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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/2088682-Descendants-of-Alchemy
Rated: ASR · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Fantasy · #2088682
Uncover the secrets of The Stone and reveal the history of our families' past!
[Introduction] Long ago a scribe named Nicholas Flamel fell in love with a mythical creature. A half blooded child of a fairy and a human who grew up to be a beautiful maiden named Rosalie Fae. Flamel only had one heart to give and a couple of human decades to live, but he knew that his love would be as immortal as his fairy lover... So he became an alchemist and crafted the Philosopher's Stone in hopes that he, too, could be immortally basking in their eternal love. The stone was successfully crafted, but the households of Flamel and Fae never became one... What happened to them?


~~Hello Everyone! Welcome, welcome, welcome. So glad you're here. Let's get to writing this thing, yeah?
Our story will take place in present time and will follow the descendants of the families of Flamel and Fae. Nicholas Flamel and Rosalie Fae never wed, so our families are not related by blood (Leaving some room for romance *Heart* ). You can choose to be a Flamel, a Fae, or anyone you want as long as you can make them relevant to the story. You could also have more than one character. Please feel free to use my characters within your own writing following the information provided on my bio block (I really love to see other people's works with my character creations). Whenever I involve your characters in my writing I will also try my best to portray your characters correctly based on info provided.
Here's a template for your bio block:

Name: (You can be a Fae a Flamel or anyone who is relevant to the story)
Age: (Completely up to you)
Appearance: (Whatever you want your character to look like)
Personality: (I set the content rating at ASR so that you are free to use profanity if you feel it is necessary towards expressing your emotions)
Relevance to the story: (Give us a bit of a hint as to how you're going to tie yourself into the story later on. Maybe a little background or a little family history? It's completely up to you. No need to be specific. I'm not incredibly picky... just a tiny bit picky. Hahaha =)
Name: Shaylee Fae
Age: 18
Appearance: small framed and slender, 4'10. Radiant sapphire eyes and light blonde hair. Pale translucent luminous skin. Baby faced and child like in appearance.
Personality: innocent, sheltered, pure hearted, kind, but stubborn and strong willed.
Relevance: daughter of Rosalie Fae and William Sullivan. She is the current holder of the Philosopher's stone, although she doesn't know it yet.
Name: Aidan Flamel
Age: 22
Appearance: 6"2'. Well built. Short unkempt orange hair. Amber eyes. 5 o'clock shadow.
Personality: Aidan's heart is made of fire. Always burning with love, hate, anger. Whatever it may be. He's very hot tempered. He is a burning bundle of passion. It radiates within every action he takes and every word he speaks.
Relevance: Youngest son in the main branch of the Flamel family.
Name: Percival Winesap

Age: 23

Appearance: 5’9”. Thin, with a narrow face, high cheekbones, white-blonde hair that is always neatly combed. Has heterochromia, meaning one eye is green and one is brown. Wears thick glasses. Always dresses in nice suits.

Personality: Shy and bookish, well-read and well-educated. Has a bit of a crush on Shaylee, which he is embarrassed about.

Relevance to the story: Percival is the Fae family’s lawyer and distant cousin to Shaylee; the two are childhood friends. Still learning the ropes of his job, which involves not only dealing with human litigation and law but fairy and magical law as well...
~ 18 Years Ago

The Sullivan family mansion was bustling with servants and aristocrats. Sounds of hearty laughters and clinking of glasses echoed throughout the household. In the middle of the ball room laid the main attraction, a baby crib, habitat to a tiny newborn with light hair and shining blue eyes. She was a spectacle for the crowd. Dark faces surrounded her, peering in from atop the crib with their "Ooh's" and "Ahh's."

"The contract has been finalized," Mr. Flamel whispered to his wife. "Show our children the baby."
She nodded. "Come this way boys, lets meet the Fae baby," the mother ushered her three children towards the crib.
"Sullivan... Sullivan baby," Mr. Flamel corrected her quickly and quietly. His eyes darted about the room to make sure they had not been overheard.

The three Flamel boys stood along side the crib, peaking through the wooden bars.
"What do you think boys? Isn't she precious?" their mother cooed. "She'll be the bride to one of you when you're older... Ah, Mrs. Pennington! What a delight! I've got so much to tell you- Waiter fetch me another chardonnay please--" Mrs. Flamel disappeared into a swarm of people.

"It's so small," Aidan's amber eyes lit up with wonder.
"She's cute, like a doll," commented the middle Flamel boy.
"She's cute but I won't marry her. That's gross," said the oldest.
"She looks like a bunny in a cage," Aiden reached through the bars to touch Shaylee.
"Don't touch her," said a small voice. Aiden looked up through the bars to see another young boy standing on the opposite side of the crib. "Why not?" Aiden asked, his face pulling into a frown.
The blonde boy pushed at the oversized glasses that were sliding down the bridge of his nose. "Babies are more susceptible to illnesses, and the bacteria on your hands--"
"What??" 4 year old Aidan was confounded.
"He's saying you're going to make her sick," the oldest Flamel child explained.
"Oh... then I won't." Aidan's gaze met with the blonde boy's. "What's wrong with your eyes??"


12 years ago...

"Why do I have to come with you?" 10 year old Aidan grumbled, running his hand through his tousled bed hair in frustration.
Mr. Flamel glanced up at the rear view mirror to look at his youngest. A spitfire wild child with crazy hair to match.
"I'm taking you to the Professor's house for your alchemy lesson."
"Why didn't he come over for my lesson like always?"
"He already came by today for your brothers' lesson, but you were still asleep,"
"Then I'll take my lesson next time..."
"You're already behind on your studies. You cannot afford anymore procrastination. Your brothers-"
"I know!" Aidan interrupted he raised his voice without meaning to. "I know already. They're way ahead of me in their studies," he said in a softer tone. "Why are you driving? Where's Mr. Harris?"
"I have some private business I need to attend to first. Ah, here we are," he said as they pulled up to the Sullivan mansion.
"Dad..." Aidan protested. "I don't like meeting the geezers and cougars you do business with."
Mr. Flamel stifled his laugh.

Mr. Sullivan greeted them at the door. "Flamel, glad to have you."
"Mr. Sullivan," Flamel nodded his greeting and the two men shook hands. "This is my youngest, Aidan"
"Hello sir, thank you for having me," Aidan shook his hand and flashed the dazzling smile that he faked so well.
"Rosemary, tend to Aidan here. Mr. Flamel and I have some business to attend to."
The two men walked upstairs, leaving Aidan with a younger woman. Rosemary had long golden hair and emerald eyes.
She escorted Aidan to a spacious living room, where he sat on an arm chair next to a fire place.
"I'll be back with some tea for you," Rosemary said before leaving him.
Something moving from the corner of his eye caught his attention. Aidan turned towards the doorway to see a tiny toddler in a frilly pink dress. When their eyes met, she jolted and hid behind the corner.
He knew who she was. It were her eyes that had made such an impression on him, even when he was young. Bunny in a cage.

"Hey, come here," he called out.
She emerged shyly from the doorframe. He held out his hand and she waddled towards it.
She wrapped all ten of her tiny fingers around his hand and they presumed their awkward handshake.
"Well?" he demanded.
Shaylee looked up at him with blank confusion.
"Don't be rude! Introduce yourself to your house guest," he scolded.
"Ah," she squeaked. "My name is Shaylee Sullivan. I am six years old. I was born on-"
"Just the name is fine, I didn't ask for your life story... I'm Aidan Flamel. You don't get out much do you, Bunny?"
"Shaylee," she corrected him.
"Answer my question," he said impatiently.
"Rosemary said that Mr.Sullivan insists I stay inside," she stumbled over the words. Her speech was not yet well developed.
"You call your own parents by their names?" he asked, appalled.
She blinked up at him. "Rosemary's not my mom..."
"But Mr.Sullivan is your dad."
"Uh huh... but I only ever hear Rosemary call him Mr.Sullivan. So I do that also."
He laughed. "Well it would be weird if Rosemary called him dad. What does he call you?"
"Mmm..." she put two fingers in her mouth in thought. "Mr.Sullivan doesn't ever talk to me, but when he talks to Rosemary he calls me 'that child' or 'the girl' ".
There was a somber silence. "At least he's not calling you 'that boy', right?" he said jokingly in an attempt to lighten the mood.
It worked. Her face lit up with a smile and her eyes were twinkling like stars. At that moment his heart skipped a beat...

"So, Bunny, do you have anything fun to do around here?"
She gasped. "I have dolls! We can play house. Or have a tea party? Or play dress up? I can give you a make over!!" Shaylee grabbed his hands and pulled him towards her room with all of her tiny body weight. She was giddy with excitement and bursting with energetic glee.

-----------------

"Did you have fun, son?" Mr. Flamel asked from the driver seat.
Aidan put his hand over his heart.
Mr. Flamel smiled. "Had your heart already been enchanted by the fairy?"
"You're rambling nonsense again, dad."
Mr. Flamel chuckled deeply.
As their car pulled away from the Sullivan mansion. Aidan caught a glimpse of a white haired boy approaching the front door.

"Aidan, are you wearing lipstick???"

*BigSmile*



Today…

“Hello, Percy.” The sound of Shaylee’s voice was instantly followed by her face and lithe figure in the doorway. “Rosemary sent me to bring your lunch.” She strode into the room and laid a large square wrapped in foil on his desk.

“Ah.” Both hands filled with stacks of papers, Percival smiled faintly at the package but did not quite meet her eyes. He’d had a dream about her the night before. Something about a picnic, a carousel, all very innocent, but still… if he just so much as glanced up and saw her now, smiling as her gaze wandered out the window of his office, he felt he’d die of embarrassment.

It was strange, how they came and went, these feelings that confused him so...

Well, there was certainly no denying that Shaylee Sullivan had grown into a gorgeous young woman. Maybe she still looked a little... precocious, with her small frame, tiny hands and feet, large eyes. But somehow, these things only made her look even more fetching.

But even admitting this to himself felt awkward. After all, they were cousins (distant cousins, but cousins, nonetheless!) and he was five years her elder. In fact, he had babysat her many a time, when they were both small. Dutifully, he had played her tea parties and house games, had read many books to her. She’d always loved stories of the fairy folk, her kin, knights and princesses, whereas his preferred reading material—treatises on law, philosophy and biology, as well as existentialist Russian literature… well, not so much.

Shaylee was gazing around the room, examining the bookshelves, the many degrees hanging on the wall, the official congratulatory banner proclaiming Percival P. Winesap to be the youngest licensed attorney in 400 years to join the offices of Malory, Spenser & Fairport, LLP. Percival continued to rustle papers at his desk for a full minute, before asking, “How are your studies going?”

She smiled that oh-so-adorable smile, and shifted her weight from one foot to the next. “Mr. Sullivan gave me the day off. I’m just about to go have lunch with Aidan.”

Percival hoped the frown wasn’t showing on his face. He wasn’t quite sure what to think about the youngest Flamel boy just yet. Over the years, he’d always struck Percival as being a bit... well, a bit of a cad. A ruffian, almost. There'd always seemed to be a bit of tension between Percival and Aidan, though maybe that was imagined. Shaylee seemed quite taken with him... but, then, girls always did like bad boys. It had been the story of Percival's life.

Wait, is this jealousy? Am I jealous of Adian?

“And how, may I ask, is your work going?” chimed Shaylee, suddenly.

He was glad to change the subject. “Oh, God—it never ends! You have no idea; since I’m at the bottom of the pecking order, all the most mindless work goes to me! Fairy law is so complicated! There's spell patents, territory disputes, shapeshifting laws, tithe legalese—"

"Tithe? I've never heard that word before. What does that mean?"

Ah. He had to tread carefully here. He took a moment to choose his words: "Shaylee, you must know, of course, that every seven years, the Fairy Realm pays a tribute of seven souls to Hell..."

"Shaylee?" A familiar voice was coming from the hallway outside. Then Aidan's face appeared in the doorway. "Ah, there you are. Rosemary told me you'd be here."

"Hello, Aidan." As she went to him, he nodded to Percival, who nodded back.

"Aidan. Always good to see you."

Shaylee glanced between Percy and Aidan as they exchanged greetings. Percy was the most kind hearted person that Shaylee had ever met, yet there always seems to be a coldness about him whenever Aidan is around. She thought that maybe it was because they were so different that it was hard to make a connection.

"Percy, will you come by to visit me after you're done with work?" she looked up at him hopefully. "I mean if you're not busy with any prior engagements, of course," she added quickly. The notion of "tithe" was still swimming around in her head, stirring up dark thoughts and inquiries.

After a few quick goodbyes. Aidan and Shaylee headed towards the car where Harris was waiting for them. Harris was an older gentleman. Around Aidan's father's age. He was sturdy built and stoic in behavior. As long as Shaylee has know Harris, he's never been dressed in anything other than a black suit.

"Hi mister Harris."
"Good afternoon Ms.Fae. Please just call me Harris." He opened car door for her and extended his forearm so that she could hold onto it as she slid into the backseat.
Shaylee had no idea why everyone in the Flamel family calls her by her mother's maiden name, but it never concerned her enough to question them.

When they reached the restaurant, the hostess sat them at a remote booth near the back based on Aidan's request.

"I don't think Percy likes me very much," Aidan commented as he flipped through the menu.
Shaylee blinked up at him. Surprised. "Thats not true... I don't think he's capable of disliking anyone."
"It just seems awkward every time we talk though, doesn't it?"
"I think it's just because he's shy. You should make more of an effort to get to know him."
Percy and Aidan were Shaylee's best and only friends. She was never allowed outside the mansion when she was young, and they were the only kids who ever came to visit and play with her. She desperately wanted them to get along.

Shaylee's eyes lit up when she saw the dessert menu. She had always been a very picky eater, and didn't much like any food, but she loved her sweets dearly. "I'm having the molten lava cake with some milk. What are you having?"
He shook his head. "You need to eat real food first before you have dessert."
"That's why I'm going to order a real cake..."
"Why do we always have to have this argument? You won't ever grow if you keep eating like this."

The waiter came and went, and soon there was a molten lava cake for Shaylee and a burger for Aidan.

"There's something I wanted to talk to you about," he said as he finished the last bite of his burger. His voice was guarded.
"Hmm?" She looked up at him with a spoonful of chocolate still in her mouth.
"Your birthday is coming up soon."
She dabbed at her lips with a napkin. "Uh huh. I'll be 18 in three days."
"I've been hearing strange things around my house recently. Caretakers gossiping. It has something to do with your birthday, but I can never quite make out what they're saying. Did your dad say anything to you about your birthday?" He sounded a bit troubled.
Shaylee set her spoon down. "Mmm. No Mr.Sullivan doesn't concern himself with matters like my birthday."
"He's your dad. Call him dad."
"Okay. I doubt my dad even knows when my birthday is." The word felt strange coming out. It was a rusty one that had been gathering cobwebs in her vocabulary. Shaylee knows that Aidan has a good relationship with his dad, so it must be strange for him every time he hears her call Mr.Sullivan by name.
"Well if you hear anything about it then let me know."

When they arrived back at the Sullivan mansion. Aidan got out and escorted Shaylee to her front door. Rosemary greeted them there.
"Rosemary, make her eat a lot for dinner. She only had cake for lunch," Aidan said to Rosemary in a low voice.
"Tattle-tale," Shaylee muttered as she closed the door on him.
"Mr. Flamel has been waiting to speak with you," Harris said solemnly as they arrived at Aidan's home.

Aidan paced down the long corridor carpeted in red with dark walls. At the end of it was a set of dark wooden double doors. Mr. Flamel's study.

"Dad," he said breathlessly as he bustled into the room. "I heard you were waiting for me."
As Aidan gathered his breath, he was surprised to see his brothers were here too.
Mr. Flamel was seated at the head of the long oak table, and Aidan's brothers sat on either sides of him. Aidan took his seat next to Asher, his favorite brother.
"Aidan, where were you?" Mr. Flamel asked.
"With his girlfriend," Asher remarked lightheartedly, smirking at his little brother.
Arsen looked up at his two younger brothers, unamused.

Mr. Flamel is usually a jovial person, but today he wore a grim expression.
"I must tell you boys something of dire importance. I need you to take this very seriously. I have really been dreading this moment because I have no idea of how you all will react."
There was a grave silence in the room as Mr. Flamel paused to gather his thoughts.

"You have all heard of the lore surrounding our family correct? Nicholas Flamel, our ancestor, had a half fairy lover. Rosalie Fae. Although immortal, she had been lost throughout history. It had always been our family's purpose to locate a descendant of the Fae family... in order to marry her into our family so that our ancestor's life long dream and dying wish could come true," he stopped to look at the reaction of his sons. Nothing too dramatic yet... "Well, what I'm trying to say is that in 3 days, when Shaylee Sullivan, or Shaylee Fae, turns 18, she will be married to one of you."

...
...

"What??" Aidan was bewildered. "Dad, what kind of crazy stupid fairy folklore magical bullshit are you talking about now?"

"One of us? Which one? How does she feel about this?" Asher asked, a bit panicked.

"Seriously, what kind of world do you think we live in? It's insane enough that we always have to study stupid Theory of Alchemy for no fucking reason. It's all fake. Nobody have actually been able to perform alchemy in ages!" Aidan's heart was pounding and his ears were ringing. He could feel the blood rushing around in his head, raising the temperature of his skin.

Mr. Flamel's eyes flashed dangerously. "Alchemy is not fake. Don't speak so hastily of matters you know nothing about."

"It doesn't matter. Whatever crazy shit this family believes should STAY in this family! Why are you dragging an innocent girl into all this madness?? Isn't it bad enough that you raised us in the midst of all this?" Aidan stopped abruptly, instantly regretting his remark about how their father had raised them.

Mr. Flamel grimaced at the comment, but did not dwell on it. "She was destined to be a part of this from the moment she was born. It was Mr. Sullivan's idea to form the contract," Mr. Flamel's tone was darker now.

"Contract? What contract?"

"In exchange for her hand in marriage, Mr. Sullivan would have access to the Flamel family's entire archive of alchemy."

Aidan closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. "He exchanged a human being, his own daughter, for information???"
His eyes were ablaze when he opened them, "And you... you agreed?"

"How would an agreement like this even hold in court?" Asher asked.

"Exactly. That sort of contract is completely tabooed," Aidan chimed in.

Arsen scoffed. "As if there's any system that money couldn't corrupt... Between our family and theirs, we basically own the entire city."

"Who would she be married to?" Aidan asked suddenly.

"Well," Mr. Flamel started slowly and carefully, he avoided Aidan's eyes. "It would only be natural for her to marry the oldest and the most knowledgable when it comes to alchemy."

"Dad! You already have a wife!! Her name is Mom!" Aidan roared.

Mr. Flamel face palmed himself, and Asher hit his head on the table. "Idiot!"

"He meant me," Arsen said coldly. "She would be married to me..."

Aidan and Arsen glared at each other. Burning amber eyes to icy grey eyes. Fire and ice.


Shaylee had asked him to swing by the Sullivan house when he got off work, but that evening, like every other evening, saw Percy working late. Still, the thought that he would see her soon kept him going through the long hours, right up until the minute he stapled his last stack of papers and dropped it, with a sigh of relief, into the outgoing bin.

He was just about to get up and grab his coat when the phone on his desk ran. With a barely perceptible groan, he answered it.

The predictable, perky voice of Natalia, the receptionist, filled the receiver: “Sorry to disturb you, Percy, but your 10:00 appointment is here.”

“What? Natalia, I don’t have a 10:00 appointment. What are you even still doing here? It’s late and I want to go home; you should, too!”

“Sorry, Percy, he’s already on his way up. I couldn’t stop him. He said it was urgent.”

Percy groaned again and covered his face with his hands. All right, no problem. He’d simply see what the man wanted, gently—but firmly—escort him out, and head home.

“Mr. Winesap?”

The voice was deep and gravely, like glass rattling around in a cement mixer. Percy looked up. The man standing in front of him wore a silvery-grey suit, with a garish orange tie the shade of a clown’s hair, and a grey fedora. His face was barely visible in the shadows of the darkened room. Had it suddenly gotten even darker?

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Mr. Winesap—can I call you Percy? It’s a pleasure to meet you at last.”

“Uh—thanks. And you are?”

“My name is Robert Grey, but you can call me Bob. I represent the law offices of Cypher and Gray, LLP. I understand you’re about to pay a call to
Ms. Shaylee Sullivan? I understand she’s an enchanting young lady.”

Percival frowned. “I’m sorry, Mr. Grey, but what’s this all about? And how did you know—“

Mr. Grey flashed him a sudden razor-sharp grin, white teeth gleaming through the shadows. “Don’t worry, Mr. Winesap, I won’t keep you too long. There’s just something urgent we need to discuss…”

One hour later, Percy was knocking halfheartedly on the door to the Sullivan mansion. After a moment, Rosemary answered.

“Oh! Hello, Percy.” She trailed off, staring into his eyes. For the first time Percy realized that he probably looked about as bad as he felt. He tried to put a brave face on and smile, at least for Rosemary’s sake.

“Hello, Rosemary. It’s certainly been a while. Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

She led him into the hallway, still looking apprehensive. Percy tried again to lighten her mood:

“By the way, thank you for lunch today. Spinach pie was exactly what I was in the mood for. How do you always know?”

No answer. When Rosemary looked back at him, her face was now clouded over with concern. It was as if just seeing his face had been enough to confirm her worst fears. Could she have already known? Shaylee had once confided to Percy, when they had both been much younger, that she was sure the older woman must have some sort of psychic power that enabled her to tell what you were thinking. Of course, she had been referring more to the fact that Rosemary always knew when Shaylee had done something wrong, but still…

Shaylee and Mr. Sullivan were waiting in the enormous dining room, each of them sitting at an opposite end of the table. Shaylee threw her arms up as he stepped into the room. “You’re here! I’d almost thought you had forgotten us!”

“Us?” Percy was confused. “Um, hello, Mr. Sullivan. I didn’t expect to see you here. Were you… were you both waiting for me?”

“Indeed we were,” said the older man. “We couldn’t start the evening meal without you.” Percy looked to Shaylee for clarification; she just shrugged. Mr. Sullivan never bothered to spend time with the two of them.

“Now, why don’t you come join us here at the table?” continued Mr. Sullivan. “Rosemary! You can bring the soup now.”

Eyes downcast, Rosemary turned on her heel and strode out of the room.

“Now, what’s wrong with her?” Mr. Sullivan wondered aloud. “She was in fine spirits just a moment ago.”

Percy swallowed. The air in the room suddenly seemed thicker. I should tell them both. Do it now, get it over with. His gaze wandered over to
Shaylee. She sat, radiant as ever, smiled at him, then pulled out the chair next to her with one hand, and motioned for him to sit down. God, she was so beautiful.

He couldn’t tell her. There was just no way. Not now.

Rosemary was an excellent cook, and the dinner was delicious. Percy had no appetite, and ended up mostly pushing his food around on the plate. Mr. Sullivan didn’t notice. Shaylee may have been about to say something at one point, but, perhaps cowed into nervousness by the presence of her father, finally said nothing and instead merely stroked the back of his hand in a silent, affectionate gesture. It was a small thing, but it was worth the world.

After everything had been cleared away, Mr. Sullivan moved to a lounge chair and poured two generous portions of scotch into a pair of crystal tumblers. Then he light a cigar and began puffing luxuriantly on it. After some minutes passed in silence, he said: “Shaylee, you may go.”

There was a sad look in Shaylee’s eyes. Percy imagined it was the kind of look that said, without saying: I knew it was too good to be true. Without a word she kissed Percy’s cheek and walked out of the room.

Rosemary now brought a large manila folder into the room, and placed it squarely in Mr. Sullivan’s hand. He waited until she, too, had left, then said something.

Percy didn’t catch it, whatever it was. He was still feeling Shaylee’s kiss on his cheek.

“Percy, are you listening?”

He shook his head. “I’m sorry?”

“I said, how is your work progressing?" He motioned for Percy to come sit next to him, and handed him one of the glasses of scotch. Percy took a sip, and tried to suppress the cringe.

"Uh, work is fine." Percy said. He swallowed again. "There's something we need to talk about, though."

"Oh?" Mr. Sullivan didn't seem particularly curious. "Well, fine, but first, there's something I must discuss with you." He took a long swallow of his own drink and sat back. "Percy, you may not know it, but ever since you were a young child, the family has been grooming you for a very specific purpose. I'm happy to report that the time has come at last for you to serve your greatest function. If you’d be so kind, I’d like you to take a look at this document, sign it and ratify it.”

Apprehensively, Percy took the folder and opened it. There was a single page inside; Percy recognized the look of a contract right away. As he began to decipher the legal jargon, repeating aloud the key terms, he felt a growing sense of unease. “Business arrangement… knowledge commodity… Flamel party…”

The last one stopped him dead. He looked up, mismatched eyes blazing. “Arranged marriage?!?! You’re going to marry Shaylee off as part of a business agreement?”

Mr. Sullivan eyed him sternly. “This is not open to debate! I have an ironclad agreement with the Flamel family. We agreed to this decades ago, Mr. Flamel and I. All that remains to be done is have a lawyer ratify the contract and make it legally binding.”

Percival made a loud sound of disgust. Aidan Flamel’s face flashed in front of his eyes, pouting sullenly. For just a second, Percy wanted to take a swing at it. “She’s your daughter! How could you even think of forcing her into this? Does she even know about it yet?”

There was no way this could have been Shaylee’s idea; she’d remarked to Percy once or twice that she couldn’t even think about getting married yet. Percy had always found that to be a relief…

Mr. Sullivan was getting angry now as well. “Regardless of what she may or may not think she wants, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement for our two families. Even you, Percy, will be handsomely compensated in exchange for your part in the matter; however, if you are unwilling to ratify the contract, we can always find another lawyer who will. You’d do well to remember that.”

Percy opened his mouth to protest… then realized something else, and closed it. “You know what? This is irrelevant, and here’s why.” Now he reached into his coat pocket, and drew out his own papers.

“Today a man came into my office from Cypher and Grey, LLP. Maybe you’ve heard of them?”

Despite the circumstances, despite everything, Percy felt a tinge of joy at seeing the old man’s sudden look of horror. “Cypher and Grey?”

“That’s right… the law offices of the Inferno! The time has come for the Fairy Court to pay its tithe of seven fae souls… and they drew Shaylee’s name. Unless we can come up with a loophole of some sort, or find someone to take her place, your daughter is literally going to Hell!”
Sound travels well across the wooden floors of the living room. Shaylee had her ear pressed against the air vent on the floor of her bedroom. It's adjacent vent lead to a spot on the ceiling of the living room where her father and Percy sat. The words that were carried through the vents brought daggers with them into her heart.

She pulled herself upright on the floor and closed the vents. She scooted away from it only to collapse again in a sobbing heaping mess. She clasped her hands tightly over her ears. She had to protect herself. If she had heard anymore of their conversation she was afraid her heart would explode. Pain crashed in vicious waves within her, tormenting every inch of her wretched soul. Her heart palpitated to the rhythm of her anguish. She wrapped her arms around her trembling body in an attempt to hold herself together, but it was a fruitless attempt. Her entire world was crumbling into nothingness.

For the first time in her life, she felt hate for someone. Her own father... the man who neglected her and refused to show her any affection throughout her entire life. She had always told herself that maybe his love for her was buried so deep within his heart that it was hard for it to ever show. But in this moment she finally accepted the reality that his love for her was nonexistent. He never could seem to stand the mere sight of her. He hated her... He had always hated her. And now, she hated him too.

With her shaking arms she pushed herself up from the floor. She dragged an empty suitcase from her closet and began to mindlessly pack clothes into it. She did not know what she was going to do or where she was going to go. All she knew was that she had to get herself away from here. If she was going to die soon, she was going to die a free person. Her own person. She was going to die as Shaylee Fae. Not Shaylee Sullivan and not as Shaylee Flamel. She felt numb. She felt unstable. She was going to lose her mind at any moment if she didn't get away from here. Her heart stopped when she heard a knock on the door.

Her hand trembled as she held onto the door knob. Maybe she shouldn't open it... Maybe someone was already here to take her, either to her forced marriage or to her death. Maybe it was her father. There was a tiny flicker of hope in her heart. Maybe he was there to tell her everything was going to be okay. That the contract was a fake. That he was going to protect her and save her. She instantly regretted her hopeful thinking, as it only brought more pain to her heart. You fool. He hates you. When will you get that through your head?

"Shaylee?" a small voice whispered.
She opened the door to a tearful Rosemary. She rushed into the room and turned on the lights. "You heard them right?"
Shaylee nodded. Tears streamed down her face again as Rosemary held onto her tightly. Squeezing her with all her might.

"Here," Rosemary said hurriedly as she handed Shaylee a large duffel bag filled with something heavy. The bag hit the ground in a dull thud as it was passed to Shaylee's weak arms. "This is my life's savings. Take it with you. Here take this too. This is a map of the city, I've put red X's on the dangerous areas that you shouldn't go to. I also got you a prepaid phone. My number is already in here. Pay for everything in cash and don't use your real name."
Shaylee gasped. "Rosemary, no I can't take this from you." She tried to hand back the duffel bag.

"You silly girl there's no time for this. You've got to go!" Rosemary grabbed the suitcase and rushed Shaylee out the door and down the stairs. They moved as quickly and quietly through the house as they could. All the lights were off, and there were no sign of anyone awake in the house. She must have been crying for a lot longer than she had thought.

Once they slipped passed the front door, the outside air filled her lungs with sweet relief. She didn't realize that she had been holding her breath this whole time. Her and Rosemary sprinted down the driveway where a black car pulled up with its headlights off.
Aidan rushed out from the driver's side to toss her luggage into the back seat. Then he moved to the passenger side to hold the door open for her. Shaylee was relieved to see him.

"One second, Aidan," Rosemary said suddenly. "Shaylee. I've never told you this, but your mom and I were the best of friends. I've loved you and raised you as my own daughter. I will do everything it takes to protect you. I've hidden this for a very long time, but it had always belonged to you. It's from your mother. Protect it and it will protect you." She handed Shaylee a small red pouch made out of silk, she could feel something hard inside of it.

"Take care of her for me," Rosemary's voice cracked as her eyes filled with tears.
"I will," Aidan said solemnly as he ushered Shaylee into the passenger seat.

The night was grim and black as they drove down the lonely and hopeless road to the unknown.
Aidan opened his eyes to a dimly lit room. He was on a bed with Shaylee's head nestled at his chest. He could feel the warmth of her body, pressed up closely against him. Her breathing was gentle, peaceful. The sound soothed him. He put a hand on her head and stroked her silky hair, then traced his fingers towards her cheeks, caressing her delicate supple skin. She smelled so sweet. Her scent was intoxicating... mesmerizing.

Then the lights flickered and the room was filled with a deep sinister laugh that chilled Aidan to the bone. When the lights returned, Shaylee was gone. He fumbled desperately around the bed and stumbled onto the floor. The carpet burned his skin in a scorching, acidic way that made him yelp. Yet no sound came out. Then the floor gave way and he plunged downwards into the depths of eternal darkness. His arms were flailing aimlessly for something to grab a hold of.

His stomach began to constrict with the feeling of air being squeezed from his lungs. Squeezing his entire being tighter and tighter until the last bit of breath in his body had escaped. His vision was slowly slipping, becoming one with the black that surrounded him.

And just as he grasped hopelessly to keep the last sliver of his consciousness, he heard the most horrific blood curdling scream.

It was Shaylee.

Aidan's whole body jolted up sharply as he was abruptly woken from his nightmare. His body felt as if he had been struck by lightning. His breathing labored.

What happened??

He was in the car. Shaylee was next to him in the passenger seat, tossing and turning in her sleep.
The scream that he heard...did it come from her? Or was it only in his- "NOOO!!" Shaylee shrieked.

"Shaylee, wake up! Get up," he wrapped his arms around her, gently shaking her awake. "It's okay. Shhh... it's okay."

Her skin was so hot. Maybe she's running a fever. He put his forehead up against her's to measure her temperature as she slowly awoke from her restless dream.

"You were having a nightmare," he said softly, pushing the hair out of her face. "I had one too."

"Where are we?" she still seemed somewhat disoriented.

The car was parked on a small dirt road that veered off from a rural highway. The sun was starting to rise from some far off corner of the world, casting a light blue hue in the dark skies that slept above them now.

"I was starting to doze off. It was dangerous for me to keep driving so I pulled over for some rest," Aidan explained.

"Where are we going? I thought I was still going to stay within the city. Rosemary only gave me a map of the city. So I would get lost if we stay anywhere else..."

"I don't think you should be in the city right now. Our families have eyes everywhere inside the city... but the map will come in handy if you ever need to find your way back by yourself. I would never let you go off anywhere by yourself though. It's only a worst case scenario," he shifted the car into gear. "Let's keep going."

They spent another two hours in the car. The journey was a grim and silent one, filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Aidan glanced at Shaylee a couple of times, trying to find a good opportunity for conversation. Anything would be better than nothing... anything he could say to cheer her up. But he knew that she was unconsolable. She needed this time to think and to absorb and try to understand everything that's happening in her life. He was never good at words... anything he said would only make it worse. She cried silently at times with her head turned away from him, stifling her own sobs. He could not do anything... It was his own family's fault that she was in this predicament. The guilt weighed down his stomach like a boulder. He felt too ashamed to even catch her eye..... and then there was sinister ordeal of tithe. When Rosemary phoned to informed him of Percy's and Mr. Sullivan's conversation, Aidan nearly collapsed from the magnitude of his terror.

How could he even begin to comfort her when he hadn't the slightest hint of what she might be going through?

Chosen as a sacrifice for Hell. He could barely wrap his head around the idea of any of this.

He decided to spend the drive to give her time to collect herself, and also to compose his thoughts for the conversation they will have when they arrive at a safe destination.

Aidan pulled the car in at a nondescript motel with only a few floor units and a barely visible name sign. The outside was shabby, but the inside was habitable. The bed and bathroom was in good shape, and it only slightly smelled of lemony generic detergent.

"I'm sorry..." He rubbed at his hair, setting her bags on the queen bed. "This is only temporary. I promise the next place that I take you will be a lot nicer. I just need to access the situation first and see how desperately they are to find you before I can chance letting you stay somewhere populated."

She rubbed her eye. "This is so much more than anything I could ask for. Thank you for helping me," she hiccuped from all the crying she's been doing.

"Shaylee, about the marriage..."

"I know it had nothing to do with you. You didn't make the arrangements," she said sympathetically.

Aidan let out a small breath of relief.

"I would never let anyone force you into anything you don't want to do. Not even my own family, and I especially won't let you marry Arsen."

"I'm promised to Arsen? I thought that if it was anyone it would be you."

"No," he muttered bitterly. "But more importantly, I won't let anyone harm one hair on your head, let alone drag you to- to--" he was too angry to form words.

"Hell?" she asked softly, the thought filled her voice with fear.

He pulled her into an intense embrace, wishing he could absorb all of the horrid feelings from inside of her. Then he scooped her up into his arms and laid her down in the middle of the bed. He planted a kiss on her hair before tucking her into the blankets.

"We have a lot more to talk about, but right now I have to go before they track me right to you."

She blinked up at him, a bit panicked. "You're leaving? When are you coming back?"

'When I know I'm not being followed. I paid the owner at the front desk to cater to your needs. She should be by in the afternoon or so to bring you some lunch," he said as he headed for the door.

"Aidan, wait. Please bring Percy when you come. I really need to speak with him."

"Fine, I'll see what I can do," he said, turning his head back to roll his eyes at her. Then something red caught his attention. "What's that in your hand?"

Shaylee looked down at her clenched fingers, remembering for the first time that she was holding something important.

"Oh, this..." she tugged gently at the top of the pouch, loosening the draw string. "Rosemary said that my mom left this for me." She pulled out from the bag a white gold necklace with a peculiar looking pendant on it. The stone of the pendant was made of a blood red crystal like ore with rough edges.

Shaylee gasped. "It's so beautiful..." she clasped the necklace around her neck. When the stone touched her skin, Aidan thought that he saw it glow, but the moment was so fleeting that he could not comprehend what he saw exactly.

"Please get some sleep, okay?" he said as he was departing. "Good night, Bunny."

Throughout his seemingly endless drive home, a thought lingered persistently in Aiden's mind: Could that be... the Philosopher's Stone?



At least Percy had gotten the satisfaction having the final word in the argument. Once the mention of Hell had escaped from his lips, Mr. Sullivan had gone pale and deathly quiet. He’d downed another Scotch, and tried to guide the cigar back to his mouth between now-trembling fingers. Then he got up and stood at window, looking out. Percy was just beginning to wonder now if maybe the older man was actually capable, after all, of feeling any concern for his daughter, when Mr. Sullivan spoke up again:

“It’s not fair. I’ve spent decades negotiating this contact, waiting for my investment to pay off. There must be something we can do.”

Percival sighed. He was touched with shame and revulsion to have to call this man his kin.

They sat for a long time in silence, both men lost in thought. Mr. Sullivan continued to stare out the window, drinking now directly from the bottle. He no longer seemed to be cognizant of Percival’s presence. For his own part, Percy stared vacantly at the papers in his lap, the marriage contract and the tithe order. He began reading and re-reading both, over and over again, searching for loopholes.

Finally he got up. “I will do everything I can to keep your daughter out of Hell. But there’s no way I’ll ever ratify this contract. I’m going now to talk to your daughter. She deserves to know about all this. Then I’m leaving.”

His resolve thus hardened, he began a rapid descent up the stairs to the second floor, leaping over two at a time until he reached the top. The lights were off all around the house now. It must have been later than Percy had thought. Upon arriving at her door, he rapped on the wood, first timidly, then loudly. “Shaylee? Are you there?”

No answer. He swallowed hard. There was nothing for it but to go through with this. “Shaylee, I’m sorry to wake you but I must come in.” He opened the door—

—And stopped dead. The light was on. The closet was open and empty. He could guess exactly what happened.

“Mr. Sullivan, come quick!”

Through the vent on the floor, he clearly heard the tinkle of shattered glass as Sullivan dropped the whiskey bottle in the living room, and the sound of rushing footsteps. Of course, that was how she must have heard their entire discussion.

In a flash, Sullivan was beside him. His hair was now wild and his face sweaty. His eyes bulged as he took in the apartment. “Wh—Shaylee? Where’d she go?”

Percy wheeled on him, dripping sudden vehemence. “She heard everything through the vents, you idiot. She and I used to use those vents to eavesdrop on you and your adult friends from upstairs. I can’t believe I forgot about that. Now she’s gone—and it’s your fault!“ But even as he spoke, he knew he couldn’t place the blame entirely on Sullivan’s shoulders. News of the tithe was probably what pushed her over the edge. Could he have prevented this, somehow? And where had she gone?

“My God!” Sullivan had turned and was wandering about dazedly through the corridor. “My daughter—gone, my contract! The police! We must call them!”

Quickly, Percival ran after him. Hanging on the wall in the hallway was a ceremonial golden mace. Percy snatched it up. He caught up with Sullivan midway on the stairs and brought the mace down as hard as he dared on the back of his neck and lower head.

It wasn’t much of a blow—Percy wasn’t much of a brawler, and he was trying to refrain from killing the man—but, blessedly, it did the job. Mr. Sullivan shrieked, pitched forward and collapsed at the foot of the stairs, very clearly still breathing.

Percy threw the mace down. “Sorry,” he said to the comatose man. “I had to.” The police would have probably been the worst possible thing for Shaylee now; whether they brought her back here, or threw her in a holding cell overnight, the forces of Hell would have no trouble getting to her in either place.

Plus, it had felt kind of good, there was no denying that.

The sound had brought Rosemary running. “What happened?”

Percy looked her square in the eye. “Listen to me, Rosemary, I had to do it. Shaylee’s in danger of eternal damnation, and—“

She cut him off. “I know.”

“You know? Ah. Of course you do.” Shaylee had been able to hear everything from her upstairs room, why would he have thought Rosemary might be any different?

“Shaylee’s gone,” continued Rosemary. “I sent her off with Aiden.”

Aiden. Of course. Percy’s teeth gritted. Would she have even stopped to say goodbye, if she could have? It wasn’t a fair question, he knew. But, still—

His head hurt, he was aware of that now. The combination of adrenaline and liquor, it was throbbing.

Almost as much as his heart.

“You should go.” Rosemary told him. “I know you want to save Shaylee. Look over those documents. Find any loophole you can that will let us save her. I’ll tell Mr. Sullivan, when he wakes up, that he got drunk and fell down the stairs on his own. I’ll keep him from phoning the police.”

Percy nodded. In a blink, he’d gathered his coat and things. Rosemary saw him to the door. Before leaving, he turned to her.

“Did she at least have a message for me?”

Rosemary said nothing, and so he knew exactly what the answer was. Without another word, he turned and walked out into the night.

He spent the rest of the night poring over the documents, flipping through law books, both fairie and human, trying to establish some form of legal precedent, find some loophole. Not a bit of it worked. The documents were ironclad.

They would have to find someone to take Shaylee’s place. That was the only legal way.

Percy looked at the desk, at his hands. There was a drop of fairy blood in his own veins, the same blood that linked him to the Sullivans. They’d accept him as a sacrifice, no doubt about that.

Would she do the same for you, though? Would she even mourn you? Or would she just go off with Aiden and forget you ever existed?

…I love her, dammit.


He sighed and pushed the documents away. His eyes hurt.

But there was no time to rest them now. He had whiled away not only the whole night, but also half the day. The clock on the wall of his modest studio apartment said it was almost noon now, and he was very late for work. Maybe a change of scenery would bring on a fresh perspective.

Hurriedly, he freshened up, put on new clothes and stumbled out into the light of midday. It hurt his eyes even more, but he could do nothing but grin and bear it. At the corner, as he waited for the light to change, it suddenly occurred to him how nice a cup of coffee would be, and maybe a—

DARKNESS! SUDDEN! CAN’T! SEE! WHAT! IN!

That was all that his brain was capable of thinking as a black cloth hood suddenly descended over his eyes, swallowing up the brightness of day and asphalt streets, while he suddenly felt himself seized and jostled by rough hands. Before he could take another step forwards, he was yanked backwards and felt himself being pushed inside the cool metal-and-leather interior of a car.
A second later, the screech of wheels and the pitching of his own stomach told him they were driving. FAST.

He tried to scream for help, but the cloth was filling his mouth.

“Well, Mr. Winesap, you’ve been a very busy bee, haven’t you? Did you ever pass on my regards to the lovely Ms. Sullivan, like I asked you to?

Percy’s mouth went dry. He recognized that gravel-in-a-blender snarl instantly. Mr. Grey.

“Don’t hurt him! You can take the hood off now!”

Percy gasped. He recognized that voice, too.

The hood was yanked roughly up and off his face. Sputtering, as a man does when he’s been dunked underwater, Percy jerked his head around to stare at the last speaker:

“Flamel?”
It was half past noon when Shaylee was startled by a knock on the motel's door. She bustled out of bed in confusion and hid skittishly at her bed side, crouching in front of the nightstand. She flinched as another series of knocks rang throughout the room.

What am I doing? Be brave... This is pathetic.

Her brain was still jumbled up with fear, anxiety, and confusion from all of the events from last night. But this was no excuse to act so cowardly. She clenched up her fists and stood up right. Then she marched towards the door and swung it open, quickly enough so that fear wouldn't have the time to change her mind.

"Well, hi ya little missy."

Shaylee looked up timidly at the middle aged woman with big, tangled, yellow hair and a pointed nose. She wore a flannel shirt underneath her overalls. She was oddly charming with her big cowboy boots, shiny crooked smile, and a southern twang to her speech.

"Hello, my name is Shaylee," she reached out to shake the lady's hand. It was an automatic response now for her to first introduce her name when she meets strangers. Aidan had scolded her many times as a kid for being too shy to properly greet others.

"I'm Annabelle. Ya can call me Belle or Anna, Or Ann, or whatever floats your boat. Got some food here for ya. On request of your beau," Anna laughed heartily as she entered the room and dropped some plastic bags onto a small coffee table.

"Handsome lad you got for yourself, ain't he? Does that boy have any older brothers? Don't hold out on me now," Anna chuckled again. She began to boil some water in the coffee maker as she pulled open the paper lid of an instant ramen cup.

Shaylee couldn't help but to giggle a bit at Anna's out spoken personality, and direct humor.

"There ya go, gourmet instant cup ramen from the gas station down the highway. Took me a hell of a walk to get down there so you better eat up. Get some meat on them bones," Anna said as she handed Shaylee the cup of ramen. "Now, I'll bet ya'll fancy folk never even knew that you could make ramen with a coffee maker did you?"

Shaylee looked down curiously at the steaming styrofoam cup of noodles in her hands. "Actually I've never seen anything like this before." Her stomach was rumbling, and the smell was so enticing. She brought a fork full of the noodles to her lips, and with her first taste, her eyes lit up with satisfaction.

"Mmm, good, aint it?" Anna asked, but she already knew the answer.

Shaylee smiled up at her with gratitude as she nodded and pointed at the cup of noodles with her fork. "This is excellent..."
She finished the entire cup much sooner than she would have liked. "You're a great cook, Anna," Shaylee remarked as she wiped her mouth with a rough brown napkin that was also picked up at the gas station.

The comment brought a howling laughter out of Anna. "Where you been livin? Under a rock somewhere? How come you never had instant ramen? Hmm?" Anna seemed amused as her eyes scanned Shaylee up and down, sizing her up.

Although it was a harmless comment, it sparked sadness within Shaylee to think of where she's been. With Rosemary and her father. Waiting in a cold and loveless home for... for what? All her dreams and hopes, and days of lingering, and wasting her life away. Her life will soon end before it ever got the chance to begin. She will never know the freedom of driving a car. She will never get to go through the nerves of having her first job interview, and the joy or sadness of being accepted or rejected... And what about love? She's never even had a boyfriend. She will never get to have her first kiss. Her heart jerked painfully. She'll never be married, and will never get to hold a beautiful baby in her arms. The love that she never got from her own parents, she will never get to make that up by loving her own child eternality more.

"Um...Are you okay? I didn't mean nothing by it. I got a big mouth, see? I was just poking fun at ya that's it," Anna said, concerned at the look at Shaylee's face. "Well, anyhow, I gotta be going soon, but first, open your mouth."

Shaylee was shocked out of her moping. "Excuse me?" She was perplexed.

"Here put this thermometer in your mouth. Your boyfriend told me I needed to take your temperature. He suppose you got a cold or somethin. Here," she handed Shaylee the thermometer. "Overprotective one, huh? You know he done bought out all my rooms to make sure no creep's gonna be around ya."

Anna took the thermometer out of Shaylee's mouth as it beeped. "101, uh oh. We got a problem. You need a doctor," Anna got up and began to pace, her humor momentarily gone, and for the first time since they met, she wore a frown.

"Don't worry, I feel fine," Shaylee tried to reassured her. But she knew she was being dishonest. Her skin felt too heated, her body was aching, her throat was sore, and she had a splitting headache. But she hadn't noticed any of this until now. Her emotional suffering spared no part of her brain to feel any physical discomfort, such as a silly cold.

"Get some rest for now. Your boyfriend told me to keep you in this room, but when he gets here, I'm gonna tell him that you gotta see a doctor, okay? Bye now, love."





"Flamel?" Percival was flabbergasted, glancing between Arsen and Grey.

"Thank you for joining us, Percy. You're a hard man to get a hold of. My little brother has been looking for you all morning," Arsen's lips pressed into a dark smile. "I'm afraid he will just have to wait. We have business to discuss Percival." Arsen pulled out a neatly stacked document. Percy knew the document well, he had spent all night familiarizing himself with it.

"Needless to say, this is the contract between the Sullivan family and my own. I will need you to sign this for me," Arsen said politely, but there was menace hidden deep within his tone.

This is a threat. This is the part where they're going to force me to sign against my will. Percival balled his hands into fists.

"If you've taken to such extremes to speak with me, then I presume you already know my original answer," Percy said steadily. "There's nothing you can do to me that will make me sign that contract."

Arsen laughed humorlessly. "Oh, no no... Oh, old friend, don't mistaken our good intentions for malice. We're all on the same page here. Aren't we Grey? You see Percy, none of us wants Shaylee to go to Hell, and with your full cooperation, she wouldn't have to."

"How do you mean? Get to the point. What do you want?" Percy said crossly. His head was pulsing, and his heart was pounding.

"I know how to save Shaylee... and with Mr. Grey here being our inside man from the offices of the Inferno, he'll have no problem swaying the Fairy Court."

"How could you save her?" Percy asked intently.

"I'm a very gifted alchemist, Percival. Better than anyone else in my family. Have you ever heard of blood transmutation?"

Percy gasped suddenly. A chill ran down his spine, raising every hair on his body. It took him a moment to steady his heart and calm his breathing so that he could speak. "Nobody has been able to perform real alchemy in ages, let alone something that dark and complex in nature..."

Arsen chuckled smugly. "Well I'm not 'nobody'. A simple blood transfusion will not do, since her human blood is mixed with her magical blood... but with my blood transmutation, I can target and extract only her fairy blood... all of it. Down to the last drop..." Arsen paused to look at the expression of dismay on Percy's face. "The Fairy Court could not possibly sacrifice Shaylee as a fairy soul, when she has nothing but human blood flowing through her, can they Grey?"

"Not according to the law, they cannot," Grey flashed a sinister smile.

"See? It's a fool proof plan. Of course we'll continue to iron out the kinks and perfect the details of it, but only after you ratify the contract..." Arsen eyed Percy up and down.

"Here," Arsen said, handing Percy the stack of papers. "Take this contract and think it over... properly this time. Don't be so naive and stubborn. There are no right and wrong here. There are only two options. You can sign, and save her life, or not sign and watch her die."

Percy's hands were trembling with rage as he gripped the papers. "Why does the Flamel family want her so badly anyway?"

Arsen eyes flashed devilishly, the tone of his voice was chilling when he answered, "Oh, this has nothing to do with my family. I want her for my own personal reason..."

"Time to go. Kick him out," Grey chimed in as he saw another black car pull up in front of Percy's apartment building. Percy had no idea that they had already circled back to his home. He thought that they were going to take him somewhere far off to imprison and torture him.

Arsen opened the van's door and shoved Percy out. "Go to the black car. That's my brother. He's been looking for you."

Percy stumbled onto the sidewalk, momentarily disoriented by the sunlight.

"And Percy, my friend. The next time we meet. You will have a decision for me."

The door of the van slammed shut, and the tires spun wildly, leaving skid marks in their path as they sped away.

This day has been an endless stream of nightmares.
The second black car, as it turned out, belonged to Aidan. That should have been a good thing, but Percy was so fed up by that point with Flamels and Sullivans and Greys and the whole godforsaken lot of them that he almost walked right over and socked him in the face right then and there, in broad daylight in front of his building.

“Percy? Is that you?” Aidan was already halfway to the front door of Percy’s building. “Who the hell was that?”

Percy tried to speak, but the sheer enormity of… everything racing through his head made it impossible for words to form. Instead of hitting the other man, he marched over and mutely grabbed his shoulders. Finally, he was able to say something. “Start the car.

On the drive out of the city, Percy told him everything. Then they rode for about twenty minutes in tense silence.

Aidan broke it. “We need to do what’s best for Shaylee.”

No matter how what we may each think of one another. That second part was unspoken, but Percy heard it loud and clear nonetheless. “I agree.”

“We focus on saving her from Hell. Nothing else matters.”

“I agree.”

“The whole marriage business isn’t important right now.”

“I said I agree!”

“Okay,” Aiden turned back to the windshield.

Minutes passed.

“Arsen… I can’t believe it,” Aidan murmured, in a low voice, to himself. Then, this time louder, to Percy: “Do you… do you think his way will save her?”

Percy nodded. “Technically, yes.”

“Only technically?”

Percy paused, trying to find the right words. “It would take something out of her… something unquantifiable. She wouldn’t be herself anymore. All the great scholars—Hermes Trismegistus, Isaac Newton, even Aristotle—they all warned of the dangers of blood transmutation. It alters a person fundamentally.” He had done a fair amount of research on the subject over the years.

“Then what can we do?”

I can offer myself in her place, said Percy, but he didn’t say that out loud.

“So what now?” Percy said at last. “Are you going to bring me to Shaylee, like she asked?”

“It’s risky. Someone might still be following us.” His cellphone, sitting in the cupholder between them, began to ring loudly.

“Do you want me to get that?” Percy began to reach over, hesitantly, after it rang a few times.

“No, it’s Anna.” Aiden scooped it up and pressed the talk button.

“Who?”

“The woman at the hotel where I left Shaylee. Shhh.” He put the phone to his ear. “Yes? …What? …What do you mean?” Percy couldn’t make out the inaudible noise on the other line, but suddenly Aiden’s face darkened. “Oh, shit! …We’ll be right there.” He hung up.

“What’s wrong?”

“Change of plans. We're going to see Shaylee, after all.”

“Wait! What if someone really is following us?”

“There’s nothing we can do about that now. Shaylee needs us.”

“What if we split up?” said Percy. “One of us can keep going on to Shaylee and the other person can take the car. Maybe if someone’s following us…”

Aidan had to smile. “That’s… actually a good idea.” Then his brow clouded over. “I guess you should be the one to go to her.”

“Why?” Not that I’m complaining.

“She needs to talk to you. She said so.” Aidan smiled again. “Plus, it’s my car. Graduation present from my dad. Nobody gets to drive this baby but me. I’ll bet you don’t even know how to drive.”

Percy didn’t, but that was well beside the point, and he decided to keep it to himself. “All right. I’ll go. But where is she?”

“I’ll write out some directions to the motel where she’s staying. We’ll part ways at the next gas station. I’ve got a mountain bike in the trunk; you can take that.” Percy decided not to mention that he wasn’t so good at bike-riding, either. “You’ll probably get there in… three, maybe four hours.”

Six hours later, evening was falling as a Percy—bruised all over, mud-splattered, clothes torn and sweaty—was rapping on the motel room door where Shaylee was staying. A strange woman opened the door whom he took to be Anna.

“I just came back in to check on her,” the woman explained, closing the door behind her. “And I found her like this.”

Percy almost gaped. Shaylee had always been pale, but now she was chalk-white. She lay on a mattress stained through with a puddle of sweat, and her entire body was slick and shiny. She had kicked every blanket, every sheet and even the pillow off. She had barely even registered the other two people in the room, but tossed and turned, bloodshot eyes only half-opened, moaning softly.

“Shaylee?” Percy said in a breathless voice as he sank onto the mattress beside her. “My God. Can you hear me?”

She turned, glazed eyes barely seeing, but a flicker of recognition in her face. “Percy...?”

She took his hand. It was so hot he almost shrank away.

“She needs to get to a hospital.”

Just then there was a sharp banging at the door.
Percy and Anna exchanged apprehensive looks.

"Should I open it?" Anna whispered. Her body jerked instantaneously as more loud knocking shook the door and startled her. "Who is it?" She called out, her voice unsteady.

"Hello, Annabelle. My name is Alistair Flamel. May I come in?" Mr. Flamel replied politely through the door.

Percy froze at the sound of the man's voice. Noticing his reaction, Anna slid the metal chain onto its latch, further securing the already locked door.

"I'm sorry Mr. Flamel. All my rooms are booked. You're gonna have to come back another time." Anna pressed both her hands against the door anxiously, preparing to hold it shut with her own strength if necessary.

"I know she's very sick. I can help her if you would allow me to."

Percy's eyes wandered wildly in conjunction with his sporadic thoughts. "Let him in," he said with finality.

Annabelle opened the door and stepped aside to make way for Mr. Flamel. She eyed him warily as he stepped into the room, but her gaze quickly turned into one of admiration as he took her hand and shook it, then swiftly brought it to his lips and pecked the back of it. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Annabelle."

"Hi," she said breathlessly in a dreamy manner. Mr. Flamel was a very good looking man for his age. He came from money and had always dressed to show it.

"Percival, may I see her?" Mr. Flamel asked cautiously.

Percy reluctantly untangled his fingers from Shaylee's hand and moved from her side so that Mr. Flamel could have a better look. The older man moved in closer and hovered over her feverish form, but it wasn't her that he was closely examining. The reflection of the stone hanging around her neck glowed red within his eyes. Momentarily entranced by it, he reached out his hand. His fingers instinctively unfurled, the stone was beckoning them forward. So close. Only a few inches away...

"Don't touch her," Percy grumbled, furrowing his brows, his dual colored eyes were dead set on Mr. Flamel.

The light of awareness came back into Mr. Flamel's dazed eyes. He pulled back promptly and took an extra step away from her. "My apologies," he said humbly, before clearing his throat an recomposing himself. "The stone is doing this to her. We have to take her to The Professor's house. He knows more about this than I do."

"The stone?" Percy redirected his attention and noticed the red ore for the first time. He gasped when he recognized the rock from his reading and research in the past. "That can't be..." he muttered, awestruck.

"But it is. She's wearing the Philosopher's Stone," Mr. Flamel assured him.

"Why is it affecting her this way?"

"The Professor will be able to explain to you in detail. Are you able to carry her?"

Percy nodded, lifted Shaylee up in his arms and cradled her close to his chest.

"Until we meet again, Annabelle," Mr. Flamel said swiftly as he paced out of the motel room to open the backdoor of his car for Percy. "Winesap, hurry. Lay her down in the back seat."
Percy did as he was instructed before taking the passenger seat beside Mr. Flamel. Within mere moments they were racing down the highway.

"How did you know where we were?" Percy asked once they were well on their way.

"I track all of my children's cell phones and cars," he answered casually.

"And you listen in on their phone conversations too?"

"Mmm," Mr. Flamel hummed in thought. "Not always. Only when I need to. I make it a point to have my eyes and ears in all the right places. It's a shame you don't own a car Percival. Do you not have a cell phone as well?" Mr. Flamel glanced sideways at him with a smirk.

"I wouldn't tell you even if I did," Percy said curtly.

Mr. Flamel chuckled deeply, warming up the atmosphere of the car. "Get some sleep while you can, Percy. You look deprived. We won't be there for another couple of hours."

"No, I'll be fine," Percy mumbled. He glanced back at Shaylee one last time before exhaustion overtook his body, weighing down his eyelids like lead. He blinked a few times in an attempt to fight it, but soon the curtains closed to his world as he slipped into the darkness of unconsciousness.

© Copyright 2016 Fallen Fairy, Cloverine, JoeStrong, (known as GROUP).
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