Leda’s Log. A behind-the-scenes, slice-of-life look into the Legion of Angels, hosted by Leda Pandora, the Angel of Chaos.

Warning: may include abnormally-large cats and adorable baby angels.

Leda and Nero tumble through time and space…and finally find themselves in a weird and wondrous place.

Leda’s Log

Part 15: A Weird and Wondrous Place

Hand-in-hand with Nero, I turned the doorknob to leave the meeting room. But instead of a long, boring tunnel hallway, we found ourselves somewhere else entirely.

We were in a car—no, a truck. It was one of the Legion’s trucks. The uneven, potholed road rumbled and shook beneath the thick, sturdy tires.

Up ahead, the forest opened up into a clearing of three buildings. Two of the buildings had long since run into the ground, but the third was still standing. And from the flickers of light shining through the windows, someone was home.

“How did we get here?” I muttered.

Nero sat beside me in the backseat. He looked just as confused as I was.

“Fall asleep, did you, Pandora?” Basanti chuckled from the front.

She was in the passenger seat. And Mira Ravenfall was the driver.

“Stop the truck and turn off the engine,” Basanti told her.

We all got out of the truck, and suddenly there were many more of us.

“Spooky place,” Ivy commented as she and Drake walked up to me.

They didn’t even look at Nero. It was like they couldn’t see him at all.

“Let’s go, newbies,” Basanti said, keeping her voice low, like she was speaking over a grave.

We stalked toward the forest, keeping to the cover of the trees.

“I know where we are,” I whispered to Nero. “I know when we are.”

The snow was coming down harder now. It was getting difficult to see through the gusts of flurries whistling across the land.

“The Wicked Wilds.”

Nero’s voice boomed in the carefully-kept silence, like a door slamming shut in the dead of night. But again, no one noticed.

“Yes, this was my second assignment with the Legion of Angels.”

“I remember,” Nero said. “You infiltrated a rogue vampire hideout.”

“But we found more than just vampires there.”

Memories of the dreadful scenes that would soon follow flashed through my head. My stomach twisted.

“It’s a trap!” I shouted.

But no one heard.

I ran heavy-footed through the thick snow, trying to catch up with Basanti, to warn her of what was coming. But no matter how fast I went, I couldn’t catch her. I felt like I was running against a moving sidewalk. And then, like a rubber band, I snapped to the front, along with everyone else. We were inside a large central chamber.

“No, not again,” I growled as vampires jumped out of the floorboards, fully awake.

The doors burst open, and witches and werewolves streamed in from the connecting rooms, surrounding us.

Basanti drew her freakishly large sword. Slash. Slide. Cut. Cleave.

The witches brewed.

The werewolves snarled.

The vampires tore.

Drake was wrestling with one of the werewolves.

Ivy’s shrieked. A seven-foot werewolf held her in his claws, his teeth dripping with her blood.

Nero punched the werewolf in the face, and the beast flew across the room.

“This isn’t how it happened,” I muttered as a wave of dizziness shook my body.

I reached out to catch myself, but my grasp turned into a punch. A psychic-powered punch.

Someone caught my fist, then threw me to the ground. I kicked back up to my feet, preparing to strike again.

The man yawned very loudly. “I’ve grown bored of your stubbornness, Leda Pierce.”

In a flash of magic, wings sprouted out of his back. They were a brilliant, iridescent mixture of blue and green, bearing a striking resemblance to a peacock’s feathers.

“You’re not supposed to have wings,” I said, frowning at the angel.

It was Balin Davenport, the Legion traitor. Except his new name was Soulslayer. I just hadn’t known that at the time.

“And you’re not supposed to have magic,” he countered.

No, wait. He hadn’t said that.

“Please spare me the inner monologue,” Soulslayer laughed.

“You’re a dark angel,” I said.

This was all playing out wrong. It was totally out of order.

Blasts of dark magic bombarded me from every direction. I tried to run out of their path, but I was too slow. I tried to resist, but my body was giving out. Fireworks of pain pounded at my head, dragging me into the abyss.

“You are pathetic.” Soulslayer sneered down at me.

And then Nero punched him in the face. The dark angel fell. And his minions faded to smoke.

“Thank you,” I told Nero, clutching his arms for support.

“Always.” He wrapped his arms around me.

The ground disappeared beneath our feet, and then we were falling, falling, falling. An airship burned like a dying sun in the sky above us. Magic sizzled across my back, and my wings flashed out to catch my fall.

“What is going on?” I asked as Nero landed beside me, sprinkling me with a light layer of black, green, and blue feathers.

I caught one of the feathers floating in the air and pressed it to my nose, inhaling his scent. The scent that felt like home. The scent that grounded me, wherever I was.

“I have no idea what’s happening,” Nero said, gazing across the forest-speckled plains.

Monsters were coming. But these monsters weren’t wolves or birds or even dinosaurs. They were trees. The many small forests were on the move.

“They’re coming for us,” I said quietly.

I didn’t have time to react. A deep howl thundered across the expanse. My skin went cold, my body stiff. I looked toward the Fire Mountains. A pack of wolves stood in front of the burning rocks. There were dozens of them, each one as large as a pony. Their eyes burned as red as the mountains’ five fiery peaks.

Nero and I were back in another Legion truck, in another place, in another time.

“Whatever—whoever—is doing this to us, they’re ping-ponging us through time,” I said.

A streak of orange lightning flashed across the expanse, then slowed to match the truck’s speed. A dragon-like lizard was running alongside us. Seven more giant lightning-fast lizards surrounded us. One of them slammed its spiked tail against the truck, and the vehicle jumped like it had hit a massive pothole. The wheels slammed down on the road again, the impact nearly throwing me from my seat. Another lizard readied its tail to hit us, but Nero spun the truck away from the beasts.

“I’m not sure we’re traveling through time,” Nero said.

Gigantic metal men were charging at us. They ran so fast, their feet were on fire.

“Those are supposed to be wolves,” Nero said. “That’s not how this really happened.”

But what was real? It felt like nothing was real anymore. It felt like someone had shoved the last few years of my life into a blender and pushed it up to full power.

The metal giants weren’t men anymore. They were mechanical wolves, a hybrid nightmare somewhere between truth and fiction.

I drew my guns and fired at the metal wolves. But for every wolf I hit, two more joined the fray. They spilled out of the Fire Mountains like a river of fire. I was going to run out of bullets long before the mountains ran out of monsters.

I felt a fluttery sensation in my stomach, a precursor to the next dizzying wave that would catapult us into another time and place, another mismatched montage of different memories from different moments of my life. Each new jolt spiraled us more and more out of control. Each one made less and less sense.

“You’re right,” I told Nero. “We aren’t traveling through time.”

I jumped out of the truck and sprang into the air. Angel wings burst out of my back, as bright as an orange sunset. I hovered over the monster horde, my wings beating hard. My mind was finally crystal clear.

“Stop,” I commanded the monsters.

And they stopped.

“Be gone,” I said.

And they disappeared.

I flew back to the ground, landing on the hood of the truck. Nero had parked it in front of the entrance to the Fire Mountains.

“No, I think I prefer something a little more peaceful,” I said, snapping my fingers.

Then the burning volcanoes were gone, replaced by a quiet lake. Waterlilies floated on the surface. Owls hooted in the distance. A refreshing breeze cooled my cheeks.

“How are you doing this?” Nero asked me. “How are you changing everything?”

“This place,” I said, turning, indicating the ever-shifting landscape, “it’s not real. It’s…well, I’m not sure what it is exactly. It’s kind of like a dream…and yet not a dream. And just like in a dream, once you know it’s not real, you can take control.”

I clapped my hands, and my cat appeared in front of me.

“The pen,” Nero said, his eyes sharp, his voice reflective. “It must have drawn in some of that inter-dimensional magic from our adventure at Storm Castle.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking,” I agreed. “And now we’re in some wacky recreation of the past, born from our memories, formed out of our thoughts at the exact moment we touched the pen and set off this spell.”

“The question is: who cast the spell?” Nero said.

“I don’t know, but we can totally find out. We can control this place, Nero. That means we can make it reveal the person who put us here.” I rubbed Angel behind her ears. “Oh, you like that, girl, don’t you?”

Nero watched me, amused. “You know the cat isn’t really here, right?”

“Angel and I share a special connection. We’re bonded by magic. That means she’s as much here as we are.”

“Yes, but her body isn’t here,” he said as I rubbed the cat’s sides, nice and rough, just as she liked it. “So she can’t truly enjoy what you’re doing.”

“Shall we test out just how much we can enjoy ourselves here?” I asked him, brows lifted.

He chuckled, dark and tantalizing. “Come on, Pandora. Let’s find the evil mastermind who trapped us here.”

Angel let out a meow of protest when I stopped petting her to take Nero’s hand. “Ok, how shall we do this?” I asked.

“Villain, show yourself,” Nero declared, his voice deep, assertive.

His command shattered the scene—literally. The peaceful lakeside panorama broke like a smashed mirror. The jagged shards poured down, revealing the world hidden behind the facade.

We were now standing in an orchard, but it wasn’t like any orchard that I’d ever seen. The trees were heavy with pears and plums and mangoes…but also candy canes, cupcakes, and carrots. There was even a tree full of shoes. And one with meowing kitten statues.

Angel hissed at them.

“Don’t feel threatened by those noisy kitties,” I comforted her. “You’re way bigger than any of them.”

Her ears drew back, and she meowed in appreciation. Or at least I was going to label that meow ‘appreciative’. Honestly, I never had any idea what my cat was saying.

“You’re smiling,” Nero noted.

“Am I?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, I was just imagining how cool it would be to be able to speak cat,” I told him.

“If anyone can learn how to communicate with cats, it will be you, Pandora,” he laughed.

So I decided to give it a try. I bent down and asked Angel, “Which way to the bad guy?”

She blinked at me.

“Come on,” I coaxed her. “I’m sure you can smell him.”

Angel made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a sigh, then she trotted deeper into the orchard. We followed her. And the further we went, the weirder everything got. We passed trees heavy with fashion magazines. Trees with spears for branches and big, red, juicy apples impaled on their sharp, metal tips. There were trees made of glass. And upside-down trees that grew out of the thick, cloudy ceiling.

This place was both wondrous and weird. But most of all weird. Really, really weird.

Angel had stopped at the foot of a very large, very normal tree.

“Now what?” I asked her.

She lifted up her paw and wiped it on the rippled trunk.

“This is no time to clean your paws,” I scolded the cat. “We’re looking for the guy who brought us here.”

Angel rolled her eyes at me. And there was that exasperated sigh again. She tapped the tree.

“The tree?” I asked, frowning. “The great and powerful criminal mastermind behind this catastrophe is a tree?”

I looked at Nero, who shrugged. He didn’t look any more impressed by our nemesis than I was.

“Please,” a voice called out.

“That plea for help came from the tree,” Nero said. He looked like he never wanted to utter anything so ridiculous ever again.

“Help me,” the tree spoke again. “Please, help.”

To be continued…

When your cat is as big as Angel, her cat bed is the size of a house.

Which snippets from Leda and Nero’s tour through time did you recognize from past Legion of Angels books?

And, so, what’s going on with that talking tree? And why does it need Leda and Nero’s help? The story continues in the next entry of Leda’s Log!