Spectre from the Future

The rain slashed her cheeks in a torrent of tears, a weeping storm out of control.  Darby Falls roared beside her, the water hurling itself over the rocky edge, falling to wide, flat stones that rose from the creviced pool below. Mist, flung back up by the impact, swirled thickly, obscuring the wide banks.

She screamed, “Lazerous!” Fury and pain torn from the core of her soul, grabbed by the currents and muffled beneath thunderous clouds.  Falling to her knees, the rough stone scraping tender skin, she wrapped her too-thin arms tight across her stomach.

She was a lone figure, slight and hunched, bombarded by the slicing rain, her silhouette illuminated in bright strobes from the lightening that split the heavens.  Her cries devoured and nurtured by the storm, tempest feeding from tempest.

Eyes gleamed from the bank below.  Impervious to the elements, the creature bared his teeth in a semblance of a sneer.  The dull sound of her pain caressed his fur and he howled his pleasure, the sound piercing through the blanket of thick fog.

That eerie howl slid through Lacy’s flesh, stealing away the last breath of warmth.

She would not be taken, not then, not now.  A smooth lunge to her feet, finding purchase on the slippery rocks.  Her toes caught the edge, and she pushed off, arms spread wide, an angel in flight.

The mists swallowed her.

The Journal

Of course I knew the legend of Lacy LeFey.  Me Da had told me the tale long ago.  An ye sure couldn’t be in Darby for more than fifteen minutes and not  be havin’ some hint of it.  The great tragedy and love that lived beyond death was a tale oft’ told.  The fallen angel, Lazerous, cast from heaven by God himself for a betrayal so elemental that no redemption could ever be hopin’ to lighten his crime.  And Lacy, the beautiful murderess, though you’d  search high and low before ye’d find any who’d call her that.  It was peculiar.  All knew she’d killed her mother.  Torched her, even. Yet she was considered the heroine of Darby, and some said, savior.

Some believed it was through Lacy, that Lazerous would be havin; his soul saved.  But Lucifer, he’d contrived other plans.  Lacy was tainted, already she had delved into his realm of blood and fire.  Her soul was t’be  his.

Lazerous would be the tool to finish what fate had so fortuitously started. 

Twasn’t to be, though.

In the classic sense of all good love stories, the heiress of Darby cleaved into the dark angels heart and she found what goodness was left within his broken soul.  The two banded together, and forged their own path, determined to thwart the dark Lord. 

When Lucifer discovered the dual betrayal of the once powerful angel, sent his servant to lure Lazerous into the void he’d rent through the earth.  Sealing Lazerous within, the creature began its pursuit of the lovely Lacy.  Lacy, grief-ridden, flung herself over Darby Falls to escape the beast, choosing death over capture.

Destiny … or more precisely, magic, intervened.  A fey creature, Sari Faire was known to guard the wildlands surrounding the Estate.  She sent the mists to embrace the girl, and those that saw the rainbow arcing from the Falls and over the Estate, knew that Sari Faire had thrown her magic dust to the sky, invoking a powerful enchantment.  The mists transformed Lacy, dissolving her earthly form and carried her through the cracks and fissures of the earth to be re-united with her beloved Lazerous.

Twas a pretty story. 

I wasn’t believein’a word of it.

Well, that wasn’t precisely true.  I believed in a great many things of the events, but twas the interpretation placed upon the facts that I’d be bringin t’question.  Ye’d think being born on the isle of Irish,, I’d be fully embracin’ the notion of faeries and angels and such.  But I was raised in New York , one of the most practical states in America .  Or so my da always said.

My name’s Meridian Dresden.  My da calls me Merry and says I'm the joy of his life.  Or said.  He wasn’t doing much talking now, except through the spirit realm.  If such a thing existed.  I’d deny it to yer face.

I was here, in Darby, on a whim.  Well that wasn’t exactly true. 

I was here because of the man.  And the dreams he’d invoked.

Merry Anne Dresden

Spectre within a Dream

Through the mists and the fogs of that state between realms of dreamworld and reality an image came to her.

An island in the bay and the single stream of smoke rising from a small fire come into view.  Sitting on a tree stump by the tiny fire sits the dark haired girl..ageless..timeless...dark eyes like her fathers watch the flickering flames.  Her gray wings sag down..their tips touching the sandy ground.  She looks up..meeting her gaze with those eyes and speaks.

"Don't try to speak..you will find you have no voice.  Please just listen, for I have very little time."

 She stands up and moves closer..her body naked..small and pale..standing only a foot from her now as she speaks.

 "I felt you when you returned.  There was such a great noise in the very threadwork of eternity.  You look as you once did.  It is good to see your face...You Who Are Not There.."

 A smile crossed her lips which would warm and melt the coldest ice.

 "When you came back...you woke him from a deep sleep..and he will return to you.  You are his purpose.  Your memory is locking bits of itself away from you..to protect you..but do not fear those memories.  He will help you.  Do not fear him."

Her long fingers rested upon her shoulders as she moved even closer.

 "The man-wolf will kill the beast.  He must"

 "Follow my father into the mists.  It is there where you will find your destiny"

 She leaned up and placed a kiss to her cheek softly and turned..taking a seat once again upon the stump.

 "Another returned from the other side with you.  he is powerful..though has forgotten much.  Be mindful of him.....Lions speak half truths and the yield from the vineyard make all a lie."

 The image began to fade and clarity dims..her words become more strange and hard to hear..the statements she spoke and the entire scene loop in her head on repeat..each time the information becoming more strange and choppy..then a final word.

 "Harvest."  

The Demon and the Fey

In an eerie orange-red glow deep in the forests of Darby, the demon appeared.  Having called the attention of the fey Sari, he waited patiently for her to appear there.  Once he felt her presence near, the formless and faceless demon spoke from the cloud of orange mist therein.

"You have done quite a job in maintaining the protection spell over this town and those within it.  Its very impressive..and very powerful...sadly, not powerful enough to keep me out.  I grow stronger and stronger as the days progress..and thanks to the thoughtless actions of your town's newest occupant..I've found a way in...and so has my weapon.  You know the rules and how the balances of power between good and evil must always be..I have brought you a warning...just to be fair."

He conjured up an image there in the same orange glow before him...an image of the maze..the vineyard..and ultimately the estate in a great blaze of fire.

"I will begin the harvest sooner than you know..when all the pieces are in place..and the players know their parts..it will begin.  I would ask you to remove the protection from this place...give me the woman Lacy..she who is not there...and none of this chaos will have to occur.  Should you refuse my offer, I will turn over the hourglass and smile as each grain of madness falls to the bottom.  Take care in how you proceed..and know..that we are already here..and waiting"

Waiting for no response from her, the demon and his image vanished..only a few words lingered in the air.

"you have two days to give me your answer...two days"

------

The forest hid a thousand eyes, and a thousand more beyond that.  In the deepest of the woods, night and day blended to an eternal twilight.  Bright blessed days and dark sacred nights merging. Yet while soft rays seeped though the thick canopies overhead, starlight could also be seen.  The world of Fey, a place where the mortal mind could unhinge, either in madness or gentle dreams.  Only the powerful of will and magic could venture this deep.

And he dared!  This creature of demon dared to breach the boundaries.

She spoke nary a word, only a hint of smile revealed by a tiny gleam of tooth, bright gold eyes lit with inner amusement.  Tangles of faerie dusted hair rode down her back and over her shoulders, more clothing than the shimmering garment she wore.

All ears within the boundaries heard, all eyes caressed the demon with their inhuman thoughts.

When the orange faded, when the glow of his aura was seen no more, only then did her fey laughter ring out.  A rush of movement, unseen, but felt, and she was surround by all manner of creatures.  They danced around her and she fed their exuberance with glitter-enhanced energy.  It swirled up to the trees, causing the leaves to jiggle and twist.

She’d near’d torn her own soul to shreds in the saving of Lacy LeFey.  She’d no regrets in the act, though it caused ripples in the Court, the Court was no concern of hers.  The Queen held no power in the lands of Sari Faire.

A sly side glance to the direction of the departed one.  Her dual-whisper rode the backs of her creatures … “did ye think ye weren’t expected?”

The Christian

Sunlight faded as the dark closed in, the dark speckled with a sprinkling of stars and a wide sliver of moon.
A cul-de-sac within the horsetailed brush shielded Keli from the mist that haunted the falls, while allowing her
the soothing, if muted, sound of cascading water.  A wild-grass stalk was sucked upon as she lay back on the
folded horse blanket.  This was her private place, a place of solitude.

Voices broke her revere.

"She said I am not here!  If Im not here, where am I?"  It was Lacy's voice, soft with that silver thread of strength.

"It was just a dream, Lacy, just a dream."  Mystie hid her worry, intent on soothing her agitated sister.

"Dreams are not just dreams ... they are real, as real as my memory of being killed by the Christian.." 
That thread snapped as her thoughts unraveled.  Her memories fragmented.

Keli held her breath against the sudden pain.  Christian. Her lover, and would-be killer.
For over a year, she had gathered information from underground sources about the monster who'd
deceived her.  She heard the whispers of his captive, Lacy ... who'd traded her life to save Panther Kyoukan.
Christian .. creative and cruel, a monster beneath the mask of aristocracy.
She'd gone to Kyoukan, gone to seek his help, giving him what information she'd gathered.
He'd considered her to be one of the monsters.
She was on her own after that.  On her own to watch the death of one Christian, and on her
own to plot the death of another.  She'd failed, betrayed by a friend.
What irony had brought her to this place, to meet Lacy herself.
But if she had hoped for answers, none would be forthcoming.

Until now.  Maybe.

Mystie's voice held warmth that few others would ever hear.  "Lacy, shhh .. you are real, you are here."

There was a long silence, filled by the falls pounding the flat rocks.

When Lacy spoke again, it was hesitant, almost child-like. "Is there a blacksmith in town?"

"Not that I know of ... there are two that reside at the far side of the crops.  Why do you ask?"

"That man .. the Professor .. he said he was staying with a blacksmith in town ..."

Another period of silence.  Finally .. "I'll check on it."  Mystie's voice had gone flat.

Keli came silently to her feet, the river masking any sound she might make and peered through the stalks.
Lacy stood near the waters edge, the moons light seeping all color from her hair, making it as white as
the gown she wore.  Mists that hung low from the falls swirled against her legs and wove lazily around her.
She appeared insubstantial ... like a dream.

Lacy spoke again, the acoustics of the water somehow enhancing her voice.

"My dreams are real, Mystie.  More real than I am."

Mystie stepped forward, to reach a hand to Lacy's shoulder, but Lacy eluded her as the mists thickened, and 
she stepped out of view, knowing the path of rocks by instinct or memory.

Mystie let her go, turning back to the path, and paused as Keli stepped into view.
A long look passed between the women.

It was Keli who spoke first.  "Would ye want t'be knowin about the Christian she speaks of?"

The two walked back towards the stables.
Fey-dusted eyes noted and reported back to his mistress.

Where she died ...


Sari Faire and her heart-child, Rani, followed at a discreet distance.  The smile of the fey could either be terrible or beautiful.  Just now, it was beautiful, filled with such delight that Rani's misgivings were abated.  She'd held out hope on behalf of Panther, but even that hope had died.  A visit to Lily had revealed the desperate denial of Panthers death.

'Do ye feel their energy, child?' Sari asked without voice.

She did.  The passage of the two left trails of it rippling through the air like streamers. 'Where is she leading him?'  They'd gone along the edge of the vineyard with its sweet smell of grapes, and down along the bank of the river to the shallow section dotted with stepping stones. 

'Ye'll see,' Sari crouched by the bank as the two crossed, amusement and something else in those strange eyes at the couple as Lacy clung to the dark angels hand, refusing, even at the risk of tumbling in the water, to release her grip.  'She's keepin herself together,' and was pleased when Rani nodded.  The child of her heart had grown in talent on many levels.

There wasnt a path to follow, yet Lacy never hesitated as she picked her way through the trees, not hurrying, often looking up to Lazerous, as if to be sure he was really still there.

Rani suddenly understood their destination and she swung to look at Sari, and into those knowing eyes.  'She remembers??'

'Aye, child ... seeming she does,' Sari was surprised and thoughtful.

A clearing had opened.  Oval in shape.  A sunken mound was ringed by dead sticks poking from the earth.  Shriveled petals littered the ground like a tattered blanket.

Lacy finally released her hold on his hand, slowly, perhaps reluctant.  She looked down at the disturbed earth in the eerie half light of moon and stars.  It was a stark sight, harsh with shadows.  Her sigh carried on the wind. 

She looked at Lazerous then.  "This is where I died...."

 

The re-bonding.

He walked quietly along with her…quiet in voice and in movement.  Not a word was spoken yet all he wanted to do was talk.  Talk about everything..talk about nothing..it didn’t matter to him.  He’d spent so much time away from her and in those final days she was away…even though she was physically there.  Fingers took hold of her hand and held it most tightly.  Knowing she was not a ghost and that she would not fade away wasn’t enough to assure him.  He’d waited and waited so long..knowing she would be coming back, but never knowing when.  He worked at steadying his mind to accept the fact that she was back and in his grip once more however fragile it seemed.

He took in what of the scenery he could, though her own image took hold of his attention mostly.  Watching her from the corner of his eye during the walk she didn’t seem like she’d changed a bit.  The professor told him not to expect anything less that what he remembered..and the old man was quite right.   He looked down briefly at his own dark attire and for once considered maybe it was time to look a little brighter..maybe a bit more cheery.  Overthinking everything was enough and his mind finally settled on the fact of her and the coming danger that he had to be ready for.

He paused with her at the spot she stopped at and moved away slightly from him.  He watched her steadily and heard the words she spoke…an slow nod of his head followed as he stepped up behind her and rested his hands gently upon her soft hips..resting his cheek atop her head..feeling her soft hair.  He spoke up gently.

“I know.  I felt it when it happened.  I was there with you and always have been.  I felt the death and it pained me.  And when you rose again anew…I felt that as well…and it also pained me.  Being away from you for so long has been one endless nightmare that continues on from morning through the night.  But now that I feel you here..finally with me once more..I can see past the nightmare…past the pain of death and rebirth.”

He pressed a single kiss gently to the top of her head…breathing in deeply her soft scent.

“All I feel now is the love I’ve been carrying for you for so long..and there is no pain”

 

Letter to Mystie

Dearest Mystie,

They are calling me a murderer and I cannot deny it.  They say I’ve slaughtered villages yet I do not remember it.  I awake covered in blood and other wounds and I don’t know why.  A woman, some demon hunter, has been hunting me for days.  Erick says she cannot kill on innocent yet she slashed me with her blade just a few nights past.  If it hadn’t have been for Rani’s aid I would have perished.   So does that mean I am guilty…that I am a murderer?  I don’t know and I didn’t know who else to speak to about it all.  The professor says we all have roles to play in some upcoming battles yet the directions are not clear.  I need someone to speak to.  Please reply as soon as you can by letter which I will pick up beneath the window of the tavern tomorrow night.   Let me know if you can meet me safely and secretly…I must talk to you before I go mad.

You were always able to see past the monster.  I hope you can find it in your heart to do it again.

Sincerely,
Lycanthro

Blood on Heaven's Wings

            The rogue’s hands were quick but Serra’s were quicker.  Her sword in hand and with a powerful arm, the blade cut clean through the rogue’s neck with a sickly slice.  The rogue had been coming for her with a dagger, their preferred weapon of choice.  Even in the thickness of such a battle where warriors fought warriors, the smaller rogues and thieves got their bit of the action.  Serra looked over the body of the fallen rogue, his head now several feet away, the dark blood on the blade of her sword…panting…heavily.  She wasn’t used to this kind of battle.  She had not been fully trained in the ways of secretive warfare and the simple fact that she looked at the face of every kill proved that she would not make it in this outfit. 

            She turned from the scene and began back down the foggy path.  If heaven was all bright light and clouds, then this must have been the slums of heaven.  She’d seen only such settings in the darkest foggy swamp towns of previous missions in outer realms, and still..they always turned her stomach.  Dressed all in leather..black, form fitting, and missing the shining armor that her fellow warriors carried.  Raven hair that hung to her mid-back draped over and mostly hid her dark eyes and pale face.  She didn’t immediately give off the appearance of being a warrior, but once in battle none could dispute her position.  Sucking in deep breath as she reached the end of the foggy path, resheathing her sword, and finally turning to look back from where came.

“Well, what now?”, she asked in a bitter tone as she was obviously lost for direction.

A large, firm, and solid hand settled upon her shoulder before a deep voice met her ears.

“You did well..everything seems secure and the others are pulling back.”

She smiled up to him then with a relieved sigh.

“Lazerous.  I thought you’d be here sooner.”

After her words were spoken and the relief passed, her smile faded.

            Lazerous, in full uniform of black leather and silver armored chest and armplates, gave a long look back to her.  She was his sister, and he was quite used to these moods of hers, but she was valuable..so valuable to the cause.

She spoke up again, taking his arm.

“Do you really have to go?” There was such an overtone of sadness in her voice that it was amazing that tears didn’t fall.

He only nodded.

“Do you really think they could find you if you stay?”

And another nod.

 

            And sure enough, they did find him.  Speed and luck was not on his side.

How those beast’s razor sharp claws tore into his flesh, ripped at his hair, snagged into his wings.  Lazerous fought back desperately and two winged mercenaries fell.  But when his sword was lost, his hands were nothing against the clawed and muscled bodies of these winged beasts. 

            His cry was almost unheard and existed more as a grunt of sound as the nails of the beasts tore down his back, but then the shrill cry of pain could have shattered glass.  Wings were ripped out by their roots, tearing off chunks of bloody skin from his shoulder blades.  His skin paled and tears streamed from his eyes. Those beasts had flown away and Lazerous drug himself across the ground, one wing still hanging in tatters from bleeding wound.  His wrecked body reached Serra’s side, who’d been knocked unconscious by the gnarled tree.  His crimson hand rested upon her leather covered thigh, leaving a wet trail when his hand slipped away.  Her eyes slowly opened, head pounded, body battered.

“Oh Lazerous.” Her voice weak before another arrived.

And cold green scaly hands would take the fallen warrior away.

Shadow Future - Rani


The earth re-birthed her and she emerged with a soft breath.  The storms were subdued, the shifts of grey within her eyes slow and thoughtful.  She could feel Lily, and knew it was reciprocated.  A gentle exchange of greetings through the strands of thought that linked them – ‘Greetings from Sari Faire, Child of Flowers’.  An inquiry sent but Rani shook her head even as her thoughts conveyed the response.  A bond had been released, severing the agreement and could not be undone.  She gave promise to return later, to speak of options for the safety of Panther’s grandchild.

 With that, she was on her way, swallowed by the earth, a shallow travel to the remains of Darby.  She chose to approach the final distance on foot.  The day was softly lit, as though through a filter of moisture and color.  Her bared feet lightly merged and blended with the soil with each step.

 Until she crossed the borders of Darby.  She paused, like a wild animal catching a dangerous scent.  The ground itself denied the life pulse of the earth.  To her senses, it felt drugged, numbed by a slow death.  Through the abandoned town she moved, like a wraith, ghostlike in the thudding silence.  Buildings drooped at the edges, neglect was like a thick taste in the back of the throat.

 And the Estate.  It stood in magnificent ruins.  The vineyard had overrun the lawns and climbed intrusively along the stonewalls.  Grapes and roses filled the air with over-ripe scents.  The gardens, too, had overrun themselves.

 A breeze stirred her raven hair, the ends lifting as though a lover’s hand caressed the silken length.

 This place was … wrong.  She knew the future, and this was not it.  She knew the future-history, and could almost … almost see the ghostly images of residents that would be birthed, live and die here.  The Estate was timeless, but this place was locked in time itself.

 “Who has done this?”  She called softly, her voice carried on the color-misted air. 

 A skin tingling laugh sounded and she smiled, slightly ducking her head.  “Sari .. “

 “Aye child … ye finally found yer way to this place … wondered if ye’d find it ..” Sari Faire perched on the wide leg of an overturned stone bench.

 “You did this?”  Rani turned slowly, her soft-stormed eyes seeking beyond vision.

 “Nae child .. twas not my doin’, but his ..”

 Turning her head towards Sari, she looked at her for a long, quiet moment.  “He never had such power before .. how could he now?”

 A sly smile bared her tiny teeth.  “Tis not his doin’, alone … nae, he’s gained help, though I'm not knowin’ if the forest child knows he tap’s her gifts …”

 “Aye … ye can break the hold if ye choose  ...”  Sari Faire watched the child of her heart closely.  She couldn’t interfere too directly, but she would do what the boundaries of her limits would permit.

 “It calls yer heart … ye can feel it, the lure of the Chaesii, an ancient tool .. tis guarded but yer blood, tis part of the earth .. ye can seduce it to ye …”  She’d said enough … and through a glittering display she vanished.

 Rani stood quietly in the deadened place of Darby.  After several moments of contemplation, she decided it wasn’t her place or her destiny to alter the conditions here.  Her upper body turned, followed by her feet and …. froze.

 Laughter and a melodic voice could be clearly heard through the filtered, dreamy air.  “Oh I lost her!  She was like a wild thing, poised to flee, she was … tis a shame, but ah well, I've got her in my memory so I can well put her to the canvas.”  “What did she look like, Merry?”  “I’d barely gotten a glimpse really .. but such a powerful image, Id be sayin .. oh aye, such eyes, like living storms …”

 The voices ended abruptly, like a door slamming.

 Shaken, Rani realized she would have to find the Chaesii.  The ghosts of the future deserved their chance at life.

 First, though, she would find the forest child.