“Damn it, Eirlys! Wait up!” Ethon shouted at me from about fifty feet back.
“Catch up!” I yelled back as I hammered my Ice into the mountain, trying to concentrate on the vertical cliff that we were climbing. I lost my footing and Ethon had to dodge the falling rocks, “Sorry!”
“Be careful!” He yelled at me.
I grabbed onto the ledge and pulled myself up into the cave in the face of the mountain. I used the hammer to create the anchor point. Ethon pulled himself into the cave and gave me the look. I hated the look, because it usually meant that I screwed something up. “Yes, my darling?” I asked innocently.
“Why are we climbing this mountain?”
“There’s a vault that no one has opened yet. I’m hoping that we’ll find something for Mikala to sell in the store. Also, I heard the view is awesome.”
“Why aren’t we using the trail?” He asked just as innocently.
“Because Erick and Era are using the trail and I want to beat them.”
“They don’t sell things to Mikala to sell.” He looked confused.
“Noooo… But Era wants to furnish the palace for Enki’s inauguration. She’s hoping to find something that can put her above me in Enki’s favorite’s list.”
“Doesn’t she know that he sees you as his daughter and her as an equal?”
I shook my head, “Nope, but that’s why I gotta beat her. That was a long enough break; ready to continue?”
“Why don’t I lead?” He asked as he stood up.
“Because last time you led, we fell off a mountain because you forgot to put an anchor in.”
He grinned, “We landed in soft powder.”
“Only because I created it right before we hit the ground.” I mumbled, but it was no use. He was already climbing up the mountain. “Hey!” I yelled as hung from two handholds.
“What? I’m trying to concentrate!” He watched me warily as I walked towards him.
“I know. I just wanted to say that I can see your sexy abs.” I leaned up and kissed him.
He let go of the ledge and landed back into the cave. He grabbed me and pulled me farther away from the entrance of the cave. “You know, at dawn, this cave will see a great view as well.”
“I don’t know… The stories about the top of this cliff say that it’s the most extraordinary thing that you will ever see in your life.”
“They don’t wake up to you every morning.” He kissed my neck and bit into the base of my neck softly.
We both heard a whistle as Mikala stood there with her hands on her hips. “We weren’t doing anything!” I said to her quickly. She chastised me with her eyes. “We weren’t going to go farther than where we were at.” She gave me a look that she almost did not believe me. I changed the subject, “So, whatcha doing here?” She pointed up. “What do you mean that they beat us?!” She nodded as she outstretched her hand to the two of us. I held onto Ethon as Mikala and my fingertips barely touched.
We arrived at the top of the mountain just as Era and Erick reached the top. Mikala gave me a two finger salute as she vanished. “You cheated!” Era pointed accusingly.
I pointed to myself, “Who? Me? Cheat? Never.”
Ethon was about to say something, but I kicked him into silence. He changed his words quickly, “So, what have you heard about the view?” He asked Era.
“View?” She looked confused. “We’re here because Erick and Eirlys are going to try to make it rain and snow. This just happened to be the highest peak in the region.”
“So, Eirlys is a liar and a cheater.” He looked pointedly at me and I just gawked at him.
I crossed my arms, “Enki’s mountain has views, so I assumed that this one had some too. Sorry for trying to spread the beauty to other people.”
Erick saved me, “Did you hear what Enki’s first duty as President is going to be?”
We all shook our heads, “We wouldn’t tell me.” I admitted.
“He’s granting freedom to those who are still slaves and amnesty for those who have escaped captivity. He is also enlisting the help of the elves to rebuild the forests to help clean the air. The sprites have offered their services as electricity creators to service the different regions.”
“That reminds me!” I pulled out the vial the sprites had given me for saving their Queen. I handed it to Era, “I know you were looking for a present for Enki and this is supposed to stop Death and extend someone’s life for another ten years. If Enki does well as President, then he will want that to spend his days with Mikala.”
I looked at the edge of the cliff and grabbed onto Ethon’s shirt. He looked over and I heard him gasp in excitement. The other two looked and I saw their eyes light up. The sun was rising over the far off horizon and we could see the clouds that were dissipating in its power. Erick stood up and held his hand to me, “Ready, little sister?”
I grabbed his hand and he pulled me up. “I’m always ready.” We both walked to the highest part of the mountain peak. I took off my jacket as Ethon and Era opened the umbrellas that I had found in a vault. I pointed my forefinger straight into the air just as Erick did. We both poured out power into the sky, creating dark clouds, fat with raindrops and snow flurries. We kept pushing and pushing our power into the sky until it blocked out the sun with our clouds.
Erick stopped pushing his power into the clouds, not wanting to completely drain his magic. I had no such reservations, so I continued to add more and more snow clouds. With a final burst of power, I gave the sky the last of my snow magic and waited. Dainty snowflakes started to fall all around us.
I flopped over to Ethon and grabbed my jacket. I did not put it on, but just looked up at the sky and smiled. I heard a whistle of Mikala trying to get my attention. I looked at her and she smiled. “It’s already time?” She nodded. “Well, let’s go see Enki become President.”
I grabbed her hand, before Ethon grabbed mine, Era grabbed his and Erick grabbed hers. Our chain of people vanished, teleporting to the palace where Enki was elected. We arrived in front of Enki, who was waiting for us outside the palace. “This won’t do.” He grabbed me from Ethon and Mikala and spun me around. “Mikala, I think you can do a better job than this.”
I looked between him and Mikala’s smiling face. “What do you mean…?”
He pushed me towards her, “You know what to do.”
She grabbed my hand and dragged me through the palace, “Mikala! What’s going on!?” She sped up and burst through the doors into a large room. She let go of my hand, while I stared at the vast area. The room’s walls were covered in white stone with grey and black streaks are random points. There was a giant bed with blue blankets and pillows on the black four poster frame. Large luxurious rugs adorned the white speckled tile floors. “Mikala?” I looked over to her as she pulled out a white dress. I looked at the dress then to her. “I’m not wearing that.” She just gave me a look saying that I would wear it and like it.
I grabbed it from her, “What do you mean its tradition?” I held the dress up and looked at the details. “Mikala, this isn’t a wedding dress, so what is it for?” She refused to tell me as she striped me out of all but my underclothes and helped me get the dress on. My hair had grown out in the months since the Dictator’s demise, so she put it up and out of my face. She applied, what I equated to as paint, onto my face, paying close attention to my eyes and lips. “Am I allowed to see it?” Mikala shook her head. “Why are you being so secretive?” She just smiled softly. “Fine then. Keep your secrets.” I crossed my arms across my chest but she wrapped her arms around me.
I looked over at her, “Mikala… I have to say something to you.” She just nodded into my shoulder, “I know that you don’t blame me anymore for what happened, but I blame myself every day for your suffering.” She looked up at me and our eyes met. “I’m sorry for that bastard hurting you and I’m sorry for dragging you into all of my messes.” I hugged her back, “You’re the best friends anyone could have ever asked for.” I wiped away a tear as it slid down her cheek as she patted me on the head.
“So… why am I wearing this thing?” I asked her, trying to get her to reveal her secrets. She just shook her head and led me down the hallways to where the inauguration would be taking place. She left my side, running somewhere. I looked around and saw Era wearing a dress similar to mine, with Ethon and Erick wearing matching tuxedos. We all stood by, waiting for the ceremony to start. We were standing near a balcony, where Enki would give his first speech.
Trumpets blared and drums beat as the crowd cheered as Enki entered the room with us, wearing clothes that fit his figure. He stood tall and proud, Mikala in a bright red dress helping him walk. She let go of his arm while he stood in the center of the balcony.
I watched him give a thumbs up to a sprite who sparked herself, giving him a microphone to amplify his voice. “Ladies and gentlemen!” The crowd cheered before it grew quiet, all ear listening to the first President of the World. “I am standing here, your elected official. As such, you have chosen me to lead this world into greater things. For that, I thank you.” The crowd cheered wildly.
“But, I would not be standing here today if it wasn’t for the bravery of those who fought in the Rebellion!” He raised his arm into the air as Era stepped forward. She gave a curtsy to Enki then to the crowd. “We had an inside man who taught us everything we needed to help defeat the monster that the Dictator was.” Ethon walked onto the balcony and bowed to Enki then the crowd. “We discovered the Water-Bearer who has been using his magic to purify the water that we have today! He has gone out and spread his magic to the regions and has come back to us to build an infrastructure that can withstand the test of time and to give be sure that everyone has clean water to drink!” Erick stepped out and the crowd drowned everything around us out. He bowed to Enki then to the crowd, whose cheers did not stop until he reached where the other three stood.
I looked at them and then the crowd, before backing away. I was not made for the limelight and more importantly, I was not made to be a hero. Mikala saw me backing away and tried to stop me. “Mikala. I can’t…” I tried to find the words to explain it, “I want to be able to walk places and not have people stop me to thank me. I don’t want to have well-wishers pounding on my vault door to give me presents. I can’t with that and I don’t want the recognition for what I did. I killed people, stole from them, found mysterious objects and granted Mercy to those who needed it. Please, don’t make me go up there.”
She nodded to me, pushing me back out of the room. “Without further ado-” Enki continued his speech. I watched as she walked up to Enki and touched his shoulder. I ran before he could see me, but I heard his voice echoing in the courtyard, “Without further ado, I want to thank all of you who have elected me as your leader. I want to lead us all into a golden age, where all people have the right to food, water and Life. From this day forth, slavery is abolished in our world! No one should be forced to work for no wages!” The crowd cheered and I walked away from that area.
I wandered through the palace, before finding the room where I had changed. I took the dress off and put my royal blue tunic and leggings back on. I grabbed my cloak and face mask and turned to leave. Ethon stood at the doorway, “Why did you run?”
“Same reason I did before. I don’t want a life more than what I had. There are adventures to be had and I can’t have them if I have people thanking me every chance they get.” I walked up to him, until I was right in front of him. I kept looking at his chest “Wind blows, fire crackles, the earth rumbles and water drips. But snow…” I looked up at him, “Snow is silent as it gently floats. It doesn’t announce its presence; it’s just felt and seen. That’s the way I want my life to be. Not some giant party or even a trace of recognition. Snow is just there and when it melts, you know that it will come back.”
“Let’s run away.” He grabbed my shoulders.
“What do you mean?” I looked at him confused.
“It’s simple. There are adventures out there that are waiting for you and I. There are treasures to be found and people to be met. Why should we stay here if it will just make you unhappy?”
“What about Era, Erick, Enki and Mikala?” I asked. I did not want to leave the family I just found, but something about his words struck me in a good way.
“You told me that Mikala can find you anywhere. If they need us or if we need them, then we will call her.”
“Why do you keep saying ‘we’? Is there a mouse in your pocket?”
He leaned in, touching his forehead to mine. “I’m never leaving your side again. So, just accept that you will have to learn to buy supplies for two and to teach me how to climb cliffs better.”
My heart fluttered at the prospect, “I’m not going to be able to get rid of you, am I?”
“You could always follow through on that Death Warrant.” He joked.
“Mikala already took it back and explained in more polite words than I could ever use that your Death Warrant was to be destroyed. She warned that if they tried to send anyone to complete it that I would destroy them and rip them limb from limb.”
We heard people walking towards the room and I looked to see the window open. He saw where I was looking and shook his head. “We can just ignore them and walk out the door.”
“You wanted adventure.” I grabbed his hand and jumped out the window, pulling him with me. We landed on a cushion of snow, Ethon next to me.
The Courier appeared on the other side of Ethon. He handed me a blue envelope, “Since you are no longer fighting, this client has hired you back.”
I climbed over Ethon and grabbed the envelope. “He doesn’t give up, does he?”
I saw the hint of a smile on the Courier’s face, “I wouldn’t have the slightest idea on who you are talking about, milady.”
“Doesn’t he know that the Hope Diamond is cursed?”
I saw the knowledge in the Courier’s eyes, “Is it now?”
“… After he gets the diamond, you owe me the Black Envelope and the reward from it.”
He nodded then gave us both the two-finger salute, vanishing from sight.
“What do you mean Black Envelope?”
“I read many books that said the Hope Diamond is cursed and people have died because of it. This is the third time I’ve been asked to find it by this guy. All he sees is a giant jewel, not the curse behind it. The Black Envelope is the envelope that carries Death Warrants. That Courier knows that this client is going to die and it’s because someone gave him the idea of the Hope Diamond, knowing that he would take the bait. They planted the idea in his head to kill him.”
“Who would go through all of that trouble in order to kill someone?”
“That same one who manipulated Enki’s mind into thinking that I was the Water-Bearer to have him tell it to everyone else who would listen. Then, knowing that I would become cold, got the kids to break the blue bottle that Erick had given me as a present. They are probably the ones who made sure that I got all of the different mercenary jobs to prepare me for battle. Mikala hinted that they are the true powers behind the world.”
Ethon just looked at me, “That can’t be anything real. That has to be something that you just came up with on the spot.”
I shook my head, “Why do you think I get all of the good jobs? Jobs that are meant to test my magic as well as my intellect. I’m the best Tracker because whoever they are have set me up for success. They wanted me to fight the Dictator and to kill him. That’s the only reason Mikala would have ever been captured by him. She could have easily escaped him and contacted me without ever getting caught. It’s odd that she did, don’t you think?”
“You mean to tell me that there’s a group of masterminds out there who have chosen you from all of the people in the world, groomed you to become a cold-blooded killer, in order to kill the Dictator so it didn’t trace back to them? Then how did I get there? Was the person who pointed me towards your vault sent there by these masterminds?” He laughed at the idea until he saw the seriousness on my face. “You’re serious.”
“It sounds insane, but I never thought about it like that before. The Dictator said he had my parents killed when he kidnapped Erick. Bandits couldn’t have killed my parents, it would have been professionals. I never ran from where they were killed, yet they only took Erick instead of me? Doesn’t that seem odd to you? Like it was meant to be that way? ”
“If that is true, then what are you planning to do?” He asked as I stood up and brushed the fluffy snow off of my tunic and leggings.
I helped him stand as I thought about everything that had happened in my life to lead up to that moment. I could feel eyes watching us and I turned to face Mikala, “I’m not lying or making this up, am I?” I just grinned at her, “Let whoever they are know that I hate them for killing my parents, but I think I understand why they did it. More importantly, though, tell them that if they stop giving me all of the good jobs that pay well, then I will track them down and beat them with the Envelopes they send the different jobs in.” Mikala just smiled as she raised a Black Envelope. She handed it to me and I opened it to read the same client’s name as was for the Hope Diamond. “Tell them that I accept, please.”