The final story in this trilogy, before starting the next three
Part three: Acheri
We followed Sundew to the other side of the mall where the theatre was. The faerie people seemed more adjusted to our world than I expected.
“I have a question, how is it you already have diplomats speaking to governments? Magic just returned a couple of days ago”, I watched Sundew stopped.
“I would like to know myself”, Delfina added.
Sundew looked back as she flew forward, “Magic has been returning for the last couple of weeks. You, humans, were too busy looking at your devices to notice the little things”, she said
“Seriously?”, we passed by the store that used to be Zellers.
Sundew didn’t bother to look back, “If you survive this I will be more than happy to fill you in on the whole story or Ileana will”, she said moving faster now, her voice seemed annoyed with our questions.
We stopped in front of the theatre. Delfina looked at me, “Are you sure about this?”, the worry in her voice was quite clear.
“Yes. If I really have magic, it is better I get a handle on it now. I would really hate it if we needed it and I couldn’t use it on purpose”, I was surprised at how much sense that statement made. One would almost think I was growing up.
Sundew looked impressed, “Just a couple of things, do not let the Acheri touch you. You will have to let fear guide you until your magic reveals itself. Once it does, you should be able to use, ‘claimoh solais’,. It forms a weapon you are most familiar with”, she said seriously.
“What about me?”, Delfina asked she looked like she felt a little left out.
“Try not to get killed”, was all Sundew told her in a flat tone.
“You have nothing that can help me?” Delfina asked she looked a little rejected now.
“No offense you do not have magic and should not be participating in this battle at all. Survive and we might find some use for you. Never forget, the faerie people respond to deeds and not words human”, Sundew said in a peevish tone.
I drew the gun and moved slowly towards the first theatre door. It creaked as it opened, no sign of the princess or the Acheri.
“So what do you think it looks like?”, Delfina asked me. Her voice was more curious than afraid now.
I rolled my eyes. It was clear Delfina was one of those people who relieved her nerves by talking too much. This would not be a problem if we were not trying to take a dangerous creature by surprise.
“Do I look like a magical creature expert?”, I paused to open another door, nothing, “You need to shut up now. The element of surprise is all we have at the moment and I would like to keep it that way”, I could see why Mom and Delfina got along so well because mom would be doing the same thing if she were here.
I could smell something rotting coming from the next door. My nostrils were protesting loudly against the smell. I could hear slamming coming from the other side of the door, and I felt the goosebumps rising on my arms.
“Do you think it is in there?”, Delfina asked as she crouched beside me, while I grabbed the handle of the door.
I had about enough, “Delfina I am grateful for everything you have done for me and mom, but if you don’t shut up, I am going to knock you out”, I stared into her deep brown eyes, trying to convey as much meaning into my words as possible.
Delfina went quiet and pointed to the door. I held up three fingers and did a wordless countdown. I slowly opened the door on three, and the stench got worse.
A child about a year or two younger than me was rounding on a woman laying on the floor, I could not get a good look at her because the acheri was blocking my view.
I fired a shot at the creature and it turned to face me. It was dressed in modern clothes they were tattered and ripped. The skin had open wounds oozing puss and pestilence. Its skin was a sickly yellow color and barely covered its bones. It had long distended fingernails made for scratching people up. The hair was greasy and one could see the lice crawling through it. Its sunken eyes glowed a sickly green, and the ghastly smile chilled the bones.
“Now what?”, Delfina queried, as I stood to face it she looked rather green herself.
“How should I know? I never fought one of these before”, honestly for someone who ran a successful business, Delfina was not all that bright in battle situations.
“You have fought before right?”, Delfina asked causing me to roll my eyes once more.
“Yes in hockey. However I am going to listen to the fairy creature and do my best not to touch it until my magic goes active”, I fired another couple of shots at the creature.
Delfina stood beside me, her pistol raised, she was wearing that weird perfume of hers. It smelled better than the Acheri at least. I needed to provoke fear, but how? I went through several options and decided I would run towards the horror.
“Stay here”, I said as I rushed up the aisle to the creature. I did not bother to see if the woman was alive or dead. The acheri opened its eyes wide in surprise, grinning wickedly laughing hollowly. I could feel my stomach knotting in fear it still was not enough. A few more feet, my skin started to prickle uncomfortably. A few more steps and the sensation got more painful as fear took greater hold.
The acheri grinned wickedly as it held out a bony hand to touch me, as it rushed to meet me now. The diseased legs pushed it faster than I expected. I watched the hands get closer and closer, and then pain.
When the magic finally erupted from my body it was like being skinned alive. I screamed in pain closing my eyes, I saw a flash of light pass over my eyelids and heard a scream of frustration. When I opened my eyes, the acheri was held at bay by goalie blockers composed of bluish energy. It was cradling its hand which was smoking. Apparently, this energy of mine could hurt it.
“Claimoh solais”, I shouted, I felt a slight prickle as the energy formed in my hands. I was excited to find out what kind of weapon it would be. I was quite disappointed to see a hockey stick in my hand. Then I remembered what Sundew said, ‘it forms a weapon you are most familiar with’, and it made sense.
The acheri looked at it quizzically as if it had not seen one before. While it was distracted I took the opportunity to hook it on the bony ankle, yanking the stick back, and it fell to the ground.
I was not going to waste time and proceeded to hit the acheri over and over again in the most brutal fashion possible. Ghostly hands rose from the ground and dragged it down to the depths of wherever it had come from.
Delfina looked at me, “Did you really have to do it that way?”, she hugged me tightly in relief.
I returned her embrace, “Why do you think I was in anger therapy?”, my question answered hers and we both laughed.
We were interrupted by a musical voice, “You have my thanks for your assistance”, I turned to see who it was.
Her beauty was unearthly and my heart skipped a beat. Her complexion was clear and shone like a moonlit night. Her hair was a pinkish color like a cloud at sunset. It danced as she moved. Her slender frame was covered by a flowing gown. The glittering yellow eyes shone like amber, and her wings butterfly-like wings were folded on her back.
My palms sweat, my throat went dry, and speaking was like pulling teeth, “Welcome you are...I mean I am welcome...No wait, you are pleased to meet me...damnit”, I put my face in my hands, as the blood rushed to my face. I could just see my face matching the color of a fire engine.
Delfina made herself useful and rescued me from making a fool of myself, “This is Warren Vandal, and I am Delfina Quintana. We came here for clothes and Warren decided to help”, she said.
“We are truly well met this day. I was close to losing my life had it not been for you two. I am Ileana princess of the Seelie, daughter of Queen Gloriana Elphame”, she said shaking Delfinas hand warmly, before turning to me. “It has been some time since I have seen an auramancer. Come we must check on the children to see if their ailments have vanished with the creatures”, she said heading to the door.
She walked at a brisk pace her face hopeful. As we entered the food court children were once again filled with energy, some were still sick but recovered quickly. Ileana breathed a sigh of relief and her smile seemed to light up the whole room.
Sundew fluttered up to Ileana, “Your majesty you are safe. I am surprised these barbarians were able to help you, especially the male”, she said embracing her mistress.
Ileana giggled, “Do behave yourself Sundew we are in the presence of heroes”
Sundew gave me a funny look, “He still looks like a barbarian to me”
I glared at Sundew, “I am standing right here and I can hear everything you say”
Sundew ignored my comment, “He probably beat the creature to death with a stick. Barbarians do that from time to time when they can’t find a sword”, she said snottily
Delfina laughed as did Ileana, “Sundew please stop my sides are hurting”, Delfina said between chuckles.
I walked away with a bruised ego, and let the women talk among themselves. Foxwhistle came and joined them. I waited for several minutes before Ileana came and sat with me. While Delfina continued to speak with the ladies in waiting.
“Please forgive me and my servants. we meant no insult toward you”, she said in a sincere tone. I felt like an idiot staring at her the way I was. Teenage hormones were not fun.
“I am sorry for being a jerk about it. I have only ever been in hockey fights and that particular style did not apply to the situation. Sundew said to avoid touching the acheri so I listened”, I felt a little better about things now.
Ileana gently touched my hand and smiled, “It matters little how you won. All that matters is you did. Is there anything I can do for you?”, she asked I was having a hard time looking away from her.
I took a few moments to think, “Sundew said magic has been returning for weeks. I want to know how we missed it and why it was brought back in the first place”, I figured I deserved some answers since my mom died for it.
Ileana smiled, “I was expecting something more juvenile from you”, She paused for a moment to clear her throat, “As you may know, we at one time were frequent visitors to your world. However, your people discovered science, and magic took a backseat to it”
“Okay, I am with you so far, what happened next?”, if only our history classes could be this exciting.
Ileana looked like she was enjoying herself, “When it became clear that magic would only be spoken about in tales spun by human imagination, we started to withdraw from the world. Some of us remained after to see what you would come up with next. Our final act was to seal magic in three ancient books. The book of Thoth, contained the magic once possessed by humans, the Black Book of Carmarthen sealed the doorways between our worlds, and the Codex Gigas sealed the monsters born of your world away” she said
“Let me guess someone decided to bring it all a back?”, I couldn’t wait to hear the answer.
Ileana shook her head, “No someone wanted to commit an evil act using magic and found all the secret incantations to release magic back in the world. We are still searching for the book holder and the books that contain the original sealing incantations. The only way to put things right again is to reseal magic” she said sadly as if the thought of our world losing magic hurt her.
“I volunteer to help find the books. If it helps everyone I want to be a part of it”, my voice was determined, my jaw was clenched, and my gaze was steely.
Ileana smiled, “I humbly accept your offer. My mother is putting together a team for that very task. She is one member short and I think you are a perfect fit, well once we get you properly outfitted”, we shook hands and our hands glowed for a brief moment.
“What was that?”, I asked wondering what it meant
“You have pledged yourself to our service and until all three books have been found and magic resealed you belong to the imperial family as a servant. When you are not with your team, you are to be my personal guard understood?” Ileana asked.
Delfina had a major breakdown over the whole thing, “I cannot believe you did something so stupid. Do you have any idea how dangerous it will be? You barely know how to use magic, never mind going all over the world looking for a way to put it back. If your mom was here she would have your hide.
Foxwhistle and Sundew watched her with interest. Both of them knew I was bound to the royal family for better or for worse until we found the books and restored the world.
“Delfina relaxes, I will not be alone, and from Ileana says her mom has a plan. I figure a woman with Elphames experience has a few good ideas up her sleeve”, I said mildly.
Delfina waved her hands over Ileana, “That is because your hormones are dictating your actions. Tell the little head to stop thinking for five minutes and let the big one stretch its legs for a change” she said angrily.
Ileana gently touched Delfina, “I assure you Delfina your foundling was of sound mind when he made his choice. You may, of course, come with him if you worry about his welfare so much” she said calmly.
Delfina sighed in frustration and pulled on her hair for a moment, “Fine, but it had better be a good plan”.
Ileana smiled, “Just you wait it is rather brilliant”
Delfina seemed skeptical, “It had better be”