She had been awake for several hours now and was meditating over her options. First, she could always grow wings and fly out. It was unlikely she would try so soon after that last time. Second, she could re-enter the Mortal. That was possible, but she felt like this place was rather strong in the Fae and wouldn’t let her go easily. Third, she could climb out, and she had witchcraft for that.
She reviewed her options and her resources. The recalled several spells her father had taught her. With Reptile blood she could temporally gain enhanced speed, jumping, and the ability to climb walls. She didn’t have a reptile though. She did have Hospin though, and he was flying towards her. He sent the message to him instructing him to get her a reptile.
She also figured that she had enough access to Fae energy, that she could enhance a Levitation spell requiring simply a feather. She recited the Fae words for that one to feel their power. She remembered it, as her words tasted of Fae.
She sent a follow up message to Hospin letting him know one of his feathers would also work. She got the response that he would hunt harder.
She stood up, satisfied with her plan. Now she just needed to pass some time. She could feel the power of this place. It was not by accident those Faery dwelled here. She wondered if that was why it had been so easy for her body to change. The Concentration of power from beneath the trunk almost had its own heat.
Part of her wanted to try changing again, but it terrified her. Thankfully a logical part of her brain argued that she needed to be conscious for when Hospin Arrived. She could try again somewhere else more controlled. She would still get to draw on this immense Fae Presence for other purposes.
Almost on cue Hospin dropped a freshly dead, tree dwelling, Fae lizard in front of her. She picked it up and drew a knife. She sliced through is throat and stomach while chanting. She felt her words catch fire as she laced them with the power of the surrounding Fae.
She felt her limbs elongate and gain muscle. This was far more of a change than the original spell claimed. Her tongue felt funny, but the ledges of the trunk no longer looked like a challenge. She ran forward and shot up them. Hospin followed closely behind. Rylah felt Cyrah below.
Caught up in the spell’s power Rylah launched herself off the stump landing a hundred feet away with surprising grace. This strength felt incredible to her. It was much like the sensation of changing into a Faery, without all the sensory overload.
She had to breathe steadily to control her also now rapid pulse. She quickly spoke the counter spell to her transformation and felt her body return to normal, as the Fae energy reentered the Fae.
Calmness returned to Rylah. Both Cyrah and Hospin were right beside her. They were watching her intently, curious as to what came next.
“What, am I the only one in these trio that can come up with plans?” Rylah asked them.
Hospin gave a mental shrug, while Cyrah licked herself. Rylah cursed them then looked out into the Fae, curious as to what actually they were going to do next.
“We need to find Corteal,” Rylah said. “He can be our link to the other Faeries. I was foolish to rush in and try to contact the first Faeries I came across.”
Hospin looked off into this distance as if focusing on something. “Can you find him?” Rylah asked the owl.
Hospin’s response wasn’t whelming or confident, but he seemed certain that with time he could find Corteal.
“Good,” Rylah said. “Cyrah,” Rylah turned to the scruffy white and black splotched cat. “You can help me find the places Belragh mentioned. The places Disinner will use to anchor Hell to the Fae.”
Her familiars left her without little further urging. Their Fae sensitiveness lent them to these tasks far more than her abilities could. This was where they had been born. Rylah knew that even though she was Fae she had been born, given a human form, and raised in the Mortal World. She was still a stranger here.
The Fae most have caught onto her feeling of, not belonging. She took a step and something caught her foot. Ungracefully she fell forward into what a now exotically flowering swamp. Her face and slightly flailing limbs didn’t hit the mucky swamp floor. Instead it they hit a rather sympathetic, if dusty, pile of hay.
“Rylah?” The voice was familiar, “Why are you in the stable? Are you okay? Where have you been?!”
Rylah looked up. “Mary?” Rylah asked. She had stopped calling her mom in juvenile protest at thirteen years old.
Mr. Atwood had found Rylah’s half Fae and half Mortal home with relative ease, and sighed at what she had created. He knew more than he let on about these things, and he lot on that he knew a good bit. Specifics though, those were intentionally left out.
She had laced a red berry bush with a sensory spell. She was far defter and cautious than her father had been. The wicken would never have the means to find this place. To be fair to Matthew though, he was as potent of a human warlock, or Fae user, as Mr. Atwood had ever come across.
The spells in this place, Rylah had created, had a touch to them that did not belong to human hands. The berries were aglow, warning of a great presence in the Fae. Mr. Atwood felt his usual jovialness being mellowed. This was sad news, even if he couldn’t truly grasp its true calamity.
He would return to his shop and kiss his wife. His plan beyond that was less pleasant. He had left the Monastery all those years ago with no intentions of returning to it. He ran his hand over the red berries feeling familiar sensations of Fae energy. Familiar, but from a time long ago. Long in human terms, but in that of existence, it was nothing but look back at a yesteryear.
It was not a Fae force that he felt. It was something he had never experienced before. As it did not feel well intentioned, or at all holy, he doubted it was force from heaven. Mr. Atwood turned and started to walk from this place. All the forces of the Mortal and the Fae would need to be rallied to drive off this threat. Even the ethics lacking monks from the Monastery.
“I mean, mom… sorry,” Rylah said coming to her feet.
“You smell foul!” Mary Exclaimed. “You are filthy, come and get cleaned! I have a barrel of fresh water out back.”
An hour later they were sipping tea together at the table in Marybella’s kitchen. Her step-mother looked older than Rylah liked to remember her as. She had lived here alone with Rylah after Matthew and Brandon’s deaths. Losing your son and husband, then having your step-daughter run off, will put a few years on you.
“Where have you been?!” Maybella finally burst out. Her tea spilt a little as she had put her mug down with a bit too much force.
“Up to things you don’t need to know about, or ask about,” Rylah answered.
“The things that got my son killed, that Matthew taught you?” She said. “Wicken men don’t kill children for any other reason than they were practicing with the Fae! I know why my son and husband died!”
“I…” Rylah stuttered. “Yeah,” She started more forcefully, “I’ve been up to that stuff. Dad taught both of us, not just Brandon. I’ve actually been doing some good too. My father wasn’t evil! What he taught me wasn’t evil!”
“Maybe he wasn’t,” Marybella said. “But he is still dead, and my son is still dead!”
“And I am not!” Rylah said. “I miss Brandon too; I didn’t forget him! He was my brother! I know you’re alone here, but I’m trying not to make my father’s mistakes! It’s better that I’m gone…”
They sat in silence for a while. They drank their tea slowly. Marybella cleaned up her spill. It had been a long time since they had sat together like this. The notion wasn’t missed by either of them, no matter the tension.
Rylah tried not to meet her mother’s eyes, and it looked like she was none too eager to meet her step-daughter’s eyes either. But inevitably, it happened.
“I’m sorry to leave you alone mom,” Rylah said, feeling the weight of recent events and revelations truly sink into her. “I…”
“Rylah,” She said. “Look at me Rylah. I just don’t know… I sound old and stupid, but you are all I have left.”
“Mom, other than you I don’t have much either,” Rylah said. “There are going to be things happening, strange things. I’m going to play a part in this and I need you to be safe.”
“Mom, I have to go.” Rylah put down her mug down and stood.
“Rylah… You don’t need to leave yet,” Marybella said making eye contact with her step-daughter.
“I do,” Rylah said. “It was chance even, that brought me here.”
“If it was the Fae it was unlikely by chance,” Marybella said.
Rylah looked at her step-mother oddly.
“I was also present for a good portion of the Faery stories Atwood told you,” She said. “I can recognize themes; you’re looking at me like a bird just spoke common to you.”
“Sorry,” Rylah said with a slight smile. “I do need to leave though.”
“Can you stay for dinner?”
“I don’t think so.”