It was Mila's surrealist maze that had bought them enough time to reason with the Butterfly lady while her friend struggled in the maze.
Jeong Soon and his wife, Lady Naemi Soon stood alongside Sato, Xenshi, Xushu, Jasmer, Feylashar and Thara whom had just arrived to assist the group.
One moment it was the Butterfly lady that had a rage in her eyes and then it had fled her and become manifest. Jasmer had recognized its form first as Lorr, the first Power Lord and the husband of Lyra. Lyra was the Mother of all magic upon the Aerth having been given it as a gift by the Aerth Mother and Gods of All as many as ten thousand years ago.
Lorr had wanted to keep that power within their family alone, never allowing their offspring to mingle with other humans whom were not similarly gifted and so he planned a incestuous breeding program to keep the power theirs. Lyra disgusted with his greed and lust for power deserted him and started the first Order Of The Weave to stop him. She trained others in the use of the weave and even found a new lover with whom she'd bore a child so that the secrets of magic would be shared with humankind and to protect it.
Lorr's and Lyra's first original children were twins. A boy and a girl whom at reaching the age of eighteen procreated once again to bare the next generation of twins whom were also a boy and a girl. This line continued as it had started with the twins until the modern times growing stronger with each generation. Lorr had fed upon this growing energy to maintain his life force for this long even outliving Lyra who'd passed on centuries before leaving behind the legacy that would eventually become the Order Of The Sanctum. Those of all cultures of the Aerth who'd benefited from Lyra's willingness to share the secret and the line of the weave.
Lorr had through the years attempted many times with the help of the Norbids to corrupt or infiltrate the Order Of The Sanctum. His plans and manipulations of the lives of many mortals were always geared to such goals and it was no surprise to Jasmer when Lorr had erupted from the Butterfly lady's aura to appear before them. Jasmer was a veteran of the fall of the first Sanctum and had even joined the Power Lords for a time until his love, Yirfir had once again won his heart uncovering the virtue and honor with which he'd committed himself to her and their fight against Lorr. For the love of Lyra and her willingness to share the gift with all.
What Lorr had tried to contain was akin to trying to contain the secret of procreation itself and to contain it. To keep it secret so that none could have child or so that only a select few could have the right to bare a child. Provided your blood was pure or true could you have this privilege. Much was the same with the weave and keeping it for their own and their line.
Jasmer readied himself for battle summoning his elemental energies to do battle with the Power Lord. Jeong Soon jumped in front of his wife, Lady Soon who'd managed to engulf the group in a protective bubble. Feylashar stepped up to Lady Soon casting forth a spire of energy further fueling the protective barrier.
The Butterfly lady and the Power Lord were on the other side of this barrier as Lord let forth his own magic. His hand contacted the barrier and it disappeared as he absorbed the magic into himself. Lady Soon and Feylashar both fell unconscious to the cold floor of the assembly hall as the Power Lord moved forth to finish them all.
Sato moved first advancing upon the Power Lord as Jasmer let a blast of cold fire forth from his hands. It hit the Power Lord turning to flames.
"Sato! Don't attack him!" Jasmer yelled as Sato had landed the first blow.
The Power Lord laughed at Sato's pitiful impact.
"Well, a martial artist? Let me try!" Lorr said as he directed a strike connecting dead center of Sato's chest.
Sato flew the distance of the assembly hall hitting the back wall and falling to the floor unconscious.
Heylyn Yates, otherwise known as Ai Yuanlin Ying in her native Chinese tongue and also as the Butterfly Dragon moved next. The concepts of negative and positive energy were nothing new to her and she'd understood the concept completely but really the concept of polarity was powered by two forces. Willpower and followers. The more your commitment and belief in the sidedness of any force or paradigm, the more likely it would succumb to your willpower in those regards. The more who followed any sort of sidedness with regard to that duality the more likely the sidedness was to go to their favor.
Heylyn's willpower was nearly indomitable but Lorr had tricked her by impersonating someone or rather something that she had learned to trust since she was a little girl. The Butterfly Dragon. Weltherwithsp whom was nowhere to be seen.
She focuses her energies aware of how this Lorr person might perceive his field and if she believed and was sure of herself and her righteousness in defending these people, she might actually affect him.
Her wings erupted from her aura glowing and brilliant as she leapt into the air. The Power Lord turned to face having absorbed a large degree of Sato's martial arts prowess.
She landed behind him delivering a kick to his back. He folded gently allowing the force of her kick passage as he helped her follow that force into the floor. He spun as she continued directing her with the force of her attack. She instantly recognized what he was doing and tucked herself into a roll. Instead of continuing through with her roll, she extended her arms stopping her roll dead pushing herself back up and towards the jaw of the Power Lord. Her booted feet impacted his face sending him backwards to the floor as she flew upwards into a roll allowing her wings to pierce his aura and break his polarity reversal. By the time he hit the floor he was subject to the full blunt trauma of her attack.
He immediately got to his feet in pain and fury and launched a bolt of embers at her. She attempted to dodge them though they flew too fast for her to avoid. They struck her side and burned through her protective armor and suit burning her flesh. She struggled on the floor of the assembly hall trying to brush the embers from her body. With a last ditch effort she brushed them off of her as she rolled on the floor in pain. Her body's accelerated healing was pushed to its limits against the injury and she fell unconscious from pain. It was at that moment that her friend had arrived and far too long overdue.
As her aura shimmered it emerged from her, a forty foot long serpentine dragon with two butterfly's wings, the feathers of a bird, the antennae of an ant, the whiskers of a mouse, the rings of a worm and the stinger or a bee. It by far dwarfed Lorr and took its place between him and the others including Heylyn who'd been pulled to safety by Xenshi.
"Is that you Weltherwithsp? We haven't come face to face for a millennia. You do remember the last time don't you? I believe you were developing or should I say misleading another young mind. Twisting her much like you are likely doing to this one so that she may be another lost pawn in our little game." Lorr said to the Dragon.
"Twisting seems a forte fall of the meandering of your call upon the face of words by which you deceive those who I've taught merely to believe... In something of their heart and that is the good which is in each of us... You've lost your compass Lorr. You lost it when you deceived Lyra and when she left. Your faith is not in others but only in yourself. Your offspring you see are merely reflections of you. You look nothing for their own minds and hearts but only of your own upstarts and the greed of your soul! Is your blood so superior that anything of worth that comes from others is yours by claim? You prey upon the fearless and those bold enough to make an effort! How many have you preyed upon who've lost their creations or life's pursuit because of your belief that your blood is superior? Or because you believe that if you can keep it secret better than they can that it is yours more than theirs. You schemed these ways to take it from them? Much like you did to your own love, Lyra did you not? You stole her children from her because you believed it was your blood that powered the weave? You are a despicable disease upon the face of the Mother's Aerth. They were bore in her womb and the weave from there arose!" Weltherwithsp said to the Power Lord.
"It is you who misled! Serpent! In all of history you've been tread upon and under foot! Deceitful are your words and in the face of those whose lives have been enriched by my blood though it was Lyra who betrayed me to share it with them! That horrible Wytch!" Lorr said drawing the lines of the battle upon the minds of those who'd bare witness to it.
"You speak of a one sided and twisted interpretation of folklore that depicts all serpents as being the deceiver when it is you who deceive. You are relying upon the effects of millennia of such interpretation within the minds of those whose beliefs cross such questions without allowing them to make up their own minds. That's because you don't believe in their freewill to make their own choices. Instead you lure them to heated hatred based upon such interpretations. In the East, the serpent is the bringer of fortune and luck and often wisdom to those whose ears such a serpent's words fall upon. For me to benefit from the Eastern interpretation and to blindly mislead those who followed it unquestioningly is as bad as you trying to mislead those whose interpretation of serpent related folklore sees them as being the deceiver of humankind, forever consigned to crawl on their bellies. I am no more that serpent than I am the bringer of luck and fortune, though I am certainly the bearer of wisdom should you use your ears in the correct ratio to your mouth to listen! I only offer truth and the trust of those who hear this truth to make their own free choice without consequences despite whether they befriend me or loath me. Yours is to make monsters of your enemies by making hate in your victim and then by pointing to them. Look, there goes the one you all despise! The enemy! Know them by their hate! Yet when it is you and your followers doing the hating you offer no such anecdote or compass pointing to you as the enemy, for all to despise! You only draw alarm when have you provoked such ill from those you victimize! Perhaps that is another of your reversal tricks? Your love meaning hate and your hate meaning your love? If so, then when is one to trust that you're telling the truth? If none can guarantee your compass as pointing in the correct direction, then how can there ever be trust of you?" Weltherwithsp spoke, its voice thundering and shaking the entirety of the Sanctum to its foundations.
"Trust is a game of numbers, Weltherwithsp. Like the Casus Belli it is for those wise in the ways of words to manipulate, hoping that those numbers and the minds they reflect benefit your cause enough to power your war upon your competition. That support fluctuates depending upon who you are with and where you are. It is merely a tool through which to gain control and power. The compass may point north or south and it makes no difference so long as you gain the trust of the side with the most numbers at that point in time." Lorr responded to Weltherwithsp's onslaught.
"You are wrong Lorr for it is consistency through which you found your ideals that others form to trust you. To deceive them by concocting a different story at different times to meet the needs of different people is wrong, for they will no doubt sooner catch on to what you are doing. Even should you do the same to my words and deeds, putting them in the mirror to reflect their inverse or opposite and relay them as such to others, people will eventually figure out that they have been deceived by you. Honesty and consistency is important so long as the consistency is about right and protecting the people and their right to be. Learning sometimes brings change to one's consistency but once one has hardened themselves to protecting the basis of their virtues will you rarely find inconsistency except through the social illusion of those who'd want to hide one's consistency. Perhaps when one is so right does the justification exist for trying to make them appear so wrong." Weltherwithsp once again countered Lorr's argument.
"You always were a difficult one to debate with. So honorable and so... Even you have your diametrical opposite. Have you not told her? Even you keep secrets from those you'd have trust you." Lorr spat at the Dragon.
"Do you speak of the twins when you attempt to lure members to the Norbids? My nemesis and the balancing card of my dichotomy are spoken through allegory, much as your allusions to the Western folklore about the serpent. When West Meets East to trust in these differences in understanding and interpretation will we all benefit despite our ignorance, interpretations and differences. Now, we fight for the freedom of those who've been trafficked as human cargo which I suspect you have little to do with yet you used this time to gain entry into the Sanctum and to destroy them once and for all. Shall we settle this now and in battle Lorr?" Weltherwithsp asked the aging master sorcerer.
"I spent a century healing from our last encounter. I have no wish to meet the same fate again but we will meet again under less favorable circumstances for yourself Weltherwithsp. As for that cargo ship, I have little to do with that though I found my way to it when I sensed an abundant warp in the field of the weave. One that indicated that many practitioners were present and on board. I was not disappointed either. Finding my way into the Sanctum was more difficult though I knew when I recognized your student, Heylyn that I could impersonate you and trick her into helping me gain entry you fool. What they found on that boat was only the tip of the iceberg. You'll know so only if you can make it back soon enough to see them make their rendezvous... Until we meet again sssserpent..." Lorr said purposely spraying his word as much as he could before slowly fading from view.
Jasmer looked to the Dragon who hovered before him in the assembly hall of the Sanctum.
"Well. What now serpent?." Jasmer asked somewhat sarcastically.
"Ironic that you Jasmer should pose that question or is it a suggestion? Either way I hope it as such and before just as much should you find my repose fine I ask you in kind, what now sorcerer?" Weltherwithsp settled down eye to eye with Jasmer.
"We've got to get help for the Butterfly Dragon! She's dying!" Monique said tending to her burns with an ice block Shaela had conjured.
"We have no other healers present in the Sanctum on this night? We have to revive Feylashar and my wife!" Jeong Soon said cradling her in his arms.
"I know a tale that was told to me once by Ganesh in my sleep. In the tale he spoke of an elixir of the mind whose juices were the very essence of the soul. Karma. Prana as I'd been taught. This elixir was needed to revive a beautiful shepherd from a trance she'd fallen into upon a field. Mara's seed blossoms, deadly flowers upon which Mara sometimes slept had erupted and caught the shepherd. A Prince so captivated by her beauty that he'd fallen in love with her, called upon Ganesh to help him. He made the elixir from the spires of Prana of his own mind and body to heal her. He fed her the elixir with a kiss and she awoke to see the Prince. Of course she fell in love with him and they lived happily ever..." Athandra told her story.
"I fail to see how a fairy tale can help us here? Are you proposing I kiss Sato?" Barris said interrupting her ending.
"Well he is your friend and I'm sure it wouldn't hurt!" Mila said to Barris sharply encouraging Barris to listen.
"I am saying that perhaps our own Karma and Prana might be the key to healing and reviving our friends? After all, you've done much good in your lives? The Gods look upon this favorably and it manifests itself as Karmic life progression. You so much love your friends that perhaps you would rather they be well than for your own progression? You might give up your gain so that it might benefit their health?" Athandra explained.
"I was looking forward to a vacation on an island with a spa honey..." Barris said to Mila.
"Our friends first..." Mila said to Barris.
"I'll give up something to revive Feylashar. Besides, once she's healthy she could heal us all. I mean last year I rescued the lives of a dozen or so farmers from the murderous Norbids. Six of them. Two of them Norbid Magi." Shaela said to them trying to bring up some good karma to benefit Feylashar's health.
"Saved them? They were a lynch mob and they were going to kill you and the Norbids!" Mila reminded Shaela of the incident.
"It was their good fortune that my shadow cat scared them off like that before eating those Norbids." Shaela responded to Mila's insinuation.
"They would have been eaten too if they'd stuck around..." Mila said to her in response.
"But they lived... If I hadn't summoned the shadow cat they would have been killed by the Norbids who likely would have killed me seeing as I was outnumbered. Only by one mind you..." Shaela lifted her chin in the air rolling her head side to side.
"That saved lives. It matters not your intent though intent does count, but more so that the end result of your words or your action saved lives. That is the way of Karma." Athandra explained.
"You aren't trying to convert us are you?" Shaela said defensively clasping her chain of Mother Mary.
"No, I am not trying to convert you. Your beliefs are yours and I respect them despite our differences. My Gods and yours work together despite their differences too. Even if you don't believe anything at all. If you are good, the universe will conspire to help you. So will the Gods." Athandra said to them.
"So there. I told you it was a good deed." Shaela said to Mila who rolled her eyes.
"Honey? What about all those paintings you did for the hospital... The one with the sick children?" Barris asked Mila.
"Yes! Exactly! Barris came home one day all proud that he'd donated some money to a local hospital foundation. He had the brochure in hand when he came in the door. I'd been laying on the sofa all day, with artist's block when he came in. I jumped to my feet eager to see him..." Mila said blushing a bit.
"...she was all over me. She was a beast of lust and she..." Barris said looking to her lovingly.
"I was lonely... withdrawn... I hadn't been in front of a canvas for weeks. Barris always gives me my space when he knows I'm having trouble finding my stride. When he got back I was... Well let's just say that after we spent two hours up stairs together..." Mila said blushing again.
"....fixing the bed..." Barris jumped in to cover for her.
"For two hours?" Jeong Soon asked in amazement.
"It really needed fixing if you know what we mean..." Mila said smiling at him.
"Oh? That kind of fixing. I know exactly what you mean." Jeong Soon replied tightening his grip on his unconscious wife.
"So after we'd fixed the bed... we were laying in it and I found Barris' brochure for the hospital. I read it while he slept..." Mila explained to them.
"I wasn't sleeping Mila. I was... thinking with my eyes closed." Barris said to her.
"While he was thinking with his eyes closed and snoring I read the sick children's brochure. He'd donated some money and I though to myself, I have to do something for them! So I ran downstairs to my studio and locked myself in it for the night. I produced a series of paintings over that time of each of the kids in the brochure though with my own Mila twist. It was of each of them doing something amazing. I had one sitting at the Judge's bench with a gavel in hand. I had another in a space suit putting the flag on the moon. I had another wearing surgeon's gear getting ready for an operation. All in all there were nine of them which I donated to the hospital." Mila said to the group looking to Athandra.
"That is most gracious and inspiring Mila! That is such good Karma to heal the sick. For those children to see themselves as you do. When we look into a mirror with our own eyes we often miss what others see in us. That will certainly help Feylashar." Athandra said to both her and Barris.
"Is it not egotistical to take credit for one's own good? To put your name upon your own creations? That must be full of ego." asked Jexelen honestly.
"No. In life it is a necessity to earn money honestly to buy food. If you barter your skills, you must take ownership of what you barter so that you may receive future business based upon your good work. You must put your name on a painting you sell because someone else may like your art and want to buy it. You must put your name on something you create so that someone who wants to buy it can do so. It is not ego to label your work or even to profit from your name, but it is crime to lay claim to someone else's work for any reason. There are exceptions of course. For instance, I can sell a tree that I grew. I didn't create the tree or trees for that matter, but I cared for the tree that I am selling and your buyer is paying for that time. You may sell your paintings and though you did not make the paint or the canvas, though I suspect Mila often does, your customer is paying for your talent and time making the painting. Some may copy a painting by taking a picture of it and selling it as a print. This is much like piracy and it is wrong to do so." Athandra explained.
"I once saved an entire colony of seals!" Nelony announced standing from her vigil beside Feylashar.
"You mean from clubbing?" Mila asked.
"Honey, seals despite popular belief do not go to dance clubs..." Barris replied.
"I'm not laughing yet..." Nelony responded and there was a moment of awkward silence.
"No really. I rescued an entire colony of seals. They'd been trapped in a reservoir formed between two separate icebergs which had collided. The reservoir was sealed but had a small pocket of air so they could breath. The reservoir was protected by ice five feet thick pretty much the whole way around." Nelony explained.
"So how did you get them out?" Monique asked as she tended to Heylyn's wounds.
"Get this. I talked to some walruses. I told them about the reservoir and then told them not to tell any other fish or mammals in the sea. Well, most people don't know that walruses are suckers for gossip. They're the gossipers of the deep. You tell them not to tell anyone and they tell everyone! Well after telling these walruses about two hours goes by and a small army of whales shows up. The killer whales started first and they begin to pry the icebergs apart. About ten sperm whales join them with the help of seven whale sharks. There's a lot of motion going on under the water but no sign of the icebergs separating. Then out of nowhere comes four families of blue whales with a few bulls and calfs and they all join in. Well within fifteen minutes the icebergs break free of one another freeing the seals." Nelony said smiling holding her index finger in the air.
"You're taking the credit for the work of all of those whales? How could you?" Barris said to her in levity.
"So you used your knowledge of how the walruses are socially to spread the news to the other sea creatures. It worked and the seals are safe. You did very well and in coming up with that way of doing so it might lead to a greater understanding of the creatures of the sea." Athandra said to Nelony.
"Yea, like don't ever tell a walrus something that you want kept secret..." Barris replied.
"Well that's three very good deeds. Now how do we deliver the elixir of the mind and body to Feylashar?" Mila asked Athandra.
"Someone must kiss her." Athandra said to them.
"Who? We don't have a Prince... wait a second. No! Mila would kill me!" Barris responded.
"Only if she doesn't wake up..." Mila said to him.
"Honey, this is the second time this has happened! Remember that castle slash hotel in Transylvania when I was kidnapped and we met that Gypsy and you fell under the spell of the Count and I had to kiss the Gypsy to rescue her?" Barris said reminding Mila of one of their earlier adventures.
"Honey! Kiss her!" Mila said looking him in the eye.
"Yes dear." he said surrendering to her.
"Could you look away honey? In case I enjoy this... and I probably will..." Barris said to Mila who threw him a furious look before she resigned her view elsewhere.
Barris leaned forward hovering over Feylashar's sleeping face. His lips slowly descended until they were barely touching hers.
Five minutes later and Feylashar had revived Lady Soon, Sato and Heylyn (even repairing her armor with her healing magic).
"I suggest that you all get ready. You'll be returning to the ship and hopefully in time for the rendevous." Jexelen reminded them of their mission and its importance.
"I will be by your side little Ai Yuanlin Ying when you need me or heed me." Weltherwithsp said to Heylyn who'd gotten to her feet.
"I trust you Weltherwithsp and more importantly, I believe in you." Heylyn responded as a Woman.
"Then ta ta it is for now..." Weltherwithsp coiled further and further until the Dragon was gone into nothingness.
The members of the Sanctum got ready next to Heylyn and Monique.
"Looks like we had them all wrong eh boss?" Monique asked Heylyn.
"We don't now. That's what counts. We have some new allies too." Heylyn said to Monique.
Shaela and Nelony stepped over to Feylashar who was still checking over Sato making sure he was in top shape.
"So tell me, what did it taste like kissing Barris?" Nelony asked her.
"Well you know, I have to say that he really tasted like..." Feylashar whispered into her ear with a smile on her face.
With that Nelony burst out in giggles and struggled to relay the message to Shaela's ears. Shaela broke down in a fit of giggles herself as the portal back to the boat reopened.
To be continued... and far from the end...
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Canada M5A 3Z5