After her encounter with James, Illdrid began to distance herself. Each morning, she waited until Shae went to work before getting out of bed, and she'd head back to her room as soon as she heard the carpool dropping Shae back off each evening. She was too depressed to talk to her sister; she was certain she had made a terrible mistake. But it didn't matter now. James wouldn't talk to her, either because he was still too or out of some misplaced need to protect her.
Life wasn't much easier for Shae. She wasn't taking to her new age state well, and it was even harder not having someone to talk to. So on a day off, she hopped in a taxi and went to Scarlet's Tattoo and Salon. Maybe a new look would make her feel younger, more refreshed.
Shae stared down at her nephew in concern. His response to the cake was disconcerting, to say the least. But then she smiled. Perhaps he had more Fae in him than she thought. "Sorry, hun. We'll buy you organic foods from now on. You know, back in the Realm, we only ate the finest nectar from the oldest trees. Maybe one day, we'll go back there. It's so...beautiful."
Dagon rolled his eyes at this Realm talk. He didn't understand it. What he wanted to know more about were his current surroundings. "Right, organic food sounds nice. But what about the water? How I can be sure the water is safe. And the television told me that the cars are causing pollution, and something about carbon footprints. It was really complicated."
Shae threw up her hands in exasperation. This was one weird kid. And he didn't even seem to care about their homeworld. "Don't worry, runt. Everything will be okay," she swiftly changed the subject before he could go on about saving the planet, "Why don't you check out your bedroom? Your mother and I have had this surprise planned for the past couple of months and it's finally finished!"
It was everything he could have wanted. The colors mimicked the outdoors. And there was an easel. He instantly fell in love with his beginner's painting set and decided to put it to use right away. Aoife, meanwhile, seemed to be rather fond of his new toys. Dagon didn't mind, though. She could have him, for all he cared. All that mattered was the shiny new easel. All thoughts of seeking out his mother's companionship vanished as he put brush to paper.
The following day, Dagon went to school for the first time. When he came home, he immediately sat down to do his homework. He didn't like it very much, but his teachers told him it was very important. He just wanted to get it finished so he could make more art. Dagon also noticed that his mom was finally out of her room at the same time as his aunt. Maybe she was feeling better.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. And the strain was hitting Shae especially hard. They bickered the entire time she was fixing the computer and Illdrid was teaching Aoife to walk. Shae decided she didn't want to stick around for Illdrid's foul mood the following day. She didn't have work, so she decided it was time for another makeover.
When she got to Scarlet's Salon, there was a strange man just hanging around in the lobby. "You!" he proclaimed, his blue eyes piercing her skin. Her heart thudded. Was he some sort of crazy murderer?
"Me?" Shae squeaked, taking a step backward. She was close enough to the door to run if she needed to.
The man sensed her panic and chuckled. "Yea, sorry. Didn't mean to alarm you. I'm Patrick."
Shae smiled hesitantly and mumbled, "I'm Shae."
Patrick's eyes lit up. "It is you! Some weird guy with flappy wingdoodles stopped me in the street and asked me if I'd seen you. Or rather someone with your description. I wasn't actually sure it was you until you told me your name."
"Uh, thanks," Shae stuttered as she walked away toward the stairs. Her mind was reeling. Had another Fae been abolished from the realm? A full-blooded Fae? She pictured a freckled face, light brown hair, green eyes...capable hands. She started to blush as she rushed toward the salon area.
Scarlet was nowhere to be found again, so Shae helped herself to a little bit of makeup. She felt eager and giddy, full of anticipation and a fair amount of anxiety. As she stepped away from the mirror, she decided she was going to walk home.
Shae smiled. "I had gathered as much. Apparently you're asking total strangers about me. What's this all about? Have you been abolished from the Realm too?!"
Shae nodded, barely paying attention to his attempts at humor. "Right. But what are you doing here? The whole point of the Realm was to keep prying human eyes away."
_ _ _ _ _
Cliffhanger? Bwahahaha! So, let's see, how is the challenge doing? Every chance she gets, Illdrid is playing her guitar. So her obsession is going quite well. We've got 3 out of 5 kids. In case it wasn't obvious, Dagon's traits are Loves the Outdoors, Artistic, and his newest one is Eco-Friendly. I randomize all the kids' traits, so I have no idea who the heir will be. But it probably won't be Dagon. He actually TECHNICALLY fails the multi-cultural roll. However, since he's a different culture than all the other kids, I'm just going to keep going with it.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
"Promotion. Can you say promotion. Probably not. I guess that's kind of a difficult word for a toddler to say. But that's what we hope Aunt Shae comes home with today! Because we need more money!"
"Pwomotron!" little Dagon squealed, enjoying his mother's surprised laughter.
"Close enough, my little darling. Hopefully one day you'll get all the promotions. You can take care of mommy in her old age!"
"Old age!"Dagon parroted easily. He was surprisingly good at this speaking thing.
Shae's promotion just meant that she had to work harder to rise to the next level. Instead of going to the gym, she helped Illdrid keep an eye on the kids by working out to the Fitness Channel.
"That's right, Dagon. Say thank you to Auntie Shae. She's working real hard to get another raise. And then maybe we'll be able to fix up your bedroom!"
"Raise! Raise!" Dagon chortled.
Illdrid didn't always choose the most appropriate subjects to discuss with the children. Poor little Aoife barely had the basic grasp of the language down before Illdrid brought up the subject of death.
"And then Grim will come and steal your soul and your flesh will decay and all that will be left is bones!"
"Illdrid! Now is not the time to be teaching my daughter about death," Shae shouted from the bedroom.
"Because your son is about to have his birthday! Oh...and death is not an appropriate subject for toddlers. It scares them!" Illdrid scooped up Aoife, muttering about her sister's admonition, and walked to the kid's room to celebrate Evandrus' birthday.
The full moon came out to play the evening of Shae’s birthday. Illdrid had taking her leap into adulthood so well that Shae was actually looking forward to it. No more childish naiveté, pining after a dangerous man. She’d finally be able to put the past behind her, embrace the future. Maybe she’d meet a new man. Maybe Aoife would display some fairy powers or wings. Maybe she’d finally be able to go home.
But the more she thought about it, the less excited she became. And all she could think about as the sparkles consumed her was that this wasn’t what she signed up for. This wasn’t the life she wanted. And as much as she dreamed about returning to the Realm, she knew deep down inside that her dreams were unlikely to ever become a reality. And that was the thought that ruined her birthday.
She might have been happier if Illdrid had been there, but she had received a frantic phone call from James babbling about an emergency. She hadn’t seen him in so long. He hadn’t returned any of her phone calls. It had eaten away at her heart that he wasn’t there to see Evandrus growing up. She had dumped him in the category with all the other men she had encountered since being banished from the Realm. And now suddenly he was calling, claiming there was an emergency. She worried he was using her. Or that he was luring her into a trap, like Derek did to Shae. But Illdrid thought about Dagon, how he might not be with her right now if it weren’t for James, and she knew she owed it to him to help him in his time of need.
When she arrived, he was already waiting outside. His eyes were glazed over and he didn’t look quite himself. Illdrid almost turned around, but he reached out to her, “Illdrid please.” His voice was a hoarse whisper. “I need your blood.”
Illdrid almost giggled at the absurdity of it, but she could tell he was quite serious. Despite all of her instincts warning against it, she moved closer to him. “Why? Why do you need my blood? Why haven’t you answered any of my calls? Why did you abandon me?”
James groaned, barely able to support himself. “I haven’t been able to break into the hospital to get to their donations. I’ve only ever taken what I needed to survive, but they must have noticed the missing samples, because they amped up the security. I don’t want to feed, to hunt…like some sort of monster. You could help me; help sustain me…if you are willing. I would never…take from you…if you were unwilling. I don’t want to hurt you. I promise, once I’ve gained my strength, I’ll answer your other questions.”
Illdrid nodded her consent, feeling shy and awkward. Every instinct told her to run, escape now. But she couldn’t tear her eyes from his.
He stepped closer and caressed her cheek. “This is going to feel incredibly uncomfortable for you. I’m sorry…”
Illdrid gulped as his fangs brushed the skin of her neck. She felt her pulse racing beneath his frigid touch. And there, beneath the starry night sky, his fangs pierced her flesh and began dragging the very life from her body. She felt weak, afraid, excited.
He pulled away when he had enough. “Are you…okay?” he asked, tenderly cupping her face in his hands. Illdrid nodded. She was a little dizzy, but ultimately, she was fine.
“Are you ready to answer my questions now?” she asked, trying to brace herself for his answers, his rejection. He nodded, taking her hand to sit beside him in the grass.
“The night I destroyed the witch, I took all of her blood into my body, took her whole essence inside of me. I worried that the dark magic that coursed through her veins would begin to affect me. So after our final night together, I decided that in order to keep you safe, I’d cut you out of my life. I didn’t know how the magic would make me react. I told you…I never want to hurt you.”
Illdrid’s brow furrowed at his confession. “But you’ve already hurt me,” she said. “Your absence hurt me. I felt abandoned. Again. We have a child…”
“I know,” he said. “Evandrus. I didn’t trust myself near you, but I’ve been watching. Since our first night together, I’ve felt inexplicably bonded to you. I want to be in your life, in his life. I want to watch him grow. But I just have this premonition of danger if I stay near you. I think it would be best if I stick to the shadows for awhile. Maybe one day…”
Illdrid inched away from him. “You want to stay in the shadows? To protect me? Why won’t you let me make my own decisions? I want you in my life…not lurking in the shadows.”
James frowned. “But I’m trying to keep you safe.”
“Let me worry about my own safety,” Illdrid bit back.
“No offense, Illdrid, but you haven’t exactly made the wisest choices in regards to your life and safety. Your profession alone comes with so many risks…”
Illdrid shot to her feet. “I don’t have to listen to any of this. If you want to be a part of my life, your child’s life, then I expect you to be an active participant.”
“I can’t do that. I care about you too much.”
“I’m sorry, James. If you cared, you’d be present. Since you won’t do that, please stop skulking about in the shadows…and just stay out of my life.” Illdrid shook her head at him, frustrated and hurt that he didn’t trust her to make her own decisions. She walked off alone, knowing her debt to him had been repaid and that she’d probably never see him again.
NOTES: I didn't mean to make this chapter so depressing. It kind of wrote itself at the end there...So to make up for it, have some cute toddler spam!
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
It was while she cooked lunch one day, that Illdrid realized she was pregnant again. There hadn't been any other warning signs. No morning sickness. No gradual weight gain. No random aches or pains. And then suddenly - pop. The belly came.
Shae rushed over from her seat at their little breakfast table, her eyes sparkling, "You sly minx! Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant!?"
Illdrid blushed. "I didn't know. Until right this moment."
Shae jumped up and down with glee before rubbing Illdrid's belly. "Boy oh boy oh boy! Now we'll have three options for our trip back to the Realm. We'll have to see who exhibits the most Fae-like powers."
Illdrid forced a smile, knowing that she had no intention of returning to their former home. Or allowing Shae to take her children. But now was not the time for that argument, because today was Shae's first day back to work from maternity leave.
"I'll try to make it home in time!" Illdrid said to Shae as the walked out the door. She felt miserable. She was fat and swollen and achey. And she was quite possibly going to miss her baby's first hours as a toddler.
That possibility became a fact as the aging twinges took over Dagon's body. Shae took him from his crib and placed him on the ground. There was no money for a cake, and the floor was the safest place for him to age up.
And there he was.The spitting image of Illdrid in a tiny male body.
She returned Aoife to her crib and started crying out in pain. Dagon ignored her and played with his blocks. Her screams probably should have distressed him. But building was important!
"Okay darling nephew of mine, can you say 'flower.' That's right. 'Flower.' Flowers are the way to a ladies heart, ittie bittie Daggie. Especially fae ladies. The Realm is covered in flowers...all different magical kinds. Lillies. Begonia. Delphinium. Cattleya. And on and on and on. It's so beautiful there. You'll love it, my sweet little imp."