I didn't expect to sleep that night, but I did. I slept soundly, and there were no bad dreams that I recall. Thalion probably had something to do with that. I saw him in the kitchen yesterday, stirring a bubbling liquid in a big cauldron in the open fireplace. It was the hot apple cider that was served with the gingerbread cookies later. There was no reason for him to be in the kitchen, so I assume he either put a sleeping spell on it, or put in some magical Elven herbs. In any case I hoped all of our forces felt as rested as I did. This fateful moment had been a long time coming, and I hoped that everyone was as prepared for it as they possibly could be.
A trumpet playing Reveille woke me in the dark hour before dawn. Our room was bright with gas lit wall sconces. Thalion had already left to assemble the Elven archers on the cliffs. A set of woven Elven armour lay on the back of a chair, for my use. It matched the armour that Thalion wore. A thick layer of protective charms had been laid on every inch of it. I put the whole thing on, expecting it to weigh a lot more than it actually did. Theo, Katha and Layla would gather on the cliff above the shore, to help the Elven archers by using their affinities.
A sharp rap on my window made me jump. I grinned when I saw that it was Llewellyn motioning me to go over there. The window was of the casement type, that opened inwards on side hinges, like a mini door. I opened it, and Llewellyn stuck as much of his face as he could, into the opening.
“Hi, Princess Gloria. I wondered if you would like a steed to fly you down to the shore. The battle lines are being drawn down there now. Shanahan the wizard is about to open a limited breach in the island's protective energy barrier. It will work like a bottleneck, where only some of Van Helsing's horde can get through the opening at one time. We can deal with their larger numbers a bit at a time.”
I frowned. I didn't trust that sneaky wizard Shanahan, one bit. I knew he was hiding a deep secret when he first set foot on the island. His aura was pretty clear about that, but I couldn't tell what it was. I asked the island to keep an eye on him. During the second week after his arrival, he made his way to the highest cliff on the island, overlooking the wild North shore, where hardly anyone ever went. He tried several spells on the barrier surrounding the island, until he opened a gap. Then he conjured up a huge carrier pigeon, and strapped a piece of rolled up parchment to it. After sending the pigeon on its way, he left the cliff and returned the way he came.
Shanahan didn't know that the island was an entity in and of itself. It saw everything that happened on its land mass. As soon as the shifty wizard turned away from the cliff, the island sent a light wind to carry the pigeon inland to the castle, right through Uncle Ben's study window. He always kept it open for the fragrant tropical breezes of the island to float through. He was surprised, to say the least. It was a message to the Van Helsings, saying that Shanahan was on the island, and he was now considered an ally of Ben and Sarah. The message continued, with a detailed coordinate map to find the island. Then he said that he could open a breach in the island's barrier for them.
The island deliberately allowed him to breach the barrier, to see what mischief he was up to. Sure enough, he proved himself to be a back stabbing wretch, no matter how many times he told Ben that he had changed his evil ways.
Uncle Ben showed me the parchment later, and told me everything that had happened, and the island's involvement in it all. The island needed a human caretaker, so that's what Uncle Ben and Aunt Sarah had done for all these years. No one knew how this final battle would go, and if anything happened to them, I would be the one to carry on as the island's human voice. There were others whom the island was willing to work with if something happened to me as well, but I was the island's first choice after Uncle Ben and Aunt Sarah.
All this flashed through my mind as Llewellyn repositioned himself outside my window, so I could climb on his back. A soft leather saddle of sorts had been fitted over the dragon's scales at the back of his neck, just forward of his impressive wingspan. It was tricky, but I was able to use my telekinetic abilities to boost myself out the window into the saddle. With a quick gesture, I pulled the window toward me, to close it.
I leaned forward to put my arms around Llewellyn's neck. I had reins of a sort, but I hated them. I'd rather speak right into the young dragon's ear if I wanted him to change directions. I think he preferred the human contact to the reins, as well. He, Galen and Hardy had become a well loved part of my family. On our way down to the shore, Galen joined us. Although he was a shape shifter, he kept his dragon form most of the time now, as he trained for combat along with the rest of the island's army. He only used his human form inside the castle to eat, or maybe entertain Sarah Morgan and Hardy.
As we flew over the cliffs, the sun peaked up over the the ocean's horizon. The Elven archers were on the cliffs, behind the protective hedge along the edge. Katha and Layla were with them, to use their fire affinities to keep the arrows lit with fireballs as they sped toward the enemy hordes. Theo would guide the arrows with his air affinity, right to their targets, so that none would be wasted or lost in the ocean. Elven war arrows were more than just wood and feathers. Each one was laden with death spells, that killed on contact. The fireballs on the ends would set alight any of the evil horde near the target creature that was hit with it.
I checked the bracelet that Thalion had given me. A blood droplet of everyone I loved was encased in diamond snowflakes. Their stones glowed in different colours, depending on their degree of safety or security. The snowflakes of my mom, Sarah Morgan, and Hardy were a serene blue, safe where they were on Serenity Island. The snowflakes of everyone else glowed crimson with danger. I looked over the ocean to see the island's protective energy field pulsating with the forces of Van Helsing's evil hordes on the other side of it. The dawn of war was upon us.