Telekinetic knives swirled around me, while I held the telekinetic rapier in my hand. Kevin moved in with a shout, slicing downwards towards my head. His sword moved gracefully around his body, deflecting my knives and breaking past my defences. I moved my body to the side, swaying my upper body but holding my feet firmly in a defensive, sure-footed stance. I parried his swing and then thrust my leg out and kicked Kevin in the stomach. He grunted and stumbled back a few feet. His sword arm swung around his body as he was pushed back, outside my spinning defensive knives, deflecting them until his feet finally found purchase.
Kevin gave me a cocky grin as he readied himself for another round. He raised his sword until the sunlight glinted off it and it's light flashed into my eyes. I heard the sword whispering as Kevin changed his stance. I had learned earlier on that Kevin was very good at using his body to give false signals about what he was going to do next. I relaxed in preparation for his next move.
Something changed within Kevin. He didn't grow taller or anything, but there just seemed to be more of him now, as if his charismatic presence had grown exponentially. I sensed that strange energy flow beneath the surface of his skin, and he came for me.
There was a gleam in his eyes as his moves became more precise and deadly. His attack came so fast that I was moving backward in the first few seconds. His smile became fierce as his movements sped up even more. His sword kept hitting my rapier and the energy and power behind it jarred my bones.
I gritted my teeth. I didn't want to hurt him but I knew he meant business the way he was swinging that sword. I drew on my tree of talents and pushed more energy into my warrior. My speed increased and I blocked and parried his blows. Kevin's grin grew wider and I felt a jolt of unease creep through me. This was only meant to be another sparing lesson, but so far Kevin had been trying to attack me with intent.
"Kevin, I think we should stop right now."
A harsh gasping sound came from his mouth and his attacks continued. I needed to stop this right now. That fucking sword had done something to my rational Kevin. I pulled my swirling knives in close to my body, which meant Kevin was distracted momentarily.
I launched myself high into the sky. Kevin looked up as I continued using my knives to keep him on the defensive, and his smile grew wider. It chilled me to see it; this was not my Kevin staring at me.
"Baby, can you hear me?" I shouted as I hovered ten feet up in the sky.
I sensed that strange energy flood through his body. Spinning his body around, he threw his sword like a javelin directly at me. I floated there, shocked as that whispering sword flew unerringly toward me. Hot and cold rushed through me and, just as the sword was about to make contact with my throat, my hands flew up and grabbed it.
It screeched as I felt its razor edges trying to pierce my skin. I looked at the symbols that were swirling furiously near the handle and my mouth opened. A strange blue mist wafted upward towards the character seals and smothered them with its fog.
Lights flashed in front of my eyes and my mind was pulled into the sword. I was floating in darkness, yet I could see pale blue rhombi patterns swirling like a grid. Sometimes it was above me, at other times it was below, behind or in front. It would appear and disappear just as quickly, leaving only a faint impression behind my eyes. I closed my eyes and concentrated. I knew I was inside the sword, but there was no way in hell that was I going to allow it to have dominance over me. I sensed that rhombi pattern rushing towards me. I instinctually knew that I couldn't allow those lines to touch me physically. Taking a deep breath, I felt fire and ice slide into my veins. Opening my eyes, I pushed with my telekinesis against those glowing patterns. I felt them wanting to fade, but I held them in stasis. The darkness around me shivered, but my grip was firm. With a brush of telepathy I pushed against those lines.
I gasped. It was as if each line was a storage chamber of memories. I was looking into the hearts and minds of people who had wielded the weapon before Kevin. I watched as a dark haired youth went racing across a plaza of what looked like ancient Greece. More memories flashed through me. They were filled with emotions, whether it was love, hatred, or jealousy. All of them were intense and almost overpowering.
One memory made me gasp for breath. It was an image of me. I was in a church pew, staring at the coffin of my deceased mother. I looked like I felt: a lost 12-year-old trying to hold back his tears. This memory was filled with a strong need to comfort and protect. I knew this was Kevin's memory and it made me cry watching myself. I was alone on that church pew, but what surprised me was the look that my grandmother gave me. She was one aisle behind me and she had her hand on my shoulder. It was a tender look. But that is not what surprised me. It was the cold way I shrugged her off and leaned forward to get away from her touch. I didn't remember doing this, but Kevin obviously had.
I pulled away from that memory, my hands curled into fists. It dawned on me what the sword demanded for its use. Every time Kevin wielded the sword, a memory from his child hood was taken from him. The longer he used the sword the more pieces of his past, and therefore what made up Kevin, would disappear. I couldn't allow that. I know he wanted to help me because his need to protect me was as strong as it was when I was twelve. In actuality, I think it was much stronger now that I was older and an active guardian. Nevertheless, Kevin was the young man that I would be spending my life with. If this sword had its way, it would leave him an empty husk.
From the darkness an ancient voice howled around me. I could feel it trying to latch onto my mind, but I had had gods play with me. If this sword thought it could match wills and strength against me it was seriously mistaken. I spread out psychic tendrils like a web. They spread around me as gold and silver lines. The voice came roaring out of the darkness and crashed into the web. I gritted my teeth as I felt it stretch, trying to hold that `presence.' Again that surge of fire and ice in my veins coursed through me and I shoved it into the web. The lines hummed as my power filled it. The voice screamed, trying to break free. The harder it struggled the thicker the web became until the voice was wrapped in a cocoon of its own making.
"Kill me," it whispered, "and your precious human will die with me."
I gritted my teeth. I wanted to crush this thing with the force of my mind, but I couldn't allow my judgement to be clouded because Kevin was at the crux of this. "Then let him go and I will let you live."
An odd hissing sound issued forth as it laughed at me. "His soul is bound with mine. It is an unbreakable contract. There is nothing you can do about it."
I raged and shouted my frustration. That hissing laugh reverberated after my shouted appeal. A horrible idea flashed into my mind, and a smile I had never felt on my face curled into place. Through the web I had created, I still held onto the glowing rhombi pattern in front of me. Brushing up against it I pulled at those memories.
"What are you doing?" the sword whispered.
"I am taking all these memories you have stolen over the millennia." With that, I put my words into action.
It squealed and, from a long distance away, I heard Kevin shout in pain too. "You take what is mine and I will strip your precious Kevin's mind right now!"
I stopped and shivered at the thought of Kevin sitting there with no mind. I should have realised that brute force wouldn't work. But I had to try something. What was the use of all these powers if I couldn't protect the one I loved?
"What can I offer you in return for giving Kevin his memories back?"
That awful hissing laugh echoed around me, getting louder in its mockery. It was baiting me. I knew this, but what other choice did I have? Kevin was what made me strong and what I fought for. However, to my enemies, he was my weak spot; the one thing that would damage me the most if he was hurt.
"Bind your soul to me guardian, and all Kevin's memories will be returned." I could sense the eagerness in that voice. It made me shudder.
There had to be a solution. I knew that if I gave my soul over to it, eventually I would also lose my mind. I wasn't stupid enough to believe that Kevin would be let off so easily either. Just by observing the types of memories it stole from its victims, it wouldn't stop until it could plunder every special memory I held dear to my heart. Those were mine, precious to me. I had already had the Lord of Lies try and steal my mind from me once before. I couldn't allow this metal object the same access. I had to think!
An idea flashed into my head. Perhaps there was a way around this. From what I had gathered about the memories the sword preferred, they were filled with strong emotion. It was a something that person held dear to him, or what made him strive to be a better person. That seemed to be the common factor for the memories I had seen so far. So perhaps I could persuade redemption that, with my empathy, I could fill it with as much emotion as it could contain and still allow Kevin the use of its skills and strength.
"How about we come to a mutual agreement instead?" I asked.
"Why should I do you any favours? It is you that is at a disadvantage."
My tone was cold and emotionless as I spoke. "Because I would rather give Kevin a quick fast death than allow him to be a hollow shell once you are done with him."
Redemption laughed until it filled the entire space with sounds of hilarity bouncing to and fro. I felt something deep inside rising from the depths. It was cold and relentless and its coming filled my veins with icy energy. I opened myself to my empathic talent and shoved the relentless drive to overcome this sword at all costs into my surroundings. It filled the space with purples, blues, greens and whites.
Redemption shuddered, but I wasn't finished. Not by a long shot. That great leviathan rose inside me and I shoved it into my empathic talent. Redemption shouted and, distantly, Kevin echoed. But whatever I had started was now at the top of the mountain and ready to roll all the way down. There was no stopping it. My talent tree shook as that great burst of ice energy sliced through my roots and blended with my empathic talent.
Redemption screamed as my empathic talent opened its flood gates entirely and drew upon the emotions of every living thing on earth, faery, and the nether-realm dimensions. I force fed it into the sword. It squealed as the storage chambers of its mind began to overflow with too much sensory input.
Redemption was not the only one going into overload. It was like doors inside my own mind were opening to reveal new knowledge about what I was doing. For a split second I could feel the clothes that the Ice Crone gave me, and smell the broth the Summer Crone fed me, as knowledge and the experiences to use my new talents filled my mind.
"Are you ready to make a deal?" I asked. My tone was way too calm, and there was a steeliness that had not been there before. I closed my empathy down, but the colours still swirled around me. I was bubbling with a sense of well being and instinctively knew that my plan would work. Whether that was because I was power ridden, or my talents were telling me, I wasn't sure.
For ten seconds silence met my proposal. That hissing laugh came back, slightly dented but with a tinge of mocking beneath it. "What is it you wish to propose?"
"How about I show you." I closed my eyes and visualised. I recalled an image of me at seven hiding from my brother Leon. There was fear at being caught and beaten again, mixed with resentment and a deep wish to get even with him. Redemption hummed and I opened my eyes to see the image of me hiding in the garage appear in the space in front of me. Gone were the rhombi patterns, the colours from my empathy battle, and even the darkness. I was standing on the garage floor staring at the younger version of myself hiding among the stacks of cardboard boxes.
Redemption yowled like a cat, hissing at me. "You are not human. You are FAE!"
I stared at my handy work. It was an illusion nearly made real. What I had done was the advanced version of a Fae's glamour ability. I pushed a potent amount of anger, fear, and pain into the scene and heard Redemption utter a satisfactory sigh. I recreated another scene of Kevin and me in the car kissing when my shoe hit the radio button distracting me enough to remember where I was and stop. That scene grew beside the one of me at seven, hiding. I pushed lust, love and regret into the car scene. Both scenes were rife with emotion; much more so than I had ever been able to achieve before.
"I offer these in return for Kevin's memories. I also require that you allow him to draw from your powers and skills anytime he wishes, without you taking any more memories in recompense. In return, I will create a recording of everything that happened in my life and, until Kevin no longer needs you, I will send them to you via glamour and empathy. It's a win win situation. Deal?"
It paused before responding. "Deal. You Fairy kind are tricky little things."
I snickered at Redemption's unintentional play on words. But then I sobered as a realisation hit me. I don't think it would believe me if I said I was human. After what the crones had done to me, I had serious doubts too.
I opened my eyes with Redemption still in my hands near my throat. Far below me Kevin lay sprawled unconscious, and I floated down to his side. Placing my hands on his temples, I used telepathy and healing to scan his body for any injuries. I took a deep breath of relief, realising it was because he was exhausted from using so much energy to battle against me in our sparring match earlier. Soon, I would also be flat on my back once my power rush left me.
Calling on Pounamu, he teleported us back to my house. Kevin was sweaty and limp in my arms. I picked him up fireman style. I was always surprised and amazed at the strength I possessed even after all this time. I placed Kevin on my bed and ran a hot bath for him. When the water level was high enough, I stripped him of his sweaty clothes, took my own off, and levitated him while I sank into the bath. Once in position I lowered him into my open arms and I wrapped my legs around him. I sang to him as the wash cloth slid up and down his arms. His head lolled near my shoulder and I heard him utter a small moan.
Rocking him like a baby, I continued my ministrations. Redemption had returned all his memories and then some. I hated that sword, but I knew Kevin. He wanted desperately to be able to help in some way and this was his way of showing me that he could fit into both my worlds. I couldn't take that away from him no matter how much I hated it. I trailed my hands down his neck and over his chest. I felt his heart pounding under my hands and I hugged him tighter, grateful for the sound of that pumping organ. I brushed against his mind and saw his dream. It was a memory from a Spartan warrior who had once used the sword just like Kevin. In the dream the warrior had killed his wife, and the agony had nearly been his undoing. A knock at the bathroom door made my head jerk up.
"Son, is Kevin okay?"
"He's alright, dad," I answered in a quiet tone. "He's just exhausted. Let me clean him up and we'll talk."
The silence behind that door was telling. In many ways, dad was terrified of everything that had happened so far. He hadn't mentioned anything to me and he refused to ask too much detail about my time in the fairy realms. But the whole situation was taking its toll on him, too. He needed my reassurances even if he refused to admit that to me. He could be such a stubborn man. I chuckled quietly. Like father, like son.
I sat at the table with a mug of hot chocolate. The temperature outside had risen and dad shook his head as I sipped at my mug. "How can you drink a hot drink on a hot day?"
I shrugged my shoulders. To be honest, the temperature rise hadn't affected me at all. I had seen beads of perspiration build on the faces of my friends and family but, to me, the temperature was just right. Not too hot or too cold. I heard the hum of the air conditioner and dad sighed gratefully as cooler air swirled through the kitchen.
"How long has Kevin had the sword?" I asked dad.
"From around the time that the family figured your doppelganger had turned rogue."
"So, two weeks ago." I watched the tension in dads' arms. He hid it well on his face, but because I used my warrior skills so often, I had a hyper sensitivity to body language. "Dad, what's wrong?"
His body stilled and I watched as he consciously began to loosen his body, and give the appearance of a relaxed parent. "I'm just worried about you, that's all."
There was more to it, but I was willing to play his game. I think he needed a bit more of a push. I knew what my dad was like. If he didn't want to tell me something, he wouldn't, no matter how much I wheedled. I sent out a small tendril of empathy. "Is there anything in particular you are worried about?"
His large fist pounded the table and, because it was so unexpected, I jumped in surprise. He looked at me with a mixture of fear and anger. "I know when empathy is being used around me, James. Stop manipulating me! I had it from your cousin, Simon, and then I got it from your doppelganger two weeks ago!"
I felt very small at that moment. In my haste I had forgotten about dad's aversion to empathy. However, when we spoke earlier, dad had refused to go into any detail about what my doppelganger had done under the guise of the Summer Queen. With this impassioned response my heart started pounding at the possibilities.
"What did the Summer Queen do in my name dad? What did she do to you that you look at me with fear and even loathing?"
"Don't play dumb, James. Use your imagination."
"No, I want you to tell me. Because, if she did what I think she did, then somewhere deep inside, you're blaming me for part of this."
That's when I saw it. There was disgust and recrimination on his face and he pounded the table once more. I sensed Sara, Leon, and Leila moving through the house. I put up a shield around the doors leading into the kitchen. Dad needed this time to let off steam and get what he was feeling out into the open.
"NO!" he shouted, and pounded the table. His face was a fearsome thing to behold. His teeth were clenched and each time he pounded the table he uttered the word, no. There was violence in the air, thick and heavy with possibilities. I didn't want to use empathy to help calm him in case it worsened the situation.
"Tell me what happened!"
"Nooooo!" With that shout of self denial he upended the entire table. I gripped it in a telekinetic hold before it could crash to the floor. He looked wildly around and grabbed his chair and began smashing it into the floating table. This was a side of dad I had never seen and it scared me. To know that he was driven to this kind of violence told me how much the Summer Queen had fucked with my dad's head.
I telepathically called to Pounamu. We needed to get out of the house and into the wilds where dad could render tree branches into tooth picks, if his heart desired. I didn't think Sara should see my father in this violent light, ever.
I don't know where Pounamu took us, but there were more pine tree's than most Australian native forests possessed, so I knew we weren't in Australia. Dad looked wildly around before he lifted an old log and began whacking it with all his might against a tree. The log broke, but he still continued whacking with the small stub he had left.
After what seemed a long time, dad dropped to the ground exhausted. His gasps for breath turned into deep sobs and he curled over on his side. I wanted to touch him and hug him and ask what was wrong but, when I moved to do just that, he moved away from my touch.
He looked up at me then. I tried to hide the hurt in my eyes, but I must have done a bad job because he got up and hugged me instead. "I'm sorry, son." He rocked me as he continued. "You shouldn't ever have to see me like this." He shuddered and stuttered to a stop as he tried to get his emotions under control.
I had a fair idea of what the Summer Queen had made my father do. And I was reluctant to ask. But for my piece of mind, I had to get the entire story.
"Oh god, she made you...she made you..."
I couldn't say it, but he went rigid as he held me. I got a precog hit and that was all the confirmation I needed. I sagged as my worse imaginings had just been proven true. I felt tight in the chest and I tried to breathe, but it seemed as if I couldn't get enough air. I pushed against dad's arms trying to get some breathing space, but he refused to let go.
I could have used my warrior strength or even my telekinesis, but my mind refused to form coherent commands. Dad held me tightly, and kept trying to talk to me as my world spun around me. I covered my face with my hands trying to hide from the world as I sobbed quietly into the darkness of my palms.
I was tired of being hurt. I didn't want to feel anymore. How many more punches could I take before I learned to just stay down? There was this building fear growing inside me. It seemed that everyone who had a connection to me was always being hurt in one way or another. It would be better if I didn't live. It would be better if I turned my heart back into the icy prison in which I once hid. I felt myself sinking deeper into my misery, and this time I embraced it. I felt my heart beat slowly as my breathing became shallow. The blood flowed sluggishly through my veins and I could feel the darkness calling to me from the edges of my mind.
Someone was shaking me and, for a second, I almost knew who that person was before my mind slipped back into the darkness. I could feel a stinging sensation against my face, but that became a small hindrance, and I pushed it aside as I sank further. I could feel myself slipping from my body and sighed with relief. Strand by strand my essence detached itself from my flesh and all I could think about was escape.
There was one strand left and it was tied to my heart chakra. Something hot splashed onto my dying skin and the strand over my heart chakra strengthened, keeping my soul bound to my flesh. More wet splashes fell onto my skin and I hissed in pain as the heat seared through me, pulling me away from the darkness.
The sound of my own voice shouting in pain made my soul slide back into my body. With it, I felt my healing power course through me, revitalising me but also causing me to cry as my heart remembered why I had tried to escape in the first place. Dad had me wrapped in his arms as he tried shaking me. It was his tears that had pulled me back.
"Come on, son, you can't leave your family behind. Think about Kevin. You have to open your eyes. Come on, son." Those were the first things my mind could finally make sense of. I raised my hand and even with my healing coursing through my veins, I felt lethargic.
"I'm sorry, dad." Great big tears welled in my eyes, cascading down the sides of my face. "It seems as if I only cause those I love a lot of pain." I turned my face away, not able to bear dads scrutiny.
He gripped my face firmly under the chin and turned me toward him. I saw his fierce anger and the need to protect blazing down at me. "There are times that you act so adult that I forget you're my youngest child. But then, its moments like this that remind me of how very young you are. You are not at fault here, James. It's my responsibility to handle my problems in a fashion that none of my children will ever see me in a lesser light."
I tried to protest, but dad raised his hand. "Let me finish." I reluctantly kept quiet as he continued. "You have been a pillar of support and amazing strength. I see the way that Leon and Leila look at you for help. They may never admit it to you, but I see it so clearly. You have proven yourself over and over with the Maori people, protecting them to your own detriment." There was a rumble of dissent in dad's voice with that last statement, and a small smile tilted the edge of my lips. "My definition of a leader is someone who ensures that everyone he protects is taken care of to the best of that leader's ability. You have never failed in this endeavour."
For a moment dad went silent, rocking me in his arms as he became contemplative. "What happened between your doppelganger and me is not your fault, son. My guilt was clouding my image of who you truly are, and I am so very sorry for that." I turned slightly in dad's arms and was about to offer my services to heal him of that taint. He smiled ruefully and shook his head. "I don't want you to help me on this, son. I need to find the answer myself."
"I want to help, dad. If I can give you the healing you need, what is wrong with that?"
"I don't doubt your healing ability, but some things are private and I don't want you to know what the Summer Queen did. That is something I will never allow any of my children to see. It is mine to deal with."
I telepathically called to Pounamu and asked if any of the Maori people had a way of helping to heal emotional and possibly mental abuse. I yawned loudly as Pounamu informed me they did. I also asked him to come and get us in five minutes. The battle with Kevin and now the emotional battle with dad had left me exhausted. Turning suddenly sleepy eyes to dad, I saw him staring down at me with fear.
Reading it for what it was, I reassured him with a smile. "I'm just tired from the practice battle I had with Kevin. I promise." My eyes closed and I blinked them open. I needed to finish what I had to say before tiredness stole me away to the world of dreams. "If you won't let me heal you, will you allow one of the Maori people to help?"
Dad stopped rocking me as he thought about his answer. "I'll think about it."
"Please, dad, for me?"
I heard dad sigh as my eyes closed again. "You can be as pushy as your mother sometimes. I'll give it a try, but I'm not making promises."
I smiled, my eyes no longer able to stay open. "Don't tell the family what I nearly did here, please dad."
"As long as you never tell them what I did here too."
I nodded my head in agreement and cuddled up into dads arms. "I love you, dad."
Dad hugged me tighter. "Love you too, kid."
I was in the nether-realms. Although I had only been to this place once before, I would know the sights and smells anywhere. Not to mention, I could feel the power of chaos flowing through the entire place and, as much as I hated to admit it, my power responded to that flow.
I carefully looked around . Dank smelling fog hung in the air, obscuring obstacles and shapes so that I didn't have a reference to get my bearings. I shivered as the dampness clung to my skin. I raised my hand and was surprised to see the clothes the Winter Crone gave me on my body. They gave off a faint sheen in the murky darkness of this world.
"This is a dream. It's only a dream," I kept chanting to myself.
How I ended up in this place I wasn't sure, but somebody, or thing had pulled me into it. So whoever was behind it was a powerful dream walker. Everything about this place was replicated down to the core of chaos power flowing beneath the surface. If I didn't have such a strong connection to my physical body, which I sensed was still resting, I would have believed somebody had teleported me from my house into the nether-realms. That's how real this dream was.
A gust of wind blew the fog creating a tunnel in front of me. I didn't like the way I was being herded but, until I found out the purpose of this dream, I was willing to go in the direction the `dreamer' obviously wanted. I ended up in front of some wrought iron gates. The place looked like a grand old house that had been converted into a hospital or something. It stood in dark gloom and had an air of waiting madness. I was not surprised to see a plaque saying "Goldenthorpe Asylum." Muttering to myself about the predictability of the dreamer, I pushed at the gates. For a second they refused to budge but, with a flick of my mind, they swung open with a crash.
I was not going to play scared victim for whoever thought up this stupid dream. I idly wondered what would happen if someone without my powers were to be in the same situation I found myself and had to smile. If I were just a normal human being I would probably have been scared out of my wits. At the moment however I was getting just plain pissed off.
I sent out a scan to see if the dreamer had thought of bringing some of the minds of the denizens into this little fiasco. It certainly had the power to do so, judging by the detail of the entire dreamscape. Closing my eyes, I sensed hot spots of activity within the mansion. It was a four-story complex and each floor had pockets of denizens hunting through the corridors. I opened my eyes and shook my head with resignation.
I tried searching for the dreamer among those hot spots but none of the entities my mind brushed against had the power to pull off something this grand. Therefore, I had to follow through with what the dreamer had planned for me. Walking up to the front doors, I pushed with my mind once more and the doors groaned, curved inward from the pressure I was putting on them, and then splinted into shards. Patience was a virtue I was losing sight of.
Wrapping a protective shield around me, I walked into a large receiving room with the reception desk directly in front of me. I heard a loud noise behind me and turned in defensive mode. Nothing was there, but the door had miraculously repaired itself and was now firmly closed.
I heard a child's cry down one corridor and followed the sound. I knew it was a trap; it was obvious. But standing around wouldn't get me anywhere so I followed. I passed rooms with discarded cots and even one room with decrepit baby toys. I heard voices in the next room. There was a man with long brown hair. Around him were four people in a sexual frenzy. They surrounded this man as he wrote the words `pigs die,' on the wall. I watched as he bent down and dipped his hand into something. For a second my mind couldn't grasp what I was seeing, and then I gasped and back pedalled. Curled over was a pregnant woman with blood all over her. The man's hand was deep inside her belly and I fled with that image etched in my brain.
I began to shake. I knew who those people were. I knew who that man was. Charles Manson and the Family. I had read up on them because a few kids at school had mentioned him. Reading about the Mansons had scared me, but to see the action live was ten times worse. I had fought supernatural monsters, but it was more horrifying to realise that humans were capable of such things.
I went past another room. There was a man in clown suit. He was brutally raping a teenager. I used my power to push at the clown, but my power went through it. The teenager was screaming with his hands locked to the bed post. I tried blasting the clown with my telekinesis; again it just went through them. The clown screamed his satisfaction and then pulled a gun out and shot the young boy. I screamed and ran again. The man shouted after me, telling me his name was Gacy, John Gacy.
I didn't want to look into anymore rooms. This was a place of evil, pure and simple. I heard something rattle and, like the idiot that I was, I turned and looked. A blond haired man was having sex with a corpse. He had glasses on and he would have looked harmless if his hands hadn't been covered with blood and gore. I had seen enough. I closed my eyes and grazed my hand up against the wall. I shuddered as I was bombarded with images of screaming children, and fear and death. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. If I were getting precog hits off the walls then, somewhere in the nether-realms, this Asylum was an actual place. It meant that many of those mad men I had seen in those rooms either came from the Asylum, or their spirits were trapped there.
It also meant that whoever the dreamer was, it knew intimately about this place. I shuddered, thinking that something this powerful could have come from a place like the nether-realms version of an asylum. Besides, what the fuck would denizens from the nether-realms need an asylum? They were all mad as far as I was concerned.
The crying got louder and then it was muffled. The walls screamed at me as pain and fear assaulted my senses. I collapsed on the floor as my empathic talent was overloaded by sensations. I needed to get to the child. It was the key to finding out why I was here in the first place. I wanted out of this nightmare, now.
I picked myself up and ran further down the corridor. There was a sound of fighting and a man's voice cursing one level above me as I saw a stairwell going up. Wrapping a telekinetic bubble around me, I lifted off the ground and shot straight up the curving stair to the next level. Once there, I ran as fast as I possibly could toward a denizen holding a struggling sack in his hands.
"Hey!" I shouted. "Put that sack down, right now!" My voice was a little quivery but, since I had just seen horrors no one should ever see, I was a little justified.
The Denizen turned and looked at me. It had a hockey mask on its face, with tufts of wiry brown hair that stood out on both sides of its hidden face. It reminded me of Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. I wrapped a protective bubble around the squirming sack and threw telekinetic daggers at the denizen. He was knocked backward but I saw no splash of blood. The sack flew from his hands and I stopped it from crashing by levitating it safely to the ground.
If the horror movies were anything to go by, the moment I took my eyes off the prone body of the bad guy it would disappear. So, staring at the `Jason' look-alike, I kept the still struggling sack in my peripheral vision and moved toward it. Jason didn't move when I got to the sack. I paused before opening to see what was inside. For all I knew it could be a trap and I wasn't going to play the stupid hero only to get hurt or killed.
Making sure that my shield was as strong as possible around my body I used my telekinesis to upend the sack. What fell out surprised me so much that I turned and stared to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. In that moment I cursed and turned my head to look for Jason's body. It was gone. Annoyed and secretly scared, I turned back to what was on the ground staring up at me.
It was a miniature Kelpie; also known as a water horse. It had dark skin that looked like the scales of an eel. Water trickled down its sides and those big dark eyes stared up at me. It stamped its foot. They were dangerous to humans, coaxing a foolish mortal to get on its back only to be drowned in the nearest river or lake.
"Follow me," the Kelpie imparted directly into my head.
I eyed this phenomenon, but followed it as it raced down the corridor. What were Kelpies doing in the nether-realms? I nearly kicked myself when I realised this was only a dream. But then again, how much of this landscape was a dream, and how much of it was based on the true essence of the real deal? These were questions I would have to ponder at a later date.
I needed to keep my eyes open for that Jason look alike. I scanned ahead and all around at the hot spots of energy around the mansion. They must have been notified of our whereabouts because the hot spots were moving toward us. They were converging from all directions. I snarled and ran even with the Kelpie. It was silly to do so because anytime that Jason character could pop out and attack from the side the Kelpie was on and impede my defence from that direction. Nevertheless, I didn't want to be left behind, and I couldn't run in front of the Kelpie because I didn't know where we were going. So it was side by side we ran.
The walls of the mansion screamed with torment once more, and I gritted my teeth as my head was bombarded with pain and madness. I had to do something about this. It was dulling my combat senses. Taking a deep breath while I maintained my pace beside the Kelpie I began absorbing the pain into me and converting it into power. I felt my shields strengthen as I breathed a sigh of relief. Converting energy the way I was would take its toll on me later, but it was necessary.
We came to the end of the corridor and were confronted by a metal door. The Kelpie placed its hooves against the door handle and sparks flew. It shuddered with effort before it collapsed to the floor. I stared at the metal door that hadn't even budged. The Kelpie's black skin began to dry and turn dull in only moments. I sat down beside it and sent my healing into it. The Kelpie's mind opened to mine as I poured the colours of blue, and yellow into its body. It was travelling here in search of a lost child from its realm. After everything that it had gone through, it was fading before it could reach its destination.
I wasn't sure if this was part of the plan so that I would fall deeper into believing what was going on here, but I could sense the sincerity inside this creature's mind and its soul or spirit was as alive as I was. Therefore there were two options. The Kelpie was either another dreamer speaking truth as it saw it, or the mastermind behind this knew how to create constructs that were so convincing that even my powers couldn't tell the difference. I stopped that line of thinking. It wouldn't do me any good if I started doubting my talents. This dream was dangerous enough without me adding to it with my own doubts.
I felt ice and fire rage through my healing talent and into the Kelpie. It gasped with delight as my power not only revitalised it, but it also began to grow. It stood up with my hand locked to its side and I watched in amazement as its strong and square head rose until it nearly scraped the roof. I watched as its body began to blend with the shadows. I tried pulling my hand away but it was stuck like super glue. It gave me a mischievous glance before my hand was reluctantly released.
Its eyes, which had been as dark green as seaweed, were now a pure black all over. They looked at me and, just by shaking its head, I knew what it was asking. I nodded my head and together we turned towards the metal door. It touched its hooves to the lock once more while I pushed with my telekinesis. The house screamed around me and my vision was swamped with red as anger, hate, rage, and terrifying madness filled my pores with their potency. The house was rebelling. The walls shifted around us and I gripped the door to prevent the house from shifting that as well. It struggled against my grip and I poured all that rage and madness into holding the door frame, while I tried opening the metal door at the same time. The Kelpie's hooves were a splash of pure silver as it smashed against the doors. In this gloomy mansion those hooves created sparks that reverberated through me like a hammer.
The house groaned again and hallways appeared on the left and right of us. From them came denizens that filled the hallways in a moving slithering mass. I snarled as I stared at the oncoming enemy. From behind us I heard the thud of heavy feet as the corridor that had led us here was filled with denizens. At the head of them was, yep, you guessed it, the Jason look-alike.
Fire and Ice sizzled through my veins. I dug deep and felt the power that came from the Crones stir within me. It rose like a leviathan. I pushed that power out around me. A gold mist surrounded us and, from out of that mist came the sound of a war chant. Men in gold armour rushed out of the mist toward the oncoming horde. Their swords were identical to Redemption and I even sensed the need to feed coming from them as the men raced away from us. Loud screeches and men shouting clashed as the two forces came together. The Kelpie, in the meantime, had finally opened the door and, with my men fighting, the two of us rushed into the room.
The room was a nursery. Windows opened to a view of the courtyard all the way down to the front gates. There were two cots set up, side by side. A female, melodious voice was reading a book out loud to the two infants. The Kelpie and I approached cautiously. She wore a nurse's uniform and it was strange seeing clothing from my world here.
The Kelpie neighed and put its head down, feet pawing, ready to attack if the nurse proved dangerous. She turned around and I made sure the shield around me, and now the Kelpie, was firm and ready. Surprise rushed through the Kelpie and then me when we saw the nurse's face.
She had skin so translucent it reminded me of pictures I had seen of ice in Antarctica; so cold that it had a kind of bluish green tint to it. That was what her skin looked like; a translucent blue, as if sunlight would refract off it in a kaleidoscope of brilliant shards. She had long strands of white, purple and blue dread locks, tied back from her face, leaving her perfectly chiselled face on display. Deep blue eyes with lashes that looked black, but were in fact a dark blue curled gracefully over her cheeks as she blinked.
The Kelpie whimpered before it bent its front hooves and bowed deeply. The power of the Crones rang through me like a bell. The only people that could cause that response were the Princesses or Queens of Fae. She stood up and the Kelpie beside me backed up a little, shaking under the presence of a Goddess. I stared at her and, although she was beautiful beyond mortal comprehension, her power held no sway over me. That, more than anything, surprised her and I sensed her perusal more sharply as we stared at each other.
"No mortal has ever been able to stare into my eyes without being mesmerised."
There really wasn't much I could say to that, so I shrugged my shoulders and continued staring at her. She came up close to me and, at over six feet in height, I had to stare up at her. It gave her the power vantage, but most of the people in my family were taller than me. Height didn't intimidate me.
Beside me the Kelpie still had its head bowed. I turned toward the cots and saw that the two babies had their hands linked.
"Look at me when I am talking to you, mortal!"
Cool wind blew through the room, ruffling the curtains at the window. I looked at her face. That leviathan of power stirred within me. "Who do the two children belong to?" I asked.
"It is not you that will make demands on me."
I looked at her and I knew who was standing before me. The knowledge seeped into me as that cool wind blew over my skin. "Winter Queen of Air and Darkness, step aside. This realm belongs to my ancestor, the Lord of Lies. You do not have jurisdiction here."
She laughed and it rolled through the room with the promise of danger. "Who do you think created this dream pocket of reality, mortal?"
I stared at her puzzled. "I don't think I follow you?"
"Do you think the Lord of Lies would have allowed me in this sanctuary if I didn't have permission?"
Her smile was vindictive as my face showed my dawning realisation. "Who is the dreamer?"
She folded her hands over her chest and looked at me smugly. "I don't know which will prove more enjoyable. Telling you, or not telling you." Tapping her finger against her chin she continued, "Choices, choices."
The Kelpie bumped up against me and without thinking about it, I placed my hand against its flanks. "The Winter Crone sent me."
Relief flooded through me and I used my warrior's discipline to control any reaction in body and face. It meant I had an ally with me. But how that would help me I wasn't sure. My relief was short lived, but at least I knew that I wasn't entirely alone in this. After all, the Crones had warned me that I was going to walk the realms of Faery. I just hadn't realised that pockets could be placed within the nether-realms. That is if this dream place could truly be called a part of the nether-realms.
The Winter Queen was obviously waiting for a reaction from me and, not sure what she wanted, I thought bargaining might get me somewhere. Bowing low, I asked in a quiet voice, "If the Winter Queen would be so bold in answering my question, I would answer one truthfully in return."
"I am glad we have come to an agreement." She almost purred her satisfaction and I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
"Who is the dreamer of this place?" I asked.
"A waste of a question mortal, but one to which I shall happily give the answer." She walked over to the two infants who had not stopped clasping their hands through our entire interlude. "Come and look down upon these two children; the Dreamers of this world."
I walked towards the cots and peered into the faces of the infants. The first one was recognisable as Fae. She kicked her feet up in the air cooing as she looked at me. I knew her for what she was. She had the same colour eyes as her mother, Mab, the Winter Queen. "Princess Aurora," I whispered. The leviathan of power thrummed inside me. There was something here that was related to the break down in balance between winter and summer. I felt it within my bones.
The second child was human, or partly so. I sensed chaos energy running through his veins. He looked up at me with the dark golden eyes of my ancestor, the Lord of Lies. My heart beat loudly in my chest. Is this what Leila's child would look like? Instead of answering my question, I had created more unanswered ones.
"Now answer my question, mortal. Why are you able to repel my glamour?"
I looked up at the Winter Queen. In some ways I was glad she wasn't able to detect what the Crones had done to me the way that the Summer Princess, now Summer Queen, had been able. I only had theories and not solid proof. I couldn't answer her question truthfully, but I had to give her something.
"I met the Grandmothers. They have done something to me."
Mab hissed at me and ice appeared along the walls. "You lie!"
I looked down at the clothes I wore from the Winter Grandmother and frowned. Could she not see the clothes I wore as proof? I was about to tell her about the clothes when the Kelpie brushed against me once more. "Do not tell her!"
Mab must have picked up the interplay between us because she stared at the Kelpie before it went flying across the room. I tightened my shield around it as it crashed into the wall. I heard the Kelpie neigh and sag. I wanted to frown as it slumped unconscious. My shield should have protected it from impact. I would have known if it had broken. But it hadn't; which meant it was deliberately play acting. Okay, I was in dangerous political territory once more.
I looked calmly at the Queen. "That is the only answer I can come up with. In truth I do not know why your glamour no longer works on me."
A strange smile lit her face as I felt her power swirl around us. That leviathan rose to the surface once more and everything came into hyper focus. Answers flooded my mind. Instead of being overwhelmed by the information my mind began utilising it.
I knew what I had to do; it was just a matter of distracting the Queen while I did what was needed. I threw multiple telekinetic daggers at her as I raced towards the cots. Wrapping the two children in a protective bubble and lifting them out of the beds. I heard the Queen scream as the daggers sliced into her.
I felt the spell she directed at me as my daggers continued to slice into her. I knew if her spell hit me my essence would be sucked out. She was the Queen of Air, but it went deeper than that. Her talent could literally take the breath of life from a person. She was a soul eater.
I tried dodging as I saw the spell shoot towards me as a blast of blue and green gas. It was fast, but not as fast as light. I was able to dodge it. She threw multiples of the spell while my daggers relentlessly sliced her face hoping to blind her. A flash of black and the Kelpie was in front of me and all those spells. It knocked the Kelpie off its feet and its dark eyes stared at me, begging me to flee as its body turned into mist and was sucked into the Queen.
With both babies under my arms, I dived through the open windows. I didn't have time to mourn the loss of an ally; my own life was at risk. I zoomed through the air in a zigzag pattern to reduce the Queen's chances of hitting me. She screeched and a shadow raced after me, covering everything in its wake. Like a living thing it devoured the landscape.
I had to return to the point where I entered the dream. It was the entry portal to this nightmare. It was my only hope. Drawing on the chaos around me, I used it to power up my telekinesis. Far below the shadow chased me. It looked like a black ocean, its waves getting higher with every piece of land it devoured. I tried to fly higher but my own waning strength and some strange force kept me from going higher into the sky. If I didn't make it back soon, those dark waves would swallow me. My heart was pounding and I searched desperately for the portal.
I very nearly missed it in my panic as a shadow that was almost solid splashed against my shoe. My foot went numb for a second and my healing rushed in to prevent damage. I looked back and saw my toe was black with gangrene before my healing sloughed away the old skin and replaced it with pink fresh flesh in only moments.
I looked quickly back and saw a flash of white. I dove down towards it and the black shadows towered over me, ready to crash down upon me. I dashed toward that glowing light, praying it was the exit, and dove head first as the waves smashed down.