For Better or Worse - part 4

For Better or Worse

When Tom married his wife, he truly believed the love they shared would pull them throught any problems that may come their way, but what happens when you discover the one you married was not even human?

~o~O~o~

Written by Nuuan
Copyright © 2017 by Nuuan

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

~o~O~o~

Chapter 23

“What the hell is this!” Jebril screamed at the women standing in front of him. Kirsee cringed while Merla and Cara stood tall, the fourth a little winged girl with raptor like feet and heavy claws for hands that looked to be no older than three years old hid behind Cara peeking around the side at the angry man.

“Kirsee said you wanted me?” Cara stated.

“Yes I did but I wanted to try to talk some sense into you before you did something stupid!” Jebril continued yelling, “I see it’s too late for that now!” Glaring daggers at Merla, “And you! You swore to never cast that spell again!”

“I didn’t,” Merla grinned.

“You taught it to her!”

Merla sighed heavily, “I may have accidentally left the scrolls out where she could read them.”

Jebril sighed heavily, “You do realize that when the council finds out about her, they will come for her. And they will eventually find out from one of you.”

Kirsee stepped forward, her voice not much above a whisper, “Not if you order us to keep her a secret.”

“Speak up Kirsee!”

“Not if you order everyone in Afallach to never speak of her,” Kirsee repeated. “The geas will keep everyone from talking.”

Jibril began rubbing his goatee deep in thought, “Merla I want everyone on the island to assemble at the amphitheater at midday day after tomorrow. Everyone must be there. I also want anyone not of our tribe escorted off our island and the island closed until the day following the assembly.”

“Yes father, we’ll get that done.”

“Now let me see my newest daughter, Jibril motioned them forward. It took some coaxing but Cara managed to get the small girl to come out where Jibril could see her. “Don’t worry little one, I won’t hurt you.” A huge smile crossed his face as the little one came out where he could see her, “Oh how precious!” Jibril exclaimed as he saw one of her fangs innocently sticking out against her bottom lip, “I haven’t seen wings that cute since…” Jibril looked up at Cara, “Not since you were brought into this world.” Looking up at Merla, “How long before she can shift into other forms?”

“Maybe by the end of the week,” Merla guessed. “It depends on how well she feeds.”

“Until she can take human form do not let her out of the castle or into uncovered part of the castle. We don’t want some visitor accidentally spotting a young Kynlif. Once she can take human form having her seen won’t be an issue as they will assume she is one of the humans.”

Leaving the chamber the women all went down to the kitchen where Silas gave the adults all a glass of iced tea and after sitting the young girl at the table he gave her a large glass of blood which she ravenously drank. Silas refilled the girl’s glass three times before her thirst was quenched.

“We’re going to run out of goats the way this one feeds,” Silas chuckled as he looked over at Cara, “I think she has a bigger appetite than her mother did at that age.”

“We’re going to have to wean her off blood and onto essence as soon as possible,” Cara stated. “I can’t take her to Earth while she still needs to feed on blood.”

“Why the rush, we’ve got plenty of goats and piglets to keep her fed,” Silas asked.

“Because the sooner she gets her out of Afallach and away from the council's spies the better for all of us,” Merla volunteered. “You weren’t here when Cara was born. Even though the council’s political stance was neutral toward her there were still several attempts on her life.”

“I heard those assassins were all from off world?” Kirsee said while using her tail to play with the little girl.

“Only a handful of those from other realms can travel to our realm without our help,” Merla stated. “So how did they get here without someone bringing them?”

“Well if you need any more piglets let me know,” Kirsee continued playing with the girl, “I know a place I can grab plenty and the locals would be happy to see them gone.”

“Oh yeah I can see the headlines in Japan now, “Kitsune spotted chasing piglets! Film at eleven.”

Kirsee giggled, “Now that sounds like fun!” Looking toward Cara, “What are you going to name her?”

“Tessa,” Cara answered, “It starts with a T which will always remind me of Tom. And it’s a name he talked about once when he mentioned having children. I think she’ll like it once all her memories return.”

“You never told him we can’t have children?” Kirsee goggled.

“He never knew what I was until he came here,” Cara sighed averting her eyes to the floor.

“Hey it’s okay sis!” Kirsee grinned, “You think I tell all those anime fanboys that I play with that I’m not really a Kitsune?”

Merla laughed, “Yeah I bet that would break their little nerdy hearts.”

While they were talking Tessa hopped down out of the chair she was in and began wandering toward the open rear door of the kitchen. “Hey little one, can’t go out there,” Silas grabbed the small child by the arm. Tessa squealed at him and tried to bite his hand. Luckily Silas jerked back fast enough she didn’t have a chance to sink her fangs into his hand.

Cara jumped out of her chair over to Tessa, grabbing her and spinning her around, “We do not ever, ever bite humans! I don’t care what they smell like, we do not ever bite them!” Tessa’s lip quivered for a moment before she dropped down heavily onto her butt on the floor and started bawling.

“Lady Cara you didn’t have to be so stern, she didn’t get me.”

“Yes I did,” Cara glared up at their old cook. “You have no idea how you smell to her right now! I went through it so I know.”

“What do we smell like?” Silas was confused.

“Food!”

“Legend has it that once vampires and our race were once one in the same,” Merla informed. “It’s said that we evolved and adapted to a new food source, one that we and humans found mutually beneficial for both races. Instead of each race attempting to hunt down and kill each other, Humans began welcoming us. We fill their fantasies, their dreams and their secret perversions. Some of us go out and find those with the desire to rape and other sexual atrocities on other humans, we remove those desires from them. Earth is a safer place due to our race.” Merla looked over at Kirsee, “Then there are those that only save comic books from their pages becoming stuck together.”

“Hey they're not comic books they’re Graphic novels!” Kirsee stuck her tongue out at Merla.

Chapter 24

“Come on baby, wake up we got to go,” Cara shook the small child awake that she worried so much about. Tessa was now three weeks old and still only looked to be around six or seven in human terms. While the increase in human terms seemed amazing, Tessa was not human and should be fully grown and have all her old memories and the instincts she would need by four to six weeks. She should have also been completely weaned off “baby food” after the first week but Tessa still asked for it first. The one redeeming this Cara saw was how the young girl had taken to flight.

To keep Tessa’s presence a secret as long as they could Cara had taught Tessa how to fly down in the catacombs under the castle. Within two days the small girl was weaving in and around the support columns better than Cara could. If Tessa could only get better at landing she could be one of the best fliers on all of Afallach. Tessa’s landings always involved either scraped knees or elbows, sometimes both. Once she even gave herself a black eye when she caught a claw in between two of the boards on the dock and went face first into the wooden planks of the dock. The past couple of days Tessa had gotten into the habit of slowing down as she came toward the underground dock then quickly turning to human form and doing a cannonball into the water, which she thought was hilarious the first time she did it soaking both Cara and Merla who were waiting on the dock.

“Where we going mommy?” Tessa sat up in bed rubbing her eyes.

“Remember I told you we may have to leave quickly if anyone found out about you?”

“The council found out, so now we have to leave,” Cara helped her child out of bed and began getting her dressed. “The good news is where we are going you won’t have to fly in those stuffy old catacombs. You can fly in the air with me.”

“I like flying in the catacombs, so does Lily,” Tessa grinned, “it's fun and no one can catch me I’m so fast.”

“No one can catch you because you can twist and turn around things faster, not because you fly faster.”

“Lily can turn really fast too,” Hearing her name spoken the small winged reptile raised its crocodilian head from here it was curled up asleep at the foot of Tessa’s bed. Standing up on its rear legs extending its wings out to show its full wingspan of almost four feet while twisting its body stretching out muscles that hadn’t been used for several hours. Unlike dragons the small wyvern did not have separate forearms and wings. Its wings were its forearms and unlike dragon wings, the first two joints of its wing were muscled more heavily like what one would expect of a flightless creatures arms but where those limbs would have ended in hands, long wing bones separated the skin of its thin leathery wings, while three smaller finger like claws came forward from the wing joint. Two of its fingers were webbed like the wings while the third opposed those two like a crude thumb.

Its rear feet were even more unusual as the toes appeared more like what one would find on a falcon or eagle, with long thin toes ending is raptor-like claws. Although the similarity stopped there as the wyvern had two toes pointed toward the rear instead of one and four forward with webbing between both the front and back toes signifying the creature was adapted to water along with flight.

Wyverns were the most prolific type of creature on the world with hundreds of different species ranging in size of that of a butterfly to the largest having a wingspan of almost seventy feet and a body length of up to fifteen feet. The smaller varieties also seemed much more intelligent than the larger ones and many of the smaller species having an innate magical ability to camouflage themselves so well they seemed become invisible.

At first it bothered Cara that this seemly normal young adult wyvern had taken to Tessa. Wyverns as a whole were shy and cautious avoiding any creature larger than itself. Why this one had become attached to Tessa, who was easily three times larger and all but abandoned its own flock to stay with the young girl was unheard of. And doubts Cara had on the creatures motives were quashed the day father went on a rant in front of Tessa. The small wyvern quickly put itself between him and the girl, its spines growing several inches from its head clear down to the heavy club-like end of its tail which also grew spikes to resemble something like an ancient morning star, clearly ready to defend Tessa if necessary.

Once Cara had Tessa dressed, she grabbed a bag and hurriedly stuffed some of the young girl’s clothes into it before pushing Tessa out of the room ahead of her. “We need to go to the courtyard first so you can attune to our home crystal before we leave.”

“Mommy you told me to stay away from any place I could see the sky?” Tessa ran to keep up with Cara as they raced down the long corridor.

“That was to keep others from knowing about you,” Cara grabbed the young girl by the arm trying to pull her along faster. “It doesn’t matter now.”

Turning a corner the two almost ran headlong into Cara’s purple haired sister, “Lea!”

Lea grabbed Cara, “Not that way, the council is already here.” Turning the two around Lea led them back in the direction they came from.”

“But Tessa needs to learn the home crystal,” Cara argued as she ran.

“No time, we have to get her out of here now!”

“How, if we can’t go to the courtyard?” Cara knew the magical wards of the island kept anyone from leaving or arriving using any form of teleportation anywhere but the courtyard.

“Merla,” Lea continued to run along ahead of them, eventually leading them down into the lower levels of the castle not far above the catacombs to Merla’s private chambers.

Lea led the three in, closing the door behind her and bolting it shut. Merla was already there, wearing a backless very dark blue floor length dress that gave room for her wings which were folded along her back. “Good you made it, Follow me,” Merla stated turning around and walking up to a large unlit fireplace, the sound of the talons of her feet clicking and scraping against the stone floor.

The three watched as Merla silently mouthed some words, touching the mantle in several places as she did. To the left of the fireplace the wall began to shimmer then disappeared showing the opening of a passageway. Merla grinned when she saw Tessa looking at the hidden opening and then curiously back at the fireplace. Chuckling as she took the small girl’s hand, “I bet you expected the secret passage to be in the fireplace didn’t you?” Seeing Tessa nod Merla’s grin grew wider, “That’s why it’s not there. The whole point of secret passages is putting them where no one expects.” Now come, we have work to do.” Merla led them down the passageway stopping about thirty feet from the end. Turning around she smiled at the three, “This way,” then turned and walked through the wall. Finally down a long spiral stone staircase they came out in a cavern. Several wyverns that looked like the same species as Tessa’s pet one were startled and took flight only to fade into the background with their innate magical camouflage.

Leading them through the rough tunnels and caverns Merla finally stopped in a large dry cavern that opened to daylight several hundred yards in the distance. What surprised everyone but Merla the most wasn’t the cavern but what they saw in the cavern. It was the largest wyvern Cara had ever seen, its body alone had to be thirty-five to forty feet long. Cara could only guess that its wingspan must be at least one hundred feet or more. Cara had no idea that any this size still existed as their own people had exterminated the larger dangerous ones thousands of years ago.

Walking over to the gigantic beast, Merla began petting its nose, “Hello my friend, I need your help today.”

Chapter 25

“What’s with all these water drakes?” Bathin, Jebril’s biggest adversary, looked over at Jebril for an explanation.

“They live in the caverns below the island,” Jebril answered, “They’re great at killing the rodents and other animals that would eat our fruit culled so we leave them be.”

“The sand drakes are very similar although not quite as large.” Asazel, the father of the desert tribe spoke, “Skittish creatures, will run at the drop of a hat.”

Bathin looked about at the amount of small wyverns perched in the trees and along the walls before he noticed the shimmering effect of the cloaked flight of hundreds of them in the air. “Quick lead us to your catacombs!” He ordered. “Something down there has spooked those drakes. I would bet it is Merla’s nonexistent young heir!”

“Bathin, you were there when Merla swore the oath,” Jebril pointed out. “She could not create a new Kynlif no matter how much she may have wanted to.”

“My sources say otherwise and have seen this young one,” Bathin argued.

“I think you need new sources, the ones you have are vision impaired,” Jebril laughed, while wishing he knew who Bathin’s source was. If it was someone here on the island they would not live long when, not if he found out. Jebril knew it couldn’t be one of the sisters, all but Merla and Cara were under the geas and would not be able to speak about this child. Cara being of Merla’s blood line was immune to the geas just as Merla was. How they were immune even their top magi could not ascertain. Their best explanation was Merla was of the old blood that dated back before the few Incubi took reign and doled out the world into the tribes they have today, bringing a stop to the infighting and killing among themselves that had brought their own race so close to extinction.

The Kynlif were a strange people, feeding off emotions as they did but what was even stranger was how they bred. The males and females of their race did not breed together to create life, the females could not bear young as they were born infertile, although the males could breed with most known species throughout the many realms and the offspring of such a coupling would always be a Incubus, a male of their species. The females on the other hand could only breed by the use of an ancient ritual, a spell that would create a new succubus that combined the life forces of the succubus with a male of another species. A ritual so dangerous to both the succubus and the male that it took the power of the combined council to keep the succubus from slipping into insanity or even death. All the council wondered how Merla was able to perform the ritual not once but now twice was something they wished to know.

The males had always been highly territorial, so territorial that they had to create a neutral city, populated mainly by humans, where they could gather for their meetings. Jebril was no exception as he fought back the subconscious need to rip the throats out of the other males who had invaded his territory. The only thing holding him back was the knowledge that while he may be able to take on two of them, there were three of them, all allies of one another that would jump in to aid Bathin if Jebril attacked. That and the fact that Jebril would receive no aid from his daughters as part of the geas that all succubi with the exception of Merla’s bloodline were that they could never raise a hand to the ruling Incubi.

~o~O~o~

“This is amazing!” Tessa screamed from where she sat in front of Cara, the wind whipping their hair behind them. In front of Tessa Sat Merla as they sat on the back of the largest wyvern that Tessa and Cara had ever seen.

“I didn’t know large wyverns could conceal themselves like the small ones do?” Cara shouted to be heard above the noise of the air rushing past them.

“Most can’t,” Merla shouted back, “Queenie here is a bit different, she’s a water drake.”

“What!” Cara gasped.

“So she’s like lily?” Tessa yelled.

“Yes and no,” Merla tried to explain. “Nowadays water drakes never get any larger than you little friend, but Queenie is from a time long ago when they did. The water drakes of the water used to be one of the largest and most feared wyverns that existed. They were the only ones large wyverns that were able to go invisible like the small ones. They were such a threat to our people the council had them hunted down and exterminated.”

“But Queenie is nice, she’s giving us a ride.” Tessa shouted her child’s logic.

“Queenie is nice,” Merla continued. “But she didn’t grow up like the other wyverns. I found her when she was still really small and she was hurt. I helped her get better and she has been my friend ever since.”

“So where are we going?” Cara shouted.

“Little place that only Queenie and I know about,” Merla shot back.

Chapter 26

“Is that where we’re going?” Tessa pointed down at what looked like an island far below them.

Shaking her head, “No, that’s a kraken!” Merla shouted back at Tessa, “With the larger wyvern gone there is nothing to prey on them allowing them to grow to gigantic size.”

Cara looked down at the creature Tessa had spotted and could even make out trees growing on its back, “I can’t believe they get that big!”

“They are why no one comes this far south any longer. Can you imagine what would happen to a ship with one of those?”

Cara thought about what Merla said. Their ships had a bad enough time with the Kraken that sometimes came north into their fishing areas. Cara shivered at the thought of one of these giants attacking their fishing fleet. “How come we’ve never seen these big one up north?”

“They like warmer water,” Merla explained. “Only reason we see any at home is the small ones are forced to go further north or be eaten by the large ones.” Pointing off into the distance at a dot on the horizon, “That’s where we are going.”

As they drew closer to the area Merla had pointed out they begin making out several tiny islands, the closer they came the more islands they could see. At best guess Cara would have sworn there to be at least fifty islands forming a rough line in the middle of the ocean. Surrounding the chain of islands although the closest one several miles away were a few of the giant island sized kraken. “Is this safe?” Cara called out to Merla.

Nodding back, “Yes, they are too big to get into the shallows around the islands.” Pointing toward one of the averaged sized islands, “That one is ours, water around it doesn’t get over fifteen feet deep, too shallow for even the small kraken to get near.”

Landing in a grassy field beside the overgrown old stone ruins of what once was a medium sized castle, Merla helped Cara and Tessa get down off Queenie’s back. Cara looked up at the ruins, overgrown with vines so dense she couldn’t tell it was once a castle until they were right at it. “What is this place?”

“This is where my sisters and I were born,” Merla waved her hand at the ruins, “Welcome to Afallach, the birthplace of our kind.”

“But our home is Afallach, how can this be named that also?” confusion evident in Cara’s voice.

“When we left here and made our home on the new island, we knew others would come and try to steal the wonders of our home, and since no one knew of its location we named our new home the same to make everyone believe it was the true Afallach.” Turning toward the arched stone entrance, “Follow me, we have so much to do and so little time.”

Making their way through the overgrown courtyard and up the steps to two large heavy wooden doors, Merla pushed one of the doors open so easily it was as if the door had been recently used. Stepping inside the ruined castle Cara gasped. The grand foyer of the castle looked nothing like the overgrown ruins outside, it looked as if every piece of metal glass and wood had been recently polished and the floor waxed to a high shine.

“Wow!” Tessa’s eyes going wide after she eased her way around her mother so that she could see.

Before anyone could say another word a women wearing a white floor length gown that resembled the high waisted stola women wore in ancient Rome. Her dark hair also in an up style reminiscent of the same time period. “Morgan you’ve come home!”

“Only for a short time sister,” Merla curtsied ever so slightly, “Glitonea I’d like to introduce you to your niece Cara,” Merla motioned at Cara, “Cara this is your aunt Glitonea. And this young one here is Cara’s daughter, your great niece Tessa.”

Glitonea laughed, “I always knew that one day I would be a great something.”

“Morgan, I see you’ve decided to grace us with your presence once again,” another woman similarly dressed but in a green dress with hair almost the same shade of green walked up behind Glitonea.

“Thiten, so nice to see you’re still alive,” Merla sneered.

“Your hair!” Tessa gasped.

“What about my hair?” Thiten snapped at the young girl.

“It’s just, it’s so pretty,” Tessa lowered her eyes believing she had angered the woman.

“My, my,” Thiten grinned at Merla, “It seems the apple did manage to fall far from the tree with this one.” Looking over at Tessa, “It’s quite alright sweetie, and thank you for saying that.” Walking over to Tessa she knelt down, gently grasping Tessa’s chin between her thumb and fingers she raised Tessa’s head so she could look her in the eyes, “You’re a beautiful girl yourself. Has your evil witch of a grandmother fed you anything yet today?” She watched Tessa shake her head, “Then come child, let go find you something to eat,” Thiten stood offering her hand to Tessa.

“Are you my great aunt too?” Tessa hesitated on taking Thiten’s hand.

“Yes sweetie I am,” Taking Tessa by the hand she began leading her out of the room only to look back over her shoulder at Merla, “emphasis on the great part.”

“Why don’t you follow them Cara, you have not fed either,” Merla hoped Cara would take the hint and allow her to talk privately with Glitonea.

After Thiten had led Tessa and Cara out of the foyer Merla looked over at her other sister, “So I see she’s still holding a grudge.”

“Well you haven’t gone back in time and changed it yet have you?” Glitonea giggled.

“Not sure I would even if I could,” Merla stated.

“There lies the difference between you and her, Thiten would.” Glitonea smiled at Merla, “So would it be too bold to ask, what brings you home after all this time?”

“The incubi council.”

“I would have thought you would have done something about them by now sister?”

“You know why I can’t.”

“Ah yes, That curse Thiten cast on you,” Glitonea stated. “So why the problem with the council now?”

“They believe the curse to be a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled and are trying to kill your great niece.”

“Then you must tell them the truth, show them the scrolls. That will end their false assumptions.”

“It won’t work,” Merla sighed.

“Why would you say that?”

“Because they store the unused crystals under their council chambers and for generations of Incubi they have believed in the prophecy.”

“So you believe it has become self-fulfilling.”

Merla nodded, “I’m afraid it has.”

“The girl, Tessa?”

Merla nodded, “The signs are there. It has been over three weeks since her birth and look at her age.”

“Part of Thiten’s spell could be interpreted that way.”

“And she has the life force of two opposing succubi.”

“While not impossible, that should be an interesting story to hear,” Glitonea tilted her head to one side grinning at Merla. “Come let us join Thiten and the young ones, this way you only have to tell the story once as you will need Thiten’s blessing for what I think you are about to do.”

“I doubt she will give me her blessing,” Merla sighed as Glitonea led her back to the kitchen area.

~o~O~o~

“This is really good aunt Thiten! What is it?” Tessa stated as she reached toward the plate that held the fried chicken to grab another piece, “It tastes a lot like razor serpent but it’s easier to chew. I really like it!”

“It’s called fried chicken, have as much as you want.” Thiten turned to Cara, “My she is so precious, how old is she?”

“Three,” Cara looked over lovingly at the child digging into the friend chicken.

“Not bad for three days and already weaned off blood. She’s going to be full grown before you know it. You really should cherish the weeks you have while she is still a child.”

“Three weeks, not three days,” Merla corrected as she walked in with Glitonea. “She’s three weeks old.”

“Oh my god,” Thiten’s hands shot up to cover her mouth. Her eyes wide staring at Merla. Standing up from the chair she was in Thiten looked over at Cara, “I need to go have a chat with my sisters please make yourself at home. You are family and this is as much your home now as it ours. We will return shortly.”

Grabbing Merla by the arm Thiten all but drug her out of the kitchen, “I want an explanation and I want it now sister!”

The three sisters returned to find one empty plate and another full of bones. “Okay is everyone ready for some fun?” Glitonea clapped her hands together. Seeing Tessa nodding and Cara shrug, “Alright let's go get you both attuned to our home crystal.”

“There’s a home crystal here?” Cara asked while standing up.

“Of course there is,” Glitonea grinned.

Thiten led the group to the interior courtyard where they found the trees and shrubbery as meticulously well-kept as the rest of the castle’s interior. In the very center of the round courtyard sat a crystal sticking up out of the ground although this crystal was like none Cara had ever seen before. The first difference she noticed is its color was not the dull shine of other home crystals, this one shone brightly as if lit from its own interior like a bright light bulb. The other difference was its color, it wasn’t one single color as all the other crystals she had seen, this crystal had every color under the rainbow each one so bright it almost hurt to look at it.

“Wow it’s really pretty,” Tessa gaped at the home stone.

“Yeah, wow,” Cara mimicked.

“Tessa you want to touch it first?” Thiten looked down at the small child.

“Can I?” Tessa beamed.

“Sure you can,” Thiten smiled, “What you need to do is put your hand on it and hold it there until you feel a tingle.”

“Okay,” Tessa grinned then ran up to the crystal putting her hand on it. A few moments later Tessa disappeared then reappeared on the other side of the crystal obelisk facing away from it with her hand still outstretched and her clothing changed to a light brown perfectly fitted stola. Quickly turning back and forth trying to get her bearings Tessa spotted her family, “Look mommy it made me a new dress like aunt Glitonea and Thiten’s.” Tessa twirled showing everyone her new dress. “Your turn mommy!”

Cara walked up to the multi-hued crystal placing her hand on it like Tessa did. A moment later she felt a tingle and found herself looking at the opposite wall. Turning around she saw Tessa bouncing off the balls of her feet, “Mommy your dress is beautiful! And you got streaks in your hair that matches it!”

Looking down at the Stola she now wore it was a soft warm pink. Reaching up she pulled her hair around to find pink highlights now in it. Looking over at the three smiling faces of her aunts and mother, “Is there are reason for the colors and changing my hair?”

“I bet this is how Aunt Thiten got her pretty hair!” Tessa spoke up.

“You are absolutely correct,” Thiten smiled. “The crystal not only allows safe travel home, it can give gifts for those of our bloodline. It gave me an affinity toward all things that grow from the earth.”

“What’s my gift?” Tessa begged.

“We don’t know,” Glitonea answered, “It will become apparent to you in its own time.”

Cara looked back down at the color of her dress, “Oh goody, I’ve been given the gift of all things girly.”

“The color is only a vague representation of the type of gift,” Merla consoled Cara. “With that done, now we need to get the crystals you will take with you.”

“I already have a personal homing crystal,” Cara stated.

“My dear niece,” Glitonea grinned, “What you possess is an old worn out crystal that has been handed down from one succubus to another for who know how many thousands of years. We are taking you to the caverns to dig new ones.”

Walking down into the caverns underneath the castle they entered a large circular cavern that the walls had been smoothed out with magical glyphs covering the walls and floor. In the center of the room was a large open forge with a very large bellows hanging from the ceiling beside it. Off to the side was a large anvil covered in the same magical glyphs. Various sized hammers and other tools hung from multiple wooden racks scattered about the room.

“Wow what is this place?” Tessa goggled at the contents of the room.

“This is the forge of Afallach,” Merla informed, as she thought about the last sword made in this room, she had made it herself more than a thousand years ago. “If and when you are ready for a sword, we will make it here for you.”

Chapter 27

Cara wasn’t sure what Glitonea was talking about when she led her and Tessa past the forge and on deeper into the caverns about how they would know which crystals they needed, especially when Cara saw all the various colored crystals in sticking out of the walls and ceiling of the caverns, thousands of them ranging in size as small as a dime to as big as her arm. Each one a perfectly symmetrical six or eight sided cylinder with ends that tapered to a point and all of them glowing their individual color brightly.

Tessa of course had dug right in grabbing crystals that caught her eye, while Cara stood trying to figure out how she would know which ones to take. That was until something glinted out of the corner of her eye and she turned to find the most beautiful rose color she had ever seen glowing brighter than the crystals around it. Walking over to the crystal that caught her eye it all but fell out into her hand when she touched it. Cara felt like a thief when she placed it in the small leather pouch Glitonea gave her. Then another crystal caught her eye, she almost stepped on it. Picking it up off the dirt floor Cara was sure it wasn’t there on the floor before. Placing it in the leather pouch she began to understand what her aunts had meant when they told her she would know which one to take and which ones to not touch.

The last crystal that caught Cara’s eye she found strange in that it did not glow like the others, it was in fact very dark, a darkness that put her in mind of the total absence of light rather than a color. How she even saw the dark crystal with no more than an inch of its end protruding out of the cave wall she had no idea. Twice she caught her hand reaching up to as if it had a mind of its own, jerking her hand down before touching it. It wasn’t that she felt evil or anything from the crystal, unlike the other crystals she had gathered into the leather pouch, each one of those giving her a different but good feeling, she felt nothing but the need to touch the dark crystal.

Her need to touch the crystal finally overpowered her mind’s wish to leave it be and she reached up placing the tip of her finger on the protruding point, jerking her hand away as the crystal moved. She watched as the dark crystal slid out of the wall roughly six inches by itself. Cara quickly reached back to the crystal to try and push it back into the wall. As soon as she touched it, the crystal slipped the rest of the way out of the cave wall and into her hand. Examining the strange dark crystal Cara saw that it was about an inch and a half in diameter roughly a foot long and seven sided. Counting the sides again to make sure she hadn’t miscounted Cara though how strange it must be for a naturally formed crystal to have such an odd number of sides. Quickly slipping the strange crystal into her leather pouch Cara looked around to find Tessa standing beside Glitonea waiting.

“If you two are done we should head back up to the forge to see what my sisters have been doing,” Glitonea motioned for them to follow her. Entering the forge chamber they saw that two more women had joined Merla and Thiten in the forge. One looked to be a perfect twin of Thiten except her hair and Stola she wore were both a golden brown in color. The other had darker hair and her stola was the color of a clear sky.

Merla looked up from where she was working with a hammer on the anvil pounding on something, “Good your back and we are almost done.” Sitting the hammer down Merla reached into the pouch at her side producing a red crystal from it that she pointed at the long bar of silvery metal she was working on. Tessa’s mouth fell open when she watched the metal begin to glow a bright hot blue. Merla quickly put the crystal away and went back to work shaping the metal with the hammer.

“Hello Cara, Tessa,” The one that could have been Thiten’s twin turned around, “I’m your aunt Thiton.” Seeing Both Tessa and Cara look back and forth from her to Thiten she continued, “Yes, to answer your questions Thiten and I are twins.”

“And I’m your aunt Mazoe,” The woman in sky blue turned after picking up a small necklace she had apparently been working on and holding it by the ends in both hands as she walked toward Tessa. “I made this for you dear,” Holding the necklace out toward Tessa.

“It’s pretty,” Tessa took a step toward the necklace. “I like the yellow crystal in it too.”

“Well come on,” Mazoe motioned Tessa to come to her, “Let’s put it on.” Tessa held her hair to the side as Mazoe placed the ends together behind her neck. “This necklace is special, it will keep anyone from using magic to locate you that we don’t want to find you. It won’t let anyone take it from you either, only one of us can remove it.” Mazoe left out the part that those of Tessa’s bloodline would be able to use it to track her if the need ever arose.

“And Thiten and I have made you these, “Both the twin women came forward with what looked like dark brown leather Thiten holding out a pair of boots in one hand and pants in the opposite hand, while Thiton was holding a dark brown backless leather three quarter top and a jacket of the same material. “Well try them on,” Thiton grinned.

Tessa sat the leather pouch she had been given to put crystals in on an unused work bench and began to struggle out of the unfamiliar dress. “Not that way,” Glitonea giggled. “Use a crystal.” When she saw the confused look on Tessa face Glitonea explained, “You picked up an orange crystal?” Tessa nodded, opening her pouch she pulled out one that was about three inches long and a half inch thick, holding it up so Glitonea could see it. “Okay now think about changing your clothes.”

Tessa concentrated on what Glitonea asked her to do. After a minute of nothing happening Thiten spoke, “You’re trying to hard sweetie, just relax and will your dress to be gone.”

Tessa nodded her understanding, closed her eyes and took a deep breath letting it out slowly it out slowly. Suddenly Tessa was standing there nude.

“Good girl,” Thiten grinned handing Tessa the pants, “Now put these on.”

Tessa put her feet one at a time in the pants legs before pulling the pants up around her waist. Looking down at how the extra length bagged around her ankles and the waist big enough that if she let go they would fall down, she looked up at her aunt, “They’re too big.”

“Give it a moment sweetie,” Thiten grinned, “They’re new and take a moment to adjust.” Standing there holding up the overly large pants Tessa began to feel them begin to shrink, within less than one minutes the pants not only fit they had conformed to her like a second skin.

Next Thiten handed her the boots, which like the pants were too large and had no buckles, zippers or other way of closing. Pulling the boots on, the tops came to just below her knees. It took a few moments for the boots to shrink to fit also. The top and coat worked the exact same, shrinking to become a perfect fit.

Merla turned from the anvil she had been working at, putting the finishing touches on the leather wrapped handle of what we could now tell was a long dagger. Mazoe walked over with a belt that seemed to be made out of the same type of leather as the outfit they gave her. Wrapping the belt around Tessa’s waist Mazoe arranged it so the buckle was near the front but slightly off center to the right, then wrapped the excess leather behind the belt then around to form a loose knot with only around eight inches of the excess now hanging down. Tessa noticed the belt had a scabbard on her left side. Once Mazoe was finished Merla, holding the dagger in the palm of both hands offered it to Tessa. “And I made this,” Merla smiled. “It is made from metal sent by the gods and forged in faerie magic. Its name is ‘Kalesvol Tinu’ and it is my gift to my granddaughter.” Merla held out the large dagger for Tessa.

Holding the dagger, Tessa noticed its size, relative to her own small size it was like holding a large sword although it felt feather light. The blade and wide cross-guard looked to be forged out of one piece of some very shiny silvery metal. The long fuller that ran down the center of the double edged blade held a pattern of light blue glyphs that were unreadable by the small child. Sliding the blade into the scabbard at her side Tessa looked up to Merla, “Thank you grandmother.” Then turning to all her aunts, “Thank you for all this.”

“Now sweetie,” Glitonea smiled at Tessa, “Remember how you used the crystal to take off your dress?” She waited to see Tessa nod, “Do that again.”

Tessa picked the crystal back up and thought about taking off the leather clothes. Almost immediately she stood now wearing the light brown stola with all the leather clothing and her sword now gone. Her eyes wide as she looked down at herself in the dress, “How? I have my dress on again?”

“The crystal sweetie,” Glitonea chuckled. “Its properties allow you to change whatever you are wearing with whatever it has stored in the crystal. When you first used it to take off the stola it was empty so all it did was remove the clothes you were wearing. As it can hold only one change, when you used it to take off the leather, it swapped it with the clothing it was storing.”

Cara put her hand on Tessa’s shoulder, “It’s really handy if you’re wearing something that doesn’t have an open back and you need to change to our winged form.”

“Speaking of your shape shifting,” Thiten looked over at Tessa. “That leather armor will shift to fit your form, no matter what form you take.”

“And we didn’t make it out of wyvern or drake like most others do,” Thiton grinned. “We used some hydra skin we had put back some time ago for good use.”

“It has all the benefits of wyvern leather,” Thiten chuckled, “but with the hydra’s regeneration. So the armor is self-healing and quite fast at it too, which makes it so hard to work with to create armor.”

The following days Tessa spend studying crystal magic and what each of her crystals did. While Cara knew some crystal magic she never knew there were so many colors and types of crystals. One thing Cara found interesting was two crystals could be completely identical in color but having a different number of facets made them behave in completely different ways.

On the third day there, Mazoe happened to be going through the front foyer when she heard some kind of scratching opening one of the large doors to see what was causing the noise, she was knocked down by a small wyvern that raced past her into the castle. “Sisters!” she yelled as she got back to her feet. She was halfway up the staircase to the second floor when Thiten walked into the foyer.

“What did you need Mazoe?” Thiten looked up at her sister.

“We have a small drake of some sort loose in the castle. I need help finding it before it wrecks anything.”

“How did a drake get in?”

“I heard some scratching at the door and went to check.”

“So you let it in?”

“No it pushed past me like someone had set its tail on fire.”

“What’s going on?” Merla had come when she heard her sister’s cry.

Thiten turned giggling, “It seems Mazoe set a small drake loose in the castle.”

“I didn’t know there were any drakes around on these islands?” Merla questioned.

“There isn’t!” The rising anger apparent in Mazoe’s voice.

Marla gasped at the thought that came to mind. Looking up the stairs at Mazoe while holding her hand down about her knees, “It wasn’t by chance a water wyvern, about this big?”

“Yes it was around that size,” Mazoe nodded. “But it came through so quickly I have no idea if it was a water drake or not.”

“I think if we find Tessa we will locate your rampant drake,” Merla chuckled.

Chapter 28

“I’m going to miss you sweetie,” Thiten let Tessa go from the hug and stood up.

“Mommy please can we stay just a few more days?” Tessa pleaded with big round wet eyes looking up at Cara.

“I wish you could honey,” Merla knelt down to look Tessa in the eyes. “It’s just that if Lily can find a way to get all the way down here, then it’s possible someone from the council could too and as much and your aunts and I want you to be here with us we can’t let them find this place.”

Glitonea knelt down beside Merla, “You remember how I taught you to talk to us in dreams?” Tessa nodded. “So you can talk to us anytime you want.”

Merla took Tessa by both shoulders, “Now I want you to promise me, you see any people like us or anything bad happens you come straight here to the home stone. I don’t care if you’re in the middle of a crowd of humans, you teleport immediately.”

“I promise Grandmother.”

“Ready?” Cara looked down to see Tessa nod.

Sensing Tessa was leaving Lily hopped over wrapping part or her wing around Tessa. “No Lily you have to stay here.” Tears flowed down Tessa cheeks as she pushed away her best friend, “You be good for Grandmother Merla.”

“Don’t worry Sweetie we’ll take good care of Lily,” Thiten fought to hold back her own tears as she had become quite attached to the little girl herself.

Once Cara and Tessa disappeared Merla turned to Glitonea, “Were you able to find out any more about why she is still so small?

“Not really,” Glitonea sighed. “Her transformation is a strange one. First you say her old body was dying from battle wounds that would have killed her before the ritual could have been completed. But another Kynlif sacrificed herself apparently pouring her own life-force into keeping her mortally wounded body alive. In most cases one would think that would improve the outcome of the ritual. Then much of the essence Cara used in the ritual was from a being that if Cara is correct, we have not seen the likes of since before our own time. We have always thought the scrolls on how powerful those beings were to be fanciful tales, but if it could give Cara that much essence with just a simple touch…”

“So you don’t know,” Thiten snarked.

“I have a theory.” Glitonea continued, “Tessa should have received all of her former memories of Tom by now. I think the other one that sacrificed herself for him not only gave her life-force she gave her soul to her too. I think Tessa has two souls and thus two sets of memories fighting for dominance.”

“Impossible!” Merla snorted.

“Come sister,” Glitonea urged. “We have both been around far too long to believe anything impossible.”

“I would have to agree,” Thiten spoke up. “Until Tessa does begin regaining some memories, we can’t rule your theory out.”

~o~O~o~

Days earlier Cara had ported to their old house retrieving her homing stone, then driven her car back up to her mother in law's place where she had to explain the truth of what had happened with her Tom and Christie. Mrs. Dennett refused to believe that Tom had been injured so badly until Cara had shown her photos of him lying there in the castle, she had taken with her cell phone, right before Cara had performed the ritual that changed him into a succubus like Cara. It took even longer to convince Tom’s mother that they were not the evil demons her religion made them out to be. Cara didn’t believe she had the woman completely convinced but she knew she had at least sowed the seed of doubt into the woman’s narrow views of religion and other non-human races. Before leaving she had hidden her homing stone in the loft of the barn knowing she would need to use it to bring Terra.

Cara looks around quickly when she landed in the barn loft, a habit of making sure she had not been seen appearing out of thin air. Being seen teleporting is almost as bad as allowing humans to see her other form. The next thought that went through her mind was one of panic, Tessa was nowhere in sight! Without a homing stone of her own to tune in on and Cara holding Tessa’s hand, Tessa should have appeared right beside her in the barn loft.

Not bothering with the ladder Cara jumped off the edge of the loft to the barn’s dirt floor below and began frantically searching the lower area inside the barn. Her heart was racing when she heard the muffled voice from outside the barn, “Mommy!” Running out of the barn Cara looked around trying to determine where she heard the cry only to see Tessa standing across the way on the porch of the old log cabin. Cara ran toward Tessa and when Tessa spotted Cara she did the same, coming together in the ankle deep grass of Tom’s mother’s back yard.

“Oh honey I was so frightened when you weren’t with me when ported here.”

“Was scared too mommy,’ Tessa confessed. “But after I felt my homing crystal under the bed I knew why I went there instead of with you.”

“What homing crystal?”

The one I remember hiding under the bed in there,” Tessa pointed back toward the cabin.



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