PART 4: FAMILY
Sybil sprinted from Flint’s rented home on learning that both he and Aisha were not in and sought them both out on the beach as the two had recently taken to having long, romantic walks there at night when it was starry out and especially when the full moon bathed them in its glory. Sybil searched everywhere on the beach until she found them hidden beneath a palm tree as a soft breeze gently rustled the leaves and their hair echoed the movement of the wind. They were locked in a passionate embrace and Sybil felt guilty for interrupting them but time was of the essence and so she cleared her throat as loudly as she could and the lovers broke apart immediately.
“Oh, Sybil, we’re sorry- we didn’t mean-” Aisha began apologizing. Sybil simply shook her head dismissively indicating that what they did in their free time did not concern her. It took longer for Flint to come to and even when he did, he shyly looked away from his old friend.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt but we have received a phone call from the International Magical Transgressions Squad. They finally apprehended the false ‘angel’ and are holding her in one of their cells. The interrogation starts in an hour and we were invited to attend it, if it is our wish,”
Aisha gasped. “You mean they caught her already? That was quick,” she said impressed.
Sybil smiled brightly. “And in just two weeks, indeed, an impressive job considering the power that Vila possesses.”
Aisha nodded and smiled, turned to look at Flint and took his hand in her own. She had to admit that she rather enjoyed being in control of whatever it was they had started together. It didn’t have a name yet nor was any clear goal for the future but they’d both decided to give into their desires and for two weeks, they’d had this thing and it was very clear that Aisha was in control of it. Flint smiled and was very pleased that Aisha did not shy away from holding his hand. Together, they rushed back to the Beach House, changed clothes, grabbed what they required and took a cab headed in a northward direction. At some point, the heavily damaged roads made travel by car impossible and the three exited the vehicle after paying their fare. The driver thanked them then sped off in the opposite direction and out of sight.
They walked a few miles still headed north until they came across what appeared to be a dilapidated building that had been destroyed years ago by floods. They ensured no non-magic folk were around the vicinity before passing through what had once been the building’s main entrance that was rusted and creaked noisily. They continued walking straight ahead until the environment began to shimmer away right before their eyes and with it, shed the illusion of the dilapidated building and giving way to their true location, the International Magical Transgressions Squad building, a building with more floors than the naked eye could see some of which were veiled from the naked eye by a conspicuous fog obstructing their view and all corners of the building were surrounded by intruder- proof barbed wire fences.
Upon arrival at the gate, they handed over all required identification documents and after verification, were handed over to the next available agent, a Protector named Tania. Tania was very tall and had an imposing figure that put Aisha at dis-ease. She was glad Flint’s reassuring hand was holding her own as it gave her strength. Tania had mastered all their names and concisely explained the process they’d have to endure before they were allowed to listen in on the interrogation and she wasn’t kidding- Aisha could not remember the last time she went through so many security checks. She and the others were also reminded that they were not allowed to perform any magic on the grounds and that if they tried, they’d set off alarms and would be immediately apprehended.
There were a million rules and Aisha did not pay heed to any of them focusing instead, on meeting her ‘angel’ in real life. Finally, she stood behind the translucent glass together with Flint, Sybil, Protector Tania and a host of other Protectors behind them staring into the empty room until the prisoner was brought in and chained to the chair. Aisha’s illusion was painfully shattered then and there. Her angel was truly just a pretty face after all. There was nothing extraordinary about her after all other than the ethereal beauty possessed by all Vila. It didn’t take long for the two cross-examiners to join the unimpressive non-angel either…
Aisha could not explain why she felt so nervous on seeing the examiners. Out of all the security staff they had met in the building, the examiners were the closest thing to appearing like ‘ordinary’ people she had ever encountered and yet she could tell that there was more to them than was to be believed from a first glance. They chilled her to the core.
“Please state your name for the record, Madam,” said one of the examiners in the sweetest voice Aisha had ever seen. She shivered involuntarily and Flint placed his arms around her, warming her up instinctively.
Her angel folded her arms across her chest and stubbornly declined answering the question asked of her. Several moments passed and the room was eerily quiet. The two examiners exchanged a look and then the one who asked the prisoner to speak jotted down something on a notepad before looking up at the prisoner who was looking away from them.
“Maám, please state your name for the record, please,” she repeated, her voice still as sweet as honey only this time, her gaze never departed from the prisoner who appeared to be struggling to hold the words that soon spilled out of her mind, “I am Mesi Azara,”
The examiner smiled and then asked, “Thank you, Ma’am. Do you understand why we apprehended you?”
The prisoner nodded.
“Do you have any objections to the claims brought against you?” asked the examiner.
The Vila hesitated but then shook her head and said, “I take full responsibility for my actions and leave myself at the mercy of this institution.”
Perhaps she was wrong but Aisha had a feeling that she was not objecting to any charges so she could be away from the examiners.
“Why did you choose to purposely manipulate the dreams of an unsuspecting caster and furthermore, go a step further and try to murder your victim?” pressed the examiner on as if the Vila had not spoken.
The prisoner hesitated before once more being seemingly unable to control the words pouring out of her mouth, “She made me do it. I had no choice.”
“Who made you do it?”
“My- my sister. I have my rights- this- this is a travesty of justice! I want to have a lawyer present!” said the Vila.
“What is your sister’s name, Mesi?”
“L-Lerato. Get me an attorney right now! I know my rights!”
“Where is Lerato, Mesi?”
“In Ankhelion- stop-stop that! I demand a lawyer!”
“Why did your sister make you do it? What did she have to gain by killing the victim of your crime?”
The Vila struggled and struggled but it was no use, she simply ended up letting the cat out of the bag. “The girl is the only thing standing between us and the Kanda family fortune,”
Both Sybil and Flint gasped. Flint was so shocked, his arms dropped abruptly from Aisha’s shoulders.
“What? What is it?” Aisha was terrified to ask.
Sybil and Flint went mute as the examiner asked, “And why would the girl as you call her, be an obstacle to the Kanda fortune?”
“She- she is the one true heiress to the fortune,”
Aisha was shocked to her that. Not only was she finding out the true motives for the manipulation she had suffered but she was learning that she was the potential heiress to a family fortune that astounded even Flint and Sybil? What did it all mean? What family did she truly belong to? Was it famous or infamous? Were her parents still alive?
“And what connection do you and your sister have to the Kanda family?”
Again, the Vila hesitated and then responded, “It’s our family too. The girl’s grandmother was our half sister.”
It was Aisha’s turn to gasp in shock. So her false angel was family too? How could they have let greed create such blind hate? Aisha had never dreamed of having any real fortune and she’d gladly have given it all up if it meant having a loving family that embraced her for who she truly was. It was sad to hear that her grandmother was presumably no more and even sadder that the only family members she had left wanted her dead just to line up their pockets.
The cross-examiners continued asking all manner of questions but Aisha simply did not pay attention. She was too focused on learning of her grandmother’s passing and wondering whether her father and mother had suffered a similar fate. However, the interrogation was soon over and she and her party were escorted outside where she went about the whole week following the interrogation trying to absorb the truth and running on auto-pilot.
The following week, she decided to inquire further into which family she truly belonged to by asking Sybil and Flint about it.
“Why, the Kanda family is a very prominent and respected family in the Magical Realm and beyond. They revolutionized magical protections for every magical person across the Realms by their invention of protective charms, creatively made into jewelry of all kinds, most of all, pendants. There’s not a witch alive in the Magical Realm that doesn’t have a Kanda charmed pendant around her neck. Your family is also renowned to have some of the most powerful power deflectors in the world. Their contribution during the war on the Evil one was immeasurable but…”
“But what? Please don’t keep me in the dark, Sybil,”
“… but most of your clan died off during the war which is perhaps why Mesi said that you were the last true heiress to the fortune,”
“N- No. You heard her. She said that she and her sister were my grandmother’s half sisters. That means they have a claim to the fortune too. They can keep my half, I don’t care about it anyway. All I want is to know what happened to my parents,”
“Well, they wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble if it were true that they have equal claim to the fortune. You present a threat to them for a reason. I suspect the reason is that they do not possess even a single ounce of Kanda blood either from their mother’s side or from their father’s therefore, you, even from your grandfather’s side that possesses this blood would be known as the sole heiress to the fortune, if there is no remaining Kanda heir or heiress directly descended from a witch of the clan,” Flint explained.
“I’m telling you I don’t care about all that! I just need to see my parents! I need- I need to find them and tell them I’m still alive!” Aisha snapped. All of a sudden, the floodgate of emotions burst and she began to cry. It was unfathomable that her family wanted her dead. Even if her parents were still alive, why hadn’t anyone come looking for her? Did they not care that Aisha was alive? Was the family fortune the only reason any members of her family wanted anything to do with her?
Flint consoled her as best he could and tried to distract her even going as far as to take her out flying that evening when they were alone but it was simply not impressive enough to take her mind off her sorrow. When they returned, they were met with unfamiliar faces waiting for them.
Flint quickly shoved Aisha behind him, ready to protect her from the unfamiliar faces waiting so casually for them to return. One of them, a woman, raised up her hands in presumed surrender saying, “Please sir, we wish you no harm. We are representatives from the Kanda Family in Ankhelion and were graciously informed of a Miss Aisha Soromon being an alleged member of the family.”
“And what’s it to you if I am a member of the family? They didn’t seem to care before. Why does it matter now?” Aisha asked them defiantly, shoving past Flint to glare at the unfamiliar faces.
“Miss Aisha, up until most recently, your family did not know of your existence,”
“How can that be? How could such a rich and prominent family fail to know of my existence?”
“About 21 years ago, a girl was kidnapped from the Kanda family Manor but she was named Imani, not Aisha. She was never found and it was assumed that she died during the time of the war of the evil one. That is why the family has sent us, Miss. It is to determine whether you are indeed, the lost girl,”
Aisha was flabbergasted to learn that she had been kidnapped. A thousand and one questions played in her mind. Could she be the lost girl? Was her real name Imani? And who had sent these strangers knocking on her door?
TO BE CONTINUED…