Chapter 6

Laurana was never so glad to be home. Corillia held so many happy memories for her, that Heraldine's shadow could not reach her, or her two charges. Kind Edmond had been disappointed with their decision to leave, but he understood the need the two siblings had to be away from all the memories, both good and bad. He did not know of Violet's gift, though the girl had passed out once at the diner table. Laurana had informed the King that it was likely due to shock over her father's death, to reduce his worry.

Bethanyla and Nathanalas had retreated to their own home, to continue their honey moon. Nathanalas worked as a legal aid for the Elders, and had been given a month off to spend time with his new wife. Bethanyla had resigned as Spy Master, and though she occasionally did work for the Elders, she planned to stay at home. Laurana smiled thinking about it. She wondered if Bethanyla planned to have children. She had wanted children when she was younger, always cooing to baby elves whenever she saw one, always gushing about how cute a particular baby was. When they had been adolescents, it had driven Laurana insane to no end... but now, the idea filled her with pleasure. She doubted she would ever have children... after all, she could not take the way elvin men treated her. The only elvin male who had treated her with any respect had been Sopremere the Grand Mage, and he followed the Dark robes.

Laurana dumped the armload of luggage in her front hallway, Violet and Doren crowding in behind her. Kenna and Christiana were also both going to stay with her, at least until after Doren and Violet passed their Magehood tests. Laurana had no idea where she was going to put them all. Besides her room and the library, there was nothing on the second floor. The main floor had one room, but that was all, besides the kitchen and living quarters, but none of that was suited to sleep in... Then there was the cellar, which was cold and damp, and generally unfit for a sleeping area.

"Well guys, I think we are going to have to change some things around in here," she said with a sigh. "Doren and Violet are each going to need their own space, and so are you two," she nodded over at Kenna and Christiana. "But I don't really have enough space."

"We'll stay in an inn," Christiana offered.

"The council will fork up some money for us," Kenna added. "Since Chris is staying here to train her apprentice."

"No, I don't want to do that. Besides, it's a waste of the council's money," Laurana replied. "We can figure something out... Maybe Nathan could put you two up..."

"Nathanalas is on his honeymoon," Kenna protested. "I am not putting my brother out during his honeymoon."

"Couldn't you just add on to your house?" Violet asked from the stairs.

"No," Laurana sighed. "There are strict laws about house sizes. My house is as big as it can be based on my station. Only if I were to marry higher up could I expand it, and only if he did not have a house already."

"But, what if no one can tell?" Violet pressed. Seeing her mentor's slightly bewildered look, she continued, "I mean, what if you put your renovations in the basement, where no one would see, something you could hide easily if someone came here to check." Laurana grinned at her apprentice.

"That's perfect, Violet! And you and your brother are just the two to do it!"

"Why us?" demanded Doren. Laurana smiled patiently at the young man. He was not being particularly nice to anyone, except his sister. He was angry all the time. Laurana wondered if his new found strength had added to his aggression, or if it was grief.

"Because it will be a good work out for you, and you magics. You two need all the practice you can get."

"Our test's three months away," Doren retorted. "I have pleanty of time to practice."

"Doren, you will do as you are told," Christiana said, in a warning tone. Laurana flinched. Christiana had used that tone on her once before, and, despite Laurana being the elder of the two, Laurana had bowed to Christiana as her Mistress, just as Doren did. She knew when Christiana meant business.

Doren apparently knew the tone too, for he stood, arms at his side, and mumbled a "yes, Mistress Christiana," before stalking down the cellar stairs. Violet, her face awash with concern, hurried after her older brother.

"What are we ever going to do with him?" Christiana muttered. Kenna put a sympathetic hand on her friend's shoulder.

"Grief does funny things to people. Be thankful all he does is snaps."

"True enough," Laurana muttered, as she headed down the stairs.

The cellar was typical, just like any other cellar in the city. Laurana still had some of her winter stores in barrels about the place, though it was mostly devoid of anything. She needed to stalk up, especially with so many others now living with her.

"Alright, first thing is first," she said, pushing a barrel out of the way. "We need space to put you two. Doren, I want you to obliterate all the rock in a twenty feet, by twenty feet by 15 feet rectangle beneath us. But take it down ten feet before you do, so that we don't end up in a huge crater, and so my house doesn't sink."

Doren sighed heavily, and began his incantation. Energy shot from his hands, into the floor. There was a slight rumbling, and the Doren straightened himself.

"There. It's done. Can I go now?"

"No." Laurana put her hand on the wall, and created a stairwell down to the room Doren had just created. She motioned for the two humans to follow her. Violet did, without hesitation, but Doren stood at the top of the stairway, grumbling, until Christiana gave him a stern look. Sighing, he summoned flame into his hand, and followed them into the lowest level of Laurana's house.

They stood in the dank, dark space, the only light coming from the flame Doren held in his hand.

"Violet, take stone from around us, strengthen the ceiling, add walls, and make this space as big as you want it." Laurana commanded. "It needs to be big enough for you and Doren, and each of you should have your own rooms.

"Down here?" cried Doren. "You are treating us like prisoners!" Laurana sighed.

"No, Doren. Calm down, would you?" She turned to Kenna and Christiana. "I'll need your help for this. We are going to make an interdimentional space that links directly to outside, and put it into window frames, two on each of the east and west walls." She turned back to Doren. "It will be just as if you had windows going to the outside world, though you won't actually be able to open them. We'll even set it up so that you have a command word to let in fresh air."

"Can you do that?" Violet asked, a little awe creaping into her voice.

"Not alone," Laurana replied. "But with them..." She grinned. "With Kenna and Christiana, I can do anything."

***********************************************************************

He was glad to see they had returned. He had not been able to follow them on the ship to Heraldine, and risk exposing himself to them. Instead, he had watched her house, sure that he would see her again. He had been right. Two days after Laurana and her friends had left, a figure had approached the house, intending to set fire to it. He would not have that. Laurana had lost enough to the dark forces... besides, he had a score to settle himself. He put out the fire, and tried to chase down the assailant, but the unknown dark figure escaped into the night.

The sun had just set, and it was time for him to keep his watch over the house. He was startled to see a large man come out of the house, carrying a sword. Jealousy flared to life in the pit of his stomach. Was this a suitor? The man muttered a few arcane words, and a mass of energy formed in the air. The man raised the sword, and, with a fury of blows, attacked it, grunting angrily as he did.

"Why?" the man cried angrily, as he stabbed the energy. The energy seemed fairly solid, since the blade only sunk into it a little bit.

The watching mage made a face. The man was human. Could it be... was that Doren?

"Father," the young man whispered, sinking to the ground, completely exhausted. He sat there, weeping like a child.

"By the gods, what caused that?" he whispered, staring at Mistowa's son. "A change in the balance?" He wished he could ask her about it, but then he would have to admit that he had been watching Laurana's house. First the attack on Laurana's home, now this... on top of there being enough renegade movement documented in the last month to have every mage on high alert... Something was going to happen... and soon.

AN: I know, I took forever in updating... but with a summer job, and school coming up (yes, I know I'm making excuses) its hard to get chapters typed out... and I promise more will happen the next chapter. It will make long time readers happy, too! Just wait and see! (Hopefully I'll have it up before I lose the internet for a wekk while I move... sigh...)