"So what do you for a living?"
I bit my lip as I tried to think of how to answer the question. It was something I hated answering. I always had to lie about it. "I am a librarian." I said simply and hoped that would be enough to satisfy him.
"Really?" A little smirk crossed my date's lips. Damn it. He was one of those guys with a librarian or secretary fantasy. I honestly didn't see what was sexy about sitting behind a desk and filing things but whatever; everybody has their own thing. I personally have a few dog-eared vampire books at home.
This date was not working out. One of my friends had set me up on a blind date because I needed to 'get out more'. Josh was cute and appeared to be well groomed. He had short brown hair and dreamy hazel eyes that kept drifting down to my breasts when I spoke. When he smiled he had a slight dimple in his left cheek. I found that adorable. He had bothered dressing nice for me and was wearing khakis and a striped polo. He was in law school or med school, something like that. That's always a bonus. I mean he seemed nice and all but we really weren't clicking.
"So what do you like to do for fun?" Josh asked me.
I just shrugged. "I like to read and go horseback riding."
"There aren't very many places for that here in the city." He observed.
"No." He gave me a dimpled grin. "Horseback riding."
"Very true." I agreed with a slight blush. "It's not really something I get to do often." That was another lie. I do it like every day. I hate having to lie to people but it's not like I can tell them the truth.
"I have never been. Maybe you could take me along sometime." He suggested.
"Sure, that sounds like fun." I lied with a smile.
"Listen, do you want to get out of here? I know a really good frozen yogurt place." He said with his charming smile.
"Sure." I smiled back. I am pretty sure he just wants to sleep with me but I was kind of okay with that. I don't have the time to maintain a relationship and a girl has needs. I wouldn't mind fulfilling some of those needs with him.
He paid for our drinks and lunch. He had taken me out just to a small café downtown. It wasn't anything fancy and that was what I liked. He got some more bonus points when he held the door open for me.
"It's not very far away." He took my elbow as I headed to the car and steered me back onto the sidewalk.
"So how do you know Stephanie?" I asked as we walked.
"Who?" He questioned.
"She set us up…." I frowned.
"Yeah, Steph." He replied quickly with a grin. "We took some classes together." He told me.
"Oh, okay…" I answered. Stephanie really hadn't told me much about him except that he would be perfect for me. She says that about every guy she attempts to set me up with but she also would Facebook stalk them and give me their life story. She apparently hadn't done that with Josh. I knew very little about him. He hadn't talked much about himself. He had mostly asked about me. He had wanted to know about where I grew up and about my family. I had only given him half-truths but I didn't think his questions were weird or intrusive till now.
"This is a short cut." He told me as he tried to lead me down an alleyway. I dug my heels into the ground and halted movement. "What?" He questioned with an edge of annoyance.
I gestured down the dark deserted alleyway that seemed to lead to nothing but a labyrinth of doom. "There might as well be a 'Please rape and murder me here.' sign hanging up in there." I protested.
"Twilight…." Josh growled with a slight edge of irritation. His hazel eyes faded to a golden yellow. He smirked coolly when he seen that I noticed the beginning of his transformation. He reached out and wrapped his arm around my waist so the claws that had sprouted from the tips of his fingers were digging against my hipbone. "Walk or I will gut you right here." He demanded.
I gave him an icy glare but allowed him to herd me into the alleyway. I couldn't risk him hurting civilians or getting them involved. Once we were deeper into the alleyway he shoved me up against a wall. He wrapped a clawed hand around my throat to pin me there. "Don't move." He snarled at me. His fangs were visible and he was looking more wolf-like.
"What do you want, Wolf?" I demanded.
"I would love nothing more than to rip out your pretty little throat, Traveler." He growled back.
"What are you waiting for?" I wanted to know. Egging him on was probably not my best plan but I can get pretty confrontational when I am pissed off.
He laughed coldly as he pressed himself up against me and laid his over hand over my hipbone. I flinched as he rubbed his lips and teeth up against my throat. "I have orders to keep you in one piece." His breath was hot on my neck as he growled in my ear.
"Orders? From who?" I demanded.
"The Red Lady wasn't too happy you stopped her smuggling ring." He informed me.
"Are you serious?!" I growled back. "Is this a hit?! She put a hit on me?!" I wanted to know.
"More or less." He shrugged. He eyes darkened as he pulled away a little to look me over. "I never tasted a Traveler before." He told me with a dark smirk. I don't think he was talking about my blood any more at this point. Wolves are sadistic by nature. They like to torture and play with their prey. It's why the Big Bad Wolf didn't devour Little Red Riding Hood on the spot. The chase and the game was what made it fun for him. I don't mean real wolves. I mean the Big Bad Wolves from the realm where fairytales come from, where monsters and dragons roam free and magic is the norm. That was the world where he was from. It was the world the Red Lady was from. She was a dark witch and I had put out a warrant for her arrest. She had been taking technology from Earth to the Fairytale Realm. That was something I couldn't allow to happen.
I am a Traveler. I have the ability to cross between the realms and with that ability I was also given the responsibility to protect the balance. There are multiple realms and they cannot be allowed to cross or bleed into each. It would lead to absolute chaos and the fall of all of the realms. I was assigned to protect the Earth and Fairytale realms, which is kind of a pain in the ass.
"How did you get into this realm?" I demanded. I needed to keep him talking while I came up with some sort of plan for survival.
He just smirked. I no longer found his dimples cute. I wanted to break his jaw. "This realm isn't sealed as well as you and your associates like to think." He informed me.
I knew that. Sometimes the walls between realms would get thin in places for no reason at all and I would have to deal with unicorn infestations. I needed to find out how he had gotten to Earth and close that gateway.
I let out a hiss of pain as he dug his claws into my hip. He pulled his hand out of the bottom of my shirt to show the blood glistening on his fingertips. He licked the blood off his fingers one by one without dropping contact with me. "Maybe I won't give you to that witch. Maybe I will just keep you for myself." He teased.
With that threat hanging in the air survival mode kicked in and I kneed him hard in the groin. As he released me and backed off with a howl of pain I lashed out and punched him hard in the jaw. He snarled out and backhanded me. I tasted blood in my mouth as I stumbled backwards. He didn't even give me time to recover before he pounced on me like an animal. He roughly grabbed a handful of my long brown hair and slammed my head against the ground.
"Come on!" He growled as he slapped me across the face. "I was expecting a bigger challenge from the Great Twilight Rosewood!" He growl in an animal-like rage as he hit me again. I blocked his next hit with my forearm and hit him in the face with an upwards motions. I felt a warm splash of blood spray onto my face as his noise broke with a violent crunch.
"Bitch!" He roared as his hands wrapped around my throat. I clawed hard enough to slice into his arm as I tried to get free from his grip. His eyes were glowing with a homicidal rage.
He suddenly stopped attacking me and released his grip on my throat. He sat up as he looked down in surprise at an arrow sticking out from his chest. It was made from white ash with white peacock feathers at the tail. Josh's eyes rolled back into his head as he collapsed on top of me.
"Shit!" A gruff voice growled and the dead wolf was shoved off from me. I lay on the ground gasping for breath as I caught sight of a tall very muscular man. He was dressed in thick brown pants and a plaid flannel shirt that had the sleeves rolled back. He had several scars on his large toned arms. He had an axe gripped in his hand and I knew for a fact he could chop down a tree with only a handful of swings. I was glad that John the woodcutter was a fellow Traveler and was on my side.
"Twilight, are you okay?!" A beautiful girl knelt down to my side. She had long platinum hair that was pulled back into a French braid. She was just wearing a simple white gown with white flats. The plain clothing did nothing to hide her beauty. She was a princess and had all the perks that came along with it. She had flawless porcelain skin and her eyes were a deep ocean blue. She was a descendent of the princess from the fairytale, the Princess and the Pea. At her side she carried a white cloth hilt of white arrows and a beautiful bow of white ash engraved with images of woodland creatures.
"Hibiscus?" I questioned. "What are you doing here?" Princess Hibiscus and John were Travelers from the Fairytale Realm and very rarely crossed into my realm. They didn't like the loud noises of the city and didn't quite understand how technology worked. They lived in a world that was the technically equivalent of our middle ages. Where we strive on technology and science they have magic.
I guess I should explain. Back in the dawn of time there was only one realm. It was unstable and broke into several different realms. There are three main realms. Each is governed by its own rules and elements. Those elements must remain separate in order to keep the balance between realms.
Earth is my home. It's the realm of humans and technology. People of Earth are for the most part completely oblivious to the other realms. It's part of my job to make sure it stays that way. Most people won't be able to handle if they knew the things of nightmares was only separated from our world by just a thin veil.
I work mostly with Alvonia, also known as the Fairy Tale Realm because many of our fairy tales on Earth came from this realm when the walls between the worlds were thin. Cinderella, Snow White, the Swan Princess and many others were real people. Many of their descendants are Travelers for the Fairy Tale Realm. The main element for this realm is magic. The realm is covered in enchanted forests and cursed lands. Most people don't know about other realms and I have to use desecration when I cross over. I can't let them know that I am from another realm. As you can tell from my encounter with the wolf, this isn't always the case. Magic is kind of a pain in the ass to keep under control. Many powerful witches and creatures know about other realms and will find ways to cross over. Alvonia also has many more Travelers than any of the other realms and they don't all belong to our ancient order that is dedicated to the protection of the universe. Some like to cause problems, like that technology smuggling witch, the Red Lady.
I don't have much experience with Hell. It is the realm where demons roam and they are very aware of the Earth realm. The walls between our realms are very thin. Demons will sometimes cross over with ease. They have a thing for human souls. Not all demons are evil, some are my fellow Travelers but the realm tends to be ruled by darkness. The humans that reside in this realm are slaves to the demons.
Hibiscus pulled a silver bottle out of her pocket and started to dab a silvery liquid on the wounds on my hip. It felt crisp. That was the only way I could think to describe it. It was like biting in a crisp autumn apple straight from an orchard. I could feel the pain disappearing with the wound. "We got word of the bounty the Red Lady put on your life." She explained.
"Whoa!" I yelped out as Josh let out a low moan and stirred a little. I nearly kicked him in the head. "He's still alive!"
"Of course, he is." Hibiscus replied like it was obvious. "I am a servant of light. I do not take lives."
"I don't have a problem with it." John replied darkly as he twirled his axe in his hand. He had a history of wolf hunting.
Hibiscus shook her head at him. "He needs to be brought in for questioning. We need to find out how he got into this realm and the location of the Red Lady. The attempts on Twilight's life will not stop until the Red Lady is arrested."
"Can I seriously not go on a date without nearly being mauled to death?" I grumbled as I slowly rose to my feet.
"What is a date?" Hibiscus asked me with a puzzled expression.
"Sorry. It's like courting." I told her. People in her realm, especially princesses tend to have a different view on love then I do. They are very big into 'true love' and 'love at first sight'. Just causally seeing someone isn't something that is done there.
"You…were courting a wolf?" The princess's pretty face became even more confused.
"I didn't know he was a wolf." I replied in annoyance. "My friend set us up. I am pretty sure he must have bewitched her to arrange the date."
"I see…." She replied even though I had the feeling that she still didn't fully understand. "I am going to take the wolf back to headquarters for medical treatment. You should probably check in with your own headquarters and make them aware of the situation." She told me.
I nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I probably should."
"Would you like me to escort you?" John offered.
I shook my head. "I think I can manage. Thanks for coming to my rescue. Keep me informed on the situation. I have a feeling I will be in your realm shortly." I told them.
"Take care, Twilight. Be more wary of the men you choose to court." Hibiscus told me as she knelt down beside Josh and they both disappeared before my eyes, leaving a flowery aroma behind.
"Did she really just say that to me?"
John shrugged. "She means well. You know Hibiscus." With that bit of wisdom he disappeared as well leaving a scent of sawdust in the air.
I saw no point in hanging around in an alleyway by myself and teleported to my own headquarters. To teleport I draw from the same source of power that I use to cross between realms. I have to use a threshold in order to teleport, or travel. A threshold is an object that has been tainted with the bleeding of realms. It is usually something that was obtained when walls of realms are thin and two realms briefly merge. My threshold was a ruby ring that I wore on my middle finger of my left hand. It had been in my family for generations. The Traveler ability is usually genetic and had been passed through my family for many generations. We were one of the first know Travelers.
The Earth Traveler headquarters was located in a bunker in Antarctica. The only way to really get there was through traveling. William was in the office area when I traveled in. He was hunched over a several books at his desk. The books appeared to be bound in human flesh. They were most likely demonology books. I tend to not question about the things he researches. I looked in one of his books once and had nightmares for like a week. He is in charge of the Demon Realm Department.
He was a few years older than me. He was very pale due to his lack of sunshine. He spent most of his time inside at the Antarctic base doing research. He had shaggy black hair that was always hanging in his face. Every time I saw him I had the urge to take a pair of scissors and just cut off his bangs. He had intense grey eyes but it was hard to see them with him hiding behind his hair.
He stood up quickly when he caught sight of me. "Twilight? Are you okay?"
"A wolf just tried to maul me. Just another exciting day being me. Is Tony around?" I asked him.
"Yeah, he's in his office but….he's in a mood…." He told me carefully. I let out a tired sigh. Tony's moods were never a good thing. He had spent a very long time in the minor realm of Faeries. Not to be confused with the Fairy Tale Realm, the Faerie Realm was basically a branch off from the demon realm. Faeries tended to be evil creatures straight from Celtic myths that enjoyed stealing babies and eating human flesh. They were also big into human slavery.
As I navigated around the cubicles and made my way over to Tony's large office I could hear him mumbling to himself. It was mostly nonsense words over and over. I bit my lip and knocked on his door.
"Who is it?!" He demanded sharply.
"Twilight." I answered.
"Twilight moonlight false light. Lady in white light. I don't know any Twilight." He mumbled.
"Goddamn it…." I growled back. "Twilight Rosewood."
"Rosewood…." He muttered. "Come in."
I sighed and looked back to William who gave me a reassuring nod. I sighed again and opened the door. Tony's office was a mess. He had books and papers everywhere. His walls were covered in scribbles that I couldn't understand. I am not sure that they were written in a real language.
Tony was sitting on top of his desk staring up into his celling light. He looked to be in his mid-thirties but was well-over two hundred. Humans don't age in the Faerie Realm. He has short black hair that was streaked with a stripe of white by his temple. His eyes were a light green, almost grey and they always seemed to be searching for something I couldn't quite see. He was rarely in the present. He was wearing college sweatpants and a hoodie.
"Marilyn, when did you get back?" He asked as he finally looked over at me.
My words caught in my throat as he called me my mother's name. "It's Twilight. My mother died years ago." I told.
"Right, of course." He tiredly pinched the bridge of his nose. "I apologize. I am not myself today. Is this something you can discuss with William?" He asked.
"It's important." William replied from behind me. I hadn't realized that he had followed me in. "She was attacked by a wolf."
"A wolf? What happened?" Tony asked.
"I had a blind date and he turned out to be a wolf. The Red Lady had sent him on a hit on my life. I would probably be dead if Hibiscus and John hadn't shown up." I explained.
Tony frowned. "Hibiscus and John traveled to our realm? They do not like being over here. It must be very serious. When you are recovered I want you to go over to Alvania and find out everything that is going on regarding the Red Lady." He told me.
"How did the wolf get into our realm?" William questioned.
"Hell if I know. He said something about there being ways to get in that we don't know about." I shrugged. "I think he is just full of shit. Hibiscus and John are going to have him questioned."
"As soon as you find out how he got in, I want that gateway closed immediately." John commanded.
I nodded in agreement. I had figured as much. It was protocol when things got into realms they didn't belong in.
"Maybe you should check with your friend, Thorne and us her connections with the wolves to help find the Red Witch." Tony suggested.
"Okay, I will get on it first thing in the morning." I agreed.
"You should probably stay here tonight. It will be safer." William suggested.
I gave him a disgusted look. "I will be fine in my apartment."
"William is right. While that hit is on you, I want you to stay here. The guest rooms are all in order, take your pick." Tony told me.
I let out a sigh. "Thank you, Sir." I took my leave and left Tony to meditate or stare into space or whatever it is he does in his office. I promise he is a really good leader, it's just some days are better than others. When you spend a lot of time in the Faerie realm and then return to Earth it can really mess you up. William is the next most qualified to lead and we often turned to him when Tony was in space case mode.
"Um, Will? I think your book is bleeding." I frowned as I saw that William's desk was covered in blood that appeared to be oozing from a book.
"Shit!" He pushed past me and started to perform some incantation over the demonic pages. I wandered over to my desk to see if I had anything to eat hidden in its depths. There were only about eight desks in the room. Travelers have a short life span and the genetic bloodlines on Earth were drying up. Sometimes a random person without any family history of traveling will become a Traveler but it's very rare.
I managed to locate a bag of Cheetos and headed down the hallway. We kept a couple of guestrooms at headquarters in case of emergencies like mine or in case we have guests from other realms for an extended period of time. I made a stop in the locker room to get my emergency overnight bag. Attempts on my life had been made on me before so I was prepared with the necessary items for overnight refuge away from my apartment. Sometimes I wondered what I would be doing on a Friday if I wasn't trying to keep universal balance.