The branches sway with the air,
The warmth of the sun shines with care,
The soil beneath grows with life,
as the waves clash as to be with strife.
-Old Woman Yacama
"You must go to them, child." Old Woman Yacama said once Kathering had told her tale.
"What? Now?" Kathering exclaimed. "By now they might be-"
"Fighting their greatest enemy without the comrade they need most." the old woman finished. "I have had visions of your adventures, together with and separated from your friends. It could only have come to this. But they need you, too, young Kathering, and the gift I am going to give you."
"What gift are you going to give me?"
"A gift for all of you." the old woman stood up, and moved to place her fingers on Kathering's forehead. "A gift of knowledge. " she leaned forward and whispered. "When you open your eyes, you will find yourself beside the ones you trusted and the one you did not."
"What?" Kathering felt her eyes closing, though she had not even thought of doing so.
"The mind of one and the mind of another.
Time and place, sister and brother.
The things I give you from a part of my life,
will help to end the land's pain and strife."
Kathering gasped as Yacama's gift of knowledge flooded her mind. The things she had missed. . . . .Soren. . . Thomas. . . .Roland and Derek and Kiandra. . . . Jon. . . .and Gwen! They would all be in terrible danger right now, as they faced the Lords. Only she could help them now. It wasn't Old Woman Yacama's place to go there.
"Go to them now, my dear child. Be gone!"
"You!" Derrick exclaimed, pointing at the only young face among the Magister Lords. "Matteo, what are you doing? What happened to our father?"
"He's not dead, don't worry." Matteo Keane replied airily. "I've simply taken his place for now. The old Lords are very. . . .persuasive when it comes to matters of the people-"
"You are very annoying." Kiandra snapped. "Cut the chatter, and let's have someone with a better demeanor tell us the terms for this fight."
"Kiandra!" Derrick tried to shush her.
"The Aymrae princess, hmm? I think I'm going to enjoy this." Matteo chuckled. "I can't believe you two ended up together after all. The will of the Magister Lords will reign even among the rebels." he began to laugh.
"What does he mean?" Kiandra asked cautiously.
"Nothing." Derrick snapped. "Are we going to fight or aren't we?"
"Keane's right." Soren stepped forward. "Are we going to fight?"
"I knew your destructive nature would get the better of you." Lord Pelastor glared at Soren. "Too bed we must destroy one of our finest Guaridans. Not to mention my only heir." his eyes turned to Jonathon, then to Roland. "And the last of the Grey family. I never thought I would see one of those again. And. . . .oh?" Pelastor's eyes came to rest on Gwen. "So, Arkham didn't manage to keep you locked up as tight as I thought he would."
Derek felt his cheeks burn in shame as Lord Pelastor asked Gwen,
"Do you know what happened to you, witch?"
"I do." Gwen pushed past Derek and the others. "And I know who is responsible. I know everything."
Pelastor took a step back.
"You will surrender." Gwen ordered. "You will surrender and you will go away from here forever."
Lord Pelastor took another two steps back, and then began to laugh. "Do you think it's that easy?" he demanded. "So you know your powers. You know everything. That is where you are wrong, witch. Your doctor Arkham didn't just experiment on you for the fun of it, you know! His grisly habit has proved quite useful."
"What have you done?" Jon screamed at his father.
Derrick barely heard his friend's screams. Gwen's Command magic hadn't worked on Pelastor. So he, Matteo and the rest of the Lords were. . .
"Gwendolyn, everyone, get back!" Derrick grabbed Gwen and Jon and pulled them away just as a blast of magic sent them all flying.
"What's going on?!" Soren quickly put up a wind barrier, blocking the Lords from the group so that they could formulate a plan.
The Magister Lords began to leer and taunt, calling the group cowards, renegades, anything to rile their opponents into action.
"Keane! What's happening?"
"Derrick!" Jon grabbed his friend's shoulder. "Focus! What's going on?"
"The Lords had Arkham make them impervious to Command magic." Derrick explained. "But that should be impossible. Unless. . ." he tried to think. "He couldn't have!"
"Well, do you have any sort of plan? We don't exactly have much time!" Soren lurched forward as another blast hit his wind barrier.
"Just fight them, and try to coordinate. Don't let them surround us! I'll try to think. . .Wait!"
"You have a plan?" Kiandra asked.
"Yes. I'll deal with my brother. Gwendolyn, we'll need some help. Move things around here. Shake it all up. Try and make it work to our advantage. Kid," Derrick grabbed Thomas by the shoulders. "do your absolute best to protect Gwendolyn while she does this. Use anything you can, fair or otherwise. Do you understand me?"
After seeing Thomas nod his head, Derrick turned to the rest of the group. "Kiandra, work with Roland and focus on your father and Lord Atwell. Jon, you're on your own. Lightning would be good if we need a diversion."
"Got it!" "I'll do my best." Roland and Kiandra ran to face their opponents.
"You'll be fine?" Jon asked.
"Alright." Jon turned and walked, with a surprisingly calm air, towards his father.
"What about me?" Soren asked.
Derrick sighed, putting up his hand to reinforce the wind barrier. "Arkham should be somewhere nearby. Find him, and don't let him out of here alive."
"Are you sure?"
Derrick nodded. "If Matt wasn't here, I'd go myself. One more person on our side would be ideal since the five of them are so powerful, but I'm not sure when we lost track of-"
A third blast of magic hit the barrier.
"Never mind! Just get to it!" Derrick exclaimed, swearing in surprise as he felt his hand burning. "Be careful! They have destructive threads in their magic!"
"Let's do this!" Soren lowered the barrier, and Derrick dashed forward to fight his older brother.
He use his magic to scoop of a few small pockets of earth and threw them at Matteo, who all but flicked them aside with what looked like wind magic.
Derrick decided to test this, and send another blast. Matteo flicked them aside again, and Derrick felt the presence of forced magic, with ruled out anything elemental. The presence of forced magic had been all over Arkham when he captured Gwen and the others. In this cavern that presence was so strong, it was like a great stench.
Another person on their side would most definitely be ideal if the Lords had this much strength.
Kathering opened her eyes and found herself watching a battle.
The Magister Lords? And her friends! It suddenly hit her. The knowledge.
Thomas and Gwen were nearby. Now where was-
Kathering jumped out of the way, shreiking in surprise as Derrick flew backwards and hit the wall.
Yup. The one she didn't trust was there, too. Now she had to trust him more then anyone.
Derrick sat up, rubbing the back of his head. Matteo had never been that strong before!
"Hey, are you okay?" he felt a hand shaking his shoulder.
"Kathering?" Derrick blinked in surprise. "What- How did you- When-"
"Calm down. Hold still while I. . . . .explain." Kathering put her hand on Derrick's forehead. "Just try not to fight it."
Derrick nodded, trying to keep his breathing even as Kathering's message flooded into his mind at that instant. Her journey. . . .an old woman. . . .some information. This old had the power of Sight, and had seen them. She had something for them that would help them win, which could only have been delivered through Kathering.
Derrick gasped for air as the information shocked him. Of course!
"Derrick Keane, you fool!" he whispered, kicking himself mentally."Why didn't I think of it? Thomas!" he pushed Kathering away and ran towards the teenage boy guarding Gwen.
"No, wait, I wasn't finished!" Kathering called, chasing Derrick and dodging blasts of magic.
Derrick stood in front of Thomas. "Go to Kathering. I'll take it from here. You have to explain it to him! There's not much time!" he pointed at Kathering, who glared at him impatiently.
"I wasn't finished. The memory transfer isn't complete." she walked over to Derrick and Thomas, touching their foreheads. "This shouldn't take long. Gwen, sweetie, can you shake things up a little for them?"
"Please." Kathering begged. "There's not much time."
"Alright." Gwen said in a small voice, turning towards the battle, which they were now losing, and set herself on fighting Matteo.
Roland was trying to distract Lord Aymrae and Lord Atwell, while Kiandra ran around the room throwing various attacks, Soren had just been cornered by the crazy doctor Arkham, and Jon seemed to be having some sort of stare down against Lord Pelastor.
Derrick mentally kicked himself a second time as he received the last part of the message from that old woman. What he was also capable of. . . But it might kill him!
"Is that how it has to be?" he asked.
Kathering nodded. "If we're lucky, you'll survive it, too. Can you do it?"
Derrick ran a hand through his hair, nervous. "I can try. They're powerful from all the infusion Arkham as done, but I'll do my best. Just do me a favor." he pulled a pendant from around his neck and handed it to Kathering. "Anything goes wrong on my end, this goes to Kiandra."
"Isn't that her-"
Derrick shook his head. "This one's mine. She has a right to know about it."
Kathering nodded, a little confused. "I see. I'll make sure to keep it safe."
"Thanks." Derrick tried to smile. "Now, you should probably stand back."
"You mean watch your back." Thomas said. "If I can do what you two think I can, then this will work out. . . . probably. My dad'll be proud of me, too."
"I know he always was."
Derrick barely heard Kathering's reply, closing his eyes as he began to recite the most powerful spell in existence.
"The hands of time grow still, so does one's mind."
Derrick felt magic flow through him.
"A single day of truth, a thousand blatant lies."
He felt a sudden boost of energy. Kathering or Gwendolyn?
"A natural heart should produce natural blood,"
Derrick paused for one second before opening his eyes and saying,
"Let every altered body take it's original form."
Derrick felt all energy drain out of him faster then he thought possible. He could barely breathe. There was a lot of screaming. Was that Gwendolyn holding his head up? And Thomas shaking his hand? Maybe it was Soren or Roland rushing over to see him, but he couldn't tell the way his vision was suddenly blurring. . .
At least they were rushing to him and not sending spies after him.
As his consciousness left him, Derrick took in the faces of the group he had come so far with, who had surrounded him and taught him so much. It was a welcome sight. Perhaps they had won because of him.
Perhaps the people of the land, as well as his friends, had been saved from a worse fate.
The Magister Lords writhed in pain as the magical alterations left their bodies.
"What are we going to do about them?" Gwen asked.
"Killing them all seems like a good option, especially that weird doctor." Roland pointed over his shoulder at Arkham.
Jon shook his head. "We're not barbarians. They'll be brought to trial like any other criminal once we take them back."
Roland shrugged. "Whatever you say, Your Highness."
"Highness, indeed." Jon snapped. "I barely did anything." he looked down at his friend, lying unmoving on the cold rock floor.
"He's not. . . . gone, is he?" Kiandra asked nervously.
Kathering leaned down and put her ear against Derrick's chest. "I think I hear a heartbeat. It's faint, but it's there. He's alive. Thank goodness." she added, sitting up.
"Of course he's alive!" the group turned in surprise to look at Soren. "Do you think he'd die on us just like that? He'll pull through simply to spite the odds of dying." the former Guardian began to laugh, relieved.
"He has been quite rebellious for most of his life." Jon remarked.
"How did I do, Kathering?" Thomas piped up. "Did what you asked me to do. . .work? I think it did, but. . . . "
Kathering smiled and nodded, putting a hand on Thomas's shoulder.. "It worked, Thomas. Taking hold of the water in Lord Keane's body was tricky, but you did it. You managed quite well."
"Prince Matteo isn't a Lord. He's a stand-in." Kiandra corrected.
"Oh!" was Kathering's reaction.
"So, how did you get here, Kathering?" Roland asked.
Kathering shrugged. "Its a long story. I'll tell you all once this mess is dealt with. For now. . . " she gestured towards the Magister Lords. "they need to be dealt with. Gwen, Thomas and I can take care of Derrick. The rest of you should restrain the Lords before the spell finishes and they try something. Especially Arkham and the. . . .stand-in."
After quick nods of agreement, Jon, Soren and Roland went to work, having found some rope that, for some reason, Arkham had left in a small tunnel nearby. Maybe he meant to collect a bloody memento or two.
"Oh, Kiandra!" Kathering jumped to her feet. "I nearly forgot. I have something for you."
"Yes?" Kiandra asked uncertainly.
"You should give this back to Derrick the next time you see him awake. He wanted you to have it if he didn't make it." Kathering handed Kiandra a pendant identical to the one around the Magistra's neck.
"Er. . . .thanks." Kiandra stared at the pendant, eyes wide, before looping the chain over her head and walking off to help take the Magister Lords.
They had a job to do, and country to reclaim once they made it to the surface.
The branches sway with the air,