When the cats away the mice will play
|Lord Tuxley looked at the renewed Idina. Before her marriage, Idina was the most sought after woman in Ivorhaven. The new Idina's beauty surpassed the bloom of youth. Long silky emerald hair and a flirtatious face, matched with bedroom eyes, made her impossible to ignore. Her dress sported slits to accentuate her shapely legs. A perfectly proportioned body filled the garment. Her smell called to Tuxley.
"Idina, you are a vision. How do you feel?"
Jagged butterfly wings flapped excitedly. Idina let out a deadly giggle and caused Lord Tuxley to shiver with excitement. "I feel better than I have in years. What do you wish of me, my lord."
A mere touch from her was ecstasy. Her voice, sweet music to the lonely lord's ears. "You and your chosen one will bring a new race into being."
A seductive look appeared on the newly made faerie's face. "I get to choose?"
"After all you've been through, you deserve no less."
She traced a circle on Tuxleys chest, and he gulped. "My mate must have a heart of gold, vigorous of body, and gentle of spirit. He must have the might to defend the home and the ability to lead." She moved her face forward until her lips almost touched Lord Tuxley's.
"I could be that man Idina, my love is..."
"Irrelevant. Never call me Idina again. I am now Niemiera." She hissed. "I already have someone in mind. His gentle touch, kind eyes, and soft words whispered into my ear like a prayer to my soul. He is everything you and Lord Schaefer aren't."
Jealousy boiled the blood of Tuxley. His voice grew strained, and her intoxicating spicy scent hit his pleasure center with the subtlety of an anvil drop. "Who is this man?"
"Silverbolt. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am off to claim my shiny prize."
"He's in love with Constance Reynard," Tuxley shouted in desperation.
"Then I guess she dies." With that, Niemiera flew out a window and into the night.
Lord Tuxley stared at the cage, where sick green eyes glowed in the shadowy depths. A third light lay in the center of its forehead. He waved his hand, and the light vanished. "Kill your wife and then kill the shiny bastard. I will not be second best again." Another hand gesture opened the cage. "Go about your dark purpose."
In a small room with a single bed, a young woman tries to sleep, but the tears streaming from her eyes deny her entrance to the world of dreams. Two feet away is the broken and bruised body of the man she loves, the hero Silverbolt.
Constance wiped her eyes and watched his breaths grow ragged. He sat up, and his eyes darted from side to side. "Hey Hexfist, the next time you do intel, maybe mention the rocket launchers. Where the hell did they get them anyway?"
A trembling hand pushed him back down. "Shhh. It's okay. You'll make it through this." He never got to be a child because he was too busy being a living weapon against evil. This Hexfist used Ethan like a blunt object against his enemies.
Madame Cuttle entered the somber room like an angel, ready to give comfort. She carried a tray and slid it onto the hardwood table. The familiar smell of mint and pine followed the headmistress next to her former student. "How is he doing?"
Constance embraced Madame Cuttle and cried for a few minutes. "Who could treat a child so poorly? Everyone either saw him as a threat to them or sought to use him to threaten. No wonder he's so skittish about his feelings."
A tear fell from Madame Cuttle's eyes, "Stop that, or I'll cry a river myself. The Old One...."
"Never utter that name in my presence again. I care not who started what. My husband lays before me, broken and bloody, hanging on by a thread, because of the wretched beast. What's worse is the animal has to stick around because Ethan beat him. I've half a mind to stab it several times." The blade on the end of the parasol popped out with a click of the button.
A gentle hand stretched out, and a soothing voice said, "Give it to me. You'll do something rash and end up in a worse condition than Silverbolt."
I'll surrender it over my dead body. "No, it brings me comfort. I am not leaving this room. I will be the first thing to grace Ethan's vision once he wakes up, end of discussion."
Constance's harsh tone caused Madame Cuttle to smile. "So you finally acknowledge what the ring means. Do you think he'll ever say it out loud?"
"Ethan may act like an idiot, but he knows what's under the left gauntlet. We were going to learn about each other's worlds. He offered to teach me self defense. I accepted, providing he learned to be a gentleman. It's more than any of the other ruffians I had dinner with offered." So much more, it's hard to imagine my life without him in it.
A smile creased the other woman's lips. "I see. How about you learn a bit while he sleeps. Spencer is here with the Midgely family. He wouldn't say no to teaching you if you asked. A distraction and a change of clothes will do you a world of good."
"What about Ethan?" I refuse to leave if no one is around to tell me he is awake.
"I will stay. You will know the moment Silverbolt wakes."
"Where do I find the Midgely's?"
A bare hand curled and bunched the lush grass at the sides of the fallen teen's side. Steel grey eyes stared at the cloudless sky. Somethings wrong. Calloused hands traversed the chest area. My armor and weapons are gone. I have to be dreaming, but I never dream about peaceful things.
"I noticed. Even in sleep, you are determined to give evil a bloody nose. Are you going to lay there all day?" an unfamiliar voice asked.
Was I kidnapped? No, that's ridiculous. I was victorious over the old one and then passed out. Am I dead?
The unfamiliar feminine voice sounded impatient. "You aren't dead. Yes, I can read your thoughts. Yes, I am the one you disrespectfully call the Weird Lady."
Silverbolt sat up and looked around. The land was alive with animals at play and birds alive with song. A picture-perfect stream ran through the scene, and fish jumped out of the water with glee. Leafy green trees swayed in the sweet-smelling wind.
"Am I in some terrible cartoon musical? I feel like these animals are about to sing some inspirational song." Silverbolt turned to the Weird Lady. Her face still bore the benevolent smile. Her robe was red and blue with rolling waves outlined on the long hems. Her gaudy jewelry hung off her neck. "Can I ask a question?"
The All mother smiled, "Of Course."
"If you dropped that necklace, would it cause an earthquake?"
The smile turned to a frown, and the Goddess glared at Silverbolt. "What did you say?"
"I was saying if that ring fell in the ocean, would it cause a tsunami capable of swallowing most of the planet."
"Are you mocking me in my realm?"
"No, I was merely asking if that earring is the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs." The Goddess sighed and waved her hand. Silverbolt found he couldn't speak.
"Unbelievable. I show you the Divine realm..."
I don't care about this dream. It's not one I would ever have. I wonder if I can change it to the one with a decent chase.
The All-Mothers hands fell to her sides and shook with anger. She bared her teeth and gritted them. Green eyes stared at Silverbolt in disbelief. "What is your problem? Life is not about running around, chasing criminals, and punching them in the head. What about love and family?"
Silverbolt's ability to speak returned. "I was working on that. The Old One was a necessary step in my brilliant plan..."
"There were other ways to achieve your objective, had you asked anyone, but no. Your battle with the old one, while impressive, has left your best friend vulnerable to attack."
"The Damn Girl is in trouble? You have to send me back."
"Tell me why you have to get back to her?"
"Tuxley wants her. If I die, she'll have no one to save her from him. He can alter humans."
"Not good enough, Ethan. I can tap any idiot on the shoulder to deal with Tuxley. Why do you have to go back?"
"Because I love Constance. I want to have a life with her, once Tuxley is out of the way."
The All-Mother waved her hand, a massive tree appeared behind Silverbolt, and the branches bound him the rough bark. "Excellent. First, we'll sort out your mind, and then I will show you something neat."
"We could be here for a while."
"I am a goddess, you know. I'll put you back in a reasonable amount of time."
Spencer was a traditional sort of person. In his mind, women and men performed specific roles in society. Men learned to fence. Women stood by and clapped for the menfolk. His long bushy eyebrow angled downward at the thin law being ought of teaching lady Constance how to defend herself.
He stifled a dismissive laugh and straightened his fencing smock. "Lady Constance, it is unladylike to learn how to fight. There are men here."
Constance drew the parasol blade. "Silverbolt was going to teach me. He believes women are just as capable as men."
"Silverbolt, you are above such a foul-mouthed idiot," Spencer said in a terse tone. "The man suggested my eyebrows were waiting to become butterflies."
An imperious finger pointed at Spencer, and Clara spoke with authority. "You had best do as she asks, Spencer."
He scoffed. "I take orders from the Midgely's only. You are not a Midgely yet."
Clara's eyes narrowed, glared at Spencer, and she spoke in a deadly tone. "Lord Midgely is in this very room. Perhaps I should ask him what he thinks. As I recall, Lady Midgely has felt the sting of your chauvinism...," she started to say in a conversational tone.
Spencer spat and sputtered, "That's blackmail."
"Perhaps you would like to be Silverbolt's sparring partner when he awakens? I am sure we could talk Lord Midgely into it." Constance chimed in.
Linen white replaced the olive, the colored skin of Spencer. "You wouldn't. The man is a juggernaut on two legs. I wouldn't stand a chance."
Clara and Constance shot the guard a pair of winsome smiles. "Have we changed your mind, Sir Spencer?" Clara asked. A slender eyebrow arched over the soulful brown eye.
Screams and astonished gasps stole the trio's attention. They turned and saw a transformed Idina float into the room. She giggled maniacally, "What's the matter, Clara? No hug for your mother? You always were an ungrateful brat."
"You were just as mad as my father, for staying with him for all these years. I had to endure his tyranny on my own without your help. You drowned your sorrows in that wretched potion."
Spencer stepped in front of the young Noblewomen. "I hope you ladies don't mind if I put my considerable talents into action."
Idina's wings fluttered up to the man with the furry unibrow. "How cute a man who enjoys knitting. She gripped the shiny metal with a flawless hand and bent the slender blade upward, and rendered it useless. "A man shouldn't be using knitting needles." She kissed Spence, and his eyes went vacant. Her moss green eyes turned to Constance and stared in accusation. "You stole something that belongs to me."
The parasol blade shook in fear as Constance slowly backed away from the crazed Idina. "Lady Idina, I have been to your house twice. There is nothing you have that I don't already own myself."
The exotic face snarled. "You stole my chance at happiness." Her hands glowed, and a sharpened branch flew toward Constance with deadly accuracy. Constance squeaked and swung the parasol blade in desperation. She managed to deflect the pointy projectile, and it shattered harmlessly against the stone floor.
Silverbolt is out. The old one is my best chance of survival. "Clara, I am going to the stables. I'll stall your mother while you get help."
Idina's laugh chilled Constance to the bone. Her feet touched the soft soil of flower beds before they touched the lush lawn. One hundred yards separated Constance and her goal. I don't know if the Old One will help. I hope the ornery beast will protect me.
"Where are you going, thief? Stop now, and I will make your death quick and painless." Her hands glowed, and a trio of roots crept along the ground toward Constance.
"What have I stolen from you, Lady Idina." Constance barely dodged the creeping vegetation and kept running. She let out a scream in hopes the Old One would come to her aid.
"My chance at happiness, Silverbolt," Idina screamed as a pair of trees became animated. Her glow began to fade, "No, not now. Not while victory is at hand."
Is she aging? Constance watched Idina's face shrivel to an elderly state. What am I doing? I need to rouse my new beastly friend. She resumed her journey to the stable. Only to be blocked by the twisted face of what appeared to be Lord Schaefer.
Tattered rags of his fine clothes adorned Lord Schaefers body, and a sleek black hat accentuated the glowing eyes. He reeked of death, and his breath could induce anyone to vomit. "Let me handle the unholy bitch." he said as he rushed to battle his ex-wife. Constance thought she saw a second face on the back of Lord Schaefers head but was mesmerized by the sharpened elbows.
Spencer appeared on the scene and brandished a new blade. Unfortunately, Idina saw him and clutched his hand with hers. "Just what I needed." Spencer's face wasted away as Idina's fingertips absorbed his life force. Her face grew young and beautiful again, just as her ex-husband twisted to stab her with a pointy elbow. Spencer fell to the ground lifeless.
"I warned you what would happen if you left me, bitch." Schaefer said. The sharpened bone threatened to pierce Idina's skin.
A trio of roots bound the horror by the legs. Idina flashed a wicked grin. A long wooden spear appeared in her hand. "Your tyranny ends now."
Ethan was right. Lord tuxley is making superpowered people. There can be no other explanation, but how? No time for that. I have no idea what's going on, but the old one is our best chance right now."
Constance managed to reach the stable and pounded on the stable door. "Wake up, you foul beast. They're aft after Ethan and me. Please help." How does Ethan keep his mind on task amidst the madness of battle? She pounded on the rough wooden door again. "You are his servant. Ethan is in trouble save him."
An annoyed grunt came from the other side of the door, followed by an apathetic sigh and then silence.
Constance stomped her food and dangled her hand over the stable door. "I am Silverbolts wife, and I command you into action." She looked behind her just in time to see Idina pin the twisted form of Lord Schaefer to the ground.
The Old One refused to answer her call. Constance brandished the parasol blade, and her hand shook nervously. "I swear if I am to die today, I will take you with me."
A glow emitted from Constance's hand and traveled down her arms. Her thoughts became muddled as the light intensified. What's happening to me? Wings with glowing runes erupted from her back. She won't take what is rightfully mine. She is unworthy of his love and attention. I will show her how unforgiving a Reynard can be.
Her wings propelled her forward into the fray, blade raised and ready to end lives if need be.