Being Chapter the Sixth.
"There is so much to tell you," Sybilla said with a warm smile. "It's hard to decide where one should even begin."
She went to her fireplace, taking a streaming pewter teakettle off a rack and taking a chrome cup from the mantle.
"Any of you care for some tea or perhaps…" Sybilla trailed off, looking to Kitty for help. "What else do the Eartheners drink?"
"With all due respect," Casper put in impatiently. "We'd settle for knowing what the hell this place is."
"This is a little overwhelming," Wayne explained for them.
"Yes," Sybilla agreed with a nod of understanding. "I would imagine."
Sybilla strolled over to a large chair opposite them, and took a seat.
"I take it this is your first time to Aromesia, yes?"
"You mean to this side of a storage closet?" Casper piped up from behind Ethan, snickering in mockery. "Yeah, it is."
Ethan turned around in his chair and backhanded Casper in the chest as punishment for his disrespect.
"This place is many things. It can serve as a boarding house, a school, a place of refuge… It's whatever you wish of it. Magical beings from all over our world, and yours, travel here. Just to be among beings like them. Some, like Fin, have never lived anywhere else. You may feel welcome here anytime, and stay, or not stay, as long as you like. But it is crucial that if you do decide to step off our grounds that you allow our pre-selected Guardians to accompany you wherever you go."
"We're capable of protecting ourselves," Ethan piped up.
"Not against this," Sybilla argued with a gentle smile. She turned to Fin and Kitty. "Escort them back to their dorms, girls. Tomorrow, take Lysander along with you to cover the fourth."
"Lysander?" Fin repeated. "But I thought Etrigan was going to be the fourth Guardian."
"After his display at the Council meeting yesterday, he's lucky not to be imprisoned. Lysander is highly recommended at the top of his class, and has not threatened any council member's life lately. Now, return the boys. They have a long day of classes in the morning."
"She means Guild classes, not Earth classes," Kitty whispered.
"After being in a human school your entire life, you have a lot of catching up to do in your education," Sybilla said decidedly. "Have a good night's sleep, gentlemen. You'll need it."
"But ma'am…" Fin started.
"I have not forgotten your desire to have leave to marry, Fenix," Sybilla insisted sternly. "But considering that these four boys carry the fate of our known world in their hands, it shall have to wait. Your skills are far too necessary at this time."
Fin suddenly turned to the boys with distaste in her eyes, but put aside her feelings and waved them to follow her out.
"'Human school'?" Casper repeated scoffingly, as they went back down the stairs to the main lobby. "She might as well have started calling us 'Muggles'. Someone give me a spoon- I'm digging a tunnel out of Oz right now…"
"It's not so bad once you get used to the idea," Seth argued, waving at a group of kids at the bottom of the stairs who were waving flags with their names on them. "It's kinda nice being so famous, everybody respecting you so much…"
"Nice change for you, isn't it, Baby Sethie?" Wayne slapped a hand on his young brother's shoulder. Seth threw him a harsh look in reply.
"I can't believe this," Fin grumbled as she pushed past the boys to storm off ahead of them. A bit of fire flickered from her eyes. "Not only do I have to postpone my wedding to babysit, but we have to take sissy Elf boy instead of my fiancée, who is far more qualified, just because his rotten temper got him suspended from active duties."
"Fin…" Kitty breathed in caution, a warning that Fin knew all-too-well.
Fin sighed audibly, pausing on her marching rampage to gather her composure back together, letting the flames in her eyes be extinguished by her own eyelids. She then turned to the rest of them, and gazed at their clueless faces.
"Well," Fin said. "Lets go tell Lysander the news and get you properly introduced."
"Personally, I've met enough freaks for one day," Casper announced.
"God, me too," Seth quickly agreed. Ethan passed them both a disapproving look.
"Oh, why don't we split up, then," Kitty volunteered with a nod. "I'll take Seth and Casper with me and show them their rooms."
"Oh, alright," Fin relented with a grin, glancing tantalizingly at Casper. "Only because I think this one might have a heart attack if he doesn't see Ro again soon."
Casper shrugged with a smirk, not having any base to argue on, and followed the petite Kitty to the dorms.
Fin hurriedly took them down a more narrowed corridor, and turned a sharp left while Ethan and Wayne fell over themselves to keep up.
"So, uh, what race is this Lysander kid?" Wayne asked curiously, having to take extra long strides to keep Fin's fast pace. "I mean, he's not like a vampire or a werewolf is he? Should we be worried?"
"He's in the Fey Division," Fin replied. "A Forest Elf."
Wayne laughed loudly.
"Like the kind that live in a tree and make cookies?"
"Oh, those zebra-striped ones are my favorite," Ethan piped up with a smile. Fin didn't seem to get their joke.
"Forest elves are some of the most dangerous magical creatures in existence. This one is especially sensitive because of his big-shot daddy so I wouldn't mock him. They're the only race left that's not documented in any history book. The full extent of their abilities is still a mystery."
Ethan was thoroughly lost by now, since every hall to him was starting to look alike. Sort of like a hotel hall full of doors with only numbers and an occasional elevator as your guiding landmarks. Fin stopped by one marked number 56. It seemed very distinguishable as far as doors go, as it was painted white, with a mural of a few trees and vines on it that stretched out to the surrounding walls, probably done by the Elf himself to make him feel more at home.
"I apologize for him in advance," Fin warned as she put her fist out to knock. "He's rather rude."
Then she knocked twice firmly on the door. It immediately opened, and two pointy-eared men stepped out and waited.
"We're here to see Lysander," Fin sighed impatiently. "Tell him I have a message from Sybilla."
They nodded and went back inside the room, the door closing after them.
Ethan shifted his feet in the several moments of pure silence. Just when he began to wonder if anyone was inside, the knob turned and a man appeared, taller than Ethan which was hard to beat. His eyes glowed a neon green, hidden partly by pure white, pin-straight hair. His nose was small and upturned, but the rest of his pale face was sharp and harsh. His ears were dramatically pointed, sticking about three inches from his head. He was tall and very lean, but stood erect in military-style, with his shoulders hunched in such a way that reminded Ethan of a stalking cat.
"Well, if it isn't the 'Chosen Ones' themselves," he said approvingly, closing the door behind himself with his guards right beside him. His accent was very pompously British. "Rather unimpressive for world-saviors, aren't they? We'll see soon enough if you live up to your hype. Where are the rest of you? I thought there were supposed to be four- or has the prophecy proven farce already?"
"Ever the faithful believer, Lysander," Fin muttered, rolling her eyes.
"Oh, it's you, I didn't see you there," he said rather snappish, frowning upon Fin with distaste. "The race-crosser."
Fin rolled her eyes, and Wayne, sensing a tense moment, stepped forward to shake his hand, grabbing it firmly in his.
"Link, hi, great to meet you," Wayne joked. "Any luck finding Princess Zelda yet?"
Ethan burst out laughing uncontrollably, barely staying on his own feet, while Lysander was greatly confused.
"My name is pronounced 'Lysander', if you did not hear," he corrected sharply. "And I command you to immediately desist your laughter at my expense or I will order my guards to put your rounded ears in a box on my mantle since you are clearly not making use of them."
He motioned to his even taller guards, who gripped their weapons and put them to each of the boy's throats, making Ethan gasp and quickly hush. Wayne's smile vanished in a flash. Fin frowned at the boys and shook her head in shame.
"What did I just tell you?" she hissed at them. "Don't. Mock. Him."
Seth and Casper purposely trailed behind Kitty, who was humming to herself and walking rather fast for such a small girl. Seth tried to be discreet as he leaned to whisper in Casper's ear.
"So, Caz," Seth hissed. "Did you- I mean, while I was gone… did you and Ro-?"
Casper only answered with a fond smirk, letting Seth assume what he willed.
"Oh, my God, you did!" Seth coughed on his own surprised laughter. "Man, that's low, even for you."
"Like you wouldn't do the same thing?" Casper argued. "And she wasn't that drunk, Seth."
"And you believed her?" Seth replied in incredulity. "The girl was tipping the can even when she was back at our room! Not to mention she was eye raping you all over … She probably would have said anything to get some-"
"Hey- shut up!" Casper snapped, shoving Seth angrily, making Kitty flip her head around to take notice.
"Being a personal bodyguard means I could even have to protect you from each other, you know," Kitty sang out. "Just sayin'."
They continued on in silence for many moments, until Kitty went back to humming to herself again.
"I'll have you know," Casper said in Seth's ear. "That I didn't do anything last night. But now, last week… that happened to be the best night of my entire sexual life. The woman was a goddamn artist. Start picking out curtains, Baby Sethie, I'm sold on this one."
Seth's brow shot up in surprise, and he let out a chuckle.
"Caz, I haven't heard you talk like that since Stacey Lebeau back in the fourth grade."
"Hey, don't mock me, Eversman- I'll pound that smirk right off that baby face of yours. But this… this is different. I think she felt it too."
"I think I know what 'it' was…"
Casper shoved Seth again, but couldn't help but laugh this time. He was in too much of a good mood now to have Seth's lame teasing spoil it.
Kitty knocked on the door and didn't wait for permission to enter. She went about as if she had done this all before.
"Ro," she said loudly, shaking her friend. Ro just mumbled something and didn't move. "RO!" Kitty yelled in Ro's ear, but Ro refused to wake.
"She's out cold," Seth observed.
"Allow me," Casper piped up, kneeling down by her face. He let his eyes fall black and a smile grow on his face, using a bit of his power to stir Ro's mind.
"Should you be doing that?" Kitty said with concern. "Your curse…"
She faded out and Seth nodded at her to assure her that it would be okay.
Suddenly, Ro's eyes flashed open wide, her mouth gasping in a sharp intake of air. Casper just laughed in amusement, still stunningly close to her face, making her pull away to focus.
"Good morning, Sunshine," Casper said with a smile.
"Yay! You're alive!" Kitty exclaimed.
"Oh, man," Ro breathed, holding her head in an assumed hangover. "My head's going to explode this time, I know it."
"I'll bet," Seth agreed, glancing knowingly at the beaming Casper. "That was quite a night you had."
"I wouldn't really know," Ro admitted honestly, sitting up. "I can't remember half of it. Sorry, what's ya'lls names again?"
Seth almost laughed out loud as he watched as Casper's expression plummet to the floor. All the blood drained from his face and his brow furrowed in dismay.
"You don't remember me?" Casper asked, his voice squeaking slightly. "Not at all?"
"Can't say I truly do, hon," she admitted, squinting as if trying to remember Casper's face. "Alcohol has a bad effect on us Demi-Gods. Why, did I miss somethin' important?"
Seth lifted a finger to reply.
"Actually, you and he-"
"-Nothing!" Casper cut him off, to the confusion of both girls. "She didn't miss anything! Just you and your lady friends finding us and heading here. Not much. Right, Seth?"
"Oh, yeah, completely boring stuff," Seth promptly played along, giving Casper a confused look out of the corner of his eye. In fact, everyone in the room seemed confused, all except Casper.
"Right…" Ro said at length. "I'm sorry ya'll had to see that side a' me as a first impression, boys."
"You are so going sober right now," Kitty pointed a finger at her accusingly. "Who knows what else you've forgotten."
"I know…" Casper muttered under his breath in utter disdain.