Jennie-Lynn, Fran, and I spent the day just talking and watching TV. It was amazing to see how the time flew by.
That evening, we stopped off at Carson’s to pick up some flowers for Molly. We then drove on to her and Dad’s home. Dad let us in. Poor Molly; indeed, she did look like she’d been knocked for a loop. We all wondered if she was coming down with something.
“Daddy, this is Frances Kane,” Jennie said, gesturing toward her, and Dad and Molly greeted her.
Then we enjoyed our dinner. Pizza with everything is a family favorite. Dad and Molly kept staring at Fran pensively; I’m sure they were wondering if I’d brought them a new girlfriend to introduce.
After dinner ended, we went to the living room to talk.
“Daddy, we have something to tell you about Fran,” said Jennie.
“I’m listening,” Dad replied as he and Molly stared at us intently.
Jen and I then launched into our story about our mother’s ancestors and how Frances was a long-lost older sister of ours and daughter of Dad and Mama’s.
Both Dad and Molly looked stunned. “How do you know that book wasn’t all lies?” Dad asked.
“We don’t know for sure, but we can sense it’s true,” I said.
Dad then looked intensely at Fran for a few moments, and I could tell she was a bit nervous. “Frances, I’m sure you’re aware that I found Todd and Jennie and had the confirmation that they were mine, based on a rather unusual story,” he said; Fran nodded. “But in this case it’s even harder to know for certain. Would you object if I ordered blood tests for us to have proof whether you’re my daughter, one way or the other?”
“Not at all, Mr. Scott,” Fran replied. “It’s OK. I find that story a bit on the far-fetched side, myself. But I really hope you are my family. You are all good people!” We all beamed after she said that.
“No matter what happens, Frances, you can consider us your friends,” Dad said with a smile. Molly then turned ashen and ran for the bathroom.
“Dad, you said there was something you were meaning to tell us?” I asked.
“Sure, in a moment, kids.” Dad then shot off toward the bathroom, leaving all three of us in a high state of intrigue. A few moments later, Molly and Dad reappeared.
Holding Molly’s hand, Dad then said, “Children, we have some news for you! Frances is not the only new addition coming to our family!” Wearing a big smile, which he directed at her, he said, “Molly is pregnant! In a few months, you’re going to have a new baby brother or sister!”
I could swear that all our faces hit the floor at that point! A new baby… Molly and Dad were going to have a new baby!
“A baby?” I cried out. “You can’t be serious! I know it’s not April Fool’s day, but come on!”
“No, Jennie, it’s true,” said Daddy as he came over and clasped my hand. “You are going to have a new brother or sister. I wouldn’t joke about something this serious.”
Todd then approached Daddy, then went over to Molly for a moment. “That is great, Dad, Molly! I have to agree with Jen that it’s quite a stunner, but I really am looking forward to having a baby sibling. Congrats!”
“This is great!” Frankie said. “Alan, Molly, I second Todd in offering my congratulations to both of you on the new baby!”
“Thanks, Fran,” Molly said. “That really means a lot to us!”
Dad then took his seat back on the sofa with Molly and said, “Now about this silver ring and lantern that you three found. I wonder about their true purpose! How are they supposed to show you the key to your futures?”
“I sure wish I knew,” I said.
“So do I,” Fran replied, waving her right hand, which still bore the ring.
Then, jokingly, I clasped the lantern, making a fist with my left hand and holding it near the small silver ember inside the lantern. “Maybe I should say your oath, Dad, or perhaps just make a wish?”
Dad looked at me, concerned. “Todd, don’t fool around with that thing. It may be benevolent, but there’s a lot we don’t know about it.”
“I don’t think anything will happen,” I replied. “I could wish for a pile of gold coins, and I doubt they’d just appear.”
“Yeah, they’d probably be silver,” Jen snickered. “But, Todd, like Daddy said, be careful!”
“OK, but I just have a feeling. It will probably amount to nothing, but I want to try one small wish, anyway!”
Everyone then stared at me and the lantern intently. I silently made my wish and removed my hand from the silver lantern.
I had wished I would receive something to help me mentally and emotionally balance out my shadow powers so I’d be more comfortable handling them. Jen and Dad handled their gifts so gracefully that I just wanted to be able to be more like them. But I didn’t seriously expect anything to happen. Still, it never hurt to dream.
“See, everyone? It’s nothing scary. It’s absolutely safe.” But somehow they didn’t look at all comforted.
“Todd, look at your hand!” Fran said, a bit jittery.
I did and got the shock of my life! Somehow, someway, my contact with the lantern caused a pinion of silver flame to appear around my hand. I never dreamed it would be possible for me to have light powers in all my life! It was something I had desired but never thought possible!
Now I knew we had to learn more about this lantern and its nature.
“Now I’m really worried about wearing this ring!” said Fran. “Look at what happened to Todd. And mind you, he just stuck his hand into the lantern; he hasn’t been wearing it constantly.”
I looked at Frankie and then Todd, quite concerned. “I hate to say it, guys, but what if the lantern and the ring are connected, somehow, to you two and your powers? I think it would be best if we returned to Silver Phoenix land and find out what the deal is with these objects from our ancestors there. I’ll get Xyzandra to come and take us back there.”
After I concentrated, a few moments later we heard Xyzandra meowing out front. The five of us then went out to where Xyzandra was seated with a rather unpleasant look on her face. “You just barely gave me time to finish my lunch!” Xy said, somewhat annoyed. “Could you not have waited a few minutes?”
“No, definitely not,” I said as I gestured toward Todd, who was holding the lantern in his left hand. “Show her why, twinnie,” I said to him.
“Sure,” he replied. He then concentrated for a moment and held up his right hand as the silver flame he first manifested mere moments ago reappeared.
Xy’s jaw dropped open. “Oh, my! We honestly didn’t know when or even if this was ever going to happen. I’d better get you kids back in a hurry! Climb on my back, and we’ll be on our way.”
“Think you can carry two more?” Molly said. “If it wouldn’t be a problem, I’d love to see this place, as well as Rose and the others.”
“Hon, I don’t think we should intrude,” Daddy replied, looking concerned. “And in your delicate condition, are you sure this would be safe?”
“Darling, if anything, I’ve never regarded myself as being delicate, and I still wouldn’t, even with me being pregnant!” Molly said, gesturing toward her belly, which had already began to show a slight increase in size.
“No, it’s OK,” said Xy. “I can carry all of you safely.”
Dad helped Molly climb aboard Xy’s back, and then she took off, bearing the five of us.
Xy arrived at Mama’s homeland a few hours later, and the five of us disembarked from her back. I helped Jennie and Fran down. Then I noted my dad helping Molly come down very delicately, like she was an egg that might break with overly rough handling.
Mama approached Dad and Molly. They were both very pleased to see her looking so well, though they knew from our tales she existed only as a spirit, her body being deceased after she killed herself last summer in order to save the rest of us from the Thorn.
“Hi, kids! How are you?” Sylvia asked us as Phoebe approached Xy, petted her, and gave her some food.
“We’re doing good!” Jen replied. “There’s just one thing…”
Althea interrupted, “We sensed what happened with Todd! You want to know more about the silver lantern and ring, too, I’m guessing, because of that?”
“I especially want to know about this ring,” said Fran. “Is it dangerous for me to be wearing?”
“It’s just like you’re psychic,” I said.
Among the things we’d learned about this side of my family was the fact that, not only were these sorceresses very powerful psychics, they were gifted beyond that. The souls of all Silver Phoenix people were superhuman, literally mystical beyond measure. They could sense each other and communicate just by reading what was on each other’s souls. As you might guess, the souls of all these ladies, and indeed me and my sisters, were very closely connected. It was kind of creepy, if you thought about it.
“What we know about the two objects may or may not be terribly helpful, but here goes,” Althea continued. “They, both the lantern and the ring, were created by the third Silver Phoenix, my granddaughter Ellen. They weren’t created to fulfill any special purpose except to commemorate and celebrate our lives. Just powerless trinkets, really. El herself was the first wearer of the ring and keeper of the lantern.” At that, I looked concerned; how could I have gained power from something that had none?
Althea then looked at me with concern before continuing, “But over the years we came to realize there was something special about both objects. In a way, our reverance over both the ring and the lantern gave them a small amount of our powers. Nothing much, really; we weren’t hurt by or even aware of this power-leeching for some time. In fact, as they were passed down from succeeding generation to generation, they came to be looked at as nothing but odd relics of times past, lovely to behold, but other than that, meaningless. So that’s how they came to be lost. One day they just disappeared.
“You may find this weird, but I really think that they had grown a bit of their own sentience as a result of taking a bit of our power,” Althea continued. “They may well have become unhappy with such disregard and fled upon realizing they couldn’t speak out in protest of it.”
“That is too weird,” said Jen. “Unbelievably, really.”
“But then how did I get these silver flame powers?” I asked. “Surely if this lantern is indignant, it wouldn’t want to give me anything unless it’s out of gratitude for finding it! I couldn’t have stolen power from the lantern, could I?”
“I don’t think the ring is hateful,” Fran said. “I’ve only sensed pleasure from it. I guess it was happy to be found.” Her ring then glowed a bit, as if to show approval of what she just said.
“Todd, those powers are likely ones you possessed in a latent form from birth, waiting for a proper catalyst to begin manifesting,” Ellen said. “Obviously, that was the right time, place, and circumstance for them to emerge. Fear not that your body and/or existing dark powers won’t accept them. You’ll need some practice to learn how to use your new gifts, but beyond that, you’ll be just fine.”
“That’s a relief to hear,” I replied, and I could see my family looked comforted, too.