(It takes me a bit to get back to the boys.
Sure, I know it’s important to help them. It is very important to stop the End of Times. Hey, the lure of kinking the Threads of Fate pulls me like no other.
Understand, I’ve stopped the Final Battle a few times over the years, probably more times than I care to or even can remember. I have the confidence of precedence to keep me calm.
This tranquility has a good side. It helps me to see that there are others I have to watch, others’ lives who will be unaffected by this attempt to end the world (if/when I am successful). I have to keep their lives going. I have to maintain vigilance.
So bear with me when other pressing matters claim my attention.
Bear with me as I tell you that I forgot to peruse my records to remember my own history with the DeBlanc family. This is something I should have done the moment I reached my inner sanctum. But I didn’t. I’m showing off. For who, you ask? You, dear reader? Or posterity? Who the hell knows. I just get cocky sometimes.
The boys are at the last booby trap in the path to me. They have made it through the star map room, the combination panel and the sword room.
Logan steps into the small room first, his knife at the ready. He has already had a few moments that made his heart race unnaturally.
He expects more than just ivory pieces jutting out of two walls.
Nick follows, ducking his head beneath the stone.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
The room is small. The wall opposite the door is empty, clean, and smooth. The other two have two rows of ivory and jet pieces sticking out of them.
Logan turns to examine one set more closely. “Notice a theme?” he asks pointing to the engraving above the ivories.
“Everything else has been leading up to this. Heart and Soul, right?”
“Remember your piano lessons?” Nick asks lightly running his fingers over the top set on his side.
“Don’t think so,” Logan replies, looking harder at the engravings. “But maybe I don’t have to.” He presses hard on the stone that says Heart.
The stone slides back. They hear a faint click.
The empty wall moves to the side with a deep grumble. It stops at the half way point.
Nick reaches up and presses on the stone that says Soul. Another faint click precedes the rumble of the wall moving the rest of the way.
The hall that it reveals is nothing more than a hall with steps going up, no booby traps, no false floors or wrong ways to turn. The hall simply leads up to my reception room. I am waiting for them high upon a beautiful otherworldly throne, appearing much larger than I really am. Smoke and mirrors, literally. I feel like the Wizard in Oz.
I have a different face, something like Angelina Jolie with angled cheekbones and dark red lips. I always found this look rather imposing with a cold, regal bearing.
The boys step through a tiny door into the very large hall. Torches line the walls leading up to my very large throne. The floor is a fantastic mosaic of a phoenix rising from black ashes. The ceiling is so high above I didn’t even bother to hide the bare wooden beams of the warehouse. The massive illusions below are enough to keep the eye from wandering up there.
Each step shuffles the light mists around their ankles. Thicker mists surround the base of my throne, hiding the steps I need to get down. Mists cling to the wall behind me, lessening the need for more decoration.
Their scuffed up boots and second hand clothes look so out of place. Even Logan as tall as he is, used to towering over his world, feels the largeness of this room. They pause like all good questers.
This is usually the moment my magically enhanced voice booms through the room. This is the moment I usually enjoy the most with those who think the entire world is coming to an end because they have one little demon lurking beneath their beds.
For the DeBlanc’s, however, I go for the first revelation rather quickly once they see me sitting high upon my very large, very daunting throne.
The mists part at my feet, which are bare due to the fact that I had no time to finish throwing on some clothes before they made it here. So imagine sparkling purple toes peeking through the magical mists surrounding the great witch on her throne. Absurd, right? There’s more.
Sitting there, I did have a few moments to prepare. The skirt I’d borrowed is now longer in the back and trails behind as I take the steps down to my phoenix. But I’d forgotten to change its color. I’d lengthened the sleeves on my ruffled top and managed to change it to gray with silver stitching, but it is still the ruffled tunic from last night. When the braid hits the small of my back, I realize I’ve forgotten the hair.
Instead of the slow reveal I intended, as I walk, my image morphs from one to another seamlessly: witch, Karen, Chloe, Kathleen.
Instead of an imposing witch, I feel like a mismatch of the illusions that are me, like a quilt without a pattern. I have managed to let go of most of the illusions around my face, so now the image that’s in their picture greets them.
I end in the original skirt and the flowered tunic, bare feet and black hair with a white streak running from my left temple.
The boys do not move as they watch me walk through my very large hall. Their faces say everything.
I could have done so much more, but this will have to do.
I invade their personal space, close but not touching.
They do not move.
Most are scared by now, running into corners, begging my pardon and all that wonderful bullshit.
The boys are registering my faces, placing them, and probably trying to find a full sentence.
I snap my fingers more to bring them to focus, but the magic in the room responds to a snap as well.
The mirrors slide back into their slots in the walls revealing shelves upon shelves of books. The torches lose their flame. LED lights installed around the shelves flick on. The room becomes the smaller cave I prefer.
My mosaic remains, but I’ve arranged a few chairs in the middle to make it more comfortable for myself. It is still a large room, but much less imposing. And my throne? Well, it is an inset in the far wall, nothing more.
I grab their hands and pull them to another small door.
“Come on. It’s been a long day. Time for supper.”
They still cannot manage a word. I smile, because that’s what I want for a bit. I’ll settle them at the table and let them wrap their heads around who I am. Nobody gets this kind of disclosure less than twenty-four hours from meeting me.