Chapter 1: Chapter One
January 14, 8:15 EDT
Moving from her home was a huge transition, but Zatanna had come to enjoy the quiet of the cave on Saturday mornings. Donning her robe she prepared to travel to the kitchen, the smell of cranberry scones reaching her nose as she exited her room. M'gann had developed a habit of testing recipes on Saturdays. Sure enough there were four separate batches of the baked good cooling on the counter, each one from a different recipe. They wouldn't be wasted. Normally the non resident members of the team would visit by midday, and what those with normal stomachs couldn't eat were ingested by Wally.
"Mornin'," Conner said as Zatanna entered the room. He sat on the couch, a laptop on his lap. He had recently taken an interest in the articles posted on the Daily Planet's website, particularly the articles of a certain Clark Kent. A plate filled with crumbs lay on the side table next to him.
"Good Morning!" M'gann chimed in brightly, she used her powers to pull out another batch from the oven and set them on the cooling rack.
"Morning," Zatanna returned the greeting. "Those smell delicious!" Zatanna reached into a cupboard for a mug.
"Thanks!" M'gann lifted a scone from the last batch with her powers and levitated it to Connor's plate. "I think I fixed the baking powder problem."
Connor took a bite of the pastry, chewing slowly. "It is definitely lighter, but now it needs more cranberries."
"Oh no." Zatanna filled the mug with water and placed it in the microwave. "You remember when you made macadamia nut cookies Meg? The entire cookie may as well been made of nuts!"
"I like things chunky," Conner muttered, sullen. This, he thought, Is why I don't like helping in the kitchen.
Zatanna giggled. "Not every one has super-teeth Conner."
Once her water was warm she picked a tea bag, citrus this time around, and a couple of scones to take back to her room. Her room had one window, but it at least faced the ocean. She placed her desk under the little window, and would gaze out of it when homework became too tedious.
After a sip of tea and a bite of her scone, with the perfect amount of cranberry, she opened her laptop and began to type. She had two more pages of a history report to finish. The report was uncommonly arduous. She liked history, not the dolled up accounts in her textbooks of course, but lately it was harder to concentrate on her interests. Canary said that it was a symptom of depression, as if there were to be any other diagnosis after the loss of her father.
One typed page later, the Cave's computer system announced visitors.
"Recognized: Batman A02, Dr. Fate A11, Authorized guest."
Her excitement dimmed when she heard Dr. Fate's name, being in his presence still unnerved her.
"Zatanna. Report to the conference room." Batman's voice brodcasted over the intercom.
Zatanna groaned and spun in her desk chair. She contemplated stalling, but thought better of it. She took a quick shower and brushed her teeth, once dressed she made her way to the room used by Canary in her therapy sessions.
Batman and Dr. Fate stood in the room. Sitting in one of the arm chairs was a dark haired woman dressed up like a wannabe gypsy. The woman sat with her legs crossed at her ankles sipping tea. A half eaten scone was on a plate in front of her.
"Zatanna, please take a seat," Batman said, his voice softer than usual.
The unfamiliar tone of voice piqued Zatanna's interest. She sat in the chair opposite the woman and peaked at her under her lashes.
"Zatanna this is Madam Xanadu," Batman spoke carefully. "She knew your father."
She did?" Zatanna asked.
"Do not worry. My background has been thoroughly checked." Xanadu smiled. "I come with an offer."
"One that you would be wise to refuse," Dr. Fate spoke with a harsh edge to his voice.
Xanadu glared at the sorcerer.
"Let her speak Fate," Batman commanded.
"I owe your father much," Xanadu started, eyes softening. "I wish to begin repaying that debt by taking you as my apprentice."
"You should know child that when my previous host Nelson encountered this woman she was performing parlor tricks instead of actual magic. She has a deceitful nature that stretches back centuries," Fate accused.
"Like I would reveal myself to you parasite!" Xanadu spat.
"Enough!" Batman's voice was like steel. It made Zatanna stiffen; it had a similar result on the adults. Fate turned away from the discussion and Xanadu took another sip of her tea. As powerful as the magic users were they were behaving like children, and they knew it.
"Centuries?" Zatanna asked when she regained the capacity for speech.
"I knew your father as a young man," Xanadu answered.
"But you don't look-"
"Like I'm in my forties?" Xanadu gave a sly smile. "My original name is Nimue." She took another sip of tea.
Zatanna's eyes widened. Nimue, Merlin's lover and betrayer.
"I assure you the tales are greatly exaggerated," said Xanadu. "Your father has a strong desire to protect this realm. When he discovered the extent of his powers he immediately wanted to use them to protect the powerless. He was the best of us." She paused turning her cup in her hands. "He tried to convince me to join his endeavors but I wouldn't listen. A lot of us wouldn't listen. Ultimately is our selfishness that caused him to sacrifice his autonomy." Her body shook and tears welled up in her eyes. "We should have been there to help protect this realm but we hid."
"Oh she cries," Dr. Fate muttered.
Xanadu's eyes hardened. "The eldest of our ranks are said to be immortal, but we are simply desperate to stay alive. We wish to hold on to our humanity, but we become so distant and selfish in the process that we have long since lost it. None of us felt that the danger to this realm was worth risking ourselves."
"Save your lectures. I protected this realm with my power. I-"
"No! She did." Xanadu pointed to Zatanna. "She offered herself to you in order to stop the madness."
"She came to me willingly. They all do."
"You would have robbed her of her youth just so that you could have a body. You did not care about the stakes she was against. That she was boxed into a corner and what's worse none of it should have been necessary."
"How?" Batman asked. "At the time of the conflict there was no other way. No other magic strong enough."
"If it were any of us battling alone you would be right, but if the Sentinels were still in operation."
"That is unnecessary," said Fate. "I have all the power needed to –"
"You rely upon others more than you care to admit," Xanadu challenged. "You do not even have your own body."
"Who are the Sentinels?" Zatanna asked, breaking back into the conversation.
Xanadu shifted her attention back to the girl. "The Sentinels of Magic, like the Justice League they worked together to protect this realm from threats too large for the individual. It has long since been disbanded. Your father wanted to reestablish the Sentinels in his youth. I believe it was what inspired him to seek candidacy for the Justice League. In them he saw like minded individuals. People willing to use their abilities to protect others." Xanadu stood then knelt in front of Zatanna, her head bowed. "I wish to recreate the group. Do what should have been done. There are no words that can express my sorrow. My inaction is just as responsible for your loss as Klarion's meddling. All I can offer you is my knowledge and my sworn oath that I will do all in my power to prevent future atrocities."
"Stop it! Just..just stand please." Zatanna placed her hand on the older woman's shoulder. "There is no way you could have known."
"You do not understand. I have the power of precognition. I could have-"
"Don't allow sentimentality to cloud your judgment," Fate snapped. "You know it does not work like that. The dreams come when they will, and readings are never completely accurate."
"Do not claim to know the extent of my powers!"
"This is not the time!" Batman commanded.
"I want to learn!" Zatanna yelled over the bickering adults. They all stared at her for a moment, caught up in their petty squabbling they had forgotten that she was present.
Dr. Fate was the first to recover. "No! If you need to learn I will-"
Zatanna stood and faced Dr. Fate. "You have his body. For now, but you are not my father!"
"That is not entirely accurate," said Batman. "Your father's will can influence Fate's actions. Dr. Fate has displayed several of your father's traits. His over protectiveness of you is one, his willingness to work with the league is another."
Zatanna looked away uncomfortable with the suggestion.
Batman turned to Dr. Fate. "Zatanna is a member of our special ops team. Expanding her knowledge would provide several tactical advantages. It will also give her the skills to protect herself and others. That is why I am authorizing this venture."
"Yes!" Zatanna said in celebration.
"You would ignore my council on such matters?" Fate asked his voice low and dangerous.
"Yes," Batman replied simply.
Dr. Fate clenched his fists, his eyes glowing. Batman stood his ground, a barrier between Fate and the two ladies.
Something within Dr. Fate shifted, his eyes stopped glowing and his body relaxed. "Do what you wish." He stalked out of the room.
"It's no small wonder that Zatara trusts you." Xanadu returned to her seat. "A mortal willing to face such power."
Batman turned to face her. "These Sentinels. Who exactly do you have in mind?"
"I have lists of candidates, half of which have already turned me down," Xanadu said sourly.
"Would you consider collaborating with the League?" He asked the question as a formality but it was an order. Xanadu was an outsider; she would either cooperate with the League or walk.
"I would be honored." She gave the appropriate response; she did not expect to be trusted. The two adult's eyes met; the true intentions of their words within their respective gazes.
"So!" Zatanna interrupted cheerily. "When do we leave!"
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or organizations from the Young Justice cartoon, comics, or expanded DC universe.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
January 14, 12:00
The Justice League gathered around their meeting table, it had since been lengthened to accommodate the newer members. An extra chair was provided for Madam Xanadu, she sat at Batman's right.
"Everyone has access to the files?" Batman asked.
The members nodded.
"Good. Let's begin."
January 14, 12:35 EDT
Zatanna had never been a neat packer. Her room was currently in tatters, loose stacks of clothes and books were scattered across the floor. She turned to answer a knock at her door.
"Hey!" Robin opened the door slowly. "What are you holed up in…" He paused, his eyes growing wide. "You're packing."
"Yeah." Zatanna continued to organize a large suitcase, her body turned from him.
"But you just got here!"
"It's only been a few months Robin."
"Why?" She turned towards him. "Batman didn't tell you? I'm going to go train."
"Oh!" he said relived. "So this is just a training trip."
"Yeah." She giggled. "You didn't think I was going away forever did you?"
"No," he denied, straightening his glasses. "So who are you training with?"
"She calls herself Madam Xanadu. She said she knew my dad."
"You've never heard of her?" Robin raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound safe."
Zatanna shrugged. "Batman seems to think it's okay. He introduced me to her."
"It must be okay then...Here, I'll help you pack!"
Robin entered her room and pulled open a dresser drawer. Without looking he reached in and pulled out something lacy and red. "Uh…"
Zatanna smirked. "I think I got it Rob."
Robin blushed, he quickly replaced the undergarment and closed the drawer. "Yeah…uh. I'll just see you when you get done." He backed out of the room and closed the door.
"There you are," Wally said his mouth full of scone.
Robin grabbed Wally by the arm and dragged him away from Zatanna's door.
"Where's the fire dude?"
Robin peeked down the hallway, making sure that the coast was clear. "Zatanna's leaving for a training trip," he whispered.
"Now?" Wally whispered back. "Is it supposed to be a secret or something? Why are we whispering?"
"I want to plan a surprise farewell party for her," Robin answered in a hushed tone.
"It's a bit last minute though right?" Wally asked. "She'd definitely see us getting it ready."
"I'll take care of that." Robin crossed his arms. "Is every one here?"
"Yeah, they're in the kitchen."
"The next candidate is Blue Devil," said Batman.
Stewart peered at the screen. "We considered him for League membership right?"
"Yes. He wasn't an exact fit," Batman answered
"I like it," said Wonder Woman. "The group could use some muscle."
"Any objections?" Batman surveyed the room.
The group remained silent.
Batman turned to the seer. "Xanadu?"
"He wields Lucifer's Trident," Xanadu mused. "It could be quite useful."
"Then he makes the cut." Superman pressed a button displaying the next candidate on the screen. "Next on the list is Deadman."
Green Arrow snorted. "Deadman?"
Batman narrowed his eyes. "Brand is currently unfit."
"You know him?" Superman asked.
"I've met him briefly," explained Batman. "Perhaps another time. He has his own matters to attend to."
The Team gathered in the living room. They huddled together around the sofa, speaking in hushed tones.
"Are you sure she'll be surprised?" asked Artemis. "I mean you taking her out on a date and bringing her back to the cave later is a pretty obvious set up."
Robin leaned in closer. "We can have it on the observation deck. That way when we return she won't immediately see the party. It's not too cold out today so it should be alright."
"According to the forecast it will be a clear night." Kaldur rubbed his chin. "The stars should be visible."
"Oh!" M'gann grabbed a magazine from the coffee table, she flipped through the pages. After locating the desired page she held it up for everyone to see. "We could do this!"
"A Wintery Wonderland?" Conner read aloud.
"Isn't the table pretty?" M'gann asked, eyes gleaming. " Zatanna showed this to me last week."
"That's gorgeous!" Raquel exclaimed.
"Okay. We will go with that then," Robin decided.
"If we split into teams we can easily acquire everything we need," suggested Kaldur
M'gann used her powers to float in a pad of paper and a pen from the kitchen. "I'm making a list," she announced. "Artemis and Raquel can you two help me in the kitchen?"
"Sure," said Artemis.
"You cook?" Wally peered at the archer.
"I've been helping my mom cook since I was little," she replied and shrugged.
"I'm gonna have to duck out," said Raquel. "I can't cook at all."
"We won't be doing anything that hard," M'gann assured her.
"Just trust me… Take Kaldur!"
Everyone looked at Kaldur expectantly.
"I have yet to attempt surface cooking methods," Kaldur said hesitantly.
"But." Raquel placed her hand on Kaldur's shoulder. "I'd bet you'd be a lot better at following directions than I would be." She grinned widely.
"Okay then!" M'gann ripped off a page. "Here's the list of what we will need."
"John Constintine?" asked Jordan.
"He's just a punk," said Xanadu. "Burst into my shop last year wanting me to train him. I tried, but he was… difficult, impatient."
"It may be best to keep an eye on him," Batman suggested.
"He's eighteen now. He can take care of himself. Unless you wish to train him?" Xanadu challenged.
Batman pressed the button for the next candidate.
"Who put Mera on the list?" Aquaman asked, failing to keep the anger from his tone.
"I did," said Wonder Woman. "She is the head instructor of the Atlantean Conservatory of Magic."
"You should have asked me."
"I asked her."
"She's pregnant," Aquaman said through clenched teeth.
"But not incapacitated. She has great knowledge and power, and she won't be with child forever."
"As queen her place is in Atlantis."
Wonder Woman raised an eyebrow. "But the King can come and go as he pleases?"
"Enough!" said Batman, his tone harsh.
"Okay…" Superman said hesitantly. "Next is Bloodwynd."
"A necromancer?" asked Captain Atom.
"That might be a bit too dark," said Green Arrow.
Zatanna entered the living room, she had packed as much as she could stand, and needed a break. M'gann floated up to her and gave her a tight hug.
"I'm going to miss you!"
Zatanna hugged the taller girl back. "I won't be gone too long."
"But it will feel like a long time!" M'gann wailed.
"So what do you say we all hang out today!" Zatanna exclaimed.
The group looked at each other.
"Actually, I kinda wanted to take you out," said Robin.
"Yeah. Like date out."
"We'll be here when you get back,' M'gann assured her. "We can watch a few movies or something."
"Oh?" Zatanna eyed her teammates suspiciously. "In that case a date sounds wonderful."
"The Enchantress." Black Canary tucked a lock of hair under her ear. "That sounds promising."
"She is too unstable," Xanadu warned, "In the time that I have known her she has aided both light and dark forces."
Canary shrugged. "Well, so much for that."
"This is a recommendation from Rocket," stated Icon,
"Xombi?" asked Hawkman, peering at the screen.
"Yes. Although he prefers to be called by his given name. Rocket met David Kim sometime ago and assisted him in subduing a large beast. It called itself Maranatha."
"That thing was loose?" Xanadu asked alarmed.
"It is no longer at large thanks to their combined efforts. Mr. Kim was once a scientist. After an accident he gained the ability to regenerate his body at an astounding rate. He now spends most of his time protecting Dakota from supernatural threats."
Xanadu nodded. "That sounds quite promising. How can we contact him?"
"I believe he and Rocket are patrons of the same supermarket," Icon replied. "I will ask her to offer the invitation."
Robin made several last minute arrangements for the day. Being the adopted son of Mr. Wayne certainly helped. They ate lunch in the choice spot of one of Happy Harbor's local restaurants. Their table was near a large window that over looked the ocean. Next they zeta-ed over to San Diego to visit the Zoo. And then it was off to New York City.
"Trapeze lessons?" Zatanna asked.
"You were upset that you didn't get to go on the circus mission right?" Robin responded. " Don't worry I won't let you fall."
Robin escorted her into the large building. Patrons were already receiving lessons. They watched as the instructors preformed more complex maneuvers.
"Mr. Draper?" A young man approached the pair, holding a clipboard.
"That's me." Robin answered.
"You're right on time. Come this way please. We will get you two changed." the man moved deeper into the building.
Zatanna made a face. "Draper?"
"You won't tell anyone right?" Robin winked at her. He linked his arm with her and pulled her along to the changing rooms.
"This feels kind of weird." Zatanna pulled at the tights. The base of the suit was black with cream and golden chevrons across the chest.
"It looks great to me," Robin said reverently, his suit was bright blue.
Zatanna blushed. "Thanks. Can you do this with your glasses on?"
Robin stood straighter and puffed out his chest. "You are talking to a professional. Come on the session's about to start!"
"This Etrigan fellow sounds quite ghastly," said Martian Manhunter.
"He is," Batman answered dryly.
"Cross that one off the list then," Green Arrow muttered.
"Isis seems to be very powerful," commented Hawkwoman.
"Um...I've meet that Isis lady," said Captain Marvel. "She's pretty mean,"
"Pretty mean?' Flash asked. "I assume that 's your professional opinion?" He grinned.
Captain Marvel blushed. "Our power comes from a similar source. However Isis uses hers for personal gain, or to aid her husband. He's pretty mean too."
"While we are on the topic why isn't Captain Marvel on the list?" asked Jordan.
"The League is already more than enough responsibility for someone in his situation," Batman rumbled.
Further discussion on the topic was halted immediately.
Robin and Zatanna entered the Cave, it was completely deserted.
"Where is everyone?" Zatanna wondered deeper into the cave.
"Maybe they went out to grab something to eat?" Robin offered.
"Yeah," she sounded disappointed.
"What's wrong?" Robin placed his hand on her shoulder.
"I was expecting there to be a surprise party or something."
"Well it was last minute." He squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.
"I know." She perked up. "Well since we are alone." Zatanna grabbed Robin and kissed him fiercely, he returned her kiss.
Someone cleared their throat. The couple pulled away from each other, startled.
"I see you two have returned safely." Kaldur smiled a little.
"Hey Kal," Robin said, he straightened his glasses. "Where is everyone?"
"The team is currently on the observation deck enjoying the night air. Would you two care to join us?" The corners of Kaldur's mouth quirked upwards. "Or do you have other plans?"
"No we will join you." Robin took hold of Zatanna's hand and followed Kaldur to the deck.
"Surprise!" they all yelled.
A couple of tables had been pulled onto the observation deck. The main table was covered with a white table cloth. A line of ice blue candles were placed on the center of the table, surround by paper snowflakes in various shades of blue. White Christmas lights were strung amongst the paper cut outs. The place mats were the same ice blue as the candles. Large white plates rested on them and dark blue bowls were on top of the plates. Frosted goblets were filled with sparkling cider sat at the corner of the place mats. Blue and white paper lanterns hung from the ceiling, as well as more lines of Christmas lights, illuminating the space.
Zatanna gasped. She covered her mouth with her hands and tears welled up in her eyes. "Oh Megan!" she rushed over to hug the girl. "It looks just like the magazine. No! it's better than the magazine. How did you all mange this?"
"Just a little magic." Wally suddenly pulled an ace out of thin air.
"We cooked all of your favorite foods," said Artemis as she gestured to the second table.
Robin rushed forward to pull out the chair at the head of the table, "And here's the seat of honor!"
"Zatanna," said Xanadu abruptly.
The girl's picture was placed up on the screens.
"She's too young," said Aquaman.
"She is young," Xanadu admitted. " But I believe that it is important that she play a part in realizing her father's ambitions."
"She lacks experience," said Wonder Woman.
"How can she gain experience unless given an opportunity?" asked Xanadu.
"You sugar coat your words, "Fate accused. "You only wish to use her to gain sympathy."
Xanadu glared at Fate. "It is a test, I want to see what is reflected when they look into the girl's eyes." She looked to the league. "Experience is not always a virtue. It was experience that led the magical community to lay low once Klarion attacked. The other side is not holding to the old ways why should we?"
The League was silent.
"The group needs someone to question our view of the world," Xanadu continued. "She may be young but she had the courage and moral fiber to do what she must to save this realm. And after meeting her I can safely say that even without your blessing she would still rise up to do it again."
"That particular attitude seems to be quite common," said the Flash dryly.
Silence once again permeated the room.
"We will consider it Xanadu," said Batman carefully. "That is all I can promise."
I feel that this Robin is supposed to be a mixture of Dick and Tim. So I'm using one of Tim's aliases (Alvin Draper) from when he was with the Young Justice Team in the comics.
Also I don't know if there is such a thing as an observation deck in the cave...but there is one now! XD
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or organizations from the Young Justice cartoon, comics, or expanded DC universe.
January 16, 10:30 CDT
The pair Zeta-ed onto one of New Orleans back streets. Gathering Zatanna's belongings they moved on to the center of the city and hailed a cab. Madam Xanadu's shop was in a three story historic row house. Xanadu knocked sharply and her strong man opened the door. He took hold of Zatanna's luggage with ease.
"Follow me," Xanadu ordered heading towards the back stairs, past the colorful baubles and trinkets of her shop. They looked impressive but Zatanna could feel no power within them.
The second floor was a different matter. The various charms, rods, stones and other magical objects sung out to her with their power.
"Where did you get all of these," Zatanna asked eyes wide.
"I'm a collector of sorts. Do not touch!" Xanadu warned, halting Zatanna's outstretched hands. "Some of these objects are better left alone." Seeing the disappointment in the girls eyes she continued. "I will give you a proper tour later. Right now let's get you settled."
The room was small, cozy, with enough room for a twin bed, a dresser, a wardrobe and a vanity. It did however have two large windows that faced the city's busy streets and was as bright and colorful as the rest of the house.
"I hope that it isn't too small," said Xanadu apologetically. "I don't often have guests."
"No, it's perfect." Zatanna approached one of the windows and gazed downwards.
"Well then. Why don't you take an hour to unpack a bit and freshen up, then we will go get some food."
The restaurant was small but crowded. It was obvious why it attracted crowds once the food was placed before them. Zatanna had dreamed of visiting New Orleans because of the food, but her father had found the city too unsavory for a family visit. She tried a bit of everything. The seafood, soups and rice dishes were a bit spicier than Zatanna was used to, but still managed to retain its flavor. Zatanna later made the mistake of trying a little of Xanadu's plate, the spices scorched her tongue.
"How can you taste anything!" Zatanna asked after gulping down her second glass of milk. The dairy was supposed to deaden the spice but it didn't seem to be working.
Xanadu smiled at the younger woman. "I warned you."
Zatanna pouted and Xanadu laughed.
"Dessert?" the older woman offered.
"Sure, maybe the sweet would work better." Zatanna glanced at her now empty glass.
The waitress brought out an array of desserts. Zatanna later resolved to beg the chef for the beignet recipe, certain that Megan would adore it.
After A quick tour of downtown they returned to Xanadu's shop. Zatanna watched as Xanadu preformed another fake reading. Xanadu explained that magic, real magic, was not to be taken or used lightly. Most of Xanadu's clients entered her shop with petty requests about love, money, or power, but there was one, a middle aged woman who only wished to speak to her son. He was in the armed forces and had recently passed during a skirmish in Afghanistan. Xanadu summoned the young man's spirit and the woman left with contented tears. Zatanna teared up as well.
"Oh stop," Xanadu chided, embarrassed.
"I'm sorry." Zatanna dabbed her eyes. "It's just-"
"Hush child." Xanadu held Zatanna close and stoked her hair. "Come, that's enough work for today."
Zatanna giggled up at her, eyes still damp. "But you barely worked for three hours."
"Yes, and see how much money I made!" Xanadu grinned. "Now I promised you a tour of my gallery."
They barely scratched the surface of Xanadu's many treasures. Some of them Xanadu had found during her travels others were entrusted to her by other sorcerers, wizards, and witches, all of them were uniquely powerful.
They settled down in Xanadu's living room. The older woman had brewed a pot of tea and set out some cookies from one of the local bakeries.
"Why New Orleans?" Zatanna asked while putting sugar in her tea.
"Why not live somewhere grander you mean?" Xanadu took a sip of her own tea.
"Yeah." Zatanna took a bite of her cookie, and chewed thoughtfully. Her eyes brightened, they had a crisp lemon flavor. "Sure this place is very charming but after living so long wouldn't a town this small become boring?'
Xanadu didn't get the chance to answer. There was a sharp knock at her door.
Xanadu's eyes narrowed. "What does he want," she growled.
"Who?" Zatanna asked alarmed.
"No one." The older woman paused. "I need you to hide. Now!"
Zatanna stood and prepared herself to use a simple spell.
"No magic! Just hide the old fashioned way."
"Okay…" Zatanna moved to rush off deeper into the house, thought better of it and retuned t o grab a few cookies. Holding one in her mouth, she then moved towards the back of the house.
Xanadu moved purposefully to her first floor. The knock sounded again.
"What do you want Phantom?" she asked not bothering to hide the irritation in her voice.
"I only came for my customary reading Madam," the stranger spoke amicably. "But you closed your shop early."
Customary reading, Xanadu thought bitterly. The bastard only comes by when he feels like it and wastes my time. "It's my shop I can close it when I want."
"Oh, well then. I guess since business is not going to occur then I could say that I stopped by to visit an old friend."
"Go away Phantom."
"You did a lovely job on these wards. It would be a shame for you to have to redo them if I am forced to break them."
"Do not be concerned. I really did just come to talk."
Xanadu growled deep in her throat and opened her door, she glared at her visitor. "What do you want?" she asked again.
The Phantom Stranger was a slim man in a dark suit. A long cape was draped over his shoulders attached by two round medallions. He straitened his hat with a gloved hand. "Like I stated previously, I just came to talk." he pushed past her and into her home. Xanadu sighed and closed her front door.
"Your private quarters are upstairs correct?" He didn't wait for an answer, or invitation, before heading up the stairs. Xanadu followed behind him.
"You still haven't answered my question."
The Phantom ignored her. He made his way to the living room and took Zatanna's chair.
"Ah! I'm just in time for tea," he takes a sip from Zatanna's cup and Xanadu blanched. "Just the way I like it! You know your precognitive abilities have gotten stronger over the last century," he picks up a cookie and takes a large bite; he swiftly chases the cookie down with the rest of the tea. "They changed the recipe…." he held the cookie up inspecting it. "They were better when they were sweeter."
"Phantom," Xanadu said though clenched teeth. If she let him he would continue stalling.
"Oh..yes business." He puts the half eaten cookie down. "I have heard about your attempts to re-form the Sentinels. I have come to offer my assistance."
"Don't need it."
"Oh come now. Zatara was a great chap and a friend of mine as well. I'm just as sad as anyone to see him go."
"Then where were you?" Xanadu asked eyebrow raised. "With your power you could have snapped your fingers and removed the treat."
"That is very true, however some things are meant to be. Even I can not change the fates as I please," he lowered his voice. "Xanadu you know that if I could have interfered I-"
"Please don't…please don't be upset," he continued his eyes soft.
Xanadu plopped down in her chair and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I know. The Lords of Order have their plans. I just…"
"Now," he interrupted, he's mood suddenly brighter. "Where is the little one?"
"Little one?" Xanadu asked warily.
"Yes! You took on Zatara's child as your apprentice did you not? It is pretty late, has she already been sent to bed?"
Xanadu's shoulders slumped. There was no point in hiding her new charge any longer. "Zatanna please come here!" she yelled.
Zatanna tiptoed from deeper into the house.
"Well." the Phantom's eyes grew large. "I must have my when's mixed. She's older than I anticipated," he gave a lopsided smile. "Don't be shy. Come here."
Zatanna looked to Xanadu for direction.
"He is called the Phantom Stranger. Go on. He won't hurt you. He'll just pester you into oblivion."
Xanadu's tone of voice did little to alleviate Zatanna's suspicion but she stepped forward anyway.
"Amazing!" Phantom exclaimed. "Her power is completely untainted. Who was her mother again?"
"Sindella," Xanadu answered.
"Yes, Sindella! Lovely woman."
"You knew my mom?" Zatanna asked.
"No, but I've heard stories."
"See what I mean!" Xanadu exclaimed.
Zatanna stifled a giggle.
Xanadu returned her attention to the Phantom. "How exactly do you plan on helping me with the Sentinels?"
"I was able to get in contact with Nommo," he answered.
"Are they all doctors?" Zatanna interjected.
"Are who all doctors My Dear?" the Phantom turned to Zatanna.
"Well there's a Doctor Fate." The girl counted on her fingers. "Now there's a Doctor Mist. Is there magical Doctorate program or something?"
"Well there are magical colleges so I suppose that-"
"No," Xanadu interrupted. "It's just a way to sound more impressive Zatanna," Xanadu explained. "Phantom what does Mist want?"
"He has offered the use of his castle as a base of operations."
"In Kor?" Xanadu asked in disbelief.
"Yes. It is a grand opportunity. The library there is fantastic."
"What does he want?"
The Phantom Stanger's answer was met with silence.
"He honestly wants nothing in return," Xanadu asked hesitantly."You are certain that he is not lying?"
"Very much so. I can take you both to him tomorrow. You can discern his intentions for yourself Xanadu."
"I'm not sure that that is a good idea."
"Do not fear. I would never place the young one in danger. "
"There's a castle!" Zatanna's eyes were bright, "Please say we can go!"
Xanadu sighed, "Very well."
January 17, 7:15 CDT
It was dark in her dream. Those were the first signs that something was amiss. The darkness, most of Zatanna's dreams were full of light and color, and the fact that Zatanna was reasonably certain that this was a dream. Or at least she hoped it was. She could see only herself, but her form lacked color, and she glowed with an eerie light. Her feet were planted firmly on the ground but paranoia kept her from wondering further into the darkness. A soft whimper could be heard. It echoed in the air.
"Hello!" Zatanna called out.
The whimpering continued, to Zatanna's ears it sounded like someone was crying.
The noises halted.
Undeterred Zatanna called out again. "Do you need help? Where are you?"
"You should leave," a small voice, a child's voice, answered.
"Um…Okay. But you could leave with me?"
"No!" the voice yelled. "I can't leave. It won't be safe for the others if I leave. "
"What others? "
"It's nothing. Nothing!"
"You don't have to be scared. I can help you. That's what I do. It's what my friends do. We help people. We could help you, and the um …Others."
"I'm not scared," the voice did not sound sure. "The others said that this is what I must do to make sure that everyone is safe."
"This? You mean stay here? No, the others are wrong. Come with me. We can find a better way."
"No!" the voice echoed around Zatanna. "It's almost light now. You should go and don't come back. Never come back!"
Everything was enveloped in a bright white light blinding Zatanna. She jolted awake and jumped at the knock to her bedroom door.
"Yes!" she answered hastily.
"Morning!" called Xanadu. "I will have breakfast ready soon."
The dream had disoriented Zatanna; she scanned her new living quarters, remembering where she was. The morning sun streamed through the windows; despite the implied warmth she shivered, remembering the dream. She hoped that it was just a silly nightmare and not a bad omen.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
January 17, 10:00 CDT
The Phantom Stranger reached into his back pocket and pulled out a piece of blue chalk. He selected a section of brick wall and drew a door. He then replaced the piece of chalk in his hands with a crystal doorknob. He placed the doorknob on the rectangle and turned. The lines of chalk lit up, and the section of wall they outlined disappeared revealing a narrow stone stairwell. The Phantom descended the stairs, trusting that the two women would follow.
As they descended stones within the walls began to glow with an internal light, revealing that they were not made of rock but of some type of crystal. Zatanna reached out to touch one and deep tingling sensation did not leave her arm for several minutes after.
"Madam, why are you so sullen?" the Phantom asked. "You were quite chipper at breakfast."
"You know exactly why Stranger," Xanadu snapped at him.
"How does the mortal phrase go? Never look a gift horse in the mouth."
"Yes. It is a mortal phrase isn't it. Perhaps I shouldn't put my trust in the advice of those so short lived."
"You will at least smile once we see the king?"
"Of course. It wouldn't do to have him think I'm rude."
They reached the bottom of the stairwell to see a small pier. A boat with a rower waited for them. The rower removed his hood to reveal a dark skinned man with golden eyes wearing a broad rimed straw hat. He tugged on the hat as he addressed the group. "Your payment?"
"Ah yes. One moment." The Phantom reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small bag. He handed it to the ferryman.
Zatanna tugged at Xanadu's sleeve. Once she gained the older woman's attention she gave her a look filled with equal parts curiosity and fear.
"Don't worry," Xanadu whispered. "It's not that ferryman."
The ferryman emptied the contents of the bag into his hand, revealing a large blue gem. He held it up to the dim light to inspect it. "You have the Witch King's favor…Come then."
The trip took them through dark caverns and just when Zatanna felt that it could become no darker bright pin points of light surrounded them, like multi colored stars. They gave the caverns shape and reflected on the water.
"What type of rock is this?" Zatanna asked.
"The rock itself is not special," the Phantom explained. "It is what the rock contains. The Wizard King's kingdom is famous for its precious stones."
As they pushed on the dots became larger. Soon the geographical features of the cave were made more of gems than rock, becoming large multicolored structures that glowed with their own light. Zatanna inspected the stones, they contained spells for speed, safety and stability.
The boat reached a large and ornate gate. The ferryman knocked on the gate three times with his oar, the sound reverberated throughout the caverns. The gate opened slowly and the light from the other side temporary blinded the group.
The river continued into a city. People of various shades of brown walked along the river. They all wore long and flowing robes with intricate embroidery. The men's dark hair was twisted into thick braids. The women wore large turbans and beaded jewelry glittered along their necks, wrists, and ears.
The buildings were tall and made of a light tan stone. Gems were everywhere, used as key architectural details and used in signs. Several outcroppings were scattered through the city as common as granite boulders.
The boat pulled into port and the ferryman helped his passengers onto land. A woman approached them. She bowed deeply and up close Zatanna could see that the beads were small gems.
"If his Honored guests would follow me, "the woman smiled and turned moving deeper into the city.
January 17, 15:00 GMT
Zatanna's eyes were craned upward the entire trip. The woman gave them a tour of the city, pointing out the sights. As they came closer to the palace the grander the buildings became. Zatanna searched for clues to her whereabouts within the building's architecture. However the architectural styles were all mixed. One could actually see a progression of history as they progressed through the city.
She tugged on Xanadu's sleeve once more. "Where are we?" Zatanna asked.
"Somewhere in Western Africa."
"I attempted scrying for Kor once. I could only narrow it's location to a region."
"It is still amazing. The trip was barely thirty minutes long. I noticed hastening spells in the stones but I did not guess that it would move that fast."
"The stones have a latent ability to enhance and store magic. Perhaps his highness will allow you to study them."
Zatanna noticed the edge to her mentor's voice. "Have you meet before?"
"Is he an old enemy… or friend?"
Xanadu gave Zatanna a sharp look before smiling. "Your father was a very astute man. It was foolish of me to expect less from his daughter despite her age." She placed her arm around Zatanna's shoulders, but did not comment further on past relationships. They continued to walk through the city leaning on each other.
The palace was astoundingly bright. Men and women moved to and fro. Some were workers going about their daily routine, as if this place could stand more polish. Others were scholars, or politicians holding books and papers. Zatanna caught snatches of vehement debates. The most astounding thing was that there was no apparent social hierarchy. No division among the classes. Being in a palace of all places, Zatanna expected a more outdated attitude concerning the hired help. However the workers held their heads high, were greeted warmly, and even engaged in conversations.
There were also performers, marked by how little clothing they wore, their dark skin gleamed under the palace lights. Their masks were pushed up to reveal tattooed faces. A small cat like creature jumped from one of the performer's shoulders onto Zatanna. It had large eyes and rounded ears. Its tail was bushy and ringed but its body had spots like a leopard. It butted Zatanna's head begging to be pet. Its owner was very apologetic, although Zatanna had no clue what he was saying. She believed that the language was French and suddenly regretted taking Spanish in school.
"Sorry," Their guide removed the animal from Zatanna's shoulders and returned it to the man with a short explanation. The performer bowed and smiled before going on his way. "He saw that you were a visitor and spoke the only Romantic language he knew."
Zatanna cocked her head as she watched him leave. "So I'm guessing Italians don't make it to this part of the world often?"
"Historically no. There have been a few but not in droves like the French. However, I would not be the best one to ask, I haven't spoken to a Roman since Cicero."
Zatanna gaped at their guide, hoping that there was more than one Cicero. She couldn't mean the philosopher, she didn't look older than twenty.
"Our people are…long lived," the guide explained after noting Zatanna's surprise. "Now let us continue."
They were taken to a Moroccan inspired great room. It was filled with plush jewel toned cushions and large brass lanterns hung from the ceiling.
"Please make yourselves comfortable." Their guide gestured to the room. "There are rooms to your the left for the ladies, and to the right for the gentleman, if you would like to freshen up a bit."
Men entered the room carrying silver trays. The trays contained various foods, cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables and breads as well as sauces to dip them in. They placed the trays on the center table. The men were followed by several women carrying pitchers, kettles and cups. The women left their offerings on the center table as well.
"Here are some refreshments. The Honored one will be with you shortly."
The servers lined up behind their guide. They all bowed before exiting the room.
The Wizard King's guests took the opportunity to refresh themselves. The bathrooms felt larger than Xanadu's home, multiple stories and all. It was an exaggeration but Zatanna expressed it anyway.
"You will find Zatanna that everything is big here. Mist does not understand subtlety," Xanadu explained.
Zatanna made a face.
"It isn't exactly a fault," she said while reapplying her eye makeup in a mirror. "But it can complicate things." She replaced the top to her mascara. "Also I should warn you. He's terribly flirtatious."
"I don't think that it would apply to me."
"You're female," Xanadu deadpanned. "it applies to you."
The ladies returned to the great room to find the Phantom Stranger enjoying a hearty plate.
His face lit up when he saw them. "Xanadu! They have really good pomegranate."
Xanadu marched over to him. "All of these exotic options and you are raving about the pomegranate?" she scolded.
"You know I prefer the classics."
Zatanna giggled at their behavior before joining them.
It was fortunate that the Wizard king appeared when he did. The cushions were extremely comfortable and Zatanna was seconds away from nodding off. The king had an effortlessly relaxed posture. His hair was cropped short and his beard was neatly trimmed. Mist's robes were heavily embroidered but he only wore a moderate amount of jewelry, the gold and gems of his large earrings glinted off his dark skin. However, the most striking thing about him was the pendant around his neck. Waves of magical energy radiated from the necklace, but Zatanna could not tell the objects purpose.
The trio moved to stand and the king raised his hands, halting them.
"Please do not stand," his voice was weary. "I plan on sitting myself and I'm tired of formalities." He settled onto the cushions.
"You look tired," said the Phantom Stranger as he poured the king a drink.
The king accepted the cup, smiling lightly. "Politicians." He took a sip from the cup. "You would not think that we have been arguing over the same issues for millennia with the amount of effort they put into it."
"Dr. Mist. I would like to introduce you to Zatara's daughter Zatanna." The Phantom beckoned Zatanna to stand.
Dr. Mist stood and offered his hand. Zatanna took it in a hand shake.
"I knew your father for a time." He bowed deeply, almost bending himself in half in the process. He turned her hand palm down and kissed it. "I tried to take his wife."
Zatanna flushed, before she could control her body's reaction. Despite the warning she was taken off guard.
Xanadu cleared her throat loudly.
"Excuse me." The Wizard king winked at Zatanna before releasing her hand.
Sensing trouble Zatanna hurried to reclaim her seat.
The king approached Xanadu arms spread wide. "My rose. My lady of the lake. How my palace pales before your beauty." He spoke over dramatically and Zatanna was reminded of a certain speedster.
Xanadu crossed her arms and glowered at him.
"Now Xanadu you said that you were going to smile!" Phantom reminded her.
Xanadu shot the Phantom a withering glare and Phantom just carried on oblivious.
"Mist," Xanadu started tersely.
"Yes my pearl." He sat next to Xanadu and casually cast his arm around her shoulders. He smiled widely, enjoying the torment he caused.
"Would you care to explain what you stand to gain by offering us your home?"
"I want to reopen the school to the public."
"Yes. Out of all of the candidates you have for this …team the one I am most interested in is Mera."
Xanadu gave him a dirty look.
"Do not start." He clasped Xanadu's hand. "My intentions are pure. Besides that savage husband of hers would have half his army try to run me through before we heard the end of it." He rubbed Xanadu's hand. "She has performed wonders with her students at the conservatory. I only want to collaborate with her. I would even offer you a position if you would take it."
"So you're starting up your own Hogwarts?" Zatanna asked, sarcasm dripping from her voice.
The king's brows furrowed. "That book misrepresents so much concerning the occult it's atrocious."
"You've read the Harry Potter books?"
"Young lady I am immortal. I have read everything." He returned his attention to Xanadu, patting her knee. "Come I will show you the new campus grounds."
"This is my room for the night?" Zatanna's eyes glowed. The room was fit for a princess, an Egyptian one to be precise, judging by the décor.
"Yes Miss Zatara." The maid fully entered the room and opened the curtains.
Zatanna ran and threw her self onto the large four poster bed, bouncing slightly upon her landing.
The maid giggled at Zatanna's exuberance. "Will you require anything else?"
Zatanna popped up. "No. Thank you for everything though."
"You are most welcome. Call upon any of us if you require assistance." The maid left the room quietly.
"I see you like it." Xanadu entered the room and took a seat on the bed.
"I liked your room too!" Zatanna added hastily.
Xanadu gave a deep chuckle." I'm going to head back to the house. I-"
"You're not staying?"
"I'm just gathering some items that may be useful. I will be back by dinner. I've been told to let you know that you may freely wonder the palace. Just do not go to the west wing."
"What's in the west wing?"
"Apparently one of their wizards has been performing experiments and at the moment large sections of the west wing are in ruins because of said experiments. "
"By all reports she is still held up in her half ruined laboratory attempting to get the spell right."
"So it's still a war zone."
"Are you sure you don't want company?"
Xanadu patted Zatanna's head, "I will move faster if I am alone. Have fun!"
January 17, 1:00 CDT
Xanadu was escorted back by two of the palace guards. They waited for her by the river. Once entering her home she felt a familiar presence. She moved into the kitchen to see a young man raiding her fridge.
"You're a long way from home John."
The youth pulled himself from the fridge, a pear in his mouth. His blond hair was messy and his clothing was unkempt. He also needed to shave, badly. He removed the pear and shut the refrigerator door. "You weren't home."
"And that translates to an open invitation? You know what. Never mind I don't want to know the answer."
The youth finished the pear in two bites. "Got anything decent to eat? I know that you gotta watch your figure, being old and all, but how' a bloke's gonna eat proper with noting but bird food around?"
"You don't get to ask questions John. You walked out on me remember."
Constantine tossed the core into he trash, easily making the shot. "Well now I'm back." He leaned against the counter and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his jackets pocket. Xanadu snatched them away. He pouted at her.
"Tsk. Still a child. I won't train you. I gave you multiple chances and you threw them in my face."
He looked away from her,sullen.
" But… I know of a place were you can get training. It would require a lot more discipline on your part."
"I don't do well with discipline."
She ignored his comment, "It's in Kor."
"You're just tryin' to pawn me off on someone else."
Xanadu reached into her purse and pulled out a twenty dollar bill. She held it in front of him. "Get some food." She snatched it away as he grabbed for it. "Only food… Think the offer over and leave a message here when you decide." She placed the money in his hand and left the kitchen.
So my version of Dr. Mist is so out of character…but I think he's more fun this way.
January 18, 2:15 CDT
Zatanna opened her eyes to darkness. She raised her hands in front of her face, they glowed but lacked color. The dream is back, she thought, glancing around. She strained her ears and caught the barest whisper of a whimper. This time she boldly strode toward the sound.
She saw a form hunched in a corner. The form wore a white, hooded cloak, creating a bright spot within the darkness. Zatanna reached forward to touch the person's shoulder, but was halted by a pale hand. Zatanna turned her head sharply to see a small figure in a dark blue cloak.
Zatanna opened her mouth to speak, and the cloaked figure raised a single digit to the dark abyss behind the hood, giving her the shush signal. A dark magic surrounded Zatanna's mouth hindering her ability to speak. Before she could protest or panic the cloaked figure floated and flew off at an alarming speed, dragging Zatanna behind itself.
Its hands were small and bony, but its grip was strong, it was also cold. Zatanna held back the impulse to panic. Without the capability to speak she couldn't cast spells but panicking would not help. She stilled her rampaging thoughts and focused on how she could escape. Perhaps once it stopped she could overpower it? She had been taking lessons from Black Canary since she began to live in the cave. Apprehensive about being caught without the use of her magic she made Robin spar with her often. On one occasion she blackened his eye, apparently she had a great right hook.
The figure halted and descended slowly to the ground. "I am sorry," the figure whispered, with a young girl's voice. "It was too dangerous. I am going to release you now. Please stay still."
She released Zatanna from her firm grip and with a wave of her hand removed the spell that hindered Zatanna's ability to speak.
Zatanna watched the figure warily, assuming a fighting stance just in case. "Why are there two of you?"
"That was a decoy. A trap. I had hoped that I had erased your presence but he must have felt you anyway."
Zatanna relaxed her posture. "I don't like the way you say he." She narrowed her eyes. "Look, if this place is so dangerous why don't you just leave?"
"I told you I can't!" The young girl's voice increased in volume as she panicked. "He will follow! He always follows!"
Zatanna sighed and decided that it would be best to change tactics. She knelt and gazed into the darkness under the hood, to where she hoped there was a face. "I think we got off to a rocky start," she said gently. Zatanna smiled and offered her hand. "My name is Zatanna."
The girl removed her hood. A frown creased her sallow skin, her uncertainty reflected in her dark eyes. She looked to be no older than eight. Her dark hair had a violent tint, and was swept back from a widow's peak. A blood red gem decorated the center of her forehead.
"It's okay," Zatanna said encouragingly.
The girl's lips quirked up in a hesitant smile, the emotion was strained as if she had long since forgotten how. As she reached out to take Zatanna's hand the smile was replaced with an expression of pure terror. She stared unblinkingly at something behind Zatanna, her eyes growing wide.
Zatanna sensed a strong magical presence, a dark presence that accompanied an intense heat at her back. It paralyzed her. Nightmarish images flashed through her mind. A woman beaten, then forced, a city consumed by fire, and an endless wasteland covered by the bloated bodies of the dead. The images were somehow familiar, memories, but they were not hers.
"You have to go!" A form of pure white arose from behind the girl like a color swapped shadow. It enveloped Zatanna and once again Zatanna was enveloped in intense bright light.
January 18, 3:00 GMT
Zatanna awoke with a start. She looked around wildly, not recognizing the room assigned to her by the Wizard king. She caught her self before screaming. Zatanna panted, collecting herself and was overcome by a bone deep chill. She pulled the covers around her and sat there shaking, eyes squeezed shut.
It was only a dream. She was too old for this, much too old for this, but all she wanted was to crawl into her father's bed. The tears started and would not stop. No matter what Batman felt about her father and Nabu's union she could not see Dr. Fate as her father. That thing was not capable of compassion.
Her fear was replaced with anger. She threw the covers off in defiance and grabbed the robe provided for her. The silk of the robe warmed and soothed her body. Zatanna moved the room's balcony. It overlooked one of the castle's many gardens. As she gazed at the garden she spotted Dr. Mist. He turned and waved at her.
Zatanna changed into some proper clothing and met the king in his garden. They walked side by side, completely silent. It was the king that broke the silence.
"Were you not able to sleep? If there is something about the room that is unsatisfactory we can make other arrangements."
Zatanna laughed ruefully. "I could ask you the same thing. Why is the king so restless?" She continued when the king did not answer. "The room is beautiful. It's Egyptian right?""
"I would not call my current mood restless, but soft sheets are no replacement for the moon and stars." He waved to the cloudless sky. The moon was bright and illuminated the garden. "It can not calm the soul like the soft trickle of a fountain or the smell of a blooming rose." He halted in front of the garden's great fountain. "The room is inspired by Egypt. In my younger days I wed one of their princesses."
"Your wife slept in a different room?"
"We had a… special arrangement."
Zatanna watched him, waiting for him to continue.
"She was fourteen."
The king laughed. "Like I said it was a special arrangement. She actually wasn't my type at all. Yes I have a type," he added, noticing that Zee's eyebrows knit together. "Don't let Xanadu cloud your mind."
"What happened between you two anyway?" Zatanna asked.
The king grimaced. "I don't feel like talking about it. It was a lifetime ago."
"Okay….Tell me more about the princess then."
"She was skinny. Not a curve to speak of. Just long and lanky with knobby knees and elbows. Even after she bore children she remained slender. It was as if her belly was detachable. Her hair was constantly frizzy and dry from too much time in the sun, and she had a large nose. As she grew it became quite distinguishing, but at the time her beak would have put the mighty Horus to shame."
"Those aren't really nice things to say about your wife."
"And to top it of she had no magical abilities."
Zatanna giggled. "How did you meet?"
"I was engaged to her sister. It was an arranged marriage but I was content with it. Kartec's older sister was everything she wasn't. Stunning and elegant and she had magic. Nothing too powerful but at least she wouldn't dilute the blood lines."
"I don't understand. You sound happier about the sister."
"I would have been happier for a time. But Kartec was special." The king smiled and crossed his arms across his chest. "If she were a man she would have held a high position in her father's court. The child was a genius, but she had all of the eccentricities of such genius. She was constantly in trouble for speaking her mind in inopportune moments, or getting her clothing dirty while explored. "He chuckled at the memory. "She was the first woman to challenge me, to stand up to me, despite my wealth and power she was unafraid. "
"You fell in love with her," Zatanna said, filled with awe.
"I did eventually. At the moment it was the start of a grand friendship. But I had a dream that we were married the night before I was to wed her sister and so I switched brides."
"You…?" Zatanna looked confused. "How? You can't just— weren't the preparations already made?"
The king shrugged, a very un-regal gesture. Zatanna ignored it. "I am the Wizard King. I get what I want."
"All because of a dream?"
"Dream's are not to be taken lightly," he said, his tone becoming serious." Especially when they come to those with power. My kingdom is as grand as it is today because of Kartec's intelligence and wisdom. I would have spent my fortune eons ago if not for her interference. "
"Yes a dream. It was Kartec who convinced me to become a part of Xanadu's plans. She visited me in my dreams again tonight. She seems pleased overall."
They walked the garden some more in silence. Zatanna deep in thought, she had much to reconsider.
Xanadu called upon Zatanna as the sun rose. A maid followed her into Zatanna's room with a tray containing tea and pastries. It was to be Zatanna's first lesson but it would be postponed.
Zatanna wasn't a boastful person, but she wasn't terribly humble either. She wasn't sure if she was a person with power as the king put it, but these dreams were too real to ignore. Zatanna had made up her mind last night. She had to tell Madam Xanadu of the dreams.
"I wish you had mentioned this sooner," Madam Xanadu said, her voice stern. The pair sat out on the balcony, enjoying the morning air.
"Sorry, I just didn't—"
"It is not your fault Zatanna, but this complicates things. "
"How?" Panic rose within Zatanna's voice. "What do you think will happen?"
"It seems that you have formed a bond with this being. It can use you as a gateway to this world."
"That's good! We need to get that girl out of there!"
"How do you know that she isn't using you?"
Zatanna narrowed her eyes and frowned. "You didn't see the look in her eyes."
"Okay. Calm down." Xanadu raised her hands in a placating gesture. "There is still the matter of what she claims is following her. It could catch a ride into this world with her."
"There has to be some type of defense right?"
"If we knew what we were dealing with… Are you certain that you do not remember anything else?"
"Nothing. I didn't even get her name. She kicked me out before I could ask her."
"Come." Xanadu stood." We will go to the library. Perhaps you will see something to jog your memory."
"I should get another dream right?" Zatanna stood as well. "Maybe I can ask some questions next time."
"Zatanna." Xanadu placed her hand on the girl's shoulder. "You must promise me that you will no longer attempt to remove the child."
"Why?" Zatanna shrugged off Xanadu's hand and stormed into the bedroom.
"Until we know more of what we are dealing with reacting impulsively is extremely dangerous." Xanadu pleaded chasing after the young woman. "Proper application of magic takes preparation. I know you know this."
Zatanna halted and shook. "I know that!" Zatanna exclaimed, her voice softened after the outburst. "But she's alone and scared. I know she came to me for a reason. What if I'm the only one who can help?"
Xanadu hugged the girl from behind."There are many demons known for making this kind of connection with humans. If she is not what she seems she will take your soul in exchange. If she is, then you still risk releasing whatever is keeping her captive." Xanadu sighed. "It is not that I don't trust your judgment or strength. Your instincts may be right. All the more reason to be certain that this demon is put down properly." Xanadu released the girl from her embrace."Come. We have a lot of ground to cover before breakfast."