Thursday, October 1, 2015

Midweek Mayhem Children of Fae Chapter 7 excerpt

Here's a sample of Chapter Seven, hope to still have it done by the end of the year!  I will also be having some giveaways for t he quickly upcoming holiday season. 

Chapter Seven


A tall, white vase of blue, purple and pink hydrangeas with a card poking out of them like a tiny flag, sat on the marble countertop in the kitchen.  Lizzi looked at them from the living room.  Her elaborate apartment was quiet except for the music from the musicians in the park.  They played every afternoon, and today, they were playing flutes.  It was sweet music, and as Lizzi gazed at the flowers Zaki had sent her, she found it hard to believe he was part demon. 
“A demon sent me flowers,” she said to herself as she gazed at them.
She got up and walked over to them, and pulled the card out to read it again.
You are stronger than you think, little gem—hope you find these as beautiful as I find you.
Lizzi stuck the card back.  It was strange that he sent them, and even a stranger message on the card, but Lizzi couldn’t help but to smile each time she read the card.  At the same time Zaki made her feel uncomfortable, he had opened something inside of her she didn’t know was there.  He had helped her with her premonitions, and for the first time in her life, she was in control of them.  No more rollercoaster ride of visions, and just like coming off of some amusement ride, she would be sick to her stomach.  The taunting of her premonitions was mentally exhausting as well as physically.
Lizzi went to the window that overlooked the park.  A small group had formed around the musicians that she could see through the trees.  The music had a relaxing quality to it that she found she couldn’t stop listening to.  Her mind drifted from the dress she was trying to design that she was doing for herself to the flowers Zaki had sent her.
The music stopped, and the musicians bowed to the clapping of the audience as they began to put away their instruments and the gathered Faes dispersed.  Lizzi stepped away from the window and looked at her apartment.  It was beautiful, it was amazing, but it troubled her.  She wanted to get on with her life, not be a Rebel again, and do the things she used to.
Frustrated, she went into her bedroom and got out the scrying bowl.  She took it out into the kitchen and slammed it on the counter as if it was a disobedient child she had to correct.  Lizzi then filled it with water; she hadn’t done that in a long time as it amplifies the premonition.  Before, she just stared into it and felt she was always at its mercy to show her things.  Now, she felt she was in control.
“Show me what is to come.”  Lizzi stared into the bowl expecting a delay in her premonition, but as if a servant waiting for an order, the water in the bowl rippled, and the premonition pulled her in.
At first, Lizzi thought she might lose control, but quickly gained it by slowing her thoughts and clearing her mind.  The premonition was vivid, and erratic like so many times before.
As if the premonition knew who was always on her mind, it revealed Toby to her.  He was with Lyssa, and a Mog.  They had him in a barn and were giving him food and tending to his wounds.  How did a Mog get to the Etherworld?  The vision slipped to another as if it was an impatient child.  Lizzi couldn’t think about what she was seeing, she had to focus on the image before her, not question it.  She clung to the thought of Toby, and the premonition then showed him standing at a portal that erupted with bright light.  A slender hand greeted him that was pale as snow.  He reached for it and stepped into a wooded area as the stone portal dimmed behind him. 
“Welcome, son of Orzan, to Fae.”  Izzet gazed up at him in all of her paleness.  “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Toby smiled down at her as they stood in the ruins of an ancient city.
“Arrinia, they’re in Arrinia,” Lizzi said aloud.
“I’m glad to finally be here.”  Toby looked around, scanning the old city as one would look beyond the rumble to the potential it still had.
“Yes, this city will come back to life, and you will be the one to do it.  With my help and the Everspell….” Izzet looked back towards the portal.  “Where is the Everspell?”
Toby smiled coldly as he opened his hand and revealed a clear stone that sparkled in the sunlight. 
“My, my, my, you are like your father.”  Izzet gazed at the stone with her pale eyes.  “I thought I’d have to help you extract it, and you did it all by yourself.”  She sounded pleased.
“She was almost willing to give it to me—said it was making her mad, and I helped her—said it wouldn’t even hurt.”  Toby laughed.
Had Toby killed Lyssa for the Everspell?  He couldn’t of, he isn’t a murderer, and he isn’t like his father.  Lizzi was arguing with the premonition, and she felt it slipping, so she concentrated on it rather than giving into her feelings.
“This is your inheritance, Toby.  The city of Arrinia needs to be rebuilt as its power is still here, but is dormant and waits for its leader.  I am too weak to handle it, but you, son of Orzan, are strong enough to take its power along with the Everspell and rebuild what was never to be abandoned.”
“Don’t listen to her!”  Toby!”  Lizzi yelled knowing it was just a vision, a picture of the future—just a premonition.  But it is the direction things are going right now.
“I’m not done!  Show me more!”  Lizzi took the scrying bowl, and sat in on the tiled floor sloshing water onto her shirt.
The premonition listened as shadows danced across the ripples of the water until it calmed. 
“Who’s the Queen—show me the Queen that will rise against Toby.”  Lizzi felt a new bond had been tied between her and her ability.  She felt she had finally harnessed its power.
Jagged mountains stood like broken teeth as deep gullies intertwined through the red-orange mountains.  The blue sky contrasted with the vivid mountains making a striking landscape.  Lizzi felt herself floating about this serene place like a cloud rolling lazily across the sky.  She saw no forests, castles, buildings—nothing but the mountains and sky.
Suddenly, she sped up and the ground beneath became a blur.  The colors of the landscape ran together in a multitude of colors that shifted, and as quickly as the premonition sped up, it slowed down and revealed a city of slender buildings.  They dotted the smooth landscape that had fields of crops growing in the distance, and what Lizzi thought were Faes tending to those fields.  The sky was a blueish-purple with the sun hanging on the horizon that could had been dawn or dusk.  Lizzi moved closer, but still hovered in the sky.  The premonition wouldn’t let her get any closer.
“What is this place?”  She asked.
“This is the Spindle City of Nerabeth.  It is caught in the past and the future, but exists in silence waiting for its prince.”
Lizzi floated between the narrow towers.  Some were smooth and some decorated with animal carvings and swirling designs.  To Lizzi, they looked like chess pieces scattered.
“What do you mean?  Who are you?  Are you…the premonition speaking?”  Lizzi felt her heart race as she never thought it would actually have a voice.
“No, child of the stars, we are the Graces of the Isle of Stars, and you are in our world now.”
“What do you mean your world?”  Lizzi asked and continued to float over the city that looked misty and caught between ancient ruins to a vibrant city full of life.
“We see everything that has been, is happening, and will come.  You see it too, but only you have the power to alter what will come, child of the stars.”  The voices were many, but spoke as one. 
“Lizzi!” A voice yelled in desperation.  “Lizzi, can you hear me?!”
Lizzi paused wondering where the voice was coming from.
“Lizzi!”  The female voice repeated, and this time, sounded familiar.
“Zoey?”  She questioned.
“Stop the premonition.  You’ve been in it too long!”  She yelled.  “You’ve seen what you need to see…go!”
Before Lizzi could say anything to Zoey, she felt her body begin to tumble through the air.  She went through the clouds and past the tall, slender buildings that began to topple and crumble around her. 
Her fall, slow at first, sped up like a rollercoaster cresting over a steep incline. Giant sections of the chess-like buildings cracked and whooshed past her as she tried to scream.  The air turned sour and full of dirt and dust from the crumbling buildings.  She had to do something before she hit the ground, but what could she cling to?
Lizzi watched the buildings topple around her, and one caught her attention because someone was standing in the window.  A blonde-haired girl stood pressed to the window holding out a glittering crown in her hands.  Her face was calm, unfrighten by the chaos surrounding them.  Lizzi’s falling pace slowed, and she made eye contact with the girl.  Lizzi clearly saw it was Casperinia, the Banshee Princess.
Her hair blew in the wind as she extended her arms out and let the crown slip from them and tumble through the air along with the destroyed buildings.
Lizzi screamed as she was caught in a storm of falling rocks, bricks and dust. There was nothing to hang onto, nothing to save her, and just as one of the pointed, needle-like tops of one of the buildings headed straight for her like a spear intended to hit her, the vision stopped.
“Lizzi,” Wes’s face was inches from hers, and his voice raspy as if he had been calling her name for days.  His eyes had a mixture of fear and relief.  “Deravon!”  He turned and yelled.
Lizzi didn’t understand why he was so frantic, and tried to speak, but couldn’t.  Her throat felt like it was coated with sand, and her body ached as if she had been crushed by the falling buildings.
“Good,” Deravon said, pressing a glass to her lips.
The thick liquid trickled in her mouth causing her to choke on it.  “Drink it, Lizzi.”  He raised his eyebrows at her, but he appeared much calmer than Wes.
He paced the floor, running his fingers through his hair.  Lizzi watched him as she drank the tasteless, cool liquid.  Wes, he was the Prince of Nerabeth.  She had to tell them what she saw, what the premonition showed and told her.
Lizzi pushed the glass away and tried to speak, but coughed instead.
“Dancing with the Graces, are we now?”  Zaki asked sitting beside her.  “Very good, child of the stars.”
“How…”  Lizzi cleared her throat as her head swam with dizziness.  How did Zaki know that she heard the Graces’ voice, and that they called her by that name, but then again, how did Zaki know about her premonitions and how to handle them?
Wes pushed Zaki aside, and lifted Lizzi up.  “Move, demon.”
Wes gently put her on the couch and placed one of the lace pillows under her head.
 “You’re the Prince of Nerabeth and the Spindle City is crumbling.”  Wes gave her a confused look, and shook his head as if to disregard it.
“Lizzi, don’t speak right now, and promise me you’ll never do that again.”  His voice pleaded as tears welled in his eyes. 
Lizzi looked into his eyes.  They were old and young at the same time.  She didn’t understand why he was so upset.
“I saw your city—the city that belongs to you.  And the Queen is Casperinia Mourhill—the Queen that needs an army to protect her.  I used my scrying bowl and asked my premonition to show me.  Izzet is after Toby, and if we don’t get to him first, she will and he will kill Lyssa for the Everspell.  Zoey was there too—I heard her, Wes…”  Lizzi had so much to say that she blurted everything out as quickly as she could.
Suddenly, pain shot through her chest, and she sat up coughing—blood.
Wes’s face paled as Lizzi looked at the red color splattered all over the couch and even on Wes’s sleeves as if someone had splattered paint.
Zaki tried to push Wes out of the way as Lizzi sat looking at her hands covered in blood.  Her mouth was coated with its metallic taste, and she felt her surroundings fade.  Was she going to die?  In the back of her mind, and like a shadow looming in the distance, she heard the gentle laughing of the Graces. Had the premonition done this to her or the Graces?
Lizzi tried to keep her eyes open as all she heard were Wes and Zaki arguing, Deravon telling her she’d be alright, and Eli wiping blood from her hands.  Her eyes grew heavy, and sleep beckoned her. 
“She’ll die if I don’t!”  Lizzi’s eyes popped open at the sound of Zaki’s voice.  She didn’t want to die, and she wasn’t.
Through her blurred vision, Lizzi saw Wes staring at her with unblinking eyes as she felt herself calm.  She wanted to tell him everything would be alright—she felt it was now as a peacefulness that she never felt before caressed over her like the waves of the Sanudra Ocean in Atlantis.  But she had never been there, so why was she comparing what she felt to it?  It was Zaki’s thoughts drifting into hers.
“We are intertwining, you and I, little gem.”  His voice was as tranquil as watching the sun set into the ocean. 
“I’m not a gem.”  Lizzi, of everything that was going on now, didn’t like being called that.  It was a pet name, and she hated pet names.
“But I say it out of respect, and admiration.  Does that change your thoughts?”
“No,” she simply replied.
“But that’s what you are, and you’ve just begun your craft.  This is merely the tip of the iceberg.  You have a power that the Graces can only dream about, and I’m sure are terribly jealous over enough to try to kill you.”
“Is that who done this to me?  Is that why I’m weak?”  Lizzi was surrounded in blackness, and the only thing that kept her going was the sound of Zaki’s voice.
“You are truly a gem to this world that is raw and uncut, Lizzi Stokes.”  Zaki didn’t answer her question that she felt she already knew the answer to.  “Without me, you are just that, but let me, and I will help you catch the light and shine like nothing this world has witnessed.”


“This is a safe place for you, Mike.”  Toby tried to calm the whimpering Mog as Lyssa stroked his fur.
“Want to see Craig—he’s my master now.”  Mike looked at Toby with sad eyes.
Toby and Lyssa exchanged looks, and Toby didn’t know what to do.  They didn’t go to Craig’s house.  How do you take something like a mog to a person’s house that has never seen one, or at least no memory of it, and hear it say your name?  Lyssa thought it would be best to handle it differently, and they took Mike to a barn next to Lyssa’s house.
Merlin had erased Craig’s memory of the Fae world anyhow, and everything that had happened to him.  And it’s been hard for Toby to keep such a secret from him.  Many times Toby had wanted to say something just to see if Craig remembered anything, but he didn’t.  Craig acted like as if nothing had happened to him. 
Toby felt he needed someone to talk, and Lyssa was the only one he could.  They talked a lot at first, but as time went by, Lyssa talked about it less and less.  She kept pushing it away, and Toby wanted to push it away as well, but it gnawed at him little by little until he felt he would scream.  Now, a piece of the Fae world had come to them.  While Lyssa looked worried, Toby felt a sense of relief, because this gentle mog was his ticket back to the Fae world.
“What are we going to do?”  Lyssa asked as her repetitive stroking of Mike’s puffy mane had put him to sleep.  “Surely someone is looking for him, I mean, he used a portal.”
“Not if it was the one in Arrinia.  Zoey had showed them how to work it, and more likely that’s the one he came here through.  I don’t see him using the ones in the museum in Avalon.”  Toby smiled, and just like a tea kettle releasing steam into the air, he felt relieved to say aloud the places he had been that Lyssa made him agree to not say aloud.  It had built up, and now, there was no holding back.
“Lyssa, we need to take Mike back to the Fae world, and he’s going to take us.  If he came here, then there’s something going on.”
Lyssa looked at the mog and gently stroked his mane as if she didn’t want to hear him. 
“Lyssa,” Toby repeated her name.
She lifted her eyes to him and it looked like she was on the verge of crying.  Toby felt guilty.  He was elated that Mike had come here, because Toby didn’t know how long he could go without something happening to give him a reason to go to the Fae world.  He almost said something to his mother, but didn’t.  What if she had no memory of the Fae world?  He saw her in his vision when Lizzi took him to the oracle to find out his connection to that world.  That scene had haunted him, and Toby knew his father was from Fae and he was powerful.  That was all he knew, and he wanted more, he deserved more, and now Toby has been given a chance.
“Lyssa,” he took her hand and held it in his.  “We shared something extraordinary, and it isn’t going to ever leave us no matter what.  How could it?  We need to help Mike, and if he said Craig is in danger too, then we have to take him as well.”
Lyssa shook her head.  “No, Craig doesn’t need to go, his memory of everything had been erased, so let it go.”  She warned with her eyes.  “I agree Mike needs to go back, but we need to contact Merlin first.  Sean can do that.”
Sean escaped the Fae world and the Muse’s along with his wife Gwen many years ago.  They were Lyssa’s aunt and uncle that he thought were just good friends of her and her father, but as everything exploded for not only Lyssa but Toby as well last fall, she found out the truth.  But as Lyssa tried to cover it up, Toby had trouble doing so.  He couldn’t let it go, and as he looked at Lyssa with tears welling in her eyes, he was glad Mike had found them.  Now he had to go the Fae world.
“Hey, Lyssa,” he gently said her name as she tried to hide her tears. 
She pushed him away as she wiped her cheeks with her hand.  “No, I’m alright.”
Toby drew in a deep breath, and even though his strong feelings for her had slowly faded as if he just had a cold or the flu, he still had a connection to her and something they shared that would always bind them.
“No, you’re not.”  He wrapped his arms around her as she cried into his chest. 
“I still miss them both so much.”  She pulled herself away and pressed her hands to her eyes.  “When will it stop hurting?”
Toby wanted to take her pain away of losing Gwen, who had been like a mother to her, and Zoey who loved her like a mother as well, and both were killed protecting her.
Toby pushed back her hair and gently removed her hands from her eyes.
“When my grandma died, I thought I’d never get over it.  I was ten, and I cried every night thinking I’d never be happy again, and then my mom told me something that changed my mind.  She said what would grandma think of you sitting in your room crying all the time?  I answered that she would probably tell me to stop, and make better use of my time rather than keeping the tissue companies in business.”  Lyssa laughed between the last remaining tear that rolled down her cheek.  “I stopped, and did things that I knew would make her happy and proud of me.”
“You’re right.”  Lyssa shook her head.
“Of course I am.”  Toby agreed with a crooked smile.  “But even though you go on, the hole will always be there, because how can something heal when you loved someone so deeply?”
Toby had found stability with his grandmother that his mother and father could never give him.  They fought all the time when he was little, and he hated it.  Even though things were calmer now, Toby always felt something hidden and quiet sat dormant just waiting to explode.  The only thing was, when it would.
Caught in his own thoughts, he didn’t notice Lyssa crying again.  He didn’t say anything to her—just wrapped his arms around her tightly and held her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Midweek Mayhem Children of Fae Chapter 6

Still going alone with Children of Fae and hope to have it out by the Holidays.  In the meantime, here's chapter 6-enjoy!

Chapter Six


“Want a ride home?”  Toby asked Lyssa as she shut her locker door.
“Sure,” Lyssa said, glad that he offered, because she was getting tired of walking home.  “I really need to find a car.”
“I can help you if you want me to.”  Toby offered as they walked shoulder to shoulder down the hallway.
“That would be great, but first I have to save enough money.”  Lyssa opened the glass door as a rush of cool, spring air greeted her.
It’s been six months since she found out she was part of a hidden world called Fae.  Toby was there too, and the secret of its existence they shared, but Lyssa felt the knowledge of it pull at her every day.  She had promised Merlin that she would remain quiet, and never seek to find a way back.  Lyssa had grown up in the Etherworld, as the people of Fae call it, and she wanted to have a life with her dad now as well as a future.
“Are you going to the career fair tonight?”  She asked Toby as he drove out of the school parking lot.
“The what?” he asked.
He glanced at her with his green eyes, and then back towards the street.  The afternoon sun flickered through the branches of the redbud trees that lined Blossom Street.
“The career fair,” she repeated.  “You know, the thing that juniors and seniors go to plan their futures.”
Toby drew in a deep breath as Lyssa pulled out the list of venders that were going to be there. 
“There’s going to be a lot of future potential employers there as well as a few college reps.” Lyssa looked at the paper that had turned flimsy from being in her bag so long.
“There’s going to be a construction outfit there—that’s new this year.”  She slid her eyes over towards Toby who kept his on the road as he twisted his fingers tighter around the steering wheel.  “I was thinking of going to the community college first, and then decide what I want to do.  You know it’s alright if you don’t—”
Toby jerked the wheel and pulled over to the side of the road taking Lyssa by surprise.
“How can you possibly think about college, what you’re going to do, or even this town for all that matters, especially…” 
After what had happened to us.
Toby looked at her with his eyes that matched the greening grass outside.  He looked at her for a moment as if begging her for help.
Lyssa folded the paper up and shoved it into her bag.  She knew how he felt, but she was trying to force the Fae world out of her life and get on with this one.
“Toby,” she took in a deep breath.  “I know what we went through was extraordinary, but this is our world.  There is no place for us in Fae.”  Her eyes and voice were sympathetic.  “The only way to forget about it is to move forward in this one.”
Toby let out his breath.
“I can’t, Lyssa.”  His tone was that of exhaustion, and of hopelessness.
“Yes, you can.  You just have to take baby steps, and here’s your first one.”  She pulled out the flyer for the career fair.
He looked at it like he was gazing into a black hole.
“You don’t have to pick anything, just go.  You can pick me up, and I’ll go with you.”
Toby took the paper from her hand, and continued to stare at it.  She watched him for a moment thinking how things were just a few month ago.  So much can happen in such a short amount of time.
“Doesn’t it bother you?!” He asked loudly as if he had it bottled up for a long time.  “We were involved in something that no one knows about, Lyssa.  I mean, it’s another world.  It’s a world we belong to, and you are just pushing it away?”  He asked with a slight amount of disgust.
Lyssa ran her finger over her bag strap wishing she had just walked home.  She was trying to bury what happened to her, what had happened to her dad, and what had happened to Zoey, behind her.
“I have connections,” he said, looking at his arrow-shaped mark he had in the palm of his hand.
Lyssa had one too, only hers was complete in its leaf-shape design, unlike Toby’s fragmented one.  To Etherlings, it looked like a mole or freckle that looked like it should probably be removed, but you can never remove something that was so deeply a part of you.
“Yes, we are a part of the Fae world, and it’s visible by our marks, but this is our world, Toby.”  Lyssa pointed down sternly as if she was digging her finger into the earth, and holding onto it with all of her might to forget the Fae world that continually pulled at her.
Toby grabbed her hand, forcing it palm up, and revealed her mark that would forever be a visible stain to the world she belonged to.  “You are too!  This is who we are, Lyssa, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.”
“I know I am!  But that doesn’t mean we have to go there to live our lives!”  Lyssa yelled, not intending to.  She had spent the last six months trying to forget the Fae world, live like a normal teen, get ready for her future, and spend time with her dad.  Now, all of that had crumbled in the matter of minutes.
Lyssa avoided looking at her mark as if it was an ugly scar.  Now, Toby had shoved it back in her face making her acknowledge it.  She ran her fingers through her hair, and felt the sting of tears threaten, when suddenly, something thumped on Toby’s truck hood. 
Lyssa and Toby both looked at who Lyssa thought was someone telling them to move on.  But it wasn’t.  Staring back at them was a creature that looked like a cross between a lion and a dog with its large eyes, and puffy mane.  It could easily pass for a very large Muppet, Lyssa thought, and she would have normally screamed at the sight of it, but Lyssa knew who the beast was.
“Oh my God, is that Mike?” Lyssa asked as goose bumps cascaded down her arms.
They looked at the creature that had belonged, or more like had become the pet of Craig.  Mike was a creature from the Fae world called a Mog.  And even though they are large and frightening, Lyssa knew them to be gentle creatures.
“What—”  Lyssa croaked out as Toby opened his door.
“Let’s get him in the truck before someone sees him.”
Lyssa got out and opened the tailgate as Toby led the frightened and slightly bruised Mog into the truck.
“Craig is in trouble, Lyssa and Toby, too,” Mike said as a few strands of his mane that weren’t stuck to his head in a bloodied mess.  “Must help you.”
“Mike, you have to get in so no Etherworlder sees you, and we’ll take you to Craig.”  Toby commanded as the Mog got in and sat in the truck bed.  “No, lay down.”
The Mog listened, and laid down with a groan as Toby covered him up with an oil-stained canvas cover.
They got in the truck, and before Toby put the gear shift into drive, Lyssa looked at Toby, and grabbed his hand.
“Toby—” Lyssa felt the walls she had built dividing her from the Fae world had completely dissolved.
“It looks like we don’t have to go to the Fae world, it’s come to us whether we like it or not.”  Toby put the truck into gear, and sped towards Craig’s house.


Even though plans to get to the Etherworld had been set in motion, daily duties and a display of normalcy as Deravon suggested, still had to be done.  Wes was impatient, and wanted to leave right now.  He thought of his vision of Zoey in the forest and his run-in with Dane.  He knew it was real what he saw, and time for everything was running out.
Wes looked at himself in the mirror, and pounded his fist slightly on the dresser; he was growing more and more frustrated. He could go just himself.  Wes had enough training to be secretive, blend in, and get to the Etherworld unnoticed. 
Again, he looked at himself in the mirror.  Dressed in his uniform that was designed exclusively for him by some magician-tailor, Wes never thought and would have argued with anyone who said he would be a Palace Sentry one day.  Never say never was a saying he should live by now, he thought. 
He was the best at fighting, going on missions, and doing anything dangerous that had to be done to maintain the Rebel mansion.  He thought those days would never end, and one day he’d be leader, have his own army, and rule the Arrinia forest.  But that was just a fantasy, a dream that he thought about when he wasn’t practicing his fighting skills.  Wes was smart in the ways of combat and winning battles, now he had to learn to have public relation skills as Deravon instructed him.  What had happened?  Why did he allow himself to come here?  This isn’t what he wanted, and he couldn’t possibly do this for very long.  He could make it to the Etherworld without the help of Deravon, Eli, Lizzi, and, he shook his head, with a clothes-designing-demon as well.  But, he thought he’d give Deravon a chance to listen to his reason for not waiting—he owed him that much.
With a flip of his long, grey-silver coat that swirled around his knees like fluid smoke, Wes pushed his bedroom door open, and tromped out into the kitchen.

“Why don’t we just leave right now?”  Wes asked standing across from Deravon at the short countertop that divided the living room from the kitchen.  “Why wait for the festival?  Surely we could come up with a plan that would get us unnoticed to the portals on the Isle of Stars.” 
“And good morning to you, Wesley,” Deravon said with a smile.  “To answer your question, we could, but what if we got caught?  Then what?”  Deravon, dressed in his uniform, said as he put an apple in each of the three bags that sat on the counter.  “It’s much better to wait for the right time, rather than go at a riskier time.”
Wes knew there was no arguing with Deravon, and knew he was right in thinking that way, but Wes couldn’t wait for the festival to go, not to mention trying to get tickets.  He had to make plans to go himself, this he knew.
“You know tickets aren’t cheap, and there’s only so many left over after the reserved ones are taken.”  Wes turned around as Deravon smiled and handed him his sack lunch.
Wes felt he should at least explain his reasons to Deravon before deciding to follow through with his. 
“Yes, I know, and don’t you think that I have connections that will surely prove their worthiness to me—again.  I have no doubt that we won’t be traveling first-class on the cruise boat that goes to the Isle of Stars every year.  You can thank me with a purchase of a victory drink when on board, my young Fae.”
There was no reasoning with Deravon as Wes grabbed his sack lunch, and headed towards the door.  “I’ll meet you downstairs.”

The morning was bright with a flavor of sweetness in the air.  The rose trees were blooming and littered the ground with their lavender-blue petals.  Wes looked at them thinking for a split second that Lyssa would probably like them.
Crossing the nearly vacant street, Wes walked over to the sliver of ground that curved its way through the roadway like a colorful ribbon.  He plucked one of the flowers from its delicate branch and pinched it between his fingers. 
He could use one of the portals at the museum.  Zoey had showed them the basics of using portals with the ones she had in her collection that she scavenged on to.  She had a lot of relics, as she called them, and said it was important to hang onto the tangible things of our history so we can see the past, and build for the future.  Most of the magical implements had been confiscated by the Muses.  They had stolen from the museums, taken by threat from private collectors, and even illegally imported stolen implements from other realms.  Zoey did her best to take what she could by stealing, yes, but she kept them from the hands of evil.  The only bad thing was evil had a sister.  Izzet was the last remaining Muse, and heir to a power that was gaining strength.
Wes looked down at the flower he had twirled between his fingers.  It was already beginning to wilt.  He tossed it to the ground, and looked at the apartment door wondering where Eli and Deravon were.
“We’re going to be late.”  Wes huffed to himself as he looked down at the watch Lizzi had given him on his birthday.  It had a leather strap and squiggly marks around the small, round, glassed-covered face that were written in Atlantian numbers.  Wes didn’t know Atalntian, but it was a nice watch that never needed winding or batteries.  The numbers coincided with Faeish numerals, so he could still tell what time it was.
Wes looked at the door again.  There was no sign of them as he glanced down at his watch again.  “Probably still powdering his nose.”   He smirked to himself.
Wes began to cross the desolate street when suddenly, and out of nowhere, a man rounded the corner and ran into Wes knocking them both to the ground.
Wes got up as the man dressed in a ragged, brown cloak, rolled over and pulled something out from the inside pocket.  Thinking it was a weapon, Wes grabbed the palm scepter he kept in his pocket, and expelled the thin blade in the matter of seconds.  He stood over the man with the blade shoved in his face.
“It’s you, I sensed it…I sensed it!”  The man exclaimed in his rough voice.
“Don’t move.”  Wes commanded as the man’s hood fell back, and he could see that he had no eyes, but two scared holes of where his eyes used to be.  His straggly hair hung around his weathered face as he extended his shaking hand towards Wes.
“Take it…you are the owner…the Prince of Nerabeth…your highness…I took it for you.” 
In his hand that had two missing fingers, was a palm-sized, wood box with intricate designs.
“Take what’s inside, and give the box back…they are coming for it…hurry!  You need it to save the girl!”
Girl—meaning Lyssa? 
Compelled by what the man said, Wes took the box and pulled out a tiny, velvet pouch.
“Give the box back, and hide the key!”  The man yelled in his raspy voice just as a sentry carriage pulled up flashing its blue orillions that sat on top of the vehicle.
Wes looked at the two sentries get out as he still had his palm scepter out and pointed towards the old man.
“Thanks, but we can take it from here.”  The tallest and broadest of the sentries said as the smaller one bound the old man’s hands together.
“Good thing you were here,” the tall one said, taking notice of Wes with his grey-colored eyes and hair the color of ash.  “What are you anyhow?”  His lip curled into one of curious disgust.
Wes didn’t answer as the other sentry shoved the man into carriage.
“Well anyhow, you helped stop a thief of the museum.”  His pale lips curled into a smile.
“A blind man is a thief?”  Wes questioned the strange looking sentry.
He turned with a slightly annoyed look.  Wes stood looking at the colorless man, as his equally colorless partner glanced at him from inside the carriage.
“We have to go!”  He yelled.
The tall sentry glanced back and then raised an eyebrow at Wes. “Thieves have all kind of ways to steal things,” he chuckled at Wes as he looked at his uniform. “Sentry.”
He got in the carriage, and sped down the street leaving Wes standing on the sidewalk.  Wes had no idea who they were, but he knew enough that they weren’t real sentries.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out the tiny pouch.  It felt like nothing was in there, but when he emptied its contents, out came a tiny, toothpick-like, glass rod.  It was delicate looking with carved, swirling designs that went around the frosted glass rod.  This was a key?  A key to what?  But the man knew who he was, and proved it by calling him the Prince of Nerabeth.  And he knew of Lyssa. Where had the man come from, and why did he want to give this to him?
“Ready, my fellow sentry?”  Deravon joyfully announced as he laid a heavy hand on Wes’s shoulder.
Wes carefully put the pouch inside his pocket and turned to join Deravon and Eli to start his first day as a Palace Sentry.


Horns and whistles brought Megan to her senses followed by the smell of—fresh, baked bread?  With her memory of the last few events scattered, she realized she was in some kind of store room filled with cans that had pictures of fruit on them, sacks of sugar and flour, and a silver cooler that hummed quietly in the corner.  Was she in the Etherworld?  And if she was, where was she?
Megan got up and climbed the stepstool that sat under a small window that nearly reached the ceiling.  Standing on the tips of her toes, she peered through the dirt smeared glass that looked like someone had tried to clean, but gave up. 
A stone wall cluttered with trash barrels and dumpsters stared back at her.  Megan couldn’t see anything as to where exactly she was.  She plopped down on the stool and cradled her head in her hands.  Pushing through her scattered memories, she tried to remember the last thing that happened to her.  She was using the portal to get to the Etherworld, and doing an amazing job she thought with a smile, as she had no training, and as she looked at her hands that had been bound with gauze, she also did an amazing job executing her spells on the guards.  But what happened next?
She looked around her surroundings.  There was a bright light, and then suddenly she felt herself drop as if she had jumped off the tallest building in Avalon.
“Merlin,” she said, as the heavy-looking wood door opened letting the noise and light in from the other side.
“No, Elijah,” the Giant said looking at her donning an apron that said Big E’s Bakery.  “How are you princess?  I can bring you something from my shop if you like.”
“From your shop?”  She shook her head and rubbed her temples.  “Elijah, where-where am I?  Are we still in Avalon?”
He took in a deep breath.  “Yes, and you just about had your head removed from your body if I wouldn’t have stopped Merlin.  We thought you were one of Izzet’s men that have been increasing in numbers lately, and enough to cause Merlin concern.  Her thugs have been tinkering with the relics and such at the museum and a few items have come up missing.”
“So how did you stop the Banshee portal?  What are you, watching it?”  She crossed her arms and stepped towards the Giant.
“First of all, it isn’t your portal, it belongs to the museum.”  He stated as he grabbed a couple of large cans of fruit from the shelf stirring up several particles of dust.  “Goodness, I need to clean in here.”  He shook his head in disgust to the dirt-covered shelves.
“Elijah, tell me what is going on.”  Megan demanded as he looked at her cradling the two cans in his arms.
“Like I said, Izzet is up to something, and Merlin, who thought she was different from her brothers—especially after what they done to her.”  He shook his head.  “Well, let’s just say that my business, which is slowly gaining popularity, might have to be put on hold to help Merlin save Avalon from another Muse.”
Megan didn’t know much about Izzet except she hung in the shadows of any social gatherings she saw her at, which was rare that she attended any, and she always looked sickly, like all the color had been drained from her.  Rumors of why she looked the way she did and acted the way she did, were always a part of the conversation Megan heard.  Everything from she had some kind of disease to she was trying to look like the models Vine had shown in her spring collection one year that were pale and thin, but looked at least healthy.  Izzet looked like a sickly cat you’d find in the alleyway.  But one rumor that rung more truthfully, was one she heard that Izzet was used in one of her brother’s experiments, and unless it was supposed to make her look like a living dead, it had gone horribly wrong. 
“But I didn’t think Izzet was…”
“Capable of taking over where her brothers left off,” Elijah said, finishing her sentence.  “Merlin didn’t either, and I don’t know why, but Izzet isn’t who she appeared to be.”  He stepped closer to the door.  “She had Merlin fooled…played on his sympathy and begged him to help her.”  Elijah sat the cans of fruit he had in his massive arms down and crossed them across his chest as he gave her a quizzical look. “Which brings me to ask you, why you were using the portal, princess.”
Megan took a step back.  “I-I was trying to get to Ayabell.” She had to lie, and then get out of here so she could find another way to get to the Etherworld, today!  There was no turning back now.
“Ayabell,” he repeated.  “Why didn’t you just take a carriage instead of turning a few sentries into spell-zombies for a few hours, and running a portal that you don’t have any experience working?”
Megan shrugged her shoulders.  “I didn’t want to take a carriage.  I wanted to get there and back in the shortest amount of time possible.”  Her tone was solid and she kept her eyes on Elijah.
“Then why did you ask Merlin what he was doing in the Etherworld when I stopped him from decapitating you?”  His eyes narrowed and his lips curled into a slight smile.
Megan was a princess, and a princess shouldn’t have to be forced into answering her comings and goings—even if it did fall in the grey area of being legal.  And she was being interrogated by someone who could thump her into the ground with just his finger.
Megan squared her shoulders as she looked at Elijah.  She was a Banshee princess for goodness sakes! Why should she be kept here and questioned.
“I was going to Ayabell on behalf of my mother, not the Etherworld.  It was for Banshee business.”  She looked him in the eyes knowing Elijah wouldn’t do anything to her, but his presence said otherwise.
“Banshee business?” he repeated with a raise of his eyebrows.  “I don’t believe you, and you’re not a good liar anyhow.”  He shook his head.
“Excuse me,” Megan snapped.  “You are calling a Banshee princess a liar.”
“Yes, I am, princess, and like I said, you aren’t good at it.”  Elijah’s tone was passive as he picked up the cans of fruit.
“Maybe if you wouldn’t have intercepted the portal, I wouldn’t have been disoriented, and possibly injured.  You know, I can have you arrested for that.”  Megan was grasping at straws trying to turn the tables on something she didn’t know if she could.
“And how would you explain the use of several spells on our honorable sentries, and taking a portal that has to be authorized by council before using it?”
Megan pursed her lips together knowing she’d been caught by Elijah and Merlin.
“Besides Casperinia, Merlin examined your little princess head, and knows that you were trying to get to the Etherworld to seek the Etherling…”
“Alright!”  Megan yelled.  “I was,” she said rubbing her forehead, “I was going to the Etherworld.”  She confessed as there was no way out of it now, especially since Merlin, who had the ability so see within other Fae’s minds—at least fragmented thoughts and intensions, Megan not only felt embarrassed, she felt violated.  But she had no room to argue with them.
“Don’t be too worried, Merlin isn’t turning you in.  But he does want you to return home, and don’t use the portal again, and above all, which I don’t think this will be a problem, don’t tell anyone what happened here.”
Megan let out a sigh, and ran her fingers through her hair as Elijah sat one of the cans of fruit down.
“Ah, I understand,” Elijah said placing his heavy hand on her shoulder giving her a sympathetic smile.
“You understand?”
“Matters of the heart, I understand them.  You are young, and you saw something in the Etherling that you never felt before.  But believe me,” he pointed towards his chest with his thick thumb, “I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts, and to give you a piece of advice, you never know what’s around the next corner.”  He smiled as if he had told her the meaning of life.
Megan wanted to roll her eyes, and tell the Giant he was an idiot.  Really, this wasn’t advice, and she wasn’t giving up on getting to the Etherworld and finding Craig.
“Thank you, Elijah.”  Megan smiled, and prepared to give him one of her princess replies.  “Your advice I will take to heart and rethink my intentions, and above all, I won’t use the portal again at the museum.  I was foolish to do so, and knew it, but like you said, my heart was thinking for me rather than reason.”
Elijah smiled, and then bent over slightly putting his face in hers, and giving her a serious look.  “I don’t believe you, and I’m sure Merlin doesn’t either.”
Megan stepped back.  “That’s rude, and you can’t assume anything.”
“Yes, I can, because I’ve been in love to, and I know that love just doesn’t turn off like that,” he snapped his fingers, “from some lame advice a Giant gave you.”
Megan raised her eyebrows.
“I know you are disregarding my advice, but, princess, don’t disregard the danger we are in right now.”
“Exactly what danger?”  She asked.
Elijah drew in a deep breath.
“Nothing that a single princess can stop, so, I suggest you go home.  There is a carriage waiting outside for you.”
Elijah quickly guided her towards the door as he shoved a paper bag in her hands.
“Here, you can take home a complementary sampler bag of my pastries here, and,” he said guiding her out the door and into the busy street.  “Don’t worry about having to come up with an excuse; one has been made for you already.”
“A picture will complete my story.”  A voice said behind her.
“Todd?”  Megan gazed in disbelief at him as he smiled at her holding his camera.
“Yes, princess,” he smiled.  “Both of you stand closer and in front of the shop so I can get the front of the building in the picture.”  Todd instructed as he motioned with his hand.
A few Faes passed by, some taking notice, while others walked by weaving around them.  Elijah pulled Megan closer to him as he smiled towering over her like one of the massive, glittering buildings of downtown Avalon.
“A smile would look much better, Casperinia.”  Todd suggested.  “Now, hold the bag up so I can see it and…smile!”
Megan put on a smile and held the bag up hoping the photo didn’t show what she felt inside.  Her attempt to get to the Etherworld had failed, she was caught and her head examined by Merlin, and now Todd was snapping photos as if she was here to promote Elijah’s shop.
“Thank you, Capserinia, for coming.  And I do hope you enjoy your pastries,” Elijah said with a wink.
Megan, still trying to compose herself, smiled as Todd took another picture.  “Yes, I will, and thank you for inviting me to your wonderful shop.  I hope to come again soon.” 
A small group of Faes had gathered, some taking their own pictures.  Megan had put on her princess fa├žade as she did so many times before, but inside she felt defeated, angry, and now, unwilling to give up.
“Princess,” Todd said standing behind her as Elijah went back into his glass-front shop with his name painted in large letters on one of the glass panels.  “There are no portals nearby.”  She glared at him, and this seemed to amuse him even more.  “I mean the portalways that Faes use every day—there isn’t one for a few blocks. May I give you a ride home instead?” 
Megan gave him a cold look.  He knew what she had done, and she wanted to know why he did.  “Yes, you may, and I’d love to continue our interview of this lovely story.”
“Good, because I have many questions.”