The morning rays started to penetrate the night sky when they finally reached the gates of the Capital. To their pleasant surprise James was waiting for them patiently at the front of the gate. The carriage started to slow down and Lady Zula threw up the door. "Morning my Lady, sire and young miss, my I join you on your trip to the Estate?" He asked as he bowed. "I would never turn down a bodyguard." Lady Zula said as she flash a cheeky smile. James coughed and graciously walked in, sitting beside a moderately different Ariana. The shock barely flashed in his eyes as he kept his poker face in place.
The carriage didn't start moving again until the gate was pulled up and they were cleared for passage. "James how is mother?" She asked as Ariana threw herself on to James and snuggled up against his arm. "Not well, she has been getting a lot of pressure from the council lately. Rumours are going around about some wicked beast that killed members of the church two years ago. She has been fighting them off claiming that it was negligence on their part for not filing the paper work two years ago but suddenly documentation surfaced. It looks like it was back dated, we are waiting to hear from our magician contacts in the archives if they were able to authenticate the document."
"Thank you James." Lady Zula said as she looked at Zachary with a worried expression. "They knew she woke up..." She said as Zachary started to stroke his chin. "Inside job? A spy perhaps?" Lady Zula shook her head no. "I don't want to believe it was one of my girls but we just proved they were watching us.... and we held such a big meeting in the cafe. Ugh! I feel so stupid!" James watched the two as Ariana moved off of James and pouted while looking out the window. "If I may be so bold Ma'am can I offer you some advice?" James said as he moved his hand on top of Ariana's head and started ti ruffle her hair. "Please!" Lady Zula and Zachary said together with such desperation that it caught him off guard.
"Schedule a meet and greet with the high Council. With the surfacing of these so called documents, it seems that they are creating trouble. As if they want this obvious ruse to be seen through.... but the question is why? Do they think that you would be oblivious enough to bring the young Miss here just to see them on their terms? I suggest beat them to the punch and catch them off guard." Lady Zula leaned back into her seat and sighed. "Your right... the high Council is up to something sinister and we can't let them dictate our every move. Mother is also doing everything she can to stop this meeting from happening but I guess we are running out of time.... how long before the documents are authenticated?" James planted a kiss on Ariana's forehead after she successful tidied up her hair and looked at Lady Zula with a pitiful face. "Another week at most."
"Sh*t" Zachary said as he slammed his fist against the wall of the carriage. "Can we not buy some more time? Say we do beat them to the punch, can we ask for a date well in advance and registered Ariana for the Academy exams first. I mean she has us and mom to protect and back her but if the Academy were to find her invaluable then that's a game changer right?" Lady Zula wrapped her arms around her brother and started kissing him all over the face. "You are a genius! That's it! We need to get mom to talk to the board and have Ariana take the exam! If she scores close to perfection they will want her right away!"
"No they won't." Ariana said as she leaned onto James' shoulder. "Cayden had gotten close perfect marks and it still took months for him to be enrolled." Lady Zula and Zachary deflated as the sunk into their seats. James brought his hand up again and rested it on top of her head. Ariana waited for James to make the first move but after a few minutes she decided it was a gesture of comfort rather the distraction. Ariana looked at her mother and Lady Zula could see her gears turning. "I have an idea but I want to talk to grandmother first." She said as she gave them a broad smile. "And I have to say I don't see her refusing what I have to say."
It wasn't long before they reached the Estate. Everyone dismounted and James took the carriage to the stables. "Deagen please come inside. Have a hot meal, drink, spend a couple of nights with us before you head back." Zachary said as the main doors opened. "I will take you up on the gracious offer." He said as he flashed a charming smile and walked towards Leigh. Ariana laughed as she watched Leigh's cold attitude completely stupify Deagan in his tracks. "Leigh where is grandmother? I would like to speak with her right away." Leigh nodded her head towards the general direction as she kept her emotionless face in place. "in the study." Ariana gave her thanks and rushed off, Lady Zula and Zachary following closely behind her. While Deagan went followed Leigh to his room so he could kick his wounds.
"Grandmother!" Ariana shouted as she pushed the doors open. An elegant looking Countess was sitting leisurely in her wingback chair as she wore her favourite sheer nightgown and ideally sipping a steaming cup of tea, while documents were in her other hand. Her right eyebrow shot up and she looked at everyone with a crooked smile as she out the documents and tea on the coffee table before her. "Finally, you made it. I have to say with every ounce of sincerity... these last couple of weeks have been hell."
Ariana laughed as she rushed over and gave her grandmother a hug and a kiss. "You've gotten so big!" She said happily as she hugged her granddaughter back. "I know it shocked me too! I have a butt and a rack! I think I did pretty well myself but I know I have some more growing to do." Ariana replied as Zachary coughed his embarrassment. He decided to walk away from the conversation and grab some chairs for everyone to sit in. "Zachary are you okay?" The Countess asked as looked over at Zachary as he sat himself down in a plush wingback chair. He nodded his head slowly and started sweat profusely.
"I heard what was happening from James and I think I came up with a solution." Ariana said with a stoic face making the Countess move her gaze from Zachary to her. "Really now?" The Countess replied with a mischievous smile that sent chills down the siblings backs. "Yes. First will be a perfect score on the entrance exams." The Countess looked unimpressed and leaned back into her chair. "Already thought of that and even then," She started to say but Ariana gave her sly smile. "Second, I provide them with a ground breaking theory that could better the lives of all. Even give them a model and marketing plan." The corners of the Countess's lips started to twitch. She elegantly picked up her cup of tea trying to distract her mind and mask her smile as she sipped.
Ariana caught her reaction and new she was heading into the right direction but she knew it wasn't enough. "Lastly, I catch and tame the Thunderbird." The Countess was completely caught off guard and started to choke of her tea, while Zachary and Lady Zula both yelled their objections. "Ariana! There is no way I am letting you move forward with this plan!" Lady Zula yelled as the Countess stared the girl down as she neatly cleaned up her mouth with a handkerchief. "That is quite the ambitious plan. How can you be so sure you can catch and tame the Thunderbird?" Ariana moved to pour herself a cup of tea and gracefully sat back in her chair. "I need your help with that grandmother."
"Do you now? I don't think I could offer you anything considering my men have been working on trying to capture the Thunderbird for many years and we haven't even come close, despite what the high Council wants people to think." Ariana smiled and held up five fingers. "As long as I get your cooperation, it will take five no four weeks to accomplish the whole thing." The Countess started laughing whole heartedly as she wiped away her tears. "You haven't changed! I don't even know why I was even worried!" Ariana kept her face void of emotions. "You might still have to worry about me just a little. I plan to meet the earth elemental before I try to capture the Thunderbird." The Countess stopped laughing immediately and looked at Lady Zula. "She knows everything, actually she knows more than I do." Lady Zula said as she dropped her gaze.
"So it's true then." The Countess mumbled as she clutched the arms of the wingback chair. "Yes and me killing members of the Church is also true." The Countess started to rip the fabric with her nails as her grip strengthened. "So it's a matter of time before they come for you... that's why the weird message... Ariana tell me exactly what happened."
It took almost no time for Ariana to retell everything she experienced and learnt from that night to the moment she awoke. The Countess started to pace the room, deep in thought. "Romanoff, that slime ball Lord. He profits the most if the church moves forward with whatever plans he has... but Ariana do you really want to speak to the earth elemental... I mean wouldn't this push you further into whatever plan they have for you?" Ariana sighed as she brushed her hair behind her ears. She was wearing beautiful stud earrings on both ears. Her right ear, from bottom up was a pink stone, a purple stone and a green stone while the left had a red stone, a blue stone and a yellow stone. "Alright come out." She said in a monotone voice.
The earrings started to shake and streaks of light shot outwards. The Lumas had happily taken their forms and were frolicked around. "Aroha, how bad will it be if I seek out the earth elemental?" Ariana said quietly as she listened to Aroha as she flapped all over the place and periodically pecked at Ariana's head. After she was done whatever she was saying Ariana clapped her hands together and gave everyone a bright smile. "She says I will be fine!" Everyone in the room collapsed. "Ariana don't you dare lie!" Lady Zula said as she clenched her fist in front of her and a noticeable vein appeared above her right eyebrow.
"It will be fine, I just... have... to... blem blah blue blah." The three looked at her in utter shock. "I'm sorry can you repeat that again just a tad louder." Zachary said as he brought up his hand and indicated with his fingers the amount of volume needed. "I said I will be fine. As long as I mehe mehe muhbb." Ariana said as she muffled the last bit by covering her mouth with her hand. Lady Zula snapped and stormed over to her. She grabbed her hands and pulled them straight down as she stared into Ariana's eyes. "Say it again but clearly." Ariana sighed and dropped her gaze. "She said that I will be fine but I need to know there might be a chance that I will slip into the chrysalis state again because I just woke up."
"No this plan is too dangerous!" Lady Zula said as she released Ariana. "We can't let you do this." Lady Zula then turned to her mother for more help but the Countess averted her gaze. She then looked at Zachary and he had started to grip the arms of the chair. "Can you not take on the Thunderbird in the other form?" He said quietly but to the others it thundered with in the room. Ariana looked at her Lumas for guidance and it was Davita that nodded her head. "But we run into another problem, I have no idea when I will turn. This will be my very first month after leaving the chrysalis. The odds of it matching to when the Thunderbird is in this area are slim to none, there is also the risk of the church trying to lure me again."
"We wait two months. See when you have your period, make calculations and if we have to lure the beast here we will." The Countess said as she crossed her arms. "How?" Lady Zula said as her body trembled. "This is Evangeline's daughter! We need to make sure her safety is our priority! I couldn't save her when the church took her before graduation, I lost contact with her when I selfishly pursued love and found out she died trying to make sure her baby lived, I can't! I can't let her do this!" Lady Zula cried and Zachary got up and started to comfort her.
"Then what's the alternative? Wait until Romanoff gains more power and strikes our home? Keep Ariana locked up somewhere until what? We eliminate the church? She can't even go to her mother's clan they banished her! Her biological grandmother is presumably dead and what's left? She's a giant liability! She needs to get stronger so she can live in this world without worry Zula! We can't keep her in a cage in a basement somewhere!"
"Mother..." Zachary said as Lady Zula's sobs became louder. "She right... mom you told me to gain power... even though this isn't political I still need a good foundation and defense before I even start to plan my offense... I want to go to school, make friends, find love, start a family and grow old. I don't want to go down a path that is predetermined for me.... and even if I have to, I want to say I have no regrets." Lady Zula tried her best to stop crying but she couldn't stop her sniffing while Zachary held her tight.
"Okay..." was all she said before she got Zachary to release her and she left the room. "I think we will call it a night for now." The Countess said as she approached her. "Have a good night." Then kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room. Zachary and Ariana stared at each other before he broke the silence. "I never thought I would be okay with coming back to this house again but other people are having bigger problems them me and they seem so much stronger for facing them head on. So maybe I should grow up too."
Ariana smiled, got up and walked over to her uncle. She stood up on her tip toes and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Good night uncle." She said before she walked out of the room with her Lumas in tow. She quietly closed the door behind her and looked to her right. She took a deep breath and started to slowly walk down the hall. 'Master where are you going?' Duko asked but Ariana stayed silent.
'Master what are you planning to do?!' Aroha chripped but Ariana waved her away. 'You said you would listen to our advice?! Master were you lying to us?! Master you must take responsibility for your words and become someone who is not so selfish!' Ariana stopped at shot Aroha a strong gaze that demanded obedience. "I did hear your advice and I am acting on a different matter. I would appreciate that you wait and see before you start judging my actions."
The Lumas looked at one another and then turned into light. They gently moved towards Ariana's ears, turning back into stones as they made contact. Ariana felt guilty for scolding Aroha, she could already feel her eyes stinging, warning her that tears were ready to follow. She took another deep breath and started walking again.
When she finally reached the black door with gold trim she raised her hand and gently knocked on the door three times. She waited about a minute before she knocked again. The door abruptly opened and an arrogant looking man stepped out, blocking any sort of view into the room. "What do you want..." He said in a low voice.
Ariana looked up and stared into his amber coloured eyes. "I want you to inspect these." She said as she handed him a red handkerchief with a gold pheonix embroidery in the corner. He pulled at the not and peeled back the fabric. She stared for a while at the two round balls in his hands. "What is the meaning of this?" He said as he torn his gaze from the balls to Ariana. She gave him a devil like smile and cocked her head. "I have a proposition for you."
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