good time.” He flipped through a few pages, then continued to read aloud, “The infants of Gicasim have fallen dark, to the guidance of the One who fell through time, only will their blood lift the curse.” He read silently for a few moments after that, then put the book down before looking up at Nevah and Oscar, “I have some good news and bad news.”
“Tell us the good ne-” Oscar started.
“The bad news,” the man glared at Oscar, “is that I can’t help you, and even if I could, I wouldn’t.”
Oscar got out of his seat angrily and reached for his sword, “Why you-”
“The good news!” the man stood eye to eye with Oscar, gaze unyielding, “Is that your friend, Olaf Whitsen, is not dead.”
Oscar stumbled back, Olaf? Not dead? It wasn’t possible. But why would this stranger tell such an obvious lie? So many questions rushed through his head, but he did not have the energy to speak them.
Nevah however, was not similarly fazed, “How could he not be dead? I saw the blood with my own eyes, I watched the blade stab his heart, I held his lifeless body in my arms. Olaf Whitsen has died.”
For a moment, there was no sound in the room, even the fireplace in the corner seemed to go silent. Suddenly, the strange man began to laugh, quietly at first, then louder until the room shook with his mirth, “Olaf Whitsen? The flaming son of Vanguard? Dead?” He gave in to another burst of laughter, while Nevah and Oscar looked at each other awkwardly, “almost a thousand years have passed for him and I’m surprised that he’s already had his great encounter!”
Oscar raised an eyebrow, “What exactly do you mean by ‘great encounter’?”
The man’s smile remained, and he was beginning to gesticulate while talking, “The Vanguards are a very old Gicasim family, one of the originals in fact, and for a long time, some of us seers say since their origins, each Gicasim with Vanguard blood has had one,” he held up one finger dramatically, “chance at cheating death, their great encounter. That and them being some of the most powerful Gicasi has put them on a lot of hit lists, their numbers have been falling rapidly over the generations, and so far, the only ones left who have not already had their encounter are the three wolf spawn of Whitsen, and you.” He pointed his finger at Oscar’s chest.
“Me?” Oscar looked surprised, and held his hands in front of his eyes to see if he was real.
“Yes you, little Oscar, your family has given you a get out of Death free card,” his eyes narrowed and his voice grew serious, “spend it wisely.”
Oscar shook his head, “So what you’re telling me, is that Olaf is not actually dead, but has used his get out of Death free card.”
The man nodded.
“Then Meg…” Oscar trailed off, and turned to Nevah, who gasped.
“She doesn’t know.” Nevah spun around to look the man, “We need to tell her!”
“No,” the man said, “Meg has her own purpose in this fight, as do you, the time for reconciliation will come, but for now, you must stay here.”
“Stay? Can we do nothing?” Oscar pleaded.
The man did not answer immediately, but instead walked to the door, “When they come for you, tell Olaf it was Nicholas of the Lesser House of Grier that helped you, and tell him that a great battle which he cannot stop is coming, that the only thing which he can do, is prepare to fight one last time.”
Nevah hesitated, wanting an explanation, but knew that was all she would get, “Where are you going?”
He didn’t answer, but left Oscar and Nevah alone in the large, book-filled room.
Chapter 10: Of Dreams and Memories
The rage of battle surged through Meg, her hot blood coursed through her veins with each swing of her sword, at this point the fury had so taken over her that she no longer knew why she was fighting, only that these black armored soldiers must fall to her blade. One such soldier whose skill seemed to match that of her own began to engage Meg in a fearsome duel, a black helmet concealed his face, but his fighting style and his scarlet tinged sabre seemed strangely, hatefully familiar.
As they dueled, the battle surrounding them faded away into nonexistence, and all that remained was the masked enemy and Meg’s terrible hatred of him. With a sharp flick of her sword, the tip knocked off his helmet. Meg dropped her sword, and all her built up hate gave way to a dreadful fear.
“You… you died…” Meg stammered, “I killed you.”
Olaf sheathed his sword calmly, “I know.”
Meg fell to her knees, trying in vain to hold back sobs of dread, “I… I killed you… I don’t… know…”
Olaf stepped towards Meg, and laid his gauntleted hand on her shoulder, “Meg,” she slowly lifted her head, “I forgive you.”
Meg almost threw herself at Olaf and cried into his shoulder as they hugged on the former battlefield. They stood there a moment as Meg tried to regain her composure, just as she was about to apologize one last time, a thin voice whispered through her mind, “Murderer,” and a long knife pierced her back.
Olaf drew back, letting Meg fall to the ground, a cruel sneer on his face while pain ran through every nerve in Meg’s body, and the knife burned into her back. She struggled to hold herself up on all fours, as every one of her muscles contorted with pain.
Olaf’s form flickered into a black-robed figure shrouded in darkness, “Did you think they would accept you after what you’ve done? Did you truly believe that TARP would return to normal after this? No. The world is changing Daughter of Poseidon, and you’ve made a choice that cannot be undone. Rejection and Death are your fate, the daughter of Hypnos will show this to you.”
Meg looked up at The Suit of Fear, pain still rippling through her body, but she forced herself to stand up, knife hilt sticking out of her back as she held her ground against him. “You underestimate them.”
A blast of cold air shot towards Meg, and she felt herself get thrown across miles and centuries, at the end of it all she found herself standing outside Lorinda’s home, no time had passed at all since the vision had started. Meg stared into the distance, trying to remember everything that had happened to her in the past few moments. Lorinda had reached the door before she realized that Meg was no longer following. “Meg? Is something wrong?”
Meg shook her head, “Just a little lost in thought… probably.” But Meg was more disturbed than she let on, and the words of Noli haunted her as she walked into the house.
The rooms were much larger than the outside suggested, and some of them looked like they had been combined specifically to make larger rooms, and each one of them had been converted into makeshift libraries. Stacks of papers and books, neatly organized and labelled, were covering tables, loading bookshelves, and filling drawers. Meg wouldn’t have been surprised if these rooms contained the entire records of the White Sun Court.
“Where did you get all these?” Meg asked in awe.
“When the White Sun Court began to fall, they stopped needing their records, I thought that it might contain some explanation to the death of my Husband and his family, so I started buying the records off of the Court who didn’t need them very much, not even mentioning that Vanguards have been stealing from the Court since before I joined them.” Lorinda explained while walking through the record filled rooms, “Come, the individual records are in the kitchen.”
The name Vanguard rung a bell in Meg’s head, and she tried to remember when she had heard it, probably in one of Olaf’s many disguises, she wouldn’t be surprised if he were to throw around names of former colleagues. The thought of her dead friend struck at her heart, but she knew that was why she was here, to right the wrong she had committed, only then could she return to TARP, only then would they accept her, and they would accept her, no matter what the Four Suits say.
As they walked into the kitchen, Meg saw stacks of papers as high as the ceiling, and as opposed to the rest of the house, these had been searched through liberally, and there was almost no sense of organization. “This will take years…” she almost whispered.
“Not necessarily,” Lorinda countered, “I’ve read through each of these papers several times over, give me some limits and we could find your Olaf Whitsen in at most two months.”
Meg groaned internally, two months of looking through papers did not seem like something she wanted to do. But, she had to start somewhere. “Um… well, I think he either left or was banished from Gicasim.”
“That is extremely useful!” Lorinda began skimming through the haphazard stacks, pulling out bundles of paper left and right as Meg thought.
“He’s narcissistic, sarcastic, and a little power hungry,” Meg added.
“Sorry, behavior records aren’t included in here, and I wouldn’t trust them anyway, behavior records are very often biased.” Lorinda said, still picking out papers.
“Oh,” Meg thought harder, “He has a brother, who goes by Elessar, but that’s also probably not his real name. His daughter, Polnaya, is a wolf.”
“A what?” Lorinda interrupted and gazed at Meg quizzically.
“A wolf,” Meg repeated, “Do you not have wolves here?”
“Never heard of it.” Lorinda said, then she continued grabbing papers.
“Oh!” Meg remembered. “He also has a nephew named Oscar!”
Lorinda dropped all the papers in her hands, “What did you say?” She snapped.
Meg stepped back, “his nephew’s name is Oscar…”
Lorinda started to pick up the papers again, but she was visibly trembling, “impossible, Oscar is not a Gicasim name.”
Meg tilted her head in confusion, “No, his name is definitely Oscar, I’ve never heard him called anything else.”
Lorinda was shaking, unable to hold the papers at all, “This Olaf… when he was young… did… did he lose his parents, and his older brother, and blame his other brother, the one you call Elessar?”
Meg snapped back to several pieced together discussions she had heard, mostly regarding the events of the first TARP ball, all agreeing with Lorinda’s assumption. “Yes,” Meg answered warily.
The cry that came from Lorinda’s mouth was like nothing she had ever heard before, it was filled with depressing loss of heart and will. “My precious Oscar… Does he… does he live?” Lorinda stammered.
Suddenly, everything seemed to start to fall together, Meg remembered where she had heard the name Vanguard, it was what the TTYL and other time travellers they encountered called Olaf. And this weeping woman in front of her, was the widowed mother of Oscar, sister-in-law to Olaf and Elessar.
Meg helped Lorinda Vanguard into a chair, thoughts racing through her head at thousands of miles an hour, “Yes, yes, Oscar lives. But there’s more.” Lorinda looked half ready to collapse again, but she held her head up and met Meg’s gaze. “See, I’ve started to realize that big things are happening, bigger than I-”
A loud banging came from the door, and all of Meg’s thoughts focused on one memory. Both Lorinda and Meg were looking in the direction of the banging, while Noli’s words echoed through Meg’s head, “Rejection and Death are your fate, the daughter of Hypnos will show this to you.”
Chapter 11: A Happy Reunion
“Blasted sons of Zeus,” Xandra muttered. The past few weeks had not been very good for her, the past year, in fact, had not been kind to her, but the past few weeks had been especially bad. Oscar and Nevah hadn’t been very subtle about their feelings towards Meg after Olaf’s death, and after having disappeared for several months, Xandra knew that they had dark plans for the future.
After this, Xandra had two options, find Oscar and Nevah, and try to convince them to change their mind, which seemed about as likely as denting Olaf’s ego; or finding Meg before the other two, and figure out what to do next once she gets there. However, the search for Meg resulted in dealings with vengeful mob bosses, forgotten gods, magic-wielding mercenaries, and no small amount of time aboard the H.M.S. Riftslice with Captain Flirtface Mainsburry.
Finding herself at Olaf’s home was not her first guess for finding Meg. Then again, Meg killing Olaf would not have been her first guess at anything. Xandra had always romanticized in her head that she would receive that honor, but alas, such was not the case.
And now she found herself on a planet that looked like Steampunk had thrown up on medieval France. A nice stone cottage would have a brass door with interlocking gears that seems to open on its own, a man walking down the street had a rapier on one side and on the other a gauntlet that had enough features to make Tony Stark jealous, once she even saw a farm of automaton sheep. The phrase “alchemist heaven” kept popping up in her head.
But Xandra wasn’t here for the scenery, and if she was, she probably would have left a long while ago. The people here were strangely accommodating about almost everything, most of them hadn’t ever heard of a “Meg”, but those that did, they tended to fit in the category of not-accommodating.
When she first arrived at a remarkably modern looking city, a man dressed in a pale grey Victorian-era suit walked up to Xandra politely, “Is there anything I can help you with Ma’am?”
Xandra took a long look around the building before answering, “Yes, a few things. Firstly, if you’re going to address me formally, I prefer m’Lady, or if you aren’t, then just call me Xandra. Secondly, I’m going to want a nice room, I’ve done a lot of travelling and I don’t want to sleep in some crummy shack again.” The man nodded and pulled out a notepad to start writing these things down. “And finally,” Xandra gave a slight pause, the more self-important she looked, the more she seemed to be getting out of these people, and her imperious air seemed to be working on this man as well as everyone before, “would you please send any information you have on a foreigner named Meg to my room? I’ve been told that she couldn’t have arrived less than a week ago.” The man immediately stopped writing in his notepad and looked up slowly, “You wouldn’t happen to be a member of TARP would you?”
Ah yes, this question always came next after she mentioned Meg’s name, and an answer of “yes” had delayed her half a month last time. Xandra resisted the urge to grin, she was on the right track. “TARP? No I have no connection with those juvenile scoundrels, this is a more personal matter.”
The man let out a small sigh of relief, “Very well then, I will lead you to your room.”
The room, and everything in it, was massive and elaborately decorated. The bed was bigger than anything Xandra had ever seen, decorated with a twisting brass framework and velvet cushions. A large clock with exposed gears hung over the bed, a full body mirror stood in one corner, and a large, intricately decorated desk in the other. Xandra plopped her bags on the bed, and spun around the room, taking in the foreign beauty of it all.
“Is there anything else I can help you with Ma-” he cut himself off, “m’Lady?”
Xandra thought for a moment, “A map, I want a map of this entire planet.” The man started to walk away, “And don’t forget those files on Meg!”
For the next two days, Xandra explored this strange planet during the light hours, and worked on the maps and files during the night hours, sleeping rarely and running almost entirely on a strange tea-like drink native to Gicasim.
Just before sunrise at the beginning of the third day, Xandra found it, less than a week ago, Meg had taken a train to a small town in the north. Xandra packed her things, along with the map, and left for the train station without a word.
After she arrived, finding Meg wasn’t that difficult. The first person Xandra came across gave her a disgusted look and said almost immediately, “The other one went to the mad woman’s house.”
Xandra raised an eyebrow, “Whose house?”
The man pointed, “Big house, at the end of the street, all the windows are boarded up. That’s where the other foreigner went.”
Xandra gave him a small nod, “Thank you sir.” The man only grunted and walked away. As Xandra headed to the house, she realized that she had no clue what she was going to do when she saw Meg. She was going to have to be rational, of course, she was going to figure out the truth about what happened when Olaf died, if Meg didn’t actually do it, maybe someone was trying to frame Meg or something, then Xandra was going to try to bring Meg back to TARP, and she would have to convince Oscar and Nevah to keep her alive, that might be a little more difficult. But if Meg truly was at fault… Xandra caught sight of the large house before she could finish the thought.
Xandra began to walk purposefully, she knew what was going to happen, she was going to knock on that door, wait for the “mad woman” to answer, then ask, politely, to speak with Meg, and figure out what happens next depending on how that talk goes. Xandra was quite pleased with herself, several weeks of things not going according to plan seemed to finally be working out right.
She knocked on the door. It was a little more violent than she had had in mind, but it still did the trick. When the door opened, it was not the mad woman as she had expected, but Meg herself. Xandra did not have time to reorganize her thoughts or control herself before punching Meg squarely on the nose.
Chapter 12: In which a bunch of god-like beings get ticked off at a bunch of other god-like beings
She had chosen a round table, for symbolic purposes, to meet at. Symbolism was always an important piece of Morgana’s decision making. Sitting around this stone table, were all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds. To Morgana’s right was the fate Atropos, who was silently knitting an artistic tapestry depicting a remarkably violent death for Xandra Trelawney. Next in the line was the pale and skeletal Death, torn robes sat atop his bony shoulders and his fingers rattled idly on the tabletop. Trying to sit as far away from Death as possible, while still trying to avoid Lyssa on his other side, was a sharply dressed mortal representing the Time Travellers Youth League. Next to Lyssa was a pale ghost, her face was smooth and young, and all she wore was a simple silk gown and a silver crown atop her head that she bore regally. Speaking with the ghost was a shimmering specter who looked to be made of bark where the light struck him. Standing on the next and final seat around the table was a small girl with a crown placed crookedly on her head, she grinned at the people around as if this meeting was nothing in the world.
Morgana walked to the largest seat at the table slowly, letting her long, colorful robes drag across the floor as she pulled herself in front of the largest seat at the table. “I thank you all for being able to arrive here, it a great pleasure of mine to see so many willing to fight for the same cause as I.”
Death stood up, torn robes fluttering as he rasped, “These children have grown troublesome, and have stayed all of our individual attempts against them, so we must thank you, instead, Lady Morgana, for bringing us together against this fowl horde.” Many around the table nodded in agreement. Morgana lowered her head, took a breath, then raised it again and spoke, “Even now, our plan comes together, as you will now witness.” With a sharp gesture, a bright sphere of light appeared and coalesced above the table into a pair of figures walking through a mountain pass.
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” Meg asked.
“Of course I farting know where I’m going,” Olaf grunted, “I’ve been this way a hundred times.”
Meg shouldered her pack, “I’m not questioning your experience, I’m questioning your memory.”
Olaf spun to face Meg and threw his pack on the ground, hideous flames burning in his eyes, “Do you want to do this? Because I will gladly put you in charge.” Meg raised her hands, “All right, but if we’ve gone an hour and haven’t seen anything, I’m calling Potter to take us out of here.”
Olaf grunted, and continued up the mountainside. Behind Morgana a figure wreathed in shadow with glowing red eyes appeared, “Is it time yet, Lady Morgana?”
She held up a hand, “Continue to taunt him, but wait until they reach the top of the mountain.”
Meg and Olaf climbed to the top of the mountain, and Olaf looked around in dismay, “The cave was here, I remember….”
The side of Meg’s mouth curled up, “Wrong again Whitsen, looks like I’ll have to call Potter.” She began ruffling through her backpack for a drachma.
Behind Morgana, the shadowy demon whispered, its voice echoing into a thousand pieces, “This insolence cannot be tolerated…. she must be defeated.”
Olaf raised his head at the words which only he and those at the table heard, he shrugged his cloak off of his shoulders and put a hand on the steel blade strapped to his waist, “I've had enough of this Meg, this time no more games, no magic, just you and me, and our swords."
Morgana spoke this time from her place at the table, “Who does this old man think he is? Accept the challenge, teach him a lesson.”
Meg turned to Olaf and gave him a dangerous look, “You wanna go Snowman? I can do swords.” Her backpack landed with a crash on the ground only a moment before her sword was released from its sheath, producing a solid ring over the tops of the mountain. The ensuing battle was observed enthusiastically by those around the table, as Morgana and the demon behind her destroyed any sense or reason between the combatants. Contrastingly, the horrified pair hidden behind a large boulder went unnoticed by the gathering of foes.
When Olaf fell, the group all let out a sigh of relief, Mimoza the Shifter even let out a small cheer.
Morgana dissolved the image, so that none were able to see Oscar and Nevah jump up from their hiding to Olaf’s body as Meg ran away.
Morgana stepped back, a grin crossing her face as she turned to the creature beside her and gave it a nod of thanks before it disappeared into the shadows.
Morgana raised her hands, drawing all attention to herself again, “This is a great victory we have witnessed, news of this battle will soon spread among those in TARP, and they will be divided-”
The torches around the room sputtered as a cold wind blew from the table opposite Morgana. A tall man dressed in a luxurious red tunic walked from the wall, all, even Death, drew back from the powerful presence, “Do not underestimate those in TARP,” his voice rolled around the room like a distant gallop.
Morgana was stunned, “My Lord Amar, we did not expect-”
He waved his hand, and three other figures appeared from the wall, drawing a mighty gasp from the room.
The TTYL representative murmured with a tremor, “all Four…”
“My gracious brother,” Amar ignored the gasps of fright as he turned to the figure of Death, who, while affected, was the least so, “have you yet claimed the tormentous Olaf Whitsen?”
Death glared, and rose to his full height, “No, but it is only a matter of time-” “YOU FOOL!” Amar shouted and slammed his fist on the table. “How easily do you forget the deal forced upon you by the first of the Vanguards? This child has only been delayed, and you may have very well prepared TARP for the battle you thought you were weakening them for.”
Death flinched at the outburst from this normally calm being, and silently returned to his seat.
Amar paced around, boring a hole into Morgana, who was now pale with fright. “And you!” Amar yelled, “What mad cloud filled your mind to invite that demonic horde back into this world? The last time they gained power here the man you just failed to kill locked them in a curse that’s likely to backfire with their returned presence.”
Morgana could not answer.
Impotentia stepped forward and spoke, “The Hordes of Mania have become unpredictable, and have taken independence from me, serving their own drunk goals, who knows what destruction they will release when they overcome their captor.”
Adagnitio added, “Since you are all obviously incompetent in these matters, you will no longer make any decisions regarding the fate of TARP without our command. Any who fail to follow our commands or make up their own,” he gestured for Noli to finish.
Noli looked up, and spoke in a quiet whisper, “will know the true meaning of Fear.”
There was no arguing.
Chapter 13: Hey, aren't you supposed to be dead?
“Come on Eveline! The show starts in two minutes!” Katherine called to her friend. Eveline groaned in response, “I don’t want to go to the show, I don’t even want to BE here, the only reason I AM here is because you guys made me.”
Her other friend, Sarah, put her hand over Eveline’s shoulder, “well we wouldn’t have FORCED you to go if you weren’t so against space travel in the first place, but Kate’s right, the show is starting!!” Her friends dragged her into the large arena where a huge crowd had gathered. In the middle of the arena, a man began talking about nothing Eveline payed attention to, instead, she tapped an earpiece and began to listen to some music.
A few minutes into the show, she threw a quick glance at her friends to make sure they weren’t watching her, then snuck out of her seat and left.
She wandered the town, looking for something small, something that most people would miss or not care about, those little dark corners of culture were what Eveline liked the best. After some walking, she found herself at a small shop in an isolated part of town, the sign above the door read, “Mim’saa: Enchantments, Prophecy, and Fortune Telling.” Curious, Eveline walked inside.
Contrary to every movie Eveline had seen, this place was not dark and musty, with shelves of obscure artifacts and potions, instead, it was well lighted, cleaned, and neatly folded animal pelts covered the shelves. A woman’s voice called from the back of the shop, “I’ll be able to help you in a moment!”
A little while later, a small young woman wearing a plain apron and a kind smile walked up from the back of the shop, “Hello! What can I help you with?” Eveline looked up from a soft wolf fur, “Oh, I just saw the sign on the door and was curious.”
“Ah yes,” The woman nodded, “prophecies and magic don’t pay much, but they attract more customers,” she raised a finger, “I’ll give you your future and that wolf pelt for 75 marks!”
Eveline opened her wallet, 75 marks was all she had, but her friends had already payed for the ride back, and it would give her an excuse to go back home immediately afterwards. She placed the silver coins in the woman’s open hand, and then was led into a back room.
This room, as opposed to the front shop, was much more stereotypical, lit only by a few candles and filled with the scent of smoking incense. The woman pulled a chair back from a small wooden table, gesturing for Eveline to sit down, then the woman went around extinguishing the incense burners and all but two of the candles, which she set down on the table in front of her. “Let me see your hands,” she said. Eveline put her hands face up on the table, after a brief examination, the woman nodded, “The stones, as I expected.” She opened a drawer under the table and removed a small pouch, from which she removed five smooth, flat stones, each with a single inscription on one side of them.
“Speak Adagnitio!” She called to the sky as she rolled the five stones between her hands, “Speak and reveal the will of the Four!”
The stones landed on the table with a bang, causing Eveline to jump out of her seat a bit. Four of the stones landed with their symbols face-up, the fourth, and closest to Eveline, was face down. The woman went immediately to work. She grabbed the first stone and rolled it around in her hand without looking, “Fire.” She dropped the stone violently in front of her and grabbed the next, “Earth.” She went through each stone, “Water…. Air….” dropping each in front of her until the last one, the face down one in front of Eveline, “The disputed, well then.”
“What does it mean?” Eveline asked the small woman.
The woman gathered all the stones and replaced them in the pack, “It means that you have great destiny ahead of you, but you require a push.” She switched the pouch of stones for a deck of normal playing cards which she began to shuffle.
Eveline looked slightly worried, “What are you doing?”
The woman sitting across the table from her let out a toothy grin, “Giving you the push.” She placed a single card face-up between them, the Queen of Clubs, “How would you like to be… anybody you want to be?”
Despite the darkness of the room, that card was the brightest thing in the world seen from Eveline’s eyes.
The fortune-teller placed the Jack of Clubs next to the first card, “To have no restrictions?”
Eveline soaked up the cards, which glowed even brighter with each word said to her. Another card was placed in the row, The King of Clubs, “And be controlled by nobody?” Eveline looked up from the cards, “How can you do this?”
The woman stood up and spread out her arms in a dramatic gesture, “By the power invested in me by the Lord Impotentia! For I am Mimoza! Queen of the Shifters!” With a sudden flash she appeared as a regally dressed woman, an elaborate crown topped her head, and then Eveline forgot everything.
The past five years of Harper’s life had gone by in a flash, it seemed like only yesterday that her small group of companions had done battle with TARP on the streets of New York. Only yesterday that they had joined this legendary group and began adventuring across the stars. Only yesterday since Olaf Whitsen, whose well meaning head-slaps had changed her much for the better, was found dead.
She walked out of the TARP clubhouse holding a steaming cup of tea, before leaving to go look for Meg, Xandra had got her hooked on it. Outside on the large grass field in front of the building, Evenstar and Rachel were having an archery competition, so Harper decided to sit on the front porch and watch.
“Bet you twelve gold Drachmas you can’t hit a hundred meters.” Evenstar challenged. Rachel grinned, “I can do a hundred meters with my eyes closed.”
“Hundred meters!” Evenstar shouted to the three young wolves at the other end of the field. Enthusiastically, Heimatil, Agetargon, and Eucartay pushed the wooden cart that carried the target to the hundred meter mark.
Rachel carefully took aim while Evenstar calmly held her bow with one hand and twirled an arrow in the other.
Rachel released the arrow, but Evenstar was ready, in a moment she nocked her arrow and fired it, straight into Rachel’s.
“Oh come on, that’s not fair,” Rachel complained.
Evenstar pointed, “You didn’t hit the target, pay up.”
Before Rachel could counter, a massive bolt of purple energy struck the horizon, causing everybody to snap their heads around.
Harper bolted upright and ran down to where the other two were, “What the heck was that?”
Evenstar thought for a moment, “Isn’t that where Olaf was buried?”
The three of them looked at each other, eyes wide, then sprinted as fast as they could in the direction of the purple lightning.
Elessar sent another bolt of energy into Olaf’s body, “Arise! Ethan Vanguard! Child of Gicasim! The Nine Skulls Killer! The Raging Fire! The White Lord! The Slaughterer of Shadows! Remnant of the White Sun Court!” He listed off titles again and again, pouring spirit energy into Olaf’s body, which really only resulted in Elessar getting more and more exhausted.
Because absolutely nothing was happening to Olaf. With each burst of energy, the long-dead body sat calmly in it’s undone grave, as if it felt nothing.
Potter whispered to Nevah, “Do you think he knows what he’s doing?”
Nevah whispered back, “I don’t think he’s known what he was doing since he met Mike the Moss.”
Potter raised an eyebrow, “Mike the Moss?”
“No clue,” Nevah shrugged, “Just something he mentions every once in a while.”
Potter’s eyes widened, “I have an idea!” She reached forward and lightly tapped Elessar’s shoulder, “may I have a go?”
Elessar stopped, his breathing heavy and ragged. Without answering the question, he stepped back and gestured to Olaf’s body.
Potter pulled her wand from her belt and pointed it at the empty hollow in the ground where Olaf lay, “Auguamenti!” She shouted, causing a burst of water to shoot from her wand and flood over Olaf.
Elessar looked up curiously. At first nothing had happened, but then, Olaf moved faster than Elessar had ever seen him move before, made all the more ironic because he had been dead only moments before.
He bolted out of the soaking grave, and then proceeded to swear in ninety-three different languages. Elessar counted.
“You forgot troll,” Elessar added at the end.
Olaf glared at Elessar, “Alrahk ned fishterz.”
Potter ran forward to hug him, but he shoved her back, “What the Niflheim?”
She took a step back, Olaf’s eyes were crazed, the postmortem growth of his fingernails and hair made him look half beast, and even his great long cloak looked old and haggard. And besides that, Potter could tell that much had changed since she last met him.
“I’ve been dead,” he started, “and all you can think to do is hug me? Where is the blasted Meg?” He stumbled, but as Nevah and Potter ran to support him, he held up a hand.
“Elessar, I need to get to the Room of Memory.” Olaf coughed out.
Elessar hesitated, “Are you sure…?”
Olaf ran forward and grabbed his brother by the shoulder, digging his long nails into his brother’s flesh, “The legions, they’re awakening,” he tilted his head slightly, “not to mention the Beast, and Morgana, and the end of the world, and probably a bunch of other things I don’t know yet.”
“What are you talking about?” Elessar asked, his tone becoming serious.
Olaf tapped his brother’s nose, eyes still mad, “When I was dead, I saw things, things I wouldn’t believe with my own eyes, had they not been dead also. It was all a big blur, Death really messes with your view of the world, but I saw them all, gathered around a table, talking about US, even the Four made a guest appearance.” Olaf’s eyes had lost focus and he seemed to be just ranting, “I saw a lot when I was dead, mainly old fighting and stuff, probably because I had been fighting Meg earlier, you know, sympathetic-”
Elessar slapped Olaf across the face, “Olaf! Focus!”
Potter and Nevah watched with raised eyebrows as Olaf looked at his brother and gasped, “Meg…. She didn’t do it…. this is all Morgana, we need to tell Meg, we need to tell her I’m not dead, where is she?”
Before Elessar could respond, Olaf started speaking again, “The Room of Memories, it has the answer!”
Once again, Elessar started to speak, but was interrupted by the sound of crashing through the bushes as Harper, Rachel, and Evenstar ran into the clearing.
Olaf walked past them, a wide smile across his face, “Come along! This is only step one!” Their eyes followed him as he walked back into the forest towards the Clubhouse.
“You know,” Potter thought out loud, “he hasn’t actually changed all that much.”
Chapter 14: Girls Night Out
Meg was caught off guard.
But then again, getting punched in the face immediately after seeing one of your best friends you haven’t seen in a year and didn’t expect to see for quite some time will do that to you.
She stumbled backwards, carefully touching one hand to her nose and using the wall behind her for support, “Xandra!”
Xandra was at a loss, her plan to be diplomatic had gone frustratingly down the drain, and now she was divided between wanting to hug Meg or punch her again. “What…”
Xandra’s voice was almost a whisper, “What’s going on Meg? Olaf’s dead, Oscar and Nevah seem to think you did it, and they seem to be on some death mission looking for you. And you’ve just disappeared! To Olaf’s home! Which really isn’t helping anything!”
Before responding to Xandra, Meg looked at the hand she had put to her nose, blood, what a surprise. “It’s not what you think…” Meg said.
“It’s not what I think?” Xandra was dismayed, “It’s not what I think? I don’t know what to think! For all I know-”
“Who are you?” Meg had forgotten the traumatized widow she had left in the kitchen, and now Lorinda Vanguard stood in the doorway, tear-streaked eyes flashing back and forth from Xandra to Meg.
Neither of them responded for a moment, and the awkward silence stretched on for years. Eventually, Meg spoke, “This is Xandra, she’s an old fri-”
“I’ve known Meg for a while,” Xandra interrupted, throwing a furious glance at Meg before turning back to Lorinda, “and who might you be?”
The widow looked down solemnly, “I’m not sure I know anymore, it seems that much of my life has been a misunderstanding, but until this afternoon I was Lorinda Vanguard.”
The blood drained from Xandra’s face, years in the Xyzzy Library had given her probably more information about Olaf than anybody else in TARP had, and she immediately recognized the name. “Vanguard? As in…”
Lorinda raised her head imperiously, wiping all signs of sorrow aside from the tear stains on her cheeks from her face, “I am of the great Gicasim house of Vanguard, my late husband was the brother of the recently deceased Ethan Vanguard, and from what I have gathered, the son I presumed dead is now in search of Meg to have her pay for the supposed crime.”
Xandra’s mouth was wide open, and she turned to Meg. “I told you it’s not what you think,” she shrugged.
Xandra tried to speak, but her words floundered at first, “what? bu… how….” She took a deep breath, “Alright, I’m going to try to make this as quick and simple as I can.” She looked at Meg seriously, “Did you kill Olaf Whitsen?”
Meg hesitated before answering, “Yes and no.”
“Oh my gods Meg!” Xandra threw her hands over her head, “I wanted straightforward, is that so hard to ask for?”
Meg resisted the urge to grin, this was more like the Xandra she was familiar with, “It was my sword in my hand that pierced Olaf’s chest, but it was not me who did it.”
Xandra was about to throw her hands up again, but her eyes widened in realization, “Morgana…”
Meg nodded, and even Lorinda seemed to be catching on, “You were not in control of your mind at the time of my brother’s death?”
Meg nodded again, “Yeah, I have a habit of being occasionally hijacked by a sorceress from our home planet. And I think that Olaf was under similar influence at the time.”
The gears in Xandra’s head began to spin, “Who would be able to take control over Olaf like that? He may be thick and egotistical, but he always tries to stay in control, he wouldn’t risk letting anything taking control over him. So why would he now? When has he ever wanted something