Jennie-Lynn and I spent a few blissful days with our mother and the other ladies. We lived in the crystal house that was our mother’s, ate wonderful food, and explored the idyllic land we were now in. If there was any real form of paradise, this most assuredly was it.
During that time we learned about their true nature. All of them, including our mother, existed only in spiritual or mystical forms, since they were physically deceased. That frightened me and Jen for a bit, but we recovered quickly. Althea explained that the reason we could see and feel them as if they were fully alive was due to the close connection between their souls and ours.
“But how?” Jen asked. “Is this real, or is it only a dream? Are Todd and I sleeping?”
“No, this is real, my darling,” Mama replied. “You and Todd are awake! There is an important reason why you were brought here, even beyond being reunited with us.”
“What is it?” I asked. “Is there something wrong? Do you need our help?”
“No, no, baby! Everything is good here with all of us, even better since you came,” Mama said.
“Let me speak,” said a mystic dressed in violet who identified herself as Sylvia. She was a striking black woman who said she was our great-great-grandmother!
“Sure, go right ahead,” Mama replied.
“Thank you very much, Rose,” Sylvia said, then flashed our mother a warm smile. Sylvia turned to us and began, “Children, there are two very important mystical objects scattered out in your world. They serve as both symbols and talismans for our family. We all believe they also hold the key to your future!”
Jen and I looked briefly stunned, but we listened to Sylvia attentively. “What objects?” Jen said. “There have got to be gazillions of magic objects on Earth!”
“They are a magic lantern and a ring,” Sylvia said.
“You don’t mean…” I said, thinking of my father’s famed green lantern and ring.
“No!” Sylvia replied. “The Green Flame is your paternal birthright, but this is something that is a legacy from your maternal side. The Silver Flame is the behest of your mother’s family; hence the lantern and the ring you search for will both be silver.”
She continued, “Both also bear the symbol of the Silver Phoenix. The lantern has two silver phoenixes, one engraved on each side! The ring has a signet of a tiny silver phoenix. With your connection to the power, you will know beyond doubt when you have found the objects.”
“But wow, to search the world for two small objects! That could take forever!” I replied, concerned.
“Not nearly!” another mystic named Phoebe said. “Besides, we have made arrangements for someone to help you!”
Jen and I looked around the mystic ladies and wondered who our helpers would be. We saw Phoebe gesture as if she were calling someone over. Then we saw the most amazing thing approach — a large creature who had the head, legs, fur, and eyes of a cat, with a line of scales leading from her posterior onto a long tail that resembled that of a dragon! Her body was smoke gray and her large, almond-shaped eyes were bright green.
“Hello Jennie-Lynn, Todd!” the cat dragon purred as she approached us. “I am Xyzandra, the mystic dragon of life and hope!” she said. “I have many gifts and hope to be of great help to you!”
“We’ll be glad to have your help. It will be our honor,” Jen said.
“I second that!” I replied, noting that the great Xy was on our side. I’d hate to have an enemy that big! I thought.
Todd and I talked to the mysterious cat dragon Xyzandra. She was a mystical being hundreds of years old and had been a friend of our ancestor Phoebe since the latter was a child. Xy had been quite young back then herself, so she and Phoebe had practically grown up together.
We realized we had to begin our search for the Silver Phoenix lantern and ring ASAP! We bid our mother and family a sad but fond farewell, saying we’d return once we found the objects! They waved at us as we departed.
Todd and I climbed atop Xy’s back, and she flew off to help us find the lantern and ring we needed. Our ancestors had told us that we’d get a strong feeling when we approached the objects. That kind of spooked Todd, which amazed me, since he was the one who presented me with the book that had first led us on this adventure.
Xy continued flying through a beautiful sunrise with us on her back. “This is absolutely breathtaking!” Todd said with a smile as we rose up into the sunrise.
“I agree, twinnie! This is just great!” I replied.
Xy flew us over the USA, and we had a strange feeling when we approached a certain cavernous area out west, not far from the Grand Canyon. We told Xy to land in a deserted, mountainous area. To most this would seem indistinguishable, but when I saw the trestle bridge nearby, I knew where we were almost immediately.
“This couldn’t be… Jen, could it?” Todd gasped.
“Todd, I think it is,” I replied.
“This is the place where Dad’s train crashed,” said Todd, “where he found his green lantern.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Green Lantern, All-American Comics #16 (July, 1940).]
“Oh, my…” I said. We both felt a very strange feeling at that moment.
“Why would the silver lantern come here?” Todd said. “Could someone have put it here as a joke?”
“I don’t think it’s any joke, twinnie!” I said as we began searching the grounds. “Maybe it came here because of the connection this place has to us. Mom and the others said the lantern and ring had a strong connection to our souls,” I continued. “So maybe they came here because it would be easy for us to find them.”
“Good observation, Jennie!” said Xy, who was helping us search the grounds.
“Jen, Xy, come over here!” Todd called out suddenly.
We saw a small shine peering out from under some stones. We moved the stones and discovered the shimmering silver lantern we had been looking for. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. We quickly searched the area for the ring, but we could not see or even sense it, so we knew our search would have to continue. Still, it was getting dark out and we were tired, so we set up camp for the night. We had our dinner and then went to sleep.
“Good night, Jennie!” Todd called.
“Good night, John-Boy, er, Todd!” I called back.
I was joking, of course. We both had a good laugh before we went to sleep.
Blue Valley, Nebraska:
It was a rather brisk, late winter day. A young woman was cleaning her family’s large home when the doorbell rang. I’ll get it, she thought as she ran to the door. “I’m coming!” she shouted toward the door. As she opened it, she saw a rather ghostly female figure standing there. She was stunned silent as the mysterious spirit spoke to her.
“You are Frances Kane, aren’t you?” she said.
“I a-am,” Fran stammered, “but who are you? How did you know who I am?”
“I am a friend, Frances!” the spirit lady continued. “There is something I need you to look out for.”
The ghost then gestured toward town. “Out there is a special mystical object you must find and protect! I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but when you find it, you’ll know!”
“What does this object, whatever it is, have to do with me?” asked Frances. “Why do you want me to protect it?”
The ghost answered, “Frances, it is hard to explain, but this magical item is the key to your future. Others are looking for it. They mean no harm. When they come, listen to them. As with the object, you’ll know when the two of them have approached you. I’m sorry to have to cut this short, but I must be going now, Frances! A bright future is on the horizon for you. It all begins at the tip of a finger.” As she concluded and began to fade away, she gestured toward Fran’s ring finger on her right hand.
“What was she talking about?” Fran thought aloud. “What is this object? How will I find it, and why must I protect it? She said two strangers would be coming for it. And all this has to do with my future? I don’t know what to do, where to begin looking, or even if this is worth my worrying about!” She sighed. “I have to go to town to get some things from the supermarket anyway, so I think I’ll walk; it’ll do me good and allow me some time to think things out.”
Fran got some grocery bags and started heading down the road, so distracted that she didn’t even realize she was heading in the exact direction the ghost sorceress pointed. Fran then felt her left foot kick an object.
I bet it’s just an old can, but I’ll have a look anyway, she thought.
Fran then looked down and saw not a soda can but instead a beautiful, shining silver signet ring. The ring’s symbol was a strange-looking silver bird. Fran picked it up and held the ring in her right hand.
“My God, this couldn’t be what my ghostly visitor was talking about, could it?” Fran said as she felt waves of something like power flowing through her body.
After that experience, she knew she hadn’t just found a lost piece of costume jewelry. She placed the ring on her right ring finger, did her shopping as quickly as she could, and then returned home to contemplate all that had happened and await her two strange visitors.
Frances Kane waited for days in her Blue Valley home. There was no sign of her mystery callers, and she began to wonder if her ghostly visitor had lied to her.
She had gone back to her life as normal, and she was in the process of selling her family’s large home. Living there with the memory of her dead parents and brother was just too painful. Her dad and brother had perished in a car accident caused by her first power manifestation, one that she couldn’t control. Her powers helped her survive, but she still carried guilt that she couldn’t prevent that crash. Her mom blamed Fran for the accident, believing her to be an agent of the devil. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: For the Earth-One version of this tale, which differs somewhat, see “The Possessing of Frances Kane,” New Teen Titans #17 (March, 1982).]
And only weeks ago, not long before she died of heart disease, Fran and her mom had been able to make peace. Her mother apologized for her misunderstanding, and Fran forgave her. They had a few happy days before the elderly woman’s life came to an end. Fran now felt it best to move on with her life. She put her house up for sale and had set up to move into an apartment in town.
Still, her thoughts wandered back to her strange encounter and the ring she had found. She thought often thought to herself, When will they come?
Jennie-Lynn and I continued our travels with Xyzandra. We’d searched for the ring all over the world for days, including Asia, but had come up empty-handed. “I guess we weren’t meant to get this ring so easily after the way we found the lantern,” I said.
“I guess not, Todd, but this is getting annoying!” Jen replied. “We checked all the spots related to the Starheart and Green Lantern’s travels and have nothing to show for all that work! It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!”
Xy sighed and then tried to reassure us, her passengers. “Don’t worry, children. We will find that ring! We musn’t give up hope!”
To help lighten the atmosphere, I said jokingly while winking at Jen, “Hey, Sis, suppose someone else found the ring?”
Jen laughed, then replied, “Perish the thought, twinnie! I don’t think that ring would call out to anyone else. I bet it’s just buried somewhere. We’ll sense it when we get close.”
“Back to the U.S., then, kiddies?” Xy asked.
“Sure, let’s go!” I replied.
We flew across the Pacific Ocean after ending our last check in Japan and opted to have Xy do a flyover of the connected forty-eight U.S. states.
But it would turn out not to be fully necessary. As we approached the center of the country, Jen and I felt a slight tingle, which told us we were nearing the ring.
We all laughed as we saw where we were approaching — Blue Valley, Nebraska. On Earth-One, as we recalled the Flash telling us during the Crisis, it was Kid Flash’s town, a hero who was famous for his own ring! I really wondered sometimes if someone was toying with us in the choice of hiding places the mystic objects took, but it wasn’t that much of a big deal.
We’d swoop down to Blue Valley, find and snatch up the ring, and then we’d get to go back to Mama and the others.