Shannon O'Reilly was bullied and everything his older sister wasn't. When his sister Sarah gives him a chance to change things through a single wish things don't go as planned.
Author's note: Here's chapter two of book three. Thanks once again to my readers for their support and to the Big Closet staff.
We appeared in the room that Ellie and I had been sharing at Jen’s family’s cottage and as soon as the portal closed behind us I reached for my cellphone that I had left on the nightstand. The time on it said 9:48 am on Sunday so we had made it with a couple of hours to spare before we’d have to start packing things up. It felt weird; we had spent almost four whole days in Tír na nÓg, but here it hadn’t quite been a full day yet since we had left. I guess that aspect of interdimensional travel was something that I would have to get used to, well something aside from the whole concept of casually crossing dimensions anyway.
Once we had placed them on the bed, we took a moment to get a better look at the boxes that Elsaishe and Ziralin had been given. The boxes themselves were smooth to the touch and were kind of like miniature hope chests, and when we opened them we discovered that each contained small ingots, roughly eight inches long by one and a half inches square, of various metals; bronze, copper, silver, gold, and platinum. There was also a heaping handful of gemstones of various colors and sizes. “A small token my ass,” I sputtered as I stared at the contents of the boxes, “there is at least a small fortune in those boxes. Do they have any idea how much all of that is worth?”
“Says the one wearing the pure platinum jewelry with huge emeralds on both hands,” Ellie scoffed good-naturedly. “Honestly though, things like that are much more common in Tír na nÓg, especially around the tomb, and we Faery can sense and manipulate them with ease once we’re fully trained in our gifts. Silver, and especially platinum, are especially precious because of their purity and how that hurts Demons, but the rest are just common gifts of the land that we use to make beautiful things. You must have really earned Yanisse’s respect for her to have made you such a fine gift Shannon, she is a skilled craftswoman and it shows.
“They are beautiful,” I agreed, “and probably worth more than my car. I don’t see myself wearing these in public though, I would be too afraid of losing or breaking them.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” my Fae cousin said with a shrug. “She meant for them to be a protection against demons in case you couldn’t use magic so despite their delicate appearance they are probably very sturdy. Those thick rings with the knuckle plates are especially nice, if you grab or punch a demon with those on it’s going to hurt. If you’re really worried about it though, couldn’t you use magic to reinforce the metal and make them more durable?”
After a moment’s thought I grinned and nodded. “I probably could, and if I purified the magic energy first and used that holy magic to reinforce them I could add a little extra punch. It’s a good thing Annie is teaching us self-defense, maybe I can get her to teach me to use these to maximum effect.”
“Speaking of Annie, we should see if the others are back yet,” Ziralin suggested.
The others were back, as we discovered by finding Mason fast asleep on the couch. We tried not to wake him and quickly checked on the others. Jennifer proved to be asleep as well, in the bed that she and Beth had been sharing. After quietly closing the door we went down the hall to check the master bedroom where Annie and Sarah were curled up naked in one another’s arms. They had somehow kicked off their blankets during the night so I quickly covered them so the cold of the late October morning wouldn’t bother them.
“Awww, aren’t they cute together?” Ellie quietly gushed as we closed the door behind us and made out way back to the living room.
“Yeah I was hoping they’d get together,” Ziralin agreed, “They’re obviously attracted to one another and I think it’ll be good for both of them.”
It was weird, but after being with the Faery for three and a half days none of us had batted an eye at seeing them both naked. Ellie was of course already not shy about things like sex and nudity being raised Fae, but among a whole troupe of Faery who felt the same way and would casually drop their clothes or get intimate whenever it suited them, sometimes with multiple partners, Zirlain and I had gotten over our shyness about it after the first two days or so. We kind of realized that it wasn’t their actions that were wrong, but our own human prejudices.
The Faery felt that being naked was perfectly natural, after all we were all born that way, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. Sex was the same for them, something beautiful that showed the love that two, or more, people felt for one another, a perfectly natural thing that shouldn’t have to be hidden from those you cared about. After the first few days we just went native, lost that shyness about our bodies that human culture had drilled into us all of our lives, and had no problems getting naked or dressing in front of the rest of the troupe. Ziralin and I did manage to rein in our desire for one another and stop ourselves from going any further than just seeing one another naked though. Not only had we both been too tired from our long days, but Ziralin had had enough on her plate with not being able to change back to her human form and learning Faery magic so I hadn’t wanted to complicate things further.
Elsaishe started a fire in the fireplace to warm up the cold cottage while Ziralin and I set about putting together a morning meal for everyone. We had used all the food we had taken with us in our backpacks during our trip to Tír na nÓg to add to the communal meals, and the Faery had been happy with the little bit of variety it had offered from their usual simple fare. We did still have plenty of food in the fridge to manage a big breakfast for everyone though, and one thing in my backpack that I quickly retrieved. It was a large Ziploc container that had been filled with trail mix originally, but now was filled with some berries I had picked with the Faery. They were marble sized, a pale icy blue in color, and had a sweet, almost minty taste to them that I had loved as soon as I had first tried them.
I took a pair of large bowls and skillets out of the cupboard, preheated the oven, and began working on mixing up a large batch of scrambled eggs and pancakes. I had been experimenting with cooking a bit since my change and had been pleasantly surprised to find that I was pretty good at it now, a vast improvement on not even being able to boil water when I was a boy. It also helped to get my mind off other things, like the fact that it was Ziralin working beside me instead of Beth at that moment. I made sure to add just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the pancake batter, along with a heaping handful of the fresh berries. For the eggs I added some moderate spicing and a half cup of milk to make them nice and fluffy.
By the time I was done mixing and had the first pancake cooking in one of the skillets, Ziralin had sliced some strawberries, a cantaloupe, a honeydew melon, and seven thick pieces of ham. While my elven girlfriend watched the pancakes I retrieved another bowl and a large oven safe dish and mixed up a sort of glaze for the ham. I started off with two thirds of a cup of water and a cup of real maple syrup since I wanted a taste of maple but not overly strong, added a little bit of honey to thicken and sweeten it a bit and then added the spices; salt (just a pinch), fresh ground black pepper, and a bit of oregano. Once it was all thoroughly mixed, I placed the ham slices in the oven safe dish, drizzled the glaze over them, and placed them in the oven.
Then I started the other skillet so I could double the amount of pancakes we were cooking at once. When we had used up nearly all the batter and I felt that the ham would be ready soon I left the rest for Ziralin to cook in her skillet while I started the large batch of scrambled eggs in mine. I kept a close eye on them, fluffing and turning as needed until they were nearly done and then added a handful of a tex-mex blend of shredded cheese that we had wanted to do nachos with the first night at the cottage but hadn’t gotten around to. Once I had the cheese evenly distributed, I added a few tablespoons of water to the skillet and put a lid over it to let the brief steam that followed melt the cheese over the eggs.
Finally with breakfast finished Ziralin and Elsaishe went to rouse the others while I set up everyone’s plates with portions of the ham, eggs, melon and strawberry slices, and a small stack of the pancakes. I tried to make the presentation look as nice as possible and smiled at my work as I heard the others arrive at the dining room table. Moments later we were all seated and eating. We were nearly finished the meal when Ziralin tried to banish the look of pleasure from her face to give me a serious look as she told me very clearly, “Shannon if we ever get married, you’re doing all the cooking.”
I blushed a bright red, looking down at my plate. “I’m glad you like it my love, but it’s not really anything special. It was more of an experiment than anything, I just put together what I thought might be good. Sarah’s the real cook in the family.”
“Are you kidding?! This is delicious Shannon, I feel like I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” Jennifer enthused as a pair of large, fluffy white, angelic wings sprung from her back.
“You got the Sentinel!” I squealed in glee, all thoughts of breakfast momentarily forgotten.
“Well…” she began, “actually Mason and I both did. Lunael the Shield and Lunariel of the Four Aspects were twins and very close so they were entombed together. Their test was about working well together as a pair and trusting and depending on one another. We were separated as soon as we got there and I guess Mason and I passed. Lunrariel told us that Annie and Sarah passed as well, but since Sarah already had a mark they gave theirs to us. She said that she liked my intelligence and ability to assess situations, and Mason’s desire to protect me was what Lunael was looking for.”
“So how did your search go?” Annie asked. “We were starting to get worried when we got back at midnight and you weren’t here. We thought that you’d be back before us with time moving faster where you were.”
“I tried to tell them that you’d be fine,” Mason insisted before shoveling more eggs and ham in his mouth.
I stuffed my face with the last remnants of my meal, doing my best to keep my new jewelry hidden beneath the long sleeves of my sweater for now, as I considered how best to answer Annie’s question. I didn’t want my food getting cold after all. Ziralin and Ellie were leaving it up to me to explain things though since we figured that the others would probably have a lot of questions and they had appointed me our leader. Finally after swallowing that last delicious bite of pancakes doused with real maple syrup I spoke. “Well, we managed to outrun the Demons to the Tomb and when we got there we found a troupe of Faery living scared inside. They were barely clinging to life and were suspicious of us at first so we shared some our food with them and tried to get them to trust us and fight the Demons with us.”
“I’m pretty sure I told you to avoid fighting if possible,” Sarah said with a frown.
“It wasn’t possible,” I told her with a shake of my head. “There were hundreds of them outside the Tomb and they tried to bring it down on top of us. The Faery were afraid to fight so the three of us went to face them.”
“The three of you faced off against a small army of Demons and you’re still here to talk about it?” Annie inquired with a carefully raised eyebrow.
“Well, Ellie managed to coat Ziralin’s weapons in silver and she was amazing! And Ellie was awesome with that shotgun.” I said with a grin at both of my companions.
“Oh please, you act like you didn’t do anything,” Ziralin muttered. “You incinerated the entire first wave with that first spell of yours, and then you were using those Soul Lance spells to pick off the most dangerous targets, and then there was what you did to Ellie’s ammo so she could be awesome with the shotgun.”
“Yeah, one shot and boom, any Demons I hit were dust!” Ellie said with a face-splitting grin.
I tried to play it down by continuing the story, though I wasn’t really looking forward to the next part. “Anyway the Faery started fighting with us so we were starting to win when Torphael snatched me and Ziralin away. He chose Ziralin to receive his power, but he couldn’t do it because she’s my Familiar so he had to channel his power through me to give it to her. It worked and we wiped out the Demons with Ziralin’s angelic form, but…”
“But?” Sarah pressed.
“But when Ziralin woke up she couldn’t change back into Beth. I…” I couldn’t take it anymore, if what I suspected was true than I had hurt my girlfriend in a way that was probably unforgivable. I had taken away her humanity. I broke down in tears as I managed to blubber out, “I think… it’s because she was still Ziralin when she got the power… that it’s now her default form… and the angelic one is her empowered form. I should have *sniffle* had her change back to Beth first, but there were the Demons and we needed to do it fast. I didn’t *sniff* think of it. I’m so sorry my lo…” I stopped myself, I didn’t deserve to call her that. “This is all my fault!” I got up and ran off to the room Ellie and I shared, great wrenching sobs tearing at my chest as I went.
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