The following takes place before Freedom's Price and at the same time as Once Could See But Now Am Blind
Zafira looked at the rain cloud. It was raining, in Roarhaven, not so much of a surprise. Alexis was excited.
"Momma how much further?" She asked. Zafira smiled.
"Close. Come I know the Sanctuary is here." Zafira led her family to the Irish Sanctuary. One thing about Zafira was being in Ireland for a few days she gained part of her Dublin accent from centuries ago.
Madame Mist was inside, laying out a play mat that Ruby and Dextra instantly began to crawl all over. Antonia-Lily was still under hospital care, but mainly as a just in case thing. She would, hopefully, be out by the end of the week.
Erskine waited by the main doors, balancing himself carefully on a set of crutches. He was recovering remarkably quickly from being hit by the car, but for now was still noticeably crippled. He was going to greet Zaf and co and show them where to go, but then doctor's orders were to give his legs a rest. Zafira led them inside and thankfully didn't have to deal with usual stuff. As an Elder she was allowed in. Alexis smiled
"Is that Mr. Ravel?" She asked pointing towards none other then Ravel. Javier nodded. Alexis's face lit up.
Ravel flashed a wide smile and made his way over. If he could do so, he would have crouched down in front of Alexis and said hello. As it was, he gave her a smile and a nod and wondered whether to address her or not. Instead, he turned his smile to Zafira. "I see you found it okay. Great to see you again, anyway...horrid night. You must be Alexis." He turned back to the child and decided to crack a joke. "I expected you to be taller." Then he made sure he didn't ignore Javier, as there was no point in appearing rude at this juncture, an gave him a smile and a hello, not sure of anything else to be said.
Zafira smiled, "Was not hard at all. I have been in Roarhaven before." Then Alexis giggled as Ravel spoke to her,
"I'm tall! I'm taller then some of the kids in preschool!" She told the Grand Mage proudly. "And I know some magic!" Javier nodded in greeting to Ravel
"Okay Alexis don't set the Grand Mage on fire. "
Erskine chuckled and gestured with his head for them to follow him though the halls. "You may want to be a bit gentle with the girls. They don't have magic yet, and they're rather small..." He trailed off. He was slower than the others in his current condition, but at least while inured like this he didn't have to wear his ghastly robes. Finally they reached the right hall and he nodded to the correct door, then leant against a wall, his arms tired.
As they walked they kept pace with Ravel. Zafira kept hold of Alexis who seemed absolutely mesmerized by Ravel. When they reached the door Alexis smiled,
"I'll be careful! I'm very gentle! We have a puppy at home named Coco so I know gentle!" She went right through to doors. Zafira sighed,
"Sorry about her. She litterally was running the whole way here. And don't worry she knows gentle and I have taught her to not set things on fire...I'm not an Elemental but I do remember some stuff."
He smiled and nodded. "At least we won't be needing any fire engines." He joked, "She must be excited. Very full of beans."
Ruby looked up when Alexis entered. Dextra seemed to be engrossed with a pink toy car as she put it curiously to her mouth.
"Alexis almost set my Administrator on fire thank god she's an Elemental." She laughed.
Alexis smiled and sat down,
"I'm Alexis." She told Ruby and Dextra. She looked excited to meet them.
Erskine laughed. "Hope it wasn't too chaotic. I'm actually a bit worried about when the girls start to pick up magic...they'll probably set fire to the curtains or something. And if one of them becomes a Child of the Spider..." He trailed off and shuddered.
Dextra couldn't talk yet but she could wave, which was exactly what she did. As Antonia was still under medical care, she would take a lot longer than the others to learn these basics, but Ruby and Dextra could toddle, and Ruby had a few words to speak. "Hewwo" was all she said so far. It was Madame Mist who introduced each girl.
"Well just don't bring them to the Sanctuary. At all. And has your uh...wife is a Child of the Spider whichever one is attached to her the most will take after her." Zafira explained shuddering at the thought. She didn't like any of the Children of the Spider.
Alexis waved back to Dextra and smiled. "Hey Ruby." She said and looked around the room and glanced up at Madame Mist. Alexis gave a small smile. It was obvious Alexis didn't know the Irish Elder's magic yet.
"What are you playing with?" She asked the girls.
"Honestly? My wife is creepy enough, I don't want one of my kids to start coughing up arachnids left, right and centre." He shuddered. "There are curtains at the house house as well." he pointed out. "And where do we leave them when we're at the Sanctuary?"
"Broom brooms." Ruby replied, using a word for cars she had picked up off of God knows who and showing Alexis the plastic purple car in her little hand.
Zafira tried to not die of laughter,
"How exactly did you and her...find love for each other?" She asked. Even being used to professional situations Zafira couldn't stop from smirking. Javier nodded,
"Yes well the last Child of the Spider I met I killed." He said calmly looking at the Irish Grand Mage.
"That is an awesome car. I heard stories about Skulduggery Pleasant having a purple car." She said. She looked around and found a mini track and put the track together.
"Now the broom broom has a motorway!"
Erskine met Javier's eyes uncertainly. "Some of them can be rather untrustworthy. That Acacia Adonia woman was one herself." He hesitated and thought about Zaf's question, trying to ignore the laughter. "It just sort of happened. Once you get past the general creepiness of the Children of the Spider...scratch that, you never do, but she's just...nope, I honestly have no clue."
Ruby drew a blank at Skulduggery's name. She had heard it being mentioned before but had heard nothing properly about the man. When Alexis built the motorway, her face lit up. "Dexter!" It was the closest she had gotten to pronouncing her sister's name so far and she never understood the somewhat sad look on her father's face when she pronounced it that way. Dextra made her own car fly over the motorway by throwing it and then rolled onto her back, giggling. Ruby just sat there, looking a little confused. "Motorways are good." She finally said, going to retrieve the car her sister had thrown so they could play with them both.
"I plan to not murder an Elder." He reassured. Zafira rolled her eyes,
"I don't prefer working with them but hey. You found someone which is good and got not one but three kids."
Alexis giggled and found another car for herself. She nodded to Ruby.
"I live in New York City and we have so many motorways. Momma is Grand Mage of America." She placed her own car on the motorway and let it go. She clapped delighted. Alexis grinned and pushed the air slightly to make her car go faster.
Erskine nodded trustingly. "I'm sure you do." He told Javier with his usual smile. He thought about the three kids and how he hadn't really wanted one all that much and shrugged, saying nothing.
Ruby smiled. "I seen a motorway, and it was all crammed with broom brooms and Daddy swore at people and Mummy told him off because he was naughty. I can remember some of the words." Mist pulled a hopeless face beneath her veil as Ruby continued, pushing her car back and forth over the road. Dextra was playing with a doll now. "My Mummy and Daddy work here a lot. I have to stay here a lot."
Javier smiled and put an arm around Zafira.
"Soon Alexis will have a sibling." He told Ravel grinning. Zafira sighed happily.
"My Mommy swears at people too on the motorway." Alexis giggled. She nodded as Ruby told her about staying here,
"My Mommy is like your Dad. So I go to the Sanctuary in America!" Alexis smiled.
Erksine smiled back. "Congratulations..." He glanced down at his hands and wondered whether he could shake their hands without dropping a crutch. It was a brief glance before he leaned the less supportive crutch against the wall and held his hand out in a congratulatory fashion.
Ruby giggled. "Grown ups are funny when they get angry on motorways. Sanctaroonies are not fun."
Zafira shook his hand. Javier nodded. He kept his arm around Zafira protectivly.
"Thank you." She said. "Who tried to kill you?" Zafira asked.
"Grown ups are funny!" Alexis giggled. "I like the Sanctuary because the Administrator gives me candy and sometimes I see the ghost of a former Grand Mage!"
Erskine looked a little confused for a moment, then looked down at his bad hip and bound leg and chuckled. "Some idiot hit me with a car...although, admittedly, I did run into the road...but someonewas trying to kill me..." He trailed off for a moment and shook his head. "In the end I really don't know."
Ruby's eyes widened and Dextra looked over with interest. "Ghoss!" She called out excitedly. Ruby smiled to her sister, then back at Alexis. "I want to see a ghost! That sounds good! We don't get anything."
"Ah...well cars hurt." She gestured to her face. "Niccoló Croatoan had attacked me if you recall a while ago. I still have faint scars."
"You gots to cone to America! I live there! We got three Sanctuaries cuz that's how we are!" Alexis said excited. She looked up at Madame Mist addressing the Elder,
"Elder Mist." She began respectfully as her mother taught, "Would Dextra and Ruby be able to come to America next time to visit?"
He picked up his crutch again and nodded. "I know about car pain by...multiple experience." He shrugged and tilted his head, looking closely. "Oh yeah...I heard about that...I was quite worried. Glad you're okay."
Ruby looked a little stunned. "Ooh, thwee..."
Madame Mist looked down at Alexis. "We will have to discuss it, but shall see what we can do. Perhaps next time you shall be able to meet their other sister."
Javier spoke up,
"Oh trust me. I came home and she was laying on the floor half dead." Javier said quietly. Zafira nodded.
"Well I prefer to not relive that. So you mind giving us a tour?"
"Oh three of you! Okay! That'd be cool!" Alexis grinned and looked at the two that were there
"I'm gonna have a sibling!" She exclaimed happily. Alexis made her car go fast using the air.
Erskine wasn't sure what to say to Javier, so he turned to Zafira and went back to smiling. "I certainly can try if you don't mind how slow I go." He moved forward carefully, awkwardly, wincing slightly at a pain in his hip.
Ruby smiled. "Sissies are fun." She looked at the car zooming along and frowned. "How you do that?"
"It's fine. I understand your condition we can move at your pace." Zafira said. Javier stayed close. Always was.
Alexis grinned proudly,
"Magic." She told Ruby. She clicked her fingers summoning a flame.
"I bet you have some magic! Try making a flame."
Erskine smiled, grunting slightly with effort. "Okay, thanks. Come on, there's a lot to see...it's not all interesting and there are leaking things, but there are stuff..."
"...How?" Ruby asked, looking more and more confused.
"Eh I'm not used to having the whole Council around. In America we have three separate Sanctuaries. Each Elder runs one. I am in charge of the main one though." Zafira explained. She figured at this point the odds of a fellow Grand Mage turning traitor were slim.
Alexis did the motion of summoning a flame again.
"Do what I did." She said calmly. She was excited to hopefully help Ruby learn magic.
"I think I've heard that before..." He muttered to himself before attempting a shrug as he moved. "Not sure. Interesting trivia though. I think it's better to share the workload...if I ran a Sanctuary by myself, I'd go nuts."
Ruby frowned. She couldn't click her fingers yet. She wiggled her fingers and thumb together to no avail and looked upset. "I can't do it..."
"I am insane. Well it's not bad because to me it's normal. And plus America is larger. We need the three Sanctuaries to cover all of the country. I work in New York City which is the east coast. If all of the Elders were just there if we had a problem in California it'd be hard to deal with it efficiently." Zafira explained.
Alexis went over to Ruby and made her fingers do the motion.
"If you don't get it you can always bug your Daddy into helping you! He's an Elemental."
Erskine smirked. "You have a point there." He mused. "It'd all be easier if there wasn't so much trouble to start with, but maybe a whole lot less fun..."
Ruby nodded. "Bugging Daddy is fun...he's always really busy and always complains a lot and it's really funny."
"I deal with a lot of entertaining things." Zafira smirked and caught Javier's eye. Javier winked.
"My Mommy complains too! Maybe all Grand Mages do that! She complains that her other Council member is in California!"
"I guess there's never a dull moment in this line of work." His mind flashed back to being told Ghastly had died and he faltered, lost in the thought and almost losing his balance.
"Hey woah you okay, Ravel?" Zafira asked. Javier looked slightly concerned.
"My mommy complains that I kinda accidently broked her foot! And set someone on fire!" Alexis giggled. She smiled.
"I'm fine," he muttered, glaring at a spot on the floor, "I just slipped. Come on, I want to show you the...room where we keep the, uh...things..." He said, clearly trying to change the subject.
Ruby giggled as well. "I played with my Daddy's stick thing once and I losted it and he got really unhappy."
"Right." Zafira nodded allowing him to lead. She looked a bit unsure.
"Grand Mages are funny!" Alexis giggled and made her toy car race.
Erskine bit his lip and opened a random door, forgetting where exactly he was and just hoping it had something interesting inside. It didn't, but that was okay. It was a meeting room and he needed a rest, so the abundance of chairs was helpful.
Ruby hummed in agreement, trying to push her car along without actually touching it. "It moved! Lexis, it moved!"
Zafira noticed how tired he was,
"Guessing getting run over didn't help." She laughed and Javier nodded.
"You did it!!!" Alexis screamed excited. She looked super excited.
Erskine smirked. "I must say, it certainly put a downer on that day."
Ruby grinned. "I made it move! I did it! I did magic! I did magic!" She screamed the last sentence over and over a few times.
From where Zafira stood she heard a mini Irish accent screaming,
"Appears your children are learning magic." She noted to Ravel. Javier cracked a smile.
"Yay!!!" Alexis screamed and hugged Ruby. "You did magic! You did magic!"
"It would happen eventually." He replied, letting a smile grace his features. "They'll be bugging me about that for weeks on end now."
Ruby hugged back. "I love magic!"
"Don't worry they'll realize the fun is doing things on their own. Alexis did." Zafira smiled. She took Javier's hand.
"That was Elemental magic like your Dad!" Alexis explained. "I'm learning Elemental magic too."
"Seriously, Ruby's favourite thing to do is come bug me and try annoy me when I'm trying to work."
"It's so cool! I can push things without touching them!" She pushed at the air again and watched the car move a little more.
"Alexis did the same but Javier kept her home when she wanted to,"
"You doing good! Air is fun to use!" Alexis moved her car with air.
"Unfortunately we can't really keep them home, what with both of us working here and stuff." He gave a slight shrug.
"I love air!" Ruby squealed, pushing at the air at random and seeing what moved.
"I understand, I guess it is best keep then here." Zafira muttered. Then Javier spoke,
"I guess you and Mist got lucky, triplets on first shot."
"You doing really well!" Alexis praised. She pushed air with Ruby giggling
Erskine gave a slightly moody shrug. "Yeah, well, I guess that depends on the point of view..."
"What else can I do with air?"
"You don't like having little ones...that many?" Javier asked.
"Well you can fly but that's hard."
Erskine gave a slight and silent chuckle. "I haven't slept at all for the past month. Just one kid, I'd be fine. Triplets? So hard to handle."
Ruby thought for a moment. "I can't wait to learn all this stuff more!"
"I understand. I just have Alexis so..." Zafira trailed off. Alexis was behaved.
"It's fun' soooo fun!" Alexis told Ruby.
Erskine nodded, smiling. "I'd consider you lucky, with just the one. I don't know how many times I've had to go to a random worker here and ask for a bit of help. You're not supposed to try tackle triplets by yourself, you're supposed to get outside help..."
Ruby gave a big smile. "You know what? We should be friends!"
"Yeah baaad idea." Zafira laughed. She smiled happily. Poor Ravel. Triplets.
"We should be Ruby!" Alexis said giving Ruby her hand.
Erskine's smile grew wider. "The main problem seems to be finding the right help at the right time."
Ruby pounced, taking Alexis' hand in both of hers. "Friends forever?" She was clearly quite an excitable child.
"Yeah you need a knack for that." Zafira smirked. Javier smiled.
"Friends forever! And ever!" Alexis told Ruby excited. "A knack I just don't seem to have."
"And ever." Ruby responded, wanting to get the last word in.
"It's hard. You'll get it eventually." Javier said. He looked afraid to address Ravel.
"Yay! And we can visit each others houses too!" Alexis looked ecstatic.
Erskine smiled, but his brow creased slightly at the implication of fear from Javier. "Hopefully."
"What's your house like? Mine's old and creaky and the curtains are blue."
A Sanctuary operative limped into the otherwise empty medical bay. It seemed off to him. This place wasn't supposed to be empty, there were supposed to be people monitoring any patients. That was equally odd, no patients. Wasn't the Grand Mage's daughter...? Ah. He hurried out of the room again, panicking slightly.
"I wonder how you manage three kids." Javier laughed. He took Zafira's hand.
"Mine is two floors and new! And big! My room is big!" Alexis told Ruby. "And we have a doggy named Coco!"
"With difficulty...although it must be said the youngest hasn't come home yet..."
"My room's big too, and pink... want a doggy..." She turned to her mum. "Can we get a doggy?"
Mist shook her head with a slight sigh.
"Oh. You should check on her." Zafira advised. She looked a bit uneasy. Kids missing. Bad.
"Well if you can come by me yiu can play with Coco too!" Alexis grinned. She glanced up at Mist and back and Ruby. Alexis felt uneasy by the Elder.
"She's fine." He insisted. "She's got everyone in the medical bay monitoring her until she's well enough to be taken home."
Ruby grinned. "I like doggies." She caught the glance and also looked to her mother as Dextra tripped and the Elder went to tend to her. "My mummy's really fun!"
"If you insist." Zafira muttered. She let Ravel think what he wants.
"Mine is too!" Alexis glanced at Dextra, "Dextra okay?"
Ravel smiled and opened his mouth to speak, but that was when the mage with the limp passed the open door, saw them inside, backtracked and leaned heavily against the door frame, trying to get his breath back. Ravel arched an eyebrow at him.
"My mummy reads stories and uses her hand as aminals and plays games and turns her knee into a horsie! It's so much fun"
Mist held Dextra on her hip and smiled beneath her veil. "She's fine, just a little bump."
Zafira turned to the mage curious. She didn't know what happened but it probably wasn't good. She was in a Cradle of Magic.
"My Mommy reads to me too when she isnt working or Daddy reads! They make their voices funny." Alexis giggled.
The mage with the limp took a couple of minutes to muster up enough air to start speaking, deciding he really needed to get a bit more exercise. "There's no-one...in the medical bay," he gasped out. "Antonia...is missing..."
Erskine frowned, struggling to his feet. "What do you mean...missing?" He grunted out as he stood.
The man looked afraid to say. "It looks like someone's snuck in and taken her...we've got forensics on it now."
Ruby shrugged. "Mine don't do voices. My Daddy does sleepy, if that counts..."
"Who took her? Wait forget that." Zafira muttered. "Want me to help?"
"That counts!" Alexis laughed and continued to giggle.
Ravel slammed a fist on the conference table. "Someone was supposed to be watching over her!"
The man with the limp backed out of the door and wrinkled his nose. Something smelled.
Ravel gave a sigh. "Help with what? What are we supposed to do?" He sounded like he was accepting defeat already.
Ruby let out a giggle of her own. "He's very good at sounding sleepy!"
Zafira slapped Ravel,
"Idiot! Do not give up. We will find her. Use the head between your shoulders. Think. Who would kidnap your child. You're Grand mage of Ireland. Who holds a grudge against you?" She questioned already thinking of possible people. She never gave up unless defeat was inevitable.
"My Mommy does the Irish accent really good." Alexis said. She grinned.
Ow He mouthed at the sting of Zafira's slap. He didn't seem to register what she was saying, then he tilted his head back and thought. "Where do I start?" He asked to himself quietly, making sure he moved ever so slightly out of range of Zaf's arms. "Extremists and terrorists, Children of the Spider, anyone who works with or for Mevolent, that guy I punched one time in Sainsbury's...those two people that killed Vex and...Vex, whoever killed Ghastly, Maleficent's brother and his friends, any enemies my wife's made..."
Ruby giggled again. "My Mummy and Daddy don't try accentses." She replied, taking a Barbie doll from a nearby toybox and fiddling with it.
"Names. Do a check on all of them who was near or around Roarhaven. She will be found." Zafira promised.
"Ah. Ooh barbie!!" Alexis took one out and played with it.
Erskine gave a sullen and somewhat subdued nod. "I'll have to be the one to tell her, won't I?" He mumbled quietly, referring to Mist, dreading her reaction.
"My Barbie's a princess who drives a monster truck." Ruby responded with a smile.
"Take a Cleaver or two." Zafira suggested smirking. She knew what she'd do to Ravel so Mist probably would be violent.
"Mine is a princess too! She lives on a pretty island!"
Ravel smirked back, despite the seriousness of the situation. "Good suggestion." he stated before swinging himself off to find his soon to be furious wife.
"My princess lives in a pretty pink castle with a purple roof and dagons! She's friends witht the dagons."
"She's going to murder him." Javier said quietly. Zafira laughed,
"He will learn never piss off the wife."
"Are the dragons there to keep her safe?"
Ruby nodded. "And also to be her friends ands there are baby dagons and they're so cute!"
"Will she be able to ride them?" Alexis asked. "Cuz my princess rides on tropical animals like a uhm tiger!"
"She can't ride the baby ones." Ruby replied, tracing a pattern on the floor with her Barbie's feet.
"Well yeah because they'd be too small." Alexis grinned. "Like my new sibling when they come!"
"Or like Antona." Ruby replied. "She's my sissie and she's tiny. But Dexta's all big."
"She will be big too!" Alexis giggled. "Coco my puppy is tiny too."
"I want a puppy!" Ruby moaned. There was a knock at the door and Madame Mist went to open it. Ruby watched her go and started twisting her barbie's hair. "Puppies are all fluffy and cute..."
"So are kittens! We have them running around the backyard. We named them after really famous people! A white kitty we named Skulduggery! Except that kitty is a girl."
"I has talking to my goddaddy, his name's Anton, and he said he used to have a kitty called Skulduggy. A girl one. Before he met someone of the same name. I don't know anyone called Lulskuddy..." Ruby frowned at her inability to get the name right, then glanced over her shoulder at the sound of angry whispers. Her parents seemed to be arguing in the doorway. Alexis heard the angry whispers. She held back a giggle at the funny Irish accents. "He was a detective."
"Did he have one of those things that people make..." She got distracted as her parents' voices raised. "Are they fighting?" Alexis nodded,
"I think that they are fighting. Not very good either." Alexis mumbled. She didn't look happy.
"I don't want them to fight..." Ruby mumbled, looking like she was about to cry. She gave a squeak of fear and started crying when she heard the sharp sound of skin on skin-a slap that certainly sounded painful. Erskine had clearly said the wrong thing in his attempts to calm Mist down, and now he turned his attention to Alexis and Ruby.
"Girls, I'm afraid Alexis has to go home now."
"AWWW!!!!" Alexis said and hugged Ruby. Zafira came in with Javier,
"We'll set up another day I promise." Zafira said going and picking up Alexis. "What do you say?"
"Thank you Grand Mage Ravel and Elder Mist for inviting me over." Alexis responded politely.
Ravel gave a curt nod as a response. "Have a nice day, and keep her safe." Ravel told Zaf and Javier, nodding at Alexis when he said 'her'. He then made a move towards Ruby. "Ruby, come here." She did as she was told and Mist gave an apologetic look to the Americans. Javier nodded speaking for both his wife and himself,
"One of you can contact Zafira at the Sanctuary, main American one in New York City." He said and took Zafira's hand. The Necromancer shadow-walked immediately and the family went to their rental car and began driving to Dublin City where they would be staying overnight and leaving for America the next day. Ravel sighed once they were out of sight and picked his daughter up off the floor. He turned to Madame Mist. "I want you to talk to Popularity." He took Dextra from her and looked at the floor. "I'll watch these two."
Mist hesitated, looking like she was going to argue, but nodded and left instead.
((And now those parting quips Jinxie puts at the end of everything she posts:...Does what I've written here mean Dextra's first word is 'ghosts'?))