Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.
* * * * *
Part 8 (slightly revised)
In the fairy realm, Nick, Natalie, and Shale arrived at the gnome village called Evernight. The blacksmith was taller-than-average and more solidly built than most of the villagers. His muscles bulged as he brought a huge hammer up and struck hot steel with it. Glowing orange sparks flew in all directions. After several more such blows, he set the hammer down.
â€œGood evening. Shale, itâ€™s been a few months. Glad you could make it.â€
Then he noticed that Nick and Natalie were vampires. Gnomes, like most fairy folk, had an innate sense for magic. Vampires were no exception, and they registered strongly on the gnomesâ€™ mental radar because of their dark nature -- hence, why the gnomes referred to them as dark ones.
â€œDark ones, here?â€ Joram mopped his sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his work shirt and nervously glanced around. â€œWhat can I, er, do for you?â€
â€œIâ€™m here for my usual supplies,â€ Shale said. â€œThese two have proven themselves to be trustworthy so far. They seek information.â€
â€œThe supplies are an easy matter. The information depends on what you seek.â€
Nick told him of the fairy Isabelle and what she suspected about a gnome being responsible for Schankeâ€™s abduction. He also told Joram about the use of magic to disguise the body so they would all believe that Schanke was dead. â€œAny information you can give us would help,â€ the vampire finished.
Joram scratched his beard. â€œHmmâ€¦sounds like it may be the work of a powerful sorcerer. Most donâ€™t bother themselves with human affairs. However, to the east lies a tower where a sorcerer lives. His servant girl is a human. Poor thing, sheâ€™s been there so long that she doesnâ€™t even remember who she was.â€
â€œWho was she?â€ Natalie asked, curious.
â€œLocal legend has it that she was the true love of a dark one named Lucienâ€¦or at least, he thought she was his true love. Fairies are known to change places with human children, and in some cases to assume their identity for the childâ€™s natural life span. When that is over, the fairy returns to their home and reports everything he or she has learned to the fairy queen. It has been rumored that Lucienâ€™s true love was a changeling. Anyway, he came to the fairy realms searching for her, but he never found what he was looking for. When he left, he was a bitter man.â€
Nickâ€™s face was very pale. How could this be? Fleur, his Fleur, had died centuries ago. How could she be locked up in a sorcererâ€™s tower in this fairy tale land? If his Fleur was not who he thought she was, who had she been?
His entire world had just been inverted. He did not understand how LaCroix could have kept this from him when they had shared blood, but his sire admittedly hadnâ€™t trained him in everything. Perhaps there was a way to keep secrets from blood. No doubt, this sorcerer had something to do with Schankeâ€™s disappearance as well.
â€œAre you all right?â€ Natalie asked, realizing what this information could do to him. â€œNick?â€
â€œIâ€™m fine,â€ he replied a bit more sharply than heâ€™d intended. To the gnome, he said, â€œThank you, Joram. I owe you a great debt for your aid. I will try to repay you, if I can.â€
â€œYou know this Lucien, donâ€™t you?â€ Shale asked.
â€œAs it turns out,â€ Nick answered, â€œI didnâ€™t know him as well as I thought. But he is no longer alive, so it doesnâ€™t matter.â€
â€œLucien was your sire, wasnâ€™t he?â€
â€œAnd you have something to do with this woman he loved, Iâ€™m guessing.â€
Nick nodded. â€œShe was my mortal sister. But if the girl I knew was a fairy, who was she?â€
â€œIt is possible you knew your sister,â€ Joram said. â€œThe switch may have taken place when she was a small child. It usually happens shortly after birth, but that isnâ€™t always the case. If Fleur is here, thereâ€™s a chance she could be alive.â€
â€œEven after all these years?â€ Nick wondered aloud.
â€œTime passes differently for mortals here, particularly where magic is concerned. If that sorcerer is involved, your sister may very well be enslaved to him.â€
â€œI have to find her. I have to find Fleur.â€
Natalie touched his shoulder gently. â€œWe will find her together, Nick.â€ Her icy fingers touched his cold skin. Somehow they both felt the warmth -- not physical warmth, but emotional warmth.
gazed into her eyes. â€œYes. Weâ€™ll discover what happened to Fleur. If sheâ€™s alive, weâ€™ll bring her home, where she belongs.â€
â€œAnd weâ€™ll find out what happened to Schanke, too.â€
Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.
* * * * *
The sorcererâ€™s tower loomed over the forest, casting a long, dark, and twisted shadow across the land. But the most unusual aspect of it, other than the tower itself, was the large wooden door covered with strange carvings. They resembled a childâ€™s random markings at first glance, until one looked much closer and realized they had been deliberately made to form a pattern.
High inside the tower, a beautiful woman brought a tray holding cheese, fruit, bread, and a glass of water to a pale gnome wearing a dark robe. He was hunched over a parchment at a wooden table. A silver candle flickered in the darkness, illuminating a purple quill pen and a bottle of ink nearby.
â€œMordan,â€ she whispered, â€œIâ€™ve brought your meal.â€
The gnome looked up. â€œHssss! Why do you bother me, human? Just leave the tray on my table and go.â€
It would be a very short time before Mordanâ€™s plans were put into motion. He had foreseen this day centuries ago, when the Dark One named Lucien approached him with the sad tale of his beloved Fleur. Mordan had found the girl years before by accident and had put her to work. Because Lucien never came to the sorcererâ€™s tower, he never knew Fleur had been there all along.
Everything Mordan was working for would finally come to pass, and now this human servant was interrupting his thoughts and his careful planning. Her role was an intricate part of his plan. She was the lure, and didnâ€™t even know it.
â€œYes, Master.â€ She set the tray down and turned to leave, but Mordanâ€™s icy fingers grabbed her hand.
â€œSince youâ€™re here, perhaps you could stay awhile to keep me company.â€
Centuries of abuse, pain, and suffering showed as the young womanâ€™s face contorted into fear. â€œIâ€¦Iâ€™d rather not.â€ Quickly, she came up with an excuse. â€œThe kitchen needs to be cleaned. Just an hour ago, the house elf made some mischief. I have to clean up his mess.â€
Grimmir, the house elf, had spilled some milk not long ago, but sheâ€™d wiped it up. Her lie still convinced Mordan. Perhaps he didnâ€™t think she had the ability to lie anymore. If so, he was wrong. He nodded and released her from his cold grasp. â€œSome other time, perhaps.â€
She nodded. â€œPerhaps.â€
Once down the stairs, Fleur heaved a sigh of relief. She could hardly believe that sheâ€™d ever been free, but she had vague memories of early childhood, spent with a brother whose hair was as golden as the sun and who had an uncanny way of getting into trouble. Suddenly, there were voices outside. It had been so long since sheâ€™d been able to talk to anyone. She peered out the window.
Beneath the sapphire sky lightly dusted with stars stood a dwarf and two strangers who looked human, but appeared as pale as fairy wings. Fleur hurried to the door, hoping to get there before it woke up. Otherwise, the strangers were in for a surprise.
â€œItâ€™s certainly tall,â€ Natalie remarked. â€œWhat are those strange carvings on the door?â€
Nick shrugged. â€œThis is my first time here, too. I know as much as you do.â€
â€œProbably a spell of protection or some sort,â€ Shale replied. â€œWe should use caution.â€
They approached the door cautiously. Nick was about to knock on it, when the door suddenly came to life. Carved eyes, a nose, and a mouth sprouted out of the wood.
â€œHello. Is there something I can help you with?â€
Natalie gasped. Nick looked taken aback as well. â€œUh, weâ€™re here to, ah, see the owner of this place. Is, uh, is he at home?â€ the vampire stammered in a very ungraceful manner.
The door creaked open, revealing Fleur. â€œMy master is busy, but Iâ€™m sure he wonâ€™t mind seeing you. We donâ€™t get many visitors these days. Sorry about the door. Enchantments can be very disconcerting if youâ€™re not used to them.â€
Between encountering the talking door and recognizing the woman as Fleur, Nick was stunned speechless. He gaped at her. A thousand words fluttered through his mind like ravens, but none of them sounded right.
â€œWhat is the matter?â€ Fleur asked. â€œDo you need healing?â€
Nick blinked. Through all the centuries of darkness, his heart, and soul had remained largely intact because of his identity. But now he questioned his childhood memories. If his sister wasnâ€™t who he thought she was, then who was he? â€œFleur?â€
She stared at him in amazement. â€œHow do you know my name?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t remember, do you?â€ He gazed at her sadly. â€œIâ€™m your brother.â€
Her amazement gave way to joy as recognition dawned. â€œNicolas?â€ She reached up and touched his arm. â€œIt is you! How can this be?â€
He reached out to give her a hug, but the door slammed shut.
â€œDoor!â€ Fleur exclaimed. â€œWhat are you doing?â€
â€œI am under orders from our master not to let anyone leave here.â€
â€œNo door tells me what to do,â€ Shale grumbled. He lifted Nightbane over his shoulder and brought the axe down. It glowed bright blue as it hit solid wood. The dwarf stared at the spot that heâ€™d struck. Despite his best effort, the door remained undamaged. â€œThatâ€™s impossible!â€
The door laughed, but this time it spoke with Mordanâ€™s voice. â€œFoolish dwarf. Nothing is impossible!â€
â€œThere must be another way out of here,â€ the dwarf said, glancing around.
â€œThe windows,â€ Natalie exclaimed. She took a step towards one, but suddenly found herself in pain as a curare-tainted dart pricked her skin. â€œNo!â€
Mordan himself stepped out of the shadows where he had been lurking, and laughed as she fell to the ground. He held another poisoned dart, which he aimed at Nick as the vampire rushed to attack him with bared fangs. As Fleur screamed, Shale steppd in front of her protectively, holding up Nightbane, which was glowing brightly by now.
Reeling from the poison, Nick found himself slipping into unconsciousness. â€œNatalie,â€ he said hoarsely. Then the shroud of darkness embraced him as the sorcererâ€™s evil laughter filled the air.
Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.
* * * * *
Schanke had been practicing his new abilities with Isabelle for several nights now. It was the third night since Nick and Natalie had disappeared into the fairy realm. He had to remember that Nick was an 800-year old vampire who had fought in the Crusades, and could take care of himself and Natalie just fine. Still, Don couldnâ€™t help but wonder.
Captain Reese was starting to question his excuse that Nick and Natalie had taken a well-deserved vacation over the weekend and just had forgotten to check in. It was Monday, and they still hadnâ€™t shown up. Rumors were spreading like wildfire.
Schanke had even started a rumor of his own, just to perpetuate the idea that the two vampires were on a romantic holiday.
Isabelle chose this evening to appear in her human form. She was tall and slender with long, dark blond hair and blue eyes. Her facial features were also different. If she hadnâ€™t transformed in front of him, Don wouldnâ€™t have recognized her.
â€œWow. You can do that?â€ he asked.
â€œYes. Iâ€™ve been teaching you to use your moon shield against magic. Now itâ€™s time that you learned how to use it against physical attacks, as well.â€
He nodded. The moon was shining brightly this evening. Luminous rays of silver moonlight gleamed through the window, as though they were glowing ribbons scattered across the floor of Nickâ€™s loft. As Schanke got into a defensive stance, Isabelle struck. Heâ€™d learned that fairies were not as fragile or defenseless as they looked. They had their own form of martial arts, which relied upon speed and dexterity.
As Schanke called upon the moonlight and shielded himself with it, a shadow fell across the room, but not blocking the moon. As a result, the fairyâ€™s fist hit the magical shield and was stopped by the silvery light. There was an audible female gasp, though not from Isabelle.
â€œDetective Schanke? What are you doing here? Whereâ€™s Nicolas?â€
He turned around and recognized the beautiful, dark-haired woman standing in the shadows as Janette from the Raven. â€œI donâ€™t know where Nick is,â€ he lied. â€œUh, as for that trick, itâ€™s uh, just special effects. Really.â€
She stepped into the moonlight. â€œDonâ€™t lie to me. I know something has happened to Nick. Has he been killed?â€
â€œNot as far as I know.â€ Schanke felt a tingling at the back of his neck. This woman was dangerous. He didnâ€™t know how, but he could sense the darkness inside of her. â€œYouâ€™re one of them, arenâ€™t you? Youâ€™re a vampire.â€
She frowned. â€œI donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about.â€
â€œNow whoâ€™s lying?â€
Her eyes widened as she realized Schanke knew the truth about vampires. â€œWhere is Nicolas? Do not play games with me.â€
â€œYou wonâ€™t believe me.â€
Schanke looked at Isabelle. Janette looked at her too, seeing the fairy for the first time. The look of complete and utter surprise was very clear on the vampireâ€™s face. â€œFleur? How is this possible?â€
Don looked from the vampire to the fairy and back. â€œWasnâ€™t Fleur Nickâ€™s sister?â€
â€œYes, and yes,â€ Isabelle admitted. The color rose to her cheeks as she blushed. â€œItâ€™s a very long story.â€
â€œIâ€™m waiting,â€ Janette replied.
The absence of the bond between she and Nick had brought her to the loft, the last place she thought sheâ€™d ever visit again. But she had to know if Nick was all right, or if LaCroix had killed him during an intense argument, or if the Enforcers had finally grown weary of his offences. And how was Fleur here? Could this woman simply be a doppelganger of some kind? Either way, Janette had to know what had happened to Nick, and if this woman had anything to do with it.
â€œI am not Fleur,â€ Isabelle said, â€œbut I took her place for a while.â€
â€œTook her place? What does that mean?â€
She blushed again. â€œMy people have a tradition of studying humans. In order to fully immerse ourselves into human culture, we take their places. The children who we trade places with grow up in the fairy realms. When they return as an adult, they donâ€™t remember a thing except in their dreams, and go on with their lives. Itâ€™s our way of gaining information we might otherwise never get. I was tricked, though.â€
â€œBy whom?â€ Janette asked.
â€œI donâ€™t know. But when I saw a young girl centuries ago, it was as if something took control of my heart and my mind. I could not help but wish to be her. And so, one night when Fleur de Brabant was sleeping, I traded places with her. My own queen had told me that the girl would be safe, or so I thought. She must have had other plans, for Fleur never returned to the human realms. I lived her life, even pretending to die of old age.â€
â€œWhat about Lucien?â€
â€œThe vampire? I fell in love with him for a time. It was as if we were destined to be together. But then Nicholas prevented Lucien from drinking my blood, which was a very good thing, because then the charade would have been discovered. Fairy blood can have strange side effects on vampires. Lucien hypnotized me to forget about what I had seen, as he would have done with any mortal.â€
â€œWhat happened then?â€ Schanke asked.
â€œLucienâ€™s hypnosis must have affected me, because my love for him did lessen somewhat. It was as if my heart had not been my own. But when I returned home after my seemingly natural death, my queen was extremely displeased with me for falling in love with a vampire. It was my punishment to watch over Nick from that day forward, knowing that I could never speak to Lucien or show myself to him again. He would always be there because Nicholas was his favorite son.â€
Don shook his head. â€œSounds more to me like LaCroix hated him. Nick killed him because he tried to kill Natalie, you know.â€
â€œHe did?â€ Janette asked. â€œThat must be why I no longer feel his presence. But if Nicolas is in the fairy realms, and still alive, why canâ€™t I feel him?â€
â€œThe fairy realms remain separate from the human realms, though they are inexplicably tied together,â€ Isabelle explained. â€œThere are several entrances to the fairy realms, but they are well-guarded. When did you stop feeling Nickâ€™s presence, Janette?â€
â€œYes. Our bond had been growing fainter and fainter, and then I suddenly stopped sensing him completely a few hours ago.â€
â€œI did not know vampires could sense one another in the different realms,â€ Isabelle admitted. â€œPerhaps he is simply asleep.â€
â€œOr unconscious,â€ Schanke suggested. â€œDonâ€™t you think we should find him? It has been three days.â€
â€œTime flows differently in the fairy realm. Iâ€™m sure that Nick is fine.â€
â€œNo.â€ Janette shook her head. â€œIf he was, Iâ€™d sense it. Detective Schanke is right. We should look for Nicolas. Isnâ€™t there anything you can do, Fleur, or whoever you are?â€
â€œMy name is Isabelle, and there is a scrying spell I can try. All I need is a bowl of water and moonlight.â€
After finding a bowl in Nickâ€™s kitchen and filling it with water, Isabelle set it by the window so that it caught the moonâ€™s silver rays. She began to chant softly in her language. As the water glowed with magic, an image appeared on the liquidâ€™s surface. It showed Nick, Natalie, a woman who could have been Isabelleâ€™s identical twin except for having disheveled hair and wearing a ragged dress, and a dwarf with flame-red hair. They were all in a cage, and none of them were awake.
â€œI knew it,â€ the vampire exclaimed. â€œWe need to find them immediately. Isabelle, take us to the fairy realms, now.â€
She blanched, thinking of the punishment she would likely receive as a result. â€œIâ€¦I canâ€™t do that.â€
â€œNicolas needs your help.â€
â€œSo do Natalie and Fleur, if that is the real Fleur,â€ Schanke replied. â€œWithout your help, they could die.â€ He looked at Janette. â€œVampires can die, right?â€
â€œYes,â€ she replied. â€œIsabelle, if you want to make up for what you did to Fleur and to Lucien and Nick, you will take us there.â€
The fairy looked at the floor as tears streamed from her eyes. â€œAll right. But my queen wonâ€™t be pleased. I canâ€™t guarantee that she wonâ€™t take out her wrath on you, as well as me.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll deal with her later if we have to,â€ Schanke said. â€œBut we need to help them now, Isabelle. Please help us.
The fairy nodded. â€œStand back.â€ She took a deep breath and began to chant. As she did, a magical portal appeared, shimmering in the moonlight. â€œWhen you step through that, you will be in the fairy realms.â€
Schanke nodded and stepped forward, only to be engulfed by the light.
Janette looked at the fairy. â€œThank you, Isabelle.â€
â€œYouâ€™re quite welcome. Please hurry. Iâ€™ll be right behind you.â€
The vampire stepped through the portal and the fairy followed immediately after her.
Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.
* * * * *
Isabelleâ€™s portal opened directly into the room where Nick, Natalie, Fleur, and Shale were imprisoned. Don was the first to step out of the shimmering portal. Janette and a woman who looked amazingly like Fleur followed him. Fleurâ€™s twin transformed into her fairy shape as the portal vanished. Natalieâ€™s eyelids fluttered open at the sound of the rescuers approaching.
â€œAre you all right?â€ Schanke asked, seeing Natalie.
â€œCanâ€™tâ€¦move,â€ she whispered with a strained voice.
â€œCurare?â€ Janette guessed correctly. If her senses were correct, Natalie was a vampire now. â€œWell, I am glad to see that Nicolas has finally brought you across. Now, letâ€™s see about getting you out of here.â€ As she reached toward the lock to break it, the prisonerâ€™s eyes widened in fear. Janetteâ€™s hand froze.
â€œDonâ€™t touch that,â€ Isabelle exclaimed. â€œItâ€™s magically sealed. We have to find a way to break the spell. Only then will we be able to open the lock.â€
* Iâ€™m so close. Power is within my grasp. With Natalieâ€™s blood within my reach, I canâ€™t fail. Soon Iâ€™ll cast the spell, and all I desire will be mine.*
The thought wasnâ€™t Natalieâ€™s, but she heard it inside her head, nonetheless. It sounded like the sorcerer. Her eyes snapped open. â€œItâ€™s me,â€ she said incredulously as the shock appeared on her face. The effects of the curare were finally starting to wear off. â€œMordan wants me,â€ she said. â€œI heard his thoughts somehow. Itâ€™s my blood he needs.â€
â€œStrange,â€ Isabelle said. â€œIâ€™ve never heard of a vampire gnome before. I thought the condition only affected humans.â€
Natalie shook her head negatively. â€œHeâ€™s not a vampire. He needs my blood for some sort of spell.â€ She wanted to stand up, but Nick was unconscious and lying on top of her legs. â€œMordan must have the key to the cage. Heâ€™ll need it to get me out of here so he can kill me.â€
Janette nodded. â€œThat makes sense. All right, letâ€™s go find Mordan.â€
Cackling laughter filled the room. â€œLooking for me? I assure you, youâ€™ve found much more than you deserve to. Meddling fools! Youâ€™re going to pay for your insolence!â€
Don remembered the encounter in the alley below Nickâ€™s loft, just a few nights ago. Was this the same man? If so, surely there was a way to defeat him. Then a single thread of moonlight shone through a crevice in the ceiling above them. He chose the opportunity to summon the moon shield, at the same moment as Mordan began to chant. An arrow as black as midnight appeared in midair and flew in his direction, only to be absorbed by shimmering moonlight.
Janette stared at him for a moment. â€œMore special effects, Detective?â€
â€œYeah, something like that.â€ He looked slightly sheepish.
The vampire followed the sound of Mordanâ€™s heartbeat and flew up to where he was hiding.
â€œThis is not your fight, Janette. Leave now,â€ he said.
â€œHow do you know my name?â€ she asked.
â€œI have been watching Nicolas for a very long time, longer than you can imagine. The fairy queen and I both have a stake in this, if youâ€™ll pardon my pun. You see, Queen Jasmine wants power as much as I do. Being extremely generous, I have agreed not to destroy her realm when I seize control of this one. I will even allow her to pretend to rule as long as she defers to me, but I wonâ€™t allow you to meddle in my plans any longer.â€
â€œWhy Natalie? What is so special about her blood? And what is your interest in Nicolas?â€
â€œMy dear, you really donâ€™t know, do you? Your precious Nicolas was never completely human to begin with. Somewhere in his ancestry was a fairy. Though the bloodline was diluted over time, there was just enough fairy blood flowing through his veins to make it count. When Lucien brought him across, Queen Jasmine and I thought he knew. But alas, the General really had no idea of just how special Nicolas really was. His blood held the key.â€
â€œThe key to what?â€ Janette asked.
â€œI knew that when Nicolas brought another mortal across, there was a small chance that his dormant potential would be passed along as well. In the time Iâ€™ve been watching him, no one but Natalie has shown that potential. Her blood is what I need to complete the spell to gain control over the moon. When I complete the spell, the fairy moon will be mine alone. No one else will be able to see it, let alone use it for their magic.â€
Janette hissed and bared her fangs. Her eyes glowed crimson as she furiously lunged toward Mordan, knocking him down. â€œLiar! Nicolas is no more a fairy than I am!â€
â€œYouâ€™re wrong,â€ the gnome gasped.
Angrily, the vampire picked him up and threw him into a nearby wall. Then she noticed that he wore a key on a chain around his neck, and she grabbed it. Janette flew down and was about to try the key in the lock when a sizzling bolt of lighting whizzed past her and struck the wall. She turned to see Mordan standing above her with a determined look.
â€œYou wonâ€™t defeat me that easily,â€ he threatened.
The past replayed itself in Natalieâ€™s mind. She heard the voice of the young girl sheâ€™d met briefly in the dwarven city, Vulcanis. Only the raven could defeat the sorcerer. What did that mean? Glancing around the room, Nat saw nothing that resembled a raven whatsoever.
As more sparks flew, Schanke stood protectively in front of Janette and Isabelle, who had transformed into Fleurâ€™s form. The detectiveâ€™s magical moon shield glowed brightly, absorbing the electricity. â€œYeah? Well, I hope that wasnâ€™t your best shot.â€
Janette used the distraction to her advantage and opened the lock. She stepped inside and helped Nick scramble to his feet.
â€œNicolas?â€ Fleur asked as she came to.
He looked at her with concern. â€œYes?â€
She touched his cheek. â€œYouâ€™re so cold. What have you become?â€
â€œIâ€™ll explain later. We have to get out of here.â€
â€œThe raven,â€ Natalie whispered. â€œWe have to find the raven.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Nick looked at her, thinking she meant the nightclub. â€œThe Raven is far away from here, Nat. Weâ€™re not in Toronto anymore.â€
She shook her head. â€œNot that Raven, Nick. We need to find the raven that the little girl was talking about.â€
â€œI have no idea what that might be. How do you know it wasnâ€™t just a childâ€™s nightmare?â€
How, indeed? â€œCall it womenâ€™s intuition or whatever the hell you want, but whatever that raven is, itâ€™s the only way to destroy him.â€
He nodded as another searing bolt of lightning struck Schankeâ€™s moon shield and was comed by it.
â€œKnight, I canâ€™t keep this up forever.â€ Don remarked as beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. â€œItâ€™s time to say hasta la bye bye, and get the hell outta here.â€
â€œRight,â€ Nick agreed. He glanced around, looking for an escape route. But when they did get out, they would have to contend with an enchanted door that was as stubborn as LaCroix. There had to be another way.
Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.
* * * * *
Natalie gasped as pain pierced her head like a dagger. In her mindâ€™s eye, she saw a raven in clear detail. There was no time to think. She had to act. She concentrated as much as she could, which was extremely difficult considering that she was having a migraine at the same time. Her eyes flashed silver steel as the raven appeared from out of nowhere. She pointed at Mordan and it flew toward him.
â€œWhat is that?â€ Janette demanded. â€œHow did you do that?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Natalie answered truthfully through clenched teeth. Through the pain, it was nearly impossible for her to keep the vampire under control.
Nick wrapped his arms around her when he saw the first sign of her gleaming white fangs, concerned that she would go after Fleur or Schanke. â€œNat, you have to control it!â€
â€œI canâ€™t,â€ she screamed at the same time the ravenâ€™s cry slashed through the air.
Mordan was obviously having a difficult time fighting it. He summoned another dark arrow, but the raven dodged it. The magical arrow hit the ceiling. â€œBlast you!â€
The raven chose to take a chance and strike. As the sorcerer shouted in rage, Natalieâ€™s vision went entirely black. She fainted.
Nick caught her gently. â€œNat, donâ€™t leave me now. Come on.â€
Fleur watched in amazement. Natalie and Nicolas were vampires. That much was clear to her. How heâ€™d managed to fight the darkness inside himself was beyond her. There was good in him. Otherwise, he wouldnâ€™t have come all this way to find her.
â€œBlood and ashes,â€ Shale muttered as he came to. He glanced around. â€œDonâ€™t tell me I missed everything.â€
The raven vanished. Its task was finished, so it wasnâ€™t needed any longer.
â€œItâ€™s all right, my love,â€ Nick muttered. â€œYou did it. Everything will be all right now.â€
Slowly she sat up and groaned. â€œOuch. I feel like I have the mother of all hangovers.â€
Schankeâ€™s moon shield dissipated. â€œTell me about it. Oh, man. I could really use some souvlaki right about now.â€
â€œIâ€™m so hungry,â€ Nat whispered as her white fangs gleamed in the light.
Nick chuckled softly. â€œIâ€™m not surprised, my dear. Fleur, um...you might want to close your eyes.â€
â€œWhy?â€ she asked.
â€œBecause Nat needs to feed from me,â€ he explained. â€œWhy donâ€™t you go and see if the spell on the door was broken?â€
â€œAll right.â€ She turned to go.
â€œIâ€™ll go with her just to make sure itâ€™s safe,â€ Schanke replied. He hurried to catch up.
Shale shrugged. â€œI guess I might as well go with them. Never know what you might run into in a place like this.â€ The dwarf followed Schanke.
â€œI donâ€™t know how you did that,â€ Nick told Natalie, â€œbut that was impressive.â€ He kissed her on the forehead.
â€œNick, what am I?â€
â€œA vampire,â€ he replied.
â€œYes, but have there ever been any other vampires with silver eyes before? Has anyone else been able to do what I did tonight?â€ She looked at him seriously. â€œWhat am I?â€
â€œNicolas is part fairy,â€ Janette replied. â€œThat is what Mordan said.â€
Natâ€™s eyes widened. â€œAnd you didnâ€™t know?â€ she asked.
He shook his head. â€œI donâ€™t have any special powers.â€
â€œThey are dormant within you, Nicolas. Perhaps there will come a time when your gifts awaken. Until then, you will have to teach Natalie how to survive,â€ Janette said.
He nodded and bared his wrist. â€œCome on, Nat.â€
Natalie drank deeply. Sheâ€™d tasted his blood before on the night heâ€™d accidentally brought her across. He loved her, that much she knew. It was refreshing to finally know the truth. Now there were no more secrets between them.
Nick helped her to her feet when she was finished. â€œLetâ€™s go,â€ he said.
They found the others upstairs. Isabelle summoned a portal, returning Shale to Vulcanis. Before he left, the dwarf looked at Nick and Natalie. â€œYou are the first Dark Ones to have gained my respect. For that, I will speak to the king about allowing you to return whenever you wish. It is a high honor to be able to visit Vulcanis. Few are allowed to return.â€
â€œThank you,â€ Nick responded. â€œWeâ€™re grateful.â€
Shale stepped through the portal and vanished.
â€œMyraâ€™s probably worried sick. Sheâ€™s probably getting ready to lecture me right now. How am I going to explain all this magic mumbo-jumbo to her, when I canâ€™t even tell her about vampires or fairies?â€
â€œShe loves you, Schank,â€ Nick replied. â€œUse your best judgment. Youâ€™ll think of something to say.â€
â€œYeah. Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re right.â€ Don took a deep breath as Isabelle brought another magic gateway into existence.
â€œThis leads to Nickâ€™s loft,â€ the fairy explained. â€œIf youâ€™re ready to go, we should go now.â€
After they had all stepped through it, Isabelle transformed into her human form. â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ she told Fleur.
â€œI pretended to be you all those years ago.â€
The real Fleur shook her head. â€œIt wasnâ€™t your fault. Mordan was controlling you. I regret my time with him, but not the time I spent in your land. Itâ€™s a beautiful place. Iâ€™ll keep it in my heart always.â€
â€œThank you.â€ Isabelle looked around. â€œIâ€™m sorry too, Nick. I wasnâ€™t able to tell you about myself until now.â€
â€œItâ€™s all right. You didnâ€™t have a choice. I understand that.â€ The vampire smiled. â€œYouâ€™re always welcome here, Isabelle. You know that.â€
The fairy smiled as she transformed back into her natural form. Her wings shimmered in the light. â€œI will always think of you fondly. But I must go. My queen is calling me home, and I dare not disobey.â€
â€œGood luck. If you need anything, you know where to find me.â€
Isabelle nodded, and then flew off, vanishing into the shadows. There was a long silence.
â€œNicolas?â€ Fleur asked.
â€œI should not impose on you, and I know that you are very different from the brother I once knew, but...â€
â€œShe could stay at my old place for now,â€ Natalie said. â€œSidâ€™s still there. He could use some company, besides Grace coming by to feed him.â€
Nick nodded. â€œYou can sleep here tonight. Tomorrow, weâ€™ll get you moved in. Iâ€™ll show you the city.â€
â€œFine. I just have one more question.â€
â€œWhat year is it?â€
He blinked in surprise. â€œUm...â€
â€œIt is not the 12th century anymore, is it? I barely recognize anything here. What is that thing?â€ She gestured towards the television.
Nick and Natalie exchanged glances.
â€œNo, itâ€™s not the past. Youâ€™re right.â€ Nick took a deep breath. â€œFleur, over 700 years have gone by.â€
She gasped. â€œSeven centuries?â€
He nodded sadly. â€œItâ€™s 1994.â€
Fleur looked around with awe. â€œI have always wondered what it would be like in the future, and now, here I am. Iâ€™m afraid, Nicolas. What will I do?â€
â€œYouâ€™ll adapt, as I have. I know you will.â€
Natalie realized that she, too, would adapt to the strange gifts she had been given as a result of becoming a vampire. The alternative was not something she wanted to think about. Whatever the future held, she knew they would discover it together. Whatever challenges fate threw into their path, whether they were magical or not, she and Nick would overcome them together. Beneath a fairy moon, anything was possible. The silver moon shone brightly through the window, illuminating the darkness below and opening up a world of possibilities.
* * * * *
Author's note: I am having a second beta look at this, so it may be revised a bit later. Hope you enjoy it for now.