Quest of the Seal Bearers - Book 1: The Warriors Return by awgcoleman | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil
Grandmaster awgcoleman
A. W. G. Coleman

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Legacy of War - Part 1 Chapter 2: Suburban Secrets - Part 1 Chapter 3: Legacy of War - Part 2 Chapter 4: Suburban Secrets - Part 2 Chapter 5: Legacy of War - Part 3 Chapter 6: Suburban Secrets - Part 3 Chapter 7: Suburban Secrets - Part 4 Chapter 8: Legacy of War - Part 4 Chapter 9: Destiny of the Descendants - Part 1 Chapter 10: Destiny of the Descendants - Part 2 Chapter 11: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 1 Chapter 12: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 2 Chapter 13: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 3 Chapter 14: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 4 Chapter 15: The Displacement - Part 1 Chapter 16: The Displacement - Part 2 Chapter 17: The Displacement - Part 3 Chapter 18: The Displacement - Part 4 Chapter 19: The Displacement - Part 5 Chapter 20: The Displacement - Part 6 Chapter 21: The Displacement - Part 7 Chapter 22: The Displacement - Part 8 Chapter 23: The Quickener Prodigy - Part 1 Chapter 24: A Mother’s Mission - Part 1 Chapter 25: Search for the Summoner - Part 1 Chapter 26: A Mother’s Mission - Part 2 Chapter 27: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 1 Chapter 28: Into the Desert - Part 1 Chapter 29: Search for the Summoner - Part 2 Chapter 30: Search for the Summoner - Part 3 Chapter 31: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 2 Chapter 32: Search for the Summoner – Part 4 Chapter 33: A Mother’s Mission – Part 3 Chapter 34: Into the Desert – Part 2 Chapter 35: The Quickener Prodigy – Part 2 Chapter 36: The Weather Master - Part 1 Chapter 37: Search for the Summoner – Part 5 Chapter 38: The Weather Master – Part 2 Chapter 39: Into the Desert - Part 3 Chapter 40: Into the Desert – Part 4 Chapter 41: Late Night Revelations – Part 1 Chapter 42: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 3 Chapter 43: The Weather Master – Part 3 Chapter 44: Late Night Revelations - Part 2 Chapter 45: Late Night Revelations – Part 3 Chapter 46: Late Night Revelations - Part 4 Chapter 47: Late Night Revelations - Part 5 Chapter 48: Siege of the Valley - Part 1 Chapter 49: Siege of the Valley - Part 2 Chapter 50: Guardman, Guardian, & Gilmore - Part 1 Chapter 51: Siege of the Valley - Part 3 Chapter 52: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire - Part 1 Chapter 53: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire - Part 2 Chapter 54: Siege of the Valley - Part 4 Chapter 55: Siege of the Valley – Part 5 Chapter 56: Guardman, Guardian, & Gilmore - Part 2 Chapter 57: Siege of the Valley - Part 6 Chapter 58: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire - Part 3 Chapter 59: The Quickener Prodigy - Part 3 Chapter 60: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire – Part 4 Chapter 61: Guardman, Guardian, & Gilmore - Part 3 Chapter 62: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire - Part 5 Chapter 63: Sunnin, Sensant, & Stokenshire - Part 6 Chapter 64: Siege of the Valley - Part 8

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Chapter 9: Destiny of the Descendants - Part 1

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Chapter 9


* Greengale, USA *

“Henry, what are you doing home so early?” Peter Simmons asked when his son walked through the front door, followed closely by Wayne.

“Wayne and I wanted to play Mutant Mayhem, but Ben and Alyson are using the big screen,” he said looking around at all the parents. “Didn’t know all these people would be here. Are we interrupting something?”

“No, we were just talking about your upcoming trip, making sure we have all the information before you guys go flying off to the Caribbean,” Mr. Eastman said.

“Mr. E., you know we’ve got things covered,” Wayne said with a smile.

“And you know that we’ll never stop worrying about you,” Mr. Eastman retorted with an equal smile.

“We’ll head upstairs,” Henry offered.

Wayne followed Henry to his room at the top of the stairs, but they didn’t go far past the threshold, listening intently to the group downstairs.

“I think we should take this conversation to Adam’s house,” Henry’s father was saying now. “We can’t risk the kids overhearing and we need to fill in the others anyway.”

“Agreed,” Mr. Eastman said. “We might even be able to come back later tonight. I’d say three, after we’re sure they’re asleep.”

“We’ll see,” Mr. Simmons said.

There was more murmured talking, but they were unable to make out everything that was being said. Wayne heard someone mention talking to his mother but couldn’t make out the voice. They listened as all the parents left the house and got into their separate cars. It wasn’t until they heard the sound of engines turning over that they ventured out of Henry’s room.

“I think they’re all gone,” Henry said quietly as the two tiptoed down the stairs. “Wait.”

There was a whimpering sound and a small black border terrier appeared at the base of the staircase, looking up curiously.

“That’s Melvin’s dog,” Henry said, clearly confused. “I wonder why Mr. Conners left him here?”

“No clue, but that’s the least of our worries,” Wayne said. “Let’s get the others.”




It took less than five minutes for the group to gather in Henry’s backyard. “I’m pretty sure they’ll be gone for a while,” Henry told the others. “At the very least they said they wouldn’t even try to go down to the basement again until after three. They want to wait for us to be asleep.”

Jandor nodded. “That’s plenty of time. We can be in and out before then.”

“Still, maybe one of us should stay here and stand watch,” Becky said, looking at Henry.

“Hey, it’s my house,” Henry said sternly. “I’m not going to just wait here while the rest of you go down there.”

Wayne looked to Amber, but she shook her head immediately.

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily. Besides, you’re the one who said I needed to be more involved.” Amber smirked at this.

“All of us will go,” Jandor said finally. “This seems to be about all of us, so I think we all have the right to go. Besides, if there is something weird down there, it’ll be better to have us all looking for it.”

Everyone murmured their agreement and the group followed Henry to the basement entrance.

Henry tested the doorknob. “It’s locked, and I don’t know where Dad keeps the key.”

“I bet if you and I put our shoulders into it, we could force it open,” Derrick said to Bernie.

Terri rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that won’t be obvious.”

“Maybe the key is in the house somewhere,” Alyson said. “We could search.”

“That would take way too much time,” Becky countered.

“Seriously?” Amber muttered as she pushed her way to the front of the group. She yanked two bobby pins from her hair and knelt in front of the door. After several seconds of fiddling with the lock using her makeshift tools, Amber stood, pushing open the door as she tossed the misshapen hairpins aside.

There were looks of shock on many faces as she turned around, but she just shrugged and stepped away from the door, taking a spot next to Wayne.

Jandor gave her a small smile, clearly impressed. “Thanks Amber.”

Wayne rubbed her head. “Such a useful little delinquent I have for a sister.”

Amber slapped his hand away but still couldn’t completely suppress her grin.

Beyond the door was a brief landing and a dark stairwell. Henry flicked a light switch, and it illuminated the stairs and closed door at the bottom. There was a slight hesitance as they stared down the narrow staircase, immediately punctuated by the barking of a dog, which caused many to jump. No one had noticed that the black border terrier had pushed its way through the screen door at the back entrance and was now behind the group.

“Henry, shut your dog up,” Becky hissed. “He’s going to give us away.”

“He’s not mine,” Henry said. “Melvin, isn’t he yours?”

Melvin looked around, confused. “Why is Illusion here?” He knelt to address the black-haired dog, “Illusion, quiet!” but it continued to bark. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I’ll lock him in the house.”

Just as he reached to grab the small dog, it immediately stopped barking, shuffled backward, turned, and ran off around the house.

“He’s probably headed home.” Melvin stood. “Not even sure why Dad brought him, but he’ll be okay. He disappears all the time and comes back.”

“Whatever, as long as he’s not barking,” Becky said.

“Well, let’s go if we’re going.” Jandor took the lead going down the stairs and the others followed.




Illusion, the small black border terrier, did not head home. Instead, he scampered across yards and down side streets until he reached the place where the Summerson and Guardman households stood across the street from one another. The plot of land that once contained the Wright house was two doors down from the Summerson house where a large number of vehicles were now parked.

As the dog trotted past the memorial garden, he looked back and forth between the Summerson house, where his owner was, and the Guardman home, where it was clear there was still someone in the kitchen at the back of the house. Illusion veered left and scampered toward the Guardman house. He headed to the back yard and pawed frantically at the screen door that led to the kitchen.

It took less than a minute for Veda Guardman to open the door. She was in a yellow dressing gown, purple pajamas, and a matching nightcap; clearly getting ready to go to bed.

She chuckled when she realized what was making the noise. “Illusion, you clever scamp. Did you realize Marcus left your dog whistle here?” She picked up a thin metal whistle on the table by the door that Melvin’s father had accidentally left at her house when he came to speak to her earlier.

The dog gave a whimper and sat on its hind legs, his hazel eyes wide and an almost troubled countenance on his face.

Her expression suddenly fell. “Oh no!”




 “What is all of this?” Jandor asked in awe as he looked around the cave-like basement level of the Simmons’ home.

Ben examined the rock wall closely. “This is quartz,” Though it was clear, it also had a faint purple-tint. “I don’t recognize this variety.”

“Could this thing be quartz too?” Wayne pointed to the large, round, stone tablet with intricate carvings that was situated in the middle of the floor. “They said something about standing on the tablet before they disappeared.”

Ben knelt to examine it. “Possibly; I’m not sure.”

“What’s this?” Becky walked across the large tablet to the other side of the room where there were boxes and several other objects against the far wall. As she came closer, she saw a label on one of the boxes with her name on it.

“What are you doing?” Ashley asked tentatively as Becky removed the lid from the large box.

“It’s got my name on it; I want to see what’s in it,” Becky said harshly.

Others began to move to where the boxes were, curious to see what she found.

“Okay, what the heck,” Becky said as she reached in the box and pulled out a red knapsack with frayed rope drawstrings and shoulder straps. “It’s mom’s magic bag. I was wondering where this thing went.”

“Magic bag?” Melvin repeated confused.

“Yeah, I remember,” Wayne said with a slight chuckle. “Every time you needed something, she always seemed to have it in her bag. When we were kids, we thought it was magic.”

“What’s it doing here,” Becky said as she reached inside and pulled out a worn electrical engineering textbook with a gasp. “I was just thinking about this. It’s one of mom’s old college books. She was all excited when she started teaching at the tech center at school. She used this thing all the time.”

“Your mom was a great teacher,” Ben said with a smile. “She’s the reason I started to love science and engineering and really got into it.”

“Thanks Ben.” Becky felt herself tearing up and shoved the book back into the bag, yanking on the drawstrings to close it again.

 Jandor went to put a comforting hand on her shoulder but stopped short when he saw that the knapsack wasn’t the only thing in the box. “What’s that?”

“I’m not sure,” Becky said as she reached in and pulled out a slender cream-colored staff with three small, sharp, wing-shaped blades at one end and a long leather-wrapped grip at the other. “Is it some kind of weapon?” she asked Jandor.

“Not one that I’ve ever seen before,” Jandor admitted.

“Why would your father have this down here?” Becky stood to face Henry, an accusatory tone in her voice. “This stuff doesn’t belong to him. Why does he have it? Did my dad give it to him?”

Henry held his hands up defensively. “I don’t know.”

“It’s not just your mom’s stuff,” Stephanie said. She was already looking inside a similar box labeled with her name. She pulled out a small black case which she opened hastily.

“It’s mom’s flute. I’ve been looking for this for months.” She too seemed close to tears. “My mom told me it was passed down through my family for generations.” She pulled out a worn silver flute. Despite its apparent age, it looked well taken care of. “I wanted to start learning using mom’s flute, but I couldn’t find it, so I just bought another one instead.”

“Jandor, am I wrong, or is this your father’s?” Wayne asked as he examined a tall, slender, wooden staff leaning against the wall.

Jandor walked over to where Wayne was standing and picked up the staff which was nearly as tall as him and had faint, but intricate symbols carved in it. “Yeah, this is one of my dad’s bo staffs. Actually, I think this was his favorite; he had it on display. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t in the house. I haven’t been in his study.”

“So, anything else that belongs to our dead parents down here?” Becky asked with ill-disguised disdain.

Everyone else started looking around for objects that might be familiar.

“Hey, it’s that cane thing my dad had when they disappeared,” Henry said picking up a tall, ornately carved wooden staff that was almost his height and curved at the top like a shepherd’s crook. “Whoa, this thing feels weird,” he said swaying a bit on the spot.

“Weird how?” Ace grabbed the staff from him. “I don’t feel anything.”

“I don’t know. It’s not bad,” Henry said, taking it back. “It feels like it’s mine somehow. I can’t explain it.”

Amber was looking on a shelf embedded in the rock wall. “This has a tag on it with my name,” she said picking up a small dagger with a black hilt, “but, I’ve never seen it before. It’s not my mom’s.” She flipped the identifying tag over. “It’s my dad’s, I think,” she added in surprise when she saw her father’s name, Aiden, scrawled on the back. “I don’t get it. My dad died years ago.”

Amber’s parents had lived in Greengale when she was young, but after her father committed suicide, her mother moved their family to the nearby city of Urbis. It wasn’t until after Amber’s younger brother, Ryan, died in a botched convenience store robbery that the family returned to Greengale two years ago. Amber’s mother had been friends with Veda Guardman for years, but she had no idea her father had anything to do with the other adults who were now the parents of A&A. It was becoming clear that they were all linked somehow, and not just because of the club.

“Guys, what’s this thing?” Melvin was standing in front of a large easel which held a smooth, flat rock with jagged edges that made it look like it might be a small piece of a much larger stone tablet. It was sand colored, and there were ornate symbols carved deep into it that looked like some sort of unknown writing.

“What are you doing?” Henry said as Melvin took the stone from its resting place,

“I can’t explain it. It’s like what you said: it just feels weird,” he said as he examined it closer. The stone was about the size of a large book, smooth and polished and warm to the touch.

“Like it belongs to you?” Henry asked.

Melvin shook his head. “No; like it’s special. Like it’s the reason why we’re all here. Something about this just feels important. I feel connected to it.”

“Okay, this is silly,” Ace said walking from Henry to Melvin now. “It’s just a slab of rock.” He took the tablet fragment from Melvin and gave a bit of a gasp.

“What is it?” Jandor asked.

“I don’t know,” Ace said. “I feel different. Like something just changed.”

Ace walked over to Jandor, holding out the stone so he could touch it. Jandor was still holding his father’s bo staff but put his free hand on the tablet. “Whoa, what is that? It’s like it’s alive.” The stone now seemed to have a very faint glow.

Other members of the group became curious, and they rushed over to touch it. Many seemed to have a similar experience of feeling something from the stone, though they all defined it differently.

“So am I the only one who doesn’t feel anything special from this stone,” Tabatha asked, a little annoyed as she removed her hand from it. “It felt a little warm, but that’s it.”

Terri was right beside her. “Ditto,” she confirmed. “It just feels like a rock to me. I don’t know what you guys are talking about.” She felt left out.

“Well, I don’t feel anything either,” Henry said. He had wiggled his way in between Derrick and Bernie to touch the stone. “But it could be because of this staff. I feel a really strong connection to this but no one else does. Maybe it’s all connected somehow.”

“Ash, come try this,” Wayne called to Ashley, who was still standing several feet away from the group of teens groping the stone.

“Uh, I’ll pass,” she said tentatively. “It could be dangerous.”

“It’s not dangerous, stupid, it’s just a slab of rock,” Tabatha taunted. “Go on, feel it up; maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Wayne reached out and took her hand and she allowed herself to be guided to where Ace was still holding the stone tablet. “It’s okay,” he told her softly. “Just try it.”

She touched the stone with her free hand, and it immediately began to glow brighter. She jerked her hand away as if burned.

“What happened?” Wayne asked when he saw the reaction from both her and the stone.

“It said my name!” Ashley almost shouted. “Didn’t you hear it?” Looking around at the confused faces of her friends, she knew the answer.

Everyone took their hand off the tablet in trepidation, leaving Ace to hold it. After a few seconds, it stopped glowing.

“I thought I saw something appear on the back of my hand,” Jandor said as he stared at his right hand, “but it’s gone.”

“Okay, that was really weird,” Ashley said, clinging to Wayne.

“This is making less and less sense,” Becky said. She had the cream-colored staff in one hand and her mother’s bag over her shoulders, apparently determined to take them with her. “We came here for answers but all I have are more questions. What is this place? What is this stone thing?” She gestured to the tablet in Ace’s hands which had become completely dormant now. “Why is there stuff from our parents down here? What are they keeping from us?”

“This doesn’t seem like it’s A&A related at all,” Jandor added. “Whatever they’re keeping from us seems much bigger. I definitely think it’s time we get some answers.”

“I do too,” came a familiar voice from behind them. Everyone turned to see Veda Guardman standing at the threshold of the basement door, still in her yellow dressing gown, purple pajamas, and nightcap, suggesting she had rushed over, only taking the time to put on a pair of white sneakers before leaving the house.

No one was expecting her to suddenly appear in the basement and it seemed to add to the confusion. “Mrs. Guardman, how did you know we were here?” Jandor asked.

“Illusion,” she indicated the small black dog at her heels as she stepped forward, a worried look on her face. “I had a feeling this would happen sooner than we wanted.”

“My dog?” Melvin said, confused at how she had even gotten the dog.

“What would happen?” Becky asked at almost the same time, cutting across Melvin.

“That you would start to find out the truth before we had a chance to prepare you for it. Your parents wanted you to find out the right way, the same way they found out, and their parents before them,” Mrs. Guardman said soothingly, “but the accident changed everything.”

“So, this does have to do with our parents’ death,” Tabatha said accusingly. “They’re hiding something from us.”

“It’s not what you think. None of this is what you think.” Mrs. Guardman gestured at the rock walls that surrounded them. “I promise you the truth is so much more bizarre than anything you could possibly come up with,” she gave a slight chuckle at this, “but I think it’s best that your uncle and the others explain it to you.”

Many of the teens looked uncertain as she beckoned them forward. Most regarded Veda Guardman as a maternal figure and they trusted her, but there was clear hesitance in the group as they moved forward, stepping onto the large tablet.

“No,” Tabatha said suddenly, stomping her foot as if to symbolize her determined stance. “I don’t want to hear it from them. I don’t want to hear whatever spin they’re going to put on it. They’ve been lying to us for almost a year now. How can we trust them?”

“Tabatha, they haven’t been…” Mrs. Guardman wanted to say that they hadn’t been lying but she suddenly realized that this too would be a lie, and it caused her to pause.

“See,” Tabatha said, “You know they’ve been lying. Why can’t you just tell us the truth?”

“Because I don’t think it’s my place.”

“But I’ll believe it from you,” Tabatha said in an almost pleading tone. “Mrs. Guardman, please; I just can’t take all the lying.”

Ace put his free arm around her shoulders.

“I understand and I give you my word that…” Mrs. Guardman was distracted as she stared at Ace. “The seal. Oh no, it’s happening.” She took a steadying breath and stepped forward. “Everyone, I just need you to trust me. We shouldn’t be here. Not now. Not until you hear everything.”

 “Mrs. Guardman, what’s so bad that you can’t tell us?” Jandor held out the bo staff. “Why did we find this stuff that belonged to our dead parents down here?”

Mrs. Guardman looked around to see that Stephanie had her mother’s flute, Becky, the knapsack and cream-colored staff, and Amber, the small dagger, but her gaze stopped at Henry. “Henry, what’s that in your hand?”

“What, this?” he held up the wooden staff. “I don’t know. I saw my dad with it. It looks like some old-school shepherd’s staff.”

“Henry, I need you to put that down very carefully,” Mrs. Guardman said slowly as if she was truly scared.

“Why?” Henry examined the staff, trying to determine what could be wrong with it. “I’m not going to break it or anything; it’s really sturdy.” As if to prove this, he tapped the staff on the stone tablet they were all standing on.

Without any warning, the tablet began to glow. There was a brief flash and before Mrs. Guardman could finish shouting “No!” everyone in the room disappeared.



* The Lost Cave *

“What just happened?” Jandor said looking around in awe at the new surroundings. Everyone seemed dazed and disoriented.

Tabatha swore reflexively as she started to panic. “What’s going on? Where are we?”

“Language, Tabatha,” Mrs. Guardman said reprovingly. She seemed the least jarred of the group.

“Uh, sorry,” Tabatha said distractedly as she looked up at the ceiling. “Did we fall through the floor?”

Ace followed her gaze. “No, this place is different. It was that thing.” He pointed to the staff in Henry’s hand. “Henry what did you do?”

“I don’t…I didn’t…” Henry stammered.

Everyone started talking all at once, which quickly escalated to yelling.

“Calm down, everyone,” Mrs. Guardman called loudly. “It’s okay, I promise. Henry just accidently transported us, that’s all. It wasn’t his fault. He had no idea.”

“Transported us?” Wayne repeated. “Where? How? Mom, you’re not making any sense.”

“We shouldn’t be here,” Mrs. Guardman said more to herself then the teens. “You’re not ready to be here yet. Henry, tap the staff on the tablet again, we need to get out of here.”

Henry was quick to oblige but nothing seemed to happen.

“Oh no,” Mrs. Guardman said. “Marcus said it wasn’t working quite right because of the accident.” She stomped her foot on the stone tablet impatiently.

Everyone was looking around at their new surroundings. It was clear they were in a completely different place, in a real cave, not a re-creation of one, but the purple tinted rock seemed to be identical. The large tablet they were standing on was at the dead end of a long tunnel lit by torches of radiant blue fire.

“Mom, is there another way out of here so we can get back home?” Wayne asked.

“No, I don’t think so. I’ve only ever been here a couple of times, but it wouldn’t matter anyway, this place is nowhere near Greengale; I know that.”

“Okay, let’s try this then,” Becky said pulling out her cellphone. She tried to make a call, but it was in vain. “Nope, no signal.”

“We’re probably too far underground,” Mrs. Guardman said.

“Okay, what is this place, what’s it for, how did we get here?” Tabatha’s anxiety seemed to be escalating quickly. “This is crazy. We were in a basement, now you’re saying we’re in some cave. How did this happen? Is it some sort of magic? Is that it? Our parents are wizards? Is this like those movies? I’m not going to some weird school. I’ve got one year of high school left!”

Mrs. Guardman actually laughed at this, and it echoed through the cavern. “No, no Tabatha, it’s nothing like that. There’s no magic at work here.”

“Says the woman who just got transported from a basement to some underground cave,” Wayne quipped.

“It’s just this thing.” She tapped the large slab of rock beneath them with her foot. “It’s a type of transporter called a translift. It’s like on those sci-fi shows you watch. It just works a bit differently, that’s all. It’s also been damaged so it won’t transport us immediately like it should. I think it needs time to recharge.”

“Okay, I can buy technology I don’t understand,” Ben said, “but how, and why? What are you saying: our parents are all from the distant future or aliens?” He grinned at this. “Are we going to get whisked off to a fantasy world, because that could be fun.”

Ace rolled his eyes. “This isn’t one of those dumb shows you watch. Our parents aren’t from some other world, right Mrs. Guardman?”

Mrs. Guardman had a pensive look on her face. “It’s not that simple. This is very hard to explain.”

“What, our parents are aliens?” Ashley almost screamed. “Wait, are we aliens? I’m an alien!” She started poking at her own skin as if to verify the claim.

“You’re not an alien,” Terri said brashly. “I think I’d know if my stepbrother and stepfather weren’t human.”

Wayne wrapped his arm around Ashley in an attempt to calm her down. “Okay Mom, this isn’t funny.”

“I’m not trying to be funny, and yes you’re all human,” she reiterated. “It’s just complicated. This is why I wanted to let your parents explain it to you.”

“Well, you’re my parent,” Wayne said, “why can’t you tell me?”

“Because this had to do with your father, not me,” she said.

“So wait, does this mean this really is connected to the accident last year?” Becky asked, still hardly daring to believe it.

She nodded. “Yes, the accident last year; it wasn’t what it seemed.”

“I knew it!” Tabatha shouted before suddenly becoming dizzy and almost falling.

Ace caught her. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.” Tabatha tried to steady herself. “Something about this cave or whatever, the air just feel’s weird.”

“Yeah, I’ve felt a weird vibe since we’ve been down here too,” Henry agreed, “but I figured it was the whole magical transport thing.”

“Are you sure we have enough air down here?” Jandor asked.

“I think so. It’s never been a problem before,” Mrs. Guardman said.

“We really should try to find a way out of here,” Jandor stepped off the tablet and started down the tunnel.

“Jandor, we need to wait here for this thing to recharge so we can go back,” Mrs. Guardman called.

“How long will that take?” Jandor asked.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted, “but it can’t be too long, a half-hour max.”

Jandor shouldered the staff. “Well in the meantime, I want to look around. If you can’t give us any answers, maybe this place can.”

“We need to stay put,” Mrs. Guardman said more sternly. “It may not be safe for us down here.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t just wait around for something to happen.” He shrugged apologetically and started down the corridor.

“I’m going too,” Becky decided as she stepped off the tablet to follow him.

“Me too,” Wayne said as he pushed down the brim of his black baseball cap. “Sorry Mom,” he added as he left the tablet.

Ashley gripped his arm tightly, clearly not wanting to be left behind. Amber followed him off the tablet, toying with the small black dagger. One by one the rest started to follow as well.

Mrs. Guardman frowned, looking down at the small black dog. “It’s just like what I saw. I can’t stop it.”

The dog gave a whimper as if in response before trotting along after Melvin.

“All right,” Mrs. Guardman capitulated. “If you’re going to roam around down here, then I’m coming with you.”

The group parted respectfully so that Mrs. Guardman could walk up to the front of the pack with Jandor and Becky.

“Just promise me, you’ll stick together and don’t touch anything that you find. It could be dangerous,” she said.

“So, you know what’s down here then?” Jandor asked as he started down the narrow corridor again.

“I know what’s supposed to be down here,” Mrs. Guardman answered vaguely.

“Doesn’t anyone else feel like the air is thick?” Tabatha stumbled a bit.

Ace helped her along. “Maybe that transporter thing took more out of you than the rest of us.”

“How are all these torches staying lit, and why is the fire blue?” Daniel asked, examining them closer.

“Again, I’m not the best one to ask how all this stuff works,” Mrs. Guardman said.

“But not magic?” Ben asked with a chuckle.

“No, not magic,” Mrs. Guardman assured, “just a different way of doing things than what we know. You’d be amazed at what’s actually possible. Like I said, your parents could tell you a lot more.”

The corridor was long and twisted with a few offshoots, but they stuck to the main path because that’s where the torches were. After several long minutes, they finally entered a large circular cavern. It was empty except for more blue torches along the walls, several piles of large rocks, and a cracked, stone podium in the center. There were dozens of other tunnel entrances along the walls of the cave, but several were blocked off. It looked like part of the ceiling had collapsed recently.

“So, what is this place?” Jandor asked as they all filed into the room. “What’s so important about it that our parents built some sort of crazy transporter to get to it?”

“There was something here, something important that needed to be protected, but it may not be here anymore,” Mrs. Guardman said.

“That’s what they were talking about back at the house,” Henry remembered. “Something in the cave was gone. They went back to look for it.”

“So, what is it. What’s the thing that’s so important?” Alyson asked.

“I don’t even know how to begin to explain it,” Mrs. Guardman said. “I’m really not the one who should be telling you this. I should have called the others and brought them with me. I was just in such a hurry when I found out you were down here. I really wish there was someone else who could tell you everything.”

Suddenly, there was a bright flash of yellow light near the center of the room. Three new people appeared as if from nowhere: a tall dark-skinned man with short black hair wearing a purple robe; a shorter, light skinned man with messy auburn hair wearing a brown tunic and matching pants and holding a staff similar to the one Henry had; and a young, pale skinned woman with long wavy brown hair wearing a blue robe and also holding a curved staff.

The one wearing the purple robe turned around in a circle before realizing that he and his companions were not alone in the cave. He gave a start. “Nots ergoarn non interdin hanc terre. Norme servusmaior. Incan nobis uban samus?”


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