This is the start of a brand new story. I know it's been a while, but I sincerely hope you enjoy and are able to jump back into the magic with me. This is a continuation on the main Fablehaven series and is non-compliant with Dragonwatch.
As with every single chapter of this story from here on out, Brandon Mull owns Fablehaven and its characters.
"They`re back!" Kendra Sorenson sat up, looking around to see her brother, Seth Sorenson standing impatiently at hedges, bouncing on the balls of his feet furiously. Kendra had gone to the meadow surrounding the fairy shrine to read, having finished her homework and hadn't been able to resist laying down and letting her eyes close for a quick nap in the warm, peaceful meadow.
"Kendra! Hurry!" Rolling her eyes, Kendra scrambled to her feet, tucking her book into the bag she had brought with her and hurried after Seth who was sprinting through the woods. The woods of Fablehaven were bright and lively, creatures of all sizes and shapes occupying them. Brilliant fairies flitted from flower to flower, leaving behind bright bursts of color, making the petals of the flowers shine and sparkle almost unnaturally. Hamadryads darted between their trees, playing games and birds chirped in the branches high about their heads.
Kendra and Seth ran through the woods back to the house, the autumn sunlight lighting the floor of the forest, insects scurrying out of the way of Kendra and Seth`s pounding feet. As the siblings neared the house, two more sets of footsteps joined theirs as two bare-chested satyrs, their good friends, Newel and Doren leapt onto the path, panting lightly.
"Where`s the fire?" Newel asked, jumping from hoof to hoof, looking thrilled at the prospect of mischief. Beside him, Doren stood at attention, eyes glittering beneath his horns.
"Tanu, Warren and Vanessa are back!" Seth responded excitedly. Warren, Vanessa and Tanu had been off on a mission for the Knights of the Dawn for the past 2 months. It was the longest that they had been gone ever since Zzyxx, and they had hinted at the contents of their mission being exceptionally interesting this time around.
Ever since the world had almost ended at Zzyxx, life had seemingly returned nearly to normal, Kendra and Seth going back to school after several months away from it, both with new aliases courtesy of the Knights and their skills. Warren, Vanessa, Tanu and all their other friends were sent to different preserves and sanctuaries to assist in reestablishing all that had been lost through the Sphinx`s scheming. They all reported back to Stan Sorenson, the Captain of the Knights of the Dawn and Kendra and Seth`s grandfather. It had been a little more than a year since Zzyxx and this mission was one of the first interesting things that had happened.
"Well what are we waiting for then?" Doren shouted, just as Newel reached forward and shoved Seth back, shouting, "Last one there is a rotten egg!" Breathless with laughter, Seth regained his balance, following Newel who did not wait for them. Doren however, loitered long enough so Kendra could catch up, and together, they crashed through the woods after Newel and Seth. Kendra knew the satyrs were purposely going slower than they actually could so that Kendra and Seth could keep pace with them. Satyrs were incredibly fast and nimble and had no trouble outpacing a human running at full speed.
As the yard came into view, Kendra was able to catch a glimpse of Seth jumping on Newel`s back, apparently deciding to have joined forces to beat Kendra and Doren in the race.
"Well that`s not fair! Come on Kendra!" Doren shouted, scooping Kendra up in his arms, now running full speed to catch up with Newel. Laughing, Kendra wrapped her arms around Doren`s neck for stability, barely noticing the branches that whipped her arms and legs as Doren ran. It was purely by the luck that Newel, unstable from Seth`s precarious position on his back stumbled long enough for Doren to dash by them and neck and neck, barreling across the magical line that separated the forest and the yard, tumbling to the ground, doing his best to cushion Kendra`s fall.
"YES!" After untangling himself from Kendra, Doren shot up, arms raised in victory, before being tackled to the ground by Newel. The two satyrs tussled playfully for a moment until a shout of disapproval came from the porch of the house interrupted their mock fight.
It was their grandmothers, Sorenson and Larsen, who stood waiting for them. Grandma Larsen had been the one to shout, but both women`s eyes twinkled with amusement. "You have guests waiting for you in the kitchen kids!" Grandma Sorenson called, making Kendra and Seth pick themselves up, calling their good-byes to Newel and Doren who trotted back into the forest, chests stained with green from their tussle in the grass.
Kendra tried to sneak a glance into the kitchen to catch sight of their newly returned friends, but was headed off by Dale who pointed both her and Seth upstairs to change and shower, as both were now sweaty and covered in grass and dirt stains. Seth headed off to use the bathroom in the hall, while Kendra continued up to the attic where she and Seth slept, and straight into their new bathroom. The bathroom had been a welcomed addition made by a combination of the brownies and the wizard Agad, while rebuilding the main house after it was destroyed. Kendra had expected, after being lucky enough to have had their own rooms their entire lives, that she and Seth would have torn each other apart living in the same room full time, given that they had moved to Fablehaven fulltime. But, surprisingly Kendra didn't mind it at all, and Seth didn't seem to either. The installation of a curtain to give them some privacy when they wanted had helped, as had the fact that after Zzyxx, it made Kendra feel better to know that there was someone else with her. She suspected Seth felt the same way, though she knew he would never admit it.
After a quick shower and running a brush through her hair, Kendra went down the kitchen where something smelled wonderful.
"You finally shower?" Dale teased from the living room, where he and Grandpa Larsen sat watching football.
"Yes I did, thank you very much!" Kendra shot back, rounding the corner into the kitchen, leaving Dale and her grandfather chuckling behind her. At the kitchen table, Warren and Tanu sat, drinks in front of them, laughing with Grandma Sorenson who was stirring something in a pot on the stove.
"Warren, Tanu!" Kendra exclaimed, rushing around the table to hug them both.
"How you been kid?" Warren ruffled her hair as she hugged him, making her jerk away.
"Good. You?" Kendra replied, taking a seat beside Tanu at the table.
"Fine. All limbs intact." Tanu joked.
"Really? Boring!" Seth drawled from the doorway of the kitchen, dodging Grandma Sorenson`s playful smack to his shoulder.
"Seth go on and set the table please." Grandma Larsen walked in from the dining room to the oven, pointing at the silverware drawer. As Seth groaned and complained from his new job, Kendra looked around for Vanessa, who seemed to be absent.
"I`ll do it Grandma." Kendra stood, walking to the silverware drawer and pulling out knives and forks, and before Seth could rejoice, Grandma Sorenson interjected.
"Perfect! Seth, you can help me carry the food to the dining room!" Leaving behind Seth`s groaning and Warren`s teasing, Kendra entered the dining room and set the table, noting that the table had been expanded to accommodate their new additions. Even though Grandma and Grandpa Larsen, and when Kendra and Seth`s parents were at Fablehaven, lived in the mansion down the road, and most nights, Dale slept in his and Warren`s cabin, the family always gathered for mealtimes.
Done with her job, Kendra set off through the house, determined to try and find Vanessa, who she had not yet seen. It didn't take long to spot her, as she stood on the back porch texting on her cell phone.
"Vanessa, hey!" Vanessa started, whipping around at high alert. When she spotted Kendra, her shoulders relaxed slightly, and her mouth curving into a gentle smile.
"Hi Kendra. It`s good to see you." Vanessa reached out and gave her a gentle hug.
"You too." Kendra walked to stand beside Vanessa, both turned to face out to the yard. "Everything okay?"
Vanessa looked surprised for a moment before the quiet smile returned to her face. "Mostly. We`re home which is good."
Kendra nodded, quietly reveling in how Vanessa had unconsciously called Fablehaven her home. After they had all returned from Zzyxx, Vanessa begun living full time at Fablehaven, and no one had disputed it. At that point, it seemed natural. Vanessa had earned her freedom. She had gone to the end of the world for them. Vanessa had confided in her that it was strange to be living among the people she had betrayed, and then been imprisoned by, but now, Vanessa seemed relaxed. Happy even, as she looked out at the garden and the setting sun.
"Have you talked to Bracken lately?" Vanessa turned abruptly, her expression serious.
"I talked to him last week." After Zzyxx, Bracken had kept his promises, and despite being busy rebuilding the fairy realm, he visited every two weeks. "Why?"
"Did he say anything about any strange occurrences happening on his end?" The strain in Vanessa`s voice made Kendra look at her a little bit harder. She looked fine, her face schooled into a perfectly neutral expression, but Kendra knew her too well to let that fool her.
"No. Why?" Kendra repeated, watching Vanessa closely.
"No reason." Vanessa turned back to the yard, avoiding looking her in the eyes, the tension returning to her shoulders.
"So when you said things are mostly okay…" Kendra trailed off.
"I meant mostly." Kendra nodded, feeling comfortable enough to let silence overtake them.
It wasn't long until Seth popped his head out of the sliding glass door to let them know dinner was ready, looking more mischievous than usual.
"What are you up to?" Kendra asked Seth as they all walked inside to the dining room.
Seth put a hand to his chest, looking offended. "What makes you think I`m up to something?"
"Because I know you. What is it?" However, before Seth could say anything, Grandma Sorenson was already chiding them to sit down and eat.
Dinner was a lighthearted affair, Vanessa who had seemingly snapped out her bad mood, Warren and Tanu regaling them with funny stories of their travels. But at the back of her mind, Vanessa`s words lingered, making her think of the old bracelet of hers that Bracken had enchanted to become a communication device. Should she talk to Bracken? Ask him if he knows anything?
Grandpa Sorenson cleared his throat, all conversations trailing off as they gave him their attention. "I don't mean to be a downer, but there are some less desirable topics that I feel we must discuss. Most of you are aware of this, but I feel sharing all we know with one another is important. Kendra, Seth," Grandpa turned his attention to them. "I must admit, I`ve been trying to keep the two of you out of this for as long as I could. I felt that you two have been through enough, that you deserved some sense of normal, especially after what happened last year. But you are both full-fledged members of the Knights of the Dawn and have arguably been through more than most adults have."
Kendra glanced at Seth, who answered. "We can handle it Grandpa. What`s wrong?" He asked, seeming surprisingly serious. It was moments like these when Kendra wished that her brother had never had to go through all the things he had. While those things had forced him to be mature, Kendra knew that his maturity came at the steep price of his innocence and whimsy.
"Over the past several months there have disappearances within the magical community. For seemingly no reason at all, creatures have disappeared from their preserve, with no sign of them leaving or being taken. Now this phenomenon has been rare, only a few creatures being affected by it across the globe. But I`m afraid that recently, things have changed." Grandpa exchanged glances with Tanu who took over.
"Originally, the mission we went on was only supposed to last two weeks. It was a mostly standard mission, assisting down in Obsidian Waste, but while we were on our way back here, we got an emergency call from a nearby preserve."
"Which preserve?" Kendra asked.
"Falling Branch Preservation in Vermont. It`s relatively small and most of it doesn't even house magical creatures."
Tanu glanced at Grandpa, then at Grandma, but it was Warren who spoke up.
"Last Tuesday, in the middle of the night, there was an explosion that ripped the main house apart. But it wasn't a normal explosion."
"What do you mean?" Kendra leaned forward, now fully entranced.
"There was no bomb, or explosive or fire that could have caused it. Something exploded inside the house and ripped it apart, but we don't what that something is. Some of the creatures who witnessed the explosion described a cloud of darkness that surrounded the house for a few moments afterward."
"A cloud of darkness?" Seth sounded as skeptical as Kendra felt. It was one thing to suspend disbelief, especially considering the world they lived in, but what Warren described sounded almost… cartoon-like.
"It gets stranger. There were seven people inside that house when it exploded, but no remains of any kind, or any evidence that they were there at all were found. Almost all explosions, no matter what they are, leave a trace of what they destroy."
"So what?" Seth asked. "They disappeared?"
Grandpa nodded solemnly. "We know for a fact they didn't leave the preserve, and the entire preserve was searched backward and forward. No one knows where they are."
Kendra sat back in her chair, thinking hard. Did Bracken know anything about this? And if he did, why didn't he tell her?
"So what happens now?" Seth asked, crossing his arms thoughtfully.
"We investigate. There`s significant evidence to link this event and the disappearances together now, and since the explosion last Tuesday, I`ve been getting more and more disturbing reports of dark activity, defenses in preserves falling for no reason at all and more creatures going missing." Kendra`s heart squeezed for Grandpa who had to deal with all this.
"Does this mean we get to skip school tomorrow?" Seth`s voice was cheerful and excited and Kendra could tell Seth was trying to cut some of the tension in the only way he knew how.
Grandma looked disapproving. "No, of course not. Your parents would have our heads." Kendra couldn't help the sting of pain that remark caused. Kendra personally hadn't seen her parents in over two months, as they spent most of the year traveling the world for the travel company they worked for. They went on long trips to remote and foreign places, taking pictures and writing articles to be printed in a monthly magazine and posted online on a blog.
The meal finished in relative silence, and since Grandma Sorenson and Larsen waved away Kendra`s offered help and Seth slunk off to the attic, she followed him to their room. The curtain was closed, indicating that Seth was probably brooding, so Kendra kept quiet, not bothering him.
She packed up her backpack, got ready for bed and climbed under covers, a book in hand. She had just opened it when Seth spoke.
"Do you think Mom and Dad know?" The question wasn't unexpected, but the empty tone Seth used made Kendra`s heart turn.
Kendra considered her answer. She knew that their parents loved her and Seth, and if they had asked they would have asked them to stay, they would have in a heartbeat. But the again, she knew living in Fablehaven was hard for them. They had spent so much of their lives utterly oblivious to magic, that the abrupt way they had found out had traumatized them deeply.
Kendra decided to be direct, hating that she wasn't able to offer any sort of reassurance. "No, probably not."
"Do you think they`ll ever accept this?"
Kendra pulled her blankets up, settling into her pillows, putting her book on the nightstand. "I hope so."
Seth was silent for a long, so long that she thought he had already fallen asleep, but the whispered response eventually came. "Me too."
After a few more minutes, Seth`s even, deep breathing told her that her brother was now safely asleep. But for Kendra, sleep did not come for a while, as she turned the new developments over in her head. Bracken, the darkness, the disappearances, her parents, but eventually, even Kendra found peace in sleep.
And there`s the first chapter! I can`t wait for you all to see the rest of it, and I am so excited to tell this story!
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed in the past and I hope you come back for more.
My plan right now is to be posting 1-2 times a month on all of my stories, so expect chapter around mid-January of 2020!
Merry Christmas, I hope you all have an AMAZING holiday!