We landed in New Mexico when our flying horse rammed head first into a forcefield. Ava, being the super witch, managed to conjure up a soft landing out of tree branches. But upon hitting the solid ground we were met by armed guards wearing what looked like medieval knight helmets.
“Welcome to New Mexico,” a female voice said before knocking me down with a blow to the head. (I knew better than to get back up.)My team was led blindfolded through what I assumed was a gate.
I kept my focus on the blue line emanating from my chest. Even with my blindfold on I could still see it. The line was a magic, a gift from my father.
“Hello Ella,” said a female voice.
A smile spread across my face. “Annabelle?” I removed my blindfold. My older sister sat with a harem of women. Clearly she was their leader.
“Yes, my dear sister. This is my new home, my new family. Care to introduce me to your family?”
“Yes,” I said quickly.
Ava and Juan were still blindfolded. I understood their strategy; the less powerful they appeared the easier it would be to become accepted.
“These are my friends.” I removed the blindfold from Ava’s eyes.
She looked innocent and demur holding her infant son in her arms. “Hello, I’m Ava Soto, this is my son, Angel.” Ava fell to her knees. “We thank you for your sanctuary.”
I looked at my sister. She motioned for Juan’s blindfold to be removed. “I recognize you.”
Juan took a knee. “I am a humble farmer.”
“No, you’re a sorcerer. A rather famous one if I’m not mistaken.”
Her words brought a smile to his face. “Milady, or your highness…”
“Annabelle will be fine. Any friend of Ella is a friend of mine.”
“Thank you Miss Annabelle.” Juan was still avoiding eye contact. “I could not help but notice a few of your women are with child. Where are your men?”
“Our men care for the children,” she answered sweetly. “While the women work on the pathway. Of course we would have an exception for you.”
“Pathway?” I asked.
“To Arizona, possibly Phoenix.”
“Do you know what’s in Phoenix?” I asked, gripping the cross on my father’s rosary.
“No, only that there is an abnormally high power resonating from that area.”
“Of course. But please join us for dinner first we will leave under the cover of night.”
After a meal prepared and served by the men of her village Annabelle showed my team to the pathway, a massive tunnel. “It goes all the way to Phoenix but anyone who we try to send to the end ends up vaporized.” She motioned to what looked like a pile of glitter.
The glitter continued as far as my eyes could see, perhaps all the way down the tunnel. “Do you only ever send one person at a time?”
“Of course not. I send teams of two or three, but I can’t risk any more than that.” Annabelle sighed. “I have already lost too many of my people. What do you suggest?”
“My team will make the journey.”
Juan immediately grabbed my shoulder. “Not Ava.”
“But we need the power of three.”
“You heard what your sister said, the power of three does not guarantee safe passage.”
“So you suggest two is better than three?” I asked, clearly annoyed.
“I think,” Juan’s voice trembled. “I think it does not matter the number but more so the individuals.”
“And you believe we would make a good team?”
I was still addressing Juan but it was Ava who answered. “No matter what, you are going in there, because only you know what awaits.”
Her baby had been asleep but as she spoke he woke up and appeared to be looking at her. And then at me.
I needed an ally but this child also needed a parent. While Ava was the most powerful witch I had ever met, Juan was an immortal sorcerer.
“Please take care of him, Ella.”
I hugged Ava. “I will, I promise.” I then stepped aside for Juan to say his goodbyes.
The baby began to cry. His little arm reached out for Juan.
“I’ll come back to you, and your mother, I promise.” He leaned down to kiss Ava’s forehead. “No matter what you will carry on. You and Angel will be part of a new better world.”
“Ok.” Ava crossed herself. “Ella,” she turned to me. “Say hello to your dad for me.”
I took Juan’s hand as we took one step into the tunnel, then another. Juan chuckled. “I guess we’re friends now?”
“You could say that,” I said as I glanced at the glittery walls. The patterns were not random, they appeared to be hand prints and possibly screaming faces. It was as if the victims had been dragged or slammed into the walls.
“Well, are you at least happy that you’re getting your wish?” Juan asked, again in a joking tone. “I recall someone wanting to walk the rest of the way to Arizona.”
“That was to protect the… baby.” I smiled back at him. He was trying to be funny to mask the fact he was as scared as I was.
“I wonder what happened,” Juan said as he touched his palm to one of the handprints.
I screamed as we were swept up in a tornado of glitter. Juan put his arms around me, I assume to prevent me from slamming into the walls. The journey lasted only seconds.
We arrived, thrown into a dark corridor, the same one from my vision. But we were surrounded by spirits both male and female. I was about to stand when I heard my father’s voice.
“Don’t let go of his hand, Ella. It is only because there are two of you that you have even survived this far,” my father explained.
“So what now?” I could feel the energy, the power of thousands if not millions of powerful souls.
“Take what is yours.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. In my mind, I recited a manta. “My heart is open, my mind is clear. My heart is open, my mind is clear.” When I opened my eyes me and Juan were back in New Mexico standing before Annabelle and the remains of her entourage. I looked at Juan, but he and everyone in the small crowd were looking at me.
I gazed down at my hands. They were large, masculine. I touched my face. It was my father’s face: we had become one.
Ava, still holding the baby ran to me. “Alberto! I can’t believe it!” As she stroked my back I could feel wings of energy form. “But what about Ella?”
“Ella is safe,” the words felt strange in my throat. “We are one; all our wisdom, our power.” I gazed into Ava’s sparkling eyes. “Our memories.”
My new body felt immortal, the power of thousands of souls coursing through my veins. I shouted to the heavens, “All who follow in our light will receive protection, guidance and compassion regardless of gender color or creed!”
“We are to fall in line behind men?” muttered one of Annabelle’s followers. The girl was muscular and tall, clearly a leader in her own right.
“Not behind, all will stand beside us.” I looked to Ava and Juan. We held hands forming a triangle; the power of three personified as a pillar of light erupted from our location.
I could hear whispers and gasps: “This is going to start a war”- perhaps, “This is going to attract attention”- most definitely.
Lights turned on throughout the village as men women and children emerged to stand in awe of our power. Since that day our fellowship has only grown. My team now governs the entire southern United States with our hearts and dreams set to spread our message of love to the world.
That is the end of my story, for now anyway.
“Come to bed, my King,” her voice flowed like silk. “You know the baby always sleeps calmer when in your arms.”
“I’ll be right there, Ava.”