Author: silly1 PM
A strange creature is captured in a far off future where humanity has lost much of its former technology and mutations abound. Is this strange, webbed boy a mutant, or is he actually a Sprite, a creature from long lost myth?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 88 - Words: 221,231 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 02-10-13 - Published: 01-17-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2883131
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sprite: 60, Neistah:
Neistah woke to a heavy weight on his face and a throbbing pain in the back of his head. It brought back memories of when he was first captured by Hanan's hunters. He grimaced underneath the smelly blanket. They thought they could hold him with cloth bindings and metal chains? They had no idea what they held.
Except they did. Or rather, their leader thought he understood what it was he had captured and bound with iron. Diluted iron. And Neistah was not as susceptible to that metal as most of his people, although it did drain his energy. He listened as Avery contemplated what he was going to do with the Sprite he had captured. He'd been to the Hanan estate. He'd seen Norah and no longer believed she was his grandchild. Good. Now, if only Norah would believe it. These people did not deserve her. He'd seen Valin and Leane as well, and drawn his own conclusions. He no longer believed that any of them were mutated humans, not that it mattered to Neistah, who had never pretended to be anything other than what he was.
'Now that you have captured me, what do you plan to do with me?' Neistah sent the words forcefully into the human's mind, but Avery, like most humans, couldn't hear him. Neistah switched tactics. He suggested that the older human release his bonds, but without eye contact, even Neistah's influence did not penetrate the man's brain. Neistah would have to wait.
But he was far from helpless. Unlike the first time he had been capured, Neistah was not alone in the mortal world. If humans could not hear his thoughts, there were others who could. Neistah began calling subvocally. Not long ago, he would never have considered doing so. But things change.
'Stay still.' Valin's silent voice cautioned. 'I'll come to you.'
Valin. It could have been worse. But Neistah relaxed within his bonds. Valin was coming. 'They have iron,' he sent back, sensing Valin's wry amusement. Their iron was not true iron. It could be overcome with effort and a little pain. Both their thoughts focused on the jagged scar that ran down the side of Valin's face, the result of a cut made by an iron sword.
'The sword of one I thought was a friend,' Valin sent, leaving Neistah to wonder how that made a difference.
Neistah saw through Valin's eyes, as he suddenly appeared in the midst of the camp, glowing with an inner light—'anger,' Valin interjected humorlessly. 'They should have never dared to touch you.'
"You have something of mine," Valin intoned aloud, piercing each of the humans with an implacable glare. Neistah felt his father's influence gather and take hold. Valin strode right up to Neistah and yanked the offending cloth off his head.
Avery rushed out of his tent, gun leveled and ready to fire. He faltered when he saw Valin, still glowing with an unearthly light, but it was too late the moment their eyes met. Avery's gun shook, then fell from nerveless fingers.
Neistah shrugged, and the chains that had bound him loosened and fell to the ground. Avery's eyes bulged. Neistah laughed. "Did you truly believe the old legends?" he asked mockingly. "Iron cannot hold us, nor can we be killed." His eyes lit maliciously. "But we hold long grudges, mortal."
It wasn't true. Iron held the power to harm and outright kill the bright fae, and sometimes the tricky ones as well. But Avery didn't need to know that.
"What are you?" the older man croaked fearfully. "Really."
"Man's blessing or his nightmare," Valin answered. "Depending on how you choose."
The rest of Avery's men stood slack-jawed, staring vacantly at a point beyond the glowing sprite. Only Avery retained the power of speech, graciously allowed by his captor, which was more than Avery had allowed Neistah.
"Shall I show you?" Valin asked off-handedly. Without waiting for a reply, he delved into the other man's mind, pulling out bits and pieces from his long distant, but never forgotten, past. As a young man, Avery had been happy. Married early, with a wife whom he adored, a beautiful baby daughter, and a brighter future, through marriage, than he could otherwise have dreamed of, Avery looked forward to the birth of his second child, a son, he hoped. John Hanan was sane then, before sickness and grief struck.
The baby was born prematurely, as his wife's failing body could no longer hold the life it supported. Even so, one loss would have been offset by this precious birth, if only Avery's son had been born normal, like Miriam.
Avery, lost in memories he could not control, sobbed and fell to his knees.
John Hanan, by that time, was so lost in his own grief that he never understood the baby had lived at all. Avery took its life himself, on the day his son was born a mutant with webs between his tiny fingers. He told everyone the baby had died along with the mother. No one knew the truth.
'Except you.' Valin's words bored into Avery's brain.
How many times, Neistah wondered, had throwbacks to his father's kind been born in Hanan's line? How many times had these aberrations been hidden or destroyed outright? The blood was there, and it explained why he was able to impregnate Miriam. It explained why Norah was so much of their kind. He squeezed his eyes shut. Were his kind ever so foolish?
'You know the answer to that,' Valin sent. 'We were dying out. We still are. Much depends on Norah's choices, and this man's. Did you know your friend Will is going to be a father? Not only our blood has been strengthened by diluting it.'
Neistah frowned. Will? At first he thought Valin meant Norah, and it surprised Neistah how furious he became. Then he caught the edge of a thought. Roselle. He calmed down. That was better. 'The child will be strong?' he asked.
'The child will be born,' his father corrected. 'It remains to be seen if humans like this one will stop persecuting them long enough for the next generation to survive.' He kicked a clump of snow in Avery's direction, making the man look up at him.
"You understand now that Norah is your grandchild?" Valin said. When Avery nodded, he smiled grimly. "What will you do?"
"I could make you forget, but that will not change anything. What will you do if we let you go?"
"I'm not sure I know what you mean," said Avery. "What are my choices?"
Neistah laughed. "Choices? Change, or die. I can choose for you, if you like." He took a step towards Avery, who cowered back in fear.
Valin leaned forward and gripped the man's chin, forcing him to look into his eyes. "We are not your concern, mortal. The ones you call mutants are your concern. They are your future. If you continue to weed them out, you will finish what your foolish war started. Humans will be no more." Valin's threats carried a tinge of sadness behind them. If humans died out, so might they one day.
X x X x X x X x X
Norah felt her body relax as they moved through the warm woods towards Anais' pond. It was easy to forget winter here. The water sparkled just beyond the last few trees and Norah's longing crept up her throat, making it tight. If there was anywhere she belonged, it was here.
"Take it off." Breyan had spoken aloud, but his eyes bore heatedly into hers as he gently slipped the gown off her shoulders. "You have no need of it here." His hands moved down to her waist, unbuckling the forest green belt until her faerie gown slipped down around her ankles. Norah should have felt embarrassed. She felt only relief. Even her gossamer gown was too heavy in this place. She let Breyan envelop her in his strong arms, and it was natural, too. Never mind that she was naked and he nearly so.
'I want to swim,' she told him mind to mind, since her throat was still too overcome with emotion to force the sounds. Her wish was Breyan's command, and he whisked her the last few steps beyond the forest and into the green depths of Anais' pool. Water transformed them both into graceful creatures that bore little resemblance to their human cousins. They twined about each other as they swam, faster, then slower, then finally spiraled to a stop and let the surface still above them.
Norah blinked at the nearness of Breyan's face. He grinned, and kissed her lips quickly before darting away again. 'Did you miss me?' he sent laughingly, leaving it up to Norah whether or not to follow him.
She followed more sedately, joyously happy to be underwater again, and here, where it was safe and she didn't have to think about who she was or what she was supposed to be. Breyan was part of that safeness. 'Oh, yes, I missed you,' she replied, putting on a burst of speed. She circled him, letting her deep red hair swirl around him like a net. When she had him where she wanted him, she reached forward and gave him back a kiss of her own, softer, deeper, longer.
Breyan stilled completely. His brown eyes grew huge and dark. 'I'm not safe,' he said gravely. Then, as if to prove it, he grabbed her roughly against him so she could feel the whole of him, and kissed her again, a wild kiss nothing like the ones she'd had from Will, or Pup, or even Breyan himself before. Just as quickly, he let her go, spinning out of the web of her hair. He didn't go far, remaining side by side with her, almost but not quite touching. Norah didn't know what to think.
For a time they remained like that, a handsbreadth apart. Breyan was her shadow. His thoughts twined with hers, and Norah sensed his annoyance when she'd compared his kisses to the two mortal boys she also loved. That thought brought her up short. Love? Breyan paced her, moving again only when she did. From anyone else, it would have been unnatural, even frightening. But it was Breyan, whom she trusted with more than her life.
'Why didn't you come after me?' she said in frustration when he didn't say anything more.
'I couldn't.' Breyan flicked his wrist to slow his movements, and Norah circled back. 'I was barred from the mortal world unless you called. You didn't call me.'
'I didn't—how could I call you?' Even as she said it, Norah felt guilty, for letting Pup kiss her, for still having feelings for Will even though she could never, would never have him.
Breyan's eyes dropped down to the ruby red pendant that hung between her breasts.
"Oh!" Norah breathed a stream of bubbles with her involuntary gasp. 'How?'
'It's tied to me. I thought you understood.'
Norah hadn't understood. She wasn't, when it came right down to it, one of them, either. She stared at Breyan with wide eyes.
'It's all right. You had to find out for yourself. I couldn't influence you.' He bit his lower lip in frustration.
'Who told you you couldn't leave?' Norah demanded. 'Was it Neistah?' She couldn't say 'my father.'
'It was Anais.' Breyan swam a little distance away, but he held her gaze with his own. Anais was Queen of this land. No one, save possibly her own son, could gainsay her.
'You had to choose,' Breyan told her, placing a soft kiss on her lips. His eyes were tender as he held her still with just that one small touch.
Norah moved against him, lengthening the kiss. 'Then I choose you,' she sent. 'Breyan, I want to stay here with you.'
'I want you to stay, too,' Breyan sent regretfully, breaking off their kiss. 'But when you're ready. I told you I'd wait. You did not intend to come to me this time. It was the blood gate that opened the way.'
'I'm ready now! I told you I don't want to go back!' Norah thought of her grandfather who couldn't even look at her, of her little sister who hated her. She thought of Will who she could never have and wouldn't want to, and of Roselle and the baby that would come. She thought of Lou, who was finally happy, and her mother who really did love her. Could she really just turn her back on all of them?
Breyan folded her into his arms and swam to shore. They lay in the warm sunlight, with Norah cradled in Breyan's tender embrace as she cried silently. She wasn't even sure what she was crying for. 'Because you have to go back,' Breyan told her. 'Remember the pendant. If ever you need me, truly need me, call and I promise I will come to you.' He wiped away her tears.
'Breyan.' The lady stood before them, splendid in her armor. 'Have you been trying to seduce my granddaughter?'
Norah let out a startled laugh and sat up. 'No, Lady, it was me, and Breyan was very much the gentleman.'
Anais raised her eyebrows. 'Breyan?' But she smiled. 'You may stay as long as you like. When you are ready, I will show you the way to return to the mortal world.'
'Is Will all right? Did he get back safely? You told him I'm all right?' The questions burbled out of Norah.
'He is fine. He awaits you by the frozen pond near your home, being too stubborn to go inside where it is warm. He was a little—overwhelmed, I think—by my presence. I left him in Leane's hands.'
Norah wasn't sure Leane was a better choice. 'Will is enamoured of our kind,' she said in explanation.
'Go,' Breyan said, standing abruptly. He helped Norah to her feet and accepted the faerie gown which Anais handed him, helping Norah into it. 'You can't leave him to freeze. Go, settle your stubborn mortal lover and make your peace with your world. You will come back to me. I will wait.'
"He's not my lover!" Norah protested aloud.
'Nor am I—yet,' Breyan answered, his eyes twinkling. 'But not for lack of wanting.'
Leaving was harder for Norah the second time. She didn't want to go. Her heart ached for Breyan and for this land she was coming to love. At the edge of the gate between worlds, Anais embraced her. 'You have a hard role, my precious grandchild. I won't pretend it will be easy for you to walk in two worlds knowing you must only choose one. Know that many people love you, and the choice is yours.'
That, thought Norah as she stepped through the gate, was the problem.