In Part III, Bastian is getting his team together – although reluctantly – to go to Aderyn’s rescue. And what a team it is, as you shall shortly see.
I was laughing as the door between us and the customer friendly part of The Falinn opened and we walked out. Neeko looked up from his person arsenal and grinned. “About time!”
I ignored him. Having Stian and Jadis with us would change our plans and we needed to discuss those changes. “Look, we’ve got some serious stuff to—”
The front door opened and Alawi blocked the doorway for an instant before making way for Victor, Cato, Ziza, and a few other loup-garoux. The last one inside was Moira. The shop was suddenly filled with the smell of wet fur and salty seas. I tried to clear my nose and while I was shaking my head, the smell vanished. Gone, just like that. Amazing. I inhaled the smell of wood floors and books and thanked Aderyn—if she was behind this new development.
I knew Renick, Shaz, Leto, and Colin all of whom were wolves. Jack, an elk, Maris, a cougar and Corra, a lynx were new to me. After introductions were over, Cato made a beeline for the reading platform and plunked himself down in Neeko’s chair. I was getting a bad feeling about why they were here.
“These are my best hunters and fighters,” Victor said. I could see the energy of the pack swirling around his head and shoulders. I’d only been able to sense it before, never see it, but it was clear as day to me now. In the back of my eyes I could feel my claws digging into the soft earth as I ran through the woods. I could hear the thundering heartbeat of the proud buck as it fled before me. I could feel my brothers and sisters spread out around me, matching me stride for stride.
Victor sniffed the air and his dark eyes bled to amber. “Why do you suddenly smell like a wolf-brother, Bastian?”
I shook my head and the images in my head faded. “I have no idea.”
He stepped even closer and breathed in again. “What aren’t you telling me?”
I waved my hands in front of my face. “Back off, Victor. I don’t have time for your weird wolfy juju right now.”
Moira’s brown seal eyes were too big for her human face, making her look both endearing and alien. “You should take the time, Bastian.”
“You’re not coming. You can’t,” I snapped.
Moira let out a long-suffering sigh. “You will need every single one of us when you go to the Maelstrom.”
I wanted to scream! Why couldn’t they all just get out of my way and let me do what I needed to do?! “Thank you all for showing up to give me your support, but you’re not coming.”
“We’re predators,” Cato pointed out, his Irish accent making the words pretty. “From what you’ve told us of this place, it’s nothing but darkness. There’s no one better to take with you than creatures that can see in the dark. We’re quiet and we know how to hunt, regardless of what the prey may be.”
“What’s going on, Bastian?” Ziza asked.
Silence can be very, very loud. It can fill up a room and make a gathering of friends start questioning the strength of their friendship. It came down to trust, just as it had with Stian and Jadis. I didn’t know Jack or Corra, but I knew Victor. I knew how much honor meant to him, it was as vital as a strong pack. They would follow him…and he would follow me.
“They’re not going anywhere, Bastian. I think it’s time.” Neeko’s words were soft, but they echoed around the shop.
I nodded, swallowed hard, and looked to Stian. “Can you open that link between you and Jadis even though she’s still asleep? I don’t want to have to repeat myself.” Vampire kings are able to share thoughts, sights, sounds, and even smells with their blood children, which is wonderfully handy in situations like these. Stian’s blue eyes changed to light purple and I knew he’d done as I asked. “Okay, everyone,” Gods, this was hard. My heart was beating faster than a hyperventilating brownie. My palms felt sticky and I thought I was going to puke. “If you breathe a word of this to anyone, Neeko and I will be spending the rest of our probably very short lives looking over our shoulders.”
There were lots of frowns at that.
“Okay. All of you know that I’m able to open Doors and travel to other worlds, yeah?” Heads nodded. “You also know that I’m the only one immune to the effects of traveling to the Shadowlands.” Some head nodded, others just looked bored. I took a deep breath and let it out. “That’s not entirely true.”
Donne smiled, Herriot looked confused, Moira triumphant, and the loup-garoux thoughtful.
“There is a way I can share my immunity, temporarily, with others. It’s not easy, and there’s a cost.”
“What sort of cost are we talking about?” Cato asked. “If it’s an arm and a leg, I like them where they are.”
I shook my head. “It’s not anything physical. In some ways it’s simpler, but that depends.”
Herriot raised one hand—yep, I swear he did—and said, “I’m confused.”
I leaned against the sales counter and Neeko hopped up to sit next to me. “There was a group of Kindred a while back that believed whatever power enables me to world-hop lie in my blood. This led them to attempt to drain me dry. They failed, obviously.”
“Are you talking about that weird Kindred cult called Zephyr?” Victor asked. “Didn’t they all mysteriously die in Seattle ten years ago?”
“That was when The Falinn was closed for eight months or so,” Ziza put in. Seeing my raised eyebrows, she added, “I can’t help but remember since The Falinn’s almost never closed for anywhere near that length of time.”
“Yes, well, blood poisoning can be deadly,” I said. “Anyway, I learned that whatever the key was to what I can do wasn’t in my blood. I didn’t want to get taken by surprise by the next bunch of power-hungry maniacs, so I started doing some research.” I mean experimentation. “It turns out that my ability is tied to my spirit and not any part of my body.”
“Ah.” Moira sounded as if she should have thought of that already.
“I will have to share some of my spirit with each of you, weakening myself a little in the process, and in return you’ll have to make a small sacrifice.” I eyes them all. “You’ll each have to share a secret.”
“What do you mean?” Jack asked.
“You’ll have to give up a small piece of yourself. I made myself vulnerable, so must you as well. Don’t worry; you won’t have to speak your secret aloud, the magic will ensure that, but you have to know that this secret won’t be one of your choosing.” Lots of frowns. “I don’t know how it works, but that’s what happens.”
“It’s a very clever way of ensuring you are safe from those who would want to control Doors,” Moira mused. “I take it this method cannot be forced from you, that you must be willing to share you spirit for it to work?”
“Clever indeed,” she almost purred.
“It’s safe and no one has to drink any of my blood,” I heard Stian sigh and I beaned him with a sock monkey which had mysteriously appeared. “Your secret will be safe with me.”
Dory Fiamingo grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and now lives and writes in Stevenson, Washington, pop. 1,494, up the Columbia River Gorge. Her earlier novel, Daughter of Fire, and art, “Dory Fiamingo’s Sensuous Nude Paintings,” were published here at the Fictional Café.
Dory is seeking literary representation for her novel. Learn more about Dory at her website.