Authors: Bonnie Lamer
Whirling around to Kallen, I stomp towards him. The closer I get, the more he eyes my amulet. Good, I should touch him again just for the satisfaction of removing the smug expression from his face. I’m just inches from him when I stop and stand akimbo. Through gritted teeth, I practically growl at him. “Why are you really here? I don’t believe for a second that you care that much about the fate of humans or me.”
“On the contrary, I am quite concerned about your fate.”
“Right. What’s in this for you?”
“The knowledge that I have prevented the destruction of a lesser civilization.” He actually says this with a straight face but the gleam in his eyes tells me that that is far from the real reason.
I’m about to say something else when Mom and Dad float through the living room wall. Mom has a determined look on her face and Dad has a worried one. He floats to my side and places his cold hand on my shoulder in a show of support. “Julienne, there has to be another way. We can’t put our daughter’s life in the hands of a complete stranger.” Finally, someone is taking my side.
“Jim, I don’t see that we have any other choice. I just don’t know enough about the ways of the Fae. That knowledge was not passed down to me. I don’t know if that is because it is lost or if my parents were planning to include that in my education but I left before that time.” I can see some lingering guilt in her eyes about how she left her parents.
Dad looks long and hard at Kallen. Finally, he asks, “What would you do to protect my daughter?”
What? He’s seriously considering this, too? “Dad, no! What is wrong with you guys? You were the ones who told me not to talk to strangers let alone go off with one and here you two are saying I should do both.”
Kallen once again ignores my complaints. “I believe it would be best to keep her in the mountains where she could practice her magic without drawing attention to herself. I would be able to shield our path from detection by Maurelle and Olwyn.”
“You mean live outside? In the snow?” Yeah, like that’s going to happen!
Kallen has that disdainful look on his face again. “You are half Fairy. Living in the open air should come naturally to you.”
“Yeah, well, apparently I didn’t get that gene. What’s your plan – to live in caves and eat berries from trees?”
“If we are lucky enough to find a cave that would provide adequate shelter from precipitation, then yes.”
Seriously, this is not my life. I cannot really be standing here discussing living in caves with a Fairy. And my parents are on his side. Definitely an alternate reality.
Mom still has that determined look on her face. “Xandra, if he takes a blood oath to protect you and he fails, he will die.”
Well, there is that I guess. But that’s still not enough for me. “How can you seriously be floating there telling me I’d be safer with
when you can’t even say his name?”
Mom looks confused. “What?”
“Not once since we brought him inside have you called him by name. If you trust him so much then how come you barely look at him or talk to him and you don’t use his name?”
“Xandra, I am not doing that. I have no problem calling him by his name.”
“See, you did it again! You said him instead of Kallen.”
“She will not speak my name because it will lessen the affect of her magic on me,” Kallen says from the couch.
I think Mom is just as dumbfounded as I am. “What do you mean?” I ask him.
Kallen looks at me evenly as he explains. “It was probably taught to her when she was very young, as it always was with Witches, that calling a Fairy by name lessens the effect of her magic on that Fairy. She may not even realize she is doing it as it was probably repeated so often to her when she was young that it became etched into her mind as a natural response. Apparently some of the old teachings have held true.”
Turning back to Mom, I ask, “Is that true?”
Mom gives me a half shrug. “I do seem to have trouble letting his name pass through my lips.”
I whirl angrily back around to Kallen. “So what you’re saying is that every time I have said your name it has lessened my ability to use whatever magic I may have against you?”
I don’t miss how he has to keep his lips from curling up on the sides. “Your Witch magic may not have such a strong effect upon me now.”
“But since my mom hasn’t said your name, her magic is still pretty powerful against you, right?”
He inclines his head. “That is correct. For the time being, anyway.”
“Good.” I march over to the couch and before he understands what I’m going to do, I touch his bare chest with my hand and my amulet flares into a blinding light. He flings himself back so hard that he knocks the couch over and does a somersault as he hits the floor. Scrambling to his feet he backs away a few more steps and glares at me. “You do realize that is tremendously painful?”
I smile sweetly. “Yup.”
“Xandra, that wasn’t nice,” Mom admonishes but there isn’t any real chastisement in her words. Looking at the way she’s now trying to keep a smile off her face, I think she may have even found it as funny as I did.
Trying to look as innocent as possible, I say to Kallen, “I was just trying to determine if your theory was correct.” He doesn’t say anything; he just picks up the couch as he watches me warily, his anger seething from his pores.
“How long before the other two will have recovered from their injuries?” Mom asks him.
Swinging his eyes to her, he says, “Assuming they brought powerful healing herbs with them from our realm, I would say no more than two or three days at the most. That would give us a decent head start.”
“What do you mean, head start? I thought you were powerful enough to keep them from finding us?” I knew it was all lies.
“I can keep them from finding us magically but they are not stupid. They will assume that I will keep you in these mountains.”
“If that’s true, then why stay here?” Is he stupid or what?
Once again, he looks at me with condescension. “Where else do you propose you should learn to control your magic? Perhaps in the very large city down the mountain filled with Cowan? What do you think would happen to them if they were caught in your uncontrolled magic?”
“There are other places in the world besides these mountains that don’t have very many people around,” I huff.
“And travelling to those places would take up valuable time that could be spent on your training,” Kallen countered.
I’m really getting tired of the way he has an answer for everything I say. “I don’t want to go with you.”
He crosses his arms over his chest covering the red mark that is still there from when I touched him. “And I am not overjoyed by having the task of training a headstrong and ignorant young girl but it seems that fate has ignored both of our desires.”
“Xandra,” Mom says softly. “I think it’s for the best.” The look on her face tells me that she’s made her decision and there won’t be any talking her out of it. Arguing more would be pointless.
“Fine, I guess I’ll go pack,” I say sullenly as I stomp out of the room. Immature yes, but it makes me feel better regardless.
In my room, I stop and look around at my things. What do you take when you’re going off into the mountains in the middle of winter to learn magic from a jerkwad Fairy? One more failing in my education thus far, I guess.
Going to my closet, I open the sliding doors and dig around on the floor until I find my camping backpack way at the back that I was hoping to never have to use again since Dad didn’t think it was safe to make us go camping with him if he wasn’t corporeal. I set it on my bed and start pulling things out of my drawers. I throw in several pairs of heavy wool socks and a couple of pairs of gray long underwear. Yet again a time in my life where climate wins out over fashion. I am able to fit in three pairs of jeans, three turtle necks and three heavy sweaters and several pairs of underwear. It’s hard getting the zipper closed but I finally manage.
Just as I finish zipping it, Mom and Dad come in my room. “I’m busy packing,” I tell them. I’m still not done sulking yet.
“Xandra, you understand we’re doing this because we honestly think it’s the best thing for you, right?” Mom asks. I look at her and I can tell she really believes that. Dad is trying to look supportive next to her but it’s obvious he’s still not a hundred percent sure about this plan.
I pick up my backpack that already has my sleeping bag rolled up and attached to the bottom of it and walk past them. Over my shoulder, I say, “Dad, what should I pack besides my clothes?”
“Xandra, can we please talk about this?” Mom asks.
I shake my head. “You’ve already made the decision so there’s nothing to talk about. If you think you’re going to get me to believe that this is the right thing to do, you might as well not even try. I think this plan stinks. You’re basically giving me to a stranger who for all you know could be a homicidal maniac who’s going to kill me as soon as we’re out of sight.” I open my bedroom door and walk out without glancing back.
I carry my back pack to the kitchen pantry. Using the step ladder, I collect some of the camping gear I had moved aside earlier to get Mom’s box of plants. I bring down two sets of metal dishes, a lantern, a flashlight, and a small kerosene cook stove and I put them all in the appropriate side and front pockets of my back pack. When I come out of the pantry, Mom and Dad are standing there looking shell-shocked. They don’t say anything and neither do I.
“For what it’s worth, I’m not a homicidal maniac.” Kallen is standing in the doorway of the kitchen leaning on the frame with his arms crossed over his bare chest. His head almost reaches the top of the doorway.
I tilt my head and give him a dirty look. “Like you’d admit it if you were.”
He ponders that for a moment and then smiles. “I concede that point to you.”
“Great,” I mumble. I walk around Mom and Dad to bring my backpack into the living room. Kallen is still in the doorway so I glower at him until he moves which he finally does and I don’t miss the humor in his eye. Glad he thinks this is so funny.
Once in the living room, I drop my back pack on the floor and drop into the recliner to wait for whatever horrible thing is going to happen next. Maybe we could round up some poisonous spiders and snakes to put in my sleeping bag just for the fun of it. Okay, I’m not handling this well at all, but who would?
It’s several minutes before my parents float back into the room. This time, Aunt Barb is trailing behind them. She has a small ceramic bowl and a knife in her hand. Okay, maybe it’s not snakes or spiders but it definitely looks as if things are going to get worse. “What are those for?” I ask her.
My mom answers for her. “For the blood oath. You and he will be bound with your lives to the promise that is set forth with your blood. If he fails you, he will die.”