Beneath a Fairy Moon

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Part 8

Beneath A Fairy Moon

By Emily M. Hanson

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.

“Good evening. Shale, it’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 gnomes’ mental radar because of their dark nature -- hence, why the gnomes referred to them as dark ones.

“Dark ones, here?†Joram mopped his sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his work shirt and nervously glanced around. “What can I, er, do for you?â€

“I’m here for my usual supplies,†Shale said. “These two have proven themselves to be trustworthy so far. They seek information.â€

“The 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 Schanke’s abduction. He also told Joram about the use of magic to disguise the body so they would all believe that Schanke was dead. “Any information you can give us would help,†the vampire finished.

Joram scratched his beard. “Hmm…sounds like it may be the work of a powerful sorcerer. Most don’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, she’s been there so long that she doesn’t even remember who she was.â€

“Who was she?†Natalie asked, curious.

“Local legend has it that she was the true love of a dark one named Lucien…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 child’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 Lucien’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€

Nick’s face was very pale. How could this be? Fleur, his Fleur, had died centuries ago. How could she be locked up in a sorcerer’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 hadn’t trained him in everything. Perhaps there was a way to keep secrets from blood. No doubt, this sorcerer had something to do with Schanke’s disappearance as well.

“Are you all right?†Natalie asked, realizing what this information could do to him. “Nick?â€

“I’m fine,†he replied a bit more sharply than he’d intended. To the gnome, he said, “Thank you, Joram. I owe you a great debt for your aid. I will try to repay you, if I can.â€

“You know this Lucien, don’t you?†Shale asked.

“As it turns out,†Nick answered, “I didn’t know him as well as I thought. But he is no longer alive, so it doesn’t matter.â€

“Lucien was your sire, wasn’t he?â€

“Yes.â€

“And you have something to do with this woman he loved, I’m guessing.â€

Nick nodded. “She was my mortal sister. But if the girl I knew was a fairy, who was she?â€

“It is possible you knew your sister,†Joram said. “The switch may have taken place when she was a small child. It usually happens shortly after birth, but that isn’t always the case. If Fleur is here, there’s a chance she could be alive.â€

“Even after all these years?†Nick wondered aloud.

“Time 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€

“I have to find her. I have to find Fleur.â€

Natalie touched his shoulder gently. “We will find her together, Nick.†Her icy fingers touched his cold skin. Somehow they both felt the warmth -- not physical warmth, but emotional warmth.

gazed into her eyes. “Yes. We’ll discover what happened to Fleur. If she’s alive, we’ll bring her home, where she belongs.â€

“And we’ll find out what happened to Schanke, too.â€

“Definitely,†he agreed.

* * * * *
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Part 9

Beneath A Fairy Moon

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *

Part 9

The sorcerer’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 child’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.

“Mordan,†she whispered, “I’ve brought your meal.â€

The gnome looked up. “Hssss! Why do you bother me, human? Just leave the tray on my table and go.â€

It would be a very short time before Mordan’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 sorcerer’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 didn’t even know it.

“Yes, Master.†She set the tray down and turned to leave, but Mordan’s icy fingers grabbed her hand.

“Since you’re here, perhaps you could stay awhile to keep me company.â€

Centuries of abuse, pain, and suffering showed as the young woman’s face contorted into fear. “I…I’d rather not.†Quickly, she came up with an excuse. “The 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 she’d wiped it up. Her lie still convinced Mordan. Perhaps he didn’t think she had the ability to lie anymore. If so, he was wrong. He nodded and released her from his cold grasp. “Some other time, perhaps.â€

She nodded. “Perhaps.â€

Once down the stairs, Fleur heaved a sigh of relief. She could hardly believe that she’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 she’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.

“It’s certainly tall,†Natalie remarked. “What are those strange carvings on the door?â€

Nick shrugged. “This is my first time here, too. I know as much as you do.â€

“Probably a spell of protection or some sort,†Shale replied. “We 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.

“Hello. Is there something I can help you with?â€

Natalie gasped. Nick looked taken aback as well. “Uh, we’re here to, ah, see the owner of this place. Is, uh, is he at home?†the vampire stammered in a very ungraceful manner.

The door creaked open, revealing Fleur. “My master is busy, but I’m sure he won’t mind seeing you. We don’t get many visitors these days. Sorry about the door. Enchantments can be very disconcerting if you’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.

“What is the matter?†Fleur asked. “Do 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 wasn’t who he thought she was, then who was he? “Fleur?â€

She stared at him in amazement. “How do you know my name?â€

“You don’t remember, do you?†He gazed at her sadly. “I’m your brother.â€

Her amazement gave way to joy as recognition dawned. “Nicolas?†She reached up and touched his arm. “It is you! How can this be?â€

He reached out to give her a hug, but the door slammed shut.

“Door!†Fleur exclaimed. “What are you doing?â€

“I am under orders from our master not to let anyone leave here.â€

“No door tells me what to do,†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 he’d struck. Despite his best effort, the door remained undamaged. “That’s impossible!â€

The door laughed, but this time it spoke with Mordan’s voice. “Foolish dwarf. Nothing is impossible!â€

“There must be another way out of here,†the dwarf said, glancing around.

“The windows,†Natalie exclaimed. She took a step towards one, but suddenly found herself in pain as a curare-tainted dart pricked her skin. “No!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. “Natalie,†he said hoarsely. Then the shroud of darkness embraced him as the sorcerer’s evil laughter filled the air.

* * * * *
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Part 10

Beneath A Fairy Moon

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *

Part 10

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 couldn’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 hadn’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 hadn’t transformed in front of him, Don wouldn’t have recognized her.

“Wow. You can do that?†he asked.

“Yes. I’ve been teaching you to use your moon shield against magic. Now it’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 Nick’s loft. As Schanke got into a defensive stance, Isabelle struck. He’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 fairy’s fist hit the magical shield and was stopped by the silvery light. There was an audible female gasp, though not from Isabelle.

“Detective Schanke? What are you doing here? Where’s Nicolas?â€

He turned around and recognized the beautiful, dark-haired woman standing in the shadows as Janette from the Raven. “I don’t know where Nick is,†he lied. “Uh, as for that trick, it’s uh, just special effects. Really.â€

She stepped into the moonlight. “Don’t lie to me. I know something has happened to Nick. Has he been killed?â€

“Not as far as I know.†Schanke felt a tingling at the back of his neck. This woman was dangerous. He didn’t know how, but he could sense the darkness inside of her. “You’re one of them, aren’t you? You’re a vampire.â€

She frowned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.â€

“Now who’s lying?â€

Her eyes widened as she realized Schanke knew the truth about vampires. “Where is Nicolas? Do not play games with me.â€

“You won’t believe me.â€

“Try 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 vampire’s face. “Fleur? How is this possible?â€

Don looked from the vampire to the fairy and back. “Wasn’t Fleur Nick’s sister?â€

“Yes, and yes,†Isabelle admitted. The color rose to her cheeks as she blushed. “It’s a very long story.â€

“I’m waiting,†Janette replied.

The absence of the bond between she and Nick had brought her to the loft, the last place she thought she’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.

“I am not Fleur,†Isabelle said, “but I took her place for a while.â€

“Took her place? What does that mean?â€

She blushed again. “My 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 don’t remember a thing except in their dreams, and go on with their lives. It’s our way of gaining information we might otherwise never get. I was tricked, though.â€

“By whom?†Janette asked.

“I don’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€

“What about Lucien?â€

“The 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€

“What happened then?†Schanke asked.

“Lucien’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. “Sounds more to me like LaCroix hated him. Nick killed him because he tried to kill Natalie, you know.â€

“He did?†Janette asked. “That must be why I no longer feel his presence. But if Nicolas is in the fairy realms, and still alive, why can’t I feel him?â€

“The fairy realms remain separate from the human realms, though they are inexplicably tied together,†Isabelle explained. “There are several entrances to the fairy realms, but they are well-guarded. When did you stop feeling Nick’s presence, Janette?â€

“Tonight.â€

“Only tonight?â€

“Yes. Our bond had been growing fainter and fainter, and then I suddenly stopped sensing him completely a few hours ago.â€

“I did not know vampires could sense one another in the different realms,†Isabelle admitted. “Perhaps he is simply asleep.â€

“Or unconscious,†Schanke suggested. “Don’t you think we should find him? It has been three days.â€

“Time flows differently in the fairy realm. I’m sure that Nick is fine.â€

“No.†Janette shook her head. “If he was, I’d sense it. Detective Schanke is right. We should look for Nicolas. Isn’t there anything you can do, Fleur, or whoever you are?â€

“My 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 Nick’s kitchen and filling it with water, Isabelle set it by the window so that it caught the moon’s silver rays. She began to chant softly in her language. As the water glowed with magic, an image appeared on the liquid’s surface. It showed Nick, Natalie, a woman who could have been Isabelle’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.

“I knew it,†the vampire exclaimed. “We 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. “I…I can’t do that.â€

“Nicolas needs your help.â€

“So do Natalie and Fleur, if that is the real Fleur,†Schanke replied. “Without your help, they could die.†He looked at Janette. “Vampires can die, right?â€

“Yes,†she replied. “Isabelle, 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. “All right. But my queen won’t be pleased. I can’t guarantee that she won’t take out her wrath on you, as well as me.â€

“We’ll deal with her later if we have to,†Schanke said. “But we need to help them now, Isabelle. Please help us.
The fairy nodded. “Stand back.†She took a deep breath and began to chant. As she did, a magical portal appeared, shimmering in the moonlight. “When 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. “Thank you, Isabelle.â€

“You’re quite welcome. Please hurry. I’ll be right behind you.â€

The vampire stepped through the portal and the fairy followed immediately after her.

* * * * *
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Part 11

Beneath A Fairy Moon

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *

Part 11

Isabelle’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. Fleur’s twin transformed into her fairy shape as the portal vanished. Natalie’s eyelids fluttered open at the sound of the rescuers approaching.

“Are you all right?†Schanke asked, seeing Natalie.

“Can’t…move,†she whispered with a strained voice.

“Curare?†Janette guessed correctly. If her senses were correct, Natalie was a vampire now. “Well, I am glad to see that Nicolas has finally brought you across. Now, let’s see about getting you out of here.†As she reached toward the lock to break it, the prisoner’s eyes widened in fear. Janette’s hand froze.

“Don’t touch that,†Isabelle exclaimed. “It’s magically sealed. We have to find a way to break the spell. Only then will we be able to open the lock.â€

* I’m so close. Power is within my grasp. With Natalie’s blood within my reach, I can’t fail. Soon I’ll cast the spell, and all I desire will be mine.*

The thought wasn’t Natalie’s, but she heard it inside her head, nonetheless. It sounded like the sorcerer. Her eyes snapped open. “It’s me,†she said incredulously as the shock appeared on her face. The effects of the curare were finally starting to wear off. “Mordan wants me,†she said. “I heard his thoughts somehow. It’s my blood he needs.â€

“Strange,†Isabelle said. “I’ve never heard of a vampire gnome before. I thought the condition only affected humans.â€

Natalie shook her head negatively. “He’s not a vampire. He needs my blood for some sort of spell.†She wanted to stand up, but Nick was unconscious and lying on top of her legs. “Mordan must have the key to the cage. He’ll need it to get me out of here so he can kill me.â€

Janette nodded. “That makes sense. All right, let’s go find Mordan.â€

Cackling laughter filled the room. “Looking for me? I assure you, you’ve found much more than you deserve to. Meddling fools! You’re going to pay for your insolence!â€

Don remembered the encounter in the alley below Nick’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. “More special effects, Detective?â€

“Yeah, something like that.†He looked slightly sheepish.

The vampire followed the sound of Mordan’s heartbeat and flew up to where he was hiding.

“This is not your fight, Janette. Leave now,†he said.

“How do you know my name?†she asked.

“I 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 you’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 won’t allow you to meddle in my plans any longer.â€

“Why Natalie? What is so special about her blood? And what is your interest in Nicolas?â€

“My dear, you really don’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€

“The key to what?†Janette asked.

“I 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 I’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. “Liar! Nicolas is no more a fairy than I am!â€

“You’re wrong,†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.

“You won’t defeat me that easily,†he threatened.

The past replayed itself in Natalie’s mind. She heard the voice of the young girl she’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 Fleur’s form. The detective’s magical moon shield glowed brightly, absorbing the electricity. “Yeah? Well, I hope that wasn’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.

“Nicolas?†Fleur asked as she came to.

He looked at her with concern. “Yes?â€

She touched his cheek. “You’re so cold. What have you become?â€
“I’ll explain later. We have to get out of here.â€

“The raven,†Natalie whispered. “We have to find the raven.â€

“What?†Nick looked at her, thinking she meant the nightclub. “The Raven is far away from here, Nat. We’re not in Toronto anymore.â€

She shook her head. “Not that Raven, Nick. We need to find the raven that the little girl was talking about.â€

“I have no idea what that might be. How do you know it wasn’t just a child’s nightmare?â€

How, indeed? “Call it women’s intuition or whatever the hell you want, but whatever that raven is, it’s the only way to destroy him.â€

He nodded as another searing bolt of lightning struck Schanke’s moon shield and was comed by it.

“Knight, I can’t keep this up forever.†Don remarked as beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. “It’s time to say hasta la bye bye, and get the hell outta here.â€

“Right,†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.

* * * * *
 

EmilyH

MN Sci-fi Fan
Joined
Jun 3, 2001
Messages
356
Part 12 (final)

Beneath A Fairy Moon

By Emily M. Hanson

Standard disclaimers apply. See part 1 for details.

* * * * *

Part 12

Natalie gasped as pain pierced her head like a dagger. In her mind’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.

“What is that?†Janette demanded. “How did you do that?â€

“I don’t know,†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. “Nat, you have to control it!â€


“I can’t,†she screamed at the same time the raven’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. “Blast you!â€

The raven chose to take a chance and strike. As the sorcerer shouted in rage, Natalie’s vision went entirely black. She fainted.

Nick caught her gently. “Nat, don’t leave me now. Come on.â€

Fleur watched in amazement. Natalie and Nicolas were vampires. That much was clear to her. How he’d managed to fight the darkness inside himself was beyond her. There was good in him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have come all this way to find her.

“Blood and ashes,†Shale muttered as he came to. He glanced around. “Don’t tell me I missed everything.â€

The raven vanished. Its task was finished, so it wasn’t needed any longer.

Natalie moaned.

“It’s all right, my love,†Nick muttered. “You did it. Everything will be all right now.â€

Slowly she sat up and groaned. “Ouch. I feel like I have the mother of all hangovers.â€

Schanke’s moon shield dissipated. “Tell me about it. Oh, man. I could really use some souvlaki right about now.â€

“I’m so hungry,†Nat whispered as her white fangs gleamed in the light.

Nick chuckled softly. “I’m not surprised, my dear. Fleur, um...you might want to close your eyes.â€

“Why?†she asked.

“Because Nat needs to feed from me,†he explained. “Why don’t you go and see if the spell on the door was broken?â€

“All right.†She turned to go.

“I’ll go with her just to make sure it’s safe,†Schanke replied. He hurried to catch up.

Shale shrugged. “I guess I might as well go with them. Never know what you might run into in a place like this.†The dwarf followed Schanke.

“I don’t know how you did that,†Nick told Natalie, “but that was impressive.†He kissed her on the forehead.

“Nick, what am I?â€

“A vampire,†he replied.

“Yes, but have there ever been any other vampires with silver eyes before? Has anyone else been able to do what I did tonight?†She looked at him seriously. “What am I?â€

“Nicolas is part fairy,†Janette replied. “That is what Mordan said.â€

Nat’s eyes widened. “And you didn’t know?†she asked.

He shook his head. “I don’t have any special powers.â€

“They 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,†Janette said.

He nodded and bared his wrist. “Come on, Nat.â€

Natalie drank deeply. She’d tasted his blood before on the night he’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. “Let’s go,†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. “You 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€

“Thank you,†Nick responded. “We’re grateful.â€

Shale stepped through the portal and vanished.

“Myra’s probably worried sick. She’s probably getting ready to lecture me right now. How am I going to explain all this magic mumbo-jumbo to her, when I can’t even tell her about vampires or fairies?â€

“She loves you, Schank,†Nick replied. “Use your best judgment. You’ll think of something to say.â€

“Yeah. I’m sure you’re right.†Don took a deep breath as Isabelle brought another magic gateway into existence.

“This leads to Nick’s loft,†the fairy explained. “If you’re ready to go, we should go now.â€

After they had all stepped through it, Isabelle transformed into her human form. “I’m sorry,†she told Fleur.

“For what?â€

“I pretended to be you all those years ago.â€

The real Fleur shook her head. “It wasn’t your fault. Mordan was controlling you. I regret my time with him, but not the time I spent in your land. It’s a beautiful place. I’ll keep it in my heart always.â€

“Thank you.†Isabelle looked around. “I’m sorry too, Nick. I wasn’t able to tell you about myself until now.â€

“It’s all right. You didn’t have a choice. I understand that.†The vampire smiled. “You’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. “I will always think of you fondly. But I must go. My queen is calling me home, and I dare not disobey.â€

“Good 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.

“Nicolas?†Fleur asked.

“Yes?â€

“I should not impose on you, and I know that you are very different from the brother I once knew, but...â€

“She could stay at my old place for now,†Natalie said. “Sid’s still there. He could use some company, besides Grace coming by to feed him.â€

Nick nodded. “You can sleep here tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll get you moved in. I’ll show you the city.â€

“Fine. I just have one more question.â€

“Yes?â€

“What year is it?â€

He blinked in surprise. “Um...â€

“It is not the 12th century anymore, is it? I barely recognize anything here. What is that thing?†She gestured towards the television.

Nick and Natalie exchanged glances.

“No, it’s not the past. You’re right.†Nick took a deep breath. “Fleur, over 700 years have gone by.â€

She gasped. “Seven centuries?â€

He nodded sadly. “It’s 1994.â€

Fleur looked around with awe. “I have always wondered what it would be like in the future, and now, here I am. I’m afraid, Nicolas. What will I do?â€

“You’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.

* * * * *

The End

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.
 
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