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She nodded. "You aren't the same. It's foolish to behave like you are. Whether you like it or not, you have some of the Valefar's abilities. Until now, I'd hoped the Martis and Valefar powers would remain separate - clearly one or the other. It would allow you to know whether or not you should use those powers. Opening the door to evil, even slightly, could have lasting repercussions; repercussions that you don't want."

I leaned forward. "You mean the slippery slope theory? If I let a little bit of evil in, I'll slide right into a mess of it?"

"Not entirely. It's just that you should know what's behind a door before you open it." She leaned towards me, her face utterly concerned. "That's what my job is - to tell new Martis what their powers are and what those powers do. But, I'm afraid I can't help you with this Ivy. Your powers are changing and combining things that don't go together."

"What am I supposed to do when I come across something that's whacked? Ya know, when I find a power that's neither Valefar or Martis." I ran my fingers through my hair. "What should I do? Ignore it?"

Al shook her head. "I doubt that would be wise. You'll have to trust your gut and make sure the purpose of the power moves in line with your plans. What did you feel from the mirror?"

My eyebrows pulled together at the weird question. "Feel? What do you mean? I stared at the glass for a while. I tried to move through it, but I couldn't. It felt like Jell-O, kind of cold and firm."

A smile spread across Al's face. She laughed, "Not physically. I mean what did you feel coming from the mirror? Did it fill you with dread, fear, cold, warmth, or what?"

I cocked my head, not really understanding what she meant. "I didn't feel anything coming from it. It's an inanimate object - a hunk of Jell-O glass. It's not like it was alive or something."

"How do you know?" Al asked completely serious. The smile slid off my face when I realized she was serious. "Ancient things, be they good or evil, seem to have a life of their own over time. They can become something else, something that they weren't intended for. Sometimes they take on the attributes of what's around them. If that mirror was in the Underworld, you should be able to sense it. You should feel evil, darkness, emanating from it. It's possible if you had walked through its pane, you'd be trapped there with Collin right now; or somewhere else entirely. Not knowing what it was or who created it - Martis or Valefar - puts you in a very precarious situation."

I stared at Al. This news didn't sit well with me. It meant that at any time, I could be walking into a trap. A trap laid by Valefar or Martis, especially since I wasn't aware of all my Valefar powers. Collin only taught me two things, and they were powers that he said wouldn't compromise me. But there were other dark powers that were inside of me - powers that came naturally to regular Valefar. I could stumble on the dark powers and unlock them without even knowing it. No wonder everyone was afraid of me. I was a time bomb.

I started to squeak out a sound, but Al cut me off. "You'll know."

"But how?" I asked burying my head in my hands. "How could I possibly know which powers are Valefar or not? How could I know if the black glass came from my mind or was some contraption that the Valefar or Martis made a million years ago? How can I know that? It means that I can't trust myself." I shook my head, helplessly looking up at her. "There's no way to know."

She touched my shoulder, her ancient face confident, "You'll just know. You knew to stop trying to cross the black mirror today, so you sat and stared at it. Maybe you didn't realize the full extent of what powers lurk within you, and the dark magic around you, but now you do. And if you can truly manipulate Martis and Valefar powers into something new, well, Ivy - you definitely have the powers of the girl in the prophecy."

I nodded. Merging powers of darkness and light were building within me, powers that could bring utter destruction. Great. "So, you think the black mirror was a merging of my powers? The Valefar and the Martis powers blending together and turning into something else?"

"That's exactly what I think. Valefar can call darkness - shadows. Martis can see into the future and you can see into the future. See where I'm going with this? You saw a dark object, shrouded with some power that didn't allow you to pass through it. And the image you saw in the glass could be a glimpse of the future. At least it could have started that way. But, when the two powers blend together, I have no idea what you'll end up with. Light and dark ain't supposed to mix. They're like broccoli and chocolate - just nasty when you put them together - but that appears to be what's happening with you. And until you know without a doubt what's happening, you should be careful."

It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but her words made sense. I was neither fully Martis or Valefar, so why would my powers be that way? That was why the Valefar wanted to capture me and the Martis were afraid of me. I had powers that they've never seen before. That was true for all of us, because I had no idea what I was capable of.

Looking at Al, I wondered why she wasn't afraid of me like the rest of them. "You know, you're the only Martis who I'm certain isn't trying to kill me, although I have no idea why."

She smiled, "Different things ain't necessarily bad. They're just different. And without guidance, who knows where you'll end up. Sometimes you can fix a whole lotta mess with the help of one good friend."

I laughed, "Yup, I'm a whole lotta mess. But Al, you're the only one who can help me. What if I need you?"

She smiled softly, "That just means you'll have to figure things out on your own. I won't always be here and I sure don't know everything. Follow what's inside of you. It's stronger than any prophecy, and wiser than you realize."


Al had a lot of faith in me. It was daunting. Every other Martis looked at me with venom, like they were facing down their doom. But, Al seemed to have taken the opposite approach and they hated her for it. She was obviously the old squeaky wheel in the lot. She made her presence known after she'd seen me the first night at the Villa. After that they'd kept such a close eye on us that she wasn't able to teach me more. I practiced refining my visions without her, although I did not see the black mirror again with Collin trapped on the other side. When someone has so much faith in you, it's difficult not to believe in yourself. At the same time, when everyone else keeps saying you're evil, it's hard not to doubt yourself.

I felt lost and resentful. The Martis trapped me in the compound much longer than I'd wanted, but since I still hadn't found the information I was looking for, I couldn't leave yet anyway. Days slipped into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Nearly three months had passed and I was no closer to freeing Collin than when I started. I visited the library every day. Julia's ability to only speak the truth - a trait that all Martis possessed - worked in my favor. She lured me here with access to the ancient tomes and couldn't revoke her promise. Well, maybe she could have, but she didn't. It kept us apart until whatever was going to happen would happen.

Meanwhile, I flipped through dusty pages of ancient books looking for information on Kreturus. He was my enemy, my nemesis. It wasn't Collin as I'd once thought. It wasn't the Valefar. It wasn't even Julia. The one being that could make or break me was Kreturus. He wanted me. He needed my powers for himself. While I wasn't certain what was happing, I knew Al was right. My powers were changing. It was as if the magic took on a life of its own. I had no idea how to conjure it or use the melded magic, but I was sure that Kreturus did. I was the key to him unleashing his evil plan on the world. Without me, it couldn't happen.

The prophecy boggled my mind. What could possibly happen that would entice me in the slightest to join forces with a demon? It was unfathomable. There was nothing that would cause me to do that. There was no way I'd sign onto that. Irritation was building within me. I'd been flipping through book after book, but there was nothing in these pages about Kreturus, besides the original tale of how he was captured.

The story was interesting. It was during the last battle that raged thousands and thousands of years ago. The demons were winning after creating the Valefar. The massive number of Valefar, combined with the demons, overpowered the angels. If the angels hadn't made the Martis, they would have lost; and life as I knew it wouldn't exist.

But, they did create an immortal army of Martis. The angels bestowed all their powers on the Martis, but they spread the powers through the people so that no one person was more powerful than another. It created a cohesive force, with massive powers when they worked together. In the beginning, the Martis did work together. The Seyers were revered and worked hand-in-hand with the Dyconisis. It was nothing like Al and Julia's relationship. Julia thought Seyers were a dead breed and disregarded Al's usefulness. There was nothing about Martis Tribunals, banishments, and hearings.

The Martis back then relied on each other to overcome the demons. Not only did they lure Kreturus into a pit and trap him there, but they also pushed into the Underworld further separating humans from the evil creatures that reside there. The chasm between our world and the Underworld was well guarded, but eventually the Martis pulled out only leaving guards behind.

The books didn't say why the Martis left. There was no explanation of the current animosity between the Martis either. I had no idea where it stemmed from. The original Martis sounded great. They protected humanity from soul-sucking demons. They moved unseen and un-thanked, and they preferred it that way. They sounded like people that I would have liked.

The early Martis were responsible for ensnaring Kreturus in that pit in the Underworld, but they didn't kill him. That seemed like a colossal blunder to me. Why would they let him live? But as I read the reason became more obvious. Trapping him in a secluded part of the Underworld was like locking a king in his own thrown room. Around him were reminders of what he was, the power he held, and what he lost. And that was exactly what the Martis did. A few millennia passed and no one thought Kreturus was a threat. The Martis around the Villa still didn't believe that he was a danger, despite the testimony of Eric and Al. The rise in the number of Valefar and the attempt to open the Underworld portal last fall didn't make them change their minds either. This wasn't a case of blissful ignorance. It was a case of deep-seated fear that was too terrible to admit. If Kreturus was able to break his bonds, the Martis were totally screwed.

And so was I.


I sat at a little table decorated with Venetian glass in the courtyard of the Martis villa with Al. The sunlight filled the space, warming me. The Martis now allowed me to wander the grounds of their sprawling estate, but the guards were always with me.

Frustration flooded me as my fingers wrapped around a tiny cup with some coffee-like drink inside. After three months of searching I'd found nothing that would help me save Collin. Despair was choking me and everything was getting to me as my last shred of sanity was splitting apart.

"Al, I can't stand this much longer. What do they need to decide that I'm no threat to them?" I asked, completely exasperated. I expected them to convict me instantly, but when they didn't I started to hope that they would see me for who I was. That was hope that I severely misplaced.