Authors: alexia purdy
“You know, it’s funny,” she beamed. “He gave
the choice of whether to stay with him or not, but he would have
given up that staff.”
“Why did he give it to me then?” Hank asked in confusion. “I mean, even if had wanted me to have it eventually, I was only ten when he gave it to me. Knowing now how important it was to him…”
Ariel reached out and clasped his hand into hers, bringing it to her lips and kissing it before continuing.
“You had been through so much for a ten-year-old, Hank. You had already lost your brother…your
brother. You just lost your parents, and you were left with a potentially debilitating injury. We were determined to help you overcome those things! Your life could have spiraled down into a completely different direction considering everything that your heart had had to bear at that point.”
Tears erupted out of Ariel’s eyes as she dug into her pocket for a tissue.
Haunted by her sudden sadness, Hank leaned in toward her with a tear of his own sliding down his cheek.
“Shhh, shhh,” he whispered as he drew her into a hug. “You guys were fantastic…and
still are! It’s true, I could have turned out a
worse…but I didn’t! And it’s all thanks to your and Tamaki’s love and devotion to me. I couldn’t have been in better hands if God had lifted me up personally and placed me with the angels!”
Ariel giggled at that, wrapping her arms around Hank and giving him a pleasant squeeze.
Luci took the opportunity to squeeze in between the two, much to Ariel’s delight.
“Oh Luci dear,” she laughed, reaching down and giving her a hug of her own. “Have I been ignoring you?”
Luci licked Ariel’s face in answer to her question, causing her to bring out the tissue once again.
Threading her hand around his arm, they resumed their walk. They continued on silently for a time before Ariel spoke again.
“There was another reason that Tamaki gave you the staff so early, Hank.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked curiously.
Ariel nodded, “Because of Howie’s passing there was always the possibility that the curse had been lifted. Tamaki had only been seventeen when he stumbled on Faerie, and he didn’t want to risk you being unprepared
it happened to you.”
Hank digested this new information quietly, surprised when the cottage came into view ahead of them.
“The farm definitely felt bigger when I was younger,” he observed as the made their way up a small rise to the cottage door. Its familiarity warmed his soul.
been gone over an hour, Hank,” Ariel proffered. “It’s still the same size, you were just…distracted.”
“I guess so,” he mumbled, still feeling distracted over everything he learned.
As they entered the cool interior, Ariel made her way to her bedroom while he took a seat at the table. A new thought entered his head, and he couldn’t wait for Ariel to return before he asked it.
“You know,” he called out across the room, “I just stumbled upon this stone that seems to have some kind of magic attached to it. It’s quite apparent that I need it to cross over into Faerie. How did Tamaki do it without one of those?”
“You’re talking about a talisman,” Ariel replied as she reappeared from the bedroom carrying an old wooden box with inlaid ivory designs. Lifting the lid when she got to the table, she pulled out a card and handed it to Hank.
“I drew that,” she said simply.
Taking the card, he found on it a sketch of his grandfather in some kind of costume.
“Wow!” he exclaimed as he took in the image. “That’s some getup!”
“Samurai Battle Dress,” Ariel explained as she took a seat beside him. “He, of course, came from the old country; he was very much into the old ways.”
“I’ve never seen this before,” Hank whispered before looking up at Ariel, “How come he never showed me any of this?”
Ariel shrugged, “He realized that you were raised in a different era, and that the pride that he felt with the uniform could never be passed on to you the way it was to him.”
“Where is it? I’d like to see it!” Hank exclaimed.
Ariel was quiet for a few moments as she stared at the picture.
“We sold it,” she finally replied quietly.
“You sold it?” Hank responded. “How could you sell something like this?” he asked as he pointed to the sketch.
Ariel shrugged, “It was easy when it came right down to it. We had no insurance and not a lot of savings when you came to us, Hank. There were medical bills, and some physical therapy to pay for. One day I woke up and Tamaki was gone. When he returned that evening, he told me he had taken the Battle Dress to a museum in Portland who had purchased it for a handsome price.”
Hank was taken aback. “He gave up his most prized possession…for me?”
Quickly remembering the staff, he added, “Actually
of his prized possessions!”
Ariel nodded, “That’s what one does for family…for someone you love.”
Hank slouched back in his chair. “I feel like I’ve been such a burden on your lives,” he mumbled.
“Oh hogwash!” Ariel replied with a stern look. “We would have given
that we owned to help you!”
He still wasn’t feeling worthy, but he pasted a smile on his face nevertheless. “Thank you Nana…I guess I just never realized.”
“Don’t give it another thought, Hank,” she replied while digging in the box once again.
“Ah, here it is!”
Removing her hand from the box, she pulled out a heavy chain. As she continued to raise it, a medallion finally appeared at the end of the chain.
“Wow!” he exclaimed, “That’s cool looking!”
“It’s Tamaki’s talisman, passed down through his family for who knows how long.”
Hank started to reach for it before stopping.
“May I?” he asked while pointing to the medallion.
“Of course,” Ariel replied with a grin as she moved it toward him. “It’s yours now.”
He reached for it reverently, taking into his hand and studying the strange design on it.
“It looks very old,” Hank mumbled as he gazed at it.
“Even Tamaki didn’t know how old it was,” Ariel replied.
“Does this mean…?”
Ariel shrugged. “Tamaki said he never heard of anyone in his lineage ever travelling to Faerie before him, but he could never be sure. In any case, at some point in the past it was endowed with enough magic to cross the barrier into Faerie. According to him, it is
Hank was silent for several seconds as he stared at the medallion.
“I feel drawn to there,” he finally said when he spoke again.
Sighing, he sat back in his chair and looked up at Ariel. “I feel drawn to Faerie, and yet at the same time I just want to forget about the whole place. Does that make any sense?”
Ariel nodded thoughtfully.
“There is no law that says that you have to go back, although I should think that you will start feeling the pull to go back more and more as time passes. Tamaki felt it his whole life, even though he was effectively banned from entering in the end.”
Luci saddled up beside Hank’s chair and he reached down and scratched her behind the ear as he gave the whole thing more thought.
Dulci had told him that his appearance in Faerie had been foretold…she had also told him that he was in danger!
Did that danger extend to
side of the barrier?
Would that force him to go back in any case?
Did he even have what it took to make a difference in Faerie?
And then there was Dulci. The beautiful, exciting and exotic Dulci, who made his heart pound in his chest at the very thought of her…even considering her past with his
Felling suddenly ill again, he blew out a nervous breath.
“I wish Tamaki were still here,” he whispered defeatedly.
There was a lot to get used to here in the human realm. Nautilus followed Benton’s lead when it came to eating food prepared by humans and customs. It was different than anything he was used to in the Teleen caverns where he was from. He quickly discovered how much they stuck out. He was tall, and his long dreadlocks had to be kept swept back to avoid looking too exotic. His glamour kept the electricity and blue fire that made up his body in check, but he was always minding his proximity to others. He didn’t want to accidently kill someone from electrocution by brushing against them.
This was an ideal mission as far as any went. Yes, he had to follow a human teenager around, which wasn’t the most fun part of it all, but he out here, in the dredges of the human realm, he could hunt Unseelie and Sluagh in peace with little human interaction. Benton was the closest to human besides his sister Shade that Nautilus had contact with. At least if he’d ever have to venture out there without either of them, he could say he’d be alright.
“What do you make of that fella there?” Benton motioned toward a row of homeless tents.
Peering where Benton had pointed, Nautilus narrowed his vison and focused on a trio of people. Well, at least two people. The third was definitely not human.
The guy had to be over six feet tall and his shiny bald head reflected the sun like a tin roof. He appeared to be questioning the pair of homeless men who sat near each other on a ledge at the edge of the river. Both chatted happily, cracking jokes as they answered the man. They wouldn’t be able to tell the guy was Fae; his glamour was intact and shimmered ever so slightly when he moved. Most humans couldn’t see the shimmer, a glitch in the armor faeries used to shield their appearance and protect from the poisonous iron in the city.
Benton, Soap and Nautilus didn’t have to worry about iron sickness, making them ideal to hunt the escaped Unseelie here.
The tall faery stepped closer to the two homeless men he was speaking to. Shouting echoed across the street, bouncing on the buildings as he shoved one of them over.
“Come on, let’s go.” Benton was already heading down toward the stairs. Nautilus had to admit, the young fire elemental was unshakeable. He fought the Unseelie until he was near death. He believed so strongly in the cause, he lived, breathed and slept to wage this war against them.
Nautilus followed closely behind. Spilling out into the streets of Portland, they rushed toward the faery who’d been standing before the two homeless men. Not finding them where they were a moment before, Nautilus followed Benton’s rampage around another building where they found not one, but two enemy Unseelie faerie. They both turned to face Benton as he barreled toward them, his Empyrean fire sword already igniting for the fight.
“What the—” The shorter one who’d just joined the balding one jumped back in surprise as the other pulled out his own sword. A medallion flashed on his neck as he snarled, awaiting Benton with a malicious flicker in his eyes.
“Ahh!” Benton slammed his sword into the Unseelie man, but was met with resistance. They repeatedly slammed blades together, sending off sparks into the air with each connection.
Nautilus grabbed at his own sword, holding it out as he challenged the shorter of the two. The guy was more skittish and jumped away from him before eyeing him up and down. Breaking into a wicked chuckle, he swiftly yanked out an axe hidden under his coat. He brought it over his shoulder in an arc attempting to hack into Nautilus’ shoulder. Meeting blade with axe, Nautilus tried to disarm the other with a swift yank on his weapon.
Instead, the shorter fae pulled away, spinning farther from his grasp. Once stopped, he gave Nautilus a wicked grin.
“You Seelie think you’re such hot shit. You have no idea what’s comin’ for ya.” He spat on the ground as he smiled, showing off a set of filthy teeth that could make any man shudder.
Nautilus wasn’t put off. He kept his stance, ready to pummel the guy.