Chapter 10: The Necklace

“Well!” Tamara said indignantly to her sister, approaching Tabby where she stood unobtrusively off to the side of the town hall reception room. “Athena just gave me the cold shoulder.”

“I don’t see that that’s so strange,” Tabby said blandly, sipping the weak lemonade supplied at the event. She wasn’t sure why she had let her sister talk her into attending this open house at the town hall–that wasn’t her style at all–but it probably had to do with being bored with Thomas out of town.

“For you, maybe not,” Tamara said with a smirk. “I was just telling her how exquisite her necklace was, but she just gave me a look and walked away! I gave her that necklace! Talk about gratitude!”

“Hmm,” said Tabby unconcernedly, wondering how much longer it would be before Thomas texted her back.

“Look, there she is,” Tamara continued, indignant, regardless of her sister’s lack of interest. “Did she just snub Becca? What is up with her?”

Tabby rolled her eyes. Tamara had to be so dramatic about every little thing. “I’m sure she’s fine. Just chill.”

“Hmph!” said Tamara. “Well, the two of us seem to be in the same boat.”

“What?” Tabby was taken aback at the implication that the sisters had anything in common at all.

“Our dates–or lack thereof,” Tamara pointed out. “Beauregard is tied up with the catering, and Thomas is out of town on mysterious business, which you’ve been very close-lipped about.” She gave her twin a censorious look.

“It’s something about his old job,” said Tabby guardedly.

“His old boss’s court case, you mean?” said Tamara with a shrewd look.

“You know about that?”

“Oh yes, everyone does; that reporter chick with the Gazette tells anyone willing to listen. Or unwilling, for that matter.”

“Great,” Tabby sighed. “Well, he doesn’t like to talk about it, so don’t press me for any more details because I don’t know any!” she said huffily.

“He doesn’t confide in you?” Tamara looked aghast.

“Look, it sounds like I’d rather not know, so I’m happy with it that way,” Tabby said, frowning and feeling a bit uncomfortable. But she didn’t want to admit to her sister her own fears to that effect, knowing there was a significant swath of his life he was silent on and she had only rumors to guess at what he had or had not done.

Fortunately, Tamara was distracted as she looked down at her phone. “Ooh, Liv’s performance is about to start,” she noted. “I want to see how she’s incorporated the style tips I gave her. Let’s get a good spot.”

“It seems like your friends are covering most of the entertainment jobs at the party,” Tabby pointed out, walking with her sister. “You sure there’s no favoritism going on, with you being BFFs with the mayor’s daughter?”

“Athena will be the first to tell you that she has no influence whatsoever over her mother,” said Tamara. “I have good taste in friends, is all.”

“Whatever you say.”

* * *

“Hello, Athena,” said Tabby as their paths crossed after the performance, which Tamara had deemed a success and Tabby declared was “okay” but the strobing lights had been a bit much.

“Oh, it’s you,” said Athena bluntly, turning to face the unicorn with a sneer.

It wasn’t entirely out of character given their history, though Tabby thought they were on better terms these days. “Nice party, huh?” she asked to further gauge her attitude, not because she cared one way or another.

“A rather pathetic affair,” said Athena with a deep sigh.

That was when Tabby noticed the necklace, a stylized bronze face in the style of Atlantean artifacts. “That looks–” She reached out, holding the medallion for just a moment before a shock caused her to jump back.

“Keep your hooves to yourself,” snapped Athena, and stalked off.

“Tamara!” Tabby whined, making her way back to her twin, rubbing her hoof that was still tingling from contact with the medallion. “Why are you giving away Atlantean relics instead of saving them for me?”

“Hmm?” said Tamara, who was checking her reflection in a mirror compact. “Oh, you mean Athena’s necklace? It’s a reproduction by Honeylight. I can get you one if you like it that much.”

“No, it’s legit,” Tabby argued. “The weight–the tarnishing–I’d put it late Kaliopean era. It’s real Atlantean. I could sense it.”

“I wonder… did Clara mix them up?” Tamara considered. “Maybe she gave me the original and kept a copy.” She shrugged. “Well, whatever. It doesn’t matter. There’s always more of that stuff washing up on the beach. I’m sure you’ll find one.”

“Not like that,” grumbled Tabby. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous example of Kaliopean craftsponyship. Do you have any idea how hard that era is to find? It dates from the fall of the Empire! A medallion that size, it was probably meant for royalty. Maybe even Queen Kaliope herself.”

Tamara shrugged. “Maybe she’ll let you borrow it sometime,” she suggested. “If she ever gets out of this mood she’s in.”

“I think that’s just how she is,” Tabby muttered.

* * *

Beauregard noticed Liv slinking off after the performance, and left the refreshment table in the hooves of his underlings to go after her and see what had the normally vivacious mare down.

“Why–what’s wrong, sweetheart?” he asked, catching up to her in a secluded alcove (which always seemed to pop up at a convenient time). She was elegantly blowing her nose into a tissue.

“Oh, I don’t want to burden you with my problems,” she said, her eyes shining with tears.

“All I’m hearing is how great the show was. Everybody loved you. What’s the matter?” asked Beauregard, puzzled.

“It’s not about the show,” Liv admitted. “I had to keep my spirits up to get through it, but now that it’s over, I just–can’t!”

“Tell me,” said Beauregard, taking her hoof in his.

The tears in Liv’s eyes poured out. “My immigration application was denied!” she cried, leaning against him for support.

“Well, that’s just nonsense!” Beauregard was indignant. “What were they thinking? You and Belen are the sweetest girls I know.”

“Belen is fine. They approved her,” Liv said, sniffling. “It’s some silly thing from when I was a filly–caught shoplifting on a dare–that’s the only time, honest, I learned my lesson. But they cite that as their reason.”

Beauregard was thoroughly dismayed. “Surely you can appeal the decision!” he insisted.

“There’s no time,” Liv said. “I’d be deported by the time anything was settled. And I can’t go back–I can’t! Churro would surely find out, and then…” She was unable to continue, fully convulsed in tears.

“We won’t let that happen,” Beauregard assured her, squeezing her hoof. “Don’t you worry. Have you talked to Tamara? There’s got to be someone she knows who can help.”

“Tamara’s already done so much to get my career off the ground,” Liv said. “I don’t want to burden her with this, too.”

“Tamara has the biggest heart, and I know she’ll do whatever she can,” Beauregard said encouragingly. “Let’s go find her now.”

* * *

“Tabby,” Toby said pleadingly, “can we talk? I need your help.”

“With what?” Tabby was thrown off guard. She’d noticed her ex-suitor from across the room several times, but he seemed to be continuing the trend of avoiding her, which was fine with Tabby.

“Something’s wrong with Athena,” Toby hastened on to explain.

Tabby felt relieved that it was not something involving her personally, but was a little confused as to why he was coming to her. “Why does everyone complain to me about Athena’s moods?” she asked, perturbed.

“It’s more than a mood,” Toby insisted. “Last night, Theodora jumped up on her lap and she tossed her across the room–she dotes on the creature; you know that!”

“Hmm,” said Tabby, but reserved judgment. She did not have as high an opinion of Athena’s standard behavior as her friends did.

“And there’s this note that she just scribbled on a napkin.” Toby hoofed it to her.

“A note?” Tabby’s brow crinkled, not understanding how this could involve her.

“Just look at it. What do you make of it?” Toby asked anxiously.

Tabby’s face blanched as she studied the blocky scrawl. “This is Atlantean,” she said slowly. “Athena doesn’t know Atlantean.”

“Exactly,” Toby said. “Can you translate it?”

“Something like…” Tabby’s brow furrowed as she concentrated. “Instructions, plans–it’s a list, I think–crekothos, that’s a kind of power source–I’m not familiar with most of these words,” she admitted, starting to get a bad feeling.

Toby looked at her, befuddled. “What possible reason could she have for writing a list in Atlantean?”

Tabby was silent for a moment as the facts started to fall into place. This was starting to look like a possession by an Atlantean spirit, who were notorious for being… cranky. And, she realized with dismay, by touching the medallion, her unicorn magic had likely given the entity an energy boost. She had been too excited to think about putting the proper protections in place. But maybe they could still head this off at the pass before things got out of hoof. Where had the silver pegasus gone? Tabby frowned. 

“Can you do something?” Toby asked, breaking into her thoughts.

Tabby hadn’t mentally prepared herself for this sort of activity tonight, but she supposed she would have to do something. “I’ll look into it,” she said slowly. “If I can find her.”

Toby frowned. “She was just here… what do you think is going on?”

“She’s got an Atlantean spirit attached to her.”

“Oh,” said Toby faintly.

A quick search of the premises by the two did not reveal Athena’s presence anywhere. As they reconvened to share their lack of results, Tabby tapped her hoof thoughtfully. “We’re going shopping,” she announced abruptly.

Toby looked taken aback. “What?”

“Well, if Athena or… whoever… is shopping for parts, she… they… will head for Butch’s shop. Everyone knows that he’s the best source for Atlantean tech for miles around,” Tabby quickly explained. “Let’s go.”

* * *

Tamara was greatly dismayed about Liv’s news. “Well! Tabitha told me she took care of that,” she said. “She probably didn’t know how to talk to Linda. Let me call, and I will take care of things, okay?”

“You’re the best,” said Liv, appearing to be greatly overcome by the consideration.

“There, it’s all going to be alright, like I told you,” Beauregard said encouragingly, giving Liv a pat on the shoulder. “Now, who wants to go out for ice cream?”

* * *

“Athena, um, she’ll be okay, won’t she?” Toby looked at Tabby questioningly on their walk through the night streets of Misty Hollow, which weren’t known for hoofpads but were somewhat eerie nonetheless.

“Oh, yeah, she’ll be fine,” Tabby downplayed his concern. She gave him a sideways glance as she debated asking what was on her mind. “Are you happy with her?” she asked abruptly.

Toby was silent for a moment. “I understand her, I think,” he said at length.

“I am sorry for leading you on, you know,” Tabby said with uncharacteristic meekness.

“You’re going to marry him, aren’t you?” Toby asked softly.


“Just tell me–if it hadn’t been for Thomas–would you…” Toby trailed off.

“Don’t get caught up in might have been,” Tabby cautioned.

“Right,” Toby said, smiling weakly.

They arrived at Butch’s shop, ordinarily closed at this hour, but the front door was hanging off its hinges, so they let themselves in. They found the proprietor on his knees, picking up assorted bits of metal and carved rock from the floor in front of a counter that appeared to have been upended.

“Well, our illustrious mayor’s daughter was just here, burst the door off the hinges,” Butch announced, shaking his head. “Started spouting off about weak, mortal flesh and cast a paralysis spell on me. Said this was nothing but junk, and did this!” He gestured all around at the mess.

“She did all this herself?” Tabby asked, feeling a twinge of unease. This was shaping up to be a powerful entity.

“I’ll have you know I have some very fine merchandise!” Butch, a consummate sales pony, insisted. “Take this clatruna, for example.”

“Ooh, that is nice,” Tabby said, distracted by the shiny jewel in a decorative setting, an Atlantean talisman said to ward off evil. “How much?”

Toby shifted on his hooves uncomfortably and tried to avoid touching any of the merchandise, which likely held untold germs.

“I’m telling you,” Butch rattled on, ringing up the purchase, “I will think very hard before voting for Mayor A. in the next election, if this is how her offspring treats us.”

“Right, right,” said Tabby, with more pressing things on the mind than local politics. “Any idea where, er, Athena was going after this?”

“Said something about a pompous fool of a professor being her best bet,” Butch said helpfully.

“Ugh, not that guy,” Tabby muttered. 

“Who is it?” Toby asked.

“Dr. Shane. He’s that professor of Atlantean history and, um, there was that incident where he had his DNA merged with a whale’s.”

“Oh, that guy,” Toby recalled.

“I don’t suppose he’d be at his office this late, but I don’t have a home address.”

* * *

“What are you doing here?” barked Dr. Shane, who was pulling himself up off the paper-littered floor as Tabby ran into his office at the university. “I should have known you were involved in this!”

“It’s not my fault!” Tabby said heatedly.

“All I know,” Shane said, glaring at Tabby, “is that I was accosted by one of your friends–”

“We’re not friends!” Tabby was quick to point out.

“–who absconded with a very significant map of the Atlantean colonies,” continued Shane, “that is the subject of ongoing research.”

“And you just gave it up?” Tabby scoffed.

“She was using some kind of mind control,” said Shane, scowling.

Tabby pursed her lips. The amulet, besides housing a spirit, was also allowing Athena to wield mystic powers. Paralysis, strength, mind control–not to mention ill-temper–this was shaping up to be a rather daunting spirit.

“Where’s she going now?” she demanded of Shane.

“Seeing as the colonies are islands, the harbor, I would assume,” Shane said, adding almost inaudibly, “you fool.”

“She could take a plane,” said Tabby.

“Where is the nearest airport to any of the Atlantean colonies?” Shane asked in exasperation.

“She has wings. She could fly herself.”

“The physical fortitude necessary for a journey of that length–! No.”

“Well, I dunno, if she can do all the other stuff, maybe she can teleport, too.”

“Then you run into the same issue,” said Shane in exasperation. “The spirit doesn’t have an unlimited power source; there are limitations, hence the need for a robot body.”

“Robot body?” Tabby echoed.

“Yes, you nitwit! What did you think she’s after, a toaster oven?” shouted Shane.

“Well, in any case, she’s been burning through a lot of magical energy; now is a good time to take her down,” Tabby observed, stepping out into the hallway that was lined on one side with a railing overlooking the glass-paneled student center below.

“You’ll only make things worse,” Shane said, shaking his head.

“Looking for me?” Athena suddenly popped up from around a corner, her voice strangely distorted. “I’ve just come from the hippology lab, where there were some very useful artifacts to get my energy levels back up.”

“Not the Diadem of Shriknar!” shrieked Shane, his elongated cetacean face turning red with rage.

“You MORON!” Tabby aimed at the professor. “How can you just have that laying around for any passing Atlantean spirit to take advantage of!”

Shane glared at her.

“Maybe we should discuss culpability later,” Toby spoke-up, gesturing at Athena, who was eyeing the group with derision.

“Oh,” said Tabby. “Right. Why don’t you just, uh, let my acquaintance go.”

“Believe me, I’m as eager as you are for me to leave this frail body behind,” Athena–or whoever was controlling her–said. “But it’s a necessary encumbrance until I have brought about the means to assume my true form.”

“Robot body. I told you,” Shane said, pointing a fin at Tabby.

“I suppose you think you’re clever for figuring that out?” chuckled the spirit.

“Look, are we gonna fight, or what?” Tabby demanded.

“You’re the one wasting time arguing with your cohorts. But, as you wish,” laughed not-Athena, lifting a hoof, a glowing orb of energy coalescing out of the air.

Tabby put up a protective shield of her own to defend against the sudden onslaught of magical energy.

The shouting and subsequent blast had served to bring some attention to the standoff from below, where students were beginning to gather around, whispering and pointing up at the balcony.

“I am Nur-Ab-Fin, a true mage of Atlantis, unlike you who just plays party games,” taunted the spirit. “How long can you withstand these attacks?” He let out a maniacal laugh as he unleashed another blast.

Tabby’s back hoof slipped, and she almost lost her balance with the onslaught of magic pummeling her. It was taking all her energy to keep the shield up; how was she going to launch her own attack? This was much more potent magic than she had ever faced before.

She completely lost her hoofing, and found herself flying back through the air, slamming into the glass wall of the student center. She crashed through the glass, and continued airborne into the pond beyond. The remaining panes of glass warped and collapsed, resulting in a horrific crash.

Wincing, Tabby righted herself, standing up in the shallow water feature, and wiped algae off her face. The journey through the glass had left some significant gashes in her flesh, which she healed with the last bit of magic in her reserves.

Toby came running. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Tabby, nonetheless a little out of breath. “Where is she?”

“I… I’m not sure,” Toby said, looking around but only seeing excited groups of students pointing and chattering excitedly. “I think she’s gone.”

“I think we’re going to need backup,” Tabby reluctantly admitted, feeling absolutely drained of energy. “I’ve got to call Tamara.”

“Tamara’s your backup?”

“No, but I need her to buy us some time,” Tabby said, pushing buttons on her phone with shaking hooves. “Tamara, I need your help!” she shouted as her sister answered. “You were right–something is off with Athena–she’s possessed by an Atlantean spirit from that necklace you gave her,” she rapidly explained.

“That Clara! You’d think she’d have enough sense to cleanse the relics of spirits,” Tamara said, obviously perturbed.

“Yeah–well–you’ve got to keep her at bay until I get help,” Tabby said. “You’re friends; you can appeal to her better nature or something.”

“Wait, what?” sputtered Tamara. “What am I doing?”

“I don’t know; Shane thinks she’s going to the harbor; just don’t let her leave!” Tabby pleaded, and then hung up. “We need to see Fr. Isaac,” she said, turning back to Toby. “He already thinks I’m irresponsible with magic, but…” She did some things on her phone, but eventually gave up, shaking her head. “He’s not answering.”

* * *

Tamara ended the call, and shook her head. “As usual, Tabitha is in need of my particular skill set,” she announced grandly to her companions. “I must go.”

“Is everything alright?” Beauregard asked, turning his head reluctantly away from Liv.

“Oh, you know Tabitha,” said Tamara vaguely. “You two stay and finish your ice cream.” With that, she was on her way.


To be continued