“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
“The strong survive, but the courageous triumph.”
“The day we stop learning is the day we die.”
“Ah. In my experience, when people say they don't know whether they love someone, they usually mean no. But in your case I'm not so sure. You still have feelings for her." -Virginia Dare”
“So you should be able to see them clearly in your imagination. We always find it easier to visualize what we fear; it's what keeps us afraid of the dark." -Virginia Dare.”
“The promise given was necessity of the past: the word borken is a necessity of the present" -Niccolo Machiavelli”
“Knowledge itself is never dangerous, it is how that knowledge is used that is dangerous”
“Who was it who said, 'The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present'?"
The Italian looked quickly at the American immortal and then he dipped his head in a bow. "I do believe I said that once...a long, long time ago."
"You also wrote that a prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise," Billy said with a grin.
"Yes, I did say that.You're full of surprises, Billy."
Billy looked from the city to the Italian. "So what do you see-faceless masses or individuals?"
"Individuals," Machiavelli whispered.
"Reason enough to break your promise to your Elder master and a bird-tailed monster?"
Machiavelli nodded. "Reason enough," he said.
"I knew you were going to say that." The American immortal reached out and squeezed the Italian's arm. "You're a good man, Niccolo Machiavelli."
"I don't think so. Right now, my thoughts make me waerloga-an oath breaker.A warlock."
"Warlock." Billy the Kid tilted his head. "I like it. Got a nice ring to it. I'm thinking I might become a warlock too.”
“He's never fired a gun in his life," Palamedes said. "He abhors weapons."
As Palamedes spoke,the group could see Shakespeare put the tonbogiri to his shoulder,then jerk three times.
Two of the attacking vimanas spun out of control,both of them crashing into two more. The flour flaming craft spiraled into the sea.
"But then he's always been full of surprises," Palamedes added.”
“I need something dramatic.I thought we would start with something theatrical, something that will make an impact on the city,something to focus their attention."
Nereus considered for a moment and then he smiled, revealing his hideous teeth. "I do have the Lotan."
Machiavelli and Billy looked at him blankly.
"The Lotan," Nereus said.
The two immortals shook their heads. "I have no idea what that is," Machiavelli admitted.
"Doesn't sound scary to me," Billy said.
"It's a seven-headed sea dragon."
Machiavelli nodded. "That might work."
"It'll certainly get their attention," Billy muttered.”
“The Alchemyst had discovered that the seats revolved and had been amusing himself by swinging back and forth. His chair squeaked with each turn.Finally Prometheus turned and glared at the immortal. "If you do that one more time, I'm going to feed you to the Lotan myself."
"And I will help," Niten added.”
“Are you coming with us?"
Black Hawk laughed. "Are you insane, or do you think I am? One immortal and three Elders,heading onto an island of monsters. I know who's not coming back from that trip."
Mars worked his head from side to side, easing the stiffness. "He's probably right-he'd slow us down."
"I'll be right here," Black Hawk said, "so that when you all come screaming back here,I'll be able to get you off the island."
Even Hel laughed. "We'll not come screaming to you."
"Have it your way.I'll be here,though. For a while,anyway," he added with a grin.
"I thought you would want to rescue your friend Billy," Mars said.
Black Hawk laughed again. "Trust me, Billy never needs rescuing. Usually people need to be rescued from him.”
“Marethyu stretched out his right hand and Aten took it in his. "Let me tell you this," the hook-handed man said. "We will meet again,you and I,in a different place and a different time."
"You know this to be true?"
"Because you have seen the future?"
"Because I have been there.”
“Was this how you were going to awaken the creatures?"
Machiavelli,clutching the bars of his cell,smiled but said nothing.
Virginia stood in front of Dee and stared into his eyes,using herwill to calm him down. "So you tried to use the pages to awaken the cratures.Tell me what happened."
Dee jabbed a finger into the nearest cell. It was empty. Virginia stepped closer and discovered the pile of white dust in the corner.
"I don't even know what was in the cell-some winged monstrosity.Giant vampire bat,I think.I said the words,and the creature opened its eyes and immediately crumbled to dust."
"Maybe you said a word wrong?" Virginia suggested. She plucked a scrap of paper from Josh's hands. "I mean,it looks difficult."
"I am fluent," Dee snapped.
"He is," Machiavelli said, "I will give him that.And his accent is very good too, though not quite as good as mine."
Dee spun back to the cell holding Machiavelli. "Tell me what went wrong."
Machiavelli seemed to be considering it; then he shook his head. "I don't think so."
Dee jerked his thumb at the sphinx. "Right now she's absorbing your aura,ensuring that you cannot use any spells against me. But she'll be just as happy eating your flesh.Isn't that true?"he said, looking up into the crature's female face.
"Oh,I love Italian," she rumbled. She stepped away from Dee and dipped her head to look into the opposite cell. "Give me this one," she said,nodding at Billy the Kid. "He'll make a tasty snack." Her long black forked tongue flickered in the air before the outlaw, who immediately grabbed it,jerked it forward and allowed it to snap back like an elastic band. She screamed,coughed, and squawked all at the same time.
Billy grinned."I'll make sure I'll choke you on the way down."
"It might be difficult to do that if you have no arms," the sphinx said thickly,working her tongue back and forth.
"I'll still give you indigestion."
Dee looked at Machiavelli. "Tell me," he said again, "or I will feed your young American friend to the beast."
"Tell him nothing," Billy yelled.
"This is one of those occasions when I am in agreement with Billy.I am going to tell you nothing."
The Magician looked from one side of the cell to the other. Then he looked at Machiavelli."What happened to you? You were one of the Dark Elders' finest agents in this Shadowrealm. There were times you even made me look like an amateur."
"John,you were always an amateur." Machiavelli smiled."Why, look at the mess you're in now.”
“What have you done, brother?" Anubis snarled. "You have betrayed us."
"I did what I had to do to save the world."
"Chain him," Anubis commanded. He looked at his brother and his stuff face managed to twist and contort in rage. "Waerloga,"he spat.
The Elder nodded in agreement. "Aten the Warlock. It has a ring to it, don't you think?”
“Don't take me for a fool!" Dee interrupted angrily, but then had to lean over the boat as another bout of nausea gripped him.
Virginia grinned and winked at Josh. "It's hard to sound masterful when you're throwing up, isn't it?"
"I hate you, Virginia Dare," Dee mumbled.
"I know you don't really mean that," she said lightly.
"I do," he croaked.”
“And Prometheus was flying directly toward them.
William Shakespeare shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Now, I've never been a warrior,and I know little about tactics,but shouldn't we be flying in the other direction?" They were close enough now to see the wide-eyed anpu in the nearest craft.
"We will," Prometheus said. "Just as soon as the missiles explode."
"Which missiles?" Shakespeare asked.
"The two just behind us.”
“Sophie, what will you do to help Josh,to save him, to bring him back?" Tsagaglalal asked.
"Anything. Everything." Perenelle leaned forward to place both forearms on the table. Her hands were tightly locked together, knuckles white with tension. "And Sophie, what do you think I will do to help my husband?"
"Anything," Sophie said again. "Everything."
"We will do anything-everything-to help those we love. That is what seperates the humani from the Next Generation of the Elders or those who came before them. That is what makes us human.That is why the race thrives; it is why the race will always survive."
"But that type of love requires sacrifice," Tsagaglalal said slowly.
"Sometimes extraordinary sacrifices..."
The old woman's gray eyes suddenly swam with huge tears.
And Sophie had a flickering memory of a woman-younger, so much younger, but with the same high cheekbones and gray eyes of Tsagaglalal-turning away from a tall golden statue. The woman stopped and looked back, and Sophie discovered that the statue's bright gray eyes were alive and were following the woman. Then Tsagaglalal turned and raced down endless glass stairs. She was clutching a book in both hands: the Codex. And her tears dripped onto the metal surface.”
“Virginia," Billy said urgently. "Don't do this."
"Think of the people in San Francisco."
"I don't know any of the people in San Francisco," Virginia answered, then paused. "Well,actually I do,and I don't like them. But I do like you,Billy, and I'm not going to allow you to end up as lunch for some raggedy lion-monster-thingy."
"A sphinx," Machiavelli corrected her. He was standing at the bars again. "Mistress Dare," the Italian said carefully. "I absolutely applaud you for what you want to do for your friend. But I urge you to think of the bigger picture.”
“Megalodons," Prometheus announced, pulling the Rukma higher and higher, little fountains of water spilling from the leaks in its sides.
"They were at least thirty feet long!" Scathach said.
"I know," replied the Elder. "They must have been babies.”
“Nothing. I have no way of getting in touch with Machiavelli."
Virginia produced her wooden flute and spun it in her fingers. "I don't know why you're so worried, Doctor. I can easily lull them to sleep with-"
Before she could finish her sentence a green-skinned, green-haired, fish-tailed woman had leapt straight up out of the sea, snatched the flute from Virginia's fingers and splashed back into the water on the opposite side of the boat, leaving her empty-handed.
Virginia Dare's scream was hideous. Flinging off her smoke-stained jacket and pulling off her shoes,she launched herself over the side of the boat and disappeared beneath the waves without a trace.”
“The craft passed directly below Scathach and she released her grip and dropped onto the top of the vimana alongside Joan with enough force to send the larger craft plunging down. The French immortal laughed. "So nice of you-"
"Don't you dare crack any dropping-in jokes," Scathach warned before her friend could finish.
The vimana dipped and spun, but the two women had firm grips on the transparent dome and held on while the pilot tilted the craft,attempting to shake them off.
"So long as he doesn't get too close to the lava," Scatty said, "we should be okay."
At that moment the vimana dropped straight down, zooming dangerously close to the lava's sluggish bubbling surface.
"I think he heard you," Joan said, coughing as the air became almost unbreathable.”
“Here it comes," Niten said. The whites of his eyes,his teeth and his tongue had turned blue.
"Ready," Prometheus said.
Nicholas Flamel touched the green scarab he now wore around his neck and felt it grow warm in his hand.The spell was a simple one,something he had performed a thousand times before, though never on such a large scale.
A red-skinned head broke the surface of the water...followed by a second...and a third...and then a fourth head,black and twice as large as the others appeared. Suddenly there were seven heads streaking toward them.
"Let's hope no one if filming this," Niten murmered.
"No one would believe it anyway." Prometheus grinned. "Seven-headed monsters simply do not exist.If anyone saw it,they'd say it was Photoshopped.”
“What are you storing up there?" Virginia Dare yelled from the stairwell below. The immortal was outlined with a translucent green aura that lifted her fine black hair off her back and shoulders like a cloak.
"Just a few small alchemical experiments...," Dee began.
A thunderous explosion dropped the trio to their knees. Bits of plaster rained down from the ceiling and a heavy smell of sewage filled the stairwell.
"And one or two big ones," he added.
"We need to get out of here.The entire building is going to collapse," Dare said. She turned and continued down the stairs, Dee and Josh close on her heels.
Josh breathed deeply. "Am I smelling burning bread?" he asked, surprised.
Dare glanced back up at Dee. "I don't even want to know what that smell is coming from."
"No,you don't," the doctor agreed.
When they reachd the bottom of the stairs,Virginia flung herself against the double doors but bounced off them. They were padlocked, a thick chain woven through their handles.
"I'm sure that breaches a fire code," Dee murmured.”
“Hi," she said. The gloomy interior of the car lit up with a warm green glow and the scent of sage filled the air. Virginia rubbed her forefinger and thumb together, and in the mirror, Josh saw a tiny ball of green energy appear. She flicked the ball at the motorcyclist.
"You missed!" Dee snapped.
"Patience,Doctor,patience," Virginia said.
The rubber on the bike's front tire abruptly crumbled to black powder. Spokes collapsed, the wheel buckled and the bike careered across the road, the front forks scraping a shower of sparks from the concrete. Then the bike hit the low restraining wall on the bay side of the road and the rider was catapulted over it, disappearing without a sound.
"Subtle,as always, Virginia," Dee said.”
“John,be reasonable," Virginia said. "I've known Billy a very long time, and we have had some great adventures together. He's as close as I have to a friend.When he dies, which he will,sooner or later,because he can be so stupid," she added, glaring at the American immortal, "it should be with a degree of dignity,rather than being fed to this...this thing."
"Thanks," Billy wheezed.
"You're welcome.And you owe me."
Virginia turned back to Dee. "I'll make a deal."
"For what?" he demanded.
"For Billy's life," she said evenly.
"Do you forget who you're dealing with?" Dee snarled.
"Do you?" she asked softly.”
“It's been open about a year now.And it is one of my favorite places in the city."
"You never told me," he said, sounding surprised.
"So even after all these years,we can still surprise one another," she teased.
He leaned over and kissed her quickly on the cheek. "Even after all these years," he said. "So enlighten me-how often do you come to this place?"
"Five,maybe six times a week."
"Every morning when I'd leave the shop,I'd usually walk down to the Embarcadero,amble along the promenade and end up walking the length of this pier.Where did you think I was for that hour?"
"I thought you'd popped across the road for coffee."
"Yea,Nicholas," Perenelle said in French. "I drink tea. You know I hate coffee."
"You hate coffee?" Nicholas said. "Since when?"
"Only for the last eighty years or so."
Nicholas blinked,pale eyes reflecting the blue of the sea. "I knew that.I think."
"You're teasing me."
"Maybe," he admitted.”
“The only consolation we have is that few of those will have active weapons either," Prometheus told them.
Palamedes looked over at Scathach. "When you say 'few...,'" she began.
"Some will be armed," Prometheus clarified.
"Incoming!" Saint-Germain yelled. "Two of them have launched missiles."
"Sit down and strap yourselves in," Prometheus commanded. The group scrambled to get into the seats behind him, and he added, "We're too slow to outrun them, and the smaller ones are infinitely more maneuverable."
"Is there good news?" Scathach demanded.
"I am the finest flier in Danu Talis," The Elder said.
Scathach smiled. "If anyone else said that I would think they were boasting. But not you,Uncle."
Prometheus glanced quickly at the Warrior. "How many times do I have to tell you-I'm not your uncle."
"Not yet,anyway," she muttered under her breath.
"Everyone strapped in?" Prometheus asked. Without waiting for an answer, he brought the triangular vimana straight up into the air, then flipped it back, so that the ground was directly overhead and the sky below them, before he leveled it off and the earth and sky resumed their normal positions.
"I'm going to throw up," Scatty muttered.”
“This is getting tedious," Dee muttered. "Drive on. Turn right into the yacht club. I have an idea." He looked at Virginia. "Can you stop them?" He jerked his thumb at the cyclists.
Virginia Dare gave him a withering look. "I have stopped armies. Or have you forgotten?"
"I doubt you'll ever let me," he sighed. Then he stuck his fingers in his ears.
Rolling her window down, Virginia placed her flute on the edge of the glass, took a deep breath, closed her eyes and blew gently.
The sound was appalling.”
“It looks deserted. Does anyone live here anymore?"
"Yes.As a matter of fact, I actually have some friends who live on the other side of the island."
"I didn't think you had any friends," Dee grumbled.
"Unlike you, Doctor, I am a good friend.”
“If, Your Highness, is a word that will steal your soul. Do not waste your thoughts on ifs. What is done is done. Look to the future.”
“The other day, one of the big shots was trying to say ‘Nice shoes!’ and he accidentally told a government minister that his face looked like a butt wart. Not good.”
“Even the moon is only poetical because there is a man in the moon.”
“Still, I’ve always believed—still do—that the radical is far more interesting when it looks benign and ordinary on the outside.”
“And there’d be no point: Why would he give his life over to this, if it were not for the notion that he could do something great?”
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