The three of them walked into the cave slowly and carefully. China Gray was first, Maya came second and then Ivy took up the rear. Ivy had her guitar at the ready, down off of her shoulder. As much as Maya was curious to see the guitar’s magic, she did not want any trouble in the cave. Maya pulled a ball of dirt and hay out of her bag. She held it in her palm and blew on it. It floated into the air and ignited and started to float above them as they walked.
“That’s a neat trick, Maya,” Ivy said. She plucked one string on her guitar and an impossibly deep note sounded into the darkness ahead. Ivy paused and listened but eventually started walking behind China and Maya.
“It’s the first trick I ever learned. You need fire out there in the wild if you’re going to survive.” Maya said. It was simple to hold the burning flame high above their heads. Maya could do it almost without a thought which was good because she was nervous about keeping her footing.
“Fire is your specialty, huh?” China asked. She was walking almost at the front edge of the pool of light they were in.
“Fire makes me feel alive. Flame and light have always been easier for me to control. So yes, I guess I would call it my specialty.” Maya said with a smile. The stone beneath their feet was so smooth. It was as if millions of people had walked the path they were walking over years and years. However, it was so dark that Maya felt that most people would turn back almost immediately. Still, the three of them plodded onward for what felt like an hour.
“Are we ever going to get there, do you think?” China asked.
“This is unknown territory, Sis. Your guess is as good as mine.” Ivy said.
“Well, what did your guitar say?” China asked.
“Your guitar?” Maya asked. “Does your guitar talk now?” She looked over her shoulder at Ivy for half a moment.
“Magical sonar,” Ivy said. It was obviously a quick explanation but it felt sufficient to Maya. “My guitar didn’t say much which means it could be miles and miles.”
“How far do you think we’ve gone already?” China asked, almost groaning the words out in her impatience.
“About two miles already,” Maya said. She had gotten good at estimating distances out in the wild since Coyote had sent her here and there on errands. “So, just the beginning of our little hike.” Maya smiled but she could almost feel China frown ahead of her.
“I just wish they would stop jerking us around. Ow!” They all stopped, surprised at China’s startled and pained cry. Ivy grabbed her sister and quickly made sure she was alright as China try to push her away, promising she was alright. Maya pushed the flame forward and illuminated a set of polished silver doors. As the light touched the doors, they opened and a strong wind extinguished Maya’s little flame. That was alright because light poured out from the doorway, lighting the three astonished young women.
Beyond the doors was a stylish lobby all done up in black marble with silver accents everywhere. They walked into the lobby and the doors shut firmly behind them. All three were completely out of their element. The council was always shrouded in so much mystery. Maya supposed she had always thought they would preside over something a bit more mysterious. Perhaps it would have some torches and rough-hewn stone.
“Wait, what’s going on? Is this it?” China asked.
“I don’t know. It’s not what I expected.” Maya said.
“Frankly, the feeling is mutual,” Ivy said.
A marble wall opened, revealing a woman standing behind a marble counter. She was wearing a vaguely Italian-style masquerade mask and her green hair was pulled back severely.
“Welcome, my name is Enigma. The Council is waiting for you in chambers.” The woman said with a polite, professional smile.
“Well, I guess that answers that,” Ivy said. “Thank you, Miss Enigma. Just point us in the right direction and we are at your service.” She continued, shouldering her guitar again so it was safely behind her back. China and Maya nodded in the affirmative.
“Please follow the path. There is a bathroom along the way to refresh yourself. I suggest you drink some water. The Council can get long-winded and they encourage you to join in.” Enigma said.
“Wait, what path?” China asked.
Enigma thrust her palm dramatically at the wall to their left and it slowly opened to reveal a hallway. “Good luck,” Enigma said and this time, the smile was a little more genuine.
“Thank you,” Maya said and bowed her head slightly.
“Yes, Thank you,” Ivy said. “Come along, ladies. We’re expected and there isn’t time to dawdle.”
The three of them down the hallway. The entrance slid closed behind them with an eerily soft but ominous thud. They were in the headquarters of their order. It was home to some of the most cunning and powerful beings on Earth. Intimidating did not even begin to cover it.
Maya definitely had to go to the bathroom. Between all of the travel and her nerves being on edge, she really had to go. As she sat on the toilet, she went over the story in her head. She knew she could not leave all of the talking to the Council and China. She had to do Coyote proud. She had worked hard to join the Ishim and she would never back down now that she was part of it all. She splashed some water on her face and stepped back into the hall to meet her new friends. It was time to get down to business.