Saturday, December 12, 2015
Of Magic and Mayhem
It should have worked. It always had at home. Whenever her brothers had been at each other's throats, her father in one of his stormy moods, she and her mother would spend hours in the kitchen orchestrating a culinary feast. And when her mother's mind began to slide, she had taken over, soothing their ruffled feathers with full bellies and jovial conversation, not to mention an abundance of liquid libation. She couldn't remember a time when that hadn't done its job. Until tonight.
Worse yet, she couldn't pin it on any one thing. It was as if each one of them were hanging on the edge of some emotional cliff, ready to fall off without a bit of warning, and not having the slightest clue as to how they should save themselves. There was a strange tension in the air, and if she had been thinking clearly, she would have changed her plans for a nice cordial dinner the moment she'd laid eyes on her husband. Ted had seemingly come out of no where, strolling down the stairs from the Master Suite with a controlled air of indifference. His hair was still damp, and he was dressed in a pair of faded fatigues, a snug white t-shirt, and some type of worn military style boots, a combo she'd never seen him in before.
When or how he'd returned back to the cabin was unclear, but it certainly hadn't been through the front door. That said, it was clear there was some other hidden entrance and exit to the cabin, a fact he hadn't bothered to share with her despite his big lecture the night before on the need for honesty between them. It made her feel less guilty about keeping her new found ability a secret, especially after witnessing how Kevin had gone off the deep end about the whole thing. Still, had she been thinking clearly, she would have seen her husband's GI Joe fashion statement for what it was...a bona fide call to battle.
Though his face was a calm mask, the Ridre Dubh was obviously not thrilled to see the Lord Warrior, Cu-Chulainn, sitting comfortably on his sofa, an arm casually draped across its back and much too close to Roxanne's shoulder. His expression appeared benign, but Maureen had noticed the prominent little vein on his right temple, a "tell" she'd learned in their short relationship signaled he was more than a bit perturbed. From his position on the sofa, the Irish legend was genial enough, but his eyes held a steely sense of reserve, also assessing Ted's choice of attire for what it was.
Beckett stuck out a hand, a thin smile that didn't meet his chilly eyes. "I see you will be joining us for dinner, Lord Warrior. I officially welcome you to my home...and my hospitality."
His choice of words were not lost on Maureen, or the warrior himself. Among the Fay, an offer and acceptance of hospitality meant that no harm or injury could be brought to any party under the roof. It was a call for truce, and once accepted, an unbreakable oath. Cu-Chulainn returned a similar smile and stood, gripping Beckett's hand in his. "I accept your offer of hospitality, Sir Knight. May peace reign in your lodgings."
That should have been enough to prevent any further problems, but the testosterone level in the room seemed to rise along with the conversation. Maureen inwardly groaned when Ian, who was barely holding his temper, suggested a game of cards to wile away the time until dinner. She knew from general knowledge of Celtic mythology that the Lord Warrior loved nothing more than an opportunity to gamble, and a game of poker had disaster written all over it. Before she could politely put a stop to it, the beautiful table she had set for dinner was quickly dismantled, the four men grimly gathered around it for some serious card playing.
The Ridre Dubh's Lady had hoped for some female support from Roxanne, but her friend seemed bogged down with issues of her own. Rox had arrived several minutes earlier, flushed and shaky, unable to string more than a few words together. She had not been invited to participate in the game, yet was quite content to sit on the sofa, mesmerized by the action at the table, her eyes darting back and forth between the players like an affection starved puppy. It was all very strange, and had she not been distracted by both dinner and the trouble brewing at the card game, she might have figured it all out before the whole thing blew up.
It wasn't long before Ted pulled out his Jameson Special Reserve, making an already violate situation worse. Though dinner was ready to be served, none of the card players seemed the least bit interested in breaking up the game, and at the Ridre Dubh's request, she found herself making up individual plates of food that the four men shoveled into their mouths in between hands. Roxie had passed on the meal entirely. She had pulled up a chair to the end of the table, her head in her hands, totally oblivious to anything but the game and players in front of her. Somewhere after the pasta course and before dessert, Cu-Chulaiin made the inappropriate suggestion to up the ante, offering the zombie like Roxanne as the prize. It was at that point she expected her husband, or at least Kevin, to call for reason and stop the whole damn thing, and when that didn't happen, she knew something was terribly, terribly wrong.
She opened her mouth to speak, but caught a look from her husband that clearly indicated he wanted her to remain silent. And if Kevin understood the implications of the situation, he wasn't giving her any indication of it, being totally engrossed in the hand he was dealt. It wasn't until Ian put down a Royal Straight Flush that all hell broke loose. Both the Lord Warrior and Fr. Kevin jumped from their chairs, calling Ian a cheat, and sweeping away the cards. Ian took obvious issue to the claim, screaming that he had won Roxanne fair and square, and swinging wildly at both men. It took Beckett shooting a round from his Glock into the cathedral ceiling of the cabin to get anyone's attention, and the melee suddenly ended as quickly as it had started.
Cu-Chulaiin swayed on his feet, the effects of too much Jameson and an overdose of adrenaline. He gruffly made his apologies to the host, and then disappeared into a cloud of smoke, leaving behind an embarrassed Ian and a mortified Fr. Kevin. With the Lord Warrior gone, Roxanne seemed to gain back some of her own self cognizance, blinking several times, and then retiring to her room. She was quickly followed by her two admirers, both of whom had expressed feeling strangely fatigued and most odd. Maureen stood speechless, waiting for an opportunity to discuss the whole crazy evening with her husband, who had no intention of doing any such thing. Tucking the Glock back into the waistband of his fatigues, he headed out the front door, claiming the need for some fresh air, and suggesting she not wait up for him.
He figured he'd been walking nearly two hours, having made two full sweeps of the perimeters of his property. As usual, the woods seemed darker than he remembered, more overgrown and...alive, for lack of a better word. The time alone outdoors had helped. He felt calmer, more centered than he had since his ass whopping earlier in the day. The sting of embarrassment was still there in tiny increments, but had been mainly replaced with rational thought. Beckett climbed the stairs to his cabin, and instead of heading inside, took a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs on the porch, bracing his feet against the railing.
There was the now familiar clicking from the brush to the left of him, and out scuttled the large spider, heading right toward the stairs. He moved his hand slowly toward the Glock, and whispered, "Come on, you hairy bastard...I'm not afraid of you."
"Such falsehood, Sir Knight...when we both know that statement is untrue."
The voice came from the arm of the chair next to him, the Fairy Queen sitting on the edge of it with her feet dangling down. Beckett grunted. "Well, well...look who's finally decided to show up. Come to gloat, have we?"
She reached out a tiny hand and gave the fleshy part of his arm a sharp pinch. "You are most disagreeable, Mortal. Is there ever a time when you are not sullen? Your disrespect and constant whining is quite tiresome. Why are you out here pouting and not with your Lady?"
"My Lady is none of your concern, Your Majesty. And I'm not pouting."
She sighed, and continued. "No...I guess you are not. It is quite encouraging to see that you have moved on from your shaming this morning. It is a good sign that your training can now begin in earnest. I am glad to see that you have progressed to this point so quickly, as time grows short."
"Well...not that it matters what you think, but yes...I do feel a sense of focus I lacked up until now. I presume it is your doing?"
"My doing, Sir Knight? How do you mean? Your emotions are your own entirely."
"Don't try to con a con, Your Majesty. I'm well aware that all the craziness going on around here is your work."
"Craziness? I do not understand what it is you describe, Ridre Dubh."
"So you haven't noticed the strange behavior exhibited by the five of us? I don't believe that for a second. Everyone's emotions have spiraled out of control. My wife and her brother aren't even speaking, which if you know them is totally out of character. They finish each other's sentences, for Christ sake. Ian, who we normally can't get to shut up, can't seem to string three coherent words together, and Roxanne, whose gotta be the most together woman I've ever met, well...she's like some kind of stray cat in heat. This is your doing, isn't it? Some kind of fairy spell
for your own personal amusement."
The Queen stood up, and flew over to the railing in front of him. "Understand this, Sir Knight. I have placed no spell on you or your companions. On that you have my word."
"Then it must be that jar head asshole you brought here with you."
"I'd be careful on how you address the Lord Warrior, my Knight. You have tasted his sword, and he will only shrug off so much of your disrespect before he loses patience. He understands fully what it is we face, and he would no more endanger our objective than cut off his own head. He is not the cause of your discomfort."
"Then who is behind this nonsense, if not the two of you? Is this coming from Owen as a way to keep us from moving forward."
"Creator be praised, Mortal! You are sometimes so stupid, I shudder to think that our Fate is in your hands. You understand nothing! When Owen comes, he will not fight with spells that confuse. No, my idiotic Knight...he will seek only to destroy you, and our way of life as well. Your emotional problems are yours alone."
"Ours? How so? I can't believe all of this is our doing."
"And yet it is. Our presence here... Fay energy of any kind...works to magnify all that you already possess. The things you are feeling...the secret desires of your soul...are yours alone. We act as a transmitter for them, making them more obvious then your human mind will allow."
"Are you telling me that this will continue as long as you are here?"
The Queen shrugged, a strangely human gesture on one so very not human. "I'm afraid that is correct, Sir Knight."
"Can't you turn this ...this energy thing off. At least while you're here?"
"That is quite impossible. We can not turn off our aura anymore than you can stop breathing. It is who...what...we are."
"So things...all of us...are going to to be just like we were tonight."
She nodded, and then added. "But as we spend more time together, your human brain will learn to adjust for our presence. Or at least I believe it will. It may take a bit more time for things to...reinvent themselves."
The Ridre Dubh thought for a moment, recalling the behavior he witnessed over the past few hours, and mumbled under his breath. "Well, isn't this just fuckn' dandy. It'll be like high school all over again."
Dr. Owen Ryan unlocked the door of his home, agitated and out of breath. A message from his apprentice, unannounced and unexpected, couldn't mean anything good. And the timing was more than lousy. He was close. Of that he was sure. A few more trials and he'd finally accomplish what none before him had been able.
He walked through the dark house, not stopping to turn on any lights, but seeing as clearly as if every bulb blazed. It was one of the side effects that came as a bonus, a recessive gene that he had been lucky enough to stumble upon. Below him, he could feel the energy of life growing in the line of petrie dishes and test tubes, proof enough that all he wanted was nearly in his grasp.
The raven was perched on a shelf behind the incubator, an envelope in his beak. With all the technology available, it annoyed him he was forced to resort to this type of communication, but with the monitoring of the digital world by every government organization in the world, he couldn't risk even the slightest chance of discovery. Not when he was so close.
He tore open the envelope and read the note inside, streaming a long line of obscenities as he did. Then with a shudder of rage, he tossed the note in the air where it disappeared in a flash of flame and smoke, and hurried back up the stairs, cursing with every step.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved