|The Tale of Sierra Winterbreeze (part 7)|
I was new to Marleybone, but still I had managed to get to one of the first instanced areas there. After getting my ticket from the dog-woman Amy Castleton at the ticket counter, I headed to the entrance of the Ironworks. “Rowan!” I shouted to my sister across the Spiral using whisper chat, “Come here! Since I helped you with the Ironworks, you promised you’d help me.”
It took a while for her to answer, but finally I heard a sigh and she said, “I’m coming.”
I didn’t know much about the Ironworks, mostly because I had never been there. I just hoped it wouldn’t be too hard. To reduce that chance, I wanted to take as many people as possible.
I then wondered who else I should bring. I had asked Liam, since I was trying to get to know him better because he was a Seeker, but he was busy. I also asked Seth, but for some reason he wouldn’t answer me. Hunter said that he was battling Sydney in the duel arena, and Jasmine was in a boss fight. Even Mark was engaged in a against some strange MooShu monster that I had never heard of. The only one left that was available was Victoria.
I could only hope that she was a higher level than I last left her. An Apprentice wouldn’t be much help in a Marleybone level.
I let out a sigh of relief when Victoria turned up in Adept clothes. She had leveled up a lot more since last time.
The Ironworks turned out to be extremely easy. I probably could have done it by myself. Victoria, honestly, wasn’t much help, but I was glad she came anyway because I had someone to talk to.
I was rushing to finish up the quest when Liam teleported to me.
“Hey Sierra,” he said obviously excited, “you won’t believe what just happened!”
“What?” I asked.
“I turned level 42!”
“And that is important… how?”
“I get to learn the last balance spell, Hydra!”
“What, you aren’t excited?”
“I guess…” The truth was I didn’t really care.
Liam looked disappointed. “I wanted someone to come with me. It is a huge moment for me, so I wanted to celebrate with someone.”
“Sure… I guess I’ll come…”
Liam brightened up again. “Great! Come on, this way!” He began pulling me by my arm away from Digmoore Station, which I looked at over my shoulder in exasperation. Victoria was watching me helplessly as I was dragged away from her. I supposed that completing the quest would have to wait.
Liam dragged me into Krokotopia. Then, when we arrived in the Oasis, someone teleported to me.
I saw that it was Mark. Before I could say anything, Liam exclaimed, “Hey Mark! Guess what. I’m level 42 now! I can learn Hydra!”
I looked at him in surprise. “You know each other?” I questioned.
“Yeah, sure we do. We met a long time ago. Our parents are best friends, so naturally we are too,” Mark explained.
“That makes things a lot easier. Now I don’t have to introduce you to very many of the Seekers.”
Liam looked confused. Since I didn’t want to have to explain myself yet again to someone who wasn’t aware of what the Seekers of Light were, I quickly changed the subject before he could say anything. “So, aren’t we going to the balance school?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. Do you want to come, Mark?”
“Sure, I guess so. I don’t have much left to do in MooShu anyway. I am supposed to fight Plague Oni, but I have to do a bunch of stuff I have to do first. I don’t want to right now, so I’m pretty bored.”
“Is he the one in Crimson Fields?”
“I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
“Have you beat Wavebringer?”
“You’re talking about that guy known as the Great Water Spirit? I haven’t fought him, but he is in the same place that I’m supposed to go to.”
I had absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
“I guess we should start going,” Mark said, noticing my bored expression. “Sierra doesn’t look like she wants to wait much longer.”
“I’m sorry, I just get a little carried away when I’m talking about MooShu,” apologized Liam. “I miss there. It was so bright and colorful and pretty.”
“Yeah, whatever. Let’s just board the ship that takes us to the Krokosphinx, okay? It looks like the captain is about to leave, so unless we want to wait for the next boat we should hurry over there.”
We got on the ship and came up to the hole with the balance school inside. I peered down. As usual, it was dark inside so that no one could see in. Liam began to climb down the ladder, with Mark following. But about halfway after I was climbing down the entire ladder began to shake. At first I thought it was just because it was unstable, but when I fell off of it because of the movement, I realized that the ground was shaking too. I groaned, worried about this.
“Why do I have a bad feeling about this?” Mark muttered.
“Because when you’re a Seeker, earthquakes always mean bad news,” I replied, remembering the time that in Dragon’s Mouth Cave or when we fell into the death school.
Suddenly, right before our very eyes, the ladder leading up to safety disintegrated. Yes, it completely vanished!
“What the-” began Mark, but then matters only became worse. Someone from above rolled an impassable stone over the entry to the balance school. Mark angrily turned to me. “Sierra, what did you do!” he screamed.
“It wasn’t me!” I yelled innocently. It was very hard to hear now, for rocks that were luckily not the size of the one over the entrance were falling around us. Was the school going to cave in?
“Come on,” ushered Liam over the volume of the crashing rocks. “Let’s go ask Alhazred, the teacher, what’s going on.”
Rushing into the balance classroom, Liam cried out in disappointed surprise. I think we all did. For now, much to our dismay, the balance school now resembled the death school. It was completely in ruins. Desks were overturned and scattered out of their usual neat rows. It looked as if some of the teacher’s desk had crumbled away. The room was a total mess. And where was Alhazred?
“Oh no,” sobbed Liam. “What will become of us? The classroom is destroyed, Alhazred is nowhere to be found, and now we are stuck here!”
“To get out of here we can construct a makeshift ladder from the remains of the desks,” I suggested.
“No, the boulder is still there, remember?”
“Oh yeah,” I said, recalling the mysterious person who rolled over the stone.
“And teleporting doesn’t seem to work either,” Mark reported, demonstrating by making the motion to teleport with no result.
Liam whimpered and Mark sat down worriedly. I wanted to do the same, but as the leader of the Seekers I felt compelled to get us out of this mess.
I took a deep, calming breath. Then I began, “Ok guys, I think I have an idea. Let’s try to blast that rock out of the way.”
“What do you mean?” inquired Mark.
“We should combine our strength to hit the rock at the entrance with the force of our magic. Once it is out of the way, we can call for help. What do you guys think?”
Mark only shrugged, but Liam burst out saying, “That’s a perfect idea!”
I grinned. “Good, then come over here.”
We ambled to the entrance of the school. “Ok,” I started. “Are you guys ready?”
They only nodded.
“Alright, on the count of three. One… two…”
“Stop!” yelled a voice.
Irritated, I spun to face the two boys. “What?” I asked angrily.
I studied their faces. Mark looked terrified, but Liam just appeared awed.
Now I was confused. “Seriously, what are you guys staring at? It is creeping me out!”
“As it is to me, as well,” said another voice, different from the first one. I now saw that this voice was from neither of the boys in front of me. Instead, it was emanating from behind me.
Slowly, cautiously I turned. Now, in front of me was a giant Hydra.
“Agh!” I screeched, diving back into the balance classroom to hide.
“Please don’t be shy,” said the blue ice head of the Hydra. I had never heard his voice before, so it must have been the storm and fire heads that had spoken. “We are here to awaken Liam Griffinbane, the powerful balance Seeker of Light!”
I faced the Hydra again at the mention of “Seeker of Light,” but I still kept my distance and refused to go close enough for one of those three heads to reach me.
Mark followed my example and stepped back a few feet. But Liam strode right up to it. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “You’re amazing! Is this for another spell quest?”
The fire head beamed, and the storm head said “No, as we said before, we are here to awaken you.” He was the one who had first spoken.
“Awesome!” Liam yelled. “How do I do that?”
“Just watch and pay close attention,” said the red head.
“Seekers of Light must defeat the Spiral’s evil. Though other generations have just defeated normal monsters and enemies, you have a special task. You must kill Malistaire. Liam, team up with the six other Seekers to finally destroy the evil man once and for all!”
“So wait a minute,” said Liam. “We have special powers, right? Who are the other Seekers?”
“There are seven Seekers of Light, one for each school. So far Sierra Winterbreeze, the leader, has awakened fire Seeker Sydney Jadehammer, storm Seeker Victoria Ravensmith, death Seeker Mark Darkcrafter, and myth Seeker Hunter Thundershield. And now they have come for you, if you shall accept your task.”
"Amazing," he breathed.
"Wait a second," I interrupted. "Before I forget, did you say other generations?"
"Yes," replied the Hydra's purple head.
"So there are other Seekers?"
"There were," it corrected, "but none of them are alive anymore. You are descendants of them."
"Does that mean my parents are Seekers of Light?" I asked excitedly.
"No, it skips a few generations in between. But that is why siblings, like Sydney and Hunter, are usually both Seekers."
"So, Liam, do you understand?" questioned the fire head.
"I think so," Liam replied. "But what are we supposed to do? Defeat Malistaire? But how can we do that? We're nothing compared to him!"
"You'll find a way," smiled the blue head.
"Now you must find the life Seeker," instructed the fire head.
"I thought it was storm," argued the purple one.
"No, I’m pretty sure it was balance."
"The balance one is right in front of you!"
"I thought he was death."
"Um, guys," I said, "can we please just go home?"
All three heads turned to me. I felt uncomfortable in their gaze. “I guess if you want,” the fire head finally said.
“How do we get out of here?” asked Liam. I was wondering the same thing.
“Don’t worry, we can handle that.” With that, the ice head joined its friends raising its head. Then, they let out an obnoxious, noisy, piercing scream that made us all cover our ears. Then, suddenly, we were teleporting.
We staggered out right beside the balance school’s hole. When we all realized where we were, Liam shouted, “Wait! I didn’t get to learn Hydra!” Then he hurried down the ladder which had somehow reappeared. Mark and I looked at each other, and then we burst out laughing. Liam just couldn’t hold his excitement.
But then, I realized that we had missed something vitally important. “Uh, Mark,” I said worriedly.
“Yeah? What’s up Sierra?” he said, looking at my solemn face in concern.
“Did you happen to catch the next Seeker’s name?”
Mark gasped, finally comprehending how crucial that information was. “I didn’t! We have to go back down there!”
But when we hurried down into the depths of the balance school, we found everything in the exact order it was supposed to be. The desks were in neat, even rows, and Liam was at the front of the classroom with the balance teacher in front of him, who must have been instructing him how to cast Hydra.
Since the Hydra that had awakened Liam wasn’t there anymore, Mark and I waited impatiently for Liam to learn his newest spell. When he was finished, I came up to him. “Liam, did the Hydra tell us who the life Seeker of Light was?”
He only shrugged, which made me angry. “Don’t worry, it isn’t important,” he said, starting up the ladder.
“No, this is very, very critical! We have to know!”
“Relax, we’ll find him.”
That just made me even more frustrated. Didn’t he understand why we needed this? “Liam, perhaps you didn’t quite grasp the concept of being a Seeker. We must defeat Malistaire, but we can’t do that unless we have all the Seekers together. If we can’t find the life Seeker, then the Spiral is doomed!”
He looked at me skeptically. “Maybe you didn’t get it, Sierra,” he said in annoyance. “We wouldn’t stand a chance against Malistaire at our current levels. We need to become at least Masters before we can fight him. So that gives us plenty of time to look for the next, uh, whatever they are called.”
“Easy for you to say!” I shouted back. “For your information, they are called Seekers, and if we don’t hurry, then Malistaire will destroy the Spiral before we can get to the next one.”
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t think we can beat Malistaire anyway.”
“You are just so… so… infuriating!” I screamed. Then I stomped away without taking even one glance backward, though I continued to hear Mark’s worried voice calling my name.
|The Tale of Sierra Winterbreeze (part 8)|
The day that I had the biggest surprise of my life was also the biggest betrayal of my life. It was so unexpected, and by trying to fix it, I endangered myself, my friends, and nearly the entire mission of the Seekers.
I still don’t understand quite how it happened. The day started normal enough. After a couple of Magus classes, I headed off to Marleybone to beat Dr. Katzenstein in his lab. Victoria even promised to help me again, because she had just gotten into Marleybone herself. With Victoria’s help I finished the East and West Counterweights and then Big Ben. I was so happy, since I knew that after Big Ben you were let into MooShu. I couldn’t wait! Maybe I would finally catch up with Rowan.
But unfortunately, Victoria turned out to be a problem. I am not saying that she wasn’t helpful, though. No, she was lots of help. The only thing was the person she brought with her.
I hadn’t talked to Liam Griffinbane since the day he was awakened. So naturally, when he teleported to Victoria, I was very nervous.
“Hi Victoria!” he said happily when he appeared next to her. Then he noticed me. “Oh, you’re with her. Um, hi… I guess.”
“Yes,” I said coldly. “Hi, I guess.” I turned to Victoria. “I am going to go to the headmaster by myself, okay? You and Liam can do quests on your own.”
“Oh, but Sierra, I wanted to be with you when you got into MooShu.”
“I’m sorry, I want to be alone.”
“Yeah Victoria,” said Liam, who had began to drag Victoria away. “She wants to be alone. So leave her. We don’t need her help. What quests are you working on?”
“Chelsea Court. But-”
“Okay! I’ll lead the way.”
“But Liam…” She seemed torn between one friend and another.
“Don’t worry Victoria. If you want to see MooShu early, I’ll let you in. Just not right now. See ya,” I told her.
“Bye.” She didn’t look happy at all though.
I walked unaccompanied to Headmaster Ambrose’s office. I was going there to tell him about my efforts in Marleybone, and about my victory over Meowiarty. But now I didn’t feel like I wanted to see anyone. I wanted to be alone, all by myself. I thought about going to my house and locking myself in my room, but even if Rowan wasn’t home to bother me, my parents might be. And I still hadn’t figured out how to keep my friends out of my room, so I couldn’t be sure that no one would teleport to me. I was pretty sure there was some way to do because when I asked Rowan one day, she laughed and wouldn’t say anything. For the moment I had to live with it.
It was an unpleasant walk, being undecided at where to go, angry at Liam for stealing my friend, and bored beyond belief. Finally, not knowing where else to go, I headed to Headmaster Ambrose’s house, hoping that some fresh MooShu air might make me feel better.
“You defeated Meowiarty?” asked the headmaster when I got there. “Amazing! You are quite talented, Sierra Winterbreeze.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. When do I get to MooShu?”
Professor Ambrose chuckled. “Patience, young one. You don’t even know why you would go there yet, do you?”
“Um… well, no.”
“Let me explain: Malistaire is currently in Dragonspyre. The Emperor of MooShu has the Spiral key there though, so you must obtain it from him. You are just one of many that I have sent, Sierra. Be wary, for MooShu, though beautiful, can be dangerous.”
“Ok. Can I have the key now?”
“Of course.” At last, he gave me the Spiral Key to MooShu.
I exited Merle Ambrose’s house and headed toward the Spiral Chamber. While I was walking, I began to hear someone call my name. As soon as I got out of noisy Ravenwood and into the Spiral Chamber, I recognized it as Victoria’s voice calling to me. “SIERRA! Oh my gosh, Malistaire is here! And there’s Liam! And I have to hide! And I’m scared! What do I do?”
“Um… what? Calm down a little, Victoria. What was that about Malistaire?”
“He’s here! But-”
I didn’t even wait for her to say more; I just teleported right away.
I had hardly even finished teleporting when I was slammed against the wall and a hand clamped over my mouth. I was just getting ready to struggle, when I saw Victoria’s worried face staring back at me. So it had been her who had assaulted me. But why?
She put a finger to her lips to signal to stay quiet. Slowly she lifted her hand from my mouth. “Stay hidden,” she hissed, so quietly I had to lean in to hear her. “And don’t talk. You’re just lucky they didn’t hear you teleporting.”
Now that I was free from her grasp, I had a chance to take in my surroundings. Nothing seemed unusual. We were standing in the middle of an empty Marleybone street. To our right there was a dark alley.
I was terrified, but I saw no Malistaire. “What’s going on?” I squeaked in as quiet a whisper as I could manage. But I was so anxious, that even to me my voice sounded weak, high-pitched, and a tad too loud.
Victoria silently pointed down the alley, and she motioned for me to join her at the corner of one of the buildings forming it. From this position, you could peer around and see whatever was happening in the alley, and had easy cover if someone happened to look your way. That must be exactly what Victoria had in mind, because you would definitely need to hide quickly in her situation.
I followed her there, not quite knowing what I was about to see, but from all the whispering I knew it couldn’t be good.
I peeked around the corner and found myself trying my best not to gasp. Even with my efforts, I took in sharp intake of breath.
In front of me was a scene I never expected to see. Of course Liam was there. He looked just as nervous as Victoria. Then, in front of him, was Malistaire. He was closer to me than he ever had been before, and I had trouble not panicking when I saw the pleased look on his face. What had he done? Next to Malistaire was a series of three strange floating images. Each of them had a picture of someone in a cage that I didn’t recognize. They reminded me of the ones I saw of my past in the Tower of Lost Memories.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the balance Seeker,” said Malistaire. “It was Liam Griffinbane, I believe.”
Liam just stared at him, paralyzed by fear. Eventually he pointed a shaky hand toward the images and asked, “What is that?”
“I think you know what that is.”
“No…” he whispered. “It can’t be true!”
“It is. I have captured your family. I will free them, on one condition.”
“What?” I was worried. Liam sounded a bit too eager to my liking.
“I need you to help me defeat the Seekers of Light.”
Again I struggled not to gasp. To make matters worse, Liam was actually considering it! Say no, I thought, willing him to somehow hear me and heed my words. Come on, Liam, you have to say no!
“I always sensed something different in you from the other Seekers,” said Malistaire. “You are more powerful than them, and more reasonable.”
Not true! I thought. But if Malistaire was saying that, then somehow he must have known all about our fight.
After a long silence, Liam finally said, “…okay.”
“But,” he added, “You have to promise to free my family.”
I felt so many emotions at once: anger; sadness; confusion; surprise; fear; but most of all, betrayal.
I didn’t wait to hear any more of the conversation. All I knew was we had to get out of here. So I grabbed Victoria’s arm and began dragging her away.
Unfortunately, in my haste I happened to kick a stray can of dog food that was lying around on the streets. It only made a small clinking sound, but that was enough to alert them.
“What was that?” said someone from behind us inside the alley. Whether it was Liam or Malistaire, I didn’t know, and didn’t want to find out. Victoria and I began running.
Deftly I dodged the many buildings of Marleybone. I heard footsteps coming up behind us, but I didn’t dare look back. Victoria was a little slower than me, so I sped up ahead. I knew she would be alright.
It wasn’t long before I began to grow tired. I never had been much of a runner, and before I had been running on pure terror. Now that the feeling was gone, my pace started to slow.
Since I knew I couldn’t go on any longer and had to stop, at the next intersection I pretended to dodge right but instead dove left. I could only hope it had appeared as if I had headed the other direction.
I found myself in a large alley much like the one Victoria and I had just fled from. I knew that this could be a dangerous place if someone found me here, because there was a tall metal fence blocking the way behind me and I had nowhere to run. However, it could also be a good hiding place as long as I wasn’t discovered.
Just then Victoria came darting in front of the alley. She would have run right past me if I hadn’t reached out and grabbed her. She began to scream, but relaxed when she saw my face. Still, she let out a shrill yelp that I prayed hadn’t been too loud.
Luckily, when our pursuers came by, they hurried the way I had faked going. I never would have known who they were if I hadn’t caught a brief glance of them in the starlight above. They were Skeletal Pirates.
Victoria and I still waited in complete silence. Neither of us moved at all; even our breathing was much quieter than usual, as if it had been hushed by fright.
After waiting for at least another thirty minutes, I stood. “Come on, Victoria,” I said. “It’s kind of getting late. We need to go tell the other Seekers what just happened.”
She stood up silently, almost as if she was still stunned. But we hadn’t even taken one step out of the alley when something I certainly hadn’t anticipated happened: someone teleported to me.
“Liam!” I shouted when I realized who it was.
“I am so sorry, Sierra,” he said quietly. “I have to do it for my family. And we would lose anyway.”
“No, Liam!” But it was too late. Malistaire was already appearing beside him. With a single wave of his staff, I suddenly felt extremely weak and I collapsed to the ground. I was only partly aware that Victoria had gone out cold beside me, but I couldn’t concentrate enough to worry about her. My vision became blurry, and though my body hit the ground hard I couldn’t even feel pain because I was numb. The last thing I remembered before going unconscious was Liam’s voice: “Please forgive me, Sierra.”