“The first thing we need to do is evaluate each of you,” Sean said as we stood in front of him.
The room we were in was what I would call a library with tall, vaulted ceilings, countless books siting on shelves that lined the walls, and enormous windows that framed the ocean view in the distance.
“You are automatically considered residents of Atlantis under Atlantian law set by the Alliance. The librarianship and guardianship have no jurisdiction here, but,” Sean gazed at each of us with his mossy green eyes, “your evaluation will determine your permanent citizenship here.”
“What?” Hannah blurted what we all thought. “I thought we are safe here…I thought it was a sure thing when we got here.” Her words were filled with desperation.
Sean let a smirk escape his lips. “You are residents of Atlantis, and I’m sorry that did seem a bit misleading.” He rubbed his chin. “Whatever your position was with the librarianship, no longer is valid. When you stepped off the portal platform, you are considered residents of Atlantis under the race of sirens. To gain rights, you must become a citizen. It’s different for sirens though. We need to know what level of siren you are, and since none of you have been evaluated, we must do that.”
“And how do you do that?” I asked stepping forward.
Sean gave me a slightly disapproving look as he looked me up and down. I know I didn’t fit the siren mold, but I knew I had strong powers.
“You are a hidden gem.” He smiled, my skin slightly crawled. “Your light is bright, but your appearance is slightly misleading. You are a lovely creature, but plain by siren standards.” He leaned back with a crooked smile. I glared at him with my left eyebrow arched, he took notice. “Take it as a compliment, Mae. I’ve evaluated many sirens, and you,” he shook his finger at me, “interest me.” I straightened and tilted my head to the side trying to sum him up. He was blocking me, I couldn’t get through. “You have strong visions…very strong visions along with a past rich in our culture.” His eyes drew me in as if they had suddenly turned into strong magnets. I couldn’t resist staring into them and even forced myself to not blink. I didn’t want to miss a movement of the swirling greens that filled the iris of his eyes. “Hmmm,” he said with satisfaction slowly releasing his trance on me. I pulled back not taking my eyes from him.
“What do you mean by hmmm?” I asked after a few moments past without explanation.
“You come from a line calling shell navigators.” I gave him a confused look. “That kind of siren is rare these days. Shell navigators give the calling shell a direct link from portal to portal. Once created, the portal link made by the calling shell can’t be tampered with. Only shell navigators can do this. Unfortunately, many were killed so long ago.”
I thought of my visions. The woman with the same color of eyes—my mother had let me hold a calling shell. She loved me, and I her. She wanted to teach me things—things of heritage. My heart ached for the knowledge of my past, for my mother, and for Nolan. I knew my leaving would hurt him, but only for a little while would his heart ache. If I would have stayed, his life would turn into a miserable mess. Our family ended with just us.
I was torn in my emotions. Sean had reached into me in what he called an evaluation. Did he really need to get personal? I lifted my eyes to him. He gave me a quizzical look of concern.
“Mae, dear, are you alright?” He asked.
How dare he venture into my feelings I had for Nolan. I felt a rage cast over me like storm clouds clustering together to block out the bright summer sun.
“Mae?” Beannca gently grabbed by the arm. I jerked it away, ready to pounce when a stabbing sensation pieced through my stomach.
I clutched my belly thinking I had been stabbed. Something warm ran down my leg—blood.
Sean jumped up as Beannca and Sophie guided me to the floor. Sean’s eyes turned tender with concern as he placed his hand on my stomach.
“She’s with child.” He shook his head and mumbled something to himself.
“But sirens can’t get pregnant,” Hannah said in disbelief over my head.
Sean looked up at her. “Well, Mae is, and I want her child to live.” He jumped up, went over to his desk and lifted a clear stone to his ear that lit up with pastel colors.
I felt the flow of blood slow and the pain dulled. I was pregnant—again with Nolan’s baby and it was still inside of me—alive.
“Mae,” a voice, female, said in a gentle tone.
I opened my eyes to see a woman with blonde hair sitting beside me. She smiled making her curious shade of eyes twinkle. I gazed at them with curiosity.
“You have one green and one blue eye.” I stated my thought aloud. She deepened her smile.
“They are Atlantian eyes.” Her voice was filled with amusement rather than insult at my rude comment. I usually wouldn’t say something like that, but I couldn’t help it. “My name is Karrina, and this is Zach.” She motioned to the blonde haired boy hovering behind her. He smiled with a nod. “We are with the Alliance and are here to help you.”
I gingerly ran my hand over my stomach that was covered in soft blankets. “Is it...am I…”
Karrina smiled. “Yes, you are still with child.” A wave of relief fell over me. “But we need to know whose child it is. I hate to be so blunt and personal, but we need to have as much information as we can. We want to help you Mae, I hope you understand that.” Her eyes said it for her.
“Nolan Gorick is the father. He was once a guardian and lives in Deadwood, Kansas.” I suddenly felt a wave of weakness caress me like the waves of the Sanudra Ocean that surrounded us. How did I know what to call those waters? My mind was drifting. “Please,” I said pushing the words from my mouth before sleep took me. “Find him, he needs to know.”
I was still pregnant. Fate couldn’t have this child. It was mine, it was Nolan’s, and I prepared myself to fight for its life.
“Thank you for agreeing to come with me on a walk. I like to go after a meal to clear my thoughts.” Sean walked beside me as the waves curled around our feet.
“It’s beautiful here,” I replied.
Sean gazed out at the sea that he’d probably looked at thousands of times.
“But I suppose you’ve seen hundreds of sunsets, and walked countless miles on the beach. I bet it’s like me walking among the tall buildings in Chicago.” I smiled with a shrug. “The awe and amazement have become the mundane.”
“That isn’t so.” Sean corrected me. “The beauty is still there, we simply don’t lose sight of it.” We stopped, and stood shoulder to shoulder facing the endless ocean. “But I understand how the beauty can lose its luster when experiencing it every day. That is more of a human response rather than a siren response. Sirens are naturally in tune to the elements surrounding them. We notice changes all the time.” He looked down at me. “I can even see changes in you since you came here.”
My eyes shot back up to him. “What changes?” I asked with concern.
Sean’s lips curled into a smile, and wrinkles formed around his eyes. “Don’t worry, it isn’t grim.” He chuckled as he slipped his hand in mine. “Come on, I want to show you something.”
Being with Sean was like having a warm blanket wrapped around me. I had never felt so comfortable around a complete stranger in such a short amount of time before. Our walk turned into a slight jog as Sean pulled me along like a child that wanted to show me something amazing. When I first saw him at the portal, he looked almost like a warrior, but that appearance had fallen, and I felt I was looking at another Sean.
He slowed our pace as we neared the jagged black rock cliff that jetted out towards the ocean. Large boulders were scattered along the beach, and some had crumbled into the water.
“This is called the blackened caves.” Sean stopped in front of a large arched opening that reminded me of the opened mouth of a lion. It was as beautiful as it was dangerous looking. “Murk Island once had active volcanoes and this is an old lava flow that we are standing under.” We barely stood inside the cave that looked to be at least twenty feet high. “This tunnel leads to the council building, the first building in the circle. It was used to transport dignitaries from other lands when we held a council. It was a protective passageway for those who traveled by sea. Now, it’s abandoned and the gate has been sealed shut.”
“This is really an amazing place,” I said over the echoing ocean that amplified within the cave walls. I looked out towards the ocean that was now framed in the ancient lava flow.
“No, you are amazing,” Sean said stepping closer to me.
I gasped slightly as we stood facing on another. His smile was warm and his gestures timid. It was almost like he was trying to control his emotions—not move too fast because it was too soon. A flash of sorrow cast over me like a sudden gust of a winter’s wind. I kept my eyes on him. Had I picked up on one of his emotions that I’ve been trying to read since I got here? Or did Sean send it to me? I didn’t reach into it or follow it. I simply let my eyes gaze into his, and his eyes into mine before I pulled my eyes from his.
“I’m not really that amazing.” I might look like the stereotype for a siren, but so far all I’ve been able to do is crack the window in Jack’s apartment. “I’m not a very powerful siren.”
“I beg to differ. There are different degrees of amazing.” Sean stepped farther into the cave pulling me with him. “There are actually three levels: grand, element, and sight siren. Grand sirens cover a vast area with their influences, and can execute a wide spectrum of siren abilities, but are masters of none. They are the most common, and were used in negotiations during wars to keep opposing parties’ minds open to each other. Sight sirens are very rare and can translate things at long distances, kind of like long-range weapons. They are nearly all but gone, very few of them remain.” Sean stopped and stood facing the cave wall. “That is why I want Mae’s child to live.”
A light, soft in illumination, sat in Sean’s hand. It was an orillion—the light of the Faes’, and it illuminated the sculpture carved into the cave wall. It was of a man and woman facing one another with a willow-like tree hovering over them. It was done in great detail with great care taken to every fold of their clothing to the individual leaves on the tree. The figures were so real looking, I thought they might move.
“This is one of the relief carvings done to greet any visitor. The woman represents thought, and the man represents movement. They meet each other in the middle because thought would become stagnant without movement, and movement would be futile without thought.”
I gazed up at it, entranced by the deepening shadows. I felt I could had stepped into it myself and touch their almost joining hands when the long branches of the weeping tree swayed delicately in some unfelt breeze. “Think before you act,” I said more to myself as the man and woman joined their hands before the sculpture froze into place.
“Simple idea, but not always executed by all.” He tugged on my arm as he held the orillion in front of him. It made long shadows on the bumpy cave walls that had a few smoothed out areas that looked like they had been sanded.
“Were there going to be more carvings?” I asked referring to one of the many flattened out areas we had passed.
Sean stopped and drew in a deep breath. “I wish the surfaces were being prepared, but no, there aren’t going to be any more sculptures.” His eyes fell on me with a hollow look to them. “Come my lovely element siren,” Sean said as his smile feathered away. A foreboding look filled his face for a mere second before it vanished. Even though I couldn’t get through to test Sean as to what kind of siren he was, I could tell that things were not perfect in this perfectly landscaped world.
“Wait,” I said resisting his pull on my hand. “I’m an element siren?” He nodded his head, and I waited for him to elaborate on it, but he didn’t. “Well, what is it?” I felt overjoyed that I at least fit into one of the three types of sirens.
“I’m sorry. I guess most of us here have known what level we are for a long time.” His eyes sparkled at me. “An element siren can influence the elements like grand sirens can calm a room filled with angry people. Wind, rain, clouds, snow, and if strong enough, elements like fire can be guided by an element siren.”
I thought of Jack’s window I had accidently cracked when my anger for Aaron overtook me. “You mean I can conjure up storms, make it snow and set fires if I want too?” The idea of that much power was very enticing.
Sean let out a deep belly laugh. “Well, not exactly.” He took my hand and placed the orillion in it. “Look at the orb, and ask it to glow brighter.” I gave him a confused look. “Gaze at it thinking to yourself about how beautiful it is.” I looked at the orillion in my palm. “You don’t control the elements, you encourage them.”
I gazed at the orillion. Its white light filled my hand and shone the area around us. It was basically like a small flashlight. I’ve seen many orillions and never really looked at them as I am now.
Like vines curling around a trellis, I felt the orillion reaching out. It was a strange sensation that filled me. It was like something cold and metallic filled my senses. I felt the reaching out part like I did with Sean earlier, but it was totally different. With him it had a human feel, with the orillion it was like I was connecting with a computer.
I felt it reaching deeper into me, and before it got too far, I gave a command. Suddenly, the orillion began to shift in a rainbow of colors. Green to blue to yellow, and then orange as I watched it amazed.
“I do believe I would continue encouraging the elements like this rather than conjuring storms and such.” Sean and I both laughed—something I hadn’t done in a long time.
I felt giddy and wasn’t sure if was the aftereffects of using my siren abilities or being with Sean. He was easy to talk to and I enjoyed his company.
“So what kind of siren are you?” I asked as we walked in the rainbow colored light of the orillion.
“Grand, like Sophie and Hannah.”
“Mae’s a sight siren.” Sean glanced at me and then grimly nodded his head. “But that’s good, right?”
“Yes, and no.” He reached for my hand and gently held it in his like it was a delicate baby bird. “Good, because her daughter will be a sight siren like Mae, and Mae’s mother before her. Bad, because the Alliance doesn’t like sight sirens. Though they tolerate them, they will more than likely take the child if they suspect anything, and train them in the ways of the Alliance making them one of their own. They will tell them nothing of their siren heritage. She will always feel something’s missing, and will find herself always searching until it kills her.” His voice trailed off.
“But why doesn’t the Alliance like sight sirens?”
Sean cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “Because they are a strong siren. If they gain control over their power wielding it to its full potential, they could be unstoppable. The Alliance will not take the risk, but I will. It’s time sirens returned to Atlantis.”