“Hey Joshie,” Sera said wearily. “How many did they send after you?”
“Sexist bastards,” Sera muttered as a hand went over her face.
“What? What did they send after you? You froze three of them and sent them to the park?” What about the rest?”
“What rest? That was it three.”
“A mortal besting three weres is nothing to scoff at.”
“They thought Adam was human and sent a dozen after him.”
“What are you anyway?” Joshua asked the grim faced blond.
He looked at the gathered group and sighed. He supposed it would come out sooner or later. Though he had not found a group he could claim allegiance to. Day walkers came close but he had a pulse and could bear children.
“Vampire,” he finally admitted.
“Pull the other, I can hear your heart beating from here. Were remember?” Joshua asked gently.
“I’m not like any kind you have ever seen, trust me.”
“Fangs?” Sera asked peeking out from under her rag. Adam smiled and Sera refused to acknowledge the fluttery feeling she felt when he did. But she had to admit while defined there were the canines you would expect on any male with perfect white teeth.
“Perfect teeth but no fangs,” Sera said and sat up. Moaning she lay right back down. “I think I would rather be unconscious.” She grumbled as her father came into the room with tea prepared for her just how she liked it and more mugs of the steaming liquid, for everyone else.
“Oh I made one for you too,” he said looking at Adam who nodded.
“I can eat and drink,” he said simply and Sera eyed him with curiosity but said nothing. She would not make googly eyes at a vampire especially not in front her father and Joshua and even worse Joshua’s father.
“Who placed the ward?” Salil asked.
“That would have been me,” Sera said sitting up slowly as Joshua took a seat at her side. She leaned against him keeping her eyes shut as she sipped the tea missing Salil’s surprised.
“You could not have, that ward uses aspects of pure earth magic. Fire wards are much more dangerous though weaker to prolong assault.”
“I know, I’ve done a lot of element reading.”
“Then you know it should not be possible for you to do it.”
“It also should not be possible for me to use negation on someone wearing a fire element. But I have three frozen asses that state otherwise. Only one thing could have done that.”
“You can not have control of three elements it is not possible,” Salil thundered.
“I do not have control of three elements,” Sera said waving her hand and a breeze spread through the room. “I have control over four.”
Glenn was the only one who’s jaw did not drop. He barely seemed to react except for putting his mug of tea down. He stood and walked over to Sera.
“Are you having the dreams again?”
“Not yet, but they will probably come again soon.”
“Dreams of what?” Joshua asked even as his father watched Glenn with speculation.
“People I’ve never seen just like me dying. They were always around my age, and usually a couple days after the dream I would have surge of power. It was after the third one I started burying things.”
“It was the fifth, you had two when you were a toddler,” Glenn said quietly.
“Why do I get the sense that I’m missing something?” Sera asked looking at her father.
“You warned me. I had to swear on my flame I would never tell you unless you remembered on your own, but you could feel these people being hunted and you always felt that it meant that your turn would be next. You were scared about dreaming about your own death. What I did not tell you was that you had already died once.”
“When my heart stopped on that trip?” Sera said feeling Joshua stiffen on her left side.
“Twice then,” her father said carefully.
“Twice? What do I look like here Buffy? How did I miss a death?”
“You might want to ask your Phoenix about that.”
“Phoenix? What phoenix?” Lord Nova asked.
“This is going to turn into a big bout of show and tell is not it?” Sera sighed rubbing her temples slightly. “Hold on,” she muttered remembering what Shi’ar had said about magical exhaustion. Tapping the part of her mind that went to healing she was surprised to find it warm golden and strong. She attempted to use it to ease here headache but nothing happened.
Shi’ar tsked. “Use an asprin. It would take less effort.
“Fine,” Sera said then realized the voice was coming from the left. She blinked looking up and saw the mental representation of Shi’ar standing before her. And with the looks on everyone’s faces so did they.
Sera had to admit they looked a lot alike, if Sera was made of feather and flame. She noticed that her feathers formed what looked like a swim suit on her body, her legs looked like thy were encased in golden scales and she had wings protruding from her back that draped across her shoulders, with just the tip of her hands peeking out from under her wings.
She grinned at her startled human. “It took me a long time to understand but you are not my Sera. I am from another world.”
“What do you mean?” Adam asked as Sera tilted her head back to look at him groaning at the sharp pain and burying her face in Joshua’s shoulder relaxing as he stroked her hair.
“Where I am from, to gain magic you form a soul bond with you chosen human. They share their abilities and you share your life span. Most unbonded creatures live five years or so, our magic is just not made to maintain a form, human or otherwise and without one we dissipate.”
“We are not born we are formed when a collection of power gathers, this can happen naturally in such places as oceans and rivers or it could be the work of a great unleashing of energy and of course whenever a bonded pair passes that magic is released and able to form another bond.
But Phoenix’s are immortal,” Salil pointed out.
“We are we had no need to bond, but that did not keep us from making friendships and giving those friends a touch of immortality. These bonds were looser than a soul bond and some of these friendships were with bonded pairs. More often they were with children, who had not yet formed their soul bond.”
“You could not force a bond, and while some would try to tempt friendship out of us few succeeded. I choose a young girl, who had an affinity for fire though she had no bond. We began purposely searching for a fire bond for her until on night when the sky changed. You must understand, in Alasia, the sky could be blue one day and orange the next, magic was very free and wild. It was nothing for a dragon to go on a rampage and be stopped by a child who held up a flower.
“There were heroes and villains, warriors and kings, magic was so free and for quite some time I thought I had been shifted from your past to this present. I let my time enclosed to work on that in my mind. But back to Alasia.
“The rules changed by the hour or by the whim of those playing. It was a simple life, but a happy one.”
“Shi’ar how old are you?” Sera asked wondering if the answer was lost in her memory. It did not escape her that the Phoenix’s voice seemed almost childlike in its description.”
“I was pretty young when I came here, 274,000 years old, but time does not seem to follow the same rules as…what?” Shi’ar asked.
“The human race is not that old.”
“Sure it is, this reality is a bit skewed, and you should not trust your sciences too much, remember a magical destruction would not leave evidence your science could understand.”
“But as I was saying, the sky changed and lightening came. I used my magic to send my friend away and I may have created a bond with her though I may never know, this form is similar to her human one. When I was struck in the storm I felt no pain at simply attributed it to my nature. It was raining and I did not notice anything at first then I sensed the fading of my child.
“I could not allow such a thing, and when I came upon her I used the old bonding magics.”
“That’s what I saw,” Glenn said quietly. “Sera you mother was on a Virgin Atlantic flight that crashed, I had been commissioned to help identify the bodies. There was one body I had been avoiding, of a very pregnant woman, when the phoenix burst into the room. Flames consumed everything and when I looked there was a little pink baby wriggling on the slab before she let out a wail that could wake the dead.”
Sera blinked staring at her father. “You, mean I was dead?”
“You were dying, but what was keeping you alive was your magic, if you were human you would have already passed it is why the mortals did not know.”
“If you bonded with Sera at birth, does that mean you granted her immortality?”
“That is not the way a soul bond works, the magics were built to work a certain way. I am not sure what has happened. One of the reasons that we did not participate in soul bounds was not to keep our immortality in place. It was built to share the life span of the bonder. I may have been made mortal.”
“Or Sera immortal,” Lord Nova hedged eyeing her speculatively.
“Or a lovely modgepodge of the two. So what are you saying you were from an alternate dimension?”
“I am not sure Sera, this world shares some things and is horribly wrong in others, I think there was more afoot in my appearance then there should have been. I should not have been drawn to you but you felt like my child. Your magic felt like Alasia and I was drawn strongly to you in multiple ways. We were already joined before I even began to suspect something might be wrong.”
“Does this bother you?”
“I am here now Sera, and this a grand adventure to embark on. I ca not wait to see how it all turns out.”
“You are interesting. Life is never dull around you, and your magic does not follow the boring rule. Its interesting here. You have weres and Incubi and Jinn. We had vampires but they were all stupid except for this one lord.”
“Are you telling me you have control of all four elements?” Lord Nova asked.
“Yeah,” Joshie why do you smell like blood?”
“None of it is mine, you know that machete I keep under the bar? It had quite the workout.”
“What about the bodies and such?” Sera asked.
“Mother is already cleaning it up. Its one of her less preferred duties as the queen of America. She has to clean up her people’s messes. She whines about it so much you would think she actually had to do something more than pick up a phone.”
“Whiny brat huh?” Sera asked looking around to see where her father had disappeared off to. She spotted him in the kitchen feeding Lucky who somehow had jumped atop the kitchen island.
“That’s one way to put it,” Joshua said with a sigh. “So how exactly did you fight off your weres?”
“Yeah see that’s where things get strange,” Sera said. She began telling the story of the attack, with her eyes closed so she never noticed the growing horror and awe of the men around her. It was not until she mentioned that they had all been wearing fire amulets that she was reminded how much danger she had been in; she was grabbed by her father and held in a tight hug that he did not seem to want to release anytime soon.
She opened her eyes surprised and saw the worried look that even came from Lord Nova. Now there was a surprise.
“Even at this slow speed you were mentioning you were having difficulty, if there had been a fourth that move would have never worked. Weres are also incredibly fast, if the charging one had caught on you would have had been pinned between the two with a third easily able to do as he pleased. Which with the numbers they sent to these two,” he said while gesturing to Joshua and Adam, “was to eliminate you.
“I got that,” Sera said calmly.
“I do not think you do, if you had been a normal fire child you most likely would have been dead. They had disabled you most powerful weapon as far as they knew. Do you know any combat?”
“Some, I tried to pick it up a couple of times when I was younger but the speed was always off. And I was something of an clumsy oaf.”
“Sera you shot up nearly a foot in under a year, you went from the shortest to the tallest, of course you were a bit clumsly your center of gravity was off, it probably did not help that was around the same time you started locking things away,” Glenn said as he sat down next to Joshua but did not release his daughter.
Sera waved her hand turning the coffee table into a love seat ignoring the spike of pain from her mind.
“Stop being foolish,” Shi’ar said, and Sera smiled slightly feeling the presence in her mind once again.
“I’m just tired of looking up,” she mumbled aloud.
Adam, Lord Nova, and Salil all took their seats before Lord Nova continued his talk.”
“I can fence, and I learned a couple of things to do with a knife from Daniel.”
“Little Daniel? With the large glasses?”
“Little Daniel’s uncle was some Pilipino knife fighter. He taught me a couple things on the basis that I was a girl and it could be a lucky shot that happen to be deadly.”
“I want to teach you,” Lord Nova said without preamble.
“Teach me what?”
“Sword work, I’ve already taught Joshua. I can also teach you. As well as knife work when it would be impractical to move about with a sword.”
“Oh you mean everyday?” Sera asked with a raised brow.
Lord Nova smiled and Sera’s eyes widened. She peered over at Joshua. “Is he smiling at me?”
Joshua laughed. “Yes. What do you think?”
“It makes him look like Ali.”
“Ali?” Glenn asked.
“Joshie’s little brother, he’s adorable, and probably what he looked like when he was four,” she said gesturing Lord Nova.
“I do not recall.”
“What kind of teaching are we talking about?”
“When I am done with you you will be able to fight with two blades of any kind and move silently and deadly and not even being human will be a disadvantage. Salil can help you work with the time distortion.”
“Its clear you altered time to a degree, weres are much faster than humans. So I am going to assume if you were in the same fight with humans you could most likely leave the site of the attack before they realized it.”
“Hmm. Okay now down to serious business, wait where’s Ali?”
“Upstairs, sleeping,” Joshua explained. “What is the serious business?”
“Okay does some one actually think these idiots will not try again?” Sera asked with a frown, sitting up slightly so she could see Salil and Lord Nova, Adam slightly blocked from her vision by her father’s arm.
“So people the question becomes what do we do now?”
“They would not be able to break into my home, but the fact that they know where it is disturbs me. I will relocate. I suppose I can deal with New York for a time maybe California.”
“Where do you live?”
“How did you find him if you did not know where he was?” Lord Nova asked.
“I was looking for him not a place.”
“But that is not how…is that how you found Ali?”
“I used you; I did not find him you did. I was holding your hand to bring you and to know who I was looking for. I can find places too but people are easy.”
“But that is not how it is supposed to work.”
“No one taught me, I just went with it,” Sera said.
“Do not bother,” Glenn said with a grin. “She was a rule breaker from day one.”
“Whatever dad,” Sera said. “But seriously how are we going to find out who these people are and how to wipe them off the face of the earth.”
“Well first you two will not be traveling alone,” Lord Nova said pointing at Sera than Adam.
“I understand why she would need a second guard. Why would one be necessary for myself?”
“I understand Sera escaped with you. You could not take on the weres.”
“I had already disabled six, I did not realize their regenerative skills were so high. I had just decided on deception when she arrived. It was not my decision to leave.”
“Sorry Mr. Snooty,” Sera snapped in irritation. “I’m sorry if I did not want to let them ransack my house.”
“I did not mean…” Joshua raised a hand to stop Adam’s attempt.
“You knew they were here?”
“I think so, I had just drawn a sword with Adam when I just had to go home. Like right that second, It would have been interesting to try out a flaming Scimitar. Well I suppose the amulets would have kept them from burning.”
“What kind of human are you? You sound almost uncaring about taking life,” Lord Nova remarked.
“I’m not uncaring.”
“Yeah this is the girl who saves kittens from being street pizza and is out for three days at a time.”
“Then why are you not concerned with taking the lives of the weres.”
“Uh because I’m more important to me? Some idiot trying to kill me does not get a free pass to try again. I have read the evil overlord list thank you. No last words, requests, or a chance to fight again. And I sure as hell will not be fair about it. I will lie, cheat, and steal to win. I’m human they are not.”
“So if a human attacked you?”
“That’s really too bad for them and I guess the SciFi network will have a chance to do another study on spontaneous human combustion.”
“That’s hardly fair.”
“I ca not shoot a gun, you think that’s gonna make a mugger drop it and decide oh I will not use a gun on you that’s not fair? Yeah right. Tell another, I prefer the American way thanks.”
“Joshua said something very similar earlier.”
“Yeah who do you think taught it to him? Fair, Truth Justice and the American way? Implying the American way is neither truth nor justice, makes sense when you look at our politics. So a little deception, forgery, bribery, and out and out corruption. Come on Robber Barons? The whole native American deal? Please with are self serving, self important, arrogant, bastards and I would not have it any other way.”
“I thought you were a New Yorker not an American.”
“In that case add, impatient and well its true. You do not get to be the capital of the world cause you’re quaint.”
“There are people afraid of coming to New York.”
“You know what those people are? Stupid. Now stop changing the subject. Do you really expect me to walk around everywhere with an armed escort? Please, I will how ever not be taken by surprise again.”
“What are you going to do?” Glenn asked.
“Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.”
“Dad,” she replied into the same scolding tone. She shut her eyes and reached her hand forward having it vanish in a rent in the air. Pulling back she had an ice crusted amulet.
She smiled darkly at her father and placed the amulet on the floor. “Okay fine not Johnny Cash.”
“I do not understand.”
“Sera has particular songs, that are like opening the floodgates. The last time she sang Johnny Cash she eradicated an order building, wards, metal, concrete and all.”
“How long were you out after that?”
“Not at all,” Sera said and ignored her friends shock. She peered at the amulet and its place on the floor and drew a circle around it that became a cylinder that was slightly transparent. The pendant floated within the sphere at eye level and her father’s arm tightened around her.
“Do not worry dad, its, useful and decorative. Nothing can get out from it but I can send stuff in.” She did just that having it engulfed in her basic flame. The ice melted in an instant but when she dissipated the flame nothing had happened to the amulet, or the cord that held it.
Sera peered at this in interests oblivious to the fact that she was the center of attention in the room. Her father watching her with nervous apprehension, Lord Nova and Salil watching in interest while Adam seemed to share Sera’s expression of thoughtfulness though if he was looking at her or the amulet was anyone’s guess.
Joshua slowly made his way down the stairs to his mother’s study. He could hear the hushed voices of her and her consort. Her latest one in the last decade, he did not understand why the men were all willing to be used and discarded but it was not his problem.
“You called for me mother?” Joshua asked calmly, though internally he was a bit worried. His mother never sent him a formal request for his presence, they tended to drift to one another before the day ended. Their talks were on a variety of topics, from politics, his lessons, and even the prophecy and what he thought it meant.
“Yes I have received some news and it changes everything.”
“What is the news mother? What is changing?” He asked glancing at the smirking consort with slight irritation. He was sure the man was smiling because he knew what was happening while Joshua was left in the dark.
“Congratulations mother!: Joshua exclaimed moving forward to embrace her. Not noticing at first the stiffness of the hug or the fact that she did not return it. Pulling away he saw her frown. “Is something wrong? Will the baby be alright? Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?”
“It is a boy, and it is fine.”
“What needs to change? I understand children are demanding, but you have the servants and your consort to help. I will help as well.”
“No you will not.”
“Why not? I know I do not have much experience with children but I can learn, and I have time. You are not showing at all, I must have months at least.”
“You do not understand. You will not help because you will not be here.”
“Why would I not? Am I going somewhere in your place?” Joshua asked.
“No, Joshua I have always spoken the truth to you have I not?”
“Of course you have mother,” Joshua said not understanding where this was going.
“Yes and I told you, your birth was an abomination. Against my choice and the nature of all that is proper in the world.” Joshua frowned, though more from his confusion then the words against him.
“Well this child, this child will be a pure were. Would not that child be a much more suitable candidate for fulfilling the prophecy?”
“I suppose, does this mean I no longer need to fulfill the prophecy?” Joshua asked with almost eager anticipation.
“Nor do you need to continue to be my son.”
“What?” Joshua now totally confused asked sure he had misheard or misunderstood.
“You are not deaf, you have a were’s hearing despite your abomination. You are no longer my son. You would have been killed at birth if you had been the child of anyone else. Such things as yourself have no place in proper society.
“I have some affection for you so I will not be cruel. You have three days to pack your belongings. And though you are no longer my son you will retain my protection. At least for now.”
“I am not your mother, but I am still your queen and this is my word and my word is law.”
Joshua did not know how he made it out of the room and back into his own before his legs gave way under him. This had been his home for over a century, he had no idea where he could go or what he could do. Sobbing he collapsed against his bed even as he knew he could not do this.
He knew his mother well enough to know that if he did not leave before the three days was up, he would most like be locked up as free meat for when the full moon rose. He had no desire to be hunted by the pack. He knew the friendships he had formed would never last under the wrath of the queen.
Sitting up and calming his breathing he wiped his face and ignored the tears that continued to fall. They would do nothing to help him and now he needed to use everything he knew about his mother to get him out of this house alive and safe.
He could not eat anything he was given and he needed to move out of her immediate sphere of strong influence. It meant the nearest town would be of no use to him. An entire town of weres would be the last place he wanted to be. No one there would aid him at risk of angering the queen and if he starved to death in the street, it would not be a direct violation of her word unless she felt like punishing someone in the town.
His mother’s laws were fair when they suited her and worded in such a way that she could decide that you were breaking them with a twisting of words. Not helping him could be considered harming him or it could be considered going against the word of the queen.
He opened his closet and looked at his clothing; he needed strong sturdy clothing if as he believed he would be spending a large amount of time going through the woods. He began filling a pack with jeans, warm sweaters, and long sleeved shirts. He threw in some cooler clothing on the off chance he was on his own for months.
He entered his adjoining bathroom and took his soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Stripping out of his clothing he looked at his soap and shook his head. He went back into his room and lifted the loose floorboard under his bed. Taking out his journals and sticking them in the sack as well, he also pulled out the sealed package of soap. It was a cinnamon scent that he had never used before that should be enough to throw off any trackers that his mother decided to send after him.
He took the shower and even washed his hair with it, hoping it would be enough to mask his scent. He then took out, some scentless products to comb his hair and put on deodorant. He decided to dress in layers since it was early fall and he did not know what the weather would be like over the next few days or weeks.
He sprayed his clothing with a cologne that his mother’s consort used. He had gotten one for every consort his mother had, discarding it when she discarded the consort and had even decided that he did not need it any more. Whatever event that he feared happening was just not going to happen. He was glad he had ignored that part of himself.
Looking around the room he wondered what else he could take. He had a sleeping bag and small tent in the room somewhere, searching he found both and packed the tent and the sleeping bag. He also packed some rain gear and put on his hiking boots packing away his sneakers for later.
Going through random points in his room he pulled out money noticing some of the hiding places had been found. But even with that he had saved nearly a thousand dollars. Not a lot when he did not know where he was going to do or what he would do and he decided that half had to be set aside for food. Hunting would be easy for him one night a month but he did not know what game or other weres would be where he ended up.
And one thing he was certain about was that he would be killed if he revealed what he was when the moon rose. People would assume it was the same as his mother as he was only half were and if he did that she would most likely hunt him down herself.
Looking around the room he tried to make sure he had everything he wanted. He checked all the drawers, and pulled out some underwear and socks wondering how he could have forgotten such a thing. He saw his crown and after a moments hesitation decided to take it. If for no other reason to infuriate his mother, and if things got really bad for him he supposed he could pawn them.
With that in mind he pulled out a leather messenger bag, and filled it with the various jewelry and valuable gifts he had received through the years and never used. He could use this pack to carry food as well. Slipping out of his room he went to the kitchen surprised to see that hours had passed. He wondered how long he had actually spent wallowing in his own misery.
He went into the pantry going for canned goods in the back of the pantry. He ignored all his favorites and took things that he could not stand to eat and that might not be missed for a day or two. He ignored all the fresh foods and took it as a sign that he had not been called down for dinner. He took a couple boxes of dried pasta, sniffed some dried meat, that smelled lacking, he had no further words for it and left it where it was.
He stole a manual can opener from the drawer and as an after thought some utensils including a large knife. Making his way back up to his room just as quietly, he looked at the clock and sealing his bags and placing them on the bed with him he climbed into bed after setting his alarm. He stood suddenly and went over to his door and locked it spreading his box of silver marbles across the floor. He locked his window, and placed tape across the glass before closing the curtain.
He then climbed back into bed and stuck his alarm under his pillow. When he woke the son was just peeking over the horizon, he looked at his security measures and none had been disturbed. He was sure now that his mother did not know he was already ready to depart and was waiting for him to come begging for her forgiveness.
She seemed to forget that she had raised him and he knew her ways inside and out and would not fall for something as inane as that. He had her protection for the next three days or until she decided otherwise. Which would be the moment she realized he was gone. He had set his alarm for 5:00am and he could tell glancing out his window the sun would not rise for maybe another twenty minutes.
He took his clothing into the bath with him after hanging all the layers he had been wearing back into his closet after shaking them a bit. Heading into the bathroom he took a shower with his usual soap before wrapping it in paper and placing the cinnamon soap on the ledge of his bathroom window.
Getting dressed he made his way back to his bed and saw the first starts of sunrise. Slipping on his large pack and smaller bag he opened the door stepping over his balls and as a last minute decision slipped a handful into his pocket. He stepped back into his room to his desk and quickly drafted a letter. Sealing it he placed it under the secret floor board and wondered if it would ever be found.
Walking out of the front door of his home, he realized he had not taken a picture of it, his mother or anything else. He thought about it for a moment and realized he did not want any of these things. He took the road that lead out of his is mother’s immediate property ignoring the nearby woods. There would be were guards there and that would defeat the purpose of spreading the scent of cinnamon all over his bedroom just to be recently scented by a guard.
He took the road away from, the town and began to head north. He moved at a were’s pace ignoring rules about secrecy as he ran impossibly fast across the shoulder of the road just barely touching the woods. So close to the highway he knew that the scents of gasoline and exhaust and even burning rubber and asphalt would deter some trackers. He simply tried to breathe through the scents so he would know when he had were company. Every time a car appeared on the road he drifted further into the woods pulling his hat down close over his eyes before drifting back to the road. He continued to head towards the interstate knowing that he did not want any cars coming out of Hunter spotting him. They would happily tell the Queen where they had spotted him north on I87 and wondered if this was not a bad idea. When he finally reached the highway he glanced at his watch and saw that it was only a quarter to six.
Running along the road he picked up speed, getting out of the mountains and the surrounding woods the most daunting area of his journey. While he could not run on the high way itself he could move quickly along the side of the road at a speed that could match some cars.
Stopping when he reached a huge hub of life he decided it would be a good place to stop for breakfast. Stopping at a place called Wolf Road Diner with a smirk he took a seat at the bar placing his pack at his feet and settling his bag with his cans and money in his lap.
Welcome to the Wolf Road diner. Can I get you something to start? Drink?”
“Orange juice would be fine,” Joshua said as the cook in the back fiddled with a radio.
“……want to wake up in the city that never sleeps
To find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap
These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York…”
Joshua smiled as the glass of juice was placed before him even as he looked around. Most of the patrons seemed dressed for work.
“Let me guess, you are going to New York?”
“Yeah,” Joshua said with a smile.
“Been there before?”
“A long time ago with my mother,” he said softly a frown crossing his features with the thoughts of his mother. They had pretended to be brother and sister, and her consort who had aged to his mid twenties had been their uncle, for any normals who had approached him.
“Are not you cutting it a little close? I know the airport is just right up the road a ways but the flight is in twenty minutes.” Joshua glanced up at the clock and blinked. He could be on a 6:30am flight to New York City. They would never find him there. He could still remember his mother complaining about all the smells and how stuffy the subway had been when they rode the INRT.
“Yeah you’re right, can you throw together a bacon egg and cheese sandwich for me to go? I just go up that way right?”
“No no, you head right up Wolf road, if you hit Marcus you are going the wrong way, turn towards the highway and just follow Shaker for a bit and you’ll hit the airport.”
“Okay thanks,” Joshua said even as he was presented with a wrapped sandwich. He carefully pulled out a ten dollar bill and paid leaving a dollar as a tip. He hefted on his pack and once out the door ran towards the airport arriving in about two minutes. He was happy to learn he had enough money to pay for the flight without making a substantial hole in his finances and since he only had carry ons, he got on the flight to New York with minutes to spare wondering if anyone in his house even knew that he was gone yet.
Terra wondered what the young prince had done to anger the queen but knew better than to ask. She slipped the sleeping potion into his drink and his eggs. Being a were it would only knock him out for an hour but that would give them more than enough time to move him into a holding area in the mountains.
She wondered if he would be used as food or just held there as punishment. Well he was her son and the child of the prophecy, it would most likely be just as punishment. They could not kill him, it would damn their entire race.
She had received her orders late last night, and now she was preparing the food accordingly, as much as she did not want to she did not dare disobey her queen. It could very well be the last thing that she ever did in this life.
She climbed the stairs to Joshua’s room, like she did every morning and knocked waiting for him to answer. It was seven as usual but there was always the chance he may be asleep this time. Waiting a few moments she finally decided to use the permission she always granted him to enter the room. As it was she was lucky she was a were and that there had been a clear spot when she stepped onto the Silver balls Joshua liked to play with. Even with her balance the some of the juice spilled onto her arm.
She looked about the room for a moment and could see things missing already. Making a quick decision she decided it was worth the risk, and she could not be blamed, she drank the glass of juice, after placing the breakfast on the desk where Joshua usually ate unless with his mother who rarely rose this early.
She hoped an hour was enough time as she began to feel the effects of the drug and wondered why the room smelled like cinnamon before smiling at Joshua’s cunning. She would do everything she could to help. Terra’s last thoughts were of rain before she passed out.
“Look, she’s coming too,” a voice said and Terra moaned wishing she had at least, aimed for a soft landing. The bruise would be gone in another hour or so but it hurt at the moment.
She looked around and saw she was still in Joshua’s bedroom. Glad that he was the earliest riser in the house she was surprised to see it was the transporters waking her.
“What is going on?”
“When you did not return to the kitchen we thought to give you some time as he may not have taken the drink or food. We thought a quarter of an hour would be time enough as if he saw one of us it may make him flee without taking it angering the queen. We found you like this and no sign of the prince. I sent someone to alert the queen they have yet to return and I stayed to see when you would wake.”
Terra nodded looking at the window and wishing she had thought to throw it open, but it was not too much of a concern, the pervading scent was still cinnamon something the prince never wore.
“I do not understand what happened,” Terra began, deciding to keep her story simple. “When I came in with breakfast he was so angry. He demanded that I drink his juice and taste the eggs. I tried to calm him and he would not speak to me if I did not drink and eat. Finally I did, I had hoped that a sip would calm him but he demanded all. Then he stood and watched me.”
“Then what happened?”
“I noticed he smelled of cinnamon and I asked him why he was using a new scent, he simply smiled and that is the last thing I remember,” Terra said quietly.
“Do you think it some new test of the Queen’s?”
“I do not know, she simply told us to take him to the holding caves for the hunt.”
“But she would not really have him as prey? Not with him being the child of the prophecy?”
“I do not begin to suppose I know the mind of our queen, I only know what my orders are like you. I do not understand what is taking so long,” he said even as his partner returned with the current consort.”
“Why is he here?”
“He said he speaks for the queen in this.”
“Did the queen make this announcement and I was simply dead? No one speaks for the queen but the queen.”
“You must go hunt him down! He can not be left alive.”
The two transporters crossed their arms though the one that had been speaking to Terra moved to help her to her feet his head gesturing for her to leave.
“You are not the queen and we do not take orders from you unless I hear from the queen’s mouth that you speak for her I will not believe it. You are not the first consort and you will not be the last. Do not believe for a moment if gives you power.” The transporter snapped as Terra moved down the hall. Heading for the queen’s quarters, she was surprised to see her sitting up in bed a look of slight confusion on her face.
“Hurry my queen, you must come, silently!” Terra whispered wincing when she saw the anger cross the queen’s face though she moved so quickly her robe was on and she was at Terra’s side before she had even begun her bow. The queen gripped her tightly and she ran out of the room back towards Joshua the queen outpacing her the moment she knew where they were heading.
The transporters and the consort did not notice the queen and their argument continued.
“I said he must be found and killed, and you dare question me?”
“You want me to hunt down the queen’s son on your word? I would rather go on a crusade to find the elves.”
“You are nothing but the queen’s current bed warmer; I have never heard such nonsense. You speak for the queen on nothing.”
“How dare you! I will be her king!”
“You will be my what?” The queen snarled brining the consort down to his knees with a blow that broke a leg.
“Please, my love, they allowed Joshua to escape.”
“And instead of calling me to know what my desire is on this situation you decided you must know.”
“Well you wanted to place him in the cave, so of course you wanted him dead.”
The queen’s face darkened and her eyes took on a glint so malicious that everyone in the hall but the kneeling consort took a step back. “Since you know my mind so well what am I thinking?”
“My Queen, I am the father of your child…”
“And that concerns me how? Did you see me bow down and offer my throne to Lord Nova? Because he got me with child? Your use has passed,” she said twisted his head and snapping the bones in his neck.
“Take him to the cave, when he heals let him know that he is to be devoured in the hunt.”
“With pleasure,” the transporter said lifting the limp body.
“What about the prince?” the other asked.
“You will not find him,” the queen said in irritation. “I should have expected this, no matter the blood I raised him,” she added walking off.
Terra stared after her Queen wondering what this meant but deciding after what had just happened to the consort that she was not in the mood to be questioned. She was lucky the queen seemed to have forgotten the way she had woken her and she would not push her luck any further.
As much as she wanted to know, what happened Joshua it might just have to end up being a mystery of the house. She decided instead to warn others not to bring his name up for the time being and to prepare for a celebration, contingent on when the queen actually declared it, but the early preparations could be done now and they would go a long way if she wanted to make it an enormous gala.
She wondered, as she headed down to the kitchen if she still had the list of the foods the Queen preferred to eat when she was pregnant. Some of the items would take weeks to get a hold of and she would rather not be caught empty handed. As it was she would see if she could add to the number of pomegranates that were shipped to the house on a regular basis.
Incubus – Red Streak
Some will write your passion
Though you try pain
As though it’s going out of fashion
You point the blame
Ignite your passion
Make your fame
At this point
But just another’s pain
I say feed your passion
For to them it tastes the same
Some will write your passion
Though you try pain
As though it’s going out of fashion
You point the blame
They feed on it and devour you
Exist on it
But trust me you will enjoy
Being their toy
A snack of your passion
A meal of your joy
Some will write your passion
Though you try pain
As though it’s going out of fashion
You point the blame
Joshua’s Journal – Mother
Cold blue eyes
Spun golden blond hair
Innocence in deception
Believe her lies and
And get tied
You will be put in the hunt
You will be dragged and you will be done
She will devour you
With her beastly claws
Beauty only skin deep
A Demon is what you are.
When Joshua got off the plane and into the terminal he had no idea what to do with himself. He wandered JFK for a while, watching what other travelers did, and jumped on an idea.
Glad that he knew an abundance of languages he approached a taxi. “Hola, habla espanol?” (hi, do you speak Spanish?)
“Si.?Donde usted desea ir?” (yes where do you wish to go?)
“Necissta ir a un hotel, en la cuidad de Nueva York.” (I need a hotel in New York city)
“Tengo mucho, tiene un idea de un hotel?”
“Un hotel en, el aldea del este? Mis amigos dicen que es bueno.” (A hotel in the east village? My friends say that its good.)
“Lo conosco.” (I know it)
“De Nada.” (its nothing)
Joshua climbed into the car and wondered who he would find in the village. It had been close to 50 years since the last time he had been there but he hoped it was still a hotbed for others. While he did not want to meet Weres as they were all under the control of his mother he had no interest to interact with those that were totally human either.
While he rode with the cabby he mentally worked on his story, deciding on the story of a Spanish were that had come to visit and pay respect to the queen as he was from the King of Spain’s court. He had been traveling across the United states and had stayed with them a few days after visiting New York City, he had cemented some of the things Joshua had learned when traveling there even though it had been during the roaring twenties and he had been there in the seventies.
He watched the terrain pass through the windows, as much as he could see from the highway, and stared at the Manhattan skyline. He sat back somewhat in awe and wished he had a camera, but he would not spend his money on something so frivolous only to starve to death.
When the cabby pulled up in front of a hotel called the St. Mark’s Joshua nodded and paid the amount for the cab wincing slightly. With that and the cost of his flight his money was dwindling much faster than his mental calculations had first assumed.
Joshua was on his last twenty and he was worried. He was near panic. He did not know what he was going to do for money and it was getting dark and he was getting hungry. He was radiating waves of panic as he made his way through Central Park. He had spent the night on the subway the night before but the constant movment made him nervous and kept him awake. He had also been worried about someone robbing him.
It had been bad enough when the moon rose, he had stayed in central park and it had been the most horrible moon rise he could ever remember. He had not wanted, to be caught and even withother werees and had mostly huddled under a tree. In his were form. He had pondered growing older but he was not sure if his mother would approve.
He wished he had stayed out in the park when the nights had been warmer in early october instead of spending hundreds of dollars on his hotel, watching people go in and out and hearing what they did in various rooms. He had truly cursed his were hearing then.
Stumbling along the path he wondered what he could do for money. He still had a couple of cans in his bag and he had found ways to get food but now he was worried about staying warm. He may have to pawn some of the items he had. But when he had gone to one of the shops with the a ruby ring that he did not even particulary like, he had been told he could only get $300 for it. A ring he knew was worth thousands.
He had thanked the propritor and walked out sure he was being followed. He had decided then to get on the train and out of that neighborhood as quickly as possible. He had made his way uptown and disappeared into the crowd in times square for a couple hours wandering broadway, and dipping into a resturant before he finally felt safe.
Now he made his way, across the sheeps meadow and wondered where he could go. He froze when someone crossed his path, he had not even scented them coming and took a step back.
He looked at the taller man with another just as tall standing at his side. He took a step back and got a good look at the man. Long black hair and purple eyes, his skin was so pale he looked like it was white makeup instead of flesh, but he could see splashes of pink across his cheeks and his nose was slightly red which lead Joshua to believe he was just recently someplace warm. That and the well fitted suit, led Joshua to believe he had money as well, and this was a conversation he had had before.
“Look, I’m not interested. Ok I was just waliking here.”
“Have you been propsed?”
“Yes, god what is with people.”
“It may just be that they are sensing your nature Joshua.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know a lot of things about you.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Lord Nova but you can calll me father.”
“You!” Joshua back pedaled quickly wondering what he could do to get away from this man. Would he want to do to him what he had done to his mother? Would he want Joshua to join him in his depravity? How had he even found him?
“Joshua, why are you panicing so?”
“Why am I panicing? Why am I panicing?! You raped my mother, because of that I was born. But now that she’s having a kid she actually wants that’s a full were she has decided that she is done with me.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you care? Its not like you wanted me any more than she did. At leasts she was with me for over a century. Where were you?”
“Following your mother’s orders, I never suspected she would speack such lies. Incubi do not abadon their children. Do you know how many children I have?”
“Fourteen, I know where each one is and their general state of mind. I knew you were happy so i was not concerned with why you were in New York. I supposed you were vacationing with your mother. But lately you have been displaying extremly large degreeds of panic. Of course I was concered. We have few children for the thousands of years that we live. I am actually an anomoly with the number of children I have.”
“What are you saying,” Joshua asked having a very bad feeling about this.
“That wench lied to you. What are you doing in Central Park of all places at this time of night. It is a dangerous place to spend the night even for a were.”
“Well I did not have many options, I was running out of money, the police are more diligent about patroling washington square park and i find brooklyn horribly confusing.”
“Yes the grid pattern of this little isle is execeptionally useful. Why did you not contact me?”
“Why would I? All I knew was your name and what you did to my mothher why would I want to contact you.”
“I will explain this to you just once.”
“What really happened between your mother and I. Did she tell you it was party she threw at her place?”
“She said it was at yours, how else would you have been able to take advantange of the queen in such a way.”
“Did she ever associate with me again?”
“Why would she want to?”
“So I could not possibly know that your home is hidden from peering mortals by a wood, with no direct road unless you have the magic to see past the glamor of trees? Or have been given the password, I see the forest from the trees?”
“But you ca not know that.”
“I was a guest, it was a party thrown, to celebrate the death of the last Nosferatu in the Americas. Your queen had made it her duty to eridicate the savage race as they pit her people in danger and it was not something she was willing to abide. Too many of their attacks had been written off as the attack of a wild dog of some sort.”
“Someone could have told you.”
“What about this?” Lord Nova said pulling an image out of his pocket. It was an image of a very young Joshua. Maybe all of ten years old and the writing on the back was clearly his mothers.
“Enjoy the image, it is as close as you will ever get to me. He is mine, as child of the prophecy you will have the were nations of the world huniting if you try take him away from me. Its too bad incubi have such a love for their children. You would not dare put him at risk.”
Joshua read the note starrring at his father. “But why would she do that?” He asked trying to come to grips with the fact that something that he thought was a universal truth in his life was a lie.
“Because I embarrased her and worse yet she enjoyed it.”
“Your mother did not fully understand the ranking of Incubi. There are no kings, just Lords and Ladies. She believed that I was a low ranking lord and she wagered that I could not inspire pasion in her.”
“I am not Lord Nova for nothing. She saw stars, in the middle of that great hall you have, right against one of the pillars. She was enraged.”
“Why would she say that?”
“You have known your mother much longer than I why would she do such a thing?”
“Loyalty,” Joshua said without a second thought. “Power, because she could there are various reasons with mother.”
“Let us get out of here and back to somewhere warm, she will pay for this.”
“You ca not hurt her, she’s pregnant.”
“So that is why she decided she did not need you any more? Let me guess one of her harem knocked her up?”
“Her latest consort, he is annoying.”
“And now you no longer matter,” Lord Nova said with a sneer, opening the door to the limo as Salil climbed into the front seat. Shaking his head he made hsi way into the limo. “The fact that she could not even bother to tell you the truth now that she no longer wants you simply infuriates me more. She knows I would take you in.”
“I’m not sure I was supposed to get away alive.”
“Well she told me I had three days to get out of her sight and for now I still held her protection.”
“I see what did you do?”
“I did not spend over a century with my mother without learning to read her. I know I only had her protection until she decided otherwise and if I was actually present after three days I would most likely become free meat if not sooner. The fourth day was the full moon.
“So I put into place my contigency plan. I always had a feeling she would bite off more than she could chew. It was a plan for the both of us but I knew I could not tell her about it because she would be upset though if I told her about it when she needed it she would be happy with it.”
“What did this plan involve Lord Nova asked in interest.”
“Well I pretended to change my scent to cinnamon then went through my room packing my things. Then I gathered some food in the kitchen and went to sleep since someone if they were watching would expect me to leave right away after stealing the food. Near dawn is the easiest time, I took another shower with my regular soap and left the cinnamon scented clothes behind. The guards get really bored near dawn, maybe they are still thinking of vampires. But I also did not sneak out. I simply walked out the front door.
“I ran out along the road to use cars and exhaust to help disguise my scent. I ran to Albany and when I got there I went to a diner that gave me the idea to come to New York. I caught the 6:30am flight to JFK airport and was in the air long before I usually get out of bed.”
“I see, and since she told you I was the devil you came to make it on your own in New York City.”
“You know if I can make it here I can make it anywhere.”
“You are not allowed to listen to musicals.”
“So you are going to be that kind of father huh?” Joshua asked with a grin.
“What do you mean?” Lord Nova asked shaking his head with a smirk.
“You are smirking, I see it.”
“I’m taking you home, the next time that bitch sees you she will be sorry. Is there anyting you really want to do?”
“This is going to be strange, I’ve heard that its strange, but I really want to go to school. I want to meet people my own age, even if they are normals. I want to meet people who do not bow to me.”
“Well we can do that. The school year has already started so you can start next year. There are many acceptable schools in the city. And I am sure we can get you into one.”
“I’d like to meet a lot of different people if that is possible as well.”
“Oh I think I have just the school for you. It is a mixed of norms and others as well as nearly every race you can find in the city. You have to take an exam to enter the school but I’m sure you can do it.”
“Where is it?”
“Its in Brooklyn. Its one of three schools that use this exam. You have a year to prepar more or less, the test is in spring. It will give time to create documents for you and place you in the system and make sure you are technology at the same level as your fellow classmates.
“Do you have a computer?”
“I kept trying to get mother to order one but she saw no use for the inferal device as she called it.”
“That is a foolish idea to have, they will be very important in a few years I can see it. We will prepare you. You did not leave that compound often.”
“The last time I left was in 1984 for a trip to Flordia. We went to Disney World. It was fun except that we had to pretend to be brother and sister all the time. It was strange to call my mother by her given name.”
“I can imagine. I will not make her pay yet but one day she will.”
“Just leave her alone.”
“You do not understand. One of the most important things to Incubi are their children. The fact that she would have tried to kill you or that she left you to go out and fend for yourself is unacceptable how dare she do such a thing to you. You are my child as well as hers and it is about time she remebers that.”
“You are mostly my youngest, and its about time you learned about your heritage. Who knows what other lies she has been feeding you.”
“Do you have to rape people to feed?”
“No, that would be completly pointless, succubi feed on pleasure. Pleasure comes in many forms. One of your sisters is a chef, she feeds on the enjoyment of a good meal. That is just one example of the form that our feeding can take. Sexual is just the form that most normals are aware of because of stories and such. It is the most obvious to a degree.
“You would not expect someone is feeding off your enjoyment of a good meal or that someone is feeding off your passion for adventure. There are many passions, and even those of a sexual nature like myself have secondary feeding charachteristics where we can feed vicariously.”
“I own a chain of hotels with the best honeymoon suites. My best meals are fresh passion. That is easy, being with me for the first time is a fresh passion. Being with your husband for the first time is a heady meal. I partake in. It is like having a delicacy. Also the older you are the less you have to feed.”
“Well will I?”
“You are very young, both phsically and as in years as incubi. My youngest son before you is a little over six hundred. Also it does not seem that your incubus powers have been fully awakened. You may have to age another year or two before that happens, but if you go to school we must hold off on that for a couple years. We do not want you to have to adjust to being around such a large group of people as well as having to deal with the uncontrolable attraction you will cause.
“Though high school is somewhat of a cliche for such a place.”
“Well its not like any other part of my life has been a cliche or anything,” Joshua muttered scarcastically.
“Of course not, would you rather stay at a house or a penthouse?”
“You have both?”
“I have never been to one.”
“Penthouse it is.”
The limo ride continued on in silence and Joshua had no idea that he fell asleep. Lord Nova watched Joshua pushing his hair out of his eyes mentally imagining the damage he could cause the American Queen. He had been overrulled by all the Incubus Lords and Ladies as well as th other were royalty when he wanted to forcably claim Joshua as his child.
If he could somehow secretly deal with her he would in a heart beat but for now it was not worth the cost of Joshua’s trust. When they pulled up infront of his penthouse he carefully removed the bags from Joshua and lifted him into his arms.
“Take his bags, Salil please,” Lord Nova said ignoring the looks the door man gave him.”