Some new surprises
|Clara burst into the small infirmary and began to shake the unconscious hero. Tears fell from her eyes. "You have to wake up, the world is falling apart, and we need you. Constance is in danger. If we aren't worth saving, save her."
A sinewy hand sun twitched, and a spark danced down the bare muscular arm and hovered over Silverbolt's heart. A single flash and the eyes opened, but galvanized blue orbs had replaced the steel grey, and glowing lightning bolts appeared on his face. Around his neck was a strange necklace.
Not a word escaped the lips of Silverbolt while he rose and gripped the necklace A soft glow, and the bared chested hero was now armored. The heart-shaped mask with the crossed lightning bolts didn't register the young woman's presence. The armor stood inert, and the head was down.
"Silverbolt, are you okay?" Clara asked. "Silverbolt?" She moved to block his path and got shoved to the ground. The empty eyes said nothing, lips were straight and severe, and there was something about the way he walked that made Clara feel she made a bad situation worse.
A fierce, heavy song reverberated off the stone. The hero left the room without so much as a growl and vanished into the rafters.
Constance was losing the fight with Idina, who insisted her name was Niemiera. Her parasol blade was too slow to scratch her enhanced foe. By the same extension, Niemiera didn't have time to use her abilities to get one over the fairy maiden.
I can't let her win. Constance pressed the button on the parasols handle, and the blade popped out the end. She brandished both and sniffed the air. The reek of death drifted on the wind. She looked down where Schaefers tattered form once lay. The rotting one freed himself.
Niemiera growled and swung a closed fist at Constance. "I won't give up. I deserve to be happy for once, with someone who will accept me for who I am."
Poor disillusioned Idina. Your experiences have made you quite mad. Behind Niemiera, a rotting face with sick green eyes and vicious yellow fangs. A sharpened elbow stood poised to run Niemiera through. "Watch out behind you."
A familiar rattle of chain touched the ears of the fairy maiden. Where do I know that sound? My body tingles with excitement. Something silver followed by a flash of light knocked the horror away.
Idina broke off her attack and rushed to aid the silver-clad warrior. "See, he comes to save me."
Constance felt the jealousy well up inside her. Sorry, Idina, I can't let that happen. The translucent wings fluttered and pushed her forward at the same speed as Niemiera. For once, I'll save you, Silverbolt.
The blade swished through the air and lopped off a lock of Idinas hair. The false fairy hissed in anger. "Little girls should stay out of adult business. Since your mother wouldn't take you in hand, I will." A wave of her fingers sent a trio of roots speeding towards the sylph.
The parasol blade sliced through the roots like butter while Constance dodged and hacked at four more coming at her from the right.
Silverbolt's voice echoed around the battlezone. A horn-like call responded from the stable area. The meteor hammer shot out first as metal, and then midflight turned to pure electrical energy and shocked the sharp-elbowed creature.
Lord Schaefer sunk to his knees and then growled in frustration. "Next time, you'll die," He said to the warrior before taking off into the city.
Idina clapped with glee while she kept Constance preoccupied. "Is he not impressive. Our children will rise and take what is rightfully theirs." The broken woman broke off her attack for a second time.
Constance noted something was off with the warrior. His head was down, and the lethal meteor hammer hung limp at his side. What is he doing? Is he waiting for her? She chased after the false fairy.
Idina was so close now. The mask glowed and the eyeholes leveled on the beautiful creature in front of him. A single twitch of the hand saw the meteor hammer wrap around the abberations waist.
The imitation fairy smiled seductively. "A little more fierce than I expected. Wait, what are you doing?" Seduction turned to panic as a massive charge snaked its way down the warrior's arm.
"Silverbolt, No," Constance shouted as she sped toward the Silverclad hero.
Too late. Idina convulsed as the massive charge wreaked havoc with her body. Foam dribbled out the side of her mouth, her eyes rolled back in her head, and the horrid smell of burnt flesh permeated the area.
The charge ended, Idina landed on the ground. Silverbolt raised his hand, and a blade made of lightning extended from the wrist guard. He slowly marched toward the fallen enemy.
Is this what happened in the Addle house? Constance floated in front of him. "Please don't do this. She's suffered enough. What about Clara?"
The Galvanized blue eyes stared at the purplish thundercloud colored hair in front of them. Crystal blue eyes pleaded with the implacable hero. Slender hands reached for the mask, and the head tilted back to avoid them. "Why should I spare her? She will kill with impunity, or she'll waste away deprived of her food source. Best to put her out of her misery now."
A gauntleted hand shoved the curvy form out of the way, only to have the unearthly beauty stand in his way. She reached for the mask once again. "You don't have to be this anymore."
Silverbolts side itched, and he growled. "One less problem."
"What about Clara? Do you want to break her heart?"
"She will blame herself for every kill..." Pain ran down the hero's left side. It was tolerable at first, but the tiny pinpricks of annoyance became railway spikes of agony. Adrenaline is wearing off. The lightning blade flickered and vanished, and the pain intensified. It hurts to stand.
The hero dropped to his knees. Constance went to catch Silverbolt, and she screamed, "Clara, no."
Silverbolt turned in time to see Clara drive Spencer's blade into Idina's heart. A numb expression adorned her face. "It ends here and now, Mother." Blood poured from the wound and stained the ground crimson. The mother reached for her daughter, but Clara kicked her hand away. "Not this time. You'll have my father to keep you company before long."
Clara continued to stare at the pallid corpse, not a word to say or a thought to share. Silverbolt sighed. "Let me talk to her. I know how she feels."
Constance gestured to her glowing form, "What about this?"
The steel grey eyes winced in pain while a hand clutched the hero's ribs. "You're not dying. You'll be fine for now. Get Gabe, and the Midgelys Clara is going to need all the support she can get. Get a message to the City Watch and let them know they have a monster on the loose."
The button nose turned upward, and a regal tone came from the fairy maiden. "I deserve..."
"I have a lot to tell you, and some privacy wouldn't hurt while we sort things out. It's worth the wait. You have my word." She always picks the worst times to be a brat.
The crystal blue eyes searched the deep grey and smiled. "Very well. Next time I get to lead."
"When you have the experience."
Constance fluttered off to find the Midgelys while Silverbolt approached Clara. He looked at the mournful face of the young woman. "How are you feeling?"
"Have you killed before?" Her voice sounded a million miles away.
"Yes. Did you enjoy it? Sorry I have to ask that question."
"I didn't enjoy it, but there was satisfaction." Clara hadn't looked up since the conversation started. "What was it like for you?"
"Satisfying as well. I didn't feel bad, but I wasn't proud of it either."
Clara looked up at him, and tears streamed down her face. "Do you think Gabe will still want me? My father is a horror, and I killed my mother. He'll probably run in the opposite direction now."
The first is always the worst. "I can't answer for Gabe, but if he tosses you aside, then maybe he wasn't the right person for you after all." How arbitrary of me. What am I, her mother? Now I make jokes in bad taste. "Clara, in all honesty, the next couple of months are going to test the limits of your character."
"Right now, you may not feel anything about your act, but once it sinks in, you'll dream about it. Sleep will be hard to come by. Guilt will rule your waking thoughts and then the wondering if what you did was preventable."
Clara wiped her eyes and tried to smile. "What was it like for you?"
Silverbolt sat down on the ground next to Idina's body and stared into the crimson pool. "Some parts are fuzzy. Most of the people who died did so on the way to get medical attention. The courts forgave the violent actions I didn't."
"Do the dead haunt you to this day?"
"Some days I wake up and remind myself the Addle house incident does not define who I am as a person. Some nights I wake up in a cold sweat because my dreams refuse to leave it alone."
"How long before you got over it?" Clara's brown eyes looked hopeful.
"It took me years." Clara's face dropped to the ground and fresh tears formed in the corner of her eyes. "Let me finish before you decide to lose hope. I didn't have anyone to help me through it. You have me, and Constance at the very least."
"Clara, are you okay?" Gabe's voice shouted across the grounds. Lord and Lady Midgely were in tow, desperate to keep up. Behind them was Constance.
"Do you want me to stay?" Silverbolt asked his friend.
"No, thanks. I need to speak to them alone. If it goes wrong, I'll come looking for you."
"We all should talk over breakfast tomorrow. Tuxley just upgraded his threat level, and a psychotic creature is loose in the city. I'd chase him but, my body can't take it right now." Silverbolt clutched his ribs.
"I'll set it up. Thank you for the talk. I assume you have things to discuss with Constance?"
Silverbolt looked over at Constance and then back to Clara. "I suppose I can't put it off any longer."
Clara shook her head and walked away. Constance looked over at Silverbolt and gestured to her body. "I can't change back."
"Come on. We'll find somewhere to talk."
Constance's room was distinctly feminine, and Silverbolt looked a little skittish when he entered. He stood by the door while Constance sat on the bed. What is he so nervous about now? A soft hand patted the bed next to her. "Will you join me?"
Silverbolt limped over to the bed and sat next to Constance. "I've never been in a girl's room before," he mumbled. His ears went redder than his face.
"You said you wanted to talk."
"Yes. First things first, we should figure out how to change you back." His hand touched her face, and her form flickered. He experimented with the phenomenon for a moment. "I wonder if I..." He pressed his lips against hers. Constance gripped his face with her hands, hungry for the passion she deserved
When their lips parted, Constance was her usual self. She tried to lean against the injured hero, but he jumped back. "Perhaps we should see how severe your injuries are." She tugged at the breastplate. He always seems so invincible in battle.
A gauntleted hand touched the amulet around his neck, and the armor became a pair of odd blue pants and an undershirt. A calloused hand slowly lifted the shirt and revealed a sea of purple and blue. Despite the angry bruises, Silverbolts bare chest was pleasing to the eye. It was muscular and filled out in all the right places.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like a giant creature rammed me into the side of a building, three times," He said. "Anyway, on to other things." He growled and got down on one knee in front of her.
Am I dreaming? Is he about to do what I think he is? I look like a mess. A roost of monarch butterflies fluttered around her stomach, and her face matched the royal red tapestry behind her.
"Constance, when we first met, I was terminally annoyed by you. As time went on, I started to get used to your presence. Now I don't care how you're in my life, as long as you're in it. I want you to be happy, even if it means stepping aside for someone else. I would prefer it to be me...never mind. Will you marry me?"
By the All-Mother, he asked. What do I say? What do I do? What am I saying. Constance threw her arms around Silverbolt and squeezed tight. "Yes...wait, aren't we...?"
Silverbolt was pale and his face a stoic mask. "You can let go now."
"Oh, sorry." I forgot about his injuries. Who cares. He asked me and no one else. "Can you answer the question now?"
"You promise not to laugh?"
He's so cute when he's off-balance. "You have my word."
Silverbolt took a deep breath, and some color returned to his cheeks. "I know we are officially married in the eyes of the Goddess, which is all fine and good, but it doesn't feel like we did."
A slender hand caressed the handsome face. "I feel the same way. Can I ask why the change?"
Steel grey eyes stared at the tapestry and winced in pain. "I never saw myself getting married. Since one should never say never, I sometimes thought about getting married in between battles."
I thought nothing could top our first dance. I was wrong. "You'll understand if I don't believe you." A bright smile refused to leave Constance's face.
"I don't blame you one bit." A soft glow and the armor reappeared. "Can you help me tighten the straps. It will help keep my ribs in place." Slender hands began to work the leather straps. "As you know, I never really had a family. I promised to make a big deal of it because I found my way home."
How could such a beautiful thought be silly? Constance kissed him again. Parts of her wanted to take things further, but she decided to wait. Silverbolt might not be ready mentally, and his physical condition prevents such activity for the moment.
A calloused hand stroked her midnight hair. "We need to move our base of operations. Innocent people will get hurt if we don't."
"Are you determined to ruin all romantic moments?" Constance said in mock anger.
"Do you want to see Madame Cuttle get hurt? Your mother? Do I need to say more?"
"No. We have some real estate in the center of Ivorhaven. I could talk mother into giving it to us. She owes me an explanation or two as well."
Silverbolt grunted as the metal pressed against his body. "Speaking of which. We need to train you. You may think you have control, but I don't want you to learn control the hard way We'll get you fitted with some decent armor too."
How can I refuse? He keeps his promise to me. "As long as you learn to be a proper gentleman."
Silverbolt kissed her and smiled. "I planned on keeping that promise."
I can't wait to tell Clara and Madame Cuttle. "Then we will begin tomorrow. It will help pass the time while you're still injured."