|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.”