Reckless Magic (Page 39)

Avalon then began to recount the positions of others all over the world. He named names and places I had never heard before. As small as this room of twenty appeared, it seemed there were hundreds of others all over the globe.

I had as much trouble taking the Resistance seriously as I did the whole Kingdom and Monarchy thing, but it might be more major than I could actually imagine. The way Avalon talked it appeared as if these five boys made up the most skilled reconnaissance team, but there were several others around the world. Avalon and his boys were in Brazil like he said; only he wasn’t with his parents, but rather on a decoy and extraction mission.

Avalon continued to relay information and answer questions until the light began to soften outside the barn doors. I turned, a little bored, and a little lost to look at the beautiful sunlight outside. The sky had turned brilliant shades of orange, red and pink and the sun was a blazing ball of yellow as it set behind the rolling hills of the Nebraska plains.

A black sedan drove slowly across the gravel driveway and parked next to Avalon’s truck. A tall man, dressed nicely and donning a bowler hat stepped out of the vehicle and walked with purpose towards the barn. As he got closer I picked up on his magical current and recognized Principal Saint, or Amory. The image was vaguely familiar and I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu.

I turned back around and forced myself to pay attention to Avalon. Amory stopped next to me, pulling me into a side hug and kissed the top of my head. I was surprised at his familiarity and couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable. Avalon acknowledged Amory with a tip of the chin and a wide grin. I forced myself to relax and trust him.

“The trial is set for the 31st of October at the Judiciary Court’s Citadel. Oscar, Ebanks, Jett and Ronan will all be charged. Another trial precedes theirs, a girl named Lilly Mason. She is a Shape-Shifter charged with hiding her identity, attending Kingsley illegally and threatening the life of the Crown Prince. She is not part of the Resistance, but in my opinion she is innocent,” Avalon’s latest update drew my attention back to the meeting.

“Will we try to extract her as well?” Jericho asked, and my heart fluttered with hope.

“We can try, but our first mission is to remove our members. I know you’re afraid for your friend, but we have to tend to our members first,” Avalon turned to me with his last comment spoken sincerely. I lost hope immediately, realizing I was the only one willing to help Lilly. I also realized I was the reason the other members of the Resistance were going to be tried.

“And when did you say the trial was? Holy Eve?” Angelica asked with a look of disgust across her face.

“Yes, I’m afraid only Lucan would find that ironic. After the trial there is an evening feast to begin the celebrations for the festival of All Saints. Some of you will be invited and expected to attend,” Amory interjected and all eyes turned towards him. I put two and two together and realized the 31st of this month was Halloween. “Conrad, Angelica, Terrance and I will attend the feast and leave the week before to make preparations for Avalon and his team. Jericho and the others will leave three days before the trial and connect with Ryder’s team once they arrive.”

“I will arrive last minute, because I have to take mid-terms,” Avalon rolled his eyes and gave Amory a disdainful glance.

“Avalon, we have to keep up appearances. Nothing must look out of the ordinary. You will travel alone directly after your last test. The tests will all be given by substitutes since the professors of Kingsley will all be required to attend the trial and festival.”

“How last is last minute?” one of the other members of Avalon’s team asked.

“I should arrive the morning of the trial, if all goes as planned. But we will not pull them until the night of the feast. We expect they will be found guilty for seditious war crimes and conspiracy against the King; in that case punishment is death. Our intel suggests that Lucan will wait to execute until All Saints Day to set an example, so we will infiltrate the prison on Holy Eve while everyone else attends the feast.”

“Surely the security will be enormous,” Angelica interjected, clearly worried about the plan.

“Yes, the entire Guard is expected to travel,” Amory took over again. “But the Crown Prince is also expected to be in attendance and so the Guard will be split between Kiran, Lucan, the royal family and then the prisoners. I’m sure during the feast they will require extra security as well,” he cleared his throat as if forcing the words out; as if he wasn’t sure he believed them.

“So that will be our only opportunity?” the man Amory addressed as Conrad said solemnly.

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Amory looked at Avalon with a type of longing I couldn’t define.

“So we better make it count,” Avalon said with more enthusiasm than his older counterparts. “I have full faith in my team, and Ryder and his team as well,” a plan spontaneously formed in my mind.

“I want to help too,” I blurted out, focusing on my own plan to rescue Lilly.

“No!” The entire room yelled at me. Twenty pairs of eyes stared at me as if I had just said the most absurd thing.

“I mean, I won’t mess anything up…. I promise,” suddenly, I felt like the outsider I was. Obviously everyone blamed me for this mission to begin with. I was the reason their friends sat in prison awaiting death. “I know it’s my fault that this mission is even necessary. But I think I can help…. I know I can help,” I tried to explain myself, hoping for a better response.

“I’m sure you could help dear,” Angelica looked at me with a deeply concerned expression and I didn’t understand her emotion. “But we couldn’t risk losing you, it’s bad enough your brother insists on going,” she turned to look at Avalon with the same pained concern.

“It’s not necessary Eden,” Amory put his arm across my shoulder again and I felt him try to use his magic to calm me down. I shrugged it off, persistent that I would go. “Really, our teams are trained in this type of mission; you would only slow them down.”

“But Avalon gets to go. Wouldn’t I make him stronger?” I asked, feeling naïve.

“You cannot go,” Amory replied firmly. “It’s too dangerous. I won’t allow it.”

“Can’t I just tag along then? I could learn from this trip. I won’t get in the way,” I pled my case, desperate to save Lilly.

“Enough. You cannot go. That is the end of it,” Amory said quieter, but with scary finality.

This time I kept my mouth shut, silently brooding, watching the other members of the Resistance nod in agreement with Amory. I knew I was wearing a scowl, frustrated at my lack of independence. It would have been nice to be treated as an equal, just once.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Avalon wrapped up the meeting, but I heard nothing else he said. I had to figure out a way to get to that trial. I had to figure out a way to save Lilly or at least testify on her behalf. I was determined to do it, even if I had to do it completely on my own. Avalon had said something about Kiran going, maybe he would help me.

“Are you ready for the mark?” Amory brought me out of my silent plotting and back to the center of the Resistance.

“What mark?” I asked, completely unaware of what he was talking about.

“She doesn’t want to join,” Avalon joined our conversation as the others milled about in groups of two or three. I got the impression they were all trying to listen to our discussion.

“Why is that?” Amory asked Avalon sharply; apparently not interested in any explanation I would give him.

“Why do you think?” Avalon replied sardonically.

“Eden, you have a lot to learn, young lady,” he said it much like a parent, and I felt instantly resentful.

“What is the mark?” I tried to change the subject away from what I feared was a long lecture on responsibility.

“It’s this,” Avalon pointed to his arm; his school uniform was rolled up to the elbow and revealed the tattoo of a snake wrapped around his forearm eating its own tail.

“You want me to get that?” I exclaimed. There was no way I would cover my body in a hideous image of a masochistic serpent.

“No, not that,” Amory shook his head. “Avalon is a little…. devoted. The usual symbol the Resistance wears is more subtle,” he turned his head to the side and pulled his ear lobe away from his neck. I saw only clear flesh until he touched the part of his neck just behind his earlobe and injected a little magic to reveal the same serpent. The image was much smaller, almost miniscule, but was clear and obvious until he removed the magic. Once the magic was gone, the small tattoo vanished.

“And you all have those?” I asked, enamored with the trick. A dozen Resistance members turned to show me theirs, including Jericho and Avalon. Angelica’s was a brilliant shade of orange, while Conrad and Terrence’s were an army green color. Amory’s was a deep crimson shade of red. And all of the members of Avalon’s team wore ones in white, which stood eerily off their skin, except for Avalon whose tattoo was royal blue.

“What color would mine be?” I asked, with no intentions of actually getting one.

“I am guessing it would match Avalon’s, but we won’t know until you decide to get one,” Amory answered my question, sounding slightly frustrated.

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“The magic we use to apply the mark chooses your color. The magic, in a way, determines the color you deserve. Not that one color is greater than the other; rather it defines the magic you are made of,” Amory put his hand on my shoulder one more time before leaving what had turned into a circle of people, containing mostly Avalon’s team.

“You don’t get to join the team until you have the tattoo. There will be no more fighting for you,” Jericho said as if taunting me.

“She doesn’t get to join the team. Tattoo or not,” Avalon interjected threateningly. He gave Jericho a hard look that Jericho seemed to understand even though I didn’t.

“Avalon doesn’t want me to join the team, because I would easily replace you Jericho,” I deflected my frustration, by turning it against Jericho.

“Oh you think so? Maybe we should have a rematch,” his voice was sarcastic, but his eyes smoldered and I once again noticed how attractive he was. He was taller than Kiran, but his darker hair and darker eyes made him appear mysterious somehow. Any thoughts of attraction I had for him though were quickly forgotten once I remembered Kiran, and then my heart hurt with emotion and a type of longing I didn’t expect.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your names?” I turned off the charm, and turned to face the other members of Avalon’s team, but not before catching a confused look cross Jericho’s face.

“Sorry. Eden, this is Xander, Xavier and Titus,” Avalon made the introductions. I shook each of their hands consecutively, memorizing the magical imprint they left in my fingertips.

Xander and Xavier must be related somehow because they looked nearly identical and their magical current was only marginally different. Xander was slightly taller, but they both had to be close to 6’5 or 6’6. Their hair was long like Jericho’s and Avalon’s and dark like mine. They both had facial hair, but Xander seemed to be a little bit older than Xavier.