The events with Samantha came to a head so quickly, you didn't have time to go to Elizabeth for help or even advice. You weren't surprised to find another winsome invitation, printed in fairytale cursive on her signature blue paper, in your mailbox Friday morning. You're not sure how she will react to the events of the past week, and you can't decide if you want to know more about the mystical history of the school.
When you arrive, there is a note on the door to let yourself in, and you step into her cloistered entryway. You remove your coat, scarf, gloves, and hat, hanging them on the coat rack by the door. The bittersweet voice of a female soprano floats softly through the living room from invisible speakers, and an intoxicating mixture of smells wafts from the kitchen. Pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar seeps from the walls, but you don't hear the clink of silverware, pans or dishes.
"Elizabeth? I'm here," you call out, not wanting to startle her. You pass through the kitchen, the cats batting playfully at your feet, and come upon Elizabeth setting the table on her glassedin patio. Clusters of votives flicker, casting a champagne incandescence on her face and magnificent white hair. Through the glass walls you can see her icy yard and frost-tipped trees. A row of snow sits atop the short picket fence that outlines the borders of her gardens. Little sticks, naming each kind of vegetable and flower, poke out like candles on a lightly frosted cake. Against this backdrop she turns and smiles, a lion peering at you from the wintry woods.
"I'm so glad to see you," she says with such sincerity that you let out a little whimper. "My little soldier." She wraps her arms around you, the deep purple sleeves of her dress enveloping your face and neck. You breathe in her sweet rose perfume.
"You've been to battle and back as I understand it," she says as you both take your seats. For the first time you feel like you've earned a place at her table. She's apologetic, but doesn't seem the least bit surprised or alarmed by your adventure. "I didn't realize how desperate they are or the lengths they will go to in order to maintain their positions of wealth and power," she says, shaking her head. "They must think you are The One."
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but who are 'they?' Are we talking about more than just Professor Carden?" you ask, trying to swallow the bite of banana-nut waffle you have in your mouth. You have a feeling her answer will take care of your appetite.
Elizabeth sighs and stares at you. Her dark eyes make it hard to look anywhere else, but in your peripheral vision you notice she has not touched her plate. And her knuckles are white where her hand grips the fork, She places it down on the mosaic tile table and folds her palms under her chin. She opens and closes her mouth several times before saying anything, as if the words she wants need coaxing to come out from deep in her throat.
"My dear, there's more to the story I was telling you about during our last visit," she begins. "Much more."
An uneasy feeling creeps up your spine, causing you to sit up straighter in your seat. You instinctively scoot your chair closer and, almost crush the paw of the cat that is curled around the base of your chair
"I didn't want to discuss this until you were ready, but I see now that in my attempt to shelter you from the onus this information carries, I only weakened your ability to protect yourself. And you do need protecting. Do you remember the society of women I told you about? The women charged with guiding girls with special abilities?"
You nod and try to swallow, but your throat is too dry. You just gulp in air that sticks in your chest and aches like it does every time you think about your shimmers.
"Emma Woodhouse was one herself. She had extraordinary abilities; some called them 'powers.' She could into someone's eyes and tell what they were thinking. She could feel people's presences even when they were states away. But her greatest gift, her strongest power, was the visions she had of the future."
It's a good thing your legs are securely tucked under the table, which is weighted down with food and dishes. Or you would rocket right out of your seat, ricochet off the walls like a bolt of lightning, and land on the floor in a bewildered lump. And it's a good thing Elizabeth keeps talking or you would swear you had imagined what she just said.
"Emma had her first vision when she was a young girl, about your same age, visiting her grandfather's farm for the summer. His farm became this very campus. In a clearing here, there is a spring that we call the Source. It is a reservoir of power that flows from the core of the universe itself. She went to this magical meadow to write all of her visions in a book called The Apocrophyn. No one knows why, but the ink fades over time if it is not properly...rejuvenated... with eleven drops from the Source each year."