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Friday, January 31, 2014

Guardian of the Banshee

This is a serial story.
Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2


By R.T. Drake


Bolting upright Lynette’s hands came up preparing to fend off his attack. Any second their bodies would collide, and she would be forced to endure his cold touch again. The very thought of it repulsed her, making her want to do everything possible to not let it happen again. But nothing came. No bone jarring collision, no cold, no anything.

“My Lady, are you alright?” came a familiar voice from beside her.

Relief flooded through her at hearing her Guardian’s voice. It let her know in that instant that she was safe. It also amazed her at how easily referring to him as ‘Her Guardian’ came.

“I am fine Guardian. Please just give me a moment.”

“Of course, My Lady.”

Sitting there she felt her chest rise and fall with each breath she took. She focused on it, used it to calm her while she gathered her composure. As the blurriness receded from her eyes things got clearer. She saw she was in a bed, in a room, though where she had no idea.

Turning to her side she saw Aidan’s face, full of concern and worry as he knelt beside her. Seeing him reinforced her safety, reassured her that Lasair was no longer around.

More at ease she went to say something when she felt the familiar sensation of her nipples tightening. Wondering why she looked down, only to discover that she was bare and exposed. A green satin sheet was at her waist, leaving her breasts out there for anyone, including him, to see.

Snatching up a handful of the sheet she covered herself, looking back to him. Her mind reeling as his gaze held her own.

“What the hell is going on? Where am I?”

“You are in your personnel chambers, My Lady.” He replied, standing up and backing slightly away.

“And you’re here why?” realizing after she said it she already knew the answer.

“I am your Guardian, My Lady. It is the last part of the Binding Ritual.” he said in a ‘you should know’ kind of tone.

“I know what part of it we are in.” she snapped in frustration. “And though yes you may be my Guardian, it does not give you the right to see me without clothes.”


“Actually it does, My Lady. If I choose and deem it necessary for your safety, but I assure you I would make it as, impersonal, as possible.” His voice deliberately steady while his face unreadable.

Flabbergasted and outraged by his comment she found herself speaking before she knew it.

“Who do you think you are?”

Before anything could be said further a loud clap filled the room, bringing with it an immediate silence. A commanding yet compassionate filled voice followed.

“You know perfectly well who he is, My Lady. You chose him after all.”

Turning towards the voice Lynette’s eyes fell upon a small elderly woman sitting in a high back chair. Her features were soft but her eyes were steady and unyielding. She had long white hair in a braid that all but glowed against her bright red and orange robes.

In her gnarled yet strong looking hand was a highly black polished walking staff. Runes were scrawled everywhere upon its surface and it was topped with a green gem the size of a softball. If Lynette did not know better she would swear it was an emerald having the same dark green hew as some she had seen.

The woman’s look was one of curiosity and enjoyment as a second later she turned here attention to Aidan and nodded. Aidan nodded in return and then came over to her. A moment later he was assisting her out of the chair and escorting her closer.

The woman’s frame though small, especially when standing next to Aidan, did not seem at all a weakness. In fact her very presence was one of complete confidence, rivaling even Aidan’s.

As they walked over Lynette noted there were two other ladies in the room, both dressed in green flowing dresses and both with their hands clasped before them. Casting a glance over to them they both returned it and bowed slightly to her.

Both were of fair complexion while the taller of the two had long black hair. Some held together on top with a small green clasp while the rest cascaded down behind her. Her gown was long sleeved, connecting to a ring on each of her middle fingers. The other one was shorter and had blonde hair in a pixie cut which matched the almost sleeveless gown she wore. Both their faces were pleasant and full of happiness.

Looking back to Aidan and the elderly woman, they were before her as the woman withdrew herself from Aidan, wasting no time in speaking.

“I am old, My Lady. Much older than you would guess, and trust me when I say that. You may call me Eurade. I am also what your mythology calls an Oracle, though like most things in the mortal version of mythology they did not get it quite right. I am one of the last and one day soon even I will be gone. As such I can dispense with pleasantries where others cannot.”

Using her staff she leaned in slightly more before continuing to speak, emphasizing what she was about to say.

“We both know exactly why you chose Aidan. And though your decision remains yours alone, one day you will admit it openly and freely. Until then, rest assured we have other more pressing matters to attend to, namely Lasair, or as you know him properly now, the Fallen Guardian. You screamed his name upon waking from the Binding Ritual, why?”

An involuntary shiver ran through her as she recalled what had happened. The lingering feelings and thoughts of what she had seen first hand still with her.

 “He was there.”

An audible gasp could be heard from the ladies in green. While Aidan’s voice thundered out.

“That is impossible. The Celtic Fire can only be entered by a queen.”

The only one who remained unaffected was the old woman, though she raised her head slightly as she spoke.

“So it is true then. Tell me, My Lady, did he say anything? Lasair always was one for posturing.”

“He made mention of using Dark Banshee.” offered Lynette somewhat confused. She also noted the deep pain and regret that filled Aidan’s eyes.

Eurade nodded her head up and down.

“So he has learned how to use his Dark Banshee’s abilities. This is troublesome but not unforeseen, especially given who we are dealing with.”

“How can it be possible Eurade?” asked Aidan, his voice restrained.

 “Dark Banshee’s are still queens, no different then Lady Lynette. Even in their current state they are still linked to the Celtic Fire, just like any other banshee or queen. Until now Lasair never had a reason to us them for their abilities.”

“Is no where safe then?” asked Aidan, Lynette picking up on the tone of failure that was there.

“The Celtic Fire is still safe Aidan. We are safe here, thanks to you and the Guardsmen. Yes Lasair can reach her in the Celtic Fire, but at most he might be able to try to bind with her which can not happen as she bound herself to you.” Pausing she looked directly at Lynette before continuing. “Is that what happened My Lady? Did he try to bind himself to you, like you did with Aidan?”

“He tried, and I remember it was cold, so very cold and painful.”

“How did you escape?” asked Aidan

“I….I screamed and it hurt him, severed his link. He cursed me, called me a….a witch. And then he said something about learning…” she stopped, searching and trying to remember what he said.

“The Queens Scream?” asked Eurade.

“Yes. Yes that’s what he called it, the Queens Scream.”

“How did you implore it?”

“I thought of Aidan, My Guardian, and then it came out.”

Interesting.” Eurade said as she shifted her gaze to Aidan whose eyes were once again steady and unreadable.

“Did you feel anything Aidan?”

“No, nothing.” He said simply.

“Nothing at all?” asked Eurade.

“As I said Eurade, I felt nothing.”

Desiring more answers, Lynette spoke up, interrupting the two’s staring contest.

“What is the Queens Scream?”

Eurade looked to her and breathed in a long breath, using the time to think on the matter.

“The Queens Scream is what happens when a Queen, who is mortal, calls upon the power of the Celtic Fire to come to their defense. It is a very rare occurrence, so much in fact that only one other queen has ever possessed the ability to do so. As such we do not know a lot about it as until she used it, it was unheard of.’

‘We know it exists when there is a very unique and extremely strong bond between a Guardian and a Queen. Somehow during their binding process the connection is made stronger than usual. But as far as its exact source or what causes the bond to be so strong we do not know.’

‘We know that unlike a Banshees scream, which is incapable of killing, a Queens Scream can literally tear things apart. I am convinced that emotions play some part of it, but even then I have not much to go on. Mother Earth and I have debated it at length. I am curious, My Lady, what caused you to call upon it?”

Narrowing her eyes in confusion Lynette ignored the question while she pondered on what she had just heard.

“Did you just say Mother Earth and you have debated it at length?”

“I did, My Lady, you will meet her in a few days. Now if you please, what caused it?”

Oh sure, Lynette snarked in her mind, just answer the question. Cause its every day that I hear someone debates a Queens Scream, which can tear things apart, with Mother Earth of all people. Easily a dozen memes for the occasion ran through her head as she gathered her thoughts, remembering her time and what had happened with Lasair within the Celtic Fire.

“I was surrounded by the coldness that Lasair’s touch brought. I thought of Aidan, and then I felt a small bit of warmth against the vast coldness that was inside me. I focused on it and as I did it became stronger and bigger until finally…. I just screamed.”

Eurade settled back on her heels as Lynette, still curious about the matter continued on.

“So, why can’t a Banshee’s scream kill yet a Queen’s can?”

“Because you are mortal, My Lady, where as Banshee are not.” broke in Aidan all but ignoring Eurade as she regarded him. “They once were, but they are in service to you and the Celtic Fire. This means they no longer are confined to this world, like a mortal Queen is.”

“I don’t get what you are saying.”

Glancing back to her Eurade took over from Aidan.

“As I said, My Lady, I believe part of the Queens scream comes from emotions. The reason being is that Banshees only know one set of emotions. They are the epitome of everything that is good such as joy, happiness, and love. To look upon one directly one experiences levels of these emotions unheard of.  Hence when they call upon their scream it is never deadly, harmful perhaps, but never deadly as it goes against who they are.’

‘Because you are mortal, you are still subject to emotions like rage, anger, helplessness. So when you implore it, as Queen, the Celtic Fire responds to you and your emotions accordingly. Use it in anger you kill. Like wise use it with love and in theory you can heal. Though as I said this is all based off of conjecture from some of the little experimenting I was able to do with the one queen who possessed it before you.”

“Who was that?”

Aidan physically stiffened at her words while Eurade smiled politely.

“I think that is a conversation for another time, My Lady. One in which we can focus on the subject as a whole. I am sure you are beyond hungry and would no doubt enjoy a hot shower. You have much to learn, much to do, and doing so on an empty stomach is not wise.”

Before Lynette could say anything, Eurade paused only long enough to gesture towards the two ladies who came forward immediately. Lynette knew she was being brushed off though the mention of food did make it less of an impact. She would no doubt find out soon enough, she thought, as Eurade introduced the two ladies who had remained silent and vigil until now.

“This is Agata,” she said indicating the tall dark haired one, “and this is Ainsley. They are your Ladies in waiting, they are your personnel confidants and they will eventually be your best friends. I know this as I have seen it. I am after all an Oracle.’

‘Since you have chosen to be our new Queen of the Banshee you will need your own personal advisors in many ways besides your Guardian. They will assist you in many aspects over the next few days and the years to come. When you are ready, they and Aidan will escort you to me where we can continue our conversations and prepare you for your coronation.”

Eurade bowed and made her way towards a massive set of double wrought iron and wooded doors. They sat along the right side of the room built into the stone looking wall. On either side sat large rose colored crystal looking sconces.

Aidan approached the door first and opened it for Eurade. When she was halfway through Lynette spoke up.


“Yes My Lady.” She said stopping and turning.

“How do you know I accepted the charge to be Queen?”

“That is easy, My Lady. I’m an Oracle. I foresaw it many centuries ago. I admit I am not always dead on with how I interrupt my visions, but I have never been wrong with how they turn out. Besides had you not chosen to be our Queen, you would not have woken up here and all that you experienced would have seemed simply a dream.”

Starting to turn back around she stopped halfway and pointed her finger directly at Aidan.

 “To you, I will say this. Do not fight it, Aidan. This is one battle you will lose. I promise.”

Aidan rocked back at what he was told, then nodded deeply in return. A moment later Eurade was gone from eye sight and Aidan closed the door. Facing towards her he folded his hands across his large chest, his face blank as he regarded her.

Once again curiosity got the better of Lynette

“What did she mean when she said that to you?”

“Nothing that needs to be mentioned now, My Lady.” shrugging his shoulders.

Lynette had a strong feeling there might be more to it than he was letting on, but at the same time she was willing to let it drop as she turned her attention towards the other two in the room.

“Ladies in waiting, Huh?”

“Aye, My Lady.” replied Agata, her accent the same as Lasair’s and Aidan’s.

Lynette shook her head up and down as she looked about the room, trying to figure out where she was. Her vision came to rest immediately upon an oversized stone fireplace that shared the same wall as the double set of doors. Like the bed post it was intricately carved with flames over every inch. A Celtic Symbol, large and almost imposing, stuck out from the over mantel.

Staring at it she recognized the symbol was the same as the one on Aidan’s weapon and gauntlet when he had saved her from Lasair, who as well had displayed the same symbol. She knew now what the symbol meant, fire, which given what she now knew, made sense.

Panning the room further a high back reading chair sat before the fire place. Behind it was a small work area complete with a wooden desk, another high back chair, and several shelves of books along a stone wall that had spider webbed veins of glowing quartz in it. Looking at it closer she saw the quart was pink in color, matching the sconces and that it was actually giving off a soft light.

“Well that’s cool.” She said out loud as the two ladies followed her gaze.

“How does it do that?”

“Quartz and crystal can hold and use many types of energy My Lady. In fact for centuries vast amounts have been stored this way. To use it one must simply interact with it.”

“Interact with it?”

“Allow me to show you.” said Ainsley as she walked over to one of the sconces by the door.

Touching it the sconce dimmed until it went out. Ainsley removed her hand for a second then put it back on. After which the crystal began to glow until she had it returned it to how it was.

“How do you do that?” asked Lynette.

“Simply ask Lirald and she will do as you say.”


“Aye, My Lady.”

“What is Lirald?”

“This place is Lirald, My Lady.”

“I gathered that, but what is Lirald?”

“It is the last of the great Celtic Strongholds from the old world, built in the new, before the betrayal.” Ainsley stopped suddenly looking as if she had said to much.

“The betrayal, what is the betrayal?” Lynette inquired.

“It is something that can be explained at a later time, My Lady.” Aidan’s voice broke in. “Now is the time to get dressed. One does not keep an Oracle waiting, even one as patient as Eurade.”

Looking directly to him she did not bother hiding the annoyance or the irritation she felt.

“You know you can go catch up with her if you want. I’m sure Agata and Ainsley here can get me there just as easily as you can.”

“I am afraid I cannot do that, My Lady.”


“I am your Guardian, My Lady?”

“That means you have to be with me at all times?”

From the corner of her eye she saw both ladies purse their lips and cast their eyes somewhere else.

“Yes it does, My Lady.”


“Yes, My Lady.”

“That wasn’t a question.” She all but snapped.

“I know, My Lady.” his sly smirk raising her frustration level.

“So you’re just going to stand there then, while I get dressed? Figure since you’ve seen half of me naked might as well see all of me, is that it?”

His eyes shifted guiltily to the side. Seeing him do it so made her stop and think of something she had not before. She was naked, how had she gotten that way. When their eyes locked again she saw the answer there, her mouth coming open in realization. Before she could speak he was talking.

“You were in the Binding Ritual, My Lady. As such I needed to be sure you had no other injuries as my brother can be very devious. As I could not undress you out in the open, and as upon returning here neither of your ladies in waiting was available, I took it upon myself to disrobe you and make certain you were in fact free of further harm. Both your Ladies in waiting arrived shortly after.’

‘Besides, My Lady, there is no harm in me seeing you naked. I am, after all, your Guardian.”

Never in her life had she wished or desired to have something, anything, to throw so much. Had she the strength, the bed would have done perfectly.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Guardian of the Banshee Continued

A continuation of Guardian of the Banshee




            It was like a dream for her as she moved about. Caught in a place that existed somewhere between reality and fantasy, asleep and awake. She knew she could not do the latter until her Binding Ritual was complete, but she also knew three days had passed.

Hers would be shorter than almost all who had come before her, at least that’s what she’d been told by the others. The Specters that came and went freely from within the mixture of flame and fog that surrounded her wherever she went.

            Like a foggy morning upon the beach, before her, spreading out as far as she could see, amber and red colored waves of flame flowed like an ocean. Sitting directly above it, just as calm, was the fog, green in its color but ethereal in its ways. Both came forever towards her as she stood upon the shore.

Glancing down to the black colored sand, she knew it came from the mixture of the two. As each wave came up, the fog cooled it rapidly and tiny flecks of the flame broke off and remained behind. She had expected the countless billions of shards to be sharp against her bare feet. She was pleasently surprised to discover they were too small to do any harm. Acting instead like any other kind of sand, save perhaps feeling denser than any she could recall.

Looking back to the ocean and the fog the Specters, past queens themselves, continued to fly about. They had given her a new sense of purpose to her otherwise wrecked and turned upside down life. A life she was more than happy to let go, one in which she had lost everything and felt more alone then she thought possible. At most a moment’s thought went through her before she said yes, discovering she wanted what they asked from her with every fiber of her being.

For her it felt right, natural, as if she was meant to be what they asked her to be, their Queen of the Banshee. Protector of what was known to them as the Middle World. One of three realms connected and protected by the Celtic Fire, thus her decision within it had been easily made.

A smile came to her as she felt the Fire respond to her thoughts, wrapping her up in its warm embrace, promising protection just like her Guardian. The Celtic Fire and her Guardian, one simply a physical incarnation of the other, allowed free will and a life of his own, were forever linked to her. It would always be that way unless she chose to relinquish her title and throne or she was killed.

Her last thought brought forth a dormant and powerful rage from within the Fire. She felt it stir within her as the Specters, feeling it too, flew about in distress. All of them shared hatred towards the source of this feeling. All knowing to well that it had been done many times before, by one who had once sworn to protect queens, but then had betrayed them, breaking that sacred pact between Guardian and Queen.


-The Fallen Guardian-

The idea of a Guardian striking down a queen had never been thought of before. A Guardian doing such an atrocious act was unimaginable, until him. How many had he slain, how many had he converted to his Dark Banshee. No one knew the true number, though in truth they were afraid to know.

The Fallen Guardian had proven to be more than a force to be reckoned with. Always gaining the upper hand in the constant struggle between he and his brother. So much in fact it had taken her own Guardian breaking one of the most coveted vows of the Guardians code to save her.

-A Guardian does not interfere with a Queens’s choice, she alone must choose-

But Aidan had done so, telling her many years ago that when a man asked her to say his name, she should say his instead. Doing so had saved her and brought her here to the Celtic Fire and in reality, to her destiny.

As her thoughts focused on her chosen Guardian, the Celtic Fire and Specters responded, their anger and rage subsiding. Of the two Guardians who had been created to protect the Queen of the Banshee, to protect her, it was Aidan who had always been the embodiment of what that meant.

Lasair, once honorable and considered the better of the two, had never lived up to the same level as his younger brother. He had allowed his ego to get in the way more and more, which from what she had been shown, ultimately led to his downfall. A downfall she had yet to fully understand as it was never fully revealed to her.

She knew only that Lasair killed a queen, and in doing so created the first Dark Banshee. But beyond that nothing more had been divulged. It would be in time she had been promised and for now she accepted that.

Once the rage and anger dissipated, the Celtic Fire’s excitement began to take over, its anticipation of what was to come on Samhain evident. For too long had its middle realm throne sat unoccupied. But soon all three realms would be once again in balance.

-It is almost time, Queen Lynette. Soon you will awaken from your Binding and take your place upon the Throne of Souls. The Celtic Fire can barely wait-

“I can feel.”

-Are you prepared for what is to come-

“I am.”

-Do you understand to what ends Lasair will go to keep you from doing so-

“I do.”

 -Do you trust in your chosen Guardian-

“With my very life.”

-Then prepare to wake, our queen, and embrace your destiny. Be reborn through the Celtic Fire and take your place amongst those that protect this world.-

The ocean of flames suddenly surged towards her, surrounding her in a wide circle as the Specters gathered around. Their gazes locked onto her, each of their eyes burning with the same intense colors of the oceanic flames.


Slowly the fire rose, creating a wall and separating her from the others. All around her the flames licked back and forth, leapt in every direction,  but she was not afraid. The Celtic Fire, like her Guardian, would never intentionally harm her. This was the final stage of the Binding Ritual. She needed to be reborn through the Celtic Fire into her realm, forever joining them together.

Once she was there her Guardian, Aidan, would be waiting for her and together they would begin their path. A path that would see the Middle World back in alignment with the other two worlds, the Over and Under as they were respectively called.

 She was thinking upon this when suddenly something did not feel right. The Celtic Fire reacted differently to something. Something it could not understand yet somehow knew.

She was still trying to discern the meaning of it when in the blink of an eye the rage from earlier returned with a vengeance. Sweeping over her and the Specters like a flood, all their thoughts and feelings linked together.

Like before the source remained the same, but how could that be? What had driven the Celtic Fire to react in such a way, here within itself? A moment later she had her answer as a familiar and hated voice came through, as though it was one of the Specters.


Fear gripped her as she heard the word. She knew it, had heard it, and had loathed hearing it. The voice belonged to the one who had tried to kill her on a back highway in Oregon. It belonged to the one that had betrayed them all, the bringer of the Dark Banshee, it was Lasair.

At once she knew this could not be, it was impossible. He of all creatures could not be here within the Binding Ritual. She was within the most hallowed circle of the Celtic Fire, its very heart. A place where only queens could tread, anyone else, including a Guardian would perish. As if to prove her wrong his voice echoed in her head.

-Come now Lass, there is no need to hide from me-

An uneasy feeling came over her while she looked at the curtain of flames. The distinct feeling that he was there just beyond them, peering directly in at her sent a chill up her spine. She swore she could almost see his eyes, so full of that twisted glee she had already come to hate, piercing through to her.


The word was barely spoken before a hand snaked its way through the flames in front of her.  Her eyes went wide as she backed away, still trying to comprehend how this was possible. Finding a way into the Celtic Fire was one thing, but being able to survive touching the very heart of the Celtic Fire was incomprehensible.

The heart was supposed to be a queen’s last bastion. Her last defense if all else failed her. It was where no matter what she would be safe. Yet here he was proving otherwise, watching as the hand before her grasped at the air a few times before withdrawing from the circle.

Gazing at the spot it had vanished from she waited for it to return, all but positive it would. When it did not her eyes darted from side to side, trying to seek it out, while she backed further up, putting herself further away from where it had appeared. A second later something grabbed her from behind.

Barely having time to register the touch a painfully sharp chill tore through her, all but freezing her where she was. The sensation was the same as when Aidan had touched her for the first time, coursing through every part of her insides at once. But where Aidan’s touch had been warm and inviting, this was cold and full of suffering.

She felt every movement of it as it seeped through her like a thick oil. Slowly making its way to her heart as every sensation caused a new wave of revulsion in her. She felt it reach her heart where it went numb, as if suddenly encased in a block of ice. The numbing sensation began to spread through her body, making her shiver despite being within the flames. A moment later she became aware of her own breath before her as her breathing turned to quick panting.

Like with Aidan images flashed before her, but these were sorrowful. Memories full of betrayal and hatred overtook her, each one bringing with it a new level of unimaginable pain frm within, forcing her to her knees.

She saw past queens that had died or been converted at Lasair’s hands. Queens who had listened to Lasair, put their trust in him, like she almost had, being tricked into choosing him as their Guardian. Only to find out afterwards the terrible mistake they had made.

Tears flowed from her eyes as the gut wrenching scenes of these women continued to pass before her. All of them begging and pleading for him to spare them, to spare their life, some offering to do anything he wanted in return. His response was always the same, taking great joy in making each one he dealt with suffer more than the one before. Insisting that each time he cornered a new one of them, he could heighten their pain even more.

He knew full well what he was doing and worse, she could feel that he enjoyed every second of it. In those moments they were joined she came to see the immense level of hatred he held towards queens.

Then the memories of the transformations began, all of them filled with just as much anguish and torment. The excruciating feelings of these women having their souls all but ripped apart at his very hands echoed through her. Torn apart until all that remained was but a shell of who they once were.

            As the memories continued she felt herself slipping away, becoming lost to their despair. She became scared and angry all at once, afraid she would become like those other queens, become as they were. Desperately she called out to the Specters, to the Celtic Fire itself, but even as she did she only heard Lasair’s response.

            -They cannot help you Lass. I am as much a part of them as you are. Joined to the Celtic Fire as only a queen can be-

            “That is not possible, Fallen One.”

            -So you know of me now, do you Lass. I Figured as much. And as impossible as it may be, here I am none the less. Though I will admit I had to utilize many of my Dark Banshee to get here, and I assure you it was well worth their sacrifice to do so-

            “Even now you would use and destroy those you converted, those you once sought to protect, for what? To see me, to kill me, how far you have fallen indeed, Guardian?”

            -I would do so to deliver a message, Lass-

            “A message?” her own outrage hitting new heights. “You would destroy my sisters for a mere message?”

Kneeling there she felt herself starting to slip further away. Already she could no longer feel her arms or legs, and as the feeling from her torso began to fade she wondered if this was the end.

 -Be at ease Lass. I cannot kill you in here, but I can make my presence known-

Sharp pains, like a hundred needles all at once, suddenly jabbed at her heart before stopping just as quickly. Barely had she recovered when a second later the sensation returned, then stopped again. Several more times the pain came and went and as it did a wave of helplessness began to fill her. An image of her Guardian ran through her mind, replaced rapidly by another volley of pain.

When it was gone something new appeared within her, something small and deep down. Barely big enough for her to notice, but enough that it drew her attention, made her focus in on it. It was warmth, tiny, but there nonetheless, warding off the cold in its little corner.

Concentrating on it she clung to it, needing the warmth it offered as it rose up to meet her. It continued up until it met her heart and surrounded it, blocking away the cold. She felt Lasair respond to it as well, his grip loosening as he tried to understand what it was.

-What have we here-

All at once the warmth surged through her body, instantly taking it back over and driving the rest of the cold out. Once she was back in control of herself her head fell back and a scream, loud and powerful, burst forth from her.

Lasair’s hand released itself as if on fire, his pain filled scream filling her head.


 Her scream lasted for many long seconds until she felt beyond drained. Like every bit of energy she possessed was gone. When she stopped she fell forward on to her hands, her body trembling violently as she gulped for air.

Recognizing she was still in danger she tried to crawl away, to put as much space between her and Lasair as possible. But it was beyond her at this point and in the process of doing so she ended up falling on her belly. With the last of her strength she rolled herself to her back.

Still trying to figure out what had happened she saw Lasair clutching his ears and shaking his head vigorously back and forth. His body was engulfed in blue and green flame, a stark contrast to the amber and red that burned behind him.

Turning in her direction she saw his eyes, unable to hide the amount of anger he felt. No doubt if they were anywhere else she would be dead. Lowering his hands to his side he stayed where he stood, the experience of whatever it was that just happened still fresh in his mind.

-I see you have learned the Queens Scream, Lass. I have always wondered if it was real or not-

He paused as his unforgettable twisted smile came to his face.

-When the time comes I will enjoy making you one of my Dark Banshee. I will enjoy every second of tearing apart your sweet body and soul. I will relish in it like I have not in ages, even more so when I make my brother watch me do it. Deriving the utmost pleasure from your wails of pain, perhaps even unlocking the secret of the Queens Scream-

Breathing heavily she was confused about what he was talking about.

-Don’t feel like talking, your Ladyship-

His eyes narrowed in thought.

-Or did the Queens Scream take that much out of you-

When she did not answer, his smile got smugger.

-That’s interesting. Here I came to simply deliver a message, and yet I have learned so much more-

He began to walk towards her, slowly.

-Tell me Lass. Where is your Guardian now? Where is the one you chose-

Something overtook her bringing on a new sense of weakness as he kept advancing. Something began to pull her somewhere, but she could not figure out why or to where. At least until he provided the information, kneeling directly before her.

-I see our time grows short Lass. The Celtic Fire has finally finished preparing you for your rebirth. Oh it is a very special occasion, Lass. Trust me, I know. So please allow me to deliver my message-

She watched as all the humor and sarcasm fell from his face, replaced with evil and determination.

-I want you, and my brother, to know, that there is no place you can go, that I will not find you. And the next time we meet, will be the last-

She had just enough time to blink before he lunged at her.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Key of Magic Chapter One

Chapter 1


Prince Albert glanced behind him and nodded dismissing the ever present royal guards. Dante shifted on the velvet settee. The English Prince Consort sat across from him appraising him. The normal quiet demeanor Dante had worked hard to cultivate started to crumble. The need to pace the elaborately gilded space bubbled closer to the surface. The need to return to his workshop close behind. He drummed his fingers against the settee arm. He didn't have time for this.

"You summoned me for a reason?"

"We have a job for you." Prince Albert sat back clasping his hands together in his lap.

"Ah. How large do you want it and what type of motor?" Dante pulled out a small notebook to jot down the requirements for whatever the Prince Consort wished him to build.

"Put away your paper. It's not a build we need from you."

Dante frowned and tilted his head to the side. "I don't understand."

Prince Albert sighed and laid his head back along the chair. He closed his eyes. For a brief second Dante glimpsed the sickly man he'd been decades ago.

"Your British Council recommended you to assist us." Albert replied softly. For a second Date was sure the man was going to fall asleep as they spoke.

Dante sat back. "Why would the Council align itself with you?"

Instead of an answer, Albert sat forward and handed him a folded parchment. Dante grimaced at the evidence of the Council's involvement. Every Ettarian knew what that particular parchment paper meant and it was never good. He unfolded it sliding a secretive glance at Albert. Albert watched him. What did it say that the Council had decided to include Albert in an issue that was more than likely not a human one?

Dante turned down to the parchment bracing himself for whatever the Council deemed important enough to interrupt his life. He frowned at the incomprehensible script in black ink.

It has come to the attention of the British Council that something of vital importance to both our world and the world of humans has been discovered. One of our agents and his soul companion discovered a mysterious clock that looks to be a countdown device. The word we received, though the information is not yet verified, is that it is connected to a machine that our enemies wish to gain control of. If they get their hands on the machine, the world as we all know it will be ended. The Council requests your assistance in verifying this information. It has come to our attention that you have within your court a girl who can ascertain the information we need. We recommend contacting Dante, an Ettarian inventor living within London, to escort this female to the clock.

"My adopted niece, Calypso Montgomery is not like most women you've encountered."

"As I haven't encountered many recently, I hardly doubt that is of significance." Dante put an ironic tone to the words hiding the irritation bubbling to the surface.

He stood up and made his way to the paned window. Ignoring the reflection in the glass he looked out at the moonlight draped garden below them. A woman. He'd be babysitting a human woman.

"Callie is-"

"What's her connection to all of this? Why this particular woman?"

Albert sighed, drawing Dante's gaze to his reflection in the glass. For a man of power, Albert looked his age. His shoulders stooped as he made his way behind the massive wood and brass desk. The stress of the decades ruling beside his beloved Queen Victoria was definitely taking a toll on the human.

"Why am I the only one brought into this?"

"You're not the only one. There are other agents involved in this business, which you will meet with tomorrow morning. Callie is just as talented as her father, Jasper..."

Dante frowned turning to watch Albert shift papers on the desktop. The name was familiar in a vague sort of way. Albert's eyes slid away letting him know he wasn't divulging the full truth. Dante leaned back against the window sill fighting for patience.

"Jasper is extremely talented with clockwork. When he was younger they spent a good amount of time in Egypt on several archeological digs. He and his daughter brought back artifacts no one has ever seen before. He always had amazing stories of their uses and life pre-abandonment."

"And his daughter?"

"Just as talented. She's away in Egypt on a dig her father abandoned a couple of years ago."

"Abandoned?" Dante's internal alarm system went off. Chills chased down his spine.

"It's of no consequences. Personal issue I believe he mentioned at the time." Albert waved his hand airily in the air as if brushing the thought away.

Huh. Alright, he'd ignore the slip for the moment. They needed to get back to the woman.

"Again, why does it have to be this particular woman? And why am I the one set to babysit?"

"We are sure your Council has their reasons. We do not deign to understand them or their decisions. Callie is gifted in a very unique way. We completely understand why she is being summoned to help, but we are not happy with it. We've sent a summons to bring her home. Our intelligence has informed us she will be in tomorrow morning. You will go to the docks and retrieve her and bring her here. We have information regarding her father that she won't be pleased to hear."

Huh. If Albert was concerned for this woman, she had to mean a great deal to the man on a personal level. Did that mean they were lovers? Dante shook his head. There had never been any rumors that the Prince Consort took lovers. In fact it was the exact opposite. Albert adored Queen Victoria.

Dante grimaced. Meeting this mysterious woman brought up a whole new issue. Daylight would be in full swing by the time he would be able to collect her from the docks. And that was certainly not going to work for him. Perhaps he could send the carriage with David to retrieve her? David would make sure she arrived at Buckingham without incident.

The door swung open. Soft feminine laughter filled the dark room. Dante slid into the shadows, where he was most comfortable.    

“Thank you.”

Dante's body went rigid. His feet rooted to the bamboo flooring as the exotic scent of water lilies floated across the room filling his nostrils. The woman entering the room was not what he expected. He slid his gaze down her lithe athletic body. Then did a double take.

Her leather trousers clung to her curves like a second skin. Her blouse nothing more than a man’s suit shirt tucked in and covered with a short leather jacket.  Several hanging gadgets from a wide black leather belt balanced low across her hips jangled like bells with each movement. She sashayed with an efficient grace as if she was a royal herself before stopping in front of Prince Albert with a smile.

“You sent for me, Uncle Albert?”

 Liquid heat, like melted steel, flowed through his veins settling in his aroused body at her voice. The muscles in his legs went numb. He plopped down on the window sill. He hadn’t felt desire in decades. Even the tingle on the roof of his mouth, signaling the emergence of his fangs was a new sensation.  

Swallowing back the need, Dante concentrated on her. With a simple thought he slid his own mind into the personal energy that was all hers. An electrical zap of energy much like the electrical machines some physicians were playing with coursed through his body. His breath froze in his lungs. He tried again this time pushing up against an obstacle.

The air around her glowed as if a protection barrier surrounded her. He scowled. Who was this woman?

He turned to Albert and slipped inside his mind like an oiled feather through water. Easier than it should have been. Albert's mind was riddled with guilt and fear of the possibility of putting Callie in danger. Not to mention the guilt of keeping information of her father's involvement from her. Jasper had met with the British Council over several meetings before his disappearance.

Interesting. He'd have to inquire into those meetings.

Prince Albert held his arms open. She minced away shaking her head.

“I can't Uncle Albert. I'm filthy. I only just returned to London and came straight away.”

“You did not stop to freshen up?”

“Your message said it was urgent. What's wrong?"

Emotions swirled on her expressive face. Her black kid gloved hands clenched behind her back. Dante curbed the impulse to rush in and break the news of her father's disappearance to her. And yet, he wanted to hold her in his arms as she cried out her sorrow and swear that he would find her father. No matter what. Dante snorted softly.

What rubbish.

Callie straightened, pulling back her shoulders. Her lips tightened into a straight line. Prince Albert approached her with stilted steps.

“We summoned you for as assignment of integral importance to the Empire.”

"I don't understand. What could I possibly do for you? I'm not qualified for anything other than archeology, Uncle."

"Your skills as a clock-worker has been consigned."

She frowned pulling back slightly. "Me?"

Albert nodded.

"You've got to mistaken. I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable as father. Why wasn't he asked?"

Albert cleared his throat. "There's more. Your connections in Egypt as also in your favor."

"Father has those same connections. Besides, I just came from Egypt. Why bring me here only to send me back? Couldn't you have sent a messenger there?"

"This is not to be shared with anyone outside of the select few who know."

"Again, why not father?"

Albert sighed. "We can't ask your father."


"He's not in London."

She titled her head to the right frowning at him. “What?”

Prince Albert halted at the corner of the desk, surprise flickering on his face. “No one sent you notice?”

“Notice of what?” Her hands rubbed down her outer thighs.

“Your father is missing.”


“Two months ago. You never received word?”

“Two months?" she stared down at her feet. "That was about the time his letters stopped, but he was never good at that. I thought...have you found him?”

Prince Albert tried to lay a comforting hand on her arm but she threw it off.

 “No, he hasn't been found."

"Why isn't anyone looking for him? He wouldn't just vanish."

"I have men searching as we speak."

"I'd rather look for him myself, Uncle." Callie turned away from Albert. She stilled as her gaze collided with Dante's.

She owned the most unusual eyes he'd ever seen. Bright amber. She narrowed hers at him and crossed her arms over her ample chest.

“Who are you?”

“Dante is here for your benefit, Callie.”

She snorted. Irritation crossed Prince Albert's face briefly before morphing into resignation.

“As we explained before, we need you for a special task."

“I want to know about my father.”

"At this moment, your father doesn't matter. You will be meeting with someone in the morning to inform you further."

"Then I want to know about father."

Albert narrowed his eyes at her. "Calypso."

She turned back to Albert with a sniff. "Father first."

"You're not going to let this go are you?" She shook her head. "He disappeared two months ago. That is all the information I have for you."

"What about the servants? He never leaves without some notice."

"There was nothing left behind. Dante-"

“There has to be.” She insisted putting her clenched hands on her hips. A small smile graced Prince Albert's mouth for a brief second before fading to a sternness Dante had yet to see from him this night.

“Dante will take you home."

She turned half way to glare at Dante again. Clearly she didn’t trust him. He wondered if it was his interference in her life or the orders from her Prince that caused the feeling. She looked him up and down curling her lip before speaking to Albert.

“I will say again Uncle, I don't need anyone.”

“This is not an option Calypso Montgomery. This is an order from your Regent. It will stay an order no matter how much you complain or whine.”

 After a minute Callie sighed.

“Yes, your majesty.” She replied softly bowing her head slightly.

The harsh sound of her boots against the bamboo floor echoed his heart beats as she approached. Her exotic water lily scent invaded his nose. He held his breath keeping still like a prey in the sight of a predator. She stood still watching him emotions flickering across her expressive face before settling on resignation.

“Dante, is it?” He nodded his acknowledgment. “Well, Dante, call me Callie." she held out her hand to him. He grasped the small delicate appendage securely in his own left hand. "I guess we better get to work then. The faster we get this over with the faster I can find my father.” She turned back to Prince Albert. “Where was the last place father was seen?”

Albert stood up before rounding the desk. She stepped towards Prince Albert as if she wanted to hold him back. She scowled before following him to the desk.

"Where did this come from?" She scooped a dull metal object off the top of his desk.

“It is for Elizabeth.”

“Oh!” She smiled briefly.

Dante moved closer. In the palm of her hand sat a small brass statue of a cat about the size of a child's wooden letter block. The metal shined like newly pressed brass. 

“It is the smallest one yet.” Her hushed voice filled the empty silence.

“He was here only long enough to grant it to us.”

She frowned. “Father didn't start it for you?”

“Start it?” Dante looked closer at the statue but didn’t see any key to wind it up. The mechanical toys were just starting to make an appearance in the human world.

“My father makes mechanical pets for the wealthy. At each birth of the royal house the new babe is presented with one.” She held it up to the light scowling at the thing. “It hasn’t been started.”

“Your father was missing an intricate machinery piece. He said he would return the next morning to fix it. He never did.”

“What?” She looked up at him. “Father would never leave it if it wasn't working. He would never have brought it in the first place."

“He is meticulous with that?” Dante asked.

She nodded. He held out his hand for it. She hesitated a minute before putting the small cat in his palm. The softness of her kid glove scraped across his burn scars.  The copper was cold against his scars. The toy was smaller than most he’d seen and very intricate.

“There doesn't seem to be any pieces missing.” Callie’s voice floated over his shoulder.

Dante started; surprised he hadn’t heard or felt her getting so close to him. He was always hyper-aware of movement near him. He glanced out the side of his eyes to watch her. The closer she was the more the color of her eyes stood out, and the stronger the desperate urge became to sink his fangs in her carotid and make her his forever. Licking his lips he dragged his gaze from the steady pulse point at the base of her throat.

“Can I take this home Uncle Albert?” She turned to look at the Prince. 

“Only if you bring it back working.”

She smiled taking the toy from Dante, the sound of material scraping scars loud in his ears. “I promise to return it in perfect working condition.”

She had already opened the door and was heading out when she stopped mid-stride. She glanced at him over her shoulder irritated. “Well, are you coming or not?”

Dante looked back at Prince Albert, whose eyes crinkled in amusement. “Remember. It does not matter how powerful of a creature you are, if she is hurt in any way, you will answer for it. Protect her with your life.”



Available Jan. 21, 2014
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