Tiamat – 4

Failha’s nerves were on edge. Her plan could blow up any the minute the Visuvians scrutinized their little “family”. She breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, falling into a meditative mindset to calm herself down. She focused on the feel of the chair against her body as she relaxed into the cushions. She focused on the sound of her intake of breath as she breathed in slowly. She focused on the slight breeze that the fan she had on provided. That lasted for about two minutes as a knock on her for brought her out of her trance.

“Fa?” The muffled voice of Ysabelle sounded from behind the door. “Do you have a minute?”

Failha sighed heavily as she stood up from her chair by the railing on her balcony. She stretched out before heading downstairs. All three of her teammates were sitting in the patio as she got to the landing of the stairs.

All three of them held somewhat straight faces, with Ysabelle having a hint of frustration, while both Lorelei and Titus held their fear somewhat in check.

Titus was the one to speak up first. “What’re we going to do? They’re bound to find out who we are if they look at us closely.”

“They’ve likely already put us through their own checks when we signed up.” Failha said quietly. “So if they’ve not caught on then, I don’t think they’ll catch on now.”

“Right.” Murmured Lorelei as they all looked up at Failha. “So we go with the testing, then what? If one of us turns out to be capable of alien magic?”

“We’ll figure it out if that happens.” Failha responded. “Look, we’ll stick to our plan. We find out what we can about this cult, which now includes this…”

She was at a loss for words to describe the non-humanoid s before continuing. “Whatever these Visuvians are. If we can figure out of this magic is as it sounds or just more science we haven’t understood yet.”

“I also understand your concerns. if it makes you guys feel better, I’m going to be the first too submit to the testing when they get to our house.” She tried to appease the rookies, which seemed to work somewhat as Titus and Lorelei visibly relaxed.

“According to Xavier, we’ve got about an hour before the Visuvians get here. I think we rest up so we’re prepared for whatever happens.” Titus said, looking at Failha for confirmation. She nodded in response.

“Titus is right. We’ll get ready before they get here and make sure we don’t reveal ourselves.” Failha added. Everyone nodded and began heading back inside the house.

Failha stayed out on the patio, watching the artificial but very convincing clouds roll by. Taking a deep breath, she moved to a relaxed sitting position and began her meditative exercise once again. The next hour passed by in quiet as she gathered her thoughts.

“Miss Al`keitra? Our guests are in the neighbors house. Xavier had wanted me to let you and the rest of the family know.” Rico said from behind her.

“Thank you, Rico. Will you let everyone else know, and tell them to get ready as well.” She replied softly as she retrieved herself from the calming void of her meditation.

“At once ma’am.” intoned the manservant, then he was gone up into the house.

Failha sighed, rising up with somewhat stiff muscles from staying still for too long. It didn’t take too long for the rest of the team to gather in the living room, waiting for the Visuvians.

A knock on the door sent a jolt through everyone, including the staff. Xavier made for the front door before Failha could ask.

The Visuvians that entered were taller than Failha had anticipated, standing almost a good seven feet tall. Their arms, all four were about the same length and were all normal except there were two extra.

It seemed that there were only two of them present as Failha heard the door close. The one in the lead was a tall female with white hair and a light tan. She had her hair held back by a band that held it in place. She had a leather armor on, from shoulder pads to vambraces, to shin guards.

Behind her, clinking armor sounded as Xzarxl appeared, almost dominating the room as he stepped into the living room. A full foot taller and broader than the females of his kind, the leader looked around and spotted Failha.

“Greetings, Failha Al`keitra of the Seattle Washington. I am he known as Xzarxl. This is my companion Marxl. I understand that you are the leader of this group of kin?” The deep rumble of his voice was impressive up close and personal.

Failha stood up and offered a hand to shake. The large four-armed male stared at the hand quizzically before recognition spread across his face. “Ah, yes my apologies, Failha Al`keitra. Human greetings have plenty of variance that it is sometimes difficult to remember which is a greeting.” One of the large muscle bound arms stretched out, his hand closing around hers tightly and giving her a strong handshake.

“Do you have greetings from your people?” She asked nonchalantly. Xzarxl seemed to be surprised by the question, but then recovered with hearty laughter.

“Yes we do, Failha Al`keitra.” He said as indicated the only other Visuvian in the room. The female Visuvian turned to him, regarding him before nodding and stepping closer. Despite being a head taller, they touched foreheads with eyes closed. They parted the next moment. “Thank you for asking. We understand from our observations that humans value a thing called personal space and as such have learned to not violate such space.”

“That’s good.” Whispered Ysabelle quietly from behind Failha.

“Thank you for being considerate and gracious too us humans. Now, shall we continue on to business?” Failha stated plainly.

“Of course, on towards business. Now, which of you will first undergo the trial of blue fire?” The large four-armed male said. A pleased smile streaked the corner of his mouth, his upper arms resting behind him while the lower ones were folded across his massive chest.

“That sounds ominous. Is it dangerous?” That was Titus this time. His voice seemed to hold sincere curiosity and worry at the mentioned trial.

“It is not, Titus Al`keitra. I am told that for humans who do not possess such capacity for magic and sorcery, it feels akin to a light but pleasant shock running through your body.” Xzarxl replied in earnest. His demeanor changed to a more relaxed one as the questions came out.

“I see, and what if someone has the ability for magic?” Titus added.

“We have found two so far. They report the feeling of elation. This is much the same effect my kind has when accessing the energies of creation.” The large make paused, then added. “My mages conducting the trials with others are on the process of doing the same. We expect a dozen or so mages from this population.”

“What happens to those that have the capacity for magic?” Lorelei piped up from across the coffee table in the middle of the room.

“We provide them the opportunity to hone and master such an ability, if they so desire, Lorelei Al`keitra.” The answer came from a light and pleasantly melodic voice of the female Visuvian, Marxl. “I along with my mages will train them.”

“Okay. I guess I volunteer?” Titus said with a hint of hesitation.

“Then we shall proceed to the trial. Please follow me Titus Al`keitra.” Xzarxl said, indicating the back of the house with Marxl already heading there. Titus nodded then turned to the rest of the team and offered a nod then headed after Marxl. He was shortly followed by Xzarxl.

After a few moments, they disappeared into the back patio. Failha regarded her two wards present. Ysabelle was on her phone, a crease crossing her forehead. On the other hand, Lorelei looked relaxed and even a little bored.

“Ma’am, should I fetch refreshments for everyone? The Visuvians apparently adore sweets.” Enunciated Xavier, who was standing by the line that separated the foyer and living room.

“That’d be wonderful Xavier. Maybe some chocolates if we have them. They can eat chocolates, right?” Failha replied, not sure how to handle the conversation.

“Yes, they do take delight in chocolates.” Xavier said matter-of-factly.

“Thank you, Xavier. That should do then.”

“Hey Fa. What are we going to do if one or more of us turns up magical. God that sounds weird, even with all these capes flying around.” Ysabelle said, her tone convincingly frazzled. She was reclined back on the sofa across Lorelei, who was now looking towards the back with interest.

“Well, we’ll have to have them train their gifts, otherwise it would be such a waste.” Failha said, and what she didn’t say also mattered.

We have no choice.

“That’s fair.” Added Lorelei, not even bothering to turn her head to the conversation. “I wish I could have that. That’d be grand.”

Twenty five minutes passed in relative silence, only interrupted by Xavier’s arrival with chocolates and coffee and tea for the table. Then Titus showed up, a weird expression worn across his face.

“Greetings. Your male kin, Xavier Al`keitra does possess the magical capability to wield the powers of creation, Failha Al`keitra. Myself and Marxl have decided to wait for the conclusion of the trial to be completed for all of your kin before we offer training to those capable of using this ability. ” Xzarxl said as Titus sat down, eyes a little wide.

“How do you feel, Ti?” Asked Lorelei, concern written plainly on her face.

“They were not kidding when they said that you feel elation. I was expecting almost a taser experience, and instead.” Titus paused, a grin erasing his confused demeanor moments prior “Man that was eye opening.”

Everyone in the room save for the two Visuvians and Titus had a concerned look on their faces. Failha was the first one to recover as she stood up. “Titus, I’m so glad!” Her feigned exhilaration was not too fake, as some part of her was glad that such skill would open up a world of possibilities for this young man whom she considered a friend.

A round of congratulations then spread from everyone in the household, taking after Failha’s lead. When everyone was a little more settled, Xzarxl spoke again with his baritone voice. “Who shall be the next to participate in the trial?”

“I want to go next.” Piped Lorelei almost immediately. She was already standing up and before anyone could react, was gone. Both Xzarxl and Marxl looked pleased and immediately followed suit after recovering from their surprise.

Titus seemed to switch from a somewhat confused state to a stupor. He sat down and looked around, his eyes then settling on Failha.

“I’m not supposed to speak of anything about the trial itself and they cast a spell that binds me to that, which they said would lift when the offer to study magic has been made. They said it’s a spell of honor and will not hurt me but will absolutely cut me off from utilizing magic if I break it.” Alarm bells rose from within Failha’s mind, and judging by the look that Ysabelle had, she did too. “I feel fine before we jump to any conclusions by the way.” Added the young man.

“Okay. I trust your judgement on this. I guess we wait.” She replied. Ysabelle looked to have more questions and also looked somewhat afraid. But she kept silent. Failha watched Titus carefully, one of concern rather than suspicion. In the month that she’d known him, she figured out that he was a standup, caring, and all-around great guy. She felt no reason to think otherwise now.

It was Ysabelle who broke the silence about twenty minutes into Lorelei’s testing. “Okay. What can you talk about that happened then?”

“I’m not sure. It was a pleasant experience. I did feel something coursing through me during the trials. It wasn’t my power though, that much I’m sure.”

“Did you feel afraid at any point?” Failha interjected as she readjusted her sitting position to one that leaned closer to the young man.

“No. Not at all. It was like taking a final nerve-wracking but not afraid.” He said in a whisper as he seemed to recollect the events about an hour past. Failha nodded at this, while Ysabelle stared.

“You’ll be fine” Failha said as she turned her attention to her teammate. “I will make sure if that.”

Ysabelle nodded, a small smile crept across her worried face as Failha tried to reassure her. It wasn’t long after this when Lorelei returned. She had a look of glee in her eyes as she walked over to the rest of the group.

“More of your kin is blessed with the gift, Failha Al`keitra.” Xzarxl stated as he approached the group. “She has the most potential from those that have undergone the trial by our hand.”

“Well done, young one.” Marxl added as she stepped up next to Xzarxl.

Ysabelle smiled, embracing the excited Lorelei. “This is so awesome!” Said Lorelei gleefully.

“Can I go next?” Asked Ysabelle, all the fear and nervousness from earlier pushed away. The duplicating hero looked to Failha for confirmation. She nodded in response.

“Come, child. Let us see if you possess the same potential.” Xzarxl said as he turned to let the brown-haired woman through. He and Marxl followed after Ysabelle and were gone in short order.

“So we’re two for two, huh?” Failha asked her two teammates that sat in front of her. They both nodded. Ysabelle’s glee seemed to be infectious as Titus seemed to relax and a smile crept on the corners of his mouth.

“That was so amazing. This is definitely going to help us big time.” Lorelei said, seemingly making a point.

Us as in the team?

Failha’s silent question was answered by Lorelei, as the younger woman looked directly into her eyes. “It’s going to be great for my abilities.”

The implications of it didn’t get lost with Failha. The knowing look and that cocksure grin told her that Lorelei already has ideas cooking in her head. Before they knew it, the three that had left were back. Ysabelle wandered in with a stiff expression displayed. Failha feared the worst. To the dragon-heroine’s relief, Ysabelle livened up the situation with her words.

“I guess I won’t have a career show in Las Vegas.” Titus looked confused, whereas both Failha and Lorelei immediately picked up on the joke.

“You might make it as a show girl.” Lorelei retorted.

The conversation melted away as the rather imposing male along with the slender female Visuvian stepped towards the group. “It is rather unfortunate that the young lady, your kin, did not possess the ability for magic, Failha Al`Keitra.” Xzarxl stated in a surprisingly somber voice. He stepped back a bit, making a path between himself and Marxl as he held his upper arm indicating the back of the house.

“It is your turn.” Marxl added softly.

Failha did not need to be told twice as she nodded to her allies and stood up. She made her way to the back of the house, into the patio. She noted the symbols and circles that were etched on the patio floors. There seemed to be space inside the circle, and one outside the circle.

She did not move further into the patio, standing at the edge right by the door. Marxl stepped past her then took a cross-legged meditation pose on the outer circle. The gruff voice of Xzarxl came from her other side as he spoke.

“Please, situate yourself in the center.” The large four-armed male said as he closed the patio doors. The male was imposing up close like this, but Failha wasn’t some frail woman. She nodded, stepping over to the middle of the circle, careful not to step on any of the etchings on the ring around it. She stood stock still inside the round etching, facing Xzarxl as she did.

“Now what?” The tone a little harsher than she expected as it came out. She watched the male’s expression. Being of a different race, she wasn’t quite sure if their facial expressions were the same as humans.

“Please, sit within the circle keeping within the inner circle. All you need is to sit and wait until Marxl tells you to follow her instructions.” The male said with a nod. She sat down, crossing her legs the same way Marxl did without any fuss and waited.

It was two minutes exactly after she sat down that Xzarxl and Marxl frowned at each other, with the large male crossing both arms as he did so.

“Tell us, Failha Al`keitra, how are you feeling?” It was Marxl who broke the silence. She held a steady and unreadable gaze as she waited for an answer.

“I feel… fine? I don’t feel anything different.” She replied in earnest as both Visuvians kept a close eye on her. “Is this normal?”

Xzarxl looked to Marxl who nodded and stood from her position in her circle and stretched out. The male then levelled a gaze that likely would have broken anyone not used to fighting villains and threats on an almost daily basis.

“It seems that you are resistant to magic. This is not something that we have encountered outside of what you would call a dragon.” The last word frozen her blood in place.

“Dragons?” She tried to play it off as a startled realization that dragons exist, rather than she had powers that let her turn into one. “You’re saying dragons exist?”

“Yes. Why would they not, Failha Al`keitra?” The large male asked quietly as he stepped inside the ritual circle and offered her a hand to help her up. She accepted the help and stood tall.

“Once we have completed the trial on all members of the congregation, we will share with you all we know.” That was Marxl this time. She had stood over the lines of the ritual circle, talking without looking at her. “For now, you may rejoin your kin.”

Failha began heading back to the living room, uncertain of what’s to come next.