Chapter One: “The Gala Affair”
May 21st, 1921. A wary haze settled over the city of London on this night, as the sky darkened and the clouds rolled in. Lightning strikes illuminated the sky in warning. Kimmora gazed into a gold-framed vanity mirror and applied rouge on the lips and cheeks with a palate of siren reds. Luscious lips pouted back at her and kohl-rimmed eyes were reflected in the mirror. Her lips parted into a smile as she reveled in the glorious festivities that were about to come. Kimmora felt stunning in an elegant corseted red, silk evening gown that was trimmed with ostrich feathers and fell to the floor in ruffles and frills. She placed roses in her brunette hair and pinned the tresses up in curls. A diamond necklace weighed heavily around her neck. Kimmora dabbed on vanilla-scented perfume and grabbed a silver, metallic handbag. The young woman walked down the marble stairs, through the front door, past the elaborate fountain and into the limousine.
“You look absolutely beautiful,” said Charles, her family’s young personal driver. “I cannot believe we just had your eighteenth debutante ball. You are a grown lady now although I must say you really do look a few years older.”
“Thank you,” said Kimmora, as she caught a glimpse of the busy London streets through the window. “Charles, my cousins, the Jansen twins and I, we’re calling a secret meeting tonight during the twins’ debutante ball. We need you to guard the North Tower that’s sealed off in their home so that if the Order has any reason to go there you can alert us. Will you help us?”
Charles pulled at his collar. “Why are you interested in the North Tower?”
“The twins and I overheard the meeting the Order held at the dinner party last weekend and…”
“How could you have heard our meeting? We held it in the utmost secrecy. You may soon be attending Ms. Walker’s Academy of Magic but you’re not supposed to know anything that goes on in the Order until you’re inducted at twenty. Tell me how did you overhear our conversation?”
“Well, you see the twins and I were in the library. They were practicing spells but I decided to do some reading and I found a blueprint hidden in the spine of a book about the Jansen’s home titled The White Oaks Residence. The blueprint showed some secret passageways so we followed one out of a revolving bookcase and it lead us above the dining hall where we could overhear the conversation. We also found the passageway to the sealed off North Tower.”
Charles froze with his hands on the wheel as he stared straight ahead. “So you know what’s in the North Tower?”
“Yes, a magical box that my father and Uncle Ted discovered on one of their archaeological expeditions in Greece. We overheard that the Descendant of the bloodlines is prophesized to discover the box so they want to seal it off and prevent this from happening.”
“That is true.”
“We heard you disagree with them. You said that they should do everything in their power to find the Descendant and return the box to them. That’s why we need your help.”
“Why do you want the box? It is forbidden, you know that. Any action I take to help you would be a direct defiance against the Order.”
Kimmora thought about why she wanted the box. It was curiosity, magic and mystery that compelled her desire to possess the box. She couldn’t explain it but she had an uncontrollable feeling that she had to obtain the box, she felt that her life wouldn’t be complete without it. “Oh please Charles! Will you help us! If this box has the power that the Order says that it has and it truly contains the source of all magic then I need it.”
“It is the source of all magic both good and bad. Both blessings and curses and it is extremely dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.”
“But you disagreed with them, you said it should be returned to the Descendant, we will help you, please.”
Charles fumbled his fingers against the wheel and pushed his unruly black hair out of his face then adjusted the front of his cap. “Kimmora, the Descendant is someone in your family’s bloodline. I have taken an oath of secrecy to the Order. For 2,000 years secrets and mysteries have been passed down through the royal bloodlines of Europe and guarded by the Order. Whole histories are known to the Order but kept secret from the rest of the world.”
“Why is the Descendant in my family’s bloodline?”
“It is because you are descended from the original bloodline of humanity, not just humans but demigods, angels and fallen angels alike. You are more than human and so is your family.”
“Will you help us Charles?”
“Yes, but this must be kept secret. I am helping you because this box needs to be returned to the Descendant regardless of the consequences and I know I cannot do this without you.”
“Thank you! We’re planning to go to the North Tower after the toast at the twins’ debutante ball tonight. Can you meet us there at half past midnight?”
“I will be there.”
This evening the twins’ gala would be the finest for the season in London. All of the members of royalty and the upper classes would be there. Finally, they arrived at the Jansens’ home. They lived in a large stone mansion with vines climbing up the walls and a cast iron gate surrounding the premises. Beautiful stone statues decorated the lawn with stunning replicas of ancient Gods, knights clad in armor, and Grecian statues draped in clothing. A large white gazebo overlooked the pond, where swans floated along the surface.
Kimmora stepped out of the limousine and proceeded into their home and to the ballroom. Big marble pillars surrounded the dance hall and a golden staircase descended down to the floor. An orchestra of instruments played and everyone in the room was swept away, as the music reached a crescendo. Ladies wearing the finest dresses spun around and danced on the floor in the season’s most popular colors: powder blues, baby pinks and soft yellows. They wore lustrous pearls and dazzling gems with feathers in their hair. The sound of boisterous laugher bounced off of the walls and gossip was spoken in whispers across the floor.
“Attention everyone,” said Mrs. Jansen “may I introduce our debutantes for this evening, Charlotte and Estelle.” The room applauded in celebration, as the twins, hand in hand cascaded down the staircase. Charlotte wore a champagne colored dress trimmed with satin flowers that fell to the floor. Estelle wore a short, sparkling gold dress with a pair of shimmery evening gloves. Both girls wore their blonde hair short, Estelle’s hair was smoothed to the side in waves and Charlotte’s was a short bob that fell to her ears. The young gentlemen swooned over them and their dance cards filled up quickly.
As Kimmora and the twins danced at the party, their minds kept circling around the adventure that laid ahead of them. Kimmora imagined the new power that obtaining the box would bring. The idea of this powerful magic seemed so glamorous to her, she felt like she was a movie star awaiting her debut on the silver screen.
The clock struck half past midnight. Kimmora gazed across the dance floor searching for Estelle and Charlotte to give the signal to go to the North Tower. Estelle stood at the top of the balcony overlooking the stairway and flashed the hand signal for the meeting. She pointed downstairs to the secret passageway and there was Charlotte. Kimmora dashed toward the hidden passageway. Estelle came right behind her. The girls pulled forward the statue in front of the secret passage and a door swung open. They strode hurriedly toward the North Tower until they arrived at the end of the corridor.
As they entered the hall to the North Tower Charles spun around the corner, tripped over the leg of his pants and stumbled tumultuously into a porcelain statue. The statue flew across the hall, spiraled onto the floor and shattered into pieces. “There’s a problem,” said Charles breathlessly as he stood up, “the members of the Order have just called a meeting tonight in the North Tower. They’ll arrive at any moment.”
Down the hall they could hear the members of the Order moving
toward the North Tower. The girls stood before the pillar where the statue once sat, their hearts raced and they were swept up in a panic.
“They’ll know someone has been here,” said Charlotte.
“What are we going to do?” asked Estelle.
The twins looked at each other and said in unison, “we have to get that box!”
Charles pulled out his wand and began chanting in a mysterious language. Rays of light shot forth from his wand as the statue pieces came back together and levitated to the pillar. “Quickly, go to the top of the tower, hide in the cabinets on the wall,” he said.
The girls raced up the spiraling staircase as their feet clattered on the stone steps. They gasped for breath as they reached the entrance to the North Tower. The magical box lay right in the center of the room. The girls flung open the cabinets and squeezed themselves into the small, enclosed space.
Soon the members of the Order filed into the room until they formed a circle around the magical box. “Alright,” said Mr. Jansen “we need to place one more magical enchantment on this box to ensure that it remains closed.”
Thirteen members of the Order, including Charles, pulled out their wands in preparation to cast the spell. Their wands were all different, some were made of oak or white birch, some were made of crystals and some were decorated with gemstones and feathers. The diversity of the wands added to the power of the ritual. The Order began to chant the words for their spell. An orb of light surrounded the box until it faded into a perfect circle of protection.
“Okay, we are all done,” said Mrs. Jansen.
The Order left the room in a steady procession, until all of the members were gone, except Charles. Relief passed over the girls bodies. They slowly made their way out of the cabinets, as the pounding in their chests began to fade.
“How are we going to open this box if there are so many magical enchantments surrounding it?” asked Kimmora.
“Do as I say, you are all of the bloodline so you three need to complete this spell.” Charles instructed the girls to hold hands in the shape of a triangle around the box. They closed their eyes and focused all of their willpower on the moment. Magic sparks began to fly between them as they accessed the eternal source of energy and power of the universe. They harnessed the magic of the planets, the Moon and Jupiter and the stars. The elements formed around them, the smooth flow of water, the swift drift of air, the steady pulse of the Earth and the burning passion of fire.
“Repeat these words after me,” said Charles, as they began to chant.
The ground beneath them shook in a fury, the windows flew open, and the magical enchantments surrounding the box flew around the room and zinged off of the walls. Compelled by the magic Kimmora knew in an instant that the force in the box was calling her, saying her name. She touched the box and it burst open. Lightning bolts emanated from the box and flew into Kimmora’s body until she shook violently. She was pulled into the box and fell from a purple glittering sky filled with a silver mist. She soared toward the Earth and landed on a crater of black rocks, her hands stretched above her head as she laid breathlessly. She opened her eyes and gazed above her, vast beings surrounded her. They were majestic and as white as clouds. Then like the roar of thunder she heard the Gods and Goddesses say the word “Pandora.”