Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Post of 2010...

I've really been neglecting this blog. You see... everything that was once reserved for Wizard101 now has Zelda to compete with... and LoZ typically wins. Even with fan fiction. The Tale of Sierra Winterbreeze isn't my only story anymore. I've been working on The Blade of Evil's Bane more than anything.

But... Zelda and TToSW aren't the topic of this post. This post is just here to say... Happy New Year!

Okay, I understand it's probably already 2011 where most of you live - I'm pretty sure only Hawaii and Alaska have an earlier time zone than me in the States and Canada. But where I live, it's 11:38pm. Still time for a final 2010 post...



Um, hopefully, like, tomorrowor something, I'll give you updates on Sierra (because you obviously cared so much last post from ebullient comments I received - btw, that's SARCASM; just look at the amount of comments last post, lolz!) and, of course, Part 15 of The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze. I know I expressed my dream of it being completed before the new year... but that didn't happen. At least I can PROMISE to finish it before it's next birthday.

...OMG! That's RIGHT! TToSW is now two years old! *gasp* Yeah, so how many of you have followed it that long, huh? Huh?

...I thought there wouldn't be anyone... XD

Well, my DSi - yes, I typed this WHOLE THING on a DS - is just about out of characters and memory. So good night, and once more -


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from a level 54 Thaumaturge!

Okay, I haven't posted in forever... but Christmas seemed like a good place to begin again.

First off, this time the reason I haven't been posting isn't because of Zelda. ...Okay, it KIND OF is. But I've ACTUALLY been playing Wizard101 now! I'm level 54! :D

...Unfortunately, I don't HAVE any pictures of me at level 54. -.- It's all because I JUST turned 54. I'm just surprised I'm leveling so quickly - and yes, this is QUICKLY for me. Remember? Year to Grandmaster? Yeah. I'm determined to make it UNDER a year for Legendary, though! :D

Um, I have NO MORE time... it's really late. It actually won't be Christmas for much longer. XD

So good night. I'll make a longer post tomorrow... or the next day... or something. O_o

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What I did last night before - wait for it - CELESTIA CAME OUT! :D

Note to self: Don't try and level up your Death character ten minutes before the biggest update since Grizzleheim (possibly even Dragonspyre) is about to come out.

...But I gotta admit, it was pretty fun... XD

Well, it happened last night when I was finishing up my homework (really late, I know), and then Rowan, who happened to be sitting nearby on the OTHER computer, said, "Oh, hey, Wizard101 is closing for maintenance in 15 minutes."

I had promised her help in the Labyrinth (WORST INSTANCE OF DRAGONSPYRE), so I had to get on quick if I wanted to help her...

But pretty much my whole idea of helping went out the window once I saw the front page. All I saw was "CELESTIA IS COMING OUT AFTER MAINTENANCE TONIGHT" and that's when I pretty much realized that...

...I still hadn't done the Selena Gomez quest. O_o

Okay, well, I DID, but that was on my GRAND. My Death Journeyman... actually NEEDS experience. Can actually GET experience.

...So we tried to do it in the ten minutes we had left! :D My sis is so awesome, helping me like she did.

We were HURRYING. I think I've NEVER gone through a quest that fast... even though in the end we didn't finish it. *sob* Every minute, we'd get another message. Here's the two-minute warning while my sister was attacking a Rotting Fodder! XD

Lol. Anyway, then I was JUST going back to the Storm teacher... JUST about to get to go to the underwater place thing (Crab Alley?)... AND THEN THE EVIL MAINTENANCE CAME. LITERALLY as I was walking out the door.

...Although it wasn't ENTIRELY evil, right? IT BROUGHT CELESTIA!

Okay, I got to stop writing this - I WANT TO GET ON WIZARD101. :D

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze - Part 14

I AM SOOOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!!!! I actually finished Part 14 within a decent amount of time! It wasn't a big, huge, long wait... in fact, Part 13 isn't even up on the website yet. Sooo awesome. I'm very proud of myself. :D

...Problem: PART 15.

I'm failing so badly at it... I have such a terrible case of writer's block...

...and for once, my notebook is caught up with my Word document.

You know I keep an irl notebook, and then edit it when I type it up, right? Well, that notebook has always been soooo far ahead of my typed version, that I've always had some idea on there to keep me going.

Not anymore.

*sigh* Weeeelll... enjoy Part 14, guys. Remember - you're my lucky beta readers, so you have to point out ANY mistakes you find. ANY. Even if they're small. Even if something feels rushed or doesn't make sense. Even if you just don't like that paragraph of the story, or the way that character spoke. JUST COMMENT AND TELL ME. I mean, I even made the effort to add the italics this time!

...So, hope you like it! :)

The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze - Part 14

A remote part of me perceived little pieces of information that somehow I could not put together. Nothing gave me a clue at where I was. Nothing seemed definite. The floor would be cold one second, and then searing hot the next, and hard, then plushy and soft. There was some kind of sound around me, but each was different – I could have been in a thunderstorm as much as a peaceful forest.

I think I laid there for almost an hour, but there’s really no way to tell. All I know is that I didn’t stir until I heard a real sound – not the faint, ever-changing ones that I had been hearing thus far. In fact, it sounded like words. Talking.

I groaned – even though the last thing I remembered was teleporting, something else must have happened. I felt stiff, like I couldn’t move, and I was sore all over. A familiar voice instructed, “Stay still,” and I complied. Almost instantly I felt better and opened my eyes.

What I saw would have terrified me, if I hadn’t recognized the faces of the ghostly figures standing over me: Christopher BattleSword, Taryn WildHeart, and Zachary DreamMender, the Past Seekers of Death, Balance, and Life respectively. Zachary had his wand out. At least I thought it was a wand. It was very intricate, with many designs on it, looking awfully advanced. Still, most Masters and Grandmasters I knew used staves and swords, not wands.

Zachary sighed with relief. “Thank Bartleby. We didn’t think you’d make it.”

I scanned the room, and realized that it was the Spiral Tower. But it didn’t impress me like last time. Everything felt so dull and surreal, as if I were still unconscious.

“It really wouldn’t be good if we lost you,” Zachary continued. “Right now, you’re the only leader the Seekers have. And you might be your friends’ only hope.”

Now that I was beginning to become more fully aware of my surroundings, I knew something had to be wrong. Something wasn’t right; I was sure of it.
Zachary was looking at me with concern. “Are you all right? Can you speak?”

“I… I’m fine,” I managed. Another thing I noticed that was strange: the Past Seekers looked false, too. “What’s wrong?”

Zachary frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I think she’s wondering why we’re like this. Don’t you remember? I told you that the only place we can be solid is the Woods of the Past. Everywhere else we’re ghosts,” Taryn explained.

One question answered. But I still had loads of others. “Where are we?” I sat up. I tried blinking numerous times to make everything seem clearer, but it didn’t help.

“You have been to the Spiral Tower, right?”

I nodded. Oh, so then maybe I was just paranoid…

“Well, this isn’t it.”

“It isn’t?” I gasped, confused.

“No. This tower is made by dark magic. We must be careful,” Taryn said.

“It looks just like it, though!” I frowned. “But something is different.” I shook my head. “Never mind. I’m not making any sense. I think my head is still messed up from when I was knocked out. Everything seems so hazy.”

“It’s not only you. It looks that way to me, too,” Zachary uneasily agreed.

“And me,” Taryn added.

“Same here,” Christopher sighed.

“Did Mary send me here?” I inquired.

“Probably,” Taryn said. “I’m sure she teleported you here, but you were rendered unconscious by the dark power surrounding this place.” She frowned slightly. “It’s strange. We can leave and enter this place freely by teleporting, but when we tried to take you with us, nothing happened. You’re stuck here. You and the other Seekers.”

“I’m s-stuck?” I repeated. “But… why?”

She shook her head. “We have no idea.”

I groaned, and finally stood. “Could the reason that you leave be because you’re ghosts?”

“Maybe. But I doubt it.”

“What about the other Seekers? You mentioned them. They’re here, too?”

“Not exactly,” Taryn replied.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“They’re trapped in copies of… of the places you were awakened. Dragon Mouth Cave, Castle of Rain, Pyramid of the Moon… they’ve all been replicated,” Christopher said.
“I’m guessing Jasmine, Seth, and Scarlet are trapped there, as well, aren’t they?” I muttered, more to myself than them. Taryn nodded anyway.

“Well, this is just wonderful.” The sarcasm in my voice was quite obvious. I glared at my surroundings. Would this nefarious copy be my prison?

Then, for the first time I saw a flaw in this replica. The Spiral doors I had seen last time were not there, but there was one single, lonely window right where they had been. “What’s that?” I asked, striding over to it.

“I wouldn’t touch anything,” Zachary warned.

I ignored him and peered out the window. What I saw gave me a small hope that I wasn’t really trapped. Outside, it looked just like inside a Spiral door – nothing but emptiness, stretching out forever.

To my surprise, there was no kind of glass on the window. I leaned over and a thought crossed my mind. A crazy one, but it gave me hope…

“What are you doing?” Christopher demanded.

I climbed over the side of the window, my legs dangling perilously over the side. “This may be the only chance I get,” I said. I turned away, looking down at where I was about to fall. “If I don’t come back, will you, um… tell my family? Not just about this, but about being a Seeker, too.”

“Sierra! Don’t do this. There’s another way out of here. I’m sure of it,” Taryn reasoned.

I glanced at her pleading face for a moment before I said, “I’m sorry. I have to do this. I have to save my friends.”

With those words, I pushed myself off the edge and plunged down into nothingness.


Falling into emptiness isn’t nearly as exciting as you would think.

There was no way of measuring how long I fell, if time even existed in a place like this. There wasn’t any wind rushing around me, intriguingly enough, but I still could feel myself moving somehow. It was like I wasn’t actually seeing anything, but rather sensing it. Still, I was too stunned for the most part to think about any of this. For a while, the only thoughts I had were about how maybe this wasn’t as wonderful, heroic, and brave as much as it was stupid.

Eventually, I felt something approaching. It’s not hard to perceive something when there’s been a whole lot of nothing for so long. But it was still impossible to truly “see” anything beneath me. If it was beneath me at all. I’d lost all sense of direction quite a while back.

Before I knew it, I had slammed into something solid. I gasped, my breath temporarily stolen by the impact. But I wasn’t hurt.

I stood when I was able to and looked up from where I had fallen. There was a strange rocky ceiling, making me wonder where I could be.

When I scanned the area, I caught my breath, realizing this place was familiar. This was Dragon Mouth Cave.

At first I felt like jumping for joy. It worked! I was back in Wizard City!

Unfortunately, like everything else good that happens to me, it didn’t last long.

I rushed back to the exit of the cave, only to find that it was locked. It wasn’t even like when Sydney had been awakened, where everything was frozen; there was only blackness outside, like the nothingness I had fallen from. Surprised, I clasped my hands around the bars, then sighed and sunk to the ground. Of course. I was still trapped.

Now that I looked more carefully, I could still tell that everything looked unclear. I was getting used to it. Weird.

So I was still in some kind of fake world, apparently. Why was I in Dragon Mouth Cave though?

Almost at that exact moment, I heard a scream of terror, like someone feared their life was endangered. I knew the feeling.

I hurried back into the cave, only to find the same scene as before.

Except the dragon statue was gone.

My heart temporarily stopped. Images and emotions from Sydney’s awakening came back to be in a shocking wave. The petrified Golem Court; a roaring dragon statue; and my best friend’s limp body falling through the air.

This time, though, there was no rumbling, no roaring, no Sydney, and nothing but silence. Besides the scream I had heard earlier, the place seemed unperturbed.

There was another oddly different factor here. Where the dragon statue used to be, there was a small cave tunnel, just large enough for a person to crawl into.

Curious and really without any other options, I crouched and entered the narrow tunnel.

Bit by bit it widened, until I found myself in an enormous room. Torches lined the walls, lighting up the area with an almost eerie, flickering light.

Another scream resounded in the cavern. This time it was easier to determine where it was coming from. I sped toward it.

As I proceeded through another hallway-like part of the cave (which, fortunately, was much wider than the last one) I started to hear panting noises, and then speaking. Upon getting closer, they made words. They were muffled, shaky, breathless, and utterly terrified, but definitely words. “Stay… away!” the voice gasped, still breathing heavily. “I know… Fire magic… and I…” An odd growling cut off the voice, and there was another scream, causing me to wince.

Seemingly suddenly, the tunnel broke off into a room once more. In front of me was a perplexing scene – and by perplexing, I mean totally horrifying. Two girls were huddled in a corner. One had her wand held out protectively in front of her, and the other hid behind the first one’s back.

And I knew them.

Sydney JadeHammer… Jasmine IceFlame…

Worst of all, in front of Sydney and Jasmine were the most bizarrely appalling two monsters that I can barely begin to describe. They seemed to be always changing, shifting shapes all the time. Every time I thought I had identified what it was, it transformed again, making me wonder if I had really seen anything. Besides their shape, they were black – pitch black, as if every form of color and life in that area had suddenly been sucked away. The darkness was always coiling with the changing states, like a writhing, misty smoke, searching for prey. I wondered that if you got close enough, if it would drag you in and you’d be lost forever.

I wanted to call out to my friends, but I hesitated. No one had heard me enter – not the creatures, not Sydney, not Jasmine. If I called out, that would change. So instead of drawing attention to myself and facing the wrath of the enemies, I gradually made my way toward them, all the while searching my deck for the perfect card.

I was just coming up behind the monsters. Planning to attempt to catch them off-guard, I raised up my wand and the card I had selected.

“SIERRA!” Jasmine screamed with delight.

I jumped at the noise. The words echoed around the narrow cave: “Sierra! Sierra! Sierra!” I was startled enough that I stumbled backward slightly, and apparently that was enough to announce my presence.

They turned around and snarled, and for a moment one looked remarkably like a Wraith.

“Watch out!” Sydney called. The thing lunged for me. I only had just enough time to leap out of the way. Unfortunately I found myself colliding with the other one. It was unexpectedly solid, not a strange inward-sucking vortex thingy. Well, what do you know?

I started scampering in the other direction. With a quick scan of the room, I didn’t see Sydney or Jasmine. I sighed with relief – if they weren’t here, they were safe.

“Hey!” I glanced behind me and groaned. Sydney was there, and in front of her was an enormous bird made of fire – a Phoenix.

The monsters growled again and ceased chasing me, turning to Sydney’s Phoenix.

“No! Hey, big, ugly, whatever-you-are’s! I’m over here! Look at me!” I shouted, waving my arms to get their attention.

They registered the Phoenix as a larger threat, or maybe as more satisfying prey. Either way, they ignored me.

I watched a battle ensue. The Phoenix flew around the cavern, dodging the creatures’ wild lunges. After a while of a deadly game in which the creatures continuously jumped and failed to catch the Phoenix, the things transformed again. This time, instead of the constant, subtle changes, it was very obvious that their form was shifting. From its “back” sprouted grotesque, black wings, as black as the rest of its body. It leaped into the air and snarled. Realizing the danger Sydney’s Phoenix was in, I whipped out my own spell card and summoned an Ice Wyvern, the only thing I could offer.

My Wyvern lent aid by sending up beams of ice. It didn’t help much; the evasive creatures were good a dodging. While Sydney concentrated on sending commands to her Phoenix, Jasmine and I conjured up as many shields as we had – after all, weren’t Thaumaturges masters of defense? The only problem was that there was no way of knowing the creatures’ types – if they had one. Jasmine had a Death shield, and she put it up – but the thing went right through it, not even stopping. The only thing that seemed to work even moderately well was a Tower Shield, but that, of course, didn’t help beyond hindering the creatures.

Without any warning whatsoever, the creatures stopped. Both of them, right in mid-air. Just like that. One second they were frantically pursuing Sydney’s Phoenix and the next they were frozen. Its wings weren’t even moving, bringing up the question of how it was still in the air. The Phoenix turned around, hovering hesitantly next to its former enemies. The three of us on the ground were also surprised, staring in shocked. I opened my mouth to speak, probably along the lines of, “What the HECK just happened?” but I was interrupted by a whooshing sounds, as if a large gust of wind had just passed by. Right before our very eyes, the things began to disappear. Actually, they were disintegrating into little tan colored pieces. When they were completely turned into some sort of tan-ish blob, the pieces fell to the ground. I walked over its remains and picked it up. “It’s sand,” I said softly.

A voice boomed around the cave. “Is that the best you can do?” All three of us glanced around wildly, trying to find the source. The voice, which seemed to come from everywhere at once, chuckled. “Are you truly this foolish? You will not find me, until you are ready to face me. I would have expected more from the Seekers of Light, and one of their closest allies.”

“F-face you?” Jasmine stammered. “Like… fight you?”

“Perhaps,” the voice said. “It depends on how far you get. If you demonstrate the same lack of talent you have shown so far, I highly doubt that, even if you survive these challenges, it would be a fair fight.”

“But who are you?” I demanded. “How do you know about the Seekers?” I felt crazy, screaming at the walls.

I got an answer, but not the one I hoped for. “Maybe you will find out someday. But that’s not for right now.”

I felt another wave of anger. “Okay, fine,” I muttered. “We won’t see you. Can you please tell us where we are? Or what that thing was? Or how in the Spiral we can get out?”

To my surprise, I actually got a straight answer, not some cryptic riddle like you’d expect from a disembodied voice. “The thing that attacked you? That was a Shadow Beast,” the voice said quietly. “Quite ferocious, but easy to create and tame, if you know how. As for where we are? Don’t you know already? This is Dragon Mouth Cave. You were here for your friend’s awakening.”

I don’t know why, but this guy was really starting to bug me. “You haven’t answered my last question. How do we get out?”

“Ah, yes. I’d imagine you’d want to go now, right? Leave and sleep in your warm beds in your home? But you must remember – you still have your friends out there. To be specific: Seth GoldenBlood.

I gasped. “Yeah! Where?”

“Defeat the other four Shadow Beasts. You will save him if you can survive. This time you were lucky – I couldn’t bear to see you fail to soon. But next time I cannot help you.” Suddenly the voice was menacing, and I almost took a step back, despite the fact I couldn’t even see who I was speaking to.

“Okay,” I said, although nothing was making sense. He wanted us to defeat one of those huge black monsters? This was ridiculous.

“Very well. Then enter this portal.”

“What port–“

There was a flash of blue light in front of us. The light remained contained in a floating blue disk. I knew that all I had to do was step forward and I would end up someplace new. Maybe it would even lead to Seth. There was just one looming problem…

“Is it safe?” Jasmine put my thoughts to words.

“Who cares?” Sydney shot back, stepping forward. “From what I’ve seen, anything would be better than here.”

I smiled. It was good to have her back, even if she sounded like she was a little grumpy. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I agreed. “So I can assume you’re going first, Sydney?” I grinned.

Her shoulders slumped. “Um… no, that’s okay,” she said, backing down. “You can go first.”

“That’s what I thought. I know you’ve probably been through a lot and learned more about so-called ‘Shadow Beasts’ than you ever wanted to know, but it’s not like we’re having a relaxing vacation here. Don’t take it out on us, okay?”

She stared at me. “Um… got it…” She shook her head. “You’ve changed, Sierra.”

“Changed? How?”

“You’re more… mature? No, that’s not it. More problem-solving. I think you make a great Seeker leader.”

I grimaced. “Really?”

“Don’t think of it like that,” she said, softly chuckling. “It’s a good thing.” She turned to the portal. “So I’m first, am I?” She took in a deep breath. “Then I’ll see you on the other side… I guess. I hope.”

She stepped forward and disappeared.

Jasmine looked at me fearfully. “After you,” I told her.

She gave me one forlorn look and shut her eyes and was taken away by the portal.

Just as I was about to follow, there was a sucking noise… and suddenly the portal was no longer there.

I didn’t panic at first. I blinked a few times, thinking I may be hallucinating. Then I spun around, scanning the cavern, like I thought the portal might have moved. But it was nowhere to be seen. It was gone.

This is where the “freaking out” part comes in.

Just when I was about to do something absolutely crazy, the same voice from before came back. “Do not fear. Another portal is coming.”

A wave of relief washed over me.

“It will take you to the next Seeker and your friend Seth. And the next Shadow Beast.” The voice paused. “You friends will be waiting for your return.”

That didn’t make sense. “My return?” I questioned.

“For you to come back. They will wait in the Spiral Tower.”

“You mean the fake one, though, don’t you? I knew it! I knew this was all some evil plot!” I growled, throwing my hands into the air with frustration. “Why don’t you just turn us in now? You’re working for Malistaire! You’re just trying to separate us!”

“Do not make false accusations, Sierra. I’m not working for Malistaire.”

“Then whose side are you on? I need Sydney and Jasmine, and they need me.”

“We are giving them protection. Is this not what you wanted for them?”

I was so upset and confused that I didn’t even notice the voice had said “we.” Meaning it had allies.

The voice continued, “There are more than two sides to everything. I am on no side but my own. You could say I am neutral, although that’s not entirely true. I have my own opinions on this matter. I have friends and enemies on both of your sides.”

“But why are you helping me? I’m not talking about the rest of them. Are you my friend… or enemy?”

There was silence, and I feared the voice had left me all alone. Then it spoke up, “A friend, I believe, but not for long.” A portal appeared in front of me. “Now go. Your other friends need you more than I do.”

So do Jasmine and Sydney, I wanted to say, but I didn’t. Instead, I followed the voice’s instructions and stepped through.

I appeared in another eerily surreal place. This time it was the Castle of Rain.

Or was it? I didn’t remember the castle having a mysterious hallway to the left. When I followed it, somehow, I ended up finding a Diviner running through the hallway, nearly passing me by.

“Oh!” she said with surprise. She was panting, like she had been running for a while. Then she recognized me. “OH!” This time it was a shout. “Hi, Sierra! When did you get here?”

“Not too long ago,” I told her. “Uh, is Seth here?”

Her expression changed so drastically, from bright and hopeful to desperate and… guilty? Was that guilt I saw? “He… he…” She almost sounded like she would cry.

“What happened?” I asked urgently.

Just then, a growling emanated from some unknown source that was not too far away.

“No time to talk,” she whispered. “We have to get out of here, or the bear thingy will get us. Seth’s gone.” With that rather abrupt explanation she resumed running from whatever it was she had been fleeing from before. I stared after her for a while, until a big, hideous Shadow Beast leaped out behind me. I gaped at it. Somehow, unlike our little friends at Dragon Mouth Cave, this one had a shape. It looked like a beast that stood upon two legs – a bear, Victoria had accurately described it as. Still, it lacked color other than black and the edges of its form still looked like coils of smoke ran off of it. Plus, it looked as blood thirsty as ever.

That was the only encouragement I required to follow Victoria in a mad dash.

With the monstrous Shadow Beast trailing too close behind me, I raced back into the main area of the Castle of Rain, where Victoria had been awakened, and the Triton slain by Malistaire.

I tried to remember everything I could about bears. I’d never had any interests in learning about animals back on Earth, and as far as I knew, there were no bears in the Spiral.

I had no time to ponder this any longer. With my limited knowledge of hungry bears, I hadn’t known how fast they were. A scream caught in my throat as ferocious hands grabbed me from behind and tackled me to the ground. I gazed weakly up at the Shadow Beast, now on my back with the bear on top of me. “Victoria?” I tried to call out, but it ended up like a squeak. Snarling, the bear (who, might I add, was not furry and in no way resembled a teddy bear) took it as a sign of defeat. So this is how it ends, I thought. No epic escape attempt, no daring rescue mission, no Malistaire. Just some stupid bear/Shadow Beast that decided I would make a good meal.

This thought fueled my anger and cleared my head a bit. Shoving my hands into my pocket, I withdrew my wand. Drawing the first card from my deck, I quickly cast whatever spell it was… and prayed it wouldn’t be something useless.

It wasn’t. In fact, it was not at all what I had expected. My hand, aided by the card, formed a triangular Myth symbol. Myth? Since when did I know any Myth spells?

I was past caring. I activated the spell (which is really hard to do pinned on your back, by the way) and amazingly, a Minotaur appeared.

It stood there, and I realized it was waiting for a command. “Help me!” I screamed at the creature as loudly as I could.

Snorting, it turned to the bear with ferocity in its eyes. With a grunt it heaved its gigantic axe at the Shadow Beast, striking it in the back.

An inhuman wail came from the Shadow Beast. Even so, the Minotaur wasn’t done yet. Again it swung at the bear-like monster with incredible power, and the wail increased in volume and pitch. Slowly, the bear’s color changed from the pure black it had been before and looked more solid. It turned a sickly brown, then faded into tan. Soon an unnatural gust of wind blew through the hallway, and the remains of the bear floated away in tiny specks. Eventually there was only a small pile of tan rocks on top of me. As before, the creature had turned to sand.

“Sierra! What happened?” Victoria cried, rushing over to me. I wondered how long she had been there. “Where did the bear go? Did you defeat it?”

“I-I think so,” I stammered. I still had so many questions. How did I summon a Minotaur? Why were the creatures turning to sand? And what happened to–

“Seth!” I gasped. “Where is he? You said he was here, didn’t you? Did something happen?”

“Yes! Um, wait, no. Kind of.”

“Which is it, Victoria?” I stood up and brushed the remaining sand off my robe, staring expectantly at her.

“The black thingy – the bear – it caught him, like it caught you. And… I…”

“You what?”

She burst into tears, which wasn’t quite what I had been expecting. “I’m so, so, so, sorry! Please forgive me!”

Usually I’m sort of an impatient person, and an outburst like that along with the fact that she wouldn’t explain anything to me would annoy me to no end. Instead, I felt a strange emotion – pity.

“I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not your fault,” I said soothingly, grasping Victoria’s hand. “Just let me know what happened. We can work this out.”

“It is my fault, though! I left him behind! I made him fend for himself. I’m no longer worthy of being a Seeker, if I ever was in the first place. Now we’ve lost an invaluable friend.”

I let out a long breath through my teeth. Even though on the outside I remained calm, inside I was screaming and panicking. “Now, listen,” I comforted, “we can’t be sure he’s dead yet. I’m sure he’s fine.” A lie. “I’m not upset at all.” Another lie. “We’ll all be okay.” Totally lying! Well, sometimes the truth hurt, and Victoria didn’t deserve to be hurt right now. “Come on, let’s go find him. Where did you leave him?”

“Um… I’m not sure.”

“Then let’s just walk around for a while–“

“There’s no need,” a booming voice said. We jumped.

“You,” I stated flatly. “You’re that voice from before, from the false Dragon Mouth Cave.”

“Ah, the leader of the Seekers of Light remembered me. What an honor for me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” I muttered. “I still don’t know your name.”

“You may never know,” it replied.

“Whatever. We have to find Seth. Now. Or as soon as possible.”

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and a portal appeared. “Victoria RavenSmith, you may return and wait for your friends. As for you, Seeker Sierra… you may not.”

“Figured as much. But I wouldn’t leave anyway. I’m going to find Seth.”

“Same here!” Victoria agreed, although she sounded unsure.

“Seeker Victoria, are you positive? You could go somewhere you would be safe.”

Victoria’s expression changed, and she seemed to be thinking hard. “I’m pretty sure I want… to stay…”

Safe. That was the word that made her hesitate.

“I won’t be mad if you leave,” I promised.

“No.” I was amazed that there was defiance and confidence in her voice. “I will be here. For Seth.”

I paused for a moment, studying her face. Slowly, I began to grin. “Good to have you, Victoria!” I shouted. “Take that big, scary, echo-y voice! The Seekers stick together. They always have, and always will.” I stopped. “Um, besides Liam. But he doesn’t count.”

There was no reply for a while. I hope we stunned him with our dedication, I thought smugly.

The portal in front of us swirled and vanished. “Well done,” the voice said. Had I just heard a touch of pride? “That was a test, and you, Victoria, have passed. Congratulations.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say.” I rolled my eyes. “A test. Right.”

“Believe it or not, that is your choice.”

Oh, I had definitely chosen “not.”

“However,” the voice continued, “I will need to tell you this information anyway. Seth is safe.”

I froze. “What?”

“Seth. Is. Safe.” He drawled out each word as if talking to a young Novice.

“I heard that,” I muttered. “I meant… how?”

“We opened the portal for him when he was in danger. He is waiting with Sydney, Jasmine, and the few Past Seekers helping you.”

“And you could not have told me this?” Victoria cried. “You can’t even begin to imagine the pain and guilt I felt!”

“I know.” The voice sounded so hushed and sincere. This is so weird, I thought. Sometimes it totally lacks any kind of emotion, and I think it’s heartless; then, suddenly, it’s so sentimental! Even sarcastic!

“How can we believe you, though?” I all but screamed. “I don’t trust you at all. You don’t trust us enough to know your name. Where’s the proof that Seth is okay? How do we know you’re not in league with these darn Shadow Beasts?”

“I suppose you make a good point,” the voice chuckled. “Sadly, I have no choice. There is no way that I can tell you that much information and live…” I perked up, intrigued, but the voice trailed off. There was a cough, reverberating oddly in the Castle of Rain, as though it were over a loudspeaker. “In any case, Victoria may go back to see him. If you’re really worried, why don’t you use Whisper Chat?”

“…Whisper Chat?” I repeated foolishly, like I’d never heard the term before.

“Yeah. Whisper Chat.”

“And it works in here?”

“Sure. Why wouldn’t it?”

Wow. Maybe I was still getting used to being a wizard. I was always forgetting about that convenient little ability I had to talk to people anytime across long distances.

Trying to sound casual, in case the voice was right and he wasn’t in trouble, I whispered, “Hey, Seth. What’s up?”

“Oh, hi Sierra!” I was relieved to hear his reply, and it sounded just as cheerful and Seth-like as always. It wasn’t the sound of someone in imminent danger. There was a pause on his end. “Did you know you have teleports off?”

“No, I don’t,” I muttered, checking. I shrugged, even though he couldn’t see me. “Must be you. Or…” I glanced around the room. “…maybe it’s this place. Considering where we are, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“Where are you? Oh! Guess where I am? You have to see this. It’s the beautiful tower with–“

“I’ve been there, and trust me; the real thing is ten times better.”

“Real? What do you mean? Sierra, is something wrong?”

“Hm? Oh, uh, no. Just fine.” I chose that moment to let relief into my voice, but also foolish bitterness. To be truthful… I was upset that the voice was right about Seth being all right.

“Fine,” I snarled, switching back to speaking aloud. “You win, whoever you are. Seth is in the fake Spiral Tower.” Victoria’s face lit up like a Fire Cat’s fur in the summer. “So what’s next? Crevice of Time?”

“No,” the voice said. “Only three remain. You couldn’t imagine going to every place of awakening for only six monsters, could you?

“I guess not,” I said reluctantly.

“If Mark’s place isn’t next, what is?” Victoria asked. “Hunter’s place? I’ve never been there.” She sighed. “Actually, I never go anywhere cool. You get all the fun, Sierra.”

“I can’t really call it fun…”

“Yes, Hunter’s place of awakening is next,” the voice said, ignoring me. “Two Seekers are being held there in captivity. Mark and Hunter.” I gasped. Captivity? That couldn’t be good.

Two portals opened: one in front of me, and the other in front of Victoria.

I turned to the Storm Seeker of Light. “Well, I suppose this is goodbye for now.”

She swallowed. “I don’t want to leave,” she whispered. “I want to stay with you. I’m useful. I can prove it.”

My voice turned gentle. “I know. You want to help. But you’ll be safe this way, and you can’t really help us if you’re dead, right?”

She grimaced.

“Please, go. I’ll help Hunter and Mark. They’re pretty good at taking care of themselves. Or Mark is. I don’t really know Hunter well.” I grinned slightly, but it faded quickly.

Finally, at length, she nodded ever so slightly. “Good luck,” she said.

And she disappeared.

With a deep breath (I did it so often, I hardly even noticed when I did it anymore – it was just my natural way of lessening stress by even a small bit), I stepped forward into the portal and instantly reappeared in a small, stone room…

…with a big, panther-like Shadow Beast staring straight at me with wide, stunned eyes.

“Um,” I said, “I think I took a wrong turn.”

The feline creature growled dangerously. I heard a gasp behind it, and I peered over the Shadow Beast to see Mark staring at me with a grim expression and Hunter looking wide-eyed. Both had their hands and feet tied up. How, I had no idea, especially since cats don’t have hands to bind rope with. I had no time to contemplate this, though. The cat pounced at me.

Screaming like the young girl I was, I jumped to the other side of the room. The cat missed me and smacked into the wall, much to my satisfaction.

This room was small. I could walk across it in just four big steps. Since there were no doors, windows, or much of anything in the room except for us, I was trapped.

I remembered casting a Minotaur last time. That had been effective. Only problem? I didn’t know Minotaur, and still wasn’t sure how I’d done it.

I reached for my deck and drew the first card off the top. I examined it carefully. “Thermal Shield.” I scowled at the card, as if it were somehow its fault I couldn’t attack with it.

I promptly discarded it and drew four more cards. Without a dueling circle, I wasn’t restricted like I normally would have been, and there were no “turns.” You attacked when you saw a chance. That simple.

This gave me some more spells to work with. I summoned my mana to try and gain pips more rapidly as I did my best to evade the Shadow Beast.

Finally, I spun around and put all my power into casting Ice Wyvern, adding an IceBlade and Ice Trap into the mix for good measure. The Ice Wyvern towered over the Shadow Beast, and I gazed upon it with pride. My creation. My power. My spell.

I expected the kitty to be obliterated into sand at my Wyvern’s roar… but nothing happened.

The Shadow Beast was equally bewildered. Recovering much faster than me, though, it grinned a predatory smile and leaped.

I attempted to dodge again, but… suddenly I found myself on the floor. Guess what? I slipped. Just like that.

Is it just me, or does the floor seem a lot more slick today? I thought to myself. It is almost like there is something spread across the surface of it…

There was no time to worry about that now. Due to my mistake, once more I found myself on my back, staring at the Shadow Beast’s hideous “face.” Do they eat people? I suddenly wondered. When it bared its pitch black teeth I immediately decided I didn’t want to know.

“Sierra!” Hunter cried weakly, and though I couldn’t look around, I could tell he was struggling with the bonds.

“Treasure Cards!” Mark screamed. “Sierra, use Treasure Cards! It’s how we defeated the other one!”

Too desperate to ask what the “other one” was, I grabbed my measly pile of about fifteen cards that passed for a treasure deck.

I drew one card. Pixie. Annoyed at myself for putting in such a useless Treasure Card – didn’t everyone over level ten know that spell? – I tossed it away.

I drew another. Dryad. Dang it, another healing spell. Well, I never had seen a need for attacked treasures when I had plenty of my own spells. Getting more frustrated and terrified by the second, the card joined its useless friend on the floor.

For a third time, I drew a card. I felt like screaming aloud, but I bit it back. Spirit Trap! Why in the Spiral did I put in a Spirit Trap? I didn’t use my Death spells often enough for that!

Just as I was about to pick another card, the not-too-bright Shadow Beast finally realized what I was up to. With its massive paw, it knocked the rest of the deck out of my hand, scattering the cards. Then it took the glowing Jade Oni sword in its mouth and I watched horrified, helpless as it broke it in half. I felt faint. I spent weeks farming the Jade Oni for that sword! The bluish-purple glow faded from it as the Shadow Beast unceremoniously tossed the halves away from me. I pushed back the tears in my eyes – it’s just a sword, I told myself. But all the effort I’d put into getting it, added to the fact that I no longer had a wand… things were looking bad.

The panther-like beast continued glaring at me. I could feel its rank breath on my neck, hear the small growl in the back of its throat, even see the terrible glint of predatory glee in its eyes.

Was this the end?

NO! I shouted to myself silently. Do something. Anything! My hand groped, and my heart nearly stopped as it grabbed something flat. A Treasure Card. One hadn’t been thrown far enough.

I had to catch the Shadow Beast off-guard, or it would kill me before I could do anything with this incredible stroke of luck. And since I really have no experience with animals… I could only think of “playing dead.”

So I stood still. My body stiffened, and I controlled my breathing, restraining it. The panther stared at me, puzzled. It’s working! I thought, struggling to keep still.

When the Shadow Beast was convinced I had stopped moving, it turned around and growled at Mark and Hunter. Hunter was crying softly. Oops. Guess I hadn’t informed them of my plan.

At least Shadow Beasts were dumb enough not to check their victims for a pulse after they died…

With an unexpected grace, speed, and efficiency that that stunned even me, I sat up and moved my hand through the motions of a spell. Whatever was in my hand… it had to be an attacking card. Had to. Or I was dead meat.

And I activated the Balance symbol…

In a flash of bright orange light, a Hydra appeared. It was large – even larger than my Ice Wyvern, to the point that its head was touching the ceiling. Even the Shadow Beast cowered.

I had developed a slight fear ever since Mary used her Hydra against me in the Pyramid of the Moon, but this one felt different. I knew it was only there to help.

At once all three heads of the Hydra let out a roar, although, to be honest, it was more like a high-pitched screech. I didn’t bother wasting time by allowing the heads to take turns at the enemy – so why not see what happened when they attacked all at once?

The same wail the bear Shadow Beast had filled the room, enhanced greatly by the small size. I winced at the volume.

Just like before… with the Shadow Beast’s defeat, it had turned into a hollow sculpture of sand.

“M-my gosh, are you guys okay?” I gasped, rushing over to Mark and Hunter who were still gazing at the dead Shadow Beast with amazement.

“I think we are now. What just happened? What was that thing?” Mark questioned.

“A Shadow Beast,” I explained grimly. “I’ve no time to explain further. The mystical voice guy might be speaking to you about it soon.”

“Mystical what-huh?” Mark said.

As he was saying that, a portal appeared in front of me in a burst of light.

“That’s my cue,” I said. I stepped forward, but Hunter grabbed my shirt and looked up at me with his curious blue eyes. I could tell he was back to his old self, and I knew what was coming next.

“Wait! What’s a Shadow Beast? It looked like a Fire Cat, but kind of different. And darker. Have you seen one before, Sierra? I thought it would eat us! Thanks for rescuing me by the way. I forgot to say that. So where are you going? Have you seen Sydney? I’m worried about her. I heard her scream to me in Whisper Chat… but I had my own situation.” His expression turned desperate. “You have to help her!”

“Already taken care of,” I assured him, grinning. “She’s fine. Like I said, the voice guy will explain everything. Probably. Hopefully.” I’m sure they caught the uncertainty in those last two words, but I was determined to leave as soon as possible. There was only one Shadow Beast left, but, if I was correct, three people still remained to be saved: Rowan, Scarlet, and Vanessa.

There was no way I was losing Rowan again.

Not to mention Merle Ambrose and Gamma were still missing…

I shook my head to clear it from such disheartening thoughts. “Are you guys over the shock yet? I really have to go. Vanessa, Scarlet, and my sister are still waiting for rescue.”

“Oh, Rowan! She’s still in trouble? I know how much you care about her, Sierra. Let her go,” Mark firmly told Hunter, who looked about to ask another million questions. He frowned, but didn’t say anymore.

“Thanks, Mark,” I said, relieved that he understood. “And, um, you guys can trust the voice, okay? I think he’s… a friend.” I almost scowled at myself. Was I really saying that? I was instructing Mark and Hunter to do something I couldn’t ever do myself. Maybe I was trying to reassure myself it was fine to leave them here alone…

“Oh, wait. One other thing.” I turned back in annoyance, but this time it was Mark speaking to me instead of Hunter. “I thought you’d want to know that there was another one of those things in here, before you came. Didn’t you notice the sand on the ground?”

I glanced down, finally spotting the tan rocks. It seemed like both Mark and I realized at the same time why I had slipped earlier and nearly killed myself. “Uh, s-sorry,” he stammered. “I really wasn’t expecting anyone else to show up, especially after we were tied up.”

I shook my head. “No, it’s absolutely fine. We survived, right?” Hmm. Perhaps I was, like, gaining better control of my emotions or something. This had been happening all day – I felt like screaming at him at how stupid he had been, but deep down inside, I knew it wasn’t his fault. I sighed, remembering what still had to be done. “And now… I believe it’s time for me to leave.”

Mark stepped back. “Oh. Right. Let me know through Whisper Chat or something when you save Rowan.”

I nodded slowly. Then, before I could lose courage or change my mind, I jumped into the portal.

Immediately I was overwhelmed by the desert heat. Oh, great. I knew this place all too well. It didn’t exactly hold warm and fuzzy memories for me.

Well, maybe warm. I was already sweating out here.

Still, it was more the whole meeting Mary, confronting Liam, arguing with Scarlet, and being accused of being Malistaire’s minion parts that bothered me.

We had awakened Vanessa here, though…

Like I expected, I spun around to see a huge figure looming in the distance. It had a wide body and slowly sloped upward to a point. The Pyramid of the Moon.

Recalling my mission, I sprinted toward it. I’d seen a Shadow Beast move. Who knew how much damage one could do in the few minutes that I stood here gawking?

I burst into the pyramid moments later… only to find it empty and utterly quiet. What had I expected? An epic battle? The triumphant faces of my friends?

Or the triumphant face of a Shadow Beast?

I shook my head. Ugh, thinking optimistically was harder than I thought. How did Mark do it?

Since there was no indication of where my friends could be, I had to choose for myself where to go. There were only two exits: the long hallway that led to the wide open room Vanessa was awakened in, or up the staircase Scarlet explored without us last time.

I realized that I had never been up there. What were the upper reaches of the pyramid like? Scarlet felt like leaving without us, so I didn’t get a chance to go up that way. I glanced uncertainly back at the tunnel. The lights were off, but I could easily picture them turning on within my head and I guarantee they would. At least, the Desert Colossus had told us they would for any Seekers. That was what happened last time.

Of course, all these buildings were fake, right? It was still blurry, like I was in a dream. Maybe I was in a dream. Now, wouldn’t that have been wonderful. But that hadn’t ever worked before; usually when I was aware enough to wonder if I was dreaming, I was awake. Nope, I wasn’t getting out of this that easily.

There was no light up those stairs, though. Scarlet had used Dryad. I did not know Dryad.

I glanced around the see if there was anything flammable, giving me déjà vu to last time…

But unlike my previous visit, my search paid off. On the wall I noticed a convenient torch, practically begging me to use it.

With my new light source I made my way up the dark steps. They seemed to wind up forever – how tall could this pyramid be, anyway? – but eventually they stopped, and I supposed this was some sort of attic room. Truthfully, I couldn’t make out much. The torch did not provide much light to see by.

It didn’t seem like I was need the torch much longer anyway. There was a small, flickering greenish-white light in the corner of the room, hiding behind a type of desk. It wasn’t very bright, but someone could see by it if they had no other choice.

Blinking to confirm what I saw, I tried to determine what it could possibly be. There were storied on Earth about ghosts using lights to lure in travelers, right? I doubted they were real, even in the Spiral, but it still gave me an eerie feeling. It sure looked like a ghost…

Time to take a crazy, pointless risk.

“I know you’re there,” I whispered. Okay, I didn’t know if anyone was there, but either I was totally correct and would startle someone into revealing themselves, or no one was around to hear. Either way, I had nothing to lose, right?


A growl erupted from behind me, and I spun around just in time to be viciously attacked and rammed into a wall by a Shadow Beast. This one resembled the one in Dragon Mouth Cave. Its form shifted, like it couldn’t decide what to look like. It stalked toward me, sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four – but always with malicious intent.

“Stay away from my sister, you, um, thingy!” a voice shouted. The light that I had been examining earlier shone even brighter. No, wait – this was a different green light. Someone was casting a Life spell!

Rowan WillowLeaf stepped out from behind the desk and activated the symbol, a Centaur leaping onto a suddenly leaf-covered ground. It aimed an arrow at the Shadow Beast.

It was only then that I remembered only Treasure Cards worked.

“Uh, Rowan?” I said.

The Centaur fired the arrow, and the Shadow Beast was enveloped in a tree trunk with a rumbling, cracking sound. It burst open, and as I expected… the Shadow Beast came out unscathed.

I sighed. “Regular cards don’t work.”

Now you tell me,” she grumbled. “What a waste of mana!”

The Shadow Beast chose that moment to attack again. I had no time to reply as we scrambled out of the way.

Vanessa and Scarlet emerged from behind the desk, as well as a small Pixie. I realized the faint light from her wings was what I had been seeing.

“Use Treasure Cards, guys!” I ordered. “They’re the only things that work!”

“I don’t have any Treasures,” Scarlet said with a frown. “They’re unfair. I had a few Rebirths and a Spirit Blade, but that’s it.”

“I thought I didn’t need my Treasure Cards. I gave them to Victoria just yesterday!” Vanessa complained.

I glanced at my sister. “Rowan?”

She grinned. “Don’t worry, I’ve got…” She frowned down at the Treasure deck she took out and looked at three cards on top. “Um… never mine. I don’t have anything that can attack.”

“Do I have to do everything myself?” I murmured. I reached into my pocket to pull out my Treasure deck…

...and panicked when my hand received only air.

That’s when I recalled that I had left all my Treasure Cards scattered on the ground back with Hunter and Mark after they were whacked out of my hand by the Shadow Beast.

Oh, dang.

We’re doomed.

We have no Treasure Cards.

The world just hates me, doesn’t it?

The Shadow Beast attacked again, this time heading for my sister. “Rowan!” I screamed, diving toward them. All I found was a handful of air as Rowan flew from the impact of the beast’s blow I was too slow to defend her from.

Slamming into the wall – hard; the smacking sound was so loud it echoed – Rowan’s figure crumpled to the floor, unconscious.

Or at least I hoped it was unconsciousness preventing Rowan from standing again.

My temper suddenly flared. This monster had messed with my sister – the person closest to me, the one who understood me best. Now this was personal.

But how could we even hit the Shadow Beast if we had no Treasure Cards? Everything else would go directly through it. Not to mention I still lacked a proper wand. The Shadow Beast took my sword and broke it last time I checked…

I cast an IceBlade, the feeling of icy power coursing through my body providing some comfort. Even without a wand, I was determined to make my spell hurt so much that the Shadow Beast would have to feel it.

As I dodged the incoming attacks, thankful the beast was focusing on my rather than Vanessa and Scarlet, I passed by Rowan and just so happened to catch a glimpse of the card she was still holding in her hand. It was a Treasure Card, since she had been looking and hers until the attack. It was a Strength card.

At first I really didn’t care – like she said, Strength couldn’t do any damage.

But when I thought carefully about what it did do, I realized something.

Strength made Treasure Cards.

And Treasure Cards hurt Shadow Beasts.

Feeling slightly guilty for stealing from my unconscious sister (even knowing she would forgive me for it), I took the card. Selecting my Ice Wyvern, I concentrated on combining the Strength with it. Soon enough, I had an extra-powerful Ice Wyvern, not to mention an IceBlade to boost it more. I smiled a bit. The Shadow Beast was so going to pay.

I moved my arms to form the Ice symbol and released my mana.

The Ice Wyvern materialized with a roar. Empowered by the Strength card and IceBlade, it was going to do a pretty decent amount of damage.

The Shadow Beast was blown away by the force of the Ice Wyvern all right, so much more than I could have even hoped for. Even though I used Minotaur and Hydra before, they hadn’t been my school, and the Ice Wyvern, being my most powerful spell since level 22, was my specialty. With a howl of the worst sort – pain, desperation, fury, anguish, and defeat in its tone – the Shadow Beast transformed into sand.

I was panting – casting spells without a wand was much more tiring, plus I’d been frantically dodging a few minutes ago. I sank to the ground with a stunning revelation.

I’d done it.

That was the last Shadow Beast!

“Can I be honest? I didn’t really believe you would make it,” the now-familiar voice said. “Now that you’ve done this, who knows what else you can accomplish united? Prepare yourself, Sierra WinterBreeze. The path ahead will not be easy, but you are ready for it. You can defeat the Spiral’s greatest evil with your closest friends as allies. You have proven yourself.” A pause. “Well, perhaps you may encounter one more test…”

Another test? I can’t take it anymore! Who are you? I demand to know! I have done enough. My friends are safe, and I take no orders from you, whoever you are.”

Silence. I smugly wondered if I had somehow scared it off. Scarlet and Vanessa were in shock, looking around the room before staring at me with questioning eyes. I offered them no explanation.

Finally the voice returned. “Do not fear. Rest now. You have been on a long journey, but do not be hasty simply because you are nearing its conclusion.”

A portal appeared. “Join your friends. Lead them, Sierra, to your victory. Again, the Seekers of Light will prevail and Wizard City will be free once more. Go!”

“What about Row–“

My sister stirred next to us. Blinking blearily, she moved and groaned. I rushed to her side. “Take it easy, Rowan!” I commanded. “You’re not… you can’t be…” I watched in surprise as she stood and brushed herself off without any assistance. “But, Rowan–”

“I’m fine, Sierra,” she told me. “Just fine. Really. I mean… I have a major headache, but still. I’m Life, right? I’ll heal myself.”

She drew a card from her deck and cast Dryad. The green light encompassed her figure. I could almost feel Rowan slowly getting her strength back.

“Okay, time to go,” I said doubtfully. I really wanted Rowan to gather her strength a bit more. My older sister instincts told me to let her rest… but my Seeker leader instincts (if I had any – I haven’t been doing much leading) told me we couldn’t let one member drag us all down. Especially since she looked completely fine, and she had just been healed…

Scarlet stepped through the portal first, followed by Vanessa, then Rowan. I stood still for a moment, sweeping my gaze across the room. It felt strange to follow my friends after I had always taken a route different than them up until now. Finally, I gathered my courage and entered the portal.

I reappeared in the Spiral Tower – the fake one, of course. Everyone was there: Sydney, Victoria, Mark, Hunter, Vanessa, Rowan, Jasmine, Seth, and Scarlet. Everyone I had just rescued in a way. Every one of my friends.

It looked like all the Past Seekers were there, too. Christopher was speaking when I appeared, but stopped when he spotted me. “And there she is now.”

Everyone turned to stare at me.

I stared back, a sudden wave of stage fright overwhelming me. They all looked so expectant. What was I supposed to do?

“They’re waiting for you to say something,” a voice to my left said. I glanced there to find Taryn. “Chris used to do it all the time. Not so much lately… but we don’t have that many jobs anymore. If he convinced a distrustful, fearful, doubtful group of the first Seekers to unite as one, I’m positive you can do it with your closest friends.”

I still wasn’t sure what Taryn mean by “distrustful, fearful, and doubtful,” nor what the Past Seekers might have faced in their time; however, I was forced to ignore that part. She was right. These were my friends. I took a deep breath and began.

“Um, hi, everyone,” I unsteadily started. Stop, I told myself. Be motivational. Be inspiring! “So… it’s time to do what we were meant to do.” I paused. Not exactly inspiring… “So, uh, let’s do it… together. United. Yeah.”

Everyone was still watching me with blank expressions.

You know what? This was all wrong. I’m not “motivational.” I’m not a speech writer. Truthfully, I’m not even a leader. I’m here as a friend, now a Seeker of Light. I had to do this my own way.

“Okay, look,” I said. “I know that you don’t want to sit here listening to me going on about who-cares-what. You don’t need any big long pep-talk. Want to know why? You’re ready. Totally, completely ready. …It’s time. We’re going to fight Malistaire, whether you like it or not.” That got a reaction. Some of their faces hardened at the mention of our inevitable future opponent’s name, but most just got a nervous sort of look. “I know you can do it. I mean, think about what we faced today. Shadow Beasts. Shape-shifting creatures. Crazy, right? And we found them all, and won. If we can do that while fragmented and separated from one another, imagine what we can do together! Look around you. You know everyone here in one way or another. I’m sure you have worked in smaller groups on quests together, haven’t you? This is no different! This is who we are!” My voice in a crescendo as the speech reached its high point. “We are ready! Let us show Malistaire what it truly means to be a Seeker of Light! Let’s take our victory!”

At that conclusion, I let my voice resonate in the tower, echoing out that one, proud word. Everything was silent for a moment, and I wondered if I’d done something wrong. Then my audience burst into applause, cheering way louder than a group that size should have been able to.

I grinned. Maybe I wasn’t so bad at motivation after all.


“Now,” Christopher said, “it’s time to go.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “but how are we supposed to get there?”

“Um, we’re not entirely sure.” My eyes narrowed. If he didn’t know… “Wait! There is one way that we may be able to find Malistaire. How did you get into the Spiral Tower that first time, Sierra?”

“A door in the back of the throne in Gobblestone Castle. Why?”

He let out a long breath that sounded like it was in relief. “Good. As long as it’s a place linked to the Seekers, we should be able to… change the portal. So that it goes somewhere else related to the Seekers.”

“What do you mean?”

“Malistaire’s lair… is tied to your destiny as a team, since he is your enemy and you have proven yourself in there more than enough times. The Spiral Tower is also inevitably bound to you. We may be able to modify the portal in Gobblestone Castle to take you to Malistaire instead.”

“R-really?” I said, thinking about that carefully. “But… I thought we were still in the fake tower, and you said we couldn’t leave.”

“As you defeated each Shadow Beast, the seal on this place weakened. Perhaps not enough to allow us to completely leave on our own… but I believe we can now travel between the copies easily, and with the aid of a portal we should be able to make it out entirely.”

“Thank goodness,” I muttered. Louder, I said, “So is there a copy of Gobblestone Castle, then?”


I stared. “Then how are we–”

“But there is a copy of the Tower of Lost Memories.” I was surprised that it wasn’t Christopher speaking. I looked to the side to see Megan BlueGarden, the Past Ice Seeker that had lost her powers, talking with a pensive expression on her face. “It’s where I was awakened too, you know,” she said softly. “The places of awakening never change, although their Spiral counterparts do. Colossus Boulevard wasn’t always overrun by Gobblers; Gobblestone Castle was originally built by the Creators of Ice to honor their school and symbolize their cool, defensive strength.” She took a deep breath. “I helped make it…”

I immediately sensed a shift in mood in all the Past Seekers, and most seemed lost in thought. “Does that mean you’re a Creator of Ice?” I questioned, picking up on what she just said.

She nodded slowly.

I gawked at her. “Really? But… you’re just…”

“We all are,” Taryn said. “Each of us had some part in creating Ravenwood and the schools of magic. I’m sure we would have succeeded entirely in uniting them if it weren’t for… Wolf.”


“The leader of the DeathBringers,” Christopher explained.

Like I knew what that was.

“Look, just… forget about it for the moment. We’re not here to deal with him, thank Bartleby. We’re talking about Malistaire. Everyone, prepare to teleport.”

Instantly, the world around me became a whirling hurricane. I gasped aloud with surprise. We appeared at our location and I stumbled. “You know,” I muttered sarcastically, scowling at Christopher, “when someone says ‘prepare’ they usually wait for you to do it.”

“Sorry,” he said, smiling. Somehow I doubted he was sorry.

But what I saw next made me forget all about that. I drew in a sharp breath upon recognizing where we were.

The Tower of Lost Memories. The area that I was awakened in.

Oh, my gosh. I hadn’t been here since, well… since my awakening, really. Everything looked just as I remembered it – white and blue checkered tiling, big, wide open space…

“It doesn’t look impressive,” I heard Vanessa whisper behind me. I shot her a furious glare, and she shrank back in alarm. Okay, that had been slightly harsh. But this place felt… like a part of me. It had made me all I was today. A Seeker leader…

But there were differences, too. I mean, this wasn’t the real Tower of Lost Memories. In fact, this resembled Gobblestone Castle more than the real one did. There was still a throne here. Sure, it was adorned with an Ice insignia and shimmered with a bluish glow, but it still didn’t belong in a place like this.

I strode to the other side of the throne. Sure enough, a door was there. “Here,” I told Christopher, pointing to it. “This is similar to the door I went to the Spiral Tower in. Why it – and the throne – is here, I have no clue, but it is. Isn’t that what matters?”

“Exactly,” Christopher agreed. “This will work great.” He opened up the door for me (to my irritation – I had to use a key to make it open! What made him so special, besides the fact that he was the first Seeker leader ever and dead?) and motioned for me to go inside. I looked back over my shoulder to see nine other expectant faces (and eight ghostly ones) looking at me. I suddenly realized three people who should be here at the moment…

“Seth. Scarlet. Jasmine.” They started as I stated their names, looks of something near guilt on their faces. “You guys can’t come.”

“But I want to fight Malistaire,” Seth whined. “It’s not fair.”

“Yeah, Sierra,” Jasmine said. “Don’t we have as much of a right to be here as you do?”

“Um, no,” I said. “We’re Seekers. I think that gives us more right to face evil. We can’t ensure your safety, and I would not be able to live with myself if one of you died.”

“Hey, it’s kind of your fault that we’re here in the first place,” Scarlet reminded me. “Hate to break it to you, Sierra, but if you hadn’t told us all about Seekers than we wouldn’t have been targeted and captured.”

Man, I hated when she was right.

“You wouldn’t leave me alone!” I shouted at her. “You found out about Seekers on your own. That wasn’t my fault! I mean, who told you about them in the first place? How much do you really know about them? Yeah, not much.” I kept my expression stern. “You aren’t coming.”

“We’ll follow you,” Scarlet retorted.

“No, you won’t. That’s final.” I gave her one final glare before returning my gaze to the door…

…and remembered something else that needed to be taken care of.

I sighed. “One last thing. If we’re about to go into an epic battle… I kind of need a wand.”

“What happened?” Sydney asked me.

“Feline Shadow Beasts happened, that’s what,” I said under my breath.

Megan spoke up again. “Don’t worry. I think I can help with that.” She reached into her pocket and took a strange item out. “This is my old wand. You can have it.”

I reached out and took it from her, and was surprised to find that it was solid. Indeed it was a wand – not a sword or staff, which surprised me. Few high level wizards had wands any longer, but I supposed Zachary had one earlier. “Although I never made it past level 40,” she said, “wands from the older days are much more powerful than any type of magical conductor you can find today. I’m sure it will do much better than the sword you had before, Sierra. And it’s Ice, so it will probably work well with the spells you use. Will this be sufficient?”

“Y-yeah!” I grinned at her. “Thanks! Won’t this be interesting, using an ancient Seeker wand…”

She smiled at me. “Good. Now you must go. All of you must.”

I nodded. I scanned the room, examining my closest friends. I closed my eyes, tired out suddenly. They wanted so much from me… expected me to be strong, and it was just so… hard.

But who said being a Seeker of Light would be easy? If anything, I’d repeatedly heard the opposite.

I offered them all a wide grin, showing them that I wasn’t afraid (even though inside I really was). Some beamed back, some did not, but everyone felt slightly reassured by my attempt to cheer them up.

So, without another glance back, I stepped into the doorway…

…and reappeared at an enormous door, so achingly familiar. And not in a good way.

After being in a strange haziness for so long, it everything looked so sharp and detailed. Now the fortress looked ten times more foreboding than it did before.

The other Seekers of Light started to appear behind me, but my attention was held by the huge building ahead.

Like I said before… this was it.

It was time.

Time to face destiny.

Time to face fear.

Time to face the worst challenge of all.

Time… to face Malistaire.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

*screaming dramatically* WHHHHHHHHYYYYY????


(Note: This is a rhetorical question.)

It's because there's a SLIGHT possibility it might SLIGHTLY affect our computer! Grr! I WANT TO SEE CELESTIA! What are the new spells? Can someone tell me where I can find pictures of them? Ugh. THIS IS SO ANNOYING. I want to be level 60. >.<

Our computers are just too darn old. I want to get a laptop. I SHOULD get a laptop. All for myself. That way, not only can I download the test realm, but all those other things that will likely give my computer viruses - Fan DeviantArt... etc.

*sigh* Um, well, I have nothing else to post about. But, hey, PLEASE go check out my other blog? I'm glad I got comments on here... but I want someone to review my story! Even if you don't like Zelda, follow this link! Read it! Tell me what the WRITING is like, if not the plot! Oh, and let me know how the new layout is. I just changed the header and background, and I'm finally trying out the new template thing. If people like it on Medli's Messages, I'll come up with something good for here. ;)

Okay. That's it. Goodnight, readers. Happy whatever-holiday-it-is-tomorrow. :D

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whoa! Waiiit! One more thing to add...


Wow. Thanks, Alia, for letting me notice that, and happy birthday to your blog, too. ;)

Guess what else that means?

Sierra WinterBreeze's birthday is in just over a week! O: Remember? Sierra WinterBreeze was created October 16th!


And that's all I have to say. Be sure to read the post below this - it's new, I just HAD to add this, and didn't feel like editing anything. ;) Plus, it's a preview of Part 14, and I need feedback. XD

EDIT: Posted this below, too, but I'll add it here. Here's the link to that prologue I was talking about, to my Zelda fanfic. PLEASE at least look at it. Even if you don't want to comment (although that's HIGHLY encouraged).

*Insert Epic Blog Post Title Here*

I'm running out of names for blog posts. Feel free to name this one in your comments if you want to. I'd be interested to see what people say, actually. XD

And it's not like I have much to say anyway. O_o Besides the Selena Gomez thing. I haven't really looked into it much... but do they really think that will help the game at all? Isn't Wizard101 rated 10+? Maybe I can understand ten, eleven, or even twelve year olds joining a online RPG game juuuust because their favorite pop star is in it... but thirteen and older... I can't imagine that. No offense to thirteen year olds out there who are still obsessed with pop culture. Guess I can understand, since I'm obssesed with Zelda. XD

It's not like Selena Gomez is a bad singer. It's just that Selena Gomez... is like... totally NOT supposed to be in a video/online game. It's not even a cameo, which I think I actually would enjoy.

OOH! OOH! I just thought of something. How about I give you... a PREVIEW OF PART 14? :D I know this doesn't apply to everyone. Still. Then I'm going to go on my OTHER blog and typing up the prologue for my Zelda fan fiction. Once I do, I'll post the link here. I really would like some advice on it. (EDIT: Link is here, don't feel like editing any more than this... XD)
Oh, wait, is Part 13 on the website yet?


Ugh... nope. June 2010 Creative Writing... seriously? Four months without updating? >.<

Anyway... a few things you should know before reading this preview:

-This is officially my Zelda chapter. I used the classic formula of boss-fighting and rescuing. ...And I swear, I REALLY tried to think of another name besides Shadow Beast... but I've used it so many times in my document now I really don't want to change it.

-So... there's, like, six Shadow Beasts in all. I think. Idk, can't remember. I kept changing the number. XD The Shadow Beasts are black creatures, and each seems to either have an indefinite form (like shape-shifting) or they are black versions of animals.

-All of the Seekers were trapped in false versions of their places of awakening, created by dark magic. Right now, Sierra's rescuing Hunter and Mark from their imprisonment, in Hunter's place of awakening.

-Oh, and to rescue everyone... Sierra has to defeat the Shadow Beasts, but regular spells don't seem to work on them. She used a Minotaur to defeat the one in the Castle of Rain, but she doesn't even know Minotaur...

Geez, I'm so bad at summarizing. That's why my stories are so long. O_o

Okay, here's the preview. Enjoy. ;)

The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze - Part 14 Preview

The feline creature growled dangerously. I heard a gasp behind it, and I peered over the Shadow Beast to see Mark staring at me with a grim expression and Hunter looking wide-eyed. Both had their hands and feet tied up. How, I had no idea, especially since cats don’t have hands to bind rope with. I had no time to contemplate this, though. The cat pounced at me.

Screaming like the young girl I was, I jumped to the other side of the room. The cat missed me and smacked into the wall, much to my satisfaction.

This room was small. I could walk across it in just four big steps. Since there were no doors, windows, or much of anything in the room except for us, I was trapped.

I remembered casting a Minotaur last time. That had been effective. Only problem? I didn’t know Minotaur, and still wasn't sure how I'd done it.

I reached for my deck and drew the first card off the top. I examined it carefully. “Thermal Shield.” I scowled at the card, as if it were somehow its fault I couldn’t attack with it.

I promptly discarded it and drew four more cards. Without a dueling circle, I wasn’t restricted like I normally would have been, and there were no “turns.” You attacked when you saw a chance. That simple.

This gave me some more spells to work with. I summoned my mana to try and gain pips more rapidly as I did my best to evade the Shadow Beast.

Finally, I spun around and put all my power into casting Ice Wyvern, adding an IceBlade and Ice Trap into the mix for good measure. The Ice Wyvern towered over the Shadow Beast, and I gazed upon it with pride. My creation. My power. My spell.

I expected the kitty to be obliterated into sand at my Wyvern’s roar… but nothing happened.

The Shadow Beast was equally bewildered. Recovering much faster than me, though, it grinned a predatory smile and leaped.

Once more I found myself on my back, staring at the Shadow Beast’s hideous “face.” Do they eat people? I suddenly wondered. When it bared its pitch black teeth I immediately decided I didn’t want to know.

“Sierra!” Hunter cried weakly, and though I couldn’t look around, I could tell he was struggling with the bonds.

“Treasure Cards!” Mark screamed. “Sierra, use Treasure Cards! It’s how we defeated the other one!”

Too desperate to ask what the “other one” was, I grabbed my measly pile of about fifteen cards that passed for a treasure deck.

I drew one card. Pixie. Annoyed at myself for putting in such a useless Treasure Card – didn’t everyone over level ten know that spell? – I tossed it away.

I drew another. Dryad. Dang it, another healing spell. Well, I never had seen a need for attacked treasures when I had plenty of my own spells. Getting more frustrated and terrified by the second, the card joined its useless friend on the floor.

For a third time, I drew a card. I felt like screaming aloud, but I bit it back. Spirit Trap! Why in the Spiral did I put in a Spirit Trap? I didn’t use my Death spells often enough for that!

Just as I was about to pick another card, the not-too-bright Shadow Beast finally realized what I was up to. With its massive paw, it knocked the rest of the deck out of my hand, scattering the cards. Then it took the glowing Jade Oni sword in its mouth and I watched horrified, helpless as it broke it in half. I felt faint. I spent weeks farming the Jade Oni for that sword! The bluish-purple glow faded from it as the Shadow Beast unceremoniously tossed the halves away from me. I pushed back the tears in my eyes – it’s just a sword, I told myself. But all the effort I’d put into getting it, added to the fact that I no longer had a wand… things were looking bad.

The panther-like beast continued glaring at me. I could feel its rank breath on my neck, hear the small growl in the back of its throat, even see the terrible glint of predatory glee in its eyes.

Was this the end?

...Comments? What did you think? I had a lot of fun writing this chapter (yes, it's done, I just need to type it), so I'm wondering if anyone else enjoys reading it as much as I like to write it. ;)

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm still here! (Kind of)

My. Days. Are. SO. Busy.

And I still haven't sent in Part 13.

Oh, hey, I'm going go do that now. ...Or at least after I finish this blog post.

Anyway. Um. Yeah. So. ...I'm soooooo tired everyday now. The reason I used to be able to post before was because I used to take an online class in the morning, and then after I finished my work and such I'd come here on the blog and type away. But nooooo. Not anymore. I just had to get a NORMAL class in the morning. O.o No online stuffs for me this year. Not to mention Swim Team. Oh, man, it's SO tiring. I'm ready to DIE after one of those practices. And they're every night. EVERY. NIGHT. Except weekends, of course, lol. But, still...

...*sigh* I just don't have time for upbeat randomness anymore...

I hope you can forgive me. How about I promise you... at least once a week? Well, Idk what I'll blog about, 'specially since I don't play Wizard101 much anymore and now I have two other stories rivaling The Tale of Sierra Winterbreeze's writing time - one Zelda fanfic and one story that I totally made up on my own... isn't that called an OC? Except I have NO CLUE what OC stands for. XD I thought it might mean original... something or other... -.-

Well, that's all I got. I had an epic preview of Part 14, but you'll have to suffer just a biiiiiiit more until I remember to send in Part 13. XD Not that you're really suffering. I'm sure all your lives are moving on juuuust fine without me blabbering on about stuff no one even cares about on a blog, lolz.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oops, almost forgot to post!

But I didn't. Yay!

Guess who's back from vacation? ME! :D

Celestia didn't come out, did it? XD I noticed they got a new Celstia banner at W101 Central! (Speaking of which, I made myself a new signature! GO SKYWARD SWORD!)

So. Now what should I talk about...

Oh, I keep forgetting to send in Part 13, you know. Someone please remind me? XD

...I should be working on orders from my shop...

Okay, I gtg. Bye bye. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Off to Canada (again!)

Sigh... You'll have to say bye-bye to my blogging for the rest of July. And the beginning of August. Why? I'M OFF TO CANADA, WOO! To see relatives. ;)

They have a computer... but I doubt I'll be using it much. I hope I'll get some inspiration for Part 14 up there... I'm so dang stuck, and my typing is starting to catch up to my notebook (if that made sense, because it's a looong story if I didn't mention it in other posts XD).

I guess it doesn't matter much anyway. I'm not constantly blogging anymore...


Bye bye. Can't answer comments today - I'm in such a hurry, and SO stressed. I have too much to do.

Ugh, I hope Celestia doesn't come out while I'm gone... >.<

Oh, hey... I just realized this is my hundreth post! Yipee... yeah... too bad it has such bad news...

Enjoy your summer, everyone! :D

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze - Part 13

I'm feeling generous today. And I think I know just what would make a lot of you happy. How about... The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze, Part 13? :D

I just finished it, and I haven't done ANY editing. I also might change the ending a bit, depending on how Part 14 turns out. This is the third to last chapter in Sierra's story (lolz, the title of my blog XD). I hope you guys enjoy, and please point out any errors and feel free to make any suggestions.

Time for the Past Seekers! (temporary name for a lot of them, btw)

The Tale of Sierra WinterBreeze - Part 13

“YES!” I screamed. “Yes, yes, yes!”

“It’s not that great, you know,” Rowan muttered in an irritated voice.

I could see why. I’d been screaming excitedly like this for the last five minutes.

“You’re just jealous,” I teased.

“I am not!” she indignantly replied.

“Yeah, you are.”

“Stop fighting,” Mom (A.K.A. Angela UnicornRider) sighed for the thirtieth time.

The thing was that I was level 40. The point? First off, I was a Master. You know – one of the highest titles you can get in wizardry! Second, I’d been able to learn the spell I’d been waiting for as long as I could remember: IceBlade. Plus, well, who didn’t like leveling up? Lastly… I was finally ahead of Rowan.

Even since I had arrived in the Spiral (about seven months ago), I’d always been behind Rowan in level. Well, actually, behind most people my age. Thanks to Malistaire, I had started school almost a year late. The only other person I knew who was even close to my age and my level was Sydney JadeHammer. She had been going at a slower pace, too, because she used to not be able to cast spells outside Dragon Mouth Cave. Even she, however, was a bit younger than me.

But now, thanks to a ton of side-quests, I was finally ahead of Rowan, my level 39 sister!

Unfortunately, if you counted the main quests, we were actually about even. Both of us had quests to do in the Tree of Life.

I was thrilled – for once, when I helped my sister, I would be helping myself, too! Rowan and I had agreed we would meet this afternoon outside the Tree of Life area to go in together.

Sydney was coming as well. And, as much as she didn’t want him to, her rather aggravating little brother, Hunter ThunderShield, was also. Her parents had made her bring him. It had something to do with the fact that Hunter was in Marleybone, but desperately wanted to see MooShu, but Sydney wouldn’t take him there until now. I didn’t really know any details.

But that still wasn’t until this afternoon. While I’d been waiting, I had finally become a Master, officially making me higher in level than her.

I had come back home, then. Besides, I was finished with almost every single MooShu side-quest I had. I only had one in Hametsu Village, one in Cave of Solitude, and three from where I had been questing in Marleybone. Plus, it was almost noon.

When I found Rowan at home, I couldn’t help but brag… just a little!

“It’s so unfair,” Rowan complained.

“That okay, Rowan,” I said, grinning. “One day you’ll be as great as me!”

She gave me a warning look and then glanced anxiously at the clock. “Isn’t it time yet?”

“Tired of me already?” I laughed. I noticed her furious glare and I backed down. “Okay, okay. I’m just excited. Sorry.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I wish you were still not here!”

I paused. Even though I knew she was kidding, it still stung a bit. What if I wasn’t here? As in… back on Earth? Would I still be dealing with horrible John and facing his ridicule?

Now there was an awkward silence. “Um, you know I didn’t mean it like that,” Rowan hurriedly apologized. “I was just saying–“

“It’s fine,” I said tightly, and the look on her face let me know that she was very well aware that she had hurt me.

Fortunately, Sydney’s voice surrounded me, distracting me for a moment. “We’re at your front door. Ready to go?” she asked in Whisper Chat.

“Oh, sure,” I replied, the gestured to Rowan. “Come on. They’re here.”

Grabbing my wand and deck, I led Rowan out of the house and into the streets of Wizard City.

Rowan and I still both lived with our parents in their house right beside the Commons River. It wasn’t the quietest house, since the Commons was always flooded with students, but it was cozy, and we liked it much better than our old cramped dorm rooms at the school. Neither of us had gained enough gold for a castle yet (except Rowan, but she had to leave her gold in Malistaire’s lair), so we had to stay here for now.

Like she had said, Sydney was waiting with her brother, Hunter. Hunter’s face was lit up with enthusiasm. Apparently he was eager to get to MooShu. I stared enviously at Sydney’s necklace and wished I still had mine.

The group followed me to the Spiral Chamber inside of Bartleby. Sydney opened up the door and stepped inside. We teleported to her, ending up in the Jade Palace. “Wow,” Hunter whispered, and his expression reminded me of myself when I had first admired MooShu. And how it had led to Vanessa’s awakening, too.

Rowan led the rest of the way, because Hunter was spewing out a hundred questions a second. “Wow! This is amazing! Is this your favorite world? Were you really happy when you got in here? Is it hard? Does it take a long time to get here? How long? Am I close? What level are you? Do I have to be that level, too? Where are we going? A tree? Why are we going to a tree? Is the tree big? Is it pretty?”

Absentmindedly, I answered as many as I could, just to please him. I was thankful when we arrived outside the instance. “Teleport to one of us, Hunter,” Sydney instructed as she stepped onto one of the four glowing spots on the ground. Rowan and I took two of the others.

Now we were on our way to the Tree of Life – and, as I’d heard, Death Oni.

I had no idea what we would encounter there.


“Over here!” Rowan called, and I follower her voice to find her engaged in a battle with a Kakeda Spirit Slave.

“You got caught again?” I rolled my eyes, but I was smiling.

“Yeah. My bad,” she said sheepishly.

“Okay, let’s get Sydney and Hunter,” I suggested. “They might as well help us.”

“Yeah, but Hunter will just bring in another enemy,” she grumbled. “He’s not very helpful.”

I silently agreed. Yeah, Hunter was very inexperienced against MooShu enemies. Rowan was constantly having to heal him, so she wasn’t very happy. “We can’t have Sydney without Hunter,” I reminded her. “So he comes too.”

While we waited for them to arrive, I joined the battle – and nearly gasped. “Rowan, were the last monsters like this, too?” Their health was incredibly high. Plus, they just looked… smarter. Like they knew something. Something big. And, within a few turns, I discovered that they knew how to fight, too. They were not your average Ninja Pigs.

“The others were like them. They were the same enemy. Is that what you mean?”

“No.” I shook my head. “I mean, like them… as in… more intelligent. Don’t you see how they–”

“We’re here!” Sydney announced as she teleported to me with Hunter. I gave her an annoyed look. “Oh. Am I interrupting something?” Then she looked at Rowan. “Again? This is the second time.”

“I know,” Rowan said, smiling regretfully. “I could have sworn that I would going around them. I thought they were on the other side of the street.” She shook her head in confusion. “I guess they’re just out to get me!”

I stared at her. That was strange. In fact, I had been thinking the exact same thing when I had seen her get dragged in the first time. She was pretty far from the Kakeda Spirit Slaves, but they seemed to turn at the last second to get her.

“Whoa,” Sydney said, taking a sudden breath. “Since when do Kakeda Spirit Slaves have this much health?”

“Good. I’m not crazy.”

“I never paid any attention to their health,” Rowan said uneasily.

Fortunately (with a well-aimed Phoenix from Sydney), the battle ended, and we emerged victorious. We hurried out of the way into an area that was safe.

But something glinted in the sunlight on the street. For a second, I recalled my awakening – hadn’t I fought some unusually powerful Gobblers, then found my key? However, when I rushed toward the item, despite Sydney telling me to come back before the enemies reappeared, I saw that it was not a key. Instead, it was an oddly colored metal leaf.

I brought the puzzling object back to my friends. They crowded around me, staring at the leaf quizzically. Hunter inquired, “What is it?”

“Trust me, if I knew, I’d tell you,” I said, holding it a bit higher so the others could examine it.

“It’s a leaf,” Rowan whispered quietly. She reached out for it, and I let her take it. After it, it was a leaf: the symbol of the Life school.

She looked down at it in amazement. “I think it’s mine.”


“Right here. It says my name.” We stared as she turned the leaf over and we spotted writing that for some reason the rest of us hadn’t noticed.

In fancy text, it read, To Rowan WillowLeaf. The key to open the portal is yours. How you use it is for you to decide.

It was almost like a small note, or letter. But there was no signature.

“Okay. That’s just weird. I really think that this is some kind of trick…” I muttered.

“No, it’s real. I know it is. Let me show you the portal and I’ll prove it!”

“Um, what portal?”

Exasperated, she said, “I’m working on that.”

I looked to Sydney for advice, and she shrugged. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but Sydney didn’t seem worried about it, and I trusted her. “Fine. Show us the portal. Whenever you find it. But at this point, all we can do is keep going. We’re supposed to deafeat Nomoonaga.”

We finished our task. It wasn’t too difficult, with Rowan’s Centaur doing plenty of damage against the Death boss. We hurried back to Yinshin Chen. Using the Dagger of Shadows we received from defeating Nomoonaga, we used it on the withering Tree of Life.

Amazingly, it began to glow. I mean, really glow. It became so bright that we were all forced to shield our eyes. With a whooshing sound like wind rustling through tree branches, the glow subsided and we looked at the Tree of Life once more.

It wasn’t the sorry sight it had been before. Now it was true to its name – bursting with life. It’s trunk was a deep, healthy shade of brown, and all its leaves were a wonderfully dark green. Pink and purple flowers bloomed on the branches, filling the air with a fragrant aroma. The four of us stood there, staring in awe. “Um, was that supposed to happen?” Hunter asked at length.

“No! No, it definitely wasn’t!” We spun around to see Yinshin Chen behind us. “We’ve been trying to revive the Tree of Life for months. We thought the only way to do it was defeat Death Oni, but look here! You’ve healed it!”

“Thanks, I think,” I said slowly. “Only I don’t know what we did. What was supposed to happen?”

“The portal leading to Kagemoosha and the Oni should have opened.”

I glanced at Rowan in surprise. “Did you say… portal?”

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“I told you!” Rowan exclaimed. She withdrew the leaf and held it up. “Maybe this is what healed the Tree of Life. I bet it will open the portal, too!”

As if it had heard her, the lead starting flowing bright green, the soft color of healing. Then in front of us, just as Rowan had said, a portal formed, glowing with the exact same shade of green as the leaf.

“Well, great,” I said, looking uneasily at the newly formed portal. “Does your leaf give any hints on where it could lead?”

She checked. “Nope.”

“Of course not.” I sighed, and stepped a bit closer to the portal. “Is anyone else coming, or will I have to do this by myself?”

Reluctantly, Sydney and Hunter stepped toward me. Rowan however, went right ahead and stepped into the glowing light without hesitation. I took a sharp, nervous breath, but reassured myself. Ever since Rowan had been kidnapped, I always overreacted when I lost her.

Instead of panicking, I tried my best to remain calm and allowed myself to vanish inside the portal.

Almost instantly, I was transported to another area. It looked like a small glade in a forest or something. It was shaded by trees, and soft grass was beneath my feet. Admiring its natural beauty, I thought about my sister and how much she would love this.

Speaking of Rowan, where was she?

“Rowan?” I called. “Sydney? Hunter! Guys, are you here?”

“Yeah. This way!” Sydney’s voice came from somewhere in the forest.

“Of course, it just had to be through the trees,” I murmured as I advanced toward her.

Just as I was busy fighting off a thorny branch, there was a flicker of movement beside me. I froze. Leaves rustled, but no matter where I turned, there was nothing there.

I slowly proceeded with moving the branch gently out of the way, and stepped in the direction of the rustling – in the opposite way from which I had been going.

No matter how far I went, the sound always seemed slightly ahead of me. Finally, I broke out into an enormous clearing, even larger than the one I had landed in. The noise abruptly stopped, as if I had left it behind in the bushes.

I momentarily forgot about it, though. My friends were all in front of me, looking on with worried expressions.

“I’m glad you found us, Sierra,” Sydney said, rushing over. “We were so scared! The rest of us all ended up here. I wonder why you didn’t.”

“You guys are so lucky,” I complained. “You end up in this beautiful glade, while I find myself going through bushes, thorns all over!” It was then that I remembered how I had gotten here. Realizing that I still couldn’t hear the noise, I asked, “Was that you guys, making all those rustling sounds?”

Sydney stared. “What rustling?”

I opened my mouth to reply, but Rowan and Hunter were also giving me strange looks. I chose to drop the subject. Maybe I had been imagining it.

But there was something so… familiar about the noise! It almost sounded like a person. Someone purposefully trying to make sounds.

“Where are we?” I inquired, directing the question mainly to Rowan.

Sydney and Hunter turned to her as well.

“I… I don’t know!” she stuttered. “The leaf disappeared when I went through the portal.”

“Do you know what this means?” I said sternly. “This could all be a trap!”

“I know,” she moaned, dismally shaking her head. “I just wanted so badly to find out what could be here.”

“I don’t think it’s a trap,” Sydney said, “but something’s definitely wrong with this forest. Listen.”

We stopped talking for a while to follow her instructions, but the forest remained silent. “I don’t hear anything,” Hunter said.

“That’s the point,” she explained softly. “Forest’s shouldn’t be quiet. I haven’t been in many, but I know there should be animals scurrying around or at least birds.”

“She’s right,” Rowan said. She walked to a tree and placed her hand on its trunk and closer her eyes. “Most of the trees seem dead, but at the same time… more full of life than ever. It’s like they’re sleeping or something.”

“Really?” Hunter walked beside Rowan. “How do you know that?”

“Um, we don’t have time for lessons, Hunter,” I said. “We really should–“

All of a sudden, a painfully loud sound resonated around us, disrupting the silence. It almost sounded like an incredibly powerful gust of wind had just hit the forest, although I felt no breeze. It was followed by a cry of, “OW!” and a tree branch cracked somewhere in the forest not too far away.

“Was that a wizard?” Hunter asked.

“I don’t know,” I truthfully replied.

We carefully approached the noise. I cleared my throat. “Well, uh, is anyone there?”

There came a muffled grunt. “Depends on who you are.”

Wait. I knew that voice.

“Victoria?” I called out doubtfully.

Finally, the person emerged from the forest, her mouth a wide “o” of surprise. “Did you bring me here?” Victoria inquired.

“Don’t think so.”

“Then where are we?”

“We’re not sure.”

A sound similar to the one before came from the forest at that moment, but instead of someone ending up in there, I was blown of my feet by the force of someone teleporting too close to me.

Mark materialized where I had just been, the same dazed look on his face. He was in a dueling position, as if he had just been about to cast a spell. “Why am I…?” Without finishing his sentence, he looked down and helped me up. Giving an apologetic smile, he said, “I’m sorry. That’s the second time I’ve knocked you over.”

I guessed he was referring to when we encountered each other in Dragonspyre. “No, that was my fault. Now we’re even.”

Instead of grinning like I expected, he shook his head as if shaking his confusion off. “Can you give me a clue as to what just happened?”

He was interrupted by the sound of two more people teleporting: Vanessa, DreamHaven, the Balance Seeker, and her brother –

Liam GriffinBane.

It occurred to me that this could all be his fault. He had brought us here on some errand for Malistaire!

“You did this, didn’t you?” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

“N-no. Where…” He looked just as disconcerted as the rest of us, and for a moment I faltered. But I remembered all he had done to us in the past, and tried to assure myself that he was just acting.

In the meantime, Vanessa cried, “Liam!” She rushed toward him. Liam let himself be hugged, but halfheartedly. He was doing a really, really good job at feigning surprise.

Eventually, he composed himself and said, “I’m not responsible for this. I don’t even know how I got here.”

“Yes you do, liar.”

“Liam isn’t to blame,” Vanessa said protectively.

“I bet you anything that this was all his plan. Stop always defending him!”

“This was so not my idea. I was doing something important!” Liam finally seemed like he was back to his old self.

“Like arranging this?”


“Then what?”

“Stop it,” Mark said, coming between us. “If we want to get out of here, we will have to work as a team.”

“There’s absolutely no way you’re going to make me work with him.” I stubbornly spun around and faced the other way, crossing my arms across my chest.

“Haven’t you guys noticed anything strange?” Sydney said, apparently trying to change the subject.

“Besides the fact that everything in this forest seems frozen in time, and almost all of my friends are randomly teleporting here for absolutely no reason? Nope, nothing,” I said drily.

“No. I mean… we’re all Seekers.”

I glanced around, and for the first time, I realized that she was right. In fact, all of the Seekers were here. Sydney, Victoria, Mark, Hunter, Vanessa, and, as much as I hated to admit it, Liam. And me.

And Rowan.

I remembered what Mark had said a while back about Rowan being the Life Seeker. I had been so sure that it was Scarlet, maybe I never saw the answer was right in front of me.

“Right in front of… wait!” I turned around to look at Rowan, my head spinning. She was closer to me than Scarlet. And… the Headmaster had said almost exactly something like, “The answer may be right in front of you…”

“What is it?” Victoria asked.

“Rowan… you’re not… you can’t be…” I couldn’t even make out a sentence.

“Why are you staring at me like that?” Rowan said nervously.

“Rowan,” I managed, “I think you’re…”

Then I noticed there was someone behind Rowan.

It was a boy. He was a few years older than me, with black hair and brown eyes. I decided he was from the Death school and from his black and red Dragonspyre armor, probably a Grandmaster.

“Um, hi?” I said uneasily. It was kind of suspicious finding a random Death Grandmaster in a silent forest.

“Hi,” he replied. “Are you Sierra?”

Taken aback, I asked, “How do you know my name?”

“Well… would you believe me if I told you it is a long story?”

“I don’t know. I’ve got time. We’re obviously not going anywhere,” I muttered. Something seemed wrong. This guy wasn’t normal. The question was, was he a friend – or a foe?

“Then I guess I should introduce myself.” He smiled. “My name is Christopher BattleSword, and I’m the leader of the Seekers of Light.”

The whole forest was totally silent. Even more quiet than before, if that’s possible. My friends were all holding their breath to see what I would do. They all knew that I was their leader – not this guy.

“I’m not sure who you think you are…” I began.

“I just told you, didn’t I?”

That made me even more frustrated. “Well, yeah. But you’re not the leader of the Seekers. And I don’t appreciate you coming in here and pretending to be someone you’re not,” I growled.

“Who said I’m pretending?” he said, a slight tinge of annoyance in his tone.

“I did, just now. Because I’m the leader of the Seekers, not you, so…” My voice trailed off as others emerged out of the forest behind him. They all looked the same way – like something wasn’t right about them. But these wizards didn’t really scare me. I knew it was weird, but they wouldn’t hurt me… and I almost felt like I knew them.

“Perhaps I should have been bit more clear,” Christopher said, a taunting grin forming on his face. “I’m the leader of the first Seekers of Light.”

Dumbfounded, I looked at the new arrivals. Were these Seekers of the first generation?

“That’s impossible,” I declared, but even to myself I sounded doubtful. “You… you would be dead.”

“I didn’t know that these Seekers would be so stupid,” one girl remarked. “We are dead.” I turned to glare at her. She had purplish blue eyes, with light brown hair. She wore a golden robe, and her tan boots were lined with bright green.

Christopher, as he apparently was called, cleared his throat. “I think what Taryn is trying to say is…we’re ghosts.”

Now my gaze turned to disbelief. They looked so real!

“This is the only place we can be solid,” he explained. “These are the Woods of the Past.”

“What school are you?” I questioned.

“I’m Death. And Taryn is–”

“I can introduce myself, Chris!” Taryn said. I was surprised to hear a large amount of resentment in her voice. Evidently, she really didn’t like Christopher. I wondered why.

Christopher rolled his eyes, but the girl didn’t see it. She had already turned away and was looking straight at me. “I’m Taryn WildHeart. I’m the first Balance Seeker.” She turned to Liam and Vanessa, who were still side by side, and she smiled warmly at them. “I was so happy when I found out there would be two Balance Seekers!” Then gave Liam a disapproving glance. “If only you hadn’t disgraced our school.”

Liam looked away, appearing uncomfortable.

Another girl in the crowd stepped forward. I was surprised to see that her clothes looked an awful lot like mine – unlike the others I had seen, she was wearing MooShu clothing instead of Dragonspyre armor. Her robes were also colored blue and white, resembling mine. “I’m one of the past Ice Seekers, Meagan BlueGarden.”

“One of them?”

She looked away regretfully.

“Meagan can’t cast any spells,” a girl that also wore blue robes said. “It’s how her life was affected by dark magic. She had a curse placed over her by one of the Deathbringers.”

“The what?”

“Um… long story.”

“You’re her replacement, then?” Vanessa asked.

“Replacement? Oh, no. Don’t think of yourself like that, Vanessa! You’re as much a Seeker as anyone else.”

“Thanks… I think.”

I stared at all of these Seekers, particularly Meagan and the other girl in blue. Were they my ancestors? Hadn’t someone once told me that Seekers were all related, just skipped generations or something?

Then I remembered where we were. “Before any other introductions are made, can someone please tell us why we’re here?”

Christopher looked at another boy in the crowd, and the boy sighed, and stepped forward. I noticed he was wearing green. “I’m Zachary DreamMender. I… guess I’m here to awaken the Life Seeker.”

I stared in shock. “Isn’t it supposed to be a creature of the school to awaken them?”

“You mean a Spiral Guardian.”

“Maybe. What does that mean?”

“They’re the creatures to awaken Seekers,” Christopher said matter-of-factly.

“Right. Um, so, why are you guys here instead?”

“The Spiral Guardians have… problems to attend to. There has been an unusually high level of dark magic in the Spiral lately. Malistaire is gaining followers.”

“We kind of figured that out,” I said, glowering pointedly at Liam.

“Anyway, we were sent here instead. From now on we’ll be your guide.”

Guide… hadn’t I heard that somewhere?

“Oh!” I called out, the memory slowly returning. “The guys that awaken Seekers–”

“Spiral Guardians!” Zachary reminded me.

“Yeah, those. In the Spiral Tower, they said they might send a guide. But they never did.”

“Yes, they did!” Taryn spoke up. “I was there!”

“You were?” I said, confused.

“Well… yeah. And Chris. And Eric.”

I didn’t know who “Eric” was, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen him or the other two. “When did you guide us?”

“When you and Mark tried to enter the building, I opened the door,” Christopher informed.

“I was the one who led you up the ladder,” Taryn added.

“I was the one upstairs by the back door,” another boy said. I decided he must be Eric, and was probably Fire from the red color of his robes. “And in the forest a few minutes ago, I led you back to your friends. Sounds in here can get distorted and sound like they’re coming from directions they’re not, so I thought you might need some help.”

“That was you?” I gasped.


“But… it was just movement. You only… you can’t be…” I shook my head.

“Um, can we back up a little,” Rowan said, and I jumped. I’d almost forgotten the other Seekers were here. “Can someone tell me – who’s the Life Seeker?”

“You are,” Taryn said.

She was silent for a while, and then said, “You know what? …I already knew.”

“Really?” I said.

She looked at her shoes in embarrassment. “Yeah. It’s why I was captured. Handy went weird, and that’s how I was affected by dark magic. And it’s why that person behind the door called me Seeker.”

I stared at her. She was right. I had even more clues than she did, and all of them fit Rowan perfectly.

“What about Scarlet?” I said weakly. I still had a faint hope that they were wrong. That Rowan wasn’t a Seeker.

“Scarlet who?” Christopher asked.

That alone should have proven that my faith in her had been totally wrong, but I persisted. “Scarlet MoonHeart. She was with us at Vanessa’s awakening.”

“Oh. Her.”

At least he knew who she was.

“She would have been a great Seeker,” Zachary said. “Her parents were captured by Malistaire because of their power. They were great wizards, but they were no match for Malistaire’s dark magic. Scarlet doesn’t know it yet, but they were killed.” He shook his head sadly. “She didn’t have the power to be a Seeker, however. Unlike you, Rowan.”

“But… what do I do?”

“Usually you would have to assist the others on their quest to find the other Seekers, but since you’re the last one…” Christopher began.

“It’s time,” Zachary said with finality.

“Time? Time for what?” Victoria inquired. Then she stopped and a fearful expression came over her face. “Oh, no. You don’t mean–”

“Yep,” Taryn confirmed. “It’s time for you to defeat Malistaire Drake.”

Nobody spoke.

“We can’t do it,” Mark said. I was stunned. Usually he was our always-eager, always-optimistic member. If he didn’t think we were ready… I couldn’t imagine what was going through the others’ minds.

“Yes, you can!” Christopher argued. “The way you escaped from Malistaire’s lair proved that.”

“Well… we weren’t alone,” I admitted. “We had help.” I couldn’t stop myself from glancing at Liam. Even if the trapdoor had been destroyed, he still told us where it was.

“Who helped you?” he challenged.

“Well, the dragons did. You know, Mister Muffin and Lady Rascal,” I said. “And–”

“The point, Sierra, is that you had to rely on your friends. Besides, you won’t be alone in the final battle either, will you?” Taryn reasoned.

I scanned the room, full of my closest friends. There was Sydney JadeHammer, my best friend. I had a feeling she would risk her own life to save mine, or anyone else we knew. Standing next to her was Victoria RavenSmith. From what I had seen, she was sometimes a bit shy, and kind of pessimistic, but she would face anything if she needed. Mark DarkCrafter always knew how to cheer us up, no matter how annoying he became. Hunter ThunderShield… well, he wasn’t exactly your ideal teammate, but when he chose to use treasure cards, he could be unstoppable. Vanessa DreamHaven was very supportive, and I knew she would be an amazing ally. And my sister, Rowan WIllowLeaf… she always cared for everything, and I couldn’t imagine her fighting evil. But I knew she would still help us. All my friends had fantastic qualities.

…But what about me?

I wasn’t really good at anything. Ice wasn’t very powerful, so I couldn’t help with attacking. I had lots of healing treasure cards from my sister, but what use was I when a real healer was right there? My defense was my only benefit, and what good would that do for my friends? Even Liam had been loyal to his family, willing to sacrifice anything for them. But what would I do if it was a choice between me and my friends? I’d love to be all brave and say I would risk my life as long as they lived, but honestly… I wasn’t sure.

I realized that Taryn was still awaiting an answer. I replied slowly, “I guess you’re right.”

“Good.” She beamed. “That’s the first step. Another is realizing that you may have more allies than you know.”

“Yes, yes. Okay,” I said, nodding solemnly without truly understanding.

“Now go to the headmaster. He will know what to do. And I’m sure you will want to tell him what you have done.”

“Yeah, definitely!” I said, thinking about how proud the headmaster would be. I had finally completed my mission! My heart beat faster with excitement.

“Um, before we go…” Sydney began.

All fifteen pairs of eyes turned to her, and she blushed. “I was just, you know… wondering who the Fire Seeker was.”

“That would be me.” As I suspected, it was the boy dressed in red that had been one of my “guides”. “I’m Eric FireSword.”

“While we’re at it, I will introduce all of the past Seekers,” Christopher said. “Meagan BlueGarden and Victoria FireFinder are Ice; Maria StormForge is Storm; Ryan HexTamer is Myth; Zachary DreamMender is Life; Eric FireSword is Fire; and I’m Death.” He pointed to each person as he introduced them, but I doubted I would remember their names.

“What about me?” Taryn huffed.

“You said you didn’t want me introducing you,” Christopher said firmly, but he was smiling.

She glowered at him, but, like before, he ignored her, returning to us. He looked straight at me. “You don’t understand what an honor it is to be a Seeker leader, do you, Sierra?”

“I don’t know. Not really. Why?”

“I didn’t like it much at first, either. But if grows on you after a while. So do your teammates.” He grinned. “Unless you have someone like Taryn. At least she talks to me now. You should have seen it when we first met. She tried to push me off a cliff.”

“I said I was sorry,” Taryn grumbled.

This only made me more confused. For some reason, Taryn really hadn’t liked Christopher.

A girl in Myth school clothing declared, “Can we leave now? We’re done, aren’t we?”

“What’s wrong with us?” I asked indignantly. “Who are you?”

“Ryan HexTamer,” she said. “Weren’t you listening to Chris?”

I stared. “Isn’t Ryan a boy’s name?”

“Ugh!” she moaned, her eyes flashing with anger, but Christopher interrupted, saying, “Yeah, I think it’s time Sierra and her team leave. I’m sure you have a lot to think about. You need to prepare.

I nodded, but when I thought about “preparing,” I shuddered. I highly doubted I would ever prepare enough for what I was about to face.


We left the supposed “Woods of the Past” through another portal made by Zachary with a leaf identical to Rowan’s (though, for all we knew, it could just as well had been the same one since Rowan had lost hers). Though they hadn’t mentioned it, I had a feeling we would be seeing Christopher and the past Seekers again very soon.

The portal transported Sydney, Hunter, Rowan and I into the area where the original portal was supposed to take us – MooShu Spirit World, with Kagemoosha awaiting a fight. I guessed the other Seekers had been taken back to wherever they had been before. However, except for Hunter, who was fascinated by the new wonders of the Spirit World, we were all too worn out to fight. Everyone went home, besides me. I had to talk to Headmaster Ambrose.

I teleported to the Commons and walked to the headmaster’s house. With every step my anticipation grew, and I became more and more ecstatic. This was it! I was going to tell Headmaster Ambrose everything, then head to Dragonspyre, and defeat Malistaire, and everything would be okay again. I forgot about the fear and challenges and danger, it only for a moment. I saw my mission as just another simple quest, and I could enjoy it.

It didn’t last long.

I burst into the headmaster’s house screaming, “Professor Ambrose, I did it! I found all the Seekers! I–” I stopped as I realized how empty his office was. It was never like this – there were always some kids in here, even if the headmaster was out. Not today. Everything was eerily quiet.

“Headmaster?” I called again, walking a bit farther into the vacant space. “Hello? Is anyone here?”

I swung open the doors into the next room, where Gamma the owl usually sat. He wasn’t there either. That was strange, too. Headmaster Ambrose would never leave his office unattended, unless…

My heart pounding, I raced back into the cluttered office, hurrying to his desk. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, but I started filing through papers and opening drawers, hoping for some clue at the headmaster’s disappearance.

It was then that I heard a sickeningly familiar voice say, “Looking for something?”

I looked up and gasped. “Mary.”

Mary RavenGem was standing there like a living nightmare, her hands on her hips and a smirk on her face. She shook her head. “Did you really think that you would ever win?”

“How did you–”

“–Know you were here?” she finished. “Well, your friend Liam certainly helped.”

Actually, I was going to ask her how she had made it through Ravenwood without anyone sensing her. Some of the Spiral’s most powerful wizards lived here, and one was bound to feel her dark magic. But her answer only infuriated me, and I forgot my inquiry. “Liam told you? How dare he! I… I trusted him! We let him attend such an important Seeker meeting, and… and…”

“He betrays you,” Mary said, examining her wand casually as though she didn’t care about the conversation at all. “Yes, that’s the one. Don’t you have more important things to do anyway, Sierra? Like tell the headmaster about your wonderful accomplishment?”

I just glared at her, stunned into a furious silence.

As usual, she pretended like she couldn’t see my bad mood, and smiled. “You know what? I think I’ll help you out. You do want to save your friends, right?”

“My… friends?”

“What, you didn’t know about them? Oh, what were their names? There was that girl in the Ice school who gave us quite a hard time, talking all the while about her friends Victoria coming for her.”

“Jasmine?” I whispered, a lump forming in my throat.

She snapped her fingers. “Right! And there was a Pyromancer and Theurgist as well.”

“Seth? Scarlet?” They were my closest friends, besides all the Seekers. If Malistaire had taken them…

Mary beamed again, but this time it was more taunting and menacing, like she was challenging me. “Aren’t you smart,” she said with mock amazement. “You’re phenomenal.”

“Where are they?” I demanded, taking a threatening step forward.

Mary didn’t even flinch. “I’m sure that when you see it, you will recognize it.”

“What? Just… just tell me where they are.”

She shrugged, and then pointed her wand at me. “You’ll have to find out.”

Flicking her wand, she smiled and waved.

Before I could stop it, I was teleporting.