Alexander laid on his back on the quilt in the grass. The sunlight streamed into the solarium. Fox tickled Alexander's feet. He giggled and kicked his feet free. "That's my strong baby boy. You like that, don't you?" She grabbed his feet again. Owen cleared his throat behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him dimly through her long red hair. "Yes, Owen?"
"Madame, your mother is here. She wishes to see you and Alexander."
"Better show her in." Owen bowed his head slightly and retreated from the solarium. Fox sighed, sat up, and looked down at her son with red-blond hair laying on his back on the quilt. "I wonder what your grandmother wants now."
The elevator doors slid open on the floor of the solarium. Owen stepped out first and bowed as Anastasia walked past. Fox and Alexander were sitting on a quilt laid out in the grass. She walked forward, fully conscious of the sound her dress shoes made against the flagstone sidewalk. Her daughter watched her with an I-won't-antagonize-her-because-she's-capable-of-leveling-the-building expression. "Hello, Fox. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Mother."
Anastasia knelt on the quilt. "And how is Alexander? My, aren't you getting to be a big boy."
Alexander rolled over with a laugh. "Look!" He levitated a foot above the ground, righted himself in the air, and floated to his feet. "See what I can do!"
Anastasia clapped her hands with delight. "Oh, Alexander, that's wonderful!"
Owen appeared behind them. "Madame, do you want me to feed Alexander?"
"Is it lunch time already?" Fox picked the boy up and lifted him to Owen. "You and Grandma can visit after lunch."
"That was nicely done," Anastasia murmured as Owen and Alexander boarded the elevator.
Fox turned to her as she stood up. "Well, Mother, we worry when you decide to show up. We don't know what new whim you've decided to act on. So I hope you don't mind if we try to learn what it is out of Alexander's earshot."
"Actually, I think it's a good policy." Anastasia stood up gracefully, smiling. "Combining my suspicious nature with your father's cynicism has given you a healthy sense of paranoia."
"Very funny, Mother." Fox started walking down the flagstones to the bridge spanning the pool. Anastasia followed. "So what scheme are you working on now?"
"I'm merely checking on you and Alexander. What makes you think that I'm up to something?"
"The first time you were here, you tried to get Oberon to kidnap my son. Then five months ago, you dropped Cassandra on us without any warning." Fox crossed her arms over her chest as she glared at her mother.
Anastasia smiled at her daughter's glare. "I hardly call asking her to help protect Alexander a scheme. And I did come to your first anniversary party and was on my best behavior."
"But you couldn't come to Dad's funeral?"
Anastasia's blue eyes winced. "I couldn't, Fox. I couldn't."
"There seems to be a lot you can't do, Mother. You couldn't tell me the truth about you. You couldn't tell me the truth about me and my son. You couldn't even tell Cassandra what you wanted her to do."
"We were under attack."
"Loki almost killed her and Lexington just to kidnap Alexander, and you couldn't warn us?"
"Fox, dear, you don't understand."
"Then explain it to me." Fox stopped in the center of the bridge.
Anastasia sighed and continued walking. Fox kept at her side. "I nor any other of Oberon's Court are permitted to interfere directly with the Unseelie Court."
"And just telling us what's going on is directly interfering?"
"The Unseelie Court cannot know that steps are being taken to thwart them. We lost many, too many during their first uprising. That is why the battle is left up to the gargoyles and the heroes, both old and new. And the halflings. If all those forces fail and the Courts fight again," Anastasia shuddered, "it will be the end of the world."
"So that's all Alexander and I are, soldiers for your army?" Fox demanded.
"No!" Anastasia grabbed Fox by the shoulders. "Didn't your fight with Oberon teach you anything? Science can only go so far. In order to defeat Madoc, you'll need both science and magic. You're my daughter, Fox. I love you and I want you to be safe. And to be safe, you must recognize and use your magical potential."
Fox pulled away and looked out of the wall of glass. It was easier than looking at her mother's face.
Anastasia sighed. "Perhaps I have handled things poorly." Fox looked back. "If you want Oberon to do anything that's in everyone's interest instead of just his own, you have to manipulate and scheme. But somewhere in my long life, I forgot that there are other ways. And that sometimes those other ways are better. I am sorry, Fox, for any pain I may have caused you."
"I have never heard you apologize."
"It's not easy," Anastasia admitted. "I am trying to make amends."
"And I shouldn't try to stop you?" Fox shook her head. "Don't answer that, I already know. Let's find Owen and Alexander."
Xanatos peered into the kitchen. Anastasia was coaxing Alexander to eat some strained peas while Fox sat at the table and flipped the pages of a thick, leather-bound book. "Hello, Anastasia. How are you?"
"Just fine, David. As I have explained to Fox, this is just a visit."
"And your husband won't be showing up unannounced?" He walked into the kitchen and laid a hand on Fox's shoulder. She looked up with a quick smile and turned back to the book.
"I don't plan on staying very long, so Oberon shouldn't even miss me." She looked over at them with a sly smile. "He's not that bad when he's not being a high-handed authoritarian."
"We'll have to take your word on that." Xanatos peered down at Fox's reading material. "What is that?"
Fox glanced up with a smirk. "Mom came bearing homework."
"It's a book of spells," Anastasia explained. "I hope it will make learning magic a little easier."
"But the last spell book you used . . . .."
Xanatos didn't finish because Fox whipped her upper body around to face him. "That was a human spell. These are Third Race spells."
"They're probably too advance for Alexander." Anastasia wiped Alexander's face and hands, and freed him from his high chair. "But Fox shouldn't have any trouble." She set Alexander on her hip. "Come on, you're going to show me your toys."
"Don't worry," Fox said as Anastasia and Alexander left the kitchen. "I'm not reading any of these aloud until Owen approves them."
Angela slipped into the library. Patrol was ending as the rest of the clan regrouped at the castle. Broadway and Lexington had promised to take the twins to a movie tonight, and no else wanted to see it.
Now would be a good time to see her mother, but Demona had left New York for the rest of the week on business. She sighed as she dropped into one of the chairs surrounding the library's long table.
The library's door opened and Cassandra's head appeared. "Angela, there you are. Brooklyn, Sata, and I are going down to the Labyrinth. Do you want to come?"
"No, no." Her hand grabbed hold of a leather bound book sitting on the table. "I think I'll stay in and read."
"Fine." Cassandra used her talon to flip aside a lock of black hair that refused to stay out of her eyes. "I asked. Can't do anything more than that."
"I just don't feel like visiting." A jolt traveled up her right arm. Angela gasped and released the book. It landed on the table with a heavy thud.
"Are you all right?" Cassandra's eyes were puzzled.
"It slipped," Angela smiled wanly and picked the book up again. "It's not hurt."
Cassandra accepted the explanation and left the library, shutting the door behind her. Angela set the book back down on the table. The only time she had felt a sensation like that was when she had tried to pry the Eye of Odin from the Arch-mage. The Eye's was more painful, she dimly remembered. What was this book?
She opened the cover quickly and pulled her hands away. The first page inside was titled "A Spell for the Transfer of Souls."
the flesh must first grow weak.
Just long enough for soul in flight
to pass from cheek to cheek.
"A spell book!" She flipped quickly through the handwritten pages. Spells for glamour, transformation, portal making, true love, bending will, channeling, prophetic visions, and remembrance.
Angela paused at that page.
Cast spell on a mirror or scyring ball.
She looked up. She didn't know what a scyring ball was but a mirror was hung over the library's fireplace. She picked up the book and carried over, setting it up to read on the mantle. She took a deep breath and read the spell silently. Yes, she could show the events to someone else. Goliath had said before that he wished he could have seen the eggs grow up on Avalon. And maybe she could show Demona that not all humans were bad.
She took another deep breath as she reached her right hand up to the mirror. Her talon traced a circle on the glass as she chanted.
Show truly events long past
Show what created love and fear
At my command this I cast."
A tingling sensation traveled through her right arm, into her talon, and spread a white glow through the glass. Angela stepped back. The mirror didn't look different. "Show Castle Wyvern before the Massacre."
The mirror only showed the room. Maybe it had to be part of her personal past. "Show Princess Katherine bringing the eggs to Avalon."
The only picture the mirror showed was Angela's disappointed lavender face. She sighed. "I guess I'm not strong enough in magic yet." She turned her back to the mirror and set the spell book back on the table. She turned off the lights as she left the room.
The glass in the frame pushed out like a hand behind it was trying to push through cloth. It extended into the room. The back of the mirror lifted away from the wall. The glass cracked, running diagonally from the top left corner to bottom right, and the glass returned to its normally flat state. The mirror's back banged against the wall once as the mirror settled back into place above the fireplace mantle. A sigh escaped into the darkened library.
Hudson lifted himself out of his easy chair. The rest of the clan had made plans and left the castle. Young blood, he mused as he headed to the kitchen.
The hallways were brightly lit, not like when the castle was still in Scotland. All you had then were torches and candles. You lost some of the ambience with all of this electricity. Hudson sighed. Thinking like that didn't do any good. Besides going back to using torches and candles meant giving up television, and he didn't want that.
He turned a corner and found another gargoyle blocking the hall. The aqua-marine gargoyle smiled as Hudson's mouth fell open. She turned away, her blonde hair swishing over her shoulders, and headed down a branching hallway.
"Angel? My angel of the sea?" Hudson took a step forward and lurched to face the hallway. She had vanished. Hudson placed a hand against the stone wall for support. "A ghost? But surely I would have seen ya before now."
"Hudson?" Angela hurried down the hall. "Are you all right? Is something wrong?"
Hudson sighed and straightened. He forced himself to smile for her worried expression. "This old eye is playing tricks on me, lass. That's all."
"Are you sure you're all right?" she insisted.
"Aye, lass. I'm fine." He took another glance down the empty hall. "Just fine."
"The kids really liked your magic tricks, Cass." Brooklyn commented as he flew between Cassandra and Sata.
"Only I got one of them interested in becoming the next Houdini. Now I have to find out how to perform magic tricks without using magic."
Sata smiled as they followed an updraft. The city was comparatively quiet at this time of night. "You enjoy their company; everyone can see that. Sharon and Maggie commented on it."
"In Troy, I grew up with Priam, his children and his grandchildren. Seeing those children down in the Labyrinth brings back happy memories."
"You've never had any children?" Brooklyn asked.
"Not since my mate died."
"Brooklyn-san, that was not a polite question to ask."
"It's all right, Sata." Cassandra landed on top of their roosting tower. "It's not a regret or an unhappy memory, just something I wish I had the chance to change." She pulled her wings around her silver shoulders and headed down the stairs in the floor.
Brooklyn turned to Sata as they landed. "See, sometimes being direct works."
"Still, you should not pry."
"Admit it, you're just as curious." Brooklyn caught a gleam of gold on the opposite rampart. He stiffened as a gargoyle silhouette vanished into the shadows.
"Of course, I'm curious." Brooklyn didn't respond and Sata frowned. "Brooklyn-san?" She turned in the direction her mate was staring. Nothing was there. She turned back to him. "Brooklyn?"
Brooklyn shook his head. "I must be seeing things. Let's go in."
Owen frowned at the cracked mirror in the library. The problem was he couldn't see how it had been broken the way it was. It was not broken yesterday, and if the gargoyles had done it last night, they would have said something. He shrugged and pulled out his cell phone. "This is Burnett. The mirror in the library. Yes, the one above the fireplace. It must be replaced. The glass is cracked. Yes, see to it right away."
He put the phone away and glanced back up at the mirror before leaving the library.
Angela stretched as she headed down the hallway after leaving the library. She had worked the spell two nights ago and the mirror still refused to show anything. The spell was a failure.
The halls were empty, and her footsteps echoed in them. Broadway was probably already in the kitchen. She fingered the hair jewelry he had given her to mark their engagement as she smiled.
A human figure stood ahead in the shadows. "Owen?" The figure didn't reply and Angela felt the back of her neck tingle. Owen didn't wear a robe.
She leaped forward and the shadows shifted, revealing a tall, gaunt man with white hair and beard and blue eyes. She stopped short. "Magus!"
The Magus turned and walked away, turning down another corridor. Angela shook her head and ran after him. The corridor was empty.
She bolted for the kitchen.
Xanatos glanced up at his open office door. A woman walked past, a tall woman with brown hair pulled back in a bun. He got up from his desk and walked to the door. "Excuse me?"
The hall outside his office was deserted. He frowned. She couldn't have turned the corner that quickly. And she had looked exactly like . . . ..
Xanatos shook his head. That's impossible. My mother's been dead for years. He looked back into his office, then pulled the door shut and headed to bed.
Goliath looked over the courtyard of the castle. Graeme was training Nudnik, and the pup was actually behaving. Hudson was supervising.
He turned his gaze from the courtyard to the towers surrounding it. Most of the clan was inside watching a movie on television. And if they were, who was the gargoyle slipping through a tower window?
Goliath leaped into the air and glided over. An orange-brown tail disappeared inside, just like he remembered it doing long ago. He caught himself on the wall and peered inside. The room was empty and the window's glass was undisturbed. But this was her tower, and this was where she had kept her laboratory. But it couldn't be his rookery sister. It was impossible to think it. He climbed down to a point where he could leap to a rampart.
Hudson glanced quickly at Graeme and Nudnik. The lad had missed Goliath's dash across the castle through the air. What had Goliath seen that he had missed? No one had been in the window Goliath had leaped to.
Hudson's gaze traveled down the tower. His mate stood in its shadowed door. She smiled at his distressed expression and stepped forward into the light.
"Hudson, is something wrong?" Graeme asked.
Hudson turned from the tower. The lad was looking up at him--partly concerned and partly excited. He looked back at the doorway. It was empty. "Ach, no lad. I was just letting old memories get a wee bit strong. That's all."
Lexington typed furiously at his keyboard. He was so close to finishing this security program, only something wasn't working. He clinched his teeth and growled in the back of his throat.
Someone entered the gargoyle's living room; he saw the movement out of the corner of his eye. "The TV's free now."
There was no answer. Lexington glanced around his monitor. A female gargoyle with long white hair and brown skin stood in the doorway. She smiled and stepped back into the darkened hallway.
"Wait!" Lexington scrambled off his stool and ran to the door. His rookery sister was gone.
Cassandra walked down the hall to the living room door. Lexington was standing in it, his hands clinging to each side to support him as his wings filled the door and he glanced up and down the hall. He stopped jerking his head around and stared at her. "Is Puck around?"
She stopped walked and felt her brow ridge furrow in puzzlement. "As far as I know, he's still stuck as Owen. Why?"
He glanced back down the hall and turned back. "No reason." He let go of the door frame and backed into the living room.
Cassandra walked up to the door and looked in suspiciously. Everything looked normal. The olive-green gargoyle was hunched over at his computer. "Okay, don't tell me what's wrong," she replied and resumed walking down the hall.
Why would Lex ask if Puck was . . . well behaving normally? Something out of the ordinary must have happened that made him think of Puck. But he also didn't want to talk about it. She sighed. Maybe he's just spending too much time in virtual reality.
She turned to corner and gasped. A seven-foot-tall male gargoyle stood off to the side, close to a side hall. His wings were caped around his midnight-blue body. He smiled at her before stepping into the shadows of the hallway. She jogged to its opening. The pink sunrise was beginning to be visible in the windows at the end of the empty hall.
Broadway swooped down into the courtyard and landed. Patrol was over for another night. Angela was still out with Cassandra, but the rest of the clan had returned to the castle.
He headed into the castle toward the kitchen. He turned down the final hall and met Fox and Alexander. He stopped before running into them. "Hiya, Fox."
She smiled as she repositioned Alexander on her hip. "The kitchen's all your's, Broadway. Good-night."
"Good-night." He rounded the next corner and stopped short again.
One of his rookery sisters stood in the hall ahead of him. Her blonde hair was plaited in a long braid that was slung over her dark-purple shoulder. "You're dead!" he blurted.
She smiled and sidestepped into the shadows of an adjacent hall.
Broadway frowned as his quick steps brought him to the empty hall. He walked down it; all thoughts of food gone.
Goliath walked into the library. Patrol had been quiet for the past week--even the Unseelies seemed to be avoiding showing themselves. He wouldn't complain; there would probably be a fight soon enough and mean while there was a book he wished to finish.
She was sitting in one of the chairs facing the fireplace. She stared down at the book in her lap, carefully turning the pages with her orange-brown talons. The firelight gleamed on his rookery sister's spiraling horns, and her farseer was wrapped around her head.
She never looked up, just faded from his sight. Goliath didn't move. She had been here and now she was gone. It wasn't possible.
"Uh, Goliath, you're blocking the door." Brooklyn said behind him.
Goliath whirled around and stepped out of the way for the red gargoyle. "Sorry, Brooklyn."
"Are you okay?" His second-in-command looked at him with worry.
"I'm going to see Eliza."
Brooklyn frowned at the lavender gargoyle's sudden departure. "Tell her hi." He turned back to the empty library.
Fox set down the CyberBiotics reports and rubbed her eyes. I'm getting as bad as David. She leaned back in her chair and stretched. "Tomorrow is another day and maybe the numbers will stop running together."
She picked the file off her desk and turned to banish it to the file drawer. The drawer rolled shut and she turned back to her office.
Halcyon Renard sat in his wheelchair in the shadows beyond her desk lamp. Her green eyes filled with tears but she blinked them away. "Dad?" she whispered stepping around the desk.
He began to fade from view. "Dad, no!" He vanished completely and Fox was alone again in her office.
Cassandra frowned at the figure ahead of her. "You're not getting away this time," she muttered as she ran down the hall after the dark blue male gargoyle.
He turned down a side hall that was empty by the time she reached it. An ancient Greek oath exploded from her. "You've had two thousand years to haunt me; why start now?" She folded her silver arms across her chest and scowled down the hall.
The scowl began to soften. "Why have you started now? I need to know more about ghosts."
Broadway found Lexington at his computer. "Lex, have you noticed anything weird going on?"
"What do you mean by weird? For us that can mean humans start flying through the air or King Arthur drops in for a visit."
"How about seeing dead rookery sisters in the castle?"
Lexington turned away from his keyboard. "You saw her too?"
"I saw the one with blonde hair. Who did you see?"
"The one with white. I thought my cybernetics were acting up. Or Puck was playing a trick."
"Was he?" Broadway's face looked hopeful.
"Cassandra said no."
"If it wasn't Puck, not your cybernetics, and we both aren't crazy, what's going on?"
Lexington frowned. "Maybe the castle's haunted. With its history, ghosts wouldn't be completely out of the picture."
"If it's ghosts, wouldn't we have seen them before now?" Broadway scratched the bumps on his aqua-marine head.
"I didn't think gargoyles could become ghosts. I mean, we don't have ghost stories like the humans do." Lexington typed something into his computer and hopped off the stool. "I think we better look up what the library has on ghosts."
"Good idea," Broadway followed his rookery brother out of the living room.
"It was one of my rookery sisters, one that has been long dead." Goliath paced in front of Eliza's couch. "And this was the second time I have seen her vanish before my eyes."
"This isn't the first time we've run into ghosts, Goliath." Eliza said, sitting cross-legged on the couch as he continued the pace. Cagney was curled up between her legs, purring. She rubbed his head as she watched the lavender gargoyle. "What about Hakon and the Captain of the Guard in Scotland?"
"But magic was at work keeping their spirits in the cave."
"How do you know magic isn't at work here?" Goliath stopped pacing. "There are three halflings living in the castle now, and two of them are just learning magic. What if something went wrong with a spell and they haven't noticed yet?"
"It is possible," Goliath admitted.
"Then let's go back to the castle and find out." She stood up. Cagney meowed at being forced to move and landed on the floor. He marched out of the living room. "Before you wear a hole in my carpet," Eliza finished.
Owen completed his last security check for the night. Nothing was out of order. He left his office and started for his rooms.
A young woman stood in the hall. He stopped short, shock leaking onto his face. She was still dressed in the last thing he had seen her in--a tie-dyed T-shirt and a pair of ragged blue jeans. It had been twenty-nine years since he had worn anything similar. Her long black hair was a thick mass of curls cascading over her shoulders and down her back. The yellow sun was still painted on her right cheek. She smiled at him, knowing who he was despite this form.
"Bridget." His voice sounded strange, strained.
Her smile broke into a grin and she disappeared. Owen closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He took a step backwards and spun around. Only one other person in the castle knew about Bridget. But she would never do anything like what had just happened. Not to him.
Cassandra was sitting at the table in the library with a thick book lying open in front of her. She snorted derisively at what she read and the page flipped itself. Lexington and Broadway exchanged glances and headed for the shelves.
Another page turned itself over and Cassandra didn't move her hands from under her chin. The action was repeated three times before Lexington asked, "Why don't you use your hands?"
The next page flipped itself. "For the same reason you plug a computer into your brain, it's easier. Not that it matters. This Price fellow isn't the least bit helpful."
Owen appeared at the library door. "Cassandra, could I speak with you for a moment?"
"Of course." She stood up and joined him outside the door.
"Lex, I can't find anything on ghosts," Broadway admitted.
Lexington frowned and picked up the book Cassandra had been looking through. "This is about ghosts."
"But Cass said it wasn't helpful. She must've seen something!"
"She could have," Lexington admitted as he headed for the door. Broadway followed him.
"I swear on the ashes of Troy, I never told a soul about her." Cassandra declared.
Owen looked at Lexington and Broadway standing in the library door. "Yes?"
"Have you been seeing ghosts too?" Broadway blurted.
Cassandra and Owen exchanged glances. "I've seen my mate twice and he's been dead for two thousand years. And Owen has seen a deceased," she paused to look at him again, "acquaintance. What about you?"
"Two different rookery sisters. Is this some type of Unseelie tactic?" Lexington frowned angrily.
"What would they gain from it?" Owen countered. "But if we four have each seen an apparition from our past, perhaps the others have as well."
"And we'll have a better chance of figuring out what's going on. I'll find Hudson," Cassandra offered.
"We'll see Brook, Sata, and the twins," Broadway agreed.
"Very well. That leaves Mr. and Mrs. Xanatos for me. And Goliath and Angela."
"Goliath went to Eliza's," Cassandra told him. "Let's question everybody else first."
Brooklyn set the casserole dish on the kitchen table in front of Graeme and Ariana. "One dinner."
Graeme sniffed and his green beak crinkled. "It doesn't smell like Mom's."
"And it's still moving," Ariana pointed out.
"Any more comments and you get to forage in Central Park."
"Brooklyn-san!" Sata's voice entered the kitchen before her jade green hand pushed open the door. "Something is wrong!"
"Yeah, with dinner." Graeme made a face at the helping on his plate. Ariana kicked him under the table.
Brooklyn gave his son the Look. "What's wrong, Sata?"
She took a deep breath. "I saw Yoshi in the hall."
"The leader of the Ishimura clan way back when?" His red features grew puzzled.
"Yes. And he vanished before I could confront him."
"You saw a ghost, Okasan?" Ariana's eyes opened wide as Lexington and Broadway entered the kitchen.
"I saw something, Ari-cha. It took the form of clan, but I doubt it was a ghost. There would be no reason for Yoshi to haunt the castle."
"Well, I guess that answers that question," Lexington said.
"What question?" Brooklyn looked over the twins' heads at his rookery brothers.
"We've both seen ghosts too," Broadway explained. "Two of our sisters. Cass has seen her mate, and Owen has seen something."
"And I have seen Yoshi," Sata frowned.
"We haven't seen any ghosts," Graeme scowled.
"Me neither," Ariana chimed in.
"But I've seen someone that shouldn't be here," Brooklyn admitted. "Four nights ago. I've actually been looking around the castle just to make sure she wasn't here."
"Well, that makes six different ghosts." Lexington frowned. "How many still think we're being haunted?"
"Some sorta Unseelie attack?" Brooklyn's expression was concerned.
"Owen doesn't think so," Broadway shrugged his wide shoulders. "But we should stop it."
"Agreed," Sata declared. "Children stay here and finish your dinner."
"But we could help." Ariana couldn't quite keep the pleading out of her voice.
"You haven't seen anything," Brooklyn pointed out. "And we don't know what we're dealing with. Stay here and stay out of trouble."
The twins pouted, but chorused a dejected, "Yes, Father."
"Let us find the others," Sata led the way out of the kitchen.
Angela eased around the corner of the hall. The Magus was ahead of her, striding down the hall. She didn't cry out but quickly followed him.
The tears were still sliding down Fox's cheeks. "I don't understand, David. Dad wouldn't haunt me. He didn't even believe in ghosts!"
"Fox." He sat beside her on the edge of the bed and pulled her into his arms. "I don't understand what's going on either. I saw my mother last night."
She looked up. "What?"
"I didn't get a good look but a woman walked past my office and what I saw looked exactly like my mother. When I tried to find her, she was gone."
"I don't like this." The tears had stopped but she still sniffled. "If someone's going to attack us, fine. But leave the memories of our parents alone."
"That's my girl." He aimed for her forehead, but Fox changed the tilt of her head so that his kiss fell on her lips instead.
A knock on the bedroom door interrupted them. Xanatos pulled away with a sigh. "Yes?"
"I am sorry to disturb you so late at night, sir. But something seems to be occurring in the castle that you might wish to be aware of."
Xanatos sighed again and untangled himself from Fox. "And Owen usually has such good timing." He opened the door and let Owen in. "Just as well you decided to come, Owen. What do you know about ghostbusting?"
Owen's usual inscrutable expression did not change. "Then I take it you have seen an apparition as well."
"As well?" Fox had wiped her face of the tears and was starting to look angry. "You've seen a ghost too?"
"Yes, Madame, I have. So have Cassandra, Broadway, and Lexington. But we have each seen a different ghost."
"Is this some sort of Unseelie attack?" Xanatos frowned.
"It is possible, sir. But unlikely. These apparitions haven't tried to attack anyone or do anything beyond disturbing anyone who sees them. An Unseelie attack would take the opportunity to do more."
"I don't care who's behind this." Fox slipped off the bed and strode to the door, flipping her red hair around her head. "I want it to stop!"
Xanatos smiled quickly through his brown beard as she threw open the door. "You heard the lady, Owen."
"Yes, sir. The gargoyles are questioning the rest of the clan. Perhaps they have discovered something."
Hudson sat in his recliner in front of the television, but the set wasn't turned on. A hand gently touched his shoulder. He jerked around to face Cassandra. "Sorry, lass. Aye didnuh hear ya come in."
"I did not want to disturb you."
"Aye could use a distraction. Old memories coming close tonight." Hudson sighed.
"For all of us, I'm afraid." Hudson gazed at Cassandra as she knelt beside his chair. "I've been seeing the ghost of my mate. He died about two thousand years ago in Greece."
"What?" His talons gripped the recliner's arm rests.
Cassandra nodded. "Twice now. Broadway and Lex have seen two of their rookery sisters. Even Owen has seen someone."
"So I'm not crazy then." Hudson leaned back and closed his eyes, sighing. "Ya donna know how glad I am to hear that."
"Then I guess you've seen a ghost too?"
"Aye, my mate. She died in battle when the Trio were still hatchlings."
Cassandra took a deep breath and stood up. "We're not crazy, but we all seem to be seeing ghosts of loved ones who died violent deaths. What's going on?"
The Magus had reached a door to the courtyard and still hadn't vanished from her sight. Angela stayed behind him and didn't cry out for attention. She pressed against the wall and waited for him to make the next move.
The clear light from the waning moon spilled into the hallway from the door. The Magus was solid, even casting a shadow. He stood perfectly still in the light, but did not look back. Finally, he stepped outside.
Goliath swooped down to the battlements and landed. He set Eliza on her feet and she looked up at his pensive expression. "What's wrong now?"
"I'm not sure how to confront the rest of the clan with this. It sounds crazy."
"Yeah, it does." She touched his arm. "But no more crazy than fighting Unseelies, having Thanksgiving with the Labyrinth clan, or just trying to have a nice quiet date."
"You're right," he admitted as she linked her arm with his. "Let's find the rest of the clan."
They heard the others before they saw them; many loud and a few angry voices echoed through the halls from the gargoyles' living room.
Brooklyn was the only one to see Goliath and Eliza enter. He joined them quickly. "We're all seeing ghosts, Goliath. Tell me you're the exception."
"I'm afraid not. I've seen one of my rookery sisters--the one who invented things--twice."
"That's the weird thing."
"Besides seeing ghosts?" Eliza asked with a smile.
"Besides seeing ghosts," Brooklyn repeated. "Everyone seeing a different ghost. Lex and Broadway have seen two different sisters. Sata has seen the leader of the Ishimura clan in the sixteenth century. Hudson and Cassandra have seen their mates. Xanatos and Fox have seen their parents. And Owen and I have seen people we know can't be here."
"The twins haven't seen anything?" Eliza asked, any traces of mirth gone.
"No, they haven't."
"What about Angela?" Goliath asked.
Angela let out the breath she had been holding and moved to the door in a quick, stealthy move. She didn't see the Magus. Had she followed him all this way just to lose him now? She stepped out into the empty courtyard.
She stood on the steps and sighed. He must have vanished again. But that explanation rankled; she wanted the truth to why the Magus was haunting the castle and her.
A hand grabbed her right arm and yanked her around. The Magus grinned at her. "I've got you."
"Why are you doing this?" She tried to pull away and couldn't. The grip was too strong.
The Magus's features contorted. His skin shifted from the pale white to a dark grey. His nose and mouth stretched into a beak. "I've got you," he repeated with a growl. The grip on her arm tightened.
Lexington's cybernetic hearing was the only one to hear the noise from outside. Everyone else in the gargoyles' living room was still talking about the ghosts. He eased through the group and headed outside.
From the battlements, he could see down into the courtyard. Angela was struggling to free herself from a monster's grasp. Its skeletal frame was barely covered by dark grey skin. Her struggles lessened as a shadow swirled around her, and the monster gained weight, slightly increasing the gaunt figure. "Angela!" He climbed onto the battlement wall and dived off.
Goliath's question silenced the group as they realized no one had seen Angela since patrol had ended. So Lexington's yell was heard as it echoed into the room.
"It came from outside," Eliza pulled her gun out and ran out the door, Goliath and Brooklyn following. Broadway was the next.
Lexington's descent carried him straight to the point where the monster's talons grabbed Angela's. He collided with them, and the force caused the monster to lose his grip. Angela stumbled away.
The monster grabbed hold of Lexington and snarled in his face. He turned away from the decaying stench billowing from its beak. "No life," it growled and hurled Lexington into the air.
Lexington tumbled and spread his arms. His webbed wings slowed his descent until he found a current to glide on. He circled back.
Goliath and Brooklyn each had hold of an arm and shoulder of the skeletal monster, but it was straining them to hold it back. Broadway was helping Angela. Lexington circled again, and angled his descent to ram into the monster.
The monster looked up and saw the grin on Lexington's face. Suddenly, it vanished. Goliath and Brooklyn stumbled and lost their balance. Lexington glided through the now empty air and landed. "Where did it go?"
"What is it?" Brooklyn demanded as he lifted himself off the courtyard stones.
Goliath looked up. The monster appeared again, next to Broadway and Angela. "Broadway, look out!"
Broadway shoved Angela back. "Run!" He faced the monster with white blazing eyes. "You're not getting her!"
The monster raised its right arm and swung it to backhand Broadway. Broadway braced himself and reached to block it. The monster evaded his block and the blow threw Broadway across the courtyard.
Angela stumbled back. "No," she whispered as the monster moved forward.
Hudson jumped from the battlements, sword drawn, aiming to bring the point down through the monster's head. As he came down, the monster faded to the point where you could see through it. The sword passed through harmlessly.
Hudson landed and pulled his sword back. The monster solidified again and turned with a broad sweep of his arm. It knocked Hudson aside and turned back to Angela.
Angela backed up again and her back hit the wall of the courtyard. Cassandra jumped from the battlement above and landed between them. A green glow spread from her hands and formed a dome over herself and Angela. The monster reached out his hand. It flattened against the green glow. The monster howled and flailed both fists against the dome. "Get through that." Cassandra turned to Angela. "Are you all right?"
Angela slid against the wall and sat down on the floor of the courtyard. "I'm tired, so tired."
Eliza, on the battlements above, aimed her gun at the monster's back. Owen laid a hand on her arm. "Your bullets won't stop that thing, Detective. Only its creator can destroy it."
"Well, who created it?" She drew back her gun.
Xanatos turned to his wife. "Fox?"
"It wasn't me! I haven't even mastered the stupid candle trick!"
"Can Cassandra stop it?" Eliza asked.
Owen didn't even turn his head from the scene below. "That remains to be seen."
Cassandra looked at her shield. It was holding against the creature's futile pounding. Beyond it, Sata was helping Hudson to his feet. Goliath and Brooklyn looked like they were considering rushing the monster again. She turned back to Angela's tired face. "Angela, what happened?"
The lavender gargoyle took a deep breath. "I was following the Magus and he grabbed me and changed into that." Her talon shook as she pointed to the monster. "I tried to get away but I couldn't, and I'm so tired." She closed her eyes.
"Angela, no! Wake up!" Cassandra grabbed her shoulders and shook her until she opened her eyes.
Did she create it? Puck's voice echoed in Cassandra's mind.
"Angela, did you make that thing? Did you cast a spell?"
She shook her head. "It didn't make anything. It just made the mirror show the past."
"In the library."
"Do you remember the spell?" Cassandra asked.
"Any spells you do remember?"
Angela took a deep breath. "A ward of protection."
Cassandra sighed. "Maybe we can work with that. Cast the ward inside that thing."
"Cast it small."
Angela took a deep breath and began chanting in Latin.
The monster paused in beating the shield, peering down at them. It howled and resumed the pounding.
Angela slumped against the wall. "It's there, but it's not strong enough." Her eyes began to droop.
"Oh no." Cassandra gripped Angela's shoulder. "I'll give you the power. Just make the ward stronger."
Angela's eyes opened wide as a green glow surrounded Cassandra and the hand connecting them grew hot. The green glow began to spread over her body. She took a deep breath and channeled the power into her ward.
The monster staggered back and clutched at his chest. It howled and clawed at the air as a green glow appeared in a crack in its chest. The crack widened as Angela felt her hair rise away from her body.
Static electricity filled the air. The monster fell to its knees as the green crack split its torso in half vertically. Its howl reverberated off the castle's walls. Goliath and Brooklyn back away. The monster's howl switched to a high-pitched scream as its body exploded. The limbs vanished in a green glow as they flew through the air. Angela and Cassandra slumped to the floor.
Lexington helped Broadway up. "Where did it go?" He asked, dazed.
"I think Angela and Cassandra blew it up," Lexington replied. "I'm not sure how."
"Is it gone for good?" Eliza turned to Owen as she slipped her gun into its holster. Owen was gone.
Goliath cradled Angela's head in his arms. "Angela," he whispered.
Her eyes cracked open. "Father. Is it gone?"
Cassandra opened her eyes and tried to sit up. It was easier to lean against the human arms holding her. "I'm all right. Really."
"Of course you are," Owen replied. "The fact that you are glowing bright enough to read by is nothing to be concerned about."
"Oh hush." She tried to sit up again and clutched her head as Owen held her steady. "Ouch."
Brooklyn stepped closer. "Is everyone okay?" After receiving affirmative replied, he took a deep breath. "Okay, second and third questions; what was that thing and is it gone for good?"
"Wraith -- a magically constructed creature that feeds off the emotions of people. Takes the shape of dead loved one to obtain powerful emotional reactions. A wraith can only gain physical existence by draining the life force of its creator. And Angela unmade it, so it's gone bye-bye."
Brooklyn blinked at Cassandra. "Where'd that come from?"
"Thoth's library on Avalon. This is really weird." Cassandra's eyes were opened wide. "I've never had total recall before. Now I could recite the entire Orestia and I only read it once. When Aeschylus had it written out!"
"It's probably a side effect of all the energy you're holding," Owen suggested.
"I couldn't let Angela hold it all."
"Okay, next question," Brooklyn glanced down at Goliath and Angela and back at Cassandra and Owen. "Why Angela? She doesn't cast spells."
"Actually, I do," Angela replied in a small voice.
"She's what?" Goliath roared.
Angela's eyes filled with tears. She leaned her head against Broadway's chest. He squeezed her shoulders as they sat on the couch in the living room. Broadway frowned at her distress but aimed his expression at the floor.
"She said you wouldn't understand." Angela tried to keep her voice steady. "She said you wouldn't like it." It wasn't working.
Eliza laid a hand on Goliath's arm as he struggled to control his temper. "How long has Demona been teaching you magic?" she asked quietly.
"Since Halloween last year. After I told her what Madoc had done. She said I had the ability and it would help keep me safe and no one else in the clan could do magic." Angela glanced at Cassandra who sat cross-legged in the corner four feet off the floor. "This is before you joined the clan."
"Sounds logical to me." Cassandra bobbed in the air as she spoke.
Owen entered the living room carrying a large, leather-bound book. "Is this the spell, Miss Angela? Within this surface clear, show truly events long past."
Angela nodded numbly.
"A spell of remembrance. Designed to enable a mirror or a similar object to show the past." He closed the book carefully.
"Isn't that the book Mother brought a few days ago?" Fox frowned as she stared at it.
"Yes, it is, Madame."
"But why did it create that wraith thing?" Lexington asked.
"Mixing magics," Cassandra shook her head. "Big no-no."
"What does that mean?" Sata's jade green face frowned.
"These spells," Owen paused as the book floated from his hands and into Cassandra's lap. "Belong to the Third Race. Human, or more accurately mortal, magic works differently. Instead of a magical mirror to act as a historical television, Angela summoned a magical creature through it."
Angela's eyes filled with tears again. "I didn't know. All I wanted to do was make the mirror show the past. So that Mother could see that Princess Katherine and the Magus didn't steal us. And Father has said how he wished he could have known my rookery." Goliath's frown vanished. "And all I did was endanger you all," she finished bitterly.
"You were the only one in danger," Cassandra commented without looking up from the book. "You summoned the wraith without the wards to keep it from attacking you. Another big no-no."
"Is she going to be all right?" Lexington whispered to Owen.
"She will as soon as she uses up that excess energy or dawn comes. Whichever is first."
"Why would anyone want to create such a monster if the danger to themselves is so great?" Sata asked puzzled.
"With the proper wards, a wraith can't attack. And if you sent it to just one person to see all the loved ones her or she has lost, or caused to die."
"That's just sick," Broadway declared.
Cassandra ignored him. "I should have sent one to Titania!"
"If you're referring to the prank you pulled on her for retribution, I believe what you accomplished had the desired affect."
"Audio and visual; that would have annoyed her ten times as much!"
"Cassandra," Goliath rumbled. She sighed but didn't comment. He turned back to Angela. "Why didn't you tell the clan that Demona was teaching you magic?"
Angela hung her head. "She asked me not to. She said you wouldn't understand." Her face looked up into his. "She wants to help and this only way she knows how. Do you want me to tell her she can't just because you hate magic? That's not fair, Father."
Goliath turned his face away, but the brief glimpse visible exposed his indecision. "When my mother brought me that book," Fox broke in. Everyone turned to her. She took a deep breath. "She said that science and brute strength can only go so far in the fight against the Unseelie Court. We will need magic to bridge the gap."
"The more, the merrier," Cassandra muttered under her breath.
Goliath sighed, "What about Cassandra teaching you?"
"Only if you want more goof-ups like this one." Cassandra shook her head, flopping her hair on and off her face. "My training is based on Third Race magic." She stopped shaking her head in time to see Angela's hopeful expression fall. "But I'd be happy to watch over her training. And make sure Demona doesn't show her the way to level the city with magic."
"Fine," Goliath rubbed his temple. "Tomorrow night, both of you can go and explain to Demona the new arrangements."
"I can't believe I agreed to this." Cassandra swooped under Angela and found an air current to glide beside her.
"If it wasn't a good idea, why did you suggest it?" The lavender gargoyle looked straight ahead.
"I'm not sure. Most of last night after we defeated the wraith is a blur. But you don't seem to be too thrilled either."
Angela bit her lower lip. "Mother's not going to like this."
"She'd like Goliath putting his foot down a lot less."
"True." But Angela still looked worried.
Cassandra sighed. "I'm positive I can find a way to reason with her. Immortal to immortal."
Angela glanced at her. "You're both immortal. Humans killed your mate. Humans have hurt Demona so many times I've lost count. But you don't hate them."
"Humans raised me. I know there are both good and bad in us all. I can't hate an entire species."
"I wish Mother could learn that."
"From what I have gathered from you and the rest of the clan, Demon has lived with her hate for a long time. Hate has a way of twisting you, discoloring all your perceptions."
"But you have hated?" Angela asked.
Cassandra sighed. "No, not really. I said I hated because it was easier than crying. Even when I pulled my prank on Titania, It was more of an opportunity to show her that her actions have consequences than true revenge."
Angela wanted to ask her about that prank, but they had already reached Demona's mansion. She swooped down to the balcony of a brownstone mansion with a large lawn. When Cassandra had landed beside her, she knocked on the glass doors.
A blue-skinned gargoyle with flaming red hair threw open the doors. "Angela!" Demona embraced her. "You're a lovely sight after so many board meetings." She caught sight of Cassandra and let go of her daughter. "Who is this? One of your rookery sisters?"
"No, this is Cassandra. She has joined our clan." Cassandra bowed with the introduction.
"Goliath's clan. And no one warned you about the dreaded Demona?"
"Actually, I got five separate warnings." Cassandra grinned as Demona ushered them inside.
"And you didn't heed any of them?"
Angela glanced apologetically at Cassandra. "Mother, Father asked her to come."
Demona turned to her angrily. "What? Do you need a keeper? Or do you need someone to protect you from my influence?"
"Actually, the only thing we're concerned about is Angela's magical training." Demona started and whirled around to stare at Cassandra. "I don't want to intrude upon your mother/daughter bonding . . . .."
"Then don't!" Demona interrupted angrily. "If Goliath wants to spy, tell him to come himself!"
"No, Angela," Cassandra held up a hand. "She has every right to be suspicious. Truth is, my presence is a compromise to keep Goliath from canceling Angela's magic training."
Demona turned from Cassandra to her daughter. "You told Goliath?"
"I didn't have a choice." Angela sighed. "A spell I tried backfired. He reacted just like you said he would."
"Of course he did," Demona snorted. "Goliath and I haven't been fighting to draws this long because we're lucky. I'm surprised he agreed to let you continue."
"After I offered my magical skills to keep Angela from accidentally blowing up the castle, he didn't have the pretense to forbid it. I want to act as an advisor--mainly if Angela wants or needs a second opinion."
"I'm surprised he didn't try to make you take over the teaching." Demona's scorn pulled her chin up defiantly.
"Who said he didn't? Goliath doesn't like magic--even though he realizes we need all the help we can get to fight Madoc and the Unseelie Court. But I can't teach Angela and he just has to deal with that."
"Why not?" Demona dropped her scornful tone.
Cassandra sighed. She had warned Angela not to reveal how old she was or her connection Puck because of Demona's reaction. But this question deserved an answer. "My father was one of the Third Race." She levitated off the floor to prove it. "You and Angela practice mortal magic. It's never a good idea to mix the two."
"You can say that again," Angela muttered.
"You must have quite a story to tell." Demona glanced at Angela. "Both of you."
"Mine is not important." Cassandra stepped back out on the balcony. "And I don't want to intrude on your bonding. So Angela, you can tell her what happened at the castle and I will meet you back there later." She jumped into the air and swooped away.
Demona closed the doors. "Strange for a gargoyle. How long has she been with you?"
"Almost five months now."
"There's more to her story, isn't there?"
"That's true of everyone," Angela replied, worry pinching her eyes a little.
Demona smiled, "Do not worry so. If she decides to tell me, she will. I won't make you betray a confidence." She put her arm around Angela's shoulders. "Now tell me why you had to tell Goliath about learning magic."