He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. It was too horrifying a thought.
He looked at Faline, who looked away when he did. He looked to Rigo, but he seemed unsettled, so he zoned in on Ivin and demanded an explanation.
“What do you mean they’re coming after Walt’s kingdom?” He grabbed her arm and pulled her to face him.
“Wraithe, calm down.” Rigo reprimanded him.
“Just what I said.” She seemed frustrated. “Wraithe, don’t you get it? You’re the trigger!”
He released her and stepped back from the emotional punch her words packed. He was bombarded with every harsh emotion imaginable until it was physical pain. He wanted her to stop. He wanted all of this to stop.
“One.” She pushed the sleeve of her shirt up, raised her arm, and held up one finger. “Two men, closer than brothers.”
She stared at him for a long second before she held up a second finger.
“Two. Divided by that which they love. Ummm, hello.” She turned in a small circle extending her arms out to make the walls around them an example.
“Three. They build two kingdoms that war against one another. I know religious scholars assume that to be the brothers of the Christian bible who birthed the tear in the Levant. You and I know it’s not written so plainly in history, is it?”
He didn’t like her implications. He didn’t like the fear he felt as it slowly embedded its claws through the back of his neck.
“Don’t.” He couldn’t bear to hear the words.
“She’s right, Wraithe. You and Walt, I saw you, you were as close as you and I ever have been.” Rigo asserted his authority. As the only one having an actual sibling relationship with Wraithe, he had ground to stand on.
“I saw them too. God, I’ll never forget that night after the Academy Awards… you remember, the night he was trying to get you to marry me?” Ivin furrowed her brow and pointed a finger at his heart. “Our history notwithstanding, you loved each other like brothers.”
“Until I betrayed him!” He raged.
“And four…” Ivin continued, despite his outburst. “Betrayal darkens their union.”
Deep sadness laced her tone and she looked away as soon as she dropped the death blow on his heart.
“You didn’t betray him.” Rigo stepped in and placed his hand on his brother’s arm. “He didn’t betray him.”
He looked for support from either Ivin, or Faline who had fallen utterly silent in the tumult.
“Walt thought he had… it ended the relationship. For my point, Rigo, I think that counts.” She wasn’t gloating. She looked pained.
“Wraithe couldn’t sell him the falls!” Rigo’s defense didn’t lighten. He turned to face Wraithe directly. “Why can’t you see that? And as for the park, you followed a dream, literally. Some type of fairy creature or angel appeared to you. Did you conveniently forget that?”
Wraithe walked away from him and drew a deep breath.
“Yes. No.” He shook his head and turned to face the trio. “I haven’t forgotten. I remember her like it was five seconds ago. She had eyes like the Aegean Sea, hair silver blonde, and she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
He looked at his hand, remembering once again how it felt when she touched him.
“She told me to build a kingdom here at the falls. She said it was the only way to protect them in the coming age.” His heart ached at the memory, but he was soon dragged into another memory, one that brought as much pain as the first had brought comfort.
“He always called himself the king of Disneyland. It was his kingdom and it suited him so well, but I had no idea he wanted to build here. So I did. I built a kingdom as the angel commanded.” He slumped and dropped his gaze to the wood floorboards. “And I broke Walt’s heart in the process.”
Ivin walked over to him and took both his hands in hers.
“Did you ever consider that the angel that appeared to you also appeared to him?”
Her words snagged his consciousness, bringing him out of the memories of the angel and of Walt.
Bringing him fully back into the now.
“I can see you haven’t, but Wraithe, think of the legend. Think of Faline’s vision. This land, right where we stand, was the scene of one of the greatest battles in all of
creation. The Dragon Clans scorched this earth until there was nothing remaining but death and bones. This is the legend of your people. You know it better than I.” She nudged him.
He knew the legend. It lived in his soul as if he, himself, had been there. He simply couldn’t speak it.
“It is said that the falls themselves healed the land and called for protectors.” Rigo spoke up.
“Those of us here now, we are those that were called, given the sacred duty of
protecting those falls, and that’s why you built this park when the angel told you to.”
“Yes, and Faline’s vision speaks of what comes next. The two kingdoms…”
“Two kingdoms will save the seven.” Faline all of a sudden spoke.
“What?” Wraithe voiced the thoughts of all three as they turned to look at the dark-haired beauty who’d been standing in silence in the corner of the room.
“I… I don’t know… it just came to me.” Confusion shone on her face. “I’m sorry.”
“No. Don’t be.” Ivin reached out to her, and Faline came closer.
“What of the war between the kingdoms, though?” Rigo pondered aloud.
“I will not go to war against Walt’s kingdom. You don’t know, you didn’t see the look… you didn’t see the pain… no… you didn’t see the anguish in his eyes when I denied him the land… When he finally understood that not only was I building my own park, but that I wasn’t going to give in to him and sell him the land. It was a double betrayal he felt to his core. I remember standing side by side with him through the Burbank strike, and how betrayed he felt then, how gutted. It didn’t seem to even touch what I did to him. God, that look, it still burns me to this
day.” Wraithe drowned in his own pain.
Ivin dropped against his shoulder, tugging him close to her. “You couldn’t sell him this land, Wraithe. We all know that.” She looked up into his eyes. “He was a good man, a god among dreamers, but he wasn’t immortal. He wasn’t the one assigned to protect this land and its falls.”
She placed her hand over his heart. “Forgive yourself, Wraithe. This guilt is causing your suffering, and compromising your service to the people you are here to protect. It’s gone on long enough, and if no one else has the balls to say it, I will. You are not the man you once were. You’ve let guilt and the loss of your friend… dare I say, brother, eat at you for decades. It’s more than time to let it go. If we’re about to face the dark, here, on this land, we need you.” She practically begged him.
“She’s right, Wraithe.” Rigo spoke up. “We’ve all been doing what we could to protect you, to let you grieve, but if all this is true… if you’re the trigger, we all know what comes next. We can’t, under any circumstances, allow this to move on to the third prophecy. The sacred seven requires the humans and… don’t take this the wrong way, I love the humans, but they are a chaotic mess right now. If the seven suns prophecy is initiated, I have absolutely no faith the light would prevail.”
“That’s harsh.” Faline spoke up. “The third prophecy is about love, and true love will always win.”
“Says the fairy tale princess.” Rigo stung her with his words.
“That’s not fair. I may be nothing more than a fairy tale in this realm, but in my own… Luxe and I had to overcome great darkness to be together. Our love won out, even when I didn’t think it could. I’ve seen the dark up close and personal. I’ve fought it and I will again if I must, but don’t underestimate love, Rodrigo. It’s far more powerful than you realize.” Faline blasted him with her passion and fear mixed.
“This isn’t the time for any of this. All that matters now is Wraithe. We need you back. You have to fulfill this prophecy.” Ivin pleaded with him.
“Excuse me, sir. Great apologies, but… Oh!
” A young adult male came through the door. He wore a knit cap, had a scruff of facial hair and clutched a laptop to his chest. When he realized he wasn’t alone, he pulled off the cap and ran his hand through his shaggy hair before he smiled.
“This isn’t the best time, Oz. What is it?” Wraithe addressed him.
“Ah… well I… it’s easier to show you.” He sat his laptop down on the dark wood table in the center of the room, opened it and started pushing buttons.
Wraithe, Rigo, Faline, and Ivin all moved in closer to be able to view the screen.
“You asked me to survey all the surveillance.” He chuckled and looked up for approval, but was only met with stares.
He pressed his lips into a thin line and went back to keying in a sequence of numbers and letters on the laptop. “Well, I found this.”
An image of a woman appeared on the screen. She had long blonde hair, and was in some kind of sleeping trance, elevated above nothing.
“It’s Blu.” Wraithe spoke firmly.
“Ah… no, sir. Her gown is clearly pink and…”
“She would never wear pink!” Faline exclaimed. “She hated what it did to her complexion.”
“I don’t give a damn if the dress is blue, pink, or plaid. The woman, it’s Blu Stevens, betrothed to Prince Phillip of the third realm of the Great Marrow.”
“Is that a kitten?” Ivin pointed at something on the screen, causing the other four to look closer.
“No… uh, I do believe, that is a rose.” Oz gave words to what the rest were thinking.
“If you saw a kitten, Ivin, I’d bet that’s her protector, Hiboo. She’s shifting. She usually takes the form of an owl, but if she’s shifting, there’s something in the energy
that’s making it hard to hold her form.” Faline twisted her fingers in visible worry as she spoke.
“Well, there’s clearly an energy field around her.” Rigo pointed to some distortions in the picture.
“Ivin, can you tell through this screen if her soul is intact?” Wraithe hoped they could at least get one of their questions answered about the fate of the missing women.
“No. I’d need to be able to touch her, or at least step into her energy field, but Faline can.”
Faline took a step back and wrung her hands.
“I don’t feel it.” She rubbed her arms as if she’d just gotten a chill.
“Soul, no soul, kitten, rose, blue, pink, all great questions of the world, but are we forgetting the most important one?” Rigo stood there and stared at them all for a second before finishing his statement. “Where the hell is she?”
“Ah… sirs… madams…” Oz blushed. “It’s clear she’s inside the castle at the Magic Kingdom.” He pointed to several identifying markers: flags hanging on the walls, tables, chairs. But none was more clear than the slight view of the Fantasyland courtyard through the large leaded glass windows.
“Is that the one here?” Rigo asked.
Oz looked at him as if he’d sprouted a second head.
“There is only one Magic Kingdom. If you are confusing Disneyland in California with…”
“We don’t have time for the full history of the Disney legacy right now, Oz.” Wraithe placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder and he silenced immediately.
Rigo laughed outright and all the others stopped to stare at him.
“What?” He splayed his hand out towards the screen. “So you’re telling me they put Sleeping Beauty inside Cinderella’s castle? Even the dark can’t keep that shit straight, so don’t jump on me.” He began to laugh again.
Wraithe rolled his eyes.
“Have they figured out she’s there?” Wraithe asked the most obvious of questions, knowing there may have been an invisibility spell and Oz’ laptop was simply picking her up thanks to the enchanted technology he’d previously given the boy.
“Oh, no. They know.” Oz punched in a few other numbers and the camera angle switched.
“Oh.” Wraithe uttered just the one word upon seeing the picture of what looked to be thirty personnel from the combined forces of park security, Reedy Creek, and the Orange County sheriff’s department. There was a barricade in place, every Disney suit within probably a fifty mile radius was present and accounted for, and the cherry on top − at least two agents from the FBI.
“We’re going to need a containment crew.” Rigo stated the obvious.
All five of them stood in silence for a moment, taking in the scene before Faline asked, “How do we get her out of there?”
Wraithe thought about that for a moment. There were several options, they simply had to choose the one that had the highest success potential and lowest human casualty risk.
“Uh… sirs…” Oz broke in, his voice trembled.
“Oh what now?” Wraithe’s patience was being pushed to its limits.
“Remember when you gave me that spectral chip that reveals things not from our realm if they were present?”
He looked back to the screen, which showed yet another angle, one outside the castle where there were no less than twenty roahn-ami coming into view.
“Shit.” Ivin spoke without thinking, then put a hand over her own mouth.
“We’re going to need a really big containment crew.” Rigo’s tone grew dark.
Wraithe took it all in. The prophecies, the events of the past few days, the scene he was looking at now. There was no more running or denying the truth. This war was here, and it was now.
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