DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Shannon Messenger. I am not Shannon. I am yet another fan who hated the Legacy cliffhanger and decided to write a fanfic.
Sophie watched the petals from Calla's Panakes tree drift by. She still couldn’t look at the tree without feeling a little sad, as the tree reminded her of Calla’s sacrifice, giving her life to save her people from the plague. And yet the tree was beautiful, braided bark and a twisted trunk and purplish-pinkish-bluish flowers that had healing powers. Ever since discovering that she slept better out here sometimes, she’d kept a pile of blankets and pillows at the ready.
“Is Biana here yet?” a reddish-haired boy with periwinkle eyes called as he walked over to where Sophie was sitting.
“No,” Sophie told him.
“Yes!” Across from Sophie, a girl glittered into existence. She grinned as Sophie and Dex shrieked. “You keep forgetting I’m a Vanisher.”
Biana reached for a handful of Panakes blossoms and shoved them into the pocket of her teal tunic. The color matched her eyes, and of course it went perfectly with her dark hair. The tunic had short sleeves, which showed the spiderweb of scars criss-crossing the left side of her body, from her neck to all the way down her arm.
Dex sat down on the blanket beside the two of them. “Okay, Lady Foss-Boss. Hit us with your next plan.”
“That is not what you’re call—Never mind.” Sophie, Dex, Biana, Stina, and Wylie had all been made Regents, members of the Nobility, when they formed Team Valliant, a group designed to collaborate with the Council. This meant that they were all technically lords and ladies, and since Sophie was the leader, that had led to Dex’s nickname.
“Speaking of which, are the other members of Team Valliant meeting us here?” Biana asked. “Or are they busy with Tam and Glimmer?”
Lady Gisela, Keefe’s mother (and the World’s Worst Parent) was one of the leaders of the Neverseen, and she had forced Tam into joining them. Tam had gotten away, with the help of Glimmer, a former member of the Neverseen who had decided to help him out for reasons still unknown. Glimmer was in the Lost Cities now, and she and Tam were spending a lot of time with members of the Black Swan, along with Wylie and Stina, brainstorming what the Neverseen might be up to next. Not that they had found much of anything to go on.
Marella had Pyrokinetic training with Fintain, and Linh always went along, as her water could quench Marella’s fire if nessecary.
Keefe was still unconscious from the disastrous events in Loanmore. Lady Gisela had attacked him with ethertine and magisdan, and that had left him unconscious. Gisela had also mentioned stellarlune, which ‘uses the natural forces in our world to bring out someone’s full potential’, and nobody knew how stellarlune reacted with ethertine and magisdan, or even what it was. Despite Elwin’s best efforts, Keefe was still unconscious, and nobody really knew what was going on. Fitz was with him in the Healing Center right now.
That had left Dex and Biana, so Sophie had hailed them earlier that afternoon for help with her newest project.
“This isn’t about Team Valliant.” Sophie said. She took a deep breath. “Oralie’s cache contains a Forgotten Secret about stellarlune that might save Keefe. And we’re going to try and open it.”
There was a long pause. Finally, Dex said, “That’s good. Really good. But this is also a get-kicked-off-the-Council-and-probably-worse level of treason. And Forgotten Secrets are forgotten because they would shatter your sanity.”
“Why would Oralie take such a huge risk?” Biana wondered. “Couldn’t she just ask the Council if she could open her cache?”
“It takes a unanimous vote,” Sophie reminded her friends. “And we need to save Keefe. And….”
She’s my biological mother. That also means she’s been hiding stuff from me for my entire life. I don’t know if I can trust her!
It had been less than an hour since Oralie had told her the idea she had about her cache, and ever since then Sophie’s mind had felt like it was fighting itself.
She lied to you.
She’s risking everything by doing this.
She should have told you she was your biological mother.
She gave you Kenric’s cache and almost got removed from the Council for it. How many times has she helped you out?
She shouldn’t have donated DNA in the first place.
She probably thought it was the right thing.
Councillors weren’t allowed to have children, so if Sophie let anyone know Oralie was her biological mother, it could topple the elvin world. She had to keep this secret.
“Do either of you have any ideas about how to open a cache?” Sophie asked, changing the topic.
She was expecting to hear both of them say ‘no’.
And Biana did.
But Dex muttered “Yes.”
“Wait, what?” Sophie turned to her friend. “How?”
“I was meeting with Bronte all the time to open Fintain’s cache, remember?” Dex said. “He had a detailed list of all the steps. I only caught a few glimpses, but they could be helpful. And Fintain’s cache also needed passwords. That might be because the cache was fake, but if you let me look at Oralie’s, especially if you enhance me, I should be able to figure something out.”
“Awesome,” Sophie grinned—this was much better than what she had hoped for. Maybe she wouldn't have to involve Oralie at all, but that was probably wishful thinking.
“When can I get a look at Oralie’s cache?” Dex asked.
“She went back to Eternalia to do some research on how to open a cache, and she’s coming by in about fifteen minutes.”
Dex grinned. “Just enough time for me to dye Iggy.” He pulled a small bottle out of his pocket. “He’s going to be rainbow this time. With spikes.”
Twenty minutes later, Sophie, Dex, Biana, and Oralie were all seated outside by Calla’s Panakes tree.
Oralie had ditched her tourmaline circlet, sending a clear I’m not a Councillor right now message. As if that made what they were doing any less illegal.
You’re doing this for Keefe, Sophie reminded herself.
“Dex and Biana are going to be working on opening your cache with me,” she explained. "Dex had some ideas on how to unlock it."
I'm doing this on my terms, not yours.
Oralie nodded. "That's great, especially since I didn't find that much in Eternalia. Everything related to opening the caches was classified and needs the consent of all twelve Councillors. If we need to, I could ask Bronte for information, but I'm not sure if you want him to know about what we're doing."
Oralie snapped her fingers;' 'a small marble-size orb appeared in her hand. The inner crystal—the only inner crystal—glowed azure in the afternoon light.
One Forgotten Secret.
One way to save Keefe.
One tiny speck that could have disastrous consequences.
“Are you a Conjurer?” Sophie asked against her will.
"No, it’s just a trick Councillors use. There’s a strand of mental energy that keeps the cache tied to me, even when it’s in the void."
"Did the same thing happen with Kenric's cache?"
"Yes. Each Councillor trusts the code word for their cache to one other Councillor. After Kenric died, I became the temporary keeper of his cache and a new thread of mental energy was set up, which I used when I gave Kenric's cache to you."
She handed the cache to Dex.
Dex stared at the cache, and then back at Sophie. “Can you enhance me?”
Sophie nodded. She closed her eyes and felt for a fragile nerve. The nerve twinged and her heart stepped up a beat, and then the rhythm sank, down to her fingertips where it tingled like she had just come inside after being out in the cold. The days of needing gloves and gadgets were gone now, ever since she and Oralie had done an exercise to give her control over her enhancing.
The day when she had found out who Oralie really was.
Dex reached for her hand.
“Whoa….this is intense,” he muttered, digging a pencil and a tiny notepad out of a pocket in his tunic. He scribbled and wrote and sketched, and Sophie stared over his shoulder at his drawings even though she didn't really understand them.
A few minutes later, Dex looked up from his sketchpad and let go of Sophie's hand.
“Okay….I’ve got good news and really bad news. The good news is that I’ve bypassed most of the protocols. We need a password, but that’s probably ‘stellarlune’ or something similar.”
“What’s the bad news?” Biana asked.
“See this circle?” Dex tilted the cache up to reveal a tiny circle, ringed with silver. “It’s a DNA sensor. Accessing a cache takes a unanimous vote. And to make sure it’s entirely unanimous, this needs DNA from each Councillor.”