Sorlia looked up from the papers strewn all around the table. "Lavender. What are you doing here? Why aren't you in America looking for Grand Mage Kerias?" She was with Ravel.
"I have news..." Lavender trailed off as the second question sunk in. She gasped, "Zafira is missing?"
"Captured. By Mevolent." Ravel answered.
There was a pause as Lavender took that in. Then she began hitting herself on the head as she shouted, "I'm an idiot! A stupid, stupid idiot! I should have gone to her first! I could have saved her! Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
Her mother grabbed her wrist before she could hit herself again, looked her in her tear filled eyes, and ordered, "Julie. Calm. Down."
Although she had a taken name to prevent mages from ordering her with her given name, Sorlia used so much force that Lavender listened. Slowly, Lavender relaxed, lowering her arm and taking deep, shuddering breaths. "She was my friend, Mom..."
"Is," Sorlia corrected. "She's not dead yet."
"So why are you here?" Ravel asked.
"I heard Mevolent's going to attack all Sanctuaries at once," Lavender answered quietly. "Don't know when."
The room was quiet as Ravel thought. After a few minutes, he sighed. "With Grand Mage Kerias out of action, we need a fill in for her. Just until she's found. And we need everyone prepared to fend off their Sanctuary at any moment. Bring in as many Cleavers as they can. Rippers too, if they have to."
He beckoned to the Administrator who stood at the entrance, still looking flustered that Lavender had somehow gotten past him into the room, when he had told her not to enter. She had turned into a mouse and snuck in when his back was turned. "Send word to all the Sanctuaries." Ravel continued. "Let them know what's going on." The administrator nodded and left the room.
As Ravel followed him out, Sorlia turned to Lavender and asked, "How did you get here? Ireland's too far to fly to as fast as you did, bird or plane." She thought for a moment. "You didn't ask Ivy, did you?" When Lavender didn't answer, she continued. "She's an assassin, Lavender. And a murderer! You shouldn't be friends with people like that! It's dangerous!"
"I have faith in them, Mom. Ivy has never tried to kill me yet. Maybe threatened me and hit me in a joking manner, but never seriously hurt me before!"
"It's the yet and before that I'm worried about. What if someone hires them to kill you. Then what?"
Lavender hesitated. "I think they'd give me a warning. I mean, I'm their friend."
"No, they're your friends. There's a difference. Of course you'd do anything for them, but you shouldn't trust them enough to think they'd do the same for you." Sorlia sighed. "Why couldn't you just ask Fletcher?"
"Mom. I had this conversation already with Ivy. I don't even know him! Sure you might, seeing as you have files of almost every sorcerer on the planet, but I don't travel with you as much as I used to." Lavender went quiet. "It was when I did that I met the friends I have now."
"Which is why I stopped bringing you along. Assassins and murderers."
"I do have Sanctuary friends, remember? And they're also friends with people like Ivy." The room turned quiet.
After a moment of silence, Sorlia sighed again and held her arms out to Lavender, who stepped into the hug. She rested her cheek on Lavender's head, rocking her back and forth. "I love you, Julie. I want you to be safe."
"I know, Mom. I will be. I love you too."
Lavender let her mother hold her for a moment longer, then pulled out and said, "I'm going out to find Zaf. I have a feeling she's here in Ireland."
"You can't go out by yourself! It's dangerous!"
"I'll be fine, Mom. Promise." Lavender looked at her mother and smiled reassuringly.
As she hurried out of the room, Sorlia called after her, "Please be careful, Julie! I love you!"
* * *
Lavender was a swallow, zipping through the skyline of Dublin. She tried to call out to Zafira in her mind, but since her thought-voice could only reach a mile around her, Lavender didn't think she could be heard well.
She had been flying for almost two hours now. She could feel the swallow's mind taking over more and more of her own as she got closer to her two and a half hour limit. She needed to change form before it took over completely. If that happened, she would be lost in the mind of a swallow.
Lavender found an empty side street and alighted there. Making sure no one was around, she changed into her human form. I'll go on foot for now, she thought. She turned into a cat and began calling Zafira in her mind again.
Lavender was at a park, again as a human, by the time the sun was down, and she was tired from walking and flying all day, so she found a bench at the base of a tree, lay down, and was asleep in moments.