Late Night Vision
Location: Castle Stark in the Shadows
Timeline: December 3rd Early Morning
Angel still held her laptop tight against her chest, her comforter wrapped around her body shielding her from the cold as she went up the steps in slippered feet. She hadn't actually thought to put her slippers on but the motion was so ingrained in her that she'd just slid her feet into them as she got out of bed. Other then the comforter and slippers she was dressed in her usual night clothes, a floor length jersey cotton gown, this one in pale lavendar, it was spaghetti strapped and rimmed in lace but perfectly demure. But it was good that she'd brought the blanket since the material was thin. She padded down the hall and up the stairs until she was at the new fancy doors that lead to the rest of the castle. She wasn't 100% sure where she should go but decided that Jericho's office would be a good place to start, the headmistress struck her as a burn the midnight oil type who would be there working rather then in her bed as the rest of the school was.
That was how she found herself knocking on the big door in the wee hours of the morning, clutching her laptop to her chest and wrapped in her thick black comforter, her hair a mess, the sleep mask she wore pushed up on her head.
The office was dark and the lights were off, so clearly she wasn't that kind but someone else was.
"Whatcha need fea-ther?" Summer asked, looking over Angel's shoulder as if she had just appeared there.
Angel spun around only a little surprised.
She was dressed in another long shirt with layers, this one in winter colors of white and gray with black and charcoals and a pair of black skin-tight stirrup pants, barefoot. Her hair was pinned back on the sides of her head and to Angel, her long pointed Fae ears were clearly visible. She was, of course, smiling as she stood on one toe, the other foot kicked back and to the side and her hands folded girlishly in front of her.
"I had a really weird dream... with everything that's been happening I thought Ms. Stark should probably know... I wrote it all down," Angel felt a little foolish now that she was standing there in her nightgown and comforter, her laptop clutched to her chest.
"Knowing how hard you sleep," Summer chuckled, "that must've been some dream. Jericho's probably asleep or um, 'in', somewhere doing something."
Angel nodded, both at how hard she slept and at the intensity of the dream, "The five of us were in a big battle and ended fighting an Ur-Lord."
"And since you couldn't possibly know anything about the Ur..." Summer trailed off. "Be right back," and with that she gestured and seemed to cave in on herself, or rather, space around her, the scenery, caved in on her and shut her out.
After the last couple weeks Angel didn't even flinch at Summer's implosion. Instead she sat against the wall and curled her knees to her chest, pulling her blanket tight around her and waited.
A minute later a young woman she had never seen pushed through the backdrop of reality and smiled down at her. "I'm Sylfi," her voice was soft but pitched like the note of an oboe, her hair was soft blue and worn to her mid-back and straight but unevenly cut. She wore a layered set of diaphanous gowns that came to her mid-calf in blues, grays and creams reminiscent of clouds and sky. Her face was tanned and her eyes were sky blue and clear and friendly.
Angel smiled sleepily and got to her feet, "Angel," she said though she had a feeling that the other woman already knew that.
"Well c'mon then Sky-sister," she held out her hand, a bracer of some sort with tiny chains that linked it to rings on all five of her fingers. A large blue crystal cut and rounded into a hemispherical shape set in the middle of the back of that hand, a different bracer on the other hand and both worn over the sleeves of her tattery dress.
She wasn't actually sure if Sylfi was asking for her hand or her laptop, but she took the other woman's hand assuming that's what she intended.
Sylfi smiled and hauled her (easily one would notice) to her feet and still holding her hand raised the other and admonished her gently, "Now no trying this until you've gotten the training and certifications right? Nobody wants to have you end up somewhere bad now. Right?" It was odd, Sylfi's speech patterns were like how some Brit and a lot of Australians spoke but she had the accent of a non-regional American.
"Scouts honor," Angel said, saluting with the wrong hand awkwardly since she still had her laptop.
Sylfi smiled and held up her other hand to the ceiling and her eyes flashed blue fire as she spoke softly, "Import!"
And then they were in another hallway, similar to and yet very different than the one they left. It was night and the corridor was as large and spacious as Castle Stark except that now, this one seemed more 'lived in'. It felt happier as well, as if it was pleased most of the time. The hall sconces were on and burned with a rich yellow flame as if they were oil, the sconces even resembled oil lamps with their cut crystal bells over the light. A sound behind them made them both turn and a younger man, dressed like he was at Ren-Faire, came around the corner of the corridor singing very softly to himself and seeming to wave his hands about. As he walked, strange characters, swirls and loops and geometric shapes drawn in light appeared just before him and remained illuminated until after he had passed. He watched them carefully and paused, his song changing slightly as he faced an inner wall and drew a small line to close a loop, all the while singing to himself softly.
"What's he doing?" Angel asked in a soft whisper to Sylfi, eyes wide as she watched him work.
"He's looking at the wards, charging them and correcting where they've gone worn through," Sylfi explained very softly. "By third-year, all the Mystics are doing this regularly and it's a part of their marks to progress to graduation that they practice this, a lot. By sixth year, once they've picked a specialty, they'll be endlessly repeating the basics of that over and over until it works without them having to think about it- they just do it. And he can't stop until he's done so we shouldn't interrupt right?"
Angel looked at Sylfi with a hint of annoyance, she was technically a child, but she wasn't that dense. "Of course not," she whispered, even more quietly, she was tired and still a little rattled from her dream so she'd almost snapped 'I don't even know why you brought me here in the first place, but I am pretty sure it wasn't to interrupt this guy,' but she held her tongue, she knew it was just her frazzled nerves not her true feelings. Instead she took a deep breath and looked at Sylfi, "Where to?"
"Sorry," Sylfi flashed Angel an apologetic smile, "comes with being a Sky, all flaky in the head sometimes." She gestured down the hall the way the young man had come and then led, as they passed him he winked at Angel and smiled but kept up his song and gestures without the slightest break. As they came around the corner they passed two people on guard duty, not in front of a door or anything, they just stood there wearing black enameled hex-patterned armor where the quarter-sized plates seemed to be adhered to some sort of under layer of silvery material. The effect made them look like they wore darkness captured in shiny silver netting. Each held a staff with a carved and curved crystal spear-head on the end that glowed ever so softly.
From beneath their visors only their mouths and their eyes were visible, a bar came down to protect the bridge of the nose and each possessed a short spray of pale white fibers that tumbled to their shoulders on the back of the helmet. They looked to be young adults, like her and Sylfi and while they watched, they didn’t move or interact with the girls at all.
Angel nodded to them hiking up her comforter up a little higher and feeling extremely shabby. Once they were past she whispered again to Sylfi, "Who were they?"
"Guards of the Judge-General," Sylfi explained off-handed, "they watch, they make sure that everything stays peaceful when its supposed to be and they enforce the rules when we go to Brawl." As she spoke they came around another corner and then Sylfi pulled her into an alcove, a small room that seemed clear of everything except for a complex mosaic in glass-tiles on the floor. "Hold on, short hop!" she said jovially and without another word the world turned into gray mist for a split-second, before resolving into what looked like a gigantic library straight out of someone MMO. And there was Jericho standing nearby, looking proudly down at Angel.
Angel smiled back but the expression faltered as she shifted where she stood, her slippers and nightgown were gone, her comforter on the floor, and she was dressed in the Raiments from her dream along with the wrist sheathes and curved blades but no bow. Her hair was strung with She felt gangely and off balance as though her center of gravity had changed, only then did she glance behind her to see the hawklike wings on her back. Thankfully her laptop was still clutched in her hands.
Jericho, with the twin lightning bolt-like marks over each eye towered over Angel by several feet but was still herself, aside from the marks on her eyes. "Come along Angel," she gestured towards the table she and several others had been sitting at, one chair at the end larger and slightly more ostentatious than the rest. Jericho nodded to Sylfi who gave Angel’s shoulder a squeeze. "Tirrah!" she called and then poofed-out in a swirl of mist.
The people at the table stood, all normal sized, the gentleman with the black hair threaded with silver at his temples wore tunic and pants, a leather belt and baldric covered with small pouches with snaps. His clothing was made of black leather and fabric with fur trim, all in black and over this but thrown back he wore a cloak that on the back was covered with mystical symbols and geometric shapes.
A younger woman stood one the opposite side wearing mail with plate sections, her armor appeared made from stainless steel and was well-polished, with marks here and there from battles she had never had repaired. Her hair was brown and a little mousy, her jaw was square and her shoulder broad and though she didn’t wear a weapon, the back of her gauntlets were etched with the shapes of dozen of different weapons and shields.
The fourth person in the room was the least-human appearing of them all, made of what looked like spun glass and colored in layers and colors of a tree and leaves, he stood at and smiled at her gently, around the glass-like leaves that passed for hair on his head seven small stars sat like a crown and gleamed, passing their light through the leaves as he moved.
Angel sent a smile at Sylfi before she vanished but then turned to face the others and let Jericho lead her towards the table. Now she was really worried, not only had her physical form changed, a fact that concerned her more then a little, though she reasoned that her wings may simply be an incarnation of this place as she knew Jericho didn't have lightening bolt scars on her face unless she wears a lot more make up then it looked like. More then that she'd obviously interrupted something here and while her dream was strange and foreboding, it didn't seem to be important enough to butt into something like this. "I'm sorry if I'm interrupting," Angel said looking up at Jericho.
"Well while your Vision may or may not be of glad tidings," Jericho replied with a reassuring smile, "you are, in fact, here because you had one and it revealed things to you much in advance of what we’ve told you. We were already up and meeting as we do, so I believe this may have been a welcome change from the usual for us." She panned her gaze across the others, with the two human-looking ones chuckling and the "glass-tree" smiling gently at her. "Do you want to sit while you tell us what you saw, or do you want to stand?"
"I think I better sit," Angel said as she wobbled a little, still not used to the new center of balance, "and I drew a picture of what I saw, of each of us...of it..."
"The…creature…" the woman replied with a small frown. Jericho gave her a mild look and then moved over and got a high but very narrow-backed chair that would fit between Angel’s wings perfectly. She carried it over and set it down behind Angel and then she scooched the younger girl up to the table so she’d be up where everyone else was working. A young man poofed in just then, only slightly older than Angel and he wore a pair of goggles. One lens was over his right eye sand the other was pushed up and he wore a pair of grease and other less-identifiable stains on a pair of overalls. He nodded hurriedly to the others sitting at the table and then placed, gently, a laptop docking station on the table in front of Angel, though around the outer edge it had crystals captured inside copper and silver wire mesh and in the center back a small glass marble that glowed a soft blue and flickered like captured lightning. He offered his hand to Angel in a silent offer to dock her laptop for her, his eyes were warm gold and he had a little smile and two tiny horns pushing up through the edge of his curly brown hair.
"Ur-Lord," Angel said sliding into the seat as Jericho pushed it under her with a practiced grace despite her wings. She give it the name that she'd known in her dream as she handed the laptop to the teen and shot him a smile but her eyes went back to the other faces, wanting to see their reaction to the name.
All, to one extent or another, seemed to reserve their reactions internally. The woman remained serious looking but didn’t refute Angel, she merely glanced at the others. The man in black remained calm, his face placid as he watched the laptop. The young man startled and nearly dropped the laptop when she said the word, snatching it out of the air and placing it gently in the docking station. Slowly, to make sure she was watching, he connected a small USB-like copper plug that had been hidden in the border into one of the USB ports and then he pulled open the lid and hit the power button. The laptop booted up and a complex arcane diagram appeared on the screen, rotating on its vertical axis as the words scrolled out beneath it in violet letters, "VirtuArcanum". Then the desktop popped up far faster then normal.
"This’s yours mum," the young man advised her, his voice deeper and more purring than one would guess. "If’t breaks, bring’ta Special Services an we’ll fix’t right up."
"Thank you," Angel said, smiling at him again, then began clicking on items up on her laptop bringing up the journal like document telling about the dream and the sketch she'd made. Once the image was on the screen she turned it to show the rest of the table.
Jericho reached over and touched the screen with her forefinger and said clearly, "Display image."
One of the crystals on the side of the docking station glowed and projected the text above the laptop like a gigantic projection screen, except it looked like 3-d and you could read it regardless from whatever direction you looked at it. Their eyes read the display and then reread it, pausing after a moment and then going back to it again.
"It appears that this is a Vision," Jericho pointed out. "All aspects considered, I am not surprised it happened though I am constantly taken aback by the timeframe and the progress of my charges since they have begun awakening to their Trueselves."
The woman frowned more and the man in black chuckled softly, whether at the information, the armored woman’s reaction or whatever was going on in his own mind you couldn’t tell. Jericho raised her eyebrow mildly and looked around the room. The special service technician had disappeared quickly and quietly already.
"A Vision?" Angel said, frowning almost as hard as the mousy haired woman, she again knew that the word should be capitalized, "You mean this will actually happen or could actually happen?"
"Yes," the woman replied. "The fact that you recognized and have issued a Prophecy is… ," she sighed and spread her gauntlet-covered hands eloquently, "disturbing, worrisome, disheartening, amazing and surprising." She shrugged eloquently as if to say ‘all of those and more at once for many reasons’.
"Does that mean I am going to keep having these?" She had many other questions, if so how often, should she keep a written record, should she come to Jericho every time, could she tell her siblings, and others she hadn't even fully formed yet. But that was the most urgent so she bit her tongue and waited.
"Probably," the man in black answered this time. "Once you Prophesize, you generally keep doing it. Usually they’re warnings and portents but sometimes they’re pleasant and happy things. The Divinities put that gift in your bloodline, but they weren’t cruel." He paused and flicked his eyes at Jericho and then back to Angel before saying softly, "Your grandfather was a Harbinger and it looks like you are as well."
Angel cocked her head to one side and looked at Jericho, "You know who all our parents are don't you?"
"Many," she replied, "not all and some I suspect rather than know for certain. Celestials are easy to track, since there are certain things that go along with your births. Faespawn, not so much," she sighed a little. "I know at least one of the parents of each of you that are just now becoming aware, for you and Zachary I know both."
"Will we ever get to meet them?" Angel didn't seem overly anxious about this on the outside, she was good at keeping her exterior calm, but unlike most of the others she'd always had a lingering hope that some day she'd find her parents.
Jericho tilted her head forward and looked down as she considered and spoke slowly, "For some it would be alright, perhaps, once you're capable of defending yourselves. For some of you, at least either one or both parents are dead or in some cases, worse. So it wouldn't be a good idea until you know more and can prepare yourselves and make an informed decision to have that meeting."
Angel nodded, she understood that Jericho wasn't going to tell her specifics yet, "Who can I tell about this? Cat's going to wonder about my little crazy act for an hour back there then disappearing all together for another hour at least... I don't like keeping secrets from the others..."
"You uploaded it to your local share net right?" Jericho asked, "The one the four of you use privately?"
"Yes but I password protected it until I talked with you," Angel said truthfully, she hadn't wanted to risk the loss of her data but at the same time hadn't wanted to expose the others to the evil she'd seen in her dream unless it was safe.
"Add Pike and send him a text to make sure Zach reads it and then get together and have a chat," she advised. "When you're done, come find me and I'll start to answer what questions I can and maybe we'll see about beginning your training, if you think you're up to it."
Angel nodded, "I would like that."
"Good because like it or not," Jericho yawned hugely and in atypically unladylike fashion and showing some impressively sharp teeth in the process, "I need some sleep before tomorrow. We were finished here anyway," she panned her gaze across the three of them others who shook their heads, or just smiled at her as the Oak-Father (Angel suddenly connected what he was to a name in her head). "Let's all retire, try to sleep and consider best the words we have shared tonight."
They all agreed and nodded once, formally and as she rose, they rose, formally.
As Jericho turned to collect Angel, the woman stepped to her side and asked softly, "Princess, if I may. We don't have either a Celestial or a Guardian to train two of... your students."
"My children," Jericho turned and corrected her subtly, "will be easily in need of your skills when they arrive Deanara. If they can beat you, then its time to move up the ladder to an immortal. But I daresay, even Zachary at his best, will be hard-pressed to take you."
Deanara didn't like the idea, clearly, but she bent her knees in a short curtsy in her armor and nodded, "Mum."
"Don't worry Commander-General," Jericho smiled gently and reached out and touched the side of Deanara's face gently, "they have been training hard all their short lives and while yes, you are a decade their senior, you have fifteen years of experience in battle they have not."
"As always I will trust your judgment Princess," the Commander-General replied demurely.
Jericho chuckled, "That tone and that posture tells me you don't like it, but you will do it anyway. I appreciate your forbearance my General," Jericho told her gently and then nodded to Angel. "Let's go home and get some sleep, alright?"
Angel had gotten to her feet with the others and nodded and held out her hand.
Jericho took Angel's hand and paused for a moment as a soft blue glow seemed to outline their bodies. "Export," Jericho said and the fantastical castle disappeared as they returned to the main library at Castle Stark. Jericho was now her normal size and appearance, as was Angel, complete with her original clothes and her blanket.
"Half of my head is screaming 'how in the world will you sleep with all this stuff rattling around in me?' the other half is already asleep..." Angel said with a soft laugh as she settled her feet back into her slippers.
"It gets easier," Jericho smiled gently, "but the learning is the part that usually keeps you awake, with all the aches and pains and groans."
"Learning through pain?" Angel said with a skeptical look, but at the same time she understood.
"Training for a Shadekin is rarely just all in the books," Jericho explained and made a fist, as if to exemplify that she meant physical labor and training. "As a Celestial, a Harbinger and an Executor, you'll have to learn how to fight and use what you have." She patted Angel's shoulder and gently shoved her towards the entrance to the Orphan's Hall, "Off you go now."
As Angle's legs snagged in her blanket and she stumbled slightly, she blinked and Jericho was gone and Angel was alone in the corridor. And though she had followed a lot of what Jericho had said, understood the terms, two things stood out for her. She didn't know the context of Harbinger or Executor and yet both of those seemed to be titles of what she was.