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[DW3] AZ-01 Flight to Arvandor

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    [DW3] AZ-01 Flight to Arvandor

    When a young teen aged girl discovers that she is the granddaughter to Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, the secrets of her home town suddenly are released as the fantastic and the powerful match wits to protect the young lady from Hades, Greek god of the underworld. Later, to get Arcadia's and Roger's lessons started, Gavin escorts the gang to Elven Arvandor where Roger crafts his first spell book and Arcadia learns the basics of being a goddess.

    Coming up next on the premiere episode of Arcadia Zoe!
    Arcadia Zoe: Episode One

    [DW3] AZ-01 Flight to Arvandor
    BY Darrel Vanwinkle (Lord Pouchlaw)

    Chapter One.

    She watched the early December winter snow gently falling upon the ashen ruins of what was once her childhood home. Her family had all perished in the fire of the house, which was declared as a homicide and an arson case. The police had already captured and prosecuted the felons responsible for this heinous deed. Now she stood in the cold night air staring at the empty space before her.


    Was this the beginning, or a cruel and inhuman end? She was penniless. Her parents had not even included her in the will. And the bank funds had been used towards the cemetery space. She sighed as she allowed a single tear to fall from her face.

    From behind her, an elderly man's voice asked, "Shall we be going now, Ms. Arcadia?"

    Arcadia Zoe lifted her head, which swayed her sandy-blonde hair to one side. Arcadia stood at a height of five foot ten inches tall, and weighed around 150 pounds. Her brown eyes were not so special, at least she didn't think so, though often, she had many kind comments about her eyes. Arcadia wore used black high-heel shoes, knee-high white socks, a knee-length forest green dress, simple brown leather gloves, and a black wind-breaker jacket. She carried a purse over her right shoulder, but she owned no jewelry. Arcadia had just became fifteen years old.

    Arcadia turned slowly towards the elderly man with graying hair jutting out around the sides of his black top hat who stood near the open door of a shiny red Rolls-Royce. "Yes, Eugene. There is nothing more for me here."

    Eugene Remus was his full name. He, for some unknown reason, always insisted upon taking care of Arcadia from the first time he had ever met Arcadia. Eugene was a bit eccentric, to be sure. He lived in a very large manor house, which sat on a very large estate surrounded on three sides by a thick and dark forest, while the front was shielded by a tall wrought-iron fence, which during the non-winter months, were covered in a lush green creeping ivy. During the winter, the place appeared very eerie and spooky. It was obvious that the old man was lonely, and having Arcadia Zoe within his care meant everything in the whole world.

    Arcadia just couldn't figure out why.

    Eugene helped Arcadia into the back seat and closed the door securely. Then, he got in behind the steering wheel and began the slow drive back to stately Remus Manor. The gates were being held open by that handsome young man that Eugene called his nephew, though a name was never applied to him. Eugene drove the car up the driveway and into the three-car garage. Eugene then escorted Arcadia into the entry hall of the overly large manor house.

    All of these events had occurred three days before.

    Arcadia now found herself sitting at the dining room table, awaiting breakfast, while reading the Richfield Virginia Daily Raven, the local newspaper. "The Richards sold some more cattle. They always do that. The Hills reported a new foal to Roseblossom. That's nice. The Rogers postal route may run late, due to the previous day's snows. That's to be expected. Oh! Irene Dragon is donating some goods to... me! Oh! She doesn't have to do that..."

    Eugene's nephew entered the dining room pushing a large silver tray cart. He stopped to one side of Arcadia and began setting the food on the table before her. "Will you be having tea or milk for breakfast?"

    Arcadia looked to the young man and smiled as she studied him. Eugene Remus' nephew looked to be about seventeen or eighteen years old, stood at a height of six foot even, and appeared to weigh about 195 pounds. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, though his skin was a rich, Mediterranean tan. He currently wore a butler's suit and shoes, which Arcadia knew he didn't like wearing. She had many a time seen the nephew shirtless, while chopping wood in the back yard of the estate. "I'll have tea this morning, thank you. Excuse me for asking, but what is your name? Eugene has failed to tell me the many times I have asked him about you."

    The nephew smiled as he poured the tea. "Uncle Remus was right; you'd ask me eventually. I am Gavin Whitelaw, but I prefer Gavin. May I call you Arcadia instead of Ms. Zoe?"

    Arcadia grinned. "Did Eugene tell you to call me that?"

    Gavin never let his smile fade. "Yes, he did. He said you were a lady of the finest respect, and that I should earn the right to call you by name."

    Arcadia laughed. "The poorest girl in Richfield Virginia? A lady of the finest respect? That's a gas! Did Eugene hit his head on something? I'm no one important; I am just simple old Arcadia Zoe... unless he knows something he isn't telling me."

    Gavin chuckled, then hushed up. "Compose yourself, Ms. Zoe. He's coming."

    Arcadia did her best to calm herself.

    Eugene calmly entered the room and sat in a chair facing Arcadia. But when he saw her face, Eugene smiled. "I thought I heard laughter. Gavin introduced himself, didn't he?"

    Arcadia burst out laughing again. "Sorry, Eugene! I asked him what his name was and he told me that you told him to call me Ms. Zoe! That is so funny!"

    End of Chapter One.

    Chapter Two.

    Arcadia took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly, though still chuckling a little. "I appreciate your wanting to make sure I am treated well, but please... I think it is okay for Gavin to call me by name. He lives here after all. Right?"

    Eugene grinned. "Anything good in that newspaper?"

    Arcadia grinned back. "Yes, it says that a Mr. Eugene Remus needs to stop hiding secrets from a Ms. Arcadia Zoe or else!"

    Eugene and Gavin both laughed out loud.

    Eugene nodded to Gavin, who, in turn, began serving Eugene his breakfast. Eugene then exclaimed, "Arcadia, sweet Arcadia... I wanted to wait to tell you this."

    Arcadia arched a questioning eye at Eugene. "What is it? If I am this lady of the finest respect, then you need to be open and honest with me."

    Eugene sighed, then affixed a gentle gaze upon Arcadia. "You're adopted."

    Arcadia seemed to stop. Actually, to Arcadia, the whole world seemed to stop, shatter into a thousand pieces, then reassemble themselves, very slowly.

    Eugene had continued speaking regardless. "...and that's why your last name isn't Lockwood. Your new parents let you keep your old name."

    Arcadia coughed a little, then managed to speak, once more. "If I am adopted, then who am I? There aren't any Zoes in all of this county or the surrounding counties. Where did I come from?"

    Eugene glanced to Gavin, then back at Arcadia. "You are the goddess Artemis' granddaughter. Your mother's name was Diana, and your father's name was King Actaeon. They were hunters who lived on the Island of Zoe in the Aegean Sea. When your mother became pregnant with you, she hid this knowledge from her husband, who later, saw Artemis bathing, and was changed into a stag for his boldness. His own hunting dogs tore him to pieces. Diana stricken with grief over this event, sent you through time and space to the Richfield Orphanage, where Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood adopted you into their, then middle class, loving family."

    Arcadia hummed. "If this is all true, how did you come to know all this, Eugene? I am sure Diana and Artemis didn't tell you. If Artemis knew I was here, she'd have fetched me long ago."

    Gavin spoke up at this point. "My parents caught wind of the story and sent me here to keep an eye on you. Of course, the first person I encountered was Eugene."

    Eugene spoke up again. "...and it is a good thing I encountered you, too. The way you were then was a good way to be arrested for indecent exposure. If I hadn't told the authorities that you were my nephew, you'd be in jail or worse."

    Arcadia turned to Gavin now. "Just who are your parents, Gavin? And why would they care about who I was?"

    Gavin smiled again. "My father's name is Ren of the Northern Herd. My mother's name is Circe."

    Arcadia gasped! "The Circe! The sorceress who changes men into pigs? That Circe?"

    Gavin laughed. "Now that isn't fair, Arcadia. She hasn't changed a man into a pig since the years before Christ. Dogs and Goats, I've seen her do that. And the occasional donkey transformation, but certainly not a pig."

    Arcadia grinned. "So if they are your parents, then why are you human, instead of an animal or a half-animal?"

    Gavin grinned back. "Best of both worlds, Arcadia. Circe taught me the craft. I am a licensed and practicing sorcerer. Unlike the dumb-dumb mages, I don't need to get permission to use magic in someone else's region. And, one of the first powers Circe taught me was how to shape change myself and others, using almost no power at all. So even though I was born as a handsomely powerful centaur stallion, I can change into a human, as needed."

    Arcadia made a face. "You're going to have to show me. This is getting to be too hard to believe. Show me your centaur form?"

    Gavin frowned for the first time. "I'll need... to undress... first... That means... me... naked... and you're a girl..."

    Arcadia growled a little. "Strip! Now!"

    Gavin nodded his head, and turned so Arcadia couldn't see his genitals when he undressed. Then, he initiated the shape changing spell, and began his transformation back into his natural form. When he had completed the transformation, Gavin stood before Arcadia on all four black hooves. Gavin's human portion had not changed much, save that his ears had not only moved, but were now higher up on his head, and were the ears of a horse, sticking out of his blonde mane. He still appeared to be seventeen or eighteen years old, but he stood almost two feet taller, and his weight had obviously increased by up to six times his human's weight.

    End of Chapter Two.


      Chapter Three.

      The equine stallion portion of his body was covered in a dark golden-tan, with white "socks" and fetlocks over each hoof. His tail was braided, though just as blonde as his mane. His maleness seemed full and large beneath him, though he had the common sense to keep it in.

      Arcadia blinked her eyes and smiled. "Magnificent! You're really beautiful!"

      Gavin of the Northern Herd smiled, then initiated the shape changing magic once again, and transformed back into his human self. Gavin then grabbed his clothing and began to get dressed once again. "Satisfied?"

      Arcadia smiled. "Yes. Thank you. Now... why did your parents send you to me? I mean, what is in this for them?"

      Gavin smiled. "You are a demigoddess, Arcadia. You have the potential to become a great hero. My parents sent me here to not only be your friend, but the help train you towards that goal."

      Arcadia went silent.

      At least this sort of explained why she was always the more athletic female in school. The only other female that could keep up with her was that Richards brat, Michelle, whom Arcadia wasn't all that thrilled with. Karen Richards, Arcadia could tolerate; Michelle, Karen's supposed twin sister, was a tomboy. Michelle needs a boyfriend, Arcadia often told herself.

      Arcadia then smiled. "We need to finish breakfast. Cold food doesn't settle well in the stomach." She began eating as if things were normal.

      Eugene grinned and began eating his meal too.

      Gavin wheeled the cart back into the kitchen.

      Perhaps the worst part of all this was having to continue to attend high school. Richfield High School was a pretty good place to go to school. Most of the teachers were nice, and everyone knew how to handle the McVanns. The McVann family owned a huge chunk of Richfield, several of the businesses, as well as the only bank in town. They lived in a large mansion on the other side of Richfield, and were as rich as Arcadia had been poor. Arcadia knew that it couldn't be sitting well in the McVann's stomachs that Arcadia was now the legal ward to Eugene Remus, the only other person in Richfield who was rich enough to actually stand up to the McVanns. What the McVanns didn't own, Eugene did. And Eugene always sided with the people of Richfield.

      "Arcadia! Wait up!"

      Arcadia turned and saw Irene Dragon approaching her, smiling.

      Irene stopped before Arcadia and smiled. "I dropped off all my donations at Mr. Remus' estate before coming to school. I was sorry to hear about your parents. Wanna study together after school?" Irene was a pretty nice girl. Irene Dragon stood at five foot nine and a half inches tall, and weighed around 135 pounds. She was slender, yet well-spoken. Short black hair and slanted grey-blue eyes accented her oriental complexion. Irene wore a casual green dress and black high-heel shoes.

      Arcadia smiled back. "Thanks, Irene, and I'd love to study with you."

      Michelle Richards, a regular tomboy and part-time trouble-maker at the school, stood nearby at her locker. She sneered and mocked the prissy nicety-nice voice of Arcadia, "I'd love to study with you." Michelle then resumed her own voice. "Get real!" Michelle stood six foot tall and weighed about 189 pounds. She, like her twin sister Karen Richards, had long brunette hair and blue eyes. And while Michelle's skin was darkly tanned, Karen's skin was fair. Michelle wore a western-style button-up boy's shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, while Karen wore a white miniskirt, light blue blouse, and white and navy blue Nike sneakers.

      Karen whispered to Michelle, "Lighten up, Michelle. The poor girl lost her whole family."

      Michelle shot a look at Karen. "I can say whatever I want. I'm not the one who has a boy ogling her every day in Math class." Michelle winked at Karen!

      Karen blushed at that reference. "Michelle! One of these days you'll have some boy looking at you, but the way you dress, who'd bother?"

      Michelle started to raise her fist as she growled, when Mr. Lorenzo Stancliffe, the high school counselor, cleared his throat noticeably behind Michelle.

      "Causing another problem, Ms. Tomboy Richards?"

      Michelle lowered her fist and smiled before turning to face Lorenzo. "Not at all, sir. I was showing Karen something useful. Nothing bad at all." Michelle turned back to Karen and whispered, "I'll get you after school at home. Comprende?" Michelle walked off towards her first class.

      During lunch period, Arcadia and Irene sat at the same table, eating their lunches. While sitting there, the two were joined by Roger Rogers, the son of the local mail carriers. Roger stood around five foot seven inches tall, and had short brown hair and green eyes. His skin was fair and clean, and he wore a button-up shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.

      End of Chapter Three.


        Chapter Four.

        And Roger always seemed to have a book bag strapped over one shoulder. Roger was a little stocky, but was striving to keep his weight down to a reasonable amount.

        Irene smiled at Roger. "Good day, Roger. How are you?"

        Roger set his tray on the table and sat down. "That English test was brutal, but I am okay for the most part." He smiled at Arcadia. "By the way, Arcadia, my parents reminded me this morning to relay to you to drop by and fill out some change of address forms concerning your mail. You are living at the Remus Estate now, are you not?"

        Arcadia nodded her head. "In all the shuffling around, I haven't thought about the mail much. I'll see to it as soon as I can. Thank you for letting me know about this, Roger."

        Roger nodded his head. "My pleasure." Roger turned his head to Irene again. "Have you decided on the replacement reporters for the school newspaper?"

        Irene hummed and shook her head. "I've been under some pressure concerning that, Roger. The McVann children have been trying to get me to appoint them. I may choose one of them, but not both. But you know how Linda and Kevin can be. They think they can sway the mind of a Dragon."

        Arcadia mentally noted that Irene used the family name in a way that one might expect a real dragon to use the word 'dragon'. As if it wasn't just a name, but a fact!

        After lunch period ended, classes resumed without incident.

        Then, the final bell rang. Arcadia and Irene walked out across a grassy trail near the woods that was a shortcut between the school and the Richfield library. Not far behind them, Michelle and Karen walked the same trail. Michelle was glad to be out of school. She actually hated school. She hated encountering the McVann kids even more. As Michelle was pondering this, she happened to notice a glimmer of light from something shiny in the trees just up the trail. As Michelle focused on this new distraction, she noticed that it was the tip of a sharp metal arrow shaft, and it was being aimed at... Arcadia. Michelle fished out a revolver from her backpack, aimed, then fired at the arrow!


        Irene and Arcadia both hit the ground as soon as the shot was heard, as the would-be archer in the trees fled the scene. The metal arrow hit the ground between the four girls. When Irene saw that the shaft had been shot, she knew what had happened. But she also knew more. This arrow's tip was wet with a foul smelling ichor.


        Irene murmured softly, "You have some powerful enemies, Arcadia." Irene then helped Arcadia up from the ground. Michelle and Karen were quickly joining them, as were Roger and Lorenzo. Lorenzo started to scold Michelle for having a gun on school property, but Irene quickly stopped him. "Michelle just saved Arcadia's life. If she hadn't had that gun, Arcadia would've been dead. There is a deadly poison on that arrow's tip. Michelle is a hero. Do not scold her."

        Lorenzo and Michelle both blinked their eyes. Irene was supporting Michelle for a change.

        Lorenzo knelt to examine the arrow. "Yes, it is wet with poison." He stood again and used his cellphone to call the police.

        Roger smiled. "Wow, Michelle. You've gone from school bully to hero, all in one day."

        Michelle blushed a little. "I may verbally cut Arcadia down in school, but when I saw what was about to happen, I had to act. Is it really poison?"

        Irene nodded her head. "Yes, Michelle. A very deadly poison. It was obviously meant to end Arcadia's life. Whoever the real mastermind is behind those who killed Arcadia's family must be wanting Arcadia dead. I just cannot figure out why. Arcadia has nothing now, save for the friends in us. Killing Arcadia now is senseless."

        Karen hummed. "It might seem senseless to us, but it might be important to the mastermind. Arcadia must be special in some way unknown to us. Otherwise, such a blatant event would not have occurred. Care to shed some light on this, Arcadia?"

        It was Arcadia's turn to blush. She wasn't sure how she was going to tell them that she was the granddaughter of a goddess. She quietly ushered the teenagers away from Lorenzo, then whispered, "This is supposed to be secret. And even if publicly revealed, a lot of people would call it a hoax. But the supposed truth is this: I am supposed to be the granddaughter of Artemis, the Greek goddess. I am not sure if I believe it or not. But evidently, some people do believe it."

        That information was not what the gathered teenagers were expecting to hear. Their expressions were pretty incredulous.

        Arcadia continued. "Mr. Remus is in on this, as is the son of Circe the Sorceress. At the moment, I am as human as you guys are. But evidently, I have the potential to gain my proper birthright as a Greek goddess. This is what I've been recently told. And now you know why I myself say that I am not sure if I believe it. But someone surely thinks that I am a threat to them. Otherwise, they would not have used poison."

        Michelle was in shock, it seemed like. "Wow. I saved the life of a goddess." She then smiled at Arcadia. "Don't you worry none. If they try it again, I'll be glad to side with you against them... once I am through getting lectured by dad. Boy, will he ever be mad when he finds out that I have his revolver."

        End of Chapter Four.


          Chapter Five.

          Karen smiled also. "I'll make sure he doesn't ground you, Michelle. You did save a life."

          That evening, Irene, Michelle, Karen and Roger were all having dinner at Remus' mansion. Remus was a little upset when he heard the news, though relieved that Arcadia's friends had been there. Gavin simply stood beside Remus, remaining quiet.

          Remus finally asked, "Arcadia, how much about me and Gavin did you tell them?"

          Arcadia glanced to Remus. "I only told them about me, and that you both knew about my supposed heritage. Oh... I'm sorry... I see what you're getting at..."

          Gavin nodded his head. "It's okay, Arcadia. As long as they keep our secret, I don't mind them knowing. Though I guess that means that I can shift forms." Gavin stepped behind a changing screen and switched forms, from human to centaur. Then, Gavin returned to Remus' side.

          The teenagers were mainly surprised by Gavin's change in appearance. Roger seemed to accept it pretty fast. He got up and came over, holding his hand out, saying, "Hi. I'm Roger Rogers."

          Gavin shook his hand. "You may call me Gavin, though I am really Gavin of the Northern Herd. The son of Circe."

          Roger smiled. "Nice to meet you, Gavin." Roger returned to his seat, still smiling. "I got to shake a centaur's hand." He grinned.

          Remus nodded his head and smiled. "You all know now why I took Arcadia in. I knew her secret, thanks to Gavin. And now that we know that there is an assassin stalking Arcadia, we must be extra cautious. Michelle's quick thinking and fast actions may not always be available."

          Irene, though, had been eyeing Remus most pointedly. When Remus caught Irene's gaze, something unspoken and unseen seemed to occur between them. Irene was in a morphic emerald dragoness spirit form and Remus was in the spirit form of a very large Norwegian wolf. The others saw and heard nothing.

          Irene mentally asked, (I knew it! You are more than you appear. Who are you really?)

          Remus mentally replied, (I am Lord Remus, whose brother is Lord Romulus. We serve Odin and have our own reasons for caring about Arcadia's welfare. You are Irene Dragon, from a family of real dragons. Though your secret and my secret may remain unspoken.)

          The mental moment was suddenly broken when Michelle accidentally knocked her salad fork off the table, clanging upon the hardwood floor. Michelle noticed that everyone was looking at her. "Um, sorry." Michelle picked up the fork and placed it on the table.

          Gavin hummed and began chanting a detection spell. Then, Gavin stated, "Someone is on the estate grounds."

          Remus got up slowly and said, "Whatever you hear, do not leave the mansion until I return." Remus then departed the room.

          Karen asked Gavin, "How did you know to check to see if someone was on the grounds?"

          Gavin replied, "Those who practice sorcery, like myself, are trained to recognize omen signs. When Michelle accidentally knocked the fork off the table, that was a sign for me to magically check for uninvited visitors."

          Michelle said, "Oh. You mean that those old superstitions actually mean something to a sorcerer?"

          Gavin nodded his head. "Indeed. Though in time, Arcadia will be able to sense people around her without a spell. Though that reminds me... Arcadia? I think it is time to teach you your first goddess ability. Admitted, it will be weak, at first, but it's better than nothing."

          Arcadia stood up. "Okay. What am I to learn first?"

          Gavin approached Arcadia and held her head in both of his hands. "I am going to do one thing, and teach you two abilities. One ability will be easy, and the other, more difficult, but you will perfect the abilities, given time. The first thing I need to do is unlock your potential. because you grew up as a human, that potential has been locked away, and must be released so you can better learn what I will teach you. Then, I will teach you the Focus ability and the True Sight ability. Focus allows you to regain expended power and energy at a much faster rate. True Sight is simply that, though is not on all the time, unless you're a greater goddess."

          Arcadia giggled, then Gavin concentrated and chanted the spell to unlock Arcadia's potential abilities. Arcadia could suddenly feel an internal rush of power.

          Gavin then taught Arcadia the Focus ability. It proved to be the easiest thing to learn, even over most school subjects. Next, Gavin began teaching Arcadia the True Sight ability. And it was as difficult as Gavin had said. It would take much practice to perfect this ability.

          While Arcadia and the other girls were concentrating on helping Arcadia to practice with her powers, Roger approached Gavin and whispered, "Do you think you could teach me some magic?"

          End of Chapter Five.


            Chapter Six.

            Gavin smiled to Roger and whispered back, "Anything is possible, Roger. Do you want to learn from me?" Gavin had the sort of expression on his face akin to a hunting fox.

            Roger didn't seem to notice the expression as he whispered his reply, "Yes. What do I have to do? I really want to learn some magic."

            Gavin thought on the subject then handed Roger a seemingly blank book with a black cover. Gavin whispered, "Take this home with you and study it in every way possible. It may appear blank, but I assure you that there is something written on the pages. If you can recite the first page's words to me, I'll take you on as my apprentice. Deal?"

            Roger brightened and grinned, nodding his head. To Gavin's surprise, Roger took the book over to a candle and held the page up to the candlelight, and after a moment, recited off the words on the page. He grinned at Gavin and returned to him. "What do I learn first, Master Gavin?"

            Remus had still not returned, though there were horrific sounds being heard all over the estate. Gavin hummed, as he listened to the sounds. "Everyone. I think that this estate may not be the safest place to be, at the moment. I will teleport us all to Irene's estate."

            Irene irked. "I don't think that is a wise idea, Gavin. Better teleport us to the Richard's ranch. Trust me on this."

            Michelle and Karen had often wondered why Irene never wanted anyone to come out to her parent's property, but now wasn't the time to ask about it.

            Gavin nodded his head, and gathered everyone together, with Arcadia in the middle of their group. Gavin had just initiated the teleport magic, when they saw some sort of black clad marksman crash through the window into the room. And they were gone!

            Michelle blinked her eyes as their group arrived in the center of family room of the Richard's ranch house. Mr. and Mrs. Richards and several of the rest of the family were in the room, too. They had just turned off the television, as Mr. Richards was putting the television remote down on a side table. "Hiya dad. We can explain this, I hope..."

            Mr. Richards slowly stood up. "I can't wait to hear this one. Whenever my daughters and their friends just suddenly teleport into our family room, the explanation has to be a good one."

            The small group slowly took turns explaining what was going on.

            Michelle's cousin Augusta brought refreshments to everyone during the explanation, and just seem to give a knowing grin in regards to the events there of. Knowing grins were something that Karen had learned to take note of. Augusta must have known something.

            Gavin finally said, "I am sorry we surprised you, Mr. Richards. We had run out of time and I had already started the teleport spell."

            Mr. Richards smiled. "Saving lives is a worthwhile feat, Gavin. You may all spend the night here. No assassin in their right mind would attack the Richard's ranch while I was home."

            Gavin smiled. "We do appreciate this, Mr. Richards. I have to keep Arcadia alive and safe. She is my responsibility."

            Gavin and Roger ended up in a room together, while Arcadia and Irene were bunked together in Augusta's old room. Augusta, herself, opted to stand watch outside. She had done this sort of thing before. The Richards had many enemies, but not of the sort one might think.

            Roger tapped Gavin's shoulder. "Um, we were sort of interrupted. You never told me what I am to learn first. I am really eager to learn some magic. Please tell me what I am to learn. Please?"

            Gavin rolled his eyes and said, "I hate to do this to you, Roger, but I need my sleep." Gavin chanted a spell and Roger found himself instantly inside Gavin's crystal neckband.

            The next morning arrived. The rooster crowed loudly, and the Richards home began to come alive. Arcadia and Irene soon joined Michelle and Karen downstairs in the kitchen.

            Irene asked, "Where are Gavin and Roger this morning?"

            Michelle grinned. "Probably sleeping in. You know how boys are."

            Arcadia had to laugh at that one.

            Karen said, "I'll go up and peek in on them." Karen headed off to check on Gavin and Roger.

            Arcadia looked to Michelle and asked, "What did your dad mean last night when he said that no one in their right mind would attack the ranch while he was here?"

            Michelle hummed. "I was hoping that his slip would have been forgotten, but you shared your secret with us... so... all of the Richards family are mutants. Dad is a retired super soldier. The females in the family have weather related powers, while the males..." She blushed at this point since it appeared that she didn't know quite what to say about the boy's powers. "...their powers are... well... different... That's the best way I can explain it..."

            End of Chapter Six.


              Chapter Seven.

              Irene hummed, as well. "I guess I better come clean too... all of my family are very powerful oriental dragons. On our estate, everyone usually spends time in their dragon identities... and that's why I didn't want a bunch of strangers just teleporting in unannounced, seeing a bunch of uber powerful celestial dragons. Yes, I am a dragon too, except... I happen to like being in human form."

              Arcadia said, "Huh. So... in truth, the whole town has some sort of powered secret. Is that what you're telling me?"

              Mr. Richards cleared his throat from the doorway. "I would've been upset that you revealed the family secret, Michelle, but even I didn't know about the Dragon's family secret. We'll let it slide. There are chores to be done. You know the drill, Michelle."

              Michelle nodded her head and headed outside.

              Upstairs, Gavin was just beginning to stir when Karen looked in on him. Gavin muttered, "Give us a few minutes, Karen." Karen irked, closing the door, heading back downstairs.

              Gavin slowly came to his senses, and magically summoned Roger out of the crystal neckband. "I am sorry I did that to you, Roger."

              Roger didn't respond right away. His eyes seemed transfixed on the crystal neckband. "I... I should have realized that you were tired, Master Gavin. It... it is my fault."

              Gavin smiled and hugged Roger. "I will teach you magic, but you must be patient. I believe that the others are preparing breakfast. Shall we go check on them?"

              Gavin and Roger soon joined the others in the dining room of the ranch house. Gavin was allowing Roger to ride on his back. Arcadia giggled when she saw Roger riding Gavin, as Irene was using the telephone to inform her parents of the events that had prevented her from coming home the previous night. Gavin stuck his tongue out at Arcadia, then winked and smiled.

              When Michelle returned from doing her chores, everyone had breakfast together.

              Irene spoke up at this point. "My parents have offered to go check up on Mr. Remus for us, in case the assassin is still on the estate."

              Arcadia sighed in relief. "Thank you, Irene. I am pretty worried about Eugene. Who knew he could change his shape into... whatever he became... to pursue the assassin?"

              Mr. Richards exclaimed, "Arcadia... perhaps it is time you and Roger knew the truth about Richfield. You see, Richfield Virginia is a small nexus community where retired superheroes, super villains, dragons, wizards, mutants, and other beings of power, have come to settle down without the rest of the world knowing just who lives here. That is one of the reasons that our community doesn't appear on the legal maps. We have a friend in Washington D.C. helping to keep the lid on what truly goes on here. Though, on occasion, non-powered people rarely discover this peaceful community and move here to settle down and live in a crime-free environment."

              Roger then said, "When you say, non-powered, you're meaning my parents and me."

              Mr. Richards nodded his head. "I am afraid so, Roger. I'm sorry if you feel like a peon now, knowing just how powerful all of your neighbors really are. That is also a reason I feel that you, subconsciously, wanted to learn magic so badly when you saw Gavin using magic. Some part of you wanted to fit into the rest of the community."

              Gavin hummed. "If this is true, then Roger needed the exposure to all of secrets of the nexus. And when I used my magic, and he found out that I was not human, he craved more." Gavin looked toward Roger. "He will make a fine apprentice, I am sure. I have already accepted him."

              Michelle smiled. "Roger the Sorcerer... that has a strange sound to it. I only hope Roger doesn't end up abusing the power. I still remember the power-lecture Karen and I got from dad when we both hit puberty."

              Karen looked at the ceiling. "Oh boy, do I ever remember that night! That was a lecture!"

              Irene grinned. "I am sure your lecture wasn't as bad as mine. Dragons often tail-slap you to make sure you understand and can recite every detail you've been lectured with."

              Mrs. Richards laughed. "You were given a pop quiz, were you?"

              Everyone laughed, then finished breakfast. The discussion was then moved to the rec room of the ranch house, which proved to be a crude danger chamber for super-powered people.

              Mr. Richards exclaimed, "You all should be safe here. I'll call the school, as well as Roger's parents, and explain what is going on. The school will excuse you all, due to the circumstances. Roger's parents, I hope, will appreciate that we're keeping him safe." Roger said, "As long as they know that I am safe, they'll understand. Just don't lie to them. They hate liars." Mr. Richards then left the chamber.

              Gavin turned to Arcadia. "I assume you have been practicing Focus and True Sight, haven't you?"

              Arcadia sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry. I wasn't sure how to use them." Arcadia then blinked her eyes at an image out the corner of her eye, but when she turned her head to look directly at the image, she only saw Irene standing there. Arcadia then turned back to Gavin.

              End of Chapter Seven.


                Chapter Eight.

                Gavin smiled. "What did you see, Arcadia?"

                Irene quickly realized what Arcadia had seen and spoke up. "I think Arcadia saw my true form out the corner of her eye and turned her head to focus on it. But when she did, her moment of concentration had been broken and she lost the image, seeing only my outward appearance."

                Arcadia turned to Irene again. "Yes... I saw an emerald colored anthropomorphic dragon."

                Irene grinned. "Be glad everyone can't see that."

                Gavin smiled. "So, your powers are gradually coming into being. I think it's time you were taught another ability. An easy one. But remember, Arcadia... you really DO need to practice with your abilities. It could save the lives of your friends, as well as yourself."

                Arcadia nodded her head. "I promise that I'll practice. What is the next ability?"

                Roger was still seated on Gavin's back. Roger was silently thinking, (I have to be patient. I really wish that I could learn something to practice. I have to be patient...)

                Gavin smiled to Arcadia, seemingly oblivious to Roger's thoughts. "The next two abilities to learn are Aura and Tongues. Aura allows a god to see whether the person, animal or thing he is focusing on is good, evil, or completely neutral. Aura will also allow you to discern mood swings in people and animals, much like the colors of a mood ring. People with an aura of goodness have what will appear to be a cascading ivory and softly glowing light blue effect all around their bodies. Evil people have an aura of bubbling purple and life-sucking black smoke all around their bodies. Neutral beings have an aura of reflective chrome, with a softly glowing silver radiance all over their bodies. I am sure you know the mood colors."

                Arcadia smiled and nodded her head. "That sounds simple enough. I use my Focus ability to focus on someone, and when I see the colors, I'll know their aura."

                Michelle then asked, "And what about the Tongues ability? I am sure Arcadia is perfectly happy having just one tongue in her mouth."

                Gavin laughed.

                Michelle growled a little. "What's so funny?"

                Gavin grinned. "Tongues allows a god to understand, read and write every language. As soon as Arcadia hears a new language, she'll have a five percent chance, per minute of hearing the language, to learn it. If Arcadia 'focuses' on learning the language, her chances increase to ten percent per minute. The moment Arcadia learns the language, she'll retain it forever."

                Arcadia exclaimed, "I have a feeling my head is going to be cluttered with languages."

                Gavin laughed again. "For ease of use and understanding, I will tell you that all animals speak a universal language that only animals, and gods, can understand and speak. It is called Aninet, or Animal Network. I think that is the first language you should focus on learning. Animals can be enormous allies to you, Arcadia. They know a lot more than humans think."

                Irene giggled, then hummed as she noticed Roger's boredom. "Gavin... I think you and Roger need to go bond or something. We 'ladies' need to powder our noses." Irene led her friends off into the bathroom marked with the 'female' symbol on the door.

                Gavin blinked his eyes at Irene's comment, then he turned his head toward Roger. It was true; Roger looked pretty bored. He felt 'left out' of the events. Gavin petted Roger's cheek. "I'm sorry, Roger. I didn't mean to ignore you. Irene is right. I need to get your training started. I was so focused on helping Arcadia... she is just so vulnerable right now... she can't even summon godly attacks or raise divine defenses yet."

                Roger sighed. "When will she be able to do any of that?"

                Gavin kept petting Roger. "Well, she can't learn it from me. I'm not a god."

                Roger replied, "You mean that you can only help her with the minor basics, but she'll need an actual god to learn the majors and super effects?"

                Gavin nodded his head. "That's why I am so intent in getting Arcadia prepared so she'll know the difference between an evil god and a good one."

                Roger sighed again. "And what of me? I've been trying to be patient, but... it just feels like... well... you didn't really want to teach me anything..."

                Gavin lowered his head, his hand dropping to Roger's leg. "You're a pretty smart lad, Roger. Originally, I gave you the blank book to get rid of you. I hadn't expected you to figure out the book's secret so fast. However, I have to teach you now or I'll lose all of my powers." Roger blinked his eyes. "You'll lose your powers? How do you mean?" Gavin sighed. "When I accepted you as my apprentice, I pretty much made a spirit agreement. If I renege on this agreement, I'll be forced back into my true form and I'll lose all of my powers... permanently... so, you see... I have to teach you."

                Roger also sighed at that point. "I...I...I'm sorry... I...I didn't know... I just thought..."

                End of Chapter Eight.


                  Chapter Nine.

                  Gavin could see that Roger felt like crap now. "Please... it's not your fault, Roger. What's done is done... but I can't really teach you in Richfield... the environment isn't right for the things I'd be teaching you... that's another reason I told you to be patient... but I can see now that my telling you to be patient is hurting you. You were expecting to learn something right away, but instead, I've made it seem like you weren't as important as Arcadia Zoe."

                  Roger hugged Gavin and quietly sobbed.

                  Gavin hugged Roger back, then pulled out his spell book. "I think I better remedy the situation. But we can't leave the girls behind. Arcadia is my responsibility, as you are, now."

                  As if on cue, Irene and the others returned to the rec room. Irene noticed Roger's tears, then said, "Is everything okay, Gavin?"

                  Gavin replied, "We need to move our activities to another location. Only those who want to come along come stand close to me, otherwise, say your goodbyes and stand back. Arcadia... you are definitely coming with me."

                  Irene, Michelle and Karen all came to stand with Arcadia and Gavin.

                  Michelle grinned. "Leave us behind? Shame on you! Like we'd let you!"

                  Karen nodded her head. "If you didn't take us with you, Gavin, who'd entertain Arcadia while you and Roger did the teacher/student thing?"

                  Gavin smiled. "Point well made, Karen. Thank you for understanding." Gavin prepared the teleport spell, once again. The others, this time, could tell that the spell was taking longer to cast. The desired distance must have been great.

                  Irene quickly saw that Gavin was going to need help with this spell. Irene changed from her sweet human form into her emerald dragon form, and began lending a power flow to Gavin to use for the spell. Gavin was thankful for the help.

                  The surroundings of the Richard's rec room faded away, and was replaced by majestic white marble columns, pristine uncut forestlands and open meadows, and crystal clear gurgling streams and natural springs. The circular chamber they appeared in had tiled marble floors, with colorful silk-like curtains hanging from each column.

                  Gavin smiled, closing his spell book. "Welcome to Arvandor."

                  Michelle and Karen both, almost at the same time, asked, "What is Arvandor?"

                  Irene elected to stay in her dragon form, for now, as she giggled. "Arvandor is the divine plane of the Greek elven gods. Isn't that right, Gavin?"

                  Gavin grinned. "I am glad someone does their homework. Yes, this is that Arvandor. Currently, we're in my father's Summer home in the greater Silverleaf Forest. Ren and Circe often come here when they want to disappear for awhile. I've been here a few times to study my Sorcerer spells and to commune with nature. Come, I'll show you around the mansion. Worry not about intrusions. There is an aura field around the entire estate. No being of evil can pass through it. Corellon Larethian himself placed the field there upon Circe's request."

                  Roger smiled. "Gavin... my throat is parched. Where can I get something to drink?"

                  Gavin smiled back. "I'll take you to the central garden. You can drink all the water you want there. And yes, water is all we have here, for drink... aside from the elven wine, but I am not sure mortals can handle the taste, nor the side effects..."

                  Roger arched an eye, but he didn't ask. He wanted to find out later, privately. Right now, he was thirsty.

                  Gavin gave everyone the tour, showing his friends where they'd be sleeping, where the bathrooms and toilet was, the kitchen, and finally, the central garden itself. As they entered, they were surprised to see a cute little faun-boy playing his pipes for some woodland animals toward the back of the garden. Also in the garden, Gavin noted Rillifane Rallathil, the wood elven leaflord, and Lord Skerrit, the centaur forester, teaching a small class of young wood elves and centaur colts.

                  Gavin quietly said, "I almost forgot that Ren's Summer home is also used as a place for educational classes. You will often see good and neutral gods, and their students, here in the central gardens. Come, we will present ourselves, then give them the privacy that is due to them." Gavin led his mutant, dragon and human friends over to the two gods.

                  After the introductions, and some minor, though polite, comments, Gavin led his friends over to the center of the garden. "Okay Roger. Over there is the main spring. Go get yourself a drink. The rest of you may do as you like. As for me, I used a lot of power to transport us here, and must sleep to recover my power."

                  Roger hugged Gavin. "Want me to join you later, Master Gavin?" Gavin smiled, hugging Roger. "What I want you to do is to go talk to the faun boy over there. Tell him that you are my apprentice and ask him to help you make a spell book. Fauns are really good at creating artistic magic items. And ask him about blood-locking a spell book."

                  Roger nodded his head and headed off to get his drink of water, as Gavin departed the gardens for the comforts of his personal chambers. Irene smiled, and quietly moved back over to listen to the lesson that the gods were teaching. Michelle, Karen and Arcadia walked around the garden. Michelle and Karen were trying to help Arcadia learn to use her powers.

                  End of Chapter Nine.


                    Chapter Ten.

                    Gavin relaxed in his personal chambers, thinking about Roger. "What a nice youth, that Roger. He certainly interests me as more than just a student. I hope I didn't harm him when I had him inside my crystal neckband. Normal people aren't properly protected from the conditions of the inner crystal world's environment." He slowly sat up. "Irene certainly has some enormous potential as a dragon. I never thought I'd meet a real dragon. Richfield Virginia is much more than meets the eye." Gavin arose to his hooves and gazed out into the forests of Arvandor. "Michelle and Karen... two mutants with the powers of thunder and lightning. I'll bet they can be dangerous. Especially Karen. The quiet ones are usually the most dangerous." He glanced down at his own spell book. "Poor Roger... having to live and grow up around these powerhouses. It's no wonder he wanted to learn some magic. And he turned to me. Do I have the patience to teach him? Aside from my assignment of helping Arcadia achieve her potential, Roger and I must stay together. I accepted him as my apprentice."

                    Skerrit cleared his throat at the entrance to Gavin's personal chambers. "Gavin... I couldn't help but to overhear your random prattling. I know that your mother would be proud that you've taken an apprentice. As for Ren himself, you are a lot like your father."

                    Gavin smiled as he turned to face Skerrit. "Greetings, my lord. How can I serve you?"

                    Skerrit grinned. "Offers like that you may not enjoy in the long run, young sorcerer. But all joking aside..." Skerrit set a stern gaze on Gavin. "Do you like Roger as much as I think you do?"

                    Gavin half-turned his gaze away. "I'd be lying if I said no. He just interests me to no end. And I think his interest in me is equaled to my own. Why do I feel as if this is wrong?"

                    Skerrit slowly came over and patted Gavin's shoulder. "Why should you judge what is right or wrong? Your father Ren often consorted with both males and females. There is nothing wrong with having fun, Gavin. Just remember to reserve your heart for he or she you find true. And if you're torn over Arcadia, I can assure you, that you best release her from the heartstrings that you believe you hold for her. She will soon be busy enough learning to be a goddess."

                    Gavin nodded his head. "Very well. Your council has always been most wise, my lord."

                    Roger winced as he gave his own blood into the process of blood-locking his new spell book to himself. Arcadia, Michelle and Karen had been watching, and they too flinched when Roger had to inflict the cut upon himself to get the blood out. Then, the faun guided Roger through the worded process of the enchantment spell for tying the spell book to Roger, and only Roger. The faun-boy knew his magic and artifact knowledge, as he helped Roger complete the ceremony.

                    Then, the faun helped Roger clean the wound and dress it with a clean bandage. The faun said, "Gavin will be pleased that your blood is so pure and strong for magic. How do you feel?"

                    Roger felt faint, but strove to stay conscious. "Very weak. Like I need lots of water and rest. Is this why Gavin often has to rest after casting spells?"

                    The faun replied, "Sorcery borrows blood for it's source of power to make it's spells do what the sorcerer wants the magic to do. Because your blood is so pure and strong, your magic will be very powerful when used. And Gavin will appreciate that. One ounce of blood is required for each circle of magic of the spell to be cast. This blood is automatically borrowed from your body, magically, during the casting of your spell. After the spell is cast, you will feel a weakness from the loss of the blood being taken, but this will be regained through meals and rest, as your body makes new blood to replace the lost blood."

                    Roger nodded his head. "No wonder Gavin feels so weak after performing a huge spell!"

                    The faun nodded his head. "Yes, and the more targets you include in a spell's effect, the more additional ounces of blood the spell will require. Therefore, if you want to shoot an arc-orb at one target, and an arc-orb is an attack spell that never misses, you will expend one ounce of blood. But if you shoot the same attack spell at 15 targets, you will expend 15 ounces of blood, and you will immediately feel the wave of weakness hit you."

                    Roger sighed. "That would explain why Gavin tried to dissuade me from wanting to become his apprentice. He knew that the blood borrowing would cause weakness in the caster."

                    The faun hugged Roger. "I think it would be best if you learned some cantrip orisons before learning any first circle magics. Cantrip orisons are magical abilities and skills that require almost no blood borrowing, at all. And in most cases, a single cell of blood is expended. One example of a cantrip orison would be Gavin's apparent ability to transform himself between centaur and human, at will. That is a cantrip orison. To become human, he actually gains blood cells in the exchange because he is losing body mass. But to become a centaur, he loses blood cells because he is gaining mass. Do you understand? Any spell-like ability that effects yourself is a cantrip orison. If it effects others, it is a spell falling into a circle of power. Of course, you will record all of your cantrip orisons and circle spells of power in your new spell book. I have empowered your spell book to expend one drop of your blood per extra pages you'll need in your spell book. Therefore, if a new spell requires 3 pages, you will expend 3 drops of blood, as the new pages appear."

                    Roger hummed. "Wow! I never knew how detailed being a spell caster was."

                    Arcadia grinned as she focused on Karen intensely. "I am seeing a golden glow mixed with the color of an approaching storm. There is silver involved, proving neutrality, but the golden glow is telling me that you, for the most part, are good." Arcadia stopped concentrating, looking flushed. "How close was I?"

                    Karen grinned back. "Not bad, Arcadia. Though I am not always so sweet, as Michelle can surely tell you. We're not twins for nothing, you know..." Michelle laughed! "Amen to that!"

                    Irene also laughed, though softly. "Well, that's that, then. You have properly learned the Aura ability. And it just gets stronger the more times that you use it. Although... we can't remain in hiding here in Arvandor. We need to return to Richfield."

                    End of Chapter Ten.
                    End of Episode One.

                    Stay tuned for the next episode, The School Dance.