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The Library

Date: 05-06-10
Poster: Michael McAndrews
Post # 1

Behind Sealed Doors

Life had its way of keeping one busy so that socializing became a thing one was going to do. The going to do ended up months hence when he finally made his way down from his manor. Lei left at the castle to play with those there her age. She was growing up too fast for him and he was going to see about bringing her to stay with Danielle or some other soft hearted woman willing to tell her the facts of life and all those things he found himself speechless with. Sun streaked darker blond hair was getting long again as it was tamed back into a tail secured with a leather strap. Braids mingled in. White poet's shirt showed off the tan he had gained nicely for working in the fields of grapevines. Black pants and sandals on his feet this evening. The most noticeable thing about Michael McAndrews was the glowing blue eyes or so appeared for another level the druid was immersed in. With the door open he was up the steps and within in a long easy stride. "Alex! Good to see you again," already calling out in a booming voice yet one that was pleasant to the ear in sound. He would proceed to gain the glass along with the bottle of potcheen and share some information with the respected tender while none were about that needed his service.

It was the eyes that had drawn Abigail the first time she had seen him. That and the mystery that surrounded the man himself. Tonight, it was her turn to appear as she had heard a little birdie say that Michael and Lei were visiting. As soon as she was able to close the library, she sought him out, finally making her way to the Thistle. The warmer days had her wearing a short sleeved gown of cotton dyed the color of new spring leaves with the bodice covered with eyelet lace. Red hair had been allowed to fall free, with a braid to frame the right side. She moved silently into the room, knowing that Michael would still know she was near, even if she didn't speak a word.

Lei had probably stolen herself away to the library to take out a few books to read that evening after play and socializing was done. There was less play as she was getting older, or at least the kind that children did. "I was hoping you might come from beneath the dust covered pages," speaking as he turned as obviously he knew she was there. Perhaps it was the perfume she wore or just the scent that was hers.  Dimples showed with his smile as he indicated a stool near where he stood. "Come join me. It has been a while Abby. There is much to speak on." The door in the library had been showing up in his dreams with pounding behind it. The one that was behind one of the bigger shelves with a tapestry over it or so it was shown in his dreams and demanded to be found.

They had uncovered the door some time ago, and then pushed the shelves back. She had been finding herself avoiding the area if she was alone. She had spoken with Lei and was astounded to see how much the girl had grown. Poor Michael was going to have his hands full when she discovered boys. "It just takes a whisper and here I am. Good eve, Alex." The tender received a warm smile as she crossed the room to Michael. Tipping her head back, because all of the McAndrews men were tall, she studied his face. "How have you been, Michael?"

This was another one. That was the thing, there were two hidden doors. "A whisper was placed upon the breeze. I've had unsettling dreams of late over a door. Not the one we have discovered but another that is hidden well. They will need to be opened. I will speak to the Queen about any keys and permission but I have a feeling first we will need to find the keys, they will not open otherwise." Due to his height he straddled a stool which would put him on a better level with her. She'd probably notice the twinkle in his eyes the dimple next to the quirky smile.

"Another door? Is it in the same area as the first?" She knew there were some shelves that seemed to have never been moved, or weren't easy to do so. "Hopefully the keys will be found then." She laughed when he sat, know exactly why that twinkle was in his eye. The laugh faded with a thought. "Do the dreams trouble you so much you don't get rest?"

"I get what rest I need. The dreams are not nightmares for me but perhaps another would view them differently. I believe one has to do with the dark years and the other has to do with a doorway to another place, perhaps not of this plane we currently tread upon." Which Abby would know what he spoke on for his ability to astral project them to ancient sites and walk amongst the living at that time period.

"And the only way to be certain, is go through them?" She had been looking forward to their next journey though this one might not be so pleasant. "It might be nice to not have dreams affect you badly."

"Have you had any dreams on them or impressions?" He was curious for she worked in the place and there would be disturbances on that other level. One she was becoming attuned to.

"No, no dreams but I've noticed the door I had found seems to have a cold feel to it. People have avoided it and one other area at the far end of the room." She thanked Alex for her drink then looked back to Michael. "And I don't care to go near either when I'm in there alone." She didn't feel so bad telling him.

"Luckily you are wary enough not to try and open the door yourself. I know curiosity is a mien but the unknown of certain things it is not wise. Earthbound spirits are sometimes bent on revenge for being wronged, being robbed of their life to be able to play it out."

"Yes, and there are enough of those here." She knew about the theater, the hospital. "Of course, if you're need my help, I'm ready to join you." She wasn't sure what she could do but was certain he had told her of the second door for that reason.

"I am not sure the second door is actually in the library or the floor above," which would put it in the art gallery. A hand lifted to not quite touch along her cheek as the glow caressed in a warmth that was more than heat. "I do not wish any harm to come to you but to take any more journeys, especially with Lei along or anyone else, it has been the catalyst in awakening that which was sealed away."

"If that's the case, you may need me along since we took those journeys together." They had been pleasant ones and the thought that this one might not caused her to give a little shiver, in spite of the warmth. "But of course, we must wait until the keys are found." Unless he could find a way around that little problem.

"What I mean is that we need to address both doors before we can attempt to travel on the astral planes again. If we do not, whatever it is may invade them for they are not limited by the physical body as we are and I will not have you vulnerable nor my daughter." He was different and his powers were great but he'd not chance them to his ego. "The one we know if needs to be addressed first."

"Oh!" She understood now but she blushed slightly nevertheless at her mistake. "Soon then." She knew Lei wanted to join them on any other journeys. The girl seemed to be following in her father's footsteps.

"It is late but you've the key to the library, perhaps we can start our investigation tonight? It will be better than with others around as happens all day long." So night would be the best time although some would think not. Things that go bump in the night can be awaken. He finished his drink as he'd take the bottle of the potcheen with him. Perhaps not necessarily to drink.

She had nearly finished her own drink and quickly downed the rest. "Yes, I have it with me." She patted the pocket in the skirt of her gown. Another little shiver moved through her, but she squared her shoulders and smiled. It wasn't that she was afraid. She had been in the library many times alone. It was what they would be doing.

Farewell given Alex as the two made their way out into a bonnie night that spoke of paranormal experiences waiting for them.



Date: 07-14-10
Poster: Abigail Frasier
Post # 2

More than Books

Michael was wandering the isles of books. Each step could be heard for the quiet, no matter the fact he walked near silently. One could hear the buzzing of a fly that had gotten trapped in the room trying to find his way out. Titles along the bindings were glanced over but Michael was listening for something else, something even more than Abigail who he knew was about somewhere in the building and would probably happen upon her in a startle surprise. That thought had the curve of his lips come with a dimple or three.

Abigail was in a corner of the room that she had made into her 'office'. The sound of footsteps didn't make her nervous since it was a usual occurrence, even when she was alone. There was something different about the steps though and she looked up for a moment before standing and moving into the aisles to see if she could find the source. She was wearing a gown of pale yellow linen with a white ribbon belt at the waist and thinner ribbon along the neckline and hem of the short sleeves and skirt of the gown. Her hair had been pulled into a bun because of the warmer day.

The footsteps stopped or so the sound of them had. Silence fell like a veil as if the library was transformed and spun off into an otherworldly place. That's when Abigail would hear the familiar voice just behind her left ear. "Looking for someone?"

She felt a little shiver when everything went quiet, and tipped her head slightly. Just as she was about to speak out, she heard Michael's voice and turned with a yelp of surprise. Hand to her throat, she looked up at him with eyes wide. "Heavens, you nearly scared me out of my sandals!" And then she hugged him tightly, glad it was him and not some ghostie.

Which had hands slide around her waist so she didn't topple in her surprise. Smile only tucked more within the trimmed blond beard as he drew her closer, or was it he took a step closer and into a hug as she hugged. Eyes closed as he wrapped them up in that comfort zone he could bring out. "I thought I'd come here like old times." Which was when the place was at its quietest or she alone in the later hours when most had gone home. "Have there been other disturbances?" The thought coming for usually he might surprise her over scaring her. The glow of blue eyes upon her face as he eased some from the hug.

"I'm glad you did. I've been missing those visits. " She leaned against him briefly until he asked his question, then she looked up at him. "Nothing dangerous, I don't think. Just voices at odd moments, when I know no one is here, or footsteps. Lately it's been the giggle of a child though that brings a smile to my face. There is so much joy to the sound. And I can never pinpoint where they're coming from." She smiled as she continued. "So, I blame them on normal castle sounds."

"They? So there is more than the giggle of a child? Were you able to make out any words or sentences of the other ones? Ever see any of them or did you find the area empty when you got there?  Can you show me the areas? It might be a good start. Have you tried the locked door, been around it at all lately?"

"There are several voices. Both male and female. I've mostly heard only murmurs as if they are speaking in low voices. But I did hear one woman say it grows late in a voice that was filled with worry. As I said, I can't pinpoint the areas exactly. General, yes ... near the window by the first door and the other in the area near the romantic fiction and the south wall. The child comes from different places, as if she's playing and moving about."

He was taking it all in as he kept an arm around her, guiding her to the first spot she mentioned. "Windows can go both ways. Maybe see what is seen when looking out that window." Even at night there would be lamplights and maybe something in particular, such as a certain building or tree would be of interest.

There was comfort in the way he guided her, and she smiled again. She was glad that he believed her but then, she never doubted that he wouldn't. Michael had that way about him. As they approached the window, she felt a hint of chilled air, far more than was normal for such a night.

Something he didn't tell her in this, was he felt that these spirits were reaching out to her in their very own way. Hands curved over her shoulders as he stepped behind, having her face the window and the view beyond. "What do you see?" Although really it was what they would guide her to see beyond the panes of glass if there was anything here to be revealed.

She looked up at him then turned toward the window. The street lamps were lit but they seemed to be flickering, She leaned forward, close to the glass. "There are people out there, as if the night is too hot to be indoors but I don't see any children running about so it must be late. It's not the normal view." She straightened and looked at him, disappointed. "It's gone now."

"Do you recognize any of the faces or do any look familiar in a way you can't explain? What style clothing where they wearing? Today's? Decades ago or even centuries?" Turning her as with a dip of his chin the glow of blue eyes held hers, he would wait on her answers before asking any more.

"None looked familiar to me." She looked up at him, a slight frown marring her brow. "I would say the clothing was like that of a few decades ago but I'm not sure it was Heathfield I was looking at. The buildings seemed to be in a fog." Her eyes met his as she continued. "Because there were no children, I believe it was later in the evening, when most would be in or asleep."

"Those you saw, were they young adults, middle age or older?" Any and all information could be important. "You didn't recognize any of the buildings then? I believe most of the buildings you can see from that window have been around a while but not as long as the castle has been. In fact, this is not the original castle but built on the same grounds as the original."

"A mix of young and middle age. Perhaps one or two older." She shook her head at the question about the buildings. "No, I didn't. A few had a glow in the windows as if lanterns were lit but I'm certain I didn't recognize them."  She gave a hint of an impish smile. "Especially since I look out that window every day."

"So nothing unusual other than it was evening and there were a few people wandering about. Approximately, or exactly, how many?" He was taking in her reply, "then the window of time you looked through may not be of these lands. Were there any clues? Name on a store or sign, a building that stood out from the rest?"

"No, nothing that stood out though one building could have been a tavern, or inn. People seemed to go in and out and it was well lit. Some of them seemed agitated and were gathered in a small group of maybe six. Mostly men though one lass stood near them as if listening." She shook her head. "Nothing more than that I'm afraid."

"Not a whole lot to go on presently but that could change as we learn more. Anything else that goes on here at night out of the ordinary?" Trying to cover all bases as hands eased from her shoulders. Mostly so one could dip into his pants pocket. Drawing out a keyring with a few very old keys on it. "Maybe it is time to open that door in the private area of the library." One that was marked off to only a few, mostly royals and she of course to keep it clean. Lifting the key chain to dangle. "These were found recently and given into my care when I asked permission to explore areas of this library with you."

"No, nothing more than a few books moved occasionally but that's always happened since I started here." She chuckled and shrugged. "I figured every library should have a few ghosts." She watched him a moment then laughed, eyes bright even in the dim light of torches and candles. "Wonderful. Now to figure out which one."

"It is most likely one of these three. I will let you do the honors," giving a wink as dimples joined his smile while he took her hand in his to place the keys there against its palm. Fingers gently closing them over the treasure. Of course that remained to be seen. He was over to collect one of the larger candles to light their way. "Now is as good a time as any for it might help those earthbound souls finally be able to leave. This library doesn't need them that much and the memory of them will suit fine." As in it was more important that these souls continue their journey than remain stuck here, not living and yet not quite in the life hereafter.

Accepting the keys, she smiled up at him, and nodded. It would be good for them to be on their way though she truly wondered what they would find. As he collected the candle, she took a step toward the door, pausing until he was at her side, and then continuing. "Here goes," said softly as she tried the first key.

The library fell silent like it was holding its breath if one were to describe how it felt the moment she tried the first key. His words were a whisper near her ear as he stayed close. "I am here to keep you safe." Stayed close to protect her although he would never elude to such ... that she needed protection ... and have her nervous. He was not Michael the Archangel but he was lent such power at times for the archangel to work through him. This was hard to explain to anyone but then who would even know what Michael was?

The first key didn't work and Abby wrinkled her nose and sighed. She studied the two left, then picked one and tried it. When the lock turned with a click, her eyes grew wide and she looked up at Michael, with a question in her eyes. Should she open it or did he want to?

The glow of blue eyes searched hers. In spite of this being serious it struck him a touch humorous in the way she was so excited. It didn't seem to be fear but that wonder of what was behind a mystery door. The key was the right one. There was a long story behind how it was found, deep in the dungeons they had cleaned out. Seems there had been a number of times the cells were needed mostly by ones down at the port. They had been jammed in one of the walls. As eyes held he gave a nod then shifted focus to where she would be opening the door.

This was an adventure, and though they had others, this one was occurring in the castle. It made it all the more exciting. When he gave a nod, she gingerly took hold of the knob and turned it until it clicked. In spite of not having been used in many years, those who took care of the castle kept the hinges oiled, even if they couldn't test them. The door swung open, leading into the top landing of a stairway, one that curved down and around into the darkness though the dim light from windows did seem to break it up here and there.

"A stairwell..." more like a hmmm in surprise as he lifted the candle so that the light would trip as far as the eye could see from where they stood. There was a musty smell and something else, that same scent an old book held whose pages had been closed off to humanity for centuries. "Shall we see... but mind your step." It would pay for them to go slowly, not just for what they might encounter but not knowing the condition of the steps shadowed in darkness.

"I will." She moved forward onto the landing but waited for him to join her before moving down those stairs. They were wide enough for two men but no more than that. Dust coated both stairs and rail and there were thick cobwebs mostly in the frames of stained glass windows. It was eerily quiet with even their steps muffled from the dust. Another landing gave a place to pause though it had no door, mark or even peephole.

"It's been a long time since life passed through this area of the castle." This was murmured by her ear as he was listening for any sounds out of the ordinary, scent, even taste for that told of another dimension. He paused as she did on the landing, checking the stone beneath their feet. All seemed in good condition even if covered by century old dust. "Whenever you're ready to continue." Encouraging her on.

There may have been a soft sigh, the soft tinkle of chimes, or the hoot of an owl but it was hard to be certain. It was almost as if one were in a snowfall, though Michael might have detected a hint of ... something. Abby nodded and started down once more. As they finally reached the bottom, an object stood there, covered by a cloth.

His eyes glowed even more that lit the area around them in a way he would not need the candle, although it was not disposed of. "I would say you have a find here," as his hand reached up the glow extended between cloth and palm. "What is under this cloth is not of the norm but the decision rests with you that we should remove it or not, turn around and leave, lock the door behind us." Which he gave a sidelong glance her way as his hand lowered, "or take on the adventure that fate has presented us with. If you deny Fate, she will come back at you in other ways to drive you back until you do."

"Tis said curiosity can be a dangerous thing, but I'd not sleep a wink if we didn't at least see what this is." She smiled again, then reached out to grasp the cloth. With a quick movement, she jerked it off, surprised that no cloud of dust surrounded them. Beneath the cloth was the largest mirror she had ever seen. The wood frame was thick as was the stand and both were covered with lifelike carvings of winged fairies and small dragonets as well as birds with long tails and crests and insects that did not exist. The bottom held the same, but these were wingless and some peeked from behind rocks in a comical manner. There was no malice in the room, nor a feel of danger. At the very top, illuminated by the glow of blue, was a fairy beckoning, though to where?

"I thought that was... curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back?" Teasing as came natural for him as a McAndrews even if the flirting didn't. A low whistle under his breath came as certainly the mirror was a work of art aside magical. That was quite evident to him. "Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest lady of them all?" So he couldn't help himself! That's when he noticed one particular fairy at the top. "I do think she is beckoning for us to step through the looking glass."

"Yes, it is." She laughed softly, "but I don't have nine lives." She dropped the cloth to the side and ran her fingers over some of the carvings before giving Michael an impish look. She followed his gaze upward however, and studied the fairy then she looked at Michael. "Through?" Impulsively, she reached out to touch the mirror itself and it rippled as if made of water. "Oh!" Nervous as she was, she still couldn't resist. "Shall we?"

"There are no vicious carvings nor warnings. There may be mischief afoot but of a kind that will challenge us if it is of the Fae. Although I'm hard pressed to feel or see any connection with our ghosts or otherworldly scenes," more mussed under his breath but certainly she would hear his musings. They were meant to be heard by her. "We shall go in together so that we are not put in different times and separated." Which an arm slid around to tuck her at his side as one. Michael knew the mischief the Fae could wrought. "On the count of three..."



Date: 07-25-10
Poster: Michael McAndrews
Post # 3

World Beyond the Mirror

She slid in against his side, putting her arm around his waist so she fit perfectly. She wouldn't like being separated from him in a place that they knew nothing about. "Count of three?" She said in a near whisper, and then began to count. On three, she stepped forward, nearly clinging to Michael. The feeling was odd, like stepping through a wall of water but not getting wet. They were surrounded by sparkles and vague shapes. All of it disappeared suddenly, leaving them standing in an ancient forest. A path led away from where they were, nearly overgrown with brush and flowers. The trees near them were stunted and twisted, though the leaves were a healthy green. Further away, however, they grew straight and tall, blocking what might be beyond with heavy foliage. What little that could be seen of the sky was gray as if a storm were approaching.

He took her into his embrace as she stepped close, keeping her close that nothing could separate them against his power. It was true, she fitted perfectly there and that thought was tucked away for the present circumstances. He knew to hold his breath for it was like going through water with no air, a suction feeling to it and gone before the next breath would be taken but if not held beforehand, would have one issuing a few gasps to make up. He took all in first before easing her from his arm but kept one around her for extra measure. "Mark the area well in your mind for we will need to come back this way to reach the mirror. If we should get separated, this is our meeting point too." He was checking the forest ahead of them while talking then stating the obvious. "We are to follow the path." Like the carved Fae of the mirror's frame beckoned them within.

She almost expected to step through soaked and automatically checked once they were through. Just a little laugh marked the action though before she was studying the area around them. The mirror was built into rock on this side, the carvings hidden from sight. "All right. I'll remember." Having a good memory would help in this case. "It doesn't look like anyone has been this way for some time, does it?" There was no ill feeling here. It was almost as if whatever had stunted the trees no longer existed or had moved on.

"Not anyone from outside of here, no." He had the feeling they were being watched but not in a malicious way. Curious, wary perhaps too. Nothing could be seen at this point for whoever was here didn't wish to be seen yet. "I don't think that mirror was used in a very, very long time and may have been around even before it was placed in the castle. I feel to protect it and its passageway. I can assume it was used before but by who or what reason, I've no clue. The dust seems to have covered any tracks," and he wasn't meaning physical ones in particular. From the gnarled trees sparingly about, the path wound its way into the forest. The heat of the day was shaded to cool as if one crossed under another veil from yet that world outside of it. It was quiet, almost dead quiet once past the initial line of trees and the further they progressed.

She felt the eyes as well and though it made her a little nervous, she didn't show it or even that she was aware. She glanced back over her shoulder, surprised to find the mirror disappeared once one was a distance away from it.  Once the gnarled trees were gone, and past the quiet forest,  the large trees thinned out, into a younger forest, with new growth. Birds chirped above them in the trees while other animals, squirrels and rabbits watched them unafraid. Those animals looked different is some way... the squirrels had tufts on their ears, while the rabbits were not just gray or brown but white, spotted, or even calico like cats. A chipmunk that ran across their path was gray and black. As they came to a bend, the bushes began to rustle and out stepped a stag. Taller than Michael with magnificent antlers, he sniffed the air, then snorted and pawed the ground, almost in challenge.

Words came low as he still kept her close, he also wore one of the hundred swords of Heathfield for a different reason, much like Andrew wore the Master Sword. "We're not anywhere near our homelands," which he figured she probably already suspected. Or, there was the parallel planes if it was indeed the Fae. When the great stag appeared he stepped ahead of Abigail, putting her safely behind him. "We come in peace, we come being called." One never knew, the stag might understand him. He held up a glowing hand with fingers spread apart, the stag would recognize such power that went beyond a normal challenge or what might be perceived as an enemy.

The stag stayed unmoving for a long time, watching with intelligent eyes before he lowered his head, almost as if bowing to Michael. He turned and started down the path until he came to where it divided. There were signs, one pointing left that said "Haven" and one to the right that said "Dangerz," spelled with a z. He looked up suddenly as if  hearing something and bounded off along the path toward Dangerz before disappearing into the wood. During all of this, Abby barely left out a sound, almost afraid to breath so that she didn't scare the stag away.

His hand lowered as the stag bowed, a subtle motion as if blessing the unusual beast. He watched him. He watched him keenly, stepping aside so that he didn't block Abigail's view. His sight was far better than the norm as well that in spite of what the sign read the Stag bounded down, "I do believe we are to take the path that he did, showing us." Michael believed in signs and not all was what it seemed as the real sign that spelled Dangerz. "Shall we?" The glow of blue eyes to turn upon her with a slight sweep of his hand in indication of the path they were on and where they would follow. He would keep close to her side in a protective way.

In spite of the name, Abby nodded and started for that path. It was narrow but unlike the other path, it seemed to have a base of river rock. That feeling of being watched was still strong but there was nothing evil about it. As they reached the point where the stag had disappeared, a small childlike figure suddenly appeared. Male, he had obviously pointed ears, bright green eyes that were slanted, and a thatch of red hair. Shirtless, his pants were made from what seemed to be leaves and he wore green boots upon his feet.
"Quickly, quickly, off the path! Hurry, hurry, no time to waste!" He grabbed hold of both their hands, trying to tug them into the brush, his sense of urgency almost felt, and indeed, the forest had fallen quiet for the moment.

"I think we passed the first stage," as Michael picked up on this being more a Fae game of personality traits so that they could learn of the two that had invaded their world, to mark them friend or foe. So, in the stag's stead, a lad appeared. Michael was not surprised. The quiet of the forest was a warning in and off itself and no reason to doubt the Fae lad, only a dip of his head his communication with Abigail as he moved off the road and behind the brush to obscure them with the lad. He didn't need to be told that silence would also be needed as he listened to the sounds around him. Waiting.

As soon as they moved into the shelter of the brush, it seemed that the plants thickened, obscuring them further from sight. One of the bushes even burst into flower right in front of them. Oddly enough, they were able to see. And they would notice that the flowers had a strong, though not overpowering scent. A few moments later, the baying of hounds could be heard. It drew ever nearer until suddenly dogs appeared, much like bloodhounds but larger in size and definitely not with the temperament of those dogs. They were held on leashes by one man, taller and more massive than any normal man, his features hidden by leather helm and armor. Behind him came several riders, each clad in similar fashion, their horses neither normal or nightmare but something in between. The hounds sniffed the air, but seemed frustrated and their master turned to the riders.
"They've lost the scent." One motioned for the man to  guide them on down the path but the hounds refused to budge. Finally, with a curse, that rider turned and they all disappeared again. The lad didn't move until the birds resumed their singing. "They've given up for now. Heads will roll I'm sure but come, come. A place of safety waits for thee, lovely lady, noble sir. Come." He didn't lead them to the main path again, but along another that the opening of the brush revealed.

One arm went around Abigail as they crouched there behind the bushes. Bushes that protected them from the Hunters they had been unaware of. One hand rested on the hilt of the empowered sword until the ordeal was done. It felt like he held his breath until they were gone as it came in a whoosh when they could finally stand. "Who are they and why would they hunt us?" It was something good to know if the Fae lad was obliging. He had been so far so the question came easily. "Thank you for your help..." as they were moving under his direction. Certainly more reason after that to trust him. He well noted the landmarks much as he advised Abigail to do earlier.

She hadn't realized she too, was holding her breath, until they were gone. A weak smile was given Michael before they started to follow the lad. He tipped his head to study them, then paused. When Abby looked over her shoulder, she couldn't see where they had been. Ahead of them stood an Oak that gave a feeling of great age. The boy led them there before answering any questions.
"They were humans once but twisted now by the darkness of their hearts. The mirror passage triggers an alarm in both villages. Sometimes we are the faster, if the Stag is near. Sometimes they. Blodeuedd will explain all to thee." He smiled, and his face lit up. "It has been many years since any have come through. And glad we are that we have found thee." As he spoke, the forest around them seem to come to life with small ones like himself, both male and female, dressed in plantlike garb, and tiny winged fairies. "Come, come. We feast tonight with much joy." He pointed to a path where bell-like flowers sprouted before their eyes and lit up to light the path.

He listened intently as they moved along, he would have asked more questions but it seemed those would wait until they met up with this Blodeuedd. "Glad we are that yea have found us." Although he wondered why they were so glad to find them first. "There is a reason there has been none for a least two decades, the mirror on our side of the world was hidden down an old part of the castle and locked away, the key hidden as well in the most unlikely of places. Perhaps Blodeuedd can tell us why, what happened last time ones came through." Abigail might notice that Michael's eyes glowed even more in this place as well his skin took on a golden shimmer blending into the gold of his hair.

The sight of Michael made her shiver though somehow, she wasn't surprised. The tiny winged ones were playing with both their hair, braiding equally tiny flowers, vines and faery lights in the strands. As they neared the village, adults came from the homes, made from the living trees, some ground level, some higher among the branches. All gave the two warm greetings. The boy had disappeared and a small, wizen Fae of great years bowed before them.
"Welcome,  welcome. While we make ready, thou may rest and freshen up. We will have clothes for thee but tarry not too long. Blodeuedd will be here soon." They were led to two separate houses which apparently were kept for guests. Water ran into basins of stone, carved to look like petals, and flowed into the floors. They were furnished with table, chairs, beds and other bits of furniture. On each bed, lay clothing suitable for both. Abby was a touch nervous being separated from Michael, but she washed up and changed into the gossamer gown. Pale green shot through with silver, it complimented her red hair and dark eyes. There was even a silver cape if the night grew chill and woven sandals of softest leather dyed silver.

Michael no longer looked human in this magical other world. He actually understood how they could come and go in a way it seemed they disappeared and another taking their place. Luckily the houses they were led to were not far from each other. Michael washed up but it didn't wash the gold sheen to his skin which denoted it was in his skin not something that settled upon it. What was laid out for him was essentially a white toga of the finest spun silks inlaid with gold around the edges, gold sandals on his feet. When he emerged he looked like one of the Greek gods. He waited outside the house, between it and the one Abigail was taken to.

A small girl greeted Michael with a tray that held two golden goblets.
"Thou need not be afraid to eat or drink here in this land. T'is not like the lands of the Sidhe." One of the winged Fae spoke before darting off again. Abby  joined him a moment later, her eyes going wide at the sight of him. "You look as if you belong here." She whispered, not realizing that she too, looked otherworldly though her skin did not have the golden glow his had. Instead she glowed as if moonlight had been sprinkled over her. The flowers and lights still sparkled in her hair.  The juice within the glass held the sweetest nectar of the land. Once both had drank, the tray and goblets disappeared, and the tiny girl took hold of their hands, leading them to the village green. There a feast had been prepared. Fruits and vegetables of all types, fowl cooked to perfection, and drinks, both juices and wine. "Blodeuedd comes." The child told them as she led them to their chairs. Michael would sit on Blodeuedd's right and Abby her left. The Fae themselves stood behind their chairs in wait.

He would have liked to ask more questions but the one darted off. Each gave a bit of information but much remained unanswered. Abby's voice brought him around from the sight of the one leaving, "it is a side of me that you have not seen. I have been to other worlds, ones much like this but not this one in particular. They are in need of a warrior." How he knew, well, this was Michael. "You are very beautiful if you've not seen yourself in a mirror." Which barely spoken and there was a larger Fae lady with a hand mirror. Abigail would see that there was another quality to her skin too, maybe not quite like Michael's but definitely drawing. It was as if they represented the Sun and the Moon. He took his goblet at that point to have his drink as he knew it would vitalize him not only refresh. Now they were led by the girl as he notice those as curious as they were about them, watching. They all seemed to be pleased they were here and if any eye contact was made they quickly bowed their head, from old to young it seemed to be expected. Finally, giving a glance to Abigail as they reached the village green and to where they would be seated, they would have some answers. Better that way so he could help them if possible.

She was surprised to see how she looked though perhaps she suspected there was something in the Frasier blood even if unspoken. She nodded as he spoke of needing a warrior, wondering what use she could be here. Well, that would be learned in time. As the child ran off to take her place, the trees began to rustle though no wind blew. Flower petals came from the forest, dancing about until they came to the chair between Michael and Abby. There they took form, into a woman, more beautiful than any Abby could remember. Her hair was touched with spun gold, her eyes as clear and blue as a summer sky. Her clothing was made of the same material as those of Michael and Abby, only decorated with tiny flowers that sparkled like gems. She smiled at Michael then at Abby.
"Welcome, Michael and Abigail, to our lands. Long have we awaited your coming. Eat and drink and while we dine, we will answer thy questions." She spread out her hands as if in blessing. "We partake of this food and give thanks to the All Creator for our life, and for these sent to us." She nodded, motioning for all to sit then did so herself. They were served by Fae that would be considered teens though none were truly servants here. "We know there are things thou wishes to ask. We are willing to answer but would thou first like to hear how the mirror came to be?"

"Of course," as slight bow of his respectfully. It would be almost impossible for a man not to notice the beauty of this woman. Michael could admire it and the one who possessed such for it was in her achievements that also brought her such beauty in the Fae heritage. All were born beautiful by human standards it is just some, by their purity and goodness, became more beautiful as their years unfolded. "I would love to hear the story for much is in the telling of why we are here then." Which was what he needed a better understanding as certainly by her words, she knew of them. If the others ate while the story was told, he would follow suit but aware not to speak when chewing or food still in his mouth. He knew the Fae were very big on etiquette, being clean and respectful.

The others were eating but even the youngest was quiet as their Queen spoke.
"Thou art aware, of course, of the time of darkness when he who took the throne by force caused many to flee the land of Heathfield. We too, the eldest of us still alive in this land, call that realm home and were content but fear had us look for a place of safety. One who was versed in magic created the mirror and allowed many of us to flee. What he was not able to do was keep those of darkness from entering as well. He was killed trying to stop them but then his daughter and son were able to hide the mirror in the deepest recesses of the castle. The son joined us here while his sister remained behind to hide the key. Of her, we have no knowledge and know only her name was Jocelyn. She remained alive for some time, sending some through while the Usurper lived."  She motioned to the people and some nodded but it was nearly impossible to tell Fae from human after all this time.  After taking a sip of wine,  Blodeuedd continued her tale.  "Her brother, Justin, attempted to fight those that followed the darkness and who had come through but by treachery he was killed. One of the Lieutenants of the Usurper became ruler of the others. Corrupted and twisted, he became, and many of his followers as well. The last through told us that Jocelyn was going to hide the key for she had been discovered and no more came through until this day. The humans not rescued by us, have their own village, and they are ruled by the one who was the Lieutenant who calls himself their King. Many are not touched by the darkness but he seeks ways to change them, twist them as he is twisted... and to conquer us. You have been sent to save us, Michael of the McAndrews, and thou, Abigail, will have a hand in what comes to pass. If thou both accept the task asked of thee."

"You know not that Rath is dead? That King Andrew Barrett's daughter took the throne two decades ago? The hiding place Jocelyn and her brother picked, was magically enhanced to go undetected even by the Druid prince born of Lahoneee. So what remains of Rath's realm, is here. Once it is put to rights, his reign dies forever. I believe in fate and in faith that I am here because your words are true. I shall fight for your freedom and you can return home if you wish. Or stay here in this alternate world if that suits you better." They would have a choice after all was said and done. Michael didn't plan to lose this battle and the fact it was fated said a lot. Although he knew, it would not be easy and he could even lose his life if he was not careful but he would win the battle.

"We did not know and that is good news though we fear the cost has been great." 
  She smiled wistfully as she continued, "We wish to return to our homeland. What is here will be transported to there when the darkness is defeated. Had only we passed through the mirror along those humans who sought refuge, the darkness would not have grown. We are prepared for this battle but while we fight to keep the others from joining their master, only one may face him and that one is thee, Michael. He knows of thy arrival as surely as we. Abigail, thou will fight by my side with bow and arrow, and we will keep thee safe so Michael need not worry about thee. But not tonight. Tonight we eat, and rest and we will answer questions if there are more."

"I have no further questions, if Abigail has any? I will see to your return when all is done and introduce you to the Queen. Your people and that of Atessa await your return. Elen sila lumenn omentilmo, nae saian hume." This he knew instinctively now as he spoke in their language and it didn't sound foreign upon his tongue. Turning then to Abigail as he pretty much knew why was here and it only needed to be seen to. They would feast tonight and fight tomorrow. He would not have this battle last days but hours. It was long overdue.

Abigail inclined her head, smiling as she looked back up. "I will be honored to stand at your side during this battle. I have no more questions." She answered and then she smiled at Michael, her heart swelling with pride. Blodeuedd smiled as well, her eyes as bright as the stars above them.
"Far too long. Enjoy the evening for dawn will come soon."  And she knew the lives lost could be dear, but even one would affect her so.  The meal would continue and there would be tumblers and dancers to entertain but soon all would be still so each could prepare for the morning and the battle to come.


Date: 08-16-10
Poster: Abigail Frasier
Post # 4

The Battle

Dawn arrived with a sky that looked angry. There was no blue, only grays and blacks; the clouds rolling though no rain fell. A cold wind blew though it never touched the Fae village. Blodeuedd's shield held true and kept the darkness away. The children were quiet, the elders watching over them. Armor was sent to Michael, golden and shining even in the gloom of morning. A cloak of blue would flow behind him like wings in the wind. His helm, should he choose to wear it, was made to look like a dragon's head, with a crest and visor. Abby was given armor of silver, much like that of Blodeuedd herself with a cloak of the same blue as Michael's. She was gifted with a bow and a magic quiver that would never empty of arrows. When she was ready, she sought out Michael, wanting to see him before the battle began. The warriors were preparing, silent and grim. The outcome would change their world forever, for good or ill, whether they won or not, but they were confident that Michael would give them victory.

Michael awoke feeling all that was around them outside the protective dome. There was a battle waiting and he was ready. He washed up and broke fast with a nourishing small respite sent along with the armor. The gold blended with his dazzling golden looks and even more intense glowing blue eyes. The helmet placed upon his head not so much that it was needed but that it represented the Elves here whom he was fighting for. There would be no mistake on whom took down the enemy. Although he would not be one they recognized other than the Force behind him. The Force that drove him. They would be coming up against the power of an Archangel. He stepped out once he was ready, fully attired and ready for battle. Abigail got a warm smile as he checked out her bow and never ending supply of arrows. "These will fly true to their mark so aim them well." He bowed his head respectfully to Blodeuedd and waited upon the woman to lead the way.

She smiled at him as he spoke, nodding. "I will." He looked so powerful, she almost felt as if she should bow to him though she refrained. She did bow to Blodeuedd, then placed the helm she had been given upon her head. It was not as elaborate as Michael's, with a small dragon forming the crest.
The Fae Queen wore a helm with a crown, her armor shifting colors as she moved. "We ride." She informed the two, motioning to the Fae horses. All the horses were white, but Michael's had a golden mane. A stallion, he pawed the ground as he waited. Blodeuedd mounted and waited for the two to do so as well, then she lifted her sword and motioned the army forward. As they passed through the shield, it shimmered and the cold wind surrounded them. She led them to a hill where the enemy army waited. Unlike the Fae, their army was dark and did not shine. Their King sat upon a black horse on the hill opposite. The Fae archers took position first, with shield men to protect them from the enemy's arrows. The Fae army charged down into the valley and with a terrible clash of metal, the war began.

They all looked good but the proof would be in the battle for it was far more than looking powerful. However, it was a known fact that appearances had their part to instill fear or in the least... doubt. For when in that split second one doubted, they lost to the other. Michael spoke to his horse as a hand moved down over its nose. Ancient words that flowed easily from his tongue which the stallion understood. A language that was shared with the animal kingdom long ago. Once done, he mounted up for the steed one rode became an extension of them so hence the quick link as much as one could under the circumstances. This was a special stallion and the link easily made. The only weapon they need not give him was a sword, for he wore the empowered sword of Heathfield. When it was drawn, it sang, a fierce song that filled the air around them sending unseen vibrations out, unseen but could be felt. It glowed an electrical blue as if he bore Zeus' lightning bolt itself. That became a burst of sparks as they moved through the protective shield, not harming it but feeding to and fro as he passed through then back to the minute currents that ran up the blade. It gave off light around them in spite of the darkness of the enemy. That was one of its powers. As the Fae army swarmed ahead, Michael sought out their leader. He knew that to take him down, he took down the others. Catching sight of the one the stallion set into a galloping pace in that direction. The sword wielded back and forth slicing through any that stood in his way.

The enemy army consisted of those who had followed the Corrupted King through the mirror and had become twisted like himself, those who choose to follow him after entering and those forced into battle. The Fae took those forced as prisoners when possible, knowing they feared for their families. Some of the enemy sought to attack Michael as he swept down through the valley, dying before they were able to strike a blow. Some fell back from the light of the sword. The Corrupted one's horse reared, its eyes glowing red as he started down to meet Michael. His own sword crackled as if with lightning as he held it over his head. Heedless of who was in his way, he drew close to Michael, knowing if he did not defeat him, the battle would be lost.

Others moved out of the way or got caught between the clash of titans for certainly each stood as such power between good and evil. Michael stood out like a lighthouse in the darkest of storms ranging over the ocean. Shield drawn up to deflect the other's blow as his sword came down slicing through the other's shield. In that, Michael had the advantage of such a sword that could cut thorough stone or steel. The Black King only grabbed another from one of his men, leaving him defenseless as he round back so that he could charge Michael again. Once again they clashed, Michael stripping off part of the other's helm. The next run had Michael's shield jarred from his hand with the impact, it went flying away like a saucer to slice off the head of the same man that the Black King took his shield. The electrical current ran down from the sword over Michael's body creating a shield all around him. In this pass, Michael took out the Black King's shield and none around him to grab another from. The King's sword hit against Michael's side, the force only gaining him the tip to penetrate as an electrical current shot up Michael's arm, knocking the Black King clear off his horse. Michael felt the pain but he didn't stop for one second as he was down off his stallion to where the King had fallen. He sent his sword through the man's chest before he could get up, filling him with an electrical light that dashed all the darkness from the man.

Among the archers, Abby and the Queen watched, though they still took part. As the two clashed, the archers all stopped firing, on both sides. And though the armies still fought, they were waiting for the outcome. The King had not lost a battle since he had arrived here though they were small ones. His confidence died only as he fell. As death came, his features changed back to the man he had been. One by one, the enemy soldiers either fell or surrendered. Some, those who had been here from the beginning, died as their King died, their life force tied to his. Others found they were human again.
The clouds disappeared, rolling away to leave blue skies but it was only the magic of the Queen that held all together. "We must go down to Michael quickly, Abby. Though the magic of his Sword is strong, he is wounded and that wound will fester and cause great harm to him." Blodeuedd remounted her horse, waiting until Abby joined her before riding down. Both human and Fae were cheering and those of the villages were drawn to the battlefield. But a path was opened for the two women, directly to the Hero.


No blood stained his sword that was drawn out of the dead King's body. His own blood started to stain the side of his tunic where the sword ripped through. The golden mane stallion was over to lower down so that Michael could mount him without trouble. The great beast could sense something wrong, the scent of a tainted wound. The glow of Michael's blue eyes dulled as he pulled himself up onto the stallion who immediately rose up. He knew now there was something wrong but he was not strong enough to fight it alone. His skin took on an ashen color, his lips bluish as he slump forward against the stallion, a hand clutching its mane as one holding onto that thread of life. He could barely hear the cheers that were getting further away as the horse headed for the city on its own initiative.

The horses of Abby and Blodeuedd came up beside Michael's though the stallion would not let him fall. As they left the field of battle, the cheers died down and the Queen's Captains began to see to the humans. They would all be leaving the enchanted realm soon. As the three entered the city, the children and elders lined the road, making a honor guard for their Hero. The stallion went directly to Blodeuedd's own quarters where the Guard who had remained  would take Michael inside.
"You must help me, Abigail of the Frasiers. Your heart is pure and the mix of your blood will cleanse his." Blodeuedd smiled as she dismounted and took Abby's hand when she did the same. "Your ancestors were more than you know." Something perhaps all the Frasiers suspected. Michael was laid on a bed, his armor carefully removed while the two women prepared.  Abby was over to Michael as a basin of water was placed there with rags so the wound could be cleaned. A special herbal preparation was placed in the water, its scent filling the room. "Michael, I'm here." She leaned over and placed a kiss against his brow. Blodeuedd, herself, tended to cleaning the wound.

Michael was having visions while in this state that put him between life and death. The battle seized the beginning as he watched the Black King's spirit, twisted and black, rise from its body that laid dead. There was a sneer Michael's way but before anything could be said, demons surrounded the one and dragged him away, their hands like grappling hooks to sink  into his spirit as the scream echoed around in Michael's head before it was gone. He saw his father on the battlefield from long ago, one he was too young to participate in. Chadrick looked him in the eyes as he laid dying in his son Chad's arms, pride filled before he smiled. No words but he gave an approving nod of his head. His spirit was surrounded by white and he held an open pendant with his wife Mary's, his mother, picture in it over his heart before he faded away. He saw Lei laughing dancing around in a flower filled field and with each turn she grew older. The oddity was, as she reached being a teen, which she was now, a lad came into the field. He was golden haired and blue eyed and holding the hand of another little one, a girl with dark reddish curls and the bluest of eyes. He found himself walking through the field to join them but his steps never seem to gain the distance.

The wound itself seem to fight against the Fae magic but at the touch of Abby's lips, it faded slightly.
Blodeuedd took hold of Abby's hand and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "You must call to him, Abigail, call him back to this life or we will lose him forever. Place your hand over mine and speak to him while I call on the powers of Healing." Blodeuedd placed her hand over the bloodied wound, and Abby placed her hand over the Fae's. She leaned close to Michael, her voice soft but with a strength she didn't realize she had. "Michael, listen to me. You need to focus, to come back. Whatever you see, wherever you are, is not life. Lei needs you, and your family needs you." She paused, then took hold of his hand in her free one, fingers entwining. "I need you. You've won a part of the battle but now you need to fight the poison that's trying to destroy you and come back to us." She looked up at the Queen whose eyes were closed then looked back down at Michael. He looked so pale and tears filled her eyes. "I love you, Michael."

He was making some progress as he strained to get closer to Lei and the two children. He didn't know who they were but was drawn to them and his daughter. As he got closer the children, who were laughing and playing tag with Lei, stilled and started walking backwards while facing him. A chant lifted up, we will never be, we will never be, as Lei fell to her knees weeping, I miss you daddy-san, came through the sobs. This had Michael to stop, blinking in surprise not knowing if he should go to Lei or not. Something was wrong. There was another force breaking through. Where he laid on the bed, he started to break out into a cold sweat. In the valley of shadows he saw Abigail's eyes, then her face and red hair as his eyes opened even if a bit unfocused. All the others were gone as he felt heavier, a feeling he got when he returned from the planes, except this had been a different one. "Abigail?" Unsure if she too was a vision. He had not heard her words but certainly that strong emotion is what helped him back.

"It's really me, Michael." She was half laughing and half crying. "You were wounded by their King and his sword was tainted with evil. But you're back now." She leaned down and kissed his forehead. "We nearly lost you, but you're back." She didn't let go of his hand as she spoke and when her emotions made it nearly impossible for her to speak, she brought his hand to her lips and kissed his knuckles.
Blodeuedd completed the healing though it would bother him for a time. She saw to a wrapping then bowed to Michael. "We can never thank you enough. Now rest, and when you are ready, we will go back through the mirror, and all will come with us and this place will be as it was." Heathfield would have some strange, new animals!

He was still feeling somewhat weak but he could tell he was gaining back his energy quickly. "You will never lose me," said with conviction but it would remain unknown if he could have made it back on his own or not. He was caught up in her eyes and more, what was behind them as she took his hand up to place a kiss. His tentatively wrapped around hers as it was drawn down to his lips, pressing a kiss there in return. The glow in his eyes was coming back. Once on the right path, he would heal fast. Remarkably so but the wound, that would have killed a lesser man, would take a few days to completely heal. Slow at first then faster as the process gained momentum. "A day's time," lips lifting from the press to Abigail's hand as he looked to Blodeuedd, "is all that is needed, it has been too long and no more time need be wasted. It will take those here a day to prepare, what to bring and what to leave behind." A day for them to adjust to the idea too.

Her own people were ready but the humans, yes, they would be apprehensive for so much time had passed.
"All is needed." Her eyes sparkled with joy. "If it is possible, and the Queen gives permission, we may be able to bring the village of the humans. My people and myself can go where directed and rebuild. It will be harder for them but I think they will be happy to go there." She stood and looked at the two. "You must rest now." Abby smiled at his words, her tears ones of joy. She listened then looked at Blodeuedd. "I will stay with Michael while he rests in case his fever returns." Blodeuedd inclined her head, her expression one of understanding. "I will have one outside so that you need not leave to fetch what is needed. Though perhaps you wish to remove the armor first?" She'd see to a bit of privacy for Abby, and when Michael was ready for a meal, that too, would be served.


Date: 09-05-10
Poster: Michael McAndrews
Post # 5

The Return

Their return had brought a bit of excitement to the castle, especially in the wake of the return of the King and his men.  Once things were sorted out, the human villagers were given land that was far enough from the city itself to allow them to adjust to the changes and the fact that those they knew were gone.  The Fae were given land in one of the protected forest areas where they could meet and work with the Sylvan Elves.  Though Abby could have taken time off, she decided to work.  Much had happened and she had much to think about.  She was putting books back in their proper place -- a good task when one needed to think.

The Queen had granted permission to the ones returning as she had for others in time of need before. Michael had gone ahead to make sure all would go smoothly with the Crown of these lands. It was asked that  Blodeuedd meet with the Queen once she and her people were settled in. Michael was one of the few humans allowed in the area of land here of the Sylvan and Silvertone elves. It wasn't a place that one could go to or stumble upon before it was veiled in a parallel universe sort of way, coexisting with the land here in certain wooded areas. Hence the invitation or being allowed to know how to enter these areas. Michael first went home to see Lei, for after the vision he wanted to make sure she was all right and nothing amiss. She had recently turned thirteen and there were oddities happening in their home and around her, subtle things so far but she was her father's daughter and would need to be seriously trained to control the forces awakening within her alongside puberty's hormones. She fussed over him terribly so with the wound he could not keep from her. She could smell it even if it was healing as it should, even quicker than it should. Two days hence he returned to the library to seek out Abigail and compare notes. There were shadows in his memories that he was unsure of their meanings. The night was quiet, a very warm one as well as the loose fitting cream poet's shirt verified that he wore. Black pants and boots and of course the empowered sword that hung from the wide belt at his left hip. Still, for a very big man, he made almost no noise in his passing. Only one with finely tuned hearing would detect him. As before he would come upon Abigail almost appearing there from nowhere.

She was dressed simply as was usual when she worked.  A gown of dove gray, short-sleeved and cool with trimming of white piping along the neckline and hem.  Her hair had been pulled back and braided.  This time she didn't jump when Michael appeared though she hadn't expected him either.  She put the books down and turned to face him, smiling.  "How are you feeling? And how is Lei?"  Not being sure of what he remembered, she asked the easiest questions first.

"I am feeling a lot better and rightly been fussed over by my daughter. She feels you have saved my life and she wants to show her gratitude," finding a way to put how his daughter's mind worked, learned of her people. Although she wasn't quite as far as extending it to committing her life to Abigail for the deed done. "You are formally invited to a traditional tea party in ten days hence." He wasn't sure why it was ten days other than Lei probably had preparations to make and that wasn't necessarily food preparations but the whole of such a ritual.

"Well, I only helped but I will certainly accept her invitation, and am very honored she asked me."  She motioned to the small room that she had made into her office.  "If you want privacy, we can go in there.  How are both villages doing?"  She smiled as she thought of something.  "Lei is going to start complaining if you keep going on adventures without her."  She was getting to the age where she'd want to see more and more.

"I am pleased that you will for she would be besides herself with angst and the oddities around the house would intensify." Hard to tell if he was serious or not or what exactly he meant. Except Michael was intensely serious as he came closer. Close enough for her to pick up on the sandalwood soap he had used to wash up before leaving the house, the natural scents beneath that linked him to nature and something even more mysterious, something ancient. The motion to the room was followed by a nod as there were others about even if not in view. There were questions on his mind that nudged for answers, some more demanding than others. "Privacy will be welcome or if you feel it might have others talking, then we can wait for any private conversation after the last of your customers leave." Which at this hour would probably be soon and Michael had closed up with Abigail before so that would not be much for gossip on the tips of tongues that favored that pastime.

That was one of her favorite scents though she wondered sometimes if it was because of Michael. She glanced around then nodded. "We can wait a little longer." The last of the patrons were finishing up and leaving, but one was a lady known to be a terrible gossip. It didn't take long for her to leave, and Abby's helpers to leave. Locking the outer door, Abby smiled. "Well, there's no need of the room now, though there are drinks in there or I can make tea." Though she didn't actually care what people thought, she didn't want to cause problems either. "And it seems you have something on your mind."

Michael had stepped away and was browsing through a few books as if his nearness to Abigail was only to gain the knowledge of their whereabouts. Mrs Hines had long outlived her husband and had that look about her to live on the coming and goings of others for what lacked in her empty life. She wasn't really a bad person but she had caused undo duress for others at times. She would be hard pressed to say a bad word or implication on one of the Ballicastle princes especially when he sent a smile her way that had her instinctively responding in the same light before rushing off flustered that such a noble even paid her any mind. Once she was out the door, Michael snapped the book closed with an abrupt sharp sound and slid it back on the shelf, while Abby locked up the door. He was back over into her personal space, "not at all," as a hand lifted to caress along her cheek. "I'm plagued with shadows from when I was unconscious that lie on the fringe of my conscious mind."

"Then, I'll see if I can help you with those shadows. There are comfortable chairs inside the office." She tilted her head into his touch and smiled, then reached up and took hold of his hand. Leading him into the office, she motioned toward the drinks. "Would you like something first?"

He had started to lean in but the notion was dashed aside as she reached up and took hold of his hand, leading him away instead into the office. It had him rethinking his actions that had started so naturally and her actions like a douse of cold water he almost had to laugh. "Aye, I think I could use a drink." Hopefully she had some potcheen or a good whiskey as he was over to the table offering the various libations. "Can I pour you something?"

"There's potcheen, yes, and a little of the blueberry punch if you would.." She was nervous for some reason and as he walked away, she chewed at her nail briefly. Then she pulled one chair close to the other but didn't sit yet. She hadn't realized what he had been about to do and would have been upset that she moved away had she known!

He was back over as he offered out the glass of blueberry punch. The one of potcheen tucked in his other hand. "Please have a seat," as she stood so did he but he started in to answer her questions. "The Elves are doing well, very adaptable and Blodeuedd so very pleased to be home again and family long lost to her. They pick up easier than humans who get caught up on little things tripping over themselves. The Village was moved down from the fishing village that they might start working with each other and not too integrated into the area closer to the castle that has such set minds more nervous." If that explained it. They were use to being on their own and now were governed again. This they had accepted but the further away the better.

"Well, it's a beginning." She sat in one of the chairs, then looked at him and smiled. "Now, what about the shadows? Or what do you want to talk about? I know we nearly lost you." She looked down at her glass then up again. "I was terribly afraid for you, Michael."  She reached for his hand, placing hers on top of his. "I don't know what I would have done." She let the words trail off, biting her lower lip. She had meant for him to talk, not for her to babble.

He took a seat next to her after she sat and kicked back part of his drink. The burn soothed his throat with little to no other effect than that on him. "Time heals and will heal them individually and as a whole. They will not only get use to being ruled again, but learn to appreciate all the benefits it offers them too. Protection for one. A peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safe." When she took his hand, he kicked back the rest of his drink with the other so that he could set the glass aside then folding that hand over hers. Turning slightly the glow of blue eyes captured hers to his. There was something about her words that had that niggling feel to it again. "I heard your voice from afar but I'm not positive of the words spoken. Where I went was so very real, Lei was there along with a little boy and a younger girl; the two siblings. The boy was blond and blue eyed, the girl a redhead with blue eyes. They were playing with Lei until I appeared and then they stopped as I came closer, they started moving backwards facing me saying they would never be and Lei going into dramatics about missing me. I stepped back not wanting to upset them more and it was then I heard you voice. Next they were all gone."

"Blodeuedd told me to talk to you that you were drifting away. I kept talking, about Lei, about how we would miss you, how your family would miss you." She smiled, her cheeks turning pink. "I said she loved you. That ... that I love you and needed you. Your eyes fluttered open and we knew you were out of danger but still weak, though you heal so quickly."

"That is it, that is what broke the hold for I thought Lei was real there and would not naturally leave her when distressed." Although he still had no idea who the other two were. That spark flared up glowing blue eyes before they became serious. "I love you too," although it was certain there was a curious edge to it in what kind. Luckily she had moved their seats that close as a hand lifted to cup her cheek again as he moved in closer. Eyes holding with all those questions before they closed when he got within a breath's caress. One against her lips from his and if she didn't pull back again, he'd continue.

She had been so flustered before, so anxious that she hadn't realized he was going to kiss her. This time there was no moving away, just that look of joy in her eyes as he moved closer. Her lids fluttered closed as a soft tremble moved through her. Nothing else mattered now. They were together, he had survived a terrible injury and everything was perfect.

She not only didn't withdraw, which would have spoke volumes, he could feel her willingness, the draw that complimented his. In the next second lips met and devoured. She was no young teen nor was he. Although she was younger he would find out if she could meet the appetite of a man and more. She might realize she was no longer on her seat but on his lap as one arm went around her while the other cupped the back of her head to help meet that onslaught of his lips, mouth and even tongue.

As he drew her onto his lap, her arms went around him. Hands moved over his back and finally into his hair as the kiss became deeper and more passionate. She made a sound like a purr as she met the delicious onslaught with her own. It was as if an earthquake was shaking the very foundations of the castle though in reality, not a stone moved.

He was moving the earth, moon and stars in this kiss. Something that was a long time in coming. Only parting was long enough to grab a needy breath of air. He had been attracted to her for some time but never pushed anything and waited for the right moment. This was it and it was powerful. His tongue entwined and caressed as the urgency melted into the erotic with the way his lips and tongue moved. An ancient rhythm claimed it all and he knew he was headed for dangerous grounds by some standards. Only problem was, he didn't want to stop but would have to begrudgingly as his breathing became heavier indicating where he was getting mentally and physically.

She had never felt like this before though there had been times she thought a lad was the one. Nothing had come close to this feeling and she was glad she had never given in. Her whole being was alive as they finally parted and she remained where she was, clinging to him as she opened her eyes and looked into his again.

He held her close, held her dearly. He felt like he had come to the end of one journey, a path he had not realize he had been on, or purposely blocked it out for things in the past with others. They all faded away as irrelevant. "I am pleased our feelings are mutual, sweetling." He hoped Lei would be pleased as she had gone through some disappointments too right along with the one she loved most in her life presently. "As much as I would like to linger, I know talk will surface and I wish not to taint your reputation especially with your position in these lands. We will have time to explore our feelings more, more properly." At least to the public eye, but then too, he would only go as their being together led them.

She was concerned about Lei as well, though it was more about her sharing her father more than she did already. "I know it will but, one last kiss?" Her smile grew as she added. "Properly can come tomorrow or when we see each other again." Hopefully not too long. "I love you Michael McAndrews." Oh, how she loved to feel those words roll off her tongue.

"As I love you Abigail Frasier," words barely out as they were conveyed in the ravishing kiss that followed. Her lips thoroughly explored and kissed leaving them swollen just enough by the time he was done. Once done, they would reluctantly part as he stood, easing her from his lap to her feet before they would see to closing up and he would see her to her door.

That kiss would stay with her until she saw him again. In spite of the fog she was in, she made sure all was as it should be before they left. Once they said good-bye, she would find it hard to fall asleep but when she did, her dreams would be sweet ones.



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