Did some of Torman's men escape with the formula? Were they now creating an army of super powered traffickers to deal with any resistance from the authorities? The possibilities perplexed her though Jasmer's demeanor was forceful but it most certainly was anything but threatening. Perhaps I am overreacting to my senses? she thought to herself. After all she'd only been The Butterfly Dragon for less than a year now and despite her extensive mixed martial arts training and expertise she was aware that there was still much to learn about the nature of her own abilities.
As a little girl having just arrived in North America and eventually Toronto, Canada from China, her attentiveness with regard to people had caught some off guard. The same talent that she'd later draw upon to draw the human figure for her fashion designs had given her the ability to read people in a way that few could. The same way that she could read Alicia and her plight during their school years together. The same way that she'd read Monique that fateful day when she'd fled her boyfriend's flat having learned about his involvement with the gangs of the city. She'd seen a girl who'd been misled and then betrayed by the one she'd trusted most. Heylyn knew from experience that one could take that same energy and turn it around to propel themselves forward and away from influences. A unique intuition she'd inherited from both of her parents, for they'd had it in different ways. Her Mother who was always thinking with her heart had given Heylyn her sense of empathy. Heylyn was certain that it was her Mother who'd given her the native Chinese name of Ai. Her Father was born of wisdom of the mind and of life experience having had a difficult upbringing amidst the Chinese revolution. He'd given Heylyn her sense of intuition and the wisdom to apply it. She was ever grateful for these gifts though now her heart and mind were in contention with her own experiences with those who exhibited a similar aura.
It was in the middle of the night and their collective slumber that one of the traffickers had decided that he was going to sample some of the product. He'd opened the container during Heylyn's watch revealing a contingent of guards behind him.
"You... errrr... and her. The pretty one... bring her... We have a special request from you two... An opportunity to earn the rest of the trip sleeping in your own cabins. What do you say?" the trafficker said as the guards leveled their guns at the two of them.
Heylyn turned her attention away from Jasmer to the trafficker. She sized up the lot of them realizing what they wanted.
"Well we were getting kind of lonely and cold just sitting here all by our lonesome." Heylyn responded throwing a lot of accentuated lip movement into her reply.
"Bring your friend and we could make your night very interesting..." the trafficker responded, the guards beside him appearing excited.
"Hey! Hey! Lady? Our friends here say they want a special night with us... what do you say we entertain them?" Heylyn said to Monique who brushed away the cobwebs from her consciousness.
"Huh!? Have you lost your... Oh. Yeah. Alright... All five of them? Sure thing. Hope you have a special place for us to go..." Monique responded hoping she'd not blown the escape opportunity.
"We'll go up to the elite cabin. A great big bed and lots of space so we can get busy..." the trafficker responded gesturing to them.
Heylyn got up first extending her hand to Monique who accepted it. Most of the captives in the container remained asleep and those who weren't pretended to be if only to avoid the prospect of being the next targets of the guards' affection.
They led Heylyn and Monique up to the elite cabin, following the trafficker into the room with the four armed guards behind them.
"So why don't you sit down while we get ourselves warmed up?" Heylyn said seductively.
"Yeah. Just sit down and enjoy the show..." Monique said following Heylyn's lead.
The guards sat around the edges of the bed watching Heylyn and Monique very closely. Heylyn feigned delight though she only felt disgust at the sight of the guards and their sexual attitudes. She knew that if they'd resisted, that they would have tried to beat them and possibly some other captives into submission. Instead she decided to take the upper hand.
"I've got a little story to tell you. Its about the Butterfly. Do you like butterflies?" Heylyn asked running her hands up her muscular thighs.
"We love butterflies... pretty ones... yes we do... especially when they dances for us..." one of the guards spoke.
"Well one day this butterfly went out into the field... and it looked up in the sky... and do you know what she saw?" Heylyn said leaning closer the guards covering for Monique.
"I don't know... the clouds...? a big sexy pair of lips maybe?" the trafficker responded playfully.
"No... she didn't see any of that. No sirree... Instead she saw an.... Eclipse!" as Heylyn finished the sentence Monique tranformed into her light form with a brilliant flash.
The men grabbed at their eyes screaming as Heylyn rendered them unconscious one by one. All in all they fell in less than three seconds from the point of Moniques transformation. Monique then turned to a shadowy form and watched the corridor for any response.
"The coast looks clear thankfully. I don't think that I could have done that for those disgusting slobs again." Monique told Heylyn.
"Now we have to decide what to do with their filthy bodies? We could store them in the neighboring cabin. Tie them up first and just leave them there. In the meantime I could catch some shuteye here while you keep watch. Besides I have to make time for you know who..." Heylyn explained.
"Weltherwithsp is coming out tonight? That's pretty important then. Maybe Welly can advise you on that white haired guy?" Monique asked.
"Maybe. Weltherwithsp will have some answers about him. We have to find out about him before we storm the containers. He's close to the captives. He and any of his cohorts could kill half of them before we could stop him. We have to know the facts before we continue this though regardless we should attempt to take out cargo hold guard shift in the early morning and try to sneak into the container with their keys. Then we can take him out if need be." Heylyn told her.
"I'll stand guard while you catch some winks. I'm sharp and on my toes now." Monique told Heylyn.
"Alright. After we get these guys tied up and gagged and into the next door cabin, I'll grab a snooze and wait for Weltherwithsp to show up with some answers. Don't let me sleep more than three hours." Heylyn asked Monique.
"Sure thing. Let's get this done so we can wrap this whole thing up. These guys and this boat are really giving me the creeps. There's something wrong with this whole thing..." Monique expressed to Heylyn.
"I know what you mean... Let's do it." Heylyn said as she began tearing the bed linens into strips to constrain the guards and the trafficker.
She used the remainder of the bedding to gag them effectively reducing them to quiet whimpers. They stayed quiet as Heylyn effortlessly carried them two at a time into the neighboring cabin. When she'd packed the room with all five of them she locked the door with their keys and left them to their fate.
She slipped back into the elite cabin and fell asleep while Monique kept watch from an overstuffed chair across from the bed. She lay in bed still for a long time before the embers of darkness crept across her closed eye vision and the dance of sleep commenced.
She sat somewhere waiting for such a long time that she'd forgotten what she was waiting for. There was no field or flowers just a silent darkness, inert and quiet. Then she saw the Dragon weaving its way through the patches of space towards her. As its form grew larger she stood to face Weltherwithsp.
The Dragon wound up in a coil in front of her floating and hovering under the power of its enormous feathered butterfly wings. It paused a moment looking at her as if seeing her for the first time.
"So pretty. I'd have never known. Has it been that long since we've talked little girl?" Weltherwithsp asked Heylyn.
"Where's the field? We've never met like this before. Is something wrong?" Heylyn asked Weltherwithsp taken back by the fact they'd never met outside of the field they'd first met.
"We are at sea. Far from the reaches of the shore where many fields may lay. Don't you agree?" Weltherwithsp looked at her up close waiting for an answer.
"It's different. That's all. So you're saying we're not in the field because of our current journey onboard this ship?" Heylyn asked curiously.
"To travel in the realm of reality is to travel in the mind. There is no land for many leagues and as such... No field in which to be..." Weltherwithsp laughed deeply pondering the statement.
"So what of these anomalies? The man with the white hair? The red haired lady and her two friends? The artist and the nature lover? They possess very different auras. Much like those of the foes we'd faced on Treadwater Island." Heylyn asked Weltherwithsp hoping that the Dragon might explain.
The Dragon's brow furrowed upon the mention of the people and in all of her time with Weltherwithsp, she'd never seen the Dragon's emotions curve so sharply towards ire.
"They are... to be feared. They are as you. Very powerful and deceptive. They work with the traffickers to ensure the cattle do not escape. They are part of the remnant forces you extinguished on Treadwater and very dangerous. They've even built themselves a fortress from where they execute their plans. They call it the Sanctum... Imagine their nerve using such a term for such a purpose..." Weltherwithsp explained to Heylyn maintaining a very serious demeanor and keeping its face close up to hers.
"So their compassion is just a ruse? To earn the trust of captives?" Heylyn asked the enormous Dragon.
"Yes. Yes! Exactly! They are deceivers and have been for a long time. You and your friend Monique must extinguish them if you are to ever escape from the boat and liberate the captives. They will be your toughest foes and do not underestimate them. In fact, they will be making secret contact with the so called Sanctum in a few minutes from now. It is within my ability to send both you and your friend Monique there with them through the same tether. There you can strike at them and easily dispatch them for the safety of all the captives." Weltherwithsp informed her.
"Right now? Both of us? If they are so dangerous as you say then perhaps we should consider this opportunity." Heylyn proposed deep in thought.
"Yes. Do it. Go. If you miss this chance you may never leave the boat alive for they together are very powerful. Only catching them off guard do you have a chance." Weltherwithsp said its eyebrows pressed down unto its nostrils.
"Then we'll do it! For the safety of the captives. We are ready..." Heylyn agreed to the Dragons terms.
"Excellent. Step through this portal and there you will find your friend Monique. Both of you will be within their fortress and meeting hall. If you can take them all out, you will be able to free the captives very easily." Weltherwithsp instructed Heylyn.
Heylyn stepped through the portal which closed after her. The Dragon's form was replaced by that of a cloaked man.
"I've nought succeeded in such a ruse in a millennium. Lyra if she were here would be most disgusted with me and that would be the measure of my success. I have a feeling that Jasmer and Yirfir have finally met their match." Lorr said as his laughter filled the empty recesses of Heylyn's dream land.
Heylyn found herself within what appeared to be a large stone fortress. The walls rose for fifty feet above her filled with colorful runes, living plants and vines and a magnificence she'd never seen.
"They built this? How many are there?" Monique asked her.
"A few. Perhaps ten. Weltherwithsp said we'd have a chance if we ambushed them. They're working with the traffickers so don't be tricked." Heylyn advised Monique of the situation.
They proceeded in the direction of hollow voices which echoed through the corridors of the fortress. They kept to the shadows and tried to discern what was being said. The reverberation made it nearly impossible to decipher their conversation but made finding them much easier. It also gave them wonderful cover in which to set up their ambush.
They approached into the shadows under an archway leading into what appeared to be an assembly hall of some sort. They appeared to be having a meeting. Jasmer, the white haired man stood before a sextet of people. A Korean couple who sat comforting each other. An African lady with long braided hair. A Lady from India who wore an elaborately designed dress with gold trim. A tiny and pudgy man wearing a vintage tuxedo of the seventeen hundreds. A Pale Lady whose red lips pierced the darkness through her cowl.
Beside Jasmer, his Lady friend Yirfir stood accompanied by the Artist, the Nature girl and the red haired Goth. Even the ship's Japanese custodian was there standing beside the witty Englishman.
"This doesn't seem right. Something's off." Heylyn said aloud in thought.
"I agree but if we're wrong, then all of those captives could be slaves for the rest of their lives. Believe me, I know what its like to have a boyfriend that wanted to sell me to all of his friends. He would have thrown me away when I was all used up. These traffickers aren't much different." Monique told Heylyn.
"I'm wary of attacking the innocent. I don't think that Weltherwithsp would have told us if it wasn't the truth." Heylyn convinced herself of their current line of action and the decision was made.
They listened in as they were mentioned directly by those in the assembly hall.
"I hate to add to the confusion but I fear there may be two operatives on board acting in the interests of the Power Lords or even possibly the traffickers themselves." Shaela told the assembly.
"Shaela, given your record of disregard for procedure and recklessness during operations, how is it that we are supposed to accept that your observations are credible?" Jexelen, the African Lady asked Shaela.
"I second that question." Thara added.
"I've seen a lot of auras during my time as a Night Wytch. I've even seen the aura of Lorr himself and as such I have experience that is valuable beyond measure to this assembly. I am telling you that there are two on board that are experienced practitioners of the weave. Their auras are unnatural and unusually high in concentrations of the kind of energies that make the weave possible. I've never seen anything like it before. We need to be very careful of them." Shaela the red haired Goth advised the assembly.
"Shaela, you are to be on guard for this danger and because you seem to be aware of it more so than anyone else, you are responsible for keeping the operation protected from it. There will be no casualties of any kind tolerated on this operation and the use of force will be limited to the liberation point one hundred kilometers from the western seaboard of Canada and the United States from where their authorities will take over the operation and we will disappear never having been there. Do all of you understand?" Jeong Soon, the man of the Korean couple asked them.
"I need backup in my cargo container. Preferably healers and possibly an elementalist." Jasmer addressed the assembly.
"It would be unusual to conduct and insertion in the middle of an operation. Have you got a workable cover plan?" Lady Soon, the Korean man's spouse asked.
"I've a contact and friend in the container. He'd be willing to have any insertions added to his roster as family or loved ones. He's a Japanese national who'd been abducted earlier in Asia while traveling. He's befriended Sato as well. I trust him. The two Shaela is talking about are in my cargo container. If we get a healer or ESPer in, somebody that can check them out, we can make an accurate threat assessment." Jasmer suggested.
"In that case We'll send Feylashar, Xenshi and Xushu. They should be able to blend in and advise you on the matter of the two possible threats aboard your container. That will be all. Finish up your personal communications and we'll close this portal in ten minutes." Jeong Soon told the assembly.
"So we can suspect that something is coming up at this rendezvous point. I suggest that we plan for a liberation if the containers are relocated. During the relocation we'll have the best chance for success. Nelony and Yirfir can run distraction for us while we deal with the local guard detachment. Feylashar can spend the next ten hours healing those in my cargo container and getting them ready for any physical activity. Xenshi and Xushu can keep an eye on the threat. Mila, Shaela and Barris can prepare the other container and deploy themselves when the time comes. Sound fair?" Jasmer asked.
"It does sound fair except for one thing. Do you want to deal with us here or there?" Heylyn announced her presence to the occupants of the assembly hall.
They turned to see Heylyn whose butterfly wings had erupted from her back glowing and undulating in the shadows as she took to flight.
The red haired Goth lady known as Shaela began gesturing with her hands as if painting a picture in mid air.
Monique transformed to a shaft of light and arrived at her position instantaneously. She transformed back throwing a quick kick then transforming with a thundrous clap into a shadow.
"Not so fast shadow girl. You're not the only one who can play with light and shadows..." Monique blurred past the Goth spinning her and sending her to the floor.
"Alert! The Sanctum is under attack and has been breached! Lockdown the Librum Universalis Codex!" the Korean man said getting to his feet.
"We have ten minutes to dispatch them before the portal takes us back. We've got to act fast!" Jasmer yelled as he charged at Heylyn who'd landed before them.
The Butterfly Dragon and the Eclipse waged war against the Sanctum unaware of how they'd been played by the Sanctum's worst enemy.
The last Power Lord whose name was Lorr.
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