Israel Elysium leaned against the counter of the kitchen of Elysium Asylum. The morning was quiet – it was early, and most of the residents here hadn’t woken up yet. That was nice.
There was a sudden loud yowling noise, causing Israel to jump. A crash followed, and then silence. Israel looked around the kitchen in confusion, wondering if a drunken mage had trodden on Mar while she was in cat form and if it was worth investigating. After a few more moments of silence, he shrugged. Mar was able to take care of herself.
Israel frowned suddenly. Now that he thought of it, he hadn’t seen Mar in a few days. Sure, Elysium Asylum was huge, but Mar usually sought him out to yell something random at him, and then dash off before he had even processed what she had said.
Mirtil Lucifer trudged into the kitchen just then. Israel hadn’t known Mir for long. She was Mar’s friend and had been escorted to Elysium Asylum by the flaming haired shape shifter a month or so earlier. Today, her normal grumpy morning expression was replaced by a slightly disturbed look. Her eyes were wide, eyebrows drawn together, and her mouth was twisted into a sort of half-grimace.
“Morning,” she said distractedly to Israel. The short girl plopped down into a chair, staring off into the distance. Israel raised an eyebrow at her. Mir didn’t notice
“Did you hear that cat yowling?” Mir asked after a moment, the creeped-out expression fading from her face.
“Yeah. I think someone stepped on Mar.”
Mir looked at him with an odd smile, like she was concerned for his mental health. “Mar hasn’t been here for a few days. Anyway, the cat was right outside my window, scratching at the screen. It woke me up. I threw something at it. Are there any stray cats on the property? It didn’t look like one of the shape shifters.”
“Well, no, I don’t think there are any- wait. Mar isn’t here?”
Mir shook her head. “She went to go get Thalia. Said she needed her for something.”
“Thalia?” Israel asked.
“Our friend. She’s a mind reader. I think you’ll get along with her. She likes baby chicks, though. A lot. I don’t know how that will work out. And she always knows where people hid their cookies.” Mir smiled at the confused look on Israel’s face. “Oh, and I want pancakes.”
“Pancakes. Me. Want. Now.”
“Mirtil, I’m not making you pancakes.”
“Oh yes you are.”
“Language, Israel. There are children around.”
“The one hiding under your bed. His name is George.”
“What are you on about?”
“What? You don’t know George? For shame. I’m shunning you now.”
Israel regarded the girl with a mix of awe and annoyance. “I don’t really care.”
“I’ll stop shunning you if you make me pancakes.”
“It’s not happening, Shorty.” A butter knife flew by Israel’s face. He scowled. “Hey! What was that for?”
Mir started cackling madly. Her brown eyes turned a murderous red. “Don’t…call me….SHORT!”
“Good morning sunshine! The Earth says hello!” And with that, Kallista Pendragon bounded into the room and tackled Mir off her seat in a hug. “Who wants a morning noogie?”
“No!” Mir shrieked, struggling against Kallista’s death grip. “Don’t touch my head! You’ll make me shorter!”
“Aw, c’mon Mir!”
“NO! I will eat your hand!”
Kallista paid no attention to this warning, however. When she brought her hand close to Mir’s head, the smaller girl reacted on true animal instinct – she sank her teeth into Kallista’s hand, growling like a dog.
“Ouch!” Kallista pulled her injured hand away. She spotted Israel and grinned, proceeding to do the same thing to him. The only difference was that he didn’t bite her.
“Good morning Kallista,” he greeted calmly.
“HEY, I’M HOME!” A small blur flew into the room and tackled Mir, who had just stood up, back to the ground.
“A little warning next time would be greatly appreciated,” Mir muttered grumpily, but she hugged March Pathway back nonetheless.
Mar bounced up, grinning like a lunatic. She gave Kallista a hug, then came up to Israel and poked him in the face. “I forgot you had stubble.”
“You need to shave.”
Mar pulled a face at him. “Suit yourself,” she said, the suddenly spazzed. “Everyone! Guess who I brought with me!”
Kallista looked at her hopefully. “The ice cream man?”
“The muffin man?”
Kallista puzzled over this for a moment, then her face lit up. She snapped her fingers. “The muffin ice cream man?”
“N- hey, that’d be awesome.” Mar gave Kallista an approving nod. “But unfortunately, no. I brought Skyril! Guess who we found together?”
Mir spoke up. “Sanguine?”
“Nope. We found Thalia!”
And Skyril and Thalia walked into the room.
Israel was pretty sure the second girl was Thalia. He knew Skyril very well. Thalia was someone he had never met, but who else could the other person be?
“You need to rest,” Skyril was saying sternly.
“Did the soldiers of the American Revolution rest? The answer is no! They took no time off, and neither shall I! I need to find my brother and kick his ass all the way to Polaris!” Thalia exclaimed heroically, just before she tripped over one of the laces on her combat boots and fell on her face.
Mir walked over and poked Thalia with her foot. “Smooth, Thal.”
Thalia looked up at Mir. “I’ve never seen you from this perspective. It’s odd.”
“Someday, Circe, I will be taller than you.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“Um. Okay.” Kallista nodded, like this all made perfect sense. Israel just thought they were all insane.
“So what happened?” he asked, trying to ignore the fact that Mar, Thalia, and Mir were all making weird faces at each other. Israel looked back and forth between Skyril and Mar. “It shouldn’t have taken so long for you to get here.”
“Mar said something about ‘finding’ Thalia.” Kallista looked at her friend in concern.
“Thalia got kidnapped,” Mar said simply.
Mir groaned. “Again?”
Thalia dropped her face back onto the ground and proceeded to start dragging herself across the floor with her arms. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Her voice was muffled by the floor. “Skyril, you tell them.”
Skyril looked at her friend in amusement. “You’re lazy.”
“I will neither confirm nor deny that statement, Miss Oblivion.” Skyril rolled her eyes, but recounted the tale nonetheless.
“Whoa,” Mir said after the story was over. At some point, they at all migrated to the living room and were currently seated on comfy chairs.
Kallista turned and looked at Thalia. “I don’t like your brother.”
“Join the club,” Thalia said, waving her hand around. “Still…there was something in that graveyard. It was probably using the story of there being something in the graveyard to cover up its presence.”
Skyril looked at Thalia, startled. “You didn’t tell me this before.”
“I just remembered.”
“You do you know there was something there?” Israel asked skeptically.
Thalia turned and looked at him for a moment. “I could feel it,” she said simply.
“So you’re just going on a feeling?” That didn’t sound very promising.
“No,” Thalia said. She tapped the top of her head. “I could feel it with my mind. I am a mind reader.”
Israel leaned forward, lacing his fingers together. “Alright. So. What exactly did you feel?”
“I don’t know,” Thalia said. “It didn’t think. Not really. It wasn’t human and it had never been human. Its job was to find something really important and kill anyone who got in the way. I don’t know what it was looking for. I only felt it for a second.”
“Then what happened?” Mir asked.
“It disappeared. It went poof. It teleported away. It vanished. I don’t know. One moment it was there and the next it was gone. I think my brother put it there. He would do something like that. Kidnap me and put something creepy in a graveyard. I don’t like him. Did I mention I don’t like him? I don’t like him.”
“So what do we do?”
Thalia grinned. Israel immediately knew that grin meant she was about to drag them all into something very idiotic and dangerous. “We go monster hunting!”