Chapter Eleven, Rend

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The next day Bennie didn't have soccer practice or training to ready herself for, so she settled on the couch to finish some of her assigned summer reading. She wanted to finish it as soon as possible so she could get the essay about the book's theme over with. It was just as well Bennie had begun to like writing more the year before because. Thanks to her blindness, she was behind schedule on the summer work that had driven her nuts the year before.

She wasn't expecting the phone to ring, and she most certainly didn't expect it to be Gemini, saying Perce needed them to come train that night anyway.

When Bennie arrived that night, Sean and Gem were already there, arguing with each other why Gem didn't try a human high school for the fun of it. Perce was nowhere to be seen.

"Funny," Bennie said loudly over the other two to get their attention. "Perce is never late."

"Yeah," Sean said, "Do y'all know what's on his mind? He was really kind of disquieted earlier."

"It probably has something to do with Dwendol," Gem said to Sean, "The possible Rend, you know?

"Who-what?" Bennie said.

"Oh, sorry Bennie," Gem said, "Rends...hmm where to start...well, the Dark Forces may be lurking about, but they're subdued to the point of being unable to take control of the passage between the worlds."

"Pelanca." Bennie said.

"Right," Sean said. "So way back when, some old Fairy and Elven amagi, which is the Dwendolan term for people who study magic and science, since they are the same to them, discovered something when an experiment went wrong. They were trying to travel great distances instantly, teleport, but hadn't mastered it yet. Instead of their destination, they came to this continuum in the universe, a plane of reality that overlapped all the other realities. Over the centuries they studied it, and with the help of other races on their world, and worlds they reached through it, create the city in the heart of the valley. They created the tunnels we all go through and you know the rest, places that could never be reached before are now connected."

"It's the central hub of known existence; everyone crosses through there," Gem continued. "Mostly just the Guardians use it now though as most people in the worlds live ignorant of the other worlds or have little need to travel."

"So Earth isn't unique in that regard," Bennie said. "That's nice to know. But now I've forgotten what we were talking about."

"Um," Gem looked up as if to find the thought floating above her head.

"Rending," Sean grinned. "I have good backtracking skills.

"Oh that's right," Bennie said, "So what is 'Rend?'"

"A Rend happens when the enemy tries to break through into the other worlds or Pelanca without using the passages. We control Pelanca, so they can't get through that way. Rends are dangerous because they can and often do have negative effects on the worlds in question. I mean, you're simply ripping space and time open, and they can attract attention from normal people for that reason and for the skirmishes that follow to combat the intruders. Luckily they're also rare because making one is complicated—"

"—And the magic and manpower involved can, and has, cost many powerful magicians their lives." Gem finished for Sean. "But there's a problem. There are more of them now than ever."

"You can thank Reyortsed and his wonderful ability to recruit more people to his side for that. He was also the reason for the attack on Pelanca I was in two years ago."

"He made a Rend through Pelanca?" Bennie said, shocked.

"I know," Sean said. "He's not the first to attempt that particular stunt, but he is the first to actually come through with it, which is why he's such a threat."

"Whoever controls Pelanca controls traffic between the other worlds, and not to mention the worlds themselves, in time," Gem said. "But he's not attacking Pelanca now, he's attacking Dwendol, my home world." The worry on Gem's face unnerved to Bennie.

"It could just be a decoy," Sean said, trying to put a hand on Gem's shoulder. She brushed it away. "A distraction to drive us away from Pelanca."

"If that's supposed to make me feel better, it didn't," Gem said. "Attacks on Dwendol or any world is a disastrous, but on Pelanca, it's a catastrophe."

"Not to lighten the mood or anything," Perce's voice came out of the shadows and made them jump. "But it also could possibly be an attempt to weaken our forces with a two front war. Fortunately, the space time continuum likes to repair itself, not stay unnaturally ripped open, so we don't need as much manpower to close them as the other side needs to keep them open. We just have to keep them off task long enough."

"Long enough for what, for Dwendol to be evacuated so Reyortsed can take over it, his own planetary headquarters?" Gem said, with that smile of hers that held no humor. "The Fairies and Elves would sooner die than see their world, everything they built, be lost to him."

"Hopefully that won't happen, but they understand it may be inevitable to protect Pelanca," He said slowly, watching Gem intently as she paled with a realization Bennie could not yet understand.

"How long?" Gem said.

"A year, more or less, if nothing changes," Perce said. "I was late tonight because I was held up at a meeting explaining that things are a lot worse off than we anticipated. The Guardian Council has been talking and they agreed, if it comes to it, Dwendol will be given up to preserve Pelanca. And if they're anticipating being overrun in a year, that means a year is about all the time I have left to train you guys. It wasn't the plan, but all the Guardians are going to be needed to combat Reyortsed's forces when the time comes, so you have to be ready."

Perce turned to Bennie and looked her in the eyes.

"You've barely begun to train, and while you have enormous potential, you're still under age. You won't be expected to fight, but I think you already know that there's no place truly safe, after your interaction with the demon. I would like to keep training you, in more than just power control, if you'll accept. We can discuss it with your mom at a normal hour."

Bennie looked at Sean and Gem. She suddenly felt very small and afraid, and to her horror her vision dimmed.

The fear Aila mentioned, Bennie realized, taking a deep breath and calming herself. Her vision cleared, and she looked back at Perce. She remembered her Dad's eyes, the same Guardian Grey. He didn't back down, and neither would she.

"I'm in."


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