The Hunt for Knowledge
By Sariya Chaton
Date: August 29, 2022
Ch. 2Purple Pixies and Blue Sirens

They neared the Literature building with its massive alabaster columns and marble staircase. The red brick was in stark contrast to the white window trimmings but spoke of old money. The grounds were immaculate and well tended. Students lounged on blankets under trees. Others sat by a man-made pond reading their texts. Strewn backpacks were the only debris that littered the thick green grass.

Brick pathways, bordered by purple jump-up johnny's, meandered this way and that. As they came upon the main entrance of the Literature building Zinnia changed course and turned down one of these brick lanes.

A small building that Katalea hadn’t noticed before stood off to one side of the main hall. Katalea remembered looking in this direction when they arrived and seeing a massive plum tree in this general area. Not only was the tree no longer present, but the building Zinnia was gesturing to for the group to enter didn’t quite match up with the pathways.

The door was a little askew and one would have to step off the path and to the left a bit in order to go through the door. It was like it arrived after the lanes were built. Katalea was quite sure this building hadn’t been there twenty minutes ago.

Katalea wasn’t the only one that noticed. The blue-haired lady visibly stiffened as Zinnia took out a key.

“I do not trust a building that has existed for less minutes than my legs,” she said directly into Katalea’s mind.

Katalea chuckled but nodded in agreement. As Zinnia fumbled with unlocking the door, Katalea messaged the security detail to do a thorough search of the building before they entered.

“What brings a mermaid this far inland?” Katalea tried messaging back. There was no flicker of recognition in the mermaid’s green eyes and Katalea knew that her standard way of messaging her Pride wouldn’t work here.

Instead the blue haired lady turned to address them both. “I am Aquina, Great Granddaughter many times over to Poseidon and Amphitrite,” she said out loud, closing the gap between them with both hands outstretched facing up.

Katalea looked down at her hands, unsure of what to do. Aquina smirked, and rolled her eyes. “I didn’t put them there to hold a tray of food.” She said, “Place your hands atop mine, and see.”

Katalea did as she was bid and was immediately opened to the heart of the girl in front of her. Though smarmy with sarcasm, her intentions were clear. She had need of the prophecies and wanted to join forces to find them. Her alabaster skin was in stark contrast to Katalea’s bronze tone, but the two stood eye to eye.

She felt Aquina push at her mind. Katalea closed herself to the probe from the mermaid. She wasn’t ready to accept her just yet. Aquina winked and pulled her hands away.

“A little precaution is a good thing, but don’t go trusting that one over there because he has outdoor plumbing.” She nodded towards the man in the black sweatshirt.

Katalea noticed the man talking to Dakari and probed. He was closed to her, but must have felt her pushing at him, for he turned to acknowledge her. His light brown hair blew in the gentle breeze, framing his sun-kissed face. This was a man that spent a lot of time in the sun. He skimmed his smokey grey eyes over Katalea before coming to rest on Aquina. Something akin to irritation flashed in those eyes before his face settled into a peaceful grin.

“We meet again, my bright blue siren song.” He bowed in welcome. As he bowed Katalea could see a leather sheath sporting a pearl handled hilt. He came armed and ready for it was hardly a fashion statement.

Aquina curtsied, mocking his gesture, “It is not so good to see you again Beecher. You seem to be like the proverbial dog with a bone.”

“Did you follow me here?” He shot at her. “You were in Mexico just yesterday.”

“Stalker! How did you know where I was yesterday? Perhaps you were following me?” She shot right back. She stopped and looked at him quizzically. She turned back to Katalea and shrugged. Over her shoulder she called to him, “Seems to me that you find my presence offensive today….May I suggest that you stop finding me?” Her grin widened as her barb hit its mark. The irritation on his face seemed to delight her.

Katalea was reminded of her brothers with all the bickering and felt a momentary ache in her heart. She really needed to remember to call them. Wouldn’t they get a kick out of this situation. It was always so hard to connect with them when so much of her life couldn’t be shared. Dakari shifted and a branch on the ground snapped under his weight. It was enough to bring Katalea’s focus back to the situation at hand.

All four stood staring at one another. No one moved or looked away. An awkward silence came over the group as Dakari looked from one to the other. He could not read his new acquaintances as well as Katalea, but he felt no danger. A banging sound came from inside the room and all jolted as the door to the make-shift meeting room swung open with a force that nearly knocked it off its hinges. The security detail exited the small office, gave the all clear and Zinnia waved them in.

In fascination, Katalea watched two of her security detail actually speak to Zinnia as they exited. Never in her life had a security person broken protocol and spoken to anyone outside the detail while on duty. Even the most gregarious storytellers on the squad wouldn’t dare to be seen losing focus. Now she watched as the captain of the guard stood looking like a puppy, lapping up the attention she bestowed on him.

“That’s right, just put a little Eucalyptus oil on your temples, remember to rub counter-clockwise.” He nodded some more as she produced a little vial from a pocket in her purple dress. She reached out and touched his face, “There now, you’re all better.”

His face lit up like a kid on Christmas. “My headache is gone, oh by the goddesses, thank you.” He turned and joined the detail again, grinning from ear to ear. Katalea couldn’t comprehend what she just witnessed.

When she saw Katalea studying her she smiled and the pleasure showed in her eyes. “I like to help,” was all she said. She seemed to glow with happiness as she said it. “Please everyone, come in. It is time for us to get acquainted.”

Katalea felt the pull of this little purple pixie’s happiness. She found herself wanting to be near such overwhelming joy. She saw the others felt it too as they stopped their childish bickering and filed in. She understood now what had happened to the security chief.

As the door closed on the empty room, Dakari immediately opened all the windows with a flick of his finger. He needed an escape plan in case one of these creatures had a hidden agenda. Never again would he be caged in.

Zinnia smiled at him, “I feel your anxiety big brother. You have been through much to get to this point.” She raised a graceful hand towards him and appeared to be bestowing a blessing on him. He felt his anxiety diminish immediately. He nodded his thanks and felt her joy. “Wasn’t she a wonder,” is all he could think as he smiled a rare genuine smile.

Next she turned to the others. “I feel your hunger.” She actually winked at Beecher. With a fanning of her magic hands she created a feast fit for kings and queens. “Please eat, enjoy.” The kindness radiated off her face.

It would have taken a camera to pinpoint who jumped up first. They had all mistaken her for a mere human. No human could do these things. She bore no mark, no scent of any creature any of them recognized. They stood gaping at their hostess who’s radiant glow had softened to a tangible purple aura. As they watched, large silvery purple wings unfurled and fluttered. She smiled and blushed at their stares.

“I guess I’ll go first, my name is Zinnia, and I am a fairy.”

“I think I need a drink,” was all Aquina could say.

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