Molan was pleased with his first captive. A human boy of about ten, with Mage potential, from a little village in England. The boy had nowhere to use his potential because this world had changed drastically in the three thousand years Molan had been sleeping. Magic that could be used by a Mage was very scarce.
His second captive pleased him even more, a werewolf girl of about nine from New York City and a potential Elder. She had much more magic available to her and it didn't matter to Molan that it was internal magic. He could still use it. But he decided to concentrate on weres. Obviously in this time, they were the ones who could provide him with power.
The next boy, about eleven and another potential werewolf Elder from Birmingham, Alabama.
The next boy about nine, was a Healer from Benson, Louisiana. Molan was astonished when the boy was able to scream for help and somehow the sorcerer's magic was unable to grasp him. A probe hit the sorcerer's shields.
He was contemptuous and began to gather a magical bolt to retaliate, when he was hit a second time. He screamed in anguish as he was hit harder than he had ever been hit before. His shields started to go down and the magical spell which protected him flicked him away as he lost consciousness.
Tal and I were in the computer room, examining the records of the missing children. Two were werewolves but the first who had turned up missing had been human. The computer room was almost soundproof so I heard Aaron's scream in my mind, rather than my ears. I flicked a probe in his direction and absorbing the information it gave me, I struck a second time. If I'd had a couple more seconds I could have hit the one after Aaron a lot harder, but I didn't have time. I felt his shields start to go down and he screamed and then he just disappeared.
“Backyard, Tal!!” I said as I bolted from the chair and slammed the door open and I took the stairs four at a time, hearing Tal behind me. At the bottom, I used the railing to swing around into the hall leading to the kitchen and the back porch and the backyard. I flicked my mind ahead of me to make sure there was nobody behind the door or on the porch, before I slammed through it harder than I had ever done before. Rose had started to head for the backdoor. When she heard the kitchen door slam open she jumped to the side as I slammed through the screen door just as hard and a second later through the porch door.
Aaron was kneeling on the ground and he was shaking with fright. I gathered him into my arms and began to spread my mind like a net to see if the one I had hit was still within my range. He'd been human but with the amount of magic he had he wouldn't be able to hide. I would be able to see him much farther than my usual range with humans, which was half a mile. I felt Blue touch my bare thigh and my range to find magic was extended even further. No use. Wherever he had disappeared to was far beyond my range. Not that I had expected to find him. With the ability to Transport, he could be anywhere on the planet.
I pulled back my mind and entered Aaron's to sooth him and at the same time find out who had attacked him. The man was ancient, with the gauntness age gave many people, his hair was a sparse white. His eyes were black and there was nothing but evil left to his soul. He was ready to die, only his magic keeping him alive. and I knew somehow that his attempt to kidnap Aaron and the kidnapping of the other children was to extend his life. He was dressed in ragged black robes that looked like when a layer wore out he simply put another layer on top.
I looked down into Aaron's eyes which were still a bit wide from fright, but it was finally starting to leave him. I asked, “Are you all right?”
He nodded shakily, “I think so. What happened?”
I heard Tal behind me and said, “Three children have disappeared in the last three days and I think you were intended to be the fourth. He Transported here and he would have Transported away again. He's a mage, a sorcerer by the looks of him and the shields I put on you to protect you in the Elven world protected you here as well. In this day and age, he shouldn't exist, not on our world, not with that type of power. Like the Faerie tribe I was able to help enter the other world, he's from the far past, he was probably in a magical sleep and he's awakened recently.”
I reassured Aaron, “I doubt if we have to worry about him coming back. I hit him hard and I felt him lose consciousness, but then a magic spell flicked him away. When he wakes up he'll stay as far away from here as he can.” and he smiled, though he wasn't completely reassured.
I took him inside and left him in Rose's able hands and headed back upstairs with Blue, Tal following. Where to go? I didn't want to use our bedroom, I didn't know how long this would take and finding me in a trance so soon after someone had tried to kidnap Aaron might be unsettling for the younger kids.
One of the spare bedrooms. The one that Tal had just vacated. Len and Jeannie had returned last weekend and moved all their stuff into their new house and Tal had moved into Len's old room.
I flipped on the light and then sat on the bed and looked at Tal, telling him, “As you heard me tell Aaron, his attacker doesn't belong in our time. He's from the far past. He's been in a magical sleep. If I have any chance of locating any information on him, it's in the history of Healers that an Elder Historian has. Granddad and I copied all of the information he had on Healers last summer, after I got back from Scotland, to my mind. To access it is a pain. There's no organization and not everything that should be there is there. It's laid down by date and the only clue I have is the way he looks that I took from Aaron's mind. I have no idea how far back I'll have to go, how long it'll take or if he's even there. Tell Mom about the kidnapped kids when you tell her about Aaron. He seems to be going after kids with potential power.”
I speculated, “I'm assuming the human kid had some magical potential. Both werewolf kids were potential Elders. Aaron is a Healer. They all have a great deal of inherent power. Once initiated an Elder's power is bound, locked inside of them and it can no longer be accessed by a Mage. Once past a certain point, the same is true for a Healer.” Tal nodded in understanding, his gray eyes calm.
I said uneasily, “He has a purpose and I have a bad feeling that I won't like that purpose when I find out what it is. The one thing we know about him is that he's moving west. Each kidnapping has been further west than the one before.”
I sighed, telling him, “I have a horrible feeling that Eric Jansen will be the next victim. His potential is very high. I have an equally bad feeling that we're not going to be able to get him out. I heard earlier today that most of Colorado and north is being hit by a blizzard. Nothing is moving. Not even trains. Call Ron Jansen and explain to him. That's about all we can do. Ariel and Ron will be devastated, but don't put any hope in their minds. I have no way of getting there.”
Tal asked, “The Elves?”
I shook my head, saying, “No they're not allowed to interfere in our world and twenty-four hours is too close to the projected event. If I can lay a trap for the sorcerer and entice him to Australia, then I can arrange Transport, because they won't be interfering directly. If he decides to take the bait they'll consider it his tough luck.”
I slipped off my sandals and laid back on the bed and Blue jumped up to join me, though I wouldn't be using any of his power. I reached deep into my mind where I had stored the history of Healers. I don't know how many events I peeked at as time flowed backwards. How many interesting events I reluctantly ignored. But suddenly I was there and I could see the man I had seen in Aaron's mind. I was seeing it through a Healer's mind, no, a Shaman's mind. There was nothing in his mind to give me a link, to tell me how far back in time I was, nor where I was, not even the language, since I could hear nothing.
That unfortunately just meant the Healer's mind I was seeing through was simply not powerful enough to transfer sounds as well as sight to a Werewolf Historian. I looked at the man I had looked for. He was standing straight and still and he was surrounded by a red light. It wasn't an aura, it was a couple of feet from his body, that meant it had to be a shield of some kind.
Suddenly I was looking up at a man's face and I realized that the Shaman's mind that I was in was that of a child, an apprentice. It was highly unusual for a apprentice Shaman that young to transfer information to a Historian. He looked intently into the child's eyes, saying, *You have a visitor my little Shaman friend. I can feel him looking though your eyes. No, not actually a visitor. Somehow your mind is acting as a passageway into the far future.* His face went somber. *That can only mean that Molan has awakened. I must be going to use a spell so that I can talk to this visitor. That is the only way I could feel him. I am Beltar, stranger and my young apprentice Shaman friend is called Dain.*
He must have taken Dain by the shoulders and turned him around slowly. I could see a lot of children, some naked, some clothed and others clothed only in tattoos from head to foot. He told me, *Molan is a sorcerer and he kidnapped these children and was involved in what he calls the Ritual of Renewal. A nice innocent name for something terrible. There are one hundred and forty-four children here. Twelve children were arranged at each of twelve points. With a spell Molan linked the children to him and the process was intended to give him youth, by draining the life force energy of these children. We arrived after the ritual began but before he began to drain the children. We have enclosed him in a shield cage.*
Beltar said somberly, *My companions have decided to simply put him into a magical sleep, though I feel we should kill him and I made my viewpoint known. However, they are not ruthless enough. To kill him would also kill the children, since the first part of the ritual linked them to him. Several of them are children of important clan leaders. Their deaths could lead to thousands of deaths. When the Elves left a thousand years ago, they told the Mages that magic is slowly changing. It is becoming internal magic, like my little werewolf friend here has. Eventually there will not be enough external magic to keep Molan in his sleep and he will awaken. He will become far more dangerous to your world than to mine, because there will be no Mages to fight him.*
Beltar explained, *There is a special ritual that powerful Shamen can use. You can call me from the Inner Realms where I will wait. Instead of appearing as a ghost for only a short time, I will appear in your mind. I will have knowledge of my magic available to me, but I won't be able to use it. This can last for up to fourteen days. Memorize this ritual.* and he put it into Dain's mind and I took it from there.
He told me, *Now I have a feeling that this is not quite an accident. It seems almost to be preordained. I am a trader as well as a Mage. Dain is the son of a friend of mine and he has accompanied me several times in the last two years. He is ten summers old and this is what he looks like.* The boy he showed me was naked, not surprising for his age and time period, but even more than the Jarvis twins he looked like I had at his age. He was unmistakably kin, whether a direct ancestor or not, we were both certainly descended from the same people.
The only difference was that his shoulder length hair was just a little curly and was still a reddish blond while mine had darkened quite a bit in the last six months and was completely red. It wasn't as red as Aaron's was yet but it was certainly headed that way if it darkened much more.
I withdrew from my memories and began to wake. I opened my eyes. There was daylight coming in the window. I knew it had to have taken some hours at least so it must be the next morning. I pushed myself to a sitting position and wasn't surprised to see Tal sitting in the armchair. His eyes were alert as he looked at me. There was a tray on the table beside the chair, so someone had brought him breakfast. I looked at my watch. Ten AM. It had taken eighteen hours and I could hear my stomach rumbling.
I swung my legs over of the side of the bed and slipped into my sandals and buckled them up. I told him, “I think I'd better eat first and then I'll tell you what I found.”
Tal threw something at me and I caught it automatically and turning the apple around in my hand. I said with a grin, “I think something a little more substantial is called for, Tal. I missed supper and breakfast. Is Aaron around?”
Tal told me, “Teddy and Barry headed for the Ross's in their bathing suits. Aaron is still feeling somewhat shaky from yesterday and he's sticking close to your mother or Paul and he was in here for almost an hour.”
I nodded, telling him, “I'm not surprised. It was a close call and from what I found out it could have been very dangerous if he'd been kidnapped.”
I headed out the door and Tal was right behind me and Blue met me in the kitchen. I began putting together something a little more substantial than Tal's offered apple. Four sandwiches of baloney, ham and cheese, tomato and lettuce and a huge glass of milk. Mom, Paul and Aaron had been on the back porch and they came into the kitchen and Aaron was almost glued to Paul, holding his hand firmly.
I sat down my legs curled around the legs of the chair and began to eat. The others all sat and looked at me. If I was the type of person who was disturbed by people looking at me intently, it would have driven me crazy. As it was I ignored them until I was finished, which probably drove them crazy.
Finally I pushed my chair back and Blue jumped up onto my lap. I began petting him as I told them what I had found out. “It took so long because I went back a long, long way. Somewhere around three thousand years, because through the Shaman I contacted the Mage who told me what was happening said the Elves had left a thousand years before. The name of the sorcerer who attempted to kidnap Aaron is named Molan. As I suspected, he was put into a magical sleep when he was captured, attempting to carry out what he called the Ritual of Renewal. It was to bring him renewal and to do it he intended to drain the life force energy of one hundred and forty-four children. They would have died and he would have become young again.”
I told them, “The Mages who captured Molan, did so after he had started the ritual and had linked the children to him by magic but before he began to drain them. That meant that if they had killed Molan they would have killed the children. They weren't ruthless enough, though the Mage who told me about it was. But he was only one. They put Molan into a magical sleep and transferred the problem from their time to ours.”
I explained that, “This time Molan is trying a different tactic. Instead of kidnapping one hundred and forty-four, he is going to kidnap twelve, they will all have enough magical power so that one child can substitute for twelve. That means those with Mage potential, which can no longer be fulfilled in our world, or potential Elders or young Healers. After the first kidnapping which was in England he seems to be ignoring those with Mage potential because the next two were potential Elders and then he tried for Aaron.”
I paused for a second before continuing, “He seems to be continually moving westward. I have the sense that it is part of the ritual and I'm afraid the next one, sometime this afternoon will be Eric Jansen. Tal suggested the Elves could transport me to Colorado since that's the only way to get there, with Colorado being socked in with a blizzard. They won't interfere in our world and we're too close to the event for them to help. They will Transport me to Australia and I can set a trap for him. They won't regard that as interfering since they will simply be Transporting me. If Molan accepts the bait, then that's his problem.”
I directed my next comment at Aaron, “I need your help Aaron. Beltar, the mage who told me about this can be summoned from the Inner Realms, only this is a different type of summoning than the one we did for Myrtle Hansen. This one will allow Beltar to enter my mind and to stay up to two weeks. It normally requires a Mage and a Shaman. I'll try to act as the Mage and you can substitute for the Shaman. It's a good thing I was finally able to teach you how to use your ability to talk to weres when in human form. A slight variation of that is required. Will you help me?”
He nodded, though he still held onto Paul's hand tightly. I smiled, telling him, “Paul and Mom can hold your hands if you want. You won't need your them anyway.”
I could feel the summons. At long last, Molan had awakened and someone with the proper type of power was reaching for me. I grabbed onto the mind that was searching for me and followed it out to its source, the Inner Realms disappearing behind me.
And suddenly I was in the mind and I marveled at the power and complexity of it. It took me a few seconds to realize that this mind, as dangerous and powerful as it was, was still a young mind and still had much growing to do. He opened his eyes and at the same time reached for me.
He told me, *Hello, Beltar, I am Robby Hansen, the adults are my mother and father, Hary Hansen and Paul Wilson and the child Aaron is a Healer, which is what Shamen developed into. I am also a Healer, as well as being an Elder. I acted as the Mage for this ritual, because Mages no longer exist on our world and Aaron acted as the Shaman. You said to Dain that perhaps this meeting was preordained and perhaps it was.*
He stood up and walked over to a mirror. I marveled at the size and clearness of it. It was almost the full length of the door, but then an even greater wonder took my attention. Looking into the mirror, I saw Dain at the same age, in this Robby. Aside from the fact that this boy had straight hair, they were identical and I knew the Gods must surely have arranged this meeting.
I caught an image of Dain in his mind and the resemblance was just as evident and even closer, for Dain's hair had also darkened as he had aged and it was the same color red as mine. The only difference was the fact that Dain's hair was still a little curly. But we didn't have time for wonder and I explained what had been happening.
Beltar said to me, *Yes, you are right, about the way he is traveling being part of the ritual. He could have gone East but it seems that he is going West. In our time, he only had to travel a few miles, but if he is taking children of the potential that you indicate, then he must travel a far greater distance. He is already partially linked to the children. He is using their power to do the Transporting and he is bringing them back into what is a tiny area he has created in between universes.*
I said somberly, *If he is allowed to complete the Ritual of Renewal, then he can take as many into that little universe as he wants and use them to power his magic. His power will be almost unlimited, with no Mages to stop him.*
*What will happen to that little universe if he's killed?* I asked, pretty sure that I knew the answer.
*It was created by Molan and with him dead it will disappear.* Beltar told me.
*I was planning to set a trap for him.* I told him. *But I think the next one to be kidnapped will be a friend. Not that it would have mattered, I wouldn't have left the children to die alone. I intend to make myself inviting bait. He will capture me and bring me back to his little universe, before I strike. Last time I knocked him unconscious and a magic spell Transported him away. I assume it was to his little universe. He won't escape again. If there is no way to escape his little universe, then we will die together.*
Robby looked at Paul and I and his big green eyes were serene. I grasped Paul's hand because I knew that he had bad news for us. That's the only reason he'd want to see us alone. He explained what he knew and that he couldn't let Molan live. He said in his soft voice, “The only way to get Molan is to become a decoy. I'll ask the Elven Council to transport me to Australia and I'll become an irresistible target. A potential Elder far greater than any he has taken so far. He'll take me and transport us to his little pocket universe. Then I'll strike. The possibility of the children and I escaping is probably nonexistent. The Mages who put him into the magical sleep were not ruthless enough to sacrifice lives. I am and if mine is among them so be it, but I didn't want to do this without warning you.”
Robby reached out and put his small hand on top of Paul and my joined hands. He said gravely, “To say goodbye, if that becomes the case.” His eyes become warm. “Life is to be lived, it's necessary to go on with it, you knew that after Dad died. The Werewolf Death Chant says it best I think.”
'For every were
There comes a time
When life meets death
Do not sorrow
I will be there waiting
In the world beyond
Where all things start anew'
He told us, “Tell everyone for me that I thank them for their friendship and tell my brothers I love them.”
There was already a great emptiness in my soul and I prayed that he would be wrong.
Blue already knew from my mind what I thought and he was hiding, trying to get control of his emotions before he had to face the others. Tal was the only other one I said goodbye to personally. Perhaps somebody was telling me something, because I didn't say goodbye to the kids and for some reason I took two hundred dollars from the money that I kept in the safe. I also took my cell phone and a scrambling device. Tal raised his eyebrows, asking, “Do you think you need those kind of things in the afterlife?”
I giggled, a little nervously, telling him, “I doubt it, but I have the feeling that I'm going to need it. I said some good-byes but for some reason I don't think it is. Yet at the same time they had to be made, just in case the feeling is wrong.”
I reached out directly for the Elven Council and I wasn't surprised when they answered immediately, *Yes, little Elder we have arranged for you to contact us directly from now on.* They looked at my mind and after a few minutes said, *You think you may die, yet at the same time you're confident that you won't. Like your passenger, we see no way for you to escape little one. As far as we know, once a little universe's creator is killed the universe dies and anyone still alive in it dies as well. However, like you, we do not think it is your time to die. We will Transport you, because as you surmised we do not feel that we are interfering in your world. If you set a trap and someone takes the bait that's his tough luck. We're simply doing something that you could do physically, though it would take you more time.*
Like the last time it felt like a giant hand gently grasped me and moved me to my destination. As they released me and the darkness of night embraced me they said, *We wish you luck, little Elder and we hope you are right. Goodbye.*
I said dryly, *Goodbye, my friends and I hope I'm right too. While I'm willing to die if it's necessary, I'd really prefer to stay alive.*
It was a little after four AM Monday morning and they were in Daylight Savings Time in Australia. Of course, it was their summer so school was out. I changed to a wolf. It would be easier to move and they were quite used to wolves since Three Trees was a werewolf community. I looked for the Dempseys and Jackie Paget.
When I found their house, I changed back to human, I reached inside and found Joyce Dempsey and Jackie and told them to stay asleep. Only one of them had to be awake and since I knew from my first visit that he got up at four-thirty anyway I didn't think he'd mind waking up a little early.
I knocked on the door and my knock woke him up because I could feel him grumbling as he got up and pulled on his pants. He turned on the kitchen light and jerked open the door and he was about to blast me until he saw who it was. “How can I help you, Elder?” he said semi-politely.
I told him seriously, “I need to see Jackie and I don't mean that I have to wake him up, in fact neither he nor your wife will wake up until their normal time.”
He nodded and after I entered he closed the door behind me and led the way to Jackie's bedroom and switched on the light. Using my new ability to see human aura's, I nodded in satisfaction, this is where Molan would be heading for eventually. I assumed that if he took Eric Jansen as I expected, that he would take one more in the US, before jumping to Australia. He might take one or more somewhere in the Pacific Islands as well. Possibly Hawaii, or New Zealand. As far as I knew there were no Polynesian weres but I could be wrong. Somehow I didn't think so, again whatever or whoever was telling me these things said one more in the US and then Australia.
I didn't know if Jackie would be a more powerful Elder than Teddy, but he was certainly much closer. His aura showing his potential indicated that he would be an Elder at about sixteen or seventeen. It was too hot to need any covering and he wore a pair of short pajama bottoms of the type that Teddy wore. He was curled up on his side and I sat beside him and put my hand on his shoulder.
I put the same type of shields on his mind that I had put on those who had gone to the Elven world with me, however I set a time limit on them of two weeks and since there was only him, it only took a few minutes. Then I put a different type of block on him. It would only last about a week. This block made his mind disappear and when I pulled back I could barely see him and I knew his mind would be invisible to Art or any other Elder and hopefully to Molan.
I ruffled his hair gently then stood up and left his bedroom and Dempsey closed the door a bit behind us. I said to Dempsey, “All right, Re...”
“If you call me Reginald, I'll put you over my knee despite you're an Elder.” he growled at me.
I giggled, telling him, “All right, Reg, I put some protections on him because he was in some potential danger. Now nobody can even see his mind except for me, nor can they see his potential and his aura tells me it's that of an Elder and he'll be a young Elder, sixteen or seventeen, possibly even fifteen. I could tell he had that potential when I was here last time. But for the next week not even Art will be able to see his mind and when that disappears, with the other blocks that I've put on him even an Elder won't be able to discipline his mind either, for an additional week until they wear off.”
“You consider it was that dangerous?” Reg asked solemnly.
I told him, just as solemnly, “Oh, yes. It's a life or death problem. Now he's no longer involved.” completely serious.
Changing back to wolf I headed for Charlie's. Somehow, I knew he'd be awake and waiting for me. Charlie opened the door just as I changed back to human form and I walked in the kitchen door. I wasn't surprised to see the Chief Magic Man, Thomas Whitefoot. I nodded to them. Thomas said, “We've been expecting you. The spirits told us you'd be arriving tonight. Further, they say that the Immortals are involved. They say that Fox, Coyote and Dingo are watching over you.”
I nodded, musing, “Fox, England, Dingo, Australia, but why the Trickster, he seldom cooperates with any of the other Immortals and in fact why have any of the Immortals involved themselves. They generally ignore us these days except for Dingo. Fox as far as I know hasn't been involved in many centuries. And if those three are together why isn't Wolf there as well?”
Thomas said gravely, “One of them is calling in favors and it seems to be Coyote.” I turned a chair around and straddled it with my chin on my hands, as Thomas continued, “It must be someone very powerful, even my other people are wary of calling on the Trickster. Perhaps Wolf has been called as well, perhaps you represent Wolf.”
I conceded, “You could be right. It seems very convenient that Molan's magical sleep was interrupted right now.” I told them the tale from the beginning. I finished, “If the Trickster is instigating this, it doesn't even have to be a big favor that he needs performed. He's quite capable of causing all these problems just to have a stone moved a couple of feet, so he can lie back laughing himself silly.”
Thomas laughed, saying, “I'm afraid you're right about that. Dingo is almost as bad, but from all I've heard Fox is much more serious and he wouldn't let himself be involved unless there was a good reason.”
Beltar knocked for attention, or at least that's how I would describe it. I hadn't called on him except for the first time. I let him speak, after I told the others who it was. “Fox was my totem and he was much more active in my time. The other's who helped capture Molan were of the Fox totem as well. Even if it was Coyote who freed Molan, Fox would get involved, because Molan came from us and from a period where Fox was a major figure. He would feel responsibility.”
That seemed to be all he had to say for the moment. I sighed and said, “If Coyote is the main Immortal involved, let's hope he stays with this long enough to see it through. He has a notoriously short attention span, for things that don't interest him.” and the others nodded agreement.
Instinctively I looked at my watch and it said one PM. I snorted in disgust. “Okay, someone tell me what time it really is, I'm still on Louisiana time. I knew what time it was when I got here but I've lost track.”
Charlie looked at his watch, saying, “Six AM. Do you want to call Art in on this. He should be just getting up right now.”
I nodded, telling him, “That's a good idea, but we'll leave the Immortals out of it, that's from the Healer/Shaman side of me. Art will believe in the magic because what we do is magic, but he'll be somewhat skeptical of the Immortals. Fox and Wolf seldom showed themselves to normal werewolves even when they believed in them.”
Charlie called Art and arranged for him to come over after breakfast, which we also had. Charlie was a widower but his middle son, who was thirteen, could do things with eggs that I'd never seen before. Charlie said he intended to be a chef and I could well believe it. He'd certainly have my recommendation.
Even knowing that it was likely to happen, it was devastating. One moment Eric was there, the next he was gone. The phone rang soon after he disappeared and I answered it knowing it would be Robby. He asked in his soft voice, “Molan took him?”
I said heavily, “Yes. He just disappeared. Can you do anything at all Robby?”
He said and there was no encouragement in his voice, “I don't know Ron. I think I can trap Molan, but I don't know if I can get Eric back. But I promise you one thing, if Eric doesn't return, neither will I.”
I hung up the phone and for some reason I felt more hopeful and I didn't know why.
I hung up the phone and despite the fact that I had figured it was going to happen I felt hollow. It was time to make some preparations. Despite the fact that I thought he would take one more child in the US, I couldn't be sure of that. Australia might be next. First I had a look at all of the other werewolf children in the community and none of them had the potential that Jackie had, though two were just starting to show a bit of potential.
Then I began to make myself enticing bait. I couldn't remove the protections against magical and mental attacks, I had to be awake when I landed in Molan's pocket universe, but I pulled them in, until they were well under the surface of my mind and body and then I told my surface mind what it was to think. Normal thoughts which I took from werewolf children, concerning their community. Nothing would be on the surface to indicate who I really was. I asked Beltar if they could see auras,
He told me, *We can, however like Elves, we are more limited than Shamen or as they have become, Healers. A Mage and a ordinary Elf could tell you are a werewolf, but that's all, an Elven Elder can see whether you're an Elder or a Healer, but he can't tell how powerful you are. An Elven Healer can see just about what you see, as can the Elven Council together. Separately the Elven Council are simply Elders and are subject to the same limitations. However at the distance Molan would be at, he would simply be feeling your potential.*
*Thank you, Beltar. That will make it easier if I don't have to worry about auras.* I told him. I carefully faked the potential I had seen in Jackie and then doubled it. That would make it look like I would be a very powerful Elder when I was initiated but still much less than a quarter of the Elder who had hit him in Benson. Enticing yet not scary.
Then all I could do was wait. As I expected he took the next were in Southern California, about fifty miles south of LA, a girl of about twelve. Then I went into a light trance, much lighter than normal and began examining the Healer's history. I could only get superficial impressions in a trance this light, but I could mark areas that looked interesting and come back to them when I had a chance to go into a deeper trance.
out of the trance and slept for a little while and then I returned to
the trance and Charlie woke me at three AM, since he had been taking
them at about seven AM Australian time.
Molan was right on time and he battered my mind into apparent unconsciousness. He wasn't taking any chances on a second scream to alert a more powerful werewolf. Transport was much like when it had been done with the Elven Council though it was much jerkier and seemed to take much longer. Though, that may have been a subjective thing. After all, despite what I felt, this could be a one way trip and I was scared just like any sensible person would be.
I let my mind flick around and I could feel six other minds, Molan and five others. I could only make an assumption about the other five, because I didn't want to look closely in case he detected me. I gathered my power and I struck at Molan. This time I heard him scream both with my ears and my mind and again his blocks went down and he lost consciousness. Only this time he had nowhere to go. I felt the magic spell activate and when I opened my eyes I saw him move a couple of feet but nothing else happened.
I reached into his mind and searched for the sleep center of his brain. When I found it, I paralyzed it for the moment. Whatever happened Molan would never wake up again, except under my control. He was too dangerous to be allowed to live, even if that meant the deaths of the five children and I.
I looked around and I appeared to be in a sunlit glade and the other children were lying on the ground inside a circle divided into twelve sections. They were asleep or unconscious and I was glad to see that they were all clothed. Most of the children I had seen through Dain's mind were naked and I didn't know if that had been part of the ritual or not. I didn't think so, because some of the children did have some clothing, though very little, but I was glad to see these children were dressed. If an Immortal did have an interest in me, I didn't know where I was going and they might or might not need clothing to survive.
I turned on my ability to see human auras. I could see that the normal auras of the children were surrounded by black with lines of black coming from each of them and ending up at Molan's sleeping body and his aura was black. Whether that was his original aura or whether auras could change over time, I didn't know.
I reached into Molan's mind again and examined it more closely and I could see the links now. I plucked one of them out of his mind and as it happened it was Eric Jansen's. He woke up immediately sitting up and looking around.
Seeing me he lunged to his feet and headed in my direction. I ducked under his attempted embrace and he flipped over my back and landed on the ground with an “Oof,” and I followed him with my arm on his chest to hold him down. At ten, he was still slender but at five feet four he weighed one hundred and ten pounds and he outweighed me by almost thirty pounds.
I told him, with a bit of a grin in my voice, despite the situation, “Now this is a more comfortable way to greet someone, don't you think? Your hugs would be great for Hulk Hogan or The Rock but you've got to learn to control your strength.”
His big gray eyes went wide. “I just wanted to say hello, that's all!” Eric protested.
I was feeling somber and I told him the truth, “You're happy I'm here, but don't get too happy yet. I have no idea whether we'll get out of this alive. A couple of days ago I would have said no, now I think maybe, but only maybe, so don't be too excited that I'm here.”
I let him up then and he sat up and put his arms around his knees. “How soon will you know?” Eric asked his eyes wide now with anxiety.
“I have to wake up the other kids and then I'll find out.” I told him. “Don't tell anyone that you're were. Tell everything else. I'll delete my memory permanently from the other kids, but only temporarily from you. When your father asks you in these words 'Tell me what happened, Eric, my beloved son', you'll remember everything.”
“They'll think we're crazy!” protested Eric.
I shook my head telling him, “No, they'll probably just think you were kidnapped by a cult of some kind and were given drugs that made you see things. Even if you all tell exactly the same story, which is unlikely. Your imagination is going to supply things that never happened, they won't believe you anyway.”
Waking the other kids was as easy as waking Eric had been. I blurred their memory of me permanently so they wouldn't remember what I looked like and as I told Eric temporarily for him.
into Molan's mind I carefully woke him up. He opened his eyes but he
wasn't really aware of us. Carefully I put a couple of commands in his
mind. I began to count down and at zero, I was grabbed by a large hand
and moved, then it was suddenly light again. Right in front of us was
a big sign saying,
Looking around I made sure that all of the children were here and with satisfaction I saw they all were. Well that told me why the Trickster was involved. He wanted me to do something in Arizona. The kids and I sat down to wait and about twenty minutes later I could see an old Volkswagen van heading in our direction.
I examined the two minds in the van carefully and they were trustworthy, so I had them stop. I arranged for them to deliver the children to the nearest police station whether that happened to be state police or in Flagstaff itself. I got their name so that I could reward them at a later date and blurred their memory of me in their minds and sent them on their way. I headed back in the other direction, which was the direction I was supposed to go.
After about ten minutes I called home and it was snatched up before the first ring ended. It was Mom, “Yes!!”
“It's Robby. I'm all right, the children are all right.” I told her and I heard her sigh in relief.
“Where are you?” she asked.
I explained, “I'm in Arizona, about twenty-two miles east of Flagstaff and going east. I seem to have an obligation to fulfill before I can come home. What it is I don't know yet, I may only know when I've completed it. Don't call Ron, I'll call his deputy, Gord Daily, in a couple of hours to give enough time for the finding of the children to become news, his cell phone isn't likely to be bugged like Ron's might.”
I waited for a couple of hours then I put the scrambler on the phone and called Gord Daily. “Gord Daily.”
I said, “Don't say anything, Gord, for the moment. My end is scrambled. Your end isn't. Just say yes or no. Has Ron left for Arizona yet?”
“Good. None of the kids know it was me who rescued them. I blurred all of their minds including Eric's. However, with Eric it's only temporary. If Ron asks Eric in the following exact words, he'll remember everything. Tell him to wait until they get home. The words are, 'Tell me what happened, Eric, my beloved son'. Okay?”
“Yes.” said Gord.
“I'm in Arizona as well, but I have a task to fulfill, before I can go home. I'll call Ron then. Goodbye Gord.”
“Yes.” he answered.
“Smartass.” I told him.
“I'll get you, one of these days, remember that.” I told him and I hung up the phone.
Changing into a wolf I began to run alongside the highway, though not on the shoulder of the road, mind you. When I began to get sleepy, I curled up under some bushes and went to sleep.
Immediately I saw in a dream the sky and then a shape appeared and in front of me was a pure black wolf, with eyes of night blue, stars in them. He told me, *When he released the spell that held the little universe together with him in it, Molan died as you planned and no, little one, you have no obligation to fulfill. I felt that you were too important to die just yet so I was giving you reassurance and I would have helped you out if necessary. Ironically, you figured out a way to get out of the trap without my help. The fact that you ended up in Arizona seems to be the latest prank of Trickster.*
A smaller figure suddenly appeared and began gamboling around Wolf. He stopped in front of Wolf and they touched noses and then the smaller figure was gone. Wolf told me, *My apologies to Coyote, it appears that he wishes to ask you a favor, though you will not know it until it happens. He is much more active as you know, many more still believe in him. I could only interfere because the sorcerer that you fought was from my time and the believers of Fox and I transferred their problem to you. Do not expect me to help again. Goodbye little one, good luck and long life.* and he was gone.
I woke up then and Beltar spoke to me, *It is also time for me to leave, young one. As Wolf said, we were here to help but, aside from a little advice, you did not need any. That bodes well for your future. It is time for me to return to the Inner Realms and beyond. I shall say hello to Dain. I have no doubt that he is your direct ancestor and a credit to him, you are. Goodbye.*
I told him, *Goodbye, Beltar and thank you for the sense of honor that held you in the Inner Realms until you were called. Simply knowing you were there helped.* and I could feel pleasure and then he was gone, leaving me wide awake.
With disgust I got up and began moving along the brightening road. By the time it was full daylight, I knew it was time to find somewhere to eat. Just about then I came across a truck stop, Winona's Sleep and Serve and I knew this was my destination. I changed into human form and I wasn't concerned that there was a police car parked in the lot. I could feel the State Troopers inside and they were werewolves. I took a minute to put on a disguise, those inside would remember I had red hair and that was about it, they wouldn't be able to remember my face.
I ordered a big breakfast and ignored the looks I was getting from the Troopers. Well almost, I told them firmly, *Mind your business. I'm none of yours.*
They both said, *Yes, honored Elder.* and they ignored me after that. One of them was Indian dark. Somewhat unusual, we didn't appear to have made the trek into the Americas with the original peoples. Werewolves of Native American extraction were rare, though there were those who had some native blood. Obviously, this was one of them.
I was looking in the mirror, when I saw two men enter. They weren't particularly noticeable but the shotguns they were carrying were unwelcome. The State Troopers saw them in the mirror as well and they tensed. They were obviously experienced and they didn't do anything stupid. I asked, *Is this their first robbery?*
*No, Elder. They've struck several other truck stops. They've killed twice and wounded several others.* answered the dark one, whose name was Jim Pierce.
*All right, Jim and Fred,* I told both of them, *I'll lock them down for a few seconds and you'll have a chance to go for your guns. I don't like the haphazard way the death penalty is handed out. Many in the justice system don't seem to care whether the person is really guilty or possibly could be innocent. However, these two are guilty. Do either of you have any objection of inflicting the death penalty in a case like this?*
*None, Elder.* said the dark one coldly.
*I agree, absolutely none.* said the other with equal coldness.
*They are locked down, now.* I told them and I watched icily in the mirror as the two crooks realized the cops were going for their guns. They only had time to realize that they couldn't move before they died.
I explained, *It doesn't matter if you mention that I was here, because none of you will remember exactly what I look like. But I don't intend to be here when the other State Police officers arrive. You might get some static about the fact that you endangered lives. However, they have killed before and you had no way of knowing whether they would do so again. I'll try to make sure that public opinion is on your side.*
Nobody even noticed me leave and four hours later and thirty miles away at another truck stop a helicopter landed to sweep me away, back to home and my loved ones.
Friday Jan 30,2004
CHILDREN GOING HOME
The five children who mysteriously appeared just outside of Flagstaff are on their way home at this hour. The authorities are still baffled at how five children kidnapped in such disparate regions could suddenly show up in our state.
Indications are a cult of some kind was involved and that the children were given drugs, since the story they tell is too fantastic to believe.
I heard the phone ring and when Rose yelled up to me, I picked up the extension. It was Ron and Ariel Jansen. They just said, “Thank you Robby, for returning our son to us.” and then hung up, their emotions still too tender for more, but I was content. I had done what I promised.