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  • One

    Sophie sat down on the grass by Calla’s Panakes tree. 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 smiled 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.

    It made Sophie want to hug her really, really hard. 

    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,” Biana replied. Sophe smiled as well—this was way better than what she’d hoped for.

    “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 skipped her tourmaline circlet, sending a clear I’m not a Councillor right now message.  

    Even still, Sophie’s mind couldn’t stop freaking out.

    Can you trust her?

    You’re doing this for Keefe, she reminded herself. Keefe NEEDS you.

    “Dex and Biana are going to be working on opening your cache with me,” she explained. 

    Oralie nodded. “That’s good. I didn’t find much in Eternalia, since everything related to opening a cache was classified and needed the consent of all twelve Councillors.”

    “It’s okay. I’ve got a few ideas,” Dex said. “Can I see your cache?”

    Oralie snapped her fingers, and 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?” Biana asked.

    Oralie shook her head. “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.”

    “That’s how you gave me Kenric’s cache, right?” Sophie asked.

    “Yes.”

    “But how did you tie the mental energy if you’re not a Conjurer?”

    “Each Councillor trusts the code word to one other Councillor, in case of death. Kenric had told me his code word, so I used that to summon it during one of the Council meetings, and Liora set up a new thread of mental energy for me.”

    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. 

    Biana handed him a piece of paper and a pencil, and Dex started scribbling, then feeling the cache and muttering.

    Sophie counted the seconds, and at three hundred and five, Dex looked up.

    “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.”

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    • WOW!! This is great!! I wonder how they will get the DNA. When will you post more??

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    • this is amazing!! reminds me of how shannon messenger writes

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    • ^ agreed! pls keep going!

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    • yesss more whenever you can!

      -Lady Sassyfur

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    • So good! You should write more!

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    • Here's chapter two:




      Chapter Two

      “Can you bypass it?” Biana asked.

      Dex shook his head. “I’ve tried. I got nowhere.”

      “Can you make it so that we only need the DNA of one Councillor?”

      “I can’t reset it either.”

      “The castles in Eternalia are impossible to break in to. We need another solution,” Oralie whispered, partly to herself. “Maybe…”

      Biana and Dex went back and forth, trading ideas. Sophie’s fingers were getting sore, because Dex was holding onto her hand, hoping that the enhancing would spark a solution.

      She couldn’t think of anything.

      Finally, Dex looked at Oralie. “Do the Councillors have offices outside of Eternalia or something?”

      Oralie paused….then smiled.

      “The readying rooms in the Seat of Eminence. I’ve got a direct leaping crystal.”

      Biana smiled. “Of course! There have to be hairbrushes there, or something—we can get DNA super easily!”

      It was a good plan—not that Sophie wanted to say anything about it. Dex let go of her hand, and she concentrated on turning off her enhancing again.

      “Are the locks on the doors to the individual rooms hard to break?” Dex asked. “What are they like?”

      “There aren’t any DNA sensors, just regular locks that need a key.”

      Dex nodded. “I can pick those pretty easily.”

      “You remember the locks exactly?” Sophie had to ask.

      “I have a photographic memory.”

      Of course.

      Sophie had one, and they were related….

      “Great,” she said, trying to keep her expression neutral. 

      She’d worked on Black Swan projects with Biana and Dex before. This wasn’t much different.

      But including a Councillor who was her biological mother took it to another level of risky.

      “Night will probably have the least risk of someone catching us. Does leaving at midnight sound good?” she asked.

      “Wait, what about our bodyguards?” Dex inquired. “And our parents? What do we tell them?”

      “They need to know the truth,” Oralie said. “Keep it to just them, please, because I’m not sure it would be wise to let anyone else know unless nessecary.”

      She turned to Dex. “Dex, could you make me a fake cache? ”

      “Probably. Why?”

      “In case the Council decides they need my cache, I need a way to deter them. I don’t know whether the cache will still look the same as a fake when it’s been opened.”

      Dex nodded. “I can work on it once I get home.”

      “Thank you.”

      “Can you build something into the cache that lets us know it’s a fake?” Biana suggested. “So we don’t get the real and the fake mixed up?”

      Dex grinned. “Yeah. I can add a clause to the DNA sensor that needs the DNA of all 12 Councillors to make it change color when my DNA is put in.”

      “You’re amazing.”

      Dex blushed, and Biana smiled.

      “Then there’s stealth…….Biana, if I enhance you, could you vanish everyone?”

      “I don’t know,” Biana said uneasily. “Last time, I could only vanish two people besides myself. 

      “My enhancing’s stronger now.” She tried not to think about why it was stronger. “So it should be able to work.”

      “Let’s try it out.”

      Sophie concentrated on turning her enhancing on. Dex reached for Biana’s other hand.

      “Can you hold onto Dex?” Sophie asked Oralie. “This way I won’t be enhancing you.”

      She really didn’t want her biological mother picking up on her emotions. Especially not while being enhanced. 

      Oralie nodded and took Dex’s hand. Sophie locked fingers with Biana, and Biana let slip a little shriek when Sophie enhanced her. Sophie looked down and couldn’t see herelf. Or her friends, either.

      “I can hold this for a long time. It’s not draining,” Biana said. 

      “Good,” Sophie replied. “Can you let go, though, so we can see each other again?”

      They dropped hands. “Also, do all of us need to go, or is there anyone else we should include?” Sophie asked. She knew that she and Dex and Biana had to go, but couldn’t help wondering...why was Oralie coming along? All they needed was her leaping crystal.

      “Dex needs to be there because of the locks, Biana needs to vanish us, and you need to enhance Biana.” Oralie pointed out. “I have the leaping crystal, and I’m also your alibi. If anything goes wrong, the three of you can stay vanished and I can come up with a cover story.”

      Of course.

      Oralie was the World’s Greatest Liar, after all.

      “Yeah, that’s a good plan,” Dex said. “I don’t think we need anyone else.”

      Dex checked his watch—the Disneyland watch Sophie had given him for midterms as a Level Two, as a joke on his last name, Dizznee. “I should be going. I was only able to ditch Lovise because I promised her I’d be back in an hour and a half. Midnight, right?”

      Sophie nodded. “We can meet at quarter to twelve. Right here.”

      “Great,” Dex said.

      “I have to go now, too,” Biana said. “My mom wants me to work through some Vanishing exercises.”

      Dex and Biana pulled out their leaping crystals and glittered away, leaving Sophie with Oralie. 

      And the pretty blond Councillor didn’t seem like she was getting ready to leave.

      Finally, Oralie spoke. “I’m sorry. When you confronted me about being your mother...I could have handled that better.”

      Sophie didn’t know what to say. 

      The apology was nice….but Sophie noticed that Oralie was only apologizing for how she reacted, not for donating DNA in the first place. Which was really what she wanted to hear an apology for. 

      “Is there anything that would make you feel more comfortable with this? A trust exercise or something?”

      “I’m comfortable.” It wasn’t the exact truth, but Sophie just wanted this to be over with. 

      “I’m an Empath.” She was really saying I can tell that you’re lying.

      Then, Sophie remembered something that had been hanging around her head. She had learned a lot when she had seen one of Keefe’s father’s memories by accident. Could the same thing work this time?

      “Actually, there’s something I want to do.”

      “What is it?”

      “I want to see your memory of when you donated DNA. And why.”

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    • Wow! So good! I wish that I could write that good!

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    • This is great!!!

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    • PLEASE POST MORE!!!!!!!!!!

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    • THAT'S AMAZING!!!

      Much better than I could ever write, so PLEASE ADD MORE!!!

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    • Here's chapter three:


      Three

      “Okay, but….”
      Of course there’s a but.

      “I’m not sure if that’s my secret to share.” 

      Sophie rolled her eyes. “You were the one who chose to!” 

      “It’s not quite that simple.”

      Oralie pulled out her Imparter and started muttering to someone, so quickly and quietly that Sophie couldn’t tell who she was talking to. Finally, she tucked away the silvery square. “Okay.” 

      “Do you know how to tint your memories?” Sophie asked.

      “Give me a moment.” There was a pause. “I’m ready.”

      Sophie pressed her fingers against Oralie’s temples, and fell into the blue-tinted memory. 

      “I need your help.”

      Kenric was sitting opposite Oralie, both seated in pink armchairs in the sitting room of Oralie’s castle. Sophie recognized that room. She’d been there twice before.

      Sophie could pick up on Oralie’s thoughts to a certain extent; the memory was amazingly clear. Oralie was wondering what had happened. The Council had just had a meeting three hours ago. What could be so urgent that Kenric would show up, disheveled and worried, late at night? 

      “You know I’m part of a secret organization,” he explained. “The Black Swan.”

      “Kenric, are you in danger? Are—”

      “No, nothing of the sort. This is about a secret project. Project Moonlark.”

      “Moonlark?”

      “In short, the Black Swan is creating a child to be raised among humans. The goal is that this will give them a unique perspective on our world. They’ll be a force for change, a wake-up call, something that will make our people actually see our world for what it is. I’m not involved, but I’ve been delegated to ask you for something. Your DNA.”

      Oralie was full of questions.

      What is this project? What is the point of it? Why is my DNA needed, specifically?

      Finally, she managed to get out two words. “Why me?”

      “I don’t know for sure. Something about powerful empathy and how it relates to Inflicting. You don’t have to, of course, but you’re the most powerful Empath there is. Please.”

       What is my DNA needed for? Can I even trust that this is a good thing?

      “So, you’re saying my DNA is going to be used to create the person. I’ll be their biological mother. Councillors aren’t allowed to have children, Kenric. If this got out into the open it could be a disaster!”

      “I know. It won’t. I’ve been in the Black Swan for years and have no idea who any of the leaders are. They’re amazingly good at keeping secrets. And the man who asked me to ask you said that he would never let the identity of the parents be revealed.”

      Oralie felt Kenric’s emotions wafting through the air.

      Hope. Apprehensiveness. Nervousness. Trust. 

      Trust...trust that she would make the right choice?

      She’d known Kenric for twenty years. She’d always trusted him. He’d always trusted her.

      If Kenric was asking her for something this big, something that could topple the elvin world, she knew that he thought it was the right thing.

      If it was the right choice, she had to make it. 

      “I’ll do it.”

      “You sure?”

      “Absolutely positive.” 

      Kenric stared at her, smiling in wonder, and neither of them knew what to say. Finally, he said, “You really didn’t have to...Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” 

      “What form of DNA do you need?”

      “I don’t know. I was just told to ask you because I know you the best. Here.” He shoves a crystal into her hand, a tiny round one with only one facet. “Light leap here tomorrow at dusk. They’ll explain everything. At least, they told me they would.”

      “Okay.”

      Kenric smiled. “I’ve got to go. Thank you so much. You won’t regret this. I promise.”

      ***

      The crystal took Oralie to a small room, with armchairs and views of the ocean. Most of the furniture had been shoved aside to make room for a lab setup in the middle of the room, where a wrinkled man was standing. Sophie recognized him - Mr. Forkle.

      “What form of DNA do you need?” Oralie asked. 

      Mr. Forkle took out a strange silver-looking gadget. “This will get us a sample. It’s best if you hold still.”

      Oralie nodded, and Mr. Forkle clamped it onto her arm, counted to twenty-three, and then took it off. There was a small scrape underneath.

      “Thank you. Before you go, I need to tell you something. NEVER tell anyone about this. Never. Not even if your child guesses. Keep it a secret. Do you understand?”

      “I understand. It’s not like I want to share this secret.”

      Mr. Forkle nodded. “You should probably leap back to Eternalia now—you’ve still got your registry pendant. Thank you for donating DNA. It’s going to help.”

      Oralie nodded. She pulled out a crystal and leapt away.

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    • Love the story so far !

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    • This is awesome!!

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    • This is so good

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    • soooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooooood

      )
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    • SO SO SO SO SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!

      Also, thanks for writing more!!

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    • You are a great writer!

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    • Thanks for all the reviews. They really make my day!

      Here's chapter four:




      Four

      Sophie was reeling from the shock. 

      Kenric had been part of the Black Swan?

      Kenric had asked Oralie for her DNA?

      Kenric was in this as well? 

      Kenric had died in the Everblaze….because Fintain knew, because Fintain wanted to take him down? Because Fintain though shattering the link between the Council and the Black Swan was the best option?

      “So….Kenric knew you were my biological mother?” she asked. 

      “Yes.”
      “But Tiergan told me that Mr. Forkle kept the identities of my biological parents entirely to himself!”

      “Was this before or after Kenric’s death?” Oralie’s eyes teared up while asking the question, but that didn’t stop her from finishing it. 

      “After…..Oh.”

      Suddenly, Sophie realized the depth of Kenric’s death. Kenric and Oralie hadn’t just been coworkers, Councillors, friends, secret lovers—they’d also trusted each other with secrets that could shatter the Elvin world. Then Kenric had died, and Oralie had been left alone with memories she could never reveal. 

      It almost made Sophie feel sorry for Oralie. Almost made her want to forgive her for everything that had happened. 

      “Are you feeling better about taking this on now?” Oralie asked. 

      Half of Sophie wanted to scream, “No! You lied to me for my entire life!”

      The other half realized that that wasn’t true.

      Oralie had helped her out a lot, and was pretty much a member of the Black Swan. 

      She had lied about being Sophie’s biological mother—but she had thought she was making the right choice.

      Even though she shouldn’t have donated DNA!

      Sophie couldn’t confirm or deny, so she changed the topic. “Are you going to tell Mr. Forkle you’re opening your cache?”

      “I hailed him already,” Oralie said. “He approves. I’m going to update him on the new plan tonight—with luck, we should be able to unlock the secret by tomorrow morning.”

      “Okay.” Sophie paused. “Wait. Does this mean you’re a member of the Black Swan?”

      Oralie nodded, holding out the charm that was dangling around her neck.

      A monocole pendant made from magisdan. The sign of the swan.

      “When did you swear fealty?” 

      “When the Council was planning Team Valliant. This was something Mr. Forkle had been hinting at for quite a while. I suggested that having someone on both the Council and the Black Swan would be helpful, given that we were appointing the five of you as Regents, and my fellow Councillors all agreed.”

      “It’s just…..are you sure you want to do this?”

      “I’ve been in danger before.”

      “Did Loanmore go well? Lumenaria? Oblivmyre?” 

      Oralie flinched. “I want to do this. I need the truth, and so do you.”

      Sophie couldn’t deny that. She needed to trust her. She needed to save Keefe.

      Oralie started to search in her pocket for a light-leaping crystal. “We’ll meet back here at eleven-forty-five, right?”

      “Yes.”

      “Are you sure you can trust me?”

      There was no escaping this. Oralie would be able to tell if she was lying, even without physical contact. Her Empath skills were that powerful. 

      Sophie wouldn’t be able to trust her like before. But Oralie was risking her sanity to help Keefe, so……

      “I can try.”

      Oralie smiled. “That’s all I need.”

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    • THIS IS GREAT!!!!!

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    • Thanks for writing more, this is great!!!

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    • Ooooooh I love this!!!


      I feel like I'm reading the real book

      Or like I'm reading A SPoiler for it!

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    • this is soooo good!

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    • ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

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    • Here's chapter five:


      Five

      “You’re sneaking off to the Seat of Eminence—breaking into one of the most secure places on the planet. You’re trying to open a cache, which breaks at least a dozen different laws. Which may have secrets that could topple the elvin world and shatter Councillor Oralie’s sanity. You’re bringing Dex and Biana into this, risking their safety as well,” Grady recapped, pacing Havenfield’s immaculate living room. “You should be glad I haven’t barricaded you in your room.”

      “Believe me, that was my original idea as well,” Sandor—Sophie’s overprotective goblin bodyguard—said in a squeaky voice that made him sound more like a cartoon character than a fierce warrior. Bo, Sophie’s overprotective ogre bodyguard, was nodding along. 

      Flori, a tiny green gnome who was Sophie’s third bodyguard, seemed indifferent. 

      “It’s all to save Keefe,” Sophie reminded him. She knew her adoptive father could be overprotective, but hadn’t expected him to be this against their plan. After all, he’d let her take risks before.

      “I’m aware.”

      “If Oralie is on board with this, their plan can’t be too risky,” Edaline reminded him. “At least they involved an adult this time. I think it’s a good idea.”

      Grady sighed. 

      “Just….be careful,” he finally conceded. “I trust you, and I agree that the Forgotten secrets shouldn’t be hidden forever. But this is extremely risky. You’re a Regent now, Sophie, and that would make everything worse if you were discovered.” 

      “I know,” Sophie said. “Really. It’s not like I haven’t been in danger before.” She decided against pointing out that this was one of the less risky risks she’d taken.

      It took eight and a half more minutes of arguing, along with a promise to be back from the Seat of Eminience by one AM, before Grady agreed to let her go.

      Then she left, to go visit Keefe. 

      ***

      “Hi, Sophie,” a crisp, accented voice said. Sophie turned to look at him. Dark hair and teal eyes and perfect features, just like his younger sister. Fitz Vacker.

      Strangely, her heart didn’t give the little jump it used to whenever she set eyes on him. Maybe that was because their boyfriend/girlfriend attempt had failed majestically. Or maybe beacuse Sophie was worrying about enough things already. Especially Keefe…..

      “You haven’t missed much,” Fitz said. “Keefe’s still unconscious. Elwin’s been checking on him, and he’s okay. Just asleep, and…”

      “He’s manifesting a new ability.”

      Fitz nodded. “Yeah. Do you have any ideas about what it might be?”

      Sophie shook her head.

      “You’re in the Healing Center—without any immediate emergencies!” Elwin cried, coming up to where the two of them were standing. “Sophie, I think this is a first for you.”

      Fitz laughed, and although Sophie glared at him, she couldn’t deny it. Two pictures hung on the walls of the Healing Center, one of Sophie in her embarrassing dragon costume from her Level Four Opening Ceremonies, the other of Keefe dressed up as a yeti for his Level Six Opening Ceremonies. Elwin had put them there as a tribute to all the times the two of them had been in danger, and Sophie had heard him thinking about adding a tally board to keep track of their visits. 

      “Nothing new with Keefe?” she asked, trying to cover up her embarrassment. 

      “No. I took a deeper look at his cells, but they still don’t bring any specific abilities to mind. It’s funny—he’s somehow both asleep and awake.”

      “That could be because the elixirs Lady Gisela took before she got pregnant are only acting now,” Sophie suggested. 

      Elwin had heard about the mysterious empty vials, but hadn’t come to any conclusions yet. There wasn’t much to go on, at any rate. The only real lead they had was stellarlune—which Sophie did not want to talk to Fitz about. Because then he’d remember the conversation they’d had about matchmaking and her biological parents, and he might start pressuring her about trying to find her biological father, or get angry that she’d only reached out to Dex and Biana. She didn’t want to deal with any of that right now.

      “Maybe,” Elwin said, snapping his fingers and flashing an orb of light around Keefe.

      “For the record, he is not getting out of his punishment just because he’s unconscious,” Ro—Keefe’s ogre bodyguard—jumped in. “I’ve had plenty of time to brainstorm.” She grinned, flashing a malicious smile that showed her fangs, and showed her orange-painted claws for added effect. 

      Elwin laughed. “Wait until he’s had some time to recover first.”

      Sophie and Fitz stayed in the Healing Center for another few hours. Thankfully, they managed to avoid any tricky topics. Finally, Sophie realized it was sunset. She’d promised Grady that she’d be home early so she could get some rest before sneaking in to the Seat of Eminience. “I have to go.”

      “You’re not sleeping here?” Fitz wondered.

      “No.”

      “Are you working on a project?”

      There was no denying that. “Yes.”

      “Sophie, we’re Cognates! Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

      The rare telepathic bond that she had with Fitz did require them to share all of their secrets. “I only just started working on this—and I’ll tell you everything tomorrow.”

      “Why not now?”

      Because I don’t want to bring up matchmaking, and Oralie, because then I’ll just get even angrier. 

      “I have a really good reason. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

      “Sophie—”

      “I’m sorry, but I really have to get back. Hail me if anything happens to Keefe, okay?”

      Sophie pulled out her home crystal, and her bodyguards clumped around her as she wrapped her concentration around them like a thick blanket. As the light swept her away, she started to wonder......after all the secrets she’d kept, and the matchmaking fiasco, would their Cognate relationship still hold?

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    • This is REALLY good! I'm enjoying reading it

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    • What is your schedule for posting (or is it just kinda whenever you have time)?

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    • I'm trying to do once a day or once every two days. 

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    • This is good

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    • This is really good!! I need more!!!

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    • Chapter Six

      “Sophie? Time to go.”

      Sophie rolled over in bed, not wanting to wake up.

      “Don’t blame me, you were the one who schedueled law-breaking at midnight.” She looked up to see Grady standing over her bed. 

      “Ha, very funny.” 

      Grady smiled and left the room. “I’ll be waiting downstairs.” He headed out the door.

      Sophie put on dark pants and a dark tunic, along with the most sensible boots she could find, and then headed downstairs.

      Grady and Edaline were waiting for her in the living room.

      Grady gave her a hug. “Remember, be back by one.” 

      “I know.” 

      “Stay safe,” Edaline said, pulling Sophie in for a hug. “I love you.”

      “I love you too, Mom,” Sophie replied, sinking in to the embrace. 

      Who cared that Oralie was her biological mother?

      Her real mother was right here. 

      ***

      Dex and Oralie were waiting for her outside, both dressed in dark clothes. Oralie also held a satchel that clinked like it was full of shards of glass.

      “Do you have the leaping crystal?” Sophie asked.

      Oralie nodded, taking it out of a hidden pocket. “I also have vials for the DNA samples.”

      The crystal was opalescent, like every color of the rainbow swirled together.

      “I’ve got the fake cache,” Dex said, holding it out to Oralie. 

      The tiny marble looked exactly like the real cache Sophie had seen—but when Dex touched a piece of his hair to the silver circle, the entire thing glowed pink.

      “Thank you,” Oralie said, taking it from him and putting it into yet another hidden pocket. From the look Sophie got at the inside of her coat, the blond Councillor had over fifteen of them, which made her a little jealous—her most-pocketed coat only had nine. “This looks incredible.” 

      “It’s getting close to midnight,” Biana said, appearing between Dex and Sophie. She smiled a little when both of them gasped. 

      “I’m ready.” Sophie concentrated on turning on her enhancing. 

      Biana reached for her hand, and Dex took Biana’s hand. Oralie held the crystal up to the moonlight, making sure everyone could see the path before she grasped Dex’s other hand.

      “Three. Two. One,” Dex whispered.

      The four of them stepped into the light, letting it whisk them away.

      ***

      The crystal took them to a round room, a shrine to everything pink and girly. Sophie knew this place—Oralie’s readying room. But since the curly-haired Councillor already had placed her hair in one of the vials, they headed for the door.

      The hallway was extremely dark. Even in the daytime, the diamond walls kept out most of the light, and with everyone vanished, Sophie didn’t know where to go. Oralie took the lead, directing them five steps straight and to the left, and Dex used his Technopath skills to open the door.

      The room was full of mirrors, reflecting the faint moonlight and making the room glow. Peridot-and-silver lanterns, currently unlit, hung from the ceiling. This had to be Councillor Alina’s readying room. Sophie’s least favorite Councillor hadn’t been so bad when she was the principal of Foxfire, the prestigous elvin academy. But the power of being a Councillor had gone to her head—and it looked like Alina’s incredible vanity hadn’t abated in the slightest. 

      They made their way to the dressing table, and a moment later, Biana tapped Sophie’s arm. Sophie could just barely hear the glass clink.

      The four of them moved through the rooms, collecting DNA from Councillors Clarette, Zarina, Ramira, Noland, Darek, Velia, Terik, and Liora. Thankfully, the jewels the Councillors wore on their circlets were prevalent in the rooms, and Oralie had spent enough time around all of them to be able to match room to person. 

      Finally, they reached the last room: bare and simple, with just a sturdy table and chair. At first, nobody could spot any combs or brushes. But Biana noticed a locked drawer which Dex was able to open, and it was with a sigh of relief that Oralie tucked Bronte’s DNA into the last vial.

      There was enough moonlight streaming through the window for Sophie to pull out her home crystal and create a path back to Havenfield. As soon as they arrived, they all dropped hands. Sophie collapsed on the dewy grass, and everyone else followed suit. She concentrated on turning off her enhancing. 

      “We did it!” Dex marveled. 

      “Who’s going to hold onto the vials?” Biana asked. “And when can we meet next?” 

      “We can meet here,” Sophie suggested. “Really early in the morning. Is eight good? And I can hold onto the vials until then.”

      “You sure?” Dex asked.

      “Yeah. Grady and Edaline probably won’t ask too many questions. Also, I want to.”

      Oralie handed her the satchel. 

      “See you in the morning,” Dex said as he leapt away. Oralie and Biana also left, promising to be back at eight.

      Sophie headed back to the house, and when she stepped inside the front door, she wasn’t suprised to see both Grady and Edaline waiting up for her.

      “I’ve got the DNA,” she told them, showing them the satchel. “We’re all meeting here tomorrow morning at eight.”

      “Then you’re going upstairs to sleep,” Grady dictated. “Seriously—you don’t want to be groggy when violating dozens of fundamental laws.”

      Sophie snorted.

      “Are you going to be okay?” Edaline asked.

      “I’m fine,” Sophie replied, hoping the words were true. “I’ve broken the law dozens of times before. What else is new?”

      “Just promise me one thing,” Edaline said. “You had nothing to do with whatever is in Oralie’s cache. Nothing. So don’t let the guilt get to you. No matter what’s inside that cache, it wasn’t your fault.”

      Sophie nodded. “I promise.”

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    • Oooo

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    • So good! You're a really talented author

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    • This is great!!

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    • I READ IT ALL IN ONE GO

      AND I'M GONNA GO RUN AROUNG FANGIRLING UNTIL THE NEXT CHAPTER APPEARS

      AND THEN I'M GONNA GO READ THE NEXT CHAPTER

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    • The reviews make me super happy. Hope you guys like chapter seven:




      Chapter Seven

      “So….how do we do this thing?” Biana asked.

      The grass was still dewy and damp, the sun just peeking over the cliffs, and Sophie was glad she was wearing a coat. It was early morning—way too early in her opinion, especially given her restless sleep the previous night—but the secret couldn’t wait any longer. 

      Sophie held out the satchel. “I think we hold the hair up to the DNA sensor, and see what happens.”

      She took out the bottles and uncorked them, making sure she had all twelve hairs held tightly in her fist before touching the cache to the hair. She could feel everyone around her, watching, hoping, waiting……..

      The cache glowed, shining ice blue in the early morning light. Hairline fissures spread throughout the glass, and then it cracked at the top. The inner crystal shot up, hovering above Sophie’s fist.

      “Password?” a voice whispered.

      “Stellarlune,” Oralie whispered, her voice as clear and fragile as glass. 

      The tiny blue crystal grew and grew, becoming clearer and clearer, until it was translucent, flat, and the size of Sophie’s palm. It hovered in midair, as if it was waiting for something.

      Oralie reached out and touched the crystal, and then it shrank again, like it was melting into her hand.

      Sophie, Dex, and Biana waited….and waited…...and waited. Sophie counted the seconds, and at three hundred, she started to wonder. What was going on?

      “Are you okay?” Biana asked.

      Oralie didn’t seem to be able to hear her.

      “I’m going to take a look,” Sophie decided. She pressed her fingers against Oralie’s temples and shoved her consciousness in.

      There was one memory right at the forefront of her mind, which Sophie focused on. This had to be it.

      All twelve Councillors were having an intense discussion, in a large, airy room. Sophie hadn’t seen this place before. There were floor-to-ceiling windows and wood-paneled walls, and a sparkling chandelier which hung directly over a round table and twelve chairs. Their meeting room?

      “Let me get this straight.” Councillor Liora looked shocked and stunned, like she couldn't believe this was happening. “Stellarlune is a combination of all three Prime Sources hit with lightning, along with shadowflux and quintessence? And it’s stored in magisdan bottles?”

      “Yes,” Councillor Darek said. “It’s extrordinarily difficult to make. And remember what happens when ethertine is ingested? Or magisdan?”

      “The person goes into a coma, and the only way to pull them out of it is for either a Flasher or a Shade to use their ability to fix it,” Councillor Ramira finished. “What would happen if someone consumed stellarlune, then?”

      “Well, the light and shadows would counteract each other, I suppose,” Councillor Terik said. “But they’d become a part of the person forever. And if the elements were activated, that could lead to a drastic change in potential. Maybe even trigger a new ability. All the elements trigger the heart, not the head—this could have an especially huge impact on Empaths. Their ability is the only one that stems from the heart, aside from enhancing.”

      Oralie nodded. “It could enhance an Empath’s ability—or change it—or give them a new one. Some elves might be able to resist it, but an Empath would be especially volatile.”

      “Why can’t we inform the people about this?” Kenric asked. “They deserve to know.”

      “Because if they knew, there’s always a slim possibilty someone would try and test out, and that could lead to drastic consequences. Nobody can know about this new discovery.” Councillor Emery declared. “Our world is just fine without it.”

      “But what about the rumors?” Councillor Liora whispered. “That this was being used to experiment on trolls, to make them faster and stronger and even more bloodthirsty?”

      “They’re probably just rumors,” Councillor Noland declared. 

      The conversation went on, but Sophie caught four crucial things.

      One: Stellarlune had been used by Luzia Vacker and Empress Pernille to create the trolls that had been hidden at Everglen. 

      Two: Gisela had most likely ingested it while she was pregnant—it could have been in the small black bottles. 

      Three: It could have an especially harsh effect on Keefe.

      Four: The only way to pull Keefe out of his coma would require a Flasher and a Shade to use light and shadows very riskily to calm the stellarlune down and keep it from infecting him even more.

      Finally, Councillor Emery called for order. “I see no reason the public should know about this,” he began. “In fact, all this secret can do is cause chaos and harm.”

      “So you think we should lock it in a cache?” Councillor Zarina suggested. 

      “Yes. If the rumors become even stronger and we gain evidence, we unlock the secret and investigate. Until then, though, it’s safer if this secret stays buried.”

      The Council voted, and it was unanimous. The secret was locked inside Oralie’s cache. 

      Instead of stopping or fading out, the memory looped back to the start. That was odd.

      Sophie withdrew her mind from the memory, and that was when she noticed something……

      Oralie’s mental landscape was quiet, and she couldn’t see any other memories. 

      I should have resisted. It takes a unanimous vote to access something in a cache; I could have stopped it. It’s my fault that the trolls were experimented on. My fault that the scandal at Everglen happened. My fault that Keefe’s in a coma and we don’t know how to fix him….

      No other memories.

      No other thoughts. 

      Nerves and fear and worry.

      Guilt.

      Too much guilt.

      My fault.

      Oralie’s mind wasn’t broken, but she was getting closer every moment. 

      Think, Sophie. This seemed kind of similar to a broken mind so maybe…..inflicting could work?

      What would she inflict?

      She started to search for a trail of warmth, which led her to a nook, a warm part of Oralie’s mind.

      Oralie? she transmitted.

      It’s me, Sophie. Come back. Stop obsessing over that memory. You can do this. Please. It’s not your fault. 

      She drew on images, thoughts, feelings. 

      Pride didn’t work.

      Joy worked a little better—Oralie’s mind started to flicker, like a room full of holograms with spotty electricity—but it wasn’t enough.

      And then Sophie remembered a conversation she’d had with Mr. Forkle. He’d identified trust as an emotion. 

      She started to fill the nook with images. Kenric, who’d been Oralie’s closest friend, and Bronte and Terik—she didn’t know either of them well, but they did support her on the Council, and Mr. Forkle—he was the leader of the Black Swan, he and Oralie had to trust each other. 

      Come back. 

      That memory isn’t everything.

      It wasn’t your fault.

      It was like Oralie’s mind was hovering, waiting, needing one final thing to break out of the loop and return to normal. 

      And then Sophie knew what she had to do, as much as she hated it and resisted it. But it was true….it had to be. 

      She added images of herself, and when Oralie had helped fix her enhancing, given her Kernic’s cache, arranged a meeting with Gethen……

      You’ve helped me a lot. You can do this. Please come back. It’s not your fault. I know you’re a good person. It’s NOT your fault. 

      She took a deep breath, gathering the courage to transmit three words. 

      Three crucial words.

      I.

      Trust. 

      You.

      The warmth bubbled up like a geyser, and Oralie’s mind came rushing back to life.

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    • Ooo

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    • So good! I'm in suspence

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    • THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD!!!

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    • SUSPENSE

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    • Here's chapter 8:




      “Oralie? Sophie? Are you guys okay?” 

      Sophie blinked, finding Biana staring at her. “I’m fine.”

      “I’ll be okay,” Oralie whispered. 

      “Do we need to hail Elwin?” Dex asked. “You both look a little shaken.”

      “I’ll be okay,” Oralie repeated. She turned to Sophie. “Thank you.”

      “What just happened?” Dex asked. “You two were staring into each other’s eyes, and then there was this freaky Inflictor thing, and then all of a sudden it stopped. What happened?”

      Sophie was still trying to make sense of it herself. 

      “Oralie’s mind got stuck on the memory, and I had to inflict on her to fix it,” she explained. 

      “What do you mean, stuck?” Dex wondered.

      “Everything else had disappeared from her mind…..it was really weird.” She turned to Oralie. “Can you recall the memory now without getting stuck in a loop?”

      There was a long pause, as if she was testing it out, and then, “Yes.” 

      Dex and Biana started asking questions, and finally, after half an hour of discussing and agonizing and theorizing, they had a plan.

      Oralie would show Mr. Forkle the memory. The two of them would review it and figure out its implications, and decide who could be told about it. Dex, Sophie, and Biana would go to the Healing Center to try and fix Keefe. 

      After hailing Tam, Elwin, and Mr. Forkle—and dealing with even more questions and theories and agonizing—Biana and Dex headed for the Leapmaster. 

      Oralie looked as if she was about to go as well, but at the last second, she turned back, whispering “Did you mean it?”

      Sophie knew what Oralie was talking about—but wasn’t sure how to respond. 

      Finally, she replied, “Yes.”

      It was what needed to be true.

      It was slowly becoming the truth.

      ***

      “So you were breaking into the Seat of Eminence WITHOUT ME?” Fitz asked. 

      “And me,” Tam added. “You could have included us. NOTHING exciting was going on, aside from discovering that Glimmer can mimic.”

      Sophie hadn’t expected Fitz to still be at the Healing Center, but she wasn’t that suprised, either. “I’m sorry, but we didn’t need anyone else—and Biana can’t vanish all of us, even while being enhanced.”
      “Besides, we’re updating you now,” Biana added. “Give us a little credit.”

      “So….who gets to know about all this?” Fitz asked. 

      “Mr. Forkle’s going to gather everyone for an update session in a few hours, but this needs to be kept secret. When do we get to try and fix Keefe?” Sophie directed the last question to Elwin.

      “Right now is probably as good a time as any.” Elwin snapped his fingers, creating a large orb of purple light. “I’m guessing the memory didn’t have any instructions?”
      “I wish,” Sophie muttered. “But no. Just that we’ll probably need a Flasher and a Shade to do some extremely weird stuff to deactivate the shadowflux. Which is why I’m going to be enhancing you guys—hopefully your instincts will take over.” 

      “This seems kind of shady...see what I did there?” Dex joked.

      Sophie laughed, and Tam and Elwin moved to stand on either side of Keefe. She turned on her enhancing, then moved in between them. 

      “Ready?”

      “Yes,” Elwin said.

      “Bring it on,” Tam replied.

      Sophie grasped hands with each of them. 

      Shadows loomed from Tam’s free hand, and Elwin gathered an orb of light in every color of the spectrum, before they shot the elements down at Keefe.

      The smoky, foggy orb seemed to sink into Keefe, and then there was a ringing sound like rain on a tin roof. Keefe stirred faintly, like he was trying to wake up.

      Please, please, please….

      Tam reached out his hand, pulling out the shadows, now murky grey with a hint of shimmer. Elwin spun another orb of rainbow light into Keefe, and Tam sank more shadows into the shimmering grey cloud, and when that sank into Keefe, he mumbled something about elf-shaped cookies.

      It’s working, it’s working…..

      The cloud doubled in size, then evaporated, and Elwin and Tam repeated the process. Sophie held her breath, watching, hoping, waiting….

      After the third try, Keefe sat up. 

      “Did you guys miss me?”

      Sophie smiled so widely, it felt like her face was going to hurt. “You’re okay!” 

      “Of course I am. Though I have no idea what ability Mommy Dearest was planning for me, so we should probably start testing for that.”

      “Not until you’ve had a chance to recover,” Elwin interrupted, coming over with about twelve different elixirs. He set the tray down and snapped his fingers, forming an orb of red light that surrounded Keefe’s torso. “The stellarlune got deep into your cells when it was activated, and although we mostly got it out, your cells still look traumatized, and there’s a subtle shift, so you definitely have a new ability. I’m just not sure what.”

      “Wait—stellarlune? I thought it was just ethertine and magisdan.”

      While Elwin took over with elixirs and orbs of light, Sophie, Dex, and Biana took turns explaining what had happened over the past few days. 

      Keefe grinned when they were finished. “So…..I made a Councillor voluntarily break one of our world’s most fundamental laws? Clearly, my influence is spreading.”

      “Keep in mind that that information is secret,” Elwin said, handing Keefe a pale green elixir and a small-silver wrapped item. “Drink that in one gulp, and try not to barf it back up. The candy is for after—you’ll need a chaser.”

      “My confidence in you is increasing exponentially.” But Keefe downed the bottle, grimacing as he swallowed. 

      “Wait—how come Elwin is allowed to know about stellarlune?” Fitz asked. “He’s not a member of the Black Swan. Is he?” 

      Elwin smiled and held up a monocole pendant, causing everyone in the room to gasp.
      “Wait, what?” Dex asked, expressing what they were all thinking.

      “Happened right after we fixed your abilities,” Elwin smiled, tucking the pendant away. “Livvy and I realized we had a lot to learn from each other, and that working in tandem would probably be the best way to keep all of you safe. And I know some of your secrets already, so…...why not?”

      “Can we start testing now?” Keefe cut in.

      “Wait until tomorrow,” Elwin urged him.

      “Won’t testing for Keefe’s new ability take waaaaay too long?” Fitz asked. “Ability detecting can go on for months or years before anything is triggered.”

      “Do you have a better idea?” Sophie asked. 

      “Yeah. You know what happened with Mr. Forkle and how he triggered Marella’s pyrokenisis by giving her extra mental energy? We could do that to Keefe, Sophie. After all—”

      “We’re Cognates!” Keefe exclaimed.

      Fitz rolled his eyes. “Do you like my idea or not?”

      Sophie nodded, and Keefe admitted, “It’s a good plan. Unleash the Fitzphie!”

      Elwin sighed. “Just be careful. Don’t push yourselves too far.”

      “Okay…..Fitz, if I enhance you, how about you send me all the mental energy you can? Then, I can send all of your energy, and all of mine, to Keefe.”

      Fitz nodded, and Sophie turned her enhancing on, then reached for Fitz’s hands. Their thumb rings snapped their hands together, and Fitz sent a rush into Sophie’s mind, making her feel powerful and amazing and strong.

      She wanted to keep that energy for herself, but instead she yanked her hands away and placed them against Keefe’s temples, sending that rush into his mind. It swirled and dipped and looped until…

      There was a fizzing sound, like an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water, and then Keefe’s expression shifted from smiling to shocked. And a little afraid.

      “Do you know what your new ability is?” Fitz asked.

      “I think…..sort of.”

      “Just tell us. It’ll be okay,” Sophie urged.

      Keefe took a deep breath. “I’m an illusionist.”

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    • This is....I'm speechless. I love it!!!

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    • WOW!!! I need more! Thanks

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    • Ooohhhh

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    • I love this!!!

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    • Hi! Sorry it took me so long to update—I'm writing this several chapters in advance and I'm at a difficult point in the plot right now, so updates might slow down a little until I can get a better grip on the plot.

      Here's the next chapter:

      Nine

      “Wait, what?” Sophie asked. 

      If anything, she’d thought Keefe would be a Conjurer. 

      “Didn’t you make a note about your mother testing you for being a Conjurer, twice?”

      “Yes….I’m not really sure why either. But I know it somehow. It makes sense. Aren’t all the illusions about light and shadows? And this would explain why Mommy Dearest recruited Vespera. So I’m part Flasher, part Shade, and I can only do illusions.”

      He looked nervous.

      Anxious.

      Scared.

      Sophie wanted to give him a hug and tell him it was okay. But she held back, waiting to see what would happen next.

      “Do you want to test it out?” Dex asked. “Make us see something that isn’t there”

      Keefe shook his head. “No. I can’t...I don’t want to.”

      “Just try,” Sophie advised. “Please?”

      Keefe nodded shakily, stretching out a hand and snapping to create an orb of light. He shot it at the corner, and kept alternating light and shadows until a small medicine bottle took on the appearance of a bottle of Youth.

      “Whoa,” Fitz gasped.

      “We need to tell everyone,” Sophie decided, pulling out her Imparter. “I’ll hail Mr. Forkle. He was planning on gathering everyone for a group update anyway.”

      “As the only adult in this room, I advise you to keep this to Black Swan members only,” Elwin jumped in, handing Keefe another elixir. “Just to be on the safe side.”

      “I’ll tell Mr. Forkle to hail the Collective,” Sophie agreed. 

      Tam agreed to tell Linh and Wylie, and Biana took on Marella and her parents. 

      “What about Oralie?” Fitz asked. “She needs to be in this a well. It’s her cache that has the secret.”

      “And she’s a Black Swan member,” Sophie agred reluctantly. 

      “I’ll talk to her,” Fitz offered.

      So there ended up being twenty people crammed into the Healing Center, not counting all their bodyguards (who were waiting outside per Mr. Forkle’s instructions).

      Elwin, of course. 

      Sophie, Dex, Biana, Keefe, Fitz, Tam, Linh, Marella, and Wylie. 

      Grady and Edaline. Alden and Della. Mr. Forkle (also Sir Astin, Sophie’s Universe mentor as a Level Two, and Magnate Leto, Foxfire’s principal), Blur, Wraith, Granite (also Sir Tiergan, Sophie’s Telapathy mentor), and Squall (also Juline Dizznee, Dex’s mother). The members of the Collective were all in disguise.

      And the one person who was sorta behind all this who Sophie didn’t exactly want to think about.

      After Sophie and her friends had rehashed everything that had happened with stellarlune, and Keefe, and there was the usual shock and suprise, Mr. Forkle and Oralie explained what they had learned. 

      “Glimmer finally consented to talk a little about the Neverseen,” Mr. Forkle explained. “Yesterday, she admitted that they had been planning something with every intelligent species, and that it related to Vespera.”

      Oralie nodded. “And we’ve learned a lot about stellarlune. It might have been used to experiment on the trolls at Everglen, so…….what if the Neverseen are planning to use it on other intelligent species?” The last part came out in a bare whisper.

      The words seemed too heavy, too thick, swarming the room and filling every crack and crevice with dark shadows.

      Other intelligent species.

      “The Neverseen saw what it did at Everglen,” Mr. Forkle continued. “I’m sure they have an intrest in replicating it. To make themselves or their enemies more powerful.”

      “That would also explain why she wanted to collaborate with Vespera,” Oralie added. “Vespera could have used it to experiment on humans—and presumably keep them sedated. After all, it’s clear that activated stellarlune is a powerful sedative.” 

      “So...you’re saying….” Even Grady was having trouble putting words together.

      “That the Neverseen may be planning to attack some of the intelligent species, or worse, they already have. Taking a few captives to experiment on, to see what stellarlune can do to them.” To her credit, Oralie kept her voice steady as she shared the horrifying hypothesis.

      “There’s one thing I don’t get,” Biana cut in. “The Neverseen doesn’t have a Flasher anymore. Or a Shade. So how could they create stellarlune, or activate it?”

      “Shadows and light can be bottled, and they could have created stellarlune ahead of time,” Dex reminded her.

      Keefe nodded. “My mom could have kept stellarlune in these little black bottles, maybe made from magisdan. In the memory my dad found. And when I delivered the letter to London? It had two crescents and a star, probably stellar for star and lune for moon. It was clearly part of her plan. Plus, this is another reason Mommy Dearest recruited Vespera. She needed an illusionist for her plan, and I hadn’t manifested yet.”

      Tam groaned. “While I was with the Neverseen, I got a lot of “send shadows here and here and here” and “bottle these shadows” and “bottle shadowflux.” They were totally plotting this. And maybe they had already done this to some of the intelligent species, too, because Umber’s journals had a lot of weird notes.”

      One thing was becoming increasingly clear to Sophie. “We should meet with Empress Pernille or Luzia Vacker to talk through this.”

      “If we met with Empress Pernille, would it get back to the Council?” Fitz asked, directing his question at Oralie. 

      Oralie fiddled with her hair. “I’m not sure, but I know that if you do meet with her, you shouldn’t discuss what you learned from my cache just in case. Please.”

      “What’s going on with the trolls?” Wylie asked, beating Sophie to the question.

      “It’s tricky. We’re still trying to negotiate a treaty. There’s going to be another Peace Summit in a few weeks, but the exact date is unclear. Empress Pernille probably won’t be able to meet for at least a month. So I’d say Luzia Vacker is the safer option.”

      Safer for your own self-protection, Sophie wanted to say.

      But she knew Oralie was right. Empress Pernille was caught up in all sorts of turmoil, while Luzia seemed to have plenty of spare time.

      “I can hail my dad, and we can try and set up a meeting,” Fitz offered. “We won’t say anything about the cache, though.” 

      “There’s another problem,” Mr. Forkle said, looking grim. “How do we share our hypothesis, without sharing that we opened Oralie’s cache? We’re going to be walking a very fine line.”

      “We could probe Luzia’s mind….” Sophie trailed off. 

      Oralie smiled. “Luzia’s punishment for the events with the trolls was left undecided at the Tribunal. I might be able to convince my fellow Councillors that we should probe Luzia’s mind to see if she’s hiding anything related to stellarlune. Noland and Liora heard Gisela mention it in Loanmore as well, and if I put it forth as a Black Swan idea, they won’t question the link to my cache, since it was wiped from their memories. In fact, that will probably make the Council support it more, as they’ll see it as another part to our newfound cooperation, that the Black Swan trusts them enough to share secrets and theories with them.”

      “Great. Could you convince them that Magnate Leto would be the best for the job? Or Tiergan?” Mr. Forkle suggested.

      Oralie nodded. “Good idea. Then we’ll have the information as soon as possible.” 

      There were murmurs of agreement all around the room.

      As weird as Sophie was feeling about all of this, all the secrecy and suspicion, not to mention her biological mother, she had to admit…..this could work. 

      This could be their big chance to stop the Neverseen. 

      This time, they finally had the upper hand.

      “Also, should we tell the Council that I manifested?” Keefe asked.

      “I think it would be wise,” Mr. Forkle said. “In the intrest of our cooperation.”

      “But if we tell them that Keefe manifested, won’t they want to investigate further into stellarlune?” Biana pointed out.

      Grady shook his head. “None of the Councillors are Flashers, or Shades. They’ll probably just accept that it was the effects of ethertine and magisdan, and leave it at that. We have more pressing problems at the moment.”

      There were murmurs of consent from everyone in the room, and Mr. Forkle agreed to update the Council, pointing out that the information would mean the most coming from him.

      “And while that’s going on, I have another announcement,” Mr. Forkle said. “Foxfire will resume on Monday, and in case you’re wondering, yes, it is required that you attend.”

      The announcement was met with a chorus of groans.

      “Honestly, this might actually be beneficial,” he continued. “You’ll have a chance to further develop your skills and abilities, and there are plenty of adults who can help out with the Black Swan work. You're teenagers, after all.”

      Nobody looked convinced. 

      To be this close to figuring out what the Neverseen were doing…….and then to have to go back to school

      Definitely infuriating.

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    • This is soooo good! Thanks

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    • Amazing!! I love it. Just one question though... Who do you ship? Y'know, in case we get some of that kind of stuff, and so I can prepare myself. Or not if you wanna leave that out. But really, this is great. I honestly might even like it more than some of Shannon Messenger's work!

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • oof

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    • I'm not all that into romance, but I ship mild Sokeefe and Dexiana. However, I'm trying to keep romance mostly out of this story: people have different opinions on who should be together and I respect that. I'm pre-writing this before I post, and I have just one scene that might qualify as romance even though it isn't that romantic.

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    • Ahhhh please keep on writing! I was literally mentally begging, please don't let this be the end and then it ENDED! NOOOOOO!!! You are SO GOOD at this. Illusionist. I like it. And Also: Whaaaatt? Glimmer, a mimicker? Cooooool. Can't wait to see what's next!!! :D ;D :)

      -A random fandom user who's too young to do anything right now

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    • "Practically perfect, as always."   -Mary Poppins

      That awesome nanny was obviously also talking about this fanfiction.  

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    • THANK YOU FOR ALL THE REVIEWS! :) :) (sends you digital mallowmelt) 


      Ten

      “Sophie!”

      Sophie turned her head to see Jensi standing next to where she was sitting in study hall.

      “Can I sit here? And what were you whispering about? Whoa, you have a special cape pin, is that because you’re a Regent now?”

      Sophie nodded, scooching over to make room for him and shooting a look at her friends that clearly said Don’t talk about Black Swan stuff. Jensi was her friend, but he wasn’t in the Black Swan, and he talked like he’d drunk twelve espressos for breakfast. If she shared a secret with him, it would be too easy for him to let something slip.

      “Have you manifested?” Sophie asked, avoiding the “what were you whispering about” part of his query.

      Jensi sighed. “I wish. My top pick is probably Phaser, like my brother, because that would be so cool. But both of my parents are Talentless, and when my brother Jax manifested it was a huge suprise, so it’s super unlikely that I’ll manifest. The whole matchmaking thing is really stupid. What’s wrong with Talentless people marrying people with special abilities?”

      He sounded more dejected than Sophie had ever heard him.

      “It is stupid,” Sophie agreed. 

      Lady Cassandra, the Mentor overseeing study hall, called for the room to be silent, but as she pretended to review her notes for elvin history, Sophie’s mind was going another direction.

      Jensi’s brother was a Phaser, and clearly thought the Council had serious problems.

      Blur was a Phaser, and had joined the Black Swan for unknown reasons. 

      Blur had full lips and round cheeks, just like Jensi. 

      ***

      The minute Sophie got home from school, she pulled out her Imparter. “Show me Jax Babblos,” she said. 

      Jax had full lips, round cheeks, and curly hair just like his brother—and when his face appeared on the screen, Sophie got a good look at his expression.

      A flicker of shock and surprise—and then it went neutral.

      Sophie also noticed a thin, flesh-colored, nearly invisible cord around his neck—he just might have a Black Swan pendant.

      “Hello, Sophie,” Jax said. “What’s going on? Is it about my brother? He’s told me a lot about you.” 

      Sophie shook her head. “No. I have a question for you.”

      “Fire away.”

      “Are you Blur?” She said the words really fast, to get it over with.

      Jax laughed like he thought the idea was ridiculous—but it was there. Right there.

      A tiny bit of shock.

      Sophie stared at him, trying to make eye contact.

      And then he sighed and admitted, “Okay…...yes.”

      “Can you tell me why you joined the Black Swan?” she asked, trying to stay on track. This was huge

      Jax shook his head. “It’ll take too long.”

      “How about a summary?”

      “Matchmaking is stupid. Really stupid. And I started noticing other stupid things about the elvin world, too. I joined the Black Swan about twenty years ago, just after I graduated from the elite levels.”

      “Wait…..but you’re Jensi’s brother.

      “Yeah, but elves can have kids whenever. They don’t have a time limit on it like humans.”

      “Oh, right. So does that mean…..you were a part of Project Moonlark?”

      “Yes, but just for some brainstorming. I wanted you to prove prejudices in the elvin world wrong.”

      “Wait. You knew I was going to be unmatchable? You planned it?”

      Had the Black Swan ever considered that she might want to be just a normal teenager? One who could do stuff just like her friends did? Okay, matchmaking was idiotic, but…..

      “Yes. When we were researching who we wanted to have as DNA donors, I suggested that we keep the identities of your parents entirely secret so as to have you prove the prejudice around bad matches wrong. This would also allow your parents to be pretty much anyone. Someone so powerful, with at least three abilities—how could they face so much scorn for no good reason? It’ll show our world that matchmaking doesn’t matter.”

      “So YOU’RE the reason I’m unmatchable?”

      If Jax hadn’t suggested that, she wouldn’t have had all the drama with Fitz, with Oralie, with her parents (biological and adoptive).....

      She was tempted to fling something at her Imparter.

      “Calm down.” Jax smiled, showing his dimples. “Don’t you agree that matchmaking is rigged and messed up?”

      “I guess so,” she muttered.

      “Then why would you want to be a part of something that messes with people’s lives in that way?”

      Sophie sighed, hating that he was right.

      “I’m sorry that all this made you stress out and stuff,” he mumbled. “It’s just…..you can be happy while being a bad match, or while not even getting a match list.”

      “I’m still kinda mad,” she told him. “I get it, but I’m mad.”

      “I don’t blame you.”

      ***

      “Wait, what?” Marella asked, her tone full of shock and disbelief.

      Sophie nodded. “I hailed him earlier today.”

      Dex grinned, showing his dimples on the Imparter screen. “All we need to figure out know is Wraith.”

      Biana smiled. “You don’t.”

      “Do you know who Wraith is?” Fitz asked incredulously. 

      “Yeah. He’s my Vanishing mentor.”

      The small silver square showing all of Sophie’s friends from the Black Swan erupted with shouts of “WHAT?” and “HOW?”. 

      “It actually makes sense when you think about it,” Biana said, grinning broadly. “Why else would the Black Swan have included me for the Everest ambush if they didn't know about my Vanishing skills? And while I was staying in Alleturve, Wraith said that if I worked hard enough, he’d teach me how to partially vanish. I saw Sir Osmond as I was heading to the Leapmaster today, and we started talking about what we'd be working on this semester. When he mentioned partial vanishing, that's when it clicked."

      “Wow,” Sophie mumbled, feeling partly impressed and partly overwhelmed. “Why’d he join the Black Swan?”

      “His father was a Pyrokinetic, and he died when Fintain was trying to spark the Everblaze. Plus his younger brother is Talentless, and both of them think all the prejudice around that is really stupid. He didn’t go into much detail, and I can’t really blame him.”

      “Whoa,” Linh whispered.

      “Yeah,” Biana said. “It’s pretty intense.”

      They were all silent for a moment, and then Keefe jumped in, “Someone has to break the awkward silence, so I’m going to. Nice detective work, Biana.”

      Biana smiled. “Thanks.”

      Something else flickered into Sophie’s mind. 

      Grady was currently out on an assignment about the rebel dwarves, so she needed to talk to Team Valliant about that.

      Ugh, why was juggling all this stuff so difficult?

      Okay. Deep breath. First things first. 

      “Can everyone on Team Valliant meet outside by the Panakes tree an hour after school tomorrow?” she asked. “Grady needs to talk to us about what’s going on with the rebel dwarves. Can everyone in Team Valliant make it?”

      “I can,” Wylie said.

      “I can, too,” Biana responded.

      “I’m free. Also, who’s going to hail Stina?” Dex asked.

      Sophie hadn’t included Stina and Maruca on this group hail, because they weren’t part of the Black Swan yet—even though Maruca definitely wanted to join.

      “I can,” Biana offered.

      “Great.”

      As her teammates clicked away, Sophie’s head was still spinning.

      Could they really have figured out the identities of Blur and Wraith in the same day?

      Could the Neverseen be only working on one thing?
      Could taking them down really be this simple?

      This simple, yet this difficult….

      As if the cosmos agreed that this was too simple and she needed more of a challenge, just after her friends clicked away, her Imparter started buzzing.

      YOU ARE BEING HAILED BY: COUNCILLOR ORALIE

      TAP THE SCREEN TWICE TO ACCEPT

      Sophie fought the urge to groan and tapped the screen twice. 

      “Hello, Sophie,” Oralie said. 

      “Hello,” Sophie responded. She could tell that this was probably a formal call, since Oralie was wearing her circlet. 

      She paused, waiting to see what would come next.

      “The Council has a request, and I thought it would be best to tell you personally,” Oralie explained.

      Just tell me already!

      “We were talking about probing Luzia’s mind earlier today,” Oralie continued. “We’ve agreed that if it doesn’t yield results, we’ll stop with the Telepath tricks, but if it does, we’ll investigate further. I suggested Magnate Leto and Tiergan, but I was overriden.”

      “The Council wants someone who’s not in the Black Swan to do it?” 

      Oralie shook her head. “They want it to be you.”

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    • Oof

      I also had a theory that the black swan wanted her to be unmatchable to remove the matchmaking system

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    • Cool!

      Also, you just gave me an idea for a future chapter. Thanks!

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    • Ccchamomile wrote:
      Oof

      I also had a theory that the black swan wanted her to be unmatchable to remove the matchmaking system

      That's a really cool idea!!!!

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    • And this is great!!

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    • I like how your adding a bunch of elements into your story (Keefe's ability, the cache, blur etc.). Its really great!

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    • Eleven

      “Wait—why me?” Sophie asked.

      Oralie smiled. “You’re the most powerful Telepath in our world. You’re working with a Cognate, who will give you even more strength. Luzia has already proven resistant to several telapathy tricks, and this should certainly mix things up.”

      “But…..I’m only fifteen!”

      Sophie realized that that probably wouldn’t matter to Oralie; she had let her daughter be experimented on and raised by humans and all sorts of other crazy stuff.

      “If it’s too overwhelming, we can select another Telepath. It’s a choice, Sophie, not an order. I have no doubt that you can do this, but if you feel like it’s too much, I’ll try to make the Council reconsider.”

      Sophie wasn’t sure how she felt. 

      Before, praise from Oralie—a Councillor, an ally, a friend—had made her feel warm, happy, powerful, like she’d just drank a cup of cimmacreme. But now?

      She didn’t know whether Oralie was trying to convince her to do it or letting her know it would be okay if she didn’t do it, whether she actually believed in Sophie or whether she was just passing on a message.

      Whether she was lying or telling the truth. 

      “It would be best to get your descision by tomorrow, but take your time. It’s up to you. And Fitz, of course.” 

      Fitz.

      The other person who Sophie didn’t feel fully comfortable around.

      “I’ll talk to him, and I’ll give you an update tomorrow morning,” she decided.

      Oralie smiled. “Thank you. Also…...there’s something else I want to tell you.” 

      She took a deep breath, as if the words were hard for her to say. “If you want to tell Grady and Edaline that I’m your biological mother...I understand. You shouldn’t have to deal with all this alone. Just please, keep it to them and only them.”

      The infintesimal, super-forgiving part of Sophie wanted to say I’m not alone, I’ve got you. The slightly larger, still-furious part of Sophie wanted to say I’m still not over this. You still lied to me, and maybe you should have thought it through before you donated DNA.

      The rest of Sophie—the part that trusted Oralie but still hadn’t quite forgiven her—replied, “Thanks. Seriously.” Then, something else that had been bugging her surfaced. “You said that you pushed for Grady and Edaline to adopt me—why?”

      “Edaline and I crossed paths occasionaly at Foxfire. She was a Level Four when I was a Level One. She would stick up for anyone who was being treated unfairly or teased, no matter what. Later on, after Foxfire, I saw that they were great parents to Jolie, and after she died…..it’s hard being an Empath sometimes. I felt like you guys needed each other. Full credit goes to them, of course. They’re much better parents than I ever could be.”

      That definitely explained it. Sophie didn’t want to get into another biological parent rage, so she just nodded and said, “Yeah, they’re great. I’m definitely going to tell them.”

      “I hope it helps.”

      The minute Oralie flickered away, Sophie laid down on her huge canopy bed and transmitted, Fitz. Fitz. FITZ!

      Fitz’s mental voice filled her mind.

      Sophie! Everything okay? We were just on a group hail!

      Everything’s fine, she transmitted. I have something to tell you.

      Go ahead.

      The Council wants us to probe Luzia’s mind.

      Wait, why?
      We’re super powerful. Why not? I’m up for it if you are.

      That reminds me—your biological parents!

      Why did Fitz have to bring that up? I’m DONE searching, Fitz.

      Yeah, but I’m not. So what if I do some searching on my own? I’ll only tell you if I think you can handle it.

      No! Just NO! 

      Okay, calm down. I’m sorry if I upset you…I just thought it would be a good idea. You want to know, don’t you?

      Actually, I’m perfectly fine not knowing.

      Okay, Fitz thought. Anyway, I’m good with probing Luzia’s mind, too.

      Sophie wasn’t sure if he was trying to pacify her or not, but she didn’t really care. Great.

      ***

      Grady agreed to the meeting about the dwarves. When that was finished, Sophie was shocked to realize how dark it was outside.

      How could the day have gone by so quickly?

      She gathered up a pile of pillows and blankets and headed down the stairs.

      “Sleeping outside again?” Edaline asked when she saw Sophie.

      Sophie nodded. “It’s easier.”

      Outside, by Calla’s Panakes, with the healing flowers, where she could almost hear Calla’s songs.

      Edaline smiled. “Want me to conjure those outside?”

      Sophie nodded, and Edaline snapped her fingers, making the giant mound of pillows and blankets disappear. 

      Edaline and Sophie set up a giant pillow-bed in record time, and that was when Sophie decided to let the news slip. She couldn’t deal with the secret any longer. 

      It felt like it was bubbling up, getting to boiling point, like one day it was going to boil over and she’d release it to the world in a tremor of steam and fury.

      Only maybe if she told Edaline now, she’d stop the secret from boiling over.

      “Oralie is…”

      That was as far as she got.

      Edaline’s face clouded with concern.

      “Sophie, what’s going on? Are you okay? Is—”

      “Mybiologicalmother,” she said in a rush.

      It was hard to tell what Edaline was feeling at that point. Shock? Anger? Concern? Worry?

      Edaline took a long, deep, breath, and then let it out.

      “Are you okay?”

      “I think so,” Sophie admitted. “I just….don’t know if I can trust her. I know why she donated DNA now, because Councillor Kenric was part of the Black Swan and they were in this together or something, but I’m still having a hard time comprehending it.”

      “I get that.” Edaline looked dazed. “I’m having a hard time with this, too. Oralie? We were at Foxfire together…..she always seemed so unsuspicious.”

      “I guess being underestmimated is her specialty,” Sophie muttered.

      Edaline nodded. “She certainly has helped you out a lot, even against the wishes of the other Councillors. I’ve always wondered why. I guess I know now.”

      She seemed lost in thought for a moment, as if she was reviewing her memories.

      “Do you want to talk about it?” Edaline asked.

      “Yeah….will you stay out here tonight?”

      “Of course.”

      Edaline conjured up more pillows, making a giant bed under the Panakes tree for the two of them.

      They talked late into the night, and when Sophie finally fell asleep, she felt….contented.

      Edaline was her mother, and nothing could change that.

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    • OMG this is so good I luv that keefe’s new ability is an illusionist(my fav theory) Keep writing I must know more -that weird bookworm

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    • This is great!!

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    • This is amazing

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    • Oooh did anyone notice that when Sophie mentioned the Council it reminded Fitz to talk to her about her bio parents....

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    • Thanks for all the reviews. It makes me really happy to know that people are reading this! 

      Hope you like chapter twelve:

      Twelve

      “I’ve heard about the probing,” Tiergan said as he entered the telapathy room that afternoon.

      “How?” Sophie and Fitz asked in unison.

      “Oralie told Mr. Forkle after you hailed her this morning and agreed to it, and Mr. Forkle told me, so I can prepare you two for it this afternoon.”

      “We’ve probed Keefe’s mind before,” Sophie reminded him. 

      “I’m aware. So I thought we’d spend the first part of this class doing trust exercises, as it’s been a long time since our last telepathy session. Then you two can spend the second part probing my mind and trying to break through my blocking.”

      “That sounds good,” Fitz agreed. 

      “Okay. I want you to tell each other two secrets nobody knows, and they have to be important secrets.”

      Good thing she’d told Edaline the details about her biological parents.

      I’ll start, Fitz offered. I’m a little jealous that you’re a Regent and I’m not. Your turn. 

      It took all of Sophie’s strength to admit, Sometimes….I’m kind of glad you’re not a Regent.

      What?
      Don’t get mad. It’s good that we’re Cognates and everything. But it’s good that you have a wider perspective, along with Linh and Keefe and the others.

      I guess so, Fitz thought. But we’re Cognates! We should do everything together!

      That’s not quite true, Sophie argued. Oralie said something really interesting when we were being appointed as Regents—“true trust doesn’t require absolute transparency.” Tiergan agreed with her, and said he thought that was the highest level of Cognatedom. Mr. Forkle hasn’t been transparent with me, but I still trust him. Same goes for every adult in the Black Swan.

      Fair enough. Okay, my turn. I still kind of want to find out your biological parents. I’m super curious.

      You’re going to drop it, though. Right?

      Of course. No reason to worry.

      Sophie bit back a laugh at that last sentence. Alden, Fitz’s father, loved those words, although she’d learned never to believe them. 

      And, ugh, it was her turn to share a secret.

      I’m not going to register for the match. Not now. Not ever.

      Why?
      Some secrets are worth protecting. Remember how Mr. Forkle said that the identities of my biological parents would ‘topple the elvin world’? Even if it becomes less world-toppling, it’s still dangerous. And the match thing is really stupid. Can’t you just get a list of your relatives?

      I guess you’re right. It’s my turn again, so…...I think I’m going to stay registered.

      Why? Sophie couldn’t stop herself from spilling at least some of her feelings. It’s really stupid, and rigged. Look at what happened to Dex’s parents. If we didn’t have this idiotic system in place they wouldn’t be shunned—and they don’t deserve to be. 

      I’m going to wait a little while before I get a match list, anyway, Fitz assured her. I agree, it’s stupid. But it also could be really helpful—you could find the perfect person and save yourself a lot of trouble.

      Sophie bit back a snarky retort. For my last secret, could I tell you what went on in the Seat of Eminince? Would that count? 

      Sure. I’m super curious. And it’d be nice to know what was going on.

      She explained what happened with the Prime Sources, and Fitz was amazed. That could be part of why stellarlune is so powerful!

      I guess so, Sophie agreed. 

      Anything else happen? 

      Not really. The Councillors did sorta give us makeovers, and Bronte got covered in glitter.

      She’d hoped that sharing that last detail would make Fitz forget to ask about anything else—like the conversation she’d had about being unmatchable, because he’d hate it if he knew she told two Councillors before she told him—and she was right. 

      Can you share that memory? I have to see this. 

      Sure. 

      She pulled out the mental image of Bronte and transmitted it to Fitz. 

      It was an awesome image—Bronte had been shooting Oralie a glare, so he looked like he was ready to go all Inflictor rage, only his face was covered in shimmering specks of pink dust, which made his glare seem a lot less scary.

      Fitz laughed. THAT IS AMAZING. How did that happen?

      Bronte called Oralie’s readying room a pink monstrosity, and he was complaining about alll the pink, so Oralie got annoyed and flung a powder puff at him.

      I think Oralie just became my favorite Councillor. 

      Yeah, it was pretty epic. Anyway, I feel like I can trust you now. 

      It was good knowing how he stood on her biological parents, even though she hated some of it. What about you?
      Even though you hold things back…...yeah. There are some things you have to hold back, and I get that.

      Thank you. 

      “We’re done,” Sophie announced to Tiergan.

      “Good. I trust that you two trust each other more than you previously trusted each other and that your trust has increased?”

      “Did you just use ‘trust’ four times in one sentence?” Sophie had to point out. “And yes.”

      Tiergan laughed. “Good. Now, I want you to try probing my mind.”

      “What should we transmit?” Fitz asked.

      “Suprise me. It’ll be a better test of your abilities if I don’t know what you’ll be saying.”

      “I can enhance you,” Sophie offered. Fitz nodded, so she turned her enhancing on and reached for his hand.

      What should we transmit?

      Could we try DNA? Fitz asked. It would give us access to memories that are buried pretty deep, but it’s still safe because Mr. Forkle kept the identities of your parents to himself. 

      That’s a good idea, Sophie responded.

      Together, they stretched into Tiergan’s mind.

      DNA! DNA! DNA!

      They kept pushing, kept stretching, kept going…..

      Their mental energy secured on to a memory, like an octopus tentacle wrapping itself around a smaller fish.

      I think we found something, Fitz transmitted.

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    • This is great!!! I can't wait to see the memory they found!!!

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    • I think it might just be that Tiergeran is her father... 

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    • Thirteen

      The cave would have been dark, but its walls were sheer white, and with the light from moon jars and crystal stars reflecting around the room, it almost felt…..cozy. There were lab tables, microscopes, and a bunch of other science-y stuff Sophie couldn’t name. Mr. Forkle was there, of course. This had to be the High Seas hideout, the place where most of the work on her DNA was done. 

      Strangely, nobody else was there—besides Tiergan.

      “Did you get the DNA for her mother?” Tiergan asked. 

      “Yes. A powerful Empath. This should give us the genetic basis for Inflicting. She’ll be able to heal broken minds now.”

      “Amazing.”

      “Of course, we need the DNA of a powerful Telepath, too.”

      “Most Telepaths are members of the Nobility,” Tiergan pointed out. “They wouldn’t be likely to go against the Council, or risk this much.”

      “Kenric—”

      “Is a special case. It’s been very helpful having a Councillor on our side. But given the nature of the child’s mother’s DNA, we can’t use his. Also, while he is a powerful Telepath, I know someone who’s stronger.” 

      Tiergan looked confused, but Sophie understood. Using the DNA of one Councillor was already risky. Two was too extreme.

      “Are you talking about yourself?” Tiergan asked.

      “No. I’m talking about you.”

      Tiergan paled. “You want me to donate DNA?”

      “You don’t have any odd genetic circumstances. You’re already on our side. Please.”

      It was the final word that did it. 

      Tiergan nodded. “I’ll do it.”

      “That fast?”

      “Truthfully, I’ve been considering this for a few weeks.”

      Mr. Forkle took out the same silver gadget he’d used to take DNA from Oralie. “Thank you. Hold still.”

      He counted to twenty-three, then removed the gadget.

      “Thank you, Tiergan,” he said. “Truly.”

      The memory ended there.

      Tiergan was her biological father?
      She took a deep breath, trying to calm the rage and confusion and panic swirling around inside her.

      It made perfect sense, now that she thought about it.

      A powerful, blond Telepath, who always supported Sophie. 

      He had to remain anonymous because he was part of the Black Swan. 

      “You’re Sophie’s father?” Fitz gasped, his expression swirling with shock.

      Tiergan paled. “I said you could probe my mind—NOT glean secrets that need to stay buried! I thought you would choose something random!"

      “We didn’t think that would turn up!” Fitz cried. “We just thought we’d get some backstory on Project Moonlark that we mostly know already!”

      “It was a good thing to probe,” Sophie argued. “We know that we can do it now, even if a memory needs to stay hidden.”

      “I guess….” Tiergan muttered. 

      “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Sophie asked.

      It was just like last time.

      Shock. 

      Confusion.

      Anger.

      And then her feelings crystalized into a swirl of rage.

      “You could have told me when I joined the Black Swan! You knew me then! You could have told me when you revealed your identities! You waited this long! What about when I was kidnapped? Mr. Forkle left me and Dex stranded in a Forbidden City and we almost got captured again!”

      “That was his descision—not mine,” Tiergan defended. “Believe me, when I found out that he had left you there, I was almost as angry as Juline was."

      “True,” Sophie muttered.

      Dex’s mother was also Squall of the Collective, and Dex had been involved in almost as much Black Swan stuff as she had. If Squall had a reason to stay away, then Tiergan did too. 

      Still, she wasn’t done ranting. “You didn’t have to keep it secret for this long—it’s not going to mess anything up! You could have told me when I found out my biological mother!” 

      “You found out your biological mother?” Tiergan and Fitz asked together.

      Shoot. 

      She shouldn’t have let that slip.

      “Yes...but I can’t tell anyone. It has to stay secret.”

      Technically, she’d told Edaline…..but that was different.

      “And there lies the problem,” Tiergan pointed out. “What use would one parent be to you if you can’t have both? I don’t know who your biological mother is, but I do know that her identity has to be kept secret. If you knew I was your father, it would just complicate things even more. Mr. Forkle thought it was for the best that you not know either, as knowing one parent might make you more curious about the second, and I accepted his thoughts, given that he lived next door to you when you were living with humans.”

      “You still should have told me!" she shouted. "Was keeping a secret that wouldn't harm anyone really a good thing?"

      Tiergan stumbled back. "Sophie, it wasn't my descision. Mr. Forkle—" He took a deep breath. "I get that you're angry. You have a right to be angry. I'm sorry. I should have told you." 

      Memories started looping through her head. Tiergan had brought her to San Diego even thought it was illegal, and helped Keefe with his memories, and paired her and Fitz as Cognates......

      It was something—but it wasn't enough.

      It wasn't like Oralie, who had a good reason for keeping the secret. Tiergan could have told her. He should have told her.

      She shoved her anger down, tying it into an emotional knot. "I'm going to tell people that you're my biological father."

      "All right. Just don't let it distract you, or your friends. And please don't let this get back to the Council. I don't know what would happen if they knew, but I don't want to find out. By all means, though, tell Grady and Edaline."

      "They're better parents than you," Sophie told him, not caring that he had adopted Wylie after Wylie’s mother had died and his father had been exiled—and he even took care of Tam and Linh.

      That wasn't enough.

      It would never be enough.

      "I know they are."

      She wanted to leave the room—storm out in fury—leave and never come back. 

      "Um, how about you and Fitz do some more trust exercises?" Tiergan suggested.

      It was a weak move, but Sophie didn't care. Trust exercises would distract her from Tiergan, and she just wanted this to be over. 

      I’ll go first, since you did last time, Sophie offered.

      Sounds good, Fitz agreed.

      It was weird.

      She felt angry. Confused. Upset. And she probably wasn't going to speak to Tiergan for at least a week. 

      But also…….oddly relieved.

      All the secrets about the Black Swan that she felt she deserved—if she didn’t have all of them now, she had most of them. 

      She could really focus now, concentrate on what she needed to get done.

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    • Wow! Did not expect Tiergan to be her father! This is great!!

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    • This was great!

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    • wooh! I love it!

      -Lady Sassyfur

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    • Fourteen

      “How’d your illusions session go?” Sophie asked Keefe at the start of study hall.

      Keefe’s empathy session already took up the time blocked off for special ability training, so during the time everyone else had PE, he was working with a Flasher Mentor and a Shade Mentor to gain control over his ability.

      “Okay,” Keefe said. “Lady Zillah was her usual intense self. I think it’s killing her to have to work with a Flasher, but that’s what makes it fun! And as much as she hates it, when she works together with Lady Celeste, their illusions are super cool.”

      “So what sort of stuff do you do?”

      “I can just do cover-ups for small things now, and I can’t do anything with the light and shadows but send them various places. But I can make something disappear!”

      Ro, Keefe’s ogre bodyguard, came up behind them. “Small things. He tried it out on me last night.”

      “And I almost made you vanish!”

      Ro grinned. “Hey, Lord Hunkyhair—you still owe me one because you snuck away twice. So I’ve wrapped your punishment into one legendary epic.”

      Keefe groaned.

      “And she needs to come over after school today,” Ro continued, gesturing to Sophie.

      Before Sophie could ask what the heck was going on, Sir Osmond called, “This is study hall—meant for quiet studying. Please use this time as it was designed to be used.”

      His voice was the exact same as Wraith’s.

      That shouldn’t have been that much of a shock to Sophie, since she now knew Wraith’s identity, but it still left her feeling frazzled.

      After study hall was over, Sophie hailed her parents to tell them what was happening, then gathered up her books and followed Keefe and Ro outside. Keefe pulled out a leaping crystal, a clear one that would take him to the Shores of Solace.

      “Wait.” Sophie grabbed his arm.

      “What?” Keefe asked. 

      “Let’s teleport instead. Crashing onto your father’s pristine beach will drive him crazy.”

      Keefe grinned, but his smile shrank quickly. “Can you levitate high enough with all of your bodyguards?” He shot a glance at Sandor, Bo, and Flori.

      Sophie smiled. “I don’t need to. I discovered a new way to teleport. If I build momentum and run really fast, that works just fine.” 

      “So that was how you got me out of Loanmore!”

      “Yeah.” She’d glossed over that part when explaining earlier, since she didn’t think it was important.

      But from the way Keefe was blushing…..it seemed like it had been to him.

      Keefe cleared his throat. “Thanks a lot for doing that, Foster. Seriously. I guess it was my turn to almost die—or should I say ‘Foster it’?”

      Sophie half groaned, half laughed at the term Keefe had coined as a reference to how many risks she’d taken.

      “Can you teleport with all of us?” Sandor asked Sophie, jolting her back to reality.

      “I can try.” She reached out, grasping Sandor’s enourmous hand. Keefe took her other hand, and soon they had formed a giant chain.

      Sophie sprinted, faster and faster, and in less than ten seconds the sky split and they fell into the void.

      The Shores of Solace, Sophie thought, envisioning the prim beach and tidy cerulean waves. 

      They crashed onto the beach, spraying black sand in every direction. Ahead of them sprawled Keefe’s father’s beach house, decorated with pearls and seashells, with massive windows overlooking the ocean. Decorated in blues and grays, it was one of the prettiest places Sophie had ever been.

      Yet she hated it, because Lord Cassius had kept it private from his son—had treated his son with indifference for all those years. Keefe had only moved back in because Lord Cassius had held back information on Sophie’s human parents unless Keefe agreed to come back, and that was just to quench the rumors about his runaway son, not because he loved Keefe or missed him.

      Her biological parents were probably better than Keefe’s, and that was saying a lot. Sure, Oralie and Tiergan had kept secrets and lied, but at least she knew they were both on her side. 

      Oralie had given her a hug before. 

      She didn’t know if Lord Cassius had ever done that to Keefe. 

      “What was that noise?” Lord Cassius demanded, rushing out the patio door and glaring at the multispecial ensemble, his ice-blue eyes settling on his son. Of course his navy blue cape and cream-colored jerkin were immaculate, despite the swirling ocean winds.

      “We teleported,” Keefe explained. “Foster here had a new strategy she wanted to try.”

      “And I don’t suppose you’ll give me any reason for why all of you are here?”

      “Actually, yeah,” Keefe said. “Foster’s going to be helping me search my memories.”

      “I suppose that’s acceptable,” Lord Cassius said, his brow furrowed. “Keep in mind that if this is related to the Black Swan, I am also a member.”

      Keefe shrugged and raced to a door. Sophie followed him down the hall until they reached his room.

      It would have been pristine, with the glittering walls embedded with sea glass and smooth marble floor. But Keefe had randomly arranged the furniture—probably just to annoy his father—and the books and clothes strewn everywhere made the room look more like a hurricane disaster zone.

      “Have you recovered any missing memories?” Sophie asked him.

      Keefe shook his head. “Nah—and I’ve held off on the fathomlethes. I figure that whatever Mommy Dearest has planned for me with my new ability, it’s smart for me to know as little about her plans as possible. Then I won’t have the skills for her to make me do whatever she wants me to do. Also, with probing Luzia’s mind, that might give us more clues.”

      “If you want me to try and trigger anything, you can always hail me,” Sophie offered.

      “Thanks.”

      “Okay, as cute as it is to watch you argue with Miss Oblivious,” Ro told Keefe, “it’s time. You’ve got to do this. No excuses, no denials. You owe me one, and I told you I’d make it big. Don’t worry, there’s no pain, at least not physically.” 

      “Let’s just get this over with,” Keefe muttered.

      Ro gestued to Sophie. “I want you to tell her what you think of her.”

      Sophie’s mind spun.

      Keefe didn’t hate her, did he?

      She really hoped he didn’t…..that everything was okay…. 

      Keefe cleared his throat, blushing a deep shade of pink before muttering “I like you. Like, like like. Ugh, now I’m just saying like over and over again. The point is that I think you’re really awesome. And I—Iloveyou.”

      Now it wasn’t just Sophie’s mind that was spinning.

      It was her world.

      Upside down and inside out.

      Keefe Sencen liked her?
      She’d never felt that way about Keefe.

      Or…had she?

      Images flashed through her mind.

      Keefe flying with her on Silveny to get her abilities reset, and going with her on so many Black Swan excursions, and helping her deal with all the confusing notes and clues. 

      The window slumber parties in Alleturve so they wouldn’t have to be alone.

      Keefe holding her as Mr. Forkle died, keeping her together.

      Keefe taking on the title of Mercadir so he would face King Ditmar instead of her.

      Keefe helping her with skill training when she was stuck in the Healing Center.

      Keefe giving her a hug when she really needed one, when she was worried Bronte was her father.

      Rushing Keefe to the Healing Center, making sure he got out okay.

      Did she feel that way?

      He cared about her—and she cared about him.

      Maybe she did feel that way.

      In that moment, that was more than enough.

      “I….like you, too.”

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    • I. NEED. MORE. NOW!

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    • Awesome! I love it. Just one thing: she let Tiergan go aweful fast over that one. That's not very Sophie. And the fact that Tiergan let it go really fast, as well. And also, when Mr. Forkle said that he didn't have any wierd things going on with his genetics, I was thinking that though that might be true, Tiergan still has a bigger, wierder secret. One of the reasons I got so fixated on Tiergan was because he was so secretive. In the second book, he told Sophie,"I've known more loss than anyone." That's what really stuck to me. He's an elf, but furthermore he's Wylies father, and he would have to go through things a lot worse than Wylie did (and Wylie went through the worst of the worst,) in order to be able to say that.

      On a totally unrelated (but not really) topic, I was the one who wrote that huge essay/comment.

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    • Same person as above: Why do I feel like Tiergan would be the one with the photographic memory? And I also think he would tell her outright if he could. Also,  I think Tiergan would be a lot more careful about letting people probe his mind, especialy Sophie, if he is her father. But actually, this was a really good fanfic

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    • I LOVE THIS!!!

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    • YESSS

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    • To the Fandom user: Yeah, I agree, I was a little off with the Tiergan thing. I think he probably would be more careful, but I think he's Sophie's father and I didn't really know how else to make that work. I'm editing it now.

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    • When are you going to post more??? I NEED MORE!!!!!!!!

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    • Hi! Sorry that I'm a little late with this chapter. I'm feeling a little iffy about it, but hopefully you guys like it!




      Fifteen

      “Clearly, we all need snacks.” Ro smiled. “This is going to be gooooood.”

      Keefe ignored her. “Foster? You okay?”

      Sophie nodded, fighting the strange feeling in her chest. “I’m fine.”

      “Are you feeling weird here?” Keefe asked, tapping his heart. “I am, too. I think my dad actually had a point with his stupid book.”

      Lord Cassius had published a book on his theory that the heart and the head held different emotions.

      Could it be that she had only liked Fitz in her head, but Keefe in her heart?

      Maybe.

      “So…..what do we do now?” she asked.

      It came out in a whisper.

      Keefe smiled. “Up to you.”

      “Why don’t we just blurt out what we’re thinking?” Sophie suggested. “Three, two, one—”

      Keefe said “I’m not sure we should be dating right now” at the same time Sophie said “I love you but I don’t need more stuff going on.”

      They looked at each other, and smiled. 

      It felt good.

      Right.

      No stressing or worrying or arguing.

      None of them had even mentioned that she was ‘unmatchable’—and Sophie knew Keefe didn’t care about that at all, either.

      “It feels good having this out in the open,” Keefe continued, grinning so widely it looked like his face was going to explode. “After this whole mess is over—and the Councillors build a few statues in our honor because come on, we deserve it after what we’ve been through—I’m ready if you are.”

      Sophie smiled. “I’m ready, too.”

      Keefe turned back to Ro. “Thank you for punishing me!”

      Ro growled. “That was not how I expected this to go.”

      Keefe smirked. “Hey, Foster, want to hear some of The Ballad of Bo and Ro?”

      Sophie knew this would not earn her any points with her ogre bodyguard—but she also couldn’t wait to hear the epic poem Keefe had been composing. “Sure.”

      Both Bo and Ro snarled. 

      King Ditmar, Ro’s father and the ruler of the ogres, had arranged a betrothal between the two of them. Once the ruler of the ogres died or surrendered, any ogre who wanted the seat of power had to compete in a battle to the death to earn it. King Ditmar didn’t want his top warriors killing each other, so he had made them marry, in the hopes that one of them would fight and win, and the two of them could rule together.

      Currently, they seemed like an ultimate deathmatch would suit them just fine—or, at the very least, a divorce. 

      Keefe pulled out a sheet of paper. “The day they first touched lips, oh what a gorgeous kiss. Now when they’re separate, the other they will forever miss!”

      He continued. “Snuggling and snogging all over, and not fighting for the crown, Bo and Ro are the two cutest warriors ever in sparkle town!”

      Ro glared at him, looking like she would like nothing more than to hold a dagger to his throat. Bo’s stare was equally vicious. 

      Sophie couldn’t hold it in anymore. She collapsed on Keefe’s bed, lauging until her stomach started to hurt.

      Keefe smiled. “Knew that would help.”

      Sophie stood up with a jolt. “I have to go!”
      “Foster, what’s wrong?”

      “I promised Team Valliant that I’d meet them an hour after school today.”

      Keefe nodded. “See you tomorrow?”

      Sophie held her home crystal up to the light, and her bodyguards clustered around her. She wrapped her concentration around the group as she told him, “Of course.”

      ***

      Sophie made it home in time—none of her friends were there yet. She quickly changed out of her Foxfire uniform and into normal clothing.

      Both Edaline and Grady were waiting for her under the Panakes tree.

      “How’d it go?” Edaline asked, shooting her a sappy smile that was every teenager’s nightmare.

      “Fine,” Sophie said. “Keefe sang more of The Ballad of Bo and Ro. I’m pretty sure both of them are plotting to murder him in his sleep now.”

      She wasn’t ready to share the other stuff that had happened. Not yet. Not now.

      Grady narrowed his eyes like he suspected there was another thing going on. 

      “Hey, Sophie!” She turned around to see Biana rushing up to her.

      Perfect timing.

      “Hi!” Sophie called, rushing to greet her friend. 

      Biana held up a box. “I made ripplefluffs.”

      “Wow, thanks! What flavor?”

      Dex, Stina, and Wylie showed up a few minutes later. Once they were all munching on Biana’s chocolate-raspberry ripplefluffs, which were amazing, Grady said, “Let’s run some numbers. I've checked in with Queen Nubiti and she said that there are forty dwarves who defected overall. How many dwarves did they have at your attacks?”

      “About a dozen on Mount Everest,” Sophie said. “And…”

      She didn’t want to recall the events in Loanmore, but she needed to. "About two dozen in our part of Loanmore."

      Biana nodded. “There were eight in the marketplace."

      “So that makes thirty-two dwarves, and Lady Gisela surely pulled out all the stops for this,” Grady summarized. “What about the other eight?”

      Oh, no.

      NO.

      It was Wylie who said it first. “You think the Neverseen were experimenting on them, like what they did to Keefe?” He carefully avoided saying ‘stellarlune.’

      “That’s exactly what I’m thinking,” Grady nodded.

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    • I really should get myself an account or something.( My most resent comment started with "same person as above".) 

      Anyway, it's really good. I loved the Sokeefe parts. I showed this to my friend, she said you should give Tam or Dex a stuffed animal buddy, (I personally prefer a stuffed gremlin or tompel for Dex, drawing a blank for Tam).

      The Tiergan reveal looks really good. You're really good at getting their personalities down.

      And now I really want to know more about the dwarves, I didn't consider that they might be the same dwarves who deflected in the third book. And I just realised that if your multi-spiecial-experimentation theory is right, then Lady Gisella is an even bigger liar than I thought, because then she has definetly been experimenting on Keefe. But then why do the same thing on other spiecies?... unless Keefe's legacy isn't about Keefe... Having a wierd , impossible, realization moment. But if Keefe's Legacy isn't about Keefe, that's not possible, because then Lady Gisella wouldn't go that far and... And I'm really not sure where I'm going with this. Whatever.

      Anyway, this is really great.

      I think I'm going to call myself "Keefecouldreallyuseanicecrunchy..PICKLE"

      --Keefecouldreallyuseanicecrunchy...PICKLE.

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    • ^I agree completely, they did AMAZING. Why?

      You adjusted the reveal scene perfectly, though because you edited it the next scene is a bit rough, but no need to change that for something so small. Tiergan is such a good candidate for her father, I can't believe I hadn't thought of that. His reaction was very similar to Oralie's, but not too much, so you nailed that in the coffin. Classic Sophie who is contradicting and conflicted like always! And Fitz is on the side doing... pretty much nothing, just as usual. 

      I'm really glad that you aren't making it a ship fanfic. Plenty of people like that stuff, but you're writing has been so true to the books and sometimes even better than them, so I applaud you for not centering this around ships. This fanfic reads like a real KotLC book, so don't change that please. If you did there would be a wiki war between the shippers. I also like how well balanced it is, not too short, not to long and characters each have their own time with Sophie which is smart of you.

      I like the pace, and the way you write: paragraphs well-spaced, good grammar and spelling, etc. You have a decent amount of sentence variation while not feeling excessive and forced.

      Humor: ✔️ 

      Emotion: ✔️

      Show don't tell: ✔️

      Remember to check through your work for words you've repeated (ctrl+f to find and have a word count on how many times you've used the word, if you think you've over used it.) Whenever I write I try to mix up words as much as possible, for the most interesting outcome. Of course I'm not saying that you have many instances where this would matter, your writing is full of different words; it's just good to keep in mind. Though maybe I'm just reading too much into it, I sometimes just write a word I've used recently down and forget to look up or think of a synonym for it.

      And we haven't even gotten into the plot. *inhales*

      The plot is the best plot of a fanfiction I think I've read on the wiki. There are lots of amazing ones out there, don't get me wrong, but yours are fantastic. Not only are they surprising and interesting, they're believable--they make a lot of sense. When I read it, it doesn't register as a fanfic in my brain, I feel as if it's the real deal (that rhyme was unintentional). Honestly, I think a lot the story will happen in Book 9. This is random but I think Shannon's will probably be slower, and a more dramatic because that's just how she does it. Back to your writing.

      Your plot ties back to a lot of legacy and flashback--you did a wonderful job on that. Your Stellarune recipe makes a lot of sense. It relates back to Legacy and the whole Prime Sources excursion where it was hinted at quite a lot. Illusionist,  why does that make so much sense? Well for me at least, in Flashback a shade and a flasher used their powers to make the illusion that there was a bridge there.

      Wow that got long quickly. Sorry for this thorough analysis, I usually write without thinking too much about and I assume other writers do as well, so I apologize for you being analyzed on something that may or may not be intended. If anyone actually read this crazy long review, kudos to you! And as always can't wait for more. Keep up the good work!

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • This is AWESOME! I really want to see what the Neverseen are doing wit the dwarves!

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    • this is one of the best fanfics of book 9 ive seeen

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    • THANK YOU for all the reviews. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)



      Sixteen

      “It would make sense,” Stina mumbled. “Have this weird sedative power enhancing thing where nobody knows what it can do, and then threaten to use it if the dwarves don’t cooperate.”

      Biana nodded. “Yeah, and when used on trolls, they became more vicious. Keefe manifested a creepy new ability, and the only reason it wasn’t worse was probably because Elwin and Tam got most of it out of his system. So what if…..whatever the Neverseen did to Keefe…….made dwarves more likely to turn evil?”

      “So the dwarves either cooperated of their own free will, or they were being controlled by s—the Keefe thing?” Sophie couldn’t believe this.  “And the Neverseen were threatening them?”

      “What about the gnomes, ogres, and goblins?” Dex asked. “Were the Neverseen experimenting on them, too?”

      “They already tried to take down the gnomes with the plauge, and they’re too foolish to target the goblins until they’re ready to take down the Council, too,” Grady pointed out. “As for the ogres…..with the drakostomes and the shaky relationship between the ogres and the Council, it’s safe to assume they were acting of their own free will. The ogres are powerful and violent enough without a special, hard-to-create substance to make them more powerful and violent.”

      “So, you just gave us another reason why we need to get the info from Luzia as soon as possible,” Sophie summarized. She didn’t mention Oralie’s cache. Stina didn’t know, and she wasn’t sure it was wise to tell her. 

      “Pretty much.”

      Sophie informed her teammates about the upcoming probing, and the meeting devolved from there. 

      SOPHIE! FRIEND! FLY! WYNN! LUNA! GREYFELL!

      Sophie rubbed her temples. Havenfield served as an animal reserve, where Grady and Edaline, along with a fleet of gnomes, transferred animals to a vegetarian diet so they could be moved to the Sanctuary—a place for animals to live that had been hollowed out of Mount Everest. 

      Sophie had shared a telepathic bond with Silveny, an alicorn, ever since they first met. It was pretty awesome being able to communicate with her—although Silveny was very loud, which could be a little annoying.

      I’m coming, she transmitted. 

      She wove around various animal pastures until she reached the place she was looking for. There was Silveny, tall and majestic, a cross between a unicorn and a pegasus with her silvery horn and long white wings. 

      Greyfell, her mate, was beside her, looking just as regal as Silveny with his shimmering silver fur and blue-tipped wings. And next to them were two tiny twin baby alicorns: Luna, who shimmered like she had been dipped in moonlight, and Wynn, who had blue-tipped wings just like his daddy.

      Wynn and Luna weren’t just adorable. They were essential. The elves believed that every creature was vital to the planet. When Sophie had found Silveny, that had reset the Timeline to Extinction, and Wynn and Luna had doubled the planet’s alicorn population. It was essential to keep them safe, which was why Sophie was glad to see that the twins were with their parents, not sneaking into the gorgodon’s cage.

      FLY! FLY! FLY! Silveny transmitted.

      I’m okay.

      SOPHIE STRESSED?
      A little.

      FLY FREE!

      Not right now—I’m busy.

      Only…..she wasn’t. Not really. 

      Yes. Fly free.

      She quickly explained to her parents, and then took off on Silveny.

      They flew until the sky was dimming, twirling and dipping and spinning, and Sophie started to feel a lot better. 

      It felt good to take a break, to take her mind off things.

      “There you are!” Grady called from the ground. The sun was sinking into the ocean, painting the sky orange and pink and gold. Sophie was suprised—how could the time have gone by so quickly?

      “Is something wrong?” Sophie asked.

      “Not wrong,” Grady corrected. “Councillor Bronte just arrived.”

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    • I love this so much

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    • I love this!!!!!!!!!

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    • oof

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    • If Councillor Bronte is there, then something, must be wrong.

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    • Seventeen

      “Why’s Councillor Bronte here?” Sophie asked as she followed Grady back to the house.

      “I’m not sure, but Fitz and Alden showed up shortly after he did.” Grady pulled open the front door. “He’s waiting in the living room.”

      If Bronte was here, it couldn’t be good…..

      She stepped into the living room, tugging on a loose eyelash. 

      “There’s no reason to worry,” Alden assured her. “It’s just news about the probing.”

      Thank goodness.

      Bronte nodded. “The probing is taking place on Friday evening. Sophie and Fitz will go into Luzia’s mind, transmitting to knock loose any memories about stellarlune. Alden will be monitoring the situation telepathically and transmitting updates to the Council. Terik will be descrying Luzia for any potential of danger, and Oralie will be reading Sophie and Fitz’s emotions, to ensure that they aren’t being overwhelmed or harmed.”

      “If harm is an actual fear or threat,” Grady began, but Alden cut him off.

      “I’m sure there’s no reason to worry. It’s simply a safety precaution. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious.”

      Bronte nodded. “Luzia’s ability isn’t paticulary dangerous. And if she cooperates, her final sentence won’t be awful, unless we find something to incriminate her. Cooperation is in her best interest, and ours.”
      Mollified, Grady sank back down into his armchair.

      “Where will this take place?” Edaline asked.
      “In the building next to Tribunal Hall—where the Councillors have their meetings.”

      “Will I be able to guard her for a change?” Sandor asked, looking grumpy. Sophie understood why—the last time they had done something like this, it was a meeting with Gethen, where the Lumenaria guards had taken over due to the upcoming Peace Summit. The time before that, at Fintain’s healing, the Council hadn’t wanted any additional body heat in the room, so there hadn’t been any guards. Not that it mattered when Fintain sparked the Everblaze.

      “Bodyguards are allowed this time,” Bronte confirmed “There’s really nothing to worry about. It’s a relatively simple procedure, and we’re not even sure if Luzia is a criminal or not. Sophie and Fitz both have access to Councillor Oralie’s Imparter, and she said to tell them to hail her with any additional questions. They’re also free to contact me, of course.”

      ***

      Three days later, Sophie fiddled with her cape pin. She had decided to wear her Regent articles, but she couldn’t help feeling like a six-year-old playing dress-up, especially with the sparkling silver circlet that had tangled itself in her hair the instant she put it on.

      She and Grady were the only two people in the Council’s meeting room so far. The room had paneled wooden-and-crystal walls and large floor-to-ceiling windows, reminding Sophie—oddly enough—of the Vacker’s reception hall. 

      That made her think of Winnowing Galas, and being unmatchable, and not getting to go to anyone’s Winnowing Galas or host one of her own because of a certain DNA donor. 

      Then again, matchmaking was pretty screwed up. 

      Grady smiled at her. “It’s going to be fine, Sophie. You’ve got this.” 

      A moment later, Alden and Fitz appeared in immaculate capes and jerkins. Luzia was with them, wearing a jewel-encrusted gown and an especially sparkly bracelet. Sophie was glad she’d decided to dress fancily.

      One look at Luzia’s expression told Sophie that the dark-haired Flasher did not want to be there.

      The Council glittered into the room (did they practice light leaping in sync?) and as Emery went over the procedings, Sophie couldn’t stop herself from feeling nervous.

      The last time they had done something like this—Sophie and Fitz doing Telepath tricks at the Council’s request—Councillor Kenric had died.

      This is different, Sophie reminded herself.

      Luzia was a Flasher. She was harmless.

      She had helped save the alicorn babies.

      Even if she had a dark secret about stellarlune, she couldn’t be that bad, right?

      Right?

      “Any concerns?” Emery asked.

      Nobody spoke.

      “All right. Let’s begin.”

      As everyone moved into position around Luzia, Sophie turned on her enhancing. Fitz reached for her hand.

      You ready? she transmitted.

      Yeah. Let’s do this.

      Sophie placed one of her hands against Luzia’s left temple, and Fitz did the same thinh on her right. They pooled their mental energy together and dove into Luzia’s mind. 

      Memories floated and hovered and spun. And yet it seemed….too exact. Too careful. Too calculated. 

      Too much like Luzia was trying to trick them.

      STELLARLUNE! Sophie and Fitz blared in unison. STELLARLUNE! STELLARLUNE!

      They ran, deeper and deeper and deeper, crashing through veils and levels and concealments. Diving, deeper, deeper, deeper……..

      STELLARLUNE!

      A memory shone, brighter than any other.

      STELLARLUNE!

      They raced to it, faster and faster.

      STELLARLUNE!

      Sophie tightened her grip on Fitz’s hand as they fell into the memory.

      This was it.

      This was what they had been waiting for.

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    • Nice!

      -Lady Sassyfur

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    • I love this!!!!!!! I need more!!

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    • ^same

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    • Eighteen

      “It’s good to see you again,” Empress Pernille began as she walked towards Luzia.

      Empress Pernille looked different than she had when Sophie had seen her last, maybe a Stage Five troll. Trolls aged in reverse, going through seven distinct stages in their lives. 

        “Glad you could make it, Empress,” Luzia replied. “How are the stellarlune experiments going?”

      “They’ll be ready for the activation soon enough. NOT the removal. We can’t make the same mistake twice. Remember, stellarlune is…..” Empress Pernille went into an extensive description of stellarlune, and Sophie sighed with relief. They wouldn’t have to share Oralie’s secret now—all the information was in the memory.

      “I know what stellarlune is,” Luzia reminded the Empress once she had finished speaking. “The Shade I am working with is extremely reliable. You’ll be pleased.”
      “I hope I will be.” 

      “I also have a report on stellarlune on the dwarves. It’s made them more likely to turn to our side.”

      Sophie felt like she was being crushed, she couldn’t think, could hardly breathe.

      OUR side?

      Maybe that just mean the alliance between the two of them—but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something more sinister was at play.

      “Wonderful. What about humans?”

      “Vespera is still locked in Exile, and our effort to break her out is still in progress. I have read some of her research. It’s fascinating. But we should focus on the trolls now. We know stellarlune enhances dwarves and humans and makes them turn violent. Imagine the effect it could have on a newborn troll.”
      “Imagine,” Empress Pernille breathed.

      WHAT?

      Luzia Vacker was a Neverseen member?
      Empress Pernille was working with the Neverseen?
      The memory stopped there–but it felt short, cut off, like Luzia had stopped it on purpose.

      Luzia’s fingernails dug into Sophie’s wrist, yanking Sophie out of her mind.

      “You can’t make me show you any more!”

      She raised her hand, and that’s when Sophie realized—the yellow gem on her bracelet wasn’t a gem.

      It was a leaping crystal.

      One that lead to the Neutral Territories.

      Luzia sparked a ball of of light that surrounded the crystal, smiling as she prepared to leap.

      As Fitz lunged for Luzia—as Alden tried to shove her away from the light—as Oralie was closing in as well—as Terik shouted “NO!”, his prosthetic leg stopping him from doing any more—all Sophie could do was watch as the Neverseen member glittered away.

      ***

      “Let’s go over this one more time,” Mr. Forkle said, rubbing his temples.

      Despite being enormous, Havenfield’s living room was slightly cramped. Sophie, Fitz, and Alden were there, in addition to Grady, Edaline, and Della. All twelve Councillors were present, along with all of Team Valliant, Keefe, Marella, Linh, Tam, Maruca, and assorted bodyguards. The Collective was there as well, and Sophie noticed with a jolt that everyone, including Wraith and Blur, had dispensed with the disguises. 

      It was weird seeing Wraith in person—and even weirder seeing Blur’s smudged features take shape and form a face that was familliar and yet unfamilliar.

      “Luzia Vacker is a Neverseen member, and has been since Empress Pernille was a Stage Five, which was about thirty years ago. Empress Pernille has been helping the Neverseen, so we need to hold a Tribunal for that. Luzia has light leaped away to a unknown place in the Neutral Territories, and may be trying to find the Neverseen,” Mr. Forkle summarized. “Am I missing anything?”

      Councillor Emery shook his head. “I think that covers all of it.”

      Sophie was still feeling dazed. Empress Pernille had tried to form an alliance with her. Did that mean that she thought Sophie was going to turn evil?

      Then she remembered that the alliance had been to save the baby alicorns, which the Neverseen had no problem attacking now that they were living at Havenfield. Maybe the alliance had just been a ruse to keep the babies alive so they needed to be moved to Havenfield, so the Neverseen could attack them more easily and have a new way to threaten the Black Swan.

      It made perfect sense, yet Sophie hated every bit of it.  

      “Great, how many Neverseen members are there?” Keefe asked. “It’s like everyone we know is betraying us!”

      Tam shook his head. “There weren’t all that many when I was with them.”

      “Wait!” Sophie sat upright with a jolt. “Didn’t Lady Gisela say she tried to hatch ten gorogodons, one for each Neverseen member? So if there are ten of them—”

      “We might finally know them all, and have a real lead for once!” Dex’s eyes lit up. He grabbed a pencil and paper. He started scribbling, and finally came up with a list.

      Gethen

      Vespera

      Gisela

      Ruy 

      Luzia

      Trix

      Some Technopath

      Fintain

      Alvar - dying/not really a threat anymore

      Brant - dead

      Umber - dead

      Glimmer - motives still unclear 

      As the adults were talking and deliberating and arguing, the rest of Sophie’s friends gathered around their group. Stina suggested adding what they knew about each member—motives, looks, special abilities, anything—and the list grew longer and longer.

      Gethen - Telepath, recruited for his washing skills, blond 

      Vespera - Empath, experimented on humans, not on good terms with Gisela, dark hair, pale skin

      Gisela - Polyglot, Keefe’s mother, not on good terms with Vespera, blond

      Ruy - Psionopath, ability may be damaged at the moment, wears an addler

      Luzia Vacker - Flasher, troll hive stuff, ‘Vacker Legacy’, dark hair/skin, ambiguous

      Trix - Guster, works with Gisela sometimes

      Some Technopath - code name is Screen, wears an addler

      Fintain - captured

      Alvar Vacker - dying/not really a threat anymore

      Brant - dead

      Umber - dead

      Glimmer - motives still unclear, Flasher, dark hair 



      “Is Glimmer here?” Sophie asked Linh. “Maybe she could help us come up with more details.

      Linh shook her head. “I haven’t seen her since earlier this afternoon.”

      They stared at the list, trying to come up with more details.

      After the years of searching and training and fighting—was this all they really had to go on?

      Biana looked at the list and gasped. “Do you guys see this?”

      “The list? All we know is that we have next to zero info,” Keefe muttered. “And we just lost a Neverseen member, AGAIN.”

      “No.” Biana’s eyes grew wider, giant teal orbs set into her shocked face. “There are twelve Neverseen members. Eleven when Vespera wasn’t around. But only ten were mentioned by Lady Gisela. And two of the names on our list have the same appearence, the same special ability, and they’re both morally ambiguous.”

      Sophie felt like her heart had stopped, she couldn’t breathe, she was drowning in missed opportunities and chances.

      No.

      NO.

      But…..it fit. 

      “You think Luzia Vacker is Glimmer.”

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    • Wow, did not see that coming! But thats good! That means Luzia's kind of a creep for trying to get to know Tam and be his "friend" - - not that there is anything wrong with a child being friends with an adult, it just feels weird.

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • ^I know, did not see that coming. I love this fanfic!!!! When are you going to post more???

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    • Nineteen

      “Glimmer didn’t sound like Luzia,” Tam argued.

      “Yeah, but Glimmer can mimic.” Linh countered. “Gethen probed your mind, didn’t he? You know my voice really well. So Glimmer was probably able to pick up on my voice and sound similar—to get you to trust her even more, because the Neverseen needed you for the stellarlune thing, if they were plotting a stellarlune thing and haven’t already done it. She left super abruptly this afternoon, remember? She could have gone back to Luzia’s home, transformed into Luzia, and been there when Alden and Fitz came by for the probing. Glimmer and Luzia were both working with stellarlune, too.”

      Sophie nodded, another piece of evidence surfacing. “Didn’t Luzia work with Vespera on illusions at some point? Vespera could have recruited her then.”

      “What are you kids up to?” Mr. Forkle shouted.

      Sophie looked at her friends, none of them wanting to break the news. Marella was the one who said it.

      “We think that Glimmer and Luzia Vacker are the same person.”

      There was gasping and shrieking and shouting, everyone trying to make their voice be heard. Then a loud, high-pitched whistle infected Sophie’s ears, screeching and humming until everyone was silent.

      “Sorry about that,” Councillor Noland apologized. As a Voiceforator, he could scream loudly in various tones and manipulate his voice. “It was the easiest way to call for order.” 

      “Explain,” Councillor Bronte demanded.

      Sophie and her friends did their best, showing them the list of information and pointing out all the similarities. Finally, Mr. Forkle said what they were all thinking.“Someone needs to go back and check to see if Glimmer is missing.” 

      “And I am not up for yet another debate on who gets to take the risk,” he continued. “Sir Tiergan, Mr. Wylie, Mr. Tam, and Miss Linh will go.” 

      “Just Tiergan,” Tiergan corrected, true to form.

      Mr. Forkle pushed on before anyone else could stop him. “Glimmer was staying at their house, Mr. Tam’s ability is handy for disguising, Miss Linh is a powerful Hydrokinetic, should any dangers arise, and Mr. Wylie’s ability as a Flasher will be useful for the same reason. They will be gone for ten minutes—or less. Tiergan will transmit to me if any danger arises.”

      With a lot of grumbling, the deal was made. 

      Those ten minutes were the longest ten minutes in Sophie’s life. She paced the living room anxiously, tried to add more information to their list, and finally collapsed in an armchair, waiting for them to leap back. The Councillors were debating telepathically, leaving everyone else with nothing to do but worry.

      Finally, just as the final grains of sand were falling through Mr. Forkle’s hourglass, the group arrived.

      “It’s true,” Tiergan muttered. “Glimmer is gone. It seems likely that she is Luzia.”

      Councillor Emery took a deep breath. “We’ve reached a concensus. Alina, Bronte, Clarette, and Zarina are going to Marintylla right now to apprehend Empress Pernille. The rest of us will remain here, to try and sort out this mess.”

      “You should bring some kind of protection,” Mr. Forkle warned.

      Emery shook his head. “Goblins and ogres aren’t allowed in Marintylla.”

      “Then bring us,” Sophie urged.

      Bronte looked at Sophie. “Your intentions are admirable, Miss Foster. But between all of our special abilities, we should be able to handle this ourselves. Also, we’ll be less conspicious this way.”

      “There’s no time for debate. We need to move quickly,” Mr. Forkle cut in. “Good luck.”

      The four Councillors stepped into the beam of an orange leaping crystal and glittered away before anyone could respond.

      Sophie was dazed. Were these people—the ones taking a spontaneous risk after less than half an hour of discussion—really the same ones that took forever to make descisions and often seemed to hate her? 

      It was a good change. Really good.

      Finally, everyone was taking a stand.

      “Does anyone have any idea where Glimmer might be?” Councillor Emery asked. “Besides the Neutral Territories?”

      “Could we check her registry feed?” Councillor Darek wondered. “Wait—if she’s Luzia Vacker, how does she handle having two identities?”

      All eyes turned to Mr. Forkle. 

      “She probably is swapping her pendants on and off, leaving the not-in-use pendant in an unsuspicious place. Her Glimmer pendant is probably still at Tiergan’s home, while her Luzia pendant might still be on her. We should check her registry feed—was she wearing it today?”
      “She wasn’t,” Oralie answered, and then she muttered something like, “I can’t believe I missed that.” 

      Sophie closed her eyes, looking back on the memory. “Yeah, she wasn’t. Great, we have nothing to go on.”

      “What do you mean?” Councillor Terik turned to her. “The discovery of stellarlune is huge!”

      There was an awkward silence where everyone in the Black Swan tried very hard not to look at each other. 

      “Good point!” Keefe enthused. His tone would have taken her by suprise otherwise, but Sophie knew he was trying to cover for her. 

      “We have another lead, too,” Linh said. 

      Everyone turned to look at her.

      “When Glimmer came to live with us, I didn’t trust her. I was so mad that I stuck a tiny tracking device into her leg. And it turns out that was a good thing, because now she thinks she can head back to the Neverseen, or at least away from us—but I know exactly where to find her.”

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    • OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!! I beg you, please write the next chapter as soon as you can!

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    • This is really good. I can tell you have a strong writing style and ability, with good descriptions and reactions from Sophie. I would focus on the pacing, as the story is continuing really fast (though there’s nothing wrong with that). But overall, I’m really enjoying this, so keep going!

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    • I love this!!!!

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    • Hi guys!
      I'm going to be busy with school starting and extracurriculars and stuff, so I might not be able to post daily. I'm going to keep going with this, and I'm having a lot of fun writing it. 

      Here's Chapter 20. Hope you enjoy!




      Twenty

      Linh?

      Her super-sweet friend had placed a tracking device on someone without their permission?

      Linh had been furious when Glimmer had moved in, but still…...

      “You did what?” Tam shouted.

      “It turned out well in the end,” Linh called defensively.

      Tiergan sighed. “Linh, keep in mind that planting a secret tracking device on someone is not ethical. Or legal. We will be having a very serious talk about this when we have the time. However, Luzia has betrayed us, so it did have its merits.”

      “The Council tracks us with registry pendants—no offense.” Linh glanced at the eight imposing figures across the room. 

      Sophie winced.

      The Councillors were there, too—what would they have to say about this?

      “Where did you even get a tracking device?” Tam asked, glaring at his twin.

      “I reached out to Tinker—the Black Swan’s Technopath. She also didn’t really trust Glimmer, so she made it for me.”

      Sophie shot a glance across the room. The Councillors seemed to be debating telepathically, judging from their strained expressions and Emery’s I’m going to need some strong headache medicine after this face. “We aren’t going to press charges,” Emery told the group after a moment. “Even without the other four here, it’s unanimous.”

      There was a general sigh of relief. 

      “However, we do ask that you help us track down Luzia, and Miss Song, keep in mind that in the future, the Councillors will be doing the tracking, not you.”

      “I think we’re all in agreement on that one,” Mr. Forkle said. 

      Emery turned to Linh. “Putting the ethics of your doings aside, do you have access to the tracking reciever?”

      Linh nodded, pulling a silver square from a pocket in her tunic. She showed Emery and Dex how to navigate it. 

      “She’s in the Liamber Valley,” Dex declared after a few moments.

      “We should try and track her down now, before she can return to the Neverseen,” Fitz called.

      “We need to apprehend her as soon as possible,” Mr. Forkle agreed. “A small group, that’s good with disguises.”

      And, miraculously, it didn’t take too much time to figure out who was going.

      Biana and Sophie, so they could vanish up to five people total due to the new strength of Sophie’s enhancing.

      Keefe, because his new illusionist ability would come in handy in case Luzia had anything wacky waiting for them.

      Linh, because it was her tracking device, and the Liamber valley was full of streams and rivers. If they had to fight, her Hydrokinetic skills would be useful. 

      And Grady, because all the adults had wanted the teenagers to have at least one adult with them.

      With that, Councillor Liora conjured a leaping crystal, and the five of them headed to the Liamber Valley, to track down the elf they thought was their friend—but wasn’t anymore.

      The valley was huge and deep, dark green and glimmering with various streams. It looked gorgeous—way too pretty to be hiding a criminal. 

      “Wow,” Biana breathed.

      Linh took a deep breath. “The water…”

      “Let’s get down to business,” Grady whispered, from where he was standing between Linh and Biana. Keefe tightened his grip on Sophie’s hand, as he would cause the least chaos by being enhanced because Grady’s and Linh’s abilities were both just as powerful as they were unstable.

      A pale blue breeze rushed through Sophie’s mind. 

      “I can feel your panic, Foster,” Keefe reminded her. “It’s okay. We’ve got this.”

      “Straight ahead,” Linh told the group. Although Sophie couldn’t see her friend, she knew that Linh was holding the tracking reciever in her free hand.

      They hiked through the dense trees, trying not to make too much noise. Sophie was now regretting her fancy Regent clothing. At least she’d worn sensible boots. Her purple gown wasn’t that frilly, and the long sleeves were definitely a plus. But the stupid cape kept catching on everything—bushes, trees, twigs. It did keep out the cold, though.

      The sky was dimming, the sun sinking lower and lower, and Sophie spotted a star in the clear blue expanse. 

      It was hard to think that just over an hour ago, she’d been probing Luzia’s mind, and now she was wandering around in a forest.

      “We need to go across,” Linh directed, and Sophie turned her attention back to her friends. Linh was staring at a stream, which was rushing and roaring and foaming, like an angry lion crafted from water. Too deep to wade, too wide to jump.

      “How?” Grady wondered. “Could you part the water and create a path?”

      Linh shook her head. “I don’t know. The water feels different here.” She stretched out a hand, trying to part the water, but it didn’t even rippple.

      “Maybe if I enhance you….” Sophie began.

      “Or what if the water isn’t water at all?” Keefe asked.

      Sophie couldn’t see him, but a moment later, the area to her left lit up and dimmed simeltaneously, as if Keefe was sucking away all the shadows and light. The water dimmed and darkened….then disappeared altogether. 

      The ground smoothed out, revealing a large circular stone with an eye symbol cut into it.

      The symbol of the Neverseen.

      And there was a tiny silver plate set in the center of the eye.

      A sensor? A lock?

      “We should investigate,” Keefe suggested.

      “Absolutely not.” Grady declared. “Who knows what will be inside a Neverseen hideout?”

      “Can’t we be spontaneous, like we were when going to London?” Sophie countered.

      Grady sighed, rubbing his temples. He spoke in a bare whisper. “They might have mechanisms to detect intruders. Keefe, replace the illusions. Sophie, transmit an update to Fitz, and tell him to tell the Collective and the Council. After Keefe has replaced the illusions, we’re going to walk away from here, find a safe place, and wait to see what the other adults have to say.”

      Everyone reluctantly agreed.

      Keefe shot more shadows and light, replacing the stream.

      “How do you do that?” Sophie marvelled.

      “It’s instinctive, sorta.” Keefe shot another bolt of shadows at the base of the tree. “Thanks to Mommy Dearest.”

      Sophie sucked in a sharp breath.

      His mother might be down there.

      “Keefe—” 

      “It’s fine. Let me replace the illusion, and then we’ll get out of here.”

      It only took him eighty-six more seconds before the stream was back to the way it was. 

      “Let’s go,” Sophie whispered.

      Nobody argued. As they walked, Sophie reached out with her mind.

      Fitz! FITZ!

      Sophie! Is something wrong?

      We’re all okay. We found a Neverseen hideout—at least, we think we did. We’re not sure what to do about it. Can you tell Mr. Forkle and the Councillors?

      Yeah, sure. Give me a second.

      A minute later, he transmitted back, I told them.

      They want us to step back and wait, right?

      Yeah. You’re supposed to come back here as soon as possible and we’ll figure out a plan. 

      Okay, I guess. I’ll tell everyone and we’ll be back at Havenfield soon.

      Awesome. Stay safe.

      You, too.

      Sophie passed along the message, and they light leaped back in the last glimmers of the fading sunlight. 

      When they reached Havenfield, Sophie realized that they weren’t the only ones who had made it back.

      Councillors Bronte, Clarette, Zarina, and Alina were all there.

      Along with an infuriated Empress Pernille.

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    • Amazing, as always! 

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • THIS IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!

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    • THis is the only thing keeping me sane while we wait for book 9

      so good!

      -that weird bookworm 

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    • Thanks for all the reviews! Here's the next chapter.


      Twenty-One

      Another reveal, another betrayal, even more chaos, Sophie thought to herself as she tossed and turned late that night.

      The Councillors were busy invesitgating Empress Pernille’s involvement with the Neverseen. Oralie had promised the Black Swan a full update later, but that didn’t stop Sophe from wondering what was going on.

      The Black Swan was creating a plan about what to do with the Neverseen’s hideout. Mr. Forkle had agreed to eventually gather everyone for a meeting, but that just made Sophie worry even more.

      She snuggled deep down into her blankets, pulling the covers up against the cold. She was outside by the Panakes again, hoping that the sweet-smelling blossoms and whispers of Calla’s songs would help her sleep.

      It wasn’t.

      Sophie had so many memories from here.

      Watching Calla choose to sacrifice herself.

      That moment with Fitz that she hadn’t understood for so long. 

      Having her abilities reset. 

      Are you sure you can trust me? 

      “Are you feeling okay?” Edaline asked, coming up beside Sophie. She handed her Ella, her stuffed animal—a blue elephant wearing a Hawaiian shirt. “It’s okay to let the adults take charge for a change, you know. In fact, some people even say that they’re better at this kind of thing than teenagers. Isn’t that odd?”

      Sophie laughed against her will. “I guess. I’m just nervous, and shocked, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t quite describe.”

      Edaline smiled. “Being an Empath would come in handy right about now.”

      That reminded Sophie of the Empath who was her biological mother, which reminded her….

      “Tiergan’s my biological father. And he didn’t have any reason not to tell me!” The words came out in a panicked rush. She explained about the probing. “He’s been nice to me….but nice isn’t enough. He’s a parent to Wylie and Tam and Linh—why not me? And it wasn’t illegal like it was with Oralie!”

      “Tiergan actually applied to adopt you,” Edaline told Sophie, sitting down next to her. “The Council just denied his request in favor of us.”

      “Really? You’re not making this up?” 

      “Absolutely positive. I agree with you—he should have been upfront about this with you from the start.”

      “I’m really glad you guys adopted me and not him,” Sophie told Edaline.

      “Me too.” She wrapped her arms around Sophie. “It’s going to be okay.”

      Sophie sank into the hug.

      Letting it wrap around her.

      Making her feel protected, safe, loved.

      Sure, her genetic parents could be better. 

      But her human parents had been amazing, and her adoptive parents were as well. 

      She was done with her biological parents. Over and done with.

      She knew who they were—and didn’t care at all.

      ***

      The next few days were a combination of busy and bland.

      Empress Pernille had been removed from power, and was being watched by dwarves Queen Nubiti had recommended. The trolls were electing a new leader. More dwarves were watching the Neverseen’s hideout, as Mr. Forkle had insisted that they try to detect how many people were there before forming a plan.

      With each passing day, Sophie became more and more frustrated.

      They had a team of powerful people on their side.

      The Councillors were on their side.

      And they still couldn’t take down a tiny group of rebels.

      It was a Friday afternoon, and Sophie was heading to study hall when Magnate Leto approached her. 

      “The dwarves have determined that there are only two or three people in the Neverseen’s hideout,” he whispered. “We’re launching an investigation tonight.”

      “Who gets to go?” Sophie asked.

      “We’ll figure that out tonight. I’ll hail you later with the details of where and when we’re meeting.”

      ***

      “I can control my pyrokenisis!” Marella shouted. “I’ve been taking lessons!”

      “No matter how much control you have over your ability, fire in an enclosed, underground environment is not a wise idea, Miss Redek.”

      Marella sighed. “Okay, so…..what if I go with Linh? We don’t go inside the hideout, because our abilities are too unpredictable. But we can wait outside, and if they run into unexpected trouble, Sophie can just transmit to me, and they can try and direct the fight outside, so we can take them down.”

      “That…..isn’t a bad plan,” Mr. Forkle admitted. “It actually means we can make our intruder group a little smaller.”

      Of course, that lead to another round of clamoring and discussion on who got to go and who would lie in wait outside.

      The Black Swan had insisted that the Council not be a part of this, and the Councillors had agreed to stay away and focus on the trolls instead. But that still meant that the Collective, Sophie’s friends, and an assortment of parents and bodyguards were all debating on who got to go. 

      Tiergan wasn’t there—he was with Prentice, Wylie’s father, as the two of them were getting close to a breakthrough. That was all Mr. Forkle had told them, and it had made Sophie’s stomach do a backflip. Prentice had called ‘swan song’ before being arrested, but nobody knew what the dangerous information was about. Being close to a breakthrough sounded like a good thing, but what if it just left them with more questions than answers again?

      “If we’re going with a small intruder group, if Sophie’s willing to enhance me, I can turn us invisible,” Biana offered.

      “Or I can,” Della and Sir Osmond said in unison.

      “Actually, this time it might be better to have Mr. Tam handle stealth,” Mr. Forkle pointed out. “He said the Neverseen’s hideout was in a cave, and an underground hideout could be designed to look that way. He’s had the most experience with the Neverseen’s hideouts, as Mr. Keefe was staying in places along the Lodestar map, which has now been abandoned. The Councillors have cameras in those hideouts now, as do I. His Shade ability can cover the group, at least from a distance, and it will come in handy in other ways as well.”

      “So who does get to go inside?” Keefe asked.

      “Mr. Dizznee, definitely, to deal with all the locks and mechanisms.”

      Dex grinned. “Also, I should probably give the panic switch receiver to someone else—this way, if we run into trouble, we have a way of notifying everyone else besides Sophie’s inflicting.”

      “Good thinking,” Mr. Forkle said.

      Dex smiled and slipped the ring off his hand, handing it to Biana, who was sitting next to him. “Don’t paint it pink, okay?”

      Biana smiled back. “I’ll hold off just this once. Take mine, so you can tell me if anything’s going on.”

      “Okay.”

      “Miss Foster is going as well,” Mr. Forkle declared.

      “If there are illusions, you’ll need me,” Keefe interrupted.

      “Fair enough. Mr. Sencen, you can join Miss Foster and Mr. Dizznee.”

      Keefe looked annoyed at the use of his last name, but it was quickly replaced by a smile when he realized he’d be getting to go.

      “I should go inside, too.” Maruca declared, fingering her new Black Swan pendant. She’d sworn fealty a few days after the showdown in Loanmore. “We’ll need force fields, and I’m a Psionopath.”

      “All right,” Mr. Forkle agreed.

      Wylie, Maruca’s second cousin, narrowed his eyes. “Promise me that you won’t get hurt.”

      “I can keep everyone safe,” Maruca argued, snapping her fingers and creating a force field that enveloped him. 

      “Can you take this down now?” Wylie grumbled.

      “If you agree to stop overprotecting me.”

      “Not a fair deal.”

      “If you agree to try to stop overprotecting me?”

      Wylie groaned.

      Mr. Forkle glanced at the two of them, making eye contact with Maruca. “Take that force field down, please."

      “Fine.” Maruca snapped her fingers again, unravelling the dome of white light.

      “What about me?” Fitz asked. “Sophie and I are—”

      “Cognates!” Keefe called. “And Marella and I are cousins, which also starts C-O and ends in S. Same thing, basically. We don’t do to everything together, though.”

      Fitz groaned. “That is not the same thing!”

      “Wait, you two are cousins?” Sophie stared at them.

      “You didn’t know?” Marella looked suprised. “Yeah, my dad is his mom’s brother. We never really spent a lot of time together, though, because his dad wanted to disconnect himself from my mom after her accident.”

      “We hung out more when we were little,” Keefe added. “Her dad is a Guster, and he used to be a Regent before he left the nobility when Caprise had her accident, which made my dad see him as an acceptable person to be with. He and my mom spent a lot of time together.”

      Sophie stared at the two of them intently. They did have the same messy blond hair and ice blue eyes—and, now that she was looking closely, their noses looked similar, too.

      “Whoa.”

      “Back to what we were talking about,” Mr. Forkle interrupted, “I’d prefer that you go with the outside group, Mr. Vacker. You and Sophie will be able to transmit updates to each other this way.”

      Fitz consented to the plan.

      Tam looked around, sizing up their group. “My shadows can probably cover one more at most, and we’ll have dwarven bodyguards, so everyone’s bodyguards can go with the outside group.”
      “Good thinking,” Mr. Forkle agreed, eliciting groans from all the ogres and goblins. “Also, I’d prefer if you brought an adult along. And, as much as I hate saying this, not a Telepath or a Vanisher. With Mr. Tam’s shadows, those abilities won’t be of that much use.”

      “I should go,” Grady, Edaline, Jax, and Juline all said at once.

      “I was afraid of that.” Mr. Forkle took a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s try logic this time, instead of arguing. Jax’s ability as a Phaser is the most discrete, and useful even when not in a fight. He also is a Black Swan member, and does not have any connections to the people going down to the hideout, so he’ll be unbiased. Before any parents can get mad at me, I can assure you, you can all be part of the outside group. We’re going to need plenty of backup in case of a fight.”

      Jax beamed.

      Grady, Edaline, and Juline eventually agreed—though not without a lot of grumbling.

      And with that, Mr. Forkle gave everyone half an hour to gather their weapons and prepare for the fight ahead.

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    • I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!! This is my favorite fanfic!!!! I need more!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Same. 

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • So good! Can we please have a Sokeefe kiss??

      -Ultimate

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    • Repyling to Ultimate: I'm trying to mostly keep ships out of this.

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    • This is amazing!! I love it so far

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    • When are you going to post more? You are a great writer, I love this!



      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • You're an amazing writer, and I love this story! I need more, because without this, I'll go insane.

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    • Exactly. The perfect words :)

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    • Thanks for all the reviews! Here's chapter 22.


      Twenty-Two

      Sophie was relieved when they came to the river. 

      They’d been walking for the past half hour, trying to stay as silent as possible—but with a huge group, it wasn’t easy. Her clumsiness didn’t help either, and her stupid black cloak was good for camoflauge, but had snagged on several tree branches. And the darkness just made everything dimmer and harder to navigate.

      “There it is,” Linh whispered, gesturing to the fake river. 

      “Okay,” Keefe murmured. “I’m going to take down the illusions.”

      “Good,” Grady nodded, assuming the role of team leader. “Everyone but the six who are going in, it’s time to hide. Sophie will transmit to you if we have to fight. Dex, open the door and leave it open so we can follow you guys if nessecary.”

      Keefe stretched out his hand, pulling colored streaks from around them, lighting up the place and darkening it at the same time. 

      “You okay?” Sophie asked him as he struggled with a streak of shadow. 

      “Relax, Foster. I’m fine.”

      He didn’t look fine. He was grimacing. Sophie reached out for his free hand, lacing his fingers with hers. “I can enhance you.”

      “Nah, I’m almost done.”

      “You’ve got this,” she promised. 

      Keefe smiled. “Thanks.”

      “So, is Sokeefe official now?” Marella whispered.

      “Everyone, it’s time to hide,” Grady reminded the group, drawing the conversation away from Marella’s question. “Good luck.”

      The riverbed faded away, and everyone scattered, leaving the six of them standing in a circle around the mysterious stone.

      “You guys ready?” Dex asked, staring at their twined fingers. “Sophie, can you open up a mental channel so we can talk telepathically?”

      “Yeah,” Sophie muttered, feeling her cheeks turn red. She and Keefe dropped hands, and she concentrated on opening up her mind.

      Dex knelt down and started tapping at the tiny metal plate.

      There was a rumbling sound, like gears shifting and moving, and then the stone twisted and seemed to melt away, revealing a narrow, steep spiral staircase curving into the ground.

      Tam stretched out his hand, sending shadows spiraling around them, until Sophie looked down and saw only smoky grey and black, like the clouds of a rainstorm had enshrouded their group.

      “You ready?” Jax whispered, his own form reduced to only swirls and smudges of color.

      There was a collective ‘yes.’

      Dex headed down the steps first, to dismantle any alarms, and Jax followed him, wanting to be close to the front as he was the only adult in the group. Maruca followed close behind. Tam stayed in the middle, keeping their group wreathed in shadow.

      Sophie stared down at the tiny, winding staircase.

      This was it.

      Their chance to stop the Neverseen.

      She had to be ready.

      She was ready.

      Or was she?

      “Go ahead, Foster,” Keefe whispered. “You’ve got this. I’ll be right behind you.”

      She started down the narrow steps, trying to keep one hand against the wall for balance—but she would have tripped on step four if Keefe hadn’t reached out to steady her.

      Thanks, she transmitted.
      The stairs seemingly went on forever, down and down, getting darker and steeper. It was especially hard because she couldn’t see her own body, and she almost fell twice more. 

      She moved forward, and almost crashed into Tam, who let out a tiny squeal.

      The wall feels different here, Tam told the group. My shadows are acting weird.

      Jax shifted in front of him, touching the wall. The wall density is messed up.

      Maruca’s shadowy form also bumped the wall. Yeah.

      I think there are illusions. I can disable them, Keefe offered. 

      Go ahead, Sophie told him.

      Light and shadows swirled around, giving his hands an ethereal glow, until the faint outline of a door appeared on the wall.

      Could this be the entrance? Sophie asked.

      Dex’s voice filled her mind. I’m sensing some weird circuitry, so…...yeah. Can you guys shift around so I can get to it?

      There was a lot of murmuring and thumps of boots on stone before Sophie could see Dex—at least as much of him as she could see due to the shadows—tapping at the wall. 

      At one hundred and fifty-one seconds, Dex looked up.

      I’ve gotten most of it deactivated. Sophie, can you enhance me for the last part?

      Sure, she transmitted, and she manouvered past Tam to get next to Dex. She switched her enhancing on—it was becoming easier and easier every time—and reached for his hand. Dex grimaced from the sensation, almost letting a shriek escape his lips as he yanked his hand away. Wow, your enhancing is strong. It’s like getting zapped.

      Just touch my fingers less and you should be okay.

      Dex shifted his hand so they were barely touching fingers. 

      Is this better?

      Lots.

      Two hundred and eighty-six seconds passed before Dex told the group, Okay, I’ve gotten their technology fully deactivated. They probably used a Fluctuator, this gadget, to alter the stones’ density. We should be able to pass through pretty easily.

      Let’s go, Jax told the group.

      Relax, Foster, Keefe reassured her. Remember, no almost dying. You’re way more fun to tease when you’re not unconscious in the Healing Center.

      Sophie smiled and stepped through the wall. 

      The stones felt cold, like they’d been placed in a freezer—and when she stepped inside, she was hit with a blast of chilly air. Glad for her cloak, she tightened it around her shoulders.

      The walls were dark and rocky, like they were in an underground cave. The entire place was lit by a single jar of moonlight, making it easy for Sophie and her friends to hide in the shadows. 

      I’ve been here before, Tam thought. This is the hideout I stayed in.

      Great. Okay, what next? Jax asked. Do you have any tips?

      Not really. We don’t know where they are. Just stay in the shadows, and let me go first, so I can take the lead.

      Everyone shifted to follow Tam’s directions.

      Sophie, can you track their thoughts? Jax suggested.

      She should have remembered that. She closed her eyes, letting her concentration gather, before shooting it out and spreading it around the hideout and……

      Okay, we need to go left.

      Follow me, Tam thought.

      The hallway was dark, but the floor was smooth, and Sophie was able to follow Tam easily enough. It curved, and then, after twenty-seven steps, the group stopped. 

      I think they’re in here, Sophie told everyone, looking at a door with a glinting silver knob.

      Is the door locked? Maruca asked.

      I don’t want to try. It could trigger something.

      I can try, Dex offered.

      Sophie resisted the urge to tug on her eyelashes as Dex started to murmur to the doorknob.

      Okay, I think I’ve unlocked it. Let’s go.

      Dex was the first one to step through the door, and a moment later, his mental voice blared WHAT?

      OH WHAT THE HECK WHAT IS GOING ON THIS IS CRAZY— Jax’s thoughts were almost as loud as the human thoughts Sophie had heard all the time growing up, like tiny needles jabbing into her mind.

      Tam stepped in next, and his mental voice went quiet.

      Shocked quiet.

      Like he’d just discovered something he really didn’t want to see.

      Keefe’s hand accidentally brushed hers, and that was when Sophie realized—she hadn’t switched her enhancing off.

      So she was enhancing Keefe.

      And he could feel her emotions.

      This had the potential to become v'ery awkward.

      But all Keefe did was tighten his grip on her hand, then send a pale blue breeze whisking through her mind.

      Sophie took a deep breath and stepped through the door.

      And she wasn’t sure how to react to what she saw.

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    • OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS!!!!!!! Plz post more!!!!!!!!!

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    • What's behind the door? OH NO I WON'T BE ABLE TO LIVE WITHOUT THIS!

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    • Okay that is great but we need answers! When will you post next?



      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • Twenty-Three

      Luzia Vacker stood in the center of the room, grasping the wrists of a man in a dark cloak. 

      “This will make you stronger,” she whispered, shooting light around him.

      Her voice was a little deeper, a little hoarser—not the mimicry of Linh that had been going on previously.

      “I can’t!” the voice cried out.

      Ruy.

      “Shadows made you weak. Light will make you strong. You can fix your ability—or do you want to show that you’re just as worthless as that idiot Vanisher? Embrace the pain.”

      Ruy shrieked as the light wrapped around him.

      They’re…trying to fix Ruy’s ability, Maruca transmitted.

      Make a force field, Jax told her. If Ruy’s ability is broken, we can’t let it get fixed. We need to break their concentration.

      Maruca snapped her fingers, encasing the two dark-cloaked figures in a dome of shining white light. 

      “We decided it was time to pay you a visit for a change,” Keefe grinned, staring at the two shocked Neverseen members.

      Luzia glared at him. “Keep making those jokes for as long as you can. When the stellarlune activates for real, it’ll be game over. You’ll finally start seeing the glory of our side.”

      “Oh, funny story?” Keefe grinned. “Turns out a Flasher and a Shade can deactivate stellarlune as well. Guess I get to keep my sense of humor—and my hair looks just as awesome as ever.”

      “You think you’re so clever—you do realize that there are more of us, don’t you?” Ruy sneered.

      Tam snorted. “As if we don’t know that your Technopath is working with Vespera on some new illusion in the other hideout. I’m guessing Keefe’s mom is there, too, because she only hangs out with the important members now, and clearly you two—” he looked at Luzia “—don’t like each other very much, given the whole betraying her in Loamnore thing. Gethen always preferred the elite villain crew, too, not the rejects who come over to our side or whose abilities fail.”

      Clearly, Tam had picked up on some things from his time with the Neverseen. It was a gamble—but a lucky one.

      Ruy gasped in shock.

      Luzia started to stomp her foot in a distinct pattern, but nothing happened.

      “I guess Mommy Dearest has full dwarf control, too,” Keefe teased. “Scared now?”

      “You wish,” a voice behind them muttered.

      Then a blast of wind shot through the room, knocking Sophie and her friends off their feet.

      It hit her in the back, and she fell straight down, trying to use her hands to break her fall. She was almost successful—a second gust of wind made her right hand slip away, and her head crashed into the floor, causing her nose to gush with blood. 

      The pain made her woozy, and she tried to sit up but ended up collapsing on Keefe, who had pulled himself into a sitting position as he gasped for breath.

      The rest of her friends looked little better. Jax didn’t seem hurt—maybe his ability as a Phaser had helped keep him steady—but Maruca had hit the stone floor hard, and seemed just as dazed as Sophie. Tam was sitting up, though he looked winded, and he was leaning heavily against the wall. Dex was curled up on the stone floor, his breathing quick and panicked, muttering to his panic switch. 

      Sophie focused on passing around Panakes blossoms to her friends, hoping that the healing flowers would get them ready to take the Neverseen on. She shoved a few of the flowers in her mouth, and they mostly worked—although a thin trickle of blood still stemmed from her nose, the petals dulled her headache.

      It looked like Jax was pounding the floor with his blurred foot, summoning the Black Swan’s dwarves to help them out. They were going to need it. 

      “You really thought there were only two of us in this hideout?” Trix snorted as he walked into the room, dragging his feet. “Gullible indeed.”

      He raised his hand as if to cause another brutal blast of wind—but Tam got there first, shooting a bolt of shadowflux at the exposed Neverseen member.

      Shadowflux?

      Clearly, Tam had been training. 

      Trix dodged with a snarl, but it held him off long enough for Maruca to surround him in a dome of glowing white light.

      The force also knocked his hood back—and although the room was dark, Sophie saw that he had brownish-blond hair, slicked back with copious amounts of gel, thick eyebrows, and wide ice-blue eyes. She made a mental image.

      “I’d say you’re the gullible ones,” Keefe smirked.

      “Really? Because although those two don’t know the power codes—I do.”

      It was too late when Sophie realized what was happening.

      Dwarves shot out of the ground, looking larger.

      Angrier.

      Like they were ready to crack the ground into tiny pieces and let Sophie and her friends fall into oblivion.

      Several of them grabbed the Neverseen members and tunneled them out of their force fields, leaving Sophie and her friends facing down eight angry dwarves and three elves with murderous glares.

      “Amazing what stellarlune can do, isn’t it?” Trix asked. “This was where we’ve been experimenting on them—it seems that they’re finally ready. And when I give the command….” 

      He let the threat draw out, waiting to see what they would do.

      Sophie knew one thing—she had to act.

      She felt for a fragile nerve, reaching out for Keefe’s hand as her enhancing flickered on.

      I’m ready, Keefe told her. 

      She knew running would be the smart thing to do. 

      Grab all of her friends. 

      Channel energy to her legs.

      Teleport away.

      But she was done running.

      She grasped Keefe’s hand as she felt for a knot of emotions, feeling her anger and rage and terror melt until it felt red-hot, like fire.

      Glowing purple, the melting amethyst walls of the tower.

      Crystallizing into white, the crumbling stones of Lumenaria.

      Enraged.

      Scared.

      Protective.

      Livid.

      And so many more.

      Everything and anything.

      Acting as one.

      Ready to spill out of her mind and fly out in chaos.

      A calm blue breeze swept through her head, keeping her emotions focused.

      Centered.

      Ready.

      And she spilled the emotions out of her mind, directing them at three very specific targets.

      Luzia.

      Ruy.

      Trix.

      The frenzy spilled out of her, going and going, until she felt drained and overwhelmed—but also energized.

      It felt good to let go.

      The three Neverseen members fell—and then Sophie realized that the dwarves were still there.

      Ready to fight.

      Ready to destroy.

      Jax shouted “LEVITATE!” as the dwarves stomped their feet, creating cracks in the rockly ground. The Black Swan’s dwarves came out, too, and soon the fight was raging in the dark room. 

      “GO!” one of the dwarves called. “We can handle this, but the floor’s about to fall in!”

      The floor was cracking and crumbling as they raced to the staircase.

      Raced to escape.

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    • THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • THIS IS AWESOME! I FRIKIN LOVE THIS FANFIC! ❤️

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    • I LOVE THIS!!!!!!

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    • Wow! This is intense! When will you write more?

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    • WE NEED MORE

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    • U r a great writer

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    • Twenty-Four

      This was just like last time.

      Last time, in Lumenaria, when the castle had come crashing down and the Neverseen had escaped and Mr. Forkle had died……

      Stop it, Sophie told herself.

      She channelled energy to her legs, sprinting faster and faster and faster, and then she saw a speck of light far above.

      She was about to collapse on the ground once she got out of the hideout—and then she saw that she wasn’t alone.

      Keefe, Dex, Maruca, Tam, and Jax had all made it out safely.

      But there were two people staring at her who she hadn’t expected to see.

      “Gusters can use their winds for many things—or have you forgotten?” Trix smirked. “And the force of your inflicting was mainly focused on Luzia. It’s a lot less strong when split three ways. As for those silly shadows—please. We have dwarves on our side. These four” —he gestured to the four dwarves who had just popped up— “helped us escape.”

      Sophie didn’t know where Luzia was—and she didn’t want to ask.

      “Have you forgotten I’m a Psionopath?” Maruca called, sending a force field shooting out and enveloping the two of them.

      Ruy snarled. “And have you forgotten that my abilities are partially healed?” He grimaced, trying to take the force field down—and he managed to cut in a small hole that he and Trix dived out of.

      And then it was chaos.

      Throwing stars and daggers and gusts of wind.

      Stellarlune-enhanced dwarves and force fields and melder blasts.

      All Sophie knew was one thing.

      They were winning.

      She almost took down a dwarf with one of her throwing stars, and when she tried again, she knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

      She aimed for a second one and missed—but before he could get to her, Keefe’s dagger hit his chest, enough to put the second dwarf out of commission. 

      Or even kill……

      She shoved that thought aside, and looked around—all the dwarves had been taken down.

      A throwing star was flung at her from out of nowhere, and she barely managed to jump aside, the deadly weapon embedding itself in a tree. Furious, she yanked a dagger out of the top of her boot and threw it at Trix.

      It seemed to hit air, then fall straight down.

      Air?

      A second dagger sliced air as well, hovering for a second before dropping.

      Someone else tried to blast Trix with a melder.

      The beam of the melder hovered in midair. And hovered. And hovered. 

      And hovered.

      She couldn’t tell who was holding the weapon.

      It was too dark.

      Too shadowy.

      A voice screamed.

      A figure appeared.

      Everyone—Black Swan and Neverseen—stopped and stared in shock.

      At the figure who was in the middle of the battle—his shoulder bleeding from a deep cut.

      Dazed.

      Scrawny.

      Pale.

      Weak.

      But determined.

      Fitz gasped, his shock melting into rage. 

      “ALVAR?”

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    • i love it

      fitz always says alvar is a murderer but who has alvar even murdered?

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    • I LOVE THIS!!!!!!! PLZ POST MORE!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Love this

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    • Ur like Shannon giving us a cliffhanger every freaking time

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    • Awesome! -Lady Sassyfur

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    • Hi! Sorry I made you guys wait so long for the next chapter. I hope you like it!

      Also, I'm editing the chapter above a tiny bit.




      Twenty-Five

      Fitz lunged for his traitorous brother, but Ruy got there first, grasping Alvar in a strangle-hold. “I think we can all agree that we all need to know why this idiot is here—so I’ll get the story out, and in the meantime, you won’t be killing me.”

      “And in case you need proper motivation…..” Trix made winds swirl into a mini-tornado. “I won’t hurl this at anyone. Yet.”

      Grady held his hands up. “All right. Ceasefire for the next five minutes.” He pulled out an hourglass. “The minute this thing runs out of sand, we’re capturing you three and taking you to the Council.” He tipped the hourglass over.

      “Keep telling yourself that,” Trix smirked. 

      “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” Ruy shouted, his hands wrapping around Alvar’s neck.

      “show...I’m...your side!” Alvar blurted, his speech slurred and diffcult to decipher.

      He was barely anything more than skin and bone due to being trapped in a pod in a troll hive, full of a solution that was causing him to slowly die. Bleeding from two wounds and covered with scars from a shamkniv, he looked weak and helpless—but that didn’t match the fury in his eyes as he stared directly at Sophie.

      She stumbled back, nervous, and then Keefe grasped her hand. “Chill, Foster. It’s okay.”

      It wasn’t okay—but this wasn’t the time for that. 

      “Haven’t we already rejected you? You’re worthless!” Ruy emphasized the insult by grasping his neck so tightly it looked like he was going to strangle Alvar.

      Alvar gestured behind Sophie. “Can fight...goblin...did that.”
      Sophie spun around, looking at Sandor, whose arm was tied up with a scrap of blood-soaked fabric.

      “Sandor!” 

      “It’s merely a cut,” he told her, grimacing. 

      It was much more than that.

      She rushed to him, handing him a handful of Panakes petals. “Press them into the wound, or swallow them.”

      Grizel sauntered over. “It’s a good thing your girlfriend actually remembered her medicine.” She handed him a dark vial, filled with thick sludge.

      Sandor downed it one gulp, and Sophie breathed a sigh of relief as the gash on his arm stopped bleeding so badly. 

      “I can fight with either hand, Miss Foster. No reason to worry.”

      Was everyone quoting Alden now?

      “Yes, while that’s all very touching,” Trix rolled his eyes, turning his stare to Alvar. “You think that giving a goblin a small cut proves your commitment?”

      “Can...do more….fight.” Alvar coughed blood from the effort of speaking, and that’s when Sophie realized—he might be dying.

      That didn’t stop Alvar from grabbing a throwing star and flinging it.

      Too late, Sophie realized that all of her friends were off guard.

      And Linh was standing far too close to the traitor.

      She twisted to stop the weapon from hitting her chest—but that didn’t stop it from digging into her side.

      Sophie gasped in shock and horror as blood seemed to fly everywhere, and Linh fell with a crash.

      “LINH!” she cried.

      Please let her be okay, please let her be okay……

      Biana rushed to Linh, covering her wound with Panakes petals, but Sophie knew that wouldn’t be enough.

      “I think our truce is over!” Tam shouted, sending shadows at Alvar and Ruy, binding the two of them together. He lunged for Trix next, but Trix knocked him back with a gust of wind and raised a crystal to the light, leaping awawy.

      “NOBODY hurts my sister and gets away with it!” he shouted, rolling to his feet and punching Ruy when Ruy fought against the dark bonds. His silver-blue eyes were full of fury, and Sophie was very glad that he was on their side.

      Was it over?

      It seemed to be over…..

      “She’s still alive,” Biana called from where she was trying to get Linh to swallow Panakes petals. “We need to get her to a Physician right now.

      “My pathfinder leads directly to Foxfire,” Della called, spinning the multifacedted crystal and locking it on a glittering facet. “Mr. Forkle told Elwin to be on standby, so he’ll be at the Healing Center.”
      “I’m taking her there!” Tam declared, yanking the pathfinder from Della’s hand and racing to his sister.

      “You’ll need someone else to carry her,” Jax offered. “I can come with you.”

      “Sure.”

      The two of them grabbed Linh and leaped away before anyone could respond.

      Sir Osmond was conversing with a dwarf, and he told the group, “The hideout collapsed in the battle. All of the Neverseen’s dwarves are unconscious—we’re going to turn them into the Council as well. Our dwarves are rounding up the traitors.”

      “What about Luzia?” Sophie asked.

      “She got hit by a chunk of falling rubble, and…..” Sir Osmond tralied off. “Limir saw her skull get crushed, gray matter and all. She’s dead.”

      “What about the Neverseen members?” Juline asked, making Sophie realize they had more than one problem at the moment.”

      Edaline conjured up a coil of the thickest rope she had, along with several glass bottles. “Can someone help me tie them up more securely? And I have a sedative.”

      “We’ll take care of it,” Sandor cut in, leading the goblins behind him. “We can secure the rebel dwarves, too.” The bodyguards made short work of tying up the traitors, aided by the Black Swan’s dwarves, who appeared moments later with the unconsicous dwarves. Edaline started pouring the sedative down their throats.

      “My pathfinder leads to Eternalia,” Grady offered.

      “Are the Councillors going to be awake?” Dex asked. He looked at his Disneyland watch. “It’s the middle of the night.”

      “Does anyone have an Imparter that’s been authorized by a Councillor on them?” Grady asked.

      Sophie felt her tunic pocket, glad she’d remembered to bring the silver communication device. “My Imparter has access to Bronte and Oralie—I can hail one of them and tell them to spread the word to the other Councillors and meet us in Eternalia.”

      Dex grinned. “Bronte would probably find a way to inflict on you via Imparter if you woke him up this late.”

      Sophie laughed at the joke. “Fair enough.” She pulled the device out. “Okay, show me Councillor Oralie.”

      Twelve agonizing seconds passed before…..

      “Sophie? Is anything wrong? What happened?”

      “Everything’s mostly fine.” 

      “Sophie, you’ve got dried blood all over your face and tunic. Are you—”

      “It was just a bloody nose.” She kept it to the basics. “We’ve captured Ruy, Alvar is either dead or captured, and Luzia Vacker’s dead. We’ve also captured eight of the Neverseen’s dwarves, the stellarlune-enhanced ones. Can you tell all the other Councillors to meet us in Eternalia just outside your castles?”

      “Of course.” Oralie’s azure eyes met Sophie’s. “Is everyone else okay?”

      “Linh’s hurt pretty badly….” She didn’t want to dwell on that, so she cut herself off. “Other than that, nothing life-threatening.” Before Oralie could respond, she went on. “We need to focus on the Neverseen right now, okay?”

      It was the only way to get herself through this.

      Keep moving.

      Keep busy. 

      You have no control over Linh right now. She’ll be fine. Right?

      Keefe grinned. “And if you want to wake up Councillor Alina with a minor explosion, let me know."

      Despite all the worry, a giggle escaped Sophie’s lips.

      Oralie smiled. “It’s very tempting, but now’s not the time. I’ll tell the other Councillors. We’ll see you in Eternalia in five minutes. I’m so sorry about Linh.”

      “Elwin can fix anything,” Sophie said, trying to convince herself that the words were true. “She’ll be okay.” She took a deep breath, trying to draw her focus away from the problem she couldn’t fix. “Thanks.”

      “Anytime.”

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    • THIS IS SOOO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • yassssssssss pls update

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    • Nice!

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      • does a silveny* More! More! More!
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    • You think Trix is Marrella's father, don't you? This is realy good, but when do we get the stuffed animals?



      --Keefecouldreallyuseanicecrunchy......PICKLE!

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    • You'll get the stuffed animals in a few chapters. No reason to worry.

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    • Lol you sound like Alden in every book EXCEPT FOR LEGACY

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    • Twenty-Six

      The Black Swan members got themselves organized and leaped the prisoners to Eternalia, and a moment after the last group—Lovise, Dex, Grady, and two of the dwarves—arrived, the Councillors started to emerge from their castles.

      “Do their pajamas seriously match their crowns?” Keefe muttered to Sophie, and she had to fight hard not to laugh.

      It was true that while all twelve Councillors were wearing their circlets and silver cloaks as usual, they were all in their pajamas, looking as if they had just woken up. And yes, Oralie’s pajamas were pink, and Alina’s outfit was the exact same shade of green as the peridots on her circlet, and Emery’s sapphire ensemble matched both his crown and his eyes. The same thing held true for pretty much every Councillor. But that wasn't the most important thing going on.

      “We can handle it from here,” Councillor Emery declared with a yawn. “Well done, and thank you for trusting us. We’ll be in touch over the next few days about this, but for now, our priority is securing the prisoners.”

      “What about the dwarves?” Grady asked. “They might not have wanted to join the Neverseen, but the stellarlune could have forced them to. We have no way of knowing.”

      “You raise a good point,” Emery conceded. “We’ll secure the prisoners in Exile for the time being, but we’ll make examining the effects of stellarlune on the dwarves a priority.”

      “Do you need help, or—” Sophie was cut off by Edaline.

      “It’s getting late, and I’m sure any business the Councillors have can wait until tomorrow.”

      “It can wait,” Oralie agreed. “We’ll be working with the dwarves to get the prisoners temporarily in Exile, but that’s between us and the dwarves. You’ve risked your lives enough tonight. Thank you.”

      “What about Alvar?” Fitz asked, walking towards his brother. “Is he…..”

      He trailed off.

      Sophie came closer to Alvar, placing two of her fingers on a place near his throat.

      She felt a pulse, a faint one.

      “He’s alive. Barely. And I think….he’s in a coma.”

      ***

      Sophie tossed and turned in her bed that night, unable to sleep.

      So much had happened in the past few hours.

      And it was good, right?

      They had captured two Neverseen members, and one more had died. Three fewer elves that could hurt them. And all eight of the superpowerful dwarves had been captured, leaving only twenty-two normal ones.

      Jax had group-hailed everyone who had been at the hideout, and had assured them that while Linh’s injury was bad, it wasn’t life-threatening, and Elwin was sure she’d make a full recovery. 

      They could do this.

      “You okay?” Edaline asked, coming into Sophie’s room. “Trouble sleeping?”

      Sophie nodded. “Yeah. It’s just…….a lot to process.”

      “Linh’s going to be okay,” Edaline assured her. “And the Councillors are going to handle most of the reprocussions. You guys did really well today.”

      “It’s partly that, and also……..I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about people dying,” she confessed. “Like, I feel good that those three can’t hurt us anymore, but there are still more Neverseen members out there who are going to be trying to kill us. And Luzia didn’t seem that bad. She saved us, and then betrayed us and tried to heal Ruy, and then she just died? I thought she was Tam’s friend. And why’d Alvar join the Neverseen? Just because of a troll hive? There’s so much stuff that we don’t know.”

      “I faced some of the same problems when Brant died,” Edaline admitted. “Keep this in mind: what happened to Luzia was an accident. And Brant, and even Umber. An accident that you had no control over. And don’t worry about this now. Get some sleep—we can try slumberberry tea, or sommalene, or Silveny can help you out.”

      Sophie nodded, closed her eyes, and transmitted to Silveny. Hi!

      SOPHIE! SOPHIE! SOPHIE!

      How are the babies?

      BABY OKAY! BABY OKAY! SOPHIE OKAY?

      Yeah, just tired.

      SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP! 

      Silveny sent her a stream of calming images.

      Flying and dipping and spinning.

      Diving among silvery clouds.

      Peaceful.

      Relaxing.

      Safe.

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    • This is soooooooooooooooo good😃

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    • IK!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • THIS IS AWESOME! I LOVE IT!

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    • Wut color are Brontes pjs

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    • Black. And Alina has a really bad case of bed hair. 

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    • THIS IS SO GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!! I now have a theory that you are secretly Shannon Messenger and have come to save us all from dying from the suspense. Or maybe you are her soul/mind stunt double to help us cope with the wait. Either way YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK-YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS AMAZIING!!!!!!!!!

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    • Ya ur definently Shannon Messenger now the wait isn’t half as bad

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    • I wonder what the next problem will be? 

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • Love it so far!!

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    • Anyone notice that Trix's description matched an ideal description of Marella's dad? Ice blue eyes? Brownish-blond hair?Stellarlune123 wrote:
       


      Twenty-Three

      Luzia Vacker stood in the center of the room, grasping the wrists of a man in a dark cloak. 

      “This will make you stronger,” she whispered, shooting light around him.

      Her voice was a little deeper, a little hoarser—not the mimicry of Linh that had been going on previously.

      “I can’t!” the voice cried out.

      Ruy.

      “Shadows made you weak. Light will make you strong. You can fix your ability—or do you want to show that you’re just as worthless as that idiot Vanisher? Embrace the pain.”

      Ruy shrieked as the light wrapped around him.

      They’re…trying to fix Ruy’s ability, Maruca transmitted.

      Make a force field, Jax told her. If Ruy’s ability is broken, we can’t let it get fixed. We need to break their concentration.

      Maruca snapped her fingers, encasing the two dark-cloaked figures in a dome of shining white light. 

      “We decided it was time to pay you a visit for a change,” Keefe grinned, staring at the two shocked Neverseen members.

      Luzia glared at him. “Keep making those jokes for as long as you can. When the stellarlune activates for real, it’ll be game over. You’ll finally start seeing the glory of our side.”

      “Oh, funny story?” Keefe grinned. “Turns out a Flasher and a Shade can deactivate stellarlune as well. Guess I get to keep my sense of humor—and my hair looks just as awesome as ever.”

      “You think you’re so clever—you do realize that there are more of us, don’t you?” Ruy sneered.

      Tam snorted. “As if we don’t know that your Technopath is working with Vespera on some new illusion in the other hideout. I’m guessing Keefe’s mom is there, too, because she only hangs out with the important members now, and clearly you two—” he looked at Luzia “—don’t like each other very much, given the whole betraying her in Loamnore thing. Gethen always preferred the elite villain crew, too, not the rejects who come over to our side or whose abilities fail.”

      Clearly, Tam had picked up on some things from his time with the Neverseen. It was a gamble—but a lucky one.

      Ruy gasped in shock.

      Luzia started to stomp her foot in a distinct pattern, but nothing happened.

      “I guess Mommy Dearest has full dwarf control, too,” Keefe teased. “Scared now?”

      “You wish,” a voice behind them muttered.

      Then a blast of wind shot through the room, knocking Sophie and her friends off their feet.

      It hit her in the back, and she fell straight down, trying to use her hands to break her fall. She was almost successful—a second gust of wind made her right hand slip away, and her head crashed into the floor, causing her nose to gush with blood. 

      The pain made her woozy, and she tried to sit up but ended up collapsing on Keefe, who had pulled himself into a sitting position as he gasped for breath.

      The rest of her friends looked little better. Jax didn’t seem hurt—maybe his ability as a Phaser had helped keep him steady—but Maruca had hit the stone floor hard, and seemed just as dazed as Sophie. Tam was sitting up, though he looked winded, and he was leaning heavily against the wall. Dex was curled up on the stone floor, his breathing quick and panicked, muttering to his panic switch. 

      Sophie focused on passing around Panakes blossoms to her friends, hoping that the healing flowers would get them ready to take the Neverseen on. She shoved a few of the flowers in her mouth, and they mostly worked—although a thin trickle of blood still stemmed from her nose, the petals dulled her headache.

      It looked like Jax was pounding the floor with his blurred foot, summoning the Black Swan’s dwarves to help them out. They were going to need it. 

      “You really thought there were only two of us in this hideout?” Trix snorted as he walked into the room, dragging his feet. “Gullible indeed.”

      He raised his hand as if to cause another brutal blast of wind—but Tam got there first, shooting a bolt of shadowflux at the exposed Neverseen member.

      Shadowflux?

      Clearly, Tam had been training. 

      Trix dodged with a snarl, but it held him off long enough for Maruca to surround him in a dome of glowing white light.

      The force also knocked his hood back—and although the room was dark, Sophie saw that he had brownish-blond hair, slicked back with copious amounts of gel, thick eyebrows, and wide ice-blue eyes. She made a mental image.

      “I’d say you’re the gullible ones,” Keefe smirked.

      “Really? Because although those two don’t know the power codes—I do.”

      It was too late when Sophie realized what was happening.

      Dwarves shot out of the ground, looking larger.

      Angrier.

      Like they were ready to crack the ground into tiny pieces and let Sophie and her friends fall into oblivion.

      Several of them grabbed the Neverseen members and tunneled them out of their force fields, leaving Sophie and her friends facing down eight angry dwarves and three elves with murderous glares.

      “Amazing what stellarlune can do, isn’t it?” Trix asked. “This was where we’ve been experimenting on them—it seems that they’re finally ready. And when I give the command….” 

      He let the threat draw out, waiting to see what they would do.

      Sophie knew one thing—she had to act.

      She felt for a fragile nerve, reaching out for Keefe’s hand as her enhancing flickered on.

      I’m ready, Keefe told her. 

      She knew running would be the smart thing to do. 

      Grab all of her friends. 

      Channel energy to her legs.

      Teleport away.

      But she was done running.

      She grasped Keefe’s hand as she felt for a knot of emotions, feeling her anger and rage and terror melt until it felt red-hot, like fire.

      Glowing purple, the melting amethyst walls of the tower.

      Crystallizing into white, the crumbling stones of Lumenaria.

      Enraged.

      Scared.

      Protective.

      Livid.

      And so many more.

      Everything and anything.

      Acting as one.

      Ready to spill out of her mind and fly out in chaos.

      A calm blue breeze swept through her head, keeping her emotions focused.

      Centered.

      Ready.

      And she spilled the emotions out of her mind, directing them at three very specific targets.

      Luzia.

      Ruy.

      Trix.

      The frenzy spilled out of her, going and going, until she felt drained and overwhelmed—but also energized.

      It felt good to let go.

      The three Neverseen members fell—and then Sophie realized that the dwarves were still there.

      Ready to fight.

      Ready to destroy.

      Jax shouted “LEVITATE!” as the dwarves stomped their feet, creating cracks in the rockly ground. The Black Swan’s dwarves came out, too, and soon the fight was raging in the dark room. 

      “GO!” one of the dwarves called. “We can handle this, but the floor’s about to fall in!”

      The floor was cracking and crumbling as they raced to the staircase.

      Raced to escape.

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    • Anybody think it was Lord Cassius under Trix's hood like dummy? I think the author supported the Trix-is-Marella's-dad theory.

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    • I think Marellas dad

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    • This is great! But I need more, are you going to post more today? -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • Thanks for all the reviews!


      Twenty-Seven

      “Sophie?”

      “Sophie, Edaline sent me to tell you that everyone’s going to be arriving soon.”

      “Hey, Foster, as much fun as it would be to see you meet with the Council in your pajamas, you might want to get dressed.”

      Sophie opened her eyes, looking up at the tall boy with messy blond hair standing by the side of her bed. “Keefe?”
      “Great—you’re awake!” he exclaimed. “Everyone’s meeting downstairs in half an hour. Actually, I’m not sure who ‘everyone’ is, or even if all the Councillors are coming, but Edaline told me to wake you up.”
      “Why didn’t Edaline tell me earlier?” Sophie asked as she sat up in bed.

      “After last night, she wanted to let you sleep. But I was kind of bored and annoying you is my favorite hobby, so I decided to come here and play Make Foster Blush. And, if you want to stay in your pajamas, do you have another pair? We can be the sparkly unicorn twins and make everyone else, especially the Councillors, look ridiculous and overdressed.”

      Sophie laughed, before looking down and realizing—she was wearing purple pajamas with sparkly unicorns on them, and her hair probably looked like it had been used as a nest for a small animal. Meanwhile, Keefe’s hair was as amazing as ever, and although his blue tunic was a little disheviled, that didn’t stop him from looking adorable. 

      She pushed the thought aside. “Did Edaline say if I needed to wear my Regent stuff?”

      “She didn’t say anything, so probably not. Do you have a second pair of those pajamas?”

      “I don’t think so,” she admitted, laughing. “How about you let me shower and change?”

      “What, you’ve never met with the Council in your pajamas before?”

      Well, actually…..“Technically, it was only Oralie and Bronte, and it wasn’t anything fancy—they showed up to discuss Loamnore, and I was sleeping outside, and Edaline let them wake me up. So, yeah, I have.”

      “Why am I not suprised?” Keefe teased, heading for the door. “I’ll let you get dressed.”

      She took the fastest shower she could, threw on a lavender tunic and navy pants, and headed for the door.

      “Are you going to do anything with your hair?” a voice asked.

      Sophie sighed, turning to look at her spectral mirror and the small face of a teenage girl in the top corner. Vertina wasn’t alive—it was just a clever bit of programming—and her connection to Jolie had come in handy. That didn’t stop her from being annoying, though.

      “Not now, Vertina.”

      “Oh, come on. It’ll take five minutes to comb your hair and braid it—and right now you look like you’ve just climbed out of a swimming pool.”

      Sophie sighed, and went to grab a comb and a hair tie. Vertina was right—five minutes later, her hair did look a lot better.

      “Great. Now, go get some gold eyeliner, and—”

      She stepped out of range and headed for the stairs. 

      “Did you get any sleep last night?” Edaline asked when Sophie entered the kitchen.

      “Yeah. Silveny’s amazing.” Sophie took a seat at the breakfast table, and Edaline snapped her fingers, making a bowl of orange glop appear—which tasted like amazing banana bread.

      Edalien sat down across from Sophie and snapped her fingers twice more, making two more bowls of glop appear.

      “Where’s Grady?” Keefe asked.

      “Outside, helping the gnomes feed the animals.” Edaline nudged the third bowl closer to him. “Have you eaten breakfast already?”

      Ro snorted. “Nah, he was so eager to get over here and hang out with his girlfriend that he didn’t eat.”

      “We’re not dating,” Sophie and Keefe said in unison.

      “In denial mode, I see.”

      Edaline smiled and told Keefe, “Grady’s eaten breakfast already. Don’t offend me or the gnomes, okay?”

      Keefe nodded and took a bite. “Thanks.”

      “Anytime, Keefe.”

      “Who’s coming by?” Sophie asked.

      “The Collective, aside from Tiergan. The Councillors were up late last night securing the prisoners, so Oralie’s coming over alone and she’ll update the Council later. Dex, Maruca, and Marella are all coming. Della hailed me and said that she and Biana would be stopping by, but Fitz is still struggling with what happened to Alvar, and his echoes are making it worse or something. Alden is staying at Everglen with him.”

      “Maybe I should get Flori to try singing to him and see if it helps the echoes,” Sophie suggested. 

      She still struggled with her echoes from the time the Neverseen had attacked them with shadowflux, although Flori’s songs helped, and now her echo was nearly gone. The same thing might be able to help Fitz. 

      It made her feel like a bad friend for not thinking of this earlier.

      “I’d be happy to,” Flori agreed.

      “Alden?” Ro growled.

      “What about him?” Edaline wondered.

      “You don’t need to tell—” Keefe muttered, but Ro pushed on.

      “He told Keefe to lay off Sophie so Fitz could use our little blond hottie here as an emotional punching bag.”

      “It wasn’t quite like that,” Keefe defended, but Sophie saw that he was looking crushed. And she understood why.

      Alden had been like a father figure for Keefe—and then he had done that?

      She reached for Keefe’s hand, but he shook it off. “Relax, Foster. I’m fine.”

      He didn’t look fine.

      Sophie reached for his hand again. “Well, Alden can’t stop us now.”

      “Yeah. Team Foster-Keefe for the win!” Keefe cheered.

      Edaline shot Sophie a sappy smile, and that was when Sophie realized…..

      She was saying all this in front of her parent.

      “We’re not dating,” she assured Edaline. “We’ve agreed we aren’t ready.”

      Sandor snorted. “And yet you two do spend a lot of time with each other.”

      “We’re friends,” Sophie told him. “And we work really well together. That’s all there is.”

      Before Ro could make everyone cringe or Edaline could say something overly cutesy, there was a knock at the door. Five minutes later, everyone was seated in the living room. 

      “What happened?” Mr. Forkle asked the group.

      “I can show you my memory,” Sophie offered.

      “That would be helpful for all of us, actually,” Mr. Forkle pointed out. “Could you transmit it to everyone? I can give you a boost of mental energy if you need it.”

      “Just the people who weren’t at the hideout, or…”

      “You might have seen something the rest of us missed,” Marella pointed out. 

      “So everyone?”

      “If you feel up to it,” Mr. Forkle assured her.

      She felt tired, and still had a little bit of a headache from yesterday, but… “Yeah. I can do it.”

      There was a chorus of ‘thank you’ from various people, and Sophie felt a little awkward as she circled the room and transmitted the memory to everyone, especially since this meant she was getting up close and personal with everyone.

      She was really glad Della was there and not Alden, because after what Alden had done to Keefe….

      Biana looked terrified, but Sophie couldn’t get her to explain why. Just “Fitz asked me to tell you something and….yeah, I’ll tell you later.”

      Oralie looked extremely sleep-deprived, and she was really relieved to hear that Linh was going to be okay.

      Everyone else looked mostly okay, which was good. And nobody’s mind looked close to shattering, which was even better.

      It took a few minutes for everyone to view the memory. And when everyone had finished, Mr. Forkle said, “All right, any thoughts?”

      Marella was looking very nervous as she played with one of the tiny braids scattered throughout her hair—and then Keefe reached over, grasping her hand. “You’ve got something. I know it.”

      Marella shook her head, the tiny braids swaying.

      “Come on, you can’t lie to an Empath,” Keefe urged. “You’re feeling nervous and shocked, but there’s a little determination as well, so I’m guessing you’ve got a theory that is probably true that you really hope is not.”

      “Mr. Sencen, please don’t pressure Miss Redek,” Mr. Forkle told him. “Miss Redek, feel free to say whatever you’re thinking.”

      Marella took a deep breath, and then…..

      “I think Trix is my father.”

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    • Called it

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    • I had a feeling that Trix was Marella's father too!! And this is sooo good!!!!!!!!

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    • SO GOOD MUST HAVE MORE!!!!! 

      When will you post next? So I won't spend another week spradically checking this.

      You are an absolutely increditable writer!!!

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    • I totally agree with the whole 'Trix is Marella's father' thing, but... 

      I just don't understand why.

      Like, really. Why did he join? And how could he just attack his daughter, nephew, and friends like that?

      (Since I've literally read soooooo many fanfics, I'm assuming this is the one where Keefe and Marella are cousins right?)

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    • I'll make sure to explain why at some point. I'll try to post by Friday, but earlier if possible. 

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    • Yes I am deprived of reading. Then my dad points out that I have filled up both my bookshelves some of my brothers and the entire floor of our room

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    • This is so good! I love it! I think that if you have time you should post more today,  because it is hard to wait. 😀

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • 104.1.154.140 wrote:
      I totally agree with the whole 'Trix is Marella's father' thing, but... 

      I just don't understand why.

      Like, really. Why did he join? And how could he just attack his daughter, nephew, and friends like that?

      (Since I've literally read soooooo many fanfics, I'm assuming this is the one where Keefe and Marella are cousins right?

      Yeah I think

      -Lady Sassyfur 

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    • woah.

      you write JUST LIKE SHANNON MESSENGER

      you should be so proud

      this is GREAT! keep writing pls

      - ZeSnarkyMoonlarks

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    • you are the greatest author I have ever met in this fandom, like, EVER

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    • THANK YOU for all the reviews! 




      Twenty-Eight

      “When I got back last night, he wasn’t home,” Marella continued. “And in Sophie’s memory, Trix looks like my dad, and they’re both Gusters. He has to be Trix. And my dad is also Keefe’s mother’s brother, so Gisela might have recruited him, or blackmailed him into joining, because she needed a Guster for Keefe’s ‘legacy’ or whatever.”

      Keefe squeezed his eyes shut, as if he was recalling his memories. “You’re right. I kept thinking he looked familliar. He does look like Uncle Aurelius, now that I think of it.”

      “We should be a hundred percent sure before we make any accusations,” Mr. Forkle told the group. “Miss Redek, can you recall any other times your father was missing and it seemed odd?”

      “He was gone when I was on midterm break in Level Three,” Marella recalled. “A lot. That’s the main one I remember.”

      “That’s around the same time Wylie was kidnapped,” Mr. Forkle noted. “This does fit.”

      Keefe held his hand up to Marella for a high five. “Welcome to Team Evil Parents!” 

      Marella reluctantly slapped hands with him. "Yeah. I'm sure now. WHY would he do that?"

      "Join the club," Keefe said with a halfhearted smile. "I don't really know why my mom joined the Neverseen, either."

      “Is this enough evidence for a Tribunal?” Mr. Forkle asked Oralie.

      “If you want me to, I'll raise this with the other Councillors and see what they think. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he has fled to the Neverseen permanently.”

      “Could we track his registry pendant?” Dex suggested. “Their Technopath probably has a way of scrambling the feed, but it’s worth a shot.”

      “We’ll be sure to check his registry feed. Even if his records are currently messed up, there might be something in the past.”

      “What about my mom?” Marella asked. “She’s having an okay day today, but this news could really mess her up. And my dad’s usually the one who helps her with the mood swings. If he’s living with the Neverseen for good, this could seriously mess her up.”

      “Talk to Elwin and Livvy. They might have elixirs that could help,” Mr. Forkle offered. “Of course, if and when you decide to tell your mother what’s going on, you’ll have plenty of support.”

      “You could talk to Stina,” Maruca suggested. “She’s an Empath and she might be able to help your mother.”

      “Thanks,” Marella said. She still looked shaken, and Sophie couldn’t blame her. 

      Finding out that your parent was a Neverseen member?

      But Keefe was dealing with that, too, and he seemed to be okay. 

      “Wait, so you know how my dad was doing memory exercises with Telepaths to search his memories of my mom? Could your mom search her memories of your dad to see if we find anything?” Keefe wondered.

      “I don’t know,” Marella admitted. “Maybe?”

      “I can talk to her,” Mr. Forkle proposed. “I’ve interviewed her before. Maybe we can break the news together with some help from Miss Heks in a few days? Her Empath skills will come in handy.”

      “Sure, sounds good.”

      “I’ll hail you and Miss Heks when I have time, and we’ll come up with a plan. What about Luzia and Alvar? Is the Council going to present this information to the public?” Mr. Forkle asked.

      “I’m not sure.” Oralie admitted. “We didn’t discuss it much last night. And Alvar’s still in a coma. We’re planning to have a Physician check up on him today, but it’s not looking good.”

      Biana was fidgeting with her hair, and she finally spoke up. “Um, about Alvar……”

      “It was an accident,” Della assured her.

      “I know, it’s just….” Biana took a deep breath. “That dagger….I threw it—and the melder…..Fitz did that…..we almost killed our brother.” She looked like she was seconds away from crying. “With the troll hive...we were just trying to capture him and that was out of our control, but this…”

      Whoa.

      “It was an accident,” Della told her, wrapping her in a hug. “This was out of your control, too. It’s going to be okay. Alvar’s alive.”

      Dex came closer to the two of them. “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. Alvar also hurt Linh for no reason, and he’s hurt lots of other people, maybe even killed. It’s a good thing that he’s captured and can’t hurt anyone anymore.”

      Sophie moved closer to her friend. “It’s not your fault that he’s in a coma. Really, Biana. It’s okay.”

      “It was an accident.” Keefe joined in the group hug as well.

      “Total accident,” Marella agreed.

      “It’s not your fault,” Maruca told Biana. “Really.”

      “The dagger just gave him a cut,” Edaline reassured Biana. “Like what happened to Sandor—and he’s fine.”

      “I am,” Sandor agreed, gesturing to his arm, which was bandaged but otherwise mostly functional. “Battles are messy. Accidents happen. Don’t dwell on this. What happened happened, and you can’t change it now.”

      “Alvar’s coma was due to many different factors,” Grady added.

      “Miss Vacker, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Councillor Oralie after the death of my twin. It’s far too easy to analyze something after the fact and feel like you should have been able to prevent it.” This came from Mr. Forkle, who was standing across the room. “Don’t let the guilt get to you.”

      Biana nodded shakily. “But what if—”

      “You have my word that this won’t get back to the Council,” Oralie added. “And I agree—do not blame yourself for this. Alvar’s injuries aren’t your fault or Fitz’s. This was an accident. If it would help you to talk to him, we might be able to arrange a meeting with him once he wakes up.”

      “Really?”

      “I’ll try.”

      Dex nodded. “Biana, I’m going to point out that if you blame yourself for this, you’re disobeying a direct order from a Councillor. That’s treason, right? You could end up in Exile if you say it's your fault.”

      That made everyone laugh, even Biana. “Thanks, Dex,” she whispered, a smile sneaking onto her lips.

      “The hideout collapsed, am I correct?” Sir Osmond asked, changing the topic.

      “Yes,” Jax told him.

      “Would it be possible for the dwarves to investigate and see if they can give us any clues about the stellarlune?”

      “Definitely. We can talk to the dwarves after the meeting is over,” Mr. Forkle told the Collective. “Also, I have news for all of you. Prentice, Wylie and Tiergan have had a breakthrough. They’ve gotten close to a memory, but it’s still buried pretty deeply.”

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    • YAY another chapter! I love it!

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    • I love this!!!!!!!!

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    • Good job! 😀

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • Awesome!

      -Lady Sassyfur

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    • Amazing. I just have a slight problem. I can recognise my family by walk, shadow, voice. If it's them, I know it. So how come Marrella is all "I think Trix might probably just sort of be . . ."  But then again she might have been trying to cover up a bit for him, after all he is her father. Just pointing that out. 

      On a side point, let me guess, they visit Linh and they find her Elwin issued stuffed whatever-animal-you-decide-to-give-her.

      The story is really great.

      --Keefecouldreallyuseanicecrunchy...PICKLE!

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    • Thanks, I'll edit it a little.

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    • This is amazing when are you gonna write more

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    • Am i the only one who pronounces keefe's name as "keefee"?

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    • Twenty-Nine

      That.

      Was.

      HUGE.

      Prentice’s mind had almost dissolved in a memory break, but he had called ‘swan song’—the code phrase Black Swan members used when in danger—prior to his mind being broken.

      So if they had finally discovered what he had meant, they might have another lead.

      Yesyesyesyes.

      “So you want me and Fitz to try and uncover it?” Sophie asked.

      “Yes, although it might be better to wait for a few days, when everyone has had a chance to recover from this.”

      “What about Linh?” Marella asked. “She’s in the Healing Center at Foxfire, right? Can we go see how she’s doing?”

      “Yes. She’ll be okay, but I’m not sure if she’s up for visitors at the moment,” Jax informed everyone. 

      “We can at least check up on Tam,” Sophie pointed out. 

      “Hail Elwin and see when he wants you to arrive, okay?”

      “Fine.”

      “Does anyone else have anything to share?” Mr. Forkle asked. When nobody said anything, he stood up. “All right. Can everyone on the Collective join me for the talk with the dwarves?”

      Sir Osmond, Jax, and Juline all agreed. 

      “You can use the beachside caves to have a talk with them,” Edaline offered.

      Dwarves’ eyes were especially sensitive to light.

      “Thank you for your offer, but we have our own place to talk with them,” Mr. Forkle told Edaline.

      “Where?” Sophie asked.

      “That’s neither here nor there.” Before Sophie could ask a follow-up question, the four of them headed out the door.

      Oralie removed a pink-wanded pathfinder from her cape pocket. “Aside from the details of Alvar’s coma, is there anything that I shouldn’t be sharing with the Council?”

      “I think we’re okay for once,” Grady responded.

      Then Sophie hailed Elwin, to see if they could check on Linh. 

      It took a lot of pleading and a promise that they would leave if they had to before he finally said, “All right.”

      Sophie and her friends headed upstairs to the fourth-floor cupola, where the Leapmaster was.

      “Foxfire,” Maruca called.

      One shimmering crystal lowered itself from the ceiling.

      They took turns light leaping to Foxfire, and when the last group—Keefe and Ro—had arrived, they all dashed straight to the Healing Center.

      Elwin met them at the door. “Good timing. Linh just finished taking her elixirs.”

      They rushed through the door.

      Linh was sitting up in one of the cots. She looked okay, just really pale—at least as far as Sophie could tell. And she was wearing an oversize tunic with little silver-blue winged birds on it—argentavises. Knowing Elwin’s love for animal-themed clothing, it probably belonged to him. 

      “Does it hurt?” Marella asked as they all rushed over.

      “It’s okay, I just can’t move too much,” Linh assured them. “And blood-replenishing elixirs taste disgusting. Guess it’s my turn to almost die this time.”

      “It’s called ‘Fostering it’ now,” Keefe corrected. 

      “It is not!” Sophie argued. Sure, she did ‘almost die’ way too often for anyone’s liking, but Keefe had been in danger almost as many times as she had.

      “Keep telling yourself that,” Dex grinned. 

      “Tiergan and Wylie were here earlier, but they had to leave because of Prentice,” Tam explained. “Our parents don’t know yet, and I’m not sure if we’ll be telling them or not.”

      Sophie didn’t argue with him. Quan and Mai Song weren’t quite as bad as Keefe’s parents, but they ran a close second. Both of them were more concerned with their reputation than with their children. No wonder Tam and Linh had decided to live with Tiergan instead.

      Then again, Tiergan wasn’t really a great parent to her. But she had Grady and Edaline, who were amazing, and they were the family that really mattered.

      “What happened?” Linh asked.

      Sophie, Keefe, Biana, Maruca, and Marella did their best to explain, overlapping and interweaving, until everything up to the meeting had been told. And there were a lot of questions and explanations. Finally, the conversation ceased, and Keefe pointed at the cot right next to Linh’s. “Hey, Bangs Boy, is that a stuffed murcat you were cuddling with?”

      Tam scowled at both the stuffed animal reference and the nickname. Both he and Linh had melted down their registry pendants and dipped the ends of their hair in the molten silver. Tam’s silver-tipped bangs actually looked awesome, as did the silver on the ends of Linh’s long dark hair. But Keefe and Tam had had a rivalry going since the day they first met. Which was strange, since they were really similar.

      “I have one, too,” Linh told the group, pulling a scaly purple-blue kitten with fangs out from under her blankets—then wincing from the movement. “Elwin gave them to us. I’m still trying to decide on a name.”

      Sophie turned to Elwin. “Are you stockpiling stuffed animals in reserve in case someone gets hurt?”

      It wouldn’t be unlike him. Elwin had a thing for giving people stuffed animals. He’d already given Fitz a sparkly dragon when his father’s mind had broken. Keefe had a gulon from when he’d been hit with tough news about the Neverseen and his mother, and Biana had a yeti from when Elwin had treated her injuries from Nightfall.

      “Honestly?” Elwin laughed. “After last night, I figured they’d both need it. So I made a quick trip to Mysterium early this morning when they were both asleep.”

      “Hey, Bangs Boy, I think we should call yours Princess Sparklescales,” Keefe teased.

      “No way,” Tam shot back.

      “Actually, I like that,” Linh smiled.

      Tam groaned. “Fine—but only because you’re my sister and you just got impaled by a creepy Neverseen dude.”

      “We should introduce you to the secret Mentor’s cafeteria!” Keefe exclaimed. “They’ve got awesome desserts.”

      “Not until Linh’s fully healed,” Elwin announced, moving in between Maruca and Biana and flashing an orb of orange light around Linh’s torso. “Which shouldn’t take more than a few days, but don’t push it.”

      “Fine,” Keefe conceded. “But I can show Tam and we can bring back snacks for everyone—and then he can go back there later.”

      “Just don’t get up to too much trouble,” Elwin sighed. 

      Ro followed the two of them out of the room. “Oooh, can I smash stuff?”

      “No—but there will be mallowmelt,” Keefe told her. 

      “Eh, fair enough.”

      The three of them left the room.

      Linh seemed lost in thought, and then she asked Marella, “Was there anything else suspicious that happened around your family now that your dad….you know?”

      Marella shook her head. “He was missing a few odd times, but other than that, no. And then there’s my mom’s brain injury, but that was an accident.”

      “What happened there?” Linh asked. “I haven’t heard that much about it.”

      “My mom fell off a balcony and cracked her skull and ended up with brain damage,” Marella explained. “My dad thinks it was too much fizzleberry wine or something.”

      “Your dad told you that?”

      “Yeah, but he loves my mom and he was telling the truth,” Marella argued, nervously fidgeting with one of her braids. "At least, I think he was."

      “Your dad is a Guster, right?” Linh checked.

      “Yeah.”

      “So—just to be clear, I’m not fully sure about this—couldn’t he have used the winds to push Caprise and make it look like an accident?”

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    • oooh

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    • Nice!!!! Would Trix really do that to his own wife........?

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    • 2607:FB90:E6A2:D3A8:3F96:5C75:3518:38D7 wrote:
      Am i the only one who pronounces keefe's name as "keefee"?

      Maybe. Most likely.

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    • PLOT TWIST!!!!!!! I really don't understand why he would do that to his OWN WIFE, but I mean, Neverseen members are idiots (besides ❣️Keefe❣️ and ❣️Tam❣️), sooo....

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    • This is amazing 😄😄😄😄😄😄

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    • LoveSokeefeForever wrote:
      PLOT TWIST!!!!!!! I really don't understand why he would do that to his OWN WIFE, but I mean, Neverseen members are idiots (besides ❣️Keefe❣️ and ❣️Tam❣️), sooo....

      lol

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    • Why would he push his wife off a balcony?

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    • Cuz he's CRAAAAAAZYYYYY

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    • Maybe if she realized he was working with the never seen

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    • wooooooowwwww

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    • Thirty

      Sophie tugged on a loose eyelash. “And…Mr. Forkle interviewed Caprise and she kept muttering something about how Cyrah should have been more careful, right? Maybe she has messed with the Neverseen before and that’s what she was talking about.”

      “No.” Marella shook her head back and forth. “No way! NO WAY.”

      Elwin came over, holding out an elixir. “Relax. Marella, this’ll take the edge off of reality if you need it.”

      Marella shoved the elixir away. “No. My dad’s not….he’s not….” She tucked her knees into her chest. “NO. NO.” Her breathing sped up, quick and hurried, like she had just sprinted a mile and was gasping for breath.

      “Take the elixir,” Maruca and Linh told her in unison. 

      Marella shoved the elixir even further away. “I don’t need it.”

      “If you don’t take it I’m going to blame myself for Alvar’s coma,” Biana told her.

      “That is not fair play,” Marella argued, but she drank the bottle in one gulp. Her breathing slowed, and she let go of her knees, her legs going back to where they originally were. “Yeah, that’s loads better.”

      “Hey everyone, dessert time!” Keefe called, coming in with a tray full of food. He set it on a table next to the cots, and then waved his hand through the air. “What just happened? I’m feeling some serious shock.”

      Sophie did her best to explain.

      “Someone needs to hail Mr. Forkle and update him,” Elwin directed.

      “I’ll do it,” Dex offered, taking an Imparter from his pocket and heading outside the room.

      Keefe looked at Marella. “Can you promise me one thing?”

      “What?”

      “Don’t go off and join the Neverseen like I did about my mom. Not because it’s a bad idea, but that’s so last year. Please. Surely you can find a cooler way to vent your anger.”

      Seriously?

      Marella stared at him in disbelief. “I don’t know whether to laugh or scream or eat your mallowmelt.”

      Keefe smiled. “I brought enough mallowmelt for everyone. Want some?”

      He handed around the plates—everyone took one, even the bodyguards—and Sophie smiled at the chocolatey-butterscotchy goodness as she took a bite. Mallowmelt made everything better.

      The room was quiet save the sounds of chewing for a few minutes before Dex came back in. “Okay, I’ve updated Mr. Forkle, and there better be mallowmelt left.”
      “Relax.” Keefe handed him a plate. “There’s plenty to go around.”

      “Can I get some, too?” Elwin asked, pulling up a chair.

      “Yeah, of course.” Keefe passed the last plate to Elwin.

      Dex took a bite, swallowed, and said, “I’ve got news. Mr. Forkle told me that Caprise was friends with Cyrah and Prentice.”

      “Cyrah was Prentice’s wife, right?” Tam checked.

      “Yeah. Caprise was really close to them. So it’s possible that Prentice shared Black Swan information with her, maybe as a failsafe because of why he called swan song. And Marella was around two when her mom got hurt, and Wylie was about seven when his dad’s mind broke. So Mr. Forkle thinks that Aurelius did it because of the information Prentice has.”

      Whoa.

      “There’s no way we can hit my mom with all this and then ask to search her mind,” Marella declared. “We need to get the secret from Prentice, not her.”

      “If and when you decide to tell your mother, I can make an elixir that might help,” Elwin offered. 

      “Thanks.”

      “Did Mr. Forkle say anything about when we can try to get the memory from Prentice?” Sophie asked Dex.

      “Yeah. Tomorrow morning, I think.”

      Prentice reminded Sophie of shadowvapor, which…..“I want to see if Flori’s songs help Fitz’s echoes–do you think Fitz would be okay with that?”

      “I don’t know, but I can go with you,” Biana offered. “Maybe if both of us are there he’ll calm down a little. And then we can do some battle training if he wants to?”

      “Sure,” Sophie agreed. 

      “Do you want to do some ability training to take our minds off of all this?” Marella asked Linh.

      Linh turned to Elwin. “Can we train?”

      Elwin snapped his fingers, forming an orb of pink light that enveloped Linh’s torso and squinting at it through his glasses. “Yes—but don’t push yourselves too hard.”

      “If they’re doing that, we can do some shadows-and-force-fields stuff,” Maruca offered, turning to Tam.
      Tam nodded. “Sure.”

      That left Keefe and Dex.

      Dex grinned. “Do you want to prank your dad in the most epic way possible, with my gadgets and your illusions, and call it ability training?”

      Keefe’s smile was so wide it looked like his face was going to crack. “Definitely.”

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    • lol

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    • This is really good!!!

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    • I love this!

      the ending tho lol

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    • This is such an amazing fanfic!!! Keep writing!!

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    • I’m with keefe and dex in the pranking think

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    • this is so good

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    • JewelStorm14 wrote:
      I’m with keefe and dex in the pranking think

      Same.

      ~Eleda

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    • plllllllllleeeeeaaaaaaaaaasssse post more

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    • Thanks for the reviews! :) :) 

      Thirty-One

      It was weird.

      Everglen’s glowing gates had been taken down.

      Sophie and Biana’s light leap had taken them almost directly to the front door of the shimmering crystal manor, and now they started to walk up the sparkling path to the entrance.

      “Are you doing okay?” Sophie asked. “And how’s Fitz?”

      “I’m fine—fine-ish, at least. I don’t really know about my brother,” Biana admitted. “He doesn’t really know how to feel. Really shocked and a little….numb, I guess?”

      “Are you sure you’re not an Empath?” Sophie teased.

      Biana laughed and licked the tiny silver strip—a DNA sensor—next to the door, causing it to swing open. “Come on in.”

      The foyer and living room were both empty, so Biana headed for a sweeping silver staircase. They had reached the second floor when Biana looked back at Sophie. “I’m not sure I want to deal with my brother right now, because…..”

      She let her sentence trail off, and Sophie understood.

      Fitz didn’t have a great track record at reacting to bad news, and she had no idea what the Alvar revelation would make him do. Not only that, but the wound Biana’s dagger had given Alvar would probably heal in a few days if Alvar had the right medicine. 

      Fitz’s melder blast, on the other hand?

      Melders could cause permanent damage, and given the duration of the hit….that was probably why Alvar was in a coma.

      She wanted to be a good friend to Fitz, but he probably needed some time to himself.

      “If you want, I can sing to him by myself,” Flori offered.

      “You sure?”

      “Of course. Which room is his?”

      “His room is the first door on the left. Mine’s the first one on the right. Thank you.”

      “Happy to help,” Flori agreed as she headed down the hall.

      Biana turned to Sophie. “Can I give you a makeover?” 

      “Why?” Sophie asked.

      Makeup wasn’t really her thing. She preferred to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

      “To take my mind off of...you know. All of this.”

      “Sure.”

      If it helped Biana, that was worth it.

      Biana opened the door to her room, which looked like the Disney factory had exploded.

      Pink-purple-blue curtains that reminded Sophie of the petals on Calla’s Panakes tree.

      A lavender comforter and purple pillows on the bed.

      A reading nook with a pink couch.

      Biana clapped her hands three times to flick on the pink-and-gold chandelier, then made an odd whistling noise that caused the curtains to fly back, flooding the room with light. She gestured to the dressing table. “Take a seat. I’m going to grab some hair stuff from my bathroom.” 

      Sophie sat down, and soon Biana was back, with a terrifying amount of hair products and makeup.

      “I’m sort of regretting this,” Sophie half-joked.

      She had to be holding at least twenty vials—not to mention her giant box of hair accessories.

      “It won’t hurt,” Biana assured her, taking a hairbrush from amist the clutter.

      “Yeah, right,” Sophie muttered.

      “How many times have you let someone give you a makeover?” Biana asked. “And how many times has it been painful? Trust me on this one.” 

      That reminded Sophie of the Seat of Eminence, and….. “Do you know what’s going on with Team Valliant?”

      “You’re the one who’s best friends with half the Council.” Biana pulled the brush through a particularly nasty tangle. “My guess is that with all of the drama around the trolls, the Council’s busy enough with that that they’ve let Team Valliant go for a little.”

      “Are you doing okay with the whole Alvar thing?” Sophie asked—then regrretted the question as soon as she saw Biana’s face fall. “Never mind.”

      “No, it’s okay.” Biana set the brush down. “I just don’t want to think about it now. Can I braid your hair?”

      “Fine by me.” She searched for a topic change. “Um, what’s it like knowing that your Vanishing mentor is Wraith?”

      “It’s actually really cool. I can partially vanish now!” 

      “How does that work?”

      “I have to focus on keeping part of my body solid and letting the light flow through part of it.” She explained a little more before asking, “Can you hand me a ponytail holder?”

      Sophie picked one up from the table and twisted to hand it to Biana. “Here y—aah!”

      Only Biana’s hand was visible, seemingly floating in midair.

      “Gotcha.” Biana grinned, flickering back into sight.

      “Not fair play,” Sophie grumbled.

      “Says the girl with five abilities.” Biana twisted it around the end of Sophie’s hair. “Take a look.”

      It was a little like a French braid, only with like five strands instead of three. “Whoa.”

      “My mom taught me how.” 

      “It looks incredible.”

      They talked about pretty much everything besides the Black Swan. Foxfire sessions. Luna and Wynn—and maybe taking a ride on Silveny or Greyfell. 

      Finally Biana told Sophie, “I’ve finished.”

      Sophie spun around in her chair.

      The gold eyeliner Biana had used drew attention to the gold flecks in Sophie’s eyes, and the braid looked really good. 

      “Thanks.”

      “No problem. It was really fun.”

      Just then, Sophie heard something start buzzing. She reached for her pocket. “It’s not my Imparter.”

      “It’s mine,” Biana told her, crossing the room and taking it off of her desk. “Hi, Dex.”

      “Hey, Biana. Lex—he’s been-”

      “Just say it,” Biana urged. “It’ll be okay.”

      “He’s been kidnapped!”

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    • OMG this is sooo good!!! But the CLIFFHANGER!

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    • THE CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Omg that was awesome!

      but the cliffhanger...... I NEED MORE.

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    • This is really good

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    • This is awesome! I want to write a book. Do you have any tips?

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    • What?!!! Okay you need to post more really soon, this is great! 😀

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • What?!!! Okay you need to post more really soon, this is great! 😀 

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • WHAT?!!! OKay you need to write more really soon! It is so good! 😀 

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • Can any of you see my post? It’s not working?

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Poor Lex!

      (Which one's Lex again???)

      Gonna be honest, I feel bad for the kidnappers- though I suppose they didn't grab all three for a reason.

      Oh, wow. That was... super heartless of me.

      A french braid with three strands? I'm definently looking that up.

      I wonder why they would take Lex...?

      Wait- that just sounded like I was annotating. ELA is rubing off on me.

      This is so good!!!

      ~Eleda

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    • FIVE STRANDS!!!!!!!! I MEANT FIVE STRANDS!!!!!!

      ~Eleda

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    • SOrry about me posting 4 times, I think my internet was not working so I couldn’t see it but now I can.

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • 2607:FB90:E6A2:D3A8:3F96:5C75:3518:38D7 wrote:
      Am i the only one who pronounces keefe's name as "keefee"?

      N

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    • Same

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    • This is amazing. While I read I feel like I am reading the actual book. You have nailed it especially the character's behavior 

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    • Please post more

      -keefe

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    • Thanks for all the reviews!




      Thirty-Two

      KIDNAPPED.

      The word swirled around Sophie, crusing her chest, making it hard for her to breathe.

      She didn’t know Dex’s siblings very well, but it was still awful—and why would the Neverseen capture one of them?

      They weren’t even involved with the Black Swan.

      Biana dropped the Imparter, and it fell to the floor with a clatter. “WHAT?”

      “I know—it’s awful—my mom was with the dwarves and my dad was at Slurps and Burps meeting with a guy he thinks he’s going to hire to be his assistant now that he’s expanding the store. The triplets were at Rimeshire alone and when Keefe and I leaped there to get one of my gadgets Bex and Rex were freaking out. Bex and Rex had been inside but Lex was outside testing his abilities, and now his registry pendant’s been ripped off and he’s not there anymore. I’ve searched with Bex and Rex and we can’t find him anywhere, and Rex said he heard a scream but by the time he got outside two guys in black cloaks had just leaped away. Keefe’s at the Shores of Solace now to see if his mom’s left him a threat or anything.”

      He said all of this so quickly that Sophie could barely tell what he was saying. 

      “Want us to leap to Rimeshire?” Biana asked. “Maybe we can see if they left us any clues. Have you hailed your parents?”

      “Yeah. They’re both home now.”

      “Do you want anyone else to come over?” Sophie asked.

      “Just get here soon. Please.”

      “Yeah, of course.” Biana tapped the screen to shut the Imparter off, setting it back on her desk and grabbing a clear crystal instead.

      “Is that a crystal to Rimeshire?”

      “Uh-huh. Dex has one for Everglen, too.” Biana shoved the crystal into her pocket. “I need to tell my parents.”

      That was not going to be a fun conversation.

      “Um, do you need me to help, or….”

      “If you want to, you can go to Rimeshire and I’ll come as soon as I can.” 

      “You going to be okay?”

      “I’ll be fine. Just go.”

      Sandor turned to Sophie. “You need to hail your parents and tell them what happened and what you’re doing.”

      Sophie sighed, dreading the conversation ahead—Juline was Edaline’s sister; Edaline was going to be devastated by this. She took her Imparter out of her pocket. “Show me Edaline Ruewen.”

      Edaline didn’t appear—maybe she was out dealing with the gorgodon or something—and Grady didn’t either. Biana helped her leave her parents a message.



      Lex Dizznee has been kidnapped by the Neverseen.

      I’m going to Rimeshire.

      —Sophie



      After she had finished with that, Biana pulled out the leaping crystal and created a path, and Sophie stepped into it, wrapping her concentration around herself and her bodyguards and glittering away.

      She raced up the path to the Dizznee’s ice-blue manor, and then—

      “Hey, slow down!” a voice behind her called.

      Sophie spun around. “Keefe?”

      “Yeah. And there was a note.” He held out a crumpled piece of paper. “Here.”

      Do you want the triplet back?

      Then it’s time for you to come to our side, Keefe.

      Light leap to where this crystal takes you tomorrow at dawn.

      -XOXO Gisela

      “Oh, no.”

      “There was also this.” Keefe held a temporary leaping crystal up to the light, a dark stone with a tiny fleck of glitter. “Gotta love my mom—she makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.” 

      He looked like he would like nothing more than to set the note on fire.

      They had reached the door now, and Sophie knocked.

      Dex opened it. “I can’t believe it…...Lex…..what would the Neverseen want with him?”

      “I’ve got some idea,” Keefe said grimly, handing over the note.

      Dex read as they walked, leading them to the living room. 

      Juline and Kesler were there, looking haunted and disraught—but Bex and Rex didn’t look as sad as Sophie had been expecting.

      More infuriated.

      “We want to fight them,” Rex told Sophie the minute they entered the room.

      Juline shook her head. “I can’t risk you two getting hurt. Mr. Forkle’s coming soon—he’ll agree with me.”

      “But we’re Gusters,” Bex argued, sending a small current at Dex that ruffled Sophie’s hair.”

      “Back the T-Rex up,” Keefe jumped in. “You two are both Gusters? I thought fraternal triplets usually had different abilities.”

      Kelser shook her head. “The triplets used to be identical. Identical multiple births usually have the same special ability.”

      “They used to be identical?” Sophie hadn’t heard that before.

      Dex nodded and looked at Bex. “Can I tell Sophie and Keefe or do you want to?” 

      “I’ll do it.” Bex turned to face them. “I used to be a boy, then when I was seven I switched genders. Elves have elixirs and stuff for it.”

      Sophie didn’t know what to say. 

      There were transgender humans—she shouldn’t be suprised that there were transgender elves, too.

      Which left her with another question.

      “Do elves have same-sex couples? And do the matchmakers make same-sex lists?”

      Juline nodded. “Absolutely. You didn’t know?”

      “Nope—nobody’s ever told me this.”

      Humans had same-sex couples and transgender people and stuff—and the fact that it was okay for elves was really cool. 

      It also made her feel like kind of an idiot for not asking about all this sooner.

      “I should have told you,” Dex admitted. “It’s not my information to give, though.  And it never came up.”

      “But….isn’t matchmaking all about optimal genetic purity and that stuff?” Sophie asked.

      Juline nodded. “Yes, but nobody looks down on elves who stay single or don’t have children. Why should same-sex couples be any different?”

      “You’re right,” Sophie admitted. “It’s just matchmaking is so stupid anyway, and I thought…”

      “I know it must be confusing,” Juline told her. “But elves have different prejudices than humans do. Prejudice is stupid in all its shapes and forms, and it’s my hope that both the elven world and the human world will eventually be free of it, but until then—”

      “So can we fight?” Rex interrupted. “There’s a Neverseen Guster, right? And the Black Swan don’t have a Guster, right? So they need us. And I really really really want to get Lex back!”

      “I know you do,” Juline mumbled. “I do, too.”

      There was a knock at the door, and Sophie rushed to get it, grateful for the interruption. Keefe followed her.

      Mr. Forkle was at the door. “How are the Dizznees doing?”

      “Bex and Rex want to fight, Juline and Kesler are really upset, and I have no idea about Dex,” Sophie admitted.

      Keefe showed Mr. Forkle the note. “Mommy Dearest sent me this.”

      Sophie counted the seconds, and at one hundred and eighty-six, Mr. Forkle nodded. “All right. Can you come with me?”

      “Why?” Sophie asked. “Where are we going?”

      “To recover the memory from Prentice.”

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    • ooo like how you included lgbtq+ with the whole matchmaking system

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    • Ccchamomile wrote:
      ooo like how you included lgbtq+ with the whole matchmaking system

      Lol sound like it!

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    • This is amazing! I surely will lose sleep tonight because of the amazing plots! Keep on going!

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    • Awesome! I can't take the suspense.

      -ilovemallowmelt

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    • THIS IS SOOO GOOD!!!!!!

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    • And I like that you said that elves have same sex couples too, and the have transgender stuff too. I wonder if they do..................

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    • I like that too! Even though I'm not transgender or part of a same-sex couple etc. I still don't think they should be discriminated against. This is such a great story!!

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    • This is soooooo much fun to read, and I can’t wait for more! Keep up the great work! Hope some of these concepts are in the actual book!

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    • I like it so much please post more

      -sokeefe 

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    • When will you post more?

      -Keefe and Sophie forever❤️

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    • Ccchamomile wrote:
      ooo like how you included lgbtq+ with the whole matchmaking system

      Yeah, I'd honestly been wondering about that. Two of my friends are Les, and one asked me if KOTLC included that, and my reaction: 'Uhhhhhhh....', so I was curious. I really liked that you added that in!!!

      ~Eleda

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    • I like the conflict in this! Also the representation, but I doubt they’ll ever be any in the actual book series, because of other countries that aren’t nearly as accepting.

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    • Please past more I need more!!!!!!

      -keefe

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    • Thanks for the reviews! 

      Thirty-Three

      “But—I thought we were going to wait a few days!”

      “That was my plan,” Mr. Forkle admitted. “However, this new development has made recovering this memory all the more crucial.”

      “Can I hail my parents?” Sophie asked. 

      “I’ve already informed them. They agreed with me.”

      “Okay, but what about Fitz? He’s my—”

      “Cognate!” Keefe interrupted.

      Mr. Forkle sighed. “Mr. Sencen—”

      “Keefe,” Keefe corrected.

      “Mr. Keefe, would you be willing to hold off on the Cognates snark for the next few hours? You also have an important role to play.”

      Keefe shrugged. “Deal. What am I doing?”

      “I’ll explain when we get there.” Mr. Forkle looked at Sophie. “Are you ready?”

      Sophie nodded. “What about Fitz?”

      “I’ll tell Tiergan to collect him while you two tell the Dizznees what’s going on. We’ll all meet at Prentice’s house.”

      ***

      Everything was moving so fast.

      They leaped to the cottage in the forest using a pink crystal, and Sophie caught a glimpse of dark-blue furniture before they headed up a sleek silver staircase.

      “This is kinda crazy, isn’t it?” Keefe muttered to Sophie. “Last night we were sneaking around a Neverseen hideout and now we’re trying to get a secret memory from Prentice.”

      “I know,” Sophie replied, trying to wrap her mind around all the craziness that was taking place. “But at the same time, it’s really good—it means we’re finally making progress.”

      “Just try not to almost die, okay?”

      “I’ll do my best.”

      They had reached the second floor, and headed to the second door on the right.

      And there was Prentice.

      He was sitting in an armchair, and he looked…….normal.

      Happy.

      Not the sweat-drenched prisoner with a broken mind he had been when Sophie had first seen him in Exile.

      Wylie and Fitz were standing nearby, and Tiergan was pacing the room.

      Tiergan. 

      Her biological father.

      “Now that we’re here, why am I here?” Keefe asked Mr. Forkle.

      “To calm down anyone who needs it during the memory recovery, especially Prentice.” He turned to look at Prentice. “This is not to say you’re weak. Or that any of us are. This was something so crucial that your mind locked it away during the memory break, so it might have unprecedented reprocussions. We’re simply being cautious.”

      “How’s this going to work?” Fitz asked.

       “Miss Foster, you’ll enhance both Mr. Vacker and Mr. Keefe. Mr. Keefe, you’ll be calming anyone who needs it with that Empath thing—”

      “Empath thing?”

      “Don’t you refer to everything I do as ‘that Telepath thing’?” Sophie countered.

      “Fair point.”

      “As I was saying,” Mr. Forkle continued, “Mr. Vacker and Miss Foster will go into Prentice’s mind and investigate the memory. Tiergan, you and I are going to give Mr. Vacker and Miss Foster all the mental energy we can. Any concerns?”

      Nobody spoke.

      Tiergan moved closer to Sophie. “Can I enter your consciousness?”

      “Yes.”

      Tiergan reached to place his fingers on Sophie’s temples, shooting warmth into her mind. It dipped and twirled and spun—and she loved it, loved having the energy there, wanted more.

      She grasped Fitz’s hand, her enhancing causing him to shriek.

      “Should I let go?”

      “It’s just really powerful,” Fitz told her.

      “Maybe you can hold on a little more loosely—but if we need more mental energy to recover the memory, go ahead and be enhanced as much as you want,” Sophie suggested.

      “That’ll work.”

      He rearranged his hand so that his grip was much looser.

      Sophie reached for Keefe next, who also jolted when their fingers touched. 

      “Are you a Charger now?” he teased.

      “It’s my enhancing. We can just touch fingers if that’s all you need.”

      Her enhancing was especially strong with Telepaths and Empaths, because of her biological parents. Then her abilities had been reset, making her enhancing even stronger—and then she and Oralie had done a countdown exercise to boost all of her abilities, which not only made it possible for her to turn her enhancing on and off whenever she wanted to but also made her enhancing stronger than that. Oralie had mentioned that she might be able to control how much she enhanced someone, but so far she hadn’t even tried that. There was too much going on.

      “Sure.” Keefe ended up interlacing his pointer and middle fingers with hers. The position worked well—at least, he said it did. 

      “Prentice, are you ready?”

      “Yes,” Prentice told Mr. Forkle. He made eye contact with Keefe, then Sophie, then Fitz. “Thank you so much for doing this.”

      “Are you three ready?” Mr. Forkle asked. When they assured him that they were, he nodded. “All right. You’ll be looking for a shadowy memory, towards the back of Prentice’s consciousness.”

      Sophie and Fitz twisted their mental energy together and stretched into Prentice’s mind. 

      It looked normal.

      No more shards of broken memories and messed-up reality and jagged moments that had become twisted and dangerous.

      While Prentice’s mental landscape didn’t have as many memories as Sophie was used to seeing, it was full of noise and color and sound, just like every mind she’d ever been in.

      They dove deeper, farther, crashing through the veil of new memories and into a deeper flow of older ones.

      Here were Prentice’s before-the-break memories.

      Fractured.

      Shattered.

      Jagged.

      A woman with long red hair and violet eyes. Cyrah, Prentice’s wife.

      A black swan.

      A flicker of a cave.

      A haunting song—a moonlark, maybe?

      Come on, Fitz transmitted, and the two of them pushed past the glimmers of consciousness.

      Then it was all black.

      Dark and shadowy.

      The perfect place for monsters—stop it, Sophie. 

      Can you sense anything? Fitz asked. 

      I’ll try. She spread out her mental energy, and there was something up ahead.

      Yeah. Follow me.

      She struggled through the rush of jagged fragments, and…..there it was.

      A memory.

      Tied down by shadows.

      Gleaming and shining.

      How do we break it free?

      Sophie was too busy trying, sneaking her mental energy in and around the shadowy bonds. I’ve almost—whoa!

      She was pressed to the memory, and now was seeing it from the start, watching it unfold.

      Sophie, you okay?

      She couldn’t answer him, watching as the memory became clearer and clearer.

      That was Prentice.

      What was he holding?

      And was that person beside him Caprise Redek?

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    • I can't take the cliffhanger any more please tell me

      -keefe( the most awsome guy in the world)

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    • Is that connected to her death?

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    • ^That's actually a good theory!!!

      This is sooo good!!!!!

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    • This is such a great fanfic!




      -Alli the Hydrokinetic

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    • I don't know if this makes sense but doesn't it make it harder for SHannon MEsseanger to write her book because if she had the same ability like a illusinist,wouldn't it be more difficult for her to write?



      Idk!!



      GRAT Fan FIc tho!

      I love it 

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    • Above my fake name is kirat or gurkirat

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    • Thirty-Four

      “Caprise, I’ve just discovered something—can you keep a secret?” Prentice asked.

      “Of course.” Marella’s mother took a step closer to him. “What happened?”

      Prentice moved closer to her, showing her his closed fist. “This.” He opened his hand to show an starstone.

      Caprise sucked in a breath. “That’s not a leaping crystal.”

      Prentice nodded. “I was investigating an abandoned hideout of the opposing rebel group and I found this hidden in a secret compartment. I don’t want to show it to the Black Swan—everyone else is currently so busy with Project Moonlark. I also found this odd black symbol with lots of white lines—but that’s not important. What matters is the this.”

      The black disc must have been the Lodestar.

      It had been the key to most of the Neverseen’s main hideouts—until the Black Swan had deciphered the key and shut the hideouts down. 

      “Are you going to figure out where the starstone goes?”

      “It might lead into a trap. But I’m worried that my involvement in the Black Swan is becoming clearer and clearer, especially with Project Moonlark becoming more prominent. Which is why I’ve decided to give this to you.” He took Caprise’s hand, placing the starstone in it. “Please, Caprise. Keep it safe until this danger has passed.”

      Marella’s mother took a long, deep breath, clenching her fist around the starstone and placing it inside her deepest pocket. “All right, I’ll do it. But what if my husband suspects something?”

      “Hide it somewhere secure and then put it out of your mind.”

      The memory faded there, and Sophie was left in the black void of Prentice’s mind.

      Caprise had been helping Prentice.

      She had an illegal starstone—and if Marella’s father had suspected her involvement and then tried to investigate….

      And the starstone—was it lost?

      What if they needed it to rescue Lex?

      A calm green breeze swept through her mind, whisking away her fear and worry.

      Fitz, did you see the memory? she asked.

      No—how do you? Is it that glowing thing? And are we the only people who can see it back here?

      Yeah, I think we are.

      Maybe we can use our mental energy to release it?

      Let’s try.

      They pooled their mental energy together, snaking and twisting and then…….

      The memory sprang free. 

      It seemed to glide like a ghost, racing back into Prentice’s mind.

      Sophie and Fitz followed it, shoving through the shards of broken memories until they broke through and reached Prentice’s mental landscape.

      I’m going to check out the memory, Fitz told her.

      Go ahead. I’m going to slip out of Prentice’s mind now and transmit it to everyone else.

      “Did you recover the memory?” Tiergan asked.

      “Yes.”

      “Well done! May I see it?”

      “Sure.”

      She let go of Fitz’s hand and then Keefe’s, and moved closer to Tiergan. He granted her permission to enter his mind, and she shared the memory with him.

      Tiergan’s thoughts became loud, like he was trying to transmit to her.

      Thank you. And….I know you’re having a hard time with my being your biological father, and I don’t blame you. But I want to let you know that I’m very proud you’re my daughter. And if you need anything, I’m here.

      Thanks, she responded, not sure what else she could say.

      She wasn’t sure if there was anything she’d be going to Tiergan about, but it was great to know that he was there and on her side.

      After sharing the memory with Tiergan, she transmitted it to Mr. Forkle and then Wylie. Then she gripped two of Keefe’s fingers again, in case anyone needed to be calmed down.

      Fitz pulled away from Prentice’s mind.

      “That’s crazy.”

      “I know,” Sophie told him.

      Tiergan finished viewing the memory soon after. “Prentice? Did you see the memory?”

      Keefe shook his head. “I’ve been feeling his emotions and he’s all over the place. He’s probably still experiencing the memory.” He tightened his grip on Sophie’s fingers, presumably sending Prentice a mental breeze. “That should calm him down. What happened?”

      Sophie did her best to explain what she had seen.

      Moments later, Prentice told them, “I finished viewing the memory, and…”

      “It’s not your fault, Dad,” Wylie assured him. “You didn’t know that Marella’s father might be evil. It’s okay.”

      “I know, it’s just….”

      Keefe grasped Prentice’s hand. “You’re feeling guilty right now, which is totally unjustified. We can find that starstone.” He looked at Sophie. “Team Foster-Keefe for the win!”

      “Do you know where to look?” Mr. Forkle asked. “We don’t have much time. According to Gisela’s note, you need to leap to wherever that temporary crystal takes you by sunrise tomorrow.”

      “Is there a way to copy a temporary leaping crystal?” Sophie asked.

      “No. I wish there was.”

      “I figured I’d look at Marella’s house to start,” Keefe said. “Maybe her mom will have some ideas.”

      “I’d like to be there when you do that,” Mr. Forkle told him. “Her memory of that might be gone, and your Empath skills will come in handy if she’s having a good day.”

      “Can I come with you?” Wylie asked. 

      Keefe nodded. “That’s actually a great idea—maybe if you’re enhanced your Flasher senses will help you find the starstone!”

      And that reminded Sophie that she hadn’t turned her enhancing off yet—and Keefe was getting a boost from it, even without physical contact. 

      “Foster—what’s making you panic?” he asked.

      She tugged her fingers away. “Nothing.” Then she concentrated on the tug she felt in her heart, letting her enhancing flicker off. 

      Tiergan wanted to go to the Healing Center to check on Tam and Linh, and to bring them clothes and things so they wouldn’t be stuck borrowing Elwin’s tunics all the time. Fitz decided to go with him, because he hadn’t had a chance to check up on Linh yet, and he agreed to tell everyone else what was going on. And Prentice had agreed to stay behind and brainstorm other locations that the crystal might be.

      Keefe hailed Marella, who agreed to meet them outside Foxfire so they could leap to her house together. And with that, they all dispersed to follow their newest lead.

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    • That was awesome!

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