Makai Gaiden: The Unbroken Seal



While the actual act was slightly surprising, nobody would have guessed Walter would just up and try to take a group of kids, the thief knew it never crossed his mind once, the result went exactly as planned. Just about everybody was focused on that idiot and didn't notice a lone figure slip into the woods. That distraction was enough that a few more items was able to be grabbed and added to the payload for later. While an exact number of items was never agreed upon one or two more couldn't hurt. They looked exotic enough that they should fetch a high price from the buyer. It pretty much became a mantra at this point, it didn't matter what it did, the story made the sale.And there were plenty of stories to create in that pile that had been collected over these past few weeks.

“What are you doing out here?”

No, no no. The moment when it was all over and be in the clear was so close, this couldn't be happening now. Calm down, don't give anything away, “Lynda.”

She looked impatient as she readjusted the grip on her spear, “Don't make me ask you again. I saw you walk away while everyone was gawking at that idiot and the kids.

Okay, relax, there was a plan in mind even if this happened. “It occurred to me that the thief could use the commotion Walter was causing to get to where he was hiding the things he stole. I didn't think I had time to get you or one of the others. Time was of the essence, and it should be one of us who finds the thief and the items that were stolen.”

It was hard not to looked unnerved by the glare she was emitting in this direction. But eventually she lowered her spear slightly and said, “Damn right it should be one us.” Good old vault guard pride, so easily to manipulate. “So , did you find anything?”

“Not at the moment, I'm starting to think the thief headed to another part of the woods. I sort of went this way at random because it was closer to the commotion.”

“We need a better plan than at random”, she said as she walked past, eyes keen for any foreign movement in the woods around them. “Who knows how long the thief has been planning this. He has the advantage of being way more collected in his thinking and not just reacting like we have been.” Then she paused as she looked in a certain direction. No there was nothing out of place, you don't see anything. Getting the spear in position she suddenly said without looking this way, “One of the tunnel entrances is over here,” she said before dashing off. Damn it, damn it, damn it. Stop her before she ruins everything. It's almost over this shouldn't be happening.

It was too late by the time she finally stopped, she was at the entrance. Play it off, don't give anything away. “Lynda what is it?”

She turned, looking excited. “The tunnels under the training ground. The thief could be using them to hide the things he stole from the vault. He may be be hiding in there himself, this is our chance. We can catch him off guard if we're careful and lucky enough. Watch my back in case he's near the opening.”

“Of course.” Follow behind her, don't make any sudden movements that she'd notice and think something was wrong. She got to the entrance and went to open it, now. A small gasp of pain escaped her lips as the tip of the spear pierced her back. Pulling it out, only to swing at her again as she slowly turned around. She went down holding the gash in her neck. Stepping on her spear to make sure she couldn't use it and looked at her, a bit of regret forming, “I'm sorry Lynda, I truly liked you, but I can't have you ruining things more than you almost did.” One last plunge with the spear into her chest ended her life. No time to morn, There were other voices coming now, they'd see what happened and who done it. No time to hide the body now, just enough to opening this door to the tunnels and slip inside, time to move the items out of here. Earlier than planned but it couldn't be helped.

But one thing nagged at the back of his mind. Her arm was moving before the blow that killed her landed. At the time the thought was she was trying to get her weapon in an attempt to push him back, but what if she wasn't? Too late to worry about it now.


“I know I didn't handle the situation like you would have wanted,” Jules said as she sat across from Olivia. Surprisingly she wasn't as upset as Jules would have expected. She was obviously visibly irritated, that much was obvious. But considering how fast she had Walter escorted out of her office while she waited for them to be finish with their discussion, Jules was expecting to get the brunt of her remaining anger. Which was why Olivia just sitting there, quietly staring out into space, was unnerving her a little, not that Jules wanted to get yelled at but this could not be good for her. So she kept talking, hoping to get some sort of a reaction from her, “But I was concerned about the kids. I was doing everything I could to hold his attention for as long as possible so he wouldn't notice what was going on around him.”

She sighed, finally focusing on her. Looking as tired as Jules had seen her today Olivia said, “No, you did the right thing Jules even if it wasn't how I would have handled the situation. Unfortunately this had been a long time coming. I've been hearing grumblings from the others about wanting to knock some sense into him for a while now,” she graced her with a sad smile, “Although I doubt many would have held back as you did.”

“Well, I'm still sure the thief pushed him that point.” Jules said. Olivia just nodded absentmindedly, this was affecting her more than she was letting on. Maybe it was more than that. “Look I realize you irritated with me for bringing up that his mother could have been the Horror...”

“I am irritated,” she said suddenly. “But more at myself for keeping quiet about it for this long. Maybe if I confronted him with the idea sooner, gotten him to remember what happened that night, then maybe he finally would have moved forward instead of clinging to what his father taught him. Or maybe not,” she said looking defeated for lack of a better word. Jules did not like that particular look on the woman that she looked up to and admired for years.

Shae suddenly ran into the room. “I'm sorry but Emily just came by.” Olivia and Jules started to stand, both fearing that this wasn't going to be good. “She said they found a body, it was one of the vault guards. It looks like she'd been killed” Olivia paled a bit and looked like she was going to fall to the floor. Jules immediately reached out to steady her. Olivia staid standing but looked grateful for the assistance.

At the teenager Jules asked, “Where is she now Shae?”

“She went to get the other vault guards,” was the answer. It made sense, they were sure the thief was one of them any way. So confront them with this and see how they react. “She said both of you should come too, she told me where it is.”

Jules wasn't sure how she felt about that, she didn't want Shae anywhere near this mess but it was too late now. Leaning on her cane Olivia told the teenager, “Lead the way.”

After they got outside, even if Emily didn't tell Shae where the body was it would have been easy to take a guess, Everyone was talking, a few gesturing in the direction they were heading. It was safe to assume not many sudden deaths happened around here. Jules personally hated this spot that was so dear to her was sullied in such a manner. The spot was soon evident as the familiar, to Jules at least, sight of people hovering around pretty much pinpointed where the body was. “Out of the way,” Jules said as she made sure they gave away to Olivia. The two of them approached the body, Jules looked back and saw Shae was still following. “Stay back,” she ordered the girl who fortunately complied with it.

“Oh no,” Olivia muttered as they got closer, “Lynda.” Jules increased her pace to get to the body first. “Who found her?”, she asked the group.

Two stepped forward, “We did” one of the answered. “We thought we saw somebody sneaking around and with all the talk about things being stolen from some vault we checked it out. And we found her lying here. We lost track of the person we thought we saw though, Sorry Olivia.”

“How long ago was it?”, Jules asked as she examined the body. Granted this wasn't her area of expertise, the closest she could claim being an expert on dead bodies were the people who where possessed by Horrors she and Carter had to track down, and that was stretching things. But she had to do something and looking for any sort of clue was better than nothing at this moment.

The two conversed for a moment before the first one said, “About ten minutes or so by the time you got here. Maybe a little more, I'm not exactly sure.”

Jules took Lynda's hand, Now it might have been her imagination bur it still felt warm to her. “This just happened based on that that time frame,” she looked up and said to Olivia. Then she tried to look at the wounds themselves, they looked like they could have been done with a spear, but it could have been some sort of dagger just as easily. Jules looked out into the woods, the thief had to be close. There was no way he could have gotten that far.

“No,” a new voice said. Jules and Olivia looked over to see Emily and the other vault guards join the group. So far all of the just looked horrified, genuinely horrified, at what they were seeing. Jules went back to Lynda's body and then noticed some sort of marking in the earth under her hand, it looked like she was clawing at the dirt.

Turning her head a bit to get a better look, she soon realized she wasn't clawing at the ground, she was trying to tell them something. Without looking up she asked, “Who's missing?”

“Jasmine and Trevor are still at their post,” Emily said. Those were the two she hadn't had a chance to speak to yet and still at their post. Jules wanted to demand why they weren't here, but it was a forbidden vault that they were guarding. Vincent used to tell her that it would take something major to get a vault guard to abandon their post. The death of one of their own obviously didn't count as anything major.

“Are you sure about that?”, Jules asked, which made the guard leader looked confused. She waved Emily over and showed her what she just discovered. She gasp a little when she saw it, as did Olivia. In whatever time she had left Lynda scratched a letter into the ground. The letter J. Jules tried to recall all the guards names from earlier and Jasmine was a new one to her.

Emily immediately whipped around to her men, looked them over and demanded, “Where's Jonathon?” They all looked at each other but nobody was coming forth with an answer. “Where is he?”, she said a little more authority.

“I haven't seen him since we were told to talk with her,” Hector said as he pointed at Jules. That was a couple of hours ago. Jules reached out and closed Lynda's eyes as she lowered her head. “No, you don't mean,” Hector started to say as it dawned on the rest of them what they were implying. “You got to be wrong.”

“The sooner we find him the sooner we find out,” Jules said as she finally stood up. If this wasn't some sort of misdirection and Jonathon was the thief then things escalated faster than any of them expected. Obviously he was capable to doing this to someone he knew then anybody was a target right now. Catching Olivia's eye she glanced over at Shae. She looked back at the girl and then back to Lynda's prone form before nodding her head slightly. Jules gave her a quick squeeze on the shoulder before heading over to Shae

“Jules,” she said as she got close enough. This was affecting her all right, it was affecting all of them. And Jules heart went out to all of them.

Reaching into her coat she retrieved Shae's brush and handed it back to her. “I need to know you can defend yourself in you need to. You're going to need this.” Shae looked stunned at this but took her brush back before hooking it to her belt “This isn't how I wanted it done Shae.”

“Alyssa no!”, Olivia cried out suddenly. Before Jules could turn around and see what was happening there was a huge explosion. Everybody ducked or dove for the ground in response. Jules' first reaction was to grab Shae and get between her and the explosion.

Small bits of debris still falling from the sky Jules located Olivia and cried out, “What happened?” Part of her was afraid she already knew. A couple of the others were running toward a spot, she thought she saw another body briefly in the smoke and haze.

“Alyssa,”, Olivia got out as Emily helped her to her feet. “She pointed out one of the tunnel entrances was near by. She opened it before I could stop her. Marcus is she?” Olivia didn't finish. She didn't have to, everybody knew the answer from ther look on his face. Two dead now. At that moment Jules wanted to beat the living hell out of the man. Emily looked like she wanted to do far worse to him, and Jules wasn't sure if she'd stop her if she did. “Everybody back away,” Olivia ordered. With a little coaxing from Jules and Emily they did just that.

“What's going to happen now?”, Shae asked. She was holding it together better than Jules would have at her age, she had to give her that.

Still she wasn't exactly sure what to tell her, outside of, “Now we start figuring out how to go on the offensive and catch the bastard.”


This day couldn't get any crazier, it just couldn't. Could it? Shae sat in a chair, trying to stay out of the way as everyone came in and out of the door to the building and Olivia's office. She was hoping that once everybody realized she wasn't the one who stole those things from the vault not only would she get her brush back, but maybe she wouldn't have to stay by Jules' side any more. While she was true to her word about handing back her brush she insisted that Shae stay with her for a little longer. After witnessing that explosion Shae wasn't exactly iin the mood to argue the point. Seeing how everyone outside, when the door was open long enough to get a look, was running around, and Olivia gave the order for all students to stay in their rooms until this was over, it was probably better for her to be right here.

Jules came out of Olivia's office and smiled at her. Then her attention went to the front door as Emily came in again. “What's the situation?”, Jules asked, Some how she become Olivia's right hand in this. Shae thought the guard might have taken offence to this, she would have if she was in her place. But on the outside at least Emily seemed fine with how the hierarchy ended up playing out.

Emily told her, “We already have all the tunnel exits covered, two people each like Olivia asked. I also have a couple of guards at all the known tunnel entrances in the woods surrounding the training ground in case he tries to get past us that way.”

Jules nodded, “Good idea, my only worry is that he knows how you guys think.”

“It's mine too,” Emily told her. “Me and a few of the other vault guards are trying to figure out how we would get around what we do.”

“Um,” Shae spoke up getting their attention, “What about the entrance that blew up? Couldn't he try and get out that way?”

“Hector and Marcus are guarding that one,” Emily told her. Of course they would think of that possibility. Why would they need her opinion on anything dealing with this? Emily continued, “They practically volunteered. I asked a couple of border guard to keep an eye on them for the time being, Just in case they decided to go in looking for a little revenge for Lynda. Marcus shouldn't be a problem but Hector had a bit of a thing for her, she didn't reciprocate but he was still a bit smitten with her.”

“Yeah, we don't need any hot heads in this situation, Jules said. “Let Olivia know what you just told me.” Emily glanced her way before nodding and heading into the office. Smiling at her again Jules sat next to her, “How are you holding up Shae?”

“I don't know,” was the only answer she could give her. Jules started rubbing her shoulder lightly. “Why did he kill her? Both of them?”

Jules didn't say anything right away, she just kept rubbing her shoulders. Then she sighed and said, “I honestly don't know. As cold as this might sound I don't think he planned on killing Alyssa. He booby trapped the door and she was just the unlucky one to open it. Lyndam I can't even phantom a guess. Outside of she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. At this point we have to assume he's capable of anything. But good suggestion though, about the destroyed door. It shows you can think a little straight in a mess like this.”

“How is that a good thing?”, Shae asked.

“Because of who we are Shae,” Jules said. “Not every Priest hunts Horrors but we still have to face some dangerous situation and chaos. Things like trying to bring in a Makai Priest who went rogue or breaking up those black market rings you asked about.” She started rubbing her hands together as she let out a tired sounding sigh, “Those are things you're supposed to learn after you leave a place like this, not while you're still here. This were you're supposed to learn the finer points of what we do after your parents teach you the basics. The lot of you got a hard lesson in reality today that's going to change you in one way or another. “ Then Jules surprised her by saying, “I'm sorry I let it happen to you. I had no control but I should have found out who was behind the thefts before this happened.”

“I held you back,” Shae said figuring that was were she was going.

“Now don't you start believing that for a second,” Jules told her sternly. “Even if you weren't by my side I'd still be in the same position of not knowing and not figuring out who was behind it all fast enough. Jonathon had a head start nobody could have caught up with. But I still tried because Olivia asked me to help out. I put this whole situation on my shoulders because I didn't want to disappoint her.” Leaning forward she sighed again “Right now we got a waiting game going on.”

“Do you think he put traps on the other entrances?” Shae asked her. “I mean if he set on the could have done with other.” She noticed the way Jules was looking at her, “And you already thought of that.”

With a small grin she said, “It's why nobody 's actually charged down there yet to try and rush him. The only one we know isn't trapped is the one that already went off.”

“And he could have set another further down that particular tunnel,” Shae said.

“See you changed already,” Jules said in an attempted light heartted way. But Shae could tell she wasn't exactly feeling it, not like it was when she first met her. “I'd bet you're worried about Nadia,” she said suddenly. “I already told Olivia I'd take you to see her just to get you out of here for a bit.”

She did want to see if Nadia was okay. The person who ended up being her one true friend here of course she was worried about her. “But they need you here,”she started to say.

“Right now they're waiting for the archivist findings about any other tunnels Jonathon could use to get out. Besides,” Jules reached into a coat pocket and pulled out some sort of disk that Shae didn't recognize. Waving her brush over it made some sort of magical indicators appear above It, “it looks like my hunch was wrong, he didn't go back for more.” She caught her staring at the readings, “I'll show you how this works later if you want, I'm sure your parents have used something similar.” Shae pointed at one of the blue dots , it was moving. Jules looked down and her eyes went a little wider. “Shae we're going to have to postpone seeing Nadia for a bit.” Then she went back into the office before Shae could say anything.

“Not a problem,” she said to nobody. But what hunch did she have? What were those dots supposed to be?


Jonathon tried to keep calm and keep going. His surprise went off so the knew for sure somebody had tried to get in here and follow him. But none of the others he'd set were triggered yet so that spooked them from the looks of things. He couldn't count on the staying spooked though. Kicking himself slightly Jonathon knew he should have been out of here by now, but he had to make sure nobody else was coming in after the explosion. Even taking the time to set that last seal further down that particular pathway felt like it took longer than usual. His only guarantee right now was that nobody knew which exit he was going to use. Chances were they put a watch on each one, so ideally he should only have to take care of one maybe two people before they could notify anyone else. He just had to be fast enough and catch them off guard. If he acted fast enough that is.

Maybe if he knew what some of the things in this last box he grabbed while they were concentrating on the idiot could help. No, not knowing what they could do meant he might damage some of them. And that would affect the price. No he would just have to move faster than they did and catch them off guard. He approached the door he originally planned to use that lead to the outside world, and here he paused. Carefully opening the door, grateful that it didn't make a creaking noise, he glanced around as best as he could. His eyes narrowed a bit as he didn't spot any one in sight. In any other case that would be a good thing. But seeing how fast the situation went south this could be extremely bad. Jonathon opened the door a little more so far there was nothing. Wait, did that shadow just move?

The end of a staff shot through the opening making him back up enough that the person on the other side ripped the door open wider. Damn it, Jonathon put the box down and grabbed the hand reaching for him and pulled. Ramming his head into the border guards face let him run past him and into the open. A risky move but he could get backed into a corner down there. Once out in the open he thought he saw movement out of the corner of his eyr and ducked. Another staff just missed his head as he rolled forward. Getting his spear into position he easily blocked the return swing.

“Jonathon!”, he searched for who yelled his name out of some basic instinct. No, no no. Emily and that woman were running in this direction. How did they get her so fast? A quick glance back into the tunnel showed the one he headbutted was still stunned so there was no way he could have sent for them. Neither of these border guards could have called them considering how far away this particular open was from the training ground. Worry about it later. Emily pulled short but held the end of her spear at him, that woman just behind her. “Give up Jonathon, there's no way out of this,” Emily told him.

“There's supposed to be no way into the vault either,” he taunted her. “But I did that.” Pushing the guard back he quickly grabbed his brush and held the bristles close to the tip if the spear and made it glow. Then he swung it in a wide arc making a wide energy wave fly toward the two of them. Both Emily and the woman jumped over the wave. The woman already had her brush out as she kicked off Emily in the air changing her direction and fired magic blasts at him. He was distracted enough that Emily was able to land by him unmolested and went on the attack almost immediately.

The other guard tried to get involved as well. Out of the corner of his eye he saw that damnable woman land and run in to join. He had to get out of here. Jonathon started to swing wildly, at least that was how it was supposed to look. Emily would realize what he was doing soon enough since this was something that vault guards had come up with. With that woman and the guard backing up Jonathon pushed his brush in the guards face and fire a blast of energy point blank. He went down in a heap, what was left of his face smoking.

“No!,” the woman said a little too late as he was already swinging the staff back around, fully planning on having the metal of the blade slice through her neck. But Emily was already there trying to protect her. She body arched as the tip of his spear went through her back. “Emily!” the woman shouted as she caught her as she fell. Jonathon knew he wasn't going to get a better chance and ran for the opening, pausing just long enough to shove the first guard out right before he slammed it shut. He didn't have time to even pick that crate back up he just ran the tunnels as fast as he could. There had to be a way out they haven't thought to cover this network wasn't exactly huge, bit it was big enough that something had to be forgotten. He just had to find it before they decided to rush the tunnels and trap him like a rat. He was too close to being wealthy to let that happen without a fight. He went several meters, taking any turn that looked good at that particular moment. He came to a dead end.

“Damn,” he muttered. Jonathon wasn't sure how he got here, he was pretty much lost at this point. And who knew when they would come along that last corner and finally corner him, In complete frustration he jabbed at the wall in front of him with the spear in his hand. He looked confused as it went through easily enough, well past the head of the spear. He pulled it free and more of the wall came away. “What the hell?”. Confusion quickly gave away to hope as he started pushing and pulling at the wall in front of him, occasionally looking back just feeling them on him. Once the hole was big enough he crawled through, it was another tunnel from the looks of it. One not in the archives. Quickly spinning back to ward the opening he made he leaned his spear against the wall and placed a slip of paper in the opening. Running his brush over it he backed away as the illusion it cast made the wall look solid again. That should by him some time.

He looked down at the ground on this side, well at least until they notice the rubble on the ground. He was sure he left something in his haste to get away and they could notice if they were observant enough. Jonathon wasn't going to stay around and find out. Grabbing the spear he turned again and walked this way. It had to lead somewhere, maybe even to the outside and freedom.


You had to give Olivia credit for one thing, she was very good at making sure other people felt safer than they usually would. Right now she was sitting next to Shae as she sat there dumbfounded at hearing what was going on. When today started her biggest worry was proving her innocence and wondering if those voies from the other side of the door would carry out their threat or not. Now she found out a forbidden vault was practically under their feet, one of the guards had stolen from it, and at least three people were dead. And one who could be if the healers couldn't do anything to save her. Shae never thought that she'd ever prefer that she rather try and prove her own innocense than anything else. But right now that was exactly what she was thinking. Turning to the older woman Shae went, “Do you think...?”

“I'm sure she'll be fine,” Olivia was saying of the guard. Right now Shae wasn't sure which one of them she was trying to convince. Still she nodded in agreement. That guard just had to be okay. Both of them looked up as the door opened. Jules walked in and didn't really look at her, but Olivia's had her complete and undivided attention. Standing to face her Olivia was quiet for a bit before going, “Emily?”

“The healers thinks that she'll make it,” Olivia relaxed so much that Shae thought she was going to drop back into that chair. Then Jules continued, “But it's going to be close. That blow got one of her lungs but missed her heart and didn't sever her spinal cord. But her lung have them worried. If she makes it through the night they think she should make it. I've been carrying some reverter with me since I became engaged to Carter, they were able to use that with a Madou flame, they think we did it in time, but like I said they'll know for sure in the morning.”

“She's strong, she'll pull through,” Olivia said while nodding to herself. Then she walked over and put a hand on Jules' shoulder, “Thank you for trying if nothing else. What about Jonathon? Has there been any word on him?”

Jules shook her head, “As far as we know he's still stuck in the tunnels. I had the guards put barriers on most of the doors to limit his options.”

“But he can get past seals and barriers,” Olivia cut in.

“From outside the seal,” Jules said. “ But he's on the other side now, and the barrier's on the outside part of the door. With any luck he shouldn't get through the door to get to it with out revealing himself first. The doors still have guards on them but I increased the presence by the two we left open as well.” Jules looked at her and explained a little more, “The one that blew and the one that we encountered him at. Just two ways in and two ways out.”

“I don't like this,” Olivia told her. “It's too much of a risk considering what he can do.”

“It's the best we have for the moment,” Jules said. Pulling that disk out again she activated the markings again and studied them for a few moments. Shae did as well, still not exactly sure what she was seeing but was aware that Jules knew what she was looking at. “One bit of luck is going our way, none of the objects I tagged have been moved, not even the one he left behind.”

“And Emily's life was your biggest concern at the time,” Olivia said as Jules placed the disk back into her pocket. “Most guardians might say otherwise but you made the right call there.”

“I'm going back to the archivists,” Jules announced. “See if they discovered anything about the tunnels that we can use to our advantage. Still holding up Shae?”, she asked her.

“Yes,” and that sounded a little shaky, and it was her voice. Jules reached out and squeezed her shoulder. Shae reached up and grabbed her hand. She tried to sound a little less shaky by going, “I mean, yes.”

“Don't worry this'll be over before you know it,” She told her. With one last squeeze on her shoulder Jules gave her a smile before leaving the building.

“Do you really think it'll be over as soon as she think?”, she asked Olivia after they were alone.

“Shae,' she said, “I've known that particular woman since she was about this high,” she held he here hand, palm pointed at the floor, below her waste to indicate her point. “And I've seen her do things others people thought she couldn't. Let's just say I wasn't too surprised when I heard she started hunting Horrors. If she thinks she can catch Jonathon before the day is over I wouldn't bet against her.”

“She didn't learn to hunt them here?” Okay she said her mentor was the first one to see her strength in combat, but there were courses here for the slightly older, more advanced groups that dealt with tracking down Horrors. It only made sense that her current position would have started here, at least as Shae thought so anyway.

“Not originally,” Olivia told her. “I've seen a few Priest in my time show a prowess in the combat arts at various stages of their life. Very few have been able to translate that into actively hunting Horrors. Remember Shae for the longest time Makai Priests just supported the Knights. We used to do it in the past but stopped when the Horrors became too strong, but things have a tendency to go in circles as they say, it's a fairly recent development but it does look like that Makai Priests are slowly joining the hunt again. To be honest with you I'm not exactly sure how I feel about that.” Olivia guided her to her office, “But that's a thought for another time. But we can occupy our time in better ways.”

“In what ways?”, Shae asked. Maybe it was Jules' influence or being around her had awaken something that had laid dormant for a long time, but Shae surprised herself by saying, “But I want to help catch him.”

“I'm sure you do,” in any other adult that might have sounded a bit condescending, but Olivia said it like she truly understood her need. Maybe in this case she actually did. “But the safety of the students here must be my primary concern. Come, maybe I can help you with that scroll about string magic, we need something to occupy our time in the meantime.” She was looking at her when she opened the door. So she didn't see the new opening in her wall until she looked toward the bookcase in the room.

That opening was door sized, and it looked like some sort of tunnel on the other side. By the time both of them tore their eyes off it and toward each other it was too late. Shae say something move and wrap an arm around Olivia's neck before her mind could understand what was happening. When the blade of a spear went to her throat Shae found her voice and instinctively went for her brush, “Let her go.”

“Watch it kid,” The thief told her as he put the spear closer to her throat, pressing into it, “there's been enough death today.” Shae froze at those words. “That's a good girl. Now I'm taking Olivia with me through that opening right over there. Don't do anything stupid. Drop the cane, drop it!” Olivia did so but Shae saw her drop something from her other hand as well. “Good. I'll let you go once I'm out of here. Now move. Olivia didn't resist as the thief made them go through that opening.

Shae grabbed Olivia's cane and quickly shoved it in the opening before it could close fully. Waiting a bit she knelt down and grabbed the other things Olivia dropped. It was a piece of wood with some sort of wooden spinner at one end. Shae knew exactly what this was since her parents had used something similar in the past. More importantly she knew how to use it. Thinking about Jules she said, “Come back to Olivia's office,” and blew on it to make the piece spin. A softly glowing green orb appeared and flew out of the room. Jules should be here soon enough. She looked back at the ajar opening, but would it be soon enough? “I am out of my mind,” she muttered as she went to that opening and was able to get it to open again. “Yeah, I'm out of my mind,” and she walked through. The door started to close again but she made sure the cane blocked it, and making sure Jules would know where she went. Taking a few deep breath, her nerves still felt the same though, she turned and tried to locate the thief and Olivia.


While she wasn't much of a visitor of the archives when she was studying here, Jules did accompany Vincent on a couple of occasions before both of them and Reks left here for the larger world outside the woods, Despite everything currently going on Jules looked around a smiled to herself thinking of those times. When Reks was younger he'd act like you were throwing him to the lions if you even hinted that this was your destination. When he grew older he'd help out more with less theatrics, particularly if it was something he was interested in, but Jules was usually the one Vincent went to for assistance when he did his research. And right now she had never seen the place so cluttered, with scrolls and papers all over the place. She had a vague memory of the person in charge at the time being a stickler for things being neat and tidy. The state of this particular room would have given her fits.

Pleasant thoughts for later, Jules reminded herself as she made her way to the main desk. The current keeper of this archive looked frazzled as various other people rushed from one room to another behind her. Occasionally dropping something off by the poor woman at the desk before going back for more. “I'm telling you I've had better days,” she told Jules without any prompting from her. She probably needed to say that to some body, Jules just happen to be the lucky person.

“I'm sure,” Jules said as she stopped at the desk. Realizing she knew what was going on, which would explain the organized chaos going in the building, Jules cut to the chase. “Have you found anything yet?”

“Maybe,” she said as she started going through all the scrolls and books by her, eventually pushing a stack aside and put a n old scroll that was hidden behind it in front of her. She unrolled it and showed the contents to Jules. “I found this in my office, after Olivia mentioned something about a underground cavern beneath the training grounds. Something about it sounded familiar for some reason. Then I remembered why. One of the original archivist had a record of it inside a private safe in what's now my office.”

“I know you're trying,” Jules said, trying to keep calm. The guys who robbed the forbidden vault and ended up killing three people was still on the loose. It wouldn't be fair to this woman to unload all the frustration that had been building up in her on this woman, she was just doing her job after all. Still this find was confusing and not helping the frustration levels at the moment. “But how does that help us exactly?”

“Admittedly, the notes about the cavern, not much,” she said as she shuffled through more papers before Showing Jules another one, and it looked just as old as the scroll about that cavern “Now this, everybody forgot about.” Jules stared at what she was seeing now.

“A map of the tunnels?”, she asked. Granted this would be extremely helpful in trying to corner Jonathon. But that was going to depend on how well the guards here knew them. Because Jonathon more than likely knew them fairly well.

“One of the original maps,” she clarified. Retrieve another newer looking map she said, “This is a current map of the system.” She laid them side by side and let Jules study both of them. It took a moment but Jules saw what she wanted her to see. As Jules pointed at it as the woman nodded in approval. “As you can see we lost some tunnels over the years.”

“How is that even possible?” Jules asked as she traced the out line of some of these older tunnels. If some of these were still open then they could catch the thief by surprise. This could be the best luck they had all day.

“That goes back to that report I found about that cavern,” she said. “One of the former head of the training ground had then sealed off, since these lead to it directly to that's under that vault that was supposed to be these.” Jules glanced up at her and said nothing. She did not envy Olivia one bit with the amount of damage control she was going to have to do when this was over. “He was afraid somebody could use that and get into there.”

“So he sealed this way off and completely ignored the one we found earlier,” Jules said with a little disbelief.

“I'm assuming he thought this was the greater threat. But what's done is done, he's long gone and can't defend himself now.”

“Right,” Jules said, she was going to have to get it together. Maybe not wish Carter was her to help her clear her mind with a quick sparing sessions, not that they had the time at the moment, she was on her own now and had to do that on her own like before her and Carter became partners, “you're right. Back to the matter at hand . Are any of the entrances to these older tunnels still open?” The archivist started to say something but then looked past her. Jules turned her head and saw a glowing orb by her head. “Now what?”

Reaching out to touch the orb she was a bit surprised to hear Shae's voice come out of it. “Come back to Olivia's office,” was the message. Seriously, now what?

Jules started to leave when the archivist grabbed her arm. Jules looked at her hand then up to her wondering what was going on. She looked worried which was making Jules even more so.”One of those entrances is in Olivia's office,” she said.

If Jonathon some how got into those forgotten tunnels. Jules freed herself and ran out of there and straight toward Olivia's office. She spotted Marcus coming out of the healer's building and grabbed him, saying, “Come with me,” and kept running. He didn't waste time asking why he just followed her. Bursting through the door she tried not to worry when she didn't see Shae or Olivia in sight. Once Marcus caught up she held a finger to her lips then motioned for him to follow her. Quietly they made their way to the door to Olivia's office. Steeling herself for anything that might be on the other side and slowly opened the door enough to get a look inside before opening it all the way. She walked in seeing nothing but a empty room. Then she spotted Olivia's cane sticking out of the opening of the wall. “Damn it,” she muttered, he was in the old tunnels.

Marcus came over and stared at the sight of the cane in the wall before going, “What happened?”

“Later,” Jules told him. “Go back to the archive and ask if we can barrow that map she showed me. Then get as many people as you can get. Pull them off the other openings if you have too. But get as many as you can and bring them back here. Jonathon might have Olivia.” Marcus eyes widened and rushed out of these. Jules went back to that opening and nudged the cane slightly. That was all it took for the door to open back up. She poked her head inside and looked around, quickly spotting the mechanism that controlled it. Flipping a old switch she waited, satisfied that it wasn't going to close anytime soon, otherwise they were going to have to blow a hole in this wall to get to the tunnels because she didn't have the time to search for the corresponding levers in the office. And while Olivia would, hopefully, understand why they did she didn't want to be on the receiving end of that look she'd give them.

She looked back in the office before looking at the tunnels and stared into the darkness. “Shae if you did what I think you did you better be glad you're not my kid. Because I would so...” Jules walked back iinto the office and waited. Getting more and more sure by the second Shae did exactly what she feared she did.


“It was supposed to be easy,” Jonathon said as he kept his grip on Olivia. And the plan was supposed to make things easy, but then that woman got involved and things stopped going according to the plan and right now he was improvising as he went. He almost panic when he realized what that initial path he took lead to this woman's office of all places. Then he heard her and that woman's voices come from the other room and knew he had to think fast. So he go in position by the door and waited, luckily Olivia was paying more attention to the brat and was close enough to grab and use as his current hostage. Equaly as fortunate that woman had left right before then or it could have been much worse. “Just grab a few things and get rich. My seller already had several buyers lined up. Nobody was supposed to get hurt.”

“Those items were locked up for a reason,” Olivia said, barely daring to move her head with his spear still at her throat. “People tended to get hurt, or killed, with their use. You knew this Jonathon,” he almost laughed at the disapproval in her voice. “Why would you put innocent people in danger just for a profit?”

“Why should I care about some idiots looking for something unique and exotic that have too much money to throw around. If they died who'd care?”

“Somebody would have cared,” she said with more defiance than a person in her place should. “And they wouldn't have been the only ones who would have died is those items get activated. More innocents than you think would be killed not to mention any Makai Priest or Knight sent to investigate or deal with the situation. They wouldn't have any idea how to handle some the of items you took.”

“I'd be long gone by then,” he snapped at her. “It wouldn't be any concern of mine or my seller at that point.”

“Where would you go?”, she asked suddenly.

He put the spear closer to her throat. Pressing it against the skin, “Shut up.”

She didn't take the warning, “Where would you go? Even if you killed me the others still know you're the one responsible for this. The Senate would make sure everyone in the Order would be looking for you. There's no where you could go that you wouldn't constantly be looking over your shoulder for a Makai Priest or Knight, wondering if they recognized you. And that's if you're partner in this folly didn't turn on you first after they were tracked down for selling them to begin with.”

“I know what you're doing,” he growled at her. She was trying to rattle him, make him doubt himself. But it wasn't going to work. There were places he could go that they would never think to look. And they would be looking for a rouge Makai Priest. And he had no intention of looking like one after this was over. A couple of quick purchases after the first couple of sales and he would look like any other regular human on the street. “And my seller the gran dkid of a former guardian for this vault. She wouldn't put her family name at risk to sell me out. Which is exactly what would happen if she did.” Two can play at this game. He told her the truth, the granddaughter of a former vault guardian did come up to him about the vault. And together they came up with the plan to steal from it. In fact she made sure there were certain things he didn't touch. But everything else was fair game in the end. So yes, he'd let Olivia live, let her tell them about his partner. It would divide any pursuet's attention long enough for him to get away while they tried to figure out who she was. At the lest divide the potential search part to give himself some better odds at getting away. Besides he didn't know what her plans were after things were sold and she didn't know his. Neither could point out what happened to the other, it was a detail that was easily agreed to after he insisted on it.

That admission stunned Olivia enough that it quieted her for the moment, probably trying to figure out if he was telling the truth or not. Jonathon was almost grateful for it as he lit another old torch on the wall to light the way. When this one caught fire he heard something scamper to his right. Keeping his hold on Olivia he pointed his Madou Brush in that direction and fired off a blast. There was a quick cry of surprised. He was being followed. Keeping his brush pointed in that direction he called out to his stalker, “Come out! Come out or the old woman dies right now!”

Making sure Olivia stayed between him and whomever this was Jonathon kept his brush at the ready. He almost let Olivia go who it ended up being surprised him so. He almost started laughing as Olivia spoke the kid's name, “Shae.”

Still trying not to laugh, mainly because he didn't know how the kid would react he said, “You're either braver or dumber than anyone ever gave you credit for. Particularly that idiot Walter.” To Olivia he commented, just because he wanted to and was the one in power at the moment, “It was pretty easy to get him riled up enough to get those kids. Not that I thought he'd go that far I mean. But really, just between the three of us, why are you so soft on him? I seen you tear into others for things no where near as bad as anything he'd ever done.”

Jonathon felt her stiffen ast his words. It almost seemed like she was straining a bit as she said, “I have my reasons.”

“Didn't really care that much any way,” he said. He had to be careful not to enjoy himself too much. That lead to over confidence and that'll lead to him making a mistake and getting caught. And he didn't get as far as he did by getting over confident. “Grab that torch and get in front of me,” he told the kid. “But don't do anything funny or Olivia pays the price.”

She did what she was told. Jonathon saw her hand go near the brush hanging from her belt, He pressed the spear into Olivia's neck a little more to get her to make a noise and remind the brat who was in charge here. The message was received as that same hand went away from her brush and grabbed the torch, taking it from the wall. “Now lead the way. Remember, nothing funny.”

She stared at him, trying to look intimidating. He did react here as he raised an eyebrow in amusement, it was almost adorable. Olivia was the one to telll her, “It's all right Shae, just do as he says and everything will be okay.” The kid still stared daggers at him but she eventually started walking further down the path.

“Jules will find you,” the kid said in a defiant way.

“I'm guessing that meant you left the door open for her when she returns to the office,” Jonathon said as he smirked behind her back. “Well let her track me down, thanks to you I have two hostages now.” The kid wisely said nothing as they walked the path, good let her stew in her own juices for a while. She'll smarten up sooner that way. They followed the path until they came to a fork. One way looked like it went up, the other looked like it went down. He asked Olivia, “Which way?”

“I never knew these section of tunnels existed,” she told him. “So I have no idea.”

Jonathon looked at the back of her head. Slowly he said, “You know what, I believe you. You made sure the guards knew those passages in their sleep in case of an emergency. You wouldn't have kept us in the dark about these.” He studied both ways trying to decide which way to go. They go down the wrong one and he gives that woman time to to shorten the distance between them if they had to double back. So which one was the right one? Then he remembered Olivia telling Emily how she discovered the tunnel he used to get those items out of the chamber. “Stand in front of this one,” he told the kid.

Reluctantly she did so. He made her stand there studying the torch in her hand. Most importantly the flame it was emitting. After several moments he told her, “Now stand in front of the other one.” She did so and his eyes never left the flame. It started to flicker in the direction they came from, there was wind. Where there was wind there was more than likely an opening. “That way,” he told them and made sure the kid went in that direction. Okay here was the new plan. Tie up the kid and the old woman if that opening was where he hoped it was close to, grab the stuff in go. If anybody got in his way then maybe he'd use that item he took off that breast plate looking thing he nabbed from the vault. It had to do something and he could afford to lose one piece to damage in the long run. Hell a few extra nicks could add to the story and the price.


It didn't take long for Marcus to return with that party she requested. He came back to Olivia's office with the other vault guards not on duty and a few of the border guards and Makai Priests who's primary job was to just teach. Jules took it as a testament to the job Olivia had done as the leader of this training ground. Then a few Knights from that side of the training ground arrived as well. The only thing that irritated her was the answer he got about the map from the archivist. “She said give her a few more moments.”

“We don't have a few more moments,” she muttered to herself. Well she wasn't going to let this group just stand around, most of them were just chomping at the bit to do something. “Marcus, Hector grab a couple of the others and see if you can determine where they went. We need to narrow down the possibilities as soon as possible.” Nobody argued as two of the other, one of the Priest and a Knight stepped forward and joined the two of them and ventured into the tunnel. After a few minutes the archivist entered the room. “What was so important that we had to wait?”, Jules asked, trying and not succeeding in keeping the frustration out of her voice. “Jonathon has Olivia and I'm pretty sure Shae followed them in.”

“My staff and myself was busy making these,” she said. Not even looking insulted by her tone, which technically made Jules feel worse about how she'd spoken to her, handed out several pages of paper to Jules and the others. She looked at them with impressed eyes, they were maps of the tunnel systems with the recently rediscovered ones added. But not enough for the whole group, which was completely understandable given the time frame. It was amazing that had gotten as many as they did. “I had them start working on these the moment we found the paperwork detailing these lost passages. Naturally I had us rush them once I heard Olivia was taken.”

“Amazing,” Jules said softly. “I'm..”

“Just get Olivia back and we'll call it even,” she told her.

“Right,” She studied the map, more importantly where the exits were again. They had to cut him off as soon as possible. Pointing at a couple of people, making sure at least a couple of them had a copy she waved them forward and put her map on the table for all to see. “You guys grab some more people, how many Knights are involved in this?”

One of them stepped forward saying, “We have more waiting outside.”

Jules nodded, “Good.” She waved that Knight forward as well. Trying not to think at how annoyed Reks would be right now that the Knights got involved, but maybe slightly impressed they were taking orders from her, she made sure he got a good look at the map as well. “We have a map and he doesn't. For the first time since this started we have an advantage. I want you five and some of those Knights to find these points right here,” she pointed at the exits for these tunnels, “And go inside, I think we don't have to worry that they'll be bobby trapped like the others. We're going to try and trap him between your group and the one in here. Just remember Olivia is his prisoner right now. Do not engage him unless you see the other group or you have no other choice. He's going to feel like a trapped animal so that's going to make him more dangerous especially if he figured out how to use any of the things he stole. And if any of you see one of the students down there have somebody grab her and drag her ass back here immediately. Is all that clear?”

They all answered in the affirmative. And as roughly half the group left as Marcus and Hector came back. Marcus went up to her reporting, “We found a branching path a bit further down. We didn't go down either one but one did look like part of it had some sort of light further down.”

“Show me,” Jules said dragging him toward the new map. After pointing out where there were on the map Marcus' finger went to the branch,

“It looked like it was more down here,” he looked at Hector who nodded in agreement.Jules used a finger to follow that particular path. Marcus looked at her as she studied it, “Can he get out that way?”

“He better not,” Hector mumbled. “The bastard has to pay for what he's done/” More than a few people nodded in agreement with him. If she was being honest she wanted him to pay as well. But there was something more important at stake then some revenge.

“Not if that group I just sent out out is fast enough,” she told him as she kept her eyes on the map. “But we might have caught a break. This path leads to that cavern that's under the training ground. There is a way to the outside from there but,” she looked to see if the archivist was still there, and she was, “Did the original map say where it was?”

“Yes it did,” she answered. “But there was some writing saying that it wasn't in plain site. If nothing happened between the time that map was made and now, he'd have to search for it.”

“I'm not counting on us being that lucky,” Jules said. “Try and figure out where that is and tell some guards to hold that spot until further notice.” Saying she'd get right on it she left as the group of Knights and Priest parted for her. “Come on, let's find this bastard and get Olivia back,” she told the group. Hopefully that group that just left will have more of a straight shot than Jonathon would have to get to any of those exits.

The rest followed her as she entered the the tunnel. She could feel that some of them wanted to move faster than what they were. Again if she was being honest so did she. But if there was any chance he was still in the tunnels she didn't want to give him any sort of advanced warning. They kept going following the path he lit up, more than a few keeping an eye out for any sign of trap that was laid down. Granted that would have been difficult while keeping a hold on Olivia but considering he'd done it more than once it was better to be safe than sorry,

Jules even made them hold up every time they approached a turn or a corner so she could peak around it. He didn't know these tunnel as well as the other ones so there was every chance he could have hit a dead end and turned back. Jules had to think like she was on a Horror hunt, trying to consider any possibility that might change things, usually not in her or Carter's favor. Then they reached a fork in the path. One looked like it headed up and the other down, and neither one was lighted. Remembering Shae was down here as well she tried not to think the worst, She looked down at the ground, it was solid rock and no set of prints in sight. “I don't suppose any of you knows how to illuminate footprints?”, she asked not expecting an answer.

The one she got made her look at Hector as he said, “A torch is missing.” He pointed at a empty holder on the wall as the group stared at him. “He might have taken it.”

“That's a pretty safe bet,” Jules said. Looking at the group she asked, “Did any one think to bring a map?” She was kicking herself wondering exactly when she dropped the one she had, That decision was adding time they didn't exactly have.

“I have one,” a Priest handed over the one in her hand.

“Thank you,” Jules said as she tried to get a better look at it, Marcus turned the tip of his spear into a torch, like Emily had done earlier in the day. “And thank you,” she said as the two of them studied the map. She looked back at fork in the path, “Looks like both of them leads to that cavern,” Pointing at the one that leads up she said, “That one leads to a upper level of the cavern.”

Marcus looked at her, “What are you thinking?:

Looking at him she said, “I'm thinking that if we're lucky we can catch him in between three groups instead of two.” In this case it was a risk they were going to have to take. Jonathon had one, possibly two, hostages to get away from him. The more they can divide his attention the better the chances at least one of them could get away. And that was if he didn't have any vault items on him. “Marcus, take half of the group and take the path that goes down. I'll take the rest and take the other one. Remember don't take him on unless you see one of the other groups,” Granted neither Marcus or Hector was there when she originally said that, but they knew now. And it was best to remind the others of that as well. The group pretty much divided itself with some getting behind Marcus and some behind her. “Everybody be careful and keep an eye out for Olivia and Shae. Get going,” Both sets went down their respective tunnel. Jules was silently hoping her biggest fear was wrong and Jonathon didn't have any of the items he took on him.


As soon as they hit the cavern Shae came to a complete stop, stunned by what she was seeing. When no one walked into her she could only assume Olivia and the thief did the same. It was massive in scope, that much was obvious even with what little light the torch was giving them.. Actually Shae was wondering how the ground above them hadn't come crashing down yet. Wait. was the training ground over there heads? This was underneath them and nobody knew? Then again she didn't know a forbidden vault was here until today so she guessed it was possible. Behind her the thief whistled at what they were seeing. “Now this is something.”

“You can always let us go and rot down here by yourself,” Shae told him. Wait did that just come out of her mouth?

The thief snorted a bit, “I think I liked you better when you were under Walter's thumb. And everybody thought he was a horrible influence, he has nothing on that Priest you brought in Olivia. Now how do we get out of here?”

“As far as I know the way we just came,” Olivia told him. Shae risked a look back. Olivia was staring right at her and she could read her face perfectly, don't do anything stupid. But the thief was occupied by looking at their surroundings this was the perfect chance. He'd notice if she grabbed her brush, But her string was still in her pocket, she thought those notes she found mentioned something about a binding loop, or she thought it did, Jules' friend did have really bad hand writing. But if she was right and could remember how it was illustrated and figure out how to do it while holding this torch then maybe she could trip the thief up by doing it around his feet. Slowly she went for the pocket she kept the string in.

“Hands away from the pocket,” the thief ordered. She was so close. “Show it to me and there better be nothing in it.” Shae did what she was told. Satisfied that it was empty the Thief said, “You see what I mean. I still have you like this and she thought about trying some sort of crap. Tell me that isn't her influence.”

Shae wasn't sure if it was Jules' influence or not. But she was getting tired of him talking about her like that, like she wasn't even here, Walter did that to her all the time, and she wasn't going to take it form somebody else. And not from the person who tried to put the blame on her for his thefts. “She didn't influence me,” Shae told him.

“Jules just helped her find her voice,” Olivia spoke up. As the thief snorted again Shae looked back at her. Olivia looked so proud of her. She almost tried for the string again but the thief quickly put his eyes on her again.

“Do you know how to make a light orb?” he asked her out of the blue. “Do you? It's too dark and too big in here for that torch to illuminate fully.” Shae looked around again, this cave could be bigger? “I'm more than willing to let you walk off a edge to keep me from doing it. So make some orbs already.”

“Shae,” Olivia spoke up, grabbing her attention. “Did you watch me when I made the one before Walter left you in that room?” Shae thought back to when they put her in that room. Granted she wanted to forget everything about being in there, but she remembered Olivia doing something before making the orb but it was so dark then too. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Olivia move her hands in a certain way. She was showing her how to do it. She did it one more time before saying to the thief. “She's going to need to use her brush to perform it.”

“Just for this,” he said. “Go ahead hand Olivia the torch and make some orbs, enough that we can see where we're going. But I know how to do it too, so I'll know if you're trying anything funny. If you do,” he trailed off and Olivia gasped a little as he pressed the head of that spear tighter to her neck. Shae quickly handed her the torch and took her brush from her belt. Doing the movement eactly as Olivia just showed her, and in plain view of the thief ust so he could see she wasn't trying anything. Finishing them she pointed the brush at the ceiling. Despite the situation Shae got a little excited when one formed, illuminating the immediate area. With a better look she could see now the thief was right, this place was bigger than she originally thought. And is she kept walking straight ahead there was an edge that she could have fell from a few yards ahead of them.

“Not bad,” the thief said as he got a better look around. Spotting what looked like walkway extending from the slab they were on he gestured his head in it's direction. “Now go over there and do it again.”

She headed that way then looked up as more orbs suddenly appeared in the air around them. They all looked around as more and more just appeared in the air. As her eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness she saw two things, one this place was even bigger than she thought after she lit her orb. And all the Makai Priests that were coming in their direction. So did the thief as he got a tighter grip on Olivia and turned around to try and keep all of them in sight. One, dressed like one of the vault guards stepped forward and said, “Give it up Jonathon there's no way out of here.”

“I didn't get here by giving up at the first sign of difficulty Marcus,” he said as he pushed Olivia forward. Shae moved quickly to grab her before she fell to the ground. The thief took that moment to run past the two of them and toward another pathway that lead to another slab.. but he ran into a barrier that one of the Priests quickly put up. “You didn't tell anybody did you Olivia?” he said as both groups started to close in on their location. He put his brush to the hilt of his spear, it suddenly started glowing a bright red and he plunged it into the barrier, above his head. Olivia gasped again as he drugged the spear down making a hole in the barrier. Shae wasn't sure what was going on, but that had to how he broke into the vault.

The other Priest outside of the two other vault guards were stunned by what they were seeing. Olivia spoke to her as he stepped through the opening, “Shae can you get that spear away from him with the string?”

Did she know what she was planning earlier? “I'll try,” she told her. Olivia stood on her own to give Shae plenty of room to try this. Please let her be able to do this. Grabbing the string from her pocket, she pictured the illustrations from the notes she found and tried to do them. Now picturing the spear in her mind she got the string around the thumb and pinkie of each hand then twisted it into a smaller loop. She saw a bit of energy go around the spear by the hilt in the shape of that loop. Unfortunately the thief saw it too making him pause a bit. Knowing this was her best chance she tightened the loop in her hand making the energy loop tighten as well and pulled, ripping it out of the thief's hand as the opening started to close.

The spear flew a bit before landing a few feet from the two of them. “Quickly Shae,” Olivia said, “Hand me that spear.” She ran over and got it off the ground as the Priest who put up the barrier quickly took it down to let everyone chase the thief. Handing it to her Olivia started leaning on the spear since she didn't have her cane.

Shae looked around as the thief was being chased by everybody who showed up. Occasionally firing off a blast from his brush at his pursers or physically attacking them if they got to close. All right maybe Jules was influencing her a little as she said, “I'm sorry Olivia,” right before she joined the chase after the thief. By putting that thing in her room he made her life hell, She was not going to just stand back and let somebody else catch him or give him the chance to get away, not if she could help it. She heard Olivia yell no at her, she'll deal with the consequences later, right now all she wanted was to see that bastard pay.


Where did they all come from? That thought flew threw his mind several times as he got a quick look behind him and saw the group that was after him. They all didn't come in from the same entrance he did. There was no way all of them snuck past him. So that meant there was another way out of here, it was just a matter of finding it. First he had to get behind the the bunch that had stood in front of him when they revealed themselves. And Jonathon knew he couldn't stop for a second to get his bearings. Not if he wanted to get out of here alive, and after some of the things he'd done, the lives he was forced to take, he knew none of them wouldn't regret it if he was 'accidentally' killed while trying to capture him.

Jonathon kept moving while trying to get a good look at his surroundings. That was one of the things that made him perfect for being a vault guard, his ability to take a situation in with a glance and determine the course of action he should take. Emily told him that when she and Olivia first recruited him. Right now he spotted another stone like platform. It looked close enough to where they originally were. He could get there and jump to the other one and get a few more seconds to figure out how they got in. Not the best of plans but it was the best he had at the moment. He looked back to see Marcus right behind him, face full of rage and already swinging his spear at him. He spun and raised his hands up, catching the shaft of the spear, pulling just hard enough to throw him off balance. In that moment he just created Jonathon swung the spear from his end making Marcus an obstacle and making some of the Priests chacing him stop in their tracks, giving him a little more time.

He and Marcus looked at each other in the brief moment. In the other man's face he saw all the betrayal all his fellow vault guards must be feeling once they heard who was behind it all. Instead of any hint of regret Jonathon's one lone thought at that moment was. what's one more? He lashed out with a kick that staggered Marcus, with one last drive he pushed him off the edge of the path they were on and ripped the spear from his hand. As he turned he was vaguely aware that a couple quickly reached out to keep him from falling to the bottom of this cavern. In saving him they just created a bit of a roadblock for the others. Jonathon ran for that other path with all he had, then got a good look at the distance between both platforms. There was no way he could make that jump and not get shot down by all the Makai Priest here. Looking up he saw a few people with swords, Makai Knights of course they would get involved, run in his direction and jump the gap to his platform easily. “It's over murderer,” one of them said.

“Not while I'm still moving,” he said defiantly. This wasn't his spear but it should still work. He quickly brought his brush to the tip of the spear, making it glow and swung it in a wide arc, creating a massive energy wave that knocked the Knights and a few of the Priest behind him to the ground, again creating a roadblock as his pursuers tried not to step on their comrades while they tried to get to their feet. Running in he kicked a Knight in thr head who almost did that to knock him back to the ground. In that second he realized something, that woman wasn't here. Don't worry about that ***** just keep using their numbers against them, that was the only advantage you have right now. A few Priest were able to get through and come at him. Now that he had a weapon he could put up more of a fight. Block any kick or blow from their brushes with the spear's shaft, but leaving his legs free to kick out and land some blows on his own. Feeling a hand grab his shirt he immediately spun the spear around and plunged it into that person. A quick glance back after he removed it showed a Knight clutching at a growing red spot on his chest as he fell to the ground.

Then they started looking at each other and started waving each other back. No, don't get smart now and try to get reorganized. Attack me all at once, the numbers are against me. You know I can only get that lucky for so long. But that's exactly what they were doing, backing off, readjusting their strategy, to refocus their attack instead of attacking in mass. Fine let them, he still had that ace in his pocket. It was one piece off a worn chest plate, it couldn't be that hard to activate. Then out of the corner of his eye he spotted another path. They saw it as well as started to move. He brought his brush to the tip of the spear again and swung it. They all jumped back. But he was already running for the path by the time they realized there was no energy arc this time. They bought his ruse hook, line and sinker. Then he ran into another barrier, “What?” He looked around at who cast this thing then his jaw dropped.. The brat stood across the way lowering her hands, some sort of string laced between the fingers of both hands. She cast this barrier, blocked what could have been his last chance to get away. “You little *****,” he sneered at her.

Getting a new grip on this spear he took in the situation in front of him. Picked out who exactly was in his way and who could try to block him. He was going to kill her if it was the last thing he did. And it might be but at least she'd be dead first. Jonathon looked her in the eyes from this distance. Her body language changed slightly, like she could sense his intention. But she didn't try to hide behind anybody. She just stood there and not in deer in headlights way. Jonathon had to admit the kid had guts, more than he or anyone would have ever guessed. A few of the others figured out what was happening and quickly got between the two of them. If it was the last thing he did. He attacked the group with a viciousness that took a few of them by surprised. At least two went down as the spear sliced their flesh. He didn't know if it was a fatal blow or not, he didn't care. More came at him but in their attempt to keep the girl safe they let themselves get disorganized again the closer he was able to get.

Knocking one more person back, he realized he had a clear shot at the girl. She knew it too but she didn't shrink back. She went for her brush. He started to move. She had something in her other hand and waved her brush across it. In the light he got the barest glint of something reflecting the man made lights in the air and barely reacted in time as a metal spike soared past his head. His eyes widened as he felt a slight breeze as it past, if the light from all the orbs didn't reflect off it he doubted he would have reacted in time. The kid just tried to kill him, she really just tried to kill him. Jonathon started chuckling at the realization before going off on a full on laugh. He could feel everyone stare at him, probably figuring he just went mad or something. He wasn't exactly sure he hadn't himself, this wasn't the sane response to almost dying.

A priest just stood there as he plunged the spear into her heart. He locked eyes with the girl again, now there was some fear in her eyes. Good he wanted her afraid of him right before he did the same to her. He took one step forward saw something glowing come right at him from above. Jonathon quickly took a step back to avoid it. He felt a brief tingling sensation as the resulting energy wave disbursed kicking up some dust that briefly blocked his vision. Through the haze he heard the girl say one thing, a name, “Jules.” As the dust began to settle he saw her there, kneling on the ground, the bristles of her brush right where he would have been if he didn't move. She stared right at him, he stared right back.


A lot of thoughts crossed her mind as she kept her eyes on Jonathon. Things like, how lucky was this bastard? How many Priest and Knights were still alive? Why didn't Shae just run when she had the chance? But one thought in particular would have surprised the lot of them if she said it out loud, of course Carter wasn't here when she had the cooler entrance. But Jules shoved all of those thoughts aside as he she stood, fully at the ready in case he tried to attack. Instead he took a step back himself, slowly twirling the spear in his hands. Then he looked around as more Makai Priests and Knights dropped down from that upper tunnel they took to get here. They circled him as the group that originally found him joined in. Jonathon tried to keep his eyes on her and the group at the same time. Jules looked over at one of the Priest she recognized from the meeting they had right before setting off into those rediscovered tunnels, “I thought I told you all to have somebody drag Shae back to Olivia's office when you spotted her.”

That person looked back at Shae and shrugged his shoulders, “It got busy.”

“I'm trying to,” Shae started to protest until Jules held up a finger while making sure Jonathon wasn't going to take advantage of the situation.

“We'll talk later,” Jules told her sternly. She briefly recalled Vincent using a similar tone with her and Reks on occasion after he started mentoring the two of them. But she could not have been this much trouble when she was Shae's age. Not wasting another moment she jumped at Jonathon. Sliding under a swing from that spear she swept her leg out. He jumped over that move as Marcus and Hector joined in on the attack. The two of them worked together to keep him off balance. Jules was used to fighting with Carter but they all practiced what was basically the same fighting style, with the two of them being more straight forward in their technique and her more dancer like movements being two of several variations so she was able to mesh with them rather easily. Of course Jonathon was more than familiar with the fighting style they used as well and did what he could to anticipate what they would do.

Jonathon started swinging wildly again, the last time she saw him do that one man died and Emily got hurt. So she pulled back a bit. Marcus and Hector did the same while making sure.nobody else tried to get any closer. He did bring his brush out. It took Jules a moment to realize the glowing bristles weren't aimed at any of them. He was aiming it at Shae. Turning around she dove for the girl and dragged her to the ground as the bolt flew over them. She looked to see the barrier Shae put up fade away. Jonathon saw it as well and ran for it. “No you don't,” Jules muttered as she quickly got to her feet and started to chase after him.

Jonathon had already crossed over to the other platform. Then he used his Brush and spear again to create another energy arc. Jules and the others had already stopped to get ready to jump over it when they realized that it wasn't directed at them. The bridge that he took just crumbled as the arc hit it. One of the Knights ran at it full bore and jumped. Jonathon was ready for it and threw the spear at him, impaling him in the gut. A few of the others caught him before he fell onto the floor below. Jules didn't want to think how far down that bottom actually was or how to get down there to retrieve any body unfortunate enough to end up down there. “Come on,” Jonathon taunted her from across the way, “You were brought in to stop me, so stop me. Or are you just going to let me get away like a failure and prove Walter was right?!”

“Seriously,” Jules mumbled. She wasn't so eager to shut him up to not realize this was a trap. He wanted her to try and jump over. Oh she was going over there all right, just not in the way he expected. Keeping him in sight she shouted, “Shae!” Pretty sure she had her attention now she called out, “I need a bridge.” She took her eyes off Jonathon just long enough ro see Shae work the string between her fingers and throw her arms toward the gap. One she saw the tell tale glimmer of the barrier she just cast form Jules took off in a dead run. Not even hesitating she used that barrier to reach the other side. Seeing this Jonathon fired off a blast from his brush. Rolling under it she came back up in a run. Jonathon saw this and started to run away. He didn't go far before he realized that there was no where to go from this platform. By the time he turned back around his head snapped back from a straight punch from her.

That didn't stun him for as long as she would have liked. He staggered from the blow but he quickly faced her and went back to a fighting stance. Jules didn't give him a chance to do anything as she launched herself at him. Jonathon covered up as best he could as she tried to break his defesnes and finish this before this went on any further. He tried to surprise her with a sudden kick. Jules jumped up, and landed on the outstretched leg long enough to nail a short kick of her own.Staggering back again he got a grip on his brush and lashed out with it. She bent backwards slightly to avoid it. But doing so left her off balanced enough for a quick trip that sent her to her back. She rolled out of the way as his foot came at her face.


Getting to a knee she was knocked back down from a kick from his other leg. He gripped her neck to keep her in place as he raised his brush above his head. She kicked him in the back and made him stumble forward a bit, but he let go of her neck. Raising up a bit Jules rolled back a bit to get to her feet, grabbed his arm and got it in a hold using her legs. Now she had several free shots at his head. Now either he was as stubborn as she thought he was or had a harder head than anticipated because he was not going down. She faced Horrors that were easier to take out than he was turning out to be. Alright, new plan, gripping the wrist of the arm she trapped she pulled and twisted on it. Break the arm and the battle was part way done, and it was working as he screamed in pain as he tried to move with her to relieve the pressure. With another yell he planted his feet as slowly got her off the ground. She lost some of her leverage but Jules hung on like her life depended on it. Then he slammed her down to the ground, knocking the breath out of her.

He shook his arm once it was free. Then grabbed her and hauled her up. Jules shot her head forward as soon as she could. Both of them staggered back a bit. She cleared the cob webs first and went at him again. Again he wasn't as stunned as she'd hoped as he grabbed her arm when attempted a backhand and twisted it with all he had. She gasped out in pain as she went to a knee. Jonathon kept twisting, Jules went with the pressure and rolled forward to her back and kicked him in the head. . When she got to her feet to face him she was met with a hard knee to the gut that dropped her to her knees. He started kicking her in the side, not giving her a chance to get back to her feet. “You just had to ruin things!”, he shouted at her. “It was supposed to be easy!” he said with another kick. “All of you stay back or this ***** dies now!”, He suddenly screamed at the others right before he kicked her again.

Knocked down Jules ignored the pain and kept rolling until she was far enough to get to her feet. She ran at him again. Jumping up she twisted in the air until she landed on his shoulders, straddling his head. Making sure she had a solid grip on his head with her legs she let herself fall backwards, gravity and momentum making Jonathon fall with her and crashing hard on the ground, practically on the top of his head. Now fully stunned as he got to his knees Jules came in with a knee to his head that knocked him flat on his back. He barely moved at that point, he was staying down. Holding her side Jules looked back at the others looking at her. Walking forward she went to the gap and tested something with her foot, Shae's bridge was still in place. “Well tie him up already,” she told them.

Cautiously a few of them did the same test that she just did before slowly crossing over. Once Marcus and a few others did a cough caught their attention. Jonathon was getting up again, he pulled his hand out of his pocket, holding some sort of circular device with a large red jewel on it. Jules immediately held out her arms to keep the others back. He started grinning, “You're afraid of this little thing? It's gotta do something good then.”

“Put it down and walk away from it,” Jules ordered him. “You have no idea what that is.”

“Yeah but you do,” he sneered. “I didn't want to use anything I took, but I got no choice now so this is on you.” With his brush in his other hand he ran the glowing bristles over the jewel. “It can't be that hard to activate.” The jewel kept glowing as Jules tried to back everybody up.. Jonathon stared as the device left his hand than plant itself on his chest, right over his heart. “Argh,” he grunted and started to tear at it as it dug in deeper into his skin. Then it started to expand around him, first forming a chest plate then covering his arms and legs. With pain filled eyes he looked right at her, “What is this th...” He was cut off as his head was covered.


“We got to get it off of him,” Jules quickly said as she ran forward. Jonathon pounded the ground causing a shock wave that knocked her and the others off their feet. Standing a little straighter he looked at his armored limbs then at them. Apparently not feeling any more pain he came at them with slow steady steps. A few blasts hit him. On the other platform Olivia had joined Shae and a few others Priest to attack Jonathon from there. Jules got to her feet and fired off a few blasts of her own, in particular aiming for that jewel. Or at least she was trying to but he kept moving so she couldn't get a clear shot at it.

“What is that thing?”, Marcus asked as he and Hector joined in on the blasting.

“I told you something would get out,” Hector said, fear evident in his voice. Jules was afraid right along with him. But fear wasn't going to help right now. Just pretend it's another Horror you hunted down with Carter.

“Hcetor, Marcus grab some more Priest and bind his limbs, fast!” She hoped the urgency she was feeling was understood by the the rest of them. Apparently it was as they went in different sides of Jonathon. He looked undecided as he went back and forth between both sides. It was enough that a few made some sort of energy rope come from their brushes that wrapped themselves around his legs and forearms. They struggled and pulled as he fought to free himself. Running in Jules jumped on him, getting a grip on the back of his head then jammed her brush at the jewel. Jonathon started to struggle more as she tried to deactivate the jewel and get him out of there before it was too late. Getting an arm free he tore her loose and tossed her into the other group making them drop the binds on their side. “Bind him again!”, Jules yelled. Then Jonathon stopped and hunched over slightly. A muffled scream hit their ears. “No,”, she muttered.

He took a step forward, but his movements were more automatic, almost robotic looking. Then the casing around him expanded as he grew in size and height. Everyone wisely stepped away from what they were seeing, even on the other platforms. Then spikes formed on the outside. One flew off and impaled one of the Priests. Her blood was seen going through the tube that attached the spike to the armor. Once she went down another spike launched ir\rself. Marcus pushed the intended target out of the way but fell victim to the spike and suffered the same fate.

“Keep moving!”, Jules said to the rest of them. No time to mourn now. They all did so, some barely avoiding the spikes that kept firing out. “Try to get the jewel!”

“Easier said than done,” Hector said as he side stepped on of the spikes.

“I know,” she said as she flipped over one herself. Putting her left hand in her pocket she grabbed the sparking device she created and put it on as she kept running to avoid the spikes. Everybody struggled to keep their footing as he pounded the ground again. Olivia, Shae and the other Priest fired at him. Jules shouted out, “Drop the bridge!” Eventually that thing was going to discover or remember that it was there and they needed to keep it confined here for as long as possible.

“But you'll be stuck with him!”, she cried out.

“Just do it!” she shouted back. Even after Olivia told her it was all right Shae was still reluctant but but she removed the bridge she made. “Keep it distracted but don't get hit,” she told one of the remaining Knights who nodded along with some Priest and circled around the thing. Like she hoped it looked confused but kept firing the spikes out that were being avoided. Jules retrieved one of the grey slips Shae had made earlier. Making sure she was at the right distance she held the slip in the same hand as her brush. Holding both hands in front of her she snapped her fingers on her left hand and drew her brush away from it, drawing a flame from the spark. Pirouetting the trail of fire spun around her as she raised her hands over her head. The fire collected itself in a ball over her head as she grabbed the grey slip with her left hand. Jonathon stopped what he was doing and faced her, but those tubes were still moving menacingly in the air, the spikes started to point toward her. But she had a clear shot at that jewel now. Lowering her arms she ran her brush and fireball over the grey slip. A flaming spike fired out of her hand. Jules held her breath and barely dared to move as she watched spike fly toward the armor. It impaled the jewel and he barely reacted. Then the spike exploded, destroying the jewel in the process. It fell backwards as Jules slowly stepped forward.

She was the only one who didn't jump back as the armor began to shrink and retract itself back into the original device. Everybody stared at the skeleton that was left behind, all meat and blood picked clean from the bones. Jules just looked on as the Jewel quickly reformed itself and sighed. She was really hoping that was going to be the end of this thing.

“What the hell was that?”, Hector said loud enough for everyone in the cavern to hear. Jules looked around until she found Olivia, who nodded at her.

She nodded back, they deserved to know after facing this thing. “It's called the Condemned. It was created right before the Makai Knights were. It was to be used by a Priest who was too injured or outnumbered to come out alive, hence the name. It was also designed to make sure nothing was left behind to be eaten by a Horror or anything else. It was powered by it's wearer, but that fuel source was quickly ran through so it would go looking for more, even draining the blood and bodies of those that were under attack from the Horrors,” she looked back at all the fallen on the ground, including Marcus, “Or those who were fighting along with it. Even using the dead body as a fuel source if it had to.” The rest of them looked at the fallen as well, fully understanding the weight of her explanation. “If I didn't get the jewel the only other choice was to wait for it to run out of gas.” She looked around again, “And that wasn't going to be any time soon.”

Reaching down she carefully removed the device from the skeleton's rib cage. As she studied it she really wanted to chuck it over the edge and let the cavern have it. But it wouldn't be any safer down there. No, there was only one place were this thing belonged. And after today Jules figured nobody was going to let this out of the vault any time soon. “Shae, we need a way back across,” she called out and she obliged by remaking her bridge to let them back across. “Triple seal this thing,” she told Olivia as she handed it to her.

“I'll do more than that,” she said as Shae came in and hugged Jules around the waist, wrapping an arm around her Jules started walking to the path that would take them out of there, Olivia and the others soon followed.


It was too much to hope that what just happened was the end of it. Shae saw the healer waiting for them once they got close enough to Olivia's office. There was a look on her face she thought her father once wore when he told her that Grandma had passed on. Jules seemed to tense up as well as Olivia walked past them to the healer. “Emily?”, she asked. There was some murmurs behind them, She felt Jules grip her a little tighter.

The healer shook her head and lowered it slightly. Hearing somebody punch a wall made her jump slightly and look back. The vault guard that was still with them, his hand was still in place but he had this look on his face that made her step a little closer to Jules. “A few minutes ago,” she said. It took them that long to get back here.

Jules let go of her and went to Olivia and put a arm around her shoulders. “I'm sorry,” she said softly to her. Turning her attention to the healer she said, “The reverter, the Madou flame?”

“They healed her physical wounds,” she said. “But there was something else, something we didn't detect until it was too late.” She looked at them, “The weapon he used, do any of you know where it is?”

“It's right here,” Olivia said as she handed it over. They all watch as the healer examined the spear. Putting it on the desk she searched her pockets. Shae joined Jules and Olivia at the desk as more came into the office. Producing a vial with with a clear liquid she removed a wooden tube from it, a finger tight against one end. Holding it over the spear head she carefully let a few drops fall on to it. Shae, Jules and Olivia all watched as those drops instantly turned black as they hit the metal. “That's what I was afraid of,” she said.

“What does that mean?”, Shae asked Jules.

Jules looked angry for a moment before answering. “He did something to his spear,” she told her. “Poison?”, she asked the healer, who just nodded.

“It's probably more than that,” Olivia told her. “That spear is how he got past the barriers. We all saw it.” Jules looked down at her. Shae just nodded. Olivia took back the spear and handed it to vault guard and told him. “Hector, examine this to figure out how he did what he did to it.” With a bit more sadness in his voice she added, “Then tell Jasmine and Trevor, they been out of t his loop for too long, for good or bad.”

“Of course Olivia,” he said with a slight nod. But Shae did hear him say, low enough that he thought nobody would have heard him, “Bastard's lucky that thing got him before I did..” Jules heard it as well and stared after him until Olivia grabbed her arm.

“He's dealing with this in his own way,” she told her. “As we all will. As we all do, in our own way and at our own time.” She looked at the rest of the group,”Thank you for what you've done today. I know you want answers, and I'll supply what I can. But I'm under orders from the Makai Senate so I won't be able to answer everything, no matter how much you deserve to know.” She leaned against her desk and looked... numb for the lack of a better word. “If you will excuse me for a few minutes, I need time to process everything that's happened, and make a report to the Senate.”

Nobody said anything as they left her office. Jules pulled the two of them in a different direction to let the rest go out the door. Shae looked up at her, “You were still trying to save him.” When she looked at her she went on, “After everything he'd done. With everybody he'd killed, you still tried to save him from that thing.”

“Because I knew what he had, and nobody deserves to go like he did,” she told her. “No matter how much you think he actually deserved it.” Sighing she added, “Just part of being a protector kiddo. You don't get to pick and choose who to save. You do what we do and you have to try and protect who you can.”

“I don't think I like that,” Shae told her.

“Don't tell my husband, but there are some days that I would agree with you.” she looked back up to see most of the crowd was mostly gone. “Come on, let's find Nadia and show her that you're still in one piece.” Holding her side a bit she added, “Maybe see the healer myself right after that.” They walked out of the building, for some reason it looked too bright and sunny out considering everything that's happened under everyone's feet.


The healers gave her a clean bill of health. The still painful ache in her side begged to differ. But they assured her that nothing was broken and she'd be fine in a few days. Not only that she was good to leave whenever she wanted. Shae heard that bit and it apparently didn't sit all that well with her, as she was already gone by the time the healer was done with her. Jules exited the building and looked sround trying to locate her. She didn't see Shae any where close, although she did spot Nadia. “Have you seen Shae?”

“Yeah,” she said and pointed behind her. “The spot she's usually at when she's thinking about her crush.” And that wasn't all that helpful, at all. “She looked upset about something and told me to leave her alone.”

“I guess she would be,” Jules said, mainly to herself. Nadia started to walk away so she called out again, “And this spot would be?”

“Where she found those notes.”

Okay that made sense. Shae didn't seem the type to just examine something like a pile of rocks just because she saw it for the first time. Actually Jules didn't think anybody would have, otherwise those notes would have been found long before now. “Thanks Nadia.”

“Not a problem.” Both of them turned and headed in different directions.

Maybe being a technical outsider Jules noticed everyone seemed to be on edge more than they were when she first arrived. Then again that was normal considering everything that happened today. Jules still wasn't sure how Olivia was going to handle the aftermath, while they probably didn't know it was a forbidden vault just about everyone knew something was here now. And that was going to be a rumor around here for a long, long time. And said vault was currently down four guards now so they were going to have to be replaced. Now if Olivia had the final say in choosing those replacements or the Senate was going to send them, she didn't know.,either way she didn't envy the woman.

She, and everyone else, stopped momentarily when there was a muffled explosion and the ground seemed to shake slightly. Everyone else looked around, she just kept on walking. If she was right then Olivia took her advice and destroyed that tunnel she found. Well that was one way to the chamber they didn't have to worry about any more.

Walking to the far end of the training ground she found the brook, then followed it until she found Shae, sitting on a rock. And almost looking as miserable as when she first saw her. Jules heart broke a little as she realized she was the reason why. That was the last thing she wanted to do the girl, but seeing how she was leaving it was inevitable. Hopefully what she was able to arranged would make it up to her. Once she was a few yards away she stopped and said, “Mind if I join you?”

“There's no barrier up,” was her answer. Jules stepped closer and sat on the rock next to her. Luckily she didn't move away, she still wasn't looking at her though. Jules sat there and waited for her to say something. Anything. She eventually did, “So you're leaving.”

“I'm afraid so,” she told her. “I was only asked to come to deal with what was going on. That job is done and Olivia doesn't need me around any more.” She specifically mentioned Olivia because she didn't want Shae to think her feelings didn't matter, not after everything she did today to get her to open up more. “But I wasn't going to leave until I talked with you. And let's be honest, the instructors around here don't want me corrupting anyone else.”

“Somebody like Nadia?”, Shae asked. Was that a smile? Jules was pretty sure that was a smile she tried to hide just now. She was at least willing to joke back.

“Nadia doesn't need my help,” Jules told her. She might as well admit it out loud to somebody. “She's pretty much me when I was her age. So there's a possible look into the future if the two of you are still friends by then.”

“Oh no,” Shae said with a little laugh. Then she got all sad again. “I knew you were going to leave once it was over. But,” she went quiet. Jules was silently begging her to don't stop speaking now. “But I was hoping that you'd be my new mentor once it was done.”

“Oh Shae,” she said as she put an arm around her and gave her a quick squeeze, “I would have loved to be you mentor. I really would have. But I'm not an instructor here, so more than likely you would have to come with me. Now I don't know you parents, but I doubt they'd be thrilled with the idea of you going on the occasional Horror hunt.” Not to mention that Carter probably wasn't ready to have a teenager in the house just yet, but she didn't say that out loud.

“No they wouldn't,” Shae agreed. “In fact they would freak.” Jules smirked a bit. Her parents weren't exactly thrilled when they found out Vincent was training her to hunt down Horrors. Finally she looked up and smiled. “My new one can't be worse than Walter.”

“Olivia was going to have to try and find some body worse than Walter.” Hearing people approach Jules looked up and saw Olivia and somebody else, a Makai Priest with dark red hair, walk up to them. She started smiling, this timing couldn't have been better. To Shae she said, “But I did talk Olivia into letting me take a shot at it. Shae,” Jules gently pulled on her arm to get her to stand up, “This is my friend Sharron. Luckily she was in the area and agreed to met you.”

“Hello,” Shae said softly.

“Hi,” Sharron said as she took a step forwards. “I heard you found my notes.” At that Shae looked at her with a little wonder.

“You're notes?”, she asked. Sharon gave her a quick nod to confirm what she said. Shae looked at Jules with a bit of confusion.

“Well I figured the two of had something in common with the string thing,” she told her. “But don't take my word for it.” Gently she pushed Shae toward Sharron, “Go for a walk, talk for a bit, get to know each other. See if this will be a good fit for both of you.”

“It couldn't hurt,” Sharron said. Both of them started to go. Then Shae went back to her and hugged her around the waist. Jules grimaced in pain a bit but hugged her back.

“Thank you for believing in me,” Shae told her. Both Olivia and Sharron smiled at the two of them.

“Thank me by becoming an awesome Makai Priest,” Jules informed her.

“Let me guess,” Shae said as she pulled away a bit, “You didn't say great because you're the great one?” All right maybe she was that bad of an influence after all. Another reason for Sharron to mentor her.

Still she grinned and pulled her back into another hug, “You got that right, and I don't need the competition” With one last squeeze they both let go. Shae went to Sharron who had a smirk on her face.

“I see some things haven't changed,” she commented as they started walking away. “I heard you made a bridge, I never even thought of that. You're going to have to show me that one.”

Once they were around the bend Jules sighed a little. She would have loved to have kept that girl under her wing, help her grow into being somebody truly spectacular. But her current occupation didn't really allow for it, at least not easily. Olivia seemed to sense the sadness in her and put a hand on her shoulder. “You made the right choice. But a good fit?”

“It's how Vincent explained it when I asked him why he took me and Reks on. It felt like a good fit.” Jules sighed as she thought about her former mentor. “I should probably stop quoting him considering what he tried to do.”

Olivia studied her for a few moments. Jules wasn't sure why she was but it was starting to unnerve her a little. Eventually she said, “Come with me. I want to show you something.” Jules was confused but she followed the older woman.


They didn't go far, just to the other side of the brook. It was an area Jules knew was there but never once visited, mainly because when she was originally here she never saw the need to. It was a cemetery, mainly where any instructor, guard or head of the training ground were placed for there final rest. Although she heard rumors that others were buried here as well, if the current head thought it was important enough. Again Jules never saw the need to visit this particular area before now so that last part was just that, rumors. Olivia lead them through and she took a moment here and there to check the dates on various headstones as they passed. “I was going to pay my final respects to Emily and Marcus and the others before I left,” she told the older woman.

She kept on walking, “I'm sure you were dear. But there was something else I wanted to show you. Or somebody else I should say.” Jules was confused but she kept on following. Before long they were past the headstones but Olivia kept going. She looked around, still confused about what was going on. As far as she knew there was nothing out here past the cemetery. Then she spotted a series of crypts. Before she could ask Olivia said. “I had someone laid to rest here over a year ago. There was some out cry from some of the others and a few connected to this place on the outside. But I knew him for far too long to let him rest in some unmarked grave.”

Jules stopped as her mind reeled a bit. Over a year ago? Out cry from the others? She knew him for far too long? Olivia seemed to sense she wasn't being followed any more and turned to face her, saying nothing. Swallowing hard she eventually got out a name, “Vincent?” Olivia simply nodded then continued on. Jules now noticing she was heading for one in particular. “Why?”, she demanded but Olivia kept on walking towad the crypt. “After he fell trying to expose our world, why?”

“As I said,” she reached the crypt door and gave it a gentle push. It opened easily and she walked right in, “I knew him for far too long.” Jules stood there a moment, undecided before setting her resolve and followed her in. Inside was a single tomb, there was no markings, nothing to say who it was, but Jules felt her stomach twist any way. Vincent was in there, she should be sad but all she was feeling at that moment was anger. A feeling that almost exploded when Olivia said, “And he didn't fall.”

“He killed a mother and her children,” she said as loud as she dared in the building. “He manipulated and killed Reks. He was going to expose thousands to Horror blood. How did he not fall?”

Olivia was calm as she turned toward the tomb, “That is one way to look at it.” Jules just stared at her, what other way was there to look at what happened? “But if he truly fell then he wouldn't have set things to make sure he was one of those exposed to the Horror blood. He was skilled enough to make sure that happened of that was the case. And it wouldn't be that hard to add a timer to that device he created. I should know, I asked to study the device he was using to use for the task. He was ready to die from his actions. That is not the action of one who had fallen in my experience, not completely any way.”

“And that absolves him from everything he'd done?”, she demanded as Olivia started to leave.

Turning her head slight she said, “Of course not. The simple fact he was going to sacrifice himself tells me he didn't think it would either. Not the man I knew for years. Tell me Jules,” she stopped at the door and turned around. “Was he truly any different then compared to the day the two of you originally left here?” Jules didn't answer, Olivia took her silence as her answer, “I didn't think so. No he knew his actions were heinous and probably felt that would have been a proper punishment for his deeds compared to anything the Senate would have come up with.

Jules had to catch her breath. He did say something similar when she and Carter confronted him that day. On one level it did make sense. But she had a hard time matching the person she loved so dearly to the man who did what he did. Finding her voice she asked, “Why did you show this to me?”

“Because I think you need some sort of closure,” came the surprising answer. “Several times today, when you quoted something he said, you'd get this look on your face, Like you were annoyed with yourself, almost disappointed that you did so.. As close as the two of you were, even doing the things he did, you wouldn't cut out everything he said to or taught you.”

“Normally I'd agree with you,” she countered. Walking away from the tomb she looked the older woman right in the eyes. “But I saw the bodies. I saw Reks die right in front of me. You didn't have to deal with any of that.” Her anger was close to getting away from her. And right now Jules didn't care if she would say anything she'd regret later or not.

“True,” Olivia said which raised her anger even higher. “But at least take this moment to say goodbye,” she was dumbfounded for a moment. Say goodbye? After everything he'd done, was she crazy? “At least get a few things off your chest. It helps more than you think,” she told her. “Think of it as one last lesson from the training ground. I'll be waiting outside when you're done.”

She passed through the door before Jules could even protest. Keeping her back turned to the tomb she stared at the open doorway. It would be so easy to just walk through that door right now. Olivia wouldn't say anything, she might not agree with it but she would respect her choice. Maybe even say she could comeback to say that 'goodbye' anytime she wanted. It would be so easy to walk through that door and forget this place even existed. It would be so easy.

And yet she wasn't moving any closer to that open door. When she did take a step it was backwards toward the tomb. Turning around she stopped by the side of it and just stared at it for the longest time She didn't have a need to say goodbye, but there were things on her chest she could get rid of all right. Slowly she started walking around the tomb, not taking her eyes off of it. “It's been a while,” she cautiously said. “A lot has happened. Me and Carter got married a few months ago. Just about everyone I knew was there, Just about, of course you weren't there. You should have been, you should have been the one performing the ceremony.” she stopped talking, she did not want to say that, out loud or otherwise. Softly she added, “You were the reason why we met, it should have been you. But no, you had the damn broken dream of yours that you tried to make happen.”

She paused again, to choke back a sob she felt coming. She felt her anger rise again and she didn't try to hold it back. “You set yourself up to die, if you felt you deserved that fate after everything you did fine. You got exactly what you deserved. But did you stop to think about afterwards? At how many eyes would be looking at me for answer I never had? Did you even care?” There was enough of a ledge around the tomb that she sat on it, trying to get herself under control, still she wiped a tear from her cheek

Taking a breath, she calmed herself down enough that she felt she could continue. “I was gone for a while, even though the questioning only took about a month. I told Carter that I had to figure things out before I came back. He never once asked what I was trying to figure out, I should probably tell him one of these days.” Getting off that ledge she walked away a bit. She still didn't want to say this next part out loud, but she knew she had to. “You manipulated Reks,” spinning around she faced the tomb and got closer, “You saw how he felt about Carter and the other Makai Knights. Instead of trying to talk him down or find out why you fed it, you fed his anger and disgust and used him as cover for your real plan. And that got me to thinking, if you manipulted him, his feelings. If you did that to him who else did you manipulate? Did you do that to me and Carter?” Tears started to fall again, “I started to doubt how I felt about him. And I hated you for that doubt being there. Almost as much as what you did to Reks.”

Sitting back on that ledge, she let the tears fall for a bit. When she finally started wiping them away she was softly chuckling to herself, “Then I remembered that stupid love spell. Do you remember? You caught me trying to get it to work, you didn't even know I was going to use it on you because I wanted to see you happy with someone. You told me that even if it worked it wouldn't in the long run because it wouldn't be real.” Leaning back she rested her head against the tomb. Feeling how cold the stone felt against the back of her head, “That the best you could do was get two people together that you'd think would be a good match for each other and hope for the best.” She took in a deep breath and slowly let it out, “That's what you did with me and Carter wasn't it? You just introduced us and hoped for the best.:”

Standing up again she dusted herself off as she faced the tomb. “I don't know if I can ever forgive you for doing what you did. I know I'm never going to understand it. But what done is done, you can't go back and change the past.” Putting a hand on the tomb she softly said, “Goodbye Vincent.” Then she left the crypt. Olivia was there to greet her as she exited. Closing the door she put a arm around her, gave her a quick, comforting hug. Then the two of them walked away, although she wouldn't admit it to her at that particular moment, Jules did feel a slight sense of closure she probably did need after getting all of that in the open.


It was already dark by the time she got to the path that lead toward home. Jules stood there remembering all the times she took this road to see Carter, maybe see if she could stay the night for whatever reason. Before they became engaged Jules started to wonder why he never protested when she started to make her way to his room instead of the guest room she used to use before then. In hindsight it wasn't the most subtle way to get him to realize the feeling she had for him at the time. Then again as Xypher once said he was too proper of a Knight.

Taking the path she was soon greeted by the familiar sight of the softly glowing lanterns that illuminated this path at night until the early morning. She smiled as the house came into view and quickened her pace slightly, and briefly holding her side when she started going too fast. Bur she was home now, and at the moment everything felt right in the world. Despite knowing better, part of her couldn't help but feel a little disappointed that Carter wasn't there to greet her. But given what they did that wasn't a realistic expectation. She should have told that to Shae when she had the chance. Well some things were better learned by life experiences than just being told. Going up the steps she opened the door and walked through. Might as well give it a shot, “I'm back.” she called out.

She was slightly surprised when Mason stepped into the hallway, “Welcome home Miss Jules. Am In correct in assuming that task you were asked to preform is over?”

“For better or worse, yes,” she told him. Still she looked up the stairs then into the den, no where to be seen. He was probably out on assignment somewhere.

She was aware Mason was staring at her, and after a moment spoke up, “Is something wrong Miss?”

She graced him with a small smile, “No Mason, everything just fine.” Maybe it was because of his job but he didn't look all that convinced. Should she tell him? It couldn't hurt, “I just got this stupid notion in my head that Carter would be here waiting for me/”

“Oh, that was his original intent,” Mason told her. “But Mr. Eric requested his presence a little while after you left. I believe it was about the number of Horrors he had sealed away since becoming Rook. Mr. Eric felt Carter was ready for a new piece of the Rook legacy. Much like with the armor it is something that has to be earned first.”

“Of course it is,” she said. At this point she was surprised he didn't have to fight anybody to get Mason. “Don't take this the wrong way Mason, but why are you still here? On the days that you're here you're usually gone by now. Not that I'm not happy to see you that is.”

“Of course Miss,” he said with a slight chuckle. “But Carter wasn't sure how long his task was going to last, so he asked if I would greet you in his place in case you returned before he did.”

“After everything that happened today I'm glad somebody did.” They stopped talking when they heard the front door open. She started grinning as a battered and rough looking Carter stood there looking tired, but happy to see her. She walk up to him.

He stepped closer as well, eventually saying, “I'm home.”

“So am I,” she said as she hugged him around the neck, after today she needed to feel his presence against her right now. “You look like hell by the way.” He grunted but hugged her back. Unfortunately squeezing right were that bastard was kicking her earlier. A quick “Ah”, escaped her lips before she could stop it.

He quickly stopped hugging her and looked at her, face full of concern, “Are you all right?”

“I've been better,” she told him, “but I'll be fine.” Giving him a wicked grin she added, “But we might have to wait on a proper welcome home greeting for a couple of days.”

Mason coughed into his hand to get their attention, “I most apologize for one thing.” Carter didn't react but she was slightly confused. “I did promise to have dinner waiting for you when you returned. However I had no idea when either of you would return so I haven't prepared anything.”

“It's fine Mason,” Carter told him.

“Wouldn't be the first time we had to fend for ourselves” she added. A cold sandwich wasn't exactly sounding so ideal at that particular moment. But it was better than nothing.

“That may be,” he said, “however I did phone that cafe the two of you are so fond of. They should be open for a few more hours yet, if you wish to dine there for the evening. And since they knew who the two of you are and what you usually ask for I took the liberty of placing an order for you. It should be ready for you by the time you arrive.”

“Thank you Mason,” Carter said with a small rare smile for the man.

Letting go of Carter she walked over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek, “You're the best Mason.”

He looked slightly embarrassed by the show of affection, “I do try Miss.” She gave a quick wave as the two of them walked out the front door. “Do enjoy your evening.” he called our as they went back down the path.

Walkig the path it wasn't long before she felt Carter reach out and grab her hand and give it a quick squeeze. She looked over at him and saw how content he was at that particular moment. “Just out of curiosity,” she said out of the blue, “how do you feel about teenagers?”

“Teenagers?”, he asked, looking understandably confused. Then he looked down at her stomach, given how many times they been intimate since they been married it was a natural conclusion on his part. Even if he did jump to it from the word teenagers

“No,” she said with a slight grin to put him at ease. “At least not yet. But I had an opportunity to mentor somebody today, a really sweet girl. Obviously it wasn't a permanent thing. But it did get me wondering how you felt, we never really discussed it before.”

“Were you going to at least ask our opinion first if you decided to take the kid under your wing full time?”, Xypher asked. Carter gave him a quick flick.

“I would have at least warned the two of you about her first,” she told the pin. Carter seemed satisfied with her answer and they walked in silence for a bit. After her 'talk' with Vincent she knew she couldn't keep him in the dark any longer. “Carter,” she said to get his attention, “do you remember when I told you I had to figure out some things before I saw you again?”

“After they questioned you about what you knew about Vincent's plan,” he said after thinking about it for a moment. “What about it?”

She hesitated a bit before saying, “I think I'm ready to tell you what I was trying to figure out.”

“You don't have to tell me if you really don't want to,” he told her.

“I want to,” she said as she pulled him closer. “And you deserve to know.” She looked up at him, “Just remember, I came back and asked you to marry me. Then you can tell me what my faux,” she said lifting a word her sister-in-law liked to use when calling Carter 'big brother' and he grinned at her use of it, “father-in-law wanted you to earn today.”

“Of course,” he agreed easily enough. Jules took his arm and gave it a quick squeeze as they walk the path. Now all was right in her world. She was home, the love of her life was next to her, and not a red envelope in sight. Maybe for this one night at least they could just be a some what normal husband and wife. And she better not have just jinx this moment.

Credit theme – Halestorm – I Am the Fire


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