Lucas stared at the woman uncomprehendingly, how was she here? Why hadn't she named him as a murderer?  In the same deadpan voice Megan continued to speak. “You let that woman onto our lands, and now you allow her to join your elite?” Lucas released a quick breath, he had been expecting an immediate identification. Several council members whispered urgently, apparently taking her words seriously. “Who is she to worry you so?” the members ignored Lucas’s question, but Megan locked eyes with him. “Lucas.” Her voice was light as she acknowledged his identity, betraying no anger or fear. The single word brought silence to the room.

“You know him?” Some elf asked the question everyone was thinking. Megan turned to the majority of those present, “Why of course, he was once a member of my village.” Lucas fought hard to hide his shock.  Megan had never even liked him, let alone trusted him. Then there was the matter of his attempting to kill everyone.

Lucas paused, another question drawing his attention. Istrali had claimed to kill every member in the village. So why was Megan sitting in the room, alive and well. He knew that he could not have mistaken her for someone else because she claimed to know him as well. “Perhaps you would care to elaborate on that claim?”  The warlike female he had noticed before asked.

Megan turned to look at her, calm eyes revealing nothing of any inner thoughts. “He was a member of the village I once lead, the village slaughtered by X.” Lucas listened amazed as she spat the name out with more venom then he had ever heard.  “We drove him out because X wove tales of Lucas’s betrayal, and then hunted him as X returned with his dead sister.” There was a pause, as Megan murmured quietly, “I can’t believe he killed his own sister to frame Lucas.” Silence, then she again spoke. “I trusted X to bring Lucas to justice, and nearly allowed the elf to kill Lucas. Thankfully Lucas fought him off.” She cast a glance at Lucas, awe clear on her face. “To this day I still don’t know how he did it. X rampaged then, killing everyone. I barely escaped.”

Her words trailed off to a quiet whisper and several sets of eyes turned to Lucas. Emotions were mixed as they measured him, Lucas could see fear, awe, anger, amazement, disbelief. He did not however dwell on them; instead he stared at Megan wondering what could have made her tell such story. The woman he remembered was intellectual, logical. She would never have been deceived by the little charade he had played through with Istrali, not having been there from the beginning. However her second testimony was a gift he would not deny, so he faced the rest of the council. Waiting to hear their judgment regarding the Southerner.

“If Lucas managed to survive and triumph in those circumstances I see no reason why he cannot handle the Southerner.”

“But can we trust either of them?”

“Lucas may as well be a Guardian, he completed every test. Why shouldn’t we trust him?”

“Perhaps because the only reason he is present is because we threatened the life of his new family.”

The last comment brought a silence to the room, swift and sudden. Lucas glared around the table; he didn’t care if he was given his request just then. Instead he was focusing on the two he left behind. His anger flowed, permeating the room.

“Perhaps that is the very reason why you can trust him.” Megan’s calculated words broke the silence.  She continued oblivious to the unease, “He harbors a great love for them, exceeding the loyalty any single elf can have for the state. Should he betray us their lives end. That will be sufficient to keep him in check.” 

Silence continued, and then nods. “Very well Lucas, you have your team.”

*~*~*~* 

The meeting was dismissed after an official vote, as soon as the members began to disban Lucas hurried over to Megan. As there were still others present he simply gripped her shoulder and asked, “Megan, how did you come to be here?” He tried to sound excited and relieved, but he was sure any eavesdroppers would hear the strain. She smiled at him warmly, “Lucas, I have a story to tell. But not her, come let us discuss.” He followed her, ignoring the gazes following their path. Smiling slightly he realized this was the second time he had disappeared with a female. The short grin fell seconds later as he considered the circumstances.

Megan led him to an empty room; dust covered the various objects inside. But she didn’t seem to notice, simply settling down on an old chair. Lucas followed her, leaning against the door. “Don’t you recognize me Lucas?” Her voice changed more mocking. Lucas stared at the downcast face, “Megan, you know I recognize you?” An unearthly giggle echoed around the room, heart beating quickly Lucas nearly turned and ran. “Megan . . .” a second giggle emanated from her small lips, “Well I suppose that’s the face I wear.” Lucas stared, “Istrali?” A nod, “I do apologize for lying when I said everyone was dead. You see this one dabbled in magic and was sooo interesting.”

Lucas examined the form in front of him, trying to imagine Megan of all elves breaking the laws. “So you kept her?” His voice broke slightly. Istrali shrugged with a single shoulder, hair tumbling over the petite form he possessed. “So what happened to X?” This answer Lucas feared, if the elf made it here to the Academy and testified. . .  he couldn’t complete the thought. Istrali smiled serenely, “Oh, he’s been captured by the South, right after I hinted that I knew important information.”

Despite himself Lucas couldn’t help but smile.

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