Lycan, Mystie, Merry, Serra, Sari, Rani and the demon ... 

The screams of pain, the thundering of the earth, the threat of more pain..all finally stopped. They stopped so suddenly in such silence that it nearly created a vacuum. The depth that was the blackness of night did not end however..for some reason he almost thought it would and behind dawn would come early..but it didnt..It deepened his feeling of failure and of being too late. Lycanthro stood back up to his full height and looked over the body of the beast that he'd finally defeated..watching it slowly erode away into the soul. He cast his eyes to the mist and approached daringly..staring through it as hard as he could. His words were soft. "I'm sorry..."

Mystie stood where the foliage left off and the bank began to the river. She stood behind him, the distance both so very close, and so very far. She watched, agony clutching her gut, for herself, and for him. She said nothing, couldnt have said a single word at this moment. She could barely swallow. Her life, her purpose .. it was ending as surely as if she'd been the one take the plunge. Or, was it? She squinted, peering into the mist, and ... a rainbow glinted in the depths. Sari Faire. Where was she? What had she done? Mystie shuffled forward, her legs numb from shock, and almost hesitantly, put a hand out to Lycan's back, touching him. 

He stiffened immediately then let himself relax, he knew her scent and her presence immediately so the alarm that was building left. He looked down to her, his eyes unreadable. Back to the mist went his attention for a few more moments in silence. "I was too late Mystie..."

'Consider this. You werent too late.' Her voice was flat, dull with the grief that held her heart. 'This ... all this, we couldnt have prevented it. Dont you feel it? The inevitability of it?'

He lowered down upon his knees before her and looked down, pressing his head against her chest. Blood from a battlewound upon his back glistened dark in the moonlight, damp fur shifting as he breathed so heavily. "I do feel it...but..that was what I was to prevent. The professor said...." He shook his head against her. "It doesn't matter."

'It matters. It all matters.' Her voice was still dull, perhaps lost. 'The professor cant know everything, and there was more here than you could do, than anyone could do.' Mystie cradled his head, so gentle for someone so remote and withdrawn. Her fingers traced the line of fur, stroking to soothe. 'You did all that could be done. We all did.'

His head lifted to look back at her face. "Then what happens now? All of this..the curse..my purpose being complete, why has nothing changed." He silently cursed Lazerous again for bringing this life upon him. The one thing he was connected to physically was now gone with the one thing he was supposed to protect. He felt worthless again and sought comfort in Mystie's eyes once more.

Mystie didnt know how to answer him. Inside her mind was a blank. Shock, she supposed in some distant part of her. Was she next to die? She would welcome it, she believed. She was almost tempted to ask Lycan to do the job for her, but realized the cruelty of that. Her glance strayed over the bank, thick with fog, yet something moved. Something ... light. She stiffened, staring intently while still holding his head. Then the light was gone, but words formed, and came out. 'Its not over. Its not, yet. There is .. more.' She took his dear face between her hands and met his eyes. Even in the darkness, she could see him as clearly as he could see her. 'You must give me something, something that may be hard for you to give.'

His answer was simple and heartfelt and he watched her face closely. "Anything.."

Mystie drew in a breath, knowing the depth of her request. 'Her soul still exists. Find her, protect her. Protect her always in the way that I could not.' And then her voice broke. Hot tears pressed the back of her eyes. He had once seen her tear up, but not like this. And if he mocked her again, so be it. She didnt care any longer.
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Merry was crouched before Lycan in the darkened hallway. She couldnt see much of him, to be sure, but she could see enough, and his eyes, those blazing yellow eyes held her enthralled. She listened, not just to his words, but the timbre of his voice, the roughness of it.

It was possible they had been talking for hours, he wasn't sure but it was the most speaking he'd done in long years. The story that he told struck him just as deeply as it did everytime he thought about it. For a few moments he paused and reached a hand up to rub at his tired eyes..then continued. "So, I told her yes. It was the only way to show her how much I cared..and at the time I thought it was the only way to save myself." he crouched down a bit more resting on all fours..then with a groan dropped completely down and resembled something like a big grey lion lounging tiredly on the hot savanah.

'She must have been knowing you did care, to be asking such a large thing of you?' Almost hesitantly, she extended her hand to touch his fur. 'She couldnt not be knowing ...'

He nearly chuckled a bit and gave a nod of his head, rolling over onto his side with another sigh rumbling deep in his throat. "I know she understood. I've always known...I suppose that is what kept me alive, kept me going. I always wished I could have been what she deserved that perhaps we could have one day lived a normal life together. But, it was enough that we both knew." He let his eyes close to rest them for a moment.

Merry felt the grief of it, and it hurt. 'Would I be right in guessing that she died then?' A sort of sound that might have been a laugh was strangled in her throat. 'That sounds insane to ask .. of course she must have, tis been so long now, but things are different here, and they bring the strange questions about.'

Her words stung him in places that were absolutely numb from constantly burning and hurting. He reopened his eyes to glance back at her. "Mystie was..and..still is my friend." He replied simply with words, but attached was a deeper meaning.

'Im so sorry,' Merry whispered, her fingers seeking the fur along his neck just under his ear. 'Twas cruel of me to ask. So to your story, they really were lost to the mist? Twasnt a legend told in ever growing proportion?'

He thought for a moment and nodded to her. "I believe you know more about the incident and this place more than you let on. The legend is true...Im here as living proof..what more can I tell you? "

'Im not knowing enough. Im knowing what my Da journaled, and I know what they are saying in town, and Id also be knowing what Ive seen with my own eyes here on this property. But Im not knowing all the answers, and what I am knowing adds more questions. Like John .. you were saying I should be wary of him, but I cannot.'

He rolled back onto his stomach and lifted his body back upright more, holding his weight on his arms..large palms flat against the floor. "Tell me why...why can't you just let him be. Is it not enough that you know he means you harm?"

Merry took her time in answering, her gaze shifting to the scant bit of floor between them. 'Tis hard to explain,' she began slowly. 'Dreams, you see? Before I even was to lay eyes upon him. Then he was there, like a new sort of dream.' She lifted those silky grey eyes to him. 'And being with him, his company, he draws me so strong like nothing Ive felt in my life.'

"You don't know him. You don't know whats inside of him." He paused and looked down again, a long nail scatching absently at the floor. "If...if you will not listen to me, at least promise me you will be careful..Remember who you are..don't let whats inside you change you." The statement was obscure but he spoke it as straight forward as possible.

'You really are believing she's within me?' Merry couldnt wrap her mind around that. Farfetched was what it was, yet everything here was just that.

He looked crazy with desperation for a moment and it poured from his eyes back to her. "Only you and he know for sure. And if she isn't inside you...then perhaps what mind I had has totally gone forever." He often questioned his own sanity, especially over the past few years. He crouched down again and wrapped his arms around his knees.

Merry clasped her hands together and looked at them, and watched as they came apart, palms facing upwards. Her hands, her body. Her life. 'The Estate ... it let me in. All Ive been learning, none other could be making it inside.' She looked over to him. 'Tis a frightening thought, what you say. To believe in such things as that, yet ...' suddenly she drew in a breath. 'To be learning that you exist .. and if you can be, then the other stories ... have they truth as well? Can you tell me this? Vampires? In town, twas spoken of with such matter of factedness ..'

"Vampires." He gave another nod. "Yes, there are vampires. I'm afraid I'm not much of an authority on them. I'm sorry." He looked down, feeling as though he'd let her down. Vampires were a topic he knew well but in his mind and heart he'd built walls and blocked out most all images he'd ever had. "What do they say, in the town?"

A hand darted up to her throat, instinctively defensive. 'Even now? Tis not just another tale from the past then?'

"Merry, there are things far worse than vampires here even now. " A big shake of his head. "But I dont know if there are any here any longer..I haven't kept up with current event in the town for...um...a very long time"

'In town, tis merely talk, really .. and Im nearly certain twas said more to rattle me.' She didnt want to hear about worse things, yet she hungered to simply hear more.

-------

Serra lay upon her back on the ground outside of the cemetry. She panted softly, blood still flowing dark from her stomach where the blade of her own sword was protruding..the metal glistened and shined bright..mocking her as she stared at it. With frustration she tried to reach beneath herself to grasp the handle, but she was too weak. The sounds of the battle with Lycan and beast kept her fixated..and now that there was silence, for the first time in her life she was truly scared. She called out in desperation for help, for the first time. "Sari...please hear me.." She closed her eyes again.

A faint tremor on the ground beside the girl as Sari Faire landed light to her feet into a feral crouch. 'Trouble ye've brought yerself, girl .. ye've shed yer lifes blood, tis a dangerous gift ye've given the grounds,' the dual voice purred and growled. 'I gave ye warnin darkly of bringin yer battle to this place, but ye've not listened well, ye've not indeed,' Sari chastised her.

A tear ran down her cheek as she eyes opened to see the creature there crouched beside her. "I know...I'm so sorry. I didn't know what to do...He was too strong for me." She referred to the demon that she was bold and perhaps just stubborn enough to try to take on on her own when we at the peak of his power. How foolish she'd been to ever let the sword leave her hands..the memories rushed together now as she spoke again. "Im sorry...but please..tell me...is it over?"

'Tis never over, childe of truth, and aye ye've taken a mighty fine blow, ye have,' Sari Faire peered at the sword tip, a finger darting out to sample the blood that darkened the blade, careful not to actually touch the metal itself. 'Yer metals be dangerous, but if'n ye can move yerself aside ... mayhaps .. Sari Faire would be testin' the mettle of this metal' she giggled at her own pun, and spun herself backwards in delight and to cover the wariness of metal.

With a moan she rolled over onto her side, gritting her teeth tightly and closing her eyes once more. "Please.." cough "just tell me...Just tell me if the danger is done. By all thats good if I die here in vain" She was about to finish the statement in as much bitterness as she could muster..but then discovered that she truly had nowhere to go with that statement.

Then voice resounded all around, but mostly in the landscape of the mind of the fey. "Leave her be and let her die trouble maker. She's suffered and found her fate...now she's mine." The demons grin though silent was surely there.

Rani was there, unassuming, quiet and intent. She knelt swiftly beside the fallen Serra. The blade would not hurt her, could not. And she wouldnt allow Sari Faire to take the chance. Feral eyes met storm-drenched ones, perfect understanding flashed. Rani's hand closed over the swords handle, a gentle hand on Serra's shoulder. 'This will cause pain, and you may begin to lose more blood. Do not fight it, nor me. I will do what I can. Will you trust in that?' The raven circled above, winging down to land near Serra's head, the gleaming eyes cocked on them.

Sari Faire threw fae dust high, and sparkles of light rained down over them. The enchantment was temporary, but strong.

The demon had lost all of his power so it seemed in this reality. His physical anchors on this world..the three animals..were destroyed...but his presence and his voice remained as angry as he'd ever been. The shrieking intensity of his voice had a goal to frighten or at least distract them from their work. "Leave her be! the both of you...Your heroes have fallen..you've all failed...Let her be and let me have what is rightfully mine!"

Serra could hear the voice strong in her head as her eyes opened again and looked upon Rani who seemed to appear to her from nowhere. She felt her intentions and nodded an okay...She was unable to speak as her fingers gripped helplessly at dead leaves on the damp ground.

Over the sound of the angry voice, a soothing sound of cooing would be heard within Serra's mind. Gentle, loving, rhythmic. And distracting. Within that distraction, Rani pulled the sword firmly out, careful to follow the exact line of entry. She wouldnt have much time now. Serra could so easily bleed out. Closing her eyes, she summoned the threads of power from the soil, creating a cradle of power beneath Serra's weakening body. The blood was caught by the rich earth, savored, and transmutted to another type of energy that seeped back into her. Rani held the container of their circle, trusting Sari Faire to keep the larger circle safe. The only question remained was whether Serra could accept the offerings, accept the energy for what it was.

'Begone, evil one, ye've none of yer power left here ... ye' know well the rules of balance!' Sari Faire hissed into the void.

"Perhaps not. But how easily you are distracted little fey. I must depart while the window is open. There are old debts to be collected." And with that the voice and presence was gone.

Serra's face reflected both pain and relief from the removal of the blade and the replacement of lifes energy into her body. Suddenly her eyes flashed open in shock and fear..the angelic white eyes that she rarely displayed...It was now apparent what debt had been collected as she felt the bond with her brother severed.

Rani felt .... something .... but didnt know what it was. The raven screeched and hopped back. Rani leaned over Serra, gently rolling her to her back. 'Serra ... what ..' Rani broke off, momentarily mesmerized by Serra's eyes. She tore her own away, unable to look at her directly.

Growling, Sari Faire bound over to them, landing lightly, not really ired. The demon worried her not, nor the condition of the truth childe.

Seeming possessed and deadly focussed she turned the glaring white eyes upon Sari Faire and spoke to her. "What did you do with them? You must tell me...I can't feel him any longer..somethings gone wrong." She struggled to get up but winced with pain at trying to sever the connection Rani had created to heal her. Her eyes reverted back as she lay down again in defeat.

'Nae wrong, nae right ... tis the nature of things. Balance and debt, childe of truth .. ye've chosen, he's chosen .. ' Sari Faire answered absently, her feral gaze on the childe of her heart .. twas only for her that Sari Faire would battle any without regard for the said nature of things. 'Fear not, this one cannae hurt ye, sweet one,' Sari Faire purred to Rani.

Rani flinched from the exertion of Serra, and from the deep emotion. At Sari's words, she looked to her, the storms dark and unfathomable. Then she moved, a soft motion, a hand going gently to Serra's shoulder. 'Dont be afraid ...' she whispered.

And she was not afraid. She only closed her eyes and accepted whatever fate was to come. She did feel herself getting stronger..healing. However, she wished to die. The bond that she thought was severed was all that kept her focussed..and now it was gone again and she too felt lost.

Quietly, Lycanthro with Mystie at his side wandered onto the scene to watch quietly. Already having answered positively to Mysties request, only upon seeing Serra hurt, the beast defeated, and those he cared for gone that he knew his task in life...perhaps for the rest of his life. He looked down to Mystie and nodded to her once more in silence.

 

Rani of Rikard:  ::Rani nearly burst from the muted earth near the river, Mystie cradled in her arms.  The soil wasnt as friendly here as the odd darkness mingled within it.  Grief nearly strangling her, she laid Mystie to the mist dampened ground, the falls a dramatic backdrop.  Blood had congealed thickly at Mysties breast and across her torso, but worst at her neck.  She was still alive, but barely.  A blood streaked hand gripped Rani's wrist, they clear grey eyes steady even in the midst of such extraordinary pain::
Rani of Rikard [8:40 PM]:  ::Kneeling beside her, her dark skirts spread in a pool, Rani leaned protectively over the damaged girl.  She could save her, she had to save her!::
Keita of the Forest ::Keita's head perked as her overly sensitive ears picked up a sound and her heart felt and overwhelming sense of greif and fear. She dropped down lightly from her favorite tree and tripped lightly and soundless towards her feelings. Finding herself near her bathing place she found two increasingly familier forms.:: What is wrong lady?
Rani of Rikard:  She's been ... assaulted, one of the demon beasts left behind ... ::Rani kept her grip on Mystie and felt the life force diminishing:: Mystie ... its too bad, too deep, there is only one thing left I can do ... let me? ::she implored, and shivered at the firm negative that came from Mystie ... Rani looked to Keita with despair:: I dont know what to do ...
Keita of the Forest Help? I need to help? ::She scuttled forward and looked desperately from the woman and her friend with fear in her eyes. The girl had never had a friend and did not fully understand this overwhelming feeling. She held on to the fading life force and looked with fear upon Rani.:: Save her! Help!
Rani of Rikard:  Keita ... what have you learned about your home?  There is something here .. something that drew me to bring her here, there must be an answer here ... ::Rani's storm-ridden eyes looked towards the dimmed Estate, the smallest seed of an idea growing::  Tell me anything you know, or feel ... 
Keita of the Forest ::Keita looked around frantically as she clutched onto her friend. Her eyes were dark and turbulent as everything in her feelings about this place that had always been her solitary home. She turned her head towards the falls and moved to the water to look into the deapths. She turned back towards the woman and looked towards the Estate and felt its pull.:: I feel two pulls. One is water and one there at that scary place. Don't know it, not been inside. Water feels safe. Help the friend!
Rani of Rikard:  ::something in Rani's eyes shifted, almost dangerously, and then the storms cleared as her eyes lit up in nearly a blinding grey:; The water!  Are you sure about the water??  ::Rani felt the truth in it, the simple power::
Rani of Rikard:  ::Mystie shifted, but made no sound of pain, nothing would induce her to admit to the icy cold feeling that was taking over her body ... she only wished she could see Lycan, even just one more time, but it wasnt to be::  Rani .. ::Mystie rasped::  Tell Lycan ... tell him ... ::it was curious how her voice suddenly wasnt working .. how it just went numb .. the world was dimming, too::
Keita of the Forest ::The creatures eyes brightened just slightly moving almost to the shade of the pool of water at her bare feet. Her wild body moved into the water as she started to practically shimmer.: Safe! I bathe in here and come to drink here, good water. Good inside. Help her now. ::She splashed her hands in the water to make her point until she saw her friend move. She rushed out of the water and up to the form on the ground. Water sparked from her down onto the body of the murmering woman.::
Rani of Rikard:  ::Rani was smaller than Mystie, but it didnt impede her strength or will .. she scooped her up, twisting at the same moment, an oddly graceful and powerful motion::  Exactly, Keita ... take me exactly there ... ::Mystie's heart stuttered ... there was scant time .. and Rani knew what had to be done, knew it deep in her heart::
Keita of the Forest]:  ::The light in her eyes started to churn as their focus moved towards the base of the falls. Her eyes mimicked the churning base of the falls. She ran into the water and turned those mysterious eyes back towards The equally myserious fey as her familier smile crept upon her face.:: You follow me here, inside. Deep, to hold her. :She moved with ease in the water, deeper and deeper turning to her companions with excitement at being able to help.::
Rani of Rikard:  ::Rani held Mystie close, exerting some control to keep the feeble heart from fully stopping .. she couldnt keep it up long, but she wouldnt need to.  She followed Keita into the water, not noticing the coolness of it, only the fluidity as it swirled around her limbs.  At the final gesture from Keita, she hesitated a long moment, looking to the ashen Mystie:: Are you sure?  ::it was more a mind link than spoken words.  Mystie just looked at her drowsily, and suddenly coughed.  Rani held her close as she sank deeper into the water.  The last cough ended the beat of her heart with a faint gasp.  At that gasp, Rani dipped her head and pressed a kiss to Mysties mouth even as she pressed her mind hard into Mysties soul, binding her, confining her, twining the power of Keita and the water into the dreamworld.  And then Rani thrust Mystie beneath the water::  Bind her, Keita ... bind her deep ... only you can!
Keita of the Forest ::The tiny sprite-like creature's eyes veiled slightly as her arms rose above the water, her eyes flashed a deep, enveloping blue with no transition from the turbulance that had been there just a moment before. The water around them began to rise as it moved about them. Her body shook as she brought the cool deep blue liquid up around her fingers and back down onto and around the body of her friend. Over and around, surrounds and enveloping her in the protection of this sacred place, each drop giving of their essence to the one this creature cared so deeply for, her first friend. As the water ceased its flow and calmed her eyes faded and her shimmering stopped. Her arms dropped as her eyes met the other fey.::  will watch over her now, in this place my home. 

Mystie felt the coolness of death embrace her.
The last sight to fill her eyes was the sweet blue waters and the misty falls beyond.
The water changed, forming the image of Lycan.
Mystie felt a faint warmth in the coolness.
And then ... nothing.