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  1. #181
    Meliarus and Ethelas

    Ethelas was staring moodily at the wall of his chamber when his brother entered the room.

    "Stop brooding," Meliarus said bluntly.

    "I'm not brooding..."

    "You are," the other Fae replied expressionlessly. "But no matter. I have news that will cheer you up. Do you fancy a hunt?"

    Ethelas shook his head. "You heard the queen. We are not to interfere with the Lycans anymore. For the moment, we have no choice but to listen to her."

    One day, the two of them would be in charge. But they weren't ready to make their move yet. They had stirred some of the court to discontent with Iphigenia, but not enough of them. Not yet. They could not try to seize the reins of power until they were sure they would succeed.

    "Not Lycans," Meliarus replied with a glint in his eye. "Something new. Something Iphigenia would try to ignore - a threat we can stop. It will give us leverage with the court, when they see how we dealt with things she would shy away from."
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #182
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff

    When Clare starting getting real personal real quick, Riff didn't know what to do. It felt like he shouldn't be listening...or at least not watching wide eyed like he was. When Clare brought him up as the first Lycan she'd met, he grinned helpfully. At least he hoped it was helpfully. Perhaps he shouldn't have shown so much teeth? It wasn't anything he'd really thought about. Riff was pretty comfortable with himself and forgot that he was 'supposed' to be intimidating simply because of what he could become.

    When Iphigenia made her request, he sat up at attention. She was going to do it. She was really going to meet with Isaac. He hoped his grin wasn't over-eager as he replied, "Absolutely, your Ladyship! I can definitely do that!" He'd totally missed Clare's concerns as he was simply too happy that things were going to be moving forward faster than anyone ever hoped. Under the table, he found Maria's hand and squeezed it. Everything was going to be so good...
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  3. #183
    Declan McDermott

    As Clare was settling the bill, Declan tried to make awkward small talk with Iphigenia - but it was clear that he had no idea what topics of conversation would engage his future mother-in-law, and Iphigenia seemed to be only half listening, staring out the window. The Fae leader's gaze fell upon the library sign across the street, and her eyes suddenly glinted.

    "Isaac sells books at that emporium, I believe?" Iphigenia asked.

    "Um... he lends them, Mrs. Murphy. Library books aren't for sale..." Declan attempted valiantly.

    Iphigenia dismissed him with a wave of her hand. "But it's Isaac's establishment, yes?"

    Declan could have argued that the library belonged to all the citizens of Hollywell. Or that his mother worked there too. But that seemed like a losing battle.

    "Yep, Isaac is the director there," he agreed.

    "Good!" Iphigenia replied. "Let us go there and speak to him now, while the signs are still auspicious."

    Declan knew enough about stage fright to understand that 'while the signs are still auspicious' really meant 'before I lose my nerve.' He didn't draw attention to it, though. If Iphigenia had found motivation, he wasn't going to try to dissuade her.

    Once Clare had returned - and seeming to draw confidence from her middle daughter - Iphigenia marched across the street to the library, somehow managing to look regal despite the circumstances. Isaac was sitting at the circulation desk, and he looked up in surprise when he caught a whiff of multiple Fae entering.

    "Mr. Isaac," Iphigenia said. "My lord. I wish to parley with you, for the good of our people."

    Isaac took a look around the room. A few patrons had glanced over curiously, but soon returned to their books when it didn't seem anything interesting was going to happen.

    "Certainly," Isaac replied calmly. "You are welcome here. But let's discuss this in my office, shall we? I would prefer to conduct our business with more discretion."

    Iphigenia briefly seemed nervous about going someplace less public with the Lycan - although not much less public, given how much of an entourage they had brought. Once she realized she was no more likely to be murdered and eaten in Isaac's office than in the main room of the library, she followed him with her head held high.

    Isaac brought in chairs - a bit of a squeeze, in the space of the office - and took a seat behind his desk. Declan noticed Iphigenia looking at a framed picture on the desktop, someone Declan recognized as Isaac's wife, Gilda. Declan wondered what the Fae leader was thinking, but Iphigenia said nothing.

    "I'm glad you came," Isaac said warmly. "A little surprised, yes, but..."

    The door burst open. Meliarus and Ethelas entered, and bowed to Iphigenia - at least as far as they could, in the tight space.

    "My lady," Ethelas said. "We come bearing news, and urgently await your command. We have discovered mage activity here on the island. As always, these mages have chosen to use this reality as their plaything. We have located an extradimensional being of great evil. If it is your will, my lady, we will hunt this creature down in defense of your people. It... is your will, isn't it?"

    Iphigenia... hesitated.

  4. #184
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff

    Though he wasn't distinctly invited, the Lycan felt that he should go along with Iphigenia. After all, he was supposed to be setting up the meeting for her in the first place. In a way, he was glad the meeting wasn't hinging on the eradication of the other pack...who knows how long that might take and a friendship between the Fae and their Pack would be better happening sooner rather than later. He squished into Isaac's office alongside everyone else when two familiar faces came barging through the door. Riff wasn't sure what to think of them, but their news got him excited.

    "Wow! You have MAGES here too? Fog Island is the best! I wonder if they know my buddy Tim..." He trailed off as his brain caught up with the rest of Ethelas' pronouncement. Staring at the man, blinking, he paused before adding, "Though he never bent reality that I know of. What kind of extradimensional being? I'm not sure I've met one - can we go see it?"

    Riff wasn't about to tell Iphigenia what to do, but from what he knew of these two guys, they were a little dagger-happy. Telling them they could run off and kill something didn't seem like the best of plans. Besides, he really did want to see what an extradimensional being looked like.

  5. #185
    Isaac Fishblatt

    Isaac's face remained completely impassive as everyone spoke - but as Riff said his piece, Iphigenia looked slightly relieved.

    Ethelas and Meliarus were clearly less impressed with the Lycan's intervention; disdain was plain on both of their faces.

    "Your friend may have done some parlor tricks," Meliarus said dismissively. "But we're talking about serious power here. These mages made a small island appear..."

    For the first time, Isaac allowed his interest to show - at the mention of the appearance of an island, he leaned forward slightly. But it seemed this point would not be elaborated.

    "We're beginning to dig into the activities going on there," Ethelas went on. "And it is disturbing. Frankly, I think we will need to burn the whole place to the ground before this is through, to cleanse our land. But the immediate problem is this being I spoke of. No, you may not just go 'see' him. This is not a - how do the mortals say it? - a petting zoo. This creature is highly dangerous. There are realms and dimensions beyond our own. Some of them contain beings that are malevolent by nature. Nightmares, monsters, terrors. We cannot allow intruders to crawl out of this abyss and infect our own reality. This evil must be purged!"

    Ethelas and Meliarus seemed utterly sure. Utterly confident in their pronouncements. But Isaac looked troubled.

    "What has he done?" Isaac asked quietly.

    The brothers exchanged a look. "Ethelas told you what he is..." Meliarus said impatiently.

    But Isaac was shaking his head. "That's not what I asked. I asked what he has done. What evil actions cause you to perceive him as a threat that you must meet with lethal force?"

    "His plane of origin is a hellscape! A land of monsters and bad dreams..."

    "So you're saying he hasn't done anything," Isaac replied, calmly at first but then gathering a tenor of emotion. "His only crime is that he exists. That you don't approve of his origins. That he dares to breathe the same air as you do. Am I missing anything...?"

    "Some creatures are born evil!" Ethelas insisted.

    "Yes, you've said that," Isaac said, a trifle curtly. "But my people are not murderers. I will not support this."

    Iphigenia was very startled. She was very aware that these two courtiers were trying to back her into a corner by making her look weak when she demanded caution - but to her surprise, Isaac had landed on her side for a completely different reason. Perhaps an alliance might have some merit after all.

  6. #186
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    Riff

    The Lycan was not to be deterred. The story just kept getting better and better. They created a whole island? Hellscape? Did this mean that Hellboy might actually exist? Riff's mind was abuzz with possibilities, but he managed to rein in his enthusiasm for what he finally perceived as a touchy situation. Isaac was right, of course, that condemning someone based on a perception rather than their actions was not only foolish, but corrupt.

    "I am pretty sure that there are some folk that would say the same about us - being born evil, that is. Doesn't seem fair to offer the same judgment on someone else when we haven't even met them."

    He bobbed his head as though the words were sage, but paused rather suddenly.

    "We are going to meet them, right?"

    He looked between Isaac and Iphigenia before he mouthed 'Hellboy!' to Declan and raised his eyebrows to a level suggesting supreme excitement.

  7. #187
    "Yes, we're going to meet them," Isaac said. His tone remained utterly serene, and he never raised his voice - but somehow when Ethelas tried to interrupt him, it didn't quite work. Isaac went on, "We will welcome them to this island - and I don't mean that sarcastically or euphemistically. Our Pack will greet them in friendship, until we are given reason not to."

    Iphigenia nodded. Isaac's stand seemed to have given her confidence. "I will not give permission for any action to be taken against them," Iphigenia said firmly. "Isaac, can we rely on your Pack to gather information on this situation, and report to us if any threat to us exists?"

    Isaac nodded, "We will," he agreed.

    Declan smiled back at Riff... not quite as enthusiastically, however. All of this was a lot. A few weeks ago, he'd only had a vague folk belief in Fae - now Fae and Lycans were somehow a major part of his life. He was glad his eyes had been opened; he was glad that Clare had finally been able to be fully honest with him. But it was still a lot. In some ways he was still adjusting. Fae and Lycans seemed reasonable now. Vampires... well, he could get there, if he met one. But mages? Creatures from other dimensions? That sounded more like some weird H.P. Lovecraft story than the real life of the ordinary guy musician son of a librarian and a bus driver.

    Riff's joy was contagious, though. And Declan had liked that movie. Maybe it would turn out okay after all.

    Without a word, Ethelas and Meliarus stormed out. By Fae court etiquette, they should have bowed to Iphigenia. She ignored the slight, it was unimportant in the grand scheme of things - but what it signified worried her. If members of her court were showing disrespect in public - in front of those who were not Fae, even - they must be teetering right on the brink. She would face open opposition sooner rather than later, and she must prepare herself for it.

    "So... how to we find this island?" Isaac mused.

    "We could try looking at a GPS, and see what's there that wasn't before," Clare suggested.

    Isaac blinked. The sheer simplicity of the idea - and yet it just might work. He pulled out his phone and opened the maps app. "Good call, Clare. I'll start close to home, since they didn't mention anything about a long trip to get there. Ah. There it is. Longhome Island? Right off the coast near Hollywell."

    Declan shook his head. "Nah, that was always there."

    Clare gave him an odd look. "No it wasn't. I've never heard of that before today."

    "It was. I remember..." But the more Declan thought about it, the more he couldn't come up with any specific memories. No one who lived there, no one who had been there, no amusing anecdotes...

    "That's part of the magecraft," Iphigenia explained. "An island appearing out of nowhere would cause far too much suspicion, even in a place like Fog Island where people would rather just look the other way and not wonder. The mage will have cloaked it by hiding in plain sight - presumably by rendering humans convinced it was always there. Rather clever, really. No offense, Declan."

    "None taken, Mrs. Murphy."

    "Hmm... there doesn't seem to be a bridge or land route," Isaac noticed. "It's entirely surrounded by water. We'll need to go by boat. Riff, I think it goes without saying that you'll want to go along? And Clare? I would suggest that Declan, Maria, and Sofie remain here until we're sure what we're dealing with, just in case."

    When everyone was prepared, their boat would set off to explore this mysteriously appearing island.

  8. #188
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff

    The mage had to be pretty powerful to not only make an island appear out of nowhere but to influence every human mind as to its existence. It also struck him as thorough. The amount of preparation and care that must have gone into the whole enterprise...he was sure he didn't know the half of it.

    Once in the boat with the island in sight, things suddenly seemed much more real. And not only real, but not entirely as he had expected. The island seemed...nice. At least, Mordor wasn't sitting in the middle of it. It looked more like it belonged next to Fog Island than anything else. He pulled up on a small stretch of beach, leaping out to pull the craft up beyond the threat of being pulled back out to sea.

    Looking around, the place didn't look inhabited. He looked at Isaac and shrugged, "Where do we start? Yelling 'hello, we come in peace'?"

  9. #189
    Isaac Fishblatt

    Before they left for the island, Isaac had a brief stop to make. Fortunately it was a slow day at the library and Sue could handle it while he slipped away, but he called Gilda let her know where he was going, then dropped by Keisha's clinic to check on the hybrid Fae who were the newest members of their Pack.

    "How are they doing?" Isaac asked when he arrived.

    "Depends on your definitions, I guess," Keisha said bluntly. "They're going to live. But there's damage I can't fix. I can't regrow lost body parts. So..."

    Isaac nodded. "I understand. May I see them?"

    They were awake when Isaac entered the room, and regarded the Lycan leader with wary, worried eyes. The results of Auguste's cruel experiments were obvious. Missing limbs, horrific scars, amputated chunks of flesh... if only they had been found sooner, Isaac thought regretfully. But he smiled at them.

    "Hello," he said. "I want to welcome you to our Pack properly. You have a home here with us, for as long as you want it. I claimed you as Pack members for the sake of diplomacy - but it can be more than that, if you wish it. I would invite you to consider us family, if you so choose. You don't need to decide right away. I'm sure things look very dark and grim right now. But things will get better. You will heal, and what you can't heal from, you will adjust to. The future will look brighter soon. I promise."


    ***


    When they landed on the shore of the island, Isaac took a long look around. It wasn't quite what he had expected. It looked... ordinary. The few houses he could see in the distance looked a little different than the architecture styles that were popular locally - more New England than Northern Canadian - but otherwise they could have been there from the start, if he hadn't know better. There was nothing odd, or frightening, or obviously supernatural... at least not at first glance. Even the air smelled normal, just salt spray and clean earth.

    "Oh, they'll already know we're here," Isaac assured Riff. "They probably knew we were coming long before we landed. Now we wait."

    Isaac stood patiently, a smile on his face, a freshly-baked pie sent by Gilda as a welcome present clutched in his hands. It didn't take long before someone came to meet them.

    It was a woman, her long brown hair coiled into a bun, casually dressed in jeans and a loose cardigan, feet bare as she trod the sand with her loafers clutched in her hand. Not quite how Isaac imaged a mage dressing... but this was definitely a mage. Isaac could sense the latent energy that resided in her ordinary-looking form.

    There was something else...

    "Interesting," he muttered to Riff under his breath.

    There was something inhuman about the woman. It was subtle, mingled with human DNA, but it was there. This wasn't the creature from the nightmare dimension, though. In fact this seemed... rather the polar opposite. The energy she radiated was that of purity and light, but a strangely alien or otherworldly version.

    "Hello," the woman said cheerfully. "I'm Ellen Greenway. What brings you here today?"
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 08-21-2020 at 07:24 PM.

  10. #190
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    Riff

    His pants were wet up to the knees from pulling in the boat and even as he looked around, he couldn't help but feel a little intimidated. A whole island...them knowing that they were coming before they even started on their way here...maybe Riff didn't know mages very well after all. Maybe Tim was an odd man out and...

    Riff breathed a sigh of relief. The casual dress of the woman, her friendly demeanour - that fit his mental image of a mage pretty much to a tee. Forgetting to be nervous, and his previous excitement building back up, he waved and grinned.

    "Hi! I'm Riff - welcome to the neighbourhood!" He stopped and cleared his throat, remembering that he was certainly not the most important person in his party, and scuttled backwards by moving his toes in and out rapidly in the sand. Of course, that he shouldn't have been first to speak didn't stop his grinning. Though he was doing his best to pay attention to Ellen, he couldn't help but glance over her shoulder to see if he could spot the elusive Hellboy.

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